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HMS REGENT, Missing WWII Submarine, FOUND AFTER 80 YEARS

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A British submarine that went missing during World War II is believed to have been found, solving a nearly 80-year-old mystery.

On April 18, 1943, an explosion was heard offshore near Monopoli on the Adriatic coast of Italy, and HMS Regent was never seen again.

Four bodies, clad in the Davis escape gear used by British submariners, washed ashore in the following weeks.

But the bodies were never identified and the wreck was never found, meaning there was no closure for the families of the 62 crew.

Hopes were dashed in 2003, when an Italian submarine wreck near Barletta, some 70 miles north of Monopoli, was misidentified as the Regent.

But now experts think they have something real, with divers assisted by the Italian Naval League (LNI), a government body, claiming to have found the wreck off the coast near Villanova di Ostuni, some 19 miles from Monopoli. .

The discovery is expected to bring closure to the families of the fallen.

For the family of William Trice, the chief architect of the Regent’s engine room, the trauma of their loss reverberates through the generations.

William’s son, Barry, spent years investigating the Regent’s disappearance before his death in 2003, and his grandson, Dick, continues that investigation today.

Even after 80 years, the loss still looms large in the family’s mind.

Mr. Trice’s daughter Abbie, William’s great-granddaughter, has a tattoo of the Regent on her arm and now serves aboard a minesweeper in the Royal Australian Navy.

Reacting to the news of the submarine’s discovery, Trice said the location of the wreck “aligns perfectly” with what is known about the final movements of the ship.

A British submarine that went missing during World War II is believed to have been found, solving a nearly 80-year-old mystery.  On April 18, 1943, an explosion was heard offshore near Monopoli on the Adriatic coast of Italy, and HMS Regent (pictured) was never seen again.

A British submarine that went missing during World War II is believed to have been found, solving a nearly 80-year-old mystery. On April 18, 1943, an explosion was heard offshore near Monopoli on the Adriatic coast of Italy, and HMS Regent (pictured) was never seen again.

For the family of William Trice, the chief architect of the Regent's engine room, the trauma of their loss reverberates through the generations.  Above: William Trice with his son Barry and his wife Winifred

For the family of William Trice, the chief architect of the Regent's engine room, the trauma of their loss reverberates through the generations.  Above: William Trice with his son Barry and his wife Winifred

For the family of William Trice, the chief architect of the Regent’s engine room, the trauma of their loss reverberates through the generations. Above: William Trice with his son Barry and his wife Winifred

William's son, Barry, spent years investigating the Regent's disappearance before his death in 2003, and his grandson, Dick, continues that investigation today.  Even after 80 years, the loss still looms large in the family's mind.  Above: Mr Trice with his daughter Abbie

William's son, Barry, spent years investigating the Regent's disappearance before his death in 2003, and his grandson, Dick, continues that investigation today.  Even after 80 years, the loss still looms large in the family's mind.  Above: Mr Trice with his daughter Abbie

William’s son, Barry, spent years investigating the Regent’s disappearance before his death in 2003, and his grandson, Dick, continues that investigation today. Even after 80 years, the loss still looms large in the family’s mind. Above: Mr Trice with his daughter Abbie

Mr. Trice's daughter, Abbie, now serves aboard a minesweeper in the Royal Australian Navy.

Mr. Trice's daughter, Abbie, now serves aboard a minesweeper in the Royal Australian Navy.

Mr. Trice’s daughter, Abbie, now serves aboard a minesweeper in the Royal Australian Navy.

Abbie—William's great-granddaughter—has a Regent tattoo on her arm

Abbie—William's great-granddaughter—has a Regent tattoo on her arm

Abbie, William’s great-granddaughter, has a tattoo of the Regent on her arm.

Fabio Bisciotti, who heads the LNI’s underwater study group, said: “This wreck is 75m deep and is upside down.”

“When we got to this wreck, at first, it was hard to understand that we were talking about the Regent.

“But if you study the hull, the composition of the steel, the stern and the bow, we have seen that we are talking about a British design.

William Trice, chief engineer in the engine room aboard HMS Regent

William Trice, chief engineer in the engine room aboard HMS Regent

William Trice, chief engineer in the engine room aboard HMS Regent

“The dimensions of this wreck match a British design and of course at the bow we are talking about six torpedo tubes, three per side.

“If we’re talking about a German submarine or an Italian submarine, we’re talking about four torpedo tubes, two per side.”

The newly found wreck lies off the coast near Villanova di Ostuni, about 19 miles from Monopoli.

Images of the wreck as it appears today, captured by Michele Favaron and Stefania Bellesso of the Acquelibere Sub Padova diving club, reveal the aftermath of an explosion.

It fits with the theory that the Regent struck a mine and sank after attacking a convoy; hence the explosion heard offshore on April 18, 1943.

Bisciotti is emphatic that there is only one British submarine that could have been wrecked in that area at the time.

He said: ‘Mathematically, it’s not an opinion, if we want to talk about this shipwreck, it’s surely the Regent, because no one else was in this area.

‘In April 1943, looking at all the British submarine logs in the Mediterranean Sea, only the Regent was patrolling the area.’

Mr. Trice said: “My stepmother said that the only time she saw my father upset and cry was when he reminded her of her emotions about her father.”

‘It’s a funny thing – it’s like a learned pain; I feel sorry for the grandfather I never had; a sense of loss from someone I’ve never met.

“It’s like this pain that just goes down the generations.”

For Trice, who moved from Birmingham to Adelaide, South Australia, in 2012, locating the wreck off Barletta never made sense, given where the four bodies were dumped.

Fabio Bisciotti, who heads the LNI’s underwater study group, said: “This wreck is 75m deep and is upside down.”

The newly found wreck lies off the coast near Villanova di Ostuni, about 19 miles from Monopoli.

The newly found wreck lies off the coast near Villanova di Ostuni, about 19 miles from Monopoli.

The newly found wreck lies off the coast near Villanova di Ostuni, about 19 miles from Monopoli.

“If you put it off Monopoli, it all lines up perfectly,” he said.

‘If you postpone it in the other city, it doesn’t work.’

The 57-year-old continued: “They gave the ultimate sacrifice and I think it’s important that families close down, and I think it’s important from a historical point of view.”

“As a family we are so grateful to Fabio for his efforts in going looking for this wreck so we know what ultimately happened.

“It doesn’t bring the person back, you’re not going to change that fact, but at least we like to know what really happened.”

A Royal Navy spokesman said they could not yet confirm the discovery, due to the wreck being upside down and the fact that key sections were buried under the seabed.

Regent is believed to have struck a mine and sank after attacking a convoy;  hence the explosion heard offshore on 18 April 1943. Above: The photo shows the interior of HMS Regent, looking towards the torpedo tubes.

Regent is believed to have struck a mine and sank after attacking a convoy;  hence the explosion heard offshore on 18 April 1943. Above: The photo shows the interior of HMS Regent, looking towards the torpedo tubes.

Regent is believed to have struck a mine and sank after attacking a convoy; hence the explosion heard offshore on 18 April 1943. Above: The photo shows the interior of HMS Regent, looking towards the torpedo tubes.

Photo shows Stop Press notice relating to the loss of HMS Regent

Photo shows Stop Press notice relating to the loss of HMS Regent

Photo shows Stop Press notice relating to the loss of HMS Regent

However, they said they can confirm the wreck is that of HMS Regent as more information comes to light.

They said: ‘We appreciate the efforts to locate the wreck of HMS Regent which, even after the passing of eight decades, would bring a sense of closure to the families and descendants of those tragically lost when it sank.

“We are also especially grateful for all the efforts made to protect the final resting place of those who gave their lives in the service of our country.”

The wreck off Barletta is believed to be the Giovanni Bausan, an Italian submarine later used as an oil depot and ultimately for target practice.

Mr. Bisciotti’s team included Michele Favaron, Stefania Bellesso, Giuseppe Iacomino and Graziano Servello.