3rd - After Germany
invaded Poland on the 1st,
and France demanded the withdrawal of German
ultimatum expired and at 11.15am on the 3rd,
Minister Neville Chamberlain broadcast to
announce that Britain
was at war with Germany. He formed a War
Winston Churchill as First Lord of the
Australia, New Zealand and India
(through the Viceroy) declared war the same day.
10th - Home
submarines on patrol off southwest Norway
first casualty in tragic circumstances. "OXLEY"
in error by
"Triton" and went down off Obrestad.
20th - British
Fleet submarines gained their first success in
Heligoland Bight when "Sturgeon" sank German
patrol ship "V-209".
4th - On
the Heligoland Bight, submarine "Salmon" (Lt
Cdr Bickford) sank outward bound "U-36". She was
successful again nine
"Salmon" torpedoed and damaged German cruisers
"Leipzig" and "Nurnberg" in the North Sea as
they covered a
destroyer mine laying operation off the Tyne
north east England.
Losses due to Royal Navy
1940 - 33 German ships of 135,000grt
June -December 1940 -
10 Italian ships of 44,500grt
Home Fleet submarines suffered heavy losses in
Heligoland area at the hands of minesweeper
starting with “SEAHORSE”. On the same day
Submarine Undine (Navy Photos/Mark Teadham)
9th - Two days
in the Heligoland Bight were abandoned.
In response to reported German
of the Home Fleet sailed from Scapa
Rosyth. More than 20 submarines,
French and one Polish took up
- Germany invaded Denmark and
“THISTLE” on patrol off Utsira
failed in an attack on “U-4”.
after she was sunk by the same
Submarine “TARPON” on patrol off
Norway was sunk by German
“M-6”. German gunnery training ship
and sunk by submarine
days after sinking the “Brummer”,
sunk in the Skagerrak by
German anti-submarine trawlers.
collision with a Norwegian
merchantman off the northeast coast of England.
Submarine “SEAL” successfully laid mines in the
Kattegat on the 4th before being damaged by a
mine. Trying to make for neutral Sweden on the
she was attacked and captured off the Skaw by
and sea patrols.
8th - On the
day of the Norwegian campaign the Polish “ORZEL”
on passage to her patrol area and
made famous after escaping from invaded Poland,
presumed mined. Another Allied boat was lost
20th - Dutch
submarine “0-13” also on passage to her
patrol area was torpedoed in error by Polish
“Wilk”. More recent research suggests she was
more likely sunk 13 June 1940 in a German
20th - As the
damaged battlecruiser “Scharnhorst” headed for
Germany from Norway, “Gneisenau” feinted towards
Iceland. West of
Trondheim she was torpedoed and damaged by
submarine “Clyde”. Both battlecruisers were out
of action during the critical phases of the
Britain until the end of the year.
Declared War - Italy
declared war on Britain and France on the 10th.
later France was out of the war. Still on the
Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand and South
declared war on Italy.
Royal Navy started with ten
submarines based in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Mediterranean Fleet submarines operated out of
on patrol off Italian bases and soon lost three
time mines were usually blamed, but it turns out
anti-submarine forces were far more effective
expected. The first loss was “ODIN”
the Italian coast in the Gulf
of Taranto, sunk by the guns and torpedoed of
16th - The
minelaying off Augusta, Sicily was
caught and sunk by large torpedo boats “Circe”
19th - Towards
other end of the North African coast, the third
loss “ORPHEUS” (3)
to the bottom by Italian destroyer
“Turbine” north of the Cyrenaica port of
Tobruk, soon to become a household name .
20th - Italian
“Parthian” off Tobruk, Libya.
6th - Home
submarines carried out patrols off the coast of
Norway, but with heavy losses in July. Late on
the 5th, "SHARK" was
by German aircraft and
next morning of the 6th had to be scuttled off
July - A few
later submarine "SALMON"
on mines. Later still "THAMES"
mined in the middle of
the North Sea on passage to her patrol area.
26th - As the
damaged German battlecruiser "Gneisenau" made
for Germany from Norway, submarine "Swordfish"
carried out an attack and sank escorting torpedo
Augusta and was lost to depth charges from
torpedo boat "Albatros".
Submarine "Cachalot "on Bay of Biscay patrol
sank the returning "U-51" off Lorient, western
Submarine "SPEARFISH" on patrol in the North Sea
torpedoed by "U-34" and sunk.
the same day. After leaving the English east
Humber Estuary on 22nd July for a minelaying
Norway, she failed to return.
Submarine "OSWALD" on patrol south of the Strait
Messina reported Italian Navy movements. She was
and later rammed and sunk by destroyer
submarine "Osiris" on patrol in the southern
Adriatic attacked a convoy and sank Italian
torpedo boat "PALESTRO".
18th - The
submarine "H-49", on anti-invasion patrol off
coast, was lost to German A/S trawlers.
15th - On
off Calabria, south west Italy in the Ionian
submarine "RAINBOW" (cause of loss to be
clarified) was lost
in a gun action with the Italian submarine
Toti" . At about this time "TRIAD"
mined off the Gulf of Taranto.
Submarine "SWORDFISH", setting out on Bay of
patrol, struck an enemy mine off the Isle of
southern England and sank.
December - Submarines "REGULUS" and
were lost in
late November or early
December, possibly mined in the Strait of
Otranto area at
the southern end of the Adriatic Sea.
"Regulus" may have been sunk by Italian
aircraft on 26th November.
Losses due to Royal Navy
waters in January-December
1941 - 21 ships of 56,000 grt
January -December 1941
- 88 Italian ships of 282,300grt and
ships of 5,400grt
British submarine "SNAPPER", after leaving her
escort off Lands End for
patrol in the Bay of Biscay. was not heard from
She failed to rendezvous back on the 12th
possibly lost on mines.
25th - On
off the east coast of Tunisia, submarine
"Upright" torpedoed and sank Italian cruiser
DIAZ" covering a
convoy from Naples to Tripoli.
28th - Mines
by submarine "Rorqual" west of Sicily on the
25th, sank two Italian supply ships the next day
torpedo boat "CHINOTTO" on the 28th.
her successes, "Rorqual" torpedoed and sank
submarine "CAPPONI" off northeast Sicily.
- Two submarines operating out of Malta were
possibly due to mines - "USK" in the Strait of
Sicily area and "UNDAUNTED" off Tripoli. "Usk"
have been sunk by Italian destroyers west of
attacking a convoy.
Operations - "Upholder" (Lt-Cdr Wanklyn)
attacked a strongly escorted troop convoy off
of Sicily on the 24th May and sank 18,000-ton
Rosso". + Lt-Cdr
Malcolm Wanklyn RN was subsequently awarded the
Cross for this and other successful patrols as
"Parthian" torpedoed Vichy French submarine
"SOUFFLEUR" during the British-Free French
campaign to occupy Lebanon and Syria.
"Triumph" on patrol off the Egyptian coast sank
the Italian submarine "SALPA".
Submarine "UMPIRE", working up and on passage
with an East Coast convoy, was rammed and sunk
by an armed trawler escorting a southbound
"Torbay" on patrol in the Aegean Sea sank
Italian submarine "JANTINA".
20th - Two
British submarines fell victim to Italian
forces during convoy attacks in July - the first
was "UNION" to torpedo boat "Circe"
30th - The
loss to Italian anti-submarine forces during
attacks was "CACHALOT" while on passage from
Malta to Alexandria,
rammed by torpedo boat "Papa".
"Severn" on patrol for U-boats attacking HG
convoys west of Gibraltar, torpedoed and sank
Submarine "P-32" was
lost on mines
off Tripoli as she
attempted to attack a convoy entering the port.
lost around the same time in
this area, possibly on mines.
26th - As an
Italian battlefleet returned from a sortie
H, submarine “Triumph” torpedoed and damaged
heavy cruiser "Bolzano" north of Sicily.
Malta - The 10th
Flotilla was formed at Malta with
the smaller 'U' class boats which were more
Mediterranean conditions. On the 18th, Lt-Cdr
"Upholder" sank the 19,500-ton transports
"Neptunia" and "Oceania". Between June and the
September, submarines sank a total of 49 ships
tons. Added to the losses inflicted by the RAF
this was a
high proportion of Axis shipping bound for
"Upright" sank Italian torpedo boat "ALBATROS"
off Messina, northeast Sicily.
20th - Mines
previously laid by submarine "Rorqual" in the
Gulf of Athens sank Italian torpedo boats
"ALDEBARAN" and "ALTAIR".
Late October -
Submarine "TETRARCH" sailed from Malta for
Gibraltar but failed
to arrive, presumed lost on mines in the Strait
26th - Old
by the 26th, possibly lost on
mines during Bay of Biscay patrol.
patrol off the west coast of Greece was mined
off Zante Island. Just one man made an amazing
the surface and reached the distant shore.
“Truant” sank Italian torpedo boat “ALCIONE”
north of Crete.
Losses due to Royal Navy
waters in January-December
1942 - 12 ships of 30,000grt
January -December 1942
- 83 Italian ships of 223,400grt and
ships of 29,400grt
Early January -
Submarine "TRIUMPH" sailed from Alexandria on
26th December for
a cloak-and-dagger landing near Athens before
in the Aegean. She reported the landing on the
failed to rendezvous back there on the 9th and
presumed mined off the island of Milo, southeast
5th - Three
submarines fell victim to their RN counterparts
different patrol areas in January. The first was
north of Sicily to
Lt-Cdr Wanklyn's "Upholder".
12th - The
Axis loss was German "U-374" off the east coast
of Sicily to
"Unbeaten" (Lt-Cdr E. A. Woodward).
30th - The
was Italian submarine "MEDUSA" torpedoed by
the Gulf of Venice, in the far north of the
- Following the "Channel Dash", heavy
cruiser "Prinz Eugen" sailed with pocket
Scheer" to join "Tirpitz" in Norway. Off
Trondheim, submarine "Trident" torpedoed and
heavily damaged her on the 23rd.
13th - Two
Navy submarines were lost. The first was
"TEMPEST" which torpedoed a supply ship off
the Gulf of Taranto but was depth-charged by the
including Italian torpedo boat "Circe", brought
to the surface and soon sunk.
16th - A
submarine was saved by the gallantry of her
counter-attacked by the
escorts of a convoy, off northern Crete. Two
bombs lodged between the casing and hull, and
likelihood of drowning should she be forced to
two of the boat's crew managed to remove them.
Roberts RN and Petty Officer Thomas Gould were
23rd - Ten
convoy off Tripoli and was also lost to the
counter-attack which again included Italian
- Another submariner won the Victoria Cross.
after, Royal Navy submarines sank three more
submarines, all Italian, in the space of four
Submarine Torbay (Cdr Miers) carried out a
attack on shipping off Corfu on the 4th and
merchantmen. This was only the latest of a
successful patrols. Cdr Anthony Miers RN was
awarded the Victoria Cross.
14th - The
Italian submarine sinking was "MILLO" off
Calabria in the Ionian Sea by
17th - The
was "GUGLIELMOTTI" also off Calabria, by
"Unbeaten" (Lt-Cdr Woodward).
the southern Adriatic, torpedoed by "Upholder"
"Urge" sank Italian cruiser "BANDE
NERE" north of
Sicily. This was a welcome success in a month
heavy Royal Navy losses including "Urge"
Malta - By now
Malta had almost ceased to be of any value as a
attacking Rommel's supply lines, and most of his
transports were getting through. The German and
bombing led to the loss, directly and
numerous ships including four destroyers and
submarines: 1st - Submarines "P-36" and
sunk in Malta
and others of the 10th
Flotilla damaged. "Pandora" had only recently
arrived from Gibraltar on a supply trip. 4th
Greek submarine "GLAVKOS" was sunk in Malta. 14th
Flotilla lost its most famous boat when
(Lt-Cdr Wanklyn VC) went missing. She attacked a
northeast of Tripoli and was presumed sunk in
counter-attack by destroyer escort "Pegaso". 27th
- By this time the 10th Submarine Flotilla had
ordered to leave Malta. "URGE" sailed for
Alexandria on the 27th,
but failed to arrive.
Minesweeper "Seagull" and Norwegian destroyer
"St Albans", part of the escort of Russian
Convoy PQ15, sank Polish submarine "JASTRZAB" in
Submarine "OLYMPUS" sailed from Malta for
with many passengers including the crews of
"P-36" and "P-39". Just off Grand
Harbour she hit a mine laid by German E-boats
down with heavy loss of life.
29th - In a
of attacks on convoys bound for North Africa,
"Turbulent" (Cdr Linton) sank three transports
in May and on the 29th torpedoed and sank
Italian destroyer "PESSAGNO" northwest of
21st - Ex-US
submarine "P-514" on passage around the coast of
from Argentia to St Johns was rammed and sunk in
Canadian sloop "Georgian".
"Unbroken" was the first 10th Flotilla
submarine to return to the Island.
3rd - On
anti-U-boat patrol between the Shetlands and
submarine "Saracen" torpedoed "U-335" on passage
Submarine "THORN" attacked
a tanker off
southwest Crete and was
presumed sunk in the counter-attack by Italian
22nd - Italian
torpedo boat "CANTORE"
lost on mines
laid by submarine
"Porpoise" northeast of Tobruk.
Convoy PQ18 - PQ18 left Loch
Scotland on the
2nd with over 40 merchantmen. Close
provided by 17 warships plus escort carrier
"Avenger" and two destroyers. Two separate
forces were in support - close cover was given
cruiser "Scylla" and 16 fleet destroyers and
further out three heavy cruisers. More distant
by battleships "Anson" and "Duke of
York", a light cruiser and destroyers to the
northeast of Iceland. Home Fleet submarines
on patrol off the Norwegian Lofoten Islands and
Norway. Of the original 40 ships, 27 reached
the 17th in exchange for three U-boats.
on the 10th with stores for
Malta. She reported a U-boat off Philippeville,
Algeria on the 15th, but was not heard from
presumed mined in the Strait of Sicily.
Submarine "UNIQUE" on passage from Britain to
last reported on the 9th off Land's End, south
England. She was never heard from again.
In preparation for Operation 'Torch', US Gen
landed in Algeria from submarine "Seraph" to
help persuade the Vichy French authorities to
coming Allied landings. Gen Giraud was to be
from unoccupied France, again in "Seraph", to
head pro-Allied Frenchmen.
19th - South
Pantelleria, submarine "Unbending" attacked an
Axis convoy bound for Tripoli, sinking a
Italian destroyer "DA VERAZZANO".
North Africa -
the Second Battle of El Alamein, Gen
started the last and decisive British campaign
Axis forces in Egypt. In the build-up to the
Royal Navy submarines and RAF
especially those based in Malta, were sinking
more than a
third of Axis supplies setting out for North
on patrol in the Bay of Biscay for U-boats on
and from Atlantic operations, was accidentally
lost in an
attack by a RAF Wellington.
French North African Landings:
9th - In
Royal Navy submarine operations in the Central
Mediterranean off northwest Sicily, "Saracen"
sank Italian submarine "GRANITO".
Relief of Malta -
A convoy of four
ships, escorted by
three cruisers and 10 destroyers, got through on
Its arrival effectively marked the lifting of
and bloody siege of Malta. Since Operation
January 1941, two aircraft carriers, four
destroyers and five submarines had
been lost in
the many attempts to supply and reinforce the
in the heavy air attacks launched against the
24th - Off
northwest Sicily, "UTMOST"
Operations - Throughout the month, British
were on patrol in the Western Mediterranean and
of their number. In return they sank several
including two Italian warships. Early
December - "TRAVELLER"
left Malta on
28th November for the Gulf
of Taranto. Overdue by the 8th December, she was
mined in her patrol area. 6th - "Tigris"
sank Italian submarine "PORFIDO" north of Bone.
12th - In
the Gulf of Naples submarine "P-222"
to Italian torpedo boat
"Fortunale" while attacking a convoy. 17th
- North of Bizerta, "Splendid" sank Italian
destroyer "AVIERE" escorting a convoy to North
- As an
Axis convoy headed into Tunis, "U" class
but was sunk
by Italian destroyer
escorts "Ardente" and "Ardito". Late
December - At the end of the month
submarine "P-311" sailed for Maddalena, Sardinia
with Chariot human torpedoes for an attack on
cruisers based there. Her last signal was on the
December and she was presumed lost on mines in
approaches to the port.