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

HMS LANCE (G 87) -  L-class Destroyer
including Convoy Escort Movements

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Lively, sister-ship (Navy Photos, click to enlarge)

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L-Class destroyer ordered from Yarrow at Scotstoun, Glasgow on 31st March 1938 under the 1937 Programme and laid down on 1st March 1939 at the same time as her sister destroyer HMS LAFOREY. She was launched on 28th November 1940 as the 2nd RN ship to bear this name, introduced for a destroyer built in 1914 and sold in 1921. Build of this ship was completed on 13th May 1941. Tender cost was £440,204 which excludes items such as weapons and communications equipment supplied by the Admiralty. After a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in November 1941 this destroyer was adopted by the civil community of Bexley and Welling, Kent


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s




H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge:  On a Field barry wavy of four White and Blue, issuant from

the base a Lance Red.



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 4 1


May                   Contractors trials. Commissioned for service in 4th Destroyer Flotilla

                           Pennant Number changed to G87 from F87

            13th       Build completion and commenced Acceptance trials.

                           On completion took passage to Scapa Flow to work-up with ships of Home Fleet

                          for operational service.

            22nd      Joined escort for HM Battleship KING GEORGE V and sailed from Scapa Flow to take part

                           in search for the German battleship BISMARCK.

                          After machinery defects detached from Home Fleet units and returned to Scapa Flow.

            26th       Took passage to rejoin Home Fleet in search for BISMARCK.

            28th       Rejoined escort for HMS KING GEORGE V after the sinking of the German warship.

                           Returned to Loch Ewe.


June                   Nominated for service in Western Approaches Command with 11th Escort Group, based at


                          Deployed with HM Destroyers GURKHA and LEGION for Atlantic convoy defence in

                          NW Approaches.

            22nd      Deployed with HM Destroyer LEGION as escort for HM Aircraft Carrier FURIOUS during

                          passage in Atlantic to Gibraltar carrying aircraft for delivery to Malta (Operation RAILWAY)

             25th     Arrived at Gibraltar.

                          (Note: Aircraft were transferred to HMS ARK ROYAL for launch in western Mediterranean).

            26th      Deployed with HM Destroyers FAULKNOR, FORESTER, FURY and LEGION as screen for

                         HM Aircraft Carrier ARK ROYAL, HM Battlecruiser RENOWN and HM Cruiser HERMIONE

                          to provide cover for Malta aircraft delivery by HMS ARK ROYAL. (Phase One of RAILWAY)

             28th     Returned to Gibraltar with covering force after launch of aircraft.

             30th     Deployed with HM Destroyers FAULKNOR, FURY and FORESTER as screen for HMS RENOWN

                          and HMS ARK ROYAL as Group B to provide cover during launch of aircraft from HMS ARK

                          ROYAL (Phase two of Operation RAILWAY )

                          (Note: Aircraft were also launched from HMS FURIOUS as part of this operation and covering

                                      ships were deployed concurrently as Group A.

                                      Completion of  Phase two by Group B was delayed by a fire in HMS FURIOUS when

                                      an aircraft crashed on launch. See MALTA CONVOYS by R Woodman.)


July                  On release from service at Gibraltar took passage to Greenock to resume deployment in Western

                        Approaches with Special Greenock Escort Group.

                        Deployed for convoy defence in Western Approaches.



               2nd    Provided Local Escort for military convoy WS10 during passage from Clyde in NW Approaches

                         with HM Destroyers BROADWAY. GURKHA, LEGION and Dutch ISAAC SWEERS.

               6th     Detached from WS110 with Local Escort and returned to Greenock.

             17th     Joined military convoy WS10X with HMS GURKHA, Dutch ISAAC SWEERS and Polish destroyer

                         PIORUN for Local Escort during passage in NW Approaches.

             19th     Detached from WS10X with HMS GURKHA and took passage to join Convoy OG71 under

                         attacks by U559, U201 and U564.

                         U-Boats were unable to penetrate screen and attacks failed.

                        (See HITLER’S U-BOAT WAR by C Blair for details of the use of D/F equipment.)

                         On release from OG71 took passage to Gibraltar to join Flotilla for service in Mediterranean.

                         Deployed at Gibraltar for convoy defence and patrol



                         Gibraltar deployment in continuation.

               8th     Escorted HM Trawler LADY SHIRLEY into Gibraltar after she had sunk U111 in position

                         WSW of Teneriffe.

                         (Note: 44 Germans were rescued and the crew of  HMS  LADY SHIRLEY was only nine

                                      uninjured. See U-BOATS DESTROYED by P Kemp.)

                         After return deployed with HM Destroyers FORESTER, GURKHA (ii) and LIVELY as screen

                         for HM Aircraft Carrier ARK ROYAL and HM Cruiser HERMIONE during Malta aircraft

                         delivery (Operation STATUS I).

               9th     Returned to Malta with same ships after launch of HURRICANE aircraft.

              10th    Deployed with HMS ZULU, HMS GURKHA (ii) and HMS LIVELY as screen for HM Battleship

                         NELSON and HMS ARK ROYAL as Force A to provide cover during Malta aircraft delivery

                         (Operation STATUS II).

              14th    Returned to Gibraltar with Ships of Force A after launch of aircraft from HMS FURIOUS and

                         carrying out series of exercises in preparation for planned Malta relief operation.

              24th    Deployed with HM Destroyers DUNCAN, GURKHA (ii), LEGION, LIVELY, FURY, Dutch

                         destroyer ISAAC SWEERS, Polish destroyers ORP GARLAND and PIORUN as screen for Force

                         A comprising HM Battleships NELSON, RODNEY, PRINCE OF WALES and HMS ARK ROYAL

                         to provide cover for passage to Sicilian Narrows of Convoy GM2 destined for Malta under escort

                         of Force X (Operation HALBERD)

               27th   Under air attacks during which HMS RODNEY was hit by an aircraft torpedo but remained in

                         covering force at a reduced speed.

                         Remained west of Narrows when Force X detached with mercantiles and remained in area to

                         provide cover during passage of Convoy MG2 and returning Force X ships to Gibraltar.

               28th   Under threat of air attacks but these were deterred by effective use of aircraft away from Force A

               29th   Met returning warships and under threat of submarine attack.

                         (Note: HMS NELSON was detached and returned to Gibraltar with HMS PRINCE OF WALES,

                                     HM Cruisers KENYA and HMS SHEFFIELD (Force X), HM Destroyers LAFOREY,

                                     LIGHTNING, ORIBI, FORESIGHT, FORESTER (Force X) and HMS FURY (Force A).

               30th   Under attack by Italian submarine ADUA which was sunk by HMS LEGION and HMS GURKHA

                         (ii) in position 37.10N  00.56E by depth charge attacks.



                1st    Returned to Gibraltar with remained ships of Force X and Force A

                         Began maintenance period at Gibraltar.

              12th    Rejoined Flotilla on completion.

                         Nominated for service in Malta as part of Force K with HM Destroyer LIVELY, HM Cruisers

                         AURORA and PENELOPE.

              19th    Took passage from Gibraltar with HMS LIVELY to join HMS AURORA and HMS PENELOPE.

                         (Note: HM Battleship RODNEY, HM Aircraft Carrier ARK ROYAL and HM Cruiser HERMIONE

                                     belonging to Force H based at Gibraltar also joined to provide cover for Malta aircraft  

                                     delivery by HMS ARK ROYAL (Operation CALLBOY.)

               21st   Commenced service in Force K at Malta



                8th    Sailed from Malta with HMS LIVELY to join HMS AURORA and HMS PENELOPE for

                         interception of supply convoy on passage in central Mediterranean.

                         (Note: The movement of this convoy had been disclosed by decryption of Italian signals.)

                9th    Engaged convoy which consisted of seven ships escorted by Italian destroyers FULMINE,

                         EURO, MAESTRAL, LIBECCIO, ORIANO and GREGALE covered by cruisers TRENTO

                         and TRIESTE with a screen of four destroyers which failed to provide defence.

                         All the mercantiles and FULMINE were sunk..

                         (See THE NAVAL WAR IN THE MEDITERRANEAN by J Greene and A Massignini ,)

              23rd    Sailed from Malta with Force K following aircraft sighting of small convoy on passage from

                         Taranto to Benghazi.

              24th     Sighted German supply ships MARITZA and PROCIDAS with escort of two Italian torpedo

                          boats. Took part in destruction of both mercantiles which were set on fire sank. in surface

                          gun aaction. For details see above references.

                          Withdrawn from service for docking on return to Malta.


December        (Note: Did not take part in interception of ammunition ship ADRIATICO off Benghazi or

                         tanker IRIDO MANTOVANI on 1st December. See above reference.)

                         Resumed service in Force K after docking.

             16th     Deployed with HMS AURORA, HMS PENELOPE, HMS NEPTUNE, HM Destroyers

                         KANDAHAR, LIVELY and  HAVOCK of Force K for escort of HM Supply Ship

                         BRECONSHIRE into Malta after passage from Alexandria escorted from Egypt by cruisers

                         and destroyers of the Mediterranean Fleet.

             17th     Remained with HM Cruiser NAIAD and the other escorts from Alexandria to improve defence

                         of HMS BRECONSHIRE against attack by  Italian battle squadron known to be in the area

                         escorting an Italian military convoy

                         (See above reference and THE BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by D Macintyre,)

                         Took part in brief engagement with Italian ships which withdrew under threat of night torpedo

                         attack. (First Battle of Sirte.)

             18th     Passage to Malta with ships of Force K escorting HMS BRECONSHIRE

                         After refuelling and replenishment took passage from Malta with ships of Force K to intercept

                         the convoy whose passage had been covered by the Italian battle squadron before engagement.

             19th     Assisted in rescue operations after Force K ships ran into newly laid minefield off Tripoli

                         Escorted HMS EXETER back to Malta with HM Destroyer HAVOCK.

                         (Note: HMS NEPTUNE and HMS KANDAHAR were sunk with both HMS AURORA and

                                     HMS PENELOPE badly damaged. For details see above references and Naval Staff



1 9 4 2



               6th     Deployed with HMS LIVELY, HMS JAGUAR and HMS HAVOCK as Force C to escort

                         HMS BRECONSHIRE from Malta.

                8th    After meeting Force B which was escorting HM Supply Ship GLENGYLE for passage into

                         Malta from Alexandria returned to Malta with Force C as escort for final stage of journey.

                         (Operation MF2)

              10th    Arrived in Malta with Force C and HMS GLENGYLE.

              17th     Sailed from Malta with HMS PENELOPE, HMS JAGUAR, HMS LIVELY, HMS SIKH and

                          HMS ZULU to meet Convoy MW8 from Alexandria escorted by ships of Force B.

                          (Operation MF3)

               18th    Escort of MW8 ships exchanged and took return passage to Malta.

               19th    Arrived in Malta with MW8 ships.

                          (Note: One of the four ships in MW8 had been detached and only three got to Malta.)

                                       This was the last convoy to arrive in Malta from Egypt until the siege had been lifted.

               25th    Deployed with HMS PENELOPE, HMS LIVELY, HMS LEGION, HMS MAORI and HMS

                          ZULU as Force K and sailed from Malta escorting Convoy ME9 for initial part of passage to

                          Alexandria. (Operation MF4).

                          (Note: ME9 comprised HMS GLENGYLE and ss ROWALLANCASTLE

                26th   When escort of ME9 was transferred to Ships from Alexandria deployed as Force B, transferred

                          to Force B and took passage with them as escort for ME9 to Alexandria.

                          (Note: HM Destroyer KINGSTON transferred to Force K in exchange.)

                28th   Arrived at Alexandria with Force B

                          (Note: Force B comprised HM Cruisers NAIAD, DIDO, EURYALUS, CARLISLE, HM Destroyers

                                      GRIFFIN, KELVIN, KIPLING, JAGUAR, HASTY, ARROW and Dutch destroyer ISAAC



February           Transferred to 22nd Destroyer Flotilla.

            12th       Deployed with HMS CARLISLE, HM Destroyers AVONVALE, ERIDGE and HEYTHROP as Close

                           Escort for Convoy MW9A to Malta (Operation MF5)

                           (Note: Convoy MW9A comprised ss CLAN CAMPBELL and ss CLAN CHATTAN and was followed

                                      later that day by Convoy MW9B which had only one ship ss ROWALLAN CASTLE

                                      with separate Close Escort.)

             13th      Two sections of Convoy MW9 merged and came under air attack during which ss CLAN CAMPBELL

                          was badly damaged and detached for passage to Tobruk with two destroyers

             14th     Under air attacks during which ss CLAN CHATTAN was hit and had to be abandoned after

                          catching fire and was sunk by torpedo from HM Destroyer DECOY.

                          On arrival of Force K remaining ship, ss CLAN CAMPBELL, transferred for escort into Malta

                          Joined HMS PENELOPE having been relieved in MW9 escort by HM Destroyers DECOY and

                         FORTUNE from Malta.

                         Took passage to Malta with HMS LEGION and HMS PENELOPE.

              15th    Under further air attacks during which ss ROWALLAN CASTLE was hit and badly damaged.

                         Remained as escort with HM Destroyer LIVELY during tow of ss ROWALLAN CASTLE by

                         HM Destroyer FURY until threat of surface attack and lack of air cover made it necessary for

                         the mercantile to be sunk by torpedo from HMS LIVELY

                         (Note: Some Oerlikon weapons were salvaged from ss ROWALLAN CASTLE by boarding

                                     party. See MALTA CONVOYS.)

                         Took passage to Malta with HMS PENELOPE and HMS LEGION to rejoin Force K.

                         (Note: HMS LIVELY SIKH and ZULU took passage to rejoin ships of Force B and return to


                                     For full details of this disastrous operation see above references.)

              16th    Withdrawn for service in Force K for repair by HM Dockyard Malta.


March               Docked for repair, expected to complete by end April.

                          (Note: Malta was under constant air raids many of  which were aimed at the dockyard area.



                5th    Hit by bomb whilst in dry dock and sustained serious damage including partial submergence

                         and being removed from blocks

                 9th   Sustained further bomb damage and work suspended.


S p e c i al   N o t e


Wreck was subsequently salved and towed to Chatham for full survey to establish extent of repair required. Ship was found beyond economical repair and declared a Constructive Total Loss. HMS LANCE was placed on the Disposal List in 1944. Sold for demolition by TW Ward she was towed to the breaker’s yard at Grays, Essex where she arrived in June that year.      






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








OG 066





TC 012





OG 071





OG 072













(Note on Convoys)


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revised 5/8/11
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