Allied Warships

HMS Traveller (N 48)

Submarine of the T class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeSubmarine
ClassT 
PennantN 48 
Built byScotts Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. (Greenock, Scotland) 
Ordered4 Sep 1939 
Laid down17 Jan 1940 
Launched27 Aug 1941 
Commissioned10 Apr 1942 
Lost12 Dec 1942 
History

HMS Traveller (Lt.Cdr. Drummond St.Clair-Ford, RN) left Malta on 28 November 1942 for a patrol in the Gulf of Taranto. She also had to reconnoitre Taranto harbour for a Chariot human torpedo attack (Operation Portcullis). She was reported overdue on 12 December and is presumed lost on Italian mines in her patrol area.

 

Commands listed for HMS Traveller (N 48)

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

CommanderFromTo
1Lt.Cdr. George David Archibald Gregory, DSO, RN19 Nov 194121 Apr 1942
2Lt. Michael Beauchamp St. John, RN21 Apr 194226 Nov 1942
3Lt.Cdr. Drummond St. Clair-Ford, RN26 Nov 194212 Dec 1942

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Notable events involving Traveller include:


The history of HMS Traveller as compiled on this page is extracted from the patrol reports and logbooks of this submarine. Corrections and details regarding information from the enemy's side (for instance the composition of convoys attacked) is kindly provided by Mr. Platon Alexiades, a naval researcher from Canada.

This page was last updated in February 2016.

14 May 1942
After a work up period in the Clyde area HMS Traveller (Lt. M.B. St. John, RN) departed Holy Loch for Gibraltar. She makes the first part of the passage through the Irish sea together with HMS P 211 (Cdr. B. Bryant, DSC, RN) and HMS P 43 (Lt. A.C. Halliday, DSC and Bar, RN). They were escorted until Bishops Rock by the British minesweeper/escort vessel HMS La Capricieuse (former French) (Lt.Cdr. G.W. Dobson, RNR). (1)

24 May 1942
HMS Traveller (Lt. M.B. St. John, RN) arrived at Gibraltar (2)

2 Jun 1942
HMS Traveller (Lt. M.B. St. John, RN) conducted exercises off Gibraltar together with HMS P 42 (Lt. A.C.G. Mars, RN) and P 43 (Lt. A.C. Halliday, RN). (3)

3 Jun 1942
HMS Traveller (Lt. M.B. St. John, RN) departed Gibraltar for her 1st war patrol. This is a work-up patrol in the Alboran Sea.

As no log is available for this period no map can be displayed. (4)

11 Jun 1942
HMS Traveller (Lt. M.B. St. John, RN) ended her 1st war patrol at Gibraltar. (4)

19 Jun 1942
HMS Traveller (Lt. M.B. St. John, RN) departed Gibraltar for Alexandria where she is to join the First Submarine Flotilla. While on passage she was diverted to Haifa (arrival date unknown to us). (2)

7 Jul 1942
On or around this date HMS Traveller (Lt. M.B. St. John, RN) is expected to arrive at Haifa. The exact date she arrived is (so far) unknown to us. (2)

19 Jul 1942
HMS Traveller (Lt. M.B. St. John, RN) departed Haifa for her 2nd war patrol. She was ordered to patrol in the Adriatic. En-route to her patrol area she is to patrol along the North coast of Crete.

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


View HMS Traveller 2nd war patrol in a larger map (5)

28 Jul 1942
While in transit through the Otranto Straits to her patrol area HMS Traveller (Lt. M.B. St. John, RN) is detected on the surface by an Italian 'destroyer'. Traveller dived and a few depth charges were dropped but these inflicted no damage.

later on the same day she attacks the Italian merchant Ezilda Croce (1230 GRT, built 1900), on passage from Bari to Valona, in the Otranto Strait. The torpedoes fired however miss their target. [On board the merchant ship, the lookout Santo LaTerra reported a torpedo track missing the ship ahead by 20 meters. An escorting aircraft dropped bombs on the submarine.]

(All times are zone -3)
0500 hours - In position 40°26'N, 18°46'E sighted an enemy patrol vessel, maybe a destroyer. Dived and started attack.

0510 hours - The enemy dropped a depth charge followed by 4 more at 4 minute intervals. No damage was done but it appeared the enemy had sighted or heard Traveller. Lt. St. John took avoiding action and when he returned to periscope depth 10 minutes after the last depth charge was dropped there was nothing in sight. As it was getting light he remained down and continued the passage North.

--------------------------------------------

1029 hours - In position 40°35'N, 18°38'E sighted an Eastbound merchant ships of 5000 tons. Started attack.

During the attack four torpedoes were fired from 4500 yards. No hits were obtained. Lt. St. John later noticed that the target was smaller than he thought, 1500 to 2000 tons. (5)

30 Jul 1942
At 0930 hours, in position 43°50'N, 14°55'E, the conning tower of an Italian submarine (probably Archimede class) was sighted steering 170°, bearing 260° at a range of 10,000 yards. HMS Traveller (Lt. M.B. St. John, RN) could not close the range. This was most probably the Italian submarine Topazio on passage from Fiume to Naples. (5)

31 Jul 1942
While operating in the Adriatic HMS Traveller (Lt. M.B. St. John, RN) fires 6 torpedoes at the Italian gunboat Cattaro (former Yugoslavian cruiser Dalmacija, ex German Niobe) in approximate position 44°36'N, 13°54'E. The torpedoes however missed their target. [Cattaro sighted two torpedo tracks, Italian records do not mention the presence of escort vessels but the Italian submarines Diaspro, Porfido and Delfino were exercising in the same area and were put on the alert. The brand new Italian torpedo boat Tifone was ordered to hunt the submarine.]

(All times are zone -3)
0914 hours - Sighted a cruiser escorted by three destroyers steering a course of 170°. Started attack.

0942 hours - Fired six torpedoes from outside the destroyer screen, range was 4000 yards. Two hits were claimed. One of the torpedoes had a gyro failure and ran overhead Traveller and then along the Port side. A counter attack followed in which eleven depth charges were dropped but these did no damage.

1025 hours - Returned to periscope depth and saw the cruiser stopped in roughly the same position as when attacked. A destroyer was nearby. (5)

3 Aug 1942
HMS Traveller (Lt. M.B. St. John, RN) attacked the German merchant Pluto (1156 GRT, built 1905) with two torpedoes off Mulo Island. No hits were obtained. [The German ship sighted the two torpedo tracks and gave the alarm. The coastal battery at Scoglio Mulo fired three shells at the submarine.]

(All times are zone -3)
0836 hours - In position 220° Mulo Island 2.5 nautical miles (approximately 43°29'N, 15°52'E) sighted a 3000 tons merchant vessel steaming to the North-West. Unable to attack.

0845 hours - Sighted a second 3000 tons merchant vessel also steaming to the North-West. Started attack in which two torpedoes were fired from 2600 yards. No hits were obtained. (5)

5 Aug 1942
HMS Traveller (Lt. M.B. St. John, RN) attacked the Italian submarine Porfido in the Adriatic Sea, about 25 nautical miles North-East of Pescara, Italy in position 42°48'N, 14°31'E. Two torpedoes were fired which missed astern. Traveller then surfaced for gun action. 15 rounds were fired before the target dived. [Porfido was on passage from Susak (near Fiume) to Cagliari. The Italian submarine dived as soon as Traveller opened fire and suffered no damage.]

(All times are zone -3)
1045 hours - In position 42°48'N, 14°31'E sighted a submarine (thought to be German). Started attack in which two torpedoes were fired from 2300 yards. Both missed astern.

1059 hours - Surfaced for gun action. 15 Rounds were fired, with one possible hit, before the target dived.

1103 hours - Dived (5)

7 Aug 1942
HMS Traveller (Lt. M.B. St. John, RN) attacked an Italian submarine in the Otranto Strait in position 39°52'N, 18°58'E. Three torpedoes were fired but no hits were obtained. [This was most likely Porfido again but this time the attack was not observed.]

(All times are zone -3)
0637 hours - In position 39°52'N, 18°58'E sighted an Italian submarine (thought to be a Foca-class mine laying submarine). Started attack in which three torpedoes were fired. Only one torpedo was heard to run. No hits were obtained. When first sighted again after Traveller returned to periscope depth the target was seen to have zigged 60° away. A gun action was now out of the question.
(5)

14 Aug 1942
HMS Traveller (Lt. M.B. St. John, RN) ended her 2nd war patrol at Beirut. (5)

30 Aug 1942
HMS Traveller (Lt. M.B. St. John, RN) departed Beirut for her 3rd war patrol. She was ordered to patrol off the North-African coast in the Tobruk area. Later she was ordered to patrol North of Crete.

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


View HMS Traveller 3rd war patrol in a larger map (5)

3 Sep 1942
At 0955 hours, HMS Traveller HMS Traveller (Lt. M.B. St. John, RN) was off Tobruk, patrolling at periscope depth when she was bombed by an unseen aircraft. There was no damage. (5)

5 Sep 1942
HMS Traveller (Lt. M.B. St. John, RN) torpedoed and sank the Italian merchant Albachiara (1245 GRT, built 1904) about 30 nautical miles North-East of Derna, Libya in position 33°02'N, 23°13'E.

Later on the same day two torpedoes were fired against a merchant vessel about 50 nautical miles North-West of Derna, Libya in position 33°17'N, 21°59'E.

(All times are zone -3)
0235 hours - Fired four torpedoes against deeply laden merchant vessel of 5000 to 6000 tons from 1000 yards. Two hits were obtained. An escorting destroyer was also present at the scene and came in rushing towards Traveller which crash dived.

11 depth charges were dropped in the counter attack but these did no damage. Shortly after diving breaking up noises were heard.

[According to Italian sources, Albachiara was on passage from Benghazi to Tobruk escorted by the torpedo boat Generale Carlo Montanari. She sank in four minutes. The torpedo boat sighted the conning tower breaking surface and rushed to ram but the submarine disappeared quickly. Montanari dropped a smoke float to mark the spot and dropped seven depth charges, the first set at 25 meters, the second at 50 meters and the remainder at 75 meters. The torpedo boat had to wait to daybreak to pick up the 26 survivors, 10 were missing.]

---------------------------------------

2140 hours - In position 33°17'N, 21°59'E sighted a 3000 tons merchant vessel. She appeared to be in ballast and was escorted by two destroyers, one on either bow. Started an attack.

2147 hours - Fired two torpedoes from 2000 yards and dived upon firing. No hits were obtained although some men in the submarine reported hearing a muffled thud. No counter attack followed. [The target has not yet been identified.] (5)

17 Sep 1942
At 2205 hours, 2.5 miles south of Cape Archangelo (Rhodes), HMS Traveller (Lt. M.B. St. John, RN) picked up Lt. David Sutherland and Marine Duggan of the SBS (Special Boat Service, operation ANGLO), ten other members of the party failed to make the rendezvous and were captured. (5)

20 Sep 1942
HMS Traveller (Lt. M.B. St. John, RN) ended her 3rd war patrol at Beirut. (5)

4 Oct 1942
HMS Traveller (Lt. M.B. St. John, RN) departed Beirut for her 4th war patrol. She was ordered to patrol off Crete.

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


View HMS Traveller 4th war patrol in a larger map (4)

9 Oct 1942
HMS Traveller (Lt. M.B. St. John, RN) attacks the Italian tanker Proserpina (4870 GRT, former French Beauce, built 1926), that is escorted the Italian torpedo boats Castore and Ciclone, with four torpedoes west of Crete in position 35°45'N, 23°13'E. None of the torpedoes fired hit the target.

(All times are zone -3)
1450 hours - Sighted two aircraft bearing 160°. Given their movements it appeared they were escorting a convoy that was about to enter the Anti-Kythira Channel. Traveller went deep and proceeded to the South-East.

1521 hours - Returned to periscope depth in position 35°45'N, 23°13E and sighted one tanker and two Grecale-class destroyers bearing 195° (Actually these were Spica-class torpedo boats as mentioned above). They were steering 327° towards Kythira. The size of the tanker was estimated at 6000 tons and she was in ballast. Started attack in which four torpedoes were fired from 2000 yards. Traveller went deep upon firing. Two explosions were heard that were thought to be hits (most likely these were bombs dropped by the escorting aircraft).

A counter attack followed in which 29 depth charges were dropped. Only minor damage was done to Traveller by this depth-charging.

[According to Italian sources the torpedo boat Castore sighted a torpedo track on the starboard side and dropped three patterns of depth charges. Ciclone ordered her to remain in the area until dusk.} (4)

11 Oct 1942
HMS Traveller (Lt. M.B. St. John, RN) attacked the German auxiliary minelayer Bulgaria with two torpedoes to the West of Crete in position 35°31'N, 23°25'E. No hits are obtained.

(All times are zone -3)
0820 hours - In position 35°31'N, 23°25'E an armed yacht of about 700 tons appeared out of a heavy rain squall to the South-West. Started attack in which 2 torpedoes were fired from 1300 yards. Both missed as they were evaded by the enemy. Following this attack Traveller was attacked by an escorting aircraft that was not seen before the attack. Four bombs were dropped but these did no damage. The yacht retired towards Pondikonisi Island, Traveller retired at speed to the West.

[Bulgaria was escorted by the submarine chasers UJ 2102 and UJ 2107. Bulgaria turned hard to port and the first torpedo missed her 2-3 metres astern and the second five metres ahead.] (4)

15 Oct 1942
HMS Traveller (Lt. M.B. St. John, RN) attacks an Italian convoy to the West of Crete in position 35°09'N, 22°56'E. 4 torpedoes were fired against the Italian merchant Anna Maria (1205 GRT, 1912). No hits were obtained.

(All times are zone -3)
2045 hours - In position 35°09'N, 22°56'E encountered a merchant ship, in ballast, escorted by two destroyers. The merchant vessel appeared to be of about 5000 tons. Started attack.

The range could not be closed any further so 4 torpedoes were fired from 3000 yards. No hits were obtained and no counter attack followed.

[The Anna Maria was escorted by the torpedo boats Libra and Climene, the latter observed the four torpedo tracks. They were on passage from Tobruk to Piraeus.] (4)

26 Oct 1942
HMS Traveller (Lt. M.B. St. John, RN) ended her 4th war patrol at Port Said. She is almost immediately put into dry-dock for the fitting of petrol tanks to enable her to transport petrol to Malta. (6)

31 Oct 1942
HMS Traveller (Lt. M.B. St. John, RN) left dock. (6)

13 Nov 1942
HMS Traveller (Lt. M.B. St. John, RN) departed Port Said with a cargo of aviation spirit for Malta. (2)

23 Nov 1942
HMS Traveller (Lt. M.B. St. John, RN) arrived at Malta. (2)

28 Nov 1942
HMS Traveller (Lt.Cdr. D. St.Clair-Ford, RN) sailed from Malta for her 5th war patrol. She was to pass through positions 35°16' N, 15°12' E and 39°34' N, 17°48' E to carry out a preliminary reconnaissance of Taranto for Special Operation Principal (projected attacks on Italian ports by Chariot human torpedoes).

Lt.Cdr. St.Clair-Ford had taken over from Lt. St.John as the latter had developed desentery.

Captain S.10's signal timed 0955A/8 December ordered her to withdraw at once and report by at 0100A/9 when clear of the Gulf of Taranto. She never answered and she is believed to have been mined.

Media links


The T-class Submarine

Kemp, Paul J.

Sources

  1. ADM 199/627
  2. ADM 199/2572
  3. ADM 173/17392
  4. ADM 199/1849
  5. ADM 199/1220
  6. ADM 173/17634

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


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