Allied Warships

HMS Bengali (FY 165)

ASW Trawler

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeASW Trawler
Class[No specific class] 
PennantFY 165 
Built bySmiths Dock Co., Ltd. (South Bank-on-Tees, U.K.) 
Laid down 
Launched15 Dec 1936 
CommissionedOct 1939 
Lost5 Dec 1942 

Completed in January 1937.
Taken over by the Admiralty in August 1939.
Displacement: 455 tons.

Sunk by an accidental fire at Lagos, Nigeria on 5 December 1942.

The cause of the disaster was a spillage from the oil tanker Athelvictor. She had been berthed about 400 yards from the trawlers at the oil storage berth and had been discharging her cargo. However, it was soon realised that something was not ok, as the fuel could be seen to be escaping from the tanker into the sea. It was found that valves used to admit water ballast and to flush pipelines for cleaning, had not been closed after her last discharge. In consequence about sixty tons of benzene had spilled into the harbour. The petrol vapour exploded soon after and caused a huge fire.


Commands listed for HMS Bengali (FY 165)

Please note that we're still working on this section
and that we only list Commanding Officers for the duration of the Second World War.

1Skr. Francis Charles Butler, RNR11 Oct 1939Jan 1940
2T/Lt. Eric Edward Barnes, RNVR27 Jan 1940May 1941
3Lt. Francis Rodney Pike, RCNVRMay 1941ca late 41
4T/Lt. Reginald Llewellyn Petty-Major, RNVRca late 4110 Feb 1942
5T/Lt. Vivian Walton Hixson, RNVR10 Feb 19425 Dec 1942

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Notable events involving Bengali include:

28 Nov 1940

Convoy SL 57.

This convoy departed Freetown on 28 November 1940.

The convoy was made up the following merchant vessels; Baron Ardrossan (British, 3896 grt, built 1932), Beckenham (British, 4636 GRT, built 1937), Benvannoch (British, 6427 GRT, built 1921), Boskoop (Dutch, 5620 GRT, built 1927), British Fortitude (British (tanker0, 8482 GRT, built 1937), Burma (British, 7821 GRT, built 1914), Danmark (British (former Danish), 8391 GRT, built 1925), Defoe (British, 6245 GRT, built 1940), Godfrey B. Holt (British, 3585 GRT, built 1929), Jessmore (British, 4099 GRT, built 1921), Kerma (British, 4333 GRT, built 1928), Lalande (British, 7453 GRT, built 1920)), Laplace (British, 7327 GRT, built 1919), Lombardy (British, 3379 GRT, built 1921), Mahanada (British, 7196 GRT, built 1914), Mobeka (Belgian, 6111 GRT, built 1937), Mulbera (British, 9100 GRT, built 1922), New Brooklyn (British, 6546 GRT, built 1920), Port Melbourne (British, 9142 GRT, built 1914), Streefkerk (Dutch, 6185 GRT, built 1921), Sylvia de Larrinaga (British, 5218 GRT, built 192) and William Wilberforce (British, 4013 GRT, built 1930).

On departure from Freetown the convoy was escorted by the sloop HMS Bridgewater (A/Cdr. (Retd.) H.F.G. Leftwich, RN) and the A/S trawler HMS Bengali (Lt. F.R. Pike, RCNVR.

Around 2000N/29, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Canton (Capt. G.D. Belben, DSC, RN) joined.

Around 1820N/30, HMS Bridgewater and HMS Bengali parted company with the convoy.

Around 1720Z/15, HMS Canton parted company with the convoy to return to Freetown.

Either late on 15 December or early on 16 December the destroyers HMS Vanquisher (Lt. Adrian Paul Northey, DSC, RN), HMS Viscount (Lt.Cdr. M.S. Townsend, OBE, DSC, RN), HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN), HMS Winchelsea (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, RN) and the corvettes HMS Gentian (Lt.Cdr. R.O. Yeomans, RD, RNR) and HMS Hibiscus (Lt.Cdr. C.G. Cuthbertson, RNR) joined.

Around 1430Z/16, the catapult ship HMS Pegasus (Capt.(Retd.) P.G. Wodehouse, DSO, RN) and the corvette HMS Periwinkle (Lt.Cdr. P.G. MacIver, RNR) joined.

The convoy arrived in U.K. waters on 19 December 1940.

28 May 1941
HMS Bengali (Skipper F.C. Butler, RNR) picks up survivors from the British merchant Tabaristan that was torpedoed and sunk the previous day by German U-boat U-38 southwest of Freetown in position 06°32'N, 15°23'W.

11 Nov 1941
HMS Severn (Lt.Cdr. A.N.G. Campbell, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Freetown together with HMS Bengali (Lt. F.R. Pike, RCNVR) and three ML's. (1)

14 Nov 1941
HMS Severn (Lt.Cdr. A.N.G. Campbell, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Freetown together with HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Poe, RN), HMS Bergamot (Lt. R.T. Horan, RNR), HMS Bengali (Lt. F.R. Pike, RCNVR) and Walrus and Sunderland aircraft. (1)


  1. ADM 173/16988

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

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