Now It Can Be Told! - Naval Divers Cut Jap Telephone Cables
Working with oxygen apparatus in depths which had shortly before caused the deaths of two other divers, two British naval divers cut the Saigon-Singapore and the Saigon-Hongkong undersea telephone cables in one of the last midget submarine operations of the war. They were Sub-Lieut. K. M. Briggs, R.A.N.V.R., and Sub-Lieut. A. K. Bergius, R.N.V.R., who were carried in the midget submarine XE4, commanded by Lieut. M. H. Shean, D.S.O., R.A.N.V.R.
The craft was towed into the Japanese-controlled Saigon River area by the submarine Spearhead. She slipped her tow at 9.20 p.m. on July 30 and was away from the parent ship until the early hours of August 1. Towing a grapnel and chain weighing about 80 lb. along the bottom, she made a number of runs before she was brought up suddenly as the grapnel caught the Singapore cable. Briggs returned inboard with the short length of the cable as evidence of a job well done.
About an hour later Lieut. Shean found the Hongkong cable. Bergius had to go out twice to complete the cutting operation, because of mechanical trouble with his cutter. He brought back a foot of cable core. The divers were specially commended for working in much deeper, and therefore more dangerous, water than anticipated.
Lieut. Shean, 27, was awarded the D.S.O. in April 1944 for “outstanding skill, courage and determination in a most hazardous enterprise in one of H.M. Midget submarines”. Sub-Lieut. Briggs, 22, of New South Wales, joined the Navy as an Ordinary Seaman in May 1941. Sub-Lieut. Bergius, 20, of Argyllshire, also served as a rating.
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