Once a ship had been built and launched she then had to be out-fitted, and then complete sea trials
before being handed over to her new owners, of course when the ship is for the Royal Navy then she has to also complete her trials to the satisfaction of the Navy Board before being commissioned into the service.
The Flower Class Corvette HMS POLYANTHUS was one of the many gallant little fighting ships that were some what over shadowed by there larger more illustrious sister ships during the battle of the Atlantic, these little fighting ships were to help keep the United Kingdom in the war against the Nazi tyranny that was attempting to control the world at the time.
The small Corvette based on a design that came from a Whale Catching ship not only had to contend with some of the fiercest weather and seas in the world but the ever present danger from U-Boats and from attack by long range German Luftwaffe planes sent out to find the convoys that the Corvettes were tasked with protecting.
She had been ordered by the Admiralty just 3 days before the declaration of war on 3rd Sept 1939 and she was taken on and ready for action by the Royal Navy in April 1941.
HMS POLYANTHUS was at action stations from that day on and was used on the North Atlantic convoy protection runs, it was after two years of fighting that the gallant little and not to mention over crowded corvette was to meet her terrible fate in the shape of one of the enemy's new secret underwater weapon, that weapon was the Gnat torpedo which was a torpedo which was able to home in on the sound of a ships engines and propeller noise, of course the ships at sea were not aware of this weapon at the time.
While fighting and escorting a combined convoy consisting of ships from convoy ON.202 and convoy ONS.18
In the middle of the Atlantic during a real battle royal between the ships and the wolf packs of U-Boats who were attacking the convoy not only under water but on the surface as well when they could.
On the 21st of September 1943, POLYANTHUS along with the Frigate HMS ITCHEN had cone back to try and pick up survivors from the Destroyer HMCS ST CROIX while doing this the ship took a single hit from a torpedo fired by U-952, POLYANTHUS sank so quickly that the Frigate HMS ITCHEN only managed to pick up one survivor from POLYANTHUS she has went down with 87 men of her gallant crew.
More tragedy was to follow as the Frigate HMS ITCHEN had the survivors from the HMCS ST CROIX and the lone survivor from HMS POLYANTHUS on board and she needed help with searching for any more so the Canadian Corvette HMCS SACKVILLE joined up with her to help, and even though the ItCHEN had lost the use of her ASDIC the two ships rejoined the battle with the ITCHEN then joining up with HMCS MORDEN to fight the battle in tandem as HMCS MORDEN had no depth charges left but still had the use of her ASDIC so the plan was that HMCS MORDEN would find the U-Boat and HMS ITCHEN would drop her depth charges onto the contact.
During the battle that followed HMS ITCHEN was hit by a torpedo from U-666 (what a number to give a vessel?)
She exploded in a huge fireball that threw wreckage over the HMCS MORDEN and the HMCS SACKVILLE and only three men survived, one each from the HMCS ST CROIX, HMS ITCHEN and HMS POLYANTHUS.
In what was one of the heaviest Canadian Navy losses of the war, this battle also introduced the German acoustic torpedo.
Difficult to imagine the horror of this going on nowadays from the comfort of our armchairs but the sacrifice of the men and women of the armed and merchant navies should never be forgotten.
We try here to give as full an account of her history as time and research permits, if you know of missing info
or you have any photographs of her, then please get in touch and we shall update her story as we go along.