Operation Train (ii)

'Train' (ii) was a British attempt to run a disguised merchantman, loaded with aviation fuel, ammunition and food, to Malta (1/3 November 1942).

In this undertaking the 3,338-ton Empire Patrol, as the captured Italian merchant vessel Rodi had been renamed, was loaded at Alexandria with 1,200 tons of cased petrol, 300 tons of cased benzine and, as she was a refrigerated ship, a quantity of food. The ship was to depart Alexandria and steam to the east of Cyprus under Turkish colours, and then turn to the west through the Ionian Sea under Italian colours.

The ship made her initial northing under escort of the Free Greek destroyers Kondouriotis and Spetsai, but suffered from intermittent mechanical problems. On the morning of the following day the two destroyers turned back toward Egypt, and Empire Patrol headed to the west, still suffering mechanical problems. At about mid-day, the ship was circled by a Dornier bomber and then her look-outs sighted a submarine periscope, so her captain decided to abort the undertaking and head for the Cypriot port of Famagusta, which Empire Patrol reached on the morning of 3 November.

After the failure of this effort, the task of delivering essential supplies to Malta fell to the British submarine arm, in which Clyde, Parthian, Thrasher and Traveller were used, and also the cruiser minelayer Welshman, which was able to deliver torpedoes and concentrated food.