Daily Event for March 12

March 12, 1918 while on an anti-submarine patrol in the English Channel HMS D-3 was spotted by the French airship AT-0. A series of blunders followed leading to the loss of the D-3. Working with forces other than your own leads to communication problems and operational differences. Such was the case of the D-3.

When she was seen by the airship Lt. Maitland, D-3's commander, fired recognition rockets to identify his boat as an ally. This was problematic for two reasons. One was that Lt. Saint Remy, the commander of the AT-0, thought the rockets were being fired at his airship in an attempt to shoot him down. And since the AT-0 was filled with hydrogen, rockets were frequently used. The second reason was that rockets were not the recognized inter-allied recognition signal.

To compound this D-3 immediately did a crash dive. This gave the impression that they were indeed an enemy boat. Of course the dive was probably in response to being fired on by the airship. The gunner's on the AT-0 used machine guns in response to the rockets.

Another blunder occurred when the French did not see the recognition mark on the D-3. (A white circle on a black background painted on the submarine's fore hatch.) After the D-3 dove the French dropped 6 depth charges on them. That was all it took. The D-3 briefly broke the surface once again and then plunged headlong into the depths. Four men managed to get off the boat before she went under and while swimming around one yelled up at the airship "You got us". Lt. Saint Remy now realized he had sunk a British submarine and made all haste in locating a rescue ship. Sadly before one could be found all four of D-3's surviving crewmen drowned. In all twenty nine British submariners died on the D-3 because of a series of mistakes made by both sides.
© 2006 Michael W. Pocock