(ca. 1954, Under the Sea) My grandfather served for ages in the Royal Navy
and related this story to me about his time aboard the HMS Truncheon, a
rivet-hulled diesel-electric submarine. Two men, the ship's Petty Officer
and an Ordinary Seaman, were drinking in the mess wardroom. Having
cheerfully consumed all the available alcohol (presumably above and beyond
the daily ration of rum) the Seaman asked the Petty Officer to do him a
favor. He wanted a bullet shot through his hat.
Because a breach in the hull could be deadly to the entire crew, and
because a ricocheting bullet would be dangerous to the crew in such close
quarters even if it did not puncture the hull, firearms are locked up
aboard ship. Nevertheless, the Petty Officer honored his friend's request,
retrieved a 9mm Beretta from his locker, and in an alcoholic haze opened
fire on the hat, which was still on his friend's head.
At depth, a submarine hull is under
pressure, but the atmosphere inside is not. That's why the crew
doesn't suffer from the "bends" as the submarine submerges and
surfaces. This pressure difference makes a breach in the hull very
dangerous. If the hull is under 10 atmospheres of pressure (at 100
meters) a breach could fill 90% of the interior with water.
Despite the amount of alcohol consumed, he was pretty much bang on target.
Ignoring the ricocheting bullet and the screams as the rest of the crew
ducked, the Ordinary Seaman removed his hat and examined the bullet hole
that had pierced it just an inch from his head. "Too far away," he said. "I
want it closer in. Have another shot." Famous last words. The next bullet
creased him along his skull, and hurled him to the floor, bleeding and
Both men were tossed out of the Royal Navy.
My grandfather recently told this story to his table during one of those
seamen's dinner-and-dance parties, and was shocked when one man eyed him
coldly and informed him that it had been his uncle on the receiving end of
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Reference: Joshua Sinyor