Allied Warships

HMS Broke (D 83)

Destroyer of the Shakespeare class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassShakespeare 
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
History

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)

Please note that we're still working on this section.

CommanderFromTo
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:


4 Sep 1939
The battleships HMS Royal Oak (Capt. W.G. Benn, RN) and HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) both departed Scapa Flow to patrol to the east of the Fair Isle Channel. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Broke (Capt. R. Kerr, RN), HMS Wanderer (Cdr. R.F. Morice, RN) and HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN). They were joined at sea early in the afternoon of the 6th by three more destroyers; HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN) and HMS Fury (Cdr. G.F. Burghard, RN).

6 Sep 1939
Late in the afternoon the battleships HMS Royal Oak (Capt. W.G. Benn, RN) and HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) and their escorting destroyers; HMS Broke (Capt. R. Kerr, RN), HMS Wanderer (Cdr. R.F. Morice, RN) and HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN), HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN) and HMS Fury (Cdr. G.F. Burghard, RN) returned to Scapa Flow from their patrol to the east of the Fair Isle Channel.

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.

14 Jun 1940
Convoy US 3, made up of the troopships (liners) Andes (25689 GRT, built 1939), Aquitania (44786 GRT, built 1914), Empress of Britain (42348 GRT, built 1931), Empress of Canada (21517 GRT, built 1922), Mauretania (35739 GRT, built 1939) and Queen Mary (81235 GRT, built 1936) with troop from New Zealand and Australia on board and escorted by the British heavy cruisers HMS Shropshire (Capt. J.H. Edelsten, RN), HMS Cumberland (Capt. the Hon. G.H.E. Russell, RN) and HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. B.C.S. Martin, RN) was joined around 0800 hours by HMS Argus (Capt. H.C. Bovell, RN), which came from Gibraltar, and joined around 1000 hours by the battlecruiser HMS Hood (Capt. I.G. Glennie, RN) escorted by the Canadian destroyers HMCS Restigouche (Lt.Cdr. H.N. Lay, RN), HMCS St. Laurent (Lt.Cdr. H.G. De Wolf, RCN), HMCS Fraser (Cdr. W.B. Creery, RCN) and HMCS Skeena (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Hibbard, RCN) which came from the U.K. Shortly afterwards HMS Dorsetshire left the convoy to proceed to Gibraltar.

Later that day, around 1500 hours, the convoy was joined by the destroyer HMS Wanderer (Cdr. J.H. Ruck-Keene, RN) and around 1600 hours by two more destroyers HMS Broke (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, RN) and HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr. W.F.R. Segrave, RN). (1)

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

Operation Medium.


Bombardment of Cherbourg.

10 October 1940.

The battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) departed Plymouth for a night bombardment of Cherbourg during the night of 10/11 October. She was being escorted by the destroyers HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN), HMS Javelin (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN), HMS Jupiter (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN).

A cover force was also sailed from Plymouth on the same day. This force was to provide cover to the east of the bombardment force and was made up of the light cruisers HMS Newcastle (Capt. E.A. Aylmer, DSC, RN), HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN), the British destroyers HMS Broke (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, RN), HMS Wanderer (Cdr. J.H. Ruck-Keene, DSC, RN and the Polish destroyers Garland (Cdr. K. Namiesniowski, ORP) and Burza (Cdr. A. Doroszkowski, ORP).

The light cruiser HMS Cardiff (Capt. P.K. Enright, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN) and HMS Volunteer (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN) departed Portsmouth to provide cover for the operation to the west of the bombardment force.

A flotilla of MA/SB boats was sailed from Plymouth to provide anti E-boat protection. These were HMS MA/SB 40, HMS MA/SB 42, HMS MA/SB 43, HMS MA/SB 44, HMS MA/SB 45, HMS MA/SB 46 and HMS MA/SB 51.

During the bombardment HMS Revenge fired 120 rounds of 15” in eighteen minutes from range between 14000 and 16000 yards. Her escorting destroyers fired 801 rounds of 4.7” during the first four minutes of the bombardment and then formed a screen on the battleship.

Large fires were seen to erupt in the target area. Shore defences opened up as for being under air attack. The ships were fired on only after the bombardment had ceased. No ships were hit though despite the enemy fire being accurate.

The western cover group returned to Plymouth at 0800/11.

The bombardment force and the eastern cover group arrived at Portsmouth around the same time.

20 Oct 1940
After a suspicious surface vessel was reported off Bolt Head the destroyer HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) departed Plymouth at 1250 hours followed at 1315 hours by the destroyers HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) and Blyskawica (Lt.Cdr. W. Franki).

At 1510 hours HMS Kashmir signalled that there was nothing to report and the destroyers returned to Plymouth. (2)

18 Dec 1940
HMS H 32 (Lt. R.L. Alexander, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Broke (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, RN) and HMS La Malouine (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) R.W. Keymer, RN). (3)

14 Sep 1941
HMS Oberon (Lt.Cdr. E.F. Pizey, DSC, RN) conducted exercises in the Clyde area for the C.O.Q.C. (Commanding Officers Qualifying Course) with HMS Broke (Cdr. W.T. Couchman, OBE, RN). (4)

16 Sep 1941
HMS Oberon (Lt.Cdr. E.F. Pizey, DSC, RN) conducted exercises in the Clyde area for the C.O.Q.C. (Commanding Officers Qualifying Course) with HMS Broke (Cdr. W.T. Couchman, OBE, RN). (4)

17 Sep 1941
HMS H 50 (Lt. N. Marriott, DSC, RN) conducted exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Broke (Cdr. W.T. Couchman, OBE, RN) and aircraft. (5)

14 Nov 1941
HMS H 50 (Lt. E.T. Stanley, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Broke (Cdr. W.T. Couchman, OBE, RN), HMS Wolverine (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Rowland, RN), HMS Caldwell (Lt.Cdr. E.M. Mackay, RD, RNR) and HMS Volunteer (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN). (6)

27 Nov 1941
HMS H 50 (Lt. E.T. Stanley, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Campion (Lt.Cdr. A. Johnson, RNVR) and HMS Broke (Cdr. W.T. Couchman, OBE, RN). (6)

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. (7)

Media links


British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

Sources

  1. ADM 53/112036 + ADM 53/111885 + ADM 53/112448
  2. ADM 199/372
  3. ADM 173/16291
  4. ADM 173/16822
  5. ADM 173/16793
  6. ADM 173/16795
  7. Personal communication

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


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