HMS Hunter, Sunk During First Battle of Narvik 10 April 1940, Found in One Thousand Feet of Water – Part 11

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This is said to be a photo of HMS Hunter (H35) sinking in Narvik fjord on 10 August 1940.

This photo said to be of HMS Hunter sinking raises several questions. It could only have been taken from the HMS Hotspur before she rammed the Hunter. Yet the eyewitness reports cited in Narvik: Battles in the Fjords by Peter Dickens, say the ship was aflame from all the hits she had taken from the Georg Thiele. So it is sort of confusing. Note: there is no smoke coming from her stacks which would be correct since the main steam line had been shattered and the stokers would have cut off the fuel to the boilers and blown all the steam.

Without taking a magnifying glass to various photos of Hunter and comparing them to the above, establishing the identity of the ship would be difficult. While ships of the same class all looked alike, each one had minor differences from the others because design changes were made as they were built.

I can’t state this for certain but since the photo above shows no signs of fire, I can only conclude that the above photo has been altered and must be of another H class destroyer sinking.

The photo below, is also said to be of HMS Hunter. By the way, her RN hull identification number was H35 which is painted on both ships. As you can see from the photo below, that number is much higher above the waterline than in the above photo of her sinking. So in the above photo, the ship really is sinking. But what ship is it?

Unfortunately, like much one finds on the internet, sources and dates are not given or any other way to find more information about the photographs.

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HMS Hunter (H35) in 1936

Incredibly, although under heavy fire, HMS Hotspur managed to free herself but the moment she backed away, HMS Hunter rolled over and sank. Casualties aboard HMS Hunter were heavy. Of the 158 officers and crew, only 46 survived. The rest were either killed in the battle, trapped below when the ship went down, or died of hypothermia. They were plucked out of the freezing water by the Germans and released to the custody of the Swedes several days later. (It would be churlish of me not to point out that the Germans made a concerted effort to rescue the British sailors as quickly as they could.)

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Wreck of HMS Hunter in a photo taken by the Royal Norwegian Navy. The wreck is so deep that the Norwegians had to photograph from a unmanned mini-sub.
I would like to thank Mr. Roger Cook, author and naval historian, who kindly emailed me and corrected my identification of the quadruple mount in the photo above. I had thought it a 2pdr pom-pom.
However, Mr. Cook correctly identified it in the following paragraph which I quote from his email:

“the photo of the quadruple gun mounting on the wreck is one of her quad Vickers .5in AA machinegun mounts. These ineffective weapons fired a smaller, less powerful cartridge than the contemporary .50 Cal browning (which is still with us). The lack of range was made worse by the fact that the guns were splayed out slightly one from another on the mounting, to give a scatter gun effect.”

Thank you, Mr. Cook, for your correction.

I started writing this blog years ago when recovering from successful treatment for cancer. Since I missed writing so much and since I was so fatigued, I couldn’t write much more in a day than a blog post. So I started my blog to entertain myself and have just continued on with it for more than five years. Not even sure why. Habit I guess.

One of things which constantly amazes me about my blog is this: while I have no idea who reads it, when I make a factual mistake, someone eventually emails me from somewhere in the world and politely corrects me.

Over the years readers from America, Canada, Belgium, England, Germany and the Netherlands have sent me corrections to posts. I appreciate that my readers take the time to do this.

 

 

[Source: Narvik: Battles in the Fjords by Peter Dickens. Images courtesy of Warships of World War II and NRK.]

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/

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