HMS Wakeful (H88)

HMS Wakeful was a W-class destroyer of the Royal Navy. She was built under the 1916–17 Programme in the 10th Destroyer order. Wakeful was assigned to the Grand Fleet after completion, and served into the early years of the Second World War. Wakeful was torpedoed and sunk during Operation Dynamo by a German E-Boat on 29 May 1940.

United Kingdom
Name: HMS Wakeful
Ordered: 9 December 1916
Builder: John Brown & Company, Clydebank, Scotland
Laid down: 17 January 1917
Launched: 6 October 1917
Commissioned: 16 December 1917
Identification: Pennant number: H88
  • Si dormiam capiar
  • "If I sleep I may be caught"
Fate: Sunk on 29 May 1940 by E-Boat S-30
  • On a Black field an eye proper with rays ensuing therefore, Gold.
General characteristics
Class and type: Admiralty W-class destroyer
Displacement: 1,100 tons
Length: 300 ft (91.4 m) o/a, 312 ft (95.1 m)p/p
Beam: 26 ft 9 in (8.2 m)
Draught: 9 ft (2.7 m) standard, 11 ft 3 in (3.4 m) in deep
  • 3 Yarrow type Water-tube boilers
  • Brown-Curtis steam turbines
  • 2 shafts
  • 27,000 shp (20,000 kW)
Speed: 34 knots (63 km/h; 39 mph)
Range: 320-370 tons oil, 3,500 nmi (6,500 km) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph), 900 nmi (1,700 km) at 32 knots (59 km/h; 37 mph)
Complement: 110


First World War

Wakeful joined the Grand Fleet and was present at the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet in 1918. She then went into reserve.

Second World War

Just prior to the start of the war in August 1939 Wakeful was reactivated and recommissioned to attend the Royal Review of the Reserve Fleet in Weymouth Bay. At the outbreak of war Wakeful was assigned to convoy escort duty with the 17th Destroyer Flotilla, which was part of the Western Approaches Command.

Operation Dynamo

Wakeful was selected to support Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of allied troops from Dunkirk, on 26 May 1940. On 27 May 1940 Wakeful embarked 631 Allied troops. While returning them to Dover Wakeful came under air attack and received minor damage below the waterline. Despite the near miss Wakeful returned to Dunkirk to continue the evacuation, embarking 640 Allied troops on 28 May 1940. While carrying this out Wakeful was torpedoed by the German E-Boat S-30. The destroyer was struck by two torpedoes, one hitting the forward boiler room. Casualties were heavy, only two of the 640 Allied troops – Mr Stanley Patrick of the Royal Army Service Corps[1] and Mr James 'Jim' Kane of the Royal Tank Regiment [2] plus 25 of Wakeful's crew survived. A number of ships stopped to pick up the survivors, but one of these, the destroyer Grafton, was then in turn sunk by a German U-Boat.


The wreck is a designated War Grave, lying at a depth of 24 metres (79 ft) in busy waters along the approaches to Zeebrugge harbour at 51° 22'N, 2° 43'E. Permission is needed from Belgian Nautical Authority to dive on the site. In 2003 work was done to remove parts of the superstructure and funnel that were considered to be a potential danger to navigation and the recovered ship's crest and foot plate were placed in the Royal Naval Museum.



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