HMS Mohawk (G31)
|Built by:||Thornycroft (Southampton, U.K.)|
|Laid down:||16 Jul, 1936|
|Launched:||5 Oct, 1937|
|Commissioned:||7 Sep, 1938|
|Lost:||16 Apr, 1941 Central Mediterranean, off Kerkennah Island, eastern Tunisia - by 2 torpedoes from Italian destroyer 'Tarigo'. With three other destroyers in attack on 5 ship Italian convoy. All 5 ships and 3 escorts, including 'Tarigo'|
L 31 July 1938 - December 1938
F 31 January 1939 - Autumn 1940
G 31 Autumn 1940 - April 1941.
Industrial difficulties delayed the completion of HMS Mohawk. Builder\'s trials were carried out but she was not ready for her crew until September 1938. After workups were completed, the destroyer sailed for Malta arriving there on 13th October. In February 1939, she arrived in Gibraltar for exercises and later, was assigned individual patrols and cruises. For most of the next few months, Mohawk stayed with Afridi\'s division cruising among the Greek Islands and visiting Athens, Greece. In August, Mohawk spent several weeks dry-docked in Malta, then returned to the eastern Mediterranean to concentrate on contraband control duties.
Early in 1940, Mohawk was engaged in a number of convoy escorts and fleet sweeps in the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean. On 3 March, she helped escort the brand new liner Queen Elizabeth out of the Clyde River and remained with her until the first stage of the voyage to New York City was complete. Mohawk almost missed this great opportunity as a result of a collision with the steamship Gartbrattan. Mohawk carried out her assignment in a slightly damaged state then set sail for repairs at Troon.
The British Admiralty, anticipating Italian aggression in the Mediterranean, decided to move destroyers there to help screen the big ships. HMS Mohawk and HMS Nubian, as part of the 14th Destroyer Flotilla (14th D.F.), were among the first vessels selected to escort capital ships in this area. At 1645hours on 10 June 1940, Italy declared war on the United Kingdom starting at 0001hours. By 0100hours, the Mediterranean Fleet was at sea and approached to within 120 miles of the Italian coast, then returned to Alexandria, Egypt on the 14th of June.
On the 8th of July, the British and Italian Fleets clashed in the Battle of Calabria, In the ensuing conflict, the Italian navy made smoke and their ships raced for cover. HMS Mohawk and HMS Nubian were instructed to open fire if any of the enemy ships darted out of the smoke in order to fire torpedoes on British ships. For the next month, the 14th D.F. was involved in a series of sweeps and patrols in the Eastern Mediterranean hunting for U-boats and surface ships. Sometimes they were attacked but action was scarce.
On 27 August 1940, Mohawk and the other ships of the 14th D.F. left Alexandria for a fast passage to Gibraltar in order to team up with other ships already there. This large force provided escort coverage for the next convoy to Malta. From 19th to 27th October, there was a brief quiet time for the ship and minor repairs were carried out at Alexandria. This lull ended on the 28th when Italy attacked Greece. Immediately, the fleet sailed sweeping right into the Ionian Sea but no Italian forces were encountered. By 6th November, the Mediterranean Fleet had left Alexandria to provide cover for convoys crossing to and from Malta. On 11th November, Mohawk and other capital British ships detached from the Commander-in-Chief and headed for the Straits of Oranto with the objective of enhearting the Greeks and dealing the enemy a blow in his own waters. After a short skirmish with the Italian navy, the Fleet returned to Alexandria on 14th November.
At 0500hours on 7 January 1941, the battlefleet once again sailed from Alexandria to cover a complicated movement of convoys to and from Greece and Malta including the Excess convoy which passed right through the middle of the Mediterranean. Again, there were German air attacks and engagements with Italian destroyers and torpedo boats. Luckily, the Fleet returned to Alexandria somewhat damaged but without having lost a single merchant ship to the enemy. Mohawk\'s luck changed very suddenly.
On 10/11 April, she and HMS Jervis, HMS
Janus and HMS Nubian arrived at Malta to act as a night striking force.
After two night patrols nothing was sighted, however, on 15th April, Allied
reconnaissance located a Tripoli bound convoy off Cape Bon. The 14th D.F.
left Malta in search of the enemy and made contact just off the coast of
Africa. A fierce battle developed with the Italian navy. Smoke, explosions,
shell splashes, burning ships and torpedoes confused the night sea. During
the action, Mohawk evaded a bow ramming from the lead German merchantman in
the convoy. Just as the destroyer opened fire, a torpedo from the Italian
destroyer Tarigo hit her just abreast of \'Y\' mounting on the starboard
side. The whole of the stern from the superstructure aft was blown away and
Mohawk was awash as far as \'\'X mounting. The crew of \'Y\' gun and the
supply party were all killed. \'A\' and \'B\' guns continued firing on the
merchantman and set her on fire. During this time, Mohawk had been
motionless in the water. Just as the destroyer made an attempt to get under
way, a second torpedo arrived hitting portside between No.2 and No.3 Boiler
Rooms. The No.3 boiler burst, scalding people on deck. The centerline of
the upperdeck split open allowing the torpedo tubes to fall into the engine
room and crushed the watch below. Immediately HMS Mohawk (Cdr. Sir J.W.M.
Eaton, R.N.) started to sink. All remaining hands were called to deck.
Within a minute, she was listing heavy to port, rolling over until she lay
on her side. There was no time to launch lifeboats but six \'Carleys\'
managed to float clear. Most of the crew were left in the water as Mohawk
sank. Her stern touched the bottom with her fo\'c\'sle above the surface.
Survivors were picked up by HMS Nubian while HMS Janus was ordered to sink
the dying destroyer by firing 4.7\" shells into her fo\'c\'sle. Mohawk
slipped beneath the surface and 41 men were lost with her. 16