Allied Warships

HMS Charlestown (I 21)

Destroyer of the Town class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassTown 
PennantI 21 
Built byNewport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. (Newport News, Virginia, U.S.A.) 
Ordered 
Laid down5 Apr 1918 
Launched4 Jul 1918 
Commissioned23 Sep 1940 
End serviceDec 1944 
History

After completion USS Abbot cruised along the Atlantic coast, in the Gulf of Mexico, and in Cuban waters until going out of commission 5 July 1922 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

Recommissioned 17 June 1940, USS Abbot patrolled along the east coast for a brief time. She was decommissioned at Hailifax, Nova Scotia, 23 September 1940, and was transferred in the destroyer-land bases exchange to the British who renamed her HMS Charlestown.

HMS Charlestown. joined the 17th Destroyer Division and took part in minelaying operations from the west coast of, Scotland. Between assignments of' minelaying duty she assisted in the escort of convoys. Damaged in collision with the steamer Florizell off Harwich, England, during December 1944, she was reduced to reserve at Grangemouth, Scotland, and paid off from 15 January 1945. She was finally sold for scrap on 4 March 1947 at Sunderland.

HMS Charlestown is not listed as active unit in the April 1945 Navy List

 
Former nameUSS Abbot (DD 184)

Commands listed for HMS Charlestown (I 21)

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CommanderFromTo
1Lt.Cdr. Thomas Johnston, RN23 Sep 19403 Mar 1942
2Lt.Cdr. Norman Robins Murch, RN3 Mar 194230 Jan 1943
3Cdr. (retired) Charles William Vane Tempest Stewart Lepper, RN30 Jan 19431 Feb 1943
4Lt. William Frank Broughton Webb, DSC, RN1 Feb 194323 Sep 1943
5Lt.Cdr. Alfred Francis Colenso Gray, RD, RNR23 Sep 1943early 1945

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Notable events involving Charlestown include:


4 Feb 1941

Minelaying operation SN 7.

At 1830Z/4, the auxiliary minelayers Southern Prince (A/Capt. E.M.C. Barraclough, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.L. Burnett, OBE, RN), HMS Agamemnon (Capt. (Retd.) F. Ratsey, RN), HMS Menestheus (Capt. W.H.D. Friedberger, RN), HMS Port Quebec (Capt. (Retd.) E.C. Watson, RN) departed Port ZA (Loch Alsh) to lay Minefield SN 7. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Brighton (Cdr. (Retd.) C.W.V.T.S. Lepper, RN), HMS Charlestown (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN), HMS Lancaster (A/Cdr. N.H. Whatley, RN) and HMS St. Albans (Lt.Cdr. (Emgy.) S.G.C. Rawson, RN).

Around 2100Z/4, the battleship HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN) departed Scapa Flow to provide distant cover for the operation. She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN), HMS Echo (Cdr. S.H.K. Spurgeon, DSO, RAN), HMS Electra (Cdr. C.W. May, RN) and HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN). On leaving Scapa Flow they were joined by the light cruiser HMS Nigeria (Capt. J.G.L. Dundas, RN) which was to provide close cover for the auxiliary minelayers. HMS Nigeria was already at sea as she had been participating in exercises earlier on the day.

At 0845Z/5, HMS Nigeria parted company with HMS Rodney and her escorting destroyers.

At 1353Z/5, HMS Menestheus exploded a drifting mine in her port paravane which resulted in engine damage. She was unable to proceed and was taken in tow by HMS Agamemnon to return to Port ZA escorted by HMS Charleston and HMS St. Albans. They arrived at Loch Alsh around 1115Z/7.

Mines were laid on the 6th. The intended minefield was now only partially laid.

HMS Rodney, HMS Nigeria, HMS Inglefield, HMS Echo, HMS Electra and HMS Brilliant returned to Scapa Flow around 1530Z/7.

HMS Southern Prince, HMS Port Quebec, HMS Brighton and HMS Lancaster returned to Port ZA around 1730Z/7.

The minefield was completed in a later minelaying operation (SN 7B). (1)

15 Feb 1941

Laying of minefields SN 68A and SN 7B.

Minelaying operation by the 1st Minelaying Squadron.

The auxiliary minelayers Southern Prince (A/Capt. E.M.C. Barraclough, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.L. Burnett, OBE, RN), HMS Agamemnon (Capt. (Retd.) F. Ratsey, RN) and HMS Port Quebec (Capt. (Retd.) E.C. Watson, RN) departed Port ZA (Loch Alsh) around 1815A/15 to lay two minefields; SN 68A (828 mines) and SN 7B (810 mines). They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Brighton (Cdr. (Retd.) C.W.V.T.S. Lepper, RN), HMS Charlestown (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN), HMS Lancaster (A/Cdr. N.H. Whatley, RN) and HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. C.H.deB. Newby, RN).

They were joined around 0950A/15 by the light cruiser HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, RN) which had departed Scapa Flow around 0030A/16.

Distant cover was provided by the light cruisers HMS Edinburgh (Capt. C.M. Blackman, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.E. Holland, CB, RN) and HMS Nigeria (Capt. J.G.L. Dundas, RN) which departed Scapa Flow around 0415A/16 and Reykjavik, Iceland at 0900A/14 respectively.

The minefields were laid on 17 February as follows;
SN 68A, made up of 828 mines, was laid along a line between positions 62°45'1"N, 10°46'0"W and 63°00'2"N, 11°15'8"W. The minelayers laid as follows, HMS Southern Prince 282 mines, HMS Agamemnon 272 mines and HMS Port Quebec 274 mines.

SN 7B, made up of 810 mines, was laid along a line between positions 62°59'0"N, 08°23'0"W and 63°13'7"N, 08°54'8"W. The minelayers laid as follows, HMS Southern Prince 280 mines, HMS Agamemnon 257 mines and HMS Port Quebec 273 mines.

HMS Southern Prince, HMS Agamemnon, HMS Port Quebec, HMS Brighton, HMS Charlestown, HMS Lancaster and HMS Echo arrived at Port Z.A. (Loch Alsh) on the 18th.

HMS Edinburgh and HMS Nigeria arrived at Scapa Flow around 1630A/18.

HMS Aurora arrived at Scapa Flow around 1915A/18 having parted company with the 1st Minelaying Squadron around 1415A/18.

HMS Echo arrived at Scapa Flow around 0800A/19. (2)

17 Mar 1941

Minelaying operation SN 69.

Minelaying operation by the 1st Minelaying Squadron.

At 1900A/17, the 1st Minelaying Squadron departed Port Z.A. (Loch Alsh) for minelaying operation SN 69. The 1st Minelaying Squadron was made up of the auxiliary minelayers Southern Prince (Cdr. C.L. Firth, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.L. Burnett, OBE, RN), HMS Agamemnon (Capt.(Retd.) F. Ratsey, RN), HMS Menestheus (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN), and HMS Port Quebec (Capt.(Retd.) E.C. Watson, RN). They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Castleton (Cdr. (Retd.) F.H.E. Skyrme, RN), HMS Charlestown (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN), HMS Lancaster (A/Cdr. N.H. Whatley, RN) and HMS St. Marys (Lt. K.H.J.L. Phibbs, RN).

Around 2300A/17, the light cruisers HMS Galatea (Capt. E.W.B. Sim, RN) and HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, RN) departed Scapa Flow to join the 1st Minelaying Squadron for close cover. They made rendezvous with the 1st Minelaying Squadron around 0930A/18.

Distant cover for the operation was provided by the battleship HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Nigeria (Capt. J.G.L. Dundas, RN) and the destroyers HMS Cossack (Capt. P.L. Vian, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr. H.T. Armstrong, RN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, RN), HMS Escapade (Lt.Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN), HMS Boadicea (A/Cdr. E.C.L. Turner, RN) and HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN) which were already at sea to the south of Iceland.

Minefield SN 69, made up of 2050 mines, was laid between 1010A/19 and 1405A/19. It was laid along a line between positions 63°44'0"N, 12°07'5"W and 64°32'6"N, 12°47'6"W.

The minelayers laid as follows; HMS Southern Prince 562 mines, HMS Agamemnon 530 mines, HMS Menestheus 410 mines and HMS Port Quebec 548 mines.

HMS Galatea and HMS Aurora parted company with the 1st Minelaying Squadron around 2000A/20. They arrived at Scapa Flow around 0345A/21.

The 1st Minelaying Squadron and their escorting destroyers returned to Port Z.A. (Loch Alsh) at 0759A/21. (3)

25 Mar 1941

Minelaying operation SN 4.

Minelaying operation by the 1st Minelaying Squadron.

At 1025A/25, the 1st Minelaying Squadron departed Port Z.A. (Loch Alsh) for minelaying operation SN 4. The 1st Minelaying Squadron was made up of the auxiliary minelayers Southern Prince (Cdr. C.L. Firth, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.L. Burnett, OBE, RN), HMS Agamemnon (Capt.(Retd.) F. Ratsey, RN), HMS Menestheus (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN), and HMS Port Quebec (Capt.(Retd.) E.C. Watson, RN). They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Castleton (Cdr. (Retd.) F.H.E. Skyrme, RN), HMS Charlestown (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN), HMS Lancaster (A/Cdr. N.H. Whatley, RN) and HMS St. Marys (Lt. K.H.J.L. Phibbs, RN).

Around 0845A/25, the light cruisers HMS Galatea (Capt. E.W.B. Sim, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.T.B. Curteis, CB, RN) and HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, RN) departed Scapa Flow to join the 1st Minelaying Squadron for close cover. They made rendezvous with the 1st Minelaying Squadron around 1445A/25.

At 0953A/26, A lone German Focke Wolf Condor aircraft attacked the 1st Minelaying Squadron and HMS Menestheus was hit by two bombs but they fortunately did not explode until clear of the ship. The damage to Menestheus was minor and could be repairs locally.

Minefield SN 4, made up of 2050 mines, was laid between 1130A/26 and 1430A/26. It was laid along a line between positions 60°45'0"N, 06°35'8"W and 60°18'7"N, 06°02'3"W.

The minelayers laid as follows; HMS Southern Prince 562 mines, HMS Agamemnon 530 mines, HMS Menestheus 410 mines and HMS Port Quebec 548 mines.

HMS Galatea and HMS Aurora parted company with the 1st Minelaying Squadron around 2350A/20. They arrived at Scapa Flow around 0700A/27.

While passing through the Minches the 1st Minelaying Squadron ran into a convoy and as a result HMS Agamemnon and HMS Castleton collided with each other. Both needed to proceed to shipsyards for repairs. HMS Agamemnon first took part in another minelaying mission but she was not able to lay a full outfit of mines.

The 1st Minelaying Squadron and their escorting destroyers returned to Port Z.A. (Loch Alsh) at 0731A/27. (4)

17 Jun 1941
HrMs O 14 (Lt.Cdr. G. Quint, RNN(R)) conducted A/S exercises at / off Scapa Flow with HMS Charlestown (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN) and HNoMS Bath (Lt.Cdr. C.F.T. Melsom). (5)

25 Jul 1941
HrMs O 14 (Lt.Cdr. G. Quint, RNN(R)) conducted A/S exercises at / off Scapa Flow with HMS Punjabi (Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN), HMS Charlestown (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN), HMS Castleton (Cdr. (Retd.) F.H.E. Skyrme, RN) and HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, RN). (5)

30 Jul 1941
HMS Prince of Wales (Capt. C.H.J. Harcourt, RN) conducted exercises to the west of Scapa Flow. During these exercises she was escorted by the destroyers HMS Oribi (Lt.Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, DSO, RN), HMS Charlestown (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN) and HMS Castleton (Cdr. (Retd.) F.H.E. Skyrme, RN).

Also participating in the exercises was HMS London (Capt. R.M. Servaes, CBE, RN). (6)

30 Jul 1941
The battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN) and the armed merchant cruiser HMS Esperance Bay (Capt.(Retd.) G.S. Holden, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Castleton (Cdr.(Retd.) F.H.E. Skyrme, RN), HMS Charlestown (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, RN).

31 Jul 1941
HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN), HMS Esperance Bay (Capt.(Retd.) G.S. Holden, RN), HMS Castleton (Cdr.(Retd.) F.H.E. Skyrme, RN), HMS Charlestown (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN) and HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, RN) arrived at Rosyth.

2 Aug 1941
HrMs O 14 (Lt.Cdr. G. Quint, RNN(R)) conducted A/S exercises at / off Scapa Flow with HMS Oribi (Lt.Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, DSO, RN) and HMS Charlestown (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN). (5)

8 Nov 1941

Minelaying operation SN 83B.

Minelaying operation by the 1st Minelaying Squadron.

At 0810A/8, the auxiliary minelayers HMS Menestheus (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.L. Burnett, OBE, RN), HMS Port Quebec (Capt.(Retd.) E.C. Watson, RN) and the destroyers HMS Brighton (Cdr. (Retd.) C.W.V.T.S. Lepper, RN), HMS Charlestown (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN), HMS Newark (Lt.Cdr. R.H.W. Atkins, RN) and HMS Montrose (Lt.Cdr. W.J. Phipps, OBE, RN) departed Port Z.A. (Loch Alsh) to lay minefield SN 83B.

Cover for this minelaying operation was provided by the light cruiser HMS Kenya (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.M. Burrough, CB, RN) and the destroyers HMS Bedouin (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, OBE, RN) and HMS Intrepid (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Lewes, DSC, RN) which departed from Seidisfjord, Iceland around 1315Z/8.

The minefield made up of 933 mines, was laid between 1320Z/9 and 1408Z/9, along a line joining positions, 62°49'8"N, 09°52'5"W and 63°02'8"N, 10°37'0"W.

The minelayers laid as follows; HMS Menestheus 410 mines and HMS Port Quebec 550 mines.

Very bad weather was experienced. During the night from 9/10 November the weather got even worse and as a result of it the force split up. HMS Brighton experienced two temporary engine breakdowns and HMS Newark had to steer by hand for two days.

HMS Port Quebec and HMS Charlestown arrived at Port Z.A. at 0430A/12. HMS Menestheus followed at 0700A/12 and finally HMS Brighton and HMS Newark arrived at 1145A/12.

HMS Montrose had been ordered to return to Scapa Flow where she arrived around 0800A/12.

HMS Kenya, HMS Bedouin and HMS Intrepid remained at sea, patrolling in the Iceland - Faeroer gap until returning to Seidisfiord around 1100Z/12. (7)

13 Apr 1942
HMS P 511 (Lt. D.E.O. Watson, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Tobermory with HMS Charlestown (Lt.Cdr. N.R. Murch, RN) and HMS Drangey (Skr. W.J. Jones, RNR). (8)

14 Apr 1942
HMS P 511 (Lt. D.E.O. Watson, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Tobermory with HMS Charlestown (Lt.Cdr. N.R. Murch, RN) and HMS Stroma (Skr. J.S. Harper, RNR). (8)

17 Apr 1942

Minelaying operation SN 88.

Minelaying operation by the 1st Minelaying Squadron.

On 17 April 1942, the 1st Minelaying Squadron departed Port Z.A. (Loch Alsh) to lay minefield SN 88. The Squadron was made up of the auxiliary minelayers Southern Prince (A/Capt. J. Cresswell, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral T.B. Drew, OBE, RN), Port Quebec (Capt.(Retd.) E.C. Watson, RN), Menestheus (Capt.(Retd.) R.H.F. de Salis, DSC and Bar, OBE, RN), Agamemnon (Capt.(Retd.) F. Ratsey, RN), the destroyers HMS Charlestown (Lt.Cdr. N.R. Murch, RN), HMS Wells (Lt. L.J. Pearson, RN), HMS Saladin (Lt.Cdr. G.V. Legassick, RNR), HMS Sardonyx (Lt.Cdr. A.F.C. Gray, RNR) and the minesweeper / survey vessel HMS Scott (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Sharpey-Schafer, RN).

They were joined at 1815B/17 by the light cruiser HMS Kenya (Capt. A.S. Russell, RN).

Due to the difference in depth of water the minefield had to be laid in two sections;
The first section was made up of 972 mines and was laid by HMS Southern Prince and HMS Menestheus between 1627B/18 and 1813B/18, along a line 1.5 cables either side of a line joining positions, 62°46'3"N, 09°32'0"W and 63°05'5"N, 10°05'8"W. HMS Southern Prince laid 562 mines and HMS Menestheus 410 mines.

The second section was made up of 1081 mines and was laid by HMS Port Quebec and HMS Agamemnon between 1813B/18 and 2010B/18, along a line 1.5 cables either side of a line joining positions 63°05'6"N, 10°04'0"W, 63°12'8"N, 10°16'4"W and 63°22'8"N, 10°48'5"W. HMS Port Quebec laid 551 mines and HMS Agamemnon 530 mines.

At 2230B/19, HMS Kenya, HMS Menestheus and HMS Saladin parted company with the other ships which returned to Port Z.A. (Loch Alsh early on the following day minus HMS Scott which arrived at Port Z.A. on 21 April.

At 0510B/20, HMS Kenya parted company with HMS Menestheus and HMS Saladin and arrived at Scapa Flow around 0645B/20.

HMS Menestheus and HMS Saladin arrived at Port Z.A. (Loch Alsh) later the same day. [unclear to us why they first went further to the east though.]

(9)

25 Feb 1943
HrMs O 10 (Lt.Cdr. Baron D.T. Mackay, RNN) participated in A/S exercises off Tobermory together with HMS Itchen (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) C.E. Bridgman, DSO, RNR) and HMS Charlestown (Lt. W.F.B. Webb, DSC, RN). (10)

26 Feb 1943
HrMs O 10 (Lt.Cdr. Baron D.T. Mackay, RNN) participated in A/S exercises off Tobermory together with HMS Itchen (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) C.E. Bridgman, DSO, RNR) and HMS Charlestown (Lt. W.F.B. Webb, DSC, RN). (10)

5 Mar 1943
HMS Anson (Capt. H.R.G. Kinahan, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral B.A. Fraser, CB, KBE, RN), HMS Furious (Capt. G.T. Philip, DSC, RN), HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN), HMS Newfoundland (Capt. W.R. Slayter, DSC, RN), HMCS Athabascan (Cdr. G.R. Miles, DSO, OBE, RCN), HMS Rapid (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, DSO, RN), HMS Charlestown (Lt. W.F.B. Webb, DSC, RN) and FFS La Combattante (Lt.Cdr. A. Patou) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. (11)

12 May 1943
HMS Ultimatum (Lt. W.H. Kett, RNR) conducted A/S exercises off Scapa Flow with HMS Tumult (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), ORP Slazak (Lt.Cdr. R. Nalecz-Tyminski, ORP), HMS Charlestown (Lt. W.F.B. Webb, DSC, RN) and HMS Chiddingfold (Lt. T.M. Dorrien-Smith, RN). (12)

Media links


British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

Sources

  1. ADM 53/115026 + ADM 53/114794 + ADM 199/411
  2. ADM 53/ + ADM 53 + ADM 53/ + ADM 199/396 + ADM 199/399 + ADM 199/411 + ADM 234/560+ ADM 234/561
  3. ADM 53/113672 + ADM 53/114302 + ADM 53/114490 + ADM 53/11476 + ADM 199/396 + ADM 199/399 + ADM 234/560 + ADM 234/561
  4. ADM 53/113672 + ADM 53/114302 + ADM 199/409 + ADM 199/411 + ADM 234/560 + ADM 234/561
  5. File 2.12.03.6387 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  6. ADM 53/114890
  7. ADM 53/114497 + ADM 199/396 + ADM 199/399 + ADM 234/560 + ADM 234/561
  8. ADM 173/17493
  9. ADM 53/116122 + ADM 234/560 + ADM 234/561
  10. File 2.12.03.6381 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  11. ADM 53/118274
  12. ADM 173/18316

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


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