HMS Jervis Bay (F40)

HMS Jervis Bay was a British liner
Ocean liner
An ocean liner is a ship designed to transport people from one seaport to another along regular long-distance maritime routes according to a schedule. Liners may also carry cargo or mail, and may sometimes be used for other purposes .Cargo vessels running to a schedule are sometimes referred to as...

 later converted into an Armed Merchant Cruiser
Armed merchantmen
Armed merchantman is a term that has come to mean a merchant ship equipped with guns, usually for defensive purposes, either by design or after the fact. In the days of sail, piracy and privateers, many merchantmen would be routinely armed, especially those engaging in long distance and high value...

, pennant
Pennant number
In the modern Royal Navy, and other navies of Europe and the Commonwealth, ships are identified by pennant numbers...

 F40. She was launched in 1922 and sunk on 5 November 1940 by the German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 pocket battleship .

The ship was originally the Aberdeen & Commonwealth Line steamer Jervis Bay named after the Australian bay
Jervis Bay
Jervis Bay is a large bay bounded by the state of New South Wales, the Jervis Bay Territory, and a detached enclave of the Australian Capital Territory. HMAS Creswell is located between Jervis Bay Village and Greenpatch in the Jervis Bay Territory.-History:...

 (the line named all of its ships after bay
A bay is an area of water mostly surrounded by land. Bays generally have calmer waters than the surrounding sea, due to the surrounding land blocking some waves and often reducing winds. Bays also exist as an inlet in a lake or pond. A large bay may be called a gulf, a sea, a sound, or a bight...

s). She had been taken over by the 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...

 in August 1939 on the outbreak of the Second World War and hastily armed with a few World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 vintage 6-inch guns. She was initially assigned to the South Atlantic station before becoming a 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...

 escort in May 1940.

She was the sole escort for 37 merchant ships in Convoy HX-84
Convoy HX-84
HX-84 was a North Atlantic convoy of the HX series during the battle of the Atlantic in World War II. It consisted of 38 merchant ships which sailed eastbound from Halifax, Nova Scotia, for Liverpool, England, on 28 October 1940 and was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Jervis Bay-The...

 from Halifax, Nova Scotia
City of Halifax
Halifax is a city in Canada, which was the capital of the province of Nova Scotia and shire town of Halifax County. It was the largest city in Atlantic Canada until it was amalgamated into Halifax Regional Municipality in 1996...

 to Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, when the convoy encountered the Admiral Scheer. The Captain of Jervis Bay, Edward Fegen
Edward Stephen Fogarty Fegen
Captain Edward Stephen Fogarty Fegen VC, SGM was an Irish Victoria Cross recipient , by birth 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...

, ordered the convoy to scatter, and set a course straight towards the German warship to draw its fire, guns blazing. The Jervis Bay was hopelessly out-gunned and outranged by the 28 cm guns of the German ship. Even so, Fegan and his crew fought on until their ship was set ablaze and sunk 755 nautical miles (1,398 kilometres) south-southwest of Reykjavík
Reykjavík is the capital and largest city in Iceland.Its latitude at 64°08' N makes it the world's northernmost capital of a sovereign state. It is located in southwestern Iceland, on the southern shore of Faxaflói Bay...

. Captain Fegen went down with his ship. However, although Admiral Scheer went on to sink five merchant ships out of the convoy, Jervis Bay's sacrifice bought enough time for the convoy to scatter, and the remaining ships escaped. Sixty-five survivors from Jervis Bay were picked up by the neutral Swedish
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 ship Stureholm.

Captain Fegen was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

 as a result of this action. The citation for the Victoria Cross reads "Valour in challenging hopeless odds and giving his life to save the many ships it was his duty to protect."
There is a monument to Jervis Bay at Albouy's Point, in Hamilton
Hamilton, Bermuda
Hamilton is the capital of the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda. It is the territory's financial centre and a major port and tourist destination.-Geography:...

, Bermuda
Bermuda is a British overseas territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. Located off the east coast of the United States, its nearest landmass is Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, about to the west-northwest. It is about south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and northeast of Miami, Florida...

. Bermuda was a formation point for trans-Atlantic convoys in both World Wars. There is a monument to Captain Fegen and the crew of Jervis Bay at Ross Memorial Park in Saint John, New Brunswick
New Brunswick
New Brunswick is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the only province in the federation that is constitutionally bilingual . The provincial capital is Fredericton and Saint John is the most populous city. Greater Moncton is the largest Census Metropolitan Area...

, Canada. This is the port where she was refitted for war service in the summer of 1940. In 2006 the town of Wick
Wick, Highland
Wick is an estuary town and a royal burgh in the north of the Highland council area of Scotland. Historically, it is one of two burghs within the county of Caithness, of which Wick was the county town. The town straddles the River Wick and extends along both sides of Wick Bay...

 erected a plaque to the Caithness
Caithness is a registration county, lieutenancy area and historic local government area of Scotland. The name was used also for the earldom of Caithness and the Caithness constituency of the Parliament of the United Kingdom . Boundaries are not identical in all contexts, but the Caithness area is...

 members who died in the sinking of the ship. The ship was crewed extensively from Caithness, and Wick in particular.

There was also a monument in London. The main room of the Merchant Navy Hotel (closed, 2002) was known as the "Jervis Bay Room", and included a display detailing the action. It was the custom for everyone entering the room to salute the display.

The ship is also featured as a model in Scarborough's "Naval Warfare" holiday show which takes place in the summer at Peasholm Park
Peasholm Park
Peasholm Park is an oriental themed municipal park located in the seaside town of Scarborough, North Yorkshire, England. It opened in 1912 and became a favourite venue for galas, displays and exhibitions. The park was extended to include Peasholm Glen, a natural ravine, in 1924...

, in the show the ship fights off an enemy battleship and submarine.

External links


  • Ralph Segman and Gerald Duskin, If the Gods are Good: The Epic Sacrifice of HMS Jervis Bay (Naval Institute Press, 2004)
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