Allied Warships

HMS P 33 (P 33)

Submarine of the U class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeSubmarine
ClassU 
PennantP 33 
Built byVickers Armstrong (Barrow-in-Furness, U.K.) 
Ordered11 Mar 1940 
Laid down18 Jun 1940 
Launched28 Jan 1941 
Commissioned30 May 1941 
LostAug 1941 
History

On 6 August 1941 HMS P 33 (Lt. Reginald Denis Whiteway-Wilkinson, DSC, RN) sailed from Malta to patrol of Tripoli, Libya. She was most likely mined in that area. Declared overdue on 24 August 1941. 

Commands listed for HMS P 33 (P 33)

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CommanderFromTo
1Lt. Reginald Denis Whiteway-Wilkinson, DSC, RN21 Apr 194120 Aug 1941

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Notable events involving P 33 include:


The history of HMS P 33 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 January 2013.

29 May 1941
HMS P 33 (Lt. R.D. Whiteway-Wilkinson, DSC, RN) departed her builders yard at Barrow for Holy Loch. (1)

30 May 1941
HMS P 33 (Lt. R.D. Whiteway-Wilkinson, DSC, RN) arrived at Holy Loch for a period of trials and training. (1)

17 Jun 1941
HMS P 33 (Lt. R.D. Whiteway-Wilkinson, DSC, RN) departed Holy Loch for Gibraltar. She was escorted to Bishops Rock by HMS Cutty Sark (Cdr.(retired) R.H. Mack, RN).

As no log is available for June 1941 no map can be displayed. (2)

26 Jun 1941
HMS P 33 (Lt. R.D. Whiteway-Wilkinson, DSC, RN) arrived at Gibraltar. (1)

28 Jun 1941
HMS P 33 (Lt. R.D. Whiteway-Wilkinson, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar for Malta.

For the daily positions of HMS P 33 during this passage see the map below.
As there is no log available for June 1941 only positions from 1 July 1941 and onwards can be displayed on the map.


View HMS P 33 passage Gibraltar - Malta in a larger map (1)

6 Jul 1941
HMS P 33 (Lt. R.D. Whiteway-Wilkinson, DSC, RN) arrived at Malta. (3)

11 Jul 1941
HMS P 33 (Lt. R.D. Whiteway-Wilkinson, DSC, RN) departed Malta for her 1st war patrol. Her initial ordered were to patrol to the North-West of Lampedusa and form a patrol line with Ursula and Unbeaten to intercept a southbound convoy but nothing was seen. Later she was ordered to patrol off the Gulf of Hammamet and finally she was ordered to take up a patrol position to the South of Pantelleria.

For the daily and attack positions of HMS P 33 during this patrol see the map below.


View HMS P 33 1st war patrol in a larger map (4)

15 Jul 1941
HMS P 33 (Lt. R.D. Whiteway-Wilkinson, DSC, RN) attacked a convoy and torpedoed and sank the Italian merchant Barbarigo (5293 GRT, built 1930) off Pantellaria Island in position 36°27'N, 11°54'E.

(All times are zone -2)
1407 hours - The convoy P 33 was warned about was sighted in position 36°27'N, 11°54'E.

1416 hours - It was noticed that the convoy was made up of 5 half laden merchants. These were in two columns of two ships each in line ahead with one more ship leading in the middle of the two columns. The escort was identified as six Spica class torpedo boats in pairs of two, one pair ahead and one pair on each quarter of the convoy. The escorts were under constant wheel. Also an aircraft was overhead. P 33 was at 11000 yards and closed to attack the leading ship of the starboard column. The size of this ship was estimated at 7000 tons. (This convoy from Tripoli to Naples consisted of the Italian merchants Rialto (6099 GRT, built 1927), Andrea Gritti (6338 GRT, built 1939), Sebastiano Venier (6311 GRT, built 1940), the above mentioned Barbarigo (5293 GRT, built 1930) and the German merchant Ankara (4768 GRT, built 1937) and was escorted by the Italian destroyers Lanzerotto Malocello, Fuciliere and Alpino and the Italian torpedo boats Procione, Pegaso and Orsa). The convoy had sailed from Tripoli at 1600 hrs on 14 July bound for Naples.

1439 hours - Four torpedoes were fired at the intended target from 2500 yards. 2 hits were heard about 2 minutes after firing. Almost immediately a heavy counter attack began that lasted until 1605 hours, in all 116 depth charges were dropped but only one pattern fell close knocking out some lights. After the attack on the merchant Lt. Whiteway-Wilkinson took P 33 to 70 feet but she lost her trim and control was only regained at 310 feet. Due to this extreme depth several leaks occurred and the pressure hull was distorted. This forced Lt. Whiteway-Wilkinson to abandon the patrol and head to Malta for repairs. This damage was not due to the depth charging but due to the great depth that P 33 ended up after losing her trim.

According to Italian sources the submarine had been sighted by CANT Z.501/6 of 144^ Squadriglia and attacked with two bombs. The destroyer Fuciliere had seen the torpedo tracks and dropped 28 depth charges, followed by Alpino who dropped more depth charges. The destroyers rejoined the convoy and Pegaso was ordered to pick up the survivors while Procione and Orsa were detached to hunt the submarine while CANT Z.501/2 of 144^ Squadriglia also joined the hunt. (4)

16 Jul 1941
HMS P 33 (Lt. R.D. Whiteway-Wilkinson, DSC, RN) ended her 1st war patrol at Malta. (4)

21 Jul 1941
HMS P 33 (Lt. R.D. Whiteway-Wilkinson, DSC, RN) was docked at Malta for repairs. (3)

28 Jul 1941
HMS P 33 (Lt. R.D. Whiteway-Wilkinson, DSC, RN) was undocked. (3)

6 Aug 1941
HMS P 33 (Lt. R.D. Whiteway-Wilkinson, DSC, RN) departed Malta for her 2nd war patrol. She was ordered to position 33°20'N, 13°00'E, part of a patrol line with HMS P 32 (Lt. David Anthony Baily Abdy, RN) and HMS Unique (Lt. A.F. Collett, RN) patrol off Tripoli. On 15 August, Unique tried to make contact with P 33 by SST but without success, she was probably mined some time before on one the sections of the ‘T’ minefield. (5)

Sources

  1. ADM 199/2565
  2. ADM 199/400
  3. ADM 173/16870
  4. ADM 199/1120
  5. ADM 199/1925

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


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