HMS Jervis Bay
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2014)|
|Name:||HMS Jervis Bay|
|Builder:||Vickers Limited, Barrow-in-Furness|
|Launched:||1922, as SS Jervis Bay|
|Fate:||Sunk, 5 November 1940|
|Type:||Armed Merchant Cruiser|
|Displacement:||14,164 long tons (14,391 t)|
|Length:||549 ft (167 m)|
|Beam:||68 ft (21 m)|
|Draft:||33 ft (10 m)|
|Speed:||15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)|
|Armament:||• 7 × 6 in (152 mm) Mk. VII guns
• 2 × 3 in (76 mm) anti-aircraft guns
The ship was originally the Aberdeen & Commonwealth Line steamer Jervis Bay named after the Australian bay (the line named all of its ships after bays). She had been taken over by the Royal Navy in August 1939 on the outbreak of the Second World War and hastily armed with seven 1898-vintage 6 in (150 mm) guns and two 3 in (76 mm) guns. She was initially assigned to the South Atlantic station before becoming a convoy escort in May 1940.
She was the sole escort for 37 merchant ships in Convoy HX-84 from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Britain, when the convoy encountered the Admiral Scheer. The Captain of Jervis Bay, Edward Fegen, ordered the convoy to scatter, and set a course straight towards the German warship to draw its fire, guns blazing. The Jervis Bay was hopelessly outgunned and outranged by the 28 cm guns of the German ship. Even so, Fegen and his crew fought on until their ship was set ablaze and sunk 755 nautical miles (1,398 kilometres) south-southwest of Reykjavík. Captain Fegen went down with his ship. However, although Admiral Scheer went on to sink five merchant ships out of the convoy, Jervis Bay's sacrifice bought enough time for the convoy to scatter, and the remaining ships escaped. Sixty-five survivors from Jervis Bay were picked up by the neutral Swedish ship Stureholm.
Captain Fegen was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross as a result of this action. The citation for the Victoria Cross reads "Valour in challenging hopeless odds and giving his life to save the many ships it was his duty to protect."
There is a monument to Jervis Bay at Albouy's Point, in Hamilton, Bermuda. Bermuda was a formation point for trans-Atlantic convoys in both World Wars. There is a monument to Captain Fegen and the crew of Jervis Bay at Ross Memorial Park in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. This is the port where she was refitted for war service in the summer of 1940. In 2006 the Scottish town of Wick erected a plaque to the Caithness members who died in the sinking of the ship. The ship was crewed extensively from Caithness, and Wick in particular.
There was also a monument in London. The main room of the Merchant Navy Hotel (closed, 2002) was known as the "Jervis Bay Room", and included a display detailing the action. It was the custom for everyone entering the room to salute the display.
The Australian poet Michael Thwaites wrote a ballad about the Jervis Bay in 1941, while he was serving as a naval officer in the Atlantic. It can be read in 'The Faber Book of War Poetry'.
The final action of HMS Jervis Bay was portrayed in the movie San Demetrio London, released in 1943, regarding the tale of heavy damage and subsequent survival of one of the vessels of Convoy HX-84. The Jervis Bay was also commemorated by the Jervis Bay Memorial Pipe Band, located in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada.
The encounter between the Jervis Bay and the Admiral Sheer is also narrated in a short story in Alistair MacLean's book "The Lonely Sea".
It is also the subject of issue 47 of Garth Ennis' comic Hitman (also in vol 6 of the collection) which the protagonists take as an example of how to live.
- HMSJervisBay.com - Official Website of the HMS Jervis Bay Association
- "The Ballad of Convoy HX84"
- San Demetrio London at the Internet Movie Database
- HMS "Jervis Bay" Armed Merchant Cruiser. Convoy HX.84. 5 November 1940
- Ralph Segman and Gerald Duskin, If the Gods are Good: The Epic Sacrifice of HMS Jervis Bay (Naval Institute Press, 2004)