Allied Warships

HMS Forester (H 74)

Destroyer of the F class

HMS Forester during the Second World War

NavyThe Royal Navy
PennantH 74 
Built byJ.S. White & Co. (Cowes, U.K.) 
Ordered17 Mar 1933 
Laid down15 May 1933 
Launched28 Jun 1934 
Commissioned29 Mar 1935 
End service 

Sold to be broken up for scrap on 22 January 1946. Scrapped at Rosyth in June 1947.


Commands listed for HMS Forester (H 74)

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1Lt.Cdr. Edward Bernard Tancock, RN31 Jan 1939Jan 1942
2Lt.Cdr. George Pepys Huddart, RNJan 19421 May 1942 (+)
3Lt. Jack Bitmead, RN1 May 194220 May 1942
4Lt.Cdr. Robert Augustus Fell, RN20 May 1942mid 1942
5Lt. Jack Bitmead, RNmid 19424 Aug 1942
6Lt.Cdr. James Arbouin Burnett, DSC, RN4 Aug 194221 May 1944
7Cdr. George Windsor Gregorie, RD, RNR21 May 19449 Jul 1944
8Lt. David Creagh Beatty, RN9 Jul 194417 Apr 1945
9Lt.Cdr. Peter Ronald Ward, RN17 Apr 19456 Jun 1945
10A/Lt.Cdr. Louis John Hilary Gamble, DSC, RN6 Jun 19455 Jan 1946

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Notable events involving Forester include:

20 Sep 1939
German U-boat U-27 was sunk in the North Atlantic west of Hebrides, in position 58°35'N, 09°02'W, by depth charges from the British destroyers HMS Fortune (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, RN) and HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN).

23 Nov 1939
Sinking of the armed merchant cruiser HMS Rawalpindi;

Around midday on 21 November 1939 the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, escorted by the light cruisers Köln and Leipzig and the destroyers Z 11 / Bernd von Arnim, Z 12 / Erich Giese and Z 20 / Karl Galster, departed Wilhelmshaven for a raid into the North Atlantic, this was to relieve the pressure of the pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee operating in the South Atlantic. Late on the 21st the escorts left the battlecruisers.

Just after 1500 hours on 23 November the British armed merchant cruiser HMS Rawalpindi (Capt. E.C. Kennedy, (retired), RN) sighted the Scharnhorst. Rawalpindi was part of the British Northern Patrol and was stationed south-east of Iceland in the Iceland-Faroes gap. Captain Kennedy tried to outrun the German ship and reported to the Admiralty that he sighted the German pocket battleship Deutschland, still believed to be operating in the North Atlantic. Just after 1600 hours, Rawalpindi came within range of the Scharnhorst and was quickly reduced to a flaming wreck. During this engagement Scharnhorst was hit by a 6? shell from Rawalpindi causing only light damage. Scharnhorst and Gneisenau together picked up 27 survivors from Rawalpindi. Rawalpindi finally sank around 2000 hours.

The British light cruiser HMS Newcastle (Capt J. Figgins, RN), that was also part of the Northern Patrol, picked up Rawalpindi?s signal and closed the scene. She sighted the Gneisenau but the Germans managed to escape in the fog.

The Admiralty also thought the ship sighted by Rawalpindi and Newcastle was the Deutschland that was trying to return to Germany. In response to the sighting and destruction of the Rawalpindi the Admiralty took immediate action;
The battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN with Admiral Forbes aboard) HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN) and the heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire (Capt. J.M. Mansfield, DSC, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. C.S. Daniel, RN), HMS Fame (Cdr. P.N. Walter, RN), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, RN), HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN), HMS Fortune (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, RN) and HMS Fury (Cdr. G.F. Burghard, RN) departed the Clyde to patrol of Norway to cut off the way to Germany for the Deutschland.

The light cruisers HMS Southampton (Capt. F.W.H. Jeans, CVO, RN), HMS Edinburgh (Capt. F.C. Bradley, RN) and HMS Aurora (Capt. G.B. Middleton, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Afridi (Capt. G.H. Creswell, DSC, RN), HMS Gurkha (Cdr. F.R. Parham, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, RN) and HMS Isis (Cdr. J.C. Clouston, RN) departed Rosyth to patrol between the Orkney and Shetland islands.

Light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. E. de F. Renouf, CVO, RN) was sent from Loch Ewe to the last known position of the German ship(s).

On northern patrol, south of the Faroes were the light cruisers HMS Caledon (Capt. C.P. Clark, RN), HMS Cardiff (Capt. P.K. Enright, RN) and HMS Colombo (Capt. R.J.R. Scott, RN). These were joined by HMS Dunedin (Capt. C.E. Lambe, CVO, RN) and HMS Diomede (Capt. E.B.C. Dicken, RN).

Of the ships of the Denmark strait patrol, the heavy cruisers HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) and HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.G.B. Wilson, MVO, DSO, RN) were ordered to proceed to the Bill Bailey Bank (to the south-west of the Faroes)

The light cruiser HMS Glasgow (Capt. F.H. Pegram, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Maori (Cdr. G.N. Brewer, RN) and HMS Zulu (Cdr. J.S. Crawford, RN) were already at sea patrolling north-east of the Shetlands were to be joined by the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, RN), HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, RN) and HMS Imogen (Cdr. E.B.K. Stevens, RN) .

Despite the British effort to intercept the German ships, both German battlecruisers returned to Wilhelmshaven on the 27th.

8 Mar 1941
The British merchants Lahore and Tielbank are torpedoed and sunk north of the Cape Verde Islands in position 20°51'N, 20°32'W by German U-boat U-124. HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, DSC, RN) later picks up 82 survivors from the Lahore and 62 from the Tielbank.

HMS Faulknor, and HMS Forester together pick up 107 survivors from the British merchant Nardana that was also torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-124 north of the Cape Verde Islands in position 20°51'N, 20°32'W.

10 Mar 1944
German U-boat U-845 was sunk in the North Atlantic, in position 48°20'N, 20°33'W, by depth charges from the British destroyer HMS Forester, the Canadian destroyer HMCS St. Laurent, the Canadian corvette HMCS Owen Sound and the Canadian frigate HMCS Swansea.

20 Aug 1944
German U-boat U-413 was sunk in the English Channel south of Brighton, in position 50°21'N, 00°01'W, by depth charges from the British escort destroyer HMS Wensleydale (A/Lt.Cdr. W.P. Goodfellow, RNVR) and the British destroyers HMS Forester (Lt. D.C. Beatty, RN) and HMS Vidette (T/A/Lt.Cdr. G.S. Wooley, RNVR).

Media links

British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman

Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

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