Allied Warships

HMS Thistle (N 24)

Submarine of the T class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeSubmarine
ClassT 
PennantN 24 
Built byVickers Armstrong (Barrow-in-Furness, U.K.) 
Ordered20 Jul 1937 
Laid down7 Dec 1937 
Launched25 Oct 1938 
Commissioned4 Jul 1939 
Lost10 Apr 1940 
Loss position59° 03'N, 5° 11'E
HistoryAt 01.57 hours on 10 April 1940, German time, one hour ahead of GMT, the German submarine U-4 sights HMS Thistle in Quadrat AN 3123 (approx. 59º03'N, 05º11'E) apparently recharging her batteries, on course 355º, 5 knots. At 02.13 hours U-4 fires a torpedo (G7a) at 400 meters but misses, a second torpedo (G7e) is fired at 250 meters and is a direct hit. Thistle blows up. There are no survivors. 

Hit by U-boat
Sunk on 10 Apr 1940 by U-4 (Hinsch).

U-boat AttackSee our U-boat attack entry for the HMS Thistle

Commands listed for HMS Thistle (N 24)

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CommanderFromTo
1Lt.Cdr. Robert William Stirling-Hamilton, RN18 Oct 193820 Feb 1940
2Lt.Cdr. Wilfrid Frederick Haselfoot, RN20 Feb 194010 Apr 1940 (+)

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Notable events involving Thistle include:


The history of HMS Thistle as compiled on this page is extracted from the patrol reports and logbooks of HMS Thistle. Corrections and details regarding information from the enemy's side is kindly provided by Mr. Platon Alexiades, a naval researcher from Canada.

9 Sep 1939
HMS Thistle (Cdr. R.W. Stirling-Hamilton, RN) left dock at Portsmouth. She had been docked there for modifications to her torpedo tubes following her trials and working-up period.

12 Sep 1939
HMS Thistle (Cdr. R.W. Stirling-Hamilton, RN) departed from Portsmouth for Portland where she arrived later the same day. Out of Portland she is to undertake some final trials and working-up.

16 Sep 1939
Upon completion of her final trials and working-up HMS Thistle (Cdr. R.W. Stirling-Hamilton, RN) departed from Portland for Portsmouth. She is escorted by the destroyer HMS Skate (Lt.Cdr. A.O. Johnson, RN).

22 Sep 1939
HMS Thistle (Cdr. R.W. Stirling-Hamilton, RN) departed from Portsmouth for Dover where she arrived later the same day. She is escorted by HMS Skate (Lt.Cdr. A.O. Johnson, RN). Later HMS Brazen (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Mills, RN) took over from HMS Skate as escort.

24 Sep 1939
HMS Thistle (Cdr. R.W. Stirling-Hamilton, RN) departed from Dover bound for Dundee. Escort is provided by HMS Beagle (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Wright, RN). Later Beagle is relieved by HMS Weston (Cdr. (retired) A.G. Davidson, RN). The next day Thistle is taken up in convoy FN 10 that is escorted by the above mentioned HMS Weston as well as HMS Pelican (Cdr. L.A.K Boswell, RN).

26 Sep 1939
HMS Thistle (Cdr. R.W. Stirling-Hamilton, RN) arrived at Dundee.

28 Sep 1939
HMS Thistle (Cdr. R.W. Stirling-Hamilton, RN) departed from Dundee for her 1st war patrol. She was ordered to patrol in the Skagerrak and later of the South-West tip of Norway.

For the daily positions of HMS Thistle during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Thistle 1st war patrolclick here for bigger map

30 Sep 1939
In the evening on 30 September 1939, HMS Thistle (Cdr. R.W. Stirling-Hamilton, RN) encountered the Swedish steam merchant Gun which had been stopped by U-3 about 30 miles northwest of Hanstholm. While investigating the ship, the submarine was attacked and missed with one torpedo by the U-boat, although the attack was not noticed and she soon left the area.

2115 hours - Sighted lights bearing 030°. Closed. Soon sighted a stopped merchant ship in position 57°27'N, 07°55'E.

2225 hours - Sighted a small dark object which might have been a submarine about 3 nautical miles away. Closed to about 0.8 nautical mile of the merchant ship. The dark object was not seen again.

2300 hours - Altered course away from the merchant ship.

0000 hours - Sighted a light near the merchant vessel again. Dived and closed again but nothing else was seen.

0110 hours (1 October) - Surfaced and proceeded.

0113 hours - Sighted a small boat making an SOS signal. Closed. This was a boat from the Swedish merchant Gun. They were ordered to leave their ship by a German submarine. They were ordered to return to their ship that was still afloat.

16 Oct 1939
HMS Thistle (Cdr. R.W. Stirling-Hamilton, RN) ended her 1st war patrol at Rosyth.

28 Oct 1939
HMS Thistle (Cdr. R.W. Stirling-Hamilton, RN) departed from Rosyth for her 2nd war patrol escorted by the destroyer HMS Sturdy (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Cooper, RN) as far as Dunnet Head. She was ordered to patrol in the North Sea.

For the daily positions of HMS Thistle during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Thistle 2nd war patrolclick here for bigger map

6 Nov 1939
HMS Thistle (Cdr. R.W. Stirling-Hamilton, RN) ended her 2nd war patrol at Rosyth.

18 Nov 1939
HMS Thistle (Cdr. R.W. Stirling-Hamilton, RN) departed from Rosyth for her 3rd war patrol. After the sinking of the British armed merchant cruiser HMS Rawalpindi she was ordered to patrol in the Skagerrak near Skagen.

For the daily positions of HMS Thistle during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Thistle 3rd war patrolclick here for bigger map

6 Dec 1939
HMS Thistle (Cdr. R.W. Stirling-Hamilton, RN) ended her 3rd war patrol at Rosyth.

13 Dec 1939
HMS Thistle (Cdr. R.W. Stirling-Hamilton, RN) is docked at Rosyth.

15 Dec 1939
HMS Thistle (Cdr. R.W. Stirling-Hamilton, RN) left dock.

20 Dec 1939
HMS Thistle (Cdr. R.W. Stirling-Hamilton, RN) departed from Rosyth for her 4th war patrol. She was ordered to patrol in the Skagerrak near Skagen to intercept the German pocket battleship Deutschland which is reported to be at sea.

For the daily positions of HMS Thistle during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Thistle 4th war patrolclick here for bigger map

4 Jan 1940
HMS Thistle (Cdr. R.W. Stirling-Hamilton, RN) ended her 4th war patrol at Rosyth.

19 Jan 1940
HMS Thistle (Cdr. R.W. Stirling-Hamilton, RN) departed from Rosyth for her 5th war patrol. She was ordered to patrol in the Skagerrak. Heavy weather is encountered but no enemy ships.

For the daily positions of HMS Thistle during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Thistle 5th war patrolclick here for bigger map

2 Feb 1940
HMS Thistle (Cdr. R.W. Stirling-Hamilton, RN) ended her 5th war patrol at Rosyth.

13 Feb 1940
HMS Thistle (Cdr. R.W. Stirling-Hamilton, RN) departed from Rosyth for convoy escort duty. She is part of the escort of convoy ON-12 that arrived safely at Bergen, Norway on 16 February. Other ships of the escort were light cruiser HMS Edinburgh (Capt. F.C. Bradley, RN) and destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC, RN), HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN) and HMS Delight (Cdr. M. Fogg-Elliott, RN. On the 15th the anti-aircraft cruiser HMS Calcutta (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN) and the destroyer HMS Imogen (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN) joined the escort.

16 Feb 1940
HMS Thistle (Cdr. R.W. Stirling-Hamilton, RN) departed from Bergen, Norway as part of the escort of convoy HN-12. The convoy was to arrive at Methil on 19 February. Other ships of the escort were light cruisers HMS Edinburgh (Capt. F.C. Bradley, RN) and HMS Arethusa (Capt. Q.D. Grahan, RN), destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC, RN), HMS Imogen (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN) and HMS Delight (Cdr. M. Fogg-Elliott, RN). Anti-Aircraft protection was provided by the anti-aircraft cruiser HMS Calcutta (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN).

The destroyer HMS Daring (Cdr. S.A. Cooper, RN) joined the convoy at sea on the 16th having departed Rosyth on the 15th.

HMS Adinburgh and HMS Aurora were detached on the 17th to Scapa Flow. They were escorted by HMS Inglefield and HMS Imogen.

On the 18th the convoy was joined by three merchant ships from the Orkneys and by destroyer HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN).

On the 18th HMS Daring was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-23. HMS Thistle sights the sinking destroyer and directs the other destroyers to the rescue. HMS Inglefield picked up one officer and four ratings from a Carley float. They are the only survivors. 147 Of the crew are lost. HMS Ilex hunted the U-boat without success.

19 Feb 1940
HMS Thistle (Cdr. R.W. Stirling-Hamilton, RN) returns to Rosyth.

24 Feb 1940
HMS Thistle (Lt.Cdr. W.F. Haselfoot, RN) is docked at Rosyth.

27 Feb 1940
HMS Thistle (Lt.Cdr. W.F. Haselfoot, RN) left dock.

5 Mar 1940
HMS Thistle (Lt.Cdr. W.F. Haselfoot, RN) departed from Rosyth for her 6th war patrol. She was ordered to patrol in the North Sea to intercept a U-boat in position 57°16'N, 00°53'E but sights nothing.

For the daily positions of HMS Thistle during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Thistle 6th war patrolclick here for bigger map

10 Mar 1940
HMS Thistle (Lt.Cdr. W.F. Haselfoot, RN) ended her 6th war patrol at Rosyth.

13 Mar 1940
HMS Thistle (Lt.Cdr. W.F. Haselfoot, RN) departed from Rosyth for her 7th war patrol. She was ordered to patrol off the South coast of Norway for operation R.3 and to wait for orders to enter the Baltic in a last ditch effort to help Finland. A few hours later Finland signs the armistice and operation R.3 is cancelled.

For the daily positions of HMS Thistle during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Thistle 7th war patrolclick here for bigger map

25 Mar 1940
HMS Thistle (Lt.Cdr. W.F. Haselfoot, RN) ended her 7th war patrol at Rosyth.

4 Apr 1940
HMS Thistle (Lt.Cdr. W.F. Haselfoot, RN) departed from Rosyth for Scapa Flow.

5 Apr 1940
HMS Thistle (Lt.Cdr. W.F. Haselfoot, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow.

7 Apr 1940
HMS Thistle (Lt.Cdr. W.F. Haselfoot, RN) departed from Scapa Flow for her 8th war patrol. She was ordered to patrol off the South coast of Norway, west of Utsire.

8 Apr 1940
At 16.20 hours HMS Thistle (Lt.Cdr. W.F. Haselfoot, RN) is sighted by HMS Clyde (Lt.Cdr. R.L.S. Gaisford, RN) and they proceed on surface briefly in company before being forced down by aircraft. During the evening, Thistle was ordered to patrol off Skudesnes Fjord.

9 Apr 1940
At 16.04 hours on 9 April 1940 HMS Thistle (Lt.Cdr. W.F. Haselfoot, RN) missed German U-boat U-4 with a spread of six torpedoes southwest off Stavanger, Norway in position 59°00'N, 05°10'E. Thistle reports the action by radio and that she has only two torpedoes left. U-4 had sighted a torpedo track and took avoiding action and then heard three explosions of torpedoes probably at the end of their run.

Media links


U-Boat Attack Logs

Daniel Morgan and Bruce Taylor


The T-class Submarine

Kemp, Paul J.


Submarines versus U-boats

Jones, Geoffrey


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