RHS Vasilissa Olga (D 15)
Destroyer of the Vasilefs Georgios class
|Navy||The Royal Hellenic Navy|
|Built by||Yarrow Shipbuilders Ltd. (Scotstoun, Scotland)|
|Laid down||8 Feb 1937|
|Launched||2 Jun 1938|
|Lost||26 Sep 1943|
Vasilissa Olga escaped to Alexandria in May 1941.
Commands listed for RHS Vasilissa Olga (D 15)
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|1||Lt.Cdr. Georgios Blessas, RHN||26 Sep 1943|
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Notable events involving Vasilissa Olga include:
Casualties in the sinking: seventy killed (Commander, five officers and sixty four ratings). (1)
26 Mar 1942
Vasilissa Olga picks up 26 survivors from the British fleet oiler RFA Slavol that was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-652 about 25 miles north of Sidi Barrani, Egypt in position 32°01'N, 25°55'E.
14 Oct 1942
HMS Taku (Lt. A.J.W. Pitt, RN) arrived at Port Said where she is docked.
1 Feb 1943
'Pamphlet' convoy, Suez - Sydney, 1 February to 27 February 1943.
This convoy, made up of the British liners (troopships) Queen Mary (81235 GRT, built 1936), Aquitania (45647 GRT, built 1914), Ile de France (43548 GRT, built 1927, former French), the Dutch liner (troopship) Nieuw Amsterdam (36287 GRT, built 1938) and the British auxiliary cruiser Queen of Bermuda (A/Capt.(Retd.) the Hon. Sir A.D. Cochrane, DSO, RN) (22575 GRT, built 1933) were transporting 30000 men of the Australian 9th Division from Suez to Melbourne and Sydney.
This convoy had departed Suez on 1 February 1943 and were escorted during their passage through the Red Sea by the British destroyers HMS Pakenham (Capt. E.B.K. Stevens, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN), HMS Isis (Cdr. B. Jones, DSC, RN), HMS Hero (Lt.Cdr. W. Scott, DSC and Bar, RN), Derwent (Cdr. R.H. Wright, DSC, RN) and the Greek destroyer Vasilissa Olga (Lt.Cdr. G. Blessas, DSO, RHN).
The convoy was joined on the 4th by the British heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire (Capt. D. Young-Jamieson, RN).
Later the British light cruiser HMS Gambia (Capt. M.J. Mansergh, CBE, RN) joined near Addu Atoll.
Around 0840 hours on 16 February 1943 the Dutch light cruiser HrMs Tromp (Capt. J.B. de Meester, RNN) and the Dutch destroyer HrMs Van Galen (Lt.Cdr. F.T. Burghard, RNN) joined the convoy near postion 26°06'S, 101°09'E.
Around 2120 hours on 16 February 1943 the Dutch light cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Capt. E.J. van Holthe, RNN) joined the convoy in approximate position 27°41'S, 104°35'E.
Around 2130 hours on 17 February 1943 the Dutch destroyer HrMs Tjerk Hiddes (Lt.Cdr. W.J. Kruys, RNN) joined the convoy in approximate position 30°30'S, 112°52'E.
In the afternoon of the 18th the convoy arrived off Fremantle.
In the evening of the 20th the convoy departed Fremantle now escorted by the Australian light cruiser HMAS Adelaide (A/Capt. J.C.D. Esdaile, OBE, RAN), the Dutch light cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Capt. E.J. van Holthe, RNN) and the Dutch destroyers HrMs Van Galen (Lt.Cdr. F.T. Burghard, RNN) and HrMs Tjerk Hiddes (Lt.Cdr. W.J. Kruys, RNN). Tromp and Van Galen only remained with the convoy for a short period.
Around 1615 hours on the 24th the convoy was joined by the Australia (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, MVO, DSO, RAN) heavy cruiser HMAS Australia and the US destroyers USS Henley (Lt.Cdr. E.K. van Swearingen, USN) and USS Bagley (Lt.Cdr. T.E. Chambers, USN). The New Amsterdam escorted by HMAS Adelaide, HrMs Heemskerk and HrMs Tjerk Hiddes then departed the convoy and proceeded to Melbourne where they arrived arrived noon on the 25th. The other ships continued to Sydney.
In the afternoon of the 26th the Dutch light cruiser HrMs Heemskerck rejoined the convoy. Later in the afternoon the Free French destroyer Le Triomphant (Capt. Ortoli) also joined.
The convoy arrived at Sydney on the 27th.
2 Jun 1943
The Italian torpedo boat Castore (652 tons) left Taranto at 2000hours on 31 May 1943 as escort of the Italian merchants Postumia (595 GRT) and Vragnizza (1592 GRT) heading for Messina. Around 0140 hours on 2 June 1943 while off Cape Spartivento this convoy was attacked with gunfire by the British destroyer HMS Jervis (Capt. A.F. Pugsley, RN) and the Greek destroyer Vasilissa Olga (LCdr Georgios Blessas, DSO, RHN). The two Allied destroyers opened fire at 2000 yds and in the resulting action the Castore was sunk (around 0315 hours) and the two merchants were damaged. According to the war diaries of the Seekriegsleitung both merchant vessels are reported to have arrived in Messina at 1630 hours on 3 June. Other sources give that Postumia went ashore and was later raised and repaired.
During the engagement Jervis and Vasilissa Olga were assisted by allied aircraft that illuminated the targets by firing flares.
- Personal communication
- ADM 173/17329
- ADM 173/17330
- ADM 173/17591
ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.
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