Allied Warships

HMS Caldwell (I 20)

Destroyer of the Town class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassTown 
PennantI 20 
Built byBath Iron Works (Bath, Maine, U.S.A.) 
Ordered 
Laid down7 Oct 1918 
Launched29 May 1919 
Commissioned9 Sep 1940 
End service1 Dec 1944 
History

USS Hale (DD 133) arrived Halifax 6 September 1940 and decommissioned 3 days later. Entering the Royal Navy, she became HMS Caldwell During her career in the British Navy, Caldwell was assigned to escort duty in the Atlantic and later in the Caribbean, as Britain tried desperately to cope with the German U-boat menace. She joined the Royal Canadian Navy in mid-1942, and while returning to St. John's, Newfoundland, 18 December 1942, was seriously damaged during a heavy gale. She became disabled, and was found drifting helplessly by Wanderer 21 December. Caldwell was then towed to St. John's and later to Boston. Ready for sea again in May 1943, the ship resumed convoy duty with the Royal Canadian Navy until 1 December, when she returned to Tyne and was placed in reserve. Caldwell was broken up for scrap in September 1944.

 
Former nameUSS Hale (DD 133)

Commands listed for HMS Caldwell (I 20)

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CommanderFromTo
1Lt.Cdr. Michael Wilfred Tomkinson, RN9 Sep 19401 Jan 1941
2Lt.Cdr. Eric Morrison Mackay, RNR1 Jan 1941mid 1943

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Notable events involving Caldwell include:


9 Feb 1941

Convoy SL 65.

The bulk of this convoy departed Freetown on 10 February 1941 and arrived in U.K. waters on 8 March 1941.

Part of this convoy departed Freetown on day earlier, on 9 February 1941 and joined up with the main part of the convoy on 14 February 1941. This part of the convoy was known as convoy SLS [SL Slow] 65.

Convoy SLS 65 was made up of the following merchant vessels; Agios Vlasios (Greek, 2974 GRT, built 1918), Batna (British, 4399 GRT, built 1928), Baxtergate (British, 5531 GRT, built 1925), Camerata (British, 4875 GRT, built 1931), Deido (British, 3894 GRT, built 1928), Glaisdale (British, 3777 GRT, built 1929), Harmonic (British, 4558 GRT, built 1930), Hollinside (British, 4172 GRT, built 1930), Michael L. Embiricos (Greek, 5202 GRT, built 1918), Nevada II (British, 5693 GRT, built 1918), Ocean Coast (British, 1173 GRT, built 1935), Senta (Norwegian, 3785 GRT, built 1917), Trongate (British, 3979 GRT, built 1924), Wearpool (British, 4982 GRT, built 1936) and Zeeland (Dutch, 2776 GRT, built 1930).

SLS 65 had no escort.

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Convoy SL 65 was made up of the following merchant vessels; Belinda (Norwegian (tanker), 8325 GRT, built 1939), Belita (Norwegian (tanker), 6323 GRT, built 1933), Bencruachan (British, 5920 GRT, built 1928), Benvrackie (British, 6434 GRT, built 1922), Blairclova (British, 5083 GRT, built 1938), British Confidence (British (tanker), 8494 GRT, built 1936), British Endurance (British (tanker), 8406 GRT, built 1936), British Engineer (British (tanker), 6993 GRT, built 1922), British Governor (British (tanker), 6840 GRT, built 1926), British Renown (British (tanker), 6997 GRT, built 1928), British Workman (British (tanker), 6994 GRT, built 1922), Bur (Norwegian, 4343 GRT, built 1917), Chile (British, 6956 GRT, built 1915), City of Adelaide (British, 6528 GRT, built 1920), City of Canton (British, 6692 GRT, built 1916), City of Evansville (British, 6528 GRT, built 1922), City of Exeter (British, 9654 GRT, built 1914), City of Khios (British, 5574 GRT, built 1925), City of Ripon (British, 6368 GRT, built 1915), City of Winchester (British, 7120 GRT, built 1917), City of Worcester (British, 5469 GRT, built 1927), Cliftonhall (British, 5063 GRT, built 1938), Cordillera (British, 6865 GRT, built 1920), David Livingstone (British, 5013 GRT, built 1930), Dunstan (British, 5149 GRT, built 1925), Eskbank (British, 5137 GRT, built 1937), Fernlane (Norwegian, 4310 GRT, built 1927), Glenfinlas (British, 7479 GRT, built 1917), John Holt (British, 4975 GRT, built 1938), Kalewa (British, 4389 GRT, built 1940), Kana (British, 2783 GRT, built 1929), Marquesa (British, 8979 GRT, built 1918), Matadian (British, 4275 GRT, built 1936), Medon (British, 5444 GRT, built 1923), Morgenen (Norwegian (tanker), 7093 GRT, built 1930), Nariva (British, 8714 GRT, built 1920), Nela (British, 7220 GRT, built 1916), Polartank (Norwegian (tanker), 6356 GRT, built 1930), Port Adelaide (British, 8422 GRT, built 1919), Southern Princess (British (tanker), 12156 GRT, built 1915), Strategist (British, 6255 GRT, built 1937), Tacoma Star (British, 7924 GRT, built 1919), Tactician (British, 5996 GRT, built 1928), Thistlegorm (British, 4898 GRT, built 1940), Thornliebank (British, 5569 GRT, built 1939), Tiba (Dutch, 5239 GRT, built 1938), Ville d'Amiens (British, 6975 GRT, built 1924), Wayfarer (British, 5068 GRT, built 1925) and Zamalek (British (rescue ship), 1567 GRT, built 1921).]

[It is possible some of these ships did not sail from Freetown but joined the convoy at sea.]

On departure from Freetown the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Bulolo (Capt.(Retd.) R.L. Hamer, RN) and the sloop HMS Milford (Capt.(Retd.) S.K. Smyth, RN).

At 0900N/11, the corvettes HMS Asphodel (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) K.W. Stewart, RN) and HMS Calendula (Lt.Cdr. A.D. Bruford, RNVR).

On 13 February 1941, the light cruiser HMS Kenya (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.M. Burrough, CB, RN) joined SLS 65 having departed Freetown on 11 February 1941.

Around 0900N/14, convoy SLS 65 merged with convoy SL 65.

At 1820N/14, HMS Milford, HMS Asphodel and HMS Calendula parted company with the convoy to return to Freetown.

At 1100D/20, the light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN) joined the convoy escort. HMS Kenya then parted company to proceed to Gibraltar.

HMS Sheffield parted company with the convoy in the afternoon of 1 March 1941 and returned to Gibraltar.

At 1300D/2, the light cruiser HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN) joined the convoy escort. HMS Bulolo then parted company with the convoy to proceed to the Clyde.

Ships from the local A/S escort commenced to join on 4 March, these were the destroyers HMS Vanoc (Lt.Cdr. J.G.W. Deneys, RN), HMS Volunteer (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Walker (Cdr. D.G.F.W. MacIntyre, RN), HMS Brighton (Cdr. (Retd.) C.W.V.T.S. Lepper, RN), HMS Broadway (Lt.Cdr. T. Taylor, RN), HMS Caldwell (Lt.Cdr. E.M. Mackay, RNR), HMS Rockingham (Lt. A.H.T. Johns, RN), sloop HMS Fleetwood (Cdr. R.W. Moir, RN), corvettes HMS Dianella (T/Lt. J.G. Rankin, RNR), HMS Sunflower (Lt.Cdr. J.T. Jones, RNR) HMS Tulip (Lt.Cdr. A. Wilkinson, RNR), A/S yacht HMS Philante (Capt.(Retd.) H.S. Bowlby, RN) and the catapult ship HMS Pegasus (Capt.(Retd.) P.G. Wodehouse, DSO, RN). The destroyers HNoMS Mansfield (Cdr. F. Ulstrup, RNorN) and HMS Woolston (Lt.Cdr. W.J. Phipps, OBE, RN) joined on 5 March.

6 May 1941

Convoy HX 125

This convoy departed Halifax on 6 May 1941 in two sections, convoy HX 125A and convoy HX 125B. They merged in the afternoon of May 16th.

Convoy HX 125A was made up of the following merchant vessels;
Abraham Lincoln (British, 5740 GRT, built 1929), Armadale (British, 5066 GRT, built 1929), Athelknight (British (tanker), 8940 GRT, built 1930), Atlantic (British, 5414 GRT, built 1939), Baron Dunmore (British, 3938 GRT, built 1933), Bic Island (British, 4000 GRT, built 1917), British Cinfidence (British (tanker), 8494 GRT, built 1936), British Fortitude (British (tanker), 8482 GRT, built 1937), British Sincerity (British (tanker), 8538 GRT, built 1939), Clausina (British (tanker), 8083 GRT, built 1938), Dallington Court (British, 6889 GRT, built 1929), El Aleto (British (tanker), 7203 GRT, built 1927), Empire Confidence (British, 5023 GRT, built 1935), Eskbank (British, 5137 GRT, built 1937), Fjordheim (British, 4115 GRT, built 1930), Garonne (Norwegian (tanker), 7113 GRT, built 1921), Glenwood (British, 4897 GRT, built 1940), Harmala (British, 5730 GRT, built 1935), Harpagon (British, 5719 GRT, built 1935), Ingerfem (British, 3987 GRT, built 1912), King Neptune (British, 5224 GRT, built 1928), King William (British, 5274 GRT, built 1928), Lancastrian Prince (British, 1914 GRT, built 1940), Lucellum (British (tanker), 9425 GRT, built 1938), Luminetta (British (tanker), 6159 GRT, built 1927), Luxor (British (tanker), 6554 GRT, built 1930), O.A. Knudsen (Norwegian (tanker), 11007 GRT, built 1938), Port Nicholson (British, 8402 GRT, built 1919), Ramsay (British, 4855 GRT, built 1930), Robert F. Hand (British (tanker), 12197 GRT, built 1933), San Amado (British (tanker), 7316 GRT, built 1935), San Cipriano (British, 7966 GRT, built 1937), Silverelm (British, 4351 GRT, built 1924), Taron (British (tanker), 8054 GRT, built 1936), Temple Arch (British, 5138 GRT, built 1940), Temple Inn (British, 5218 GRT, built 1940), Topdalsfjord (Norwegian, 4271 GRT, built 1921), Trevilley (British, 5296 GRT, built 1940), Troubadour (Norwegian, 5808 GRT, built 1920) and Vancouver (British (tanker), 5729 GRT, built 1928).

On departure from Halifax convoy HX 125A was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Ascania (Capt.(Retd.) C.H. Ringrose-Wharton, RN) and the corvettes HMCS Cobalt (T/A/Lt.Cdr. R.B. Campbell, RCNR) and HMCS Wetaskiwin (Lt.Cdr. G.S. Windeyer, RCN). The corvettes however soon returned to Halifax.

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Convoy HX 125B was made up of the following merchant vessels;
Breedijk (Dutch, 6861 GRT, built 1922), Briarwood (British, 4019 GRT, built 1930), British Destiny (British (tanker), 8470 GRT, built 1937), British Governor (British (tanker), 6840 GRT, built 1926), British Prestige (British (tanker), 7106 GRT, built 1931), Christian Holm (British (tanker), 9119 GRT, built 1927), City of Adelaide (British, 6589 GRT, built 1920), Clearpool (British, 5404 GRT, built 1935), Cockaponset (British, 5995 GRT, built 1919), Corrales (British, 5363 GRT, built 1930), Diloma (British (tanker), 8146 GRT, built 1939), Egyptian Prince (British, 3490 GRT, built 1922), Empire Barracuda (British, 4972 GRT, built 1919), Empire Hail (British, 7005 GRT, built 1941), Evgenia Chandris (Greek, 5317 GRT, built 1920), Frontenac (Norwegian (tanker), 7350 GRT, built 1928), Gold Shell (British (tanker), 8208 GRT, built 1931), Hellen (Norwegian, 5289 GRT, built 1921), Ida Knudsen (Norwegian (tanker), 8913 GRT, built 1925), Invincible (British, 7592 GRT, built 1918), Kelso (British, 3956 GRT, built 1924), Kent (British, 8697 GRT, built 1918), Lodestone (British, 4877 GRT, built 1938), Manchester Exporter (British, 5277 GRT, built 1918), Masunda (British, 5250 GRT, built 1929), Modavia (British, 4858 GRT, built 1927), Norfolk (British, 10948 GRT, built 1918) and Nyanza (British, 4974 GRT, built 1928).

On departure from Halifax convoy HX 125B was escorted by the sloop HMS Aberdeen (Lt. S.G. Rivers-Smith, RN).

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On 7 May 1941, the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) departed Halifax to provide cover for both sections of the convoy. She set course to return to Halifax around midnight during the night of 13/14 May 1941.

Four recently transferred US Coast Guard Cutters were also with the convoy, though these had not been rearmed and worked up. These were; HMS Banff (Lt.Cdr. P.S. Evans, RN), HMS Culver (Lt.Cdr. R.T. Gordon-Duff, RN), HMS Fishguard (Lt.Cdr. H.L. Pryse, RNR) and HMS Hartland ( A/Cdr. D.E.G. Wemyss, RN).

On the 16th the destroyers HMS Chelsea (Lt.Cdr. R.D.H.S. Pankhurst, RN), HMS Churchill (Cdr.(Retd.) G.R. Cousins, RN), HNoMS Mansfield (Cdr. F. Ulstrup, RNorN), HMS Verity (Cdr. R.H. Mills, RN), HMS Wolverine (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Rowland, RN) and the corvettes HMS Begonia (T/Lt. T.A.R. Muir, RNR), HMS Convolvulus (T/Lt. R.S. Connell, RNR) and HMS Larkspur (Lt. S.C.B. Hickman, RNR) joined the convoy coming from Iceland. They remained with the convoy until the 18th.

In the afternoon of the 16th, Convoys HX 125A and HX 125B merged into one big convoy.

Around 1330Z/18, HMS Ascania parted company with the convoy to proceed to Reykjavik.

On the 18th the destroyers HMS Ramsey (Lt.Cdr. R.B. Stannard, VC, RNR), HMS Ripley (Lt.Cdr. J.A. Agnew, RN), HMS Walker (Cdr. D.G.F.W. MacIntyre, DSO, RN), HMS Watchman (Lt.Cdr. E.C.L. Day, RN), sloop HMS Enchantress (Lt.Cdr. A.E.T. Christie, OBE, RN), corvettes HMS Bluebell (Lt.Cdr. R.E. Sherwood, RNR), HMS Candytuft (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) F.B. Collinson, RD, RNR), HMS Honeysuckle (Lt.Cdr. G.W. Gregorie, RNR), HMS Hydrangea (Lt. J.E. Woolfenden, RNR), HMS Tulip (Lt.Cdr. A. Wilkinson, RNR) and HMS Wallflower (Lt.Cdr. I.J. Tyson, RN), and the minesweeper HMS Salamander (Lt.Cdr. W.A. Cooke, RN) joined the convoy.

On the 19th the destroyer HMS Caldwell (Lt.Cdr. E.M. Mackay, RNR) joined on the 19th as did the minesweepers HMS Bramble (Capt. M.H. Evelegh, RN), HMS Gossamer (Lt.Cdr. A.D.H. Jay, RN), HMS Seagull ( Cdr.(Retd.) R.H.V. Sivewright, RN) and HMS Sharpshooter (Lt.Cdr. D. Lampen, RN) but apparently only for a short while.

The destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN) and HMS Escapade (Lt.Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN) joined the convoy on the 20th.

also on the 20th the corvettes HMS Tulip and HMS Wallflower were detached.

The destroyers HMS Inglefield and HMS Escapade were destached on the 21st as was the corvette HMS Honeysuckle.

The convoy arrived in British waters on 22 May 1941.

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). (1)

7 Sep 1941
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Chelsea (Lt.Cdr. A.F.C. Layard, RN) and HMS Caldwell (Lt.Cdr. E.M. Mackay, RNR) (1)

8 Sep 1941
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Chelsea (Lt.Cdr. A.F.C. Layard, RN) and HMS Caldwell (Lt.Cdr. E.M. Mackay, RNR) (1)

14 Nov 1941
HMS H 50 (Lt. E.T. Stanley, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Broke (Cdr. W.T. Couchman, OBE, RN), HMS Wolverine (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Rowland, RN), HMS Caldwell (Lt.Cdr. E.M. Mackay, RD, RNR) and HMS Volunteer (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN). (2)

18 Dec 1942
The Captain of HMS Caldwell, Lt. Cdr Eric Mackay D.S.C., R.D., RNR was not in his cabin when the forward bulkhead was stoved in by the wave that demolished the port wing of the bridge on the night of 16th December 1942. A signal was made to HMS Churchill for HMS Caldwell to return to St. John's. At 1400 on 18th December, the ship was engulfed by tons upon tons of seawater and lost main steering. The starboard wing of the bridge was folded up, the sea carrying away the whaler and davits. The secondary steering gear beyond the 12 pounder gun position was rendered useless. the scuttles in the Number One's cabin and the Wardroom were stoved in. The ship could not take another blow like the first two and was headed back into the Atlantic. On the morning of 19th the Chief Stoker was reported missing, presumed washed overboard. All through 19th & 20th HMS Caldwell steered 220. On 21st, still 400 miles out, fuel was critical. HMS Wanderer stood by until HMCS Skeena and an ocean tug arrived. Conditions deteriorated and fuel could not be passed and at 0800 the fires went out. On the night of 24th, the battered destroyer, frozen and lightless, secured to the dock at the end of a tow of 126 miles. By 27th December, the twin propellers were removed and at 1000 on 18th January the naval tug Foundation Franklin, took HMS Caldwell in tow for the 885 miles to Boston with HMCS Wasaga as escort. By noon the next day the weather changed and eventually the tow parted leaving HMS Caldell with 400 fathoms of 6" wire & 14" manila towline hanging from the bows. Heroic efforts to stream a sea anchor from the stern resulted in casualties. the seas became worse and by 1500 on 19th January, HMS Caldwell was alone. The 20th & 21st were nightmares. The tug St. Anne and HMS Salisbury had to turn back on the 20th due to heavy icing. On 21st, the tug William Moran and HMCS Columbia also could not help. Then 0900 on 22nd January HMCS Columbia found HMS Caldwell and tried to take the destroyer in tow using the 400 fathoms of existing towline. This not being possible, another towline was passed but it was fed out too fast and fouled HMCS Columbia's props. Then HMCS Wasaga returned on station and succeeded in passing a towline and with HMCS Columbia, props cleared, as escort. The new tow parted at 1500 and HMCS Wasaga was in trouble with the wire threatening to foul the props. HMSC Columbia passed another wire and Captain Mackay shackled the cable eye to the wire hanging over the bow. By this method 90 fathoms of 6" wire were brought into service with the remaining 330 fathoms acting as a spring. At 1300 on 24th January they all made Halifax. At 1300 on 27th January, the tug Black Chief took HMS Caldwell in tow. Again the weather turned bad and the pair of ships spent an awful night hove to off Shelburne on the SE coast of Nova Scotia. Reaching harbour the next day 24 hours rest passed and they set out again at snail's pace. The weather was so bad and cold the U-boats remained submerged. On the night of 31st Boston was reached and on 3rd February HMS Caldwell was secured by two tugs at the Atlantic shipyards of Bethlehem Steel. Lt Cdr Mackay was give a shore appointment in Boston and seven months later became Captain of HMS Braithwaite. (3)

Media links


British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

Sources

  1. ADM 173/16742
  2. ADM 173/16795
  3. Personal communication

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


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