Author Topic: HM Submarine Torbay (1940 - 1947)  (Read 260 times)

Offline stuartwaters

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Re: HM Submarine Torbay (1940 - 1947)
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2021, 04:29:19 PM »
"I did not say the French would not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Admiral Sir John Jervis, 1st Earl St Vincent.

Offline Dave Smith

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Re: HM Submarine Torbay (1940 - 1947)
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2021, 10:49:02 AM »
Thanks yet again, Stuart for lots of interesting articles on Chatham submarines. Of particular interest to me, for my Dad would have worked on many of them before, during & after the War. I'm sure I mentioned before, but that may have been on the old Forum?, that he told me, about 1944 that they were working on a very high speed- underwater that is- submarine that could travel almost as fast submerged as the normal surface speed. Did that go into production please?

Offline MartinR

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Re: HM Submarine Torbay (1940 - 1947)
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2021, 11:41:14 PM »
Chapman's book on the Torbay is well worth a read:

Chapman, Paul. Submarine Torbay. London: Hale, 1989. 940.54
Edit: should have added ISBN: 978-0-7090-3821-4

Offline stuartwaters

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HM Submarine Torbay (1940 - 1947)
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2021, 10:04:58 PM »

HMS Torbay was a T Class submarine built at Chatham which served during WW2. She was laid down on No 7 slip on 21st November 1938, was launched into the Medway on 9th April 1940 and was commissioned at Chatham on 14th January 1941 under Lieutenant-Commander Anthony Miers.


She went on to have a spectacularly successful and eventful career during the war.


The T class were large and powerful submarines and a large number of them were built for the navy, including a number built at Chatham. They displaced 1090 tons on the surface and 1575 tons dived. HMS Torbay was armed with no less than 11 21 inch torpedo tubes. There were 6 forward facing tubes which could be reloaded, plus a further 4 forward facing tubes (2 above the bow and 2 amidships) which were external to the pressure hull and couldn't be reloaded at sea. There was a further aft-facing external tube in the stern. In addition to this, she was armed with a 4 inch gun mounted on the conning tower forward of the bridge. T Class submarines were sent to the Mediterranean between 1941 and 1943 where their large size made them easy targets and many were lost there.


HMS Torbay:





HMS Torbay crest:





On 3rd February 1941, while working up, HMS Torbay was in collision with the tanker Vancouver, but suffered no serious damage and no casualties.


On 22nd March 1941, HMS Torbay was ordered at short notice to patrol off Brest because the German Battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisnau had been sighted there. At the time, half her crew was on leave and had to be replaced with spare crew members from the depot ship. This patrol ended up being cancelled once HMS Torbay had arrived on station and she was ordered to proceed to Gibraltar, arriving there on 13th April.


On 27th April 1941, HMS Torbay attacked a merchant ship with torpedoes, when these missed, she surfaced and was about to attack with gunfire when an aircraft forced her to dive. On 13th May 1941, HMS Torbay ends her 2nd war patrol at Alexandria still having not successfully engaged the enemy.


On 1st June 1941, whilst on her 3rd war patrol, HMS Torbay gets off the mark when she sank a fully laden Greek vessel under German control with gunfire. She repeats this success on 3rd June when she sank the Greek registered but German controlled Menelaos off Lesbos. On 6th June, she torpedoed and damaged the Vicy French tanker Alberta. On 10th June, HMS Torbay had another go at the Alberta, this time finishing the tanker off. On the same day, HMS Torbay torpedoed and sank the Italian tanker Guiseppina Ghirardi. The following day, HMS Torbay rammed and sank the Greek vessel Poseidon. The day after that, HMS Torbay sank the Italian schooner Gesu E Maria with gunfire.


On her next patrol, on 30th June, HMS Torbay sank the Greek vessel Issodia Theotoku with gunfire. On 2nd July, she torpedoed and sank the Italian merchant ship Citta di Tripoli. On 4th July, HMS Torbay sank 2 sailing vessels. The 2nd ship, a schooner, was flying German colours and was heavily laden with troops and stores. Miers made no secret of the fact that he ordered the troops on the enemy vessel to be machine-gunned, a war crime for which he received a reprimand from the Admiralty. On 5th July, HMS Torbay sank the Italian submarine Jantina. Three days later, she sank the German sailing vessel L XIV with gunfire and the following day, the German sailing vessels L V and L VI suffered the same fate.


On 7th August 1941, HMS Torbay was the victim of a friendly fire incident, when she was attacked by a Fairey Albacore from 826 Squadron, but suffered no damage or casualties. On 16th August, HMS Torbay's crew boarded the Italian sailing ship Evangelista and sank it with scuttling charges. Between the 18th and 20th August, HMS Torbay rescued 130 allied and Greek troops from the beach during the evacuation of Crete. Between 26th August and 3rd September 1941, HMS Torbay was docked in Port Said for maintenance.


On 10th September 1941, HMS Torbay torpedoed and sank the German ship Norburg inside Iraklion Harbour, Crete. The German ship sank in shallow water and was salvaged, but never went to sea again. Despite a number of near-misses, success eluded HMS Torbay until 12th December 1941, when she sank the greek vessel PIII with gunfire. On 15th December, HMS Torbay sank the Greek vessels Agios Georgios, Maria and Kyriakula with gunfire. On the same day, HMS Torbay torpedoed the already torpedoed and aground Italian cargo-liner Sebastiano Venier. On 23rd December 1941, HMS Torbay puts a torpedo into the already torpedoed and aground Italian Destroyer Aviere. By the time of her next maintenance period, in February 1942, HMS Torbays commander had been promoted to Commander and been awarded the DSO. On 27th February, HMS Torbay damaged the Italian merchant vessel Lido with gunfire. The damage is so severe that the Lido is deliberately grounded and is later declared a total loss.


On 5th March 1942, HMS Torbay entered Corfu Harbour and under the noses of the enemy defences, torpedoed and sank the Italian merchant ship Maddalena G. For entering a heavily defended enemy harbour, carrying out a successful attack in broad daylight and then escaping without damage to his boat, Commander Miers was awarded the Victoria Cross.


On 9th April, Torbay sank the Italian patrol vessel R113. On 11th, she sank the Italian sailing ship Gesu Crocifisso. On 18th, the German Army Cargo Ship Bellona became her next victim, followed on 21st by the German Auxiliary patrol ship Delpa II. On 24th May, HMS Torbay was ordered to return to the UK for a well-deserved refit, arriving at Devonport on 26th June after stops in Gibraltar and Portsmouth.


Her refit was complete on 28th November 1942 and HMS Torbay left Devonport for Holy Loch for trials and workup with a new commander, Lieutenant R J Clutterbuck. On 13th December, HMS Torbay started her next patrol, off Northern Norway covering the passage of convoy JW51A. This ended without incident on 4th January 1943. On 19th January, HMS Torbay was ordered back to the Mediterranean, to operate out of Gibraltar, arriving there on 29th. On 7th February, HMS Torbay was in collision with the Spanish submarine General Sanjuro, sustaining slight damage. On 11th February, she torpedoed and sank the Danish merchant vessel (in German service) Grete. On 22nd February, she began operating out of Algiers and on 25th February, she damaged the Italian auxiliary minesweeper Monte Argentario with gunfire. The following day, she sank the German merchant vessel Mariaeck with gunfire and the Spanish merchant ship Juan de Astigarraga with torpedoes. On 27th, she sank the Italian auxiliary patrol ship Baicin. The following day, she torpedoed and sank the Italian merchant ship Ischia. On 28th March, she torpedoed and sank the French (under German control) merchant ship Lillois. On 1st April 1943, she claimed her next victim, the Italian fishing vessel Madonna di Porto Salvo with gunfire. Her luck ran out on 18th April, when she was heavily damaged by an enemy air raid on Algiers. By 21st April, she had been patched up enough to depart Algiers for repairs in Gibraltar. The repairs took 3 months, with HMS Torbay arriving back in Algiers on 1st July.


By 17th July 1943, she was back in action, sinking the Italian sailing ship Pozzalo with gunfire and the Italian auxiliary patrol ship San Girolamo sharing her fate the following day. On 23rd July, the Italian Merchant ship Aderno was torpedoed and sunk. She was transferred to Malta, accompanying convoy KMS-23, arriving in Malta on 24th August. By 31st, she was back on the line, sinking the Italian sailing ship Columbo with gunfire. The Italian merchant ship Versilia became her next victim, being torpedoed on 2nd September.


HMS Torbay's base changed again on 11th September 1943, when she arrived in Beirut. After a short period of maintenance in Port Said, she began operating out of Beirut in earnest on 10th October and on 15th, she sank the Greek ship Poseidon (another one) with gunfire. Later that day, she had a close shave with the German Q-Ship GA45, with the German driving off the boat when she surfaced to attempt a gun attack. On 16th October, HMS Torbay torpedoed and sank the German troopship Kari. On 21st November, the Greek sailing ship Panagia was sunk by gunfire, followed the next day by a 400 ft German floating dry-dock which was under tow. On 27th November, the German troopship Palma fell victim to HMS Torbay's torpedoes.


From then until 31st January 1944, HMS Torbay had a dry spell, not managing a successful attack until she sank an unidentified Greek sailing ship with gunfire. Her 23rd war patrol, from 24th February to 3rd March 1944 ended without success and she was ordered to return to the UK for a refit, leaving Malta on 6th March. After stops in Gibraltar, Devonport, Portsmouth and Sheerness, HMS Torbay returned home to Chatham on 3rd April 1944.


HMS Torbay's refit at Chatham lasted until 15th August 1944, when she was sent to Holy Loch for trials and workup with a new commander, Lieutenant C P Norman DSO RN. She then conducted an uneventful patrol in the North Sea between 16th and 20th November 1944. On 12th December 1944, HMS Torbay was ordered to Ceylon. On the way there, she made stops in Gibraltar, Malta, Port Said. Aden, Columbo and arriving in Trincomalee on 31st January 1945. HMS Torbay didn't start her next patrol until 3rd March 1945. On 16th March, she destroyed an unidentified Japanese coaster and damaged a Junk, both with gunfire. Between 7th and 21st April, her 26th war patrol passed without incident. On 8th May 1945, she departed Trincomalee for her 27th war patrol. This had to be abandoned after she suffered a serious engine failure on 11th May 1945. She arrived back in Trincomalee on 16th May.


The repairs took a month and she didn't depart Trincomalee for her 28th war patrol until 19th June. On 25th June, her crew boarded and sank a tongkang with a demolition charge and the following day, she sank a Japanese coaster with gunfire. Between the 7th and 25th August 1945, her 29th war patrol passed without incident. On the 11th September 1945, HMS Torbay was ordered to return to the UK, following the surrender of Japan and the end of the Second World War. On 22nd October 1945, HMS Torbay arrived in Portsmouth.


Her spectacular career came to an ignominious end on 19th December 1945, when she was sold. One of the most successful submarines in the history of the Royal Navy was broken up at Briton Ferry in Wales in March of 1947. She was not forgotten though. Her name was continued in the form of the Trafalgar Class Nuclear Powered Attack Submarine HMS Torbay, commissioned in 1987 and which served until 2017.
"I did not say the French would not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Admiral Sir John Jervis, 1st Earl St Vincent.