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

HMS PETARD (G 56) -  P-class Destroyer
including Convoy Escort Movements 

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Petard (Navy Photos/Kimberley Lindsey, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

PALADIN-Class Fleet Destroyer ordered from Vickers Armstrong, .Newcastle en 2nd October 1939 with 2nd Emergency Flotilla. She was laid down on 26th December 1939 at the same time as sister ships HMS PENN and PORCUPINE. The ship then was intended to be named PERSISTENT but this was changed to PETARD as part of a rationalisation of names for the Flotilla. She was launched as HMS PETARD on 27th March 1941 as the 2nd RN ship to bear the name, previously used by a WW1 destroyer sold in 1921. Her build was completed on 15th June 1942 at a cost of £408,200 excluding the cost of guns and communications equipment supplied by the Admiralty. After a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in March 1942 she was adopted by the civil community of Paddington, London.


B a t t l e  H o n o u r s


JUTLAND 1916 - MEDITERRANEAN 1942-43 - SICILY  1943 - SALERNO 1943 - AEGEAN  1943


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field, a Petard Gold



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 2


June                 Contractor's sea trials and commissioned for service in 12th Destroyer Flotilla.

          15th        Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials.

                          On completion of trials and storing took passage to Scapa Flow for work-up with Home Fleet prior to

                          joining Flotilla.


July                   Nominated for service in Indian Ocean with Flotilla.

          29th         Joined military convoy WS21 with HM Destroyers CATTERICK, LEDBURY and HM Auxiliary

                          Merchant Cruisers RANPURA for Ocean Escort to Freetown from Clyde.


August            Passage with escort for WS21.

          15th       Deployed as Ocean Escort with HM Cruiser HAWKINS and HMS CATTERICK during passage to

                         Cape from Freetown.

          27th       Detached en arrival at Capetown and made independent passage to Durban.


September      Transferred to join Mediterranean Fleet at Alexandria

                         (Note: Transfer was made to reinforce Mediterranean Fleet after losses during defence of Crete.

                                 See Naval Staff History.)

            3rd        Escorted ss SAMARIA and VOLENDAM from Durban to join WS21.

                          Deployed with HM Armed Merchant Cruiser RANPURA as Ocean Escort for WS21.

           10th       When WS21 divided into Aden and Bombay sections joined WS21A as escort for five mercantiles

                          during passage to Aden.

           16th       Detached from WS21A when dispersed and made independent passage to Alexandria.

           22nd      Arrived at Alexandria and joined Flotilla for Fleet duties including anti-submarine

                          patrols and convoy defence.


October            Deployed with Flotilla in eastern Mediterranean.

           30th        After U559 was reported on surface 70 miles north of Nile Delta sailed from Port Said with HM

                           Destroyers PAKENHAM, DULVERTON and HURWORTH to relieve HM Destroyer HERO.

                           On arrival took part in submarine search operation with the other 3 ships and WELLESLEY

                           aircraft of 47 Squadron RAF .

                           After submarine located, carried series of joint depth charge attacks lasting nearly 10 hours. When

                           U559 was forced to surface after night fall, engaged with main 4in and secondary armament.

                          As range closed main armament could not be used.

                          Seaboat launched with a Boarding Party when U559 crew seen to abandon. Lieutenant Tony

                          Fasson RN and Able Seaman Colin Grazier swam to U559 and entered hull.

                          They recovered moveable parts of ENIGMA coding machine, associated documentation and some

                          Charts which they handed to Tommy Brown, a NAAFI Canteen Assistant who also had swum to the


                          From a position at the bottom of conning tower he made three trips carrying vital items to seaboat

                          lying alongside.

                          As seacocks had been opened before crew abandoned, U559 was flooding rapidly and sank quickly

                          with the two courageous men still inside and unable to overcome the inrush of water.

                           (Note: Tragically they went down with the submarine

.                          Their outstanding gallantry in obtaining this invaluable information was posthumously

                            recognised by the award to each of the George Cross.

                            Brown was awarded the George Medal and promoted to Senior Canteen Assistant.

                            He was not discharged despite his age when entering NAAFI service in 1941.

                            Sadly he later died in April 1945 when he was trapped in a fire at his family home in North

                            Shields.  Survivors from U559 were rescued.)


November        Took the ENIGMA material to Haifa, escorted by HMS DULVERTON.

                          (Note: This enabled enemy encrypted signal traffic to be read by Bletchley Park codebreakers

                               and resulted in allied convoy traffic being diverted away from known U-Boat

                               concentrations during the 1943 Atlantic battles thus saving the lives of many seamen.

                               For details see GCHQ by Nigel West, BREAKING THE ENIGMA by David Kahn,

                               Admiralty Fleet Orders, .Report No 5 by P Wescombe and J Gallehawk (BLETCHLEY

                               TRUST) and SEEK AND STRIKE by W Hackmann.)

           16th       Joined HM Cruiser EURYALUS, HM Destroyers JAVELIN, JERVIS, KELVIN , NUBIAN and

                          PALADIN as escort for Convoy MW13 comprising 4 ships for passage to Malta.
                          (Operation STONEAGE).

           17th       Under air attacks during which HMS ARETHUSA was hit and sustained major damage.

                          Provided assistance in fighting fires on HMS ARETHUSA.

           18th       Towed HM Cruiser ARETHUSA stern first back to Alexandria after torpedo damage during air

                          attacks on MW13 convoy.

                          Deployed as escort for HMS ARETHUSA after tug took over tow.

                          (Note: This convoy provided sufficient stores to last until the New Year and so raised the siege of

                                the island).



             2nd       Deployed with HM Destroyers PAKENHAM and Greek VASILISSA OLGA as screen for HM

                           Cruiser ORION to supplement escort of Convoy MW14 to Malta from Port Said.

                           (Operation PORTCULLIS/MH1)

             4th        Convoy escort joined by Force K from Malta.

             5th        Arrived in Malta with Convoy MW14.

                          (Note: MW14 comprising four mercantiles was the last Malta relief convoy)

             7th        Sailed from Malta as escort for Convoy ME11 to Port Said with H M Cruiser ORION, HM

                          Destroyers PAKENHAM, ALDENHAM, BELVOIR, CROOME, DULVERTON, EXMOOR

                          HURSLEY, TETCOTT, Greek VASILISSA OLGA and Greek PINDOS.

                          (Note: Convoy comprised 9 ships).

             9th        Remained with ME11 when HMS ORION, HM Destroyers ALDENHAM, CROOME,

                          DULVERTON, EXMOOR and HURSLEY detached to join Convoy MW15 on passage to

                          Benghazi from Port Said.

           11th        On arrival at Alexandria with ME11 deployed for anti-submarine patrol.

           14th        Deployed with Greek Destroyer VASILISSA OLGA to escort HM Submarine P35 into


           15th        Carried cut depth charge attacks Italian submarine UARSCIEK with Greek destroyer

                          VASILISSA OLGA and forced submarine to surface.

                          Sustained some damage to bow structure in collision with submarine

.                         Boarding Party removed documentation and took submarine in tow.

                          (Note: Details of Italian minefields were recovered)

                          Submarine later sank but Prize crew escaped.       

           23rd        Sustained slight damage at Benghazi during air attack.


1 9 4 3


January             Under refit and repair in Alexandria.

                          On completion detached for escort of military convoy to Indian Ocean.



            4th         Part of escort for rms QUEEN MARY, rms AQUITANIA, French liner ILE DE FRANCE,

                          Dutch liner NIEUW AMSTERDAM and QUEEN OF BERMUDA.

                          (Note: These ships were carrying ANZAC troops through Red Sea on passage to Australia

                                      after their recall from Middle East for defence of Australia,)

                                      HM Destroyers PAKENHAM, ISIS, DERWENT, HERO and Greek destroyer

                                      VASILISSA OLGA were also part of escort.  (Operation PAMPHLET).)

                          Detached off Socotra

            8th         Passage to rejoin Mediterranean Fleet.

                          Transferred to Malta and escorted two convoys to Tripoli.


March                Convoy defence and interception of enemy convoys in central Mediterranean.



           15th         Sailed with HMS PALADIN and Greek VASILISSA OLGA from Malta to join Convoy

                           MW23 as escort during final stage of passage into Malta from Egypt

                           (Operation POKER).

                           Joined HM Destroyers HURWORTH, CROOME and Greek destroyer KANARIS escorting

                           MW23 and later came under air attacks after air cover had left.

           17th         Deployed for exercises off Malta.

           19th         Sailed from Malta with HM Destroyers HURSLEY, HURWORTH, CROOME., Greek

                           destroyers KANARIS and VASILISSA OLGA as escort for Convoy ME20 during initial

                           part of passage   to Egypt

           20th         After detaching from ME20 escorted tanker OVULA to Malta and on arrival carried

                           put unsuccessful interception patrol in Gulf of Hammamet.

           22nd        Escorted ss DESTRO into Malta.

           29th         Deployed for further interception duties which were uneventful.


April                   Interception and convoy defence based at Malta in continuation

.         16th          Attacked convoy off Sicily with HI Destroyers NUBIAN and PALADIN.

          24th          Damaged in air attack when leaving Grand Harbour for patrol.

                           Sustained several casualties in strafing attacks.

          30th          Sank Italian transport FAUNA off Sicily with HI Destroyer NUBIAN.



            1st           Deployed with HM Destroyers JERVIS and NUBIAN for unsuccessful patrol.

            4th           Sank Italian torpedo boat PERSEO and transport CAMPOBASSO off Kelebia, Tunisia with

                            HM Destroyers PALADIN and NUBIAN.

            5th           Carried cut patrol with HM Destroyers ISIS, and VASILISSA OLGA in Souse area.

          7th           Commenced series of patrols off Tunisian coast to intercept evacuation craft.

                          (Operation RETRIBUTION. See above references).

          12th           Carried out bombardment of Pantellaria with HMS ORION.

          31st            Provided naval gunfire support prior to landings in Pantellaria with HM Cruiser ORION and

                            HM Destroyer TROUBRIDGE.

                             (Operation CORKSCREW).



            1st            Bombardment of Pantellaria repeated with HM Cruiser PENELOPE and HMS PALADIN.

          10th            Escorted HM Landing Ship, Infantry LARGS with HMS PALADIN and HM River Gunboat

                              APHIS for passage to Pantelleria carrying 1st British Division.

          16th             Under air attack during patrol off Pantalleria and sustained slight damage from near miss.

          18th             Damaged during air raid at Bizerta when again near missed by three bombs which caused some


          23rd.            Took passage to Malta for repair.


July                       Resumed Flotilla duties based at Malta.

                              Nominated for support pf planned landings in Sicily (Operation HUSKY)

            8th             Sailed from Malta for HUSKY

          11th             Bombarded Favignani 

          12th             Part of screen for HM Battleships KING GEORGE V. HOWE, HM Cruisers DIDO and

                              and SIRIUS with HM Destroyers JERVIS, PANTHER, PATHFINDER and PENN to cover the

                              allied landings in Sicily (Operation HUSKY. See ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY

                              by Corelli Bamett and Naval Staff History for details).

          17th             Embarked General Eisenhower for passage to assault area to review progress of landings in

                              BARK area at Avola and Pachino.

                              Bombarded Catania with HM Battleship WARSPITE.

           21st             Carried cut bombardment of positions at Cape Colone, near Croone, Sicily with HM Cruisers

                              AURORA, PENELOPE, HM Destroyers TROUBRIDGE, TUMULT, TYRIAN, QUILLIAM,

                              OFFA and Polish PIORUN.


August                  Deployed at Bizerta with HI Destroyers JERVIS, PATHFINDER and PALADIN for support

                              of military operations.

            9th             Took part in bombardment of Castello di Stabea, near Naples and Vibo Valentia on west coast

                               of Calabria

                               (Operation ANNOYANCE).

          14th             Escorted HM Cruisers SIRIUS and DIDO with HM Destroyer PANTHER to bombard Scalea

                               south east of Naples.

          15th             Detached to carryout unsuccessful search for unidentified ship and rejoined.

                               After replenishment deployed with same ships for bombardment of Vibo Valentia.

                              During passage took part in attack on convoy and sank one escort.

          16th             Returned to Bizerta after bombardment.

          21st             Escorted HM Cruiser UGANDA with HM Destroyers RAIDER and LOOKOUT during sweep

                              in central Mediterranean from Spartivento to Rizinto

                              Took part in bombardment of Italian mainland.

          28th             Deployed with HM Destroyers PANTHER and WISHART to escort HM Battleships HOWE,

                              KING GEORGE V during exercises off Algiers in preparation for planned landings

                              at Salerno.

           31st            Bombarded Italian coast between Reggio Calabria and Pessaro with H M Battleships NELSON.

                              and RODNEY, HM Cruiser ORION, HM Destroyers OFFA, QUAIL, QUILLIAM, TARTAR

                              QUEENBOROUGH, TROUBRIDGE, TYRIAN and Polish destroyer PIORUN prior to

                              landings on Italian mainland (Operation BAYTOWN) .



            3rd             Deployed with VASILISSA OLGA to join H M Escort Carriers BATTLER and STALKER

                              for escort of Convoy UGF10.

            5th             Passage to Malta on release from UGF10.

            9th             Deployed with screen for HMS HOWE, HMS KING GEORGE V, HMS NELSON and

                              HMS RODNEY to cover planned allied landings at Salerno.

                              (Operation AVALANCHE) and the surrender of Italian warships at Taranto.

                              (Operation SLAPSTICK) For details see above references).

           15th            Part of screen for HM Battleships WARSPITE and VALIANT during the bombardment of

                               targets at Salerno. During an air attack on bombarding ships, was hit by a shell fired during

                               the defensive barrage by assembled ships.

                               (Note: Some sources record that this was a 6in shell from HMS WARSPITE.

                                           Casualties included two personnel killed.)

                                           Damage was caused to cabling.

           19th             Escorted aircraft carriers for part of their return passage to Gibraltar with HM Destroyers

                               JERVIS, PALADIN and PATHFINDER.

           22nd            Returned to Malta.

           28th             Deployed at Taranto for support and screening duties.


October                   Transferred to Aegean area to assist in defence of Dodecanese islands.

            4th               Took passage from Taranto with HM Destroyer PENN to Aegean. 6th

            6th               Deployed as screen for HM Cruisers AURORA and DIDO during interaction operation in

                                Kaso Channel to destroy invasion craft.

                                (Note: The two cruisers collided during this operation).

             7th              Joined HMS PANTHER in Alexandria to screen HM Cruiser CARLISLE during a sweep

                                of Scarpanto Straits Operation CREDENTIAL).

            8th               After unsuccessful search retired to position SE of Rhodes.

            9th               Patrolled off Cos and Leros with CREDENTIAL Force without success.

                                Under air attacks during which HMS PANTHER was sunk and HMS CARLISLE damaged

                                and disabled. Searched for survivors from HMS PANTHER.

                                (Note: Air cover had been late in arrival)

                                            HMS CARLISLE was towed to Alexandria but beyond economic repair.

                                            For details see WAR IN THE AEGEAN by P Smith and E Walker).

          21st               After laying up in Turkish waters carried cut offensive sweep with HM Destroyers

                                FAULKNOR south of Levitha whilst HMS DULVERTON carried cut bombardment.

          23rd              Deployed for transport of troops to Leros with HM Destroyer ECLIPSE.

          24th              After HMS ECLIPSE was mined assisted in rescue of troops and ship's company.

                                (Note: 42 survivors were taken on board.)

          25th              Returned to Alexandria.

          29th              Embarked vehicles and personnel at Alexandria for passage to Leros.

                               Sailed with HM Destroyers BEAUFORT and BELVOIR to meet HM Cruise AURORA.

          30th              Under heavy air attacks on passage and HMS AURORA hit.

                               Continued passage after HMS AURORA returned to Alexandria with HMS BEAUFORT.

                               Air attacks by Ju88 maintained and ships diverted to Casteloriso.


November               Support in defence of Leros in continuation.

            3rd              Sank three invasion craft.

          11th              Bombarded Calino and Levitha  with HM Destroyer ROCKWOOD and Polish destroyer ORP


                               Towed damaged destroyer HMS ROCKWOOD to Turkish waters after Glider Bomb attack.

.                              For details see above references and A SAILORS WAR by S Lombard Hobson).


December               Eastern Mediterranean deployment in continuation.

                                Maintenance and leave period at Haifa.


1 9 4 4



          10th              Transferred to Indian Ocean for service in Eastern Fleet with HM Destroyers PENN

                                PALADIN and PATHFINDER

          15th              Took passage to Kilindini as escort for HM Battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH, VALIANT

                                and HM Aircraft Carrier ILLUSTRIOUS.

          28th               Joined 11th Destroyer Flotilla in Eastern Fleet as 16th Division with the other

                                destroyers transferred from the Mediterranean.


February                 Nominated for escort of military convoy from Kilindini to Ceylon.

                                 Passage to Mombasa with HMS PALADIN.

                                 (Note: HMS PENN was unable to take part as she was under repair.).

                                 Arrived at Kilindini

            5th               Sailed from Kilindini as escort for Convoy KR8 during passage to Colombo with HM

                                Cruiser HAWKINS, HM Destroyer PALADIN, HM Cutters LULWORTH, SENNEN and

                                HM Corvette HONESTY.

                                (Note: Convoy comprised five troop transports carrying army and naval personnel including

                                            WRNS, ATS and QARNNS)

            9th                HMS LULWORTH, HMS SENNEN and HMS HONESTY detached and returned to


                                 (Note: These ships had insufficient fuel capacity to remain for whole voyage.)

           12th               Convoy under attack by Japanese submarine I27.

                                 Troopship KHEDIVE ISMAIL was hit by two torpedoes and sank very quickly.

                                 (Note: KHEDIVE ISMAIL was carrying 1,115 personnel of whom only 214 were rescued.)

                                 After ASDIC contact carried cut depth charge attack on I27 with HMS PALADIN.

                                 (Note: Some these fell amongst the survivors and caused many deaths.

                                             The current Admiralty policy required attacks to be made on submarines regardless

                                             of danger to survivors in the water, the Captain was thus not blamed for the deaths of

                                             any of the survivors from KHEDIVE ISMAIL.)

                                 Submarine surfaced and was then engaged by surface gunfire from both destroyers.

                                 (Note: Decision by captain of HMS PALADIN to ram was not countermanded in time to

                                             prevent a collision and as a result HMS PALADIN sustained serious damage and was

                                             totally disabled.

                                             Some sources state that failure to sink 127 was due to lack of suitable ammunition for

                                             this type of engagement.

                                 Despite normal procedure, an attack by single torpedo firing was carried out.

                                 (Note: Six of the eight  torpedoes carried failed to hit the submarine which was at a range of

                                             1,000 yards.

                                             Fortunately the 7th missile hit and sank 127.

.                                Embarked survivors from KHEDIVE ISMAIL rescued by HMS PALADIN and personnel

                                  not required for damage control and repair.

                                  Took HMS PALADIN in tow and commenced passage to Addu Atoll.

           13th                Tow parted on arrival but re-established to allow entry.

                                  HMS PALADIN was secured alongside tanker BRITISH LOYALTY.)

                                   (Note: For full details of this disaster and the destruction of 127 see PASSAGE TO

                                               DESTINY by Brian Crabb which includes names of all casualties and the survivors.

                                               WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO) also gives more information.)

           26th                 Escorted Convoy KR9 to Addu Atoll.


March                        Escorted Convoy BA66A from Colombo to Aden and returned as cover for the French

                                   battleship RICHELIEU on passage to join Eastern Fleet.



           18th                 Part of Eastern Fleet Task Force 69 with ships of Flotilla as destroyer screen for HM

                                   Battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH, VALIANT, French battleship RICHELIEU to cover air

                                   attacks by HM Aircraft Carrier ILLUSTRIOUS and US aircraft carrier USS SARATOGA

                                   on airfields at Sabang, Sumatra

                                   (Operation COCKPIT - For details of operations in Indian Ocean see OPERATION

                                   PACIFIC by E Gray, WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO) and THE FORGOTTEN FLEET by

                                   J Winton.)


May                            Eastern Fleet deployment in continuation.

to                                 Withdrawn from operations for refit in UK.




            2nd                  Took passage to UK via Indian Ocean for long refit.


September                   Paid off on arrival at Portsmouth and taken in hand for refit.

to                                 (Note: Work carried out included replacement of single 4in mountings in B and

December                               X positions by twin mountings. A-mounting was removed.

                                                Lattice design foremast  fitted to suit new radar aerial fit


1 9 4 5


January                       Under refit




March                          Post refit trials and re-commissioned for service in Eastern Fleet on completion.

           20th                   Arrived at Scapa Flow to work-up with Home Fleet.



                                     Withdrawn from work-up for repair to propeller.

            6th                    Taken in hand for repair at line shipyard.



          27th                    On completion of repair prepared for return to complete work-up.



            2nd                   Resumed work-up at Scapa Flow.

          11th                    Under repair in Clyde and prepared for passage to Ceylon.

          25th                    Took passage for Mediterranean with call at Gibraltar.



            8th                    At Alexandria and carried out exercises in eastern Mediterranean.

          31st                    Took passage from Alexandria for Ceylon.



            8th                    Arrived at Colombo for service in 33rd Division of 10th Destroyer Flotilla.

                                     (Note: Flotilla also included m Destroyers TARTAR, NUBIAN, PALADIN, and PENN.

                                     Prepared for operational service in support of planned landings in Malaya.

                                     (Note: Operation ZIPPER had been postponed due to administrative problems in UK

                                                  relating  to release of personnel In the Far East, under the PYTHON Scheme and US

                                                  insistence on delay. See THE FORGOTTEN FLEET by J Winton, WAR WITH

                                                  JAPAN (HMSO and the  Final Report by Supreme Commander SEAC (HMSO).)

                                     Passage to Malacca Strait for support of ZIPPER.

             9th                   Arrived at Trincomalee

          17th                    Sailed from Trincomalee



            1st                    Provided cover for minesweeping operations.

            2nd                   Present at formal surrender at Penang

            6th                    Passage to beaches.

            9th                    Present at landings on MORIB Beach for support duties.

          15th                    Deployed at Singapore for patrol and support of military operations in Dutch East Indies.


P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS PETARD returned to Ceylon with the Flotilla. On release from service at Singapore, she remained in the East Indies Fleet and was transferred to the 6th Destroyer Flotilla. Visits were paid to ports in India before her  return to UK in May 1946. On arrival at Chatham she joined the Local Flotilla for a few weeks before being paid off and reduced to Reserve status at Harwich in September 1946. The ship was laid up until 1953 when transferred to Chatham. In May 1953 after selection for conversion to' a Type 16 A/S Frigate she was refitted at Belfast. Completed in December May 1955 she was again put in Reserve and laid up at Devonport after her equipment had been preserved in Southampton. She was re-commissioned in September 1960 for service at Plymouth to replace HM Frigate ULYSSES in the Local Flotilla until April 1961 when refitted at Chatham. On completion in June 1962 she rejoined the Reserve Fleet. Placed on the Disposal List in 1966 the ship was sold to BISCO on 18 May 1967 for demolition by McLellan, at Bo’ness on the Forth. The ship arrived in tow to be broken upon 2 June that year


S p e c i a l   N o t e


HMS PETARD had an almost unrivalled war service, matched only by the few destroyers which were in commission in 1939 and survived WW2. She was involved in sinking submarines of the German, Italian and Japanese navies as well as playing a significant role in defence of Malta convoys, and the valiant efforts to hold the Aegean Islands.







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








MW 013





MW 014





ME 012





KR 008





KR 009





CJ 019B





BA 066A








(Note on Convoys)





NAAFI Canteen Assistant Brown was awarded the George Medal for his part in capturing Enigma material on 30 October 1942. Click her for more information and his memorial in North Shields.

With thanks to Janet Brown of the North East War Memorials Project, 29 July 2012



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