Allied Warships

HMS P 38 (P 38)

Submarine of the U class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeSubmarine
ClassU 
PennantP 38 
Built byVickers Armstrong (Barrow-in-Furness, U.K.) 
Ordered11 Mar 1940 
Laid down2 Sep 1940 
Launched9 Jul 1941 
Commissioned17 Oct 1941 
Lost23 Feb 1942 
Loss position32° 48'N, 14° 58'E
History

HMS P 38 (Lt. Rowland John Hemingway, DSC, RN) left Malta on 16 February 1942 to intercept a convoy off Tripoli. By the 23rd she was in position as the convoy hove into view. Amongst the convoy was the Italian torpedo boat Circe. At 0800 the Circe reported a contact with a submarine and that she turned in to attack. A periscope was sighted but was quickly replaced by bubbles as the submarine dived realising it had been spotted. At 1050 after a flurry of attacks P 38 rose stern first out of the water, her propellers turning wildly, before crashing back beneath the waves. A large patch of oil appeared on the surface as well as debris and human remains, clear evidence of the submarine’s destruction. P 38 was sunk some 90 nautical miles east of Tripoli, Libya in position 32º48'N, 14º58'E. There were no survivors.  

Commands listed for HMS P 38 (P 38)

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CommanderFromTo
1Lt. Rowland John Hemingway, DSC, RN15 Sep 194123 Feb 1942 (+)

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Notable events involving P 38 include:


The history of HMS P 38 as compiled on this page is extracted from P 38's patrol reports and logbook (only December 1941 is available). Corrections and details regarding information from the enemy's side (for instance the composition of convoys attacked) is kindly provided by Mr. Platon Alexiades, a naval researcher from Canada.

This page was last updated in October 2014.

16 Oct 1941
HMS P 38 (Lt. R.J. Hemingway, DSC, RN) departed her builders yard at Barrow for Holy Loch. She made the passage together with P 612 / Murat Reis (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Hall, RN). They were escorted by HMS La Capricieuse (Lt.Cdr. G.W. Dobson, RNR). (1)

17 Oct 1941
HMS P 38 (Lt. R.J. Hemingway, DSC, RN) arrived at Holy Loch for a period of trials and training. (1)

7 Nov 1941
HMS P 38 (Lt. R.J. Hemingway, DSC, RN) departed Holy Loch for her 1st war patrol. She wss to patrol in the North Atlsntic to the south-west of Ireland for an anti-uboat patrol. During passage south through the Irish Sea she was escorted by HMS La Capricieuse (Lt.Cdr. G.W. Dobson, RNR) until 2050/9.

As no log is available for this period and as the patrol report does not give daily positions no map can be displayed. (2)

17 Nov 1941
At 0015 hours HMS P 38 (Lt. R.J. Hemingway, DSC, RN) lost her officer of the watch overboard. T/S.Lt. M.H. Christopher, DSM, RNVR was washed overboard in very bad weather and could not be found. (2)

22 Nov 1941
HMS P 38 (Lt. R.J. Hemingway, DSC, RN) ended her 1st war patrol at Portsmouth. (2)

4 Dec 1941
HMS P 38 (Lt. R.J. Hemingway, DSC, RN) conducted diving trials off Portsmouth. (3)

7 Dec 1941
HMS P 38 (Lt. R.J. Hemingway, DSC, RN) departed Portsmouth for her 2nd war patrol. She was to patrol to the south of Ireland on an anti-uboat patrol.

For the daily positions of HMS P 38 during this patrol see the map below.

(2)

18 Dec 1941
HMS P 38 (Lt. R.J. Hemingway, DSC, RN) ended her 2nd war patrol at Plymouth. (2)

20 Dec 1941
HMS P 38 (Lt. R.J. Hemingway, DSC, RN) departed Plymouth for her 3rd war patrol. She was ordered to patrol off Cherbourg, France in case the German capital ships at Brest might make a run up the Channel towards Germany.

For the daily position of HMS P 38 during this patrol see the map below.

2)

22 Dec 1941
HMS P 38 (Lt. R.J. Hemingway, DSC, RN) ended her 3rd war patrol at Portsmouth. (2)

23 Dec 1941
HMS P 38 (Lt. R.J. Hemingway, DSC, RN) was docked at Portsmouth. (3)

26 Dec 1941
HMS P 38 (Lt. R.J. Hemingway, DSC, RN) was undocked and performed noise trails in the Solent. (3)

5 Jan 1942
At 1430 hours HMS P 38 (Lt. R.J. Hemingway, DSC, RN) departed Portsmouth for Gibraltar. She was escorted by HMS Kingston Jacinth (Skr. A.G. Day, RNR) until 1730 hours.

P 38 was to proceed to Malta where she was to join the 10th submarine flotilla.

For the daily positions of HMS P 38 during this passage see the map below.

(4)

14 Jan 1942
HMS P 38 (Lt. R.J. Hemingway, DSC, RN) arrived at Gibraltar. (4)

19 Jan 1942
HMS P 38 (Lt. R.J. Hemingway, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar for Malta.

As no log is available for this period and as the passage report does not give daily positions no map can be displayed. (5)

29 Jan 1942
HMS P 38 (Lt. R.J. Hemingway, DSC, RN) arrived at Malta. (5)

8 Feb 1942
HMS P 38 (Lt. R.J. Hemingway, DSC, RN) departed Malta for her 4th war patrol (1st in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol off the Gulf of Hammamet. (6)

14 Feb 1942
It was most likely HMS P 38 (Lt. R.J. Hemingway, DSC, RN) that torpedoed and sank the Italian merchant Ariosto (4115 GRT, built 1902) off the coast of Tunisia. 138 Allied POW's out of 294 aboard are lost as well as 26 Italians out of 116 (crew and passengers) aboard.

Ariosto was in convoy together with the German merchant Atlas (2297 GRT, built 1927). They were escorted by the Italian destroyer Premuda and the Italian torpedo-boat Polluce.

16 Feb 1942
HMS P 38 (Lt. R.J. Hemingway, DSC, RN) is ordered to take up a patrol position to the east of Tripoli to form part of a patrol line of submarine to intercept an important southbound enemy convoy. (6)

23 Feb 1942
HMS P 38 (Lt. R.J. Hemingway, DSC, RN) is ordered to return to Malta. (6)

25 Feb 1942
HMS P 38 (Lt. R.J. Hemingway, DSC, RN) failed to arrive at Malta and is delared overdue. (6)

Sources

  1. ADM 199/400
  2. ADM 199/1833
  3. ADM 173/16873
  4. ADM 199/424
  5. ADM 199/2565
  6. ADM 199/1925

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.


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