Friday, June 08, 2012

Fullbore Friday

Your nation is in captivity, yet you fight - and you fight well.

I give you the Polish Grom-Class destroyer, ORP Błyskawica.
On 1 September, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. Consequently, following the the Polish-British Common Defense Pact, two days later Britain declared war on Germany. Before the war started it was realised that the Polish navy, in its infancy, was vastly outnumbered and no match for the Kriegsmarine. So on 30 August 1939, Operation Peking took place; the destroyers Grom, Błyskawica and Burza (Translated: 'Storm') were escorted out of the vulnerable Baltic to Britain to save them from destruction. Soon after, on 7 September, 1939 the Błyskawica attacked a U-Boat, the first recorded combat between an Allied and German ship in the war.

During the war the two Grom-class vessels fought with distinction, with the Błyskawica, under the command of Captain Wojciech Francki. The ship took part in Dunkirk, operations off Norway and would even later escort the Queen Mary to Britain carrying American troops through the dangerous Atlantic, the hunting-ground of U-Boats. The Błyskawica was one of the few ships capable of keeping up with the record-breaking Blue Riband winning liner.

Blysykawica was armed with four twin 120mm guns as her main offensive armament, triple torpedo tubes, four side depth charge throwers, two stern depth charge tracks and two mines, in addition to her impressive anti-aircraft battery consisting of one twin 40mm Bofors gun, 3 twin 37mm guns and two single 37mm anti-aircraft guns, ten anti-aircraft weapons in total.
During the war, she logged 146,000 nautical miles (270,000 km) and escorted eighty-three convoys. In combat she damaged three U-boats and shot down at least four aircraft before the war's conclusion in May 1945.
Neat thing too - she is still afloat as a museum ship.

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