HMS Firedrake (H79)
HMS Firedrake at anchor before World War II
|Career (United Kingdom)|
|Ordered:||17 March 1933|
|Builder:||Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company, Wallsend|
|Laid down:||5 July 1933|
|Launched:||28 June 1934|
|Commissioned:||30 May 1935|
|Fate:||Torpedoed by U-211 on 17 December 1942|
|Class and type:||F-class destroyer|
|Displacement:||1,405 long tons (1,427.5 t) standard
1,940 long tons (1,971.1 t) deep
|Length:||329 ft (100.3 m) o/a|
|Beam:||33.3 ft (10.1 m)|
|Draught:||10.8 ft (3.3 m)|
|Propulsion:||3 x Admiralty 3-drum water tube boilers, Parsons geared steam turbines, 38,000 shp on 2 shafts|
|Speed:||35.5 kn (65.7 km/h), 31.5 kn (58.3 km/h) deep|
|Range:||6,350 nmi (11,760 km) at 15 kn (27.8 km/h)
1,275 nmi (2,361 km) at 35.5 kn (65.7 km/h)
World War II
In September 1939 Firedrake was deployed as part of the 8th Destroyer flotilla attached to the Home Fleet and based at Scapa Flow. In the first month of hostilities she was in action as part of a hunting group centred on the aircraft carrier Ark Royal. On 14 September 1939 the group was attacked by the German submarine U-39 which fired on Ark Royal but failed to hit. Firedrake, in company with Faulknor and Foxhound counter-attacked and sank U-39. north-west of Ireland.
In spring 1940 Firedrake was involved in the Norwegian campaign, assisting in the landings at Narvik. She later assisted in the evacuation at Bodø. In the summer she was with Home Fleet during the invasion crisis, but in August moved station to Gibraltar where she became part of Force H. For the next 12 months, Firedrake took part in all major operations in the western Mediterranean.
On 18 October 1940, she sank the Italian submarine Durbo east of Gibraltar in company with Wrestler and 2 Saro London patrol flying boats of 202 Sqn RAF. In November she was part of the force involved in the Battle of Spartivento. During January 1941 she was involved in Operation Excess and in Operation Substance in July she sustained damage requiring her to be towed to Gibraltar.
In the winter of 1941 Firedrake was transferred to Boston for repair and conversion for anti-submarine warfare as a convoy escort.
Firedrake served as leader of Escort Group B7 of the Mid-Ocean Escort Force, her captain, Commander WE Banks, being Senior Officer Escort (SOE). In this role Firedrake was engaged in all the duties performed by escort ships: protecting convoys, searching for and attacking U-boats which attacked ships in convoy, and rescuing survivors. In nine months service, Firedrake escorted 14 Atlantic convoys, of which 5 were attacked, and 2 convoys in the Caribbean. She was involved in two major convoy battles, ON 144, where she was sent as reinforcement when it came under attack, and ON 153; a 43 ship convoy bound from the UK to Canada.
On 16 December 1942 at 20.10 hrs, while escorting Convoy ON 153, Firedrake was torpedoed by U-211. She broke in two; the bow section sinking immediately, with the stern staying afloat. She finally sank at 00.45hr on 17 December. The corvette HMS Sunflower, commanded by Capt. John Treasure Jones, managed to pick up 27 survivors from the sea; but one later died. 168 of HMS Firedrake's crew were lost and 3 others who had been rescued from an earlier sinking that night.
- U-39 was depth-charged and sunk by Firedrake and other ships of 8 Flotilla on 14 September 1939.
- Durbo was sunk by Firedrake in company with Wrestler and 2 aircraft of 202 Sqn RAF on 18 October 1940.
|HX 181||ON 84|
|HX 186||ON 94|
|HX 192||ON 106|
|SC 91||ON 117|
|AH 3||HA 4|
|SC 102||ON 142, ON 144|
|HX 216||ON 153|
|4 April 1938||4 May 1942||Lt Cdr Stephen Hugh Norris DSO DSC RN|
|4 May 1942||1 September 1942||Cdr William Eric Banks DSC RN|
|1 September 1942||17 December 1942||Cdr Eric Henry Tilden DSC RN|
- 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.
- Lenton, H. T. (1998). British & Commonwealth Warships of the Second World War. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-048-7.
- 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.
- Whitley, M. J. (1988). Destroyers of World War 2. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-326-1.