Command of the new escort destroyer HMS Eridge followed (he was to be her only Captain) and they deployed to the Eastern Mediterranean, and so began a gruelling 18 months of convoys to Tobruk and Malta under German controlled skies. ORed Tobruk¹ was the name for the enemy aircraft warning that the Tobruk radar station put out which all sailors dreaded as it meant yet another attack was imminent.
Eridge survived countless such attacks. She fought in the famous Battle of Sirte when the powerful Italian fleet was seen off. She had to pick up survivors, take stricken ships in tow and once had only blanks to fire at attacking enemy aircraft. Among Eridge¹s achievements was the sinking of U-568 in May 1942.
The author's luck finally ran out in August 1942 when Eridge was torpedoed by an Italian MTB. Under constant air attack, she was towed to Alexandria but was irreparable. Saddened by the loss of his ship but cheered by the Allies' increasing superiority, Gregory-Smith returned to Britain having been awarded two DSOs and one DSC (a second followed at D-Day). All this and more is told in the most graphic and moving fashion in this exceptional memoir, which will recall to many readers that naval classic The Cruel Sea. The big difference, of course, is that Red Tobruk is a true personal account.