HMS Zulu (G18)

Casualty List

Navy: Royal Navy
Type: Destroyer
Class: Tribal 
Pennant: L18 / F 18 / G18
Built by: A. Stephen & Sons Ltd. (Glasgow, Scotland) 
Laid down: 10 Aug, 1936 
Launched: 23 Sep, 1937 
Commissioned: 7 Sep, 1938 
Complement: 190
Lost: 14 Sep, 1942 (c 32-00'N, 29-00'E) Eastern Mediterranean, NW of Alexandria, Egypt by Italian/German force of Ju87 and Ju88 bombers. (see below)
History: Pennant numbers:
L 18 July 1938 - December 1938
F 18 January 1939 - Autumn 1940
G 18 Autumn 1940 - September 1942.

There was always something different about HMS Zulu. Perhaps being launched with boilers and funnels in place makes a happy ship. Perhaps her crew were determined that their ship, alphabetically last, should not be the least in her class. Zulu started as a happy and contented ship and remained so. After completing sea trials, Zulu sailed for the Mediterranean and arrived at Malta on 18 November 1938. There she joined HMS Afridi and the 1st Tribal Destroyer Flotilla. The 1939 spring exercises at Gibraltar were followed by independent cruising in the Western Mediterranean.

When war broke out, Zulu joined up with her sister ships to begin convoy escort duties and contraband control. In February 1940, she developed turbine trouble and had to be dry-docked for repairs at Leigh, England. She was also degaussed and returned to service on 9 March. Zulu was given a part to play in Plan R4 - the projected landing in Norway that would forestall German reaction to Operation Wilder. As it happened, Germany invaded Norway first and the Home Fleet put to sea.

In early 1941, HMS Cossack, HMS Maori, HMS Sikh and HMS Zulu were mainly employed in escorting convoys in and out of the Western approaches. They were escorting such a convoy on 26th May when they were ordered to join the Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C). The 4th Destroyer Flotilla thus shared in the destruction of the German battleship Bismarck. After the excitement of the chase, the 4th D.F. returned to Home Fleet work and Western Approaches escort duties.

In June 1941, Zulu sailed for Falmouth, England to begin her refit. Her after funnel was cut down and her mainmast was fitted with a high frequency direction finding (Huff-Duff) outfit. Two, single 2 pounder guns were mounted on the bridge wings. Radar was installed and the depth charge throwers were re-located. The refit was completed by July.

For the better part of 1942, Zulu was attached to Force H at Gibraltar, striking against Axis supply convoys. HMS Zulu and HMS Sikh's final operation together was the attack on Tobruk, Libya on 13/14th September 1942. As a result of shelling from coastal batteries, Zulu was hit but she could still make 30 knots. Her crew had been at full watch since dusk on the 13th and daylight on the 14th did not bring any rest. In spite of surviving multiple bomb attacks during that day, Zulu was mortally wounded at 1600hours. A bomb from an enemy aircraft had pierced her side and exploded in the engine room, thus flooding it along with #3 Boiler Room and the Gear Room. She stopped dead in the water and settled two feet deeper. HMS Croome came along side to take off any remaining personnel except for a towing party. Zulu was taken in tow by HMS Hursley. By 1900hours, and only a hundred miles from Alexandria, Egypt, she was sinking fast. The towing party was rescued after a strafing pass by an enemy aircraft. Suddenly, Zulu rolled to starboard and sank. In both attacks, twelve men had been killed, twenty seven went missing and one was wounded. May their souls rest in peace beneath the sea. 

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 received an order to leave the convoy and take part in the hunt for the German battleship Bismarck.

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.).


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