Allied Warships

HMS Zodiac (R 54)

Destroyer of the Z class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassZ 
PennantR 54 
Built byThornycroft (Southampton, U.K.) 
Ordered12 Feb 1942 
Laid down7 Nov 1942 
Launched11 Mar 1944 
Commissioned23 Oct 1944 
End service 
History

Was purchased by Israel in 1955 and served in the Israeli Navy as K-42 INS Yafo until 1969. In 1970 was used as a target ship and sunk after being hit by a Gabriel missile.  

Commands listed for HMS Zodiac (R 54)

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and that we only list Commanding Officers for the duration of the Second World War.

CommanderFromTo
1Lt.Cdr. Henry Richard Rycroft, DSC, RN28 Aug 194426 Oct 1945

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Notable events involving Zodiac include:


15 Nov 1944
During the morning, HMS Taciturn (Lt.Cdr. E.T. Stanley, DSO, DSC, RN), conducts A/S exercises with HMS Zodiac (Lt.Cdr. H.R. Rycroft, DSC, RN). During the afternoon A/S exercises were carried out with HMS Bute (T/A/Lt.Cdr. R.L. Root, RNVR). (1)

17 Nov 1944
During the morning HMS Taciturn (Lt.Cdr. E.T. Stanley, DSO, DSC, RN) conducts A/S exercises with HMS Zealous (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Zodiac (Lt.Cdr. H.R. Rycroft, DSC, RN). (1)

25 Nov 1944
HMS Vengeful (Lt. A.S. Melville-Ross, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises at/off Scapa Flow with HMS Zodiac (Lt.Cdr. H.R. Rycroft, DSC, RN). (2)

13 Dec 1944
HrMs Dolfijn (Lt.Cdr. J.B.M.J. Maas, RNN) conducted exercises off Dundee together with HMS Zodiac (Lt.Cdr. H.R. Rycroft, DSC, RN). (3)

10 Jan 1945

Operations Spellbinder and Gratis

Operation Spellbinder was carried out in two parts, part I was an anti-shipping raid in the Egersund area and part II was a minelay near Utsira Island.

Operation Gratis was the laying of an air laid minefield in Karm Sund.

Around 2200A/10, ' Force 1 ', made up of the heavy cruiser HMS Norfolk (Capt. J.G.Y. Loveband, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.R. McGrigor, CB, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Bellona (Capt. C.F.W. Norris, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Onslow (Capt. H.W.S. Browning, OBE, RN), HMS Onslaught (Cdr. the Hon. A. Pleydell-Bouverie, RN) and HMS Orwell (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Gower, DSC, RN) and ' Force 2 ', made up of the fast minelayer HMS Apollo (Capt. J.A. Grindle, CBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Zealous (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Carron (Lt.Cdr. J.V. Wilkinson, DSC, RN) departed Scapa Flow for operation Spellbinder.

They proceeded in company until 1100A/11 when they split up to the north of the Shetlands. ' Force 2 ' remained in that vicinity until 1508A/11 when course and speed were adjusted so as to arrive in the laying position at midnight. ' Force 1 ' set course for the Egersund area, aiming to arrive off the coast at about 2215A/11.

HMS Apollo, HMS Zealous and HMS Carron approached the Norwegian coast from the north-westward at 30 knots, in fine clear weather, making use of the beam of the enemy consol beacon situated in position 58°37'5"N, 05°37'8"E. Course was altered to 090° at 2336A/11 and Utsira light was seen shortly afterwards.

Starshell from ' Force 1 ', engaged 100 miles to the southward, was observed at 2343A/11. Five minutes later ' Force 2 ' reduced speed to 20 knots and HMS Zealous and HMS Carron proceeded ahead to make a smokescreen between the laying position and them mainland.

Between 2357A/11 and 0020A/12, HMS Apollo laid 156 mines in three lines as follows;
Line 1 of 52 mines - Between 59°15'00"N, 05°01'06"E and 59°15'00"N, 05°04'21"E.
Line 2 of 55 mines - Between 59°14'51"N, 05°06'06"E and 59°13'39"N, 05°00'00"E.
Line 3 of 49 mines - Between 59°13'15"N, 05°07'54"E and 59°12'51"N, 05°04'48"E.
The mines were laid at a depth of 30 feet and flooders were set to operate on 19 February 1945.

On completion of this unobserved lay ' Force 2 ' retired at high speed to the northward and then set course to return to Scapa Flow where they arrived around 1450A/12.

' Force 1 ' had picked up Utsira Island by radar at 1940A/11 and an hour later course was altered to close the convoy route south of Stavanger. The ships were positioned in line ahead.

At 2215A/11, ' Force 1 ' altered course to starboard to run down the coast, keeping 10 miles to seaward and parallel to the shipping route. At the same time they were picked up and held by enemy shore radar.

At 2312A/11, when opposite Egersund, radar contact was made with a convoy close inshore and apparently making for Egersund. Course was altered towards the target and fire was opened with starshell at 2341A/11. The appearance of a radar echo on the starboard bow, which was classified as a U-boat, somewhat complicated the movements of ' Force 1 '.

During the ensuing engagement the enemy shore batteries joined in, but although they registered several straddles and near misses they achieved no hits. Rear-Admiral McGrigor reported that out of eight ships which made up the convoy, including escorts, one, probably an escort, escaped into Egersund after being hit. Of the remaining seven, one large merchant vessel was sunk and another one was left blazing to the waterline. One small merchant vessel, or escort, was seen to turn turtle. One M-class minesweeper blew up after running itself ashore in flames. The other three ships were left on fire of which one was seen to blow up when ' Force 1 ' was retiring.

' Force 1 ' withdrew to the west at 0027A/12, altering to the northward when well clear of enemy radar. They made rendezvous with ' Force 3 ' at 0800A/12. At 0910A/12, a shadowing JU 88 was shot down by fighters from HMS Trumpeter. One of the fighters was damaged and had to ditch the pilot being recovered by HMS Zodiac. The Combat Air Patrol was kept busy during the forenoon investigating bogeys, but no enemy attack developed and at 1400A/12, ' Force 3 ' was detached for operation Gratis. ' Force 1 ' then headed for Scapa Flow, passing east of the Shetlands, and arrived at 2205A/12.

' Force 3 ', made up of the light cruiser HMS Dido (Capt. R.F. Elkins, OBE, RN), escort carriers Premier (A/Capt. R.J. Gardner, RN), HMS Trumpeter (Cdr. K.S. Colquhoun, RN) and the destroyers HMS Opportune (Cdr. R.E.D. Ryder, VC, RN), HMS Zest (Lt.Cdr. R.B.N. Hicks, DSO, RN), HMS Zodiac (Lt.Cdr. H.R. Rycroft, DSC, RN) and HMS Cavendish (Cdr. R.H. Maurice, DSO, RN), had departed Scapa Flow at 1130A/11, to rendezvous with ' Force 1 ', and, having been detached on the 12th, proceeded west-about round the Shetlands and through Fair Isle Channel for the flying off position in 59°15'N, 01°10'E.

Two MTB's from Lerwick had been detailed to rendezvous with ' Force 3 ', to act as Air Sea Rescue craft in the event of a ditching to the east the flying off position. They made rendezvous at 0915A/13, just short of the flying off position. In view of the good weather conditions, flying off commenced immediately and by 0930A/13, the strike, made up of six Avengers from 846 Squadron and eight Wildcats from HMS Trumpeter and six Avengers from 856 Squadron and eight Wildcats from HMS Premier, was airborne. Departure was taken at 0938A/13 and a good landfall was made on Utsira Island. At about 1130A/13 the 12 Avengers laid their mines in the channel between Salhus light and a position 500 yards to the northward. Only light flack was encountered and all aircraft returned safely to the carriers being landed on by 1150A/13. ' Force 3 ' then returned to Scapa Flow arriving there at 2100A/13.

The German convoy attacked by ' Force 1 ' was made up of the transports Bahia Camarones (8551 GRT, built 1918), Charlotte (4404 GRT, built 1908) and Wesermarsch (1923 GRT, built 1943). They were escorted by the minesweepers M-456, M-436, M-306, M-273 and M-253. The submarine U-427 was also with the convoy and she fired torpedoes at ' Force 1 ' but all mised. The Bahia Camarones, Charlotte and M-273 were sunk.

26 Jan 1945
During 26/27 January 1945, the heavy cruisers HMS Norfolk (Capt. J.G.Y. Loveband, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.R. McGrigor, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Devonshire (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN), HMS Berwick (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Zambesi (Lt.Cdr. W. Scott, DSC and Bar, RN, with the Capt.D2 on board, Capt. J.H. Allison, RN, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Zealous (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Zest (Lt.Cdr. R.B.N. Hicks, DSO, RN), HMS Zodiac (Lt.Cdr. H.R. Rycroft, DSC, RN), HMS Cavalier (Lt.Cdr. D.T. McBarnet, RN), HMS Cavendish (Cdr. R.H. Maurice, DSO, RN), HMS Javelin (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Marjoribanks, RN) and HMCS Algonquin (Lt.Cdr. D.W. Piers, DSC, RCN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. (4)

31 Mar 1945
With her refit completed the battleship HMS Anson (Capt. A.C.G. Madden, RN) departed Plymouth around 1100A/31 for Scapa Flow.

She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Zodiac (Lt.Cdr. H.R. Rycroft, DSC, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. E.M. Thorpe, DSO, RN), HMCS Huron (Lt.Cdr. H.V.W. Groos, RCN) and ORP Garland (Lt. K. Hess).

They arrived at Scapa Flow around 1500A/2. (5)

9 Apr 1945
HMS Scorcher (Lt. K.S. Renshaw, DSC, RNR) conducted A/S exercises off Scapa Flow with HMCS Huron (Lt.Cdr. H.V.W. Groos, RCN) and HMS Zodiac (Lt.Cdr. H.R. Rycroft, DSC, RN). (6)

6 May 1945

Operation Cleaver.

Entry of a naval surface force into the Skagerrak and Kattegat.

The following forces took part in this operation;
' Force 5 ' which was made up of the light cruisers HMS Birmingham (Capt. H.W. Williams, RN), HMS Dido (Capt. R.F. Elkins, OBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Zephyr (Capt. J.H. Allison, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Zealous (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Zest (Lt.Cdr. R.B.N. Hicks, DSO, RN) and HMS Zodiac (Lt.Cdr. H.R. Rycroft, DSC, RN).
This force departed Rosyth in the evening of the 6th.

' Force 6 ' which was made up of the heavy cruiser HMS Norfolk (Capt. J.G.Y. Loveband, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral R.R. McGrigor, CB, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Scourge (Lt.Cdr. C.G.H. Brown, DSC, RN, with Capt. P.G.L. Cazalet, DSC, RN on board), HMS Savage (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Malins, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. E.M. Thorpe, DSO, RN), HMS Opportune (Cdr. R.E.D. Ryder, VC, RN), HMS Zambesi (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Palmer, RN) and HMS Carysfort (Lt.Cdr. L.St.G. Rich, DSO and Bar, RN). This force departed Scapa flow early the 7th except to joined the escort carriers HMS Queen (A/Capt. K.J. D'Arcy, DSO, RN), HMS Searcher (Capt. J.W. Grant, DSO, RN), HMS Trumpeter (A/Capt. K.S. Colquhoun, RN) which had still been at sea after operation Judgement together with the escort carrier HMS Campania (Capt. C.B. Alers-Hankey, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Franks, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN), HNoMS Stord (Lt.Cdr. H. Øi) and ORP Piorun (Lt.Cdr. J. Tchorznicki, ORP). The cruisers and the destroyers joined the escort carriers around 1000B/7.

HMS Campania, HMS Obdurate, HNoMS Stord and ORP Piorun then parted company.

And the 40th Minesweeping Flotilla made up of HMS Catharine (Cdr. Kenneth Hillam Fraser, RN), 6541 HMS Cynthia (T/A/Lt.Cdr. C.L. Chatwin, RNVR), HMS Elfreda (T/A/Lt.Cdr. L. Jolly, RNVR), HMS Grecian (T/A/Cdr. C.R. Fraser, DSC and Bar, RNR) and HMS Gazelle (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Sutcliffe, RN), HMS Maenad (Cdr. C.E. Duggan, RD, RNR), HMS Steadfast (T/A/Lt. A.H. Hall, RNVR) and HMS Tattoo (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) F.G. Rogers, RD, RNR). They departed Rosyth of the 6th.

Force 5 and the 40th M/S Flotilla arrived at Copenhagen, Denmark on 9 May. The 40th M/S Flotilla swept Force 5 through the minefields.

Force 6 returned to Scapa Flow on 10 May. (7)

14 Jul 1945
The light cruiser HMS Birmingham (Capt. H.W. Williams, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.E.M.B. Cunninghame-Graham, CBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Serapis (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN), HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Franks, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN), HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Zealous (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Zephyr (Lt.Cdr. C.R. Purse, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Zodiac (Lt.Cdr. H.R. Rycroft, DSC, RN) departed Plymouth to make rendezvous with the US Heavy cruiser USS Augusta (T/Capt. J.H. Foskett, USN) and the light cruiser USS Philadelphia (T/Capt. R.L. Boller, USN). On board the USS Augusta was President Truman which was en-route to Antwerp, Belgium.

Rendezvous was made in the morning and the ships then proceeded in company westwards through the English Channel.

In the early evening the British ships parted company near the North Goodwin Buoy. Shortly aftewards the escort destroyers HMS Garth (Capt. W.G. Davis, DSC, RN), HMS Hambledon (Lt. C.G.deL. Bush, RN) and HMS Holderness (A/Lt.Cdr. P.F. Cole, DSC, RN) joined the US ships to escort them to Antwerp where they arrived in the morning of the 15th. (8)

Media links


British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

Sources

  1. ADM 173/18917
  2. ADM 173/19364
  3. File 2.12.03.5655 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  4. ADM 53/120993 + ADM 53/121215 + ADM 53/121928
  5. ADM 53/120834 + ADM 120835 + ADM 199/1440
  6. ADM 173/19572
  7. ADM 199/1440
  8. ADM 53/121007 + ADM 199/1440 + Log of USS Augusta

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


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