UK WW2 submarines - missing from history?

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by ARPCDHG, Aug 25, 2020.


    ARPCDHG Member

    There's lots of books and documentaries about German U-boats but I've always wondered why is there so little about Royal Navy submarines? Did they not have much success as their German counterparts? Were there far fewer of them? Thanks
  2. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    This may help British Submarines in World War 2
    Very basically RN Submarines were very effective in the Mediterranean. Elsewhere they did not have a comparable number of targets that the U-boats had. ie: Atlantic convoys.

    Hugh MacLean and ARPCDHG like this.
  3. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

    You will find details of most British submarines movements and patrols on, of all places,! Drill down from each class to find each boat’s history, along with interactive maps of their patrols.
    Submarines - Allied Warships of WWII -

    British subs were extremely active in the Far East from late 1943, sinking two Japanese cruisers, Kuma by Tally Ho, in Jan 1944, and Ashigara by Trenchant in June 1945. Amongst the last VCs of WW2 were 2 for crew members of XE3, a midget sub, which attacked and further damaged Takao in Singapore harbour in July 1945. By the end of the war British subs were operating from Ceylon, Fremantle in Australia and Subic Bay in the Philippines.

    You might also find this site of interest.

    Books that might interest you would be

    Another I remember from my youth is
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  4. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian

    After visiting the submarine museum I read Edward Young's book last year and very much enjoyed it.
  5. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned


    Young with a crew member
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  6. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    I kind of agree.
    Obviously, there're specialists in the area, and you gradually pick up stuff by osmosis if interested in the war, but they don't really get much of a mention in the 'popular historiography' (whatever that is...).
    My assumption is it's not unrelated to the Tiger issue. The German boats, along with Kretschmer, Topp, Prien etc. have acquired a certain 'romance', for want of a better word. Maybe another trace of Silly-bugger-Goebbels & Signal's propaganda work.

    Do have the impression the British chaps had a good, if maybe underrated war. (If 'good' can ever be applied to fighting in grisly tubes of stink & death).
    Gosport's Sub museum certainly opens an eye or two as to how their campaigns went.
    Enjoyed Mr Friedman's book on typology: Book Review - British Submarines in Two World Wars - Friedman

    Crew of the U-class submarine HMS Utmost displaying their Jolly Roger at Holy Loch in Scotland after a successful year's service in the Mediterranean, 6 February 1942.
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  7. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    On which submarine was this photo taken?

  8. Orwell1984

    Orwell1984 Senior Member

    For the big picture along with photos maps and all,
    I'd recommend British and Allied Submarine
    Operations in World War II
    by Vice Admiral Sir Arthur Hezlet KBE CB DSO* DSC
    Published in a limited edition 2 volume in 2001 by The Royal Navy Submarine Museum, it is available online for free here:
    Index 2

    For general history here are three titles I found useful:
    Good bibliography for further reading
    Malta submarines by a former submariner

    Excellent history of the early years where the RN submarines had some notable successes, particularly off Norway.
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  9. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Google image search..
    (Tried IWM collections but get an error.)

    File:Edward Young.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

    IWM site working again.
    Their caption says ...

    [​IMG] THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR. © IWM (A 28122) IWM Non Commercial License
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2020

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