H M Submarine Swordfish (S61), Royal Navy
Died on Thursday, 7th November 1940 aged 25
Harry Arthur Stacey was the second son of Major Gerald Arthur Stacey (1881-1916) (killed in action during WW1) and Annette Hope Neild (1894-1964). He married Una Dorothy Anne Naish (1913-1999) at the Royal Naval College Greenwich on 17 December 1938.
After Harry’s death, Una married Charles Edward Fulcher Reffell (1909-1972) in 1947 at Chelsea. Charles was also in the navy during WW2.
Harry was the recipient of the Royal Humane Society’s Bronze Medal for the rescue of Lieutenant Commander HG Bowerman and Able Seaman Gluckes, from the sinking HMS Oxley on 10 September 1939.
H M Submarine Swordfish (S61) was launched at Chatham the first of the “S” Class submarines, on 10 November 1931. Bigger and heavier than the previous “R” class, the submarine was designed for a crew of 38. She sailed from Portsmouth for a patrol off of Brest France on 7 November 1940, but was not heard from again. Swordfish failed to signal back to base as scheduled a week later. At the time she was believed to have been sunk in the Bay of Biscay, either mined or by German destroyers.
The Admiralty officially announced on 23 December 1940 that the Swordfish was overdue and must be presumed lost, and that next of kin had been informed. On 5 February 1941, a detailed list of those lost was published in newspapers, consisting of 5 officers and 36 ratings.
However, the wreck was discovered during July 1983 in 46 meters of water a few miles south of St. Catherine’s Point on the Isle of Wight, confirming that it was sunk shortly after leaving base by a German mine. She appears to have sunk with all hands on that day, although a number of other sources (including the Commonwealth War Graves Commission) still state the original 16 November date.
The wreck was found to be in very good condition but in two halves. The forward hydroplanes were set to ‘dive’ and the bridge telegraph was still at ‘slow ahead’. Hull damage strongly suggested that it had struck a mine and there were indications that some of the crew had tried to escape via an open escape hatch.
Panel 37, Column 1; Portsmouth Naval Memorial
The photograph of Harry Arthur Stacey is owned and provided by the kind courtesy of Mary Hope Trevanion & Christina Trevanion, who also provided the personal information.