Battle of Dakar

The Battle of Dakar, also known as Operation Menace, was an unsuccessful attempt in September 1940 by the Allies to capture the strategic port of Dakar in French West Africa (modern-day Senegal). It was hoped that the success of the operation could overthrow the pro-German Vichy French administration in the colony, and be replaced by a pro-British Free French one under General Charles de Gaulle.

Background

At the beginning of World War II, the French fleet in the Mediterranean was to have countered the Italian Navy, thereby leaving the British Royal Navy free to concentrate on the German warships in the North Sea and Atlantic.

After the defeat of France and the conclusion of the armistice between France and Nazi Germany in June 1940, there was considerable confusion as to the allegiance of the various French colonies. Some, like Cameroon and French Equatorial Africa, joined the Free French, but others, including the North African colonies, French West Africa, Syria and Indochina, remained under Vichy control. The possibility that the French fleet might come under German control led the British to attack the French Fleet at Mers-el-Kebir on 3 July 1940. While the British had eliminated a potential threat, the attack discouraged other units from joining the Free French and Allies.

GoreeGun
Rangefinder of the French coastal battery of 240 mm from the Danton-class pre-dreadnoughts, at Gorée Island, Dakar

De Gaulle believed that he could persuade the French forces in Dakar to join the Allied cause. Much would be gained by this. Another Vichy French colony changing sides would have great political impact. Also the gold reserves of the Banque de France and the Polish government in exile were stored in Dakar; and the port of Dakar was far superior as a naval base to Freetown, British Sierra Leone, which was the only Allied port in the area.[3]

General Spears and General de Gaulle
De Gaulle with Maj-Gen Sir Edward Spears, Churchill's personal representative to the Free French, en route for Dakar in September 1940 aboard the Dutch liner, Westernland

Thus the Allies decided to send a task force to Dakar: an aircraft carrier (HMS Ark Royal), two battleships (HMS Resolution and HMS Barham), five cruisers, ten destroyers, and several transports carrying 8,000 troops (the 10st Brigade of the Royal Marines and the 13th demi-brigade of the French Foreign Legion). Their orders were to negotiate with the French governor for a peaceful occupation, but if this was unsuccessful, to take the city by force.

The Vichy forces present at Dakar included the unfinished battleship Richelieu, one of the most advanced warships in the French fleet, then about 95% complete. She had left Brest, France on 18 June, just before the Germans reached the port. Before the establishment of the Vichy government, HMS Hermes, a British aircraft carrier, had been operating with the French forces in Dakar. Once the Vichy regime was in power, however, Hermes left port but remained on watch, and was joined by the Australian heavy cruiser HMAS Australia. Aircraft from Hermes attacked Richelieu and had struck her once with a torpedo. The French ship was immobilized but was still able to function as a floating gun battery.

A force of three cruisers, comprising Gloire, Georges Leygues, and Montcalm, and three destroyers had left Toulon in southern France for Dakar just a few days earlier. Gloire was slowed by mechanical troubles and was intercepted by Australia which ordered the French cruiser to sail for Casablanca. The other two cruisers and the destroyers outran the pursuing Allied cruisers and reached Dakar safely. Three Vichy submarines and several lighter ships were also at Dakar.

Battle

On 23 September, the Fleet Air Arm dropped propaganda leaflets on the city of Dakar. Then Free French aircraft flew off Ark Royal and landed at the airport, but their crews were immediately taken prisoner. A boat with representatives of de Gaulle entered the port but was fired upon. At 10:00, Vichy ships trying to leave the port were given warning shots from Australia. As these ships returned to port, Vichy-controlled coastal batteries opened fire on Australia. Their guns, which had a range of 14 km (8.7 mi), were 240mm/50 Modèle 1902 gun that had come from the Vergniaud, a French semi-dreadnought battleship that had been scrapped in the 1920s.[4] An engagement between the British fleet and the batteries continued for several hours. In the afternoon Australia intercepted and fired on the Vichy destroyer L'Audacieux, setting her on fire and causing her to be beached.

Also in the afternoon, an attempt was made to set Free French troops ashore on a beach at Rufisque, to the south-east of Dakar. The attack failed due to fog and heavy fire from strongpoints defending the beach.[5] General de Gaulle declared he did not want to "shed the blood of Frenchmen for Frenchmen" and called off the assault.

During the next two days, the Allied fleet continued to attack the coastal defences and the Vichy forces continued to defend them. Richelieu was hit by two 15-inch shells from Barham. On the second day of action, guns 7 and 8 (in turret number 2) of Richelieu failed on the first round. The following day, the crews were switched and main turret number 1 was used. Propellant charges reconditioned from charges left by the battleship Strasbourg in Dakar, during winter 1939, were used but these gave a significant reduction in range and caused problems of fire control. Over the two days Richelieu fired a total of 24 rounds. No hits were recorded by Richelieu.

During these engagements, two Vichy submarines (Persée and Ajax) were sunk, and the destroyer L'Audacieux damaged.

The Allied fleet also suffered damage: Resolution was torpedoed by the submarine Bévéziers, and Barham was hit by two shells from the coastal defence batteries which had been manned by crew from the No 1 main turret of Richelieu. The cruisers Australia and Cumberland were also damaged.

Overall, the Battle of Dakar did not go well for the Allies. The Vichy forces did not back down. Resolution was so heavily damaged she had to be towed to Cape Town. During most of this conflict, bombers of the Vichy French Air Force (Armée de l'Air de Vichy), based in North Africa, bombed the British base at Gibraltar. On 24 September about 50 aircraft dropped 150 bombs while on 25 September about 100 aircraft dropped 300 bombs on the harbour and dockyards. Most of the bombs missed. Some damage was caused, but few casualties were suffered. Only the British armed trawler HMT Stella Sirius was sunk by direct hits.[6] Finally, the Allies withdrew, leaving Dakar and French West Africa in Vichy hands.

Aftermath

The effects of the Allied failure were mostly political. De Gaulle had believed that he would be able to persuade the Vichy French at Dakar to change sides, but this turned out not to be the case, a result that damaged his standing among the Allies. Even his success in the Battle of Gabon two months later did not wholly repair this damage. He would have to content himself with the much less important and economically developed French Equatorial Africa as the main Free French territory for the time being.

English novelist Evelyn Waugh participated in the expedition as an officer in the Royal Marines. The battle has a role in his semi-autobiographical novel Men at Arms, which forms the first part of his Sword of Honour trilogy.

Order of battle

Allies

Vichy French

Georges-Leygues-1
French cruiser Georges Leygues leading the 4th Cruiser Division, which was sent to Africa, on September 1940

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Marcussen, Jørgen (4 December 2010). "Handels- og Søfartsmuseets Årbogsindeks". Maritim og historisk information (in Danish). Retrieved 20 January 2011.
  2. ^ a b Lindbæk, Lise (1969). Norway's new saga of the sea: the story of her merchant marine in World War II. Exposition Press, p. 204. ISBN
  3. ^ Lippman, David H., "Debacle at Dakar", WWII History, July 2011, pp. 48–55.
  4. ^ Couhat, Jean Labayle (1974). French warships of World War I. Ian Allan. p. 28.
  5. ^ Churchill, Winston Spencer (1949). The Second World War: the Finest Hour. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. p. 489.
  6. ^ Naval-History.net

Further reading

  • Churchill, Winston. The Second World War, Vol 2 Book II Chapter xxiv `Dakar`.
  • Thomas, Martin. "The Anglo‐French divorce over West Africa and the limitations of strategic planning, June‐December 1940." Diplomacy and Statecraft 6.1 (1995): 252-278.
  • Williams, John, The Guns of Dakar: September, 1940 (Heinemann Educational Books, 1976).

External links

Coordinates: 14°40′43″N 17°25′15″W / 14.6786°N 17.4207°W

240mm/50 Modèle 1902 gun

The 240mm/50 Modèle 1902 gun was a heavy naval gun and Coastal defense gun of the French Navy.

The type was used on the Danton-class battleships as secondary battery, mounted in six twin turrets.

The guns were later used as coastal artillery after the ships were broken up, and served during the Second World War, notably in the Battle of Dakar. One open-top twin gun turret is preserved at the battery Castel Gorée, where it has been installed after 1934 to the older coastal defence armoured turret.

Albert Messiah

Albert Messiah (23 September 1921, Nice – 17 April 2013, Paris) was a French physicist.

He studied at the Ecole Polytechnique.

He spent the Second World War in the French Resistance: he embarked June 22, 1940, in Saint-Jean-de-Luz to England and participated in the Battle of Dakar with Charles de Gaulle in September 1940. He joined the Free French Forces in Chad, and the 2nd Armored Division in September 1944, and participated in the assault of Hitler's Eagle's nest at Berchtesgaden in 1945.

After the war, he went to Princeton to attend the seminar of Niels Bohr on quantum mechanics. He returned to France and introduced the first general courses of quantum mechanics in France, at the University of Orsay and joined the newly created atomic energy agency, the Commissariat à l'énergie atomique (CEA) where he stayed until the end of his career.

His classic textbook on quantum mechanics (Dunod 1959) has trained generations of French and world physicists.

He was the director of the Physics Division at the CEA and professor at the Pierre and Marie Curie University.

He was honored as Commandeur de la Légion d'honneur of France (2012).

Attack on Mers-el-Kébir

The Attack on Mers-el-Kébir (3 July 1940) also known as the Battle of Mers-el-Kébir, was part of Operation Catapult, a British naval attack on French Navy ships at the naval base at Mers El Kébir on the coast of French Algeria. The bombardment killed 1,297 French servicemen, sank a battleship and damaged five ships, for a British loss of five aircraft shot down and two crewmen killed.

The attack by air-and-sea was conducted by the Royal Navy after France had signed armistices with Germany and Italy that came into effect on 25 June. Of particular significance to the British were the seven battleships of the Bretagne, Dunkerque and Richelieu classes, the second largest force of capital ships in Europe after the Royal Navy. The British War Cabinet feared that France would hand the ships to the German Navy (Kriegsmarine), giving the Axis assistance in the Battle of the Atlantic or Battle of the Mediterranean. Admiral François Darlan, commander of the French Navy, promised the British that the fleet would remain under French control but Winston Churchill and the War Cabinet judged that the fleet was too powerful to risk an Axis take-over.

After the attack at Mers-el-Kébir and the Battle of Dakar, French aircraft raided Gibraltar in retaliation and Marshal Philippe Pétain, who had become the prime minister of France on 16 June, severed diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom. The attack created much rancour between France and Britain but also demonstrated to the world that Britain intended to fight on. The attack is controversial and the motives of the British are debated. In 1979, P. M. H. Bell wrote that "The times were desperate; invasion seemed imminent; and the British government simply could not afford to risk the Germans seizing control of the French fleet... The predominant British motive was thus dire necessity and self-preservation".

The French thought they were acting honourably in terms of their armistice with Nazi Germany and were convinced they would never turn over their fleet to Germany. On 10 July, Marshal Pétain was installed as leader of the new French State. French grievances festered for years over what they considered a betrayal by their former ally. On 27 November 1942, after Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of Morocco and French Algeria had begun, the French navy foiled a German attempt to capture the rest of the French fleet (Operation Anton) by scuttling their ships in Toulon Harbour.

E and F-class destroyer

The E and F-class destroyers were a group of 18 destroyers built for the Royal Navy during the 1930s. The ships were initially assigned to the Home Fleet, although they reinforced the Mediterranean Fleet during the Italian invasion of Abyssinia of 1935–36 and enforced the Non-Intervention Agreement during the Spanish Civil War of 1936–39. After the beginning of the Second World War in August 1939, the E-class ships were mostly assigned to escort duties under the Western Approaches Command, while the Fs were assigned to escort the ships of the Home Fleet. Between them they sank four German submarines through March 1940 while losing only one ship to a submarine.

Most of the sisters were committed to the Norwegian Campaign in April–June where they helped to sink one German destroyer and a submarine. The two E-class minelayer-destroyers helped to evacuate Allied troops from Dunkirk in May–June. Most of the Fs were sent to Gibraltar around the end of June and formed part of Force H where they participated in the attack on Mers-el-Kébir. Two months later they participated in the Battle of Dakar where they sank three Vichy French submarines. During the rest of 1940, they sank one Italian submarine while losing two ships to mines and torpedoes. Force H covered a number of convoys to Malta in 1941, during which they sank one German submarine and lost one destroyer to bombs. Three E-class ships began escorting convoys to Russia in late 1941 and three others were transferred to the Eastern Fleet.

Two of these latter were sunk by Japanese forces in early 1942 and two Fs were transferred to replace them. Many of the Fs reinforced the Arctic convoy escorts during which they fought several engagements with German destroyers and sank one German submarine. Several were detached to escort Malta convoys, during which one ship was lost. Several ships were converted to escort destroyers in late 1942–early 1943 for duty in the North Atlantic and many others were assigned there for extended periods of time where they sank two German submarines. Three of these ships were later transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy. Four of the Es and Fs were sent to the Mediterranean Fleet in mid-1943 to support the invasion of Sicily and remained there into 1944. One of these was transferred to the Royal Hellenic Navy that same year and remained in Greek service until 1956. The ships that remained in the Atlantic sank two German submarines in 1944 before they were recalled to the UK in May to prepare for the invasion of Normandy. There they sank two submarines, although another F-class ship was lost to a mine. The ships mostly returned to the North Atlantic after Overlord or began long refits in Canada.

The three Canadian ships were used to transport troops back to Canada after the end of the war before being broken up in 1947. Most of the British ships were broken up around the same time, although one ship was sold to the Dominican Navy in 1949 and served until 1968.

French West Africa in World War II

In World War II, French West Africa (Afrique occidentale française, AOF) was not the scene of major fighting. Only one large-scale action took place there: the Battle of Dakar (23–25 September 1940). The region remained under the control of Vichy France after the fall of France (25 June 1940) and until the Allied invasion of North Africa (8–16 November 1942). French Gabon, the only colony of French Equatorial Africa not to join Free France after the armistice, fell to invading Free French Forces from the neighbouring colonies after the Battle of Gabon (8–12 November 1940), further isolating West Africa.

Unlike in metropolitan France, the French Colonial Troops in West Africa were not reduced after the 1940 armistice and the region was little interfered with by the Axis powers, providing a valuable addition to the forces of Free France after it had been liberated. Before this happened, there was some tension between the French and the neighbouring British colonies, particularly Sierra Leone, leading to the formation of the Freetown Defence Flight in June 1941, but no military incidents took place.

French battleship Richelieu

Richelieu was a French fast battleship, the lead ship of the Richelieu class. Built as a response to the Italian Littorio class, the Richelieus were based on their immediate predecessors of the Dunkerque class with the same unconventional arrangement that grouped their main battery forward in two quadruple gun turrets. They were scaled up to accommodate a much more powerful main battery of eight 380 mm (15 in) guns (compared to the 330 mm (13 in) guns of the Dunkerques), with increased armor to protect them from guns of the same caliber. Richelieu was laid down in 1935 and was launched in 1939, just before the outbreak of World War II in Europe. As war with Germany became increasingly likely, work on the ship was rushed to prepare her for commissioning in April 1940.

Completed just days before the Germans won the Battle of France in June, Richelieu fled to Dakar in French West Africa to keep her under French control. There, she came under repeated British attacks that had been intended to either compel the battleship to join the Free French Naval Forces or sink her; these included during Operation Catapult in July 1940 and the Battle of Dakar in September. Damaged in both attacks, the ship was slowly repaired before eventually turning over to Free French control after the Allied invasion of North Africa in November 1942. After being sent to the United States for repairs and an extensive modernization, the ship served with the British Home Fleet in early 1944 before being deployed to the Eastern Fleet for operations against the Japanese in the Indian Ocean. These included several bombardment operations and in May 1945 she was present during the Battle of the Malacca Strait, though she was too far away to engage the Japanese ships before they were sunk.

Richelieu was part of the force that liberated Singapore following the Japanese surrender in September, and she thereafter operated in French Indochina as part of the initial effort to restore French colonial rule. Recalled to France in December 1945, she was repaired and modernized slightly in 1946. The ship saw relatively limited peacetime training in the immediate postwar years and in 1952, she was removed from active service for use as a gunnery training ship. In 1956, she was placed in reserve and was thereafter used as a stationary training vessel and barracks ship until 1967, when the French Navy decided to discard her. Sold for scrap in 1968, she was broken up in Italy from 1968 to 1969.

French destroyer L'Audacieux

L'Audacieux ("The audacious one") was one of six Le Fantasque-class large destroyers (contre-torpilleur, "Torpedo-boat destroyer") built for the Marine Nationale (French Navy) during the 1930s. The ship entered service in 1935 and participated in the Second World War. When war was declared in September 1939, all of the Le Fantasques were assigned to the Force de Raid which was tasked to hunt down German commerce raiders and blockade runners. L'Audacieux and two of her sister ships were based in Dakar, French West Africa, to patrol the Central Atlantic for several months in late 1939. They returned to Metropolitan France before the end of the year and were transferred to French Algeria in late April 1940 in case Italy decided to enter the war. She screened French cruisers several times as they unsuccessfully hunted for Italian ships after Italy declared war in June.

After most of French Equatorial Africa had declared for Free France in August, L'Audacieux and two of her sisters escorted a force of cruisers sent to Dakar in September to intimidate the colonies into rejoining Vichy France. The British and Free French sent a force to persuade French West Africa to join the Free French and the Battle of Dakar began when the garrison rejected their entreaties. The Vichy French destroyers were initially given a defensive role, but L'Audacieux was ordered to conduct a reconnaissance mission. She encountered an Australian cruiser at close range and drifted onto the shore after her power was knocked out. The ship was salvaged in early 1941 and was slowly repaired enough to reach French Tunisia for permanent repairs in mid-1942. Captured when the Germans occupied Tunisia six months later, she was sunk when the Germans evacuated in May 1943. Refloated once more at the end of the year, she was deemed not worth repairing and was cannibalized for spare parts. Her wreck was scrapped in 1947.

French destroyer Le Hardi

Le Hardi ("the bold one") was the lead ship of her class of destroyers (torpilleur d'escadre) built for the French Navy during the late 1930s. The ship was completed during the Battle of France in mid-1940 and her first mission was to help escort an incomplete battleship to French Morocco only days before the French signed an armistice with the Germans. She played a minor role in the Battle of Dakar in September, mostly laying smoke screens. Le Hardi helped to escort one of the battleships damaged by the British during their July Attack on Mers-el-Kébir, French Algeria, back to France in November. She was reduced to reserve in mid-1942.

When the Germans occupied Vichy France after the Allies landed in French North Africa in November 1942 and tried to seize the French fleet, the destroyer was one of the ships scuttled to prevent their capture. She was salvaged by the Regia Marina (Royal Italian Navy) in 1943, but was captured by the Germans after the Italian armistice in September. Unrepaired, the ship was scuttled by them in 1945 in Italy and later scrapped.

French submarine Ajax (1930)

Ajax was a Redoutable-class submarine of the French Navy launched in 1930 at Brest, France. It participated in the Second World War, first on the side of the Allies from 1939 to 1940 then on the side of the Axis for the rest of the war. On 23 September 1940, during the Battle of Dakar she was badly damaged by depth charges from HMS Fortune (H70) and was then scuttled.

HMS Bridgewater (L01)

HMS Bridgewater (L01) was the lead ship of her class of sloops built for the Royal Navy in the 1920s. Completed in 1929, the ship was initially assigned to the China Station and was transferred to the Africa Station in 1935. During the Second World War, Bridgewater spent most of her time on convoy escort duties off the West African coast although she did play a minor role in the Battle of Dakar in 1940. She was replaced in that role before the end of the war by more modern ships and was relegated to training duties in the UK. The ship was reduced to reserve shortly after the end of the war and was sold for scrap in 1947.

HMS Devonshire (39)

HMS Devonshire, pennant number 39, was a County-class heavy cruiser of the London sub-class built for the Royal Navy in the late 1920s. The ship spent most of her pre-World War II career assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet aside from a brief tour with the China Station. She spent the first two months of the Second World War in the Mediterranean until she was transferred to the Home Fleet and became flagship of a cruiser squadron. Devonshire took part in the Norwegian Campaign in mid 1940 and evacuated much of the Norwegian Government in June. Several months later, she participated in the Battle of Dakar, a failed attempt to seize the Vichy French colony of Senegal in September. The ship remained in the South Atlantic afterwards and supported Free French efforts to take control of French Equatorial Africa in addition to searching for German commerce raiders.

Devonshire returned home in early 1941 and briefly rejoined the Home Fleet, during which time she escorted several aircraft carriers as they attacked German forces in Norway and Finland and covered the first convoy to the Soviet Union. Shortly afterwards, the ship was sent to the South Atlantic where she sank the Q-ship Atlantis. Devonshire was then assigned to the Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean and supported the Allied invasion of Madagascar in mid-1942. She then spent the next year escorting convoys before returning home to begin a lengthy refit. After it was completed in early 1944, the ship escorted various aircraft carriers for the rest of the war as they attacked targets in Norway.

After the German surrender in May 1945, she sailed to Norway and escorted two surrendered German cruisers from Denmark to the UK. Devonshire then began ferrying British troops home from Australia for the rest of the year. In 1947, the ship was converted into a training ship for naval cadets and served until she was sold for scrap in 1954.

HMS Foresight (H68)

HMS Foresight was one of nine F-class destroyers built for the Royal Navy during the 1930s. She was assigned to the Home Fleet upon completion. Unlike her sister ships, she does not appear to have been attached to the Mediterranean Fleet in 1935–36 during the Abyssinia Crisis, nor did she enforce the arms blockade imposed by Britain and France on both sides of the conflict the Spanish Civil War of 1936–1939. The ship escorted the larger ships of the fleet during the early stages of World War II and played a minor role in the Norwegian Campaign of 1940. Foresight was sent to Gibraltar in mid-1940 and formed part of Force H where she participated in the attack on Mers-el-Kébir and the Battle of Dakar. The ship escorted numerous convoys to Malta in 1941 and Arctic convoys during 1942. Later that year, Foresight participated in Operation Pedestal, another convoy to Malta. She was torpedoed by an Italian aircraft on 12 August and had to be scuttled the next day.

HMS Forester (H74)

HMS Forester was one of nine F-class destroyers built for the Royal Navy during the early 1930s. Although assigned to the Home Fleet upon completion, the ship was attached to the Mediterranean Fleet in 1935–36 during the Abyssinia Crisis. A few weeks after the start of World War II in September 1939, she helped to sink one German submarine and then participated in the Second Battle of Narvik during the Norwegian Campaign of 1940. Forester was sent to Gibraltar in mid-1940 and formed part of Force H where she participated in the attack on the Vichy French ships at Mers-el-Kébir and the Battle of Dakar between escorting the aircraft carriers of Force H as they flew off aircraft for Malta and covering convoys resupplying and reinforcing the island until late 1941. During this time the ship helped to sink another German submarine.

Converted into an escort destroyer midway through the war, Forester was assigned to escort convoys to Russia for the next year and a half and then in the North Atlantic until mid-1944. The ship helped to sink another German submarine before she was transferred to the English Channel to protect convoys during the Normandy landings. Forester assisted in sinking a German submarine before returning to the North Atlantic for a few months. The ship was under repair for the first half of 1945 and was then reduced to reserve in November before being scrapped in early 1946.

HMS Fortune (H70)

HMS Fortune was one of nine F-class destroyers built for the Royal Navy in the mid-1930s. Although she was assigned to the Home Fleet upon completion, the ship was detached to the Mediterranean Fleet to enforce the arms blockade imposed by Britain and France on both sides during the Spanish Civil War of 1936–39. Several weeks after the start of the Second World War in September 1939, Fortune helped to sink a German submarine. The ship escorted the larger ships of the fleet during the early stages of World War II and played a minor role in the Norwegian Campaign of 1940. Fortune was sent to Gibraltar in mid-1940 and formed part of Force H where she participated in the Battle of Dakar against the Vichy French. The ship escorted numerous convoys to Malta in 1940–41 until she was badly damaged by Italian bombers in mid-1941.

After repairs were completed, Fortune was briefly assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet before she was transferred to the Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean in early 1942. The ship screened an aircraft carrier during the Battle of Madagascar later that year and was assigned to convoy escort duties for the rest of 1942 and early 1943. She returned home in February to begin conversion into an escort destroyer. The ship was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) when it was completed in mid-1943 and renamed HMCS Saskatchewan. The ship spent the next year escorting convoys in the North Atlantic before she was transferred to the English Channel to defend convoys during the Normandy landings in June 1944. Saskatchewan engaged some German patrol boats the following month and was lightly damaged. She was sent to Canada for repairs and a general refit and did not return to the UK until January 1945. The ship resumed her former duties until the end of the war in May and then ferried troops back to Canada for several months. Saskatchewan was judged surplus later that year and was sold for scrap, in early 1946.

HMS Greyhound (H05)

HMS Greyhound was a G-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy in the 1930s. Greyhound participated in the Norwegian Campaign in April 1940, the Dunkirk evacuation in May and the Battle of Dakar in September before being transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet in November. The ship generally escorted the larger ships of the Mediterranean Fleet as they protected convoys against attacks from the Italian Fleet. She sank two Italian submarines while escorting convoys herself in early 1941. Greyhound was sunk by German Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers north-west of Crete on 22 May 1941 as she escorted the battleships of the Mediterranean Fleet attempting to intercept the German sea-borne invasion forces destined for Crete.

HMS Griffin (H31)

HMS Griffin (H31) was a G-class destroyer, built for the Royal Navy in the mid-1930s. In World War II she took part in the Norwegian Campaign of April–May 1940 and the Battle of Dakar in September before being transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet in November. She generally escorted larger ships of the Mediterranean Fleet as they protected convoys against attacks from the Italian Fleet. Griffin took part in the Battle of Cape Matapan in March 1941 and the evacuations of Greece and Crete in April–May 1941. In June she took part in the Syria-Lebanon Campaign and was escorting convoys and the larger ships of the Mediterranean Fleet until she was transferred to the Eastern Fleet in March 1942.

Griffin saw no action in the Japanese Indian Ocean raid in April, but was escorting convoys for most of her time in the Indian Ocean. In June she returned to the Mediterranean to escort another convoy to Malta in Operation Vigorous. Beginning in November 1942, she was converted to an escort destroyer in the United Kingdom and was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy on 1 March 1943. The ship, now renamed HMCS Ottawa, was assigned to escort convoys in the North Atlantic until she was transferred in May 1944 to protect the forces involved with the Normandy Landings. Working with other destroyers, Ottawa sank three German submarines off the French coast before she returned to Canada for a lengthy refit. After the end of the European war in May 1945 she was used to bring Canadian troops until she was paid off in October 1945. Ottawa was sold for scrap in August 1946.

HMS Hotspur (H01)

HMS Hotspur was an H-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy during the 1930s. During the Spanish Civil War of 1936–1939 the ship spent considerable time in Spanish waters, enforcing the arms blockade imposed by Britain and France on both sides of the conflict. During the Norwegian Campaign of the Second World War, she fought in the First Battle of Narvik in April 1940 where she was badly damaged. After her repairs were completed, Hotspur was transferred to Gibraltar where she participated in the Battle of Dakar in September. A month later the ship was badly damaged when she rammed and sank an Italian submarine. She received permanent repairs in Malta and was transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet when they were finished in early 1941. Hotspur participated in the Battle of Cape Matapan in March and evacuated British and Australian troops from both Greece and Crete in April–May. In June the ship participated in the Syria-Lebanon Campaign and was escorting convoys and the larger ships of the Mediterranean Fleet until she was transferred to the Eastern Fleet in March 1942.

Hotspur did not see any action during the Japanese Indian Ocean raid in April, but she did escort an aircraft carrier in September during the later stages of the invasion of Madagascar. In June 1942 the ship returned to the Mediterranean to escort another convoy to Malta (Operation Vigorous). She was converted to an escort destroyer beginning in March 1943 in the United Kingdom and was assigned to escort convoys in the North Atlantic for most of the rest of the war. After a lengthy refit in late 1944, Hotspur escorted convoys in the Irish Sea until the end of the Second World War in May 1945.

After the war the ship was used both as a training ship and on active duty until she was placed in reserve in early 1948. She was sold to the Dominican Republic late that year and renamed Trujillo. After the death of Rafael Trujillo, who ruled the Dominican Republic from 1930 until his assassination in 1961, the ship was renamed Duarte in 1962, and finally was sold for scrap in 1972.

MS Sobieski

MS Sobieski was a Polish passenger ship built for the Polish Ocean Lines to replace the aging SS Kościuszko and SS Pulaski; a sister ship to the MS Chrobry. She was named in honour of the Polish king Jan III Sobieski.The ship was used as a troopship in the Allied evacuation of western France in 1940 (Operation Ariel), the Battle of Dakar and the campaign in Madagascar. She was also used to transport the British 18th Division to the defence of Singapore.

At the end of the war she repatriated the remnants of that division's Cambridgeshire Regiment that had survived captivity at the hands of the Japanese in Malaya and Thailand. She also returned former Changi prisoners of war (POWs) from Singapore, sailing via Cape Town and docking at Southampton during a dockworkers' strike. Disgusted, dismayed ex-POWs had to unload their own baggage, such as it was.

The Silent Service (book)

The Silent Service: Action Stories of the Anzac Navy is a 1944 non-fiction book by Ion Idriess in collaboration with Torpedoman Tom Jones, a navy man of 17 years experience. It contains 54 different stories about the achievements of the Royal Australian Navy in World War II.It includes accounts of the Battle of the River Plate, Battle of Dakar, sinking of the Richilieu, the Siege of Malta, the Battle of the Java Sea, the Battle of Cape Matapan and the Battle of the Coral Sea.

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