HMS Torbay (N79)

HMS Torbay (N79)

HMS Torbay (N79)

HMS Torbay (N79) was a submarine of the Royal Navy.

The warship was used during the Second World War and one of the most successful submarines of the Royal Navy.

Use history

Iron ring around Brest

The first use of the 14 January 1941 it entered service submarine resulted in March 1941 in the Bay of Biscay, where the two returning from the Company Berlin German battleship Scharnhorst and Gneisenau e should be intercepted. But the German capital ships were able to break through the British siege unscathed. After the unsuccessful operation, the submarine was ordered to Gibraltar.

After further patrols in the Mediterranean Torbay met on 13 May 1941 in Alexandria, where she was assigned to the First Submarine Flotilla.

First use before the Dardanelles

On 28 May 1941, the submarine left the Egyptian port city. The use of lead in front of the Dardanelles. Through this strategic water supply lines of the Axis powers of the Romanian oil ports went on the Black Sea to southern Europe and North Africa.

On 1 June 1941 the Torbay sank in the Aegean a Greek under German control caique with gunfire, reaching their first combat success. The small motor sailing ship exploded after the fifth shot, which suggests that it was loaded with explosives or ammunition. Two days later, another caique was sunk.

After the U-boat was commanded in the sector before the Dardanelles. The application presented very high technical demands. The changing currents require high navigational skill. More problematic were occurring in this area water layers with different salinity and temperature, the balancing of the ballast tanks from the difficult and appearance, which is why Commander Miers had never dive deeper than 25 meters. In addition, Miers was of the view that the pressure hull of submarines a water bomb at shallower depths, ie at lower water pressure, could better withstand than at greater depths, since the external pressure in the event of an attack, the sum of the hydrostatic pressure and the detonation wave of explosive s represents.

Another advantage of Miers’ view was that you can go much faster, of course, back to periscope depth and continue the attack or even start a counter attack. Miers’ unconventional tactics were ultimately successful, as the different layers of the water broke and the reflected sound, so that the acoustic locators of the Italian and German U-hunters could also think of shallow-diving submarines are very inaccurate.

The Torbay had to let a lot of neutral ships in the heavily traveled waterway until 6 am June the Vichy French tanker Alberta-sighted and heavily damaged by torpedoes. The NUC and abandoned by the crew ship was boarded in the following night, but could not be sunk. On the morning of the 10th June was the same tanker, a rescue vehicle in tow this time, rediscovered and again attacked with torpedoes and grenades. But the British submarine broke off the attack because it had to dodge an Italian destroyer. On the same morning, a small Italian convoy was attacked several times. The tanker Giuseppina Ghirardi was sunk. The British code breakers at Bletchley Park had recently broken the key of the Italian Navy, which is perhaps one of the reasons that Miers commander was informed about the course of the convoy. After the successful attack Miers had to return home trip, during which another caique and a schooner were sunk.

War against caiques

The next war patrol in the Mediterranean began on 27 June 1941 and again led in the Aegean Sea. Two command-soldiers of the recently newly formed Special Boat Section were on board. On 2 July Torbay discovered a small Italian convoy and sank a freighter. Two days later, a caique and a schooner were sunk with on-board artillery. Both ships went sailing under the German flag and loaded with troops. After the artillery attack Commander Miers did shoot with the two Lewis machine guns on the survivors floating in the water until he was sure that no one lives. Commander Miers noted in the logbook: “Everyone and everything was destroyed by the one or Type of gunfire.”

Within the four days following an Italian submarine and another schooner was sunk.

In the early morning hours of 9 July 1941 saw the submarine north of Antikythera in the bright moonlight, a small vessel propelled on a northerly course group. The convoy consisted of four caiques and schooners. The unarmed motor glider loaded with gasoline, ammunition and food. In addition, German mountain troops, who were on their way home in the furlough were on board.

The Torbay surfaced and sank with gunfire in the shortest time a caique, and the entire crew was killed.

As the submarine turned to the next sailing ship whose captain jumped Ehlebrecht with part of the crew of the ship, while the rest raised his hands and shouted, “Captain is a Greek!We surrender! ”

Since now the ammunition was running low, let Commander Miers board the sailing ship. The boarding party was led by Corporal George Bremner, one of the two command soldiers. Bremner shot and killed a German who tried to throw a hand grenade. Another German soldier was killed when he raised his rifle.

Bremner disarmed seven survivors and took them captive. When he tried to lead them to the submarine, Commander Miers snapped at him angrily: “U-Boats never make prisoners!” As a result of the commander’s statement Bremner tried to find a life raft for prisoners of war. Since he found none on deck, he continued his search below deck. As Bremner reappeared on deck, the prisoners were gone. In his demand was reported to him that she had been shot in the water. Since the statements of witnesses and other parties disagree with each other, the future course of events is not entirely clear. The driving in the water in sight Ehlebrecht German captain later reported that the men had been grown in a dinghy and then shot, two killed and three others were seriously wounded. According to the testimony of other crew members of the Torbay men were pushed overboard. Miers would have ordered them to shoot then. Two British soldiers had refused the command. The commander would be able to enforce its order to kill only when he threatened another British sailors with immediate execution. According Ehlebrechts statement, the submarine circled in the water Drifting twice, they were bombarded with a machine gun, but then left on the castaways to pursue the other carriers. Ehlebrecht and other German survivors managed to cling to floating debris and were later rescued.

After these operations, the Torbay sank two more motor sailer of the convoy. A transport ship was able to escape. After the sinking of an Italian tanker, the submarine returned to Egypt.

Miers looked right and had no reason to cover up the killing of prisoners of war, which is why he wrote in the logbook: “Submarine detached and shot with the Lewis machine gun on the soldiers in the boat to prevent them keep their ship . ” The Commander in Chief of the British Mediterranean Fleet Admiral Cunningham remarked: “A distinguished conducted patrol.Lieutenant Commander Miers is an outstanding commanding officer. ” For now, no one seemed to violations of the Hague Convention and the traditional in the British Navy since Horatio Nelson generosity in victory disturbing. Admiral hoarding in London did not ignore the offense and said: “As far as I know, the enemy has not been shot, usually on in the water or on rafts people, even if they belonged to the armed forces.After the events mentioned in the Torbay report he might feel entitled to it. ” Horten was in the First World War one of the most experienced and successful British submarine commander. As a result of hoarding objection ordered the Admiralty Miers to refrain from such actions in the future.

Operation Flipper

On 10 November 1941 left the Torbay and her sister boat Talisman Alexandria. Aboard the two submarines were located 59 commands. Dubbed Operation Flipper specialist company was to capture the commander of the German Africa Corps General Erwin Rommel. The secret company was designated as the direct preparation of the British counter-offensive Operation Crusader in November / December 1941.

The Command Squad was deposed on the coast of Cyrenaica. The lossy attack on the night of 17-18. November 1941 on the supposed enemy headquarters in Beda Littoria failed. Due to a storm the commandos reached the U-boats not again and went largely into German captivity. Only two men could penetrate through the desert to the British lines.

Another operation in the Mediterranean

By the summer of 1942, the boat was operating in the Mediterranean and reached more sinkings of transport ships of the axis. In March 1942, Miers was followed by an enemy convoy to enter a port of Corfu and sank several ships. For this operation, Commander Miers received the Victoria Cross.

In summer, the Torbay went back to the UK for overhaul. In February 1943, the submarine returned under the new commander Clutterbuck in the Mediterranean war zone, where it was used until the beginning of 1944 and could reach more sinkings.

Asian theater of war

In May 1945, the Torbay reached under the new commander Lt.. Norman the Asian theater of war, where they still sank two Japanese sailing vessels and a coaster until the end of the war.


The Torbay was made ​​after the war and decommissioned on 19 December 1945 Sold for scrap. The submarine was scrapped in March 1947 in Briton Ferry (Wales).


•According to theCdr. Anthony Cecil Capel Miers (November 12, 1940 – October 28, 1942)

•According to the Robert Julian Clutterbuck (October 28, 1942 – May 2, 1944)

•According to the Compton Patrick Norman (2 May 1944 – October 1945)

Struggle success (selection)


1 June 1941, In the Doro road between Andros and Evia a Greek sailing ship is sunk with on-board artillery.

3 June 1941, a sailing ship is sunk by gunfire ago Mytilini.

6 June 1941, Cape Hellas before the vichy French tanker is Alberta (6131 GRT) damaged the rear gun.

10 June 1941, Before the Dardanelles an Italian convoy is attacked three times. The first attack is started and 9:40 clock does not lead to success. 10:43 clock the second attack is carried out, the tanker Utilitas (5342 GRT) is made ​​though, the igniter of the torpedo but does not operate. The third attack 12:08 clock the tanker Giuseppina Ghirardi is (3319 GRT) sunk eight miles off Cape Hellas by torpedo hit.

11 June 1941, 15 nautical miles south of Mytilene, a Greek freighter rammed and sunk.

12 June 1941, Northwest of Skyros in the Italian sailing vessel Gesu e Maria (238 GRT) is sunk by gunfire.

30 June 1941, Cape Malea ago a sailing ship is sunk with on-board artillery.

2 July 1941, northwest of Kea in a small Italian convoy is attacked. The Transporter Citta di Tripoli (2933 GRT) is sunk. The second transport ship can dodge the torpedoes.

4 July 1941, In the Doro road two sailing ships are sunk by German gunfire. Commander Anthony Miers can shoot the castaways floating in the water.

5 July 1941, South of Mykonos in the Italian submarine Jantina is (ts 599) torpedoed and sunk.

8 July 1941, L XIV of the German schooner is sunk with gunfire east of Kythira.

9 July 1941, 10 nautical miles north of the Antikythera German Sailboats LV, L and L VI XII are sunk. The vessels are partially boarded and destroyed with explosives. Miers commander orders the execution of prisoners of war. A few hours later, in  the Italian tanker Strombo (5232 GRT) torpedo. The tanker is 23 August 1941 declared a total loss.

12 August 1941, Four miles west of Benghazi, an Italian convoy is attacked by four torpedoes. The challenged Bosforo transport ships (3648 GRT) and Iseo (2366 GRT) will be missed. The submarine is then attacked by the torpedo boat Partenope with water bombs.

16 August 1941, Before Cape Tenaro is the sailing ship Evangelista (28 GRT) sunk with explosives.

10 September 1941, In the port of Heraklion the German freighter is torpedoed Norburg (2392 GRT). The ship runs aground, but is later repaired again.

11 December 1941, Northwest of Souda Bay (Crete), the Greek sailing ship Sofia (800 GRT) is sunk by gunfire.

12 December 1941, Northwest of Souda bay, the Greek sailing vessel P III is sunk by gunfire.

15 December 1941, Cape ago Methene three Greek sailing ships are sunk with on-board artillery.

22 December 1941, Cape ago Methene a Greek sailing ship is sunk with on-board artillery.

23 December 1941, In the port of Pylos lying on the ground Aviere destroyer is torpedoed (ts 1645). The Italian warship was on 19 November 1941 was hit and damaged by the Polish submarine ORP Sokol. The Aviere is then repaired. It is on 17 December 1942 sunk off Bizerte (Tunisia) from HMS Splendid.

27 February 1942, 15 nautical miles south of Antipaxe (Corfu), the Italian transport ship is Lido (1243 GRT) sunk by torpedoes.

5 March 1942, Before Corfu, the Italian transport ship Maddalena G. (5212 GRT) torpedoed and sunk.

9 April 1942, In Patras, the Italian auxiliary patrol boat R113 / Avanguardista is (34 GRT) sunk by gunfire.

11 April 1942, Northwest of Corfu, the Italian sailing vessel Gesu Crucifix is (137 GRT) sunk with the rear gun.

18 April 1942, 50 nautical miles east-south-east of Capo Colonna, in the German military transport Bellona is torpedoed and sunk (1297 GRT).

19 April 1942, North of Crete in the German auxiliary U-19 fighter V 2 / Delpa II (170 GRT) sunk by gunfire.

11 February 1943, Cape Oropesa ago the Danish merchant ship Grete (1563 GRT) sunk.

25 February 1943, Before Ajaccio is (80 GRT) with gunfire damaged the Italian auxiliary minesweeper Monte Argentario.

26 February 1943, Before Sanremo is torpedoed and sunk by the Spanish freighter Juan de Astigarraga (3561 GRT). On the same day is 30 nautical miles south of Cape Mele, the French freighter Oasis (1327 GRT) sunk.

27 February 1943, 35 nautical miles southwest of La Spezia in the Italian auxiliary patrol vessel V 276 / Baicin (173 GRT) is pocketed on board artillery.

28 February 1943, Before Portofino is the Italian transport ship Ischia (5101 GRT) sunk by torpedoes.

3 March 1943, Before Milazzo is the Italian sailing vessel Gesu e Maria Giuseppe (64 GRT) sunk with the rear gun.

28 March 1943, Before Cape Scalea (Italy) in is the French freighter torpedoed and sunk Lillios (3680 GRT).

1 April 1943, Before Licosa in the Italian fishing vehicles Madonna di Porto Salvo (21 GRT) is sunk by gunfire.

17 July 1943, Five miles west of Civitavecchia, the Italian sailing ship is sunk Pozzalo (127 GRT).

18 July 1943, Southeast of Isola del Giglio, the Italian auxiliary patrol vessel V 90 / San Girolamo (109 GRT) is sunk by gunfire.

23 July 1943, Before Civitavecchia in is the Aderno Italian ship (2609 GRT, ex British ardeola) torpedoed and sunk.

31 August 1943, 15 nautical miles west of Kos, the Italian sailing vessel Columbo (15 GRT) is sunk by gunfire.

2 September 1943, Paros ago in the Italian transporter Versilia (591 GRT) is torpedoed and sunk.

15 October 1943, Before Kalymnos of the Italian freighter will Tarquinia (749 GRT) with torpedoes and sunk before Leros is a Greek fishing vehicle with gunfire. After these attacks the submarine 45 is attacked by the German submarine hunters GA with five depth charges. Commander Clutterbuck brings up the Torbay to attack the attackers with artillery, but fails because the German ship also brings his rear gun used.

16 October 1943, East of Naxos in the German troopship Kari (1925 GRT) are and the Italian transporter Trapani (1855 GRT) torpedo. The Kari (ex French Ste. Collette, ex norway. Kari) is sunk, damaged the Trampani. The Trampani had been attacked and damaged already in the previous night by the British destroyer HMS Hursley and the Greek destroyer escort Miaoulis. The ship is sunk into the following night by the British destroyers HMS Jervis and HMS Penn.

21 November 1943, West of Psathoura in a Greek sailing ship is sunk.

22 November 1943, North of Skiathos in is torpedoed and sunk a German floating dock.

27 November 1943, Before Karlovasi in the German troop transport is Palma (2609 GRT) torpedoed and sunk.

31 January 1944, South of Lemnos, a Greek sailing ship is sunk by gunfire.

16 March 1945, Off the west coast of Siam, a Japanese coaster is damaged by gunfire.

24 June 1945, Before Sabang (Dutch East Indies) is sunk a Japanese coaster with gunfire.

30 June 1945, In the Straits of Malacca two Japanese sailing ships are sunk with explosives.


•Erminio Bagnasco: Submarines in the 2nd World War Engine book publishing house, Stuttgart, 5 Edition 1996, ISBN 3-613-01252-9

•Robert Hutchinson: FIGHT UNDER WATER – submarines from 1776 to today, engine book publishing house, Stuttgart, 1 Edition 2006, ISBN 3-613-02585-X

•Peter Padfield: The U-Boat War 1939-1945. Paperback Ullstein Verlag, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-548-24766-0

Triton class

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