HMS Faulknor (H62)

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HMS Faulknor WWII IWM FL 13079.jpg
HMS Faulknor during the Second World War
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Faulknor
Namesake: Robert Faulknor
Ordered: 17 March 1933
Builder: Yarrows, Scotstoun
Cost: £271,886
Laid down: 31 July 1933
Launched: 12 June 1934
Commissioned: 24 May 1935
Decommissioned: 25 July 1945
  • Dulcit amor Patria
  • ("Love of fatherland leads")
Honours and
Fate: Sold, 21 January 1946
Badge: On a Field White, a trident Gold, over two laurel leaves Green
General characteristics (as built)
Class and type: F-class destroyer flotilla leader
Length: 343 ft (104.5 m) o/a
Beam: 33 ft 9 in (10.3 m)
Draught: 12 ft 6 in (3.8 m)
Installed power:
Propulsion: 2 × shafts, 2 × geared steam turbines
Speed: 36 knots (67 km/h; 41 mph)
Range: 6,500 nmi (12,000 km; 7,500 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Complement: 175
Sensors and
processing systems:

HMS Faulknor was the flotilla leader for the F-class destroyers built for the Royal Navy during the 1930s. The ship had a particularly active operational role during World War II, being awarded 11 battle honours, and was known as "The hardest worked destroyer in the Fleet". She was the first ship to sink a German U-boat, took part in the Norwegian Campaign, served with Force H in the Mediterranean on the Malta Convoys, escorted convoys to Russia and across the Atlantic, and saw action during the invasions of Sicily, Italy and Normandy, and was at the liberation of the Channel Islands. She was then decommissioned and sold for scrap in late 1945.


As the flotilla leader for the F-class destroyers, Faulknor was built to the same design as Exmouth, flotilla leader for the preceding E-class destroyers, which marked a return to building flotilla leaders to an enlarged design, the most obvious difference being the additional 4.7-inch (120 mm) gun between the funnels. Overall, she was only slightly larger than the other F-class destroyers in terms of length, beam, and draught, although she displaced an additional 90 long tons (91 t) tons, and had a complement of 175 officers and ratings, compared to the standard F-class complement of 145.[1]

Faulknor displaced 1,475 long tons (1,499 t) at standard load and 2,010 long tons (2,040 t) at deep load. The ship had an overall length of 343 feet (104.5 m), a beam of 33 feet 9 inches (10.3 m) and a draught of 12 feet 6 inches (3.8 m).[2] She was 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 38,000 shaft horsepower (28,000 kW) and gave a maximum speed of 36 knots (67 km/h; 41 mph). Faulknor reached a speed of 36.53 knots (67.65 km/h; 42.04 mph) during her sea trials.[3] The ship carried a maximum of 490 long tons (500 t) of fuel oil that gave her a range of 6,500 nautical miles (12,000 km; 7,500 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph).[2] When inclined, she had a metacentric height of 2.89 feet (0.88 m) at deep load.[4]

The ship mounted five 4.7-inch Mark IX guns in single mounts, designated 'A', 'B', 'Q', 'X', and 'Y' in sequence from front to rear. For anti-aircraft defence, Faulknor had two quadruple Mark I mounts for the 0.5 inch (12.7 mm) Vickers Mark III machine gun. She was fitted with two above-water quintuple torpedo tube mounts for 21-inch (533 mm) torpedoes.[5] One depth charge rack and two throwers were fitted; 20 depth charges were originally carried, but this increased to 35 shortly after the war began.[6]

Construction and career[edit]

The ship was ordered on 17 March 1933 from Yarrow Shipbuilders under the 1932 Programme, although her hull was sub-contracted to Vickers Armstrongs. She was laid down at their Walker, Newcastle upon Tyne shipyard on 31 July, and launched on 12 June 1934[7] by the wife of Rear-Admiral Reginald Henderson, Third Sea Lord and Controller of the Navy,[8] as the third ship of her name.[9] Faulknor was completed on 24 May 1935 at a cost of £271,886, excluding items supplied by the Admiralty such as guns, ammunition and communications equipment.[7] Captain Marshall Clarke was her first captain, and also commander of the 6th Destroyer Flotilla (DF) of the Home Fleet.[10] After working up in May–July, the ship to put into Portsmouth to remedy the defects revealed from 29 July to 21 September, before she could assume her proper place with her flotilla.[11]

Faulknor, together with most of the ships of her flotilla, was sent to reinforce the Mediterranean Fleet during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War and remained there until 20 July 1936 when she began a refit at Portsmouth that lasted until 3 October. The ship was detached to the Mediterranean to enforce the arms embargo imposed on both sides in the Spanish Civil War by the Non-Intervention Committee during January–March 1937 and then deployed off the Spanish ports on the Bay of Biscay for another three months before returning home. Faulknor collided with the freighter SS Clan MacFadyen off Ushant on 4 August and was under repairs at Portsmouth until 28 December. She was assigned to work with the French Navy in the Mediterranean for the first three months of 1938 before returning home. The 6th DF was renumbered the 8th Destroyer Flotilla in April 1939, five months before the start of World War II.[11]

World War II[edit]

In September 1939, Faulknor and her 8th DF was assigned to the Home Fleet and based at Scapa Flow. In the first month of hostilities she was part of an anti-submarine hunting group centred on the aircraft carrier Ark Royal. On 14 September, the carrier was unsuccessfully attacked by the German submarine U-39. Faulknor, in company with her sister ships Foxhound and Firedrake, counter-attacked and sank U-39 north-west of Ireland, rescuing most of her crew.[11] After a pair of fishing trawlers were sunk by a submarine off the Hebrides, the 6th and 8th DFs were ordered to sweep the area on 19 September. The following day, Faulknor rescued 20 crewmen from U-27 after several of her sisters sank the submarine and then resumed their normal escort duties. A month later, the ship was damaged during heavy seas while escorting the capital ships of the Home Fleet and was repaired at Scotstoun from 15 to 28 October. Two months later, she was escorting the battleship Nelson when the latter struck a magnetic mine as they were entering Loch Ewe on 4 December. Faulknor remained there for a time in case any further mining attempts were made. In February 1940, she was one of the escorts for Convoy TC 3 carrying troops from Canada to the UK. Later that month the ship rescued 10 survivors of the torpedoed freighter SS Orania on 11 February.[12]

A map of the Ofotfjord

Faulknor participated in the Norwegian Campaign of April–June, screening the ships of the Home Fleet early in the campaign. After the Second Battle of Narvik on 12 April, Captain Antony De Salis, Captain (D) of the 8th DF and commander of Faulknor, was appointed the Senior Destroyer Officer for the Narvik area with authority over all the destroyers in the area. He tasked them to patrol the Ofortfjord and evaluate the German defences while preventing any submarines from entering. A landing party from Faulknor went ashore on 16 April to inspect the wreck of the beached German destroyer Z19 Hermann Künne and search for any useful documents and assess her condition. They found nothing and one man was killed by a sniper. The following day, Faulknor and the destroyer Zulu bombarded the German ship and set her afire. During this time, the ship was attacked by German aircraft on multiple occasions to little effect. On 25 April, she helped to land part of the 2nd Battalion, the South Wales Borderers to Bogen and Lenvik. Later she bombarded German positions in support of the Allied advance on Narvik. On 4 May, Faulknor rescued 52 survivors from the Polish destroyer Grom, which had been sunk by German bombers, and recovered the bodies of 60 more crewmen. The next day, the ship ran aground while bombarding German defences in the Rombaksfjord, but was only lightly damaged. On the voyage home for repairs, she escorted a convoy of empty troopships. Faulknor arrived at Scapa Flow on 9 May and sailed for Grimsby for repairs.[13]

Force H, 1940–41[edit]

The ship's repairs were terminated on 12 June and, a week later, she escorted the battlecruiser Hood and the aircraft carrier Ark Royal, together with her sisters Fearless and Foxhound and the destroyer Escapade, from Scapa Flow to Gibraltar where they would form Force H.[14] In July, Faulknor took part in the attack on the French Fleet at Mers-el-Kébir, and was then deployed with the Flotilla in screening ships engaged in protecting convoys carrying troops and supplies to the besieged island of Malta. These included Operation MB8, Operation Collar – which led to the indecisive Battle of Cape Spartivento – "Operation Excess" and Operation Substance, as well as offensive operations against airfields in Sardinia. From August to October 1940 Faulknor was detached to support the Free French landings at Dakar in Operation Menace, supporting operations off West Africa before returning to Force H at Gibraltar. In June 1941 she participated in the sinking of U-138 and in the interception of the German supply ship SS Alstertor.[15]

Arctic and Atlantic convoys, August 1941 – June 1943[edit]

In August 1941 Faulknor returned to the UK to repair at Southampton, returning to duty with the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow in November, and was part of the escort to the battleship Duke of York taking Prime Minister Winston Churchill to meet with U.S President Roosevelt in the Atlantic Conference in December 1941.[15]

In 1942 she was deployed with units of the Home Fleet escorting convoys to Russia. These included Convoy PQ 9/10 in February, Convoy PQ 12 and Convoy PQ 13 in March, Convoy PQ 14 and Convoy PQ 15 in April, Convoy PQ 16 in May, and Convoy PQ 17 in June. She also took part in attempted attacks on the Tirpitz in March. In July Faulknor refitted at a shipyard at Hull, where Type 285 fire control radar and Type 286PQ warning radar was fitted, a 3-inch (76 mm) HA gun replaced the 4.7-inch mounting in the X position, and the after torpedo tube mounting was also replaced. She then returned to convoy escort duty, screening Convoy PQ 18 in September, and sinking the U-88 south of Spitsbergen. In October she escorted returning Convoy QP 15, and Convoy JW 51A in December. Further escort duty followed in 1943, escorting Convoy JW 52 in January, Convoy JW 53 in February, and Convoy RA 53 in March. In April she was detached for convoy escort duties in the North Atlantic with the Flotilla as the 4th Escort Group, escorting convoys HX 234, SC 127, ONS 6, ONS 182, and HX 239.[15]

Mediterranean and Aegean, June 1943 – March 1944[edit]

In June 1943 Faulknor rejoined the 8th Destroyer Flotilla for Fleet duties in the Mediterranean, arriving at Alexandria on 5 July to support the Allied invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky). She served as part of the screen for the covering force in the Ionian Sea (two aircraft carriers, three battleships, and four cruisers with 17 other Allied destroyers). After screening and patrol duties in August, she supported Allied landings on the Italian mainland (Operation Baytown) and at Salerno (Operation Avalanche) with destroyers of 4th, 8th and 24th Flotillas. She was then detached with other destroyers to screen ships escorting the Italian Fleet to Alexandria via Malta, and then was transferred to the Eastern Mediterranean to support Allied operations in defence of Aegean Islands against German invasion. She transported troops to Leros, carried out patrols, sank several cargo ships and landing craft, and carried out bombardments of shore positions before the operation was abandoned in November.[15]

In December Faulknor supported military operations on the west coast of Italy, escorting the landing ships Royal Ulsterman and Princess Beatrix with No. 9 Commando for a landing north of the Garigliano (Operation Partridge), then carrying out diversionary bombardments. In January 1944 she took part in the landings at Anzio (Operation Shingle), providing naval gunfire support and anti-aircraft defence during the initial landings, then as a patrol and escort ship into March.[15]

Normandy and the Channel, April 1944 – May 1945[edit]

In April 1944, Faulknor returned to Scapa Flow to support the Normandy landings (Operation Neptune) joining ten other destroyers in Force J of the Eastern Task Force, and assigned to attack the beach defences west of La Riviere. On 27 April she sailed to the Solent for exercises. She sailed for Normandy on 4 June, but was recalled when the operation was postponed for 24 hours. On the 5th she sailed with Convoy J1, made up of the 9th Minesweeping Flotilla, four Danlayers, a Harbour Defence Motor Launch and the 1st Division of 159 BYMS Flotilla. On the morning on 6 June she provided naval gunfire support off Juno Beach, returning to Portsmouth to re-ammunition later in the day. On the 7th she returned to Normandy with General Sir Bernard Law Montgomery, the Allied Land Forces Commander for the initial phase of the invasion, on board for transport to the beachhead to set up his Tactical HQ. She was then deployed on patrols, anti-aircraft defence, and ferrying duties. On the 24th she embarked the First Sea Lord Admiral of the Fleet Andrew Cunningham, the Second Sea Lord Admiral Algernon Willis, the Naval Secretary Admiral Cecil Harcourt, and the Lord Privy Seal Lord Beaverbrook at Portsmouth to visit the Assault Area. After arrival the flag of Admiral Bertram Ramsay, the Allied naval commander was worn during a visit by Admiral Alan G. Kirk, the U.S. naval commander. She returned to Portsmouth with her passengers same day.[15]

Faulknor was released from duty in July and sailed to Grimsby for repairs. In September she was deployed for support and convoy defence duty in the Channel, and in October joined the 14th Escort Group based at Milford Haven, employed in the Irish Sea, English Channel and the South-West Approaches. In December she rejoined the reformed 8th Destroyer Flotilla at Plymouth, and was deployed for the defence of Channel convoys. On 8 May 1945 she accepted the surrender of the German garrison at Saint Peter Port, Guernsey, and on the 17th escorted six German minesweepers and two patrol boats to the UK. On 6 June she escorted the cruiser Jamaica taking King George VI to visit the Channel Islands.[15]

Decommissioning and disposal, July 1945 – April 1946[edit]

In July Faulknor was reduced to the Reserve and de-stored at Plymouth, then sailed to Dartmouth to decommission on the 25th. She was put on the Disposal List in December 1945, and was sold on 21 January 1946 to British Iron & Steel Corporation (BISCO) for breaking-up by Thos W Ward at Milford Haven. After being stripped of equipment at Plymouth in March she was towed to the breaker's yard, arriving on 4 April 1946.[15]


  1. ^ Whitley, pp. 104–05
  2. ^ a b Lenton, p. 158
  3. ^ March, p. 296
  4. ^ Smith, p. 4
  5. ^ Whitley, p. 105
  6. ^ English, p. 141
  7. ^ a b English, pp. 75–76
  8. ^ Smith, p. 9
  9. ^ Colledge, p. 123
  10. ^ Smith, pp. 11, 13
  11. ^ a b c English, p. 76
  12. ^ Smith, pp. 24–26, 30–31, 33, 35–36
  13. ^ Smith, pp. 42–56
  14. ^ Rohwer, p. 29
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h Mason, Geoffrey B. (2010). "HMS Faulknor, destroyer". Service Histories of Royal Navy Warships in World War II. Retrieved 5 February 2011. 


  • Admiralty Historical Section (2002). The Royal Navy and the Mediterranean. Whitehall histories., Naval Staff histories. Vol. 2, November 1940 – December 1941. London: Whitehall History in association with Frank Cass. ISBN 0-7146-5205-9. 
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  • English, John (1993). Amazon to Ivanhoe: British Standard Destroyers of the 1930s. Kendal, England: World Ship Society. ISBN 0-905617-64-9. 
  • Friedman, Norman (2009). British Destroyers From Earliest Days to the Second World War. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-081-8. 
  • Haarr, Geirr H. (2010). The Battle for Norway: April–June 1940. Barnsley, UK: Seaforth Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84832-057-4. 
  • Lenton, H. T. (1998). British & Empire Warships of the Second World War. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-048-7. 
  • March, Edgar J. (1966). British Destroyers: A History of Development, 1892–1953; Drawn by Admiralty Permission From Official Records & Returns, Ships' Covers & Building Plans. London: Seeley Service. OCLC 164893555. 
  • Rohwer, Jürgen (2005). Chronology of the War at Sea 1939–1945: The Naval History of World War Two (Third Revised ed.). Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-119-2. 
  • Smith, Peter C. (2004). Destroyer Leader: The Story of HMS Faulknor 1935–46 (3rd revised and expanded ed.). Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Pen & Sword Maritime. ISBN 1-84415-121-2. 
  • Whitley, M. J. (1988). Destroyers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-326-1. 

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