I WAS in one of the shops in Milford last week, and a guy...who shall be nameless...blocked my path with his laden trolley, and said…"Glad your TRM's back, I love all the old Milford memories, especially the ones about during the war”.

I saluted, and replied…"Cheers…I'll see what I can dig up for you this week”.

And here we go with a few recollections from 1917…the year before the 1914-18, Great War conflict ended.

It's March, and the Inverlogie, a British Transport barque sailing ship, built in 1893 by Fairfield Shipbuilding Engineering Co Ltd, 2,347 tons and 91' in length, was travelling from Barry to Archangel, with a cargo of coal.

The journey was shattered 15 miles south-west of the Smalls, when the German submarine, U-70, fired torpedoes at her with deadly accuracy, and the Inverlogie quickly sank.

Fortunately, there were no casualties, but the Germans had successfully notched up yet another scalp on their already expansive U-boat bedpost.

Interestingly, although maybe not entirely surprisingly, given the importance of the port, history shows that around 80 per cent of the U-boat conflict that devastated British shipping during the First World War, was fought within a hundred nautical miles of Milford Haven.

The Admiralty, deeply concerned about the amount of shipping that was being lost...one in four ships leaving GB were being sunk…hatched an audacious plan to try to counter the U-boat onslaught.

I know I've previously included this particular item in my TRM, but, as Milford's Naval Base was to play an important role in the operation, it certainly warrants another mention.

The Admiralty's scheme was to convert ships…including trawlers and freighters…into heavily armed gunboats. It was intended that, on the surface, these camouflaged vessels, called Q-ships, would all be innocent looking, appearing to offer no apparent threat.

One of them, the Prize (previously called the First Prize) sailed out of Milford.

Ironically, Prize had been the very first German schooner to be captured by the Royal Navy, only a few hours after the war began in 1914, and was now under the command of Lt Sanders, a New Zealander.

One of those serving under him, was Milford man, Able Seaman Jack McClelland.

Here's the story.

It was dusk on April 30, 1917. Light was fading quickly, when Count Spiegel, one of Germany's most successful submarine commanders, brought his U-boat…U93…face-to-face with a little schooner called the Prize.

He undoubtedly believed that here was another prize to add to his list.

Not wanting to waste too many torpedoes on such easy pickings, The Count, undoubtedly an honourable man, ordered his men to fire three warning shots over the Prize, thereby allowing the crew to take to the boats and surrender.

Through binoculars, he watched as the schooner's crew rowed away, then, after pounding her until he thought she was about to sink, he brought the U boat nearer…to finish the job off at point-blank range.

When two 12 pounders and two Lewis guns suddenly appeared and opened up, ferociously blasting away at U-93, mowing down his men on deck, and forcing them into the sea, to say he was shaken to the core would be a gross understatement.

During the battle that followed, both vessels took a terrific pummelling until, eventually, the submarine, under the control of their second-in-command, struggled back to Germany.

Meanwhile, the Prize, complete with a number of prisoners…including Count Spiegel himself…limped her way into harbour in Southern Ireland.

For the courage displayed in the face of such incredible danger, Lt Sanders was awarded the VC, (it was thought to be the only occasion when such an award came recommended by an enemy officer...in this case…Count Spiegel), and Able Seaman McClelland, along with his shipmates, collected DSMs.

But, of course, the war continued, and sadly, four months later, in August 1917, the Prize was sunk by a German U-boat, all hands being lost.

Fortunately, Milford's Jack McClelland, was not one of them, he'd been forced to miss the trip, having been confined to shore with a severe ear condition.

There's an interesting postscript to the Prize v U93 scrap.

In June 1958, the incident was included in the Eagle comic, and appeared under the very apt title…The Bravest men in the war.

Here are a few photos to go with it.

The Inverlogie...a German U-boat in Milford Docks...and the Q-ship Prize (with inset Jack McClelland).

Now it's teaser time.

There were a few different right answers to last week's ‘serving’ poser...tennis balls…prison sentences…time in the Forces etc…and those who found time to tell me were…Joyce Layton, Joan Earles, Anne and Jets Llewellyn, John Glover, Les Haynes, Brian Phillips.

No teaser this week, I'll be back in the seat in a fortnight.

Right, I'm off...hope this particular TRM pleased my trolley-wielding ‘friend’.

See you next time.