WAR DIARY –
1st April 1942
Admiral Sir H.D. Pridham Wippell hoisted his flag in
VALIANT with the acting rank of Admiral and assumed
command of the
Mediterranean Fleet in succession to Admiral Sir. A. B.
signals made by the Commander in Chief on relinquishing
his command are
In further raids during the day, PANDORA, P 36, and the
SUNSET were sunk in harbour. One officer and 23 ratings
were reported missing
in P 36. UNBEATEN and ABINGDON, HAVOCK, SOKOL, SWONA, and
GIRL MARGARET were
all damaged by near misses. GIRL MARGARET was set on fire.
enemy aircraft were shot down by fighters. Hamilton
Burmola Wharfs were blocked by PANDORA and SUNSET,
A total of 4200 tons had been unloaded from PAMPAS and
work of unloading was not being slowed since most of the
remaining cargo was
under water and oil fuel. It had not yet been possible to
get any oil out of
Captain J.A.V. Morse, D.S.O, R.N. assumed the duties and
Senior Naval Officer, Levant Area in command of all
British and Free French
Naval forces placed under his orders; and all British and
Syrian ports within
the area which was enclosed by a line from the Egypt –
to 35-32N and thence to the Turkish coast. The Palestinian
ports were however
to remain under the command of the Naval Officer in
Charge, Palestine ports,
who continued to control all H.M. ships and local craft
placed under his
orders. Control and escort of all merchant
the Levant Area was to be the responsibility of Senior
Naval Officer, Levant
KELVIN sailed from Famagusta escorting Group B. SIKH
Famagusta with Group A.
H.M.S. VALIANT was undocked. Partial repairs had been
there remained a section of the bulge only to be
completed. Her undocking had
been delayed for several days due to labour difficulties
in finishing the
Mediterranean Combined Air Orders were brought into force.
of Signal sent by Commander Chief to
Vice Admiral Malta
departure, I particularly wish to send a special message
to the officers and
men of your command. That the defence of Malta has been an
epic is well known,
and has been stressed from many sources, but I would draw
attention to the
other aspect, namely, that of the enormous damage done to
the enemy for which
the submarine, air, and surface forces in your command
have so largely been
responsible. The record had been magnificent and I
heartily thank every officer
and man who has taken part, not forgetting those who have
had the less
spectacular, but none the less exacting, task of
maintaining and brining back
into action our ships and aircraft to the discomfiture of
of the success of the forces based on Malta has led to a
ceaseless battering of
the fortress, but one has only to think of the air effort
the enemy is diverting
to this purpose to realise that this is but another of the
services that Malta
is rendering to the Empire.
of Signal sent to the Commander in
Chief to Mediterranean Station Shore Authorities.
pass following message to Merchant Ships in port from
probably no theatre of war in which more tenacity and
courage has been required
of the Merchant Navies than in the Mediterranean. During
my tenure of command I
have seen innumerable instances of the unobtrusive yet
sterling work of the
Masters, officers, and crews under conditions often of
great difficulty and
danger. It has been possible to keep an Army and Malta
supplies only because
the Merchant Navies have surmounted these difficulties.
you for your good which we in the Royal Navy fully
appreciated and which we
of Signal sent by Commander in Chief
to Mediterranean Station
understand, one and all, the deep regret with which I lay
down command of the
Mediterranean Station. It has been my greatest pride
throughout the war the
Mediterranean Station has consistently shown itself master
of the enemy in
every branch of naval warfare, whether in the air, in
submarine warfare, and or
surface fighting. It is this factor
which has enabled
us during the last two years to impose our will on the
enemy to a very high
degree, despite his superiority in every class of ships
and his almost
overwhelming strength in the air. This achievement of the
officers and me of
the Mediterranean Fleet in some two years of the most
strenuous naval fighting
on record, is one which I
greatly treasure, as greatly
as I do the privilege of having led the Fleet during that
enemy know we are his master on
the sea, and we must strain
every nerve to keep our standard of fighting so high that
that lesson never
fails to be borne on him.
commitments at present mean that we have not, at times, as
large forces as we
would like to carry the carry to the enemy's front door.
This will not always
be so, and I look forward to the day when the
Mediterranean Fleet will sweep
the sea clear and reestablish our age of control of this
waterway so vital to
the British Empire. I am confident that that day is not
far distant and
meanwhile I wish you all good fortune and Godspeed.
2nd April 1942
flag of the Commander in Chief was transferred from
There was evidence that the French battleship RICHELIEU
attempt to leave Dakar and enter the Mediterranean. F.O.
"W" was instructed by
the Admiralty to dispose all available forces to prevent
Convoy A.T. 36 arrived at Tobruk. It was heavily bombed
the day but without damage, possibly being mistaken by the
enemy for a Malta
convoy as it was routed well out to sea. There were five
killed and a number
wounded in FAREHAM by a near miss.
Bad weather, breakdowns, and lack of targets had rendered
operations of M.T.B.s from Tobruk practically valueless.
The Commander in Chief
recalled all four and VULCAN to Alexandria for further
training in torpedo
KELVIN and Group B arrived at Alexandria and sailed again
Famagusta. HASTY sailed from Alexandria with Group A.
The Yugoslav M.T.B.s DURMITOR and KAYMAKALAN now sailed
Alexandria to Port Said for slipping and fitting out as
H.M.S. GLENGYLE was sailed from Suez to Aden.
In view of the present scale of attack on Malta, the
Chief requested F.O.C.N.A.S. to retain P 42 and P 43 for
the present and
operate them for Gibraltar.
The Commander in Chief asked the Admiralty for the
a Lieutenant A/S at Malta to counter the enemy's improved
3rd April 1942
air attacks continued.
Convoy T.A. 31 sailed from Tobruk at 0630/3 escorted by
DELPHINIUM, PRIMULA, and SNAPDRAGON with ERIDGE and
BEAUFORT as a striking
force. ST MONACE towing tug JEDDAH was sailed from Mersa
Matruh to Alexandria
escorted by WOLBOROUGH.
H.M.S. VALIANT sailed from Alexandria at 1600/3 for Port
escorted by JERVIS, KIPLING, HASTY, DULVERTON, and
HURWORTH. IN spite of strong
fighter patrols which had been
maintained for the past
two days, an enemy reconnaissance aircraft probably
sighted the movement. Captain
C.B. Barry, D.S.O., R.N.
assumed command of H.M.S.
VALIANT in succession to Rear Admiral Morgan. Commander
Gotto assumed command
of QUEEN ELIZABETH with the rank of acting Captain.
KELVIN and Group B arrived at Famagusta. KELVIN had engine
defects and proceeded to Beirut for repairs. Group B
sailed again for Alexandria
escorted by SIKH. Group A
sailed from Alexandria
escorted by HASTY.
Vice Admiral Miakulin of the U.S.S.R. Navy visited the
in Chief at Alexandria and lunched with the Commander in
Chief in the QUEEN
Royal Marine Battalion
The 11th R.M. Battalion was ordered to move to Haifa. It
intended to continue combined operational training while
at the same time
providing protection against parachutist for the Haifa oil
field and refinery.
Admiral Sir A.B. Cunningham left Alexandria by air for the
4th April 1942
and accurate air attacks continued. The Grand Harbour and
aerodromes were still the main targets. The enemy seemed
particularly on PENELOPE and LANCE in dock. Vice Admiral,
Malta, hoped to be
able to sail PENELOPE in about a week and LANCE as soon as
the dock caisson
could be opened. HAVOCK would be ready p.m. 5th.
PENELOPE had splinter damage; the Vice Admiral, Malta,
that her spirit and gunnery were an inspiration. The Greek
was sunk and ABINGDON was beached. There was also much
damage in the dockyard. Commander
P. Somerville, Captain of the H.M.S. KINGSTON, was wounded
and later died.
By the use of Army and Naval ratings who
had done splendid work, a further 500 tons had been
unloaded from the sunken
An enemy convoy was being passed close east of Malta to
0030/4, six enemy merchant ships in three small convoys
escorted by destroyers
were sighted 120 miles north east of Tripoli. Beauforts
from the Western Desert
left at dawn, but did not make contact.
ERIDGE, BEAUFORT and convoy T.A. 31 arrived at Alexandria
the tug JEDDAH in tow of ST MONACE.
HASTY and Group A arrived at Famagusta and sailed again
Alexandria. Group B arrived at Alexandria and SIKH
proceeded independently to
The Agreement with the French Squadron was renewed
until the arrival of the Commander in Chief designate. In
view of the
possibility of action elsewhere and its repercussions, a
scheme was prepared
for the seizure of the French ships at Alexandria.
JERVIS and KIPLING returned to Alexandria from the escort
VALIANT. H.M.S. QUEEN ELIZABETH was docked for examination
H.M.S. VALIANT was passed through the Canal as far as
Lakes. M.T.B. 59 was sailed from Port Said to Alexandria
on completion of
working up at Suez.
S.S. TURBO (oil tanker) broke in half in heavy weather in
position 25-16, 35-25E while in tow of GLADYS MOLLER. Both
afloat. She had been damaged by torpedo many months
previously but could not be
repaired afloat. It had been intended for the tugs ex
Persian Gulf to tow her
to India for repairs.
PROTEUS returned to Alexandria from successful patrol in
Cephalonia and Taranto areas. At 2200/28 PROTEUS attacked
a convoy of seven
ships off Paxos Island and reported two torpedo hits. One
ship certainly sank. At
2034/30, PROTEUS intercepted a northbound escorted
which had been reported by aircraft and sank it
with two torpedo hits in
position 36-25N, 21-16E.
5th April 1942
four air raids by 150 bombers, the following damage was
side blown in by a bomb and sunk in the dock
hit and pierced by a bomb which did not explode.
further damaged by a near
miss and beached.
dockyard and harbour craft also received more damage.
enemy aircraft were shot down and many others damaged.
The Commander in Chief ordered HAVOCK to be sailed
Gibraltar as soon as seaworthy. She sailed from Malta at
To meet the situation caused by the intensive bombing of
the Admiralty had under consideration a proposal to move
the Tenth Submarine
Flotilla to Alexandria and transfer LUCIA from the East
Indies to maintain it. The
Vice Admiral, Malta, Captain (S) Tenth Submarine Flotilla
and the Commander in
Chief were strongly opposed to this and pointed out that
the offensive power of
the submarines would be almost entirely lost since their
speed and endurance
would only allow them to operate in the Aegean. Captain
(S) Tenth Submarine
Flotilla proposed to use the crews of the submarines sunk
in harbour to provide
spare crews who would man the submarines on return from
would be kept dived by day in harbour. By exchanging crews
and submarines, it
would be possible to maintain the same output on a basis
of ten days on patrol
and five days in harbour.
HASTY and Group A arrived at Alexandria, having been
T/B aircraft on passage. Group B sailed from Alexandria
escorted by KIPLING.
An aircraft reported a cruiser and other warships in
harbour late p.m. 5th (n.b. apparently 4th
vice 5th. See next sentence)
The 15th Cruiser Squadron were brought to short notice,
but did not sail as
reconnaissance at daylight 5th failed to confirm the
VALIANT was passed through the Canal and sailed for Aden.
At Port Said an explosion in an
lighter at 1030/5 caused some military and about 100
The Greek destroyer PANTHER was sailed from Alexandria to
the Suez Canal and proceed to
Bombay for refit and
fitting of Asdics. Owing to propeller and machinery
damage, she was unfit for
service until her refit could be carried out.
6th April 1942
– Loss of H.M.S.
0415/5 HAVOCK reported having run aground in position 200
Kelibia Light 2 ½ miles. She had been routed close inshore
at 28 knots. HAVOCK
reported that the ship could not be refloated and was
being destroyed; the crew
were safely ashore except for one killed. It was not
possible to send any
rescue craft in the circumstances, and the crew
interned. About 100 passengers had been embarked in
addition. Later air
reconnaissance established the ship's position as 020
degrees Kelibia Light 2
There was only one heavy raid on Malta during the day by
bombers. Further damage to the dockyard was caused and the
floating crane was
sunk. Admiral Superintendent, Malta's signal timed 1250 of
6th April contained
details of the dockyard damage.
The Commander in Chief ordered PENELOPE to be sailed as
she could be made fit.
Air reconnaissance showed no important movements of French
and the Admiralty ordered normal dispositions to be
The Commander in Chief requested that any further M.L.s at
Gibraltar awaiting passage to the Eastern Mediterranean
should be sailed via
The Italian ships VULCANIA and SATURNIA with safe conduct
Italy to Eritrea for repatriation of civilians arrived at
Gibraltar and sailed
Convoy A.T. 37 sailed from Alexandria escorted by PEONY,
GLOXINIA, PRIMULA, and FALK with QUEEN OLGA as a striking
Group B arrived at Famagusta and sailed again for Haifa
by KELVIN. KIPLING remained at Famagusta. Group A
sailed from Alexandria escorted by HASTY.
The Greek destroyer SPETSAI arrived at Aden after fitting
at Calcutta and was sailed to Port Sudan to complete the
refit from HIPHAISTOS.
Minesweepers REDWOOD and ST MINVER arrived at Massawa to
the South Channel.
URGE returned to Malta from a successful patrol north of
At 0055/30 in position 40-07N, 15-13E a landing party from
URGE blew up a goods
train part of which fell 120 feet down an embankment. One
minute later, URGE
attacked a northbound merchant ship; all torpedoes missed
and URGE surfaced and
attacked with the gun. Three hits were obtained before
gunfire from the enemy
forced URGE to dive. At 0854/1 in position 38-38N, 15-22E,
URGE attacked an
enemy cruiser escorted by two destroyers northbound at
high speed. Two
torpedoes hit and the cruiser sank eight minutes later.
The cruiser was
considered by URGE to be 8" but was later established to
have been the 6"
cruiser BANDE NERE.
The Greek submarine TRITON returned to Alexandria from
the Aegean – her first patrol since December 1941. The
uneventful and no attacks were made though, the submarine
was apparently in
contact with a U boat by H.E., while returning to
7th April 1942
air raids were continued. Three hundred bombers were
with fighter escorts. The attacks were mainly on the Grand
Valletta. There was much damage done in Valletta and in
the Dockyard, including
the Castille and Admiralty House. The tug EMILY was sunk
and oiler BOXOL
The Hospital Ship SOMERSETSHIRE was torpedoed presumably
by a U
boat at 1437/7 in position 32-13N, 26-34E while on passage
to Tobruk. QUEEN
OLGA was ordered to her assistance and took most of her
personnel on board. Tugs
ST ISSEY and BRIGAND from Alexandria and HENRIETTA MOLLER
from Mersa Matruh
were sent for her assistance. SOMERSETSHIRE proceeded
towards Alexandria at
slow speed under her own steam. On arrival of the tugs,
QUEEN OLGA landed her
passengers at Mersa Matruh and then rejoined convoy A.T.
Group A arrived at Famagusta
again for Alexandria escorted by HURWORTH who joined there
from Haifa. HASTY
proceeded to Beirut. Group B arrived at Haifa and sailed
again for Famagusta
escorted by DULVERTON. KELVIN remained at Haifa. SIKH
proceeded from Beirut to
Rear Admiral R.J.R. Scott assumed duty as Senior Naval
Canal Area in succession to Vice Admiral J.M. Pipon.
GLENGYLE sailed from Aden for passage to the United
was to provide cover for her during her passage to the
The fore part of TURBO was sunk by gunfire by S.S. JEYPORE
the after part foundered.
The submarine P 611 sailed from Gibraltar for Alexandria
transfer to Turkey.
About twenty enemy aircraft attacked Alexandria from
0530. The enemy appeared to concentrate on QUEEN ELIZABETH
in the floating
dock. No naval damage was caused; about fifty civilians
were killed and
8th April 1942
sailed at 2155/8 for Gibraltar. She was near missed before
sailing; her Captain was wounded, but was able to sail in
her. The Vice Admiral
Malta, reported the following:
had a desperate but stirring final day at Malta, trying to
keep to a timetable disorganized by raids and in action
incessantly; by 1900
all H.A. ammunition was expended and re ammunitioning had
to be carried out
before sailing. A reduction of about 150 was made in the
crew. A bomb fell in
the middle of number 4 dock
shortly after PENELOPE had
left it to oil. The spirit and determination of her
Captain, officers, and men
after having been principal target of the heaviest
continuous air raid yet
seen, have been beyond praise."
Air raids during the day were almost incessant. KINGSTON
again hit by a bomb which did
not explode. The
minesweeper SWONA and trawler JADE were further damaged by
near misses. The
first 500 tons of oil fuel were pumped into shore tanks
R.A.F. aircraft from Malta bombed a convoy of two merchant
and four destroyers south of Messina during the night
7/8th. The result was
Convoy A.T. 37 arrived at Tobruk. SOMERSETSHIRE continued
her own power to Alexandria. Tug HENRIETTA MOLLER was
detached to Mersa Matruh.
Group A arrived at Alexandria
by HURWORTH. This was the last serial by PRINCESS
MARGUERITE and ANTWERP. Group
B sailed from Famagusta for Alexandria escorted by
DULVERTON and KIPLING. SIKH
and KELVIN sailed from Haifa and HASTY from Beirut for
– Air Raid: THORGRIM
and SVANA sunk
There was an air raid on Alexandria from 0410 to 0530/8 by
20 aircraft. The floating dock was again the main target
but was undamaged. Beaufighters
shot down two aircraft and A.A. gunfire shot down one. The
torpedo depot on 41
quay was severely damaged and
had to be evacuated. A/S trawler
THORGRIM and minesweeper SVANA were sunk by a near miss
quay. There were no casualties.
VALIANT arrived at Aden during the night of 7/8th and
again after fuelling for Durban to complete final repairs.
9th April 1942
were only two big air raids during the day each by about
aircraft divided between the Grand Harbour and aerodromes.
LANCE was further
damaged by a near miss. Tug WEST COCKER was sunk.
PENELOPE was heavily attacked by aircraft
throughout the day but continued westward undamaged.
WISHART and BOREAS
were sailed from Gibraltar to meet her.
Information was received through American Consul General
about 250 interned officers and men were arriving at
Algiers from HAVOCK.
QUEEN OLGA, PEONY, GLOXINIA, and PRIMULA and FALK sailed
Tobruk with convoy T.A. 32 which included TONELINE and
arrived safely at Alexandria.
Captain Kirkpatrick assumed duty as Naval Officer in
Said in succession to Captain Hines.
Operation SCALFORD was completed. All forces concerned
KELVIN, KIPLING, DULVERTON, HURWORTH, HASTY, MALINES, and
returned to Alexandria. A total of about 6000 troops had
been moved into Cyprus
and 7500 from Cyprus into Egypt and Palestine. Nineteen
Greek Naval Officers
and about 400 other personnel escaped from Greece were
embarked in the last
M.T.B.s 266 and 268 sailed from Alexandria to visit Levant
and ensure that berthing and fuelling arrangements were
satisfactory in the
event of M.T.B.s operating in the area.
Searchlights were observed in the vicinity of Famagusta
the night 8th/9th. Enemy activity near the Island had been
suspected on two
The Dutch submarine O 23 arrived at Alexandria from
passage to the Far East.
10th April 1942
House, Victoriosa was demolished and St ANGELO further
damaged during two heavy raids by 140 bombers. JADE and
PLOUGHBOY was also
damaged again. Five enemy bombers were shot down for
certain and probably three
more as well as others damaged.
PENELOPE arrived safely at Gibraltar. She had been
shadowed throughout the previous day by a total of 14 T/B
aircraft and about 25
JU 88s but was undamaged. Only 70 rounds of H.E.
ammunition remained on arrival
at Gibraltar. Some anxiety was felt for her safety since
WISHART and BOREAS did
not make contact with her and no signals were received
An exchange of incurably wounded prisoners of war was
by LLANDOVERY CASTLE proceeding between Alexandria and
11th April 1942
150 bombers again attacked the Grand Harbour and
was sunk in dock. PAMPAS was hit again. Rinella W/T
Station was damaged.
The minesweeper situation was serious. The only
and L.L. EDDY and
Tug 308 and
approach channel could no longer be swept to the 10
fathom line; Vice Admiral Malta asked that one or
Oropesa minesweepers should be sent through with the next
QUEEN OLGA and Convoy T.A. 32 arrived at Alexandria.
also arrived at Alexandria, but had to be taken in tow but
The Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron and all available
carried out large scale exercises during the day and night
The Commander in Chief proposed and the Admiralty approved
reduce materially the complement of officers and ratings
in QUEEN ELIZABETH
during her period of her temporary repair.
The Egyptian merchant ship KAWSAR was bombed in position
32-14E at 1400/11 and hit by four bombs. The crew
abandoned ship allowing the
fire to spread. ROMEO and two trawlers from Port Said took
her in tow to Port
H.M.S. OSIRIS was sailed from Alexandria to Port Said in
BRIGAND for removal of her battery and other gear required
to refit H.M.S.
ROVER (now at Bombay).
The U.S.A. merchant ship SUSAN LUCKENBACK was in collision
S.S. NEA HELLAS in the Gulf of Suez and was beached.
Salvage tug CONFEDERATE
was sent to her assistance. Damage to NE HELLAS was not
It was intended to employ the Persian Gulf tugs in towing
as well as TURBO to India, but the former could not be
refloated and the tugs
were sailed independently.
12th April 1942
were again two heavy raids by about 150 bombers. Six
and one fighter were shot down for certain. There were now
no primary targets
left in the Grand Harbour and damage was more widely
spread. Rinella W/T was
again damaged; ESSEX and TALABOT were each hit and set on
fire; the naval
canteen was demolished. Admiral Superintendent, Malta's
signal timed 2345 of
10th April reported the further damage to the dockyard.
There were now
practically no workshops in action other than those
underground. All docks were
damaged in varying degrees. Electric power and light, and
was largely out of action.
S.S. KAWSAR was beached just outside Port Said harbour.
was intact but the ship was still on fire.
The Commander in Chief instructed the Flag Officer, Red
carry out extensive smoke trials at Suez with a view to
smoke protection for important harbour and vulnerable
targets on shore.
The Admiralty requested the Commander in Chief to give
consideration to the possibility of the withdrawal of the
Flotilla from the Mediterranean to operate in the East.
In view of the change in the general situation and of the
unsuitable conditions prevailing in Egypt, the Commander
in Chief considered
that the scheme for training Lower Deck candidates for the
rank of officer was
impracticable in Egypt. It was recommended that the
personnel now on passage
should be disembarked in South Africa and should start the
The serious shortage of petrol tanker tonnage in the
was again represented to the Director of Sea Transport.
13th April 1942
was a comparative lull in the enemy air attacks. Only one
small and abortive raid took place at dusk. About 140 tons
of oil were recovered from
PAMPAS; it had not been possible to
obtain a further haul from BRECONSHIRE.
In view of the French situation, the Commander in Chief
instructions that Free French ships were not to visit
S.S. SKAGERAK was slightly damaged by a mine when entering
Bay at midnight 12/13th outside the searched channel.
The Commander in Chief proposed and the Admiralty later
to turn over two corvettes to be manned by Greek
personnel, who would be
available in about a month's time. Key ratings would be
trained up in the
meantime. In three months, crews would be ready for two
more corvettes and in
four months for two HUNT class destroyers. The Greek
Commander in Chief also
hoped to produce 6 M.T.B. crews, the key ratings for which
would be trained up
now. Crews for all except the first two corvettes were to
be sent to the United
The Greek submarines NEREUS and TRITON were rapidly
unfit for operational service unless extensive repairs
were undertaken. These
were not considerable justifiable under the circumstances.
When patrols could
not longer be carried out, it was intended to use them for
P 34 was damaged by a mine and returned to Malta.
14th April 1942
were renewed air raids on Malta by total of 150 escorted
bombers. Four bombers and three fighters were shot down
for certain and four
more damaged. There was further damage to the dockyard and
to Rinella W/T Station.
Two southbound enemy convoys of two and four merchant
escorted by five destroyers passed about 85 miles south of
Malta during the
day. A cruiser was in company with the smaller convoy. The
convoys were sighted
during the night 13/14th by an A.S.V. Wellington and were
by a Maryland aircraft throughout the forenoon. URGE,
UPHOLDER, and THRASHER
were concentrated in the Gulf of Sirte to intercept. A
striking force of eight
Beauforts from Egypt escorted by four Beaufighters
attacked the larger convoy
at 1600. Two hits were seen on one merchant ship, one hit
on another and one
hit on a destroyer. The striking force landed at Malta but
Beauforts were shot down by enemy fighters over
the convoy over the convoy
and four more while approaching Malta. Two
ME 110 were shot
down by Beaufighters.
Convoy A.T. 38 of one fast petrol ship sailed from
escorted by DELPHINIUM and SNAPDRAGON with ERIDGE and
BEAUFORT as striking
force. The convoy had been delayed by the Chinese crew of
ADDINDA refusing to
sail, and was finally sailed without her.
M.T.B.s 259 and 264 were sailed from Alexandria to Mersa
and Bardia for Operation LEADER.
APHIS was sailed from Alexandria to Mersa Matruh for
The question of withdrawing the First Submarine Flotilla
Mediterranean was under consideration by the Admiralty.
The Commander in
Chief's signal times 0930/14 summarised the position in
UNA reported having sunk one of two westbound
ton transports in convoy in position 37-45N,
15-41E at 1154/5. A very
heavy counter attack followed.
The ex Italian minesweeping trawler BIGLIERE was raised at
Massawa and taken over from Messrs. Mitchell Cotts
(Salvage) co. It was
intended to recondition her for service at Beirut.
15th April 1942
spite of the scale of enemy air attack, a striking force
Swordfish and two Albacores took off during the night
14/15th to attack the
convoy, but failed to locate it.
Reconnaissance indicated that a total of four ships only
Tripoli on the 15th and it was considered that two and one
destroyer were probably sunk
in this very gallant Beaufort attack. The
cruiser apparently returned to Messina. As a result of
this attack, however, 39
Squadron was crippled for some time to come. Air attacks
on Malta were
The Admiralty ordered the remainder of the Third and
Seventh M.L. Flotilla to remain at Gibraltar for the
present time since their
engines were not sufficiently reliable for the passage
round the Cape.
Convoy A.T. 38 arrived at Tobruk. The escort sailed again
convoy T.A. 34.
KELVIN and KIPLING embarked two platoons of 11th R.M.
and sailed from Alexandria to raid Kuphonisi Island.
At 1941/15 a torpedo was fired at Beirut
harbour presumably by a U boat. The torpedo
exploded on the east mole
causing a breach, but no damage to shipping or casualties.
P 612, the second of the two submarines for Turkey, left
Gibraltar for Alexandria.
The Chief of the Turkish Air Staff, General Sefik Cakmak
the fleet at Alexandria.
The fitting of Hurricane long range
petrol tanks to Albacore aircraft of 821 Squadron had
proved successful and had
provided a T/B striking force with a range of 700 miles.
It was not decided to
convert 826 Squadron similarly. The fitting of A.S.V. to
these aircraft was
pursued as a mot urgent matter.
A Torpedo Training School was formed at Shallufa under the
R.A.F. with F.A.A. pilots and a torpedo officer as
instructor......(n.b. bottom of page chopped)...
train Wellington pilots in torpedo dropping. H.M.S.
SAGITTA was attached as a
torpedo target and recovery ship.
16th April 1942
were no raids on Malta, probably owing to low visibility.
arrived safely with stores from Gibraltar.
M.T.B.s 259 and 264 landed four passengers on the
of Crete during the night 15th/16th and embarked eight
others. The two boats
returned direct to Mersa Matruh arriving at 1230/16th in
spite of several stops
on passage for engine repair.
Convoy A.T. 39 of three ships sailed from Alexandria
PEONY, ERICA, GLOXINIA, and COCKER with DULVERTON and
HURWORTH as striking
KELVIN and KIPLING successfully landed two platoons of the
R.M. Battalion on Kuphonisi Island (Crete) during the
night 15th/16th and
reembarked them without loss. The wireless station with
was the main object of
the raid was destroyed. The enemy retreated inland and no
prisoners could be
taken. Documents and certain gear, which had been
captured, were lost overboard
during the re embarkation. KELVIN and KIPLING returned to
There were further indications of U Boats operating off
The following ships had been granted safe conduct and were
passage as follows:
and SICILLA from Sweden to Piraeus with Red Cross relief
supplies for Greece.
about to sail from Haifa to Piraeus with
CESARE, DUILO, VULCANIA, and SATURNIA from Italy to round
Cape to embark Italian citizens from Eritrea.
was also an intention to employ the Greek depot ships
CORINTHIAN and IONIA now at Alexandria on Greek refugee
17th April 1942
were again no air raids on Malta; visibility was bad.
ERIDGE, BEAUFORT and convoy T.A. 34 arrived at Alexandria.
was transporting water from Alexandria to Mersa Matruh.
Free French patrol vessel VIKING which was escorting the
Dutch (n.b. pen insertion: British) tanker
CASPIA from Haifa to Beirut was torpedoed and sank in
three minutes 23 miles
240 degrees from Beirut during the night 16/17th. At
when fifteen miles 240 degrees from Beirut, CASPIA was
also torpedoed and sunk.
Six survivors from CASPIA reached Beirut. Both sinkings
were presumed by U
Survivors were also landed from six schooners
which were sunk by U boat gunfire during the
night 16/17th off the
There was also a report of a U boat and surface craft
off Famagusta. The Commander in Chief ordered all ships on
the Levant route to
be escorted and sailed the Tenth Corvette Group to
reinforce the Levant Escort
Captains (S) One and Ten resumed normal operational
18th April 1942
were renewed raids by 209 bombers. The torpedo depot was
In view of the general naval situation elsewhere, the
Staff decided to abandon the project to run a convoy from
Gibraltar to Malta
Convoy A.T. 39 arrived at Tobruk. The escorts sailed with
T.A. 35 of empty store ships.
The Commander in Chief gave orders for the low numbered A
lighters to remain with the Inshore Squadron, but to cease
transport operations for the present. Their greater
reliability compared with
the subsequent type of A
lighter made them
The W/T station at Tel Aviv was bombarded by a U boat at
2000/17th, but no damage was done. LA MOQUEUSE was
diverted to hunt the U boat
but did not make contact. Two more schooners were reported
sunk by gunfire.
Four M.T.B.s were ordered to sail from Alexandria for the
to be used as a striking force against surface craft and U
boats. They were not
to be used for patrols.
A magnetic mine was swept to Haifa.
M.L. 355, the first of the Fairmile Flotilla building in
was commissioned at Port Said.
19th April 1942
was raided by about 170 bombers in three
heavy raids. Seven bombers and one fighter were
destroyed with three
more probably and six damaged. The main targets were the
Grand Harbour and
Kalafrana. The tugs ANDROMEDA was sunk and ANCIENT further
PAMPAS was hit again and set on fire.
Force W, including the U.S. aircraft carrier WASP, sailed
Gibraltar during the night 18th/19th to reinforce Malta
Convoy A.T. 40 (ADINDA) sailed from Alexandria escorted by
PRIMULA and SNAPDRAGON with ERIDGE and BEAUFORT as a
striking force. DULVERTON
and HURWORTH and convoy T.A. 35 arrived Alexandria.
There were further reports of U Boats and the Commander in
ordered convoys to be instituted between Port Said and
Beirut. Another A/S
whaler was sailed to reinforce the escort force which
would then consist of
three corvettes, two Free French sloops, nine M/S
trawlers, plus two trawlers,
forming part of the Port Said harbour defences.
LA MOQUEUSE attacked a submarine contact during the night
and hunted it for three hours while escorting EOCENE from
Haifa to Alexandria. JANUS
and QUEEN OLGA were sailed from Alexandria to take over
the escort of EOCENE.
S.S. IRIS grounded in position 31-18N, 33-09E. BRIGAND and
MONANCE were sent from Alexandria to tow her off.
Famagusta was reported as mined and the port closed.
An aircraft attacked a U boat and probably damaged it at
near Port Said.
Two Egyptian schooners were reported to have been sunk by
from a U boat during the night 18/19 in the vicinity of
JANUS arrived at Alexandria on completion of extended
including the installation of a new boiler at Simonstown.
CLYDE sailed from Malta to Gibraltar after unloading her
of white oils and stores. Her berth was heavily bombed
both while she was
bottomed in the harbour and just after she had sailed.
M.T.B. 57 was commissioned at Suez.
20th April 1942
were three very heavy raids by over 300 bombers escorted
fighters of which seven bombers and four fighters were
certainly short down,
three bombers and one fighter probably, and ten others
damaged. The raids were
mainly concentrated in aerodromes, but further damage was
sustained in the
dockyard and the torpedo depot.
Forty seven Spitfires arrived safely at
Malta having been flown off from U.S. Aircraft carrier
WASP. Some of these were
in action three hours after landing.
ERIDGE, BEAUFORT, convoy A.T. 40, and the escort arrived
Tobruk and entered harbour.
All shipping was held in port pending the institution of
M.T.B.s 265 and 266 arrived at Haifa. M.T.B.s 257 and 268
Alexandria with defects. Another schooner was reported
sunk by submarine
gunfire at 1500/20 in position 33-53N, 35-00E.
Four mines were swept at Famagusta by LL
– Loss of
H.M.S. UPHOLDER (Lt. Cdr. Wanklyn, V.C., R.N.) was
hours overdue at Malta and considered lost. Later
investigation indicated that
UPHOLDER had been sunk by enemy A/S craft on 14th April
while attacking the
enemy convoy off Tripoli. Her career had been outstanding
and her loss was a
H.R.H. The Duke of Gloucester arrived at Alexandria and
ships and establishments, Guards and Bands were paraded.
H.R.H. stayed with the
Commander in Chief at the Residency during his visit to
the Fleet and until
24th during his subsequent visit to the Army and Royal Air
21st April 1942
150 bombers attacked Malta with heavy fighter escort. The
Spitfire reinforcements did good work, and together with
A.A. fire, shot down
six bombers and three fighters and damaged 21 more. JADE
was sunk. The after
part of PAMPAS was blown out.
An enemy cruiser was reported by a Wellington
aircraft at 2245/20 steering eastward at 30 knots in a
position 25 miles south
of Malta. Minelaying was suspected.
Two Beaufighters from Egypt attacked a small convoy in the
of Sirte and reported hits with cannon fire on one
merchant ship and one
destroyer. A Wellington aircraft from Malta also bombed a
convoy southwest of
Malta and reported probable damage.
At Tobruk there were two minor air raids, after a
period of quiet.
Three mines were swept off Beirut and the port was closed.
sailing of the first southbound convoy was postponed.
Mines had also been swept
off Haifa, but the port remained open.
Convoy L.E. 26 of six ships was sailed from Port Said at
for Haifa, Beirut, and Tripoli (Syria), escorted by PEONY,
COMMANDANT DOMINE and PROTEA.
The question of arming schooners was raised. The Senior
Officer, Levant Area, considered that it was undesirable
since the schooners
would not be fought with any resolution and their arming
would only lead to
ruthless sinkings without consideration for the crews. At
present, the crews
were generally been well treated. It was preferable for
compensation to be paid
to crews of sunken schooners. The Commander in Chief
approved this policy.
Captain (S), First Submarine Flotilla, proceeded by air to
Commander (S) assuming operational control in his absence.
HILMI was paid off.
H.R.H. the Duke of Gloucester could....(n.b.
bottom of page chopped)
22nd April 1942
bombers attacked in three raids. Five bombers and two
were shot down and nine more probably destroyed or
damaged. Raids were mainly
on the civilian population.
Convoy A.T. 41 sailed from Alexandria escorted by ERICA,
and COCKER with HERO and HASTY as striking force. ERIDGE
and BEAUFORT (striking
force) sailed from Tobruk at 0800/22 with convoy T.A. 36
(three empty ships)
escorted by PRIMULA, SNAPDRAGON, and FALK.
There were several reports of U boat sightings from
Convoy L.W. 26 (five ships) sailed from Tripoli (Syria)
Beirut escorted by LA MOQUEUSE, ROMEO, CUMBRAE, SOUTHERN
MAID, and M.L. 1038. Mines
were swept off Port Said which
was closed. Famagusta
and Beirut were reopened.
A schooner was torpedoed and sunk by 0800/22 in position
34-56E and another sunk by gunfire at 1200/22 between
Famagusta and Beirut.
S.S. IRIS was refloated and towed to Port Said.
U boats were reported by coast watchers off Latakia and
by PEONY near Beirut, by LA MOQUEUSE between Haifa and
Port Said, and by D/F
bearings off Morphoo Bay, Cyprus. It appeared that at
least four U boats were
operating along the coast.
M.T.B. 267 and 268 were sailed from Alexandria to join V
The Swedish Red Cross ship SICILIA arrived and left
having landed food supplies for Greece, having been
granted a safe conduct.
THRASHER returned to Alexandria from a most enterprising
in the Gulf of Sirte. With great determination and
brilliant appreciation of
the enemy movements, THRASHER chased two convoys right
across the Gulf of Sirte
for 36 hours and 24 hours respectively, largely on the
surface in daylight, and
sank at 1500 ton ship at
0635/7 in position 32-49N,
19-42E and a 3500 ton at 1012/13 in position 31-42N,
19-07E. Both ships heavily
laden and bound from Tripoli to Benghazi. At 1408/19
THRASHER engaged an
eastbound armed motor lighters in position 32-53N, 22-23E
but was forced by
shore batteries to dive after seeing at least one hit on
23rd April 1942
on Malta were slightly less intense.
S.S. KIRKLAND in convoy T.A. 36 was torpedoed by a U boat
sunk at 0406/23 in position 31-51N, 26-37E. The U boat was
not sighted or
detected and the subsequent hunt by ERIDGE and BEAUFORT
was unsuccessful. FALK
took the survivors to Mersa Matruh. There were several
other U boat reports
during the day indicating that three or four operating on
the coastal route.
There were further reports of U boats operating throughout
area. Port Said was reopened. Convoy L.W. 27 sailed from
Tripoli (Syria) for
Beirut, Haifa, and Port Said, escorted by SOUTHERN ISLE,
SOUTHERN SEA, CUMBRAE,
PROTEA, and HYACINTH.
PRINCESS MARGUERITE was sailed from Alexandria to Haifa
by JERVIS and KELVIN to operate between Haifa and
Famagusta for a further
relief of troops in Cyprus.
S.S. JERSEY sank as a result of an explosion when about to
in Suez Bay. The explosion was
considered to have been caused
by a magnetic mine laid at least five months previously.
COVENTRY arrived at Aden on completion of repairs at
was sailed to Jedda on passage to Suez with a consignment
TURBULENT returned to Alexandria from patrol in the
1415/7 a 1200 ton heavily laden steamer was sunk by
gunfire in position 42-12N,
18-58E. At 2023/14 off Devenick, a schooner was hit by
gunfire, but TURBULENT
was forced by shore batteries to dive before it could be
sunk. At 1451/16 a
heavily laden 6000 ton
southern bound merchant ship
was torpedoed off Monopoli and sank in two minutes. Three
other attacks on
merchant ships and one BALLILA U boat were unsuccessful.
24th April 1942
raids were continued by about 160 bombers.
Two were destroyed and eleven more probably destroyed or
damaged. The torpedo
depot was again hit and Bighi hospital received
A Wellington aircraft from Malta reported very near misses
convoy southwest of Malta during the night 23/24.
ERIDGE, BEAUFORT, and the remainder of convoy T.A. 36
Alexandria. Convoy A.T. 41 arrived at Tobruk and the
escorts sailed with convoy
Rear Admiral, Alexandria, was ordered to resume
for escorting ships between Alexandria and Port Said with
escorts detached from
the Western Desert escort force and one ship from the
CARLISLE was sailed from Alexandria to Port Said for
the Canal and was escorted by SIKH and KIPLING.
H.H.M.S. PAUL KOUNDOURIOTIS arrived at Aden on completion
fitting asdics at Bombay. She was sailed to Port Sudan and
H.M.S. PARKTOWN (newly converted South African LL
arrived at Aden and was sailed to join the 167th M/S Group
TORBAY returned to Alexandria from a typically offensive
in the Taranto Corfu area. A magnetic minesweeper off Anti
Paxosal at 1200/9
and a large southbound laden schooner off Fano Island at
1750/11 were sunk by
gunfire. After a close patrol off Taranto, TORBAY
torpedoed and sank a
5000 ton ship fully laden,
probably with ammunition at
0830/18 in position 38-46N, 18-17E. At 1236/19 off Cape
surfaced and engaged with gun and torpedoes a
armed auxiliary petrol carried flying the German naval
ensign. After a fierce
engagement, the ship was blazing from stem to stern and
was left abandoned. TORBAY being
forced to withdraw by heavy gunfire from the shore, by
aircraft, and by two German M.A.S. Boats.
P 611 arrived at Alexandria on passage to Turkey.
25th April 1942
following signal was made by the Commander in Chief to the
Governor of Malta on the occasion of the award of the
George Cross to Malta.
Mediterranean Fleet have learned with the greatest
satisfaction of the award of the George Cross by His
Majesty to the people of Malta as a result of their superb
fortitude and steadfastness during nearly two years of
war. In their present ordeal, the people of Malta are
constantly in the minds of all in the Fleet, we know they
will continue the conflict in that magnificent stout
hearted way which has caused them to become world known
and world famous."
There was a daylight raid on Tobruk by twelve JU 87s who
concentrated on EOCENE which
was unloading petrol. EOCENE
was damaged by several near misses but was reported
seaworthy. Four enemy
aircraft were shot down, four more probably, and four
Convoy L.E. 27 of fourteen ships and two minesweepers
PEONY, LA MOQUEUSE, COMMANDANT DOMINE, SOUTHERN MAID, and
northward from Port Said. On account of its size and the
presence of valuable
ship BELRAY, SIKH and KIPLING were added as a striking
force – COMMANDANT
DOMINE returned to Port Said with defects.
JERVIS, KELVIN, and PRINCESS MARGUERITE sailed from Haifa
arrived at Famagusta.
Sea – H.M.S. AIREDALE
arrived at Aden from the United Kingdom and sailed to
Alexandria to join the
The Dutch O 23 was sailed from Alexandria to join the
Fleet in the Far East.
26th April 1942
were two medium scale air raids by a total of 125 bombers.
were destroyed and two damaged. The raids were spread over
many areas. The
Civil power station was hit.
HERO, HASTY, convoy T.A. 37 and escort arrived at
JERVIS, KELVIN, and PRINCESS MARGUERITE sailed from
Haifa in continuation of Operation ADAMSTOWN.
Convoy L.W. 27 arrived at Port Said.
RELIANT and CHANGTE
The store ship RELIANT was
Alexandria to Port Said escorted by ERIDGE and BEAUFORT.
RELIANT was to be
passed through the canal and sailed to the East Indies
station on relief by
CHANGTE after transferring certain personnel and stores to
CHANGTE at Aden.
The Commander in Chief instructed all Naval Officers in
maintain extreme vigilance against human torpedo attacks
during the coming moon
The Commander in Chief agreed to the temporary withdrawal
Tenth Submarine Flotilla from Malta, and proposed that it
should proceed to
Alexandria. Although unable to operate from Alexandria
against the Tripoli
route, the P and U submarines would have considerable
offensive value against
Aegean traffic and against a possible seaborne attack on
Cyprus or Syria. From
Gibraltar, they would only be of use for defence of should
a threat develop against
French North Africa. The Admiralty approved
their withdrawal to Alexandria.
27th April 1942
were again two medium scale air raids. Three aircraft were
destroyed and two damaged. Tug C 308 was sunk.
The only serviceable T/B aircraft, an Albacore attacked a
southbound convoy and torpedoed a medium sized merchant
ship at 0445/27 in
position 36-03N, 12-12E.
Convoy A.T. 42 the fast petrol ship EMPIRE PATROL escorted
PRIMULA and SNAPDRAGON with DULVERTON and HURWORTH as a
striking force sailed
from Alexandria for Tobruk.
U boat activity was clearly reduced; the Commander in
ordered convoys to be stopped and escorted sailings to be
resumed on completion
of convoys L.E. 28 and L.W. 28.
Convoy L.E. 27 arrived at Beirut and Tripoli (Syria).
dispersed to Turkish and Cypriot ports. SIKH and KIPLING
proceeded to Haifa
after leaving BELRAY at Tripoli (Syria). JERVIS, KELVIN,
MARGUERITE sailed from Haifa to Famagusta.
RELIANT was unable to enter Port Said until p.m. owing to
minesweeping and was unsuccessfully attacked by T/B
bombers at 1300/27th in
position 31-27N, 32-01E. ERIDGE remained at Port Said for
returned to Alexandria.
The Smyrna indication loop system and control station was
reported to be installed and working satisfactorily.
and certain other items necessary for effective operation
were not yet
The minesweeper LANGLAATE, the last ship of the South
167th Group, arrived at Aden and was sailed to Alexandria.
P 35 returned to Malta and reported having attacked at
modern merchant ship northbound escorted by 2 destroyers
in position 35-05N,
11-49E at 0655/18. A heavy explosion followed and one
torpedo was considered to
have hit the ship and seen later with a reduced speed......(n.b.
last four lines too faint to transcribe.)
28th April 1942
more enemy bombers were destroyed and two damaged in three
medium raids. The tug WEST DEAN and waterboat MONKEY were
sunk. There was more
damage to the Dockyard officers. The only serviceable
Albacore again attacked an
enemy southbound convoy and torpedoed a tanker at
0045/28th in position 37-20N,
Two Beaufighters attacked a small southbound convoy in
30-45N, 1_-25E at 1300/28th, and damaged a 2000
tanker by cannon fire. They also shot down 2 Dornier
Convoy A.T. 42 arrived at Tobruk. The escorts were sailed
with EOCENE who had completed discharge in spite of
further air attacks on her.
DULVERTON and HURWORTH hunted a U boat throughout the
afternoon and evening
between Bardia and Tobruk and joined the convoy a.m. 29th.
boat was also attacked by aircraft in position 32-00N,
24-40E at 2155/28th.
M.T.B.s were sailed from Alexandria to Tobruk, fuelling at
T.A. 38 left Tobruk.
JERVIS, KIPLING, and PRINCESS MARGUERITE arrived at
sailed again to Alexandria. Convoy L.E. 28 (5 ships)
sailed from Port Said for
Beirut and Tripoli (Syria) escorted by HYACINTH, ROMEO,
SOUTHERN ISLE, SOUTHERN
SEA, and PROTEA. VULCAN was moved from Alexandria to Haifa
sailing with L.E. 28
to maintain the M.T.B.s in the Levant. Convoy L.W. 28
sailed from Beirut for
Port Said escorted by COMMANDANT DOMINE, LA MOQUEUSE,
SOUTHERN MAID, and
A U boat was sighted off Damietta at 1311. LIVELY and
sailed from Alexandria to escort 3 ships sailing
independently from Alexandria
to Port Said. SIKH and KIPLING were sailed from Haifa to
hunt a U boat reported
at 1500/22nd in position (n.b. too faint
29th April 1942
total of only 15 German and Italian aircraft bombed Malta.
destroyed and probably two more: four were damaged. No
naval damage was done.
It was decided to evacuate Bighi Hospital except for
stores and equipment and a skeleton staff.
A large southbound convoy of about 20 ships escorted by
destroyers was reported by an aircraft on passage from
Gibraltar to Malta
making towards Algiers p.m. 29th.
SIKH and KIPLING joined convoy L.W. 28 at daylight.
KELVIN, and PRINCESS MARGUERITE returned to Alexandria on
Operation ADAMSTOWN. LIVELY and HASTY returned to
Alexandria on completion of
their escort duty.
CARLISLE sailed southward from Suez for the United
was passed through the Canal to Alexandria.
M.T.B. 311 and 312 were commissioned at Suez.
30th April 1942
were again only 3 small raids by a total of 32 German and
Italian bombers. The dockyard was not attacked. One enemy
destroyed and 5 damaged.
Convoy T.A. 38 arrived at Alexandria. DULVERTON and
sailed again to escort EMPIRE PATROL back from Tobruk. The
damage to EOCENE was
found not be serious.
Convoys L.E. and L.W. 28 arrived at Beirut and Port Said,
respectively. Normal escorted sailings were resumed. An
acute congestion of
shipping had arisen at port
Said due partly to ships
under repair and partly to ships awaiting escort and
transit of the Canal.
The Senior Naval Officer Levant area was ordered to resume
responsibility for escorting ships between Alexandria and
Port Said in order to
achieve greater economy in escorts and to assist the flow
The tug ALLIANCE and a schooner in tow were sunk by a mine
Famagusta harbour at 2045/29th.
HERO was sailed from Alexandria to Haifa to undergo a 14
OF EVENTS FOR April 1942
Sir A.B. Cunningham relinquished his command of the
Mediterranean Fleet on 1st April and was succeeded
temporarily by Vice Admiral
Sir H.D. Pridham Wipple who was granted the acting rank of
The main feature of the month was a determined attempt by
enemy to reduce Malta by air attack that his
Italian-Libyan convoys could
proceed uninterrupted. There was always the possibility
that invasion of the
island would be attempted once a sufficient air
superiority had been attained,
but it was felt that the enemy's first objective was
neutralization. This was
never fully achieved since our air striking forces were
still operating on the
enemy convoy routes at the end of the month, though on a
much reduced scale. The
weight of the attack, however, was such that the operation
of surface ships
became impossible and ultimately, the Tenth Submarine
Flotilla had to be
withdrawn. The dockyard was heavily damaged and many ships
were sunk, but by
the end of the month there was a definite falling off in
the scale of attack. A
serious factor, however, was the loss of all but a small
proportion of the
cargoes of the ships which had
reached Malta at the
end of March.
No major fleet operations took place. The scale of attack
Malta made the running of an April convoy out of the
question and due to the
general naval situation elsewhere, the Chiefs of Staff
abandoned the idea of
running a May convoy from the west. A successful and most
was carried out from Gibraltar in which 47
flown into Malta by the U.S. Aircraft Carrier WASP.
A small scale raid on Kuphonisi Island was completed
by KELVIN and JAGUAR (n.b. JAGUAR had
been sunk in March. Correct destroyer was KIPLING)
during the night
15th/16th April and on 16th April, two M.T.B.s carried out
a successful landing
operation on the South Coast of Crete.
Negotiations were completed for the transfer of two
four HUNT class destroyers to the Greek Navy. It was felt
that the poor state
of repair of the majority of the Greek ships was placing
an undue handicap upon
The agreement with Admiral Godfroy concerning the French
at Alexandria was renewed temporarily pending the arrival
of Admiral Pridham
The position in the Western Desert remained static with
armies endeavouring to accumulate sufficient supplies for
an advance. An
important enemy convoy which was
passed close east of Malta
on 14th April under cover of heavy bombing was
attacked by Beauforts
from Egypt. The attack was pressed home most gallantly
resulting in the
probable loss of two of the six ships; but six of eight
Beauforts were shot
down before reaching Malta....(n.b.
bottom of page
chopped)...strike again at the enemy convoys.
Our convoys continued to run steadily from Alexandria to
and will comparatively slight losses in spite of
considerable U boat and air
activity. The Hospital Ship SOMERSETSHIRE was torpedoed by
U boat while on
passage to Tobruk, but managed to reach Alexandria.
Two operations were carried out without incident for the
of a large number of troops in Cyprus.
U boat activity increased in the Levant shipping routes
convoys were instituted between Port Said and Tripoli
(Syria). U boats
concentrated mainly on schooners of which a large number
were sunk by gunfire. The
crews, however, were on the whole well treated by U boat
commanders and it was
considered on balance that there was nothing to be gained
by arming the
Other U boat activities were the sinking of the Free
escort vessel VIKINGS and the tanker CASPIA which she was
unsuccessful attack on Beirut Harbour; a bombardment
without effect of Tel Aviv
W/T Station; and the mining of a number of ports. The last
caused a temporary
dislocation of traffic but was effectively countered by
organisations. The Egyptian KAWSAR was bombed and severely
damaged by fire off
An exchange of incurably wounded prisoners of war
was completed by the hospital ship LLANDOVERY CASTLE
Alexandria and Smyrna.
Sea and Canal Area
There was no enemy activity in the Red Sea or Canal Area
number of merchant ships became casualties. S.S. JERSEY
was mined and sank in
Suez Bay; the damaged S.S. TURBO in tow to India for
repair broke in half and
foundered; the U.S.A. ship SUSAN LUCKENBACH was in
collision with NEA HELLAS
and was extensively damaged.
Partial repairs to H.M.S. VALIANT were completed
and she was sailed for Durban for final completion. QUEEN
ELIZABETH was docked
in her place, and the enemy then brought a fairly heavy
scale of attack to bear
on the harbour with QUEEN ELIZABETH as the main target. No
important damage was
done, though a number of bombs fell near to the floating
dock. Two dockyard
sheds on Mahmoudieh Quay were demolished and the trawlers
THORGRIM and SVANA
were sunk alongside.
H.R.H. the Duke of Gloucester visited ships and
at Alexandria and stayed with the Commander in Chief.
Between 100 and 300 dive and high
bombers with heavy fighter escort attacked the island
almost every day
throughout the month. Attacks were at first concentrated
on the dockyard and
aerodromes causing the loss of BRECONSHIRE and both the
merchant ships who were
unloading - KINGSTON, LANCE, three submarines, and nearly
all the small and
auxiliary craft in the harbour were also sunk; but
PENELOPE overcame all
attacks. She was docked for essential repairs and became
the main enemy target.
Her gunnery however, was so accurate and her ship's
company so determined that
she was made seaworthy despite many near misses, and reach
Gibraltar safely. The
dockyard was heavily damaged and all docks put out of
action. A/A gunfire and
fighters however took heavy toll of the enemy and by the
end of the month raids
were on a lighter scale and were being disperses
throughout the Island. The
people of Malta stood up to their ordeal with great
fortitude and were granted
the unique aware of the George Cross. The enemy continued
to lay mines off the
harbour and a serious situation was created by the loss of
all but two LL
sweepers and one Oropesa sweeper. HAVOCK was sailed from
Gibraltar on 5th April
but ran aground off Kelibia and had to be destroyed. Her
crew and passengers
totaling about 300 were interned.
Both flotillas continued to operate on the enemy supply
the Ionian Sea, the Gulf of Sirte, and west of Malta. The
previous high degree
of successful was well maintained. Especially noteworthy
patrols were carried
out by URGE who sank 6" cruiser BANDE NERE north of
Sicily; by THRASHER who
sank two good ships in difficult conditions in the Gulf of
Sirte; by TURBULENT
in the Adriatic; by TORBAY in the Taranto-Corfu area, and
by P 35 on the Tunis
These successes were not achieved without loss, for in
to PANDORA, P 36, and GLAUCOS sunk, and UNBEATEN and SOKOL
damaged in Malta
harbour, UPHOLDER was lost on patrol. UPHOLDER
by Lieutenant Commander Wanklyn, V.C., R.N. under whose
leadership she had won
a record of achievement and efficiency without parallel.
In order to compete with the situation in Malta,
kept dived in the harbour by day and special steps were
taken to rest
personnel. Ultimately, however, the Tenth Submarine
Flotilla had to be
withdrawn to Alexandria, the deciding factor being our
inability to compete
with the continued enemy minelaying. Consideration was
also given to the
withdrawal of the First Flotilla to reinforce the East
Fleet, but this
requirement did not materialize. Captain Ruck Keene
assumed command of the
First Submarine Flotilla in succession to Captain S.M.
Naval aircraft continue to operate from Malta and in
support of the army in the Western Desert. A torpedo
training school was formed at Shallufa (Suez) to train
In addition to one 6" cruiser sunk, a total of ten ships
29,000 tons were sunk and four ships of 16,300 tons
probably sunk or damaged by
submarines and aircraft.
The following ships joined the station
repairs in India
repairs at Simonstown
fitting asdics in India
LANGLAAGTE, South African LL minesweepers
611 and 612, on
passage to Turkey.
The follow ships left the station
final repairs at Durban
for United Kingdom for repair
for United Kingdom for refit, on
relief by COVENTRY
for United Kingdom
India to fit Asdics
O 23, was on passage to join the
39 (n.b. pen addition)
grounding on passage Malta –
and SVANA, air attacks on Alexandria
Beirut by submarine torpedo.
Malta air attacks
torpedo Western Desert
CASPIA, Submarine torpedo off
Egyptian KAWSAR, Bombs
off Port Said.
WAR DIARY –
1st May 1942
DULVERTON and HURWORTH arrived at Tobruk and sailed again
convoy T.A. 39 (fast) for Alexandria. An aircraft attacked
a U boat at 2113/1st
in position 32-35N, 24-40E and reported two hits with
There was an air raid at Port Said by about 15 aircraft
to 0530/1st May. S.S. THISTLEFORD was hit forward and the
Turkish ferry SILIVRI
and S.S. MARIKA PROTOPAPA were slightly damaged by near
misses. The Canal and
harbour were closed temporarily due to suspected mines.
One aircraft was shot
down and probably another.
COVENTRY arrived at Alexandria escorted by SIKH and
also arrived at Alexandria and joined the 5th Destroyer
Flotilla. H.H.M.S. PAUL
CONDOURIOTIS arrived on completion of her refit.
The Commander in Chief ordered white uniform to be worn by
Fleet and at Alexandria.
A meeting was held at Alexandria to decide the future
organisation of the port of Massawa. General Maxwell, head
of the U.S.N.A.M.
was present. It was decided that U.S.N.A.M. should be
responsible for the
A.F.D. and all repair work. The defence and control of the
port and the running
of the commercial port would remain a British
ALDENHAM arrived at Aden from the United Kingdom and was
The state of the Greek Navy was as follows:
East Indies Station requiring refit
OLGA, Fully efficient. 14th D.F. A/S fitted
fitted. At Alexandria
Unreliable. A/S fitted. Port Said refitting
A/S fitted. On
passage India to Port Sudan to refit
Awaiting refit at
Operating at Alexandria. A/S fitted
Paid off at Alexandria
At Port Said awaiting dock
At Port Said awaiting dock
At Alexandria in use
for A/S practices
On passage Alexandria to Malta with stores
ships of 401st M/S Group
skid towers at Beirut
crews for 4 HUNT class destroyers were in the U.K.
was intended shortly to (n.b. page
2nd May 1942
Desert – S.S. CALDERON sunk
A.T. 43 sailed from Alexandria escorted by DELPHINIUM,
PRIMULA, ERICA, and FALK
with HASTY and QUEEN OLGA as a striking force. At 2100/2
when 35 miles west of
Alexandria the convoy was attacked by aircraft. CALDERON
was hit by a bomb,
caught fire, and later sank. There were twenty casualties,
the crew being taken
off by COCKER and FALK before the fire took hold. CALDERON
was a newly
converted from a H.M. Store Carrier to carry cased petrol.
DULVERTON, HURWORTH, and Convoy T.A. 39 arrived at
Port Said and the Suez Canal were reopened to shipping.
Panamanian tanker OILSHIPPER was reported to be ready to
from Istanbul. The Commander in Chief ordered her to be
held for the present.
– Fairmile M.L.s
The Admiralty decided that the 27th M.L. Flotilla must be
allocated to west Africa since
the possibility of
passing them through the Mediterranean was too remote. The
remaining four M.L.s
of the Third M.L. Flotilla would wait at Gibraltar for an
opportunity to arise.
Air Attacks were continued but on a reduced scale.
The Commander in Chief approved the building of the
ammunition depot at Ghinda instead of Embatcalla
3rd May 1942
aircraft attacked a northbound convoy in the Lampedusa
during the night of 2/3rd and reported one possible
torpedo hit on a
6000 ton ship.
A U boat was probably sunk in an extensive hunt by
surface forces in the approaches to the Straits of
QUEEN OLGA was damaged in a collision with a submerged
0213/3 in position 31-10N, 28-50E and returned to
Alexandria on one shaft. BEAUFORT
was sailed from Alexandria and relieved her with convoy
Small incendiary bombs were found on board S.S. SANDOWN
Suez. The ship had previously caught fire while at Haifa
and sabotage was
suspected at that port.
P 42 reported a torpedo hit on an unescorted 4000
ton merchant ship in Gulf of Genoa on 24th April
4th May 1942
259 and 260 sailed from Tobruk to raid the enemy lighter
traffic to Derna during the night 3/4th. They failed to
reach Derna due to
engine trouble and returned to Tobruk. M.T.B.
259 was also
damaged by grounding while returning to harbour in thick
Convoy A.T. 43 arrived at Tobruk; HASTY and BEAUFORT were
for an A/S sweep west of Tobruk during the night 4/5th.
There was an air raid in Alexandria from 0350 to 0520 4th
about 16 aircraft. One was shot down
by fighters. The
A.A. barrage appeared to be effective since bombs were
mostly on a
two mile radius from the A.F.D.
Three bombs fell near the
A.F.D. and one caused minor damage in the dockyard.
conference was held at 201 Naval Cooperation Group to
methods of tactical cooperation between ships and
P 611 (ORUC REIS) sailed from Alexandria for transfer to
The flag of the Commander in Chief was transferred from
QUEEN ELIZABETH to H.M.S. MEDWAY.
M.L. 354 (Fairmile) was commissioned at Cairo.
The Greek Commander in Chief expected to have crews
two more HUNT class destroyers and two more corvettes by
July and August
respectively, and suggested taking over British ships in
the Mediterranean thus
releasing British crews. The Commander in Chief
represented to the Admiralty
his concern at any proposal to increase the proportion of
Greek manned ships in
the Fleet above 25% in any category.
5th May 1942
and BEAUFORT did not make contact with the enemy during
night 4/5th and sailed from Tobruk as striking force for
and MOY with DELPHINIUM, PRIMULA, ERICA, and FALK was
ALDENHAM arrived at Suez and was passed through the Canal
The Commander in Chief gave permission for OILSHIPPER to
from the Dardanelles.
The Italian repatriation ships VULCANIA and SATURNIA
Berbera. Arrangements were made to water them there and
fuel at Mombasa in
their return passage.
In view of the British intentions to attack, Madagascar,
precautionary arrangements were made for dealing with the
Squadron in an emergency.
Rear Admiral E. Cawadis took over the duties of Under
of the Royal Hellenic Navy. Rear Admiral A. Sakellariou
assumed the duties of
Rear Admiral Commanding the Royal Hellenic Navy in
succession to Admiral
A full examination of the machinery of the H.M.S. QUEEN
was still not possible. Both A and B boiler rooms would
require almost complete
rebuilding. It was hoped to complete temporary repairs for
seaworthiness by mid
July when both X and Y boiler rooms should be available
H.M. Tug TIENTSIN was commissioned for service at
6th May 1942
and AIREDALE sailed from Alexandria to provide escort for
empty ships from Tobruk.
Port Said was reopened without restriction.
Authorities in the Levant were again warned of the
human torpedo attack during the dark period.
In his signal timed 1426/2, the Commander in Chief had
most strongly at the absence of any form of pool for
merchant seaman in the
Middle East in spite of constant representations over the
past year. The
manning of ships in the Mediterranean had now become a
very serious difficulty.
The Director of Sea Transport agreed to the establishment
of a pool and took
action to send out nucleus personnel immediately.
7th May 1942
sighted a U boat on the surface at a range of seven miles
at 0840 in position 32-15N, 24-35E and hunted it with
AIREDALE. The U boat
dived and contact was not made. At 1300 a fighter aircraft
again sighted a U
boat in the vicinity of and by excellent cooperation led
the destroyers on to
it. After a two hour hunt in which the U boat was attacked
many times and
appeared to go deeper, two unexplained explosions were
hear and a body came to
the surface, but sank again. Much oil and bubbles were
also seen. The U boat
was considered probably sunk.
DULVERTON and AIREDALE then picked up their convoy off
sailed for Alexandria. BEAUFORT, HASTY, and convoy arrived
M.L. 130 failed to return from patrol off Malta during the
6/7th and was presumed lost with all hands. A spirited
engagement was seen at
0155/7 off the Grand Harbour in which both the enemy
(probably a minelaying E
boat) and M.L. 130 were seen to be
hit. The enemy
retired soon after and at 0300/7 an explosion, presumed to
be M.L. 130 was
seen. Some of the crew of M.L. 130 were
to have been taken prisoner.
A meeting was held in the Commander in Chief's officer at
Alexandria to decide the reorganisation of the Suez Canal
Area and Red Sea
Commands and the establishment of a Rear Admiral
An enemy convoy with cruiser and destroyer escort and
bound for Benghazi and for Tripoli, was sighted by
aircraft in the Ionian Sea. It
was shadowed throughout the day. A striking force of
Wellingtons and Beaufort
T/Bs aircraft was dispatched from Egypt to attack during
the night of 7/8th. A.S.V.
Wellingtons from Egypt were to relocate and shadow.
Submarines were disposed to
PROTEUS returned to Alexandria from patrol off Navarin and
Cephallonia area. On 2nd May in position 38-38N, 20-22E,
PROTEUS attacked a
southbound convoy and hit the leading ship with two
torpedoes. The ship was of
about 4000 tons and was later seen beached on Sesola Rock.
At 1545/5th in
position 37-38N, 21-20E, PROTEUS engaged a heavily laden 60
ton schooner and sank it by gunfire after
allowing the Greek crew to
abandon ship. The Greeks cheered loudly throughout the
8th May 1942
– Loss of OLYMPUS
Submarine OLYMPUS was mined shortly after leaving for
Gibraltar. There were only nine survivors. A large number
of passengers had
been embarked, mainly the crews from P 39 and P 36.
Force W sailed from Gibraltar during the night 7/8th
of the U.S. Carrier WASP, EAGLE, RENOWN (F.O. (W)), CHARYBDIS
with British and U.S.A. destroyer for Operation BOWERY to
reinforcements to Malta. WELSHMAN also sailed from
Gibraltar with stores for
Seven Wellingtons and Five Beauforts attempted to attack
enemy convoy during the night 7/8, but latter at dawn. Due
failure and failure of the A.S.V. aircraft, only on
Beaufort got in an attack,
apparently without result.
Convoy A.T. 44 sailed from Alexandria escorted by PRIMULA,
SNAPDRAGON, and COCKER with BEAUFORT and HURWORTH as a
The tanker OILSHIPPER entered the Aegean at 0415/8
H.M.S. GROVE arrived at Suez from the United Kingdom and
taken in hand in the Canal area for extensive turbine
GENERAL BIRDWOOD, the last ship of the 93rd M/S Group from
United Kingdom arrived at Aden and was sailed to join the
group at Massawa.
VALIANT was transferred to the Eastern Fleet.
9th May 1942
BOWERY was carried out successfully. Sixty
(n.b. pen correction 58) Spitfires
arrived at Malta during an air raid and were in action
almost at once. A heavy
air battle ensued in which thirty enemy aircraft were
destroyed and damaged for
the loss of three Spitfires.
General Dobbie was relieved as Governor of
Malta by General Lord Gort. The Commander in
Chief made the following
signal to General Dobbie:
the conclusion of your strenuous term of office as
Commander in Chief of Malta, I and all the Mediterranean
Fleet wish you
sincerely to offer our very best wishes and to express our
admiration at the
magnificent efforts put forth by Malta under your
distinguished leadership. Good
Force (W) turned back to Gibraltar after flying off
were indications of the possibility of a move into the
Mediterranean by the
French forces at Casablanca.
DULVERTON and AIREDALE returned to Alexandria with their
The building of a new bulk
storage at Tobruk to take 5600 tons was completed. The
Army considered it
important to fill this during the coming dark period. This
placed a severe
strain both on the Tobruk shipping space available and on
the convoy escorts,
particularly in view of increased army requirements.
The minesweeping of the Massawa south channel was reported
complete. The 93rd M/S Group would proceed shortly to
– Loss of
H.M.S. URGE (Lieutenant Commander E.P. Tomkinson, R.N.)
H.M.S. URGE was reported overdue to Alexandria since 6th
was considered lost. URGE was sailed from Malta on 27th
April for direct
passage to Alexandria; there was no information concerning
her loss. The loss
of this outstanding submarine and her Commanding Officer,
following on that of
UPHOLDER was a severe blow to the Mediterranean Fleet.
612 (n.b. pen correction P
611) was turned over to the Turkish Flag as ORUC
REIS at Iskanderun.
10th May 1942
arrived at Malta at 0525/10 and sailed again after dark
Gibraltar after unloading in seven hours. E boats
attempted to intercept her on
arrival off the Grand Harbour but were driven off and
repeatedly hit by BERYL
and TRUSTY STAR. WELSHMAN had been
examined by enemy aircraft
on the 9th, but assumed a French disguise and was not
The enemy attacked with about sixty bombers and many
were met for the first time with a superior fighter force,
an effective smoke
screen over the Grand Harbour and a highly concentrated
barrage. Forty five enemy
bombers and twenty one fighters were
destroyed and damaged for the loss of three Spitfires.
Some bombs fell near
WELSHMAN but damage was negligible.
Force W returned to Gibraltar and was dispersed. A report
sailing of JEAN BART from Casablanca was not confirmed by
Operation M.G. TWO
An enemy convoy with destroyer escort only was reported
from Taranto for Libya. JERVIS, JACKAL, KIPLING, and
LIVELY were sailed from
Alexandria at 2000/10 to intercept it about dawn on 12th
off Benghazi if they
could avoid being sighted on 11th. THRASHER and aircraft
were also to cooperate
in attacking during the night 11/12th.
The Hospital Ship RAMB IV was bombed and set on fire at
in position 31-17N, 29-33E while returning to Alexandria
fully loaded with
patients from Tobruk. The attack was by a single aircraft
flying at a great
height. The visibility was excellent. One bomb exploded in
the after hold and
caused an intense fire. The after
wards could not be
approached and about 150 men, mostly
lost. KIPLING, HASTY, and rescue craft were sent
from Alexandria. The
ship was got in tow, but the fire could not be controlled,
and at 1900, the
Commander in Chief ordered her to be sunk.
Convoy A.T. 44 arrived at Tobruk. The escorts returned
Repairs to the 8" Cruiser BOLZANO were reported to be
11th May 1942
M.G. TWO – loss of JACKAL, KIPLING, and LIVELY.
14's force was sighted by enemy aircraft and turned back
in accordance with orders. Enemy air attacks developed at
1600 and continued to
2000 in three waves of 8 – 12 JU 88s, with HE 111
shadowing. At 1645,
LIVELY was hit forward and sank at once in position
33-24N, 25-38E. At 2007
both KIPLING and JACKAL were hit in position 32-38N,
26-20E. KIPLING sank and
JACKAL was taken in tow by JERVIS. JACKAL was heavily on
fire and at 0455/12
she had to be sunk in position 32-33N, 26-25E. JERVIS
returned to Alexandria
with 630 officers and men from the three sunk
Captain of LIVELY and 75 others were lost.
The bombing attacks were exceptionally accurate and
HE 111 was destroyed and two HE 111 and at least 5 JU 88
damaged by the Beaufighter
escort. Beaufighters were with the force during both the
first and last
D 22 in SIKH with DULVERTON, AIREDALE, HASTY, and HURWORTH
sailed from Alexandria during the night 10/11th and joined
D 14 at daylight.
Tug C 308 was sunk by a mine at 0300/11
while returning to harbour from minesweeping operations.
There were no
survivors (n.b. pen correct 7 survivors).
The Vice Admiral, Malta pointed out that 12 mines had been
cut and two had sunk
ships in the last few days in the North East approach
channel to the Grand
Harbour. It was essential that at least two fleet
minesweepers should accompany
the next convoy and sweep it in.
Several U boats were sighted by aircraft on 11th and
night 11/12th operating along the coastal route.
APHIS was sailed from Alexandria to Mersa Matruh for
The details of the harbour defences completed at Aden to
against attack by human torpedoes and midget submarines
were reported in the
Naval Officer in Charge, Aden's signal times 2034/11.
The Schooner LARS RUSDAHL was commissioned an H.M. ship
fitted out for salvage work. It was intended to employ her
12th May 1942
arrived safely at Gibraltar.
Desert – U Boat
At 1336/12 a Blenheim aircraft attacked a U boat with four
in position 31-16N, 28-46E. Two hits were claimed and oil
and bubbles sighted. Fresh
oil was sighted in the same position at 1105/13. Another U
boat was sighted and
unsuccessfully attacked by aircraft at 1305/12 in position
M.T.B. 260 completed a sweep to the west of Derna during
night 11/12th without sighting the enemy and returned to
Low numbered A lighters were
recommence a shuttle service transporting bitumen from
Mersa Matruh to Sollum.
There was an air raid on Port Said during the night
minelaying was suspected and the port closed temporarily.
EXMOOR and CROOME arrived at Aden from Force H and were
from Alexandria to join the fleet.
13th May 1942
A.T. 45 sailed from Alexandria escorted by BEAUFORT,
SNAPDRAGON, ERICA, FALK, and KLO with DULVERTON and
HURWORTH as a striking
– Move NORMAL
PRINCESS MARGUERITE and MALINES escorted by Captain (D) 22
SIKH and HASTY sailed from Alexandria to transport troops
into and out of
Cyprus. 1250 troops were to be embarked in each serial.
Field Marshall Smuts visited the fleet at Alexandria. He
inspected South African ships in port and lunched with the
Commander in Chief.
14th May 1942
obtained a good A/S contact and attacked it in position
31-08N, 29-14E at 2350/13.
There was a minor air raid from 0250 to 0430/14th. It's
object was possibly diversionary. No important damage
was done. KINGSTON CRYSTAL attacked an A/S contact outside
the loops. This was
subsequently established as the U boat
a human torpedo attack the following night.
S.S. MOUNT OLYMPUS, S.S. HAV, and S.S. FRED were mined
1745 and 1830 in Port Said inner channel while being swept
into harbour. MOUNT
OLYMPUS sank and became a total loss. HAV and FRED were
beached; salvage of
both seemed possible.
AMBER and later other A/S vessels attacked a firm
contact at 1145/14 in position 31-24N, 32-29E.
PRINCESS MARGUERITE, MALINES, SIKH, and HASTY arrived in
embarked troops and landed them p.m. in Famagusta.
THORN returned to Alexandria from a 24
patrol in the Gulf of Sirte. THORN was moved several times
by order Captain
(S), First Submarine Flotilla, and in cooperation with
aircraft to intercept
enemy convoys, but only one interception resulted. A good
attack on a
southbound convoy was made at 1850/7 in position 34-34N,
17-59E, but all
15th May 1942
human torpedo attack on Alexandria harbour was attempted
the night 14/15th. The enemy failed to penetrate the
harbour defences. A
crossing on the eastern loop was detached at 2340/14. H.D.A.
near the harbour entrance was obtained at 0130
and 0140 and
were immediately depth charges. At 0600 two Italians were
captured at Mex
having scuttled their torpedo which blew up at 1030. Two
more Italians were
captured at 1000 on the wreck of CITY OF PITTSBURG. The
clothing of the third
pair was found near Fort Abba, the torpedo having been
scuttled in Anfouchy
Bay. There was no further evidence of the parent submarine
though patrols were
maintained inside the loops throughout the day.
Convoy A.T. 45 arrived at Tobruk. The escorts and striking
sailed again with T.A. 41, three empty store ships.
Mine sweeping was continued at Port Said without result.
was closed. A serious congestion was again arising in the
PRINCESS MARGUERITE, MALINES, SIKH, and HASTY transported
from Famagusta to Haifa.
OILPIONEER was reported aground at Ayas Mata Bay but was
refloated and proceeded.
The Greek Commander in Chief requested that the repair
HIPHAISTOS should remain at Port Sudan for another month
in order to assist
with the mobilization of Army recruits. IERAX was diverted
to Port Sudan to
complete boiler cleaning, having returned from fitting
asdics at Calcutta.
Consequent upon the congestion at Port Said there were 44
Suez of which 35 were in the Bay; more were due to arrive
the following day.
His Majesty the King of Greece paid a visit to the fleet
Alexandria and inspected Greek ships.
16th May 1942
and ALDENHAM and ANTWERP were sailed from Alexandria to
Tobruk for escort duty.
Port Said was reopened for limited periods and a small
ships swept out of harbour.
PRINCESS MARGUERITE, MALINES, and escort transported
Haifa to Famagusta.
OILSHIPPER arrived at Smyrna and was interned there.
VULCANIA sailed from Berbera having completed embarkation
proceeded on the return to
Italy via the Cape. DUILO and
GUILIO CESARE arrived at Berbera.
The Commander in Chief agreed to broadcast the times of
route, and speed of all hospital ships sailing in the
Mediterranean; in order
to avoid any possibility as in the case of RAMB IV of
unintentional; hospital ships would report their position
every six hours.
17th May 1942
boats were detected by R.D.F. off Malta at 0100/17. Their
movements were followed until well within range when at
0205 four boats were
illuminated and engaged by four batteries. The enemy
withdrew behind smoke. At
0235, an explosion was seen in their direction. At dawn
one boat was sighted
stopped off Marsa Sirocco, was engaged by coast defence
batteries and fighter
and sunk. Only two boats were detected returning after the
action and at least
two were considered sunk.
HURWORTH sighted a U boat on the surface at 2300/16 in
31-22N, 27-41E and attacked and hunted it with DULVERTON
and BEAUFORT. DULVERTON
and BEAUFORT rejoined convoy T.A. 41 at 0200. HURWORTH
till dawn. Nothing further was seen.
AIREDALE, ANTWERP, ALDENHAM, and KLO sailed from Tobruk
Alexandria escorting ADINDA.
EXMOOR and CROOME arrived at Port Said and were sailed to
Alexandria escorting R.F.A. CHANGTE, store ship exchanged
with RELIANT. The
port of Port Said was reopened and normal sailing resumed;
there was still an
acute congestion however due to lack of escorts.
PRINCESS MARGUERITE and MALINES escorted by SIKH and HASTY
arrived at Haifa on completion of Move NORMAL. HASTY was
taken in hand for
fourteen days refit at Haifa. HERO who had completed a
similar refit sailed
with MALINES and PRINCESS MARGUERITE to Alexandria, SIKH
remaining at Haifa.
SATURNIA sailed from Berbera on completion of embarkation
sailed to join VULCANIA.
18th May 1942
Officer, Red Sea and
Canal Area and Commodore, Aden
Red Sea and Suez Canal Area were combined into one command
Vice Admiral R.H.C. Hallifax, C.B., to be known as Flag
Officer, Red Sea and
Canal Area. Admiral Hallifax continued to fly his flag at
Suez with a Naval
Officer in Charge and reduced staff at Ismailia. Captain
C.A.A. Larcom, D.S.O.
was appointed Commodore in Charge, Aden, with the rank of
Commodore 2nd Class. Captain
E.S. Graham was appointed Naval Officer in Charge, Suez,
on relief by Captain
Seventeen Spitfires were flown from EAGLE to Malta. EAGLE
from Gibraltar p.m. 17th May with CHARYBDIS, ARGUS, and
was missed by torpedoes from a U boat at 0830/18. Aircraft
(n.b. pen note 17 Spitfires and 6 Albacores)
were flown off at 1930
but (n.b. pen note the 6 Albacores)
returned to EAGLE due to defects. The force was shadowed
by aircraft throughout
the afternoon and was unsuccessfully attacked by T/B
aircraft at 2200. A Catalina
reconnaissance aircraft was shot down by French fighters
near Algiers. Fulmars from ARGUS, and ITHURIEL,
were sent to rescue the Catalina
which was taken in tow, but was subsequently sunk
after a Fulmar had also been shot down by more fighters.
Convoy A.T. 46 consisting of the petrol and water carrier
and four other ships, sailed from Alexandria escorted by
HERO, SNAPDRAGON, FALK and COCK with DULVERTON and
HURWORTH was a striking
force. APHIS arrived at Tobruk having completed
SIKH sailed from Haifa and escorted three ships from Port
The Canal Area was extended to include the port of Suez.
Rear Admiral R.J.R.
his flag to CANOPUS and assumed duties of Rear Admiral,
(R.A.T.E.). He would also carry out the duties normally
performed by a
Commodore of Royal Naval Barracks.
insertion. Scott had relieved Vice Admiral Sir James M.
S.B.N.O.S.C.A. on 7 April 1942).
19th May 1942
Commander in Chief gave orders for the ports of Bardia and
Sollum to be opened with a skeleton naval base party for
the operation of small
craft. Commander R.L. Blackburn, D.S.O., was appointed
Naval Officer in Charge,
Bardia and Sollum.
ALDENHAM, AIREDALE, ANTWERP and ADINDA arrived at
The supply line and new petrol storage installations at
were completed and successfully tested.
Shortage of escorts was causing delay to Levant shipping.
Levant Escort Force consisted of COMMANDANT DOMINE, LA
MOQUESE, 10th Corvette
Group, 2nd Trawler Group, and 22nd A/S Group. Merchant
ships were being
escorted as follows:
MAID and M.L.
1038, Port Said to Alexandria
Said to Haifa
Beirut to Mersin
SEA, Beirut to Port Said
to Port Said and Haifa.
Haifa to Port Said and Alexandria.
ROMEO, HYACINTH, and COMMANDANT DOMINE were temporarily
of action with defects.
Special arrangements were brought into force for creating
screen over the harbour and particularly over the floating
dock during air
20th May 1942
Admiral Sir H.H. Harwood, K.C.B., O.B.E. hoisted his flag
QUEEN ELIZABETH and assumed command of the Mediterranean
Station in succession
to Admiral Pridham Wipple whose flag was struck in MEDWAY
An enemy northbound convoy of one merchant ship and three
destroyers was attacked by Wellington and Fleet Air Arm
T/B aircraft near
Tripoli during the night 19/20. Probable torpedo hits were
reported on the
merchant ship and one destroyer and bomb hits on a
Operation L.B. EAGLE,
ARGUS, CHARYBDIS, and destroyers returned to Gibraltar
during the night
BULLFINCH arrived at Alexandria and commenced work on the
of defective three H.D.A. cables. Work on Red Sea Cables
suspended to meet this urgent requirement.
P 612 was sailed from Alexandria to Iskaderun. The sailing
PORPOISE with stores from Alexandria to Malta was held up
on account of the
mine situation at Malta.
21st May 1942
was torpedoed by a U boat at 2128/20 in position 31-56N,
25-15E and sank at 0045/21. All the crew were
remainder of the convoy A.T. 44 (n.b. pen
correction A.T. 46) arrived at Tobruk.
escorts HERO, ERIDGE, DULVERTON, two corvettes, and two
trawlers sailed again with convoy T.A. 43.
The Greek S/M TRITON returned to Alexandria from a
cargo trip to Malta.
The Flag of the Commander in Chief was transferred from
ELIZABETH to MEDWAY.
22nd May 1942
ALDENHAM, and CROOME sailed from Alexandria for Tobruk.
were reports of enemy shipping and a possible landing by
the enemy in the area
west of Tobruk.
The Swedish Relief Ship STUREBORG was sailed from Haifa to
M.L. 348 was commissioned, having been built at Cairo.
The large Italian floating dock was refloated at Massawa
repairs estimated to take four months, were put in hand by
23rd May 1942
ALDENHAM, and CROOME arrived at Tobruk and sailed again
Alexandria with convoy T.A. 44. ERIDGE, DULVERTON, and
HERO and convoy T.A. 43
arrived at Alexandria.
M.T.B. 309 and 312 carried out a successful landing
Crete, working from Tobruk.
The Minister of State, Rt. Honourable Mr. R.G. Casey,
ships and establishments at Alexandria and lunched with
the Commander in Chief.
The Commander in Chief gave permission for hospital ships
resume sailings provided they broadcast their position
course and speed at six
The Commander in Chief ordered PORPOISE to be sailed from
Alexandria to Malta with stores.
Operations and Commanding Officer, Naval Air Service,
Captain L.E.H. Maund, C.B.E., assumed duty as from 16th
Naval Member of the Directorate of Combined Operations
with the acting rank of
Rear Admiral in succession to Rear Admiral Baillie
Grohman. He also assumed
operation control of H.M.S. SAUNDERS and all landing
craft. The Commanding
Officer of H.M.S. GREBE (Acting Captain C.L. Howe) took
over Captain Maund's
duties as Commanding Officer, Naval Air Service, Egypt.
24th May 1942
further landing operation by M.T.B.s was completed
EXMOOR and CROOME attacked a possible U boat in position
26-11E at 1006/24.
During the night 24/25th an enemy force was reported to
landed at Banias (near Tripoli) from a transport. M.T.B.s
from Famagusta and
Haifa and other available craft were dispatched to the
vicinity, but as no
confirmation was received of the report. It remained
possible that a small
landing had taken placed from a U boat. Steam was also
raised in the 15th C.S.
and available destroyers at Alexandria, but ships did not
The Admiralty proposed to withdraw COMMANDANT DOMINE and
MOQUEUSE from the Mediterranean. Commander in Chief
pointed out that this would
reduce still further the already inadequate Levant escort
force. Their presence
in Syrian ports was also very desirable.
Italian repatriation ships GUILO CESARE and DUILIO sailed
Berbera p.m. 24th for Italy via the Cape.
Captain C. Coppinger, D.S.C., R.N. assumed duty as Captain
Superintendent, Alexandria, in succession to Captain
H.M.S. TRAVELLER arrived at Gibraltar to join the First
Flotilla. She was retained to operate from there for the
25th May 1942
A.T. 47 was sailed from Alexandria escorted by DELPHINIUM,
ERICA, and KLO with ERIDGE, HURWORTH, and HERO as a
striking force. EXMOOR,
CROOME, and ALDENHAM and convoy T.A. 44 arrived at
A convoy of five D lighters proceeded under their own
power was sailed from Tobruk
for Mersa Matruh and Alexandria.
Aircraft from Malta and Egypt attacked a small southbound
135 miles north west of Benghazi during the night 24/25th
and reported possible
bomb and torpedo hits. TURBULENT sighted the convoy and
reported it to the
aircraft, but was unable to get in an attack.
The Yugoslav M.T.B.s DURMITOR and KAJMAKALAN returned to
Alexandria from Port Said on completion of their
conversion to M.A.S.B.
H.M.S. SEAHAM and BOSTON (Bangor class A/S minesweeper)
at Aden and were sailed to Alexandria. They were the first
ships of the 14th
M/S Flotilla on passage from United Kingdom to join the
P 612 was turned over to the Turkish Government at
26th May 1942
was increased enemy air activity in the Tobruk area, but
naval damage. There was also
indications of a general
land offensive by the enemy.
H.M. Drifter EDDY was mined and sunk off Valletta harbour
1630/26. There were eight casualties.
H.M.S. CENTURION arrived at Aden on passage from Bombay to
P 211 and P 43 arrived at Gibraltar to join the
Fleet. They were retained at Gibraltar for the present.
27th May 1942
0300/27, M.T.B. 309 and 312 attacked F Boats escorted by E
off Bomba. One F boat was damaged and possibly sunk. There
was no damage or
casualty in the M.T.B.s
At 2200/26 100 aircraft were reported west of Tobruk and
Naval Officer, Inshore Squadron brought into force
Operation MANUAL which was
intended to deal with possible raids or flanking movements
along the coast. The
report was not confirmed and the operation was cancelled.
Aircraft reported four hits on a U boat at 2307/26th in
32-29N, 24-49E. There were several more aircraft reports
of U boats in the
vicinity during the day.
The Commander in Chief brought Operation MANUAL into force
dark on further reports of enemy activity. The escort of
Convoy A.T. 47 was
placed under the orders of Senior Naval Officer, Inshore
Squadron, for patrols
in accordance with the operation order.
At 1115/27 ERIDGE detached HERO and HURWORTH from convoy
to hunt a U boat reported by aircraft in position 32-24N,
24-55E. Contact was
made at 1321 and the U boat was repeatedly attacked during
the day. ERIDGE
joined the hunt at 1750. By 2000 only one pattern of depth
charges in ERIDGE
remained between three ships. Contact was held throughout
the night and at 2353
the U boat surfaced but dived again when engaged by
gunfire. At 0330 the U boat
again surfaced in position 32-42N, 24-53E and at 0400
after final depth
charging by ERIDGE was scuttled and sunk in position
Forty two Germans were picked
H.M.S. BARFORD, Boom Defence Vessel, arrived at Aden and
ordered to proceed to Beirut.
28th May 1942
enemy land offensive materialized definitely in the form
assault against our positions round Tobruk.
Convoy T.A. 45 sailed from Tobruk at daylight escorted by
PRIMULA, and KLO. ERIDGE, HERO, and HURWORTH overtook the
refuelling at Tobruk. A convoy of four A
sailed from Alexandria to Mersa Matruh and Tobruk.
There were several minor T/B attacks on shipping in the
during 27th and 28th May.
The Greek destroyers AETOS and KONDOURIOTIS were sailed
Alexandria to join the Levant Escort Force in order to
release the Tenth
Corvette Group to return to Alexandria and reinforce the
Western Desert Escort
H.M.S. TETCOTT arrived at Aden from the United Kingdom to
the Fleet and was sailed to Alexandria.
The Free French Armed Trawler REINE des FLOTS also arrived
Aden and was ordered to proceed to Beirut.
THRASHER returned to Alexandria from patrol in the
0853/19 in position 41-01N, 17-16E a 3500 ton heavily
laden merchant ship
southbound, probably German, was intercepted and sunk by
torpedo. Several other
targets were sighted during the patrol but passed out of
range or could not be
attacked for other reasons.
29th May 1942
following patrols were established during the night
accordance with Operation MANUAL:
CROOME, between 28E and 29E and south of
1 M.L., 1
M.L.C., and 3 S.L.C. in
the Tobruk area
2 M.T.B.s standing
by at Tobruk.
HURWORTH off Sollum rejoining convoy T.A.
45 at Daylight 29th
M.L. 1046 off Mersa Matruh
Close A/S air
patrols round T.A. 45
An A.S.V. air patrol between
Tobruk and 25-30E.
searches in the Gulf of Bomba
AIREDALE and ALDENHAM were sailed from Alexandria at
act under the orders of Senior Naval Officer, Inshore
Squadron, for Operation
MANUAL. ERIDGE, HURWORTH, and HERO arrived at Alexandria
p.m. Five D lighters
arrived at Alexandria under their own power from Tobruk.
Aircraft reported a hit on a U boat at 1845/29 in position
During the night 28/29th enemy tanks were ported to be
to reach the coast in longitude 23-40E. M.L. 1069 was
reinforced by two M.T.B.s
and drove off two E boats in this area. It was possible
that this defeated an
enemy attempt to fuel tanks.
The Commander in Chief asked for an early air
Messina, Taranto, Navarin, and Suda Bay to establish the
whereabouts of the
Italian Fleet and whether any combined operation might be
Commodore C.A.A. Larcom assumed duty as Commodore in
CENTURION sailed from Aden to Suez on arrival from India.
grounded while leaving harbour but was successfully
M.L. 353 was commissioned on completion of building at
60 and M.T.B. 73 were commissioned at Port Said.
30th May 1942
were carried out nightly. The A lighter force in the
Desert was strengthened. All available D lighters were
withdrawn westward for
loading into ships of convoy M.W. 11.
T.A. 45 arrived At Alexandria
Minesweeping tug ST ANGELO was mined and sunk off the
Harbour at 1416/30.
In order to run a convoy to Malta reinforcements from the
Fleet were detached to the Mediterranean. The first group
arrived at Aden
was sailed at once to Suez.
Sea – Fourteenth
POOLE arrived at Aden and was taken in hand for repairs.
arrived on 29th and was sailed to Alexandria.
31st May 1942
were no important developments in the situation.
Aircraft reported a hit on a U boat at 1800/31 in position
Owing to pressure of Admiralty work, the maintenance of
Company dredging plant had been neglected. The Canal
Company had placed a limit
of 30 ft. on ships passing the wreck of AGHIOS GEORGIOS
and 32 feet for entered
Port Said roads. Both these depths could be exceeded on
but only up to 34 feet. Steps were taken to bring Canal
Company craft into
action and give the Port Said dredging craft into action
and give the Port Said
dredging plant priority over all other work in order to
have a 41 ft. channel
as soon was possible. This was estimated to take a year.
Temporary repairs to H.M.S. QUEEN ELIZABETH were
satisfactorily but would not complete before the end of
OF EVENTS FOR May, 1942
major naval operations took place in the Western
during the month, which was mainly devoted to the normal
convoy duties, attacks
on enemy supply routes, and preparations for running the
next convoy to Malta.
and Suez Canal
Early in the month there was an air raid on Port Said in
one ship was damaged and two ships slightly damaged. Mines
were dropped in the
inner channel causing damage to three ships.
At Alexandria there was one air raid by about sixteen
which no damage was done to the dockyard, most of the
bombs falling wide of the
target area. In the middle of the month, there was an
unsuccessful attack on
the harbour by human torpedoes. Three abandoned craft were
found, the crews of
which were eventually rounded up.
Normal convoys to Tobruk continued during which a good
deal of U
boat activity was encountered and a certain amount of air
activity. The ports
of Bardia and Sollum were opened up for the operation of
small craft and raids
on Derna shipping were carried out by M.T.B.s.
Towards the end of the month, there were indications of a
land offensive by the enemy which materialized on the 28th
in the form of an
assault against our positions round Tobruk. Special
patrols were instituted to
deal with possible raids or flanking movements along the
Normal convoys were continued which entailed extra escorts
provided as there was a good deal of U Boat activity
throughout the month. An
operation in connection with the change of garrison in
Cyprus was successfully
Salvage work at Massawa progressed favourably and the
Italian floating dock was refloated. Two Italian
repatriation ships sailed from
Berbera for Italy via the Cape and reinforcements from the
Eastern Fleet for
running a convoy to Malta arrived.
Sixty Spitfires were flown into the
Island from U.S. carrier WASP and a further seventeen from
transporting stores WELSHMAN was attacked unsuccessfully
by E boats off the
Grand Harbour. Air attacks were on a reduced scale except
for one attack by
about sixty bombers escorted by many fighters, but due to
our superior fighter
force, effective smoke screen, and highly concentrated
barrage, 45 bombers and
21 fighters were destroyed for the loss of three Spitfires
and damage to (n.b. page chopped)
One night E boats were detected by R.D.F., four were
and engaged by shore batteries, at least two are
Some mining took placed in the approach channel
which caused several casualties.
Every effort was made by submarines and
aircraft to attack the enemy supply routes to Libya and
against one convoy four
destroyers were despatched to intercept. Our naval force
was sighted by
aircraft on the first day out and turned back in
accordance with their orders. They
were subjected to exceptionally heavy, accurate, and
determined air attacks
which resulted in three destroyers being sunk. The fourth,
(D 22), returned to
Alexandria with 630 survivors.
Submarines continued their successful offensive against
enemy supply routes. Two were unfortunately lost, OLYMPUS
being mined off
Malta, and URGE failed to arrive when on passage from
Malta to Alexandria.
P 611 and P 612 were turned over to the Turks as ORUC REIS
MURAT REIS, respectively. (n.b.
entry enlarged to show Turkish names on transfer).
on the Station
from U.K. via the Cape
GENERAL BIRDWOOD arrived at Aden
CROOME arrived from U.K. via the Cape
SEAHAM arrived from U.K. via the Cape
Vessel BARFORD arrived Aden
from U.K. via the Cape
armed trawler REINE DES FLOTS arrived.
NORMAN, NIZAM, and FORTUNE joined from Eastern Fleet.
WHITEHAVEN arrived from U.K. via the Cape
bombed and sunk on Tobruk run.
sunk off Malta
on passage from Malta to Alexandria
and JACKAL bombed and sunk.
RAMB IV bombed, set on fire, and had to be sunk
mined and sunk off Malta
torpedoed and sunk by U boat on Tobruk run
mined and sunk off Malta
ANGELO mined and sunk off Malta.
WAR DIARY –
1st June 1942
was made available for night bombardment if especially
required by the Army during offensive operations but was
not called upon.
PEONY, ERICA, GLOXINIA, and COCKER were sailed from
being back empty store ships from Tobruk.
BOSTON and SEAHAM of the Fourteenth M/S Flotilla arrived
The torpedo school at Alexandria was commissioned as an
independent command with the name of H.M.S. PHAROS.
The second group of Eastern Fleet reinforcements arrived
and was sailed to Suez. It consisted of:
was given in principle to the establishment of a large
Defence reserve storage at Aden.
2nd June 1942
twice attacked a U boat and reported one depth charge hit
in each attack: the first at 0345/2 in position 31-56N,
25-27E (penned note: Swordfish of 815 Squadron)
and the second at 0700/2 in position 32-07N, 25-33E (penned
note: Blenheim of RAF 203 Squadron). At 1050/2
reconnaissance aircraft reported two U boats together in
25-10E. One did not submerge and was apparently damaged
and transferring stores
to the other. It was probably that it had been damaged in
the aircraft attack
and was scuttled. (penned
note: U 652 badly damaged by British bombs and scuttled
by torpedoes from U
Convoy T.A. 47, the
five knot ship KATIE
MOLLER, escorted by GLOXINIA and COCKER sailed from
T/B aircraft from Malta attacked a 7000
merchant ship off Marsala and reported two hits.
Sea – Operation
The final group of reinforcements, ARETHUSA, HERMIONE, and
JAVELIN arrived at Aden and were sailed to Suez. ARETHUSA
and JAVELIN were to
join the Fleet. HERMIONE would return to United Kingdom
for refit in completion
of the operation.
to GROVE could not be completed without the despatch of a
new L.P. Turbine from the United Kingdom. The Commander in
Chief decided that
she should operate on one shaft on restricted escort duty
pending the arrival
of the turbine.
M.L. 349 was commissioned at Cairo.
The damaged S.S. FRED, mined off Port Said on 13th May,
raised and brought into harbour.
3rd June 1942
operation was carried out in which 27 Spitfires were flown
EAGLE into Malta. Four others were shot down on passage.
Convoy A.T. 48 of six ships escorted by DULVERTON,
DELPHINIUM, PRIMULA, and SNAPDRAGON and FALK sailed from
Alexandria p.m. 3rd.
Convoy T.A. 46, three empty ships, escorted by AIREDALE,
ALDENHAM, PEONY, and ERICA sailed from Tobruk for
Enemy "F" boats were sighted approaching Derna from the
Area – Operation VIGOROUS
Diesel Launch 3972 was renamed H.M.S. ST ANGELO consequent
loss of tug ST ANGELO.
4th June 1942
Desert – Loss
of H.M.S. COCKER
was torpedoed by a U boat and sank at 0101/4 in position
032-06N, 24-12E (n.b. pen and ink
correction to 23-12E). The Commanding Officer and
fifteen were picked up by
rescue craft sent from Tobruk. GLOXINIA returned to Tobruk
with KATIE MOLLER. COCKER
had a splendid record and had done great service both in
the Inshore Squadron
and as KOS 19, during the campaigns of Greece and Crete.
Naval Albacores attacked shipping in Derna harbour during
night 3rd/4th. Results were uncertain.
Convoy T.A. 46 was attacked by a U boat at 1530 but the
force did not make contact effectively.
H.M.S. JANUS was damaged by a mine
exploded in her wake at 1724/4 in position 31-15.5N,
29-44E. It was hoped to
repair her in about three weeks.
A 6000 ton merchant ship
three destroyers and making for Benghazi was detached
during the night 3rd/4th
and attacked in position 34-40N, 21-08E by T/B
Wellingtons. It was again
attacked at dawn in position 34-10N, 21-00E by T/B
Beaufort. Hits were reported
in both attacks. The ship was not again sighted and was
considered to have
TURBULENT returned to Alexandria from a most successful
the Gulf of Sirte: a U boat, a destroyer,
three merchant ships all bound for Benghazi and a schooner
(a). On 14th
May a 500 ton schooner carrying fuel or ammunition was
attacked with gunfire and destroyed off Ras el Hilal.
(b). At 0210/18 three northbound
merchant ships in convoy were
attacked in position 32-47N, 18-51E. Two
hits were seen on the rear 4000 ton
ship which sank.
2310/28 to 0409/29 a southbound convoy of two heavily
sized ships was attacked. A
salvo of four torpedoes were fired and three hit.
merchant ships were hit and sank. One
torpedo circled over the top of TURBULENT and then hit and
sank a destroyer.
1300/2 while returning to Alexandria TURBULENT sighted and
attacked a German U boat in position 32-48N, 25-12E. A
salvo of five torpedoes missed. Two more were
fired, both of which hit. The U boat was not seen or heard
again and was considered sunk.
5th June 1942
sighted a U boat at 2359/4 in position 31-26N, 28-26E and
attacked it without apparent success. A U boat was also
reported off Alexandria
during the night and attacked by patrol craft. PEONY and
Convoy TA 46 was
unsuccessfully attacked by U boats during the night and
again at dawn and
arrived safely at Alexandria. The striking force again
failed to make contact
with the U boat.
Convoy AT 48 arrived at Tobruk. DULVERTON and HURWORTH
sailed direct to Alexandria.
The newly fitted Salvage Schooner LARS RUSDAHL was sailed
Alexandria to Tobruk.
"A" lighters continued to transport stores between Mersa
Area, Operation VIGOROUS
The remained of the reinforcements arrived at Suez during
and night 5th/6th:
destroyers under D 7
PAKENHAM and NORMAN were passed through the Canal and
Alexandria for repairs. GROVE sailed in company from Port
M.T.B. s 315 and 316 were commissioned at Suez. M.L. 352
commissioned on 4th June at Cairo.
ZULU returned to Alexandria on completion of two months
at the Canal Area.
6th June 1942
torpedoes were fired into Tobruk Harbour by a U boat at
0130/6. All three exploded in the boom. Damage to the boom
was repairable; no
other damage was done.
Area – Operation
BIRMINGHAM, ARETHUSA, NIZAM, FORTUNE, and GRIFFIN were
through the canal and sailed in company to Alexandria.
JERVIS and KELVIN were
sailed from Alexandria to provide additional escort.
arrived at Alexandria to join the Fourteenth M/S
Flotilla. She was not at present fit for active operations
due to machinery
ex-Belgian Boom working vessels GRAAF VAN VLANDEREN and
DE LIEGE arrived at Aden to join the Station, and were
sailed to the Canal Area
and Alexandria, respectively.
Tenth Submarine Flotilla (four ships) was sailed from
to take up positions for Operation VIGOROUS. The Greek
submarines TRITON and
PAPANICOLIS also sailed from Alexandria for patrol in the
Aegean and a special
operation in Crete connected with VIGOROUS.
7th June 1942
was a comparative lull in the fighting on land while
GLOXINIA attacked a U boat off Tobruk during the night
but without apparent success.
An enemy force of two 6" cruisers and three destroyers was
reported by air reconnaissance to have moved to Cagliari.
ERIDGE and BEAUFORT were sailed from Alexandria to provide
for HERMIONE who was passed through the Canal and sailed
p.m. for Alexandria.
8th June 1942
TA 47, three empty ships sailed from Tobruk at daylight
escorted by DELPHINIUM, GLOXINIA, PRIMULA, SNAPDRAGON, and
There was evidence of five U boats working on the Western
Tobruk harbour was unsuccessfully bombed during the night
7th/8th. One JU.88 was shot down.
M.T.B. 309 and 312 patrolled in the vicinity of 32-26N,
during the night 7th/8th to investigate an air report of F
boats unloading. A
small ship, possibly an F boat was seen close inshore and
torpedo, but results were uncertain.
The small Egyptian steamer SAID was sunk by gunfire from a
at 0630/8th fifteen miles south west of Jaffa. The
majority of the crew were
WOLBOROUGH was holed by a U boat
did not explode at 1355/8th while escorting ATHENE from
Port Said to
Alexandria. TETCOTT was sent to her assistance, and
escorted her to Alexandria.
NEWCASTLE, NAPIER, JAVELIN, and NESTOR were passed through
canal and sailed to Alexandria. (The
Diary listed two paragraphs as 6.)
The fast tanker BULKOIL arrived at Suez. She was required
Malta convoy, but was fully loaded with aviation spirit
and fuel oil.
9th June 1942
AT 49 of five store ships including R.F.A. BRAMBLELEAF and
the petrol carrier ATHENE was sailed from Alexandria
escorted by GROVE,
TETCOTT, PEONY, HYACINTH, and KLO. GROVE was operating on
one shaft only and
both destroyers were new to the station. No other escort
was available however,
on account of the forthcoming operation.
Convoy TA 47 and escort arrived at Alexandria p.m.
A U boat was sunk by aircraft depth charges in the
Palestinian schooner ESTHER was sunk by a U boat 0030/0
Saida. The Senior Naval Officer, Levant Area ordered all
schooner traffic to be
suspended until further orders. The Commander in Chief
ordered CITY OF PRETORIA
to be held at Beirut until destroyer escort was available.
HOTSPUR, having been
passed through the Canal and CONDOURIOTIS were ordered to
proceed from Port
Said and Alexandria respectively for this duty.
It was not possible to reinforce the Levant escort force
present; the Commander in Chief ordered fast ships to be
routed evasively between
ports making night passages while slow ships were to
continue to coast crawl.
The Rear Admiral Commanding, Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron
conference of all Flag and Commanding Officers concerned
in Operation VIGOROUS.
On its completion, NESTOR, NORMAN, NIZAM, and AIREDALE
were sailed from
Alexandria escorting PRINCESS MARGUERITE and S.S. BHUTAN
to Port Said.
Spitfires from EAGLE (Operation SALIENT) arrived.
10th June 1942
AT 49 was attacked by one or possibly two U
boats during the night of 9th/10th. The cased
petrol ship HAVRE was
torpedoed and sank at 0330/10th in position 31-10N,
28-36E. BRAMBLELEAF and
ATHENE were both torpedoed at 0600/10th in position
31-12N, 28-10E. ATHENE
caught fire, had to be abandoned and finally sank two days
was got in tow of tugs from Alexandria and Mersa Matruh
and finally arrived at
Alexandria a.m. 11th, escorted by PEONY and two M.L.s. She
was drawing 45 feet
and unable to enter harbour until salvage had been carried
Aircraft from Malta reported one northbound and one
convoy off Cape Bon during the night 9th/10th and
estimated one bomb hit on a
minesweeper of the northbound convoy.
The minesweeping tug TRUSTY STAR was mined and sank off
Harbour. M.L. 126 was slightly damaged when attacked by
fighters but down shot
one ME 109.
The Senior Naval Officer, Levant Area suspended all
sailings north of Haifa on account of U boat activity.
The main convoys were assembling at Port Said and Haifa.
Liaison Officers and personnel to take passage arrived in
to join their ships at Port Said. PRINCESS MARGUERITE was
sailed on to Haifa
p.m. with the remainder escorted by NESTOR, NORMAN, NIZAM,
and INCONSTANT, the
last having passed through the Canal during the day.
COVENTRY, DULVERTON, and
HURWORTH sailed from Alexandria to Port Said
commanding officers to attend the convoy conference.
ALDENHAM, and CROOME sailed from Alexandria at dark to
join COVENTRY at Port
Said a.m. 11th
The Victoria Cross was awarded to Lieutenant Roberts and
Officer Gould for gallantry in disposing of bombs from the
casing of H.M.S.
THRASHER on patrol in March 1942.
11th June 1942
was intended to run a convoy of CENTURION and ten merchant
from the Eastern Mediterranean and another convoy
(HARPOON) of four ships from
Gibraltar into Malta simultaneously. Submarines were
disposed in the Ionian Sea
and south east of Sardinia to intercept striking forces.
reconnaissance and T/B striking forces were arranged.
The Senior Officer, Force "T" sailed from Gibraltar in
with MALAYA, EAGLE, ARGUS, LIVERPOOL, CHARYBDIS, CAIRO,
escorting HARPOON convoy.
A diversionary convoy MW 11 C consisting of CITY OF
BHUTAN, REMBRANDT, and AAGTEKIRK sailed from Port Said
escorted by COVENTRY,
DULVERTON, HURWORTH, ERIDGE, BEAUFORT, AIREDALE, ALDENHAM,
NAPIER (D 7) sailed from Alexandria to join the Seventh
Flotilla at Haifa. KELVIN and ZULU sailed from Alexandria
to Port Said to provide escort
Aircraft carried out several attacks on U boats but
Following intense enemy attacks on Bir Hacheim during the
week, the Free French Brigade
was withdrawn. A further full scale
enemy offensive to the East and North then
12th June 1942
Desert – Loss
of H.M.S. GROVE
two remaining ships of convoy AT 49 arrived at Tobruk
night of 11th/12th. TETCOTT and GROVE turned back direct
to Alexandria. At
0205/12th, GROVE grounded off Ras Azzaz. She was refloated
at once but was
reduced to 8 knots. At 0655/12th in position 032-05N,
025-30E, GROVE was
torpedoed by a U boat and sank at 0710. The U boat was not
Commanding Officer and eighty of the crew were picked up
by TETCOTT who
proceeded to Alexandria and arrived there p.m.
Convoy M.W. 11C was joined by EXMOOR off Alexandria and
to the westward.
Convoy M.W. 11 A consisting of CITY OF LINCOLN, CITY OF
EDINBURGH, AJAX, ELIZABETH BAKKE, and CITY OF PRETORIA
with PRINCESS MARGUERITE
in company, sailed from Haifa escorted by NAPIER, NORMAN,
INCONSTANT, and HOTSPUR.
Convoy M.W. 11 B consisting of BULKOIL and POTARO sailed
Said p.m. escorted by PAKENHAM, FORTUNE, and PALADIN to
join M.W. 11A at
daylight 13th. PAKENHAM and FORTUNE sailed from Alexandria
at daylight to join
CENTURION having been fitted with 13 Oerlikon guns and
with 1000 tons of stores was passed through the Canal and
sailed from Port Said
to Alexandria escorted by KELVIN and ZULU.
Sir A.B. Cunningham,
G.C.B., D.S.O., Bt
Admiral Sir A.B. Cunningham, G.C.B., D.S.O. was created a
Baronet. In reply to congratulations from the Commander in
Cunningham sent the following message to the Fleet:
you so much for your message. I regard this honour as
having been given me as a tribute to the work of the
Officers and men of the Mediterranean Fleet and as such it
was accepted. Please convoy to them all my thanks and good
13th June 1942
11C turned back eastward after dark 12th and joined M.W.
and B in the vicinity of Alexandria on 13th. The Hunts
escorting the convoy
were sent into Alexandria to fuel. CITY OF CALCUTTA was
damaged by a near miss
at 2100/12 while still proceeding westward and was
escorted into Tobruk by
EXMOOR and CROOME. M.T.B.s were in tow of the four rear
merchant ships, but had
to be slipped and sent in to Tobruk on account of the
weather. M.T.B. 259 was
damaged and sunk.
ELIZABETH BAKKE was unable to maintain the necessary speed
was detached from M.W. 11 A into Alexandria. CENTURION
joined H.W. 11
a from Alexandria, having
Captain (D), Fourteenth Destroyer Flotilla in JERVIS, with
and JAVELIN (14th Destroyer Flotilla), SIKH, ZULU, HERO,
and HASTY (22nd
Destroyer Flotilla), ANTWERP and MALINES sailed from
Alexandria a.m. to relived
the Eastern Fleet destroyers as escort for M.W. 11. The
destroyers then proceeded to Alexandria to fuel.
DELPHINIUM, ERICA, PRIMULA,
and SNAPDRAGON also joined the escort from Alexandria.
At 1730 Rear Admiral Commanding, Fifteenth Cruiser
sailed from Alexandria in CLEOPATRA with DIDO, HERMIONE,
(Rear Admiral Commanding, Fourth Cruiser Squadron),
BIRMINGHAM, and ARETHUSA,
and the following destroyers: NAPIER (Captain (D), Seventh
Senior Officer (Destroyers), NIZAM, NORMAN, NESTOR,
PAKENHAM (Captain (D),
Twelfth Destroyer Flotilla), PALADIN, INCONSTANT, FORTUNE,
DULVERTON (Senior Officer, Fifth Destroyer Flotilla),
BEAUFORT, AIREDALE, ALDENHAM, and TETCOTT.
of Cretan Aerodromes
In support of Operation VIGOROUS a series of
sabotage operations were carried out by small parties
landed from the Greek
Submarines TRITON and PAPANICOLIS and from M.T.B.'s
during the preceding week.
Heraklion, Maleme, Tymbaki, and Kastelli Pediada were
attacked. The attack on
Maleme by Captain Lord Jellicoe and four Free Frenchmen
landed from TRITON was
a notable success. Although delayed until the night
13th/14th, some twenty
aircraft being destroyed. A total of not less than 28
aircraft, six lorries,
12,500 gallons of petrol and 400 bombs were destroyed in
these sources. (n.b. pen
not confirmed from enemy sources).
Schooner FAROUK was sunk by U boat gunfire at 1150/13th,
position 034-19N, 035-33E. FAROUK was specially fitted for
A/S activity, but
was shelled at a considerable distance and blew up when
hit by the fourth
14th June 1942
Admiral Commanding, Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron's forces
EXMOOR and CROOME from Tobruk joined COVENTRY and the
convoy M.W. 11 at
daylight. S.S. AAGTEKERK was unable to make the speed and
was detached to
Tobruk with TETCOTT and PRIMULA. She
was later attacked by
aircraft, set on fire, grounded near Tobruk, becoming a
total loss. BOSTON
and SEAHAM of the 14th M/S Group (A/S-M/S) joined the
convoy from Tobruk having
been sent ahead there to fuel. ERICA was detached to Mersa
Matruh during night
13th/14th with defects.
The convoy and escort were heavily bombed in the afternoon
evening. S.S. BHUTAN was hit and sank. S.S. POTARO was
damaged but was able to
continue. Her crew and passengers rescued by ANTWERP and
MALINES who were
detached to Tobruk.
Two enemy forces including two Battleships and four
reported leaving Taranto at 1845.
HARPOON convoy and escort (Force X) were detached at dark,
and Force T returning to Gibraltar. WELSHMAN proceeded
ahead at high speed to
Malta. LIVERPOOL was torpedoed by aircraft in a dusk
attack and was taken in
tow by WESTCOTT. Two enemy cruisers and destroyers were
seen leaving Palermo at
dusk. SPEEDY sank a U boat p.m. 14th in position 037-39N,
The army withdrew further eastward but it was hoped to
operating aircraft from Gambut aerodrome which was
essential to the success of
Operation VIGOROUS. The personnel ships PRINCESS
MARGUERITE and PRINCESS
KATHLEEN were brought to short notice for evacuation, but
were not required by
15th June 1942
Commander in Chief ordered the convoy to turn back at 0145
order to enable a T/B attack to be launched on the enemy
contact could be made. During the night 14th/15th the
convoy was constantly
illuminated by aircraft flares and was attacked by E Boats
and U Boats. NEWCASTLE was hit
forward by an E boat torpedo at 0300, her speed
reduced to 24 knots and her forward turret put out of
action. HASTY was
torpedoed by a U Boat at 0525 and later sunk by our own
forces. HOTSPUR rescued
her crew of which only 12 were lost.
At 0630 the convoy turned west again, but was turned back
when the enemy was only 100 miles to the West and T/B
attacks had not
developed. At 1115 BEAUFORT T/B striking force reported
hits on the 2 Littorio
battleships, and the Commander in Chief ordered the convoy
to turn westward,
but the enemy continued South-eastward,
reduced in speed. The Rear Admiral Commanding Fifteenth
therefore, maintained his course to the Eastward.
Heavy bombing at Ju.88 and 87 throughout the day, and the
attacks were made at dusk. CENTURION and BIRMINGHAM were
damaged, but were able
to continue. AIREDALE was hit and later sunk by our
forces; casualties were
slight. NESTOR was also hit and immobilized and taken in
tow by JAVELIN with
ERIDGE and BEAUFORT escorting.
By 1630 the enemy had turned Northward and the Commander
again ordered a turn to the Westward if in any way
possible. Shortage of fuel
and ammunition, however, did not permit this, and the Rear
15th Cruiser Squadron was instructed to return to
Alexandria with his whole
Submarines intercepted the enemy Battlefleet, but a
air attack caused the enemy to alter course and attacks
could not be pressed
home. The 8" cruiser TRENTO was damaged by air attack, and
later sunk by P.35
while making Northward. P.35
also reported one torpedo
hit on a Littorio Battleship.
Meanwhile convoy HARPOON was heavily engaged from daylight
Pantellaria by 2 6" Cruisers and three 3 destroyers,
and by aircraft. CAIRO and destroyers held off this force
successfully but 2
merchantmen were damaged by bombs and had
to be sunk. BEDOUIN
and PARTRIDGE were damaged. BEDOUIN was later torpedoed by
aircraft and sunk
after being taken in tow by PARTRIDGE. PARTRIDGE was
reduced to 12 knots and
was ordered to make for Gibraltar. The remaining 2
merchant ships reached Malta
after dark but HEBE, MATCHLESS, BADSWORTH, Polish
destroyer KUJAWAIK and S.S.
ORARI were mined while the convoy was being swept into
destroyer KUJAWAIK was sunk, but the other ships reached
harbour. CAIRO and the
rest of the escort entered harbour, being too late to make
westward. WELSHMAN arrived safely at dawn. (n.b.
page chopped – bottom line missing) unloaded
in the day, and put to sea again to assist the convoy. The
enemy cruisers were
attacked during the day by T/B aircraft from Malta and
hits were reported, but
their speed was apparently unaffected.
The Army situation in the Tobruk Area continued to be
of Tobruk town was re-commenced. The discharge of cargo
16th June 1942
was torpedoed by a U boat and sank in about 7 minutes at
EXMOOR, BEAUFORT, and ALDENHAM rescued some 400 of her
crew. Efforts to tow
NESTOR had to be abandoned at 0530 and she was sunk by
JAVELIN who rejoined
C.S. 15 with her escort.
Several attacks on U boat contacts and sightings
carried out by the convoy escort at 1330, but
there was no evidence
At 1900 the Rear Admiral Commanding 15th Cruiser Squadron
returned to Alexandria with the 15th Cruiser Squadron, the
Squadron, H.M.S. COVENTRY, the 14th, 22nd, and 7th
Destroyer Flotillas, H.M.S.
HOTSPUR, H.M.S. PALADIN and 5th Destroyer Flotilla,
BOSTON, SEAHAM, DELPHINIUM,
and SNAPDRAGON. The Captain (D) 12th Destroyer Flotilla in
GRIFFIN, FORTUNE, and INCONSTANT were detached to escort
BULKOIL and AJAX to
Port Said. CENTURION and the 5 remaining merchant ships
entered Alexandria. CENTURION
was too deep to enter harbour, owing to damage, and was
anchored outside the
CAIRO, WELSHMAN, MARNE, ITHURIEL, BLANKNEY, and MIDDLETON
sailed from Malta westward at dark. The minesweeping
Drifter JUSTIFIED was
mined and sunk off the Grand Harbour.
Submarines were recalled, the 1st and 10th Flotillas to
Alexandria and the 8th Flotilla to Gibraltar.
During the operation, 20 enemy aircraft were shot down by
gunfire, by the Fleet, and a large number in the
Preparations were made for demolition of Tobruk and for
withdrawing unnecessary ships, in view of the
deterioration of the military
situation. TETCOTT and PRIMULA escorted CITY OF CALCUTTA
back to Alexandria
The Greek repair ship HIPHAISTOS and the destroyers IERAX
SPETSAI refitting from her were moved from Port Sudan to
following German units were believed to be operating in
Greek destroyer KING GEORGE
– 19 F Boats
U boats plus 6 refitting
17th June 1942
EAGLE, ARGUS, LIVERPOOL and other ships concerned in
including PARTRIDGE arrived at Gibraltar.
The damage to ships of the fleet was as follows:
24 officers and 416
10 officers and
170 ratings saved.
9 officers and 124 ratings saved.
and 229 ratings saved.
Considerable damage forward but
capable of an ocean passage and a speed of 24 knots in
good weather. No casualties.
damage to 2 guns and various minor splinter damage.
. Minor splinter
below water by one hit and
several near misses.
CALCUTTA and POTARO damaged by near misses but
hit by at least one torpedo and both hit by bombs
cruisers damage uncertain as a result of heavy air
attacks west of Malta.
and 3 Cavours were seen to be back at Taranto, p.m.
The following signal was made by the Admiralty
to the Senior Officer Force T, the Flag Officer
Commanding, North Atlantic, the
Vice Admiral Malta, and the Commander in Chief,
you will convey their Lordships' congratulations to the
officers and men of all British and Allied warships and
merchant ships whose joint effort have once more made so
valuable a contribution to the maintenance of the island
fortress of Malta. The courage and tenacity displayed by
all under most trying conditions is worthy of highest
traditions of the sea."
Convoy T.A. 49, including all the cargo ships at Tobruk
TONELINE, was sailed during the night 16th/17th, escorted
by ANTWERP, MALINES, PEONY, ERICA, and GLOXINIA. TETCOTT
joined the escort from
Alexandria. Some 1500 Army labour corps and docks group
and all unnecessary
naval personnel were embarked in the merchant ships.
convoy of A Lighters backloaded with surplus Army stores,
MONANCE and APHIS was sailed to Mersa Matruh.
The Belgian boom vessels GRAF VAN VLANDEREN and PRINCE DE
arrived at Suez for work in the former in Canal ports and
the latter at Alexandria.
18th June 1942
and Force Z arrived at Gibraltar.
The Italian liners SATURNIA and VULCANIA arrived at
with personnel from (n.b. in text as for;
corrected by pen) Eritrea and were sailed to
S.S. AAGTEKIRK was reported to be still on fire near
to be a total loss. Shelling of Tobruk had ceased. Light
craft continued to
provide patrols working from Tobruk. "A" lighters were
being unloaded at Sollum
with especially urgent army stores. Bardia harbour was
cleared of all our
forces to enable the harbour to be mined.
GRIFFIN, FORTUNE, HOTSPUR, and INCONSTANT were sailed from
Said to Alexandria.
Stocks of Oerlikon ammunition were practically exhausted;
Commander in Chief ordered expenditure to be reduced to
The Vice Admiral, Malta, reported that MATCHLESS would
days in dock to be made seaworthy. HEBE and BADSWORTH
would each require 3
weeks in dock for temporary repairs. It is hoped that S.S.
ORARI would be fit
for passed by the end of June.
19th June 1942
situation at Tobruk remained quiet. 201 Naval Cooperation
completed the mining of Bardia harbour with cucumbers
during the night
18th/19th. It was decided not to carry out demolition
owing to shortage of
material. TETCOTT and MALINES (with convoy T.A. 49)
attacked a U boat during
the night 18th/19th without apparent success. The Naval
Officer in Charge,
Sollum, reported that 6 A lighters and one small ship
could be unloaded if
required. An A lighter shuttle service was commenced
between Tobruk and Mersa
The Vice Admiral, Malta, reported that by 1200/19th 6,500
cargo had been unloaded from ORARI and 4,800 tons from
TROILUS. It was hoped to
complete both ships p.m. 20th.
NEWCASTLE was considered fit for ocean passage, and was
escorted by FORTUNE and GRIFFIN to transit the canal and
proceed to Kilindini. The
other Eastern Fleet units remained at Alexandria for the
ERIDGE, BEAUFORT, ALDENHAM, and CROOME were sailed in
with NEWCASTLE and proceeded
to Haifa. GLOXINIA and
HYACINTH were sailed to Haifa independently. The 4 Hunts
and 2 Corvettes were
placed under the orders of the Senior Naval Officer,
Levant Area, as a striking
force to operate in the Levant Area.
20th June 1942
Desert – The
Fall of Tobruk
the forenoon a strong force of German tanks, closely
supported by infantry, broke through the perimeter
defences in the southeast. By
1830 enemy tanks were in a position to shell the harbour.
Heavy air attacks on
gun positions and shipping in the port had taken place
throughout the day. Complete
lack of knowledge of the land situation by the local Army
Commanders and the
Senior Naval Officer, Inshore Squadron, had unfortunate
results. As a
consequence, Naval demolitions were incompletely carried
out and some small
craft were unable to be got away in time. The initiative
and resource of M.T.B.
260, who, by laying a smoke screen, enable the withdrawal
of many small craft
under continuous shellfire to be carried out. A number of
small craft were lost
and some only slightly damaged could not be got away. "A"
lighters 119 and 150
and M.L.'s 1039 and 1069 with about twenty
craft were left in Tobruk Harbour. Naval casualties were
not high; the Senior
Naval Officer, Inshore Squadron (Captain P.N. Walter,
D.S.O., R.N.) and the Naval
Officer in Charge, Tobruk (Captain F.M. Smith, C.B.E.,
D.S.O., R.D., R.N.R.)
were both in Navy House when it was
surrounded by German
tanks. Their fate is unknown. (n.b.
Walter and Smith were taken P.O.W., but D.O.W. that
night). H.M.S. ABERDALE was one of the last ships to
leave and evacuated
over a hundred military personnel.
All accounts from individual officers and small craft show
that a high standard of seamanship
and resourcefulness was attained by
TAKU returned to Alexandria and reported that on 31st May
position 33-34N, 18-30E, she torpedoed one 7000
southbound merchant ship. Heavy explosions followed and
the ship almost
The Greek submarines PAPANICOLIS and TRITON also returned,
former sank six and the latter three caiques.
A new agreement between Admiral Harwood and Vice Admiral
was signed today. The main difference from the former
agreement was (a) should
the port of Alexandria be menaced by hostile action a
movement of the French
Fleet by special agreement may
take place; (b)
provision for relief of personnel provided Admiral Godfroy
21st June 1942
craft on passage from Tobruk to the eastward
were attacked by E boats in the early hours of
the morning. South
African minesweeper PARKTOWN was sunk and the Tug C.307 in
tow of her was badly
damaged. Several A.L.C.s and S.L.C.s
were destroyed by E
boats. Magnetic minelaying was carried out off
Tobruk harbour during the
The Naval Officer in Charge, Sollum, reported arrangements
demolitions completed. The Army Tug VIVIAN managed to
escape from Tobruk with
three soldiers and arrived safely at Mersa Matruh.
Two enemy merchant ships were hit and left on fire 60
north of Cape Bon by Beauforts operating from Malta.
22nd June 1942
Naval Officer in Charge, Bardia after withdrawal took over
port of Sollum. Increased enemy activity was reported
between Bardia and
Capuzzo. Preparations for demolition at Sollum was
reported complete and the
army had prepared to withdraw.
arrived Alexandria from patrol in the Central
On 30th May in position 31-51N, 19-26E she torpedoed a
heavily laden southbound
merchant ship of 2500 tons. On the following day she
torpedoed and sank a
southbound merchant ship of 6000 tons.
23rd June 1942
in Sollum harbour are reported completed and harbour
"A" Lighters began evacuation of surplus stores from Mersa
Matruh. Tugs were also sent up to Mersa Matruh to tow out
the Army waterboats
After Fall of Tobruk
Schooners KHEIR EL DINE and ESKIMO NELL
schooner LARS RISDAHL
Lighters 119 and 150
1039 and 1069
were in addition numerous S.L.C's, A.L.C.'s, and some
Lighters in all about twenty four,
which were lost in Tobruk Harbour and on
passage to Mersa Matruh.
During the night 22nd/23rd June, Wellington torpedo
claimed one hit on a large Merchant
Vessel 33 miles
due east of Palermo.
Beauforts attacked a convoy of four destroyers and two
Vessels off Cape Spartivento. One destroyer and two
merchant ships were hit and
all three left stationary.
COVENTRY escorted by SIKH and ZULU was sailed from
Suez to implement the A.A. defences to shipping in Suez
24th June 1942
enemy launched his attack on our frontier positions. Our
commenced withdrawal from the Sollum and Capuzzo areas
towards Sidi Barrani.
Offensive patrols by M.L.'s and M.T.B.'s were maintained
westward of the harbour and acted as escorts to A lighters
and tugs on passage
PEONY was transferred to the Greek Navy and renamed
25th June 1942
enemy had now reached a point some thirty miles to the
Mersa Matruh. The majority of craft not required were
being sailed from the
port. Coast defence guns were removed by sea.
APHIS returned from Mersa Matruh since Eighth Army had no
immediate bombardment requirements for her.
PRINCESS MARGUERITE escorted by EXMOOR and TETCOTT
900 R.A.F. personnel for Cyprus and returned with reliefs
returned to Alexandria after a store
carrying trip to Malta and Operation VIGOROUS.
26th June 1942
MATCH was brought into force to prevent a possible landing
by the enemy in the vicinity of Mersa Matruh. It consisted
of two destroyers at
short notice anchored outside Alexandria harbour ready to
act on air reports. The
Eighth Army asked that Mersa Matruh should be closed down
as a port by
midnight. All craft except those loading were sailed and
there were no loner
any A.A. or coast defences. Naval Officer in Charge, Mersa
Matruh with a
demolitions party and essential W/T personnel still
remained. By the end of the
day the enemy were closing on the Mersa Matruh position
and the harbour
received some shelling.
THORN returned from an uneventful patrol in the Gulf of
and Operation VIGOROUS.
Owing to the situation of the A.A. guns from Tripoli and a
proportion from Beirut were withdrawn for the defence of
27th June 1942
change at Mersa Matruh.
Time permitted the
Naval Officer in Charge to sail his remaining craft,
R boat was retained. M.T.B.'s operating from
patrols to the west of Mersa Matruh. By the end of the day
the enemy had
brought up large forces south of Mersa Matruh.
A meeting was held at Navy House to discuss this
orderly retirement of the Fleet to Port Said and Haifa, at
which all Flag
Officers and certain other authorities in the port
QUEEN ELIZABETH was successfully undocked at noon and
1800 from Alexandria for Port Sudan. She had been
temporarily repaired after
less than three months in the floating dock. The final
stage of repairs to
allow the ship to be undocked was completed in a greatly
reduced time, all
efforts being concentrated upon her.
P.35 arrived Alexandria from a patrol in the Ionian Sea
Operation VIGOROUS. At 0646 15th June she estimated one
hit on a LITTORIO class
battleship. Several hours later she torpedoed and sank a
TRENTO class cruiser
which was stopped and on fire after attack by our air
The four repatriation liners had now reached Italian ports
Berbera via the Cape. There were no incidents during
28th June 1942
at Mersa Matruh were blown during the day, and W/T
closed down 2003. The Naval Officer in Charge Mersa Matruh
finally left at 2145
in an R boat. Naval demolitions were successfully carried
out and all harbour
facilities were destroyed; no floating craft or pontoons
were left in the
harbour. All water installations were destroyed or
As result of the possible use by the enemy of Mersa Matruh
landing grounds and resultant heavy air attack on
Alexandria, the Commander in
Chief decided to sail non-essential merchant shipping and
warships south of the
WOOLWICH and RESOURCE sailed for Port Sudan escorted by
JAVELIN, ERIDGE, BEAUFORT, EXMOOR, and ALDENHAM as far as
Renewed submarine activity off the Palestine coast
1505 28th June, two cased petrol carriers ZEALAND and
MEMAS (Greek) were
torpedoed and sunk. They were bound from Port Said to
P 34 returned to Alexandria from patrol and Operation
which she probably sank a German U boat on 24th June in
29th June 1942
enemy was now well east of Mersa Matruh and our troops
withdrawing under heavy pressure. The Naval Officer in
Charge, Mersa Matruh,
arrived at Alexandria with his demolition staff in an R
During the early hours mines were dropped between the
entrance and the vicinity of the Passes. There were none
in the swept channel. The
Egyptian tug PHAROS was mined and sank at 2045 whilst
towing the Hospital Ship
SOMERSETSHIRE clear of the harbour. She was just outside
the swept channel. This
tug had a long and arduous career for many years in
Alexandria harbour. MEDWAY
and CORINTHIA, escorted by DIDO, SIKH, ZULU, and HERO
sailed for Haifa; they
were later joined by EXMOOR, ALDENHAM, CROOME, and TETCOTT
from Port Said.
The Flag of the Commander in Chief was transferred to
Gabbari preparations were begun for the transfer of the
Administrative Staff to
Port Said and the Operational Staff to a combined
headquarters at Villa Laurens
near 201 Naval Cooperation Group.
A 117 was sent to Gabbari steps to embark office furniture
records for Port Said.
interception ceased during the
of Chief of Intelligence Staff and staff to Ismailia.
The demolition of Alexandria Harbour, Stage Two was
force. Depth Charges and explosives were dumped but not
placed in positions in
order that our intentions should be disclosed to the
GLENROY, R.F.A. BRAMBLELEAF, and two merchant ships were
earmarked as blockships; these ships were chosen
they were all immobilized due to damage.
The removal of unnecessary merchant shipping began; owing
escorts some were sailed unescorted.
30th June 1942
Eighth Army had withdrawn on to the El Alamein defensive
Naval Liaison Officer, Eighth Army, returned from
Headquarters, and reported
the situation to the Commander in Chief. He reported that
sea bombardments were
now of little use due to dispersion and distance from
coast. Twelve hours
notice of any requirements would be given. Bombardment
forces of two cruisers
and destroyers were formed and sailed to Port Said and
Haifa. C.S. 15 in CLEOPATRA
and EURYALUS and destroyers formed Force B at Haifa; Rear
Mediterranean in DIDO with the ARETHUSA formed Force A at
Minor air activity in the Alexandria area. One land mine
dropped on Dekheila aerodrome and two aircraft being
The Commander in Chief and Operational Staff were
Villa Laurens, until recently occupied by the Torpedo
Training School, H.M.S.
PHAROS. The Operations Room and a few officers were
accommodated in 201 Naval
Cooperation Group Headquarters. This move to establish a
at 201 Naval Cooperation Group had long been contemplated.
The Commander in Chief's Administrative Staff left by rail
Port Said to set up officers in the Marina Savoy Hotel.
Early in the day the military situation had somewhat
and all staff at PHAROS were
at short notice to move
again. All secret documents and papers not considered
essential were destroyed
to reduce baggage to a minimum.
All ships at Alexandria raised steam and the evacuation of
shipping was ordered. This was relaxed to a certain extent
by the end of the
day as the military situation showed some improvement.
W.R.N.S. and official women were evacuated by train to
where they were embarked in S.S. PRINCESS KATHLEEN who was
sailed for Suez.
As much shipping as possible was ordered south of the
Naval and Royal Marine personnel were used to assist the
to man the Alexandria defences.
Operation HORNBLOWER, State Three was ordered. All hands
proceeded to their stations for demolitions.
in Alexandria Dockyard
The loading of merchant ships with naval, victualling,
gunmounting, and armament stores took place throughout the
day. Eight merchant
ships were retained for the purpose.
Owing to the speed with which Operation DISCRETION (N) was
brought into force, and Heads of Departments, due to
security requirements, not
having made the preparations beforehand, there was some
dislocation in the
Dockyard. Deliberate alarmist reports put out by fifth
to the loss of many valuable stores by theft and looting.
rapid departure of many ratings and the staffs of some
Departments, left buildings
unguarded for a short period. In addition, many
stores were taken on
board minesweepers and small craft for eventual passage to
Port Said; the
majority of these were later recovered.
of H.M.S. MEDWAY
At 0925 MEDWAY was struck in
room by three torpedoes and sank in thirteen minutes. 1105
picked up by ZULU and HERO and taken into Haifa and Port
Said respectively. DIDO
continued to Haifa with SIKH, EXMOOR, ALDENHAM, CROOME,
and WESTCOTT. MEDWAY
had onboard between 80 and 90 torpedoes. 47 of these were
later recovered by
ALDENHAM and small craft. About thirty ratings were lost;
there were no officer
The British S.S. AIRCREST in convoy from Port
Said to Haifa was struck by torpedo aircraft. She
sank off the coast in
position 31-50N, 34-39E with masts and funnel above water.
the end of the month our submarines were disposed as
THORN, OTUS, P 31, P 34, on passage
Alexandria to Haifa.
PROTEUS, PORPOISE, P 35, and UNA, refitting and resting
on patrol off Cyrenaican Coast
on passage through Mediterranean to Haifa
TURBULENT and THRASHER, on Benghazi
Brindisi supply routes.
AND APPRECIATION OF EVENTS
FOR June 1942
first half of June was concerned with the preparations for
the passage of a convoy to Malta. This was followed by a
rapid deterioration of
the military situation leading to the evacuation of
Tobruk, Bardia, Sollum, and
Mersa Matruh. By the end of the month the Fleet and the
non essential shipping had left
Alexandria. With the enemy
in occupation of Daba airfields it was apparent he could
deliver heavy bombing
attacks on the harbour with strong fighter escort.
Eastern Fleet units, consisting of CENTURION, four
nine destroyers were lent for the Malta convoy. All
available submarines from
the east and west were sailed to cover the passage of the
convoy. The convoy
from the west, of four ships, and that from the east of
ten ships, and
CENTURION was sailed simultaneously. Air attack on the
Eastern convoy was heavy
throughout, that losses were not higher is tribute to the
high standard of
gunnery in the Fleet and the fighter protection whenever
Italian Fleet units consisting of two Littorios, two 8"
two 6" cruisers, and a heavy destroyer screen was sighted
leaving Taranto to
intercept the convoy. The Rear Admiral Commanding
Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron
and his force were turned back to await the result of air
attack by torpedo
bombers and Liberators. Initial reports showed this to be
successful and the
convoy resumed its course for Malta. Subsequent
reconnaissance showed the
Italian Fleet apparently undamaged and closing the convoy
at high speed. The
convoy was again ordered to turn to the eastward, and when
the Italian Fleet
did finally retire towards Taranto, the Rear Admiral
Commanding Fifteen Cruiser
Squadron and his force had insufficient fuel and
ammunition to continue towards
Malta. Air attack had been particularly heavy up to now;
two destroyers were
seriously damaged and had to be sunk
by our own
forces, BIRMINGHAM and CENTURION were both damaged, but
their speeds were
unimpaired. During night attacks by U boats and E boats
HERMIONE and HASTY were
sunk and NEWCASTLE was torpedoed but was able to proceed
at 24 knots. On the
credit side; the 8" cruiser
TRENTO was sunk by air and
submarine attack and one of the LITTORIO's was damaged.
The western convoy, after an engagement between CAIRO and
destroyers with two 6" cruisers in the Pantelleria
Straits, succeeded in
getting two ships into Malta. Two destroyers were sunk and
torpedoed and managed to return to Gibraltar.
On completion of this operation the majority of the
units returned to their Station.
Air attacks were not on a heavy scale during the month,
cargo from the convoy was successfully unloaded (n.b.
bottom of page chopped) of six Fleet minesweepers
and six motor
launches with the convoy considerably eased the difficult
task of clearing the
minefields. One operation for Spitfire reinforcements was
carried out during
the month. The Dockyard was able to undertake temporary
repairs to destroyers
and small craft. One dock was in use.
Canal Area, and
With the enemy's rapid advance in the Western Desert, it
imperative that repairs to H.M.S. QUEEN ELIZABETH in the
floating dock should
be accelerated. By the end of the month, she was south of
the Canal. RESOURCE,
WOOLWICH, MEDWAY, and also H.H.M.S MAINE were all sailed
from Alexandria. The
enemy made several small scale
mining raids on the
harbour. Casualties were JANUS,
who put up an acoustic mine in her wake, an Egyptian tug
who strayed from the
swept channel and was sunk. There were no air raids in the
Canal Area or Suez. H.R.H.
The Duke of Gloucester visited the Canal Area at the
beginning of the month.
A large quantity of shipping arrived and left for Suez
month without a single casualty. With the Axis advance,
COVENTRY was stationed
at Suez for A.A. defence, and two of the Eastern Fleet
destroyers were retained
for this purpose.
The quick docking of merchant ships at Massawa progressed
satisfactorily. The German merchant ship LIEBENFELS which
had been sunk was
raised. The lack of sufficient trained personnel was a
limiting factor in
salvage operations at Massawa.
Enemy U boat activity between Tobruk and Alexandria
high. Our losses included a Hunt class destroyer, one
whaler, and two cased
petrol carriers. Several promising attacks on U boats were
carried out but no
actual "killings" can be recorded.
That our naval losses were not higher at Tobruk was mainly
attributable to fine seamanship displayed by the M.T.B.'s.
difficult period when our Libyan and Egyptian ports were
in turn all evacuated
all our small craft were continuously on escort duties.
"A" lighters supplied
the Army with bitumen and vital stores till the last
possible moment. Though
the naval demolitions at Tobruk were incomplete, the
mining and destruction of
port facilities at the remainder were all well carried
Submarine activity was noticeable at the beginning and end
month. Three schooners, one freighter, and two cased
petrol carriers were sunk,
in addition to MEDWAY. Insufficient escorts were available
to maintain convoys
and evasive routing for fast ships was carried out; slower
ships continued to
keep close to the coast. An operation for relief of R.A.F.
personnel in Cyprus
took place without incident.
With nearly all submarines having to cover the passage of
Malta convoy, time left for offensive patrols was small.
However, three ships
totaling 13,800 tons were definitely sunk. Aircraft
accounted for another two
of 14,300 tons.
One submarine patrol is very worthy of special mention.
by TURBULENT who returned early in the month. An Italian
schooner with fuel or
ammunition was destroyed by gunfire off Ras el Hilal. One
merchant ship in a
northbound convoy and two in a southbound convoy were
torpedoed and sunk. TURBULENT
also sank on destroyer and a German U Boat during this
The Greek submarines landed sabotage parties in Crete in
of the Malta convoy and carried out offensive patrols in
The following ship were sunk during the month:
by U boat
damaged by air attack and sunk by own forces
damaged by air attack and sunk
by own forces.
DINE by tank fire in Tobruk Harbour
by tank fire in Tobruk Harbour
150 by tank fire and air attack in
and 1069 by tank fire and air attack in