HMS Eclipse (H08)
Eclipse during World War II
|Ordered:||1 November 1932|
|Builder:||William Denny and Brothers, Dumbarton|
|Laid down:||22 March 1933|
|Launched:||12 April 1934|
|Completed:||29 November 1934|
|Identification:||Pennant number: H08|
|Fate:||Sunk by a mine, 24 October 1943|
|Badge:||On a Field Blue, the Earth Black over a sun Gold.|
|Class and type:||E-class destroyer|
|Length:||329 ft (100.3 m) o/a|
|Beam:||33 ft 3 in (10.13 m)|
|Draught:||12 ft 6 in (3.81 m) (deep)|
|Propulsion:||2 × shafts; 2 × Parsons geared steam turbines|
|Speed:||35.5 knots (65.7 km/h; 40.9 mph)|
|Range:||6,350 nmi (11,760 km; 7,310 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)|
HMS Eclipse was an E-class destroyer of the Royal Navy that saw service in the Atlantic, Arctic, and Mediterranean theatres during World War II, until sunk by a mine in the Aegean Sea on 24 October 1943.
The E-class ships were slightly improved versions of the preceding D class. They displaced 1,405 long tons (1,428 t) at standard load and 1,940 long tons (1,970 t) at deep load. The ships had an overall length of 329 feet (100.3 m), a beam of 33 feet 3 inches (10.1 m) and a draught of 12 feet 6 inches (3.8 m). They were powered by two Parsons geared steam turbines, each driving one propeller shaft, using steam provided by three Admiralty three-drum boilers. The turbines developed a total of 36,000 shaft horsepower (27,000 kW) and gave a maximum speed of 35.5 knots (65.7 km/h; 40.9 mph). Eclipse carried a maximum of 470 long tons (480 t) of fuel oil that gave her a range of 6,350 nautical miles (11,760 km; 7,310 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph). The ships' complement was 145 officers and ratings.
The ships mounted four 45-calibre 4.7-inch (120 mm) Mark IX guns in single mounts. For anti-aircraft (AA) defence, they had two quadruple Mark I mounts for the 0.5 inch Vickers Mark III machine gun. The E class was fitted with two above-water quadruple torpedo tube mounts for 21-inch (533 mm) torpedoes. One depth charge rail and two throwers were fitted; 20 depth charges were originally carried, but this increased to 35 shortly after the war began.
In autumn 1940, Eclipse was deployed as part of the protective screen for troopships sailing to West Africa in Operation Menace (for proposed landings at Dakar, later abandoned). She returned home to join the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla after repairs – first at Freetown, Sierra Leone, and subsequently at Gibraltar. In this period, one member of her crew was Charles Causley, the Cornish poet and broadcaster, who served as a Coder. He subsequently published two poems about the ship and this voyage: 'HMS Eclipse Approaches Freetown'; and 'Immunity', which recounts an inoculation session, and then anticipates the ship's loss later in the war.
From 12 April 1941 Eclipse was refitted at Devonport Dockyard, sailing in early June to rejoin the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla. On 25 June she was deployed to protect the ships of the 1st Minelaying Squadron during a minelay in the Northern Barrage, replacing the destroyer Brighton, which had been damaged in a collision with the cruiser Kenya. At the end of July she was part of the destroyer screen of Force P—the carriers Furious and Victorious, and the cruisers Devonshire and Suffolk—during the raid on Kirkenes and Petsamo (Operation EF).
In mid-August Eclipse and five other destroyers were deployed as the screen for the cruisers Aurora and Nigeria, as they escorted the troopship Empress of Canada and the auxiliary tanker Oligarch to Spitsbergen in Operation Gauntlet. Canadian troops landed to destroy mining equipment and two radio stations, while Norwegian and Russian civilians were evacuated.
Eclipse remained on screening duty from June to August, transferring to the 8th Destroyer Flotilla in July. In September she was deployed with the destroyers HMS Amazon, HMS Bulldog, HMS Echo and HMS Venomous as the screen for the cruisers HMS Cumberland and HMS Sheffield to establish a refuelling facility at Lowe Sound, Spitsbergen, and re-supply the garrison there (Operation Gearbox).
Sinking of Gaetano Donizetti
The Italian Gaetano Donizetti of 3428 tons, had been confiscated by the Germans to bring arms to Rhodes. The Germans stowed some 1,600 prisoners in the cargo hold. Gaetano Donizetti set sail on 22 September 1943 . The vessel sailed along the east coast of Rhodes, and headed south-west, passing Lindos to the south. The Italian ship was escorted by the German torpedo boat TA10 under Oberleutnant Jobst Hahndorff. This was the former French torpedo boat La Pomone and later the Italian FR 42.
Around 01:10 that night (on 23 September), the convoy was detected by Eclipse under Commander E. Mack, who immediately opened fire. Gaetano Donizetti went down in seconds, taking with her the entire crew and all the Italian prisoners of war. TA10 was heavily damaged and later towed back to Rhodes, where it was scuttled a few days later.
On 24 October 1943 Eclipse hit a mine east off Kalymnos in position Coordinates: . She broke in two and sank within five minutes with the loss of 119 of the ship's company and 134 soldiers (from A Company, 4th Battalion, Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment)).
- Lenton, p. 156
- Whitley, p. 103
- English, p. 141
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- Friedman, Norman (2009). British Destroyers From Earliest Days to the Second World War. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-081-8.
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