John Walter David Coombe, RN

Birth details unknown
Died  25 Nov 1942HMS Utmost


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Ranks

16 May 1936 S.Lt.
16 Aug 1938 Lt.

Decorations

Warship Commands listed for John Walter David Coombe, RN


ShipRankTypeFromTo
HMS H 32 (N 32)Lt.Submarine3 Sep 19416 Dec 1941
HMS Upright (N 89)Lt.Submarine8 Feb 194224 Feb 1942
HMS Utmost (N 19)Lt.Submarine16 Sep 1942Nov 1942

Career information

We currently have no career / biographical information on this officer.

Events related to this officer

Submarine HMS H 32 (N 32)


4 Sep 1941
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Rockingham (Lt. A.H.T. Johns, RN) and HMS Northern Gem (Skr.Lt. W.J.V. Mullender, DSC, RNR). (1)

5 Sep 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Anemone (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Boys-Smith, DSO and Bar, RD, RNR) and HMS Vizalma (T/A/Lt. J.R. Anglebeck, RNVR). (1)

6 Sep 1941
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Douglas (Cdr. W.E. Banks, DSC, RN), HMS Skate (Lt. F.P. Baker, DSC, RN), HMS Leamington (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Bowerman, RN), HMS Chelsea (Lt.Cdr. A.F.C. Layard, RN) and HMS Caldwell (Lt.Cdr. E.M. Mackay, RNR). (1)

7 Sep 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Chelsea (Lt.Cdr. A.F.C. Layard, RN) and HMS Caldwell (Lt.Cdr. E.M. Mackay, RNR) (1)

8 Sep 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Chelsea (Lt.Cdr. A.F.C. Layard, RN) and HMS Caldwell (Lt.Cdr. E.M. Mackay, RNR) (1)

9 Sep 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, RN). (1)

11 Sep 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Sunflower (Lt.Cdr. J.T. Jones, RNR). (1)

12 Sep 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Keppel (Cdr. J.E. Broome, RN), HMS Sabre (Lt. P.W. Gretton, OBE, DSC, RN), HMS Wellington (Lt.Cdr. W.F.R. Segrave, RN) and HMS Rockingham (Lt. A.H.T. Johns, RN). (1)

13 Sep 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) participated in A/S exercises off Lough Foyle. (1)

14 Sep 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Watchman (Lt.Cdr. E.C.L. Day, RN). (1)

16 Sep 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with aircraft. (1)

20 Sep 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) departed Londonderry for Rothesay. She was escorted by HMS St. Kenan (T/Lt. R.R. Simpson, RNR).

21 Sep 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) arrived at Rothesay. (1)

23 Sep 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) shifted from Rothesay to Campbeltown. (1)

24 Sep 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Campbeltown with HMS Bedlington (Skr. J.H.D. Dansie, RNR) and HMS Bretwalda (Skr. J. Windram, RNR). (1)

26 Sep 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Campbeltown with HMS Shemara (Cdr.(Retd.) H. Buckle, RN). (1)

28 Sep 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Campbeltown with HMS Bedlington (Skr. J.H.D. Dansie, RNR) and HMS Tuscarora (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) Lord Teynham, RN). (1)

29 Sep 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Campbeltown with HMS Shemara (Cdr.(Retd.) H. Buckle, RN) and HMS Boarhound (Skr. S.G. Jinks, RNR). (1)

30 Sep 1941
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Campbeltown with HMS Tuscarora (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) Lord Teynham, RN) and HMS St. Modwen (Lt.Cdr. F.J. Webster, RNR). Upon completion of these exercises H 32 proceeded to Rothesay. (1)

2 Oct 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) arrived at Oban. She departed later the same day for Portsmouth. Near Oban she made rendez-vous with her escort, HMS Cutty Sark (Cdr.(Retd.) R.H. Mack, RN), and the submarine

HMS P 31 (Lt. J.B.deB. Kershaw, RN) that was to proceed to Gibraltar. (1)

5 Oct 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) and her escort, HMS Cutty Sark (Cdr.(Retd.) R.H. Mack, RN), parted company at 1415 hours. H 32 then proceeded unescorted towards Portsmouth.

HMS P 31 (Lt. J.B.deB. Kershaw, RN) had already parted company at 0617 hours. (1)

7 Oct 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) arrived at Portsmouth. She was escorted in by HMS Arctic Pioneer (Skr. G. Bryan, RNR). (1)

13 Oct 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) departed Portsmouth for Sheerness. (1)

14 Oct 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) arrived at the Sheerness Dockyard where she was taken in hand for refit. (1)


Submarine HMS Upright (N 89)


9 Feb 1942
HMS Upright (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) departed Malta for her 24th war patrol (22th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol off the Gulf of Taranto. Spare Commanding Officer, Lt. Coombe had taken command vice Lt. Wraith for this patrol in order to give Lt. Wraith a rest.

For the daily positions of HMS Upright during this patrol see the map below.

(2)

11 Feb 1942 (position 37.29, 16.26)
At 0043 hours, HMS Upright (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) was in position 37°29'N, 16°26'E when a submarine was sighted at only 300 yards on a course of 200°. Upright dived but could not regain contact. This was the Italian Malachite (T.V. Enzo Zanni) proceeding to a patrol off Cyrenaica, she also took avoiding action. (2)

23 Feb 1942
HMS Upright (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) ended her 24th war patrol (22th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (2)


Submarine HMS Utmost (N 19)


17 Sep 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) departed Malta for her 22th war patrol (19th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol in the Southern Tyrrhenian Sea.

When HMS Talisman did not report to be clear of the minefields in the Sicilian Channel on the 18th Utmost was ordered to patrol off Empedocle, Sicily, Italy to find out if there was any E-boat activity originating from that port. Air reconnaissance had shown that five German E-boats were there on the 14th. They were probably fitted for minelaying and were laying new minefields along the routes used by allied submarines.

On the 22th Utmost was ordered to proceed to the Gulf of Hammamet.

For the daily positions of Utmost during this patrol see the map below.

(3)

25 Sep 1942
At 2010 hours (zone -2) HMS Utmost (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) carried out a bombardment of Linosa Island. In 10 minutes 20 rounds (and 3 starshell) were fired. 17 Rounds had hit the target.

Italian sources indicate that an observation post on Monte Vulcano was the target but suffered no damage. Coombe came under criticism from Captain G.W.G. 'Shrimp' Simpson (Capt. S.10) as shelling a village 'seems to be carrying total war too far'. (3)

26 Sep 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) ended her 22th war patrol (19th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (3)

3 Oct 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) departed Malta for her 23th war patrol (20th in the Mediterranean). She was ordered to patrol in the Tyrrhenian Sea. She was also to perform a special operation.

For the daily and attack positions of Utmost during this patrol see the map below.

(3)

9 Oct 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) carried out special operation 'Blackbird'. Two Italian agents were to be landed near Napoli. It appeared the agents were detected by the enemy during the landing.

(All times are zone -1)
0030 hours - Surfaced near the selected landing spot (near Lido di Licola). Closed the shore.

0105 hours - The Folbot with the recovery line attached left the ship.

0145 hours - As no arranged 'signal' had been received, three strong pulls on the recovery line, the Folbot was recovered. When it arrived alongside both agents were still in it!!!. On being questioned why they had not landed they stated that it was too far for them. This seemed a very poor excuse and it looked like the agents preferred to abandon the operation. Lt. Coombe ordered them back towards the shore which they did at 0225 hours.

0321 hours - The recovery line was still running out (after being stopped several times). By now Lt. Coombe had to cut the line in order to retire to seaward to get clear of the land when dawn broke.

0405 hours - While still proceeding to seaward, flares and rockets were fired on the shore. It appeared the landing party was detected.

0416 hours - Utmost now dived and proceeded further to seaward to get in deeper water.

0425 hours - Utmost was now bottomed. The battery was now very low. They had to wait in this position for a day and proceeded to seaward to charge the next night.

The two agents are believed to have been caught and executed. (3)

11 Oct 1942 (position 41.54, 11.21)
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) attacked but missed a small merchant vessel with two torpedoes about 25 nautical miles South-West of Civitavecchia, Italy.

(All times are zone -1)
2000 hours - In position 41°54'N, 11°21'E sighted a small ship. She was quite fast, 15 knots. Fired two torpedoes from 3000 yards which missed. It was thought this was the mail streamer from Sardinia to Civitavecchia.
(3)

13 Oct 1942 (position 41.03, 9.43)
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) torpedoed and sank the the Italian tanker Nautilus (2070 GRT, built 1921) [she is sometime referred in error as the German Languste] off Cape Figari, Sardinia, Italy in position 41°03'N, 09°43'E.

(All times are zone -1)
1305 hours - In position 41°03'N, 09°43'E sighted the masts and funnel of a small steamer bearing 310°. She was rounding Cape Ferro and when clear she proceeded on a course of 142°. Started attack.

1318 hours - Sighted masts and funnel of a tanker rounding Cape Ferro. She was following one mile astern of the first ship. Immediately shifted target to this vessel.

1349 hours - Fired four torpedoes from 2000 yards and went deep upon firing the last torpedo. The third torpedo had a gyro failure and passed twice overhead shortly after it had been fired, a lucky escape for Utmost.

1351 hours - Heard a large explosion thought to be the second torpedo hitting the target. HE of the target stopped and was not heard again.

1356 hours - Returned to periscope depth but immediately heard fast HE approaching so went deep again and took avoiding action. A counter attack now followed in which 19 depth charges were dropped. Some were quite close but no damage was done.

1515 hours - Returned to periscope depth. No sign of the tanker. The ship that was sighted first was still in sight and was most likely the escort for the tanker. An aircraft was also patrolling the area. Went deep again.

According to Italian sources she had been on passage from La Maddalena to Olbia escorted by the auxiliary Ipparco Baccich. The minesweeper S. Vincenzo picked up 29 survivors including two wounded, three were missing. (3)

17 Oct 1942
While on the return passage to Malta, HMS Utmost (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) was ordered to take up a patrol position between Pantelleria and Lampedusa to intercept an enemy convoy to Tripoli, Libya. (3)

19 Oct 1942 (position 36.03, 11.56)
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) attacked an enemy convoy between Pantelleria and Lampedusa. Two torpedoes were fired but no hits were obtained.

(All times are zone -1)
0840 hours - In position 36°03'N, 11°56'E sighted two aircraft and the masts of four ships bearing 350°.

0850 hours - Identified the ships as three medium seized merchant ships in two columns escorted by seven destroyers disposed on each bow, beam, quarter and one right astern. Started attack to attack the leading merchant vessel of the Port column.

0932 hours - Sighted a tanker, the rear ship of the Starboard column. Shifted target to this ship.

1003 hours - Fired the last two torpedoes aboard at this tanker. Range was 6000 yards. No hits were obtained. No counter attack followed. Utmost later surfaced to make an enemy report.

[The convoy was made up of the Italian tanker Saturno (5029 GRT, built 1914) and the Italian merchants Beppe (4859 GRT, built 1912), Capo Orso (3149 GRT, built 1916), Titania (5397 GRT, built 1918). They were escorted by the Italian destroyers Antonio da Noli, Giovanni da Verazzano, Antonio Pigafetta, Ascari, Vincenzo Gioberti and Alfredo Oriani as well as the Italian torpedo boat Sagittario. The torpedo boats Nicola Fabrizi and Centauro had already left the convoy when Utmost attacked.] (3)

21 Oct 1942
HMS Utmost (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) ended her 23th war patrol (20th in the Mediterranean) at Malta. (3)

Sources

  1. ADM 173/16742
  2. ADM 199/1224
  3. ADM 199/1922

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.


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