Allied Warships

HMS Witherington (D 76)

Destroyer of the Admiralty Modified W class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassAdmiralty Modified W 
PennantD 76 
ModShort range escort 
Built byJ.S. White & Co. (Cowes, U.K.) 
OrderedApr 1918 
Laid down27 Sep 1918 
Launched16 Jan 1919 
Commissioned10 Oct 1919 
End service 
History

HMS Witherington is not listed as an active unit in the October 1944 Navy List

Sold to Metal Idustries for breaking up on 20 March 1947. On the 29th April 1947, whilst under tow to the breakers yard at Charlestown, near Rosyth, Scotland, she broke the tow and was wrecked.

The wreck can be dived and lies on the south side of South Shields pier. As you turn south at the pier end turn immediately west. Travelling west alongside the pier you will see some concrete blocks, one of these has what looks like a monkey's face on it, anchor about 10m off this rock. Depth is about 7m. Watch out for fishing line and strong currents.

 

Commands listed for HMS Witherington (D 76)

Please note that we're still working on this section.

CommanderFromTo
1Lt.Cdr. Geoffrey Cecil Fryer, RN31 Jul 19394 Dec 1939
2Lt.Cdr. Jack Barrington Palmer, RN4 Dec 1939Apr 1941
3Lt. William Edward Cranston Fairchild, RNApr 194123 Oct 1941
4Lt. Richard Horncastle, RN23 Oct 1941Aug 1942
5Cdr. Charles Graham Thompson, OBE, RNAug 19422 Oct 1942
6Lt.Cdr. Marcus Henry Reginald Crichton, RN2 Oct 194219 May 1943
7Lt.Cdr. Robert Basil Stewart Tennant, RN19 May 1943mid 1944

You can help improve our commands section
Click here to Submit events/comments/updates for this vessel.
Please use this if you spot mistakes or want to improve this ships page.

Notable events involving Witherington include:


5 Sep 1939
A convoy of eleven passenger liners departed the U.K. for destinations in the Atlantic or Mediterranean (or Far East via the Mediterranean).

The convoy was assembled off the Clyde and was made up of the passenger liners / merchant vessels; Britannic (British, 26943 GRT, built 1930), Clan Ferguson (British, 7347 GRT, built 1938), Duchess of Bedford (British, 20123 GRT, built 1928), Durban Castle (British, 17388 GRT, built 1938), Montcalm (British, 16418 GRT, built 1921), Orcades (British, 23456 GRT, built 1937), Orford (British, 19941 GRT, built 1928), Orion (British, 23371 GRT, built 1935), Reina del Pacifico (British, 17702 GRT, built 1931), Scythia (British, 19761 GRT, built 1920) and Strathaird (British, 22281 GRT, built 1932).

On assembly the convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Vivacious (Cdr. C.R.L. Parry, RN), HMS Vanessa (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Plumer, RN), HMS Vanquisher (Lt.Cdr. K.H. Fraser, RN), HMS Wakeful (Cdr. R.St.V. Sherbrooke, RN) as well as HMS Verity (Lt.Cdr. A.R.M. Black, RN), HMS Volunteer (Lt.Cdr. H. Gartside-Tippinge, RN), HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. G.C. Fryer, RN) and HMS Wolverine (Cdr. R.C. Gordon, RN).

Arond 2300A/5, the battleship HMS Ramillies (Capt. H.T. Baillie-Grohman, OBE, DSO, RN) departed Portland escorted by the destroyers HMS Exmouth (Cdr. R.S. Benson, RN) and HMS Escapade (Cdr. H.R. Graham, RN). They were joined around 0530A/6 by the destroyers HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Woodhall, RN) and HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) which had come from Plymouth.

Around 1845A/6, HMS Ramillies and her four escorting destroyers joined the convoy after which HMS Vivacious, HMS Vanessa, HMS Witherington and HMS Wolverine parted company. After conducting an A/S sweep astern of the convoy they proceeded to Plymouth where they arrived around noon on the 7th.

Around 1100A/8, HMS Verity, HMS Volunteer, HMS Witherington and HMS Wolverine parted company with the convoy to proceed to Milford Haven where they arrived in the morning of September 10th.

Late in the morning of September 10th, the French destroyers Le Fortune (Cdr. C.M.L. D'Hespel), La Railleuse (Lt.Cdr. J.E.C. Hourcade) and Simoun (Lt.Cdr. F. Hainguerlot) which had departed Gibraltar around 0810A/9, joined the convoy.

Around 1850A/10, the French destroyer Simoun was sent to Gibraltar with despatches. She arrived there around 0710A/11.

Around noon on the 11th, off Gibraltar, the British light cruiser HMS Galatea (Capt. E.G.H. Bellars, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.C. Tovey, CB, DSO, RN) and the French destroyers Tramontaine (Cdr. R.M.J.A. Renault), Tornade (Lt.Cdr. R.G.A. Labat) and Typhon (Lt.Cdr. Y.M.J. Le Hagre).

HMS Ramillies, and the French destroyers Le Fortune and La Railleuse then proceeded to Gibraltar as did the liner Scythia. Apparently the French destroyers, including Simoun, later proceeded again to rejoin the convoy.

HMS Exmouth, HMS Eclipse, HMS Encounter and HMS Escapade most likely detached from the convoy on 12 September as they arrived at Gibraltar on the 14th via Oran.

The French destroyers were relieved near Malta on 14 September 1939 by the destroyers HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.R. Marshall-A'Deane, RN) and HMS Glowworm (Lt.Cdr. G.B. Roope, RN). Also a French convoy (L 2), made up of the merchant vessels Sphinx (French, 11375 GRT, built 1915) and Ville de Strasbourg (French, 7007 GRT, built 1920), which had departed Marseilles on 12 September, joined the convoy for onward passage to Beirut. This French convoy had probably been escorted by the destroyers Maille Breze (Cdr. H.M.E.A. Glotin), Cassard (Cdr. R.A.A. Braxmeyer) and Kersaint (Cdr. G.R.J. Rebuffel) which apparently also joined the convoy. The Durban Castle also detached off Malta at 1000B/14 and entered Valetta.

Around 1600B/15 the Clan Ferguson parted company. She was carrying important stores for Istanbul, Turkey. She was escorted by the destroyer HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN).

At 0700B/16, the Britannic, Duchess of Bedford, Montcalm, Reina del Pacifico and Strathaird were detached to Port Said.

the Orcades, Orford and Orion arrived at Alexandria in the evening of the 16th. HMS Galatea did not enter but went to the west to make rendezvous with the destroyers HMS Griffin and HMS Garland of which the former was towing the later after she had been damaged by her own depth charges.

7 Oct 1939
Around 1100A/7, the battleships HMS Resolution (Capt. C.H. Knox-Little, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral L.E. Holland, CB, RN), HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) and the destroyers HMS Wolverine (Cdr. R.C. Gordon, RN), HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. G.C. Fryer, RN), HMS Volunteer (Lt.Cdr. H. Gartside-Tippinge, RN) and HMS Verity (Lt.Cdr. A.R.M. Black, RN) departed Portland for Halifax, Nova Scotia. Both battleships had silver on board for safe storage in Canada.

Around 1645A/7, the light cruisers HMS Emerald (Capt. A.W.S. Agar, VC, DSO, RN), HMS Enterprise (Capt. H.J. Egerton, RN), HMS Caradoc (Capt. E.W.L. Longley-Cook, RN) and the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. A.G. Talbot, RN) and HMS Ivanhoe (Cdr. B. Jones, RN), departed Plymouth. Both E-class cruiser had gold bullion on board for safe storage in Canada.

Around 1900A/7 both forces made rendezvous.

The destroyers parted company around 1930A/8.

They arrived at Halifax on the 16th and were escorted into port by the destroyers HMCS Fraser (Cdr. W.B. Creery, RCN) and HMCS St. Laurent (Lt.Cdr. H.G. de Wolf, RCN) which had joined around 0630Q/16. (1)

11 Apr 1940

Convoy NP 1.

This troop convoy departed the Clyde on 11 April 1940 for Harstad, Norway. In the end the convoy was split up and one part arrived at Harstad on 15 April. The other part arrived off Namsos on 16 April.

It was made up of the troopships Empress of Australia (British, 21833 GRT, built 1914), Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931) and Reina del Pacifico (British, 17702 GRT, built 1931).

They were escorted by the destroyer HMS Amazon (Lt.Cdr. N.E.G. Roper, RN).

Early in the afternoon of 12 April the troopships Batory (Polish, 14387 GRT, built 1936) and Chrobry (Polish, 11442 GRT, built 1939) departed Scapa Flow to join convoy NP 1 at sea.

They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Highlander (Cdr. W.A. Dallmeyer, RN), HMS Vanoc (Lt.Cdr. J.G.W. Deneys, RN), HMS Volunteer (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Whirlwind (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Rodgers, RN) and HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN). The netlayer HMS Protector (Capt. W.Y la L. Beverley, RN) also departed Scapa Flow with these ships.

Around 1600/12, the light cruisers HMS Manchester (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral G. Layton, CB, DSO, RN) and HMS Birmingham (Capt. A.C.G. Madden, RN) departed Scapa Flow to join the convoy at sea which they did around 1945/12.

Shortly afterwards the convoy was also joined by the AA cruiser HMS Cairo (Capt. P.V. McLaughlin, RN) and the destroyers HMS Brazen (Lt.Cdr. M. Culme-Seymour, RN), HMS Fearless (Cdr. K.L. Harkness, RN) and HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, RN) which had sailed from Sullom Voe around 1130/12.

Late in the evening of 12 April repair ship HMS Vindictive (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Codrington (Capt. G.E. Creasy, MVO, RN), HMS Acasta (Cdr. C.E. Glasfurd, RN) and HMS Ardent (Lt.Cdr. J.F. Barker, RN) departed Scapa Flow to join the convoy which they did late in the afternoon of the 13th.

Coming south from a patrol off the Vestfjord area were the battleship HMS Valiant (Capt. H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN), battlecruiser HMS Repulse (Capt. E.J. Spooner, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN), HMS Javelin (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN) and HMS Juno (Cdr. W.E. Wilson, RN). These ships made rendez-vous with the convoy in the afternoon of the 13th after which HMS Repulse with the three J-class destroyers continued on towards Scapa Flow while HMS Valiant joined the convoy.

On April 14th it was decided that some of the troops were to be sent to Namsos and the convoy split up;

Troopships Chrobry and Empress of Australia escorted by the light cruisers HMS Manchester and HMS Birmingham, AA cruiser HMS Cairo and the destroyers HMS Highlander, HMS Vanoc and HMS Whirlwind split off late in the afternoon. This convoy arrived off Namsos early in the morning of the 16th.

The remainder of the ships; troopships Batory, Monarch of Bermuda, Reina del Pacifico, repair ship HMS Vindictive and netlayer HMS Protector with their escort made up of the battleship HMS Valiant and the destroyers HMS Codrington, HMS Amazon, HMS Acasta, HMS Ardent, HMS Brazen, HMS Fearless, HMS Griffin, HMS Volunteer and HMS Witherington arrived at Vaagsfjord late in the morning of the 15th. They had been escorted in by the light cruisers HMS Southampton (Capt. F.W.H. Jeans, CVO, RN) and HMS Aurora (Capt. L.H.K. Hamilton, DSO, RN).

17 Apr 1940
The empty troopships Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931) and Reina del Pacifico (British, 17702 GRT, built 1931) departed Vaagsfjord around 0300 hours to return to the U.K.

They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Amazon (Lt.Cdr. N.E.G. Roper, RN), HMS Volunteer (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN) and HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN).

They were escorted out until around 1530 hours by the light cruisers HMS Southampton (Capt. F.W.H. Jeans, CVO, RN). She remained out during the night patrolling north of the Lofoten. She returned to Harstad the following morning. (2)

6 May 1940

Convoy NS 2.

This convoy departed Greenock on 6 May 1940 and arrived in the Narvik area on 11 May 1940.

The convoy was made up of the following ships; Balzac (British, 5372 GRT, built 1920), Calumet (British, 7268 GRT, built 1923), Coxwold (British, 1124 GRT, built 1938) and Mashroba (British, 8324 GRT, built 1920).

Escort was provided by the British destroyers HMS Jackal (Cdr. T.M. Napier, RN) and HMS Javelin (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN) and the French destroyers Boulonnais (Capitaine de Corvette (Lt.Cdr.) J.C.F. Champion) and Brestois (Capitaine de Fregate (Cdr.) J.L.C. Kraft).

In the early hours of the 7th the transports Balzac and Coxwold ran aground south of Neist Light in the Little Minch. The Balzac was escorted by destroyer Brestois to Stornoway, arriving at 1330/7. Brestois then proceeded to Scapa Flow.

Coxwold proceeded to Scapa Flow escorted by Boulonnais and later also by Brestois. They arrived at 0630/8th, having being delayed by thick fog in the Pentland Firth.

At 0500/7 the transport Meta (British, 1578 GRT, built 1931) departed Scapa Flow to join the convoy at 1500/7. She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN) and HMS Wolverine (Cdr. R.H. Craske, RN).

On joining the convoy HMS Witherington was sent to Stornoway to provide A/S protection for the damaged transport Balzac. HMS Witherington arrived at Scapa Flow at 1300/9.

The important fuel stores shipped in the transport Coxwold were embarked on the British transport Ulster Monarch British, 3791 GRT, built 1929) which departed Scapa Flow at 2130/10 for Narvik. She was not escorted.

When the convoy arrived in the Narvik area HMS Jackal and HMS Javelin were ordered to return to Scapa Flow immediately. They departed the Narvik area for Scapa Flow at 0700/11. (3)

14 May 1940
Around 2100 hours, the aircraft carriers HMS Furious (Capt. T.H. Troubridge, RN) and HMS Glorious (Capt. G. D’Oyly-Hughes, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) departed the Clyde for operations off Norway. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Diana (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Veteran (Cdr. J.E. Broome, RN), HMS Viscount (Lt.Cdr. M.S. Townsend, OBE, RN) and HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN). HMS Witherington was however soon replaced by HMS Amazon (Lt.Cdr. N.E.G. Roper, RN).

6 Jun 1940

Evacuation of the 'Narvik / Harstad / Tromso area'.

1st troop evacuation convoy from Harstad.

From 4 to 6 June 1940 the troopships Batory (Polish, 14287 GRT, built 1936), Franconia (British, 20175 GRT, built 1923), Georgic (British, 27759 GRT, built 1932), Lancastria (British, 16243 GRT, built 1922), Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931) and Sobieski (Polish, 11030 GRT, built 1939) embarked almost 15000 troops in the Andfiord, near Harstad, Norway. They did this one by one and they were then escorted out to sea by the destroyer HMS Arrow (Cdr. H.W. Williams, RN) and sloop HMS Stork (Cdr. A.C. Behague, RN).

On completion of the embarkation of the troops of the last ships they departed on 6 June 1940 from the assembly point escorted by the repair ship HMS Vindictive (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, RN).

They were joined shortly after midnight on the 8th by the battleship HMS Valiant (Capt. H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Tartar (Capt. C. Caslon, RN), HMS Mashona (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, DSO, RN) and HMS Ashanti (Cdr. W.G. Davis, RN). These additional escorts parted company with the convoy late in the evening of the 8th after the destroyers HMS Viscount (Lt.Cdr. M.S. Townsend, OBE, RN), HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN), HMS Wolverine (Cdr. R.H. Craske, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. R.T. White, RN) and escort destroyer HMS Atherstone (Cdr. H.W.S. Browning, RN) had joined the convoy coming from Scapa Flow which they had departed around 2300/7.

The convoy arrived in the Clyde on 10 June 1940. (4)

15 Jul 1940
At 1348A/15, the light cruiser HMS Newcastle (Capt. J. Figgins, RN) and the destroyers HMS Mackay (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, RN), HMS Broke (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, RN), HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN), HMS Wolverine (Cdr. R.H. Craske, RN), HMS Hesperus (Lt.Cdr. D.G.F.W. MacIntyre, RN) and HMCS Restigouche (Lt.Cdr. H.N. Lay, RN) departed Plymouth to intercept ' suspicious ships ' reported at 0750A/15, in position 48°10'N, 07°30'W steering a course of 350°.

At 1701A/15, HMS Newcastle was ordered to detach HMS Mackay and HMS Broke to go to the aid of the bombed merchant vessel City of Limerick (British, 1959 GRT, built 1911) which had been bombed in position 48°39'N, 07°12'W. The City of Limerick could not be saved and later sank. While en-route the destroyers also encountered the small merchant vessel Alpha (Dutch, 347 GRT, built 1936) which had also been bombed but in position 48°51'N, 06°43'W. She had been abandoned but apparently was later salvaged.

At 1708A/15, HMS Newcastle was ordered to return to Plymouth with the four remaining destroyers. At 2000A/15, HMS Hesperus and HMCS Restigouche were detached to hunt a suspected enemy submarine off the Lizard. Two hours later they reported that no contact had been made.

HMS Newcastle, HMS Witherington and HMS Wolverine arrived back at Plymouth around 2245A/15. HMS Hesperus and HMCS Restigouche arrived around 0620A/16. HMS Mackay arrived back at Plymouth at 2140A/16 and HMS Broke at 1045A/17. (5)

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 (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 (5954 GRT, built 1935), Atreus (6547 GRT, built 1911), Bhutan (6104 GRT, built 1929), City of Canterbury (8331 GRT, built 1922), City of London (8956 GRT, built 1907), Delane ( GRT, built ), (Belgian) Elizabethville (8351 GRT, built 1922), Menelaus (10307 GRT, built 1923), Orbita (15495 GRT, built 1915), Settler (6202 GRT, built 1939) and Tamaroa (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;
(Dutch) Costa Rica (8055 GRT, built 1910), Ernebank (5388 GRT, built 1937), (Belgian) Leopoldville (11509 GRT, built 1929) and Neuralia (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 (6616 GRT, built 1921) and Stentor (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 (9653 GRT, built 1939), Essex (13655 GRT, built 1936) and Northern Prince (10917 GRT, built 1929).

On 19 December 1940 the following troop transports / transports departed from the Clyde;
Adviser (6348 GRT, built 1939), Arabistan (5874 GRT, built 1929), Barrister (6348 GRT, built 1939), Benrinnes (5410 GRT, built 1921), Clan Cumming (7264 GRT, built 1938), Empire Song (9228 GRT, built 1940) and Empire Trooper (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. (6)

7 Jan 1941

Convoy WS 5B

This convoy departed U.K. ports on 7 January 1941 for variuos ports in the Far East and Mediterranean (see below).

The convoy was made up of the following troop transports; Arundel Castle (British, 19118 GRT, built 1921), Athlone Castle (25564 GRT, built 1936), Britannic (British, 26943 GRT, built 1930), Capetown Castle (British, 27002 GRT, built 1938), Duchess of Bedford (British, 20123 GRT, built 1928), Duchess of Richmond (British, 20022 GRT, built 1928), Duchess of York (British, 20021 GRT, built 1929), Durban Castle (British, 17388 GRT, built 1938), Empress of Australia (British, 21833 GRT, built 1914), Empress of Japan (British, 26032 GRT, built 1930), Franconia (British, 20175 GRT, built 1923), Highland Chieftain (British, 14131 GRT, built 1929), Highland Princess (British, 14133 GRT, built 1930), Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931), Nea Hellas (British, 16991 GRT, built 1922), Orbita (British, 15495 GRT, built 1915), Ormonde (British, 14982 GRT, built 1917), Pennland (Dutch, 16082 GRT, built 1922), Samaria (British, 19597 GRT, built 1921), Winchester Castle (British, 20012 GRT, built 1930) and Windsor Castle (British, 19141 GRT, built 1922).

Four of these ships departed Avonmouth on 7 January and six sailed from Liverpool. These ships anchored in Moelfre Bay for several days as the eleven ships that were to be sailed from the Clyde could not do so due to thick fog.

The Avonmouth (Bristol Channel) section of the convoy had been escorted to Moelfre Bay by the destroyer HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. R.L.S. Gaisford, RN).

The Liverpool section was escorted to Moelfre Bay by the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia (Capt. R.R. Stewart, RN) and the destroyers HMS Harvester (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, DSC, RN), HMS Highlander (Cdr. W.A. Dallmeyer, DSO, RN) and HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN).

The ships and their escorts anchored in Moelfre Bay from 8 to 11 January. The escorts remained there for A/S patrol and AA protection and were joined by the destroyer HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN) which had departed Liverpool on the 8th and the light cruiser HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RN) which came from the Clyde.

When it became clear that the ships from the Clyde were finally able to sail the ships in Moelfre Bay sailed for Lough Foyle (near Londonderry, Northern Ireland) to take on board additional water.

The ships from Lough Foyle and the Clyde made rendez-vous at sea on 12 January and course was then set to Freetown.

The convoy was now escorted by the battleship HMS Ramillies (Capt. A.D. Read, RN), heavy cruiser HMAS Australia, light cruisers HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN), HMS Naiad, destroyers HMS Jackal (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Harvester, HMS Highlander, HMS Fearless (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN), HMS Beagle (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Wright, DSC, RN), HMS Witherington, HMS Watchman (Lt.Cdr. E.C.L. Day, RN), HMS Vansittart, HMS Lincoln (Cdr. A.M. Sheffield, RN), HMS Leamington (Cdr. W.E. Banks, DSC, RN) and Léopard (Lt.Cdr. J. Evenou).

On 14 January the destroyers HMS Witherington and FFS Leopard parted company.

The light cruiser HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN) departed Plymouth on 12 January. She joined the convoy around noon on the 15th. Shortly afterwards HMS Naiad then parted company with the convoy and proceeded to Scapa Flow where she arrrived around 1430/17.

HMS Phoebe and HMS Fearless also parted company with the convoy escorting the Capetown Castle and Monarch of Bermuda to Gibraltar where they arrived in the afternoon of the 18th. On the 17th they were joined by the destroyer HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN) and on the 18th by two more destroyers; HMS Duncan (A/Capt. A.D.B. James, RN) and HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN).

At Gibraltar the two troopships took on board troops from the damaged troopship Empire Trooper. They departed Gibraltar for Freetown on 19 January being escorted by the destroyers HMS Fury, HMS Fearless and HMS Duncan until 21 January when they parted company. Both troopships arrived at Freetown on 26 January escorted by HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN) and HMS Forester.

Meanwhile convoy WS 5B had coninued its passage southwards.

On the 16 January all remaining destroyers parted company.

HMS Ramillies parted company with the convoy on 17 January.

The troopship / liner Duchess of York was apparently detached at some point.

When approaching Freetown local A/S vessels started to join the convoy. On 21 January the corvettes HMS Asphodel (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) K.W. Stewart, RN) and HMS Calendula (Lt.Cdr. A.D. Bruford, RNVR) joined and the next day the destroyer HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN) also joined the convoy. Finally on 24 January the destroyer HMS Vidette (Lt. E.N. Walmsley, RN) also joined the convoy.

On 25 January 1941 the convoy arrived at Freetown escorted by HMAS Australia, HMS Emerald, HMS Velox, HMS Vidette, HMS Asphodel and HMS Calendula.

The convoy departed Freetown on 29 January with the addition of troop transport Cameronia (British, 16297 GRT, built 1920) still escorted by HMAS Australia and HMS Emerald. A local A/S force remained with the convoy until 1 February and was made up of the destroyers HMS Faulknor, HMS Forester, sloop HMS Milford (Capt.(Retd.) S.K. Smyth, RN) and the corvettes HMS Clematis (Cdr. Y.M. Cleeves, DSC, RD, RNR) and HMS Cyclamen (Lt. H.N. Lawson, RNR).

HMS Emerald arrived at Capetown on 8 February escorting Arundel Castle, Athlone Castle, Capetown Castle, Duchess of Bedford, Durban Castle, Empress of Australia, Empress of Japan, Monarch of Bermuda and Winchester Castle. The light cruiser then went to Simonstown.

HMAS Australia arrived at Durban on 11 February with Britannic, Cameronia, Duchess of Richmond, Franconia, Highland Chieftain, Highland Princess, Nea Hellas, Ormonde, Pennland, Samaria and Windsor Castle.

The Capetown section departed that place on 12 February and the Durban section on 15 February after which a rendez-vous of Durban was effected.

On 21 February the troopships Empress of Australia, Empress of Japan, Ormonde and Windsor Castle were detached to Mombasa escorted by HMS Emerald. They arrived at Mombasa on 22 February. In the approaches to Mombasa the convoy was joined by the destroyer HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN).

The remainder of the convoy continued on Suez escorted by HMS Australia and HMS Hawkins (Capt. H.P.K. Oram, RN) which joined the convoy shortly before HMS Emerald and the four troopships for Mombasa were detached, arriving on 3 March. The sloop HMAS Parramatta (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Walker, MVO, RAN) provided A/S escort during the passage through the Red Sea. The convoy arrived at Suez on 3 March 1941.

The 'Mombasa section' meanwhile departed there on 24 February as convoy WS 5X now escorted by light cruiser HMS Enterprise (Capt. J.C. Annesley, DSO, RN). On 27 February light cruiser HMS Capetown (Capt. P.H.G. James, RN) joined this convoy as additional escort. The convoy arrived at Bombay on 3 March 1941.

Convoy WS 5BX, now made up of the troopship Aquitania (British, 44786 GRT, built 1914) and Empress of Japan, departed Bombay for Singapore on 5 March escorted by HMS Enterprise. The convoy was joined on 8 March by the light cruiser HMS Durban (Capt. J.A.S. Eccles, RN). HMS Enterprise left the convoy on 9 March. The convoy arrived at Singapore on 11 March. HMS Durban had parted company with the convoy the day before.

11 Mar 1941
HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN) was damaged by German bombing at Portsmouth, she was beached to prevent her from sinking. Repairs took over 5 months to complete.

23 Nov 1941
HMS H 34 (Lt. W.A. Phillimore, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle together with HMS Witherington (Lt. R. Horncastle, RN) and HNoMS Bodo. (7)

24 Nov 1941
HMS H 34 (Lt. W.A. Phillimore, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle together with HMS Witherington (Lt. R. Horncastle, RN). (7)

25 Nov 1941
HMS H 34 (Lt. W.A. Phillimore, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle together with HMS Witherington (Lt. R. Horncastle, RN) and aircraft. (7)

20 Dec 1941
Around 1500/20, HMS Renown (Capt. C.S. Daniel, CBE, DSO, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Hvalfjord, Iceland. She is escorted by HMS Montrose (Lt.Cdr. W.J. Phipps, OBE, RN), HMS Worcester (Lt.Cdr. E.C. Coats, RN) and HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. G.P. Huddart, RN).

At 1600/21, rendezvous was made with HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN) coming from Hvalfjord bound for Scapa Flow. escorted by HMS Verity (Cdr. R.H. Mills, RN), HMS Walker (Cdr. D.G.F.W. MacIntyre, DSO, RN) and HMS Witherington (Lt. R. Horncastle, RN). They had departed from Hvalfjord at 1230/20. Destroyers were then swapped.

HMS Renown, HMS Verity, HMS Walker and HMS Witherington arrived at Hvalfjord around 1330/22.

HMS Rodney, HMS Montrose, HMS Worcester and HMS Forester arrived at Scapa Flow around 1230/22. (8)

16 Feb 1942

Convoy WS 16.

This convoy departed the Clyde on 16 February 1942 and arrived at Freetown on 1 March 1942.

The convoy was made up of the troopships / transports; Awatea (British, 13482 GRT, built 1936), Bergensfjord (British, 11015 GRT, built 1913), Brisbane Star (British, 12791 GRT, built 1937), City of Edinburgh (British, 8036 GRT, built 1938), City of Lincoln (British, 8039 GRT, built 1938), Cuba (British, 11420 GRT, built 1923), Delftdijk (British, 10220 GRT, built 1929), Denbighshire (British, 8983 GRT, built 1938), Duchess of Richmond (British, 20022 GRT, built 1928), Duchess of York (British, 20021 GRT, built 1929), Empire Pride (British, 9248 GRT, built 1941), Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931), Mooltan (British, 20952 GRT, built 1923), Nea Hellas (British, 16991 GRT, built 1922), Ormonde (British, 14982 GRT, built 1917), Port Jackson (British, 9687 GRT, built 1937), Potaro (British, 5410 GRT, built 1940), Sibajak (Dutch, 12226 GRT, built 1927), Strathaird (British, 22281 GRT, built 1932), Stratheden (British, 23722 GRT, built 1937) and Volendam (Dutch, 15434 GRT, built 1922).

The Straithaid was unable to sail with the convoy and joined at sea on 21 February 1942.

On departure from the Clyde the convoy was escorted by the battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Formidable (Capt. A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN), HMS Eagle (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. H.G. Walters, DSC, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Duncan (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN), HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN), HMS Verity (Cdr. R.H. Mills, RN), HMS Walker (Cdr. D.G.F.W. MacIntyre, DSO, RN), HMS Witherington (Lt. R. Horncastle, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSC, RN) and HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, DSO, RN).

Between 1300/18 and 1500/18 the transports City of Edinburgh, City of Lincoln and Potaro reported that their cargo had shifted. The Potaro was able to continue but was ordered to proceed to Freetown independently. The other two ships had to return to the U.K.

At 0920/20 the destroyer HMS Anthony left the convoy to proceed to the Azores with condensor trouble.

At 1800/20 HMS Panther was detached to fuel at the Azores and then rejoin the convoy.

At 1300/21 the light cruiser HMS Newcastle (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN) and destroyer HMS Paladin (Cdr. A.D. Pugsley, RN) joined the convoy. They had the troopship Strathaird with them. They had departed from the Clyde on 18 February 1942.

At 0800/21 HMS Croome was detached to Gibraltar.

At 1530/21 HMS Malaya, HMS Eagle, HMS Hermione, HMS Laforey, HMS Lightning, HMS Duncan, HMS Active and HMS Blankney were detached to Gibraltar.

At 1600/21 HMS Paladin was detached to the Azores to refuel after which she was to rejoin the convoy.

At 1800/21 HMS Firedrake was detached. She was to return to the U.K independently.

At 1800/22 HMS Verity, HMS Walker and HMS Witherington were detached to the Azores where they were to fuel after which they were to proceed to Halifax.

At 1600/23 HMS Paladin rejoined the convoy. HMS Panther had sailed from the Azores before her but apparently she was unable to find the convoy. Eventually she joined in the evening.

At 0905/26 the destroyers HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Poe, RN) and HMS Wild Swan (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, RN) joined the convoy coming from Bathurst.

The convoy arrived safely at Freetown in the morning of 1 March 1942 escorted by HMS Formidable, HMS Newcastle, HMS Paladin, HMS Panther, HMS Boreas, HMS Brilliant and HMS Wild Swan.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The same ships departed Freetown on 6 March 1942 for South Africa.

Escort was provided by the light cruiser HMS Newcastle, destroyers Brilliant, Wild Swan, sloop HMS Bridgewater (A/Cdr.(Retd.) H.F.G. Leftwich, RN) and the corvettes HMS Jasmine (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) C.D.B. Coventry, RNR) and HMS Nigella (T/Lt. L.J. Simpson, RNR).

Before deparure of the convoy HMS Newcastle conducted gunnery exercises and the A/S escorts conducted an A/S sweep off Freetown returning to meet the convoy off the boom.

At 2100Z/6, HMS Nigella was detached due to engine trouble. After repairs she was to proceed to St. Helena to fuel.

In the morning of 8 March 1942 HMS Newcastle attempted to fuel HMS Bridgewater but owning to the swell this was not possible.

At 0930Z/8, in position 01°46'N, 17°52'W, HMS Brilliant and HMS Wild Swan were detached to return to Freetown.

On 9 March 1942 further attempts were made to fuel HMS Bridgewater and some fuel was transferred.

In the afternoon of 12 March 1942 HMS Newcastle was able to fully fuel HMS Bridgewater. After dark, at 1930Z/12, HMS Jasmine was detached in position 15°44'S, 04°27'W to fuel at St. Helena.

At 1600Z/17, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Dunnottar Castle (Capt.(Retd.) C.T.A. Bunbury, RN) and the sloop HMS Milford (Cdr.(Retd.) the Hon. V.M. Wyndham-Quin, RN) joined the convoy in position 33°13'S, 16°06'E. These ships had departed Capetown at 0520Z/17. Shortly afterwards, the Capetown section, made up of; Bergensfjord, Brisbane Star, Delftdijk, Denbighshire, Nea Hellas, Port Jackson, Potaro, Sibajak, escorted by HMS Newcastle and HMS Milford splít off. The Capetown section arrived there around 0900Z/18. HMS Milford split off shortly before the convoy arrived and proceeded to Simonstown arriving there at 1410Z/18.

The Durban section, made up of the Awatea, Cuba, Duchess of Richmond, Dutchess of York, Empire Pride, Monarch of Bermuda, Mooltan, Ormonde, Strathaird, Stratheden and Volendam continued on now escorted by HMS Dunnotar Castle and HMS Bridgewater.

At 0400Z/18, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Cheshire (Capt.(Retd.) J.M. Begg, RN) and the corvettes HMS Freesia (T/Lt. R.A. Cherry, RNR) and HMS Fritillary (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Barker, RD, RNR) joined the Durban section of the convoy in position 34°55'S, 18°08'E. They had departed Capetown at 1715Z/17.

At 0630Z/18, in position 35°19'S, 18°55'E, HMS Bridgewater parted company to proceed to Simonstown where she arrived at 1156Z/18.

At 1300A/18, in position 35°57'S, 19°36'E, HMS Freesia and HMS Fritillary parted company. They arrived at Capetown at 0620Z/19.

The Durban section of the convoy arrived off Durban at 0800Z/21. The transports then entered harbour. HMS Cheshire and HMS Dunnotar Castle did not enter the harbour but set course to return to Capetown.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The sloop HMS Milford departed Simonstown at 0500Z on 22 April 1942 to make rendezvous with the Capetown position of the convoy in Table Bay at 1000Z/22.

On departure the convoy was also briefly escorted by HMS Jasmine and HMS Fritillary. These corvettes returned to Capetown at 1150Z/22.

At 0800Z/22, HMS Newcastle departed from Simonstown to make rendezvous with the Capetown section of the convoy.

At 1330Z/25, the Capetown section made rendezvous in position 33°30'S, 31°22'E with the Durban section of the convoy, now made up of the Awatea, Duchess of Richmond, Duchess of York, Empire Pride, Stratheden and Volendam, which had departed Durban at 1000Z/25 escorted by the light cruiser HMS Glasgow (Capt. H. Hickling, RN) and the armed merchant cruiser HMS Worcestershire (A/Capt.(Retd.) E.H. Hopkinson, RN). HMS Milford by that time was no longer with the convoy as she arrived at Simonstown at 1300Z/26. HMS Newcastle parted company with the convoy at 2200Z/25 in position 30°03'S, 33°08'E and proceeded to Durban for repairs arriving there at 0548Z/26.

At 0245Z on 1 April 1942 the light cruiser HMS Colombo (Capt. C.C.A. Allen, RN) and armed merchant cruiser HMS Alaunia (Capt.(Retd.) E.N. Kershaw, RN) joined in position 01°38'S, 44°52'E.

At 1800Z/2, HMS Colombo split off in position 04°49'N, 50°00'E with the Aden section of the convoy which was made up of the Bergensfjord, Nea Hellas and Volendam. This section of the convoy was dispersed off Aden on 6 April 1942.

The remainder of the convoy continued on to Bombay escorted by HMS Alaunia and HMS HMS Worcestershire. It arrived at Bombay on 8 April 1942. (9)

23 Mar 1942
HMS Witherington (Lt. R. Horncastle, RN) picks up 47 survivors from the British tanker British Prudence that was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-754 north-east of Halifax in position 45°28'N, 56°13'W.

28 Jul 1942
HMS Witherington picks up 12 survivors from the American fishing vessel Ebb that was sunk by gunfire from German U-boat U-754 45 nautical miles south-east of Cape Sable, Nova Scotia, Canada in position 43°18'N, 63°50'W.

14 Jun 1943
HMS H 33 (Lt. J.A. Spender, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Amazon (Lt.Cdr. D.H.P. Gardiner, DSC, RN), HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. R.B.S. Tennant, RN), HMS Folkestone (Cdr.(Retd.) J.G.C. Gibson, OBE, RN) and HMS Mansfield (Lt.Cdr. L.C. Hill, OBE, RNR). (10)

15 Jun 1943
HMS H 33 (Lt. J.A. Spender, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Amazon (Lt.Cdr. D.H.P. Gardiner, DSC, RN), HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. R.B.S. Tennant, RN), HMS Folkestone (Cdr.(Retd.) J.G.C. Gibson, OBE, RN) and HMS Teviot (Lt.Cdr. T. Taylor, DSC, RN). (10)

2 Nov 1943
German U-boat U-340 was sunk at 0430hrs on 2 November 1943 near Tangier, in position 35°33'N, 06°37'W, by depth charges from the British sloop HMS Fleetwood (Cdr. W.B. Piggott, DSC, RD, RNR) and the British destroyers HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. P.G. Merriman, DSC, RN) and HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. R.B.S. Tennant, RN) and by depth charges from a British Wellington aircraft (Sqdn. 179/R).

Media links


British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

Sources

  1. ADM 53/107952
  2. ADM 53/113251
  3. ADM 199/376
  4. ADM 199/361 + ADM 199/376
  5. ADM 53/112886 + ADM 199/371
  6. ADM 199/1136
  7. ADM 173/16766
  8. ADM 53/114974 + ADM 53/115033
  9. ADM 199/653 + ADM 199/1211
  10. ADM 173/17783

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


Return to the Allied Warships section



As an Amazon Associate uboat.net earns a commission from qualifying purchases.