Allied Warships

FFL La Combattante

Escort destroyer of the Hunt (Type III) class

NavyThe Free French Navy
TypeEscort destroyer
ClassHunt (Type III) 
Built byFairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. (Govan, Scotland) 
Ordered28 Jul 1940 
Laid down16 Jan 1941 
Launched27 Apr 1942 
Commissioned30 Dec 1942 
Lost23 Feb 1945 
Loss position53° 22'N, 1° 01'E

Loaned to the Free French Navy and renamed La Combattante.

About 23.45 hours on 23 February 1945, the Free French escort destroyer La Combattante hit a mine while on patrol on the inside of the Outer Dowsing Shoal covering the swept channel from a point level with East Dudgeon lightvessel (off Cromer), northwards to the Humber Estuary, and broke in two. The forepart sank immediately in position 53º22'N, 01º01'E, about three miles northeast of East Dudgeon buoy. The other part drifted away on the tide and sank shortly afterwards.
68 of the 185 officers and men on board were lost. The survivors were picked up by the British motor torpedo boats MTB-763 and MTB-770.
The minefield F6/OMS-101 (consisting of 24 LMB ground mines) had been laid in bad weather during the night of 29/30 January 1945 by the German 2.Schnellboot-Flottille (Korvettenkapitän Opdenhoff) off the Humber estuary.

For years it was believed that she was torpedoed and sunk east of Dungeness by the German (Seehund) midget submarine U-5330 (Lt. Sparbrodt) but the ship sunk by this midget submarine was the British cable layer Alert (941 BRT).
Fore more on the operations of Midget submarines see this article.

The forepart of La Combattante lays in 11 meters of water in position 53º22'13"N, 01º01º40"E, the afterpart lays in 25 meters of water in position 53º20'52"N, 01º01'33"E.

See also this website (offsite link and the website is in French language).

Former nameHMS Haldon

We don't have any commands listed for FFL La Combattante

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Notable events involving La Combattante include:

22 Feb 1943
HMS Malaya (Capt. J.W.A. Waller, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Greenock. She was escorted by HMCS Athabascan (Cdr. G.R. Miles, DSO, OBE, RCN), HMS Eggesford (Lt.Cdr. D.W. Austin, RN) and FFS La Combattante (Lt.Cdr. A. Patou).

They arrived at Greenock on 23 February 1943. (1)

5 Mar 1943
HMS Anson (Capt. H.R.G. Kinahan, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral B.A. Fraser, CB, KBE, RN), HMS Furious (Capt. G.T. Philip, DSC, RN), HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN), HMS Newfoundland (Capt. W.R. Slayter, DSC, RN), HMCS Athabascan (Cdr. G.R. Miles, DSO, OBE, RCN), HMS Rapid (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, DSO, RN), HMS Charlestown (Lt. W.F.B. Webb, DSC, RN) and FFS La Combattante (Lt.Cdr. A. Patou) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow.

Upon completion of the exercises HMS Furious, HMS Matchless and HMS Rapid proceeded to the Clyde while the other ships returned to Scapa Flow. (2)

9 Mar 1943
HMS Trespasser (Lt. R.M. Favell, RN) carries out A/S exercises with the Free French escort destroyer La Combattante (Lt.Cdr. A. Patou) and the British minesweeper HMS Salamander (Lt. W.R. Muttram, RN). (3)

12 Mar 1943
HMS Usurper (Lt. D.R.O. Mott, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Scapa Flow with La Combattante (Lt.Cdr. A. Patou), HMS Brissenden (Lt. D.C. Beatty, RN) and HMS Echo (Lt. R.H.C. Wyld, RN). (4)

20 Oct 1943
Around 1500A/20, HMS Resolution (A/Capt. A.M. Bingeman, RN) departed the Firth of Forth for Portsmouth. On departure she was escorted by the destroyer HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. D.C. Kinloch, RN) which had departed Scapa Flow for this duty around 0500A/20.

Around 0520A/21, when off Duncansby Head, HNoMS Stord (Lt.Cdr. S.V. Storheill) joined and HMS Obedient parted company.

Around 1000A/21, when near Cape Wrath, HNoMS Stord parted company. HMS Resolution then proceeded unescorted from Cape Wrath to The Lizard.

At 0640A/23, off The Lizard, the escort destroyers HMS Tanatside (Lt.Cdr. F.D. Brown, RN), HMS Albrighton (Lt. J.J.S. Hooker, RN) and La Combattante (Lt.Cdr. A. Patou), joined.

They passed the boom and entered The Solent around 1810A/23. (5)

14 Dec 1943
Around 1000A/14, HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN), after having first carried out D/G trials, departed Portsmouth for Scapa Flow. She is escorted by the escort destroyers HMS Stevenstone (T/A/Lt.Cdr. H.M. Duff-Still, DSO, RNVR) and La Combattante (Lt.Cdr. A. Patou).

Around 1515A/14, the original destroyer escort parted company upon them being replaced by the escort destroyers HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.J. Kirkby, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Tanatside (Cdr. B.J. de St. Croix, RN). They remained in company until around 2000A/14.

At 0940A/15, the destroyers HMS Tuscan (Lt.Cdr. B. Newby, RN) and HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN) joined and HMS Queen Elizabeth started a bombardment exercise.

At 1130A/15, HMS Black Prince (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN) joined and more exercises were carried out.

HMS Queen Elizabeth arrived at Scapa Flow around mid-afternoon. (6)


  1. ADM 53/117877
  2. ADM 53/118274
  3. ADM 173/18253
  4. ADM 173/18389
  5. ADM 53/118447 + ADM 199/2281
  6. ADM 53/118390

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

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