Allied Warships

HMS Eridge (L 68)

Escort destroyer of the Hunt (Type II) class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeEscort destroyer
ClassHunt (Type II) 
PennantL 68 
Built bySwan Hunter and Wigham Richardson Ltd. (Wallsend-on-Tyne, U.K.): Wallsend 
Ordered4 Sep 1939 
Laid down21 Nov 1939 
Launched20 Aug 1940 
Commissioned28 Feb 1941 
End service29 Aug 1942 

While in the Mediterranean in July 1941 HMS Eridge provided escort for convoys bound for Malta from Gibraltar. In September 1941, the destroyer was docked in the Selborne dry dock at Simonstown, South Africa.

In February 1942 back in the Mediterranean, Eridge was once again an escort to the Malta bound convoys setting out from Gibraltar. On March 19th, Eridge a member of the 5th DD Flotilla set out from Alexandria bound for Tobruk on a submarine hunting expedition, in preparation to an advance supply convoy to Malta. The next afternoon a U-boat evaded the searchers and managed to launch an audacious attack, it takes a lot of courage to attack a flotilla of A/S destroyers. HMS Heythrop was torpedoed by U-652, and later taken in tow by Eridge but later had to be scuttled by the destroyer north of Sollum. On the 20th, she and her sisters rendezvous with the Malta bound supply convoy and Eridge was employed as convoy escort to the commissioned auxiliary supply ship HMS Breconshire loaded with 5,000 tons of precious fuel, the Clan Campbell, the bomb damaged ship of the previous convoy, the Pampas and the Norwegian ship Talabot, fully loaded with ammunition. Getting this convoy through to Malta was afterwards referred to as the second battle of Sirte. Admiral Vian was in command of the operation. Clan Campbell met disaster a mere 20 miles from Malta, bombers which had first appeared soon after daylight were eventually rewarded for their persistence. A bomb struck home, her engine room became flooded and she soon went under. The hard working little Eridge was being tossed about by the waves like an empty barrel yet she managed to claw no less than 112 survivors from the angry sea. Of the total of 26,000 tons of stores carried by the four ships only 5,000 tons finally reached Malta. The price paid for delivering much needed stores was indeed heavy. On 29 May 1942 after a 15 hour pursuit by HMS Eridge, HMS Hero and HMS Hurworth the German submarine U-568 was sunk north-east of Tobruk. On July 11th, Eridge in company with destroyers HMS Dulverton and HMS Hurworth they bombarded Mersa Matruh and sank one ship that was driven out to sea by Albacore aircraft. In August, in company with the destroyer HMS Aldenham she bombarded the Daba area on the Egyptian coast. On August 29th HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. William Frank Niemann Gregory-Smith, DSO, DSC, RN) was torpedoed by an Italian MTSM (45 cm [18"]torpedo) in position 31º07'N, 28º26'E. Though towed by Aldenham to Alexandria, she was a total constructive loss and spent the remainder of the war as a base ship. In October 1946 Eridge was sold at Alexandria for scrapping.  

Commands listed for HMS Eridge (L 68)

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1Lt.Cdr. William Frank Niemann Gregory-Smith, RN14 Nov 1940mid 1942

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Notable events involving Eridge include:

29 May 1942
German U-boat U-568 was sunk in the Mediterranean north-east of Tobruk, in position 32°42'N, 24°53'E, by depth charges from the British destroyer HMS Hero (Lt. W. Scott, RN) and the British escort destroyers HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, DSC, RN) and HMS Hurworth (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, RN).

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