- Bogart, Charles H.
- Naval Aviation, WWII operations
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- September 1980 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Before neutral waters were reached though, Rockwood lost power and Petard had to tow her to Losta in the Gulf of Doris. Temporarily repaired at Losta, Rockwood was later towed back to Alexandria by HMS Blencathra. At Alexandria Rockwood was judged to be a constructive loss and she was not made operational. In 1946 she was sold for scrap.
Determined to keep up the pressure on the Germans the cruiser Phoebe with destroyers Echo, Dulverton and Belvoir were ordered on 13 November to sweep the seas around Leros and sink any German vessels discovered. As the ships entered the Aegean north of Rhodes they were sighted by a patrolling German aircraft. At 0310 the next morning 5 miles east of Cos Island it was joined by a number of JU 88 and DO 217 Es which commenced an attack. The Dulverton was hit in the opening moments of battle by an HS293 on the port side abreast of the bridge. The explosion blew off the ship’s bow section forward of the bridge. Dulverton then burst into flames from the bridge to the stern. With no hope of saving her as she was sinking by the head Dulverton was abandoned, once the air attack was over her consorts rescued 109 of her crew and hastened her sinking with a torpedo.
The next encounter with the HS293 was the following night when the destroyers Penn, Aldenham and Blencathra conducted a bombardment of German positions on the eastern half of the Alinda-Gurna peninsula on Leros. The resulting bombardment brought the Luftwaffe winging to the scene and an all out air attack was made on the destroyers. This night Lady Luck smiled on the British warships. The only damage was caused by an HS293 making a near miss on Aldenham but it resulted in no personnel injury or serious material damage.
The Royal Navy’s last encounter with the HS293 in the Aegean was on the night of 16- 17 November 1943 when MTB boats were sent to patrol around Leros to rescue escaping British troops and attack any German craft trying to reinforce the victorious German troops. As the MTBs patrolled they were attacked by I KG 40 but due to their fast speed they were able to out manoeuvre the HS293s and suffered no damage.
The next use of the HS293 was in the Bay of Biscay in December 1943. The British Admiralty had become aware that the Germans were preparing for the entry of a number of blockade-runners into French ports from over seas. To counter this, naval patrols were set up by the Royal Navy across the blockade runners’ intended tracks. Among the ships assigned to this duty were the cruisers Glasgow and Enterprise.
The German Navy had not been idle during this period and had marshalled a force of ten destroyers, comprising the 8th Destroyer Flotilla and 4th Torpedo Boat Flotilla, to escort the blockade-runners to port. This force on the morning of 28 December 1943 was surprised at sea by Glasgow and Enterprise, which had been conned to the German ships by Allied aircraft. Though possessing superior numbers and speed, heavy seas prevented the lighter German ships from deploying in an optimum attacking formation. Standing outside of the effective range of the German naval guns Glasgow and Enterprise sank the destroyer Z 27 and torpedo boats T 25 and T 26. As the remaining German ships fled for the French coast the Luftwaffe in response to the Navy’s cries for help arrived at the scene of battle with both conventional bombs and HS293s.
The Admiralty however was not caught asleep and realizing that the attack on the German Naval ships would result in a counter attack by the Luftwaffe had requested air cover for the two cruisers as they withdrew from the French coast. The result was that the RAF fighters and the Luftwaffe bombers arrived on the scene at the same time. Due to the fact that the RAF fighters forced the HS293 carrying DO 217s to take avoiding action during their attack runs none of the missiles hit near the two cruisers. So effective were the RAF fighters in breaking up this attack and in downing the missile-carrying DO 217s that anti-shipping missile attacks in the Atlantic ceased until the invasion of Normandy.