Allied Warships

HMS Broke (D 83)

Destroyer of the Shakespeare class

NavyThe Royal Navy
PennantD 83 
Built byThornycroft (Southampton, U.K.) 
OrderedApr 1918 
Laid downOct 1918 
Launched16 Sep 1920 
Commissioned21 Jan 1925 
Lost8 Nov 1942 
Loss position36° 50'N, 0° 40'E

Completed by Pembroke Dockyard. (Pembroke, Wales)

HMS Broke (Lt.Cdr. Arthur Frank Capel Layard, RN) was damaged by gunfire from Vichy-French shore batteries off Algiers, Algeria during the Allied landings in North Africa. Broke was later scuttled about 115 nautical miles west of Algiers in position 36º50'N, 00º40'E.

Former nameHMS Rooke

Commands listed for HMS Broke (D 83)

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1Capt. Ralph Kerr, RN31 Jul 193927 Sep 1939
2Cdr. Bryan Gouthwaite Scurfield, RN27 Sep 19397 Jul 1941
3Cdr. Walter Thomas Couchman, OBE, RN7 Jul 1941Apr 1942
4Lt.Cdr. Arthur Frank Capel Layard, RNApr 19428 Nov 1942

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Notable events involving Broke include:

11 Mar 1940
HMS Broke (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, RN) scuttled the wreck of the Dutch tanker Eulota that was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-28 about 130 nautical miles west of Ushant in position 48°35'N, 08°22'W.

7 Jul 1940
HMS Broke (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, RN) rescued 15 survivors from the Estonian merchant Vapper that had been sunk the day before by U-34 south of Cape Clear in position 49°30'N, 09°15'W.

8 Jul 1940
HMS Broke (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, RN) rescued 20 survivors from the Swedish merchant Bissen that had been sunk the day before by U-99 about 80 miles south-south-west of Cape Clear in position 50°06'N, 10°23'W.

10 Oct 1940
The British cruisers HMS Newcastle (Capt. E.A. Aylmer, DSC, RN) and HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN), with the British destroyers HMS Broke (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, RN) and HMS Wanderer (Cdr. J.H. Ruck-Keene, DSC, RN) of the 17th DF and the Polish destroyers Garland (Cdr. K. Namiesniowski, ORP) and Burza (Cdr. A. Doroszkowski, ORP) act as a screen to the British battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) during a bombardment of Cherbourg.

20 Oct 1940
The British destroyers HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine RN), HMS Broke (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, RN) and the Polish destroyer Blyskawica (Cdr. W. Franki, ORP) conducted a patrol in the English Channel. They detected four German destroyers. The enemy ships turned back to their base. The allied pursuit was unsuccessful. (1)

8 Nov 1942
On the morning of 8 November 1942 at Algiers, HMS Broke had been ordered to break through the boom, enter the harbour and land a party of soldiers whose orders were to take and hold selected positions until the main landing force arrived. This she did but on leaving harbour she was targeted by 8inch shore batteries sited on the cliffs overlooking Algiers bay. She was hit several times, was on fire and almost still in the water. HMS Zetland overseeing the landing of troops immediately made to place herself between the batteries and HMS Broke, made smoke and dropped smoke floats, all the while returning fire with her 4inch guns. Zetland made enough of a distraction to allow Broke to slowly make for the open sea and then received orders to take HMS Broke in tow to Gibraltar which she commenced to do. Badly listing and making slow going in mounting seas, it was decided that she wasn't going to make it. Hammocks and bedding were spread on Zetland's forecastle and at a given signal groups of survivors were ordered to jump from the Broke onto the hammocks. Every man including stretcher cases were safely brought on board Zetland and as night began to fall, Zetland sailed alongside HMS Broke and dropped two depth charges primed at shallow settings. In a very short time HMS Broke sank beneath the waves. The survivors were landed at Gibraltar and Zetland returned to Algiers to commence escorting convoys of troops from Algiers to Bone. (1)

Media links

British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman

Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.


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