Saturday, 24 October 2009
Cut in Half. The sinking of HMS Punjabi
HMS Punjabi was a Tribal Class destroyer of the Royal Navy that saw service in the Second World War, being sunk in a collision with the battleship HMS King George V. She has been the only ship of the Royal Navy to bear the name Punjabi which in common with the other ships of the Tribal class, was named after an ethnic group of the British Empire. In this case, these were the Punjabi people, the inhabitants of the Punjab region between India and Pakistan.
A picture of the mighty battleship HMS King George the 5th. Note the massive damage to her bows after slicing HMS Punjabi in half.
Punjabi was deployed on 26 April as part of the screen providing distant cover for the passage of Convoy PQ-15. They sailed from Hvalfjörður on 29 April. On 1 May she was rammed and sunk in a collision with HMS King George V in foggy conditions. Punjabi was sliced in two by the battleship's bow. 169 of the ship’s company were rescued from the forward section, and another 40 were picked up from the sea by other escorts, including HMS Marne. Those crew left in the after section, which sank very quickly, were killed when her depth charges were detonated. 49 of her crew lost their lives in the accident.
She sank directly in the path of the US battleship USS Washington, which had to sail between the halves of the sinking destroyer. Washington suffered slight damage from the detonation of the depth charges. HMS King George V had sustained serious damage to her bows and was forced to return to port for repairs.