Bridgend History



Home page

Bridgend News


The Future for Bridgend

Bridgend History


Adare Street

Brackla Street

Caroline Street

Court Road

Derwen Road

Dunraven Place

Market street

Nolton Street

Queen Street

The Rhiw

Park Street

Wyndham street

Contact Us


    Bridgend the town by the river 

The HMS Urge

A British submarine the HMS Urge that was funded by the people of Bridgend during World War Two may have been found 73 years after it sunk. The HMS Urge left Malta for Alexandria on the north coast of Egypt on 27 April 1942, and was never seen again.
However, the historian Jean-Pierre Misson claims he has identified the submarine from the sonar recordings he has  taken off Ras al Helal, Libya. The U class submarine is lying at a depth of around 150ft. His research work will shortly be available for the general public to view at the Local and Family History Centre at Ty'r Ardd, Bridgend.

On view in the Old library council office in Wyndham street

No definite explanation has ever been agreed upon for HMS Urge’s sinking even when it was officially reported missing in the Mediterranean Sea on April 29, 1942.

In 1941 there was a national drive to raise money to meet the escalating cost of providing the British military with machinery and vehicles for the war, it was called "warship week",

The total amount that was raised Nationally was £955m, and Bridgend contributed around £300,000 and that would be the equivalent of more than £12m in today's money. It was at that time the town of Bridgend adopted the submarine HMS Urge and two warships, The second was a corvette H.M.S. Mallow (K81), and the other was the Torpedo boat H.M.M.T.B. 47.

Corvette H.M.S Mallow

HMS Urge played a vital role in winning the battle for North Africa during the second World War. The submarine aided the Malta Squadron, known as the fighting 10th, to cut off vital supplies to Rommel's Afrika Corps.
In 2011 to mark the 69th anniversary of the disappearance of HMS Urge a plaque honouring HMS Urge and its 29-strong crew and 10 passengers was rededicated to the people of Bridgend in recognition of their efforts.

The Urge N17 U class Submarine

The Urge was built by Vickers Armstrong Barrow-in-Furness, U.K. She was ordered on the 4th of September 1939 and the keel laid down on the 30 of October 1939 and just 10 months later she was launched on the 19th of August 1940 and commissioned on the 12th of December 1940
. HMS Urge  Lt.Cdr. Edward Philip Tomkinson. DSO and Bar, RN.

On the 11 December 1940 the HMS Urge under the command of Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN departed the builders yards at Barrow for Holy Loch to begin a period of trials and training where she arrived the following day. After only 21 days she departed for Dundee arriving on the 7th January 1941, from here she went on to Scapa Flow, escorted by HMS Thirlmere  captained by T/S.Lt. R.C.R. Mortimore, RNVR.

 From here she departed for her 1st war patrol, off the South-West coast of Norway to patrol of Stadtlanded and Utvaer. This and her 2nd war patrol,  off Fro-Havet, Norway, were uneventful. Then on the 14 April 1941 after some movement between port the
HMS Urge departed Portsmouth for Gibraltar. She was to proceed to Malta to join the 1st submarine flotilla. On her journey to Gibraltar on the 18th of April torpedoed and sank the Italian tanker Franco Martelli 10535 GRT, built 1939, in the Bay of Biscay,
she Fired two torpedoes from 1500 yards. The second torpedo hit in the engine room. The ship then stopped but did not sink another torpedo was then fired that hit under the bridge. Just 30 minutes later the tanker was seen to sink. Of the 34 crew 33 survived. The Franco Martelli was a blockade breaker and en-route from Recife, Brasil to Bordeaux, France.

14 May 1941 the HMS Urge departed Malta for her 3rd and 4th war patrol the in the Mediterranean. She was ordered to patrol off the Tunisia and Lampedusa Island. On her 5th war patrol she was ordered to patrol South of the Straits of Messina. Also carrying a raiding party that was to be landed on the East coast of Sicily to wreck a train in a tunnel if the opportunity arose. On the 27 June 1941 HMS Urge  landed the raiding  party Lt. R. Wilson, R.A. and Marine W.G. Hughes off Taormina, Sicily, Italy. A train was seen approaching the tunnel where the charge had been placed and shortly afterwards a brilliant flash was seen as the engine set off the charge.
The operation was successful.

Whilst on her 9th patrol on 27 Aug 1941 the HMS Urge with Lt. E.P. Tomkinson, RN in command, she torpedoed and damaged the Italian passenger ship Aquitania, about 10 nautical miles North of Marettimo Island. In the same attack the torpedoes that were fired at Italian tanker the Pozarica all traveled to the stern of the ship missing it's target.

She fired four torpedoes against a merchant vessel of about 6000 tons. Range was 4500 yards. This ship was the leading ship of the nearest column. The leading ship of the rear column was in the line of fire as well and was a tanker of about 5000 tons. The torpedo in no.3 tube, which  fired last, only went half way out of the tube and the submarine ran in that position. As a result Urge broached while displaying an 'angry' smoking torpedo in the tube. Fortunately the torpedo left the tube when HMS Urge got level after surfacing. The Urge then dived once more at a steep angle while the nearest escort came rushing towards them from 3000 yards. Three torpedo explosions were heard thought to be one hit on the merchant vessel Aquitania, and two on the tanker. A depth charge attack now followed in which 20 depth charges were dropped but the Urge withdrew to the North-West.

The HMS Urge

During the night of 24 to 25 September an agent was landed near Cape Gall. The agent was a Frenchman and carried a radio transmitter and the sum of 100000 lires. He hid the transmitter and the money then went to Palermo but was almost immediately spotted and taken under surveillance by the secret police who watched him for six days. As he returned to his cache he was caught. He collaborated with the Abwehr. Two torpedo boats the Dezza and Cascino were sent to intercept the Urge as she came to pick up the agent but she quietly slipped away from the scene, the trap almost succeeded.

On the 3 Oct 1941 about 12 nautical miles West of Ustica Island, Italy. The Urge spotted an object bearing 260° about 5 nautical miles away. It was the German submarine U-331. The Urge started the attack from a range of 1300 yards fired a salvo of four torpedoes at the submarine which was thought to be an Italian Gemma-class submarine proceeding on the surface, three lookouts were seen on her conning tower and they had sighted one torpedo track. One of the torpedoes fired had a gyro failure and passed down Urge's Port side. Urge then surfaced for gun action but when she did the enemy turned away and dived. A heavy explosion occurred near Urge, this was the torpedo with the gyro failure exploding at the end of its run.

The U-331 German Submarine

18 Oct 1941 saw the departure of HMS Urge from Malta for her 12th war patrol the 10th in the Mediterranean. She was ordered to patrol off the East coast of Tunisia between Kuriat and Lampion Island. On the 22nd she attacked the small Italian merchant Falco near Kuriat but caused no damage, the ship had an escort that depth charged the Urge without causing any damage.

Later HMS Urge went on to torpedoe and further damaged the Italian merchant Ship
 Marigola off Kuriat, Tunisia. The Marigola was already grounded after being torpedoed by aircraft.
On the 4 Dec the Urge saw action again when she torpedoed and damaged the Italian battleship Vittorio Veneto about 10 nautical miles west-south-west of Capo dell'Armi.
On the 16th of Feb 1942 HMS Urge landed one of the three agents she had to land near Tunis, Tunisia. The landing of the other  two agents  had to be  abandoned  due to the worsening weather.  Capt. Wilson took one of the  three agents  in the Folbot there was a slight swell that made this a difficult task.  When Capt Wilson returned the Folbot was half full of water and had to be abandoned when it broke while being hoisted aboard.   Due to the weather the landing of the other  two agents  had to be abandoned for the night in the hope of calmer weather the next night.  The Urge withdrew to the centre of the Gulf to lay low till the following day.  The following evening another  attempt was made to land the remaining  two agents  but had to be aborted,  with the weather becoming even worse it became impossible to land the other two remaining agents. The HMS Urge remaind in the Gulf of Tunis to ride out the gale on the surface before setting a course for North,  Sicily.

During one of the boat's clandestine missions which might have been the one mentioned above a Bridgend man Sub Lt Lloyd was put ashore, but was betrayed and shot.

During the night of 29 / 30 March 1942 HMS Urge landed a raiding party to wreck a train. They had successfully placed their charge under the railway line and returned to the Urge then just before 0100 hours an electric train hit the charge, the engine exploded and came falling down the embankment. An enemy ship was sighted shortly afterwards and attacked with the Urge with three torpedoes that all missed. A gun action followed in which three hits were obtained on the enemy ship. But as the enemy drew nearer the action had to be broken off and the Urge dived and cleared the area.

On the 1 April the HMS Urge spotted the Italian light cruiser Giovanni delle Bande Nere 11 nautical miles south-east of Stromboli, Italy. The cruiser was torpedoed and sank.
The HMS Urge had sailed in the early hours of 27 April  from Malta and at a speed of 90 miles per day according to her orders, her route was straight to Alexandria, and the captain had no compelling reason to be at Ras El Hilal on 29 April, but it has been claimed that the HMS Urge submarine had been sunk with all hands, a crew of 29 and 10 passengers, the war reporter Bernard Grey was amongst them, by seven Italian CR.42 fighter planes from 153^Squadriglia off Ras El Hilal, Libya on the morning of 29 April.

It is reported that the wreck of the HMS Urge has been found off Ras al Helal, Lybia. If this is confirmed then it matches the attack by seven Italian CR.42 fighter planes from 153 Squadriglia on 29 April 1942, but why was she there?.

HMS Tudor another Bridgend Adoption

HMS Tudor was a British submarine of the third group of the T class. She was built as P326 at Devonport Dockyard, launched on 23 September 1942 and the second submarine to adopted by Bridgend. So far she has been the only ship of the Royal Navy to bear the name Tudor, after the  Tudor period  dynasty.

HMS Tudor served in the Far East for much of her wartime career, where she sank five Japanese sailing vessels, four Japanese coasters, and another Japanese vessel, as well as an unidentified sailing vessel north of Sumatra. During the War HMS Tudor was adopted by the Borough of Bridgend as part of Warship Week. The plaque from this adoption is held by the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth. She survived the war and continued in service with the Navy, finally being sold to be broken up for scrap on 1 July 1963 and scrapped at Faslane.

A list of the Crew lost when the HMS Urge went down

The HMS Tudor NOW has it's own page

Porthcawl Museum
In the old Police Station


42 Dunraven Place, Bridgend
Contact: Mike 07840 287 383
web site here

Share with your friends on Facebook or Twitter. Just Click the link below.

Facebook Twitter

Return to Main Bridgend History Page

Copyright 2017
Bridgend History

The Old Post Office Garage
The Old Post Office Garage

Royal cipher E VIII R. 1936

Bridgend ROF 53
Bridgend ROF 53

Hut 9
Hut 9

Hut 9
Island Farm

The Old Historic Bridge

Newcastle Castle

St Illtyds Church

Mason Williams clock c1890

Sponsored by



Bridgend Sandwich Bar.
Est: 1940