HMS Edinburgh was a Town-class light cruiser built in Newcastle-upon-Tyne by Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson, launched in 1938, and sister ship to HMS Belfast
Notably, Edinburgh was still in the Firth of Forth when the Luftwaffe made its first raid on the naval bases at Rosyth on October 16, 1939, where she sustained minor damage in the attack, but no direct hits.
Arctic Convoy attack
Having escorted a convoy to Murmansk, HMS Edinburgh was in the Barents Sea to the north of Murmansk, and zig-zagging in a effort to prevent any U-Boats in the area from locking on to the cruiser, which was escorting convoy QP11 back from the Kola inlet in Russia, and carrying £5 million in gold bullion destined for America as payment for war equipment supplied to Russia. Three German destroyers and seven U-Boats had been deployed to intercept the convoy which included 13 merchant ships escorted by six six destroyers, four corvettes and HMS Edinburgh, which had been deployed about 20 miles ahead of the convoy.
Unfortunately, just before 16:00 hours on April 29, 1942, one of the turns brought her directly in line with U-456, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Max-Martin Teichert, who had raised his periscope in expectation of seeing the outline of a convoy, but saw only a lone cruiser. With only two torpedoes remaining in his magazine, Teichert knew he had only one chance to hit the isolated cruiser. He watched the zig-zagging cruiser and and waited for it to turn onto a new heading which he knew it would maintain for a few minutes, and once within range, timed the release of his last two torpedoes to coincide with this last change of direction, both torpedoes found their mark. The first torpedo struck the cruiser's starboard side fired a torpedo into her starboard side, causing the ship to list heavily, but the crew reacted quickly and competently by closing the watertight bulkheads, and preventing the ship from sinking immediately. The second torpedo struck the cruiser's stern, removing much of the structure and wrecking her steering equipment, causing an immediate loss of power and crippling the vessel.
Attempts were made to take heavily damaged cruiser in tow, and make for Murmansk, but this was thwarted by repeated German attacks which harassed the small group of ships. During an attack off Bear Island, Edinburgh was struck by another torpedo (which had missed another ship), and almost blown apart. During the battle which drove off the German ships, sufficient damage was caused to the German Type 1934A-class destroyer Z7 Hermann Schoemann that it had to be scuttled by its crew. However, Edinburgh's tow had been dropped, and the condition of the cruiser meant it was decided to scuttle her. When 4-inch gunfire and depth charges from minesweeper HMS Farrier failed to achieve this, a final torpedo from the destroyer HMS Foresight sank Edinburgh on May 2, 1942.
In total, two officers and 56 ratings were lost from HMS Edinburgh.
The cargo of gold bullion was removed from the wreck in 1981.
A documentary was shown on BBC1 Christmas Day 1981, and later in America around 1983.
Gold From the Deep - The Salvage of the Century
1 ⇑ HMS Edinburgh, sunk after being torpedoed in the Barents Sea, April 1942 Retrieved April 30, 2013.
- LAUNCH OF HMS EDINBURGH AT WALLSEND - British Pathé Retrieved April 30, 2013.
- HMS Edinburgh 1939-1942 Retrieved April 30, 2013.
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