Ship’s dog ‘Peter’ (a.k.a. Pétain), mascot of Royal Navy submarine HMS Ursula

Peter, also known as ‘Pétain’ (one assumes after the French collaborator), was the mascot of HMS/M Ursula (N59), a U-class submarine commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1938. Peter was rescued from the German-crewed merchantman ‘Sainte Marguerite II’ which was torpedoed by Ursula on 2 December 1942. Described as “terrified” (and who wouldn’t be?) Peter was rescued from the water and adopted as the submarine’s mascot.

February 1943. Officers of HM SUBMARINE URSULA stand in front of the conning tower, which has been draped with the Jolly Roger. Left to right, they are: Sub-Lieutenant W Burley, RNVR; Lieutenant A R Profit, DSC, RN; and Lieutenant A R Marshal, RN. Lt Profit is holding their pet dog ‘Peter’.

OTDIH 6 September 1943

70-years ago today…

There were 72 U-boats at sea. The Battle of the Atlantic was most definitely not over.

U-617, a Type VIIC U-boat, on its 7th war patrol, Kptlt. Albrecht Brandi commanding, attacked HMS Puckeridge (L108) with two torpedoes approx. 40-miles east of Gibraltar. There were 62 killed and 129 survivors. Puckeridge’s wreck lays at 36º06´N, 04º44´W.

HMS Puckeridge, Hunt class destroyer escort, torpedoed and sunk by U-617 on 6 September 1943.

U-515, a Type IXC U-boat, on its 5th war patrol, Kptlt. Werner Henke commanding, after tracking the merged convoys OS-54 and KMS-25 for the whole day, closed in to attack but was sighted and had to dive. Accurate depth charging by the River-class frigate HMS Tavy (K272) drove the boat down to 820ft (50m), and caused severe damage. Henke managed to escape and broke off the patrol, reaching Lorient on 12 Sept.

HMS Tavy (K272), River-class frigate, attacked U-515 with depth charges on 6 September 1943.

HM submarines strike back in the Mediterranean.

HMS Sportsman (P229), Lt. R. Gatehouse, DSC, RN commanding, sank the Italian fishing vessels Angiolina P (39 GRT) and Maria Luisa B (37 GRT) with gunfire in the port of Aléria, Corsica, France.

HMS Sportsman (P229), S-class submarine serving in the Mediterranean, sank Italian shipping on 6 September 1943.

HMS Universal (P57), Lt. C. Gordon, RN, sank the Italian auxiliary patrol vessels V 130/Ugo (114 GRT) and V 134/Tre Sorelle (178 GRT) with gunfire west of La Spezia, Italy.

QF 3-inch 20 cwt deck gun.

OTDIH 25 July 1943

70-years ago today…

Allied losses:

Soviet minesweeper T-904 (557 GRT) struck a mine laid by U-625 (Kptlt. Hans Benker commanding) in the Yugorsky Strait.

Allied successes:

USS Pompon (Lt.Cdr. E.C. Hawk commanding) torpedoed and sunk the Japanese cargo ship Thames Maru (5871 GRT) and torpedoed and damaged the Japanese troop transport Kinsen Maru (3081 GRT) north of the Admiralty Islands.

HMS Safari (Lt. R.B. Lakin, DSO, DSC, RN commanding) sunk the Italian minesweeper FR70/La Coubre (120 GRT) with torpedoes and gunfire west of Elba.

HMS Unrivalled (Lt. H.B. Turner, DSC, RN commanding) sunk the Italian tug Iseo (80 GRT) with gunfire 1-mile south of Cape Vaticano.

Near misses:

Soviet Malyutka class submarine M-112 fired 2 torpedoes at a German barge off Yalta. Both torpedoes missed their target.

HMS Tally-Ho (Lt.Cdr. L.W.A. Bennington, DSO, DSC, RN commanding) sighted two unidentified U-boats in the Atlantic (one at position 45°50’N, 05°17’W, the other at 45°54’N, 05°18’W)

Operation Gomorrah begins:

The saturation bombing of the German port city of Hamburg began on 24 July 1943 and lasted for 8-days and 7-nights. The Royal Air Force conducted night raids while the USAAF carried out daylight raids. During the raids, firestorms occurred, creating an 1,500 °F (800 °C) inferno with 150mph (240 kmph) winds. Over 42,000 German civilians were killed during the raids.

Entering the fray:

HMS Tantivy (Cdr. Michael Gordon Rimington, DSO, RN commanding) was commissioned into the Royal Navy.

HM S/M Tantivy (Navy Photos/Mark Teadham)

OTDIH 24 July 1943

70-years ago today…

The U-boat war dragged on:

British steam merchant Fort Chilcotin (Master John Kerr) carrying 9103 tons of rock crystal and iron ore was torpedoed and sunk by U-172 (Kptlt. Carl Emmermann) on her 5th war patrol off Bahia, Brazil. There were 4 dead (from the watch below) and 53 survivors who took to boats. The survivors were picked up on 29 July (5-days in open boats, think about that) and taken to Rio de Janeiro.

Swedish tanker Pegasus (Master T. Andersson) carrying 12,855 tons of motor spirit was torpedoed and sunk by U-197 (KrvKpt. Robert Bartels) on her first war patrol southwest of Madagascar. The survivors took to boats and were rescued after a week at sea.

British steam merchant Henzada (Master William Innes McIntosh) carrying 2095 tons of chemicals was torpedoed and sunk by U-199 (Kptlt. Hans-Werner Kraus) on her first war patrol approx. 100-miles southwest of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There were 2 dead and 62 survivors who took to boats. The survivors were picked up by the Panamanian motor tanker Baltic.

The unreliability of US Navy torpedoes was highlighted:

US Navy Gato-class submarine USS Tinosa (SS-283), Lt.Cdr. L.R. Daspit commanding, torpedoed and damaged the Japanese oiler Tonan Maru No.3 (19210 GRT) west of Truk. Although the Tinosa fired 15 torpedoes, only 10 hit… and only 2 exploded. The remainder were duds.

A successful day for HM Submarines:

HMS Unrivalled, a U-class submarine, Lt. Hugh Bentley Turner, RN commanding, sunk the Italian auxiliary minesweeper R 172 / Impero (68 GRT) with gunfire off Amantea, Italy.

And now entering the fray:

USS Cabot (CVL 28), an Independence-class light fleet carrier, was commissioned into the United States Navy. The Cabot would go on to receive a Presidential Unit Citation and 9 battle stars for World War 2 service.

USS Cotton (DD 669), a Fletcher-class destroyer, was commissioned into the United States Navy. The Cotton would go on to receive 9 battle stars for World War 2 service and 1 for Korean War service.