HMS Wessex (i) (D 43)
Destroyer of the Admiralty V & W class
|Navy||The Royal Navy|
|Class||Admiralty V & W|
|Built by||Hawthorn Leslie & Co. (Hebburn-on-Tyne, U.K.)|
|Ordered||9 Dec 1916|
|Laid down||23 May 1917|
|Launched||12 Mar 1918|
|Commissioned||11 May 1918|
|Lost||24 May 1940|
|Loss position||51° 01'N, 1° 45'E|
On 24 May 1940 HMS Wessex (Lt.Cdr. William Archibald Rosebery Cartwright, RN) was bombed and sunk off Calais by German aircraft.
Commands listed for HMS Wessex (i) (D 43)
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|1||Lt.Cdr. William Archibald Rosebery Cartwright, RN||31 Jul 1939||24 May 1940|
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Notable events involving Wessex (i) include:
17 Oct 1939
Convoy HX 5.
This convoy departed Halifax on 17 October 1939 and the bulk of the convoy arrived at Liverpool on 29 October 1939.
The convoy was made up of the following ships; Cairnglen (British, 5019 GRT, built 1926), Cairnmona (British, 4666 GRT, built 1918), Cairnvalona (British, 4929 GRT, built 1918), Dunaff Head (British, 5258 GRT, built 1918), Floride (French, 7030 GRT, built 1921), Gracia (British, 5642 GRT, built 1921), Hindpool (British, 4897 GRT, built 1928), Malabar (British, 7976 GRT, built 1938), Manchester Commerce (British, 5343 GRT, built 1925), New Westminster City (British, 4747 GRT, built 1929), Norwegian (British, 6366 GRT, built 1921), Penrose (British, 4393 GRT, built 1928), Rancher (British, 5882 GRT, built 1927), San Ernesto (British (tanker), 8078 GRT, built 1939), Trelissick (British, 5265 GRT, built 1919) and Vaclite (British (tanker), 5026 GRT, built 1928).
On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by heavy cruiser HMS York (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMCS Fraser (Cdr. W.B. Creery, RCN) and HMCS St. Laurent (Lt.Cdr. H.G. de Wolf, RCN).
Around 0930/19 the convoy was joined by the light cruiser HMS Emerald (Capt. A.W.S. Agar, VC, DSO, RN).
At 1000/19, HMS York parted company with the convoy after which she proceeded on patrol. The destroyers also parted company with the convoy on this day.
At 0600/28, the destroyers HMS Grafton (Cdr. M.S. Thomas, RN) and HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN) joined the convoy followed at 1600/28 by HMS Wessex (Lt.Cdr. W.A.R. Cartwright, RN). At 1700/28, HMS Emerald parted company with the convoy and set course for Plymouth.
24 May 1940
The Polish destroyer Burza was ordered to join the British destroyers HMS Vimiera and HMS Wessex and shell German positions in Calais area. At 16.20 the Allied vessels opened fire on enemy armoured column at Sangatte Hill, west of Calais. 10 minutes later they were attacked by 27 German airplanes which hit and sank HMS Wessex. HMS Vimiera managed to escape. Then the entire enemy air group concentrated on the Polish destroyer. The AA guns (2 40 mm) jammed due to shrapnel hits, three bombs exploded in the water. They caused boiler damage and loss of speed. The commander (Lt.Cdr. Francki) ordered to emergency launch the torpedoes and drop all depth charges, trying to avoid additional explosions. Shortly after this, two bombs hit the Burza and badly damaged her. However the airplanes had dropped all of their bombs and broke off the attack. The crew managed to stop the leakage and return to Dover. One German airplane was shot down during the action. (1)
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