We often hear of the German U-boats which I have been given to understand were actually ships and not true submarines, however did the British ever use submarines and if not why not?

Please read out and answer on the show thank you


Hello, and welcome!

Practically all submarines of the World War II were more like ships which could submerge themselves for a relatively brief period rather than ships which would actually have been designed to operate fully underwater. Few exceptions existed like the very late submarine classes from Japan and Germany which were more capable underwater than on the surface.

The Royal Navy actually had a considerable number of submarines available to it at the start of the war and more were constructed throughout the war. They were used very widely - the Mediterranean was probably the theater of war where they had their biggest successes. Main issue why the British submarines did not become as famous as elsewhere was probably the fact that they had much less targets to engage.


If you want to read about RN Submarines during WW2 “One of Our Submarines” by Edward Young is a good account covering most of the war, starting with the author’s beginnings in the sub service and ending with him as Captain of RN sub in the Far East.

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