Ships hit by U-boats

HMS Mahratta (G 23)

British Destroyer

NameHMS Mahratta (G 23)
Type:Destroyer (M-class)
Tonnage1,920 tons
Completed1943 - Scott´s Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd, Greenock 
OwnerThe Admiralty 
Date of attack25 Feb 1944Nationality:      British
FateSunk by U-990 (Hubert Nordheimer)
Position71° 12'N, 13° 30'E - Grid AB 9483
Complement236 officers and men (220 dead and 16 survivors).
RouteLoch Ewe (20 Feb) - Kola Inlet 

Laid down as HMS Marksman (G 23), launched as HMS Mahratta (G 23)
. The completion of the destroyer was delayed until April 1943, because the yard had been bombed by the Luftwaffe in 1941. After working up at Scapa Flow, she was part of the escort for the British liner Queen Mary with Churchill on board. On 4 Jun 1943, the destroyer took part in Operation FH, leaving Seidisfjord, Iceland to relief the garrison at Spitzbergen. In July, HMS Mahratta (G 23) and HMS Musketeer (G 86) made their first high speed run to Murmansk carrying important supplies. The ship took part in Operations Camera and Governor, movements designed to simulate a landing on the Norwegian coast to distract the Germans from the landings in Sicily. In August 1943, the destroyer sailed with the 10th Cruiser Squadron for Operation Lozry, covering the passage of destroyers with personnel and stores to Kola. Mainly the personnel and parts for the Spitfire reconnaissance aircraft, which monitored the German battleship Tirpitz in the Altenfjord. The battleship and several destroyers were at sea, but missed the convoy and later shelled Spitzbergen. In September 1943, the destroyer sailed to the Bay of Biscay to meet HMS Valiant (02) and three aircraft carriers. Two of the carriers returned to Gibraltar with an escort of four destroyers, but HMS Matchless (G 52) broke down and had to be taken in tow by HMS Mahratta (G 23) for several hours until the chain parted. Later that day, the destroyer picked up the survivors from a Hampden aircraft, which had been shot down by an U-boat off Bordeaux. The survivors had been in the dingy for eleven days. The destroyer arrived on 10 October at Plymouth for an overhaul. On 15 Nov 1943, HMS Mahratta (G 23) escorted the convoy JW-54A from Loch Ewe to Kola Inlet and on the return passage the convoy RA-54B. The destroyer made two more passages on the Arctic convoy route until her last with convoy JW-57.

HMS Marhatta (G 23) was awarded the Battle Honour Arctic 1943-44.

Notes on event

At 20.55 hours on 25 Feb 1944, HMS Mahratta (G 23) (LtCdr E.A.F. Drought, DSC, RN) was hit by a Gnat from U-990 about 280 miles from the North Cape, while escorting the stern sector of convoy JW-57. The destroyer exploded and sank within minutes. HMS Impulsive (D 11) (LtCdr P. Bekenn, RN) and HMS Wanderer (D 74) (LtCdr R.F. Whinney, DSC, RN) were quickly on the scene to pick up survivors, but only 16 survivors could be recovered from the freezing waters. The commander, ten officers and 209 ratings lost their lives.

On boardWe have details of 220 people who were on board

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Media links

U-Boat Attack Logs

Daniel Morgan and Bruce Taylor
(£ 38.25)

Return to Allied Ships hit by U-boats

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