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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2002

HMS MAHRATTA (G 23), ex-MARKSMAN -  M-class Destroyer Including Convoy Escort Movements

HMS Mahratta (Navy Photos, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

M-Class Destroyer ordered from Scotts Engineering & Shipbuilder, Greenock on 7th July 1939 under the 1939 Programme and intended to be named HMS MARKSMAN. She was laid down on 21st January 1940 but the incomplete structure was blown off the slipway during an air raid on the Clyde in May 1941 and the structure was dismantled to allow transfer  to an alternative site. The second date for commencement if build was 18th August 1941 and the ship was launched on 28th July 1943 as HMS MAHRATTA following a decision in July 1942 to introduce this name as a recognition of the financial support given by India to the war effort. This name had first been used in 1882 for TB4 when that  ship was transferred to the Royal Indian Marine. Later in April 1918 it was given to the Paddle Steamer EMPEROR OF INDIA when hired for use as a Patrol Vessel. Build of this destroyer was completed on 8th April 1943. In February 1942 this ship was adopted by the civil community of Walsall, Staffordshire after a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign.


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

None is recorded in the Official List


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


ARCTIC 1943-44



D e t a i l s   o f   W a r   S e r v i c e


(for more ship information, go to Naval History Homepage and type name in Site Search)



1 9 4 0


    May            Hull structure damaged on stocks at Greenock during air raid

                        Build suspended and structure salvaged for use on new slipway.

1 9 4 1


           18th      Laid down on new slipway.

1 9 4 2


           28th      Launched as HMS MAHRATTA.

1 9 4 3 

     March        Contractors trials


     April           Commissioned for service in 3rd Destroyer Flotilla, Home Fleet.

             8th      Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials.

                         Passage to Scapa Flow for work-up with ships of Home Fleet on completion of

                         trials and storing.


     May            Worked-up with ships of Home Fleet


     June           Completed work-up and joined Squadron for Home Fleet screening and patrol duties.

             4th      Deployed for screening of major warships deployed for replenishment and support

                        of allied garrison at Spitzbergen (GEARBOX series Operation.)


      July           Deployed with Flotilla for screening of major warships during diversionary offensive

                        sweeps by Home Fleet off Norwegian coast during allied landings in Sicily.

                        See ENGAGE THE  ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by C Barnett and the Naval Staff History.


      August       Flotilla deployment with Flotilla in continuation for Home Fleet duties.

            27th      Embarked RAF personnel in Faeroes for passage to Murmansk

                         to support aircraft being used for reconnaissance flights at Altenfjord prior to attacks

                         on German battleship  TIRPITZ.

            31st      Disembarked passengers at Murmansk and took passage to resume duties based at Scapa Flow.


      September Atlantic convoy defence and Fleet screening duties in continuation

            21st      Deployed with HM Destroyers OBEDIENT, SHIKARI and SARDONYX for anti-submarine

                         search operations in NW Approaches.


      October    Deployed for defence and support of Atlantic convoys in Bay of Biscay area.

             8th      Rescued four survivors from crew of RAF HALIFAX aircraft of 58 Squadron

                        which had hit by AA fire from U221 during depth charge attacks which sank the

                        submarine on September 27th. Six airmen were rescued after eleven days

                        in a liferaft. (See HITLERíS U-BOAT WAR Volume II by C Blair.

            10th     Escorted HM Battleship VALIANT for final part of passage to Plymouth from

                        Gibraltar after support of Operation AVALANCHE (Landings at Salerno.)

            20th     Independent passage to Murmansk with other Fleet destroyers, a corvette

                        and two ALGERINE Class Fleet minesweepers for provision of escort during

                        return to UK of mercantiles retained in north Russia when convoys

                        were suspended during summer months. Cover was provided by HM Cruiser

                        LONDON and US Navy cruiser USS AUGUSTA (Operation FR).

                        See CONVOYS TO RUSSIA by RA Ruegg, ARCTIC  CONVOYS by R Woodman.

                        Woodman and CONVOY ! by P Kemp for details of all Russian convoys.)

                        (Note: Five minesweepers and six motor launches transferred to the Soviet

                                    Navy under Lease-Lend took passage with these warships.)


      November  Flotilla duties in continuation with Home Fleet

             1st      Joined Ocean Escort for return Russian convoy RA54A to UK from Murmansk

                        with HM Destroyers MATCHLESS, MILNE, MUSKETEER, SAUMAREZ, SAVAGE,

                        SCORPION and SCOURGE. Cover was provided by HMS LONDON and USS


            13th     Detached with other ships of escort during passage in NW Approaches and

                        returned to Scapa Flow.

                        Nominated for refit and took passage to Humber.

            22nd    Taken in hand for refit at Brigham and Cowan shipyard in Hull.


       December   Under refit

1 9 4 4


            13th     Resumed Flotilla duties at Scapa Flow on completion of post refit trials.

            26th     Joined Ocean Escort for Russian Convoy JW56B with HM Destroyers

                        MILNE, SCOURGE, MUSKETEER, OPPORTUNE and HURON (RCN).

                        Cover was provided by HM Cruisers BERMUDA, BERWICK and KENT.

                        See above references.

            29th     HM Destroyers HARDY, INCONSTANT, OFFA, SAVAGE, VENUS, VIGILANT

                        and Norwegian STORD joined escort from Kola Inlet during passage.

            30th     Under sustained U-Boat attacks during which HMS HARDY was sunk.

                        See HITLER'S U-BOAT WAR by C Blair for details.)



             1st      Detached from JW56B on arrival at Kola Inlet.

             3rd     Joined escort for return Convoy RA56 with same ships for passage.

                        (Note: Departure delayed until escorts for JW56A and JW56B were

                                   available for use as Ocean Escort in view of known U-Boat threat.)

             9th      Detached from RA56 with HM Destroyers INCONSTANT, METEOR, MILNE,

                         MUSKETEER, SCOURGE, HMCS HURON and Norwegian STORD

                         and took passage to Scapa Flow.

            22nd     Joined Ocean Escort of Russian Convoy JW57 with HM Cruiser BLACK

                         PRINCE, HM Escort Aircraft Carrier CHASER, HM Destroyers MATCHLESS,


                          SWIFT, VERULAM and VIGILANT.

                         (Note: HM Destroyers BEAGLE, BOADICEA, KEPPEL and WALKER deployed

                                              with four corvettes had joined as Close Escort on 20th February.)

            24th      Under U-Boat attacks which were repulsed by escort and air cover.

            25th      Hit by T5 (FAT acoustic torpedo) fired by U990 and sank quickly in position

                         71.17N  13.30E in Barents Sea. Only 17 out of a total of over 217 in the

                         shipís company were rescued by HMS IMPULSIVE.

                         See above reference for details of JW57 and SEEK AND STRIKE by W Hackmann

                         for details of FAT torpedoes.


P o s t   W a r   N o t e


This name was given to a modified FLOWER Class corvette HMIS CHARLOCK in February 1946 that was lost in 1947 after grounding and became a total loss.   No trace of later Indian Navy warship with this name has been found.






by Don Kindell


These convoy lists have not been cross-checked with the text above






Date convoy sailed

Joined convoy as escort

Convoy No.

Left convoy

Date convoy arrived








RA 054A





JW 056B





RA 056





JW 057








(Note on Convoys)


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revised 5/8/11
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