HMS Mohawk (F 31)
Destroyer of the Tribal class
|Navy||The Royal Navy|
|Built by||Thornycroft (Southampton, U.K.)|
|Ordered||10 Mar 1936|
|Laid down||16 Jul 1936|
|Launched||5 Oct 1937|
|Commissioned||7 Sep 1938|
|Lost||16 Apr 1941|
|Loss position||34° 56'N, 11° 42'E|
Note. Map of attack temporarily disabled due to huge Google Maps price increase (20 July 2018).
Industrial difficulties delayed the completion of HMS Mohawk. Builder's trials were carried out but she was not ready for her crew until September 1938. After workups were completed, the destroyer sailed for Malta arriving there on 13th October. In February 1939, she arrived in Gibraltar for exercises and later, was assigned individual patrols and cruises. For most of the next few months, Mohawk stayed with Afridi's division cruising among the Greek Islands and visiting Athens, Greece. In August, Mohawk spent several weeks drydocked in Malta, then returned to the eastern Mediterranean to concentrate on contraband control duties.
Early in 1940, Mohawk was engaged in a number of convoy escorts and fleet sweeps in the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean. On 3 March, she helped escort the brand new liner Queen Elizabeth out of the Clyde River and remained with her until the first stage of the voyage to New York City was complete. Mohawk almost missed this great opportunity as a result of a collision with the steamship Gartbrattan. Mohawk carried out her assignment in a slightly damaged state then set sail for repairs at Troon.
The British Admiralty, anticipating Italian aggression in the Mediterranean, decided to move destroyers there to help screen the big ships. HMS Mohawk and HMS Nubian, as part of the 14th Destroyer Flotilla (14th D.F.), were among the first vessels selected to escort capital ships in this area. At 1645hours on 10 June 1940, Italy declared war on the United Kingdom starting at 0001hours. By 0100hours, the Mediterranean Fleet was at sea and approached to within 120 miles of the Italian coast, then returned to Alexandria, Egypt on the 14th of June.
On the 8th of July, the British and Italian Fleets clashed in the Battle of Calabria, In the ensuing conflict, the Italian navy made smoke and their ships raced for cover. HMS Mohawk and HMS Nubian were instructed to open fire if any of the enemy ships darted out of the smoke in order to fire torpedoes on British ships. For the next month, the 14th D.F. was involved in a series of sweeps and patrols in the Eastern Mediterranean hunting for U-boats and surface ships. Sometimes they were attacked but action was scarce.
On 27 August 1940, Mohawk and the other ships of the 14th D.F. left Alexandria for a fast passage to Gibraltar in order to team up with other ships already there. This large force provided escort coverage for the next convoy to Malta. From 19th to 27th October, there was a brief quiet time for the ship and minor repairs were carried out at Alexandria. This lull ended on the 28th when Italy attacked Greece. Immediately, the fleet sailed sweeping right into the Ionian Sea but no Italian forces were encountered. By 6th November, the Mediterranean Fleet had left Alexandria to provide cover for convoys crossing to and from Malta. On 11th November, Mohawk and other capital British ships detached from the Commander-in-Chief and headed for the Straits of Oranto with the objective of enhearting the Greeks and dealing the enemy a blow in his own waters. After a short skirmish with the Italian navy, the Fleet returned to Alexandria on 14th November.
At 0500hours on 7 January 1941, the battlefleet once again sailed from Alexandria to cover a complicated movement of convoys to and from Greece and Malta including the Excess convoy which passed right through the middle of the Mediterranean. Again, there were German air attacks and engagements with Italian destroyers and torpedo boats. Luckily, the Fleet returned to Alexandria somewhat damaged but without having lost a single merchant ship to the enemy. Mohawk's luck changed very suddenly.
On 10/11 April, she and HMS Jervis, HMS Janus and HMS Nubian arrived at Malta to act as a night striking force. After two night patrols nothing was sighted, however, on 15th April, Allied reconnaissance located a Tripoli bound convoy off Cape Bon. The 14th D.F. left Malta in search of the enemy and made contact just off the coast of Africa. A fierce battle developed with the Italian navy. Smoke, explosions, shell splashes, burning ships and torpedoes confused the night sea. During the action, Mohawk evaded a bow ramming from the lead German merchantman in the convoy. Just as the destroyer opened fire, a torpedo from the Italian destroyer Tarigo hit her just abreast of 'Y' mounting on the starboard side. The whole of the stern from the superstructure aft was blown away and Mohawk was awash as far as ''X mounting. The crew of 'Y' gun and the supply party were all killed. 'A' and 'B' guns continued firing on the merchantman and set her on fire. During this time, Mohawk had been motionless in the water. Just as the destroyer made an attempt to get under way, a second torpedo arrived hitting portside between No.2 and No.3 Boiler Rooms. The No.3 boiler burst, scalding people on deck. The centerline of the upperdeck split open allowing the torpedo tubes to fall into the engine room and crushed the watch below. Immediately HMS Mohawk (Cdr. John William Musgrave Eaton, RN) started to sink. All remaining hands were called to deck. Within a minute, she was listing heavy to port, rolling over until she lay on her side. There was no time to launch lifeboats but six 'Carleys' managed to float clear. Most of the crew were left in the water as Mohawk sank. Her stern touched the bottom with her fo'c'sle above the surface. Survivors were picked up by HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN) while HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN) was ordered to sink the dying destroyer by firing 4.7" shells into her fo'c'sle. Mohawk slipped beneath the surface in position 34º56'N, 11º42'E and 41 men were lost with her.
Commands listed for HMS Mohawk (F 31)
Please note that we're still working on this section.
|1||Cdr. Richard Frank Jolly, RN||12 Jul 1938||16 Oct 1939 (+)|
|2||Lt. Denis Guy Douglas Hall-Wright, RN||16 Oct 1939||19 Oct 1939|
|3||Cdr. John William Musgrave Eaton, RN||19 Oct 1939||16 Apr 1941|
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Notable events involving Mohawk include:
16 Oct 1939
While providing escort for a North Sea convoy on 16th October 1939, HMS Mohawk (Cdr R.F. Jolly, RN) was attacked by a German Ju-88 aircraft. Before the aircraft was destroyed, it released two bombs which fell to starboard (abreast of the bridge) and to port (abreast of the torpedo tubes). The bombs exploded on the surface of the sea well before most men had time to reach their action stations. Machine gun bullets and jagged metal splinters decimated the mooring party on the fo'c'sle, slashed through the bridge, the wheelhouse, the director and the communications system. The personnel manning the machine guns, the search light position and after control position were mowed down by the projectiles. Fifteen men were killed and thirty injured, mostly experienced officers. On the bridge, Cdr R.F. Jolly, RN suffered a mortal stomach wound. While denying the comfort of medical attention, and in great pain and suffering, he commanded his ship for 35 miles until she was safely in port. After being taken to hospital at South Queensferry, Scotland, he died several hours later. For his gallantry, the Captain was awarded the George Cross posthumously. The ship was patched up at Rosyth then made her way to the Hawthorn Leslie Yard on the Tyne river for permanent repairs and a refit.
16 Dec 1939
HMS Triad (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, RN) departed from Rosyth for convoy escort duties. She is part of the escort of convoy ON-5 from Methyl to Norway. Other ships of the escort force were HMS Afridi (Capt. G.H. Creswell, DSC, RN), HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN) and HMS Maori (Cdr. G.N. Brewer, RN). HMS Mohawk (Cdr. J.W.M. Eaton, RN) joined at sea on 18 December. (1)
21 Dec 1939
HMS Triad (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, RN) joins convoy HN-5 from Norway to Methil. Escort was provided by HMS Afridi (Capt. G.H. Creswell, DSC, RN), HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr. G.N. Brewer, RN) and HMS Mohawk (Cdr. J.W.M. Eaton, RN). HMS Escapade (Cdr. H.R. Graham, RN) later joined at sea.
At 1140 hours, HMS Manchester (Capt. H.H. Bousfield, RN), HMS Southampton (Capt. F.W.H. Jeans, CVO, RN), HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN) and HMS Glasgow (Capt. F.H. Pegram, RN) were detached for an operation in Norwegian territorial waters (operate against German forces in water at and around Bergen). They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Afridi (Capt. P.L. Vian, RN), HMS Gurkha (Cdr. A.W. Buzzard, RN), HMS Sikh (Cdr. J.A. Giffard, RN), HMS Mohawk (Cdr. J.W.M. Eaton, RN), HMS Somali (Capt. R.S.G. Nicholson, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Matabele (Cdr. G.K. Whitmy-Smith, RN) and HMS Mashona (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN).
Soon after 1400 hours however a signal was received cancelling the operation and the ships set course to re-join the fleet.
In the afternoon the German Luftwaffe however started to attack the ships and near missed lightly damaged HMS Southampton and HMS Glasgow. HMS Gurkha was however sunk. Survivors were picked up by HMS Aurora (Capt. L.H.K. Hamilton, DSO, RN) who was also on her way to join the Home Fleet at sea.
Later on the 9th most of the ships involved in the intended opertion against Bergen were ordered to proceed to Scapa Flow or Sullom Voe for refuelling. (3)
30 May 1940
HMS Oswald (Lt.Cdr. D.A. Fraser, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Alexandria together with HMS HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN) and HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN) and later on the day together with HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN) and HMS Mohawk (Cdr. J.W.M. Eaton, RN). (4)
21 Jul 1940
Convoy operations AN 2 and AS 2
Convoys to and from the Aegean.
On 21 July 1940 six merchant vessels departed Port Said and two departed Alexandria. The next day they merged into convoy AN 2 at sea. The six merchant ships coming from Port Said had been escorted by the destroyers HMS Dainty (Cdr. M.S. Thomas, DSO, RN) and HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN). The two merchant ships coming from Alexandria were escorted by the light cruisers HMS Liverpool (Capt. A.D. Read, RN), HMS Capetown (Capt. T.H. Back, RN) and the destroyers HMAS Stuart (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, RAN) and HMS Diamond (Lt.Cdr. P.A. Cartwright, RN). After the rendez-vous the convoy proceeded northwards to the Aegean. While in the Aegean the ships were to disperse and proceed independently towards their destinations covered by the escorting warships.
Distant cover for this convoy was provided by the battleship HMS Ramillies (Capt. H.T. Baillie-Grohman, OBE, DSO, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC, RN) and HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.deW. Kitcat, RN). This force departed Alexandria at 0400/23 and returned in the afternoon of the 26th.
A diversion was also created by having the light cruiser HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMAS Vampire (Cdr. J.A. Walsh, RAN) and HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, RAN) appear of Castellorizio island on 23 July 1940. They had sailed from Alexandria at 0001/24. HMS Orion then proceeded to Haifa while the destroyers proceeded to Port Said.
The escorting warships from convoy AN 2 were then to escort a convoy coming from the Aegean (AS 2) southwards. This convoy was formed off the Dardanelles on 27 July 1940 and was escorted in the Aegean by HMS Capetown, HMAS Stuart and HMS Defender. The next day the convoy was joined by HMS Liverpool, HMS Dainty and HMS Diamond and passed through the Kaso Strait.
Distant cover for this convoy was provided by the battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. D.B. Fisher, OBE, RN), HMS Malaya (Capt. A.F.E. Palliser, DSC, RN), HMS Ramillies, aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. A.R.M. Bridge, RN), light cruisers HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN), HMAS Sydney (Capt. J.A. Collins, CB, RAN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO, RN), HMS Juno (Cdr. W.E. Wilson, RN), HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN), HMS Mohawk (Cdr. J.W.M. Eaton, RN), HMS Hyperion, HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, RN), HMS Hereward, HMS Ilex, HMS Imperial and HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, RN) which departed Alexandria at 0330/27.
Again a diversion was created by having the light cruiser HMS Orion escorted by the destroyers HMAS Vampire and HMAS Vendetta appear of Castellorizio island but this time the ocean boarding vessels HMS Chakla (Cdr. L.C. Bach, RD, RNR) and HMS Fiona (Cdr. A.H.H. Griffiths, RD, RNR) were added to the force so that it appeared that troops were going to be landed on the island in the evening of the 27th. The destroyers and the ocean boarding vessels departed at 0700/27 and then made rendez-vous with HMS Orion which came from Haifa.
HMS Warspite escorted by HMS Hyperion, HMS Ilex and HMS Imperial returned to Alexandria at 2000/29. In the approaches to Alexandria the destroyer screen was reinforced by the destroyers HMS Hostile (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN) and HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN).
The remaining warships returned to Alexandria the following day except for HMS Capetown, HMS Dainty and HMS Diamond which went with the convoy to Port Said. The following merchant ships made up the convoy; British cargo ships Bantria (2407 GRT, built 1928) and Sardinian Price (3491 GRT, built 1922), Norwegian cargo ship Bruse Jarl (1890 GRT, built 1923) and the Greek cargo ship Perseus (5178 GRT, built 1918).
During this operation the cruisers HMS Neptune and HMAS Sydney made a anti-shipping raid in the Gulf of Athens sinking the small Greek tanker Ermioni (436 GRT, built 1902) which was transporting fuel for the Italians in the Dodecanese. They had separated from the fleet to intercept this ship on the 27th.
During 27 to 29 July 1940 the Allied ships were attacked several times by the Italian air force but no hits were obtained except a dud bomb hit on HMS Liverpool on the 29th causing one crewmember to be killed and two to be wounded. (5)
17 Aug 1940
In the early morning the British battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. D.B. Fisher, CBE, RN), HMS Malaya (Capt. A.F.E. Palliser, DSC, RN), HMS Ramillies (Capt. H.T. Baillie-Grohman, OBE, DSO, RN) the British heavy cruiser HMS Kent (Capt. D. Young-Jamieson, RN) escorted by the British destroyers HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN), HMS Mohawk (Cdr. J.W.M. Eaton, RN), Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Hostile (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC, RN), HMS Diamond (Lt.Cdr. P.A. Cartwright, RN), HMS Juno (Cdr. W.E. Wilson, RN) and the Australian destroyers HMAS Stuart (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, RAN), HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RAN) and HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, RAN) carried out a bombardment of Italian positions around the fortress of Bardia.
17 Sep 1940
British raid on Benghazi; Aircraft from the British aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (Capt. D.W. Boyd, DSC, RN) attacked Italian ships in Benghazi harbour. Also mines were laid off the harbour. The destroyer Borea was sunk by torpedo, The destroyer Aquilone was mined and sunk. The merchants Gloria Stella (5490 GRT) and Maria Eugenia (4702 GRT) were also sunk during the attack.
Illustrious was escorted by the British battleship HMS Valiant (Capt. H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN) the British heavy cruiser HMS Kent (Capt. D. Young-Jamieson, RN), the British light cruisers HMS Liverpool (Capt. P.A. Read, RN) HMS Gloucester (Capt. H.A. Rowley, RN), HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN) and the British destroyers HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN), HMS Mohawk (Cdr. J.W.M. Eaton, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN), HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO, RN) and the Australian destroyer HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RAN).
After the attack HMS Kent, escorted by HMS Nubian and HMS Mohawk, was detached to bombard Italian positions at Bardia early on the 18th. However before this could materialise HMS Kent was torpedoed and heavily damaged by Italian torpedo bombers just before midnight. Kent was hit in the stern and badly damaged. Kent was towed to Alexandria by HMS Nubian, escorted by light cruiser HMS Orion, AA cruiser HMS Calcutta (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN) and destroyers HMS Mohawk, HMS Jervis, HMS Juno (Cdr. W.E. Wilson, RN), HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN) and the Australian destroyer HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, RAN).
6 Dec 1940
HMS Regent (Lt.Cdr. H.C. Browne, RN) conducted exercises off Alexandria together with HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO, RN), HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN), HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN) and HMS Mohawk (Cdr. J.W.M. Eaton, RN).
- ADM 199/1847
- ADM 173/16643
- ADM 53/112663 + ADM 186/798
- ADM 173/16374
- ADM 199/386
ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.