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HMS Penelope, lost February 1944 (CyberHeritage, click to enlarge)

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

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Italy - Four months after the Salerno landings the Allies had only moved a further 70 miles north and were still well short of Rome. Both Fifth and Eighth Armies had suffered badly and, in an attempt to break the deadlock, the decision was made to go ahead with landings at Anzio to coincide with fresh attacks on the Gustav Line and Monte Cassino.

22nd January - Anzio Landings, Operation 'Shingle'

Landing Areas:

N and S of Anzio town

Forces landing:

US 6th Corps - Gen Lucas
50,000 British & US troops
with 115,000 follow-up

British 1st Division

US 3rd Division

Departure from:


Naval Assault Forces
and Commanders:

Naval Commander
Rear-Adm F J Lowry USN

Rear-Adm T Troubridge

Rear-Adm F J Lowry USN

Naval Assault & Follow-up Forces

British & Allied








Other warships



LSIs, landing craft & ships (major only)






Grand Total


The British and US warships were not strictly allocated to their own sectors and two Royal Navy submarines provided the usual navigational markers. Landings took place early on the 22nd and were virtually unopposed. By next day the beachheads were secured, but by the time Sixth Corps was ready to move out on the 30th, powerful German reinforcements were ready to stop it in its tracks. For over a month until early March the Allies were hard pushed to hold on to their gains. Supporting warships were heavily attacked from the air: 23rd - On patrol off the beaches, destroyer "JANUS"
was torpedoed and sunk by a He111 bomber. 29th - Six days later, cruiser "SPARTAN" was hit by a Hs293 glider bomb and capsized with many casualties.  

Monthly Loss Summary
5 British or Allied merchant ships of 31,000 tons


Italy - In the Second Battle of Cassino, the attacking Indian and New Zealand troops took heavy losses for zero gains. Throughout the month the Germans launched more attacks at Anzio to prevent the Allies breaking out of the beachhead. By early March they had exhausted themselves and moved over to the defensive. Royal Navy ships continued to suffer casualties during the Battle for Anzio: 18th - Returning to Naples, the seemingly indestructible cruiser "PENELOPE" (HMS 'Pepperpot') was torpedoed and sunk by "U-410". 25th - A week later destroyer "INGLEFIELD" was hit off the beaches by a Hs293 glider bomb and went down.

24th - In the Strait of Gibraltar, USN Catalina's equipped with the new magnetic anomaly detector (MAD) located "U-761" trying to break in to the Mediterranean. Destroyers "Anthony" and "Wishart" of the Gibraltar patrol sank her.

Monthly Loss Summary
8 British or Allied merchant ships of 36,000 tons

MARCH 1944

Italy - In the middle of the month the Third Battle of Cassino was fought again by the Indians and New Zealanders of Fifth Army. Once more they lost badly.

10th - In operations against Allied shipping bound for Italy, three U-boats were lost together with one Royal Navy destroyer. On the 10th off Anzio, 'Hunts' "Blankney", "Blencathra", "Brecon" and "Exmoor" and US destroyer "Madison", sank "U-450". The same day south of Sardinia, anti-submarine trawler "Mull" sank "U-343". The destroyer and third U-boat were sunk at the end of the month

16th - US Navy Catalinas used MAD to locate another U-boat in the Strait of Gibraltar on passage into the Mediterranean. Destroyer "Vanoc" and frigate "Affleck" were called up and accounted for "U-392".

30th - In support of Allied shipping bound for Italy, destroyers "Laforey", "Tumult" and 'Hunts' "Blencathra" and "Hambledon" located a U-boat north of Sicily. As the search proceeded, "LAFOREY" was torpedoed and sunk, but the remaining ships found and finished off "U-223".

Monthly Loss Summary
5 British or Allied merchant ships of 41,000 tons 

APRIL 1944

Monthly Loss Summary
5 British or Allied merchant ships of 34,000 tons

MAY 1944

Italy - The Allies at last pierced the Gustav Line. British, Indian and Polish troops of Eighth Army went in around the Cassino area, followed up by the Canadians. Nearer the sea, both US and French divisions of US Fifth Army attacked. It was the French in the centre who made the first decisive push, but it fell to the Poles to finally take the heights of Monte Cassino on the 18th. US Sixth Corps started its breakout from the Anzio bridgehead on the 23rd and met up with the advancing Fifth Army two days later. The Germans first retreated to a line south of Rome, then fell back to the north of Italy's capital.

4th - "U-371" attacked North Africa/US convoy GUS38 off Algeria on the 3rd and was detected, but damaged one of the escorting US destroyers. Throughout the night she was hunted by a mixed group of British, US and French warships including the 'Hunt' "Blankney", and this time managed to torpedo a French destroyer. Later on the 4th "U-371" was sunk northeast of Bougie.

15th - "U-731" on passage through the Strait of Gibraltar was detected by USN Catalinas and lost to attacks by patrol sloop "Kilmarnock" and trawler "Blackfly" of the Gibraltar patrol. No more U-boats made the attempt to get into the Mediterranean.

21st - U-boats gained their last success of the war in the Mediterranean. East of Sicily "U-453" attacked Taranto/Augusta convoy HA43 and its Italian escort and sank one merchant ship. Destroyers "Termagant", "Tenacious" and the 'Hunt' "Liddlesdale" were brought up and sent her to the bottom on the 21st.

Merchant Shipping War - U-boats had only managed to sink 10 merchantmen in the Mediterranean in the first five months of 1944. In return 15 had been lost, including three breaking through the Strait of Gibraltar and four in USAAF raids on Toulon and Pola.

Monthly Loss Summary
2 British or Allied merchant ships of 10,000 tons

JUNE 1944

6th - Normandy Invasion: Operation 'Overlord' 

Italy - Units of Gen Mark Clark's US Fifth Army entered Rome. The Germans now withdrew to the Gothic Line running north of Florence and across the Apennine mountains to the Adriatic. On 17 June, Royal Navy and US warships landed French troops on the island of Elba.

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.

18th - Destroyer "QUAIL", damaged by a mine in the southern Adriatic seven months earlier in November 1943, foundered off south-eastern Italy on tow from Bari around to Taranto.

Monthly Loss Summary
1 British or Allied merchant ship of 2,000 tons

JULY 1944

Monthly Loss Summary
No Allied merchant ships were lost.


15th - South of France Landings: Operation 'Dragoon'

Originally code-named 'Anvil', the South of France invasion was planned to coincide with the Normandy landings. Since that decision was made, Britain pushed for the Allies to concentrate on the Italian campaign, but under US pressure agreed to go ahead with the now re-named Operation 'Dragoon' using forces withdrawn from US Fifth Army in Italy. No major British units were involved and for the first time in the Mediterranean the Royal Navy was in the minority in both ships and commanders. However, Adm Sir John Cunningham remained Naval C-in-C.

Landing Areas:

Three Attack Forces landing on the southern French mainland between Toulon and Cannes. A fourth Force on the offshore islands

Forces landing:

US Seventh Army - Gen Patch
US Sixth Corps followed-up by
French Second Corps

Departure from:

Italy, Algeria

Naval Attack Force Commanders:

Naval Control force Commander
Vice-Adm H K Hewitt USN
US Rear-Adms Davidson, Lewis, Lowry, Rodgers

Naval Control, Attack & Convoy Escort Forces

British & Allied











Destroyers & escorts




Other warships




Attack transports & LSIs




Landing craft & ships (major only)








Grand Total


The warships were allocated across the four attack forces and, in addition, over 1,300 mainly assault landing craft took part in the landings. Air cover and support was provided by Rear-Adm Troubridge with seven British and two US escort carriers. After intensive air and sea bombardments, the landings took place against light resistance accompanied by US airborne drops inland. Both the US and French Corps soon spread out and headed north after the retreating Germans. Before the month was out, Cannes, Toulon and Marseilles had fallen into Allied hands.

Italy - On the eastern, Adriatic side of Italy, the Allies launched the first part of an offensive against the Gothic Line on the 25th, with Eighth Army attacking towards Rimini.

Monthly Loss Summary
1 small merchant ship was lost


Italy - To the east, Eighth Army crossed the Gothic Line. To the west, Fifth Army was across the River Arno and had broken through its end of the Gothic Line.

Greece - As the Russians attacked through Rumania and Bulgaria towards Yugoslavia, German troops started to evacuate Crete, southern Greece and the islands of the Aegean. However right up until May, garrisons held out on Rhodes, western Crete and some of the Greek Islands.

End of the Mediterranean U-boats - The last U-boats in the Mediterranean were lost to sea and air attack. On the 19th schnorkel-equipped "U-407" was sunk north of Crete by destroyers "Terpischore", "Troubridge" and the Polish "Garland" of Adm Troubridge's escort carrier and cruiser force. Five days later in raids on Salamis near Athens, USAAF aircraft sank "U-596" and the damaged "U-565". Since June 1944 the other eight surviving U-boats had all been lost at Toulon, either by USAAF raids or through scuttling. In three years the comparatively few German U-boats in the Mediterranean had inflicted heavy losses on the Royal Navy including: 1 battleship, 2 aircraft carriers, 4 cruisers and a cruiser-minelayer, 12 destroyers. In return 68 German U-boats had been lost from all causes.

Royal Navy Submarine Operations - These too 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 in the Mediterranean theatre, three cruisers, over 30 destroyers, torpedo boats and German and Italian submarines. To these could be added the uncompleted light cruiser "Ulpio Traiano" sunk at Palermo in January 1943 by submarine-launched Chariot human torpedoes.

Monthly Loss Summary
1 merchant ship of 1,400 tons


Italy - Fifth Army's attack in the centre towards Bologna ground to a halt in the wintry mountains, but over the next three months Eighth Army to the east continued to push its way to the southern edge of Lake Comacchio. Although fighting carried on, the Allies would not start their final offensive until the better weather in April. 12th - Returning from bombarding shore targets on the northeast coast of Italy, destroyer "LOYAL" was mined in the Adriatic and not repaired.

Greece - The Germans were now coming to the end of the evacuation of the Aegean area and northern Greece as British, Greek and Allied troops landed in the south and on many of the islands. Adm Troubridge's force continued to sweep the Aegean for German evacuation shipping as Royal Navy submarines also took a toll. 7th - Destroyers "Termagant" and "Tuscan" sank torpedo boat "TA-37" in the Gulf of Salonika. 19th - Further south it was the turn of "TA-18", lost to the same two British destroyers. Both were ex-Italian vessels.

Monthly Loss Summary
1 merchant ship of 3,000 tons


1st - Off Zara in the northern Adriatic, escort destroyers "Avon Vale" and "Wheatland" sank German torpedo boat "TA-20" and two corvettes - all ex-Italian.

Greece & Albania - By mid-month Greece was free of those Germans that could escape and British troops had landed in the north. In Albania the Germans were pulling out and on the 21st the capital of Tirana was occupied by Albanian partisans.

Merchant Shipping War in Conclusion - Only one small Allied merchant ship was lost in the Mediterranean through to the end of the war.


14th - 'Hunt' escort destroyer "ALDENHAM" was the 67th and last Royal Navy destroyer lost in the Mediterranean. Returning from bombarding a German-held island off Fiume in the northern Adriatic, she was mined and sank northwest of Zara.

Greece - Disagreements with the Greek communist movement EAM/ELAS over the future government of the country led to fighting and the declaration of martial law. British troops, supported by Royal Navy ships, had the unenviable task of fighting their previous allies. By month's end the fighting started to die down - for the present.

Strategic Situation - Mediterranean - All the Mediterranean except the Ligurian Sea to the north of Corsica, the northern part of the Adriatic and some of the Greek islands were now under Allied maritime control




Italy - Eighth Army continued to push slowly forward on the east near Lake Comacchio in preparation for the Spring offensive.


12th - Attacks by German explosive motorboats were made on shipping in Split harbour, Yugoslavia, hitting a flak landing craft and damaging cruiser "Delhi" laying alongside.

17th - 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 raids on Trieste.

MARCH 1945

18th - Two ex-Italian torpedo boats and a destroyer minelaying off the Gulf of Genoa were engaged by destroyers "Meteor" and "Lookout". In the last Royal Navy destroyer action of the Mediterranean, torpedo boats "TA-24" and "TA-29" were sunk.

APRIL 1945

Italy - The last and decisive Allied offensive aimed at clearing the Germans from Italy got underway with commando assaults near Lake Comacchio on the 1st. In these operations the Royal Marines won their only VC of the war. + Cpl Thomas Hunter, 43 Commando, was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry in action against German forces on the 2nd. Eighth Army started towards the Argenta gap on the 9th, and by the 18th was through. By the end of the month, Spezia, Genoa and Venice had been liberated. Since February, senior German officers had secretly negotiated with the Allies to end the war in Italy. On the 29th April and without reference to Berlin, a document of unconditional surrender was signed to take effect from 2nd May.

13th - Torpedo boat "TA-45" was sunk by coastal forces off Fiume in the northern Adriatic, the last major enemy warship to fall to the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean.

MAY 1945

Italy-Conclusion - As agreed, the cease-fire took place on the 2nd just as the Allies reached Trieste near the Yugoslavian border.

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. In five short years the RN had moved from having to fight hard to maintain a presence in the Mediterranean, to where it had been largely responsible for landing large Allied armies on enemy shores and supplying and supporting them. The cost had been high - over 40 percent 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.


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revised 9/7/11