Allied Warships

HMS Skate (H 39)

Destroyer of the Admiralty R class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassAdmiralty R 
PennantH 39 
Built byJohn Brown Shipbuilding & Engineering Company Ltd. (Clydebank, Scotland) 
Ordered8 Dec 1915 
Laid down12 Jan 1916 
Launched11 Jan 1917 
Commissioned19 Feb 1917 
End service 
History

In 1940 HMS Skate was fitted for minesweeping and had 8-.5" (2x4) machine guns added. Later she was converted to escort work and in that role she was armed as follows;
1 4" gun
1 12pdr AA gun
4 20mm AA (4x1)
She served mainly on Atlantic convoy duties and she also was part of the naval escort forces during the Normandy invasion.

HMS Skate is not listed as active unit in the January 1945 Navy List

Sold to be broken up for scrap on 4 March 1947.

 

Commands listed for HMS Skate (H 39)

Please note that we're still working on this section.

CommanderFromTo
1Lt.Cdr. Arthur Oswald Johnson, RN9 Jan 193914 Mar 1940
2Lt.Cdr. Robert Augustus Fell, RN14 Mar 194014 Jun 1940
3Lt. Frederick William Hayden, RN14 Jun 19403 Jul 1940
4Lt. Francis Peter Baker, RN3 Jul 19409 Feb 1942
5Lt. John Smallwood, RN9 Feb 1942Apr 1942
6Lt. Nicholas Marwood Mules, RNApr 194212 May 1942
7Lt.Cdr. (retired) Alan Westbury Preston, RN12 May 194228 May 1943
8Lt. John Charles Rushbrooke, DSC, RN28 May 19439 Jan 1944
9Lt. Harvey Patrick Fleming, RN19 Jan 19441 Jun 1944
10Lt. John Hart Macalister, RNVR1 Jun 1944late 1944

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Notable events involving Skate include:


9 Sep 1939
HMS Oberon (Lt.Cdr. H.C. Cumberbatch, RN) departed Portsmouth for Dundee. She was escorted until around 1900 hours by HMS Skate (Lt.Cdr. A.O. Johnson, RN).

During the night of 9/10 September 1939 HMS Oberon was in company with HMS Bittern (Cdr. G.F. Stevens-Guille, OBE, RN) and HMS Enchantress (Cdr. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, RN).

Around 0930/10, HMS Oberon, took station astern of a convoy until 1600 hours when she joined HMS Matabele (Cdr. G.K. Whitmy-Smith, RN) which remained with Oberon until she was off Dundee on the 13th. (1)

16 Sep 1939
Upon completion of her final trials and working-up, HMS Thistle (Cdr. R.W. Stirling-Hamilton, RN), departed from Portland for Portsmouth. She is escorted by the destroyer HMS Skate (Lt.Cdr. A.O. Johnson, RN). (2)

22 Sep 1939
HMS Thistle (Cdr. R.W. Stirling-Hamilton, RN) departed from Portsmouth for Dover where she arrived later the same day. She is escorted by HMS Skate (Lt.Cdr. A.O. Johnson, RN). Later HMS Brazen (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Mills, RN) took over from HMS Skate as escort. (2)

28 Sep 1939
HMS L 23 (Lt. F.J. Brooks, RN) departed Portsmouth for Blyth. She was escorted by HMS Skate (Lt.Cdr. A.O. Johnson, RN) until 1700/28 when L 23 joined a northbound convoy. (3)

14 Sep 1940
Around 0230A/14, the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) and light cruiser HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN) departed the Clyde for Plymouth where they will be stationed for anti-invasion duties.

On departure from the Clyde they were escorted by the destroyers HMS Mackay (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, RN), HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr. W.F.R. Segrave, RN), HMS Scimitar (Lt. R.D. Franks, OBE, RN) and HMS Skate (Lt. F.P. Baker, DSC, RN).

Around 2000A/14, the destroyers HMS Scimitar and HMS Skate parted company and the destroyers HMS Broke (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, RN) and HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. R.L.S. Gaisford, RN) joined.

HMS Revenge, HMS Emerald, HMS Mackay, HMS Broke, HMS Vansittart and HMS Westcott arrived at Plymouth around 0915A/15. (4)

22 Sep 1940
HMS Skate (Lt. F.P. Baker, DSC, RN) picks up 55 survivors from the British tanker Torinia that was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-100 about 340 nautical miles west of Bloody Foreland in position 54°55'N, 18°17'W.

24 Sep 1940
HMS Skate (Lt. F.P. Baker, DSC, RN) picks up 45 survivors from the British merchant Scholar, that was torpedoed and damaged on 22 September 1940 by German U-boat U-100 about 340 nautical miles west of Bloody Foreland in position 55°11'N, 17°58'W. On 23 September 1940 the Scholar was taken in tow by the British rescue tug HMRT Marauder (Lt. W.J. Hammond) in position 55?10'N, 17?49'W. On the 24th the tow was abandoned in position 54°38'N, 16°40'W and the wreck of the Scholar was scuttled by HMS Skate.

9 Feb 1941
HMS H 44 (Lt. A.R. Hezlet, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Skate (Lt. F.P. Baker, DSC, RN) and HMS Sardonyx (Lt.Cdr. R.B.S. Tennant, RN). (5)

11 May 1941
HrMs O 10 (Lt. J.H. Geijs, RNN) participated in A/S exercises off Lough Foyle together with HMS Skate (Lt. F.P. Baker, DSC, RN) and HMS Londonderry (Cdr. J.S. Dalison, RN). (6)

18 Jun 1941
HMS Skate (Lt. F.P. Baker, DSC, RN) picks up 70 survivors from the British merchant Norfolk that was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-552about 175 nautical miles northwest of Malin Head in position 57°17'N, 11°14'W.

4 Jul 1941
HMS H 44 (Lt. A.C.G. Mars, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Sennen (Lt.Cdr. D.C. Kinloch, RN), HMS Totland (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) S.G.C. Rawson, RN) and HMS Skate (Lt. F.P. Baker, DSC, RN). (7)

6 Sep 1941
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Douglas (Cdr. W.E. Banks, DSC, RN), HMS Skate (Lt. F.P. Baker, DSC, RN), HMS Leamington (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Bowerman, RN), HMS Chelsea (Lt.Cdr. A.F.C. Layard, RN) and HMS Caldwell (Lt.Cdr. E.M. Mackay, RNR). (8)

13 Nov 1941
HMS H 50 (Lt. E.T. Stanley, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Douglas (Cdr. W.E. Banks, DSC, RN) and HMS Skate (Lt. F.P. Baker, DSC, RN). (9)

22 Nov 1941
HMS H 34 (Lt. W.A. Phillimore, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle together with HMS Douglas (Cdr. W.E. Banks, DSC, RN), HMS Skate (Lt. F.P. Baker, DSC, RN) and HMS Leamington (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Bowerman, RN). (10)

29 Oct 1942

Convoy WS 24

This convoy was formed off Oversay on 29 October 1942.

It was made up of the following (troop) transports; Arawa (British, 14462 GRT, built 1922), Athlone Castle (British, 25564 GRT, built 1936), Empress of Scotland (British, 26032 GRT, built 1930), Indochinois (British, 6966 GRT, built 1939), Largs Bay (British, 14182 GRT, built 1921), Striling Castle (British, 25550 GRT, built 1936) and Tamaroa (British, 12405 GRT, built 1922).

The American seaplane tender Barnegat (Cdr. J.A. Briggs, USN) was also with the convoy.

On forming up the convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Rotherham (Capt. F.S.W. de Winton, RN), HMS Onslow (Capt H.T. Armstrong, DSC, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Ewing, RN), HMS Oribi (Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Sardonyx (Lt.Cdr. A.F.C. Gray, RNR), HMS Skate (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) A.W. Preston, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Holcombe (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Pinchin, DSC, RN).

The convoy was to take an unusual route for a WS convoy. Due to the Allied landings in North Africa (Operation Torch) it was not thought wise to have another troop convoy passing through the same area as the convoys for this operations would be passing through. Therefore it was decided to sent the convoy southwards with a stopover at Bahia, Brasil instead of the usual stopover at Freetown.

The Liverpool section of the convoy made up of the Athlone Castle and Stirling Castle was late at the assembly point due to being delayed by fog. They and their escorts, HMS Sardonyx and HMS Skate only joined the main part of the convoy on 31 October. HMS Sardonyx and HMS Skate then parted company to proceed to Londonderry.

At 1430Z/31, in position 49°46'N, 21°17'W, HMS Onslow, on the port wing of the A/S screen, reported an A/S contact and shorly afterwards sighted a periscope. The convoy then carried out an emergency turn to starboard and HMS Rotherham joined HMS Onslow to hunt the U-boat. Contact was again obtained at 1443Z/31. The first depth charge attacks of both destroyers were probably reasonably accurate as the U-boat went very deep and remained there. A total of seven attacks were made in all by the two destroyers and about 1730Z/31 contact was lost. Both destroyers then carried out a search to regain contact but without success. HMS Rotherham then proceeded to rejoin the convoy leaving HMS Onslow in the area until after dark in case the U-boat should surface. The U-boat attacked was U-563 which sustained damage in the depth charge attacks.

At 0400Z/2, HMS Rotherham parted company with the convoy to proceed to fuel at Ponta Delgada, Azores, where she arrived around 1715Z/2. She departed again to rejoined the convoy at first light on 3rd November. On leaving Ponta Delgada HMS Holcombe was encountered to enter that port to fuel. She was not to rejoin the convoy but to proceed to Bathurst on completion of fuelling.

At 1355Z/2, in position 40°43'N, 25°10'W, USS Barnegat parted company to proceed to French Marocco to join the forces for Operation Torch.

At 1500Z/3, HMS Rotherham rejoined the convoy.

At 1530Z/3, in position 36°40'N, 28°40'W, the armed merchant cruiser Queen of Bermuda (A/Capt.(Retd.) A.D. Cochrane, DSO, RN) joined the convoy.

At 1700Z/3, HMS Onslow, HMS Offa and HMS Oribi parted company to proceed to Ponta Delgada to fuel. They too were not to rejoin the convoy.

Around 2100Z/7, in position 15°41'N, 30°56'W, the transport Indochinois started to drop back due to engine trouble.

At 0348Z/8, HMS Queen of Bermuda was detached to proceed ahead to search for the destroyer HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN) and A/S whaler HMS Southern Pride (T/Lt. F.A. Darrah, RNVR). This was done due to the convoy arriving late at the arranged rendezvous.

At 1230Z/8, in position 13°16'N, 29°26'W, the troop transport Tamaroa parted company with the convoy to proceed to Freetown taking HMS Southern Pride with her as escort. HMS Southern Pride had been sighted only half an hour before.

HMS Queen of Bermuda rejoined the convoy at 1930Z/8. HMS Ilex had not been sighted.

At 1120Z/9, HMS Queen of Bermuda was again detached but not to search for the Indochinois using her aircraft to do so. When 50 miles clear of the convoy HMS Queen of Bermuda reported the position, speed and course of the convoy also for the benefit of HMS Ilex which had still not joined the convoy.

At 1500Z/9, in position 08°24'N, 29°22'W, the destroyer Ilex finally managed to join the convoy.

At 0715Z/11, HMS Queen of Bermuda rejoined the convoy. Her Seafox plane had made contact with the Indochinois and had passed instructions to her to rejoin the convoy. Since then she was however not seen and did not rejoin the convoy.

At 1000Z/11, in position 00°14'S, 30°42'W, the light cruiser HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) joined the convoy.

On the 12th, HMS Ilex took in 60 tons of fuel from HMS Queen of Bermuda.

The convoy arrived at Bahia, Brazil on 15 November 1942.

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The convoy departed Bahia for South Africa at 1830Z/19.

It was still made up of the same transports, minus the Indochinois.

Escort on departure from Bahia was provided by the light cruiser HMS Despatch and the destroyers HMS Rotherham and HMS Ilex.

Armed merchant cruiser Queen of Bermuda departed Bahia at 2359Z/19 to overtake the convoy which she did during the forenoon of the 20th.

At 0900Z/23, HMS Ilex was detached to return to Bahia.

At 2000Z/23, HMS Despatch parted company with the convoy to proceed to Pernambuco (Recife).

At 0800Z/28, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Alcantara (A/Capt.(retd.) J.D. Harvey, RN) joined.

At 0930Z/29, the destroyer HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN) joined.

At 1350Z/30, in position 34°36'S, 17°40'E, a quantity of wreckage was passed and shortly afterwards survivors were seen clinging to broken boats and rafts. HMS Rotherham picked up seven of these while HMAS Norman picked up another eleven. They were the Master, Chief Officer, Chief Engineer and 15 men of the Greek merchant vessel Argo that had been torpedoed and sunk by the Italian submarine Ammiraglio Cagni in position 34°45'S, 17°42'E at 2025Z/29. HMAS Norman transferred the survivors she had picked up to HMS Rotherham.

At 1440Z/30, the corvettes HMS Rockrose (Lt. E.J. Binfield, DSC, RNR) and HMS Thyme (Lt. H. Roach, RNR) joined.

At 1520Z/30, the transport Indochinois rejoined the convoy as did her escort, the destroyer HMAS Nepal (Cdr. F.B. Morris, RAN).

At 1610Z/30, HMS Rotherham parted company with the convoy to proceed to fuel at Simonstown where she also landed the survivors of the Argo. She arrived at Simonstown at 1830Z/30.

HMS Thyme parted company with the convoy late in the morning of 1st, December to proceed to Simonstown.

HMS Rotherham rejoined the convoy at 1600Z/1 having departed Simonstown at 0415Z/1. HMS Rockrose then parted company to proceed to Simonstown.

The convoy arrived at Durban at 0500Z/4. HMS Alcantara had parted company at 0400Z/4 to proceed to Simonstown. (11)

12 Jan 1943
HMS H 34 (Lt. G.M. Noll, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Skate (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) A.W. Preston, RN) and HMS Highlander (Cdr. E.C.L. Day, RN). (12)

28 Feb 1943
HMS Usurper (Lt. D.R.O. Mott, DSC, RN) conducted attack exercises on Inmarnock Water with HMS Breda (Capt.(Retd.) A.E. Johnston, RN) as the target and HMS Skate (Lt. J. Smallwood, RN) as escort for HMS Breda. (13)

7 Mar 1943
HMS Templar (Lt. D.J. Beckley, DSO, RN) conducted practice attacks in the Clyde area with HMS Skate (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) A.W. Preston, RN) serving as the target. HMS Templar proceeded to Campbeltown on completion of these exercises. (14)

10 Mar 1943
HMS Satyr (Lt. J.P.H. Oakley, DSC, RN) conducted attack exercises in the Clyde area during which HMS Skate (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) A.W. Preston, RN) served as target. (15)

13 Mar 1943
HMS Oberon (Lt.Cdr. J.W. McCoy, DSC, RN) conducted exercises in the Clyde area for the C.O.Q.C. (Commanding Officers Qualifying Course) with HMS Skate (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) A.W. Preston, RN). (16)

14 Mar 1943
HMS Oberon (Lt.Cdr. J.W. McCoy, DSC, RN) conducted exercises in the Clyde area for the C.O.Q.C. (Commanding Officers Qualifying Course) with HMS Skate (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) A.W. Preston, RN). (16)

18 Mar 1943
HMS Sealion (Lt. N.J. Coe, DSC, RNR) conducted attack exercises in the Clyde area for the C.O.Q.C. (Commanding Officers Qualifying Course) during which HMS Skate (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) A.W. Preston, RN) and HMS Breda (Capt.(Retd.) A.E. Johnston, RN) served as the targets. (17)

22 Mar 1943
During the night of 22/23 March 1943, HMS Universal (Lt. C. Gordon, RN), conducted exercises in the Clyde area. Practice attacks were made on HMS Biter (Capt. E.M.C. Abel Smith, RN) which was escorted by HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. E.J. Lee, RN) and HMS La Capricieuse (Lt.Cdr. G.W. Dobson, RNR).

These were followed by exercises in which HMS Skate (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) A.W. Preston, RN) served as target for HMS Universal. (18)

22 Mar 1943
HMS Satyr (Lt. T.S. Weston, RN) conducted attack exercises in the Clyde area during which HMS Skate (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) A.W. Preston, RN), HMS L'Incomprise (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) F.S. Deveson, RNR) and HMS Biter (Capt. E.M.C. Abel Smith, RN) served as the targets. These included night exercises. (15)

22 Mar 1943
HMS Stubborn (Lt. A.A. Duff, RN) conducted attack exercises in the Clyde area during which HMS Skate (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) A.W. Preston, RN) and HMS L'Incomprise (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) F.S. Deveson, RNR) served as targets. (19)

23 Mar 1943
HMS Stubborn (Lt. A.A. Duff, RN) conducted attack exercises in the Clyde area during which HMS Skate (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) A.W. Preston, RN) and HMS L'Incomprise (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) F.S. Deveson, RNR) served as targets. (19)

29 Mar 1943
HMS Sealion (Lt. N.J. Coe, DSC, RNR) conducted attack exercises in the Clyde area for the C.O.Q.C. (Commanding Officers Qualifying Course) during which HMS Skate (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) A.W. Preston, RN) and HMS Sabre (Lt. R.L. Caple, DSC, RN) served as the targets. (20)

2 Oct 1943
HMS H 33 (Lt. D.G. Kent, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Bombardier (A/Skr.Lt. C.W. Burman, RNR), HMS Grenadier (A/Skr.Lt. A.G. Day, RNR) and HMS Skate (Lt. J.C. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN). (21)

3 Oct 1943
HMS H 33 (Lt. D.G. Kent, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Bombardier (A/Skr.Lt. C.W. Burman, RNR), HMS Grenadier (A/Skr.Lt. A.G. Day, RNR), HMS Skate (Lt. J.C. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), HMCS Kitchener (T/A/Lt.Cdr. W. Evans, RCNVR) and HMCS Arvida (T/Lt. D.G. King, RCNVR). (21)

4 Oct 1943
The battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN) departed Greenock for Plymouth. She was escorted by the destroyer HMS Skate (Lt. J.C. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN) and the frigate HMS Bentinck (Cdr. E.H. Chavasse, DSO, DSC, RN) until 1530/4 when the escort destroyers HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.J. Kirkby, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Talybont (Lt. E.F. Baines, DSO, RN) took over.

At 0645/5, the escort destoyer HMS Tanatside (Lt.Cdr. F.D. Brown, RN) joined.

HMS Malaya and her escorts arrived at Plymouth around 1000/5. (22)

7 Oct 1943
While conducting exercises in Inchmarnock water (Clyde area), HMS Sealion (Lt. N.J. Coe, DSC, RNR), is hit by HMS Skate (Lt. J.C. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN). The periscopes of HMS Sealion were damaged. (23)

15 Nov 1943

Operation FT, passage of convoys JW 54A and JW 54B from the U.K. to Northern Russia as well as convoy RA 54B from Northern Russia to the U.K.

Convoy JW 54A

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This convoy departed Loch Ewe on 15 November 1943 for Northern Russia.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Daniel Drake (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Edmund Fanning (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Empire Carpenter (British, 7025 GRT, built 1943), Empire Celia (American, 7025 GRT, built 1943), Empire Nigel (British, 7067 GRT, built 1943), Fort Yukon (British, 7153 GRT, built 1943), Gilbert Stuart (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Henry Villard (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), James Gordon Bennett (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), James Smith (American, 7181 GRT, built 1942), Junecrest (British, 6945 GRT, built 1942), Mijdrecht (Dutch (tanker), 7493 GRT, built 1931), Norlys (Panamanian (tanker), 9892 GRT, built 1936), Ocean Vanity (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Verity (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Park Holland (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Thomas Sim Lee (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942) and William Windon (American, 7194 GRT, built 1943).

The rescue vessel Copeland (British, 1526 GRT, built 1923) was also with the convoy.

On departure from Loch Ewe the convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Inconstant (Lt.Cdr J.H. Eaden, DSC, RN), HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN), HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC, RN), ORP Burza (Cdr. F. Pitulko, ORP), escort destroyer HMS Brissenden (Lt. D.D.E. Vivian, RN), minesweeper HMS Hussar (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Biggs, DSO, DSC, RN) and the corvette HMS Heather (T/Lt. W.L. Turner, RNR).

On 17 November, the destroyer HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, DSC, RN) departed Seidisfjord, Iceland to join the convoy. She was escorting the Russian minesweepers T 116, T 117 and patrol vessels BO 205, BO 207 and BO 212 which were to join the convoy for passage to Northern Russia. [These were the former American minesweepers AM 143 / Arcade, AM 144 / Arch and patrol vessels SC 1287, SC 1074 and SC 721 respectively.]

Later on 17 November the destroyers HMS Onslow (Capt. J.A. McCoy, DSO, RN), HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. H. Unwin, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Orwell (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, DSO, RN), HMCS Iroquois (Cdr. J.C. Hibbard DSC, RCN), HMCS Haida (Cdr. H.G. De Wolf, RCN), HMCS Huron (Lt.Cdr. H.S. Rayner, DSC, RCN) and HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. P. Bekenn, RN) also sailed from Seidisfjord to join the convoy.

On 18 November all ships that had departed Seidisfjord the day before joined the convoy. HMS Termagant, ORP Burza and HMS Brissenden then parted company with the convoy. The British ships proceeded to Seidisfjord arriving on the 19th, ORP Burza set course to return to Loch Ewe also arriving on the 19th.

On 19 November HMS Obedient developed serious rudder defects and she returned to Seidisfjord arriving later the same day.

On 24 November eight of the merchant vessels arrived in the Kola Inlet escorted by HMS Onslow, HMS Onslaught, HMS Obedient, HMS Orwell, HMCS Iroquois, HMCS Haida, HMCS Huron and HMS Impulsive. The five small Russian craft that had been with the convoy arrived in the Kola Inlet on the 25th.

The remaining ships proceeded to Archangelsk escorted by HMS Inconstant, HMS Whitehall, HMS Hussar and HMS Heather. These were later replaced by the minesweeper HMS Seagull (T/A/Lt.Cdr. R.W. Ellis, DSC, RNR), two Russian destroyers and three Russian minesweepers. On the joining of these ships HMS Inconstant, HMS Whitehall and HMS Heather parted company and proceeded to Iokanka. The remainder of the convoy arrived in the Archangelsk area on the 26th.

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Convoy JW 54B

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This convoy departed Loch Ewe on 22 November 1943 for Northern Russia.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Arthur L. Perry (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Daldorch (British, 5571 GRT, built 1930), Empire Lionel (British, 7030 GRT, built 1942), Empire Stalwart (British, 7045 GRT, built 1943), Eugene Field (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Fort Columbia (British, 7155 GRT, built 1942), Fort McMurray (British, 7133 GRT, built 1942), Fort Poplar (American, 7134 GRT, built 1942), Horace Gray (American, 7200 GRT, built 1943), John Fitch (American, 7181 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Strength (British, 7173 GRT, built 1942), San Adolfo (British (tanker), 7365 GRT, built 1935), Thomas Kearns (American, 7194 GRT, built 1943) and William L. Marcy (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942).

The rescue ship Rathlin (British, 1600 GRT, built 1936) was also part of the convoy.

On departure from Loch Ewe the convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Beagle (Lt.Cdr. N.R. Murch, RN), HMS Saladin (T/A/Lt.Cdr. P.G.C. King, RNVR), HMS Skate (Lt. J.C. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), escort destroyer HMS Middleton (Lt. C.S. Battersby, RN), minesweepers HMS Halcyon (T/A/Lt.Cdr. L.J. Martin, RNVR), HMS Speedwell (Lt.Cdr. T.E. Williams, RD, RNR) and the corvettes HMS Poppy (T/Lt. D.R.C. Onslow, RNR) and HMS Rhododendron (T/Lt. O.B. Medley, RNVR).

On 23 November the corvette HMS Dianella (T/Lt. J.F. Tognola, RNR) joined the convoy.

On 25 November the destroyers HMS Saumarez (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN), HMS Savage (Cdr. R.C. Gordon, DSO, RN), HMS Scorpion (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN), HMS Scourge (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN), HNoMS Stord (Lt.Cdr. S.V. Storheill), HMS Hardy (Lt.Cdr. R. Horncastle, RN), HMS Venus (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson DSO, RN) and HMS Vigilant (Lt.Cdr. L.W.L. Argles, RN) departed Seidisfjord, Iceland and joined the convoy. HMS Saladin, HMS Skate, HMS Middleton and HMS Speedwell then parted company and proceeded to Seidisfjord where they arrived on the 26th except for HMS Speedwell which went to Scapa Flow arriving there on the 29th.

On 2 December seven of the merchant vessels detached from the convoy escorted by HMS Saumarez, HMS Savage, HMS Scorpion, HMS Scourge, HNoMS Stord, HMS Hardy, HMS Venus, HMS Vigilant and HMS Halcyon. They proceeded to the Kola Inlet arriving there later the same day.

The other ships continued on to Archangelsk escorted by HMS Beagle, HMS Dianella, HMS Poppy and HMS Rhododendron. They arrived at Archangelsk on 3 December.

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Convoy RA 54B

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This convoy departed Archangelsk on 26 November 1943 for the U.K.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Aritgas (Panamanian, 5613 GRT, built 1920), Atlantic (British, 5414 GRT, built 1939), Bering (American, 7631 GRT, built 1920), Dover Hill (British, 5815 GRT, built 1918), Empire Scott (British, 6150 GRT, built 1941), Llandaff (British, 4825 GRT, built 1927), Marathon (Norwegian, 7208 GRT, built 1930), Norlys (Panamanian (tanker), 9892 GRT, built 1936) and Pieter de Hoogh (Dutch, 7168 GRT, built 1941).

The rescue ship Copeland (British, 1526 GRT, built 1923) was also part of the convoy.

On departure from Archangelsk the convoy was escorted by the minesweepers HMS Hussar, HMS Seagull and the A/S trawler HMS Lord Austin (T/Lt. E.L. Wathen, RNR). Also three Russian minesweepers were with the convoy escort.

On 27 November the destroyers HMS Inconstant, HMS Whitehall, minesweeper HMS Harrier (Cdr. H.E.H. Nicholls, RN) and corvette HMS Heather departed Iokanka and joined the convoy. The three Russian minesweepers were then detached.

On 28 November the destroyers HMS Onslow, HMS Onslaught, HMS Orwell, HMCS Iroquois, HMCS Haida, HMCS Huron and HMS Impulsive departed the Kola Inlet and joined the convoy. HMS Hussar and HMS Seagull were then detached to the Kola Inlet where they arrived the following day.

On 4 December HMCS Iroquois was detached to Seidisfjord to fuel. She arrived there later the same day.

On 5 December the destroyers HMS Saladin, HMS Skate and escort destroyers HMS Middleton and HMS Brissenden departed Seidisfjord to join the convoy which they did later the same day. Also on 5 December, first HMS Onslaught and HMCS Huron detached from the convoy and arrived at Seidisfiord to fuel. Then HMCS Haida and HMS Impulslive detached and arrived Seidisfiord to fuel and finally HMS Onslow and HMS Orwell also arrived Seidisfiord to fuel.

On 8 December the convoy split in two and proceeded to east and west coast harbour with local escorts (trawlers).

HMS Inconstant and HMS Whitehall proceeded to the Clyde arriving on 9 December.

HMS Saladin and HMS Skate proceeded to Londonderry arriving on 9 December.

HMS Heather and HMS Lord Austin proceeded to Liverpool arriving there also on 9 December.

HMS Middelton, HMS Brissenden and HMS Harrier proceeded to Scapa Flow arriving there later on the 8th.

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A close cover force was deployed. This was ' Force 1 ', made up of the heavy cruiser HMS Kent (Capt. G.A.B. Hawkins, DSC, MVO, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral A.F.E. Palliser, CB, DSC, RN) and the light cruisers HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN) and HMS Jamaica (Capt. J.L. Storey, DSO, RN) departed Seidisfjord on 19 November to provide cover for convoy JW 54A between 15°00'E and 41°00'E.

' Force 1 ' arrived in the Kola Inlet on 24 November.

' Force 1 ' departed the Kola Inlet on 27 November to provide cover for convoy JW 54B between 15°00'E and 41°00'E and RA 54B between 41°00'E and 05°00'E.

On 3 December, HMS Jamaica was detached to Hvalfjord where she arrived on 5 December.

On 4 December, HMS Kent and HMS Bermuda arrived at Scapa Flow.

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Also a distant cover force was deployed. This was ' Force 2 ', the battle force, which was made up the battleship HMS Anson (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.R. Moore, KCB, DSO, CVO, RN), heavy cruiser USS Tuscaloosa (Capt. J.B.W. Waller, USN) and the destroyers USS Forrest (T/Cdr. K.P. Letts, USN), USS Fitch (T/Cdr. K.C. Walpole, USN), USS Corry (T/Cdr. L.B. Ensey, USN) and USS Hobson (T/Lt.Cdr. K. Loveland, USN) departed Akureyri on 19 November to cover convoy JW 54A from approximate position 73°00'N, 11°00'E.

On 24 November, while on passage back to Akureyri, USS Tuscaloosa was detached to Hvalfiord where she arriving later on the same day.

HMS Anson arrived at Akureyri also on 24 November escorted by the American destroyers which then went on to Hvalfjord.

On 28 November ' Force 2 ', now made up of the battleship HMS Anson, light cruiser HMS Belfast (Capt. F.R. Parham, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.L. Burnett, CB, DSO, OBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Musketeer (Cdr. R.L. Fisher, OBE, RN), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, DSO, RN), HMS Ashanti (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN) and HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO, RN) departed Akureyri to provide cover for convoy JW 54B and RA 54B from approximate position 73°00'N, 11°00'E.

On 29 November the destroyers had to be detached due to heavy weather as they were unable to keep up without sustaining damage. In fact, HMS Matchless had sustained damage and proceeded to Seidisfjord with defects. The destroyers rejoined on 1 December.

On 4 December ' Force 2 ' arrived at Scapa Flow. HMS Matchless also arrived there on the same day. (24)

30 Dec 1943
HrMs O 10 (Lt.Cdr. A. van Altena, RNN(R)) participated in A/S exercises off Lough Foyle together with HMS Skate (Lt. J.C. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), HMS Saladin (T/A/Lt.Cdr. P.G.C. King, RNVR), HMS Chelsea (Lt.Cdr. J.E.R. Wilford, RNR) and HMS Burdock (T/Lt. F.R.M. Greasley, RNR). (25)

6 Jun 1944
HMS Skate (Lt. J. H. Macalister, RNVR picked up the crew of a C-47 from the 435th Troop Carrier Group, the airplane was hit by German anti-aircraft fire over Normandy and ditched in the Channel. (26)

12 Sep 1944
Around 1545B/12, HMS Rodney (Capt. R.O. Fitzroy, RN), departed Plymouth for Scapa Flow. She is being escorted by the destroyers HMS Skate (Lt. J.H. Macalister, RNVR), HMS Scimitar (Lt. P. Archer-Shee, RNVR) and HMS Saladin (T/A/Lt.Cdr. P.G.C. King, RNVR).

At 0740B/13, the escort was relieved by the frigates HMS Fitzroy (A/Lt.Cdr. A.J. McCullogh Miller, DSC, RNVR), HMS Redmill (Lt. J.R.A. Denne, RN) and HMS Deane (Lt. V.A. Hickson, DSO, RN).

HMS Rodney arrived at Scapa Flow around 1445B/14. Before entering gunnery exercises had been carried out. (27)

22 Sep 1944
HMS Malaya (Cdr. D.H. Fuller, RN) departed Plymouth for Rosyth. She was being escorted by HMS Hart (Cdr. (retired) M.B. Sherwood, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Lark (Cdr. H.L. Pryse, DSC, RNR) and HMS Skate (Lt. J.H. Macalister, RNVR).

At 1145/22 they were joined by HMS Affleck (Cdr.(Retd.) C. Gwinner, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN), HMS Garlies (Lt.Cdr. R.L. Calpe, DSC, RN) and HMS Gore (Lt. J.V. Reeves-Brown, DSC, RN).

At 1325/24, HMS Cassandra (Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) and HMS Cambrian (Lt.Cdr. H.T. Harrel, RN) took over from HMS Hart and HMS Lark. [The other escorts apparently had been detached by this time.]

At 1650/24, Verdun (Cdr. D. Parsons, RD, RNR) and HMS Vega (Lt. C.G. Forsberg, RN) took over from HMS Cassandra and HMS Cambrian.

Around 0945/25, HMS Malaya arrived off Rosyth. (28)

Media links


British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

Sources

  1. ADM 173/15802
  2. ADM 173/16184
  3. ADM 173/15760
  4. ADM 53/112148 + ADM 53/113123
  5. ADM 173/16780
  6. File 2.12.03.6376 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  7. ADM 173/16783
  8. ADM 173/16742
  9. ADM 173/16795
  10. ADM 173/16766
  11. ADM 199/1211
  12. ADM 173/17790
  13. ADM 173/18388
  14. ADM 173/18216
  15. ADM 173/17997
  16. ADM 173/17866
  17. ADM 173/18013
  18. ADM 173/18348
  19. ADM 173/18132
  20. ADM 173/1013
  21. ADM 173/17787
  22. ADM 53/117885
  23. ADM 173/18020
  24. ADM 199/632
  25. File 2.12.03.6384 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  26. Personal communication
  27. ADM 53/120414
  28. ADM 53/119848

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.


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