15 April 1944 – LEUT Max Shean – X Craft

On this day in in 1944 Lieutenant Maxwell Henry Shean, RAN, commanded the midget submarine X-24 in a solo raid on an important floating dock in Bergen Harbour, Norway, codenamed Operation GUIDANCE. X-24 was towed to the drop-off point by HMS Sceptre, commanded by another Australian, Lieutenant (later Vice Admiral, Sir) Ian McIntosh RN. The final approach required X-24 to negotiate a passage of some 40 nautical miles through patrolled waterways protected by two minefields and torpedo nets.

After successfully entering the busy basin, Shean and his crew set 24-hour time-delayed charges on their target and made their way back out to the rendezvous with Sceptre. Upon their return to Scotland they discovered that difficult photo intelligence and incorrect charts had led them so set their charges on an enemy ammunition ship instead of the floating dock. This did not, however, diminish X-24’s remarkable feat. The attack was deemed a success and Shean was awarded the DSO for his leadership.

Later on the war he was awarded a bar to his DSO for his success in cutting Japanese cables in the Mekong Delta forcing the enemy to use wireless links which were being regularly decrypted by the Allies.

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