Allied Warships

HMS Urge (N 17)

Submarine of the U class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeSubmarine
ClassU 
PennantN 17 
ModSecond Group 
Built byVickers Armstrong (Barrow-in-Furness, U.K.) 
Ordered4 Sep 1939 
Laid down30 Oct 1939 
Launched19 Aug 1940 
Commissioned12 Dec 1940 
Lost6 May 1942 
History

HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. Edward Philip Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN) left Malta on 27 April 1942. She failed to arrive at Alexandria on 6 May 1942 and was reported overdue on that day.

 

Commands listed for HMS Urge (N 17)

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

CommanderFromTo
1Lt. Edward Philip Tomkinson, RN14 Sep 194029 Jul 1941
2Lt. Compton Patrick Norman, RN29 Jul 194118 Aug 1941
3Lt. Edward Philip Tomkinson, RN18 Aug 1941Dec 1941
4Lt. John Dennis Martin, RNDec 1941Jan 1942
5Lt.Cdr. Edward Philip Tomkinson, DSO, RNJan 1942Apr/May 42

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Notable events involving Urge include:


The history of HMS Urge as compiled on this page is extracted from Urge's 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.

This page was last updated in April 2018.

11 Dec 1940
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) departed her builders yards at Barrow for Holy Loch. (1)

12 Dec 1940
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) arrived at Holy Loch to begin a period of trials and training. (1)

4 Jan 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) departed Holy Loch for Dundee. (1)

7 Jan 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) arrived at Dundee. (1)

11 Jan 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) departed Dundee for Scapa Flow. She was escorted by HMS Thirlmere (T/S.Lt. R.C.R. Mortimore, RNVR). (2)

12 Jan 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow. Here she is to participate in A/S training. (2)

8 Feb 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) departed Scapa Flow for her 1st war patrol. She was ordered to patrol off the South-West coast of Norway (Stadlanded and Utvaer).

No log is available so it is not possible to display a map of her movements during this patrol. (3)

15 Feb 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) ended her 1st war patrol at Dundee. It had been uneventful. (3)

25 Feb 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) departed Dundee for her 2nd war patrol. She was ordered to patrol off Fro-Havet, Norway.

No log is available so it is not possible to display a map of her movements during this patrol. (3)

9 Mar 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) made a short call at Lerwick to land Sub.Lt. A.A. Catlow, RN who has injured his leg. (3)

12 Mar 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) ended her 2nd war patrol at Dundee. Again the patrol was uneventful. (3)

31 Mar 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) departed Dundee for Scapa Flow. She was escorted by Dutch torpedo boat HrMs Z 5 (Lt.Cdr. P.A. de Boer, RNN). (2)

1 Apr 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow to participate in A/S training. (2)

5 Apr 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) and HMS L 23 (Lt. L.F.L. Hill, RNR) departed Scapa Flow for Dundee. They were escorted by Dutch torpedo boat HrMs Z 5 (Lt.Cdr. P.A. de Boer, RNN). (2)

6 Apr 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) and HMS L 23 (Lt. L.F.L. Hill, RNR) arrived Dundee. (2)

8 Apr 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) departed Dundee for Sheerness. (2)

10 Apr 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) arrived at Sheerness. (2)

11 Apr 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) departed Sheerness for Portsmouth. (2)

12 Apr 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) arrived at Portsmouth. (2)

14 Apr 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) departed Portsmouth for Gibraltar. She was to proceed to Malta to join the 1st submarine flotilla (later 10th submarine flotilla).

No log is available so it is not possible to display a map of her movements during this passage. (3)

18 Apr 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) torpedoed and sank the Italian tanker Franco Martelli (10535 GRT, built 1939) in the Bay of Biscay in position 46°51'N, 08°29'W.

Of the tankers crew of 34, one was missing.

1124 hours - Heard HE bearing 240°.

1127 hours - In position 46°51'N, 08°29'W sighted a large tanker at a range of 5000 yards. Started attack. There was no escort.

1137 hours - Fired two torpedoes from 1500 yards. The second torpedo hit in the engine room. As the ship then stopped but did not sink another torpedo was fired that hit under the bridge.

1212 hours - The tanker was seen to sink.

The Franco Martelli was a blockade breaker and was en-route from Recife, Brasil to Bordeaux, France. (3)

23 Apr 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) arrived at Gibraltar. (3)

28 Apr 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) departed Gibraltar for Malta.

No log is available so it is not possible to display a map of her movements during this passage. (1)

6 May 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) arrived at Malta. (1)

14 May 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) departed Malta for her 3rd war patrol (1st in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol off between Tunisia and Lampedusa Island.

No log is available so it is not possible to display a map of her movements during this patrol. (3)

20 May 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) fired four torpedoes at the Italian merchant Capo Orso (3149 GRT, built 1916) about 40 nautical miles North-West of Lampedusa Island in position 35°44'N, 11°59'E. The torpedoes however missed their targets despite the British claim that both ships were sunk.

According to Italian sources the destroyer Euro combed the torpedo tracks and dropped depth charges, claiming the submarine sunk but Urge escaped damage.

0932 hours - Sighted a destroyer bearing 020° with other ships astern. Enemy course was 100°.

0934 hours - This destroyer turned out to be the Starboard screen ship of a force of two Italian light cruisers escorted by three destroyers. They passed at a range of 6 nautical miles. [This was the cover force for the convoy (see below). It was made up of the Italian light cruisers Luigi di Savoia Duca Delgi Abruzzi and Giuseppe Garibaldi. They were escorted by the Italian destroyers Granatiere, Alpino and Bersagliere.] Shortly afterwards another ship was sighted bearing 315°. She was however too far off to be identified.

0940 hours - Sighted an enemy flying boat bearing 080°, range 800 yards and coming straight towards. Went to 90 feet and altered course.

0947 hours - Returned to periscope depth. The ship previously sighted was now seen to be a destroyer. She was zig-zagging ahead of a convoy of four ships. Enemy course was 135° at a speed of 12 knots. Five destroyers were escorting this convoy. Started attac in which four torpedoes were fired. Went deep on firing. Three hits were claimed. The fourth torpedo is thought to have hit at a range of 500 yards. A terrific explosion followed causing minor damage to Urge and injuring several of her crew. Urge meanwhile had gone to 278 feet. 10 Depth charges were dropped during the next 10 minutes but none were very close.

1135 hours - Returned to periscope depth. Nothing in sight.

[The convoy attacked was made up of the German merchants Preussen (GRT, built), Sparta (1724 GRT, built 1927), the Italian merchants Panuco (GRT, built) and the above mentioned Capo Orso as well as the Italian tankers Panuco (7750 GRT, built 1941), Castelverde (6958 GRT, built 1921), and Superga (6154 GRT, built 1923) [26.Seetranport convoy]. They were escorted by the Italian destroyers Folgore, Euro, Fulmine, Strale and Turbine]. (3)

21 May 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) attacked an Italian task force of two light cruisers escorted by three destroyers about 15 nautical miles North-East of Lampedusa in position 35°42'N, 12°24'E. The destroyer Alpino reported being missed by two torpedoes.

1300 hours - In position 35°42'N, 12°24'E heard HE bearing 130°. Sighted two Italian light cruisers escorted by three destroyers on that bearing. Enemy course was 270°, speed 22 knots, range 8000 yards. Started attack.

1304 hours - Fired four torpedoes from 6000 yards.

1309 hours - Heard two torpedoes exploding. A destroyer was then heard coming towards at high speed. She dropped 13 depth charges. She then stopped to listen but soon afterwards went off at high speed.

1318 hours - Heard two explosions, most likely the other two torpedoes exploding at the end of their run.

1401 hours - Returned to periscope depth. An flying boat was patrolling the area so went deep again.

This was the same task force as seen yesterday. It was made up of the Italian light cruisers Luigi di Savoia Duca Delgi Abruzzi and Giuseppe Garibaldi. They were escorted by the Italian destroyers Granatiere, Alpino and Bersagliere. Alpino reported being missed by two torpedoes.] (3)

22 May 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) ended her 3rd war patrol (1st in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (3)

1 Jun 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) departed Malta for her 4th war patrol (2nd in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol off between Tunisia and Lampedusa Island, the same patrol area as her previous patrol.

No log is available so it is not possible to display a map of her movements during this patrol. (4)

9 Jun 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) attacked an enemy convoy about 20 nautical miles north-west of Lampedusa Island. The attack however fails.

According to Italian sources these may have been Milano, Tabarca and Nuovo Eleonora escorted by the auxiliary Maggiore Macchi.

1345 hours - Sighted three merchant vessels and one trawler on bearing 283°, distance about 6 nautical miles. Enemy course was 140° at a speed of 11 knots. Started attack.

1433 hours - In position 35°39'N, 12°11'E fired one torpedo, from 400 yards, at the second ship in a line of three. The torpedo missed.

1435 hours - Fired two torpedoes, from 500 yards, at the third ship, both missed. No counter attack followed. (4)

12 Jun 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) ended her 4th war patrol (2nd in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (4)

23 Jun 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) departed Malta for her 5th war patrol (3rd in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol South of the Straits of Messina. She also carried a raiding party that was to be landed on the East coast of Sicily to wreck a train in a tunnel if the opportunity arose.

No log is available so it is not possible to display a map of her movements during this patrol. (4)

27 Jun 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) landed the train wrecking party (Lt. R. Wilson, R.A. and Marine W.G. Hughes) off Taormina, Sicily, Italy. The operation was succesfull.

27 June 1941
2151 hours - Surfaced in position 37°52'N, 15°25'5"E.

2220 hours - Rigged and manned the Folbot on the forecasing. Trimmed down and ran in towards the beach.

2324 hours - Floated the Folbot off 1350 yards from the shore. Then retired on nautical mile to the seaward.

28 June 1941
0100 hours - Proceeded back to within 1400 yards from the beach.

0141 hours - Picked up the Folbot and ran out to seaward again.

0151 hours - A train was seen approaching the tunnel where the charge was placed and shortly afterwards a brilliant flash was seen as the engine set off the charge. (4)

29 Jun 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) attacked the Italian heavy cruisers Trieste and Gorizia (Third Cruiser Division) with four torpedoes east of Sicily in position 37°55'N, 15°35'E. They were screened by the destroyers Carabiniere, Ascari and Corazziere. Trieste reported missed by three torpedoes.

(All times are zone -2)
0856 hours - Sighted two Italian heavy cruisers escorted by four destroyers bearing 195°, distance six nautical miles, course 360°, speed 24 knots.

0914 hours - Fired four torpedoes from 5000 yards at the leading cruiser. Two hits were heard and the British thought to have hit and sunk the cruiser. This was however not the case.

0921 hours - The first of sixty-four depth charges was dropped but none were very close.

1130 hours - Depth charging ceased. (4)

2 Jul 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) fires three torpedoes at ' what is identified as ' an armed merchant cruiser south of the Strait of Messina in position 37°48'N, 15°21'E. All torpedoes fired missed their target.

This attack is confirmed in Italian sources but the target is not (yet, August 2013) identified, three torpedoes were observed and two of them were recovered on the beach in good condition. The torpedo boat Cigno was sent to hunt the submarine but found nothing.

(All times are zone -2)
1355 hours - Sighted a merchant vessel of 4000-5000 tons escorted by an armed merchant cruiser of 9000 tons. Started attack.

1410 hours - Fired four torpedoes at the armed merchant cruiser from 3000 yards. 3 1/2 minutes later one hit was heard.

1419 hours - Two torpedoes were heard to explode on the shore. (4)

4 Jul 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) ended her 5th war patrol (3rd in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (4)

17 Jul 1941
HMS Upholder (Lt.Cdr. M.D. Wanklyn, RN) conducted exercises off Malta with HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, DSO, RN) and HMS Beryl. (5)

18 Jul 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) departed Malta for her 6th war patrol (4th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol off Palermo, Sicily, Italy.

No log is available so it is not possible to display a map of her movements during this patrol. (4)

21 Jul 1941

Operation Substance, convoys to and from Malta

Passage through the Straits of Gibraltar of the eastbound convoy and sailing from Gibraltar of the remaining ships involved in the operation.

Around 0130/21 convoy WS 9C passed the Straits of Gibraltar. The convoy at that moment consisted of six merchant ships; City of Pretoria (8049 GRT, built 1937), Deucalion (7516 GRT, built 1930), Durham (10893 GRT, built 1934), Melbourne Star (11076 GRT, built 1936), Port Chalmers (8535 GRT, built 1933) and Sydney Star (11095 GRT, built 1936).

At the time they passed through the Straits they were escorted by HMS Nelson (Capt. T.H. Troubridge, RN), HMS Edinburgh (Capt. H.W. Faulkner, RN), HMS Manxman (Capt. R.K. Dickson, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. R.G. Stewart, RN), HMAS Nestor (Cdr. A.S. Rosenthal, RAN), HMS Avon Vale (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, RN), HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, RN) and HMS Farndale (Cdr. S.H. Carlill, RN).

HMS Manchester (Capt. H. Drew, DSC, RN), HMS Arethusa (Capt. A.C. Chapman, RN), HMS Cossack (Capt. E.L. Berthon, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr. R.E. Courage, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Sikh departed Gibraltar around 0200/21 escorting troopship Leinster (4302 GRT, built 1937) which was to join the convoy. However Leinster grounded while leaving Gibraltar and had to left behind. The small fleet tanker RFA Brown Ranger (3417 GRT, built 1941, master D.B.C. Ralph) left Gibraltar around the same time escorted by the destroyer HMS Beverley (Lt.Cdr. J. Grant, RN).

About one hour later, around 0300/21, HMS Renown (Rear-Admiral R.R. McGrigor, RN), HMS Ark Royal (Capt. L.E.H. Maund, RN), HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, RN), HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN), HMS Fearless (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Foresight (Cdr. J.S.C. Salter, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN) and HMS Duncan (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN) departed Gibraltar to give convoy for the convoy during the passage to Malta.

At sea the forces were redistributed;
Force H, the cover force
HMS Renown (Flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Sommerville, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Nelson, HMS Ark Royal, HMS Hermione, HMS Faulknor, HMS Foresight, HMS Forester, HMS Fury, HMS Lightning and HMS Duncan.

Force X, the close escort for the convoy
HMS Edinburgh (Flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, RN), HMS Manchester, HMS Arethusa, HMS Manxman, HMS Cossack, HMS Maori, HMS Sikh, HMAS Nestor, HMS Fearless, HMS Firedrake, HMS Foxhound, HMS Avon Vale, HMS Eridge and HMS Farndale.

Plan for the operation

Force H was to cover the convoy until it reached the narrows between Sicily and Tunisia. Force X was to escort the convoy all the way to Malta. Ships of Force X also had troops for Malta on board that had been taken to Gibraltar by troopship Pasteur. On 23 July 1941, the day the eastbound convoy would reach ‘the narrows’ five empty transports and two tankers would depart Malta for Gibraltar (Convoy MG 1) The seven empty transports were;
Group 1 (speed 17 knots)
HMS Breconshire (9776 GRT, built 1939),
Talabot (6798 GRT, built 1936),

Group 2 (speed 14 knots)
Thermopylae (6655 GRT, built 1930),
Amerika (10218 GRT, built 1930),

Group 3 (speed 12 knots)
Settler (6202 GRT, built 1939),
Tanker Svenor (7616 GRT, built 1931) and
Tanker Hoegh Hood (9351 GRT, built 1936)
These were escorted by the destroyer HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN) which had been repairing and refitting at Malta.

Through intelligence it was known that the Italian Navy had five battleships operational (three of them at Taranto) and about ten cruisers divided between Taranto, Palermo and Messina. The Italian Air Force had about 50 torpedo planes and 150 bombers (30 of which were dive bombers) stationed in Sardinia and Sicily, roughly half of each type on both islands.

The Royal Air Force was able to be of more help than during the previous convoy trip from Gibraltar to Malta last January. Aircraft from Gibraltar conducted A/S patrols for the fleet during the first two days of the passage to the east. Also patrols were flown between Sardinia and the coast of Africa, while aircraft from Malta conducted reconnaissance between Sardinia and Sicily, besides watching the Italian ports. Malta would also provide fighter escort for Force X and the convoy after Force H would part with them and HMS Ark Royal could no longer provide fighter cover for them.

During the operation eight submarines (HMS Olympus (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Dymott, RN), HMS Unique (Lt. A.F. Collett, RN), HMS Upholder (Lt.Cdr. M.D. Wanklyn, DSO, RN), HMS Upright (Lt. J.S. Wraith, DSC, RN), HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN), HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN), HMS P 32 (Lt. D.A.B. Abdy, RN) and HrMs O 21 (Lt.Cdr. J.F. van Dulm, RNN)) were on patrol to report and attack Italian warships that might be sailed to intercept the convoy.

The passage East, 22 July 1941

On 22 July the destroyers from Force X oiled from the Brown Ranger two at a time. A task that took about 10 hours. Having completed the oiling of the destroyers the Brown Ranger and her escort returned to Gibraltar. An Italian aircraft had reported Force H in the morning but the convoy and Force X, at that moment about 100 nautical miles to the south-westward, appeared not to have been sighed. At 2317/22 the Italian submarine Diaspro missed HMS Renown with torpedoes. HMAS Nestor sighted the torpedo tracks and was able to warn HMS Renown which was then able to avoid the torpedoes by doing an emergency turn to port.

The passage East and attacks by the Italian Air Force, 23 July 1941

Force H rejoined the convoy around 0800/23 as the British were now approaching the danger area. Shadowing aircraft had already reported the position of the fleet that morning and heavy air attacks soon followed.

The first came at 0945 hours, a well times combination of nine high level bombers and six or seven torpedo planes approaching from the north-east. HMS Ark Royal had eleven fighters up, which met the bombers about 20 miles from the fleet. They managed to down two of the nine bombers but unfortunately three Fulmars were shot down by the enemy. The other seven bombers came on working round the head of the screen of destroyers to attack the convoy from the starboard beam at a height of 10000 feet. Their bombs fell harmlessly amongst the leading ships as they altered course to avoid the attack. The torpedo planes however were more successful. They came from ahead out of the sun, flying low, and as the destroyers opened fire they divided into groups of two or three and to attack the convoy on both sides. Two aircraft attacked HMS Fearless, stationed ahead in the screen, dropping their torpedoes at ranges of 1500 and 800 yards from a height of 70 feet. The destroyer avoided the first torpedo, but was hit by the second, set on fire, and completely disabled. Other aircraft went to press on their attacks on the convoy itself. One of them, dropping its torpedo between two merchant vessels hit HMS Manchester as she was turning to regain her station after avoiding two torpedoes fired earlier. She reversed helm once more but to no avail. During the attacks three enemy torpedo bombers were shot down by AA fire from the ships.

HMS Manchester was badly damaged and could only use one engine out of four. At first she could steam only 8 knots. She was ordered to make for Gibraltar with HMS Avon Vale as escort. That evening, further to the westward, they were attacked again by three enemy torpedo planes but their AA gunfire kept the enemy at a distance. Both ships successfully reached Gibraltar on the 26th.

At 1010/23 five more bombers tried to attack the convoy crossing this time from north to south. Fighters from HMS Ark Royal forced them to drop their bombs from great height and mostly outside the screen.

At 1645/23 five more torpedo planes led by a seaplane came in from the northward. Three Fulmars caught them about 20 miles away. They managed to shoot down two planes and drove the remainder away.

Soon afterwards the fleet arrived off the entrance to the Skerki Channel. There HMS Hermione was transferred to Force X to take the place of HMS Manchester. Six destroyers were assigned to Force H and eight to Force X. At 1713 hours Vice-Admiral Sommerville hauled round to the westward. HMS Ark Royal kept her Fulmars up until RAF Beaufighters had arrived from Malta to take over.

The convoy was attacked again around 1900/23. Four torpedo planes arrived from the eastward, flying low and and working round from ahead to the starboard side of the convoy. They approached in pairs in line abreast. They kept HMS Sikh (on the starboard bow of the screen) between them and their target until nearly the moment for attack, thereby hampering the AA fire from the other ships. They dropped their torpedoes from long range from a height of 50 feet and nearly hit HMS Hermione, sternmost ship in the starboard column. To avoid the attack each column of the convoy turned 90° outwards and all warships opened barrage fire from all guns that would bear. The barrage however fell short but it caused the Italians to drop their torpedoes early. Also one of the enemy was possibly shot down.

This attack scattered the convoy and it took some time to reform. At 1945/23 about seven bombers appeared from ahead at a height of about 14000 feet to attack the convoy from the port side. The convoy altered 40° to port together and the escort opened up a controlled fire with some hesitation as the Italian aircraft looked a lot like Beaufighters. The bombing was extremely accurate. Several bombs fell near HMS Edinburgh which was leading the port column, and a near miss abreast a boiler room disabled HMS Firedrake which had been sweeping ahead of the convoy. She could no longer steam so Rear-Admiral Syfret ordered her back to Gibraltar in tow of HMS Eridge. They had an anxious passage, being shadowed by aircraft continuously during daylight hours, but were not again attacked. On the 25th HMS Firedrake managed to lit one boiler so the tow was slipped. Both destroyers entered Gibraltar harbour on the 27th.

Soon after leaving the Skerki Channel in the evening of the 23th the convoy hauled up to the north-east towards the coast of Sicily. This was to lessen the danger of mines. The Italians did not shadow the convoy after the attack at 1945 hours and missed this alteration of course which they clearly did not expect. Around 2100 hours, as it was getting dark, enemy aircraft were seen searching along its old line of advance. During the evening the convoy sighted flares several times about 20 miles to the south.

Continued passage to the east and enemy attacks, 24 July 1941

Between 0250 and 0315 hours the convoy was however attacked by the Italian MAS boats MAS 532 and MAS 533. The managed to torpedo and damaged the Sydney Star. HMAS Nestor went alongside and took off almost 500 soldiers. Sydney Star was however able to continue her passage as staggler escorted initially by HMAS Nestor. Admiral Syfret however sent back HMS Hermione. At 1000/24 eight German dive bombers and two high level bombers attacked. Their bombs fell close the escorting ships. HMS Hermione shot down one dive bomber. The three ships arrived at Malta early in the afternoon.

The main body of the convoy meanwhile continued on its way unhindered after the attacks of the motor torpedo boats except for an attempt by three torpedo planes around 0700 hours. They dropped their torpedoes at a safe distance when fired on by the destroyers in the screen ahead. According to the orders Rear-Admiral Syfret was to leave the convoy now, if there was no threat from Italian surface forces, and go on to Malta with the cruisers and some of the destroyers. They were to land the passengers and stores, complete with fuel and return to Force H as soon as possible. The remaining destroyers were to accompany the transports to Malta. They too were to join Force H as soon as possible. Rear-Admiral Syfret felt easy about the surface danger as all Italian ships were reported in harbour the day before, but he was anxious about the threat to the convoy from the air. He decided to go ahead with the cruiser but leave all destroyers with the convoy so at 0745/24, HMS Edinburgh, HMS Arethusa and HMS Manxman left the convoy and pressed ahead at high speed to Malta where they arrived at noon the same day. The transports and the destroyers arrived about four hours later. They had been attacked only once by a torpedo plane since the cruisers separated.

Return passage of the warships of force X to make rendez-vous with Force H.

In the evening HMS Edinburgh, HMS Arethusa, HMS Hermione and HMS Manxman sailed together followed by five destroyers; HMS Cossack, HMS Maori, HMS Sikh, HMAS Nestor, HMS Foxhound, later the same evening. The destroyers overtook the cruisers in the morning of the 25th. The sixth destroyer, HMS Farndale, had to be left at Malta due to defects (condenser problems). All ships made rendez-vous with Force H to the north-west of Galita Island at 0800/25.

Movements of Force H after it parted from the convoy.

After parting with the convoy in the evening of the 23rd, Vice-Admiral Sommerville had taken force H westward at 18 knots until the afternoon of the 24th going as far west as 03°30’E. He then turned back to meet Admiral Syfret, also sending from HMS Ark Royal six Swordfish aircraft which left her in position 37°42’N, 07°17’E at 1000/25. After their junction Forces H and X made the best of way towards Gibraltar. Fighter patrols of HMS Ark Royal shot down a shadowing aircraft soon after the fleet had shaped course to the westward, losing a Fulmar in doing so. However another aircraft had meanwhile reported the fleet.

High level bombers appeared from the east and torpedo bombers from the north at 1100 hours. HMS Ark Royal at that moment had four fighters in the air and sent up six more. They prevented the bombing attack shooting down three aircraft out of eight at a cost of two Fulmars, while the ships watched the enemy jettison their bombs 15 miles away. The torpedo attack came to nothing too for the enemy gave up the attempt and retired while still several miles from the fleet. Two days later, on the 27th, the fleet reached Gibraltar.

The movements of the seven empty ships coming from Malta.

Six of the transports / tankers left Malta for Gibraltar in the morning of the 23rd, escorted by HMS Encounter. The seventh ship, tanker Svenor grounded while leaving harbour and was held up for some hours. At dusk, when a few miles from Pantelleria, the six ships devided into pairs according to their speed. HMS Encounter initially escorted the middle pair but joined the leading ships in the evening of the 24th when past the Galita Bank.

Italian aircraft, both high level bombers and torpedo planes, attacked all these ships on the 24th to the southward of Sardinia. They made their first attempt on the second pair of transports and HMS Encounter. Four torpedo planes attacked at 1230/24 and four bombers at 1250/24. No ships were hit though the bombs fell close. Next came the turn for the leading pair, which were attacked further westwards by two bombers that came singly at 1330/24 and 1400/24. The second plane nearly hit HMS Breconshire. Finally when the third pair of ships reached about the same position in the evening they were attacked by torpedo planes and the Hoegh Hood was damaged but she managed to arrive at Gibraltar only a few hours after her consort on the 27th. The last ship, the one that had been delayed at Malta, arrived on the 28th. (6)

24 Jul 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) attacked an unescorted convoy of two small merchant vessels off Palermo, Sicily, Italy in position 38°15'N, 13°21'E. Two torpedoes were fired at the 2nd merchant vessel in line but these missed.

According to Italian sources this was Doris Ursino (891 GRT, 1886) who reported the two torpedoes missed astern. She was following a pilot vessel to Palermo.

(All times are zone -2)
1338 hours - While 2 nautical miles North-East of Capo Gallo, Sicily, Italy sighted two small (about 2500 tons) laden merchant vessels. No escort was present. enemy course was 120°. Started attack on the 2nd ship.

1403 hours - In position 38°15'N, 13°21'E fired two torpedoes but they missed astern due to the speed being underestimated. Retired to the North-East. (4)

26 Jul 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) has to abandon her war patrol as Lt. Tomkinson is very ill. Course is set towards Malta. (4)

29 Jul 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) ended her 6th war patrol (4th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (4)

6 Aug 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. C.P. Norman, RN) conducted exercises off Malta. (7)

7 Aug 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. C.P. Norman, RN) departed Malta for her 7th war patrol (5th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol off the East coast of Sicily to guard the Southern approaches to the Straits of Messina.

Spare Commanding Officer Lt. Norman had temporary taken command of HMS Urge as Lt. Tomkinson was sick in hospital.

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

(4)

11 Aug 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. C.P. Norman, RN) is forced to abandon her patrol due to problems with one of the diesel engines.

Vichy vessels had been sighted but the submarine had orders not to molest them. (4)

15 Aug 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. C.P. Norman, RN) ended her 7th war patrol (5th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (4)

18 Aug 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) departed Malta for her 8th war patrol (6th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol to the North of Pantelleria to intercept an important enemy troop convoy.

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

(4)

19 Aug 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) tried to attack a convoy of large liners about 15 nautical miles North-North-West of Pantelleria in position 37°04'N, 11°51'E. She was spotted from the air and depth charged by destroyers. She managed to slip away unharmed.

According to Italian sources the convoy consisted of the liners Marco Polo (12567 GRT, built 1912), Esperia (11398 GRT, built 1920), Neptunia (19475 GRT, built 1932) and Oceania (19507 GRT, built 1933) escorted by the destroyers Ugolino Vivaldi, Nicoloso Da Recco, Vincenzo Gioberti, Alfredo Oriani, Maestrale, Grecale and Scirocco and the torpedo boat Giuseppe Dezza that had joined from Trapani, managed to squeeze between Urge and Unbeaten with only the latter managing a long range attack.

(All times are zone -2)
1815 hours - In position 37°04'N, 11°51'E sighted an Italian Savoia S.79 aircraft circling bearning 320°. Distance 0.5 nautical miles. Went to 85 feet.

1824 hours - Returned to periscope depth.

1826 hours - Sighted a convoy of four large liners bearing 030°. Range was about 7000 to 8000 yards. Enemy course was 180°. Started attack. A large destroyer was sighted coming towards Urge. It was thought the aircraft sighted at 1815 hours had reported a submarine contact.

1832 hours - Lost trim and before it was regained the destroyer was heard approaching at high speed.

1836 hours - The destroyer passed overhead and dropped four depth charges. A second destroyer was then heard to join the hunt. More depth charges were dropped while Urge withdrew to the North-West.

1925 hours - The last depth charges were dropped. HE faded out soon afterwards. (4)

20 Aug 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) ended her 8th war patrol (6th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (4)

25 Aug 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) departed Malta for her 9th war patrol (7th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol in the Tyrrhenian Sea.

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

(4)

27 Aug 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) torpedoed and damaged the Italian passenger ship Aquitania (4971 GRT) about 10 nautical miles North of Marettimo Island in position 38°11'N, 12°07'E. In the same attack the Italian tanker Pozarica (7799 GRT, built 1940) was missed.

According to Italian sources the convoy also included Ernesto (7399 GRT, built 1914), Col di Lana (5891 GRT, built 1926) and Riv (6650 GRT, built 1921) escorted by the destroyers Euro and Alfredo Oriani and the torpedo boats Procione, Orsa and Clio (and later by Pegaso). Aquitania was taken in tow by Orsa and Clio had observed the submarine breaking surface at a distance of 3,000 metres (probably due to loss of trim while firing the torpedoes) and rushed to the attack preceded by an escorting CANT Z.501 of 144^Squadriglia which dropped a bomb. The submarine had already submerged again and Clio dropped six depth charges then observed a second escorting aircraft dropping a bomb and followed with six more depth charges in the same spot, claiming the submarine certainly damaged if not sunk. Procione also turned back and dropped seven depth charges. Clio then escorted Aquitania to Trapani, three tugs had also joined to assist her.

(All times are zone -2)
0630 hours - Sighted a convoy of five merchant vessels and three escorts. Also two aircraft were patrolling overhead. Started attack.

0642 hours - In position 38°11'N, 12°07'E fired four torpedoes against a merchant vessel of about 6000 tons. Range was 4500 yards. Ths ship was the leading ship of the nearest column. The leading ship of the rear column was in the line of fire as well and was a tanker of about 5000 tons.

0643 hours - The torpedo in no.3 tube, which as fired last, only went half out of the tube and ran in that position. As a result Urge broached while displaying an 'angry' smoking torpedo at the foe. Fortunately the torpedo left the tube when Urge got level after surfacing. Urge then dived once more at a steep angle while the nearest escort came rushing towards from 3000 yards. Three torpedo explosions were heard thought to be one hit on the merchant vessel (thought correctly to be Aquitania) and two on the tanker. A depth charge attack now followed in which 20 depth charges were dropped but these caused no damage. Urge meanwhile withdrew to the North-West. Later the torpedo tubes were reloaded but not no.3 tube. It had been decided not to use this tube anymore during this patrol. (4)

29 Aug 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) fires three torpedoes against the Italian troop transport Victoria (13098 GRT, built 1931) about 10 nautical miles South-East of Capri Island, Italy in position 40°25'N, 14°25'E. All torpedoes missed their target altough the British thought to have obtained one hit.

According to Italian sources the other ships were Oceania (19507 GRT, built 1933) and Neptunia (19475 GRT, built 1932) escorted by the destroyers Aviere, Antonio da Noli, Camicia Nera, Vincenzo Gioberti, Antoniotto Usodimare and Emanuelle Pessagno.

(All times are zone -2)
1200 hours - Sighted three large liners with a destroyer escort going south through Bocca Piccola. Once clear they altered course to 215° and formed two columns. The far column consisted of two Oceania type lines and the nearest one was believed to be Duilio type. Three destroyers were seen to be escorting. No aircraft were seen. Started attack on the two funnelled liner in the Port column.

1214 hours - The Port wing destroyer came nearer. Went to 50 feet to evade as it was thought Urge had not been detected so far.

1216 hours - Returned to periscope depth after the destroyer had passed.

1218 hours - In position 40°25'N, 14°25'E fired three torpedoes from 4000 yards.

1221 hours - Heard one hit.

1224 hours - Depth charging started but none came very close.

1228 hours - Heard one heavy explosion.

1229 hours - Heard another heavy explosion.

1230 hours - Heard explosions as of ships boilers bursting.

1236 hours - A very heavy explosion occurred which shook the whole boat.

1255 hours - The last depth charge was dropped. In all 26 had been dropped. Urge withdrew to the South-East. Later the sole remaining torpedo was loaded. (4)

1 Sep 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) ended her 9th war patrol (7th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (4)

2 Sep 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) was docked at Malta. (8)

6 Sep 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) was undocked. (8)

19 Sep 1941
During the morning hours HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) conducted exercises off Malta. (8)

22 Sep 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) departed Malta for her 10th war patrol (8th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol off Palermo, Sicily, Italy. She is also to conduct a special operation.

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

(9)

24 Sep 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) attacked an enemy merchant vessel off Cape Gallo, Sicily, Italy with one torpedo. No hit was obtained as the torpedo had a gyro failure. The target of this attack has not yet been identified (as of August 2013).

(All times are zone -2)
1640 hours - While Urge was well inshore just Westward of Cape Gallo a merchant vessel of about 2500 tons was sighted. Enemy course was 165°. Started attack.

1701 hours - Fired one torpedo from 300 yards. It was thought to have run under the target until loud HE was heard on the Port side that was the torpedo circling due to a gyro failure.

1710 hours - The torpedo exploded on the bottom shaking Urge violently.

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

During the night of 24 to 25 September an agent was landed near Cape Gall. The agent was a Frenchman and carried a radio transmitter and the sum of 100000 lires. He hid the transmitter and money and went to Palermo but was almost immediately taken under surveillance by the secret police and watched for six days. As he returned to his cache he was caught and collaborated with the Abwehr in a “funkspiel” or radio game. The torpedo boats Dezza and Cascino were sent to intercept the submarine and almost succeeded. (9)

1 Oct 1941
During the night of 1 to 2 October 1941 HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) tried to pick up the agent that was landed a week before off Cape Gallo, Sicily, Italy. The attempt was unsuccessful as Urge was ambushed by the Italians.

(All times are zone -2)
2230/1 hours - Started to run in towards the land.

2340/1 hours - Stopped when about 1200 yards from the shore and launched the Folbot with S.Lt. B.N.T. Lloyd, RN to pick up the agent.

0001/2 hours - Gunfire was heard coming from the shore. At the same time a destroyer was seen to the seaward.

0005/2 hours - Flash explosions were seen on the shore which appeared to be signals. It was now thought that Urge has been lured into a trap. Accoding to Italian sources Sub. Lt. Lloyd was killed at this time.

0017 hours - Urge went ahead, dived and went out of the bay as the destroyer came rushing in.

0021 hours - The destroyer passed close astern.

0200 hours - Surfaced. The destroyer was seen to the South, laying stopped in the position Urge had been laying in to wait for the return of the folbot.

(9)

3 Oct 1941
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) attacked the German submarine U-331 with four torpedoes about 12 nautical miles West of Ustica Island, Italy. The Germans had sighted one torpedo track.

(All times are zone -2)
0830 hours - In position 38°43'N, 12°52'E sighted an object bearing 260° about 5 nautical miles away. It was thought to be a submarine which was confirmed shortly afterwards. Started attack.

0856 hours - From a range of 1300 yards fired a salvo of four torpedoes at the submarine which was thought to be an Italian Gemma-class submarine proceeding on the surface on a course of 78° at 11.5 knots. Three lookouts were seen on her conning tower and she was slightly trimmed down. One of the torpedoes fired had a gyro failure and passed down Urge's Port side. Urge then surfaced for gun action but when she did so the enemy turned away and dived.

0903 hours - A heavy explosion occured near Urge, this was the torpedo with the gyro failure exploding at the end of the run. (9)

5 Oct 1941
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) ended her 10th war patrol (8th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (9)

14 Oct 1941
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) departed Malta for her 11th war patrol (9th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol off the South-East coast of Sicily to intercept three Italian destroyers of the Navigatori-class there are thought to make a high speed run to North Africa with supplies.

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

(9)

16 Oct 1941
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) ended her 11th war patrol (9th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. . Only the hospital ship Virgilio had been sighted. (9)

18 Oct 1941
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) departed Malta for her 12th war patrol (10th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol off the East coast of Tunisia between Kuriat and Lampion Island.

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

(9)

22 Oct 1941
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) attacked the small Italian merchant Falco (343 GRT, built 1919) near Kuriat in position 35°45'N, 11°06'E. According to Italian sources she was unharmed, the other vessels were the motor auxiliary sailing vessel Illiria escorted by the minesweepers Angelo Musco (R.26), Italia (G.90) and Maria di Piedigrotta (R.122). They had sailed from Pantelleria for Tripoli. Illaria and/or Italia dropped a few depth charges.

Later on this day HMS Urge also torpedoed and further damaged the Italian merchant Marigola (5996 GRT, built 1906) off Kuriat, Tunisia in position 35°50'N, 11°06'E. The Marigola was already grounded after being torpedoed by aircraft on 24 September 1941. Five of her crew were slightly wounded, she was later raised by the French.

(All times are zone -2)
0630 hours - Sighted a merchant vessel of about 1500 tons with the escort of one large 3-masted schooner and four small auxiliary schooners. All these schooners were armed. Started attack on the merchant vessel.

0700 hours - Fired three torpedoes. No hits were obtained but the ship turned towards the shore. The crew was then seen to abandon her taking to the schooners. The schooners then started to patrol to seaward.

0756 hours - Urge meanwhile had been brought round. A single torpedo was then fired from 3000 yards. This torpedo was heard to hit after just over 2 minutes.

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

1042 hours - Sighted a merchant ship of about 4000 tons of Kuriat. Proceeded to the North to investigate but it was impossible to get close enough while dived. Decided to wait until dusk and then to proceed close in on the surface.

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

1815 hours - Surfaced and closed.

1834 hours - Fired one torpedo set to 8 feet from 3700 yards.

1837 hours - The torpedo hit amidships and a black column of smoke rose 100 feet into the air. (9)

28 Oct 1941
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) ended her 12th war patrol (10th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (9)

1 Nov 1941
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) was docked at Malta. (10)

6 Nov 1941
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) was undocked. (10)

8 Nov 1941
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) departed Malta for her 13th war patrol (11th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol in the Ionian Sea.

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

(9)

17 Nov 1941
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) made a torpedo attack on a convoy about 40 nautical miles West of Cephalonia Island, Greece. No hits were obtained.

According to Italian sources these were most probably the German Tinos (2826 GRT, built 1914) and the Italian Bolsena (2384 GRT, built 1918) escorted by the torpedo boat Orione on their way to Benghazi via Navarino.

(All times are zone -2)
1225 hours - Sighted two Southbound merchant ships of about 3500 tons escorted by one destroyer bearing 300°, distance approximately 8 nautical miles. Started attack.

1302 hours - In position 37°57'N, 19°47'E fired three torpedoes at the rear ship from about 5000 yards. No hits were obtained.

1310 hours - Four depth charges were dropped.

1325 hours - The convoy appeared to proceed undamaged. (9)

21 Nov 1941
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, RN) ended her 13th war patrol (11th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (9)

6 Dec 1941
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN) was docked at Malta. (11)

9 Dec 1941
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN) was undocked. (11)

10 Dec 1941
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN) departed Malta for her 14th war patrol (12th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol to the South of the Straits of Messina.

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

(9)

14 Dec 1941
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN) torpedoed and damaged the Italian battleship Vittorio Veneto (41167 tons, built 1940) about 10 nautical miles west-south-west of Capo dell'Armi in position 37°52'N, 15°30'E.

According to Italian sources the force attacked by Urge was made up of the Italian battleships Vittorio Veneto and Littorio. They were escorted by the Italian destroyers Granatiere, Fuciliere, Bersagliere and Alpino as well as the Italian torpedo boats Centauro and Clio. Vittorio Veneto was hit on the port side creating a hole 9 m x 14 m under the rear 15” turret, 40 men were killed and 16 were slightly wounded. She still managed to make 21 knots and reach Taranto.

(All times are zone -2
0840 hours - Came to periscope depth after hearing HE. Sighted two battleships, thought to be of the Cavour-class, screened by four destroyers proceeding Southward through the Straits of Messina at 17 knots. Started attack.

0858 hours - Fired four torpedoes at the rear battleship from 3000 yards.

0901 hours - Heard two (possibly three) explosions at the correct running range. A counter attack in which 40 depth charges were dropped followed during the next half hour. (9)

20 Dec 1941
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN) ended her 14th war patrol (12th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (9)

29 Dec 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. J.D. Martin, RN) conducted exercises off Malta. She was twice attacked with cannonfire by German Me 109 fighters from 6/JG.53, sustaining minor damage to the casing. (11)

30 Dec 1941
HMS Urge (Lt. J.D. Martin, RN) departed Malta for her 15th war patrol (13th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol off the East coast of Tunisia between Kuriat and Lampion Island.

Spare Commanding Officer Martin had taken temporary command of HMS Urge in order to give Lt.Cdr. Tomkinson a rest.

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

(9)

11 Jan 1942
HMS Urge (Lt. J.D. Martin, RN) ended her 15th war patrol (13th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. The patrol had been uneventful. (9)

22 Jan 1942
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN) departed Malta for her 16th war patrol (14th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol the approaches of Tripoli to intercept an important enemy convoy.

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

(12)

24 Jan 1942
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN) was recalled to Malta. (12)

26 Jan 1942
In the morning HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN) arrived at Malta. She departed again to resume her patrol early in the evening for a patrol area to the East coast of Sicily. (12)

1 Feb 1942
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN) attacked an enemy convoy off Capo dell Armi, Calabria, Italy in position 37°56'N, 15°42'E. A hit is claimed but in fact all torpedoes missed the target.

According to Italian sources the target was the German Trapani (1855 GRT, in convoy with the Italian Rondine (6077 GRT, 1924) escorted by the Italian torpedo boats Aretusa and Dezza. Aretusa dropped depth charges and claimed to have seriously damaged the submarine.

(All times are zone -2)
1015 hours - Heard a distant depth charge.

1025 hours - Another distant depth charge was heard. Also sighted a flying boat to the Eastward. Looked like something was coming towards Urge.

1027 hours - Sighted the upperworks of a ship that was hugging the coast. Shortly afterwards it was seen to be a convoy of a 3500 tons merchant vessel and two small merchant vessel of about 1000 tons escorted by three destroyers. Started attack.

1053 hours - Fired three torpedoes from 7000 yards at the 3500 tons merchant vessel.

1057 hours - Heard one hit.

1058 hours - Heard one torpedo hitting the rocks. A counter attack with 29 depth charges now followed.

1130 hours - Returned to periscope depth to find one destroyer circling round to position where the target had been hit. No other ships were in sight. Withdrew to the South-East and reloaded the torpedo tubes. (12)

3 Feb 1942
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN) ended her 16th war patrol (14th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (12)

12 Feb 1942
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN) departed Malta for her 17th war patrol (15th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to perform two special operations and to patrol to the North of Sicily.

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

(12)

16 Feb 1942
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN) landed one of the three agents she had to land near Tunis, Tunisia. The landing of the other two agents had to be abandoned due to the worsening weather.

(All times are zone -2)
2020 hours - Sent in the Folbot with Capt. Wilson and one of the three agents. A slight swell made this difficult.

2125 hours - The Folbot returned half full of water but had to be abandoned when she broke while being hoisted aboard. Due to the weather the landing of the other two agents had to be abandoned for this night. May be the next night would bring calmer weather.

2130 hours - Withdrew to the centre of the Gulf of Tunis. (12)

17 Feb 1942
During the evening HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN) again tried to land the two remaining agents but the weather was still not suitable. It was decided to postpone the landing for another day. (12)

18 Feb 1942
During the day Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN noticed that the weather became even worse and that it would be impossible to land the two remaining agents. Course was set to the North of Sicily where a parcel had to be delivered to another agent. Weather conditions became even worse and it was decided to remain in the Gulf of Tunis to ride out this gale on the surface. (12)

19 Feb 1942
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN) was now able to proceed towards the North of Sicily and course was set accordingly. (12)

22 Feb 1942
At 0100 hours HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN) started to close the landing position to the East of Capo St. Vito. Soon after enemy patrols were sighted inside the bay. It was decided to abandon the landing attempt as Lt.Cdr. Tomkinson feared being lured into a trap again in which was quite right. (12)

26 Feb 1942
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN) ended her 17th war patrol (15th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (12)

9 Mar 1942
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN) departed Malta for her 18th war patrol (16th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol in the Southern part of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

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

(12)

11 Mar 1942
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN) suffered from a defective Port generator. The patrol had to be abandoned and course was set back to Malta for repairs. (12)

14 Mar 1942
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN) ended her 18th war patrol (16th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (12)

23 Mar 1942
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN) departed Malta for her 19th war patrol (17th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol in the Southern part of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

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

(12)

29 Mar 1942
During the night of 29 / 30 March 1942 HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN) landed a raiding party to wreck a train. This was succesful.

An enemy ship was sighted shortly afterwards and attack with three torpedoes that all missed. A gun action followed in which three hits were obtained. As the enemy gunfire drew nearer the action had to be broken off.

According to Italian sources this was the Italian merchant Pugliola (2974 GRT, built 1917) on passage from Messina to Naples; she was slightly damaged by a single shell and two rounds of MG fire. She returned fire with two rounds (not three as claimed by Tomkinson) and forced the submarine to submerge. Two patrol boats Angelini and Eolo were sent to hunt the submarine but they were not equipped with hydrophones and they soon abandoned the chase.

29 March 1942
2335 hours - Arrived to within half a mile of the shore just north of Pisciotta, Italy. The Folbot party of two (Lt. T.G.A. Walker of Hertforshire regiment and Sgt. H.M.V. Penn) cast off and arrived on the shore 15 minutes later.

30 March 1942
0032 hours - The Folbot party returned. They had successfully placed their charge under the railway line.

0055 hours - An electric train hit the charge. The engine blew up and came falling down the embankment. During the approach of the train a ship of about 3000 tons was sighted to the seaward. Enemy course was 320° and she was about 3 nautical miles from the land.

0056 hours - In position 40°04'N, 15°07'5"E fired three torpedoes from 3500 yards. All three torpedoes missed as the enemy most likely saw the tracks. The gun was now manned and a chase started.

0114 hours - Fire was opened at a range of 2000 to 2500 yards. 16 Rounds were fired for 3 hits.

0118 hours - The enemy meanwhile had also opened fire and was now straddling Urge so it was decided to break off the action and dive. (12)

1 Apr 1942
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN) torpedoed and sank the Italian light cruiser Giovanni delle Bande Nere (5200 tons, built 1931) 11 nautical miles south-east of Stromboli, Italy.

According to Italian sources the cruiser had been on passage from Messina to la Spezia, escorted by the destroyer Aviere and the torpedo boat Libra. A third escort, the destroyer Fuciliere, had just turned back because of defects. Of her passengers and crew, 381 were lost. A large scale rescue operation was quickly organised, the hospital ship Capri, the auxiliary Lago Tana and the torpedo boats Pallade and Centauro joining Aviere and Libra and rescuing a total of 391 survivors.

(All times are zone -2)
0830 hours - Sighted a flying boat coming up from Messina along the route to Naples. Went to 85 feet.

0841 hours - Returned to periscope depth after hearing faint HE. Sighted the fore top of a warship.

0844 hours - Identified the warship as a 8" cruiser with an escort of two destroyers steering about 330° at 21 knots. Started attack.

0854 hours - In position 38°37'5"N, 15°22'E fired four torpedoes from 5000 yards. One hit was obtained.

0907 hours - The first depth charges were dropped out of a total of 38 but none was close. Breaking up noises were heard.

0940 hours - Returned to periscope depth. Saw the two destroyers and three flying boats. There was no sign of the cruiser. Urge went deep again and withdrew to the Westward. (12)

6 Apr 1942
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN) ended her 19th war patrol (17th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (12)

11 Apr 1942
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN) departed Malta for her 20th war patrol (18th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol between Pantelleria and Lampedusa. (12)

12 Apr 1942
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN) made a torpedo attack on an enemy convoy about 30 nautical miles South-East of Pantelleria. No hits were obtained.

According to Italian sources these were the German transport Amsterdam (8673 GRT, built 1921) and Giulia (5921 GRT, built 1926) escorted by the destroyer Italian destroyer Premuda and the Italian torpedo boat Clio. From Giulia three torpedo tracks were observed and from Clio two explosions were heard.

(All times are zone -2)
0718 hours - Heard distant depth charging from now on.

1105 hours - Heard HE.

1108 hours - In position 36°21'N, 12°39'E sighted two merchant ships of about 7000 tons bearing 005°. Distance was about 8000 yards. The escort consisted of two destroyers and two flying boats. Started attack.

1120 hours - Fired four torpedoes from 5000 yards. Just after firing a flying boat passed over Urge and she must have sighted the tracks and warned the convoy as HE stopped immediately and the ships started manouvering. No torpedo hits were therefore obtained.

1143 hours - Returned to periscope depth to find the convoy steaming south unscatched. (12)

13 Apr 1942
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN) is ordered to take up a patrol position with HMS Upholder (Lt.Cdr. M.D. Wanklyn, VC, DSO, RN) and HMS Thrasher (Lt. H.S. Mackenzie, RN) to the East of Tripoli, Libya (33°11'N, 14°09'E). This was to intercept the Aprilia convoy but the attempt failed most likely due to the loss of HMS Upholder who was to occupy the central position of the patrol line. (12)

15 Apr 1942
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. Edward Philip Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN) is ordered to patrol to the South of Lampedusa and later to shift to the area North of that Island. (12)

22 Apr 1942
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN) ended her 20th war patrol (18th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (12)

27 Apr 1942
HMS Urge (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN) left Malta at dawn on 27 April 1942 for Alexandria. Due to the constant bombing of Malta the 10th submarine flotilla shifted her base to Alexandria. Passage was to be made via Malta's North-East Channel (course 071° from St. Elmo Light), then via
(a) 36°00'N, 14°53'E
(b) 35°51'N, 15°15'E
(c) 34°55’N, 20°05’E
(d) 34°53'N, 20°28'E
(expected to pass this last point at 0700B/30 April)
(e) 32°12'N, 29°06'E
thence to Alexandria. Her speed of advance was to be 90 miles per day. HMS Urge was to arrive at Alexandria on 6 May 1942 but she failed to do so.

It has been claimed that the submarine was sunk by seven Italian CR.42 fighter planes from 153^Squadriglia off Ras El Hilal (Libya) on the morning of 29 April (the time was later given as 0800 hours). The claim originated with a telephone call from Comandante Dadone at Superareo to Tenente di vascello Barich at Supermarina. Dadone just stated that a submarine shelling an Axis convoy at Ras El Hilal was sighted and attacked by CR.52 (sic) fighters. Upon checking for the identity of the convoy Supermarina assumed that it was the Italian schooner San Giusto on her way to Derna as she could have been in the area. However, there was no confirmation from this vessel that she had been attacked and she was not in convoy (her file at the Ufficio Storico makes no mention of such an attack). Ras Hilal was usually visited by Alexandria-based submarines from the First Flotilla on their way to patrol off Benghazi. On 14 May 1942, San Giusto would actually be sunk by one of them (HMS Turbulent) at Ras El Hilal.

Information from Captain Manfredi to the German Naval Command in Italy stated that the convoy attacked at Ras El Hilal on 29 April consisted of three German MFPs (MFP 150, 154 and 156) and that it was attacked at 20 hours (which contradicted the earlier report, so even Manfredi appears to have been misinformed). To add to the confusion, although these three F-lighters were indeed in the area, German records do not confirm any attack although they do mention that Manfredi had reported such an attack.

Was HMS Urge sunk in this attack? It is quite unlikely, she had sailed in the early hours of 27 April and at a speed of advance of 90 miles per day (according to her orders), her route was straight to Alexandria and she had no compelling reason to be at Ras El Hilal on 29 April. In addition she was supposed to be in 34°53'N, 20°28'E at 0700B/30 April and this would have made her still some 150 miles short from Ras El Hilal had Tomkinson decided to go there. She could not have been at Ras El Hilal on 29 April unless Tomkinson had decided to contravene his orders and go at full speed on the surface night and day (allied submarines were instructed to travel on the surface only during the hours of darkness) and she would have had to beat speed records for “U” class submarines. Why would Tomkinson choose to risk his submarine and go to Ras El Hilal, an anchorage usually frequented by small vessels? Allied submarines had usually strict orders to follow their assigned routes otherwise they could easily be mistaken for enemy and they had more to fear from RAF bombers then from Axis aircraft, the latter having proven to be largely ineffective in fighting submarines. The CR.42 fighters of the Regia Aeronautica, armed with two 50 kg bombs, were unlikely to cause lethal damage to a submarine. The CANT Z.501 of the Regia Marina armed with two 160 kg depth charges were more apt to sink or damage a submarine and although several submarines were damaged by them, none is known to have been sunk.

Was there another submarine at Ras El Hilal? Apparently not, and submarines were frequently reported in areas where it is certain that none operated. Axis and Allied records contain many reports of attacks on non-existent submarines so the claim by the CR.42 fighters is not uncommon. In fact, at 1630 hours on 1 May, a CANT seaplane and a CA.311 fighter reported attacking a submarine just off Benghazi but made no claims of sinking. Had Tomkinson decided to disobey his orders, Benghazi would have made more sense than Ras El Hilal and the submarine could have been there at that time but again this is unlikely.

What was the fate of HMS Urge? She was most likely lost on one of the minefields laid by Axis forces to the east of Malta. Until her wreck is found, we shall never know for sure. (13)

1 May 2015

On this date it is reported that the wreck of the HMS Urge has been found off Ras al Helal, Lybia. If this is confirmed then it matches the attack by seven Italian CR.42 fighter planes from 153^Squadriglia on 29 April 1942.

The editor of this website and Mr. Platon Alexiades however have some doubs about this report. Due to the situation in Libya it is or the moment impossible to dive to the wreck so it will take some time for this matter to be settled.

More information: Missing WWII Submarine HMS Urge finally found after 73 years

Sources

  1. ADM 199/2573
  2. ADM 199/400
  3. ADM 199/1819
  4. ADM 199/1155
  5. ADM 173/17136
  6. ADM 53/114626 + ADM 234/335
  7. ADM 173/17154
  8. ADM 173/17155
  9. ADM 199/1116
  10. ADM 173/17157
  11. ADM 173/17158
  12. ADM 199/1224
  13. ADM 199/1225

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


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