"Lest we forget"

A Web Site for the repatriation of the medals of
Commander E.T.Simmons DSO, DSC, RCNVR serving from 1939-1945

"Lest we forget"

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The awards of Commander Edward Theodore (Ted) Simmons, R.C.N.V.R. “the first Canadian to win a double honour for killing subs”
Just added Monday November 17, 2008 Two signals from the auction.

The awards of Commander Edward Theodore (Ted) Simmons, R.C.N.V.R. “the first Canadian to win a double honour for killing subs” and subject of the motion picture “Corvette K-225” directed by Howard Hawks and starring Randolph Scott.
  • D.S.O., George VI, GRI type, reverse dated 1943,
  • D.S.C.George VI, reverse engraved 1942, 1939-45 star,
  • Atlantic star with France and Germany clasp, Africa star with North Africa 1942-43 clasp,
  • Canadian Voluntary Service medal 1939-45 with clasp, Canadian War Medal, mounted as worn,
  • Very Fine, (some contact marking, top brooch pin removed from DSO during mounting), together with miniature group as above.

Also 16 black and white photographs of Commander Simmons including: being presented with his DSC; with his mother after presentation of his DSO; addressing ship’s company etc.

A framed cutting from “The Rally” August 15th 1943 showing Simmons and 5 other officers in caricature form including Lt Cdr R E Colman DSO “who sunk a u-boat in 9 minutes, he had two great uncles at Trafalgar” and signed by him;

A framed cutting ‘advertising poster’ 7” x 10” approx for “Corvette K-225” “Here it is Victoria, it is your picture! Corvette K-225 is based on experiences of H.M.C.S. Port Arthur under command of Lt. Com Ted Simmons DSO, DSC, well known Victoria boy...”, this piece showing Randolph Scott and Ellen Raines bracketed together by Simmons and with ink inscription in his hand “Us!”; numerous other relevant cuttings, ephemera, etc.

A small folio of typed “V-E Day Signals H.M.C.S. Beacon Hill 8th May 1945. A/Commander Edward T Simmons, DSO, DSC, RCNVR” containing 20 original Naval Message sheets including:

  • marked Secret from Admiralty “It is possible that enemy submarines many of their own volition show a desire to surrender, for example, by coming to the surface, displaying a white flag extended on periscope or assembling crew on deck”

  • messages of thanks from The First Sea Lord; a message received by First Sea Lord from Field Marshal Montgomery;

  • From Admiralty “As soon as hostilities with Germany cease, German U boats will be given the following surrender orders:-
    A) Surface. Remain surfaced and report position.
    B) Fly black flag or dark blue by day and burn navigational lights by night.
    C) Jettison ammunition, render torpedoes safe by removals pistols(sic) and render mines safe.
    D) Proceed by fixed routes to prescribed ports for preliminary instructions. 2) Any German U boat sighted and obeying orders in Para 1 is not rept not to be attacked unless it commits a hostile act. Position, course and speed of German U-boat should be reported.

  • 3) Further signals including fixed routes and prescribed ports will be signalled to H.M. Ships when the operation is brought into force.

  • 4) British and Allied Merchant ships in areas concerned will be given all necessary instructions. 5) Code word for this operation follows. (3.5.45);

  • To All British Warships from Portsmouth W/t “Commander German Forces Channel Islands. This is the situation of the G O C in C Southern Command who is authorised by the Supreme Allied Commander to receive your unconditional surrender. Listening watch will be maintained by day between 0900 and 2000 hours GMT on frequency 4982 K/cs per sec and by nite (sic) between 2000 and 0900 GMT on frequency 1570 K/cs. The link call sign to be used will be JEIB rept JEIB. Should the German Commander wish to send a message to GO C in C Southern Command he will communicate using the frequency and call sign given above...” (6.5.45);

  • from Admiralty Most Immediate “The German High Command has surrendered unconditionally all German land, sea and air forces in Europe, effective from 0001 B hours repetition 0001 B hours (th. repetition 9th May from which hour all offensive operations are to cease.

  • 2) Due to difficulties of communications there may be some delay in these orders reaching enemy forces. Accordingly danger from attack by individual surface craft, U-boats and air craft may persist for some time to come. The fleet in all waters is to remain on a war footing and in a state of wide vigilance for the moment.

  • 3) Surrender procedure for U boats will be promulgated separately. 4) No repeat no release to be made to the press pending an announcement by heads of Government”; “From Sunset tonight 8th of May all shore lights in Portsmouth Command except Horse Sand and Fort and Portland breal-water(sic): a) will be exhibited at full brilliancy as described in Admiralty light list Part 1, B) Hurrah” (8.5.1945).

Also included: the DSO bestowal document dated 4th May 1943; Simmons’ commission document as Temporary Lieutenant RCNVR 30th August 1941 and various souvenir pamphlets, etc. together with a scrap book containing many reports.

Citation for Medal

In September 1941 64 merchantmen in convoy were subject to attacks by German U boats and 18 of the merchantmen were sunk. HMCS Moose Jaw and Chambly both moved to the convoy’s assistance. On 10th/11th September 1941 the U-boat U-501 was sunk in the Straits of Denmark. HMCS Moose Jaw dropped depth charges causing U 501 to surface. The submarine was then rammed to slow her progress and began sinking.

Chambly’s Captain Prentice (future daughter's God father) sent a boat with Lieutenant Simmons leading a boarding party onto the U Boat to try to recover code books and a prized cipher machine.

Upon boarding Simmons made for the conning tower and entered the vessel searching the control room with a flashlight as the emergency lighting failed. The sea cocks had been opened, the U boat was sinking fast and the search was abandoned with “Simmons barely escaping through the hatch above as the sub made its last plunge”

The boarding party and German survivors were ordered by Simmons to the Chambly where it was unfortunately discovered that one of the boarding party, Stoker W I Brown, drowned during the operation. This act of boarding gained Lieutenant Simmons his DSC and was noted as the first Canadian U-boat kill of the war. DSC London Gazette Supplement 3rd March 1942 For bravery and enterprise in action against Enemy Submarines.

Other Citation

On January 19th 1943 Simmons was in command of “Port Arthur” on convoy work towards Gibraltar when the asdic operator picked as a signal indicating a submarine, “HMCS Port Arthur” history takes up the story “

Port Arthur’s attack procedure was faultless. Within five minutes of the first indistinct contact having been made, a full 10 charge pattern of depth charges was raining down upon the target. The resulting explosions temporarily put Port Arthur’s asdic out of order. Contact could not be regained but in the meantime, the destroyer HMS Antelope had been racing towards the scene of action and was now in position to continue the hunt.

However, Port Arthur’s one attack had been sufficient and as Antelope charged in, the submarine came to the surface dead ahead of her. Antelope opened fire with all guns that would bear but it was obvious that the submarine was sinking and Antelope ceased fire to pick up survivors.

In his subsequent report of the action, the Commanding Officer of Antelope made it quite clear that when the submarine had surfaced, it had been already a “dead duck”... Port Arthur’s victim was proved to have been the Italian submarine Tritone. She had left Genoa on her first operational assignment a few days earlier.

Unfortunately for her, it was her first and last patrol. Of her company of seven officers and forty-five men, four officers and twenty-two men were rescued. Listed among the survivors was the Captain....” Following the success of this and exploits of the Ville de Quebec PM Winston Churchill sent a congratulatory message to the Canadian PM. For the sinking of the Tritone Commanding officer Lieutenant Simmons was awarded the DSO for courage, gallantry and skill in action with submarines.

Brief Biographical Information

Born in Vernon, BC in 1910 Simmons moved to Victoria and later became an interior decorator. He signed up for service in 1939 and in the spring of 1940 was at HMCS Stone Frigate a training establishment. In December 1940 Corvette K116 HMCS Chambly was commissioned with First Lieutenant Simmons becoming second in command.

There then followed a period of service with an escort force accompanying vessels across the North Atlantic.In 1943 following a Navigating Officer course he took command of Port Arthur and supported the Allied invasion of North Africa. In April 1944 Lieutenant Commander Simmons took command of the frigate HMCS Beacon Hill which was soon working patrol and convoy duties in the Irish Sea and English Channel.

Lt Cdr Simmons was Senior Officer of Escort Group 26 which comprised Canadian vessels and by the end of the war 79 convoys had been supported by him. He is shown on the retired list as Commander in December 1945.

Following war service he took a career with Distillers Corporation Canada and later became its president. He retired to England in 1965.

He died in 1989 and his funeral service was conducted aboard HMCS Huron from which his ashes were committed to the deep. A large “Canadian Fisheries and Oceans” Chart, 45” x 32” approx, recording the position is also included.

Commander Simmons had been the highest decorated Canadian Volunteer Reservist in the Battle of the Atlantic, he was one of only two Canadian VRs to command escort groups and was the only Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reservist to be awarded the DSO during the war.

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