'Dead in the water' - as an E Boat circles
12th March 1943: A dramatic account of being stuck on HMS Lightning unable to move or fight back
In the Mediterranean, the Allies were making considerable progress in regaining command of the seas. Convoys were now getting through to Malta and the Allied forces in North Africa.
Yet the battle was far from completely won and the Germans were intent on re-inforcing and resupplying their forces in Tunisia. This led to a very testing life for many in the Royal Navy as they sought to protect their own supply lines and attack the German convoys coming across from Italy.
Everything was still and quiet - there was no return of fire and no rushing about. The only other ship visible was the E-boat. We just waited for the inevitable, like a rabbit hypnotised in a car’s headlights.
The 227 men on HMS Lightning were exhausted, they were escorting Allied convoys by day and attacking enemy convoys by night. On the 12th March they had been in continuous action for thirteen days. That evening they were ordered out of Bone harbour at 1745 to attack a German convoy heading out of Sicily. They fought off twelve torpedo bombers at 1851 and shot one down. At 2200 the radio messages of German E boats were intercepted suggesting they were about to be attacked.