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ORP Sokól
Commander Boris Karnicki, VM*, DSO*, Virtuti Militari (Polish).

Originally HMS Urchin this boat was transferred to the Polish Navy & renamed ORP Sokól


Sinkings - 1 Destroyer, 2 Supply ships, 1 Schooner. 7,642 tons

Log of Patrols

1st Patrol Attacked a heavily escorted convoy northwest of Naples. She hit & damaged the auxilliary motor cruiser Citta di Palermo.
On returning to Malta during the night torpedoes were fired at a merchantman which missed. Karnicki surfaced & attacked the ship with their 12 pounder deck gun & at only 50 yards sank the ship. This could have been the Balilla.
2nd Patrol Patrolled with 4 other 'U' class submarines. This group were sent all over the Ionian Sea before finally being sent to Navarin Harbour where 3 important merchantmen & an escort were at anchor. The entrance was narrow. Karnicki's plan was to enter the harbour & sink all the ships starting with the escort. Shortly after dawn he made his run for the entrance but hit the bottom at 38 feet & bounced up to 28 feet. She dropped to 45 feet & made for the entrance. He raised periscope but the glare from the rising sun made it difficult to see a harbour mark so dived back to 45 feet. The sound of wires were heard down the boats side & they came to a stop. A mine exploded & the boat jumped 2 feet. Both motors stopped & the tanks flooded. The crew scrambled aft to keep the stern from breaking surface. She had become entangled in a net. The boat was put into reverse & jerked backwards & forwards until after 3 minutes she broke clear & sank to 130 feet. Despite 2 motor boats being heard overhead they were not attacked & slipped away.
Karnicki was not to be beaten & layed off the entrance waiting for the ships to come out. Three torpedoes were fired through the hole they had earlier made in the net. One ran amok before heading in the right direction. The sound of 2 explosions were heard & the sound of a ship breaking up. This was likely to be one of the destroyers.
The other destroyer & 2 motor boats dropped a total of 72 depth charges without hitting Sokol.
Sokol surfaced after chasing the convoy & fired 2 torpedoes at one of the merchantmen which was hit & possibly sank.
17th March 1942 Returned to Malta's Lazaretto Creek. The submarine base was targeted in bombing raids & at about 1600 hrs a stick of 5 bombs hit the water close to the boat. This caused 46 battery cells to crack & damaged air & water lines. The telemotor system was fractured & ever manometer & guage onboard was smashed. Torpedo warheads moved forward 1+".
18th March - Torpedoes were unloaded under continuous air raids from dawn to dusk. The boat needed to be towed round to the dockyard in Grand Harbour & this journey started at 1700 hrs on March 19th. Two Me 109's saw the boat & attacked with canon & machine guns. Eight canon shells hit the boat but recorded only slight damage. The boat made the dockyard during the morning.
20th - Dockyard workers refused to replace the batteries as they were under constant air raids.
21st - Sokol's crew began work on replacing the damaged batteries. No.2 battery was completed. Also in the dockyard were Urge, P31 & P35. These 3 boats were taken out of Grand Harbour as a convoy was approaching which meant the area would receive concentrated air attacks.
22nd - Sokol left the dockyard during the night.
23rd - The convoy entered the harbour & the raids resumed. This was convoy MW 10 (also called Operation Salvation).
24th - Very heavy raids in the harbour area.
25th - The submarine base in Lazaretto Creek was heavily bombed.
26th - Sokol had been berthed at Machinery Wharf. Fifteen bombs fell around the boat including a 1,000 pounder on the dock which failed to go off.
27th - Three more heavy raids on the harbour.
28th - No raids today so repair work could be done without interruption.
29th - Raids sometimes by single aircraft continued all through the day for 12 hours.
30th - Repairs completed. Left Dockyard Creek for French Creek to be degaussed.
31st - Degaussing completed. Heavy raids all day. At 2000 hrs 40 bombers attacked the harbour. Three one ton bombs fell ten yards from the boat causing 98 battery cells to crack, many plates to break & chlorine gas to fill the boat. The crew worked in gas marsks all night to repair the boat.
1st April - Made it to the dockyard for repairs.
3rd April - Repairs still ongoing to replace 10 damaged cells daily. This despite 20 double red air raid warnings during the day.
4th April - By noon 31 damaged cells had been replaced. Work was halted due to a power failure in the docks. Raids resumed. The boat was moved during the night to Bighi Creek alongside the hull of Essex an 11,000 ton ship. Camoflague nets were used to cover her.
5th April - In a raid bombs fell near Essex & it was decided to move Sokol again to the dockyard where 66 cells in No.1 battery were removed. The crew of P39 also helped in this work. Moved to Marsa to lie in amongst the wreckage of ships & in particular under a leaning supply ship beached in the bay.
6th April - Sokol was spotted by a reconnaissance plane & later bombed but escaped damage.
7th April - The army assisted by providing more camoflague netting. Three more raids (consisting of 300 bombers) on Marsa caused heavy damage to buildings. Twelve barges were sunk in these raids. Sokol escaped damage.
8th April - Four more heavy raids by 300 bombers finished off most of any buildings still standing in Marsa.All the barges in the vcreek were by now sunk. Sokol now had over 400 holes to the casing, conning tower & pressure hull. Damage also to air & water pipes. Fire from a close explosion singed off the camoflague netting.
9th April - Sokol moved alongside Essex again & camoflagued with netting. At night she was moved to the dockyard where the 66 cells removed earlier were replaced with new ones.
10th April - Returned to Essex. No repairs possible during the night due to power failure.
11th April - More heavy raids, still no power.
12th April - The Luftwaffe now targeted the Essex to try to sink the submarine. Essex was hit & caught fire but Sokol was undamaged. During the night she was moved to the dockyard again & repairs to the batteries were completed. Sokol dived in Bighi Bay.
13th April - Stayed submerged.
14th April - Stayed submerged during the day but surfaced after dark to continue preparations for sea.
15th April - Stayed submerged during the day but returned to the dockyard for repairs to the bifocal periscope & a patch put on the pressure hull. Caught the starboard propeller on the boom & was knocked about before getting free & returning to the dockyard for repairs.
16th April - Sokol surfaced at noon & returned to the dockyard for provions for sea.
17th April - At 06.00 hrs Sokol finally set out to sea 31 days after returning to Malta. Fifteen days later she arrived at Gibraltar en route to the UK.

Also sent to the Mediterranean were Sokol's sister ships Orzel & Wilk.