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The Front of Our Ship Was Blown Away

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The Front of Our Ship Was Blown Away

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The Front of Our Ship Was Blown Away
Among the survivors of the destroyer HMS Whirlwind, whose loss was announced by the Admiralty on 8 July 1940, was Leading Stoker C. A. Cairns. His story of the torpedo in of his ship, and of his escape was told exclusively to The War Illustrated.

Recounting his experiences with the discretion, which is officially required, Leading Stoker Cairns said, I had just come off duty and was resting in the canteen flat reading a book. When there was a terrific explosion.
I was flung through the air and fell into an oil tank. The inrush of water, floated me clear and I managed to grab one of the twisted, girders and succeeded in scrambling out of the tank. We crawled towards the stern to await and hope for a rescue. We were unable to launch the boats as they had been damaged. Eventually, a British aeroplane appeared and after circling round twice went away, apparently for assistance.

While we were waiting, the officers amongst us served out tots of whisky. The spirits of the men were excellent and the discipline good. Later another warship hove in sight and after a while we were taken aboard her. We saw the HMS Whirlwind, go down as we were steaming away. I did not sustain any serious injury, but I was soaked through and covered with oil from the tank into which I had fallen, so that the baths and change of clothes we were provided with on the rescue ship were very much appreciated. It was later to be discovered that it was in fact U-34, which sank HMS Whirlwind.

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Sources

The Second Great War.
Edited by Sir John Hamilton

The War Illustrated.
Edited by Sir John Hamilton

2194 Days Of War.
ISBN-10: 086136614X

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