HMS Gurkha (i)(L20)

Casualty List

Navy: Royal Navy
Type: Destroyer
Class: Tribal 
Pennant: L20 / F 20 
Built by: Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. (Govan, Scotland) 
Laid down: 6 Jul, 1936 
Launched: 7 Jul, 1937 
Commissioned: 21 Oct, 1938 
Complement: 190
Lost: 9 Apr, 1940 at 1400hours SE of Bergen, Norway in The North Sea. by German Ju.88 and He111 bombers (see below) 15 Killed
History: Pennant numbers:
L 20 May 1938 - December 1938
F 20 January 1939 - April 1940.

HMS Gurkha's departure for the Mediterranean Sea in December 1938 was delayed while gunsights and other items were fitted, repairs carried out and final trials completed. Eventually arriving at Malta on 20th December 1938, HMS Gurkha was assigned to the 1st Sub- Division of the 1st Tribal Destroyer Flotilla. For most of the time thereafter, HMS Gurkha worked closely with HMS Afridi although there were occasions when she was on her own or with other ships. Examples of these joint operations were: the Albanian Crisis, the visit at Athens, the Red Sea foray and the French troop convoys. For a while HMS Gurkha was employed on North Sea escort duty and in the Humber Striking Force. She then served with the Home Fleet and was almost continuously at sea escorting capital ships on their sweeps in the Atlantic.

The year 1940 began well for HMS Gurkha. On 8 February 1940 she and HMS Nubian hunted a U-boat off Scapa Flow. Later, on 21st February, she depth-charged and destroyed the German submarine U-53.

The next event was most unfortunate. On a snowy 9th March, HMS Gurkha and HMS Nubian were escorting a southbound convoy off the Shetlands when they met a northbound Norwegian convoy. Gurkha's propeller guard gashed a hole in HMS Kelly's bow when the two ships connected momentarily. Immediately, Kelly\'s signalman sent the message have been hit by mine or torpedo. Am uncertain which. Gurkha's signal came in clearly, That was me, not a mine.

HMS Gurkha participated in the very first moves of the Norwegian Campaign sailing with HMS Afridi and a force of cruisers and destroyers from Rosyth, England on 7/8th April 1940. On the 9th April at , the force was attacked by Ju88 and He111 bombers. One bomb hit her aft end and blew a 40 foot hole in the starboard side. The stern caught fire and the after magazine had to be flooded. Soon the stern was awash and Gurkha had a 45 degree list to starboard. All the lights were out but the wounded were brought up and laid on the fo'c\'sle. Many were blinded by fuel oil and everyone had to cling to the guard rails or anchor chains to keep from falling overboard. Some made it to the boats and Carley floats. It was now getting dark and cold. Useable guns fired air bursts to attract anyone\'s attention. HMS Aurora arrived on the scene. She stopped 200 yards away and lowered her boats. Gurkha heeled over onto her side. Those men who had not lost their hold on the fo\'c\'sle clambered through the guard rails and sat on the port side. At 1900, she rolled right over and sank. HMS Aurora managed to pick up 190 survivors. They were treated and eventually ended up in Devonport, England and given survivors leave. Gurkha was the first Tribal and first British destroyer to be sunk by air attack. 

23 Feb, 1940
The German submarine U-53 was sunk in the North Sea in the mid Orkneys, in position 60.32N, 06.14W, by depth charges from the British destroyer HMS Gurkha.

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