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HMS Firedrake (H79)
HMS Firedrake
HMS Firedrake at anchor before World War II
Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Firedrake
Ordered: 17 March 1933[1]
Builder: Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company, Wallsend
Laid down: 5 July 1933[1]
Launched: 28 June 1934
Commissioned: 30 May 1935[1]

Virtute ardens

("Burning with valour")[2]
Fate: Torpedoed by U-211 on 17 December 1942
Badge: File:Hms firedrake crest.jpg
General characteristics
Class & type: F-class destroyer
Displacement: 1,405 long tons (1,427.5 t) standard
1,940 long tons (1,971.1 t) deep
Length: 329 ft (100.3 m) o/a
Beam: 33.3 ft (10.1 m)
Draught: 10.8 ft (3.3 m)
Propulsion: 3 x Admiralty 3-drum water tube boilers, Parsons geared steam turbines, 38,000 shp on 2 shafts
Speed: 35.5 kn (65.7 km/h), 31.5 kn (58.3 km/h) deep
Range: 6,350 nmi (11,760 km) at 15 kn (27.8 km/h)
1,275 nmi (2,361 km) at 35.5 kn (65.7 km/h)
Complement: 145

HMS Firedrake was an F-class destroyer of the Royal Navy built in 1934. She took part in the Battle of the Atlantic and was torpedoed in 1942.


She was built by Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company, Wallsend, although her hull was sub-contracted to Vickers Armstrongs, Walker. She was launched on 28 June 1934.

Service history

World War II

In September 1939 Firedrake was deployed as part of 8 Destroyer flotilla attached to the Home Fleet and based at Scapa Flow. In the first month of hostilities she was in action as part of a hunting group centred on carrier Ark Royal. On 14 September 1939 the group was attacked by U-39 which fired on the "Ark" but failed to hit. Firedrake, in company with Faulknor and Foxhound counter-attacked and sank U-39.[1] north-west of Ireland.

In spring 1940 Firedrake was involved in the Norwegian campaign assisting in the landings at Narvik. She later assisted in the evacuation at Bododisambiguation needed.

In summer she was part of with Home Fleet during invasion crisis but in August moved station to Gibraltar where she became part of Force H. For the next 12 months Firedrake took part in all major operations in the western Mediterranean.

On 18 October 1940 she sank Italian submarine Durbo east of Gibraltar in company with HMS Wrestler and 2 London flying boats of 202 Sqn RAF.[1]

In November she was part of the force involved in the Battle of Spartivento. During January 1941 she was involved in Operation Excess, and in July in Operation Substance. In the winter of 1941 Firedrake was transferred to Boston for repair and conversion for Anti-submarine warfare as a convoy escort.

Firedrake served as leader of B-7 Escort Group of the Mid-Ocean Escort Force, her captain, Cdr WE Banks being Senior Officer Escort (SOE). In this role Firedrake was engaged in all the duties performed by escort ships; protecting convoys, searching for and attacking U-boats which attacked ships in convoy, and rescuing survivors. In nine months service Firedrake escorted 14 Atlantic convoys, of which 5 were attacked, and 2 in the Caribbean. She was involved in two major convoy battles, ON 144, where she was sent as reinforcement when it came under attack, and ON 153.


On 17 December 1942, while escorting convoy ON-153, Firedrake was torpedoed by U-211 and sunk.[3] The corvette HMS Sunflower, commanded by Capt. John Treasure Jones, picked up 27 survivors.


U-boats destroyed

  • U-39 was depth-charged and sunk by Firedrake and other ships of 8 Flotilla on 14 September 1939.
  • Durbo was sunk by Firedrake in company with Wrestler and 2 aircraft of 202 Sqn RAF on 18 October 1940.

Convoys escorted

Homebound Outbound
. ON 71
HX 181 ON 84
HX 186 ON 94
HX 192 ON 106
SC 91 ON 117
AH 3 HA 4
SC 102 ON 142, ON 144
HX 216 ON 153

Commanding Officers

From To Captain
4 April 1938 4 May 1942 Lt Cdr Stephen Hugh Norris DSO DSC RN
4 May 1942 1 September 1942 Cdr William Eric Banks DSC RN
1 September 1942 17 December 1942 Cdr Eric Henry Tilden DSC RN


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "HMS Firedrake at". Retrieved 2008-08-25. 
  2. "HMS Firedrake Association website". Retrieved 2009-04-13. 
  3. Rohwer, J. and Hummelchen, G. (1992). Chronology of the War at Sea 1939-1945. Naval Institute Press. pp. 135, 139, 170, 177 & 182. ISBN 1-55750-105-X. 


  • English, John (1993). Amazon to Ivanhoe: British Standard Destroyers of the 1930s. Kendal, England: World Ship Society. ISBN 0-905617-64-9. 
  • Friedman, Norman (2009). British Destroyers From Earliest Days to the Second World War. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-081-8. 
  • Lenton, H. T. (1998). British & Commonwealth Warships of the Second World War. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-048-7. 
  • Rohwer, Jürgen (2005). Chronology of the War at Sea 1939-1945: The Naval History of World War Two (Third Revised ed.). Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-119-2. 
  • Whitley, M. J. (1988). Destroyers of World War 2. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-326-1. 

External links

Coordinates: 50°50′N 25°15′W / 50.833°N 25.25°W / 50.833; -25.25

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