ORP Piorun (G65)
The sister boat Napier
The ORP Piorun (G65) was a destroyer of the Polish navy in exile during World War II . The destroyer was originally built for the Royal Navy as HMS Nerissa (G65) , but was made available to the Polish Navy as a replacement for the ORP Grom sunk off Norway before it was commissioned .
The ORP Piorun served in the British Home Fleet . The fact that she found Bismarck in the North Atlantic, who was running to France , heralded its final destruction. From mid-1943 the Piorun was used in the Mediterranean during the Allied landings in Italy and from 1944 again with the Home Fleet.
In August 1946 the destroyer was returned to the Royal Navy in Harwich . Renamed HMS Noble , the destroyer remained in reserve until it was demolished in 1955.
History of the destroyer
The construction contract for the destroyer went to John Brown in Clydebank on April 15, 1939 for two destroyers of the "N- or Napier -class", which should be a repeat of the J- and K-class ordered in 1937 and of which only when the order was placed the Brown-built HMS Jackal had been removed a few days earlier. The order was placed before that for the M-Class, which was to be a repeat of the L-Class ordered in 1938, which was to introduce a new main armament.
The shipyard in Clydebank had already received orders for two destroyers of the same type in March 1937, which had just been taken over by the Royal Navy when the order was renewed as HMS Jackal and Javelin . The keel laying of the N-new buildings took place on July 26, 1939. The construction numbers 563/564 were to be given the names HMS Nerissa and HMAS Nizam .
The HMS Nerissa was then launched on May 7, 1940 as the first of the eight N-class boats. She also held a manufacturing lead over the class flotilla leader , the Napier under construction at Fairfield, and the second boats from both shipyards ( Nizam , Nestor ), which were commissioned by the Royal Australian Navy . The boats of the other shipyards ( Denny Brothers , Thornycroft ) were not completed until much later. The construction contracts for the N-Class went to four shipyards that had already built two J- and K-Class boats. None of the N-class boats were used by the Royal Navy. According to an agreement shortly before the completion of the first boats, five destroyers would be manned by the Royal Australian Navy. One boat was sold to the Polish Navy and in March 1941 it was agreed that the other two boats would be handed over to the Dutch Navy . Besides the two Dutch destroyers, the others returned to the Royal Navy after the end of the war, where they remained in the reserve until the demolition.
The new boats were supposed to be replicas of the J- and K-Class and differed from these only in that their armament was already adapted to war experiences at delivery. The Nerissa received only one torpedo set and instead of the rear one a 102-mm-L / 45-Mk-V - anti-aircraft gun and instead of the anti-aircraft machine gun quadruples provided in the original design, four individual 20-mm Oerlikon automatic cannons as well two Vickers 12.7 mm twin machine guns .
During the acceptance tests, the HMS Nerissa was handed over to the Polish Navy in exile, which had sent three of its destroyers ( Grom , Blyskawica , Burza ) to Great Britain in 1939 . On May 3, 1940, the Royal Navy had already made another destroyer available to the Poles, the Garland . However, the Grom was also sunk by the Luftwaffe on May 4, 1940 off the Norwegian coast. This has now been replaced by the Nerissa , which has been renamed ORP Piorun . The literally similar name emphasized this relationship. The destroyer began its service with the Home Fleet like the mass of British destroyers and took over security tasks with the fleet units as with shipping to the British Isles.
Since the end of February 1941, the destroyer was in the shipyard in order to remedy identified deficiencies when the Air Force attacked the shipyards in Glasgow on March 13 . The Piorun took part in the air defense while lying in the shipyard. After the end of the shipyard stay, the destroyer was used in various escort groups to secure convoy trains. On May 26, 1941, the Piorun with the British 4th destroyer flotilla under Captain Vian and the tribal destroyers Zulu , Sikh , Cossack , Maori was withdrawn from the escort of the troop transport convoy WS 8B in order to search for the German battleship Bismarck to contribute. The convoy continued with three destroyers under the protection of the cruisers Cairo and Exeter . The German battleship Bismarck , which was en route from the Atlantic to France, was discovered by a Catalina flying boat , shadowed by the cruiser Sheffield and torpedoed and almost incapable of maneuvering by the Swordfish torpedo bombers of the carrier Ark Royal of Force H coming from Gibraltar . On the night of the 27th, the destroyer flotilla was dispatched to the Bismarck . The Piorun was the first to sight the German battleship and kept in touch with Maori . The attack by the five destroyers was unsuccessful, but Bismarck could not score either, missed a lot of ammunition and was shot down the next morning by the battleships King George V and Rodney . Piorun had to leave the combat area prematurely due to lack of fuel and was attacked by the Air Force on the way to Plymouth on May 28th, but was luckier than her Maori boat that was badly damaged in a similar attack.
At the end of September 1941, the Piorun took part in Operation Halberd in the Mediterranean to supply Malta, where it survived the attacks by Italian torpedo planes in the cover group. After a lay in the shipyard in December 1941, the destroyer returned to service with the escort groups in the North Atlantic from January 1942. On April 20, 1942, a set cycle began for securing the Atlantic convoys from west to east to the British Isles with the existing eleven "Ocean Escort Groups". The Piorun was assigned to the "ÉG B2", which from the 23rd the convoy SC 81 with 70 ships from Halifax to Great Britain. In addition to the Polish destroyer, the destroyer Hesperus and the corvettes Clematis , Gentian , Sweetbriar and Vervain of the Royal Navy belonged to EG B2 . From the beginning of October to the beginning of December 1942 an overhaul of the destroyer in Dundee took place , in which the armament was also changed. The Piorun gave up the single, unprotected 102 mm anti-aircraft gun, in its place a second five-way torpedo tube set was reassembled. For this purpose, two of the individual Oerlikon automatic cannons and the two twin machine guns were replaced by four twin 20 mm Oerlikons.
After the overhaul, the destroyer came to the Home Fleet in Scapa Flow and was used for the first time from December 8, 1942 in the remote security of convoy RA 51 coming from Murmansk. This was followed by operations in the local safety of the convoy JW 52 with Beagle , Bulldog , Offa , Onslaught , Matchless and Musketeer and from the return convoy RA 52 in which Icarus , Forester and Onslow were also used. With the following convoy, JW 53 to the east and RA 53 back , the Piorun remained with the remote security. On March 20, 1943, the destroyer was again placed under the "Western Approaches Command". In May, the Piorun had to visit a shipyard for repairs and was then assigned to the “24th Destroyer Flotilla” in the Mediterranean to support the landing on Sicily.
Operation Husky began on July 10, 1943 , in which the Piorun belonged to the cover group cruising in the Ionian Sea for the entire deployment. On August 31, the destroyer was bombarding the coast between Reggio Calabria and Pessaro , which was carried out in preparation for a landing in Calabria by the battleships Nelson and Rodney , the cruiser Orion and eight other destroyers. On September 2, the British landing (Operation Baytown) took place and the Piorun fired at Reggio again. From the 3rd she supported the army artillery near Messina with the monitors Erebus , Roberts , Abercrombie and other units of the Royal Navy. In mid-September, the Piorun was one of the security forces of the British aircraft carriers Illustrious and Formidable , which supported the US landing near Salerno (Operation Avalanche). On November 8, the Piorun and the destroyers Grenville , Tumult and Tyrian shelled German positions on the Gulf of Gaeta in support of the 5th US Army . On November 26, 1943, the Piorun returned from the Mediterranean to Greenock , and on December 6, she returned to the dockyard.
On January 19, 1944, the Piorun resumed its service with the Home Fleet in the “3rd Destroyer Flotilla” in Scapa Flow. As part of the security units, she was involved in the Home Fleet's operations against the Tirpitz . At the beginning of May she belonged to the association around the aircraft carriers Furious and Searcher and the cruiser Berwick together with the destroyers Savage , Wizard , Wakeful , the Canadian Algonquin and the Polish Blyskawica . On the 6th he attacked the German escort in the Kristiansund / North area and sank two transporters. After the King's visit to Scapa Flow on the 11th, the Piorun belonged to a new formation formed from the escort carriers Emperor and Striker , the cruisers Sheffield and Royalist and the destroyers Onslow , Obedient , Ursa , Wakeful and Blyskawica . May attacked two German ships at anchor near Rørvik and Stadlandet with carrier aircraft. Despite numerous close hits, no success in sinking was achieved. On May 21, the Piorun then moved to the English Channel in support of the impending invasion that took place on June 6 in Normandy .
It belonged to the cover association against attacks by surface forces in front of the western canal access in the "10th Destroyer Flotilla". When on the night of 8./9. June the German 8th Z-Flotilla with Z 32 , Z 24 , ZH 1 and T 24 from Brest tried to advance to the invasion area, it was north-west of the Isle de Bas by the British 10th destroyer flotilla with the destroyers Tartar , Ashanti , Eskimo and Javelin as well as the Canadian Haida and Huron and the Polish Blyskawica and Piorun . During the battle, ZH 1 (ex Gerald Callenburgh ) was sunk by Ashanti torpedoes, Z 32 was set up and blown up after a battle with Haida and Huron near the Isle of Bas and the Tartar was badly damaged on the British side . On June 13, Piorun and Ashanti attacked a German escort between St. Malo and Jersey and sank the minesweeper M 343 from the escort of the 24th M flotilla . Seven other boats were damaged on the German side, but only Piorun on the Allied side . On August 12, the cruiser Diadem , Onslow and Piorun destroyed the Sperrbrecher 7 ex Sauerland (7078 GRT) near La Rochelle .
On September 20, 1944, the Polish destroyers Blyskawica and Piorun carried out a landing in support of French Resistance fighters in the Bay of Biscay near Audierne . Audierne was conquered on the 21st.
The Piorun remained in Plymouth for security duties on the southern access routes to the British Isles. It was overhauled again from the end of January to the end of April 1945. She then returned to the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow and, after the German surrender, visited ports in Norway, Germany and Great Britain. She was assigned to the 17th destroyer flotilla and took part in Operation Deadlight , the sinking of German submarines. After a short service with a newly formed Polish squadron in the Royal Navy, the Piorun was returned to the British in Harwich in August 1946.
Since its original name Nerissa now a minesweeper of Algerine class had received the destroyer HMS in was Noble renamed. This was the last name of a sister boat that was put into service as Van Galen for the Dutch Navy .
A conversion into a fast anti-submarine frigate of the type 15 was planned for a time. The boat remained in the reserve and was sold in September 1955 for demolition, which took place in Dunston on Tyne.
- ^ "ORP" is the abbreviation for "Okręt Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej" and the name prefix of Polish ships. ORP means "Warship of the Republic of Poland".
- ^ Rohwer: Der Seekrieg , p. 12
- ^ Rohwer, p. 126
- ^ Rohwer, p. 238
- ^ Rohwer, p. 383
- ^ Rohwer, p. 445
- ^ Rohwer, p. 454 f.
- ^ Rohwer, p. 459
- ^ Rohwer, p. 472
- ^ Rohwer, p. 483
- Maurice Cocker: Destroyers of the Royal Navy, 1893-1981. Ian Allen, 1983, ISBN 0-7110-1075-7
- Norman Friedman: British Destroyers: From Earliest Days to the Second World War. Seaforth Publishing, Barnsley 2009, ISBN 978-1-84832-049-9 .
- HT Lenton: Warships of the British and Commonwealth Navies. Ian Allan, 1969,
- Antony Preston: Destroyers. Hamlyn, ISBN 0-600-32955-0 .
- Jürgen Rohwer , Gerhard Hümmelchen : Chronicle of the naval war 1939-1945. Manfred Pawlak VerlagsGmbH, Herrsching 1968, ISBN 3-88199-009-7 .