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British sub wreck found off Sardinia

Discussion in 'Britain at Sea!' started by ColHessler, May 27, 2016.

  1. ColHessler

    ColHessler Member

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  2. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    A little description with the link would be welcome. Some links may not be permannent and a little text may preserve this article for the future. Thanks anyway for the story.
     
  3. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Member

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  4. Liberator

    Liberator Ace

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    Extract from "Naval Staff History - Submarines" re the loss of HM Submarine P311

    Operation Principal.' (January 1943) This operation had been planned some months previously, the three T class submarines, Trooper, Thunderbolt and P.311 being fitted in the United Kingdom with special containers in which the Chariots would be transported to the scene of operations. These containers were big, ungainly structures which not only gave the submarines a large silhouette but also made them unhandy while diving and seriously detracted from their seaworthiness. After fitting-out the three submarines left Scotland in November and made direct passages to Malta, passing through the Strait of Gibraltar in dark hours.
    The original intention was to attack the Italian battleships in Taranto and it was in furtherance of this plan that Traveller was sent on the reconnaissance patrol from which she failed to return. Before the plans could be put into effect, the Italian heavy ships moved from Taranto to Naples. These events, coupled with the critical stage of the Tunisian campaign and the need to take advantage of the period of the moon, led to a decision to attack the heavy concentration of shipping in Palermo and Cagliari, simultaneously with an assault on two 8-inch cruisers which had been located at Maddalena. It was then discovered, on 29th December, that the concentration of shipping had dispersed. The final plan was therefore for the two cruisers at Maddalena to be attacked by Chariots from P.311 (Lieut.-Commander R. D. Cayley), while Trooper (Lieutenant J. S. Wraith) and Thunderbolt (Lieut.-Commander C. B. Crouch) concentrated their charges on Palermo.
    The attacks were arranged for the night of lst/2nd January 1943, using U class submarines for recovering the Chariot crews after they had completed their attacks.
    Unruffled (P.46) (Lieutenant J. S. Stevens) and P.311 left Malta on the evening of 28th December with Chariots X and XVIII, Trooper with Chariots XVI, XIX and XXIII, Thunderbolt with Chariots XV and XXII on board, after dark on the 29th. Unison (P.43) (Lieutenant A. R. Daniell) left next day to act as recovery submarine off Maddalena, Unruffled being allocated for similar duties off Palermo. Owing to the large silhouette and general unhandiness of the Chariot-carrying submarines, the passage of the Sicilian channel was considered to constitute almost as great a risk as the operation itself, in view of the close and frequent enemy patrol of this area. The submarines were warned of this. During the forenoon of 30th December aircraft patrols reported torpedo boat sweeps between Marittimo and Skerki Bank, which were the normal prelude to the passage of an Axis convoy. P.311, at this time submerged, was approaching this line. It was therefore decided to keep Trooper and Thunderbolt to the southward of Pantelleria, but to let P.311 continue her passage and to report her position at 1830 on 30th. This signal was received at 0130 on 31st giving P.311's position as 38° 10' N., 11° 30' E. and was the last signal received from her.

    There is no evidence that the Chariots from P.311 were ever launched, nor is there any information from Axis records of the cause of her loss. It seems most probable that she was mined in the approaches to Maddalena. Unison (P.43) visited the selected cove in the Gulf of Asinara for the recovery of P.311's Chariot personnel but found nothing, nor did it appear that anyone had ever been there. She arrived back in Malta on 16th January.
     

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