Polish Naval Memories of WWII









Zbigniew Węglarz, Lieutenant

ORP Błyskawica in Battle of Atlantic

Atlantic StormsWhile on convoy duty in the north Atlantic we were caught be a very heavy storm of hurricane category. It was 4th December 1941. Convoy nearly stopped, heavy rain drove in sheets and the motion of ships were extravagant. Keeping station was impossible, each one (hove) to weather. The waves were about 17 meters high, sometimes the head of watery cone would topple on board and swamp the deck. Side heeling up to 62 degrees. All lifeboats including their davits were gone, fore-deck and gun-shields were indented inside about 15cms. Number 2 torpedo – tube was damaged, steering gear jammed in position ‘Port 20’, main gyro out of action, compartments partly flooded through ventilating ducts and looks like after earthquake. Commanding officer Francki gave me order to collect some 12 men and proceed astern to compartments of steering gear to move rudder with manual control. Same order got 2nd Eng. Lieut. Czelusta to repair jammed steam-rudder gear. Steering by hands in this situation very difficult and accurate to only plus/minus ten degrees each side. After some two hours engineers repaired steam-engine rudder gear and moved slowly back to Scotland. This time we had one Polish Army news reporter. Unfortunately this trip was his first and last – all time he remained in cabin, unable to move and completely shocked. After two days, without rest or meals, we reached Greenock”.From ‘Poles Apart – Polish naval memories of World War 2’ by Martin Hazell, 2012


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