Allied Warships

HMS Wakeful (i) (H 88)

Destroyer of the Admiralty V & W class

NavyThe Royal Navy
ClassAdmiralty V & W 
PennantH 88 
Built byJohn Brown Shipbuilding & Engineering Company Ltd. (Clydebank, Scotland) 
Ordered9 Dec 1916 
Laid down17 Jan 1917 
Launched6 Oct 1917 
Commissioned16 Nov 1917 
Lost29 May 1940 
Loss position51° 22'N, 2° 43'E

On 29 May 1940 HMS Wakeful (Cdr. Ralph Lindsay Fisher, RN) was torpedoed and sunk by German motor torpedo boat S-30 while participating in the evacuation of French, English, and Belgian troops off Dunkirk.
The wreck lies in position 51º22'44"N, 02º43'22"E.


Commands listed for HMS Wakeful (i) (H 88)

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1Cdr. Robert St. Vincent Sherbrooke, RN31 Jul 193918 Dec 1939
2Lt.Cdr. Ralph Lindsay Fisher, RN18 Dec 193929 May 1940

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Notable events involving Wakeful (i) include:

5 Sep 1939
A convoy of eleven passenger liners departed the U.K. for destinations in the Atlantic or Mediterranean (or Far East via the Mediterranean).

The convoy was assembled off the Clyde and was made up of the passenger liners / merchant vessels; Britannic (British, 26943 GRT, built 1930), Clan Ferguson (British, 7347 GRT, built 1938), Duchess of Bedford (British, 20123 GRT, built 1928), Durban Castle (British, 17388 GRT, built 1938), Montcalm (British, 16418 GRT, built 1921), Orcades (British, 23456 GRT, built 1937), Orford (British, 19941 GRT, built 1928), Orion (British, 23371 GRT, built 1935), Reina del Pacifico (British, 17702 GRT, built 1931), Scythia (British, 19761 GRT, built 1920) and Strathaird (British, 22281 GRT, built 1932).

On assembly the convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Vivacious (Cdr. C.R.L. Parry, RN), HMS Vanessa (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Plumer, RN), HMS Vanquisher (Lt.Cdr. K.H. Fraser, RN), HMS Wakeful (Cdr. R.St.V. Sherbrooke, RN) as well as HMS Verity (Lt.Cdr. A.R.M. Black, RN), HMS Volunteer (Lt.Cdr. H. Gartside-Tippinge, RN), HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. G.C. Fryer, RN) and HMS Wolverine (Cdr. R.C. Gordon, RN).

Arond 2300A/5, the battleship HMS Ramillies (Capt. H.T. Baillie-Grohman, OBE, DSO, RN) departed Portland escorted by the destroyers HMS Exmouth (Cdr. R.S. Benson, RN) and HMS Escapade (Cdr. H.R. Graham, RN). They were joined around 0530A/6 by the destroyers HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Woodhall, RN) and HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) which had come from Plymouth.

Around 1845A/6, HMS Ramillies and her four escorting destroyers joined the convoy after which HMS Vivacious, HMS Vanessa, HMS Witherington and HMS Wolverine parted company. After conducting an A/S sweep astern of the convoy they proceeded to Plymouth where they arrived around noon on the 7th.

Around 1100A/8, HMS Verity, HMS Volunteer, HMS Witherington and HMS Wolverine parted company with the convoy to proceed to Milford Haven where they arrived in the morning of September 10th.

Late in the morning of September 10th, the French destroyers Le Fortune (Cdr. C.M.L. D'Hespel), La Railleuse (Lt.Cdr. J.E.C. Hourcade) and Simoun (Lt.Cdr. F. Hainguerlot) which had departed Gibraltar around 0810A/9, joined the convoy.

Around 1850A/10, the French destroyer Simoun was sent to Gibraltar with despatches. She arrived there around 0710A/11.

Around noon on the 11th, off Gibraltar, the British light cruiser HMS Galatea (Capt. E.G.H. Bellars, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.C. Tovey, CB, DSO, RN) and the French destroyers Tramontaine (Cdr. R.M.J.A. Renault), Tornade (Lt.Cdr. R.G.A. Labat) and Typhon (Lt.Cdr. Y.M.J. Le Hagre).

HMS Ramillies, and the French destroyers Le Fortune and La Railleuse then proceeded to Gibraltar as did the liner Scythia. Apparently the French destroyers, including Simoun, later proceeded again to rejoin the convoy.

HMS Exmouth, HMS Eclipse, HMS Encounter and HMS Escapade most likely detached from the convoy on 12 September as they arrived at Gibraltar on the 14th via Oran.

The French destroyers were relieved near Malta on 14 September 1939 by the destroyers HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.R. Marshall-A'Deane, RN) and HMS Glowworm (Lt.Cdr. G.B. Roope, RN). Also a French convoy (L 2), made up of the merchant vessels Sphinx (French, 11375 GRT, built 1915) and Ville de Strasbourg (French, 7007 GRT, built 1920), which had departed Marseilles on 12 September, joined the convoy for onward passage to Beirut. This French convoy had probably been escorted by the destroyers Maille Breze (Cdr. H.M.E.A. Glotin), Cassard (Cdr. R.A.A. Braxmeyer) and Kersaint (Cdr. G.R.J. Rebuffel) which apparently also joined the convoy. The Durban Castle also detached off Malta at 1000B/14 and entered Valetta.

Around 1600B/15 the Clan Ferguson parted company. She was carrying important stores for Istanbul, Turkey. She was escorted by the destroyer HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN).

At 0700B/16, the Britannic, Duchess of Bedford, Montcalm, Reina del Pacifico and Strathaird were detached to Port Said.

the Orcades, Orford and Orion arrived at Alexandria in the evening of the 16th. HMS Galatea did not enter but went to the west to make rendezvous with the destroyers HMS Griffin and HMS Garland of which the former was towing the later after she had been damaged by her own depth charges.

26 Nov 1939

Convoy HX 10.

This convoy departed Halifax on 26 November 1939 and the bulk of the convoy arrived at Liverpool on 10 December 1939.

The convoy was made up of the following ships; Alexia (British (tanker), 8016 GRT, built 1935), Anthea (British, 5186 GRT, built 1924), Ary Lensen (British, 3214 GRT, built 1930), Birchbank (British, 5151 GRT, built 1924), Blairclova (British, 5083 GRT, built 1938), British Workman (British (tanker), 6994 GRT, built 1922), C.O. Stillman (Panamanian, 13006 GRT, built 1928), Caroni River (British, 7807 GRT, built 1928), Cefn-Y-Bryn (British, 5164 GRT, built 1939), Cliona (British (tanker), 8375 GRT, built 1931), Dalemoor (British, 5835 GRT, built 1922), Esmond (British, 4976 GRT, built 1930), Gemstone (British, 4986 GRT, built 1938), Generton (British, 4797 GRT, built 1936), Gold Shell (British (tanker), 8208 GRT, built 1931), King William (British, 5274 GRT, built 1928), Lerwick (British, 5626 GRT, built 1938), Lunula (British (tanker), 6363 GRT, built 1927), Maimoa (British, 10123 GRT, built 1920), Middleton (British, 4297 GRT, built 1935), Nailsea Lass (British, 4289 GRT, built 1917), New York City (British, 2710 GRT, built 1917), Newton Moore (British, 5673 GRT, built 1937), Pacific President (British, 7113 GRT, built 1928), Pacific Shipper (British, 6290 GRT, built 1924), Rothley (British, 4996 GRT, built 1936), San Gaspar (British (tanker), 12910 GRT, built 1921), Scottish Chief (British, 7006 GRT, built 1928), Stagpool (British, 4560 GRT, built 1930), Stanburn (British, 2881 GRT, built 1924), Statira (British, 4852 GRT, built 1937), Vancolite (British (tanker), 11404 GRT, built 1928) and Victor Ross (British (tanker), 12247 GRT, built 1933).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the heavy cruiser HMS York (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) and the destroyers Assiniboine (Cdr. E. Mainguy, RCN) and HMCS Skeena (Cdr. H.T.W. Grant, RCN).

At 0800/28, HMCS Assiniboine and HMCS Skeena parted company with the convoy and set course to return to Halifax.

HMS York parted company with the convoy at 0920/8 shortly after the destroyers HMS Wakeful (Cdr. R.St.V. Sherbrooke, RN), HMS Whirlwind (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Rodgers, RN), HMS Winchelsea (Cdr. C.T. Jellicoe, RN) and the sloop HMS Aberdeen (Cdr. H.P. Currey, RN) had joined the convoy.

19 Feb 1940
HMS H 32 (Lt. M.D. Wanklyn, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Portland with HMS Wakeful (Cdr. R.L. Fisher, RN) and HMS Wild Swan (Lt.Cdr. J.L. Younghusband, DSC, RN). (1)

4 Mar 1940
Shortly after 1900 hours, HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN), attacked a submarine contact in position off Trevose Head in 50°31'N, 05°24'W. This was later thought to be a wreck.

Later the same evening they were ordered to search for another uboat, together with HMS Wakeful (Cdr. R.L. Fisher, RN), that had been reported near the Scillies. (2)

5 Mar 1940
Shortly after noon this day, HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN) and HMS Wakeful (Cdr. R.L. Fisher, RN) were ordered to search for a uboat that had been reported off St. Ives Head. Wakeful was sent ahead as both 'K'-class destroyers could only make 15 knots due to their damaged hulls. (2)

2 Apr 1940

Convoy HX 32.

This convoy departed Halifax on 2 April 1940 for Liverpool where it arrived on 17 April.

Some of the merchant vessels had other destinations though.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Antonios Chandris (Greek, 5866 GRT, built 1918), Athellaird (British (tanker), 8999 GRT, built 1930), Balmoralwood (British, 5834 GRT, built 1937), Beaconhill (Panamanian (tanker), 6941 GRT, built 1919), Benwyvis (British, 5920 GRT, built 1929), British Chancellor (British (tanker), 7085 GRT, built 1921), British Honour (British (tanker), 6991 GRT, built 1928), British Prince (British, 4879 GRT, built 1935), Capsa (British (tanker), 8229 GRT, built 1931), Carslogie (British, 3786 GRT, built 1924), Defacto (British, 4800 GRT, built 1919), Eclipse (British (tanker), 9767 GRT, built 1931), Esmond (British, 4976 GRT, built 1930), Gitano (British, 3956 GRT, built 1921), Hopecrown (British, 5180 GRT, built 1937), King William (British, 5274 GRT, built 1928), Kingswood (British, 5080 GRT, built 1929), Leontios Teryazos (Greek, 4479 GRT, built 1911), Lochmonar (British, 9412 GRT, built 1924), Minnie de Larringa (British, 5049 GRT, built 1914), Octavian (Norwegian, 1345 GRT, built 1938), Parthenia (British, 4872 GRT, built 1917), Port Hunter (British, 10735 GRT, built 1922), Queen Maud (British, 4976 GRT, built 1936), Rugeley (British, 4985 GRT, built 1936), San Alvaro (British (tanker), 7385 GRT, built 1935), Star of Alexandria (British, 4329 GRT, built 1928), Thistlegarth (British, 4747 GRT, built 1929), Weirbank (British, 5150 GRT, built 1925) and Wellington Court (British, 4979 GRT, built 1930).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. I.B.B. Tower, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMCS Restigouche (Lt.Cdr. H.N. Lay, RCN), HMCS St. Laurent (Lt.Cdr. H.G. de Wolf, RCN) and HMCS Saguenay (Cdr. G.R. Miles, RCN).

The Canadian destroyers parted company with the convoy on 3 April and then returned to Halifax.

The convoy was joined by the destoyer HMS Vanquisher (Lt.Cdr. C.B. Alers-Hankey, RN) on 13 April 1940 and HMS Versatile (Cdr.(Retd.) T.A. Hussey, RN) and HMS Wild Swan (Lt.Cdr. J.L. Younghusband, DSC, RN) on 14 April 1940.

HMS Malaya parted company with the convoy on 14 April 1940 after she had been joined by the destroyers HMS Wakeful (Cdr. R.L. Fisher, RN) and HMS Whitshed (Cdr. E.R. Conder, RN). They proceeded to Plymouth arriving there on 15 April 1940.

HMS Vanquisher parted company with the convoy on 15 April 1940 and HMS Versatile on 16 April 1940.

HMS Wild Swan remained with the convoy until it arrived at Liverpool.

15 Apr 1940
HMS Malaya (Capt. I.B.B. Tower, DSC, RN), HMS Wakeful (Cdr. R.L. Fisher, RN) and HMS Whitshed (Cdr. E.R. Conder, RN) arrived at Plymouth. (3)

Media links

British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman

Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.


  1. ADM 173/16283
  2. ADM 199/371
  3. ADM 53/112652

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

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