Submarines versus Pedestal Convoy?

Discussions on WW2 in Africa & the Mediterranean. Hosted by Andy H
Wargames
Member
Posts: 426
Joined: 12 Nov 2006 20:11
Location: USA

Submarines versus Pedestal Convoy?

Post by Wargames » 28 Nov 2022 18:01

I have several questions. Thanks for any help.

1. Did the submarines attack inside Tunisian waters? If so, how did they legally do this?
2. Were the submarines surfaced or submerged?
3. If submerged, how did the Italian submarines penetrate the destroyer screen? It was my understanding the Italians considered it suicide to do so.
4. How did the use of submarines differ from the previous June Vigorous convoy?

Thanks again!

EwenS
Member
Posts: 320
Joined: 04 May 2020 11:37
Location: Scotland

Re: Submarines versus Pedestal Convoy?

Post by EwenS » 28 Nov 2022 21:55

See the map in this link.
https://www.naval-history.net/MapB1942-Pedestal.GIF

In "Operation Pedestal. The Story of Convoy WS21S in August 1942" by Brian James Crabb, the Italian subs were located some 25 miles north west of Cape Bon. By the time of the Italian submarine attacks it was still daylight so the attacks were made submerged. At that time the main convoy, such as it then was, was organised in two columns. When Axum attacked the convoy was heading due south towards the Tunisian coast. She fired a spread of 4 torpedoes. Nigeria, Cairo and Ohio were all hit on the port side.

The original heavy escort was broken down into a number of forces each with its own function, and escort element. By the time of Italian sub attacks part had turned back as planned and the surviving merchants were broken into a number of elements with the escorts trying to locate them and shepherd them towards Malta.

So to answer your questions
1. No the convoy was not in Tunisian waters and the submarines were not in Tunisian waters.
2. It was still daylight so the attacks were made submerged.
3. By the time of these attacks Force Z with the battleships and carriers and their escorts had turned back for Gibraltar. The convoy itself was in several parts with the remaining escorts spread amongst them. The Italian subs did not appear to have been bothered by any escorts with the main part of the convoy.
4. Can't help you with that one.

Every time I read of Pedestal, i have to get the pen and paper out to try to determine which ships were where and when. By the time it reached the Sicilian Channel the overall position was confused.

Wargames
Member
Posts: 426
Joined: 12 Nov 2006 20:11
Location: USA

Re: Submarines versus Pedestal Convoy?

Post by Wargames » 29 Nov 2022 08:39

Yes. Map locations are very confusing to figure out where anything is. Thanks!

Wargames
Member
Posts: 426
Joined: 12 Nov 2006 20:11
Location: USA

Re: Submarines versus Pedestal Convoy?

Post by Wargames » 30 Nov 2022 03:26

Does anyone know if the British navy ever entered French territorial waters (Tunisia) at night to avoid interception?

Carl Schwamberger
Host - Allied sections
Posts: 9369
Joined: 02 Sep 2006 20:31
Location: USA

Re: Submarines versus Pedestal Convoy?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 30 Nov 2022 04:14

Wargames wrote:
30 Nov 2022 03:26
Does anyone know if the British navy ever entered French territorial waters (Tunisia) at night to avoid interception?

A few single cargo ships were routed that way. I don't recall the details. There is a entry on Wiki that lists about every convoy and individual ship sent through the central Mediteraneian from June 1940 through 1942. Id not recommend citing from it, but it is a fast overview of the British efforts.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malta_convoys

EwenS
Member
Posts: 320
Joined: 04 May 2020 11:37
Location: Scotland

Re: Submarines versus Pedestal Convoy?

Post by EwenS » 30 Nov 2022 15:42

Some more details here:-
https://www.naval-history.net/xAH-MaltaSupply01b.htm

Convoys on page 1. Individual sailings on page 2.

EwenS
Member
Posts: 320
Joined: 04 May 2020 11:37
Location: Scotland

Re: Submarines versus Pedestal Convoy?

Post by EwenS » 30 Nov 2022 16:10

Wargames wrote:
30 Nov 2022 03:26
Does anyone know if the British navy ever entered French territorial waters (Tunisia) at night to avoid interception?
In those days territorial waters claimed by most nations (including Britain & France) exteneded 3 miles from shore and not the 12 now set by the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Which is pretty close to shore in waters with navigational difficulties.

Occasionally RN ships did use Tunisian territorial waters to round Cap Bon. On 9/10 May 1942 the minelayer Welshman did so while making a fast run to Malta with supplies. But then she was disguised as a French destroyer and was flying the French flag. But that is the only one of her Malta runs where that is mentioned.

Carl Schwamberger
Host - Allied sections
Posts: 9369
Joined: 02 Sep 2006 20:31
Location: USA

Re: Submarines versus Pedestal Convoy?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 30 Nov 2022 18:11

The SS Parracombe was disguised as a Spanish merchant ship. it appears it was to run in close to the African coast & skirt Cap Bon. Its not clear if it actually did. it hit a mine and sank along the way.

SS Welshman made part of its voyage hugging the Algerian coast in July 1942. & made a high speed night run through the Sicilian strait. No indication if it stayed close to the Tunisian coast, but as was pointed out earlier shoals & reefs made for difficulties moving at full speed close in. more so at night.

User avatar
Urmel
Member
Posts: 4552
Joined: 25 Aug 2008 09:34
Location: The late JBond

Re: Submarines versus Pedestal Convoy?

Post by Urmel » 01 Dec 2022 22:49

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
30 Nov 2022 18:11
The SS Parracombe was disguised as a Spanish merchant ship. it appears it was to run in close to the African coast & skirt Cap Bon. Its not clear if it actually did. it hit a mine and sank along the way.

SS Welshman made part of its voyage hugging the Algerian coast in July 1942. & made a high speed night run through the Sicilian strait. No indication if it stayed close to the Tunisian coast, but as was pointed out earlier shoals & reefs made for difficulties moving at full speed close in. more so at night.
4 Destroyer Flotilla went through Tunisian waters 12/13 December when racing to intercept di Giussano and da Barbiano at Cape Bon. The battle itself took place 2 miles off the Cape.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

Carl Schwamberger
Host - Allied sections
Posts: 9369
Joined: 02 Sep 2006 20:31
Location: USA

Re: Submarines versus Pedestal Convoy?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 02 Dec 2022 03:38

Urmel wrote:
01 Dec 2022 22:49
.. 4 Destroyer Flotilla went through Tunisian waters 12/13 December when racing to intercept di Giussano and da Barbiano at Cape Bon. The battle itself took place 2 miles off the Cape.
December 1941 or 1940?

Wargames
Member
Posts: 426
Joined: 12 Nov 2006 20:11
Location: USA

Re: Submarines versus Pedestal Convoy?

Post by Wargames » 02 Dec 2022 07:52

December 1941 or 1940?
1941

Frollo
Member
Posts: 34
Joined: 06 Dec 2021 13:56
Location: Milan

Re: Submarines versus Pedestal Convoy?

Post by Frollo » 07 Dec 2022 11:59

EwenS wrote:
28 Nov 2022 21:55
2. It was still daylight so the attacks were made submerged.
Not all of them. Bronzo, for instance, carried out her attack in the evening, on the surface.

Volume II of Le azioni navali (1 April 1941-8 September 1943) of the USMM official history of the second world war contains in the appendix the reports of all the submarines that participated in the attacks on Pedestal, by the way.

Felix C
Member
Posts: 1176
Joined: 04 Jul 2007 16:25
Location: Miami, Fl

Re: Submarines versus Pedestal Convoy?

Post by Felix C » 12 Dec 2022 15:28

Regarding Bronzo
12 Aug 1942
At 1905 hours 37° 37'N, 10° 15'E At 1905 hours, a convoy was sighted at a distance of 10,000 metres, steering 100° at 12 knots. This was the PEDESTAL convoy. The submarine moved eastward to close, sighting several ships burning.
At 1956 hours, a freighter was observed to be hit aft.
At 1958 hours, a freighter was hit by a torpedo and was listing. Shortly after, another vessel was hit beyond it. Twelve freighters and warships could be counted.
At 2023 hours, another vessel was hit..
At 2205 37° 30'N, 10° 10'E At 2205 hours, two cruisers and a destroyer were sighted at a distance of 5,000 metres, course 090°, 12 knots. Bronzo tried in vain to close to attack.
12 Aug 1942 2346 37° 34'N, 10° 34'E At 2302 hours, a 13,000-ton tanker on fire astern and crawling at 3 knots was sighted.
At 2346 hours, two torpedoes were fired from bow tubes at a range of 1,200 metres. They missed due to a defect in the gyro angles.
At 2348 hours, a third torpedo was fired from a bow tube. It was claimed to have hit. Due to the confusion of the action, it is difficult to determine the target.

Wargames
Member
Posts: 426
Joined: 12 Nov 2006 20:11
Location: USA

Re: Submarines versus Pedestal Convoy?

Post by Wargames » 13 Dec 2022 01:04

So why didn't the Axis hunt off Cape Bonn earlier?

Return to “WW2 in Africa & the Mediterranean”