31 August 1941: Malta Submarines & Swordfish Sink 12 Axis Ships

31 Aug

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HM Submarine Triumph

HM Submarine Triumph


The chief events during the month have been:

  • The increasing success of the attack on the Italy to Tripoli shipping route.
  • The successful completed of ‘Operation Style’.
  • The attempt to pass ships from the former Operation Substance convoy to the westward without escort.

Attacks on Italian Shipping

(a) Submarines  During the month, 12 patrols were carried out by the submarine flotilla (and Triumph).  During the course of these patrols, the following successes were obtained:

  • 6 ships totaling 50,000 tons (approximately) are believed to have been sunk.
  • 1 cruiser – almost certainly Bolzano – was damaged and subsequently seen to be beached near Messina.
  • 1 ship – the Aquitania (4971 tons) was damaged and reported in tow. 1 destroyer was probably hit.

In addition, two successful train wrecking operations were carried out from one of which, unfortunately, some of the landing party failed to return. The above results were not achieved without serious loss: P32 and P33 [on offensive patrols] and Cachalot on passage from Malta to Alexandria were sunk.

(b) Swordfish of 830 Squadron  16 sorties were carried out during the month.  In the course of these operations, 6 ships of estimated 43,000 tons were claimed as sunk.  One of the ships of 13,000 tons may have been a hospital ship.  In addition, a further 3 ships totaling 17,000 tons and a destroyer, were claimed as damaged.  No aircraft were lost due to enemy action.


Weather  Very strong wind and one short heavy cloudburst.

No air raids.

Military casualties  Corporal Cyril Taylor, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers.


ROYAL NAVY  Utmost returned from patrol on Calabrian coast.  Unsuccessful attack on a convoy and blew up a railway bridge.

AIR HQ Arrivals 2 Beaufighter, 2 Blenheim. Departures 2 Blenheim, 4 Wellington. 69 Squadron Marylands striking force patrol off northern Tunisian coast.  Photoreconnaissance of Comiso, Gerbini and Catania, and Tripoli harbour and railway line. 38 Squadron 9 Wellingtons despatched to attack shipping in Tripoli harbour in 3 waves hitting several targets.  Most bombs struck the target area, causing fires and damage to buildings. 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 5 Swordfish searched for southbound merchant vessel off Syracuse but found no trace.  One Fulmar patrolled over Gerbini and machine-gunned the aerodrome, then patrolled over Catania, returning to Gerbini to release incendiaries and machine gun aircraft on the ground, starting five good fires. 

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Strengths 33 officers, 869 other ranks (2 RAOC attached).

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 1

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Strengths 22 officers, 421 other ranks.

3rd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Total enlistments in August 85 conscripts, 2 volunteers. Strength on 31 August 18 officers, 636 other ranks.


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Posted by on August 31, 2021 in 1941, August 1941


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