SURRENDER OF U-190 TO HMCS THORLOCK – by James D. Haigh, CPO ERA 3c submitted by Maureen Ellison
HMCS Thorlock K394 – The German submarine, U-190, had signalled its position to RCN Shore Authorities in Newfoundland. Just before noon on May 11, 1945, the frigate HMCS Victoriaville and the corvette HMCS Thorlock received orders to detach from our convoy (ON 300) and proceed to the given position to search for and accept the surrender of the U-190.
Aboard the Thorlock we prepared for the possible capture of the sub. The stokers’ mess was cleared for prisoners, a boarding party was organized, and an armed upper deck party was detailed to cover the sub’s deck and receive prisoners. Being faster, Victoriaville drew away from us and was out of sight when Emile Houde, a stoker on our corvette, saw the riding lights of the sub at 1957 hours. A signal was sent to the Victoriaville and we approached the U-190, illuminating their deck with our searchlight at 2017 hours. Our guns were trained on her as our boarding party of 11 men boarded the sub without meeting any resistance. The Commander of the U-190 surrendered at 2033 hours, May 11, 1945, to Lieut. R. O. Blachford, Exec. Officer, HMCS Thorlock. (note: James Haigh was part of the armed group which covered the U-boat’s deck from the bow of the Thorlock during the boarding)
At 2059 hours radar reported contact 020 range 15,000 yards, as Victoriaville soon arrived on the scene and the transfer of prisoners began. Thorlock had approximately five German officers and 20-25 ratings on board from the sub. The original boarding party was augmented by three officers and 10 ratings from Victoriaville as nine German engine room ratings, three seamen and the sub’s Engineering Officer were left aboard U-190 to operate the sub. We then got under way with Lieut. Blachford in command of the submarine.
Aboard our ship, excitement ran high as we confined the German crew to the stokers’ mess and their officers to the quarters of our officers. The next morning we were ordered to transfer the German officers to Victoriaville. The Germans were ordered to step across from Thorlock’s forecastle to that of Victoriaville while the ships were under way at 5 knots. The transfer scared us, to say nothing of how the Germans felt, because the sea was fairly rough. Fortunately, the only damage was to our starboard Carley float which was crushed against the side of the Victoriaville.
The trip to Bay Bulls, Newfoundland was routine. We traded old sea boots, streetcar tickets, pictures and coins to the Germans for German money, buttons, badges, etc. The Germans were very seasick at first, however were appreciative of hot water, which was not available aboard the submarine.
As we entered Bay Bulls at 0600 we were met by two Fairmiles carrying Captain (D) and loaded with a naval shore party. They provided an additional escort as the U-190 was moored alongside the jetty. Thorlock tied up beside HMCS Prestonian and disembarked the prisoners in the care of the Naval Guard. The U-Boat was turned over to Lieut. Jack Sweeney’s shore party as Captain (D) took over command of the U-190 from Lieut. R.O. Blachford.
When our boarding party returned, our ship left Bay Bulls to rejoin our escort group in St. John’s. The Victoriaville had gone ahead of us and we reached St John’s later that day to read in the papers that Victoriaville had received the lion’s share of the credit for the U-boat surrender. Those of our crew who got leave that night got into some scraps ashore as they told our version of events.
The following morning, our ship was under guard as the ship was searched for souvenirs such as the U-boat’s battle flag and firearms, however nothing was found. Further shore leave was cancelled and we went back to sea to escort the last convoy to the United Kingdom, finally getting a chance in Londonderry to celebrate the end of the war and the surrender of the U-190 to HMCS Thorlock.