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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2006


HMS TETRARCH - T-class Submarine

HM S/M Torbay, sister-boat (Navy Photos, click to enlarge)

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Celeribus palma: 'Reward to the swift'


This name was first used for a destroyer built in 1917 and sold in 1934 and first used for a submarine when given on launch in November 1939. Allocated to the 5th Submarine Flotilla she arrived at Portsmouth for work-up on completion of Acceptance Trials. Deployed with the Home Fleet she took part in the naval operations off Norway in April 1940 (Operation WILFRED) and joined the 2nd Submarine Flotilla based at Rosyth in May.


Her primary duties were for patrol off Norway to intercept coastal shipping and German naval units on passage in the North Sea. During patrol in June she sank tanker SAMLAND off Norway and later that year was nominated to join the 10th Submarine Flotilla in Malta. During passage she carried out a patrol in the Bay of Biscay to intercept U-Boats on from French bases and began operational patrols based in Malta during October 1940. Whilst on patrol in the Gulf of Sirte she sank a supply ship and during November carried out patrols in the Adriatic.


Lieut Cdr R G Mills who had been in command since commissioning was relieved by Lieut. Cdr R M T Peacock in January 1941 and she was then deployed in the Aegean for interception of supply ships on passage to and from North African ports. In April that year she sank the tanker PERSSIANO off Benghazi and the next month the mercantile GIOVINEZZA in the same area. Transferred to Alexandria in June 1941 she carried out patrols in the Dardanelles before returning to patrols off the North African coast where she sank two more supply ships in the Gulf of Sirte. The commanding officer changed again in July and her successes continued with the sinking of two more ships during September and early October before being withdrawn from operations for refit in the USA after adjusting complement in UK. This submarine took passage from Alexandria on 17th October carrying stores, fuel and personnel to deliver in Malta before leaving the Mediterranean for UK. Sailing from Malta on 26th she was ordered to carry out a 24 hour patrol of Cavoli Island before taking passage to Gibraltar. Although she made contact with HM Submarine P34 on 27th October 1941 she failed to arrive in Gibraltar by the scheduled date of 2nd November. It is presumed that she struck a mine in a newly laid field off Grantola, Sicily. The Commanding Officer was Lieut. Cdr G Greenway RN.


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