Allied Warships

HMS Legion (G 74)

Destroyer of the L class

HMS Legion as completed

NavyThe Royal Navy
PennantG 74 
Built byHawthorn Leslie & Co. (Hebburn-on-Tyne, U.K.) 
Ordered31 Mar 1938 
Laid down1 Nov 1938 
Launched26 Dec 1939 
Commissioned19 Dec 1940 
Lost26 Mar 1942 

Damaged by aircraft bombs at Malta on 24 March 1942 and beached. Sunk by aircraft bombs in Grand Harbour on the 26th. Legion broke in two and both halves were eventually re-floated for scuttling in deeper water since they created a hazard to navigation where they lay.


Commands listed for HMS Legion (G 74)

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1Cdr. Richard Frederick Jessel, RN25 Nov 194026 Mar 1942

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Notable events involving Legion include:

12 Feb 1941
The Polish destroyers Piorun, Garland and the British destroyer HMS Legion conduct an offensive patrol against enemy submarines. However, no U-boat was encountered. (1)

4 Mar 1941
Participated in Operation Claymore, a Commando raid on the Lofoten islands, with sister ships Somali, Eskimo, Tartar, Bedouin and Legion. 500 men of #3 and #4 Commandos were carried in the assault ships Queen Emma and Princess Beatrix. The attack primary objective was the destruction of the Norwegian fish oil processing plants, the destruction of which would have struck a severe blow to the German production of glycerine (used in aircraft engines).
The raid was eminently successful, accounting for the sinking of auxiliary patrol boat Krebs, from which Enigma information were recovered, and 7 freighters; in addition, 11 oil factories were blown up, 225 Germans and 60 "Quislings" taken prisoners and 314 Norwegian volunteers removed to the UK.

13 Apr 1941
The British armed merchant cruiser HMS Rajputana (Capt. F.H. Taylor, DSC, RN), is torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-108 west of Reykjavik, Iceland in position 64°50'N, 27°25'W. HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN) picks up 283 survivors.

14 Apr 1941
HMS Rodney, HMS Legion, Piorun and Garland composed the escort of two troop ships heading from Iceland to the Clyde. (1)

30 Sep 1941
Around 1030hours on 30 September 1941 the Italian submarine Adua (offsite link) was sunk north-west of Algiers in position 37°10'N, 00°56'E by the British destroyers HMS Gurkha (Cdr. C.N. Lentaigne, RN) and HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN).

13 Nov 1941
On this day the British aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal was torpedoed by U-81 off Gibraltar and sank. HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN) stopped alongside the Ark Royal to pick up sailors, a very famous photo shows this moment.

13 Dec 1941
The Italian light cruisers Alberico da Barbiano and Alberto di Giussano were torpedoed and sunk off Cape Bon by the Royal Navy destroyers HMS Sikh (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, DSC, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr R.E. Courage, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN) and the Dutch destroyer HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. J. Houtsmuller, RNethN) on a supply mission to Tripoli.

10 Jan 1942
British destroyer HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, DSC, RN) and the Dutch destroyer HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. W. Harmsen) attack German U-boat U-374 with depth charges. The submarine manages to escape but is damaged and unable to submerge again.

U-374 is sunk two days later by the British submarine HMS Unbeaten (Lt.Cdr. E.A. Woodward, DSO, RN).

19 Mar 1942
Second Battle of the Syrte, occasioned by the passage of convoy MW.10 from Alexandria to Malta. Claimed to have engaged the Italian battleship Littorio at 4400 yards' range (more likely she was in action with a heavy cruiser) but on approaching Malta was severely damaged in an air attack and forced to run up the beach at Marsaxlokk. After emergency repairs to make the hull watertight she entered Grand Harbour.

Media links

British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman

Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.


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