Allied Warships

HMS Trooper (N 91)

Submarine of the T class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeSubmarine
ClassT 
PennantN 91 
Built byScotts Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. (Greenock, Scotland) 
Ordered4 Sep 1939 
Laid down7 May 1940 
Launched5 Mar 1942 
Commissioned29 Aug 1942 
Lost17 Oct 1943 
History

HMS Trooper (Lt. John Somerton Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) sailed from Beirut on 26 September 1943 for a patrol in the Aegean Sea off the Dodecanese islands, including the Leros area. She failed to return on 17th October and was reported overdue on that day. She is presumed lost on German mines East of Leros. The exact date of her loss is not known. It must have been between 14 and 17 October.

However the Germans claim that HMS Trooper was sunk by Q-ship GA.45 on 15 October 1943. But this claim to have sunk Trooper is erroneous. GA-45 carried out an attack on a submarine 2.5 miles south of Kalymnos on 15th October. The Germans were unaware of the identity of the submarine or whether it had been destroyed. The attack was made initially with depth charges, then when the submarine surfaced with gunfire. The submarine in question was HMS Torbay (Lt. Clutterbuck) and she was not damaged during this encounter.  

Commands listed for HMS Trooper (N 91)

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CommanderFromTo
1Lt. John Somerton Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN18 Jun 1942Feb 1943
2Lt. Reginald Peter Webb, RNFeb 1943Feb 1943
3Lt. John Somerton Wraith, DSO, DSC, RNFeb 194323 Jun 1943
4Lt. Guy Stewart Chetwode Clarabut, RN23 Jun 1943Aug 1943
5Lt. John Somerton Wraith, DSO, DSC, RNAug 194317 Oct 1943 (+)

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Notable events involving Trooper include:


The history of HMS Trooper as compiled on this page is extracted from Troopers patrol reports and logbooks. 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.

29 Aug 1942
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) shifted from her builders yard at Greenock to Holy Loch. She then commenced a period of trials and training. (1)

7 Sep 1942
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) shifted from Holy Loch to Arrochar for her torpedo discharge trials. (2)

17 Sep 1942
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) completed her torpedo discharge trials and returned to Holy Loch. (2)

18 Sep 1942
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) shifted from Holy Loch to Kames Bay where she was immediately docked. (2)

19 Sep 1942
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) was undocked at Kames Bay and immediately returned to Holy Loch. (2)

27 Sep 1942
After trails and training HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) returns to her builder for alterations and additions. This will enable her to carry containers for Chariot human torpedoes. (2)

28 Sep 1942
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) was docked at Greenock. (2)

5 Oct 1942
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) was undocked. (3)

6 Oct 1942
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) arrived at Port H.H.Z. (3)

28 Oct 1942
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) completes her modifications at Greenock and returned to Holy Loch. (3)

5 Nov 1942
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) departed from Holy Loch for the secret base of Port H.H.Z. (at Loch Cairnbawn) where she arrived the next day. Here she will take on board her Chariot human torpedoes.

Passage was made together with HMS P 216 (Lt. A.R. Daniell, DSC, RN) and HMS P 312 (Lt.Cdr. R.M. Favell, RN) that were both en-route to Lerwick. They were escorted by HMS La Capricieuse (Lt.Cdr. G.W. Dobson, RNR). (4)

12 Nov 1942
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) departed from Port H.H.Z. bound for Malta. She was ordered not to stop at Gibraltar so not to alert the German and Italian spies stationed in 'neutral' Spain on the Chariot containers on her deck.

Passage south through the Irish sea was made together with HMS P 311 (Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO and 2 Bars, RN). They were escorted by HMS La Capricieuse (Lt.Cdr. G.W. Dobson, RNR).

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


HMS Trooper passage U.K. - Malta click here for bigger map (5)

23 Nov 1942
During the night of 23/24 November 1942 HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) crosses the Straits of Gibraltar escorted by HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN). (5)

2 Dec 1942
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) arrived at Malta. (5)

29 Dec 1942
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) departed from Malta for her 1st war patrol. She is to launch Chariot human torpedoes to attack shipping in Palermo harbour (Operation Principal). (5)

2 Jan 1943
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) launches three Chariots off Palermo, Sicily, Italy. HMS Thunderbolt (Lt.Cdr. C.B. Crouch, DSO and Bar, RN) carries out a simultaneous attack.

Chariot XVI (Sub.Lt. R.G. Dove, RNVR and Leading Seaman J. Freel) managed to enter the harbour and mine and damage the Italian troop transport Viminale. They were later captured by the Italians.

Chariot IXX (T.Lt. H.F. Cook, RNVR and Able Seaman Worthy). T/Lt Cook drowned when his suit was torn getting through the boom defence nets defending the harbour, but Able Seaman Worthy drove the Chariot ashore and blew it up prior to being captured himself.

Chariot XXIII (Sub.Lt. H.L.H Stevens, RNVR and Leading Seaman Carter) had to abandon the attack due to mechanical failure and her crew was picked up by HMS P 46 (5)

7 Jan 1943
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) ended her 1st war patrol at Malta. Here the Chariot containers are removed before she departed from on her next patrol. (5)

3 Feb 1943
HMS Trooper (Lt. R.P. Webb, RN) departed from Malta for her 2nd war patrol. She is to patrol off the West coast of Greece.

Lt. Webb was temporarily in command of Trooper as Lt. Wraith was sick.

Before proceeding on patrol A/S exercises were carried out with HMS Speedy (Lt. J.G. Brookes, RN) and HMS Hebe (Lt.Cdr. G. Mowatt, RNR).

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


HMS Trooper 2nd war patrol click here for bigger map (5)

14 Feb 1943
HMS Trooper (Lt. R.P. Webb, RN) makes a torpedo attack on the Italian merchant Rosandra (8034 GRT, built 1921) in position 39°06'N, 20°29'E. 6 torpedoes were fired but no hits were obtained.

(All times are zone -1)
1151 hours - Heard HE bearing 345° and sighted a 4000 tons merchant vessel escorted by a 3-funnel torpedo boat, probably and Abba-class vessel. Course was 118°, distance about 4 nautical miles. Closed to attack. Two aircraft were also seen patrolling ahead of the convoy.

1210 hours - Fired 6 torpedoes from 4300 yards.

1214 hours - Head one loud explosion and another one about a minute later. Possibly a hit.

1216 hours - Heard the torpedo boat speed up.

1220 hours - 3 depth charges were dropped.

1221 hours - 3 torpedoes were heard to explode on the shore.

1222 to 1242 hours - 30 depth charges were dropped but none close.

1300 hours - Heard the HE of the torpedo boat fade away bearing 094°.

1312 hours - Came to periscope depth, nothing in sight except a large column of black smoke in the direction of Prevenza.

According to Italian sources the target of this failed attack was the passenger / cargo ship Rosandra. Two torpedo tracks were sighted that were avoided. Escort was the torpedo boat Rosolino Pilo (5)

18 Feb 1943
HMS Trooper (Lt. R.P. Webb, RN) ended her 2nd war patrol at Malta. (5)

4 Mar 1943
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) departed from Malta for her 3rd war patrol. She is to patrol in the Tyrrhenian Sea.

No log is available for this period and the patrol report also holds no noon positions, therefore it is not possible to create a map of this patrol. (5)

6 Mar 1943
While on passage to her patrol area HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) is warned about a convoy to the North-West of her. In the afternoon she is able to sight this convoy about 8 nautical miles away despite the rain. Trooper tries to get into an attack position but is unable to do so, the range is just to great and the convoy slips by. (5)

10 Mar 1943
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) torpedoed and sank the Italian tanker Rosario (5468 GRT, built 1918) 4 nautical miles bearing 040° of Capo Milazzo.

(No time zone mentioned in the patrol report)
1520 hours - Sighted four aircraft circling to the East.

1545 hours - Heard Asdic impulses bearing 070°.

1550 hours - Sighted smoke bearing 070°. Commenced attack.

1615 hours - Visibility improved to the Eastward and six ships were sighted coming towards but they could not be made out.

1620 hours - Heavy rain commenced and nothing could be seen for the next 25 minutes. Asdic impulses and HE however grew louder. The convoy was thought to be on a course of 250° to pass between Cape Milazzo and Isola Vulcano.

1645 hours - It stopped raining and the convoy was sighted again. The convoy did not appear to be formed up properly.

1654 hours - Fired 4 torpedoes against a 3000 ton merchant vessel from 1500 yards. Two explosions were heard at the correct running range. Two minutes later a fairly accurate depth charge attack followed resulting in some minor damage. A hunt by two Asdic fitted ships followed in which 57 depth charges were dropped. Trooper managed to creep away to the North.

According to Italian sources this convoy was made up of the above mentioned tanker Rosario and the Italian merchant Todi (4999 GRT, built 1921, former French Rabelais). Escort was provided by Italian torpedo boat Libra and the German auxiliary submarine chasers UJ 2201, UJ 2202, UJ 2203, UJ 2204 and UJ 2210.
Italian torpedo boat Giuseppe Dezza had also been part of the escort but she had been detached earlier to escort a tanker.
After the attack UJ 2203 and UJ 2210 hunted Trooper.
(5)

15 Mar 1943
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) fires 4 torpedoes against the Italian merchant (reefer) Belluno (4279 GRT, former Danish Fort de France, built 1935) about 30 nautical miles south of Capri, Italy. All torpedoes fired however missed their target. The Belluno was in a convoy en route from Tunisia to Naples.

(No time zone mentioned in the patrol report)
2037 hours - Sighted dark shapes to the Eastward proceeding towards Naples. At least five dark objects were sighted. The second of the shapes was a rather large ship, it was chosen as the target.

2046 hours - Fired four torpedoes at the largest ship. range was about 4 nautical miles.

2048 hours - Dived and turned away. Two explosions were heard thought to be hits on the target. No depth charges were dropped after the attack.

According to Italian sources this convoy consisted of the above mentioned Belluno, Italian merchants Fabriano (2809 GRT, built 1909) and Caterina Costa (8060 GRT, built 1942) and German merchant (reefer) Pierre Claude (1794 GRT, built 1934, former Danish) escorted by Italian torpedo-boats Clio, Orione, Pegaso and Sagittario. The convoy was on passage from Tunis to Naples. (5)

17 Mar 1943
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) torpedoed and sank the Italian merchant Forli (1525 GRT, former French Sebaa, built 1904) about 15 to 20 nautical miles South of Capri, Italy in position 40°16'N, 14°15'E.

(No time zone mentioned in the patrol report)
1110 hours - Sighted three aircraft and smoke to the South-West. Started attack.

1135 hours - The convoy was seen to consist of 4 merchants and 3 destroyers. The merchants were in two columns with one destroyer ahead and one on each quarter.

1211 hours - Fired 3 torpedoes at the leading merchant of the starboard column. Swung to port and fired 3 more torpedoes but now at the second merchant of the same column. Range was about 5000 yards. Three explosions were heard. Lt. Wraith thought he had hit both target and possible one of the escorting destroyers.

Trooper was counter attacked by one of the escorts. 22 Depth charges were dropped over a long period of time. The hunt prevented Lt. Wraith to come to periscope depth to see what damage he had done.

According to Italian sources this convoy was made up of the above mentioned Forli, the Italian merchants Potenza (2114 GRT, built 1921, former French Auvergne) and Ferrara (2993 GRT, built 1909, former French Tourquenois) and the German merchant Teramo (1599 GRT, built 1920, former French Marie-Therese Le Borgne). Escort was provided by the Italian torpedo-boats Libra, Sirio and Cigno. The convoy was on passage from Palermo to Naples. Following this attack Sirio dropped five depth charges. (5)

22 Mar 1943
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) ended her 3rd war patrol at Algiers. (5)

5 Apr 1943
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) departed from Algiers for her 4th war patrol. She is to patrol off the North coast of Sicily.

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


HMS Trooper 4th war patrol click here for bigger map (5)

25 Apr 1943
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) ended her 4th war patrol at Algiers. (5)

11 May 1943
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) departed from Algiers for Malta.

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


HMS Trooper passage Algiers - Malta click here for bigger map (6)

17 May 1943
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) arrived at Malta. (6)

22 May 1943
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) departed from Malta for her 5th war patrol. She is to patrol Along the West coast of Greece and in the Adriatic. She is also to perform two special operations.

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


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

25 May 1943
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) carries out special operation 'Entertain' off Zakinthos Island. At 2130 hours folbots with commandos were launched. They were to land on Zante as a diversion to operation 'Husky'.(Operation 'Entertain' was part of plan 'Barclay'). (5)

30 May 1943
At 2215 hours HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) carries out special operation 'Tiger' off Vieste, Italy in which Commandos were landed. They were recovered at 0230 hours on 31 May. (5)

3 Jun 1943
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) fires four torpedoes against the Italian merchant Anna Martini (1686 GRT, built 1914) that was seen leaving Bari. All torpedoes missed their target.

(All times are zone -2)
1525 hours - An old merchant of about 3000 tons was seen to leave Bari through the swept channel. Commenced attack.

1619 hours - Fired 4 torpedoes from 1400 yards. No hits were obtained despite the short range. The torpedoes were heard to run their range. Possibly they ran under.

The target turned around and returned towards Bari.

According to Italian sources the Anna Martini observed two torpedo tracks. (5)

12 Jun 1943
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) damaged her Port shaft when she encounters a large piece of floating wreckage in position 33°52'N, 34°05'E. (5)

13 Jun 1943
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) ended her 5th war patrol at Beirut. (5)

23 Jun 1943
Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN leaves HMS Trooper sick.
Lt. G.S.C. Clarabut, RN temporary assumes command. (7)

26 Jun 1943
HMS Trooper (Lt. G.S.C. Clarabut, RN) departed from Beirut bound for Port Said where she is to be docked to repair the damage to her Port propeller after the encounter with a large piece of wreckage on 12 June. (7)

28 Jun 1943
HMS Trooper (Lt. G.S.C. Clarabut, RN) arrived at Port Said and is immediately docked. (7)

6 Jul 1943
HMS Trooper (Lt. G.S.C. Clarabut, RN) is undocked. (8)

7 Jul 1943
HMS Trooper (Lt. G.S.C. Clarabut, RN) departed from Port Said for her 6th war patrol. She was ordered to patrol in the Adriatic and off the West coast of Greece.

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


HMS Trooper 6th war patrol click here for bigger map (5)

14 Jul 1943
HMS Trooper (Lt. G.S.C. Clarabut, RN) attacks the Italian merchant Cherso (1756 GRT, built 1912) with torpedoes and gunfire off Cape Rodoni near Durazzo, Albania.

(All times are zone -3)
0800 hours - Sighted a 2000 tons merchant vessel proceeding North from Durazzo. Started attack.

0831 hours - Fired three torpedoes from 3400 yards. All torpedoes missed.

0837 hours - Surfaced for gun action, range 5400 yards. Fired 8 rounds for 1 hit that put the gun of the target out of action.

0839 hours - Sighted an aircraft so broke off the action and dived.

According to Italian sources the Italian merchant Cherso was unescorted and in ballast proceeding to San Giovanni di Medua (Albania). Cherso replied with gunfire and escaped without damage. The Italian torpedo-boat Giuseppe Missori and aircraft from Aeroalbania were ordered to hunt the submarine but although sighted by Trooper, she managed to elude them.

According to Italian sources 18 survivors were picked up by fishing vessel Bormio. (5)

16 Jul 1943
HMS Trooper (Lt. G.S.C. Clarabut, RN) was ordered to leave her patrol area and to proceed to the Gulf of Taranto. (5)

29 Jul 1943
The Italian submarine Pietro Micca (offsite link) (1371 tons, completed 1935) was torpedoed and sunk at the entrance to Adriatic, south of the Strait of Otranto in position 39°48'N, 18°43'E by the British submarine HMS Trooper (Lt. G.S.C. Clarabut, RN)

(All times are zone -3)
0638 hours - Sighted two objects bearing 095°. Visibility was very poor.

0645 hours - Identified the target as a large submarine of the Italian Marcello-class. Enemy's course was 300°, range 4800 yards. Commenced attack.

0649 hours - The target altered course towards.

0654 hours - Fired six torpedoes from 4600 yards. 3,5 Minutes after firing the first torpedo an explosion was heard. Upon returning to periscope depth the submarine was no longer in sight. A small ship was sighted lowering a boat to pick up survivors. It is thought that the enemy submarine must have sunk. (5)

2 Aug 1943
HMS Trooper (Lt. G.S.C. Clarabut, RN) ended her 6th war patrol at Beirut. (5)

20 Aug 1943
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) departed from Beirut for her 7th war patrol. She was ordered to patrol in the Aegean. (5)

31 Aug 1943
At 1746 hours (time zone -3) HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) bombards a large tannery off Karlovassi, Greece. 17 Rounds were fired for 14 hits. After 4 minutes she was forced to dive as she was taken under fire by a shore battery. (5)

5 Sep 1943
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) sank the Greek caique Maria M. (250 GRT) and Greek tug Nikolaos M. / Pi 2117 (35 GRT) with gunfire 2 nautical miles North of Skiathos, Greece.

(All times are zone -3)
1816 hours - Surfaced and engaged a large caique that was being towed by a tug. 52 Rounds were fired. The caique was sunk and the tug was abandoned and set on fire (it later sank). Two survivors from the tug were picked up.
(5)

10 Sep 1943
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) ended her 7th war patrol at Beirut. (5)

26 Sep 1943
HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) departed from Beirut for her 8th war patrol. She is to carry out a special mission for SOE (Special Operations Executive) and then patrol in the Aegean Sea off the Dodecanese islands, including the Leros area.

30 Sep 1943
At 2130 hours HMS Trooper (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSO, DSC, RN) lands Colonel Diamantopoulos of the Royal Hellenic Artillery (code name 'Toby') of SOE (Operation ERÜPTION) with 2nd Lt. Vey and wireless operator 'Thomas' of ISLD (Operation CANTON) with 400 kgs of stores in Kalamos Bay (Euboa).

14 Oct 1943
At dawn HMS Trooper is sighted in Alinda Bay (Leros) by the schooner LS 8 (T/A/Lt.Cdr. A.C.C. Seligman, RNR) of the Levant Flotilla and they exchange signals. The Germans had laid several minefields about 10 miles east of Alinda Bay and it is quite possible that she was mined there.

Media links


A Submarine at War

Grant, David Renwick


The T-class Submarine

Kemp, Paul J.

Sources

  1. ADM 173/17655
  2. ADM 173/17656
  3. ADM 173/17657
  4. ADM 199/424
  5. ADM 199/1845
  6. ADM 173/18279
  7. ADM 173/18280
  8. ADM 173/18281

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


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