Missing Royal Navy submarine found sunk off Malta

A submarine that has been missing for almost 80 years has been found – at the bottom of the sea off Malta.

HMS Urge left Valletta’s Grand Harbour for the north coast of Egypt on 27 April 1942 and was never seen again.

The disappearance of the sub has remained a mystery ever since, despite several failed searches. Until now.

A marine archaeology survey team from the University of Malta discovered the wreckage of the boat two miles from the coast, where it appeared to have been struck by a mine.

It is thought its 32-strong crew, along with 11 Royal Navy passengers and a journalist, were killed.

The discovery comes three years after a false alarm, when another team mistakenly thought they had found the remains of HMS Urge off Libya.

Professor Timmy Gambin said the wreck was ‘in absolutely fantastic condition’.

He said: ‘It’s sitting upright on the seabed, very proud, in the direction it was ordered to take on its way to Alexandria.’

The university said its search results had ‘established beyond doubt’ that a German mine had sunk HMS Urge as it left the British submarine base during World War Two’s siege of Malta.

The Ministry of Defence in London said it was ‘grateful’ to the Maltese team that found it and requested that ‘the vessel is undisturbed and in situ’.

HMS Urge was commanded by Lieutenant Commander Edward Tomkinson, pictured below,  and was one of 19 British U-class submarines lost in the Second World War.

Among her finest moments were severely damaging the Italian battleship Vittorio Veneto and sinking the Italian cruiser Bande Nere.

A permanent memorial is now to be erected in Malta and a commemorative service there is being planned for next year.

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