DECLARATIONS OF WAR
3rd - After Germany invaded
Poland on the 1st, Britain
and France demanded the withdrawal of German forces. The
ultimatum expired and at 11.15am on the 3rd, Prime
Minister Neville Chamberlain broadcast to announce that Britain
was at war with Germany. He formed a War Cabinet with
Winston Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty. France,
Australia, New Zealand and India
(through the Viceroy) declared war the same day.
10th - Home Fleet
submarines on patrol off southwest Norway suffered their
first casualty in tragic circumstances. "OXLEY"
was torpedoed in error by
"Triton" and went down off Obrestad.
20th - British Home
Fleet submarines gained their first success in the
Heligoland Bight when "Sturgeon" sank German
patrol ship "V-209".
4th - On patrol off
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 Estuary,
north east England.
Shipping Losses due to Royal Navy Submarines in
European waters January-December
1940 - 33 German ships of 135,000grt
Mediterranean June -December 1940 -
10 Italian ships of 44,500grt
Home Fleet submarines suffered heavy losses in the
Heligoland area at the hands of minesweeper patrols,
starting with SEAHORSE. On the same day UNDINE
HM Submarine Undine
(Navy Photos/Mark Teadham)
9th - Two days
later STARFISH was
lost. British submarine operations
in the Heligoland Bight were abandoned.
In response to reported German movements, units
of the Home Fleet sailed from Scapa Flow and
Rosyth. More than 20 submarines, including three
French and one Polish took up positions.
- Germany invaded Denmark and Norway
10th - Submarine THISTLE on patrol off Utsira
failed in an attack on U-4. Shortly
after she was sunk by the same U-boat.
Submarine TARPON on patrol off southern
Norway was sunk by German minesweeper
M-6. German gunnery training ship BRUMMER
was torpedoed and sunk by submarine
18th - Four
days after sinking the Brummer, STERLET
was presumed sunk in the Skagerrak by
German anti-submarine trawlers.
was lost in collision with a Norwegian
merchantman off the northeast coast of England.
Submarine SEAL successfully laid mines in the southern
Kattegat on the 4th before being damaged by a German
mine. Trying to make for neutral Sweden on the surface,
she was attacked and captured off the Skaw by German air
and sea patrols.
8th - On the last
day of the Norwegian campaign the Polish ORZEL on passage to her patrol area and
made famous after escaping from invaded Poland, was
presumed mined. Another Allied boat was lost twelve days
20th - Dutch
submarine 0-13 also on passage to her Norwegian
patrol area was torpedoed in error by Polish
Wilk. More recent research suggests she was
more likely sunk 13 June 1940 in a German minefield in
20th - As the
damaged battlecruiser Scharnhorst headed for
Germany from Norway, Gneisenau feinted towards Iceland. West of
Trondheim she was torpedoed and damaged by British
submarine Clyde. Both battlecruisers were out
of action during the critical phases of the Battle for
Britain until the end of the year.
Declared War - Italy
declared war on Britain and France on the 10th. Two weeks
later France was out of the war. Still on the 10th,
Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand and South Africa
declared war on Italy.
The Royal Navy started with ten
submarines based in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Mediterranean Fleet submarines operated out of Alexandria
on patrol off Italian bases and soon lost three of their
(1-3). At the
time mines were usually blamed, but it turns out Italian
anti-submarine forces were far more effective than
expected. The first loss was ODIN
(1) off the Italian coast in the Gulf
of Taranto, sunk by the guns and torpedoed of destroyer
16th - The second
British submarine GRAMPUS
(2), minelaying off Augusta, Sicily was
caught and sunk by large torpedo boats Circe
19th - Towards the
other end of the North African coast, the third British
loss ORPHEUS (3) was sent to the bottom by Italian destroyer
Turbine north of the Cyrenaica port of
Tobruk, soon to become a household name .
20th - Italian
was torpedoed by submarine
Parthian off Tobruk, Libya.
6th - Home Fleet
submarines carried out patrols off the coast of southwest
Norway, but with heavy losses in July. Late on the 5th, "SHARK"
was badly damaged by German aircraft and
next morning of the 6th had to be scuttled off Skudenses.
July - A few days
later submarine "SALMON"
was presumed lost on mines. Later still "THAMES"
was also probably 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 boat "LUCHS".
16th - Submarine "PHOENIX"
an escorted tanker off
Augusta and was lost to depth charges from Italian
torpedo boat "Albatros".
Submarine "Cachalot "on Bay of Biscay patrol
sank the returning "U-51" off Lorient, western France
Submarine "SPEARFISH" on patrol in the North Sea was
torpedoed by "U-34" and sunk.
off the same day. After leaving the English east coast
Humber Estuary on 22nd July for a minelaying mission off
Norway, she failed to return.
1st - Submarine "OSWALD" on patrol south of the Strait of
Messina reported Italian Navy movements. She was detected
and later rammed and sunk by destroyer
22nd - British
submarine "Osiris" on patrol in the southern
Adriatic attacked a convoy and sank Italian torpedo boat "PALESTRO".
18th - The old
submarine "H-49", on anti-invasion patrol off the Dutch
coast, was lost to German A/S trawlers.
15th - On patrol
off Calabria, south west Italy in the Ionian Sea,
submarine "RAINBOW" (cause of loss to be clarified) was
in a gun action with the Italian submarine "Enrico
Toti" . At about this time "TRIAD"
was probably mined off the Gulf of Taranto.
16th - Submarine "SWORDFISH", setting out on Bay of Biscay
patrol, struck an enemy mine off the Isle of Wight,
southern England and sank.
December - Submarines "REGULUS" and "TRITON" were lost in late November or early
December, possibly mined in the Strait of Otranto area at
the southern end of the Adriatic Sea. Alternatively
"Regulus" may have been sunk by Italian
aircraft on 26th November.
Shipping Losses due to Royal Navy Submarines in
European waters in January-December
1941 - 21 ships of 56,000 grt
Mediterranean January -December 1941
- 88 Italian ships of 282,300grt and 3 German
ships of 5,400grt
Early February -
British submarine "SNAPPER", after leaving her escort off Lands End for
patrol in the Bay of Biscay. was not heard from again.
She failed to rendezvous back on the 12th February,
possibly lost on mines.
25th - On patrol
off the east coast of Tunisia, submarine
"Upright" torpedoed and sank Italian cruiser "ARMANDO
DIAZ" covering a
convoy from Naples to Tripoli.
28th - Mines laid
by submarine "Rorqual" west of Sicily on the
25th, sank two Italian supply ships the next day and
torpedo boat "CHINOTTO" on the 28th.
31st - Continuing
her successes, "Rorqual" torpedoed and sank
submarine "CAPPONI" off northeast Sicily.
Late April/early May
- Two submarines operating out of Malta were lost,
possibly due to mines - "USK" in the Strait of Sicily area and "UNDAUNTED" off Tripoli. "Usk" may
have been sunk by Italian destroyers west of Sicily while
attacking a convoy.
Royal Navy Submarine
Operations - "Upholder" (Lt-Cdr Wanklyn)
attacked a strongly escorted troop convoy off the coast
of Sicily on the 24th May and sank 18,000-ton liner "Conte
Rosso". + Lt-Cdr
Malcolm Wanklyn RN was subsequently awarded the Victoria
Cross for this and other successful patrols as commander
25th - Submarine
"Parthian" torpedoed Vichy French submarine
"SOUFFLEUR" during the British-Free French
campaign to occupy Lebanon and Syria.
27th - Submarine
"Triumph" on patrol off the Egyptian coast sank
the Italian submarine "SALPA".
19th - Submarine "UMPIRE", working up and on passage north
with an East Coast convoy, was rammed and sunk off Cromer
by an armed trawler escorting a southbound convoy.
5th - Submarine
"Torbay" on patrol in the Aegean Sea sank
Italian submarine "JANTINA".
20th - Two more
British submarines fell victim to Italian anti-submarine
forces during convoy attacks in July - the first was "UNION" to torpedo boat "Circe"
30th - The second
loss to Italian anti-submarine forces during convoy
attacks was "CACHALOT" while on passage from Malta to Alexandria,
rammed by torpedo boat "Papa".
7th - Submarine
"Severn" on patrol for U-boats attacking HG
convoys west of Gibraltar, torpedoed and sank Italian
18th - Submarine "P-32"
was lost on mines off Tripoli as she
attempted to attack a convoy entering the port. "P.33"
was also lost around the same time in
this area, possibly on mines.
26th - As an
Italian battlefleet returned from a sortie against Force
H, submarine Triumph torpedoed and damaged
heavy cruiser "Bolzano" north of Sicily.
Malta - The 10th
Submarine Flotilla was formed at Malta with
the smaller 'U' class boats which were more suited to
Mediterranean conditions. On the 18th, Lt-Cdr Wanklyn in
"Upholder" sank the 19,500-ton transports "Neptunia" and "Oceania". Between June and the end of
September, submarines sank a total of 49 ships of 150,000
tons. Added to the losses inflicted by the RAF this was a
high proportion of Axis shipping bound for Libya.
27th - Submarine
"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 of
26th - Old
was overdue by the 26th, possibly lost on
mines during Bay of Biscay patrol.
6th - Submarine
patrol off the west coast of Greece was mined and sunk
off Zante Island. Just one man made an amazing escape to
the surface and reached the distant shore.
11th - Submarine
Truant sank Italian torpedo boat ALCIONE
north of Crete.
Shipping Losses due to Royal Navy Submarines in
European waters in January-December
1942 - 12 ships of 30,000grt
Mediterranean January -December 1942
- 83 Italian ships of 223,400grt and 11 German
ships of 29,400grt
Early January -
Submarine "TRIUMPH" sailed from Alexandria on 26th December for
a cloak-and-dagger landing near Athens before patrolling
in the Aegean. She reported the landing on the 30th, but
failed to rendezvous back there on the 9th and was
presumed mined off the island of Milo, southeast of the
5th - Three Axis
submarines fell victim to their RN counterparts in
different patrol areas in January. The first was Italian "SAINT-BON"
north of Sicily to
Lt-Cdr Wanklyn's "Upholder".
12th - The second
Axis loss was German "U-374" off the east coast of Sicily to
"Unbeaten" (Lt-Cdr E. A. Woodward).
30th - The third
was Italian submarine "MEDUSA" torpedoed by "Thorn" in
the Gulf of Venice, in the far north of the Adriatic.
German Surface Warships
- Following the "Channel Dash", heavy
cruiser "Prinz Eugen" sailed with pocket battleship "Admiral
Scheer" to join "Tirpitz" in Norway. Off
Trondheim, submarine "Trident" torpedoed and
heavily damaged her on the 23rd.
13th - Two Royal
Navy submarines were lost. The first was "TEMPEST" which torpedoed a supply ship off
the Gulf of Taranto but was depth-charged by the escorts
including Italian torpedo boat "Circe", brought
to the surface and soon sunk.
16th - A third
submarine was saved by the gallantry of her crew. "Thresher"
also counter-attacked by the
escorts of a convoy, off northern Crete. Two unexploded
bombs lodged between the casing and hull, and with the
likelihood of drowning should she be forced to submerge,
two of the boat's crew managed to remove them. Lt Peter
Roberts RN and Petty Officer Thomas Gould were awarded
23rd - Ten days
a heavily defended
convoy off Tripoli and was also lost to the escorts'
counter-attack which again included Italian torpedo boat
RN Submarine Operations
- Another submariner won the Victoria Cross. Shortly
after, Royal Navy submarines sank three more Axis
submarines, all Italian, in the space of four days. HM
Submarine Torbay (Cdr Miers) carried out a difficult
attack on shipping off Corfu on the 4th and torpedoed two
merchantmen. This was only the latest of a number of
successful patrols. Cdr Anthony Miers RN was awarded the Victoria Cross.
14th - The first
Italian submarine sinking was "MILLO" off Calabria in the Ionian Sea by
17th - The second
was "GUGLIELMOTTI" also off Calabria, by
"Unbeaten" (Lt-Cdr Woodward).
18th - Finally "TRICHECO"
down off Brindisi in
the southern Adriatic, torpedoed by "Upholder"
1st - Submarine
"Urge" sank Italian cruiser "BANDE
NERE" north of
Sicily. This was a welcome success in a month that saw
heavy Royal Navy losses including "Urge"
Malta - By now
Malta had almost ceased to be of any value as a base for
attacking Rommel's supply lines, and most of his
transports were getting through. The German and Italian
bombing led to the loss, directly and indirectly, of
numerous ships including four destroyers and four
submarines: 1st - Submarines "P-36" and "PANDORA"
were 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 - 10th
Flotilla lost its most famous boat when
(Lt-Cdr Wanklyn VC) went missing. She attacked a convoy
northeast of Tripoli and was presumed sunk in the
counter-attack by destroyer escort "Pegaso". 27th
- By this time the 10th Submarine Flotilla had been
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 error .
8th - Submarine "OLYMPUS" sailed from Malta for Gibraltar
with many passengers including the crews of bombed boats
"P-36" and "P-39". Just off Grand
Harbour she hit a mine laid by German E-boats and went
down with heavy loss of life.
29th - In a series
of attacks on convoys bound for North Africa, submarine
"Turbulent" (Cdr Linton) sank three transports
in May and on the 29th torpedoed and sank escorting
Italian destroyer "PESSAGNO" northwest of Benghazi.
21st - Ex-US
submarine "P-514" on passage around the coast of Newfoundland
from Argentia to St Johns was rammed and sunk in error by
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 Norway,
submarine "Saracen" torpedoed "U-335" on passage out.
6th - Submarine "THORN"
attacked a tanker off southwest Crete and was
presumed sunk in the counter-attack by Italian escort
22nd - Italian
torpedo boat "CANTORE"
was lost on mines laid by submarine
"Porpoise" northeast of Tobruk.
Russian Convoy PQ18 - PQ18 left Loch
Ewe in Scotland on the
2nd with over 40 merchantmen. Close escort was
provided by 17 warships plus escort carrier
"Avenger" and two destroyers. Two separate
forces were in support - close cover was given by AA
cruiser "Scylla" and 16 fleet destroyers and
further out three heavy cruisers. More distant cover was
by battleships "Anson" and "Duke of
York", a light cruiser and destroyers to the
northeast of Iceland. Home Fleet submarines were
on patrol off the Norwegian Lofoten Islands and northern
Norway. Of the original 40 ships, 27 reached Archangel on
the 17th in exchange for three U-boats.
Submarine "TALISMAN" left Gibraltar on the 10th with stores for
Malta. She reported a U-boat off Philippeville, eastern
Algeria on the 15th, but was not heard from again -
presumed mined in the Strait of Sicily.
Early October -
Submarine "UNIQUE" on passage from Britain to Gibraltar was
last reported on the 9th off Land's End, south west
England. She was never heard from again.
French North Africa -
In preparation for Operation 'Torch', US Gen Mark Clark
landed in Algeria from submarine "Seraph" to
help persuade the Vichy French authorities to support the
coming Allied landings. Gen Giraud was to be smuggled
from unoccupied France, again in "Seraph", to
head pro-Allied Frenchmen.
19th - South of
Pantelleria, submarine "Unbending" attacked an
Axis convoy bound for Tripoli, sinking a transport and
Italian destroyer "DA VERAZZANO".
North Africa - With
the Second Battle of El Alamein, Gen Montgomery
started the last and decisive British campaign against
Axis forces in Egypt. In the build-up to the battle,
Royal Navy submarines and RAF aircraft,
especially those based in Malta, were sinking more than a
third of Axis supplies setting out for North Africa.
11th - Submarine
on patrol in the Bay of Biscay for U-boats on passage to
and from Atlantic operations, was accidentally lost in an
attack by a RAF Wellington.
8th - French North African Landings:
9th - In continuing
Royal Navy submarine operations in the Central
Mediterranean off northwest Sicily, "Saracen"
sank Italian submarine "GRANITO".
The Relief of Malta -
A convoy of four ships, escorted by
three cruisers and 10 destroyers, got through on the 20th.
Its arrival effectively marked the lifting of the long
and bloody siege of Malta. Since Operation 'Excess' in
January 1941, two aircraft carriers, four cruisers, 16
destroyers and five submarines had been lost in
the many attempts to supply and reinforce the island, and
in the heavy air attacks launched against the George
24th - Off
northwest Sicily, "UTMOST"
was lost to
Italian destroyer escort
Royal Navy Submarine
Operations - Throughout the month, British submarines
were on patrol in the Western Mediterranean and lost four
of their number. In return they sank several Axis ships
including two Italian warships. Early December - "TRAVELLER" left Malta on 28th November for the Gulf
of Taranto. Overdue by the 8th December, she was presumed
mined in her patrol area. 6th - "Tigris"
sank Italian submarine "PORFIDO" north of Bone. 12th - In
the Gulf of Naples submarine "P-222"
was lost to Italian torpedo boat
"Fortunale" while attacking a convoy. 17th
- North of Bizerta, "Splendid" sank Italian
destroyer "AVIERE" escorting a convoy to North Africa.
25th - As an
Axis convoy headed into Tunis, "U" class
attacked, 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 the
cruisers based there. Her last signal was on the 31st
December and she was presumed lost on mines in the
approaches to the port.