SUBMARINERS past and present mustered in Newton Abbot last Sunday to remember those lost at sea - and in particular the crew of the Royal Navy wartime submarine HMS Triumph.

The memorial service at St Paul’s Church and subsequent a wreath laying  was organised by the town’s Royal British Legion branch, who adopted the current HMS Triumph, a Trafalgar class nuclear-powered  hunter-killer submarine, several years ago.

HMS Triumph (N18) was laid down by Vickers at Barrow-in-Furness and launched in 1938. The boat was lost in transit in 1942, with a crew of 64, and its fate was unknown until the sunken boat was rediscovered in June last year.

HMS Triumph on service during the Second World War
HMS Triumph on service during the Second World War (-)

‘She was used for covert operations, such as landing agents in German-occupied areas, ‘ said Newton Abbot RBL’s vice chairman Dave Carr.

‘In  December 1941 she undertook one such mission, in which she successfully landed agents at Antiparos, Greece on the December 30. She failed to pick up the agents as scheduled on January 9 and was lost probably to a collision with a mine. All sixty-four crew were lost.’ 

In June 2023 Greek researchers discovered the lost submarine in the Aegean Sea at a depth of 203 metres. She rests on the seabed of the open sea with an 8-degree starboard list. 

The lowered periscopes and sealed hatches testify that the Triumph was in a deep dive during its last moments. The diving planes and rudder are in a straight position, indicating that it was at a steady depth.  

‘When we heard about  news of the discovery  the committee pledged to honour those lost,’ continued Dave. 

‘This was especially apt as the present HMS Triumph, our adopted boat,  was awarded the freedom of Newton Abbot in 2019, a freedom they exercised last April with a parade, with fixed bayonets, through the town’s streets,’  

The well attended service was taken by Rev. Gareth Regan and was attended by some of the crew of the current HMS Triumph, members of the Submariners Association, the Royal British Legion, with the County Chair in attendance as well as officers from Newton Abbot branch, Royal Naval Association,, town councillors, and other military associations.

HMS Triumph service
(Steve Pope / MDA)

The service included readings by Lieutenant Peter Reynolds of HMS Triumph, and Councillor Louise Cooke.  

A brief history of the boat was given by Brian Hall MBE of the Submariners Association and prior to the Last Post being sounded Ian Hurst read a roll call of those lost in the sinking. 

Following the church service wreaths were laid at the town War Memorial, led by a representative of HMS Triumph.