Allied Warships

ORP Orzel (85 A)

Submarine of the Orzel class


Orzel

NavyThe Polish Navy
TypeSubmarine
ClassOrzel 
Pennant85 A 
Built byKoninklijke Maatschappij De Schelde (Vlissingen (Flushing), The Netherlands) 
Ordered29 Jan 1936 
Laid down14 Aug 1936 
Launched15 Jan 1938 
Commissioned2 Feb 1939 
Lost8 Jun 1940 
History

Orzel means eagle in English.

The boat, built in the Netherlands arrived in Poland on 7 Feb 1939.

She famously escaped the German forces in Sept 1939 and reached England where she served during the war.

Orzel (Kapitan Marynarki Jan Grudzinski) sailed on her seventh patrol on the 23rd of May. She was sent to the central region of the North Sea. A wireless message was sent from Rosyth on the 1st and 2nd of June to the Orzel, with an order to change her patrol area and proceed for the Skagerrak. No signals had been received from the Orzel since her departure and on the 5th of June the order was sent for her to return. She failed to acknowledge reception of this signal (as well as the other signals) and she never came back to her base. The 8th of June, 1940, has been officially accepted as the day of the Orzel's loss.

What happened to Orzel? She has still not been found, but there are two possible explanations.

The Admiralty stated in 1962 that Orzel had been lost in a British minefield at 57'00N/03'40E on 25 May. That minefield had only recently been laid there, and it was admitted that it had not been possible to inform all of the allied ships, including Orzel, about the existence of that new minefield. (Presumably it was not possible to inform ships which were already at sea when the minefield was laid). That Admiralty statement is held in the Public Record Office under Class Mark ADM 199/1925. It is also worth mentioning that British acoustic stations heard a loud noise that day, which was assumed to have probably been something hitting a mine.

The date of loss might have been 8 June. When Orzel was returning to Rosyth she might have hit a mine in a new German minefield, 16B, which was located near the British minefield. The Allies were unaware of the existence of minefield 16B at that time, and it was considered very likely that the Dutch Submarine O-13 was lost in that minefield five days later. The location of this and some other German minefields were not known until German charts were captured with Enigma material during the raid to the Lofotens and Maaloy in capture a German weather reporting trawler known to be north-east of Iceland carried out on 7 May 1941.

More on Orzel can be found at this website (offsite link).

A documentary about the Orzel is now in pre-production. Dutch Direcotor Wouter van Opdorp will be reconstructing the legend of the brave crew members in a feature length film which will be announced for 2007.

 

Commands listed for ORP Orzel (85 A)

Please note that we're still working on this section.

CommanderFromTo
1Kmdr ppor. Henryk Kloczkowski, ORP2 Feb 193814 Sep 1939
2Kpt. mar. Jan Grudzinski, ORP15 Sep 19398 Jun 1940 (+)

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Notable events involving Orzel include:


29 Dec 1939

Convoy ON 6.

This convoy departed Methil on 29 December 1939 and arrived in Norwegian waters near Bergen on 1 January 1940.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Highlander (British, 1216 GRT, built 1916), Rigel (Finnish, 1477 GRT, built 1937), Salerno (British, 870 GRT, built 1924), Vienti (Finnish, 1715 GRT, built 1911) and Wanda (Finnish, 1902 GRT, built 1897).

The small minelayer HMS Ringdove (Lt. C.R. Pilgrim, RN) was also part of this convoy.

A close escort was provided for the convoy made up of the destroyers HMS Exmouth (Cdr. R.S. Benson, DSO, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN), HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St.J. Morgan, RN), HMS Escapade (Cdr. H.R. Graham, RN) and the submarine ORP Orzel (Lt.Cdr. J. Grudzinski).

A close cover force, made up of the light cruisers HMS Glasgow (Capt. F.H. Pegram, RN) and HMS Edinburgh (Capt. C.M. Blackman, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral G.F.B. Edward-Collins, CB, KCVO, RN) departed Rosyth on 30 December.

At 0050Z/30, the Highlander parted company to proceed to Aberdeen escorted by HMS Eclipse. HMS Eclipse rejoined the convoy screen around 1000Z/30.

During the night of 29/30 December, the Vienti had straggled from the convoy and was not seen again before the convoy arrived in Norwegian waters.

At 1100Z/30, HMS Eclipse was again detached but now to escort HMS Ringdove towards Scapa Flow. At 1555Z/30, the escort was taken over by the auxiliary A/S trawler HMS Arctic Explorer (Skr. C.L. Buchan, RNR). HMS Eclipse rejoined the convoy screen around 15 minutes later. By that time the Rigel and Wanda had also straggled from the convoy being unable to keep up even at 6.5 knots. They rejoined the convoy the next day after the remainder of the convoy had doubled back for a while as Capt. Benson had been ordered to do so due the important cargoes the ships had on board.

The convoy arrived in Norwegian waters on 1 January where it was dispersed.

1 Jan 1940

Convoy HN 6.

This convoy departed from Norwegian waters near Bergen on 1 January 1940 and the bulk of the convoy arrived at Methil on 4 January 1940.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Boreas (Norwegian, 2801 GRT, built 1920), Catherine (Estonian, 1885 GRT, built 1904), Consul Bratt (Swedish, 1117 GRT, built 1913), Corona (Finish, 1569 GRT, built 1922), Crown Arun (British, 2372 GRT, built 1938), Dokka (Norwegian, 1168 GRT, built 1925), Dux (Norwegian, 1590 GRT, built 1934), Eros (Norwegian, 974 GRT, built 1922), Fagerbro (Norwegian, 994 GRT, built 1923), Garm (Swedish, 1231 GRT, built 1912), Gaston Micard (Norwegian, 982 GRT, built 1917), Glen Tilt (British, 871 GRT, built 1920), Granli (Norwegian, 1577 GRT, built 1935), Hague (British, 974 GRT, built 1919), Haukefjell (Norwegian, 2495 GRT, built 1921), Havtor (Norwegian, 1524 GRT, built 1930), Hektos (Finnish, 2108 GRT, built 1903), Ibis (Norwegian, 1367 GRT, built 1918), Iris (Swedish,1974 GRT, built 1886), Kalix (Swedish, 2801 GRT, built 1913), Kis (Norwegian, 1249 GRT, built 1915), Majorca (British, 1126 GRT, built 1921), Maurita (Norwegian, 1569 GRT, built 1925), Miranda (Norwegian, 1328 GRT, built 1920), Oria (Norwegian, 2127 GRT, built 1920), Plato (Swedish, 836 GRT, built 1898), Porjus (Swedish, 2965 GRT, built 1906), Saimaa (Finnish, 2001 GRT, built 1922), Sarmatia (Finnish, 2417 GRT, built 1901), Sirius (Swedish, 1832 GRT, built 1889), Skarv (Norwegian, 852 GRT, built 1923), Svarton (Swedish, 2475 GRT, built 1906), Transport (Norwegian, 1998 GRT, built 1921), Ulv (Norwegian, 938 GRT, built 1920), Wiima (Finnish, 3272 GRT, built 1897) and Zilos (Finnish, 1711 GRT, built 1884).

On departure the convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Exmouth (Cdr. R.S. Benson, DSO, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN), HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St.J. Morgan, RN), HMS Escapade (Cdr. H.R. Graham, RN) and the submarine ORP Orzel (Lt.Cdr. J. Grudzinski).

A distant cover force for the convoy was also nearby, it was made up of the light cruisers HMS Glasgow (Capt. F.H. Pegram, RN) and HMS Edinburgh (Capt. C.M. Blackman, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral G.F.B. Edward-Collins, CB, KCVO, RN).

On forming up in bad visibility four of the merchant ships failed to join the convoy.

Around 1015Z/2, the destroyers HMS Eskimo (Cdr. St.J.A. Micklethwait, RN) and HMS Tartar (Lt.Cdr. D.E. Holland-Martin, DSC, RN) joined the close escort.

Around 0800Z/3, the destroyers HMS Fearless (Cdr. K.L. Harkness, RN) and HMS Fury (Cdr. G.F. Burghard, RN) joined the convoy to take the ' westcoast section ' with them. The ships that were to proceed to the westcoast were the Consul Bratt, Fagerbro, Hektos, Maurita, Oria, Saimaa and Zilos.

Around 0630A/4, the Glen Tilt and Hague parted company with the convoy and proceeded to Dundee.

The remainder of the convoy arrived off Methil on 4 January.

8 Apr 1940
Around 1200 hours the Polish submarine Orzel (Kapitan Marynarki Jan Grudzinski) torpedoed and sank the German troop transport Rio de Janeiro (5261 GRT) about 15 nautical miles south-south-east of Lillesand, Norway in position 58°08'N 08°29'E.

10 Apr 1940
ORP Orzel (Kapitan Marynarki Jan Grudzinski) fires two torpedoes against the German auxiliary patrol vessel V 705 in the Skagerrak. Both torpedoes missed their target.

Media links


Stand by to Surface

Baxter, Richard


Orzel's Patrol

Sopocko, Eryk


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