Allied Warships

HMS Grampus (N 56)

Submarine of the Porpoise class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeSubmarine
ClassPorpoise 
PennantN 56 
Built byChatham Dockyard (Chatham, U.K.) 
Ordered1 Mar 1934 
Laid down20 Aug 1934 
Launched25 Feb 1936 
Commissioned10 Mar 1937 
Lost16 Jun 1940 
History

At the outbreak of the Second World War HMS Grampus was part of the 4th Submarine Flotilla on the China Station and was at Singapore. After a quick docking at Hong Kong Grampus departed that place on 13 April bound for the Mediterranean. Grampus arrived at Malta for duty with the Mediterranean Fleet on 13 May 1940.

HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. Charles Alexander Rowe, RN) went missing on her first war patrol. She is most likely sunk on 16 June 1940 off Syracuse by Italian torpedo boats. See also 'events' at the bottom of this page for even more info.

At 1902 hours on 16 June 1940 in position 087 degrees, Syracuse, 3 nautical miles, the torpedo-boat Circe (leader of 13th Squadron, with sister ships Clio, Calliope and Polluce, which has sailed from Syracuse for an A/S sweep reports sighting what appeared to be the conning tower of a submarine at about 3-4000 meters and opened fire (10 rounds of 100 mm and 336 rounds of 20 mm) and was joined by Clio which fired 13 rounds of 100 mm and 417 rounds of 20mm, at 1904-1905 hours, two torpedo tracks are observed by the torpedo-boats, some observe only one torpedo others two. Polluce reports being missed ahead and astern by the two torpedoes (but immediately made a signal that she had been missed by two torpedoes ahead). The torpedo-boats dropped depth-charges: Circe (19), Clio (13), Calliope (10), Polluce(19). After Polluce attacked, she claimed to have sighted a large oil slick and seen the wreck of the submarine. It must be noted that a few witnesses reported seeing the torpedo tracks and this was not general. Capitano di Fregata Aldo Rossi (of Circe, squadron leader and also Commanding Officer of the 1st Torpedo-boat Flotilla) was doubtful of the torpedo-track sightings as he considered that due to the sea conditions it was very difficult to see torpedo tracks. Rossi was not convinced that the submarine was sunk and ordered the torpedo-boats to carry on the A/S sweep but nothing was seen. Later the sinking was assessed by the Italians as "probable". 

Commands listed for HMS Grampus (N 56)

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CommanderFromTo
1Lt.Cdr. Charles Alexander Rowe, RN24 Aug 193919 Jan 1940
2Lt.Cdr. Gilbert Hugh Nowell, RN19 Jan 19401 Apr 1940
3Lt.Cdr. Charles Alexander Rowe, RN1 Apr 194016 Jun 1940 (+)

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Notable events involving Grampus include:


The history of HMS Grampus as compiled below originates mainly from information found in her logbooks.

The events listed below also contain information from the 'enemy's side'. This information is kindly provided by Mr. Platon Alexiades, a naval researcher from Canada.

This page was last updated in October 2014.

6 Sep 1939
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) conducted exercises off Singapore. (1)

7 Sep 1939
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) conducted exercises off Singapore together with HMS Rorqual (Lt.Cdr R.H. Dewhurst, RN). (1)

14 Sep 1939
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) departed Singapore for her 1st war patrol. She was ordered to patrol in the Sunda Strait.

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

(1)

4 Oct 1939
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) ended her 1st war patrol at Singapore. (2)

10 Oct 1939
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) was docked at Singapore. (2)

11 Oct 1939
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) was undocked. (2)

15 Oct 1939
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) departed Singapore for her 2nd war patrol. She was ordered to patrol off Sabang.

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

(2)

6 Nov 1939
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) ended her 2nd war patrol at Singapore. (3)

14 Nov 1939
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) conducted exercises off Singapore with HMS Tenedos (Lt.Cdr. J.O'B. Milner-Barry, RN). (3)

22 Nov 1939
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) conducted exercises off Singapore. (3)

2 Dec 1939
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) departed Singapore for her 3rd war patrol. She was ordered to patrol off the West coast of Sumatra.

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

(4)

22 Dec 1939
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) ended her 3rd war patrol at Singapore. (4)

4 Jan 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) conducted exercises off Singapore. (5)

5 Jan 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) conducted exercises off Singapore with HMS Stronghold (Lt.Cdr. R. Alexander, RN). (5)

7 Jan 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) departed Singapore for several days of exercises off Malacca with HMS Stronghold (Lt.Cdr. R. Alexander, RN). (5)

11 Jan 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) returned to Singapore. (5)

13 Jan 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) was docked at Singapore. (5)

29 Jan 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. G.H. Nowell, RN) was undocked. (5)

1 Feb 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. G.H. Nowell, RN) conducted exercises off Singapore. (6)

5 Feb 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. G.H. Nowell, RN) departed Singapore for several days of exercises off Malacca. (6)

9 Feb 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. G.H. Nowell, RN) returned to Singapore. (6)

15 Feb 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. G.H. Nowell, RN) conducted exercises off Singapore with HMS Tenedos (Lt.Cdr. J.O'B. Milner-Barry, RN). (6)

16 Feb 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. G.H. Nowell, RN) conducted exercises off Singapore with HMS Stronghold (Lt.Cdr. R. Alexander, RN). (6)

19 Feb 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. G.H. Nowell, RN) departed Singapore for several days of exercises off Malacca.

23 Feb 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. G.H. Nowell, RN) returned to Singapore. Exercises had been carried out together with HMS Stronghold (Lt.Cdr. R. Alexander, RN), HMS Perseus (Lt.Cdr. P.J.H. Bartlett, RN) and HMS Regent (Lt.Cdr. H.C. Browne, RN). (6)

27 Feb 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. G.H. Nowell, RN) conducted exercises off Singapore with HMS Tenedos (Lt.Cdr. J.O'B. Milner-Barry, RN). (6)

28 Feb 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. G.H. Nowell, RN) departed Singapore for several days of exercises off Malacca. (6)

7 Mar 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. G.H. Nowell, RN) returned to Singapore. Exercises had been carried out together with HMS Tenedos (Lt.Cdr. J.O'B. Milner-Barry, RN), HMS Stronghold (Lt.Cdr. R. Alexander, RN), HMS Perseus (Lt.Cdr. P.J.H. Bartlett, RN) and HMS Regent (Lt.Cdr. H.C. Browne, RN). (7)

12 Mar 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. G.H. Nowell, RN) conducted exercises off Singapore with HMS Tenedos (Lt.Cdr. J.O'B. Milner-Barry, RN). (7)

21 Mar 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. G.H. Nowell, RN) departed Singapore for Hong Kong.

For the daily position of HMS Grampus during this passage see the map below.

(7)

27 Mar 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. G.H. Nowell, RN) arrived at Hong Kong. (7)

2 Apr 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) conducted a minelaying exercise off Hong Kong. (8)

9 Apr 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) was docked at Hong Kong. (8)

10 Apr 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) was undocked. (8)

13 Apr 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) departed Hong Kong for Singapore.

For the daily position of HMS Grampus during this passage see the map below.

(8)

18 Apr 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) arrived at Singapore. (8)

19 Apr 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) departed Singapore for Colombo. Grampus was to proceed to the Mediterranean.

For the daily position of HMS Grampus during this passage see the map below.

(8)

24 Apr 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) arrived at Colombo. (8)

25 Apr 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) departed Colombo for Aden.

For the daily position of HMS Grampus during this passage see the map below. As no log is available for May 1940 no positions can be displayed from 1 May 1940 and onwards.

(8)

2 May 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) arrived at Aden. (9)

3 May 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) departed Aden for Port Said. (9)

7 May 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) arrived at Port Said. (9)

8 May 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) departed Port Said for Alexandria. (9)

9 May 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) arrived at Alexandria. She departed for Malta later the same day. (9)

13 May 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) arrived at Malta. (9)

30 May 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) conducted exercises off Malta together with HMS Rorqual (Lt.Cdr R.H. Dewhurst, RN) and HMS Orpheus (Lt.Cdr. J.A.S. Wise, RN).

4 Jun 1940
HMS Grampus (C.A. Rowe, RN) departed Malta for her 4th war patrol (1st in the Mediterranean). She was to take up a defensive position off Malta.

10 Jun 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) was recalled to Malta where she arrived later the same day. At Malta she was wiped and it was intended to give her a new outfit of mines the next day. But as Italy declared war she was sailed again late in the evening.

At 2345 hours HMS Grampus departed from Malta for her 5th war patrol (2nd in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol off the East coast of Sicily. She is also to lay a minefield of Augusta. She is to depart from her patrol area at 1930 hours on the 16th and return to Malta (later this is amended to Alexandria).

13 Jun 1940
HMS Grampus (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Rowe, RN) laid a minefield (50 mines) off Augusta, Sicily, Italy.

At 1930/13 June Grampus sends a signal confirming that she had completed her mine laying operation (50 mines believed laid in position 036° - Castello Maniace Light - 2' [line of 2 miles North-South centred on this point] (NE of Augusta in searched channel).

Earlier on this day, at about 0700 hours, the Italian submarine Giovanni Bausan (Capitano di Corvetta Francesco Murzi) that was returning to Augusta reports being missed by a torpedo which passed 10 meters ahead in position 090°, Capo San Croce (Augusta), 3 nautical miles. If this attack is genuine (quite a few attacks reported in the early stages of the war were probably porpoises instead of torpedo tracks) it is quite likely that the aggressor was HMS Grampus and that multiple torpedoes were fired in this attack (only one torpedo was observed).

14 Jun 1940
At 0410 hours the torpedo-boat Polluce returning from an A/S sweep with Circe, Clio and Calliope reports a torpedo track which passed 100 meters ahead in a position close to the entrance of Syracuse. If this is correct the attacker must have been HMS Grampus.

18 Jun 1940
At 1708 hours the Italian submarine Benedetto Brin (offsite link), which had just sailed from Augusta to carry out a patrol off Crete, reported being missed by a torpedo apparently fired from about 2500 meters (position of the attack was about 20 miles east of Augusta).

If this attack is genuine then it is possible that HMS Grampus had survived the depth-charging of 16 June and then the exact circumstances of her loss are open to question. In theory (patrol orders), Grampus should have left the Syracuse-Augusta area on 16th June to return to Malta (later amended to return to Alexandria) so it is doubtful that the Brin attack is genuine. Unless Grampus had been damaged seriously on 16 June and could not leave the area in time.

Sources

  1. ADM 173/15663
  2. ADM 173/15664
  3. ADM 173/15665
  4. ADM 173/15666
  5. ADM 173/16269
  6. ADM 173/16270
  7. ADM 173/16271
  8. ADM 173/16272
  9. ADM 199/2555

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.


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