Like his contemporary student
pilots, Michael Allen undertook his initial RN training aboard the cadet
training ship HMS Frobisher in Portsmouth,
January and February 1939, and then for two months aboard HMS Courageous before transfering to 20 ERFTS, Gravesend for pilot training
on the first of May. He graduated in July, transfering to No. 7 Flying Training School, Peterborough.
On 4th Aptil 1940, he joined Fleet Air Arm 752 Sqn. at HMS Goshawk.
The Sqn. was then shiped by the steamer Almeda Star to RN Air Station, Piarco, Trinidad.
The Almeda Star
(Photo courtesy of State Library of New South Wales )
During the passage the Almeda Star came under attack by the German U-boat U-96.
At 05.08 hours on
17th January 1941, U-96 was chasing an unknown steamer that had already
evaded three G7e torpedoes
when the unescorted Almeda Star (Master Harry Cecil Howard, Commodore of the Blue Star Line) was spotted about 35 miles northeast of Rockall.
The U-boat then fired a fourth G7e torpedo at the first steamer at 07.10 hours, but it was also evaded and the boat forced to dive by gunfire.
At 07.45 hours, U-96 fired one G7e torpedo at the Almeda Star, which stopped after a hit amidships. As the ship did not sink after being hit in the stern
and amidships by two coups de grâce at 08.05 and 09.07 hours, the U-boat surfaced to shell the ship. The Germans observed four lifeboats and still saw people
on deck before opening fire from 09.32 to 09.48 hours, hitting with about 15 of 28 incendiary shells. Only small fires were started which soon went out,
so another torpedo was fired at 09.55 hours. The torpedo hit the forepart and caused her to sink by the bow within three minutes in 58°40N/13°38W.
Seven destroyers were ordered
to search the area, but found no survivors. The master, 136 crew members,
29 gunners and 194 passengers were lost.
Among the passengers were 21 officers and 121 ratings of the FAA (749, 750 & 752 FAA Sqns.) en route to RNAS Piarco, Trinidad.
S. Lt. Allen was missing, presumed killed.
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