torpedo

Apr

20

1944

580 men die as SS Paul Hamilton explodes

The ammunition-laden Liberty ship SS Paul Hamilton is completely destroyed after being struck by a German aerial torpedo launched from a Junkers Ju 88A, 20 April 1944. None of the 8 officers, 39 crew, 29 armed guards, and 504 troops aboard survived. About 21:00 hrs on 20 April the convoy UGS-38 had been heavily attacked with torpedoes from 23 German aircraft of III./KG 26, I. and III./KG 77, just north of Algiers in the Mediterranean Sea. During the engagement five ships were torpedoed, three of them being sunk. Sunk were the destroyer USS Lansdale (DD-426) and the SS Paul Hamilton. The SS Royal Star was torpedoed aft and was abandoned by her crew. The SS Samite and the SS Stephen F. Austin were both torpedoed in the bow, but managed to reach Algiers.

When I arrived at the side of the ship, I found that they had rigged up a cargo net over the side for us to climb up on. The waves were running maybe three to five feet at the time, so I waited until I was lifted by a wave and grabbed the cargo net. However, I was so weakened by the cold that I could not hold on and fell back into the sea. The next time I tried, when the wave lifted me and I reached for the net, two sailors grabbed me by the seat of my pants and heaved me up on deck.

Nov

15

1943

With ‘The ‘Plywood Navy’ – duel with plane in the Med

From the bridge of an MTB showing the aft Bofors gun and MTB 378 at speed astern in the Mediterranean. These vessels were part of a small force of British MTBs which, together with American patrol boats, turned the 45 mile stretch of enemy held coast between Sezi and Genoa into their hunting ground.

The lines of the tracers reach for the disappearing plane and the lines seem to curve the way the stream from a hose does when you move the hose. Then the guns are silent. The master calls, “Watch out for him. He may be back. Watch for him from the same side.” The gunners obediently swing their guns about. This time he didn’t cut his motors. Maybe he needed altitude. You could hear him coming.

Feb

7

1943

U-boat Wolfpack ‘Arrow’ attacks convoy SC-118

The USCG Cutter USS Bibb disobeyed orders to stay with the convoy and went to the aid of the SS Henry Mallory troopship, saving 202 men out the 498 passengers and crew on board.

There were two army soldiers who didn’t want to get on a raft, I tried to tell them the ship was sinking, but they still didn’t want to go.
Finally I picked one of them up and threw him in the water. The second guy still didn’t want to go, so I told him I would throw him in too if he didn’t go on his own. Finally he did go on a raft.

Nov

30

1942

The Battle of Tassafaronga, off Guadalcanal

The U.S. Navy heavy cruiser USS New Orleans (CA-32) camouflaged at Tulagi, Solomon Islands, some days after she was torpedoed during the Battle of Tassafaronga on 30 November 1942. Note that her stern is riding high, and that her forward end is low in the water. The torpedo and subsequent explosion had severed her bow between No.1 and No.2 eight-inch gun turrets.

I walked alongside the silent turret two and was stopped by a lifeline stretched from the outboard port lifeline to the side of the turret. Thank God it was there, for one more step and I would have pitched head first into the dark water thirty feet below. The bow was gone. One hundred and twenty five feet of ship and number one main battery turret with three 8 inch guns were gone. Eighteen hundred tons of ship were gone.

May

2

1942

HMS Edinburgh’s last battle

The light cruiser HMS Edinburgh had lost most of her stern in a torpedo attack on the 30th April. She was being towed back to Murmansk when German destroyers attacked.

But we had to go as the list was increasing. We went up on deck and found that one of the minesweepers had come alongside and was already taking the wounded and passengers aboard. While we waited our turn, we huddled together behind the hangar out of the freezing wind. We were all in pretty bad shape …

Apr

6

1941

Kenneth Campbell attacks the Gneisenau

The Bristol Beaufort torpedo bomber used by RAF Coastal Command.

Bad weather caused the six aircraft in the raid to become separated. Kenneth Campbell arrived at the grouping point off the harbour alone and, after waiting for any other aircraft to arrive, launched a single aircraft attack against the target knowing that the defences had not been eliminated. He flew directly into one of the most heavily defended targets in the whole of europe, encircled with up to one thousand anti-aircraft and other guns.

Nov

11

1940

Italian Fleet attacked in Taranto harbour

The Fairey Swordfish biplane in flight with torpedo

The torpedo aircraft then had to launch their torpedoes from a steady height of 150 feet while travelling at 90 knots in order to cope with the relatively shallow water. This should have made them sitting ducks for the Anti-Aircraft guns of the Battleships and Cruisers that they were attacking, and heavy casualties were anticipated. In fact only two aircraft were shot down, the crew from one of them surviving as prisoners. Three battleships were hit by torpedoes, one was sunk and the two others seriously damaged.

Oct

1

1940

Naval Intelligence monitors Gunther Prien

The Anti-Submarine Warfare Branch of Naval Intelligence monitored the patrols of individual U-boats. The October 1940 report shows the known sinkings by Kapitanleutnant Prien during his 28 day September patrol.

He started operations by sinking the Belgian Ville de Mons on the 2nd of the month, N.E. of Rockall. Proceeding westward he sank the British Titan on the 4th when N.W. of Rockall, and it is thought that he then fell in with convoy S.C.2, … sinking on the 7th the Norwegian Gro and two British ships, the Jose de Larrinaga and the Neptunian. Following the convoy south-eastwards towards Ireland until after dark on the 8th, he sank two more British vessels, the Poseidon and the Mardinian, about 100 miles N.W. of Malin Head.

Aug

23

1940

Four ships for three torpedoes in Bomba

Fairey Swordfish with Torpedo - three planes with one torpedo each sank four ships on 23rd August 1940.

Approaching the harbour Patch saw an Italian submarine on the surface. This was an unexpected bonus. It was later learnt that this was the submarine Iride, exercising with frogmen who were planning to make a covert attack on the British base at Alexandria. Patch released his torpedo from 30 feet at a distance of 300 yards and scored a direct hit below the conning tower.

Nov

14

1939

Torpedoed and in lifeboats off the Hebrides

‘One of the crew saw a torpedo coming without any warning, and next moment the ship was blown up. In about half a minute she broke into two and commenced sinking amidships.’