Allied Warships

HMS Subtle (P 251)

Submarine of the S class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeSubmarine
ClassS 
PennantP 251 
Built byCammell Laird Shipyard (Birkenhead, U.K.) 
Ordered19 Oct 1942 
Laid down1 Feb 1943 
Launched27 Jan 1944 
Commissioned16 Apr 1944 
End service 
History

This ship is listed as being a member of the fourth group despite that she had the external stern torpedo tube fitted like in the third group.

Scrapped in July 1959.  

Commands listed for HMS Subtle (P 251)

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CommanderFromTo
1Lt. Bruce John Bevis Andrew, DSC, RN15 Jan 1944Nov 1945

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Noteable events involving Subtle include:


14 Apr 1944
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) departed her builders yard for Holy Loch. (1)

15 Apr 1944
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) arrived at Holy Loch to begin a period of trials and training. (1)

23 Jun 1944
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) departed Holy Loch for her 1st war patrol. This was a work-up patrol East of the Shetland Islands.

Subtle made the passage North along the West coast of Scotland together with HMS Supreme (Lt.Cdr. T.E. Barlow, RN) that was to proceed to Scapa Flow. The submarines were escorted by HMS Sardonyx (A/Lt.Cdr. T.A. Easton, RNVR).

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


HMS Subtle 1st war patrol click here for bigger map (2)

10 Jul 1944
At 1000 hours HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) made rendez-vous with herescort, HMS Shikari (Lt. E.H.U. Cautley, RNVR), in position 59°00'N, 01°00'W. They then both proceeded to Holy Loch. (2)

11 Jul 1944
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) ended her 1st war patrol at Holy Loch.

22 Jul 1944
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) departed Holy Loch for Malta. She made the passage in convoy KMS 58.

This was the first leg of the trip to the Far East.

For the daily positions of HMS Subtle during this passage see the map below.


HMS Subtle passage Holy Loch - Trincomalee click here for bigger map (2)

7 Aug 1944
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) arrived at Malta. (2)

15 Aug 1944
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) departed Malta for Port Said. (2)

20 Aug 1944
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) arrived at Port Said. (2)

22 Aug 1944
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) departed Port Said for Aden. (2)

27 Aug 1944
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) arrived at Aden. (2)

30 Aug 1944
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) departed Aden for Colombo. (2)

10 Sep 1944
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) arrived at Colombo. (2)

13 Sep 1944
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) departed Colombo for Trincomalee. (2)

15 Sep 1944
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) arrived at Trincomalee. (2)

25 Sep 1944
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) conducted exercises off Trincomalee. (3)

26 Sep 1944
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) conducted exercises off Trincomalee. (3)

5 Oct 1944
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) departed Trincomalee for her 2nd war patrol (1st in the Far East). She was ordered to patrol in the Andaman Sea.

For the daily and attack positions of HMS Subtle during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Subtle 2nd war patrol click here for bigger map (2)

11 Oct 1944
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) attacked a Japanese minesweeper with three torpedoes off Sabang. This was most likely the Japanese minesweeper W 34 (offsite link) which was not hit.

(All times are zone -6.5)
0603 hours - Sighted masts and funnels of two ships to the Southward. Started attack. Later another escort was seen astern of these two ships. There was a very bad mirage effect, and it was not possible for a long time to identify the targets or to estimate range or course. When they got closer the ships were identified as a small coaster of about 300 tons escorted by a minesweeper which was weaving on the Starboard beam and followed, about a mile astern, by a submarine chaser. The coaster was rather small and the minesweeper was chosen as the main target.

0627 hours - In position 05°52'N, 95°24'E fired three torpedoes from about 4000 yards. During the attack HMS Subtle lost trim and was taken deep. 1 Minute and 45 seconds after firing a torpedo explosion was heard giving a running range of 2800 yards. It was thought the target had been hit and sunk but this was not the case. Subtle was taken to 350 feet. 17 Depth charges were dropped following this attack. They were reasonably close but no too close to cause damage. (2)

15 Oct 1944
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) attacked a convoy of 5 coasters with 5 torpedoes aboout 5 nautical miles to the East of Nancrowy. The results were unclear.

(All times are zone -6.5)
0915 hours - Sighted numerous masts and funnels approaching Nancrowy. Closed to investigate. Owning to the swell it was very difficult to identify the targets at first. They were later seen to be 5 coasters of about 300 to 400 tons in line ahead escorted by 3 submarine chasers. Started attack.

1023 hours - Fired 5 torpedoes at the 5 coasters that were so close together that they formed almost a single target. Three torpedo explosions were heard but the results could not be observed as Subtle had been taken deep on firing.

(2)

16 Oct 1944
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) was ordered to perform air/sea rescue duties during the next three days. (2)

29 Oct 1944
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) ended her 2nd war patrol (1st in the Far East) at Trincomalee. (2)

23 Nov 1944
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) was docked at Trincomalee. (4)

27 Nov 1944
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) was undocked. (4)

29 Nov 1944
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) conducted exercises off Trincomalee. (4)

1 Dec 1944
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) departed Trincomalee for her 3rd war patrol (2nd in the Far East). She was ordered to patrol in the Malacca Strait.

For the daily and attack positions of HMS Subtle during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Subtle 3rd war patrol click here for bigger map (2)

12 Dec 1944
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) sank a sailing vessel with demolition charges off Langkawi.

(All times are zone -6.5)
1802 hours - Surfaced in position 06°25'N, 99°32'E. Boarded and sank a 10 tons junk with demolition charges. The junk was in ballast. The crew left in a small boat.
(2)

13 Dec 1944
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) sank a sailing vessel with demolition charges between Langkawi and Penang.

(All times are zone -6.5)
1801 hours - Surfaced in position 05°52'N, 100°08'E. Boarded and sank a 10 tons junk with demolition charges. The junk was carrying oil. The crew left in a small boat.
(2)

14 Dec 1944
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) sank a sailing vessel with demolition charges off Langkawi.

(All times are zone -6.5)
1634 hours - Surfaced. Boarded and sank a 14 tons junk with demolition charges. The junk was carrying sugar. The crew was taken on board and put on board a small fishing boat early the next morning.
(2)

20 Dec 1944
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) was ordered to perform air/sea rescue duties off Northern Sumatra. (2)

24 Dec 1944
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) ended her 3rd war patrol (2nd in the Far East) at Trincomalee. (2)

17 Jan 1945
During 17 and 18 January 1945 HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) conducted exercises off Trincomalee. These included night exercises. (5)

19 Jan 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) departed Trincomalee for her 4th war patrol (3rd in the Far East). She was ordered to patrol in the Malacca Strait.

For the daily and attack positions of HMS Subtle during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Subtle 4th war patrol click here for bigger map (2)

31 Jan 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) was ordered to perform air/sea rescue duties between Langkawi and Phuket. (2)

1 Feb 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) sank a sailing vessel with demolition charges between Langkawi and Phuket.

(All times are zone -6.5)
1920 hours - In position 07°00'N, 98°59'E sank a 20 tons junk with demolition charges. She was carrying a cargo of oil. Took of 4 Chinese crew members. They were transferred to a sampan the next day.
(2)

2 Feb 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) sank a sailing vessel with demolition charges off Langkawi.

(All times are zone -6.5)
0550 hours - In position 06°01'N, 99°59'E sank a 15 tons junk with demolition charges. Took of 5 Chinese crew members. They were transferred to a sampan several hours later.
(2)

3 Feb 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) sank a sailing vessel with demolition charges off Langkawi.

(All times are zone -6.5)
1614 hours - In position 06°05'N, 100°09'E sank a 10 tons junk with demolition charges. The cargo was soap and cement. Took of 4 Chinese crew members and transferred them to another small junk.
(2)

4 Feb 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) sank a sailing vessel with demolition charges off Penang.

(All times are zone -6.5)
0250 hours - In position 05°09'N, 99°40'E sank an empty 25 tons junk with demolition charges. The crew was placed in their small boat and given provisions.
(2)

7 Feb 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) possibly torpedoed and sank one or more coaster(s) North-West of Sabang in position 06°28'N, 94°55'E.

(All times are zone -6.5)
1745 hours - Sighted a convoy of six 400 tons coasters escorted by two armed trawlers. Decided not to attack with the gun because of the two trailers.

1859 hours - The last four ships of the convoy formed an unbroken target so fired six torpedoes from 2000 yards. Three explosions were heard at the correct running range. The results could not be observed as Subtle went to 300 feet upon firing. One of the escorts dropped three depth charges but these were way off. (2)

11 Feb 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) ended her 4th war patrol (3rd in the Far East) at Trincomalee. (2)

28 Feb 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) conducted exercises off Trincomalee. (6)

4 Mar 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) departed Trincomalee for her 5th war patrol (4th in the Far East). She was ordered to patrol in the Malacca Strait.

For the daily and attack positions of HMS Subtle during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Subtle 5th war patrol click here for bigger map (2)

10 Mar 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) was ordered to perform air/sea rescue duties during 10 - 12 March 1945. (2)

14 Mar 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) sank three sailing vessels with gunfire in the Strait of Malacca South-East of the Sembilan Islands. Four others were damaged.

(All times are zone -6.5)
1719 hours - Surfaced in position 03°55'N, 100°39'E and gunned seven junks at anchor. Each junk was about 30 tons. Three were sunk, the other four were damaged. In all 50 rounds were fired.
(2)

21 Mar 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) sank a sailing vessel with demolition charges in the Malacca Strait.

(All times are zone -6.5)
0725 hours - Surfaced in position 02°52'N, 100°01'E and sank a 30 tons junk at anchor with demolition charges. The cargo was rice. The crew of 3 made off in their small boat.
(2)

29 Mar 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) ended her 5th war patrol (4th in the Far East) at Trincomalee. (2)

20 Apr 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) was docked at Trincomalee. (7)

23 Apr 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) was undocked. (7)

24 Apr 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) departed Trincomalee for her 6th war patrol (5th in the Far East). She was ordered to patrol in the Malacca Strait.

For the daily and attack positions of HMS Subtle during this patrol see the map below.


HMS Subtle 6th war patrol click here for bigger map (2)

10 May 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) sighted the Japanese heavy cruiser Haguro (offsite link). A torpedo attack was started but had to be broken off at the last moment when the target altered course away.

(All times are zone -6.5)
1320 hours - Sighted three Jake seaplanes patrolling the area from now on. This might indicate that some big prey is coming our way.

1402 hours - Sighted two submarine chasers proceeding South.

1615 hours - The submarine chasers returned to our area.

1640 hours - In position 03°09'N, 100°47'E sighted a Japanese Nachi-class heavy cruiser. She was escorted by the two submarine chasers sighted earlier as well as a destroyer. Started attack.

1704 hours - When about to fire a salvo of torpedoes the target turned away. Five distant depth charges were dropped. The attack was broken off. (2)

12 May 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) attacked but missed the Japanese heavy cruiser Haguro (offsite link) with 6 torpedoes in the Malacca Strait.

(All times are zone -6.5)
0640 hours - In position 03°13'N, 100°39'E sighted a Japanese Nachi-class heavy cruiser escorted by a destroyer. Also 3 Jake seaplanes were patrolling the area. Started attack.

0704 hours - Fired 6 torpedoes from 2000 yards. 2 Explosions were heard more than 6 minutes after firing but the results could not be observed as Subtle was taken deep after firing. 2 A/S vessels immediately started a counter attack.

0730 hours - An A/S vessel passed directly overhead dropping 9 depth charges extremely close.

0750 hours - An A/S vessel passed directly overhead dropping 4 depth charges. Again very close. Considerable minor internal damage was caused by these attacks, mostly electrical.

1015 hours - Returned to periscope depth to find nothing in sight except 3 patrolling Jake aircraft. Withdrew to the North-West. (2)

13 May 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) had to jettison her stern torpedo as it was found to be half out of the tube, most likely due to yesterday's depth charging. (2)

16 May 1945
On 9 May 1945 the Japanese heavy cruiser Haguro and the Japanese destroyer Kamikaze (both offsite links) left Singapore for a transport run to the Andaman Islands. They were sighted the next day in Malakka Strait by the British submarines HMS Statesman (Lt. R.G.P. Bulkeley, RN) and HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN). To intercept the Japanese ships a task force made up of 2 battleships, 1 heavy cruiser, 2 light cruisers, 4 escort carriers and 8 destroyers left Trincomalee. Aircraft from the escort carriers attacked the Nicobar Islands on the 11th, forcing Haguro and Kamikaze to head back to Singapore.

On the 14th the Japanese ships again depart from Singapore for the Andaman Islands. They were spotted the next day north-east of Sabang by aircraft the British escort carrier HMS Shah (Capt. W.J. Yendell, RN). A few hours later they were attacked by aircraft from the British escort carrier HMS Emperor (Capt. Sir C. Madden, RN) causing light damaged to Haguro. In the meantime Japanese aircraft have sighted Allied destroyers closing in on Haguro and once again the Japanese ships reverse course.

In anticipation on the Japanese reversal of course the commander of the British 26th DF, Capt. M.L. Power, CBE, DSO with Bar, RN on board HMS Saumarez and the other British destroyers HMS Venus (Cdr. H.G.D. De Chair, DSC with Bar, RN), HMS Verulam (Lt.Cdr. D.H.R. Bromley, DSC, RN), HMS Vigilant (Lt.Cdr. L.W.L. Argles, DSC, RN) and HMS Virago (Lt.Cdr. A.J.R. White, DSC, RN) plotted a course to intercept the Japanese ships which they did shortly before midnight on the 15th. After careful manoeuvring the destroyers began attacking the Japanese ships from all sides shortly after one o'clock on the 16th. The Haguro was hit by torpedoed and gunfire and sank around 0230hours in position 04°49'N, 99°42'E but not before she hit the Saumarez with gunfire. The escorting Japanese destroyer Kamikaze escapes with only minor damage.

24 May 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) ended her 6th war patrol (5th in the Far East) at Trincomalee. (2)

29 May 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) was docked at Trincomalee to inspect damage to the pressure hull inflicted by the depth charging of May 12th.

The date of undocking is unknown to us as there is no log available for June to August 1945. (8)

21 Jul 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) departed Trincomalee for her 7th war patrol (6th in the Far East). She was ordered to perform a weather reporting mission to the North-West of Sumatra.

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


HMS Subtle 7th war patrol click here for bigger map (2)

15 Aug 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) ended her 7th war patrol (6th in the Far East) at Trincomalee. (2)

1 Sep 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) departed Trincomalee for Aden. This was the first leg of the trip back to the U.K. (1)

13 Sep 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) arrived at Aden. She departed for Port Said later the same day. (1)

19 Sep 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) arrived at Port Said. (1)

20 Sep 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) departed Port Said for Alexandria. (1)

21 Sep 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) arrived at Alexandria. (1)

1 Oct 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) departed Alexandria for Malta. (1)

4 Oct 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) arrived at Malta. (1)

7 Oct 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) departed Malta for Gibraltar. (1)

11 Oct 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) arrived at Gibraltar. (1)

12 Oct 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) Gibraltar for Portsmouth. (1)

16 Oct 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) arrived at Portsmouth. (1)

24 Oct 1945
HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) arrived at Harwich where she was placed in reserve around mid November. (1)

Sources

  1. ADM 199/2571
  2. ADM 199/1873A
  3. ADM 173/18881
  4. ADM 173/18883
  5. ADM 173/19769
  6. ADM 173/19770
  7. ADM 173/19772
  8. ADM 199/1918

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


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