Christmas 1942

In December 1942 HMS Argonaut, had some well earned rest.

Unfortunately for the crew even though alongside and well below operational strength and mourning the loss of some of the crew she still had an important role to play.

Algiers was still not 100% secure as the following account shows:

On 4 December 1942, the Italian submarine Ambra of the Italian Royal Navy (Regia Marina) left the naval base of La Spezia, carrying three manned torpedoes and 10 commando frogmen. Air reconnaissance had discovered that the port of Algiers was crowded with Allied cargo ships, thus the Italian high command had decided to launch a combined operation involving both human torpedoes and combat swimmers carrying limpet mines.

On the evening of 10 December, Ambra reached Algiers at a depth of 18 metres (59 ft). One of the swimmers was employed as scout on the surface, and he guided the submarine toward a position 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) from the southern entrance to the harbour. He spotted six steamers at 21:45, and informed the presence of targets to Ambra by phone. The other swimmers and the manned torpedoes begun to emerge at 23:45 after some delay. The observer reported an intense reaction from the harbour defences.

The submarine awaited to recover the operators until 03:00, an hour after the original time set. Then the scout swimmer was recalled on board and Ambra departed back to La Spezia. Meanwhile, at 05:00, the explosions started to rock the freighters. Ocean Vanquisher (7,174 tons) and the Norwegian Berta (1,493 tons) sank, while Empire Centaur (7,041 tons) and Armatan (4,587 tons) were heavily damaged. The American landing ship LSM-59 became stranded on the beach. Sixteen Italian divers were captured.

Argonauts duties that day were as AA and RDF Guard ship.

  • 04:00 – Rifle fire from jetty astern Dido. Pom Pom crew Red Watch close up.
  • 06:30 – Call the hands.
  • 06:50 – Duty hands prepare fenders starboard side.
  • 07:40 – Queen Emma secured starboard side.
  • 08:00 – White watch to CS [cruising stations].
  • 09:30 – Divisions on jetty – Church followed by recreation time until 10:10.
  • 12:25 – Blue watch to CS.
  • 15:20 – Dido left harbour.
  • 16:00 – Red watch to CS.
  • 17:33 – Sunset.
  • 18:15 – Carol Service rec space.
  • 18:25 – Air raid warning red.
  • 19:20 Air raid warning white.
  • 20:00 – Blue watch to CS.
  • 21:26 – Air raid warning red.
  • 21:55 – Air raid warning white.
  • 23:05 – Air raid warning red
  • 23:59 – Red watch to CS