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Old 11-08-2007, 06:10 AM   #1
Linton
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Default Vice Admiral Sir Arthur Hezlet

HEZLET, Sir Arthur Richard (born 1914), Vice Admiral Service biography
Joined Submarine branch, RN 1935; World War II 1939-1945, commanding HM Submarine H44, HM Submarine URSULA, HM Submarine TRIDENT, HM Submarine THRASHER, and HM Submarine TRENCHANT; commanding HMS SCORPION 1949-1950; Chief Staff Officer to Flag Officer (Submarines) 1953-1954; Capt (D), 6 Destroyer Sqn 1955-1956; Director of RN Staff College, Greenwich 1956-1957; commanding HMS NEWFOUNDLAND 1958-1959; Flag Officer (Submarines) from 1959 #to 1961; Flag Officer (Scotland) 1961-1962; Flag Officer, Scotland and Northern Ireland 1963-1964; retired 1964

I have recently learned that this officer has recently passed away.
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Old 11-08-2007, 06:51 AM   #2
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More on the Admiral:


The second vessel to bear the name 'Trenchant' was a 'T' class diesel submarine built at Chatham Dockyard in 1943, before she completed construction 'Trenchant' was assigned the then crew of HM/SM Thrasher when the latter was taken in for refit. This included one Lieutenant Commander A R Hezlet who became the youngest commanding officer in the RN at that time.
In September of 1943 HM/SM Trenchant was assigned to the 4th submarine squadron based in Trincomalee, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Trenchant's initial service in the waters around south east Asia and the Pacific included the delivery of members of the SBS (special boat service) on a mission to destroy a bridge over the River Peudana along the north coast of Sumatra and the laying of a minefield in Aru bay in the Malacca straits which succeeded in the confirmed sinking of at least two enemy merchant vessel's.
On the 23rd of September 1944 Trenchant sighted the German submarine U859 running on the surface off Penang, Trenchant attacked with 3 stern torpedoes one of which hit below the conning tower, sending the German submarine to the bottom. After U859 sank Trenchant surfaced and recovered 17 survivors of U859's crew including her captain and transported them as POW's to Trincomalee, U859's CO Kapitanleutnant Johann Jebson congratulated Cmdr Hezlet and Trenchants crew on the sinking of his U-boat.
Cmdr Hezlet and his Officers Trenchant continued in her task of seeking out and sinking enemy shipping throughout the rest of 1944 and early 1945. Her biggest success however came on the 7th June 1945 when Trenchant was on patrol off the Banka strait when a communication was received from a US submarine that they had sighted a Japanese cruiser in Trenchant's vicinity escorted by a destroyer. Cmdr Hezlet calculated the course that the enemy warships would use and set a course to intercept them. His calculations turned out to be correct. The warships were sighted just over a mile off shore. This area was assigned to the US Navy and Cmdr Hezlet therefore had to ask permission to engage the cruiser from Rear-Admiral R A J Fife USN. This was granted and an interception successfully achieved. The cruiser was the Japanese Nachi class heavy cruiser 'Ashigara'.
Ships Company HM/SM Trenchant As it was night Trenchant was running on the surface to recharge her batteries, it was while on the surface that the Ashigara's escort destroyer was first sighted. Trenchant remained on the surface as Cmdr Hezlet did not want to risk losing contact by submerging. The Japanese destroyer however sighted the Trenchant and proceeded to open fire on her at little more than point blank range. Trenchant returned fire with one torpedo. This missed but Trenchant did succeed in evading the destroyer.
Trenchant finally submerged at dawn and proceeded to lay in wait for the Ashigara. The escort destroyer continued its search for Trenchant and the Ashigara followed after a short interval. Trenchant manoeuvred as close as possible in order to affect the best firing solution. When this was done she fired all eight of her bow torpedoes. Cmdr Hezlet then downed the periscope and waited for the torpedoes to hit. The Ashigara was about 2 miles away when the torpedoes were fired and this was the limit of their range. After 3 minutes Cmdr Hezlet put up the periscope again just in time to see 5 torpedoes strike the Ashigara sending columns of water higher than her mainmast.
The 10,000 ton Ashigara After this the Ashigara was obscured by smoke, making it impossible to carry out a damage assessment for some minutes. When she became visible again it was possible to see she was stopped dead in the water and on fire with a heavy list, some of her crew already abandoning ship.
The Ashigara had been built with a triple hull and the Japanese were confident that this gave her the greatest possible protection against torpedo attack.
Nonetheless Trenchant's torpedoes blew a portion of her bows clean off. This caused part of her upper structure to fall into the sea. Cmdr Hezlet proceeded to manoeuvre Trenchant to bring his stern torpedo tubes to bear on the stricken cruiser. It was during this time that Cmdr Hezlet decided to let over 30 of the ship's company look through the periscope at the sinking cruiser. The crew of the Ashigara however sighted Trenchant's periscope and opened fire with an anti-aircraft gun. Cmdr Hezlet took control of the periscope again (after a lengthy wait in the queue) and upon doing so sighted the escort destroyer approaching him high speed. Trenchant withdrew to deeper water and successfully evaded the destroyer. The Ashigara sank 30 minutes later.

Cmdr Hezlet receiving
the US Legion of Merit The sinking of the Ashigara earned Cmdr Hezlet a congratulatory signal from flag officer submarines, Admiral Barry. He was also awarded a second DSM and the US Legion of Merit, the highest honour the US can bestow upon a foreign commander, this was presented by Rear-Admiral R A J Fife at Subic Bay in the Philippines. Trenchant's attack on the Ashigara was later described as one of the most brilliant attacks of the war earning Trenchant the battle honour Malaya 1944-45.
The Ashigara was the last major warship to be sunk by a British submarine until the Argentine cruiser 'General Belgrano' was sunk by HM/SM Conquerer during the Falklands Campaign in 1982.
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Old 11-08-2007, 07:18 PM   #3
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And another cool connection to the subject we all love.

Thanks, Linton!
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Old 11-08-2007, 11:29 PM   #4
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Thanks for the info, and my respects to his next of kin.
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Old 11-09-2007, 12:02 AM   #5
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My type of hero. Thanks Linton.
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Old 11-09-2007, 02:46 PM   #6
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Very interesting sir

Deepest sympathy to the next of kin.
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