Allied Warships

HMS Churchill (I 45)

Destroyer of the Town class

NavyThe Royal Navy
PennantI 45 
Built byNewport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. (Newport News, Virginia, U.S.A.) 
Laid down25 Nov 1918 
Launched31 May 1919 
Commissioned9 Sep 1940 
End service16 Jul 1944 

USS Herndon (DD 198) was decommissioned and turned over to Great Britain under the lend lease program at Halifax, Nova Scotia on 9 September 1940. As HMS Churchill (I 45), she served as leader of the first Town-class flotilla in transatlantic convoys and patrol duty off the western approaches to the British Isles. High points in her career in the Royal Navy include participation in the search for Bismarck after the German battleship had sunk HMS Hood (51), and a visit by her namesake, the redoubtable Prime Minister, on his way home from the momentous Atlantic Conference with President Roosevelt in August 1941. HMS Churchill (I 45) also served as an escort for the pre- and post-invasion buildup for Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa. Transferred to the Russian Navy 16 July 1944, the destroyer was renamed Dejatelnyj (Active) and was probably sunk by an U-boat on 16 January 1945 about 40 miles east of Cape Tereberski while escorting the convoy KB-1 over the treacherous route from Kola Inlet to the White Sea.

Former nameUSS Herndon (DD 198)
Career notesto Soviet Union as Dejatelnyj

Commands listed for HMS Churchill (I 45)

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1Cdr. (retired) Gerald Roger Cousins, RN9 Sep 19403 Mar 1942
2Cdr. (retired) Peter John Fitzgerald, RN3 Mar 194227 Feb 1943
3Cdr. Godfrey Noel Brewer, RN27 Feb 1943Mar 1943
4Cdr. (retired) Peter John Fitzgerald, RNMar 19431 Jun 1943
5Lt. Anthony Charles Denniss Leach, RN1 Jun 1943early 1944
6T/Lt. James Hume Millar, RNVRearly 194416 Jul 1944

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Notable events involving Churchill 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)

17 Feb 1941

Convoy TC 9.

This troop convoy departed Halifax on 17 February 1941 and arrived in the Clyde on 27 February 1941.

Is was made up of the troopships: Dempo (Dutch, 17024 GRT, built 1931), Duchess of York (British, 20021 GRT, built 1929), Johan van Oldenbarneveld (Dutch, 19429 GRT, built 1930), Orontes (British, 20097 GRT, built 1925) and Warwick Castle (British, British, 20107 GRT, built 1930).

On departure from Halifax it was escorted by the battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) and the armed merchant cruiser HMS Wolfe (A/Capt.(Retd.) W.G.A. Shuttleworth, RN).

HMS Wolfe was detached on 18 February 1941.

On 20 February the light cruiser HMS Edinburgh (Capt. C.M. Blackman, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.E. Holland, CB, RN) departed Scapa Flow to join the convoy, She relieved HMS Royal Sovereign on 23 February which then returned to Halifax arriving on 28 February. On 24 February the destroyers HMCS Assiniboine (A/Lt.Cdr. J.H. Stubbs, RCN), HMCS Ottawa (Cdr. E.R. Mainguy, RCN), HMCS Restigouche (Cdr. H.N. Lay, OBE, RN) and HMS Havelock (Cdr. E.H. Thomas, DSC, RN) joined the convoy. HMS Havelock was detached on 25 February. The three Canadian destroyers remained with the convoy until 26 February.

On the 25 February, light cruiser HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, RN) and the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN), HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. C.H.deB. Newby, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN) and Léopard (Lt.Cdr. J. Evenou) joined the convoy; Léopard already being detached later on the 25th. Destroyer HMS Mistral (Cdr. C.H. Brooks, RAN) joined the convoy on the 26th. Destroyer HMS Churchill (Cdr.(Retd.) G.R. Cousins, RN) also escorted the convoy in the Western Approaches. The convoy reached the Minches in the evening of 26 February. Light cruiser HMS Edinburg with the destroyers HMS Inglefield, HMS Echo and HMS Eclipse then proceeded to Scapa Flow arriving at 0100/27.

Light cruiser HMS Aurora with the destroyers Mistral and HMS Churchill took the convoy into the Clyde and arrived at Greenock on the 27th.

18 Feb 1941

Convoy SL 66.

This convoy departed Freetown on 18 February 1941 and arrived in U.K. waters on 14 March 1941.

On departure from Freetown the convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Amberton (British, 5377 GRT, built 1928), Ardenvohr (British, 5025 GRT, built 1940), Benlomond (British, 6630 GRT, built 1922), Benvenue (British, 5920 GRT, built 1927), Berbery (British, 5248 GRT, built 1919), Berhala (Dutch, 6622 GRT, built 1927), Bothnia (British, 2407 GRT, built 1928), Bradglen (British, 4741 GRT, built 1930), British Colony (British (tanker), 6917 GRT, built 1927), British Desteny (British (tanker), 8470 GRT, built 1937), British Power (British (tanker), 8451 GRT, built 1936), British Pride (British (tanker), 7106 GRT, built 1931), British Resolution (British (tanker), 8408 GRT, built 1937), Cape Wrath (British, 4512 GRT, built 1914), Darlington Court (British, 4974 GRT, built 1936), Egba (British, 4989 GRT, built 1914), Esneh (British, 1931 GRT, built 1919), Etrib (British, 1943GRT, built 1919), Glendene (British, 4412 GRT, built 1929), Glenpark (British, 5136 GRT, built 1939), Gold Shell (British (tanker), 8208 GRT, built 1931), Harpasa (British, 5082 GRT, built 1934), Hjalmar Wessel (British, 1742 GRT, built 1935), Hoogkerk (British, 5132 GRT, built 1911), Kerma (British, 4333 GRT, built 1928), Kingbury (British, 4898 GRT, built 1937), Lord Cochrane (British, 4157 GRT, built 1934), Lynton Grange (British, 5029 GRT, built 1937), Marita (Norwegian, 1931 GRT, built 1919), Meropi (Greek, 4181 GRT, built 1911), Norman Monarch (British, 4718 GRT, built 1937), O.A. Kundsen (Norwegian (tanker), 11007 GRT, built 1938), Ornefjell (British, 1334 GRT, built 1937), Peterston (British, 4680 GRT, built 1925), Petter (Norwegian (tanker), 9109 GRT, built 1935), River Afton (British, 5479 GRT, built 1935), Salamis (Norwegian (tanker), 8286 GRT, built 1939), Salvus (British, 4815 GRT, built 1928), Serbino (British, 4099 GRT, built 1919), Sir Ernest Cassel (British, 7739 GRT, built 1910), Sobo (British, 5353 GRT, built 1937), Somme (British, 5265 GRT, built 1919), South Wales (British, 5619 GRT, built 1929), Temple Yard (British, 5205 GRT, built 1937), Toward (British (rescue ship), 1571 GRT, built 1923), Trevorian (British, 4599 GRT, built 1920), Ulla (British, 1575 GRT, built 1930) and Warfield (British, 6070 GRT, built 1917).

[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 Comorin (Capt.(Retd.) J.I. Hallett, DSO, RN).

Around 1345N/3, the light cruiser HMS Kenya (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.M. Burrough, CB, RN) joined the convoy coming from Gibraltar.

Around 0700N/8, the destroyers HMCS Ottawa (Cdr. E.R. Mainguy, RCN), HMCS Assiniboine (A/Lt.Cdr. J.H. Stubbs, RCN), HMS Churchill (Cdr.(Retd.) G.R. Cousins, RN) and ORP Garland (Lt.Cdr. K.F. Namiesniowski) joined.

Around 1800N/9, the destroyers HMS Wanderer (Cdr. A.F.St.G. Orpen, RN), HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN), escort destroyer HMS Vivien (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Beattie, RN) and the corvettes HMS Nasturtium (Lt.Cdr. J.F.C. Bartley, DSC, RNR), HMS Periwinkle (Lt.Cdr. P.G. MacIver, RNR) and HMS Primrose (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) A. Ayre, RNR).

At 1915Z/9, HMS Kenya parted company with the convoy but she rejoined it at 2000A/10 after having been ordered to do so. While absent from the convoy HMS Kenya sighted and engaged a German Focke Wulf aircraft but it was not damaged and disappeared to the east.

At 2000A/11, HMS Kenya parted company with the convoy to proceed to Plymouth.

The convoy arrived in U.K. waters on 14 March 1941.

5 Mar 1941
The battlecruiser HMS Repulse (Capt. W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), armed merchant cruiser HMS Alcantara (Capt.(Retd.) J.G.P. Ingham, DSO, RN) and the troopships Strathmore (British, 23428 GRT, built 1935) departed Greenock for Gibraltar. They escorted by the destroyers HMCS Ottawa (Cdr. E.R. Mainguy, RCN), HMCS Assiniboine (A/Lt.Cdr. J.H. Stubbs, RCN), HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. R.L.S. Gaisford, RN) and HMS Churchill (Cdr.(Retd.) G.R. Cousins, RN).

On the 6th HMS Alcantara was detached as were all the destroyers.

Around 2200/8, the destroyers HMS Fearless (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN), HMS Foresight (Cdr. J.S.C. Salter, RN), HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN) and HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN) joined HMS Repulse, HMS Furious and the Strathmore to escort them to Gibraltar.

HMS Repulse and HMS Furious were however ordered to proceed at high speed to Gibraltar which they did escorted by HMS Foxhound. The other destroyers escorted the Strathmore to Gibraltar.

11 Sep 1941
HMS Truant (Lt.Cdr. H.A.V. Haggard, DSC, RN) conducted exercises off St. John's. These included practice attacks on HMS Churchill (Cdr.(Retd.) G.R. Cousins, RN). (2)

26 Feb 1942
HMS H 43 (Lt. R.B. Lakin, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Churchill (Cdr.(Retd.) G.R. Cousins, RN) and HMS Scimitar (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Franks, OBE, RN). (3)

15 May 1942
HMS H 28 (Lt. R.E. Boddington, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMCS Lethbridge (T/Lt. H Freeland, RCNR), HMCS Shawinigan (T/A/Lt.Cdr. C.P. Balfry, RCNR), HMCS Prescott (Lt. G.H. Davidson, RCN), HMS Churchill (Cdr.(Retd.) P.J. Fitzgerald, RN) and USS Saucy (Lt. A.J. Smith, USN). (4)

9 Jun 1942
HMS Churchill (Cdr. P.J. Fitzgerald, RN (retired)) picks up 3 survivors from the American tanker Franklin K. Lane that was torpedoed and damaged by German U-boat U-502 about 40 nautical miles north-north-east of La Guiara, Venezuela in position 11°12'N, 66°39'W. The destroyer also attacked the U-boat with 27 depth charges, picked up 47 survivors from the Belgian merchant Bruxelles that had been sunk in the same attack and later scuttled the drifting wreck of the tanker with gunfire.

13 Aug 1942
HMS Churchill (Cdr. P.J. Fitzgerald, RN (retired)) picks up 50 survivors from the American merchant Delmundo that was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-600 about 18 nautical miles south of Cape Maysi, Cuba in position 19°55'N, 73°49'W.

5 Apr 1943
HMS H 34 (Lt. J.P. Angell, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMCS Collingwood (Lt. D.W. Groos, RCN), HMCS Brandon (T/Lt. H.E. McArthur, RCNVR), HMS Churchill (Cdr.(Retd.) P.J. Fitzgerald, RN), HMCS Amherst (T/A/Lt.Cdr. L. de la C. Audette, RCNVR), HMS Landguard (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) T.S.L. Fox-Pitt, RN) and HMS Starwort (Lt. A.H. Kent, RNR). (5)

13 Aug 1943
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.A.R. Troup, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Churchill (Lt. A.C.D. Leach, RN) and HMCS Collingwood (T/A/Lt.Cdr. R.J.C. Pringle, RCNVR). (6)

14 Aug 1943
HMS P 511 (Lt. R.H. Bull, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle together with HMS Hotspur (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN) and HMS Churchill (Lt. A.C.D. Leach, RN). (7)

22 Jan 1944
HMS Unbending (Lt. J.D. Martin, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises in Lough Foyle with HMS Erne (Lt.Cdr. W.R. Hickey, RNR) and HMS Churchill (Lt. A.C.D. Leach, RN). (8)

23 Jan 1944
HMS H 44 (Lt. P.N. Joyce, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Mourne (Lt.Cdr. R.S. Holland, RD, RNR) and HMS Churchill (Lt. A.C.D. Leach, RN). (9)

26 Jan 1944
HMS H 34 (Lt. R.L. Jay, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Churchill (Lt. A.C.D. Leach, RN) and aircraft. (10)

27 Jan 1944
HMS H 34 (Lt. R.L. Jay, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Erne (Lt.Cdr. W.R. Hickey, RNR) and HMS Churchill (Lt. A.C.D. Leach, RN). (10)

Media links

British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman

Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.


  1. ADM 199/379
  2. ADM 173/17098
  3. ADM 173/17246
  4. ADM 173/17201
  5. ADM 173/17793
  6. ADM 173/17773
  7. ADM 173/17927
  8. ADM 173/19199
  9. ADM 173/17812
  10. ADM 173/18491

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

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