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Thursday, 30 May, 2024
21November 1939

Two British warships hit mines on same day

On this day, a British destroyer and a British light cruiser both hit mines in different parts of the seas around the United Kingdom.

HMS Gipsy hit a mine just outside Harwich harbour. The ship had been sent out with five other destroyers to hunt for German u-boats which were believed to be laying mines around the entrance to the port. The Gipsy triggered a magnetic mine that had been laid two hours earlier, and almost broke in half before sinking. 31 crew were killed, including the captain.

Elsewhere, the new light cruiser HMS Belfast, was severely damaged after leaving port at the Firth of Forth and detonating a magnetic mine. The mine broke Belfast‘s keel, and wrecked one of her engine and boiler rooms. Twenty officers and men required hospital treatment for injuries caused by the explosion, and a further 26 suffered minor injuries. One crew member later died of his injuries. The damage to Belfast was so severe, there was fear the ship would have to be scrapped. Instead, she spent more than two years undergoing extensive repairs. Belfast returned to action in November 1942 with improved firepower, radar equipment, and armour.

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