Gilbert Lescombe Farnfield DSO, DSC, RN

Born  15 Nov 1905Broadstairs in Kent, UK
Died  11 Nov 1961(55)Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, Scotland


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Ranks

15 Nov 1931 Lt.
15 Nov 1939 Lt.Cdr.
30 Jun 1945 Cdr.
30 Jun 1950 Capt.

Retired: 7 Jul 1959


Decorations

11 Nov 1941 DSO
30 Oct 1944 DSC

Warship Commands listed for Gilbert Lescombe Farnfield, RN


ShipRankTypeFromTo
HMS Defender (H 07)Lt.Cdr.Destroyer31 Oct 194011 Jul 1941
HMS Quality (G 62)Lt.Cdr.Destroyer15 Jun 1942Jun 1944

Career information

He was educated at the Thames Nautical Training College HMS Worcester circa 1918 – 1922. Cadet and then Junior Officer in the Peninsular & Orient Line (P&O) Merchant Service

Entered service in the Royal Navy 15 November 1931 (26th Birthday). Retired in the rank of Captain

Married Lucy Edith Turner on 28 April 1934 in Sydney New South Wales, Australia. They had a son; Richard Hugh Farnfield born 4th December 1937 (Also Captain RN).

Events related to this officer

Destroyer HMS Defender (H 07)


4 Dec 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) shifted from Alexandria to Port Said. (1)

5 Dec 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) departed Port Said for Suda Bay. [This may have been to escort a convoy but no mention of this could be found in documents.] (1)

7 Dec 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) arrived at Suda Bay. (1)

10 Dec 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) departed Suda Bay for Alexandria. (1)

12 Dec 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) arrived at Alexandria from Suda Bay. (1)

27 Dec 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) arrived at Port Said from escot duty. She departed later in the day for Alexandria. (1)

28 Dec 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) arrived at Alexandria. (1)

17 Jan 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.R. Marshall-A’Deane, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) and HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN) departed Alexandria for Piraeus, Greece where they arrived on the 19th. (2)

19 Jan 1941

Convoy AS 12

This convoy departed Pireaus on 19 January 1941 for Port Said where it arrived on 21 January 1941.

The convoy was made up of the following merchants vessels Clan Cumming (British, 7264 GRT, built 1938), Clan Macdonald (British, 9653 GRT, built 1939) and Empire Song (British, 9228 GRT, built 1940).

They were escorted by the AA cruiser HMS Calcutta (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.R. Marshall-A’Deane, DSO, DSC, RN) , HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) and HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN).

The convoy departed Piraeus around 0800 hours in the morning of the 19th.

Shortly before noon, the Italian submarine Neghelli attacked the convoy and managed to torpedo and damage the Clan Cumming to the south-south-east of San Giorgio Island in position 37°15’N, 24°04’E. HMS Greyhound detected the submarine and managed to sink it with depth charges.

The Clan Cumming then headed back to Piraeus under escort of HMS Janus.

The remainder of the convoy arrived at Port Said on January 21st. The escorts then proceeded to Alexandria where they arrived later the same day. (2)

23 Jan 1941
HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) departed Alexandria around 0800 hours to relieve HMAS Voyager (Cdr. J.C. Morrow, DSO, RAN) in the Inshore Squadron. The Australian destroyer had been damaged an needed to return to Alexandria for repairs. (2)

29 Jan 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) returned to Alexandria, having been relieved in the Inshore Squadron by HMAS Voyager (Cdr. J.C. Morrow, DSO, RAN) which had completed her repairs at Alexandria. (1)

3 Feb 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) arrived at Malta where she was taken in hand for refit. (1)

21 Mar 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN), who was carrying out post refit trials and exercises off Malta following her refit, was attacked by enemy aircraft. She received some splinter damage from a near miss.

30 Mar 1941
HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) and HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) arrived at Suda Bay from operations. (1)

31 Mar 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) and HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) departed Suda Bay for Pireaus. It appears they were escorting (at least) the transport Dumana (British, 8427 GRT, built 1923). (1)

1 Apr 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)

Convoy ASF 22

This convoy departed Pireaus on 1 April 1941 for Alexandria where it arrived on 4 April 1941.

The convoy was made up of the following merchants vessels Brattdal (Norwegian, 4968 GRT, built 1935), City of Karachi (British, 7140 GRT, built 1937), City of Windsor (British, 7218 GRT, built 1923), Comliebank (British, 5149 GRT, built 1929), Dumana (British, 8427 GRT, built 1923), Ulster Prince (British, 3791 GRT, built 1930), Port Halifax (British, 5820 GRT, built 1937), Settler (British, 6202 GRT, built 1939), Thermopylae (Norwegian, 6655 GRT, built 1930) and Thurland Castle (British, 6372 GRT, built 1929),

They were escorted by the AA cruiser HMS Calcutta (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMAS Vampire (Cdr. J.A. Walsh, RAN), HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) and HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN).

While near Kithera HMS Calcutta was detached to convoy ANF 22.

Passage of the convoy was uneventful. (2)

6 Apr 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
The troopship Ulster Prince (British, 3791 GRT, built 1930) and the transport Thurland Castle (British, 6372 GRT, built 1929) departed Alexandria for Tobruk.

They were escorted by the AA cruiser HMS Calcutta (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) and HMAS Voyager (Cdr. J.C. Morrow, DSO, RAN).

The destroyers HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN), HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, RAN) conducted a sweep ahead of this convoy. (2)

8 Apr 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Calcutta (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN), HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) and HMAS Voyager (Cdr. J.C. Morrow, DSO, RAN) returned to Alexandria.

The destroyers HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN), HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, RAN) conducted a sweep ahead of this convoy. (2)

8 Apr 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO, RN) and HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN) departed Alexandria.

HMS Defender and HMS Hero were to take over escort duties from with convoy AN 25 from HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO, RN) and HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN) which then set course for Suda Bay with HMS Nubian where they arrived on the 9th.

Convoy AN 25, which had departed Port Said on the 5th arrived at Piraeus on the 10th.

This convoy was made up of the following transports; Bantria (British, 2407 GRT, built 1928), British Lord (British, 6098 GRT, built 1922), Cavallo (British, 2269 GRT, built 1922), Ena (Dutch, 6229 GRT, built 1936), Maria Stathatos (Greek, 6303 GRT, built 1922), Rawnsley (British, 4998 GRT, built 1940), Vasco (British, 2878 GRT, built 1939) and Warszawa (British, 2487 GRT, built 1915). (2)

13 Apr 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)

Convoy’s GA 12 and ASF 25.

These convoys departed Pireaus on 13 April 1941 for Alexandria where they arrived on 15 April 1941.

These convoys were made up of the following transports City of Windsor (British, 7218 GRT, built 1923), HMS Glenearn (Capt.(Retd.) L.B. Hill, OBE, RN), HMS Glenroy (Capt.(Retd.) Sir J.F. Paget, RN) and Ozarda (British, 6985 GRT, built 1940).

Escort was provided by the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. T.C. Hampton, RN), destroyers HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt. W.J. Munn, RN) and the sloop HMS Auckland (Cdr. E.G. Hewitt, DSO, RN). (2)

24 Apr 1941
HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) departed Tobruk for Suda Bay. (1)

25 Apr 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) arrived at Suda Bay from Tobruk. (1)

28 Apr 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
Operation Demon continued, more troops were to be evacuated from Greece during the night of 28/29 April 1941.

From Kithera;
About 750 RAF and other personnel were taken off by the sloop HMS Auckland (Cdr. E.G. Hewitt, DSO, RN) and the corvettes HMS Hyacinth (T/A/Lt.Cdr. F.C. Hopkins, DSC, RNR) and HMS Salvia (Lt.Cdr. J.I. Miller, DSO, RN, RNR).

From Monemvasia;
About 4320 troops were evacuated by the light cruiser HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, RN) and the destroyers HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN), HMS Havock (Lt. G.R.G. Watkins, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, DSC, RN) and HMS Isis (Cdr. C.S.B. Swinley, DSC, RN).

From Kalamata;
450 troops were taken off, more was not possible as Kalamata was already in enemy hands, by the light cruisers HMAS Perth (Capt. P.W. Bowyer-Smith, RN), HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN) and the destroyers HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN), HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt. W.J. Munn, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO, RN), HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Sommerville, DSO, DSC, RN). (2)

29 Apr 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)

Convoy’s GA 15.

This convoy was formed north of Crete on 29 April 1941 for Alexandria / Port Said where it arrived on 1 May 1941.

This convoy was made up of the following transports; Comliebank (British, 5149 GRT, built 1929), Corinthia (Greek, 3721 GRT, built 191), Delane (British, 6054 GRT, built 1938), Ionia (British, 1936 GRT, built 1923), Itria (British, 6845 GRT, built 1940), Thurland Castle (British, 6372 GRT, built 1929) and the RFA oiler Brambleleaf (5917 GRT, built 1917).

Escort was provided by the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. T.C. Hampton, RN), destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Sommerville, DSO, DSC, RN) and the sloop HMS Auckland (Cdr. E.G. Hewitt, DSO, RN).

Cover was provided by the light cruisers HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.D. Pridham-Whippell, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, RN), HMAS Perth (Capt. P.W. Bowyer-Smith, RN), HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN) and the destroyers HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN), HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt. W.J. Munn, RN) and HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN).

The battleships HMS Barham (Capt. G.C. Cooke, RN, flying the flag of A/Rear-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. C.E. Morgan, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.W.la T. Bisset, RN), and the destroyers HMAS Stuart (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, DSO, RAN), HMAS Vampire (Cdr. J.A. Walsh, RAN), HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, RAN), HMAS Voyager (Cdr. J.C. Morrow, DSO, RAN), HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN) and HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.R. Marshall-A'Deane, DSO, DSC, RN) sailed from Alexandria to support the convoy. The forces met south of the Kaso Strait on 30 April where HMAS Perth, HMS Phoebe and HMS Nubian joined the force of Rear-Admiral Rawlings. His force was also joined by three more destroyers; HMS Ilex (Capt. H.St.L. Nicholson, DSO and Bar, RN) joined from Alexandria while HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) and HMS Juno (Cdr. St. J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN) joined coming from Malta. HMAS Perth and HMS Nubian were however soon detached and joined the close escort of the actual convoy.

The bulk of the convoy arrived at Alexandria on the 1st,but Comliebank and Itria went to Port Said instead escorted by HMS Decoy and HMS Defender. They also arrived on May 1st.

The Fleet arrived at Alexandria on the 3rd. (2)

2 May 1941
HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN) and HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) departed Port Said for Mersa Matruh. Here they were to embark troops and then take them to Tobruk. (2)

3 May 1941
HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN) and HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) shelled Tobruk during the night of 3/4 May 1941. They then proceeded to Alexandria. (2)

4 May 1941
HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN) and HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) arrived at Alexandria. (2)

6 May 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) returned to Alexandria for repairs. (2)

14 May 1941
At 2000/14, the battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.D. Pridham-Whippell, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Barham (Capt. G.C. Cooke, RN), light cruisers HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN), destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN), HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.A. Marshall-A’Deane, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) departed Alexandria to operate to the west of Crete as an enemy invasion was feared. They were to act as a cover force for light forces transporting troops and conducting operations in the Aegean.

HMS Phoebe developed cracks in her hull plating and was forced to return to Alexandria on the 16th. She was replaced by HMAS Perth.

This force returned to Alexandria on the 20th. A few modifications had been made to the destroyer force though. (2)

20 May 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) returned to Alexadria from operations. (1)

22 May 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) and HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) departed Alexandria loaded with ammunition for the troops in Crete. They were to land this ammunition at Suda Bay.

They first joined force A 1 at sea (see the event 'the battle for Crete' for 20 May 1941 for more info), before being detached at 2359/23 to proceed to Suda Bay. (2)

24 May 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) and HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) arrived at Suda Bay where they unloaded the ammuntion very early on the day. After this had been completed they departed for Alexandria where they arrived very late on the same day. (2)

26 May 1941
HMS Calcutta (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN) and HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) departed Alexandria to reinforce the escort of convoy AN 31 that had departed earlier this day and which only escort so far had been the sloop HMS Auckland (A/Capt. E.G. Hewitt, RN). The convoy and it's escort was ordered to return to Alexandria the next day and arrived back in harbour on the 28th. (2)

9 Jun 1941
HMAS Stuart (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, DSO, RAN), Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine RN), HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN) and Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) departed Alexandria to reinforce British forces operating off the coast of Syria.

They acted as a separate A/S force. While operating in this area Haifa was used as a base to fuel. (3)

18 Jun 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN), HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN) and Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) arrived at Alexandria from operations off Syria. (3)

26 Jun 1941
The battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN), HMS Warspite (Capt. D.B. Fisher, CBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. C.E. Morgan, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, RN), fast minelayer HMS Abdiel (Capt. E. Peydell-Bouverie, MVO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN), HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN) departed Alexandria for exercises between Alexandria and Port Said.

HMS Warspite was later detached to Port Said. She was to proceed to the USA for repairs and refit. She was escorted to Port Said by HMS Griffin, HMS Kandahar and HMS Kimberley. After delivering the battleship at Port Said, Griffin and Kandahar proceeded to Haifa to operate off the Syrian coast while Kimberley rejoined the Fleet.

The light cruiser HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN) and the fast minelayer HMS Latona (Capt. S.L. Bateson, RN) also joined the Fleet for the exercises.

The Fleet returned to Alexandria the next day (27th). (3)

28 Jun 1941
HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) and HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN) departed Alexandria with supplies for Tobruk.

HMS Defender had been assigned to the Tobruk run. Some modifications had been carried out to enable her to transport more stores and troops. The most significant of these modifications was the removal of her after set of torpedo tubes. (3)

29 Jun 1941
HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) and HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN) landed the supplies at Tobruk. Later the same day they sailed from Tobruk for Alexandria with carrying soldiers of the 6th (Australian) Division.

At 1945/29 the ships were off Sollum and came under attack of 19 Ju-87s, of which 12 were German machines from I/St.G.1 and 7 Italian of the 239th Dive-bombing Sqn (Capt. Giuseppe Cenni). It was the latter which scored a hit on HMAS Waterhen, the plane piloted by Maresciallo (Chief W.O.) Ennio Tarantola, placing his 500-kg (1100 lb) bomb on the stern of the destroyer. The detonation caused the immediate flooding of the engine and boiler rooms. The situation appeared desperate from the onset and HMAS Waterhen was abandoned, the entire crew (there were no dead) being taken aboard Defender which first attempted to tow the damaged ship.

In the same area operated the Italian submarine Tembien, which witnessed the attack and attempted to close the cripple to delivered a coup de grace but was detected by HMS Defender and forced to fire blindly, missing the target.

HMAS Waterhen finally capsized and sank at 0150/30, seven nautical miles north of Sidi el-Barrani in position 32°15'N, 25°20'E.

HMS Defender returned to Alexandria later on the 30th with HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) which had been sent from Alexandria to help the crippled Australian destroyer. (3)

3 Jul 1941
HMAS Stuart (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, DSO, RAN), HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, RAN) and HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) departed Alexandria for Tobruk.

That evening, while off Mersa Matruh, HMAS Stuart sighted a surfaced submarine. HMS Defender was ordered to hunt the submarine, which was the Italian Malachite, while the Australian destroyers continued the passage to Tobruk. HMS Defender's A/S hunt was not successful and she returned to Alexandria the next day. (3)

5 Jul 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, RAN) and HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) departed Alexandria for Tobruk where they arrived the next day. (4)

6 Jul 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, RAN) and HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) departed Tobruk for operations. They returned the next day. (4)

8 Jul 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, RAN) and HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) shifted from Tobruk to Alexandria. (4)

10 Jul 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, RAN) and HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) departed Alexandria for Tobruk where they arrived later the same day. (4)

11 Jul 1941
in the early hours of 11 July 1941 HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) sailed from Tobruk for Alexandria in company with HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, RAN). Besides her complement she had on board the crew of the sunken HMAS Waterhen.

Within a few hours, taking advantage of a clear and moonlit night, a single Ju-88s of I/LG.1 (Lt. Gerd Stamp), on a reconnaissance flight along the coast, attacked the destroyers. At 0518 hours a heavy calibre bomb near-missed HMS Defender, detonating beneath the machinery spaces. The heavy mining effect deformed the stern and flooded the engine rooms and one boiler room. Despite determined attempts at towing, HMAS Vendetta was unable to make much headway. It appears Defender's back was broken, and as she was deep in the water from flooding, the tow caused much strain on Vendetta's old (1917 vintage) engines. The decision was then made to scuttle the crippled destroyer, carried out by a torpedo from HMAS Vendetta at 1145 hours, barely seven nautical miles north of Sidi el-Barrani. There was no loss of life in the sinking, all 271 aboard HMS Defender transferred safely to HMAS Vendetta and arrived Alexandria unscathed.

Sources

  1. ADM 199/2552
  2. ADM 199/414
  3. ADM 199/415
  4. ADM 187/14

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.


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