The short but heroic life of a destroyer – a Dunkirk victim

HMS Havant 1939 to 1940:

Battle Honours: Atlantic 1940, Dunkirk 1940.
HMS Havant 1939 to 1940: Battle Honours: Atlantic 1940, Dunkirk 1940.
The telegram received by William Halls mother  still upsetting to read 78 years on.

NOSTALGIA WITH BOB HIND: Curse of the telegram: Dear Mrs Hall – your son is dead

0
Have your say

With the arrival of the new film Dunkirk in cinemas I have to mention a new booklet by Ralph Cousins.

It tells the story of HMS Havant, a destroyer lost during Operation Dynamo (the Dunkirk evacuation), but not before saving 2,432 lives.

Ralph tells the full story of Havant’s short but thrilling life and all for £2 plus postage and packing. Call (023) 9248 4024 for copies.

HMS Havant left Greenock on May 27, 1940, arriving at Dover two days later. She was immediately sent to Dunkirk where she embarked 500 French troops from the beach at Braye-Dunes.

She also tried to tow HMS Bideford off the beach after her stern had been blown off, but the tow broke. Havant arrived back in Dover at 4am on May 30.

The following morning she was off again to pick up troops from Braye and then to Dunkirk Harbour to pick up more troops.

The memorial to HMS Havant at Havants Royal British Legion headquarters in Brockhampton Lane, Havant.

The memorial to HMS Havant at Havants Royal British Legion headquarters in Brockhampton Lane, Havant.

This made a total of 932 and she returned to Dover.

A quick turnaround and immediate return to Dunkirk saw Havant pick up another 1,000 soldiers arriving back in Dover at 2.30am on June 1.

Another quick return to Dunkirk arriving at 7.30am saw her embark 500 more troops, but this is where Havant’s luck ran out.

Running down-channel from the harbour entrance she came under heavy bomber attack and two bombs ended up exploding in her engine room. A further bomb exploded as she passed over it, and that was the end of HMS Havant.

Many of the troops were transferred to HMS Saltash but after all her efforts, one officer and five ratings were killed along with 25 injured. At least 25 soldiers were killed or injured.