Mediterranean Theater of War , September 1941



Malta - Royal Navy Carriers HMS Ark Royal and HMS Furious between them flew off over 50 Hurricanes for Malta in two separate operations. The 10th Submarine Flotilla was formed at Malta with the smaller ‘U’ class boats which were more suited to Mediterranean conditions. On the 18th September, Lt-Cdr Wanklyn in U-class submarine HMS Upholder sank the 19,500-ton transports “Neptunia” and “Oceania”. Between June and the end of September, submarines sank a total of 49 ships of 150,000 tons. Added to the losses inflicted by the RAF this represented a high proportion of Axis shipping bound for Libya.

24th-28th September - Malta Convoy: Operation ‘Halberd’ - ‘Halberd’ sailed from Gibraltar with nine transports. Force H (Adm Somerville), reinforced from the Home Fleet, included HMS Nelson, HMS Rodney and HMS Prince of Wales and the usual air cover from HMS Ark Royal. On the 26th September the Italian Navy sailed to intercept but returned to base next day. South of Sardinia on the 27th September , HMS Nelson was damaged by an Italian aircraft torpedo, and at the end of the day Force H turned back for Gibraltar. Convoy and escort (Rear-Adm H. M. Burrough) went on to reach Malta on the 28th minus one transport lost to air attack. As Force H returned, screening destroyers HMS Gurkha and HMS Legion sank Italian submarine “ADUA” off the coast of Algeria on the 30th September. By now in 1941, three major convoys had reached Malta - ‘Excess’ in January, ‘Substance’ in July and now ‘Halberd’. Nearly 40 merchantmen had got through with only one sunk. The cost to the Royal Navy had been one cruiser and a destroyer sunk, and a battleship, carrier and two cruisers damaged.

27th September - Royal Navy submarine HMS Upright sank Italian torpedo boat ALBATROS off Messina, northeast Sicily.

28th September - Royal Navy Corvette HMS Hyacinth on patrol off Jaffa, Palestine, sank Italian submarine “FISALIA”.

Monthly Loss Summary
4 British or Allied merchant ships of 16,000 tons