The brave crew of the HMS Jervis Bay

The Jervis Bay Memorial located at Albuoy's Point in Hamilton is a monument to what was arguably one of the bravest naval battles fought during the Second World War.

The named for a location on the south coast of New South Wales, Australia, was originally built as a passenger ship to take emigrants to that country. The 14,000-tonne vessel was taken over by the British Admiralty in 1939 and turned into a merchant marine cruiser.


The Jervis Bay Memorial located at Albuoy's Point in Hamilton is a monument to what was arguably one of the bravest naval battles fought during the Second World War.

The named for a location on the south coast of New South Wales, Australia, was originally built as a passenger ship to take emigrants to that country. The 14,000-tonne vessel was taken over by the British Admiralty in 1939 and turned into a merchant marine cruiser.

At this time, the Royal Navy was short of vessels and tried to make up for it by making a few liners into armed merchant cruisers. Unfortunately, for the , armed meant a white merchant marine ensign and seven six-inch guns dating from before the First World War.

The ship was well known to Bermudians because it frequently docked on our shores during the war.

On November 5, 1940, the was escorting a convoy across the Atlantic on its way from Nova Scotia, Canada to Europe.

Suddenly the convoy came upon a German warship, that immediately began firing on the convoy.

Although the was very poorly equipped for battle, it engaged the destroyer in fierce fighting, basically using itself as a decoy while the other ships in the convoy scattered.

The bridge was soon hit, and Captain E. S. Fogarty-Fegan lost his arm, but kept fighting until later when he was killed by another shell. Most of the officers were killed in the battle which lasted for almost 25 minutes. The eventually sank, but not before achieving its aim.

Sadly, only 65 survivors were picked up by the Swedish freighter .

After the attack, information was scanty and the Germans claimed victory, saying they had sunk the entire convoy. However, over the next few days as ships from the convoy reached safe harbour the truth began to surface.

On November 13, 1940, printed an account of events on the .

The captain of one of the surviving ships, said that a German raider sighted the convoy just before nightfall and immediately began firing on the smaller ships.

"The shooting was regular and accurate and five shells fell in one group," said the captain. "The raider was eight miles away and salvoes probably came from 11-inch guns. She had everything in her favour; clear weather and a calm sea. As soon as the enemy ship was spotted, orders were given for the convoy to scatter and the chased the raider with her own guns blazing."

It was an incredibly brave act, because all of the s shots fell short of the mark, as a result of its ancient hardware.

But she kept the warship at bay as the other ships in the convoy made off.

"The was badly damaged in the first few shots from the raider and she quickly took fire," said one of the survivors. "She was seen to be in a sinking condition but although her decks were awash her guns were roaring. Those on board the must have known what their fate would be, but they went on firing their guns for as long as they could.

"The German ship, however, had an overwhelming mass of guns trained on the , and the unequal contest ended with the ship going down.

"As we scurried off in the safety of the darkening night we could see more gun flashes, and we presumed that the warship was attacking other vessels in the convoy. We owe our lives to the gallant actions of the ."

Today, there are memorials to the all over the world, including Bermuda. The Bermuda National Trust takes care of the one at Albuoy's Point for the Corporation of Hamilton.

Military historian Andrew Bermingham said: "It is one of the great naval actions, whereby captain Fegan, the commanding officer, sacrificed his ship in order to save the convoy he was protecting. He was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross. Before the war Fegan had actually been awarded other decorations for saving lives at sea. So he was a very distinguished sailor."

Each Remembrance Day, there is a small service for Royal Navy veterans held at The Jervis Bay Memorial before the full parade begins.

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