HMS Achates (H12)
HMS Achates was an A-class
A class destroyer
The A class was a flotilla of eight destroyers built for the Royal Navy as part of the 1927 naval programme. A ninth ship, Codrington, was built to an enlarged design to act as the flotilla leader...

In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

 of the British Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 launched on 4 October 1929 and commissioned on 27 March 1930. She was sunk on 31 December 1942 in the Battle of the Barents Sea
Battle of the Barents Sea
The Battle of the Barents Sea took place on 31 December 1942 between German surface raiders and British ships escorting convoy JW 51B to Kola Inlet in the USSR. The action took place in the Barents Sea north of North Cape, Norway...


Battle of the Denmark Strait

In early May 1941, the British Admiralty
The Admiralty was formerly the authority in the Kingdom of England, and later in the United Kingdom, responsible for the command of the Royal Navy...

 was on the alert that the German battleship Bismarck
German battleship Bismarck
Bismarck was the first of two s built for the German Kriegsmarine during World War II. Named after Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, the primary force behind the German unification in 1871, the ship was laid down at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg in July 1936 and launched nearly three years later...

 may attempt to break out into the North Atlantic, so Achates was ordered to Scapa Flow
Scapa Flow
right|thumb|Scapa Flow viewed from its eastern endScapa Flow is a body of water in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, United Kingdom, sheltered by the islands of Mainland, Graemsay, Burray, South Ronaldsay and Hoy. It is about...

 for possible deployment against the Germans. On 22 May, just after midnight, Achates sailed along with the destroyers Electra
HMS Electra (H27)
HMS Electra was a Royal Navy 'E' class destroyer . She was ordered on 1 November 1932 as part of the 1931 Naval Build Programme; launched on 15 February 1934 at the Hawthorn Leslie Shipyard at Hebburn, Tyneside...

, Antelope, Anthony
HMS Anthony (H40)
HMS Anthony was an A-class destroyer of the Royal Navy. She served during the Second World War.-Construction and commissioning:Anthony was ordered from Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Greenock, Scotland on 6 March 1928 under the 1927 Programme...

, Echo, and Icarus
HMS Icarus (D03)
HMS Icarus was an I-class destroyer that served with the Royal Navy in World War II.On 29 November 1939, Icarus sighted the German U-boat U-35 between the Shetland Islands and Bergen , but was unable to launch an effective attack because her ASDIC was out of commission. Fellow destroyers and ...

, escorting the battleships Hood
HMS Hood (51)
HMS Hood was the last battlecruiser built for the Royal Navy. One of four s ordered in mid-1916, her design—although drastically revised after the Battle of Jutland and improved while she was under construction—still had serious limitations. For this reason she was the only ship of her class to be...

 and Prince Of Wales
HMS Prince of Wales (1939)
HMS Prince of Wales was a King George V-class battleship of the Royal Navy, built at the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead, England...

 to cover the northern approaches. The intention was that the force would refuel in Hvalfjord, Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

, and then sail again to watch the Denmark Strait
Denmark Strait
The Denmark Strait or Greenland Strait |Sound]]) is an oceanic strait between Greenland and Iceland...


On the evening of 23 May, weather started getting bad. At 2055 hrs., Admiral Lancelot Holland
Lancelot Holland
Vice Admiral Lancelot Ernest Holland, CB commanded the British force in the Battle of Denmark Strait in May, 1941 against the German battleship Bismarck. Holland was killed during the battle.-Early life:...

 aboard the Hood signaled the destroyers "If you are unable to maintain this speed I will have to go on without you. You should follow at your best speed." At 0215 on the morning of 24 May, the destroyers were ordered to spread out at 15 mile intervals to search to the north. At about 0535, the German forces were sighted by the Hood, and shortly after, the Germans sighted the British ships. Firing commenced at 0552. At 0601, Hood suffered a massive explosion, sinking the ship within two minutes.

Electra and other destroyers were about 60 miles away at the time. Upon hearing that the Hood had sunk, Electra raced to the area, arriving about two hours after the Hood went down. They were expecting to find many survivors, and rigged scrambling nets and heaving lines, and placed life belts on the deck where they could be quickly thrown in. From the 94 officers and 1,321 enlisted men who were aboard the Hood, only three survivors were found. Electra rescued these survivors, and continued searching. Shortly thereafter, Icarus and Anthony joined in and the three ships searched the area for more survivors. No more were found, only driftwood, debris, and a desk drawer filled with documents. After several hours searching, they left the area.

Kirkenes and Torch

In July 1941, while taking position in the screen of carriers preparing for the disastrous air strike against Kirkenes
is a town in the municipality of Sør-Varanger in the county of Finnmark in the far northeast of Norway...

Pechengsky District
Pechengsky District is an administrative and municipal district , one of the five in Murmansk Oblast, Russia. It is located to the northwest of the Kola Peninsula on the coast of the Barents Sea and borders with Finland in the south and southwest and with Norway in the west, northwest, and north...

, Achates was mined and severely damaged, but managed to make port for repairs.

On 8 November 1942, while deployed off Oran
Oran is a major city on the northwestern Mediterranean coast of Algeria, and the second largest city of the country.It is the capital of the Oran Province . The city has a population of 759,645 , while the metropolitan area has a population of approximately 1,500,000, making it the second largest...

, Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

 for operation "Torch"
Operation Torch
Operation Torch was the British-American invasion of French North Africa in World War II during the North African Campaign, started on 8 November 1942....

, Achates detected, and attacked the Vichy
Vichy France
Vichy France, Vichy Regime, or Vichy Government, are common terms used to describe the government of France that collaborated with the Axis powers from July 1940 to August 1944. This government succeeded the Third Republic and preceded the Provisional Government of the French Republic...

 French submarine Argonaute, which had sortied to contest the Allied landings in the area. The "Achates" attack on Argonaute, saw the inevitable rise of oil to the surface of the sea and huge air bubbles, as well as debris from both inside, and outside the U-boat. Following this, at a later point, The "Westcott" made a further attack, hence both ships were credited with her demise.

Battle of the Barents Sea

On 31 December 1942, Achates was on escort duty protecting the Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n convoy
A convoy is a group of vehicles, typically motor vehicles or ships, traveling together for mutual support and protection. Often, a convoy is organized with armed defensive support, though it may also be used in a non-military sense, for example when driving through remote areas.-Age of Sail:Naval...

 JW 51B
Arctic convoys of World War II
The Arctic convoys of World War II travelled from the United Kingdom and North America to the northern ports of the Soviet Union—Arkhangelsk and Murmansk. There were 78 convoys between August 1941 and May 1945...

 en route from Loch Ewe
Loch Ewe
Loch Ewe is a sea loch in the region of in the Northwest Highlands of Scotland. The shores are inhabited by a traditionally Gàidhlig speaking people living in or sustained by crofting villages, the most notable of which, situated on the north-eastern shore, is the Aultbea settlement...

 to Murmansk
Murmansk is a city and the administrative center of Murmansk Oblast, Russia. It serves as a seaport and is located in the extreme northwest part of Russia, on the Kola Bay, from the Barents Sea on the northern shore of the Kola Peninsula, not far from Russia's borders with Norway and Finland...

 when she was sunk in the Barents Sea
Battle of the Barents Sea
The Battle of the Barents Sea took place on 31 December 1942 between German surface raiders and British ships escorting convoy JW 51B to Kola Inlet in the USSR. The action took place in the Barents Sea north of North Cape, Norway...

The German heavy cruiser
Heavy cruiser
The heavy cruiser was a type of cruiser, a naval warship designed for long range, high speed and an armament of naval guns roughly 203mm calibre . The heavy cruiser can be seen as a lineage of ship design from 1915 until 1945, although the term 'heavy cruiser' only came into formal use in 1930...

 Admiral Hipper
German cruiser Admiral Hipper
Admiral Hipper, the first of five ships of her class, was the lead ship of the Admiral Hipper–class of heavy cruisers which served with the German Kriegsmarine during World War II. The ship was laid down at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg in July 1935 and launched February 1937; Admiral Hipper...

, pocket battleship Lützow
German pocket battleship Deutschland
Deutschland was the lead ship of her class of heavy cruisers which served with the Kriegsmarine of Nazi Germany during World War II. Ordered by the Weimar government for the Reichsmarine, she was laid down at the Deutsche Werke shipyard in Kiel in February 1929 and completed by April 1933...

 and six large destroyers had been ordered to attack and destroy the convoy. Despite being heavily outgunned the escort, under the command of Captain R. St. Vincent Sherbrooke
Robert St. Vincent Sherbrooke
Rear Admiral Robert St Vincent Sherbrooke VC CB DSO was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.-Background:Born in Oxton, Nottinghamshire, Sherbrooke attended...

, beat off the attack and not one merchant vessel was lost.

At 11:15, Achates was laying smoke to protect the convoy when she was hit by gunfire from the Hipper
German cruiser Admiral Hipper
Admiral Hipper, the first of five ships of her class, was the lead ship of the Admiral Hipper–class of heavy cruisers which served with the German Kriegsmarine during World War II. The ship was laid down at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg in July 1935 and launched February 1937; Admiral Hipper...

, killing the commanding officer, Lt Cdr Johns, and forty crew. The First Lieutenant, Lt L. E. Peyton-Jones, took over command and, despite having sustained severe damage in the shelling, Achates continued her smoke screen operation. At 13:30 she went down 135 nm ESE of Bear Island. 113 seamen were lost and 81 were rescued, one of whom later died on the Northern Gem trawler which had come to the aid of Achates. In response, the light cruiser damaged Hipper, and subsequently sank her escort, .


Following the battle, the following awards for gallantry were made to men on Achates:

Distinguished Service Order
The Distinguished Service Order is a military decoration of the United Kingdom, and formerly of other parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire, awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime, typically in actual combat.Instituted on 6 September...

: Lt L. E. Peyton-Jones D.S.C. Posthumously awarded to Lt Cdr A. H. T. Johns

Conspicuous Gallantry Medal
Conspicuous Gallantry Medal
The Conspicuous Gallantry Medal was, until 1993, a military decoration awarded to personnel of the British Armed Forces and formerly also to personnel of other Commonwealth countries, below commissioned rank, for conspicuous gallantry in action against the enemy at sea...

Era refers to a long period of historyERA or Era may also refer to:In games and sports:* Earned run average, a baseball statistic* Era Online, a computer game* English Racing Automobiles, a manufacturer of racing carsIn music:...

 H. Hawksworth.

D.S.C.: Gunner (T) G. W. Davies.

D.S.M.: Stoker J. Colley; Able Seaman C. Brightmore; Able Seaman H. Platt; CPO D. Hall; Stoker E. Drummond; Stoker L. Meacock; Yeoman of Signals A. W. Taylor.

Mentioned in Despatches: Chief Stoker W. Brown, D.S.M.; Leading Seaman R. C. Wells; PO F. Batchelor; Telegraphist E. J. Dickinson; Stoker W. Wilkinson.

Posthumously Mentioned in Despatches: Lt (E) P. A. Wright, R.N.R.; Surgeon-Lt J. L. MacFarlane; Stoker PO R. Bell; Supply PO R. Bell; Supply PO J. R. Cole; Able Seaman K. MacIver; Able Seaman C. W. Coe; PO Telegraphist W. Bartripp; Officers Steward A. Jones; Canteen Manager G. Drummond; PO B.C. Carpenter.

Seaman Kenneth MacIver RNR was posthumously mentioned in despatches. He put himself at risk to rescue comrades in a rapidly flooding cabin, then made trips across the deck while under heavy fire to take over the ships wheel. With the aid of just a ships compass he continued to steer the stricken ship and maintain the laying down of smoke screen. Unfortunately, as the survivors were being picked up the wheelhouse was totally destroyed by further shelling and Seaman MacIver lost his life.

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