Allied Warships

HMS Roebuck (H 95)

Destroyer of the R class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassR 
PennantH 95 
Built byScotts Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. (Greenock, Scotland) 
OrderedMay 1940 
Laid down19 Jun 1941 
Launched10 Dec 1942 
Commissioned10 Jun 1943 
End service 
History

Reconstructed as Type 15 frigate during 1952-1953.

Scrapped at Inverkeithing in August 1969.

 

Commands listed for HMS Roebuck (H 95)

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CommanderFromTo
1Cdr. John Trevor Lean, DSO, RN15 Apr 1943Feb 1945
2Cdr. Christopher Douglas Bonham-Carter, RNFeb 1945Feb 1946

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Notable events involving Roebuck include:


18 Jun 1943
During the morning HMS Truant (Lt.Cdr. J.G. Hopkins, RN) carries out A/S exercises with HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, DSC, RN) and HMCS Athabascan (Cdr. G.R. Miles, DSO, OBE, RCN).

During the afternoon A/S exercises were carried out with HMS Roebuck (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN) and HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, DSC, RN). (1)

19 Jun 1943
During the morning, HMS Truant (Lt.Cdr. J.G. Hopkins, RN), carries out A/S exercises with HMS Grenville (Lt.Cdr. R.P. Hill, DSO, RN) and HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. H. Unwin, DSC and Bar, RN).

During the afternoon A/S exercises were carried out with HMS Savage (Cdr. R.C. Gordon, DSO, RN) and HMS Roebuck (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN). (1)

21 Jun 1943
During the morning, HMS Truant (Lt.Cdr. J.G. Hopkins, RN), carries out A/S exercises with HMS Savage (Cdr. R.C. Gordon, DSO, RN) and HMS Talybont (Lt. E.F. Baines, DSO, RN).

During the afternoon A/S exercises were carried out with HMS Roebuck (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN) and HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, DSC, RN). (1)

24 Jun 1943
During the morning, HMS Truant (Lt.Cdr. J.G. Hopkins, RN), carries out A/S exercises with HMS Opportune (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN).

During the afternoon A/S exercises were carried out with HMS Roebuck (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN) and HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, DSC, RN). (1)

8 Feb 1944
During 8/9 February 1944, HrMs Tromp (A/Capt. F. Stam, RNN), conducted exercises off Trincomalee together with the British destroyer HMS Roebuck (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN) and the Australian destroyers HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN) and HMAS Napier (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Green, DSC, RAN). (2)

10 Feb 1944
The British battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN and flagship of Vice Admiral A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, RN and second in command of the Eastern Fleet), the British aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN), the British light cruiser HMS Emerald (Capt. F.J. Wylie, RN), the Dutch light cruiser HrMs Tromp (A/Capt. F. Stam, RNN) and the British destroyers HMS Rotherham (Capt. F.S.W. de Winton, RN), HMS Roebuck (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN), HMS Racehorse (Cdr. J.J. Casement, DSC, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Lt.Cdr. T.F. Hallifax, RN) and the Australian destroyers HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN), HMAS Napier (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Green, DSC, RAN) and HMAS Nizam (Cdr. C.H. Brooks, RAN).

These ships departed Trincomalee they then proceeded to the north-east to give the Japanese the impression that they were to preform a raid against the coast of Burma. A fake signal was sent to bolster this. Course was reversed the next day and exercises were then carried out during that day and the next days.

19 Jun 1944

Operation Pedal.

Air strikes against Port Blair in the Andaman Islands.

On 19 June 1944, ' Force 60 ' deaparted Trincomalee. It was made up of the following warships: battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, RN, second in command of the Eastern Fleet), battleship Richelieu (Capt. Merveilleux du Vignaux), aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (Capt. C.E. Lambe, CB, CVO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, CB, RN), light cruisers HMS Nigeria (Capt. H.A. King, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.D. Read, CB, RN), HMS Kenya (Capt. C.L. Robertson, RN), HMS Ceylon (Capt. G.B. Amery-Parkes, RN) and the destroyers HMS Quilliam (Capt. R.G. Onslow, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Quality (Lt.Cdr. the Viscount Jocelyn, RN), HMAS Quickmatch (Lt.Cdr. O.H. Becher, DSC, RAN), HMS Rotherham (Capt. F.S.W. de Winton, RN), HMS Racehorse (Cdr. J.J. Casement, DSC, RN), HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, DSC, RN), HMS Relentless (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Fell, RN) and HMS Roebuck (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN).

The submarines HMS Clyde (Lt.Cdr. R.S. Brookes, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Tantivy (Cdr. M.G. Rimington, DSO and Bar, RN) were deployed on air/sea rescue duties.

At dawn on 21 June, ' Force 60 ' was in the flying off position, about 95 miles to the west of Port Blair.

At 0530/21, an air striking force of 15 Barracudas escorted by 16 Corsairs was flown off followed by a separate fighter striking force of 8 Corsairs.

They were to attack the following targets near Port Blair;
Parked aircraft on the two enemy airfields were to be attacked by the fighter striking force.
Shipping in the harbour was to be attacked by the air striking force. Also targets on Ross Island, the Chatham Island saw mills, the seaplane base at Phoenix Bay and military installations in Aberdeen harbour.

Two Barracudas returned to HMS Illustrious with engine trouble before they could attack their targets.

Surprise appears to have been almost complete. Weather was poor though.

The total bomb load taken over the target area was 26 500lb bombs and 26 250lb bombs. 3 Bombs failed to release. Another 3 were released set at safe. 4 were jettisoned in the sea. The remaining 42 fell in the target area, of which 17 were seen to hit the selected targets.

The following results were reported:
2 - 500lb and 1 - 250lb bombs on the barracks and 1 - 500lb bomb on the power house on Ross Island.

2 - 250lb and 3 - 500lb bombs in the saw mills at Chatham Island.

1 - 500lb bomb on workshops and 4 more bombs in close proximity of the sea-plane base in Phoenix Bay.

2 - 500lb bombs on the barracks and 1 - 250lb bomb on the motor transport yard in the Aberdeen harbour area.

2 single engined enemy aircraft were set on fire at Port Blair main airfield. No enemy aircraft were see on the secondary landing strip.

Mount August radar station was completely destroyed and Mount Harriet radar station and tower were damaged by Corsairs.

4 aircraft had been hit by AA fire but were able to return to HMS Illustrious.

1 Barracuda was lost over the target area, the crew must be considered lost. 1 Corsair crahed into the sea on return. The pilot was picked up after having bailed out just in time.

A total of 57 aircraft had been embarked in HMS Illustrious for this operation. At one time 51 aircraft were in the air at the same time.

After landing on the aircraft, ' Force 60 ' withdrew to the westward at high speed during 21 June. No enemy aircraft approached the force throughout this operation.

' Force 60 ' returned to Trincomalee in the morning of 23 June 1944. (3)

22 Jul 1944

Operation Crimson.

Carrier raid and surface bombardment against Sabang, Netherlands East Indies by the Eastern Fleet.

On 22 July 1944 the Eastern Fleet put to sea from Trincomalee, Ceylon. The ships that participated in this sortie were the battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN and flagship of Admiral Somerville, CinC Eastern Fleet), HMS Valiant (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN), Richelieu (Capt. Merveilleux du Vignaux), battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, RN, second in command of the Eastern Fleet), aircraft carriers HMS Illustrious (Capt. C.E. Lambe, CB, CVO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, CB, RN), HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland (Capt. P.K. Enright, RN), light cruisers HMS Nigeria (Capt. H.A. King, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.D. Read, CB, RN), HMS Kenya (Capt. C.L. Robertson, RN), HMS Ceylon (Capt. G.B. Amery-Parkes, RN), HMS Phoebe (Capt. S.M. Raw, CBE, RN), HMNZS Gambia (Capt. N.J.W. William-Powlett, DSC, RN), HrMs Tromp (A/Capt. F. Stam, RNN) and the destroyers HMS Rotherham (Capt. F.S.W. de Winton, RN), HMS Relentless (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Fell, RN), HMS Racehorse (Cdr. J.J. Casement, DSC, RN), HMS Rocket (Lt.Cdr. H.B. Acworth, OBE, RN), HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, DSC, RN), HMS Roebuck (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN), HMS Rapid (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Quilliam (Capt. R.G. Onslow, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Quality (Lt.Cdr. the Viscount Jocelyn, RN) HMAS Quickmatch (Lt.Cdr. O.H. Becher, DSC, RAN).

The British submarines HMS Templar (Lt. T.G. Ridgeway, RN) and HMS Tantalus (Lt.Cdr. H.S. Mackenzie, DSO and Bar, RN) were deployed for air/sea rescue duties.

In the early hours of the 25th the carriers, HMS Illustrious and HMS Victorious, separated from the fleet under the escort of HMS Phoebe, HMS Roebuck and HMS Raider, and launched a total of 34 fighter aircraft to attack airfields in the area (18 Corsairs from HMS Illustrious and 16 Corsairs from HMS Victorious). One Corsair fighter was damaged by AA fire from the enemy and crashed into the sea, the pilot was picked up by HMS Nigeria. Five other Corsairs were damaged by AA fire but managed to return to the carriers. Two of these could be repaired on board, the other three were too badly damaged for effective repairs.

The battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Valiant, Richelieu, battlecruiser HMS Renown, heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland, light cruisers HMS Nigeria, HMS Kenya, HMS Ceylon, HMNZS Gambia and the destroyers HMS Rotherham, HMS Relentless, HMS Racehorse, HMS Rocket and HMS Rapid then commenced a bombardment of the Sabang area. They fired a total of 294 - 15", 134 - 8", 324 - 6", ca. 500 - 4.7" and 123 - 4" shells.

Then the Dutch cruiser HrMs Tromp entered Sabang Bay, her rightful waters, with the destroyers HMS Quilliam, HMS Quality and HMAS Quickmatch. In all these four ships fired a total of 8 Torpedos and 208 - 6", 717 - 4.'7" and 668 x 4" shells. Japanese shore batteries obtained 4 hits on the Tromp while Quilliam and Quality were both hit once. The hit by what was thought to be a 3” shell on Quilliam caused minor structural damage but killed one petty officer and wounded four ratings. Quality was hit by what is thought to be a 5” shell which hit the tripod foremast and HA director. One war correspondent was killed and one officer and eight retings were wounded, some of them seriously. Tromp was hit by two 5” and two 3” shells but was lucky that none of these exploded !!!, she suffered only minor structural damage and no deaths or even wounded amongst her crew !

Later that day 13 fighters from the carriers intercepted a Japanese counter attack with 10 aircraft. 7 of these were shot down for no losses of their own.

The fleet arrived back at Trincomalee on 27 July. (4)

10 Dec 1944
HMS Strongbow (Lt. J.A.R. Troup, DSC, RN) ended her 4th war patrol (3rd in the Far East) at Trincomalee. She was escorted in by HMS Roebuck (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN). (5)

10 May 1945

Operation Dukedom,
Intercepting Japanese surface ships trying to evacuate troops from the Andaman Islands.

On 8 May 1945 a report was received from two British submarines on patrol in the Malacca Strait (HMS Statesman (Lt. R.G.P. Bulkeley, RN) and HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) that they had sighted a Japanese heavy cruiser and a destroyer proceeding to the north-west. The Eastern Fleet was already on alert due to intelligence and ships from the Eastern Fleet immediately (around 0700 hours) put to sea from Trincomalee, Ceylon for operation Dukedom. These ships formed Task Force 61. This task force was, at that moment, made up of the following ships;
British battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. R.M. Ellis, DSO, RN), the French battleship Richelieu (Capt. Merveilleux du Vignaux), the British escort carriers HMS Hunter (Capt. A.D. Torlesse, RN), HMS Khedive (A/Capt. D.H. Magnay, RN), HMS Shah (Capt. W.J. Yendell, RN), HMS Emperor (Capt. Sir C. Madden, RN), the British heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland (Capt. P.K. Enright, RN), the British light cruiser HMS Royalist (Capt. W.G. Brittain, CBE, RN), the Dutch light cruiser HrMs Tromp (A/Capt. F. Stam, RNN) and the British destroyers HMS Saumarez (Capt. M.L. Power, CBE, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Venus (Cdr. H.G.D. De Chair, DSC with Bar, RN), HMS Vigilant (Lt.Cdr. L.W.L. Argles, DSC, RN), HMS Virago (Lt.Cdr. A.J.R. White, DSC, RN), HMS Rotherham (Capt. H.W. Biggs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Nubian (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN) and HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Diack, DSC and Bar, RN). This latter destroyer however had to return due to defects.

The British destroyer HMS Verulam (Lt.Cdr. D.H.R. Bromley, DSC, RN) sailed at 1700 hours to overtake and then join the Task Force. She was joined by HMS Tartar (Capt. B. Jones, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) as substitute for HMS Penn whose defects could not be repaired in time. Verulam and Tartar eventually joined the Task Force at 1505/11.

Most ships of the Task Force had only returned from the previous operation the day before and for instance HMS Queen Elizabeth had only 50% ammunition for her 15” guns on board. Also HMS Emperor and HMS Khedive were not fully fueled.

The same day the tanker Easedale (8032 GRT, built 1942) departed Trincomalee escorted by the British destroyer HMS Paladin (Lt. H.R. Hewlett, RN) (Force 70) to provide fuel for the smaller ships of Force 61.

At 1940/11 a fast attack force, made up of Richelieu, HMS Cumberland and the destroyer of the 26th Destroyer Flotilla; HMS Saumarez, HMS Venus, HMS Verlulam, HMS Viliglant and HMS Virago were ordered to proceed ahead to about 50 miles from the Task Force to be in a better position to intercept the reported Japanese heavy cruiser.

In the early afternoon of the 12th an air strike with four Hellcats was carried out against airfields on Car Nicobar Island. One Japanese aircraft was seen to go up in flames.

Also on the 12th submarine HMS Statesman reported that the Japanese cruiser and it's escort were returning to Singapore most likely to Force 61 being sighted the previous day by a Japanese aircraft.

During the 13th all destroyers of the Task Force fueled from HMS Emperor, HMS Hunter and HMS Shah. Besides that Task Force 62 was sent out from Trincomalee. This Task Force was made up of the British light cruiser HMS Nigeria (Capt. H.A. King, DSO, RN) and the British destroyers HMS Roebuck (Cdr. C.D. Bonham-Carter, RN), HMS Racehorse (Cdr. J.J. Casement, DSC, RN) and HMS Redoubt (Lt.Cdr. F.W.M. Carter, DSC, RN). HMS Rocket (Lt.Cdr. H.B. Acworth, OBE, RN), which was escorting a convoy, was ordered to leave her convoy and then join this Task Force. Also sailed was Task Force 67, made up of Royal Fleet Auxiliary oiler Olwen escorted by HMS Penn, which by now had completed repairs on her defects.

On the 14th HrMs Tromp was sent ahead to fuel from Task Force 70. Late in the evening the remainder of Task Force 61 arrived at the rendez-vous with Task Force 70.

On the 15th the enemy cruiser and destroyer were sighted by an aircraft from HMS Shah. They were again proceeding to the south-east. Shortly afterwards the enemy was also sighted by a patrolling Liberator aircraft which began shadowing the enemy. At 1500 hours three Avenger aircraft attacked the cruiser.

The 26th destroyer flottila, made up of HMS Saumarez, HMS Venus, HMS Verulam, HMS Vigilant and HMS Vigaro were ordered to intercept the enemy after dark. At 1500 hours they were 85 miles from the position of the enemy.

Around midnight the destroyers made radar contact on the cruiser. They then attacked from all directions with torpedoes. About eight hits were scored and the cruiser was sunk. During the attack HMS Saumarez was hit three times with 8" shells. Two ratings were killed on one boiler room was put out of action. The destroyers rejoined the task force at 1000/16. HMS Virago had only 17% fuel left, the other destroyers between that and 30%. HMS Virago and HMS Venus had to fuel from the escort carriers as they could not make it to the oiling force without doing so.

In the evening of the 16th the Task Force was attacked by Japanese aircraft. HMS Virago was near missed and suffered four ratings killed, five ratings severely wounded and thirteen other casualties. She was also listing slightly due to splinter damage.

At 1000/17 the following ships were detached to return to Trincomalee; Richelieu, HMS Nigeria, HMS Royalist, HrMs Tromp, HMS Khedive, HMS Shah and HMS Racehorce.

1740 hours, the 26th Destroyer Flotilla was also detached to return to Trincomalee. By this time all the destroyers of this flotilla had fueled from Force 70.

The remaining ships were ordered to return to Trincomalee at 2130/19. (6)

Media links


British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

Sources

  1. ADM 173/18284
  2. File 2.12.03.6853 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  3. ADM 199/1388
  4. Files 2.12.03.6854 and 2.12.27.121 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands) and WO 203 / 4622 (British National Archives, Kew, London)
  5. ADM 173/18855
  6. Files 2.12.03.6854 and 2.12.27.121 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands) and WO 203 / 4630 (British National Archives, Kew, London)

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


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