HMS Grafton (H 89)
Destroyer of the G class
|Navy||The Royal Navy|
|Built by||Thornycroft (Southampton, U.K.)|
|Ordered||5 Mar 1934|
|Laid down||30 Aug 1934|
|Launched||18 Sep 1935|
|Commissioned||20 Mar 1936|
|Lost||29 May 1940|
|Loss position||51° 24'N, 2° 49'E|
In the early morning of 29 May 1940, HMS Grafton (Cdr. Cecil Edmund Charles Robinson, RN) was returning to Dover with a load of rescued men from Dunkerque and came upon the sinking British destroyer HMS Wakeful, which had been hit by a German S-boot.
Also at the scene were drifters Comfort and Nautilus as well as minesweeper Lydd. Grafton went alongside and began taking men aboard when she was torpedoed by the German submarine U-62. The torpedo hit at the stern, then a second, hitherto unexplained explosion, occurred in the bridge area, which killed the Captain and 3 other officers that were on the bridge.
The torpedo (the sub had fired only one) blew the stern off but the destroyer remained afloat and on an even keel. At this juncture, drifter Comfort, having been swamped by the torpedo detonation and forced to cast off from Wakeful, was sighted by Lydd and mistaken for an S-boot. She was taken under fire from Grafton and Lydd, then rammed and sunk by the latter with only 5 survivors.
After taking off as many men as possible, Lydd returned to Dover, leaving Grafton alone. Later in the day the British destroyer HMS Ivanhoe arrived at the scene. After an attempt at taking Grafton in tow failed, in consideration of the danger posed by remaining in the area, Ivanhoe's Captain ordered the scuttling of Grafton by torpedo.
The wreck lies in 24 meters of water in position 51º24'28"N, 02º49'10"E.
Hit by U-boat
|U-boat Attack||See our U-boat attack entry for the HMS Grafton|
Commands listed for HMS Grafton (H 89)
Please note that we're still working on this section.
|1||Cdr. Mervyn Somerset Thomas, RN||19 Feb 1938||21 Jan 1940|
|2||Cdr. Cecil Edmund Charles Robinson, RN||21 Jan 1940||29 May 1940 (+)|
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Notable events involving Grafton include:
31 Aug 1939
Several ships from the Mediterranean Fleet departed Alexandria for exercises; these were the battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. V.A.C. Crutchley, VC, DSC, RN, flying the flag of A/Admiral A.B. Cunningham, KCB, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Barham (Capt. H.T.C. Walker, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral G. Layton, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Malaya (Capt. I.B.B. Tower, DSC, RN), heavy cruisers HMS Devonshire (Capt. J.M. Mansfield, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.H.D. Cunningham, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Sussex (Capt. A.R. Hammick, RN), light cruiser HMS Galatea (Capt. E.G.H. Bellars, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.C. Tovey, CB, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Grenville (Capt. G.E. Creasy, MVO, RN), HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN), HMS Grafton (Cdr. M.S. Thomas, RN), HMS Glowworm (Lt.Cdr. G.B. Roope, RN), HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.R. Marshall-A'Deane, RN), HMS Cossack (Capt. D. de Pass, RN) and HMS Maori (Cdr. G.N. Brewer, RN), HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN) and HMS Zulu (Cdr. J.S. Crawford, RN).
At sea they were joined by the aircraft carrier HMS Glorious (Capt. G. D’Oyly-Hughes, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) and her attendant destroyer HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN) which had already been exercising off Alexandria since 30 August.
The Fleet returned to Alexandria in the morning of 1 September 1939. (1)
9 Oct 1939
The battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. V.A.C. Crutchley, VC, DSC, RN, flying the flag of A/Admiral A.B. Cunningham, KCB, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Barham (Capt. H.T.C. Walker, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral G. Layton, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Malaya (Capt. I.B.B. Tower, DSC, RN), the aircraft carrier HMS Glorious (Capt. G. D’Oyly-Hughes, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN), the light cruiser HMS Penelope (Capt. G.D. Yates, RN) and the destroyers HMS Duncan (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN), HMS Daring (Cdr. S.A. Cooper, RN), HMS Dainty (Cdr. F.M. Walton, RN), HMS Grafton (Cdr. M.S. Thomas, RN), HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN), HMS Gipsy (Lt.Cdr. N.J. Crossley, RN) and HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN) conducted exercises off Alexandria.
During the exercises HMS Malaya, HMS Glorious, HMS Daring and HMS Bulldog split off. They were to proceed to the Indian Ocean (Socotra area). They arrived at Port Said later the same day. (3)
11 Oct 1939
Convoy Blue 4.
This convoy departed Port Said on 11 October 1939 for Gibraltar where it arrived on 21 October 1939.
The convoy was made up of the following merchants; Arndale (British (RFA tanker), 8296 GRT, built 1937), Atreus (British, 6547 GRT, built 1911) (this ship parted company with the convoy off Malta), Auris (British (tanker), 8030 GRT, built 1935), British Commander (British (tanker), 6901 GRT, built 1922), British Consul (British (tanker), 6940 GRT, built 1924), British Endeavour (British (tanker), 4580 GRT, built 1927), British Fame (British (tanker), 8406 GRT, built 1936), British Governor (British (tanker), 6840 GRT, built 1926), British Reliance (British (tanker), 7000 GRT, built 1928), Cardium (British (tanker), 8236 GRT, built 1931), City of Baroda (British, 7129 GRT, built 1918), City of Birmingham (British, 5861 GRT, built 1923), City of Dundee (British, 5273 GRT, built 1921), City of Johannesburg (British, 5669 GRT, built 1920), City of Kobe (British, 4373 GRT, built 1924), Clan MacNaughton (British, 6087 GRT, built 1921), Destro (British, 3553 GRT, built 1921), El Aleto (British (tanker), 7203 GRT, built 1927), Frederick S. Fales (British (tanker), 10525 GRT, built 1939), Katha (British, 4357 GRT, built 1938), Linois (French, 7473 GRT, built 1907), Maihar (British, 7563 GRT, built 1917), Matiana (British, 9045 GRT, built 1922), Motrix (French (tanker), 6587 GRT, built 1922), Mulbera (British, 9100 GRT, built 1922), Neuralia (British, 9082 GRT, built 1912), Pegu (British, 8180 GRT, built 1921), Polo (British, 1950 GRT, built 1919), Sardinian Prince (British, 3491 GRT, built 1922), Tabaristan (British, 6251 GRT, built 1914) and Tascalusa (British (tanker), 6499 GRT, built 1913).
Two of these ships came from Alexandria (don’t know which) and joined on the 12th.
Off Malta the merchant vessel Egyptian (British, 2868 GRT, built 1920) joined the convoy.
In the morning of the 16th HMS Duncan proceeded to Malta to fuel. She returned in the afternoon with the French destroyer Kersaint (Cdr. G.R.J. Rebuffel) after which HMS Dainty and HMS Sutton proceeded to Malta where they remained.
HMS Duncan and Kersaint were relieved on the 17th by HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN) and HMS Grafton (Cdr. M.S. Thomas, RN). They remained with the convoy until the 18th after which the convoy continued unescorted to Gibraltar.
12 Oct 1939
HMS Duchess (Lt.Cdr. R.C.M. White, RN) departed Malta for Gibraltar.
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.
29 Oct 1939
HMS Grafton (Cdr. M.S. Thomas, RN) picks up 70 survivors from the British merchant Malabar that was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-34 about 180 miles west of Lands End in position 49°57'N, 07°37'W.
13 Jan 1940
HMS Shark (Lt. P.N. Buckley, RN) ended her 3rd war patrol at Harwich.
15 Jan 1940
Around 1100/15, the destroyers HMS Grafton (Cdr. M.S. Thomas, RN), HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, RN) and Blyskawica (Lt. J. Umecki), departed Harwich to make a sweep off the Dutch coast (Operation ST 2) during the night of the 15th/16th.
During this operation cover was provided by the 7th Destroyer Flottilla; HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, RN), HMS Jackal (Cdr. T.M. Napier, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN), HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN), HMS Javelin (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN), HMS Juno (Cdr. W.E. Wilson, RN) and HMS Jupiter (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, RN). These destroyers departed Harwich around 1500/15.
HMS Grafton, HMS Griffin and ORP Blyscawica returned to Harwich around 1500/16. During the operation one Latvian merchant vessel had been ordered to proceed to the U.K. for inspection.
The 7th Destroyer Flotilla had already returned to Harwich around 0915/16.
15 Apr 1940
Convoy NM 1.
This convoy departed Leith at noon on 15 April 1940 for Scapa Flow.
It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Blackheath (British, 4637 GRT, built 1936), Cedarbank (British, 5159 GRT, built 1924), Charlbury (British, 4836 GRT, built 1940), Cyclops (British, 9076 GRT, built 1906),
Escort was provided by the destroyers HMS Diana (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Fame (Cdr. P.N. Walter, RN) and HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN). Later they were joined by HMS Grafton (Cdr. C.E.C. Robinson, RN). The convoy arrived at Scapa Flow on the 16th.
21 Apr 1940
Around 1900A/21, the battleship HMS Valiant (Capt. H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN) departed Rosyth for Scapa Flow where she arrived around 0900A/22. During the passage she was escorted by the destroyers HMS Grafton (Cdr. C.E.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. H.W. Williams, RN) and HMS Acheron (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN). (6)
26 Apr 1940
The Polish destroyer Burza and the British destroyer HMS Grafton were part of an escort of small convoy (two cargo ships and one tanker). Those vessels were sailing to Skjel Fjord, Norway where an Allied supply base was located. (7)
13 May 1940
The destroyers HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN), HMS Juno (Cdr. W.E. Wilson, RN), HMS Grafton (Cdr. C.E.C. Robinson, RN) and ORP Burza (Lt.Cdr. W. Francki) departed Scapa Flow for Harwich. En-route HMS Juno was detached to Rosyth after which she departed again to run over the DG range at Inchkeith before she continued her passage to Harwich.
All destroyers arrived at Harwich on the 14th. (8)
26 May 1940
At 0436A/26, HMS Galatea (Capt. B.B. Schofield, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral G.F.B. Edward-Collins, CB, KCVO, RN) departed Sheerness to bombard German batteries in the Calais area. She is joined by the destroyer HMS Grafton (Cdr. C.E.C. Robinson, RN).
HMS Galatea arrived off Calais at 0730A/26 and commenced a bombardment of enemy batteries to the westward of the town at 0759A/26. All High Explosive shells were expanded by 1003A/26. 197 rounds had been fired. Aircraft had been providing spotting duties.
At 1100A/26, HMS Grafton was ordered to proceed to Dover.
HMS Galatea returned to Sheerness at 1412A/26. (9)
27 May 1940
On the 27 May HMS Grafton (Cdr. C.E.C. Robinson, RN) ferried 860 men to Dover and returned the following day to pick up another 800. On passage back to England, Grafton stopped to assist with the rescue of survivors from another destroyer that had been sunk, but whilst doing so was herself torpedoed by a U-Boat. Despite being packed with troops, Only 4 people were killed and other vessels took on the remaining troops and ship's company. Grafton was scuttled by gunfire. (7)
29 May 1940
HMS Ivanhoe (Cdr. P.H. Hadow, RN) torpedoed and sank the damaged British destroyer HMS Grafton in the English Channel.
- ADM 53/111091 + ADM 53/111092
- ADM 173/15861
- ADM 199/389
- ADM 53/108384
- ADM 199/1840
- ADM 53/113358 + ADM 199/361 + ADM 199/376
- Personal communication
- ADM 199/376
- ADM 53/112281 + ADM 199/375 + ADM 199/379
ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.
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