Purpose of this blog

Dmitry Yudo aka Overlord, jack of all trades
David Lister aka Listy, Freelancer and Volunteer

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Close to port, far from Home

 Just a heads up. The next few weeks are going to be a bit hectic for me. So articles might be a bit shorter than usual.
Also reason for this appearing late is my Computer decided to go on strike, and needed some careful pummelling to get it back up and running.
Finally my thanks to Mr0Buggy for his help with the Polish sources.

Lieutenant Euge­niusz Wciślicki had graduated from the Polish Naval School in 1938. As a junior officer he'd served in the Polish Navy until Poland's fall, and subsequently made his way to the UK where he joined the Polish Navy in exile. On July 19th 1940 he took command of the Motor Gun Boat S-2, a rather uninteresting name for a ship. The "S" came from the polish word "Scigacze" which translates as Pursuer which she certainly was. S-2 was built before the war for the Polish Navy at the British Power Boat Company in Southampton. Equipped with a pair of 2200hp petrol engines she powered her 24 tons across the water at a speed of 40 knots. S-2's unofficial nickname was "Wilczur" which translates as "Wolfhound". Whilst commanding Wolfhound, Lt Wciślicki became well known in the coastal forces, the British were having trouble with pronouncing his name and so they nicknamed him "Capitan Whisky".
Lt Wciślicki is the one lying down.
On 11th February 1942 with Lt Wciślicki in command Wolfhound covered MTB's attacking the German battleships during their channel dash. Armed with a 20mm cannon and a pair of both .50 and .303 machine guns there wasn't anything else she could do apart from keep enemy E-boats away from the MTB's putting in the attack.
Then on 22nd of June came her most famous engagement, one which won Lt Wciślicki a DSO and a Polish medal, the Virtuti Militari which is Poland's highest military award.
On the 21st of June 1942 Wolfhound and her sister ship S-3 or "Pointer" were on patrol near Dungeness, as part of a screen for a convoy. At 2255 Pointer had a engine fail, and with only one engine she was forced to turn for home. Lt Wciślicki elected to continue on his mission of screening the convoy alone.
Later on the morning of the 22nd the wakes of six E-boats were spotted. At night the bow wave of a boat moving at speed is easy to spot as its bright white against a dark background. The six E-boats were making a beeline for the convoy.
Lt Wciślicki radioed his contact report to base. Knowing he was utterly outnumbered and outgunned he was ordered away from the area. Lt Wciślicki had other ideas, suddenly forgetting how to read English or work the code book he turned his boat towards the line of E-boats. They powered through the line at full throttle with every gun spitting a line of tracer. The Germans returned fire and a cat's cradle of glowing beads of tracer webbed itself around the boats. Wolfhound burst free and disappeared into the night, she had taken one hit. A single unexploded German cannon shell was lodged in her.
Some reports say the Germans were so confused they continued to fire at each other, however I've not been able to verify that. However the Germans knowing their surprise had been lost turned away, and the convoy was allowed to proceed unmolested.

Lt Wciślicki and Wolfhound survived the war. She was paid off in 1944 and in 1947 was inspected by the Poles to see if they would take her back home and into service again, however, they declined due to the poor state she was in. After that she might have been used as a target boat, and presumably sunk.
Lt Wciślicki stayed in the UK after the war, becoming naturalised in 1949, and living at that time in Ipswich. Some sources suggest he served in the Royal Navy using the name Westkey, but again information is scant and difficult to confirm. To give you some idea of how confused this story is, different sources gave up to three different years (41, 42 and 44) for the action against the E-boats. It was only when I found a date for his award I was able to select the right year.

Image credits:
kresy-siberia.org, www.bettsbooks.co.uk and www.hslmouldings.co.uk (note: HLS do a detailed model of S-2)