Dennis Ivan Lane (1924 - 1942)

After I posted the article on the Beighton Rail Disaster of 1942, I was contacted by someone whose attention was drawn to my reference to HMS Partridge. She was trying to obtain information on her late uncle who was aboard the destroyer when it was torpedoed in the Mediterranean on 18th December 1942. Sadly, her uncle who she never met, did not survive the encounter and is honoured on the Chatham Naval Memorial.

Name: LANE, DENNIS IVAN
Initials: D I
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Ordinary Telegraphist
Regiment: Royal Navy
Unit Text: H.M.S. Partridge
Age: 18
Date of Death: 18/12/1942
Service No: C/JX 301274
Additional information: Son of Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Lane, of Rayleigh, Essex.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Ref  59, 3.
Cemetery: Chatham Naval Memorial.

She is trying to put together as much information as she can on her late uncle Dennis and so if anyone has any information on Dennis, please can they contact me

There is also an account of the actual sinking of HMS Partridge  that was recalled on  "Excerpt from a LifeStories project :"Of the Sea" . A Canadian called Elmer who was a stoker on board the destroyer at the time of the sinking gave his recollections of the incident. These were re-encountered on CBC radio's  Metro Morning Dec. 11, 2001. 

TORPEDOED OFF OF ORAN

"The morning of December 18, 1942 we were not far off the coast of Oran, Algeria.

It was just after eight oíclock. On British ships, breakfast was coffee or cocoa, not like on Canadian ships. I had just come off duty and was lying down with my life jacket as a pillow on the mess deck, one deck below, when all of a sudden, BOOM!

We all scrambled to our feet. We knew what was happening. The ship had stopped. There was mass confusion. I grabbed my life jacket but I didnít have enough time, or breath, to blow it up. It was useless.

By the time I got upstairs, the ship was leaning over on its starboard side.

I remember seeing the Captain. Heíd been caught in the middle of shaving. He came out on the bridge with one side of his face lathered and yells, "Stick by the ship, boys. Stick by the ship." We yelled back, "F-you!" It was every man for himself.

I just walked down the port side into the water.

It was quite warm, not freezing like the North Atlantic. Besides I was too excited to be cold. We were wearing our clothes anyways. You donít undress during wartime at sea. And you never shower, maybe take a little sponge bath. A lot of times you canít even do that because of the scarcity of drinking water on board.

I swam over to the life raft and grabbed onto the line hanging from it. There were a lot of guys hanging on. Too many. The raft was sinking. The Lieutenant who was in charge, asks in his plummy accent, for a volunteer to leave. He had no intention of leaving himself. Because of my swimming ability I volunteered. I let go and made my way over to a two by eight piece of wood floating on the surface.

One of the chaps from the engine room was struggling. He was a British guy. I never knew his name. He couldnít swim very well so I swam the two by eight over to him and he grabbed on. Then the two of us paddled our way over to the other destroyer.

Our sister ship, HMS Porcupine was maybe a mile away. But it hung back. We knew they couldnít come in to rescue us. They were afraid they would be torpedoed. So we just waited in the water.

I think it helped, spiritually, that we were together.

The ship sank in just seven minutes.

The sea was covered in bunker oil. Pretty near the whole shipís company was bobbing in the water. It was chaos. I tried to keep my head up but you couldnít avoid swallowing some oil. Thatís why I ended up the way I did. It brought on the arthritis.

Then there were the depth charges. The Partridge went down so fast they didnít have time to set them to safety so they were going off underneath us. I opened my mouth and hollered to release the pressure building up inside my body. A doctor told me later that saved my life.

We never saw the submarine. It fired one torpedo. The engine room took a direct hit. Of the three Canadians working there I was the only one to get out alive. One chap, a nice young kid from Chatham, Ontario went down with the ship. Weíd been out the night before. At the time I should have notified his parents to see what I could do to console them. I never did and itís fried on my conscience ever since.

The other guy was adrift, absent without official leave, so he wasnít even on board. In one sense, you could say he was lucky.

We were in the water maybe a couple of hours in total. The British chap and I swam until we reached the other destroyer. They had nets out over the side and with the help of the crew we were able to get aboard. Thatís all I remember.

We ended up in Gibraltar where we had time to tour some of other ships in the fleet. We were on HMS Nelson, the biggest battleship in the Royal Navy.

Eventually we were sent back to Scotland and then they gave us twenty-eight days survivorís leave. We went down to London and really whooped it up, drank, enjoyed it to the fullest. I was no saint. It was live for today.

Not long ago, I learned the name of the man who sank us. He was Wilhelm Franken, Lt. Commander of U-565. He was the same age as I was but he didnít make it through the War. He died in a fire in Kiel in 1945." 

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This page was last updated on 03/02/05 14:47

I am seeking information about H.M.S. PARTRIDGE.  My Uncle, Arthur Williams was an 18 year sailor who was killed when she was torpedoed on 18 December 1942. I would be grateful for any information. ericgraham525@hotmail.com