Allied Warships

HMS Coventry (D 43)

Light cruiser of the Ceres class

HMS Coventry before the war

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeLight cruiser
PennantD 43 
Built bySwan Hunter and Wigham Richardson Ltd. (Wallsend-on-Tyne, U.K.) 
OrderedApr 1916 
Laid down4 Aug 1916 
Launched6 Jul 1917 
Commissioned21 Feb 1918 
Lost14 Sep 1942 
Loss position32° 48'N, 28° 17'E

Converted to Anti-Aircraft cruiser before the war.

HMS Coventry (Capt. Ronald John Robert Dendy, RN) was taking part in Operation "Agreement", a Commando raid agains Tobruk harbor which ended in a complete disaster for the British due to the unexpectedly tenacious resistance of Italo-German troops and the prompt reaction of Axis' air units in the area.
At 1140 hrs, 14 September, Coventry was north of Marsa Matruh with her escort group (Force "D"), consisting of destroyers Belvoir, Dulverton, Hursley, Croome. The cruiser became the main target for a German group of 16 Ju-88s of I/LG.1 (X° Fliegerkorps)from Iraklion (Crete), under Capt Joachim Helbig. Each plane carried 1 x 500- and 3 x 250 kg bombs.
In a dive-bombing attack, Coventry sustained 4 direct hits, 3 of the bombs detonating in the engineering spaces, while the 4th wrecked the bows.
Coventry went dead in the water and badly on fire with 63 killed. At 1515 hrs, in position 32º48'N, 28º17'E. the ship was scuttled by HMS Zulu.
Sadly, herself was sunk barely 1 hour later by 19 Ju-87s (see her entry)


Commands listed for HMS Coventry (D 43)

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1Capt. Richard Francis John Onslow, DSC, RN18 Aug 193822 Apr 1940
2Capt. David Gilmour, RN22 Apr 194019 May 1941
3A/Capt. William Power Carne, RN19 May 19415 Mar 1942
4Capt. Ronald John Robert Dendy, RN5 Mar 194214 Sep 1942

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Notable events involving Coventry include:

1 Jan 1940
HMS Coventry (Capt. R.F.J. Onslow, OBE, DSC, RN) was damaged in a German air attack on the Shetland Islands, north of Scotland.

13 Dec 1940
HMS Coventry (Capt. D. Gilmour, RN) was torpedoed and damaged by the Italian submarine Neghelli in the eastern Mediterranean about 80 nautical miles north-north-west of Mersa Matruh, Egypt in position 32°37'N, 26°44'E. Repairs were completed on 20 January 1941.

18 May 1941
The First Victoria Cross of the Mediterranean battle was posthumously awarded to Petty Officer A.E. Sephton for "great courage and endurance" while on HMS Coventry as she was being attacked by German Stuka dive bombers while off Crete.

Petty officer Sephton was buried at sea. His VC was on display at Coventry Cathedral but was stolen on 25 September 1990.

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