Unit History: HMS Foylebank

HMS Foylebank

HMS Foylebank during WW2

HMS Foylebank a converted 5,500 ton merchant vessel.

She was launched in 1930, and named MV Andrew Weir. She was requisitioned 9 years later in September 1939 and converted into an anti-aircraft ship.

HMS Foylebank saw action in Portland Harbour next to the Isle of Portland in Dorset, England, arriving in Portland on 9 June 1940, commanded by Captain H.P. Weir.

HMS Foylebank was equipped with .5 inch machine guns, two quad 2-pounder pom-poms and four twin high angle 4-inch turrets, which were put to such good use by her crew that the Germans regarded her as a threat, that had to be removed.

In the early hours of 4 July 1940 unidentified aircraft were reported to the south of Portland Harbour, these were originally thought to be Allied aircraft returning from a mission, but they were to be 26 Stuka dive bombers.

These aircraft had but one objective to disable or destroy HMS Foylebank, which was seen as a threat to their plans to destroy Britain's coastal shipping.

In the eight-minute attack, two aircraft were shot down by the Foylebank, with an estimated 22 bombs hitting the ship, with such a massive amount of damage, the ship could not remain afloat and began to list to port, shrouded in smoke, sections of the ship only shortly before burning, she began to sink on 5 July 1940. 176 out of a total crew of 298 were killed in the line of duty, many more were wounded.

One of the ship's company, Jack Foreman Mantle, was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions in defending the ship from aircraft whilst mortally injured.

The Foylebank was later salvaged in two sections, Forward section, broken up at Falmouth in 1947, Aft section at Grays in Essex in 1952.

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