Allied Warships

ORP Orzel (85 A)

Submarine of the Orzel class


NavyThe Polish Navy
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 

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.

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:

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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