Allied Warships

ORP Blyskawica (H 34)

Destroyer of the Grom class


Blyskawica today

NavyThe Polish Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassGrom 
PennantH 34 
Built byJ.S. White & Co. (Cowes, U.K.) 
Ordered 
Laid down9 Nov 1935 
Launched1 Oct 1936 
Commissioned25 Nov 1937 
End service1 May 1976 
History

Blyskawica means lightning in Polish.

Komandor Podporucznik Wlodzimierz Andrzey Kodrebski-Poraj in command

On 3 September 1939 ORP Blyscawica received the pennant number H 34 from the British.

Decommisioned 1 May 1976 and preserved as museum in Gdynia.

 

Commands listed for ORP Blyskawica (H 34)

Please note that we're still working on this section.

CommanderFromTo
1Kmdr por. T. Podjazd-Morgenstern, ORP25 Nov 19375 Jan 1938
2Kmdr ppor. Wlodzimierz Andrzej Kodrebski-Poraj, ORP5 Jan 19382 Oct 1939
3Por. mar. Tadeusz Gorazdowski, ORP2 Oct 193926 Nov 1939
4Kpt. mar. Jerzy Umecki, ORP26 Nov 193916 Feb 1940
5Kmdr ppor. Stanislaw Michal Nahorski, ORP16 Feb 194028 May 1940
6Kmdr ppor. Wojciech Francki, ORP5 Jun 194016 Jul 1940
7Kmdr ppor. Stanislaw Hryniewiecki, ORP16 Jul 194013 Sep 1940
8Por. mar. Tadeusz Gorazdowski, ORP13 Sep 194027 Sep 1940
9Kmdr ppor. Wojciech Francki, ORP28 Sep 194020 Mar 1942
10Kmdr ppor. Tadeusz Gorazdowski, ORP20 Mar 194214 Jul 1942
11Kpt. mar. Ludwik Lichodziejewski, ORP14 Jul 194224 Jun 1943
12Kmdr ppor. Konrad Franciszek Namiesniowski, ORP24 Jun 19434 Jan 1945
13Kmdr ppor. Ludwik Lichodziejewski, ORP4 Jan 19451945-11

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Notable events involving Blyskawica include:


All Commander ORP BLYSKAWICA kmdr por. Tadeusz Morgenstern-Podjazd: 7 XI 1937 ? 4 I 1939 kmdr por. Włodzimierz Kodrębski: 4 I 1939 ? 2 X 1939 p.o. kpt. mar. Tadeusz Gorazdowski: 2 X 1939 ? 1 XI 1939 p.o. kmdr ppor. Jerzy Umecki: 1 XI 1939 ? 16 II 1940 kmdr por. Stanisław Nahorski: 16 II 1940 ? 28 V 1940 p.o. kmdr ppor. Wojciech Francki: 5 VI 1940 ? 16 VII 1940 kmdr por. Stanisław Hryniewiecki: 16 VII 1940 ? 13 IX 1940 p.o. kpt. mar. Tadeusz Gorazdowski : 13 IX 1940 ? 27 IX 1940 kmdr ppor. Wojciech Francki : 28 IX 1940 ? 20 III 1942 kmdr ppor. Tadeusz Gorazdowski (third time): 20 III 1942 ? 25 V 1942 kmdr ppor. Ludwik Lichodziejewski: 14 VI 1942 ? 24 VI 1943 kmdr por. Konrad Namieśniowski: 24 VI 1943 ? 4 I 1945 kmdr por. Ludwik Lichodziejewski 4 I 1945 ? XI 1945 kmdr por. Wojciech Francki (third time): XI 1945 ? 28 V 1946 kmdr ppor. Bolesław Romanowski: 20 VI 1947 ? 20 VII 1947 kmdr ppor. Wacław Krzywiec: 21 VI 1947 ? V 1948 kmdr ppor. Zbigniew Węglarz: V 1948 ? 4 VII 1950 kmdr ppor. Zdzisław Studziński: 4 VII 1950 ? 24 X 1952 kpt. mar. Stanisław Mielczarek: 25 X 1952 ? 23 XI 1954 kpt. mar. Hieronim Kubera: 23 XI 1954 ? 18 I 1957 por. mar. Kryspin Lech: 4 II 1957 ? 18 VIII 1962 kpt. mar. Tadeusz Morzycki: 18 VIII 1962 ? 15 VII 1963 kpt. mar. J?zef Żywczak: 12 IX 1963 ? 18 VIII 1967 kmdr ppor. Bolesław Kilans: 18 VIII 1967 ? 19 V 1968 kpt. mar. Piotr Wolniszewski: 19 V 1969 ? 11 VI 1969 kpt. mar. Zenon Sawa: 1969 ? 1974 kmdr ppor. Zbigniew Strych: 1974 ? 1979 kmdr ppor. Władysław Łomża: 1979 ? 1982 kpt. mar. Mieczysław Waryszak: 1982 ? 1990 kmdr por. Lesław Paprocki: 1990 ? 2002 kmdr por. Jerzy Łubkowski: 2002-(today) (1)

1 Sep 1939
The Polish destroyers Burza (Komandor Podporucznik Stanislaw Michal Nahorski, ORP), Grom (Komandor Podporucznik Aleksander Hulewicz, ORP) and Blyskawica (Komandor Podporucznik Wlodzimiercz Andrzey Kodrebski-Poraj, ORP) were met in the North Sea by British aircraft and the British destroyers HMS Wallace (Lt.Cdr. William Maurice Lloyd Astwood, RN) and HMS Wanderer (Cdr Reginald Francis Morice, RN). They were escorted to Leith.

7 Sep 1939
On 7 September 1939, ORP Blyskawica becomes the first among the Polish Navy warships in World War 2 to attack a submerged U-boot 10 miles south east of South Uist island in the English Channel. (1)

6 Nov 1939
Blyskawica (Porucznik Marynarki Tadeusz Gorazdowski, ORP) and Grom (Komandor Podporucznik Aleksander Hulewicz, ORP) received orders to find and rescue downed British pilots in the Dogger Bank area. The Polish ships were attacked by two German He-115 hydroplanes. One of them dropped a torpedo aiming for Blyskawica. The destroyer turned rapidly and avoided the threat.

10 Nov 1939
Blyskawica (Porucznik Marynarki Tadeusz Gorazdowski, ORP) was docked at Chatham for a screws change and a boilers cleaning.

26 Nov 1939
Blyskawica received a new commanding officer, Kapitan Marynarki Jerzy Umecki.

30 Nov 1939
While Blyskawica was escorting a coastal convoy the commodore's ship Sheaf Crest, hit the mine and sank. Blyskawica picked up 25 survivors. (1)

12 Dec 1939
The 1st Destroyer Flotilla (including Blyskawica) conducted a raid in the Texel - Terschelling area in order to intercept German destroyers detected by reconnaissance. Due to the dense fog, this proved impossible. Two days later the entire flotilla returned to Harwich. (1)

18 Dec 1939
The British destroyers HMS Grenville (Capt. George Elvey Creasy, MVO, RN), HMS Greyhound (Cdr. Walter Roger Marshall-A'Deane, RN), HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. John Lee-Barber, RN) and the Polish destroyer Blyskawica (Kapitan Marynarki Jerzy Umecki, ORP) formed the escort of two British minelayers which conducted a night operation off the German coast. Mines were laid between Sylt Island and the harbour of Emden.

22 Mar 1940
The Polish destroyers Burza and Blyskawica escorted three French submarines and their tender Jules Verne on their route from Brest to Harwich. (1)

4 Apr 1940
The Polish destroyers Burza, Grom and Blyskawica reached their new home base Rosyth. In the afternoon they left the harbour with the British light cruisers HMS Arethusa, HMS Galatea and three British destroyers. These ships were ordered to conduct a patrol at North Sea and were later ordered to intercept German invasion groups heading for Norway. (1)

9 Apr 1940
The Polish destroyers Burza, Grom and Blyskawica were ordered to join the British destroyer HMS Tartar and provide escort for convoy HN-24 (31 merchants escaping from Norway to England, some of them were loaded with Norwegian gold). The convoy reached Britain without any loses. (1)

12 Apr 1940
The Polish destroyers Burza, Grom and Blyskawica entered Rosyth for refuelling. Then they were sent to Scapa Flow. (1)

17 Apr 1940
Blyskawica was part of the escort of the damaged British heavy cruiser HMS Suffolk while this ship returned to Scapa Flow. (1)

19 Apr 1940
The Polish destroyers Burza, Grom and Blyskawica left Scapa Flow and head to Narvik. During a storm Burza was damaged by high waves and forced to return. (1)

21 Apr 1940
The Polish destroyers Blyskawica and Grom entered the Vest Fjord, off Narvik, Norway. (1)

2 May 1940
Blyskawica entered the Rombaken Fjord in the Narvik area. She was ambushed by a German gun battery and machine guns firing at point-blank range. Despite this, ship didn't retreat. Polish gunners returned fire, destroyed three guns and silenced rest of them. Blyskawica was hit four times by gun shells and damaged. Three members of her crew were killed. After this fight, she was sent to Skjel Fjord for repairs which lasted for two days. (1)

5 May 1940
Blyskawica was on patrol in Rombaken Fjord. German aircraft conducted a heavy but unsuccessful attacks which lasted for 12 hours. In the evening, Blyskawica traded fire with a German 88mm gun battery. She was hit eleven times, but suffered only minor damage. The enemy guns were silenced. (1)

6 May 1940
Another day and again heavy fighting with German aircraft. Lot of bombs exploded in the water, causing no damage. The Polish ship fired it's entire supply of Anti-Aircraft ammunition and shot down one enemy bomber. After that, she entered Skjel Fjord where an Allied supply base was located. (1)

10 May 1940
The Polish destroyers Burza and Blyskawica left Norwegian waters in order to return to Scapa Flow. (1)

10 May 1940
Another heavy air attack. Blyskawica was operating in Skjel Fjord. She avoided all bombs and shot down one enemy bomber. Some fragments of wing of this airplane were found by Norwegian fishermen and were given to the Polish crew as a present. (1)

26 May 1940
Blyskawica accompanied the British light cruiser HMS Galatea on a patrol in the English Channel. (1)

27 May 1940
In the evening, the Polish destroyer Blyskawica received orders to meet with the British destroyers HMS Gallant and HMS Vivacious to enter the small port of La Panne (in the Dunkirk area) and evacuate part of RAF personnel. Unfortunately, she failed to find her partners and didn't complete the task. Instead of this, she was ordered to enter Dunkirk harbour together with the British destroyer HMS Vega and conduct a night reconnaissance mission. The Admiralty wanted to find out, if this harbour (partially blocked by wrecks) may be useful in Allied evacuation. Both destroyers were attacked by two German aircraft, but inspected the positions of wrecks. After that, Admiral Ramsey learned that navy vessels are able to conduct evacuation from Dunkirk and sent part of them there. (1)

28 May 1940
Blyskawica was ordered to patrol on Dunkirk evacuation route "Y" and provide Anti-Aircraft cover for Allied vessels. (1)

29 May 1940
Around 1700hours, two German bombers attacked the Polish destroyer Blyskawica, but missed. At night, she received a signal from the badly damaged British destroyer HMS Greyhound (loaded with some 1000 soldiers). The Polish destroyer managed to tow Greyhound to Dover. (1)

30 May 1940
The French destroyer Cyclone was hit by a torpedo fired by the German motor torpedo boat S-24. She was badly damaged but was able to sail at a speed of 5 knots. The French Commanding Officer asked the Polish destroyer Blyskawica for escort. The Polish destroyer answered and provided the cover requested. Both ships then met the French destroyer Sirocco that was loaded with soldiers. She passed nearby and disappeared in the darkness. After one hour Sirocco was torpedoed and sunk by the German motor torpedo boats S-23 and S-26. Blyskawica left Cyclone. She picked up 15 survivors from the Sirocco. Then she returned to Cyclone and accompanied her to Dover. (1)

31 May 1940
Blyskawica continued her patrol on Dunkirk evacuation route "Y". (1)

1 Jun 1940
Blyskawica was ordered to return to Harwich where she arrived the next day. (1)

9 Jun 1940
Blyskawica left Harwich and steamed to Cowes for repairs and refitting. (1)

12 Aug 1940
Blyskawica took part in the Anti-Aircraft defence of Portsmouth. She shot down one enemy bomber (He-111). (1)

30 Aug 1940
The Polish destroyers Blyskawica and Burza joined the escort of a convoy heading to the USA. Later Burza suffered a malfunction and was forced to return to base. (1)

1 Sep 1940
Lookouts on Blyskawica spotted a lifeboat from the British Merchant Har Zion with one survivor (Seaman Osman Adem). He was picked up. The Har Zion was torpedoed and sunk the previous day by German U-boat U-38 northwest of Bloody Foreland in position 56°20'N, 10°00'W. 34 members of her crew went down with the ship. (1)

2 Sep 1940
Blyskawica and some British destroyers left the convoy they were escorting and formed an escort of another convoy which was heading to England. (1)

3 Sep 1940
While escorting a convoy, ORP Blyskawica observed a periscope and attacked a U-boat with depth charges. Two hours later, in fog, she encountered a U-boat (probably the same one) on the surface at a distance of 700 meter and attacked it with gunfire and depth charges. (1)

29 Sep 1940
The 5th Destroyer Flotilla (including Blyskawica) was on patrol in English Channel. At night, HMS Broke and the Polish destroyer were sent against group of German motor torpedo boats. However, the Germans found their target first. They approached and fired several torpedoes. The Allied crews managed to spot the torpedoes and avoided them. The destroyers fired star shells, but spotted only one of the attackers retreating at high speed. After few salvos, contact was lost. (1)

20 Oct 1940
The British destroyers HMS Kashmir (Cdr. Henry Alexander King, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. John Franklin William Hine RN), HMS Broke (Cdr. Bryan Gouthwaite Scurfield, RN) and the Polish destroyer Blyskawica (Komandor Podporucznik Wojciech Franki, ORP) conducted a patrol in the English Channel. They detected four German destroyers. The enemy ships turned back to their base. The allied pursuit was unsuccessful.

26 Oct 1940
Blyskawica collided with a freighter. There were no casualties, but the destroyer had to be repaired. (1)

4 Dec 1940
Shortly after the end of the repairs, Blyskawica was ordered to join the escort of convoy heading to the USA. During a very strong storm the destroyer suffered serious damage. The rudder jammed 20 degrees to portside. A group of sailors managed to unblock it and steer the ship using the manual steering system. Also Depth charges were smashed into the water by the pounding waves. A torpedo mount was damaged and rotated without control. Later, the rudder jammed again, however only 2 degrees to portside, so they were able to steer with the ships propellers. Blyskawica returned to Greenock on 6 December 1940. (1)

11 Feb 1941
Blyskawica escorted a convoy to Iceland. But on the 14th she was again damaged in a storm and she had to return to Greenock (1)

13 Mar 1941
While in dock Blyskawica took part in the Anti-Aircraft defence of Glasgow. (1)

2 Dec 1941
After a long repair and rearming period, ORP Blyskawica (Komandor Podporucznik Wojciech Francki) came to Scapa Flow for training.

20 Dec 1941
With her refresher training completed Blyskawica arrived in Greenock fully combat ready. (1)

30 Dec 1941
Blyskawica arrived at Reykjavik, Iceland. (1)

4 Apr 1942
Blyskawica suffered damage due to a storm. (1)

6 Apr 1942
The damaged Polish destroyer arrived in Greenock. (1)

9 Apr 1942
Blyskawica was sent to Cowes for repairs. (1)

11 Apr 1942
Blyskawica arrived at Cowes where she was welcomed by the sirens and a German air raid. (1)

12 Apr 1942
Blyskawica moves to J.S. White's yard to service her engines, refurbishment and repair the storm damage. (1)

23 Apr 1942
While Blyskawica was under repair at Cowes, German bombers conducted an air raid (at night) against the dockyard. One bomb exploded near the destroyer causing some damage. (1)

28 Apr 1942
Around 0600 hours the ship yard was attacked by 6 Me 109's. Blyskawica received some damage. (1)

4 May 1942
During another heavy air raid on Cowes, ORP Blyskawica (Kapitan Marynarki Tadeusz Gorazdowski) took part in the AA defence. After the attack, part of Polish crew helped in fighting the fires in the town.

10 Aug 1942
ORP Blyskawica, together with the British destroyer HMS Broke receives orders to reinforce the escort of convoy SC-94.

Media links


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

Sources

  1. Personal communication

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