HMS Narwhal

23 July 1940

Possibly sunk off Norway by aircraft

HMS Narwhal left Blyth on 22nd July 1940. On the afternoon of 23rd July she should have passed through (German) grid square 4856, where an aircraft reported attacking a submarine. This was believed to be Porpoise by the Germans but as Narwhal did not report again, it was assumed this attack sank her.

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HMS Oswald

1 August 1940

Scuttled after being rammed by Destroyer Ungolino Vivaldi

On 19th July 1940 HMS Oswald left Alexandria for patrol east of Sicily. At 1230 on the 30th she spotted a convoy comprising three merchant ships and several destroyers. Oswald’s unsuccessful attack on the convoy alerted the Italians to the submarine’s presence and the 14th and 16th Destroyer Squadrons were ordered to seek out the submarine. On 1st August the destroyer Vivaldi sighted Oswald on the surface at a range of 2500 metres. The destroyer immediately turned to ram the submarine, striking Oswald’s starboard side. Oswald began taking in water and the order to abandon ship was given. Ninety minutes later a series of explosions shook the submarine and Oswald sank to the bottom.

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HMS Spearfish

2 August 1940

Torpedoed in North Sea by U34

HMS Spearfish put to sea from Rosyth on 31st July 1940 for a patrol off the Norwegian coast. On 1st August she was spotted on the surface by U34 who attacked and sank her with her last torpedo.

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HMS Thames

3 August 1940

Probably mined in North Sea

HMS Thames was on her first war patrol when she went missing. She had sailed from Dundee on 22nd July to patrol in the North Sea. On the 22nd July Thames successfully attacked the German torpedo boat Luchs just west of the Skagerrak. The Luchs was acting as part of a screen for the battle cruiser Gneisenau, which is believed to been her original target, and that the Luchs had manoeuvred between the submarine and the battle cruiser just as the former fired her torpedoes. The shortened range and the ensuing explosions may have been the cause of the loss of the Thames although the favoured opinion is that the submarine struck a mine on the night of 2nd /3rd August.

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HMS Rainbow

10 October 1940

Presumed mined off Libya

In October 1940 HMS Rainbow was on patrol in the Mediterranean, operating in the Gulf of Taranto and later in the Gulf of Otranto. She was due back in Alexandria on 19th October but failed to return. On 4th October while attacking a convoy Rainbow collided with the Italian M/V Antonietta Costa and was lost with all hands.

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HMS Triad

15 October 1940

Sunk south west of Calabria by gunfire from Italian S/M Enrico Toti

In October 1940 HMS Triad was patrolling the coast of Libya before proceeding to Alexandria. By 20th October the submarine was overdue. It was initially believed that Italian aircraft had bombed Triad off Calabria, but it was later discovered that she had been attacked and sunk by the Italian submarine Enrico Toti on 15th.

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18 October 1940

Depth charged west of Texel Island by German A/S trawlers

H49 put to sea from Harwich on 17th October 1940 with orders to patrol off the Dutch coast. At 1510 on the 17th the submarine sighted a German anti-submarine flotilla of five vessels at a distance of 3000 yards; the flotilla also spotted the submarine. H49 immediately dived to 60 feet and depth charges began to fall around her. The submarine endured over two hours of depth charge attacks until 1850 when a large oil slick was sighted on the surface by the attacking vessels - marking the end of H49.

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HMS Swordfish

7 November 1940

Mined of St. Catherine’s Point Isle of Wight

HMS Swordfish sailed from Portsmouth on 7th November 1940 for a patrol in the North Sea, her specific duty being to relieve HMS Usk. Nothing was heard from the Swordfish after her departure despite efforts on the 15th and 16th to have her report her position. It was believed at the time that she had fallen victim to a German destroyer in the vicinity of Brest. This belief remained until 1983 when her wreck was discovered off the Isle of Wight at a depth of 150 feet. It is now clear that the submarine struck a mine shortly after sailing from Portsmouth.

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HMS Regulus

26 November 1940

Possibly mined off the Straits of Otranto

On 18th November 1940 HMS Regulus left Alexandria for a patrol in the Adriatic. Her failure to return on 6th December signalled her loss with all hands. It is believed that she stuck a mine in the Straits of Taranto, although the Italians claimed to have sunk a submarine on 26th November; the former explanation is believed more likely.

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HMS Triton

6 December 1940

Lost in Southern Adriatic (unknown cause).

HMS Triton left Malta for a patrol in the lower Adriatic and the Straits of Otranto on 28th November 1940. At 0540 on 6th December an SOS from the Italian merchant vessel Olimpia was intercepted. Triton immediately set of to intercept her and seems to have made a successful attack before she was her self destroyed in a counter attack by two Italian Torpedo boats. There are also reports that the Italian Torpedo boat Clio may have sunk Triton. This attack is reported to have happened several days after Triton should have left the area and is therefore met with some scepticism

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HMS Snapper

11 February 1941

Possibly sunk south west Ushant by German minesweepers

HMS Snapper left the Clyde on 29th January 1941 for a patrol in the Bay of Biscay. She should have arrived in her patrol area on 1st February. On the 7th February she was ordered, by signal, to remain on billet until the 10th and then to return home with her escort. Snapper failed to make the rendezvous with the escort and was not heard from again. It is believed that she met her fate through a mine or that she was mortally damaged by a minesweeper which attacked a submarine in Snapper’s area on the 11th although Snapper should have been out of the area by then.

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