REPORTS OF COMMANDING OFFICER, H.M.S. " SPARROWHAWK."
H.M.S. " Onslaught," 5th June. Sir,
I HAVE the honour to report the proceedings and loss of H.M.S. " Sparrowhawk " on night and morning of 31st May'- 1st June. After dark on 31st, the flotilla was in following order : "Tipperary," "Spitfire," "Sparrowhawk" and remainder of 4th Flotilla in company with Captain (D) in single line ahead, Course South, 17 knots, 5 miles astern of 2nd B.S.
About 11.30 vessels were sighted on the Starboard quarter overtaking the flotilla and apparently steering the same Course, except that the leading ship had 3 funnels, they could not be distinguished, the night, though light, being hazy.
When the leading Ship was abreast of " Tipperary," she switched on her searchlights and immediately opened fire, at the same time showing recognition signals of red and green lights. I ordered torpedoes to be fired at 3rd Ship in the line ; one torpedo was fired, the estimated range being inside 1,000 yards, and it is thought a hit may have been obtained as an explosion was observed by men aft. The " Tipperary " was now well on fire ; next ahead could not be seen. I hauled out of line to port, the enemy about this time putting out his searchlights. I found " Broke " just clear of the line, and not seeing any other destroyers, took station astern of her. Within a few minutes fire was opened on " Broke " from the Starboard bow and she altering course to port, I altered at the same time to avoid turning in her wake. The enemy then ceased fire. " Broke " appeared to be steadied on a course about East. A destroyer was then sighted on Port Bow, steering across my bows, and to give her more room, I ordered port 10°, but ship had hardly started to swing, when " Broke " was observed to be turning to port very rapidly, helm was put hard a starboard, but before this had any effect, " Broke " hit " Sparrowhawk " just before forebridge, cutting halfway into the ship and locking the 2 ships together; whilst in this position, a destroyer, name unknown, rammed '" Sparrowhawk " in the stern, cutting off about 5 feet and ramming rudder hard a port.
The 2 ships now drifted apart and endeavour was made, by working screws, to make to the westward but progress was very slight. About 2 a.m. a three funnelled German Cruiser, apparently " Mainz " class, was seen to sink. Survivors of '" Tipperary " were picked up about 3 a.m. " Dublin " and " Marksman " were sighted about 4 a.m., and in accordance with orders of Captain of " Marksman," the Ship having been prepared for towing, officers and men were taken on board " Marksman," and endeavour was made to tow " Sparrowhawk " stern first, but owing to resistance caused by stern being off and helm hard-a-port, wire parted, and in accordance with orders from V.A., 1st B.S. " Sparrowhawk " was sunk by gunfire. All Confidential Books and documents were burned with the exception of General Signal Book Standard and Service Call Signs, which were brought back, and the Vocabulary Signal Book, which was in use in W/T office at the time of collision and could not be found afterwards, as W/T office was badly wrecked, it may have gone over board then, or been thrown in a corner which could not be searched.
I have the honour to be, Sir, Your obedient Servant,
S. HOPKINS, Lt.Comder.
The Captain (D), 4th Flotilla.