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ADMIRALTY WAR DIARIES of WORLD WAR 2

 

LEVANT COMMAND - September to November 1943

 

Transcribed by Don Kindell

HMS Carlisle, light cruiser, badly damaged 9 October 1943
(NavyPhotos, click to enlarge)

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Mediterranean Fleet September 1939 to March 1942

 

       
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SECRET 

SEPTEMBER 1943

PART I

September 1st

Convoy A T 1

3 M.V.s sailed from Alexandria escorted by H.M.A.S. GERALDTON and H.M.S. ISLAY, route inshore as far as Tripoli (L).

The “Z” convoys were henceforward discontinued, X.T. convoys sailing every ten days were revived for the benefit of the “slugs”.  The time allowed for reaching Tripoli (L) was 5 days.

Alexandria

A German U boat was reported approximately 50 miles N.N.W. of Alexandria at 0521.

H.H.M.S. PINDOS (emergency destroyer) followed by H.M.S. TETCOTT and H.M.S. BEAUFORT were sent to reinforce the escort of U.G.S. 14 which was due to reach Alexandria the next day.  H.M.S. EXMOOR and H.M.S. BELVOIR were held at one hour’s notice as a striking force.

September 2nd

Arrival of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy U.S.G. 14

Convoy U.G.S. 14 arrived escorted by H.M.S. DELPHINIUM, H.M.I.S. JUMNA, H.H.M.S. MIAOLIS, H.M.S. PRIMULA, H.M.S.A.S. SOUTHERN SEAS, and H.M.S. FALK.  8 M.V.s entered Alexandria and the Port Said section of 23 continued with H.M.I.S. JUMNA, H.H.M.S. MIALOLIS, and H.M.S. FALK.

Tobruk

H.M.S. ROMEO detached from G.U.S. 14 with defects sailed to return to Alexandria.  This class of whalers was considered unsuitable for through Mediterranean convoys and H.M.S. HYTHE was substituted for H.M.S. CUMBRAE in the escort of M.K.S. 24.

Alexandria

H.M.S. DULVERTON (5th Destroyer Flotilla), H.M.S. EXMOOR, H.M.S. BELVOIR, H.M.S. HURSLEY, and H.H.M.S. ADRIAS left harbour at 0715 and having been joined by H.M.S. TETCOTT, H.M.S. BEAUFORT, and H.H.M.S. PINDOS, whose passage with U.G.S. 14 had been uneventful, proceeded for bombardment of Ras El Kanayis at 1530. No aircraft or observers were available at H.M.S. GREBE for marking, but the ground had been surveyed beforehand and F.B.O.’s and B.L.O. under training cooperated.  On Completed at 1830, destroyers proceeded to carry out an anti submarine sweep along the route of convoy X.T. 1 as far as the longitude of Benghazi.  Aircraft of 201 Naval Cooperation Group cooperated.

Levant Area

There being no further evidence of the U boat, the search was discontinued at 0200.  Schooner sailings were resumed.

September 3rd

Canal Area

The Staff of Force “M” was disbanded and H.M.S. STAG “A” was closed down.  Combined Operations personnel being discharged to H.M.S. SAUNDERS and Landing Craft repair equipment was transferred from STAG “A” to H.M.S. SAUNDERS.  Port Party “W” was sent to H.M.S. PHOENIX to be held for future employment.

The majority of the ships of Force “M” left Suez having completed with their completion of Landing craft and crews for India.  L.C.I. (L)’s DILWARA, DUNERA, and L.S.P.EMPIRE PRIDE left on the 2nd.   H.M.S. KEREN and L.C.I. (L) ASCANIA, CIRCASSIA, and WINCHESTER CASTLE left on the 3rd, leaving H.M.S. BULOLO and L.S.C. EMPIRE ELAINE to follow when ready.

Levant

H.M.S. NOBLE NORA of the 168th Minesweeping Group was handed over to the Royal Hellenic Navy at Beirut and renamed SPERCHEIOS.

September 4th

Sailing of Through Mediterranean Convoy M.K.S. 24.

17 M.V.s left Alexandria escorted by H.M.S. CARLISLE (additional AA escort), WHITEHAVEN, HYTHE, ROMNEY, RYE, GLOXINIA, H.M.S.A.S. PROTEA, SOUTHERN ISLES, and M.L. 387 to Benghazi.

Cyrenaica

Taking advantage of the convoy movements to evacuate Benghazi empties, 2 M.V.s were sailed to Tobruk with M.L. escorts, there to join K.M.S. 24 and one left  escorted by H.M.S. KINGSTON CORAL to join K.M.S. 24 off Benghazi.  Two M.Vs. remained to return with the escorts of X.T. 1.

Canal Area

At Suez, the Flag of Rear Admiral Force “M” Rear Admiral A.M. Peters, D.S.C. was transferred from H.M.S. BULULO to H.M.S. ENDEAVOUR at 0800.

September 5th

Cyrenaica

H.M.S. DULVERTON (5th Destroyer Flotilla), H.M.S. BEAUFORT, H.M.S. EXMOOR, H.M.S. TETCOTT, H.M.S. BELVOIR, H.H.M.S. PINDOS concluded the A/S sweep off the “Hump” and proceeded to Tripoli (L) passing under the operational control of the Commander in Chief, Mediterranean for escort duties in the impending landings South of Naples (Operation AVALANCHE).

Submarines

H.M.S. Submarine TACTICIAN returned from patrol in the Aegean.  She successfully carried out operation BROMFIELD otherwise her patrol was blank.

At 1816 H.M. Submarine TROOPER sank a 250 otn schooner and a tug, both North bound through the Skopelos Channel.

September 6th

Convoy M.K.S. 24

H.M.S. HURSLEY and H.H.M.S. ADRIAS who had been detached from the A/S sweep off the Cyrenacian ‘Hump” reinforced the escort of M.K.S. 24 off Tobruk.  There were to leave it off Malta to take part in Operation AVALANCHE.

Aden

H.M.S. MAID MARION sailed to join the Eastern Fleet.

September 7th

Levant Area

At 1030 an Egyptian schooner HAMDEYAN was sunk by an unidentified enemy U boat in position 34-02N, 33-05E.  The crew was landed at Limasol the next day.  No casualties.

At 1021, a German U boat was reported by D/F in approximate position 50 miles south of Cape Gata, Cyprus, i.e. 10 miles further south.  A square search was immediately instituted by aircraft of 245 Wing Detachment and a schooner was sighted on fire 15 miles to the West, but no trace of the U boat.  The crew of the schooner, the Egyptian D 169 bound from Alexandria to Limasol, were landed on the 8th.

Schooner and unescorted sailings were suspended in the Levant Area.

Red Sea

H.M.I.S. NARBADA sailed from Aden for onward routing to Bombay.

The trial docking and undocked of an M.V. in the A.F.D. at Massawa was completed and the operation was in all respects satisfactory.

September 8th

ITALY SURRENDERED UNCONDITIONALLY HOSTILITIES CEASING AT 1800.

Cyrenaica

Mersa Matruh was reduced to Care and Maintenance Party of one officer, 6 able seaman, and 1 signalman, and the Naval W/T Station ceased watch at 0001.  The decision was taken in view of a request from the Commander in Chief, Mediterranean that a Port Party for Messina should be provided from the resources of the Levant Station.

September 9th

Sailing of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy G.U.S. 15

Convoy G.U.S. 15 was sailed from Alexandria consisting of 15 M.V.s escorted by H.M.S. SHOREHAM (Senior Officer), H.M.A.S. MARYBOROUGH, IPSWICH, H.M.S. PRIMULA, FALK, H.M.S.A.S. SOUTHERN SEAS.

Arrival of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy K.M.S. 24

Convoy K.M.S. 24 arrived Alexandria escorted by part of the 48th Escort Group, H.M.S. BLUEBELL, CAMELIA, BRYONY, F.F.S. LA MALOUINE and reinforced by H.M.S. ROCKWOOD (from Malta) and H.H.M.S. KING GEORGE II, a Greek submarine chaser which had arrived from the U.S.A. via Gibraltar.  8 M.V.s entered Alexandria, the section of 19 for Port Said and beyond was escorted by H.M.S. BLUEBELL and BRYONY, reinforced by H.M.I.S. SUTLEJ from Alexandria.

Alexandria

Party “W” consisting of 15 officers and 120 men was embarked in H.M.S. FAREHAM, BAGSHOT, and HARROW for passage to Tobruk to meet an urgent requirement that had arisen for a port party in the Western Mediterranean.  Onward transport was arranged in S.S. VILLE D’ORAN sailed from Malta to arrive Tobruk on the 10th.  Some light M/T was loaded in Convoy G.U.S. 15, but the bulk of the gear which was at Haifa could not be shipped earlier than in the next convoy, M.K.S. 25.

Submarines

H.M. Submarine RORQUAL laid mines in the Trikiri Channel.

Aegean

2 M.L.s sailed from Haifa to land a party to take over Casteloriso.  This Operation (Operation GANDER) was improvised in order to take advantage of the Italian Armistice before the Germans could obtain control.

September 10th

Cyrenaica

S.S. VILLE d’ORAN escorted by H.M.S. WHEATLAND and WILTON arrived at Tobruk and Party “W” who arrived in H.M.S. FAREHAM, BAGSHOT, and HARROW embarked for passage to Malta.

Levant Area

The Norwegian Naval Minesweeper SILHOUETTE was transferred to the Royal Hellenic Navy and renamed ACHELOOS.  The transfer of the 168th Minesweeping Flotilla begun on July 15th was thus complete.

Red Sea

The Armed Merchant Cruiser, H.M.S. CARTHAGE arrived at Aden and sailed for passage to U.K.

Submarines

H.M. Submarine TROOPER arrived at Beirut from patrol in the Aegean.

H.M. Submarine RORQUAL laid mines off Skiathos Channel.

Aegean

M.L.s 349 and 357 landed parties of S.B.S. and S.A.S. Detachment at Casteloriso and took over the island without opposition (Operation GANDER).

September 11th

Sailing of Convoy X.T. 2

Convoy X.T. 2 consisting of 11 M.V.s left Alexandria escorted by H.M.S.A.S. BURRA and H.M.S. ROMEO.  H.M.I.S. JUMNA arrived from Haifa to reinforce the escort.

Submarines

H.M. Submarine TORBAY arrived at Beirut having completed a short patrol in the Aegean, while on passage from the Western Mediterranean.  At 1200 August 31st, she sank a 40 ton caique by gunfire between Kos and Stampalia.  At 0656 September 2nd, she sunk a 1000 ton M.V. in an escorted convoy of three in position 37-14N, 26-40E.  At 1825 7th she fired 93 rounds 4” at Bauxite loading station and badly damaged the transporter.

H.M. Submarine RORQUAL laid mines north of Lemnos.

Departures

H.M.S. BULOLO and H.M.S. KEREN left Aden for Bombay thus completing the departure of Force “M” for India with H.M.S. BARNABY in company.

September 12th

Arrival of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy U.G.S. 15

Convoy U.G.S. 15 arrived escorted by H.M.S. STARWORT, DIANELLA, POPPY, SAXIFRAGE, H.M.A.S. GERALDTON and LISMORE.  5 M.V.s entered Alexandria, the Port Said section of 25 ships was escorted by H.M.S. STARWORT, POPPY, and H.M.A.S. LISMORE.

Alexandria

An Italian C.A.N.T. float plane which landed at Dekheila on the 11th arrived in the harbour in tow.

Red Sea


 H.M.S. GENERAL PLATT, an ex Italian corvette, salvaged at Massawa, was paid off and transferred for use as a light house tender.

Submarines

H.M. Submarine RORQUAL bombarded Stratoni ironworks with ninety rounds.

September 13th

Alexandria

4 L.C.T.s each towing 1 L.C.M. arrived from Tripoli (L).

Submarines

H.M. RORQUAL began a bombardment of caiques in Kastro Harbour, Lemnos, but was forced to dive by shore batteries.

Aegean

F.F.S. LA MOQUESE, COMMANDANT DOMINE, H.M.I.S. SUTLEJ, and H.H.M.S. KOUNDOURITOTIS landed 350 troops and stores in Casteloriso.

September 14th

Sailing of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy M.K.S. 25

Convoy M.K.S. 25 sailed from Alexandria consisting of 22 M.V.s escorted by H.M.S. BLUEBELL, CAMELIA, BRYONY, F.F.S. LA MALOUINE, H.M.A.S. GAWLER.

Levant Area

Eight Italian ships that had escaped from Rhodes arrived at Famagusta.  There were POSTIGLIONI, 200 ton minesweeper, POLA, passenger cargo steamer, 250 tons, AGUGLIA, steam trawler of 240 tons, IMPERO, steam tug 40 tons, GAETA, steam tug 150 tons, GARIBALDINI,  two masted schooner, 35 tons, SAN ANTONIO, R boat, 90 tons, NAVIGATORE, diesel driven wooden trawler 40 tons.  These were all naval auxiliaries and were the first Italian ships to reach a port in the Levant area after coming over in accordance with the invitation contained in the Armistice terms.

Aegean

A mission was establishment at Kos, Leros, and Samos.  H.H.M.S. KOUNDOURIOTIS, returning from Casteloriso,  attacked a good A/S contact at 1550 and finally lost it at 0205/15th.

September 15th

Arrival of Slow Convoy T X 1

Convoy T X 1 (escorted by ISLAY) arrived with 4 M.V.s and 1 tug for Alexandria while 2 M.V.s continued unescorted to Port Said.  H.M.S. LEONIAN was in company having been sailed fro Alexandria for repairs from Malta.

Group “P” H.M.S. HURWORTH, CROOME, ALDENHAM, and KANARIS arrived from Western Mediterranean.  H.M.S. HURWORTH and CROOME proceeded direct to Haifa to take part in Aegean operations and to load personnel and equipment at high speed.

Red Sea

The Port War Signal Station and Naval Control Service closed down at Port Sudan.  The communication service had already been discontinued and the minewatching organisation abolished.

September 16th

Arrival of Italian Squadron at Alexandria

The Third Division, First Battle Squadron under Rear Admiral A.W.T. Bissett, wearing his flag in H.M.S. HOWE with H.M.S. KING GEORGE V in company and a screen of destroyers of the Eighth Destroyer Flotilla – H.M.S. FAULKNOR, H.M.S. ECHO, H.M.S. FURY, H.M.S. INTREPID, and H.H.M.S. QUEEN OLGA arrived from Malta at Should Buoy at 0800, escorting an Italian Squadron.  This consisted of the battleships ITALIA (ex LITTORIO) and VITTORIO VENETO, the cruisers EUGENIO DI SAVOIA (Rear Admiral Olivia, S.O.), RAIMONDO MONTECUCCOLI, LUIGI CADORNA, EMANUELE FILIBERTO DUCA D’AOSTA, and the destroyers GRECALE, DA RECCO, ARTIGLIERE, VELITE.

Their voyage was without incident.  The ITALIA was drawing 34 feet 8 inches forward due to damage from a rocket bomb sustained off Sardinia and her reception was a quest of skilful pilotage.  She anchored off the Great Pass Beacon to await inspection and was berthed last with the assistance of tugs, but no mishap occurred.  The Italian battleships and cruisers were berthed in Mex Roads and the destroyers at El Kot.

The Commander in Chief embarked in H.M. Minesweeper DERBY to meet the Italian Squadron on arrival.  Boarding parties for the battleships and cruisers were provided by H.M.S. HOWE and KING GEORGE V, and for the destroyers from the Dockyard.  All Italian ships were left with their A.A. and close range armament intact.  No contact was allowed with the shore.

After the Italians came to their buoys, accompanied by Rear Admiral Poland (Rear Admiral Alexandria), the Commander in Chief, was present at a conference in H.M.S. HOWE at which the Italian Commander in Chief, Admiral Olivia, was handed the orders for this ships.

September 17th

Departure of Through Mediterranean Fast Convoy M.K.F. 24

Convoy M.K.F. 24, H.M.S. CARTHAGE and 3 M.V.s left Port Said for Algiers, escorted by H.M.S. ALDENHAM, ROCKWOOD, H.H.M.S. KANARIS and MIALOULIS.

Aegean

H.M.S. HURWORTH and CROOME landed a Communications party, 300 troops, and stores in Leros.  The Italians promised full cooperation.

September 18th

Canal Area

The Flag of Rear Admiral A.M. Peters was hauled down in H.M.S. ENDEAVOUR at 2000.  Rear Admiral Peters had been appointed as Flag Officer Taranto Area, in succession to Vice Admiral A.J. Power.

Ababiya Naval Base was closed down.

Red Sea

H.M. Submarine TEMPLAR left Aden at 0400 for onward routing to the Eastern Fleet.

Aegean

H.M.S. FAULKNOR, ECLIPSE, and H.H.M.S. QUEEN OLGA on anti shipping sweep from Alexandria sank a 3000 ton merchant vessel and a 2000 ton merchant vessel and damaged their escorting craft at 0120 just north of Stampalia.

September 19th

Sailing of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy G.U.S. 16

Convoy G.U.S. 16 sailed from Alexandria composed of 23 M.V.s escorted by H.M.S. STARTWORT, POPPY, DIANELLA, and SAXIFRAGE.  H.M.I.S. JUMNA was not available as additional escort due to the recall of Indian sloops and the Australian Bathursts to the East Fleet; their reliefs were still in the Western Mediterranean and the escort situation was left very “tight.”

Alexandria

The Flag of Rear Admiral A.W. La T. Bissett (Rear Admiral Force H) was struck in H.M.S. HOWE at sunset.  Rear Admiral Bissett returned to Malta by air.

Safe Conduct

Swedish relief ships AKKA and YARRAWONGA sailed from Piraeus for St Johns, New Brunswick by the reverse of the standard route.

September 20th

Arrival of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy K.M.S. 25

K.M.S. 25 arrived with 8 M.V.s for Alexandria and 16 for Port Said and beyond escorted by H.M.S. COLTSFOOT, HONEYSUCKLE, SPIRAEA, HYDERABAD, and OXLIP.  H.M.S. HONEYSUCKLE and H.M.S. SPIRAEA continued with the Port Said Section.  In company were M.M.S. 100, 101, 104, 108 from the Western Mediterranean, of which M.M.S. 108 was on passage to the Eastern Fleet

Departure of Fast Personnel Convoy to Taranto X.I.F. 1.

X.I.F. 1 consisting of 6 personnel ships left Alexandria escorted by H.M.S. HURWORTH (22nd Destroyer Flotilla), H.M.S. CROOME, H.M.S. BEAUFORT, H.M.S. HURSLEY, H.H.M.S. KANARIS and ADRIAS.  This was the first convoy direct from the Levant to Taranto since its occupation on September 10th.

Policy

In view of the increased escort requirements in the Levant Area as a result of the Aegean operations, and in view of the reduction in the enemy’s minelaying threat, it was decided to use suitable non A/S fitted minesweepers as convoy escorts and to reduce to a minimum the minesweeping in the Port Said and Levant Area.  Two Bathursts were kept to Alexandria to assist with Port Said Alexandria traffic and one reinforced the Levant Coast escort group.  From the Canal Area the following minesweepers were made available:  NIMBUS, RAINSTORM, SQUALL, STORMWRACK, NEBULA, SATSA, PACKICE.

Submarines

H.M. Submarine RORQUAL arrived at Beirut from patrol in the Northern Aegean.

Arrivals

M.M.S. SPIRAEA, M.M.S. 100, 101, 104, 108 all from the Western Mediterranean.

Aegean

H.M.S. INTREPID and ECHO landed 600 personnel and stores from Haifa at Leros and sailed after dark for Alexandria.

September 21st

Departure of Slow Convoy to Tripoli (L) Convoy X.T. 3.

Convoy X.T.3 consisting of 11 M.V.s and escorted by H.M.S. CUMBRAE and ISLAY left Alexandria.

Alexandria

In order to facilitate unloading of ammunition, the Italian battleship VITTORIO VENETO and destroyer DA RECCO were berthed temporarily inside the harbour, and arrangements made to complete them with a month’s supply of provisions, pending a decision on their future destiny.

Aden

The Dutch submarine O.23 arrived at Aden for through passage to the United Kingdom.

September 22nd

Arrivals on Station

H.M.S. DANAE at Port Said for onward routing to Eastern Fleet.

Aegean

H.M.S. FAULKNOR (D 8), FURY, ECLIPSE, and H.H.M.S. QUEEN OLGA landed 1200 personnel and stores at Leros.  They sailed after dark with forces divided for an anti shipping sweep to the South.

September 23rd

Arrival of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy U.G.S. 16.

Convoy U.G.S. 16 arrived with 10 M.V.s for Alexandria, 20 for Port Said and beyond.  Of the escorts, H.M.S. SHOREHAM, HYACINTH, H.H.M.S. SAKTOURIS, H.M.A.S. WOLBOROUGH, and MARYBOROUGH entered Alexandria.  H.M.A.S. CAIRNS, CESSNOCK, and WOLLONGONG continued to Port Said.

Arrived of Slow Convoy from Tripoli (L) T.X. 2

Convoy T.X. 2 arrived with one M.V. for Alexandria, escorted by H.M.S. BURRA, ROMEO, and M.L. 299

Special Operation “LINGEN” – Landing of Agents off the South Coast of Crete

M.L. 361 sailed from Bardia to land six agents with W/T equipment in the Akropolithis Area of Crete in position 34-57.5N, 15-14.5E

Aegean

H.M.S. ECLIPSE patrolling south of Scarpanto Straits sank an M.V. close inshore under Cape Prasonisi at 0130 and damaged an escorting destroyer which beached itself.  The 8th D/F returned to Alexandria with 128 German P.O.W.s from Stampalia.

September 24th

Departure of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy M.K.S. 26

Convoy M.K.S. 26 sailed from Alexandria consisting of 16 M.V.s escorted by H.M.S. HYDERABAD, SPIRAEA, DELPHINIUM, and H.M.S. GAWLER.  H.M.S. DELPHINIUM and H.M.A.S. GAWLER were deputizing for H.M.S. OXLIP and COLTSFOOT who were delayed with defects. H.M.S OXLIP overtook later and relieved H.M.A.S. GAWLER.  H.M.S. HONEYSUCKLE missed the convoy on account of major defects.  H.M.S. COLTSFOOT sailed at 1800.

Special Operation “Lingen”

M.L. 361 arrived at Mersa Matruh at 2130 having successfully completed operation “LINGEN”.  Only 14 out of 34 evacuees could be embarked owing to weather conditions.

Submarines

The Greek submarine KATSONIS was overdue at Beirut and was considered lost.  Her loss had already been claimed circumstantially by the Germans and confirmed by reports from I.S.L.D. sources.

Two British and 15 Greek survivors were reported prisoners of war in German hands – 3 Greeks evaded capture.  It was later established that H.H.M.S. KATSONIS was sunk off Skiathos.  H.H.M.S. KATSONIS left Beirut on September 5th to land a representative of the Greek Government on the East Coast of Eubosa and thence to patrol in the Aegean; there was good reason to suppose this special operation (Operation SELLING) successfully completed, as the representative was reported as having been seen ashore.  Reports did not suggest the possibility that H.H.M.S. KATSONIS had been boarded, but a slight chance did exist that her books might be compromised.

Aden

The S.S. ELIAS HOWE, 7176 tons, was sunk by submarine at 0120Z 85 miles S.E. of Aden

Arrivals on the Station

The 10th Motor Torpedo Boat Flotilla consisting of M.T.B.s 260, 263, 266, 307, 309, 313, and 315 arrived at Benghazi from Malta for onward routing to Alexandria.  They were required to future employment in the Aegean.

September 25th

Safe Conduct

The Swedish relief ships BARDALAND and CAMELIA left Smyrna for Salonika.  They had been held pending agreement between the belligerent powers on the route to be followed up the Gulf of Salonika.

Arrivals on Station

H.M.S. CERES at Aden for passage to the United Kingdom.

September 26th

Aegean

H.M.S. INTREPID and H.H.M.S. QUEEN OLGA from Alexandria arrived at Leros at 0700.  In an air raid at 0915 QUEEN OLGA was sunk and INTREPID hit amidships.  Repairs to INTREPID were effected but in a further raid at 1700 she was hit aft and abandoned when seen to be beyond repair.  Casualties were 5 killed and 10 missing.  In QUEEN OLGA there were 6 officers and 64 ratings killed.  Rescue work was  

September 27th

Levant Area

H.M.S. BULLFINCH completed laying the Indicator loops at Haifa.

Safe Conduct

The Swedish Relief Ship WIRIL left Mitylene at 0800 for Piraeus, having been delayed since the 14th.  She had been loading olives and oil at different ports in the island.

Aegean

H.M.S. INTREPID capsized at 0200.  Damage to the port was considerable.

H.M.S. FURY and ECHO patrolled southeast of Rhodes during the night, available in case of useful air reconnaissance.

September 28th

Arrival of Through Mediterranean Fast Convoy K.M.F. 24

Convoy K.M.F. 24 consisting of 10 M.V.s with the escort carrier BATTLER in company for passage to the Eastern Fleet arrived at Port Said.  The escort consisted of H.M.S. CARLISLE, ALDENHAM, ROCKWOOD, BELVOIR, H.H.M.S. KANARIS, MIALOULIS, and THEMISTOCKLES.  H.M.S. CARLISLE, BELVOIR, and H.H.M.S. KANARIS detached to Alexandria.

Arrival of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy K.M.S. 26

Convoy K.M.S. 26 arrived with 9 M.V.s for Alexandria and 14 for Port Said and beyond, escorted by H.M.S. WHITEHAVEN, HYTHE, ROMNEY, RYE, H.M.S.A.S. PROTEA, H.M.S. SENNEN and LANDGUARD.  H.M.S. WHITEHAVEN, ROMNEY escorted the Port Said section, with the cutters SENNEN and LANDGUARD both of which of were on passage to Eastern Fleet.

Safe Conduct

The Swedish Relief Ship HALLAREN left Piraeus at 0900 for Venice.

Arrivals on the Station

H.M.S. BATTLER at Port Said with K.M.F. 24.

September 29th

Sailing of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy G.U.S. 17

Convoy G.U.S. 17 left Alexandria, consisting of 25 M.V.s, escorted by H.M.S. DELPHINIUM, H.H.M.S. SAKTOURIS, H.M.S. HYACINTH, H.M.A.S. WOLBOROUGH, and H.M.S. KLO.

Cyrenaica

A German U boat was fixed by D/F in approximate position 24-00N, 19-30E at 1245.  An air search was instituted from Benghazi without result.

Alexandria

The 160th Minesweeping Flotilla consisting of the Greek B.Y.M.S. APHROESSA, KARTERIA, PARALOS, and SALAMINIA completed a short period of working up the LL/SA sweeping trials

Field Marshal Smuts, accompanied by the Command in Chief was shown the Italian Fleet at its berth in Mex Roads.

Submarines

H.M. Submarine UNSPARING sank a 30 ton caique off Cape Malea.  UNSPARING had left Malta for patrol to join the First Submarine Flotilla.

Arrivals on the Station

H.H.M.S. THEMISTOCLES at Alexandria.

H.M.S. SENNEN and LANGUARD at Port Said with K.M.S. 26 for passage to the Eastern Fleet.

B.Y.M.S. 72 and 73 at Alexandria from the Western Mediterranean

Departures

H.M.S. DANAE from Aden

Aegean

The ex Italian S.S. TAGANROG with a Greek crew left Leros on an uneventful trip to Casteloriso.

September 30th

Alexandria

Rear Admiral J.W.A. Waller arrived to relieve Rear Admiral L.E.A. Maund as Director of Combined Operations Middle East.

Clearance of Q.B.C. iii (C) was begun by the (Greek) 160th Minesweeping Flotilla composed of the B.Y.M.S. PARALOS, SALAMINA, APHROESSA, and KARTERIA, with the 67th Minesweeping Group composed of South African Whalers H.M.S. BEVER, BOKSBURG, and LANGLAATE.

Canal Area

H.M.S. STAG “A” paid off at 0800 and the Base and Camp closed down.  Records to transferred to the Flag Officer Red Sea and Canal Area.

Departures

H.M. Submarine TACTICIAN (P 314) and H.M.A.S. LISMORE from Aden to Eastern Fleet.

 

PART II

APPRECIATION OF EVENTS FOR SEPTEMBER 1943

General

The Armistice with Italy was announced on the 8th and operations were immediately begun again the Italian islands of Casteloriso and the Dodecanese.

2.  A Squadron of Italian battleships, cruiser, and destroyer arrived at Alexandria from Malta on the 16th, while an assortment of Italian naval auxiliaries and small craft arrived at Famagusta on the 14th from the Dodecanese, having surrendering according to the terms of the Armistice.

Cyrenaica

3.  Units of the 9th Bomber section U.S.A.A.F. began moving away from the Benghazi area about the middle of September, and by the end of the month were at one third of their full strength.

4.  In order to economise personnel, the Naval Base at Mersa Matruh was reduced to Care and Maintenance.

Alexandria

5.  The arrival of the Italian Squadron of two Littorio class battleships, 4 cruisers, and 4 destroyers (Force Z) proved an embarrassment.  There was no  question of berthing the ships inside the harbour, their status being in no way comparable with that of Force X, and they could not remain indefinitely berthed in Mex Roads without shore leave.  Having regard to the possibilities of disaffection arising among the crews, their presence was only accepted as a temporary expedient.

6.  The Italian Squadron was escorted by the Third Division, 1st Battle Squadron consisting of H.M.S. HOWE and H.M.S. KING GEORGE V escorted by 6 units of the Eighth Destroyer Flotilla.  The services of the destroyers were at once employed on offensive operations in the Aegean.

7.  The first personnel convoy for Southern Italy was sailed from Alexandria to Taranto on the 20th and carried the 8th Indian Division.  Subsequent convoys to Taranto were combined with a fast through Mediterranean convoy and an economy effected in the escort of “Hunts.”

8.  The policy of sailing a slow section ahead of through Mediterranean convoys so as to be overtaken off the Cyrenacian “Hump” was abandoned in favour of a 10 day cycle of X.T./T.X. convoys routed as far as Tripoli (L).  Convoy X.T. One left Alexandria on September 1st.  There were no sinkings in convoy during the month.

9.  The month saw the development of offensive operations in the Dodecanese, beginning with Casteloriso which was occupied peacefully on the 10th by a detachment of S.B.S. and S.A.S. landed from two M.L.s.  The intention was to establish Casteloriso as an advance base for the penetration of the Italian held islands inside the Aegean, before they passed under German control.  Missions were established in Kos, Leros, and Samos, and H.M.S. HURWORTH and CROOME arrived at Leros with troops and stores on the 17th, to be met with assurance of full cooperation from the Italian Governor.  The problem of building up Leros then arose and all the more acutely since Rhodes with its three aerodromes lay across the supply route and was firmly in German hands; however the German Air Force in the Aegean had long been weak and before it received reinforcements from the Italian and Russian fronts, successful anti shipping sweeps were carried out in the Southern Aegean and the Scarpanto Strait.  A force commanded by Captain (D), 8th Destroyer Flotilla sank 2 Merchant Vessel on the 18th and put their escort out of action, and another force under Captain (D) 8th Destroyer Flotilla, withdrawing south after landing troops and stores at Leros, sank a Merchant Vessel and drove the escort ashore west of Rhodes.  It was inevitable however that the German Air Force would interfere when strong enough and the first set back was suffered when H.H.M.S. QUEEN OLGA and H.M.S. INTREPID were both sunk in Portolago, without warning, or assistance from the Italian A.A. defences.  Threat of air attack by day thus emerged as the paramount consideration at the end of the month, when the first phase of the operations came to a close.

10.  H.M. Submarine RORQUAL carried out successful mine laying operations in the Northern Aegean on three successive nights and bombarded Stratoni Ironworks.  H.M. Submarine TORBAY sank a 1000 ton M/V in convoy and H.M. Submarine TROOPER sank a 250 ton caique and tug.

Levant Area

11.  The Western Boundary was advanced so as to include Casteloriso and the organisation of convoys along this new route was delegated to the Commodore, Levant Area.  A beginning was made with the establishment of fighter protection from Cyprus, although the enemy air threat was not yet serious east of Casteloriso, and the main body of the Levant Escort Force was employed on this route.

12.  U Boat activity in the Levant Area was confined to the sinking of two Egyptian schooners south of Cyprus on the 7th.  The Levant Escort Force was depleted by requirements for the Aegean operations, and it was supplementd by a number of minesweepers from the 2nd Minesweeping Flotilla and the 158th , 166th, and 178th Minesweeping Groups, who though not Asdic fitted formed a physical obstruction to submarine attacks.

13.  The transfer to the Greeks of the ex Norwegian 168th Minesweeping Group was completed when SILHOUETTE was taken over on the 10th.

Red Sea and Canal Area

14.  H.M.S. BULOLO and H.M.S. KEREN, the last ships of Force M to leave for India sailed from Aden on the 11th.

15.  Port Sudan and the Naval Base and Camp at Adabiya Bay were both paid off during the month.  In the case of Port Sudan, its waning importance as a commercial port and improbability that it would ever be attacked, led to its being reduced to the standard of an undefended port, where Naval interests were looked after by the Sea Transport Officer in Charge.   Adabiya Base, commissioned as H.M.S. STAG “A” for the purpose of mounting Operation was now superfluous.

16.  M.K.F. 24, the first fast through Mediterranean convoy to leave Port Said since the opening of the Mediterranean, sailed on the 17th.

17.   Changes on Station

Arrivals

H.M.S. HOWE and H.M.S. KING GEORGE V of 3rd Division, 1st Battle Squadron.

H.M.S. FAULKNOR (8th Destroyer Flotilla), ECHO, ECLIPSE, FURY, INTREPID, and H.H.M.S. QUEEN OLGA.

H.N.M.S. THEMISTOCLES (Hunt class destroyer) and H.H.M.S. KING GEORGE II (American built submarine chaser)

H.M.S. TORBAY (to join First Submarine Flotilla).

B.Y.M.S. 72 and 73.

M.T.B.s 260, 263, 266, 307, 309, 313, 315 (10th M.T.B. Flotilla)

M.M.S.s 100, 101, 104, 108

M.L.s 451, 461, 478

L.C.T.s 7, 18, 132, 157

All from the Western Mediterranean

H.M.S. BATTLER, SENNEN, and LANDGUARD on passage to the Eastern Fleet

Dutch Submarine O 23 on passage to the United Kingdom

Departures

H.M.S. BULOLO, KEREN, BARNABY, MAID MARION, H.M.I.S. NARBADA, H.M.A.S. LISMORE, H.M. Submarines TEMPLAR and TACTICIAN.

All to Eastern Fleet.

Arrived and Departed

H.M.S. CARTHAGE to United Kingdom and H.M.S. DANAE to Eastern Fleet

Casualties

Greek Submarine KATSONIS, Greek Destroyer QUEEN OLGA,  H.M.S. INTREPID (last two at Leros).

18. Axis shipping losses in the Levant Area

Sunk:   8 ships of 17,000 tons

Damaged:  3 ships of 5,000 tons

 

 


 

OCTOBER 1943

PART I

 
Click to enlarge

October 1st

Departure of 3rd Division, 1st Battle Squadron

H.M.S. HOWE and KING GEORGE V, escorted by H.M.S. FAULKNOR (8th Destroyer Flotilla), FURY, ECLIPSE, and ECHO left Alexandria at 0800 for Malta.  The battleships were urgently required in the United Kingdom, and the destroyers equally for further operations in the Aegean.

Sailing of Slow Convoy to Tripoli (L), X.T. 4

Convoy X.T. 4 consisting of 9 merchant vessels, left Alexandria escorted by H.M.S. BURRA and H.M.A.S. GAWLER.

Aegean

Partheni Bay, Leros, was twice raided and the Italian destroyer EURO holed by near misses.

Arrivals

M.G.B. 642 at Benghazi from Malta.

Departures

H.M.S. CERES from Alexandria for Malta and onward routing to United Kingdom.

October 2nd

Aegean

H.M.S. ALDENHAM, H.H.M.S. MIAOULIS, and H.H.M.S. THEMISTOCLES patrolled in the Kaso Strait during the night and subsequently southeast of Rhodes with incident.

The Italian S.S. RIBICONE, 4700 tons), arrived At Casteloriso from Leros.

Royal Hellenic Navy

H.H.M.S. PANTHER paid off and was reduced to care and maintenance at Port Said.  She was an old British destroyer of Pre “V & W” vintage.

Arrivals

H.M. Submarine SURF at Port Said for passage to Eastern Fleet.

Departures

H.M. Submarine TAURUS from Aden to Eastern Fleet.

October 3rd

Arrival of Through Mediterranean Convoy U.G.S. 17

Convoy U.G.S. 17 arrived escorted by H.M.S. BEAUFORT, PRIMULA, SOUTHERN MAID, SOUTHERN SEAS, FALK with ten Merchant vessels for Alexandria;  L.S.T. 180 and 27 Merchant Vessels for Port Said and beyond.

Aegean

A sea borne invasion of Kos began at 0500 from a force of 7 transports, 2 destroyers, and 7 landing craft, E boats and caiques.  By 1030 there were 1500 enemy troops ashore and communication with the island ceased.

Departures

Dutch submarine O 23 for Port Said for Malta and onward routing.

October 4th

Sailing of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy M.K.S. 27

Convoy M.K.S. 27, escorted by H.M.S. HYTHE, RYE, and PROTEA and consisting of 17 merchant vessels left Alexandria.

Alexandria

H.M.S. HARROW of the 2nd Minesweeping Flotilla was in collision with the tug RESPOND.  RESPOND was fit for service, but H.M.S. HARROW was out of action.

Cyrenaica

The tanker S.S. MARIT in convoy X.T. 4 was torpedoed in position 32-57N, 21-11E at 1630.  H.M.S. GLOXINIA took over the A/S search from H.M.A.S. GAWLER, gained contact and carried out four attacks in position 32-35.5N, 20-24E, at 1800.  H.M.S. FAULKNOR (8th Destroyer Flotilla), ECLIPSE, and FURY on passage to Alexandria were directed to take over the hunt.

Aegean

The refrigerator ship IVOREA was damaged beyond repair in a raid on Leros.

The R.F.A. CHERRYLEAF left Alexandria for Limasol to establishment an advance fuelling base.

Arrivals

L.S.T. 238 in U.G.S. 17 at Port Said

October 5th

Cyrenaica

H.M.S. FAULKNOR (8th Destroyer Flotilla), ECLIPSE, and FURY discontinued the U boat search to proceed to Alexandria at 0114, leaving H.M.S. GLOXINIA.  No asdic contact was obtained.

M.L. 350 landed 35 survivors of S.S. MARIT at Benghazi.  The combined air and surface search was continued with H.M.A.S. GAWLER.

Aegean

H.M.S. AURORA (12th Cruiser Squadron) and DIDO, both on passage to Alexandria in difference forces,  made rendezvous at 2100 in position 60 miles south of Crete, escorted by H.M.S. TUMULT and PATHFINDER, preparatory to a sweep into the Aegean.  The cruisers were in a collision while making rendezvous, sustaining damage and returning to Alexandria.  The destroyers proceeded and retired on making no sighting.

Red Sea

H.M. Submarine SURF (P 239) on passage to Aden was recalled to Suez, being required to reinforce the 1st Submarine Flotilla temporarily for Aegean operations.

Aden

An enemy submarine was reported by Aden W/T in position 14-20.8N, 50-47E at 0235.

Arrivals

H.M.S. PENELOPE and SIRIUS

H.M.S. ECHO, FAULKNOR (8th Destroyer Flotilla)

H.M.S. FURY, ECLIPSE all at Alexandria.

H.M.S. GLENGYLE and the L.S.I.(L)’s DEVONSHIRE and SOBIESKI at Port Said.

H.M.S. COCKCHAFER at Alexandria.

Departures

P 317 (TALLY HO) and H.M.I.S. JUMNA from Aden to Eastern Fleet.

October 6th

Departure of Fast Personnel Convoy to Taranto, Convoy X.I.F.2

Three personnel ships escorted by H.M.S. HURWORTH, HURSLEY, H.H.M.S. KANARIS, PINDOS, and ADRIAS left Alexandria for Taranto.  H.M.S. TUMULT was sailed from Alexandria to overtake and reinforce the escort.

Aegean

H.M.S. SIRIUS and PENELOPE, FAULKNOR (8th Destroyer Flotilla), FURY, and ECLIPSE left Alexandria at 1100 to intercept enemy forces approaching Leros.  H.M.S. ECLIPSE returned at 2230 with defective steering.

Some small craft, including 1 M.L. and 2 L.C.T.s with escapees from Kos, arrived at Budrum, Turkey.

Collision damage to H.M.S. AURORA and DIDO

H.M.S. AURORA required one week for temporary repairs, H.M.S. DIDO seven weeks for permanent repairs, after their collision during the Aegean operations.

Aden

An enemy submarine was reported by Aden W/T within ten miles of position 11-47S, 45-47E at 1658Z.

Arrivals

H.M.S. PETARD and PENN from the Western Mediterranean

Departures

H.M.S. TUMULT

October 7th


Click to enlarge

Cyrenaica

The Combined Air and surface A/S search was continued off Benghazi.  At 0012, the aircraft reported an A.S.V. contact, probably submarine, in position 33N, 21E.

Haifa

Two double clamp bilge mines were safely removed from the starboard bilge keel of S.S. SICILIAN PRINCE.  She arrived at 1730 from Marsin.  The mines were very similar to previous types and were not considered, from the heavy marine growth, to have been recently attached.

Aegean

The SIRIUS force arrived off Leros at 0530 and found no signs of an invasion.  At 0630, they picked up H.M. Submarine UNRULY’s enemy report.  At 0800 off Stampalia, the force intercepted and sank the convoy of 6 landing craft, one armed Trawler, and one ammunition ship, and then withdrew.  A raid by 5 J.U. 88’s was broken up by escorting Lightnings but during the next three hours, seventy aircraft attacked and PENELOPE was damaged aft by an unexploded bomb and several near misses, but continued at 22 knots.  He casualties were 2 officers and 22 ratings killed and 29 wounded.  ROCKWOOD and H.H.M.S. MIAOULIS from Casteloriso swept N of Rhodes and retired South through the Scarpanto Strait with the SIRIUS force.

Submarines

H.M. Submarine UNRULY on patrol west of Kos sighted an enemy convoy and passed an enemy report which was picked up by H.M.S. SIRIUS.  At 0600, she attacked the convoy with gunfire registering 9 hits on an M.V. of 1500 tons, 3 hits on a M.V. of 500 tons, and at least 10 hits on three or four Siebel Ferries, at least one of which was seen to sink.  At 0720, whilst manoeuvring to torpedo the 1500 M.V. which was stopped and abandoned, UNRULY saw H.M.S. FURY anticipate him.

October 8th

Aegean

H.M.S. CARLISLE, PETARD, PANTHER, ALDENHAM, and H.H.M.S. THEMISTOCLES from Alexandria swept through the Scarpanto Strait but made no sightings and retired South East of Rhodes during the day.  The “Hunts” were detached to Alexandria and H.M.S. ROCKWOOD and H.H.M.S. MIALOULIS joined from Limasol.

H.M. Submarine UNRULY attacked a minelayer in convoy in position 36-43N, 25-47.4 East at 1706.  She fired four torpedoes; a loud explosion occurred at the correct running range and the ship was considered sunk.

M.L. 351 shot down 1 J.U. 88 in a raid on Leros.

October 9th

Departure of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy G.U.S. 18

Convoy G.U.S. 18 left Alexandria with 15 merchant vessels escorted by H.M.A.S. MARYBOROUGH (S.O.), PRIMULA, SOUTHERN SEAS, FALK, and H.M.S. HONEYSUCKLE.

Aegean

The CARLISLE force swept west of Kos and Leros during the night without sighting.  While leaving the Scarpanto Strait under intense air attack, H.M.S. PANTHER was sunk at 1215 by dive bombing and H.M.S. CARLISLE hit after in position 35-48N, 27-36E.  The eight escorting Lightnings shot down at least 15 J.U. 87’s and ships A.A. fire accounted for three more.  H.M.S. CARLISLE in tow of H.M.S. ROCKWOOD made 5 knots which was later increased to 12 knots.  The force was joined by H.M.S. BELVOIR and BEAUFORT.

Levant Area

A submarine was sighted by aircraft in position 34-44N, 31-25E.  A square search was carried out from the air without further sighting.

Safe Conduct

The Swedish relief ship which sailed from Piraeus for Heraklion.

Arrivals

H.M.S. RANPURA (A.M.C.) at Aden for through passage to the United Kingdom.

M.L. 841 commissioned at Cairo and was allocated to Special Service, previously undertaken by M.L.s 355 and 361.

H.M. Submarine UNSPARING at Beirut to join the 1st Submarine Flotilla.

Departures

H.M.S. SHOREHAM, H.M.A.S. CAIRNS, CESSNOCK, GERALDTON, WOOLONGONG from Aden with combined convoy A.B. 16/A.P. 48.

October 10th

Arrival of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy K.M.S. 27

Convoy K.M.S. 27 arrived with 10 merchant vessels for Alexandria and 21 for Port Said and beyond, escorted by H.M.S. BLUEBELL, BRYONY, CAMELIA, BERGAMOT, and F.S. LA MALOUINE.

Alexandria

With the arrival of Greek Submarine PAPANICOLIS from Port Said, anti submarine practices were again begun.

Aegean

H.M.S. CARLISLE entered Alexandria in tow at 1415 with steering gear still jammed, she was low in the water aft, having been hit on No. 5 gun.

H.M.S. PENN and PATHFINDER from Alexandria swept the East side of Leros and Kalymnos to intercept a possible invasion of Leros, but found nothing and proceeded to lie up in Turkish territorial waters before daylight.

Arrivals

H.M.S. ROBERTS from Malta for change of guns.

H.M.S. ROYAL SCOTSMAN from Algiers, for repairs before proceeding to Eastern Fleet.

H.N.M.S. SOEMBA and H.M. Tug EMPIRE GNOME for passage to Eastern Fleet.

all at Alexandria with K.M.S. 27.

Departures

H.M.S. LANDGUARD and SENNON, from Aden to Eastern Fleet.

October 11th

Convoy M.K.S. 27

H.M.S. HYTHE was torpedoed and sunk while attacking an anti submarine contact off Bougie in the Western Mediterranean.  The U boat might have been using a Radar Decoy Balloon.

Alexandria

Convoy X.T. 5 sailed consisting of 11 merchant vessels, escorted by H.M.S. WHITEHAVEN, ROMNEY, SOUTHERN MAID, and ROMEO.

The four destroyers of the Italian Squadron (Force Z) entered harbour for replacement of armament and ammunition in preparation for their coming departure from the port.

The Turkish ferries TUZLA and DARICA, returned from the Western Mediterranean for delivery to Turkey.

Aegean

H.M.S. PENN and PATHFINDER from Turkish waters carried out a sweep of the Kalymnos Area without sighting and withdrew to Alexandria through the Scarpanto Strait.

Leros

There were eleven raids during the day.  M.L. 835 was lost at 1700 after ten hours of bombing; the crew was sale.

Safe Conduct

Swedish relief ships TAMARA and FENRIS entered the station from Gibraltar on passage to Piraeus.

Arrivals

H.M.S. JERVIS (14th Destroyer Flotilla), APHIS, SCARAB (returned from Western Mediterranean for repairs), M.L.s 584, 1245, 1282, 1294, all at Alexandria.  (last three M.L.s on passage to Turkey.

H.M.S. BULAN (Boom Carrier) and L.S.T. 180 at Port Said for passage to Eastern Fleet.

H.M. Submarine TRIDENT at Aden, returning from operations in the Eastern Fleet.

October 12th

Alexandria

Harbour smoke screening trials took place before and after sunset.  Emission was from a point on the breakwater and obscured the entrance.  Aerial observation was carried out.

Aegean

H.M.S. FAULKNOR (8th Destroyer Flotilla) and FURY carried out a sweep off the west coast of Kalymnos and Leros without sighting any shipping and withdrew South to Alexandria.

Leros was bombed five times during the day.

Arrivals

H.M. Submarines UNRULY and SIMOON at Beirut to reinforce the 1st Submarine Flotilla temporarily.  SIMOON was on passage to the Eastern Fleet.

October 13th

Arrival of Through Mediterranean Convoy U.G.S. 18.

Convoy U.G.S. 18 arrived escorted by H.M.S. LULWORTH (S.O.), LOTUS, STARWORT, SAZIFRAGE, DIANELLA with 5 merchant vessels for Alexandria and 15 for Port Said and beyond.  H.M.S. LULWORTH, a cutter, was on passage to Eastern Fleet.

Alexandria

H.M. Cruiser PHOEBE arrived Alexandria at 1730 as a reinforcement to the cruiser force based on Alexandria for operations in the Aegean.

The four cruisers of the Italian Squadron entered harbour for replacement of armament and ammunition in preparation for their departure from that port.

Aegean

H.M.S. SIRIUS, PENN, and PATHFINDER from Alexandria carried out a sweep west of Kandeliusa and Kos to Leros and thence west to Levitha with negative results and withdrew through Rhodes Channel.  H.M.S. SIRIUS fuelled the destroyers at Casteloriso, and the force reentered the Rhodes Channel after dark.

H.M.S. TETCOTT and CROOME from Limasol passed north of Rhodes having swept to the East of Leros lay up in Turkish waters.    At 2130 they embarked 144 wounded at Alinda Bay, Leros.

October 14th

Appointment of New Commander in Chief, Levant Station

Vice Admiral Sir Algernon U. Willis, K.C.B., D.S.C., assumed command temporarily as Commander in Chief Levant Station, at 0800 in succession to Admiral Sir John H.D. Cunningham, K.C.B., M.V.O., Admiral Cunningham was appointed Commander in Chief, Mediterranean on the vacation of that post by Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham, who was appointed First Sea Lord.

The Flag of Vice Admiral Willis was hoisted at Canopus at 0800 and that of Admiral Cunningham was struck at the Combined Headquarters at sunset.

Departure of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy M.K.S. 28.

Convoy M.K.S. 28 sailed from Alexandria, consisting of 10 Merchant Vessels, escorted by H.M.S. BLUEBELL (S.O.), F.S. LA MALOUINE, H.M.S. BRYONY, and H.M.S. BERGAMOT.

Aegean

The SIRIUS force swept to the North of Levitha but found nothing and reversing course at 0100 withdrew south to Alexandria.

H.M.S. TETTCOT and CROOME found no shipping in Port Vathi and Kos Roads and withdrew to Limasol through the Rhodes Channel.

Arrivals

H.M.S. LAMERTON at Alexandria from Western Mediterranean to reinforce the force of Hunts.

H.M.S. LULWORTH with U.G.S. 18 at Port Said for passage to Eastern Fleet.

October 15th

The Flag of Vice Admiral Willis was hoisted at the Combined Headquarters at 0800

Alexandria

Convoy T.X. 4 which had been due to the previous day but was unable to enter before dark, arrived with 9 Merchant Vessels, escorted by H.M.A.S. BURRA and GAWLER.

Aegean

H.M.S. PHOEBE, FAULNOR (8th Destroyer Flotilla) and FURY from Alexandria swept west of Leros and Kalymnos without sighting and withdrew north of Rhodes before dawn.  The destroyers fuelled from H.M.S. PHOEBE and the force reentered the Aegean after dark.

H.M.S. BELVOIR and BEAUFORT from Alexandria swept east of Leros but saw nothing and lay up in Turkish waters.  At 1255, an enemy convoy and 2 M.V.s and 2 Landing Craft were located east of Naxos making for Kos.  The Hunts proceeded to intercept, being unsuccessfully bombed at 1726, 1820, and 1833, but searched until 2130 without result, the convoy having escaped to the North West.  They swept the North Coast of Amorgos before withdrawing South.

M.T.B.s 315 and 307 returned to Casteloriso having carried out a search of Kalymnos but found no shipping.

Submarines

H.M.S. Submarine TORBAY destroyed by gunfire a 50 ton caique in the Lipso Channel flying the German ensign.  Shortly afterwards, she was sighted and depth charged by Northbound Caique escorting 3 L.C.T.s.

Arrivals

H.M. Submarine SEVERN at Beirut.  She was required for store carrying to Leros.

October 16th

Alexandria

Loading Trials were undertaken with H.M.s. ECLIPSE and ALDENHAM.  It was found that ECLIPSE could load and carry on deck 10 jeeps or 2 jeeps and 8 25 pounders; ALDENHAM 6 jeeps or 4 25 pounders and a six gun Hunt 1 jeep.  These trials were undertaken with a view to moving stores to Leros.

Departure of Italian Squadron from Alexandria (Force Z)

REASONS. 

1. The Italian Fleet from Malta had been sent to Taranto and was now absorbed there.  Preparations were complete for the reception of the Alexandria Squadron.

2.  The provision Government of Marshal Badoglio had been declared a co belligerent by the United Nations two days previously and it was desirable for the Italian ships to be at a base from which they could be operated.

3.  Mex Roads were too exposed and the harbour too crowded for ships to remain at Alexandria during the winter.

EXECUTION

1. 880 personnel from removed from each of the battleships and distributed among the cruisers and destroyers, the Turkish ferries DARICA and TUZLA being employed for the purpose.  Embarkation was complete at 1500.

2.  The battleships VITTORIO VENETO and ITALIA, lighted to a draught of 34 feet and with complement adjusted to be capable of a speed of 20 knots, cleared the Great Pass at 1815, and set course for Port Said, escorted by H.M.S. LAMERTON, WILTON, H.H.M.S. KANARIS and THEMISTOCLES for transit of the canal to Ismailia and both the of bitter lakes.

3.  The cruisers (SAVOIA, MONTECUCCOLI, D’AOSTA, and CADORNA) were sailed to Taranto with the destroyers as escort (GREGALE, DA RECCO, ARTIGLIERE, VELITE) all ships carried Liaison Officers and Communications Parties.  The force had on board the surplus personnel from the battleships for passage to Taranto.  The last cruiser left harbour at 1600.

Aegean

H.M.S. PHOEBE and FAULKNOR swept north of Levitha where they were bombed at 0137 and FAULKNOR combed Isolavecchia and Pezonda Bay.  FURY operated east of Kalymnos.  Nothing was met and the force withdrew south.

Submarines

H.M. Submarine TORBAY attacked with torpedoes an Eastbound convoy of two 1000 ton M.V.s with 2 escorts, and aircraft off Levitha in position 36-59N, 26-11E and sank from L.V.  The sinking was witnessed from Levitha.

Arrivals

H.M.S. DURBAN at Aden for passage to the United Kingdom.

October 17th

Departure of Through Mediterranean Fast Convoy, M.K.F. 25

Convoy M.K.F. 25 consisting of H.M.S. LARGS and 9 merchant vessels, sailed from Port Said escorted by H.M.S. LAMERTON, WILTON, H.H.M.S. KARAIS, and THEMISTOCLES.

Cyrenaica

Aircraft sighted a U boat at periscope depth in position 33-05N 21-35E at 1430 and H.M.S. WHITEHAVEN and ROMNEY were sent from Benghazi to carry out a combined air and surface A/S search.  H.M.S. WHITEHAVEN and ROMNEY arrived at Benghazi on the 14th to form an A/S Striking Force.

Aegean Operations

H.M.S. JERVIS (14th Destroyer Flotilla) and PENN, each carrying 20 tones of stores and 50 personnel for Leros were bombed at midnight and entered Alinda Bay.  They secured at 0120 and completed discharge at 0240, where they proceeded to lie up in Guvercinlik Bay.

H.M.S. HURSLEY and H.H.M.S. MIAOULIS from Alexandria found no shipping in Kos Roads; while investigating Port Vathi H.M.S. HURSLEY set a small ship on fire, but smoke obscured observation.  Proceeding to Port Akti, MIAOULIS sank an E boat and a landing craft.  HURSLEY entered the bay, found a sloop which she left repeatedly hit and on fire.  HURSLEY was hit in the fore mess deck, above the water line, but suffered no casualties.  The Hunts joined 14th Destroyer Flotilla and lay up before dawn.

H.M.S. AURORA (12th Destroyer Flotilla) (n.b. should read 12th Cruiser Squadron) swept round Scarpanto and withdrew to land stores at Limasol.

M.T.B.s 315, 313, and 260 returned to Casteloriso from a sweep of Port Kalymnos in which no shipping was seen.  The boats were bombed off Port Kalymnos.

Casteloriso was bombed for the first time and the W/T Station was damaged.

H.M.S. SIRIUS proceeding from Alexandria to the Aegean with H.M.S. ECLIPSE, PATHFINDER, and BELVOIR was hit by a bomb on the quarter deck in a raid by J.U. 88s at 1830 and returned to Alexandria.  Her casualties were 14 killed and 30 wounded.

Submarines

H.M. Submarine TROOPER was overdue from patrol and considered lost.  She had been operating in narrow waters east of Leros to intercept the expected invasion of the island, and in absence of other evidence was thought to have been mined.

Levant Area

The Palestine Patrol Launch GADWALL was renamed GADABOUT by request of the Admiralty.

Safe Conduct

Swedish relief Ship BARDALAND and CAMELIA left Salonika for Gibraltar.

Departures

H.M.S. BATTLER from Aden to Eastern Fleet.

October 18th

Italian Battle Squadron

The ITALIA and VITTORIO VENETO berthed in the Bitter Lakes.

Arrival of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy K.M.S. 28

Convoy K.M.S. 28 arrived escorted by H.M.S. COLTSFOOT (S.O.), RHODODENDRON, HONEYSUCKLE, OXLIP, HYDERABAD, and USK with Rescue Tug S.S. HESPERIA and H.M.S. DABCHICK (Controlled minelayer) and 5 Merchant Vessels and 5 B.Y.M.S. for Alexandria and 16 merchant vessels for Port Said and beyond.

Departure of Personnel Convoy for Taranto X.I.F. 2 (a)

Convoy X.I.F. 2 a left Alexandria a.m. consisting of 6 personnel ships, escorted by H.M.S. COLOMBO (S.O.), TETCOTT, CROOME, and joined convoy M.K. 25 off Shoulder Buoy, being routed in company to Augusta.

Aegean

H.M.S. JERVIS and PENN from Turkish waters concluded a close examination of the West Coast of Kalymnos with a bombardment of Port Kalymnos at midnight and set on fire a medium sized M.V.  Withdrawing south under some ineffective bombing they made rendezvous with H.M.S. AURORA south of the Scarpanto Strait at daylight.

H.M.S. AURORA had patrolled southeast of Rhodes during the night.

H.M.S. HURSLEY and H.H.M.S. MIALOLIS examined Kappari Island without result and carried out a ten minute bombardment of Kos inner harbour withdrawing by the Rhodes Channel.

Suez

The Flag of Naval Commander Force “A” was struck at sunset in H.M.S. GLENGYLE and the title lapsed.

The amphibious operation for which Force “A” had been collected and organized was postponed indefinitely.

Arrivals

H.M.S. DABCHICK at Alexandria for onward routing to Eastern Fleet

H.M.S. USK at Alexandria to reinforce Levant Escort Group and B.Y.M.S. 74, 190, 191, 212, 229, all ex K.M.S. 28.

H.M. Submarine RORQUAL at Beirut recalled from Malta for store carrying to Leros.

H.M. Submarines SERAPH, SHAKESPEARE, and UNRIVALLED to join the 1st Submarine Flotilla.

Departures

L.S.T. 238 from Aden to Eastern Fleet.

October 19th

Departure of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy G.U.S. 19

Convoy G.U.S. 19 left Alexandria consisting of 32 merchant vessels, escorted by H.M.S. LOTUS (S.O.), STARWORT, DIANELLA, SAXIFRAGE

Cyrenaica

The combined air and surface A/S search was continued without result off the Cyrenaican “Hump.”

Alexandria

H.M.S. HARROW (2nd Minesweeping Flotilla) reduced to care and maintenance pending repairs for collision damage.

Port Said

The Repatriation ships TAIREA and CUBA left a.m. for Barcelona with returning prisoners of war and protected personnel.

Aegean

H.M.S. ECLIPSE and PATHFINDER from Guvercinlik Bay each landed 20 tons of stores at Alinda Bay, Leros.  They arrived too late on their way North the previous night.  Completing disembarkation, they swept north of Amorgos and Levitha and withdrew South.

H.M.S. BELVOIR blew up petrol dumps and caused a large fire in a bombardment of Kos Roads and inner harbour; having found all the bays of Piscopi empty, she withdrew in company with the fleets.

H.M.S. PHOEBE and FURY from Alexandria respectively bombarded Port Kalymnos and examined the coast of Kos for “F” Lighters; H.M.S. HURWORTH (22nd Destroyer Flotilla) and BEAUFORT bombarded Kos roads with a total of 300 rounds; HURWORTH was hit by an 88 m.m. shell and had one man killed.  The force made rendezvous south of Scarpanto Strait at dawn and proceeded to Casteloriso.

October 20th

Convoy G.U.S. 19

H.M.S. WHITEHAVEN (14th Minesweeping Flotilla) and REMNEY discontinued the A/S search off the Cyrenaican “Hump” to reinforce the escort of G.U.S. 19.

Aegean

H.M.S. FURY and BEAUFORT from Casteloriso swept west of Kalymnos and were bombed off Leros at 0110.  They had stores which could not be accepted at Leros and lay up in Isene Bay.  Leaving at 1900, they disembarked their stores at 1900 in Alinda Bay before moonrise.  Withdrawing south they search for damaged F lighters round Kos and bombarded Kos Roads.

M.T.S. 315 (S.O.), 307, and 309 returned to Casteloriso from search for shipping close inshore along the north coast of Kos.  They hit 1 600 ton M.V. and an F lighter alongside which blew up.

October 21st

Alexandria

Convoy X.T. 6 left Alexandria consisting of 8 merchant vessels, escorted by H.M.S. CUMBRAE and ISLAY.

Aegean

H.M.S. AURORA (12th Cruiser Squadron) with H.H.M.S. MIAOULIS in company fired 138 rounds into Rhodes port without spectacular results and withdrew to Casteloriso.

H.M.S. FAULKNOR (8th Destroyer Flotilla) and PETARD arrived at Leros with stores which it was impossible to land on account of the moon and flares and lay up in Turkish waters, where they were joined by H.M.S. DULVERTON.  After dark, they withdrew south without attempting to disembark.  DULVERTON bombarded Levitha Lighthouse at 2245, bringing down a heavy bombing attack on the fleets who were withdrawing further South.

H.M. Submarine SEVERN arrived at Portolago from Beirut at 2100 unloaded and departed.  This was the first trip by store carrying submarine to Leros.

Haifa

The Italian cargo submarines ZOEA, MENOTTI, ATROPO, CORRODINI arrived.  They had been sent from Taranto to assist in the supply of Leros.  Their reputed capacity was 40 tons of food or 70 tons of ammunition.

Departure

H.M.S. LULWORTH (cutter) and H.M. Submarine TRESPASSER from Aden to the Eastern Fleet.

October 22nd

Arrival of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy U.G.S. 19

Slow convoy U.G.S. 19 arrived (one day early) with 8 merchant vessels for Alexandria and 26 for Port Said and beyond, plus the tug EMPIRE SANDY, escorted by H.M.S. DELPHINIUM, H.H.M.S. SAKTOURIS, H.M.S. HYACINTH, WOLBOROUGH and KLO.  In company were British L.S.T.s (2) 80, 219, and 235 and U.S. L.S.T.s 17, 21, 25, 72, 175, 176, 208, 209, and 261, and U.S.S. ACHELOUS (also an L.S.T.) for passage to Eastern Fleet.

Convoy G.U.S. 19

H.M.S. WHITEHAVEN (M.S. 14) and ROMNEY were detailed (n.b. from convoy record “detached” vice “detailed”) from the escort and returned to Benghazi.

Alexandria

The S.S. FORT NASHWAAK was aground by the bows on El Fara Shoal between Great and Beghaz Passes at 1544.  She was refloated by 1730 by 3 tugs without discharging cargo, or sustaining serious damage.

Aegean

H.M.S. JERVIS (14th Destroyer Flotilla), PATHFINDER, HURWORTH (22nd Destroyer Flotilla), and H.H.M.S. ADRIAS from Alexandria lay up before dawn in the Gulf of Kos.  At 1905 JERVIS and PATHFINDER proceeded to Partheni Bay, Leros and unloaded stores, including 10 jeeps and trailers within 1 hours from securing while Beaufighters maintained fighter cover.   There was no enemy interference but the destroyers were flared on leaving to withdraw South.  This was the first time that jeeps were landed in Leros.

H.M.S. HURWORTH and ADRIAS were both mined at 2200 in the Kalymnos Channel in position 36-59-03N, 37-06-08E.  HURWORTH blew up and sank, about 90 survivors later reached safety.  H.H.M.S. ADRIAS had her forecastle blown off but managed to beach herself in Gumusluck Harbour.  She was able to steam and salvage appeared possible. 

October 23rd

Aegean

Samos had its first raid when Port Tigani was bombed.

Safe Conduct

Swedish relief ship FORMOSA entered the Station from Gibraltar on passage to Piraeus.

Departures

H.M.S. DURBAN left Alexandria for Malta and onward routing to the United Kingdom.

October 24th

Departure of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy M.K.S. 29

Convoy M.K.S. 29 left Alexandria, consisting of H.M.S. RANPURA and 15 merchant vessels, escorted by H.M.S. COLTSFOOT (S.O.), HYDERABAD, OXLIP, HONEYSUCKLE.

Alexandria

Motor gunboats 643, 645, 647 arrived from Tobruk.  They had been sent from Malta to take part in the Aegean operations.

Aegean

H.M.S. ECLIPSE while proceeding to Sandaman Bay with H.M.S. PETARD to disembark reinforcements into M.L.s for onward passage to Leros, was mined and sunk in position 37N, 27-12E at 0050.  She had 200 troops on board, also Commodore (D).  H.M.S. PETARD picked up 42 survivors and withdrew to Port Deremen.  The M.L.s from Leros picked up others, but Commodore (D) was not found.

After dark, PETARD transferred her naval party for Leros to an M.L. and returned to Port Deremen.

H.M.S. PHOEBE, HURSLEY, and ALDENHAM from Alexandria swept west of Kalymnos and withdrew in the Scarpanto Strait to Casteloriso to fuel.

The Italian S.S. TAGANROG was reported sunk by enemy aircraft off the Anatolian Coast.

Safe Conduct

Swedish relief ship WIRIL left Heraklion for Piraeus.

October 25th

Convoy M.K.S. 29

H.M.S. WHITEHAVEN (14th Minesweeping Flotilla) and ROMNEY formed to reinforce the escort from Long. 24 degrees East to 20 degrees east.

Alexandria

Convoy T.X. 5 arrived with 10 merchant vessels, escorted by H.M.S. SOUTHERN MAID and ROMEO.

M.G.B. 646 arrived from Tobruk.

Aegean

H.M.S. HURSLEY and ALDENHAM from Casteloriso joined H.M.S. PETARD in Port Deremen before dawn, and PETARD transferred her military reinforcements for Leros during the day, withdrawing south to Alexandria after dark.  The Hunts disembarked the men at Alinda Bay, Leros, after dark and withdrew to Mandelyah Gulf.

H.M.S. FAULKNOR, BELVOIR, and BEAUFORT, escorted by H.M.S. PHOEBE from 1715 to 1915 lay up in the Gulf of Kos.

The only crane remaining in operation in Leros was bombed and put out of action.

Submarines

H.M. Submarine SURF engaged a possible minelayer in position 36-55N, 26-05E at 0714, but was out of range.

Departures

H.M.S. ROYAL SCOTSMAN (Stand by H.S. ship), BULAN (cable ship), and L.S.T. 180 from Aden to Bombay. 

October 26th

Alexandria

The Italian destroyers ARTIGLIERE and VELITE arrived from Taranto, carrying Italian ammunition for the batteries at Leros.  It was hoped to make use of their speed in running supplies to Leros.

Aegean

H.M.S. FAULKNOR (8th Destroyer Flotilla), BELVOIR, and BEAUFORT from Gulf of Kos (Yedi Atala) and H.M.S. HURSLEY and ALDENHAM from Mandelyah Gulf carried out an anti shipping sweep west of Leros and withdrew south.  H.M.S. DULVERTON, PENN, and H.H.M.S. MIAOULIS with 310 reinforcements for Leros and 40 tons of handable equipment from Alexandria passed north of Rhodes.

M.L. 579 was destroyed by bombing at Lipsos.  Her two officers and two of her crew (n.b. were killed), the remaining thirteen being saved.  The Italian cargo submarine ZOEA landed 40 tones of stores and mail at Portolago.

Haifa

The Italian cargo submarine BRAGADINO arrived at 0630 from Malta to assist in the supply of Leros, but was found to be unfit to operate.

Turkey

M.L.s 1245 and 1282 and 1294 arrived at Iskenderon from Beirut for delivery to the Turks.  They had reached the Levant in convoy  K.M.S. 27.  M.L. 1243 was still to follow.

Safe Conduct

Swedish relief ship HALLAREN left Venice for Piraeus.

Arrivals

Polish submarines DZIK and SOKOL at Beirut to reinforce the 1st Submarine Flotilla.

October 27th

Alexandria

H.M.S. HYACINTH was handed over to the Greeks and renamed APOSTOLIS.  The ceremonial hoisting of the Greek flag took place at 1000.

M.T.B. 313 was paid off.  She had suffered bomb damage requiring a big refit.

Aegean

5th Destroyer Flotilla Force arrived at Partheni Bay at 0210, disembarking their troops and stores without the hour and withdrew to Guvercinlik Bay.  Flares were dropped, but all to seaward and the provision of lighters was adequate.

A formation of J.U. 88s was driven off by Beaufighters escorting H.M.S. AURORA (12th Cruiser Squadron), PATHFINDER, EXMOOR, and BLENCATHRA who were making a detour to the east of Casteloriso before approaching the Rhodes Channel.

L.C.T.s 104 and 115 on passage to Casteloriso from Haifa and escorted by H.M.S. BREAM and F.S. REINE DES FLOTS were attacked by 12 Stukas within sight of the island at 1800 and L.C.T. 115 was sunk.  There were 22 naval but no military casualties.

Casteloriso was bombed at 1700 and a sea plane tender was damaged.  This was the first raid on the island.

Haifa

The Italian submarines ALAGI and GALATEA arrived at 1030 from Taranto.  They were sent to provide A/S training.

October 28th

Aegean

H.M.S. DULVERTON (5th Destroyer Flotilla), PENN, and H.H.M.S. MIAOULIS from Turkish waters swept North of Leros and West of Levitha, which was the limit of their endurance, and withdrew south without making an sightings.

H.M.S. PATHFINDER, EXMOOR, and BLENCATHRA lay up in the Gulf of Kos.

In a raid on Casteloriso, M.L. 299 claimed to have shot down 1 J.U. 87.

Safe Conduct

Swedish relief ships TAMAR and FENRIS left Piraeus for Gibraltar.

October 29th

Departure of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy G.U.S. 20

37 merchant vessels left Alexandria escorted by H.M.S. DELPHINIUM, H.H.M.S. APOSTOLIS (late HYACINTH), SAKHTOURIS, H.M.S. WOLBOROUGH, and KLO.

Alexandria

The Broad pendant of Commodore (D) was struck in H.M.S. WOOLWICH at sunset.  Commodore (D), Commodore 2nd Class P. Todd, C.B.E., D.S.O. had taken passage in H.M.S. ECLIPSE to Leros and was reported missing.  He was succeeded by Captain John Terry, R.N., of H.M.S. DIDO with the title Captain “F” Levant.  H.M.S. DIDO was still under repair for collision damage.

Aegean

H.M.S. AURORA (12th Cruiser Squadron) escorting H.M.S. ECHO, ROCKWOOD, and O.R.P. KRAKOWIAK was bombed without damaged by 8 to 10 Stukas at 1515 50 miles southeast of Casteloriso.

Italian cargo submarine CORRIDONI arrived at Portolago and discharged

Submarines

H.M. Submarine UNSPARING fired four torpedoes at a 3000 ton troopship at 2048 in position 36-33N, 25-48E moving east towards Stampalia and sank her with one hit.  At 1101, she sank an R boat lying stopped and loaded with survivors in the same position.

H.M. Submarine SURF sighted 1 M.V. and an escort vessel entering Panormos Bay, Mykenos at 1250.  At 1427 she first two torpedoes into the Bay without result, at 1825 a second salvo exploded on shore.

Red Sea

H.M.A.S. GAWLER on passage to Aden was sent to the assistance of the tug TIENT TSIN which ran aground on the Fury Shoal on the 26th while on passage to Massawa.

October 30th

Arrival of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy M.K.S 29

Eleven merchant vessels arrived for Alexandria and 25 for Port Said and beyond including tugs EMPIRE OBERON and ODEAN SALVOR, escorted by H.M.S. DART, RYE, PROTEA, GLOXINIA and SOUTHERN ISLES.

Port Said

The Italian cruiser EUGENIO DE SAVOIA arrived from Taranto.  She was to be employed as torpedo target ship at the disposal of Flag Officer Commanding, Red Sea and Canal Area.

Aegean

H.M.S. PATHFINDER, EXMOOR, and BLENCATHRA withdrew south after an uneventful sweep of the Amorgos – Kos – Stampalia area.

H.M.S. AURORA (12th Cruiser Squadron), H.M.S. PETARD, BEAUFORT, and BELVOIR while proceeding towards the Rhodes Channel were bombed without damaged at 1532 by 2 J.U.88s and again by 13 J.U. 88s in position 36-05N, 29-47E inside Turkish waters.  AURORA was hit aft and towed back with BEAUFORT.  Her casualties were 47 killed and 30 wounded.

PETARD and BELVOIR were bombed at 1715 and again at 1755 when BELVOIR received slight damage from a hit by an unexploded bomb.  They entered the Rhodes Channel after dark and lay up in Mandelyah Gulf.

Red Sea and Canal Area

The Flag of Rear Admiral J.W.A. Waller was hoisted in H.M.S. ENDEAVOUR at Suez at 0800.  He combined the duties of Chairman of the Directorate of Combined Operations and the Flag Officer Commanding the Red Sea and Canal area.

The Flag of Vice Admiral R.H.C. Hallifax, C.B. was hauled down in H.M.S. ENDEAVOUR at sunset.

Red Sea

H.M.A.S. GAWLER reported all survivors of the tug TIENT TSIN were accounted for and that salvage was hopeless.  This was confirmed by later investigation by the H.M. tug JAMES E. HUGHES.

Arrivals

H.M.S. DART with M.M.S. 29.  She was a reinforcement for the escorts of the Levant Station.

H.M.S. PALADIN from K.M.F. 25 at Alexandria for fitting of new tail shaft.

H.M.S. BOXER and BRUISER (L.S.T.s (1) from K.M.F. 25 at Alexandria.  Both were on passage to Eastern Fleet.

October 31st

Arrival of through Mediterranean Slow Convoy U.G.S. 20

25 M.V.s arrived escorted by H.M.S. MARYBOROUGH (S.O.), PRIMULA, BANFF, FALK, SOUTHERN SEAS.

Arrival of Through Mediterranean Fast convoy K.M.F. 25

Eight merchant vessels arrived at Port Said escorted by O.R.P. SLAZAK, H.M.S. ATHERSTONE, CATTERICK, CLEVELAND, HAMBLEDON.

Alexandria

Convoy X.T. 7 left consisting of 10 merchant vessels escorted by H.M.S. BURRA, ROMEO, and KINGSTON CYANITE.

Aegean

H.M.S. ECHO, ROCKWOOD, and KRAKOWIAK from the Gulf of Kos carried out an uneventful demonstration off Kalymnos and Leros and withdrew to Pharlah Bay.  They withdrew south at 1930.

H.M.S. PETARD and BELVOIR disembarked 129 troops and stores, including 15 jeeps at Leros and withdrew to Iassus Bay.

The Italian cargo submarine MENOTTI arrived at Portlago and discharged.

Submarines

H.M. Submarine UNSPARING chased a decoy caique in position at 36-44.7N, 25-47.7E at 1709 but was forced to dive by accurate counter fire which hit the bridge and caused one man to be lost overboard.

Haifa

The minesweeping yacht CALAMARA decommissioned and reduced to Care and Maintenance.

Special Operation CULTIVATE

M.L. 361 sailed from Bardia to land agents and stores on the south coast of Crete in position 34-55-44N, 24-56-43E.

Arrivals

H.M. Submarines SIBYL and SPORTSMAN at Beirut to reinforce the 1st Submarine Flotilla.

H.M. Tugs PRINCE SALVOR and OCEAN SALVOR at Port Said in K.M.S. 29 for passage to Eastern Fleet.

 

PART II

APPRECIATION OF EVENTS FOR OCTOBER 1943

General

Vice Admiral Sir Algernon U. Willis, K.C.B., D.S.O. assumed command temporarily as Commander in Chief, Levant Station on the 14th in succession to Admiral Sir John Cunningham, K.C.B., M.V.O.  Admiral Cunningham was appointed Commander in Chief Mediterranean Station, to succeed Admiral of the Fleet Sir Andrew Cunningham, K.C.B., D.S.O., who became First Sea Lord.

2.  Five cruisers and 6 Fleet destroyers arrived from the Western Mediterranean to take part in offensive operations in the Aegean which were resumed on their arrived, and maintained in spite of the enemy’s capture of Kos and growing command of the air.

Cyrenaica

3.  There was little U boat activity, but the tanker S.S. MARIT was sunk off Tolmeita on the 4th.  H.M.A.S. GAWLER made several promising attacks and considered the U boat probably damaged.  It was considered that the enemy was relying on periodical swoops rather than constant U Boat patrols off the Cyrenaican “Hump” and vigilance could not be relaxed.

Alexandria

4.  With the approach of winter, the capacity of the harbour became a matter of some concern, but the berthing situation was eased by the departure of H.M.S. HOWE and KING GEORGE V with a screen of the remaining destroyers of the 8th Destroyer Flotilla.  The future of the Italian Squadron was also decided when useful employment was found for the cruisers and destroyers in the Western Mediterranean and a harmless berth was found for the battleships in the Bitter Lakes, as it was not found practicable to employ them in any way.

5.  H.M. Cruisers AURORA (12th Cruiser Squadron), PENELOPE, DIDO, SIRIUS, and later PHOEBE and the destroyers FAULKNOR (8th Destroyer Flotilla), FURY, ECHO, ECLIPSE, JERVIS (14th Destroyer Flotilla), PANTHER, PATHFINDER, PENN, and PETARD arrived from the Western Mediterranean and were based at Alexandria for Aegean Operations.  Repair and Docking facilities at Alexandria were soon unequal to the number of high priority items that accumulated during the month; H.M.S. AURORA and DIDO had collision damage, 3 more cruisers suffered bomb damage and as many destroyers as possible had to be maintained for the continuous operations in the Aegean.  H.M.S. SIRIUS was sent to Massawa for three months repair.  H.M.S. PENELOPE was made fit to operate on three shafts early in November, and H.M.S. CARLISLE was docked after PENELOPE in A.F.D. 5 on the 28th.  DIDO and AURORA remained in dockyard hands well into November.

Aegean

6.  The month opened with the German domination of the skies over the Aegean firmly established from air fields in Crete, Rhodes, and the Greek Mainland, and they were able to neutralize our airfields in KosKos itself was invaded and taken on the 3rd and with it was lost the last hope of staging a frontal assault on Rhodes for which the Kos air field was considered prerequisite.

It was decided to maintain our precarious foothold inside the “Iron Ring” for as long as possible and pursuance of this police developed into a struggle between the British Navy and the German Air Force.

7.  In the face of this adverse conditions, H.M.S. SIRIUS and PENELOPE with destroyers sunk a convoy of Stampalia in daylight on the 7th and withdrew at the cost of bomb damaged to PENELOPE.  After carrying out a similar sweep two days later, H.M.S. PANTHER was sunk and H.M.S. CARLISLE seriously damaged whilst leaving Scarpanto Strait under heavy air attack.  The escorting Lightnings inflicted casualties but it was evident that fighter protection could not be maintained on an adequate scale so far from our own air bases and so close to the enemy’s.  Most fortunately, Turkey did not object to our use of her territorial waters for maintaining destroyers in a position of comparable safety during the day from which they could operate with some confidence under the cover of darkness.

8.  To restrict our use of Turkish waters, the enemy later resorted to minelaying and we suffered a serious set back with the mining of H.M.S. HURWORTH, H.H.M.S. ADRIAS, and of H.M.S. ECLIPSE the next night with troops on board.  Commodore P. Todd, C.B.E. D.S.O., Commodore (D) was among the missing, and the casualties among the troops were heavy.

9.  It was intended that once of the buildup of Leros was complete, its Maintenance would be undertaken by caique from Samos and from the Turkish coast, and at the end of the month all available caiques were collected at Smyrna, Kusadasi, and Burdrum.  Meanwhile a great effort was made to make Leros secure for the winter, and destroyers could not be spared from the task of running in troops and stores.  H.M.S. JERVIS, PENN, PATHFINDER, and PETARD completed two successful trips and H.M.S. ECLIPSE, FURTY, DULVERTON, BEAUFORT, BELVOIR, and H.H.M.S. MIAOULIS one each.

10.  Four Italian store carrying submarines arrived from Malta and made 5 trips between them before the full moon period supervened.  H.M.S. RORQUAL was recalled from her return home and H.M.S. SEVERN was diverted from passage to the Eastern Fleet and both carried out successful discharge of cargo at Leros.

11. The end of the month saw the position still favourable to us, if we could defer or disrupt the enemy’ preparations for invasion until Leros was made secure.

Levant Area

12.  The two double clamp bilge keel mines removed from the S.S. SICILIAN PRINCE at Haifa on the 7th were covered with marine growth and since they appeared to have been attached several months previously, they gave no cause for alarm about repetitions of this form of sabotage.  As before the mines were of Italian origin.  There is no evidence as yet whether the Germans had been associated with the sabotage and whether they would carry it on themselves from Turkish ports.

13.  There was no U Boat activity in the Levant Area and though a submarine was sighted south of Cyprus on the 9th, no attacks developed.  This was all the more fortunate on account of the traffic between Casteloriso and the Levant Coast.  While many of the Regular Levant Coast Escorts had been replaced by non asdic fitted minesweepers.

14.  Two ex Italian passenger steamers, the EOLO 600 tons and the POLA 250 tons, carried out frequent troop movements to Casteloriso assisted by the French escort vessels, LA MOQUEUSE, COMMANDANT DUBOC, COMMANDANT DOMINE.

15.  The flag of Rear Admiral J.W.A. Waller was hoisted in H.M.S. ENDEAVOUR at 0800 on the 30th in succession to Vice Admiral R.H.C. Hallifax, C.B., the duties of the Chairman of the Directorate of Combined Operations, Middle East, being merged with those of Flag Officer, Red and Canal Area from that date.  It is deeply regretted that Vice Admiral Hallifax lost his left when his aircraft crashed en route to the United Kingdom.

16.  The months figures for canal transits were 124 ships northbound and 146 ships southbound, and there was a corresponding increase in the traffic at Aden.  Submarine activity continued in the Gulf of Aden during the first half of the month , the two ships attacked being both outside the limits of the station.  These were the S.S. STORVIKEN, sunk on the 1st and S.S. ANNA KNUDSEN, torpedoed on the 5th, but escorted by Aden on the 6th by H.M.A.S. TAMWORTH and H.M.S. SIGFRA.  There was also a large increase in the number of H.M. Ships leaving Aden to join the Eastern Fleet and this was reflected in the gradual build up of an escort force based at Aden.

17.  The Italian battleships VITTORIO VENETO and the ITALIA anchored in the Bitter Lakes on the 16th.  Apart from duty visits, the Officers and crew were allowed ashore only for exercise once daily with military guides, this degree of segregation being dictated by the hostility of the Greek and French elements in the population.  There was no employment for their large crews and their protracted stay was not a welcome prospect.  The cruiser EUGENIO DA SAVIOA was based at Suez for exercises with the Royal Air Force who badly need a fast moving target for the final stages of training in carrying out torpedo attacks.

Changes On The Station

Arrivals

H.M.S. AURORA, PENELOPE, SIRIUS, DIDO, PHOEBE,

JERVIS, PATHFINDER, PETARD, PENN, PANTHER, PALADIN, TUMULT.

ROBERTS, SOEMBA

APHIS, SCARAB, COCKCHAFER

GLENGYLE

RANPURA

RORQUAL, SEVERN, SURF, SIMOON, SERAPH, SHAKESPEARE, SICKLE, SPORTSMAN, UNSPARING, UNRULY, UNRIVALLED, TRIDENT, DZIK, SOKOL

USK, DART

DABCHICK

EMPIRE GNOME, PRINCE SALVOR, OCEAN SALVOR

BOXER, BRUISER

L.S.T.s 80, 219, 235

U.S. L.S.T.s 17, 21, 25, 72, 175, 176, 208, 209, 261

B.Y.M.S. 74, 190, 191, 212, 229

M.G.B.s 642, 643, 645, 646, 647

M.L.s 584, 1245, 1282, 1294

M.L. 841 (Commissioned)

Departures

H.M.S. HOWE, KING GEORGE V

LANDGUARD, SENNEN

SHOREHAM, CAIRMS, CESSNOCK, GERALDTON, WOOLONGONG, JUMNA

TALLY HO, TRESPASSER, TAURUS

O 23 (Dutch Submarine)

CALAMARA (de commissioned)

On passage

L.S.T. 180, 239

LULWORTH

 


NOVEMBER 1943


Click to enlarge

PART I

November 1st

It was decided to limit the number of ships in Alexandria harbour to 80 from November 1st, and in M.K.S. and G.U.S. Convoys, were, after G.U.S. 20, sailed in two portions, of which one from Port Said joined the other from Alexandria off the Shoulder Buoy.

Convoy X.T. 7

The tug C.T. 7 was sunk in position 31-30N, 27-50E A.M. One survivor was picked up by H.M.A.S. BURRA.

Alexandria

The Italian submarine GALATEA arrived as a target for A/S practices.

Aegean

H.M.S. PETARD and BELVOIR from Mandelyah Gulf withdrew south after dropping delay action devices off Kalymnos.

Special Operation CULTIVATE

M.L. 361 returned to Mersa Matruh after the successful completed of operation CULTIVATE.

Arrivals

H.M. Submarine SICKLE at Beirut to reinforce the First Submarine Flotilla.

H.M.S. BANFF at Port Said to U.G.S. 20 for passage to Eastern Fleet.

November 2nd

Departure of Through Mediterranean Fast Convoy M.K.F. 25A.

Convoy M.K.F. 25 A consisting of 3 M.V.s escorted by O.R.P. SLAZAK left Port Said for Algiers.

Alexandria

The tug C.T. 5 which dropped out of convoy X.T. 7 on October 30th with engine trouble arrived in tow of B.Y.M.S. 229 and 74.

Aegean

H.M.S. DULVERTON (5th Destroyer Flotilla), BEAUFORT, and PINDOS from Alexandria arrived in the Gulf of Doris and lay up during the night of 2nd/3rd.

Canal Area

It was decided that Hoppers 33, 42, and 44 which had been used for minesweeping in the canal should be returned to the Canal Company.

Submarines

H.M. Submarine UNSPARING arrived at Beirut from patrol in the Aegean.

Departures

L.S.T.s (2) 79, 214, 215, 237, 239 and U.S. L.S.T.s 17, 21, 25, 72, 175, 208, 209, 261 from Aden to Bombay.

 November 3rd

Departure of Personnel Convoy to Taranto X.I.F. 3

Convoy X.I.F. 3 left Alexandria consisting of 3 personnel ships escorted by H.M.S. ATHERSTONE, CLEVELAND, CATTERICK, and HAMBELDON, and made rendezvous with convoy M.K.F. 25 A for passage in company to Augusta.

Departure of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy M.K.S. 30

8 M.V.s from Port Said and 11 from Alexandria joined company at Should Buoy and sailed escorted by H.M.S. USK, SOUTHERN MAID, SOUTHERN SEAS, and H.H.M.S. SOEMBA.

Departure of Italian Destroyers

The VELITE and ARTIGLIERE left Alexandria for Taranto.  Both were unsuitable for the Aegean.  ARTIGLIERE required a long refit and VELITE was not properly worked up.

Aegean

5th Destroyer Flotilla from the Gulf of Doris landed 190 troops, 20 tons of stores, and 1 jeep at Portolago and withdrew at 0215 to Givercinlik.  Time did not permit testing the arrangements for fuelling destroyers at Portolago.  5th Destroyer Flotilla withdrew south at 1845.

Safe Conduct

The repatriation ships TAIREA and CUBA arrived at Alexandria with 1060 ex prisoners of war and protected personnel exchanged at Barcelona.

November 4th

Aegean

H.M.S. FAULKNOR (8th Destroyer Flotilla), ECHO, PENN, and PATHFINDER all with reinforcements for Leros, passed north of Rhodes and arrived in Gulf of Doris, H.M.S. PHOEBE escorted from Cyprus until dark.

Port Said

A double clamp bilge keel mine was removed from the Greek S.S. ORION.  The mine was covered with marine growth.

The Italian consul at Mersin provided the information that led to this discovery.  According to him four ships were sabotaged in June and July, the ORION, KAITUNA, SICILIAN PRINCE, and FERNPLANT.  Of these, the KAITUNA was the only ship damaged.

Departures

H.M. Submarine TRIDENT from Port Said to refit in  U.K. U.S.S. L.S.T. ACHELOUS and H.M.S. DABCHICK from Aden to the Eastern Fleet.

November 5th

Aegean

Captain (D), Eight Destroyer Flotilla from the Gulf of Doris divided his forces between Portolago and Partheni Bay and disembarked an M.G. battalion of 150 and 80 tons of stores between 0150 and 0400 retiring to Guvercinlik Bay.  At 1800 H.M.S. FAULKNOR and ECHO withdrew south, leaving H.M.S. PENN and PATHFINDER as a striking force.  H.M.S. ALDENHAM and H.H.M.S. MIAOULIS from Cyprus arrived in the Gulf of Doris.  They left after dark and bombarded Kos Roads from 2321 – 2335 without spectacular results, retiring to the Gulf of Kos.

Arrivals

M.L. 459 commissioned at Cairo

November 6th

Aegean

Aircraft sighted a fleet of invasion craft leaving Naussa Bay, Paros, at 2230.  H.M.S. PENN and PATHFINDER, having left Mandelyah Gulf at 1830 for an anti shipping sweep were diverted to attack.

Submarines

The Italian submarine ZOEA unloaded stores at Portolago at 2030.

H.M. Submarine SERAPH sank a large caique by torpedo in Pegadia Bay.  After dusk, she bombarded the harbour, damaging an Arado seaplane, setting warehouses on fire, and engaging gun emplacements.

November 7th

Levant

The S.S. LLANGIBBY CASTLE reported on arrival at Alexandria from Port Said that she had sighted torpedoes first from seaward in position 31-31N, 30-06E at 0305.  A surface A/S sweep was instituted at daylight, but produced no results.

Aegean

H.M.S. PENN and PATHFINDER failed to make contact with the invasion fleet, but sank a caique south of Paros and arrived in Iassus Bay to lie up.

H.M.S. ALDENDEN (ALDENHAM?) and H.H.M.S. MIAOULIS withdrew south after a night patrol off Kos and Kalymnos being short of fuel.

H.M.S. FURY, EXMOOR, and BLENCATHRA arrived in Manelyah Gulf at 0610 from Cyprus.

November 8th

Departure of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy G.U.S. 21

Convoy G.U.S. 21 consisting of M.V.s from Port Said and Alexandria sailed escorted by H.M.S. DART, RYE, GLOXINIA, and PROTEA

Aegean

An invasion force including 2 M.V.s was sighed at 1410 heading for Amorgos from Naxos.

H.M.S. FURY, EXMOOR, and BLENCATHRA from Mandelyah Gulf examined the bays along the north coast of Amorgos from a range of from 30 – 800 yards at slow speed but without result.  They retired to the Gulf of Doris.

H.M.S. PENELOPE remained south of Aegean in general support.

Safe Conduct

The Swedish Relief Ships AKKA and YARRAWONGA crossed the longitude of 20 degrees East on passage from Gibraltar to Piraeus.

November 9th

Aegean

H.M.S. PETARD, ROCKWOOD, and O.R.P. KRAKOWIAK from Cyprus arrived at Guvercinlik Bay at 0600 with 50 personnel and some stores for transfer to Leros by M.L.

A force of 2 M.V.s and 10 invasion craft was sighted by air making for Levitha from Amorgos in the afternoon.  PETARD’s force swept round Levitha after dark and examined the western Bay closely without result, and bombarded Levitha Harbour with unobserved results, before withdrawing to Mandelyah Gulf.

H.M.S. FURY’s force withdrew south from the Gulf of Doris at 1800.

Aden

H.M.S. TAMWORTH sank a British moored mine by gunfire close south of Aden swept channel entrance.

Submarines

H.M. Submarine SERAPH arrived at Beirut from patrol in the Aegean.

Departures

The H.M. Tug EMPIRE GNOME from Aden to the Eastern Fleet.

November 10th

Arrival of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy U.G.S. 21

Convoy U.G.S. 21 arrived (2 days early) with 7 M.V.s for Alexandria and 37 for Port Said and beyond escorted by H.M.S. AIRE, ALISMA, SPIRAEA, SAXIFRAGE,  ANEMONE, and ROMNEY

Alexandria

Convoy X.T. 8 sailed consisting of 12 M.V.s escorted by H.M.S. CUMBRAE and ISLAY.

Aegean

In the afternoon, groups of invasion craft were sighted approaching Kos and Kalymnos.  H.M.S. PETARD, ROCKWOOD, and O.R.P. KRAKOWIAK from Mandelyah Gulf fired 1500 rounds of 4 inch between 2140 and 2315 into Port Kalymnos and the small bay to the East.  No landing craft were seen, but an M.V. inside the breakwater was plastered.

M.M.S. 102 on passage to Leros with troops ran hard aground 1 cable west of Ketapaluka Lighthouse opposite Kos.  The troops were disembarked for passage by M.L. and she was refloated the next day.

Aden

The S.S. SAMBO was sunk 10 miles south of Perim at 1511Z.  The evidence suggested a British mine that had come adrift from the Perim minefield.

Safe Conduct

The Swedish relief ship FORMOSA left Piraeus for Gibraltar at 0800.

Departures

H.M.S. GLENGYLE and U.S. L.S.T. 72 from Aden to Eastern Fleet.

11th November 11th

Arrival of Additional Through Mediterranean Fast Convoy K.M.F. 25 A.

2 Personnel ships arrived Alexandria and 3 for Port Said and beyond, escorted by H.M.S. TETCOTT, HAYDON, H.H.M.S. KANARIS, and THEMISTOCLES.

Arrival of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy  K.M.S. 30

8 M.V.s  arrived for Alexandria and 5 for Port Said and beyond, escorted by H.M.S. BARLE, BRYONY, BERGAMOT, and F.S. LA MALOUINE.  This convoy being 4 days late arrived out of turn.

Alexandria

The 2nd M/S Flotilla, less H.M.S. HARROW, were allocated to the F.O. Tunisia to assist the 13th M/S Flotilla – H.M.S. ABERDARE and DERBY sailed to the Western Mediterranean.

Aegean

H.M.S. PETARD’s force was attacked with glider bombs and H.M.S. ROCKWOOD was hit in the gearing room by an unexploded bomb at 0045 in position 36-25N, 26-52E.  She was towed to Losta Bay by PETARD and remained immobilized until the flooded compartment could be pumped out.  PETARD and O.R.P. KRAKOWIAK withdrew north of Rhodes after dark.

H.M.S. FAULKNOR (8th Destroyer Flotilla), BEAUFORT, and H.H.M.S. PINDOS bombarded Kos Harbour between 0330 and 0355 with unobserved results, withdrawing to the Gulf of Doris.

B.Y.M.S. 72 was damaged by bombing at Leros at 2000.  2 ratings were killed, 1 missing, and 5 injured.  She was shortly after captured in Kalymnos. (see detailed account)

Submarines

H.M. Submarine UNRULY arrived at Beirut.  Her patrol was blank.  The Polish submarine SOKOL sank a 150 ton schooner close to Cape Kalatari (Amorgos) loaded with army stores.

Arrivals

B.Y.M.S. 186 at Alexandria from Western Mediterranean.  H.M.S. THRUSTER with K.M.S. 30.

Departures

H.M. Hoppers 33, 42, and 44 paid off and returned to the Suez Canal Company.

November 12th

Alexandria

H.M.S. AURORA sailed for Taranto to be taken in hand for permanent damage repairs.  The broad pendant of Commodore W.G. Agnew, C.B., C.V.O., D.S.O., R.N. was transferred to H.M.S. DIDO at 0800 11th.

Aegean

The invasion of Leros began at 0700, the enemy using 20 landing craft and by 1500 gaining footholds in North and East while a parachute battalion landed in the neck.  Two landing craft were sunk and 2 damaged in the first assault.

The threat of air attack kept the destroyers in Turkish waters during daylight.

Submarines

H.M. Submarine SHAKESPEARE arrived at Beirut from patrol in the Aegean.

Arrivals

B.Y.M.S. 33 and 240 at Port Said from Western Mediterranean.

November 13th

Convoy X.T. 8

The S.S. EVVIVA broke down and was taken in tow by H.M.S. CUMBRAE.

Departure of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy M.K.S. 31

9 M.V.s from Port Said and 9 from Alexandria sailed escorted by H.M.S. AIRE, SPIRAEA, ALISMA, and H.H.M.S. MIAOULIS.

Cyrenaica

A Greek motor gunboat, commissioned with a Greek crew at Taranto for passage to Alexandria sprung a leak after leaving Malta and was towed by Benghazi by M.L. 564, here unsuccessful attempts were made by a small tug to tow her into harbour and after the tow had parted, it foundered in a heavy sea outside the harbour.  There were no casualties.

Aegean

H.M.S. FAULKNOR (8th Destroyer Flotilla), BEAUFORT and H.H.M.S. PINDOS searched close round Leros and the west coast of Kalymnos for enemy shipping, but found nothing; yet enemy reinforcements did penetrate to the island during the night.

H.M.S. DULVERTON (5th Destroyer Flotilla) proceeding north with H.M.S. ECHO and BELVOIR from Cyprus was hit and sunk by a glider bomb at 0310 in position 36-50.5N, 27-30E to East of Kos.  ECHO and BELVOIR picked up 6 officers and 103 ratings (not including Commander (D) 5th Destroyer Flotilla) and retired to lie up.

After dark, FAULKNOR, BEAUFORT, and H.H.M.S. PINDOS bombarded enemy positions in Leros and withdrew south.

Levant

Rioting broke out among the Lebanese.  The working of the port was not directly affected.

General

The military situation in Leros improved during the day.  Bad weather hampered further enemy landings and his beach heads were reduced and the paratroops confined to the neck.

November 14th

Aegean

H.M.S. ECHO and BELVOIR proceeded after dark to Samos where they embarked two companies of Royal West Kents at 2215, 170 in ECHO and 190 in BELVOIR.  They were continuously shadowed and bombed round the north and west coast of Samos until 0230 15th when as time was short due to delay at Samos, BELVOIR was detached to Turkish waters and ECHO proceeded at Increased speed.  H.M.S. ECHO sighted out M.T.B.s off Lipsos and heard herself reported as an enemy destroyer, but did not break W/T silence to contradict.  She disembarked her troops at Portolago.  While withdrawing to Pharlah Bay to lie up, she engaged at dawn an F lighter loaded with troops off Alinda Bay and left it on fire and sinking.

H.M.S. BELVOIR had arrived in Pharlah Bay and V.10 with 4 M.T.B.s joined at 0700.

H.M.S. PENN and ALDENHAM and BLENCATHRA bombarded enemy beach positions in Alinda Bay at dusk, as requested by the shore signal station.  No shipping was seen except caiques.  Search east of Leros for convoy was without results, and attracted attention of enemy aircraft.  Destroyers were twice bombed and withdrew east after ALDENHAM was near missed by a rocket bomb at 2330, but suffered no damage.  The force withdrew to Mandelyah Gulf.

M.T.B.s 263, 266, and 315 cooperating with H.M.S. ECHO off Alinda Bay sank 2 landing craft loaded with troops.

A successful night at sea, but long period of moonlight made it very anxious.

Submarines

H.M. Submarine SIBYL sank by gunfire a small caique bound from Piraeus to Chios at 2030.

Port Said

The trials of the new Admiralty Floating Dock for Fairmiles were satisfactorily completed.

Arrivals

The French destroyers LE FANTASQUE and LE TERRIBLE, sent from Malta in answer to a request for fast destroyers for Aegean Operations.

November 15th

Alexandria

Convoy T.X. 7 consisting of 13 M.V.s escorted by H.M.A.S. BURRA and ROMEO arrived.

Aegean

H.M.S. BELVOIR transferred her troops to M.T.B.s and B.Y.M.S. for passage to Leros.

H.M.S. ECHO and BELVOIR withdrew south and H.M.S. BLENCATHRA joined H.M.S. ROCKWOOD in Losta Bay, leaving H.M.S. PENN and ALDENHAM with the M.T.B.s at Pharlah Bay.

Levant Area

It was reported that repair of H.M. Ships at Beirut was slowed up because French troops outside the Dockyard intimidated the workmen and that a strong protest was made by the General Officer Commanding Ninth Army to the French Authorities.

Submarines

H.M. Submarine SPORTSMAN at 0724 close north of Naxos sank by gunfire a 100 ton caique loaded with small arms ammunition.

H.M. Submarine SIBYL sank by gunfire 150 ton schooner in position 39-39N, 25-33E at 2312.

November 16th

Aegean

H.M.S. PENN while returning to Pharlah Bay from a dawn sweep east of Leros was hit by a shell without casualties or serious damage.

H.M.S. ROCKWOOD left Losta Bay in tow of H.M.S. BLENCATHRA during the afternoon.

Leros surrendered at about 1700.  The report was made in P/L and was at first treated as of enemy origin.

Confirmation of the intelligence reached Samos after H.M.S. EXMOOR, O.R.P. KRAKOWIAK had embarked 300 reinforcements of the Greek Sacred Brigade for Leros.  They were disembarked and destroyers rejoined H.M.S. FURY in Pharlah Bay.  4 M.T.B.s carried out a blank sweep east of Leros during the night and during withdrawal were attacked with glider bombs but not hit.

Levant

At 0500 an Egyptian schooner ABIS No.D.188 on passage from Aboukir to Cyprus was abandoned by her crew and believed sunk, when a “low black object” fired two shots into her.  The survivors were picked up by H.M.S. ROMNEY on the 17th.

Turkey

The ferries TUZLA and DARICA were transferred to Turkish Flag at 1030.  Their delivery had been delayed as their services had been required for Sicilian operations and later for the landings across the Messina Straits.

Departures

H.M. Minesweepers BAGSHOT and FAREHAM from Alexandria for operations in the Western Mediterranean.

November 17th

Aegean

Samos was heavily bombed during the day and by 1930 Port Vathi was inoperative and Port Tigani damaged and in flames but still workable.  After the burning of all S.P.s the naval Headquarters was transferred in M.L. to Turkish waters.

H.M.S. FURY, EXMOOR, and O.R.P. KRAKOWIAK left Mandelyah Gulf and withdrew by the Rhodes Channel to Limasol, being met by H.M.S. PENELOPE at daylight.  L.C.M. 649 left Kulluk, where it had been released from internment in tow of an Italian F lighter.

H.M.S. BLENCATHRA towing H.M.S. ROCKWOOD at 14 knots, H.M.S. PENN, and ALDENHAM arrived at Limasol.

The Italian submarine ATROPO was recalled at 1800 when 36 hours out of Beirut on passage to Leros with stores.

Submarines

The Polish submarine DZIK sank by gunfire a 40 ton caique loaded with oil drums at 1150 close off Monemvasia.  She transferred the crew of Greeks to another caique.

H.M.S. SICKLE sank by gunfire 80 ton westbound caique close S.W. Amorgos.

Report of U Boat

At 0420, a U boat was fixed by D/F in approximate position 35-40N, 28-40E S.E. of Rhodes

Arrivals

M.L. 842 commissioned at Cairo and allocated to special service.

November 18th

Sailing of Through Mediterranean Fast Convoy M.K.F. 26/X.I.F. 4

The combined convoy M.K.F. 26 with 9 ships and X.I.F. 4 with 2 ships left escorted by H.M.S. ANTWERP (S.O.), PALADIN, BELVOIR, BEAUFORT, PINDOS, and KANARIS.

Sailing of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy G.U.S. 22

G.U.S. 22 with 22 M.V. s from Port Said and 13 from Alexandria escorted by H.M.S. BARLE (S.O.), BRYONY, BERGAMOT, SOUTHERN ISLES, and ROMNEY.

Aegean

H.M.S. PATHFINDER, HAYDON, and TETCOTT, escorted by H.M.S. PENELOPE until 1730 left Limasol for the Aegean, but were recalled after dark to Alexandria.  They arrived in the forenoon in company with H.M.S. FURY, EXMOOR, and O.R.P. KRAKOWIAK escorting H.M.S. ROCKWOOD during her successful tow by H.M.S. BLENCATHRA.

All coastal craft available for evacuation were directed to Port Vathi, Samos.

M.G.B.s 643 and 646, L.C.M. 649 (previously reputed to have been interned at Kulluk) and an Italian F lighter escaped from Leros and arrived at Casteloriso.

Levant

The Greek minesweeper LYCOS was paid off at Beirut and the crew released for manning B.Y.M.S.

Submarines

The Polish submarine SOKOL sank a 20 ton caique and took two German prisoners 5 miles north of Cape Kalymnos (Santorin).

H.M. Submarine SPORTSMAN attacked a westbound destroyer close of Naxos but missed.

H.M. Submarine SIBYL sank a small caique bound for Salonika from Mitylene at 0650; and at 1245 she sank a small caique bound for Piraeus from Stavros.

H.M. Submarine TORBAY was ineffectively hunted at 1940 by two A/S craft 10 miles west of Cape Papas (Nikaria).

November 19th

Aegean

H.M.S. PHOEBE left Alexandria in company with F.S. LE FANTASQUE and LE TERRIBLE at 0600.  During the approach to the Aegean the force was shadowed from 1515 and attacked at 1620 by 20 J.U. 88s when PHOEBE and FANTASQUE were near missed without damage. (PHOEBE shot down 1 certain and a probable).  And again at 1711 when the destroyers were attacked without damaged.  2 aircraft were shot down and claimed by the destroyers.  PHOEBE then parted company and the destroyers increased to 32.5 knots.  This was LE TERRIBLE’s maximum speed and she carried out a sweep round Levitha and Amorgos. LE FANTASQUE swept north at 36 knots.

R.A.F. High Speed Launches came under naval control for the withdrawal from Samos.

Levant

H.M.S. PENELOPE arrived at Haifa where a display of force was required by the disturbed situation which existed among the Lebanese and which the concessions from the French had not served to allay.

Submarines

The Polish submarine SOKOL close to the N. Coast of Yede in Long. 26E sank by torpedo 2 – 200 ton schooners carrying troops, 1 E boat, and 3 small motor caiques.  H.M.S. SPORTSMAN destroyed by gunfire a 100 ton caique at 1200 in position 35-33N, 24-15E and was fired on by heavy C.D. batteries.

H.M. Submarine SICKLE sank 2500 ton M/V at 1645 anchored in Monemvasia Bay.  No counter attacks from two escorts that came out to hunt.

Casualties

H.M. Submarine SIMOON was overdue at Beirut from patrol and was considered lost.  She had sailed from Port Said on the 2nd and to patrol the approaches to the Dardanelles.  It was not known how her loss occurred.

Turkey

H.M. M.L. 1243 arrived at Iskenderon from Beirut for delivery to Turkey.

Arrivals

H.M.S. CEYLON at Port Said on passage from Malta to Eastern Fleet.  H.M.S. LONDON and H.M.S. ULSTER at Alexandria.

November 20th

Arrival of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy K.M.S. 31

13 M/Vs for Alexandria and 18 for Port Said and beyond arrived escorted by H.M.S. CUCKMERE, COLTSFOOT, HONESTY, HYDERABAD, and WHITEHAVEN.

Cyrenaica

H.M.S. HAMBLEDON and BLENCATHRA began an A/S search with air cooperation off the “Hump” at 1630.

Alexandria

Convoy X.T. 9 consisting of 9 M.V.s escorted by H.M.S. BURRA and ROMEO sailed for Tripoli (L).

A new M.L. floating dock arrived from Port Said in tow of H.M.S. BRIGAND.

Aegean

The withdrawal of the Samos garrison consisting of 320 British and 220 Greeks, was completed by caique to Kusadasi, during the night and arrangements made with the Turkish authorities for onward transport overland.

H.M.S. PETARD, and H.H.M.S. THEMOSTOCLES arrived from the South in Alakishli Bay.  F.S. LE FANTASQUE swept as far north as Mykonos Channel.  At 1720 heaving maintained 36 knots for 10 hours, she made rendezvous with LE TERRIBLE and PHOEBE and arrived at Alexandria at 1450.  No shipping was found, but as a diversion for the withdrawal from Samos, the sweep served its purpose.

Safe Conduct

The Swedish relief ship HALLAREN left Piraeus for Venice.

Arrivals

L.C.T. 111 and 153 at Tobruk on passage from Tripoli (L) to Alexandria.

Departures

H.M.S. BANFF, H.M.A.S. GAWLER, and M.M.S. 108 from Aden to Eastern Fleet.

November 21st

Arrival of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy U.G.S. 22

6 M/Vs for Alexandria and 21 for Port Said and beyond arrived escorted by H.M.S. DELPHINIUM, KLO, WOLBOROUGH, H.H.M.S. SAKTOURIS and APOSTOLIS.

Alexandria

H.M.S. RENOWN, escorted by H.M.S. ROCKET, INGLEFIELD, and GRENVILLE arrived from Malta.  Fighter protection was reinforced for the passage of the Cyrenacian “Hump” and limited night fighter protection provided in view of increased threat to convoys since the German Air Force in Greece reinforced for the Aegean operations, had now few targets in that area.

H.M.S. RENOWN had on board the delegates for SEXTANT.

Aegean

All M.T.B.s and M.G.B.s that had been covering the withdrawal from Samos arrived back at Casteloriso.

Further evacuation from Leros and Lipsos were made by H.S.L.’s base on Budrum.

Submarines

H.M. Submarine TORBAY sank a 50 ton northbound caique 325 degrees Psathura 10 miles by gunfire at 1015.

Arrivals

H.M.S. HONESTY at Port Said on passage to Eastern Fleet with onward section of K.M.S. 31.

Departures

H.M. Submarine RORQUAL from Beirut to United Kingdom.

H.M.S. BRUISER from Aden to Bombay.

November 22nd

Alexandria

The Italian destroyers DA RECCO and GRECALE, arrived escorting the depot ship MOCENIGO and tanker DAFILA.    The MOCENIGO was required for service with the Italian submarines at Haifa.

MOCENIGO left Taranto towing a target for use in the Levant, but it broke adrift between Malta and Benghazi, in which area it remains a danger to navigation.

Submarines

O.R.P. SOKOL arrived at Beirut from patrol in the Aegean in which she sunk one A/S schooner 140 tons – off Amorgos, 1 small caique off Santorin, 2 schooners 200 tons and 1 E Boat off Sitia Bay.

H.M. Submarine TORBAY torpedoed and sank 300 feet floating dock towed and escorted northbound 11 miles north of Cape Sepia (Magnesia).  There was no counterattack.

November 23rd

Departure of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy M.K.S. 32

7 M.V.s from Port Said and 9 from Alexandria sailed escorted by CUCKMERE, HYDERABAD, ANEMONE, and COLTSFOOT.

Cyrenaica

H.M.S. HAMBLEDON and BLENCATHRA discontinued the A/S search off the “Hump” and covered convoy X.T. 9.

Alexandria

Convoy T.X. 4 arrived consisting of 6 M.V.s escorted by CUCKMERE and ISLAY.

Aegean

M.L.s 456 and 1004 arrived at Casteloriso from Budrum.  H.M.S. PHOEBE left Alexandria at 1000 with F.S. LE FANTASQUE and LE TERRIBLE and escorted them northwards until after dark when the French ships proceeded to carry out a sweep against the Crete Rhodes shipping.

Departures

H.M.S. RENOWN from Alexandria to U.K. escorted by H.M.S. ROCKET, ULSTER, GRENVILLE, and ECHO.

H.M. Submarine SERAPH from Beirut to the United Kingdom.

November 24th

Cyrenaica

Aircraft reported an A.S.V. contact possibly a submarine in position 32-52N, 24-30E at 1849.

Aegean

F.S. LA FANTASQUE and LE TERRIBLE carried out an anti shipping sweep round Scarpanto Island and Alimnia, then westward to the Gulf of Mirabella.  Nothing sighted.  H.M.S. PHOEBE made rendezvous at 0715 and the force returned to Alexandria.

The Italian submarine ATROPO arrived at Casteloriso with stores from Haifa.

Departures

H.M.S. CEYLON from Aden to Eastern Fleet.

November 25th

Cyrenaica

H.M.S. HAMBLEDON and BLENCATHRA based temporarily on Benghazi as A/S Striking Force took over the combined A/S search off the “Hump.”

Submarines

H.M. Submarine SICKLE sank two 50 ton caiques west of Thermia by gunfire.

Arrivals

H.M.S. MAIDSTONE, escorted by H.M.S. DEPTFORD, FOWEY, JOHAN MAURITS, and CAMPION, at Alexandria for refit before sailing to the Eastern Fleet.  She had been the base ship for the 8th Submarine Flotilla at Algiers.

November 26th

Cyrenaica

H.M.S. HAMBLEDON and BLENCATHRA left the A/S search on relief by KRAKOWIAK and THEMISTOCLES.

Submarines

Patrols in the Aegean were adjusted to cover the routes (a) Piraeus - Rhodes, (b) Trikiri Salonika- Dardanelles, (c) Piraeus – Crete.

To evade the risk of interception of our destroyer sweeps, the enemy was using caiques to ferry supplies to Rhodes from Candia.

Departures

H.M.A.S. MARYBOROUGH, and the 12th L.S.I. (L) Flotilla from Aden to Eastern Fleet.

H.M.S. SHAKESPEARE from Beirut to the United Kingdom.

November 27th

Levant

The Greek minesweeping schooner CHRISTOS was paid off at Haifa.

Submarines

H.M. Submarine TORBAY torpedoed and sank a 3000 ton westbound escorted M/V 3 miles off Karlovassi Samos.  Advanced intelligence was provided by a reconnaissance aircraft which sighted the M.V. sinking in this area, to which TORBAY was known to have lately shifted her patrol.

There was moderate counter attack.

Departures

FALK from Port Said with G.U.S. 23 to form part of Malta local escort force.

November 28th

Departure of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy G.U.S. 23

13 M.V.s from Port Said and 11 from Alexandria sailed escorted by H.M.S. DELPHINIUM, H.H.M.S. APOSTOLIS and SAKTOURIS, and H.M.S. FALK.

Torpedoing of H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM

H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM on passage unescorted from Gibraltar to Alexandria for onward routing to the Eastern Fleet was torpedoed forward by a U boat in position 33-05N, 21-43E at 1222B off the Cyrenaican “Hump”.  She proceeded at 15 knots later reducing to 10.

An A/S Striking Force of 2 Hunts had been maintained in this area since the 21st and they (H.H.M.S. THEMISTOCLES and O.R.P. KRAKOWIAK) joined BIRMINGHAM.

A German U boat had been fixed by D/F within the area at 0244 and H.M.s. DART escorting U.G.S. 23, reported a periscope sighted in position 32-56N, 22-33E at 1345, but no A/S contact was gained.

On relief by H.M.S. FAULKNOR, H.H.M.S. THEMISTOCLES and O.R.P KRAKOWIAK proceeded to carry out a combined A/S search with aircraft cooperation.  They were joined by H.M.S. EXMOOR and ALDENHAM from Alexandria.

Aegean

H.M.S. JERVIS, PATHFINDER, PENN, and FURY and an assortment of small craft, withdrew the bulk of the garrison from Casteloriso to Famagusta sailing at 0330.

Remainder together with all guns and transport were embarked in F.S. LA MOQUESE and COMMANDANT DUBOC, H.H.M.S. KING GEORGE II, L.C.T.s 108 and 104, M.F.V. 109, and L.C.M.s 643, 924, and 927, and Italian F Flight MZ 749 (Codeword ANONYMOUS) sailing after dark for Famagusta.

A small military party was left in the island, and a reduced coastal forces base in Turkish waters in the vicinity.

Aden

H.M.S. BIGLIERE completed a skimming of the area in which S.S. SAMBO had been sunk, it was thought, by a mine that had drifted from the Perim Field; no mines were found.

Departures

H.M.S. DIDO from Alexandria to Malta on conclusion of 7 week refit.

H.M.S. FAULKNOR (8th Destroyer Flotilla) from Alexandria to Malta.

H.M.S. ROMNEY from Tobruk to join G.U.S. 23 and continue to Gibraltar.  The 14th Minesweeping Flotilla were due to be relieved by the 19th and to return home.

Italian submarine ATROPO from Haifa to Taranto there being no longer any requirement for store carrying submarines in the Levant.

November 29th

Attack on Convoy K.M.F. 26

O.R.P. SLAZAK (S.O.) escort reported one shadower at 0846 and H.M.S. ATHERSTONE escorting 1 M.V. overtaking 20 miles astern, reported one shadower at 0924.  A dusk attack was foreseen and the fighter escort increased to 12.  When it materialized at 1710, the fighters broke up a force of 15 J.U. 88s and claimed 2 shot down, 1 probable, and 1 damaged.  The S.S. RANCHI suffered superficial damage from a near miss and had a man killed and 3 wounded, no other damaged to the convoy.  O.R.P. KRAKOWIAK and H.H.M.S. THEMISTOCLES joined H.M.S. ATHERSTONE before sunset, but no attack developed.

Arrival of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy K.M.S. 32

9 M.V.s for Alexandria and 16 for Port Said and beyond arrived escorted by H.M.S. USK, H.N.M.S. SOEMBA, H.M.S.A.S. SOUTHERN SEAS and SOUTHERN MAID.

H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM joined convoy U.G.S. 23 at midnight and proceeded in company.  H.M.S. FAULKNOR was detached to Malta.  H.M.T. BRIGAND and ST MONANCE were sent from Alexandria but not required for towing as BIRMINGHAM made good the convoy speed and reported herself maneuverable.

Alexandria

Captain Superintendent, Alexandria, reported that ROCKWOOD’s main machinery was damaged beyond the resources of Alexandria to effect complete repairs.  Temporary repairs were in hand to enable the engine to be used at reduced power.  ROCKWOOD had been hit by an unexploded glider bomb on the 11th in the gearing room.

Aegean

It was reported from Smyrna that the Italian C. of S. Samos requested that 2000 Italians still resisting in Samos should be evacuated and the Greek Leader of the Antartes also wished to evacuate 200 or 300 of his men.  Caiques were put at their disposal.

Departures

H.M.S. HONESTY from Aden to the Eastern Fleet

Aden

The S.S. ATHINA LIVANOS was torpedoed in position 12-20N, 44-00E at 1630 and a submarine’s periscope was seen.  25 survivors were picked up.

This reopened the question of how the S.S. SAMBO was sunk on the 10th.  A submarine had been ruled out, but that decision was now reconsidered.  No plume of water had been seen in her case and this disposed of mine or contact torpedo.  It is known that the Japanese do not use contact torpedoes and spontaneous combustion of nitrates was considered to be the answer.

November 30th

Arrival of Through Mediterranean Slow Convoy U.G.S. 23

2 M.V.s for Alexandria and 20 for Port Said and beyond arrived escorted by H.M.S. DART, GLOXINIA, RYE, PROTEA, and SOUTHERN ISLES.

Alexandria

H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM entered harbour, she was drawing 33 ft forward and 16 ft aft, being flooded as far as No. 56 bulkhead.  Casualties were 29 killed and 28 wounded.  She was carrying a large consignment of mail as well as bullion for the Bank of Egypt all of which was undamaged.

The officer of Captain (F) in H.M.S. WOOLWICH was closed for transfer to H.M.S. BLENHEIM where it opened on December 2nd.

Cyrenaica

The schooner MY QUEEN foundered off Apollonia.  The crew was reported safe.

Arrivals

H.M.S. BLENHEIM with U.G.S. 23.  She was to relieve H.M.S. WOOLWICH as the depot ship for destroyers and escort vessels on the departure of the latter for Trincomalee.

Dutch submarine K 15 with K.M.S. 32 at Port Said on passage to Eastern Fleet.

Policy

The ships available for through Mediterranean escort, lately increased by the arrival of several Frigates and new corvettes were reallocated and divided among seven groups instead of six as before.  The convoy speed of advance was being reduced from 8 to 7 knots and an additional group was necessary for allowing a proper lie over in the Levant.  All the ships had their accounts carried in H.M.S. NILE and Captain (F) Levant, was their administrative authority.

The groups were constituted as follows:

36th: JONQUIL, PENSTEMON, USK, VETCH, PROTEA, SOUTHERN ISLES

37th: CAMPION, DEPTFORD, FOWER (n.b., presume FOWEY), FRISO, JOHAN MAURITS

46th: ANEMONE, COLTSFOOT, CONVOLVULUS, CUCKMERE, HYDERABAD

47th: DELPHINIUM, SAKTOURIS, APOSTOLIS, INVER, SOUTHERN SEAS.  One of 19th Minesweeping Flotilla

48th: BARLE, BERGAMOT, BRYONY, LA MALOUINE, MYOSOTIS

49th: GLOXINIA, PRIMULA, SOUTHERN MAID, WOLBOROUGH.  One of 19th Minesweeping Flotilla

50th: STORK, AIRE, ALISMA, SAXIFRAGE, SPIRAEA.

Safe Conduct

The Swedish relief ships AKKA and YARRAWONGA left Piraeus for Gibraltar by the standard route and the MONGABARRA passed longitude 20 degrees east on passage from Piraeus from Gibraltar.

Axis Losses for November

Sunk  5 ships of 10, 500 tons

19 Auxiliary schooners and caiques

1 300 ft floating dock

 

PART II

APPRECIATION OF EVENTS FOR NOVEMBER 1943

General

The assault on Leros began at 0700 on the 12th and continued until 1800 on the 16th when our garrison surrendered, being not so much out fought, as exhausted by unceasing air bombardment.  Reinforcements were taken to the island during the assault and a small proportion of our garrison was later evacuated.

2.  Withdrawal from Samos was successfully carried out during the night of November 20th/21st and the bulk of the garrison from Casteloriso was withdrawn on the 28th.  There was no enemy interference in either case.

3.  H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM was torpedoed by a U boat off the Cyrenaican “Hump” but reached Alexandria under her own power.

Cyrenaica

4.  U boats were known to be in the vicinity of the “Hump” during the month but no attacks were made until H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM was torpedoed at 1222 on 28th November while proceeding unescorted from Malta.

She was hit forward and several compartments were flooded, but she reported no damage to main machinery and continued at 15 knots, later reducing to 10.

H.H.M.S. THEMISTOCLES and KRAKOWIAK who were carrying out an A/S sweep were ordered to escort H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM.  They were sent back when she joined convoy U.G.S. 23 at midnight, but in the interval, the U boat had cleared the area and a combined air and A/S search by the Hunts, later joined by H.M.S. FAULKNOR, EXMOOR, and ALDENHAM, was unsuccessful.

5.  Early warning was received of impending air attack on convoy K.M.F. 26 on the 29th when part of the convoy and 1 joiner astern were shadowed from 0900.  Enough fighters were up at dusk to break up the attack when it materialized at 1710 with the result that only 1 ship in the convoy suffered superficial damage and 2 out of the attacking force of 15 J.U.88s were shot down.  No attack was made on the merchant ship astern which like the convoy had been joined by 2 Hunts before dark.

Alexandria

6.  To avoid the danger of overcrowding the harbour with merchant shipping during the winter, merchant ships from ports east of the Delta joining west bound convoys were sailed in a separate section that joined the Alexandria section off Shoulder Buoy.  A limit on the number of ships in the port had been fixed at 80 for winter and every effort was made to observe it.

7.  H.M.S. AURORA having completed temporary repairs of bomb damage sustained on 30th October sailed for permanent repairs at Taranto on the 12th, and the Broad Pendant of the 12th Cruiser Squadron transferred to H.M.S. DIDO.   H.M.S. DIDO herself was still in hand for repairs of collision damage and was sailed to join the Mediterranean Station on the 28th.

8.  On the 3rd, H.M. hospital ship TAIREA and H.M. Transport CUBA arrived at Alexandria with a mixed party numbering approximately 1040 officers and men who had been repatriated from Germany, in exchange for a similar number of German prisoners held in the Middle East.  The port of exchange was Barcelona.  The majority were Australians and New Zealanders, many of whom had been captured in Crete and Greece.

9.  H.M.S. LONDON arrived at Alexandria on the 19th and H.M.S. RENOWN on the 21st with delegates to the conference between Great Britain, U.S.A. , and China that was held in Cairo.  Both the Prime Minister and the First Sea Lord had arrived in H.M.S. RENOWN.

Aegean

10.  The month began with a final effort being made to build up Leros and between October 31st and 7th November, the following were put in by Destroyers, M.L.s, M.T.B.s, M.M.S.s and B.Y.M.S.s:

 

1280 men

180 tons of stores

14 jeeps  - 1 trailer

 

And by submarine:

33 tons of stores.

Phase 3 – From 5th to 16th  - Invasion of Leros

11.  The enemy was known to have a fleet of invasion craft assembled in the Piraeus area and to have transported “I” boats from the Black Sea to make good his losses in F Lighters.  Merchant vessels were loading in the Piraeus, which probably indicated a follow up convoy and his preparations were thought to be near completion.  From the 5th – 10th there was a movement of landing craft to the eastward from Levrion, and it reached Naxos – Paros on the 6th.  So far, it had suffered no losses on account of the heavy air umbrella that the enemy put up during the day, but on setting out from Amorgos it came within reach of our surface forces.  Information about its departure from Paros at 2230 was passed to H.M.S. PENN and PATHFINDER who were sweeping in that direction, but they swept to the south of Paros and Naxos without finding any landing craft.  The enemy’s reconnaissance give him early warning of their movements and the convoy escaped out of range to the northwest.  H.M.S. PENN and PATHFINDER returned to Turkish waters, having sunk a caique (probably a naval auxiliary) south of Paros.

12.  H.M.S. FURY, EXMOOR, and BLENCATHRA made an exhaustive search of the coast of Amorgos on the night 8th/9th without success and the following night, H.M.S. PETARD and ROCKWOOD and O.R.P. KRAKOWIAK examined likely anchorages in Lovitha and Kinaros with no better results.  On the 10th the invasion fleet reach Kos and Kalymnos in two groups, via Levitha and Stampalia.

13.  The situation was now that the enemy had brought his invasion within striking distance of its objective, despite air attack by day and destroyer sweeps by night.    His heavy air umbrella was proof against the former, whilst at night he was able to deploy his craft round the island bays, and camouflage them to view from seaward, at the same time subjecting our surface forces to heavy and increasingly accurate air attack.  It was expected that he would need 24 hours to reorganize and on the night of 10th/11th 1500 rounds of 4” were fired into Port Kalymnos by H.M.S. PETARD, ROCKWOOD, and O.R.P. KRAKOWIAK.  A merchant vessel alongside was set on fire and subsequently capsized, but the damage to landing craft was not known.  Simultaneously Kos harbour was bombarded by H.M.S. FAULKNOR and 2 hunts, but no ships were seen and decisive damage could not be claimed.  H.M.S. ROCKWOOD was damaged by an unexploded glider bomb while retiring, but H.M.S. PETARD took her in tow and by a feat of seamanship brought her to Losta Bay, to which H.M.S. FAULKNOR’s force also proceeded.

14.  (n.b. page chopped at top)

 (1). The Army considered that they could beat off the first assault if following landing craft were sunk.

 (2).  We were still able to operate by night from the sanctuary of Turkish waters.

15.  On the night of 11th/12th H.M.S. FAULKNOR’s force was moved further north.  Early in the morning, M.T.B.s and M.L.s from Leros sighted two enemy destroyers which were taken to be our own, and a merchant vessel, which was not seen again.  M.L. 359 later engaged the two destroyers and had to retire.  Under this cover and screened by a minefields, the invasion craft from Kalymnos reached Leros at 0700, when it was too late for H.M.S. FAULKNOR’s force to operate.  The landing craft were not detected from the coast until too late for the Italian Coastal Defence guns, which could not then depress sufficiently to open fire, and they gained a foothold on the east coast of the island for the loss of only 2 landing craft.

The enemy’s intention was to cut across the “neck” between Alinda and Gurna Bays and a paratroop landing on the 12th gave him temporary control of the centre.  Here he was contained and even pushed back and there was hope that his beach heads on the east side might be overrun if no reinforcements got through.  This they did in small quantities on the night of 12/13th, in spite of a close search by H.M.S. FAULKNOR, BEAUFORT, and H.H.M.S. PINDOS, who also bombarded enemy positions on Mount Clidi.  A gale blew up during the day and hampered further enemy reinforcements so that a position on shore became more hopeful, but there was now a clear need to reinforcements for our own garrison which was nearing the end of its own endurance on account of continued bombing.  The enemy’s command of the air also made sweeps by our surface forces both trying and hazardous during the moonlight periods, and we lost H.M.S. DULVERTON on the 13th, sunk by a glider bomb at 0330 to the eastward of Kos whilst proceeding north.  M.M.S. 103 and 3 M.L.s loaded fresh troops at Samos, but were weather bound during the 14th and on the night of 14th/15th, H.M.S. ECHO and BELVOIR loaded troops at Samos, but only the contingent on board ECHO, who was able to arrive during dark hours that night owing to her greater speed, reached Portolago.

Three destroyers bombarded Alinda Bay but found little shipping there, but ECHO and 3 M.T.B.s sank a loaded F lighter and 2 loaded barges between them off Alinda Bay just before dawn.  This was the most successful night at sea during the invasion.  The following night, it was decided to delay destroyer sweeps until landing craft from Kalymnos were well on their way and committed to the passage, but a dawn sweep by H.M.S. PENN and ALDENHAM was disappointing.  Arrangements were already in hand to transfer the Greek Sacred Band from Samos on the night 16th/17th, but over 4 days of continuous bombing had reduced the endurance of the garrison and Leros surrendered at 1630, and Greek Sacred Band had to be disembarked from H.M.S. EXMOOR and O.R.P. KRAKOWIAK in which whom they were waiting to sail.  It is some consolation that H.M.S. ROCKWOOD was towed clear of the Aegean that night by H.M.S. BLENCATHRA.

Phase 4 - Withdrawal

16.  The plans made in mid October to have a number of caiques available under the orders of the Senior British Naval Officer Aegean in case of possible withdrawal from Leros, could not be carried out at such brief notice, but some evacuations were carried out by naval craft and a number of R.A.F. High Speed Launches while S.B.S. patrols were landed to round up troops still at liberty.

17.  After the fall of Leros, our position in Samos became untenable.  The Allied forces consisted of 220 British troops and 360 of the Greek Sacred Band and their evacuation was successfully carried out of caiques on the night of 19th/20th; in addition, 6300 Italian troops, Greek Guerillas, and civilians were evacuated.  The majority of the troops, regardless of their nationality were sent by train to Syria. , other evacuees came down in a small stream of small coastal craft, including Italian F lights, L.C.M.s, L.C.T.s, and M.M.S.s and an Italian tug all of which had passed Casteloriso by the end of the month.

18.  Following our withdrawal from the Aegean it was decided to hold Casteloriso only as an outpost that could be readily evacuated in the event of heavy attack.  Accordingly on the night of 27th/28th, surplus men, guns, and equipment were withdrawn to the Levant by destroyers and L.C.T.s without incident.  An advanced fuelling and supply base for coastal craft for coastal craft remained at Port Vathi on the Turkish Coast.

Submarines

19.  Like other forces operating in the Aegean during this period, submarines were driven hard.  Their patrols were often carried out in confined waters and close to suspected minefields, and were prolonged to meet special emergencies.  H.M.S. TORBAY sank a floating dock in this Northern Aegean on the 22nd, and a 3000 ton merchant vessel off Karlovassi, Samos, on the 27th.  There were numerous successes against caiques.  The task of the supply submarines even through they were not exposed to the same scale of enemy air and surface activity, was not easy on account of the dislocated working of the ports in Leros.

20.  Two sweeps into the Aegean by the French destroyers LA FANTASQUE and LE TERRIBLE continued the offensive against enemy communications, the first being also a diversion to cover the evacuation from Samos.  LE FANTASQUE reached Mykonos but in neither this nor a subsequent sweep of the Rhodes Scarpanto area on the night of 24th/25th was any shipping sighted.

Levant

21.  The only evidence of U boat activity in this area came from the survivors of the Egyptian schooner ABIS who were picked up by H.M.S. ROMNEY on the 17th.  Their story was that they had abandoned their schooner at 0500 the previous day when a long black object fired two shots into her, but there was no other evidence to corroborate the presence of a submarine.

22.  The ports of Haifa and Beirut continued to work to capacity and a steady stream of small craft from the Aegean continued to arrive with escapees.

Limasol, Cyprus, was used a fuelling base for destroyers engaged on Aegean operations.

The rioting that broke out amongst the Lebanese at Beirut on the 13th was provoked by the summary arrest of the popular leaders by the French Authorities and did down when these men were released.  There was some delay to repairs of submarine but little other effect on work in the dockyard.

Aden

23.  When the S.S. SAMBO was sunk in the Gulf of Aden on the 10th she was at first thought to have been mined and the Bab el Mandib field was skimmed by BIGLIERI though no mines were found.  It was considered (a) by Commodore Aden, that the explosion was too large for sabotage and (b) by the Commander in Chief, Levant, that it could not have been a contact torpedo or mine as no column of water was reported.

Mines in the Perim field are of the contact type while the Japanese were not known to be using non contact torpedoes.  Spontaneous combustion of her nitrate cargo was advanced as the most probable cause.

24.  Plans for a Gunnery School were put in hand at Aden to serve the rapidly growing escort force based there.

25. 

Arrivals

H.M.S. RENOWN, LONDON, CEYLON, BIRMINGHAM

ULSTER, ROCKET, INGLEFIELD, GRENVILLE

MAIDSTONE

BANFF

SICKLE

F.S. LE FANTASQUE, LE TERRIBLE

THRUSTER

B.Y.M.S. 186, 240, 330

M.L. 459 (Commissioned at Cairo)

L.C.T. 111, 153

Italian F lighters MZ 722, MZ 729

Departures

H.M.S. RENOWN, CEYLON, DIDO

ULSTER, ROCKET, GRENVILLE, ECHO, FAULKNOR

MARYBOROUGH, HONESTY, DABCHICK, GAWLER

BANFF, BAGSHOT

FAREHAM, ROMNEY

RORQUAL, TRIDENT

VECLITE, ARTIGLIERE, ATROPO (Italian)

GLENGYLE, BRUISER, ACHELOUS

L.S.T.s (2) 79, 214, 215, 237, 239, and U.S. L.S.T.s 17, 21, 25, 72, 73, 175, 208, 209, 261, 176.

EMPIRE GNOME

M.M.S. 108

H.D.M.L. 1243

CHRISTOS, Hoppers 23, 42, 44 (paid off).  (n.b. Hopper identified as 33 vice 23 in chronology)

Casualties

DULVERTON, SIMOON, M.L. 358, B.Y.M.S. 72, Tug C.T. 7 (Red Ensign)

 

 

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