HMS Tempest

12 February 1942

Depth charged near Gulf of Taranto by Italian TB Circe

HMS Tempest sailed from Malta on the night of 10th February to patrol the Gulf of Taranto. On the evening of the 11th Tempest was signalled that the Italians were aware of a submarine in her vicinity and that it should be assumed that her patrol had been compromised. At 0302 on the 13th the Italian destroyer Circe sighted the submarine on the surface. Tempest had also seen the destroyer and began to dive. Circe moved in to attack and at 03.32 began depth charging the area. At 0716 Circe, still in contact with the Tempest, began a second attack resulting in oil being seen on the surface. The submarine had been crippled. At 0945 Tempest returned to the surface to be met with gunfire from the Circe. The order was given to abandon the submarine, the crew being pick-up by the destroyer. The Italians attempted to board the abandoned vessel but were held back by rough seas. By 1300 the submarine had settled in the water and the demolition charges set by the Tempest’s crew had failed. With boarding of the submarine impossible due to bad weather, the Italian destroyer opened fire and although more than a dozen direct hits were recorded the submarine refused to sink. Finally the Italians attempted to take the submarine in tow. Two members of the destroyer’s crew boarded the submarine and prepared the tow. As Circe manoeuvred to take up the tow Tempest suddenly started to sink forcing those onboard to jump into the sea. HMS Tempest slipped beneath the waves stern first with the bows disappearing vertically.

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23 February 1942

Depth charged north of Tripoli by Italian TB Circe

HMS P38 left Malta on 16th February 1942 to intercept a convoy off Tripoli. By the 23rd she was in position as the convoy hove into view. Amongst the convoy was the Italian destroyer Circe. At 0800 the Circe reported contact with a submarine and the warships turned to attack. A periscope was sighted but was quickly replaced by bubbles as the submarine dived realising it had been spotted. At 1050 after a flurry of attacks HMS P38 rose stern first out of the water, her propellers turning wildly, before crashing back beneath the waves. A large patch of oil appeared on the surface as well as debris - clear evidence of the submarine’s destruction.

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26 March 1942

Sunk off Malta by aircraft

On 26th March 1942 HMS P39 was sitting alongside a jetty in Malta Harbour when German aircraft launched a concerted attack. P39 was serially damaged and while she did not sink, due to the efforts of the crew, it was decided that she was too badly damaged to be worth repairing. She was towed to Kalkara and beached.

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1 April 1942

Sunk off Malta by aircraft

On 1st April 1942 HMS P36 was lying alongside a jetty at Silema Harbour in Malta when the Luftwaffe attacked the harbour. A large bomb landed sufficiently near to the submarine to hole her and she began to sink. Despite desperate efforts to save the submarine she rolled over and sank.

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HMS Pandora

1 April 1942

Sunk off Malta by aircraft

HMS Pandora arrived at Malta loaded with stores on 31st March 1942. Having discharged her oil she was moved to Hamilton Wharf at dawn the following day. A bombing raid began as she was being further unloaded and rather than delay her progress it was decided to continue despite the raid. Between 1500 and 1600 on the afternoon of 1st April Pandora received two direct hits from bombs and sank.

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HMS Upholder

14 April 1942

Probably depth charged north of Tripoli by Italian DE Pegaso

On the 12th April HMS Upholder was ordered to form a patrol line with HMS Urge and HMS Thrasher to intercept a convoy. It is not known if this signal was received and the submarine failed to return to harbour on her due date. A number of theories exist as to the fate of Upholder, the most likely is that she fell victim to a depth charge attack by the Italian anti-submarine vessel Pagaso on 14th April east of Tripoli although no debris was seen and the position of the attack would have put Upholder some 100 miles out of position, however, this can be explained by the submarine changing position to find ‘richer pickings’. A second theory is that the submarine struck a mine near Tripoli on the night of 11th April, supported by the fact that a submarine was sighted approaching a minefield.

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HMS Urge

29 April 1942

Possibly sunk off Ras el Hilal, Libya by Italian aircraft

On 27th April 1942 HMS Urge left Malta on passage to Alexandria, where she was due to arrive on the 6th. The submarine failed to arrive. It is possible that Urge struck a mine outside Malta or that she was sunk by the Italian torpedo boat Pegaso in the eastern Mediterranean.

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HMS Olympus

8 May 1942

Mined off Malta

HMS Olympus left Malta on 8th May 1942 on board were the survivors of HMS Pandora, HMS P35, HMS P36 and HMS P39. The submarine struck a mine 6 miles out from St Elmo Light.

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HMS P514

21 June 1942

Rammed in error my HMC MS Georgian

On 20th June 1942 HMS P514 left the Canadian village of Argentia bound for St Johns, Newfoundland. At 0300 on the 21st the minesweeper Georgian was waiting to provide an escort for a convoy bound for Sydney. The Georgian, unaware that any friendly submarines were in the area, assumed that the dark shape of P514 crossing her bow, was an enemy vessel. The Georgian rammed the mystery submarine amidships and reported it sunk. A rescue mission was immediately sent out but no survivors were found. A Board of Enquiry into the accident accepted that the Captain of the Georgian had acted correctly as there had been no reply from the submarine to his identification challenge.

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HMS Thorn

7 August 1942

Probably depth charged off Gevdo Island by Italian DE Pegaso

On the 7th August 1942 HMS Thorn encountered the Italian torpedo boat Pegaso, escorting the steamer Istria from Benghazi, 30 miles south west of Gaudhos Island, off southern Crete. At 1255 an escorting aircraft was seen to machine-gun the sea’s surface and Pegaso moved in to investigate. Just four minutes after the aircraft’s attack the Pegaso picked-up a contact and carried out seven attacks after which contact was lost. HMS Thorn failed to return from the patrol and is believed to have been lost in this attack.

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HMS Talisman

17 September 1942

Presumed mined south of Sicily

On 10th September 1942 HMS Talisman left Gibraltar for passage to Malta where she was due no later than the 18th. Messages were received from the submarine on the 14th but she failed to arrive at Malta. The Italians claim to have sunk a submarine on the 17th to the north west of Malta. This is believed to have been the Talisman.

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HMS Unique

10 October 1942

Possibly depth charged off northern Spain

HMS Unique left Holy Loch for a patrol in the Bay of Biscay on 7th October 1942. She left her escort off the Scillies on the 9th. No more was seen or heard from her after that date. HMS Ursula was in the area on the 10th and reported hearing underwater explosions that led her to believe Unique was under attack although the Germans made no claims to her sinking.

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