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CAMPAIGN SUMMARIES OF WORLD WAR 2

BRITISH SUBMARINES AT WAR

Part 2 of 2 - 1943-45

HMS/M Alcide (Navy Photos, click to enlarge) mainly postwar "A" class of 1,385/1,620t. Developed for long-range operations against the Japanese, only two were completed before VJ-Day.  

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1943

Axis Shipping Losses due to Royal Navy Submarines in 1943

European waters in January-December 1943 - 10 ships of 27,000grt

Mediterranean January -September 8th 1943 (Italian surrender) - 133 Italian and German ships of 230,800grt

Mediterranean figures for September-December 1944 have not been assembled

JANUARY 1943

Mediterranean

17th - Returning from carrying Axis supplies to Tunisia, Italian destroyer "BOMBARDIERE" was sunk off western Sicily by submarine "United".

 21st - Submarine "Sahib" on patrol off western Corsica sank German "U-301".

FEBRUARY 1943

Europe

23rd - On or around the 23rd, submarine "VANDAL" was lost, cause unknown as she worked up in the Firth of Clyde area of Scotland. Next day, sister-boat "UREDD" of the Royal Norwegian Navy was sunk off Norway

MARCH 1943

Mediterranean

Royal Navy Submarine Operations - The Royal Navy lost three 'T' class submarines: February/March - "TIGRIS" set out from Malta on 18th February for a patrol off Naples. She failed to reach Algiers on the 10th March, possibly mined off the Gulf of Tunis as she returned. 12th - "TURBULENT" (Cdr Linton) attacked an escorted ship off Maddalena, Sardinia and was presumed sunk in the counter-attack by Italian MTB escorts. + Cdr John Linton RN was awarded the Victoria Cross for his record as commanding officer of "Turbulent". The award was not gazetted until May 1943. 14th - "THUNDERBOLT" was lost off the north entrance to the Strait of Messina to Italian corvette "Cicogna".

APRIL 1943

Atlantic

7th - Submarine "Tuna" on Norwegian Arctic patrol sank "U-644" northwest of Narvik..

18th - "U-123" on patrol south of Freetown torpedoed and sank "P-615" (ex-Turkish) on passage to the South Atlantic Command to provide anti-submarine training.

Mediterranean

21st - Numerous Axis supply ships on the Tunisian route and elsewhere, and an Italian warship, fell victim to Royal Navy submarines. In return three were lost starting with "SPLENDID" to German destroyer "Hermes" (ex-Greek) south of Capri.

24th - After sinking a transport off northeast Sicily, "SAHIB" was counter-attacked by the escorts including a German Ju88 and finally sunk by Italian corvette "Gabbiano".

28th - "Unshaken" torpedoed and sank Italian torpedo boat "CLIMENE" off Sicily as she escorted a convoy.

Mid/Late April - "REGENT" on patrol in the Strait of Otranto may have attacked a small convoy near Bari, Italy on the 18th, but there was no response from the convoy escorts. She failed to return to Beirut at the end of the month and was presumed lost on mines in her patrol area.

'The Man Who Never Was'- Submarine "Seraph" released the body of a supposed Royal Marine officer into the sea off Spain. His false papers helped to persuade the Germans that the next Allied blows would fall on Sardinia and Greece as well as Sicily.

MAY 1943

Mediterranean

21st - Submarine "Sickle" on patrol south of Toulon, France torpedoed "U-303".  

Merchant Shipping War - In the first five months of 1942 Allied forces sank over 500 Axis merchantmen of 560,000 tons throughout the Mediterranean.

JUNE 1943

Atlantic

4th - Submarine "Truculent" (accidentally lost after the war in 1950) on anti-U-boat patrol between Norway and Iceland sank "U-308" north of the Faeroe Islands.

JULY 1943

Mediterranean

10th - Invasion of Sicily: Operation 'Husky'  (map lbelow) - A grand total of 2,590 US and British warships - major and minor were assembled for the invasion including Force H with battleships "Nelson", "Rodney", "Warspite" and "Valiant" and fleet carriers "Formidable" and Indomitable". Seven Royal Navy submarines acted as navigation markers off the invasion beaches. Twelve Axis submarines were sunk in and around Sicily, including three to Royal Navy submarines: 13th - North of the Strait of Messina Italian submarine "ACCIAIO" was torpedoed by patrolling submarine "Unruly". 15th - Transport submarine "REMO" on passage through the Gulf of Taranto during the invasion was lost to submarine "United". 29th - "PIETRO MICCA" was torpedoed by submarine "Trooper" at the entrance to the Adriatic in the Strait of Otranto.

AUGUST 1943

Mediterranean

Royal Navy Submarine Operations - Patrols in the Mediterranean led to the sinking of numerous Axis ships including two Italian warships, but two boats were lost in August, the first for over three months: 9th - "Simoom" sank destroyer GIOBERTI" off Spezia, northwest Italy. 11th - "PARTHIAN" was overdue on this date. She left Malta on 22nd July for the southern Adriatic and failed to return to Beirut. (“Parthian” sank Italian submarine “DIAMANTE” off Tobruk, Libya on 20th June 1940 and torpedoed Vichy French submarine "SOUFFLEUR" on 25th June 1941 during the British-Free French campaign to occupy Lebanon and Syria). 14th - "SARACEN" on patrol off Bastia, Corsica was lost to Italian corvettes "Minerva" and "Euterpe". 28th - "Ultor" torpedoed torpedo boat "LINCE" in the Gulf of Taranto.


HM Submarine Parthian

 

SEPTEMBER 1943

Atlantic

22nd - Midget Submarine Attack on Tirpitz: Operation 'Source' - Battleship "Tirpitz" posed such a threat to Russian convoys and held down so much of Home Fleet's strength that almost any measures to immobilise her were justified. One gallant attempt was made in October 1942 when a small Norwegian fishing vessel "Arthur", penetrated to within a few miles of the battleship in Trondheimfiord with Chariot human torpedoes slung underneath. Just short of the target they broke away and all the effort was in vain. Now it was the turn of midget submarines - the X-craft each with two 2-ton saddle charges. Six left for northern Norway towed by 'S' or 'T' class submarines. Two were lost on passage, but on the 20th off Altenfiord, "X-5", "X-6" and "X-7" set out to attack "Tirpitz" and "X-10" for the Scharnhorst. "X-5" was lost and "X-10" was unable to attack, but "X-6" (Lt Cameron) and "X-7" (Lt Place) penetrated all the defences to reach "Tirpitz" laying in Kaafiord at the far end of Altenfiord. Both dropped their charges under or near the battleship before they sank and some of their crews escaped. "Tirpitz" managed to shift her position slightly, but not enough to avoid damage when the charges went up. She was out of action for six months. Lt Donald Cameron RNR and Lt Basil Place RN were awarded the Victoria Cross.

Mediterranean

7th - Submarine "Shakespeare" on patrol off the Gulf of Salerno sank Italian submarine "VELELLA".

OCTOBER 1943

Mediterranean

Early October - Two RN submarines failed to return from patrol in the month. The first was "USURPER" which left Algiers on 24th September for the Gulf of Genoa, and did not answer a signal on the 11th. She may had been mined or fallen victim to German A/S forces.

Mid-October - The second was "TROOPER". She set out from Beirut in the Lebanon on 26th September for Dodecanese patrol and did not get back on the 17th. German records claim she was sunk by a Q-ship off Kos on the 14th

NOVEMBER 1943

Mediterranean

Mid-November - Submarine "SIMOOM" sailed from Port Said on the 2nd for the Aegean and failed to answer a signal on the 19th. She was presumed mined although German records claim she was torpedoed by "U-565" off Kos on the 15th.

Indian & Pacific Oceans

12th - Royal Navy submarines were now operating from Ceylon to the west of Thailand (Siam), Malaya and around Sumatra mainly to interrupt Japanese seaborne supplies to Burma. On patrol off Penang, Malaya in the Malacca Strait, submarine "Taurus" sank the Japanese "I-34" sailing on a supply trip to Europe.

 

1944

Axis Shipping Losses due to Royal Navy Submarines in 1944

European waters in 1944 - 25 ships of 66,000grt

Mediterranean and Indian Ocean figures for 1944 had not been assembled

JANUARY 1944

Mediterranean

Anzio Landings, Italy, Operation 'Shingle' - A total of 369 British, Allied and US warships took part including two Royal Navy submarines which provide the usual navigational markers.

Indian & Pacific Oceans

Indian Ocean Operations - Late in the month the British Eastern Fleet was considerably strengthened by the arrival of capital ships "Queen Elizabeth", "Valiant", "Renown" and carriers "Illustrious" and "Unicorn", cruisers and destroyers. To date only the Ceylon-based submarines had been available to carry out offensive operations in the Indian Ocean, and in January they had two successes against Japanese light cruisers of the 'Kuma' class, both off Penang in the Malacca Strait. On the 11th "Tally Ho" (Lt-Cdr L. W. A. Bennington) sank the "KUMA". Two weeks later "Templar" damaged "Kitakami".

FEBRUARY 1944

Indian & Pacific Oceans

14th - On patrol in the Malacca Strait, submarine "Tally Ho" had another success (the other was cruiser "Kuma" the month before) sinking German ex-Italian submarine "UIt-23" bound for Europe with cargo from the Far East.

MARCH 1944

Europe

20th - Two Royal Navy submarines, one of them ex-German, were lost. On the 20th "GRAPH" (the captured "U-570") broke her tow and ran aground on Islay Island off the west coast of Scotland.

28th - The second loss was "SYRTIS" on Norwegian patrol. After sinking a small ship off Bodo a few days before, she was sunk in the minefields flanking the port.

Indian & Pacific Oceans

March - Submarine "STONEHENGE" sailed from Ceylon for patrol in the area between Sumatra and the Nicobar Islands. She was overdue on the 20th, cause of loss unknown.

APRIL 1944

Atlantic

19th - Norwegian submarine "Ula" working with the Home Fleet flotillas and on patrol off Stavanger, SW Norway sank "U-974".

JUNE 1944

Atlantic

15th - Submarine "Satyr" on Arctic patrol torpedoed and sank "U-987" to the west of Narvik.

Europe

Normandy Invasion: Operation 'Overlord' - The Naval Task Forces total 672 warships for assault convoy escort, minesweeping, shore bombardment, local defence and 4,126 major and minor landing ships and craft for initial assault and ferry purposes, a grand total of 4,798. By the 5th two midget submarines were already on station off the British sector, ready to guide in the landing craft on the 6th. They had already been used in the build-up to D-day, transporting frogmen to reconnoitre the beach defenses and take seabed samples.

Mediterranean

Early/Mid June - Submarine "SICKLE" on patrol in the Aegean failed to return to Malta when recalled on the 14th, and was presumed lost on mines.

JULY 1944

Indian & Pacific Oceans

17th - As the Ceylon-based submarines continued to cut Japanese supply lines to their armies in Burma, "Telemachus" on patrol in the Malacca Strait sank Japanese submarine "I-166" outward bound for Indian Ocean operations.

SEPTEMBER 1944

Mediterranean

Royal Navy Submarine Operations - These drew to a close. With so few German targets left, the famous 10th Submarine Flotilla was disbanded although some of the boats continued to work out of Malta in the Aegean. The last British submarine sunk was "Sickle" three months earlier in June, the 45th Royal Navy loss in the Mediterranean. From June 1940 to the end of 1944 the flotillas had accounted for: one million tons of Axis shipping , three Italian cruisers, over 30 destroyers, torpedo boats and German and Italian submarines in the Mediterranean theatre. To these can be added the uncompleted light cruiser "Ulpio Traiano" sunk at Palermo in January 1943 by submarine-launched Chariot human torpedoes.

Although one million tons of Axis shipping in the Mediterranean can not compare to the nearly 15 million tons of British, Allied and neutral shipping lost to all Axis submarines in all theatres, it was still a major accomplishment in the confined and clear waters of the Mediterranean. It was also vital in the battle for Malta and North Africa. Whereas British forces, including submarines did break Axis supply routes to North Africa, Germany and Italy were not able to stop the supply and reinforcement of Malta. Also in the broader war, Britain's survival depended on the Atlantic and other trade routes; Germany and Italy's did not. In contrast, Japan did depend on sea-borne links, and these the US submarines did break.

Indian & Pacific Oceans

23rd - Submarine "Trenchant" on patrol off Penang in the Malacca Strait sank "U-859" arriving from operations in the Indian Ocean. One flotilla of Ceylon-based submarines moved to Western Australia to work in East lndies waters under American Seventh Fleet command.

NOVEMBER 1944

Europe

11th - On Arctic patrol off the Lofoten Islands, submarine "Venturer" sank "U-771" heading home for Narvik from operations in northern waters.

Indian & Pacific Oceans

22nd - Three days after sinking a ship in the shallow Malacca Strait off the west coast of Malaya, submarine "STRATAGEM" was located and sunk by a Japanese destroyer on the 22nd.

 

1945

Axis Shipping Losses due to Royal Navy Submarines in 1945

European waters January-May 1945 - 3 ships of 3,000grt

Mediterranean January-May 1945 and Indian Ocean/SE Asia January-August 1945 figures had not been assembled

JANUARY 1945

Indian & Pacific Oceans

3rd - On patrol to the north of Sumatra, "SHAKESPEARE" surfaced to engage a merchant ship. Hit by return gunfire and later aircraft attack, she reached Ceylon, but was not fully repaired.

16th - The last British submarine sinking was on or around the 16th. Minelayer "PORPOISE" on patrol in the Malacca Strait and minelaying off Penang, was probably sunk by Japanese aircraft. (Some sources suggest the 19th.)

FEBRUARY 1945

Atlantic

9th - Submarine "Venturer" on patrol off Bergen, Norway sank another U-boat when she torpedoed "U-864". The first was "U-771" in November 1944.

APRIL 1945

Atlantic

12th - Home Fleet submarines gained another success when "Tapir" sank outward-bound "U-486" off Bergen, Norway.

MAY 1945

Germany - Final Defeat and Surrender

Mediterranean

Mediterranean - Final Victory - The entire Mediterranean basin, the Middle East, and North and East Africa were now completely free from threat of German and Italian military domination. The Royal Navy's cost had been high - over 40% of total major warship losses of the Royal Navy world-wide: one battleship, two fleet carriers, 20 cruisers and cruiser-minelayers, 67 destroyers and escort destroyers, 45 submarines, escorts, minesweepers, landing craft, coastal forces and thousands of officers and men.

Indian & Pacific Oceans

19th - On patrol in the Java Sea, submarine "TERRAPIN" attacked an escorted Japanese tanker and was badly damaged by depth charges in the counter-attack. She was not repaired, the last Royal Navy submarine casualty of the war.

JUNE 1945

Indian & Pacific Oceans

8th - As Japanese heavy cruiser "ASHIGARA" (sister-ship to "Haguro" sunk by British destroyers) carried troops from Batavia. Java to Singapore, she was torpedoed five times by submarine "Trenchant" and sank in the Banka Strait off southeast Sumatra.

JULY 1945

Indian & Pacific Oceans

31st - Sinking of the "Takao" - Japanese heavy cruiser "Takao", previously damaged by US submarines on passage to the Battle of Leyte Gulf, was now laying off Singapore in the Johore Straits. On the night of the 30th/31st, midget submarines "XE-1" (Lt Smart) and "XE-3" (Lt Fraser) were released by towing submarines "Spark" and "Stygian" and managed to reach the cruiser to drop their charges. "XE-3" was almost trapped beneath the hull of "Takao" on a falling tide. "TAKAO" was badly damaged in the resulting explosions and sank to the bottom. Other XE craft cut or damage the undersea telephone cables off Saigon, Indo-China and Hong Kong at this time. Lt Ian Fraser RNR and his diver, Leading Seaman James Magennis of "XE-3" were awarded the Victoria Cross.

AUGUST 1945

Japan - Final Defeat and Surrender

 

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