In the Navik Overview I describe briefly the attack by the British into the Fjord. Recently (March 2008) I was lucky enough to meet James Renshaw, who was an Able Seaman on H.M.S. Hunter, and survived the attack. Also in the same month the wreck of ‘Hunter’ was discovered in 305 metres by the Norwegian Navy during a training exercise. The wreck will now be designated a War Grave.
Jim was a delight to talk to and this is what he told me of those dark days of the battle of Narvik. He was only twenty two at the time. The attack was led by Hardy with Hunter, Havelock, Hotspur, and Hostile following. Two attacks were successfully carried out, but on the third attack at about 0330 all ships met with heavy gunfire from the German destroyers. At this point Warburton Lee gave the order for all ships to retire under cover of smoke screens. By this time the gunfire had become very severe and our retreat was partially cut off by six German destroyers who had been at anchor in the Fjord
In addition to being badly holed forward, Hotspur’s steering gear and starboard engine were put out of action resulting in Hotspur colliding with Hunter amidships. At this point Hunters Captain, Lt Commander Linsey de Villiers gave orders for everyone to abandon ship, which proceeded in quite an orderly manner considering that we were still under heavy gunfire. After about ten minutes Hotspur managed to free herself and retire, leaving Hunter with a great hole in her side listing to starboard and virtually a total wreck with her engine room rapidly filling with water. The ship was abandoned in about fifteen minutes with the crew flinging themselves into the freezing water. The time was about 0615, and by 0630 the ship had disappeared all together.
After swimming around for the best part of an hour we were all picked up by three German Destroyers.The water temperature was 12% F below freezing and this alone must have accounted for the large number of causalities. Of the crew of 156 (8 officers and 148 ratings) only forty six survived
After swimming around for the best part of an hour we were all picked up by three German Destroyers.The water temperature was 12% F below freezing and this alone must have accounted for the large number of causalities. Of the crew of 156 (8 officers and 148 ratings) only forty six survived. All the survivors said that the Germans treated them very well, doing everything they could for their comfort. Besides being given brandy and other spirits to revive them, they were all bathed and given clothes. At 1000 hours all survivors were landed, thirty being put up in the German whaling ship Jan Wellem and fourteen placed in the Iris Café. One officer and three ratings were taken to hospital. We all spent three weeks here as prisoners of war until being sent to Sweden. This was still under German control and we had to stay there for two and a half years.