1939 Wartime tradgedy-the sinking of the "Dolphin"

Discussion in 'Old & Bold' started by Beefhooked, Aug 3, 2012.

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    It was an avoidable tragedy when the fishing boat Dolphin was sunk by a New Zealand shore battery in Lyttleton Harbour on 12 October 1939. On entering the harbour and finding no examination vessel at the entrance, a local fishing trawler,the Dolphin stopped in accordance with the regulations at the time, in front of the battery and awaited a signal from the battery to pass.

    The official version was that the Dolphin, did not properly identify itself and the warning shot fired from No.1 gun accidentally killed a crewmen. This was the most notable incident in the entire 5O year history of the gun emplacements.

    The tragedy raised serious questions left unanswered by a military court of inquiry and inquest, with the full facts hidden from public view due to wartime censorship. George Brassell, whose father went down with the Dolphin, and fishermen from four ports in the Canterbury region called upon the Government to hold full inquiry. The New Zealand Justice forum has now called upon the Govermnent to release all the documents that were before the military court of inquiry.

    In much the same way the Government buries distasteful scandals today, the minister blamed the master of the Dolphin for the accident and claimed to be fully satisfied that all facts had been presented and no public inquiry was warranted. A report from the Christchurch Star noted;

    Nobody who has read the bare facts about the sinking of the Dolphin, or studied the evidence of the military court of inquiry on the subject, will be able to agree with the Government that a public inquiry into the circumstances is unnecessary. A public inquiry would involve not only a completely unbiased examination of the facts, but a judicial finding to ensure that tragedies of this nature do not happen again.

    The Ministerial statement does none of these things. It is a white-washing process that will exasperate the public and give less than no assurance that the lesson of the Dolphin will have a steadying influence on those responsible for the tragedy. The Government has placed an amazing interpretation on fact after fact of this almost unbelievable tragedy and disregarded important factors that were given in evidence.

    The New Zealand Truth was even more scathing and to the point describing the official report as fatuous and the Minister's decision to say no to a public inquiry as "glossing over an appalling blunder" In justice to the relatives of an able and respected seafaring man, and to the public as a whole, steps should be taken to probe this disgracefull scandal-even if it is seventy years after the event!
  2. Errr, no there shouldn't be 'another' inquiry. It was a tragedy and tragedies happen. Get over it.
  3. Bouillabaisse

    Bouillabaisse LE Book Reviewer

    You clearly don't understand the issues here. Do you have no sense of our obligations to our colonies? Lesson must be learned.
    What happens of we end up in another global war where the future of our Empire, nay our very country is at stake? Another fishing trawler might accidentally sail under the guns of a shore battery full of nervous and inexperienced gunners, on the other side of the world and unequipped with radar, IR or night vision cameras. A tragedy like this could easily happen again unless we spend a small fortune on a public inquiry to question all the men involved. Unless they've died of old age, of course, or just can't remember.
  4. I'm afraid you missed the point, there should be an inquiry into the lack of an inquiry, It is not necessary to bury the truth. It is sufficient merely to delay it until nobody cares.” ~
    Napoléon Bonaparte
  5. Given the timescale I'm not sure anything will have a steadying influence on those 'responsible'. Apart from the pallbearers that is
  6. Let me get this right, one bloke died? One shot fired ship sunk?, either you have missed out most of the story or I cannot read. Every death is regretable but one in the scale of WW2 is not really worth an enquiry or even a post. But who, in the rest of the world give a shit, about this, local incident, dwarfed by wanton slaughter of WW2 as a whole.
  7. Bloody hell, this was two days before Royal Oak was sunk at Scapa Flow. Now that was an avoidable tragedy. This was a regrettable incident.
  8. oldbaldy

    oldbaldy LE Moderator Good Egg (charities)
    1. Battlefield Tours

    WW2 'Accidents'
    Kind of puts your little problem into perspective:
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Let me get this straight: you want an inquiry into the lack of an inquiry? For one death which happened 70 years ago in 1939, right before milions were killed in the second world war?

    • Like Like x 1