During the night of 14/15 June 1942 German E-Boats of the 3rd Flotilla left their Eastern Mediterranean base at Derna to intercept an Allied convoy bound for the island of Malta. Just before 04.00, under the command of Leutnant Siegfried Wuppermann, the motor torpedo boat S-56 slipped past two Royal Navy escort destroyers to make a stern attack on the British cruiser HMS Newcastle.
Alerted to the incoming attack, suddenly a searchlight at Newcastle's foremast switched on, illuminating S-56 from stem to stern. Reacting quickly, Wuppermann fired two torpedoes in quick succession from 600 yards, and turned hard to starboard to make good his escape. A second searchlight aboard Newcastle pinpointed S-56, but by then it was too late. Travelling at 33 knots, under fire from the escorts, S-56 threw out a smoke screen and released depth charges as a distraction, and disappeared into the darkness.
Robert Taylor's action packed painting shows S-56 some thirty seconds after release of her torpedoes, as the first explodes against the hull of HMS Newcastle. The second missed. The cruiser, though badly damaged, managed to limp back to Alexandria.
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Henry Leach GCB DL
Serving throughout World War II, Henry Leach was a young Lieutenant in the forward 14" turret of HMS Duke of York during the sinking of the German battleship Scharnhorst. From 1953 - 55 he was Gunnery Officer of HMS Newcastle, and is a Patron of the Newcastle Association. He commanded the destroyer Dunkirk, was Frigate Squadron Leader in Galatea, the carrier Albion, and became First Sea Lord, and Chief of Naval Staff in 1979.
Lieutenant John Baber RNVR
One of HMS Newcastle's crew on the night of 14/15 June 1942. Posted to HMS Newcastle in January 1942, he was one of the three lookouts alongside the ship's open Bridge, and his action station was in the cordite chamber under 'Y' turret. Later, he was commissioned in early 1943,and served with Coastal Forces, carrying out sweeps in the Channel against E-boats and armed trawlers.
Able Seaman Wilfred Marriott RN
Wilfred Marriott joined the Royal Navy in May 1941 and his first ship was HMS Newcastle. Trained on Newcastle as a torpedo-man, he served on the ship throughout the Mediterranean. After the attack upon her by German E-boats, he remained with the ship to New York for repairs, and stayed with the Newcastle until the end of the war.
Signalman Arthur Deakin RN
Joining the Royal Navy in April 1941, HMS Newcastle was Arthur's first ship and he joined her in January 1942. He served as a Signalman on the ship's Flag deck and Bridge, and was returning there when the torpedo struck. He eventually left the Newcastle in Mombassa, in July 1942.
Chief Petty Officer Rupert Stant RN
After escaping from Singapore, Rupert joined HMS Newcastle in Ceylon, in March 1942. He was a Chief Petty Officer in charge of the forward Engine Room at the time of the E-boat attack and, after the initial repairs in Aden, stayed with the ship on her voyage to America. He remained with the Newcastle until April 1946.
Overall print size: 26 1/4" wide x 19 3/4" high.