Naval History Homepage and Site Search




 September - December 1944

HMCS Snowberry, corvette (CyberHeritage, click to enlarge)

on to January-April 1945


Philippines Area, Scene of Battles of Leyte Gulf (see October 1944)





Canada - At the second Quebec Conference, Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt reviewed the progress of the war. They agreed the British Pacific Fleet would serve under American Command.

Atomic Bomb - Far across North America in the southwest, the massive atomic bomb programme approached its climax at Los Alamos, New Mexico. Although intelligence reports suggested Germany had made little progress with nuclear research, the by now mainly American work continued and a B-29 Flying Superfortress bomber unit was formed to train for the dropping of this awesome and untried weapon.

Russian Convoys - Return Russian convoy RA59A (nine ships) was off northwest Norway when "U-394" was damaged by Swordfish of 825 Squadron and sunk on the 2nd by destroyers "Keppel" and "Whitehall" and sloops "Mermaid" and "Peacock". The convoy arrived safely at Loch Ewe on the 6th. Nine days later the next Russian-bound convoy, JW60 set out with 30 merchantmen. They too arrived at their destination without loss before the month was out. The next convoy returning from Russia, RA60 left Kola on the 28th with 30 ships, but by the time it arrived at Loch Ewe in early October had lost two merchantmen to U-boat attack. While still to the northwest of Norway on the 30th, Swordfish of 813 Squadron from escort carrier Campania sank "U-921".

Monthly Loss Summary: 3 British, Allied and neutral ships of 17,000 tons in the Atlantic from all causes, 1 US destroyer in a hurricane off Bahamas; 7 U-boats including 1 cause unknown and 1 mined off Iceland, 1 by RAF off the Azores, 1 by US Navy off Cape Verde Islands, 1 by US aircraft in South Atlantic  


Western Front - US Army divisions now exceeded British and Commonwealth divisions in the European Theatres for the first time. Reflecting this, on the 1st, Gen Eisenhower assumed direct command of all Allied ground forces and by mid-month had taken under his control the US and French forces advancing from the south of France. From north to south the Allied Armies and areas of operation were structured thus:

British 21st Army Group
(Gen Montgomery)
Canadian First Army Channel coast of France and into Belgium and southern Holland.
  British Second Army Through central Belgium and into southern Holland and the German border opposite the Ruhr.
US 12th Army Group
(Gen Bradley)
US First Army Through southern Belgium and Luxembourg towards Germany south of the Ruhr
  US Third Army Through central and eastern France towards the German border opposite the Saar
US Sixth Army Group
(Gen Devers)
US Seventh Army/French First Army From central France towards the east and the German border south of the Saar.

On the Channel coast, the Canadians captured Dieppe on the 1st, Boulogne on the 22nd and Calais on the 30th. By the 12th, British units of Canadian First Army had taken Le Havre, but Dunkirk held out until the end of the war. Further east, British Second Army crossed the Belgian border on the 2nd, liberated Brussels next day and Antwerp the day after. Unfortunately the vital port could not be used until the Germans were cleared from the Scheldt approaches. The Dutch border was reached on the 11th and shortly after, Operation 'Market Garden' - "The Bridge Too Far" - was launched, aimed at getting across the Rhine in Holland and around the northern end of the Siegfried Line. On the 17th, US 101st Airborne Division landed around Eindhoven, US 82nd Airborne near Nijmegen to take the bridges over the Rivers Maas/Meuse and Waal/Rhine, and the British 1st Airborne at Arnhem to capture the Lower Rhine bridge. As the drops took place, British Second Army thrust forward. The entire operation almost succeeded, but the British paratroops, in spite of great gallantry could not capture the bridge, and Second Army was unable to reach them. The survivors were evacuated across the Lower Rhine on the night of the 25th/26th. On the rest of the Allied front, the US Army Groups to the south pushed on and by mid-month units of First Army had entered Luxembourg and crossed the border of Germany near Aachen. Allied supplies were now passing through the captured Channel ports in sufficient quantities to dispense with over-the-beach delivery. 'Juno' was the last to close on the 7th. 'Mulberry' Harbour continued in operation until December.

U-boat Inshore Campaign - With the start of the British Isles Inshore Campaign, U-boats sunk off Norway and in the Western Approaches as well as the Bay of Biscay are included in the European theatre. The same applies to British, Commonwealth and German surface warships lost. 1st - On passage into the Bristol Channel as part of the Inshore Campaign, "U-247" was sunk close to Lands End by patrolling Canadian frigates "St John" and "Swansea" of the 9th EG. On the same day, "U-482" attacked Caribbean/UK tanker convoy CU36 off the northwest Irish coast and sank "HURST CASTLE" of the British B1 group with an acoustic torpedo. 9th - Northwest of Ireland, "U-743" was sunk near UK/North America convoy ONF252 by escorting frigate "Helmsdale" and corvette "Portchester Castle". Off the south Hebrides "U-484" went down to attacks by Canadian frigate "Dunver" and corvette "Hespeler" of C5 group. Later in the month, RAF aircraft sank two more U-boats in the Northern Transit Area.

Air War - Although Allied bombers continued to bomb V-1 installations along the Channel coast of France, it was only when Canadian First Army overran the sites that London and the southeast of England saw the last one land. By then nearly 10,000 launchings of the sub-sonic pilotless "cruise missile" had inflicted 25,000 dead and wounded civilian casualties. Then on the 8th the first supersonic V-2 rocket hit London in a deadly campaign that lasted for over six months, and against which there was no defence. In October, with the Allied capture of Antwerp, the Germans started an equally heavy series of attacks with both V-1s and V-2s against the port, right through until April 1945.

15th - Now it was RAF Bomber Command's turn to hit at battleship "Tirpitz" in Altenfiord in the far north of Norway. Flying in difficult conditions from Russian bases near Archangel, the Lancasters managed to get one hit in spite of the usual smokescreens. Partly because of the damage, the battleship was moved south to Tromso.

27th - Ex-US destroyer "ROCKINGHAM" was the last of her class to be lost while flying the White Ensign, when she hit a mine off Aberdeen and went down in the North Sea. At the time she was acting as a target ship for aircraft training.

Eastern Front - In the far north Finland agreed to a cease-fire on the 4th and six days later in Moscow signed an armistice with Russia, followed by one with the Allies. By mid-month the Finns were effectively at war with Germany although the formal declaration was not made until March. On the Baltic front, major attacks continued into Estonia and Latvia, and the Estonian capital of Tallinn was captured on the 22nd. In the Balkans, Rumania signed an Allied armistice in Moscow on the 12th, by which time its troops were in battle alongside the Russians. The country was almost free of the Germans by the end of the month. From Rumania, the Russians reached the eastern border of Yugoslavia by the 6th and crossed into southern Hungary before September was out. Russia declared war on Bulgaria on the 5th, which in turn declared war against Germany three days later as Russian forces crossed into the country near the Black Sea. They entered Sofia on the 16th and at the end of October an armistice was signed with the Allied powers. By then Bulgarian troops were attacking into Yugoslavia with the Russians.

Monthly Loss Summary: 3 British, Allied and neutral ships of 21,000 tons in UK waters.


South of France, Conclusion - The Allies reached Lyons on the 3rd and by the 12th, French troops advancing from the south had met French units of Gen Patton's US Third Army near Dijon. All the French and US forces that had landed on the French Riviera just a month before were placed under Gen Eisenhower's command.

Italy - To the east, Eighth Army crossed the Gothic Line but came up against increasing German resistance south of Rimini, which was captured by the Canadians on the 21st. However, the Allies still had to cross a whole series of rivers before reaching the River Po, after which they could break out into northern Italy. To the west, Fifth Army was across the River Arno and had broken through its end of the Gothic Line, but was stopped from reaching Bologna by the German defences.

Greece - As the Russians attacked through Rumania and Bulgaria towards Yugoslavia, German troops started to evacuate Crete, southern Greece and the islands of the Aegean. However right up until May, garrisons held out on Rhodes, western Crete and some of the Greek Islands.

End of the Mediterranean U-boats - The last U-boats in the Mediterranean were lost to sea and air attack. On the 19th schnorkel-equipped "U-407" was sunk north of Crete by destroyers "Terpischore", "Troubridge" and the Polish "Garland" of Adm Troubridge's escort carrier and cruiser force. Five days later in raids on Salamis near Athens, USAAF aircraft sank "U-596" and the damaged "U-565". Since June 1944 the other eight surviving U-boats had all been lost at Toulon, either by USAAF raids or scuttled. In three years the comparatively few German U-boats in the Mediterranean had inflicted heavy losses on the Royal Navy including: 1 battleship, 2 aircraft carriers, 4 cruisers and a cruiser-minelayer, 12 destroyers. In return 68 German U-boats had been lost from all causes.

Royal Navy Submarine Operations - These too drew to a close. With so few German targets left, the famous 10th Submarine Flotilla was disbanded although some of the boats continued to work out of Malta in the Aegean. The last British submarine sunk was "Sickle" three months earlier in June, the 45th Royal Navy submarine loss in the Mediterranean. From June 1940 to the end of 1944 the flotillas had accounted for: one million tons of Axis shipping in the Mediterranean theatre, three cruisers, over 30 destroyers, torpedo boats and German and Italian submarines. To these could be added the uncompleted light cruiser "Ulpio Traiano" sunk at Palermo in January 1943 by submarine-launched Chariot human torpedoes.

Monthly Loss Summary: 1 merchant ship of 1,400 tons


23rd - Submarine "Trenchant" on patrol off Penang in the Malacca Strait sank "U-859" arriving from operations in the Indian Ocean. One flotilla of Ceylon-based submarines moved to Western Australia to work in East lndies waters under American Seventh Fleet command.

Halmaheras, Palau Islands & Ulithi, Western Pacific - Gen MacArthur's South West Pacific campaign and the Central Pacific advance of Adm Nimitz were about to meet for the invasion of the Philippines. Before they did, three more landings took place in the month, two on the 15th to secure bases for the coming assaults. To the northwest of New Guinea, Gen MacArthur's men were landed on Morotai in the Halmaheras by Seventh Fleet, which included cruisers Australia and Shropshire of the Royal Australian Navy. Air bases were soon under construction. On the same day, Third Fleet under Adm Halsey set US Marines ashore on the Palau Islands. Although vicious fighting continued for some weeks, the issue was never in doubt as the Japanese were wiped out, pocket by pocket, in the limestone caves. On the 23rd, the unoccupied atoll of Ulithi in the western Carolines was taken as a major fleet anchorage.

Monthly Loss Summary: Indian Ocean only - 1 merchant ships of 5,600 tons




25th - Canadian destroyer "SKEENA" of the 11th EG was driven ashore and wrecked in a gale off Reykjavik, Iceland.

Russian Convoys - Convoy JW61 arrived safely at Kola by the end of the month with all 29 ships. On the 30th October, JW61A with just two liners carrying Russian POWs for repatriation, left Liverpool and reached Kola Inlet by 6th November.

Monthly Loss Summary: For the first time since September 1939, no merchant ships were lost throughout the length and breadth of the North and South Atlantic in October 1944; 1 U-boat in the North Atlantic due to schnorkel defect.


Western Front - Canadian First Army attacked north into Holland and British Second Army east from the Nijmegen area towards the German border. Along the rest of the front, the US Army Groups also headed for the border. At this time US Ninth Army became operational and positioned between British Second and US First Armies. In all sectors the Germans fought stubbornly, but by the 21st had lost their first city with US First Army's capture of Aachen and the breaching of the Siegfried Line. At this time the Canadians' task was the most crucial - to capture the banks of the Scheldt and allow vitally needed supplies to reach Allied forces through Antwerp. By the end of the month they had almost cleared the north and south sides of the estuary ready for the final assault on Walcheren Island.

16th - Outward bound from Norway, "U-1006" was located by the patrolling 6th EG south of the Faeroes and sunk by Canadian frigate "Annan". 27th - During Home Fleet operations against German shipping off Norway, aircraft of 1771 Squadron from fleet carrier Implacable drove "U-1060" ashore near Namsos. She was finished off two days later by aircraft of Nos 311 (Czech) and 502 Squadrons RAF. Earlier in the month four more U-boats were lost in RAF raids on Bergen and another three by accident in Norwegian waters.

Eastern Front - In the Arctic, the Russians started a series of attacks and amphibious hops which by the end of the month had driven the Germans back from the Murmansk area just over the border into Norway. The Russians, now joined by Norwegian troops, came to a halt. Still in the north in the Baltic States, Riga, capital of Latvia was captured on the 15th. By then the Russians had reached the Baltic north of Memel, which eventually fell in January 1945. German troops fell back in to the Courland peninsula of Latvia and held out there until May 1945, but by the end of October most of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were free. Following an abortive uprising in eastern Czechoslovakia in late August, the Russians now attacked over the Carpathian mountains from southern Poland and were across the border in mid-month. In the Balkans, the struggle up through Hungary continued, but the Russians could only reach the outskirts of Budapest in early November. Meanwhile the Eastern Allies were advancing into Yugoslavia and joined forces with units of Marshall Tito's partisan armies on the 4th. Belgrade fell on the 20th.

Monthly Loss Summary: 2 British, Allied and neutral ships of 1,700 tons in UK waters


Italy - Fifth Army's attack in the centre towards Bologna ground to a halt in the wintry mountains, but over the next three months Eighth Army to the east continued to push its way slowly and painfully to the southern edge of Lake Comacchio. Although fighting carried on through to March 1945 the Allies did not start their final offensive of the Italian campaign until the better weather in April. 12th - Returning from bombarding shore targets on the northeast coast of Italy, destroyer "LOYAL" was mined in the Adriatic and not repaired.

Greece - The Germans were now coming to the end of the evacuation of the Aegean area and northern Greece as British, Greek and Allied troops landed in the south and on many of the islands. On the 12th Allied paratroops landed near Athens. Adm Troubridge's force continued to sweep the Aegean for German evacuation shipping as Royal Navy submarines also took a toll. 7th - Destroyers "Termagant" and "Tuscan" sank torpedo boat "TA-37" in the Gulf of Salonika. 19th - Further south it was the turn of "TA-18", lost to the same two British destroyers. Both were ex-Italian vessels.

Monthly Loss Summary: 1 merchant ship of 3,000 tons


Burma - Following the repulse of the Japanese around Kohima and lmphal in the Spring of 1944, 14th Army, now including East African troops had prepared for the main offensive towards Mandalay. There were all the attendant problems of movement and supply in mountainous and monsoon country, and over the major rivers of Burma. Gen Slim started the advance in mid-October and by the middle of November was over the Chindwin River and heading for central Burma and Mandalay, which was taken in March 1945.

Nicobar Islands - Between the 17th and 19th ships and carrier aircraft of the Eastern Fleet attacked the Japanese-held islands to divert attention from the US landings on Leyte in the Philippines.

Leyte, Central Philippines - Because of faster-than-planned progress, the Americans decided to by-pass the southern Philippines island of Mindanao and go straight for Leyte. On the 20th Gen MacArthur returned to the Philippines with four Army divisions. Less than two and a half years earlier, he had made his famous "I will return!" statement. In preparation for the landings, Task Force 38 (Adm Mitscher) of Adm Halsey's Third Fleet (1) with a total of 17 fleet and light carriers had roamed the Philippine Sea, hitting the Ryukyu Islands, Formosa and the Philippines themselves. Now with six modern battleships, it was off Leyte covering the landings, throughout which Adm Halsey reported direct to Adm Nimitz in Pearl Harbor rather than Gen MacArthur, a separation of command which contained the seeds of potential disaster in the coming Battles of Leyte Gulf. Directly under Gen MacArthur, Vice-Adm Kinkaid's Seventh Fleet (2) carried out the invasion and provided close support. Including ships loaned from Third Fleet; he had 18 escort carriers and six old battleships. Australian cruisers Australia and Shropshire with two destroyers were again present. The one Royal Navy representative was fast cruiser-minelayer Ariadne (above, sister ship HMS Manxman - NavyPhotos) serving as an assault troop carrier. The US fleets totalled well over 800 ships. 21st - In one of the first kamikaze or 'heavenly wind' suicide attacks on Allied shipping off the beaches, Australia was hit on the bridge and badly damaged.

Battles of Leyte Gulf
(main map above)

The Japanese had prepared their response to the Leyte landings. A Northern Decoy Force (1) with four carriers and two converted battleship/carriers sailed south from Japan to lure away Adm Halsey's Third Fleet fast carriers (1). From west of the Philippines, a Centre Strike Force (2) of five battleships and 12 cruisers would approach Leyte Gulf from the northwest through the San Bernadino Strait. From the southwest via the Surigao Strait, a smaller Southern Strike Force (3) in two parts with a total of two battleships and four cruisers would also head for Leyte Gulf. The resulting pincer movement should be powerful enough to destroy Gen MacArthur's transports and savage the Seventh Fleet (2) now that Third Fleet's support (1) had been lured away. In fact the Japanese were about to lose three battleships, four carriers (admittedly with few aircraft on board), 10 cruisers and nine destroyers in the battles and actions known collectively as the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The American transports were saved, but warship losses amounted to one light and two escort carriers, three destroyer types and one submarine with other vessels damaged. The Americans could have lost far more. On the 23rd, still to the north of Borneo, Centre Strike Force (2) lost two heavy cruisers and the "Takao" damaged to US submarines, one of which ran aground and had to be destroyed.

Battle of Sibuyan Sea - On the 24th the same Centre Force (2) was heavily attacked by Third Fleet (1) aircraft as it neared the San Bernadino Strait. The giant battleship "MUSASHI" was sunk and the surviving ships appeared to turn back. As this happened, US carrier "PRINCETON" off Luzon in the Philippine Sea was lost to land-based aircraft attack. Now the Northern Decoy Force (1) did its job and Third Fleet (1) hurried north, leaving the San Bernadino Strait unguarded. Adm Kinkaid's Seventh Fleet (2) was left with only escort carriers and old battleships to protect the Leyte Gulf beachhead. Battle of Surigao Strait - As the Southern Strike Force (3) tried to pass through from the southwest on the night of the 24th/25th, it was ambushed by Seventh Fleet's (2) Adm Oldendorf with the six old battleships, cruisers and destroyers, including the Australian Shropshire and destroyer "Arunta". In the last battleship action ever fought, the Japanese battleships "FUSO" and "YAMASHIRO" and a heavy cruiser were sunk. Battle of Samar - Back to the north, early on the 25th, the threat was still great as the main Centre Strike Force (2) with four surviving battleships and eight cruisers sailed through the San Bernadino Strait to attack the escort carriers and accompanying destroyers of Seventh Fleet (2). The escort ships and carrier aircraft fought back bravely, but the heavy ships sank escort carrier "GAMBIER BAY" and three destroyers. Kamikaze aircraft also sank escort carrier "ST LO" and damaged others. In return, three of the Japanese cruisers were lost to escort carrier aircraft attack. Then just when Centre Force could have got in among the transports, it retreated back the way it came. Battle of Cape Engano - While the US escort carriers were struggling to survive, Adm Halsey's Third Fleet (1) aircraft sank all four carriers of the Northern Decoy Force (1) on the 25th - "CHITOSE", "CHIYODA", "ZUIHO" and "ZUIKAKU" - although by this time their sacrifice had served no purpose as Centre Force (2) had failed to press home its attack on Leyte Gulf. As Centre Force retreated, the returning Third Fleet (1) was too late to stop it escaping through the San Bernadino Strait. By any measure the US Navy and its carrier aircraft had struck the Japanese Navy a blow from which it could never recover.

Monthly Loss Summary: Pacific Ocean only - 1 merchant ship of 7,000 tons




United States - Franklin D. Roosevelt was re-elected President for an unprecedented fourth time. Harry S Truman joined him as Vice President.

25th - Canadian corvette "SHAWINIGAN" on passage alone off the southwest tip of Newfoundland was torpedoed and sunk by "U-1228". Schnorkel-equipped boats were still capable of disrupting Allied shipping in distant waters.

Russian Convoys - UK-bound convoys RA61 and RA61A left Kola and passed through a total of 35 ships in the month without loss. Russian-bound JW62 set out at the end of the month and reached Kola in early December with all 30 merchant ships.

Monthly Loss Summary: 3 British, Allied and neutral ships of 8,000 tons in the Atlantic from all causes, 1 corvette


Western Front - Throughout the month Allied forces fought their way slowly towards the German border and the Siegfried Line. On the 28th the first deep-sea merchant ships sailed up the Scheldt and into Antwerp, and from then on the Allied supply position was totally changed for the better. Before that happened, the assault and battle for Walcheren had to be fought.

1st, Assault on Walcheren, Operation 'Infatuate' - The island of Walcheren was heavily defended and largely flooded when the battle took place. On the 1st, Army units were carried across the Scheldt to land on the south side, while Royal Marines were put ashore to the west (at Westkapelle) against tough resistance. Under the command of Brig B. W. Leicester, the 4th Royal Marine Special Service Brigade consisting of Nos 41, 47 and 48 Commandos was carried from Ostend in 180 landing craft. Capt A. F. Pugsley commanded the naval forces and heavy gunfire support was provided by Warspite, in her last action of the war, and the two monitors Erebus and Roberts. Many landing craft were lost in the assault and by the time the Germans surrendered on the 8th, Allied casualties totalled 8,000. By then the Canadians had crossed over to the eastern side of Walcheren from the mainland and 10 flotillas of minesweepers had begun the job of clearing 80 miles of the Scheldt.

11th - On Arctic patrol off the Lofoten Islands, submarine "Venturer" sank "U-771" heading home for Narvik from operations in northern waters. 11th - South of Ireland "U-1200" was sunk by patrolling corvettes "Kenilworth Castle", Launceston Castle, "Pevensey Castle" and "Portchester Castle", then supporting Halifax/UK convoy HX317. 25th - On passage out to the North Atlantic, "U-322" was sunk west of the Shetlands by a Norwegian Sunderland of No 330 Squadron and patrolling frigate "Ascension".

12th - The damaged "TIRPITZ" was finally destroyed as she lay at anchor off Tromso, Norway. Lancasters of Nos 9 and 617 (Dambuster) Squadrons, RAF Bomber Command using 12,000lb bombs put paid to the ship that had tied down the Home Fleet for so long. After several hits and near misses by bombs weighing over 5 tons, she turned turtle trapping nearly 1,000 men inside.

21st - Escort destroyer "WENSLEYDALE" was badly damaged in collision with an LST in the Thames Estuary and placed in reserve.

Eastern Front - The main activity was in Hungary where the Russians still battled towards Budapest, and in the Balkans as southern Yugoslavia was cleared by the Eastern Allies.

Monthly Loss Summary: 3 British, Allied and neutral ships of 9,000 tons in UK waters.


1st - Off Zara in the northern Adriatic, escort destroyers "Avon Vale" and "Wheatland" sank German torpedo boat "TA-20" and two corvettes - all ex-Italian.

Greece & Albania - By mid-month Greece was free of those Germans that could escape and British troops had landed in the north. They also had the job of disarming the various resistance movements. In Albania the Germans were pulling out and on the 21st the capital of Tirana was occupied by Albanian partisans.

Merchant Shipping War, Conclusion - Only one small Allied merchant ship was lost in the Mediterranean through to the end of the war.


22nd - Three days after sinking a ship in the shallow Malacca Strait off the west coast of Malaya, submarine "STRATAGEM" was located and sunk by a Japanese destroyer on the 22nd.

Leyte, Central Philippines - Although the Japanese managed to reinforce Leyte, and fight back with a fierceness that came as no surprise, they were too late to stop US forces from pushing forward throughout the island. A second landing at Ormoc Bay on the west coast took place in early December, and by the end of that month organised resistance was over. All this time the US Navy suffered increasing damage in Philippine waters from kamikaze attack.

US Submarine Operations - By the end of the war, Japan's merchant marine almost ceased to exist, a significant factor in her eventual defeat. US submarines accounted for 60 percent of sinkings as well as a third of warships. In November alone they sank battleship "KONGO" off Formosa, giant carrier "SHINANO" (built on a 'Yamato' hull) off Tokyo only days after her completion, and small carrier "SHINYO" off Shanghai.

Monthly Loss Summary: Indian Ocean - 2 merchant ships of 14,000 tons; Pacific Ocean - 1 merchant ship of 7,000 tons 




Russian Convoys - Return Russian convoy RA62 (28 ships) prepared to leave Kola Inlet on the 10th with the escort of JW62. Beforehand on the 9th, Royal Navy and Russian warships drove off the waiting U-boats, and corvette Bamborough Castle serving with the 8th and 20th EGs sank "U-387". As the convoy passed Jan Mayen Island on the 13th, "U-365" was sent to the bottom by Swordfish of 813 Squadron flying from escort carrier Campania (later better known for her association with the 1951 Festival of Britain in London). All merchantmen reached Loch Ewe on the 19th.

27th - "U-877" encountered Halifax/UK convoy HX327 to the northwest of the Azores and was sunk by Canadian corvette "St Thomas" of the C3 group.

Monthly Loss Summary: 1 merchant ship of 5,000 tons in the Atlantic; 3 German U-boats


Western Front - As the Allies pushed forward towards the Siegfried Line, the Battle of the Bulge started in the Ardennes. Three German armies made a last desperate attempt to drive a wedge through the junction of US First and Third Armies, cross the Meuse and head for Antwerp. Starting on the 16th along a 60-mile front, the attackers soon surrounded American units at Bastogne where they held out through the battle. By Christmas the Germans had been stopped short of the Meuse. Now US First Army from the north and US Third from the south aided by part of the British Second Army pushing from the west began to squeeze them back.

British Isles Inshore Campaign - The inshore campaign by U-boats gained some successes including two frigates, but four were lost: 6th - Frigate "BULLEN" of the 19th EG was sunk off the north coast of Scotland by an acoustic torpedo from "U-775". On the same day in the same area frigates "Goodall" and "Loch lnsh" also with 19th EG, accounted for "U-297". 17th - Attacking a convoy off the south coast of Ireland, "U-400" was sunk by escorting frigate "Nyasaland". 18th - "U-1209" ran aground near Lands End at the far tip of SW England and was wrecked. 26th - Frigate "CAPEL" of the 1st EG on patrol off Cherbourg was lost to "U-486". 30th - Allied aircraft now had few successes against the schnorkel-equipped U-boats. An exception was "U-772", lost off Portland Bill to a RCAF Leigh Light Wellington of No 407 Squadron. In Norwegian waters one U-boat was lost in a RAF raid and another by collision off the Lofoten Islands.

Eastern Front - In Hungary the Russians attacked towards Budapest, reaching Lake Balaton early in the month and encircling the city at Christmas. Following the setting up of a provisional Hungarian Government in the Russian-held area, war was declared on Germany on the 31st and an armistice signed with the Allies in late January.

Monthly Loss Summary: 18 British, Allied and neutral ships of 86,000 tons in UK waters.


14th - 'Hunt' escort destroyer "ALDENHAM" was the 67th and last Royal Navy destroyer lost in the Mediterranean. Returning from bombarding a German-held island off Fiume in the northern Adriatic, she was mined and sunk northwest of Zara.

Greece - Disagreements with the Greek communist movement EAM/ELAS over the future government of the country led to fighting and the declaration of martial law. British troops, supported by Royal Navy ships, had the unenviable task of fighting their previous allies. By month's end the fighting started to die down as proposals for the setting-up of a regency were announced. The troubles were not over until February 1945, and flared again with the outbreak of civil war in 1946.

Strategic Situation - Mediterranean

All the Mediterranean except the Ligurian Sea to the north of Corsica, the northern part of the Adriatic and some of the Greek islands were now under Allied maritime control


Burma - The central Burma campaign towards Mandalay continued. As it did, the Third and last Arakan offensive got underway on the 11th with British, Indian and West African troops aiming for Akyab.

British Pacific Fleet - The Royal Navy prepared to return in force to the Pacific, but even then as a junior partner to the vast US fleets. At the end of November the Eastern Fleet was dissolved and Vice-Adm Sir Arthur Power appointed C-in-C of the newly formed East lndies Fleet. He took over some of the ships of the old Eastern Fleet from Adm Fraser including capital ships Queen Elizabeth and Renown, four escort carriers and nine cruisers. Now as the last U-boats headed back for Europe, Adm Power had sufficient convoy escort strength for Indian Ocean operations. Adm Fraser became C-in-C, British Pacific Fleet (BPF) and early in the month flew to Sydney, his planned main base, and then on to Pearl Harbor to discuss with Adm Nimitz how the Fleet would be employed. By the end of the year, fleet carriers Illustrious, Indefatigable, Indomitable and Victorious, battleships Howe and King George V, and seven cruisers including the New Zealand Achilles and Gambia had been allocated to BPF. Adm Fraser's greatest challenges were to equip and train his aircrews to US Navy standards of operation and to assemble a balanced fleet train. This would enable him to supply and support the fleet so it could operate alongside but independent of the Americans in the vast stretches of the Pacific. Even at the end he lacked many of the ships needed, especially fast tankers. Rear-Adm Sir Philip Vian took command of the BPF carriers and led "Indomitable" and "Illustrious" on an attack against Belawan Deli, northern Sumatra in mid-month. More raids took place on Sumatra in January 1945. (HMS Indomitable in the Far East 1944-45, a Photographic Record)

Leyte & Mindoro, Central Philippines - As the Leyte fighting drew to an organised close, Gen MacArthur's troops landed on Mindoro on the 15th. They were soon in possession of the air bases needed for the invasion of the main Philippines island of Luzon to the north.  

Monthly Loss Summary: Pacific Ocean only - 6 merchant ships of 43,000 tons


on to January-April 1945
or return to Royal and Dominion Navies Contents

revised 24/12/10