GERALD AYLMER GARNONS-WILLIAMS DSO DSC MID**
On June 1, 1917, Garnons-Williams commenced his submarine training by joining HMS DOLPHIN. His journey in the world of submarines continued as he assumed the role of 1st Lieutenant on Submarine E51 from September 14, 1917. He went on to earn his COQC (Commanding Officer Qualifying Course) on May 1, 1919, marking a significant milestone in his career.
Following his qualification, Garnons-Williams took command of several submarines, showcasing his leadership and expertise. His commands included Submarine H34 from June 16, 1919, to October 10, 1919, Submarine H43 from October 10, 1919, to December 1919, Submarine H22 from February 1, 1920, to July 8, 1920, and Submarine L71 from August 9, 1920.
Continuing his service, he assumed command of Submarine H32 from October 10, 1921, to September 23, 1922, and once again took charge of Submarine H34 and Submarine H43. His leadership journey culminated with his appointment as the 2nd Commanding Officer of Submarine X1 from April 30, 1923, where it’s worth noting that the crew of Submarine X1 included two other ‘Command Qualified’ Officers.
On 19 January 1926 Garnons-Williams was lent to the Chilean Navy, his appointment expected to last two years – this was ‘for liaison duties with the Chilean Navy’ who were buying Submarines from Vickers at Barrow.
He was promoted to the rank of Commander on 30 June, 1927 and he was re-appointed to Chile until January 1928.
Garnons-Williams continued to advance in his naval career with a series of notable assignments. On August 6, 1928, he assumed command of Submarine K26. His dedication to professional development led him to complete a ‘Staff Course’ at RNC Greenwich on January 13, 1931, followed by postings at HMS DOLPHIN starting on January 30, 1932, and later on the depot ship HMS ALECTO, beginning on February 22, 1933. He further honed his expertise as the Commander Training Half Flotilla & HMS CORMORANT in Gibraltar, commencing on July 24, 1936.
In a harrowing display of bravery, on October 10, 1940, he courageously entered the damaged basement of No. 21 Carlton House Terrace, which was in a precarious and perilous state due to bombing. In this dire situation, he played a pivotal role in rescuing women who were trapped in the debris.
Recognising his exceptional valor and initiative, Garnons-Williams was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (D.S.O.) on August 25, 1942. This prestigious honor was in recognition of his bravery and enterprise in the successful operations leading to the surrender of the strategically vital base of Diego Suarez.
His illustrious naval career came to a close on January 24, 1943, when he transferred to the Retired List, holding the rank of Captain. Additionally, on February 23, he received a mention in despatches for his exceptional bravery and resourcefulness during operations in Madagascar.
More about Submarine K26
This modified K-class submarine, a product of the British Royal Navy, was commissioned during the post-World War I era and boasted several upgrades over its predecessors. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the fascinating details of the HMS K26, from its construction to its impressive features, and its eventual fate.
The origins of the HMS K26 trace back to June 1918 when the British Royal Navy ordered six submarines, anticipating their strategic value. However, due to the conclusion of World War I, only one of these vessels, the K26, was ever completed. The submarine was built by Vickers at Barrow-in-Furness and launched on August 26, 1919.
The K26 was not your run-of-the-mill submarine. It boasted a displacement of 2,140 long tons (2,170 t) when surfaced and 2,530 long tons (2,570 t) when submerged, making it a formidable presence beneath the waves. Powering this vessel were two steam turbines, each churning out 10,500 shp (7,830 kW), fired by Yarrow boilers. Four electric motors, each with an output of 1,440 hp (1,070 kW), and a Vickers diesel generator providing 800 hp (600 kW).
This allowed the K26 to reach a maximum speed of 23.5 knots (27.0 mph; 43.5 km/h) on the surface and 9 knots (10 mph; 17 km/h) when submerged.
K26 was equipped with six 21-inch (533 mm) bow torpedo tubes and four 18-inch (450 mm) beam torpedo tubes. In addition to its torpedoes, the submarine boasted two 4-inch (100 mm) guns and one 3-inch (76 mm) gun, making it a versatile and formidable naval vessel.
The K26 incorporated several design enhancements that set it apart from its predecessors. The swan bow was modified, and the hydroplanes were relocated to operate in the wake of the propellers, which, while reducing surface speed slightly, improved overall maneuverability. The addition of two extra 21-inch torpedo tubes in the bow necessitated the submarine’s lengthening by 12 feet (4 m). The superstructure received a makeover as well, enhancing the protection of funnels and uptakes, and solving the issue of water entering the funnels during inclement weather, extinguishing the boiler fires. Moreover, the K26 could carry an impressive 300 tons of fuel oil, significantly more than its predecessors, providing an extended range despite its larger displacement.
Sadly, despite its impressive legacy, the K26 met its end in March 1931 when it was sold for scrapping to Mamo Brothers in Malta.
K26 was a testament to British naval engineering and innovation, pushing the boundaries of submarine technology in the post-World War I era. Its impressive specifications, enhanced design features, and formidable arsenal made it a true marvel of its time. Though its journey eventually led to the scrapyard, the legacy of the K26 remains a remarkable chapter in naval history.