Skip to content

Obituary: David Balme


In May 1941 Balme led a raiding party of British sailors from HMS Bulldog on to a damaged German U-Boat floating in the North Atlantic. They spent six hours on board, and amongst their haul of captured material was an Enigma machine and settings. These were sent to Bletchley Park and enabled Alan Turing and his team to read the officer-only German naval code and, with that knowledge and experience, to go on to crack several other codes. It was turning point in the Battle of the Atlantic.


The photograph, from Balme’s obituary in the Telegraph, shows the raiding party from Bulldog approaching U-110.

As the obituary also records, it was an event which was recreated in the Oscar-winning film U-571, with the Americans rather than the British cast as the heroes. Curiously, Balme was a historical advisor to the film, but when the British Prime Minister Tony Blair called the misrepresentation an insult to British sailors, Balme responded that it was a great film which would not have been financially viable without being Americanised, that the credits acknowledged the Royal Navy’s role and that he was glad the story had been told as a tribute to all the men involved.

Balme also took this lovely photograph of the 21st birthday party of Churchill’s daughter, Mary (later Lady Soames). He was serving at the time on HMS Renown, which brought Churchill and his staff back from the Quebec Conference in September 1943. Churchill’s wife Clementine can be seen on the right of the photograph.


Mary Soames birthday






From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: