Lost WWII submarine built in Barrow discovered after 77 years


The wreckage of a WWII submarine that was built in Barrow was discovered after 77 years.

The U-class submarine HMS Urge went missing in 1942 after apparently striking an enemy minefield.

However, almost 80 years later, the ship was located on the Mediterranean seabed off Malta by a marine archeology team.

HMS Urge was built by Vickers Armstrong at Barrow and first landed on October 30, 1939.

It was commissioned in December 1940 and had been financed by funds raised by the people of Bridgend in South Wales.

The U-class submarine left Malta for the northern coast of Egypt on April 27, 1942 but never reached its rendezvous in Alexandria on May 6.

The submarine was one of 19 U-class ships sunk during World War II.

Her crew of 32 included Leading Seaman Jesse Norris, of Rochester, and Chief Telegraph Operator Roy Rogers, of Whitstable.

There were also 11 Royal Navy passengers and a journalist on board.

The fate of HMS Urge remained a mystery until a team from the University of Malta discovered the wreckage of the submarine two miles off the coast of the island.

The discovery came after Francis Dickinson, the grandson of the submarine captain, asked the varsity team to search for an area that had been heavily mined during World War II.

Professor Timothy Gambin, who led the team, told PBS Malta that the damage to the submarine indicated that a “very violent explosion” had taken place.

He said: “The damage to the bow shows a very violent explosion, indicating that the ship would have sunk very quickly, leaving no chance for anyone to survive this tragedy.

“Besides the damage to the bow, the wreckage is in absolutely fantastic condition.

“He sits upright on the seabed, very proud, in the direction he was ordered to take on his way to Alexandria.”

In 2015, a Belgian diver claimed to have found the wreckage of the submarine off the Libyan coast, but it was not HMS Urge.

During his short career he had a number of successes, most notably the sinking of an Italian cruiser earlier in 1942.

A ceremony is planned for 2020 to declare the site an official war grave.

It is hoped that the daughter of the captain of HMS Urge will be present.

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