Allied Warships

HMS Quentin (G 78)

Destroyer of the Q class

NavyThe Royal Navy
PennantG 78 
Built byJ.S. White & Co. (Cowes, U.K.) 
Ordered2 Apr 1940 
Laid down25 Sep 1940 
Launched5 Nov 1941 
Commissioned15 Apr 1942 
Lost2 Dec 1942 
Loss position37° 32'N, 8° 32'E

At 1705 hours of 1 December 1942 HMS Quentin (Lt.Cdr. Allen Herbert Percy Noble, DSC, RN) left Bone harbor with 4 other units of Force "Q", the British light cruisers HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, CB, RN, flying the flag of V.Adm. C.H.J. Harcourt, CBE, RN), HMS Argonaut (Capt. E.W.L. Longley-Cook, RN) and HMS Sirius (Capt. P.W.B. Brooking, RN) and Quentin's sistership the Australian destroyer HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. H.W.S. Browning, OBE, RN).

The purpose of the sortie was intercepting an Italian/German convoy in the Sicilian Narrows. This convoy, designated "H", had sailed from Palermo and was heading towards Bizerte, consisted of Italian freighters Aventino (3794 tgr), Puccini (2422 tgr), Aspromonte (976 tgr) and the German KT 1 (850 tgr), and it was escorted by Italian destroyers Nicoloso da Recco (Capt. Aldo Cocchia), Camicia Nera, Folgore and the Italian torpedo boats Procione and Clio.

Force Q, proceeding at high speed, attacked the convoy on the night of 2 December, destroying it completely. All 4 freighters and the Folgore were sunk, while Nicoloso da Recco and Procione sustained severe damage. The British suffered no damage, demonstrating once more their mastery of night attacks.

The following morning, while returning to Bone, the ships of Force Q were 50 nautical miles bearing 048° from Cap de Guarde (Algeria) when they came under attack, first from German torpedo bombers of KG.26, then by a formation of 13 Ju-88s belonging to II FK.

At 0636 hours, in the uncertain predawn light conditions, HMS Quentin was hit in the side by a 500-kg bomb, which made the British believe they had been torpedoed. Her conditions appeared immediately to be desperate, the crew was removed by HMAS Quiberon under attack by the planes, which damaged her with near-misses. Quentin sank within 4 minutes (at 0640 hrs) in position 37º32'N, 08º32'E. There were 20 dead.

Now we shall describe some of the events relating to the daily activities of Axis air forces against Force Q, extracted from the reports made to OBS (Commander in Chief South 'Feldmarschal Kesselring, Commander Luftflotte II').

As soon as the attack on the Italian/German convoy became known, II FK received the order to take off. Therefore, in the early morning hours, at 0315 hours, from Sardinian airports left 12 He.111 torpedo bombers of I/KG.26 and 4 Ju-88s torpedo bombers of III/KG.26. These were followed shortly by aircraft from Sicily who, between 0437-0447 hours could put in the air 13 Ju-88 bombers of KG.54 in 3 groups, of 3, 4 and 6 planes respectively.

The first to attack the British ships were the torpedo bombers but, due to poor weather, they reported attacking a convoy of La Galite island. In the official bullettin #371 of 4 December 1942 is stated 'sunk an escort vessel, PC-74 and attacked a cruiser with unseen effect due to fog. The majority of the aircraft failed to find the target due to inclement weather'.

From what said above, it is unlikely the ship identified as PC-74 was Quentin. This destroyer was then attacked by 3 Ju-88s of I.KG.54 and the crews reported obtaining one 500-kg bomb hit in the side of a destroyer, leaving her dead in the water. The second wave, consisting of 4 more Ju-88s, dropped their bombs on Quentin, which already had the stern underwater, while the 3rd wave, with 6 Ju-88s of III/KG.54, bombed Quiberon which was seen to stop and trailing a large oil slick. The aircraft then proceeded to Bone to attack harbor targets.

Now about the Italian 130th Gruppo torpedo bombers we ( previously erroneously credited with sinking HMS Quentin.

At 0855 hours, well over 2 hours after HMS Quentin had been hit by the Ju-88s of I.KG.54, on orders of the Air Force Command, Sardinia, 8 S.79 torpedo bombers took off from Elmas airfield to search for, and attack, Force Q. 5 planes belonged to the 283th Squadriglia (Major Franco Melley) and 3 to the 280th Squadriglia (Capt Giuseppe Cimicchi). Once in the air, Major Melley's plane had engine trouble & abotrted the mission, while the remaining 7 planes carried on in single formation. While approaching the British ships, they were attacked by Spitfires, covering their return. North of Bizerte POs Hamblin and Lindsay, of 242 Sqn, attacked first, followed by Wing Cdr Hugo, CO of #322 Wing. Between them, they shot down 4 of the torpedo bombers. The remaining 3 dropped their torpedoes, reported overly optimistically to have hit a cruiser and a freighter. PO Hamblin was shot down by the defensive armament of the torpedo bombers, he parachuted out but was not recovered.

This page was updated on 7 November 2006, we would like to thank Mr. Francesco Mattesini from Italy for the detailed information provided.


Commands listed for HMS Quentin (G 78)

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1Lt.Cdr. Allan Herbert Percy Noble, DSC, RN23 Jan 19422 Dec 1942

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Notable events involving Quentin include:

3 Sep 1942
German U-boat U-162 was sunk in the mid-Atlantic north-east of Trinidad, in position 12°21'N, 59°29'W, by depth charges from the British destroyers HMS Vimy (Lt.Cdr. H.G.D. de Chair, RN) HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMS Quentin (Lt.Cdr. A.H.P. Noble, DSC, RN).

28 Nov 1942
The Italian submarine Dessie was sunk off Annaba, Algeria by the British destroyer HMS Quentin (Lt.Cdr. A.H.P. Noble, DSC, RN) and the Australian destroyer HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. H.W.S. Browning, OBE, RN).

Media links

British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman

Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

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