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The submarine base on Malta was situated on Manoel Island on Lazaretto Creek. This was commissioned as HMS Talbot.

From January 1st 1941 to May 1st 1942 15 submarines of the 10th Flotilla sank 75 enemy ships comprising 4 cruisers, 5 destroyers, 6 submarines,
6 transports, 39 supply ships, 6 tankers, 1 AMC & 8 other miscellaneous vessels.
Total tonnage sunk - 400,000 tons.

Submarines known to have been in the Mediterranean during WWII
Those with links open to a more detailed page. This is a very complex area I am working on.

Ursula Class
Odin Class

Submarine Supply Ships (Depot Ships)

Headquarters Staff

Photo courtesy of John Barnett

Commander G.W.G.'Shrimp' Simpson, CB, CBE. Commander Malta Submarine Base 1942 - 1944.
Simpson arrived in Malta on 8th January 1941.

  Commander G.Turner, OBE
  Lt Commander (E).S.A.MacGregor, OBE - Did some great work in maintaining & repairs to the base & submarines.
  Lt. Commander R.Giddings, OBE
  Captain Cheeseman - Senior Medical Officer. Killed in a bombing raid while onshore on the evening of 2nd March 1942.

Lazaretto Creek, Manoel Island as it was during WWII.
Submarine Headquarters was the building on the right.
Photo courtesy of Barbara Hopkins.


The first submarines to work out of Malta were the large 'P' & 'R' class types. Submarines could be seen in the clear waters of the Mediterranean & the larger the submarine the easier it was to spot. These types suffered many losses. These large types were replaced by the smaller 'U' class types which were more manoeverable.
The Submarine base was Manoel Island in Marsamuscetto Bay to the north of Valletta. This Island was connected to the mainland by a causeway. The Knights of St.John built a Fort here to act as a defense against the Turks in the years leading up to the first great siege of Malta in 1565.
Submarines coming in for refuelling / rest for crews had to lay submerged through the bombing but whether by good aiming or stray bombing some submarines were hit whilst laying on the bottom.
Submarines made continual supply drops to Malta (this was called Operation Magic Carpet) during the siege & these drops along with the fast minelayers - Manxman & Welshman were a vital resupply source between convoys which were invariably hit hard with much of their precious cargo sent to the bottom of the Mediterranean.
HMS Cachalot, Porpoise, Rorqual, Osiris, Otus & Urge made supply drops to Malta including medical stores, kerosene, mail bags, powdered milk, armour piercing shells & petrol.
They were very much a force taking the fight to the enemy when Malta was being hit hard. Patrols would lay off Calabria on Italian soil & shell the railway line which ran close to the coast. This would disrupt lines of communication. Raiding parties would also be dropped by folding canoe to disrupt other communications. Some time later during pre-invasion (of Sicily) preparations raiding parties would be dropped on Sicilian beaches to scout potential landing sites, take inshore depth soundings & assess enemy concentrations.
These submarines would attack Italian re-supply convoys on their way to Tripoli from Italy. The Kerkenah Bank was a notable hunting ground & many Italian & German merchantmen were sent to the bottom here. In March 1940 the submarines Unique, Utmost & Upright all took part in sinkings in this area.
In February however Upright sunk the Italian cruiser Armando Diaz off the Kerkenah Bank.
On the 9th March Utmost (Lieutenant Commander R. D. Caylet) torpedoed & sank the Italian merchantman Capo Vita. The following day Unique (Lieutenant A. F. Collett) sank the Fenicia.
On the 19th Utmost fell in with 5 Axis merchantmen on their way to re-supply the Afrika Korps. On the 28th she torpedoed the Ruhr & the Heraklia. The Heraklia sank but the Ruhr survived & was towed to port. After unloading their cargo in Tripoli the convoy returned to Italy. On the way Upright (Leiutenant E. D. Norman) torpedoed the Galilea which sustained severe damage.
Between April 1941 & March 1942 Upholder (Commander Malcolm D. Wanklyn VC, DSO) sank 10 merchant ships - 3 of which were troop carriers (over 18,000 tons); 1 destroyer; 2 U-Boats & damaged a cruiser & 3 other merchantmen. The Upholder was finally lost off the coast of Tripoli in April 1942.
The Rorqual & the Cachalot were 2 submarines which ran supplies into Malta during the night from Alexandria in these early years..

It is interesting to note that maps taken from prisoners showed the submarine base at Lazaretto to be in another creek.

On the 24th March 1942 the 10th Flotilla now consisting of Una, Urge, P31, P34 & P35 left Malta for Alexandria. Urge was lost after leaving Malta. She dived but never surfaced.
The 10th Flotilla returned to Malta before the siege was lifted with new submarines & rested crews.

I am trying to put as much information or links to other sites as I can. This is a complex area to put into one part of this site & I recommend looking into other sites linked.

Axis Shipping sunk

August 1941 50,000 tons

Unknown submarine Taken on 25th May 1941. The photo was taken from Msida Bastion.
Photo courtesy of Michael Longyear.

Lazaretto Creek, Manoel Island taken 2010. Submarine Headquarters - The building was used to quarantine incomers to prevent the spread of bubonic plague in olden days.
Hit by bombs & mines ('G' type) on Friday 13th February 1942.

Pandorus and Proteous in dry dock, Gibraltar. Possibly taken in the early 1930's. HMS Lucia in the background.
Photo courtesy of Ron

Photo Courtesy of Joanne Kenny

Photo Courtesy of Joanne Kenny

Photo Courtesy of Joanne Kenny

Photo Courtesy of Joanne Kenny

Photo Courtesy of Joanne Kenny

Unknown Submarine. 'U' Class. High bow could make this Upholder.
Photo courtesy of Tony Cox.

Unknown submarine between Valletta & Manoel Island.

Unknown Submarine, Malta.
Photo courtesy of Paul Lazell


Captain Sydney Raw - Captain 1st Submarine Flotilla.

HMS Sealion taken pre war, January 1936
Photo courtesy of Norman Tarrant


One of the diversions on the submarine base at Lararetto was the keeping of pigs, also referred to as the 'Lazaretto swine' & 'Snow White & the Seven Dwarves' (Snow White was the original sow & the dwarves her piglets). Two other pigs were called 'Mare' & 'Nostrum'.

The Cinema

Before the raids a small cinema was set up at the base with the acquisition of a projector & several hundred seats. Local cinema managers lent out movies which were changed twice weekly. This proved popular & 2 shows a day were on at 4.30 & 8.30. Entry was sixpence a time. This was called the 'Lazaritz'.

Taken in 2006 this is a mock up of a submarine used in the film U571 berthed at Dragutt Point.
Other vessels ( 2 ) from the film were berthed at the entrance to Marsa Canal.


Siege Malta 1940 - 1943. Ernle Bradford.  
Periscope Patrol - John Frayn Turner Royal Navy Submarine Museum Paxman Engines