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On 12/09/04 there was "A Walk Through Time" and Mr Bill Land met up with Jim Cordy for the first time in 50 years.
"I noted in the current issue (October) of the magazine, the extract from the Lynn Advertiser 30 May 1941 re Jim Cordy and Jack and Don Dickenson. I’ve done a bit of research into Jim’s war efforts."
Jim’s war service was only just starting to get lively on HMS Sheffield. In February 1941 Sheffield had been part of the Mediterranean fleet that shelled Genoa — Sheffield fired over 200 6” shells in less than 30 minutes.
On 26th May 1941, having been brought out of the Mediterranean to find and shadow Bismark, she made contact at 5.30pm and suffered 5 fatal casualties when Bismark opened fire on her.
Sheffield later went back into the Mediterranean where she was part of the escort on a number of Malta convoys in which she was frequently attacked by enemy aircraft. In 1942, she was engaged escorting Russian convoys and returning from one of these she struck a mine and had to go into dock for repairs.
Jim Cordy was then sent to the Chatham Barracks where he decided to join submarines. Whilst waiting to go to HMS Dolphin at Gosport for his submarine course, a call was made for volunteers for an urgent assignment with a promise of a “Friday while” (Jackspeak for a long weekend pass!). Jim volunteered and found the assignment was digging up a UXB very adjacent to a 16” shell dump!
Jim eventually joined submarines and was posted to HMS Trident. Whilst in the Mediterranean in 1943, after carrying out one attack, they were subjected to 9 hours of depth charging during which 81 depth charges were dropped. On a later occasion, whilst reloading torpedo tubes, the boat ran into a fresh water patch and dropped like a stone. One of the torpedoes was damaged and Jim had his eyes damaged by oil being squirted into them and was blinded. When they eventually returned to the depot ship, he was taken into sickbay and after treatment was sent home to Haslar Royal Naval hospital at Gosport. After a few months of treatment, he had recovered his sight and was sent to Scotland to stand-by a new submarine being built. This boat, HMS Strongbow, was commissioned in 1944 and went out to the Far East —commanding officer Lieutenant Troup.
On Friday 13th January 1945, whilst on patrol in the Malacca Straits, Strongbow was attacked by 4 Japanese submarine chasers whilst in just 165 feet of water. The boat travelled 22 miles in total trying to escape. The attack was very accurate and Strongbow had her periscopes damaged and one main engine was moved sideways on its mountings and the boat was blasted to the bottom, severely damaged. The temperature in each compartment rose to 122o F. After a total of 26 very close depth charges being dropped, the Japanese departed and Strongbow made her escape.
Some time after the War, the captain who at the time of this escapade was Lieutenant Troup, got in touch with the Japanese Navy and was put in touch with the senior officer in charge of the attack on Strongbow and asked why they had not finished them off. His reply was “a lot of debris came to the surface — we assumed you were destroyed and in any case you had got to the edge of one of our minefields and it was not safe for us to go further”. Strongbow escaped through this minefield.
Lieutenant Troup was the second youngest man ever to pass the submarine commanding officers course at the tender age of 22. He eventually achieved the position to which all submarine commanding officers aspire, that of Flag Officer Submarines with the rank of Vice Admiral. He is still alive and now in his mid-80’s.
When anyone talks about unlucky Friday 13th, Jim Cordy just raises his eyes and smiles!