HMS Arbutus (K86)
|Builder||Blyth Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. Ltd|
|Laid down||30 November 1939|
|Launched||5 June 1940|
|Commissioned||12 October 1940|
|Identification||Pennant number: K86|
|Fate||Torpedoed and sunk by U-136, 5 February 1942|
|General characteristics |
|Class and type||Flower-class corvette|
|Displacement||925 long tons (940 t)|
|Length||205 ft (62 m)|
|Beam||33 ft (10 m)|
|Draught||13.5 ft (4.1 m)|
|Installed power||2,750 ihp (2,050 kW)|
|Speed||16.5 knots (30.6 km/h; 19.0 mph)|
|Range||3,500 nmi (6,500 km; 4,000 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)|
HMS Arbutus was a Flower-class corvette of the Royal Navy, which was active during the Second World War. She was a successful escort vessel, and took part in the destruction of two U-boats during the Battle of the Atlantic. Arbutus was sunk in the North Atlantic in February 1942.
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Arbutus was placed on order in July 1939, one of the first 26 "Flowers" of the pre-war building programme. She was laid down at the Blyth Shipbuilding Company, at Blyth, Northumberland, on 30 November 1939. She was launched on 5 June 1940 and completed 12 October 1940. She commissioned on the same day under the command of Lt. Cdr. H Lloyd Williams, RNVR, one of the earliest Volunteer Reserve command appointments.
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World War II service
After trials and working up Arbutus joined Western Approaches Command and was assigned to 6 Escort Group, led by JM Rowland in HMS Wolverine for convoy escort duties. In this role she was engaged in all the duties performed by escort ships; protecting convoys, searching for and attacking U-boats, and rescuing survivors. Over the next 14 months Arbutus escorted 26 convoys on the Atlantic routes, helping to bring over 750 ships to safety, though a number were lost in various incidents. She was involved in two convoy battles, and helped destroy two U-boats.
In March 1941, Arbutus, with 6 EG, escorted convoy OB 293 when it came under attack by a force of U-boats. The escort group mounted a vigorous and aggressive defence, resulting in the destruction of two U-boats and damage to a third, for the loss of two ships sunk and three damaged. During the two-night action, on 7 March 1941, Arbutus and Camellia found and attacked U-70; she was depth-charged and brought to the surface, where she was abandoned and sank.
In April 1941 6EG went to the aid of convoy SC 26 which was under attack. On 5 April Arbutus, with Wolverine and Scarborough, found and attacked U-76, which was brought to the surface and abandoned. As she surfaced Arbutus was closing in order to ram her; when he saw she was being abandoned Arbutus' then commander, Lt. ALW Warren, changed plans and attempted to capture the submarine before it sank. U-76 was boarded by several members of the corvette's crew, and efforts were made to secure and search the boat while Arbutus made fast to the U-boat with hawsers. However, U-76 was sinking too fast, and the capture failed. This was the first such instance of a U-boat boarding and acquisition in World War II, though it was unsuccessful; the exploit was repeated the following month when U-110 was captured by ships of 3 Escort Group.
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On 5 February 1942 Arbutus was escorting convoy ON 63 when it was detected by U-136. The U-boat sent a sighting report and commenced shadowing, but the transmission was DFed and escorts Chelsea and Arbutus ran down the bearing to attack. The U-boat commander, K/L H Zimmmerman, responded aggressively, counter-attacking and torpedoing Arbutus as she approached. The corvette broke in half and sank, with the loss of half her crew. 43 men, including her commander, were lost. U-136 was subsequently depth-charged by Chelsea, damaged and forced to abandon her pursuit, saving ON 63 from further harm.
During her service Arbutus was credited with sharing in the destruction of two U-boats:
|7 March 1941||U-70||VIIC||N Atlantic, N of Rockall
60°15′N 14°00′W / 60.250°N 14.000°W
|Rammed by Mijdrecht, D/C by Arbutus, Camellia; forced to surface, abandoned, sunk|
|5 April 1941||U-76||VIIB||N Atlantic, S of Iceland
58°35′N 20°20′W / 58.583°N 20.333°W
|D/C by Wolverine, Scarborough, boarded by Arbutus; sank due to damage received|
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Source: "HMS Arbutus (K86)", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2022, December 19th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Arbutus_(K86).
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- ^ Conway p62
- ^ Elliot p84
- ^ Elliot, p. 85
- ^ Arbutus at uboat.net
- ^ A Hague: convoyweb.org.uk
- ^ G Mason: navalhistory.net
- ^ Blair pp. 249–251
- ^ Blair pp. 265–266
- ^ a b Blair p. 550
- ^ loss of Arbutus at uboat.net
- ^ Kemp, p. 68
- ^ Neistle, p. 43
- ^ Kemp, p. 69
- ^ Neistle, p. 40
- Clay Blair: Hitler's U-Boat War Vol I (The Hunters 1939–1942) (1996) ISBN 0-304-35260-8
- Gardiner R, Chesnau R: Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922–1946 (1980) ISBN 0-85177-146-7
- Elliott, P: Allied Escort Ships of World War II (1977) ISBN 0 356 08401 9
- Arnold Hague: The Allied Convoy System 1939–1945 (2000). ISBN (Canada) 1 55125 033 0 . ISBN (UK) 1 86176 147 3
- Paul Kemp: U-Boats Destroyed (1997). ISBN 1 85409 515 3
- Axel Neistle: German U-Boat Losses during World War II (1998). ISBN 1 85367 352 8
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