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18 August 1941: Malta Submarine Sunk by Mystery Explosion

18 Aug

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Cant Z501 organised rescue

Cant Z501 organised rescue

P-32 LOST IN ATTACK ON ENEMY CONVOY

Malta-based submarine P-32 was sunk today as she closed in to attack an enemy convoy. At around 1530 hours this afternoon, the submarine was just beneath the surface off the coast of Tripoli when she spotted through her periscope a convoy of four enemy merchant vessels.  P-32 dived to 50 feet and moved rapidly to close on the nearest of the ships, a 6000 ton oil tanker.  As the submarine began to resurface there was a major explosion and she sank almost immediately to the seabed. 

Chlorine gas began to fill the submarine which was also flooding fast. Her Commanding Officer and two ratings attempted to escape through the conning tower but one of the ratings died in the attempt.

According to Italian sources, the explosion was witnessed by the crew of an Italian Cant Z501 which flew over the scene. They reported four men in the water, two alive and two dead.  The aircraft returned to signal to the survivors that help was on its way.  Lt David Abdy RN and his coxswain are reported to have been picked up by an Italian boat and taken prisoner.  The cause of the explosion is not known at this stage but is likely to have been a mine.

P32 Casualty List

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 AUGUST TO DAWN 19 AUGUST 1941

Weather  Sunny and hot.

No air raids.

Military casualties  Gunner Evan Morris, 182 Battery, 4 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 18 AUGUST 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Unbeaten and Urge sent out to intercept convoy north of Pantelleria.

AIR HQ Departures 2 Wellington. 69 Squadron Maryland patrols Tunisian coast and searches for convoy.  Patrols of western Ionian Sea, Messina, Reggio Calabria, Augusta and Syracuse. 38 Squadron 5 Wellingtons sent to attack Tripoli harboub, dropping bombs and incendiaries form 4-9000 feet. 105 Squadron 3 Blenheims set to attack shipping near Lampedusa.  

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  99 other ranks ceased attachment to 24 Fortress Company RE and re-attached to RAOC.

 

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Posted by on August 18, 2016 in 1941, August 1941

 

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