Allied Warships

HMS Wessex (i) (D 43)

Destroyer of the Admiralty V & W class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassAdmiralty V & W 
PennantD 43 
Built byHawthorn Leslie & Co. (Hebburn-on-Tyne, U.K.) 
Ordered9 Dec 1916 
Laid down23 May 1917 
Launched12 Mar 1918 
Commissioned11 May 1918 
Lost24 May 1940 
Loss position51° 01'N, 1° 45'E
History

On 24 May 1940 HMS Wessex (Lt.Cdr. William Archibald Rosebery Cartwright, RN) was bombed and sunk off Calais by German aircraft.
The wreck lies in 35 meters of water in position 51º00'54"N, 01º45'50"E.

 

Commands listed for HMS Wessex (i) (D 43)

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CommanderFromTo
1Lt.Cdr. William Archibald Rosebery Cartwright, RN31 Jul 193924 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.

In the early hours of 29 October the German submarine U-34 attacked the convoy and the merchant vessel Malabar was torpedoed and sunk. The survivors were picked up by HMS Grafton.

On 30 October the merchant vessel Cairnmona which had split off from the convoy was torpedoed and sunk off the west coast of the U.K. by the German submarine U-13

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)

Media links


British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

Sources

  1. Personal communication

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