HMS Polyanthus (K47)

Polyanthus during World War II
United Kingdom
Builder: Henry Robb Ltd.
Laid down: 19 March 1940
Launched: 30 November 1940
Completed: 23 April 1941
Out of service: 21 September 1943
Fate: Sunk by German submarine U-952
Status: Wreck near 57°00′N 31°10′W / 57.000°N 31.167°W / 57.000; -31.167
General characteristics
Class and type: Flower-class corvette
Displacement: 925 long tons (940 t; 1,036 short tons)
Length: 205 ft (62.48 m)o/a
Beam: 33 ft (10.06 m)
Draught: 11.5 ft (3.51 m)
  • single shaft
  • 2 × water tube boilers
  • 1 × 4-cycle triple-expansion reciprocating steam engine
  • 2,750 ihp (2,050 kW)
Speed: 16 knots (29.6 km/h)
Range: 3,500 nautical miles (6,482 km) at 12 knots (22.2 km/h)
Complement: 85

HMS Polyanthus was a Flower-class corvette of the Royal Navy. She was launched on 30 November 1940 from Leith Docks on the Firth of Forth, at an estimated cost of £55,000.[1][2] Polyanthus was sunk by the German submarine U-952 using new German weapons technology on 20 September 1943 about 1,000 miles southwest of Reykjavík during convoy escort duty in the Battle of the North Atlantic.[3][4][5]


Main article: Flower class corvette

Flower-class corvettes like Polyanthus serving with the Royal Navy during World War II were different from earlier and more traditional sail-driven corvettes.[6][7][8] The "corvette" designation was created by the French in the 19th century as a class of small warships; the Royal Navy borrowed the term for a period but discontinued its use in 1877.[9] During the hurried preparations for war in the late 1930s, Winston Churchill reactivated the corvette class, needing a name for smaller ships used in an escort capacity, in this case based on a whaling ship design.[10] The generic name "flower" was used to designate the class of these ships, which – in the Royal Navy – were named after flowering plants.[1]

War duty and sinking

Although designed for quick and cheap construction, Polyanthus and ships like her in the Flower class were effective in convoy escort during the Battle of the North Atlantic.[11] The primary mission of protection against U-boats saw Polyanthus active in several transatlantic convoys in the early part of the war. By late 1943, the Kriegsmarine were using an acoustic homing torpedo - known to the Allies as a (GNAT) - which they hoped would reverse the changing tide of war, favouring the Allies in the Atlantic.[12]

On the night of 19–20 September 1943, two westbound Convoys ONS18 and ON 202 were facing frequent U-boat engagements, calling Polyanthus to their aid in the wake of several setbacks, including the near destruction of HMS Escapade and HMS Lagan.[12] After successfully driving away U-238, Polyanthus was ordered to rescue the crew from the escort HMCS St. Croix, recently sunk by U-305. Whilst under the command of Lieutenant John Gordon Aitken RNR, Polyanthus was sunk by U-952 using a GNAT before any rescue could be effected.[3][13] At least 7 officers and 77 crew were lost with Polyanthus among them Lt Graham Shepard. The only known survivor drowned within days at the hands of another U-boat attack on the ship that rescued him, HMS Itchen.[3]

See also

Notes and references

  1. 1 2 Milner, Marc (1985). North Atlantic Run. Naval Institute Press. p. 158. ISBN 0-87021-450-0.
  2. Warship Week(s) in World War 2, RishtonWeb, Retrieved April 13, 2011.
  3. 1 2 3 Helgason, Guðmundur. "HMS Polyanthus (K 47)". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  4. Lawson, Siri,"Convoy ON & ONS 18", Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  5. HMS Polyanthus (K-47) (+1943),, Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  6. Ossian, Robert,"Complete List of Sailing Vessels",, Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  7. Fitzsimons, Bernard, ed. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons & Warfare (London: Phoebus, 1978), Volume 11, pp.1137–1142.
  8. Jane's Fighting Ships of World War II, New Jersey: Random House, 1996, ISBN 0-517-67963-9, page 68.
  9. Blake, Nicholas and Lawrence, Richard, The Illustrated Companion to Nelson's Navy, Stackpole Books, 2005, pp 39-63. ISBN 0-8117-3275-4
  10. Chesneau, Roger and Gardiner, Robert, Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships (1922-1946), US Naval Institute Press (June 1980), p. 62 ISBN 0-87021-913-8
  11. Helgason, Guðmundur. "Corvettes". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  12. 1 2 Pocock, Michael W., "Daily Event for September 23",, 2007, Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  13. Helgason, Guðmundur. "HMS Polyanthus (K 47)". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 13 April 2011.

External links

Coordinates: 57°0′0″N 31°6′0″W / 57.00000°N 31.10000°W / 57.00000; -31.10000

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