The bronze clutch control wheel from HMS Seraph, Operation Mincemeat 1942 2
Lot 359
The bronze clutch control wheel from HMS Seraph, Operation Mincemeat 1942 2
Sold for £1,500 (US$ 2,486) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
The bronze clutch control wheel from HMS Seraph, Operation Mincemeat 1942
with four assymetric spokes, the boss stamped 874 Port, the rim marked Clutch in/out, with two handles removed. 18ins. (46cm)diam.
Together with a photograph taken at Briton Ferry in 1965 where the submarine was broken up. (2)

Footnotes

  • HMS Seraph was an "S" Class submarine, built by Vickers Armstrong at Barrow and launched in 1941. After commissioning, she joined the 8th Submarine Flotilla in the Mediterranean and was soon selected to carry out intelligence and special operations.

    Her first significant task was Operation "Flagpole", a secret mission in September 1942 carrying the US Lieut. General Mark Clark to North Africa to negotiate with Vichy France. Following another operation with French and American forces, she rammed a German U Boat and was returned to the UK, refitting at Blyth. In April 1943 she set sail from Holy Loch carrying the frozen corpse of "Major Martin RM" as part of the famous Operation "Mincemeat".

    She continued in service in the Mediterranean, taking part in the invasion of Sicily, then serving in the Atlantic and Norwegian sea until acting as guide ship in the Normandy landings.

    In 1944 she was converted for special high-speed underwater operation experiments, which included removing her guns, reducing the bridge and special streamlining. Later she was adapted as a torpedo target vessel, with special armour plating, until decommissioned in 1962. She was towed to Briton Ferry for breaking up in 1965. Parts of the vessel were saved, including the this clutch wheel, parts of her periscope and her conning tower, preserved at the Citadel, South Carolina.

    Operation "Mincemeat".
    During the build-up for the invasion of Sicily, it was realised that such a massive operation could hardly escape the German's attention, so a plan was proposed to convince the enemy that Greece and Sardinia where the intended targets.

    Following a suggestion from Flt.Lieut. Charles Cholmondley and Lieut.Comm. Ewan Montagu at MI5, the body of a deceased Welsh vagrant Glyndrw Michael was secured by the London coroner and the false identity of Captain William Martin RM was created, with false personal papers, letter and photographs. Attached to the body was a briefcase containing a collection of supposedly Top Secret papers outlining the allies' plans for the false invasion.

    The body, dressed in uniform battledress, was loaded into a canister of dry ice and put aboard HMS Seraph who subsequently placed it in the sea off Huelva in Spain (where there was a known German intelligence agent) to be discovered by a fisherman. It was assumed that "Captain Martin" has drowned following an air crash.

    The body was handed over to the British authorities in Spain for post-mortum and burial, followed later by the briefcase of documents, which had been secretly copied by the Germans who had swallowed the entire fiction, directing valuable forces away from Sicily.

    Following the War, the episode was written up by Ewan Montagu in his book The Man That Never Was and the subsequent film.
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