Submariner found 73 years after disappearance

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[21/09/16] In the first of a series, we take a look at local North-East military history.

The final resting place of a submariner from Thornaby was discovered off the coast of Sardinia, 73 years after he went missing.

Wilf Foundling, Stoker 1st Class, along with 70 other crew members, were reported missing in January 1943 on board HMS P311 in the Mediterranean Sea.

On 28 December 1942, the submarine left Malta and was en-route to La Maddalen, Sardinia, where she was to attack two Italian 8-inch gun cruisers, the Gorizia and the Trieste using two chariot manned torpedoes.

The submarine sent its final signal on 31 December 1942, and then disappeared without a trace.

Wilf was 21 when he went missing, and he is remembered on the Thornaby Cenotaph & The Chatham Naval War Memorial.

The HMS P311 was a T-class submarine of the Royal Navy, and the only boat of her class never to be given a name. She was originally meant to be called Tutankhamen, after the Egyptian King, but was lost in the Mediterranean before the new name could be formally assigned.

In May 2016 an italian diver and his team discovered the wreckage of the sunken T-class vessel 100 metres deep off the coast of Sardinia, close to Tavolara Island.

It is believed that the submarine sank after hitting a mine during the crew’s mission, but the wreckage is still in a good condition.

The wreck will remain where it is, as once a military vessel sinks, it becomes a war grave and is not moved unless there are extremely compelling historical or operational reasons to do so.

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