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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2004

HMS ZULU (L 18) -  Tribal-class Destroyer
including Convoy Escort Movements 

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Zulu (Navy Photos, click to enlarge)

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TRIBAL-Class Fleet Destroyer ordered from Stephens of Govan on 10th March 1935 under the 1935 Build Programme. The ship was laid down on 10th August 1936 and launched on 23rd September 1937 as the 2nd RN warship to carry this name. It had previously been used by a destroyer built in 1909 and seriously damaged in action in 1916. Build was completed on 7th September 1938 at a contract price of £351,135. Because of speedy construction achieved, she was nominated as Lead Ship for this Class. After a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in March 1942 this ship was adopted by the civil community of Ruislip, Middlesex now part of the London Borough of Hillingdon.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s

DOVER PATROL 1914-16 - NORWAY   1940 - ATLANTIC 1941 - BISMARCK Action 1941 - MALTA CONVOYS 1941-42 - LIBYA 1941 - SIRTE  1942 - MEDITERRANEAN 1942

H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field Barry wavy of six white and blue. in front of two Zulu

spears, a Zulu shield Proper



S u m m a r y   o f   P r e –W a r   S e r v i c e


1 9 3 8


August                    Build completion delayed by late delivery of Gunnery equipment


September               Contractors trials

          6th                  Commissioned for service in 2nd TRIBAL Destroyer Flotilla, Mediterranean Fleet.

                                 Build completed and commenced Acceptance Trials


October                    Passage to Portland on completion of trials.


November               On completion of work-up for operational deployment took passage to Mediterranean to join


        18th                  Joined Flotilla in Malta.

                                 (Note: Flotilla was to comprise HM Destroyers AFRIDI, COSSACK, GURKHA, MAORI,

                                             MOHAWK, NUBIAN*,  SIKH and ZULU. Ships marked * had not yet joined from build.)


 December               Deployed for Flotilla exercises and Fleet duties.

                                 Pennant Number for visual signalling purposes changed to Fl 8


1 9 3 9


January                    Flotilla duties in continuation

                                  ( Note: Some ships in Flotilla were deployed for Non-intervention Patrol in western

                                            Mediterranean to prevent passage of arms to the belligerents in the Spanish civil war


February                  Took part in joint Mediterranean and Home Fleet exercises based at Gibraltar with Flotilla,


March                      Flotilla deployment for Fleet and Flotilla exercises


April                         2nd TRIBAL Destroyer Flotilla re-designated 4th Destroyer Flotilla.

          5th                  Visited Palma, Majorca on return passage to Malta

May                          Deployed for Fleet Exercise and visits programme,




August                    Took part in special exercise with Fleet units in Aegean arranged by CinC Mediterranean Fleet

                                  in anticipation of war with Italy. Returned to Alexandria to take up war station after shortened

                                  visit to Istanbul.



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              Deployed for contraband control to enforce blockade of shipping carrying goods destined for


                                 Nominated with Flotilla for return to UK for Home Fleet duties.


October                    Passage to UK for service in North Sea for convoy defence and interception of enemy ships

                                 on passage to and from German ports.


November                North Sea deployment in continuation.

                                  (Note: Incidence of defects including leaks in feed water tanks required withdrawal from use

                                             for repair. This particular type of defect was common to the Class and related to

                                             problems with turbine blades. These were considered due to structural stress when

                                             steaming at high speed in rough weather. See BRITISH DESTROYERS by E March.)


December                 Passage to Rosyth for repair.

          5th                   Taken in hand for repair by HM Dockyard.


1 9 4 0


January                     Further defect work on turbines and fit of degaussing equipment transferred to commercial

                                  shipyard in Leith

         23rd                 Work commenced at Leith.


February                   Under repair at Leith.


March                       Resumed operational service with 4th Destroyer Flotilla on completion of post refit trials.

                                  Deployed for screening of HM Cruisers GALATEA and AURORA with other Home Fleet

                                  destroyers as part of Rosyth Striking Force


April                         Deployed with Rosyth Striking Force.

           7th                 Took passage from Rosyth with HM Destroyers AFRIDI,  GURKHA, SIKH, MOHAWK,

                                 COSSACK, KASHMIR, KELVIN, Polish destroyers ORP GROM, ORP BLYSKAW1C and

                                 ORP BURZA as screen for HMS AURORA and HMS GALATEA during search for German

                                 warships north of position 58.30N 3.30E.

           8th                 Joined Home Fleet ships with Rosyth Striking Force and deployed with destroyer screen during

                                 continuation of search operation.

           9th                 Detached from Fleet with HMS COSSACK to escort HM Destroyers KELVIN and KASHMIR

                                 which had been damaged in collision

                                 (For details of the Home Fleet deployments between 7th and 10th April 1940 see NAVAL

                                 OPERATIONS OF THE CAMPAIGN IN NORWAY (HMSO).).

         10th                 Passage from Scapa Flow to rejoin Home Fleet screen.

         11th                 Deployed with Home Fleet in support of planned landings in Norway (Operation RUPERT/R4)

          15th                Carried out reconnoitre of Narvik area and Rombaks Fjord with HM Destroyer FAULKNOR.

         24th                 Took part in bombardment of Narvik with HM Battleship WARSPITE, HM Cruisers AURORA

                                 ENTERPRISE and EFFINGHAM. For details see above reference.


May                         Norwegian support and convoy defence in continuation.

                                 Pennant Number for visual signalling changed to G18.

        10th                  Deployed with HM Cruiser CALCUTTA to intercept ss NORD NORGE which had been

                                 taken over by German military to take troops to Mo area

         11th                 On arrival at Hennes found enemy troops had already landed but sank ss NORD NORGE with

                                 HMS CALCUTTA.

                                 For details of the disastrous operations off Norway see THE DOOMED EXPEDITION by

                                 Jack Adams, NARVIK by D MacIntyre, CARRIER GLORIOUS by J Winton and above


                                 (Note: Stores for landing party still on board.)

                                 Passage to Mo to embark soldiers who had escaped from Hennes.
         12th                Escorted HMS PENELOPE to Clyde from Skelfjord with HM Cruisers COVENTRY,

                                CALCUTTA, HM Destroyers ISIS, CAMPBELL and WITCH.

         18th                Resumed Home Fleet duties.


June                         Deployed with Home Fleet at Scapa Flow for screening duties.

          7th                 Part of screen for HM Battlecruisers RENOWN, REPULSE, HM Cruisers SUFFOLK and

                                NEWCASTLE with HM Destroyers KELVIN, MAORI, FORESTER and FOXHOUND

                                during search in NW Approaches for commerce raiders reported on passage to attack

                                Atlantic convoys.

          8th                 Return passage to Scapa Flow with HMS KELVIN as escort for HMS RENOWN after an

                                unsuccessful search.

         10th                Retained at Scapa Flow for screening duties.

                                (Note: Two capital ships of Home Fleet were kept in Scapa Flow for anti-invasion duties in

                                            Channel or North Sea.

             11th            Deployed with HM Destroyers ELECTRA, ANTELOPE, DIANA, ACHERON and HIGHLANDER

                                 as escort for HMS RENOWN and ARK ROYAL during planned attacks against German warships

                                 at Trondheim.

                                 (Note: Although initially cancelled a subsequent attack was launched but it was unsuccessful.)

             13th             Escorted damaged destroyer HMS ELECTRA to Troon following a collision with HMS

                                 ANTELOPE during screening duties.

          22nd               Deployed for Home Fleet Flotilla duties at Scapa Flow.


July                          Home Fleet deployment in continuation.

                                 Nominated for refit.

                                 Passage to Tyne from Scapa Flow on release for refit

          29th                Taken in hand for refit by Swan Hunter shipyard in Newcastle.


July                          Under refit



            9th                Resumed Home Fleet Flotilla duties based at Scapa Flow on completion of post repair and refit


         30th                 Detonated acoustic mine and sustained significant structural damage.


October                    Passage to Forth for repair.

                                 Taken in hand by HM Dockyard, Rosyth


November                Under repair,




1 9 4 1




         18th                 Resumed Flotilla duties at Scapa Flow on completion of post repair trials.


February                  Home Fleet screening and Flotilla duties in continuation.


March                      Detached for escort of minelayers.

         11th                Escorted HM Auxiliary Minelayers AGAMEMNON, PORT QUEBEC, MENESTHEUS and

                                 SOUTHERN PRINCE for minelay in Northern Barrage with HM Destroyer COSSACK.

                                 (Operation SN68B)


April                        Home Fleet screening and patrol duties with Flotilla in continuation.


May                         Detached for Atlantic convoy defence.

         22nd               Joined military convoy WS8B as Local Escort during passage in NW Approaches with HM

                                Cruiser CAIRO, HM Destroyers COSSACK, BRIDGE, MAORI, OTTAWA (RCN), SIKH,

                                RESTIGOUCHE (RCN), and Polish ORP PIORUN.

         26th                Detached from escort of Atlantic convoy to relieve escort for H M Battleship KING

                                GEORGE V during search for German Battleship BISMARCK.

         27th                Carried cut Torpedo attacks on BISMARCK with destroyers of 4th Flotilla.

                                (For details see PURSUIT by Ludovic Kennedy and BATTLESHIP BISMARCK by

                                Mullenheim- Rechberg)


June                         Deployed for Home Fleet Flotilla duties.

           2nd               Passage to Clyde for Atlantic convoy escort.

           3rd                Joined military convoy WS9A as Local Escort during passage in NW Approaches with HM

                                Cruiser CAIRO, HM Armed Merchant Cruiser AUSONIA, HM Destroyers COSSACK,

                                MAORI, OTTAWA (RCN), RAMSAY, RESTIGOUCHE (RCN), SIKH, VANQUISHER

                                and WINCHELSEA.

           7th                Detached from WS9A and returned to Clyde with Local Escort.

         10th                Passage to Falmouth for investigation into propulsion machinery defects causing excessive


         12th                Taken in hand by commercial shipyard.

                                 (Note: Refit work was also undertaken and including replacement of mainmast by a new

                                           structure to suit fit of aerial for wireless direction finding outfit. 20mm single Oerlikon

                                           mountings were fitted on bridge

                                           wings, Radar Type 285 for main armament gunnery fire control installed and depth

                                           charge throwers re-sited on quarter deck.)


July                         Under refit


August                    Passage to Scapa Flow to rejoin Home Fleet for duties in NW Approaches.

                                Nominated for transfer to Mediterranean to rejoin Flotilla.

           9th                Deployed for Home Fleet duty on completion of post repair and refit trials.

         31st                 Joined military convoy WS11 in Clyde for Local Escort during passage in NW Approaches with

                                 HM Cruiser CAIRO, HM Destroyers COSSACK, HIGHLANDER, LEGION,

                                 LIVELY, WINCHELSEA, Polish ORP GARLAND, ORP PIORUN and Dutch ISAAC




          2nd                 Detached from WS11 with Local Escort and took passage to Clyde.

          5th                  Deployed with HM Destroyer SIKH for escort of HM Auxiliary Minelayers MENESTHEUS,

                                 PORT QUEBEC and SOUTHERN PRINCE during minelay in Northern Barrage.

                                 (Operation SN5A-For details of all minelaying activities see the Naval Staff History


                                 Resumed Flotilla duties with Home Fleet on completion.

                                 On completion took passage to Gibraltar to join Flotilla.

         10th                 Deployed at Gibraltar with Force H.

         13th                 Took part with HM Destroyers GURKHA, LANCE and LIVELY as screen for HM Battleship

                                 NELSON and HM Aircraft Carrier ARK ROYAL in Force B during Malta aircraft delivery

                                 (Operation STYLE II)

                                 (Note: Aircraft were launched from HMS FURIOUS deployed in Force A as well as from HMS

                                             ARK ROYAL. See MALTA CONVOYS by R Woodman)

        24th                    Joined Force X at Gibraltar as screen for HM Cruisers KENYA, EDINBURGH,

                                   SHEFFIELD, HERMIONE and EURYALUS with HM Destroyers COSSACK,

                                   FORESIGHT, FORESTER,

                                   FARNDALE, HEYTHROP, ORIBI, LAFOREY and LIGHTNING to escort Malta supply

                                   convoy during passage through Sicilian Channel to Grand Harbour.

                                   (Operation HALBERD).

.       28th                    Returned to rejoin Force H west of Narrows after convoy arrived.

        30th                    Deployed with Force H at Gibraltar on return from HALBERD.



        16th                    Part of screen for HM Battleship RODNEY, HMS ARK ROYAL and HMS HERMIONE

                                   with HM Destroyers COSSACK, FORESTER, FORESIGHT, FURY, LEGION and SIKH to

                                   cover  Malta aircraft delivery by HMS ARK ROYAL.

                                   (Operation CALLBOY - This also included transit of HM Cruisers AURORA, PENELOPE,

                                   HM Destroyers LANCE and LIVELY to form Force K in Malta and escort two mercantiles.)

         19th                   Resumed Force H duties en return to Gibraltar.



         10th                   Part of screen for HM Battleship MALAYA, HM Cruiser HERMIONE, HM Aircraft Carrier

                                   ARK ROYAL and HM Aircraft Carrier FURIOUS with H M Destroyers LAFOREY,

                                   LIGHTNING, SIKH, LEGION, GURKHA and Dutch destroyer ISAAC SWEERS to cover

                                   aircraft delivery to Malta, by HMS ARGUS (Operation PERPETUAL I).

         13th                   Detached to escort HMS MALAYA to Gibraltar after HMS ARK ROYAL was torpedoed by

                                   U81during return passage

                                   Returned to assist HMS LAFOREY which was standing by the stricken HMS ARK ROYAL.

         14th                   Took passage to Gibraltar when ARK ROYAL sank during tow.

                                   (Note: A second aircraft delivery, Operation PERPETUAL II was cancelled).


December                   Transferred to 22nd Destroyer Flotilla at Alexandria.

                                   Passage to Eastern Mediterranean.


1 9 4 2



           4th                   Deployed with major units for escort of HM Supply Ship GLENGYLE taking oil supply

                                   to Malta and return of HM Supply Ship BRECONSHIRE to Alexandria. (Operation MF2).

           8th                   Detached and deployed with Force K based in Malta.

         18th                   Deployed with HM Destroyers SUCH, LANCE, LIVELY and JAGUAR to provide escort for

                                   Convoys MW8A and 8B for final stags of passage to Malta. (Operation MF3).

                                   Under sustained air attack

.        25th                   Deployed with HMS PENELOPE, HMS Destroyers MAORI, LANCE, LEGION and LIVELY

                                   as escort for HM Supply Ship GLENGYLE and mv ROWALLAN CASTLE returning to

                                   Alexandria from Malta.

         26th                   Returned to Malta when convoy escort transferred to Mediterranean Fleet ships.

                                   (Operation MF4 - See above references).


February                     Deployed at Malta with Force K.

           7th                   Carried out patrol to interception supply shipping to North Africa with HM Destroyer


                                   Two small freighters were sunk west of Sicily.

         13th                   Escorted HMS BRECONSHIRE, ss CITY OF CALCUTTA and ss CLAN FERGUSON for

                                   initial stage of passage to Alexandria with HMS PENELOPE, HM Destroyers SIKH,

                                   LEGION, LIVELY, DECOY and FORTUNE (Convoy ME10).

         14th                   Met HM Cruiser CARLISLE and escort for Convoy MU9 from Alexandria.

                                   Under heavy air attacks during which ss ROWALLAN CASTLE was damaged.

                                   Took ss ROWALLAN CASTLE in tow but after further bomb damage this ship had to be

                                   sunk by HMS LIVELY.

                                   (Note: No ships of MW9 arrived in Malta - see above reference).

         20th                   Transferred to Mediterranean Fleet and returned to Alexandria.


March                         Mediterranean Fleet deployment in continuation.

          9th                    Part of screen for HM Cruisers NAIAD, DIDO and EURYALUS with HM Destroyers

                                   JERVIS, KIPLING, KELVIN, LIVELY, SIKH, HASTY, HAVOCK and HERO during

                                   unsuccessful search for Italian cruiser damaged by torpedo attack.

         11th                   Took part in rescue operations when HM Cruiser NAIAD was sunk by torpedo from U565

                                   north of Mersa Matru.

         20th                   Deployed as screen for HM Cruiser CARLISLE with HM Destroyers SIKH, LIVELY,

                                   HERO, HAVOCK and HASTY escorting Convoy MW10 to Malta covered by the 15th

                                   Cruiser Squadron.

         22nd                  After interception of convoy by enemy force including the battleship LITTORIO, three

                                   cruisers and a destroyer escort, joined 15th Cruiser Squadron ships.

                                   Took part in brilliant handled tactical night engagement resulting in withdrawal of the

                                   greatly superior Italian fleet.

                                   (2nd Battle of Sirte - See above references and Naval Staff History).

                                   (Note: Although convoy was able to avoid destruction when diverted with an escort during

                                              this action it was later under heavy air attacks and the two ships which did arrive ware

                                              sunk after arrival. Only 5,000 of the 26,000 tons loaded were landed.

                                   (See ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY, MEDITERRANEAN MAELSTROM by

                                   GC Cornell and MALTA CONVOYS.).

                                   Sustained structural damage due to high speed manoeuvring during this action


April                           Taken in hand for repair on return to Alexandria


May                            Resumed operational duties on completion of repair and deployed for  Mediterranean Fleet

                                    screening, patrol and support in Eastern Mediterranean


June                            Nominated for escort of Malta relief convoy (Operation VIGOROUS).

         12th                   Deployed with HM Cruisers CLEOPATRA, DIDO, HERMIONE, EURYALUS.

                                   ARETHUSA, COVENTRY, NEWCASTLE and BIRMINGHAM with HM Destroyers

                                   NAPIER, NESTOR, NORMAN, NIZAM, JERVIS, KELVIN, JAVELIN, PAKENHAM,


                                   EXMOOR, AIREDALE, BEAUFORT, HURWORTH, TETCOTT, ALDENHAM and

                                   HOTSPUR as escort for convoy from Alexandria (Operation VIGOROUS)

                                   (Note: Pre WW1 battleship HMS CENTURION was disguised as a KING GEORGE V

                                               Class Battleship to enhance the apparent strength of this escort.)

         14th                   Under heavy and sustained air attacks.

                                   Threat of interception by Italian Fleet.

                                   Attacked by E-Boats during darkness. HM Cruiser NEWCASTLE and HM Destroyer

                                   HASTY torpedoed.

         15th                   After series of conflicting Instructions from shore and heavy expenditure of AA ammunition

                                   coupled with loss and damage to warships involved. Operation abandoned.

                                   Returned to Alexandria.

                                   (For full details of this disastrous operation and its ill direction from shore see above


         30th                   Deployed with HM Destroyers SIKH, CROOME and TETCOTT in support of military

                                   operations in Syria (Operation EXPORTER).

                                   (Note: Assistance in rescue work with HMS ZULU after HM Submarine Depot Ship MEDWAY

                                              was sunk off Alexandria by U732 to be confirmed.).


July                            Support of military operations off Syria in continuation.


August                       Military support and anti-submarine patrol with aircraft off Syria.

          4th                   Shared credit with HM Destroyers SIKH. CROOME, TETCOTT and aircraft "M" of RAF

                                  221 Squadron for sinkirg of U372 in position SW of Haifa.

                                  (Note: This submarine had sunk HM Submarine Depot Ship MEDWAY on 30th June).


September                 Deployed with Mediterranean Fleet for patrol and convoy defence.

                                  Nominated for support of assault landings at Tobruk (Operation AGREEMENT)

        11th                   Embarked detachment of Royal Marines.

        12th                   Passage to Tobruk for landings with HM Destroyers SIKH, ALDENHAM, BEAUFORT,

                           .      EXMOOR and HURWORTH.

        13th                   During attempts to land Royal Marines came under fire from shore batteries,

        14th                   Took HMS SIKH in tow after she had been seriously damaged by shore fire.

                                  HMS SIKH sank during towing operation.

                                  Under heavy air attacks during which HMS COVENTRY was set on fire and had to be


                                  Sank HMS COVENTRY.

                                  Air attacks continued and ship was disabled after sustaining major damage.

                                  Taken in tow by HM Escort Destroyer HURSLEY but sank during passage to Alexandria

                                  in position 32.00N 28.56E.

                                  Twelve members of the ship’s company were killed, 24 Missing and one injured.

                                  For details of this ill-planned operation which met with determined and opposition see

                                  MASSACRE AT TOBRUK by P Smith and above references).

                                  Casualty List was published on 7th October 1942.


P o s t  W a r   N o t e s


This name was carried forward when given to a TRIBAL-Class Type 81 Frigate on 3rd July 1962 launched at Govan in July 1962 by Alex, Stephens at Govan, Glasgow. This ship commissioned on 17 April 1964 and served in the Fleet until 1979. Although placed on the Disposal List in 1981 she was brought forward for further service in 1982 after the Falklands conflict and Paid-off two years later. Placed on the Sales List she was sold in Indonesia and renamed MARTHA KRISTINA TIYAHARU.






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


















ON 022/1





HN 022





ON 024/1





HN 025





TC 004





FS 0258





OB 297





WS 008B










AT 031/M





MW 011








(Note on Convoys)


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