As we pay tribute all those who have given their lives in service of their country, here we highlight just one example from the may thousands of sacrifices made by the men of the Royal Navy.
HMS Urge – Malta, May 1942
HMS Urge was built in Barrow at the beginning of WWII and launched in 1940. From 1941 she joined the celebrated 10th Submarine Flotilla based in Malta. Despite the heavy air attacks on the island, this force of Royal Navy submarines played a large part in cutting off supplies to the Germans in North Africa and crippling the Italian navy. During a spectacular career she sunk and Italian cruiser, damaged a battleship and attacked numerous merchant ships. She also pioneered the hazardous work of landing and recovering commandos and agents on the Italian coast. The resilience and courage of her crew to conduct 20 successful war patrols in an intense 12-month period was outstanding. The U-class were small boats with cramped basic accommodation and losses in the submarine service were severe. 11 Royal Navy submarines were lost in 1941 and 13 lost during 1942 in the Mediterranean alone.
The submarine was adopted by the town of Bridgend which raised £300,000 during “Warship Week” in 1941 (the equivalent of about £15 Million today). From 1941-42 HMS Urge received parcels of food and luxuries from the people of Bridgend and the crew was looking forward to a parade through the town if they had returned to the UK.
HMS Urge sailed from Malta on 27th April 1942 and was never seen again. She was reported as overdue on 6th May 1942 and the families never knew exactly what happened to their missing men. More than 77 years later, on 30th October 2019, the MoD confirmed that the wreck of HMS Urge has been located just 2 miles from Grand Harbour. The wreck is in good condition and upright on the seabed but the bows of the boat are severely damaged indicating she struck a mine and probably sank quickly. Her entire crew of 34 perished together with 10 additional passengers, including the respected war correspondent Bernard Gray, being carried as part of the evacuation of the 10th Submarine Flotilla from Malta to Alexandria.
Rest in peace brave submariners.