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CAMPAIGN SUMMARIES OF WORLD WAR 2

Actions involving MINE WARFARE and MINE VESSELS

Part 1 of 2 - 1939-42


British minelaying destroyer HMS Ivanhoe, mined 31 August 1940, sank next day (Navy Photos, click to enlarge)

on to Part 2, Mine Warfare and Vessels

 
 

Each Summary is complete in its own right. The same information may therefore be found in a number of related summaries

(for more ship information,  go to Naval History Homepage and type name in Site Search)

 
 

 
 

1939

EUROPE - OCTOBER 1939

8th - The anti-U-boat mine barrage in the Strait of Dover was completed and accounted for three U-boats, starting with "U-12" on the 8th. 13th - "U-40" was mined. 24th - The third U-boat was "U-16". No more attempts were made to pass through the English Channel and U-boats were forced to sail around the north of Scotland to reach the Atlantic.

German Sea and Air Attacks - These were stepped up against merchant shipping and warships in British waters. German destroyers and later other surface vessels started laying mines off the British East Coast.

EUROPE - NOVEMBER 1939

13th - As U-boat and surface ship-laid mines continued to inflict heavy losses on merchant ships and warships alike, cruiser minelayer "Adventure" and accompanying destroyer "BLANCHE" were mined in the Thames Estuary. "Blanche" was a total loss. More serious casualties followed a week later. 21st - Recently completed light cruiser "Belfast" was badly damaged in the Firth of Forth on a magnetic mine laid by "U-21". With her back broken and machinery mountings shattered she was out of action for three years. 21st - Destroyer "GIPSY" was also lost on mines laid by destroyers off the British east coast port of Harwich.

Magnetic mines - German seaplanes also laid the first magnetic mines off the East Coast and dropped one on tidal flats at Shoeburyness in the Thames Estuary. It was defused on the 23rd November and recovered by Lt-Cdr Ouvry (awarded the George Cross), a vital step in the battle against a weapon which was causing heavy losses and long shipping delays. In November alone, 27 ships of 121,000 tons were sunk and for a time the Thames Estuary was virtually closed to shipping.

EUROPE - DECEMBER 1939

4th - Returning from the hunt for the German battle-cruisers after the sinking of "Rawalpindi" on the 23rd November, battleship "Nelson" was damaged by a mine laid by "U-31" off Loch Ewe, northwest Scotland.

13th - Submarine "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.

Merchant Shipping War - Losses from mines remained high - 33 ships of 83,000 tons in December.

 

1940

EUROPE - JANUARY 1940

7th - Home Fleet submarines suffered heavy losses in the Heligoland area at the hands of minesweeper patrols, starting with “SEAHORSE”. On the same day “UNDINE” was sunk. 9th - Two days later “STARFISH” was also lost. British submarine operations in the Heligoland Bight were abandoned.

19th - As destroyer “GRENVILLE” returned from contraband control off the Dutch coast she was lost on a destroyer-laid mine off the Thames Estuary.

EUROPE - FEBRUARY 1940

12th - “U-33” on a minelaying operation in the Firth of Clyde, eastern Scotland was sunk by minesweeper “Gleaner”.

22nd - German destroyers were attacked in error by their own aircraft in the North Sea and ran into a minefield laid by Royal Navy destroyers. “LEBERECHT MAASS” and “MAX SCHULTZ” were lost northwest of the German Frisian Islands. “U-54” was presumed lost in the same field.

EUROPE - MARCH 1940

Norway - Later in the month, and in spite of abandoning plans to help Finland, Britain and France decided to disrupt Swedish iron ore traffic to Germany by mining Norwegian waters (Operation 'Wilfred'). Plans were also made to land troops - from south to north, at Stavanger, Bergen, Trondheim and Narvik to forestall any German retaliation (Operation 'R4). The entire operation was timed for 8th April.

Merchant Shipping War - Since September 1939, 430,000 tons of shipping had been sent to the bottom by mines around the coasts of Britain - a loss rate only second to U-boats. Now the Royal Navy slowly countered magnetic mines with the introduction of ship-degaussing and 'LL' minesweeping gear. Although mines - contact, magnetic and later acoustic remained a threat throughout the war, they never again represented the danger of the first few months.

DEFENCE OF TRADE - FIRST SEVEN MONTHS

In the period September 1939 to the end of March 1940, much of the Royal Navy's efforts had been directed to organising the protection of trade both to and from Britain as well as around the British Isles. The small number of U-boats operating out in the Atlantic in the South Western Approaches as well as in the North Sea had their successes, but mainly against independently-routed shipping. Losses in UK waters were high from both U-boats and mines, but from now on enemy submarines disappeared from UK coastal areas for more than four years until mid-1944. The struggle to keep Britain in the war moved further and further out into the Atlantic and even further afield over the years to come.

Total Losses = 402 British, Allied and neutral ships of 1,303,000 tons (186,000 tons per month)

By Cause

Causes* in order of tonnage sunk

Number of British, Allied, neutral ships

Total Gross Registered Tonnage

1. Submarines

222

765,000 tons

2. mines

129

430,000 tons

3. Warships

16

63,000 tons

4. Aircraft

30

37,000 tons

5. Other causes

5

8,000 tons

* The identifying numbers for each cause e.g. "1. Submarines" is retained for all Trade War summaries, and added to as new weapon types appear e.g. "6. Raiders". The trends in losses due to the different causes can thus be followed

Western Europe was about to erupt. There was a lull in the Battle of the Atlantic as U-boats were withdrawn for the Norwegian campaign, and before surface raiders started operations and long-range aircraft and U-boats emerged from bases in France and Norway. Around the British Isles, aircraft and mines continued to account for merchant ships of all sizes, especially during the confused months of May, June and July 1940. During this time German E-boats commenced attacks in coastal waters. (Enemy or E-boat was the English term for German motor torpedo boats or S-boats, not to be confused with the heavily armed torpedo boats or small destroyers with their 'T' designation.) The comparatively low monthly average of 186,000 tons of merchant shipping lost in the first seven months was not seen for any more than a month or two for three long and deadly dangerous years - until mid 1943.

EUROPE - APRIL 1940

Norwegian Invasion & Campaign

8th - Operation 'Wilfred': Royal Navy destroyers laid minefields, simulated and real at three points off the Norwegian coast, including near Bodo. Battlecruiser “Renown” and other destroyers provided cover. One of the screen, “GLOWWORM” (Lt-Cdr Roope) was detached to search for a man overboard just as 8in-gunned cruiser “Admiral Hipper” headed into Trondheim. They met to the northwest of the port and the destroyer was soon sunk, but not before she rammed and damaged “Hipper”. + Lt-Cdr Gerard Roope RN was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

9th, Germany invaded Denmark and Norway (Operation 'Weserubung'): Copenhagen was soon occupied and DENMARK surrendered. In Norway, seaborne troops landed at Oslo, Kristiansand, Egersund and Bergen in the south, Trondheim in the centre and Narvik in the north. The southern forces and those from Trondheim pushed inland and joined up by the end of the month. They then moved north to relieve Narvik, which was isolated by the Allies soon after the first German landings. German Navy forces included a pocket battleship, six cruisers, 14 destroyers, torpedo boats and minesweepers for the landings at the six Norwegian ports, with battlecruisers “Scharnhorst” and “Gneisenau” covering the two most northerly landings.

14th - Submarine “TARPON” on patrol off southern Norway was sunk by German minesweeper “M-6”.

15th - “U-1” went to the bottom after striking a mine.

Air War - The first mines were laid by RAF Bomber Command off the German and Danish coasts.

ATLANTIC - MAY 1940

German Raiders - On her way into the Indian Ocean, “Atlantis” laid mines off South Africa.

EUROPE - MAY 1940

Norwegian Campaign - continued

5th - 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.

Western Front

30th - French destroyers continued to suffer losses. “BOURRASQUE” was mined off the Belgium port of Nieuport and sunk by shore batteries.

Air War - minelaying continued along the south and east coasts of Britain as well as the waters of Holland, Belgium and northern France during the German Blitzkrieg.

ATLANTIC - JUNE 1940

German Raiders - “Orion” which set out in April 1940 had laid mines off New Zealand that accounted for gold-bullion carrying liner “Niagara”.

Battle of the Atlantic - The Allied loss of Norway brought German warships and U-boats many hundreds of miles closer to the Atlantic convoy routes and in time within close range of the Russian convoys that followed the June 1941 German invasion. Britain's blockade line from the Orkneys to southern Norway was outflanked and a new one had to be established between the Shetlands and Iceland. The Royal Navy started the massive task of laying a mine barrage along this line.

EUROPE - JUNE 1940

4th-8th, Norwegian Campaign, Conclusion ...... - Allied submarines working with the Royal Navy continued to play a part in operations off Norway and have their share of losses. On the last day of the campaign the Polish “ORZEL” on passage to her patrol area and made famous after escaping from invaded Poland, was presumed mined.

20th ..... Immediate Aftermath - Dutch submarine “O-13” on passage to her Norwegian patrol area was reportedly torpedoed in error by Polish “Wilk”. More recent research suggests she was more likely sunk on the 13th June in a German minefield in 5655'N-0340'E.

MEDITERRANEAN - JUNE 1940

13th- Mediterranean Fleet submarines operated out of Alexandria on patrol off Italian bases and soon lost three of their number (1-3). At the time mines were usually blamed, but it turned 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 torpedoes of destroyer “Strale”. 16th - The second was “GRAMPUS” (2), minelaying off Augusta, Sicily, caught and sunk by large torpedo boats “Circe” and “Clio”. 19th - Towards the other end of the North African coast, “ORPHEUS” (3) was sent to the bottom by Italian destroyer “Turbine” north of the Cyrenaica port of Tobruk, soon to become a household name .

EUROPE - JULY 1940

Home Fleet submarines - Continued to carry out patrols off the coast of southwest Norway, but with heavy losses in July, including "SALMON" presumed lost on mines. Later "THAMES" was also probably mined in the middle of the North Sea on passage to her patrol area.

27th - Heavy German attacks continued on shipping and four destroyers were lost, including "WREN" off Aldeburgh on the English East Coast as she gave AA cover to minesweepers.

EUROPE - AUGUST 1940

1st - Submarine "NARWHAL" was paid off. After leaving the English east coast Humber Estuary on 22nd July for a minelaying mission off Norway, she failed to return.

3rd - Mines laid off the German North Sea coast by RN destroyers continued to claim victims. "U-25" was lost as she headed out for Atlantic patrol.

31st/1st September - Destroyers of the 20th Flotilla sailed to lay mines off the Dutch coast, but run into a German field northwest of Texel. "ESK" quickly sank, "IVANHOE" went down next day, and "Express" was badly damaged.

MEDITERRANEAN - AUGUST 1940

23rd - Heavy mining in the Strait of Sicily by Italian surface ships led to the loss of destroyer "HOSTILE" on passage from Malta to Gibraltar. Extensive Italian fields in the 'Sicilian Narrows' sank and damaged many Royal Navy ships over the next three years.

EUROPE - SEPTEMBER 1940

9th - Cruiser "Galatea" was damaged by an acoustic mine in the Thames Estuary.

MEDITERRANEAN - SEPTEMBER 1940

17th - Units of the Mediterranean Fleet including battleship "Valiant" sailed with "Illustrious" for a raid on Benghazi. Swordfish biplanes torpedoed destroyer "BOREA" and mines laid by them off the port sank "AQUILONE".

EUROPE - OCTOBER 1940

19th - Destroyer "VENETIA" of World War 1 vintage was sunk by a mine in the Thames Estuary while on patrol.

MEDITERRANEAN - OCTOBER 1940

15th - At about this time submarine "TRIAD" was probably mined off the Gulf of Taranto.

EUROPE - NOVEMBER 1940

7th - A planned attack by German torpedo boats (small destroyers) off the coast of Scotland ended when "T-6" was mined on the British East Coast barrage and went down.

16th - Submarine "SWORDFISH", setting out on Bay of Biscay patrol, struck an enemy mine off the Isle of Wight, southern England and sank.

EUROPE - DECEMBER 1940

17th - Following repairs to bomb damage, destroyer "ACHERON" was carrying out trials off the Isle of Wight, southern England when she detonated a mine and went to the bottom.

MEDITERRANEAN - DECEMBER 1940

Late November/early 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.

Mediterranean Operations - Battleship "Malaya" passed through to the west for Gibraltar. On the way, escorting destroyer "HYPERION" hit a mine near Cape Bon, northeast tip of Tunisia on the 22nd and had to be scuttled. "Malaya" carried on to meet up with Force H.

Monthly Loss Summary: There were no British or Allied shipping losses in December.

DEFENCE OF TRADE - April to December 1940

U-boats and now long-range aircraft had taken a heavy toll of British, Allied and neutral shipping in the Atlantic, mainly in the North Western Approaches to the British Isles. Further afield surface raiders had sunk, captured and disrupted shipping as far away as the Pacific. U-boats also operated with success off West Africa. In UK waters, attacks by aircraft and E-boats had added to the continuous threat from mines. Over half the ships and 40 percent of tonnage had been lost close to home. Vital as the Battle of the Atlantic was, there could be no let up in the equally important battle for the coastal convoy routes once the ships reached UK waters. Only heavily escorted transports used the Mediterranean until 1943. The monthly loss rate in these months was twice that of the first seven months of the war, and each form of attack required a different technical and operational response by the Royal Navy and its Allies. The 1940 patterns of assault against the trade routes continued throughout 1941, although the U-boats moved further out into the Atlantic. By year's end they had reached the coasts of America.

Total Losses = 878 British, Allied and neutral ships of 3,441,000 tons (382,000 tons per month)

By Cause

Causes in order of tonnage sunk
(1. 4. ... - Order when weapon first introduced)

Number of British, Allied, neutral ships

Total Gross Registered Tonnage

1. Submarines

363

1,842,000 tons

4. Aircraft

172

546,000 tons

6. Raiders (new cause)

54

367,000 tons

2. Mines

151

342,000 tons

5. Other causes

99

201,000 tons

3. Warships

16

95,000 tons

7. Coastal forces (new cause)

23

48,000 tons

 

1941

EUROPE - JANUARY 1941

15th - Cruiser minelayer "Adventure" was damaged for the second time on a mine, this time on passage from Milford Haven, southwest Wales to Liverpool. The last time was off the Thames in November 1939 - just 14 crisis-filled months earlier.

Merchant Shipping War - Losses due to air attack and mines remained a major problem. Aircraft and E-boats had now added acoustic to the magnetic and moored contact mines in their armoury, but they never matched up to the threat the magnetic mines represented a year earlier.

MEDITERRANEAN - JANUARY 1941

6th-11th, Malta Convoy "Excess" -  As the Mediterranean Fleet including "Illustrious" met the convoy off the Italian-held island of Pantelleria, screening destroyer "GALLANT" hit a mine. Towed back to Malta, she was not re-commissioned and finally wrecked by bombing over a year later in April 1942.

EUROPE - FEBRUARY 1941

Early February - After leaving her escort off Lands End for patrol in the Bay of Biscay, British submarine "SNAPPER" was not heard from again. She failed to rendezvous back on the 12th February, possibly lost on mines.

MEDITERRANEAN - FEBRUARY 1941

9th, Force H Attack in the Gulf of Genoa - "Ark Royal," "Renown" and "Malaya" sailed right into the Gulf of Genoa, northwest Italy. The big ships bombarded the city of Genoa while "Ark Royal's" aircraft bombed Leghorn and laid mines off Spezia, all on the 9th.

MEDITERRANEAN - MARCH 1941

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.

MEDITERRANEAN - MAY 1941

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.

2nd - Returning to Malta with cruiser "Gloucester" and other destroyers from a search for Axis convoys, "JERSEY" was mined and sunk in the entrance to Valletta's Grand Harbour.

21st May-1st June, Battle for Crete - On the 21st, in the opening stages of the attack on Crete, cruiser minelayer "Abdiel" laid mines off the west coast of Greece, sinking Italian destroyer "MIRABELLO" and two transports.

ATLANTIC - JUNE 1941

27th-29th, Attacks on Halifax/UK convoy HX133 - Destroyers "Scimitar" and "Malcolm", corvettes "Arabis" and "Violet" and minesweeper "Speedwell" sank "U-651" on the 29th.

EUROPE - JUNE 1941

10th - Patrol sloop "PINTAIL" was mined off the Humber while escorting Thames/Forth coastal convoy FN477.

Monthly Loss Summary: 25 British, Allied and neutral ships of 84,000 tons in the Atlantic from all causes, 3 escorts; 3 German and 1 Italian U-boats

MEDITERRANEAN - AUGUST 1941

Malta Convoy, Operation 'Style' - Early in the month, two cruisers, cruiser-minelayer "Manxman" and two destroyers successfully carried reinforcements and supplies from Gibraltar to Malta.

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 the same area, also possibly on mines.

MEDITERRANEAN - OCTOBER 1941

20th - Mines previously laid by submarine "Rorqual" in the Gulf of Athens sank Italian torpedo boats "ALDEBARAN" and "ALTAIR".

25th - Over a period of 10 days, cruiser-minelayers "Abdiel" and "Latona" transported troops and supplies to besieged Tobruk and carried out Australian units. On the last mission "LATONA" was bombed and sunk north of Bardia by Ju87s Stuka divebombers.

Late October - Submarine "TETRARCH" sailed from Malta for Gibraltar but failed to arrive, presumed lost on mines in the Strait of Sicily.

EUROPE - DECEMBER 1941

26th - Old submarine “H-31” was overdue by the 26th, possibly lost on mines during Bay of Biscay patrol.

MEDITERRANEAN - DECEMBER 1941

6th - Submarine “PERSEUS” on 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.

13th-20th, First Battle of Sirte and Related Actions -  Early on the 19th off Tripoli, a British cruiser force ran into an Italian minefield. Cruiser “NEPTUNE” hit three or four mines and sank with only one man surviving. “Aurora” was badly damaged and “Penelope” slightly. Trying to assist “Neptune”, destroyer “KANDAHAR” was mined and had to be scuttled the following day. Out of a three cruiser and four destroyer force, only three destroyers escaped damage.

DEFENCE OF TRADE - January to December 1941

Total Losses = 1,299 British, Allied and neutral ships of 4,329,000 tons ( 361,000 tons per month)

By Cause

Causes in order of tonnage sunk
(1. 4. ... - Order when weapon first introduced)

Number of British, Allied, neutral ships

Total Gross Registered Tonnage

1. Submarines

432

2,172,000 tons

4. Aircraft

371

1,017,000 tons

5. Other causes

272

421,000 tons

2. Mines

111 231,000 tons
6. Raiders

44

227,000 tons

3. Warships

40

202,000 tons

7. Coastal forces

29

59,000 tons

 

1942

EUROPE - JANUARY 1942

Merchant Shipping War - E-boats and aircraft continued to attack British coastal convoy routes directly and with magnetic and acoustic mines. Convoy escorts and minesweepers fought back, supported by RAF Fighter Command, but they had their losses: 9th - Escorting a southbound East Coast convoy, destroyer "VIMIERA" was mined and sunk in the Thames Estuary.

MEDITERRANEAN - JANUARY 1942

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 Greek mainland.

INDIAN & PACIFIC OCEANS - JANUARY 1942

20th - Japanese submarine "I-124" minelaying off Darwin, northern Australia, was sunk by Australian minesweepers "Deloraine", "Katoomba", "Lithgow" and US destroyer "Edsall".

EUROPE - FEBRUARY 1942

11th-13th, The Channel Dash - At 14.30 on the 12th off the Scheldt, German battlecruiser "Scharnhorst" was slightly damaged by a mine. An hour later, torpedo attacks by six destroyers from Harwich were unsuccessful. Twenty minutes later a heavy attack by the RAF failed. The German ships carried on and in the early evening off the Dutch Frisian Islands, first "Gneisenau" and then "Scharnhorst" (for the second time) hit mines. Both were damaged, but together with "Prinz Eugen" reached German ports in the early hours of the 13th.

INDIAN & PACIFIC OCEANS - FEBRUARY 1942

27th February-1st March, Battles of the Java Sea - On the evening of the 26th, destroyer "JUPITER" was lost, probably on a Dutch mine.

ATLANTIC - MARCH 1942

1st-12th, Russian Convoy PQ12 and Return QP8 - On the 4th, cruiser "Sheffield" was damaged on a mine off Iceland as she sailed to join the cover force.

20th March-3rd April, Russian Convoy PQ13 and Return QP9 - The next two convoys set out around the 20th, again covered by the Home Fleet. Off North Cape on the 24th "U-655" was rammed and sunk by minesweeper "Sharpshooter" escorting QP9.

MEDITERRANEAN - MARCH 1942

22nd, Second Battle of Sirte - As the Hunt class "SOUTHWOLD" stood by transport "Breconshire" on the 24th, she hit a mine and sank off the island.

ATLANTIC - MAY 1942

26th April-7th May, Russian Convoy PQ15 and Return QP11 - On the 2nd, minesweeper "Seagull" and Norwegian destroyer "St Albans" sank Polish submarine "JASTRZAB" in error.

MEDITERRANEAN - MAY 1942

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.

INDIAN & PACIFIC OCEANS - MAY 1942

8th, Landings at Diego Saurez, Madagascar: Operation 'Ironclad' - The only Royal Navy casualty was corvette "AURICULA" mined on the 5th.

MEDITERRANEAN - JUNE 1942

12th-16th, Malta Convoys 'Harpoon' from Gibraltar, 'Vigorous' from Alexandria - Late on the evening of the 15th, as the seriously depleted convoy approached Malta, it ran into a minefield. Two destroyers and the fifth supply ship were damaged, but Polish escort destroyer "KUJAWIAK" was sunk.

ATLANTIC - JULY 1942

27th June-28th July, Destruction of Russian Convoy PQ17 and return QP13 - Approaching Iceland through the Denmark Strait on the 5th July, convoy QP.13 ran into a British minefield. Escorting minesweeper "NIGER" and five merchant ships were lost. The rest got in.

MEDITERRANEAN - AUGUST 1942

22nd - Italian torpedo boat "CANTORE" was lost on mines laid by submarine "Porpoise" northeast of Tobruk.

ATLANTIC - SEPTEMBER 1942

2nd-26th, Russian Convoy PQ18 and Return QP14 - On the 20th, to the west of Bear Island, minesweeper "LEDA" was sunk by "U-435".

11th - Canadian corvette "CHARLOTTETOWN" on passage with a minesweeper in the Gulf of St Lawrence was sunk by "U-517".

Monthly Loss Summary: 102 British, Allied and neutral ships of 531,000 tons in the Atlantic from all causes, 5 escorts; 1 German raider and 9 U-boats including 3 by US and RAF aircraft in the North Atlantic, 1 by RAF Bay of Biscay patrols, 1 on an RAF-laid mine in the Bay of Biscay

MEDITERRANEAN - SEPTEMBER 1942

Mid-September - 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.

ATLANTIC - OCTOBER 1942

Monthly Loss Summary: 82 British, Allied and neutral ships of 548,000 tons in the Atlantic from all causes, 1 cruiser; 15 U-boats including 6 by RAF in North Atlantic, 1 by RAF Bay of Biscay patrols, 1 by RAF-laid mine in the Bay of Biscay, 2 by RCAF off Newfoundland, 1 by US aircraft off French Guiana, 1 by unknown causes, possibly by US aircraft

MEDITERRANEAN - OCTOBER 1942

Malta - At the end of the month, carrier "Furious" flew off Spitfires to Malta. The island was even now short of supplies and the little getting through was carried by submarines and cruiser- minelayers.

MEDITERRANEAN - NOVEMBER 1942

The Relief of Malta - At the beginning of the month, cruiser-minelayer "Welshman" ran vitally needed stores to Malta. On the 11th, sister-ship "Manxman" made a similar dash from Alexandria.

INDIAN & PACIFIC OCEANS - NOVEMBER 1942

11th, Action of the "Bengal" and "Ondina" - Two Japanese raiders armed with 6in guns attacked the Dutch tanker "Ondina" (one 4in gun) and her escort, the Royal Indian navy minesweeper "Bengal" (single 12pdr) commanded by Lt-Cdr W. J. Wilson RINR to the southwest of the Cocos Islands in the Indian Ocean. "Bengal" hit "HOKOKUKU" which shortly blew up. The other raider soon disappeared. Both Allied ships were damaged and separated, but reached port safely after this small ship action which ranks with the sinking of the "Stier" by the "Stephen Hopkins" just two months earlier.

ATLANTIC - DECEMBER 1942

31st, Battle of the Barents Sea & Russian Convoys JW51A and JW51B  -  JW51B (14 ships) left on the 22nd escorted by six destroyers, a minesweeper and four smaller vessels under the command of Capt St. V. Sherbrooke in "Onslow". Adm Burnett with "Jamaica" and "Sheffield" joined the convoy south west of Bear Island on the 29th to provide close cover through the Barents Sea. By now "Tirpitz", pocket battleship "Lutzow", heavy cruiser "Admiral Hipper", light cruisers "Koln" and "Nurnberg" and a number of 5in and 5.9in gun destroyers were in Norwegian waters. The Admiralty assumed they were for attacks on Russian convoys. In fact, they were in Norway because Hitler feared invasion. Convoy JW51B was reported an the 30th and 8in "Hipper" (Adm Kummetz), 11in "Lutzow" and six destroyers put to sea from Altenfiord to intercept north of North Cape. Early on the 31st, New Year's Eve, the British ships were in four groups. The main convoy with five remaining 4in or 4.7in destroyers "Achates", "Onslow", "Obdurate", "Obedient" and "Orwell" headed due east. Northeast of the convoy, detached minesweeper "Bramble" (2) was searching for missing ships and shortly sunk by the German ships

MEDITERRANEAN - DECEMBER 1942

Royal Navy Submarine Operations - Throughout the month, British submarines were on patrol in the Western Mediterranean and lost four of their number, two probably mined. 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. 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.

 

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revised 8/7/11