HMS Seraph (P219)

Seraph, date unknown. Probably Royal Navy photo, original believed to be in the public domain.

Ship Class
Ship Type
Laid Down
1940
Launched
1941
Commissioned
1942
Decommissioned
1962
AD/BC
AD
History

HMS Seraph (P219) was a British S-class submarine, laid down 16 August, 1940. Part of the third group, Seraph had an external torpedo tube fitted to the stern, and air warning radar equipped. Commissioned 27 June, 1942, Seraph would see heavy use in special missions. After reconnaissance of the North African coast, she brought American General Mark Clark to Algeria in October, 1942, to talk the Vichy French into cooperating with the Allies. Just days later, Seraph, briefly renamed USS Seraph, and "commanded" by American Captain Jerauld Wright, proceeded to pick up General Henri Giraud and his entourage off the port of Toulons on 5 November, so he could meet with Eisenhower. The French were still pissed at the British over the attack on their fleet as Mers-el-Kebir, which is why the sub was reflagged as American. (It fooled nobody.) Seraph began her first actual war patrol in November, and damaged an Italian merchant before she rammed a U-boat 23 December, forcing her to England for repairs. While there, Seraph was tapped for one of the most unusual deception missions of World War II. Operation Mincemeat was designed to lure German forces away from Sicily to Greece, before the Allies invaded the former. The body of Major William Martin of the Royal Marines was loaded on board, and cast adrift off Spain, 30 April, 1943. The actual name of the body was Glyndwr Michael, a homeless Welshman. Attached to him was a briefcase containing fake documents, detailing Allied landings in Greece and Sardinia. After dropping off the body, Seraph returned to the Mediterranean, but the rest of her wartime career was not as interesting. Apart from acting as a guideship for the landings in Sicily and Normandy, Seraph did not manage to sink any ships, and was reduced to a training boat in late 1944. Seraph was refitted to mimic the reported high underwater speeds of the new German Type XXI U-boats, and she remained in service in this role until 25 October, 1962, 21 years to the day after her launching. Seraph was scrapped that December, but parts were donated to The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, to form part of a memorial to Anglo-American cooperation in Wold War II.

Bonus Information

Fun Fact: Seraph played herself in the 1956 film "The Man Who Never Was", about Operation Mincemeat.