Incredible story of how Australian sailing legend Stanley Darling sunk three German submarines in WWII as a highly decorated sea captain before returning home to win five races from Sydney to Hobart
- Stanley Darling was a World War II Navy captain awarded the Atlantic Star
- After returning to Australia in 1945, he won five yacht races from Sydney to Hobart
- Known as Australia’s most decorated anti-submarine officer in WWII
- The Battle of the Atlantic from WWII is officially commemorated on Saturday
Before Stanley Darling became an Australian hunting legend, his nautical skills were needed for much more deadly purposes.
His exploits during the Battle of the Atlantic, the longest military campaign of World War II, made him one of the most decorated officers in the Royal Australian Navy.
Australia will officially commemorate the battle on Saturday, with Captain Darling among some 5,000 service personnel and merchant ships receiving the Atlantic Star.
He was also awarded the Distinguished Service Cross three times, making him Australia’s most decorated anti-submarine officer in World War II.
Captain Stanley Darling (pictured) was a World War II Navy Captain before winning five races between Sydney and Hobart
Captain Darling (pictured) was known as Australia’s most decorated anti-submarine officer in WWII before turning his attention to sailing
The Battle of the Atlantic was one of the most pivotal campaigns of the war and was also remembered for its danger, with the ocean itself being as much an adversary as the warriors.
It inspired Nicholas Monsarrat’s famous war novel The Cruel Sea.
The battle was essentially the Allies sending naval convoys of supplies, equipment and troops from North America to Britain – and Nazi Germany tried to stop them.
Germany’s main weapon was the fleet of U-boat submarines, which wreaked havoc on Allied ships.
“The only thing that ever really scared me during the war was the U-boat danger,” British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill said after the war.
Captain Darling, then a Lieutenant Commander, found himself at the sharp end of the battle.
In 1943 he joined the Royal Navy’s famous Second Escort Group and was in command of the frigate HMS Loch Killin.
Under the command of Captain Frederic “Johnnie” Walker, Second Escort Group was the most successful anti-submarine unit of the war when the tide turned against U-boats in the Atlantic.
Under the command of Lt Commander Darling, Loch Killin sunk three German submarines.
The second of those “murders” exposed the cruelty and risk of combat.
On August 6, 1944, the U736 fired two torpedoes at Loch Killin, but the ship evaded all damage and subsequently forced the submarine to the surface.
The frigate rammed the U-boat and for a few minutes the two ships were stuck together.
Nineteen crew members of the submarine were able to scramble aboard the frigate before the U-boat sank, taking another 28 Germans to their deaths.
On Saturday, the WWII Battle of the Atlantic is officially commemorated – where Captain Darling helped sink three German ships
After the war, Captain Darling returned to Australia and navigated five winners from Sydney to Hobart.
He was one of the first to drive to Hobarts in 25 Sydney, finishing 27 between 1947-82.
His ashes were scattered at the start of the 2002 race.
While ships such as HMAS Australia served in the Battle of the Atlantic, many Australians such as Captain Darling were seconded to the Royal Navy or the Merchant Navy.
Four RAAF squadrons served with the Royal Air Force Coastal Command, which also played a critical role in the combat.
Famed South Australian sports broadcaster Gordon Schwartz, who died last month at the age of 98, was a flight lieutenant in Coastal Command’s Sunderland flying boats that hunted German submarines.
The battle took a terrible toll, with more than 5,000 Allied ships sunk.
More than 400 RAAF personnel serving with Coastal Command were killed.