Many of my early days of submarining were spent in and around areas that are considered choke points for global navigation. Without revealing too many details, the hunting near certain places has always been richer because of the availability of certain vessels of interest.The Bluejackets manual I received in Boot Camp at Great Lakes Illinois provided the basis for much of the training in that period of my career. In the introduction to the Navy Section, the discussion about the importance of sea power is predominant. From the manual:
Sea power means many things. It means freedom of the seas, so that ocean commerce can bring to the United States the strategic raw materials we must import from overseas- petroleum, coffee, rubber, sugar, aluminum, and over 60 others. And it also means control of the seas when necessary – the ability to use the oceans when and where our national interests require it and to prevent unfriendly nations from using them. Last of all, sea power means freedom, not only for the United States, but for the free world.
Thirty years before those words were written, the world was engaged in a World War that was certainly affected by the control of the seas. Germany had limited success with its surface fleet but managed to play a very powerful card with the use of its submarine fleet. Their allies, the Japanese and Italians also had fleets that had an impact on Allied planning and operations. Italian surrender in 1943 set into motion a chain of events that would climax on Valentine’s Day 1944. The story unfolded on one of the world’s shipping choke points and is yet another chapter in submarine warfare that escaped most history books.
The HMS Tally-Ho was a British submarine of the third group of the T class. She was built as P317 by Vickers Armstrong, Barrow, and John Brown & Company, Clydebank, and launched on 23 December 1942. So far she has been the only ship of the Royal Navy to bear the name Tally-Ho, probably after Tally-ho, a hunting call.
While commanded by Captain Leslie W. A. Bennington DSO and Bar, DSC and two Bars, Tally-Ho served in the Far East for much of her wartime career, where she sank 13 small Japanese sailing vessels, a Japanese coaster, the Japanese water carrier Kisogawa Maru, the Japanese army cargo ships Ryuko and Daigen Maru No.6, the Japanese auxiliary submarine chaser Cha 2, and the Japanese auxiliary minelayer Ma 4. She also damaged a small Japanese motor vessel, and laid mines, one of which damaged the Japanese merchant tanker Nichiyoku Maru.
On 11 January 1944, Tally-Ho, then based out of Trincomalee, Ceylon spotted the Japanese light cruiser Kuma and Uranami on anti-submarine warfare exercises about 10 miles (16 km) northwest of Penang. Tally-Ho fired a seven-torpedo salvo at the Japanese cruiser from 1,900 yards, hitting her starboard aft with two torpedoes, and setting the ship on fire. Kuma sank by the stern in the vicinity of 05°26′N 99°52′E.
The action of 14 February 1944
The Action of 14 February 1944 refers to the sinking of a German U-boat off the Strait of Malacca during World War II by a British submarine. It was one of the few naval engagements of the Asian and Pacific theater involving German and Italian forces.
Following Italy’s surrender to the Allies, a group of Italian submarines — including the Reginaldo Giuliani — were interned at Singapore by the occupying Japanese military on 10 September 1943. The Japanese turned the vessels over to the Kriegsmarine which operated several bases in Southeast Asia. Reginaldo Giuliani had been converted to cargo service after being found unsatisfactory in an offensive role. The Kriegsmarine renamed her UIT-23, and she sailed for France on 15 February 1944 under the command of Oberleutnant zur See Werner Striegler with a cargo of tin, quinine and other goods. Aboard UIT-23 were several Italian submariners who made up part of the boat’s crew.
The submarine was cruising on the surface about 41 ft 6 in (12.65 m) eighty miles south of Penang, Malaysia just off the western mouth of the Strait of Malacca when it was discovered by the British submarine HMS Tally-Ho, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Leslie William Abel Bennington of the 4th Submarine Flotilla. Tally-Ho was campaigning in the strait, where she sank several enemy vessels. Lt. Cdr. Bennington was also cruising on the surface, patrolling for enemy shipping, when she sighted UIT-23 in the daytime. Tally-Ho attacked at full speed. Tally-Ho and UIT-23 were headed straight for one another when they both fired a spread of torpedoes.
Only Tally-Ho made hits, and UIT-23 quickly sank at position 04º27’N, 100º11’E with a loss of 26 men. Fourteen men went into the water where they remained for some time before being rescued by Axis seaplanes and taken to Penang. The survivors were forced to strap themselves to the floats of the planes where they rode out the eighty miles back to base.
Tally-Ho went on to have greater adventures and lasted as an operational submarine in the Royal Navy until well after the war was finished. She was finally retired and scrapped in 1967.
Her whole story is available here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Tally-Ho_(P317)
Note: There are differing histories on the actual date of the sinking but the British Records seem to be consistent with the February 14th date for the Action itself.