Patrick James Cowell DSC, RN

Born  15 Aug 1910


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Ranks

1 Jul 1931 S.Lt.
1 Apr 1933 Lt.
1 Apr 1941 Lt.Cdr.
31 Dec 1945 Cdr.
31 Dec 1951 Capt.

Retired: 7 Jan 1961


Decorations

1 Jan 1941 DSC
12 Aug 1941 Mentioned in Despatches (MID)
21 Apr 1942 Mentioned in Despatches (MID)
1 Jan 1944 Mentioned in Despatches (MID)
9 May 1944 Mentioned in Despatches (MID)
5 Dec 1944 Mentioned in Despatches (MID)
19 Jun 1945 Bar to DSC
21 Aug 1945 Mentioned in Despatches (MID)

Warship Commands listed for Patrick James Cowell, RN


ShipRankTypeFromTo
HMS L 27 (N 27)Lt.Submarine24 Jul 19392 Feb 1940
HMS Swordfish (N 61)Lt.Submarine10 Feb 1940Oct 1940
HMS Thrasher (N 37)Lt.Submarine21 Jan 194112 Oct 1941
HMS Whitehall (D 94)Lt.Cdr.Destroyer1 Nov 194321 Oct 1944
HMS Cygnet (U 38)Lt.Cdr.Slooplate 1944May 1945

Career information

We currently have no career / biographical information on this officer.

Events related to this officer

Submarine HMS Swordfish (N 61)


11 Feb 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) completed her refit at Dundee. (1)

12 Feb 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) departed Dundee for trials. She was to proceed to Rosyth upon completion of her trials. (1)

13 Feb 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) arrived at Rosyth. (1)

15 Feb 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) departed Rosyth for Scapa Flow for working-up and exercises. (1)

16 Feb 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow. (1)

12 Mar 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Blyth. She made the passage together with HMS Narwhal (Lt.Cdr. R.J. Burch, RN) that was en-route from Scapa Flow to Rosyth. They were escorted by HMS Buttermere (Lt. E.G.P.B. Knapton, RN). (1)

13 Mar 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) arrived at Blyth. (1)

22 Mar 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) departed Blyth for her 3rd war patrol. She was ordered to patrol off the western entrance to the Skagerrak.

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

(2)

8 Apr 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) ended her 3rd war patrol at Blyth. She had sighted only neutral vessels. (2)

16 Apr 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) departed Blyth for her 4th war patrol. She was ordered to patrol in the Skagerrak.

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

(2)

20 Apr 1940 (position 58.48, 10.19)
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) fires 6 torpedoes against a German convoy about 17 nautical miles south-south-east of Larvik, Norway in position 58°48'N, 10°19'E. All torpedoes however missed their target. The convoy attacked was made up of the transports Scharhörn (2643 GRT, built 1927), Entrerios (5179 GRT, built 1923) and the depot ship Brommy escorted by submarine chasers of the 5th UJ-Gruppe (UJ A, UJ B, UJ E, UJ F). It is often stated the attack was on the German transport Santos but she sailed from Stettin only on the 22th.

1020 hours - Bombed at periscope depth by an enemy aircraft. No damage.

1025 hours - Heard HE. Went to periscope depth to investigate and found Swordfish surrounded by 5 F-class escort vessels and 1 larger escort vessel. Depth charges were dropped until 1230 hours causing some leaks.

1300 hours - Sighted smoke of a convoy to the south-east. Forced to go deep again.

1312 hours - Sighted the convoy again on the port bow. The convoy was made up of 3 merchant vessels escorted by 4 F-class escorts. Started attack.

1318 hours - In position 58°48'N, 10°19'E fired a salvo of 6 torpedoes from 5000 yards. No explosion or hits were heard. Swordfish was however hunted and depth charged until 1940 hours.

2044 hours - Surfaced. When opening the conning tower hatch the Commanding Officer was unable to ease the large pressure in the boat and the hatch flew open. The Commanding Officer and Leading Signalman were both knocked out. The First Lieutenant (Lt. H.A. Stacey, RN) took over command until 0800/22. (2)

22 Apr 1940 (position 58.39, 10.01)
At 1210 hours HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN), in position 58°39'N, 10°01'E, observed a convoy of six trawlers escorting eight drifters, steering 165°. Lt. Cowell refrained from attack because of their shallow draught. This was most probably the First German Drifter convoy (five drifters) returning from Oslo escorted by the patrol boats V 302, V 305 and V 308 and probably temporarily covered by the A/S group patrolling the entrance of the Kattegat. (2)

26 Apr 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
During the morning, HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) sighted many drifting mines between 57°39'N, 07°43'E and 57°39'N, 07°25'E, as she was diving she hit one but it failed to explode. (2)

28 Apr 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) ended her 4th war patrol at Blyth. (2)

10 May 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) departed Blyth for her 5th war patrol. She was ordered to patrol in the North Sea.

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

(2)

25 May 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) ended her 5th war patrol at Blyth. She had penetrated the German MDA but only two small fishing vessels were sighted. (2)

5 Jun 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) departed Blyth for her 6th war patrol. She was ordered to patrol in the North Sea.

(No log is available for this period and the patrol report does not give daily positions so no map can be displayed). (2)

6 Jun 1940
At 2230 hours, HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN), was bombed by a friendly aircraft, this was Hudson 'W' of 224 Squadron (piloted by Sgt. F. Everest). Fortunately no damage was caused. (2)

19 Jun 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) ended her 6th war patrol at Blyth. (2)

1 Jul 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) departed Blyth for her 7th war patrol. She was ordered to patrol in the North Sea near the Dutch coast.

(No log is available for this period and the patrol report does not give daily positions so no map can be displayed). (2)

12 Jul 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) ended her 7th war patrol at Blyth. Only aircraft were sighted. (2)

14 Jul 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) was docked at Blyth. (3)

20 Jul 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) was undocked. (3)

27 Jul 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) departed Blyth for her 8th war patrol. She was ordered to patrol off the western entrance to the Skagerrak.

(No log is available for this period and the patrol report does not give daily positions so no map can be displayed). (2)

28 Jul 1940 (position 56.33, 1.31)
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) comes across the Norwegian yacht Maski in the North Sea in position 56°33'N, 01°31'E. The four Norwegians aboard the yacht were trying to flee to the United Kingdom. After the Norwegians were taken aboard the Maski was sunk with gunfire. (2)

2 Aug 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) was ordered to patrol off Lindesnes, Norway. (2)

4 Aug 1940 (position 57.54, 6.48)
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) attacked a merchant vessel with three torpedoes off Lindesnes, Norway. No hits were obtained. So far the target has not been identified.

0157 hours - Sighted a 2000 tons merchant ship bearing 350°, course 120°. Started attack.

0207 hours - In position 57°54'N, 06°48'E (247° - Lindesnes - 7 nautical miles), fired three torpedoes from 4500 yards. No hits were obtained. (2)

8 Aug 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) ended her 8th war patrol at Blyth. (2)

27 Aug 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) departed Blyth for her 9th war patrol. She was ordered to patrol off the western entrance to the Skagerrak.

(No log is available for this period and the patrol report does not give daily positions so no map can be displayed). (2)

13 Sep 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) ended her 9th war patrol at Blyth. No aircraft or ships were sighted. (2)

17 Sep 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) departed Blyth for Porstmouth. Later she was ordered to proceed to Sheerness. She made the passage with HMS Ursula (Lt.Cdr. W.A.K.N. Cavaye, RN) in convoy FS-84. (3)

19 Sep 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) arrived at Sheerness. (3)

20 Sep 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) departed Sheerness for Portsmouth. (3)

22 Sep 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) arrived at Portsmouth. (3)

26 Sep 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) departed Portsmouth for her 10th war patrol. She was ordered to patrol in the English Channel near Cherbourg, France.

(No log is available for this period and the patrol report does not give daily positions so no map can be displayed). (2)

28 Sep 1940
At 2109 hours, while charging on the surface off Cap de la Hague, France, HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) was detected and attacked by an enemy Motor Torpedo Boat. Swordfish dived and was not damaged in the encounter. (2)

1 Oct 1940 (position 49.48, -1.24)
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) attacked a German torpedo-boat out of a group of four (These were Greif, Kondor, Falke and Seeadler with 4 torpedoes in the English Channel about 12 nautical miles north-east of Cherbourg, France in position 49°48'N, 01°24'W. All torpedoes missed.

0930 hours - Sighted smoke off Cape Barfleur. This turned out to come from a group of four German torpedo-boats. Started attack.

0935 hours - Sighted a group of four German torpedo-boats in two columns. Started attack.

0944 hours - Fired four torpedoes at the rear ship of the near column. Range was 1500 yards. 1 minute and 9 seconds after firing heard a violent explosion. Swordfish then went deep but hit the bottom at 225 feet causing damage to Swordfish. She remained on the bottom for 1 hour but then retired to the northward to effect repairs. (2)

5 Oct 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) ended her 10th war patrol at Portsmouth. (2)

6 Oct 1940
HMS Swordfish (Lt. P.J. Cowell, RN) was docked at Portsmouth. The date of undocking is currently not known to us. (3)


Submarine HMS Thrasher (N 37)


5 May 1941
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) departed her builders yard at Liverpool for Holy Loch. She was escorted by the Free French minesweeper FFS La Moqueuse. (4)

6 May 1941
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) arrived at Holy Loch to begin a period of trials and training. (4)

7 May 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) conducted trials in the Clyde area. (4)

8 May 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) conducted speed trials in the Clyde area. (4)

9 May 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) conducted trials in the Clyde area. (4)

14 May 1941
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) conducted trials in the Clyde area. (4)

15 May 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) conducted exercises in the Clyde area. (4)

16 May 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) conducted exercises in the Clyde area. (4)

17 May 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) conducted exercises in the Clyde area. (4)

18 May 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) conducted exercises in the Clyde area. (4)

19 May 1941
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) arrived at Arrochar to begin her torpedo discharge trials. (4)

22 May 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) conducted torpedo discharge trials off Arrochar. (4)

23 May 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) conducted torpedo discharge trials off Arrochar. (4)

29 May 1941
Having completed her torpedo discharge trials, HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN), shifted from Arrochar to Greenock for some repairs at the Scott's shipyard. (4)

1 Jun 1941
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN), shifted Greenock to Arrochar to continue her torpedo discharge trials. (5)

2 Jun 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) conducted torpedo discharge trials off Arrochar. (5)

3 Jun 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) conducted torpedo discharge trials off Arrochar. (5)

4 Jun 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) conducted torpedo discharge trials off Arrochar. (5)

5 Jun 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) conducted torpedo discharge trials off Arrochar. Upon completion of these HMS Thrasher proceeded to Holy Loch. (5)

6 Jun 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) conducted exercises in the Clyde area. (5)

8 Jun 1941
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) conducted exercises in the Clyde area. These included practice attacks on HMS Breda (Capt.(Retd.) A.E. Johnston, RN). (5)

9 Jun 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) conducted exercises in the Clyde area. These included practice attacks on HMS Breda (Capt.(Retd.) A.E. Johnston, RN). (5)

10 Jun 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) conducted exercises in the Clyde area. (5)

12 Jun 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) conducted noise trials in the Clyde area. (5)

14 Jun 1941
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) departed from Holy Loch bound for Gibraltar. Thrasher is to proceed to Alexandria to join the 1st Submarine Flotilla based there. Passage south through the Irish Sea was made together with HMS Osiris (Lt.Cdr. T.T. Euman, RN). The submarines were escorted by HMS La Capricieuse (Lt.Cdr. G.W. Dobson, RNR).

For HMS Thrasher daily (1200 hours) positions during this passage see the map below.

(6)

20 Jun 1941
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) arrived at Gibraltar. (6)

22 Jun 1941
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) departed from Gibraltar for her 1st war patrol. She is to carry stores to Malta end then to proceed to Alexandria, patrolling along the Southern Italian coast and the West coast of Greece en-route.

For HMS Thrasher daily (1200 hours) positions during this patrol see the map below.

(7)

23 Jun 1941 (position 36.34, -0.37)
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) sights a French merchant in ballast of about 3000 tons North of Oran in position 36°34'N, 00°37'W. Thrasher was ordered not to attack French ships during the trip to Malta so Lt.Cdr. Cowell dives so that Thrasher would not compromise her position. (7)

29 Jun 1941
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) arrived at Malta, she unloads the stores and then left for patrol later the same day. (7)

1 Jul 1941 (position 37.45, 16.21)
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) sights a convoy of three merchant vessels to the south-east of Capo Spartivento in position 37°45'N, 16°21'E. Unfortunately they are too far away to be attacked.

All times are zone -2)
0400 hours - Dived in position 37°45'N, 16°21'E
1205 hours - In position 37°45'N, 16°21'E sighted 3 merchant ships in ballast, range 11000 yards, bearing 270, course 210°. They were too far away to be attacked
2130 hours - Left patrol area to proceed to Alexandria as ordered by signal.
(7)

3 Jul 1941
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) sights what is thought to be a trawler near Cape Dukato, Lefkada Island, Greece in position 38°04'N, 20°22'E. Contact is however soon lost.

(All times are zone -3)
0535 hours - Dived
1842 hours - Sighted mast and funnel in position 38°04'N, 20°22'E. Most likely a trawler. Bearing 280°, range 10000 yards, steering 350° at high speed. Tried to close but lost contact at 1856 hours
2150 hours - Surfaced.
(7)

9 Jul 1941
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) ended her 1st war patrol at Alexandria. (7)

22 Jul 1941
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) departed from Alexandria for her 2nd war patrol. She was ordered to land a person on Crete and then evacuate stranded troops. After this she is to patrol in the Aegean.

For HMS Thrasher daily (1200 hours) positions during this patrol see the map below.

(7)

24 Jul 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) conducted torpedo discharge trials off Arrochar. (4)

25 Jul 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) conducted torpedo discharge trials off Arrochar. (4)

26 Jul 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) conducted torpedo discharge trials off Arrochar. (4)

27 Jul 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) conducted torpedo discharge trials off Arrochar. (4)

28 Jul 1941
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) picks up 78 men from Crete. With so many on board the patrol in the Aegean had to be abandoned and Thrasher set course to return to Alexandria.

(All times are zone -3)
27 July 1941
0030 hours - Attempted to land Lt.Cdr. Pool, RNR by folbot but the weather was still not suitable. Abandoned the attempt
0245 hours - The wind dropped so now a successful landing was made. Withdrew to the seaward to return next night
2330 hours - While three nautical miles off Limni Bay received a signal that 46 men would be ready to be evacuated by 0100/28. Proceeded inshore.

28 July 1941
0210 hours - Operation completed, picked up 62 British soldiers, 5 Naval ratings and 11 Greeks, set course for Alexandria as it was impossible to continue the patrol with so many men aboard
0512 hours - Dived
2058 hours - Surfaced in position 34°22'N, 25°02'E
(7)

28 Jul 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) conducted torpedo discharge trials off Arrochar. (4)

31 Jul 1941
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) ended her 2nd war patrol at Alexandria. (7)

6 Aug 1941
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) departed from Alexandria for her 3rd war patrol. She was ordered to patrol in the Aegean.

For HMS Thrasher daily (1200 hours) positions, a failed attack and a sinking during this patrol see the map below.

(7)

12 Aug 1941
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) twice tries to attack enemy convoys near the Zea Channel. Both attacks had to be broken off.

(All times are zone -3)
0252 hours - Dived
Intended to patrol through the Zea Channel
1130 hours - Sighted 2 M.A.S. vessels off Angarlestro Point
1150 hours - In position 37°38'N, 23°58'E sighted a destroyer of the Folgore class off Gaidaro Island. At this time the M.A.S. vessels were closing. The destroyer was followed by a two-funnelled, camouflaged transport of 8000 tons. A trawler was also at the scene
1210 hours - The convoy altered course up the Mandri Channel
1220 hours - Broke off the attack due to the long range
1225 hours - Sighted another convoy coming out of the Thermia Channel, position 37°30'N, 24°11'E. Started attack. The convoy was made up of two large merchants (one of 10000 and one of 5000tons) escorted by a Folgore class destroyer and a Spica class torpedo boat, an armed merchant cruiser of 10000 tons and two aircraft. Later the two M.A.S. boats of the convoy sighted earlier joined this convoy
1300 hours - One of the destroyers turned straight towards and increased speed. The destroyer went straight overhead and then returned
1312 hours - Returned to periscope depth
1320 hours - The target turned away. Followed the merchants for 20 minutes hoping that they would turn back but the did not so at 1340 hours the attack had to be broken off
2117 hours - Surfaced
(7)

15 Aug 1941 (position 37.36, 24.03)
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) fires four torpedoes against the German transport Bulgaria (1188 GRT, built 1894) off Cape Sunion, Greece in position 37°36'N, 24°03'E. All torpedoes however miss their target.

(All times are zone -3)
0307 hours - Dived and patrolled off the Western junction of the Thermia and Zea Channels
1105 hours - Sighted a Fiat bi-plane (convoy air escort) over the Zea Channel. Turned to the East expecting a convoy from the Zea Channel
1120 hours - Sighted smoke in the Mandri Channel, turned towards. Sighted a destroyer of the Folgore class and a merchant ship that was thought to be the Bulgaria. (The identification of the target was correct, the escort however was the Italian torpedo boat Sirio). Started attack
1158 hours - In position 37°36'N, 24°03'E fired four torpedoes and withdrew to the South-East. Intermittent depth-charging was heard until 1246 hours
1300 hours - The destroyer was no longer heard
2133 hours - Surfaced and proceeded through the Siphano Channel towards the Naxos Channel.
(7)

18 Aug 1941
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) investigates harbours on the Greek islands of Samos and Leros. Nothing of interest was sighted.

(All times are zone -3)
0520 hours - Investigated Samos. Nothing was seen in the harbours of Port Vathi and Kalovasi
2100 hours - Surfaced and proceeded through the Ikaria Passage to investigate Port Laki on Leros.
(7)

20 Aug 1941
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) sank the Greek sailing vessel Evangelistria / SAM 16 with gunfire off Cape Malea, Greece.

(All times are zone -3)
0525 hours - Dived / Patrolled in the Elaphonisos Channel. Sighted a large number of small sailing vessels and when of Cape Sta Maria sighted two caiques coming from the Westward. Decided to follow the 2nd caique
1600 hours - Sighted a schooner coming from the Westward, position 36°26'5"N, 23°00'E
2015 hours - The schooner entered Lefki Bay. Followed him into the bay and then surfaced at 2050 hours and sank the schooner (about 250 tons) with gunfire at 2055 hours.
(7)

27 Aug 1941
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) ended her 3rd war patrol at Alexandria. (7)

10 Sep 1941
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) departed from Alexandria for her 4th war patrol. She is to patrol in the Gulf of Sirte.

For HMS Thrasher daily (1200 hours) positions and two failed attacks during this patrol see the map below.

(7)

11 Sep 1941
On board HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) the bi-focal periscope begins to leak. Lt.Cdr. Cowell decides to return to Alexandria for repairs. (7)

12 Sep 1941
After replacing the bi-focal periscope, HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) departed from Alexandria to resume her 4th war patrol. (7)

23 Sep 1941 (position 32.01, 19.21)
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) attacks an enemy convoy in position 32°01'N, 19°21'E. Three torpedoes were fired but these all missed. Thrasher was depth charged but she escapes undamaged.

The convoy attacked was made up of the small Italian transports Prospero (978 GRT, built 1904) and Ascianghi (610 GRT, built 1922). They were escorted by the Italian torpedo boat Circe. They were en-route from Tripoli to Benghazi.

(All times are zone -3)
0026 hours - In position 255° Benghazi lighthouse 30 nautical miles. Proceeded on course 285° to intercept the convoy
0120 hours - In position 32°01'N, 19°21'E sighted darkened ships bearing 335°. Altered course and closed at speed. The ships were seen to be in line ahead, speed 9 knots, course 105° and 6 cables apart. Selected the largest ship as target, leading the line
0132 hours - Altered course, The second and third ships most likely sighted Thrasher as they altered towards (2nd ship) and away (3rd ship)
0134 hours - Commenced firing three torpedoes against the leading ship. As the torpedoes were fired Lt.Cdr. Cowell realised it was not a merchant ship but something else. The first torpedo passed just ahead, the second ran under and the third ran off 35° to port on the surface. After firing Lt.Cdr. Cowell turned to port to fire at one of the other ships, but it was then discovered that Thrasher was much closer than first thought. The target was now identified as a destroyer that turned towards
0135 hours - Dived
0136 hours - Heard destroyer speeding up
0137 hours - Heard one explosion, maybe the third torpedo hitting the third ship in line
0139 hours - Two depth charges exploded fairly close
0140 hours - The destroyer was heard to pass overhead
0141 - Depth charges exploded, the destroyer was heard to circle round
0200 hours - the destroyer was heard leaving the scene
0229 hours - Surfaced. The convoy was made up of a Partenope class torpedo boat and two small (500 tons) merchant ships
0513 hours - Dived
1949 hours - Surfaced
2131 hours - Set course for Benghazi.
(7)

25 Sep 1941 (position 32.27, 19.41)
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) attacks an enemy convoy in position 32°27'N, 19°41'E. Five torpedoes were fired but these all missed their target. Thrasher escapes without being depth charged.

(The convoy was most likely made up of the Italian merchants Capo Faro (3476 GRT, built 1906) and Iseo (2366 GRT, built 1918) escorted by Italian torpedo boat Orione. If so, the attack was not observed.)

(All times are zone -3)
0030 hours - In position 32°17'N, 19°44'E sighted two ships on the starboard bow. Altered course towards but identified them as escort vessels proceeding on a course of 320°, probably going to meet the convoy
0042 hours - Retired at speed to the westward and then proceeded to the north to intercept the convoy
0132 hours - In position 32°27'N, 19°41'E sighted smoke bearing 280°. Altered course towards and identified four ships. Two were merchant vessels, one of 1500 tons leading and one of 2000 tons about 1,5 nautical miles astern. Each was being circled by a destroyer. Passed down the port side of the convoy and turned in at 0150 hours
0200 hours - One destroyer came out from astern of the nearest merchant vessel (which had been selected as target) and came straight towards so at 0202 hours fired four torpedoes
0205 hours - Turned to port and fired one more torpedo. All torpedoes fired missed
0206 - Dived as the destroyer still came towards
0228 hours - Surfaced and gave chase
0304 hours - Sighted two vessels coming towards. They were identified as escort vessels
0311 hours - The escorts were closing rapidly so dived
0321 hours - The two escorts were joined by a third one
0330 hours - The escorts were heard retiring
0345 hours - Lost contact
0350 hours - Surfaced
0528 hours - Dived and proceeded southwards
1933 hours - Surfaced in position 31°24'N, 19°49'E and set course for the western half of our patrol area.
(7)

1 Oct 1941
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) ended her 4th war patrol at Malta. Upon arriving she was immediately docked. (8)

7 Oct 1941
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) was undocked. (8)


Destroyer HMS Whitehall (D 94)


30 Jan 1944 (position 73.41, 24.30)
German U-boat U-314 was sunk in the Barents Sea south-east of Bear Island, Norway, in position 73°41'N, 24°30'E, by depth charges from the British destroyers HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) and HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN). Revised. This attack was actually directed against U-965 inflicting no damage.

Sources

  1. ADM 199/2571
  2. ADM 199/1843
  3. ADM 199/373
  4. ADM 173/17027
  5. ADM 173/17028
  6. ADM 199/1867
  7. ADM 199/1152
  8. ADM 173/17032

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


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