Allied Warships

HMS Grafton (H 89)

Destroyer of the G class

Photo from Imperial War Museum (IWM), FL-22287

NavyThe Royal Navy
PennantH 89 
Built byThornycroft (Southampton, U.K.) 
Ordered5 Mar 1934 
Laid down30 Aug 1934 
Launched18 Sep 1935 
Commissioned20 Mar 1936 
Lost29 May 1940 
Loss position51° 24'N, 2° 49'E

In the early morning of 29 May 1940, HMS Grafton (Cdr. Cecil Edmund Charles Robinson, RN) was returning to Dover with a load of rescued men from Dunkerque and came upon the sinking British destroyer HMS Wakeful, which had been hit by a German S-boot.

Also at the scene were drifters Comfort and Nautilus as well as minesweeper Lydd. Grafton went alongside and began taking men aboard when she was torpedoed by the German submarine U-62. The torpedo hit at the stern, then a second, hitherto unexplained explosion, occurred in the bridge area, which killed the Captain and 3 other officers that were on the bridge.

The torpedo (the sub had fired only one) blew the stern off but the destroyer remained afloat and on an even keel. At this juncture, drifter Comfort, having been swamped by the torpedo detonation and forced to cast off from Wakeful, was sighted by Lydd and mistaken for an S-boot. She was taken under fire from Grafton and Lydd, then rammed and sunk by the latter with only 5 survivors.

After taking off as many men as possible, Lydd returned to Dover, leaving Grafton alone. Later in the day the British destroyer HMS Ivanhoe arrived at the scene. After an attempt at taking Grafton in tow failed, in consideration of the danger posed by remaining in the area, Ivanhoe's Captain ordered the scuttling of Grafton by torpedo.

The wreck lies in 24 meters of water in position 51º24'28"N, 02º49'10"E.


Hit by U-boat
Sunk on 29 May 1940 by U-62 (Michalowski).

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

Commands listed for HMS Grafton (H 89)

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1Cdr. Mervyn Somerset Thomas, RN19 Feb 193821 Jan 1940
2Cdr. Cecil Edmund Charles Robinson, RN21 Jan 194029 May 1940 (+)

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Notable events involving Grafton include:

29 Sep 1939
HMS Oswald (Lt.Cdr. G.M. Sladen, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Malta together with HMS Grafton (Cdr. M.S. Thomas, RN). (1)

9 Oct 1939
The battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. V.A.C. Crutchley, VC, DSC, RN), HMS Barham (Capt. H.T.C. Walker, RN), HMS Malaya (Capt. I.B.B. Tower, DSC, RN), the aircraft carrier HMS Glorious (Capt. G. D’Oyly-Hughes, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN), the light cruiser HMS Penelope (Capt. G.D. Yates, RN) and the destroyers HMS Duncan (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN), HMS Daring (Cdr. S.A. Cooper, RN), HMS Dainty (Cdr. F.M. Walton, RN), HMS Grafton (Cdr. M.S. Thomas, RN), HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN), HMS Gipsy (Lt.Cdr. N.J. Crossley, RN) and HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN) conducted exercises off Alexandria.

During the exercises HMS Malaya, HMS Glorious, HMS Daring and HMS Bulldog split off. They were to proceed to the Indian Ocean (Socotra area). They arrived at Port Said later the same day. (2)

11 Oct 1939

Convoy Blue 4.

This convoy departed Port Said on 11 October 1939 for Gibraltar where it arrived on 21 October 1939.

The convoy was made up of the following merchants; Arndale (British (RFA tanker), 8296 GRT, built 1937), Atreus (British, 6547 GRT, built 1911) (this ship parted company with the convoy off Malta), Auris (British (tanker), 8030 GRT, built 1935), British Commander (British (tanker), 6901 GRT, built 1922), British Consul (British (tanker), 6940 GRT, built 1924), British Endeavour (British (tanker), 4580 GRT, built 1927), British Fame (British (tanker), 8406 GRT, built 1936), British Governor (British (tanker), 6840 GRT, built 1926), British Reliance (British (tanker), 7000 GRT, built 1928), Cardium (British (tanker), 8236 GRT, built 1931), City of Baroda (British, 7129 GRT, built 1918), City of Birmingham (British, 5861 GRT, built 1923), City of Dundee (British, 5273 GRT, built 1921), City of Johannesburg (British, 5669 GRT, built 1920), City of Kobe (British, 4373 GRT, built 1924), Clan MacNaughton (British, 6087 GRT, built 1921), Destro (British, 3553 GRT, built 1921), El Aleto (British (tanker), 7203 GRT, built 1927), Frederick S. Fales (British (tanker), 10525 GRT, built 1939), Katha (British, 4357 GRT, built 1938), Linois (French, 7473 GRT, built 1907), Maihar (British, 7563 GRT, built 1917), Matiana (British, 9045 GRT, built 1922), Motrix (French (tanker), 6587 GRT, built 1922), Mulbera (British, 9100 GRT, built 1922), Neuralia (British, 9082 GRT, built 1912), Pegu (British, 8180 GRT, built 1921), Polo (British, 1950 GRT, built 1919), Sardinian Prince (British, 3491 GRT, built 1922), Tabaristan (British, 6251 GRT, built 1914) and Tascalusa (British (tanker), 6499 GRT, built 1913).

Two of these ships came from Alexandria (don’t know which) and joined on the 12th.

Off Malta the merchant vessel Egyptian (British, 2868 GRT, built 1920) joined the convoy.

A/S Escort was provided by the destroyers HMS Duncan (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN), HMS Dainty (Cdr. F.M. Walton, RN) and the minesweeper HMS Sutton (Cdr.(Retd.) G.M. Temple, RN)

In the morning of the 16th HMS Duncan proceeded to Malta to fuel. She returned in the afternoon with the French destroyer Kersaint (Cdr. G.R.J. Rebuffel) after which HMS Dainty and HMS Sutton proceeded to Malta where they remained.

HMS Duncan and Kersaint were relieved on the 17th by HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN) and HMS Grafton (Cdr. M.S. Thomas, RN). They remained with the convoy until the 18th after which the convoy continued unescorted to Gibraltar.

12 Oct 1939
HMS Duchess (Lt.Cdr. R.C.M. White, RN) departed Malta for Gibraltar.

At sea she joined HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN) and HMS Grafton (Cdr. M.S. Thomas, RN) that were also to proceed to Gibraltar and had departed Alexandria on the 10th. (3)

14 Oct 1939
HMS Duchess (Lt.Cdr. R.C.M. White, RN), HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN) and HMS Grafton (Cdr. M.S. Thomas, RN) arrived at Gibraltar. (3)

29 Oct 1939
HMS Grafton (Cdr. M.S. Thomas, RN) picks up 70 survivors from the British merchant Malabar that was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-34 about 180 miles west of Lands End in position 49°57'N, 07°37'W.

13 Jan 1940
HMS Shark (Lt. P.N. Buckley, RN) ended her 3rd war patrol at Harwich.

Shortly before entering harbour A/S exercises were carried out with HMS Grafton (Cdr. C.E.C. Robinson, RN) and HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN). (4)

14 Apr 1940
HMS Diana (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Fame (Cdr. P.N. Walter, RN) and HMS Grafton (Cdr. C.E.C. Robinson, RN) departed the Humber for Rosyth where they arrived around 1500/15.

15 Apr 1940

Convoy NM 1.

This convoy departed Leith at noon on 15 April 1940 for Scapa Flow.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Blackheath (British, 4637 GRT, built 1936), Cedarbank (British, 5159 GRT, built 1924), Charlbury (British, 4836 GRT, built 1940), Cyclops (British, 9076 GRT, built 1906),

Escort was provided by the destroyers HMS Diana (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Fame (Cdr. P.N. Walter, RN) and HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. W. Kitcat, RN). Later they were joined by HMS Grafton (Cdr. C.E.C. Robinson, RN). The convoy arrived at Scapa Flow on the 16th.

26 Apr 1940
The Polish destroyer Burza and the British destroyer HMS Grafton were part of an escort of small convoy (two cargo ships and one tanker). Those vessels were sailing to Skjel Fjord, Norway where an Allied supply base was located. (5)

27 May 1940
On the 27 May HMS Grafton (Cdr. C.E.C. Robinson, RN) ferried 860 men to Dover and returned the following day to pick up another 800. On passage back to England, Grafton stopped to assist with the rescue of survivors from another destroyer that had been sunk, but whilst doing so was herself torpedoed by a U-Boat. Despite being packed with troops, Only 4 people were killed and other vessels took on the remaining troops and ship's company. Grafton was scuttled by gunfire. (5)

29 May 1940
HMS Ivanhoe (Cdr. P.H. Hadow, RN) torpedoed and sank the damaged British destroyer HMS Grafton in the English Channel.

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 173/15861
  2. ADM 199/389
  3. ADM 53/108384
  4. ADM 199/1840
  5. Personal communication

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

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