Allied Warships

HMS Imogen (D 44)

Destroyer of the I class


A prewar photograph showing HMS Imogen

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassI 
PennantD 44 
Built byHawthorn Leslie & Co. (Hebburn-on-Tyne, U.K.) 
Ordered14 Nov 1935 
Laid down18 Jan 1936 
Launched30 Oct 1936 
Commissioned2 Jun 1937 
Lost16 Jul 1940 
Loss position58° 34'N, 2° 54'W
History

HMS Imogen (Cdr. Charles Leslie Firth, RN) was rammed and sunk by the British light cruiser HMS Glasgow. The Imogen cought fire and was abandoned about 5 nautical miles south-east of Duncasby Head, Scotland and sank in position 58º34'N, 02º54'W.

 

Commands listed for HMS Imogen (D 44)

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CommanderFromTo
1Cdr. Eric Barry Kenvyn Stevens, RN14 Jul 193715 Jan 1940
2Cdr. Charles Leslie Firth, RN15 Jan 194016 Jul 1940

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Notable events involving Imogen include:


13 Oct 1939
The French merchant Louisiane was shelled and sunk by German U-boat U-48 about 230 miles west-south-west of Cape Clear. HMS Imogen (Cdr. E.B.K. Stevens, RN) later picks up the survivors.

13 Oct 1939
German U-boat U-42 was sunk south-west of Ireland, in position 49°12'N, 16°00'W, by depth charges from the British destroyers HMS Imogen (Cdr. E.B.K. Stevens, RN) and HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, RN).

14 Oct 1939
The French merchant Bretagne was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-45 about 230 miles south-west of Fastnet. The survivors were later picked up by HMS Imogen (Cdr. E.B.K. Stevens, RN) and HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, RN).

23 Nov 1939

Sinking of the armed merchant cruiser HMS Rawalpindi

Around midday on 21 November 1939 the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, escorted by the light cruisers Köln and Leipzig and the destroyers Z 11 / Bernd von Arnim, Z 12 / Erich Giese and Z 20 / Karl Galster, departed Wilhelmshaven for a raid into the North Atlantic, this was to relieve the pressure of the pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee operating in the South Atlantic. Late on the 21st the escorts left the battlecruisers.

Just after 1500 hours on 23 November the British armed merchant cruiser HMS Rawalpindi (Capt. E.C. Kennedy, (retired), RN) sighted the Scharnhorst. Rawalpindi was part of the British Northern Patrol and was stationed south-east of Iceland in the Iceland-Faroer gap. Captain Kennedy at first tried to outrun the German ship, to report to the Admiralty that he sighted the German pocket battleship Deutschland, still believed to be operating in the North Atlantic, and to buy time so that other ships of the Northern patrol could come to his assistance. Just after 1600 hours, Rawalpindi came within range of the Scharnhorst and was quickly reduced to a flaming wreck. During this engagement Scharnhorst was hit by a 6in shell from Rawalpindi causing only light damage. Scharnhorst and Gneisenau together picked up 27 survivors from Rawalpindi. Rawalpindi finally sank around 2000 hours.

The British light cruiser HMS Newcastle (Capt J. Figgins, RN), that was also part of the Northern Patrol, picked up Rawalpindi's signal and closed the scene. She sighted the Gneisenau but the Germans managed to escape in the fog.

The Admiralty also thought the ship sighted by Rawalpindi and Newcastle was the Deutschland that was trying to return to Germany. In response to the sighting and destruction of the Rawalpindi the Admiralty took immediate action;
The battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN with Admiral Forbes aboard) HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN) and the heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire (Capt. J.M. Mansfield, DSC, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. C.S. Daniel, RN), HMS Fame (Cdr. P.N. Walter, RN), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, RN), HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN), HMS Fortune (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, RN) and HMS Fury (Cdr. G.F. Burghard, RN) departed the Clyde to patrol of Norway to cut off the way to Germany for the Deutschland.

The light cruisers HMS Southampton (Capt. F.W.H. Jeans, CVO, RN), HMS Edinburgh (Capt. F.C. Bradley, RN) and HMS Aurora (Capt. G.B. Middleton, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Afridi (Capt. G.H. Creswell, DSC, RN), HMS Gurkha (Cdr. F.R. Parham, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, RN) and HMS Isis (Cdr. J.C. Clouston, RN) departed Rosyth to patrol between the Orkney and Shetland islands.

Light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. E. de F. Renouf, CVO, RN) was sent from Loch Ewe to the last known position of the German ship(s).

On northern patrol, south of the Faroes were the light cruisers HMS Caledon (Capt. C.P. Clark, RN), HMS Cardiff (Capt. P.K. Enright, RN) and HMS Colombo (Capt. R.J.R. Scott, RN). These were joined by HMS Dunedin (Capt. C.E. Lambe, CVO, RN) and HMS Diomede (Capt. E.B.C. Dicken, RN).

Of the ships of the Denmark strait patrol, the heavy cruisers HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) and HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.G.B. Wilson, MVO, DSO, RN) were ordered to proceed to the Bill Bailey Bank (to the south-west of the Faroes).

The light cruiser HMS Glasgow (Capt. F.H. Pegram, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Maori (Cdr. G.N. Brewer, RN) and HMS Zulu (Cdr. J.S. Crawford, RN) were already at sea patrolling north-east of the Shetlands were to be joined by the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, RN), HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, RN) and HMS Imogen (Cdr. E.B.K. Stevens, RN).

Despite the British effort to intercept the German ships, both German battlecruisers returned to Wilhelmshaven on the 27th.

10 Dec 1939

Convoy TC 1.

This convoy of troopships departed Halifax at 0510 hours on 10 December 1939 for the Clyde where it arrived on 17 December 1939.

The convoy was made up of the following troopships / liners; Aquitania (British, 44786 GRT, built 1914, carrying 2638 troops), Duchess of Bedford (British, 20123 GRT, built 1928, carrying 1312 troops), Empress of Australia (British, 21833 GRT, built 1914, carrying 1235 troops), Empress of Britain (British, 42348 GRT, built 1931, carrying 1303 troops) and Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931, carrying 961 troops),

Close escort was provided on leaving Halifax by the battleship HMS Resolution (Capt. O. Bevir, RN) and the Canadian destroyers HMCS Fraser (Cdr. W.N. Creery, RCN), HMCS Ottawa (Capt. G.C. Jones, RCN), HMCS Restigouche (Lt.Cdr. W.B.L. Holms, RCN) and HMCS St. Laurent (Lt.Cdr. H.G. de Wolf, RCN). These Canadian destroyers remained with the convoy until 12 December 1939 when they set course to return to Halifax.

Cover for the convoy was provided by the battlecruiser HMS Repulse (Capt. E.J. Spooner, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. M.L. Clarke, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Emerald (Capt. A.W.S. Agar, VC, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Hunter (Lt.Cdr. L. de Villiers, RN) and HMS Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicholson, RN). At dusk on the 10th both destroyers were detached to join the local escort. They returned to Halifax with the Canadian destroyers.

Early on the 15th, HMS Emerald was detached, HMS Newcastle (Capt. J. Figgins, RN) had joined the cover force in the afternoon of the 14th to take her place.

When the convoy approached the British isles, the destroyers HMS Eskimo (Cdr. St.J.A. Micklethwait, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, RN), HMS Mashona (Cdr. P.V. McLaughlin, RN), HMS Somali (Capt. R.S.G. Nicholson, DSC, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Fearless (Cdr. K.L. Harkness, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, RN) and HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, RN) departed the Clyde on the 12th to sweep ahead of the convoy. HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN) was also to have sailed but was unable to join. HMS Matabele (Cdr. G.K. Whitmy-Smith, RN) was sailed in her place and later joined the other destroyers at sea.

After German warships had been reported in the North Sea, and concerned for the safety of convoy TC.1, Admiral Forbes, departed the Clyde on the 13th to provide additional cover with the battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. V.A.C. Crutchley, VC, DSC, RN), HMS Barham (Capt. H.T.C. Walker, RN), battlecruiser HMS Hood (Capt. Sir I.G. Glennie, RN) and the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, RN), HMS Imogen (Cdr. E.B.K. Stevens, RN), HMS Imperial, HMS Isis (Cdr. J.C. Clouston, RN) and HMS Foxhound (Lt.Cdr. P.H. Hadow, RN). The destroyers HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN) and HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, RN) sailed from Loch Ewe and later joined this force at sea. Three cruisers from the Northern Patrol were ordered to patrol in position 53°55’N, 25°00’W to provide cover for the convoy. These were the heavy cruisers HMS Berwick (Capt. I.M. Palmer, DSC, RN), HMS Devonshire (Capt. J.M. Mansfield, DSC, RN) and the light cruiser HMS Glasgow (Capt. F.H. Pegram, RN).

The light cruisers HMS Southampton (Capt. F.W.H. Jeans, CVO, RN), HMS Edinburgh (Capt. F.C. Bradley, RN) departed Rosyth to patrol between the Shetlands and the Faroes.

The destroyers HMS Afridi (Capt. G.H. Creswell, DSC, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr. G.N. Brewer, RN) and HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN) departed Rosyth and proceeded north at high speed to try to cut of the enemy warhips if they were to enter the Atlantic.

The light cruisers HMS Cardiff (Capt. P.K. Enright, RN), HMS Ceres (Capt. E.G. Abbott, AM, RN), HMS Delhi (Capt L.H.K. Hamilton, DSO, RN), HMS Diomede (Capt. E.B.C. Dicken, RN) which were on the Northern Patrol were to concentrate near the Faroes where they were joined by HMS Colombo (Capt. R.J.R. Scott, RN) and HMS Dragon (Capt. R.G. Bowes-Lyon, MVO, RN) which were on passage to their patrol stations.

Nothing happened and the convoy arrived safely in the Clyde on 17 December 1939. (1)

19 Dec 1939
HMS Barham (Capt. H.T.C. Walker, RN), HMS Repulse (Capt. E.J. Spooner, DSO, RN) escorted by HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, RN), HMS Imogen (Cdr. E.B.K. Stevens, RN), HMS Isis (Cdr. J.C. Clouston, RN) and HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN) departed the Clyde. They were to provide cover for convoy HN 5 (from Norway to the U.K.) and afterwards for the ships of the Northern Patrol.

At 1700 hours this day, while in position 55°30'N, 05°02'W HMS Khartoum reported that a torpedo had been fired at her and she made three A/S attacks. Also HMS Isis attacked a submarine contact. No German submarine reported attacking a destroyer and being counter attacked so the A/S contacts must have been bogus. (2)

22 Dec 1939
It was time for the destroyers to start refueling so at 2000/22 HMS Imogen (Cdr. E.B.K. Stevens, RN) and HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN) parted company with HMS Barham (Capt. H.T.C. Walker, RN), HMS Repulse (Capt. E.J. Spooner, DSO, RN), HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, RN) and HMS Isis (Cdr. J.C. Clouston, RN). They then proceeded to Sullom Voe to fuel and returned at 1045/24.

At 2015/24, HMS Icarus and HMS Isis parted company to proceed to Sullom Voe to fuel. They returned at 1230/26.

At 2005/26, HMS Inglefield parted company to fuel at Sullom Voe. She rejoined the force at 0855/28. (3)

19 Jan 1940

Convoy HN 7

This convoy was assembled in Norwegian waters near Bergen on 19 January 1940 and arrived at Methil on 22 January 1940.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Almora (Norwegian, 2433 GRT, built 1905), Baltanglia (British, 1523 GRT, built 1921), Briarwood (British, 4019 GRT, built 1930), Brott (Norwegian, 1583 GRT, built 1937), Bruse (Norwegian, 2205 GRT, built 1933), Canopus (Finnish, 1592 GRT, built 1911), Castor (Finnish, 1225 GRT, built 1906), Cygnus (Norwegian, 1333 GRT, built 1921), Delfinus (Norwegian, 1293 GRT, built 1912), Erica (Norwegian, 1592 GRT, built 1919), Folda (British, 1165 GRT, built 1920), Galatea (Norwegian, GRT, 1151 built 1912), Granfoss (Norwegian, 1461 GRT, built 1913), Graziella (Norwegian, 2137 GRT, built 1917), Havborg (Norwegian, 1234 GRT, built 1924), Helfrid (Swedish, 719 GRT, built 1922), Komet (Norwegian, 1147 GRT, built 1912), Kongshaug (Norwegian, 1156 GRT, built 1898), Libra (Norwegian, 1536 GRT, built 1917), Nina (Norwegian, 1371 GRT, built 1917), Nydalen (Norwegian, 625 GRT, built 1920), Oinaas (Finnish, 1423 GRT, built 1910), Parma (Finnish, 2010 GRT, built 1898), Pluto (Norwegian, 1598 GRT, built 1918), Rosenborg (Finnish, 1512 GRT, built 1919), Rym (Norwegian, 1369 GRT, built 1919), Saxen (Swedish, 1135 GRT, built 1921), Sitona (Norwegian, 1143 GRT, built 1920), Skum (Norwegian, 1304 GRT, built 1916), Snyg (Norwegian, 1326 GRT, built 1918), Solhavn (Norwegian, 1630 GRT, built 1918), Spes (Norwegian, 1142 GRT, built 1918), Svanholm (British, 1321 GRT, built 1922), Sverre Nergaard (Swedish, 1030 GRT, built 1900), Thyra (Norwegian, 1655 GRT, built 1918), Torbrand (Norwegian, 308 GRT, built 1918), Veni (Norwegian, 2982 GRT, built 1901), Vespasian (Norwegian, 1570 GRT, built 1935), Vesta (Norwegian, 1310 GRT, built 1930) and Vestra (Norwegian, 1422 GRT, built 1904).

Escort was provided by the following destroyers; HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, RN), HMS Imogen (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. R.G.K. Knowling, RN).

Cover was provided by the light cruisers HMS Glasgow (Capt. F.H. Pegram, RN) and HMS Edinburgh (Capt. C.M. Blackman, DSO, RN).

13 Feb 1940
HMS Thistle (Cdr. R.W. Stirling-Hamilton, RN) departed from Rosyth for convoy escort duty. She is part of the escort of convoy ON-12 that arrived safely at Bergen, Norway on 16 February. Other ships of the escort were light cruiser HMS Edinburgh (Capt. F.C. Bradley, RN) and destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC, RN), HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN) and HMS Delight (Cdr. M. Fogg-Elliott, RN). On the 15th the anti-aircraft cruiser HMS Calcutta (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN) and the destroyer HMS Imogen (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN) joined the escort. (4)

16 Feb 1940

Convoy HN 12

This convoy departed from Norway, near Bergen on 16 February 1940. The bulk of the convoy arrived at Methil on 19 February 1940.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Activ (Norwegian , 507 GRT, built 1903), Amsterdam (Dutch, 7329 GRT, built 1922), Arnold Bratt (Swedish, 1430 GRT, built 1925), Bera (Swedish, 11286 GRT, built 1939), Columba (Norwegian, 1118 GRT, built 1929), Consul Bratt (Swedish, 1117 GRT, built 1913), Frode (Norwegian, 697 GRT, built 1917), Gottfrid (Finnish, 1592 GRT, built 1899), Hundvaag (Norwegian, 690 GRT, built 1908), Iberia (Swedish, 1399 GRT, built 1903), Kongshavn (Norwegian, 751 GRT, built 1906), Liv (Norwegian, 3068 GRT, built 1906), Maria Toft (Danish, 1911 GRT, built 1928), Meteor (Norwegian, 3717 GRT, built 1904), Mimer (Norwegian, 1143 GRT, built 1905), Rex (Swedish, 1013 GRT, built 1877), Rosten (Norwegian, 737 GRT, built 1920), Roy (Norwegian, 1768 GRT, built 1921), Sekstant (Norwegian, 1626 GRT, built 1919), Skarv (Norwegian, 852 GRT, built 1923), Stig Gorthon (Swedish, 2241 GRT, built 1924), Svanholm (British, 1321 GRT, built 1922), Vaga (Norwegian, 1612 GRT, built 1924), Viiu (Estonian, 1908 GRT, built 1917), Vim (Norwegian, 1114 GRT, built 1913) and Wipunen (Finnish, 4103 GRT, built 1913).

Escort was provided by the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC, RN), HMS Imogen (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN) and HMS Delight (Cdr. M. Fogg-Elliott, RN). Anti-Aircraft protection was provided until the afternoon of the 17th by the anti-aircraft cruiser HMS Calcutta (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN) which then proceeded to Sullom Voe. The submarine HMS Thistle (Cdr. R.W. Stirling-Hamilton, RN) was also part of the convoy escort.

The destroyer HMS Daring (Cdr. S.A. Cooper, RN) joined the convoy at sea on the 16th having departed Rosyth on the 15th.

Cover for the convoy was provided until 17 February by the light cruisers HMS Edinburgh (Capt. F.C. Bradley, RN) and HMS Arethusa (Capt. Q.D. Graham, RN).

HMS Edinburgh and HMS Aurora were detached on the 17th to Scapa Flow where they arrived the next day. They were escorted by HMS Inglefield and HMS Imogen.

On the 18th the convoy was joined by three merchant ships from the Orkneys and by their escort, the destroyer HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN).

Shortly before 0400 hours, on the 18th, HMS Daring was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-23 about 40 nautical miles east of the Pentland Firth in position 58°40'N, 01°35'W. HMS Thistle sights the sinking destroyer and directs the other destroyers to the rescue. HMS Inglefield (appartenly returned) picked up one officer and three ratings from a Carley float and HMS Ilex another rating from wreckage, they are the only survivors. 156 of the crew are lost. HMS Ilex also hunted the U-boat without success. (4)

25 Feb 1940
German U-boat U-63 tried to attack convoy HN-14, in doing so she was sighted by the British submarine HMS Narwhal (Lt.Cdr. E.R.J. Oddie, RN). The escorting destroyers HMS Escort (Lt.Cdr. J. Bostock, RN), HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, RN) and HMS Imogen (Cdr. C.L. Firth, RN) were warned. They located, attacked and sank U-63 with depth charges south east of the Shetland Islands.

26 Jun 1940
HMS Talisman (Lt.Cdr. P.S. Francis, RN) conducted trials off Liverpool. Upon completion of these she departed Liverpool Bay for Greenock. She was escorted by HMS Imogen (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN). (5)

1 Jul 1940
Heaving completed her repairs at Liverpool HMS Barham (Capt G.C. Cooke, RN) departed that place for Scapa Flow. She was escorted by HMS Imogen (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Warwick (Lt.Cdr. M.A.G. Child, RN), HMS Atherstone (Cdr. H.W.S. Browning, RN) and HMS Fernie (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, RN). (6)

2 Jul 1940
HMS Barham (Capt G.C. Cooke, RN) and her escorts; HMS Imogen (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Warwick (Lt.Cdr. M.A.G. Child, RN), HMS Atherstone (Cdr. H.W.S. Browning, RN) and HMS Fernie (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, RN), arrived at Scapa Flow. (6)

Media links


British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

Sources

  1. ADM 199/367 + ADM 199/393
  2. ADM 199/393
  3. ADM 53/107660
  4. ADM 199/373
  5. ADM 173/16581
  6. ADM 53/111548

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


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