In February of 1941 Bryant and the Sealion shelled and sank the Norwegian cargo vessel Hurtigruten and in May attacked the German sub U-74 but, again, was unsuccessful. However, in July, Commander Bryant wreaked havoc on French shipping lanes, taking down four French fishing vessels in quick order. Bryant and his boat were dispatched to hunt the fearsome German battleship Bismarck (along with the bulk of the Royal Navy in the vicinity) but the beast was finished off without his assistance. Not long after, Ben Bryant was promoted to commander and given command of HMS Safari (P211), another S-class boat. This was the command that Ben Bryant is probably most associated with as he and his crew on the Safari wrought havoc on Axis shipping lanes in the Mediterranean. It was a critical operation as British success or failure depended on the struggle against the German and Italian forces in North Africa under Field Marshal Rommel. If they could conquer Egypt, the rest of the Middle East would have been scarcely defensible and the spine of the British Empire would have been severed. In the desert, almost everything depended on logistics and when Rommel and his Axis forces had sufficient supplies, they advanced, when they did not, they retracted. Ben Bryant and his sailors on the Safari made sure Rommel’s troops got as few supplies as possible.
“Ben Bryant was one of those men who are big enough to give you confidence in yourself by assuming you can do your job without appearing to check up on you. He believed in taking the game of war seriously; nevertheless it somehow always seemed a game. He strove continuously to make himself and his men as efficient as possible, and was out to hit the enemy with all he knew, but he did so with such an air of gay bravado that half the time you had an odd feeling that you were playing at pirates. With his erect height, his seadog beard and arrogant eye, he was the typical submarine captain of the public imagination. He had a fine command of the English language, which he used to good effect in recounting yarns in the wardroom, inventing ballads, or expressing his opinion of some ineptitude on the part of one of his officers or men. He had the rare gift of being able to switch, without loss of dignity, from commanding officer to entertaining messmate.”