HMS Lady Shirley

HMS Lady Shirley (T464), also known as HMT Lady Shirley,[1] was a fishing trawler requisitioned by the Royal Navy in 1940 and converted for anti-submarine warfare duties.[2] She sank U-111 on 4 October 1941, capturing 44 of her crew. Lady Shirley was sunk herself on 11 December 1941, by a single torpedo from U-374

HMS Lady Shirley (ASW trawler)
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Lady Shirley
Operator: Royal Navy
Yard number: 615
Launched: 25 February 1937
Completed: 19 April 1937
Acquired: 1940
Commissioned: February 1941
Fate: Sunk on 11 December 1941 by torpedo from U374 during World War II (Straits of Gibraltar 35.59N, 05.17W)
General characteristics
Class and type: Anti-submarine trawler
Displacement: 472 tonnes
Length: 163.5 ft (49.8 m)
Beam: 27.2 ft (8.3 m)
Propulsion: 120 hp (89 kW)
Speed: 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Complement: 33
Sensors and
processing systems:
ASDIC anti-submarine dome[1]


Lady Shirley was a fishing trawler of 472 tons displacement based at Hull. She was built at Beverley in the UK by Cook, Welton & Gemmell and launched in 1937. She was 164 feet (50.0 m) long and 27 feet (8.2 m) in the beam. She had a 120 horsepower (89 kW) engine giving a top speed of 12 knots (22 km/h).[1]

Service record

She was pressed into service by the Royal Navy in 1940 and converted into an anti-submarine trawler. Conversion included fitting an ASDIC anti-submarine dome, a 4-inch naval gun and depth charges. She had a complement of 33. Lady Shirley went into service in January 1941 and served with the 31st Anti-Submarine Group based at Gibraltar. She was under the command of Lieutenant-Commander Arthur Henry Callaway.[1]

Sinking of U-111

On 4 October 1941, while searching for the damaged Silverbelle, Lady Shirley encountered German submarine U-111 engaged in a similar mission south-west of Tenerife, at position 27°15′N 20°27′W.[2] Mistaking the trawler for the damaged freighter (though Lady Shirley was small, the U-boat skipper thought she was far away) the U-boat was caught at periscope depth when Lady Shirley closed, and was depth charged. Forced to the surface, U-111 was engaged with gunfire until she was abandoned and sunk.[3] Of the U-boat crew of 52, eight were killed, including her commander, Wilhelm Kleinschmidt; 44 survived. Lady Shirley had one crew member killed and several injured in the battle.[1] This was the first time that prisoners of war (POWs) were captured from a U-boat operating in the South Atlantic. German survivors claimed that U-111 was the first U-boat to be lost of those operating in that area.[4]


On 11 December 1941, a torpedo from U-374 hit Lady Shirley, sinking her in the Straits of Gibraltar at position 35°59′N 5°17′W. All 33 crew were lost with their ship.[1][2]


  1. "Lady Shirley H464". Hull Trawler. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  2. Helgason, Guðmundur. "HMS Lady Shirley". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  3. Clay Blair, Hitler’s U-Boat War Vol I (1996) ISBN 0-304-35260-8 pp. 385-6
  4. "U-111 – Interrogation of Survivors". U-boat Archive. Retrieved 26 June 2013.

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