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Torpedoed US tanker on fire off US East coast
(Library of Congress, click to enlarge)

on to German U-boats,1943


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

(for more ship information,  go to Naval History Homepage and type name in Site Search)






Arcadia Conference - In late December and early January, Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt with their Chiefs of Staff met in Washington DC. They agreed to the setting up of a Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee and to the defeat of Germany as the first priority.

15th - Destroyer "Hesperus" escorting convoy HG78 sank "U-93" north of Madeira.

31st - Canadian troop convoy NA2 sailing for Britain was attacked by "U-82" southeast of Nova Scotia. Destroyer "BELMONT" was lost with all hands.

31st - Ex-US Coast Guard cutter "CULVER" was sunk by "U-105" west of the Bay of Biscay as she escorted Sierra Leone convoy SL93.

Russian Convoys - Destroyer "MATABELE" (below - Navy Photos) escorting Iceland/Russia convoy PQ8 was sunk off Murmansk on the 17th by "U-454". Only two men survived. None of the eight merchantmen in the convoy were lost although one was damaged by a U-boat torpedo. In two return convoys in the month - QP5 and QP6 - 10 ships set out and arrived safely.

Battle of the Atlantic - U-boat strength was up to 250 with 90 operational. Two-thirds were spread across the Atlantic, nearly a quarter in the Mediterranean, and a few on patrol in the Arctic for Russian convoys. It was at this time that Adm Doenitz, with never more than 10 or 12 U-boats at a time, launched Operation' Paukenschlag' ('Drumroll') off the coasts of America. The U-boat commanders enjoy their second 'Happy Time', especially against the unescorted ships sailing in virtually peace-time conditions off the United States. Warship patrols were started, but the USN found it hard to accept the long, hard-fought lessons of the Royal Navy and establish convoys immediately. Atlantic convoys still started and ended at Nova Scotia, so the first U-boats operated off the Canadian coast south of there. Over 40 merchantmen were lost in this area alone in January and February. By this time U-boats were also sinking many ships off the US east coast. On the weapons front, the forward-firing Hedgehog with its 24 A/S mortar bombs started to enter RN service. Its first success did not come until late in the 1942. 

Monthly Loss Summary, including Russian Convoys
- 48 British, Allied and neutral ships of 277,000 tons in the Atlantic from all causes, 3 escorts
- 1 German U-boat.


12th - German "U-374" was torpedoed and sunk off the east coast of Sicily by submarine "Unbeaten" (Lt-Cdr E. A. Woodward).

17th - During the month, Malta was resupplied by three small convoys coming from the east. In the second, four fast transports left Alexandria covered by Adm Vian's Mediterranean Fleet cruiser force. On the 17th one of the close escorting destroyers, "GURKHA (2)", was torpedoed north of Sidi Barrani by "U-133" and scuttled. Next day the surviving ships were met by "Penelope" of Force K from Malta, and got there on the 19th. During this period the Italian Navy had escorted two substantial convoys to North Africa in time for Rommel's next offensive. Malta continued to be heavily bombed for many months by the German and Italian Air Forces.

North Africa - On the 21st, Rommel started his second campaign. The first of two phases took him as far as Gazala just to the west of Tobruk. El Agheila soon fell and Benghazi was occupied before the month was out. On 1st February Eighth Army withdrew to Gazala and within a week Rommel had come up. There he stayed until May 1942.



2nd - As she attacked a damaged troopship sailing from the Azores, "U-581" was sunk by escorting destroyer "Westcott".

5th - "U-136" on patrol off Rockall sank two escorts. The first was corvette "ARBUTUS" detached with destroyer "Chelsea" from UK/Halifax convoy ONS63 to hunt for a reported U-boat.

6th - Returning from the American coast where she sank destroyer "Belmont", "U-82" encountered UK/Sierra Leone convoy OS18 north of the Azores and was destroyed by corvette "Tamarisk" and sloop "Rochester".

11th - "U-136's" second success less than a week later was Canadian corvette "SPIKENARD" escorting Halifax/UK convoy SC67.

Battle of the Atlantic - U-boats extended Operation 'Paukenschlag' as far south as the Caribbean and started by shelling installations and sinking tankers off Aruba, Curacoa, Trinidad and other oil ports. However, they were still active elsewhere in the Atlantic, and east of Newfoundland a pack of five attacked convoy ON67 (36 ships). Eight ships were lost, of which six were the ever-valuable tankers. The Royal Navy suffered a major setback when U-boats in the Atlantic changed from the Enigma 'Hydra' code to 'Triton'. This was not be broken until December 1942 - a ten month delay. But all was not lost as 'Hydra' was still used in European waters. This, together with signals traffic analysis and the vast amount of experience built up to date, meant that a remarkably accurate picture could be drawn of U-boat operations and intentions.

Monthly Loss Summary
- 73 British, Allied and neutral ships of 430,000 tons in the Atlantic from all causes, 2 corvettes and 2 US destroyers off Newfoundland and the US east coast
- 2 German U-boats

MARCH 1942


Russian Convoy PQ13 and Return QP9 - These next two convoys set out around the 20th, again covered by the Home Fleet. Off North Cape on the 24th "U-655" was rammed and sunk by minesweeper "Sharpshooter" escorting QP9. Of the 19 merchantmen in this convoy all reach Iceland in safety. PQ13 and its escort, including cruiser "Trinidad" and destroyers "Eclipse" and "Fury", were scattered by severe gales and heavily attacked. On the 29th three German destroyers encountered the escort north of Murmansk. "Z-26" was sunk, but in the action "Trinidad" was hit and disabled by one of her own torpedoes. As the cruiser limped towards Kola Inlet an attack by "U-585" failed and she was sunk by "Fury". Five of the 19 ships with PQ13 were lost - two to U-boats, two to aircraft, and one by the destroyers. "Trinidad" reached Russia.

27th - UK/Middle East troop convoy WS17 was on passage southwest of Ireland. As "U-587" headed for American waters her sighting report was detected and she was sunk by the convoy escort including destroyers "Aldenham", "Grove", "Leamington"" and "Volunteer". This was the first success using HF/DF - ship-borne, high frequency direction-finding.

Battle of the Atlantic - Losses due to U-boats continued at a high rate in US and West Indian waters with over 40 ships sunk in March, many of them valuable tankers. Over the next few months RN and RCN escorts and a RAF Coastal Command squadron were loaned to the Americans. Ten corvettes were also transferred to the US Navy.

Monthly Loss Summary
- 98 British, Allied and neutral ships of 547,000 tons in the Atlantic from all causes
- 1 German destroyer and 5 U-boats, including 2 by US aircraft off Newfoundland


11th - Adm Vian's cruiser force returned to Alexandria after searching for Axis shipping and covering the passage of cruiser "Cleopatra" from Malta. North of Sidi Barrani, flagship "NAIAD" was torpedoed by "U-565" and went down.

20th - Adm Vian sailed on the from Alexandria with four fast supply ships for Malta escorted by cruisers "Cleopatra", "Dido", "Euryalus" and "Carlisle" plus destroyers. Seven 'Hunt' class escort destroyers came from Tobruk and as they carried out anti-submarine sweeps ahead of the convoy, "HEYTHROP" was sunk off Sidi Barrani by "U-652". The remaining six joined the convoy to bring the total number of destroyers to 16. The convoy fought its way through in the Second Battle of Sirte Gulf. All four transports were lost to air attack, two off Malta and two in harbour before much of their cargo could be off-loaded.

26th - Destroyer "JAGUAR" and the tanker she was escorting to Tobruk were both sunk by "U-652" off Sidi Barrani.

APRIL 1942


14th - "U-252" attacked UK/Gibraltar convoy OG82 southwest of Ireland and was sunk by sloop "Stork" and corvette "Vetch" of the 36th EG (Cdr Walker). This was one of the first successful attacks using 10cm Type 271 radar. From now on the new radar and HF/DF would play an increasing part in the sinking of U-boats.

14th - The US Navy had its first warship success against U-boats when destroyer "Roper" sank "U-85" off the east coast of America.

 Russian Convoys - During the month, Russian convoy PQ14 set out from Iceland with 24 ships. Only seven arrived. One was sunk by a U-boat and another 16 had to turn back because of the weather. Return convoy QP10 lost four of its 16 ships around the same time, two each to U-boats and aircraft. Towards the end of the month convoys PQ15 and QP11 sailed. Both had cruisers in close support and PQ15 was covered by units of the Home Fleet including battleships "King George V" and the American "Washington". On the 30th the QP11 cruiser "Edinburgh" was torpedoed twice by "U-456" and had to turn back for Murmansk.

Monthly Loss Summary
- 74 British, Allied and neutral ships of 439,000 tons in the Atlantic from all causes, 1 US destroyer mined off Florida
- 2 German U-boats


As the bombing reached a peak, Malta was awarded the George Cross

MAY 1942


Return Russian Convoy QP11 - QP11 departed Russia on the 28th April and on the 30th cruiser "Edinburgh" was torpedoed twice by U-boat. As she limped back to Russia, three German destroyers attacked QP11, but only managed to sank a straggler. They found the cruiser on the 2nd. In a series of confused fights, "Edinburgh" disabled the "Hermann Schoemann" by gunfire, but was then torpedoed for a third time by either "Z-24" or "Z-25". Both "EDINBURGH" and "HERMANN SCHOEMANN" were scuttled on the 2nd. The surviving 12 merchantmen of QP11 got through to Reykjavik, Iceland on the 7th. Convoys PQ16 and QP12 passed through in May. PQ16 started out for Russian with 35 ships but one returned, six were lost to heavy aircraft attacks and one to U-boats. QP12 had one return but the other 14 reach Iceland.

Battle of the Atlantic - U-boat strength approached 300 with over 100 operational. A fairly complete convoy system was being introduced off the US east coast from Florida north, but the submarines were now concentrating in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. They could now spend more time on station assisted by 'Milchcow' supply boats. The result was that Allied losses continued at a high rate, especially among tankers. In the North Atlantic, convoy ONS92 lost seven ships in one night to a pack attack.

Monthly Loss Summary
- 122 British, Allied and neutral ships of 585,000 tons in the Atlantic from all causes, 2 cruisers, 1 destroyer and 1 submarine
- 1 German destroyer, 1 U-boat by US Coast Guard off east coast of America


2nd - Two U-boats were lost to the Royal Navy at opposite ends of the Med. On the 2nd, east of Gibraltar, "U-74" was sunk by destroyers "Wishart" and "Wrestler" and RAF aircraft of No 202 Squadron.

North Africa - From Gazala, Gen Rommel started the second phase of his advance towards Egypt on the 26th with a main attack around Bir Hakeim.

28th - In the second U-boat loss, "U-568" attacked Tobruk supply traffic, was hunted down and sunk by destroyer "Hero", and escort destroyers "Eridge" and "Hurworth".

JUNE 1942


Battle of the Atlantic - In the first six months of 1942, submarines worldwide had sunk 585 ships of over 3,000,000 tons, mostly in the Atlantic - and a large proportion of these in American waters where losses remained high in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. At the same time the 108 new U-boats entering service far outweighed the 13 sunk in the Atlantic in this period.

Monthly Loss Summary
- 128 British, Allied and neutral ships of 650,000 tons in the Atlantic from all causes, 1 destroyer and 1 submarine
- 2 U-boats by US forces off Cuba and Bermuda


North Africa - After more than two weeks of fierce attack and counter-attack, British forces pulled out of 'Knightsbridge'. Tobruk was surrounded by the 18th and three days later surrendered. Another two days and the Axis forces were back in Egypt. Eighth Army prepared to make its last stand at El Alamein.

2nd - Attacks on Allied shipping making for Tobruk before its fall brought further losses to both sides. Aircraft of FAA 815 Squadron and RAF No 203 Squadron damaged "U-652" off Sollum on the Egyptian/Libyan border. She was scuttled by a torpedo fired from "U-81".

12th - Ten days after the loss of "U-652" and further east off Sidi Barrani, escort destroyer GROVE was sunk by "U-77" as she returned to Alexandria after escorting supply ships to Tobruk.

12th-16th - Malta Convoys 'Harpoon' from Gibraltar, 'Vigorous' from Alexandria - Two of 'Harpoon's' six ships reached Malta for the loss of two destroyers and serious damage to three more and a cruiser by the Italian Navy and German and Italian aircraft. Meanwhile the Operation 'Vigorous' force of 11 ships and their escorts sailed from Haifa and Port Said, and were met on the 13th off Tobruk by Adm Vian with seven light cruisers and 17 destroyers. By the 14th, two ships had been lost to air attack and two more damaged. That evening Vian learnt an Italian battlefleet with two battleships, two heavy and two light cruisers plus destroyers had sailed south from Taranto. The chances of driving them off were slim. Early on the 15th the first of five course reversals were made as 'Vigorous' tried to break through to Malta. That evening 'Vigorous' finally turned back for Alexandria. Now into the early hours of the 16th, cruiser HERMIONE was torpedoed and sunk by "U-205". None of the 'Vigorous' ships reached Malta. One cruiser, three destroyers and two merchant ships had been lost in the attempt.

JULY 1942


Destruction of Russian Convoy PQ17 - On the 27th June, PQ17 left Reykjavik, Iceland with 36 ships, of which two returned. The British Admiralty believed the Germans were concentrating their heavy ships in northern Norway. In fact pocket battleship "Lutzow" had run aground off Narvik, but this still left battleship "Tirpitz", pocket battleship "Admiral Scheer" and heavy cruiser "Admiral Hipper". At this time PQ17 had just passed to the north of Bear Island, after which German aircraft sank three merchantmen. Fear of attack by the German ships led the British First Sea Lord in London to decide the fate of the convoy. In the evening of the 4th the support cruisers were ordered to withdraw and the convoy to scatter. The merchantmen were now to the north of North Cape. Thirty-one tried to make for the isolated islands of Novaya Zemlya before heading south for Russian ports. Between the 5th and 10th July, 20 of them were lost, half each to the aircraft and U-boats sent to hunt them down. Eventually 11 survivors and two rescue ships reached Archangel and nearby ports between the 9th and 28th.

3rd - "U-215" sank an escorted ship south of Nova Scotia and was lost in the counter-attack by British armed trawler "Le Tiger" (Free French trawler "Le Tigre" according to some sources).

11th - Northwest of the Canaries, UK/West Africa convoy OS.33 was attacked and "U-136" sunk by frigate "Spey", sloop "Pelican" and Free French destroyer "Leopard".

24th - Canadian destroyer "St Croix", with the Canadian C2 group escorting UK/North America convoy ON115, sank "U-90" off Newfoundland.

31st - In mid-Atlantic, Canadian destroyer "Skeena" and corvette "Wetaskiwan" of the C3 group (see below for "C" designation) with ON113 sank "U-588".

31st - On passage out, "U-213" stumbled across a convoy west of the Bay of Biscay, where she was sunk by the escort including sloops "Erne", "Rochester" and "Sandwich".

Battle of the Atlantic - Pending the setting up of support Escort Groups later in the year, vessels allocated mainly to convoy protection were designated by their nationality - "A" for American, "B" for British, "C" for Canadian. The American convoy system was now extended into the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, and merchantmen sinkings went down as U-boat losses started to mount. Nevertheless, with 140 operational U-boats out of a total of 330, the Germans had more than enough to continue the offensive in the North Atlantic as well as maintain concentrations off Sierra Leone, Venezuela and Brazil. For some months to come it was again the tankers that lost heavily, off the coasts of Venezuela and Trinidad.

Monthly Loss Summary, including Russian Convoys
- 101 British, Allied and neutral ships of 511,000 tons in the Atlantic from all causes
- 11 German and 1 Italian U-boats, including 2 by RAF Bay of Biscay patrols; 1 by RCAF off Nova Scotia; and 3 by US forces in the Caribbean and off the east coast of America



3rd - On anti-U-boat patrol between the Shetlands and Norway, submarine "Saracen" torpedoed "U-335" on passage out.

Attacks on Halifax/UK convoy SC94 - In the space of five days slow Halifax/UK convoy SC94 (33 ships) was attacked by a total of 17 U-boats and lost 11 merchantmen. Southeast of Greenland two U-boats were sunk by ships of the Canadian C1 group. On the 6th, Canadian destroyer "Assiniboine" shelled and rammed "U-210". Two days later on the 8th, British corvette "Dianthus" also with C1 group, depth charged and rammed "U-379" to destruction. Four more U-boats were damaged in defence of the convoy.

Brazil - The sinking of five Brazilian ships by U-boats off their own coast in the middle of the month finally drove Brazil to declare war on Germany and Italy on the 22nd August. Bases in the country extended Allied control over the South Atlantic.

28th - "U-94" attacked Trinidad/Cuba convoy TAG15 off Jamaica. Damaged by a US Navy Catalina, she was finished off by Canadian corvette "Oakville".

Battle of the Atlantic - For some time now aircraft of RAF Coastal Command had used the Leigh light searchlight in conjunction with ASV radar to illuminate and attack U-boats at night on the surface. The Germans now introduced the Metox detector which enabled U-boats to pick up the 1.5m wavelength transmissions of the existing ASV sets in time for them to submerge. They thus moved one step ahead of the Allies in the scientific war. The RAF's important Bay of Biscay patrols lost effectiveness accordingly.

Monthly Loss Summary
- 106 British, Allied and neutral ships of 544,000 tons in the Atlantic from all causes, 1 US destroyer by collision off Nova Scotia
- 9 U-boats including 1 by RAF Bay of Biscay patrols; 3 by US aircraft in Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean and off Iceland; 1 Italian by unknown causes, possibly by RAF Bay of Biscay patrols.



4th - "U-372" was sunk near Jaffa on the 4th by destroyers "Sikh" and "Zulu", 'Hunts' "Croome" and "Tetcott" and a RAF Wellington of No 203 Squadron. Back in June, "U-372" had sunk the valuable submarine depot ship "Medway" off Alexandria.

10th-15th - Malta Convoy: Operation 'Pedestal' - For Malta to survive another convoy had to be fought through. The biggest operation ever was mounted from the Gibraltar end. A total of fourteen merchantmen, including two American and the British-manned tanker "Ohio" had a massive escort. Close in were cruisers "Nigeria", "Kenya", "Manchester" and "Cairo" and 12 destroyers. Covering were fleet carriers "Eagle", "Indomitable" and "Victorious" each with their accompanying cruisers, battleships "Nelson" and "Rodney", and another 12 destroyers. Still on the 11th and now north of Algiers, "EAGLE" was torpedoed four times by "U-73" and went down. Air attacks took place later that day and early on the 12th gained their first success. Italian and German aircraft slightly damaged "Victorious" and hit a merchantman which later sank. Once the convoy was north of Bizerta, Tunisia, submarine, aircraft and Italian MTB (mas) attacks came fast and furiously, leading to the loss of two cruisers and one destroyer and more transports. Now into the afternoon of the 13th, three merchantmen reached Malta. The fourth struggled in next day, but the crippled "Ohio" only made port on the 15th.

North Africa - Just as Gen Montgomery assumed command of Eighth Army, Rommel made his last attempt to get round the El Alamein defences in the Battle of Alam Halfa.

Indian Ocean

Indian Ocean - Adm Somerville's Eastern Fleet had few escorts. By this time Japanese submarines were appearing in the Indian Ocean and taking a steady toll of Allied shipping. Until the end of 1944 they were joined for various periods by German U-boats, sometimes direct from Europe and at other times operating out of Penang on the west coast of Malaya.



Russian Convoy PQ18 and Return QP14 - PQ18 left Loch Ewe in Scotland on the 2nd with over 40 merchantmen. Close escort was provided by 17 warships plus escort carrier "Avenger" and two destroyers. Close cover was AA cruiser "Scylla" and 16 fleet destroyers, and further out three heavy cruisers. More distant cover was by battleships "Anson" and "Duke of York" northeast of Iceland. German heavy ships moved to Altenfiord but did not sortie. Instead the attack were mounted by aircraft and U-boats. On the 13th, aircraft torpedoed nine ships, but next day "Avenger's" Hurricanes ensured only one more ship was lost to air attack. In total over 40 German aircraft were shot down. U-boats sank three merchantmen but lost three of their number. Destroyers "Faulknor", "Onslow" and "Impulsive" sank "U-88", "U-589" and "U-457" respectively between the 12th and 16th in the Greenland and Barents Seas. (Some sources reverse the identity of "U-88" and "U-589"). Escort carrier "Avenger's" Swordfish from 825 Squadron helped with the destruction of "Onslow's" U-boat on the 14th. Of the original 40 ships, 27 reached Archangel on the 17th. Meanwhile return convoy QP14 with 15 ships sailed on the 13th to gain the protection of escort carrier "Avenger" and the AA cruiser and destroyer force. On the 20th, to the west of Bear Island, minesweeper "LEDA" was sunk by "U-435" and support group destroyer "SOMALI" torpedoed by "U-703". After struggling for four days in tow towards Iceland a gale blew up and she foundered. Three merchant ships were lost to U-boats and the survivors reached Loch Ewe on the 26th. In late 1941, escort carrier "Audacity" closed the Gibraltar air-gap for the first time. "Avenger" had now done the same for the Russian route. However, further convoys had to be postponed as ships were transferred in preparation for the North African landings.

3rd - "U-162" attacked destroyer "Pathfinder" north of Trinidad, but was sunk by her and accompanying destroyers "Quentin" and "Vimy".

11th - Canadian corvette "CHARLOTTETOWN" on passage with a minesweeper in the Gulf of St Lawrence was sunk by "U-517".

"Laconia" Incident - Off West Africa on the 12th, "U-156" sank liner "Laconia" loaded with 1,800 Italian POWs. The CO called for assistance in clear and other U-boats came to the rescue. An American aircraft made an attack and Adm Doenitz subsequently forbade U-boats to help ships' survivors. He was indicted for the 'Laconia order' at the Nurnberg trials.

14th - "U-91" sent Canadian destroyer "OTTAWA" to the bottom, east of Newfoundland. She was with the Canadian C4 group protecting UK/North American convoy ON127, which lost seven ships to U-boats.

26th - U-boats attacked convoy RB1 of Great Lakes steamers bound for the UK. In mid-Atlantic, escorting destroyer "VETERAN" was lost to "U-404". There were no survivors and only postwar-captured German records revealed her fate.

Battle of the Atlantic - U-boats continued to operate off Sierra Leone, West Africa and the northern coast of South America where Allied losses remained high. Off Trinidad alone 29 ships of 143,000 tons went down in September. However, the interlocking convoy system was well on the way to being established off the Americas, and was increasing in effectiveness. In September the western termini for Atlantic convoys were moved from the Canadian ports of Halifax, Nova Scotia and Sydney, Cape Breton down to New York. In time, pressure on the port became so great, some convoy starts moved back to Halifax in March 1943. A long felt need for countering the U-boats started to be met when Adm Noble formed the first convoy support groups. These highly trained flotillas were used to reinforce the escorts of convoys under heavy attack, and although called Escort Groups should not be confused with the groups of 1941, often temporary in nature and with a diversity of ship types. Some of the new Escort Groups were formed around the escort carriers now entering service - the first since "Audacity" lost in December 1941. Unfortunately none of them was available to fight the Battle of the Atlantic for another six months, as they were needed for the invasion of French North Africa.

Monthly Loss Summary
- 102 British, Allied and neutral ships of 531,000 tons in the Atlantic from all causes, 5 escorts
- 1 German raider and 9 U-boats including 3 by US and RAF aircraft in the North Atlantic; 1 by RAF Bay of Biscay patrols; 1 on an RAF-laid mine in the Bay of Biscay


Mid-September - Submarine "TALISMAN" left Gibraltar on the 10th with stores for Malta. She reported a U-boat off Philippeville, eastern Algeria on the 15th, but was not heard from again - presumed mined in the Strait of Sicily.

Monthly Loss Summary
4 British or Allied merchant ships of 800 tons



8th - "U-179" torpedoed and sank a merchantman off Cape Town, South Africa and was then depth-charged and rammed by destroyer "Active". Four other U-boats had preceded "U-179" to South African waters and in just four weeks sank over 20 ships.

Attacks on Halifax/UK Convoy SC104 - The convoy with 47 ships escorted by the British B6 group lost eight merchantmen to U-boats. However, in mid-Atlantic on the 15th, destroyer "Viscount" rammed and sank "U-619", and next day destroyer "Fame" accounted for "U-353", also by ramming. (Note: the identity of "U-619" wis sometimes reversed with "U-661" sunk in the vicinity by the RAF.)

23rd - Two U-boats were on patrol off the Congo Estuary. "U-161" torpedoed and badly damaged cruiser "Phoebe" on passage to French Equatorial Africa.

Battle of the Atlantic - Losses continued high in the North Atlantic, many in the air-gaps on the transatlantic routes which aircraft could not reach from Newfoundland, Iceland or Northern Ireland. Also on the routes to and from Sierra Leone which were remote from Gibraltar or Freetown. For example, Atlantic convoys HX212 and SC107 lost six and fifteen ships respectively, and Sierra Leone convoy SL125 around thirteen. Apart from escort carriers, more very long range (VLR) aircraft were needed by RAF Coastal Command. Only No 120 squadron was equipped with the VLR B-24 Liberators. In October there were nearly 200 operational U-boats out of a total of 365. German losses were increasing as the effectiveness of Allied air and sea escorts and patrols improves, but nowhere near enough to offset new construction.

Monthly Loss Summary
- 82 British, Allied and neutral ships of 548,000 tons in the Atlantic from all causes, 1 cruiser
- 15 U-boats including 6 by RAF in North Atlantic; 1 by RAF Bay of Biscay patrols; 1 by RAF-laid mine in the Bay of Biscay; 2 by RCAF off Newfoundland; 1 by US aircraft off French Guiana; 1 by unknown causes, possibly by US aircraft


30th - Destroyers "Pakenham", "Petard" and "Hero", escort destroyers "Dulverton" and "Hurworth" and RAF aircraft of No 47 Squadron sank "U-559" north of Port Said.



Allied Convoy Routes - New fast (F) and slow (S) convoys started in October and November between the UK and North African ports - UK out (KMF and KMS) and Home to UK (MKF and MKS). From April 1943 these convoys sailed to and from the Gibraltar area mainly with OS and SL-convoyed ships.

15th - The Germans reacted to the 'Torch' landings on French North Africa by concentrating U-boats off Morocco and to the west of Gibraltar. A number of empty transports were sunk, and on the 15th escort carrier "AVENGER" sailing with return convoy MKF1 was torpedoed by "U-155" and went down off the Strait of Gibraltar. Only 12 men survived. That same day, destroyer "Wrestler" also with MKF1 sank "U-411". Over the next few days US destroyers accounted for "U-173" and the RAF for "U-98".

Attacks on UK/North America Convoy ONS144 - Slow convoy ONS144 was heavily attacked in the mid-Atlantic and lost five ships. Escort was provided by the British B6 group composed largely of Norwegian-manned corvettes. On the 18th the Norwegian "MONTBRETIA" was lost to "U-624" or "U-262", but two days later Norwegian sister-ship "Potentilla sank "U-134".

21st - Aircraft of 817 Squadron from fleet carrier "Victorious" accounted for "U-517" southwest of Ireland.

Arctic Convoys - Archangel to Loch Ewe, Scotland convoy QP15 with 28 ships loses two to U-boat attack.

Battle of the Atlantic - World-wide losses in tonnage due to Axis submarines were the highest of any month of the war - 119 ships of 729,000 tons, mostly in the Atlantic. By year's end, submarines in 1942 accounted for 1,160 ships of 6,266,000 tons or a monthly average of 522,000 tons. Losses in the North and South Atlantic made up most of this total. To deal with this grave threat, a Cabinet Anti-U-boat Warfare Committee (not the 1941 Battle of the Atlantic Committee) was formed under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Winston Churchill. It saw the first need as closing the mid-Atlantic gap once and for all. Steps were taken to further expand Coastal Command and speed up the introduction of VLR aircraft. Adm Sir Max Horton, commander of home-based submarines since 1940 and a World War 1 submariner himself, succeeded Adm Noble as C-in-C, Western Approaches.

Monthly Loss Summary
- 93 British, Allied and neutral ships of 567,000 tons in the Atlantic from all causes, 1 escort carrier, 1 destroyer and 1 corvette
- 7 U-boats including one by US aircraft off Iceland, and one possibly by the RAF in the North Atlantic


11th - Submarine "UNBEATEN", on patrol in the Bay of Biscay for U-boats on passage to and from Atlantic operations, was accidentally lost in an attack by a RAF Wellington.


4th - Second Battle of El Alamein had been won by British Eighth Army

8th - French North African Landings: Operation 'Torch' - To provide the large amounts of shipping needed, Russian convoys and those to and from Britain and Gibraltar/West Africa had been suspended and the Home Fleet stripped bare. The Allies' greatest concern was the hundred or more U-boats at sea.

10th - In addition to the Atlantic approaches to Gibraltar, a large number of German and Italian submarines were concentrated in the Western Mediterranean to attack the 'Torch' follow-up convoys. Transports and escorting warships were sunk and damaged, but losses were never great, and seven Axis submarines, five of them German U-boats were sunk in exchange. On the 10th, destroyer "MARTIN" was sunk by "U-431" off Algiers.

12th - "U-660" was sunk by escorting corvettes "Lotus" and "Starwort" northeast of Oran.

13th - Next day "Lotus", this time with "Poppy" accounted for "U-605" off Algiers. On the 14th and 15th respectively, "U-595" and "U-259" were sunk by aircraft.

13th - "U-431" sent Dutch destroyer "lSAAC SWEERS" to the bottom northwest of Algiers.

17th - "U-331" was damaged by RAF Hudsons of No 500 Squadron and tried to surrender. Aircraft of 820 Squadron from carrier "Formidable" torpedoed her in error off Algiers.

Indian Ocean

Merchant Shipping War - A few Japanese submarines continued to operate in the Indian Ocean and were now joined by a number of German U-boats on patrol off the east coast of South Africa.

Monthly Loss Summary
Indian Ocean only - 23 merchant ships of 131,000 tons



16th - In attacks on UK/North America convoy ON153, "U-211" sank destroyer "FIREDRAKE" in mid-Atlantic on the night of the 16th/17th.

26th - Outward bound "U-357" was detected by HF/DF to the northwest of Ireland. Destroyers "Hesperus" and "Vanessa" of the British B2 group (Cdr Macintyre) with convoy HX219 located and sank her.

27th - "U-356" attacked slow convoy ONS154 escorted by the Canadian Cl group to the north of the Azores. Destroyer "St Laurent" and corvettes "Battleford", "Chilliwack" and "Napanee" all shared in her sinking. It was a poor return for the convoy's loss of 13 of its 45 ships.

Battle of the Barents Sea - Following the German surface ships failure to get at Russian Convoys JW51A and JW51B, Hitler ordered the paying off of all German big ships. Grand-Adm Raeder resigns in protest and was succeeded as C-in-C, German Navy, in January by Adm Doenitz. The paying-off order was revoked but Adm Doenitz continues as U-boat C-in-C.

Battle of the Atlantic - Total U-boat strength at year's end approached 400 compared to 250 in January, and this in spite of 86 submarines being lost in 1942. Of the total, over 200 were operational. Many were on passage but the numbers on patrol were still great and increasing. Most were in the North Atlantic or west of Gibraltar although groups operated off West Africa and South America with some success. The Allies could deploy 450 escort vessels of all types against the U-boats, a large number but still not enough to curb the menace and go over to the offensive. In December the Royal Navy and its Allies regained an old advantage against the U-boats when after a 10-month gap, the U-boat 'Triton' code for Atlantic operations was broken.

Monthly Loss Summary
- 54 British, Allied and neutral ships of 305,000 tons in the Atlantic from all causes, 3 escorts
- 1 German destroyer and 5 U-boats including 1 each by US and indirectly by RAF aircraft in attacked on HX217; 1 by US Coast Guard in mid-Atlantic


Attacks off Algeria - Attacks on Allied shipping off Algeria led to more losses: 9th - As destroyer "PORCUPINE" escorted submarine depot ship "Maidstone" from Gibraltar to Algiers, she was torpedoed and badly damaged off Oran by "U-602", and never repaired. 11th - Escort destroyer "BLEAN" sailing with fast North Africa/UK convoy MKF4 was lost to "U-443" west of Oran. 18th - Porcupine's sister-ship "PARTRIDGE" was torpedoed by "U-565" while carrying out an A/S sweep with Force H, and went down off Oran.


on to German U-boats,1943
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revised 9/7/11