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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2006


HMS UTMOST - U-class Submarine

HM S/M Unruly, sister-boat (Navy Photos, click to enlarge)

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B a t t l e    H o n o u r s




Ordered with HM Submarine USK in September 1939 this submarine was first identified by her Pennant Number P41 and given the name for the first use by the RN on launch in 1940. Some the survivors from HM Submarine UNITY which had been sunk after a collision formed part of the ship's company. After acceptance she was deployed for anti-invasion patrols in the English Channel based at Portsmouth to report German shipping movements with HM Submarines UPRIGHT and TALISMAN. A few weeks later in October she took passage for service in the Mediterranean but whilst off Cape St Vincent was rammed by HM Destroyer ENCOUNTER and damaged.


After repair in Gibraltar she was able to commence duty with the 10th Submarine Flotilla in Malta. She had a most notable record of successful attacks and her first was on patrol in February 1941 when she sank a supply ship of the North African coast Further torpedo attacks that year in March, June and July accounted for four more mercantiles. On later patrols she sank another supply ship off Lampedusa in October and by surface gun attack two more in the central Mediterranean the next month. She also carried out an attack on the Italian cruiser TRIESTE on 24th November which caused damage to this enemy warship. Before returning to UK in January 1942 this boat was deployed off Taranto to carry out reconnaissance of Italian warship movements in support of an important convoy (M41) to North Africa.


After refit in UK she had returned to the Mediterranean by April 1942 to resume service with the Flotilla for interception of shipping to and from ports in North Africa. In the critical period between May and October when the siege of Malta had been ended she was deployed for patrols including the interception and observation of Italian warships on passage to attack relief and return convoys. Another supply ship was sunk in October 1942 and during the allied landings in Algeria she was deployed off Messina to attack warships attempting to interfere with the assault and follow-up convoys to landing areas. She sailed for her last patrol from Malta on 17th November 1942 for patrol off Bizerta and is known to have carried out an attack on the Italian auxiliary cruiser BARLETTA off Cape Blanc on 23rd and to have advised by signal that he was returning to Malta. The anti-submarine operations by the escort failed to locate this submarine which it is assumed then had taken her return passage. Her loss is recorded as being by depth charge attacks from the Italian torpedo boat GROPPO which had attacked a submarine on 25th November 1942. The Commanding Officer on commissioning was Lieutenant Commander R D Cayley, DSO*, DSC* RN who destroyed almost 70,000 tons of shipping, before being relieved by Lieut. J W D Coombe RN who had not served on board long before the loss of the submarine with no survivors.


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revised 30/11/10
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