Italian submarines in World War Two

Tembien (TE)

TypeCoastal / Sea going 
ClassAdua (23) 
Laid down 6 Feb 1937 Odero-Terni-Orlando, Muggiano
Launched6 Feb 1938
Commissioned1 Jul 1938
End service
Loss date2 Aug 1941
Loss position36° 21'N, 12° 40'E
Fate Rammed and sunk south-east of Pantelleria in position 36°21'N,12°40'E by the light cruiser HMS Hermione.


CommanderDate fromDate toCommand notes
C.C. Luca Goretti de Flamini29 Dec 193925 Jul 1940
T.V. Pietro Notarbartolo di Villarosa26 Jul 194025 Oct 1940
T.V. Guido Gozzi26 Oct 19402 Aug 1941

Ships hit

No ships hit by this submarine.

Patrols and events

 CommanderDateTimePortArr. dateArr. timeArr. portMilesDescription
Goretti de Flamini, Luca11 May 19400945Leros13 May 19401800Messina65Exercises.

Goretti de Flamini, Luca19 Jun 19401005Messina19 Jun 19401945Messina65Exercises.

Goretti de Flamini, Luca21 Jun 19400800Messina21 Jun 19401545Messina60Exercises.

1Goretti de Flamini, Luca25 Jun 19401935Messina6 Jul 19401750Messina883Patrolled west of Malta in 36°00'N, 13°30'E.
  29 Jun 19402130
(0) About 30 miles NW of Malta.
At 2130 hours, a fire started in the battery but was quickly extinguished. The battery had been damaged and Tembien proceeded to Linosa to make temporary repairs on the lee side of the island and managed to resume her patrol.

2Goretti de Flamini, Luca12 Jul 19401940Messina14 Jul 19401540Messina328Patrolled west of Malta, patrolled interrupted because of defects. C.C. de Flamini was severely reprimanded for this interruption, which could have been repaired.

Goretti de Flamini, Luca20 Jul 19401300Messina20 Jul 19402035Messina56,5Exercises.

3Notarbartolo di Villarosa, Pietro28 Jul 19400915Messina10 Aug 19401820Messina1674Patrolled between 32°10'N and 32°50'N, and between 24°30'E and 25°30'E. Uneventful, except for sighting a Sunderland at 10,000 meters on 28th July. Some members of the crew suffered from intoxication due to the air conditioning system's methyl chloride or chlorine fumes from the batteries.

Notarbartolo di Villarosa, Pietro12 Aug 19400830Messina12 Aug 19401540Augusta71Passage Messina-Augusta.

Notarbartolo di Villarosa, Pietro2 Sep 19400807Augusta2 Sep 19401230Augusta3,5Exercises.

Notarbartolo di Villarosa, Pietro4 Sep 19400805Augusta4 Sep 19401120Augusta5,5Exercises.

Notarbartolo di Villarosa, Pietro9 Sep 19401002Augusta9 Sep 19401100Augusta5Exercises.

Notarbartolo di Villarosa, Pietro20 Sep 19401255Augusta20 Sep 19401610Augusta3,7Exercises.

4Notarbartolo di Villarosa, Pietro21 Sep 19400603Augusta8 Oct 19401206Augusta1742Patrolled between Ras El Tin (Libya) and Tolmeita, between 33°05'N and 33°45'N, and between 20°50'E and 21°40'E on a patrol line with Mameli.

Notarbartolo di Villarosa, Pietro10 Oct 19401640Augusta10 Oct 19401925Augusta6Exercises.

Notarbartolo di Villarosa, Pietro11 Oct 19400540Augusta12 Oct 19401103Naples297Passage Augusta-Naples.

Gozzi, Guido1 Nov 19401007Naples1 Nov 19401705Naples32,7Exercises.

Gozzi, Guido5 Nov 19400740Naples5 Nov 19401604Naples34Exercises.

Gozzi, Guido13 Nov 19400820Naples13 Nov 19401605Naples31,5Exercises.

Gozzi, Guido17 Nov 19400820Naples18 Nov 19401625Augusta297Passage Naples-Augusta.

5Gozzi, Guido19 Nov 19402045Augusta23 Nov 19400756Augusta488Patrolled within 20 miles from 36°00'N, 13°20'E (west of Malta). Uneventful.

6Gozzi, Guido26 Nov 19400835Augusta2 Dec 19400834Augusta564,5Patrolled on a line 15 miles east from 36°00'N, 13°30'E with Dessiè, northwest of Malta.
  27 Nov 19402328
2334 (e)
36° 00'N, 13° 47'EAt 2324 hours, the starboard lookout spotted a warship at a distance of 2,000 metres, a little forward on the starboard beam. Tembien immediately steered toward it and now three warships in single file could be made out, steering 320° at a little under 9 knots.

At 2328 hours, a pair of torpedoes (533mm) were fired from bow tubes at a distance of 1,500 metres. The submarine remained on the surface, still steering toward them at reduced speed to observe the result. The torpedoes missed.

These were the light cruisers HMS Gloucester (C.S.3) and HMS Glasgow and the heavy cruiser HMS York, steering 302° at 15 knots.

At 2330 hours, a second pair (one 533mm and one 450mm) was fired from bow tubes at a distance of 1,000 metres. A hit was heard after 45 seconds. In fact both missed. Tembien was hunted by a destroyer with depth-charges.

Gloucester reported underwater explosions at 2334 and at 2338 hours.

Gozzi, Guido6 Dec 19400800Augusta6 Dec 19401935Messina75Passage Augusta-Messina.

Gozzi, Guido26 Dec 19400825Messina26 Dec 19401735MessinaExercises, escorted by the auxiliary Cotugno.

7Gozzi, Guido1 Jan 19411400Messina12 Jan 19411050Augusta1193Patrolled from 32°55'N, 22°50'E on course 108° for 190 miles then course 360° for 30 miles, off Derna and Gulf of Sollum and off Bardia.
  8 Jan 1941004131° 46'N, 25° 10'EAt 0005 hours, a 10,000-ton freighter was sighted zigzagging.

At 0041 hours, a pair of torpedoes (533mm, W.270 type G) was fired from bow tubes at a range of 1,500 metres. They briefly broke surface after a 40-50 metres run and deviated to the left. They missed.

At 0046 hours, a second pair (533mm, W.270 type G, and 450mm, W.200 type) was fired from bow tubes at a range of 1,100 metres. The 533mm torpedo also briefly broke surface but then disappeared from view. The 450mm had a straight run, but missed astern. They also missed.

At 0054 hours, the submarine turned to port and presented her stern to fire a third pair (533mm, W.270 type H, and 450mm, W.200 type). The 533mm broke surface after 80 metres, deviating from its course, while the 450mm had a normal course, but missed astern.

T.V. Guido Gozzi decided not to continue the action with the gun because of the proximity of Bardia (now in British hands). He was criticised by Admiral Falangola for his excessive prudence.

Gozzi, Guido27 Jan 19410858Augusta27 Jan 19411148Augusta4,8Exercises.

8Gozzi, Guido2 Feb 19411120Augusta13 Feb 19411015Augusta815Patrolled east of Malta within 15 miles from 35°30'N, 16°10'E. Uneventful, except for sighting two Ju 88 bombers, hearing H.E. and attempt to sink a derelict mine.
  12 Feb 1941035535° 33'N, 16° 06'EAt 0355 hours, a derelict mine was sighted at a distance of 200 metres. 60 rounds of machine-gun fire failed to hit it. Tembien proceeded on.

Gozzi, Guido10 Mar 19410700Augusta12 Mar 19411710La Spezia542Passage Augusta-La Spezia. Uneventful.

Gozzi, Guido21 Mar 19411358La Spezia21 Mar 19411731La Spezia28Exercises. Docked on 1 April 1941 for repairs and refit.

Gozzi, Guido11 May 19410848La Spezia11 May 19411737La Spezia58,5Exercises.

Gozzi, Guido15 May 19410840La Spezia15 May 19411553La Spezia21Exercises.

Gozzi, Guido30 May 19410930La Spezia30 May 19411210La Spezia5,5Exercises.

Gozzi, Guido30 May 19411342La Spezia30 May 19411752La Spezia25Exercises.

Gozzi, Guido31 May 19410804La Spezia31 May 19411317La Spezia8,6Exercises.

Gozzi, Guido2 Jun 19411338La Spezia2 Jun 19411459La Spezia6,5Exercises.

Gozzi, Guido15 Jun 19410904La Spezia15 Jun 19411907La Spezia38,3Exercises.

Gozzi, Guido18 Jun 19410658La Spezia20 Jun 19411820Augusta650Passage La Spezia-Augusta. Uneventful.

Gozzi, Guido22 Jun 19411412Augusta22 Jun 19411807Augusta26,5Exercises.

9Gozzi, Guido23 Jun 19412030Augusta11 Jul 19410912Augusta2058Patrolled between 32°00'N and 32°15'N, and between 25°00 and 25°20'E and the coast, northeast of Ras Azzaz.
  24 Jun 1941202035° 02'N, 19° 16'EAt 2020 hours, a derelict mine was sighted at a distance of 300 metres. Tembien failed to destroy it with machine-gun fire.
  25 Jun 19411025At 1025 hours, an aircraft was seen at a distance of 5,000 metres, making a straight line for the submarine. Tembien dived but was not attacked.
  29 Jun 1941043732° 08'N, 25° 12'EAt 0437 hours, two silhouettes were sighted on the horizon. The submarine lost contact with them in the mist.
  29 Jun 19412041
2142 (e)
32° 14'N, 25° 00'EAt 1940 hours, Tembien surfaced and a silhouette was sighted over the horizon at a distance of 10,000 metres. The submarine steered straight toward it.

At 2000 hours, the range had closed to 3,000 metres and the silhouette could be recognised as a warship, probably a large destroyer. It was proceeding slowly on a 060° course, leading T.V. Guido Gozzi to believe that she was damaged. The enemy was thought to be of the JERVIS class.

At 2041 hours, a pair of torpedoes were fired from the stern tubes (probably 533mm and 450mm) at a range of 500-600 metres. T.V. Gozzi had intended to fire only one torpedo and follow up with a second, but due to an error in drill two were simultaneously fired. As the torpedoes were racing toward the target, Gozzi suddenly noticed a second destroyer next to the first one. This vessel immediately opened fire with her stern guns forcing the submarine to crash-dive. The torpedoes missed.

This was the destroyer HMS Waterhen. She had been seriously damaged by a bomb at 2005 hours in 32°15' N, 25°20' E and abandoned. Waterhen was returning from a supply run to Tobruk. The crew was picked up by HMS Defender (there were no casualties) who returned and attempted to take her in tow.

The two torpedoes passed under Defender.

HMS Defender had sighted the submarine and opened fire, forcing her to dive. Two loud explosions were heard. HMAS Waterhen later capsized and sank. There were no casualties.
  1 Jul 19410255-042832° 13'N, 25° 19'EAt 0255 hours, two shadows were sighted to northward. Tembien steered toward them. At 0332 hours, these could be identified as destroyers but, by 0428 hours, the submarine could not close to less than 4,000 metres and the attack was given up.
  1 Jul 1941194732° 07'N, 25° 08'EAt 1947 hours, a destroyer was sighted at a range of 6,000 metres, steering 120°. They passed out of range.
  4 Jul 19410342+32° 14'N, 25° 00'EAt 0342 hours, information was received from MARICOSOM indicating the presence of an enemy unit in 32°20' N, 24°30' E. Tembien proceeded at fast speed toward the northern part of her zone to intercept.

A destroyer was sighted in 32°14' N, 25°00' E, steering 120° and doing at least 20 knots, coming straight at the submarine. Tembien turned away and by the time a torpedo attack could be mounted, the range had increased to 3,000 metres and the opportunity was missed.
  7 Jul 1941183632° 14'N, 25° 00'EAt 1828 hours, a vessel was detected with the hydrophones.

At 1836 hours, the vessel apparently dropped a depth charge on Tembien who was at a depth of 34 metres and she was slightly damaged.
  8 Jul 19410020
(0) East of Tobruk.
At 0020 hours, a submarine was sighted. Tembien turned away as she had orders not to attack any submarine encountered. It was later believed to have been Malachite.

10Gozzi, Guido31 Jul 19411340Augusta2 Aug 1941AMSunk with all handsSailed for patrol west of Malta within 8 miles from 36°12'N, 12°35'E. Rammed in the Sicilian narrows by the British light cruiser HMS Hermione at 28 knots in 36°21'N, 12°40'E (five officers and thirty-eight ratings lost, no survivors). On 3 August, she was ordered to proceed to a new position off Ras Mustafa (Tunisia) but did not acknowledge.
  2 Aug 1941
0512B (e)

(e) 36° 21'N, 12° 40'E
In the early hours of 2nd August, Force "X" was proceeding toward Malta with troops and stores (operation STYLE). It consisted of the light cruisers HMS Hermione and HMS Arethusa, the fast minelayer HMS Manxman and the destroyers HMS HMS Sikh and HMS Lightning.

At 0510B hours, Lieutenant (N) J.B.E. Wainwight, RN of HMS Hermione sighted on the port bow a surfaced U-boat apparently stopped at a distance of 1,400 yards. He at once gave port wheel to ram. Within two minutes, the cruiser racing at 28 knots had rammed the submarine. HMS Lightning and HMS Sikh were detached to search but found nothing. The cruiser was only slightly damaged and took 20 tons of water. Parts of the submarine were later removed from the lower stern.

There is little doubt that this was Tembien who failed to return from patrol. T.V. Guido, four officers and thirty-eight ratings perished.

47 entries. 39 total patrol entries (10 marked as war patrols) and 14 events.

All Italian submarines