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HMS URGE: EP Tomkinson and his WWII Submarine Command

25 Apr 23


(Hesketh House – £12.99)

ISBN 978 1 7397625 1 3

75 pages

Originally prepared for the families of those lost in HMS Urge, and a series of commemorative events held in 2022, including the unveiling of a memorial in Malta attended by the country’s President and the British High Commissioner,[1]HMS Urge: EP Tomkinson and His WWII Submarine Command is a compact volume. HMS Urge was a British U-class submarine lost off Malta in April 1942, and commanded by the notable, and perhaps one of the Royal Navy’s best submarine commanders, Lieutenant Commander Edward Tomkinson, DSO*, RN. This book is written by his grandson, Francis Dickinson, who has also been instrumental in the discovery of the wreck of Urge in 2019, a couple of miles off Fort St. Elmo, Malta. In HMS Urge, Dickinson seeks to tell the story of the submarine, its crew, and his grandfather, all of whom served with distinction.

Across 12 chapters, with an accompanying ‘Patrol Summary and Chronology’, ‘List of Personnel Lost with Ranks and Awards’, plus notes on sources and illustrations, Dickinson tells the story of HMS Urge, those who served on it, and its service firstly, off Norway, before deploying to Malta for operations in the Mediterranean. HMS Urge joined the 10thSubmarine Flotilla, based in Malta, and undertook operations against shipping, including damaging the Italian battleship Vittorio Veneto in December 1941, sinking the Italian cruiser Giovanni Delle Bande Nere in April 1942, and supporting Secret Intelligence Service and Special Boat Service missions in the region. A foreword by Vice Admiral Sir Ian McGeoch, written before his death in 2007 and in anticipation of this book, is also included. Dickinson’s narrative is well-done and informative, with an excellent selection of photographs accompanying the text.

Dickinson notes in his Introduction that “HRH Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh took an interest in and supported the aims of work undertaken on Urge’s history from 2016 until his death in 2021”, with the story having “particular resonance for him”. The Virtual Underwater Museum of Malta includes HMS Urge with photographs of the wreck and a 3D reconstruction online.[2] Although prepared as a booklet to support the 2022 commemorations, with plans for a fuller volume in due course, HMS Urge will be of much interest to members of The Naval Review. It is a well-written, and thoughtful tribute to those who served in HMS Urge and more widely. Recommended.


[1] Royal Navy, ‘Maritime Mystery Put to Rest with Submarine Memorial Unveiling’, 29 April 2022,

[2] ‘HMS Urge’, The Virtual Underwater Museum, Underwater Malta,