The ASDIC ‘Committee’
Commander Fraser M. McKee, Royal Canadian Naval Reserve (Retired)
At 95, I’m a long-retired Canadian Naval Reservist, joining in March 1943 and fully retiring in 1978. In my early years, I was a “TAS”—torpedo antisubmarine—specialist. I much enjoyed Lieutenant Commander Cutler’s “Bluejacket’s Manual” column (April, p. 5) on the development of sonar—ASDIC in my days. As for his note about that acronym not standing for a “committee,” I can add the source for that canard.
In the House of Commons, Prime Minister Winston Churchill happened to use the term ASDIC in a speech, and a member asked him what it meant. Not knowing, he telephoned the Admiralty, and in his usual manner, wanted an immediate reply. In a quick ask-around, no one just then had any idea. So, figuring Churchill and the House certainly wouldn’t know any different, they quickly replied with the fictional Allied Submarine Detection International Committee. Churchill told the House, and the explanation went into the official Parliamentary transcript and is often quoted by otherwise quite reliable historians. After all, Churchill said so.