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SERVICE HISTORIES of ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS in WORLD WAR 2

by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 1998

HMS DIAMOND (H 22) -  D-class Destroyer
including Convoy Escort Movements

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Decoy, sister ship (Navy Photos/Michael Pocock, click to enlarge)

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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 September 1939.

 

B a t t l e†† H o n o u r s

 

ARMADA 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 - PORTOBELLO 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 a

Badge: On a Field Red, a diamond Silver.

 

M o t t o

Honor 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, go to 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.

 

October                  Under refit

 

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

 

January                  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 Freetown.

                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 1939).

 

February                Atlantic deployment in continuation.

 

March                    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).

May                        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 continuation.                     

                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

                                their ammunition.

                                Operation MA3 was cancelled. See THE BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by D

                                MacIntyre, MALTA CONVOYS by R Woodman, ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE

                                CLOSELY by C Barnett and the Naval Staff History (HMSO -2001).)

 

July

                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.

 

August                  Deployed for Fleet duties in Eastern Mediterranean.

                23rd        Bombarded Italian seaplane base at Bomba with HM Destroyers STUART (RAN), ILEX and

                                JUNO.

                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 references.)

 

September

                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.)

 

October                  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

                                Mediterranean.

                                (Operation COLLAR).

                                (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 references.)

                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,

                                Crete.

                                (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 Pantelleria and continued on westward passage through Sicilian

                                Channel.

                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 Malta.

                                (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 for details)

                29th        Part of screen for Mediterranean Fleet units during passage to Malta as escort for Convoy MS4 to

                                Alexandria.

 

December              Arrived at Alexandria

                16th        Mediterranean Fleet with destroyer screen carried out major Fleet operation (HIDE)

                                (See references.)

 

1 9 4 1

 

January                  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 .Operation EXCESS).

                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 dive bombers.

                                Planned deployment as escort for Convoy ME6 changed after HM Destroyer GALLANT detonated

                                a mine south of Pantelleria and was badly damaged.

.                               Joined HM Destroyer GRIFFIN, HM Cruisers BONAVENTURE, GLOUCESTER and

                                SOUTHAMPTON escorting HM Destroyer MOHAWK which was towing HMS GALLANT to

                                Malta.

                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.)

 

March                    Deployed for escort of troop convoys to Greek ports (Operation LUSTRE).

 

April                       Eastern Mediterranean convoy defence in continuation.

                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 (Operation LUSTRE).

                                (Note: Mediterranean Fleet with destroyer escort carried out bombardment of Tripoli.

                                See references.)

                25th        Took part in evacuation of allied troops from Greece (Operation DEMON)

                to            (Note: Other destroyers involved were STUART, VOYAGER, VENDETTA, WATERHEN,

                26th        VAMPIRE (all RAN), DEFENDER, DECOY DEFENDER, HASTY, HAVOCK,

                                HERO, HOTSPUR, HEREWARD, ISIS, NUBIAN, KANDAHAR, KINGSTON and

                                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).

 


 

Addendum

 

CONVOY ESCORT MOVEMENTS of HMS DIAMOND

by Don Kindell

 

These convoy lists have not been cross-checked with the text above

 

 

 

 

 

Date convoy sailed

Joined convoy as escort

Convoy No.

Left convoy

Date convoy arrived

 

 

 

 

 

22/08/40

20/09/40

AP 001/1

23/09/40

23/09/40

04/11/40

04/11/40

MW 003

unknown

10/11/40

 

 

 

 

 

(Note on Convoys)

 


 

SINKING 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 the vicinity. 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 terrible ordeal.

 

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.

 

The destroyer 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 company."

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 what ship?

 

 

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