Allied Warships

HMS Cachalot (N 83)

Submarine of the Porpoise class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeSubmarine
ClassPorpoise 
PennantN 83 
Built byScotts Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. (Greenock, Scotland) 
Ordered5 Mar 1936 
Laid down12 May 1936 
Launched2 Dec 1937 
Commissioned15 Aug 1938 
Lost30 Jul 1941 
Loss position32° 49'N, 20° 11'E
History

HMS Cachalot (Lt. Hugo Rowland Barnwell Newton, DSO, RN) was rammed and sunk about 45 nautical miles north of Benghazi, Libya in position 32º49'N, 20º11'E by the Italian torpedo boat Generale Achille Papa. Cachalot was attacking the Italian merchant Capo Orso (3149 GRT) with gunfire when she was rammed and sunk by it's escort.

 

Commands listed for HMS Cachalot (N 83)

Please note that we're still working on this section.

CommanderFromTo
1Lt.Cdr. Sydney William Floyd Bennetts, RN26 Aug 193715 Jun 1940
2Lt.Cdr. John David Luce, RN15 Jun 194021 Feb 1941
3Lt. Hugo Rowland Barnwell Newton, DSC, RN21 Feb 194130 Jul 1941

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Notable events involving Cachalot include:


The page for this submarine is currently (October 2014 and onwards) being updated.

1 Sep 1939
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) arrived at Malta from the U.K.

7 Sep 1939
During 7 and 8 September 1939 HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) conducted exercises off Malta. These exercises included night exercises.

14 Sep 1939
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) conducted exercises off Malta.

19 Sep 1939
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) conducted exercises off Malta together with HMS Porpoise (Cdr. G.W.G. Simpson, RN) and HMS Otway (Cdr. H.R. Conway, RN).

21 Sep 1939
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) conducted exercises off Malta together with HMS Sealion (Lt.Cdr. B. Bryant, RN).

27 Sep 1939
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) was docked at Malta.

29 Sep 1939
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) was undocked.

4 Oct 1939
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) conducted exercises off Malta together with HMS Sealion (Lt.Cdr. B. Bryant, RN).

5 Oct 1939
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) conducted exercises off Malta together with HMS Porpoise (Cdr. G.W.G. Simpson, RN) and HMS Oswald (Lt.Cdr. G.M. Sladen, RN).

11 Oct 1939
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) departed Malta for Gibraltar. Cachalot was ordered to return to the U.K.

15 Oct 1939
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) arrived at Gibraltar. After fuelling she departed for Portsmouth later on the same day.

20 Oct 1939
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) arrived at Portsmouth.

29 Oct 1939
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) departed Portsmouth for her 1st war patrol. She was ordered to patrol in the North Sea.

Cachalot was escorted out by HMS Malcolm (Capt. T.E. Halsey, RN) until 1615/29.

7 Nov 1939
At 1648 hours HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) made rendez-vous with HMS Seal (Lt.Cdr. R.P. Lonsdale, RN), HMS L 26 (Lt.Cdr. F.W. Lipscomb, OBE, RN) and their escort towards Portsmouth, HMS Boadicea (Lt.Cdr. G.B. Kingdon, RN) near the North Goodwin light vessel.

8 Nov 1939
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) ended her 1st war patrol at Portsmouth. Nothing of interest had been sighted.

11 Nov 1939
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) departed Portsmouth for her 2nd war patrol. She was to provide ocean escort for convoy O.A. 33 together with HMS Seal (Lt.Cdr. R.P. Lonsdale, RN).

14 Nov 1939
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) left the convoy and proceeded to Halifax, Canada independently. It was decided to leave the convoy due to the very bad weather and visibility in which Cachalot was nearly rammed by one of the merchant vessels.

23 Nov 1939
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) ended her 2nd war patrol at Halifax.

26 Nov 1939
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) was docked at Halifax.

27 Nov 1939
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) was undocked.

7 Dec 1939
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) conducted exercises off Halifax. These included A/S exercises with HMS Hunter (Lt.Cdr. L. De Villiers, RN) and HMCS Fraser (Cdr. W.B. Creery, RCN).

14 Dec 1939
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) conducted exercises off Halifax.

16 Dec 1939
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Halifax with HMS Hunter (Lt.Cdr. L. De Villiers, RN).

18 Dec 1939
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) conducted exercises off Halifax. These included A/S exercises with HMS Hunter (Lt.Cdr. L. De Villiers, RN) and HMCS Restigouche (Lt.Cdr. W.B.L. Holms, RCN).

19 Dec 1939
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) conducted exercises off Halifax. These included A/S exercises with HMS Hunter (Lt.Cdr. L. De Villiers, RN) and HMCS Restigouche (Lt.Cdr. W.B.L. Holms, RCN).

23 Dec 1939
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) conducted exercises off Halifax.

29 Dec 1939
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) departed Halifax for her 3rd war patrol. She was to provide escort to convoy HX 14.

12 Jan 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) ended her 3rd war patrol at Sheerness. Cachalot was to proceed to the Chatham Dockyard to refit.

13 Jan 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) shifted from Sheerness to Chatham.

24 Mar 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) ended her refit at the Chatham Dockyard. She shifted to Sheerness late in the morning.

25 Mar 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) conducted trials off Sheerness. Upon completed of these trials she returned to the Chatham Dockyard.

28 Mar 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) departed the Chatham Dockyard for trials off Sheerness. Upon completion of these trials she went to Sheerness.

29 Mar 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) departed Sheerness for Portsmouth.

30 Mar 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) arrived at Portsmouth.

2 Apr 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) conducted exercises off Portsmouth.

3 Apr 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) conducted exercises off Portsmouth.

4 Apr 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) conducted exercises off Portsmouth.

6 Apr 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) conducted exercises off Portsmouth.

10 Apr 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) Portsmouth for Blyth.

12 Apr 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) arrived at Blyth.

13 Apr 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) departed Blyth for Immingham where she was to embark mines.

At 2125 hours, off Whitby, she was rammed by accident by the Italian merchant Beppe. Cachalot was able to continue under her own power. She was ordered to proceed to the Tyne.

14 Apr 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) arrived at the Tyne.

15 Apr 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) shifted from the Tyne to the Swan Hunters Shipyard at Wallsend for temporary repairs. She was docked on this day.

19 Apr 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) was undocked.

21 Apr 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) shifted from Wallsend to Blyth.

27 Apr 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) departed Blyth for the Devonport Dockyard at Plymouth.

29 Apr 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) arrived at Sheerness.

1 May 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) departed Sheerness to continue her passage to the Devonport Dockyard.

3 May 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) arrived at the Devonport Dockyard.

12 May 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) is docked at the Devonport Dockyard for full repairs and refit. The date of undocking is currently unknown as no log is available.

24 Jul 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Luce, RN) departed Plymouth for Rothesay.

26 Jul 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Luce, RN) arrived at Rothesay for a period of training.

15 Aug 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Luce, RN) departed Rothesay for her 4th war patrol. She was ordered to patrol in the Bay of Biscay and to lay a minefield off the Gironde.

During her passage south through the Irish Sea Cachalot was escorted by HMS Manor (T/Lt. Alfred Rosling, RNVR) until 2200/17.

19 Aug 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Luce, RN) laid minefield FD 24 (50 mines) south of Penmarch, France.

(All times are zone -1)
1111 hours - Laid the first mine.

1228 hours - Laid the last mine. The mines were laid in 5 groups of 10 mines within an area of 1.5 miles radius from position 47°40'3"N, 04°23'W.

20 Aug 1940
The German U-boat U-51 was torpedoed and sunk in the Bay of Biscay in position 47°06'N, 04°51'W, by a torpedo from the British submarine HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Luce, RN).

(All times are zone -1)
0111 hours - Sighted a small object about 25° on the starboard bow about 4 nautical miles away. Brought all tubes to the ready. The object was soon identified as a submarine.

1117 hours - Fired 6 torpedoes from 1500 yards and dived. One hit was obtained.

1218 hours - Surfaced and proceeded to the place where the submarine had been attacked. A large patch of diesel fuel was seen and amelled in the area. It is thought the submarine had been sunk.

4 Sep 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Luce, RN) ended her 4th war patrol at Rothesay.

16 Sep 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Luce, RN) departed Rothesay for her her 5th war patrol. She was ordered to patrol in the Bay of Biscay and to lay a minefield of 50 mines there.

Passage south through the Irish Sea was made together with HMS Tribune (Lt. E.F. Balston, RN) and HMS Utmost (Lt. J.H. Eaden, DSC, RN). They were escorted by HMS Cutty Sark (Cdr.(retired) R.H. Mack, RN).

23 Sep 1940
The German auxiliary minesweeper M 1604 / Österreich (494 GRT) sank after hitting a mine laid by HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Luce, RN) off Penmarch, France in position 47°52'N, 04°19'W. The mine was one of field FD 27 (50 mines) laid shortly before by HMS Cachalot.

(All times are zone -1)
1412 hours - Laid the first mine.

1526 hours - Laid the last mine. The mines were scattered in a circle of a radius of 1.5 nautical miles centered from position 47°48'N, 04°33'W.

1537 hours - Heard three fairly loud explosions.

1553 hours - Came to periscope depth. Sighted four A/S trawlers apparently hunting. Kept on retiring to the West.

24 Sep 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Luce, RN) attacks a submarine with torpedoes in the Bay of Biscay in position 46°58'N, 05°56'W. The target is not hit. The submarine attacked was either U-37 or U-61 that both had left Lorient earlier that day. Neither of these submarines reported being attacked.

(All times are zone -1)
1930 hours - Sighted the conning tower of a submarine bearing 170°. Altered course to close.

1943 hours - In position 46°58'N, 05°56'W fired 6 torpedoes. The range is not mentioned in the patrol report. Five minutes after firing two explosions were heard.

1945 hours - Two torpedoes were heard to pass very close. One to each side. It was thought that the uboat had fired on Cachalot but later it was thought that two torpedoes had malfunctioned and turned back towards Cachalot.

2110 hours - Surfaced and proceeded to the area of the attack. There was a distinct smell of diesel fuel over a wide area. It was thought the target had been sunk but this was not the case.

25 Sep 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Luce, RN) arrived at Falmouth. She departed later the same day for Holy Loch escorted by HMS Cutty Sark (Cdr.(retired) R.H. Mack, RN).

27 Sep 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Luce, RN) ended her 5th war patrol at Holy Loch.

18 Oct 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Luce, RN) departed Holy Loch for her 6th war patrol. She was ordered to patrol in the Bay of Biscay.

Passage south through the Irish Sea was was made together with HMS Taku (Lt. J.F.B. Brown, RN). They were escorted by the armed yacht HMS Surprise (Capt.(ret) E.Stubbs, RN).

6 Nov 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Luce, RN) ended her 6th war patrol at Holy Loch.

1 Dec 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Luce, DSO, RN) was docked at Holy Loch.

2 Dec 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Luce, DSO, RN) was undocked.

3 Dec 1940
HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Luce, DSO, RN) deaprted Holy Loch for her 7th war patrol. She was ordered to patrol off Punta Delgada in the Azores as a German invasion of the Azores is feared.

Passage south through the Irish Sea was made together with HMS Thunderbolt (Lt. C.B. Crouch, RN) and HMS Tribune (Lt. E.F. Balston, DSO, RN). They were escorted by HMS Cutty Sark (Cdr.(retired) R.H. Mack, RN) until 0630/6.

30 Dec 1940
Around 0900 hours HMS Cachalot (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Luce, DSO, RN) made rendez-vous near Round Island with HMS Surprise (Capt.(ret) E.Stubbs, RN) which was to escort her north through the Irish Sea towards Holy Loch.

1 Jan 1941
HMS Cachalot (Cdr. J.D. Luce, DSO, RN) ended her 7th war patrol at Holy Loch. Nothing of interest had been sighted.

22 Jan 1941
HMS Cachalot (Cdr. J.D. Luce, DSO, RN) departed Holy Loch for her 8th war patrol. She was ordered to lay a minefield off Bud, Norway.

She was escorted north by HMS La Capricieuse (Lt.Cdr. G.W. Dobson, RNR) until 1400/23 when HMS Wastwater (T/Lt. A.C. Munro, RNVR) took over the escort until 0900/24.

26 Jan 1941
HMS Cachalot (Cdr. J.D. Luce, DSO, RN) laid minefield FD 28 (50 mines) off Bud, Norway.

(All times are zone -1)
1557 hours - Laid the first mine.

1630 hours - Laid the last mine. The mines had been laid in a group of 30 and one of 20 mines. They were laid within 2.5 nautical miles from position 32°57'30"N, 06°52'40"E.

28 Jan 1941
At 1300 hours HMS Cachalot (Cdr. J.D. Luce, DSO, RN) made rendez-vous off Yell Sound, Shetland Islands with her escort HMS Wastwater (T/Lt. A.C. Munro, RNVR). They then proceeded towards Holy Loch. At 0900/29 HMS Cutty Sark (Cdr.(retired) R.H. Mack, RN) took over the escort.

30 Jan 1941
HMS Cachalot (Cdr. J.D. Luce, DSO, RN) ended her 8th war patrol at Holy Loch.

5 Feb 1941
HMS Cachalot (Cdr. J.D. Luce, DSO, RN) departed Holy Loch for her 9th war patrol. She was ordered to lay a minefield off Norway. The position was to be signalled later.

She was escorted north by HMS Cutty Sark (Cdr.(retired) R.H. Mack, RN) until 1200/7 when HMS Stella Pegasi (T/Lt. E. Steedman, RNR) took over the escort until 0200/8.

8 Feb 1941
Late in the evening HMS Cachalot (Cdr. J.D. Luce, DSO, RN) receives a signal ordering her to patrol off Fro Havet.

13 Feb 1941
HMS Cachalot (Cdr. J.D. Luce, DSO, RN) receives a signal ordering her to lay a minefield in the Vest Fjord.

15 Feb 1941
HMS Cachalot (Cdr. J.D. Luce, DSO, RN) lays minefield FD 30 (50 mines) in the Vest Fjord, Norway.

(All times are zone -1)
0908 hours - Laid the first of 20 mines in position 67°55'15"N, 14°42'50"E. A line was laid in direction 092°. The mines were spaced 100 feet apart.

0915 hours - Completed laying the first field.

0936 hours - Laid the first of 30 mines in position 67°54'42"N, 14°43'15"E. A line was laid in direction 225°. The mines were spaced 100 feet apart.

0947 hours - Completed laying the second field.

19 Feb 1941
HMS Cachalot (Cdr. J.D. Luce, DSO, RN) made rendez-vous with HMS Thirlmere (T/S.Lt. R.C.R. Mortimore, RNVR) off the Shetland Islands. They then proceeded towards Holy Loch.

20 Feb 1941
Off Cape Wrath HMS Cutty Sark (Cdr.(retired) R.H. Mack, RN) took over the escort of HMS Cachalot (Cdr. J.D. Luce, DSO, RN) from HMS Thirlmere (T/S.Lt. R.C.R. Mortimore, RNVR).

21 Feb 1941
HMS Cachalot (Cdr. J.D. Luce, DSO, RN) ended her 9th war patrol at Holy Loch.

1 Mar 1941
The Norwegian merchant Huldra (2112 GRT, built 1940) was sunk in position 62°58'9"N, 06°51'3"E after hitting a mine. The mine was most likely laid by HMS Cachalot (Cdr. J.D. Luce, DSO, RN) on 26 January 1941.

21 Mar 1941
HMS Cachalot (Lt. H.R.B. Newton, DSC, RN) departed Holy Loch for her 10th war patrol. She was ordered to patrol in the Bay of Biscay and to lay a minefield there.

During passage south through the Irish Sea she was escorted by HMS Cutty Sark (Cdr.(retired) R.H. Mack, RN) until 2245/22.

28 Mar 1941
HMS Cachalot (Lt. H.R.B. Newton, DSC, RN) laid minefield FD 32 (50 mines) off the Gironde estuary.

(All times are zone -1)
1109 hours - Laid the first mine.

1210 hours - Laid the last mine. The mines were laid in a three mile radius from position 45°38'N, 01°35'E.

11 Apr 1941
HMS Cachalot (Lt. H.R.B. Newton, DSC, RN) made rendez-vous off Bishops Rock with HMS Cutty Sark (Cdr.(retired) R.H. Mack, RN). They then proceeded north through the Irish Sea towards Holy Loch.

13 Apr 1941
HMS Cachalot (Lt. H.R.B. Newton, DSC, RN) ended her 10th war patrol at Holy Loch.

The previous day it had been decided that Cachalot was to transfer to the Mediterranean Fleet.

25 Apr 1941
HMS Cachalot (Lt. H.R.B. Newton, DSC, RN) departed Holy Loch for Plymouth. She was escorted by HMS White Bear (Cdr. (retired) C.C. Flemming, RN).

27 Apr 1941
HMS Cachalot (Lt. H.R.B. Newton, DSC, RN) arrived at Plymouth.

29 Apr 1941
HMS Cachalot (Lt. H.R.B. Newton, DSC, RN) departed Plymouth for Gibraltar. She was escorted by HMS Mackay (Lt.Cdr. E.C. Coats, RN) until 0030/30.

4 May 1941
At 2130 hours (zone -1), in position 38.45'N, 10.21W, HMS Cachalot (Lt. H.R.B. Newton, DSC, RN) examined from close range the Portugese sardine fishing schooner Navigante III. The schooner was not boarded but allowed to proceed.

5 May 1941
At 0025 hours (zone -1), in position 38.28'N, 10.41W, HMS Cachalot (Lt. H.R.B. Newton, DSC, RN) ordered the Spanish merchant Escolano (3081 GRT, built 1920) to stop. A boat was lowered and one of the ships officers came over with the ships papers for inspection. After inspection of the ships papers she was allowed to proceed.

6 May 1941
HMS Cachalot (Lt. H.R.B. Newton, DSC, RN) arrived at Gibraltar.

8 May 1941
HMS Cachalot (Lt. H.R.B. Newton, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar for Malta.

15 May 1941
HMS Cachalot (Lt. H.R.B. Newton, DSC, RN) arrived at Malta.

16 May 1941
HMS Cachalot (Lt. H.R.B. Newton, DSC, RN) departed Malta for Alexandria.

22 May 1941
HMS Cachalot (Lt. H.R.B. Newton, DSC, RN) arrived at Alexandria.

3 Jun 1941
HMS Cachalot (Lt. H.R.B. Newton, DSC, RN) departed Alexandria for Port Said.

4 Jun 1941
HMS Cachalot (Lt. H.R.B. Newton, DSC, RN) arrived at Port Said.

6 Jun 1941
HMS Cachalot (Lt. H.R.B. Newton, DSC, RN) departed Port Said for Alexandria.

7 Jun 1941
HMS Cachalot (Lt. H.R.B. Newton, DSC, RN) arrived at Alexandria.

12 Jun 1941
HMS Cachalot (Lt. H.R.B. Newton, DSC, RN) departed Alexandria for her 1st storage trip to Malta.

19 Jun 1941
HMS Cachalot (Lt. H.R.B. Newton, DSC, RN) arrived at Malta.

21 Jun 1941
HMS Cachalot (Lt. H.R.B. Newton, DSC, RN) departed Malta for Alexandria.

28 Jun 1941
HMS Cachalot (Lt. H.R.B. Newton, DSC, RN) arrived at Alexandria ending her 1st storage trip.

9 Jul 1941
HMS Cachalot (Lt. H.R.B. Newton, DSC, RN) departed Alexandria for her 2nd storage trip to Malta.

16 Jul 1941
HMS Cachalot (Lt. H.R.B. Newton, DSC, RN) arrived at Malta.

26 Jul 1941
HMS Cachalot (Lt. H.R.B. Newton, DSC, RN) departed Malta for Alexandria. En-route she was ordered to a patrol position to the north-west of Benghazi, Libya to intercept an important Italian transport ship.

30 Jul 1941
The following is from from a report written by Lt. Newton on 29 March 1943.

On 30 July 1941 HMS Cachalot (Lt. H.R.B. Newton, DSC, RN) was to the north-west of Benghazi, Libya. An enemy transport vessel was reported to be en-route to that port and Cachalot was ordered to intercept this ship.

It was the intention of Lt. Newton to avoid a night action on the surace due to the large silhoutte of Cachalot. It was his intention to arrive on the enemy’s track of advance two hours ahead of him. Then turn on spotting the enemy and proceed on his course while charging. Lt Newton wanted to be 8 nautical miles ahead of the enemy at dawn, dive and attack submerged.

Lt. Newton expected to intercept the enemy at 0230 hours. He had given orders to call him to be bridge at 0200 hours. He had gone to sleep on the bridge as tomorrow would be ‘a busy day’.

At 0155 hours the officer of the watch, T/Lt. R.D.C. Hart, RNVR, sounded the night alarm and called Lt. Newton. He reported a destroyer very close. Cachalot then dived. Trim was obtained with great difficulty. There were also problems with the hydrophones and hydroplanes and due to an error in drill the battery was almost depleted.

When Cachalot surfaced around 0250 hours it was thought the enemy must have passed by now so course was set down the expected enemy’s course at full speed to try to catch up. If the enemy was not sighted within the hour the action was to be broken off given the depleted battery. The best lookouts were called to the bridge.

Around 0335 hours the starboard lookout reported an enemy tanker bearing green 120 degrees. The ship was seen by all the others on the bridge and appeared to be a heavily laden tanker. Cachalot then turned to follow, closing up all look-outs temporarily on the port side to search for escorts of which nothing had been nor was seen. A 20 minute chase through patches of mist followed and Lt. Newton considered that whatever the escort it might have lost touch with the tanker.

Owning to the patchy visibility Lt. Newton decided that, in order to keep the enemy in sight, she must be slowed down as soon as possible so he ordered to man the deck gun. Four rounds were fired bearing green 30 for a range of 1500 yards. After the fourth round the gun crew sighted the ship and fire was continued by them in ‘independent’. The eleventh round appeared to be a hit and dense clouds of smoke appeared amidships. The enemy appeared to be altering course towards Cachalot as if he was to ram. Cachalot then also turned to counter this thread. However the enemy was lost out of sight in the smoke almost at once.

One minute later a torpedo-boat was seen coming towards at high speed at a range of only 800 yards. When Cachalot was able to dive the torpedo-boat was only 300 yards away. It was now no longer possible to dive and escape. Before she was going to be rammed and order was given to abandon ship.

The enemy torpedo-boat, realising that Cachalot was not diving, and not wishing to collide with a larger ship in full buoyancy at high speed, had gone full astern and finally rammed Cachalot in ‘Z’ tank at a speed of about 4 knots. She then remained stopped 20 feet astern with all her armament trained on Cachalot whose own gun would not bear. The crew meanwhile continued to abandon ship.

Lt. Newton went below to inspect any damage and to ensure that the ship had been abandoned. The pressure hull had not been punctured but there was little doubt that ‘Z’ tank had been holed. It was therefore certain that when Cachalot was to dive trim coud not be held and depth control would be lost.

When Lt. Newton returned to the bridge he decided that he would attempt a static dive together with the First Lieutenant, giving the Italians the appearance of having scuttled the ship with key ratings only on board and hoping to be able to get away on a main ballast trim. However in the abandonment of the submarine all hatches had been open, which greatly complicated this evolution.

Whilst it was being organised the Italians opened fire with the torpedo boat’s entire anti-aircrat armament. Fortunately all shots went high, causing no casualties. It would have required several minutes to organise and carry out Lt. Newton’s orders and he realised that the enemy became very impatient and would never allow the amount of time needed. Main vents were then opened and Cachalot sank bows first in 200 fathoms of water. No debris appeared on the surface.

All passengers and crew, with the exception of one passenger, were saved by the Italians. They were very well treated. Lt. Newton was ordered to the bridge and on fiding out that one of Cachalot’s passengers was missing the Italian commanding officer ordered a thorough search of the area.

During conversation with the Italian commanding officer it became apparent to Lt. Newton that the tanker that was sighted was in fact this Italian torpedo-boat proceeding northward to rendez-vous with the incoming transport ship. The hit that was thought to have been obtained and the smoke that followed were in fact the Italians laying a smoke screen in which they retired to counter attack and to try to ram her attacker.

Lt. Newton was part of a P.O.W. exchange with the Italians on 28 March 1943.


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