April 27, 1942, HMS Urge started its journey from Malta to Alexandria, Egypt. For 77 years the submarine, with 40 people on-board, had been missing. A recent dive near the coast of Malta revealed the well-preserved submarine wreck.
It was Francis Dickinson, the grandson of HMS Urge captain Lieutenant-Commander E.P. Tomkinson, who requested the University of Malta to help locate the submarine. The university used an unmanned craft to search the area near the island's shore.
During the two-year German siege of the island, the Nazis had heavily mined certain parts of the coastline. In one such area, the craft's sonar detected a submarine-like image at the depth of 130m (426ft). The wreck was about two miles (three kilometres) away from the shoreline.
The images taken by the craft hint at the submarine being hit by a mine. Substantial damage to the bow indicates that the vessel sank too fast for any survivor the escape the boat. Timothy Gambin, a professor from the University of Malta who led the search team, stated that apart from the damages to the bow, the wreck is in well-preserved condition. He also emphasised on the fact that the HMS Urge still faced towards Alexandria where it was supposed to reach on May 6, 1942.
The U-class submarine had been effective in the United Kingdom's battle against the Axis powers. Before being sunk, the HMS Urge had sunk Italian cruiser Giovanni Delle Bande Nere near the Sicily coast.
According to the Royal Navy and the families of those lost with the vessel, HMS Urge disappeared after being hit by a mine. However, The Telegraph pointed out another theory regarding the sub's fate. German naval reports suggest that the HMS Urge was sunk by a dive-bomber while trying to sink an Italian vessel.
Irrespective of how the submarine was sunk, 40 people lost their lives aboard it. 32 crew members, 11 Royal Navy passengers and war journalist Bernard Gray went down with the sub. Gray was noted for covering the Dunkirk evacuation. Gray is the only British journalist to have died onboard a submarine during the Second World War.
In April 2020, the site will be declared a war grave after a ceremony to honour the dead crew and passengers.