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SERVICE HISTORIES of ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS in WORLD WAR 2 by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2006


HMS URSULA, later Russian V.4 - U-class Submarine

HM S/M Unity (Navy Photos/Mark Teadham, click to enlarge)

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B a t t l e    H o n o u r s


M o t t o

'Bear up'


Ordered from Vickers Armstrong at Barrow in Furness on 15th November 1936 this boat was laid down on 19th February 1939. She was launched on 16th February 1938 and was the first submarine to bear the name, introduced for a destroyer in 1917 and sold in 1929 for scrapping. Build was completed on 20th December that year.


After acceptance she was deployed in Home waters and after the outbreak of was in September 1939 carried out patrols in North Sea. In the first half of September she encountered the German submarine U35 which was attempting to pass through the English Channel for attacks on Atlantic shipping. A salvo of five torpedoes was fired but all missed. As a result U35 was forced to divert and take passage through Faeroes - Iceland gap. North Sea duties continued for the rest of this year and in December she carried out attacks on German warships including the German cruisers LEIPZIG and its escort. One of these identified as escort vessel F.9 was sunk by a weapon intended to hit the cruiser. This submarine remained in Home waters during early 1940 and continued patrol duties in the North Sea and off the coast of Norway. In March she sank the mercantile HEDDERNHEIM off the coast of Denmark and supported the landing operations in Norway after the German invasion for defence of warships and troops ships against U-Boat attacks. Patrol and support deployment continued until the evacuation of allied troops in May. At the end of 1940 after further patrol duties in Home waters she was transferred to join the 10th Submarine Flotilla in Malta and took passage to begin operations.


On an early patrol from Malta in March 1941 she sank a supply ship off Libya, Interception patrols against enemy shipping continued throughout the year and included patrol with for an attack on a military convoy in the eastern Mediterranean with HM Submarine UPHOLDER in September. This convoy comprised several troopships but the attacks failed, although later two large liners were sunk by HM Submarine UPHOLDER. She then provided cover for passage of the HALBERD Malta relief convoy by a patrol off Messina to intercept any Italian warships attempting to attack this convoy. A supply ship was sunk in an October patrol off Lampedusa. During 1942 this submarine was released from service in the Mediterranean and returned to UK for refit before being deployed in Home waters. During Jul she carried out a patrol in Arctic waters to provide anti­submarine protection against attacks on the ill-fated Russian convoy PQ17 and returning QP13. She returned to the Mediterranean in October 1942 and took part in interception patrols off ran during the allied landings (Operation TORCH). In a subsequent patrol the next month she sank two supply ships and whilst attacking this convoy was rammed by one of the mercantiles under escort. The damage sustained made necessary a return to home waters and she was selected for transfer to the Soviet Navy.


Renamed V4 (B4 in Russian) she joined the Northern Fleet in 1944 and was returned to the RN with two other submarines of this Class in 1949. Placed on the Disposal List she was sold for breaking-up in December that year and arrived at Granton in May 1950. The Commanding Officer during one patrol in the Mediterranean was Lieutenant I McGeoch (later Vice Admiral Sir Ian, KCB, DSO, DSC RN.) 


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