Allied Warships

HMS Exmouth (H 02)

Destroyer of the E class

HMS Exmouth, the leader of the E-class, before World War Two

NavyThe Royal Navy
PennantH 02 
ModFlotilla leader 
Built byPortsmouth Dockyard (Portsmouth, U.K.): Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. (Govan, Scotland) 
Ordered1 Nov 1932 
Laid down16 May 1933 
Launched7 Feb 1934 
Commissioned3 Oct 1934 
Lost21 Jan 1940 
Loss position58° 18'N, 2° 25'W

HMS Exmouth (Capt. Richard Stoddart Benson, DSO, RN) was torpodoed on 21 January 1940 by the German submarine U-22 off Tarbett Ness in the Moray Firth. HMS Exmouth was hit at 0444 hrs, sinking with no survivors in position 58º18'N, 02º25'W, east-south-east of Wick, Scotland. The wreck lies in 40 meter of water.  

Hit by U-boat
Sunk on 21 Jan 1940 by U-22 (Jenisch).

U-boat AttackSee our U-boat attack entry for the HMS Exmouth

Commands listed for HMS Exmouth (H 02)

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1Capt. Richard Stoddart Benson, RN31 Jul 193921 Jan 1940 (+)

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Notable events involving Exmouth include:

7 Dec 1939
HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN) departed the Clyde for Liverpool where she is to undergo repairs to her damaged rudder. Tugs assisted HMS Rodney with steering.

During the passage to Liverpool several destroyer provided escort and A/S sweeps along the route. These were HMS Exmouth (Cdr. R.S. Benson, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN), HMS Fearless (Cdr. K.L. Harkness, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, RN) and HMS Gurkha (Cdr. F.R. Parham, RN).

HMS Rodney arrived at Liverpool on the 9th. She was immediately docked in the Gladstone dry dock.

11 Dec 1939
HMS Barham (Capt. H.T.C. Walker, RN) and her two escorting destroyers, HMS Duncan (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN), HMS Duchess (Lt.Cdr. R.C.M. White, RN), are joined by three more detroyers; HMS Exmouth (Capt. R.S. Benson, DSO, RN) and HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN) joined around 1500 hours while HMS Echo (Cdr. S.H.K. Spurgeon, DSO, RAN) joined shortly after 1700 hours. (1)

12 Dec 1939
While passing through the North Channel and approaching the Clyde HMS Barham (Capt. H.T.C. Walker, RN) and HMS Duchess (Lt.Cdr. R.C.M. White, RN) collided at 0437 hours.

HMS Barham stopped and lowered her seaboats. Around 0450 hours the ready use depth charges on board HMS Duchess exploded and she sank.

Shortly before 0600 hours Barham continued to the Clyde escorted by HMS Duncan (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN) and HMS Exmouth (Cdr. R.S. Benson, DSO, RN).

HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN) and HMS Echo (Cdr. S.H.K. Spurgeon, DSO, RAN) remained behind to search for survivors. Only one officer and twenty-two ratings could be picked up from the water. Six officers and one hunderded and twenty-four ratings were lost.

HMS Barham arrived at the Clyde around noon. (1)

27 Dec 1939
HMS Triumph (Lt.Cdr. J.W. McCoy, RN) is joined by an escort during her return to Rosyth.

0943 hours - Sighted one Hudson aircraft.

0955 hours - There were now four Hudson aircraft overhead.

1056 hours - Sighted one enemy aircraft approaching. The Lewis gun was manned and the bridge was cleared with the exception of the Commanding Officer and the gun crews. The enemy was however driven off by the escorting Hudson aircraft.

1105 hours - Sighted HMS Exmouth (Cdr. R.S. Benson, DSO, RN), HMS Echo (Cdr. S.H.K. Spurgeon, DSO, RAN), HMS Electra (Lt.Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN), HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St.J. Morgan, RN) and HMS Escapade (Cdr. H.R. Graham, RN).

1110 hours - The enemy aircraft again came in to attack but was again driven off by the Hudsons. (2)

7 Jan 1940
HMS Triumph (Lt.Cdr. J.W. McCoy, RN) departed from Rosyth for Chatham dockyard where she will be repaired. She is escorted by HMS Exmouth (Cdr. R.S. Benson, DSO, RN). (3)

8 Jan 1940
HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, RN) takes over the escort of HMS Triumph (Lt.Cdr. J.W. McCoy, RN) from HMS Exmouth (Cdr. R.S. Benson, DSO, RN),

Media links

U-Boat Attack Logs

Daniel Morgan and Bruce Taylor
(£ 38.25)

British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman

Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.


  1. ADM 53/107659
  2. ADM 199/1848
  3. ADM 173/16650

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

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