ATLANTIC - NOVEMBER 1942
Allied Convoy Routes
fast (F) and slow (S) convoys started in October and
November between the UK and North African ports: UK out:
KMF and KMS; Home to UK: MKF and MKS. From April 1943
these convoys sailed to and from the Gibraltar area
mainly with OS and SL-convoyed ships.
15th - The Germans
reacted to the 'Torch' landings on French North Africa (below) by concentrating U-boats off
Morocco and to the west of Gibraltar. A number of empty
transports were sunk, and on the 15th escort carrier
AVENGER sailing with
return convoy MKF1 was torpedoed by "U-155" and
went down off the Strait of Gibraltar. Only 12 men
survived. That same day, destroyer "Wrestler"
also with MKF1 sank "U-411". Over the next few days US destroyers
accounted for "U-173" and the RAF for "U-98".
15th - Canadian
destroyer "SAGUENAY" escorting an iron ore convoy off
Cape Race, Newfoundland, was badly damaged in collision.
She was not repaired.
Attacks on UK/North America Convoy ONS144 - Slow convoy ONS144 was heavily
attacked in the mid-Atlantic and lost five ships. Escort
was provided by the British B6 group composed largely of
Norwegian-manned corvettes. On the 18th the
was lost to "U-624" or
"U-262", but two days later Norwegian
sister-ship "Potentilla sank "U-134".
21st - Aircraft of
817 Squadron from fleet carrier
accounted for "U-517" southwest of Ireland.
Convoys - Archangel
to Loch Ewe, Scotland convoy QP15 with 28 ships
lost two to U-boat attack.
of the Atlantic - World-wide
losses in tonnage due to Axis submarines were the highest
of any month of the war - 119 ships of 729,000 tons,
mostly in the Atlantic. By year's end, submarines in 1942
had accounted for 1,160 ships of 6,266,000 tons or a
monthly average of 522,000 tons. Losses in the North and
South Atlantic made up most of this total. To deal with
this grave threat, a Cabinet Anti-U-boat Warfare
Committee (not the 1941 Battle of the Atlantic Committee)
was formed under the chairmanship of Prime Minister
Winston Churchill. It saw the first need as closing the
mid-Atlantic gap once and for all. Steps were taken to
further expand Coastal Command and speed up the
introduction of VLR aircraft. Adm Sir Max Horton,
commander of home-based submarines since 1940 and a World
War 1 submariner himself, succeeded Adm Noble as C-in-C,
Monthly Loss Summary: 93 British, Allied
and neutral ships of 567,000 tons in the Atlantic from
all causes, 1 escort carrier, 1 destroyer and 1 corvette;
U-boats including one by US aircraft off Iceland, and one
possibly by the RAF in the North Atlantic
EUROPE - NOVEMBER 1942
11th - Submarine
"UNBEATEN", on patrol in the Bay of Biscay
for U-boats on passage to and from Atlantic operations,
was accidentally lost in an attack by a RAF Wellington.
Eastern Front - In
the South, as the German forces in the Caucasus
and within Stalingrad were slowly ground down, the
Russians started a long-planned major offensive to
relieve the city and trap the invaders in the Caucasus.
Along 50-mile fronts to the north and the south of
Stalingrad, two large armies broke through the largely
Rumanian defenders. Before the month was out the Russian
pincers had met and Gen Paulus Sixth Army was
Monthly Loss Summary: 5 British, Allied
and neutral ships of 6,000 tons in UK waters.
MEDITERRANEAN - NOVEMBER 1942
North Africa - By
the 4th the Second Battle of El Alamein had been
won by Eighth Army. Rommel's losses in men and material
were so great he withdrew, first to Fuka and then Mersa
Matruh. The British got there by the 7th. New Zealand
troops entered Sidi Barrani on the 9th and two days later
reached the Libyan border. As the remaining Axis troops
continued to fall back, Eighth Army entered Tobruk on the
12th and Benghazi a week later. Rommel had moved back to
the old 'start/finish' line of El Agheila by the end of
the month. Montgomery halted Eighth Army after a 600-mile
advance in 14 days.
8th - French North African Landings:
By July 1942 the Allies had
accepted that a cross-Channel assault on German-occupied Europe
was not yet possible, and instead opted to land an expeditionary
force in French North Africa. For political reasons the main
landing forces would be American. Their arrival was timed to
coincide with Eighth Army's offensive. Plans were formally
approved in October, by which time the large amounts of shipping
needed had been organised and assembled. To provide them,
Russian convoys and those to and from Britain and Gibraltar/West
Africa had been suspended and the Home Fleet stripped bare. The
Allies' greatest concern was the hundred or more U-boats at sea.
Outline order of battle was:
Commander-in-Chief - US Gen Dwight D. Eisenhower
Commander Expeditionary Force - Adm Sir Andrew Cunningham
35,000 US troops
39,000 US troops
Naval Task Forces:
Rear-Adm H K Hewitt USN
Cdre T H Troubridge
Vice-Adm Sir H Burrough
Troopships, supply ships, tankers etc
of the task force carriers were escort carriers,
and the US totals included a heavy cover force.
In the Mediterranean, British Force H reinforced
by Home Fleet and under the command of Vice-Adm
Sir Neville Syfret, covered the Algerian
landings. Their main task was to hold off any
attack by the Italian fleet. Strength included
three capital ships, three fleet carriers, three
cruisers and 17 destroyers. Various other forces
added to the number of Allied ships in the area.
Over 300 ships were therefore directly involved
in what at that time was the greatest amphibious
operation in history, and the forerunner of even
greater ones to come before the war was won.
Throughout October and early November convoys
sailed for the landings on Vichy French soil in
the early hours of the 8th. Negotiations
with the French were not completed in time to
avoid resistance. There was bloodshed on both
Casablanca, Morocco -
US troops landed at three
points along a 200-mile stretch of Atlantic
coastline. By the 10th they prepared to
attack Casablanca itself, but this became
unnecessary when the French forces stopped
fighting. Before this happened the Western Task
Force had fought a series of fierce actions with
Vichy French warships. Battleship "Jean
Bart" was seriously damaged and a cruiser
and several destroyers and submarines sunk or
Oran, Algeria -
Within the Mediterranean,
the landings to the west and east of Oran were
followed by an attempt to smash through the
harbour boom and land troops directly from ex-US
Coast Guard cutters "WALNEY" (Capt Peters) and "HARTLAND". Both were disabled by
ship and shore gunfire and soon sank. (+ Capt
Frederick Peters RN of the "Walney" was
awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry. Five
days later he was kiIled in an aircraft
(Capt Agnew) and destroyers fought off an attack
by French destroyers outside the port. The large
destroyer "EPERVIER" was driven ashore
and "Tornade" and
"Tramontane" disabled. In addition,
destroyers "Achates" and
"Westcott" accounted for submarines
"ACTEON" and "ARGONAUTE". US
troops fought their way into Oran, which fell on
Algiers, Algeria -
A similar opening attack
was mounted by old destroyers "Broke"
and "Malcolm". The latter was badly
broke through the boom to land her troops. Hard
hit by shore batteries, she got away but
foundered next day on the 9th. Algiers was
soon in Allied hands and Adm Darlan, C-in-C Vichy
French forces captured. It was not Gen Giraud as
originally intended, but Adm Darlan who broadcast
the ceasefire on the 10th. Resistance was
stopped, but confusion reigned for a number of
days as the Vichy French authorities were
pressurised by both the Allies and Axis. However,
before long the forces of France were fighting on
the Allied side in French North Africa. Adm
Darlan was assassinated in late December and Gen
Giraud took his place.
Tunisia - On news of the 'Torch' landings, the first
German troops were flown across from Sicily to Tunisia on
the 9th and within two days started a large build-up.
Southern France -
Hitler ordered German troops into unoccupied Vichy France
on the 11th. On the 27th, SS units tried to capture the
French fleet at Toulon. They were too late to stop the
scuttling of three battleships, seven cruisers, 30
destroyers, 16 submarines and many other smaller vessels.
Spain - Throughout
all these events Spain fortunately stayed neutral. There
was therefore no threat to Gibraltar directly from
Spanish troops, or from Germans passing through the
country. And the Americans in Morocco were safe from
attack by the Spanish in Spanish Morocco.
9th - In continuing
Royal Navy submarine operations in the Central
Mediterranean off northwest Sicily, "Saracen"
sank Italian submarine "GRANITO".
9th - Off Oran the
was lost in collision with armed
10th - In addition
to the Atlantic approaches to Gibraltar, a large number
of German and Italian submarines were concentrated in the
Western Mediterranean to attack the 'Torch' follow-up
convoys. Transports and escorting warships were sunk and
damaged, but losses were never great, and seven Axis
were sunk in
exchange. On the 10th, destroyer
was sunk by "U-431" off
Algiers and Italian submarine "EMO" (1) scuttled after an attack by armed trawler
"Lord Nuffield". 12th - "U-660" (2)
was sunk by escorting corvettes
"Lotus" and "Starwort" northeast of
Oran. 13th - Next day "Lotus", this time
with "Poppy" accounted for "U-605"
(3) off Algiers. On
the 14th and 15th respectively, "U-595" and "U-259" (4-5)
sunk by aircraft. 17th - "U-331" (6)
by RAF Hudsons of No 500 Squadron and tried to surrender.
Aircraft of 820 Squadron from carrier
Formidable torpedoed her in error off
Algiers. 28th - North of Bone the Italian "DESSIE"
sunk by destroyers
"Quentin" and the Australian
"Quiberon", now part of cruiser Force Q
operating out of Bone.
10th - Further
Allied landings were made to the east of Algiers along
the Algerian coast, where there was little air cover.
Attacks by German aircraft on these and other Algerian
targets sank or damaged a number of ships. On the 10th,
was hit by an aircraft torpedo and went
down off Algiers.
Algeria - The first
of the further Allied troop landings were made at Bougie
and Bone on the 11th and 12th, well on the way to the
Tunisian border. 13th - "U-431" sent
Dutch destroyer "lSAAC SWEERS" to the bottom northwest of
Algiers. 20th - Cruiser
damaged by bombs in Algiers Bay. 28th
"ITHURIEL" in harbour at Bone was badly
damaged in bombing attacks and not repaired.
The Relief of Malta -
At the beginning of the month,
Welshman ran vitally needed
stores to Malta. On the 11th, sister-ship
Manxman made a similar dash from Alexandria.
Then on the 17th a convoy of four ships, escorted
by three cruisers and 10 destroyers, left Alexandria
(Operation 'Stoneage'). Although cruiser
badly damaged by German torpedo
aircraft on the 18th and had to return with over
150 casualties, the convoy got through on the 20th.
Its arrival effectively marks the lifting of the long and
bloody siege of Malta. Since Operation 'Excess' in
January 1941, two aircraft carriers, four cruisers, 16
destroyers and five submarines had been lost in the many
attempts to supply and reinforce the island, and in the
heavy air attacks launched against the George Cross
French North Africa
continued - After the Bougie and Bone landings in
eastern Algeria, British paratroops were flown into the
north of Tunisia and the advance began on Bizerta and
Tunis. US paratroops further south moved on to Gafsa from
where they threatened to take the coastal town of Gabes
and cut Tunisia in half. Fighting took place as the Allies
closed in, but by the time the main offensive started on
the 25th, the Germans had built up their forces around
both Bizerta and Tunis, and also occupied the east coast
towns of Sousse, Sfax and Gabes. However by month's end,
units of British First Army were within 12 miles of
24th - Off
lost to Italian destroyer escort
Monthly Loss Summary: 13 British or
Allied merchant ships of 103,000 tons
INDIAN & PACIFIC OCEANS - NOVEMBER
11th, Action of the "Bengal"
and "Ondina" -
Two Japanese raiders armed with 6in guns
attacked the Dutch tanker "Ondina" (one 4in
gun) and her escort, the Royal Indian navy minesweeper
"Bengal" (single 12pdr) commanded by Lt-Cdr W.
J. Wilson RINR to the southwest of the Cocos Islands in
the Indian Ocean. "Bengal" hit "HOKOKUKU" which shortly blew up. The other
raider soon disappeared. Both Allied ships were damaged
and separated, but reached port safely after this small
ship action which ranks with the sinking of the
"Stier" by the "Stephen Hopkins" just
two months earlier.
Papua, New Guinea -
Kokoda was captured on the 2nd, and by mid-month
Australian and American troops were attacking the
strongly fortified positions around Buna and Gona. Fierce
fighting carried on throughout November and December.
Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands -
more naval battles took place as US forces started to
push the Japanese away from the airfield towards Cape
Esperance: First Battle of Guadalcanal - On the night of the 12th/13th a
large Japanese troop convoy approached accompanied by two
battleships which were to bombard Henderson Field. A US
cruiser force set out to meet them in lronbottom Sound.
They lost two cruisers and four destroyers, and the
Japanese two destroyers in the fighting. Also Japanese
disabled by gunfire and later
finished off by US torpedo aircraft attack.
Second Battle of
Guadalcanal - Two
nights later the Japanese again tried to bring in troop
transports. This time a battleship action resulted and "KIRISHIMA" was sunk by the "Washington". Battle of
Tassafaronga - On the 30th in the same area, an eight-destroyer
'Tokyo Express' was intercepted by US cruisers and
destroyers. One of the Japanese was sunk but at the cost
of one cruiser lost and three severely damaged as the
24in Long Lance torpedoed tore through the US lines.
German Raiders - On
the 30th, German raider "THOR"
was destroyed in Yokohama, Japan when a
supply ship laying alongside caught fire and blew up.
Since leaving France in January she had sunk or captured
10 ships of 56,000 tons.
Shipping War - A
few Japanese submarines continued to operate in the
Indian Ocean and were now joined by a number of German
U-boats on patrol off the east coast of South Africa.
Monthly Loss Summary: Indian Ocean only -
23 merchant ships of 131,000 tons
ATLANTIC - DECEMBER 1942
Atomic Bomb - The
world's first atomic reactor went critical at Chicago
University. By now problems had arisen over the sharing
of the US work with Britain.
16th - In attacks
on UK/North America convoy ON153, "U-211" sank
destroyer "FIREDRAKE" in mid-Atlantic on the night of
the 16th/17th. 26th - Outward bound "U-357"
was detected by HF/DF to the northwest
of Ireland. Destroyers "Hesperus" and
"Vanessa" of the British B2 group (Cdr
Macintyre) with convoy HX219 located and sank her. 27th
- "U-356" attacked slow convoy ONS154
escorted by the Canadian Cl group to the north of the
Azores. Destroyer "St Laurent" and
corvettes "Battleford", "Chilliwack"
and "Napanee" all shared in her sinking. It was
a poor return for the convoy's loss of 13 of its 45
Battle of the Barents Sea &
Russian Convoys JW51A and JW51B
(see map above) -
After a three-month gap the first
of the JW convoys set out. JW51 sailed in two
sections. Part A left Loch Ewe, Scotland on the 15th
with 16 ships bound for Kola Inlet. All arrived safely on
Christmas Day, the 25th accompanied by supporting
Sheffield (right - NavyPhotos).
(14 ships) left on the 22nd escorted by six
destroyers, a minesweeper and four smaller vessels under
the command of Capt St. V. Sherbrooke in
"Onslow". Adm Burnett with "Jamaica"
and "Sheffield" joined the convoy south west of
Bear Island on the 29th to provide close cover
through the Barents Sea. By now "Tirpitz",
pocket battleship "Lutzow", heavy cruiser
"Admiral Hipper", light cruisers
"Koln" and "Nurnberg" and a number of
5in and 5.9in gun destroyers were in Norwegian waters.
The Admiralty assumed they were for attacks on Russian
convoys. In fact, they were in Norway because Hitler
Convoy JW51B was
reported an the 30th and 8in "Hipper"
(Adm Kummetz), 11in "Lutzow" and six destroyers
put to sea from Altenfiord to intercept north of North
Cape. Early on the 31st, New Year's Eve, the
British ships were in four groups (1-4). The main convoy (1) with five remaining 4in or 4.7in
destroyers "Achates", "Onslow",
"Obdurate", "Obedient" and
"Orwell" headed due east. (Some of the escort
and merchantmen had been scattered by gales and never
regained the convoy). Northeast of the convoy, detached
minesweeper "Bramble" (2)
searching for missing ships. Adm
Burnett's two 6in cruisers (3) covered to the north. Further
north still a straggling merchant ship and escorting
trawler (4) tried to reach the convoy. Capt Sherbrooke
planned to use the same tactics as Adm Vian in the Second
Battle of Sirte and head for the enemy while the convoy
turned away under smoke. Unfortunately Adm Kummetz
divided his force in two [1-2] and planned to attack
from astern on both sides - "Hipper"  and three destroyers in the north and "Lutzow"
 with the other three in the south.
On the 31st around 09.30,
the action started with "Hipper's" three
destroyers  heading north across the rear of the convoy (1), and opening fire on
"Obdurate". The convoy later turned as planned,
but south towards "Lutzow" . Then "Onslow",
Orwell" and Obedient" sighted Hipper"  and held her off until, at
"Onslow" was hit and Capt Sherbrooke badly
wounded (Capt Rupert St. V. Sherbrooke RN was awarded the
Cross for gallantry). Adm Burnett's cruisers  meanwhile, following a radar
contact, had diverted north towards the straggler and
escort (4). They only headed towards the
action at 10.00. Still to the north of the convoy,
"Hipper"  and her destroyers came across the
BRAMBLE (2) and sent her to the bottom around 10.40.
They headed south, and 40min later the 8in cruiser  approached JW51B (1), opened fire and hit
"ACHATES" which sank after the battle was
over. Lutzow  had already come up on the convoy from the south but did not join battle until
She was driven off by the remaining destroyers. By now
Sheffield (3) had arrived on the scene. They
quickly hit "Hipper"  and sank destroyer "FRIEDRICH
"Hipper" tried to get back to the convoy but
again the destroyers skillfully kept her at bay. By midday
the German ships were withdrawing with the two cruisers
in pursuit. Contact was shortly lost. None of the
merchantmen were more than lightly damaged and all 14
reached Kola on the 3rd January.
Return convoy RA51
left Kola on the 30th December. After being
supported part of the way by "Jamaica" and
"Sheffield", the 14 merchant ships were safely
delivered to Loch Ewe on the 11th January.
Learning his big ships had been driven off by light
cruisers and destroyers Hitler flew into a rage and
ordered them all paid off. Grand-Adm Raeder resigned in
protest and was succeeded as C-in-C, German Navy, in
January by Adm Doenitz. The paying-off order was revoked.
of the Atlantic - Total
U-boat strength at year's end approached 400 compared to
250 in January, and this in spite of 86 submarines being
lost in 1942. Of the total, over 200 were operational.
Many were on passage but the numbers on patrol were still
great and increasing. Most were in the North Atlantic or
west of Gibraltar although groups operated off West
Africa and South America with some success. The Allies
could deploy 450 escort vessels of all types against the
U-boats: this was a large number but still not enough to
curb the menace and go over to the offensive. In December
the Royal Navy and its Allies regained an old advantage
when after a 10-month gap, the U-boat 'Triton' code for
Atlantic operations was broken.
Monthly Loss Summary: 54 British, Allied
and neutral ships of 305,000 tons in the Atlantic from
all causes, 3 escorts; 1 German destroyer and 5 U-boats
including 1 each by US and indirectly by RAF aircraft in
attacks on HX217, 1 by US Coast Guard in mid-Atlantic
EUROPE - DECEMBER 1942
3rd - Escort
destroyer "PENYLAN", with Portsmouth/Bristol Channel
convoy PW257, was sunk by E-boat "S-115" in the
English Channel off Start Point.
Heroes' - Maj H.
G. Hasler led Royal Marine Commandos in canoes up the
Gironde Estuary in southwest France and damaged several
blockade runners with limpet mines on the 7th.
Eastern Front - In
the south of the Front, a scratch German force
tried to reach Stalingrad from the southwest but was soon
driven back. Further north, the Russians resumed their
push and annihilated an Italian army. By now the Germans
in the Caucasus were under heavy pressure. Fearing the
Russians would reach Rostov-on-Don and trap them, they
started to withdraw from the oilfields considered so
important by Hitler.
Monthly Loss Summary: 10 British, Allied
and neutral ships of 9,000 tons in UK waters.
MEDITERRANEAN - DECEMBER 1942
French North Africa -
German forces counter-attacked in the north of Tunisia,
driving back the Allies. Much of the fighting took place
in the Battle for Longstop Hill near Medjez el
Bab. By the end of the year Axis forces had established
strong defence lines around Bizerta and Tunis, and were
holding on to the eastern half of the country. The Allies
had lost the race for Tunis. Throughout January 1943 both
sides attacked along the line, but without much success. As this
happened more and more German and Italian troops were
drawn into Tunisia. When the Axis command eventually
surrendered in May 1943, it had drained Sicily and Italy
of some of its best men.
Cruiser Force Q -
Based in Bone, Force Q and a new Malta-based cruiser
force took turns attacking Axis shipping bound for North
Africa. On the 2nd, Force Q with
Sirius and two destroyers went into action in
the Strait of Sicily. All four transports in a convoy and
Italian destroyer "FOLGORE"
sunk by gunfire. As they returned,
lost to Italian torpedo aircraft
north of Cape Bon. 14th - Two weeks after Force
Q's success in the Strait of Sicily, cruiser
badly damaged by Italian submarine
"Mocenigo" northeast of Bone.
4th - In the first
USAAF raids on Italy, Italian light cruiser "ATTENDOLO"
sunk and others damaged at Naples.
Royal Navy Submarine
Operations - Throughout the month, British submarines
were on patrol in the Western Mediterranean and lost four
of their number. In return they sank several Axis ships
including two Italian warships. Early December -
"TRAVELLER" left Malta on
28th November for the Gulf of Taranto. Overdue by
the 8th December, she was presumed mined in her patrol
area. 6th - "Tigris" sank Italian
submarine "PORFIDO" north of Bone. 12th - In the Gulf of
lost to Italian torpedo boat
"Fortunale" while attacking a convoy. 17th
- North of Bizerta, "Splendid" sank Italian
destroyer "AVIERE" escorting a convoy to North Africa. 25th -
As an Axis convoy headed into Tunis,
"P-48" attacked and was
sunk by Italian destroyer escorts "Ardente" and
"Ardito". Late December - At the end of
the month submarine
"P-311" sailed for
Maddalena, Sardinia with Chariot
human torpedoes for an
attack on the cruisers based there. Her last signal was
on the 31st December and she was presumed lost on mines
in the approaches to the port.
Attacks off Algeria -
Attacks on Allied shipping off Algeria led to more losses
in return for the sinking of one Italian submarine. 9th
- As destroyer
"PORCUPINE" escorted submarine depot ship
Maidstone from Gibraltar to Algiers, she was
torpedoed and badly damaged off Oran by
"U-602", and never repaired. On the same day
sunk by torpedo aircraft to the
west of Algiers while escorting North Africa/UK convoy
MKS3. 11th - Escort destroyer
sailing with fast North Africa/UK
convoy MKF4 was lost to "U-443" west of Oran. 13th
- Sloop "Enchantress" sank Italian submarine "CORALLO" off Bougie.
- Porcupine's sister-ship
torpedoed by "U-565"
while carrying out an A/S sweep with Force H, and went
down off Oran.
15th - Destroyers
"Petard" and Greek "Queen Olga" sank
Italian submarine "UARSCIEK" south of Malta.
North Africa - On
the 11th, Gen Montgomery resumed Eighth Army's advance.
Under direct and flanking attack, Rommel abandoned El
Agheila and withdrew to defence lines at Buerat on the
approaches to Tripoli. By now he had decided to make his
main stand on the Mareth line in southern Tunisia. Eighth
Army reached Buerat by year's end. 19th -
Escorting a convoy to Benghazi, corvette "SNAPDRAGON"
was bombed and sunk off the port by
Monthly Loss Summary: 3 British or Allied
merchant ships of 6,000 tons
INDIAN & PACIFIC OCEANS - DECEMBER
Islands - After four months struggle, the US 1st
Marine Division was relieved by the Army. Japanese
destroyers continued to run in supplies by nightly 'Tokyo
Express', but by the end of the month High Command in
Tokyo had decided to evacuate its troops. Meanwhile US
forces pushed west from Henderson Field.
Monthly Loss Summary: Indian Ocean only -
6 merchant ships of 29,000 tons
ATLANTIC - JANUARY 1943
Convoys - Russian
convoy JW52 and return RA52 both set out in
January. Of the 25 ships in the two convoys, one left
JW52 to return to port, and one merchantmen with RA52 was
lost to U-boat attacks.
of the Atlantic -
Severe weather and evasive convoy routing kept losses
down in January 1943. However, south of the Azores, out
of range of air cover, Trinidad/Gibraltar tanker convoy
TM1 lost seven out of nine ships to U-boats.
Monthly Loss Summary,
including Russian Convoys: 30 British, Allied and neutral
ships of 189,000 tons in the Atlantic from all causes; 4 U-boats including
1 by RAF in North Atlantic; 2 by US aircraft off Brazil;
1 by unknown causes
EUROPE - JANUARY 1943
Air War - RAF
Bomber Command by night and increasingly the USAAF by day
mounted a growing attack on Germany and occupied Europe.
As agreed at the Casablanca Conference, U-boat bases and
their production centres would be major targets in 1943.
Yet in the first six months, not one U-boat was destroyed
in air-raids and the construction programmes were hardly
affected. Throughout the war not one U-boat was lost in
the incredibly strong, reinforced concrete shelters built
by the Germans at their main bases.
Eastern Front -
Russian strength was now great enough to attack along
other parts of the front as well as in the south. In the north
they managed to open a narrow corridor through to
Leningrad. The siege was partially lifted, but another
year was needed to complete its liberation. The offensive
in the Centre/South continued with the Russians
aiming (from north to south) for Kursk, Kharkov and
Rostov-on-Don. In the south itself, the pressure
on the trapped Germans at Stalingrad was increased. A
powerful attack starting early in the month forced Gen
Paulus and the remnants of Sixth Army to surrender on the
31st January, with the last troops giving in on the 2nd
February. The Battle of Stalingrad was at
last over. Further South still German forces in
the Caucasus retreated as the Russian attacks gathered
momentum. Those who could, escape through Rostov-on-Don
before its inevitable fall.
Shipping War - By
now the attack was being carried into the waters of
German-occupied Europe by Royal Navy coastal forces,
strike aircraft of RAF Coastal Command and minelayers of
Bomber Command. German aircraft, E-boats and mines
continued to threaten shipping around the coasts of
Britain, but few ships were now being lost due to the
combined effort of the RAF fighters, convoy escorts and
Monthly Loss Summary: 4 British, Allied
and neutral ships of 16,000 tons in UK waters.
MEDITERRANEAN - JANUARY 1943
Casablanca Conference -
Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt with
their Chiefs of Staff met for this important conference.
Major areas for discussion included the European invasion
in 1944, landings in Sicily and Italy after the Tunisian
campaign, the bombing of Germany and the continuation of
the war in Burma and the Pacific. Losses due to U-boats
and the shortage of shipping would prove to be
significant constraints on Allied plans. At this time the
two Allied leaders announced a policy of unconditional
surrender by the Axis powers.
Attacks off Algeria -
Axis attacks continued against Allied ships in Algerian
ports and convoys off the coast. There were losses on
both sides. 1st - Cruiser
severely damaged in Bone harbour by
Ju87s. 13th - Canadian corvettes on convoy escort
accounted for two submarines. On the 13th, "Ville de
Quebec" sank "U-224" west of Algiers. 19th - Canadian
corvette "Port Arthur" sank Italian submarine "TRITONE" off Bougie by gunfire.
- As corvette "SAMPHIRE" escorted Gibraltar/North African ports
convoy TE14 she was torpedoed by Italian submarine
"Platino" near Bougie.
Axis Supplies to
Tunisia - Attempts by the Italian Navy to supply the
Axis armies in Tunisia led to heavy losses, especially on
mines laid between Sicily and Tunis by fast minelayers
submarine "Rorqual". 9th - Destroyer "CORSARO" hit one of "Abdiel's"
mines northeast of Bizerta. 17th - Returning from
Tunisia, destroyer "BOMBARDIERE"
sunk off western Sicily by
submarine "United". 31st - Torpedo boat "PRESTINARI" and corvette "PROCELLARIA" went down on mines laid by
"Welshman" in the Strait of Sicily.
Axis Supplies to Libya
- Final supply trips to Tripoli by Italian submarines led
to more losses north of the Libyan capital. 14th -
by a RAF Beaufort and finished off by destroyers
"Pakenham" and "Hursley", escorts
with Malta/Alexandria convoy ME15. 20th - "SANTAROSA"
was torpedoed off Tripoli by MTB-260,
one of the growing number of coastal forces operating
along the North African coast.
Libya - Gen
Montgomery resumed the advance on the 15th, and Bueret,
outflanked by British Armour and New Zealand troops was
soon taken. The defences in front of Tripoli were
similarly outflanked and on the 23rd the victorious
Eighth Army entered the capital.
21st - Submarine
"Sahib" on patrol off western Corsica sank
Monthly Loss Summary: 14 British or
Allied merchant ships of 48,000 tons
INDIAN & PACIFIC OCEANS - JANUARY
Burma - The First
Arakan campaign continued as Indian troops tried to
move on Akyab.
Solomon Islands - Unknown to the Americans the
Japanese had been ordered to evacuate, but still resisted
strongly as US forces pushed them back towards Cape
Esperance. 5th - Operating off the Solomons with a
US cruiser force, the New Zealand
badly damaged in a bombing attack
off New Georgia Island. 29th - The Japanese still
carried supplies to Guadalcanal by submarine, and "I-1"
was caught by New Zealand armed trawlers
"Kiwi" and "Moa" to the north. In a
fiercely fought action they drove the 2,000-ton boat
ashore to the west of Cape Esperance and destroyed her.
Papua, New Guinea -
The Buna and Gona area was slowly wrested from the
Japanese, and by the 21st was in Allied hands. Papua, New
Guinea had now been liberated. The first phase of the New
Guinea campaign was over. Next was to clear the coast
opposite New Britain and take the airfield at Lae. In
preparation for this, Australian troops had already been
airlifted to Wau, inland from Salamaua. Capturing the
Huon Peninsula would take most of 1943.
Monthly Loss Summary: Pacific Ocean only
- 2 merchant ships of 9,000 tons
PROSPECTS FOR ALLIED
gained a famous victory with the German surrender
at Stalingrad in January 1943. Taken with the
October 1942 British Battle of El Alamein and June 1942 American Battle of
three Allied successes are usually considered as
marking the turning point in the 40 month old war
against the Axis powers. The Battle for
ending as it did Japanese hopes of controlling
the South West Pacific should also be added to
this roll-call of victory.
than 30 months of struggle and bloodshed
remained before victory was certain. Even
then, one Battle was not over until the very
end - the Battle of the Atlantic, although it
did reach its peak over the next four months.