Sadly for Sillcock and his crew, this time his aim was too perfect. The direct hit on our aft deck directed the force of the depth charge’s blast upward, blowing his aircraft to pieces. His tactics had worked perfectly, but the sub-hunting ace became a victim of his own skill.
During the course of our repair efforts on U-505, we found several pieces of bright yellow Duraluminum from Sillcock’s aircraft scattered on our deck. Later, our machinist used the scrap metal to make little axes (our boat’s symbol ever since our days under Kapitänleutnant Löwe) for us crewmen to affix to our caps. This was in no way a demonstration of disrespect for the crew of the aircraft that had nearly killed us. Like so many men during World War II, they had to pay with their lives for doing their duty for their country. We respected them for that, and indeed, were filled with great admiration for their skill and courage.
In 1998, I visited Trinidad and placed flowers at a U-boat memorial there, not only in memory of my fallen comrades in the U-boat service, but also for the brave and able crew of that Hudson. Every year since our encounter with Sillcock, I celebrate my birthday on two days: on my true birthday, and on the anniversary of the day that we so miraculously escaped death at the hands of the courageous Flight Sergeant.
And the little yellow aluminum ax made from Sillcock’s plane? I still have it, as a talisman of luck and remembrance.