In WW2 there is always fantastic stories to be found.
https://2ndww.blogspot.com/2016/04/personal-memories-of-hms-fidelity.html some excerpts much more at this link
The original French civilian skipper (‘Lieutenant de vaisseau’) of ‘Le Rhin’ in 1940 René Victor Cannebotin (born Bordeaux, 25 May 1899). He served in the Royal Navy on ‘Fidelity’ under the ‘nom de guerre’ of Lieutenant-Commander René W. Doudet. However, the self-appointed commander of ‘Le Rhin’ in the summer of 1940 was a French ‘5e Bureau’ agent (‘Enseigne de vaisseau) Claude Andre Michel Péri (born 7 April 1908, Hanoi, French Indo-China). Photograph No. 3 (above) shows Claude Péri (on the left) and ‘Le Rhin’ as a French merchant navy vessel (on the right). Claude Péri’s ‘nom de guerre’ while serving in the Royal Navy was Jack Langlais (i.e. Jack of England!).
Most of the original French merchant navy crew left ‘Le Rhin’ after she put into Gibraltar. With the political grave military situation of the time it had become a rebellious crew. The Frenchmen who remained were determined to continue the fight.
There was also a Frenchwoman on board: Madeleine Victorine Bayard (born 21 February 1911, Paris). She was a saboteur ‘par excellence’ and romantically attached to Claude Péri. Unusually for a Royal Navy vessel, Madeleine Bayard continued to serve at sea on H.M.S. Fidelity as a WRNS officer (1st Officer) with the ‘nom de guerre’ of Madeleine Barclay.
How did this trio of Belgian army officers come to serve on a French Merchant Navy vessel converted to a Royal Navy vessel? According to Jack de Brabant:
“You see, Claude Péri, the self-appointed captain – wanted to get to Britain to fight what he thought, what we all thought, would be the last battle. He was delighted to sign us on – although of course we knew very little about the sea.”
What was it like serving on the same vessel as Claude Péri [seen in photograph No. 2 (left)]? Eamonn Andrews, the presenter of “This is Your Life”, described Claude Péri as “… a regular Captain Bligh”. Evidently, it was an almost impossible task to deal with Claude Péri. According to Jean ‘Pipitte’ Peters (who served in the Royal Navy under the ‘nom de guerre’ of Johnny O’Neill):
“… he was very big and very tough, and settled any arguments with his fists. Lieutenant Guérisse was the only one of us who could do anything with him”.
Nevertheless, according to Peter Painter, there was one thing that united this motley crew that sailed into Barry docks after leaving Gibraltar: “… a burning desire to get on with the war and start fighting”. In addition, according to Commander Painter, there was nothing regular about the ship and her crew:
“Well, everything about the ship’s company was unorthodox – I’d never seen anything like it. There was even a female saboteur (Madeleine Bayard) on board who’d come back from Paris with some very secret plastic explosive, you know!”
In 1941 Fidelity operated off the coast of Southern France under the direction of the Special Operations Executive (SOE), landing agents and picking up escaped prisoners, disguised as Spanish or Portuguese freighters. She also took part in small-scale sabotage operations. In 1942 Fidelity was refitted to operate as a commando carrier for operations in south-east Asia. She was armed with four 4-inch guns, four 21-inch torpedo tubes, and carried two OS2U Kingfisher floatplanes, the motor torpedo boat MTB-105, and the landing craft HMS LCV-752 and LCV-754.
She never arrived to South East Asia
On 30 December she was torpedoed and sunk by U-435 under the command of Siegfried Strelow at position 43°23′N 27°07′WCoordinates: 43°23′N 27°07′W with the loss of 274 crew, 51 Marines and 44 survivors from SS Empire Shackleton. The only survivors were the eight crew of the motor torpedo boat, detached on anti-submarine patrol, who were later picked up by HMCS Woodstock (K238), and two crewmen of a seaplane that had crashed on take off on 28 December and been picked up by HMCS St. Laurent (H83). To this day 40 Commando has never reused T as a company designation in memory of the loss.