destroyers

Jun

14

1942

Under Stuka dive bomb attack in the Mediterranean

The old World war I battleship HMS Centurion had been reclassified as a convoy escort ship and was at the centre of Operation Vigorous.

The enemy was obviously using every available aircraft in a determined effort to claim as many victims as possible before nightfall restricted aerial activity. But, in spite of the number of bombers engaged, they obtained no more hits. As the day slowly advanced, weary cursing, sweating gunners, firing as fast as their ammunition could be loaded, cast many an apprehensive glance at the sun. They dreaded the coming twilight but hoped that the following darkness would bring them a little respite.

Mar

22

1942

Italian battle fleet attacks Malta convoy

HMS CLEOPATRA throws out smoke to shield the convoy as HMS EURYALUS elevates her forward 5.25 inch guns to shell the Italian Fleet.

A series of flashes in the smoke followed by a dull, rumbling boom announced the opening of the surface engagement. As if this was a signal, a formation of torpedo bombers flew into sight, skimming just above the sea. Simultaneously an even larger group of high level bombers were briefly glimpsed through the smoke and clouds on the opposite side of the convoy.

Mar

19

1942

‘Typical Examples of Performance of His Majesty’s Ships’

A heavy sea breaking over the bows of the battleship HMS RENOWN.

In an annex to the weekly Naval Military and Air Reports on the progress of the war, there was was a brief summary of the huge serviceability issues that arose from from warships being at sea for extended periods of time:

Mar

2

1942

Rescued from the sea by the Japanese Navy

HMS Encounter sunk along with HMS Exeter and USS Pope on 1st March 1942, her crew were stranded in the waters of the Java sea .

It must have been about midday, for the sun was vertical and we were just south of the equator. About 200 yards away we thought we saw a Japanese destroyer. Was she a mirage? We all saw her, so perhaps she was real, but our first emotion was not joy or relief, for we expected to be machine-gunned.

Mar

1

1942

HMS Exeter’s final battle

HMS Exeter fighting off an aircraft attack in January 1942 during the Battle of the Banka Straits.

The ship just came to a stop in all departments. The main engines stopped through lack of steam. The dynamos stopped. The turrets were motionless on different bearings. The steering failed. The inside became full of smoke as escaping oil fuel in the forward boiler room burst into flames. There was nothing we could do except sink her.

Dec

13

1941

Italian Navy ambushed again, off Cap Bon

HMS Maori, one of the Tribal class destroyers, sister ship to HMS Sikh which led the attack.

A Wellington aircraft also sighted the force and the enemy hearing her engines turned back, thereby placing our destroyers in a most favourable position for attack. The allied ships had the initiative and opened fire with guns and torpedoes. The two cruisers were set on fire and sunk; one of the torpedo boats was sunk and the other severely damaged. Our ships suffered no casualties or damage.

Nov

9

1941

Force K ambushes an Italian convoy

The cruiser HMS Penelope in Malta harbour, which was the base from which Force K operated.

We opened fire thirty seconds later on the right-hand destroyer, and continued to shoot her up for four minutes. Aurora then led round and passed up the western side of the convoy, and the ‘party’ started, as the merchant ships were deliberately and in turn engaged by the whole force.

Oct

25

1941

Moonlight run to Tobruk ends in disaster

HMS Latona, sunk off Tobruk on the 25th October was the same class of minelayer as HMS Welshman, pictured.

This was fine as long as it was dark, but then some crass idiot decided we should make the trip by moonlight. Crazy, we were spitting distance away from the German North African airbases. We were lucky they had not spotted us in the dark – it is never completely dark – but to try in moonlight… one wonders at the idiocy of man.

Oct

17

1941

The USS Kearney torpedoed in mid Atlantic

Eleven men died when the USS Kearny was torpedoed by U-568 whilst assisting with convoy duties .

About 0010 torpedo struck the ship on starboard side at about the turn of the bilge between frames seventy and seventy four, in latitude 57-04 North, 23-00 West. At this time a second torpedo ran past the starboard side of ship on slightly converging coure and a third was noted crossing astern close abroad from starboard to port.

Sep

27

1941

Malta convoy under attack

The last moments of a german torpedo bomber as it comes under fierce anti aircraft fire during an attack on Royal Navy  forces in the Mediterranean.

On 27 September at 1340 we were very nearly hit – a torpedo from an aircraft missed us by only 20 yards. Attack by torpedo bombers was frightening. They would single you out and fly straight for you at masthead height before dropping their torpedo at very close range. They presented an impossibly small target and were below the depression of most of our guns.