A Great War Anti-U-boat Operations D.S.M. Group
A Great War anti-U-boat operations D.S.M. awarded to Engineman P. Champ, Royal Naval Reserve Distinguished Service Medal, G.V.R. (TS. 2514 P. Champ, Engn., R.N.R., Majesty, North Sea, 24 Nov. 1917); 1914-15 Star (TS. 2514 P. Champ, Tr. Ck., R.N.R.); British War and Victory Medals (2514 T.S. P. Champ, Engn., R.N.R.), the last with officially re-impressed naming, very fine and better. Footnote: D.S.M. London Gazette 22 February 1918: For services in action with enemy submarines. Percy Champ, who was born in Halstow, Kent, in March 1895, joined the Royal Naval Reserve as a Trimmer in March 1915. Having then served at the Ramsgate Auxiliary Patrol base Ceto until July 1917, he removed in the rate of Engineman to H.M. Drifter Majesty, which, in company with another drifter and the destroyer H.M.S. Gipsy, engaged and destroyed the German submarine U-48, which had run aground on the Goodwin Sands. Keble Chattertons Beating the U-Boats takes up the story: Perhaps one of the most pleasing (to us) incidents of the last war took place on 24 November 1917, but it really begins on 21 November when U-48 left Wilhelmshaven bound for the Irish coast via the Dover Straits. This story is one more illustration of the bad pilotage and seamanship that gradually deteriorated Germanys personnel. Had she already used up most of the better-grade material; or was carelessness becoming marked beyond all belief? On the afternoon of the 23rd, 60 miles east of Dover, U-48 began her mournful adventures when she was concealing herself below water so as to sit on the bottom till nightfall. She would resume her passage through the Dover Straits, but one of our aeroplanes exploded a bomb too near for her pleasure; and about 7.30 that night U-48 was motoring along the surface heading for the Straits when apparently Buch (her commanding officer) lost his navigational way, and being too far west fouled the old net barrage near the North Goodwins. Portions still were festooned along the propellers, her oil engines began to give trouble, and even on the surface she was compelled to use her electric motors. It was an anxious night. But at 3 a.m. U-48 gave a sudden bump and brought up all standing at the N.W. corner of the Goodwins. Had she then made no allowance for the hot tide which carried her on? Not a delightful situation this dark November night, terribly near the Ramsgate base and U-48 making herself a bed in the sands which have swallowed so many vessels up in the past centuries. Although Buch tried lightening her by discharging 60 tons of oil-fuel, his drinking water, three of his torpedoes, and much of his ammunition, trying also to ease her off by working his engines, U-48 still would not could not rise from the bed which she had dug for herself. To make matters worse, tide was ebbing. But when 6.30 a.m. came round again and the two drifters Majesty with Paramount were sweeping the War Channel at twilight just before daybreak about 1.5 miles N.E. of the Gull Lightship, the submarine had become sighted. She was fired on by one of our trawlers, by the drifters, and H.M. Destroyer Gipsy. Like a pack of hounds these little ships leapt after U-48. Suddenly they concentrated their fire. H.M. Drifter Feasible got so near the sands that she kept a couple of hands working the lead. Blazing away with their 6-pounders, 3-pounders and the rat-tat of the Maxims to which the German replied with her 4.1-inch shells, the fight was eagerly brightening up and the Gipsys 12-pounder was helping matters. German shells were falling all round the drifters. But the submarine received 13 hits and after 15 minutes was seen to be on fire forward. The Hun crew leapt overboard, the submarine blew up and there were rescued merely one officer and 21 men of the 43. It was a fine little show in which these fishermen cared nothing except to fire their guns. Wind and sea were rising, but the engineers off watch were keenly handing up ammunition and with this united zeal the small craft won 1000 presented by the Admiralty but likewise robbed the proud Germany of that big U-48 213 feet long. Who would have expected that a handful of wooden fishing craft could make the Huns Navy so ridiculous? Champ was awarded the D.S.M. and was demobilised in March 1919.