Military Wiki
HMS Somali (F33)
HMS Somali (F33).jpg
HMS Somali at anchor
Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Somali
Builder: Swan Hunter, Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom
Laid down: 26 August 1936
Launched: 24 August 1937
Commissioned: 12 December 1938
Identification: Pennant number:
November 1938 - L33
January 1939 - F33
Autumn 1940 - G33
Fate: Torpedoed by U-703 & sank under while under tow, 25 September 1942
General characteristics
Class & type: Tribal-class destroyer
Displacement: 1,870 tons
Length: 364 ft 8 in (111.15 m)
Beam: 36 ft 6 in (11.13 m)
Draught: 13 ft (4.0 m)
Propulsion: 3 Admiralty 3-drum boilers at 300 lb/, all with 2 shaft Parsons geared turbines
Complement: 190[1]
Armament: 8 × 4.7 in twin turrets
1 × quadruple 2 pdr anti-aircraft guns
2 × quadruple 0.5 cal machine guns
1 × quadruple torpedo tubes (21 Mk IX Torpeoes)
2 × depth charge throwers
1 × depth charge rail

HMS Somali was a Tribal-class destroyer of the British Royal Navy that saw service in World War II. She was launched in 1937, captured the first prize of World War II and served in Home and Mediterranean waters. She was torpedoed on 20 September 1942 in the Arctic.


She was built by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson, in Wallsend, Tyne and Wear. She was laid down on 26 August 1936, launched on 24 August 1937, and commissioned on 12 December 1938.

On 3 September 1939, Somali intercepted the German freighter Hannah Böge, 350 miles south of Iceland, and took her as a prize. This was the first enemy mercantile to be captured during the war.[2]

On 15 May 1940, during the Norwegian Campaign, Somali was carrying Brigadier the Hon. William Fraser, commander of 24th Guards Brigade, back to Harstad from a reconnaissance of Mo when she was bombed by German aircraft and forced to return to the United Kingdom for repairs, taking the Brigadier with her. He did not reach Harstad until 23 May.[3][4]

Somali was the leader of the British 6th Destroyer Flotilla and spent most of the winter of 1940/41 screening Home Fleet sweeps.

In May 1941, Somali boarded the German weather ship München. Prior to being boarded, the crew of the München threw overboard the ship's Enigma machine in a weighted bag. However, documents on the operation of the Enigma machine were left on board, as were vital codebooks providing a breakthrough for Allied codebreakers.

On 13 August 1942, Somali rescued all 105 crew of the American cargo ship Almeria Lykes, which had been torpedoed by E boats while taking part in Operation Pedestal. The rescued crew were landed at Gibraltar.[5]


Lieutenant Commander Colin Maud took over as captain in September 1942 when her own captain, Jack Eaton, was ill. On 20 September 1942 Somali was torpedoed by U-703 while covering Convoy QP 14 during the Russian convoys. She was hit in her engine room, and although taken under tow by Ashanti, she sank on 25 September, after heavy weather broke her back. Of the 102 men on board, only 35 were rescued from the Arctic waters. Leading Seaman Goad of Ashanti was awarded the Albert Medal for "great bravery in saving life at sea" after diving into the freezing water to save Lieutenant Commander Maud.[6]

Somali was the last Royal Navy Tribal-class destroyer to be sunk during the war.



  • Brice, Martin H. (1971). The Tribals. London: Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-0245-2. 
  • English, John (2001ISBN 0-905617-95-0). Afridi to Nizam: British Fleet Destroyers 1937–43. Gravesend, Kent: World Ship Society. 
  • T.K. Derry, History of the Second World War: The Campaign in Norway, London: HM Stationery Office, 1952.
  • Joslen, Lt-Col H.F. (2003) [1st pub. HMSO:1960]. Orders of Battle: Second World War, 1939–1945. Uckfield: Naval and Military Press. ISBN 978-1-84342-474-1. 

External links

Coordinates: 69°11′N 15°32′W / 69.183°N 15.533°W / 69.183; -15.533

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).