The SBS Royal Marines

Whilst it is very true that the four non sailors aboard the boat were Royal Marines, nothing ever seems to be mentioned that they were in fact all trained SBS personnel. They were on the boat to carry out further training in exiting submarines etc.

I have just watched the DVD sent to me by Martin Allen. I have mentioned to him previously that I was supposed to be on the boat but on the night prior to it sailing I swapped places with Marine Hooper who had never done any training on a sub. Since those days the SBS has become the finest part of the British armed forces. In fact we thought we were at that time too but we kept very quiet about our qualities, whereas the SAS boasted about theirs. Below is an article I wrote about my own feelings for the benefit of my children. I was indeed a very lucky man and I know it.

HM Submarine Affray and my Guilty Conscience. By Tom Crosbie

One of my claims to fame with my children and grand children is as follows.

I had just finished the (SBS) SC3 course way back in 1951 and was wondering where I would be posted to. We had been told we had at least a week to while away before anything would happen. So I had arranged with Laura my girlfriend, to travel up to Liverpool and see her. Then much to my surprise, on reading the notice board I spotted my name on daily orders. I had been named as one of the marines who would be taking part in an exercise on board HM Submarine Affray, that very weekend. Of course I was quite willing to go, but one of my friends and course mates in the next bed to me Marine Hooper was even keener, (I had done one of these exercises previously and he hadn’t) so he volunteered to take my place, if we could arrange it with the C.O. who was at that time I think, Major Bruce. This we duly did.

The rest is, of course history. I have lived a long life but must admit at having pangs of guilt every time this subject comes up. Marine Hooper was a lovely man, I can see his face forever smiling and he had such a happy disposition.

I often wonder what happened down there, If George Hooper hadn’t volunteered for a swap there is no doubt I would have found out the hard way. Sorry George!

The girl I went to meet up in Liverpool, was my childhood sweetheart and became my wife, we were married for 57 very happy year before I lost her to bile duct cancer. So I still count my blessings every single day.

This next part was written last year obviously (2012)

Next weekend on the 14th of April I am on my way, with a group of ex SBS lads and submariners to a service commemorating the loss of and dedicating a memorial to HM Submarine Affray. This will be taking place on the 16thof April, (61 years to the day) in Alderney in the Channel Islands and above the boat on the seabed in Hurd Deep. I am looking forward to meeting old friends and having a few drinks. I believe there will also be relatives of the lost souls there as well. I am not sure how I will feel when, and if, I meet any of George Hooper’s relatives.

There have been numerous reports and theories as to what happened to HMS Affray. Most of them seem to point to a faulty Snorkel. But there are also conflicting theories. Some say most of the boats crew were lacking in experience, others that the boat was overdue a refit. Maybe it was a combination of all of these things.

I think HMS Affray is the last British submarine lost at sea. Let’s hope it stays that way!

Thomas (Bing) Crosbie