Some New Zealanders who have served with RN or RAN have served in submarines. Read a list of those that the Museum has been able to identify to date.
First World War:
Reardon, Able Seaman John
Died on active operations serving in HMAS AE1 off Duke of York Island on or about 19 September 1919. Is first New Zealander to be killed on active operations during the war.
Wilson, Able Seaman Archibald
Taken as a POW serving in HMAS AE2. Not much is known and it is unknown if he survived captivity in Turkey.
Second World War:
Le Gros, Petty Officer ‘Froggy’ P.E. RNZN
Petty Officer Le Gros joined the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy in 1939 as a 2nd Class Stoker. On the outbreak of the war he was posted to the cruiser HMS Leander and whilst serving in the Mediterranean volunteered for service in submarines joining the submarine HMS Torbay in mid 1941. Then followed a series of operational patrols which remain a legend within the Royal Navy. Torbay was under the command of Lieutenant Commander Miers. They took off soldiers from Crete, during which time (Froggy) Le Gros swam a life line to enable the soldiers to float out to Torbay. They landed a commando team in Libya whose aim was to capture General Rommel. They followed a convoy into Corfu harbour; they decimated the ships in the harbour with torpedoes and then made their escape. For this latter action Lieutenant Commander Miers was awarded the VC and Froggy Le Gros Mentioned in Dispatches. Every man in the crew in fact received an award for this action. These are quite remarkable stories. He also served in Torbay in the North Atlantic and at the end of the war was a member of the crew of a captured German U-Boat.
Purdy, Sub-Lieutenant Derek N. RNZNVR
Drowned when midget submarine X24 lost in North Sea 9 September 1944.
Smith, Lieutenant William L.J. ‘Kiwi’ RNZNVR
After D-Day Smith was drafted to HMS Varbel to train on midget submarines, eventually becoming Commanding Officer of one of the training craft, before being made First Lieutenant of the operational submarine XE6, for which the HMS Bonaventure served as depot ship. XE6 and Bonaventure were sent south to the eastern coast of Australia. With the tragic loss of two senior officers in separate diving accidents the submarine flotilla had a complete reshuffle of crew which resulted in Smith becoming first lieutenant on XE3. On 31 July 1945 XE3 carried out a successful attack as part of Operation STRUGGLE on the Japanese cruiser Takao berthed at the naval base in Singapore, an action for which he received the DSO.
Speed, Able Seaman Frederick A. RNZNVR
Died of an accident serving in HMS Parthian 13 October 1942 in the Mediterranean.
Spencer, Able Seaman Kenneth H.
Serving in HMS Tetrarch when she was lost in the Western Mediterranean 2 November 1941.
Thode, Lieutenant C.P ‘Con’ RNZVR
Served in submarines 1939-1945 HMS Scythian – was a commanding officer.