Allied Warships

HMS Ladybird (T 58)

River gunboat of the Insect class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeRiver gunboat
ClassInsect 
PennantT 58 
Built byLobnitz & Co. Ltd. (Renfrew, Scotland)  
Ordered9 Feb 1915 
Laid down 
Launched12 Apr 1916 
Commissioned26 Apr 1916 
Lost12 May 1941 
History

Sunk off Tobruk by German aircraft.

 

Commands listed for HMS Ladybird (T 58)

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CommanderFromTo
1Lt.Cdr. Robert Sydney Stafford, RN15 Mar 193811 Jan 1940
2Lt.Cdr. (retired) John Fulford Blackburn, RN11 Jan 194012 May 1941

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Notable events involving Ladybird include:


17 Jan 1941

Operation IS 1.

Bombardment of Tobruk.

Timespan; 17 January to 22 January 1941.

At 1800/17 the monitor HMS Terror (Cdr. H.J. Haynes, DSC, RN) and the gunboat HMS Aphis (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) J.O. Campbell, DSC, RN) departed Alexandria for Operation IS 1. The object was to bombard enemy positions off Mersa-el-Sahal in the Tobruk area during the nights of 18/19 and 19/20 January to aid the British Army in their attempt to capture Tobruk from the Italians.

At 0400 hours, a force made up of the light cruisers HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.D. Pridham-Whippell, CB, CVO, RN),HMS Bonaventure (Capt. H.G. Egerton, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO, RN), HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN) and HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO, RN) departed Alexandria. They were to cover the operations off Tobruk. The cruisers were to patrol to the north-west while the destroyers were to patrol off the north-east.

The weather however became bad and the operation had to be postponed for 24 hours. The cover forces however remained in their positions as it was thought possible that the old Italian armoured cruiser San Giorgio might try to escape from Tobruk. In the end the cover force was withdrawn for more urgent operations and was ordered to proceed to Suda Bay where they arrived in the afternoon of the 22nd. Due to this bad weather the shallow draft HMS Aphis got into trouble as she was unable to seek shelter. Two destroyers and an aircraft were sent out for assistance. She was found at 1300/19 off Damietta. HMS Griffin then accompanied her to Port Said where she arrived at 0700/20. She had to be docked there for repairs to her hull.

The weather however remained bad and it was not possible to bombard during the night of 19/20 January as well. Also HMS Terror sustained weather damage but was able remain at sea.

During the night of 20/21 January, HMS Terror assisted by HMS Gnat (Lt.Cdr. S.R.H. Davenport, RN) and HMS Ladybird (Cdr.(Retd.) J.F. Blackburn, RN) from the Inshore Squadron did manage to carry out her bombardment duties. Little enemy opposition was experienced.

Also the destroyers HMAS Stuart (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, DSO, RAN), HMAS Vampire (Cdr. J.A. Walsh, RAN) and HMAS Voyager (Cdr. J.C. Morrow, DSO, RAN) were on patrol to the west of Tobruk to cut the enemy sea communications. During the night of 21/22 January, HMAS Vampire sank the Italian schooner Diego west of Tobruk. The crew of ten were taken prisoner. On the 22nd HMAS Voyager returned to Alexandria due to defects. She was relieved the next day by HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN).

HMS Terror and HMS Gnat also returned to on the 22nd. HMS Terror had lost her mast and sustained some additional damage in the recent heavy weather. HMS Gnat had to clean her boilers. The destroyers remained on the inshore patrol for now. (1)

25 Feb 1941
HMS Parthian (Cdr. M.G. Rimington, DSO, RN) acted as a beacon to guide the ships in that participated in operation 'Abstention'.

A raiding party of 200 commando's was landed by destroyers HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN) and HMS Hereward (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN). Gunboat HMS Ladybird (Lt.Cdr. (retired) J.F. Blackburn, RN) landed Royal Marines. However the operation was a failure as Italian forces led by Admiral Biancheri reacted with vigour and retook the island. (2)

Sources

  1. ADM 199/414
  2. ADM 199/1832

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.


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