Isaac Sweers history

November 26 1938 Isaac Sweers is laid down at "De Schelde" dockyard in Flushing ( Vlissingen ).
March 16 1940 Isaac Sweers is launched
May 10 1940 Isaac Sweers is towed to England by the Dutch tug Zwarte Zee. They arrive on the 11th on the Downs.
May 12 1940 Arrival in Spithead
May 29 1941 Isaac Sweers is completed at the John I. Thornycroft Dockyard in Southampton.
June 24 1941 Operational for the first time, with commander J. Houtsmuller in command. She leaves Southampton for Greenock via Plymouth and the Channel of Bristol. She conducted trials here.
July 5 1941 Isaac Sweers leaves for Scapa Flow, where her crew get their training. After that, she is allocated to the 19th destroyer flotilla in Greenock on the Clyde, which has a specific task escorting troopships southward, usually to a position near Spain.
August 1941 Isaac Sweers covers the outbound convoy WS-10 and on the way back, she's ordered to cover the tug Zwarte Zee during it's attempts to salvage the British freighter Cape Rodney (4512 gt). It fails and the ships return to base. The destroyer escorts several other convoys.
September 14 1941 Isaac Sweers has a collision with the British destroyer HMS Brocklesby. She sustained some minor damage to her starboard propeller.
September 17 1941 Sweers leaves Greenock with the English destroyers HMS Laforey, Lively and Oribi to take part in Operation Halbert. The main job at hand is to escort nine large merchants to Malta. The convoy has a quite impressive escort (carrier Ark Royal, battleships Prince of Wales, Nelson, Rodney, 4 cruisers, 8 destroyers).
September 24 1941 The Sweers arrives in Gibraltar with the Rodney and two Polish destroyers, the Garland and the Piorun. Her task of escorting the convoy was changed to bringing Nelson safely to Gibraltar. Sweers, Piorun and Garland leave the harbor in the evening, this time to escort HMS Nelson eastward. The British hope the Germans will believe the Rodney has just relieved Nelson in Gibraltar. After a few hours, the force changes course to Gibraltar Strait, which they pass at night.
September 25 1941 Rendez-vous with the rest of the convoy
September 27 1941 The convoy is attacked by about a dozen torpedoplanes. The Sweers has a "narrow miss" by a torpedo which passes 30 meters off the bow. The Nelson is hit by a second wave and has a list to the bow. By 1400 hours, 12 planes were shot down and only the Nelson was hit. The Sweers has 2 wounded by shellfragments on board. At about 1500 hours, the Sweers, Prince of Wales, Rodney ( Nelson is too heavily damaged to join ), 2 cruisers and 5 other destroyers receive order to engage an Italian battlefleet reported about 70 miles away. They return to the convoy soon afterwards, the Italians had decided not to fight. When night falls, the convoy comes near Sicily, where it's attacked by torpedoplanes. One merchant, the Imperial Star was hit by a torpedo and scuttled.
September 28 1941 Force A ( to which the Sweers belongs ) changes course back to Gibraltar
September 29 1941 In the early morning, HMS Gurkha gets a radar-fix on a surfaced submarine, and is narrowly missed by two torpedoes shortly afterwards (the torpedoes ran too deep). She and the Sweers turn and engage, but the Italian Diaspro escaped unscathed.
October 1 1941 Sweers arrives in Gibraltar.
Oct-Nov 1941 Sweers is part of a Freetown convoy in October, and starts escorting Malta convoys soon afterwards.
November 10 1941 Force H leaves Gibraltar for operation "Perpetual", the purpose of which is to transport 37 Hurrican fighters to the besieged island Malta. The fighters were aboard the carriers Ark Royal and Argus, and the idea is to launch them near Malta for the last leg. These ships were escorted by the battleship Malaya, the light cruiser Hermione and seven destroyers. The carriers launch their aircraft on the 12th, after which the fleet returns to Gibraltar, but on the 13th, a torpedo from U-81 ( Kapitän-Leutnant Guggenberger ) hits the Ark Royal amidships. The carrier comes to a complete stop only 40 miles from Gibraltar. The tug Thames was sent to tow her in, but she sinks at 06.13 on the 14th, only 25 miles away from port. The loss of this ship leaves quite an impression with the crew of the Sweers.
November 26 1941 Sweers becomes part of the 19th Destroyer Flotilla, Group I. She conducts anti-submarine patrols west of Gibraltar.
December 11 1941 The Sweers is scheduled to return to England for an overhaul, but receives to leave Gibraltar for the Eastern Mediterranean instead. Isaac Sweers, attached to the 4th destroyer flotilla under Commander Stokes on board HMS Sikh, leaves Gibraltar in the evening of the 11th.
December 12/13 1941 Commander Stokes receives a message from a patrolling Wellington bomber about two Italian light cruiser steaming southwards. They were expected near Bon Cape in the night of the 12/13th of December. Stokes decides to attack the cruisers and orders 30 knots to steam through the Skerki-channel. The arrive near Bon Cape at about 02.00, where the Sikh spots several lightflashes and vague silhouettes. The enemy squadron disappears behind the cape. As the allied flotilla rounds the cape, they are in full sight of two approaching Italian cruisers. Sikh was leading the group, then Legion, Maori and finally Isaac Sweers. The Sikh fires four torpedoes ( 2 of which hit ) at the first cruiser. The Legion also fires torpedoes at the first cruisers ( scoring one hit ) and opens fire with her main battery. The Maori does the same ( scoring one torpedo hit ). The leading cruiser, hit by numerous shells and torpedoes, is ablaze and quickly starts to sink. The second cruiser opens fire but misses and 1 torpedo hit by Legion and numerous shells also end the career of this ship. All destroyers scored hits one way or the other, Sweers with gunfire on the second cruisers. The situation now becomes more of a fire-at-will situation and the Sweers encounters an enemy torpedoboat, which was straddled by gunfire. Four torpedoes were also fired, but none hit. The captain also believes to have hit and sunk an enemy MTB. After done so much devastation, the flotilla retires to Malta. After the war, the Italian admiralty admitted to have lost the cruisers Alberico da Barbiano and Alberto di Giussano, two exceptionally fast ( 42 knots on trials ) ships of about 5000 tons. The torpedoboat was identified as the Cigno, but ( on the contrary what Stokes reported ) wasn't hit and sunk that night. Cigno came to her end in April 1943, sunk by two English destroyers. The MTB was never identified nor reported sunk by the Italian navy.
December 13 1941 The flotilla enters Malta. They receive new orders a few days later, as a convoy of one ship ( HMS Breconshire, a 9000 tonnes transport ) left Alexandria on the 15th. Force K, based at Malta and the 4th flotilla will steam eastward to rendez-vous with it.
December 17 1941 Rendez-vous with HMS Breconshire and her escort in the early morning. The ships are attacked by aircraft numerous times between 1300 and 1800 hours. No ships were sunk or damaged by the 10 torpedoes launched. The aircraft attacks were relatively meaningless with what a sightingreport announces at 1800 hours. An Italian fleet, totalling 4 battleships with numerous cruisers and destroyers was in a position near the convoy. Add the perfect reconnaissance and aircraft, the convoy seemed doomed. The fleet approached and opened a well-aimed fire at about 14 miles. Enemy aircraft also attacked ( one was shot down by Sweers ). The convoy changed course to the south, later to the north ( leaving Breconshire and two destroyers ). Admiral Vian ordered the rest to attack the enemy fleet with torpedoes. The cruisers and destroyers steamed northward and it seemed an battle was at hand, but again, the Italians decided not to fight it out.
December 18/19 1941 The convoy enters Malta. The Sweers leaves Malta for Alexandria soon afterwards.
December 24 1941 Commander W. Harmsen takes over command from commander J. Houtsmuller. The Sweers escorts some convoys during this period.
January 16 1942 The Sweers and three other destroyers leave Alexandria to escort convoy MW 8 B ( 4 merchants ) for Malta.
January 17 1942 HMS Gurkha is hit by a torpedo from the German U-boat U-133 (Kapitän-Leutnant Hesse) in the early morning. She was ablaze from bow to stern and oil from the ruptured fuel tanks also caught fire. The Sweers manages to tow Gurkha from the burning oil. Now most of the crew (240 in total) could transfer to the Sweers by whaleboat. From over a crew of 200, only 9 or 10 perished. Isaac Sweers receives order to put the survivors ashore in Tobruk, where she enters the harbor in the evening.
January 18 1942 Sweers makes contact with the convoy at about 0200 hours, which is escorted to Malta unharmed.
January 23 1942 It is decided to send the Isaac Sweers to the Netherlands East Indies, where the situation had worsened after many Japanese successes.
February 8 1942 Arrival in Colombo. She goes into drydock for some minor repairs and maintenance. She departs for the NEI on February 28, but is ordered back shortly after.
March 15 1942 Sweers is attached to the British Eastern Fleet.
April 5 1942 Arrival at the Addu Atol for refueling.
April 5 1942 Force B leaves the Addu Atol ( a refueling base ) to find the Japanese fleet, which was at that time in the Indian Ocean for commerce war and to attack bases on Ceylon. On this day, dozens of Japanese aircraft attack Colombo, where there is great damage to the wall installations. Two heavy cruisers, HMS Cornwall and Dorsetshire were sunk enroute to Addu Atol with heavy loss of life.
April 9 1942 The Japanese fleet attacks Trincomalee, where they sink the carrier Hermes with her escort, the destroyer HMAS Vampire. The fleet leaves for Bombay where it arrives on the 13th.
April 21 1942 Target practice
April 30 1942 Arrival at the Seychelles
May 22 1942 Force B is based at Mombassa, Africa. The Sweers leaves for England via Durban, Simonstown, Freetown and Gibraltar.
June 1 1942 Commander W. Harmsen is promoted to captain
June-September 1942 Overhaul at the Thornycroft dockyard in Southampton, where among other things here .50 MGs are replaced by 20 mm Oerlikons and her DC-equipment is augmented. A new Asdic-type is also installed. The overhaul is followed by a practice period in Scapa Flow.
October 1942 Part of the escort of HMS Furious to Gibraltar. Sweers leaves with HMS Escapade and Marne for Punta Delgada on the Azores
October 29 1942 Departure from Punta Delgada to rendez-vous with the troopconvoy KMF-1, bound for the beaches of North Africa, where an invasion will take place known as Operation "Torch".
November 2 1942 The destroyers missed rendez-vous as a result of a mistake made in deciphering a signal.
November 5/6 1942 The convoy passes Gibraltar strait during this night. The Sweers remains near Gibraltar during the invasion days and becomes part of Force "H"
November 11 1942 Order to pick up the survivors of a Dutch trooptransport , the Nieuw Zeeland (11.069 gross weight) together with HMS Porcupine. She was torpedoed by U-380, 14 men died. The other survivors were safely transported to Gibraltar.
November 12 1942 Isaac Sweers is at sea to rendez-vous with Force "H". The plan was to refuel underway from Force "R" ( 2 oilers with 4 escorting trawlers ), and by 00.00 hours in the night of 12/13, she was ready for action. She would cover Force R on one flank and leave in the morning for Force H.
November 13 1942 At about 0500 hours, two torpedoes hit the starboard side of the Isaac Sweers, and they put the whole ship ablaze from bow to stern. The first torpedo hit a fuel tank and burning oil spread over the water, the second hit the longroom and officersquarters, where all 13 officers, at that time asleep, perished. It was clear from the start that Isaac Sweers, the ship that had survived many attacks from aircraft, wouldn't survive the damage she had sustained. Isaac Sweers sank in position 37.23 N, 02.12 E due to a U-boatattack by the German U 431 ( Kapitän-Leutnant Wilhelm Dommes ). Only 86 men survived of a crew of 194. During the sinking, the trawler Loch Oskaig tried to come alongside the burning destroyer, but had to abandon her plans due to the heavy fires and exploding ammunition.


Approximate sinking position of Isaac Sweers

Sources
K.W.L. Bezemer "Zij vochten op de zeven zeeŽn"
Ph. M. Bosscher "De Koninklijke Marine in de Tweede Wereldoorlog"

Back Home