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 193818 Jan 1940
2Cdr. Cecil Edmund Charles Robinson, RN18 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). (2)

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)

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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