HMS Laforey (G 99)
Destroyer of the L class
|Navy||The Royal Navy|
|Built by||Yarrow Shipbuilders Ltd. (Scotstoun, Scotland)|
|Ordered||31 Mar 1938|
|Laid down||1 Mar 1939|
|Launched||15 Feb 1941|
|Commissioned||26 Aug 1941|
|Lost||30 Mar 1944|
|Loss position||38° 54'N, 14° 18'E|
Shorty after being completed HMS Laforey joined Force H at Gibraltar and escorted a Malta convoy. The destroyer took part in the most Malta operations in 1941 and 1942. On one of this operations, HMS Ark Royal was torpedoed on 13 November 1941 by the German submarine U-81. The aircraft carrier lost all power and the destroyer went alongside to provide power and assist the rescue and salvage parties, but the carrier foundered shortly before reaching Gibraltar.
Between this operations, in May 1942, HMS Laforey participated in the landings at Diego Suarez, Madagascar.
In December 1942, the destroyer escorted the convoy KMF-5, when the merchant Strathallan was torpedoed on 21 December by U-562. The destroyer picked up many survivors and took the ship in tow, but she foundered shortly before reaching Oran.
In the spring of 1943, HMS Laforey undertook shore bombardments in Tunisia and participated in the blockade of the Cape Bon area to prevent the escape of the German Army to Sicily.
In June 1943, the vessel took part in the bombardment and capture of Pantellaria and Lampedusa and a month later participated in the landings in Sicily.
On 23 July 1943, the Italian submarine Ascianghi was sunk by depth charges from HMS Laforey and HMS Eclipse near Augusta.
In September 1943, the destroyer participated in the landing at Salerno and was hit by a shore battery. The engine room was damaged, but the ship remained on patrol at a reduced speed.
Between October 1943 and January 1944, she took part in various bombardments of enemy positions on the west coast of Italy. HMS Laforey earned the following battle honours: Malta Convoys 1941-42, Diego Suarez 1942, Atlantic 1942, Sicily 1943, Salerno 1943, Mediterranean 1943-44, Anzio 1944.
On 29 March 1944 the German submarine U-223 was located by asdic from the British destroyer HMS Ulster, which was carrying out a routine Anti-Submarine sweep together with two other destroyers of the 14th Flotilla, HMS Laforey and HMS Tumult. The U-boat was heavily depth-charged, but managed to carry out many evasive manoeuvres in an attempt to evade destruction. In the early morning on 30 March, the U-boat was forced to surface and was attacked by the destroyers with gunfire, which now included the British escort destroyers HMS Hambledon, HMS Blencathra and HMS Wilton, which had replaced HMS Ulster. Shortly before being sunk, U-223 fired a Gnat and hit HMS Laforey, which sank about 60 nautical miles northeast of Palermo, Sicily, Italy in position 38º54'N, 14º18'E. Among the 189 who lost their lives was the Commanding Officer of Laforey and the 14th Flotilla, Capt. Harold Thomas Armstrong, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN.
Hit by U-boat
|U-boat Attack||See our U-boat attack entry for the HMS Laforey|
Commands listed for HMS Laforey (G 99)
Please note that we're still working on this section.
|1||Capt. Reginald Maurice James Hutton, RN||10 Apr 1941||Sep 1943|
|2||Capt. Harold Thomas Armstrong, DSO, DSC, RN||Sep 1943||30 Mar 1944 (+)|
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Notable events involving Laforey include:
21 Dec 1942
At 02.23 hours on 21 December 1942 German U-boat U-562 fired a spread of four torpedoes at convoy KMF-5 about 40 miles north of Oran and heard two detonations after 65 seconds and another after 5 minutes 50 seconds. However, only the ship of the convoy commodore, the British troop transport Strathallan was hit by one torpedo which struck on port side in the engine room. The explosion killed two engineer officers and two Indian crewmen on watch below, damaged the bulkhead separating the engine and boiler rooms and fractured a tank causing oil to enter the boiler room. The ship immediately developed a 15° list to port and the master ordered the nurses and troops to abandon ship in calm seas in the four motor boats, 16 lifeboats and rafts. All got away, except one lifeboat that had been damaged by the explosion and another that could not be launched due to the list. After it became clear that the ship would not sink fast, the evacuation was stopped and the troops ordered to the starboard side to help the stability. The about 1300 survivors in the boats and on rafts were picked up in the morning by the British destroyer HMS Verity (Lt. J.C. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN) and taken to Oran.
After two hours of work, at about 06.00 hours the British destroyer HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, DSO, RN) took the Strathallan in tow for Oran at a speed of 5-6 knots. Shortly after midday about 2000 survivors were transferred to the British destroyers HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. Viscount Jocelyn, RN) and HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN) and taken to Oran. It appeared as though the ship could be saved as the British rescue tug HMRT Restive (Lt. D.M. Richards, RNR) went alongside to assist the pumping, but at 13.15 hours oil came in contact with the hot boilers and the fumes exploded, sending flames up through the funnel. The ship was soon ablaze amidships so the master ordered the ship to be abandoned. All men went aboard the tug except a skeleton crew and were then transferred to HMS Laforey because HMS Restive continued to tow the burning ship slowly towards Oran for 14 hours, but she capsized to port and sank 12 miles off Oran in position 36°01'N, 00°33'W at about 04.00 hours on 22 December.
The Strathallan had 440 crew members, 26 gunners, 248 Queen Alexandra nurses and 4408 British and American troops (among them 296 officers, some possibly of the Headquarter staff of the 1st US Army) on board. Of this number, only 6 crew members and five troops were lost.
7 May 1943
The German auxiliary minesweeper M 6616/Alba Eder (21 GRT) and the Italian tug Porto Cesareo (230 GRT) were sunk off Cape Bon, Tunisia by gunfire from the British destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, DSO, RN), HMS Loyal (Lt.Cdr. H.E.F. Tweedie, RN), HMS Tartar (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN) and HMS Nubian (Cdr. D.E. Holland-Martin, DSC, RN).
23 Jul 1943
The Italian submarine Ascianghi (offsite link) was sunk off Augusta, Sicily by the British destroyers HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, DSO, RN).
30 Mar 1944
German U-boat U-223 was sunk in the Mediterranean north of Palermo, in position 38°48'N, 14°10'E, by depth charges from the British destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. H.T. Armstrong, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Tumult (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN) and the British escort destroyers HMS Hambledon (Lt. L.G. Toone, RN) and HMS Blencathra (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Warren, RN).