destroyers

Jul

23

1941

Torpedo attack on Malta convoy

the royal Navy cruiser HMS Manchester was hit by a torpedo while escorting a convoy to Malta on 23rd July 1941.

One, just skimming the sea, burst out of the haze and flew between HMS Eridge and her neighbour. [Leading Seaman] Rayner managed a short burst with the pom-pom. He could clearly see the pale, strained face of her gunner, a man with only seconds to live, as he swung his weapon and peppered the upperworks with a few ineffectual rounds.

May

30

1941

Evacuation of Crete continues

An overview of British naval operations during the battle for Crete.

Many casualties were received amoungst these men but we did not receive any damage, and soon became known throughout the East Mediterranean as a ‘lucky ship’. On this trip especially the medical and supply branches of the ship worked night and day to look after this huge number of men.

May

29

1941

The evacuation from Crete

The destroyer HMS Imperial - her steering was damaged by a near miss during the evcauation from Crete and she had to sunk by torpedo after her crew had been taken off.

We were not really in favourable condition to evacuate some twenty-two thousand soldiers, most of them from an open beach, in the face of the Luftwaffe. But there was no alternative. The Army could not be left to its fate. The Navy must carry on.

Nov

20

1940

German ‘E Boat’ sunk off Southwold

A German 'Schnellboot' or fast boat is loaded with torpedoes - they were called 'E' boats by the British.

Prisoners stated that their vessel was hit on the port side seven or eight times. “S 38” attempted to escape, tried to lay a smoke screen but, owing to the damaged steering-gear, could only go round in a curve. One engine was put out of action and a fire started in the fuel tank. Some men jumped overboard immediately the fire broke out. A seaman ran aft with the intention of dropping depth charges in the course of the pursuing destroyer, but a burst of machine-gun fire from the British discouraged this attempt.

Aug

5

1940

Condor aircraft join the Battle of the Atlantic

Focke-Wulf Fw 200 C Condor

The FW 200 Condor began patrols from Bordeaux-Merignac airfield in western France in August 1940. Flying in wide sweeps out over the Bay of Biscay and into the Atlantic west of Ireland it would continue round the north of Britain and land in Norway, a route that encompassed most of the possible convoy routes. It proved highly effective not only because of its bomb load, but also in its capacity as a reconnaissance aircraft capable of calling in U-Boat attacks.

Aug

4

1940

The Royal Navy remains on full alert

Two destroyers silhouetted against the skyline.

Although darkness was falling, the Captain decided to carry out a sweep to the northward in the hope of finding the second lifeboat; ships were spread five miles apart and speed increased to twenty-seven knots. A man was placed in the crow’s-nest, and the look-outs were instructed to sweep the horizon with their glasses.

Jun

8

1940

HM Ships Glorious, Acasta and Ardent sunk

world war 2 aircraft carrier at sea - hms glorious

The escorting destroyer [HMS Ardent] on the port side of the battleships continued her torpedo attacks and tried, extremely skilfully, to avoid the effective defensive fire of the battleships’ medium armament by means of constant alterations of course. Finally this destroyer also opened fire on the battleships. She fought with outstanding resolution in a situation that was hopeless for her. The destroyer received numerous hits and finally went down, her bow armament firing to the last and her engines apparently in order and driving her at high speed. The final range was about 5 miles.

Jun

3

1940

The grim state of a ship returned from Dunkirk

Nearly 300,000 troops had been returned from Dunkirk by the 2nd May. This is one of the officially released photographs and as such does not reflect the state in which many of the men returned.

The soldiers and ship’s crew who had survived were disembarked and the wounded were removed and taken to hospital. Such were the conditions when our little party arrived at dockside. It was a beautiful summer morning, but there was an unnatural quietness hanging all around. Even the view from dockside brought a hushed feeling to all who looked.

May

29

1940

Dunkirk evacuation underway – HMS Grafton sunk

Troops under fire on the beaches of Dunkirk, as seen from a ship offshore.

I pushed my way out on deck. Someone said: ‘Keep down. They’re machine-gunnmg us.’ I huddled against a steel door and watched the fight. Two dark shapes in the middle distance turned out to be German M.T.B.’s. The destroyer and another British warship were giving them hell with shells and tracer-bullets. The M.T.B.’s were answering with machine-gun fire. But one by one they were hit. We saw them leap into the air and then settle down’ into the water and sink. Everyone sighed with relief….

Apr

30

1940

British troops evacuated from Namsos and Andalsnes

HMS Bittern ablaze in Namsos Fjord after having suffered a direct hit in the stern by a bomb.

578 troops were pushed into us. They were in a completely demoralised state and had been machine gunned and bombed the whole day by 3 Heinkels who had come all the way from Hamburg! They hadn’t seen many German troops, but lots of parachutists, with light tanks, bicycles and field artillery in pieces!