Allied Warships

HMS Acheron (i) (H 45)

Destroyer of the A class

HMS Acheron before World War Two

NavyThe Royal Navy
PennantH 45 
Built byThornycroft (Southampton, U.K.): Parsons 
Ordered29 May 1928 
Laid down29 Oct 1928 
Launched18 Mar 1930 
Commissioned13 Oct 1931 
Lost17 Dec 1940 
Loss position50° 32'N, 1° 26'W

HMS Acheron (Lt. John Rees Wilson, RN) was mined off the Isle of Wright on 17 December 1940. She was running trials after completing repairs following the bomb damage sustained on 24 August. The trial was being conducted at night, with heavy seas running and a strong north-east wind in complete darkness.
During one of the passes on the measured mile, 8 nautical miles west-south-west of St. Catherine's Point, Isle of Wight, she struck a mine towards the bows, her own speed driving her under; she sank within 4 minutes, killing 196 crewmen and yard workers on board for the trials, only 19 survived. The mine is believed to have been one of those laid by the Luftwaffe in no definite pattern along the Channel coast. The wreck lies in 48 meters of water in position 50º32'N, 01º26'W.


Commands listed for HMS Acheron (i) (H 45)

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1Lt.Cdr. Ralph William Frank Northcott, RNJan 1939Dec 1940
2Lt. John Rees Wilson, RNDec 194017 Dec 1940 (+)

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Notable events involving Acheron (i) include:

4 Sep 1939
HMS H 31 (Lt.Cdr. W.R. Fell, OBE, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Portland with HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) and HMS Acheron (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN). (1)

3 Apr 1940
HMS H 32 (Lt. M.D. Wanklyn, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Portland with HMS Acheron (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN) and HMS Malcolm (Capt. T.E. Halsey, RN). (2)

24 Apr 1940
HMS Manchester (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN) departed Rosyth loaded with troops for Molde. Passage north was made with HMS York (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) and HMS Birmingham (Capt. A.C.G. Madden, RN) that were also loaded with troops but these were to be landed at Aandalsnes. Escort was provided by the destroyers HMS Acheron (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. H.W. Williams, RN) and HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN). (3)

24 Aug 1940
HMS Acheron (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN) was damaged by German aircraft during a air raid on Portsmouth. Repairs were completed on 2 December 1940.

27 Dec 1940
The loss of HMS Acheron was made public.

Media links

British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman

Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.


  1. ADM 173/15687
  2. ADM 173/16286
  3. ADM 53/112663 + ADM 186/798

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.

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