Allied Warships

FR Frondeur

Destroyer of the L'Adroit class

NavyThe French Navy
Built byChantiers Navals Francais (Caen, France) 
Laid down9 Nov 1927 
Launched29 Jun 1929 
Commissioned28 Oct 1931 
Lost8 Nov 1942 

Sunk by Gunfire from Allied warships off Casablanca, Morocco during the Allied landing in North Africa.


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Notable events involving Frondeur include:

24 Sep 1940
Early in the afternoon Gibraltar was bombed by the Vichy-French airforce, therefore it was decided to put to sea to avoid the risk of being damaged while in harbour so at 1550/24, HMS Renown (Capt C.E.B. Simeon, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, DSO, RN), screened by HMS Hotspur (Cdr. H.F.H. Layman, DSO, RN) and HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN) departed Gibraltar and proceeded eastwards. They were joined in Gibraltar Bay by two more destroyers, HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN) en HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN), which had been on patrol in the Straits.

After dark course was changed to the west and Renown and her escorts passed the Straits westbound before moonrise.

At 0500/25, a report was intercepted from HMS Wrestler (Lt.Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, RN), which was on patrol in the Straits, that she had been attacked by four Vichy-French destroyers (these were the Epée, Fleuret, Fougueux and Frondeur. HMS Wrestler had returned fire but she had not been hit. The French had departed Casablanca on 24 September. They arrived at Oran on 25 September.

At 0805/27, when in position 35°50'N, 09°26'W, HMS Renown and her escorts were joined by the destroyers HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, DSC, RN) and HMS Wishart (Cdr. E.T. Cooper, RN) after which HMS Griffin and HMS Encounter proceeded to Gibraltar to refuel.

At 0830/28, HMS Griffin and HMS Encounter rejoined the screen so then HMS Hotspur and HMS Gallant were sent to Gibraltar to refuel. Later that morning, HMS Renown was ordered to return to Gibraltar.

At 1045/28, a vessel was sighted at a range of about 10 miles, it was at first thought to be a small vessel but was later seen to be a surfaced submarine so HMS Wishart was detached to hunt it. Position was 36°00'N, 08°10'W. At 1051/28 the submarine dived. HMS Wishart commenced depth charge attacks at 1123/28. At 1230/28, HMS Wishart reported a good contact and four patterns were dropped. A large amount of oil was reported as having come to the surface. At 1355/28 a flying boat arrived to assist in the hunt. The submarine in question was the Italian Leonardo da Vinci which did not report any damage.

On entering the Bay of Gibraltar at 1732/28, HMS Griffin was detached to go to the aid of HMS Wishart which had reported that she had only four depth charges left.

HMS Renown with HMS Firedrake and HMS Encounter arrived at Gibraltar at 1745/28. (1)

29 Sep 1940
At 0700/29, HMS Renown (Capt C.E.B. Simeon, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, DSO, RN), escorted by HMS Hotspur (Cdr. H.F.H. Layman, DSO, RN) , HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN) and HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN) departed Gibraltar. In the Straits they were joined at 0730 by HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, DSC, RN) which had been on patrol. Course was set to the west.

The Admiralty was under the impression that the Vichy-French battleship Richelieu had departed Dakar en-route possibly to a Bay of Biscay port. And if that was correct the ship would fall in the hands of the Germans and this was to be avoided at all costs so HMS Renown was ordered to intercept.

On leaving harbour two Vichy-French destroyers were sighted proceeding westwards, these were the Epée and Frondeur. They increased speed to bout 28 knots on sighting HMS Renown. A signal was then sent to the Admiralty that HMS Renown had been seen proceeding westwards by the French ships.

At 1307/29, when in position 35°41'N, 07°14'W, a Vichy-French aircraft was sighted on Renown's port quarter. This aircraft shadowed HMS Renown until 1350/29 and then made off to the south-eastward. That Renown was shadowed was also reported to the Admiralty.

At 1333/29, a signal was received from the Admiral Commanding , North Atlantic Station, that owing to recent attacks on our aircraft by Vichy-French fighters, close observation of Casablanca was impracticable, and it wasintheded to maintain a patrol to the north-west of Casablanca in case Richelieu had gone there and was later to sail for a Bay of Biscay port. HMS Renown now set course towards Cape Finisterre.

At 2110/29 a signal was received from the Admiralty (sent 1910/29) which stated that air reconnaissance off Cape Finisterre was arranged for 29 September P.M. and that it was intended for HMS Renown to patrol to the westward of Gibraltar between 10°00'W and 15°00'W In view, however, of the report that two German merchant ships with troops on board had been reported in the south-east corner of the Bay of Biscay the Admiralty thought it possible that these vessels might be proceeding to capture the Azores, HMS Renown was ordered to proceed to the vicinity of these islands.

Vice-Admiral Somerville then requisted the RFA tanker Orangeleaf (5927 GRT, built 1917) to be sent out from Gibraltar to patrol on the parallel of 37°30'N between 27°00'W and 30°00'W. Later a signal was received that Orangeleaf was expected to arrive on the eastern edge of that patrol area at 1100/4.

At 0039/30, a signal was received from the Admiralty stating that if the Richelieu was encountered she was to be shadowed.

At 1240/30, when in position 36°23'N, 14°36'W, a merchant ship was sighted bearing 204°, range 14 miles. HMS Encounter was ordered to investigate and reported that it was a Greek ship and that she was allowed to proceed.

It was intended to oil the destroyers during 1 October but the first attempt (to oil HMS Hotspur) proved that this was not possible owing to the north-easterly swell.

At 1901/30, a signal had been received from the Admiralty giving possible landing places in the Azores, Vice Admiral Somerville decided to establish destroyer night patrols off the north and south approaches to Horta, Ponta Delgada and Angra. HMS Renown would remain in support of the destroyers to the south-west but unscreened.

At 1800/1 the destroyers were detached and were ordered to take up the following positions
Encounter - Northern approaches to Horta.
Hotspur - Southern approaches to Horta.
Gallant - Off Angra.
Firedrake - Off Ponta Delgada.

The destroyers were ordered to rejoin HMS Renown at 1300/2 in position 37°00'N, 28°10'W, for fuel, since they would have insufficient remaining by the time the Orangeleaf would arrive.

By noon on 2 October all destroyers were back with HMS Renown at the rendezvous and oiling commenced. There was still a south-easterly swell running, which made conditions difficult, but all destroyers were given 150 to 170 tons of fuel, together with fresh provisions, without incident. The last destroyer (order had been Encounter - Hotspur - Gallant - Firedrake) completed after dark at 2100 and all four destroyers were ordred to resume their patrols with HMS Renown proceeding to the westward.

The fuel given to the destroyers was sufficient to enable them to maintain their patrols until after daybreak on 4 October and then to proceed with HMS Renown to Gibraltar without refueling.

At 1912/2 Admiralty signal 1835/2 was received ordering HMS Ark Royal (Capt. C.S. Holland, RN) to carry out air reconnaissance between the Azores and Cape Finisterre wth the object of identifying shipping approaching the Azores.

At 0010/4, Vice Admiral Somerville was ordered to leave patrol that morning and return to Gibraltar.

All destroyers had previously been instructed to rendezvous with HMS Renown in the forenoon and by noon the last one, HMS Firedrake had rejoined. She had intercepted and investigated two Portugese ships therefore she was a little late in rejoining.

At 1345/4, a ship was sighted well down to the westward and HMS Hotspur was sent to investigate. As anticipated this ship proved to be the Orangeleaf and she was instructed to return to Gibraltar.

At 1807/4, HMS Hotspur was detached again to investigate a merchant vessel which proved to be American and it was allowed to proceed.

At 0230/5, a darkened ship was sighted ahead crossing Renown's track from south to north. This proved to be the merchant vessel Highland Monarch (British, 14139 GRT, built 1928).

At 0810/5, a Greek vessel with Swiss markings was sighted. This ship had been reported to be in the area and was allowed to proceed.

During the forenoon of the 5th all ships carried out gunnery exercises.

At 1215/5, smoke and ships were sighted to the north-west and once again HMS Hotspur was sent to investigate. She was soon recalled as it appeared to be convoy SLS 49.

In the afternoon of the 5th all ships carried out AA gunnery exercises.

In the evening of the 5th dummy torpedo attacks were carried out by the destroyers on HMS Renown.

In the forenoon of the 6th a search and plotting exercise was carried out. Northing furter occured on the 6th.

HMS Renown, HMS Hotspur, HMS Gallant, HMS Firedrake and HMS Encounter arrived at Gibraltar at 0830/7. (1)

Media links

Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.


  1. ADM 199/392

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

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