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Posted: 12/19/2005 5:40:39 PM EDT

What an amazing, gutsy character.....


......................................................


Sub-Lieutenant Rod Dove
(Filed: 20/12/2005)
www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/12/20/db2001.xml&DCMP=EMC-new_20122005

Sub-Lieutenant Rod Dove, who has died aged 84, won the DSO during a daring attack on Italian shipping by riding a human torpedo into Palermo harbour.



As the submarine Trooper surfaced in heavy weather off Palermo on January 2/3 1943, Dove and his crewman, Leading Seaman Jimmy Freel, climbed on to the casing wearing their cumbersome diving suits.

Dove recalled that it was the blackest night, with the Force 5 wind off the coast whipping up to make Trooper bounce like a yo-yo on a short string.

Each man worked with one hand, holding on to the submarine with the other, as they unscrewed the wire fastenings to push Chariot XVI out of its container and on to the deck, which was continually swept by waves.

As Trooper lay semi-submerged to allow Dove and Freel to clamber aboard their craft, a breaker suddenly picked up the chariot, lifting it over the casing and dumping it on the other side of the boat.

Both men managed to stay astride; but their limpet mines and magnets for attaching the warhead were washed away, though they did not discover this until much later.

Of the five chariots involved in Operation Principal, Dove and Freel's was the first to find its way under the defensive net and into the harbour. Although the net's lower folds, lying on the seabed, had demagnetised their compass, they reached their target, the 8,500-ton Italian troopship Viminale.

Working underwater, Dove improvised a rope sling to hang the 1,000-lb warhead to the sternpost of the liner and set the timer. Without a compass, he realised that they could not make a rendezvous outside the harbour, and they decided to scuttle their chariot and swim ashore.

He and Freel, who were wearing naval battledress under their Sladen diving suits, were making their way out of Palermo when they had the satisfaction of hearing their charges blow up, badly damaging Viminale.

Shortly afterwards, however, they were arrested by the carabinieri and handed over to the Italian navy who, for several weeks, threatened to shoot them as saboteurs.

While in solitary confinement at Forte Boccea in Rome, they located other charioteers captured at Palermo by singing mock opera - "Is there anyone here from the Navy?" to the tune of She'll be coming round the mountain when she comes.

When Dove tired of re-reading the same ancient magazines, he sketched the Dulwich College crest on the wall of his cell.

Later they were sent to a disused 14th-century monastery at Padula, Calabria, where various escape plans were either detected by their guards or vetoed by the senior British officer.

After the Italian capitulation in 1943, the charioteers were sent by the Germans to a Marlag outside Bremen, and there Dove learned that he had been awarded the DSO. As the war ended and the prisoners were force-marched eastwards before the advancing Russian army, Dove was strafed by the RAF.

On repatriation in May 1945 he found that his special pay for diving and chariot duties had been stopped from the time of his capture; and no appeal could get it restored.

Dove's parents, who had been told that he was missing, found out only eight months after his capture that he was alive when the story of his doings broke in the Daily Sketch.

Freel, who was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal for his part in Operation Principal, used the chaos in Italy during late 1943 to escape, and fought for several months with the partisans until he could join the advancing British Army.

Operation Principal was something of a Pyrrhic victory: Viminale had been damaged and a new Italian cruiser sunk. But the submarines Traveller and P311, with three chariots and their crews, were lost; six charioteers were captured and two others died. Only one chariot, along with its crew, was recovered.

Rodney George Dove was born on September 1 1921 in south London, where his father - a survivor of the fighting at Arras and an Army lightweight champion boxer - owned several butcher's shops. Young Rod, who gained a scholarship to Dulwich, joined the Navy in 1940 as a seaman.

He was trained to be coxswain of a landing craft but, after an accident in which he lost the middle two fingers of his left hand, he was sent to HMS King Alfred at Hove, where he came top of class in navigation and torpedoes and was commissioned as a sub-lieutenant, RNVR.

Dove volunteered for hazardous duties, without knowing what this entailed, and found himself training for service in human torpedoes or chariots, weapons which Churchill had ordered to be copied from captured Italian models following the successful attack on British battleships at Alexandria.

After experiments and realistic training (in which a colleague drowned) under the rigorous leadership of Commander "Tiny" Fell in Scotland, Dove deployed with Naval Party 450 to the Mediterranean for Operation Principal, a massed attack by human torpedoes against Axis shipping in Italian ports.

After his return to England Dove was sent by the Admiralty to be assistant harbourmaster in Batavia (now Jakarta). He liked the East Indies and, after being demobbed in Singapore, worked for the general traders Maclaine Watson.

When he retired on health grounds in the 1950s, he emigrated to Vancouver, where he joined Air Canada and worked his way from ticket agent to senior ground staff manager.

A lifelong bibliophile, Dove settled on the shores of Hay Bay, Lake Ontario, where he had to build a wing on to his house to accommodate his library. When he became blind he turned to collecting talking books and had the newspapers read to him every day.

Rod Dove died on October 30. He married, in 1949, Helenna Wehmann. They divorced in the 1970s, and in 1984 he married Ann Gifford. Both wives survive him with two sons and two daughters of the first marriage.


Link Posted: 12/19/2005 6:19:56 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/19/2005 6:20:32 PM EDT by Manic_Moran]
Could have been worse. Could have been on a Marder or Neger of the German punishment units, which half the time would sink, get spotted and shot up, or fail to release the under-slung torpedo and drag the unwilling pilot to the target.

Or worse, a Kaiten, which actually was a human-guided suicide torpedo.

NTM
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 6:24:56 PM EDT

Originally Posted By 95thFoot:
What an amazing, gutsy character.....



indeed.

Link Posted: 12/19/2005 7:02:46 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Manic_Moran:
Could have been worse. Could have been on a Marder or Neger of the German punishment units, which half the time would sink, get spotted and shot up, or fail to release the under-slung torpedo and drag the unwilling pilot to the target.

Or worse, a Kaiten, which actually was a human-guided suicide torpedo.

NTM



Wasn't there a movie that involved a German punishment unit a while back? Racking my brain for a title, but it was a while ago.
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 7:12:05 PM EDT

Originally Posted By 95thFoot: Working underwater, Dove improvised a rope sling to hang the 1,000-lb warhead to the sternpost of the liner and set the timer. Without a compass, he realised that they could not make a rendezvous outside the harbour, and they decided to scuttle their chariot and swim ashore. He and Freel, who were wearing naval battledress under their Sladen diving suits, were making their way out of Palermo when they had the satisfaction of hearing their charges blow up, badly damaging Viminale.
Damn, he could've been a Navy SEAL!
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 7:17:05 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Scott574:

Originally Posted By Manic_Moran:
Could have been worse. Could have been on a Marder or Neger of the German punishment units, which half the time would sink, get spotted and shot up, or fail to release the under-slung torpedo and drag the unwilling pilot to the target.

Or worse, a Kaiten, which actually was a human-guided suicide torpedo.

NTM



Wasn't there a movie that involved a German punishment unit a while back? Racking my brain for a title, but it was a while ago.



The Eagle has Landed
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 9:15:42 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Dracster:

Originally Posted By Scott574:

Originally Posted By Manic_Moran:
Could have been worse. Could have been on a Marder or Neger of the German punishment units, which half the time would sink, get spotted and shot up, or fail to release the under-slung torpedo and drag the unwilling pilot to the target.

Or worse, a Kaiten, which actually was a human-guided suicide torpedo.

NTM



Wasn't there a movie that involved a German punishment unit a while back? Racking my brain for a title, but it was a while ago.



The Eagle has Landed



I think your correct. It's only a short scene at the end right?
Link Posted: 12/20/2005 8:22:57 AM EDT
In the beginning of the movie, I havn't read the book yet, the Germans are an E-boat unit. They are plucked from that choice assignment to go geek Churchill because of their expendability.
Link Posted: 12/20/2005 8:25:38 AM EDT
Yeeeeee-Hawwwwww!


Link Posted: 12/20/2005 8:40:07 AM EDT

Originally Posted By KlubMarcus:

Originally Posted By 95thFoot: Working underwater, Dove improvised a rope sling to hang the 1,000-lb warhead to the sternpost of the liner and set the timer. Without a compass, he realised that they could not make a rendezvous outside the harbour, and they decided to scuttle their chariot and swim ashore. He and Freel, who were wearing naval battledress under their Sladen diving suits, were making their way out of Palermo when they had the satisfaction of hearing their charges blow up, badly damaging Viminale.
Damn, he could've been a Navy SEAL!


Are you serious?

The Italians and British navies were light years ahead of us in the sophistication of their naval commando (underwater demolition and coastal raiding and sabotage) units throughout most of WW2.
Link Posted: 12/20/2005 8:43:05 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Scott574:

Originally Posted By Manic_Moran:
Could have been worse. Could have been on a Marder or Neger of the German punishment units, which half the time would sink, get spotted and shot up, or fail to release the under-slung torpedo and drag the unwilling pilot to the target.

Or worse, a Kaiten, which actually was a human-guided suicide torpedo.

NTM



Wasn't there a movie that involved a German punishment unit a while back? Racking my brain for a title, but it was a while ago.



The Eagle Has Landed had the German unit that later tried to capture Churchill in a punishment unit doing torpedo attacks.

Link Posted: 12/20/2005 8:43:53 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Scott574:

Originally Posted By Dracster:

Originally Posted By Scott574:

Originally Posted By Manic_Moran:
Could have been worse. Could have been on a Marder or Neger of the German punishment units, which half the time would sink, get spotted and shot up, or fail to release the under-slung torpedo and drag the unwilling pilot to the target.

Or worse, a Kaiten, which actually was a human-guided suicide torpedo.

NTM



Wasn't there a movie that involved a German punishment unit a while back? Racking my brain for a title, but it was a while ago.



The Eagle has Landed



I think your correct. It's only a short scene at the end right?



at the beginning for sure, they may have had to go back at the end, not sure.

Link Posted: 12/20/2005 8:44:59 AM EDT
wow, great read
Link Posted: 12/20/2005 9:43:44 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/20/2005 9:44:13 AM EDT by Manic_Moran]
What the article doesn't say is that the Chariots were actually an Italian invention.

Early models were used in 1918, but the crews had no breathing gear, so had to keep their heads above water.

In 1941, the Italians used their 'manned torpedoes' to sink two battleships, a couple of tankers, and assorted other ships.

The British decided "You know, they might be onto something" and started their own manned torpedo programme in 1942.

Italian 'Special Naval Forces' outdate both SEALs and SBS. I wonder if it makes them the oldest underwater special forces group in the world?

NTM
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