January 28th 1941 – Italian submarine sinks British steamer Urla west of Ireland

The discussion of Britain’s battle with Italy during World War Two is often confined to the Mediterranean and North African theaters. However, Mussolini’s forces also attacked Britain directly and even committed aircraft to support the German Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain. An even less-known fact is that Italian submarines supported the German Kriegsmarine in their siege of Britain in an effort to strangle her of vital war supplies from across the Atlantic.

One such Italian submarine was the Marconi-class Luigi Torelli which was launched five months before Italy would declare war on Britain and France in support of Germany. After completing its shakedown cruise and the training of its crew the Luigi Torelli sailed for German-occupied Bordeaux to join up with the small Italian submarine flotilla based there. Italian fortunes in the Atlantic didn’t often mirror their German counterparts but the Luigi Torelli would prove an exception when over the course of January 15th-16th 1941, the submarine attacked and sank three ships from a convoy over 400 miles west of Rockall; a British islet west of Scotland and south of Iceland. A fourth ship was attacked but escaped destruction.

Four days before this incident, the 17-year old 5,198-ton steamer Urla departed Halifax in Canada with convoy HX 102 carrying a load of steel and lumber bound for Manchester. The crossing was not an easy one for the 42 men of the Urla which struggled to keep pace with the rest of the convoy. The North Atlantic weather had battered HX 102 and a number of ships had to turn back to Canada to join HX 103 when the weather improved. The Urla pressed on but soon found itself straggling behind the others by the time the convoy approached the British Isles toward the end of the month.

Urla Luigi Torelli north atlantic submarine sinking italian navyOn January 28th, the Urla had the misfortune to stumble across the Luigi Torelli on patrol to the west of Ireland (Right). The Italian submarine fired on the Urla, scoring a direct hit on the ship which soon began to sink but incredibly not before all 42 crewmembers managed to safely launch their lifeboats.

While the war was over for the Urla, it was far from over for the Luigi Torelli. The Italian submarine would be on the receiving end of an attack when on the night of June 3rd 1942, it was bombed by an RAF Vickers Wellington using its powerful Leigh light searchlight 70 miles off the Spanish coast. It suffered considerable damage but managed to reach the port of Avilés in the north of neutral Spain but was damaged again shortly after in an attack by a Royal Australian Air Force Short Sunderland as it attempted to reach Bordeaux forcing it back to Spain for more repairs.

In 1943, the submarine was one of four Italian boats assigned to join a German mission to the Far East to sneak through Allied naval patrols to acquire vital war material from the Japanese in Asia. During the mission, the Italian government joined with the Allies and the submarine was interned by the Japanese. It was then taken on charge by a mixed German-Italian crew to combat the Allies in the Far East under the German flag as U.IT.25. It served the German Navy in the Far East up until Germany’s surrender in 1945 after which the submarine was then taken on by the Japanese as I-504. The submarine and her Italian sister Comandante Cappellini were the only two ships to fly the flags of all three main Axis powers during the course of World War II.

With the war nearly over, the service life of I-504 was relatively short. Based in Kobe, Japan it was damaged in a major air raid on the city by USAAF B-29 Superfortress bombers on July 15th 1945; less than 24 hours after its new Japanese captain had assumed command. The I-504 is credited as probably the last warship of the Axis powers to score a victory over the Allies when in the waning days of the war its deck guns shot down a B-25 Mitchell bomber that was raiding the harbour.

On August 30th, the I-504 was formally surrendered to the Allies ending the submarine’s war for good. On April 16th 1946, the submarine was taken out in to the Kii Channel east of the city of Tokushima and scuttled. A sad end to the story of an incredible warship.

 

Advertisements

Twas the before Christmas at HMS Drake

A little something for Christmas Eve courtesy of the “Senior Service”.

Merry Christmas to you all and please spare a thought or prayer for our service personnel spending tomorrow on duty away from home, across the globe.

The First Changing of the Queen’s Guard by the Royal Navy at Buckingham Palace

Royal Navy sailors have performed the Changing of the Guard outside Buckingham Palace for the first time in the ceremony’s 357-year history. Eighty-six sailors from 45 Royal Navy ships and establishments spent a month preparing ahead of the first ceremony on Sunday morning.

Representing many branches of the Royal Navy, the Senior Service’s traditional navy blue uniforms have replaced for a short period, the distinctive red tunics worn by the Foot Guards. Starting at Buckingham Palace in full show of the general public, they are also set to Mount Royal Guards at Windsor Castle, The Tower of London and St James’s Palace over the next few weeks.

“The last time the Navy had an operational role guarding the Queen was with Elizabeth the first, when Sir Walter Raleigh was appointed Captain of the Queen’s Guard in 1587,” said Captain of the Queen’s Guard, Lieutenant Commander Steve Elliot and Raleigh’s successor in the role. “So it goes back a little while.”

News Round-Up – October 4th 2017

RAF RC-135

Here are some of the latest British military news stories making the headlines this past week.


General Defence News

The UK must rebuild its military power, general tells the PM: Former top brass says
(Daily Mail)

EU mission struggling in Libya, internal report says
(EUobserver)


British Army News

British Troops Help Treat Wounded At Mass Shooting In Las Vegas
(Forces Network)

Foxhound armoured vehicles can’t stand the heat, claims army source
(The Times)

Army has new fight on its hands as it battles obesity
(Express)

Armed soldiers in camouflage storm British shopping centre in late night ‘mission’
(Mirror)

Former Gurkha “Drowned In His Own Blood” After NHS Staff Said He Was “Asleep”
(Forces Network)

Wounded Maidstone veteran to climb Mount Everest to raise money for Royal British Legion
(Kent News)

SAS launch mission to kill or capture Osama Bin Laden’s son in Syria before he can copy his father
(Daily Mail)

‘It’s a vendetta’ Hero veteran who fought ISIS investigated by MoD for fraud
(Express)

Demons are winning’: Heartbreaking last letter of traumatised soldier who killed himself
(Mirror)


Royal Air Force News

RAF jets intercept flight after security ‘hoax’
(BBC)

RAF receives final RC-135V/W Rivet Joint
(Shephard Media)

BBMF set to fly to Lancaster crash site in Netherlands
(LincolnshireLive)

Two RAF corporals set to cycle 1600 miles in two weeks to visit football grounds in aid of charities
(Daily Echo)

Qatar Airways A350 in amazing formation flight with Red Arrows
(Gulf Times)

RAF asked Welsh hopeful to pass an English test despite his GCSE
(BBC News)


Royal Navy & Marines News

Sir Michael Fallon defends nuclear deterrent amid heightened North Korea threat
(Yahoo News UK)

Royal Navy submarine commander removed over claim of ‘inappropriate relationship’ with female officer
(Telegraph)

Britain readies for war with biggest navy drill as 35 warships swoop on UK coast
(Daily Star)

North Atlantic Council visits UK strategic nuclear forces
(NATO HQ)


Disclaimer: All news stories are the property of their respective publishers. Any opinions expressed in the articles are of the person making them. An effort is made to vary news sources as much as possible to avoid political bias.

 

News Round-Up – September 20th 2017

RFA_Argus-2

Here are some of the latest British military news stories making the headlines this past week.


General Defence News

We’ll end up with a ‘Third World’ military, former head of the Navy warns
(Plymouth Herald)

BAE’s Typhoon must navigate Gulf diplomacy
(Financial Times)

Up to 70 new jobs at Broughton as MoD strike deal on surveillance plane upgrade
(Deeside)

Stunning images of American Spitfires donated by the RAF
(Daily Mail)


British Army News

British Army’s AJAX in final stages of testing
(Forces Network)

Thousands of troops will have their wages cut by £352 next year, shocking new figures reveal
(Mirror)

Narrow win puts Army in pole position for inter-services title
(Forces Network)

British Army bike stunt team disbands after 90 Years
(RideApart)

Statues honour former Devon and Dorset Army regiments
(BBC News)

British army veterans march on Westminster in support of former soldier facing prosecution in connection with death of a vulnerable man during the Troubles
(Irish News)


Royal Air Force News

Hercules refuels in Bermuda
(The Royal Gazette)

Facebook blasted for banning RAF’s charity disability campaign while allowing ISIS beheading
(The Sun)

RAF re-open radar base on Britain’s most northerly island
(Yorkshire Post)

RAF helicopter crash in Kabul ‘partly caused by surveillance balloon’
(The Guardian)

23 photos of RAF Mildenhall to celebrate The United States Air Force’s 70th birthday
(Norfolk Eastern Daily Press)

Air Cadets honour Second World War Royal Air Force pilots
(Grand River Sachem)


Royal Navy & Marines News

US Navy research chief urges caution as British Admirals begin dash for autonomy
(USNI News)

Royal Navy ‘can only send a quarter of its warships to sea after Armed Forces budget cuts’
(Daily Mail)

Lockheed Martin and Elbit Systems to partner for British Royal Navy’s MEWP project
(Naval Technology)

Royal Navy to discuss developing effective maritime cyber security standards
(EIN News)

Royal Navy historic plane returns to Somerset three years after crash-landing at a show
(BBC News)

Those magnificent men: Fascinating pictures show how Royal Navy officers first took to the skies
(Daily Mail)

Daughter of Royal Navy POW launches emotional search for Japanese boy who helped him
(Telegraph)


Disclaimer: All news stories are the property of their respective publishers. Any opinions expressed in the articles are of the person making them. An effort is made to vary news sources as much as possible to avoid political bias.