Drum commemorates wartime submarine

Members of the Swann family following the dedication of the new lambeg drum.
Members of the Swann family following the dedication of the new lambeg drum.

The story of a wartime submarine and its link to Larne has been immortalised in a unique way.

HMS Thrasher was in the port during the Second World War and shore leave for the sailors led to a local romance involving Larne woman Martha Swann.

Two Victoria Crosses are also depicted on the drum.

Two Victoria Crosses are also depicted on the drum.

Martha met one of the sailors from the sub – John Dyer – at a dance in the Victoria Orange Hall and romance blossomed.

The couple were married after the war ended but the story of HMS Thrasher was not so well known, even among John’s new family in Larne.

David Swann, however, learned about John Dyer’s service on the submarine and has researched extensively into her wartime service.

The sub saw action in the Mediterranean, Pacific Far East and North Atlantic and at one point two unexploded bombs rested on the vessel and she had to submerge and allow two of her crew onto the deck to try and dislodge them.

HMS Thrasher is depicted on a lambeg drum.

HMS Thrasher is depicted on a lambeg drum.

The two men, Lieutenant Peter Roberts and Petty Officer Thomas Gould, were later awarded the VC for their courage.

They both knew before they undertook the hazardous mission that if an enemy aircraft had returned to the area the sub would have dived and they would have been drowned. There was also the danger of the bombs exploding at any point.

John Dyer was one of the crew who awaited the outcome of the operation, but David says that although he attended all the reunions of the crew, he never spoke about it.

“I only learned about John’s service on submarines at his funeral. He kept it quiet,” he said.

David Swann with his new drum, HMS Thrasher

David Swann with his new drum, HMS Thrasher

David is a well-known local lambeg drummer and he decided that a good way to commemorate the bravery and wartime service of the HMS Thrasher was to have the vessel portrayed on a new drum. The drum features the submarine and includes two Victoria Crosses.

The drum was dedicated – appropriately enough back at the Victoria Orange Hall on Saturday evening.