Allied Warships

HMS Melbreak (L 73)

Escort destroyer of the Hunt (Type III) class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeEscort destroyer
ClassHunt (Type III) 
PennantL 73 
Built bySwan Hunter and Wigham Richardson Ltd. (Wallsend-on-Tyne, U.K.): Wallsend 
Ordered28 Jul 1940 
Laid down23 Jun 1941 
Launched5 Mar 1942 
Commissioned10 Oct 1942 
End service 
History

Scrapped at Grays on 22 November 1956.

 

Commands listed for HMS Melbreak (L 73)

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CommanderFromTo
1Lt. Gerald Edward Christopher Talbot Baines, RN28 Aug 194213 Jul 1943
2Lt. Geoffrey John Kirkby, DSC, RN13 Jul 19432 Feb 1945
3Lt. Evelyn Francis Hamilton-Meikle, RN3 Feb 1945late 1945

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Notable events involving Melbreak include:


23 Oct 1942
HMS Renown (Capt. C.S. Daniel, CBE, DSO, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. She was escorted by the destroyer HMS Ashanti (Cdr. R.G. Onslow, DSO, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Ledbury (Lt. D.R.N. Murdoch, RN) and HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.E.C.G. Baines, RN). (1)

29 Oct 1942
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral B.A. Fraser, CB, KBE, RN, second in Command Home Fleet), HMS Anson (Capt. H.R.G. Kinahan, CBE, RN) and HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. They were escorted by eight destroyers which were, most likely, HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Orwell (Lt.Cdr. N.H.G. Austen, DSO, RN), HMS Redoubt (Lt.Cdr. N.E.G. Ropner, DSO, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. J.A. Burnett, DSC, RN), HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN) and HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.E.C.G. Baines, RN). (2)

30 Oct 1942
During 30/31 October 1942, the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral B.A. Fraser, CB, KBE, RN, second in Command Home Fleet), HMS Anson (Capt. H.R.G. Kinahan, CBE, RN) and HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. These included night exercises. They were, most likely, escorted by HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Orwell (Lt.Cdr. N.H.G. Austen, DSO, RN), HMS Redoubt (Lt.Cdr. N.E.G. Ropner, DSO, RN), HMAS Quickmatch (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, DSC, RAN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. J.A. Burnett, DSC, RN) and HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.E.C.G. Baines, RN). (2)

13 Nov 1942
HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) proceeded from Loch Cairnbawn (Port H.H.Z.) to Scapa Flow. She was escorted by the escort destroyers HMS Limbourne (Cdr. C.B. Alers-Hankey, DSC, RN), HMS Haydon (Lt. R.C. Watkin, RN) and HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.E.C.G. Baines, RN). (3)

31 Jan 1943
The battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. W.E. Parry, CB, RN) and aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. T.O. Bulteel, RN) departed Gibraltar for the UK. On departure they were escorted by the destroyers HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Poe, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. John Henry Wallace, DSC, RN), HMS Velox (Lt. G.B. Barstow, RN), HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN) and HMS Wivern (Cdr. M.D.C. Meyrick, RN).

At 1230/31, they were joined by the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN) which was en-route from the Far East to the UK. She was at that moment escorted by the escort destroyers HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN) and HMS Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN).

These two escort destroyers were detached to Gibraltar at 1930/31 after Illustrious original destroyer screen, HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN) and HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN), returned at 1900/31 from fuelling in Casablanca.

At 1900/2, HMS Velox, HMS Wishart and HMS Wivern were detached to Plymouth.

At 1500/3, HMS Brilliant was detached to Plymouth.

At 1615/3, the destroyer HMS Escapade (Lt.Cdr. E.C. Peake, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.E.C.G. Baines, RN) and HMS Tanatside (Lt.Cdr. F.D. Brown, RN) joined from Falmouth.

Around 1930/3, HMS Boreas and HMS Anthony parted company for Plymouth.

In the afternoon of 4 January 1943, HMS Renown, HMS Furious, HMS Illustrious, HMS Pathfinder, HMS Panther, HMS Penn, HMS Escapade, HMS Melbreak and HMS Tanatside, arrived in the Clyde after which they proceeded to Greenock. (4)

28 Feb 1943
HMS P 511 (Lt. C.R. Pelly, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Plymouth with HMS Tynedale (Lt. J.J.S. Yorke, DSC, RN), HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.E.C.G. Baines, RN) and later with HMS St. Kilda (A/Skr.Lt. R.G. Utting, RNR), HMS Sheppey (T/A/Lt.Cdr. D. McNeil, RNVR), HMS Ensay (T/Lt. K.J. Reece, RNVR) and HMS La Nantaise (Skr. S.J. Cory, RNR). (5)

21 May 1943
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. A.R. Hezlet, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Plymouth with The British escort destroyers HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.E.C.G. Baines, RN) and ORP Krakowiak (Komandor Podporucznik (Lt.Cdr.) W. Maracewicz, ORP) in the morning and with HMS Wensleydale (Lt. W.P. Goodfellow, RNVR) and HMS Tanatside (Lt.Cdr. F.D. Brown, RN) in the afternoon. Upon completion of the A/S exercise in the afternoon Thrasher made a pracice attack on HMS Wensleydale. (6)

28 May 1943

Towage of AFD 18 from Oban to Oran.

In the late evening of 28 May 1943 the Floating Dock AFD 18 departed Oban for Oran. The dock was being towed by the tug HMS Bustler.

Escort was provided by the sloop HMS Chanticleer (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Bristowe, DSO, RN) and the corvettes HMS Dianella (T/Lt. J.F. Tognola, RNR), HMS Lotus (Lt.Cdr. H.J. Hall, DSC, RD, RNR), HMS Poppy (T/Lt. D.R.C. Onslow, RNR) and HMS Starwort (Lt. A.H. Kent, DSC, RNR).

Cover during part of the passage was to be provided by the AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) which departed Plymouth on 31 May.

The tow experienced difficulties and much delay.

This resulted in that some of the escorts had not enough fuel to reach Gibraltar and on 7 June they were all relieved by the destroyer HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) and escort destroyer HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.E.C.G. Baines, RN) which had departed Gibraltar on 5 June. Later the corvette HMS Cyclamen (?) and the A/S trawlers HMS Huddersfield Town (A/Skr.Lt. J.H. Consadine, DSC, RNR) and HNoMS Molde also joined. These too had departed Gibraltar on 5 June.

AFD 18 towed by HMS Bustler and escorted by HMS Bulldog, HMS Cyclamen, HMS Huddersfield Town and HNoMS Molde finally arrived at Oran on 12 June 1943. HMS Melbreak meanwhile had parted company arriving at Gibraltar on 13 June.

22 Jun 1943

Convoy XK 9.

This convoy departed Gibraltar on 22 June 1943 for the U.K.

It was made up of the following transports; Glenartney (British, 9795 GRT, built 1940), Highland Princess (British, 14133 GRT, built 1930), Malakand (British, 7649 GRT, built 1919), Martand (British, 7967 GRT, built 1925) and Orduna (British, 15507 GRT, built 1914).

The convoy was escorted by the escort carrier HMS Battler (A/Capt. F.M.R. Stephenson, RN), destroyer HMS Malcolm (Cdr. J.M. Money, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Bicester (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, DSC, RN) and HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.E.C.G. Baines, RN). The destroyer HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) was local escort, she was detached at 2000B/25 and returned to Gibraltar on 28 June.

The AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) and destroyers HMCS Iroquois (Cdr. W.B.L. Holms, RCN) and ORP Orkan (Cdr. S. Hryniewiecki) provided cover for part of the voyage.

The convoy arrived in the U.K. on 28 June 1943.

11 Jul 1943
The British escort destroyers HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.E.C.G. Baines, RN), HMS Wensleydale (Lt. W.P. Goodfellow, RNVR) and the Norwegian escort destroyer HNoMS Glaisdale (Lt. D.E. Kjeholt, RNN) intercept a German convoy off Quessant, France. In the resulting battle the German minesweeper M-153 (874 tons) is sunk by the Glaisdale but Melbreak in turn is heavily damaged by the German torpedo boats T-24 and T-25.

4 Oct 1943
The battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN) departed Greenock for Plymouth. She was escorted by the destroyer HMS Skate (Lt. J.C. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN) and the frigate HMS Bentinck (Cdr. E.H. Chavasse, DSO, DSC, RN) until 1530/4 when the escort destroyers HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.J. Kirkby, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Talybont (Lt. E.F. Baines, DSO, RN) took over.

At 0645/5, the escort destoyer HMS Tanatside (Lt.Cdr. F.D. Brown, RN) joined.

HMS Malaya and her escorts arrived at Plymouth around 1000/5. (7)

20 Oct 1943
Around 0500A/20, the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. St.J. Cronyn, DSO, RN) departed Greenock for Southampton. She is escorted by the AA ship HMCS Prince Robert (Cdr. A.M. Hope, RCN) and the destroyer HMS Saladin (Lt. A.A. Diggens, DSC, RN).

Around 1110A/20, HMS Saladin is detached.

Around 0715A/21, the escort destroyers HMS Limbourne (A/Cdr. W.J. Phipps, MVO, RN), HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.J. Kirkby, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Stevenstone (Lt.Cdr. P.B.N. Lewis, DSC, RN) joined coming from Plymouth and HMCS Prince Robert was detached.

HMS Revenge arrived at Portsmouth around 1615A/21. The escort destroyers then set course to return to Plymouth. (8)

22 Oct 1943
Around 1900A/22, ' Force 28 ', made up of the AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), destroyers HMS Grenville (Lt.Cdr. R.P. Hill, DSO, RN), HMS Rocket (Lt.Cdr. H.B. Acworth, OBE, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Limbourne (A/Cdr. W.J. Phipps, MVO, RN), HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.J. Kirkby, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Talybont (Lt. E.F. Baines, DSO, RN) and HMS Wensleydale (Lt. J.A. McClure, DSC, RN) departed Plymouth for a sweep along the north coast of Brittany. (9)

23 Oct 1943

Sinking of HMS Charybdis and HMS Limbourne.

Around 0135A/23, ' Force 28, made up of HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), HMS Grenville (Lt.Cdr. R.P. Hill, DSO, RN), HMS Rocket (Lt.Cdr. H.B. Acworth, OBE, RN), HMS Limbourne (A/Cdr. W.J. Phipps, MVO, RN), HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.J. Kirkby, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Talybont (Lt. E.F. Baines, DSO, RN) and HMS Wensleydale (Lt. J.A. McClure, DSC, RN) encountered the German 4. Torpedo Boat Flotilla made up of T 22, T 23, T 25, T 26 and T 27.

In the resulting action HMS Charybdis and HMS Limbourne were hit by torpedoes and both sank as a result. HMS Charybdis was hit by the T 23 and T 27 while HMS Limbourne was hit by T 22.

' Force 28 ' was proceeding to the west at 14 knots when HMS Charybdis obtained a contact about 7 miles north of Triagoz Island. Two units were contacted about 9000 yards almost right ahead. HMS Charybdis opened fire with star shell but before these burst she was torpedoed amidships on the port side.

A number of torpedoes were observed by the other ships. HMS Charybdis was then hit by a second torpedo. HMS Limbourne was shortly afterwards also hit by one torpedo on the port side forward and the bow was blown off.

The enemy was not seen by the remaining ships and they soon became scattered in a heavy rain squall. HMS Grenville, which was now the ' Senior ' ship, reformed the surviving the ships and they returned to the scene of the action. The three remaining Hunt-class destroyers where then ordered to search for survivors while HMS Grenville and HMS Rocket searched for the enemy to the westward. They rejoined with the Hunt-class destroyers around 0500A/23. After picking up the survivors the force departed the scene of the action around 0630A/23. 4 Officers and 103 ratings were picked up from HMS Charybdis while from HMS Limbourne 11 Officers, including the Commanding Officer, and 92 ratings were picked up. (10)

8 Nov 1943
Around 1230/8, HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN) and HMS Renown (Capt. W.E. Parry, CB, RN), departed Scapa Flow for Portland and Plymouth respectively. On departure from Scapa Flow they were escorted by the destroyers HMS Oribi (Lt.Cdr. J.C.A. Ingram, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, DSO, DSC, RN).

At 1730/8, HMS Urchin parted company to return to Scapa Flow.

On 9 November, HMS Rocket (Lt.Cdr. H.B. Acworth, OBE, RN) joined. [time unknown to us for the moment.]

At 0845/10, HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.J. Kirkby, DSC and Bar, RN) joined.

At 1225/10, HMS Renown and HMS Rocket parted company with HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Oribi and HMS Melbreak.

Around 1330/10, HMS Renown and HMS Rocket arrived at Plymouth.

Around 1715/10, HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Oribi and HMS Melbreak arrived at Portland. (11)

18 Nov 1943
HMS Malaya (Capt. L.H. Ashmore, RN) departed Plymouth for Greenock. She was escorted until about Milford Haven by the escort destroyers HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.J. Kirkby, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Tanatside (Cdr. B.J. de St. Croix, RN). (12)

14 Dec 1943
Around 1000A/14, HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN), after having first carried out D/G trials, departed Portsmouth for Scapa Flow. She is escorted by the escort destroyers HMS Stevenstone (T/A/Lt.Cdr. H.M. Duff-Still, DSO, RNVR) and La Combattante (Lt.Cdr. A. Patou).

Around 1515A/14, the original destroyer escort parted company upon them being replaced by the escort destroyers HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.J. Kirkby, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Tanatside (Cdr. B.J. de St. Croix, RN). They remained in company until around 2000A/14.

At 0940A/15, the destroyers HMS Tuscan (Lt.Cdr. C.H.de B. Newby, RN) and HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN) joined and HMS Queen Elizabeth started a bombardment exercise.

At 1130A/15, HMS Black Prince (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN) joined and more exercises were carried out.

HMS Queen Elizabeth arrived at Scapa Flow around mid-afternoon. (13)

17 Jan 1944
HMS Clyde (Lt.Cdr. R.S. Brookes, DSO, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Plymouth with HMS Peterhead (Lt. D.P. Croom-Johnson, RNVR), HMS Blyth (T/A/Lt.Cdr. W.R.S. Smith, RNVR), HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.J. Kirkby, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Tanatside (Cdr. B.J. de St. Croix, RN). (14)

3 Mar 1944
HMS United (Lt. N.R. Wood, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Plymouth with ML 159 (T/Lt. B.D. Gerrans, RNVR), ML 183 (T/Lt. A.J. Wright, RNVR) and ML 184 (T/Lt. R.W.A. Winter, RNVR) and later with HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.E.C.G. Baines, RN) and HMCS Huron (Lt.Cdr. H.S. Rayner, DSC, RCN). (15)

4 Mar 1944
HMS United (Lt. N.R. Wood, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Plymouth with ML 159 (T/Lt. B.D. Gerrans, RNVR), ML 183 (T/Lt. A.J. Wright, RNVR) and ML 184 (T/Lt. R.W.A. Winter, RNVR), HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.E.C.G. Baines, RN), HMIS Godavari (A/Capt. J.W. Jefford, OBE, RIN), HMS Neave (T/Lt. T. Ross, RNVR) and HMS Skomer (A/Skr.Lt. D.E.S. Mair, DSO, RNR). (15)

Sources

  1. ADM 53/116528
  2. ADM 53/115325 + ADM 53/116070 + ADM 53/116140 + ADM 53/116709
  3. ADM 53/116071
  4. ADM 53/117549 + ADM 53/117550 + ADM 53/117652 + ADM 53/117653 + ADM 53/118426 + ADM 53/118427 + ADM 199/767
  5. ADM 173/17921
  6. ADM 173/18225
  7. ADM 53/117885
  8. ADM 53/118468 + ADM 199/2280
  9. ADM 199/2280
  10. ADM 199/2281
  11. ADM 53/118389 + ADM 53/118436
  12. ADM 53/117886
  13. ADM 53/118390
  14. ADM 173/18458
  15. ADM 173/19217

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


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