HMS Bergamot (1917)

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For other ships of the same name, see HMS Bergamot.
Name: HMS Bergamot
Builder: Armstrong Whitworth
Laid down: 1 January 1917
Launched: 5 May 1917
Commissioned: 5 June 1917
Fate: Sunk, by torpedo, 13 August 1917
General characteristics
Class & type: Anchusa-class sloop
Tonnage: 1760 tons
Displacement: 1,290 long tons (1,311 t)
Length: 250 ft (76 m) p/p
262 ft 3 in (79.93 m) o/a
Beam: 35 ft (11 m)
Draught: 11 ft 6 in (3.51 m) mean
12 ft 6 in (3.81 m) – 13 ft 8 in (4.17 m) deep
Propulsion: 4-cylinder triple expansion engine
2 boilers
2,500 hp (1,864 kW)
1 screw
Speed: 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph)
Range: 260 long tons (260 t) coal
Complement: 93
Armament: 2 × 4 in (100 mm) guns
2 × 12-pounder guns
Depth charge throwers

HMS Bergamot was an Anchusa-class sloop of the Royal Navy, which had a short career during World War I. Built by Armstrong Whitworth, the ship was laid down on 1 January 1917, launched on 5 May, and commissioned on 5 June.[1]

Two months later, on 13 August 1917, under the command of Lieut-Commander Percy T. Perkins, [2] she was sunk in the Atlantic 70 miles west of the harbour of Killybegs by the German submarine U-84, commanded by Walter Rohr.

His war diary describes how he sighted a lone merchant ship, with no defensive armament (an unusual sight by 1917). Bergamot evidently sighted the U-boat's periscope, as she began to zig-zag at high speed. U-84 fired one torpedo — which hit — and Bergamot sank in 4 minutes. Surfacing, U-84 sighted an unusually large number of crew (70) and pieces of wood floating. The U-boat's log identifies the possibility of Bergamot being a "trap ship".

After a brief search of the area, in which no officers could be identified, the light diminished too much, and U-84 left the area to continue her patrol.

When the torpedo hit her, Bergamot's first officer, Lieut F. W. Siddle, and her probationer surgeon, R.S.Smith were in her wardroom. The explosion wrecked the exits from this compartment, and Siddle was rendered unconscious. Smith piled the wardroom furniture up in order to reach the skylight in the roof, and then dragged the unconscious Siddle up and out of the compartment. Having reached the main deck, Smith worked on both Siddle and a wounded Petty Officer, who was lying on the deck with a broken leg and arm. By this time the ship was clearly sinking so Smith inflated his casualties life vests and lowered them both into the water.

As Bergamot sank one of her depth charges exploded, badly wounding Siddle and again rendering him unconscious. Smith towed both his casualties to the only lifeboat to leave the sinking ship, lifeboat no.2, and then worked on Siddle for 25 minutes, administering artificial respiration, until he again recovered consciousness. Smith then treated the other injured survivors over the 48 hours that the lifeboat was adrift until they were picked up. For these life saving actions, Surgeon Robert Sydney Steele Cathcart Smith was awarded the Albert Medal. [3]

An interesting historical note is that the week before, Bergamot had experimented with towing a submerged submarine — E48 — thus resurrecting a 1915 method of trapping submarines.


  1. ^ "HMS Bergamot". Flixco Pty Limited. Retrieved 2007-06-11. 
  2. ^ "Anchusa class convoy sloops". Retrieved 12 July 2010. 
  3. ^