HMS Polyanthus (K47)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

HMS Polyanthus (K 47).jpg
Polyanthus during World War II
United Kingdom
Builder: Henry Robb Ltd.
Laid down: 19 March 1940
Launched: 30 November 1940
Completed: 23 April 1941
Out of service: 21 September 1943
Fate: Sunk by German submarine U-952
Status: Wreck near 57°00′N 31°10′W / 57.000°N 31.167°W / 57.000; -31.167
General characteristics
Class and type: Flower-class corvette
Displacement: 925 long tons (940 t; 1,036 short tons)
Length: 205 ft (62.48 m)o/a
Beam: 33 ft (10.06 m)
Draught: 11.5 ft (3.51 m)
  • single shaft
  • 2 × water tube boilers
  • 1 × 4-cycle triple-expansion reciprocating steam engine
  • 2,750 ihp (2,050 kW)
Speed: 16 knots (29.6 km/h)
Range: 3,500 nautical miles (6,482 km) at 12 knots (22.2 km/h)
Complement: 85

HMS Polyanthus was a Flower-class corvette of the Royal Navy. She was launched on 30 November 1940 from Leith Docks on the Firth of Forth, at an estimated cost of £55,000.[1][2] Polyanthus was sunk by the German submarine U-952 using new German weapons technology on 20 September 1943 about 1,000 miles southwest of Reykjavík during convoy escort duty in the Battle of the North Atlantic.[3][4][5]


Flower-class corvettes like Polyanthus serving with the Royal Navy during World War II were different from earlier and more traditional sail-driven corvettes.[6][7][8] The "corvette" designation was created by the French in the 19th century as a class of small warships; the Royal Navy borrowed the term for a period but discontinued its use in 1877.[9] During the hurried preparations for war in the late 1930s, Winston Churchill reactivated the corvette class, needing a name for smaller ships used in an escort capacity, in this case based on a whaling ship design.[10] The generic name "flower" was used to designate the class of these ships, which – in the Royal Navy – were named after flowering plants.[1]

War duty and sinking[edit]

Although designed for quick and cheap construction, Polyanthus and ships like her in the Flower class were operative in convoy escort during the Battle of the North Atlantic.[11] The primary mission of protection against U-boats saw Polyanthus active in several transatlantic convoys in the early part of the war. By late 1943, the Kriegsmarine were using an acoustic homing torpedo - known to the Allies as a (GNAT) - which they hoped would reverse the changing tide of war, favouring the Allies in the Atlantic.[12]

On the night of 19–20 September 1943, two westbound Convoys ONS18 and ON 202 were facing frequent U-boat engagements, calling Polyanthus to their aid in the wake of several setbacks, including the near destruction of HMS Escapade and HMS Lagan.[12] After successfully driving away U-238, Polyanthus was ordered to rescue the crew from the escort HMCS St. Croix, recently sunk by U-305. Whilst under the command of Lieutenant John Gordon Aitken RNR, Polyanthus was sunk by U-952 using a GNAT before any rescue could be effected.[3][13] At least 7 officers and 77 crew were lost with Polyanthus among them Lt Graham Shepard. The only known survivor drowned within days at the hands of another U-boat attack on the ship that rescued him, HMS Itchen.[3]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]


  1. ^ a b Milner, Marc (1985). North Atlantic Run. Naval Institute Press. p. 158. ISBN 0-87021-450-0.
  2. ^ Warship Week(s) in World War 2, RishtonWeb, Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  3. ^ a b c Helgason, Guðmundur. "HMS Polyanthus (K 47)". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  4. ^ Lawson, Siri,"Convoy ON & ONS 18", Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  5. ^ HMS Polyanthus (K-47) (+1943),, Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  6. ^ Ossian, Robert,"Complete List of Sailing Vessels",, Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  7. ^ Fitzsimons, Bernard, ed. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons & Warfare (London: Phoebus, 1978), Volume 11, pp.1137–1142.
  8. ^ Jane's Fighting Ships of World War II, New Jersey: Random House, 1996, ISBN 0-517-67963-9, page 68.
  9. ^ Blake, Nicholas and Lawrence, Richard, The Illustrated Companion to Nelson's Navy, Stackpole Books, 2005, pp 39-63. ISBN 0-8117-3275-4
  10. ^ Chesneau, Roger and Gardiner, Robert, Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships (1922-1946), US Naval Institute Press (June 1980), p. 62 ISBN 0-87021-913-8
  11. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Corvettes". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  12. ^ a b Pocock, Michael W., "Daily Event for September 23",, 2007, Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  13. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "HMS Polyanthus (K 47)". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 13 April 2011.


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 57°0′0″N 31°6′0″W / 57.00000°N 31.10000°W / 57.00000; -31.10000