HMS Arctic Ranger (FY 186)
|Navy||The Royal Navy|
|Class||[No specific class]|
|Built by||Cochrane & Sons Shipbuilders Ltd. (Selby, U.K.)|
|Launched||15 Dec 1936|
Completed in February 1937.
Sold in July 1945.
Commands listed for HMS Arctic Ranger (FY 186)
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|1||Cdr. (retired) James Halliburton Young, RN||11 Sep 1939||late 1941|
|2||Ch.Skr. Harold Burnett Wray, RNR||late 1941||6 Feb 1942|
|3||Skr. George Thomas Lilley, DSC, RNR||6 Feb 1942||Jul 1942|
|4||Skr. John Foubister Banks, RNR||Jul 1942||10 Nov 1943|
|5||A/Skr.Lt. John Howson, RNR||10 Nov 1943|
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Notable events involving Arctic Ranger include:
31 Jan 1941
Operations Picket and Result.
Operations against the Lake Omodeo Dam in central Sardinia (Picket) and the bombardment of Genoa (Result).
31 January 1941.
'Force H' departed Gibraltar for these operations. It was diverted into four groups, these were;
Group 1 was made up of the battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt R.R. McGrigor, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, RN), battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. A.F.E. Palliser, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (Capt. C.S. Holland, RN) and the light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN).
Group 2 was made up of the destroyers HMS Fearless (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Foresight (Cdr. J.S.C. Salter, RN), HMS Foxhound (Lt.Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN) and HMS Jersey (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN).
Group 3 was made up of the destroyers HMS Duncan (A/Capt. A.D.B. James, RN), HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St.J. Morgan, RN), HMS Isis (Cdr. C.S.B. Swinley, DSC, RN) and HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.P. Thew, RN).
And finally Group 4 was made up of the RFA tanker Orangeleaf (5927 GRT, built 1917) escorted by the auxiliary A/S trawlers HMS Arctic Ranger (Cdr.(Retd.) J.H. Young, RN) and HMS Haarlem (T/Lt. L.B. Merrick, RNR).
On leaving harbour HMS Ark Royal flew off one aircraft for A/S patrol. This patrol was maintained throughout the day.
At 1930/31, group 2 (six destroyers) were detached in position 36°25'N, 03°24'W and were ordered to proceed at economical speed to a position to the north of the Balearics where they were to rendez-vous with the remainder of the force (minus the tanker group) during the forenoon of 2 February.
1 February 1941.
At 0845/1, when in position 37°05'N, 00°32'E, groups 1 and 3 altered course to the north-east.
From 1130/1 onwards a section of fighters from HMS Ark Royal was maintained overhead until dusk.
At 1500/1 course was altered to 084°.
By 1810/1 all aircraft had returned to HMS Ark Royal.
At 1900/1, HMS Malaya escorted by HMS Encounter and HMS Jupiter were detached and ordered to rendez-vous with the remainder of 'Force H' at 0900/2 in position 40°55'N, 06°30'E. This was to economize fuel in HMS Malaya to enable to her to retreat after the bombardment of Genoa at a higher speed.
At 1910/1, HMS Renown, HMS Ark Royal, HMS Sheffield, HMS Duncan and HMS Isis, altered course to 062° and increased speed to 24 knots to arrive in the flying off position for Operation Picket.
2 February 1941.
At 0555/2, eight Swordfish were flown off from HMS Ark Royal in position 40°07'N, 06°54'E. They were armed with torpedoes to attack the dam.
At 0730/2, two more Swordfish were flown off to locate HMS Malaya and her two escorting destroyers and direct her to a rendez-vous position of 40°34'N, 06°38'E at 1000/2.
The first of seven Swordfish that returned from the raid on the dam landed on at 0830/2. The last aircraft landed on at 0848/2. One Swordfish failed to return.
The two Swordfish that had located HMS Malaya returned at 0900/2.
The striking force had encountered rain and hail showers over the land and severe icing conditions in a cloud level of 5000 feet. Ground defences were unduly alart and after the first five miles over the land, fire was encountered from Bofors and light automatic guns apparently posted along the roads leading to Tirso. throughout the final approach fire was heavy, becoming intense in the vicinity of the dam.
One aircaft becoming lost in the cloud, never located the target and finally returned to HMS Ark Royal with his torpedo. The remaining seven aircraft made individual approaches and all except one came under heavy fire. As a result of intense opposition and icing conditions in the clouds, two aircraft jettisoned their torpedoes. Of the remaining five, one was shot down, one made a high drop, nose down, two dropped approximately correctly, and one was able to take good, steady aim. No explosions were observed. The last pilot, after his attack, flew over the dam at a height of 60 feet, machine gunning the defences. He observed no damage on the south face of the dam. It is thought that if the torpedoes failed to reach the dam their run may have been stopped by a bank of silt. Information was later received from an Italian broadcast that the crew of the Swordfish that had been shot down had been taken prisoner.
The wind was by now force 6, with a rising sea, and HMS Duncan reported damage to the gun shield of 'A' gun. Visibility was moderate but improving.
At 1005/2 course was altered to 290° and eight minutes later HMS Malaya and her two escorting destroyers were sighted.
By 1115/2 HMS Malaya, HMS Encounter and HMS Jupiter had rejoined. At noon HMS Ark Royal reported that flying conditions were becoming hazardous so the A/S patrol was abandoned. Only a section of Fulmar fighters were maintained in the air as conditions were unsuitable for Skua's. At times HMS Ark Royal was dipping her flight deck into the sea. Speed had also to be reduced to 15 knots as this was the maximum speed the destroyers could proceed without sustaining damage.
At 1530/2 HMS Malaya requisted permission to turn down wind to make repairs as her cable lockers were flooding beyond the capacity of the pumps. Course was altered and speed was reduced to 10 knots at 1540/2. The original course and 15 knots speed were resumed at 1635/2.
Four Swordfish aircraft, which had been flown off to locate the six detached destroyers reported them as bearing 285°, distance 40 nautical miles at 1615/2. Course was altered to 000° at 1730/2 to ensure contact was made before dark and one hour later the destroyers joined the screen.
The northwesterly gale which had persisted all day had prevented 'Force H' from making the nesecssary ground to the west and north. Throughout the day various destroyers had reported damage at a speed of 15 knots and by the time the rendezvous with the six detached destroyers had been effected, Vice-Admiral Somerville was left with the choice of abanadoning operastion Result or making good a speed of 20 knots thoughout the night. This latter would have been impossible with the destroyers in company and problematical without them. Consideration was given to only attack Genoa with aircraft from HMS Ark Royal but in the end it was decided to abandon the operation.
3 February 1941.
At 0400/3 course was altered to 210°. The wind was still force 6, with a short sea. HMS Fearless reported at 0530/3 tht she was beginning to bump badly and speed was reduced to 13 knots.
HMS Ark Royal flew off three Swordfish at 0745/3 to seach for shipping between Cape Tortosa and Alicante up to fifty miles from the coast. A similar search was carried out in the afternoon between Cape San Antonio and Cape Palos. It was the intention to detach destroyers to close and investigate all ships reported by the aircraft but the only ship located was already in the approaches to Valencia and therefore could not be intercepted in time before it reached that port.
During the forenoon exercises were carried out during which HMS Jersey was serving as 'target'.
Course was altered to south at 1335/3 and speed was increased to 18 knots. The wind had veered to north-north-west and was still force 6. The wind eased a little towards the end of the afternoon but then increased to force 8 by 1700/3.
At 1715/3, dive bombing exercises were carried out on the fleet by four Skua's. After the first attack one aircraft force-landed in the sea on the starboard beam of the Fleet close to the destroyer screen. The crew was picked up by HMS Jupiter. The aircraft then sank.
All flying was completed by 1815/3. After dark course was reversed for twenty minutes in preparation for a night encounter exercises with HMS Jersey and HMS Jupiter which had been detached from the screen at dusk. These two destroyers, attacking from leeward, were sighted at long range. Evasion, counter-attack, star-shell and searchlights were exercised and the practice was completed by 2038/3.
4 February 1941.
A speed of 17 knots was maintained during the night and at 0100/4 course was altered to the westward. The wind remained a steady force 6 from the north-north-west.
At 0630/4, HMS Ark Royal screened by three of the destroyers hauled out of the line and they proceeded independently for flying off Swordfish aircraft for a dawn light torpedo attack on the Fleet. This attack was well delivered.
At 0800/4 speed was increased to 18 knots and HMS Sheffield took station eleven miles on the starboard beam to act as a target for gunnery exercises by HMS Renown and HMS Malaya. On completion HMS Sheffield then carried out an exercise with the leading destroyer of the screen. Finally HMS Fearless and HMS Foresight then carried out an exercise on HMS Sheffield.
By noon the sea had moderated and the wind had dropped to force 5. During the afternoon destroyers of the screen carried out exercises.
The ships of 'Force H' entered harbour at Gibraltar between 1715 and 2000 hours. (1)
12 Nov 1942
In the evening of 12 November 1942 HrMs Isaac Sweers (Capt. W. Harmsen, RNN) and HMS Porcupine (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN) both fuelled from 'Force R' which was made up of the tankers Dingledale (8145 GRT, built 1941, master R.T. Duthie) and Brown Ranger (3417 GRT, built 1941, master D.B.C. Ralph). Escort for this force was provided by the corvette HMS Coreopsis (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Davies, RNVR) and four A/S trawlers, HMS Arctic Ranger (Skr. J.F. Banks, RNR), HMS Imperialist (T/Lt. A.R.F. Pelling, RNR), HMS Loch Oskaig (T/Lt. G.T.S. Clampitt, RNR) and HMS St. Nectan (Lt. J.B. Osborne, RANVR).
The destroyers were to join 'Force H' at sea but were ordered to remain with 'Force R' during the night.
17 Feb 1945
HMS Arctic Ranger (A/Skr.Lt. J. Howson, RNR) picks up men from the British tanker Regent Lion that was torpedoed and damaged 27 nautical miles west of Gibraltar in position 35?56'N, 05?45'W by German U-boat U-300.
- ADM 199/656
- ADM 173/17180
ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.