D or DEFENDER-Class Fleet Destroyer ordered on
2nd February 1931 from Vickers Armstrong at Barrow under the 1930 Programs. The
snip was laid down as Yard No 675 on 29th September 1931 and launched on 8th
April 1932 as the 14th RN ship to carry the name, introduced in 1652 for a 4th
Rate. It was last used in WW1 by two trawlers hired for minesweeping. Build was
completed on 3rd November 1932 for a contract price of £223,509 excluding the
Admiralty supplied equipment such as guns, ammunition and wireless outfits. She
joined the 1st Destroyer Flotilla in the Mediterranean during December that
year. In 1934 she was re-commissioned after refit at Devonport and in November
sailed to join the 8th Destroyer Flotilla on the China Station where she served
with her sister ships. The Flotilla was renumbered to 21st Destroyer Flotilla
before the outbreak of war. As she was then under refit at Singapore the ship
did not go to the Mediterranean with the Flotilla when war was declared in
B a t t l e†† H o n o u r s
1588 - KENTISH KNOCK 1652 - PORTLAND
1653 - GABBARD 1653 - SCHEVENINGEN
1653 - LOWESTOFT 1665 - FOUR DAYS
BATTLE 1666 - ORFORDNESS 1666 - SOLEBAY 1672 - SCHOONVELDT 1673 - TEXEL 1673 - BANTRY BAY 1680
1739 - SANTA MARIA 1740 - CHAGRES
1740 - TOULON 1744 - BLACK SEA
1854 - SPARTIVENTO 1940 - MEDITERRANEAN 1941 - MALTA
CONVOYS 1941 - GREECE 1941
H e r a l d i c† ††D a t
On a Field Red, a diamond Silver.
M o t t o
clarissima gemma: ĎHonour is the brightest jewelí
D e t a
i l s†† o f†† W a r††
S e r v i c e
(for more ship information,
Naval History Homepage
and type name in Site Search)
1 9 3 9
September Deployed on China Station with 21st Destroyer Flotilla
Nominated or transfer to Mediterranean.
3rd Under refit at Singapore.
November Post refit trials.
December Prepared for return passage to Malta to rejoin Flotilla.
4th Took passage from Singapore via Red Sea to Malta.
19th Rejoined Flotilla for contraband control duties.
1 9 4 0
Recalled with Flotilla to Home waters for Fleet duties.
8th Took passage to UK from Malta.
12th Diverted for Atlantic convoy defence and ordered to
15th Arrived at Freetown and deployed in defence of
convoys between Gibraltar and Cape
of Good Hope.
(Note: This diversion was due to increase
activity by German commerce raiders in the Atlantic
GRAF SPEE had been disposed of in December
February Atlantic deployment in continuation.
Nominated for transfer to Mediterranean Fleet after refit
April Took passage to Malta to join 10th Destroyer
Flotilla, Mediterranean Fleet.
(Note: This Flotilla included HM Australia
Destroyers STUART, VAMPIRE, .VENDETTA,
VOYAGER and WRYNECK).
Under refit by HM Dockyard
Malta and on completion joined Flotilla.
Carried out Fleet exercises with Flotilla in
anticipation of war with Italy.
June Flotilla deployment based at Malta in
11th In action with aircraft off
Malta and sustained slight damage.
12th Carried out unsuccessful search for HM Submarine
GRAMPUS which was missing after a
minelaying operation off Augusta.
(For details of minelaying by RN ships see Naval
Staff History (MINING).
26th Escorted French submarine NARVAL into Malta to join
Free French Navy.
28th Detached with HM Destroyer JERVIS| and took passage
to Malta for escort of evacuation convoy.
(Note: Mediterranean Fleet cruisers engaged
Italian destroyers and expended large proportion of
Operation MA3 was cancelled. See THE
BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by
MacIntyre, MALTA CONVOYS by R Woodman,
ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE
CLOSELY by C Barnett and the Naval Staff History
9th Sailed from Malta as escort for Convoy MF1 with HMS
JERVIS and HM Australian Destroyer
VENDETTA during passage to Alexandria, covered
by ships of Mediterranean Fleet ships.
(Operation MAS ó Repeat of MA3 see above.)
(Note: Convoy comprised mercantiles ss EL NID,
ss KNIGHT OF MALTA and ss RODO carrying
civilians from Malta consequent on entry of
Italy into WW2.)
10th Attack by CANT seaplane driven off.
13th Detached from MF1 on arrival at Alexandria.
Deployed for Fleet duties in Eastern Mediterranean.
23rd Bombarded Italian seaplane base at Bomba with HM
Destroyers STUART (RAN), ILEX and
29th Deployed with HM Destroyers DAINTY, JERVIS and JUNO as escort for Convoy MF2 from
Alexandria to Malta.
(Note: Convoy comprised RFA PLUMLEAF, ss
CORNWALL and ss VOLVO.)
31st Under air attacks during which ss
CORNWALL was damaged.
(Note: This was part of Operation HATS
-Transfer of reinforcement warships to join Fleet at
Alexandria from Gibraltar. See above
1st Remained with MF2 with HMS JERVIS as escort into
Malta when HMS DAINTY detached to
stand by ss CORNWALL.
3rd Joined Mediterranean Fleet destroyer screen for
return passage to Egypt.
(Note: Air attacks were carried out on
Rhodes during transit.)
Fleet and convoy defence duties in continuation.
(Note: Mediterranean Fleet with destroyer
screen covered passage of Convoy MF3 during this
period. See MALTA convoys.)
November Fleet deployment with Flotilla in continuation.
Nominated for screening duties with Fleet during
cover for passage of convoys in
(Note: This was a major operation which
included passage of warships from UK to reinforce Fleet
in the Eastern Mediterranean..
HMS RAMILLIES and HMS BERWICK were leaving Fleet
in Eastern Mediterranean.
Fleet based at Alexandria. See above
4th Deployed with HM Cruiser CALCUTTA, HMS DAINTY, HM
Australian Destroyers VAMPIRE,
VOYAGER and WATERHEN as escort for Convoy AN6 on
passage from Port Said to Suda Bay,
(Operation MB8 - Part of Operation COAT -
Transfer of further reinforcement ships at Alexandria
and cover by Mediterranean Fleet for the passage
of convoys to and from Malta. See references.)
5th Arrived at Suda Bay.
23rd Deployed with HM Destroyers DEFENDER, GALLAN1,
GREYHOUND and HEREWARD as
screen for HMS RAMILLIES, HM Cruisers BERWICK,
COVENTRY and NEWCASTLE in Force D
to cover passage of Convoy MW4 from Egypt to
Malta (Operation MB9)
Joined escort for Convoy MW4 at sea.
(Note: Escort included HM Cruisers GLASGOW,
GLOUCESTER and YORK.).
26th Force D detached from MW5 off Malta and briefly
joined HMS EAGLE, HM Battleships BARHAM
and MALAYA (Force C).
Detached as screen for Force D off
and continued on westward passage through Sicilian
27th With Force D screen met reinforcement ships (H M
Destroyer HOTSPUR, H M Cruisers
MANCHESTER and SOUTHAMPTON west of Sicilian
Channel and took joint passage to rejoin
Mediterranean Fleet ships off
(Note: Other ships in screen for Force D were H
M Destroyers DEFENDER, GREYHOUND
GALLANT and HEREWARD).
Took part in brief engagement with Italian
battle group which disengaged after exchange of fire.
(Battle of Spartivento - See above references
29th Part of screen for Mediterranean Fleet units during
passage to Malta as escort for Convoy MS4 to
December Arrived at Alexandria
16th Mediterranean Fleet with destroyer screen carried
out major Fleet operation (HIDE)
1 9 4 1
Fleet screening deployment with Flotilla in continuation.
7th Deployed with HM Destroyer DEFENDER and Cruiser
CALCUTTA as Force C for escort of
Convoy MW5 1/2 during passage to Malta from
Alexandria (Operation MC4).
(Note: This was part of complex operation
including passage of Convoys ME5 1/2 and ME6
from Malta as well as a military convoy from
Western Mediterranean to Piraeus.
Cover was being provided by major Fleet units
10th Detached from Convoy MW5i before arrival in Malta.
Rejoined Fleet destroyers in screen for major
Fleet units including H M Aircraft Carrier
ILLUSTRIOUS for westward passage to meet EXCESS
convoy from Gibraltar.
Under heavy and sustained air attacks by German
Planned deployment as escort for Convoy ME6
changed after HM Destroyer GALLANT detonated
a mine south of
Pantelleria and was badly
. Joined HM Destroyer GRIFFIN, HM Cruisers
BONAVENTURE, GLOUCESTER and
SOUTHAMPTON escorting HM Destroyer MOHAWK which was towing HMS GALLANT to
11th Took passage from Malta with HMS SOUTHAMPTON and HMS
GLOUCESTER to join
Mediterranean Fleet units which were providing
cover for passage of EXCESS Convoy and came
under sustained and air attacks by German
aircraft of Fliegerkorps X during which HMS
SOUTHAMPTON was damaged and had to be sunk by HM Cruiser ORION.
Embarked the survivors from HMS SOUTHAMPTON that
had been abandoned after ship was
badly damaged and later sunk. See references.
Transferred survivors to HMS GLOUCESTER.
12th Passage to Port Said with screen covered by HMS
EAGLE, HMS BARHAM and HMS AJAX.
16th Arrived at Alexandria with Fleet units.
February Mediterranean Fleet deployment in continuation.
(Note: Passage of cruisers taking personnel to
Malta and convoy from Malta was covered.
(Operation MC8 - See references.
The lack of an aircraft carrier prevented any
major operation for Malta support.)
Deployed for escort of troop convoys to Greek ports (Operation
April Eastern Mediterranean convoy defence in
19th Deployed with HMS JANUS, HMS JERVIS and HM Destroyer
NUBIAN as escort for Convoy
ME7 from Malta.
20th Detached from ME7 after transfer to Mediterranean
Fleet cover and resumed convoy defence of
military convoys to and from Greek ports
(Note: Mediterranean Fleet with destroyer
escort carried out bombardment of Tripoli.
25th Took part in evacuation of allied troops from Greece
to (Note: Other destroyers involved were STUART,
VOYAGER, VENDETTA, WATERHEN,
26th VAMPIRE (all RAN), DEFENDER, DECOY DEFENDER, HASTY,
HERO, HOTSPUR, HEREWARD, ISIS, NUBIAN, KANDAHAR,
KIMBERLEY. For details see Naval Staff History).
27th Rescued 700 survivors from troopship SLAMAT
with HM Destroyer WRYNECK.
During passage to Crete with HMS WRYNECK
carrying troops from SLAMAT the two
destroyers came under air attack and were both
sunk south of Morea (Position 36.30N 23.34E).
CONVOY ESCORT MOVEMENTS of
by Don Kindell
These convoy lists have not been cross-checked with the text above
Date convoy sailed
Joined convoy as escort
Date convoy arrived
OF HMS DIAMOND and HMS WRYNECK on
27th APRIL 1941
with thanks to Gary Clarke
On the 7 February 2011, Gary wrote to say
"We have recently found in a relatives possessions a 7 page hand written letter
with detailed drawn map (but see below) from a sailor on H.M.S. WRYNECK
detailing how they were ordered to assist picking up of survivors from a
sinking ship, states how on arrival H.M.S. DIAMOND was already there, and
describes how after picking up survivors they were attacked by Junkers 87
dive-bombers. He describes jumping overboard , the sinking of both destroyers,
and how he was picked up and survived but never wanted to go to sea again." This
letter was probably written by Gary's wife's uncle, Eddie Gray, now deceased,
one of seven brothers, but the only one to become a sailor.
Following is the original letter - click to enlarge, followed
by Gary's transcription (and the map):
"At dawn on the 27th
of April H.M.S Wryneck was ordered to sea, and assist in escorting a convoy
which was between Greece & Crete. When we were about 2 hours steaming from
Crete we sighted the convoy which we were looking
for. In the convoy there were the Merchant ship of considerable size,
escorted by 3 destroyers & HM Cruiser. We were then told that one of the
convoy had already been dive-bombed & hit. We were then at action station,
where we had been for the last to days, without any real kind of dinner, but
we were even more alert now, that we had heard there were dive bombers in
However left the convoy & proceeded to where the
badly damaged Ship, was forever dive bombed. We arrived at the scene to find
H.M.S Diamond already picking up survivors who were machine-gunned & torn to
shreds in the water.
However, we picked
up as many as we could, and then a few of them were already half dead. When
we finally satisfied ourselves that there was nothing more to be done, we
made up our minds to return to
Crete. That was about 12.15, so we put ourselves or
rather took up our positions. Diamond then flashed that they were going to
torpedo the already badly blazing ship. The Diamond fired one only which hit
right amid-ships. We saw the vessel give a great lurch and then begin to
sink very quickly. During these operation Dive-Bombers never came near us.
Then when they began to think they were saved & all was well, out of nowhere
came those Junkers 87, those terrifying dive bombers, with
something like vengeance, which they quickly got. All we knew was when we
heard the whining of the machine & the machine guns & a
second later bombs.
I never experienced
as much in all the war as I did those next five minutes. One bomb landed on
the forward gun & wiped out nearly everyone out then one landed on the after
gun but lucky only one was hurt, the other one or two were near misses, but
they did all the damage. After the Nazis thought they had done a good job
which they nearly had, they never bothered us again, which was to my relief.
I didnít fancy having a machine gun bullet in me. However the ship now had a
great list to port & was sinking rapidly. My Pal who I owe my life to found
me forward in the (galley flat) and these were the words he spoke to me
quite calmly. They got us Dolly. Dolly
was my nick name in case you want to know . We went out on the Upper Deck
together, & he said to me,
Have you got a life belt,
I said no, I didnít
need one, but he gave me one as he had two and we did a bit work together,
we untied a Carley Raft & threw it over the side,
however the ship was going about 20 knots & we could not hold on to it, that
we made our objective. We travelled a bit further on, I should say a few
seconds, because all this happened within six minutes. I look over to have a
look at the Diamond but it had already gone down. When we finally decided to
jump over, me & my pal, we gripped one oar each, before we went. Believe me
they came in handy. We made to get clear of the oil-fuel which was now
spreading on the water, and then for the rafts which we could not see. When
we had swam a couple of miles together, we noticed that someone else had got
the whaler free so we made for this, eventually I think we swam about 3
miles before we caught up with the whaler, which we then noticed had
collected two rafts, We got to one of these rafts and clambered inboard.
The time would then
be about 2.15 - 2.30. We kept good hearts and I joked with a few of my
favourite comrades who were in the whaler. I cannot tell you every little
detail, but Iím writing this down to give an idea what I thought was a
It came to dusk & I
think we had picked only two more survivors up, then
a rough sea sprang up, as I have already told before we were on a raft.
However it began to get rougher & rougher every minute. The whaler who was
towing us suddenly decided to cut us adrift. We never thought such a thing
could happen among English sailors or more so one that you share the same
ship & eat with. However when we found to our misfortune that we were
actually adrift, we almost gave up. Time wore on hour after hour went by
till we thought that we would never be picked up when suddenly about half
past three in the morning we sighted a ship but not before they had sighted
us, it was a destroyer, one of those dark grey shapes. We realised but it
took quite a bit to do so that it was making straight toward us, at least
that what we thought, but thank goodness we were wrong. Iíll never forget
that night of terror.
finally came along-side us with great skill, and we were pulled up
the side of the ship, our legs were numb & we could hardly use them, but we
were full of smiles. We were treated splendidly aboard H.M.S.
Griffin which was the name of the destroyer.
I was only interested about getting something to eat.
I didnít. We got something to drink
which did us the world of good. When we arrived at
Crete the same morning I was relieved & never wanted
to go to sea again. But I'll never forget the splendid behaviour of my ship
The map was not about the sinking of WRYNECK and
DIAMOND, but the allied landings in Oran, French North Africa on 8
November 1942. It is likely that Eddie Gray did go back to sea, but on