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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2008


Polish ORP KUJAWIAK (L 72), ex-HMS OAKLEY (i) - Type II, Hunt-class Escort Destroyer including Convoy Escort Movements

ORP Kujawiak (Navy Photos, click to enlarge)

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Type II HUNT-Class Escort Destroyer built by Vickers Armstrong at Newcastle under the 1939 War Emergency Programme and ordered with 17 other ships of this Class on 4th September 1939- The ship was laid down on 22nd November 1939 as Job No J4136 and was the second RN warship to bear the name, that of a Scottish fox-hunt. The first HMS OAKLEY to bear the name was built in 1917 and sold in 1923. This destroyer was launched on 30th October 1940 and her build was completed on 17th June 1941. She was then transferred to the Polish Navy which manned the ship and renamed her ORP KUJAWIAK. After a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in March 1942 the warship intended to carry the name was adopted by the civil community of Nelson, Lancashire. During deployment in the Mediterranean ORP KUJAWIAK was sunk when she detonated a mine whilst entering Grand Harbour, Malta on 16th June 1942.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s

Although this ship was deployed for two major operations, no Battle Honours were

                    awarded because she was under Polish command.


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

(As HMS Oakley)

Badge: On a Field Red, a bugle horn erect and an annulet interlaced Gold.



D e t a i l s   o f   W a r   S e r v i c e   a s   O R P   K U J A W I A K


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




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Carried out builder's trials. Polish personnel joined ship


17th - Carried out Acceptance Trials. Accepted into service with Polish naval personnel. Transferred to Polish Navy and renamed ORP KUJAWIAK


18th - Under attack by German aircraft whilst on passage from Tyne to Scapa Flow to work-up for operational service with ships of Home Fleet (Note: Fire from aircraft hit 4in Ready-Use ammunition which exploded causing one fatal casualty.)


19th - At Dundee for repair and to land casualty. Sailed for Scapa Flow from Dundee.


20th - Arrived at Scapa Flow. When ready for work-up, carried out work-up exercises with ships of Home Fleet




11th - Deployed with HM Destroyer LIGHTING and Polish sister ship ORP KRAKOWIAK


12th - Detached from HMS NELSON with escort and returned to Scapa Flow.


13th - Resumed working-up at Scapa Flow.


23rd - Sailed for Plymouth from Scapa Flow on completion of work-up


25th - Joined 15th Destroyer Flotilla based at Plymouth for local convoy escort and Flotilla duties.


August to September


Deployed at Plymouth for Flotilla duties in continuation. (Note: Including Local Escort in SW Approaches and support for local operations in English Channel.)




23rd - Deployed with Polish destroyer ORP KRAKOWIAK for escort of inward Convoy SL89 during final stage of passage in Irish Sea from Freetown into Liverpool.


25th - Detached from SL89 with escort on arrival and took passage to Plymouth




24th - Deployed with HM Destroyer BEVERLEY as escort for HM Battleship RESOLUTION during passage from Plymouth to Scapa Flow to join Home Fleet.


27th - Detached on arrival at Scapa Flow and took passage to Plymouth.




Nominated for loan service with Home Fleet for planned amphibious operation.


15th - Passage from Plymouth to Scapa Flow


16th - Called at Greenock on passage and escorted HM Landing Ships, Infantry PRINCESS CHARLOTTE and PRINS ALBERT during passage from Clyde to Scapa Flow.


17th - Arrived at Scapa Flow for Operation ANKLET with HM LSI PRINS ALBERT. (Note: HM LS PRINCESS CHARLOTTE returned to Greenock on 16th with defects). Took part in preparatory exercises for ANKLET.


22nd - Sailed from Scapa Flow as part of Force J to carry out landings on Lofoten Islands. Other ships in Force J included: HM Cruiser ARETHUSA, HM Fleet Destroyers SOMALI, ASHANTI, BEDOUIN, Polish escort destroyer ORP KRAKOWIAK, HM Escort Destroyers WHEATLAND, LAMERTON, HM Norwegian corvettes ACANTHUS and EGLANTINE, HM Fleet Minesweepers SPEEDWELL, HARRIER, and HALCYON, HM Survey Ship SCOTT, RFA BLACK RANGER, RFA GREY RANGER, HM LSI PRINS ALBERT, PRINCESS CHARLOTTE, auxiliary ship GUDRUN MAERSK, and HM Tug JAUNTY departed Scapa Flow. HMS SCOTT was deployed as a Navigational Ship and HM Submarine SEALION had been stationed in landing area as a Marker. (For full details see THE WATERY MAZE by B Fergusson and Naval Staff History.)


26th - Carried out search of Vestfjord during which two Norwegian trawlers were captured and the German auxiliary warship GEIER (V5904) was boarded by a party from HMS ASHANTI. Although damaged, tow of this vessel was attempted but later abandoned when air attacks began. (Note: The primary objective of ANKLET was to obtain information about the ENIGMA coding machine. One was taken from GEIER with the associated wheels and documentation was taken from GEIER for delivery to Bletchley Park. For details see ENIGMA by H Sebag-Montefiore.)


27th - Operation abandoned because of lack of air cover at Kirkfjord, Lofotens. Sustained slight damage from near miss during air attacks


28th - Passage to Scapa Flow with ships of Force J.



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4th - Deployed with ORP KRAKOWIAK as escort for HM LSI PRINCESS CHARLOTTE and PRINS ALBERT during passage from Scapa Flow to Clyde.


5th - Detached on arrival with ORP KRAKOWIAK and both ships took passage to Plymouth.


8th - Resumed Flotilla duties at Plymouth.


February to May


Deployed for Flotilla duties at Plymouth,




Nominated for loan service with Home Fleet for escort of planned Malta Relief convoy (Operation HARPOON).


6th - Joined military Convoy WS19S in NW Approaches as part of Ocean Escort for passage to Gibraltar. (Note: Home Fleet ships deployed with WS19S included HM Cruisers LIVERPOOL, KENYA, HM Destroyers ONSLOW, ICARUS, BEDOUIN and Polish destroyer ORP KUJAWIAK).


12th - Joined HM Cruiser CAIRO, HM Destroyers BEDOUIN, MARNE, MATCHLESS, PARTRIDGE, ITHURIEL, BLANKNEY, MIDDLETON and ORP KUJAWIAK, HM Minesweepers HEBE, SPEEDY, HYTHE and RYE as Force X at Gibraltar for escort of convoy for passage to Malta through Sicilian Narrows.


14th - Under heavy and sustained air attacks during which HMS LIVERPOOL was damaged and had to return to Gibraltar.


15th - Under sustained air attacks and in action with Italian warships attempting to intercept and attack the convoy. (For details see THE BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by D MacIntyre, ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY and MALTA CONVOYS by R Woodman.)


16th - Sustained major structural damage forward after detonating a mine whilst entering Grand Harbour, Malta with the two mercantiles which survived passage of HARPOON. Ship sank before successful tow could be achieved.



S p e c i a l   N o t e


The name OAKLEY was reintroduced when it was given to another HUNT Class destroyer intended to be named TICKHAM on launch in 1942.






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








SL 089





WP 132





PW 161





WP 163





PW 164













(Note on Convoys)


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revised 5/6/11
further editing is required