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Old 21st November 2021, 16:08
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Sinking of HMT Thorbryn 19-8-41 off Tobruk

HMT Thorbryn was a sub hunter converted from a Norwegian trawler. In the early hours of 19 Aug 41 she was on the Tobruk run, towing two D-lighters (maybe LCMs off HMS Glengyle?), accompanied by LCT 12. There is a bit of confusion around what happened when at 0730am (Berlin) a Stuka party set upon the convoy.

The general story is that both vessels were sunk by German Stukas. looking throug the record, a number of things appear:

1) the Germans recorded that German attacks sank a 1,500t merchant (LCT12?) and two tugs and that Italian planes sank a sub hunter, the surviving crew of which was captured. Could have been HMT Thorbryn or the Germans could have mistaken Thorbryn for a 1,500t merchant and LCT12 for a sub-hunter?
2) There is no record of any mission against shipping in the Comando Supremo war diary, the 5a Squadra war diary, and the history of the Italian Stuka squadrons.
3) There is no record of a 1,500t merchant being sunk that day.

Any ideas what happened there?

All the best

Andreas
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Old 21st November 2021, 19:18
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Re: Sinking of HMT Thorbryn 19-8-41 off Tobruk

Andreas,

You may already have all of this, but...

According to Anlage 5 of Lagebericht 729 (7.9.41) the attacks were made by II./St.G.2 (X. Fl.K.). The 1500t ship is listed as a "transporter" and the other (of 500t) listed as a "Schlepper".

The location is recorded as 20 km East of Tobruk.

The attack on the "Transporter" is recorded as stated 07.30 hrs whereas the "Schlepper" is recorded as 08.12 hrs.

Bombs were 8 SC and 8 SD 250 for the "Transporter" - sunk by multiple direct hits; and 6 SC and 6 SD 250s for the "Schlepper" - direct hit, sunk.

In my copy of the corresponding Lagebericht for 19.8.41 I cannot find anything relating to the Med.


I have had a look in "RN Ships damaged or Sunk by Enemy Action" and there is nothing for 19.8.41, although it does not cover Trawlers.

Incidentally, Wrecksite.eu records that the Thorbyrn was originally a whaler. This site records the sinking of both vessels and identifies some of the crew.

Misidentification in anti-shipping attacks is common - there is one instance in the battle for Norway where the Luftwaffe identified the ship being attacked as a 6000t cruiser when it was a 1000t sloop.
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Last edited by Andy Mitchell; 21st November 2021 at 19:20. Reason: Corrected date of lagebericht
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Old 21st November 2021, 19:23
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Re: Sinking of HMT Thorbryn 19-8-41 off Tobruk

ULTRA decrypts for the relevant period are in:

DEFE 3/688 (army and Luftwaffe traffic): https://discovery.nationalarchives.g...ils/r/C1910585

DEFE 3/832 (Italian naval traffic): https://discovery.nationalarchives.g...ils/r/C1910729

DEFE 3/25 (naval traffic): https://discovery.nationalarchives.g...ils/r/C1909922

All viewable or downloadable free of charge.
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Old 21st November 2021, 19:45
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Re: Sinking of HMT Thorbryn 19-8-41 off Tobruk

Thank you both.

Andy, may I ask which Lagebericht this is?

I consider that this comprehensively addresses the issue, leaving only the question why the North African army staffs noted that the Italian air force was involved, when even the latter did not report that it was. One of the small mysteries that will remain unsolved, I guess.

All the best

Andreas
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Old 21st November 2021, 19:46
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Re: Sinking of HMT Thorbryn 19-8-41 off Tobruk

Andreas,

This is from Naval-History.net

"Whaler THORBRYN (Lt Cdr J. F. Hall RNR), towing two D.lighters, was sunk by German bombing in 32N, 24-09-15E off Tobruk.


T/Lt D. C. Wilson RNVR, T/Lt W. B. Chisholm RNVR, and six ratings were killed on the whaler.

Hall, T/Sub Lt (E) R. Firing RNVR, T/Lt (E) K. A. Larsen RNR, and sixteen ratings were taken prisoner.

One D lighter was sunk and the second drifted onto the enemy coast. Skipper P. D. Jackson RNR, was killed and T/Skipper J. J. Fortune RNR taken prisoner."

Unfortunately, no references identified.
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Old 21st November 2021, 19:58
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Re: Sinking of HMT Thorbryn 19-8-41 off Tobruk

Andreas,

This was in Lagebericht Nr 729. It is a page of Anlage 5 covering merchant vessels attacked in the Med during August 1941. My copy is a pdf version from T77 R0924 PG(?)80462 covering 4.9.41 to 14.9.41. Contact me via PM and I can send you a copy. I checked the other pages of the Anlage and there is nothing else for 19.8.41 in the Med.

The Lagebericht that covers 19.8.41 is Nr 711 of 20.8.41 this is in T077 R0923 PG(?) 80460 - checked again nothing in there for the Med just UK and the attack on Russia. Again if you want a copy let me know.
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Old 22nd November 2021, 16:24
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Re: Sinking of HMT Thorbryn 19-8-41 off Tobruk

Thank you so much again Andy. Let me have a look if I can dig these Lageberichte out myself, as I would really like to see what there is for the CRUSADER period.

Many many thanks also for taking the time in clearing this up!

All the best

Andreas
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