Daily Event for December 15

December 15, 1941 the HMS Galatea was sunk by U-557. Galatea, an Arethusa class cruiser had been launched on August 9, 1934. 506 ft. long with a beam of 51ft. she displaced only 5,220 tons. She was armed with six 6 inch guns. On December 14, Galatea along with other ships in Force B were returning to Alexandria from a patrol where they were looking for Italian convoys heading to Libya. The patrol was unsuccessful. At around 10:00 they were attacked by German aircraft. The assault lasted some seven hours, until about 17:00. Around midnight, Galatea was torpedoed by U-557, which must have been trailing the line of ships for some time. Galatea was the last one in the line. She was hit by two or three torpedoes. She healed over and sank in 3 minuets. Hundreds of sailors were dumped in the water. Over 100 were  rescued by other British ships, but 470, including the captain were lost to the sea.

The U-557 would not live long herself. The next day (Dec. 16) the boat was spotted by an  Italian torpedo boat the Orione which mistook it for a British sub, rammed and sank it with the loss of all 43 on board.

© 2005 Michael W. Pocock

HMS Galatea