Ross & Cromarty War Memorials


The X-Craft of XIIth Submarine Flotilla

The dimensions of these tiny submarines was 51 feet (15.5m) long and a circular width of 5.5 feet (1.68m); their displacement was 35 tons. Power was based on a 4-cylinder Gardner 42 hp diesel engine, same as that used in London buses, and a 30 hp electric motor. Surface speed was about 6 Knots(12 km/h or a bit over 7 mph) and about 5 knots (10 km/h) submerged.

They had a crew of four including a Commander, a Pilot, and an ERA (Engine Room Artificer), usually a Naval Chief Petty Officer who had operational responsibility for the whole craft. Fourth man was usually a diver. Here is a quote from SecretScotland which illustrates some aspects of life on an X-craft;

We slept in the battery compartment in the bow, on boards on top of the batteries. One, sometimes two men could rest there. Normally three positions were manned in the control room. Unless he was resting the commanding officer (CO) would be on the periscope and navigating, the 1st Lieutenant at the hydroplanes keeping depth and the ERA at the helm steering. Apart from relieving the 1st Lieutenant or the ERA, the diver had little to do but help with the catering.

They were towed to near where they were to opeate by standard submarines. Armamed with two 2-ton Amatol charges strapped to the sides, ready to be dropped on to the sea-bed, under a target. In the case of the Kylesku X-Craft, the targets were the German battleships Tirpitz and Scharnhorst in Norway, which were a serious threats to the Russian Arctic Convoys.

Note: See '12 Sub Flotilla' on Nav Bar for more on Kylesku.

There is a lot on the Internet on X-craft. One of the best is Wikipedia (link below) which gives details of various operations carried out by X-craft, including preparitory surveys for Operation Overlord, better known as D-Day (6th June 1944) - worth reading.

1) Link for Wikipedia - click here X-Craft
2) Here is an outstandingly good site giving details of ships, etc., and
also respectful biographical details of some of the men on the Memorial List. SMRG
3) Yet another good site which is different in some ways SecretScotland


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