Allied Warships

HMS Fortune (H 70)

Destroyer of the F class

NavyThe Royal Navy
PennantH 70 
Built byJohn Brown Shipbuilding & Engineering Company Ltd. (Clydebank, Scotland) 
Ordered17 Mar 1933 
Laid down25 Jul 1933 
Launched29 Aug 1934 
Commissioned27 Apr 1935 
End service31 May 1943 

In September 1939 HMS Fortune was a member of the 8th DD Flotilla home fleet and was deployed in the search for U-boats off the Hebrides. On the 20th of that month the German submarine U-27 was found and sunk by Fortune and her sister ship HMS Forester.

In April 1940 she patrolled the area south west of the Lofotens to screen the heavy ships against German U-boat attacks. In July, the destroyer assisted with the escorting of convoy WS-2 embarked were troop reinforcements including at least three Armoured Regiments for the 7th Armoured Division in Middle East. Also embarked was the 2nd West African Brigade en-route Mombassa for the Abyssinian Campaign. On August 25th, they arrived in South Africa, the convoy split into WS-2A for Cape Town and WS-2B for Simonstown, it included 14 ships. That same month the 8th DD Flotilla was transferred to Gibraltar, and destined for Force H. On September 6th, she sailed from Gibraltar with the fleet, in order to meet a troop convoy on the 13th, which was being escorted by two cruisers. The troops were to be deployed in the attack on Dakar. On the 24th of that month Fortune detected and sunk the French submarine Ajax. In October the destroyer was deployed in surveillance off the Morocan coast for suspected Vichy French warships.

January 1941 saw Fortune deployed as a convoy escort for a Malta bound convoy leaving Gibraltar, she was to steam as far as the Skerki Channel. On April 5th, she escorted the carrier HMS Ark Royal 400 miles off Malta, thereby enabling aircraft to be flown off to the island. On May 10th, whilst deployed as a unit of the covering force for a Malta bound convoy, Fortune received a heavy hit from German and Italian bombers and had to proceed back to U.K. for repairs. Once her repairs were completed she went back to Gibraltar.

In February 1942 Fortune was transferred to 12th Destroyer Flotilla and transported important spare parts to Malta during her passage through the Mediterranean to get to her new base in Colombo. During March – April 1942 she was in the Indian Ocean as a member of force B under Vice Admiral Willis Eastern Fleet, based on Trincomalee, Ceylon. By June she was back in Mediterranean waters and again a member of the 2nd DD Flotilla. A double convoy was organised, one to sail from Gibraltar for Malta, and the other from Alexandria to Malta, Fortune being one of the many destroyers called in to assist in the escort duties. Fortune was slightly damaged to her rudder, this was repaired at Colombo. During September – November 1942 back in the Indian Ocean she was involved in the escorting of the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious who was responsible for the supplying of air cover for the British occupation of Madagascar. December 7-15th saw Fortune docked in the Selborne dry dock at Simonstown, South Africa.

On 31 May 1943 HMS Fortune bacame HMCS Saskatchewan. In August 1943 Saskatchewan was a member of escort group C3 whose task it was to supply escorts in the north Atlantic, under the command of Cdr. Medley RN. She performed this function until the end of the year.

During June 6-30th 1944 Saskatchewan was a member of the 11th Escort Group, deployed against the U-boat threat to Operation Overlord.

During January – April 1945 HMCS Saskatchewan was detached from the Western Approaches Command for operations in Canadian waters, after undergoing repairs at Portsmouth. She was decommissioned on 27 January 1946 and sold to be broken up for scrap.

Career notesBecame the Canadian destroyer Saskatchewan

Commands listed for HMS Fortune (H 70)

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1Cdr. Edward Albert Gibbs, RN15 Jul 19392 Nov 1940
2Lt.Cdr. Erroll Norman Sinclair, RN2 Nov 1940mid 1941

3Lt.Cdr. Richard Dickon Herbert Stephen Pankhurst, RN7 Oct 194131 May 1943

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Notable events involving Fortune include:

20 Sep 1939
German U-boat U-27 was sunk in the North Atlanic west of Hebrides, in position 58°35'N, 09°02'W, by depth charges from the British destroyers HMS Fortune (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, RN) and HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN).

23 Nov 1939

Sinking of the armed merchant cruiser HMS Rawalpindi

Around midday on 21 November 1939 the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, escorted by the light cruisers Köln and Leipzig and the destroyers Z 11 / Bernd von Arnim, Z 12 / Erich Giese and Z 20 / Karl Galster, departed Wilhelmshaven for a raid into the North Atlantic, this was to relieve the pressure of the pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee operating in the South Atlantic. Late on the 21st the escorts left the battlecruisers.

Just after 1500 hours on 23 November the British armed merchant cruiser HMS Rawalpindi (Capt. E.C. Kennedy, (retired), RN) sighted the Scharnhorst. Rawalpindi was part of the British Northern Patrol and was stationed south-east of Iceland in the Iceland-Faroer gap. Captain Kennedy at first tried to outrun the German ship, to report to the Admiralty that he sighted the German pocket battleship Deutschland, still believed to be operating in the North Atlantic, and to buy time so that other ships of the Northern patrol could come to his assistance. Just after 1600 hours, Rawalpindi came within range of the Scharnhorst and was quickly reduced to a flaming wreck. During this engagement Scharnhorst was hit by a 6in shell from Rawalpindi causing only light damage. Scharnhorst and Gneisenau together picked up 27 survivors from Rawalpindi. Rawalpindi finally sank around 2000 hours.

The British light cruiser HMS Newcastle (Capt J. Figgins, RN), that was also part of the Northern Patrol, picked up Rawalpindi's signal and closed the scene. She sighted the Gneisenau but the Germans managed to escape in the fog.

The Admiralty also thought the ship sighted by Rawalpindi and Newcastle was the Deutschland that was trying to return to Germany. In response to the sighting and destruction of the Rawalpindi the Admiralty took immediate action;
The battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN with Admiral Forbes aboard) HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN) and the heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire (Capt. J.M. Mansfield, DSC, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. C.S. Daniel, RN), HMS Fame (Cdr. P.N. Walter, RN), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, RN), HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN), HMS Fortune (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, RN) and HMS Fury (Cdr. G.F. Burghard, RN) departed the Clyde to patrol of Norway to cut off the way to Germany for the Deutschland.

The light cruisers HMS Southampton (Capt. F.W.H. Jeans, CVO, RN), HMS Edinburgh (Capt. F.C. Bradley, RN) and HMS Aurora (Capt. G.B. Middleton, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Afridi (Capt. G.H. Creswell, DSC, RN), HMS Gurkha (Cdr. F.R. Parham, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, RN) and HMS Isis (Cdr. J.C. Clouston, RN) departed Rosyth to patrol between the Orkney and Shetland islands.

Light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. E. de F. Renouf, CVO, RN) was sent from Loch Ewe to the last known position of the German ship(s).

On northern patrol, south of the Faroes were the light cruisers HMS Caledon (Capt. C.P. Clark, RN), HMS Cardiff (Capt. P.K. Enright, RN) and HMS Colombo (Capt. R.J.R. Scott, RN). These were joined by HMS Dunedin (Capt. C.E. Lambe, CVO, RN) and HMS Diomede (Capt. E.B.C. Dicken, RN).

Of the ships of the Denmark strait patrol, the heavy cruisers HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) and HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.G.B. Wilson, MVO, DSO, RN) were ordered to proceed to the Bill Bailey Bank (to the south-west of the Faroes).

The light cruiser HMS Glasgow (Capt. F.H. Pegram, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Maori (Cdr. G.N. Brewer, RN) and HMS Zulu (Cdr. J.S. Crawford, RN) were already at sea patrolling north-east of the Shetlands were to be joined by the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, RN), HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, RN) and HMS Imogen (Cdr. E.B.K. Stevens, RN).

Despite the British effort to intercept the German ships, both German battlecruisers returned to Wilhelmshaven on the 27th.

28 Mar 1941
HrMs O 21 (Lt.Cdr. J.F. van Dulm, RNN) carries out exercises off Gibraltar with HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Kingston Chrysolite (Skr. G.T. Lilley, DSC, RNR) and HMS Haarlem (T/Lt. L.B. Merrick, RNR). (1)

21 Nov 1942
HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. R.D.H.S. Pankhurst, RN) picks up 62 survivors from the American merchant Pierce Butler that was torpedoed and sunk the previous day by German U-boat U-177 east of Durban, South-Africa in position 29°40'S, 36°35'E.

Media links

British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman

Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.


  1. File (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)

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