Convoy Route Codes,
Operation Code Names
Royal Navy Minelaying
WAR DIARY –
1st October 1942
M.A.Z. One was again postponed due to the weather.
Three fighter bombers attacked
side of the harbour from about 18,000 feet at 1825. Two
bombs were dropped and
there was no damage.
H.M.S. TAKU arrived at Beirut from patrol and Operation
AGREEMENT. At 0300/18 in position 32-29N, 23-34E, she
reported sinking one
medium sized merchant vessel out of a southbound convoy of
vessels. Owing to heavy seas, TAKU was unable to land the
beach marking party
for Operation AGREEMENT.
H.M.S. P 35 arrived at Malta from patrol and reported that
1640/27 in position 37-04N, 20-36E she torpedoed and hit a
large merchant ship
out of an escorted convoy of two merchant ships and six
destroyers. This ship
was again hit at 2240 and sunk.
The Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron and all available
carried out exercises during the night. On completion,
BELVOIR, and PALADIN returned to Haifa; ORION, EURYALUS,
PAKENHAM, PETARD, and JERVIS returned to Port Said. EXMOOR
the Canal for refit at Suez.
The Swedish relief ships CAMELIA, FORMOSA, and EROS
Gibraltar from the Piraeus.
2nd October 1942
M.T.B.s were sailed from Paphos to attack shipping in the
vicinity of Rhodes. Nothing was found and the alternative
plan was carried out.
Torpedoes were fired into the harbour and five explosions
were heard. There
were two ships in the harbour but the results of the
operation were not known.
As the threat of parachute attack was now much reduced,
Works Guard, a temporary naval commitment, was brought to
the minimum figure. The
Docks Gate Guard duties, however, were still carried out
by the Royal Navy.
H.M.S. RORQUAL arrived with petrol, aircraft torpedoes,
small quantity of vital stores.
H.M.S. CLEOPATRA was passed through the Canal from Suez.
of the Rear Admiral Commanding, Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron
was transferred from
EURYALUS to CLEOPATRA.
The remainder of the Chief of Intelligence Staff's staff
"Y" party returned to the Commander in Chief's
Headquarters from Ismailia.
3rd October 1942
PARTHIAN arrived with a small quantity of stores.
Defence schemes were proposed for Massawa, Assab, and
reported to the Admiralty in Commander in Chief's signal
timed 1315 of 3rd
The Turkish ferry steamer DARICA was retained till the end
year to move M.T. and heavy lifts from Massawa to Arabian
4th October 1942
minus one time was kept from 0001 G.M.T.
Wellington aircraft damaged a merchant vessel
which was escorted by three destroyers, 35 miles
south east of Cape
Maria Di Leuca during the night. The merchant vessel was
hit by a torpedo and
photographic reconnaissance the following day showed that
the convoy had turned
back into Corfu.
H.M.S. P 42 returned from patrol in the Misurata area and
from the Kuriat area.
H.M.S. DIDO escorted by PAKENHAM and PALADIN was sailed
Said to Haifa.
At 0419, the British steamship AYAMONTE was sunk in a
with the British S.S. NIRPURA in position 22-11.5N,
37-24E. Survivors were
picked up by NIRPURA but two seaman
5th October 1942
JERVIS arrived for a short refit.
Ships CROMER, CROMARTY, and ROMNEY of the Fourteenth
Minesweeping Flotilla arrived at Aden to join the
Captain B.C.B. Brooke, Royal Navy, assumed duties as
Officer, Levant Area and Senior Naval Officer, First
Mobile Naval Base Defence
Organisation in succession to Captain J.A.V. Mores,
Captain R.J.R. Dendy assumed duty as Chief Staff Officer
Rear Admiral Alexandria in succession to Captain Brooke,
6th October 1942
CLYDE arrived from Gibraltar with petrol and stores.
H.M.S. P 44 returned to Malta from a patrol and reported
0855/1 in position 38-15N, 16-17N (off Punto Stilo) fired
one torpedo at a
grounded merchant vessel hitting her in the forward hold.
A salvage steamer, a
schooner, and an M.A.S. patrol craft were in attendance.
The schooner was
The small Egyptian merchant vessel EL FATH on passage from
to Port Said unescorted, reported being bombed by an
unidentified aircraft at
about midnight. She was not damaged.
The Italian S.S. GERA was raised and refloated and seized
prize at Massawa.
7th October 1942
movement of 201 Naval Cooperation Group Rear Headquarters
Ismailia to Area Combined Headquarters was completed
H.M. Ships CLEOPATRA, ORION, EURYALUS in company with
PALADIN, PETARD, KELVIN, and JAVELIN carried out exercises
off Port Said. On
completion, CLEOPATRA escorted by KELVIN and JAVELIN
sailed fro Alexandria.
8th October 1942
CLEOPATRA was docked at Gabbari for inspection and minor
repairs caused by the Admiralty Floating Dock at Massawa.
Only very slight
damage was found and the ship was undocked after dark and
sailed fro Port Said escorted by KELVIN and JAVELIN.
Special Fighter Protection
and smoke screening was at immediate notice throughout the
day, but no enemy
reconnaissance or attack developed.
9th October 1942
1357 two enemy fighters dived on the harbour. One bomb was
dropped one cable astern of HURSLEY who was oiling at the
time. The other
aircraft jettisoned his bombs at sea.
H.M.S. P 212 arrived to join the Tenth Submarine Flotilla
10th October 1942
aircraft showed a noticeable increase in their attacks on
– Move NEEDLE
S.S. PRINCESS KATHLEEN with 1000 military personnel was
from Port Said for Famagusta escorted by DULVERTON,
HURWORTH, and ALDENHAM.
H.M.S. ANTWERP completed alterations
enable her to carry six light L.C.A.s
11th, October 1942
– Move NEEDLE
PRINCESS KATHLEEN left Famagusta and was sailed to Beirut
she embarked a further 1000 military personnel for Cyprus.
and ALDENHAM continued as escorts.
12th October 1942
enemy made persistent efforts to bomb the aerodromes.
day, he sent out no less than 279 sorties against which
the Spitfires made 147
sorties. His losses were 25 certainly destroyed, 14
probables, and 28 damaged. Out
losses were 8 Spitfires, but three of the pilots were
H.M.S. RORQUAL returned to Beirut on completion of her
storing trip to Malta. It is possible that an enemy U boat
was encountered at
2312/6 in position 34-58N, 19-21E.
H.H.M.S. QUEEN OLGA rejoined the Fourteenth Destroyer
after completion of lengthy repairs.
13th October 1942
PARTHIAN returned to Beirut having completed a storing
to Malta. One rating was killed by
the explosion of an air
bottle on board during the passage.
– Move NEEDLE
S.S. PRINCESS KATHLEEN with three Hunts completed the
arrival at Port Said. Two thousand personnel had been
embarked for Cyprus and
1300 had returned from the Island. There were no incidents
H.M.S. ARETHUSA was sailed from Haifa escorted by PAKENHAM
PETARD to the vicinity of Port Said.
H.M.S. CROMARTY was sailed from Aden for Suez.
Trials of mines dropped by American aircraft were begun in
Great Bitter Lake.
The Administrative Staff of the Commander in Chief,
Station, returned to Combined Headquarters, Alexandria
from Port Said.
14th October 1942
ARETHUSA escorted by DULVERTON, HURWORTH, CROOME, and
ALDENHAM arrived for docking at Gabbari. Special
precautions were taken against
enemy reconnaissance as in the case of CLEOPATRA.
Fleet Air Arm Albacores attacked a 7000
merchant vessel which was approaching Tripoli from the
east, scoring one hit. This
vessel was subsequently seen to be
beached at Homs.
The enemy lost 24 aircraft in combat over Malta. Our
six Spitfires and two pilots.
H.M.S. TURBULENT returned to Beirut from a patrol off the
Coast. At 0735/8, she reported having sunk a small
eastbound merchant vessel
north of Ras el Hilal.
H.M.S. P 43 returned to Malta and reported that at 1424 on
10th October in position 37-11N, 21-26E she torpedoed and
sank at 8000 to
southbound merchant ship escorted by one destroyer. The
ship was seen to sink
in two minutes and the escort did not counter attack.
H.M.S. P 211 arrived at Malta from a successful working up
patrol. At 1107 2nd October in position 42-57N, 17-17E,
she attacked a 900 tons
steamer by gunfire which beached itself; she then
torpedoed the ship which was
observed still on fire eleven hours later.
At 0744/4th, she attacked the Italian VALENTINO CODA
off Gargano Head with torpedoes but missed, she
subsequently scored one hit by
gunfire at a range of 5500 yards.
At 1125 5 October, a 600 ton steamer was gunned seven
of Sibenik. Twenty hits out of twenty rounds were scored
and the ship was
beached on Tara.
At 1729 8th October, P 211 torpedoed and hit a full laden
southbound merchant ship of 1200 tons in position 43-30N,
15-58E. She sustained
slight damage in a counter attack by the escort and shore
At 1100, 10th October in position 42-32N, 18-13E attacked
convoy of three ships in ballast scoring two hits on the
largest ship estimated
at 4000 tons.
The American S.S. ANNE HUTCHINSON on passage south
having been chased by a large submarine in position
11-49N, 45-50E which was last
seen at 0544. Two other merchant ships
reported a submarine on the surface with a "Large sail" in
the area. Aircraft
reconnaissance located two very large dhows in the
vicinity and LOCH MELFORT
was sailed to investigate.
The German S.S. FRAUENFELS was seized as prize having been
raised at Massawa. She had been scuttled and sunk during
campaign and had a cargo of 1400 tons of ore onboard.
15th October 1942
S.S. EMPIRE PATROL, an ex Italian ship called the RODI,
commissioned as an H.M. Ship, tender to NILE. She was
required for a special
operation and had been converted into a cased petrol
carrier. To ensure secrecy
she continued to wear the Red Ensign.
ARETHUSA was undocked and sailed at dusk for Port Said,
by DULVERTON, CROOME, and ALDENHAM.
In air raids over the Island, 15 enemy aircraft were
16th October 1942
GLOXINIA shot down a Me 109
attacked her off the end of the swept channel at 1620.
Two merchant ships broke adrift during heavy weather
alongside Kamaria Breakwater and suffered slight damage.
H.M.S. P 45 returned to Malta from a very successful
1010 on 9th October, in position 39-04N, 16-06E fired nine
rounds at a
southbound passenger train. The fourth round hit the third
coach and shortly
afterwards, the train stopped. AT 1032 on 11 October in
position 40-29N, 14-15E
she torpedoed and sank a fully laden 2500
ship which caught fire immediately and sank in less than
an hour. At 1833 13th
October, in position 38-14N, 13-14E, she torpedoed and
sank a 1500 eastbound
merchant vessel in ballast.
H.M.S. CLYDE returned to Malta (n.b. pen correction –
Beirut) after a storing trip to Malta.
At 1052 10th in position 34-52N, 19-15E, she sighted an
Italian U boat steering
to the northbound. At extreme range, CLYDE fired her only
two torpedoes and
estimated two hits.
The Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron, less DIDO, carried out
in the vicinity of Port Said during the night. M.T.B. s
also took part. ON
completion all forces returned to Port Said except
DULVERTON and ALDENHAM who
were detached to Haifa. CROOME was sailed south for refit
17th October 1942
enemy changed his air tactics and fighter
bombers appeared over the island.
H.M.S. EURYALUS arrived at Abu Zenima to act as A.A.
was taken to carry out exercises in the vicinity.
In view of the presence of enemy U boats in the Gulf of
military authorities took steps to organize a temporary
system of coast defence
guns until the completion of the fixed defences at
Twelve L.C.A. s were shipped to India for operational
18th October 1942
numbers of bombers very heavily escorted by fighters began
attempt attacks on the Island. Nearly all formations were
broken up and only a
few bombs fell on the aerodromes, which damage was slight.
A Fleet Air Arm Albacore torpedoed a 2-4000 ton merchant
in the vicinity of Pantellaria, which was last seen down
by the stern.
19th October 1942
A 8000 ton tanker was torpedoed
Swordfish from Malta during the night, when 50 miles east
of Cape di Stilo. The
tanker was seen to be stationary two hours later.
H.M.S. P 35 returned from patrol in the northern Ionian
NAVIGATORE class destroyer was attacked at 0802 10th
October in position
37-53N, 18-54E, but torpedoes missed. Air reconnaissance
was carried out, of
Brindisi on the 14th and 15th, neither traffic nor patrols
H.M.S. P 247 arrived at Malta to join the Tenth Submarine
Flotilla. She carried a small amount of stores whilst on
JAVELIN, JANUS, and SPETSAI carried out a hunt for a U
reported in position 31-44N, 32-28E with aircraft
cooperation throughout the
night but without result.
20th October 1942
on Enemy Convoy
southbound convoy consisting of one large tanker and three
merchant vessels escorted by seven destroyers was sighted
by aircraft in the
vicinity of Pantellaria p.m. 18th October. P 211, P 44, P
42, UTMOST, and P 37
were moved so as to intercept this convoy. Submarines
attacked at various times
on the 19th October and Swordfish and Albacore attacked
with bombs and
torpedoed on the night of 19th/20th October. The results
of these attacks were
considered as follows:
merchant vessel torpedoed and sunk by P 211 previously
and damaged by aircraft torpedo (pen
insert: on 18th).
merchant vessel and one destroyer sunk by P 37.
merchant vessel possibly damaged by torpedo by P 42 but
apparently able to maintain her position in the convoy.
The enemy's air effort against the Island began to
The Greek submarine PAPANICOLIS on passage from Port Said
Haifa reported at 0600 that she was unable to dive owing
to a damaged
hydroplane. PRIMULA was sailed from Beirut to escort her
PORPOISE returned to Beirut on completion of a storing
P 42 returned to Malta damaged as a result of a heavy and
accurate counterattack following the attack on a
southbound convoy in the
vicinity of Lampedusa on the 19th.
An American Liberator sighted a submarine on the surface
position 31-55N, 34-23E at 1527 on 19th. DULVERTON and
ALDENHAM were sailed
from Haifa and carried out a hunt throughout the night but
without result. On completion,
both ships were ordered to proceed to Haifa.
An Egyptian schooner was sunk by gunfire from a U boat off
at 2330. All the crew were saved being landed at Tripoli
The Greek merchant vessel THIRASSIA NOMICOS caught fire in
Bay. The fire was promptly put out with the assistance of
parties from WOOLWICH
and KELVIN. The cause of the fire was not known.
H.M.S. POSTBOY arrived at Aden to join the 169th
Trawler Group on the Mediterranean Station. H.M.S. MANXMAN
also arrived, being
lent to the Mediterranean Station in order to run supplies
Enemy aircraft renewed their attacks on shipping in the
Suez and Red Sea. At 2315/19th, the British oil tanker
SCALARIA was set on fire
by torpedo aircraft at Ras Gharib. H.M.S. EURYALUS was
sent to investigate and
reported that she was a total loss and aground fouling the
outer oiling berth.
At 2345/19th October, the Greek steamer CHIOS was attacked
Harbour. Two torpedoes were dropped and run under the
ship, but did not
explode. There were no casualties or damage.
21st October 1942
gun defences in Dekheilia were dismounted for eventual use
Western Desert ports.
P 211 returned to Malta from patrol and reported that she
torpedoed and sunk a fully laden
southbound merchant vessels
in a position 158 degrees Lampion 70 miles. This merchant
vessel had been
stopped after being hit previously by torpedo aircraft.
H.M.S. UTMOST also returned and reported having torpedoed
tanker on 13th October in position 41-03N, 09-43E which
has sunk or been
beached. In addition to the patrol, Operation BLACKBIRD
was carried out in the
early hours of the 9th October in the Naples area, where
two men were landed. It
is feared though, that they were captured or executed.
H.M.S. P 37 returned to Malta having completed a very
first Mediterranean Patrol.
At 1620 on the 8th October in position 33-41N, 11-44E she
the small Italian coaster LUPA by gunfire. The enemy
promptly abandoned ship. The
coaster was boarded, some papers were captured and she was
sunk by a demolition
charge. She was carrying a cargo of wine and foodstuffs.
At 2000 on the 9th October, in position 34-08N, 11-00E,
repeated this operation, this time on a schooner who was
sunk by using a can of
shale oil and a box of matches.
At 2325 on the 9th October, in position 34-02N, 11-03E,
torpedoed and hit a 3000 ton merchant vessel carrying
petrol, which caught fire
and was seen to be still burning some hours later.
At 1248 on the 19th October, in position 35-45N, 12-04E,
a southbound convoy now consisting of four destroyers
escorting one tanker and
two merchant vessels. One merchant vessel and one
destroyer were sunk.
His Royal Highness Prince Peter of Greece arrived at
the Greek destroyer AETOS for a short visit to the Island.
The Greek destroyer PINDOS (formerly H.M.S. BOLEBROOK)
at Aden to join the Mediterranean Station from the United
Kingdom. She was
allocated to the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla.
22nd October 1942
enemy changed his tactics by using large formations of high
flying German and Italian fighters with bombs to
under cloud cover. Luqa was made temporarily
H.M.S. P 44 returned to Malta from a patrol in the
She was one of five submarines which
took part in an
attack on an important convoy in the vicinity of
Lampedusa, bound for Tripoli. It
is probable that she scored two hits on a destroyer.
P 211 also returned from a short patrol off Pantelleria in
she sank a large merchant vessel stopped as a result of
air attack in position
158 degrees Lampedusa 70 miles at 0833 on 20th October.
The Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron at Port Said carried out
on night of 21st/22nd October. On completion ORION was
sailed to Haifa escorted
by KELVIN and JAVELIN, the remaining units returning to
His Royal Highness Prince Peter of Greece left Cyprus in
Greek destroyer AETOS and arrived at Beirut without
The military ocean going dredger RONALDSHAY was sunk by
torpedo at Safaga off Deep Water Quay at 0320. The
Captain, Chief Officer, and
48 ratings were missing. The vessel was a total loss.
The Greek destroyer PINDOS was sailed from Aden to Port
join the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla.
H.M.S. CROMARTY on passage from Massawa to Suez was
attacked by a
single enemy aircraft at 0205 when five miles south of
Suez. Two torpedoes were
fired which was followed up by machine gun fire. There
were no casualties for
23rd October 1942
Desert. Offensive, Autumn,
2200 the Eighth Army began the main attack on the El
after twenty minutes intensive bombardment of the enemy's
position by about
eight hundred guns.
As almost the entire Middle East fighter effort was
on the Eighth Army, naval assistance in the operation was
therefore limited. Bombardment
by cruisers and destroyers was considered an unwarranted
risk, and would have
had little material effect on events.
M.T.B.s and HUNT class destroyers were held in readiness
Alexandria for attacks on enemy shipping along the coast.
Naval personnel for Western desert ports as far as
called up and were ready from now onwards. Arrangements
were put in hand to
call forward tugs, schooners, salvage vessels, mobile
lighters, and small
craft. The docking and preparation of suitable ships for
the Western Desert run
were now complete.
H.M.S. UNA arrived at Malta on completion of a short
the night of 14th/15th, Operation WASHLEATHER, the landing
of three men near
Catania, Sicily, was successfully carried out. An attempt
to attack a convoy of
one large tanker and three destroyers on the 18th October
met with some very
H.M.S. POSTBOY, LL Minesweeper, was sailed from Aden for
The Italian Repatriation Liners VULCANIA and SATURNIA, on
to Italian Somaliland, arrived at Gibraltar from Genoa.
24th October 1942
order to assist military operations, a feint seaborne
made west of Ras el Kenayia during the night of 23rd/24th
A force of twelve L.C.T.s escorted by two Fairmiles, eight
M.T.B.s, EXMOOR, HURWORTH, and BELVOIR was sailed from
Alexandria in daylight
on 23rd October, to the westward. A normal convoy of four
merchant ships from
Port Said continued westward after passing Alexandria
astern of this force. None
of our forces were sighted during daylight house. After
dark all ships except
the M.T.B.s returned to Alexandria. The M.T.B.s close the
beaches to within 400
yards, opened fire with machine guns, and fired numerous
Very's lights. The
enemy fired no alarm signals and no opposition was met.
The M.T.B.s were shadowed by aircraft after being detached
were subsequently attacked by JU 88s and Macchi's from
midnight till 0300. One
M.T.B. sustained slight superficial damage by cannon fire.
There were no
casualties and all boats returned safely.
.no paragraph 4 in Diary).
escorted by QUEEN OLGA was sailed from Port Said in
daylight as an added
diversion to the operation and returned to harbour after
The Army Commander signalled as follows:
"Information suggests that this operation had an
influence on our main objective."
7. The Greek steamship N.G. CULUCUNDIS
to Suez was attacked by a single aircraft in position
010 degrees Shadwan
Lighthouse 3.5 miles at 0315. She was undamaged
and one torpedo was seen
to explode on the Shadwan Island.
Two attacks were made on Sofaga harbour at 0315, but no
9. The British steamship JALADURGA was
enemy aircraft at 0330 in position 27-14N,
34-21E. There was no damage
The gunnery training yacht FOINAVEN for D.E.M.S. ratings
at Aden from the United Kingdom.
DUILIO and GIULO CESARE, the last of four liners bound for
Italian Somaliland, arrived at Gibraltar from Genoa.
25th October 1942
fighting continued throughout the day, chiefly in the
sector, where slight progress was made.
H.M.S. P 35 returned to Malta after a four
patrol in which a heavily leaden merchant ship which had
beached itself near
Homs as a result of an air attack was further damaged by
two torpedo hits.
H.M.S. NUBIAN arrived at Aden to rejoin the Mediterranean
on completion of extensive damage repairs at Bombay. The
ex German ship LIEBENFELS which
had very recently been raised at Massawa,
was reported to have raised steam and to be carrying out
The Hospital Ship MAINE was put in quarantine at Ismailia
case of plague which had
developed from a Greek sailor
admitted from QUEEN OLGA.
PINDOS relieved EURYALUS as guard ship at Abu Zenima
26th October 1942
on Enemy Convoy Bound
on 25th October a convoy of four destroyers, one tanker,
large and one small merchant vessels
approaching the African coast from Italy. Aircraft
attacked during the night,
but only one near miss with a 1000 bomb was claimed. On
the afternoon of the
26th, the convoy was attacked by torpedo Beauforts and
Bisleys escorted by
Beaufighters. The tanker was hit by torpedoes and left
ablaze, the larger
merchant vessel and a destroyer were damaged and the small
merchant vessel was
probably destroyed. At dusk, the torpedo Wellingtons
attacked the larger
merchant vessel outside the harbour off Tobruk. They
obtained a number of hits
and the ship blew up. The tanker was stopped and still on
fire and our aircraft
on approaching her found the heat so intense as to make
H.M.S. TRAVELLER arrived at Port Said from patrol and
1520 /9th October in position 35-45N, 23-13E she attacked
a northbound merchant
vessel in ballast escorted by two or three destroyers and
estimated two hits on
the merchant vessel and a possible hit on a destroyer of
the GREGALE class.
H.M.S. P 212 returned to Malta after an uneventful patrol
Cape Dukato area.
Four schooners were sunk between Rouad Island and Tripoli.
and JAVELIN were sailed from Haifa and carried out a hunt
which had to be discontinued at 0200/27th, to
allow ORION to e escorted
from Haifa to the south. COMMANDANT DOMINE carried out an
A/S sweep north of
As a result of U boat activity, schooner traffic north of
Acting captain C. Wauchope was appointed as Senior Naval
Captain J.F. Stevens assumed command of CLEOPATRA in
to Captain Grantham and Captain J. Terry of DIDO in
succession to Captain
27th October 1942
enemy aircraft were over the harbour area at 0355, one of
dived to 700 feet. An unexploded bomb fell near the boom
hut magazine, a few
outside the harbour. None of these caused any damaged.
These were probably
stray aircraft from an attack on Amyrya aerodrome.
H.M.S. ORION escorted by KELVIN and JAVELIN were sailed
Haifa for Port Said.
GEORGIOS AVEROFF escorted by the Greek destroyer PANTHER
at Aden. Both these ships had completed extensive refits
28th October 1942
reinforcements for Malta
AURORA (Senior Officer Force H) in company with FURIOUS
CHARYBDIS escorted by WESTCOTT, WISHART, COWDRAY, BRAHAM,
VERITY, and O.R.P. BLYSKAWICA sailed from Gibraltar.
Desert – El
The enemy made several counter attacks on our positions
which were held.
H.M.S. THRASHER returned to Beirut from a patrol in the
1400/12th in position 39-55N, 24-17E, she sank a 200
schooner by demolition and gunfire. At 1700/12th, in
position 40-01N, 24-10E
she sank a 200 ton schooner in
a similar manner. At
0025/20th, in position 36-45N, 26-40E she sank a steam tug
by gunfire and
finally at 1515/20th in position 36-25N, 27-50E torpedoed
and sank a 2000 ton
Brindisi class passenger ship escorted by two destroyers.
Operation JUPITER, the landing of three Greek agents with
on the east coast of Euboea, by THRASHER, was attempted on
the night 11th/12th,
but failed due to swell.
A small Turkish Naval Mission headed by Rear Admiral Cevat
completed a visit to Haifa where they had been studying
the working of a
TETCOTT carried out a quick docking at Massawa.
H.M.S. EURYALUS returned to Port Said after a period south
Canal. ORION was sent south for a similar period of
29th October 1942
Twenty nine Spitfires were
flown off from
FURIOUS, all of which landed safely at Malta. Enemy
aircraft made attempts to
intercept the incoming aircraft, but strong Spitfire cover
A feint landing was simulated in the Kanais area by a
eight M.T.B.s, nine L.C.T.s, EXMOOR, BELVOIR, and
HURWORTH. This force was
sailed from Alexandria during daylight and after dark all
units except the
M.T.B.s turned back to Alexandria. The M.T.B.s closed the
beaches at 0045,
opening fire with machine guns. On withdrawal they were
engaged by shore guns
and attacked by aircraft. Enemy aircraft continued to
attack a smoke cloud
cover which had been made for
one hour after withdrawal. There
were no casualties or damage to any of our units.
The Vice Admiral Malta reported that the Third Motor
Flotilla in addition to their many other valuable services
had swept up their
hundredth mine in the approaches to Malta.
The Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron and all available
carried out exercises north of Port Said on night of
359 commissioned for service on the Mediterranean Station.
30th October 1942
units of Force "H" arrived at Gibraltar without incident.
Axis air attacks on Mala on a heavy scale were
11 October when his efforts began he lost 115 aircraft
definitely destroyed. Our
losses were 38 aircraft destroyed, mainly Spitfires.
H.M.S. RORQUAL arrived
with stores from Beirut.
Destruction of German U
0550, Sunderland aircraft of 230 Wing reported an A.S.V.
contact in position 31-47, 33-24E. H.M.S. HERO, who was on
passage south from
Haifa proceeded to carry out a search.
Twelfth Destroyer Flotilla in PAKENHAM, with PETARD,
DULVERTON, and HURWORTH
were sailed from Port Said and on joining, HERO was
detached to Port Said. Several
aircraft and destroyers attacks were made throughout the
At 2232, the U boat surfaced and in a few minutes, PETARD
a boarding party on board. She was quickly taken in tow
but shortly afterwards
sank; it appeared that she had been holed forward. The
First Lieutenant and one
rating went down with U Boat. An Enigma Machine and papers
were recovered. The
U boat sank at 2312 in position 32-01N, 32-52E. Her
Commanding Officer, four
officers, and thirty five
ratings were taken prisoner.
On completion, DULVERTON and PETARD proceeded to Haifa and
PAKENHAM and HURWORTH returned to Port Said.
31st October 1942
ANTWERP with 400 military personnel was sailed from Beirut
for Famagusta escorted by Green destroyers AETOS and
IERAX. This was the first
serial of troop movements between Syria and Cyprus.
our right flank, a strong thrust towards the coast had
in isolating a port of the enemy northwest of El Alamein.
On passage, Beirut to Malta
OSIRIS, TRAVELLER At
On patrol in Aegean
passage to Malta (for Operation TORCH)
P 42 (damaged)
P 247 Resting
at Malta for Patrols for Operation TORCH
P 212 Resting
at Malta for patrols for Operation TORCH
P 211 Resting
at Malta for patrols for Operation TORCH
Resting at Malta for patrols for Operation TORCH
Resting at Malta for patrols for Operation TORCH
Resting at Malta for patrols for Operation TORCH
Resting at Malta for patrols for Operation TORCH
Resting at Malta for patrols for Operation TORCH
at Malta for patrols for Operation TORCH
UTMOST Resting at Malta for patrols for Operation
On Patrol Aegean
At Port Said
Axis losses October, 1942
23 ships totaling 72,990 tons
6 ships totaling 24,000 tons
The sailing of schooners north of Tripoli were
Summer time in Egypt, Palestine, Transjordan, Cyprus, and
ended at 2100 G.M.T. today.
M.T.B. 264 commissioned at Alexandria today.
OF EVENTS FOR October
first three weeks of
October were mainly concerned with preparations for
opening up the Western
Desert ports. Merchant ships were docked, repaired, and
held at short notice in
the Canal Area. Naval base parties were earmarked and
brought forward to
The Fleet remained
based at Port Said and Haifa. The Rear Admiral Commanding
the Fifteenth Cruiser
Squadron took every opportunity to carry out exercises,
and particularly with
M.T.B.s and a force of
four HUNTS remained based on Alexandria. An operation to
destroy enemy shipping
in the vicinity of Rhodes was carried out by a force of
four M.T.B.s from
Paphos. As nothing was found the alternation plan, that of
in the harbour, was carried out. Several torpedoes hit the
boom and whether any
serious damage occurred to the enemy is not clear.
M.T.B.s took part in a feint landing to assist LIGHTFOOT
initial stages. There is little doubt that this diversion
considerable enemy forces., for
the most part German,
on the coastal sector.
The complete annihilation of a convoy bound for Tobruk by
Royal Air Force and Fleet Air Arm three days after the
LIGHTFOOT deprived Rommel of vital oil and petrol supplies
at a critical
The quick docking of CLEOPATRA and ARETHUSA was
without Axis interference. High-flying reconnaissance
aircraft were over Alexandria
on many occasions during the month, but no serious attacks
At the end of the
month, an operation by H.M.S. FURIOUS in the Western Basin
to reinforce Malta
with Spitfires was carried out without loss. Adequate
fighter cover was given
to the incoming aircraft and all enemy attempts at
interception were beaten
off. A certain number of long range
flown to Malta from Gibraltar.
Axis tactics against
Malta were suddenly changed in the middle of the month.
With strong fighter
escort and a small number of bombers, the enemy tried to
aerodromes to cover the passage of important convoys to
Tripolitania and Libya.
A policy of interception north of the island was adopted
and proved eminently successful.
The enemy thereupon reverted to high
using cloud cover; some damage was done to the aerodrome,
but it was never at
any time serious. By the end of the month, finding these
tactics too costly, had left
Malta well alone. During this period 45
enemy aircraft were definitely destroyer; we lost 36
aircraft mostly Spitfires.
continued store carrying trips
to Malta with petrol
and vital supplies from Gibraltar and Beirut.
The First and Tenth
Submarine Flotillas carried out many brilliant attacks on
Axis convoys and
shipping running to Libya. An attack on a heavily escorted
southbound convoy of
one tanker and three merchant ships for Tripoli by five
Pantellaria was particularly noteworthy. Albacore and
Swordfish aircraft made
many attacks before the convoy ran into the submarine
concentration. H.M.S. 211
sank one merchant vessel, stopped after air attack,
37 sank a destroyer and one merchant vessel in the convoy,
and it possible that
P 42 also damaged a merchant vessel. The latter was very
counterattacked and damaged, and force to return to Malta.
Apart from the loss of
four schooners, convoy continued to run unmolested. There
were many reports of
U boats and several inconclusive hunts by destroyers and
H.M.S. Ships PAKENHAM,
PETARD, DULVERTON, and HURWORTH destroyed the German U
boat 559 on the 30th
October southwest of Jaffa. She was taken in tow but was
seriously damaged and
quickly sank. Much valuable material was however captured.
troop movement between Port Said and Beirut into Cyprus
was completed by
PRINCESS KATHLEEN and three HUNT class destroyers
A Turkish Naval
Mission completed a visit to Haifa to study the working of
a defended port. They
showed great interest in all they saw and appreciated all
that was done for
The enemy made several
attacks with long range
aircraft on shipping in the
Gulf of Suez. A tanker was destroyed at Ras Gharib and an
ocean going military
dredger was destroyed at Sofaga. On several occasions
circling torpedoes were
used; all those that hit, however, failed to explode. One
merchant ship was sunk after a collision with another
British merchant ship in
the southern half of the Red Sea.
Salvage work continued
at Massawa under the direction of Captain Ellsberg, United
States Navy, and the
GERA was successfully refloated and seized in Prize.
Merchant shipping dockings
had to be temporarily suspended in order to dock and carry
repairs to this ship.
The old Greek cruiser AVEROFF and the destroyer PANTHER
to the Mediterranean Station after lengthy repairs at
There were several reports of U boats in the Gulf of Aden.
was an added anxiety as destroyers could ill be spared as
A/S escorts in that
October saw Commander in Chief's staff, both operational
administration, once again together in the Combined
Headquarters at Sidi Bishr,
The following ships joined the Station during October.
P 211, P 212,
P 247 Tenth Submarine Flotilla at Malta
PINDOS Fifth Destroyer Flotilla from the United
NUBIAN Twelfth Destroyer Flotilla after
completion of damage repairs
168th Minesweeping Group from United Kingdom
commissioned for service.
G. AVEROFF from
There were none during the month.
WAR DIARY –
1st November 1942
view of the urgency of the petrol situation, an attempt
to sail at 15 knot ship
through to Malta, relying on
disguise and evasive routing. EMPIRE PATROL, escorted by
the Greek destroyers
SPETSAI and P. CONDOURIOTIS was sailed from Alexandria.
EMPIRE PATROL was
routed west of Cyprus, via Turkish territorial waters and
the Aegean north of
Crete, and thence to Malta. She was to proceed unescorted
when to the west of
Cyprus. EMPIRE PATROL had a cargo of 1200 tons of aviation
spirit and 300 tons
H.M.S. MANXMAN completed the loading of 350 tons of
for Malta at Port Said.
TORCH – the
Capture of North Africa
The Flag of the Naval Commander Expeditionary Force,
Andrew Cunningham, G.C.B., D.S.O., was hoisted at
Gibraltar today on assuming
control of all naval forces in the TORCH area.
H.M. Submarines P 43 and P 46 were sailed from Malta to
patrol areas for Operation TORCH.
2nd November 1942
1330, EMPIRE PATROL was sighted by a
215 when to the northwest of Cyprus, who may have
photographed her. She
developed engine defects and turned back proceeding to
Famagusta. At 1634 she
reported being shadowed by a submarine in position 35-35N,
Four M.T.B.s simulated landings in bays off Ras Gibeisa
el Daba on the night of 1st/2nd November. Rafts, calcium
flares, and balloons
were dropped, which successfully drew the enemy's fire. No
damage or casualties
were sustained by the M.T.B.s who returned to Alexandria
Western Desert – Operation
northern sector, our forces began an attack westward
during the night of
1st/2nd November. By dawn, the final objectives had been
attacks were made in the central and southern sectors with
was washed up on the beach at 29-33E from the Italian S.S.
PARTHIAN arrived with a small amount of vital stores for
the garrison. E boats,
probably engaged in minelaying, were active off the Island
during the night. There
were illuminated by searchlights and engaged by the
Submarines P 35, P 37, and P 44 were sailed from Malta to
their patrol areas
for Operation TORCH.
H.M.S. P 712
(ex Italian PERLA) arrived at Port Said for extensive
ORION, ARETHUSA, and EURYALUS with six destroyers carried
out exercises north
of Port Said during the day.
ENDEAVOUR, when leaving Port Berenice, grounded at 0809 in
the outer harbour.
destroyer PANTHER, which had recently arrived on the
Station from Bombay, was
retained at Aden for local escort duties.
3rd November 1942
EMPIRE PATROL arrived at Famagusta at 0700. The Greek
destroyers SPETSAI and CONDOURIOTIS carried out a hunt for
the U boat sighted
by EMPIRE PATROL the previous afternoon.
H.M.S. Submarines P 211, P 212, P 247, UNA, and UTMOST
sailed from Malta to their patrol areas for Operation
TORCH. H.M.S. CLYDE
arrived from Beirut with a cargo of petrol and torpedoes.
– Move TENTERDEN
3. H.H.M.S. AETOS who had to return to
defects was replaced by COMMANDANT DOMINE.
H.M.S. ENDEAVOUR refloated at 1824 and reported that she
undamaged. She continued surveying operations off Port
H.M.S. WORCESTERSHIRE arrived at Aden and was sailed for
with naval personnel from Durban.
4th November 1942
EMPIRE PATROL having completed engine repairs was sailed
Famagusta to Beirut escorted by the Greek destroyer
CONDOURIOTIS, as part of
H.M. Submarines PARTHIAN and TURBULENT, the last two of
twelve submarines sailing to take up patrols to cover the
Allied Landings in
North Africa (Operation TORCH), left Malta.
F.F.S. COMMANDANT DOMINE developed defects and had to be
by WHITEHAVEN for the remaining serials.
Owing to the increased use of the port of Alexandria by
units, the A.A. Range, gun mountings, and equipment at
ordered to be transferred back to Alexandria.
5th November 1942
the night of 4th/5th November, the Eighth Army broke
the enemy's positions on the El Alamein line. The pursuit
of Rommel's forces
continued throughout the day; large numbers of prisoners
were taken as well as
a vast quantity of M.T. and stores. German rearguards
fought a delaying action
southwest of the Fuka escarpment.
During the night 4th/5th November, 6 M.T.B.s and 2 M.L.s
out a sweep was of Alexandria as far as Mersa Matruh to
destroyer any attempted
evacuation of enemy troops by sea. Nothing, however, was
seen. H.M. Ships
EXMOOR, CROOME, HURWORTH, and ALDENHAM remained at El Kot
anchorage as a
striking force if required.
The S.S. STAR OF MEX's engines were disabled off the Great
She was towed into harbour by BRIGAND
H.M. Ships HERO, KELVIN, PAKENHAM, PETARD, and JAVELIN
out a hunt for a U boat in position 31-43N, 32-30E
throughout the day, but
H.M.S. STORMCENTRE (LL minesweeper) arrived at Aden to
169th Minesweeping Group on the Mediterranean Station.
The Minister of State, Middle East, the Right Honourable
Casey, P.C., D.S.O., M.P., and Lord Moyne arrived in
Alexandria and had a
meeting with Admiral Harwood.
6th November 1942
there was little doubt that the enemy was suspicious of
EMPIRE PATROL's movement, it was considered that the
operation was compromised.
Chances of success were therefore doubtful, and the
operation was reluctantly
The Panzer Army was unable to hold the Fuka escarpment and
end of the day our forces were on the general line of the
escarpment south of
Four M.T.B.s searched the coast as far as the front line
the night of 5th/6th November to prevent any evacuation of
enemy troops or
tanks. Nothing was found, however, and M.T.B.s returned to
incident. Two HUNTS remained at El Kot as a striking force
against Force "X" (French ships) in
Alexandria Harbour in event of hostile action by that
Force consequent on
impending Allied landings in North Africa.
All shipping was cleared from Alexandria Harbour except
amount out of range of the French units.
The Senior Naval Officer, Levant Area, was ordered to sail
Escort Group direct to Alexandria for the Western Desert
H.M.S. EMPIRE PATROL, escorted by WHITEHAVEN, SPETSAI, and
was sailed from Beirut to Port Said.
H.M.S. ANTWERP escorted by WHITEHAVEN and IERAX arrived at
completed the final serial. Two thousand, four hundred
troops had been taken
out of Cyprus and 1,200 had been put in. There were no
7th November 1942
Merchant Ships, the ARDEOLA and TADORNA entered the
Mediterranean for independent passage to Malta under cover
of the Assault for
Operation TORCH. They were disguised as French ships.
Heavy fighting continued throughout the day with the
rearguard. A small enemy force was left in Mersa Matruh to
delay our advance. The
Royal Air Force occupied the Daba airfields. Enemy
aircraft were still using
Sidi Barrani aerodrome. Seven minesweepers were sailed
from Alexandria to clear
the approaches to Mersa Matruh. Later in the day, they
were ordered to reverse
their course till the situation at Mersa Matruh had
clarified itself, as the
enemy was believed still in occupation.
Two M.T.B.s were sailed from Alexandria to the westward to
Royal Air Force crews in position 32-55N, 26-15E, but
The French battleship LORRAINE was docked in the Admiralty
Floating Dock. This was done at Admiral Godfroy's request,
made many months
ago. This suited us admirably, considerably reducing the
strength of Force "X"
in the event of hostile action.
The Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron and all available
carried out exercises off Port Said and on completion
steering towards Alexandria
for Operation SNEEZE.
The A.T. defences for the oiling berth at Tripoli (Syria)
H.M.S. ANTWERP was sailed from Haifa to Port Said.
The Italian merchant ship TRIPOLITANIA was raised at
seized in prize.
H.M.S. WORCESTERSHIRE arrived at Suez, disembarked
was sailed for Aden.
8th November 1942
the commencement of Operation TORCH, the westernmost
of the Commander in Chief, Mediterranean's area became a
line joining Cape Bon
to Marittimo, thence to the northwest Sicilian coast and
along the western
coast of Italy. Events to the west of this line have
ceased to be included in the Commander in Chief,
War Diary unless Eastern Mediterranean units were
taking part, or events
directly concern the Eastern Mediterranean Area.
American Forces landed at Casablanca, Oran, and Algiers
shortly before dawn.
SNEEZE. To force Force "X" to
accept our terms in the event of war with
Commander in Chief, Mediterranean interviewed Admiral
receipt of Admiralty Instructions and informed him of the
Allied Landings in
North Africa. Admiral Godfroy's reactions were confused
and in spite of all
arguments he could not decide on any course of action.
Adequate precautions in Alexandria were taken to meet all
eventualities. All ships of Force "X"
were covered by heavy
and light Army guns disposed around the harbour.
M.T.B.s were positioned
so as to be able to torpedo ships if offensive action had
to be taken. Boarding
parties were in readiness to take over the ships after all
Shipping in Alexandria harbour had been cleared by this
to a bare minimum. What little that was left was berthed
so as to be hidden
from Force "X"'s armament.
Commander in Chief had a further interview with Admiral
in company with General Andrews, General Commanding First
Army, out of which
nothing further was achieved. It appeared fairly certain
that Admiral Godfroy
would take no action against us unless Vichy declared war.
The Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron and all destroyers were
return to Port Said and keep steam at short notice.
Late this evening, Force "X" appeared to be raising steam
which later did not materialize into action.
Our forces occupied Mersa Matruh. The
of the German Afrika Corps continued to retreat.
The Thirteenth Corps
was allotted the task of clearing the Alamein battlefield
and the collection of
the many thousands of Italians abandoned by their Allies
on the southern flank.
Two L.C.T.s with petrol unloaded from Smuggler's Cove,
Mersa Matruh harbour.
Two M.T.B.s were sailed to the westward of Alexandria to
some Royal Air Force crews, but found nothing.
The enemy on leaving contaminated all the supplies of
water, but did not carry out demolitions or block the
harbour. In spite of the
previous British demolitions, it was found anchor berths
were available for two
ships of maximum draught of 17 ½ feet. Four enemy
defence guns were left intact but with little ammunition.
A torpedo was accidentally fired by M.T.B. 307 at
0815 which hit Ras el Tin pier,
causing the deaths of ten
ratings and one rating wounded. Two picket boats and two
destroyed and two others damaged. One
salvage pump and
one anti tank gun and the pier were destroyed.
H.M.S. RORQUAL arrived at Port Said from Malta for
9th November 1942
Barrani was occupied at 1430. Light rain tended to impede
The First Western Desert Convoy of two merchant ships and
L.C.T.s was sailed from
Alexandria for Mersa Matruh.
M.A.G. ONE. Mine clearance of
Mersa Matruh approaches.
The Fourteenth Minesweeping Flotilla, consisting of
CROMARTY, and BOSTON, in company with danlayers and A/S
craft, reported having
swept up 46 mines during the day in the vicinity of Mersa
of H.M.S. CROMER
H.M.S. CROMER (Senior Officer, Fourteenth Minesweeping
struck at mine at 1715 and blew up in position 31-26.8N,
27-16E. CROMARTY and
BOSTON picked up four officers and thirty
(nine of which were seriously wounded). The Commanding
Officer was amongst
those missing. It would appear that CROMER struck a mine
which was slowing sinking just below the surface.
The situation as regards Force "X" appeared to be easing.
precautions in the harbour remained in force. The
undocking of LORRAINE was
delayed twenty four hours.
The late hospital ship SOMERSETSHIRE was moved across the
a further obstacle to prevent the ships of Force "X"
The Second Escort Group, less one corvette arrived from
H.M.S. CLYDE was sailed for Gibraltar and the United
Swordfish and Albacore aircraft attacked a force of three
6" inches and five destroyers in position 144 degrees Cape
miles when proceeding from Navarin to Messina. Two
explosions were seen, one
very large, but subsequent reconnaissance showed all
cruisers in harbour
apparently undamaged, but two destroyers were sunk.
10th November 1942
MANXMAN escorted by DULVERTON, CROOME, BEAUFORT and
was sailed from Port Said at 0700 arriving at Alexandria
after dark. Two
hundred military personnel were embarked for passage to
The two merchant ships did not arrive at their rendezvous
of Filfola Island at daylight and subsequent
reconnaissance did not locate
them; from subsequent information it appears that these
ships entered Bizerta
harbour after being fired on by coastal batteries and were
interned undamaged. Their
crews were subsequently repatriated to the United Kingdom.
Axis forces crossed into Cyrenaica from Egypt. Our forward
elements were operating in the Gambut area. The speed of
our advance was to a
great extent limited by the supply problem. A total of
24,153 German and
Italian prisoners of was had now passed through the cages.
Two M.T.B.s were sailed from Alexandria to rescue an
in approximately 32-55N, 26-15E. This was successful and
both M.T.B.s proceeded
to Mersa Matruh on completion.
The French battleship LORRAINE was undocked from the
Floating Dock. As a result of an interview with a
representative of the Allied
Commander in Chief, North Africa, Darlan ordered all sea,
land, and air forces
in North Africa, including Tunisia, to cease hostilities.
H.M.S. PORPOISE was retained at Malta for a possible
military personnel in the Sousse area to captain certain
coast defence guns.
7. H.M.S. ERICA was missed by
1847 in position 33-20N, 34-38E; a subsequent hunt was
11th November 1942
MANXMAN escorted by DULVERTON, BEAUFORT, ALDENHAM,
and BELVOIR was sailed from Alexandria at 0500 for Malta.
On passing through
the boom, MANXMAN grounded after outside the quarantine
breakwater. With the
assistance of a tug she was refloated at 0620 reporting no
apparent damage and proceeded.
After dark, the HUNTs turned back for Alexandria
and MANXMAN continued to Malta at high speed.
The Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron at Port Said was ordered to
to normal notice. The remaining ships of the Fleet and
those units in
Alexandria Harbour reverted to one hours notice for steam.
3. Capuzzo was occupied by our forces.
Eighth Army's advance was proceeding at a faster rate than
was occupied by the end of the day. A swept channel into
Mersa Matruh was
H.M.S. WOOLWICH arrived from Suez.
The four Greek merchant ships earmarked as blockships in
Canal Area were ordered to be
unloaded and released
The first batch of dockyard workmen for the Naval Base at
left Suez today.
H.M.S. P 46 returned to Malta from patrol off Cape San
Operation TORCH. At 1123 on 8th November in position
38-14N, 12-43E she
torpedoed and hit a REGOLO class cruiser heavily escorted
by destroyers. This
hit was confirmed by a subsequent reconnaissance of
The Naval Commander, Expeditionary Force, transferred the
operational control of the Tenth Submarine Flotilla to the
Commander in Chief,
Mediterranean, which had been under his direction for the
initial stages of
9. The following signal was made by
Commander, Expeditionary Force, to Captain (S),
submarines as you consider most effective to cut Axis
communication with Bizerta, Tunis, and East Tunisian
ports. Possible movements of the Italian Fleet to
westward need not be catered for."
12th November 1942
DULVERTON with ALDENHAM, CROOME, HURWORTH, BELVOIR, and
BEAUFORT arrived at Alexandria at 0630.
H.M.S. MANXMAN arrived at Malta at 1700 without incident.
The supply of petrol and water from L.C.T.s was proceeding
satisfactorily. Bardia was occupied and water supplies
were found intact. The
jetty was completely demolished; there were no alongside
berths for any type of
craft, up to five landing craft could however, discharge
onto an unsheltered
Reconnaissance reports showed that the enemy was
Tobruk. All landing grounds east of Tobruk were in our
hands. The following signal was sent
by the Arm Commander to the
Commander in Chief, Mediterranean Station:
very sincere thanks for your kind message which is much
appreciated by the Eighth Army. We send to the Navy our
thanks in the part they
have played, first in safeguarding the passage of troops
and supplies without
which the offensive would not have been possible, and
secondly, in the direct
assistance during the present operations."
Two M.T.B.s were sailed from Mersa Matruh to patrol off
Mreisa during the night to intercept shipping and small
craft proceeding from
Bardia and Tobruk.
H.M.S. TAKU (Lieutenant A.J. Pitt), returned to Port Said
very successful working up patrol in the Aegean. She
reported having sunk a
caique in the vicinity of Kupho, and the Italian tanker
ARCA at 0804 on the
26th in position 38-04N, 25-27E. At 1056 on 31st October,
in position 37-30N,
24-03E, she probably sank a medium sized merchant ship out
of a convoy of three
ships, escorted by three trawlers.
H.M.S. UTMOST returning from patrolling between Cape de
Cape Spartivento, Calabria which
was of Operation
TORCH. UTMOST sighted three Italian cruisers escorted by
six destroyers off
Cape Santo Croce, who were westbound from Navarin to Port
Augusta. At 0737, on
the 10th November, UTMOST attacked the rear cruiser but
missed, and she sank
one of the escorting destroyers.
Photographic reconnaissance of Taranto showed that three
battleships escorted by nine destroyers had left Taranto.
One large and one small ex Italian Government Floating
seized in prize at Massawa after having been salvaged.
The Turkish ferry DARICA, ran
in position 12-55N, 48-15E on the night 11th/12th
November. She was refloated
by tugs from Aden and Assab and sustained no damage.
13th November 1942
was cleared of the enemy today and occupied by our forces.
enemy had left hurriedly and little demolition had taken
place. Many of the
jetties were seriously damaged as a result of our own
bombing and several
wrecks were found in addition to the many already there.
The inner boom was
intact, but the outer boom was useless. Water supplies
were uncontaminated. The
wreck of an Italian submarine of the BALILLA class was
found beached in
position 32-04.6N, 23-59.2E. This U
boat had been hit by two
bombs in a raid by U.S. Army Air Force bombers on
the 7th November. She
was subsequently completely wrecked internally by
demolition and salvage was
The operation and loading of Western Desert ships and
Alexandria took precedence over the restrictions
previously imposed due to
Two M.T.B.s were sailed from Mersa Matruh and operated in
vicinity of Tobruk during the night to intercept enemy
westward, but found nothing.
The Mobile M.T.B. Base was transferred to Sollum in order
the M.T.B.s could operate against enemy shipping
H.H.M.S. NEREUS arrived in Beirut from a long patrol in
Aegean, in spite of several engine defects. On the night
of 3rd/4th November,
Operation HOLLYM was successfully carried out. This
consisted of landing one
and a half tons of stores and three Greek agents on the
H.M.S. P 44 returned to Malta from patrol off the
Sicily to cover Operation TORCH. H.M.S. P 44 witnesses an
attack on a REGOLO
class cruiser by H.M.S. P 46 at 1125 on 8th November, 16
miles northwest of
Cape San Vito, which blew a considerable portion of her
bow away. H.M.S. P 44
attempted to finish her off, but missed, though an
escorting destroyer may have
H.M.S. UNA also returned to Malta from patrol off the
approaches of Messina and Port Augusta for the initial
stages of Operation
TORCH. At 0710 on 10th November, H.M.S. UNA sighted an
enemy force of three 6 inch
cruisers, escorted by six destroyers in position
37-11N, 15-30E. The cruisers were missed by UNA, but a
fleet destroyer on the
far side of the screen was hit and sunk.
Visual reconnaissance of Naples showed three LITTORIO
battleships, four cruisers, and eight destroyers in
14th November 1942
AND ITALIAN FORCES ENTERED UNOCCUPIED FRENCH TERRITORY,
BUT NOT TOULON
STONEAGE. Convoy of
Four Store Ships to Malta
Convoy M.W. 13 consisting of DENBIGHSHIRE, BANTAM (Dutch),
LOCKSLEY and MORMACMOON (both American) arrived at Abu
Sultan, just south of
Ismailia. The Rear Admiral Commanding, The Fifteenth
Cruiser Squadron arrived
from Port Said and conducted the convoy conference during
The orders for Operation SNEEZE were cancelled, but
precautions were kept at reasonable notice.
The enemy's opposition in the Gazala area was slight, but
main forces continued retreating towards Tocra. Tmimi was
occupied at the close
of the day.
The cased petrol carrier EMPIRE PATROL was sailed from
for Bardia and Tobruk with 1200 tons of aviation spirit
and 300 tons of benzine
for the advanced landing grounds at Gazala in order that
aircraft could operate
from there for Operation STONEAGE. Many L.C.T.s, L.C.M.s,
L.C.P.s, Z craft,
pontoon, and water carriers were on passage to Mersa
Matruh, Bardia, and
H.M.S. WHITEHAVEN reported being attacked by two Italian
bombers when in the vicinity of Mersa Matruh. All the
torpedoes missed and the
aircraft made off undamaged.
Two M.T.B.s again operated in the Tobruk area, but found
The restrictions imposed on the 30th June 1942 on the
ships allowed in the harbour were now removed; the
shipping authorities were
informed that the port could be worked to its maximum
Schooner traffic south of Tripoli (Syria) was suspended on
account of U boat activity.
15th November 1942
sailing of the convoy for Malta was delayed twenty
four hours pending our occupation of the Gambut
oilfields. (n.b. pen
The Rear Admiral Commanding, Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron in
CLEOPATRA in company with ORION, ARETHUSA, and DIDO,
escorted by DULVERTON,
PINDOS, BEAUFORT, CROOME, TETCOTT, and ALDENHAM were
sailed from Port Said
arriving at Alexandria at 1530.
About twelve M.T.B.s remained available for any offensive
against Force "X" if required. In addition to this, all
H.A. and coast defence
guns remained in position.
Bardia and Tobruk were reported to be
of mines. Derna and Martuba landing grounds were clear of
the enemy. A dusk
raid at Tobruk by three JU 88s resulted in no damage. The
first railway train
reached Mersa Matruh today.
H.M.S. P 212 on patrol in the Gulf of Sirte,
reported that British prisoners of war were being
evacuated from Benghazi to
Tripoli in small coastal shipping. (see
Diary for 25th November).
The schooners EL HANNAM and SAMIKA commissioned at Port
today for service in the Western Desert.
A.A. Gunnery training facilities at Port Said
ordered to be transferred to Alexandria.
16th November 1942
N.W. 13 transitted the Canal and passed through Port Said
dusk. H.M.S. EURYALUS and eight Fleet destroyers joined
the convoy off the end
of the Port Said searched channel.
Heavy weather along the Libyan coast made the passage for
craft precarious; Bardia was unworkable due to heavy
H.M.S. EMPIRE PATROL offloaded 400 tons of aviation spirit
Bardia and then sailed for Tobruk to await
Vice Admiral Malta had reported that 2000 tons of aviation
spirit had been
discharged from the merchant ships of STONEAGE. If
STONEAGE had failed, it was
intended to sail her for Malta.
The merchant ship HERMALIN grounded whilst entering Mersa
but sustained no damage. Tobruk reported minesweeping
operations completed; a
special Wellington exploded one mine.
Derna and the landing ground were reported clear of the
but the roads east and west of the town were blocked.
At Derna, the small pier and jetty were found intact.
Two M.T.B.s were sailed from Ras el Hilal to intercept
leaving Benghazi on the night 15th/16th November, but were
forced to turn back
early due to weather.
Schooner traffic in the area south of Tripoli (Syria) was
H.M.S. RORQUAL arrived at Beirut from Port Said.
17th November 1942
convoy and close escort arrived off the Alexandria
Channel at 0700 when the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla relieved
the Fleet Destroyers
who proceeded into Alexandria to fuel. The Rear Admiral
Cruiser Squadron in CLEOPATRA, with DIDO, ARETHUSA, ORION,
and the Twelfth and
Fourteen Destroyer Flotillas were sailed at 1330 to
overtake the convoy at
daylight the next day.
In the south our advanced units were operating in the Msus
and astride the road south of Benghazi. The Martuba
unserviceable due to rain.
Two M.T.B.s were sailed from Tobruk to attack enemy
leaving Benghazi during the night 16th/17th November and
An enemy convoy of one 10,000 ton
tanker, escorted by two destroyers was attacked by Fleet
Air Arm aircraft at
2155 in position 050 degrees Homs 35 miles. Two torpedo
hits were scored on the
tanker which became heavily on
fire and sank.
The tug ANCIENT which had been
damaged and sunk
during the heavy air attacks in April 1942 was
salved and taken in hand
In view of the improved situation in the Mediterranean,
submarines of the 1st Flotilla discontinued carrying
petrol and stores to
7. The Egyptian motor schooner EL
FATTAL was sunk
by a single enemy aircraft in position 33-50N, 32-10E.
All the crew were saved.
18th November 1942
daylight, CLEOPATRA, ORION, ARETHUSA, and DIDO with seven
destroyers joined convoy M.W. 13 and the close escort. At
1110, the convoy was
attacked by six JU 88s, no damage resulting. One aircraft
was seen to crash. At
1620, in position 33-29N, 21-10E, 26 JU 52s passed ahead
of the convoy on a
northeasterly course escorted by two fighters. Four of our
and each claimed to have damaged one aircraft. At 1700,
the Fifteenth Cruiser
Squadron and Fleet Destroyers parted company in order to
cover the convoy to
2. At 1805 in position 33-36N, 20-44E,
was hit by an aircraft torpedo during a dusk
attack on the force by
about three torpedo bombers. PETARD was detached to escort
Two torpedo bombers attacked the convoy at 1825 and 1905
and the latter aircraft was probably
destroyed by U.S. ROBIN LOCKSLEY.
Fighter protection throughout the day
was provided by single
engined fighters from Martuba and Beaufighters
M.T.B.s made several attempts to attack shipping in the
area, but bad weather limited their activities.
Minesweepers began sweeping a
swept channel into Tobruk.
H.M.S. WELSHMAN arrived with stores, aircraft torpedoes
and a few
service personnel from Algiers.
H.M.S. P 48 arrived at Malta to join the Tenth Submarine
Flotilla. She had taken part in the early stages of
Operation TORCH as a
navigational mark off Algiers, afterwards carrying out a
patrol in the Gulf of
Tunis. Two unsuccessful attacks were made in this area,
and with all torpedoes
expended she was ordered to return to Malta.
H.M.S. P 45 also arrived at Malta to join the Tenth
Submarine Flotilla, She had
carried out a beach reconnaissance of one
of the Algiers' beaches and subsequently acted as a
navigational beacon for
Operation TORCH. On completion she carried out a troll in
the Gulf of Tunis. Three
attacks were made but all were unsuccessful.
H.M.S. HERO arrived at Aden from Port Said.
19th November 1942
covering force of cruisers and Fleet destroyers rejoined
convoy at daylight. Very rough weather was experienced all
day. During the
course of the forenoon, three Spitfires crashed ahead of
the convoy from
unknown causes; all three pilots were killed. At 1400 in
15-35E, CLEOPATRA, DIDO, ORION, and the six Fleet
destroyers parted company
with the convoy and returned to Alexandria.
of H.M.S. ARETHUSA to
At daylight all fires forward had been got under control
ARETHUSA was proceeding to the eastward in company with
PETARD making good a
speed of 10 knots. A few hostile aircraft attacked during
the day, but were all
driven off. JANUS and GLOXINIA joined ARETHUSA at the end
of the day.
The first convoy entered Tobruk; the discharge of cargo
petrol made a satisfactory start. The anti aircraft
defences of the port were
Gale weather all along the coast delayed the unloading of
in Bardia and Mersa Matruh.
H.M.S. WELSHMAN was retained at Malta, as it was intended
her for an operation for landing troops in the Sousse
H.M.S. P 43 returned to Malta from taking part in
in which the approaches to Messina and the North
corner of Sicily were covered. At 2350 on the 16th
November, in position
37-57N, 11-56E, she scored a hit with torpedoes on a
medium sized tanker; P 43
then surfaced and attempted to finish her off by gunfire,
but the tanker
retaliated and she was forced to dive. The ship was last
seen heavily listed
and attempting to beach herself.
Twenty survivors from the British S.S. LAPLACE were landed
merchant ship at Aden. They reported that their ship had
been torpedoed and
sunk by two torpedoes from a submarine in position 37-55N,
21-00E on the 29th
The Italian repatriation lines VULCANIA and SATURNIA
Berbera from Italy via the Cape.
Admiral Sir Howard Kelly, G.B.E., K.C.B., C.M.G., M.V.O.,
from Turkey and visited Admiral Harwood. He also had an
interview with Admiral
20th November 1942
0130 all ships of the convoy had arrived safely in the
Harbour, Malta. EURYALUS and ten HUNT class destroyers
berthed during the night
of 19th/20th November.
of H.M.S. ARETHUSA to
At 1345, PETARD reported that she had ARETHUSA in tow
first, and was making good a speed of three knots. A full
gale was blowing. She
was then in approximate position 31-21N, 28-37E. The tugs
arrived at 1630 from
Alexandria and towing operations continued through the
night. Rear Admiral,
Alexandria conducted towing operations from a tug
Commanding Officer ARETHUSA was no longer able to take
charge, being severely
The forward elements of the Eighth Army entered Benghazi,
today. L.C.T. 120 foundered in heavy weather, at 0747 in
position 35 miles east
northeast of Bardia. The South African minesweeper
BOKSBURG picked up
survivors. One rating was drowned.
L.C.M. 139 was stranded and became a total loss at Ras
longitude 27-48E. One rating lost his life.
The Boom working vessel BARFORD towing "Z" lighters and
ran into gale weather when some twenty miles to the west
of Alexandria. Four "Z" lighters were wrecked but were
H.M.S. P 37 arrived at Malta from a patrol for Operation
and followed by a patrol off Palermo. Several attacks were
carried out but all
missed; as all torpedoes were expended she was forced to
return to harbour.
H.M.S. PARTHIAN also arrived at Malta from a patrol line
Operation TORCH off Cagliari. At 17..
(n.b. page torn,
minutes missing) on the 13th November off Marittimo,
PARTHIAN torpedoed and
probably sank an escorted 4000 ton merchant ship. At 1130
on 16th November,
once again off Marittimo, PARTHIAN fired four torpedoes at
a large merchant
ship, possibly an armed merchant cruiser and may have
scored one hit.
The Swedish relief ships CAMELIA and FORMOSA sailed from
Gibraltar bound for Kalamata and the Piraeus via the
Straits of Messina. They
carried supplies of wheat from Canada for the Greeks. The
Swedish relief ship
EROS also left Gibraltar with wheat for Kalamata.
21st November 1942
of H.M.S. ARETHUSA to
CROMARTY arrived at dawn and every available tug continued
their efforts to get ARETHUSA in. At 1845, ARETHUSA passed
the boom after a
long and gallant struggle. Casualties in ARETHUSA were one
officer and 155
ratings killed, one officer (the Commanding Officer) and
42 ratings wounded.
H.M.S. EMPIRE PATROL was ordered to unload her cargo of
spirit at Tobruk owing to the safe arrival of convoy M.W.
13 at Malta.
A single enemy aircraft dropped bombs in Tobruk harbour.
fell close to H.M. Tug ST ISSEY but no serious damage
H.M.S. EURYALUS and the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla (less
TETCOTT) were sailed for Alexandria. EURYALUS embarked 28
German and Italian
prisoners of war.
H.M.S. ENDEAVOUR completed a survey of the entrance to
Halaib. The British S.S. URBINO ran aground on Ergriyah
33-35.8E). She was on passage from Mombasa to Haifa.
The Salvage Tug CONFEDERATE was sailed from Suez to her
Rear Admiral A. Poland (Retd), D.S.O. relieved Rear
Creswell, (Retd) D.S.O., D.S.C.
as Rear Admiral
H.M.S. P 35 returned to Malta from Operation TORCH and a
off the western coast of Calabria. P 35 sighted the three
escorted by twelve destroyers on the 12th November off
Cape Vaticano. A salvo
of torpedoes was fired but unfortunately did no damage. On
the 15th November, a
rail sabotage party was landed in the Gulf of Eufemia;
owing to considerable
barded wire entanglements being met, the party was forced
to withdraw. At 1416
in position 38-21.5N, 15-27.5E she probably sank a 7000
Italian passenger ship.
22nd November 1942
passage of H.M.S.
EURYALUS and Fifth Destroyer Flotilla
Ships DULVERTON and EXMOOR were detached at 1500 and were
ordered to proceed into Tobruk to fuel. Enemy aircraft
shadowed throughout the
day, but no attack developed until 2100, when two torpedo
bombers made an
Tobruk. Three single
enemy aircraft dropped bombs in the harbour during the
night; there was no
damaged. Over 1000 tons of cargo was discharged from ships
in harbour, but
there was still an insufficient amount of labour.
Benghazi. The Naval
base party was established today. There were two major
demolitions in the outer
and central Moles. The enemy made no attempt to block the
inner or outer
harbours. Six berths were reported as available on
completion of sweeping. The
enemy left a considerable amount of minesweeping and boom
defence gear as well
as 25 load and serviceable lighters.
No Italian civilians were left in the town and there were
6500 Arabs in the neighbourhood. Navy House (the ex Banca
D'Italia) was almost
undamaged. The Power Station and Fiat works were
The Commodore in Charge, Aden, in HERO arrived at Berbera
H.M.S. SKUDD IV was commissioned at Alexandria. This
had been undergoing extensive repairs for many months.
23rd November 1942
Agedabia was occupied by our forces.
Our advance was hindered by mines.
H.M.S. ANTWERP sailed from Alexandria escorted by PALADIN
PETARD with stores for Tobruk.
3. One British aircraft was shot down
SOFALA in a convoy of four ships bound from
Alexandria for Tobruk. This
aircraft failed to identify herself
and dived steeply
from astern onto the ships. SNAPDRAGON, ERICA, SOUTHERN
MAID, BURRA, and an
M.L. were escorting this convoy.
At Mersa Matruh the coastal defence guns and most of the
defences were removed for use at Benghazi.
At Benghazi a single enemy aircraft dropped bombs on the
during the night but no damage resulted. Some A.A.
Defences were already in place.
H.M.S. EURYALUS and Fifth Destroyer Flotilla (less CROOME
TETCOTT) entered harbour at 0900.
capture of Sousse to
assist TORCH forces
The WELSHMAN, who had been loaded with army guns, stores,
extra boats, was ordered to disembark this equipment, the
abandoned. The unloading of the recent convoy and lack of
craft caused the Admiralty to cancel the operation.
H.M.S. TEVIOTBANK arrived at Massawa and was taken in hand
repairs. Commodore in Charge, Aden, in HERO arrived at
Perim and inspected the
The British S.S. URBINO which was
the north end of Ergriya Reef was refloated by
H.M. Salvage Vessel CONFEDERATE.
The Admiralty approved the Title of Principal Sea
Officer, Egypt, being altered to Principal Sea Transport
Officer, Middle East,
in view of the fact that his sphere of responsibility now
extended to Malta and
the Persian Gulf.
24th November 1942
enemy had fallen back on to the El Agheila line and had
dig himself in.
An advanced M.T.B. base was established at Ras el Hilal.
One cased petrol carrier and one store ship escorted by
PALADIN, and PETARD arrived at Tobruk. The Senior Naval
Squadron, reported that the Port organisation at Tobruk
H.M. Ships PAKENHAM and NUBIAN were sailed from Alexandria
Haifa in order to escort an important ship from Haifa to
H.M.S. PORPOISE returned to Malta from a short patrol in
Khoms – Misurata area. At 0646 on 19th November, in
14-15E, she torpedoed and sank a tanker
which had been
stopped by aerial torpedo attack the previous day. Her
cargo was either benzine
or aviation spirit. The enemy made no effort to salve this
ship whilst stopped.
At 1016 on 23rd November, in position off the Kerkennah
PORPOISE engaged by gunfire the Italian naval auxiliary
GIACOMO of 730 tons,
carrying benzine. She quickly caught fire and was
abandoned. Two prisoners only
were taken as enemy aircraft interrupted the operation.
H.M.S. P 211 returned to Malta from a very successful
the East Tunisian coast in the Gulf of Sirte. At
1431 on 13th
November, when five miles off Sousse, she gunned and
sank the Italian auxiliary
brigantine BICE. Only the Captain of the BICE was
taken prisoner, the
remaining survivors, ten of them, being left in their
boat. They gave P 211 an
enthusiastic send off on her departure. Secret papers,
weeks Italian aircraft and
minor war vessels recognition
signals were found on the Captain of the Brigantine.
At 2300 on the 16th November, P 211 torpedoed a 2500
ton merchant vessel at Ras el Ali anchorage which
up in a sheet of flame; the ship was seen to be still
burning twenty four hours
later when the anchorage was again closed. At dawn on the
17th November, P 211
fired one torpedo at a concentration of L.C.T.s and
lighters in the vicinity of
the pier. The torpedo exploded at the landing place, where
it is probably
an ammunition lighter blew up.
At 2125 on 17th November, she torpedoed and sank a
the south western corner of
Marsa el Brega (30-25N,
19-35E). The following day at 0747, a small light vessel
with no crew was sunk
by gunfire in position 020 degrees Ras Ali 10 miles. At
1010 on the same day, P
211 gunned an enemy L.C.T. which
silenced one of its
guns and caused ammunition to explode.
At 1156 on 22nd November, P 211 gunned an L.C.T. two miles
of Ras el Sultan, scoring two hits. After ten minutes, the
action was broken
off, all ammunition having been expended.
During the patrol, P 211 (Commander B. Bryant, D.S.C.)
H.M.S. P 247 returned to Malta from taking part in
TORCH and a subsequent patrol in the Tunis and Bizerta
approaches. At 1644 on
the 5th November, in position 38-34N, 12-09E, she
torpedoed and sank an Italian
U boat of the COBALTO class at a range of 800 yards. She
through much oil and wreckage; no survivors were seen.
Quarantine restrictions were imposed, due to a case of
of naval personnel in the port were strictly limited. The
loading and unloading
of merchant ships was, however, continued.
Commodore in Charge, Aden, in HERO visited Assab.
25th November 1942
Rear Admiral Commanding, Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron in
in company with DIDO, EURYALUS, JERVIS, JAVELIN, NUBIAN,
and KELVIN were sailed
for Malta. These units were henceforth to be known as
Force K. PINDOS, BELVOIR,
and HURSLEY were sailed as additional escort to the
westward, parting company
after dark the following day.
The Second and Third Escort Groups were now employed for
escorting all coastal traffic west of Port Said and
including the Western
The Naval Officer in Charge, Derna, reported that the port
ready to receive one small ship and three L.C.T.s. Jaffa
lighters which had
been transported overland were successfully launched.
H.M.S. MANXMAN was sailed for Algiers to operate under the
of the Naval Commander, Expeditionary Force.
H.M.S. THRASHER was sailed for Gibraltar and refit in the
The Vice Admiral, Malta, reported that the unloading of
merchant sips of STONEAGE had been completed.
H.M.S. UTMOST (Lieutenant J.W.D. Coombe) did not return
patrol and was considered lost. She left patrol after
successfully attacking a
merchant ship north of Bizerta and was in approximate
position 47-40N, 11-03E
at 2300 on 23rd November. The Italian Press claimed a
British submarine at noon
on the 24th November. It is possible that UTMOST was
located and sunk by patrol
craft when proceeding down moon towards her diving
position for dawn on the
24th southwest of Marittimo.
H.M.S. 212 returned to Malta from Operation TORCH and
the Kerkennah and Gulf of Sirte areas. At 2050 on 14th
November, in position
35-14N, 11-18E, P 212 gunned and sank Italian S.S. SCILLIN
from Tripoli (Libya) for Trapani. She was carrying 810
British Prisoners of War
and over 200 Italian troops. Of these 26 British and 35
Italians were picked up
in 35 minutes. P 212 was forced to dive on A/S impulses
heard astern. About ten
men had to be left in the water. Only one torpedo was
fired which hit the
engine room; it is known that the bottom of the hold in
which the British
prisoners had been herded was blown out and that they died
SCULLIN sank in under a minute. All the British prisoners
were in an extremely
poor condition from lack of food and medical treatment. It
is interesting that
amongst the survivors was one Able Seaman from H.M.S.
SIKH, lost of Tobruk
during Operation AGREEMENT last September. (The Vice
Admiral Malta's submission
Malta No. 616/590/2 of 18th November 1942 refers). P 212
returned to Malta to
land survivors on the 15th November and sailed the
following day to continue
H.M.S. PAKENHAM and NUBIAN were sailed from Haifa to Port
escorting refrigerating ship NEW ZEALAND STAR.
The Commodore in Charge, Aden, in HERO, visited Kamaran
26th November 1942
Senior Officer, Fourteenth Minesweeping Flotilla reported
swept channel into Benghazi had been satisfactorily
cleared. Two merchant ships
arrived at Benghazi. This was the date originally planned
with the Army
Army labour both at Tobruk and Benghazi was reported to be
insufficient. Tugs and cement to repair the breakwater at
Benghazi was an
A single enemy bomber dropped bombs on Benghazi harbour
causing any damage. There were several reconnaissance
aircraft over the port
both by day and by night.
The Senior Naval Officer, Inshore Squadron established his
Headquarters at Benghazi.
The American Merchant ships ALCOA PROSPECTOR and AGWIMONTE
completed loading for Malta and were sailed from Port
Sudan to Mohammad Gul
(about 80 milts north of Port Sudan), to await
called forward. This was decided upon for reasons of
The last two ships of the four Italian repatriation
GUILIO CESARE and DUILO arrived at Massawa from Italy via
They were escorted in by the armed
27th November 1942
FRENCH FLEET SCUTTLED ITSELF IN TOULON ON THE ENTRY OF
Headquarters of the Naval Commander, Expeditionary Force,
moved from Gibraltar to Algiers.
Enemy aircraft dropped bombs on Benghazi but caused no
H.M.S. WOOLWICH was sailed in company with a convoy of
merchant ships escorted by PAKENHAM, PETARD, EXMOOR, QUEEN
OLGA, GLOXINIA, and
PROTEA from Port Said for Alexandria.
The cased petrol carried SZECHUEN in this convoy was sunk
internal explosion at 1620 in a position 025 degrees Port
Said High Light 13
miles. The cause was considered to be leaking containers
causing a petrol gas
explosion. Sabotage was not suspected. Casualties were
slight, consisting of
two ratings missing and ten injured.
H.M.S. WELSHMAN was sailed for Alexandria and Haifa to
submarine torpedoes which were
urgently required. Force
K (Rear Admiral Commanding, Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron in
EURYALUS, DIDO, JERVIS, JAVELIN, KELVIN, and NUBIAN)
arrived having experienced
no air attacks whilst on passage.
The British ships GLENARTNEY and SUFFOLK were sailed from
Sudan for Suez and Malta. The two American ships at
Mohammed Gul also proceeded
to Suez for Malta.
H.M.S. HERO returned to Aden from visiting Red Sea ports
Commodore in Charge, Aden.
Admiral Harwood had an interview with Admiral Godfroy.
No decision could be reached by
Admiral Godfroy as to the
intentions of himself and ships of Force X.
The Swedish relief ships CAMELIA and FORMOSA arrived at
and the Swedish ship EROS at Kalamata, all carrying wheat
for the Greek
28th November 1942
were signs of enemy U boats once again active on the
Desert convoy route.
H.M.S. ANTWERP having completed discharging stores was
from Tobruk for Alexandria escorting a cased petrol
An explosion took place in the cased petrol carrier
Tobruk causing the ship to become heavily on fire. The
engine room was flooded
in an endeavour to save the fore part. The majority of the
crew of the
KIUNGCHOW deserted their ship, most of the fire fighting
being done by Naval
Personnel. The cause was probably as a result of military
with hobnail boots, causing sparks and leaking containers.
The Greek submarine TRITON (Lieutenant Commander
R.H.N.) did not return from a patrol in the Aegean. Axis
broadcasts claimed her
by name and her crew as prisoners. Evidence shows she was
forced to the surface
by depth charges in the Doro Channel after attacking an
escorted convoy. She
was then rammed and sunk. A large number of her crew were
taken prisoner and
taken to the Piraeus. Two ratings managed to escape and
after some months
finally reached Egypt via Turkey and Syria.
H.M.S. THUNDERBOLT arrived at Malta to join the Tenth
Flotilla for Special Operations. She had sailed from the
United Kingdom direct
to Malta, making the passage in eighteen days.
The Flag of the Greek Commander in Chief, Rear Admiral A.
Sakellariou was hoisted in H.H.M.S. GEORGIOS AVEROFF.
29th November 1942
was closed down as a naval port. A Resident Naval Officer
under the Naval Officer in Charge, Tobruk remained to
operate the port as:
occasional shelter for ships
(b). Air Sea
of certain navigational lights.
A small number of enemy aircraft dropped bombs on Benghazi
dawn. There was no naval damage.
H.M.S. WELSHMAN arrived from Malta and after disembarking
passengers were sailed for Haifa.
A convoy of seven merchant ships and two tankers escorted
GLOXINIA, SOUTHERN SEA, SPETSAI and an M.L. were sailed
fro Benghazi, ships
being detached as necessary for Mersa Matruh and Tobruk.
Lieutenant Commander Huie, U.S.N. relieved Captain E.
U.S.N.R. as Officer in Charge of the United States Naval
Repair Base, Massawa.
Lieutenant General Andrews, Commander of the U.S. Forces
Middle East, made an inspection of the Massawa Base.
H.M.S. P 46 returned to Malta from a patrol in the Gulf of
At 0310 in position 31-19N, 16-38E, she engaged a small
tug with her 3" gun.
Forty five rounds were fired
causing superficial damage to
the tug. The action was discontinued as the breech jammed.
The Greek Commander in Chief agreed to take over the ex
submarine PERLA (P 712) and to undertake the work of
30th November 1942
Running of Four Fast Merchant ships to Malta
four merchant ships arrived at Lake Timsah at noon. The
Officer of the Escort, ORION was flown from Alexandria to
conduct the convoy
conference. PAKENHAM, PETARD, QUEEN OLGA, HURSLEY, and
BELVOIR were sailed from
Alexandria to Port Said to Awai the arrival of the convoy.
Tobruk. The cased
petrol carrier KIUNGCHOW was still burning but the fire
was well under control.
Benghazi. About seven
enemy aircraft dropped bombs, the majority of which fell
outside the port area.
There was no damage or casualties. Good progress was
reported in repairs of the
The move of 821 Squadron of the Fleet Air Arm (twelve
from the Western Desert was completed today. No aircraft
were lost during
passage. P 311 arrived today to join the Tenth Submarine
Flotilla. She had
sailed from the United Kingdom direct and reported passage
H.M.S. WELSHMAN arrived at Haifa.
Quarantine and all plague restrictions were removed. There
been no service casualties.
Commander in Chief, Mediterranean, ordered the First
Flotilla to operate again Aegean traffic with the
– Suda – Candia route
– Piraeus route
H.M.S. UNA arrived at Malta from a lively patrol in the
Tunis. She reported that at 0147 on 27th November, she
torpedoed and sank one
of two merchant vessels escorted by a destroyer in
position 37-34N, 10-33E. The
merchant vessel was estimated to be of 4000 tons and blew
superficial damage to the UNA at 1200 yards. UNA was
narrowly missed by
torpedoes from an E boat when the vicinity of Port
H.M.S. P 44 returned from a patrol off Burat-el-Hsun,
(Libya), and Kerkennah areas. At 1845 on the 21st
November, P 44 entered Burat
harbour and engaged a schooner with her 3" gun, scoring
twelve hits, which was
considered sunk. The remainder of the patrol was without
H.M. Ships GLENROY and JANUS were sailed in company from
for extensive repairs in the United Kingdom.
H.M.S. HERO was sailed from Aden to carry out a patrol
the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb in order to intercept any
dhows going to Djibouti
or any members of the Italian Armistice Commission trying
to escape from that
town to the Yemen.
The Swedish ships AKKA and YARRAWONGA sailed from
bound for the Piraeus via the Straits of Messina with
further supplies of wheat
for the Greeks from Canada.
Axis losses during the month were as follows:
ships sunk totaling 41,450 tons
ships damaged totaling 29,540 tons
TAKU At Beirut
TURBULENT On passage from patrol for Beirut
TRAVELLER Patrol – Gulf of Taranto
PORPOISE At Malta
RORQUAL On passage, Beirut to Malta
OSIRIS Refitting at Port Said
UNA, P 44,
THUNDERBOLT At Malta
P 311, P 46,
P 212, P 247 At Malta
P 42 On patrol south of Marittimo
TROOPER On passage, Gibraltar to Malta
P 37, P 48, P
45 On passage west of line Cape Bon
PAPANICOLIS On patrol Aegean
KATSONIS Port Said, refitting
P 712 Refitting at Port Said.
OF EVENTS FOR November
month opened up a new era in the Mediterranean theatre of
the East the great victory of the Eighth Army at El
Alamein enabled sea
communications to be reestablished between the East and
Central Basins. In the
west, the landing in North Africa gave rise to the hope
that before long the
through Mediterranean route could be opened to sea
2. The defeat of the Axis forces at El
followed by a rapid advance throughout the month until
the enemy had dug himself
in on the El Agheila line. Mersa Matruh fell on
the 8th November, Sollum
on the 10th, Tobruk on the 13th, Derna on the 16th and
Benghazi on the 20th
November. This advance which
was scarcely opposed,
entailed a very difficult supply problem and most of the
efforts of the Navy
were devoted to safeguarding the sea born supplies to the
The landings in North Africa produced a complicated
situation vis a vis the French
Fleet at Alexandria. There was always
the possibility that Vichy might declare war and if this
were to happen there
was no certainty that Admiral Godfroy would not initiate
hostile action and
possibly attempt to leave the harbour. In the event, the
attitude of the French
Admiral and his force remained unchanged and in the
subsequent weeks the
problem was to persuade him to bring his ships over to the
Immediately the air situation in Cyrenaica permitted, the
convoy to be sent to Malta since the middle of August
reached the island on the
The war at sea was predominantly defensive in support of
supply lines and of the supply route to Malta from the
East. Our submarines
continued their offensive role, but except for two feints
to land troops behind
enemy lines, carried out by M.T.B.s, no offensive action
was practicable. Bombardments
by cruisers and destroyers were always at the call of the
Army but were not
desired principally because the fighter protection
involved could not be
The opening up of the Western Desert ports was in all
carried out up to time. The minesweepers swept the
quickly. Unfortunately, CROMER, Senior Officer, Fourteenth
Flotilla, was mined and sunk at Mersa Matruh.
The enemy caused little hindrance during these operations,
"Z" craft, lighters, and other small craft had some
difficult passages on
account of the weather. L.C.T.s carrying full cargos were
sent forward and
after unloading, they were used for the discharge of
merchant ships. One L.C.T.
was lost as a result of the heavy weather. The demolitions
at the various ports
had not been so serious as was expected and the rate of
cargo discharge was not
seriously hindered thereby.
Two cased petrol carriers were lost during the month as a
of internal explosion. These vessels have always been a
cause of anxiety. The
petrol cases almost invariably leak; the holds are
therefore running with
petrol and the resultant fumes are a constant source of
Enemy air attacks on Tobruk and Benghazi were on a small
damage or casualties being caused.
is naturally the principal port at which Army supplies
for the Western desert are loaded and all convoys assemble
proceeding westward. The loading and assembly of these
convoys was hampered by
the necessity to reduce shipping in the harbour to the
minimum as a precaution
against possible action by ships of the French Squadron.
Therefore, as a
precaution against such action, a number of shore
batteries were mounted round
the harbour in the best positions to cover the French
Fleet. Certain merchant
ships berths had to be kept clear of the lines of fire of
these batteries. It
was also necessary to retain a force of M.T.B.s and
aircraft at short notice in
case an attack on the French Fleet was found necessary.
The Fifteenth Cruiser
Squadron and Fleet destroyers were kept to Port Said at
short notice in
readiness for sea until the tension eased. They arrived at
Alexandria on the
15th November, by which time it was clear that Admiral
Godfroy had no hostile
At the beginning of the month, Malta's supplies were at
a very low ebb. The immediate
requirement was sufficient
aviation spirit to enable aircraft from the Island to play
their part to the
full during Operation TORCH. There was not sufficient
petrol in the island to
It was clear that no convoy could expect to pass through
Alley" until fighter protection from the Cyrenaica
airfields could be afforded.
This could not be expected before the end of the month and
problem remained to send sufficient petrol to tide over
the intervening period.
WELSHMAN from Gibraltar (n.b. pen
insertion. WELSHMAN carried no air spirits), and the
PARTHIAN, TRAVELLER, and THRASHER from Beirut all carried
cargoes of aviation
spirits in the early part of the month and this small
sufficient. Arrangements were also made to send a fifteen
knot ship with aviation spirit via Turkish
territorial waters, north of
Crete, relying on disguise and evasive routeing. The risks
were obviously very
great. While to the westward of Cyprus, the ship was
sighted by both aircraft
and a U boat; later an engine room defect forced her to
return to Famagusta and
the operation was cancelled.
Next to aviation spirit, the most urgent requirement was
island was on siege rations which
it was expected
would be exhausted by the middle of December. MANXMAN with
300 tons of special
concentrated foodstuffs helped to relieve the situation
before the convoy could
arrive. She left Alexandria early on the 11th November and
made an uneventful
passage to Malta in thirty six
The turning point in Malta's fortunes was reached when
store ships arrived intact on the 20th November. Enemy
opposition was confined
to one high level and one torpedo bombing attack. During
the torpedo attack,
ARETHUSA was hit forward of the bridge and after a long
and grueling struggle
in gale weather she managed to reach Alexandria.
The fact that Malta in addition to being supplied with
spirit just in time was also reinforced by Spitfires and
Albacores enabled the
island to resume its striking power from the air.
By the end of the month, Force K consisting of CLEOPATRA,
EURYALUS, and Fleet destroyers was sailed from Alexandria
to Malta. It was also
decided to send M.T.B.s forward to Malta as soon as the
weather allowed and
they were moved forward to Benghazi as opportunity
offered, so as to be in
instant readiness to cross the Central Basin. For a short
two M.T.B.s were based on Ras el
Hillal to act as a striking force
against any enemy shipping which might attempt to reach
Tripoli by the Eastern
Route. No such opportunity was presented and
these M.T.B.s eventually
also found their way to Malta.
All the available submarines of the First and Tenth
Flotillas took part in the initial phase of Operation
TORCH. They were disposed
on a line between Cape St Vito and Cagliari, and off the
Straits of Messina to
intercept Italian surface units who may have attempted to
hinder our North
African operations. This they never did, though P 46
torpedoed a REGOLO class
cruiser when north of Palermo which was probably
undergoing trials. As the
enemy's surface units did not come out, submarines were
redisposed on the 11th
November in order to cut the Axis supply lines to Tunisia
and Tripoli. UTMOST
was lost during patrol in the Tunis-Bizerta approaches.
The enemy rapidly
developed this A/S and air patrols to make these
operations hazardous in the
extreme. His use of A.S.V. soon became evident.
Results in the Sicilian Channel were disappointing but the
enemy's shipping losses between Naples and Marittimo were
H.M.S. P 35 attack the three LITTORIO battleships north of
Straits of Messina when on passage to Naples from Taranto
on the 12th November.
A last minute alteration of course by the battleships
deprived her of a
favourable attacking position.
The enemy's schooner traffic hugging the Eastern coast of
Tunisia suffered severely and little shipping reached
H.M.S. P 212 when on patrol in the Kerkenah area sank an
merchant ship. Unfortunately she was overcrowded with
British Prisoners of War
from Tripoli (Libya). It is feared near 800 of these lost
A few were picked up by P 212.
H.M.S. TAKU and the Greek submarines NEREUS and TRITON all
carried out patrols in the Aegean. TRITON, however, did
not return. She was
sunk by depth charges after an attack on an enemy convoy
in the Doro Channel. TAKU
sank an Italian tanker, a
medium sized merchant ship
and a caique on her patrol, her Commanding Officer's first
in these waters. The
enemy's shipping losses in this Aegean have done much to
create alarums and
excursions, and succeeded in diverting a portion of his
A/S and air patrols
from other theatres.
Particularly quiet month; only one schooner was sunk, and
by a single enemy aircraft; there were however,
indications of the presence of
enemy U boats but no attacks developed. One movement of
troops took placed
between the Levant and Cyprus.
At Port Said, an outbreak of plague amongst the native
population occurred. Fortunately, it did not spread and
casualties were few; a
serious outbreak would have entailed delays in the turn
round of merchant
shipping and might have had far reaching results on the
supply of the Eighth
Army. WOOLWICH was sailed for Alexandria at the end of the
There was no enemy air activity of any kind. ENDEAVOUR
out some useful survey work at Port Berenice and Marsa
Halaib. At Massawa, one
merchant ship, a large and a small floating dry dock were
raised and seized in
prise. Captain Ellsburg, U.S.N., Head of the U.S. North
African Repair Mission,
left Massawa on the 29th November.
H.M.S. HERO was unfit for Fleet work and was sent down to
for local escort duties under the Commodore in Charge,
on the Station
The following ships joined the station:
and P 311
lent from the Eastern Fleet for minelaying operations in
the Straits of Bab- el-Mandeb
following ships left the Station
GLENROY, and JANUS all left for refits in the United
torpedoed by aircraft
by a mine
UTMOST and Greek TRITON overdue from patrols.
foundered in heavy weather.
WAR DIARY –
1st December 1942
passage of four merchant ships and a tanker to Malta
convoy, consisting of the British ships GLENARTNEY and
and the American ships AGWIMONTE and ALCOA PROSPECTOR,
escorted by PAKENHAM,
PETARD, QUEEN OLGA, HURSLEY, and BELVOIR was sailed from
Port Said at 1430
having been delayed by fog at Ismailia.
The fire in the cased petrol carrier KIUNGCHOW at Tobruk
extinguished and after five hours pumping the
refloated. There was an air raid on Tobruk, bombs being
dropped in the harbour
area. An R.A.F. high speed
launch was rendered
unserviceable from near misses.
Fleet Air Arm Albacores damaged a tanker in a convoy of
merchant vessels and five destroyers when fifteen miles
south of Marittimo at
2255. Naval aircraft hit and set on fire a 2/5000
merchant vessel in the Kerkennah area.
H.M.S. WELSHMAN, having completed torpedoes and stores for
was sailed from Haifa for Alexandria.
The Italian repatriation liners, SATURNIA and VULCANIA
from Berbera for Italy via the Cape.
2nd December 1942
ORION escorted by PALADIN, DULVERTON, EXMOOR, HURWORTH,
ALDENHAM, and PINDOS was sailed from Alexandria to
rendezvous with the convoy. HURWORTH
was detached at 1800 and returned to Alexandria with
defects. PETARD picked up
six occupants of an R.A.F. dinghy at 2230.
As the Vice Admiral Malta reported that furnace fuel was
required, it was decided that a tanker
which was shortly due
to Benghazi should be included in the convoy. It
had originally been
intended to send this tanker to Malta in a separate convoy
H.M. Ships CROOME and TETCOTT were sailed from Malta for
as escort for the tanker.
A few enemy aircraft raided Tobruk. The South African
BOKSBURG was damaged by near misses. Twelve aircraft
attacked Benghazi harbour
shortly before dawn. There was no naval damage. Two enemy
probably destroyed by gunfire.
H.M.S. WELSHMAN arrived at daylight from Haifa,
she embarked service personnel and was sailed at 1830 to
Two low flying JU 88s were operating in the vicinity of
harbour; they were not detected by
the R.D.F. Stations.
Captain (D), Fourteenth Destroyer Flotilla in JERVIS, in
with JAVELIN, NUBIAN, and KELVIN sailed at 1400 to
intercept an enemy convoy of
one tanker and two merchant ships escorted by two torpedo
boats and a destroyer
steering for Ras Turgeuness. The Fleet Air Arm and P 35
attacked this convoy
south of Kerkennah at 2100. Two merchant ships were sunk,
and possibly a third.
Force K destroyers arrived on the scene shortly after
midnight and sank a
torpedo boat destroyer of the CENTAURO class which was
engaged in picking up
survivors from a merchant ship which had just been sunk.
The destroyer sank at
0047 on the 3rd December in position 34-34N, 11-39.5E.
JAVELIN observed about
200 to 300 men in the water. No damage or casualties were
sustained by any of
H.M.S. TURBULENT arrived at Beirut, having completed a
patrol of 35 days, broken only by a few hours in Malta to
collect orders to
Operation TORCH. The first part of the patrol was spent in
an area south east
of Sardinia. At 1627 on the 11th November, in position
39-10N, 9-39E, she sank
a 4000 ton merchant ship,
quite possibly a German
submarine depot ship. She was then ordered to the Naples
area; she only just
failed to intercept the three LITTORIOs going north from
Messina to (n.b. see entry for 12 November, LITTORIOs
en route from Taranto to Naples) on the 12th
November. On her way back to
Beirut, TURBULENT visited Sirte, carrying out a short
bombardment of M.T. in
H.M.S. TROOPER arrived an
Malta after an
uneventful passage direct from the United Kingdom.
H.M.S. HERO on patrol off Djibouti reported having
dhow in ballast. Information was obtained that the Italian
Djibouti had been interned and that only sufficient French
to preserve order. The food situation was reported as
serious; the population were
looking forward to a British entry.
3rd December 1942
tanker YORBALINDA, escorted by CROOME and TETCOTT joined
convoy at 1700 northeast of Benghazi. Force K, CLEOPATRA,
JERVIS, KELVIN, and NUBIAN were sailed at Malta at 1900
with the intention of
covering the convoy from surface attack during the night
of 3rd/4th December.
WELSHMAN joined the convoy at daylight; she was detached
dark and proceeded on ahead to Malta at high speed.
A convoy of two empty merchant ships escorted by
GLOXINIA, and SOUTHERN SEAS sailed from Benghazi for
Alexandria, being joined
by merchant ships from Tobruk and Derna. The second supply
convoy for Benghazi
of four ships, arrived intact.
The port was getting
well into its stride, and the daily cargo discharge
figures were most
4th December 1942
K joined up with the convoy at daylight and remained as
escort throughout the day.
2. Benghazi was raided by about twelve
aircraft. There was no naval damage. Two aircraft
were shot down.
H.M.S. WELSHMAN arrived reported no incidents on passage.
M.T.B.s arrived from Bone.
H.M.S. PORPOISE was sailed for Gibraltar and the United
to undergo a refit.
Naval aircraft attacked shipping in the Zuara area. Two
ships were hit, one of which sank in three minutes. The
other was left burning.
The Egyptian sailing vessel MANNSOURA BELLAH was bombed by
unidentified aircraft sixty five
miles west of Haifa. There
was no damage or casualties.
5th December 1942
four merchant ships and the tanker arrived safely in the
Harbour, Malta. CLEOPATRA, ORION, EURYALUS, and DIDO,
eight Fleet Destroyers
and nine HUNTS also arrived. In spite of being shadowed at
various times on
passage, the convoy sustained no enemy air attacks
whatsoever throughout the
It was decided that Benghazi should be worked to its
capacity and a target of 2000 tons per day was
aimed at, to
be supplied by sea.
The Fourteenth Minesweeping Flotilla of three ships was
for Port Said.
Rear Admiral Barthe and Commandant Gandin arrived at
from Algiers to see Admiral Godfroy in order to persuade
him to bring his force
over to the Allies. They had many interviews with the
Commander in Chief.
H.M.S. WELSHMAN in company with PALADIN was sailed for
The Greek submarine PAPANICOLIS returned from a short
the Aegean, having developed defects to her telemotor
system. At 1635 on the
30th November, in position 36-15N, 27-44E, she sank a
merchant vessel estimated
to be of 6000 tons.
Special Operation OXFORD.
On the night of 26th to 27th November, PAPANICOLIS landed
a sabotage party of
three men at Suia Bay (southern Crete).
H.M.S. P 42 returned to Malta on completion of a long and
patrol in the Marittimo/Palermo area in which few
opportunities of attack
H.M.S. P 712 (ex Italian PERLA) was formally handed over
Greek Navy and renamed MATROZOS.
H.M.S. HERO arrived at Zeila from Aden to land the Staff
Intelligence to Commodore in Chief, Aden, who remained to
keep in touch with
the U.S. consul from Aden concerning negotiations between
the Governor of
Djibouti, Free French, British, and United States
The Greek destroyer KANARIS (originally H.M.S. HATHERLEIGH
– HUNT class) arrived at Aden to join the Mediterranean
6th December 1942
QUADRANGLE "A" passage
of Two ships to Malta (Convoy MW 15)
was decided to sail merchant ships to Malta in pairs;
were to be sailed with ordinary Western Desert Convoys to
the vicinity of
Benghazi where surface forces from Malta were to reinforce
the escort for the
passage across the Central Basin.
H.M. Ships WHITEHAVEN, CROMARTY, and BOSTON sailed from
at 1400 escorting on U.S. Ship (AMERICAN PACKER) and one
British ship (OZARDA)
H.M.S. SNAPDRAGON in company with SAKTOURIS, ROMEO,
BIRDWOOD, MAPLE, SOUTHERN MAID, and one M.L. were
escorting a convoy of four
merchant ships from Alexandria to Tobruk and Benghazi.
having sunk four floating mines whilst on passage.
L.C.M. 98 was sunk by cannon fire from two JU 88s in
32-10N, 19-35E. There were no casualties.
S.S. CLAN MACINDOE, destined for Malta, was sailed in a
from Haifa to Port Said for onward routing, being escorted
by AETOS, PRIMULA,
Commander in Chief, approved
retention of KANARIS in the Aden area pending
clarification of the situation at
7th December 1942
M.H. Two - Convoy
of eight merchant ships and one tanker from Malta to
convoy consisted of MELBOURNE STAR, BRISBANE STAR,
CASTLE, PORT CHALMERS (arrivals at Malta in August from
the PEDESTAL convoy run
from Gibraltar), BANTAM (Dutch), MORMACMOON (U.S.), ROBIN
DENBIGHSHIRE and the Panamanian tanker YORBALINDA
(arrivals from the STONEAGE
convoy on 20th November from Port Said). The convoy was
sailed at 1000 escorted
by ORION (Senior Officer), PAKENHAM, DULVERTON, TETCOTT,
HURSLEY, ALDENHAM, CROOME, PETARD, QUEEN OLGA, and PINDOS.
From 1755 to 1825,
the force was unsuccessfully attacked
by torpedo bombers. DULVERTON
had one officer killed and four ratings wounded by gunfire
from the convoy. A
Spitfire and PETARD each claimed to have shot down one
A mobile beach party reported the completion of a
of El Zouetina (position 30-56N, 20-06E), as a supply port
for Eighth Army
supplies. It was found to be of use in fair weather only.
3. Benghazi was raided by about
There was no Naval damage.
H.M.S. BOREALIS exploded a magnetic mine close to the
H.M.S. WELSHMAN and PALADIN arrived from Malta. The former
taken in hand for reconversion to minelaying after a long
period as a store
H.M.S. DIDO was sailed for Bone, to reinforce Force Q in
Western Mediterranean. Three M.T.B.s were also sailed for
H.M.S. P 45 returned to Malta from a patrol in the Gulf of
in support of Operation TORCH. Several attacks were
carried out but without
Photographic reconnaissance of Taranto confirmed that
LITTORIO battleships (VITTORIO VENETO, LITTORIO, and ROMA)
had left Harbour.
The last of the Italian repatriation liners, GUILO CESARE
DUILO sailed from Massawa for Italy via the Cape. SAGITTA
escorted these ships
till well clear of the harbour.
8th December 1942
convoy was shadowed from 0940 to 1020 and two
were destroyed by the fighters. At 1330, five JU
dive bombed the convoy without
causing any damage. One
aircraft was shot down by gunfire and seen to crash
nearby. At 1800 fighters
destroyed a shadowing aircraft. ORION with EXMOOR,
HURSLEY, ALDENHAM, and
CROOME parted company at 1900 and proceeded to the north
west of Benghazi to
await a convoy proceeding to Malta from the east.
H.M.S. P 48 returned to Malta on completion of a very
patrol in the approaches to Tunis and later in the
Tyrrhenian Sea. Two attacks
were carried out but on both occasions all her torpedoes
H.M.S. HERO returned to Aden from Zeila in order to
9th December 1942
– passage of Two merchant ships (Convoy MW 16) to Malta
CLAN MACINDOE and the tanker ERINNA were sailed from
in company with one merchant ship for Benghazi escorted by
Apart from very slight air attack at dusk, the passage of
east to the eastward was without incident.
The following ships were escorting convoys between
REDWOOD, ST MINVER, LANGLAATE, AMBER,
ISLES, PROTEA, SOUTHERN MAID, SNAPDRAGON, SAKTOURIS,
ROMEO, and ML 355.
Advanced M.T. B. base was moved to Benghazi.
H.M. Ships JERVIS, JAVELIN, and NUBIAN carried out a sweep
night of the 8th/9th December between Ras Turgeuness and
Kerkennah, but sighted
The unloading of all the merchant ships of Operation
was completed. There were no enemy air attacks on the
Spitfire patrols were flown over the ships by day during
H.M.S. P 43 returned to Malta from patrol in the Marittimo
and the northern approaches to the Gulf of Tunis. P 43 had
no successes and was
accurately detected and hunted by A/S craft no less than
Commodore Aden reported that 15 survivors from the
tanker BELITA, torpedoed south of Socotra on the 3rd
December, had landed at
Bandar Alula from a lifeboat. A second lifeboat was last
seen heading for the
Brothers. HERO returned to Aden from Zeila and a patrol in
10th December 1942
BELVOIR was sailed from Tobruk at 1100 to rendezvous with
convoy M.W. 15 proceeding to Malta.
Photographic reconnaissance left some doubt as to whether
three 6 inch cruisers at Messina had left or not. Force K
was sailed from Malta
at 1100 to meet convoy M.W. 15. At 1315 the Vice Admiral
Malta recalled Force K
when it was established by reconnaissance that no threat
had developed. CLEOPATRA,
EURYALUS, JERVIS, KELVIN, and NUBIAN returned to Malta at
H.M.S. ORION in company with HURSLEY, CROOME, ALDENHAM,
joined M.W. 15 at 0700, arriving at Malta with the convoy
The Panamanian tanker YORBALINDA was detached from the
to fuel shortage, and entered Alexandria with DULVERTON
and PINDOS. BELVOIR was
sent into Tobruk to fuel and to escort a westbound coastal
Over 2000 tons of cargo was discharged into Benghazi
Negotiations continued, to
Governor of Djibouti to come over to the Fighting French.
11th December 1942
– Convoy M.W. 16
was decided that PALADIN and BELVOIR were to continue the
of the convoy of two ships to Malta after detaching a
third merchant ship off
Benghazi, which was escorted by HURWORTH. ORION and four
HUNTS were ordered to
remain in Malta, without meeting M.W. 16
The convoy of eight ships escorted by PAKENHAM, PETARD,
OLGA arrived at Port Said at 0700. PAKENHAM was sailed on
Convoy A.W. 13 consisting of three ships was sailed from
Alexandria for Benghazi, escorted by DELPHINIUM, CUMBRAE,
SEAHAM, and SOUTHERN
Two L.C.T.s commenced unloading petrol and ammunition at
Zuetina (30-57N, 20-07E).
Five Albacores of 826 Squadron (Fleet Air Arm) arrived
Cyrenaica. One aircraft forced landed in the sea on
passage, and its crew was
recovered four days later.
H.M.S.A. Salvage Vessel GAMTOOS arrived at Aden to join
Eastern Mediterranean Station. TEVIOTBANK in company with
the Mine Store
Issuing Ship GURNA was sailed from Massawa for Aden. She
had completed repairs
and had embarked a full outfit of mines.
12th December 1942
Ships EXMOOR, ALDENHAM, CROOME, and HURSLEY were sailed
Malta at 2300 to meet convoy MW 16 at daylight 13th
H.M.S. HURWORTH rejoined MW 16 at dusk and after dark
detached, proceeding on ahead at high speed to arrive at
Malta in daylight.
– Supplies to Malta
Convoy M.W. 17 (OCEAN VOYAGER and FORT TADOUSSAC) escorted
DULVERTON, PINDOS, and TETCOTT were sailed from Port Said
4. Benghazi was raided by twenty enemy
at 1920. There was no naval damage or casualties. The
shortage of labour and
tugs was reported as limited the discharge of cargo.
About twelve enemy aircraft raided Tobruk but no bombs
dropped in the harbour.
Commander in Chief informed the military authorities that
preparations for action against the ships of Force X were
no longer needed.
Fleet Air Arm Albacores blew up a large southbound
heavily escorted in position 37-42N, 11-55E at 2310. Naval
aircraft also laid
mines off Sousse harbour.
H.M.S. P 37 returned to Malta from a patrol in the Bizerta
of H.M.S. TRAVELLER
H.M.S. TRAVELLER (Lieutenant Commander D. St. Clair-Ford)
failed to answer signals since the 8th December,
considered lost. She was sailed from Malta on 28th
November to carry out a
reconnaissance of Taranto in connection with Operation
attacks by human torpedoes on Italian ports). The Italian
Press claimed that a
British submarine was sunk by a torpedo boat about this
H.M.S. PETARD and QUEEN OLGA were sailed for Malta direct
0700, but were later diverted into Tobruk, arriving at
2300. There were
indications that the enemy was running an important convoy
to Tripoli (Libya).
M.L. 360 was commissioned at Port Said.
13th December 1942
MW 17 escorted by DULVERTON, PINDOS, and TETCOTT entered
Alexandria at 0900. It was decided to postpone the sailing
of this convoy (a)
to allow rest for the Malta destroyers and (b) because of
regarding the whereabouts of Italian Fleet units.
H.M.S. PETARD and QUEEN OLGA were sailed from Tobruk to
3. Tobruk was raided by a few enemy
There was no naval damage; two enemy aircraft were
destroyed. Benghazi was raided by
twenty enemy aircraft. One heavy bomb
fell between the merchant ships HANNAH MOLLER and ROBERT
structural damage, which affected cargo discharge. One
aircraft was destroyed by our fighters and one probable.
Repairs by the
Royal Engineers to the Moles were making favourable
Vice Admiral Fenard and Rear Admiral Battet arrived at
from Algiers in order to see Admiral Godfroy in a further
attempt to persuade
him to bring his force over to the Allies.
M.T.B.s 266, 307, and 315 were sailed from Malta to Bone.
H.M.S. PALADIN arrived at daylight having proceeded on
convoy MW 16.
Force K, sailed at 1840 to intercept Axis supply ships on
to Tripoli (Libya). The force was divided into two
sections consisting of
CLEOPATRA (Rear Admiral Commanding, Fifteenth Cruiser
Squadron, ORION, PALADIN,
and KELVIN and JERVIS (Captain (D) Fourteenth Destroyer
Flotilla), NUBIAN, and
Fleet Air Arm Albacores sank a merchant ship bound for
south of Marittimo.
P 51 arrived at Malta from Gibraltar to join the Tenth
H.M.S. WOLBOROUGH arrived at Beirut having towed the small
Egyptian coaster CYPRUS from Famagusta.
14th December 1942
MW 16 of two merchant ships (CLAN MACINDOE and the tanker
ERINNA) escorted by EXMOOR, CROOME, HURWORTH, HURSLEY,
ALDENHAM, and BELVOIR
arrived at Malta at 0445.
Force K returned to harbour having met nothing. The Rear
Commanding, Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron reported that his
force was continuously
shadowed throughout the night. At 0540, it became clear
from the aircraft
reports that the enemy had turned back to the northward.
The convoy was
believed to have been on merchant ships, possibly two
merchant ships, and one
destroyer sighted about eighty miles east of Malta
steering for Tripoli
(Libya). Another enemy convoy was believed to have been
making for Tripoli
(Libya) coastwise from Ras Turgueness.
M.T.B.s 266, 307, and 316 on passage to Bone
attacked an unescorted merchant ship of 3000 tons at 1631
on the 14th December,
in position 37-06N, 11-52E. M.T.B.s were driven off by
accurate fire from this
Fleet Air Arm aircraft of 821 Squadron attacked a 3000
ton merchant ship beached one and a half miles
Sousse, scoring one hit amidships.
An exercise to test the defences of Beirut against attack
small craft was carried out during the night with M.L.s.
Royal Marines and
military personnel practicing landings from small craft.
15th December 1942
Benghazi was raided by about ten enemy
The HANNAH MOLLER was hit by a bomb on the port side of
the engine room and
sank by the stern. There were no casualties.
of the Italian U
At 0405, PETARD in company with QUEEN OLGA, whilst on
from Benghazi to Malta, in position 35-08N, 14-28E sighted
on the port bow what
was at first thought to be a ship. It was seen to be a
submarine and the
Commanding Officer of PETARD considering it might have
been P 35 returning to
Malta from patrol in the Gulf of Hammamet, made the
challenge. At 0410, PETARD
reported being over the submarine. Three attacks were
made, the last by QUEEN
OLGA which caused the U boat to
surface. After the first
attack, the U boat fired two torpedoes. PETARD boarded the
doing so he collided with the U boat not realising that
she was going ahead
under wheel after abandoning. PETARD's bows were set back
four feet and she
sustained under water damage forward and after
necessitating repairs in dock. She
was however reasonably seaworthy and could steam at least
twenty knots. PALADIN
and KELVIN were sailed from Malta at 1130 to assist.
PETARD had the U boat in
tow until 1223 when she sank. Thirty
were taken which included four officers. The Commanding
Officer of the UARSCIEK
was killed. Her signal publications and cyphers were
captured. PETARD and QUEEN
OLGA arrived at Malta at 1615.
H.M. Ships DULVERTON and BEAUFORT escorting the tanker
were sailed for Port Said.
H.M.S. P 35 returned to Malta on completion of a
patrol off the Eastern Coast of Tunisia.
At 1930 on the 2nd December, in position 35-28N, 11-20E
gunned and sank the 1100 ton Italian collier SACRO CUORE,
over forty years old,
on passage from Tripoli (Libya) to Italy. There were
some Luftwaffe personnel on board and a few soldiers. P 35
took nine German Air
Force personnel and one soldier prisoner,
remainder were able to pull ashore. P 35 returned to Malta
to land her
prisoners on the 4th December, sailing to resume her
four hours later.
At 0551 on the 9th December, P 35 grounded in position
10-37.4E in low visibility and with a defective echo
machine. By skillful manoeuvring P 35 was refloated at
0654 the same morning.
At 1200 on 9th December, in position 36-14.5N, 10-32.5E,
torpedoed and sank a 2000 ton
southbound merchant ship
which blew up.
At 0925 on the 11th December, P 35 rescued two German
a JU 52 in position 35-29N, 12-03E which
had been shot
down on the 9th December by a Beaufighter off Lampedusa.
They had been in their
dinghy for 50 hours.
At 1622 on the 13th December in position 45-54N, 10-39E
torpedoed a 1500 ton
southbound merchant ship which
ran aground stern first, well down by the bows and listing
to port; the ship
was carrying a deck cargo of M.T.
As a result of the many recent interviews, Admiral
attitude was still indecisive. His personal wishes were to
join the United
Nations, but the insecurity of the newly formed North
African Government was
still deterring him from coming to any decision.
H.M.S. TEVIOTBANK carried out the first lay of a defensive
minefield in the Straits of Bab el Mandeb. ROMNEY and
POOLE carried out a
skimming sweep on completion.
The Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet, Admiral Sir James
Somerville, K.C.B., K.B.E., D.S.O. and his Chief of Staff
Edwards visited Admiral Harwood at Alexandria. He and his
Chief of Staff were
returning to Mombasa after a short visit to the United
The Western Desert schooners EL HANNAN and SAMIKA were
as H.M. Ships and manned by T.124X personnel.
16th December 1942
Naval beach reconnaissance party surveyed Marsa el Brega
it to be unsuitable for the unloading of L.C.T.s
There were two air attacks on Benghazi during the day by
aircraft. No naval damage of casualties resulted. Fighters
shot down one enemy aircraft and gunfire destroyed
another, and one probable. Experimental
smoke defences with captured Italian material proved to be
a most conspicuous
success and an adequate deterrent.
During the last three days, M.T.B.s made three sorties
Benghazi to rescue aircraft crews; one of these was
successful, three survivors
being picked up.
A supplies from the east were arriving satisfactorily, it
decided that convoys already loaded and awaiting a
favourable opportunity for
passage through from the West should be discharged at
ports in the Western
Mediterranean as required by the Naval Commander,
Expeditionary Force. Malta
was therefore to rely solely on supplies from the Eastern
H.M. Ships DULVERTON and BEAUFORT were sailed from Port
Alexandria escorting PRINCESS KATHLEEN and the Panamanian
17th December 1942
QUADRANGLE C - passage
of two merchant ships to Malta
M.W. 17 consisting of PORT TADOUSSAC and OCEAN VOYAGER
for Malta) and ANTWERP and PRINCESS KATHLEEN with military
personnel for Benghazi were sailed from Alexandria at
1700; PAKENHAM, DULVERTON,
BEAUFORT, TETCOTT, and PINDOS provided escort.
Rear Admiral Cawadia, Under Secretary of Marine of the
Hellenic Navy proceeded to Malta unofficially in PINDOS.
M.E. Twelve - Four
empty ships from Malta to Port Said
The convoy consisting of the four empty ships from
PORTCULLIS (U.S. Ships ALCOA PROSPECTOR, AGWIMONTE,
British ships SUFFOLK and
GLENARTNEY), was sailed from
Malta at 2030 escorted by
ORION, CROOME, HURSLEY, ALDENHAM, BELVOIR, HURWORTH, QUEEN
OLGA, EXMOOR, and
Gulf of Sirte
el Ali was surveyed by a naval beach reconnaissance party
found to be suitable for the discharge of stores from
L.C.T.s and small coastal
In a dusk attack on Benghazi harbour, two enemy aircraft
short down and another was claimed as a probable.
The Breach in the Outer Mole was reported repaired and it
considered safe against all weathers.
The ex Italian CORNELIUS II was raised at Tobruk and
The unloading of the two ships (AMERICAN PACKER and
QUADRANGLE A (M.W. 15) was completed today. Ten thousand,
four hundred, and
fifty tons of cargo had been discharged. There was no
enemy air interference
during the operation.
Four M.T.B.s arrived, having completed a sweep during the
of 16th to 17th December from Bone in which nothing was
H.M.S. P 46 returned to Malta from a successful patrol in
Tunis-Bizerta approaches. At 1503 on 14th December in
position 37-29N, 10-46E,
she attacked a convoy of two merchant ships southbound
escorted by two torpedo
boats. P 46 observed one merchant ship to have been hit by
P 212 and herself
scored a hit on the other, a 6000 ton
which was stopped. She later sank her with torpedoes in
spite of considerable
depth charging. P 212's merchant ship was observed to blow
up some hours later.
18th December 1942
ORION reported that single JU 88 dropped bombs close to
without causing damage.
2. Tobruk was raided by about twelve
The small oiler ZAHRA was damaged in the engine room by
near misses. The
minesweeper TREERN exploded a mine near the boom.
3. Two out of three reconnaissance
destroyed by fighters in the vicinity of Benghazi.
The unloading of the tanker ERINNA and merchant ship CLAN
MACINDOE of QUADRANGLE B (M.W. 16) was completed today.
This included 5158 tons
of cargo and 8400 tons of furnace fuel.
The two 8 inch cruisers which had
on the night of 9th to 10th December were located
in Maddalena Harbour.
19th December 1942
ORION parted company in position 32-49N, 22-43E at 0900 to
join up with Convoy M.W. 17 (QUADRANGLE C) proceeding to
Tobruk was raided at dawn but no damage or casualties were
reported; the railhead appeared to be the main objective.
Benghazi was also raided; the Dutch tanker TRAJANUS was
by a near miss and subsequently sank in 25 feet of water.
Enemy air activity against coastal convoys was reported
of H.M.S. SNAPDRAGON
H.M.S. SNAPDRAGON (Commander H.C. Simms, D.S.O.) sailed
Benghazi at 1900 in company with ERICA, SOUTHERN MAID,
SEAHAM, and CUMBRAE
escorting a convoy of three ships. Enemy aircraft
approached Benghazi located this convoy and
heavily attacked it. At 2029
SNAPDRAGON was hit by one bomb amidships and sank in four
to five minutes in
position 32-18N, 19-54E. ERICA picked up the survivors and
landed them at
Benghazi. SEAHAM suffered minor damage from near misses.
SNAPDRAGON were 23 ratings killed and the Commanding
Officer, who died of
wounds at Benghazi.
H.M.S. WELSHMAN was sailed at 1700 for Haifa for a short
of mining exercises.
During the night of 18th/19th December, Fleet Air Arm
bombed the docks at Sousse and attacked E boats operating
8. Forty JU 88s attacked the
Takali, Halfar, and Luqa during the night of 18th to 19th
December. At Luqa
seven Wellingtons were destroyed, three Wellingtons and
one Baltimore were
damaged. In no case were the aerodrome rendered
M.T.B. 265 arrived from Benghazi.
All available M.T.B.s in the Eastern Mediterranean were
allocated to the Naval Commander, Expeditionary Force, to
be operated by the
Vice Admiral Malta, as required.
Commodore, Aden, reported that negotiations had failed to
persuade the Djibouti authorities to come over to the
The British Naval Attache at Ankara, Rear Admiral W.L.
D.S.O., visited Admiral Harwood at Alexandria.
20th December 1942
PETARD and QUEEN OLGA parted company off the end of the
Alexandria searched Channel and proceeded
harbour. The convoy arrived at Port Said at 2000 escorted
by CROOME, ALDENHAM,
HURWORTH, and BELVOIR. There were no incidents on passage
and negligible enemy
air attacks in spite of being sighted by reconnaissance
S.S. PRINCESS KATHLEEN escorted by EXMOOR and HURSLEY
company with M.W. 17 at 0200 and proceeded into Benghazi.
S.S. PRINCESS KATHLEEN having disembarked military
sailed from Benghazi at 1530 escorted by EXMOOR, HURSLEY,
The Hospital Ship LLANDOVERY CASTLE reported a German
twin engine bomber approached
his ship with obvious engine
trouble and heavy smoke pouring from one engine in
position 33-13N, 22-00E at
1152. The aircraft made off in the direction of Crete.
in text, this paragraph was also numbered 4. The
following paragraph numbers
have been amended.) A hydrographic survey of
Benghazi, Tobruk, and Derna
had been completed. There were now 101 wrecks in Tobruk
and 86 in Benghazi
harbours ranging from lighters to merchant ships and
6. Benghazi was raided by about ten
The minesweeping whalers SEKSERN and HAILSTORM sustained
minor damage from near
Harwood called on the Regent of Iraq, the Emir Abdul-Illak
and his Prime Minister General Nuri Pasha at Alexandria
21st December 1942
M.W. 17 arrived at 1600 escorted by ORION, DULVERTON,
PAKENHAM, BEAUFORT, TETCOTT, and PINDOS. There were no
incidents on passage and
no air attacks.
The bulk oil installations at Tobruk were reported to be
working order with a capacity of approximately 8000 tons.
Over 200 tons of petrol and ammunition was unloaded from
at Ras el Ali.
Convoy A.W. 15 consisting of four slow ships was sailed
Alexandria for Benghazi, escorted by HYACINTH, SOUTHERN
SEAS, CUMBRAE, and
H.M.S. REDWOOD shot down a Heinkel 111 during a low level
attack on Benghazi Harbour after dark.
Captain (D) Fourteenth Destroyer Flotilla in JERVIS in
with NUBIAN destroyed by gunfire a 2000 ton unescorted
merchant ship at 0211 in
position 33-39N, 11-05E. This merchant ship was steering
for Tripoli (Libya)
and her destruction was the result of excellent
cooperation between the
shadowing aircraft and the destroyers.
A single enemy aircraft dropped bombs south of Tripoli
2000. One civilian was killed and a small house and an oil
H.M.S. MALINES was refloated. She had been beached in the
Port, Port Said, as a result of a torpedo bomber attack at
the end of July
M.L. 384 was commissioned at Port Said.
22nd December 1942
PRINCESS KATHLEEN escorted by ANTWERP, EXMOOR, and HURSLEY
arrived at Alexandria from Benghazi.
The port of Derna was closed down as a supply port, a
Naval Officer being left in charge. Derna remained as a
shelter for small craft
and for sea rescue purposes.
3. Benghazi was raided by twelve
but no damage was caused in the harbour. At Ras el Ali,
bad weather was slowing
up the discharge of cargo.
The Advanced M.T.B. base was transferred from Benghazi to
Hillal, there being insufficient room at the former.
Fleet Air Arm Albacores sank one escort vessel and scored
on a 2000 ton merchant ship
which may have sunk in
position 38-12N, 11-40E at about 0300.
Commodore Aden reported that aircraft from Diredawa
thousand pamphlets over Djibouti from a low altitude.
These pamphlets appealed
to the populace to rally to the Allied cause within forty
eight hours and explained the situation.
H.M.S. WELSHMAN was sailed from Haifa for Alexandria.
Admiral Harwood left Alexandria by air for a visit to the
Desert ports. He arrived at Tobruk at midday and spent the
Headquarters, Tenth Corps in the Tmimi area.
23rd December 1942
Dutch tanker TRAJANUS was raised and refloated in Benghazi
A single enemy aircraft dropped bombs on Ras el Ali. There
damage or casualties to the Naval Beach party.
H.M.S. WELSHMAN arrived from Haifa. PRINCESS KATHLEEN and
with military personnel for Benghazi were sailed at 1700
escorted by CROOME and
H.M.S. RORQUAL arrived at Malta from minelaying operations
patrol off Naples. ON the night of 8th to 9th December,
mines were laid off
Cani Rocks. On the 17th December, RORQUAL laid his
remaining mines to the
northward of the Ischia Channel. At 2041 on the 18th
December, in position 320
degrees Imperatore Point six miles, she almost certainly
torpedoed and sank a
2500 to 300 ton merchant vessel escorted by two E Boats.
H.M.S. TURBULENT arrived at Malta after an uneventful
from Beirut to operate temporarily with the Tenth
H.M.S. TEVIOTBANK carried out a second lay of a defensive
minefield in the Straits of Bab el Mandeb. ROMNEY and
POOLE carried out a
skimming sweep on completion. HERO acted as watching
Admiral Harwood visited Derna, Apollonia, and Cirene,
the night at Rear Eighth Army headquarters.
24th December 1942
108 ran aground at Ras el Ali, but salvage was considered
possible. The development of the landing place was
A single JU 88 made a tip and run raid on Tobruk without
Three enemy aircraft dropped bombs on the harbour entrance
Benghazi shortly before dawn without causing damage.
H.M.S. UNA returned to Malta from a ten day patrol in the
Kerkennah-Kuriat area in which little was sighted. At 1013
on 20th December, a
2000 ton southbound merchant
ship was attacked in position
35-38N, 11-13E, but all torpedoes missed probably due to
the heavy swell then
H.M.S. P 44 (Lieutenant J.C.Y. Roxburgh, D.S.C.) returned
patrol on the Palermo-Bizerta shipping route. On one
occasion, she came to
periscope depth in the centre of a convoy of three
merchant ships and seven
destroyers, but she was unable to fire torpedoes. This
patrol did not result in
any sinkings, but for continued activity and strain on
personnel, it can have
few equals in submarine patrols. This was the Commanding
Officers first patrol.
Admiral Harwood visited Benghazi returning to Rear Eighth
Headquarters for the night.
25th December 1942
PRINCESS KATHLEEN and ANTWERP arrived at Benghazi. On
completion of disembarkation of personnel they were sailed
escorted by CROOME and BELVOIR.
Convoy A.W. 15 consisting of four slow merchant ships
Benghazi, having been joined by two merchant ships from
The Coordinated demonstration of land, sea, and air
power to Force Djibouti to
come to terms.
Pamphlets were dropped on Djibouti advising the population
Heavy rain overnight rendered all forward aerodromes in
Western Desert unserviceable. Admiral Harwood's intended
visit to Malta had
therefore to be postponed.
26th December 1942
Eighth Army occupied Sirte without encountering
Convoy TANGO consisting of ten merchant ships was sailed
Alexandria for Tobruk and Benghazi escorted by SAKTOURIS
Lieutenant Commander N. Bourekas, R.H.N.
SOUTHERN ISLES, SOUTHERN MAID, BURRA, KAI, and M.L. 349.
This was one of the
largest Western Desert convoys yet sailed and its conduct
on passage reflected
credit on SAKTOURIS.
A small Greek cased petrol carrier arrived at Ras el Ali.
aircraft were active but no attack developed. L.C.T. 108
was refloated. The
discharge of petrol continued satisfactorily.
H.M. Ships PALADIN and JAVELIN made a sweep in the Ras
area on the night of 25th to 26th December in conjunction
aircraft, but found nothing.
Operation PENTAGON. Free French forces under Colonel
crossed the frontier into French Somaliland at dawn and
occupied the important
railway bridgehead at Shebele and Holhol without
Admiral Harwood began his return journey by car and air to
27th December 1942
three thousand tons of cargo was discharged today in
harbour. This was a record achievement for any Western
Desert campaign. The
sunken Italian boom was raised and in operation across the
The small Greek
cased petrol carrier ANTIKLEA was unloading at Ras el Ali
with the use of
L.C.T.s. In spite of bad weather, the L.C.T.s maintained a
high rate of
H.M.S. WELSHMAN was sailed for Malta at 1730 with service
personnel, M.T.B.'s spare gear for Bone and a small
quantity of stores for
Malta. The Captain Coastal Forces also took passage to
Malta on transference of
all available M.T.B.s to the Western Mediterranean under
The unloading of the ships of convoy M.W. 17 was completed
(11,484 tons). There had been no enemy air interference.
Commander in Chief arrived at Tobruk on his return journey
28th December 1942
– Passage of Convoy of Four Empty Merchant Ships from
Malta to Port Said
M.E. 14 consisting of CLAN MACINDOE (British), OZARDA
(British), AMERICAN PACKER (U.S.) and the Dutch tanker
ERINNA was sailed from
Malta at 2250 escorted by EURYALUS, DULVERTON, PINDOS,
TETCOTT, and BEAUFORT.
– Passage of convoy of One
merchant ship and one
tanker to Malta.
Convoy M.W. 18 consisting
tanker YORBALINDA and the DANIEL H. LOWNSDALE (U.S.) was
sailed from Alexandria
at 1500 escorted by EXMOOR, HURSLEY, HURWORTH, and
A simultaneous attack by British human torpedoes known as
on the Italian ports of Palermo, Cagliari, and Maddalena.
The destruction of Italian naval units and merchant
shipping. Three T class submarines were to be employed
specially fitted to
carry human torpedoes. Three U class submarines were to be
employed as rescue
submarines for Chariot personnel.
H.M. Submarines P 311 and P 46 were sailed from Malta.
of H.M. Tug ST ISSEY
H.M. Tug ST ISSEY, towing lighters from Derna to Benghazi,
escorted by KINGSTON CRYSTAL and M.L. 348, was torpedoed
and sank with all
hands at 0750 in position 32-37N, 20-22E. She had done
noble work with the
Inshore Squadron throughout every Western Campaign and her
loss was much
The arrival of a tubular bridge at Ras el Ali assisted the
discharging of supplies from L.C.T.s.
H.M. Ships PAKENHAM and PALADIN carried out a sweep
Linosa and Pantelleria during the night of 27th to 28th
December but found
The naval force for this operation sailed from Aden at
consisted of Commodore Aden in HERO with CERES, ROMNEY,
POOLE, and the Greek
destroyer PANTHER. The force was to be in the vicinity of
Djibouti out of sight
of land by p.m. today.
At 1915, General Dupont, the Governor of Djibouti, signed
agreement with the British and Fighting French authorities
Somaliland joined the United Nations as part of Fighting
Admiral Harwood returned to Alexandria from visiting the
29th December 1942
TROOPER, THUNDERBOLT, and P 43 were sailed from Malta.
S.S. PRINCESS KATHLEEN and ANTWERP with military personnel
Benghazi was sailed from Alexandria escorted by CROOME,
COMMANDANT DOMINE, and
Bad weather along the coast was slowing up cargo discharge
the onward passage of lighters.
A naval beach reconnaissance party entered Sirte; three
ratings were wounded by a land mine.
H.M. Minesweeper GIRL MARGARET was commissioned for
service as a
tender to ST ANGELO. She had been severely damaged during
the heavy air attacks
on Malta during April 1942.
H.M.S. WELSHMAN arrived from Alexandria after an
At 0357, Fleet Air Arm Albacores blew up an enemy merchant
apparently carrying ammunition, escorted by one destroyer,
in position 37-18N,
The naval force entered Djibouti at 1000 at the request of
General Officer Commanding Twelfth African Division. There
were no incidents.
29th December 1942
EURYALUS reported that convoy M.E. 14 was attacked by a U
boat in position 33-01N, 21-22E at 1650. Three torpedoes
were seen passing
through the convoy; no ships were damaged. BEAUFORT was
detached in order to
hunt the U boat.
At 1800, EURYALUS was detached and proceeded
at high speed to Malta.
At 2359, Convoy M.W. 18 was ordered to proceed into
CAVOUR battleship was reported by reconnaissance to have
Convoy TANGO of ten merchant ships, less two ships
Tobruk arrived at Benghazi intact. A convoy of five empty
merchant ships (two
for Tobruk) was sailed from Benghazi escorted by
SAKTOURIS, ERICA, GENERAL
BIRDWOOD, MAPLE, M.L. 348, M.L. 349, and M.T.B. 309.
Enemy aircraft was active over Ras el Ali but no bombs
dropped. A survey of Sirte was completed and it was found
suitable for L.C.T.s
Fleet Air Arm Albacores attacked a convoy of two westbound
merchantmen and a destroyer southeast of Marittimo. One
hit was scored on a
merchant ship which was last
seen down by the bows.
H.M.S. P 211 returned to Malta from a successful patrol
Hammamet, Gabes, and the northwest coast of Tripolitania.
At 1548 on the 18th
December, in position three miles 200 degrees from
Hammamet, she gunned and
destroyed a southbound schooner carrying petrol. Two man
escaped in a boat, but
it is though that the rest of the crew perished.
8. At 1219 on the 20th December, a
was gunned, which ran ashore in position 36-04N, 10-30E;
investigation by P 211, it was considered that
the tanker was a
At 1914 on the 22nd December, when five miles south of
she gunned the Italian naval magnetic minesweeper ROSINA
A, finally sinking her
by torpedo. Twelve prisoners were picked up, including her
Commanding Officer. P
211 returned to Malta and landed prisoners and reembarked
ammunition on the
23rd December, sailing to continue her patrol immediately
At 0752 on the 27th December, when five miles east of
gunned and sank the schooner ELEANORA ROSA, on passage
from Zuara to Tripoli
(L) with 100 tons of petrol. Two
survivors were picked up by
At 0951 on the 29th December, when in position 34-20N,
she scored one torpedo hit on a 1500
merchant ship last seen down by the bows.
All ships of the naval force were sailed from Djibouti for
with the exception of HERO.
The Swedish relief ships AKKA and YARRAWONGA sailed from
Gibraltar for Piraeus via the Straits of Messina with
wheat from Canada for the
31st December 1942
BEAUFORT rejoined the convoy at daylight after an
unsuccessful search for the U boat
which attacked the
convoy on the 30th December.
Convoy M.W. 18 arrived at Benghazi at daylight; as enemy
did not appear to be in a position to menace the convoy,
M.W. 18 was sailed for
Malta at 1900. PAKENHAM and JAVELIN
who had been
sailed overnight to screen EURYALUS, arrived at 1230 in
company with EURYALUS.
H.M.S. SEAHAM and SOUTHERN MAID were sailed from Benghazi
to carry out an A/W sweep for the U boat which had fired
torpedoes at EURYALUS
and the convoy on the 30th December off Tolmeita; they
were later joined by
COMMANDANT DOMINE and LA MOQUEUSE.
H.M. Ships CROOME and ANTWERP escorting PRINCESS KATHLEEN
at Benghazi sailed for Alexandria on completion of
H.M.S. WELSHMAN was sailed for Bone at 1700 to unload
H.M.S. EURYALUS escorted by PAKENHAM and JAVELIN arrived
Force K was brought to short notice for steam in view of
possible movements of
Italian naval units.
M.T.B. s 264, 267, 311, and 313 arrived from Benghazi.
H.M.S. P 43 was sailed from Malta to act as rescue
H.M.S. DERWENT arrived at Aden to join the Mediterranean
She had been held in the Eastern Fleet for some months on
account of the U boat
situation. She was allocated to the Fifth Destroyer
Axis Losses during
December (Note: the whole of the Mediterranean is
18 ships sunk
totaling 33,630 tons
3 ships damaged totaling 1700 tons
Submarines were disposed
from patrol in the Aegean to Beirut
RORQUAL At Malta
TURBULENT Off Naples
TIGRIS On patrol.... (n.b.
UNA, P 35, P
211, P 51, P 45, P 43 At Malta
P 311 nearing Maddalena for Operation
TROOPER on passage from Malta to Palermo
and Cagliari for Operation
P 37, P 46 On patrol in vicinity of Kelibia
P 48 On patrol in Gulf of Hammamet
MATROZOS refitting Port Said
PAPANICOLIS refitting at Beirut
NEBOJSCA refitting at Port Said
OF EVENTS FOR December
quiet month mainly concerned in building up supplies for
Eighth Army as rapidly as possible and the running of
convoys to Malta. As a
result, offensive operations were limited. There is no
doubt that the knowledge
that force of cruisers and destroyers were based at Malta
deterrent in itself to keep the Italian Fleet from rash
ventures. The enemy
made only one attempt to send a convoy to Tripoli (Libya)
east of Malta, but on
being sighted by our aircraft they turned back and the
Rear Admiral Commanding,
Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron and his Force who left Malta to
unable to make contact before daylight.
In spite of some bad patches of weather, tugs and lighters
sent forward to the Western Desert ports without any
serious damage. The rate
of discharge of cargo into Tobruk and Benghazi was better
than anticipated. At
one time over 3000 tons were discharged at Benghazi in one
day; a considerably
better figure that ever achieved by the enemy in former
campaigns. With the
advance of the Eighth Army towards Tripoli (Libya),
Benghazi became the main
supply port. The capacity of the roadways in the Western
Desert was not
sufficient to meet the Army's requirements for supplies
and the Navy was
committed to the conveyance of tanks, personnel, petrol,
and stores on an
ever increasing scale. With the
dearth of escort vessels,
this presented a difficult problem.
A naval mobile beach party did some excellent work in
petrol and ammunition from L.C.T.s and schooners in the
Gulf of Sirte. The
anchorage at El Zouetina was used for a short time and
later Ras el Ali where
conditions were more suitable and as much as 240 tons was
discharged in one
day; one ton of petrol landed in the Gulf of Sirte near to
the front was worth
several at Benghazi.
The enemy's air effort in the Western Desert ports was on
small scale. Two merchant ships were hit and sunk during
the attacks on
Benghazi; one of these was subsequently refloated. H.M.S.
SNAPDRAGON was bombed
and sunk when in the vicinity of Benghazi with a convoy.
Smoke defence of this
port was installed, and proved most successful. This is
the first time this
defence has been used in the Eastern Mediterranean.
H.M. Tug ST ISSEY on passage to Benghazi towing lighters
torpedoed and sunk by a German U boat and sunk with all
hands. She had done
noble work with the Inshore Squadron throughout every
Western Desert campaign. Her
loss was much regretted.
The commander in Chief made a short tour of the Western
ports at Christmas. He had intended to fly to Malta, but
rain made all the
forward aerodromes unserviceable and his visit was
Precautions against the ships of Force X were completely
about the middle of December. Several senior French Naval
Admiral Godfroy from Algiers in an endeavour to persuade
him to come over to
the Allied cause. A little progress was made, but Admiral
Godfroy would not
make up his mind. His personal wishes were to join the
United Nations, but
until a government in North Africa suitable and acceptable
to him was
established, he was unable to reach a decision.
After the safe arrival of a second convoy of four store
a tanker from Port Said, the policy of running supplies to
Malta was altered. In
order to avoid offering too tempting a
bait to the
Italian Fleet, it was decided to run supply ships to Malta
in pairs. They were
sailed in company with normal coastal convoys as far as
the Benghazi area,
where a cruiser escort from Malta met them for the passage
across the Central
During the month, 58,500 tons of general cargo and 18,220
oil fuel were discharged from nine merchant ships and two
tankers. The supply
situation, from being most precarious, became in this one
month established on
a firm basis.
The enemy made no serious attempts to stop these convoys
reaching Malta or to interfere with their unloading; the
only occasion on which
bombs were dropped on the Island was on the night of 18th
December, when Luqa aerodrome was
attacked by about 30 bombers. Nine
Wellingtons and some fighters were destroyed.
Force K and destroyers remained base at Malta. One cruiser
used as fighter direction ship with the convoys between
Cyrenaica and Malta. H.M.S.
DIDO left Malta to join up with Force Q at Bone.
Captain (D) Fourteenth Destroyer Flotilla in JERVIS, with
JAVELIN, NUBIAN, and KELVIN sank three merchant ships
during coastal sweepers
to the Tunisian coast cooperating in pairs; Royal Air
Force and Fleet Air Arm
cooperation was appreciably improved, especially A.S.V.
The destruction of the Italian U boat UARSCIEK, by PETARD
QUEEN OLGA on the 15th December south east of Malta was
encouraging. She was the first to appear in the Eastern
Mediterranean for some
time. Unluckily, the U boat sank before she could be towed
to Malta. It was
PETARD's second attempt in ten weeks.
The Fleet Air Arm from Malta continued to hit hard at the
supply lines. Out of twelve ships torpedoed, six were seen
to sink; in addition
ships and docks in Tunisia and Tripoli (Libya) were bombed
and E boats were
attacked with bombs and machine guns. Mines were also laid
in enemy waters.
All available M.T.B.s in the Eastern Mediterranean were
allocated to the Naval Commander, Expeditionary Force, to
be operated by the
Vice Admiral Malta, as required. The captain Coastal
Forces set up his
headquarters at Malta and M.T.B.s were sailed from
Benghazi was the weather
allowed. Work was begun on building an M.T.B. base at
Our submarines continued to be disposed in the Gulf of
the Tripoli (Libya ) area and
off the east Tunisian
coast; when possible one submarine operated in the Aegean.
By the end of the month, it became evident that the
intensity of the enemy's A.S.V. aircraft and surface A/S
patrols had made the
narrow waters between Sicily and Tunisia an extremely
difficult area in which
to operate. There were sings of strain amongst the
Commanding Officers and it
was decided that submarines should only operate in this
area on alternate
patrols. H.M.S. P 43, P 44, and P 48 all carried out
patrols in the Tunis-Bizerta area without any success.
H.M. Submarines P 35 and P 211 both carried out most
patrols off the East Tunisian and Tripolitania coasts.
H.M.S. P 35 destroyed an
Italian collier and two fully laden southbound merchant
ships. H.M.S. P 211
destroyed two schooners loaded with petrol, a small
tanker, a magnetic
minesweeper, and left sinking a medium sized merchant
H.M.S. RORQUAL carried out one mine laying operation
month to the north of the Isschia Channel near Naples and
off Cani Rocks.
H.M.S. TRAVELLER, commanded by Lieutenant Commander D. St
Ford, Royal Navy, was lost whilst carrying out a
reconnaissance of Taranto in
order to gauge the practicability of attacking the Italian
Chariots (human torpedoes). That such an experienced
officer should be lost
indicated that the patrols off Taranto were of dangerous
The ex Italian submarine PERLA captured by HYACINTH in
July 1942, was handed over to
the Royal Hellenic Navy and renamed
MATROZOS. Considerable refitting was, however, necessary
before she could be
A very quiet month. The usual convoy movements were
though escorts had to be reduced.
There was no U Boat
Negotiations and operations were successfully completed
adherence, without bloodshed, of Djibouti to the Allied
A small naval force under the Command of Commodore C.A.A.
Larcom, D.S.O. with his broad pendant in H.M.S. HERO, with
CERES (from the
Eastern Fleet), PANTHER (Greek destroyer), ROMNEY and
POOLE took part in the
operation. This force arrived off Djibouti at daylight on
the 29th December,
prepared to engage the defences if necessary. Fortunately,
there was no
resistance and ships did not open fire.
The movement of a considerable volume of shipping in the
and Gulf of Aden continued without enemy interference.
on the Station
The following ships joined the Station during the month.
H.M. Submarines P 51, TIGRIS, and TROOPER.
The following ships left the station during the month.
DIDO to join
Submarines P 212 and P 247 to join the Eighth Submarine
Submarine PORPOISE for refitting in the United Kingdom.
5 M.T.B.s to operate under the Naval
Submarine TRAVELLER overdue on patrol
SNAPDRAGON sunk by bombs
H.M. Tug ST
ISSEY torpedo by a German U boat and lost with all
sunk by enemy aircraft.