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  HMS Electra (H27)
Royal Navy
E-class Destroyer

1,405 Tons (Standard)
1,940 Tons (Deep)
329' x 33' 3" x 12' 6"
4 x 4.7" guns
8 x .50 cal MG
8 x 21" torpedoes
1 x 20 depth charges rack

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RAN 1941
Ship History
Built by Hawthorn Leslie and Company in Hebburn, Tyneside, United Kingdom. Ordered November 1, 1932. Laid down March 15, 1933 as E-class Destroyer. Launched February 15, 1934 as HMS Electra (H27). Commissioned September 13, 1934 in the Royal Navy (RN) and attached to the 5th Destroyer Flotilla, Home Fleet with a single white stripe around her rear funnel.

Wartime History
After the sinking of HMS Repulse, both HMS Electra and HMAS Vampire (D68) rescued survivors from the sea. After rescue, some Repulse sailors manned action stations aboard Electra, to save more sailors. In total, Electra rescued 571 of the 1,285 rescued. Afterwards, Electra and the other destroyers returned to Singapore to disembark them.

On February 26, 1942 departs Tanjung Priok arrives Surabaya and joins the "Combined Striking Force". After refueling at 4:15pm, ordered to attack Japanese transports and warships sited 200 miles to the north-northeast, departing at 6:30pm as part of a strike force of American, British, Dutch and Australian (ABDA) warships. The three British destroyers including Electra are in the lead, with HMS Exeter (68) in the center, HMS Jupiter (F85) to port, and HMS Encounter (H10) to starboard; followed by the Hr. Ms. De Ruyter flagship of Rear-Admiral Karel Doorman, USS Houston (CA-30), HMAS Perth (D29), and Hr. Ms. Java followed by two Dutch destroyers and four U.S. Navy (USN) destroyers.

Sinking History
On February 27, 1942 at the start of the Battle of the Java Sea Electra managed to evade Japanese gunfire and torpedoes in the first round of the engagement. At 5:17pm, hit by a shell that destroyed a 4.7" gun mount then exploded inside a boiler room and caused a loss of speed. At 5:25pm observed HMS Exeter (68) withdrawing and headed towards the Japanese force to cover her escape with near misses from gunfire landing nearby. Electra managed to score hits on Jints┼ź and Asagumo disabling her engines plus landed hits on Minegumo and Tokitsukaze.

Hit by gunfire that knocked out her A and X gun mounts, knocked out her forward electrical system, cut all communications, destroyed a searchlight platform, damaged the after boiler room and ruptured the main steam line. Dead in the water, the destroyer fired all her torpedoes and started to list to port and a fire began under the B gun mount and the Y gun mount ran out of shells. Helpless, the order to abandon ship was issued with one whaleboat loaded with wounded was able to launch but was hit by a shell and sunk. Moments later, the destroyer sank bow first in the afternoon. Lost in the sinking was Lt. Henry W. Davies and Able Seaman Robert Fraser.

Fates of the Crew
On February 28, 1942 at 2:35am a group of 54 survivors were rescued by U.S. Navy (USN) S-38 and one died of wounds while in transit to Surabaya where they were hospitalized where another died. One of the rescued crew was Joe Davies. After recovering in hospital, they were later transported aboard Verspeck to Australia arriving March 10, 1942. Later, many were transported aboard Nankin to Ceylon but were captured by German Raider Thor and held as prisoenrs aboard Regensburg, then turned over to the Japanese, where they became Prisoners Of War (POWs) and were detained in a prison camp until the end of the Pacific War.

Several hours later, HNMS De Ruyter and HNMS Java were also sunk.

Shipwreck
On August 19, 2003 a group of divers off MV Empress including Kevin Denlay located the shipwreck of HMS Electra at a depth of approximately 160' / 49 meters. When discovered, the shipwreck was covered with fishing nets. By 2016, the shipwreck was badly damaged by illegal Indonesian scrap metal salvage.

Kevin Denlay adds:
"No photos were taken of the wreck during this initial discovery. As it turned our we only did one dive to confirm that it was her as the visibility was very poor at the time and the wreck is almost completely covered in a trawler net. No doubt it was Electra though as we luckily got a look at her quad torpedo tubes and a glimpse at the open 3" gun just aft (where her other set of tubes used to be) and her hull appears intact along the entire length. I say 'luckily got a look' as although I swam from bow to stern net completely encased literally every other distinguishable feature. The only other WWII loss in that localized area was the Dutch destroyer Kortenaer (lost the same day) and she was configured differently (her torpedoes were mounted in a brace of three instead of Electra's four) and from all reports Kortenaer broke in half almost immediately upon being torpedo. As an aside, you may be interested to know that Electra herself is nowhere near where any of the Allied reports state she sank or the after action battle maps drawn by the Allies show she sunk, but very close to where the Japanese after battle maps show she sunk. And although no offence is meant, we have now, with other discoveries we have made elsewhere, consistently found that the Japanese were far more navigationally accurate and seemed to have a much better 'idea' of where both their own ships sank, and also where those they sunk actually went down, as compared to where the Allies 'thought' they went down."

Memorials
The crew lost in the sinking on February 27, 1942 are memorialized at the Chatham Naval Memorial in Kent, United Kingdom.

On March 29, 1947 a stained glass window at St. George's Chapel at the Royal Naval Barracks, Chatham, was dedicated to the crew of Electra.

References
The Guardian "British second world war shipwrecks in Java Sea destroyed by illegal scavenging" by Oliver Homes and Luke Harding November 16, 2016
"A 100m destroyer, HMS Electra, had also been scavenged, the report found, although a “sizeable section” of the wreck remained."
History of War: "Java Sea Shipwrecks of World War 2: One of the men who found them reflects on their loss" by James Hoare November 23, 2016
Thanks to Kevin Denlay and Ian Fraser for additional information

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Last Updated
September 29, 2023

 

SCUBA
160' / 49m

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