18th November 1942, a day that saw the loss of 156 crew of HMS Arethusa


In November 1942 HMS Arethusa left Alexandria to form a part of the escort for a convoy to Malta. On the 18th, 450 miles from port, she was torpedoed by low flying enemy aircraft, the explosion and resulting fire took the lives of 156 men from the ship's complement of approximately 500. Arethusa was the only casualty of "Operation Stoneage" and the arrival of the 4 merchant ships of convoy MW-13 effectively marked the end of the siege of Malta.

The ship was badly damaged but managed, after a gallant struggle by her crew, to get back to Alexandria. Experts who examined her later in dry dock stated that it was a miracle she didn't sink.

The following accounts have been transcribed ad verbatim, you will notice inconsistencies about certain facts, I make no judgment here, facts are often mis-interpreted etc.

In the news, how the press reported the attack.


Arethusa at sea after the torpedo hit, the hole beneath 'B Turret' can be seen.

A photograph taken on the voyage back to Alexandria showing the damage to the ship, the hole beneath 'B Turret' can be seen, this photo was most likely taken from HMS Petard as she escorted Arethusa on the arduous trip back to Alex'


A letter sent to my Great Grandparents, this seems to be the official account, from the Admiralty, given to the relatives of those lost.

An extract from the official report based upon the report given by the Commanding Officer.


Arethusa in dry dock at Alex' showing the damage

This photograph shows Arethusa in dry dock at Alexandria in December 1942, to give some sense of scale you can see 2 men surveying the damage at the bottom left of the photograph.


A recent magazine article describing the incident

An extract from the book "The Last Destroyer", by F A Mason RN DSM first published in 1988 about HMS Aldenham, this chapter describes the burial at sea of some of the Arethusa's fallen crew.

HMS Petard, the destroyer that helped Arethusa back to Alex had, only weeks before, been involved in the sinking of U-559 and 3 of her crew retrieved vital code books and an enigma machine. You can read more here or search the web for HMS Petard, I have not yet found a dedicated site.

Some personal recollections about the events here and another photo can be found in the galleries section here, to return to this section you will need to press your browser's back button.

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