British and Allied Submarine
Operations in World War II
Vice Admiral Sir Arthur Hezlet KBE CB DSO* DSC





Sicily, Salerno and the Collapse of Italy

Patrolgram 19 War patrols in the Mediterranean during Sicily and Salerno
Map 43 Invasion of Sicily Map 44 Invasion of Italy

WITH THE SURRENDER OF THE AXIS forces in Tunisia on 13th May, the whole strategic situation in the Mediterranean altered radically. For three years, except when a massive air and sea operation was mounted, the Mediterranean had been closed to Allied through traffic. Now with the North African coast in Allied hands, convoys could be started to India and the Middle East thereby economising enormously in shipping which no longer had to go round the Cape. At the same time the two and a half-year campaign of attrition against the Axis supplies to North Africa to sustain their forces there was over. The new purpose of the Allied submarines was to help in every way with the invasion of Sicily scheduled for early July. At this stage, this involved making submarines available for any more beach reconnaissance that was needed and also to cut Sicily off from the mainland by sea and prevent its reinforcement and the building up of war supplies there. To achieve this, the Tenth Flotilla at Malta resumed patrols to the east of Sicily and on the coast of Calabria. It was, of course, important that too much attention should not be given to Sicily and so indicate to the enemy where the next blow would fall. The Eighth Flotilla at Algiers, therefore, continued its patrols off Corsica and Sardinia and on the south coast of France and in the Gulf of Genoa as well as in the Tyrrhenian Sea and north of Sicily.

During the Tunisian campaign submarines of the various flotillas had become somewhat intermingled and it was decided at this stage to sort them out. The aim was to base the S-class at Algiers in the Eighth Flotilla, the U-class at Malta in the Tenth Flotilla and the larger submarines of the T and older-classes at Beirut in the First Flotilla. The changes in submarine patrol areas as a result of these alterations in strategy did not appear to be all that different, and to the uninitiated it seemed that the general campaign of attrition against Axis shipping was continuing as before without a pause.

In the middle of May, just after the Axis surrender in Tunisia, there were thirteen submarines at sea. Nine of these were in the western basin of the Mediterranean. Unison, United and Unbroken were north of Sicily and Messina; Sibyl, Saracen and Shakespeare were off Sardinia and Corsica; Trident, Trespasser and Sickle were in the Gulf of Genoa or off the south of France. Trooper was on her way from Algiers to Malta, and Rorqual, Ultor and Unruly were on the Calabrian or East Sicilian coasts. Unrivalled had already made a further beach reconnaissance in southeast Sicily lasting from 3rd-10th May. On 15th May, Sickle (Lieutenant JR Drummond DSC RN) off Monte Carlo, fired four torpedoes at 1800 yards at a small eastbound tanker, hitting and sinking Hereux of 1045 tons1 with one of them2. Sickle was counter attacked by the escort during which she dived to 350 feet and her asdic set was damaged. After this she moved to the Toulon area and discovered what was undoubtedly the local U-boat exercise area. On 19th she sighted two U-boats and stalked one of them for three hours. She then started to attack another but was put deep. On 20th, after dark, she got another chance and fired six torpedoes at an outward-bound German U-boat at a range of 5500 yards but missed and it does not seem that her quarry even knew that she had been attacked. Sickle was at last successful next day when she fired her last two torpedoes at another U-boat at 2600 yards and hit with one of them abaft the conning tower sinking U303.

By now it had been decided to take Pantellaria before the invasion of Sicily. On 10th May United (Lieutenant JCY Roxburgh DSC RN) left Malta with eight SAS soldiers to land and take a prisoner to find out more about the strength of the garrison. The weather, however, was too rough for the inflatable boats they intended to use, and the operation failed. On 18th, the same detachment sailed again but this time in Unshaken (Lieutenant J Whitton RN). A careful periscope reconnaissance was made but the landing again failed. She sailed again on 24th for another attempt. The SAS landed but the alarm was raised, there was a firefight and one man was killed. Another attempt sailing on 29th was also unsuccessful.

On 16th, Unruly (Lieutenant JP Fyfe RN) who had arrived at Malta on 29th April was on the east coast of Sicily and sighted an armed merchant ship leaving Catania with a destroyer escort. She fired four torpedoes at 1500 yards hitting her aft with one of them. This was probably Tommaseo of 3200 tons and she was damaged but was later repaired3.Unruly only suffered a mild counter attack but air activity was intense. Rorqual (Lieutenant Commander LW Napier DSO RN) laid a minefield off Cape Stilo on the Calabrian coast on 15th May. She then proceeded to Port Said where she had a brief refit. On 17th, Unison (Lieutenant AR Daniell DSC RN) returned to Malta from a blank patrol off Palermo and spent the second half of the month exercising with a chariot carried on chocks on the after casing, which it was hoped to use for COPP operations in Sicily and which it was expected would be more effective than a folbot. On 21st off Augusta, Unruly sighted a U-boat after dark and fired four torpedoes at a range of 3000 yards on a rather late track and missed. Sportsman (Lieutenant R Gatehouse DSC RN) off the west coast of Corsica encountered the French General Bona-parte of 2796 tons. She fired four torpedoes at 1000 yards hitting with one of them and sinking her. After patrolling off Cape Mele for a week, she moved to the Gulf of Lions. On 26th she met the large French tanker Marguerite Finaly of 12,309 tons and fired a full salvo of six torpedoes. The range was 7500 yards but she hit with one of them. The target was only damaged and got into Toulon next day. On 28th she attacked a German tug towing three lighters, with her gun. After obtaining one hit her gun jammed and she was forced to dive by the return fire from the tug. On 19th too, Unbroken (Lieutenant BJB Andrew DSC RN) on patrol north of Messina in the Gulf of Eufemia, discovered a tug towing a raft with sheerlegs. She fired two torpedoes at 3000 yards hitting with one of them and sinking the tug, which was Enrica of 269 tons. The next day she met another tug towing a lighter with dockyard machinery and fired another two torpedoes at 2100 yards but this time she missed. On 21st she fired her remaining four torpedoes at a large merchant ship in a convoy. One torpedo hit, although the range was very long, sinking the 5140-ton Bologna, an ex-Vichy ship. After a light counter attack, Unbroken left patrol for Malta having expended all her torpedoes. Also on 19th, United, on patrol between Cape St Vito and Palermo, fired two torpedoes at a small tug towing a lighter at a range of 2000 yards but failed to hit this small target. During the month the French submarine La Vestale, on passage from Oran to Algiers, in spite of a motor launch escort, was rammed by the destroyer Wishart, which was escorting a damaged merchant ship. La Vestale was badly damaged and there were several casualties, an officer being killed. She was out of action at Oran for some time.

On 23rd May, Ultor (Lieutenant GE Hunt DSC RN) having drawn blank on the east coast of Calabria sighting only a hospital ship and some Swedish relief ships bound for Greece, had moved to the east coast of Sicily. She investigated Augusta harbour and fired a torpedo at an anti-submarine trawler in the entrance. The range was 1400 yards and she succeeded and hit and sank her. Trooper (Lieutenant JS Wraith DSO DSC RN) sailed from Malta on 22nd to patrol off Cephalonia on her way to join the First Flotilla. She carried out a special operation off Zante on 25th and another on the Italian Adriatic coast on 31st. On 29th May, Dzik (Kapitan BS Romanowski), which had arrived in Malta early in the month, was off Cape Spartivento and fired four torpedoes at a large escorted tanker. She heard two hits but was subjected to a 28-charge counter attack and was unable to confirm the result. She, in fact, had hit the 12,000-ton Carnaro but did not sink her and she was towed to Messina and eventually repaired. Seraph (Lieutenant NLA Jewell MBE RN) was on patrol east of Sardinia on 27th May when she encountered a convoy of small ships after dark near the Strait of Bonifacio. She fired three torpedoes at 1800 yards without result and suffered a mild counter attack. On 30th, an escorted convoy passed out of range and later an attack on a large supply ship failed because the enemy altered course. Seraph, however, pursued and fired a single torpedo at 6000 yards from nearly right astern but it was a forlorn hope and it missed too. Anti-submarine vessels and aircraft subsequently hunted her for her trouble. On 31st a convoy of two small ships with destroyer and air escort was sighted. She was detected during her approach and depth charged and the convoy turned away. Two single torpedoes were fired after the enemy ships from right astern at ranges of 1200 and 3500 yards and one of them had a gyro failure and circled Seraph four times while the other missed. The counter attack continued for an hour. Safari (Lieutenant RB Lakin DSO DSC RN), in the same general area, carried out a special operation on the east coast of Sardinia on 30th May and then moved on to patrol off the Strait of Ajaccio. The French submarine La Sultane (Lieutenant de Vaisseau Bourdin) had a blank patrol in the Gulf of Genoa at the end of May. On 25th, Taurus (Lieutenant Commander MRG Wingfield DSO RN) left Malta to join the First Flotilla in Beirut, patrolling in the Aegean on the way. The Greek submarine Katsonis (Ypoploiarkhos E Tsoukalas) was also active in the Aegean during the last ten days of May. She carried out two landing operations and sank the Spanish ship Rigel of 550 tons in the Skiathos Channel using gun and torpedo. She also fired two torpedoes into Karlovassi Harbour in Samos aimed at a large ship but the result was unobserved4.

In spite of the Axis surrender in Tunisia, May was a month of considerable activity by Allied submarines although the sinkings by them decreased5.In twenty-four attacks firing 73 torpedoes, they sank the German U303 and an Italian anti-submarine trawler and seven ships totalling 12,599 tons and damaged another three of 27,509 tons. No Allied submarines were lost during the month.

JUNE WAS THE FINAL MONTH of preparation for the landings in Sicily. The invasion forces were mounted not only in French North Africa but also in the Middle East and in the United Kingdom itself. The part of the Allied submarines in the Mediterranean was to complete such beach reconnaissances as were required, and for those submarines which were to lead in the United States landing forces, to carry out exercises with them. It was also necessary to reorganise patrol periods so that the right number of submarines would be available for the various duties required of them on D-day. Until then the blockade of Sicily itself, to prevent reinforcements reaching the island, was continued as well as patrols elsewhere so as to disperse the anti-submarine effort and so as not to give away that Sicily was the objective. In practice, the submarines continued their general campaign against Axis shipping as before throughout the Mediterranean. The operational areas for which the three flotillas were responsible were, however, revised at this time and are shown on Map 43. It will be seen that the Eighth Flotilla at Algiers was responsible for the whole western basin, except that the north coast of Sicily and the passage round Marittimo were now in the Tenth Flotilla's area. The Tenth Flotilla was also responsible for the Ionian Sea as far to the east as the longitude of Corfu and also for the Adriatic. The First Flotilla at Beirut had the eastern basin including the Aegean and the west coast of Greece under its operational control. It may seem surprising that no overall submarine command was established in the Mediterranean at this time. A force of three flotillas would seem to justify it with a Rear Admiral or Commodore in command. It must, however, be remembered that the naval command in the Mediterranean was still divided between C-in-C Mediterranean at Algiers and C-in-C Levant at Alexandria, the Eighth and Tenth Flotillas coming under the former and the First Flotilla under the latter. In practice the operation of the submarines worked well. Captain(S) Eight at Algiers was in close touch with the staff of C-in-C Mediterranean and with the special staff planning the landings in Sicily. He was also in close touch by signal with Captain(S) Ten at Malta and Captain(S) One at Beirut.

On 1st June there were fourteen Allied submarines at sea in the Mediterranean. In the western basin, Safari was east of Corsica and Sardinia; Unruffled and Dolfijn were north of Sicily; Trespasser was in the Gulf of Lions; Seraph was in the north Tyrrhenian Sea and the French submarines Arethuse and La Sultane were in the Gulf of Genoa and on the north west coast of Italy respectively. In the eastern basin, Unrivalled was making a beach reconnaissance on the south east coast of Sicily while Uproar and the Polish Sokol had just left Malta for the Calabrian coast. Trooper was patrolling in the Adriatic on her way to Beirut where Taurus was also bound via the Aegean. In the Aegean too were Parthian and the Greek Katsonis.

On 3rd June off Cape Suvero in Sicily, Unruffled (Lieutenant JS Stevens DSO DSC RN) sighted a large escorted southbound tanker hugging the Calabrian coast and fired four torpedoes at 1200 yards hitting with no less than three of them and sinking the French Henri Desprez of 9805 tons under German control. Unruffled escaped a counter attack by diving close inshore under the cliffs. On the same day off Bari in the Adriatic, Trooper (Lieutenant JS Wraith DSO DSC RN), having located the searched channel, fired four torpedoes at 1400 yards at a small supply ship. She missed but the ship at once turned back and re-entered harbour. On 5th Uproar (Lieutenant LE Herrick DSC RN) sighted a small tanker making for Crotone. She fired four torpedoes at 4000 yards but without success and was subjected to an inaccurate counter attack. On 9th, Uproar responded to an aircraft report and moved south. The expected target was not seen but a small supply ship was sighted and four torpedoes were fired at very long range (7000 yards) and missed. Safari in the eastern approach to the Straits of Bonifacio had had two brushes at night with a small but persistent anti-submarine vessel and in the second of these was forced to dive by tracer bullets followed by twelve depth charges and suffered minor damage. On 7th, while this adversary was still about, she sighted a convoy of three ships with a destroyer escort bound for Maddalena. She fired four torpedoes at 7000 yards and missed and was again counter attacked, this time by fourteen depth charges fairly close, but she was able to withdraw from the area. On 10th, on her way home off Cape Comino in Sardinia, Safari fired three torpedoes at close range (600 yards) at a ship carrying cased petrol and vehicles, hitting and sinking the German KT12 of 850 tons. On 8th June, Trespasser (Lieutenant RM Favell RN) off Toulon, still on her working up patrol, sighted a convoy of three tankers in misty weather. She fired six torpedoes but the range was long (6000 yards) and, although she thought she had obtained a hit at the time, in fact she almost certainly missed. On the same day Sokol (Kapitan GC Koziolkowski), who had rejoined the Tenth Flotilla during the month, was off the east Calabrian coast and fired two torpedoes at an anti-submarine schooner at a range of 1200 yards but they ran under the target. On 10th, Taurus (Lieutenant Commander MRG Wingfield DSO RN) in the Aegean off Stampalia Island sighted a U-boat. She fired six torpedoes at 4000 yards but the enemy saw the torpedo tracks and dived and got away. Taurus had to be satisfied with sinking seven caiques by gunfire, varying in size from 120 to 25 tons. Of the other submarines at sea at the beginning of June, Dolfijn (Luitenant ter zee 1e Kl HMLFE van Oostrom Soede), while reconnoitring Santa Maria anchorage on the island of Ustica, ran aground submerged close to an enemy motor torpedo boat. She surfaced and engaged with her gun while withdrawing, but although she got away she had two men wounded by machine gun fire and some ninety holes in her upper works. She returned to Malta instead of Algiers to land her wounded, as it was closer. On 4th June, the French submarine Arethuse (Lieutenant de Vaisseau Gouttier) attacked and sank the tanker Dalny of 6000 tons that was at anchor off Cape Cervo in the Gulf of Genoa. This was the first success by one of the French submarines that had joined the Allies after the North African landings6.

All the submarines on patrol at the beginning of the month had returned to base by mid-June and were relieved by others. Severn, Templar and Unsparing had reinforced the Eighth Flotilla at Algiers from the Home station. Safari, Shakespeare and Seraph were busy with exercises with American amphibious forces for the landings in Sicily, and Simoom, Templar and Unsparing were despatched for working up patrols off Corsica and Sardinia, in the Gulf of Lions and on the south coast of France respectively. Sibyl, Shakespeare, Sportsman and Sickle also made regular patrols in the Gulf of Genoa, off Toulon and off Corsica and were joined by the French submarines Casabianca and La Perle. The Tenth Flotilla at Malta were busy as ever. Unruly, Ultor and Dzik were sent to the north coast of Sicily while Unbroken, United and Unison patrolled south of Messina and on the Calabrian coast. Unruffled, Unseen and Unrivalled completed the beach reconnaissances for the landings in Sicily, while Unshaken took part in operations for the capture of Pantellaria as already related before going on to patrol east of Sicily. Two more T-class were sent to join the First Flotilla at Beirut, Tactician patrolling in the Adriatic on the way and Trident in the Aegean7. Parthian and Osiris were earmarked to land Commandos in Sicily as part of the invasion. Osiris was, however, released from this commitment and made a short patrol in the Aegean instead. Parthian sailed for Malta with the special landing craft on board. Rorqual completed her refit at Port Said on 21st and went to Haifa to load mines.

Unison (Lieutenant AR Daniell DSC RN) left Malta on 1st June carrying a chariot on the after casing to make a beach reconnaissance in Sicily. The weather, however, was so rough that she could not launch the chariot and she returned to Malta. She left again on 6th taking a folbot as well. A reconnaissance with the folbot was successful but the chariot was lost, although its crew was saved. Unrivalled (Lieutenant HB Turner RN) and Unseen (Lieutenant MLC Crawford DSC RN) also took chariots for beach reconnaissance on either side of Cape Passaro, and Unruffled (Lieutenant JS Stevens DSO DSC RN) took another COPP to beaches south of Syracuse.

Ultor (Lieutenant GE Hunt DSC RN) sailed from Malta on 6th June and was in position on the north coast of Sicily south of Lipari Island by the 10th. She encountered a small naval auxiliary almost at once and fired two torpedoes at a range of 1000 yards. The enemy, however, saw the tracks and took avoiding action. She consoled herself by picking up the tail of a crashed Italian aircraft as a souvenir. On 13th, Ultor bombarded a direction finding station on Salina Island. She fired 43 rounds at a range of 2000 yards and secured many hits. She sighted no more targets until 15th and on that day she saw what she took to be a cable ship escorted by two destroyers, and fired three torpedoes at 1000 yards hitting with one of them and sinking the Italian auxiliary minesweeper Tullio. A counter attack by the destroyers was efficient but did no harm. After dark the same day she fired her last three torpedoes at one of two destroyers at a range of 3700 yards obtaining one hit but it appears that the enemy was only damaged. Ultor, with no torpedoes left, then set course for Malta meeting a large supply ship on the way, which she was unable to do anything about. Early on 12th June, just after midnight, Unruly (Lieutenant JP Fyfe RN), north of Messina and just south of Paola on the coast of the Italian mainland, sighted a small supply ship with a trawler escort southbound and close inshore. She fired four torpedoes at a range of 2000 yards in a surface attack but without result. It is believed that one torpedo hit but did not explode. On 14th, also at night, a large supply ship escorted by a destroyer was attacked. Four more torpedoes were fired from the surface at a range of 3500 yards and two of them hit sinking Valentina Coda of 4485 tons. A counter attack consisted of only six depth charges. Unruly, with all torpedoes expended too, then returned to Malta. There were two other attacks made on 14th June, the first of which was by United (Lieutenant JCY Roxburgh DSC RN) off Cape Spartivento on the other side of the toe of Italy. She met a ship leaving the Straits of Messina at midday escorted by a torpedo boat and an aircraft. The enemy obligingly altered course towards her and she fired four torpedoes at 800 yards hitting with two of them and sinking the German Ringulo of 5153 tons. There was an accurate counter attack of 37 depth charges breaking some lights8.

The second attack on 14th was by Tactician (Lieutenant Commander AF Collett DSC RN) off the Albanian coast. She sighted a large ship off Valona and fired four torpedoes at 2000 yards hitting with one of them in spite of the fact that one of her tubes made a large splash on firing. Just over an hour later she sighted the target stopped 9800 yards away and possibly aground and fired a single torpedo from one of her stern tubes. A counter attack by the escort prevented her seeing what happened but subsequent research shows that she sank the Italian Rosandra of 8035 tons. This was most satisfactory, as on 10th June when she was attacking a small tanker, she had been nearly run down by a fast convoy approaching from the opposite direction. This failure was to a certain extent offset by a gun action in which a large schooner and a boarding vessel were damaged. Tactician was, however, forced to dive by shore batteries and the boarding vessel then dropped twenty-five depth charges on her.

Unbroken (Lieutenant BJB Andrew DSC RN), off Taranto, fired a single torpedo at a schooner off Alice Point but it ran under. In twilight later the same day when north of Crotone, she fired four torpedoes at a small escorted tanker at a range of 2500 yards but one of the torpedoes failed to run and the others missed. Unison, south of Messina and also on 16th, attacked a ship escorted by two destroyers making for Augusta. She closed to 700 yards and fired four torpedoes, two of which hit and sank the Italian Terni of 2998 tons, which blew up with a heavy explosion. On 16th too, Dzik (Kapitan BS Romanowski), patrolling north of Sicily, gave chase to a naval auxiliary of 300 tons. Next day the same ship was intercepted off Cape Milazzo before it was light and three torpedoes were fired from the surface at 800 yards. One torpedo missed ahead, another ran under and the third ran crooked. Later the same day, she fired another three torpedoes at a range of 3000 yards at an escorted supply ship off Paniera Island. She claimed two hits and was counter attacked with twelve depth charges. She later saw the destroyer leaving the scene and there was no sign of the target. However, there is no confirmation of this sinking in Axis records. On 15th June, Sickle (Lieutenant JR Drummond DSC RN), west of Sardinia and in heavy weather, fired six torpedoes at long range (over 5000 yards) at a U-boat but without result9. On 16th, United, still on patrol off the east coast of Calabria attempted to attack a German U-boat passing close, but could not get her torpedoes away and the U-boat escaped. On 20th, fifteen miles south of Cape Spartivento, she sighted an armed liner eastbound and without escort. Four torpedoes were fired at 900 yards, three of which hit and sank the Italian Olbia of 3514 tons.

During the last ten days of June, in spite of the need to rest submarines required for the landings in Sicily, the attacks on Axis shipping continued unabated. Unshaken (Lieutenant J Whitton RN) off the east coast of Sicily on 22nd, sighted a schooner close inshore. She fired two torpedoes at a range of 2400 yards and both hit and the target, Giovanni G of 69 tons, disintegrated. In this attack, the Tenth Submarine Flotilla fired its thousandth torpedo. As soon as the tubes had been reloaded, a merchant ship was sighted carrying out a continuous zigzag, escorted by three destroyers and steering for Syracuse. Unshaken got away four torpedoes at this difficult target. A counter attack began at once and, not surprisingly, no hits were obtained. Next day she had better luck when she sighted two empty merchant ships escorted by two destroyers leaving Augusta for the north. Unshaken had only two torpedoes left and she fired them at 4200 yards aimed at the rear ship securing one hit and sinking the Italian (ex-Yugoslav) Pomo of 1425 tons. The escorts were busy picking up survivors and no counter attack developed.

On 24th, Unsparing (Lieutenant AD Piper DSC** RNR), on her working up patrol off the south of France, took a shot at very long range (8500 yards) at a sizeable ship with four torpedoes off Cape Antibes. Not surprisingly, she missed. Sportsman (Lieutenant R Gatehouse DSC RN), in the Gulf of Genoa, spent some time trying to land two reluctant agents on the coast of Italy and was unsuccessful in trying to blow up the coastal railway near Bordighera10. On 29th, however, off Portofino, she hit and sank Bolzaneto of 2220 tons with a single torpedo fired at 600 yards. Two days later, she engaged a convoy of lighters escorted by a motor launch, with her gun off Port Mauritzio. Her gun, however, jammed and shore batteries opened fire and she had to dive. Shakespeare, Simoom and Templar had blank patrols in June but Casabianca attacked three targets which all missed due to torpedo failure.

Parthian (Lieutenant CA Pardoe RNR) was diverted to patrol in the south western Aegean as her role in the Sicily landings was postponed. On 30th she attacked a small merchant ship with an escort off Suda Bay. She fired three torpedoes but they missed. Osiris (Lieutenant HS May RN) sank two caiques by gunfire in the Aegean and returned to Beirut by the end of the month. Trident (Lieutenant PE Newstead RN) sank a caique bound for Crete on 27th June and was still on patrol off Leros at the end of the month.

There was an intelligence mission, which, although it took place on the Home station, was intimately connected with the invasion of Sicily. This was a somewhat bizarre operation, the intention of which was to mislead the enemy into thinking that the next landing would be in the Balkans11. The body of a pauper from the Battersea morgue was attired as a major and taken in a sealed container by the submarine Seraph (Lieutenant NLA Jewell MBE RN) and dumped in the sea off the cost of Spain. It carried a 'secret' letter that 'gave away' the information. Seraph, returning to the Mediterranean in April after repairs in the United Kingdom, carried out this mission (Operation 'Mincemeat') successfully and it seemed to have had the desired effect.

During June, in spite of the fact that the Axis traffic to North Africa had ceased, sinkings by submarines were well up to the average achieved during the 'Third battle of the Convoys'. In thirty attacks firing 103 torpedoes, they sank the auxiliary minesweeper Tallio and eleven ships of 45,559 tons and also damaged a torpedo boat. Ten caiques were sunk by gunfire and another two small vessels damaged by the same means.

Many of these ships were no doubt sunk on their way to Sicily. No figures are available to show the exact effect, but we can take it that a proportion of the war supplies for the island did not get through. No substantial Axis reinforcements arrived in Sicily but this was not due to the submarine or air operations, but was because they were not sent. The Axis high command were uncertain where the Allies were going to strike and opinion was divided as to whether it would be Sicily, Sardinia or in Greece or Crete, or even the Dodecanese. It is certain, however, that the overall shipping available to the Axis in the Mediterranean continued to decline during the month. These excellent results during June were achieved when HM The King visited the Mediterranean. He was in Algiers on 12th and arrived at Malta during the 20th and all hands were heartened by his visit.

ON 10TH JULY, THE ALLIES LANDED IN SICILY. This was the largest amphibious operation ever undertaken and involved nine army divisions assembled from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom as well as from North Africa and the Middle East. The main strength of the Allied submarines in the Mediterranean was deployed in support12 and was used for five different purposes. The first duty of submarines in Operation 'Husky', as the invasion of Sicily was named, had been beach reconnaissance and this had been completed in the four months before the landings took place and these sorties have already been referred to in the narrative. Beach reconnaissance operations have already been described to a certain extent but it is of interest to follow one of these sorties again. The submarine would approach the beach to be surveyed on the surface at night and would dive about ten miles out before it got light. The beach would be closed submerged at periscope depth as close as the depth of water allowed13.A thorough periscope reconnaissance of the beach and immediate hinterland would then be made to note navigational marks and to sketch the appearance of the coastline and to look for guns and other defences. This could take all day. After dark the submarine would surface fairly close in and launch the folbots, which would then paddle inshore. The submarine would then withdraw to seawards to charge her batteries on the surface. The COPP in the folbots14 would land, and while the sailors would measure the beach gradient and look out for sandbars, underwater beach defences and mines, the soldiers would measure the softness of the beach and look for exits and land defences such as pill-boxes. This would take most of the night, but before dawn the submarine would return and pick up the party in its folbots. Before dawn too the submarine would dive and during the day the results of the survey would be collated and written up. The process would be repeated until the survey was complete when the submarine would return to base. It has already been noted that in Operation 'Husky' these COPP reconnaissances were made in time for the planning stage so that the best places to land could be chosen. There was also time to send in additional reconnaissances when more information on certain areas was found to be desirable. It was, of course, of extreme importance that secrecy should be observed. The submarines, therefore, were not allowed to attack any targets while on these missions and the COPP parties were well drilled with convincing cover stories should they be captured. It has already been told how chariots were, on occasion, used instead of folbots. These had the advantage that they were propelled by electric motors and could also approach submerged. They had the disadvantage, however, that the driver had to be a charioteer and was not trained in COPP work and the passenger was COPP trained but knew little about a chariot. In all, eight submarines, all but one from the Tenth Flotilla, were used for these beach reconnaissances15 and between them they made nineteen sorties from the end of February to the end of June. The official historian has described these missions as a 'very skilful and dangerous service' in which eleven officers and four men of the COPPs were lost by mid March. The number of folbots that failed to return does not seem to have given the enemy any information. Sufficient and accurate information was obtained about twenty-six beaches where the landings took place, especially in the moonless period at the end of May and beginning of June, and the submarines concerned and the COPPs were congratulated by C-in-C Mediterranean in his report of Operation 'Husky'.

The second role of submarines in the Sicilian landings was to act as beacons to lead the various forces in to the beaches. These operations were akin to the beach reconnaissances and were generally carried out by the same submarines. The beacon submarines sailed several days before D-day in time to fix their positions accurately when submerged in daylight before the landings. On the night of 8th/9th July they closed in and laid FH830 buoys to mark the actual beaches and retired to seawards again16. The next night, 9th/10th July, the submarines closed the coast again and launched folbots with advanced landing parties who would signal the landing craft in to the beaches by lights. The submarines then withdrew five to seven miles to seaward and stopped in the release position where the transports would lower their landing craft. To ensure that they did not drift out of position, the submarines would lie on the bottom until 0400 on D-day 10th July. On surfacing, using radio beacons and infra-red lanterns they would make contact with motor launches or other small warships sent out ahead of the amphibious forces and equipped to receive them. As soon as the transports had arrived in the release position the submarines would withdraw altogether to leave the area free for unrestricted antisubmarine operations. In all, seven beacon submarines were used in Operation 'Husky'. Safari, Shakespeare and Seraph from Algiers led in the three American amphibious forces of the Western Naval Task Force, and Unrivalled, Unison, Unseen and Unruffled from Malta led in the four British amphibious forces of the Eastern Naval Task Force.

Safari (Lieutenant RB Lakin DSO DSC RN) made contact with the US destroyer Bristol of Joss Force (TF86) successfully and the landing of the US Army's Third Division at Licata went ahead exactly as planned. Safari however, when withdrawing escorted by the American PC543, was dive-bombed by enemy aircraft but fortunately, thanks mainly to the anti-aircraft fire of the PC, escaped damage. Shakespeare (Lieutenant MFR Ainslie DSC RN) off Gela also made contact with Dime Force (TF81) landing the First US Infantry Division although some units were late and the operation was not quite as neat as at Licata. Seraph (Lieutenant NLA Jewell MBE RN) was picked up by the US destroyer Tillman on radar and Dime Force (TF85), landing the US 45th Division at Scoglitti, found its beaches without difficulty, although the landings were not made without some confusion. Safari, Shakespeare and Seraph were all safely in Malta by the evening of 10th July.

Unrivalled (Lieutenant HB Turner RN) successfully pointed the way for V Force landing the First Canadian Division west of Cape Passaro, although two battalions crossed over and landed on the wrong side of each other. Unison (Lieutenant AR Daniell DSC RN) and Unseen (Lieutenant MLC Crawford DSC RN) were positioned to lead in the two parts of Force B landing the British 51st Division and 231 Brigade on each side of Cape Passaro. The 51st Division landed at the right time and in the right place, as did 231 Brigade in spite of the fact that one of Unseen's folbots was lost in the rough sea. Further north, Force A with the 5th and 50th Divisions in the Avola area, had greater difficulties and many of the troops ended up on the wrong beaches at the wrong time, fortunately without serious consequences. This was due partly to the delay in rough weather of the leading motor launches and partly to errors of navigation after the landing craft had left the release positions and not because Unruffled (Lieutenant JS Stevens DSO DSC RN) was out of position. All the beacon submarines with the Eastern Naval Task Force were also back in Malta by the evening of D-day.

The third use of submarines in 'Husky' was to land commandos. The first operation was originally planned for the large but elderly submarines Parthian and Osiris, and was to land commandos as part of the invasion17.They were to be landed in steel landing craft carried on the casings of the submarines18.As the plans progressed this operation was decreased in size and Osiris was released from participating. Parthian brought landing craft from the Middle East to Malta but on arrival there, the whole operation was cancelled, it is thought because it was taken over by airborne troops that had become available. Another such operation was, however, carried out. It consisted of several landings in Sardinia to divert attention from Sicily, and to make the enemy think that the main landings were to be made there. This was called Operation 'Hawthorn' and was carried out by the submarines Severn (Lieutenant Commander ANG Campbell RN) and Saracen (Lieutenant MGR Lumby DSO DSC RN) from Algiers. Saracen landed a base party on the east coast of Sardinia on the night of lst/2nd July while Severn sailed from Algiers on 27th June with three parties to land on the west coast of the island. She landed the parties successfully on the southwest and west coasts, but then broke down and could not land the third party on the northwest coast and had to return to Algiers. This party was later landed by parachute. Wireless contact was then lost with the base party and it was feared that they had been captured. Severn, after repairs to her engines, sailed again on 20th July to try to rescue what was left. On arrival off the embarkation beach, however, it was clear that the operation was compromised. She tried again the next night without success and then returned to Algiers.

The fourth use of submarines in Operation 'Husky' was to defend the landings from the main Italian surface fleet. Italy had seven capital ships in her Navy and although these had shown no offensive intentions during the landings in North Africa, it was believed that when an invasion of Italian soil took place, they would probably counter attack. Information about the Italian Fleet was good and was obtained by daily photographic reconnaissance flights. The three modern battleships, Roma, Italia (ex Littorio) and Vittorio Veneto were at La Spezia with five cruisers and eight destroyers. They had recently been attacked by RAF Bomber Command from the United Kingdom in what was known as a shuttle attack, whereby the aircraft went on to North Africa, and Italia had had a turret put out of action. The two heavy cruisers had been bombed out of Maddalena by the US Air Force; Trieste being sunk and Gorizia damaged such that she had to retire to La Spezia for repair. Other lighter forces were at Leghorn and Genoa. The elderly but modernised battleships Duilio and Doria, with one cruiser and only two destroyers, were at Taranto. Finally Cesare was at Pola in semi reserve status to save fuel. Cavour was still under repair at Trieste after the damage she had received at Taranto in 1940. Six battleships of the Royal Navy that were in the Mediterranean for Operation 'Husky' provided the main protection for the landings against these ships. They were divided into two forces; Nelson, Rodney, Warspite and Valiant were in the Ionian Sea; and the King George V and Howe were south of Sardinia, each, of course, with its proportion of escorting cruisers and destroyers. The fleet aircraft carriers Illustrious and Formidable were with the battleships in the Ionian Sea. In addition to the submarines used as beacons and for landing commandos, thirteen others were sent to patrol off the enemy bases and north of the Straits of Messina. Sibyl, Simoom, Saracen, Trespasser and Dolfijn of the Eighth Flotilla at Algiers were sent to form a patrol line south of La Spezia, Leghorn and Genoa between Corsica and the Italian mainland. Uproar, Unbroken, Unshaken, Dzik and Tactician (later replaced by United) of the Tenth Flotilla at Malta patrolled across the entrance to the Gulf of Taranto, while Unruly, Ultor and Sokol, also from Malta, patrolled north of the Straits of Messina. Reconnaissance by these submarines for the benefit of our battleships was, of course, important. Attack restrictions were also imposed. One salvo had to be retained for attacks on cruisers and above, while merchant ships of less than 4000 tons were not to be attacked at all. All these submarines were in position four to six days before the landings took place on 10th July.

In the event the Italian surface fleet did not intervene and left counter attacks to U-boats, E-boats and aircraft. The ships were undoubtedly short of fuel but it is strange that they could not scrape enough together for a sortie in such a desperate situation19.However they were also short of destroyers after the Tunisian campaign and were unable to obtain fighter protection or air reconnaissance from either the German or Italian air forces. It was, therefore, after considerable discussion in the enemy high command, decided to keep the fleet to counter attack any subsequent invasion of the Italian mainland.

The fifth duty of submarines during Operation 'Husky' was to try and prevent the reinforcement and re-supply of Sicily during the campaign. This role was not seriously undertaken until after the landings when the beacon submarines became available for this purpose. At the time of the landings there were four submarines on patrol that were not involved in Operation 'Husky', but these were all in the Aegean or Adriatic. The beacon submarines, as we have seen, all returned to Malta on D-day but Safari and Seraph were despatched to patrol off Sardinia almost at once and Unison and Unrivalled to the area north of Sicily. Five other submarines at Algiers and Gibraltar also became available: Templar was sent to the Gulf of Genoa, Torbay to the north Tyrrhenian Sea and Sickle to Corsica while the newly arrived Universal and Usurper were sent to do their working up patrols in the Gulf of Lions and west of Corsica. The covering force submarines were released from their attack restrictions in the Taranto and Messina areas on 12th July and in the North Tyrrhenian Sea on 13th July. The patrol lines were dispersed from Taranto on 17th, in the North Tyrrhenian on 19th and north of Messina on 21st, most of the submarines involved returning to base.

The thirteen submarines of the covering force that were subject to the torpedo fire restrictions already mentioned nevertheless saw some action both before and during the landings. On the northern patrol line south of Elba, Dolfijn (Luitenant ter zee 1e Kl HMLFE van Oostrom Soede) arrived in her position between Giglio Island and the mainland of Italy on 4th July. Almost at once she sighted a medium sized merchant ship escorted by an auxiliary anti-submarine vessel. The firing restrictions permitted her to attack and she fired two torpedoes at the close range of 400 yards hitting with one of them. The target, the Italian Sabbia of 5790 tons was towed in to Civita Vecchia on fire and sank and became a total loss. Later the same day, Dolfijn sank Adelia, an anti-submarine schooner of 165 tons by gunfire and demolition charge. Her patrol position was in water shallow enough to be mined and she made good use of the mine detection unit of her asdic set. Subsequent analysis shows that she crossed four lines of mines many times during her nine days on patrol. She saw nothing more, however, until the 13th at dusk when she sank the anti-aircraft schooner Stefano Galleano of 127 tons by gunfire. Trespasser (Lieutenant RM Favell RN), stationed west of Giglio Island, also fired torpedoes as soon as she arrived on 4th July. She sighted two small naval auxiliaries and after some manoeuvring fired two torpedoes at one of them from right astern at a range of 1700 yards and missed. On 11th July she approached a large merchant ship but was put deep by a trawler of her escort and hunted for one and a half hours. On 13th she sank the anti-submarine schooner Filippo by gunfire and next day she missed a large merchant ship leaving Bastia with four torpedoes, one of which had a gyro failure, at the very long range of 8000 yards. A destroyer was then sighted and passed within range but she did not fire as she had already expended six torpedoes and was required to keep a full salvo for heavy ships. Saracen (Lieutenant MGR Lumby DSO DSC RN), patrolling west of Monte Cristo, had already landed the military party in Sardinia as part of Operation Hawthorn as already told, and arrived in position on the patrol line on 5th July. The same evening she sighted a large German ship in ballast steering for Bastia and escorted by an armed auxiliary. It altered course eighty degrees for half an hour as though to avoid the submarine and Saracen was unable to get in a shot. Next morning, she sighted another ship heading for Bastia escorted by two landing craft with an aircraft overhead. She fired three torpedoes at 750 yards and obtained two hits on the Italian Tripoli of 1166 tons sinking her. On 10th July, Saracen sighted a destroyer coming straight towards her and dived deep at once. The destroyer, however, obtained echo contact and dropped in all 27 depth charges causing considerable damage. One periscope was flooded and the other damaged although it could still be used. A hatch was loosened and a high-pressure air bottle discharged itself. She dived involuntarily to 430 feet, which was well below her test depth. Fortunately the enemy then lost contact. Next day she met a merchant ship escorted by a small auxiliary vessel and fired three torpedoes at 1600 yards hitting and sinking the German Tell of 1350 tons. The escort dropped twelve depth charges and Saracen retired to 220 feet. After an hour she came to periscope depth but the enemy was only 600 yards away and dropped eight more charges that exploded quite close and undid much of the repair work made after the earlier counter attacks. Another 24 charges were dropped during the next four hours after which Saracen succeeded in shaking the enemy off and in reloading her torpedo tubes. She then withdrew southeast of Pianosa to make repairs and rest after this ordeal. Patrol was resumed on 13th and on 14th two ships passed out of range. She left patrol on 16th and was congratulated for her fortitude by Captain(S) Eight, Flag Officer(Submarines) and the Admiralty.

Simoom (Lieutenant GDN Milner DSC RN), the next submarine on the patrol line, sighted nothing but patrol craft until 13th July. Just after midnight she obtained radar contact with two ships at 8000 yards and began a surface attack. A serious error in drill six minutes later, however, led to the submarine diving involuntarily20. Mercifully nobody was drowned but the attack was spoilt. Four torpedoes were, however, got away at a range of 3000 yards after the enemy but missed. Next day Simoom sighted a salvage tug and engaged with her gun securing some hits before being forced to dive by an aircraft. Sibyl (Lieutenant EJD Turner DSO DSC RN), the westernmost submarine of the patrol line, landed an agent in southeast Corsica before taking up her position. On 5th July she attacked an escorted supply ship leaving Bastia but missed with four torpedoes at 5000 yards. On 6th she was sighted on the surface at night by an E-boat that attempted to get into position to torpedo her. Sibyl dived and the E-boat dropped six depth charges.

The three submarines north of Messina left Malta in the evening of 1st July. Ultor (Lieutenant GE Hunt DSC RN), on the night of 8th, attacked a large southbound merchant vessel. She fired four torpedoes from the surface at close range and three of them hit the Italian Valfiorita of 6200 tons. Ultor dived at once and was counter attacked with thirty depth charges, which fortunately were not very close. Valfiorita sank next day. The torpedo restrictions now applied and Ultor had to reserve her last four torpedoes for heavy ships. On 10th and 11th three separate U-boats passed her within 1000 yards and she had to let them go. Sokol (Kapitan GC Koziolkowski) also sighted a U-boat but was unable to obtain a firing position. Unruly (Lieutenant JP Fyfe RN) sighted a southbound Italian U-boat on 11th July, but she passed out of range. Later, however, she fired four torpedoes at a southbound German U-boat at 3000 yards on a rather late track and she missed. Next day two southbound German U-boats passed within 1000 yards but the torpedo firing restrictions meant that she could not engage. On 13th July, however, the firing restrictions had been lifted when she sighted an Italian U-boat. She got away four torpedoes at 3500 yards. Unruly was unable to observe the result as she lost trim and the periscope dipped but had in fact hit and sunk Acciaio. Next day she sighted yet another U-boat but had no torpedoes left. The three submarines north of Messina therefore sighted no less than ten U-boats in a period of four days. Two were out of range, and the firing restrictions permitted only two of the remaining boats to be engaged, one of which escaped but the other was sunk. These U-boats were the Axis Navies' response to the invasion of Sicily and were on their way to attack the amphibious forces. If no torpedo firing restrictions had been imposed probably two more U-boats would have been sunk, but at the time it was expected that the Italian battlefleet would sortie at any moment. As a result two British cruisers supporting the landings, Newfoundland and Cleopatra, were torpedoed by U-boats. On 15th July, these three submarines were withdrawn. They had to make their way to Bizerta to pick up a surface escort or join a convoy to get them to Malta without being attacked by our own forces.

The five submarines of the Taranto patrol line had a much duller time. They sighted only a few patrol vessels. When the torpedo fire restrictions were lifted on 14th, Unshaken (Lieutenant J Whitton RN) fired two torpedoes at the largest of three anti-submarine schooners hitting Cesena of 105 tons with the first one causing her to disintegrate. It was now evident that the Italian battleships were not going to come out and the submarines were recalled on 14th and 15th July. Unshaken and Dzik (Kapitan BS Romanowski) were approaching Malta on the surface on 19th July in the early morning when Dzik sighted the periscope of a U-boat apparently attacking Unshaken. Dzik fired four torpedoes from the surface at a range of about 800 yards and set to a depth of 24 feet. The torpedoes missed, probably running over the U-boat but this quick thinking attack may well have saved Unshaken. This incident was probably connected with another the day before when Unshaken signalled to an unidentified submarine, which may well have been hostile.

The Sicilian campaign on land was rapid and successful for the Allies. Syracuse was taken on D-day and by 22nd July the Americans had overrun western Sicily and taken Palermo. The Axis forces then retired into the northeast corner of the island. The south and most of the north and east coasts of Sicily were now in Allied hands and submarine operations were moved to the Italian west coast and the Sardinian and Corsican areas as well as the south of France and Gulf of Genoa. From Malta, operations moved to east Calabria. The east coast of Sicily and the Straits of Messina, so long the places where submarine patrols had operated, were taken over by surface forces. Before describing the new patrols, however, the operations of submarines in the Adriatic and Aegean, which were not connected with the Sicilian campaign, must be dealt with.

WITH OUR ATTENTION CONCENTRATED on the North African, the Tunisian and the Sicilian campaigns, the Adriatic may seem to be an unimportant backwater. The Italians, however, had an army of some thirty divisions in the Balkans at this time and its supply involved considerable traffic by sea across the Adriatic and down the west coasts of Yugoslavia and Greece. We had not been able to give this route much attention for some time, and the Italians had transported 895,411 men and 1,387,537 tons of equipment and supplies over the years on this route with negligible loss21. Now with over forty Allied submarines in the Mediterranean we could afford to patrol this area. Trooper (now Lieutenant GSC Clarabut RN) sailed for the Adriatic from Port Said on 7th July. She had returned to the First Flotilla the patrol before and had been in Port Said to dock. On 14th July she fired three torpedoes at a range of 4000 yards at a small merchant ship and missed with all of them. She then surfaced and engaged with her gun setting the enemy on fire. Before she could complete her destruction, however, an aircraft appeared and she had to dive. On 22nd she sighted what she took to be a U-boat and started an attack. Fortunately she then recognised the target as a British T-class submarine and desisted. This was Tactician, just released from the patrol line off Taranto for a short patrol in the Adriatic on her way to Beirut. Four days earlier Tactician (Lieutenant Commander AF Collett DSC RN) had sighted an Italian U-boat escorted by a trawler entering Brindisi. She fired six torpedoes at a range of 4000 yards on a rather late track and missed. She then went on to Beirut leaving Trooper on her own. On 29th July, Trooper was also about to leave patrol when she saw the lighthouse at Santa Maria di Leuca switched on. She closed to investigate and sighted a large Italian U-boat. She fired six torpedoes at 4600 yards and in spite of one of them having a gyro failure and circling, she hit and sank the Italian submarine, Micca.

Early in July, the First Flotilla at Beirut was celebrating its reinforcement from the central Mediterranean by a minor offensive with five submarines in the Aegean. Osiris was about to return from what was her last operational patrol before being relegated to anti-submarine training duties and Parthian was also in the Aegean on her way to Malta. Trident (Lieutenant PE Newstead RN) off Rhodes on 1st July sighted a convoy at night but it altered course directly for her and she had to dive and let it go. Next day one of her upper deck torpedoes slipped out of its tube and she rammed it fortunately without damage. On the same day she sank three caiques by gunfire. On 4th July, just after midnight she sighted another convoy and fired three torpedoes at a range of 1300 yards hitting the Italian Vesta of 3351 tons. She was, however, only damaged and reached harbour.22 On 7th Trident contacted another convoy at night near the Doro Channel. She was forced to dive deep by one of the escorts but was later able to surface and pursue using her radar but an escort astern of the convoy, which was zigzagging, made matters difficult. Eventually she was able to fire six torpedoes at a range of 2500 yards although they were on a rather late track. No sooner had the torpedoes been fired, however, than the enemy altered course away and they all missed. Next day she surfaced to sink a caique by gunfire but it was a decoy and returned the fire and when Trident dived she was subjected to a counter attack with 50 depth charges.

Taurus (Lieutenant Commander MRG Wingfield DSO RN) was already in the Aegean at the beginning of July and was on patrol in the approaches to Volo. Early in the morning of 8th July she fired four torpedoes at a range of 1000 yards at a small escorted supply ship claiming two hits. The ship stopped and no counter attack developed but before Taurus could finish her off, the ship got under way again and escaped into harbour. She then sank two caiques by ramming and using demolition charges. Next day she fired two torpedoes into Kastro harbour on the island of Lemnos and sank four caiques alongside. She then opened fire with her gun and set a warehouse and other buildings on fire. Taurus then moved to Nea Plavia near Potidea in Euboea, a place where chrome is loaded into caiques. On 11th she fired a torpedo at the pier but it passed through its supports without exploding. Again she bombarded the place and in a nearby harbour hit a warehouse and sank a tug and no less than ten caiques.

Rorqual (Lieutenant Commander LW Napier DSO RN) was also in the Aegean at the beginning of July and on 2nd she laid mines off Kassandra Point in the Gulf of Salonika. Next day she laid another field off Cape Sepias north of Skiathos and then took up a patrol position off the Dardanelles. On 7th she sighted a convoy with an escort of destroyers. The escort was well handled and she missed the point of aim for the first ship. She was able, however, to fire four torpedoes at a range of 2700 yards at the German tanker Wilhelmsburg of 7020 tons obtaining two hits and sinking her. A sharp counter attack followed this success but Rorqual was undamaged. Before starting on her return passage to Beirut she bombarded the ironworks at Stratoni on Erissos.

WE MUST NOW TURN to the activities of the submarines that left for patrol after the landings in Sicily. United (Lieutenant JCY Roxburgh DSC RN) left Malta on 7th July to relieve Tactician on the Taranto patrol line and Torbay (Lieutenant RJ Clutterbuck RN) left Algiers on 11th to relieve Dolfijn on the patrol line in the north Tyrrhenian Sea. United sighted a southbound convoy out of range on 9th and next day took up her position off Taranto. On the evening of the 15th she sighted a large U-boat and fired four torpedoes at a range of 500 yards hitting with two of them and sinking the Italian submarine Remo, picking up four survivors. Remo was one of a new type of 2230 tons designed for cargo carrying and was on her way from Taranto to Naples. On 17th when the patrol line dispersed, United was ordered to a position inshore off Crotone. Here she sighted a Regolo-class cruiser but it passed out of range at 34 knots. Torbay arrived off Giglio Island on 17th and on that day sank the anti-submarine brigantine Pozzalo by gunfire. Next day she repeated this performance and sank another auxiliary anti-submarine vessel. On 19th July she fired four torpedoes at a merchant ship escorted by two torpedo boats at a range of 3500 yards but missed with all of them. On 23rd, however, she secured three hits out of a second salvo of four fired at a range of 1000 yards on the Italian Aderno of 2610 tons sinking her. The escorts made no counter attack.

The ex beacon submarines Safari and Seraph, as we have already noted, left Malta again on 15th July for the east coasts of Corsica and Sardinia. Seraph (Lieutenant NLA Jewell MBE RN) saw little but Safari (Lieutenant RB Lakin DSO DSC RN) was very active. On 18th July she sank the motor minesweeper Amalia by gunfire off Cape Comino. Next day she fired a torpedo at a range of 1100 yards at barges and an auxiliary in Favone Cove but it did not hit anything so she surfaced and sank two 200ton barges, which were German, by gunfire. On 20th she fired two torpedoes at a range of 600 yards and sank a 1000-ton anti-submarine yacht off Aciago Point in Corsica and was narrowly missed by debris as she blew up. On 22nd she sighted the small Italian minelayer Durazzo on passage from Maddalena to Bastia and surfaced and drove her ashore by gunfire. She then fired a single torpedo at 1800 yards, which hit and completed her destruction. On 25th Safari, five miles west of Elba, surfaced and engaged a schooner with her gun but an Italian anti-submarine trawler intervened and fire was shifted to her. She fired two torpedoes at 1200 yards during this action but they missed. The anti-submarine trawler was, however, eventually sunk by her gunfire. This battle took an hour and three landing craft, shore batteries and some transport aircraft joined in. Unfortunately a large liner that rounded Cape Enfola in Elba turned back and Safari, who had by this time submerged, was unable to attack her. Next day an escorted merchant ship appeared and three torpedoes were fired at her at close range estimated at 700 yards. Inexplicably the torpedoes missed probably because the range was actually less and they ran under. The escorts counter attacked but twenty minutes later she sighted a large tanker and a merchant ship escorted by two torpedo boats. She fired her last three torpedoes at a range of 2200 yards but again missed, this time probably because the speed was under-estimated. Safari expended all her torpedoes and nearly all her gun ammunition in this audacious patrol, which was her last before returning to the United Kingdom to refit.

Two more ex beacon submarines, Unison (Lieutenant AR Daniell DSC RN) and Unrivalled (Lieutenant HB Turner RN) left Malta on 17th July for areas north of Sicily. They rounded the western end of Sicily, which was now rapidly falling into Allied hands. They were joined by Unsparing (Lieutenant AD Piper DSC** RNR) from Algiers who had recently arrived in the Mediterranean and had just completed her working up patrol. With the enemy armies retreating into the northeastern corner of the island, Unison was sent north of Messina, Unrivalled to a position off Cape Vaticano and Unsparing to another east of the Lipari Islands. On 21st July all three submarines were ordered to intercept a southbound merchant ship reported by the RAF. Unison sighted her early on 22nd and fired four torpedoes at a range of 2000 yards but it seems the torpedoes were set too deep and ran under. Unrivalled also sighted the enemy but was unable to close within range but next day, early in the morning, she sighted a large tug and fired three torpedoes at a range of 850 yards. Due to a torpedo tube defect, she broke surface, the tug saw the torpedo tracks and took avoiding action. Later the same day, she sighted a German U-boat and fired four torpedoes at long range (4-5000 yards). The U-boat was zigzagging and altered course as the torpedoes were fired and so avoided them. On 24th July, Unrivalled sank the schooner Impero of 68 tons, taking off the crew first and capturing documents too. Next day a tug towing a schooner were both driven ashore by gunfire. This was probably San Francisco di Paola A of 102 tons23. Unsparing sighted a medium sized tanker on the night of 26th/27th July steering southeast and began a surface attack. One of the escorts, however, sighted Unsparing and forced her to dive and she was unable to fire her torpedoes. She then suffered a generator defect and had to withdraw to Malta.

By this time the Sicilian narrows, being full of Allied traffic, had become difficult for our submarines. Unison, Unrivalled and Unsparing were routed to Bizerta where they joined a convoy for onward passage to Malta. Even so, Unison when in convoy was fired on and hit by a 'friendly' tanker after dark. The Captain and two men were wounded and the Officer of the Watch was killed. The pressure hull was holed forward and Unison had to return to Bizerta escorted by the Polish destroyer Slovak. She arrived under the command of her First Lieutenant, the wounded were landed and repairs undertaken.

Two other submarines at Algiers became available for patrol, Sickle (Lieutenant JR Drummond DSC RN) on 12th and Templar (Lieutenant DJ Beckley DSO RN) on 13th July. Sickle was intended as a relief on the northern patrol line but by the time she arrived it had been dispersed. On 17th off Bastia she attacked a convoy firing three torpedoes at close range (500 yards) but the first torpedo was fired prematurely and the other two probably ran under. Next day off Gorgona Island she sank the tug Constante Neri of 100 tons and the motor schooner Rosa Madre of 39 tons with her gun. On 19th the schooner Angiola Maria C of 63 tons sighted Sickle's periscope while she was being examined by her and without more ado, abandoned ship. Sickle surfaced and boarded her and after taking documents and other useful articles, sank her. When northwest of Elba on 21st she fired four torpedoes at a large armed merchant ship eastbound and escorted. The range was 1600 yards and she obtained one hit. A destroyer of the escort made a counter attack and then took the ship in tow. Three hours later, tugs had arrived but Sickle was able to fire another two torpedoes at 2500 yards but one ran crooked and the other missed. A final parting shot at 3400 yards with a single torpedo secured another hit but still the ship did not sink. She was last seen under attack by the RAF. On 22nd July, Sickle encountered a large merchant ship escorted by an auxiliary anti-submarine vessel and fired her last two torpedoes at a range of 1600 yards. The target, however, altered course away and they missed.

Templar, on her way to the Gulf of Genoa met a southbound German U-boat off Corsica on 21st. The U-boat was zigzagging frequently and was a most difficult target. Templar got one torpedo away at a range of 600 yards but the enemy then altered course away. Four torpedoes were fired on the next leg at 1300 yards but another zig away caused all to miss. A final pair of torpedoes was fired at 3000 yards from right astern but these were a forlorn hope and missed too. This was Templar's only excitement on this patrol. Sportsman (Lieutenant R Gatehouse DSC RN) left Algiers on 23rd July to patrol east of Corsica but everything she sighted was out of range.

The newly arrived Universal (Lieutenant C Gordon RN) and Usurper (Lieutenant DRO Mott DSC RN) were sent on their working up patrols to the Gulf of Lions and to a position west of Corsica. Both submarines were warned to keep outside the 100-fathom line because of the danger of mines. On 27th, Usurper, off Ajaccio, fired two torpedoes at a range of 2400 yards at the French Chateau Yquem of 2535 tons and hit and sank her. She was counter attacked by the escort and suffered minor damage. Next day she met a passenger ship leaving Ajaccio and fired four torpedoes at very long range (9000 yards) and it is not surprising that this time she missed. Universal's only excitement was a night encounter off Toulon on 28th in which she dived and this may have been a U-boat. On 28th, Unbroken sailed for the United Kingdom. In her tour in the Mediterranean under two Commanding Officers, she had damaged two cruisers and sunk 15,000 tons of shipping. The only other patrols during July were by the French Casabianca (Capitaine de Fregate L'Herminier) and Orphee (Lieutenant de Vaisseau Dupont). Casabianca landed stores for the resistance in Corsica and Orphee patrolled off the Italian coast near Anzio. A special operation failed due to enemy vigilance and she saw no targets.

On 25th July, Mussolini fell from power by a vote of the Fascist Grand Council and was arrested. This greatly increased the energy with which the planning of the invasion of the Italian mainland was carried out24. Shakespeare (Lieutenant MFR Ainslie DSC RN) left Malta on 25th July to make a special reconnaissance in the Gulf of Gioja with a view to a landing. No restrictions seem to have been imposed and on 29th she attacked an escorted supply ship. The escort, however, frustrated her attack and forced her deep. Folbot reconnaissances were made on a number of nights before returning with her intelligence to Algiers. Unseen (Lieutenant MLC Crawford DSC* RN) was also despatched on 30th July to reconnoitre the area on either side of Cape Rizzuto, south of Crotone, where landings were also being considered.

DURING JULY, ALLIED SUBMARINES made thirty-nine attacks firing 135 torpedoes sinking the Italian U-boats Acciaio, Remo and Micca, the minelayer Durazzo, the anti-submarine schooner Cesena and seven merchant ships of 26,670 tons and damaging four others of over 14,000 tons. In addition they sank by gunfire eight minor or auxiliary war vessels, three tugs and twenty-five schooners, caiques or barges. During July, therefore, the Allied submarines in the Mediterranean not only played a very useful part in the landings in Sicily in several ways, but were also able to keep up their general attack on Axis shipping wherever it could be found. This was greatly to the satisfaction of the submarine branch of the Royal Navy who can undoubtedly be seen to have the mentality of corsairs and to regard any operation that is likely to distract or divert them from sinking enemy shipping as highly undesirable. In this they were probably right up to the time of the surrender in Tunisia when the Axis campaign in North Africa depended entirely on sea communications.

Now, with an amphibious offensive against Italy in progress, the situation had greatly changed and support for the landings was probably more important. Beach reconnaissance in Sicily proved of exceptional value both for the planning and execution of the landings and without it there might well have been serious reverses. The beacon operations by submarines were also important and it can be seen from the landing of the British Force A that much could go wrong even when they were used. Nevertheless the introduction of centimetric radar and the planned position indicator in ships had much improved the chances of finding the right places to land without using beacon submarines. Submarines were certainly available for landing commandos if the plans required it. The disaster to the airborne assault at Primosole Bridge in itself shows that perhaps submarine landings would have been more successful. The covering of the landings against attack by the Italian Fleet was a very proper use of submarines. That it was not put to the test was because the Italian Navy did not choose to come out. In the event the large number of Italian and German U-boats proved a greater menace than the battleships, but the torpedo attack restrictions placed on our submarines undoubtedly decreased their effectiveness against them. The fact that we only deployed twenty-three submarines of a total strength of over forty is surprising and a plan to place submarines at sea ready to relieve those that had expended their torpedoes would have had great advantages.

It is also curious that of the thirteen submarines deployed against the Italian Fleet, only two were of the powerful T-class. At the time there were seven T-class submarines in the Mediterranean and with their bow salvoes of eight or ten torpedoes they were capable of sinking a modern battleship. The U-class with a salvo of four torpedoes were really only able to inflict damage on even the older battleships. As it was, however, the long endurance and perhaps the heavier gun armament and higher speed of the T-class were allowed to dictate their deployment and we find them chasing caiques in the Aegean rather than blockading battleships in their bases, the function for which the T-class had been designed.

The fifth way in which submarines were to assist the invasion of Sicily was to prevent the reinforcement and re-supply of the island. In this the submarines did not achieve much. Some of the ships they sank were no doubt bound for Sicily but two German Divisions in fact reinforced the island soon after the landings had taken place. One of these was flown in and the other crossed in ferries by the Straits of Messina. The Messina narrows were considered by our submarines to be heavily defended and as difficult to penetrate as an enemy naval base. Furthermore the current ran at six knots. Any attempt to patrol in this area was believed to be suicidal. The submarines were in good company; both the surface and air forces felt the same way about the dangers. In fact the Axis armies in Sicily did not require many supplies as they were falling back rapidly and, in army parlance, 'eating down stocks'. Our submarine dispositions for the second half of the month were therefore made to continue a general attack on Axis shipping in the Mediterranean. This, however, in spite of the fact that Italy had a large army in the Balkans mainly dependent on sea communications, was of far less importance than early in the year. Italy was now likely to be defeated by invasion and not by depriving her of her sea communications.

The writing was on the wall for the British submarine campaign in the Mediterranean. During July the submarines Trident and Osiris sailed for the Far East, Trident for operations with the Fourth Flotilla and Osiris for antisubmarine training duties with the Eastern Fleet at Kilindini. At the end of July, the Admiralty ordered C-in-C Mediterranean to send six more long-range submarines to the Far East and he nominated Severn, Tactician, Templar, Taurus, Trespasser and Tally Ho.

AT THE BEGINNING OF AUGUST, the Axis armies had been driven into the northeast corner of Sicily. On 3rd August, General Alexander warned the naval and air commanders that an evacuation was imminent. There was also ample warning of this evacuation from the decryption of enemy signals. Nevertheless between 10th and 17th August, the Axis armies were withdrawn to the mainland with few casualties. They used Siebel ferries and landing craft as well as commercial ships and ferries with large numbers of anti-aircraft guns mounted on each shore and they used many different routes across the Straits. They had no fighter protection but succeeded brilliantly25.British motor torpedo boats made gallant efforts but British surface striking forces were used for raids in the southern Tyrrhenian at the time and our aircraft had very little success. Our submarines were not used to stop the evacuation at all for the reasons given earlier in this chapter. The American official naval historian25 is very critical of the failure to interfere with the evacuation, but it is of interest that even he does not suggest that submarines should have been used.

In August our submarines ceased to have any part in the Sicilian campaign: they were used to a certain extent for reconnaissance for the various planned landings on the mainland of Italy but almost entirely to continue the general campaign against Axis shipping throughout the Mediterranean. The Eighth Flotilla's boats from Algiers continued to operate off southern France, in the Gulfs of Lions and Genoa and off Corsica and Sardinia as well as in the northern Tyrrhenian Sea. The area north of Messina and along the north coast of Sicily had now been taken over by surface ships. The Tenth Flotilla at Malta did a few patrols off Calabria and in the Gulf of Taranto but it too moved farther afield to the Adriatic; off Bari, Brindisi, Valona and Durazzo. Meanwhile the First Flotilla at Beirut continued its offensive in the Aegean. Although our submarines always watched for the Italian surface forces out of the corner of their eye, so to speak, they were not at this stage deployed to intercept them and the general campaign against shipping was their main interest. However the Gulf of Genoa was still where the main Italian Fleet was to be found, the battlefleet in La Spezia with lighter forces at Leghorn and Genoa. The second and smaller Italian battlefleet was still in Taranto and the battleship Cesare was still at Pola. The lower Adriatic was still where the Italian supply line to their considerable army in the Balkans passed, which was now their most important overseas commitment.

On 1st August, there were seventeen Allied submarines at sea in the Mediterranean but only nine of them were actually on patrol. Shakespeare and Unseen were busy with beach reconnaissance for landings on the mainland of Italy in the Gulf of Gioja and on either side of Cape Rizzuto. Sportsman and the French submarines Casabianca and Orphee were off Corsica and the Italian coast at Anzio. Parthian, Unruffled and Uproar were in the southern Adriatic, the two U-class being off Brindisi and Bari. Rorqual was entering the Aegean on a minelaying mission. Of the other submarines at sea, Templar, Trooper and Seraph were about to enter their bases on return from patrol and Usurper had just completed her working up patrol and had started back. Unison, Unrivalled and Unsparing were being escorted from Bizerta to Malta and Unbroken was on her way home to the United Kingdom.

Early in the month there was considerable enemy activity and units of the Italian Fleet were sighted on three occasions that will be noted chronologically in their place. Unruffled (Lieutenant JS Stevens DSO DSC RN) initially ordered to the Gulf of Taranto, had her patrol position changed to the southern Adriatic off Brindisi. On 1st August she sighted a three funnelled liner leaving the port unescorted and on a steady course. The attack on this simple target failed, however, because the director angle was missed. A single torpedo fired from right astern in exasperation also failed to score a hit. Two days later, however, the same ship returned again steering a steady course but with a corvette as escort. No mistake was made this time and of the four torpedoes fired at a range of 1200 yards, three hit sinking the Italian Citta di Catania that was, however, only of 3355 tons. On 4th August, Unseen (Lieutenant MLC Crawford DSC* RN) on beach reconnaissance near Cape Rizzuto, sighted a Regolo-class cruiser escorted by two destroyers. In the early morning half-light she fired four torpedoes at a range of 3500 yards but failed to secure a hit. The torpedoes were set to 14 feet and it is possible that they ran under. These ships had been engaged in a minelaying operation and subsequently Unseen was able to establish the position of the field by the use of the mine detection unit of her asdic set. On 6th August, Shakespeare (Lieutenant MFR Ainslie DSC RN), returning to Algiers from her beach reconnaissance in the Gulf of Gioja, sighted two Italian light cruisers escorted by destroyers northwest of Ustica. She was only able to get away three torpedoes at long range (5-6000 yards) on a late track and consequently missed. Also on 6th August, Uproar (Lieutenant LE Herrick DSC RN), on patrol off Bari, detected two ships after dark by her recently fitted radar, as they were leaving harbour. She closed on the surface to 600 yards and fired three torpedoes, the first of which was seen to hit. The passenger ship Brindisi of 1975 tons sank but an escorting destroyer was close and Uproar had to dive without seeing the result of her attack. Both Unruffled and Uproar then developed generator trouble and had to return to Malta for repairs.

Next day, in the Aegean, Rorqual (Lieutenant Commander LW Napier DSO RN), off the Dardanelles attacked a convoy with four torpedoes fired at 4000 yards hitting and sinking the German Nantaise of 1800 tons. Rorqual had already, on 5th and 6th, laid minefields in the Gulf of Salonika and southeast of Lemnos. Simoom (Lieutenant GDN Milner DSC RN), who had left Algiers on 4th August to patrol in the Gulf of Genoa, sighted an escorted merchant ship off Bastia and fired three torpedoes at 2000 yards but missed with all of them. On 9th, however, she sighted much bigger game when the Italian light cruisers Garibaldi and Aosta appeared escorted by three destroyers. She fired a full salvo of six torpedoes at 4000 yards but Garibaldi sighted the tracks and was able to avoid the torpedoes. The destroyer Gioberti, however, was not so lucky and was hit aft and sank very quickly. A slight counter attack followed and Simoom's stern torpedo tube was damaged. These two cruisers were on passage from La Spezia to Genoa.

Unshaken (Lieutenant J Whitton RN) left Malta on 3rd August for patrol off Brindisi. Saracen (Lieutenant MGR Lumby DSO DSC RN), after sinking a burning ammunition ship off Algiers while exercising on 4th August, left to patrol in the Corsica area on 7th. On 10th, Unshaken, on arrival off Brindisi, sighted a large ship approaching from the south. She fired four torpedoes at a range of 6000 yards hitting with one of them. Next day the same ship was seen beached to the east of Brindisi and while Unshaken was closing to finish her off, she was seen to capsize and sink. This ship was the naval transport Admara of 6850 tons. The escort then made a mild counter attack. On 13th, in the middle of the night in the Straits of Otranto, Unshaken sighted a U-boat and fired four torpedoes at 800 yards in moonlight, but the U-boat, which was U453, saw the tracks and turned to comb them. Unshaken set off in pursuit on the surface but was too slow to overtake the enemy.

During the evacuation of the Axis armies from Sicily between the 10th and 17th August, there were no Allied submarines closer than the north Tyrrhenian Sea and the southern Adriatic and in these areas they continued their wan of attrition on enemy shipping. Parthian (Lieutenant CA Pardoe RNR), who had been on patrol in the southern Adriatic since she left Malta on 22nd July, was ordered to Beirut on 10th August. She never arrived and is believed to have struck a mine in the Adriatic sometime in early August. She was lost with all hands including her Commanding Officer, three other officers and sixty men of hen ship's company. Saracen was on patrol off Bastia on 14th and it seems that the enemy suspected her presence. The asdic fitted corvettes Minerva and Euterpe sailed soon after midnight and obtained contact with Saracen soon afterwards and dropped 28 depth charges. She sustained severe damage aft and was forced to the surface. She abandoned ship and successfully scuttled herself. 41 of her ship's company out of 43 were picked up by the Italians including her Commanding Officer, Lieutenant MGR Lumby DSO DSC RN, and made prisoners of war. The loss of this successful submarine was a serious blow, coming so soon after the loss of Parthian and on her last patrol before returning to the United Kingdom26.

The French submarine La Sultane (Lieutenant de Vaisseau Bourdin) sailed on 12th August to patrol in the Gulf of Genoa and east of Corsica and she was hunted by E-boats off La Spezia and kept down for a considerable period until her battery was very low. She succeeded, however, in shaking off her pursuers and withdrew to the westwards and returned to Algiers safely. Unruly (Lieutenant JP Fyfe RN) relieved Unshaken off Brindisi and on the forenoon of 15th August sighted a southbound tanker in ballast escorted by two corvettes and an old destroyer. She fired four torpedoes at a range of 1300 yards and hit with two of them. The target beached herself close off Brindisi. Unruly withdrew to the northeast to shake off the escorts and to reload. In the afternoon she sighted a large convoy of eight ships forming up and got into position to fire four more torpedoes at the long range of 5200 yards. One hit was heard but the target was a tanker in ballast and she seems to have suffered little damage. Dzik (Kapitan BS Romanowski) was twenty-five miles to the northward and sighted the smoke. She had been off Bari for some time without success and eagerly closed in. She ran in on the surface in moonlight for three hours and made contact. She then submerged and fired four torpedoes at 1200 yards at a liner and a tanker at 600 yards, which were overlapping. One torpedo was seen to hit the tanker and other explosions were heard. Dzik was counter attacked with 22 depth charges. Sadly enemy records for this period do not confirm either ship as sunk although there is no doubt that the tanker was damaged. Sokol (Kapitan GC Koziolkowski) was also in the area, having left Malta on 11th August to relieve Dzik. She too saw the smoke of the convoy and closed to attack. She heard the explosion of Dzik's torpedoes and attempted to attack from submerged in the moonlight. She could see nothing through the periscope, however, and her attack failed. This was subsequently found to be due to the eclipse of the moon, which had also prevented Dzik from finishing off her quarry27. To add insult to injury, the convoy escort hunted Sokol for most of the night dropping 30 depth charges. She was in fact harassed by the local anti-submarine craft throughout her patrol. On 17th she had to break off an attack on a supply ship due to the alertness of two destroyers and an aircraft. Just before leaving the area, Sokol surfaced to sink a schooner by gunfire and sighted a U-boat. She dived again at once hoping the U-boat would give her an opportunity to attack but she did not. That night she was again harassed by E-boats but got back to Malta safely on 25th August.

FROM 4TH AUGUST ONWARDS, THE ITALIANS had been putting out clandestine peace feelers. Negotiations, carefully concealed from, though suspected by, the Germans, continued throughout the month. Consequently the Allies decided to land on the mainland of Italy as soon as possible. The plan, however, was changed from landings in the Gulf of Gioja and at Crotone to an amphibious crossing of the Straits of Messina followed by a landing at Salerno with the aim of capturing Naples. There was nothing that submarines could do to help with the crossing of the Straits and information about the topography and beaches at Salerno was already good. The Gulf of Salerno was, in any case, free of navigational dangers. It was, however, shallow enough to be mined and extensive minefields werebelieved to have been laid there. Shakespeare, (Lieutenant MFR Ainslie DSC RN), resting in Algiers after her reconnaissance of the Gulf of Gioja, was therefore despatched to investigate and sailed on the 24th August.

Shakespeare, using the mine detection unit of her asdic set, confirmed the existence of minefields in a reconnaissance lasting from 30th August to 1st September and plotted their positions. She also reconnoitred the beaches using folbots. The results were signalled back to Algiers and the landing plans were modified. The release positions for the transports were moved farther out and arrangements were made to sweep channels through the mine-fields. Shakespeare then remained in the area to lead in the amphibious forces for the landings scheduled for 9th September.

At the submarine base in Malta, there were several chariots, with their crews, left over from the operations carried out earlier in the year. As we have seen, some of these chariots were used to help with beach reconnaissance in Sicily. For these beach reconnaissances, they had been carried on chocks clamped down on the after casings of U-class submarines and this had proved satisfactory as long as the parent submarine did not dive below the chariot's maximum diving depth. In spite of the inactivity of the Italian battlefleet during the landings in Sicily, it was thought possible that they might still bestir themselves when a landing was made on the mainland of Italy. A plan was therefore produced to use two of the chariots to attack the battleships Doria and Duilio in Taranto. The submarines Ultor (Lieutenant GE Hunt DSC RN) and Unrivalled (Lieutenant HB Turner DSC RN) were selected to transport them and trials and exercises were carried out during August including a number of dummy attacks on the battleship Rodney in the Grand Harbour at Malta. On 24th August, Ultor and Unrivalled sailed from Malta, each with a chariot carried 'bare back', as it was called, on the after casing. They reached the Gulf of Taranto on 26th when, to the intense disappointment of the chariot crews, the operation was cancelled by C-in-C Mediterranean. The secret negotiations with the Italians had now reached a point where it was expected that the Italian battlefleet would be surrendered to the Allies and that this would happen at the same time as the landings at Salerno on 9th September. Unrivalled was ordered to return to Malta and Ultor to carry out a plan to make the enemy believe that a landing would still take place in the Crotone area. This involved planting two folbots and laying a buoy. On 28th, off Alice Point, however, Ultor sighted a destroyer ashore with her bows aground and stern afloat. Attempts were in progress to refloat her by digging out the bow. Ultor closed and fired a torpedo from 900 yards that hit and sank the torpedo boat, which was Lince28.Two E-boats then appeared but she was able to evade them and lay her buoy and plant her folbots. For good measure she jettisoned a sailor's cap before returning to Malta.

For the last ten days of August submarine attacks on Axis shipping continued while preparations for the landings on the mainland of Italy were being rushed ahead. The three flotillas acted independently in their own areas. The Eighth Flotilla at Algiers sent Sickle, Sibyl, Seraph, Sportsman and the French Arethuse to the northern Tyrrhenian Sea, Corsica and the south of France and they were joined by the newly arrived Universal and Tally Ho on their working up patrols. The Tenth Flotilla at Malta sent United, Unseen, Unruffled, Unsparing, Unshaken and Unruly to the Gulf of Taranto and the lower Adriatic and the First Flotilla at Beirut despatched Torbay, Tactician, Trooper, Taurus and Trespasser to the Aegean. On 20th August, Tally Ho (Lieutenant LWA Bennington DSO DSC RN), working up in the western Mediterranean, fired two torpedoes at a small merchant ship escorted by E-boats at a range of 3500 yards without result. She had another chance two days later on a ship of the same size firing three torpedoes at 2300 yards but again without success. Sickle (Lieutenant JR Drummond DSO DSC RN), however, on 28th south of Pianosa fired four torpedoes at a ship in convoy at a range of 800 yards obtaining two hits and sinking the German Felix Henri of 2525 tons (an escort 5Gb). Sibyl (Lieutenant EJD Turner DSO DSC RN), Seraph (Lieutenant NLA Jewell MBE RN) and Arethuse (Lieutenant de Vaisseau Gouttier) all landed agents either in Corsica on the south of France in this period. United (Lieutenant JCY Roxburgh DSC RN) made the last patrol in the Gulf of Taranto hoping to catch Italian cruisers which might sortie to lay mines, but she saw nothing. This was her last patrol before returning to the United Kingdom to refit. She decided not to enter waters that might have been mined to finish off an Italian destroyer that was aground inside the 50-fathom line29.Her patrol was therefore blank.

Unseen (Lieutenant MLC Crawford DSC* RN) off Bari fired three torpedoes on 24th at a small ship at 1500 yards without result except that she was counter attacked by the escort. She claimed a hit and that the torpedo, which was a Mark VIII with a Mark IV warhead, failed to explode. On 27th, after crossing to the Albanian coast, she succeeded in sinking the Italian Rastrello of 985 tons with one torpedo out of four fired at 1500 yards. She was subjected to a counter attack of two depth charges and then the escort made off. She was able to surface and take on board four survivors from a raft, which she left with another eight men on board as it had been seen by an Italian flying boat that would presumably arrange a rescue. On 28th before setting course for Malta, Unseen sank the schooner Fabiola of 103 tons off Valona by demolition charge and was then forced to dive by shore batteries.

Unruffled (Lieutenant JS Stevens DSO DSC RN) landed Greek officers in Cephalonia on her way to Brindisi, where on arrival on 27th she sank Citta di Spezia of 2475 tons, obtaining three hits out of four torpedoes fired at 400 yards. Unsparing (Lieutenant AD Piper DSC** RNR) on her way to Bari sighted a submarine which she fortunately did not attack as it proved to be the Unrivalled. On 31st she sighted one target out of range and another in such calm weather that she considered the enemy would be bound to see the torpedo tracks and so withheld her fire. Next day, however, she fired two torpedoes at 2200 yards at the Italian naval water carrier Flegetonte of 1182 tons and sank her.

The First Flotilla's 'offensive' in the Aegean was singularly devoid of results. Five powerful T-class submarines carried a total of 85 torpedoes around that sea without finding an opportunity to fire any of them before the end of August. Taurus (Lieutenant Commander MRG Wingfield DSO RN) left Beirut on 9th August and landed two agents before going on to the Dardanelles. On 22nd she attacked a well-escorted convoy but got too close and while diving deep was run down and both her periscopes were damaged. Trooper (again Lieutenant JS Wraith DSO DSC RN) was sent to interfere with the traffic between Piraeus and Rhodes. She saw no targets but bombarded a tannery at Kanlovassi on 30th. Tactician (Lieutenant Commander AF Collett DSC RN) also carried out a special operation before going on to the Dardanelles. She saw two convoys but both were too far away to attack. Torbay (Lieutenant RJ Clutterbuck RN) left Malta on 25th August and entered the Aegean by the Andikithera Channel. She detected mines on her mine detection unit and dived deep to pass underneath them29.She found no targets west of Santorin and shifted her patrol to the north of Kos. Here on 31st August she sank a 40-ton caique by gunfire.

During August, therefore, submarines sank the destroyer Gioberti and the torpedo boat Lince and eight ships of 21,145 tons and damaged another two of 10,000 tons. This was in spite of the number of attacks falling to twenty-two with only 71 torpedoes expended. At the same time they had sunk two small craft of 143 tons by gunfire, had landed six agents as well as making Shakespeare's beach reconnaissance and Ultor's dummy beach reconnaissance.

ON 3RD SEPTEMBER, THE EIGHTH ARMY, after a short but heavy bombardment, crossed the Straits of Messina and landed with little opposition. They then advanced rapidly up the 'toe' of Italy. From 5th September onwards, the various amphibious forces sailed from North African ports between Oran and Tripoli for the landing at Salerno, code-named 'Avalanche' and scheduled to take place on 9th September. Negotiations for the Italian surrender were concluded in great secrecy on 3rd September but were not to be announced until the evening of the 8th, a few hours before the landings at Salerno.

During the first eight days of September, the Allied submarines continued their normal patrols against Axis shipping and, except for Shakespeare, without knowledge of the great events that were impending. The submarines, as in the latter part of August, were operating in three groups: in the northern Tyrrhenian Sea, in the southern Adriatic and in the Aegean. In the Tyrrhenian Sea area, Seraph (Lieutenant NLA Jewell MBE RN) was east of Corsica and on 2nd September she fired a torpedo at a range of 1900 yards at an escorted convoy but it was zigzagging sixty degrees every five minutes or so and she missed. Next day she fired three torpedoes at another convoy at a range of 3000 yards but one of her torpedoes hit the bottom close ahead and exploded and she missed again. She was counter attacked and although some depth charges were unpleasantly close she survived. On 5th she moved farther east and was here when the landings took place at Salerno. Sportsman (Lieutenant R Gatehouse DSC RN) was southeast of Elba from 2nd-5th when she moved to the approaches to Bastia and this was her position during the Salerno landings. On 4th, Universal (Lieutenant C Gordon RN), in the Gulf of Genoa, fired four torpedoes at a large tanker off Portofino at a range of 3500 yards but did not score a hit. Two days later she sank the antisubmarine schooners Iresorelli and Ugo by gunfire thirty miles southwest of La Spezia. Casabianca (Capitaine de Fregate L'Herminier) was out again and landed stores and embarked a member of the Corsican resistance from the island in the early days of the month.

Dzik (Kapitan BS Romanowski) left Malta on 1st September to patrol in the northern Adriatic off Pola but she developed defects that necessitated hen return to Malta where she arrived on 6th. In the southern Adriatic on 8th September, Unrivalled (Lieutenant HB Turner DSC RN) outside Bari missed a small Italian ship with three torpedoes at a range of 950 yards. She had already been prevented by torpedo boats of the escort when trying to attack an earlier convoy. Unruly (Lieutenant JP Fyfe RN) off Durazzo, missed a supply ship at 1050 yards with four torpedoes on 5th September and it seems likely that the torpedoes ran under. On the same day, Unshaken (Lieutenant J Whitton RN) met a large tanker with three escorts eastbound off Brindisi. She attacked through the screen, in spite of the presence of two seaplanes, and fired four torpedoes at a range of 2500 yards hitting with one of them. The tanker was however, able to get into Brindisi. The counter attack was light but Unshaken then altered her patrol to a position off Valona.

In the Aegean, on 2nd September at night, Torbay (Lieutenant RJ Clutterbuck RN) near Kos detected four small ships by radar. She fired a single torpedo at 1600 yards and missed. She then proceeded on the surface to intercept them at dawn, which she was successful in doing. She fired four torpedoes from submerged at a range of 1600 yards at the Italian Versilia of 591 tons, which was the largest in the convoy, hitting and sinking her. She blew up with a heavy explosion, which suggests that she was carrying ammunition. Torbay was mildly counter attacked. Two days later, she attempted a night attack on a ship, which had four escorts. She was unable to get into position as her maximum speed had fallen to 11.5 knots because her bottom was foul and she was in need of docking. She was then sighted by one of the escorts, was forced to dive and was counter attacked but without suffering any damage. On 7th she bombarded Amorgos at a place where bauxite was loaded. On her way back to Beirut she struck an uncharted shoal in the Scarpanto Channel giving another reason for a docking.

Trooper (Lieutenant JS Wraith DSO DSC RN), on 5th September, just before returning to Beirut, sank a schooner and left a tug on fire off Skiathos. Rorqual (Lieutenant Commander LW Napier DSO RN) laid mines in the Trikini channel to Volo on 9th September and a second field next day north of Skiathos. She laid a third field off Lemnos two days later. On 12th she bombarded the Stratoni ironworks in Enissos. She also fired a torpedo at the loading dock at a range of 7000 yards but it missed. When next day she attacked Kastro in Lemnos, she was forced to dive by shore batteries. Trespasser (Lieutenant RM Favell RN) had a very disappointing patrol in the southwest Aegean during September. On 3rd she fired four torpedoes in a night attack on a convoy at a range of 3200 yards without result. On 9th, again in a night attack, she fired three torpedoes at the close range of 600 yards but one of them ran under and the other two missed astern. Next day in a submerged attack she fired five torpedoes at a torpedo boat but at the long range of 4400 yards and missed. Finally on 12th in another submerged attack she fired two torpedoes at a merchant ship at a range of 3300 yards and these missed too. Trespasser returned to Beirut on 14th September having expended fourteen torpedoes without result.

Of the four Greek submarines at Beirut, only Katsonis (Ypoploiarkhos E Tsoukalas) was fit for operations. She sailed on 5th September to patrol in the Aegean and on 14th September she was sunk by ramming and depth charges by the German anti-submarine vessel UJ21O1 off Skiathos after attacking a convoy engaged in evacuating Italian prisoners of war from Rhodes.

Shakespeare had been waiting off Salerno for the invasion of the Italian mainland since early in the month. The amphibious forces rounded the west end of Sicily and approached across the Tyrrhenian Sea. They were sighted more than once by Axis reconnaissance aircraft, and eight Italian submarines were sent south from Naples to oppose them. Shakespeare was off Licosa Point on 7th September and sighted two southbound Italian U-boats just after dark and fired six torpedoes at a range of 800 yards, hitting and sinking Velella with several of them. She lost sight of the second U-boat but shortly afterwards heard a third one on her asdic set. She then withdrew to report that two U-boats were in the path of the amphibious forces approaching Salerno. On 8th when nearly in her beacon position she sighted another U-boat, this time northbound but refrained from attacking in case she should compromise the landings or be unable to act as a beacon. Navigation for the amphibious forces proved comparatively simple. It was a calm moonlit night and the Italian coast could be seen clearly. Furthermore the route was marked by a series of 'reference vessels' stationed along it and making light signals. Shakespeare off Point Licosa was the last of these and the American destroyer Cole, the leading ship of the amphibious force, contacted her on time. Buoys were laid and beach pilots transferred from Shakespeare to a PC Boat. Shakespeare was then escorted clear and returned to Algiers.

The Italian main fleet at La Spezia was clearly in a position to interfere with the Salerno landings. Although Seraph, Sportsman, Simoom, Dolfijn and Universal were on patrol between Corsica and the mainland of Italy, they were not given a formal organisation such as a patrol line to oppose them. The reason for this was that arrangements had been made in the Italian armistice for the Italian Fleet to sail and join the Allies as soon as it was announced. In case of treachery there was, in any case, a strong British battlefleet in the Tyrhennian Sea. The armistice was announced on the evening of 8th September by General Eisenhower and Marshal Badoglio and the Italian Fleet sailed from La Spezia in the early hours of 9th September.

Universal to the southward heard its propeller noises as it steamed at high speed to the west. It had been routed to the west of Corsica and Sardinia to keep it clear of our submarines and of the landings at Salerno30.The two Italian battleships at Taranto were also included in the armistice arrangements and sailed for Malta as Allied surface ships arrived carrying a British landing force. We had four submarines in this area, but all were in the southern Adriatic. Unrivalled was off Bari, Unruly off Dunazzo, Unshaken off Brindisi and Sokol had just arrived to relieve Unshaken.

In the period immediately after the armistice, Allied submarines were very busy. Seraph (Lieutenant NLA Jewell MBE RN), east of Corsica, sighted some Italian vessels on 9th but they were acting in accordance with the armistice terms. Next day, however, two landing craft and two 50 ton armed transport barges, which were not, were sunk by gunfire. Two R-boats got away when an aircraft forced Seraph to dive. On 11th she fired three torpedoes at a KT ship escorted by two E-boats and missed at a range of 1500 yards. Finally later on the same day, she hit a small ship with one torpedo out of a salvo of two on a late track at the long range of 5000 yards, which was a remarkable shot. However the target was only damaged and got away. Sportsman (Lieutenant R Gatehouse DSC RN) on 9th was off Bastia and joined in a gun action between the French and Italians against Germans making for the mainland. On her way back to Algiers when ninety miles west of the Straits of Bonifacio she picked up 44 survivors of the Italian destroyers Vivaldi and Da Noli which had been sunk by the Germans. On 13th, however, as she was approaching Algiers, Sportsman was attacked with seven depth charges by an over enthusiastic American Liberator aircraft in a total bombing restriction area. An officer was badly wounded and considerable damage was done. Universal (Lieutenant C Gordon RN) was ordered to return to Algiers by a route past Toulon on 9th and two days later when forty miles south of that place, she picked up four Italian naval ratings who had escaped in a yacht. Early on 10th September, Dolfijn (Luitenant ter zee le KI H van Oostrom Soede) twenty miles east of El Bastia, met the Italian U-boat Corridoni, who had escaped from Maddalena. She was short of fuel and was ordered by Dolfijn to go to Portofenraio in Elba for fuel and then proceed to Bone. Next day, Dolfijn sighted a large ship leaving Bastia for Italy. She fired four torpedoes at a range of 2000 yards and one of them hit the Italian Humanitas of 7980 tons and blew off her stern. Her escorting corvette then sank her. On 13th between La Spezia and Genoa, Dolfijn sank two 250-ton German barges by gunfire. While on her way home on 15th, she passed a ship aground in Cisinara Gulf and fired three torpedoes at a range of 1800 yards. None of them hit, one running crooked and the other two being caught in nets.

In the lower Adriatic, Unshaken (Lieutenant J Whitton RN) off Valona was ordered back to Malta. On 9th September she first heard and then sighted an Italian U-boat entering the Otranto Straits. She closed submerged and then surfaced and fired a round across her bows. The U-boat replied with a burst of machine gun fire. She then stopped and Unshaken went alongside. This was Menotti and Unshaken put a prize crew on board, took hostages and ordered her to accompany her to Malta. Next day a German aircraft was sighted but all was well and the pair reached Malta on 11th September.31

Unrivalled (Lieutenant HB Turner DSC RN) off Bari, boarded an Italian trawler on 10th September and sent an officer in her to contact the Senior Italian Officer in the port and then followed her in. The result of this contact, which was entirely due to Lieutenant Turner's initiative, was that eight Italian merchant ships were assembled off the port that evening and set off for Malta. Unruly (Lieutenant JP Fyfe RN), also on her way back to Malta, joined the convoy and succeeded in driving off an enemy aircraft with her gun, which attacked the convoy missing with its single bomb. The convoy arrived safely on 14th September.32 Sokol (Kapitan GC Koziolkowski), who had just arrived off Brindisi, was ordered to make contact with the Italian authorities to persuade them to send all available merchant ships over to the Allies. This he did on 10th meeting an Italian Admiral in the cruiser Scipio Africanus who said he had special permission to remain where he was. Two Italian U-boats were, however, directed to Malta. Shipping was sent round to Taranto that was by then in Allied hands.33 After the Italian Armistice, C-in-C Mediterranean ordered that no more submarines were to be sailed on patrol in the central Mediterranean. All the Tenth Flotilla submarines except Sokol were back in Malta by 14th September and all the Eighth Flotilla except Simoom and Dolfijn were back in Algiers by 15th.

On 10th September, Unison and United sailed from Malta to refit in the United Kingdom. Both submarines had done well, Unison sinking 16,000 tons of shipping and damaging 8000 tons, while United had disposed of 21,000 tons as well as damaging a further 12,000 tons and sinking a destroyer and a U-boat. They were rewarded by the sight of the Italian Fleet on its way to surrender.

GERMAN CONTINGENCY PLANS in case of an Italian collapse always visualised the evacuation of Sardinia but they intended to hold Corsica. Between the 9th and 18th September, all the German units in Sardinia were therefore ferried across the Straits of Bonifacio to Corsica. Sardinia then fell into the Allies hands without a shot being fired. On 12th September, however, Hitler changed his mind and ordered Corsica to be abandoned too. Already the French in North Africa were gathering ships and troops to retake the island. The first contingent of a hundred men of the Bataillan de Choc was landed in Ajaccio by Casabianca (Capitaine de Fregate L'Herminier) on 13th September and La Perle (Lieutenant de Vaisseau Paumier) landed thirty men and seven tons of supplies a few days later. On 16th-18th, Arethuse (Lieutenant de Vaisseau Gouttier) landed another five tons of supplies. La Perle diverted the French ferry Ville D'Ajaccio to Algiers instead of Toulon. Thereafter a steady stream of French troops arrived at Ajaccio in French warships while the Germans were evacuated by sea and air to Italy from Bastia. Clearly it was important that the German troops from Sardinia and Corsica should be prevented from reinforcing the German Army in Italy, and so that the evacuation should be stopped. At the time, however, the situation in the beachhead at Salerno was serious and the Allied air forces and every ship capable of bombarding the shore were fully occupied trying to prevent their armies from being thrown back into the sea. In any case, surface ships would be in extreme danger in the area north of Elba without strong fighter cover against the German bombers with their new radio controlled weapons34. C-in-C Mediterranean therefore ordered the submarines of the Eighth and Tenth Flotillas to do what they could to prevent the evacuation of Corsica. The only submarine on the spot at the time was Simoom (Lieutenant GDN Milner DSC RN) and on 15th September she fired two torpedoes at a KT ship with three escorts at a range of 700 yards. One of the torpedoes ran crooked, however, and the other missed. The Eighth Flotilla had no more submarines immediately ready, but the Tenth got away Ultor, Unseen, Uproar and Dzik soon after nightfall on 15th, escorted through the narrows by BYMS8 which was now a tender to Talbot in Malta. Sibyl left Algiers on 18th for the Gulf of Genoa, Sickle on 22nd and the new French submarine Curie on 23rd. Ultimatum left Gibraltar for the Gulf of Lions on 18th.

On arrival off Bastia on 21st, Dzik (Kapitan BS Romanowski) fired four torpedoes in two salvoes of two into the harbour. The first pair aimed at a ship just outside the entrance at a range of 1000 yards, hit and sank the German Nicolavo Ourania of 6400 tons. The second pair directed at a large ship in the harbour entrance, missed but the explosions sank or damaged a tug and some barges. Next day she met a convoy of three Siebel Ferries and, setting her torpedoes to run on the surface, she fired first one torpedo at 450 yards and then three at 600 yards and sank all of them. With all torpedoes expended, Dzik returned to Algiers and was attacked by an American aircraft with machine gun fire. Fortunately there was no damage or casualties. On the 21st too, Unseen (Lieutenant MLC Crawford DSC* RN), east of Corsica, attacked a convoy of two ships escorted by E-boats. She fired four torpedoes at a range of 3500 yards hitting and sinking them both. They were the German Brandenburg, an auxiliary minelayer of 3895 tons and Kreta, a fighter direction ship of 2600 tons. It was a week before Unseen got another shot during which she was much harassed by E-boats on the Bastia-Leghorn route. On 28th off Capraia, in bad weather, she made a night attack on a supply ship firing four torpedoes at 5000 yards. The submarine, however, was yawing and she missed with all of them.

Uproar (Lieutenant LE Herrick DSC RN), off the island of Elba on 22nd, attacked a naval auxiliary fining three torpedoes at a range of 2000 yards. All the torpedoes hit and sank Andrea Sgarallino, in German service, and of 731 tons. There were plenty of patrol craft about and on 26th she moved to the approaches to Bastia to replace Dzik after she had returned to base. Ultor (Lieutenant GE Hunt DSC RN) patrolled north and east of Corsica and on 24th, when southeast of Bastia, sighted a large tanker leaving the port escorted by two corvettes and four E-boats. She made a night surface advancing attack through the screen. She was sighted just before she fired and the two torpedoes she got away, at a range of 1400 yards on a late track, missed. Also, but much later on 24th, she made an attack on another large vessel escorted by E-boats, firing four torpedoes at a range of 1800 yards. Two torpedoes hit severely damaging Champagne of 9945 tons, a large tanker being used as a troopship in German service. Ultor suffered a light counter attack. This ship beached herself near Bastia and next morning, she closed in and fired a torpedo at her from 1700 yards, which missed. She fired a second torpedo at 3000 yards at a Siebel ferry in attendance, which hit and sank her. Ultor, with no torpedoes left could do no more. Uproar, however, closed in and on 27th fired a torpedo from 2400 yards, which hit Champagne aft just as she had been refloated and this completed her destruction. The same night, Uproar detected a large ship by radar and gave chase. She caught up and fired three torpedoes in a surface attack at 1200 yards. She missed probably due to the submarine yawing while firing.

On 22nd September, Sibyl (Lieutenant EJD Turner DSO RN), on arrival in the Gulf of Genoa, attacked an escorted ship in ballast, off Rapallo. She fired four torpedoes at a range of 3500 yards but missed and she was counter attacked. On 23rd, she fired another four torpedoes at a range of 3800 yards sinking the German St Nazaire of 2910 tons, which blew up. Next day Sibyl moved to the Spezia-Leghorn area and then on to Bastia. On 29th she fired a single torpedo at a convoy of five Siebel ferries at a range of 500 yards but the torpedo probably ran under. On 30th she fired another single torpedo at 1100 yards sinking the German armed trawler Hummer of 280 tons that was evacuating troops from Corsica. Sickle (Lieutenant JR Drummond DSO DSC RN) took up patrol in the Gulf of Genoa and after landing two agents on 28th by Folbot she encountered a coaster. She fired three torpedoes at a range of 2500 yards but without success and suffered a moderate counter attack by R10 and R12 of the escort. On 3rd October she fired two torpedoes at UJ2208, who not only sighted her periscope and the tracks but also avoided the torpedoes. The UJ-boat then counter attacked with fourteen depth charges. Sickle got stuck in the mud at 300 feet but later was able to withdraw.

Ultimatum (Lieutenant WH Kett DSC RNR), for her working up patrol from Gibraltar, was sent to the Gulf of Lions. On 30th September, off Toulon, she attacked four large barges in convoy firing two torpedoes at a range of 500 yards. She hit and sank a barge but then lost trim and bottomed in 170 feet and was hunted by the chasseurs of the escort for seven hours but was not located. The new French submarine Curie35 (Lieutenant de Vaisseau PM Sonneville) also arrived in the Gulf of Genoa for her working up patrol, which proved to be a blank one. Unruffled (Lieutenant JS Stevens DSO* DSC RN) and Unshaken (Lieutenant J Whitton RN) left Malta on 26th September to replace Dzik and Unseen, who had expended all their torpedoes. They took up patrol positions off Bastia and Elba respectively. On 3rd October, Unruffled fired four torpedoes at two merchant ships but missed at a range of 5000 yards. She also missed a convoy off Gorgona on 5th with four torpedoes fired at 3500 yards aimed at two medium sized merchant ships. Unshaken made two attacks on 1st October on F-lighters firing two single torpedoes at 500 yards, in both cases without success the torpedoes probably running under. She also missed a small petrol carrier with two torpedoes on 2nd at a range of 1600 yards. She was counter attacked by UJ2210 but was undamaged. After dark she joined a convoy of enemy F-lighters and opened fire with her machine gun causing some casualties before being forced to dive. On 3rd October she fired a torpedo at a small ship alongside the pier in Port Longore in Elba, hitting and damaging her. On 7th she expended her last three torpedoes off the Corsican coast at a tanker escorted by E-boats without success and was counter attacked into the bargain. Both submarines then returned to base with all torpedoes expended.

Usurper (Lieutenant DRO Mott DSC RN) left Algiers on 24th September to patrol south of La Spezia. On 1st October at 0320 she made an unsuccessful attack on the German transport KT19 escorted by UJ2209 on her way from Leghorn to Bastia. On 3rd October, she was sent to the northern part of the Gulf of Genoa. Here next day she was detected by UJ2208, who was on her way to Genoa. UJ2208 made a number of depth charge attacks and air bubbles and oil came to the surface. The position was buoyed and more attacks were made. Although success was not allowed by the German naval command, this was almost certainly the end of Usurper36. She was lost with her Commanding Officer, four other officers and 41 men.

By the 3rd of October, the Germans had completed their evacuation of Corsica. In spite of the efforts of Allied submarines and such aircraft as were available, they brought away nearly thirty thousand troops including the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division. Over twenty thousand of the troops were, however, evacuated by air but even so over six thousand left by sea as well as over three thousand vehicles and five thousand tons of stores. They lost 17,000 tons of shipping in the process as well as fifty-five transport aircraft mostly bombed on the airfields in Italy.

DURING SEPTEMBER, THEREFORE, THE HELP of the submarines for the amphibious operations against the mainland of Italy was only required in a very small way. Submarines were unable to do anything to prevent the evacuation of the Axis forces from Sicily but were the only naval forces able to intervene with the enemy flight from Corsica. They kept up their general attack on shipping in the northern part of the western basin and were able to harass, to a certain extent the Italian traffic to the Balkans in the southern Adriatic. They also returned to the Aegean in greater numbers than had been possible for some time37.During the month they made thirty-seven attacks firing 106 torpedoes sinking the Italian U-boat Velella, the armed trawler Hummer, four Siebel Ferries and eight ships of 22,470 tons. They also damaged three ships of 10,000 tons or so and some small craft. Gunfire accounted for the antisubmarine schooners Tre Sorelli and Ugo and eight assorted small craft. Sinkings were therefore in line with the monthly average since the end of the Tunisian campaign.

Of the decorations awarded for the period of this chapter, Lieutenant Stevens of Unruffled received a bar to his Distinguished Service Order. By the time he went home he had completed nineteen patrols and accounted for ten ships of some 35,000 tons. Five Distinguished Service Orders were also awarded, four of which were specifically for sinking U-boats but were also for attacks on convoys and other duties such as beach reconnaissance. Lieutenant Daniell of Unison received the Distinguished Service Order for fourteen patrols and Lieutenant Roxburgh of United for sinking the Italian U-boat Remo and also the destroyer Bombardiere. Distinguished Service Orders also went to Lieutenant Ainslie of Shakespeare for sinking the Italian U-boat Velella, Lieutenant Drummond of Sickle for sinking the German U-boat U303 and also the anti-submarine vessel UJ2213 while Lieutenant Clarabut received the Distinguished Service Order for sinking the Italian U-boat Micca while temporarily in command of Trooper. Lieutenant Lakin, who had relieved Commander Bryant in Safari, received a bar to his Distinguished Service Cross for four successful patrols and Lieutenant Commander Wingfield of Taurus for three patrols. Finally Lieutenant Whitton of Unshaken also won the Distinguished Service Cross for his many patrols and for capturing the Italian submarine Menotti.

IN MANY PLACES IN THIS BOOK reference has been made to a 'general attack' on shipping and this is an appropriate place to consider the subject. A 'general attack' on shipping means an attack on the ships themselves with the aim of reducing their numbers to an extent that there are not enough of them left to carry the necessary cargoes. The alternative policy is to attack ships solely with the aim of destroying their cargoes. The effect of the attack on cargoes has been described in detail throughout the African campaign and the time has now come, with the collapse of Italy, to study the figures for the former. Italy started the war with a merchant fleet of 786 ships of 3,318,129 tons38.Of these, 212 of 1,216,637 tons were outside the Mediterranean at the outbreak of war and were either seized by the Allies or laid up in neutral ports, and 26 ships of 352,051 tons were unsuitable or were used as hospital ships or other purposes than carrying supplies or troops. This meant that the Italian vessels available in the Mediterranean were reduced to 548 ships of 1,749,441 tons. The Italians needed ships to supplement the railways by coastal traffic on both sides of the peninsula; for communication with Sicily, Sardinia, the Dodecanese and other smaller islands; to support their army in Albania; to import oil from Rumania by the Dardanelles39; to import fertilizers from Tunisia and for trade with Spain, Yugoslavia, Greece and Turkey. On top of this there was the need to support their army in Libya40. For all these tasks the shipping available was ample. In the period from the outbreak of war on 10th June to the end of 1940, the Italians lost 45 ships of 161,423 tons41. This is estimated to have been about twice the rate at which ships were being built in Italy. During 1941 the Axis embarked on two major overseas operations, the first being the Italian invasion of Greece and the second the intervention of the German Afrika Korps in Libya. The transfer of the Afrika Korps was, however, done in German ships, 56 of which of 203,512 tons had been in Italian ports since the outbreak of war between Great Britain and Germany in September 1939. During 1941, which included what the Italian historian has called 'The First Battle of the Convoys', the Axis lost 156 ships of 617,986 tons and it is estimated that the Italians only completed 28 of about 140,000 tons. The tonnage available therefore fell by 103 ships of 367,026 tons. This was substantial but, as yet, not enough to cause serious anxiety.

Axis losses during 1942, which included the 'Second Battle of the Convoys' were another 138 ships of 480,652 tons leaving a total of 335 ships of 1,260,061 tons. In other words the total Axis shipping in the Mediterranean had been halved since the outbreak of war. There was now cause for serious alarm. If losses continued at the rate they were being incurred, a shipping crisis was in sight. Steps were taken to procure ships from Greece and Yugoslavia and to charter some from Spain but mainly to secure the use of a large number of French ships laid up in the Mediterranean. A total of 126 ships were obtained by these measures, and another 30 or so ships of 150,000 tons were built during 1943. At the same time 124 more ships of 378,784 tons had been built or captured by the Germans. Nevertheless, in spite of these reinforcements, the shipping losses in the 'Third Battle of the Convoys' were so heavy that a shipping crisis was expected during the summer. However the end came in Tunisia because of the victory of the Allied armies, albeit aided substantially by the cutting off of supplies by sea, but not because of a general shortage of shipping. After the Tunisian surrender, the shipping situation for the Axis eased because the need, with the loss of Sicily and Sardinia too, for maritime transport decreased. During 1943, up to the 8th September, another 226 ships of 758,555 tons were sunk. At the Italian surrender in September, the Axis still had 373 ships of 1,158,817 tons in the Mediterranean although 101 ships of 410,239 tons were under repair.

Although the throttling of Axis supplies to North Africa can be claimed to have been an important factor in their defeat in that continent, as we have already shown, a general lack of shipping was not the cause of the Italian collapse. Indeed they were supporting a large army in the Balkans mainly by sea up to the end. Nevertheless if losses had continued at the rate they were being incurred in the first half of 1943, they would have run out of ships altogether in another six months.

The Italian Official Naval Historian gives the total casualties of Axis merchant shipping in the Mediterranean between the outbreak of war and the Italian Armistice as 565 ships (of over 500 tons) amounting to 2,018,616 tons and another 759 small ships (of under 500 tons) amounting to 87,905 tons. The proportion of the sinkings attributable

to the various arms of the services is given by Captain Bragadin in percentages of the total number of ships sunk,

large and small, as:
Aircraft 489 37%
Submarine 324 25%
Miscellaneous 290 22%
Scuttled 82 6%
Mines 80 6%
Ships 59 4%
1324 100%

We can take these figures from this unbiased source as accurate, but may be permitted to question their relevance. An analysis which gives the same value to a 10,000ton tanker as to a 40-ton caique must be of doubtful value. Of the 565 large ships of 2,018,616 tons sunk, submarines sank 247 ships of 871,310 tons and these sinkings have been confirmed from Axis records. This works out at 44% of the number of ships and 43% of the tonnage. Reliable figures are difficult to find with which to construct a full table of sinkings by the various arms. The scores amassed are obviously of interest but it is worth remembering that the casualties caused by one arm could probably not have been done by another. What mattered, as is so often the case in war, was the effect of the combined assault by all arms. To generalise from the Axis point of view, it was the attack by surface ships during the 'First Battle of the Convoys', when Force K was operating from Malta, which worried them most in 1941. At times during 1942 it was attack by submarines that caused most alarm, while in the 'Third Battle of the Convoys' on the route to Tunisia it was aircraft. Aircraft, of course, were only able to intervene when their bases were within range. There were times when air attacks on Malta by the Luftwaffe were able to neutralise them and times, such as during the Tunisian campaign, when they were able to bring overwhelming air power to bear. Submarines, on the other hand, from the end of 1940 when restrictions on attacking merchant shipping were removed and for a short period in 1942 when they were forced to leave Malta and Alexandria, exerted a steady pressure against the enemy month after month. What, however, is clear is that submarines, heretofore considered the weapon of the weaker naval power, had proved themselves to be essential also to the stronger naval power. This was because they could operate in face of first line shore based enemy air power, which surface forces, even if superior to the enemy could not.

During the campaign, ninety-four individual British submarines took part and nine French, four Netherlands, five Greek and two Polish boats assisted them. In all they made 750 offensive patrols42 in which they made 882 torpedo attacks firing 2674 torpedoes. They sank the Italian cruisers Armando Diaz, Bande Nere and Trento43, twelve destroyers44 and twenty-one U-boats45 as well as the 243 merchant ships of over 500 tons, already noted and totalling 857,950 tons. They also damaged the battleship Vittorio Veneto, the cruisers Bolzano (twice), Attendolo, Regolo, Garibaldi, Abruzzi and three destroyers as well as another sixty-four merchant ships. Torpedoes also disposed of 35 minor war vessels and small craft of under 500 tons and damaged four others. Altogether 650 mines were laid by submarines in fourteen fields, which sank five destroyers and four ships of 13,360 tons. To all these must be added a total of 204 small craft including a number of auxiliary warships which were sunk by gunfire on demolition charge and another 34 which were damaged. To these must also be added the cruiser Ulpio Triano sunk by a chariot as well as damage to two merchant vessels.

The price of the British and Allied submarine campaign in the Mediterranean to date was serious. Of the 114 boats thrown into the campaign, forty-five had been lost, thirty-five with all hands46. Some eighty new submarines were completed in the United Kingdom during the same period but another twenty-two were lost on the Home station. The surprising fact about the losses was that, in spite of the clearness of the sea in the Mediterranean, which allowed aircraft to see submarines submerged down to sixty feet or so, only one boat was possibly sunk by aircraft at sea. Aircraft sank altogether four submarines, but all were in harbour at Malta during the bombing offensive by the Luftwaffe on the island. The most effective antidote to the Allied submarines in the Mediterranean turned out to be the destroyers, torpedo-boats and other surface anti-submarine vessels of the Italian and German Navies which, between them, sank twenty-two submarines. Eight of these were destroyed before the Italian Navy acquired German asdic sets. The German echo detection gear can claim a hand in the destruction of all the remaining fourteen submarines sunk by Italian surface vessels. The German sound gear was, however, greatly inferior to the British Asdic and seldom made first contact. First contact, as during the period before the installation of the set, was generally made by some other means. Six submarines were detected when attacking convoys and were subsequently destroyed. Four more were sunk when or after attacking the anti-submarine vessel herself, but the majority were detected by patrols either by chance or sent out after submarine activity in a certain area or as the result of fixes by directional wireless. At least five submarines, mostly in the early stages of the campaign, were caught on the surface at night. The next most potent anti-submarine measure was the mine and eighteen submarines are believed to have struck them. Only two, from which there were survivors, were certainly mined but the others all passed through positions where the enemy definitely laid mines and this was almost certainly the cause of their loss. A submarine accident, however, can never be ruled out especially as most of the Mediterranean is so deep that a submarine losing control can easily be lost by diving below its crushing depth. Moreover, the Italians and Germans laid some twenty thousand mines between them, mostly defensively round their coasts but also in a mine barrage in the Sicilian Channel and in a series of offensive fields off Malta. It would be surprising if this large effort had not had some success.

Finally only one British submarine fell victim to an enemy U-boat and she was not surprised and torpedoed when on the surface as is usual in such attacks, but engaged the enemy in a gun duel, which she lost.

So ended the most arduous and most important campaign ever waged by the submarines of the Royal Navy. The number of operational submarines in the Mediterranean at once began to decline as the centre of gravity shifted to the Far East. Following Osiris and Trident east of Suez, Templar, Taurus, Tactician, Trespasser and Tally Ho had all passed through the canal by the end of September. During this month, too, the Admiralty decided to send all new and refitted submarines of the T and S-classes to fight the Japanese47.

The Royal Navy Submarine Museum Website