R.Smg. BARACCA

The Sinking of the
R.Smg. BARACCA

by Cristiano D'Adamo

To confirm the events surrounding the loss of the Italian submarine Baracca, we conducted a research at the Public Record Office (Great Britain). The ship log for H.M.S. Croome is no longer available, but with the help of Mr. Jonathan Collins we located ADM 1/11472. Our comments are provided in brackets [ ] :
 

CONFIDENTIAL

Captain (D).,

13th Flotilla,

 Sir,

     I have the honour to submit the following report of proceedings.

     H.M.S. Croome left Convoy H.G. 72 [1] at 0200/8 in position 40° 00’ N 22° 52’ W to join Convoy O.G. 75 [2] at 0800/8 in accordance with C. in C. Western Approaches signal 1546A/6.

Course and speed were adjusted to reach a point 20 miles ahead of the convoy 0800 position, at 0715. At 0720 [3] course was altered to 335° to meet the convoy and sweep an area ahead of it. At 0750 just as it was getting light, the starboard lookout reported an object on the starboard beam.   This was identified as a submarine on the surface, range about 8500 yards, course South.  Course was altered towards and speed increased to 20 knots.  The submarine dived almost immediately.   When 2000 yards short of the position in which the submarine dived, speed was reduced to 15 knots and a search commenced.  After reaching the calculated "furthest on" position of the submarine, course was altered to 180° and two minutes later the submarine was detected on the starboard bow.[,] range 1100 yards.  A deliberate attack was carried out [4] without apparent success. A second attack [5], using a much deeper setting on the charges, was carried out, and the submarine surfaced astern.  Fire was immediately opened with all guns [6] that would bear, full speed was ordered and course altered to ram.  The submarine returned our fire with her gun, but the shots went very wide, and the gun was quickly silenced by Lewis gun fire from the wings of the bridge.   As we approached, the submarine's crew started to abandon ship, and we rammed her just abaft the conning tower.  She sank by the stern almost immediate and a few seconds later a big muffled explosion was heard. Survivors were then picked up.     

The Engineer Officer reported that the forward compartments, as far as the central store, were flooded, so shores were fitted as necessary.  The Asdic had been put out of action and since the forward sound bulkhead was of light construction, I decided that no useful purpose would be served by joining the convoy, to justify the risk of further damage to the ship, in the event of encountering bad weather.  Course was therefore laid for Gibraltar speed 8 knots.  The Engineer Officer succeeded in pumping down the water in the cable locker compartment, plugging the leaks in the bulkhead, and fitting shores, so that the pumps had the water under control.  Speed was then gradually increased to 16 knots.

From the  prisoners it was learned that the submarine was the Italian submarine 'Baracca'.  They had been on patrol for a week and were looking for a convoy.  The normal duration of pat­rol is one month.  The first attack only shook the submarine and caused very minor damage, including putting the depth gauge out of action.  They were then at 90 metres, and still diving slowly. The second attack put out all the lights, stopped the engines, put the steering gear out of action and water started to flood in forward and aft.  They blew all tanks and surfaced.     

With reference to W.A.G.O. 05015, I should like to bring to your notice, the names of the following Officers and men to whose skill and alertness, the success of this operation is chiefly due

                                        

Sub Lieutenant

Sub Lieutenant Anthony Herbert Lane Harvey -- A/S Control
Alexander Skea, A.B.,H.S.D. P/JSK 17327 --—- A/S Operator
William Brown, Ord.Sea.,D/JX 254955 ——  Lookout on [duty]  who sighted the [submarine]

I have the honour to be,

Sir,

Your obedient Servant,

Sd.) JOHN D. HAVES,

Lieutenant Commander.

[1] Departed Liverpool August 18th, 1941 and reached Gibraltar September 1st. 14 vessels.

[2] Departed Liverpool August 29th, 1941 and reached Gibraltar September 19th. 21 vessels.

[3] Conditions: wind 2 knots from North. Visibility 4 ½ miles. Depth 2162 phantoms.

[4] Depth charges setting “C” - 100, 150 and 200 feet.

[5] Depth Charges settings “E” - 250, 350 and 500 feet.

[6] 4” Mark XVI deck gun fired 11 S.A.P. shells.
 


The Honours and Awards Committee issued the following Awards:

Distinguished Service Order

Lieutenant Commander John Douglas Hayes, R.N.

Distinguished Service Cross

Acting Sub Lieutenant Anthony Herbert Lane Harvey

Distinguished Service Medal

Able Seaman Alexander Skea

Ordinary Seaman William Brown


 
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