¬†In a joint operation with the carrier HMS Eagle, Dunedin was dispatched on 29th May 1941 to search for an enemy supply ship (not known at the time to be the Lothringen), reported as being somewhere in the region of 25 degrees North, 34 degrees West. After extensive searching, Eagle‚Äôs Swordfish aircraft spotted the tanker on 15th June and Dunedin, with one boiler out of action, made best speed to the scene. Dunedin found Lothringen damaged (from attacks by the Swordfish, including Jim Suthers) but still afloat as the Merchant Navy crewmembers had refused to scuttle her.
When Eagle arrived later in the evening, Dunedin had the situation well in hand and the Lothringen was ready to be steamed to¬†Bermuda. This was an important capture. Not only did it deny the Germans vital oil supplies for their U-boats, but also important Enigma material was found where it had fallen behind a filing cabinet in the wireless room.
In October 2006, a few months before he died, Jim Suthers wrote the following to the Dunedin Society:
My involvement with the Lothringen begins as described on page of 103 Blood in the Sea,” three other Swordfish from Eagle joined him (Camidge) around 3 pm”. We circled the German ship, continuously emptying a drum of 303 ammunition, courtesy of our rear gunners, on her whenever there were signs of movement on her decks. My observer, not my regular one, suddenly asked me over the inter-com whether I would carry out a low run over Lothringen, as he had something he wished to drop on her. I wasn’t keen (an understatement !!), and I asked him what was he planning on dropping. He replied that he had a lidded tin into which he had urinated and wanted to get back at the Germans following the bombing of his parent’s house. Very reluctantly I agreed and having informed our air gunner also unenthusiastic, I flew very low over the Lothringen at mast level and the object was lobbed over the side of my Swordfish the lid not detaching I am glad to say. No attempt was made by German crew members to fire at us, although we must have been sitting targets. By now Dunedin’s boarding party’s boat was coming alongside Lothringen and we had the frustrating view of seeing confidential books being thrown into the sea. There was nothing we could do about this without risking hitting the Dunedin’s boarding party. All of us in Eagle were impressed with the accurate intelligence information provided by the Admiralty not of course knowing anything about Bletchley Park at that time.¬†¬†
Here is an extract from¬†Jim’s obituary, published in the Daily Telegraph¬†on 27 March 2007. ¬†Click the image to enlarge.
¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†
One of three survivors on the first raft to be rescued by SS Nishmaha, along with Marine Bill Gill and ship’s joiner, Thomas Moore. Twenty-one men had originally made it to this raft.
Sgt Macauley joined the Royal Marine Light Infantry in October 1916 and, as far as is known, was the last of the old “Red Marines”. He was promoted to Corporal in 1922, Sergeant in 1935 and Colour Sergeant in 1940. He served in HMS Ark Royal, HMS Hawkins, HMS Dunedin and HMS Cleopatra. From 1954 to 1962 he was an instructor in the Royal Naval detention centre in Portsmouth dockyard.
He was married to Edith Muriel in 1932 and had four children.
He retired from the Marines in 1962 after 40 years in the service and died on 3rd October 1973.
Mentioned in Watson Report:
“He supported, without complaint, a badly wounded marine for 48 hours. In order to do this he was immersed to the shoulders for a prolonged period and must have suffered acute discomfort. The wounded man eventually died. Sergeant King‚Äôs patience and care were a valuable example at a time when the patience of others was wearing a little thin due to the hardship all were suffering.”
Joined Dunedin 18 March 1941. One of three remaining survivors on the first raft to be rescued. Recovered in Trinidad, returned to England on board the Awatea in January 1942.
On 28th July 2007, Bill’s wife died. They had met in 1943 in Oxford while they were both stationed at Farringdon barracks and married in 1946. The following message appeared on the front page of this web site in the weeks that followed Isabel’s death:
“It is with the deepest regret that I must announce the death of my Mother, Isabel Gill, wife of William Gill, President of the Dunedin Society. Isabel passed away just after 2.30 pm on Saturday 28th July, 2007,¬†in her home town, Brighton.¬† Those of you who knew her will remember her as a great supporter of the Dunedin Society. As a former Wren, attached to the Royal Marines during the Second World War, she never missed a Dunedin reunion and was always there beside my Father. She is sorely missed by all of us in her family.”
Stuart Gill, 29 July 2007
Sadly, six years later, I posted the following message on this website:
“It is with great regret that the Dunedin Society announces the death of Bill Gill, RM, Founding President of the Society and survivor of the sinking of HMS Dunedin. Bill passed away in Farnborough Hospital, Kent, on 29th October 2013 after a long illness, aged 92. He leaves behind him his three children, Michael, Annabel and Stuart and seven grandchildren. He is sorely missed.”