World War Two missing submarine, HMS Urge, discovered off Libya

Correction: This article states inaccurate and out-of-date information about the location of the HMS Urge, based on reports that were given at the time, but which were ultimately speculative and wrong. The ship in question here was not the Urge, and the Urge has now been conclusively identified and located off the coast of Malta. We apologize for the error.

After 73 years a World War Two British Royal Navy submarine that had sunk in the Mediterranean has been discovered.

The HMS Urge was a U-class submarine and was carrying a crew of 29 men and 10 passengers. It left Malta heading for Alexandria on the coast of Egypt, but it never made the full journey. The submarine was reported missing on 29th April 1942, just two days after it had left Malta.

No sure reason for its disappearance was ever discovered or decided upon.

The HMS Urge had been funded by the people of a town in Wales called Bridgend.

Now, French historian Jean-Pierre Misson believes he has located the HMS Urge from sonar data recently taken near the north coast of Libya.

The findings have been provided to Bridgend County Council in Wales and are going to be given to a local history centre so that it can be put on display and recorded for the benefit of the local people. The centre also has a commemorative plaque for the HMS Urge.

The Welsh community came to fund the submarine, since the British government launched a funding raising drive called National Warship Week in 1941. Its purpose was to raise more funds for military equipment, machinery and vessels.

Millions were raised during the week and Bridgend alone donated around £300,000. In today’s money, that would be the equivalent of around £12 million.

It funded the HMS Urge and two other warships, all of which were then adopted by the town, the Wales Online reports.

Prior to its disappearance, HMS Urge was central in the North African war front. It supported the fighting 10th squadron which was based in Malta in the fight against the Nazis. They eventually managed to cut off the supply route to Rommel’s troops in Africa, ensuring they had to retreat.

The people of Bridgend really took the submarine and her crew under their wing. The locals would send regular parcels of food and gifts for the crew. At the end of their tour of duty they were due to have a celebratory parade through the streets of Bridgend, but they never made it.

In 2011, the plaque was put in place in the town and a commemoration service took place, involving the Submariners Association and Bridgend County Council.

Hearing that HMS Urge might have been located the council has said they are hoping to hold a further commemoration to remember those who lost their lives and the contributions of the Bridgend community during the war.

The sonar readings that have been provided to the council also include deep sea photographs of the submarine. The council is encouraging its local people to visit the history centre so that they can view the findings.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE