HMS Inglefield (D02)

HMS Inglefield was an I-class destroyer leader built for the Royal Navy that served during World War II. She was the navy's last purpose-built flotilla leader. She was named after the 19th century Admiral Sir Edward Augustus Inglefield (1820–1894), and is so far the only warship to carry the name of that seafaring family. In May 1940, her pennant number was changed to I02.

HMS Inglefield, with HMS Hood in the background
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Inglefield
Namesake: Admiral Sir Edward Augustus Inglefield
Ordered: 14 November 1935
Builder: Cammell Laird, Birkenhead
Laid down: 29 April 1936
Launched: 15 October 1936
Commissioned: 25 June 1937
Identification: Pennant number: D02/I02
Motto: The sun my compass
Honours and
  • Atlantic 1939-43, North Sea 1940,
  • Norway 1940–42, Bismarck (Action) 1941,
  • Malta Convoys 1942, Arctic 1942–43,
  • Sicily 1943, Salerno 1943
  • Mediterranean 1944, Anzio 1944
Fate: Sunk by German Hs 293 glide bomb off Anzio 25 February 1944
  • On a Field White, a double headed eagle displayed per pale Blue and Red
  • (From the crest of Admiral Inglefield)
General characteristics (as built)
Class and type: I-class destroyer
Length: 337 ft (102.7 m)
Beam: 34 ft (10.4 m)
Draught: 12 ft 6 in (3.8 m)
Installed power: 38,000 shp (28,000 kW)
Speed: 36 knots (67 km/h; 41 mph)
Range: 5,530 nmi (10,240 km; 6,360 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Complement: 175
Sensors and
processing systems:
Service record
Victories: Sank U-45 (1939) and U-63 (1940)

Anti-submarine Action

On the outbreak of war, Inglefield was deployed as the leader of the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla, Mediterranean Fleet, and was based at Malta. However, she was transferred to the Home Fleet before the end of September 1939 to patrol the Western Approaches. In this rôle, she escorted HM aircraft carrier Courageous, but was answering a distress signal from SS Kafirstan when Courageous was attacked and sunk. Inglefield searched in vain for the U-boat U-29 that sank the Courageous. One month later, Inglefield, along with her sister-ships HMS Ivanhoe and HMS Intrepid, sank U-boat U-45 off the southwest coast of Ireland. She again came under attack from German U-boats when U-18 fired numerous torpedoes at her; they all missed. A few days after that last attack, she was required to tow the submarine HMS Triad back to Stavanger, after she was damaged while on patrol in the North Sea. She sank another German U-boat, U-63, in early 1940 with the help of HMS Imogen and HMS Narwhal; 24 Germans were rescued.

Operation Weserübung

In May 1940, after the failure of British forces in Norway, HMS Inglefield was called upon to evacuate British troops from the Norwegian town of Åndalsnes. In June, she escorted the damaged destroyers HMS Antelope and HMS Electra (which had collided with each other whilst escorting HMS Ark Royal during air attacks on Trondheim) back to port. It was a slow trip as Electra's bow was damaged. Things were not helped by a violent storm which lasted for half of the journey time, during which, an ammunition locker on Electra's forecastle broke loose and started sliding around the deck.

Pursuing German Battleships

Inglefield was deployed to the North Sea with HMS Zulu to escort the battleships HMS Renown and HMS Repulse in an unsuccessful operation to seek and destroy the German battleship Scharnhorst. It was believed that she was the cruiser Deutschland, and a massive naval effort by the Royal Navy failed to stop her from returning to a German port.

Perhaps her most famous role was in May 1941 when she served as part of the escort for HMS King George V and HMS Rodney in the pursuit and destruction of the German battleship Bismarck.

In August, she was present at Scapa Flow for a visit by King George VI, and even embarked the King for review of anchorage and then for return passage to the mainland on 9 August.

Convoy Defence

She was part of the escort for the first convoy to the USSR, along with HMS Victorious, and then HMS Argus. She would regularly return to escort duties in the Arctic, as she was often deployed with the Home Fleet. But occasionally she was sent elsewhere on a particular mission. One example was in early 1942 when she supported commando raids on the Norwegian coast and bombarded Florø with HMS Intrepid, an action which sank three ships and damaged on-shore factories. Another example was in April 1942 when she was also deployed to the Mediterranean to escort the United States carrier USS Wasp to Malta in April 1942. On 3 July 1942, she was taken from an Arctic convoy to search for the German battleship Tirpitz, which was reported to have left her normal anchorage. In 1943, she was removed from Arctic convoy duty for Atlantic convoy defence, but she still spent much of her time in home waters.

Italian Invasion

Her next major deployment was in July 1943, when she took part in the invasion of Sicily. She was one of 18 British, Greek and Polish destroyers which, along with four Royal Navy cruisers, made up the escort for HM Battleships Nelson, Rodney, Warspite and Valiant, HM Aircraft Carriers Indomitable and Formidable in the Ionian Sea. Inglefield's main role was to search for U-boats and to bombard enemy positions ashore. Throughout the operations on Sicily, she was based at Malta. When the invasion of Italy took place, Inglefield supported the landings at Salerno in a similar way. After the beachhead was established, she formed the escort back to home waters, but was soon sent back to the Mediterranean Sea for operations in Italy. One task was to escort HMS Renown, with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill on board, from Algiers to Alexandria.

During Operation Shingle in early 1944, Inglefield carried out a diversionary bombardment of Civitavecchia to draw Axis forces away from Anzio. She then bombarded the coastal road at Formia for two days before supporting forces on the ground at Anzio. She operated out of Naples, ferrying supplies and troops to the battle, as well as continuing to provide covering fire and bombardment of coastal roads.

Last Action

On 15 February 1944, she escorted an ammunition ship from Naples to Anzio. She then took up a defensive position to protect the anchorage in Anzio. She was in this capacity for ten days before sustaining a direct hit by a Henschel Hs 293 glider bomb launched by II./KG 100 during a dusk attack and was sunk with the loss of 35 lives. 157 survivors were rescued and returned to the United Kingdom.



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