Allied Warships

HMS Hero (H 99)

Destroyer of the H class


HMS Hero before World War Two

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassH 
PennantH 99 
Built byVickers Armstrong (Newcastle-on-Tyne, U.K.): Parsons 
Ordered5 Sep 1934 
Laid down28 Feb 1935 
Launched10 Mar 1936 
Commissioned23 Oct 1936 
End service15 Nov 1943 
History

In April 1940 HMS Hero was covering four minelaying destroyers tasked to lay a barrage near Bodo, Norway. On the 24th, she was tasked in the screening of Admiral of the Fleet Lord Corks force against U-boats in Vestfjord and Ofotfjord Narvik. By July Hero was in the Mediterranean as a member of the 2nd DD Flotilla which was under the control of Admiral Cunningham, the flotilla was tasked to cover two convoys between Malta and Alexandria. On the 19th, in company with the Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney and the destroyers HMS Hasty, HMS Havock, HMS Hyperion and HMS Ilex, while proceeding from Tripoli to Leros, they intercepted the Italian light cruisers Giovanni Delle Bande Nere and the Bartolomeo Colleoni, which received many hits in the engagement, resulting in her becoming incapable of manoeuvring, and was sunk after being torpedoed by the destroyers. Sydney received a hit from the other Italian cruiser, and whilst turning away, the Italian managed to escape. The British destroyers rescued 525 crew members from the Colleoni including her Commanding Officer Captain Novaro, who later died from injuries sustained. In November, Hero acted as covering force to a convoy of five supply ships which were proceeding to Malta.

In January 1941 Hero was employed in convoy escort duties from Gibraltar to Malta. On the 27th, Hero in company with HMS Decoy landed troops on Castellorizo Island. The enemy however, had also effected landing, and continued heavy air attacks on the island and British forces. As a result the Commandos and the garrison were withdrawn from the island a few hours later. Not until 1943, were landing operations carried out in the Dodecanese, meanwhile they remained a serious and harmful menace to British operations in the Aegean. On April 28th Hero in company with the destroyers HMS Kandahar, HMS Kingston and HMS Kimberley were employed in the evacuation of troops from Greece. Arriving off Kalamata, they crept slowly into the harbour, and sent a party ashore to contact the British Senior Officer. Contact was finally made, and a signal was sent to the Australian cruiser HMAS Perth that the town was occupied by the Germans, but that it was possible to evacuate from the beaches using the ship`s whalers. Soon after the signal was made, an oil tank blew up ashore and a great sheet of flame shot into the air. Perth made the signal “retire on me operation abandoned”. The destroyers decided to remain and take off what soldiers they could before daylight. Early the next morning, mission completed, they sailed for Suda Bay with 324 soldiers that had been transported by the destroyers whalers, Hero returned that night to collect more soldiers. In May the destroyer was a member of the Covering Force for a Malta bound convoy setting out from Alexandria and comprising two tankers and four transport vessels. On the 23rd, while the destroyers HMS Kashmir, HMS Kelly and HMS Kipling shelled the airfield at Maleme HMS Hero and HMS Decoy took the Greek King and his party onboard. During the night of October 25-26 Hero was damaged by a near bomb miss from a JU87 whilst escorting HMS Latona who was transporting troops and supplies to Tobruk. Unfortunately HMS Latona was sunk by bombing. Hero picked up some survivors and while doing so was damaged by a near miss. Hero was under repair for a month.

In January 1942 Hero was tasked with the escorting of British supply convoys from Alexandria to Malta. In March as a result of a false report about the torpedoing of an Italian cruiser a British Force commanded by Rear Admiral Vian, set out from Alexandria. On the 9th, Hero in company with eight other destroyers, and the cruisers HMS Naiad, HMS Dido and HMS Euryalus went to meet the cruiser HMS Cleopatra which was arriving from Malta. On the 11th, Vians flagship HMS Naiad was sunk by the German submarine U-565 north of Sollum. Later during that month Hero was involved in convoy duties from Alexandria to Malta. On May 29th after a 15 hour pursuit by Hero, HMS Hurworth and HMS Eridge, the submarine U-568 was destroyed north-east off Tobruk. In June, as a member of the 22nd DD Flotilla, she was involved in convoy escort duties with the double convoy, code named operation "Harpoon” and operation "Vigorous". These were two separate convoys one from Gibraltar and the other from Alexandria. In November whilst operating in the Eastern Mediterranean, Hero and destroyers HMS Pakenham, HMS Petard, HMS Dulverton and HMS Hurworth supported by a Wellesley aircraft, forced the German submarine U-559 to the surface, and a specially trained boarding party from Petard managed to gain entry into the sinking boat, and recover the code books, and the new Wetterkurzschlussel, unfortunately two men from the boarding party went down with the boat while trying to recover the M-4 cipher machine. The codes arrived at Bletchley Park on the 24th of November.

In February 1943 Hero and six other destroyers provided anti-submarine cover through the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden to a convoy leaving Suez enroute to Sydney and Melbourne. The convoy consisted of the troop transports Queen Mary, Aquitania, Ile De France, New Amsterdam and the Queen Of Bermuda with 30,000 men of the 9th Australian Division. The convoy arrived in Sydney on February 27th without any incident. From March 6-8th the destroyer was docked in the Selborne dry dock at Simonstown, South Africa for the removal and reversal of her stern tube bushes, and an underwater hull clean.

On 15 November 1943 HMS Hero was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy being renamed HMCS Chaudiere. On 6 March 1944 she took part in the destruction of U-744. On June 6th HMCS Chaudiere was a member of the 11th Escort Group deployed against the U-boat threat to operation “Neptune” During July - August whilst she was operating in the English Channel. On August 18th Chaudiere in company with HMCS Ottawa and HMCS Kootenay destroyed the German submarine U-621. Two days later U-984 was sunk off Ushant by the same ships. In December 1944 the destroyer was detached from the Western Approaches command for operations in Canadian waters. In March 1945 Chaudiere received a refit in Canada. Chaudiere was decommissioned on 17 August 1945 and scrapped in March 1946.

 
Career notesBecame the Canadian destroyer Chaudiere

Commands listed for HMS Hero (H 99)

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CommanderFromTo
1Cdr. Cyril Francis Tower, RNJun 193910 Mar 1940
2Cdr. Hilary Worthington Biggs, RN10 Mar 194031 Mar 1942
3Lt. Walter Scott, RN31 Mar 1942mid 1943

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Notable events involving Hero include:


19 Jul 1940
Action off Cape Spada;

The Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney (Capt. J.A. Collins, RAN) and the British destroyers HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Havock (Cdr. R.E. Courage, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO, RN), HMS Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN) and HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC, RN) were on a sweep into the Aegean Sea. They were sent to intercept two reported Italian cruisers. In the action that followed, the Italian light cruiser Bartolomeo Colleoni is halted off Cape Spada, at the north west tip of Crete, by Sydney's gunfire. Later she was finished off with torpedoes from the destroyers. The Italian light cruiser Giovanni delle Bande Nere manages to escape.

17 Aug 1940
In the early morning the British battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. D.B. Fisher, CBE, RN), HMS Malaya (Capt. A.F.E. Palliser, DSC, RN), HMS Ramillies (Capt. H.T. Baillie-Grohman, OBE, DSO, RN) the British heavy cruiser HMS Kent (Capt. D. Young-Jamieson, RN) escorted by the British destroyers HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN), HMS Mohawk (Cdr. J.W.M. Eaton, RN), Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Hostile (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC, RN), HMS Diamond (Lt.Cdr. P.A. Cartwright, RN), HMS Juno (Cdr. W.E. Wilson, RN) and the Australian destroyers HMAS Stuart (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, RAN), HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RAN) and HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, RAN) carried out a bombardment of Italian positions around the fortress of Bardia.

17 Sep 1940
British raid on Benghazi;
Aircraft from the British aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (Capt. D.W. Boyd, DSC, RN) attacked Italian ships in Benghazi harbour. Also mines were laid off the harbour. The destroyer Borea was sunk by torpedo, The destroyer Aquilone was mined and sunk. The merchants Gloria Stella (5490 GRT) and Maria Eugenia (4702 GRT) were also sunk during the attack.

Illustrious was escorted by the British battleship HMS Valiant (Capt. H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN) the British heavy cruiser HMS Kent (Capt. D. Young-Jamieson, RN), the British light cruisers HMS Liverpool (Capt. P.A. Read, RN) HMS Gloucester (Capt. H.A. Rowley, RN), HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN) and the British destroyers HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN), HMS Mohawk (Cdr. J.W.M. Eaton, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN), HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO, RN) and the Australian destroyer HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RAN).

After the attack HMS Kent, escorted by HMS Nubian and HMS Mohawk, was detached to bombard Italian positions at Bardia early on the 18th. However before this could materialise HMS Kent was torpedoed and heavily damaged by Italian torpedo bombers just before midnight. Kent was hit in the stern and badly damaged. Kent was towed to Alexandria by HMS Nubian, escorted by light cruiser HMS Orion, AA cruiser HMS Calcutta (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN) and destroyers HMS Mohawk, HMS Jervis, HMS Juno (Cdr. W.E. Wilson, RN), HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN) and the Australian destroyer HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, RAN).

8 Oct 1940
Operation MB-6;

A British convoy with the merchants
Memnon (7506 GRT),
Lanarkshire (11275 GRT),
Clan Macauley (10492 GRT) and
Clan Ferguson (7347 GRT)
left Alexandria for Malta on 8 October 1940. This convoy was escorted by the British Anti-Aircraft cruisers
HMS Calcutta (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN),
HMS Coventry (Capt. D. Gilmour, RN)
and the Australian destroyers
HMS Stuart (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, DSO, RAN),
HMS Voyager (Cdr. J.C. Morrow, DSO, RAN),
HMS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RAN)
and the British destroyer
HMS Wryneck (Cdr. R.H.D. Lane, RN).

Cover was provided by the Mediterranean Fleet (Admiral Cunningham) with the British battleships
HMS Warspite (Capt. D.B. Fisher, CBE, RN),
HMS Valiant (Capt. H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN),
HMS Malaya (Capt. A.F.E. Palliser, DSC, RN),
HMS Ramillies (Capt. H.T. Baillie-Grohman, OBE, DSO, RN),
the British aircraft carriers
HMS Illustrious (Capt. D.W. Boyd, DSC, RN),
HMS Eagle (Capt. A.R.M. Bridge, RN),
the British heavy cruiser
HMS York (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN),
the British light cruisers
HMS Gloucester (Capt. H.A. Rowley, RN),
HMS Liverpool (Capt. P.A. Read, RN),
HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D. McCarthy, RN),
HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN),
the Australian light cruiser
HMAS Sydney (Capt. J.A. Collins, CB, RAN)
escorted by the British destroyers
HMS Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO and Bar, RN),
HMS Havock (Cdr. R.E. Courage, DSO, DSC, RN),
HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO, RN),
HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN),
HMS Hasty, (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN),
HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC, RN),
HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.deW. Kitcat, RN),
HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO, RN),
HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN),
HMS Juno (Cdr. W.E. Wilson, RN),
HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN),
HMS Dainty (Cdr. M.S. Thomas, DSO, RN),
HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN),
HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN)
and the Australian destroyers
HMAS Vampire (Cdr. J.A. Walsh, RAN) and
HMAS Vendetta (Cdr. R. Rhoades RAN).

The convoy was not spotted and arrived safe at Malta on 11 October. The only damage sustained was to the destroyer HMS Imperial that was mined off Malta and was out of action for over 6 months.

While on the return trip the Mediterranean Fleet was sighted by an Italian aircraft. The Italian Navy tried to intercept them in the Ionian Sea. In the night of 11/12 October the first Italian torpedo boat flotilla with Airone, Alcione and Ariel attacked HMS Ajax. The attack failed and Ajax sank Airone and Ariel, Alcione escaped. A little while later the Italian 11th destroyer flotilla, with Artigliere, Aviere, Camicia Nera and Geniere arrived at the scene. They were surprised by the radar-directed gunfire from HMS Ajax. Artigliere was heavily damaged and Aviere was slightly damaged. Camicia Nere tried to tow Artigliere away but she was sighted by a British Sunderland aircraft that homed in 3 Swordfish aircraft from HMS Illustrious. However, the torpedoed they fired didn't hit the Italian ships. Later the British heavy cruiser HMS York arrived at the scene. Camicia Nera quickly slipped the towing line and sped off. After her crew had left the ship Artiglire was sunk by York.

While the Mediterranean Fleet was still on the return trip aircraft from HMS Illustrious and HMS Eagle attacked Leros and in the evening of the 14th the British light cruiser HMS Liverpool while south-east of Crete was hit in the bow by a torpedo from an Italian aircraft. The cruiser was heavily damaged and was repaired at the Mare Island Navy Yard in the USA. HMS Liverpool was not operational again until January 1942.

21 Apr 1941
Submarine HMS Truant (Lt.Cdr. H.A.V. Haggard, RN) acts as beacon for the Mediterranean Fleet during a bombardment of Tripoli. The bombardment was carried out by the battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. D.B. Fisher, CBE, RN), HMS Barham (Capt. G.C. Cooke, RN), and HMS Valiant (Capt. C.E. Morgan, RN), light cruiser HMS Gloucester (Capt. H.A. Rowley, RN), and destroyers HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Havock (Lt. G.R.G. Watkins, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt. W.J. Munn, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN), HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN), HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO, RN), and HMS Juno (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN). The Italian torpedo boat Partenope and six freighters were damaged in the bombardment. According to Italian sources the steamers Assiria (2705 GRT, built 1928) and Marocchino (1524 GRT, built 1920) sank in shallow waters, the motorboat Ciconetti sank in deep waters and the steamer Sabbia (5787 GRT, built 1926) was damaged.

Later on this day Truant attacks what is believed to be the small Italian tanker Prometeo (1080 GRT, built 1920) with 2 torpedoes off Tripoli, Libya. Both torpedoes missed their target. Italian sources cannot confirm the identity of the ship attacked.

(All times are zone -2)
In position 033° Tajura 3.5 nautical miles sighted the Italian Auxiliary Prometeo to the Southward. Closed to attack.

1410 hours - In only 50 feet of water fired 2 torpedoes from 2000 yards. The torpedoes were sighted by the enemy which altered course to avoid.

1430 hours - Surfaced and proceeded to deeper water on the main engines.

1520 hours - Dived. (1)

29 May 1942
German U-boat U-568 was sunk in the Mediterranean north-east of Tobruk, in position 32°42'N, 24°53'E, by depth charges from the British destroyer HMS Hero (Lt. W. Scott, RN) and the British escort destroyers HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, DSC, RN) and HMS Hurworth (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, RN).

17 Aug 1942
The Canadian troop transport Princess Marguerite is torpedoed and sunk northwest of Port Said in position 32°03'N, 32°47'E by German U-boat U-83. The British destroyers HMS Hero (Lt. W. Scott, RN) and HMS Kelvin (Cdr. M.S. Townsend, OBE, DSC, RN) together pick up 1074 survivors.

30 Oct 1942
German U-boat U-559 was sunk in the Mediterranean north-east of Port Said, in position 32°30'N, 33°00'E, by depth charges from the British destroyers HMS Pakenham (Capt. E.B.K. Stevens, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, DSC, RN), HMS Hero (Lt. W. Scott, DSC, RN) and the British escort destroyers HMS Dulverton (Lt.Cdr. W.N. Petch, DSO, OBE, RN), HMS Hurworth (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, DSO, DSC, RN), after being located by a British Vickers Wellesley aircraft (47 Sqn RAF/F).

1 Feb 1943

'Pamphlet' convoy, Suez - Sydney, 1 February to 27 February 1943.

This convoy, made up of the British liners (troopships) Queen Mary (81235 GRT, built 1936), Aquitania (45647 GRT, built 1914), Ile de France (43548 GRT, built 1927, former French), the Dutch liner (troopship) Nieuw Amsterdam (36287 GRT, built 1938) and the British auxiliary cruiser Queen of Bermuda (A/Capt. (retired) the Hon. Sir A.D. Cochrane, DSO, RN) (22575 GRT, built 1933) were transporting 30000 men of the Australian 9th Division from Suez to Melbourne and Sydney.

This convoy had departed Suez on 1 February 1943 and were escorted during their passage through the Red Sea by the British destroyers HMS Pakenham (Capt. E.B.K. Stevens, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN), HMS Isis (Cdr. B. Jones, DSC, RN), HMS Hero (Lt.Cdr. W. Scott, DSC and Bar, RN), Derwent (Cdr. R.H. Wright, DSC, RN) and the Greek destroyer Vasilissa Olga (Lt.Cdr. G. Blessas, DSO, RHN).

The convoy was joined on the 4th by the British heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire (Capt. D. Young-Jamieson, RN).

Later the British light cruiser HMS Gambia (Capt. M.J. Mansergh, CBE, RN) joined near Addu Atoll.

Around 0840 hours on 16 February 1943 the Dutch light cruiser HrMs Tromp (Capt. J.B. de Meester, RNN) and the Dutch destroyer HrMs Van Galen (Lt.Cdr. F.T. Burghard, RNN) joined the convoy near postion 26°06'S, 101°09'E.

Around 2120 hours on 16 February 1943 the Dutch light cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Capt. E.J. van Holthe, RNN) joined the convoy in approximate position 27°41'S, 104°35'E.

Around 2130 hours on 17 February 1943 the Dutch destroyer HrMs Tjerk Hiddes (Lt.Cdr. W.J. Kruys, RNN) joined the convoy in approximate position 30°30'S, 112°52'E.

In the afternoon of the 18th the convoy arrived off Fremantle.

In the evening of the 20th the convoy departed Fremantle now escorted by the Australian light cruiser HMAS Adelaide (A/Capt. J.C.D. Esdaile, OBE, RAN), the Dutch light cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Capt. E.J. van Holthe, RNN) and the Dutch destroyers HrMs Van Galen (Lt.Cdr. F.T. Burghard, RNN) and HrMs Tjerk Hiddes (Lt.Cdr. W.J. Kruys, RNN). Tromp and Van Galen only remained with the convoy for a short period.

Around 1615 hours on the 24th the convoy was joined by the Australia (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, MVO, DSO, RAN) heavy cruiser HMAS Australia and the US destroyers USS Henley (Lt.Cdr. E.K. van Swearingen, USN) and USS Bagley (Lt.Cdr. T.E. Chambers, USN). The New Amsterdam escorted by HMAS Adelaide, HrMs Heemskerk and HrMs Tjerk Hiddes then departed the convoy and proceeded to Melbourne where they arrived arrived noon on the 25th. The other ships continued to Sydney.

In the afternoon of the 26th the Dutch light cruiser HrMs Heemskerck rejoined the convoy. Later in the afternoon the Free French destroyer Le Triomphant (Capt. P. Ortoli) also joined.

The convoy arrived at Sydney on the 27th.

Media links


British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

Sources

  1. ADM 199/1861

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


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