HMS Limbourne and HMS Charybdis were both part of Operation Tunnel. It was an ill fated mission to engage an enemy convoy running between Brest and St Malo. The tactical planning was left to the Senior Officer and the operation consisted of whatever ships were available at the time. This meant that the Operation consisted of ships with a variety of capabilities which had not worked together before.
HMS Limbourne was a Hunt Class destroyer capable of 27 knots armed with four 4" guns and two torpedo tubes. HMS Charybdis was an anti-aircraft cruiser capable of 33 knots, had eight 4.5" guns and had heavy, close range AA armament, not best suited to the requirements of the night action of the operation. The Senior Officer of the Limbourne was only attached to the vessel a few days before the operation and was unable to attend the briefing by the Senior Officer of the Charybdis, so only had a sketchy understanding of the workings of the operation. A series of poor communications during Operation Tunnel led the Limbourne and Charybdis into the firing range of enemy destroyers.
On October 23 1943 off the Sept Isles, during operation Tunnel, the Limbourne was torpedoed by a German destroyer T22. 40 of the 125 on board lost their lives in the attack. The torpedo hit the forward magazine and Limbourne sustained much damage. Attempts to move her under her own steam and to tow her were unsuccessful and eventually she was torpedoed and sunk by the allied forces so that she would not fall into enemy hands.
Early on 23 October 1943 during Operation Tunnel, while near the Sept Isles, the Charybdis was torpedoed twice by German Elbing Class destroyers. In this great tragedy 460 of the ships crew lost their lives, only 107 survived.
So on this ill fated day 505 sailors lost their lives in Operation Tunnel. Over 50 years later we formed part of a team to take underwater video, bringing back images of these shipwrecks which lie in 80m of water in difficult tidal conditions.