A large bronze plaque was taken as a trophy from the burnt out wreck of the San Giorgio. On 1 February Vampire rejoined the battle fleet for screening duties during further convoy movements. She spent three days with the fleet before proceeding to Suda Bay to act as escort for an Alexandria bound convoy.
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Support of the campaign ashore continued until 21 February when Vampire departed to join the 1st Battle Squadron and Eagle en-route for Alexandria before proceeding to Port Said to act as part of the escort for convoy ANF16 that was bound for Greece. Meanwhile, the German plans in the Balkans were beginning to take shape and on 1 March, Bulgaria joined the Axis powers.
Britain decided to send strong military aid to Greece. The movement of the troops and their equipment in the face of an ever increasing scale of air attack strained all the resources of the available naval strength in the Mediterranean to the utmost. Beginning on 5 March with the first movement of 'Lustre Force' as it was known and continuing until 24 April some 58, troops, with all their stores and fighting equipment, were transported from Egypt to Greece.
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The passage to Piraeus, virtually the only port available for disembarkation, led past enemy bases in the Dodecanese, from which they were able to launch attacks against the British line of communication. In spite of his advantageous strategic position they failed to halt the steady flow of men and material and excepting a few bomb splinter casualties in one ship all arrived safely. The losses sustained, six ships, were all vessels proceeding in the convoys but not part of the Lustre Force movement or vessels returning empty to Egypt. Vampire , in dock at Piraeus during the early stages, sailed on 9 March escorting empty ships of convoy GA2 tor Alexandria.
Before the end of the month she assisted in the safe passage of four Greece bound convoys broken by the task of embarking the ex Prime Minister of Yugoslavia from the yacht Calanthe in the Gulf of Athens for passage to Alexandria. In April Vampire continued her escort duties with the Greek convoys. On 17 April when escorting AN27, four German Junkers 88 bombers attacked; Vampire drove them off hitting one in the port engine and when only three returned twenty minutes later the missing plane was seen as evidence of her gunner's success.
On this, as on all the other runs, the usual air attacks developed forcing the abandonment of the damaged Scottish Prince by her crew, but urged on by the crew of Vampire and HMS Grimsby , they returend to the listing vessel and brought her safely into Suda Bay. At this stage the Greek campaign was a lost cause and in the face of a chaotic military situation the British Government ordered an evacuation to begin. Active in carrying out the rescue operations were six cruisers, nineteen destroyers and numerous small vessels. Three 'Glen' ships equipped with landing craft were also used.
All but men lost in the transport Slamat were safely landed in Suda Bay. But the operation was not accomplished without loss; Diamond and Wryneck of the 10th Flotilla were sunk as were the transports Ulster Prince and Pennland. Several ships were also damaged. Vampire 's part was confined to escort duty at sea and she took no part in the evacuation.
At this stage British military fortunes in the Western Desert had sunk to a low ebb and almost all the gains of the January offensive had been lost. Weakened by the Greek campaign the Commonwealth forces fell back when German armoured forces of General Rommel's Afrika Korps struck at the beginning of April.
On 13 April the British forces were back on the frontier of Egypt. Only the coastal city of Tobruk, held by Australian troops, held out and continued to remain a thorn in side of the Axis forces who despite their efforts failed to dislodge the defenders. The task of supplying the beleaguered garrison fell to the Navy. Two days later she sailed from Alexandria to Tobruk carrying stores and troops, returning two days later with wounded personnel. On 21 May she sailed again to Tobruk but returned to Alexandria a tired ship with defects mounting daily.
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When steaming above 16 knots severe vibration made it impossible for her to maintain the fast transit speed needed to get into and out of Tobruk under cover of darkness. It was reluctantly decided to withdraw her from the Mediterranean and send her to Singapore for an extensive refit. On 29 May she passed through the Suez Canal en-route to Singapore. Many of her crew were also newly arrived from Australia. The refit was completed on 15 November but a collision in Keppel Harbour with the steamer Perak delayed operational readiness until late November; with her final trials ending on the 26th.
On 1 December she was back in Singapore. The battleships Prince of Wales and Repulse arrived in Singapore on 2 December and when the latter sailed for Darwin, Vampire sailed as her escort but after 24 hours at sea the ships were recalled. In the middle watch on December 8th at Singapore Naval Base, many of us saw our first air attack when Japan commenced hostilities. In the afternoon of 8 December Vampire sailed from Singapore escorting Prince of Wales and Repulse on their ill fated attempt to disrupt the Japanese invasion of Malaya.
Following the sinking of both capital ships by Japanese torpedo aircraft, Vampire and HM Ships Express and Electra , three of the escorting destroyers, rescued officers and ratings out of a total complement of in both ships. Vampire landed nine officers, ratings and one civilian war correspondent at Singapore. Throughout the remainder of December Vampire was kept busy escorting inward and outward convoys to Singapore and giving protection to HMS Teviot Bank during mine laying operations in the South China Sea. The first three weeks of January saw Vampire continuing to escort shipping in and out of Singapore and Batavia.
On 24 January she arrived at Singapore as part of the escort of a troop convoy of six ships. The next two days were spent at the naval base.
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On 26 January she was ordered to proceed with the destroyer HMS Thanet to attack Japanese transports reported to be lying off Endau some 80 miles north of Singapore. The Japanese ships had arrived that day and comprised in fact two transports escorted by the light cruiser Sendai , destroyers of the 3rd Destroyer Squadron and some smaller craft.
Vampire and Thanet sailed on the afternoon of 26 January and arrived off Endau after moonset shortly before am the following morning. With Vampire leading, at 15 knots, the two ships steamed into what was a veritable hornet's nest. In addition to the cruiser Sendai , there were six destroyers Hatsuyuki , Shirayuki , Fubuki , Yogiri , Asagiri and Amagiri covering the transports.
At am the dim shape of what Commander Moran took to be a destroyer appeared on Vampire 's starboard bow. Seeking the transports he continued in towards Endau and soon sighted a second 'destroyer' 'right ahead and close. This ship, which was in fact a minesweeper patrolling outside the anchorage, sighted Vampire and gave the alarm. The two Allied destroyers continued their course towards Endau until shortly after am and when not sighting the expected concentration they turned south east and increased to best speed.
At am their luck ran out. A destroyer appeared on Vampire 's port bow and she fired her remaining torpedo. Again she missed while Thanet altering course to starboard fired all her torpedoes but they too sped harmlessly past the target. The Japanese destroyer opened fire and the cruiser Sendai joined in the confused melee that followed.
Hopelessly outnumbered Vampire and Thanet retired south east by east at top speed, returning the Japanese fire in the unequal engagement. Thanet was hit and at about am and great clouds of black smoke were soon emanating from the stricken vessel. Moran tried to cover her withdrawal under a smoke screen but she was doomed and was last seen from Vampire stopped and listing heavily to starboard. She sank shortly afterwards at about am on 27 January. Vampire , unscathed, made good her escape and entered Singapore Harbour at am that morning.
The night action off Endau brought Vampire 's service in the Malayan theatre almost to a close. She sailed on 1 February as part of the escort to the American transports Westpoint and Manhattan through Sunda Strait, returning to Batavia on 3 February. Two days later on 5 February she sailed escorting two merchant ships for Colombo where on 11 February Vampire joined the East Indies Station. At the close of the month her War Diary recorded that Vampire had been underway on 69 out of 83 days since the outbreak of the Pacific War. At the beginning of April the overwhelming success of Japanese operations on land and at sea made it abundantly clear to the British naval command that Ceylon was untenable as a base for operations.
The enemy had complete control of the Bay of Bengal and was in a position to control the waters south and south west of Colombo. I'm hiding at the ONE place they'll never look!
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