Allied Warships

HMS Gurkha (i) (F 20)

Destroyer of the Tribal class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassTribal 
PennantF 20 
Built byFairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. (Govan, Scotland) 
Ordered10 Mar 1936 
Laid down6 Jul 1936 
Launched7 Jul 1937 
Commissioned21 Oct 1938 
Lost9 Apr 1940 
Loss position59° 13'N, 4° 00'E
History

Pennant numbers:
L 20 May 1938 - December 1938
F 20 January 1939 - April 1940.

Gurkha's departure for the Mediterranean Sea in December 1938 was delayed while gunsights and other items were fitted, repairs carried out and final trials completed. Eventually arriving at Malta on 20th December 1938, Gurkha was assigned to the 1st Sub- Division of the 1st Tribal Destroyer Flotilla. For most of the time thereafter, Gurkha worked closely with HMS Afridi although there were occasions when she was on her own or with other ships. Examples of these joint operations were: the Albanian Crisis, the visit at Athens, the Red Sea foray and the French troop convoys. For a while Gurkha was employed on North Sea escort duty and in the Humber Striking Force. She then served with the Home Fleet and was almost continuously at sea escorting capital ships on their sweeps in the Atlantic.

The year 1940 began well for Gurkha. On 8 February 1940 she and HMS Nubian hunted a U-boat off Scapa Flow. Later, on 23rd February, she depth-charged and destroyed the German submarine U-53.

The next event was most unfortunate. On a snowy 9th March, HMS Gurkha and HMS Nubian were escorting a southbound convoy off the Shetlands when they met a northbound Norwegian convoy. Gurkha's propeller guard gashed a hole in HMS Kelly's bow when the two ships connected momentarily. Immediately, Kelly's signalman sent the message have been hit by mine or torpedo. Am uncertain which. Gurkha's signal came in clearly, That was me, not a mine.

HMS Gurkha (Cdr. Anthony Wass Buzzard, RN) participated in the very first moves of the Norwegian Campaign sailing with HMS Afridi and a force of cruisers and destroyers from Rosyth, Scotland on 7/8th April 1940. On the 9th April at 1400hours, the force was attacked by Ju88 and He111 bombers. One bomb hit her aft end and blew a 40 foot hole in the starboard side. The stern caught fire and the after magazine had to be flooded. Soon the stern was awash and Gurkha had a 45 degree list to starboard. All the lights were out but the wounded were brought up and laid on the fo'c'sle. Many were blinded by fuel oil and everyone had to cling to the guard rails or anchor chains to keep from falling overboard. Some made it to the boats and Carley floats. It was now getting dark and cold. Useable guns fired air bursts to attract anyone's attention. HMS Aurora arrived on the scene. She stopped 200 yards away and lowered her boats. Gurkha heeled over onto her side. Those men who had not lost their hold on the fo'c'sle clambered through the guard rails and sat on the port side. At 1900, she rolled right over and sank about 35 nautical miles west of Karmoy Island, Norway in position 59º13'N, 04º00'E. Aurora managed to pick up 190 survivors. They were treated and eventually ended up in Devonport, England and given survivors leave. Gurkha was the first Tribal and first British destroyer to be sunk by air attack.

 

Commands listed for HMS Gurkha (i) (F 20)

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CommanderFromTo
1Cdr. Frederick Robertson Parham, RN14 Sep 193810 Nov 1939
2Lt.Cdr. Peter Vaughan James, RN10 Nov 193921 Nov 1939
3Cdr. Frederick Robertson Parham, RN21 Nov 19395 Feb 1940
4Cdr. Anthony Wass Buzzard, RN5 Feb 19409 Apr 1940

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Notable events involving Gurkha (i) include:


11 Sep 1939
Several ships from the Mediterranean Fleet conducted gunnery exercises off Alexandria; 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 cruisers HMS Arethusa (Capt. Q.D. Graham, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.R. Moore, CB, DSO, CVO, RN), HMS Penelope (Capt. G.D. Yates, RN) and four destroyers from the 4th Destroyer Flotilla; HMS Afridi (Capt. G.H. Cresswell, DSC, RN), HMS Gurkha (Cdr. F.R. Parham, RN), HMS Mohawk (Cdr. R.F. Jolly, RN) and HMS Sikh (Cdr. J.A. Giffard, RN).

On completion of these exercises these ships set course to take up a position to the west of Crete to provide cover for convoys passing from west to east through the Mediterranean. HMS Penelope returned to Alexandria though.

HMS Barham and HMS Penelope however returned to Alexandria after the exercises had been completed while 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 been conducting flying exercises off Alexandria, joined the other ships.

HMS Devonshire and HMS Sussex were detached for patrol as was HMS Arethusa later although HMS Arethusa rejoined on the 15th having patrolled the Kithera Channel. The patrol for HMS Sussex was apparently later cancelled and she proceeded to Malta for a docking.

The Fleet returned to Alexandria on 16 September. (1)

1 Oct 1939
The light cruiser HMS Galatea (Capt. E.G.H. Bellars, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.C. Tovey, CB, DSO, RN) and destroyers (7th Division) HMS Afridi (Capt. G.H. Cresswell, DSC, RN), HMS Gurkha (Cdr. F.R. Parham, RN), HMS Mohawk (Cdr. R.F. Jolly, RN) and HMS Sikh (Cdr. J.A. Giffard, RN) departed Alexandria around 1930B/1 for contraband patrol.

The ships parted company with each other around 1730B/2.

HMS Galatea patrolled in the Kithera area on the 3rd. She went to the Gulf of Patras on the 4th and then went on the patrol south of the Otranto Strait. She arrived at Malta around 0715A/7.

[No log is available for HMS Afridi so her exact movements are not known to us.] HMS Afridi arrived at Malta to fuel on the 4th. She departed on the 5th to resume her patrol. She arrived back at Malta on the 7th.

[No log is available for HMS Gurkha so her exact movements are not known to us.] HMS Gurkha arrived at Malta from patrol around 0730A/7.

HMS Mohawk patrolled in the Gulf of Patras on the 3rd and then patrolled south of the Otranto Straits on the 4th. She arrived at Malta around 0800A/6.

HMS Sikh was south-west of Corfo on the 3rd but she developed engine problems and arrived at Malta around 0700B/5. At Malta she was taken in hand for turbine repairs which were only completed in December. (2)

2 Nov 1939
A submarine was reported near Margate Buoy and the destroyers HMS Keith (Cdr.(Retd.) H.T.W. Pawsey, OBE, RN), HMS Blanche (Lt.Cdr. R.N. Aubrey, RN) and HMS Gurkha (Cdr. F.R. Parham, RN) were ordered to hunt this submarine. No contact was obtained though.

11 Nov 1939
The light cruisers HMS Southampton (Capt. F.W.H. Jeans, CVO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral G.F.B. Edward-Collins, CB, KCVO, RN), HMS Glasgow (Capt. F.H. Pegram, RN), HMS Belfast (Capt. G.A. Scott, DSC, RN), HMS Aurora (Capt. G.B. Middleton, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.H.C. Hallifax, RN) and the destroyers HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, RN), HMS Gurkha (Lt.Cdr. P.V. James, RN), HMS Mashona (Cdr. P.V. McLaughlin, RN) and HMS Tartar (Lt.Cdr. D.E. Holland-Martin, RN) departed Rosyth around 0400 hours for Immingham where they arrived around 1700 hours.

16 Nov 1939
The light cruisers HMS Southampton (Capt. F.W.H. Jeans, CVO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral G.F.B. Edward-Collins, CB, KCVO, RN), HMS Glasgow (Capt. F.H. Pegram, RN), HMS Belfast (Capt. G.A. Scott, DSC, RN), HMS Edinburgh (Capt. F.C. Bradley, RN) and the destroyers HMS Afridi (Capt. G.H. Cresswell, DSC, RN), HMS Gurkha (Lt.Cdr. P.V. James, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr. G.N. Brewer, RN) and HMS Zulu (Cdr. J.S. Crawford, RN) departed Immingham around 1700/16 hours for Rosyth where they arrived around 0830/17.

23 Nov 1939

Sinking of the armed merchant cruiser HMS Rawalpindi

Around midday on 21 November 1939 the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, escorted by the light cruisers Köln and Leipzig and the destroyers Z 11 / Bernd von Arnim, Z 12 / Erich Giese and Z 20 / Karl Galster, departed Wilhelmshaven for a raid into the North Atlantic, this was to relieve the pressure of the pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee operating in the South Atlantic. Late on the 21st the escorts left the battlecruisers.

Just after 1500 hours on 23 November the British armed merchant cruiser HMS Rawalpindi (Capt.(Retd.) E.C. Kennedy, RN) sighted the Scharnhorst. Rawalpindi was part of the British Northern Patrol and was stationed south-east of Iceland in the Iceland-Faroe gap. Captain Kennedy at first tried to get away from the German ship and report to the Admiralty that he sighted the German pocket battleship Deutschland, still believed to be operating in the North Atlantic, and so as to buy time so that other ships of the Northern patrol could come to his assistance. Just after 1600 hours, Rawalpindi came within range of the Scharnhorst and was quickly reduced to a flaming wreck. During this engagement Scharnhorst was hit by a 6in shell from Rawalpindi causing only light damage. Scharnhorst and Gneisenau together picked up 27 survivors from the Rawalpindi which finally sank around 2000 hours.

The British light cruiser HMS Newcastle (Capt J. Figgins, RN), that was also part of the Northern Patrol, picked up Rawalpindi's signal and closed the scene. She sighted the Gneisenau but the Germans managed to escape in the fog.

The Admiralty also thought the ship sighted by Rawalpindi and Newcastle was the Deutschland that was trying to return to Germany. In response to the sighting and destruction of the Rawalpindi the Admiralty took immediate action;
The battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN, flying the flag of Admiral J.M. Forbes, KCB, DSO, RN) HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN) and the heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire (Capt. J.M. Mansfield, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.H.D. Cunningham, CB, MVO, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. C.S. Daniel, RN), HMS Fame (Cdr. P.N. Walter, RN), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, RN), HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN), HMS Fortune (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, RN) and HMS Fury (Cdr. G.F. Burghard, RN) departed the Clyde to patrol of Norway to cut off the way to Germany for the Deutschland.

The light cruisers HMS Southampton (Capt. F.W.H. Jeans, CVO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral G.F.B. Edward-Collins, CB, KCVO, RN), HMS Edinburgh (Capt. F.C. Bradley, RN) and HMS Aurora (Capt. G.B. Middleton, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Afridi (Capt. G.H. Creswell, DSC, RN), HMS Gurkha (Cdr. F.R. Parham, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, RN) and HMS Isis (Cdr. J.C. Clouston, RN) departed Rosyth to patrol between the Orkney and Shetland islands.

Light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. E. de F. Renouf, CVO, RN) was sent from Loch Ewe to the last known position of the German ship(s).

On northern patrol, south of the Faroes were the light cruisers HMS Caledon (Capt. C.P. Clark, RN), HMS Cardiff (Capt. P.K. Enright, RN) and HMS Colombo (Capt. R.J.R. Scott, RN). These were joined by HMS Dunedin (Capt. C.E. Lambe, CVO, RN) and HMS Diomede (Commodore E.B.C. Dicken, OBE, DSC, RN).

Of the ships of the Denmark strait patrol, the heavy cruisers HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) and HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.G.B. Wilson, MVO, DSO, RN) were ordered to proceed to the Bill Bailey Bank (to the south-west of the Faroe Islands).

The light cruiser HMS Glasgow (Capt. F.H. Pegram, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Maori (Cdr. G.N. Brewer, RN) and HMS Zulu (Cdr. J.S. Crawford, RN) were already at sea patrolling north-east of the Shetlands were to be joined by the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, RN), HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, RN) and HMS Imogen (Cdr. E.B.K. Stevens, RN).

The light cruisers HMS Calypso (Capt. N.J.W. William-Powlett, DSC, RN) and HMS Ceres (Capt. E.G. Abbott, AM, RN) were stationed off Kelso Light to act as a night attack striking force. The destroyers HMS Somali (Capt. R.S.G. Nicholson, DSC, RN), HMS Ashanti (Cdr. W.G. Davis, RN), HMS Mashona (Cdr. P.V. McLaughlin, RN) and HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, RN) had just departed Belfast on escort duties. They were ordered to join Admiral Forbes. The ships they were escorting were ordered to return to Belfast.

The destroyers HMS Tartar (Lt.Cdr. D.E. Holland-Martin, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) departed Scapa Flow with orders to locate and shadow the German ships. HMS Tartar however had to return to Scapa Flow the next day due to a damaged rudder. The other two destroyers were ordered to join HMS Aurora which was to form a strike group of destroyers.

Despite the British effort to intercept the German ships, both German battlecruisers returned to Wilhelmshaven on the 27th.

7 Dec 1939
HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN) departed the Clyde for Liverpool where she is to undergo repairs to her damaged rudder. Tugs assisted HMS Rodney with steering.

During the passage to Liverpool several destroyer provided escort and A/S sweeps along the route. These were HMS Exmouth (Cdr. R.S. Benson, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN), HMS Fearless (Cdr. K.L. Harkness, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, RN) and HMS Gurkha (Cdr. F.R. Parham, RN).

HMS Rodney arrived at Liverpool on the 9th. She was immediately docked in the Gladstone dry dock.

17 Feb 1940
At 0930Z/17, HMS Manchester (Capt. H.H. Bousfield, RN), is joined by the British destroyer HMS Gurkha (Cdr. A.W. Buzzard, RN).

At 1400Z/27, HMS Gurkha, parted company and HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) took over the escort duties until 0710Z/20. (3)

23 Feb 1940
German U-boat U-53 was sunk in the North Sea in the mid Orkneys, in position 60°32'N, 06°14'W, by depth charges from the British destroyer HMS Gurkha (Cdr. A.W. Buzzard, RN)

24 Feb 1940
HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN) departed Scapa Flow for the Northern Patrol but they were later diverted to proceed to the south of the Faroer Islands. They were to join HMS Gurkha (Cdr. A.W. Buzzard, RN) already operating in the area.

Later this day HMS Khartoum and HMS Kingston made rendez-vous with the Armed Merchant Cruiser HMS Circassia (Capt.(Retd.) H.G.L. Oliphant, DSO, RN). (4)

3 Mar 1940

Convoy ON 17.

This convoy was formed off Methil on 3 March 1940. It arrived in Norwegian waters near Bergen on 7 March 1940.

This convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Aina (British, 1698 GRT, built 1904), Aspen (Swedish, 1305 GRT, built 1908), Becheville (British, 4228 GRT, built 1924), Borgund (Norwegian, 303 GRT, built 1917), Brita (Swedish, 1252 GRT, built 1908), Carbonia (Swedish, 1918 GRT, built 1916), Drabant (Swedish, 1767 GRT, built 1897), Edle (Norwegian, 654 GRT, built 1916), Falken (Swedish, 1308 GRT, built 1893), Finlandia (Finnish, 1464 GRT, built 1920), Flimston (British, 4674 GRT, built 1925), Frans (Swedish, 1169 GRT, built 1924), Frode (Norwegian, 697 GRT, built 1917), Greenawn (British, 784 GRT, built 1924), Helfrid (Swedish, 719 GRT, built 1922), Iron Baron (Norwegian, 3231 GRT, built 1911), Jacob Christensen (Norwegian, 3594 GRT, built 1920), Karen (Danish, 1194 GRT, built 1917), Knud Villemoes (Danish, 1582 GRT, built 1905), Kongshavn (Norwegian, 751 GRT, built 1906), Kul (Norwegian, 1310 GRT, built 1907), Lily (Danish, 1281 GRT, built 1920), Marianne (Danish, 1239 GRT, built 1924), Marita (Finnish, 1869 GRT, built 1923), Merkur (Estonian, 1291 GRT, built 1913), Minona (Norwegian, 1147 GRT, built 1919), Nicke (Swedish, 1170 GRT, built 1918), Nurgis (Norwegian, 700 GRT, built 1919), Regin (Norwegian, 1386 GRT, built 1917), Rolf (Swedish, 1120 GRT, built 1919), Roy (Norwegian, 1768 GRT, built 1921), Sirius (Swedish, 1832 GRT, built 1889), Sixten (Swedish, 2171 GRT, built 1912), Skarv (Norwegian, 852 GRT, built 1923), Sophie (Danish, 945 GRT, built 1920), Svanholm (Norwegian, 696 GRT, built 1917), Thore Hafte (Norwegian, 626 GRT, built 1896), Torafire (Norwegian, 823 GRT, built 1920), Trewellard (British, 5201 GRT, built 1936), Varanges (Norwegian, 2214 GRT, built 1908) and Vim (Norwegian, 1114 GRT, built 1913).

Escort was provided by the AA cruiser HMS Calcutta (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN), the destroyers HMS Delight (Cdr. M. Fogg-Elliott, RN), HMS Diana (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC, RN), HMS Gurkha (Cdr. A.W. Buzzard, RN) and HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN) and the submarine HMS Narwhal (Lt.Cdr. R.J. Burch, RN).

The light cruisers HMS Edinburgh (Capt. C.M. Blackman, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral G.F.B. Edward-Collins, CB, KCVO, RN) and HMS Arethusa (Capt. Q.D. Graham, RN) departed Rosyth on the 4th to provide cover.

On the 4th the merchant vessel Greenawn was detached to Scapa Flow escorted by HMS Diana. HMS Narwhal was also detached with orders to proceed to Scapa Flow.

7 Mar 1940

Convoy HN 17.

This convoy was formed off Bergen, Norway on 7 March 1940. The bulk of the convoy arrived at Methil on 10 March 1940.

This convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Albuera (British, 3477 GRT, built 1921), Baron Kelvin (British, 3081 GRT, built 1924), Bonde (Norwegian, 1570 GRT, built 1936), Effie Maersk (Danish, 1308 GRT, built 1925), Einvik (Norwegian, 2000 GRT, built 1918), Ek (Norwegian, 995 GRT, built 1911), Fairwater (British, 4108 GRT, built 1928), Gol (Norwegian, 985 GRT, built 1920), Hafnia (Norwegian, 1315 GRT, built 1920), Havborg (Norwegian, 1234 GRT, built 1924), Jaederen (Norwegian, 902 GRT, built 1918), Janna (Norwegian, 2197 GRT, built 1919), Kirnwood (British, 3829 GRT, built 1928), Lysaker (Norwegian, 910 GRT, built 1919), Margareta (Finnish, 1860 GRT, built 1919), Maurita (Norwegian, 1569 GRT, built 1925), Nesstun (Norwegian, 1271 GRT, built 1917), Notos (Norwegian, 2712 GRT, built 1898), Orland (Norwegian, 1899 GRT, built 1917), Ovington Court (British, 6095 GRT, built 1924), Reias (Norwegian, 1128 GRT, built 1918), Royal (Norwegian, 759 GRT, built 1918), Spica (Norwegian, 500 GRT, built 1915), Stanja (Norwegian, 1845 GRT, built 1915), Star (Norwegian, 1531 GRT, built 1922), Varegg (Norwegian, 943 GRT, built 1910), Vesta (Norwegian, 1310 GRT, built 1930) and Warlaby (British, 4875 GRT, built 1927).

Escort was provided by the destroyers HMS Delight (Cdr. M. Fogg-Elliott, RN), HMS Diana (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC, RN), HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN) and HMS Gurkha (Cdr. A.W. Buzzard, RN).

Close cover was provided by the light cruisers HMS Edinburgh (Capt. C.M. Blackman, DSO, RN) and HMS Arethusa (Capt. Q.D. Graham, RN).

On the 9th the convoy split and the west coast section was then escorted by HMS Delight and HMS Diana. They were reinforced by HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. R.G.K. Knowling, RN) which came from Scapa Flow. Also HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) joined having sailed late in the afternoon of the 8th.

In the moring of the 9th, HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) joined the escort but she collided with HMS Gurkha in bad weather and soon had to be detached to Lerwick for emergency repairs.

At 1412/9, HMS Gurkha obtained an A/S contact and attacked with several pattern of depth charges in position 59.07’N, 00.44’W. HMS Ilex then took over the hunt and HMS Gurkha rejoined the east coast section of the convoy. HMS Foxhound (Lt.Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN) joined from Scapa Flow in the early hours of the 10th to replace HMS Ilex which was still hunting Gurkha’s A/S contact. She eventually rejoined the convoy before it arrived at Methil. The A/S contact was later determined to be a wreck.

7 Mar 1940

Convoy ON 18.

This convoy departed Methil on 7 March 1940 and arrived in Norwegian waters near Bergen on 10 March 1940.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Agne (Swedish, 2468 GRT, built 1917), Amsterdam (Swedish, 889 GRT, built 1903), Ashbury (British, 3901 GRT, built 1924), Bessheim (Norwegian, 1774 GRT, built 1912), C.A. Banck (Swedish, 1838 GRT, built 1913), Dalveen (British, 5193 GRT, built 1927), Demeterton (British, 5251 GRT, built 1926), Edna (Norwegian, 915 GRT, built 1905), Ergo (Finnish, 1928 GRT, built 1893), Gunny (Panamanian, 1367 GRT, built 1882), Hjalmar Wessel (Norwegian, 1742 GRT, built 1935), Iris (Norwegian, 1171 GRT, built 1901), Mari (Norwegian, 563 GRT, built 1920), Maria Toft (Danish, 1911 GRT, built 1928), Mona (Swedish, 2326 GRT, built 1902), Omberg (Swedish, 1284 GRT, built 1920), Regulus (Estonian, 893 GRT, built 1902), Rosenholm (Swedish, 1740 GRT, built 1895, Rosten (Norwegian, 737 GRT, built 1920), Rydal Force (British, 1101 GRT, built 1924), Sado (Norwegian, 925 GRT, built 1917), Selbo (Norwegian, 1778 GRT, built 1921), Sigrid (Norwegian, 965 GRT, built 1920), Skagen (Danish, 900 GRT, built 1914), Snyg (Norwegian, 1326 GRT, built 1918), Strait Fisher (British, 573 GRT, built 1917), Ulea (British, 1574 GRT, built 1936), Uto (Swedish, 1444 GRT, built 1914), Vestra (Norwegian, 1422 GRT, built 1904), Vienti (Finnish, 1715 GRT, built 1911), Viiu (Estonian, 1908 GRT, built 1917) and Visten (Swedish, 993 GRT, built 1921).

A close escort was provided for the convoy made up of the destroyers HMS Cossack (Capt. P.L. Vian, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN), HMS Electra (Lt.Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN), HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN) and HMS Escort (Lt.Cdr. J. Bostock, RN).

On 8 March 1940, ten more mercant vessels departed Kirkwall to join the convoy, these were the; Airisto (Finnish, 2410 GRT, built 1907), Bradburn (British, 4736 GRT, built 1930), Graculus (Swedish, 1977 GRT, built 1923), Gudrun (British, 844 GRT, built 1924), Masilia (Swedish, 1608 GRT, built 1917), Mergus (Swedish, 1368 GRT, built 1906), Modesta (Finnish, 3830 GRT, built 1917), Navarra (Norwegian, 2118 GRT, built 1920), Pennington Court (British, 6098 GRT, built 1924) and Wentworth (British, 5212 GRT, built 1919).

These were escorted by the destroyer HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) which had departed Scapa Flow for Kirkwall to pick up the convoy and was then to make rendezvous with the convoy coming from Methil. While en-route from Kirkwall to join the convoy they were attacked by German aircraft but no damage was done.

Around 0520/9, HMS Kelly and HMS Gurkha (Cdr. A.W. Buzzard, RN), which was escorting Convoy HN 17, collided. The two convoys having met during dark hours. HMS Kelly was unable to continue and had to proceed to Lerwick.

Around the same time HMS Cossack parted company with convoy ON 18 and joined convoy HN 17.

Cover for the convoy was provided by the light cruisers HMS Edinburgh (Capt. F.C. Bradley, RN) and HMS Arethusa (Capt. Q.D. Graham, RN).

On 9 March 1940, the AA cruiser HMS Cairo (Capt. P.V. McLaughlin, RN) joined the convoy.

The convoy arrived in Norwegian waters on 10 March 1940.

11 Mar 1940

Convoy ON 19.

This convoy departed Methil on 11 March 1940 and arrived in Norwegian waters near Bergen on 14 March 1940.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Akabahra (Norwegian, 1524 GRT, built 1929), Bruse (Norwegian, 2205 GRT, built 1933), Cetus (Norwegian, 2614 GRT, built 1920), Convallaria (Swedish, 1996 GRT, built 1921), Diana (Norwegian, 1154 GRT, built 1904), Emmi (Finnish, 1592 GRT, built 1905), Framnas (Swedish, 721 GRT, built 1931), Fylingdale (British, 3918 GRT, built 1924), Grenaa (Danish, 1261 GRT, built 1917), Gudrun (Norwegian, 1128 GRT, built 1919), Harmonic (British, 4558 GRT, built 1930), Hermes (Estonian, 1545 GRT, built 1901), Hilda (Norwegian, 1237 GRT, built 1925), Jarl (Norwegian, 437 GRT, built 1889), Karl-Erik (Finnish, 1945 GRT, built 1923), Kem (Norwegian, 1706 GRT, built 1925), Marx (Danish, 1259 GRT, built 1924), Meero (Estonian, 1866 GRT, built 1918), Meteor (Norwegian, 3717 GRT, built 1904), Minorca (British, 1123 GRT, built 1921), Mira (Norwegian, 1152 GRT, built 1891), Oscar (Swedish, 1394 GRT, built 1914), Sally (Finnish, 2547 GRT, built 1896), Sarimner (Swedish, 2294 GRT, built 1909), Trident (British, 4317 GRT, built 1917), Urania (Estonian, 1180 GRT, built 1884), Wirma (Finnish, 2609 GRT, built 1903) and Yewkyle (British, 824 GRT, built 1917).

On departure from Methil the convoy had a close A/S escort made up of the destroyers HMS Cossack (Capt. P.L. Vian, RN), HMS Gurkha (Cdr. A.W. Buzzard, RN), HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN) and HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC, RN).

Cover for the convoy was provided by the light cruiser HMS Edinburgh (Capt. C.M. Blackman, DSO, RN)

On 12 March 1940, eleven more mercant vessels departed Kirkwall to join the convoy, these were the; Barrwhin (British, 4998 GRT, built 1929), Brighton I. (British, 5359 GRT, built 1928), Oswin (Swedish, 1332 GRT, built 1913), Raftsund (Norwegian, 610 GRT, built 1919), Singoalla (Swedish, 1468 GRT, built 1913), Sonja (Swedish, 1828 GRT, built 1923), Torridal (Norwegian, 1381 GRT, built 1930), Tregenna (British, 5242 GRT, built 1919), Ubari (Estonian, 1392 GRT, built 1899), Umberleigh (British, 4950 GRT, built 1927) and Vigor (Norwegian, 1518 GRT, built 1935).

These were escorted by the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN) and HMS Fortune (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO, RN) which had departed Scapa Flow on 11 March. These destroyers joined the close escort after which HMS Ilex was detached to Scapa Flow.

At 0725A/14, the AA cruiser HMS Calcutta (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN) joined the convoy having sailed from Sullom Voe around 0700A/13.

The convoy arrived in Norwegian waters around noon on the 14th.

14 Mar 1940

Convoy HN 19.

This convoy was formed off Bergen, Norway on 14 March 1940. The bulk of the convoy arrived at Methil on 17 March 1940.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Begonia (Estonian, 1591 GRT, built 1890), Brage (Swedish, 774 GRT, built 1903), Corolus (Finnish, 2375 GRT, built 1919), Crown Arun (British, 2372 GRT, built 1938), Ester Thorden (Finnish, 1940 GRT, built 1921), Evviva (Norwegian, 1597 GRT, built 1921), Granfoss (Norwegian, 1461 GRT, built 1913), Heien (Norwegian, 995 GRT, built 1926), Ingeborg (Swedish, 1156 GRT, built 1908), Inger (Norwegian, 1409 GRT, built 1930), Iris (Norwegian, 1171 GRT, built 1930), Kalev (Estonian, 1867 GRT, built 1917), Kongshaug (Norwegian, 1156 GRT, built 1898), Kotka (Finnish, 1286 GRT, built 1918), Margo (Estonian, 1245 GRT, built 1895), Meggie (Swedish, 1583 GRT, built 1906), Najaden (Finnish, 1963 GRT, built 1906), Newton Ash (British, 4625 GRT, built 1925), North Devon (British, 3658 GRT, built 1924), Olev (Estonian, 1377 GRT, built 1909), Rapid II (Norwegian, 714 GRT, built 1916), Ruth I (Norwegian, 3531 GRT, built 1900), Saga (Swedish, 1077 GRT, built 1909), Selvik (Norwegian, 1557 GRT, built 1920), Siak (Norwegian, 1150 GRT, built 1930), Skotfoss (Norwegian, 1465 GRT, built 1917), Solhavn (Norwegian, 1630 GRT, built 1918), Sulev (Estonian, 2233 GRT, built 1908), Svanholm (Norwegian, 696 GRT, built 1917), Taberg (Swedish, 1392 GRT, built 1920), Themis (Norwegian, 706 GRT, built 1919), Tor (Swedish, 1052 GRT, built 1911), Tore Jarl (Norwegian, 1514 GRT, built 1920) and Vim (Norwegian, 1114 GRT, built 1913).

Escort was provided by the AA cruiser HMS Calcutta (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN) and the destroyers HMS Cossack (Capt. P.L. Vian, RN), HMS Gurkha (Cdr. A.W. Buzzard, RN), HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN), HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN) and HMS Fortune (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO, RN).

Cover for the convoy was provided by the light cruiser HMS Edinburgh (Capt. C.M. Blackman, DSO, RN).

HMS Calcutta parted company with the convoy in the morning of the 15th and proceeded to Sullom Voe.

When the convoy split in the west and east coast section HMS Faulknor and HMS Foretune took 15 merchant vessels with them; these were most likely the; Brage, Crown Arun, Granfoss, Heien, Iris, Kalev, Kongshaug, Meggie, North Devon, Olev, Ruth I, Saga, Skotfoss, Solhavn and Sulev.

The bulk of the convoy arrived at MEthil on 17 March 1940.

19 Mar 1940
Around 1700A/19, the damaged, heavy cruiser HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.J.L. Phillips, RN), departed Scapa Flow for the Clyde where she was to undergo repairs. She was first attended by the tug HMS Buccaneer but she was later detached and returned to Scapa Flow. HMS Norfolk, which was able to proceed at 10 knots, was escorted by the destroyers HMS Cossack (Capt. P.L. Vian, RN), HMS Gurkha (Cdr. A.W. Buzzard, RN), HMS Ivanhoe (Cdr. P.H. Hadow, RN) and HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN).

Around 2300A/19, the destroyers HMS Eskimo (Cdr. St.J.A. Micklethwait, DSO, RN) and HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, RN) joined taking over from HMS Ivanhoe and HMS Gallant which then returned to Scapa Flow escorting Fleet Tender C [Merchant vessel Mamari III, resembling the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes].

HMS Norfolk, HMS Cossack, HMS Eskimo, HMS Gurkha and HMS Punjabi arrived in the Clyde around 2200A/20. (5)

22 Mar 1940

Convoy HN 21.

This convoy was formed near Bergen, Norway on 22 March 1940. It arrived at Methill on 25 March 1940.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Asgerd (Norwegian, 1308 GRT, built 1924), Becheville (British, 4228 GRT, built 1924), Bjorkhaug (Norwegian, 2094 GRT, built 1919), Bradburn (British, 4736 GRT, built 1930), Burgos (Norwegian, 3220 GRT, built 1920), Diana (Norwegian, 1154 GRT, built 1904), Eos (Estonian, 1513 GRT, built 1890), Erica (Norwegian, 1592 GRT, built 1919), Fintra (British, 2089 GRT, built 1918), Galatea (Norwegian, 1151 GRT, built 1912), Garm (Swedish, 1231 GRT, built 1912), Grangesberg (Swedish, 4575 GRT, built 1921), Gwalia (Swedish, 1258 GRT, built 1907), Hague (British, 974 GRT, built 1919), Hjalmar Wessel (Norwegian, 1742 GRT, built 1935), Johanna (Swedish, 1230 GRT, built 1881), Karen (Danish, 1194 GRT, built 1917), King Alfred (British, 5272 GRT, built 1919), Kongshavn (Norwegian, 751 GRT, built 1906), Lily (Danish, 1281 GRT, built 1920), Maud Thorden (Finnish, 1335 GRT, built 1920), Mira (Norwegian, 1152 GRT, built 1891), Navarra (Norwegian, 2118 GRT, built 1920), Nurgis (Norwegian, 700 GRT, built 1919), Pluto (Finnish, 3496 GRT, built 1907), Rigmor (Danish, 1278 GRT, built 1920), Rosenborg (Finnish, 1512 GRT, built 1919), Rosten (Norwegian, 737 GRT, built 1920), Roy (Norwegian, 1768 GRT, built 1921), Sarmatia (Finnish, 2417 GRT, built 1901), Scania (Swedish, 1980 GRT, built 1901), Sollund (Norwegian, 941 GRT, built 1908), Sophie (Danish, 945 GRT, built 1920), Trolla (Norwegian, 1598 GRT, built 1923), Vard (Norwegian, 681 GRT, built 1917), Vestland (Norwegian, 1934 GRT, built 1916), Vestmanrod (Norwegian, 691 GRT, built 1919), Vestria (British, 1141 GRT, built 1921) and Wentworth (British, 5212 GRT, built 1919).

The convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN), HMS Javelin (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN), HMS Juno (Cdr. W.E. Wilson, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN) and the submarine HMS Porpoise (Cdr. P.Q. Roberts, RN).

The AA cruiser HMS Calcutta (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN) later also joined to provide AA cover.

Distant cover for the convoy was provided by the light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN).

Nine merchant vessels later split off to proceed to the west coast. To escort these ships the destroyers HMS Cossack (Capt. P.L. Vian, RN) and HMS Gurkha (Cdr. A.W. Buzzard, RN) came out from Scapa Flow.

The bulk of the convoy arrived off Methil on 25 March 1940 after which the escorts proceeded to Rosyth.

7 Apr 1940
The light cruisers HMS Galatea (Capt. B.B. Schofield, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral G.F.B. Edward-Collins, CB, KCVO, RN), HMS Arethusa (Capt. Q.D. Graham, RN) and the destroyers HMS Afridi (Capt. P.L. Vian, RN), HMS Cossack (Cdr. R.St.V. Sherbrooke, RN), HMS Gurkha (Cdr. A.W. Buzzard, RN), HMS Mohawk (Cdr. J.W.M. Eaton, RN), HMS Sikh (Cdr. J.A. Giffard, RN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. J.S. Crawford), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Lt.Cdr. J.L. Machin, RN), ORP Burza (Lt.Cdr. W. Francki), ORP Blyscawica (Lt.Cdr. S.M. Nahorski) and ORP Grom (Lt.Cdr. S. Hryniewiecki) departed Rosyth in the evening for operations of Norway. They were to proceed to a position west of Stavanger and then were to sweep northwards. On the 9th they made rendezvous with the Home Fleet.

9 Apr 1940
At 0700 hours (zone -1), HMS Manchester (Capt. H.H. Bousfield, RN) and HMS Southampton (Capt. F.W.H. Jeans, CVO, RN) both joined the C-in-C in the Home Fleet.

At 1140 hours, HMS Manchester (Capt. H.H. Bousfield, RN), HMS Southampton (Capt. F.W.H. Jeans, CVO, RN), HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN) and HMS Glasgow (Capt. F.H. Pegram, RN) were detached for an operation in Norwegian territorial waters (operate against German forces in water at and around Bergen). They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Afridi (Capt. P.L. Vian, RN), HMS Gurkha (Cdr. A.W. Buzzard, RN), HMS Sikh (Cdr. J.A. Giffard, RN), HMS Mohawk (Cdr. J.W.M. Eaton, RN), HMS Somali (Capt. R.S.G. Nicholson, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Matabele (Cdr. G.K. Whitmy-Smith, RN) and HMS Mashona (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN).

Soon after 1400 hours however a signal was received cancelling the operation and the ships set course to re-join the fleet.

In the afternoon the German Luftwaffe however started to attack the ships and near missed lightly damaged HMS Southampton and HMS Glasgow. HMS Gurkha was however sunk. Survivors were picked up by HMS Aurora (Capt. L.H.K. Hamilton, DSO, RN) who was also on her way to join the Home Fleet at sea.

Later on the 9th most of the ships involved in the intended opertion against Bergen were ordered to proceed to Scapa Flow or Sullom Voe for refuelling. (6)

Media links


British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

Sources

  1. ADM 199/389
  2. ADM 53/108844 + ADM 53/109786 + ADM 53/110619 + ADM 199/389
  3. ADM 53/112661
  4. ADM 199/362
  5. ADM 53/112900 + ADM 199/388
  6. ADM 53/112663 + ADM 186/798

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.


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