Jimmy Launders - World War II Service - Assignment To Venturer and Reputation

Assignment To Venturer and Reputation

Though he would continue to serve aboard Repulse for more than two years, it was to be his last assignment to a surface vessel for some time. On 1 April 1941 (after the war had been raging for about a year and a half and the Battle of the Atlantic was well underway), Launders was posted to his first submarine assignment aboard HMS P35. In recognition of his outstanding service during that critical phase of the Battle of the Atlantic, Launders was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross on 22 December 1942. He was subsequently promoted to lieutenant on 1 April 1943. His career was on a "fast track", and on 18 May 1943, he received his first command, one that would make him famous: HMS Venturer.

Venturer was Launders' first submarine posting, but his intellect, quick thinking, and leadership had put him in position for just such a challenging command. Venturer was a fast-attack "hunter-killer" sub, whose mission was to hunt for enemy shipping and other submarines, attack them, and to effect a speedy getaway without engaging in a prolonged action. Launders was a "rising star" in the Royal Navy submarine command at the time. a "boy-wonder with a genius for mathematics," which gave him a tremendous edge in making the necessary vector calculations (manual or minimally mechanical-computer assisted figuring of speed and trajectories for targets, torpedoes, attacking vessels, currents, etc.) that were part of submarine warfare tactics of the day.

The Royal Navy staff's opinion of Launders' capabilities was apparently shared by his crew. Regarding his time aboard Venturer with Launders, former Royal Navy Sub Lieutenant John Frederick Watson (a retired geologist who served with Launders during the war aboard Venturer and was decorated "Awarded for Great Keenness and Devotion to Duty" for his actions during that time) stated:

It was very much a Band of Brothers. Only 37 in the crew and Launders was way ahead in terms of his experience, his knowledge, his abilities; it was obvious to the rest of us. Nobody thought to question what he decided to do.

Former Able Seaman and retired Royal Navy instructor Henry James Plummer also served aboard Venturer during the war with both Launders and Watson. Himself decorated ("Awarded for Courage, Cheerfulness, and Alertness"), Watson said of Launders:

We trusted him. We knew he was a good commander. We’d have gone to the end of the Earth with him…because he was that good.

King George VI also praised Launders, declaring him "...a fearless and skillful commander."

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