HMS Vesper (D 55)
Destroyer of the Admiralty V & W class
|Navy||The Royal Navy|
|Class||Admiralty V & W|
|Mod||Long range escort|
|Built by||A. Stephen & Sons Ltd. (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Ordered||30 Jun 1916|
|Laid down||27 Dec 1916|
|Launched||15 Dec 1917|
|Commissioned||20 Feb 1918|
Reconstruction to Long Range Escort finished in September 1943.
HMS Vesper is not listed as active unit in the July 1945 Navy list
Sold to be broken up for scrap on 4 March 1947.
Commands listed for HMS Vesper (D 55)
Please note that we're still working on this section.
|1||Lt.Cdr. William Frederick Eyre Hussey, RN||31 Jul 1939||24 Feb 1941|
|2||Lt. Peter William Furneaux Stubbs, RN||24 Feb 1941||14 May 1942|
|3||Lt. Douglas Henry Reid Bromley, RN||14 May 1942||early 1943|
|4||Lt.Cdr. John Malcolm Rodgers, RN||8 May 1943||1 Apr 1944|
|5||Lt.Cdr. Vernon Dudley Ravenscroft, RN||1 Apr 1944||mid 1945|
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Notable events involving Vesper include:
7 Oct 1939
Convoy SL 4.
This convoy departed Freetown on 7 October 1939 and arrived in U.K. waters on 26 October 1939 though some of the merchant vessels had been detached in the Bay of Biscay to proceed to French ports.
The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Burdwan (British, 6069 GRT, built 1928), Clan Farquhar (British, 7958 GRT, built 1918), Clan MacNeil (British, 6111 GRT, built 1922), Godfrey B. Holt (British, 3585 GRT, built 1929), Groix (British, 9975 GRT, built 1922), Hardwicke Grange (British, 9005 GRT, built 1921), Lafian (British, 4876 GRT, built 1937), Lagosian (British, 5412 GRT, built 1930), Marcella (British, 4592 GRT, built 1928), Myrmidon (British, 6278 GRT, built 1930), Myrtlebank (British, 5150 GRT, built 1925), Natia (British, 8715 GRT, built 1920), Oakdene (British, 4255 GRT, built 1935), Rodney Star (British, 11803 GRT, built 1927), Sangara (British, 4174 GRT, built 1939), Settler (British, 6202 GRT, built 1939), Shillong (British, 5529 GRT, built 1939), Takoradian (British, 5452 GRT, built 1937) and Welsh Trader (British, 4974 GRT, built 1938).
On departure from Freetown the convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Neptune (Capt. J.A.V. Morse, DSO, RN). She was detached from the convoy around 1920A/10 in approximate position 15°20'N, 19°54'E.
Around 0900A/23 the destroyers HMS Mackay (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, RN) and HMS Vimy (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN) joined the convoy. The destroyers HMS Venetia (Cdr. G.R. Pilcher, RN) and HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN) had joined the convoy about an hour earlier in approximate position 47°45'N, 13°30'W.
Around 0830A/24 the convoy split into an east coast section which proceeded towards the Irish Sea escorted by HMS Mackay and HMS Vimy. The west coast section proceeded towards the Channel escorted by HMS Venetia and HMS Vesper.
Around 0730A/25, HMS Venetia and HMS Vesper were relieved by the destroyer HMS Wivern (Lt.Cdr. W. Evershed, RN). (1)
7 Oct 1939
The aircraft carrier HMS Hermes (Capt. F.E.P. Hutton, RN) departed Plymouth for the Brest area to make rendezvous with French warships and then on to Dakar. On departure from Plymouth HMS Hermes was escorted by the destroyers HMS Keith (Cdr.(Retd.) H.T.W. Pawsey, OBE, RN) and HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN).
Around 1915A/7, HMS Hermes anchored off Brest. The destroyers then returned to Plymouth.
Around 2115A/7, HMS Hermes got underway again to proceed to the Dakar area in company with French warships. These were the battlecruiser Strasbourg (Capt. J.F.E. Bouxin) and the destroyers Le Fantasque (Capt. P.A.B. Still), Le Terrible (Cdr. A.E.R. Bonneau) and L’Audacieux (Cdr. L.M. Clatin).
Around 1430A/10, the heavy cruisers Algerie (Capt. L.H.M. Nouvel de la Fleche) and Dupleix (Capt. L.L.M. Hameury) and the destroyers Maille Breze (Cdr. H.M.E.A. Glotin) and Vauquelin (Cdr. R. Jaujard) joined.
The Force arrived at Dakar on 14 October 1939. (2)
27 Dec 1939
Convoy SLF 14.
This convoy departed Freetown on 27 December 1939.
It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Accra (British, 9337 GRT, built 1926), Cambridge (British, 11373 GRT, built 1914), City of Brisbane (British, 8006 GRT, built 1920), Clan Mackinlay (British, 6365 GRT, built 1918), Corinaldo (British, 7131 GRT, built 1921), Port Caroline (British, 8263 GRT, built 1919), Port Wellington (British, 10065 GRT, built 1924) and Seaforth (British, 5459 GRT, built 1939).
On departure from Freetown the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Carnarvon Castle (Capt.(Retd.) G.B. Lewis, RN).
Around 1615N/1, the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes (Capt. F.E.P. Hutton, RN) joined the convoy.
Around 0800Z/8, the destroyers HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN), HMS Viscount (Lt.Cdr. M.S. Townsend, RN), HMS Windsor (Lt.Cdr. P.D.H.R. Pelly, RN) and HMS Acasta (Cdr. C.E. Glasfurd, RN) joined the convoy.
Around 0900Z/8, HMS Carnarvon Castle parted company with the convoy to return to Freetown.
Around 1530Z/8, the convoy split into two sections and shortly afterwards HMS Hermes parted company with the convoy to proceed to Plymouth escorted by HMS Windsor and HMS Acasta.
6 Feb 1940
HMS Exeter (Capt. F.S. Bell, CB, RN), and her escorts, HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN), HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Dainty (Cdr. M.S. Thomas, RN) and HMS Diamond (Lt.Cdr. P.A. Cartwright, RN) departed Freetown for Plymouth.
HMS Ark Royal and the destroyers parted company around 1800/9. Ark Royal was to proceed direct to the U.K. while the destroyers were to arrive at Dakar at 0900 (GMT) on the 11th.
In the morning of the 14th the destroyers HMS Whitshed (Cdr. E.R. Conder, RN), HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN) and HMS Acasta (Cdr. C.E. Glasfurd, RN) joined. This was before the other destroyers (see below) joined.
Around 1030/14 four more destroyers joined, HMS Hearty (Lt.Cdr. D.G.F.W. MacIntyre, RN), HMS Ardent (Lt.Cdr. J.F. Barker, RN), HMS Wren (Cdr. H.T. Armstrong, RN) and HMS Wolverine (Cdr. R.H. Craske, RN).
Around 1645/14, HMS Whitshed, HMS Vesper and HMS Acasta parted company when the merchant vessel Sultan Star was torpedoed and sunk on the horizon.
HMS Hero was detached, most likely on the 15th to Portsmouth where she was to refit.
HMS Renown, HMS Exeter, HMS Hasty, HMS Ardent, HMS Hearty, HMS Wren and HMS Wolverine arrived at Plymouth on the 15th. (3)
14 Feb 1940
HMS Whitshed (Cdr E.R. Conder, RN) and HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN) together pick up 72 survivors from the British merchant Sultan Star that was torpedoed and sunk southwest of the Scilly Isles in position 48°54'N, 10°03'W by German U-boat U-48.
4 Mar 1940
After repairs to her after hydroplanes and a period of trials and training in Loch Long, HMS Tetrarch (Lt.Cdr. R.G. Mills, RN) departed Greenock for Portsmouth. She is escorted by HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN). (4)
1 Jul 1940
HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. W.E.F. Hussey, DSC, RN) and HMS Windsor (Cdr. P.D.H.R. Pelly, RN) together pick up 111 survivors from the British merchant Beignon that was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-30 about 300 nautical miles west of Ushant in position 47°20'N, 10°30'W.
8 Sep 1940
Around 2130A/8, the light cruisers HMS Galatea (Capt. B.B. Schofield, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.T.B. Curteis, CB, RN) and HMS Aurora (Capt. L.H.K. Hamilton, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Campbell (Capt. C.R.L. Parry, RN), HMS Venetia (Lt.Cdr. D.L.C. Craig, RN), HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. W.E.F. Hussey, DSC, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Garth (Lt.Cdr. E.H. Dyke, RN), HMS Hambledon (Cdr. S.H. Carlill, RN) and HMS Holderness (Lt.Cdr. D.E. Holland-Martin, DSC, RN) departed Sheerness to bombard enemy shipping concentrations at Calais and Boulogne.
HMS Galatea with HMS Campbell, HMS Vesper and HMS Garth were to bombard Calais while HMS Aurora, HMS Venetia, HMS Hambledon and HMS Holderness bombarded Boulogne.
Between 0225A/9 and 0245A/9, British aircraft dropped flares over both ports. No shipping was however found to be present in Calais Roads so HMS Galatea and her escorts did not conduct a bombardment. HMS Aurora and her escorts however did bombarded the Boulogne harbour area.
They returned to Sheerness around 0700A/9. HMS Galatea had detonated a mine around 0525A/9 and was again damaged [see 1 September] damage was again minor. As Galatea was due for refit it was decided not to undertake repairs. HMS Galatea was to commence refit and repairs at the Chatham Dockyard upon completion of the refit of HMS Arethusa. For the moment HMS Galatea remained at Sheerness.
During the same night the destroyers HMS Beagle (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Wright, RN), HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. F.J.G. Hewitt, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Atherstone (Cdr. H.W.S. Browning, RN), HMS Berkeley (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Walters, RN) and HMS Fernie (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, RN) departed Portsmouth to conducted a sweep along the French coast just south of Boulogne up to Cape Antifer (near Le Havre). On completion of the sweep they returned to Portsmouth. (5)
1 Nov 1940
With her short refit completed, HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Portsmouth for Greenock.
At sea she might have been joined by the destroyers HMS Venomous (Lt.Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, RN), HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN) and HMS Windsor (Lt.Cdr. G.P. Huddart, RN) which had departed Sheerness also on 1 November.
[All these ships were to arrive at Greenock on 3 November so it seems likely they joined company off Portsmouth although there is no confirmation of this in the logbook of HMS Despatch.] (6)
3 Nov 1940
The light cruiser HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) and the the destroyers HMS Venomous (Lt.Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, RN), HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN) and HMS Windsor (Lt.Cdr. G.P. Huddart, RN) all arrived at Greenock from Portsmouth / Sheerness. (6)
5 Nov 1940
Hunt for the German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer after the attack on convoy HX 84.
Timespan: 5 October to 23 October 1940.
In response to the attack on convoy HX 84 by the German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer the Admiralty acted quickly.
The battlecruisers HMS Hood (Capt. I.G. Glennie, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Repulse (Capt. W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), light cruisers HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN), HMS Bonaventure (Capt. H.J. Egerton, RN) and the destroyers HMS Somali (Capt. C. Caslon, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. St. J.A. Micklethwait, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Mashona (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Matabele (Cdr. R.St.V. Sherbrooke, DSO, RN), HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN) and HMS Electra (Lt.Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN) departed Scapa Flow at 2330/5 to proceed to the last reported position of the German pocket battleship 52°50'N, 32°15'W at 2003/5.
At 1050/6 the force split up; HMS Hood, HMS Naiad, HMS Phoebe, HMS Somali, HMS Eskimo and HMS Punjabi proceeded to patrol off the Bay of Biscay to cover the approaches to Brest and Lorient.
HMS Repulse, HMS Bonaventure, HMS Mashona, HMS Matabele and HMS Electra towards the Admiral Scheer's last known position.
At 0700/6 the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN, flying the flag of Admiral of the Fleet C.M. Forbes, GCB, DSO, RN) and HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN), light cruiser HMS Southampton (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN) and the destroyers HMS Cossack (Capt. P.L. Vian, DSO, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr. H.T. Armstrong, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN), HMS Douglas (Cdr.(Retd.) J.G. Crossley, RN), HMS Keppel (Lt. R.J. Hanson, RN) and HMS Vimy (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN) departed Scapa Flow to cover the patrols in the Iceland-Faroes Channel.
Shortly before midnight during the night of 6/7 November HMS Rodney was detached to escort to escort convoy HX 83 and once this convoy was safe, HX 85 from Halifax.
Three armed merchant cruisers, which were on patrol were recalled to port on the 8th. These were HMS Chitral (Capt.(Retd.) G. Hamilton, RN), which was to the northwest of Iceland and HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, RAN) and HMS Worcestershire (A/Capt. J. Creswell, RN), which were to the south of Iceland. The light cruiser HMS Southampton was ordered to take over the place of HMS Chitral. She split off from HMS Nelson at 1600/8. HMS Worcestershire joined HMS Nelson and her escorting destroyers around 1500/9.
There were also the destroyers HMS Churchill (Cdr.(Retd.) G.R. Cousins, RN), HMS Lewes (Lt.Cdr. J.N.K. Knight, RN), HMS Lincoln (Cdr. A.M. Sheffield, RN) and HMS Ludlow (Cdr. G.B. Sayer, RN). They were en-route to the U.K. and had departed Halifax on 31 October and refuelled at St. Johns on 3 November. After receiving distress signals from ships in convoy HX 84 they rushed to the reported location. The only thing they found was an empty lifeboat. They then continued their Atlantic crossing and arrived at Londonderry on 9 November.
The destroyer HMS Stanley (A/Lt.Cdr. R.B. Stannard, VC, RNR) had departed Halifax on 1 November and St. Johns on 5 November. Now she and the Canadian destroyer HMCS St.Francis (Lt.Cdr. H.F. Pullen, RCN) escorted convoy HX 85, which had been recalled, back to Nova Scotia.
On 8 November, after machinery defects had been repaired, the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia (Capt. R.R. Stewart, RN) departed the Clyde to protect convoys.
The battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt C.E.B. Simeon, RN) and the destroyers HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN) and HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN) departed Gibraltar at 0500/6 to provide cover for convoys HG 46 and SL 53.
At 1225/6, off Cape St Vincent, the submarine HMS Utmost (Lt. J.H. Eaden, DSC, RN) was identified as enemy by HMS Encounter which then rammed the submarine which was en-route to Gibraltar. HMS Encounter was escorted to Gibraltar by HMS Forester. They arrived at 0800/7.
On 11 November, HMAS Australia relieved Renown from covering convoy HG 46 and Renown arrived back at Gibraltar around 1515/12. Renown had been joined at 0807/12 by the destroyers HMS Duncan (Cdr. A.D.B. James, RN) and HMS Forester.
Aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Verity (Cdr. R.H. Mills, RN), HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN) and HMS Windsor (Lt.Cdr. G.P. Huddart, RN) departed the Clyde on 7 November for Gibraltar and were also ordered to keep a look out for the German pocket battleship. The destroyers were later detached; HMS Windsor around 0100/9 and HMS Verity and HMS Vesper around 0600/9. HMS Despatch was detached at 1000/13 and proceeded to Gibraltar where she arrived around noon the next day. Shortly before HMS Despatch was detached the destroyers HMS Wishart (Cdr. E.T. Cooper, RN) and HMS Wrestler (Lt. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) had joined followed later in the day by HMS Vidette (Lt. E.N. Walmsley, RN). HMS Argus, HMS Vidette, HMS Wishart and HMS Wrestler arrived at Gibraltar very late on the 14th.
Battlecruiser HMS Repulse escorted by the destroyers HMS Matabele and HMS Electra arrived at Scapa Flow for refuelling around 1100/11.
Light cruiser HMS Bonaventure and destroyer HMS Mashona arrived at Scapa Flow around 1130/11 for refuelling.
Battlecruiser HMS Hood, light cruisers HMS Naiad, HMS Phoebe and the destroyers HMS Somali, HMS Eskimo and HMS Punjabi returned to Scapa Flow around 1400/11 for refuelling. HMS Eskimo had suffered weather damage to her asdic dome and had some forecastle deck plates buckled. She was docked for repairs in the floating drydock at Scapa Flow from 13 to 16 November.
After fuelling HMS Bonaventure departed Scapa Flow at 2300/11 to continue to search for survivors from convoy HX 84. Armed merchant cruiser HMS Chitral was also back at sea to search for survivors. She had departed from Reykjavik, Iceland around 2330/10.
HMS Bonaventure returned to Scapa Flow on the 19th with weather damage.
The armed merchant cruiser HMS Letitia (A/Capt. E.H. Longsdon, RN) departed the Clyde around 1300/11 for the Northern Patrol.
HMS Repulse, HMS Naiad departed Scapa Flow around 1330/12 for patrol and also to provide cover for ships of the Northern Patrol. They were escorted by the destoyers HMS Sikh (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, RN), HMS Mashona, HMS Matabele and HMS Punjabi.
HMS Naiad parted company on the 13th to proceed to Jan Mayen Island where a German weather / wireless station in Jameson Bay was to be raided.
HMS Repulse returned to Scapa Flow at 0015/19 being escorted by the destroyers HMS Ashanti (Cdr. W.G. Davis, RN), HMS Mashona and HMS Matabele. They had provided cover for HMS Naiad during her raid on Jan Mayen Island.
Battleship HMS Rodney arrived at Scapa Flow around 1500/23rd. She had been joined at dawn the previous day by the destroyers HMS Beagle, HMS Brilliant, HMS Bulldog and HMS Electra. (7)
6 Nov 1940
HMS H 50 (Lt. G.V. Prowse, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Campbeltown with HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN), HMS Venomous (Lt.Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, RN) and HMS Windsor (Lt.Cdr. G.P. Huddart, RN). (8)
18 Dec 1940
Convoy WS 5A and the attack by the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper
This convoy departed U.K. ports on 18/19 December 1940. Destination for the majority of the convoy was Suez where the convoy arrived on 16 February 1941.
On 17 December 1940 the transport Rangitiki (British, 16698 GRT, built 1929) departed Avonmouth. She was escorted by HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) towards the rendez-vous position.
On 18 December 1940 the following troop transports / transports departed Liverpool, they formed WS 5A slow; Anselm (British, 5954 GRT, built 1935), Atreus (British, 6547 GRT, built 1911), Bhutan (British, 6104 GRT, built 1929), City of Canterbury (British, 8331 GRT, built 1922), City of London (British, 8956 GRT, built 1907), Delane (British, 6054 GRT, built 1938), Elizabethville (Belgian, 8351 GRT, built 1922), Menelaus (British, 10307 GRT, built 1923), Orbita (British, 15495 GRT, built 1915), Settler (British, 6202 GRT, built 1939) and Tamaroa (British, 12405 GRT, built 1922). They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN), HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN), sloop HMS Wellington (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, RN) and the corvettes HMS Clematis (Cdr. Y.M. Cleeves, DSO, DSC, RD, RNR), HMS Jonquil (Lt.Cdr. R.E.H. Partington, RNR), HMS Cyclamen (Lt. H.N. Lawson, RNR) and HMS Geranium (T/Lt. A. Foxall, RNR).
On 18 December 1940 the following troop transports / transports departed from the Clyde; Costa Rica (Dutch, 8055 GRT, built 1910), Ernebank (British, 5388 GRT, built 1937), Leopoldville (Belgian, 11509 GRT, built 1929) and Neuralia (British, 9182 GRT, built 1912). Ernebank was however forced to return around 1800 hours on the 21st escorted by HMS Witch and HMS St. Mary’s. On the 22nd, HMS Wellington, was detached to take over the escort of the Ernebank. They were escorted by the anti-aircraft cruiser HMS Cairo (Capt. P.V. McLaughlin, RN) and the destroyers HMS Bath (Cdr.(Retd.) A.V. Hemming, RN), HMS St. Marys (Lt. K.H.J.L. Phibbs, RN), HMS St. Albans (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) S.G.C. Rawson, RN), HMS Worcester (Lt.Cdr. E.C. Coats, RN).
On 18 December 1940 the following troop transports / transports departed from Lough Foyle (Belfast); City of Derby (British, 6616 GRT, built 1921) and Stentor (British, 6148 GRT, built 1926). They were escorted by the destroyer HMS Venomous (Lt.Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, RN).
The slow part of the convoy was met around dawn on the 19th by the light cruiser HMS Bonaventure (Capt. H.G. Egerton, RN) and the destroyers HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN), HMS Harvester (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, RN) and HMS Highlander (Cdr. W.A. Dallmeyer, RN).
Around 2300/21 all destroyers parted company with the slow part of the convoy.
On 19 December 1940 the following troop transports / transports departed Liverpool, they formed WS 5A fast; Clan MacDonald (British, 9653 GRT, built 1939), Essex (British, 13655 GRT, built 1936) and Northern Prince (British, 10917 GRT, built 1929).
On 19 December 1940 the following troop transports / transports departed from the Clyde; Adviser (British, 6348 GRT, built 1939), Arabistan (British, 5874 GRT, built 1929), Barrister (British, 6348 GRT, built 1939), Benrinnes (5410 GRT, built 1921), Clan Cumming (British, 7264 GRT, built 1938), Empire Song (British, 9228 GRT, built 1940) and Empire Trooper (British, 14106 GRT, built 1922).
Escort for the fast section of convoy WS 5A joined around dawn on the 20th and was provided by the aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RNRN), destroyers HMCS Ottawa (Cdr. E.R. Mainguy, RCN), HMCS St. Laurent (Lt. H.S. Rayner, RCN) and Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski) which came from the Clyde. And also by the destroyers HMS Highlander, HMS Harvester and FSS Le Triomphant (Cdr. P.M.J.R. Auboyneau) which came from Londonderry. The first two of these destroyers had fuelled there after escorting the slow part of the convoy for a while. Also the aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN) (with fighters embarked for Takoradi) and the destroyers HMS Beverley (Cdr.(Retd.) E.F. Fitzgerald, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling joined from Liverpool.
The destroyers of the fast portion of the convoy were detached during the night of 21/22 December 1940.
At dawn on 23 December 1940 the slow and fast part of the convoy made rendez-vous and proceeded in company.
On the 24th, HMS Naiad parted company to return to the U.K. The heavy cruiser HMS Berwick (Capt. G.L. Warren, RN) and the light cruiser HMS Dunedin (Capt. R.S. Lovatt, RN) both joined the escort of the convoy.
At dawn on the 25th the convoy was attacked by the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper. She had made contact with the convoy with radar the previous day and had already made a torpedo attack shortly before 0400/25 but no hits had been obtained nor had the attack been noticed by the British.
Then shortly after 0800/25 she made visual contact with the convoy and it came as a surprise to the Germans to sight HMS Berwick.
Around 0830 hours the Germans opened fire on HMS Berwick but due to the bad visibility she soon shifted target to the troopship Empire Trooper which was not in her assigned station. The troopship was slightly damaged as was the merchant vessel Arabistan.
The convoy was ordered to scatter and HMS Berwick and HMS Bonaventure both engaged the German cruiser as did the corvette Cyclamen briefly.
Meanwhile HMS Dunedin laid a smokescreen to cover the ships of the convoy. HMS Furious flew off a few aircraft but these failed to find the German cruiser in the bad visibility.
HMS Berwick was damaged by gunfire from the German cruiser but she forced, together with HMS Bonaventure, the enemy to break off the action around 0915 hours.
In the evening HMS Boneventure was detached to search for the damaged Empire Trooper.
On the 28th the convoy was reassembled at sea (minus Empire Trooper which was ordered to proceed to Gibraltar via the Azores) and continued on to Freetown where it arrived on 6 January 1941.
The convoy departed Freetown for South Africa on 8 January.
The convoy was now made up of the (troop) transports; Adviser, Anselm, Arabistan, Atreus, Barrister, Benrinnes, Bhutan, City of Canterbury, City of Derby, City of London, Costa Rica, Delane, Elisabethville, Empire Ability (British, 7603 GRT, built 1931), Menelaus, Neuralia, Orbita, Rangitiki, Settler, Stentor and Tamaroa.
On departure from Freetown the convoy was escorted by the aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.W.La T. Bisset, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.F. Wake-Walker CB, OBE, RN), heavy cruisers HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. B.C.S. Martin, RN), HMS Hawkins (Capt. H.P.K. Oram, RN), destroyers HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN), HMS Vidette (Lt. E.N. Walmsley, RN), sloops HMS Milford (Cdr. (Retd.) the Hon. V.M. Wyndham-Quin, RN), HMS Bridgewater (A/Cdr. (Retd.) H.F.G. Leftwich, RN) and the corvettes HMS Asphodel (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) K.W. Stewart, RN) and HMS Calendula (Lt.Cdr. A.D. Bruford, RNVR).
At 0700N/9, the heavy cruiser HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.J.L. Phillips, RN) joined the convoy. She had also departed Freetown around the same time as the convoy but apparently acted independently until the time she joined the convoy.
At 0600N/10, HMS Formidable, HMS Dorsetshire, HMS Norfolk, HMS Velox and HMS Vidette parted company with the convoy. At the same time the heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire (Capt. R.D. Oliver, DSC, RN) joined.
It appears that HMS Bridgewater, HMS Milford, HMS Asphodel and HMS Calendula parted company on 12 January.
At 1000B/21, the heavy cruiser HMS Shropshire (Capt. J.H. Edelsten, RN) joined the convoy and HMS Devonshire parted company.
At 1600B/22, HMS Hawkins parted company with the convoy taking the transports Anselm and City of Canterbury to Capetown where they arrived on 23 January.
The remainder of the convoy arrived at Durban on 25 January 1941 escorted by HMS Shropshire.
The convoy departed Durban for Suez on 29 January 1941. It was now made up of the transports, Adviser, Anselm, Arabistan, Atreus, Barrister, Benrinnes, Bhutan, City of Canterbury, City of Derby, City of London, Costa Rica, Delane, Elisabethville, Empire Ability, Menelaus, Neuralia, Nieuw Holland (Dutch, 11066 GRT, built 1927), Orbita, Rangitiki, Settler, Stentor, Talamba (British, 8018 GRT, built 1924) and Tamaroa.
They were escorted by the heavy cruiser HMS Shropshire and the light cruiser HMS Ceres (Capt. E.G. Abbott, AM, RN).
Around 0800B/30, HMS Shropshire was relieved by the light cruiser HMS Enterprise (Capt. J.C. Annesley, DSO, RN).
In the morning of 31 January the transport Delane parted company with the convoy to return to Durban due to engine defects.
At 1000CD(-3.5)/4, HMS Ceres parted company taking the transports Nieuw Holland and Orbita with her to Kilindini / Mombasa where they arrived on 5 February.
At 1440CD/5, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Hector (Capt.(Retd.) F. Howard, DSC, RN) joined.
At 1500CD/5, the light cruiser HMS Capetown (Capt. P.H.G. James, RN) joined.
At 0430CD/6, HMS Capetown parted company with the convoy having been ordered to do so.
At 1730CD/10, HMS Enterprise parted company with the convoy to fuel at Aden. She rejoined the convoy around 2130C/11.
Around 0630C/11, the convoy was joined by the light cruiser HMS Caledon (Capt. C.P. Clarke, RN) and the sloops HMS Flamingo (Cdr. J.H. Huntley, RN) and HMS Indus (Cdr. Cdr. E.G.G. Hunt, RIN). HMS Hector then parted company with the convoy.
At 2300C/11, HMIS Indus parted company with the convoy upon being relieved by the sloop HMS Grimsby (Cdr. K.J. D'Arcy, RN).
At 1830C/13, HMS Flamingo parted company with the convoy to return to Aden and HMS Grimsby parted company with the convoy taking the transport Neuralia with her to Port Sudan.
At 0400C/14, HMS Enterprise parted company with the convoy.
The convoy escorted by HMS Caledon arrived at Suez on 16 February 1941. (9)
19 Jun 1941
HMS Vanessa is damaged by a German aircraft while on patrol in the North Sea. She suffered a direct amidships, blowing up boilers, the fore funnel was blasted overboard, and the deck opened up. Eleven ratings and the engineer officer were killed and many of the crew were injured and burned. The damaged destroyer collided with anti-submarine trawler HMS Turquoise. Vanessa was towed to Yarmouth by destroyer HMS Vesper.
3 Nov 1942
During 3/4 November 1942, the battleships HMS Anson (Capt. H.R.G. Kinahan, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral Sir B. Fraser, CB, KBE, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) and light cruiser HMS Glasgow (Capt. E.M. Evans-Lombe, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow during which they were escorted by the destroyers HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN), HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.deW. Kitcat, RN) and HMS Vesper (Lt. D.H.R. Bromley, RN).
On completion of the exercises HMS Howe proceeded to Loch Cairnbawn (Port H.H.Z.). escorted by HMS Icarus and HMS Intrepid. (11)
12 Dec 1942
The British destroyers HMS Whitshed, HMS Worcester and HMS Vesper, the British escort destroyers HMS Brocklesby and HMS Albrighton, and the Norwegian escort destroyer Eskdale attacked German shipping in the English Channel. Eskdale torpedoed and sank Sperrbrecher 144/Beijerland (387 BRT) west of Le Treport, France in position 50°05'N, 01°09'E and Whitshed torpedoed and sank Sperrbecher 178/Gauss (1236 BRT) north-east of Dieppe, France in position 50°04'N, 01°09'E.
14 Jul 1943
HMS Truant (Lt.Cdr. J.G. Hopkins, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Larne with HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Rodgers, RN), HMS Clematis (T/Lt. R.H. Farrands, DSC, RNR) and later with HMS Warwick (Cdr. Y.M. Cleeves, DSO, DSC, RD, RNR) and HMS Godetia (T/Lt. M.A.F. Larose, RNR). (14)
21 Aug 1943
HMS P 511 (Lt. R.H. Bull, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle together with HMS Hesperus (Cdr. D.G.F.W. MacIntyre, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Rodgers, RN), HMS Sweetbriar (T/A/Lt.Cdr. R. Edwards, RNVR), HMS Mourne (Lt.Cdr. R.S. Holland, RD, RNR) and HMS Campanula (Lt. T.W. Lewis, DSC, RANVR). (15)
18 Nov 1944
During the morning HMS Taciturn (Lt.Cdr. E.T. Stanley, DSO, DSC, RN) conducts A/S exercises with HMS Vigilant (Lt.Cdr. L.W.L. Argles, RN) and HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. V.D. Ravenscroft, RN). During the afternoon A/S exercises were carried out with HMS Zephyr (Capt. J.H. Allison, DSO and Bar, RN). (18)
- ADM 53/109642 + ADM 53/109910 + ADM 53/110944 + ADM 53/110977 + ADM 53/110992 + ADM 53/111234
- ADM 53/109170 + ADM 53/109430 + ADM 53/110977
- ADM 53/112194
- ADM 199/2572
- ADM 53/112284 + ADM 199/375 + ADM 199/379
- ADM 53/111996
- ADM 199/379
- ADM 173/16334
- ADM 199/1136
- ADM 173/17193
- ADM 53/115326 + ADM 53/115992 + ADM 53/116071
- ADM 173/18436
- ADM 173/17891
- ADM 173/18285
- ADM 173/17927
- ADM 173/17773
- ADM 173/18513
- ADM 173/18917
ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.
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