Italian submarine fates

Ships hit by Italian submarines

British Fame

CountryBritish British

Date of attack12 Aug 1940Time1120-
0800 (e)
FateSunk by submarine Alessandro Malaspina (C.F. Mario Leoni)
Position of attack38° 07'N, 22° 58'W
Complement48 (3 dead and 45 survivors)
Notes At 0550 hours, a steamer was sighted. Malaspina submerged to attack. It was identified as a tanker steering 200°.

At 0620 hours, two torpedoes (533mm, S.I. type) were fired from a distance of 1600 metres and the submarine went down to 15 metres. After 70 seconds, a loud explosion was heard (C.F. Leoni thought it was a double explosion).

This was the British Tanker British Fame (8,406 GRT, built 1936). She was sailing from Avonmouth to Abadan. She had sailed with convoy OB.193, but after its dispersal, she was now travelling alone. She was damaged by a torpedo hit and brought to a stop, but she opened fire on the submarine.

Malaspina had come back to periscope depth and fired a third torpedo (450mm, W 200 type) from 600 metres, It hit the engine room. The crew was now observed to abandon ship in three lifeboats and they moved away to about a mile.

At 1045 hours, a fourth torpedo (450mm, W.200 type) was fired. It was observed to hit with a large column of water but the explosion was hardly heard in the submarine. The tanker began to sink from the stern but remained afloat.

The submarine surfaced and closed the lifeboats. The Master William George Knight was taken prisoner and was well treated. C.F. Leoni would befriend him. A friendship which endured postwar.

Malaspina was armed with two old 102mm/35 cal. guns. She fired 22 rounds into the hull of the tanker, which finally sank at 1120 hours.

Three crew members perished. Forty-four survivors were rescued by the Portuguese destroyer Dao and brought to Lisbon.

Position of attack

Ships hit by Italian submarines