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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2002

HMS MOHAWK (L 31) -  Tribal-class Destroyer
including Convoy Escort Movements

HMS Mohawk (Photo Ships, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

TRIBAL-Class Destroyer ordered on 10th March 1936 from John I Thornycroft at Woolston under the 1935 Build Programme and laid down on 16th July that year. The ship was launched on 5th October 1937 as the 11th RN ship to bear this name, introduced in 1756 for a 6 gun Sloop built on the Canadian lakes at Oswega and soon after completion captured by the French. It was last used in 1917 for a destroyer which was sold in 1919. Build was completed on 7th September 1938 for a tender price of £339,585 which excluded supply of weapons and communications outfits by the Admiralty.  The name is that of a North American tribe and dates from 1813.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


DOVER PATROL 1914-17 - NORWAY 1940 - CALABRIA 1940 - LIBYA 1940 - MEDITERRANEAN 1940-41 - SFAX 1941 - MATAPAN 1941 - MALTA CONVOYS 1941


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge:  On a Field gold, a head of a Mohawk couped

at the shoulders proper.


M o t t o:

Bold, vigilant, brave.


Manning Division: Portsmouth


D e t a i l s   o f   P r e - W a r   S e r v i c e


1 9 3 8


September             Contractors Trials and commissioning for service in 1st Tribal Destroyer, Flotilla

                               Mediterranean Fleet.

              7th            Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials.

                               (Note: A revised allocation for service in the Home Fleet because of the Munich crisis

                                           was not implemented and the ship planned deployment with the Mediterranean

                                           Fleet was restored.)

                               On completion of trials and storing took passage to Portland to work-up for service at



October                  Took passage to Mediterranean after Portland deployment.

            13th            Arrived in Malta and joined HM Destroyers AFRIDI and COSSACK for service as 1st

                               Tribal Destroyer Flotilla.


November              Deployed for Flotilla duties based at Malta including taking British Ambassador to

                               Turkey from Cape Helles to Istanbul.


December               Carried out Shakedown exercises and visits in Aegean

                                Returned to Malta for Xmas.

                                Pennant Number for visual signalling purposes changed to F31.


1 9 3 9


January                   Flotilla deployment at Malta in continuation.

                                 Took part in Mediterranean Fleet Spring exercise and visits programme.


February                  Passage to Gibraltar to take part in Mediterranean and Home Fleet joint annual


                                  Nominated for Non-intervention Patrol duty


March                      On release from Fleet Exercises deployed off Spanish Mediterranean coast to enforce

                                 embargo on provision of support to belligerents in Spanish civil war.

            23rd             Rescued five German airmen from crashed seaplane off Barcelona.

                                 Passage to Malta on release from patrol


April                         Transferred to 4th Destroyer Flotilla with HM Destroyers AFRIDI, COSSACK,

                                  MAORI, GURKHA, NUBIAN, SIKH and ZULU.


May                           Deployed with Flotilla For Mediterranean Fleet Exercise and Visits Programme

to July                        (Note: In addition to Fleet and Flotilla exercises ships visited ports in Greece

                                               and North Africa.)


August                      Took part in Fleet exercises in Aegean, arranged in anticipation of war with Italy.

                                   (Note: Some ships of Flotilla visited Istanbul but this visit was curtailed and

                                                Mediterranean Fleet returned to Alexandria to take up war stations.)

                                   Nominated for surveillance operation in Red Sea.



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)



September                 Took passage with HM Destroyers AFRIDI, GURKHA and SIKH to Red Sea

                                   for surveillance of Italian movements at Massawa.

                                   Returned to Alexandria on release from surveillance and resumed Flotilla duties

                                   for contraband control.


October                      Nominated for return to UK with Flotilla for service in Home waters.

                                   Passage to UK with calls at Malta and Gibraltar

            13th                Arrived at Harwich for North Sea convoy defence and patrol to intercept German

                                   warships and submarines carrying out attacks on shipping, minelaying or on

                                   passage to Atlantic.

                                   For details of naval activities in Home waters after outbreak of war see Naval

                                   Staff History and ENGAGE THE  ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by C Barnett.

            14th                Deployed as escort for North Sea convoy.

            16th                After arrival in Forth came under air attacks by Ju88 aircraft and straddled by

                                   two bombs which on explosion scattered splinters causing extensive

                                   casualties to personnel on bridge and upper decks. 15 of ship’s company

                                   were killed and 30 were injured, one of whom was commanding Officer,

                                   Commander RF Jolly, RN who later died of his injuries.

                                   Sustained bomb damage.

                                   (Note: Cdr Jolly was posthumously awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal)

            17th                Under temporary repair by HM Dockyard, Rosyth to enable passage to

                                    Tyne shipyard for permanent repair.


November                   Under repair by Hawthorn Leslie shipyard, Hebburn on Tyne.



            14th                 On completion of shipyard work prepared to resume Flotilla duties in North Sea.

            15th                 Sailed from Tyne with HM Destroyer KELLY for North Sea patrol.

                                    Took HMS KELLY in tow after she had sustained serious damage caused when mine

                                    was detonated during passage from Tyne.

                                     Some flooding in Tiller Flat.

                                    Provided escort to Tyne when tow taken over by tug.


1 9 4 0


January                         Deployed for Home Fleet duties with Flotilla including service based at Scapa

to February                   Flow for Atlantic convoy defence and anti-submarine patrol in addition to

                                      screening of major Home Fleet warships.


March                            Flotilla duties with Home Fleet in continuation.

              2nd                  During escort of rms QUEEN ELIZABETH in NW Approaches sustained

                                      structural damage in collision with ss GARTBRATTAN.

                                      (Note: rms QUEEN ELIZABETH was on maiden voyage to New York.)

                                      Return passage to Troon for repair in commercial shipyard.

            19th                   Resumed service in Home Fleet with Flotilla at Scapa Flow.


April                              Home Fleet Flotilla duties in continuation.

              7th                   Sailed from Forth with HM Destroyers AFRIDI, GURKHA, ZULU,

                                      COSSACK, KASHMIR, KELVIN, Polish destroyers ORP GROM,

                                      ORP BLYSKAWICA and ORP BURZA as screen for HM Cruisers

                                      AURORA and GALATEA to carry out search for German warships

                                      reported by aircraft as on passage in North Sea.

              8th                   Deployed as striking force in search north of position 58.30N  3.30E.

              9th                   Recalled to join Home Fleet units also engaged in search operation.

                                      Deployed with HM Destroyers AFRIDI, SIKH, GURKHA, SOMALI,

                                      MATABELE, and MASHONA as screen for HM Cruisers MANCHESTER,

                                      SOUTHAMPTON, SHEFFIELD and GLASGOW to carry out an attack

                                      on German warships reported at Bergen.

                                      Operation cancelled by Admiralty and rejoined Home Fleet units with same


                                      After rejoining Home Fleet came under heavy and sustained air attacks.

                                      during which HMS SOUTHAMPTON and HMS GLASGOW were damaged

                                      by near misses and HMS GURKHA was hit and sunk later.

            11th                   Sailed from Scapa Flow with HM Destroyers SOMALI, AFRIDI, SIKH,

                                      MATABELE and MOHAWK to carry out sweep inshore northward of

                                      Alesund to intercept enemy warship movements prior to  planned allied

                                      landings in Norway.

            12th                   Carried out search for enemy warships escorting mercantiles.

            13th                   Under air attacks at Alesund without damage.

            14th                   Deployed in support of landings by RM from cruisers at Namsos.

                                      (Operation HENRY)

                                      On completion took passage to meet troopship convoy

            15th                   Arrived with troopships.

            21st                   Deployed for patrol off  Norwegian coast with HM Destroyers ASHANTI.

                                      SOMALI, TARTAR, SIKH and NUBIAN for patrol to intercept

                                      any attempt by enemy ships to interfere with allied landings.

                                      (Note: These ships were deployed in pairs and returned periodically to

                                                   Scapa Flow to refuel.)

            28th                   Escorted four ships of return convoy to UK with HM Destroyers

                                       AFRIDI, WITHERINGTON, AMAZON and SIKH.

                                        (Note: These ships had delivered stores to Molde and Andalsnes

                                                       in support of landings (Operation SICKLE  See NAVAL

                                                       OPERATIONS OF THE CAMPAIGN IN NORWAY, April-

                                                       June 1940 (HMSO).


May                                 Norwegian campaign support in continuation..

               4th                     Arrived at Mo as escort for HM Landing Ship ROYAL ULSTERMAN

                                          for landing of by troops of Commando Unit. See above reference.

             10th                      Detached for special operation in Nore Command.

             11th                      Deployed with HM Destroyer VANSITTART to embark British diplomats

                                          at Hook of Holland for passage to UK after German invasion of Holland

                                          and Belgium.

                                           (Note: Some other officials and refugees were also embarked.)

             12th                      Returned to UK

             14th                      Withdrawn from operations in Norway and transferred for service

                                          in the Mediterranean.

                                          (Note: HM Destroyers HERO, HASTY, ILEX, IMPERIAL, JUNO,

                                                      NUBIAN, KHARTOUM and KINSTON were also transferred

                                                       to the Mediterranean.

                                                       For details of the disastrous naval operations off Norway see

                                                       NARVIK by D Macintyre, CARRIER GLORIOUS by J Winton,

                                                       THE DOOMED EXPEDITION by Adams and above reference.)

              15th                     Transferred to 14th Destroyer Flotilla and prepared for foreign service.

                                          (Note: Other ships in Flotilla were HM Destroyers JERVIS, JANUS, JUNO,

                                                       and NUBIAN.)

              17th                     During passage to Mediterranean developed defects in steering equipment

              24th                     On completion of repair by HM Dockyard at Gibraltar took passage

                                          to join Flotilla at Alexandria.

              29th                     Arrived at Alexandria for Mediterranean Fleet duties with Flotilla.

                                          Pennant Number for visual signalling purposes changed to G 31


June                                   Deployed with Mediterranean Fleet for extensive exercises in preparation for war with

                                           Italy for escort of convoys in eastern Mediterranean.


July                                   Deployed at Alexandria for Fleet screening duties.

                7th                    Part of screen for HM Battleship WARSPITE with HM Destroyers

                                          NUBIAN, HERO, HEREWARD and DECOY as Force B to provide cover

                                          for passage of convoys MF1 and MS1 from Malta to Egypt

                                          (Operation MA5).

                                          (Note: Force A comprising cruisers of 7th Cruiser Squadron and Force C

                                                       comprising HM Aircraft Carrier EAGLE, HM Battleships MALAYA

                                                       and ROYAL SOVEREIGN screened by ten destroyers were also

                                                       deployed for this operation  For details of Malta Convoy operations

                                                       see MALTA CONVOYS by R Woodman.)

                9th                     Present at first capital ship engagement with Italian warships off Punto

                                          Stilo. (Battle of Calabria – This established British ascendancy over Italian

                                          major ships since the enemy fleet withdrew after their Flagship and a

                                          cruiser were damaged by initial long range salvoes from HMS WARSPITE.

                                          (Note: For details of naval activities in Mediterranean between 1940 and

                                                       1943 see THE BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by Donald

                                                       Macintyre, ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by C Barnett

                                                       and THE NAVAL WAR IN  MEDITERRANEAN by J Greene and

                                                                  A Massignani.)


August                             Nominated with HM Destroyers NUBIAN and JANUS for detached service with

                                          Force H at Gibraltar to reinforce the escort for transit of HM Aircraft Carrier

                                          ILLUSTRIOUS, HM Battleship VALIANT, HM Cruisers COVENTRY and

                                          CALCUTTA during passage to Alexandria to reinforce Mediterranean Fleet.

                                          (Operation HATS). Passage to Gibraltar.

              30th                     Joined HM Destroyers HERO, JANUS, GALLANT, GREYHOUND, GRIFFIN

                                          HOTSPUR and NUBIAN in Force A for escort of warships in transit identified

                                          as Force F and sailed from Gibraltar covered by ships of Force H.


August                               Deployed for convoy defence in Eastern Mediterranean.



                1st                     Detached from Force H ships with Force A and took passage as escort through

                                          Sicilian Narrows.

                2nd                    Rejoined Mediterranean Fleet east of Sicilian Narrows and deployed with screen.

                5th                     Arrived at Alexandria with ships of Mediterranean Fleet

                                          Flotilla duties in continuation.

               16th                    Deployed with six other destroyers as screen for HMS VALIANT. HMS ILLUSTRIOUS

                                          HM Cruisers KENT. COVENTRY and CALCUTTA during operations including

                                          air attacks on Benghazi and bombardment of shore targets in support of military


               17th                    Detached with HMS NUBIAN to screen HM Cruiser KENT during bombardment

                                          of Bardia.

                                          Provided escort for tow of HMS KENT by HMS NUBIAN for passage Alexandria.

                                          (Note: HMS KENT had been damaged by torpedo from and Italian aircraft during this


               19th                    Arrived at Alexandria.

               21st                   Carried out bombardment of Sidi Barrani with HM Destroyers JANUS, JERVIS

                                         and JUNO.



                 8th                   Deployed with HM Destroyers DAINTY, DECOY, IMPERIAL, JERVIS, JANUS

                                          STUART (RAN) and VAMPIRE (RAN) as screen for HMS ILLUSTRIOUS,

                                          HMS EAGLE, HMS MALAYA, HMS RAMILLIES, HMS VALIANT, HMS

                                          WARSPITE, HM Cruisers AJAX,  GLOUCESTER, LIVERPOOL, ORION,

                                          SYDNEY (RAN) and YORK to provide cover for passage of Convoy MW2 to

                                          Malta and ME2 from Malta (Operation MB6)

               12th                   Under attacks by Italian torpedo boats which were driven off.

                                          (Note: Three were sunk. See above references).

               14th                   Returned to Alexandria with Fleet units after air attacks by carriers on Leros.



                 6th                   Deployed with HM Destroyers DECOY, DEFENDER, HASTY, HAVOCK,

                                          HEREWARD, HERO, HYPERION, ILEX, JERVIS, JUNO, JANUS and

                                          NUBIAN as screen for HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, HMS MALAYA, HMS

                                          RAMILLIES, HMS VALIANT, HMS WARSPITE, HMS AJAX,

                 6th                     HMS GLOUCESTER, HMS ORION, HMAS SYDNEY and HMS YORK

                                           to provide cover for passage of Convoy MW3 to Malta, ME3 from Malta

                                           and Convoy AN6 on passage to Suda Bay (Operation MB8)

                 9th                    Remained with screen for passage to meet HM Battleship BARHAM, HM

                                          Cruisers BERWICK, GLASGOW, HM Destroyers GALLANT, GRIFFIN

                                           and GREYHOUND off Pantelleria.

                                           (Note: These ships designated Force F were on passage from Gibraltar to

                                                        Mediterranean Fleet.

              10th                     Deployed as screen for reinforced Mediterranean Fleet and took passage

                                           to cover transit of Convoy ME3 for passage from Malta to Egypt.

              11th                     Remained with screen during air operations against Italian Fleet at Taranto

                                           (Operation JUDGEMENT).

                                           After completion of JUDGEMENT detached with HMS NUBIAN for

                                           screening of HM Cruisers AJAX, ORION and SYDNEY (RAN) during

                                           anti-shipping sweep operation against Italian shipping in Straits of

                                           Otranto  as Force X

               12th                    Sighted Italian convoy of four mercantiles escorted by Torpedo Boat

                                           NICOLA FABRIZI and an Auxiliary cruiser RAMB III off Albanian

                                           coast. Took part in consequent engagement during which the ships

                                           in the convoy were all sunk and escorting warships damaged.

                                           See above references for details.

                                           Rejoined Mediterranean Fleet and formed part of screen.

                14th                   Arrived at Alexandria with Fleet.

                24th                   Deployment with screen for  major Fleet units providing cover during

                                           passage of Convoy MW4 to be confirmed (Operation MB9)

                29th                   Mediterranean Fleet units returned to Alexandria after air attack on Tripoli



                11th                    Deployed as escort for HM Monitor TERROR during bombardment

                                            of Sollum.

                13th                    Deployed as escort for HM Cruiser COVENTRY during passage to

                                            Alexandria after being badly damaged by aircraft torpedo off the coast

                                            of North Africa.

                16th                    Deployment with screen for HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, HMS VALIANT,

                                            HMS WARSPITE, HMS AJAX, HMS GLOUCESTER, HMS ORION,

                                            HMAS SYDNEY and HMS YORK to provide Distant Cover for passage

                                            of Malta Convoys MW5 , ME5, air attacks on Rhodes and Stampalia

                                            with a bombardment of Valona to be confirmed.

                                            (Operation MC2).

                                            (Note: Fleet returned to Alexandria on 24th.)


1 9 4 1



                 3rd                      Deployed as escort for HM Cruiser CALCUTTA with HM Destroyers NUBIAN

                                            DAINTY and VOYAGER (RAN)

                 7th                      Joined HM Destroyers DAINTY, GALLANT, GREYHOUND, GRIFFIN, JERVIS

                                            JUNO and NUBIAN as screen for HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, HMS WARSPITE, HMS

                                            and HMS VALIANT of Force A to provide Distant Cover for passage of Malta

                                            convoys MW5 ½, ME5 ½ and ME6 (Operation MC4)

               10th                      Passage with Force A screen from Malta to join military convoy WS5A south of

                                            Pantelleria (Operation EXCESS)

                                            Detached from screen for tow of HM Destroyer GALLANT which had been badly

                                            damaged after hitting a mine.

                                            Under air attacks during tow operation.

                                            (Note: Escort to Malta was provided by HM Cruisers BONAVENTURE,

                                                        GLOUCESTER, SOUTHAMPTON, HM Destroyers GRIFFIN and


                                                        During absence from some Fleet units, HMS ILLUSTRIOUS was badly

                                                        damaged by German air attacks. See above references.)

               11th                      After release of tow took passage to rejoin Fleet and under heavy and sustained air

                                            attacks during which HMS SOUTHAMPTON was damaged and had to be sunk.)

               15th                      Returned to Alexandria with Fleet units which had covered passage of ME6.

               19th                      Escorted ships of Inshore Squadron for bombardment of Tobruk in support of an

                                            advance by ANZAC troops.

                                            (Note: Inshore Squadron ships involved included HM Monitor TERROR, HM

                                                        River Gunboats LADYBIRD, APHIS and GNAT 

               25th                      Deployed to cover return passage of HMS ILLUSTRIOUS into Alexandria after

                                            her temporary repair in Malta.



               19th                      Deployed with HM Cruisers AJAX, HMS GLOUCESTER, ORION and HMS

                                            NUBIAN to take troops to Malta. (Operation MC8)

               21st                      Arrived in Malta after fast uninterrupted passage.

               22nd                     Detached from escort and returned to Alexandria.

               24th                      Sailed from Alexandria with HM Australian Cruiser PERTH and HMS NUBIAN to assist

                                            HM Monitor TERROR which had been damaged during air attacks and was under tow .

                                             (Note: HMS TERROR later sank in tow and ship returned to Alexandria.)



               20th                      Deployed as screen for HM Aircraft Carrier FORMIDABLE, HMS WARSPITE,

                                            HMS BARHAM, HMS VALIANT, HM Cruisers GLOUCESTER and YORK to

                                            provide cover for passage of Malta convoy MW6 (Operation MC9).

                                            (Note: Other destroyers in screen included HM Destroyers HASTY, HEREWARD.

                                                        ILEX, JERVIS, STUART (RAN) and VENDETTA (RAN).)

               24th                      Returned to Alexandria with covering force.

               26th                      Sailed from Alexandria with HMS JERVIS, HMS JANUS and HMS NUBIAN as

                                            screen for HMS FORMIDABLE prior to Fleet deployment for interception of

                                            Italian battle squadron reported on passage to attack military convoys on passage

                                            convoys taking reinforcements for defence of Greece.

               27th                      Joined screen for HMS WARSPITE, HMS VALIANT and BARHAM deployed as

                                            Force A.

               28th                      Took part in night action against Italian squadron which included battleship

                                            VITTORIO VENETO, nine cruisers and 17 destroyers off Cape Matapan.

                                            (Battle of Matapan – See MATAPAN by SW Pack, and above references.)

               30th                      Returned to Alexandria with Mediterranean Fleet.


April                                    Nominated for detached service based at Suda Bay with HMS JERVIS, JANUS,

                                            and NUBIAN of Flotilla to carry out attacks on convoys off the North African


                                            Passage to Suda Bay

               10th                      Transferred to Malta after air threat judged to have reduced.

               15th                      Sailed with same ships from Malta after aircraft reported convoy of four ships

                                            believed to be taking troops and stores to Tripoli with an escort of three


                                            (Note: Escorts were Italian destroyers LUCA TARIGO, LAMPO and


               16th                      After radar detection of convoy took part in night action with other ships of the

                                            Flotilla against convoy and sank all ships in convoy and two of the three escorts.

                                            Before her sinking LUCA TARIGO launched torpedoes, two of which hit this

                                            ship which was totally disabled although remained afloat.

                                            41 of the ship’s company lost their lives and 168 survivors were rescued.

                                            Ship was sunk by gunfire from HMS JANUS and settled on a sandbank in

                                            position  34.56N  11.42E.

                                            For details of this highly successful night engagement see above references.

                                            Casualty List was published in the TIMES 27th May 1941


Special Note


The Italian Navy later recovered documents from the hulk. These provided information about access to the harbour at Alexandria which assisted in the planning of an attack by frogmen on  capital ships of the Mediterranean Fleet. On 18th December 1941 Charges were placed by divers on HMS VALIANT, HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH and the Norwegian tanker SAGONA which resulted in very serious damage. See references.


P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


The twelfth ship to carry this name was a TRIBAL Class, Type 81 Frigate launches at Barrow on 5th April 1962. This ship saw extensive service on foreign stations  before being placed on the Disposal List in 1981.






by Don Kindell


This convoy list has not been cross-checked with the text above






Date convoy sailed

Joined convoy as escort

Convoy No.

Left convoy

Date convoy arrived








HN 000





ON 005/1





HN 005





TC 002





HN 009A





HN 010B





HN 011





AS 001/1








(Note on Convoys)


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