Allied Warships

HMS Lewes (G 68)

Destroyer of the Town class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassTown 
PennantG 68 
Built byNorfolk Navy Yard (Portsmouth, Virginia, U.S.A.) 
Ordered 
Laid down20 Nov 1917 
Launched29 Jun 1918 
Commissioned23 Oct 1940 
End service12 Oct 1945 
History

Built as USS Craven (DD 70) of the Caldwell-class, commissioned in US Navy on 19 Oct, 1918. On 10 Oct, 1919 placed in reserve fleet and decommissioned on 15 Jun, 1922. On 12 Nov, 1939 renamed USS Conway (DD 70), recommissioned on 9 Aug, 1940 and transferred to Royal Navy on 23 Oct, 1940.

Lewes departed Halifax 1 November and arrived at Belfast, Northern Ireland, 9 November, searching for the German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer during her passage. She was refitted at Plymouth, England, and ordered to remain there under the command of Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth. Severely damaged in enemy air raids on 21 and 22 April 1941, she remained out of action until December when she joined the Home Fleet. In February 1942 she joined Rosyth Escort Force, escorting convoys between the Thames and the Firth of Forth, Scotland. On 9 and 10 November 1942 she engaged German E-boats which attacked her convoy off Lowestoft. Lewes escorted a troop convoy on its way to the Middle East and arrived at Simonstown, Union of South Africa, 18 May 1943. As well as serving as target for aircraft during their training, she searched for enemy submarines reported rounding Cape of Good Hope.

In 1944 she joined the Eastern Fleet as a submarine tender and torpedo target ship. Lewes departed Durban 13 August and arrived at Ceylon a month later. She was based at Trincomalee until January 1945 when she was transferred to the British Pacific Fleet as a target ship for aircraft training. Arriving at Fremantle, Australia, 11 February 1945, she shifted to Sydney 20 February and remained there until the end of hostilities. On 12 October 1945 this most widely traveled of the "Town" destroyers was reported as no longer necessary to the fleet, and was ordered scrapped.

 
Former nameUSS Conway (DD 70)

Commands listed for HMS Lewes (G 68)

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CommanderFromTo
1Lt.Cdr. John Neil Kelly Knight, RN23 Oct 1940mid 1941

2A/Cdr. (retired) Lawrence Henry Phillips, RN3 Nov 19411 Feb 1943
3Lt.Cdr. Michael Vitale Thorburn, DSC, RNVR1 Feb 194311 Oct 1943
4T/Lt. Malcolm Henry Grylls, SANF(V)11 Oct 1943late 1945

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Notable events involving Lewes include:


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 (Capt. 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 at 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.

The battleship HMS Nelson arrived at Scapa Flow around 1630/13 escorted by the destryers Maori, HMS Beagle (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Wright, RN), HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. F.J.G. Hewitt, RN) and Keppel.

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. (1)

3 Jun 1942
HMS P 45 (Lt. H.B. Turner, RN) participated in A/S exercises off Scapa Flow with HMS Lewes (A/Cdr.(Retd.) L.H. Phillips, RN) and HMS Wheatland (Lt. R.deL. Brooke, DSC, RN). (2)

26 Mar 1943
HMS Usurper (Lt. D.R.O. Mott, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Scapa Flow with HMCS Athabascan (Cdr. G.R. Miles, DSO, OBE, RCN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. John Henry Wallace, DSC, RN) and HMS Lewes (Lt.Cdr. M.V. Thorburn, DSC, RNVR). (3)

27 Mar 1943
HMS Usurper (Lt. D.R.O. Mott, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Scapa Flow with HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. John Henry Wallace, DSC, RN), HMS Troubridge (Capt. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Lewes (Lt.Cdr. M.V. Thorburn, DSC, RNVR) and HMS Stevenstone (Lt. P.B.N. Lewis, DSC, RN). (3)

30 Mar 1943
HMS Usurper (Lt. D.R.O. Mott, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Scapa Flow with HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Fitzroy, RN), HMS Troubridge (Capt. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Lewes (Lt.Cdr. M.V. Thorburn, DSC, RNVR) and HMS Seagull (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Pollock, RN). (3)

6 Apr 1943
HrMs O 14 (Lt.Cdr. H.A.W. Goossens, RNN) conducted A/S exercises at / off Scapa Flow with HMS Lauderdale (Lt. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN) and HMS Lewes (Lt.Cdr. M.V. Thorburn, DSC, RNVR). (4)

10 Aug 1943
HMS P 614 (Lt. H.W. Wilkinson, RN) departed Simonstown for Freetown. She was escorted until 1200/12 by HMS Lewes (Lt.Cdr. M.V. Thorburn, DSC, VRD, RNVR).

For the daily positions of HMS P 614 during this passage see the map below.

(5)

25 Sep 1944
During 25 and 26 September 1944 HMS Statesman (Lt. R.G.P. Bulkeley, RN) and HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) conducted exercises off Trincomalee with HMS Lewes (T/Lt. M.H. Grylls, SANF(V)) and HMIS Pansy (Lt. R.G. Main, RINR). These included night exercises. (6)

2 Oct 1944
HMS Strongbow (Lt. J.A.R. Troup, DSC, RN) departed Trincomalee for her 3rd war patrol (2nd in the Far East). She was ordered to patrol in the Malacca Straits. Before proceeding on patrol exercises were carried out with HMS Lewes (T/Lt. M.H. Grylls, SANF(V)) which on completion of these exercises also escorted Strongbow until 2320/2. (7)

18 Oct 1944
HMS Statesman (Lt. R.G.P. Bulkeley, RN) ended her 4th war patrol (2nd in the Far East) at Trincomalee. She was escorted in by HMS Lewes (T/Lt. M.H. Grylls, SANF(V)). (8)

26 Oct 1944
HMS Spirit (Lt. A.A. Catlow, RN) conducted exercises off Trincomalee with HMS Lewes (T/Lt. M.H. Grylls, SANF(V)). Also two practice attacks were made on HMS Suffolk (Capt. D. Gilmour, RN) and HMS Cumberland (Capt. P.K. Enright, RN). (9)

27 Oct 1944
During 27 and 28 October 1944, HMS Spirit (Lt. A.A. Catlow, RN), conducted exercises off Trincomalee with HMS Indomitable (Capt. J.A.S. Eccles, RN), HMS London (Capt. R.V. Symonds-Tayler, DSC, RN), HMS Cumberland (Capt. P.K. Enright, RN), HMS Lewes (T/Lt. M.H. Grylls, SANF(V)), HMS Whelp (Cdr. G.A.F. Norfolk, RN) and HMS Wager (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Watkin, RN). These included night exercises. (9)

31 Oct 1944
HMS Clyde (Lt. R.H. Bull, DSC, RN) conducted exercises off Trincomalee with HMS Lewes (T/Lt. M.H. Grylls, SANF(V)). (10)

2 Nov 1944
During 2 and 3 November 1944, HMS Statesman (Lt. R.G.P. Bulkeley, RN), conducted exercises off Trincomalee. Practice attacks were made on HMS Howe (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, DSO, RN) and HMS Lewes (T/Lt. M.H. Grylls, SANF(V)). Also night RDF (radar) exercises were carried out with HMS Lewes. Before returning to Trincomalee D/F calibration trials were carried out. (11)

10 Nov 1944
After repairs, HMS Statesman (Lt. R.G.P. Bulkeley, RN), departed Trincomalee to resume her 5th war patrol (2nd in the Far East). She was ordered to patrol off Sabang and the North-East coast of Sumatra. Later patrol was shifted to the Port Blair area. She was escorted out by HMS Lewes (T/Lt. M.H. Grylls, SANF(V)). (11)

14 Nov 1944
HMS Spark (Lt. D.G. Kent, RN) departed Trincomalee for 2nd war patrol (1st in the Far East). She was ordered to patrol off the West coast of Burma. She was escorted out by HMS Lewes (T/Lt. M.H. Grylls, SANF(V)).

For the daily and attack positions of HMS Spark during this patrol see the map below.

(12)

24 Nov 1944
HMS Shalimar (Lt. W.G. Meeke, DSC, MBE, RN) conducted exercises off Trincomalee.

Practice attacks were made, first on HMS Porpoise (A/Lt.Cdr. H.B. Turner, DSC, RN) and later on HMS Lewes (T/Lt. M.H. Grylls, SANF(V)), HMAS Napier (Cdr. H.J. Buchanan, DSO, RAN) and HMAS Nepal (Lt.Cdr. C.J. Stephenson, RAN). Also an A/S exercise was carried out with these three destroyers. (13)

Media links


British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

Sources

  1. ADM 199/379
  2. ADM 173/17407
  3. ADM 173/18389
  4. File 2.12.03.6390 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  5. ADM 173/17964
  6. ADM 173/18823
  7. ADM 173/18853
  8. ADM 173/18824
  9. ADM 173/18789
  10. ADM 173/18467
  11. ADM 173/18825
  12. ADM 199/1876
  13. ADM 173/18732

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


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