L 82 August 1938 - December 1938
F 82 January 1939 - Autumn 1940
G 82 Autumn 1940 - September 1942.
HMS Sikh started her naval life with the
1st Destroyer Flotilla (1st D. F.). Her builders trials commenced in August
1938 and after being fitted with a gyro-compass and other equipment at
Chatham, England she was completed on 2 November 1938 even though she had
been commissioned a month earlier. After bringing King Carol and Crown
Prince Michael of Romania from Boulogne, France to Dover England, Sikh
returned to Portsmouth while the royal party went on a state visit to
Buckingham Palace. The Tribal returned the East European royals to Boulogne
on 18th November. After more workups, Sikh sailed for the Mediterranean,
arriving at Malta on 2 December.
In February 1939, HMS Afridi led Sikh and
the rest of the flotilla to Gibraltar for exercises followed by individual
cruises. On 21 March 1939, Sikh sailed to Cartagena, Spain to embark
refugees from the Spanish Civil War.
HMS Sikh, HMS Gurkha, HMS Afridi and HMS
Mohawk were patrolling in the Red Sea when war broke out. The ships quickly
returned back to the Mediterranean for convoy escort duty and blockades.
After a short operational period, Sikh was ordered back to home waters but
a broken turbine interrupted her departure from Malta. Eventually, the
Tribal made it home by 26 December 1939 and after a quick refit, she joined
the 4th D.F. in 1940.
Anti-submarine patrols, fleet sweeps and
convoy escorts occupied SIKH for the next few months. By April, the Tribal
found herself involved with the Norwegian campaign. At Nasmos Norway, Sikh
and her sister Tribals were attacked from the air almost continuously and
usually at meal times. As soon as she returned to Scapa Flow, Scotland,
Sikh was detailed for the evacuation of Allied trops from Central Norway at
the beginning of May. She then accompanied the 6th D.F. when they embarked
troops in the Andalsnes area of Norway. More turbine trouble developed, so
it was off to Alexander Stephen\'s Yard at Govan for repairs and refit.
Routine screening, North Sea patrols and
anti-invasion exercises followed and continued through the autumn and
winter months. Sikh escorted convoys in the Western Approaches and
protected the capital ships of the Home Fleet in northern waters. It was
mostly monotonous work in filthy weather but there were some notable
incidents. Sikh escorted one East Coast convoy from the Forth River to the
Thames River during the Battle of Britain and without any air or sea
attacks. The night of 16/17th October was also eventful when Sikh narrowly
avoided following HMS Fame and HMS Ashanti onto the beach at Whitburn,
On 21 May 1941,
HMS Sikh, HMS Cossack, HMS Maori and HMS Zulu left the Clyde River to
escort another troop convoy through the Western Approaches. En-route, these
ships were detached to screen Home Fleet capital ships which were attacking
the German battleship Bismarck. The 4th D. F. witnessed the destruction of
Bismarck at dawn on 27 May 1941.
After undergoing two more refits, Sikh
helped to escort HMS Nelson back to the U.K. The battleship had been
temporarily repaired following a torpedo hit during a Malta convoy. Sikh
rejoined Force H at Gibraltar taking part in various sweeps and exercises.
Ordered to reinforce the 14th D.F., HMS Sikh, HMS Maori, HMS Legion, and
HrMs Isaac Sweers proceeded eastward and off Cape Bon, Tunisia they sank
the Italian cruisers Alberico di Barbiano and Alberto di Giussano. After
calling at Malta, HMS Sikh and HMS Maori took part in the First Battle of
Sirte, then arrived at Alexandria, Egypt on 18/19th December. It was then
decided that HMS Sikh and HMS Maori should return to Malta, to join HMS
Zulu and form the 22nd D.F. This would act as a strike force against Axis
supply convoys between Italy and North Africa.
25 May, 1941
The 4th Destroyer Flotilla comprising the British destroyers HMS Cossack,
HMS Maori, HMS Sikh, HMS Zulu and the Polish destroyer Piorun was escorting
convoy WS-8B when they recieved an order to leave the convoy and take part
in the hunt for the German battleship Bismarck.
13 Dec, 1941
The Italian light cruisers Alberico da Barbiano and Alberto di Giussano
were torpedoed and sunk off Cape Bon by the Royal Navy destroyers HMS Sikh,
HMS Maori, HMS Legion and the Dutch destroyer HrMs Isaac Sweers on a supply
mission to Tripoli.
4 Aug, 1942
The German submarine U-372 was sunk in the Mediterranean south-west of
Haifa, in position 32.28N, 34.37E, by depth charges from the British
destroyers HMS Sikh and HMS Zulu and the British escort destroyers HMS
Croome and HMS Tetcott and by depth charges from a British Wellington
aircraft (221 Sqdn.).
September, 1942 HMS Sikh (Capt. St. J. A. Micklethwait, RN.) and HMS Zulu
were supporting an assault off the coast of Africa. While picking up troops
in boats at 0505hours, a searchlight on shore suddenly lit up HMS Sikh.
Quickly, HMS Zulu moved away, then came in bow first into the searchlight.
Shore batteries opened fire. One 88mm shell exploded in Sikh\'s Gear Room,
damaging the lubrication feed system and the steering gear. A second hit
forward, blew up the ready-use ammunition locker for \'A\' gun and started
a fierce fire that killed, burned, or disabled all of the Royal Marines who
had just been picked up. It also trapped more Royal Marines who had been
waiting in the messdecks. Emergency damage control and first aid parties
rescued the wounded, flooded \'A\' and \'B\' magazines, and dealt with the
blaze. Sikh was steaming in circles at 10 knots and getting slower. A third
shell struck her range finder director and from then on, all her guns had
to fire under local control. As Sikh came to a stop, Captain Micklethwait,
Sikh's Commanding Officer, ordered all Royal Navy Forces to leave the area
while HMS Zulu towed Sikh away from danger. While under tow, a forth shell
hit the unlucky destroyer setting off the charges around Sikh's 'Y'
mounting. This started another bad fire aft while a fifth shell struck 'B'
mounting killing the gun crew. Others took up their places and the guns
continued firing. During the shelling, the towline broke and Zulu made
attempts to get a heaving line to Sikh. Captain Micklethwait, went forward
to supervise the towing preparations on the fx'c'sle when a sixth shell
smashed the bridge. It was now broad daylight and the two ships were
getting underway when another 88mm shell hit the towline and severed it.
There was no hope of saving Sikh. HMS Zulu laid a smokescreen around Sikh
and tried to come in to take Sikh's crew. It was too dangerous. HMS Zulu
was ordered away. Shells continued to hit Sikh but her ''X" gun kept firing
until the ammunition in the ready use locker was exhausted. Captain
Micklethwait fired the scuttling charges which flooded the engine and
boiler rooms. He made a final tour of his ship and left. Sikh took a long
time to die, heeling over to starboard as she sank while shells continued
to hit. All the survivors were taken as prisoner of war.