HMS Aphis

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HMS Aphis AWM 302297.jpeg
HMS Aphis
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Aphis
Namesake: Aphis
Builder: Ailsa Shipbuilding Company
Launched: 15 September 1915
  • Hostibus hostis
  • ("A Foe to our Foes")
Honours and
  • Mediterranean (1940-45)
  • Libya (1940-42)
  • Sicily (1943)
  • Adriatic (1944)
  • Southern France (1944)
Fate: Scrapped 1947
Badge: On a Field Gold, an Aphis green
General characteristics
Class and type: Insect-class gunboat
Displacement: 625 long tons (635 t)
Length: 237 ft 6 in (72.39 m)
Beam: 36 ft (11 m)
Draught: 4 ft (1.2 m)
Propulsion: 2 × vertical triple expansion engines, 2,000 ihp (1,500 kW), 2 shafts
Speed: 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph)
Complement: 55

HMS Aphis was a Royal Navy Insect-class gunboat. She was built by Ailsa Shipbuilding Company, launched on 15 September 1915 and completed in November 1915. She was based in Port Said at the beginning of World War I, served in Romania and then the China Station until 1940. All of her fighting service was in the Mediterranean, taking part in the invasion of Pantelleria and landings in the south of France, returning briefly to the Pacific in 1945. She was scrapped at Singapore in 1947. Her class was intended for shallow, fast flowing rivers and they also proved suitable for inshore operations when her relatively heavy weaponry could be used to support Army operations.

In February 1942 after a successful Warship Week National Savings campaign, Aphis was adopted by the civil communities of Warminster and Westbury in Wiltshire.[1]


During 1917 Aphis was operated on the Danube, in support of military operations, based at Bucharest. She remained there until 1919.[1]

In 1919 she transferred to the China Squadron for service in the Yangtze Flotilla to support British shipping and nationals in China. The situation in China remained volatile and Aphis remained with the Yangtze Flotilla until June 1940 when she was redeployed to the Mediterranean Fleet at Alexandria.[1]

For the next three years, Aphis provided artillery support for the Army. For example, in early December 1940, she bombarded Italian positions at Tobruk in company with her sister ships Ladybird and Gnat and the monitor Terror, and later that month, she bombarded harbour installations at Tobruk (three merchant ships were sunk). This continued into February 1941, when she was joined by three Australian destroyers (Stuart, Vampire and Voyager). Army support operations continued into April when Aphis bombarded enemy positions at Bomba and Gazala during the 8th Army's withdrawal.[1]

Aphis remained based at Alexandria until Malta became available for use as a naval base in March 1943. Based at Malta, nearer to the landings on the Italian islands and mainland Europe, she provided artillery support for the attack on Pantelleria in June (deployed with headquarters ship Largs and destroyers Petard and Paladin. Her planned deployment in support of the Sicily landings was cancelled in view of the class' vulnerability to air attack. Instead, after a period at Malta, Aphis supported British landings in Calabria in early September. She was deployed with her sister Scarab and monitors Erebus, Roberts and Abercrombie, to bombard enemy positions on the coast between Reggio Calabria and Pessaro before the Operation Baytown landings by the British XIII Corps.[1]

After another period at Malta, she participated in the support of the landings in the south of France, this time operating under United States command under Lt Commander Douglas Fairbanks Jnr. She joined the Western Task Force, in June 1944, attached to the Special Operations Group[note 1] at Ajaccio. The group was to mis-direct German resources by simulating large Allied landings and in mid-August they carried out bombardments between Antibes and the Var river. The operation was a complete success. A second diversionary operation took place off La Ciotat; Aphis and Scarab and the US destroyer Endicott bombarded the area. During the action, the allied ships were engaged by two German warships, the corvette UJ6082 and armed yacht UJ6083. Both German ships were sunk.[1]

In mid-August 1944, Aphis resumed duty with the Mediterranean Fleet and in September she was deployed in the Adriatic to support of Army operations, based at Ancona. She returned to Malta in January 1945.[1]

In July 1945, she left the Mediterranean to join the British Pacific Fleet at their forward base at Manus Island in the Admiralty Islands. By the time she arrived, Japan had surrendered and she did not join the fleet until after VJ Day. Subsequently, she was paid-off on arrival at Singapore and placed on the disposal list in 1946. She was sold for scrapping in May.[1]


  1. ^ The eastern section of the Special Operations Group included gunboat Scarab, destroyers Antwerp[citation needed] and Stuart, Ulster Prince[citation needed], four motor launches and 12 US Navy PT boats.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Mason, Geoffrey B. (2005). "HMS Aphis - Insect-class River Gunboat". Service Histories of Royal Navy Warships in World War 2. Retrieved 14 September 2010. 


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