Newbattle at War a history of the Parish at war   

 Now featuring Scots in the Great War Living History Society.    




On 1 May 1940, the Tribal class Destroyer Afridi was deployed to Namsen Fjord for the evacuation of the last 5,400 of the 12,000 Allied (British and French) troops in Central Norway, climax of the doomed campaign to capture Trondheim. On 2 May at Namsos she embarked troops of the Royal Lincolnshire Regiment and transferred them to the French auxiliary cruiser oEl Kantara and in the few dark hours of 3 May embarked troops of the Hallamshire Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment. Afridi waited for the 36-man rearguard to reach Namsos, shelled transport vehicles and some munitions abandoned on the quayside and was the last ship to leave the port. After she joined the convoy,the troopships and their escorts, came under a series of air attacks. At 10.00 hours the Guépard class French destroyer Bison received a direct hit through the bridge, her forward magazine exploded and she began to sink by the bows.


Afridi, HMS Imperial and HMS Grenade went to her aid and fought off two more air attacks while rescuing survivors. Imperial and Grenade left to catch up with the convoy, which Afridi also did at midday after sinking the hulk of the Bison by gunfire. When she rejoined the convoy at 1400, another dive bombing attack developed. Afridi was targeted by stuka JU 87s (Stukas) diving from each side, making evasive manoeuvres ineffectual. She was hit by two bombs, one passing through the wireless telegraphy office and exploding beside No. 1 Boiler Room, the second also hitting the port side just forward of the bridge and starting a severe fire at the after end of the messdecks.


HMS Imperial came alongside to port and HMS Griffin to starboard to take aboard survivors, including Captain Philip Vian. At 1445 hours, Afridi capsized and sank bow-first on this, the second anniversary of her commissioning.


Fifty-three of her ship's company perished including one officer; in addition thirteen soldiers - the only casualties among the whole force of 12,000 troops evacuated from Andalsnes and Namsos - and thirty-five of the sixty-nine Frenchmen she had picked up from Bison.


Amongst those on board was Engine Room Artificer William A Scott whose parents lived in Newtongrange, he showed great coolness and professionalism that day and for his actions he was Mentioned in Dispatches, he had two other brothers in the Royal Navy.


Bill Scott was promoted to Chief Engine Room Artificer aboard H.M.S. Puckeridge. On 6th September 1943 she was on a hush hush mission to Oran, when she was hit by two of four torpedoes fired by the German submarine U617 and sank with the loss of 62 of her crew. There were 129 survivors.


Bill Scott working in the engine room, was not one of the survivors and went to the bottom with his ship.


He is commemorated on Portsmouth Naval Memorial.