FR Chevalier Paul
Large destroyer of the Vauquelin class
|The French Navy
|F.&Ch de la Mediterranee (La Seyne, France)
|28 Feb 1931
|21 Mar 1932
|20 Jul 1934
|16 Jun 1941
|35° 20'N, 35° 20'E
Sunk off Syria in position 35º20'N, 35º20'E by British torpedo bombers.
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Notable events involving Chevalier Paul include:
5 May 1940
Around 1800A/5 the French armed merchant cruisers El D’Jezair, El Kantara, El Mansour, the French troopships Djenne, President Doumer, the British troopships Duchess of Atholl and Reina del Pacifico departed Scapa Flow for the Clyde. They made the passage together with the damaged British heavy cruiser HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN). They were escorted by the British destroyers HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN), HMS Grenade (Cdr. R.C. Boyle, RN) and HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, RN), HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN), the French large destroyers Chevalier Paul (Cdr. M. L. Bonnot), Tartu (Capt. J.M. Chomel) and Milan (Cdr. L.M.E. Plumejeaud).
They arrived in the Clyde the next day.
6 Jun 1941
The Syrian campaign.
6 June 1941.
At 1415C/6, the destroyer HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO, RN) had departed Port Said for Haifa. On board were 2 officers and a small beach party. HMS Hero arrived at Haifa around 2130C/6. Cdr. Biggs and the two officers then met the Naval Officer in Charge Haifa to arrange a reconnaisance of the landing beaches. The NOIC Haifa then put the patrol vessel Cadwell (a 50 foot fast motor boat) at their disposal.
At 2355C/6, the Cadwell departed Haifa with the two officers and the small beach party. Twenty minutes later HMS Hero followed to give support for the reconnaisance.
7 June 1941.
During the night, the Cadwell conducted reconnaisance to the north of mouth of the Litani river. HMS Hero patrolled 7 miles from the shore in case Cadwell needed assistance. The reconnaisance party encountered a heavy surf. Cadwell and HMS Hero retired from the area at first light and returned to Haifa around 0600C/7 after which the results of the reconnaisance were discussed. Conclusion was that it would be impracticable to land under the current weather conditions. It was expected that this would be the case for at least two days.
Around 1145C/7, 'Force B', the cover force, made up of the light cruisers HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN), HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) and HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN) departed Alexandria so to be off the Syrian coast at dawn the following day for their role supporting the Army during Operation Exporter, the Allied attack on the Vichy-French colony of Syria.
Around 1200C/7, ' Force C ', the landing force, departed Port Said for Syria. Force C was made up of the transport HMS Glengyle (A/Capt.(Retd.) C.H. Petrie, RN), AA cruiser HMS Coventry (A/Capt. W.P. Carne, RN) and the destroyers HMS Ilex (Capt. H.St.L. Nicholson, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Isis (Cdr. C.S.B. Swinley, DSC, RN) and HMS Hotspur (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, DSC, RN). On board HMS Glengyle were troops (27 officers and 456 men).
Around 1500C/7, HMS Hero departed Haifa to join Force C which she did around 1850C/7 in position 32°21'N, 34°01'E.
8 June 1941.
At 0038C/8, HMS Glengyle arrived in position 270° - mouth of the Litani river - 4 miles. She had lowered her boats by 0100C/8. It was then that the Cadwell approached and it was stated that landing the troops would be impossible due to the surf. The attempt was then abandoned at 0115C/8. ' Force C ' then set course to return to Port Said.
At 0600C/8, HMS Coventry, HMS Isis and HMS Hotspur from Force C joined Force B.
At 0645C/8, Force B closed the coast to the southward of Tyrus and HMS Hotspur was detached to try to make contact with the Naval Liaison Officer with the Army ashore. It proved very difficult to determine the progress of the army. A land mine was seen to explode three miles north of the border at 0700C/8. It apparently had destroyed a considerable stretch of the road and as a result the Allied motor transport was being held up.
At 1230C/8, HMS Kimberley was also sent inshore but no definite news could be obtained until 1530C/8 when it seemed fairly certain that the Allied troops had taken Tyrus. Owing to the uncertainty of the situation, no supporting fire was given or asker for until 2200C/8 when HMS Kimberley was able to bombard some French positions near Khan bridge for half an hour, after which Force B retired to seaward for the night. HMS Isis and HMS Hotspur were detached with orders to join HMS Glengyle, HMS Ilex and HMS Hero for another attempt at landing the troops.
At 1430C/8, HMS Glengyle, HMS Ilex and HMS Hero arrived back at Port Said.
At 1615C/8, HMS Glengyle, HMS Ilex and HMS Hero departed Port Said for a further attempt of landing the troops.
9 June 1941.
At 0100C/9, when near Haifa, HMS Glengyle, HMS Ilex and HMS Hero were joined by HMS Isis and HMS Hotspur. HMS Glengyle was now able to land the special service troops around 0430C/9 after which she returned immediately to Haifa arriving there around 0615C/9 escorted by HMS Isis and HMS Hotspur. Her landing craft later proceeded to Haida under their own power where they had all arrived around 1145C/9 escorted by HMS Ilex and HMS Hero. During the landings around 0530C/9, French shore batteries had opened fire after which HMS Ilex and HMS Hero closed their position and carried out a bombardment which was ceased after five minutes as the positions of the special service troops were not known.
Around 0310C/7, HMS Phoebe was attacked but missed ahead by the Vichy-French submarine Caiman. HMS Kandahar and HMS Kimberley were detached to hunt the attacker but they failed to obtain contact. Shortly afterwards, around 0400C/7, Force B commenced to close the coast again to give support for the landings by Force C. As the presence of Vichy Submarines was now proven no destroyers could be spared for inshore support as they were required to screen the cruisers. At 0845C/9, Force B retired to the westward.
At 1005C/9, a report was received from the Naval Liaison Officer with the Army that two Vichy-French destroyers were shelling the Allied positions near Khan Bridge. These were the Guepard and Valmy. HMS Coventry was detached to Haifa while the remainder of Force B closed the coast at full speed but noting was seen of the French ships which had meanwhile retired to the north. Their raid had lasted half an hour and was well timed from their point of view.
At 1045C/9, HMS Isis and HMS Hotspur which had just returned after having oiled at Haifa, which they had left at 0930C/9, were sent inshore to give fire support to the Army. However the situation on land was too confused to permit immediate supporting fire.
At 1225C/9, HMS Phoebe, HMS Ajax, HMS Kandahar and HMS Kimberley left the area to proceed to Haifa so that more destroyers would be available for close (inshore) support. HMS Janus and HMS Jackal therefore joined HMS Isis and HMS Hotspur. This was considered a strong enough force to deal with the two French destroyers in case they would come out again.
At 1240C/9, HMS Janus was ordered by the Commanding Officer of HMS Isis (Senior Officer) to take HMS Jackal and HMS Hotspur under his command and conduct an A/S sweep until 1600C/9. HMS Isis would meanwhile patrol inshore.
At 1240C/9, HMS Glengyle, HMS Ilex and HMS Hero departed Haifa for Alexandria where they arrived around 2350C/9.
At 1335C/9, while in position 33°30'N, 35°12'E, HMS Janus sighted two destroyers on the horizon, bearing 040°. They were steering to the south-west. Immediately an enemy report was made, speed was increased and course was altered towards. HMS Janus ordered HMS Jackal and HMS Hotspur to form single line ahead on the most advance ship and proceed at 30 knots. It was consided important to advance as fast as possible and not to wait until the line was properly formed up.
At 1339C/9, the two French destroyers (Guepard and Valmy) opened fire from a range of about 17000 yards.
At 1340C/9, HMS Phoebe received the contact report from HMS Janus which reported she was in contact with the two French destroyers, HMS Phoebe, HMS Ajax, HMS Kandahar and HMS Kimberley immediately turned back at full speed.
At 1342C/9, HMS Janus opened fire on the leading French destroyer from 15000 yards. At that time HMS Jackal was about 8 cables on the starboard quarter. HMS Hotspur had been unable to keep up and was at least a mile astern.
At 1347C/9, when the range was about 10000 yards HMS Janus was hit on the bridge, in the foremost boiler room and aft. The hit on the bridge killed or wounded all the bridge personnel except the Commanding Officer, and cut all fire-control leads. The hit in No.1 boiler room stopped the ship and cut off all electric high power. The hit aft did not affect the fighting efficiency of the ship. While stopped the ship was hit twice, again in No.1 boiler room, and an unexploded shell ended up in the seamen's bathroom.
Fire was continued in local conttrol and quarters firing by all gins, until A and B guns would no longer bear. X gun continued in action as long as the enemy were in range, and whenever they were in sight.
HMS Janus finally stopped, with the enemy fine on the port quarter, and the wind on the starboard beam. Smoke floats were lit and launched over the stern and, as the ship drifter to leeward proved effective. HMS Jackal passed between HMS Janus and the enemy making smoke.
HMS Jackal and HMS Hotspur continued to engage the enemy and as a result the French did not close the range to finish off the damaged HMS Janus. At 1406C/7, HMS Jackal fired three torpedoes towards the French destroyers.
Meanwhile HMS Isis also come north at full speed ans as soon as she opened fire the French made smoke and withdrew around 1412C/7, chased by the three British destroyer, HMS Jackal in the lead. Afterwards the French destroyers briefly turned and engaged the British several times. Last action between HMS Jackal and the two French destroyers was at 1445C/9 after which the three British destroyers turned to the south while the French retired to Beirut. HMS Jackal sustained some minor damage from a shell hit during the action.
At 1450C/9, HMS Phoebe, HMS Ajax, HMS Kandahar and HMS Kimberley passed the disabled HMS Janus. HMS Ajax, HMS Kandahar and HMS Kimberley were ordered to stand by the stricken destroyer while HMS Phoebe proceeded on to join and give support to HMS Isis, HMS Hotspur and HMS Jackal. 10 Minutes later HMS Phoebe saw the three destroyers returning southwards after their action with the French destroyers which now had retired back into the port of Beirut.
Shortly afterwards, while HMS Kimberley was taking HMS Janus in tow the force was bombed by Vichy aircraft but no damage was sustained.
By 1545C/9, HMS Kimberley had HMS Janus in tow at a speed of 10 knots towards Haifa escorted by the remainder of the force minus HMS Ajax which had been ordered to proceed ahead to Haifa independently. She arrived at Haifa around 1730C/9.
At 1600C/9, a British and French fighter aircraft collided with each other. Both pilots survived and were picked up by HMS Kandahar.
At 1820C/9, when the tow was off Ras Nakura (Naqoura), HMS Phoebe, HMS Isis and HMS Hotspur parted company and returned to the coast. They were later joined by HMS Jackal.
Between 2036C/9 and 2051C/9, HMS Phoebe, on requist of the Naval Liaison Officer with the Army, bombarded enemy positions on the northern side of Khan Bridge, after which HMS Phoebe, HMS Isis, HMS Hotspur and HMS Jackal retired to seaward for the night.
PM on this day,
HMAS Stuart (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, DSO, RAN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine RN), HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN) and Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) departed Alexandria for the operations area of the Syrian Coast.
10 June 1941.
At 0400C/10, HMS Ilex and HMS Hero departed Port Said to return to the operations area of the Syrian Coast. They were to join HMAS Stuart, HMS Jaguar, HMS Griffin and Defender coming from Alexandria also for the operations area of the Syrian Coast.
At dawn on the 10th, HMS Phoebe, HMS Isis, HMS Hotspur and HMS Jackal were to the west of Beirut to cut off the French destroyers in case they had come out for another sweep but when a French reconnaissance aircraft was seen at 0702C/10 it became apparent that this would not materialise.
Around dawn HMS Kandahar and HMS Kimberley had left Haifa to give close inshore support to the Army. They did good work and destroyed French tucks, tanks and ammunition depots north of Khan Bridge.
Around 1130C/10, HMS Ajax departed Haifa. She was joined shortly afterwards by HMAS Stuart, HMS Hero, HMS Griffin and HMS Defender.
Around 1315C/10, HMS Phoebe then left the area for Haifa escorted by HMS Ilex, HMS Hotspur and HMS Jackal. HMS Isis and HMS Jaguar were ordered inshore to reinforce HMS Kandahar and HMS Kimberley.
Around 1620C/10, HMS Phoebe, HMS Ilex, HMS Hotspur and HMS Jackal arrived at Haifa.
At 1640C/10, the four 'inshore' destroyers were attacked by 5 Potez bombers but no damage was done.
11 June 1941.
At 0625C/11, HMS Coventry, HMS Ilex and HMS Jackal left Haifa to relieve HMAS Stuart, HMS Kandahar and HMS Isis which subsequently arrived at Haifa around 1000C/11. HMS Ilex took over from HMS Isis as leading destroyer of the inshore squadron. During the day the 'Inshore Squadron' bombarded visible targets north of a line indicated by the Army.
12 June 1941.
An air raid on Haifa, during which minedropping was suspected, delayed HMS Phoebe, HMAS Stuart, HMS Kandahar, HMS Isis and HMS Hotspur from sailing until 0830C/12. Around 1215C/12, they relieved HMS Ajax, HMS Griffin, HMS Defender, HMS Jaguar and HMS Kimberley which then set course to Haifa where they arrived around 1500C/12.
During the day HMS Ilex, HMS Kandahar, HMS Isis and HMS Jackal formed the 'Inshore Squadron' which carried out further shore bombardments which assisted the Army advance to a position on the Zahrani River. Close support to the 'Inshore Squadron' was provided by HMS Phoebe, HMS Coventry screened by HMAS Stuart, HMS Hero and HMS Hotspur.
By 1630C/12, the Army had advanced to within two miles of Sidon where stiff resistance was met and the advance halted. At 1950C/12, a request was received to bombard Sidon but this was declined as Rear-Admiral King had no authority to open fire on non-military targets.
At dusk, HMS Jackal picked up an agent with his boat at Tyre and landed him close to Beirut. HMS Ilex, HMS Kandahar and HMS Isis gave close support for this operation. The remainder of the force gave cover to the northward.
13 June 1941.
The coast was closed at dawn and the 'Inshore Squadron' began their bombardment around 0800C/13. Main target was the wooden areas south of Sidon where the Vichy-French had strong defensive positions.
HMS Griffin, HMS Kimberley and HMS Defender joined from Haifa at 1040C/13 and relieved HMS Ilex, HMS Hero and HMS Jackal which then returned to Haifa with HMS Coventry. They arrived at Haifa around 1500C/13.
Around 1200C/13, the light cruiser HMS Leander (New Zealand Division, Capt. R.H. Bevan, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO, RN) and HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) joined coming from Alexandria which they had departed around 1800C/12.
On these ships joining, HMS Isis and HMS Kimberley were sent inshore with HMS Phoebe, HMS Leander, HMS Jervis, HMS Griffin, HMS Hasty and HMS Defender providing cover.
Around 1245C/13, HMS Ajax and HMS Jaguar departed Haifa for Alexandria. They were joined at sea by HMAS Stuart, HMS Kandahar and HMS Hotspur. They arrived at Alexandria around 0700C/14.
Warnings were received that German air attack might be expected and French bombers were noticeably more in evidence in attacking onshore. On receipt therefore of information from the NOIC Haifa that for the future it would not be possible to do more than maintain fighters at call for the protection of ships off the coast, Rear-Admiral King reported that it was most desirable that extra fighters should be made available, since fighters at call could not arrive in time to prevent attack.
At 1530C/13, eight JU 88's attacked the force without causing damage. Allied fighters were on their way out for a routine patrol, shot down three and damaged two after the attack.
After dark, as the Army was still held up and did not want fire support during the night, the force withdrew and patrolled north of Beirut.
14 June 1941.
Bombardment was continued at dawn by HMS Isis and HMS Kimberley which were relieved inshore at 0640C/14 by HMS Jervis and HMS Griffin.
At 0719C/14, a message was sent for fighters to deal with a formation of aircraft closing from the westward. No attack took place and it is possible that the aircraft were French reinforcements flying to Syria. The fighters took 36 minutes to arrive. The NOIC Haifa reported that they had left the ground 16 minutes after receipt of the message at the W/T station but he hoped to speed up communications. Later it was noticed that the time needed had been halved.
At 1020C/14, HMS Coventry and HMS Hero joined coming from Haifa and half an hour later HMS Phoebe and HMS Isis left for Haifa where they arrived around 1345C/14. HMS Ilex and HMS Jackal were delayed in their departure from Haida due to the later arrival of ammunition. They eventually relieved HMS Jervis and HMS Hasty around 1600C/14 which then proceeded to Haifa.
At 1620C/14, HMS Griffin sighted the French destroyers Guepard and Valmy which had again come out of Beirut harbour.
The possibility that the French intended to mine the coast north of Saida threatened to hamper the work of the destroyers inshore.
15 June 1941.
Around 0800C/15, HMS Phoebe, HMS Jervis, HMS Isis and HMS Hasty departed Haifa and joined HMS Leander and her escorting destroyers around 1100C/15. It was decided to keep the whole force together, except for the 'Inshore Squadron' as a Cassard-class destroyers was reported to be to the north of Cyprus proceeding towards Syria. [This was the Vichy French destroyer Chevalier Paul.]
The 'Inshore Squadron' for this day was made up of HMS Jervis, HMS Hasty and HMS Defender.
During the day Sidon surrendered as reported by the Naval Liaison Officer with the Army in his report received at 1730C/15. He also reported that gunfire from the destroyers had destroyed 12 75mm guns as well as several tanks.
At 1703C/15, eight JU 88's attacked and a near miss caused severe damage HMS Isis to the machinery spaces and boiler rooms off the ship. Three fighters were in the area and drove off half the bombers before they completed their attack, bringing down one. HMS Coventry and HMS Defender were ordered to escort HMS Isis to Haifa.
At 1908C/15, another air attack was made by a number of Vichy French aircraft. Their number was estimated between 14 and 18. At 1915C/15, HMS Ilex was badly damaged by a near miss and had to be towed back to Haifa by HMS Hasty. No fighters were present during this attack. [The report by HMS Ilex on this attack however stated that the bombs that caused the damage were dropped by a JU 88 aircraft so if that is correct the attacker must have been German.] The boiler rooms were damaged but the ship managed to get underway again by 1935C/15 but she came to a stop at 1950C/15 due to the fuel oil being contaminated with water.
After having escorted HMS Isis to Haifa, HMS Coventry was ordered to Port Said to make good engine defects and HMS Defender was ordered to escort the transport Rodi (British (former Italian), 3220 GRT, built 1928) on the first part of her voyage from Famagusta to Port Said.
The remainder of Force B patrolled to the north of Beirut during the night with the object of intercepting the Cassard-class destroyer and engaging the two other French destroyers if they came out of Beirut.
16 June 1941.
At 0415C/16, HMS Kimberley sighted the Guepard and Valmy close inshore off Beirut. In the brief engagement which followed, before the enemy made smoke and retired under the protection of the shore batteries, HMS Kimberley and HMS Jervis both claimed to have seen hits on the second destroyer.
Around 0500C/16, the damaged HMS Ilex arrived at Haifa still in tow of HMS Hasty.
At 0800C/16, after a report from 815 Squadron (FAA) that they had hit the Cassard-class destroyer, north of Rouad Island Rear-Admiral King turned his force to the northward to close the position but on further consideration decided that he was not justified in risking the ships against air attack north of Beirut for a destroyer which there was a small chance of intercepting before she reached Tripoli (Syria) even if still afloat which was doubtful. He therefore turned back to the southward and in the middle of the turn torpedo tracks were sighted by HMS Kimberley. While following up, HMS Kimberley was attacked by two bombers and fired on by shore batteries. She was therefore ordered to rejoin the other ships.
At 1025C/16, a signal was received from the C-in-C Mediterranean ordering Force B to return to Haifa. The C-in-C had decided not to operate off Syria in daylight unless full fighter protection was available. Force B arrived at Haifa around 1500C/16.
17 June 1941.
During the forenoon, the light cruiser HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN) arrived from Alexandria which they had departed around 1800C/16.
HMAS Nizam arrived later in the day as she had departed Alexandria after the other ships which had arrived earlier.
Around 1800C/17, HMS Griffin and HMS Defender departed Haifa for Alexandria.
During the day, Rear-Admiral King visited the General Officer Commanding of the Army and the Air Officer Commanding of the RAF, in Jerusalem to discuss the situation, and the question of fighter protection in particular. It became clear that unless required from bombardment purposes no or little fighter protection could be provided for Force B. The little fighter protection that could be provided would be able to give three hours of fighter protection if need for a bombardment arose.
At 1815C/17, the Naval Liaison Officer reported a French destroyer, later reported to be a 'gun boat' which fired a few rounds before retiring back to Beirut having done no damage.
At 1830C/17, Rear-Admiral King transferred his flag from HMS Phoebe to HMS Naiad.
At 1900C/17, HMS Phoebe, HMS Jackal, HMS Jaguar, HMS Nizam and HMS Kingston departed Haifa with the object of destroying the Cassard-class destroyer if it had managed to reach Tripoli (Syria). While at sea it was learned that this ship had in fact been sunk and so a sweep between Beirut and Tripoli was carried out instead.
18 June 1941.
At 0715C/18, HMS Phoebe, HMS Jackal, HMS Jaguar, HMS Nizam and HMS Kingston returned to Haifa after a blank patrol.
At 1945C/18, HMS Phoebe departed Haifa for Alexandria where she arrived around 1315C/19.
At 1900C/18, HMS Naiad, HMS Jervis, HMS Kimberley, HMS Jaguar and HMS Kingston departed Haifa for a patrol off Syria. With them the minesweeper HMS Harrow (Lt.(Retd.) G.C. Hocart, RNR) also sailed to carry out a searching sweep of area QB 44 for enemy mines but no mines were found. Force B also provided cover for her.
19 June 1941.
At dawn Force B closed the coast and HMS Jervis and HMS Kingston were detached and carried out a 40 minute bombardment of enemy positions at El Atiqua just south of Damur. On completion they rejoined Force B with subsequently returned to Haifa arriving there around 0835C/19.
HMS Coventry arrived from Port Said.
Around 1900C/19, HMS Leander, HMS Hero, HMS Hasty, HMS Jackal and HMAS Nizam sailed and carried out a search north of Beirut during which nothing was sighed.
20 June 1941.
Around 0920C/20, HMS Leander, HMS Hero, HMS Hasty, HMS Jackal and HMAS Nizam returned to Haifa. At dawn, HMS Hero and HMS Jackal had carried out a short bombardment during which they came under some light return fire from the shore but they sustained no damage.
Around 1945C/20, HMS Naiad, HMS Leander, HMS Jervis, HMS Kimberley, HMS Kingston, HMS Jaguar, HMS Jackal, HMAS Nizam, HMS Hero and HMS Hasty departed Haifa with the object of intercepting another Cassard-class destroyer reported to be arriving at Beirut at daylight the following morning. This was the Vauquelin.
At 2130C/20, HMS Jervis, HMS Hasty, HMS Jaguar, HMS Kingston and HMAS Nizam were detached as a searching force while the cruisers and the other three destroyers formed a striking force.
At 2353C/20, HMS Jervis sighted a submarine but she failed to gain contact after it had dived. The operation continued as planned.
21 June 1941.
The search was carried out to a point 60 miles north of Beirut at 0320C/21 but nothing was seen of the enemy. At 0530C/21, the two French destroyers already based at Beirut, Guepard and Valmy, were sighted close to the harbour entrance at a range of 26000 yards.
The Army did not desire a dawn bombardment and on return to Haifa around 0930C/21, reconnaissance reports were received which showed that the Vauquelin had waited till daylight before making the coast and was being escorted to Beirut by 20 aircraft.
That morning the destroyers HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, RN), HMS Havock (Lt. G.R.G. Watkins, RN) and HMS Hotspur arrived from Alexandria. HMS Hero, HMS Kimberley and HMS Jackal then departed for Alexandria [It seems likely these destroyers did not enter Haifa on their return with Force B and set course direct for Alexandria on Force B entering harbour around 0930C/21.]
Around 1915C/21, HMS Naiad, HMS Decoy, HMS Hotspur and HMS Havock departed Haifa to intercept the Vichy-French hospital ship Canada (9684 GRT, built 1912). HMS Hero had detached HMS Jackal at 1600C/21 to search and at 2245C/21, a report was received that she was escorting the Canada towards Haifa.
22 June 1941.
The Canada was sighed by Force B at 0030C/22 and escorted to Haifa while HMS Jackal was detached to continue her passage to Alexandria. Force B arrived at Haifa around 0630C/22. HMS Decoy had been detached to escort the Canada arrived a little later that morning with the French hospital ship. The Canada was examined and, nothing irregular being found, was allowed to proceed to Beirut latter in the forenoon.
Information was received from the Naval Liaison Officer of the three days programme of naval supporting fire that would be required when the coastal advance was resumed, the date for which could not then be given.
Around 1915C/22, Force B departed Haifa for a sweep to the northward of Beirut while HMS Jervis, HMS Havock, HMS Hotspur and HMS Decoy were ordered to carry out an A/S patrol to seaward while HMS Naiad, HMS Leander, HMS Jaguar, HMS Kingston and HMAS Nizam swept close inshore to look for the French destroyers.
23 June 1941.
At 0148C/23, when about 10 miles north of Beirut on a southerly course HMS Naiad sighted first one and then a second French destroyer on the port bow, on a northerly course close inshore and at a range of 5000 yards.
The French destroyers turned away making smoke and retired under the coast defence battery of Nahr el Kelb which opened fire. They were engaged by the cruisers and their escorting destroyers for about eleven minutes and several hits were observed on both.
It is probable that two torpedoes fired by HMS Jaguar and four by HMS Leander ran ashore in approximate position 34°05'N, 35°38'E. Owing to the nature of the coast it was considered almost certain they will have exploded on grounding and HMS Kingston (rear ship) reported hearing underwater explosions at the time.
The Army had no specific bombardment requirements and Force B returned to Haifa around 0615C/23.
The submarine HMS Parthian (Cdr. M.G. Rimington, DSO, RN) arrived on patrol off Beirut during the afternoon.
Around 1930C/23, HMS Harrow sailed to carry out another searching sweep of QB 44. She was covered during the night by HMS Leander, HMS Hasty, HMS Jaguar and HMAS Nizam. No mines were found.
24 June 1941.
The Leander's force closed the coast at dawn and HMS Leander, HMS Hasty and HMS Jaguar bombarded enemy positions until 0600C/24 when all ships set course for Haifa where they arrived around 0845C/24. During the bombardment they came under some light fire from batteries on shore.
The Air Officer Commanding, visited Rear-Admiral King during the day and the fighter situation was discussed. It was reported that improvements had been made but the escort for any extended period could only be undertaken at the expense of other tasks such as attacking French aerodromes. It was decided not to take the fighters of these other tasks.
Around 2030C/24, HMS Naiad, HMS Jervis, HMS Kingston and HMS Hotspur departed Haifa to carry out a sweep to the northwestward during the nigh. Nothing was seen. Dawn bombardment was not required.
In an air raid on Haifa during the nigh a bomb was dropped fairly close to HMS Leander but did no damage.
25 June 1941.
Around 0500C/25, HMS Hasty and HMS Jaguar departed Haifa for Alexandria.
Around 0630C/25, HMS Naiad, HMS Jervis, HMS Kingston and HMS Hotspur returned to Haifa from their night patrol.
At 1248C/25, HMS Parthian sank a French Requin-class submarine between Damur and Beirut.
Around 2030C/25, HMS Leander, HMS Decoy, HMAS Nizam and HMS Havock departed Haifa to carry out a sweep to the northwestward. Nothing was seen.
26 June 1941.
The Leander's force closed the coast at dawn and bombarded enemy positions between 0518 and 0555C/26. Course was then set for Haifa where they arrived around 0850C/26. HMS Leander did not enter harbour but was joined by HMS Coventry which had departed Haifa around 0645C/26. The cruisers then set course for Alexandria.
Around 2030C/26, HMS Naiad, HMS Jervis, HMS Kingston and HMS Hotspur departed Haifa for a sweep to the northwestward during the night.
27 June 1941.
The Naiad's force closed the coast at dawn and HMS Jervis and HMS Hotspur bombarded shore targets between 0500 and 0600C/27. Shore batteries replied.
At 0545C/27, four bombers and at 0615C/27, one bomber attacked Force B but no damage was done. Allied fighters were in the vicinity but failed to intercept owing to cloud conditions and the brief warning received of the attack. The incident however showed that the dawn bombardments were becoming too much a matter of routine.
On recovering paravanes, HMS Naiad port wire was found to be cut and it was decided to carry out another searching sweep of QB 44.
Around 0600C/27, HMS Kandahar and HMS Griffin arrived at Haifa from Alexandria.
Around 0830C/27, HMS Naiad, HMS Jervis, HMS Kingston and HMS Hotspur returned to Haifa.
Around 1915C/27, HMS Kandahar, HMS Griffin and HMS Havock departed Haifa for a T.S.D.S. (this is minesweeping gear fitted on destroyers) search of QB 44. HMAS Perth also sailed to support the destroyers if required. No mines were found.
28 June 1941.
Around 0550C/28, HMAS Perth, HMS Kandahar, HMS Griffin and HMS Havock returned to Haifa.
At the Army's requist six hours of fighter protection was arranged and at 1215C/28, HMAS Perth, HMS Carlisle, HMS Jervis, HMS Kingston, HMAS Nizam, HMS Decoy and HMS Hotspur departed Haifa. They arrived off Damur around 1530C/28. HMS Jervis and HMS Kingston bombarded various targets while HMAS Perth opened fire on and silenced the Khalde battery. They returned to Haifa around 1930C/28.
Around 2000C/28, the damaged HMS Ilex left for Port Said in tow of HMS Decoy and escorted by HMS Carlisle, HMAS Nizam and HMS Hotspur.
29 June 1941.
Around 1800C/29, HMS Jervis departed Haifa for Alexandria.
Around 2045C/29, HMS Carlisle, HMS Decoy and HMS Hotspur returned to Haifa from escorting / towing HMS Ilex. HMAS Nizam did not return to Haifa but proceeded to Alexandria instead.
Around 2030C/29, HMS Naiad, HMS Kandahar and HMS Griffin sailed to carry out a night bombardment of targets in the Damur area.
30 June 1941.
The Naiad's force closed the coast around 0030C/30. HMS Naiad illuminated the targets with starshell while HMS Kandahar carried out a short bombardment. This was done mainly for its nuisance value. The 5.25" star shell proved to have considerable incendiary effect. The force returned to Haifa around 0620C/30.
Around 2030C/30, HMAS Perth, HMS Kingston, HMS Havock and HMS Hotspur departed Haifa to carry out a sweep during the night.
1 July 1941.
Around 0615C/1, HMAS Perth, HMS Kingston, HMS Havock and HMS Hotspur returned to Haifa from patrol.
Around 0900C/1, HMS Parthian arrived at Haifa from patrol.
Around 2030C/1, HMS Naiad, HMS Kandahar, HMS Decoy and HMS Havock departed Haifa for patrol.
2 July 1941.
Around 0615C/2, HMS Naiad, HMS Kandahar, HMS Decoy and HMS Havock returned to Haifa from patrol.
Around 1015C/2, HMS Naiad, HMAS Perth, HMS Kandahar, HMS Kingston, HMS Havock and HMS Griffin departed Haifa and subsequently carried out a bombardment of the Damur area. HMAS Perth managed the destroy four guns from a battery at Abey also an ammunition dump was blown up.
Around 1500C/2, Force B was bombed by Allied aircraft by mistake but no damage was sustained. Rear-Admiral King decided to remain at sea during the night to intercept possible Vichy French freighters with reinforcements which have been reported to be on their way to Syria.
Around 1600C/2, HMS Parthian departed Haifa to patrol off Tripoli.
3 July 1941.
Around 0650C/3, HMS Naiad, HMAS Perth, HMS Kandahar, HMS Kingston, HMS Havock and HMS Griffin returned to Haifa from patrol. The destroyers HMS Jaguar (with Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, RN, on board) and HMS Hasty had arrived from Alexandria. The Yugoslav motor torpedo boats Kajmak?alan and Durmitor also arrived from Alexandria.
Around 1500C/3, HMS Ajax (flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN), HMS Phoebe, HMAS Nizam and HMS Kimberley arrived at Haifa from Alexandria.
Around 2030C/3, HMAS Perth, HMS Phoebe, HMS Kingston, HMS Hotspur and HMS Griffin departed Haifa for a night sweep.
Also on this day HMS Decoy and HMS Kandahar departed Haifa for Alexandria.
4 July 1941.
Around 0630C/4, HMAS Perth, HMS Phoebe, HMS Kingston, HMS Hotspur and HMS Griffin returned to Haifa.
Around 0930C/4, HMS Naiad, HMS Ajax, HMS Jackal, HMAS Nizam, HMS Kimberley, HMS Havock and HMS Hasty departed Haifa to carry out a bombardment in the Damur area. The destroyers found and plastered their targets but the shoot by HMS Ajax was less successful. The force returned to Haifa around 1730C/4.
Around 2030C/4, HMS Naiad, HMS Phoebe, HMS Kimberley and HMS Hasty departed Haifa for a night search keeping clear of the area HMS Parthian was patrolling. Nothing was seen though.
5 July 1941.
Around 0630C/5, HMS Naiad, HMS Phoebe, HMS Kimberley and HMS Hasty returned to Haifa from their patrol.
Around 1100C/5, HMS Ajax, HMAS Perth, HMS Carlisle, HMS Jackal, HMS Kingston, HMAS Nizam, HMS Griffin, HMS Havock and HMS Hotspur departed Haifa to carry out another bombardment in the Damur area. HMS Ajax, HMAS Perth, HMS Kingston and HMAS Nizam were the ships which carried out bombardments. The force returned to Haifa around 1800C/5.
Around 2030C/5, HMAS Perth, HMS Carlisle, HMAS Nizam and HMS Havock departed Haifa for a nigth sweep again keeping clear of HMS Parthian who had been ordered to leave patrol P.M. and was returning the Haifa.
6 July 1941.
At 0045C/6, HMS Ajax, HMS Jackal, HMS Griffin, HMS Kingston and HMS Hotspur departed Haifa to join Perth's force at 0500C/6 off Damur. The Army advance over the Damur river began at dawn and throughout the day Force B gave support to the coastal column. Force B returned to Haifa around 2015C/6.
Around 0930C/6, HMS Parthian arrived at Haifa from patrol.
Around 1945C/6, HMS Naiad, HMS Phoebe, HMS Kimberley and HMS Hasty departed Haifa for a night sweep during which nothing was sighed.
7 July 1941.
Around 0620C/7, HMS Naiad, HMS Phoebe, HMS Kimberley and HMS Hasty returned to Haifa from their sweep. They did not enter harbour but anchored off the breakwater entering only around 1000C/7.
Between 0930C/7 and 1000C/7, HMS Ajax, HMAS Perth, HMS Carlisle, HMS Jackal, HMS Hotspur, HMAS Nizam, HMS Kimberley, HMS Havock and HMS Hasty departed Haifa to support Army operations. They returned to Haifa around 1830C/7. They had carried out no bombardments due to the confusing situation on land and the poor visibility.
A strong force of Vichy-French bombers approached the bombarding force during the afternoon but were driven off by the fighter escort. The fighters reported having shot down a JU 88 which was most likely a German reconnaissance aircraft.
From air reconnaissance reports during the day of the three Vichy-French destroyers (Guepard, Valmy and Vauquelin) on the Turkish coast it appeared possible that they might attempt to reach Beirut during the night. At 1815C/7, HMS Naiad and HMS Phoebe departed Haifa to look for them. HMS Jackal, HMS Hotspur, HMAS Nizam and HMS Havock joined them on leaving harbour having been detached from the Ajax's force.
At the same time the four MTB's (MTB 68, MTB 215, Kajmak?alan and Durmitor) departed Haifa to operate of Beirut during the night. MTB 68 actually entered the harbour but on finding it very difficult to attack merchant vessels with torpedoes due to the limited space and therefore firing only one torpedo which missed. She dropped depth charges instead alongside two of the merchant vessels.
around 2330C/7, it became apparent that the French destroyers were not proceeding towards Beirut this night and HMS Naiad, HMS Phoebe, HMS Jackal, HMS Hotspur, HMAS Nizam and HMS Havock turned southwards and set course to return to Haifa.
8 July 1941.
On their arrival off Haifa HMS Naiad, HMS Phoebe, HMS Jackal, HMS Hotspur, HMAS Nizam and HMS Havock found the port closed due to enemy air laid mines having been dropped in the harbour. They therefore patrolled to seaward throughout the day and then proceeded on a normal night sweep at sunset. In the port mines had been dropped close to HMS Carlisle which was towed out of the danger area.
9 July 1941.
Around 0600C/9, HMS Naiad, HMS Phoebe, HMS Jackal, HMS Hotspur, HMAS Nizam and HMS Havock returned to Haifa from patrol.
A report was received that the French had asked for an armistice and this was later confirmed.
Around 1800C/9, HMS Parthian departed Haifa for Alexandria.
Around 2030C/9, HMS Ajax, HMAS Perth, HMS Griffin, HMS Hasty, HMS Kimberley and HMS Kingston departed Haifa for a regular night sweep.
10 July 1941.
Around 0620C/10, HMS Ajax, HMAS Perth, HMS Griffin, HMS Hasty, HMS Kimberley and HMS Kingston returned to Haifa.
Reconnaissance during the day reported two large merchant vessels at Banias, two between Rouad Island and the coast and one north of Tripoli harbour. The reports were not trusted but at 1618C/10, a signal was received from the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean that these ships were to be captured so at 2015C/10, HMS Ajax, HMAS Perth, HMS Jackal, HMS Griffin, HMS Hasty, HMS Kimberley and HMS Kingston departed Haifa to do so. Boarding parties had been sent by the cruisers which remained in harbour to the destroyers.
No merchant ships were found in the reported places and off the coast.
11 July 1941.
Around 0635C/11, HMAS Nizam, HMS Havock and HMS Hotspur departed Haifa to join HMS Ajax's force (possibly for exercises ?).
Around 0805C/11, HMS Jackal arrived at Haifa after having been detached.
Around 0930C/11, HMS Ajax, HMAS Perth, HMS Griffin, HMS Hasty, HMS Kimberley, HMS Kingston, HMAS Nizam, HMS Havock and HMS Hotspur returned to Haifa.
Around 2030C/11, HMS Naiad, HMAS Perth, HMS Griffin, HMAS Nizam and HMS Kingston departed Haifa for a night sweep.
12 July 1941.
Information was received during the night that hostilities would cease at 0001C/12 and that armistice delegates would meet at 1100C/12 at Acre.
Around 0620C/12, HMS Naiad, HMAS Perth, HMS Griffin, HMAS Nizam and HMS Kingston returned to Haifa from patrol.
Around 2030C/12, HMS Naiad, HMAS Perth, HMS Kimberley, HMS Hasty and HMS Hotspur departed Haifa for a night sweep and also to avoid congestion in the harbour.
13 July 1941.
Around 0625C/13, HMS Naiad, HMAS Perth, HMS Kimberley, HMS Hasty and HMS Hotspur returned to Haifa from patrol.
Around 2030C/12, HMS Ajax, HMS Phoebe, HMS Jackal, HMS Kingston and HMS Havock departed Haifa for a night sweep and also to avoid congestion in the harbour.
14 July 1941.
Around 0630C/14, HMS Ajax, HMS Phoebe, HMS Jackal, HMS Kingston and HMS Havock returned to Haifa from patrol.
Around 1800C/14, HMS Naiad, HMS Phoebe, HMAS Perth, HMS Kimberley, HMS Griffin, HMS Havock and HMS Hotspur departed Haifa for Alexandria.
15 July 1941.
Around 1400C/15, HMS Moy departed Haifa for Beirut.
Around 1900C/15, HMS Harrow and HMS Lydiard (Lt. D.M. Gibb, RNR) departed Haifa for Beirut.
Around 2000C/15, HMS Carlisle departed Haifa for Beirut.
All the above ships were due to arrive at Beirut around 0530C/16.
Around 2000C/15, HMS Hasty and HMAS Nizam departed Haifa to carry out an A/S sweep from 5 to 15 miles from Beirut. The search was negative.
16 July 1941.
Around 0800C/16, HMS Hasty and HMAS Nizam returned to Haifa.
Around 1145C/16, HMS Leander arrived at Haifa from Alexandria. She had been delayed by a reduction of speed at 21 knots due to excessive vibration.
17 July 1941.
Around 0800C/17, HMS Jervis arrived at Haifa from Alexandria.
Around 2000C/17, HMS Jackal, HMAS Nizam and HMS Hasty departed Haifa for Alexandria. Off Alexandria they were to join the Fleet for exercises.
Around 2030C/17, HMS Ajax, HMS Jervis and HMS Kingston departed Haifa to provide cover for convoy LE 25 which they did until 0500C/18.
18 July 1941.
Around 0800C/18, HMS Ajax and HMS Kingston returned to Haifa.
Around 0930C/18, HMS Leander departed Haifa for full power trials after divers had removed wire fouling her inner port propeller. The full power trial was satisfactory though there was still some vibration aft but this may also be due to a foul bottom as her last undocking had been on 26 December 1940. She returned to Haifa around 1120C/18.
Around 1130C/18, HMS Jervis returned to Haifa having conducted D/F trials before entering harbour. (1)
- ADM 199/679
ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.