Allied Warships

FR Maille Breze

Large destroyer of the Vauquelin class

NavyThe French Navy
TypeLarge destroyer
ClassVauquelin 
Pennant 
Built byAt.&Ch de St. Nazaire (St. Nazaire, France) 
Ordered 
Laid down9 Oct 1930 
Launched9 Nov 1931 
Commissioned6 Apr 1933 
Lost30 Apr 1940 
History

Maille Breze (Capitaine De Fregate Henry Marie Edouard Antoine Glotin) was severely damaged by a two of its own torpedoes at Greenock, Scotland. She was scuttled by her crew to prevent her magazines from exploding and causing major damage to the civilian areas nearby.

Two live torpedoes were accidentally discharged into her own forward section causing a terrific explosion with flames shooting 50 feet high into the air. Some of her crewmembers tried to squeeze themelves through the portholes to safety. There were 25 dead and 48 wounded among her crew.

 

Commands listed for FR Maille Breze

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CommanderFromTo
Henry Marie Edouard Antoine Glotin, FR30 Apr 1940

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Notable events involving Maille Breze include:


5 Sep 1939
A convoy of eleven passenger liners departed the U.K. for destinations in the Atlantic or Mediterranean (or Far East via the Mediterranean).

The convoy was assembled off the Clyde and was made up of the passenger liners / merchant vessels; Britannic (British, 26943 GRT, built 1930), Clan Ferguson (British, 7347 GRT, built 1938), Duchess of Bedford (British, 20123 GRT, built 1928), Durban Castle (British, 17388 GRT, built 1938), Montcalm (British, 16418 GRT, built 1921), Orcades (British, 23456 GRT, built 1937), Orford (British, 19941 GRT, built 1928), Orion (British, 23371 GRT, built 1935), Reina del Pacifico (British, 17702 GRT, built 1931), Scythia (British, 19761 GRT, built 1920) and Strathaird (British, 22281 GRT, built 1932).

On assembly the convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Vivacious (Cdr. C.R.L. Parry, RN), HMS Vanessa (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Plumer, RN), HMS Vanquisher (Lt.Cdr. K.H. Fraser, RN), HMS Wakeful (Cdr. R.St.V. Sherbrooke, RN) as well as HMS Verity (Lt.Cdr. A.R.M. Black, RN), HMS Volunteer (Lt.Cdr. H. Gartside-Tippinge, RN), HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. G.C. Fryer, RN) and HMS Wolverine (Cdr. R.C. Gordon, RN).

Arond 2300A/5, the battleship HMS Ramillies (Capt. H.T. Baillie-Grohman, OBE, DSO, RN) departed Portland escorted by the destroyers HMS Exmouth (Cdr. R.S. Benson, RN) and HMS Escapade (Cdr. H.R. Graham, RN). They were joined around 0530A/6 by the destroyers HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Woodhall, RN) and HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) which had come from Plymouth.

Around 1845A/6, HMS Ramillies and her four escorting destroyers joined the convoy after which HMS Vivacious, HMS Vanessa, HMS Witherington and HMS Wolverine parted company. After conducting an A/S sweep astern of the convoy they proceeded to Plymouth where they arrived around noon on the 7th.

Around 1100A/8, HMS Verity, HMS Volunteer, HMS Witherington and HMS Wolverine parted company with the convoy to proceed to Milford Haven where they arrived in the morning of September 10th.

Late in the morning of September 10th, the French destroyers Le Fortune (Cdr. C.M.L. D'Hespel), La Railleuse (Lt.Cdr. J.E.C. Hourcade) and Simoun (Lt.Cdr. F. Hainguerlot) which had departed Gibraltar around 0810A/9, joined the convoy.

Around 1850A/10, the French destroyer Simoun was sent to Gibraltar with despatches. She arrived there around 0710A/11.

Around noon on the 11th, off Gibraltar, the British light cruiser HMS Galatea (Capt. E.G.H. Bellars, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.C. Tovey, CB, DSO, RN) and the French destroyers Tramontaine (Cdr. R.M.J.A. Renault), Tornade (Lt.Cdr. R.G.A. Labat) and Typhon (Lt.Cdr. Y.M.J. Le Hagre).

HMS Ramillies, and the French destroyers Le Fortune and La Railleuse then proceeded to Gibraltar as did the liner Scythia. Apparently the French destroyers, including Simoun, later proceeded again to rejoin the convoy.

HMS Exmouth, HMS Eclipse, HMS Encounter and HMS Escapade most likely detached from the convoy on 12 September as they arrived at Gibraltar on the 14th via Oran.

The French destroyers were relieved near Malta on 14 September 1939 by the destroyers HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.R. Marshall-A'Deane, RN) and HMS Glowworm (Lt.Cdr. G.B. Roope, RN). Also a French convoy (L 2), made up of the merchant vessels Sphinx (French, 11375 GRT, built 1915) and Ville de Strasbourg (French, 7007 GRT, built 1920), which had departed Marseilles on 12 September, joined the convoy for onward passage to Beirut. This French convoy had probably been escorted by the destroyers Maille Breze (Cdr. H.M.E.A. Glotin), Cassard (Cdr. R.A.A. Braxmeyer) and Kersaint (Cdr. G.R.J. Rebuffel) which apparently also joined the convoy. The Durban Castle also detached off Malta at 1000B/14 and entered Valetta.

Around 1600B/15 the Clan Ferguson parted company. She was carrying important stores for Istanbul, Turkey. She was escorted by the destroyer HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN).

At 0700B/16, the Britannic, Duchess of Bedford, Montcalm, Reina del Pacifico and Strathaird were detached to Port Said.

the Orcades, Orford and Orion arrived at Alexandria in the evening of the 16th. HMS Galatea did not enter but went to the west to make rendezvous with the destroyers HMS Griffin and HMS Garland of which the former was towing the later after she had been damaged by her own depth charges.

7 Oct 1939
Around 1000A/7, the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes (Capt. F.E.P. Hutton, RN) departed Plymouth for the Brest area to make rendezvous with French warships and then on to Dakar. On departure from Plymouth HMS Hermes was escorted by the destroyers HMS Keith (Cdr.(Retd.) H.T.W. Pawsey, OBE, RN) and HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN).

Around 1915A/7, HMS Hermes anchored off Brest. The destroyers then returned to Plymouth.

Around 2115A/7, HMS Hermes got underway again to proceed to the Dakar area in company with French warships. These were the battlecruiser Strasbourg (Capt. J.F.E. Bouxin) and the destroyers Le Fantasque (Capt. P.A.B. Still), Le Terrible (Cdr. A.E.R. Bonneau) and L’Audacieux (Cdr. L.M. Clatin). This force was known as 'Force N'.

Around 1430A/10, the heavy cruisers Algerie (Capt. L.H.M. Nouvel de la Fleche) and Dupleix (Capt. L.L.M. Hameury) and the destroyers Maille Breze (Cdr. H.M.E.A. Glotin) and Vauquelin (Cdr. R. Jaujard) joined.

The Force arrived at Dakar on 14 October 1939. (1)

7 Apr 1940
HMS Jupiter (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, RN) returned to Scapa Flow from escort duty.

She departed again later the same day escorting the French light cruiser Emile Bertin (Capt. R.M.J. Battet) and the large destroyers Maille Breze (Cdr. H.M.E.A. Glotin) and Tartu (Capt. J.M. Chomel) in.

8 Apr 1940
After a German force of warships was sighted which the Admiralty thought to be proceeding to the North-Atlantic, HMS Devonshire (Capt. J.M. Mansfield, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.H.D. Cunningham, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Berwick (Capt. I.M. Palmer, DSC, RN), HMS York (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) and HMS Glasgow (Capt. F.H. Pegram, RN), disembarked their troops and set out to sea and proceed north to intercept.

In the evening they were joined near Rattray Head by the French light cruiser Emile Bertin (Capt. R.M.J. Battet) and the large destroyers Maille Breze (Cdr. H.M.E.A. Glotin) and Tartu (Capt. J.M. Chomel).

By then it had become apparent that the Germans were proceeding to invade Norway and the cruisers were ordered to proceed towards the Home Fleet which was also at sea.

They joined the Fleet around mid-morning on the 9th. (2)

9 Apr 1940
Around 1800A/9, the light cruisers HMS Galatea (Capt. B.B. Schofield, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral G.F.B. Edward-Collins, CB, KCVO, RN), HMS Arethusa (Capt. Q.D. Graham, RN), Emile Bertin (Capt. R.M.J. Battet, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.L.H. Derrien) and the large destroyers Tartu (Capt. J.M. Chomel) and Maille Breze (Cdr. H.M.E.A. Glotin) parted company with the Home Fleet. They arrived at Scapa Flow around 1900A/10. (3)

Sources

  1. ADM 53/109170 + ADM 53/109430 + ADM 53/110977
  2. ADM 199/388
  3. ADM 53/111410 + ADM 53/112280

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


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