We Dive at Dawn
We Dive at Dawn is a 1943 war film directed by Anthony Asquith and starring John Mills and Eric Portman as Royal Navy submariners in the Second World War. It was written by Val Valentine and J. B. Williams with uncredited assistance from Frank Launder. It was produced by Edward Black. The film's sets were designed by Walter Murton.
|We Dive at Dawn|
|Directed by||Anthony Asquith|
|Produced by||Edward Black|
|Written by||Story and screenplay:|
J. B. Williams
|Music by||Louis Levy|
|Cinematography||Jack E. Cox|
|Edited by||R.E. Dearing|
|Distributed by||General Film Distributors|
|15 April 1943|
Lieutenant Taylor (John Mills) and the rest of the crew of the submarine Sea Tiger are given a week's leave after an unsuccessful patrol. Hobson (Eric Portman) goes home to save his marriage, while a reluctant Corrigan (Niall MacGinnis) heads off to his wedding. Then the crew are called back to duty, much to Corrigan's relief, though he later has second thoughts. Sea Tiger is assigned the top secret mission of sinking Nazi Germany's new battleship, the Brandenburg, before she enters the Kiel Canal to begin sea trials in the Baltic Sea.
On their way, the submarine picks up three shot-down Luftwaffe pilots from a rescue buoy. When the submarine enters a minefield, an airman panics and reveals that the Brandenburg is further ahead than believed. Taylor decides to take a desperate gamble and enter the German-controlled Baltic in pursuit.
When the Brandenburg is spotted, Sea Tiger fires all its torpedoes, then dives to evade German destroyers dropping depth charges. By expelling oil and other debris, Taylor fools the Germans into believing that the submarine has sunk. They leave, but Sea Tiger no longer has enough oil to return to Britain.
Taylor decides to have his crew abandon ship near a Danish island. Hobson, a former merchant seaman who speaks German and knows the port on the island, persuades Taylor to let him go ashore in one of the airmen's uniforms to find oil. He succeeds. Sea Tiger refuels while Hobson and other crewmen hold off the German garrison. While they hold them off, Pincher (the cook) is killed and Oxford and Lieutenant Johnson are wounded, but they all get back to the sub.
When they return to base, the crew hear they sank the Brandenburg. Waiting for them are Corrigan's fiancée and Hobson's wife and son.
We Dive at Dawn was filmed at Gaumont-British Studios in London, with the co-operation of the British Admiralty. John Mills prepared for his role as the captain of Sea Tiger by sailing in a submarine on a training mission down the Clyde. He recalled a crash dive:
The ship then seemed to stand on her nose and I felt her speeding like an arrow towards the sea bed; charts and crockery went flying in all directions; I hung on to a rail near the periscope trying to look heroic and totally unconcerned; the only thing that concerned me was the fact that I was sure that my face had turned a pale shade of pea-green.
Exterior shots of the submarine P614 were used for Sea Tiger (with the final number painted over to make "P61"). The vessel was a Turkish S-class submarine that had been part of a consignment ordered by the Turkish Navy from the British company Vickers in 1939. But with the outbreak of World War II, the four boats were requisitioned by the Royal Navy and designated the P611 class in the British Fleet. They were similar in design but slightly smaller than the British S class, although with a higher conning tower. The S-class boat HMS Safari also appears in the film.
The film has been issued on VHS by Madacy Records and Timeless Multimedia among others, and on DVD by ITV DVD and Carlton.