HMS Codrington (D65)
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|Namesake:||Admiral Sir Edward Codrington|
|Ordered:||6 March 1928|
|Builder:||Swan Hunter, Tyne and Wear|
|Laid down:||20 June 1928|
|Launched:||8 August 1929|
|Commissioned:||4 June 1930|
|Fate:||Bombed and sunk, 27 July 1940|
|Badge:||On a Field Silver, a Lion passant Red|
|General characteristics (as built)|
|Class and type:||A-class destroyer flotilla leader|
|Length:||343 ft (105 m)|
|Beam:||33 ft 9 in (10.29 m)|
|Draught:||12 ft 3 in (3.73 m)|
|Propulsion:||2 × shafts; 2 × geared steam turbines|
|Speed:||35 kn (65 km/h; 40 mph)|
|Range:||5,000 nmi (9,300 km; 5,800 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)|
HMS Codrington was one of nine A-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy during the 1920s. She was the flotilla leader for the class. During the Second World War she served in Home waters and off the Norwegian coast, before being bombed and sunk on 27 July 1940 whilst in dock at Dover.
Construction and commissioning
HMS Codrington was ordered on 6 March 1928 from the yards of Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Wallsend, under the 1927 Naval Estimates. She was laid down on 20 June 1928 and was launched a year later on 8 August 1929. She was commissioned on 4 June 1930. After carrying out acceptance trials throughout February 1930, she was assigned to operate with the Mediterranean and Home Fleets. She has so far been the only ship of the Royal Navy to be named HMS Codrington, after Admiral Sir Edward Codrington, commander of the allied fleet at the Battle of Navarino.
Codrington was a flotilla leader and therefore larger than the other A-class destroyers. Her bridge structure was larger to provide the additional accommodation required for the Flotilla Staff. She displaced 2,012 long tons (2,044 t) with an overall length of 323 ft (98 m), a beam of 34 ft (10 m) and a draught of 19 ft (5.8 m). She was fitted with turbine machinery giving a speed of 37.74 kn (43.43 mph; 69.89 km/h) on trials carried out in February 1930. Some smaller weapons were fitted for use against aircraft. The ship had two quadruple 21 in (530 mm) torpedo tube mountings and for attacks on submarines was fitted with four depth charge chutes and two throwers, and an additional 4.7 in (120 mm) gun fitted between the two funnels. She spent a period in the reserve at Devonport Naval Base, but was refitted in 1938, being recommissioned on completion of the refit in August 1939 in time to participate in the Second World War.
The English Channel and French coast
After being recommissioned after her refit, Codrington was nominated as the leader of the 19th Destroyer Flotilla, as part of the Nore Command. She then took passage to Sheerness to take up her war station. She sailed to Dover in September and on 4 September began to escort the convoys carrying the British Expeditionary Force to France. She remained in the English Channel throughout October, before being transferred to Harwich to defend against a perceived threat of a German attack on the Low Countries. She was back in Dover in December, and on 4 December Codrington embarked King George VI and transported him to Boulogne for his visit to the British Expeditionary Force in France. Codrington re-embarked him on 10 December and brought him back to Dover. On 22 December, she joined the escort – consisting of Esk, Express and Brazen – for the auxiliary minelayer Princess Victoria during a minelay in the Dover Barrage.
1940 saw Codrington continue to host VIPs, as on 4 January, she embarked Winston Churchill (then First Lord of the Admiralty) on a visit to France. In February, she was nominated as the flotilla leader of the 1st Destroyer Flotilla based at Harwich, replacing Grenville, which had been sunk by a mine on 19 January. On 5 February, she carried Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, Winston Churchill and several high-ranking military leaders to Boulogne for a war council meeting in Paris. Codrington then put into Chatham Dockyard for a refit.
The North Sea and Norwegian coast
On completion of the refit, she joined the flotilla at Harwich on 6 March and began convoy defence and patrol duties in the North Sea. In April, she was transferred for detached service with the Home Fleet after the German invasion of Norway. On 7 April, Codrington was deployed with the destroyers Griffin, Jupiter, Electra, Escapade, Brazen, Bedouin, Punjabi, Eskimo and Kimberley as a screen for the battleships Ramillies and Valiant, the battlecruiser Repulse and the French light cruiser Émile Bertin. The fleet was to cover planned operations off Norway, including Operation Rupert, a minelaying mission to prevent German ships carrying iron ore. The operation was overtaken though by the sudden German invasion the following day on 8 April. Codrington came under air attack on 9 April whilst with the fleet, and was detached to return to Sullom Voe for refuelling.
She was back in action on 14 April, being deployed with Acasta and Ardent as part of the screen for Valiant and the heavy cruiser Vindictive, which were escorting military convoys transporting troops and stores for the planned landings in Norway. On 28 April, Codrington embarked Admiral of the Fleet, the Earl of Cork and Orrery and the French General Antoine Béthouart. They carried out a reconnaissance of the Narvik area, in preparation for the later assaults by allied troops. During the survey, Codrington carried out bombardments of enemy gun positions.
Covering the evacuations
She was released from the Home Fleet deployment off Norway in May, and on 10 May took passage to Dover to support the evacuation of allied personnel from Belgium and the Netherlands. She managed to complete the 530 mi (850 km) passage from Scapa Flow to Dover in just 23 hours. She refuelled on 11 May and began patrolling off the Dutch and Belgian coasts. On 13 May, she embarked members of the Dutch Royal Family at IJmuiden and carried them to safety in the UK. She returned to deploying out of Harwich on 15 May, and on 27 May she deployed with Grenade, Jaguar and Javelin to intercept German surface craft attempting to attack Allied ships. She was then transferred to Dover Command to assist in Operation Dynamo, the Dunkirk evacuation. On 28 May she embarked 866 troops from the beaches, and took on survivors from the coaster SS Abukir with Grenade and Anthony and took them to Dover. She made a second trip on 29 May, embarking 766 troops, and a third on 30 May, embarking 799 troops. A fourth trip followed on 31 May, when she embarked 909 troops, landing 440 at Dover. 1 June saw her taking 746 troops back to Dover, and her final run on 2 June brought 878 troops back to the UK. Codrington was one of the few destroyers that had escaped major damage and was able to continue supporting operations after the evacuation had been completed.
Codrington was deployed at Dover on 3 June, carrying out patrols in the Channel, and covering the evacuations from the French Channel ports. On 12 June, she was deployed as the base of the Senior Naval Officer (Afloat) during Operation Cycle, the troop evacuation from Le Havre, returning to Portsmouth once it had been completed. On 15 June, she was supporting the continuing military evacuation from French ports, and remained on patrol against attempts to intercept allied shipping in the North Sea and English Channel.
In July, Codrington was deployed out of Dover for convoy defence and patrol duties in the English Channel. She put into port near the end of the month for a boiler clean, alongside the depot ship Sandhurst in the Submarine Basin. The port came under air attack on 27 July and a bomb fell alongside Codrington. The subsequent explosion broke her back and she sank. She had only three men wounded. The sinking was not made public until 18 May 1945. The wreck was still evident in 1947.
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