Thunderbolt file photo [6109]


CountryUnited Kingdom
Ship ClassT-class Submarine
BuilderCammell Laird & Co Limited, Birkenhead, Merseyside, England, United Kingdom
Laid Down21 Dec 1936
Launched29 Jun 1938
Commissioned26 Oct 1940
Sunk14 Mar 1943
Displacement1,090 tons standard; 1,560 tons submerged
Length275 feet
Beam26 feet
Draft14 feet
MachineryTwo 2,500hp diesel engines, two 1,450hp electric motors, two shafts
Speed15 knots
Range4,500nm at 11 knots
Armament6 internal forward torpedo tubes, 4 external forward torpedo tubes, 16 torpedoes, 1x100mm deck gun
Submerged Speed9 knots


ww2dbaseHMS Thetis, a member of Group 1 of T-class submarines, was launched in mid-1938. On 1 Jun 1939, while on a her first trial dive in Liverpool Bay, England, United Kingdom under the command of Lieutenant Commander Guy Bolus, she sank at 1400, taking the lives of 99 of 103 men onboard, which consisted of 53 crewmen, 9 officers, 26 Cammell Laird employees, 4 Vickers-Armstrong employees, and 2 caterers. The reason for the sinking was a combination of malfunction with torpedo tube number 5 and human error, the said torpedo tube was flooded while the inner door was open, which led to the flooding of the submarine. Her wreck was recovered and grounded at Moelfre Bay, Anglesey, Wales, United Kingdom on 3 Sep.

ww2dbaseAfter being repaired, the former wreck of HMS Thetis was commissioned as HMS Thunderbolt to Lieutenant Commander Richard Crouch in 1940. She sank the Italian submarine Tarantini on 15 Dec 1940 in the Bay of Biscay of France. In Dec 1942, she was transferred to the Mediterranean Sea. Her first mission in the Mediterranean Sea south of Sardinia, Italy resulted in the loss of another ship in the group, but her second mission against Palermo harbor, Italy in Jan 1943 was successful, sinking Italian cruiser Ulpio Traiano and freighter Viminale. On 18 Jan, she patrolled off Tripoli, Libya. On 14 Mar 1943, while off Cap St. Vito, Italy, she was attacked and destroyed by Italian corvette Cicogna. All men aboard were lost.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: May 2008

Submarine Thunderbolt Interactive Map


HMS Thunderbolt in a harbor, circa late 1940

Thunderbolt Operational Timeline

26 Oct 1940 Thunderbolt was commissioned into service.
15 Dec 1940 British submarine HMS Thunderbolt sank Italian submarine Tarantini 2 miles off of the Gironde Estuary, France in the Bay of Biscay, killing the entire crew of 58.
18 Jul 1941 British submarine HMS Thunderbolt picked up the 41 survivors of British freighter Guelma, which was sunk by Italian submarine Alessandro Malaspina in the Atlantic Ocean on the previous date.
30 Jan 1942 British submarine HMS Thunderbolt attacked an Axis convoy with three torpedoes 6 miles west of Lefkada, Greece at 0939 hours; all torpedoes missed; escorting Italian torpedo boat Solferino counterattacked with 29 depth charges without success.

Did you enjoy this article or find this article helpful? If so, please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 per month will go a long way! Thank you.

Share this article with your friends:


Stay updated with WW2DB:

 RSS Feeds

Visitor Submitted Comments

1. mark william weston wilson says:
15 Feb 2017 11:05:18 AM

i am looking for anyone who knew cheif petty officer fred ringham originally from near wisbech cambs , and then married to blanche maud and lived at gosport , he was my great , great uncle
2. Craig nash says:
8 Mar 2017 01:12:50 AM

Hi my great uncle was aboard his name was Leonard jack Moore. I would love some info or pictures as I'm trying to do a biography on his life. Thanks in advance .
3. sharon says:
30 Apr 2017 07:57:09 AM

Charles Elliot was lost in THUNDERBOLT. He was named for his Uncle Charlie Banks who died 6th May 1917 on the Somme aged 19 years
4. Richard Alpe says:
4 Jun 2019 05:33:35 AM

Hi Craig.With reference to your relative Leonard Moore of HMS Thunderbolt. The Moore family lived yards from my grandparents and the two families were good friends. My grandparents, mother, uncle etc lived in Ryedale,Forest Hill Rd. The Moore’s just round the corner in Forest Hill Rd., the first house I believe on the corner. Lenny was best friends with my uncle Jim Mitchell. Uncle Jim served in the Royal Engineers. Lenny was also a good friend of my Mother, Louise Mitchell. She told me once that they may have ended up married but married Victor Alpe in 1940 and the Moore’s would have attended the wedding. I have to this day an engraved christening cup from the Moore family. I was born in 1942. My mother once told me years ago that her mother, my Nan, also Named Louise, saw Lenny on the local bus (63) on his way to join HMS Thunderbolt. She spoke to him but said that he was hardly able to speak because being a sailor and superstitious he was nervous about joining this boat.
The only other thing I know about Lenny is that he had been awarded a medal but do not know why or when.
I am now almost 77 and have known about Lenny most of my life. I was only a few months old when he died but his memory has never faded within my family. Strange, I was only talking about him to my younger brother two days ago. Of course, my uncle Jim passed away years ago, but he once showed me a small photograph of himself taken on the day that he’d been told of Lenny death.
Hope all this has been useful.
5. says:
13 May 2020 06:29:26 PM

My wife’s father Fred Low was on the sub when the ship was lost.
Maureen is 85 now.
6. Anonymous says:
2 Oct 2021 07:35:41 AM

Add to deaths on HM Submarine Thetis a Liverpool pilot who having piloted the submarine to the Bar Light Ship and should have disembarked asked to remain aboard for the dive.
7. AnonymousAlan Mitchell says:
17 May 2023 09:24:01 AM

Trying to find info about Stoker R Mitchell. Believed to be a relative.

All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.

Posting Your Comments on this Topic

Your Name
Your Email
 Your email will not be published
Comment Type
Your Comments


1. We hope that visitor conversations at WW2DB will be constructive and thought-provoking. Please refrain from using strong language. HTML tags are not allowed. Your IP address will be tracked even if you remain anonymous. WW2DB site administrators reserve the right to moderate, censor, and/or remove any comment. All comment submissions will become the property of WW2DB.

2. For inquiries about military records for members of the World War II armed forces, please see our FAQ.

Search WW2DB
Submarine Thunderbolt Photo Gallery
HMS Thunderbolt in a harbor, circa late 1940

Famous WW2 Quote
"No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You win the war by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country!"

George Patton, 31 May 1944

Support Us

Please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 a month will go a long way. Thank you!

Or, please support us by purchasing some WW2DB merchandise at TeeSpring, Thank you!