Full Speed Ahead To Her Glorious Doom: H.M. Armed Cruiser "Jervis
Bay" Facing A Salvo From 11-in. Guns
Drawn by our special artist C.E.Turner, from official details supplied.
H.M. Armed Merchant Cruiser "Jervis Bay" deliberately sacrificing herself for the sake of the convoy she was escorting.
A drawing showing her commander, Captain E.S. Fogarty Fegen - posthumously awarded the V.C. - taking the "Jervis Bay" full speed ahead to engage the enemy, an action which resulted in 33 out of 38 ships making good their escape.
On the evening of November 5 H.M. Armed Cruiser " Jervis Bay,"
with a convoy of 38 ships, was steaming slowly through the North Atlantic. It
was 5 p.m. of a fine autumn day and the light was slowly fading, when suddenly
a large enemy warship was sighted on the port beam of the convoy, about twelve
miles distant. The raider, thought to be a German " pocket
battleship," was first sighted by a Swedish ship of the convoy, and a few
minutes later a salvo burst overhead, but did no damage. The German guns were
then turned on the " Rangitiki," the largest ship in the convoy, and
the " Jervis Bay."
Immediately signals were made to the merchant ships to take avoiding action
by turning away under cover of smoke. Captain E. S. F. Fegen, R.N., then
steered his ship full speed ahead towards the enemy, with the object of closing
the range and thus being able to bring his 6-in. guns into action against the
raider and also draw the enemy fire away from the ships in convoy. Hit forward
early in the action by 11- in. shells, with her steering gear smashed and badly
on fire, the merchant cruiser kept on her course, closing with the enemy and
continuing firing her port guns until she began to sink.
Fegen fought until the battered decks of his ship were awash and her
superstructure on fire. He was last seen, with one arm badly wounded and
hanging useless by his side, standing on all that was left of the bridge, while
the "Jervis Bay," with her ensign still flying, settled slowly by the
stern. She effectively held the enemy fire while most of the ships of the
convoy made their escape. The heroic action of the captain of the "Jervis
Bay," who attacked a ship of overwhelming force, knowing the inevitable
fate of his ship and men, to protect his convoy, is true to the best traditions
of the Royal Navy.
The Victoria Cross has been posthumously awarded to Captain Fegen, who went
down with his ship. The drawing shows the " Jervis Bay " steaming to
her glorious doom, with her port guns in action, at the moment when she was
straddled by a salvo of 11-in. shells, one hitting her beneath the navigating
bridge and causing fire. A ship of the convoy is on the right, turning to
starboard to the protection of smoke from floats dropped astern. The German
raider is in the distant left horizon. A service was held in Liverpool
Cathedral on November 18 in remembrance of H.M.S. " Jervis Bay," her
commander, officers and crew.
Illustrated London News, Nov.23, 1940