HMS Fiji was launched three months prior to the outbreak of the Second World War but not completed until May 1940.
On the 23 August 1940 HMS Fiji was allocated to the expedition to Dakar (Operation Menace).
Fiji left Scapa with Force M (Barham, Resolution, Ark Royal, Devonshire, Cumberland and seven destroyers. On the 31st August the Fleet met up with the transports Sobieski, Kenya and Ettrick. On the evening of the next day the Battle Squadron crossed the path of the patrolling German submarine U-32, commanded by Lt. H. Jenisch about 100nm WNW of the island of Saint Kilda (one of the Outer Hebrides). Jenisch quickly launched an attack against a target which he reported as an armed merchant cruiser but as fate would have it the intended victim escaped and one of the torpedoes went on to hit the Fiji. The torpedo struck and flooded her forward boiler room but the crew managed to contain the damage and the ship was able to limp slowly back to the Clyde.
Hans Jenisch joined the Kriegsmarine in April 1933 and after a year on the cruiser Deutschland trasnsferred to the U-Boat force in May 1937. After training he became the first watch officer on U-32 in January 1938. Two years later he took over this U-boat as commander. During his six patrols he sank 18 ships, including the 42,348 ton Empress of Britain on the 28th October 1940.
Two days later, on the 30th October, north west of Ireland, U-32 was sunk by depth charges from HMS Harvester and HMS Highlander. Nine members of the crew died and 33 survived. Jenisch spent six and half years in British captivity before returning to Germany in 1947.
HMS Fiji spent six months under repair as a result of this attack.
Additional Notes: When HMS Fiji was torpedoed on her first commission off the Outer Hebrides by the German submarine U-32, the torpedo struck the engine room. The following are the members of the crew who were killed in this attack. They are all buried at Glasgow (Cardonald) Cemetary.
Eng.Rm.Artificer Leonard ROSS, P/MX.62804, Aged 22. (Sect.E, Joint grave 6)
Chief Stoker George J. WINTER, P/K. 61180, Aged 40. (Sect.E, Joint grave 6)
Stoker P.O. George L. DREWERY, P/K. 65373, Aged 35. (Sect.E, Joint grave 4)
Stoker 2nd Class George H. Plant, P/KX.10012, Aged 21. (Sect. E, Joint grave 2)
Stoker 2nd Class Thomas W. Sparks, P/KX.98947, Aged 20.(Sect.E, Joint grave 2)
'We also have to record the death of
L/Stoker Edward Jellett, P/K.59816,
aged 40 years, who was killed in a bombing raid
on Southampton on the 1st December 1940,
being on leave whilst the Fiji was under repair.
Additionally, his wife and seven year old son
also died in the same raid.'
Submitted by: Ronald Bennett, General Secretary, HMSFA
ADDENDA: March 17, 2003
Lt. Jenisch, Captain of U-32
"Tom, I was in a junk shop and spotted an old book of German warships and the U boat that torpedoed the HMS Fiji before she went to Crete was in the book I have scanned it. The U boat 32 was herself sunk a few months after."
President, HMS Fiji Association
Click Here for Listings of German Subs including U32
Click Here for a photo of the German Submarine, U32
August 9 -19, 2012 - Trip to Gibraltar