Disaster struck soon
20.00 to the northwest of Cape Bon. Three
the four cruisers were put out of action by
submarines. "Axum" and "Dessie" hit
cruisers "Nigeria" and "Cairo" and the vital
tanker "Ohio". "Alagi" torpedoed the "Kenya".
headed back to Gibraltar. Around this time
two transports. In the early hours of the 13th,
the convoy was hugging the coast south of Cape Bon
Italian MTBs attacked. Four merchantmen were sent
bottom and the last of the original close escort
attacks later that morning accounted for one more
merchantman and disabled another which was
in the evening. Including tanker "Ohio", just five
ships were left. Now
into the afternoon of the 13th, three reached
fourth struggled in next day, but the crippled
"Ohio", lashed to destroyer "Penn",
only made port on the 15th. Earlier, an
cruiser force set out to add to the convoy's
but turned for home. North of Sicily on the 13th
it was sighted by submarine "Unbroken" and
heavy cruiser "Bolzano" and light cruiser
"Attendolo" torpedoed and damaged. Only five
out of fourteen transports had got through to
the loss of one aircraft carrier, two cruisers and
destroyer sunk, and a carrier and two cruisers
22nd - Italian
torpedo boat "CANTORE"
on mines laid by
"Porpoise" northeast of Tobruk.
of the Atlantic -
to unknown causes in the Bay of Biscay, possibly
RAF Bay of Biscay patrols.
- Raid on Tobruk: Operation 'Agreement'
To help relieve the
Eighth Army in the Alamein area, a combined
raid was planned on Tobruk to destroy
shipping. An attack would be launched from the
side by the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG), while
simultaneously, destroyers "Sikh" and
"Zulu" together with coastal forces craft would
land Royal Marine and army units from the sea. AA
"Coventry" and 'Hunts' provided cover. In the
night of the 13th/14th, a few troops got
disabled by shore batteries.
She went down off Tobruk early in the morning of
As the other ships withdrew, heavy attacks by
Italian aircraft sank cruiser "COVENTRY" and
destroyer "ZULU" to the northwest of Alexandria.
The landward attack also failed.
on the 10th with stores for
Malta. She reported a U-boat off Philippeville,
Algeria on the 15th, but was not heard from again
presumed mined in the Strait of Sicily.
19th - South of
Pantelleria, submarine "Unbending" attacked an
Axis convoy bound for Tripoli, sinking a transport
Italian destroyer "DA VERAZZANO".
North Africa - By
the 4th the Second Battle of El Alamein had
won by British Eighth Army. Rommel's losses in men
material were so great he withdrew his remaining
German-Italian forces. Gen Montgomery halted
after a 600-mile advance in 14 days.
North African Landings: Operation 'Torch'
- In the
Mediterranean, British Force H
reinforced by Home Fleet covered the Algerian
the 8th. Their main task was to hold off any
the Italian fleet. Strength included three capital
three fleet carriers, three cruisers and 17
- In addition to the Atlantic approaches to
large number of German and Italian submarines were
concentrated in the Western Mediterranean to
'Torch' follow-up convoys. Transports and
warships were sunk and damaged, but losses were
great, and five German and two Italian submarines
sunk in exchange. On the 10th, destroyer "MARTIN"
off Algiers and Italian submarine "EMO" scuttled
after an attack by armed
trawler "Lord Nuffield". 28th - North of
Bone the Italian "DESSIE"
by destroyers "Quentin"
and the Australian "Quiberon", now part of
cruiser Force Q operating out of Bone.
9th - In
Royal Navy submarine operations in the Central
Mediterranean off northwest Sicily, "Saracen"
sank Italian submarine "GRANITO".
24th - Off
northwest Sicily, British submarine "UTMOST"
French North Africa
The Allies lost the race for Tunis. Throughout
1943 both sides attacked along the line, but
success. As this happened more and more German and
Italian troops were drawn into Tunisia. When the
eventually surrendered in May 1943, Sicily and
been drained of some of their best men.
Cruiser Force Q
Based in Bone, Force Q and a new Malta-based
force took turns attacking Axis shipping bound for
Africa. On the 2nd, Force Q with
"Sirius" and two destroyers went into action in
the Strait of Sicily. All four transports in a
Italian destroyer "FOLGORE"
by gunfire. As they returned,
to Italian torpedo aircraft north
of Cape Bon.
4th - In the
USAAF raids on Italy, Italian light cruiser
was sunk and
others damaged at Naples.
14th - Two
after Force Q's success in the Strait of Sicily,
damaged by Italian submarine
"Mocenigo" northeast of Bone.
Throughout the month,
British submarines were on patrol in the Western
Mediterranean and lost four of their number. In
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
mined in her patrol area. 6th - "Tigris"
sank Italian submarine "PORFIDO" north of Bone. 12th
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
- As an Axis convoy headed into Tunis, "P-48"
and was sunk by Italian
escorts "Ardente" and "Ardito". Late
December - At the end of the month submarine
Maddalena, Sardinia with
human torpedoes for an attack on the cruisers
there. Her last signal was on the 31st December
was presumed lost on minefields in the approaches
13th - Attacks
Allied shipping off Algeria led to more losses in
for the sinking of one Italian submarine. Sloop
"Enchantress" sank Italian submarine "CORALLO" off
"Petard" and Greek "Queen Olga" sank
Italian submarine "UARSCIEK" south of Malta.
Front: Battle of Stalingrad - A
scratch German force tried
to reach Stalingrad from the southwest but was
driven back. Further north, the Russians resumed
push and annihilated an Italian
Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt
their Chiefs of Staff met for this important
Major areas for discussion included landings in
and Italy after the Tunisian campaign. At this
two Allied leaders announced a policy of
surrender of the Axis powers.
Attacks off Algeria
Axis attacks continue against Allied ships in
ports and convoys off the coast. There were losses
both sides. 19th - Canadian corvette "Port
Arthur" sank Italian submarine "TRITONE" off
Bougie by gunfire. 30th
- As corvette "SAMPHIRE" escorted Gibraltar/North
convoy TE14 she was torpedoed by Italian submarine
"Platino" near Bougie.
Axis Supplies to
Tunisia - Attempts by the Italian Navy to
Axis armies in Tunisia led to heavy losses,
mines laid between Sicily and Tunis by fast
"Abdiel" and "Welshman", and
submarine "Rorqual". 9th - Destroyer
"CORSARO" hit one of "Abdiel's"
mines northeast of Bizerta. 17th -
Tunisia, destroyer "BOMBARDIERE"
off western Sicily by submarine
"United". 31st - Torpedo boat "PRESTINARI"
and corvette "PROCELLARIA" went down on mines laid
"Welshman" in the Strait of Sicily.
Axis Supplies to
- Final supply trips to Tripoli by Italian
to more losses north of the Libyan capital. 14th
a RAF Beaufort and finished off by destroyers
"Pakenham" and "Hursley", escorts
with Malta/Alexandria convoy ME15. 20th -
off Tripoli by MTB-260, one of the growing
number of coastal forces operating along the North
3rd - Italian
destroyer "SAETTA" and destroyer escort "URAGANO"
supplying Axis forces in Tunisia,
sank on cruiser-minelayer "Abdiel's" mines
northeast of Bizerta.
Campaign - German and Italian operations
Allied shipping off Algeria led to further losses,
including: 8th - Royal Canadian Navy
"Regina sank Italian submarine "AVORIO" off
Philippeville. 17th - A
patrol of escort destroyers "Bicester",
Easton", Lamerton" and Wheatland" sank
Italian submarine "ASTERIA" off Bougie.
Royal Navy Submarine
Operations - The Royal Navy lost three 'T'
submarines: February/March - "TIGRIS"
set out from Malta on
18th February for a patrol off Naples. She failed
return to Algiers on the 10th March, possibly
the Gulf of Tunis as she returned. 12th -
an escorted ship
Maddalena, Sardinia and was presumed sunk in the
counter-attack by Italian MTB escorts. 14th
off the north
entrance to the Strait of Messina to Italian
Axis Supplies to
Tunisia - Continuing attempts by the
Italian Navy to
supply Axis armies in Tunisia led to more losses
laid by fast minelayer "Abdiel": 8th - A
field laid north of Cape Bon sank three destroyers
March, starting with destroyer escort "CICIONE" on
the 8th. 24th - The same
field accounted for "ASCARI" and "MALOCELLO" on
"Pakenham" and "Paladin" out of Malta
encountered an Italian convoy north of Pantelleria
island. In a running gun battle with the four
torpedo boats, Italian "CIGNO"
and another damaged, and "PAKENHAM" disabled. She
had to be scuttled.
24th - After
sinking a transport off northeast Sicily, "SAHIB"
by the escorts
including a German Ju88 and finally sunk by
"Unshaken" torpedoed and sank Italian torpedo
boat "CLIMENE" off Sicily as she escorts a
Mid/Late April -
"REGENT" on patrol in the Strait of Otranto
may have attacked a small convoy near Bari, Italy
18th, but there was no response from the convoy
She failed to return to Beirut at the end of the
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
Spain. His false papers help to persuade the
the next Allied blows would fall on Sardinia and
as well as Sicily.
of the Atlantic -
by USAAF patrol aircraft
in the South Atlantic on the 15th
North Africa and
The End for the Axis - Tunis was taken by
and Bizerta by the Americans on the 7th. The Axis
surrender came on the 12th and nearly 250,000
Italians were taken prisoner.
4th - As the
Tunisian campaign ended, destroyers "Nubian",
Paladin" and "Petard" sank Italian torpedo
boat "PERSEO" and a supply ship near Cape Bon.
Six Axis submarines
lost in the Mediterranean in May - two German to
two Italian to US forces, and two German to the
of the Atlantic - 16th -
Italian submarine "ENRICO
TAZZOLI" may have
been sunk on the 16th in the Bay of Biscay by RAF
patrols. 23rd - Italian submarine
from a successful patrol off South Africa was
and sunk northeast of the Azores by destroyer
"Active" and frigate "Ness".
2nd - Destroyers
"Jervis" and Greek "Queen Olga" sank
two merchantmen and Italian torpedo boat "CASTORE"
off Cape Spartivento,
Lampedusa - After heavy sea and air
two Italian islands to the north-west and west of
surrendered to the Allies on the 11th and 12th
of the Atlantic - Italian submarine
sunk in the
either by the RAF on the 17th or USAAF on the 19th
Invasion of Sicily
The grand total of 2,590
US and British
warships included a Royal Navy covering force
interference by the Italian fleet.
main group under Vice-Adm Sir A. U. Willis of
included battleships "Nelson",
"Rodney", "Warspite" and
"Valiant" and fleet carriers
"Formidable" and Indomitable".
As the capture of Sicily progressed, important
developments took place in Italy. On the 25th
Mussolini was arrested and stripped of all his
Marshal Badoglio formed a new government, which
immediately and in secret sought ways to end the
August the surrender of Italy was being negotiated
the Allied powers.
- German and Italian aircraft sank and damaged a
of warships and transports in the invasion area
a US destroyer on the 10th. On the 16th
carrier "Indomitable" was damaged by Italian
Axis submarines had
successes than the attacking aircraft in and
Sicily. Two British cruisers were damaged, but in
12 of their number were lost over the next four
into early August including nine Italian boats: 11th
"FLUTTO" off the southern end
of the Strait of Messina in a running battle with
640, 651 and 670. 12th - "BRONZO" captured
off Syracuse by
minesweepers "Boston", "Cromarty",
"Poole" and "Seaham". 13th - "NEREIDE"
lost off Augusta to
destroyers "Echo" and "llex"; and
north of the Strait of Messina "ACCIAIO"
patrolling submarine "Unruly". 15th -
Transport submarine "REMO" on passage through the
Gulf of Taranto
during the invasion was lost to submarine
"United". 16th - Cruiser
"Cleopatra" was torpedoed and badly damaged off
submarine "Dandolo". 18th -
"Remo's" sister-boat "ROMOLO"
sunk off Augusta by the RAF. 23rd
- As "ASCIANGHI"
a cruiser force
the south coast of Sicily she was sunk by
"Eclipse" and "Laforey". 29th
by submarine "Trooper" at the entrance to the
Adriatic in the Strait of Otranto.
- As the Germans and Italians prepared to evacuate
across the Strait of Messina, the Allies started
final push. By the 17th, Sicily was in Allied
100,000 Axis troops managed to escape without any
Following on from July, the twelfth Axis submarine
in four weeks was the Italian "ARGENTO" sunk off
the island of Pantelleria
by US destroyer "Buck".
Submarine Operations - Patrols in the
led to the sinking of numerous Axis ships
Italian warships, but two boats were lost in
first for over three months: 9th -
"Simoom" sank Italian destroyer "GIOBERTI" off
Spezia, northwest Italy. 11th
overdue on this date.
Malta on 22nd July for the southern Adriatic and
to return to Beirut. 14th - "SARACEN" on
patrol off Bastia, Corsica was
lost to Italian corvettes "Minerva" and
"Euterpe". 28th - "Ultor"
torpedoed Italian torpedo boat "LINCE" in the Gulf
Submarine "Shakespeare" on patrol off the Gulf
of Salerno sank Italian submarine "VELELLA".
Surrender and Invasion - The Italian
surrender was signed in
Sicily on the 3rd, but not announced until
to coincide with the main Allied landing at
in the forlorn hope of preventing the Germans from
over the country. Before long they controlled
central Italy, were fighting a delaying action in
south, had occupied Rome, regrouped their main
near Naples, and disarmed - often bloodily -
forces in the Dodecanese islands and Greece.
the invasion and occupation of southern Italy got
underway. A start was made on the 3rd when
and Canadian troops crossed over the Strait of
from Sicily in 300 ships and landing craft and
north through Calabria to join up with forces
Salerno. Early on the 9th, in conjunction
these landings, the British 1st Airborne Division
carried into Taranto by mainly British warships.
afterwards the Adriatic ports of Brindisi and Bari
in Allied hands. Off the west coast of Italy, the
decided to evacuate the more southerly island of
by way of Corsica starting on the 10th.
troops landed in Corsica in mid-month, but by
October the Germans had gone. Both islands were
Allied hands. Following the announcement of the
surrender, the bulk of the Italian fleet sailed
- three battleships, cruisers and destroyers from
and Genoa, and three more battleships and other
from Taranto and the Adriatic. As the first group
south, battleship "ROMA"
sunk by a FX1400
bomb (unpropelled unlike the Hs293 rocket-boosted,
glider-bomb), but next day the remaining ships
escorted into Malta by battleships "Warspite"
and "Valiant". Over 30 submarines headed for
Allied ports. On the 12th the arrested
Mussolini was rescued from his Italian captors in
Abruzzi Mountains by German Col Otto Skorzeny's
paratroops and flown to Germany. Later in the
proclaimed the establishment of the Italian Social
- On patrol in the Malacca Strait, British
"Tally Ho" sank German submarine "UIt-23"
(ex-Italian) bound for Europe
with cargo from the Far East.
German U-boats gained their last success of the
the Mediterranean. East of Sicily "U-453"
HA43 and its
Italian escort, and sank one merchant
Destroyers "Termagant", "Tenacious"
and the 'Hunt' "Liddlesdale" were brought up
and sent her to the bottom.
7th - Destroyers
and "Tuscan" sank torpedo
boat "TA-37" (ex-Italian) in the Gulf of
Further south it was the turn of "TA-18"
(ex-Italian), lost to the same
two British destroyers.
Off Zara in the northern Adriatic, British
destroyers "Avon Vale" and
"Wheatland" sank German torpedo boat "TA-20" and
two corvettes - all
Italian battleship "CONTE DI CAVOUR", sunk in
the 1940 Fleet Air
Arm attack on Taranto and salvaged but not
recommissioned, was finally destroyed in RAF
Two ex-Italian torpedo boats and a destroyer
off the Gulf of Genoa were engaged by destroyers
"Meteor" and "Lookout". In the last
Royal Navy destroyer action of the
boats "TA-24" and "TA-29"
Surrendered in Italy