Italian submarine fates

Ships hit by Italian submarines

HMS Bonaventure

HMS Bonaventure in October 1940

TypeLight Cruiser
CountryBritish British

Date of attack31 Mar 1941Time0244
0250 (e)
FateSunk by submarine Ambra (T.V. Mario Arillo)
Position of attack33° 20'N, 26° 35'E
Complement448 (138 dead and 310 survivors)
ConvoyGA 8
Notes From 23rd to 30th March, Ambra had detected noises with her hydrophones, but without being able to sight anything.

At 0030 hours on the 31st, she received a signal ordering her home and steered accordingly.

At 0237 hours, Ambra was proceeding on the surface when, from the bridge, S.T.V. Ignazio Spinale observed a shadow in the mist at a distance of 2,000 metres, followed by another at about 1,000 metres.

At 0244 hours, three torpedoes were fired from bow tubes at 4-second intervals. After a lapse of time, T.V. Arillo thought the torpedoes had missed. He was about to order the firing of more torpedoes when a double explosion was observed. He immediately gave orders to crash-dive. ASDIC pings (described as "Hastings" in the Italian report) were heard and many depth charges followed but the submarine escaped.

The target had been the light cruiser HMS Bonaventure, who was indeed struck by two torpedoes and sank. She was stationed astern of convoy GA. 8, consisting of HMS Breconshire and the steamer Cameronia escorted by destroyers HMAS Stuart, HMS Griffin and HMS Hereward, proceeding from Piraeus to Alexandria and steering 131° at 16.5 knots.

Twenty-three officers and 115 ratings were killed. HMAS Stuart was missed by a torpedo and carried out a heavy counter attack, dropping 29 depth-charges in seven deliberate runs. HMS Hereward carried out two attacks, the submarine breaking surface after the second attack, but then contact was lost. HMS Hereward picked up 310 survivors and brought them to Alexandria. Following this attack, British vessels were ordered to zig-zag day or night unless the weather was such that a submarine attack was unlikely.

Ambra had at least partially avenged the battle of Matapan.

See full details on this warship in our Allied Warships section.

Position of attack

Ships hit by Italian submarines