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  • Writer's pictureShaun Lewis

Irish submarine commanding officers

Last night my mother ticked me off for my book, The Custom of the Trade. She has now read the book and, whilst she thought it "fabulous", stayed up all one night to read it and cannot wait to read my next novel, she was displeased with the language attributed to one of my hero's commanding officers, Lieutenant Mullan, a Protestant Ulsterman who hates Catholics. My mother is, also, Northern Irish and she was shocked by some of my Irish colloquialisms.

Although the CO does not feature as a character in my book, I do make brief reference to HMAS AE2, an E-class submarine manned jointly by members of the Royal and Royal Australian Navies. AE2 was the first allied submarine to penetrate the Dardanelles into the Sea of Marmara. She was commanded by Lieutenant Commander Henry Stoker, a Dubliner. Sadly, the submarine was sunk by the Turks and the survivors were taken prisoner. Although he escaped briefly, Stoker was to be a prisoner of war for over three years. After the war he was awarded the DSO and Mentioned-in-Despatches for his gallantry and valuable service in AE2.

Stoker was a cousin of Bram, the author of Dracula. Between the wars he became a successful stage and screen actor. When WW2 was declared, he was recalled to the RN and took up the appointment as Chief of Staff to Flag Officer Belfast in the depot ship HMS Caroline. At the end of the war and aged 60, he retired once more from the RN to return to his career as an actor and playwright. He died on his 81st birthday in 1966.

Lieutenant Commander Henry Stoker

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