Lieu. Hardy Statement

The following statement was taken from Lieutenant George Gordon Hardy, RNVR, and used at the court-martial of Theodore Schurch.

Statement of Lietenant George Gordon Hardy, RNVR, of Buxton, Derbyshire.

I was the Navigator Officer on H.M. Submarine “Splendid” which was sunk off Naples on 20th or 21st April 1943. I was picked up by an Italian motor boat and two days afterwards arrived at an Interrogation Camp in Rome. I was the only officer from the submarine who was sent direct to the Camp in Rome. Other arrived at a later date.

Upon arrival at the Camp in Rome I was kept in solitary confinement for four or five days. Following this I was allowed to take exercise in a small compound surrounded by barbed wire. After I had walked about for about five or ten minutes, a man in British Army uniform (battledress) came from the same building as myself. He introduced himself to me as Captain Richards, RASC. He went on to tell me he had served with the 8th Army under Field Marshal (then General) Montgomery and drove an armoured car. After a short general conversation he asked me how my submarine had been sunk and I told him that we had been about to attack a destroyer. The destroyer had altered its course and therefore the Commanding Officer had decided it was unprofitable to continue with the attack.

Our periscope must have been sighted for the destroyer then altered its course and came towards us. The submarine was later damaged by depth charges and we were obliged to surface and abandon ship. Following this, I was taken prisoner.

Richards then asked me about the conditions of living in the submarine, the name of the base from which we had been operating and such matters as the average length of a patrol, etc. He did not go into any technical details.

I will make it clear that I was still rather shaken after my experience and believed Richards to be a genuine British Officer. I replied in a general way to his questions about submarine life, dealing with the number of Officers and men on board the ship. I also disclosed that we had been operating in the Algiers.

After this Richards came to live with us (six prisoners in all) and we often talked about our experience. There can be little doubt that in the course of those conversations the name of Commander Ben Bryant would have been mentioned. He was then the Commanding Officer of a submarine which was then operating from our base.

During our initial conversation I asked Richards how long he had been there and he gave me to understand he had been there some time. I then asked him why he had not been sent to a permanent prisoner of war camp and he told me that because he could speak Italian he had been granted permission to remain there to act as liaison officer between the British prisoners and the Italian Authorities.

After our first conversation Richards walked out of the compound without any restriction and it was following this that I first became suspicious of him. During the time he lived with us Richards was given extra wine and always had an unlimited supply of cigarettes. He also enjoyed far more freedom than a normal prisoner of war.

Richards was still at the Camp when I left there on 14 May 1943, to proceed to a Camp (?35) at Padula.

This statement has been read by me and is true.

Richards once told me that his Father was the head porter at the Savoy Hotel, which position he found very lucrative.

(sgd) G.G. Hardy

Lieutenant RNVR.