Allied Warships

HMS Terror (I 03)

Monitor of the Erebus class

HMS Terror before the war

NavyThe Royal Navy
PennantI 03 
Built byHarland & Wolff Ltd. (Govan, Scotland) 
Ordered29 Jul 1915 
Laid down26 Oct 1915 
Launched18 May 1916 
Commissioned6 Aug 1916 
Lost24 Feb 1941 
Loss position32° 59'N, 22° 32'E

HMS Terror played an important part in Operation Compass, the British blitzkrieg against the Italian Army in Libya. Bombarded Italian forces and fortifications, among others the fortified port of Bardia in eastern Libya. HMS Terror also served as water carrier for the advancing British army.

On 23 February 1941 the departure of HMS Terror (Cdr. Henry John Haynes, DSC, RN) the previous day from Benghazi (see events below) was noticed by German recce aircraft and she was located at 1220 hours by a German Ju-88 of 1(F)/121. This plane broadcast her position at 1530 hours and, based on her report, 5 Ju-88s of III/LG.1 (Oberst Arwed Krüger) were ordered to take off from Catania, which they did starting at 1533 hours. After a long flight the planes, each of which carried 1 x 500 and 2 x 250 kg bombs, found the monitor at 1830 hours and made diving attacks in position 32º55'N, 22º45'E, about 90 nautical miles west of Tobruk.

Although the crew of L1+GS (pilot OL Theodor Hagen, observer Feldwebel Karl Cohnen) claimed to have scored on the largest unit with both 250-kg bombs and to have left her burning, no hit were recorded at this time. The 3 near-misses, however, 1 to port, 2 to starboard, were equally fatal, having opened several areas of the old ship to the sea. With her stern wrecked and the machinery rooms flooding, she took a list. Abandoned by the crew at 2200 hours, a tow was attempted by HMS Fareham and HMS Salvia but Terror sank at 0420 hours the following morning in position 32º59'N, 22º32'E, corresponding with 15 nautical miles north-west of Derna.

During the 6 weeks in which she was engaged in supporting the 8th Army, HMS Terror, which had been unsuccessfully attacked on several occasions by Italian VTBs and VBs of the 5th Flotta Aerea (Air Fleet) based in Libya, expended 660 rounds for her main battery. Her loss was a hard blow to the efficiency of the Inshore Squadron as far as support to the land operations in Cyrenaica. Terror was, by displacement, the largest warship sunk in the Med by Ju-88s during the entire war.


Commands listed for HMS Terror (I 03)

Please note that we're still working on this section.

1Cdr. Henry John Haynes, DSC, RN3 Jan 193924 Feb 1941

You can help improve our commands section
Click here to Submit events/comments/updates for this vessel.
Please use this if you spot mistakes or want to improve this ships page.

Notable events involving Terror include:

4 Apr 1940
HMS Terror (Cdr. H.J. Haynes, DSC, RN) arrived at Malta to strengthen the defences against a foreseen Italian entry into the war.

10 Jun 1940
HMS Terror (Cdr. H.J. Haynes, DSC, RN) defended the Maltese harbours during the first Italian air attacks with her Anti Aircraft armament. (1)

10 Nov 1940
HMS Terror (Cdr. H.J. Haynes, DSC, RN) sailed from Malta for Alexandria with convoy ME-3. Remained in Egypt for local defence.

17 Jan 1941

Operation IS 1.

Bombardment of Tobruk.

Timespan; 17 January to 22 January 1941.

At 1800/17 the monitor HMS Terror (Cdr. H.J. Haynes, DSC, RN) and the gunboat HMS Aphis (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) J.O. Campbell, DSC, RN) departed Alexandria for Operation IS 1. The object was to bombard enemy positions off Mersa-el-Sahal in the Tobruk area during the nights of 18/19 and 19/20 January to aid the British Army in their attempt to capture Tobruk from the Italians.

At 0400 hours, a force made up of the light cruisers HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.D. Pridham-Whippell, CB, CVO, RN),HMS Bonaventure (Capt. H.G. Egerton, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO, RN), HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN) and HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO, RN) departed Alexandria. They were to cover the operations off Tobruk. The cruisers were to patrol to the north-west while the destroyers were to patrol off the north-east.

The weather however became bad and the operation had to be postponed for 24 hours. The cover forces however remained in their positions as it was thought possible that the old Italian armoured cruiser San Giorgio might try to escape from Tobruk. In the end the cover force was withdrawn for more urgent operations and was ordered to proceed to Suda Bay where they arrived in the afternoon of the 22nd. Due to this bad weather the shallow draft HMS Aphis got into trouble as she was unable to seek shelter. Two destroyers and an aircraft were sent out for assistance. She was found at 1300/19 off Damietta. HMS Griffin then accompanied her to Port Said where she arrived at 0700/20. She had to be docked there for repairs to her hull.

The weather however remained bad and it was not possible to bombard during the night of 19/20 January as well. Also HMS Terror sustained weather damage but was able remain at sea.

During the night of 20/21 January, HMS Terror assisted by HMS Gnat (Lt.Cdr. S.R.H. Davenport, RN) and HMS Ladybird (Cdr.(Retd.) J.F. Blackburn, RN) from the Inshore Squadron did manage to carry out her bombardment duties. Little enemy opposition was experienced.

Also the destroyers HMAS Stuart (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, DSO, RAN), HMAS Vampire (Cdr. J.A. Walsh, RAN) and HMAS Voyager (Cdr. J.C. Morrow, DSO, RAN) were on patrol to the west of Tobruk to cut the enemy sea communications. During the night of 21/22 January, HMAS Vampire sank the Italian schooner Diego west of Tobruk. The crew of ten were taken prisoner. On the 22nd HMAS Voyager returned to Alexandria due to defects. She was relieved the next day by HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN).

HMS Terror and HMS Gnat also returned to on the 22nd. HMS Terror had lost her mast and sustained some additional damage in the recent heavy weather. HMS Gnat had to clean her boilers. The destroyers remained on the inshore patrol for now. (2)

17 Feb 1941
HMS Terror (Cdr. H.J. Haynes, DSC, RN) arrived at Benghazi, Libya, escorted by the Australian destroyers HMAS Stuart (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, DSO, RAN) and HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, RAN) and remained there to bolster the stronghold defences.

22 Feb 1941
In the morning, Terror (Cdr. H.J. Haynes, DSC, RN) having already weathered several air attacks without damage, was again attacked, between 0630-0655 hours by 3 Ju-88s of the III/LG.1 from Catania, while 3 He.111 VTBs of 6/KG.26, Hauptmann Barth flying out of Comiso, attempted torpedo attacks against other units in the roads but failed to score. HMS Terror sustained flooding from 3 near-misses and was ordered to sail for Tobruk, where the AA defence was better. She sailed in the evening, accompanied by the British minesweeper Fareham and the British corvette Salvia but while still in the swept channel inside the harbour, 2 magnetic mines went off close aboard, flooding some engineering compartments (these mines had been dropped on 16 February by 5 He.111 of 2/KG.4 (Hauptmann Kuhl) despite the damage, Terror was able to maintain a good speed.


  1. Personal communication
  2. ADM 199/414

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

Return to the Allied Warships section