HMS Dainty (H53)

HMS Dainty (H53)

HMS "Dainty" was a D class destroyer of the Royal Navy. She served in the Second World War, operating in the Mediterranean, before being sunk in an air attack off Tobruk on 24 February 1941.

Construction and commissioning

"Dainty" was ordered on 2 February 1931 under the 1930 Naval Estimates and was laid down at the yards of the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Govan, Scotstoun on 20 April 1931. She was launched on 7 July 1932 and commissioned on 3 January 1933, at a total cost of £229,378, excluding equipment supplied by the Admiralty, such as weapons, ammunition and wireless equipment.



"Dainty" was initially commissioned to serve in the Mediterranean. After a brief period of refit and repair, she was re-commissioned in 1934 and was then deployed on the China Station. She remained here until 1939, apart from a detachment for duty in the Red Sea for nine months in 1935-36. As war loomed, she was transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet, arriving at Alexandria with her sister HMS "Duncan" on 30 September, after the outbreak of the Second World War.


"Dainty" was assigned to search for contraband being shipped across the Mediterranean throughout October and November, before undergoing a refit at Malta in December. On its completion she was transferred to Freetown to operate in the 2nd Destroyer Division. January and February was spent based at Freetown on searches for German commerce raiders operating in the South Atlantic, before transferring back to the Mediterranean Fleet in March. On arriving on 21 April, she underwent another refit at Malta which lasted until June. On its completion, "Dainty" joined the 10th Destroyer Flotilla.

On 12 June she rescued survivors from the cruiser HMS "Calypso", which had been sunk off Crete. On 20 June "Dainty" and the destroyers HMS "Decoy", HMS "Hasty" and HMAS "Stuart" screened the French battleship "Lorraine", HMS "Orion", HMS "Neptune" and HMAS "Sydney" during the bombardment of Bardia. Later that month she screened convoys to Malta. On 27 June she and HMS "Ilex" attacked the Italian submarine "Console General Liuzzi", which was forced to scuttle herself after being damaged. Two days later on 29 June "Dainty" attacked the Italian submarines "Uebi Scebelli" and "Salpa", sinking the "Uebi Scebelli". The "Salpa" was able to escape though. "Dainty" may also have been partly responsible for the sinking of the Italian submarine "Argonauta" on 29 June.

"Dainty" continued to screen convoys during July, and on 9 July, took part in the Battle of Calabria. Further escort duties then followed. On 29 August "Dainty" and the destroyers HMS "Jervis", HMS "Juno" and HMS "Diamond" escorted the Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker "Plumleaf" and two merchant ships, SS "Cornwall" and SS "Volo", from Egypt to Malta with relief supplies. On 30 August she detected a sonar contact and launched an attack, but without result. The next day the convoy came under air attacks and the SS "Cornwall" was badly damaged by three bomb hits which set her on fire, causing several casualties. On 1 September "Dainty" and "Diamond" were detached to escort the "Volo" and "Plumleaf". Having carried this out, she rejoined the fleet at Alexandria.

Fleet screening duties for more convoys followed in October. In November she was deployed on convoy defence in the Eastern Mediterranean and in December she was assigned to intercept enemy supply convoys to North Africa. On 31 October she captured two schooners off Bardia. On 7 January she was part of Operation Excess, and took part in fighting off heavy air attacks. "Dainty" then transferred to Suda Bay for interception patrols and convoy defence. She also towed the damaged tanker "Desmoulea" after she had been struck by a torpedo off Crete.


In February "Dainty" was deployed to intercept enemy ships and defend convoys to Tobruk. In the late afternoon of 24 February she left Tobruk on a patrol, accompanied by HMS "Hasty". The ships came under a surprise attack from a low-flying Heinkel He 111 and was hit by a 1000lb bomb which detonated in the Captain's cabin. This started a major fire which caused her after magazine to explode. The order to abandon ship was given and HMS "Hasty" manoeuvred to assist. As the fire spread, "Dainty"’s torpedo warheads began to detonate, causing splinters and fragments to sink a motorboat which "Hasty" had sent to evacuate the crew. "Hasty" then came alongside "Dainty" and took off the survivors. Also taking part in the rescue operation was the former Italian sailing vessel "Goelette Maria Giovanna", which had been captured east of Tobruk by "Dainty" on New Year's Day 1941. 16 of "Dainty"’s complement were killed in the sinking, and another 18 were wounded.


* [ HMS Dainty at]
* [ HMS Dainty's career]

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