Large destroyer of the Guepard class
|Navy||The French Navy|
|Built by||Arsenal de Lorient (Lorient, France)|
|Laid down||14 Mar 1927|
|Launched||29 Oct 1928|
|Commissioned||10 Oct 1930|
|Lost||3 May 1940|
|Loss position||65° 42'N, 7° 17'E|
Bison (Capitaine De Vaisseau Jean Adolphe Roger Bouan) was sunk by German aircraft some 110 nautical miles west of Vega Island, Norway in postion 65º42'N, 07º17'E. The Commanding officer was killed in the sinking
Commands listed for FR Bison
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and that we only list Commanding Officers for the duration of the Second World War.
|Jean Adolphe Roger Bouan, FR||3 May 1940 (+)|
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Notable events involving Bison include:
12 Apr 1940
Bison (Capitaine de Vaisseau Jean Adolphe Roger Bouan, as part of the 11e Division de Contre-Torpilleurs (Capitaine de Vaisseau Jean Adolphe Roger Bouan), departed Brest in escort of Convoy FP 1 A, en route Greenock, Scotland. Arrived at Greenock on 14 April. (1)
20 Apr 1940
Around 0100A/20, the French transport Ville d’Alger with French troops on board departed Scapa Flow for Namsos. She was being escorted by the French destroyers Bison (Capt. J.A.R. Bouan) and Foudroyant Foudroyant (Cdr. P.L.A. Fontaine).
These ships were joined around 0800A/20 by the AA cruiser HMS Calcutta (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN) which also came from Scapa Flow.
Around 2015A/20, the light cruiser HMS Birmingham (Capt. A.C.G. Madden, RN) also joined she remained with the convoy until 2035A/21 when the convoy entered Namsen Fjord. HMS Birmingham then set course for Rosyth.
Around 2315A/21, HMS Calcutta parted company with the French ships and left Namsen Fjord to proceed back to sea. (2)
29 Apr 1940
Operation Klaxon, the evacuation of troops from Namsos.
Timespan: 29 April to 5 May 1940.
At 2000A/29 the French armed merchant cruisers El D’Jezair, El Kantara and El Mansour departed Scapa Flow for Namsos, Norway where they were to evacutate troops. They were escorted by the British destroyers HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr. G.N. Brewer, RN), HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN) and the French large destroyer Bison (Capt. J.A.R. Bouan).
A cover force departed Scapa Flow one hour later. It was made up of the British heavy cruisers HMS Devonshire (Capt. J.M. Mansfield, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.H.D. Cunningham, CB, MVO, RN), HMS York (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), the French light cruiser Montcalm (Capt. J.L. de Corbiere, flying the flag of Commodore (Contre-Admiral) E.L.H. Derrien) and the British destroyers HMS Grenade (Cdr. R.C. Boyle, RN) and HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, RN) and HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN).
These forces were later reinforced by the British destroyers HMS Afridi (Capt. P.L. Vian, RN), HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN) and the French destroyer Foudroyant Foudroyant (Cdr. P.L.A. Fontaine)
The force lead by Vice-Admiral Cunningham arrived off the Norwegian coast near Namsos on May 1st.
HMS Maori had been sent on ahead and reported fog. HMS Kelly, HMS Grenade, HMS Griffin and Bison were ordered to join her.
When entering the Namsenfjord in fog on 2 May 1940, HMS Maori is bombed and damaged from near misses. She had to retire for temporary repairs but was able to participate in the evacuation during the next night. The evacuation attempt was then postponed to the night of 2/3 May.
On 2 May the force was reinforced by the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN).
In the evening of 2 May the force entered the Fjord to embark troops except HMS Devonshire, Montcalm, HMS Grenade, HMS Griffin, HMS Hasty and HMS Imperial which remained at sea to cover the operation.
A total of 1850 British, 2345 French, some Norwegian troops and 30 German prisoners were evacuated. The evacuation was completed around 0445A/3.
Heavy German air attacks developed when the Force was leaving the area. The attacks concentrated on the Devonshire and Montcalm but they were not hit.
The French destroyer Bison was hit at 1010 hours in position 65°42'N, 07°17'E and her forward magazine exploded blowing off the fore part of the ship.The survivors were rescued by HMS Grenade, HMS Imperial and HMS Afridi The wreck was then scuttled by HMS Afridi.
But the attacks continued and at 1400 hours HMS Afridi was hit in position 66°14'N, 05°45'E and sank around 1445 hours. Her survivors were picked up by HMS Griffin and HMS Imperial.
The destroyers with the survivors; HMS Grenade, HMS Griffin and HMS Imperial were detached to land these at Sullom Voe where they arrived around 1700A/4. They departed again around 2130A/4 for Scapa Flow where they arrived around 0730A/5.
Reinforcements had meanwhile been sent out from Sullom Voe these were the light cruiser HMS Southampton (Capt. F.W.H. Jeans, CVO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Beagle (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Wright, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN) and HMS Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicholson, RN). They had departed Sullom Voe late in the evening of May, 2nd with orders to give support to the forces operating in the Namsos area.
Shortly before midnight during the night of 3/4 May, four more destroyers were sent out, these were; HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. R.T. White, DSO, RN), HMS Acheron (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN), HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN) and HMS Fury (Cdr. E.W.B. Sim, RN).
All forces arrived at Scapa Flow in the evening of May 4th or the early hours of May 5th. (3)
- Personal communication
- ADM 53/111574 + ADM 53/111634 + ADM 199/361 + ADM 199/385
- ADM 199/361
ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.