Allied Warships

HMS Gnat (T 60)

River gunboat of the Insect class

Photo Courtesy of Library of Contemporary History, Stuttgart

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeRiver gunboat
PennantT 60 
Built byLobnitz & Co. Ltd. (Renfrew, Scotland)  
Ordered9 Feb 1915 
Laid down 
Launched3 Dec 1915 
CommissionedDec 1915 
End service 

Torpedoed and heavily damaged off Bardia by the German submarine U-79. Towed to Alexandria and finally beached at Suez. Declared a total loss.
Scrapped in 1945.


Hit by U-boat
A total loss on 21 Oct 1941 by U-79 (Kaufmann).

U-boat AttackSee our U-boat attack entry for the HMS Gnat

Commands listed for HMS Gnat (T 60)

Please note that we're still working on this section
and that we only list Commanding Officers for the duration of the Second World War.

1Lt.Cdr. Samuel Reginald Halls Davenport, RN30 May 193930 Dec 1941
2A W Packham, RNVR30 Dec 194114 Apr 1942
3Lt. John Hollis Linggard, RNVR14 Apr 194220 Jun 1942
4T/Lt. Eric Charles Burberry Mares, RNVR20 Jun 1942mid/late42

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Notable events involving Gnat include:

4 Mar 1940
HMS Dauntless (Capt. G.D. Moore, RAN) made rendezvous with the river gunboats Cockchafter (Lt.Cdr. J.A. Agnew, RN) and HMS Gnat (Lt.Cdr. S.R.H. Davenport, RN) to escort them to Singapore. (1)

6 Mar 1940
HMS Dauntless (Capt. G.D. Moore, RAN), Cockchafter (Lt.Cdr. J.A. Agnew, RN) and HMS Gnat (Lt.Cdr. S.R.H. Davenport, RN) arrived at Singapore. (1)

22 Apr 1940
The river gunboats Cockchafter (Lt.Cdr. J.A. Agnew, RN), HMS Gnat (Lt.Cdr. S.R.H. Davenport, RN) departed Nancowry for Colombo. They were escorted by the heavy cruiser HMS Kent (Capt. D. Young-Jamieson, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.J.L. Murray, DSO, OBE, RN).

HMS Kent was relieved around midnight during the night of 22/23 April 1940 by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Cathay (Capt.(Retd.) B.W.L. Nicholson, DSO, RN).

HMS Kent proceeded to Colombo with despatch.


17 Jan 1941

Operation IS 1.

Bombardment of Tobruk.

Timespan; 17 January to 22 January 1941.

At 1800/17 the monitor HMS Terror (Cdr. H.J. Haynes, DSC, RN) and the gunboat HMS Aphis (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) J.O. Campbell, DSC, RN) departed Alexandria for Operation IS 1. The object was to bombard enemy positions off Mersa-el-Sahal in the Tobruk area during the nights of 18/19 and 19/20 January to aid the British Army in their attempt to capture Tobruk from the Italians.

At 0400/18, a force made up of 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 Bonaventure (Capt. H.G. Egerton, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO, RN), HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN) and HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO, RN) departed Alexandria. They were to cover the operations off Tobruk. The cruisers were to patrol to the north-west while the destroyers were to patrol off the north-east.

The weather however became bad and the operation had to be postponed for 24 hours. The cover forces however remained in their positions as it was thought possible that the old Italian armoured cruiser San Giorgio might try to escape from Tobruk. In the end the cover force was withdrawn for more urgent operations and was ordered to proceed to Suda Bay where they arrived in the afternoon of the 20th. Due to this bad weather the shallow draft HMS Aphis got into trouble as she was unable to seek shelter. Two destroyers and an aircraft were sent out for assistance. She was found at 1300/19 off Damietta. HMS Griffin then accompanied her to Port Said where she arrived at 0700/20. She had to be docked there for repairs to her hull.

The weather however remained bad and it was not possible to bombard during the night of 19/20 January as well. Also HMS Terror sustained weather damage but was able remain at sea.

During the night of 20/21 January, HMS Terror assisted by HMS Gnat (Lt.Cdr. S.R.H. Davenport, RN) and HMS Ladybird (Cdr.(Retd.) J.F. Blackburn, RN) from the Inshore Squadron did manage to carry out her bombardment duties. Little enemy opposition was experienced.

Also the destroyers HMAS Stuart (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, DSO, RAN), HMAS Vampire (Cdr. J.A. Walsh, RAN) and HMAS Voyager (Cdr. J.C. Morrow, DSO, RAN) were on patrol to the west of Tobruk to cut the enemy sea communications. HMAS Stuart and HMAS Vampire had departed Alexandria on 21st the to join the Inshore Squadron. HMAS Voyager had already been operating with the Inshore Squadron since 15 January. During the night of 21/22 January, HMAS Vampire sank the Italian schooner Diego west of Tobruk. The crew of ten were taken prisoner. On the 22nd HMAS Voyager returned to Alexandria due to defects. She was relieved the next day by HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN).

HMS Terror and HMS Gnat also returned to on the 22nd. HMS Terror had lost her mast and sustained some additional damage in the recent heavy weather. HMS Gnat had to clean her boilers. The destroyers remained on the inshore patrol for now. (3)

20 Oct 1941
The light cruisers HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN), HMS Galatea (Capt. E.W.B. Sim, RN) and HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, CBE, RAN) and the destroyers HMS Griffin (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN) and HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) departed Alexandria at 0830B/20 to bombard an enemy gun battery near Tobruk during the night of 20/21 October.

The cruisers returned to Alexandria at 1330B/21. At 0610B/21 the destroyers had been detached to go to the assistance of the gunboat HMS Gnat (Lt.Cdr. S.R.H. Davenport, RN) which had been torpedoed and heavily damaged. Due to the air threat they remained near Mersa Matruh and were not allowed to proceed further to the west. HMS Griffin and HMS Jaguar were later joined by the escort destroyers HMS Avon Vale (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN) and HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, RN).

They contacted the damaged gunboat before sunset. HMS Griffin took HMS Gnat in tow escorted by HMS Jaguar and the A/S whalers HMSAS Southern Maid and HMS Klo.

Tow was later passed to the tug HMS St. Monance.

HMS Jaguar, HMS Avon Vale and HMS Eridge arrived at Alexandria at 0030B/23.

HMS Gnat and HMS Griffin arrived at Alexandria later on 23 October. (4)


  1. ADM 53/111934
  2. ADM 53/112524 + ADM 199/382
  3. ADM 199/414
  4. ADM 53/115215 + ADM 199/415

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

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