Allied Warships

HMS Esk (H 15)

Destroyer of the E class


HMS Esk prewar

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassE 
PennantH 15 
Built bySwan Hunter and Wigham Richardson Ltd. (Wallsend-on-Tyne, U.K.): Wallsend 
Ordered1 Nov 1932 
Laid down23 Mar 1933 
Launched19 Mar 1934 
Commissioned26 Sep 1934 
Lost31 Aug 1940 
Loss position53° 30'N, 3° 47'E
History

On 31 August 1940 HMS Esk (Lt.Cdr. Richard John Hullis Couch, DSC, RN) was mined and sunk about 40 nautical miles north-west of Texel island, the Netherlands in position 53º30'N, 03º47'E. For more information see events listed below on this page.  

Commands listed for HMS Esk (H 15)

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CommanderFromTo
1Lt. Richard John Hollis Couch, RN14 Feb 19381 Sep 1940 (+)

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Notable events involving Esk include:


22 Sep 1939
To conduct an operation against German shipping off the Norwegian coast the light cruiser HMS Aurora (Capt. G.B. Middleton, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.H.C. Hallifax, RN) and the destroyers HMS Tartar (Capt. G.H. Warner, DSC, RN), HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. St. J.A. Micklethwait, RN) and HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, RN) departed Scapa Flow as well as the light cruisers HMS Southampton (Capt. F.W.H. Jeans, CVO, RN), HMS Sheffield (Capt. E. de F. Renouf, CVO, RN), HMS Glasgow (Capt. F.H. Pegram, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, RN), HMS Javelin (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN), HMS Jersey (Lt.Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN) and HMS Jupiter (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, RN) departed Rosyth.

To provide cover for this operation two forces were deployed from Scapa Flow. One force was made up of the battlecruisers HMS Hood (Capt. I.G. Glennie, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Repulse (Capt. E.J. Spooner, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Fame (Cdr. P.N. Walter, RN), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, RN), HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN) and HMS Fortune (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, RN).

The other force was made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN, flying the flag of Admiral J.M. Forbes, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. E.N. Syfret, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. C.S. Daniel, RN), HMS Fearless (Cdr. K.L. Harkness, RN), HMS Foxhound (Lt.Cdr. P.H. Hadow, RN), HMS Somali (Capt. R.S.G. Nicholson, DSC, RN), HMS Mashona (Cdr. P.V. McLaughlin, RN) and HMS Matabele (Cdr. G.K. Whitmy-Smith, RN). Later the destroyers HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN), HMS Fury (Cdr. G.F. Burghard, RN), HMS Esk (Lt.Cdr. R.J.H. Couch, RN) and HMS Express (Cdr. J.G. Bickford, RN) joined at sea.

The raid was abandoned when HMS Javelin and HMS Jersey collided in position 57°09'N, 03°08'W at 2038/22.

All forces returned to their port of departure on 23 September but not before HMS Hood reported an explosion at 1330/23. The destroyers HMS Firedrake and HMS Fortune were detached to investigate but no contact was obtained. In fact this was indeed an attack by a German submarine; U-24 which reported to have made a failed torpedo attack at 1328/23 on HMS Hood and two escorting destroyers.

13 Mar 1940
On or around 13 March 1940 German U-boat U-44 hit a mine in the barrage Field No. 7 laid by the British destroyers HMS Express (Cdr. J.G. Bickford, DSC, RN) HMS Esk (Lt.Cdr. R.J.H. Couch, RN), HMS Icarus (Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSC, RN) and HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, RN) on 3 March 1940.

6 Apr 1940
On 6 April 1940 German U-boat U-1 hit a mine in the barrage Field No. 7 laid by the British destroyers HMS Express (Cdr. J.G. Bickford, DSC, RN) HMS Esk (Lt.Cdr. R.J.H. Couch, RN), HMS Icarus (Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSC, RN) and HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, RN) on 3 March 1940.

9 May 1940
The mine laying destroyers HMS Express (Cdr. J.G. Bickford, DSC, RN), HMS Esk (Lt.Cdr. R.J.H. Couch, RN) and HMS Intrepid (Cdr. R.G. Gordon, RN) lay 180 mines in known German swept channels in operation XMG.

2 Aug 1940
On or around 2 August 1940 German U-boat U-25 hit a mine in the barrage Field No. 7 laid by the British destroyers HMS Express (Cdr. J.G. Bickford, DSC, RN) HMS Esk (Lt.Cdr. R.J.H. Couch, RN), HMS Icarus (Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSC, RN) and HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, RN) on 3 March 1940.

31 Aug 1940
On 31 August 1940 a group of destroyers sailed from Immingham on a mine laying mission off the Dutch coast. The minelayers were from the 20th Destroyer Flotilla and consisted of the destroyers HMS Express (Cdr. J.G. Bickford, DSC, RN), HMS Esk (Lt.Cdr. R.J.H. Couch, DSC, RN), HMS Icarus (Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSC, RN), HMS Intrepid (Cdr. R.C. Gordon, RN) and HMS Ivanhoe (Cdr. P.H. Hadow, RN). The minelayers were escorted by members of the 5th Destroyer Flotilla consisted of the destroyers HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Jupiter (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, RN) and HMS Vortigern (Lt.Cdr. R.S. Howlett, RN). Aerial reconnaissance detected a German force and the ships of the 20th and 5th DF were ordered to intercept, believing wrongly that the German ships were part of an invasion force. HMS Express struck a mine and was badly damaged, HMS Esk went to her assistance and hit mine and sank immediately, HMS Ivanhoe also went to her assistance and hit a mine and was badly damaged, so much so she had to be sunk by HMS Kelvin. The following day they were joined by the light cruisers HMS Aurora (Capt. L.H.K. Hamilton, DSO, RN) and HMS Galatea (Capt. B.B. Schofield, RN) and while returning to base HMS Galatea struck another mine and was slightly damaged off Cleaner Shoal Buoy near the Humber light vessel.

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British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.


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