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ADMIRALTY WAR DIARIES of WORLD WAR 2

 

MEDITERRANEAN FLEET - July to September 1942

 

Transcribed by Don Kindell

HMS Coventry, AA cruiser, bombed and sunk 14th September 1942 during Operation Agreement  (Photo Ships, click to enlarge)

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Mediterranean Fleet, September 1939 to March 1942

 

 

 

 
 

Areas of Operations (click to enlarge). Only some locations in text are shown

 

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MEDITERRANEAN WAR DIARY – July 1942

 

 

Wednesday, 1st July 1942

 

Western Desert

 

The enemy launched a general attack on our El Alamein position. The Royal Air Force carried out heavy attacks on advancing motor transport throughout the day. Liberators bombed the harbour installations at Tobruk.

 

Alexandria

 

2. Ammunition in the port area was reduced to nine days notice for evacuation.

 

French Fleet

 

3. As a result of the German advance in Egypt, the movement of French ships from Alexandria became a question of some urgency.

 

Air Raids

 

4. During the night Alexandria was raided by a few aircraft. Some bombs were dropped but no naval damage was caused.

 

Operation HORNBLOWER

 

5. Stage three was reverted to four hours' notice.

 

Operation DISCRETION (N)

 

6. All staff at 201 Naval Cooperation Group and Villa Laurens remained at short notice to move, and gear was packed into lorries. The Ministry of War Transport, Middle East, and the Principal Sea Transport Officer, (Egypt)'s offices in Alexandria were closed down, being transferred to Suez.

 

Levant

 

7. The cased petrol carrier MARILYSE MOLLER was torpedoed and sunk by U boat at 1445 on 1st July in position 31-22N, 33-44E whilst on passage from Port Said to Haifa. The Senior Naval Officer, Levant Area was informed that delays occasioned by going into convoys could not at present be accepted. Escorted sailings were to continue and risks must be accepted to keep shipping on the move.

 

Eastern Fleet Ships

 

8. NEWCASTLE returned to Aden being unable to proceed to Kilindini without sustaining further damage forward.

 

Canal Area

 

9. The Hospital ship MAINE, which had been sailed from Alexandria arrived at Ismailia.

 

H.M.S. PROMETHEUS

 

10. PROMETHEUS was commissioned today as a nominal depot ship for patrol service personnel, in the Mediterranean under command of Captain T.G. Harrison, Royal Navy.

 

 

Thursday, 2nd July 1942

 

Western Desert

 

Heavy fighting continued all day with no appreciable gains being made by the enemy. By the end of the day the situation was considered satisfactory, the enemy making a slight withdrawal westward.

 

2. Aircraft laid mines off Tobruk and Menelao (near Bomba).

 

Operation DISCRETION (N)

 

3. The Commander in Chief's Operational Staff transferred to Ismailia being established in Navy House. A few officers went by air, but remaining joining by road in convoy under the direction of the G.S.O. (Lieutenant Colonel Mosely). All arrived by nightfall without incident. The Chief of Intelligence Staff and Staff also reached Ismailia. Accommodation in Ismailia was very limited and the resourcefulness of the Naval Officer in Charge in finding accommodation for all was appreciated. The decision to establish the Commander in Chief's Operational Staff at Ismailia was taken due to the efficient communications at Ismailia, and the facilities for close touch with General Headquarters, Cairo, and H.M. Ships at Port Said.

 

4. 201 Naval Cooperation Group less an operational staff moved to Abu Sweir about 12 miles from Ismailia. Staff Officer (Intelligence), Mediterranean, and Staff Officer (Intelligence), Alexandria, were established at Port Said. JAVELIN reached Port Said with the Commander in Chief's officer records of a most secret nature.

 

Submarines

 

5. The Captain (S), First Submarine Flotilla, completed a preliminary survey of Haifa and Beirut with a view to establishment of a submarine base. For the time being, Haifa was decided as suitable.

 

Central Mediterranean

 

6. Torpedo Wellingtons from Malta hit and probably sank one 8000 ton merchant vessel in a convoy 8 miles south of Mayonna Island.

 

Aden

 

7. Rear Admiral Commanding, Fourth Cruiser Squadron transferred his flag to BIRMINGHAM, leaving the same day with HOTSPUR, INCONSTANT, NIZAM, and NORMAN for Kilindini.

 

French Fleet

 

8. Admiral Harwood had an interview with Vice Admiral Godfroy regarding movement of his ships; the latter refused any move without orders from Vichy which he felt sure would not be given. Vice Admiral Godfroy made a counter proposal that Force X should move to Bizerta; this was refused. The deadlock was reported to the Admiralty and a suggestion was made that the inter- (n.b. page chopped. Remaining line (s) are missing.)

 

 

Friday, 3rd July 1942

 

Western Desert

 

Fierce fighting continued and the enemy's two main thrusts were held. Royal Air Force air support reached its peak effort of the Middle East War when 155 bomb and 524 sorties were made in twenty four hours.

 

Air Raids

 

2. The Canal Area was raided by eighteen aircraft, mines being dropped chiefly in the Lower Section of the Canal.

 

Operation DISCRETION (N)

 

3. ANTWERP and MALINES brought R.A.F. personnel from 201 Naval Cooperation Group, disembarked them at Port Said, being unable to proceed to Ismailia owing to mining.

 

Levant

 

4. SIKH was taken in hand for repairs at Haifa after minor damage had been caused by a near mine explosion when leaving Alexandria.

 

French Fleet

 

5. Two further interviews between Admiral Harwood and Vice Admiral Godfroy without any results. The President of the U.S.A. offered asylum in a North or South American port, and finally Martinique. None of these suggestions yielded anything. Thus the situation remained as being with the recent agreement still in force.

 

Forces A and B

 

6. Force A based on Port Said:

 

 DIDO, EURYALUS, JERVIS, JAVELIN, EXMOOR, and ALDENHAM

 

Force B based on Haifa:

 

 CLEOPATRA (C.S. 15), ARETHUSA, SIKH, ZULU, HERO, CROOME, and TETCOTT.

 

Alexandria Escort Force

 

7. A force of four HUNTS were based on Alexandria consisting of:

 

 DULVERTON, HURWORTH, ERIDGE, and BEAUFORT.

 

 

Saturday, 4th July 1942

 

Western Desert

 

Our forces continued to exert pressure to the South and East of the El Alamein positions. During the day 600 German prisoners of war were taken and 18 tanks destroyed.

 

Air Raids

 

2. Sixteen aircraft carried out a minelaying raid in the Canal Area and Suez Bay with slight diversionary bombing at Port Said. There was no naval damage. The Canal was closed to shipping.

 

Red Sea

 

3. H.M. Ships RESOURCE and WOOLWICH arrived at Port Sudan. Berthing accommodation in the port was extremely restricted especially with the large numbers of merchant ships unloading. There were no Defence patrols and arrangements were made to send two H.D.M.L.'s.

 

Levant

 

4. Captain (S), First Submarine Flotilla, reported that a full reconnaissance at Beirut had been completed and that it was suitable for use as a submarine base.

 

 

Sunday, 5th July 1942

 

Western Desert

 

At the end of the day the enemy had retired behind an anti tank screen south and southwest of El Alamein defended position. It was apparent that he had been forced to rest and reorganize his forces. Our forces continued to attack but were held.

 

Air Raids

 

2. About 35 aircraft raided the Alexandria and Port Said areas. Three aircraft in the Canal Area and two in the Alexandria area were shot down.

 

Submarines

 

3. Vice Admiral, Malta considered that the scale of mining and air attacks had sufficiently decreased to allow the Tenth Submarine Flotilla to return with acceptable risks in the circumstances.

 

THRASHER arrived at Haifa from Operation VIGOROUS and patrol in the Central Mediterranean. At 0133/23 June, torpedoed and sank one 2500 ton merchant vessel in escorted eastbound convoy in position 31-58N, 16-36E. At 1144 on 29th June, sank with torpedoes a 3000 ton southbound auxiliary in position 33-21N, 23-20E.

 

Miscellaneous

 

4. ALDENHAM and A.S.I.S. CID assisted by small craft recovered 47 torpedoes (without warheads) from the wreckage of MEDWAY in the vicinity of Port Said swept channel.

 

 

Monday, 6th July 1942

 

Western Desert

 

The R.A.F. kept up their almost non-stop offensive on the enemy's motor transport and particularly landing grounds.

 

Alexandria – Operation MATCH

 

2. DULVERTON and HURWORTH were kept at immediate notice throughout the night in the outer anchorage to act on air reports. It appeared likely that the enemy would attempt to supply his forward troops with water.

 

Air Raids

 

3. During the night a minelaying raid was carried out on Suez Bay by four aircraft. The only casualty was one waterboat.

 

Levant

 

4. The Norwegian S.S. HERO was torpedoed and sunk by U boat at 0600, 6th July in position 32-23N, 34-35E. Ship was being escorted by GLOXINIA, PROTEA, and SOUTHERN MAID from Haifa to Port Said. KONDOURITIS and LA MOQUESE and later, CROOME and TETCOTT carried out an A/S search for U boat, but did not achieve success.

 

 

Tuesday, 7th July 1942

 

Western Desert

 

No change in the land situation; considerable movement of the enemy's transport was apparent throughout the day.

 

Alexandria – Operation MATCH

 

2. ERIDGE and BEAUFORT were detailed for the operation during the night, but no reports were received.

 

Air Raids

 

3. During the night about ten aircraft laid mines in the Gulf of Suez south of the Newport Channel. Some bombs were also dropped in the Suez area. One aircraft was shot down by nightfighters.

 

Levant

 

4. The S.S. BLAIRCLOVA, in a convoy escorted by PRIMULA (Senior Officer), CUMBRAE, and H.M.S.A.S. SOUTHERN ISLES, grounded in position 31-23N, 34-22E at 0110. She was refloated shortly afterwards and was able to rejoin the convoy which was on passage from Port Said to Haifa.

 

 

Wednesday, 7th July 1942

 

Alexandria

 

DULVERTON and HURWORTH carried out a shipping search to the westward of Alexandria during the night but found nothing. M.L.'s 352 and 353 patrolled in the vicinity of the harbour entrance.

 

Levant – Naval Ammunition

 

2. Arrangements were made to stock Palestine and Syria with a six month's supply of ammunition. Sufficient stocks were still maintained at Alexandria for its defence and immediate fleet requirements.

 

Canal Area

 

3. Negotiations were in progress between the Flag Officer Commanding, Red Sea and Canal Area and Baron Benoist, Head of the Suez Canal Company with a view to our control of the Canal Company's repair organisation as a war measure. The military situation and recent air raids had caused a serious reduction of the Canal Company's workshops at a time when increased demands were being made upon them.

 

Award of the Victoria Cross

 

4. It was announced today that Commander A.C.C. Miers, Royal Navy, D.S.O., had been awarded the Victoria Cross for valour in command of H.M. Submarine TORBAY in a daring and successful raid on Corfu Harbour. This submarine had carried out numerous successful patrols during the recent months in the Mediterranean.

 

 

Thursday, 9th July 1942

 

Western Desert

 

During the day the enemy occupied the positions at Deir El Quattara and some ground to the eastward. There were indications that the enemy was strengthening his right flank preparatory to a renewed attack.

 

Canal Area

 

2. Restricted traffic recommenced in the Suez Canal today.

 

Levant – Capture of Italian U boat

 

3. HYACINTH who was proceeding independently from Haifa to Beirut when in position 33-50N, 35-19E was narrowly missed by two torpedoes at 1727. The tracks of these were sighted in time to enable drastic avoiding action to be taken. Successful depth charge attacks were immediately carried out which twenty minutes later forced the submarine to the surface. After a few rounds on HYACINTH's Breda and 3" gun, the crew of the U boat surrendered. GLOXINIA by now had arrived on the scene later being joined by two M.T.B.s from Beirut with officers with knowledge of submarines. A boarding party was put onboard the submarine with Italian speaking Maltese; their efforts to get the Italians to steam the submarine underweigh did not succeed and at dusk HYACINTH had her in tow. Many of the crew panicked and were picked up by HYACINTH. By 0100 the following morning, the U boat had been towed into Beirut. Five officers and 39 ratings were taken prisoners; one rating was killed having been blown out of the submarine.

 

4. This U boat was the Italian PERLA. She had left Messina on 1st July and specially diverted by signal to the Levant Area. The machinery was found to be in a poor state of repair. PERLA had been in Massawa and after its fall had managed to return to Italy via the Cape. The morale of the ship's company was low.

 

Miscellaneous

 

5. The Commander in Chief directed that a combined naval and victualling store depot was to be set up near Haifa.

 

6. It was also decided that three months' supplies to be transferred to the Levant.

 

 

Friday, 10th July 1942

 

Western Desert

 

The Australians launched an attack along the railway line from El Alamein gaining some ground; over a thousand prisoners were taken during this engagement.

 

Alexandria

 

2. ERIDGE and BEAUFORT carried out operation MATCH during the night.

 

Attack on Enemy Convoy

 

3. An enemy convoy of five merchant vessels escorted by five M.T.B.s and two destroyers on passage from Crete to Tobruk was attacked by Albacores at dawn. One merchant ship was hit and left on fire. Subsequent reconnaissance showed this convoy to be in Tobruk less one ship.

 

4. The Albacores were flown to an enemy landing group 44 miles south of Sollum the previous afternoon. Bombay aircraft (n.b. of 216 R.A.F. Squadron) provided the fuel, stores, and personnel. Of the ten Albacores which took part it was unfortunate that only four located the convoy. All aircraft returned safely to their normal bases and there was no evidence to show that the enemy had any knowledge of this special operation.

 

 

Saturday, 11th July 1942

 

Western Desert

 

By midday the Australians had captured the Tel El Eisa feature destroying 22 tanks and taking about two thousand German and Italian prisoners. A heavy daylight attack was carried out by a large force of Wellingtons, on the enemy convoy in Tobruk. One ship was hit and severely damaged.

 

Alexandria

 

2. ERIDGE and BEAUFORT repeated last night's sweep to the westward. M.L.s 348 and 352 swept within ten miles of the coast as far as 029 East. Again nothing was sighted.

 

Port Said

 

3. Captain (D), Fourteenth Destroyer Flotilla in JERVIS with EXMOOR carried out an A/S search from Port Said to Jaffa and back to Port Said with A.S.V. Swordfish aircraft cooperating.

 

Levant

 

4. An Italian U boat was sunk by PROTEA and SOUTHERN MAID and Walrus aircraft at 1700 in position 34-38N, 34-56E. The submarine was forced to the surface by depth charges whereupon the Walrus immediately dived and attacked from seventy feet. The A/S trawlers shelled the U boat and it sank thirteen minutes after opening the attack. Forty five prisoners were taken.

 

Submarines

 

5. TAKU returned from patrol off the Libyan Coast. This submarine went on patrol on the initiative of her Commanding Officer, who owing the critical situation in the Western Desert volunteered to go to sea in spite of the fact that he had just returned from an exceedingly long and arduous patrol.

 

 

Sunday, 12th July 1942

 

Western Desert – Operation ENORMOUS

 

During the night DULVERTON and HURWORTH bombarded Mersa Matruh harbour area; ships fired 400 rounds all of which fell in the in the target area. ERIDGE and BEAUFORT acted as cover and an ammunition ship which had left harbour, probably as a result of earlier air attacks, was sunk by BEAUFORT. E boat which were escorted this ship were engaged and driven off by ERIDGE. Two Italian torpedo boats which were sighted proceeding to the westward at high speed were engaged by the "Hunts" but results were not known. No damage or casualties were sustained by our Forces. M.T.B. 307 succeeded in reaching Ras el Rum Bay with a sabotage party (Commandos), but was unable to land them due to the weather and the presence of enemy forces in the vicinity.

 

Malta

 

2. The Vice Admiral, Malta reported that the searched channel into the harbour had been finally cleared. A total of 206 mines had been cut since the operation began on the 8th May. Before the arrival of the Fleet minesweepers and motor launches from the June convoy, this was carried out by four local auxiliary minesweepers assisted by smaller craft for danning. The crews were in large part, Malta naval ratings who faced up to the dangers and difficulties of the operation with an indomitable spirit.

 

Levant

 

3. The Turkish tanker ANTARES on passage from Alexandretta to Haifa was torpedoed by an U Boat at 2105 in position 34-35N, 35-39E. Ship was beached on the shoals inshore of Ruad Island (North of Tripoli (Syria)), with her engineroom and boiler rooms flooded. She was subsequently salvaged and towed to Iskanderun by the tug HENRIETTA MOLLER, with the assistance of H.M. Tug TIENTSIN, H.M.S.A.S. SOUTHERN ISLES, and the Free French ship REINA DES FLOTS.

 

Port Sudan

 

4. QUEEN ELIZABETH escorted by NAPIER was sailed for Aden and U.S.A. Final repairs were to be undertaken at the Naval Yard, Norfolk, Virginia.

 

Submarines

 

5. P 211 sank the Italian S.S. ADDA of 800 tons in the Gulf of Crosei by torpedoes and gunfire. Later in the same area a merchant ship of 1500 tons was attacked by gunfire close inshore. P 211 was forced to break off a gunfire action owing to fire from coastal batteries. It was probable that the ship was later beached.

 

 

Monday, 13th July 1942

 

Western Desert

 

Our occupation of the Tel El Eisa feature was maintained throughout the day in spite of heavy attacks by the enemy. There was little to report from other sectors of the front.

 

Malta

 

2. Four "F" lighters who were proceeding to Libya were attacked by Beaufighters and Wellingtons south of Lampedusa. It is probable that one was sunk and another damaged.

 

Levant

 

3. The Chief of Staff, Commodore Edelsten, left for a short tour of Palestine and Syria.

 

Red Sea – Aden

 

BELVOIR and HURSLEY arrived on the Mediterranean Station, being lent from the Eastern Fleet.

 

 

Tuesday, 14th July 1942

 

Malta – Operation PINPOINT

 

Thirty one Spitfires were successfully flown into Malta from H.M.S. EAGLE.

 

Levant

 

2. The white oil tanker ADINDA was torpedoed by a U boat at dawn today, in position 33-33N, 35-10E. She managed to effect temporary repairs and reached Haifa under her own power. It was subsequently found that ADINDA was astern of the convoy proceeding from Beirut to Haifa.

 

Turkey

 

3. The Turkish submarine ATILAY sank off the entrance to the Dardanelles during Fleet exercises by striking an antennae mine in 40 fathoms. She was testing the Dardanelles loops at the time. Salvage was impossible and the crew of thirty eight (including eight officers) were lost. Sweepers had exploded three Antennae in the neighbourhood of the creek and it appears that the enemy had previously laid a minefield in this area. This was a German submarine which was assembled at Istanbul and completed in 1940.

 

Red Sea

 

4. SAHRA, SANTA, SILHOUETTE, SNOWDRIFT, and RAINSTORM arrived at Aden. They had been sent from the East Indies Station for conversion and fitting out as LL minesweeping trawlers.

 

 

Wednesday, 16th July 1942

 

Alexandria

 

In view of the present situation in the port, advantage was taken to overhaul and repair all lighters for further service.

 

Levant – Move GARWAY

 

2. The move of troops between Haifa and Famagusta was begun today; ANTWERP and PRINCESS MARGUERITE were sailed from Port Said, with an escort of three destroyers, for Famagusta, and Haifa. The greater majority of the personnel were embarked in PRINCESS MARGUERITE.

 

Gunnery

 

3. Two spare 15" guns were despatched today in S.S. GAUSDALE and REMBRANDT respectively for Australia on Admiralty instructions.

 

 

Thursday, 16th July 1942

 

Malta

 

WELSHMAN arrived carrying a cargo consisting of powdered milk, edible oils and vitamin concentrates. In addition to this, 120 service personnel took passage in WELSHMAN. Italian and German aircraft carried out one heavy attack resulting in several near misses but no damage. Whilst in harbour she was docked in number five dock and given a list to simulate damage. Fortunately, no attacks on the Harbour developed during her stay.

 

 

Friday, 17th July 1942

 

Alexandria

 

Shipping continued to use the port on a limited scale; a limit of one "dangerous" ship in harbour at a time was stipulated. Two corvettes, two A/S M/S vessels and ANTWERP were employed on escort duties between Port Said and Alexandria. Ship's requiring re arming and repairs were sent to Alexandria, and the Admiralty Floating Dock was used for merchant ship dockings.

 

Malta

 

2. The scale of air attack on Malta had shown a considerable reduction.

 

 

Saturday, 18th July 1942

 

Western Desert – Operation ENORMOUS

 

DULVERTON, HURWORTH, ERIDGE, and BEAUFORT carried out a bombardment of Mersa Matruh harbour area during the night. Results were disappointing, party owing to bad weather and failure of the aircraft to drop his flares over the target area.

 

Alexandria

 

2. It was reported that THORGRIM, previously sunk in an air raid, was badly damaged and must be considered a total loss.

 

Malta

 

3. PARTHIAN arrived with a small cargo of supplies from Gibraltar. This was mostly cartridges and shells for MATCHLESS who could not be sailed without them. WELSHMAN was failed from Malta for Gibraltar having unloaded her cargo without enemy interference.

 

Levant

 

4. Schooner traffic was resumed in the Levant area as far south as Haifa, having been stopped at the end of June when U Boat activity was at its height.

 

 

Sunday, 19th July 1942

 

Western Desert – Operation ENORMOUS

 

EXMOOR and HURWORTH repeated the bombardment of Mersa Matruh harbour area. Only six salvoes were fired since the presence of E boats and bad weather caused it to be discontinued. There was no air spotting over the target when the destroyers came to open fire due to their late arrival.

 

Greeks

 

2. The Greek Commander in Chief, Admiral Sakellariou in agreement with the Vice President of the Council placed the Greek units serving in the Mediterranean entirely under the orders of the Commander in Chief, Mediterranean. The Greeks also expressed desire to remain in the Mediterranean to the last possible moment with our naval forces.

 

 

Monday, 20th July 1942

 

Western Desert – Bombardment of Mersa Matruh

 

The Rear Admiral Destroyers in DIDO with EURYALUS, JERVIS, JAVELIN, PAKENHAM, and PALADIN sailed from Port Said at 1300 on 19th and carried out a successful bombardment of Mersa Matruh harbour area. Aircraft spotting was excellent the cruisers firing about 400 rounds at least sixty percent of which fell in the target area. One petrol ship was blown up and other shipping damaged. At the same time DULVERTON and ALDENHAM carried out an anti E boat sweep inshore driving off two E boats and returned to Alexandria the following morning. There was little doubt that these bombardments were seriously hindering the enemy's use of the port and upsetting morale. The force returned to Port Said at 1500 without incident.

 

Move GARWAY

 

2. At 0700 a mine was exploded in the swept channel to Famagusta. PRINCESS MARGUERITE and ANTWERP were due to arrive an hour later. The Naval Officer in Charge closed the port and it was decided to anchor the convoy off the port. In four hours 1200 troops and three hundred tons of stores were disembarked using every available small craft in the harbour. Three hundred Greek troops were also embarked.

 

Malta

 

3. The arrival of P 42 marked the beginning of the return to Malta of the Tenth Submarine Flotilla.

 

Red Sea

 

4. ARPHA and SAGITTA sailed for the Yemen coast to intercept German and Italian refugees who were due to leave Jedda on the 22nd July. This was a result of political pressure on Ibn Saud, who agreed that these internees could leave and that he would connive at out ships intercepting them inside territorial waters.

 

5. ROBERTS was moved from Suez to Abu Zenina anchorage for the protection of shipping waiting call up to Suez.

 

 

Tuesday, 21st July 1942

 

Western Desert

 

An operation to block Mersa Matruh harbour with the Greek ship GIORGIOS G on the 23rd was abandoned for the time being. The R.A.F. considered that as their fighters could not give full protection owing to the distance involved the operation would be impracticable. GIORGIOS G had been taken over by a Naval crew. The Operation was to be covered by COVENTRY, 6 "Hunts", 2 M.T.B.s and 2 Fairmiles. Preparations were however continued to carry out the operation at a later date with a faster block ship.

 

Malta

 

2. Temporary repairs to BADSWORTH and MATCHLESS were reported complete. These ships had been damaged on arrival of the June Malta convoy.

 

Port Said

 

3. MALINES, who was off the end of the searched channel to enter harbour was torpedoed by aircraft just abaft the engine room. She was towed in by tugs and beached in the out harbour just in time to save her sinking. Seven ratings were killed and the same number wounded. BOSTON sustained slight damage whilst towing MALINES.

 

Ionian Sea

 

4. Beauforts from Malta attacked a merchant ship escorted by two destroyers 334 degrees Gheroghambo 63 miles. The merchant was badly hit and when last seen was stopped, emitting while (n.b. white ?) smoke and being circled by the destroyers.

 

Levant

 

5. Schooner traffic in the entire Levant area was now resumed.

 

 

Wednesday, 22nd July 1942

 

Western Desert

 

M.T.B.s operating from Alexandria carried out an anti shipping sweep to the westward during the night but found nothing.

 

Gibraltar

 

2. P 43 was sailed from Gibraltar to join the Mediterranean Station.

 

Malta

 

3. Operation INSECT. EAGLE flew off twenty nine Spitfire aircraft which landed safely at Malta with one exception.

 

4. Captain (S) Tenth Submarine Flotilla and his Staff arrived Malta by air today and assumed operational control of the Tenth Submarine Flotilla.

 

Red Sea

 

5. In view of the recent mining in Suez Bay, GENERAL BIRDWOOD and ST MINVER of the 23rd M/S Group were retained at Suez for minewatching duties.

 

 

Thursday, 23rd July 1942

 

Western Desert – Bombardment of Mersa Matruh

 

The Rear Admiral Destroyers in DIDO with EURYALUS, JERVIS, PAKENHAM, JAVELIN, PALADIN, BELVOIR, and HURSLEY who had been sailed from Port Said 2000 on 22nd attempted a bombardment of Mersa Matruh harbour area, but after two salvoes it had to be abandoned, due to failure of the flaredropping aircraft and very low cloud. DULVERTON and HURWORTH, who had sailed from Alexandria, acted as an anti E boat cover during the bombardment. The force returned to Port Said without incident.

 

Levant

 

2. Operation GARWAY. The move of six thousand military personnel into Famagusta from Haifa was completed today. ANTWERP and PRINCESS MARGUERITE were employed and an escort of three destroyers for each trip was provided from Port Said and Haifa as required.

 

3. At 0500, the Greek schooner VASSILIKI was sunk by a U boat in approximate position 34-45N, 34-35E. Survivors landed in their own boat at Famagusta during the day. As a result schooner traffic was again temporarily suspended.

 

 

Friday, 24th July 1942

 

Alexandria

 

Admiralty asked for details as to possibility of moving Admiralty Floating Dock number 5 to Kilindini.

 

Levant

 

2. Convoys were begun between Tripoli (Syria) and Port Said since sufficient escorts were now available and delays to shipping could be accepted. It was necessary to relieve the escorts to allow them to get some maintenance done. Up to now, many of them had been run continuously without sufficient maintenance. Convoys were numbered LE and LW onwards and set to run every three day. The scale of escorts was to be a minimum of two escorts for one ship, three escorts for two ships and five escorts for three ships or more, and ships of seven knots and under were not to be included.

 

3. A small Greek sailing vessel was sunk by gunfire from a U boat 30 miles east of Cape Greco.

 

 

Saturday, 25th July 1942

 

Western Desert – Operation PLUTO

 

M.T.B.s and M.L.s operating from Alexandria carried out a shipping sweep from Ras el Daba to Ras el Rum during the night, but found nothing.

 

Ionian Sea

 

2. Beauforts from Malta severely damaged an escorted merchant ship ten miles west of Cape Gheroghambo. Ship was last seen on fire and stopped with her escort of four destroyers circling her.

 

 

Sunday, 26th July 1942

 

Western Desert – Operation PLUTO

 

One again an M.T.B. and M.L. shipping sweep west of Alexandria found nothing.

 

Submarines

 

2. THRASHER whilst on passage to her patrol area was unfortunately attacked by a Swordfish from 815 Squadron thirty five miles north of Port Said. Her main batteries were severely damaged and major defects to hull were also found. She was able to return to harbour by dawn the following day. One rating suffered minor injuries. THRASHER was on her safe route at the time.

 

Levant

 

3. Schooner traffic was once again resumed.

 

 

Monday, 27th July 1942

 

Alexandria

 

Shipping authorities were informed that there was no objection to a few ships being worked at the port. Only one "dangerous" ship however, was allowed to use the port at a time.

 

 

Tuesday, 28th July 1942

 

Submarines

 

The Greek submarine NEREUS arrived at Port Said after a patrol in the Aegean. Three small caiques were sunk north of Scarpanto and a possible hit on an unescorted 7000 to merchant ship near Mandali Island. Three Dodecanese prisoners were taken from these vessels. This was a most determined patrol carried out in spite of continual electrical defects which deprived NEREUS of an almost certain victim in the Zea Channel.

 

Suez

 

2. About ten enemy aircraft raided the Suez area during the night. H.E.M.S. FAWZIA who was employed on coastguard duty in the Rea Sea was damaged by bombs and later sank in shallow water. The boom defence vessel PUNNET was damaged and rendered unserviceable. The D.E.M.S. office buildings were completely wrecked. Salvage of FAWZIA was undertaken by CONFEDERATE, the Egyptian Government bearing the cost. COVENTRY was sailed from Port Said to Suez for A.A. duties in anchorages south of the Canal.

 

 

Wednesday, 29th July 1942

 

Western Desert

 

Six M.T.B.s attempted an anti E boat sweep off Mersa Matruh but due to the weather it had to be abandoned.

 

Central Mediterranean

 

2. Ten miles south of Sapenza, Beauforts attacked a heavily escorted merchant ship and claim to have seriously damaged it. Subsequent reconnaissance of Navarin Bay the following day, showed a damaged merchant ship in harbour.

 

Malta

 

3. H.M. Submarine CLYDE arrived at Malta with cargo chiefly consisting of bulk oils and vital food commodities for the garrison. An Italian flying boat landed in St Julian's Bay. This aircraft had been captured by one of the crews of the Beauforts, who had been taken prisoners and overpowered their guards whilst on passage from Navarin to Italy.

 

Port Said

 

4. Three schooners north of Damietta reported sunk by gunfire from enemy submarines.

 

Commander in Chief

 

5. Admiral Harwood lunched with H.M. King Farouk at Abdin Palace. The Prime Minister of Egypt was also present.

 

 

Thursday, 30th July 1942

 

Malta

 

There was a noticeable increase in enemy attacks on the Island. In general bombers were escorted by a huge number of fighters; many sorties turned back on the appearance of the Spitfires.

 

Levant

 

2. During the month six months naval stores and provisions for the Fleet had been transferred from Alexandria to Haifa.

 

Red Sea

 

3. Forty per cent of the Station resources of Naval stores were now transferred to Port Sudan for eventual use at Alexandria. Stocks in the Canal area were built up, and the victualling store ship CHANGTE was moved south of the Canal in readiness to undertake supplies to destroyers and small craft which might be transferred to this area.

 

 

Friday, 31st July 1942

 

Western Desert

 

Heavy air attacks were carried out on Tobruk and Mersa Matruh harbour. At the latter one ship about 2 to 3000 tons were almost certainly sunk. Throughout the month, the R.A.F. and F.A.A. Squadrons had kept up almost continuous air attacks on land and on shipping in harbour and at sea. Six ships totaling 13,000 tons had definitely been sunk by air attack during this month.

 

Alexandria

 

2. About six enemy aircraft operated over Alexandria during the night. There were some civilian casualties but no naval or military damage.

 

Malta

 

3. PARTHIAN, having unloaded her cargo and completed repairs to minor defects sailed for Gibraltar.

 

4. P 34 arrived after an uneventful passage from Haifa.

 

Levant

 

5. The following ships were escorting convoys between Beirut and Port Said.

 

 Northbound - SAKTOURIS, SNAPDRAGON, FALK, KLO, ROMEO, and M.L. 356

 

 Southbound - PRIMULA, BURRA, SPETSAI, and IERAX

 

Submarines

 

6. Our submarines were disposed as follows:

 

 OTUS On passage from Beirut to Malta and U.K.

 

 PARTHIAN On passage from Malta to Gibraltar

 

 PORPOISE At Haifa

 

 PROTEUS On patrol west of Crete

 

 THORN On patrol in Tobruk area

 

 TURBULENT At Beirut

 

 TRAVELLER On patrol in Adriatic

 

 UNA, P 31, P 43 On passage from Gibraltar to Malta

 

 P 34, P 44, and CLYDE At Malta

 

 P 42 On patrol Messina Area

 

 OSIRIS and THRASHER At Port Said refitting

 

 TAKU Libyan coast patrol.

 

Greek Submarines

 

 PAPANICOLAS On patrol in Aegean

 

 NEREUS At Port Said refitting

 

 TRITON At Haifa

 

 KATSONIS Refitting at Ismailia

 

 

 PART II

 

SUMMARY OF EVENTS FOR July 1942

 

General

 

The most serious problem in the early part of the month was how the land situation in the Western Desert would develop. The enemy launched a general attack against the El Alamein at the beginning of the month which was repulsed and the position was eventually established on this line. As Alexandria was still within escorted bomber range it could not be considered as a safe Fleet Base and so the policy of thinning out as much a possible was continued.

 

2. A difficult question was that of the French Fleet at Alexandria. At the beginning of the month Admiral Harwood had an interview with Vice Admiral Godfroy regarding the movements of his ships; the latter refused any move without orders from Vichy which he felt sure would not be given. Vice Admiral Godfroy made a counter proposal that his ships should move to Bizerta, which was refused. A suggestion was made that the intervention of the U.S.A. might help, which resulted in an officer by the President for an asylum in a North or South American port and finally Martinique. This proposal yielded nothing and thus the situation remained as before with the present agreement still in force. A plan was prepared for any action necessary against this force under the varying situations that might arise.

 

Alexandria and Canal Area

 

3. As Alexandria could not be considered as a safe Fleet Base the policy of dispersal and stores was continued, and the Commander in Chief's operations staff transferred to Ismailia, but Alexandria was still used to a limited extent for unloading essential military stores.

 

4. A number of air raids took place on both Alexandria and the Canal area, chiefly on the latter where mines were dropped in the Canal and one or two ships damaged at Port Said.

 

Western Desert

 

5. After very heavy attacks and counter attacks the line was eventually stabilized on the El Alamein position. The R.A.F. kept up a very heavy scale of air attack on the enemy positions and ports. At Tobruk it is estimated that six ships totaling 13,000 tons were sunk.

 

6. A number of bombardments at Mersa Matruh both by cruisers and destroyers were carried out, some were very successful whilst others were hampered by failure of the flare droppers and bad weather. A number of searches for enemy shipping along the coast to the west of Alexandria were also carried out.

 

Central Mediterranean

 

7. Every opportunity was taken by both aircraft and submarines to interfere with the enemy supply lines which resulted in considerable success. One convoy was attacked by Albacores which were flown to an enemy landing ground about 44 miles south of Sollum when they refuelled from Bombays. All the aircraft returned safely to their bases on completion of the operation and there is no evidence to show that the enemy had any knowledge of what had taken place.

 

Levant

 

8. There was an increase in submarine activity against our convoys proceeding up and down the coast, which resulted in the loss of two ships and the damaging of a third. On the credit side, one Italian submarine was captured and one U boat sunk.

 

9. Beirut was opened up as a submarine base. It had previously been used by the French as such; there was therefore a good deal of equipment and accommodation already available.

 

10. On account of the wider dispersal of stores from Alexandria, a bombing Naval and Victualling Store Depot to take six months' supplies for the Fleet was opened up at Haifa.

 

11. An operation entailing the move of 6000 troops between Haifa and Famagusta was successfully carried out.

 

Red Sea

 

12. NEWCASTLE had to return to Aden being unable to proceed to Kilindini without sustaining further damage; she had been damaged when taking part in the recent Malta convoy operations.

 

13. RESOURCE, WOOLWICH arrived at Port Sudan and QUEEN ELIZABETH left the Red Sea for repairs in America.

 

14. Two ships were sent to the Yemen coast to intercept German and Italian refugees who were known to be leaving Jedda.

 

15. Forty per cent of the Station reserves of naval stores were transferred to Port Sudan for eventual use at Alexandria, and stocks in the Canal area were also built up.

 

Malta

 

16. Vice Admiral, Malta considered that the scale of mining and air attacks had sufficiently decreased to allow the Tenth Submarine Flotilla to return with acceptable losses; about the middle of the month our Submarine offensive from Malta commenced once again.

 

17. In recent weeks, 206 mines had been swept up, chiefly by four local auxiliary minesweepers manned most by Maltese naval ratings, who faced up to this dangerous and difficult operation with an indomitable spirit.

 

18. During the month EAGLE in two operations flew into the Island a total of sixty Spitfires. WELSHMAN and CLYDE each did one trip taking in essential stores and personnel.

 

19. Aircraft took every opportunity to strike against the enemy's supply lines.

 

Submarines

 

20. Our submarines continued their successful offensive against enemy convoys, and with Malta operating again as a Submarine base, this offensive was able to be conducted over a wider area.

 

Changes on Station

 

21.

 

QUEEN ELIZABETH left the Red Sea for repairs in America.

 

 BELVOIR and HURSLEY arrived from the Eastern Fleet.

 

Casualties

 

22.

 

Cased petrol carrier MARILYSE MOLLER sunk by U Boat.

 

 S.S. HERO sunk by U Boat

 

 MALINES damaged by torpedo aircraft.

 

 


 

 

MEDITERRANEAN WAR DIARY – August 1942

 

 

Saturday, 1st August 1942

 

Alexandria

 

About five aircraft operated over Alexandria. There was no naval damage. Three Beaufighters were shot down.

 

Malta

 

2. H.M.S. P 31 arrived after an uneventful passage from Haifa.

 

Levant

 

3. The Egyptian schooner ST SIMON was sunk by gunfire from a U Boat 35 miles northwest of Beirut whilst on passage to Larnaca. An M.T.B. picked up survivors and brought them to Limasol. Force B carried out gunnery practices off Haifa during the day.

 

Red Sea

 

4. H.M.S. ARPHA intercepted five Italians off Melma Islands (position 194-45N, 40-35.5E). These were some of the Italian internees from Yemen who had been given permission by Ibn Saud to leave the country with our connivance. They were mostly Italians who had fled from Massawa before its fall, and in some cases were crews of the scuttled Italian destroyers. Total numbers concerned were about sixty. Plans of routes to Turkey via Syria and Transjordan were found on some of the prisoners.

 

 

Sunday, 2nd August 1942

 

Malta

 

H.M.S. UNA arrived after a short patrol whilst on passage from Haifa. P 34 arrived from Gibraltar to join the Tenth Submarine Flotilla.

 

Levant

 

2. Schooner traffic in the Levant was suspended.

 

 

Monday, 3rd August 1942

 

Levant

 

Work on the submarine base at Beirut was now complete.

 

2. The Greek submarine depot ship CORINTHIA was sailed from Haifa to Beirut in convoy and arrived without incident.

 

Red Sea

 

3. H.M.S. SAGITTA intercepted fourteen Italian escapees from the Yemen at Sherm Makar. No objection was raised by the local authorities to H.M.S. SAGITTA's presence in territorial waters.

 

 

Tuesday, 4th August 1942

 

Alexandria

 

A Swordfish of 815 Squadron attacked and damaged a U boat north of Alexandria during the night. This was partially confirmed by reconnaissance the next morning and later D/F bearings which showed her returning to Dodecanese waters.

 

Levant

 

2. The Eleventh Royal Marine Battalion was moved from Kabret to Haifa for special training.

 

Loss of German U Boat

 

3. At 2123 on the 3rd August, an A.S.V. Wellington of 231 Squadron obtained contact of a submarine south west of Haifa. Captain (D), Twenty Second Destroyer Flotilla in H.M.S. SIKH and H.M.S. ZULU hunted throughout the night. As depth charges were running low H.M. Ships CROOME and TETCOTT were sailed from Haifa to relieve them. Finally at 1337 the U boat surfaced and was engagement by all the armament possible till she surrendered and sank badly damaged in position 32-28N, 34-37E. The complete crew and one agent were taken prisoner. It was subsequently learned that she was on a special mission to sabotage oil installations, quite probably at Haifa. The Naval Officers in Charge Levant area were warned of this possibility and to review their present anti sabotage arrangements. The U boat was commanded by Kapitanleutenant Neumann.

 

Red Sea

 

4. H.M.S. RESOURCE returned to Suez after a months' stay at Port Sudan.

 

Commander in Chief

 

5. Admiral Harwood had a meeting with Mr. Churchill at 1730 in Cairo.

 

 

Wednesday, 5th August 1942

 

Alexandria

 

Six M.T.B.s carried out an anti E boat sweep to the westward during the night but found nothing.

 

Port Said

 

2. Out of two Italian aircraft which attacked minesweepers at the end of the searched channel, one was shot down by H.M.S. FAREHAM. She picked up six survivors all of whom were wounded.

 

Levant

 

3. H.M.S. DIDO escorted by H.M. Ships PALADIN and KELVIN arrived at Haifa to relieve H.M.S. ARETHUSA who returned to Port Said with H.M.S. DIDO's escort, and H.M. Ships SIKH and TETCOTT. Schooner traffic was again resumed.

 

 

Thursday, 5th August 1942

 

Levant

 

H.M.S. COVENTRY escorted by JERVIS and KELVIN was sailed from Port Said to Beirut for a short rest period.

 

 

Friday, 7th August 1942

 

Malta

 

OTUS arrived with passengers and vital supplies which included torpedoes, ammunition, and petrol.

 

Levant

 

2. ALDENHAM was sailed from Haifa to Beirut to reinforce the local patrols.

 

 

Saturday, 8th August 1942

 

Commander in Chief and Operational Staff – Return to Alexandria

 

The Commander in Chief, and a small operational staff returned to Alexandria, moving to offices in Sidi Bishr near 201 Naval Cooperation Group. The Administrative Staff remained at Port Said. The Flag of Commander in Chief was transferred to H.M.S. FLAMINGO.

 

Change of Appointment

 

2. General the Hon. Sir Harold R.L.G. Alexander, K.C.B., C.S.I., D.S.O., M.C., assumed command of Middle East Forces today.

 

 

Sunday, 9th August 1942

 

Western Desert

 

Wellingtons from 38 Squadron mined the entrance to Matruh Harbour during the night.

 

Submarines

 

2. The Greek submarine PAPANICOLIS returned to Beirut after a short patrol. Her main object was the evacuation of 22 Greeks from the southern shores of Crete. This was successfully accomplished in spite of bad weather. PAPANICOLIS suffered from engine defects, nearly exhausting her fuel before return.

 

Levant

 

3. The Egyptian schooner KHAROUF was sunk by gunfire from a U boat at 0300 between Sidon and Beirut.

 

COVENTRY escorted by ALDENHAM and ZULU arrived at Haifa from Beirut.

 

4. The following ships were escorting convoys on the Levant:

 

Northbound

 

 H.H.M.S. SPETSAI

 

 H.H.M.S. IERAX

 

 H.M.S. ERICA

 

 H.M.S. FALK

 

 H.M.S.A.S. PROTEA

 

 H.M.S. ROMEO

 

 

 

Monday, 10th August 1942

 

Operation PEDESTAL

 

It was decided to run a convoy to Malta. This convoy which consisted of 13 merchant ships and one tanker which left the United Kingdom on the 2nd August, entered the Mediterranean on the night 9/10th August. The escorts comprised NELSON, RODNEY, INDOMITABLE, VICTORIOUS, EAGLE, FURIOUS, NIGERIA, KENYA, MANCHESTER, PHOEBE, CHARYBDIS, SIRIUS, CAIRO, and twenty four destroyers. The Operation was under the command of Acting Vice Admiral E.N. Syfret, C.B., (Senior Officer, Force F) in NELSON. The aircraft carrier force was under the command of Rear Admiral A.L. St. Lyster, C.B., C.V.O., D.S.C., in VICTORIOUS. The Flag Officer Commanding, Tenth Cruiser Squadron, Rear Admiral H.M. Burrough, C.B., was in NIGERIA.

 

2. After passing through the Straits the force was sighted by a Spanish ship on opposite course.

 

Operation ASCENDANT

 

3. MATCHLESS and BADSWORTH with two merchant ships which had remained at Malta since the June convoy sailed after dark and proceeded to Gibraltar under the cover of Operation PEDESTAL.

 

Operation M.G. THREE

 

4. It was decided to run a diversionary Malta convoy in the Eastern Mediterranean with the object of preventing the enemy directing the full weight of surface and air forces against the convoy being run from Gibraltar.

 

5. At 2000 S.S. CITY OF PRETORIA, CITY OF LINCOLN, and CITY OF EDINBURGH were sailed from Port Said escorted by ARETHUSA, EURYALUS, COVENTRY, PAKENHAM, PALADIN, JERVIS, KELVIN, DULVERTON, HURWORTH, ERIDGE, HURSLEY, BEAUFORT, and BELVOIR.

 

Operation SUNBEAM

 

6. This operation for blocking Mersa Matruh was finally abandoned owing to the impossibility at this juncture of providing the necessary fighter cover and the Eighth Army no longer required it. The S.S. NAWAB had been taken up but found to be too slow and finally the S.S. CAPE HAWK, a fast ship, was taken up for the operation.

 

Levant – Loss of an Italian U Boat

 

7. H.M.S. ISLAY sank an Italian U Boat probably the SCIRCE at the end of the Haifa swept channel at 1610 by depth charges and gunfire. There were no survivors and the submarine sank in twenty fathoms. She was apparently fitted to carry human torpedoes; two bodies which came to the surface some days later were wearing escape apparatus and together with identity discs leave no doubt as to the nationality of the U boat. CROOME and TETCOTT attacked the position of the U boat some hours afterwards till the loss was definitely established.

 

8. The Levant Escort Force was divided into two British groups, one all Greek, and an all French escort group.

 

Red Sea

 

9. The Greek steamer S.S. MARIA "L" in ballast which had been stranded off Ras Abu Baker was towed off by S.S. CONFEDERATE. H.M.S. ROBERTS assisted in the operation.

 

Change of Appointment

 

10. Lieutenant General B.L. Montgomery assumed command of the Eighth Army vice General Auchinleck.

 

 

 

Tuesday, 11th August 1942

 

 Operation Pedestal (click to enlarge).

 

Operation PEDESTAL

 

Enemy aircraft shadowed the convoy during the day. Thirty eight Spitfires were flown off from FURIOUS of which thirty six reached Malta.

 

Loss of H.M.S. EAGLE

 

2. At 1514, EAGLE was torpedoed by a German U boat in position 38-05N, 03-02E. She was hit by four torpedoes and sank in six minutes. Her Commanding Officer (Captain L.D. MacIntosh, D.S.C., R.N.) and 929 officers and ratings were picked up by LAFOREY, LOOKOUT, and H.M. Tug JAUNTY. They were later transferred to MALCOLM, KEPPEL, and VENOMOUS for passage to Gibraltar with FURIOUS. EAGLE was on the starboard quarter of the convoy and the U Boat penetrated the screen undetected.

 

3. WOLVERINE rammed and sank a U boat in position 37-12N, 01-51E at 0205 on the 12th.

 

4. An ineffective attack by bombers and torpedo aircraft took place at dusk. During the day, CAIRO and twenty four destroyers had fuelled from a tanker escorted by corvettes ahead of the convoy.

 

5. S.S. AJAX escorted by the Rear Admiral Commanding, Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron in CLEOPATRA, DIDO, SIKH, ZULU, JAVELIN, TETCOTT, and CROOME were sailed from Haifa at 0500 to rendezvous with the remainder of the convoy from Port Said. After dark the force turned back. KELVIN joined C.S. 15's force which proceeded to carry out another operation. CITY OF PRETORIA escorted by ERIDGE and HURSLEY were detached to Port Said. CITY OF EDINBURGH escorted by BEAUFORT and BELVOIR was detached to Haifa. CITY OF LINCOLN escorted by DULVERTON and HURWORTH was detached to Beirut. AJAX escorted by CROOME and TETCOTT was detached to Haifa. DIDO escorted by PAKENHAM, PALADIN, and JERVIS had to return to Port Said with hull defects.

 

Haifa

 

6. Catenary nets to increase the defence of Haifa were placed today, after initial delays due to a shortage of material.

 

Submarines

 

7. H.M.S. THORN (Lieutenant Commander R.G. Norfolk, D.S.O., R.N.) did not return from patrol was considered lost. She left Beirut on 21st July to operate in the vicinity of Tobruk and Ras et Tin. She requested permission to remain in the Tobruk area on 29th July and as a result she was ordered to remain in the area till 6th August. There was no indication as to her loss.

 

 

Wednesday, 12th August 1942

 

Operation PEDESTAL

 

Air attacks took place throughout the day in which many aircraft were shot down. Fleet fighters broke up many attacks. Only one M.T. ship was damaged in these attacks. At 1634 after a heavy depth charge attack down the port side of the convoy by PATHFINDER, the submarine surfaced and was rammed and sunk by ITHURIEL in approximate position 37-41N, 10-00E. Four officers (including the Commanding Officer) and 38 ratings were picked up. This U boat was believed to be the COBALTO and had only left Cagliari two days previously.

 

2. At dusk very heavy dive bombing attacks concurrently with high level and torpedo bombing took place on the Fleet. INDOMITABLE was hit by three bombs and near missed by three or four others. Her flight deck was seriously damaged, large fires broke out forward and after, but were quickly got under control. Six officers and 60 ratings were killed and in addition 55 ratings were wounded. FORESIGHT was hit by a torpedo bomber. TARTAR took her in tow.

 

3. At 1855 the covering force turned back and the convoy with the Tenth Cruiser Squadron, CAIRO, and destroyers (Force X) entered Skerki Channel. RODNEY's speed was reduced owing to boiler defects.

 

4. During the night the force was continually attacked by U boats and E boats. At 2056 NIGERIA and CAIRO were hit by the same salvo from a U boat. CAIRO had her stern blown off and both engines disabled. As towing was impracticable she was sunk by PATHFINDER in position 37-35N, 10-00W. NIGERIA was hit in the forward boiler room and returned to Gibraltar escorted by four HUNTs. At this time, the U.S. tanker OHIO was also torpedoed but carried on with the convoy. Rear Admiral Commanding, Tenth Cruiser Squadron transferred to ASHANTI. At 2137, KENYA was torpedoed by either U boats or E boats but was able to continue with the convoy. At this time, four merchant ships had been sunk.

 

Malta

 

5. P 35 arrived after a twelve day passage from Haifa without incident.

 

Operation BELLOWS

 

6. FURIOUS escorted by KEPPEL, VENOMOUS, and WRESTLER arrived Gibraltar at 2130.

 

Special Operation (n.b. Operation WASH LEATHER)

 

7. As a diversion for Operation PEDESTAL, UNA landed a sabotage party in Catania Bay, on the night 11th/12th August. As one of the folboats was smashed by the seas three other ranks were left in the submarine. At the time the aerodrome and flare paths were lit; no opposition was met when the party landed. Three officers and three other ranks failed to make the rendezvous that night and the following night. The results of the operation are not known, but it is of interest to note that reconnaissance on the 9th August showed a total of 170 aircraft present.

 

 

Thursday, 13th August 1942

 

Operation PEDESTAL

 

An Italian force of four cruisers and eight destroyers which was off the N.W. coast of Sicily turned back at 0230 without making contact with the convoy.

 

2. During the night MANCHESTER was hit by E boats and possibly mined. She sank at 0400 in Kelibia Roads. Her Commanding Officer (Captain H. Drew, D.S.C., R.N.) was interned in Tunis along with large numbers of his ship's company. ESKIMO and SOMALI on passage to Gibraltar picked up 141 survivors from MANCHESTER at 2100.

 

3. At dawn the convoy was still in an unformed state, but was soon reorganized. At 0700 five M.T. ships were in company with KENYA, destroyers and CHARYBDIS who had been detached from the covering force during the night and had now joined. Four other merchant ships had been sunk by air and E boat attacks during the day. Worthy of special mention is the U.S. Tanker OHIO which had been torpedoed by an E boat the previous day and had managed to rejoin the convoy in hand steering. By the end of the day she had been immobilized near Linosa Island where attempts to tow her in to Malta began.

 

4. At 1800 three merchant ships had arrived in the Grand Harbour, one of these had been torpedoed.

 

5. In the vicinity of Lipari Island, P 42 was fortunate in getting in an attack on the retiring enemy cruisers. One 8" cruiser, the BOLZANO, and a 6" cruiser, the ATTENDOLO were both claimed to have been hit. P.R.U. of the latter showed her to have 60 feet of her bows blown off in Messina Harbour.

 

6. WOLVERINE, damaged after ramming a U boat arrived at Gibraltar at 1450.

 

7. Three merchant ships were handed over by C.S. 10 to the Malta Force off the end of the swept channel at about 1700. Force X, less PENN, LEDBURY, and BRAHAM, returned to Gibraltar.

 

Operation M.G. Four

 

8. The Rear Admiral Commanding, Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron in CLEOPATRA with ARETHUSA, SIKH, ZULU, KELVIN, and JAVELIN, carried out a bombardment of Rhodes Harbour and the Alliotti Flour Mills during the night. Owing to searchlights and the presence of at least three E boats the bombardment was carried out at a longer range than intended. As a result of the air attack the largest area was covered with smoke. Flares were good; salvoes were fired but hits were not observed or reported. It appears doubtful whether much material damage was caused, though it should have had some effect on morale. Diversionary air attacks were carried out on the Maritsa Aerodrome by the Royal Air Force. JAVELIN attacked a U boat contact from 0654 till 0804 in position 34-45N, 31-04E and reported no doubt that submarine was destroyed.

 

9. Rear Admiral Commanding, Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron, in CLEOPATRA with ARETHUSA, SIKH and ZULU, and CROOME and TETCOTT, arrived at Haifa at 1900.

 

10. GLOXINIA attacked a contact in position 31-47N, 34-21.5E close to a convoy on passage from Haifa to Port Said. An aircraft sighted a submarine six hours later ten miles away and GLOXINIA's attack may well have prevented an attack on this convoy.

 

 

Friday, 14th August 1942

 

Operation PEDESTAL

 

The S.S. BRISBANE STAR arrived at Malta at 1630. She had left the convoy after having been torpedoed and had spent all day of the 13th in territorial waters in the Gulf of Hammamet. Under cover of darkness she managed to reach the limit of fighter protection. One seriously wounded man was landed at Susa. Owing to incorrect use of a call sign she was thought by Vice Admiral, Malta to be the KENYA and was ordered to retire to Gibraltar if able; fortunately, the Master ignored this and carried on to Malta.

 

2. Towing operations on the OHIO continued all day with PENN, BRAHAM, RYE, and SPEEDY and by nightfall slow progress was being made up the swept channel. LEDBURY and M.L.s also assisted.

 

3. On the return journey, C.S. 10 and force were attacked by E Boats one of which was sunk. Heavy air attacks were encountered but no damage was caused.

 

4. MATCHLESS and BADSWORTH arrived Gibraltar at 1346 with the Merchant Vessels TROILUS and ORARI.

 

5. ESKIMO and SOMALI arrived Gibraltar at 1858 with 376 survivors on board.

 

6. RODNEY and INDOMITABLE escorted by WESTCOTT, WISHART, AMAZON, ANTELOPE, VANSITTART, and QUENTIN arrived Gibraltar at 2030.

 

Submarines

 

7. TRAVELLER returned from patrol and reported that at 0914/31st July in position 44-30N, 14-00E she estimated two hits on the ex-Yugoslav cruiser DALMACIJA who was escorted by three destroyers. At 1045 5th August in position 42-48N, 14-31E she claimed one hit by gunfire on a German 500 ton U boat which he had previously missed by torpedoes. This was her Commanding Officer's (Lieutenant M.B. St John, R.N.) first Mediterranean War Patrol. Tube and torpedo failures seriously affected what might have been a very successful patrol. PROTEUS also returned from patrol and reported that at 0730 7th August northwest of Anti Milo she attacked a convoy of three northbound escorted merchant ships, sinking one of 7000 tons. At 1040 in the same position, she estimated one his on an unescorted merchant ship of 9000 tons. Two schooner and two caiques were also sunk during this patrol, in all cases laden with troops and stores.

 

Operation WATERMELON

 

8. The landing of a sabotage party of five Greek officers and four other ranks in the vicinity of Kalamata was carried out by PROTEUS on the night of 2nd/3rd August.

 

 

Saturday, 15th August 1942

 

Operation PEDESTAL

 

NIGERIA escorted by KEPPEL, TARTAR, WILTON, BICESTER, and DERWENT arrived at Gibraltar at 0234.

 

2. PENN, BRAHAM, and LEDBURY arrived at Malta at 0855 with the tanker OHIO. This was just reward after many hours efforts in face of air attack and submarine menace. The majority of the cargo was intact.

 

3. Senior Officer, Force "F" in NELSON with VICTORIOUS, PHOEBE, SIRIUS, KENYA, CHARYBDIS, escorted by ICARUS, LIGHTNING, LOOKOUT, LAFOREY, INTREPID, PATHFINDER, FURY and ASHANTI arrived Gibraltar at 1942.

 

Operation AGENDA

 

4. M.T.B.s 307, 310, 315, and 316 landed a sabotage party in the Ras El Daba area; two M.T.B.'s covered the landing against E boat attacks. Four trucks, one large vehicle, and a small store dump were blown up. One officer and one other rank failed to return. Slight opposition from the shore was encountered by the M.T.B.s, who sustained neither damage nor casualties.

 

Levant – Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron

 

5. The Rear Admiral Commanding, Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron in CLEOPATRA with ARETHUSA, DULVERTON, HURWORTH, ZULU, JAVELIN, KELVIN, and TETCOTT sailed from Haifa to Port Said. The Flag of Rear Admiral (D), Mediterranean, was transferred from ARETHUSA to WOOLWICH.

 

6. M.T.B. 73 on passage from Paphos to Port Said sighted a submarine of the ARGO class on the surface. She attacked with depth charges but the result was unobserved.

 

Submarines

 

7. P 46 arrived at Malta to join the Tenth Submarine Flotilla. Passage from Gibraltar was uneventful. P 46's part in Operation PEDESTAL was without incident.

 

8. UTMOST also arrived from Gibraltar and Operation PEDESTAL to rejoin the Tenth Submarine Flotilla after a refit in the United Kingdom. UTMOST probably sank a southbound enemy merchant ship of 6000 tons off Marittimo on the 10th August.

 

Miscellaneous

 

9. Commander in Chief Mediterranean assumed operational control of all Royal Air Force marine craft employed on air sea rescue duties as from today.

 

 

Sunday, 16th August 1942

 

Operation PEDESTAL – Enemy aircraft Shot Down

 

By Fleet fighters 39 certain and 5 probables

 

By A.A. Gunnery 17 certain and 10 probables

 

By Malta Aircraft 10 certain and 2 probables.

 

2. The following paragraph is extracted from Senior Officer, Force F's report of proceedings:

 

"C.S. 10 is loud in his praise for both Beaufighters and Spitfires from Malta who seemed to do everything possible under the circumstances of being bereft of their Fighter Direction Ships CAIRO and NIGERIA. Long Range Spitfires were out as early as possible on D.4. Force X had a number of Spitfires overhead for the remainder of the journey. They shot down a number of enemy aircraft and undoubtedly greatly reduced the scale of attack."

 

Casualties

 

3. Sunk

 

EAGLE sunk by German U Boat

 

CAIRO torpedoed by U Boat, disabled and sunk by PATHFINDER.

 

MANCHESTER torpedo by E boats and probably mined.

 

FORESIGHT, hit by torpedo bomber, towed, and later sunk by TARTAR.

 

Damaged

 

INDOMITABLE by air attack

 

NIGERIA by U Boats

 

KENYA by U boats or E boats

 

ITHURIEL by ramming U boats

 

WOLVERINE by ramming U boats.

 

4. Merchant Ships

 

Sunk

 

EMPIRE HOPE by bombs or aircraft torpedo

 

CLAN FERGUSON by bombs and E boats

 

DORSET by bombs

 

WAIRANGI by E boats

 

GLENORCHY by E boats

 

ALMERIA LYKES (U.S.) probably by E Boats

 

WAIMARAMA blew up after air attack

 

SANTA ELISA (U.S.) by bombs

 

DEUCALION damaged by bombs and sunk by torpedo bombers.

 

Damaged

 

OHIO (U.S.) by E boat and air attack

 

ROCHESTER STAR by E Boat

 

BRISBANE STAR by torpedo bomber

 

MELBOURNE STAR sustained damaged in WAIMARAMA blowing up.

 

Enemy Losses

 

5. Sunk

 

Italian U boat COBALTO

 

Italian U boat DAGABUR

 

Damaged

 

One 8" Cruiser (BOLZANO)

 

One 6" Cruiser (ATTENDOLO)

 

One U boat

 

Levant

 

6. The Palestinian schooner DANIEL was reported sunk by gunfire from an U boat at 2330 whilst on passage from Haifa to Cyrus. She was carrying petrol and all the crew was saved.

 

7. COVENTRY escorted by JERVIS and PALADIN arrived at Beirut for a short rest period.

 

 

Monday, 17th August 1942

 

Operation BARITONE

 

Reinforcements of 29 Spitfires were flown into Malta from H.M.S. FURIOUS this afternoon. CHARYBDIS, LAFOREY, LOOKOUT, LIGHTNING, ANTELOPE, WISHART, DERWENT, KEPPEL, MALCOLM, BICESTER, ESKIMO, SOMALI, and VENOMOUS provided the escort. One Spitfire crashed on taking off and two others crashed due to engine trouble.

 

LevantMove ROBERTSBRIDGE

 

2. The movement of 7000 troops into Cyprus and 4800 out, began today. In Serial One PRINCESS MARGUERITE carrying approximately a thousand troops was torpedoed and sunk at 1559 in position 32-03N, 32-47E. ANTWERP, also carrying troops, was in company escorted by KELVIN, BEAUFORT, TETCOTT, and HERO. Eleven hundred survivors were picked up by HERO and KELVIN. 49 lives were lost and 59 injured. Serial One was cancelled and all ships returned to Port Said.

 

Red Sea

 

3. DIDO arrived at Massawa. ROBERTS was sailed from Suez for Aden and the Eastern Fleet in accordance with Admiralty's signal timed 1839A of the 16th August.

 

Miscellaneous

 

4. The Principal Sea Transport Officer (Egypt) arrived at Baghdad for a tour of the Persian Gulf ports.

 

 

Thursday, 18th August 1942

 

Operation BARITONE

 

FURIOUS and CHARYBDIS escorted by LAFOREY, LOOKOUT, LIGHTNING, ANTELOPE, WISHART, DERWENT, KEPPEL, MALCOLM, BICESTER, ESKIMO, SOMALI, and VENOMOUS returned to Gibraltar.

 

Operation PEDESTAL

 

2. PENN, BRAHAM, and LEDBURY were sailed at 2100 for Gibraltar at high speed. PENN had completed repairs sustained during the towing operation with OHIO. All merchant ships of the convoy continued unloading their cargo.

 

Levant

 

3. PALADIN whilst hunting an U boat 125 miles north east of Port Said shot down one out of two torpedo bombers which attacked her. The entire crew of this machine, a Savoia 79, were picked up and taken prisoner. KELVIN who had been hunting with PALADIN, returned to Port Said at 0930 with 82 survivors from PRINCESS MARGUERITE.

 

Move ROBERTSBRIDGE

 

4. PRINCESS KATHLEEN, who had replaced PRINCESS MARGUERITE, was sailed from Port Said for Haifa, escorted by ANTWERP, HERO, BEAUFORT, and TETCOTT.

 

 

Wednesday, 19th August 1942

 

Submarines

 

P 44 returned to Malta from patrol and Operation PEDESTAL. At 2307/17th, P 44 torpedoed and sank a southbound tanker which had been previously damaged by air attack in position 302 degrees Lampion 29 miles. This was an excellent piece of air and submarine cooperation which enable P 44 to find her target. The explosion was of extreme violence and even though at 1500 yards distance P 44 sustained damage which caused her to return to harbour.

 

Levant

 

2. PALADIN, now joined by JERVIS, continued an A/S search for the U boat which had sunk the PRINCESS MARGUERITE throughout the night.

 

Massawa

 

3. DIDO docked in the Admiralty Floating Dock today. Additional dockyard labour had been taken south in the ship from Suez for this special case. She had sustained damage aft due to vibration.

 

 

Thursday, 20th August 1942

 

Alexandria

 

KELVIN arrived for quick docking and repairs to her oil fuel tanks.

 

Port Said

 

2. JERVIS carried out an A/S sweep north of Port Said during the night.

 

 

Friday, 21st August 1942

 

Gibraltar

 

PENN, BRAHAM, and LEDBURY arrived at 0930 after an uneventful passage from Malta.

 

Port Said

 

2. PORPOISE arrived in harbour with extensive damage to her batteries. She reported that following a dawn encounter with an Italian destroyer north of Ras et Tin on 19th August, when she was depth charged for two hours, that she could not dive. BELVOIR and HURSLEY were sailed from Alexandria and escorted her into Port Said. Beaufighters gave fighter protection.

 

3. During her patrol PORPOISE laid mines in position 32-42N, 23-05E on the 12th August. Two merchant ships and one CROTONE class minelayer passed through the minefield three minutes later. At 1022, two miles west of the minefield, she sank one merchant ship which she had previously torpedoed. At 1928, 15th August, one southbound merchant ship was torpedoed and sunk in position 34-45N, 21-32E.

 

4. PALADIN carried out an A/S sweep north of Port Said during the night.

 

Red Sea

 

5. The U.S.A. CHARLES K. PINCKNEY on passage from America to Suez with M.T. and ammunition ran aground in position 27-50N, 33-52E on a coral reef. CONFEDERATE was sailed to her assistance, and after partial discharge of her cargo, she was able to be refloated a week later.

 

6. RESOURCE was sailed from Suez to Aden, calling at Port Sudan. She had been lent to the Eastern Fleet.

 

 

Saturday, 22nd August 1942

 

Port Said

 

PALADIN carried out an A/S Sweep north of the harbour throughout the night.

 

2. COVENTRY escorted by 3 HUNTS arrived at 1000 from Beirut, the former immediately transitting the canal.

 

Attack on U Boat

 

3. At 0610 an aircraft claimed three hits on a U boat 040 degrees Port Said 80 miles. COVENTRY on passage detached EXMOOR who was later joined by BEAUFORT and TETCOTT on her arrival off the searched channel. There was no result and the hunt was abandoned at nightfall.

 

H.M.S. ZULU

 

4. ZULU arrived from boiler cleaning at Suez and was sailed at 2000 for Haifa.

 

Operation CERES

 

5. Malta

 

The Vice Admiral, Malta, reported that the unloading of general cargo from ships of the convoy was complete except for about 400 tons in the holds of BRISBANE STAR and ROCHESTER CASTLE, both of whom had been torpedoed. There was no enemy interference during the whole of this period. Thirty two thousand tons was unloaded, dispersed, and cleared from dumps mainly by the Army in eight days.

 

Submarines

 

6. P 211 returned to Gibraltar after a short patrol off the east coast of Sardinia and operation PEDESTAL. On the 16th a 50 ton sailing vessel was sunk by gunfire and the following day a 125 ton ammunition schooner was blown up by gunfire; both of these were in the Gulf of Crosei. An empty tanker of 10,000 tons was torpedoed south of Cavoli Island on the 18th August.

 

Declaration of War

 

7. As from p.m. today, Brazil considered herself at war with Germany and Italy.

 

Red Sea

 

8. COVENTRY arrived at Suez for A.A. duties south of Canal .

 

 

Sunday, 23rd August 1942

 

Port Said

 

CROOME escorting S.S. AJAX arrived at 0945. CROOME was sailed for Alexandria at 2000.

 

Malta

 

2. RORQUAL arrived with 48 tons of petrol and other stores for the garrison. P 34 also arrived after taking part in Operation PEDESTAL and carrying out short but eventful patrol.

 

Canal Area

 

3. The Flag Officer Commanding, Red Sea and Canal Area was informed that the netting of the Suez Canal project was to cease, as it was considered that the effort was not worth while. Spotting from shore posts was found adequate.

 

 

Monday, 24th August 1942

 

Port Said

 

KELVIN rejoined Force A after docking at Alexandria.

 

Levant

 

BEAUFORT and TETCOTT escorted CITY OF LINCOLN from Beirut to Port Said.

 

Submarines

 

3. P 43 returned from patrol off Western Greece. At 0343 on the 20th August she estimated one hit on a 5000 ton southbound merchant ship in position 38-57N, 20-24E.

 

Red Sea

 

4. Local coast watchers reported a submarine off Siyara (about 20 miles North East of Berbera) during the afternoon. This was substantiated the following day by a patrol with a British officer. The submarine was 800 yards from the shore and was seen to move out to seaward and submerge. Air reconnaissance was carried out but found nothing. POOLE was sent from Aden to carry out an A/S search.

 

 

 

Tuesday, 25th August 1942

 

Western Desert

 

There was every indication that the enemy was about to renew his attack. Considerable numbers of mechanized transports and tanks were in the forward area.

 

Port Said

 

2. Moonlight smoke screening trials were carried out over the harbour, with a view to ascertaining their effect on a defensive measure.

 

3. BELVOIR arrived Alexandria.

 

4. THRASHER escorted by JERVIS and KELVIN carried out diving trials off Port Said, returning to harbour on completion.

 

5. A U boat was sighted by aircraft on the surface at 1315 in position 32-03N, 31-40E. JERVIS, JAVELIN, and KELVIN carried out a search during the day but without result.

 

6. Force A came to short notice for steam in view of possible enemy attack in the Western Desert.

 

Dodecanese

 

7. The British Naval Attache, Ankara reported that the Turkish General Staff confirmed that two Italian cruisers with escort had arrived Leros and other cruisers were expected. Photographic reconnaissance did not, however, confirm this.

 

M.T.B.'s

 

M.T.B. No. 75 commissioned today at Port Said.

 

Red Sea

 

9. DIDO was sailed from Massawa after completion of repairs to her underwater plates aft. These repairs were completed in six days, a good deal less than anticipated, largely due to the efforts of Captain Ellsberg, U.S.N., head of the North African Mission at Massawa. Officers and ratings were sent in watches to the Rest Camp at Asmara. Massawa at this time is extremely hot and DIDO found conditions in the Floating Dock most unpleasant.

 

10. ARPHA was sailed from Port Sudan to carry out a reconnaissance of ports and anchorages in the Gulf of Suez, to find suitable unloading berths for military stores.

 

 

Wednesday, 26th August 1942

 

Alexandria

 

ERIDGE and ALDENHAM carried out an anti shipping sweep to the westward of Alexandria and in addition carried out a short bombardment of the Daba Area. As no spotting aircraft were available results were unobserved.

 

Port Said

 

2. Motor Launch No. 350 commissioned for service today.

 

3. At 1225 an aircraft claimed two hits on a U boat in position 31-26N, 33-30E. PAKENHAM and KELVIN carried out a search for it without success.

 

4. Force A reverted to normal notice for steam.

 

Levant

 

5. In a southbound convoy consisting of four merchant ships escorted by ANTWERP, SOUTHERN SEAS, PROTEA, KLO, and GLOXINIA the British S.S. EMPIRE KUMARI was torpedoed by a U boat in position 31-53N, 34-10E at 1840. She was taken in tow by GLOXINIA and later BRIGAND, reaching Haifa the following day. Her engines were completely wrecked. ZULU and PROTEA acted as close screen during towing operations. There were no other casualties in the convoy; BRIGAND had two torpedoes fired at her and following morning, which missed. The EMPIRE KUMARI sank later in the outer anchorage of Haifa. Her Master had refused to allow the ship to be beached. Later it was discovered that pumps could not compete with the water until salvage parties could board her.

 

 

Wednesday, 27th August 1942

 

Alexandria

 

CROOME and HURSLEY patrolled to the westward as far as Ras Kenayia but found nothing.

 

Port Said

 

2. JERVIS and JAVELIN carried out an A/S search to the westward of Port Said with air cooperation during the night.

 

Motor Torpedo Boats

 

3. Motor Torpedo Boat 76 was commissioned at Port Said today.

 

 

Thursday, 28th August 1942

 

Alexandria

 

ERIDGE and ALDENHAM carried out an anti shipping sweep to the westward, but sighted nothing.

 

Move ROBERTSBRIDGE

 

2. S.S. PRINCESS KATHLEEN escorted by BELVOIR, DULVERTON, EXMOOR, and BEAUFORT arrived Port Said at 0730 completing the final serial of the operation.

 

Port Said

 

3. DULVERTON and EXMOOR were sailed at 1900 for Haifa. DIDO arrived after docking at Massawa.

 

 

Saturday, 29th August 1942

 

Operation M.G. Six

 

ERIDGE, CROOME, and HURSLEY carried out a bombardment of the Daba area at 0415. This was successfully carried out, several fires being started amongst stores and Motor Transport. On completion of the bombardment, ERIDGE was torpedoed by what appeared to be a one man torpedo boat in position 31-07N, 28-26E.

 

2. ALDENHAM had been acting as E boat cover during the operation. ERIDGE was hit in the after engine room and was unable to steer or steam and was taken in tow by ALDENHAM. From 0615 till 1305 the force was continuously attacked by enemy aircraft in spite of fighter protection. The force reached Alexandria at 1700. Casualties in ERIDGE were five ratings killed and five wounded. The one man torpedo boat was destroyed by CROOME and ERIDGE and an E Boat was shortly afterwards destroyed by a Swordfish from 815 Squadron.

 

Alexandria

 

3. A few enemy aircraft dropped bombs in the Mex area without causing damage.

 

Port Said

 

4. BEAUFORT and BELVOIR were sailed for Alexandria at 1300.

 

Haifa

 

5. The Fighting French sloop LA MOQUEUSE was paid off and taken in hand for an extensive refit.

 

6. Moonlight smoke screening trials were carried out over the harbour.

 

Red Sea

 

7. ORION escorting W.S. 21 P. arrived at Aden. She had completed an extensive refit in the U.S.A. and United Kingdom after being seriously damaged in the Battle of Crete. She sailed later in the day for Suez as A.A. escort in company with EMPRESS OF JAPAN.

 

8. S.S. CAIRO CITY was seriously damaged by fire in Suez Bay from unknown causes.

 

Swedish Relief Ships

 

9. The following ships arrived at Piraeus from Gothenburg and Montreal with wheat supplies for Greece and had been granted safe conduct by the belligerent powers:

 

S.S. FORMOSA, CAMELIA, and EROS.

 

 

Sunday, 30th August 1942

 

Western Desert

 

Photographic reconnaissance of Tobruk showed today a total of 54 F boats in harbour, the highest number so far recorded.

 

Operation GELDING

 

2. M.T.B.'s 315 (Senior Officer), 311, 312, 307, 305, and 316 were sailed from Alexandria to attack enemy shipping en route to North Africa from the Aegean. The last three M.T.B.s mentioned acted as tankers to refuel the others west of Alexandria.

 

Malta

 

3. CLYDE arrived with petrol stores and some aircraft torpedoes.

 

Levant

 

4. The following ships were escorting convoys:

 

Northbound – H.M.S. SNAPDRAGON, H.M.S.A.S. SOUTHERN MAID, H.M.S.A.S. SOUTHERN ISLES, H.M.S. CUMBRAE, and H.M.S. BURRA.

 

Southbound - H.M.S. ERICA, H.M.S. GLOXINIA, H.M.S. ISLAY, H.M.S. KLO, and H.H.M.S. SAKTOURIS

 

 

Monday, 31st August 1942

 

Western Desert

 

The enemy attack in the Western Desert began at 0030 today after a long period of static warfare.

 

Port Said

 

2. Force A came to short notice for steam.

 

Malta

 

3. During August, the R.N.A.S., flying Hurricane Bombers carried out four successful sorties over enemy aerodromes in Sicily.

 

Cyprus

 

4. At 0530 an explosion occurred in a loaded military petrol lighter lying alongside the pier at Larnaca. The lighter was burnt out and slight damage was done to the pier. It was considered that the explosion was due to an accident and not sabotage. One man was killed.

 

Red Sea

 

5. During August, H.M.S. ENDEAVOUR completed a survey of Mersa Halaib anchorage.

 

Submarines

 

Our submarine were disposed as follows:

 

At Malta – P 35 (damaged)

 

On passage to patrol area off Kithera – UNA

 

On passage from minelaying operations off Corfu to Beirut – RORQUAL

 

On passage off Cephalonia – UTMOST

 

On passage to patrol off Messina – P 42

 

On patrol north of Ras el Hilal – P 46

 

On patrol Tobruk area – THRASHER

 

On passage to Tobruk area – TRAVELLER

 

On passage to Aegean – H.H.M.S. PAPANICOLIS

 

At Beirut - TURBULENT, TAKU, PROTEUS, and H.H.M.S. NEREUS

 

At Port Said – PORPOISE

 

At Ismailia – H.H.M.S. KATSONIS (refitting)

 

Axis Shipping Losses

 

7. During the month, 13 ships totaling 67,600 tons and 8 ships totaling 50,200 tons were sunk and damaged respectively.

 

 

SUMMARY OF EVENTS FOR August 1942

 

GENERAL

 

The land situation in the Western Desert remained static until the last day of the month when the enemy launched his attack. He had brought up a large number of paratroops into Libya which so far have been utilized as infantry. As Alexandria was still within escorted bomber range the Fleet continued to remain dispersed between Haifa and Port Said. A force of four HUNTS and one Flotilla of M.T.B.s was based on Alexandria throughout the month.

 

2. The main event during August was the passage of a convoy to Malta from Gibraltar. Our losses were undoubtedly heavy, but after strenuous efforts, five merchant ships, including the tanker, reached Malta. With drastic cuts it was estimated that they could last out until the end of December. Petrol, though, was still very short. A diversionary convoy was sailed from Port Said and Haifa at the same time as that in the west, which turned back to the westward of Cyprus. Subsequently a bombardment of Rhodes was carried out by a small force of cruisers.

 

Alexandria

 

3. Offensive sweeps to the westward against E Boats were frequently carried out by two HUNTS, although all were without incident. Two bombardments of the Daba area were successfully completed. M.T.B.s landed a sabotage raiding party in the El Daba area causing some damage to the enemy's trucks and supply dumps. Plans for blocking Mersa Matruh reached an advanced stage, but were finally abandoned, primarily due to the impossibility of providing fighter cover, and the presence of strong coastal defences.

 

Central Mediterranean

 

4. Submarines and aircraft attacks continued to interfere with the enemy's supply lines to Libya. The resulting figure of 13 ships definitely sunk, totally 67,600 tons, was encouraging.

 

5. An example of good air and submarine cooperation was afforded by P 44's sinking of a loaded enemy tanker which had been stopped and damaged in the vicinity of Lampion.

 

6. PORPOISE laid a minefield in the Gulf of Bomba in the path of an approaching convoy. She subsequently torpedoed and sank two laden merchant ships.

 

Levant

 

7. U boats were active but their results were not commensurate with their losses. SIKH, ZULU, CROOME, and TETCOTT destroyed the German U Boat 372 after many hours of hunting. She was forced to surface as a result of depth charges, surrendered, and quickly sank badly damaged. It is interesting to note that this U Boat had previously sunk MEDWAY in June.

 

8. An Italian U Boat, probably the SCIRE, was sunk by ISLAY off the Haifa swept channel. There were no survivors and she appeared to be fitted for the carriage of Human torpedoes. Diving and subsequent searches failed to reveal the actual presence of any Human Torpedoes; two bodies were, however, recovered wearing escape apparatus. JAVELIN made a very promising attack on a U boat west of Cyprus and an aircraft claimed hits on another north of Port Said.

 

9. The enemy's net gain for the definite loss of two U boats was one merchant ship and two schooners sunk.

 

10. The submarine base at Beirut was completed and working satisfactorily. It was capable of fuelling and operating one Flotilla of submarines, though dockings and battery refits have to be carried out elsewhere.

 

11. An operation for the relief of personnel took place during the month. S.S. PRINCESS MARGUERITE with over a thousand personnel on board was unfortunately sunk by an U boat shortly after leaving Port Said at the beginning of the move. There were over a hundred casualties, including 49 killed, nearly all of whom were military personnel.

 

12. The Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron carried out several exercises between Port Said and Haifa.

 

Red Sea

 

13. DIDO was docked in the Admiralty Floating Dock at Massawa for repairs to her plates aft.

 

14. Nineteen Italian internees were intercepted by ARPHA and SAGITTA off the Yemen Coast south of Jedda.

 

Malta

 

15. OTUS, RORQUAL, and CLYDE carried supplies of petrol, aircraft torpedoes and ammunition for the garrison. The ships of the convoy were all unloaded without enemy air interference.

 

16. FURIOUS flew in Spitfire reinforcements on two occasions, before and after Operation PEDESTAL.

 

Changes on the Station

 

17. RESOURCE left for the Eastern Fleet

 

ROBERTS left for Freetown

 

OTUS left for repairs in the United Kingdom.

 

Casualties in the Eastern Mediterranean

 

18. THORN overdue and presumed lost

 

PORPOISE damaged by depth charges.

 

 


 

 

MEDITERRANEAN WAR DIARY – September 1942

 

 

Tuesday, 1st September 1942

 

Operation Gelding

 

During the night 31/8 August/1 September, M.T.B.s 315, 311, and 312, who had reached a position south of Crete were forced to turn back owing to the weather. On the return journey to Alexandria, enemy aircraft made repeated attacked on this force, on attacked included ten aircraft; all were repulsed and no damage or casualties were sustained by the M.T.B.s who arrived at Alexandria at 1040.

 

Western Desert

 

2. Heavy fighting took place throughout the day. The enemy continued to make slight progress in the Southern sector of the El Alamein line, but suffered severely in tank losses.

 

Submarines

 

3. P 35 returned to Malta from patrol and reported that at 0748/27 in position 35-39N, 23-05E sank a 6500 ton southbound merchant ship; this ship was in a convoy of two merchant ships escorted by two destroyers.

 

4. TURBULENT returned from a 27 day patrol in the vicinity of Crete and Western Greece. There were many sightings but only one opportunity for an attack occurred, which TURBULENT took. At 1633 on the 17th August in position 36-35N, 21-34E she obtained one hit on each of two large merchant ships escorted by three destroyers. During the course of her patrol, two special operations were carried out. On the night of 8th/9th August, two men were brought off from the southeast corner of Crete and on the night of 12th/13th August, two Greeks were landed in the Gulf of Arcadia on the western coast of Greece.

 

Yugo Slav Submarines

 

5. The Yugo Slav submarine NEBOSCJA was handed over to the British Admiralty on loan under the following conditions:

 

1). Available Yugo Slav members of the crew will be embarked in the submarine.

 

2). When a fully trained Yugo Slav crew is available, the submarine will be returned.

 

3). This submarine can be used for any purpose considered fit by the Admiralty.

 

4). The Yugo Slav flag will be flown.

 

Aden

 

6. H.M.S. RESOURCE was sailed from Aden for Kilindini. She had been lent to the Eastern Fleet, as during the present situation, the Commander in Chief considered she was unable to do her full share of repair work in the Mediterranean.

 

U Boat Activity

 

7. A British aircraft sighted a submarine on the surface at noon in the Cape Guardafui area.

 

The British S.S. GAZCON was torpedoed and sunk by an enemy (n.b. Japanese inserted in ink) in position 13-01N, 50-41E at 2315. Survivors were picked up by S.S. GRAINTON and landed at Aden on the 4th September. This ship was on passage from New York to Alexandria with a cargo consisting chiefly of motor transport, tanks, planes, and ammunition.

 

 

Wednesday, 2nd September 1942

 

Western Desert

 

There were signs that the enemy's attack was failing. Meanwhile the R.A.F. carried out very heavy bombing attacks on his armour and motor transport.

 

Alexandria

 

2. H.M.S. CROOME and HURSLEY carried out a patrol for a suspected enemy submarine to seaward. M.L.s 1032 and 1083 patrolled close inshore.

 

Malta

 

3. The Naval Air Squadron secured two hits on a medium sized merchant vessel off Cape Spartivento.

 

Port Said

 

4. The hospital ship MAINE was sailed from Ismailia to Port Said for bunkering and storing; on completion she returned to her former anchorage.

 

Miscellaneous

 

5. The Principal Sea Transport Officer (Egypt) returned after a tour of the Persian Gulf ports.

 

 

Thursday, 3rd September 1942

 

Western Desert

 

The enemy who had advanced in the Southern sector of the Alamein line was unable to penetrate our armour on the Ruweisat Ridge. He decided to cut his losses and began a withdrawal behind his minefields.

 

Levant

 

2. At 2000, 2nd September, Rear Admiral Commanding, Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron in CLEOPATRA with DIDO, ARETHUSA, JERVIS, KELVIN, JAVELIN, AND PAKENHAM sailed from Port Said to carry out a night bombardment exercise with EURYALUS, DULVERTON, EXMOOR, HERO, and TETCOTT who had sailed from Haifa at the same time. On completion, EURYALUS returned to Port Said and DIDO to Haifa. The remaining units as before.

 

3. The Palestinian S.S. ARNON was attacked by gunfire from an enemy submarine in position 34-59N, 35-51E. The ship was beached and then torpedoed. She was sailing unescorted from Tripoli (Syria) to Palestine. All the crew were saved. The ship was a total loss. Two schooners were also attacked in this area; one was sunk and the other was later towed to Rouad.

 

Red Sea

 

4. The Master of the S.S. BRITISH GENIUS on arrival at Aden, reported that a torpedo exploded near is ship in position 13-00N, 48-04E at 100 G.M.T.

 

Miscellaneous

 

5. The Italian Hospital ship GRADISCA was attacked by a Beaufort in error at position 35-56N, 24-33E. The ship was machine gunned and torpedoes were fired, but no damage resulted.

 

 

 

Friday, 4th September 1942

 

Western Desert

 

BEAUFORT and ALDENHAM carried out an anti shipping sweep to the westward, but found nothing. A.S.V. aircraft patrolled close inshore to signal reports of shipping, if found.

 

Italian Sabotage Landing

 

2. During the night, an Italian sabotage party of one officer and thirteen other ranks from the San Marco Marines landed sixteen miles west of Agami from an E boat. This was quite close to the Tactical Eighth Army Headquarters. The water pipe line and railway were cut. The entire party were later taken prisoners. Two enemy E boats are known to have taken part in the operation, of which one turned back. H.M.S. BEAUFORT on patrol, did, however, encounter one of these but incorrectly assumed it to be an H.S.L. Launch known to be on patrol.

 

Attack on Enemy Convoy

 

3. An enemy convoy of three merchant ships with a destroyer escort was sighted at 0105 in position 33-18N, 24-15E, steering south. These ships were attacked by Wellingtons and Liberators throughout the night, and at dawn by Hudsons. One tanker and two merchant ships were definitely sunk. Hospital ships north of Tobruk were seen picking up survivors. In addition to all, one destroyer was seriously damaged. H.M.S. P 34 claimed one hit on the rear ship of the convoy, and was accurately counter attacked, forcing her to return to Malta with some damage. This was her last patrol on the Station before refitting in the United Kingdom.

 

Alexandria

 

4. A Seaman Guard Battalion was formed for guarding vulnerable points in the Alexandria area and came under the orders of General Officer Commanding, British Troops in Egypt. This was a result of the Egyptian Army, who would no longer undertake to guard vulnerable points on land in the event of enemy attacks on the Delta.

 

Port Said

 

5. H.M.S. KELVIN picked up the crew of a Bisley Blenheim of the 15th S.A.A.F. Squadron which had crashed north of Damietta the previous evening whilst on A/S patrol.

 

6. H.M.S. EURYALUS transitted the Suez Canal on passage south.

 

Enemy U boats

 

7. The following signal was made by the Commander in Chief to the Mediterranean Station:

 

"Enemy U boats in the Mediterranean suffered greater loss by sinking and damage during August than in any month since June 1940.

 

This results in the greatest credit on all Naval and Air Force personnel engaged in this work and I congratulate them on their fine achievement."

 

Malta

 

8. The Commander in Chief sent a telegram to the Governor of Malta expressing the gratitude (n.b. pen correction, gratitude crossed out and "congratulations" is inserted) of the whole Mediterranean Fleet to the people of Malta on the occasion of the anniversary of the Great Siege of Malta.

 

Red Sea

 

9. The Commodore, Aden, reported that POOLE was being employed on convoy escort as far eastward as 500 miles. She was the only escort vessel available.

 

M.T.B.'s

 

10. Motor Torpedo Boat No. 65 commissioned today.

 

 

Saturday, 5th September 1942

 

Western Desert

 

In view of last night's enemy landing, increased military patrols were established between Burg El Arab and Agami.

 

Alexandria

 

2. H.M.S. CROOME and HURWORTH on E boat patrol to the westward during the night, met nothing.

 

Red Sea

 

3. In the view of the presence of enemy U boats in the Gulf of Aden, H.M.S. HERO and TETCOTT were sailed during the night from Haifa to Aden as A/S reinforcements.

 

Turkey

 

4. S.S. NIRPURA arrived at Iskanderun with a cargo of over four hundred horses from Australia. She was escorted from Port Said by the Free French ship COMMANDANT DOMINE and the Greek destroyer PAUL KONDOURITIS. Over ninety horses had died in passage. At 0814/4, she had struck an unchartered shoal in position 32-23.5N, 34-51.2E. No damage occurred.

 

Red Sea

 

5. Commodore in Charge, Aden, was ordered to make arrangements for setting up R.D.F. stations on Dameira and Perim Islands.

 

Commander in Chief

 

6. Mr. Wendell Wilkie stayed with Admiral Harwood at Admiralty House.

 

 

Sunday, 6th September 1942

 

Alexandria

 

H.M. Ships CROOME and HURWORTH carried out an anti shipping search to the westward of Alexandria during the night, but found nothing.

 

Levant

 

2. An unidentified schooner was sunk by gunfire from a U boat at 1128 in position 35-28N, 35-40E.

 

Red Sea: 158th M/S Group

 

3. The minesweeping trawler AIGLON arrived at Aden to join the Mediterranean Fleet.

 

 

Monday, 7th September 1942

 

Western Desert

 

There was little activity during the day. The enemy was practically back on to his former positions on the El Alamein line.

 

Alexandria

 

2. H.M.S. BEAUFORT and ALDENHAM carried out a shipping sweep to the westward during the night, but found nothing.

 

Submarines

 

3. H.M.S. UTMOST and P 46 arrived at Malta from unsuccessful patrols in the Central Mediterranean.

 

4. H.M.S. RORQUAL returned from patrol off Corfu. Fifteen mines were laid in position 39-17N, 20-18E on 30th August. At 1529/30th August, she probably sank a lightly laden southbound merchant ship in the vicinity of Corfu. Owing to defects to her minelaying gear further operations could not be carried out.

 

5. S.S. VACPORT, escorted by DELPHINIUM, passage from Haifa to Beirut, grounded in position 33-24N, 35-13E. She was subsequently refloated with assistance of H.M. Tug TIENSTIN.

 

6. H.M.S. JAVELIN and PALADIN carried out an A/S search for a U boat sighted in position 31-46N, 32-03E.

 

7. The Palestinian schooner SALINA was sunk by gunfire from a submarine at 1115 in position 35-31N, 35-42E. All the crew were saved.

 

8. In view of recent U boat activity two M.L.'s were sailed from Beirut to Tripoli (Syria).

 

Fleet Air Arm

 

9. The following message was sent by the Air Officer Commander in Chief, Middle East to Albacore Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm:

 

"Please convey to 826 and 821 Squadrons my sincere congratulations on their magnificent work with and for the Wellingtons. There is no doubt that these continuous night attacks were one of the decisive factors in crushing the enemy's attack. The successful conclusion of this phase of the land battle may well prove to be a turning point in the war in Africa."

 

 

Tuesday, 8th September 1942

 

Alexandria

 

H.M. Ships BEAUFORT and ALDENHAM repeated their patrol to the westward during the night with incident.

 

Port Said

 

2. H.M. Ships JERVIS and KELVIN took over the A/S hunt for a suspected U boat north of Port Said from JAVELIN and PALADIN. This was unsuccessful.

 

Suez

 

3. H.E.M.S. EL AMIRA FAWZIA which had been sunk in an air raid at the end of July was refloated.

 

Station Appointment

 

4. Captain A.G.V. Hubback, R.N. assumed command as Captain Coastal Forces, Eastern Mediterranean. This included all M.T.B.s, Fairmiles, and M.L. Flotillas on the Station.

 

 

Wednesday, 9th September 1942

 

Western Desert

 

There was little fighting, the enemy being on the defensive on all fronts. In the south, we were now holding the Munassib-Himeimat line.

 

Port Said

 

2. Rear Admiral Commanding, Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron in CLEOPATRA with ARETHUSA, ORION, and destroyers carried out exercises north of Port Said. On completion, ORION escorted by SIKH and ZULU was sailed fro Haifa. H.M.S. CLEOPATRA had to return early due to strained plates aft. H.M.S. COVENTRY damaged her stern in collision with A Lighter 120 in Port Said Harbour.

 

Levant

 

3. All schooner traffic north of Tripoli was suspended. The following ships were escorting convoys.

 

Northbound: SNAPDRAGON, H.M.S.A.S. SOUTHERN ISLES, SOUTHERN MAID and BURRA

 

Southbound: GLOXINIA, DELPHINIUM, H.M.S.A.S. SOUTHERN SEAS

 

From Beirut to Famagusta: H.H.M.S. IERAX and F.F.S. COMMANDANT DOMINE

 

 

Thursday, 10th September 1942

 

Submarines

 

H.M.S. CLYDE returned to Gibraltar after a storing trip to Malta.

 

 

Friday, 11th September 1942

 

Levant

 

S.S. FOUDIEH escorted by H.H.M.S. IERAX and F.F.S. COMMANDANT DOMINE arrived at Famagusta from Beirut with 250 service personnel.

 

Suez

 

2. H.E.M.S. FAWZIA which had been sunk in an air raid on Suez Bay at the end of July was raised by S.S. CONFEDERATE.

 

 

Saturday, 12th September 1942

 

Operation AGREEMENT – Preliminary Movements

 

A combined operation under the command of Captain (D), Twenty second Flotilla to destroy shipping and port facilities in Tobruk Harbour

 

Force A

 

H.M. Ships SIKH and ZULU were sailed from Haifa to Alexandria arriving after dark. Both ships completed with fuel and extra ammunition. The strictest secrecy was maintained in order not to disclose the presence of the Royal Marines

 

Force C

 

Eighteen M.T.B.s and three Fairmiles were sailed from Alexandria at dusk with 150 support troops to take part in Operation AGREEMENT. One M.T.B. was forced to return with engine defects, her troops being transferred to an M.L.

 

Force D

 

H.M. Ships COVENTRY, DULVERTON, HURSLEY, BELVOIR, CROOME, and HERO sailed at 2000 from Port Said to rendezvous with Captain (D), Twenty Second Destroyer Flotilla off Alexandria.

 

Western Desert

 

2. Wellingtons mined the entrance and channel in Mersa Matruh harbour during the night.

 

Change of Flag Officers

 

3. Rear Admiral A.J. Power, C.B., C.V.O. relieved Rear Admiral Philip L. Vian, K.B.E., D.S.O. as Rear Admiral Commanding the Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron.

 

Miscellaneous

 

4. 201 Naval Cooperation Group Rear Headquarters at Abu Sweir returned to Combined Headquarters, Alexandria.

 

 

Sunday, 13th September 1942

 

Operation AGREEMENT

 

Captain (D), Twenty Second Destroyer Flotilla in SIKH with ZULU, HURWORTH, BEAUFORT, EXMOOR, and ALDENHAM were sailed from Alexandria at 0600 to rendezvous with COVENTRY and the remainder of the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla.

 

Operation M.G. Seven

 

2. H.M.S. DIDO escorted by JERVIS, JAVELIN, PAKENHAM, PALADIN, and KELVIN was sailed from Port Said at 1500 for a bombardment in support of the Operation.

 

Submarines

 

3. H.M.S. P 34 returned from patrol with slight damage after an unsuccessful attack on a heavily escorted southbound convoy of three merchant ships in position 36-17N, 21-03E at 0921/8th September.

 

4. P 42 returned from her patrol and reported that at 2004 on 7th September, she had shelled a bridge over the Amendolia River, west of Spartivento, securing twelve hits. On the evening of 8th September, P 42 bombarded a bridge near the railway in the Gulf of Squallios since no trains appeared.

 

Special Operation

 

5. Captain R. Wilson, D.S.C., Royal Artillery of the Special Boat section with a new type of self propelled depth keeping limpet was landed off Crotone Harbour on the night of 3rd/4th September; due to A/S craft hunting, P 42 had to withdraw for some hours, and subsequent search did not locate him.

 

Port Said

 

6. M.L. 351 commissioned for service today.

 

Levant

 

7. The Turkish ferry DERINGE on passage from Beirut to Alexandretta ran aground in position 326 Latakia 3.6 miles. H.H.M.S. SAKTOURIS was escorting her with the new Greek Commander in Chief.

 

Change of Flag Officer

 

8. Commodore P. Todd, C.B.E., D.S.O. relieved Rear Admiral I.G. Glennie and assumed duties of Commodore (Destroyers), Mediterranean

 

 

Monday, 14th September 1942

 

Operation AGREEMENT

 

Intentions

 

H.M. Ships SIKH and ZULU, with a force of 350 Royal Marines, were to land north of Tobruk harbour and the M.T.B.s with 150 support troops for our land forces were to land in an inlet outside the south end of Tobruk Harbour.

 

2. On completion of the demolitions, the forces would withdraw to the destroyers, who would spend the day inside Tobruk covered by the enemy gun positions manned by us.

 

Sequence of Events

 

3. Out forces proceeding to the westward were not attacked by enemy aircraft, though an enemy reconnaissance did sight COVENTRY and her Fifth Destroyer Flotilla before SIKH and ZULU had joined.

 

4. During the night, the military force, which had proceeded overland from Kufra, penetrated Tobruk perimeter and at 0120 reported that they had captured the gun positions at Marsa Umm Es Sciausc, an inlet outside the south end of Tobruk Harbour. Unless this objective had been attained, the operation would have had to be discontinued.

 

5. As cover for the operation, a heavy air attack on Tobruk took place from 2130 to 0300. Many fires were started and several particularly large explosions took place.

 

6. At 0130, TAKU reported that the weather was suitable for landings by Assault Craft at Mersa Mreira. The landing of the Beach Marking Party in Folbots failed due to swell.

 

7. Only two of the seventeen M.T.B.s succeeded in landing their troops; both of these grounded and one was unable to get off and had to be destroyed. Many of the M.T.B.s attempted to enter Tobruk Harbour, but failed owning to the heavy gun opposition and searchlights.

 

8. At 0400 destroyers landed their first flight of about 200 at Mersa Mreira, and this force got ashore unopposed, later they met heavy opposition. It appears possible that the assault craft landed in the wrong bay and were wrecked, probably losing direction as a result of the heavy fires ashore. They did not return for the second flight. SIKH closed to one mile off the shore to locate them. At this close range, SIKH was sighted and at 0530 was engaged by shore batteries, her steering gear and starboard engine being put out of action. ZULU took her in tow, but further hits parted the tow. At 0800, Captain (D), Twenty Second Destroyer Flotilla ordered ZULU to part company and return to Alexandria. SIKH was last seen close to the shore, heavily on fire and being repeatedly hit, but firing all guns. The sinking of SIKH and enforced departure of ZULU completed wrecked the withdrawal plans.

 

9. The Royal Marines fought for some time North of Tobruk town and advanced towards the harbour as intended but eventually they must have run out of ammunition. Some explosions as of demolitions were seen and heard on shore after daylight. The majority of SIKH's crew and the remaining Royal Marines managed to get ashore and are prisoners of war.

 

10. The Military forces are known to have held the area south end of the harbour until 0600 on the 14th when the M.T.B.s left.

 

11. The latter were repeatedly attacked by high level and dive bombers; apart from a few near misses they came through unscathed.

 

12. At 0900 COVENTRY and the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla were ordered to return to the westward to support ZULU, who was retiring to the north east at high speed. ALDENHAM and BELVOIR were detached to Alexandria to fuel. The M.T.B.s retired in groups of four or less towards Alexandria.

 

13. COVENTRY was hit by enemy aircraft at 1140 and became heavily on fire. At 1213, she was abandoned. DULVERTON, EXMOOR, HURWORTH took off survivors and proceeded to Alexandria. (N.B. pencil notation: EXMOOR and HURWORTH scored out and BEAUFORT added with a question mark). CROOME and HURSLEY tried to sink her by depth charges and gunfire. ZULU, after having avoided some eighty attacks joined CROOME and HURSLEY at 1515 and sank COVENTRY with torpedoes in position 32-45N, 28-17E.

 

14. ZULU was hit at 1615 by the last bomb in the last attack and disabled. HURSLEY took her in tow, but at 2154 she sank in position 32-00N, 28-56E.

 

15. At the same time as the attack on Tobruk L.R.D.G. forces with a small naval demolition party were to attack shipping and block Benghazi harbour.

 

Operation M.G. SEVEN

 

16. As a diversion to Operation AGREEMENT a bombardment of the Daba area was carried out by DIDO at 0001 for thirty minutes. 350 rounds were fired, 50% hits being in the main target area. JERVIS, JAVELIN, PALADIN, PAKENHAM, and KELVIN escorted DIDO. The entire force returned to Port Said at 1530 without incident.

 

Western Mediterranean

 

17. A Sunderland sank a U boat at 1510 in position 37-28N, 04-35E. The U boat was sighted on the surface and opened fire at a range of two miles, it was seen to submerge with a portion of her crew on deck, finally sank bows first. Thirty six men were counted in the water.

 

Levant

 

18. Schooner traffic north of Tripoli (Syria) was resumed.

 

19. The Turkish ferry steamer DERINGE was refloated and continued her voyage Alexandretta.

 

Submarines

 

20. H.M.S. UNA returned from a patrol in the Kithera area and reported that at 1106 on 10th September in position 35-11.5N, 23-28.5E she probably sank a 4000 ton northbound merchant ship similar to the RAMB class.

 

 

Tuesday, 15th September 1942

 

Operation AGREEMENT

 

By 1500, twelve M.T.B.s and one M.L. had returned to harbour.

 

2. The following ships were lost during the operation.

 

H.M.S. COVENTRY

 

H.M.S. SIKH

 

H.M.S. ZULU

 

M.T.B.s 308, 310, 312, 314

 

M.L.s 352 and 353

 

Slightly damaged

 

H.M.S. CROOME and M.L. 354

 

The majority of the M.T.B.s suffered minor damage as a result of these operations.

 

Casualties in H.M. Ships were:

 

H.M.S. COVENTRY Killed and Missing 3 officers, 61 ratings

 

H.M.S. ZULU Killed and Missing 4 officers and 34 ratings

 

M.T.B.s and M.L.s Killed and Missing 8 officers and 41 ratings

 

H.M.S. SIKH Killed and Missing 2 officers and 20 ratings. Some 200 captured

 

Western Desert

 

3. Units of the L.R.D.G. occupied Jalo Oasis, destroying considerable material and subsequently retiring.

 

Submarines

 

4. The Greek submarine PAPANICOLIS returned from a patrol in the Aegean. During the night of 4th/5th September an aerodrome sabotage part was successfully landed near Rhodes. The remainder of this patrol was uneventful.

 

Canal Area

 

5. H.M.S. EURYALUS arrived at Port Said. The Flag of the Rear Admiral Commanding, Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron was transferred to EURYALUS from CLEOPATRA who was sailed for refit at Massawa.

 

 

Wednesday, 16th September 1942

 

Port Said

 

H.M.S. BEAUFORT and BELVOIR, escorting S.S. LOWLANDER arrived from Alexandria.

 

Canal Area

 

2. H.M.S. CLEOPATRA transitted the Canal on passage to Massawa

 

Levant

 

3. H.M.S. EXMOOR and ALDENHAM arrived at Haifa from Alexandria.

 

Red Sea

 

4. H.M.S. PETARD arrived at Aden to join the Mediterranean Station and was sailed to Port Said.

 

5. S.S. OCEAN HONOUR was torpedoed, shelled, and sunk by an U boat at 0600 in position 12-48N, 50-50E She was bound for the Middle East and had a cargo which chiefly consisted of M.T. and ammunition.

 

 

Thursday, 17th September 1942

 

Submarines

 

H.M.S. P 45 returned to Malta after a patrol in the Anti Kithera area and north of Crete.

 

Suez

 

2. H.M.S. BEAUFORT arrived from Port Said for boiler cleaning and a short refit.

 

 

Friday, 18th September 1942

 

Malta

 

Beaufighters bombed and left stationary a 2,000 ton merchant ship off Kelibia. Reconnaissance on the following day showed a very large quantity of wreckage in this area. Beaufighters also attacked three schooners with bombs and cannon fire east of Tripoli. All the ships were hit and one was left stationary and on fire.

 

Submarines

 

H.M.S. TALISMAN who was on passage from Gibraltar to Beirut to rejoin the Mediterranean Station was overdue at Malta and had to be considered lost. It is possible that she attacked a merchant vessel off Marittimo p.m. on the 16th September and that she was successfully counterattacked; there was partial confirmation of this from the Italian news.

 

Royal Marines

 

3. The Eleventh Royal Marine Battalion was moved from Alexandria to Haifa to reorganize and train. After the Tobruk operations, their strength was reduced to about one company.

 

 

Saturday, 19th September 1942

 

Submarines

 

H.M.S. P 44 returned to Malta from patrol and reported having sunk by gunfire and torpedoes a 200 ton schooner and a small merchant vessel Ziliten Roads (west of Misurata) on 17th September.

 

2. H.M.S. P 211 joined the Tenth Submarine Flotilla at Malta after an uneventful passage from Gibraltar.

 

Levant

 

3. H.M.S. EURYALUS escorted by EXMOOR and BELVOIR arrived at Haifa after carrying out exercises whilst on passage from Port Said. ORION, escorted by JERVIS, KELVIN, and JAVELIN was sailed from Haifa for exercises with EURYALUS during passage to Port Said.

 

Canal Area

 

4. H.M.S. DIDO was docked at Massawa for hull repairs.

 

Commander in Chief

 

5. Admiral Harwood visited the General Officer Commanding Eighth Army and the Air Officer Commanding, Western Desert, at the Main Headquarters of the Eighth Army.

 

 

Sunday, 20th September 1942

 

Submarines

 

H.M.S. TRAVELLER arrived at Beirut from patrol. At 0235/5 in position 33-02N, 23-13E she torpedoed and sank a heavily laden merchant ship. At 2140/5 in position 33-27N, 21-59E she estimated one hit on a 3000 ton northbound merchant ship.

 

Special Operation ANGLO

 

2. TRAVELLER re embarked one officer and one Royal Marine rank from the vicinity of Calato on the night of 17th/18th September. These were all that remained of a party who had been landed earlier in the month from PAPANICOLIS. They reported that 13 to 15 aircraft had been destroyed on the Calato Aerodrome on the night of 12th/13th September.

 

 

Monday, 21st September 1942

 

Submarines

 

H.M.S. P 212 arrived at Gibraltar from a working up patrol off the western coast of Sardinia. Two schooners were sunk by gunfire, one off Colummagia and the other off Cape Argentierra. She also fired a torpedo into the wharf at Buggerru which exploded among some schooners.

 

Red Sea

 

2. At 0238, H.M.S. EMPIRE PINTAIL on passage from the U.S.A. to Suez ran aground on Hindi Gider Reef near Port Sudan in position 19-23N, 37-54E. This ship was carrying British and U.S. cargo and still retained her commissioned crew, wearing the white ensign.

 

Malta

 

3. H.M.S. PROTEUS, on passage to the United Kingdom, arrived with aircraft torpedoes and petrol.

 

 

Tuesday, 22nd September 1942

 

Submarines

 

THRASHER returned to Beirut and reported torpedoing and probably sinking a 5000 ton southbound merchant ship at 0355/4th in position 32-58N, 24-11E.

 

Levant

 

2. The Rear Admiral Commanding, Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron began a tour of the Levant area to meet Senior Naval, Military, and Government Officials.

 

Cyprus

 

3. A U boat which had been sighted by M.L. 348 in Famagusta Bay was hunted throughout the night but without results.

 

Canal Area

 

4. The Aircraft Transport Vessel H.M.S. ATHENE arrived at Abu Sultan and embarked 805 Squadron for Kilindini.

 

 

Wednesday, 23rd September 1942

 

Submarines

 

H.M.S. P 46 returned to Malta from a patrol and reported that at 0105/21 in position 33-34N, 11-06E she fired 12 rounds at a large southbound schooner scoring 8 hits. Four hours later the vessel was still burning.

 

2. At 0213/13 in position 35-36N, 11-09E (n.b. pencil query in text regarding 33 north of the prior entry and 35 north in this entry although the attacks were a little more than an hour apart) she torpedoed and sank the Vichy S.S. LIBERIA. As this ship could not be identified by the Commanding Officer in publications held by the submarine, he considered it to be an enemy merchant ship employing a "ruse de guerre" and according sank her.

 

3. At 0440/21 in position 35-45N, 11-11E she torpedoed and sank a 2000 tons southbound merchant ship.

 

Canal Area

 

4. H.D.M.L.s 1126, 1149, and 1159 of the 113th M.L. Flotilla arrived at Suez for service on the Mediterranean Station.

 

Reorganisation of Escort Groups

 

5. Escort vessels were re organized into the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Escort Groups as follows: Each group was under the command of a Commander, R.N.

 

 

 

 

Group I

 Group II

Group III

 

 

 

HYACINTH (S.O.)

SNAPDRAGON (S.O.)

DELPHINIUM (S.O.)

 

 

 

PRIMULA

ERICA

GLOXINIA

 

 

 

COMMANDANT DOMINE

IERAX

PAUL KONDOURITIS

 

 

 

LA MOQUEUSE

AETOS

SPETSAI

 

 

 

WHITEHAVEN

SAKTOURIS

PROTEA

 

 

 

SEAHAM

SOUTHERN ISLES

SOUTHERN SEAS

 

 

 

BOSTON

SOUTHERN MAID

CUMBRAE

 

 

 

WOLBOROUGH

ROMEO

ISLAY

 

 

 

FALK

BURRA

KLO

 

The first two groups were allocated to the Levant and the third to the Port Said to Alexandria run.

 

Red Sea

 

6. S.S. PORT PHILLIP arrived at Aden with her 6" gun completely wrecked as a result of a serious accident during a practice firing.

 

7. S.S. EMPIRE PATROL on passage from Aqaba to Suez was bombed by enemy aircraft at 2203 in position 26-06N, 33-25E.

 

8. Three attacks by single aircraft were made and she suffered neither damage or casualties.

 

 

Thursday, 24th September 1942

 

Alexandria

 

M.T.B.s 315 and 316 with an Air Sea Rescue Launch carried out a search without result for a Spitfire pilot known to have crashed some ninety miles northwest of Alexandria.

 

Levant

 

2. At 2109/23 the R.D.F. Station at Paphos reported surface craft moving at high speed about 30 miles south west of Paphos. During the night, the Rear Admiral Commanding, Fifteen Cruiser Squadron in EURYALUS was sailed from Haifa escorted by EXMOOR and BELVOIR, and ORION and ARETHUSA, escorted by PAKENHAM, PETARD, PALADIN, JERVIS, JAVELIN, and KELVIN was sailed from Port Said. Nothing was found and all forces returned to harbour without incident.

 

Red Sea

 

3. CLEOPATRA, whilst in the Admiralty Floating Dock at Massawa was slightly damaged when the keel docking block collapsed. The ship settled four feet aft and then bodily two and a half feet down. CLEOPATRA was very slightly damaged and was undocked the following day. The dock was out of action for about four days.

 

 

Friday, 25th September 1942

 

Submarines

 

H.M.S. P 37 arrived at Malta from Gibraltar to join the 10th Submarine Flotilla. P 34 was sailed from Malta for a refit in the United Kingdom.

 

Red Sea

 

2. H.M.S. EMPIRE PINTAIL was refloated at midnight with the assistance of H.M. Tug HENRIETTA MOLLER from Massawa and tugs and lighters from Port Sudan. She was towed stern first into Port Sudan where her cargo was unloaded and temporary repairs were effected.

 

 

Saturday, 26th September 1942

 

Western Desert

 

Tobruk harbour area was heavily mined by aircraft during the night.

 

Operation M.A.Z. I

 

The destruction of shipping approaching Rhodes Harbour and in the harbour.

 

2. M.T.B.s 307, 309, 311, 316 were sailed from Alexandria for Paphos where they laid up, refuelled and awaited a suitable opportunity to carry out the operation. The R.A.F. provided 10,000 gallons of fuel,

 

Submarines

 

3. H.M.S. UTMOST returned to Malta after an observation patrol off Empedocle and in the Gulf of Hammamet for enemy minelaying. Sightings were confined to fishing boats. On her return passage a practice bombardment shoot was carried out on Linosa Island.

 

Levant

 

4. The Palestinian schooner SPHINX was sunk by gunfire from a submarine 36 miles west of Tyre during the night. Survivors were landed at Saida.

 

Red Sea

 

5. The Swedish S.S. KARLSHAMN on passage from Aden to Suez was damaged by torpedo aircraft 9 miles north of Ashrafi Island at 0455. She was able to proceed to Port Sudan.

 

6. At 0435, the Panamanian tanker YORBA LINDA was machine gunned by a single Heinkel 111 whilst discharging at Ras Gharib. There was no damage or casualties.

 

 

Sunday, 27th September 1942

 

Canal Area

 

H.M.S. CLEOPATRA arrived at Suez from Massawa and relieved DIDO who was carrying out A.A. Protection duties south of the Canal. DIDO proceeded to Port Said.

 

Red Sea

 

2. H.M.S. ENDEAVOUR completed a survey of Port Berenice.

 

 

Monday, 28th September 1942

 

Operation M.A.Z. One

 

A few M.T.B.s were sailed to the westward at 1600 as a diversion to keep enemy reconnaissance preoccupied in the Alexandria area. This continued for several days.

 

Alexandria

 

2. Two M.T.B.s and an Air Sea Rescue Launch carried out an unsuccessful search in cooperation with aircraft for the crew of a Wellington which had crashed fifty miles northwest of Ras el Kanayia. German Sea Rescue Flight subsequently picked them up.

 

Canal Area

 

3. Four enemy aircraft raided Suez Bay during the night. One circling torpedo hit the British S.S. TREVALGAN but did not explode. There was no other damage.

 

 

Tuesday, 29th September 1942

 

Gibraltar

 

H.M.S. CLYDE on passage to Malta was attacked by a single Junkers 88 ten miles east of Europa Point. There was no damage or casualties.

 

Canal Area

 

2. H.M.S. CROOME was sailed from Alexandria to Suez for additional A.A. protection to shipping south of the Canal.

 

Submarines

 

3. The Greek submarine NEREUS returned to Beirut after a patrol in the Aegean. At 1404/24 she torpedoed and sank a 1500 ton M.V., probably the Italian FIUME in position 130 degrees Cape Alupo 6 miles. At 1510/25, an 80 ton caique was rammed and sunk in position 190 degrees Cape Krio 5.5 miles.

 

 

Wednesday, 30th September 1942

 

Operation M.A.Z. One

 

Four M.T.B.s sailed from Paphos to attack shipping near Rhodes, but were forced to turn back due to foul weather.

 

Western Desert

 

2. An attack was made in the southern sector to secure the Munassib depression which was achieved after forty eight hours of fighting.

 

Red Sea

 

3. S.S. CLAN CAMERON on passage to Suez was attacked by one torpedo bomber at 0243 in position 27-20N, 34-15E. There were no casualties and only slight superficial structural damage. The German S.S. LIEBENFELS which had been raised and refloated at Massawa was seized in prize.

 

Levant

 

4. The following ships were carrying out escort duties.

 

Northbound: WHITEHAVEN, PRIMULA, BOSTON, FALK, and HYACINTH

 

Southbound: WOLBOROUGH, IERAX, PROTEA, ISLAY.

 

Port Said to Alexandria: DELPHINIUM, SOUTHERN SEA, Yugoslav motor anti submarine boats DURMITOR and KAJMAKCLAN

 

Submarines

 

Tenth Flotilla

 

UNA On patrol off Kuriat

 

UTMOST, P 37, P 46 Malta

 

P 34 On patrol Western Sardinia

 

P 35 Returning to Malta from patrol

 

P 42 On patrol off Cape Misurata

 

P 43 On passage to patrol area from Malta

 

P 44 On patrol south of Messina

 

P 46 Working up patrol north of Alboran Island

 

P 211 On patrol Gulf of Taranto

 

P 247 Working up patrol off Valencia

 

First Flotilla

 

TAKU Returning to Beirut from patrol

 

TURBULENT On patrol off Benghazi

 

TRAVELLER At Beirut

 

THRASHER At Beirut

 

PORPOISE On passage to patrol area and Malta

 

OSIRIS Refitting at Port Said

 

Greek Submarines

 

NEREUS At Beirut

 

PAPANICOLIS At Suez

 

TRITON At Port Said refitting

 

KATSONIS At Ismailia refitting

 

NEBOSJCA At Port Said refitting

 

Intelligence

 

Axis shipping losses during the month were as follows:

 

13 ships sunk, totaling 27,500 tons

 

13 ships damaged, totaling 39,600 tons

 

In addition, one Vichy French merchant ship of 4000 tons and one Italian hospital ship of 8000 tons were sunk.

 

 

APPRECIATION OF EVENTS FOR September 1942

 

General

 

The main event of the month was a combined operation to destroy the port facilities of Tobruk and Benghazi. A Naval demolition party and a detachment of the Special Boat Section proceeded overland with the Military force for Benghazi. To assist these operations, attacks were carried out on Barce landing ground and Gialo. The attack on Benghazi had to be called off as it was evident the enemy were fully aware of our forces and in addition they were behind time. Though the military force successfully penetrated the Tobruk perimeter undetected and many Royal Marines were able to land on the northern shorts, the enemy rapidly became aware of what was intended putting up heavy resistance which, early on, disabled destroyer SIKH. Considerable damage was caused at Barce and Gialo and casualties were light. The R.A.F.'s very heavy attack on Tobruk undoubtedly caused considerable damage and dummy paratroops were dropped on various objectives.

 

2. Early in the month an attempt was made to destroyer enemy shipping off south western Crete, using M.T.B.s near Elaphonisi, which was frustrated by weather at the last minute.

 

Western Desert

 

3. The enemy's offensive was short lived and after ten days he was forced back again to his original lines. He clearly underestimated the strength of our armour. His losses in M.T. and tanks were fairly serious.

 

Alexandria

 

4. Anti shipping sweeps to the Daba area were frequently carried out by Hunts but all were without incident. A small party of Italian Marines made an abortive landing behind our lines to sabotage the railway to the front. Their attempt was a failure and a very disillusioned party gave themselves up at dawn.

 

5. A seaman battalion was formed to guard vital points in the Delta. The Egyptian Army for political reasons, stated they would not retaliate if threatened with airborne attack. At this juncture, the army could not spare forces for this duty.

 

Central Mediterranean

 

6. Our submarines and aircraft continued their successful attacks on enemy shipping and there was little doubt that the efficacy of these seriously hampered his supply problems.

 

Levant

 

7. U boat activity was very slight only four schooners being sunk. There were no losses in convoy.

 

8. The Rear Admiral Commanding, Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron, visited all ports in the Levant area on taking over command.

 

Canal Area

 

9. There was no activity during the month. At Suez, H.E.M.S. FAWZIA was successfully refloated with the assistance of CONFEDERATE.

 

Rea Sea

 

10. Enemy U boats made their appearance in the Gulf of Aden, but only two ships were sunk. Aircraft made several attacks with unknown results. HERO and TETCOTT were sailed for local A/S escort duties.

 

11. Long range aircraft made several attacks on shipping in the Gulf of Suez during the moon period. Two ships were hit by circling torpedoes but in neither case did they explode.

 

12. EURYALUS and CLEOPATRA completed quick docking in the Admiralty Floating Dock at Massawa.

 

13. H.M.S. EMPIRE PINTAIL on passage to Suez from the U.S.A. with valuable war materials ran aground on Hindi Gider reef. After discharging most of her cargo into lighters, she was refloated and towed stern first into Port Sudan were only temporary repairs could be made.

 

14. H.M.S. ENDEAVOUR carried out surveys of many Red Sea ports and anchorages.

 

Malta

 

15. One store carrying trip was made by PROTEUS whilst on passage to the United Kingdom for refit. Three submarines rejoined the Tenth Submarine Flotilla from Gibraltar. Enemy bombing of the Island was on a negligible scale, mainly due to the sufficiency of Spitfires.

 

Miscellaneous

 

16. A/S escort vessels were formed into three groups under the administration of Rear Admiral (Destroyers) (n.b. Commodore (D) P. Todd). A commander was placed in command of each group in order to achieve a higher state of efficiency and to overcome the difficulties of command with the relatively senior Greek Commanding Officers. A Levant convoy system was also instituted which gave escorts more time for much needed maintenance and practices.

 

17. All M.T.B.s and M.L.s in the Eastern Mediterranean were formed into a separate unit under the command of a Captain, Coastal Forces.

 

Changes on Station

 

18.

P 31, P 34, and PROTEUS left for refits in the United Kingdom.

 

RESOURCE on loan to the Eastern Fleet

 

PETARD, AIGLON, P 37 and 3 H.D.M.L.s joined the station.

 

Casualties

 

19. H.M. Ships COVENTRY, SIKH, ZULU, TALISMAN, 4 M.T.B.s and 2 Fairmiles.

 
 

on to Med Fleet, October to December 1942
or back to Admiralty War Diaries

revised 16/1/12


 

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