Allied Warships

HMS Oxley (55 P)

Submarine of the O class

NavyThe Royal Navy
Pennant55 P 
ModOxley Group 
Built byVickers Armstrong (Barrow-in-Furness, U.K.) 
Ordered19 May 1925 
Laid down24 Aug 1925 
Launched29 Jun 1926 
Commissioned1 Apr 1927 
Lost10 Sep 1939 
Loss position58° 30'N, 5° 30'E

HMS Oxley (Lt.Cdr. Harold Godfrey Bowerman, RN) was torpedoed and sunk in error by HMS Triton (Lt.Cdr. H.P. De C. Steele, RN) about 28 nautical miles south-south-west of Stavanger, Norway in position 58º30'N, 05º30'E. HMS Triton picked up two survivors.

Oxley was 4 nautical miles inside Triton's area due to a navigational error. Lt.Cdr Steel of Triton made 3 challenges which went unanswered then fired a green signal grenade which also produced no response. He therefore had to assume the sub was hostile and fired 2 torpedoes, sinking Oxley.

The puzzling lack of response from Oxley was explained by Lt.Cdr Bowerman, who survived the sinking with one of the bridge watch: he stated he was called to the bridge following the sighting of Triton's signal grenade, but when he tried to answer, his grenade malfunctioned.
The Officer of the Watch Lt. Manley, RNR, claimed to have answered Triton's challenge, but Bowerman was not sure this had been done properly. Before he could put things right, however, Oxley was struck by Triton's torpedo and he was catapulted into the sea together with one of the lookouts and Lt. Manley. Lt. Manley was seen in the water but when they could be picked up from the water he was gone.

Former nameOA 1

Commands listed for HMS Oxley (55 P)

Please note that we're still working on this section
and that we only list Commanding Officers for the duration of the Second World War.

1Lt.Cdr. Harold Godfrey Bowerman, RN2 Aug 193910 Sep 1939

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Notable events involving Oxley include:

The page for this submarine was last updated in October 2015.

25 Aug 1939
HMS Oxley (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Bowerman, RN) departed Portsmouth for Dundee. (1)

28 Aug 1939
HMS Oxley (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Bowerman, RN) arrived at Dundee. (1)

4 Sep 1939
HMS Oxley (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Bowerman, RN) departed Dundee for her 1st war patrol. She was ordered to patrol off the South-West coast of Norway near Stavanger. (1)

Media links

Fatal Decisions

Blandford, Edmund


  1. ADM 199/373

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.

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