Allied Warships

HMS Glowworm (H 92)

Destroyer of the G class


Nice photograph showing HMS Glowworm before the war

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassG 
PennantH 92 
Built byThornycroft (Southampton, U.K.) 
Ordered5 Mar 1934 
Laid down15 Aug 1934 
Launched22 Jul 1935 
Commissioned22 Jan 1936 
Lost8 Apr 1940 
Loss position64° 27'N, 6° 28'E
History

HMS Glowworm (Lt.Cdr. Gerard Broadmead Roope, RN) was sunk in the Norwegian Sea about 70 nautical miles north-east of Froya Island, Norway in position 64º27'N, 06º28'E after she rammed the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper. Hipper ended up with a large underwater gash in her hull and had to return to base for repairs. HMS Glowworm, already damaged by gunfire was fatally damaged during the ramming and sank. Only a little over 30 men from her crew survived.  

Commands listed for HMS Glowworm (H 92)

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CommanderFromTo
1Lt.Cdr. Gerard Broadmead Roope, RN22 Jul 19388 Apr 1940 (+)

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Notable events involving Glowworm include:


The Commanding Officer, Lt.Cdr. Rooper was awaeded the Victoria Cross for his action in Ramming the Hipper. The Victoria Cross is the highest medal that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth Forces. (1)

Lt.cdr.Gerard Broadmead Roope's widow received his postumious Victoria Crosd from the King,at Buckingham Palace.Lt.Cdr.Roope hailed from Taunton,Somerset.He was living in Weymouth,Dorset with his wife his son Michael and his daughter Felicity,when the world war two began he was based at Harwich.He story of his action of the 8th of April 1940 is well documented.In fact a book of the action entitled'Battle of the April storm'was written by Larry Forester,Unfortunatly,for the scolars of naval history,the author has changed lt.Cdr. Roope,into a fictitious commander called Wreyford.Lt.Cdr.Roope's VC has a special place in the annuals of the Royal Navy.Not only was it the very first naval VC to be won in WW2 but,was presented partly on the recommendation of the Captain of K.M.Admiral Hipper,who sent a letter through the Red Cross praising his opponents audacity and gallantry. , (1)

31 Aug 1939
Several ships from the Mediterranean Fleet departed Alexandria for exercises; these were the battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. V.A.C. Crutchley, VC, DSC, RN, flying the flag of A/Admiral A.B. Cunningham, KCB, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Barham (Capt. H.T.C. Walker, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral G. Layton, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Malaya (Capt. I.B.B. Tower, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Galatea (Capt. E.G.H. Bellars, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.C. Tovey, CB, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Grenville (Capt. G.E. Creasy, MVO, RN), HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN), HMS Grafton (Cdr. M.S. Thomas, RN), HMS Glowworm (Lt.Cdr. G.B. Roope, RN), HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.R. Marshall-A'Deane, RN), HMS Cossack (Capt. D. de Pass, RN) and HMS Maori (Cdr. G.N. Brewer, RN), HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN) and HMS Zulu (Cdr. J.S. Crawford, RN).

At sea they were joined by the aircraft carrier HMS Glorious (Capt. G. D’Oyly-Hughes, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) and her attendant destroyer HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN) which had already been exercising off Alexandria since 30 August.

The Fleet returned to Alexandria in the morning of 1 September 1939. (2)

4 Oct 1939

Convoy KJ 3

Convoy from Kingston, Jamaica to the U.K.
Departure date: 4 October 1939.
Arrival date: 28 October 1939.

The following merchant ships were part of this convoy;
British:
tanker Acavus (8010 GRT, built 1935), cargo ship Amakura (1987 GRT, built 1924), tanker Appalachee (8826 GRT, built 1930), tanker Athelbeach (6568 GRT, built 1931), tanker British General (6989 GRT, built 1922), tanker Calgarolite (11941 GRT, built 1929), tanker Canadolite (11309 GRT, built 1926), tanker Caprella (8230 GRT, built 1931), cargo ship Chauncer (5792 GRT, built 1929), tanker Conus (8132 GRT, built 1931), tanker Drupa (8102 GRT, built 1939), cargo ship East Wales (4358 GRT, built 1925), tanker Erodona (6207 GRT, built 1937), cargo ship Fresno City (4955 GRT, built 1929), cargo ship Gryfevale (4434 GRT, built 1929), cargo ship Iddesleigh (5205 GRT, built 1927), cargo ship Imperial Valley (4573 GRT, built 1924), tanker Iroquois (8937 GRT, built 1907), tanker Laristan (6401 GRT, built 1927), tanker Luminetta (6159 GRT, built 1927), tanker Montrolite (11309 GRT, built 1926), tanker Pellicula (6254 GRT, built 1936), cargo ship Redgate (4323 GRT, built 1929), cargo ship Ridley (4993 GRT, built 1937), cargo ship Royal Crown (4367 GRT, built 1927), Sacramento Valley (4573 GRT, built 1924), tanker San Arcadio (7419 GRT, built 1935), tanker San Demetrio (8073 GRT, built 1938), tanker San Eliseo (8042 GRT, built 1939), tanker San Emiliano (8071 GRT, built 1939), tanker San Roberto (5890 GRT, built 1922), tanker Schluylkill (8965 GRT, built 1928), cargo ship Sheaf Holme (4814 GRT, built 1929), cargo ship Somme (5265 GRT, built 1919), tanker Sovac (6724 GRT, built 1938), cargo ship Star of Alexandria (4329 GRT, built 1928), tanker Telena (7406 GRT, built 1927), cargo ship Uffington Court (4976 GRT, built 1929), cargo ship Umberleigh (4950 GRT, built 1927).

French:
tanker Champagne (9946 GRT, built 1938), tanker Frimaire (9242 GRT, built 1930), cargo ship (6419 GRT, built 1920), tanker Roussillon (9967 GRT, built 1936).

Escort was provided by the following warships;
4 October to 7 October 1939 by the licht cruiser HMS Orion (Capt. H.R.G. Kinahan, RN).

4 October to 15 October 1939 by the light cruiser HMAS Perth (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN).

8 October to 15 October 1939 by the heavy cruiser HMS Berwick (Capt. I.M. Palmer, DSC, RN).

15 October to 26 October 1939 by the light cruiser HMS Effingham (Capt. J.M. Howson, RN).

22 October to 24 October 1939 by the light cruisers HMS Glasgow (Capt. F.H. Pegram, RN) and HMS Newcastle (Capt. J. Figgins, RN).

On 23 October and 24 October 1939 by a French force made up of the battleship Dunkerque (Capt. M.J.M. Seguin), light cruisers Georges Leygues (Capt. R.L. Perot), Montcalm (Capt. P.J. Ronarc’h), large destroyers Le Malin (Cdr. G.E. Graziani), Le Triomphant (Cdr. M.M.P.L. Pothuau) and L'Indomptable (Capt. P.T.J. Barnaud).

From 24 October to 28 October 1939 by the destroyers HMS Verity (Lt.Cdr. A.R.M. Black, RN) and HMS Wolverine (Cdr. R.C. Gordon, RN).

From 25 October to 28 October 1939 by the destroyers HMS Versatile (Cdr.(Retd.) T.A. Hussey, RN) and HMS Volunteer (Lt.Cdr. H. Gartside-Tippinge, RN).

From 25 October to 26 October 1939 by the destroyers HMS Glowworm (Lt.Cdr. G.B. Roope, RN) and HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.R. Marshall A'Deane, RN).

4 Oct 1939
HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, RN) and HMS Delight (Cdr. M. Fogg-Elliott, RN) departed Malta to make rendez-vous with convoy Red 2 which was made up of the troopships Athlone Castle (25564 GRT, built 1936), Empress of Australia (21833 GRT, built 1914) and Franconia (20175 GRT, built 1923). These were on passage to the Far East and were being escorted at that time by the armed merchant cruiser (not outfitted yet) HMS Alcantara (Capt.(Retd.) J.G.P. Ingham, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.R. Marshall A'Deane, RN) and HMS Glowworm (Lt.Cdr. G.B. Roope, RN).

The 'D-class' destroyers joined the convoy the next morning.

5 Apr 1940

Operation Wilfed.

Minelaying in Norwegian territorial waters and subsequent movements leading up to the First Battle of Narvik.

Three British forces were to lay mines in Norwegian territorial waters, these were;
' Force WB ': destroyers HMS Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicolson, RN) and HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, RN). They were to simulate a minelay of Bud. This force departed Scapa Flow with HMS Renown at 1830/5 (see below).

' Force WS ': Auxiliary minelayer HMS Teviotbank (Cdr.(Retd.) R.D. King-Harman, DSC and Bar, RN) and the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC, RN), HMS Imogen (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN) and HMS Isis (Cdr. J.C. Clouston, RN). This force was to lay mines in the Stadlandet area between Aalesund and Bergen.

' Force WV ': Minelaying destroyers: HMS Esk (Lt.Cdr. R.J.H. Couch, RN, with Capt. J.G. Bickford, DSC, RN, Capt. D.10 onboard), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, RN) and HMS Ivanhoe (Cdr. P.H. Hadow, RN) escorted by destroyers HMS Hardy (Capt. B.A. Warburton-Lee, RN), HMS Havock (Cdr. R.E. Courage, RN), HMS Hotspur (Cdr. H.F.H. Layman, RN) and HMS Hunter (Lt.Cdr. L. de Villiers, RN). This force was to lay mines in the entrance to the Vestfiord.

To cover ' Force WS ' it had been intended to sent out the battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN) and the destroyers HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.R. Marshall-A'Deane, RN), HMS Glowworm (Lt.Cdr. G.B. Roope, RN) and the destroyers from ' Force WB '. As the Admiralty received information that all four Norwegian coast defence ships were at Narvik this was changed at the last moment and the Renown force was then ordered to cover ' Force WV ' instead. Renown and her escorting destroyers departed Scapa Flow around 1830/5.

' Force WS ' departed Scapa Flow around 1930/5. During the night the destroyers in company with HMS Renown had lost contact with her in the heavy weather. By dawn they were regaining contact when HMS Glowworm reported a man overboard at 0620/6. She was given permission shortly afterwards to search for her missing crewmember and doubled back.

' Force WV ' departed Sullom Voe around 0515/6. They were to rendezvous at sea with HMS Renown, her escorting destroyers and ' Force WB '. Rendezvous was effected at 0735/6.

HMS Hyperion and HMS Hero, were detached to refuel at Lerwick prior to their simulated minelay off Bud. They arrived at Sullom Voe around 1545/6.

When the Admiralty found out on the 7th that only HMS Greyhound was with HMS Renown the light cruiser HMS Birmingham (Capt. A.C.G. Madden, RN) and the destroyers HMS Fearless (Cdr. K.L. Harkness, RN) and HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, RN) were ordered to make rendezvous with HMS Renown off the Vestfiord.

In the evening of the 7th, HMS Renown signalled her intention to be in position 67°15'N, 10°40'E at 0500/8 to HMS Birmingham and HMS Glowworm. Due to the bad weather conditions HMS Birmingham and her escort failed to make the rendezvous in time.

Between 0430 and 0530/8 the' Force WS ' laid their minefield in Vestfiord. HMS Hardy, HMS Havock, HMS Hotspur and HMS Hunter then proceeded to make rendezvous with HMS Renown while HMS Esk, HMS Icarus, HMS Impulsive and HMS Ivanhoe patrolled near the minefield.

At 0759/8 HMS Glowworm, who was then in position 65°04'N, 06°04'E, and steering towards the rendezvous with HMS Renown, sighted the German destroyers Z 11 / Bernd von Arnim and Z 18 / Hans Ludemann. Immediately HMS Glowworm sent an enemy report and at then engaged Z 18 / Hans Ludemann.

At 0855/8, HMS Glowworm reported an unknown ship bearing 0°, steering 180° in position 65°06'N, 06°20'E. The German destroyers had called for assistance and drew HMS Glowworm towards the heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper which then egaged the British destroyer. Mortally wounded by the enemy's gunfire, HMS Glowworm managed to ram the German cruiser, tearing away 130 feet of the cruiser's armour belt and wrenching the emey's starboard torpedo tubes from their mountings.

At 0904/8, HMS Glowworm sent her last signal before sinking in position 64°13'N, 06°28'E. After the war Lt.Cdr. Roope, Glowworm's Commanding Officer was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

Immediately after the receipt of HMS Glowworm's enemy report, HMS Renown and HMS Greyhound, then in position 67°34'N, 10°00'E turned south steering for the reported position believing that the enemy force was heading for Vestfiord and expecting to meet them around 1330/8.

At 0915/8, the C-in-C Home Fleet, detached the battlecruiser HMS Repulse (Capt. E.J. Spooner, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Penelope (Capt. G.D. Yates, RN) and the destroyers HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. St.J.A. Micklethwait, DSO, RN), HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. R.G.K. Knowling, RN) from his force to go to the aid of HMS Glowworm.

At 1045/8 the Admiralty ordered all destroyers of ' Force WV ' including those patrolling the minefield to join HMS Renown and HMS Greyhound.

At 1330/8 HMS Renown and HMS Greyhound, not having encountered the enemy, reversed course and steered to the north-east to make rendezvous with the destroyers of ' Force WV '.

At 1715/8 near the Skomvaer Lighthouse, about seventy miles west of Bodø, HMS Renown and HMS Greyhound made rendezvous with HMS Hardy, HMS Havock, HMS Hotspur, HMS Hunter, HMS Esk, HMS Icarus, HMS Impusive and HMS Ivanhoe. They then again turned to the south but sailing with gale force winds from the north-west the ships had great difficulty to keep formation and stay in company.

At 2100/8 the ' Renown ' force reversed course on to 280° to prevent the enemy from entering Narvik. This was on ordered from the Admiralty. They now had to proceed into a full north-west gale.

At 0100/ 9, the ' Renown ' force changed course to 180°.

At 0337/9, when in position 67°22'N, 09°36'E, and now steering 130°, HMS Renown, still with the destroyers in company, sighted two unknown ships, bearing 070°, distance 10 miles. They were sighted dispite a snow storm. The ships were thought to be a German battlecruiser and a heavy cruiser but were in fact the German battlecruisers Gneisenau and Scharnhorst.

At 0359/9, HMS Renown, having now positively identified the ships as German, turned on 305°, parallel to the German ships.

At 0405/9, HMS Renown fire with her main armament at a range a little over 18000 yards. Target was the Gneisenau. Renown's secondary armament, (4.5" DP) opened fire on the Scharnhorst. The destroyers also joined in with their 4.7" guns.

At 0416/8, HMS Renown received a 28cm shell hit on her foremast. Only HMS Hardy and HMS Hunter were able to keep up with HMS Renown in the gale conditions, but the other destroyers fell behind. Also at about this time HMS Renown sustained weather damage to her starboard anti torpedo bulge.

At 0417/8, HMS Renown hit Gneisenau's fire control system out of action so the German ship turned away on course 30°. The Scharnhorst then moven between her sister ship and HMS Renown to lay a smoke screen.

At 0419/9 HMS Renown scored a it on Gneisenau's 'A' turret. A further hit was also abtained. HMS Renown then shifted her main armament to the Scharnhorst but she was then hit herself in the stern. Damage was minor. The Germans then broke off the action and turned away to the north-east at best speed.

Renown tried to follew the German ships but could only do around 20 - 23 knots so as not to swamp 'A' turret in the bad weather. The German ships gradually managed to pull away.

At 0515/9, HMS Renown briefly reopened fire on the Scharnhorst as she came into range when the Germans also had to reduce speed temporarily.

At 0615/9, HMS Renown lost contact with the German ships. By now also no of her escorting destroyers was in touch with her. During the action 230 rounds of 15" and 1065 rounds of 4.5" had been fired.

At 0626/19, Vice-Admiral Whitworth ordered HMS Hardy to take all destroyers under her command and to patrol the entrance to Vestfiord.

At 0800/9, HMS Renown turned west. One hour later the Admiralty ordered HMS Renown and other units of the Home Fleet to concentrate off the Vestfiord.

Around 1400/9, HMS Renown made rendezvous with HMS Renown, HMS Penelope, HMS Bedouin, HMS Eskimo, HMS Punjabi, HMS Kimberley and HMS Hostile. HMS Penelope was then detached to patrol in the entrance to the Vestfiord while the remainder of the force moved to patrol 30 miles to the west of HMS Penelope. HMS Hostile however was apparently ordered to join the other 'H'-class destroyers under Capt. D 2 in HMS Hardy.

That leaves us with Forces ' WB ' and ' WS ', HMS Teviotbank with her destroyer escort of HMS Inglefield, HMS Ilex, HMS Imogen and HMS Isis was ordered, at 2251/7, to abort the minelay and proceed to Sullom Voe. The destroyers went ahead and arrived at 0830/9 followed by HMS Teviotbank at 1100/9. HMS Inglefield, HMS Ilex, HMS Imogen, HMS Isis, HMS Hyperion and HMS Hero departed Sullom Voe at 0300/10 to join Admiral Forbes force which they did around 1100/10.

Media links


British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

Sources

  1. Personal communication
  2. ADM 53/111091 + ADM 53/111092

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


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