Crest of the V&W Destroyer AssociationCrest of the V&W Destroyer AssociationTHE V & W DESTROYER ASSOCIATION




The sixty-seven V & W Class destroyers built at the end of the ˜Great War" were the most advanced  in the world and arguably the most successful ever built. Although outdated by 1939 they were invaluable as convoy escorts during World War II but those which survived the war went to the breaker's yards soon after it ended. Within thirty years of the first V & W being launched not one remained afloat but during that time countless thousands of men served on them. You can see a clip of a V&W throwing its depth charges on U-tube at the start of a video of Royal Navy destroyers in World War II.

Blazer badge for V & W Destroyer AssociationRon Rendle with Vera LynneOver time ship associations became unsustainable as members "crossed the bar" and the V & W Destroyer Association was established by Stormy Fairweather (HMS Westcott) in 1993 to enable veterans who served on any of the V & W Class destroyers in World War II to keep in touch with former "shipmates".  HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, accepted an invitation to became the Patron of the V&W Destroyer Association. Prince Philip served on the V and W class destroyer and flotilla leader, HMS Wallace, from the 28 January 1942 until December 1943. He joined as a sub lieutenant, gained his second stripe on the 16 July and in October became first lieutenant, at 21 years of age one of the youngest in the Royal Navy. His Grace, the Duke of Buccleuch, who served on the lower deck of HMS Viceroy became President.

The inaugural meeting was held at the Union Jack Club in Waterloo, London, in 1993. About 60 veterans attended and sat with shipmates at tables assigned by ship names which made it easy to produce the first member's list arranged by the names of V & Ws. Ken Foster, a telegraphist in HMS Viceroy, was the first Welfare Officer of the Association and is one of the few veterans alive today who attended that inaugural meeting. "Stormy" edited the Association's magazine Hard Lying which came out yearly and a Newsletter was issued by the Secretary between the annual reunions which were held at hotels in venues selected by the veterans. A smart tie bearing the Association's logo of an anchor and a personalised blazer badge with the name of the wearer's V & W was produced (the tie can still be bought from Claire Rainer). The logo on the tie is at the top of every page in this website. Family members of men who had served in V & Ws could join as Associate Members and in time took on the posts of Secretary and Treasurer but did not have a vote.

Ken Foster described the first reunion at Yarmouth in 1995 and the holding of a memorial service in nearby Lowestoft for the men who died when HMS Votigern was torpedoed, the biggest loss of life on the East Coast Convoys. The naval museum was presented with Vortigern's ship's wheel. In 1997 the annual reunion was held at Worcester which had adopted HMS Worcester after a successful Warships Week in 1942. A painting of HMS Worcester by shipmate George Garwood (HMS Valorous) was presented to the Mayor at a Reception in the Lower Hall of the Guildhall where this photograph was taken on 8 June 1997. On Sunday the veterans followed the Mayor in procession through the City to the Cathedral  and filled half the choir stalls at the service. Worcester was also the start of a close relationship with the "Not Forgotten Association" which extended invitations to the garden parties at Buckingham Palace (where Ron Rendle met Vera Lynne, click on image on left) and Christmas Parties at St James Palace.

Reunion at Worcester in 1997
Veteran members of the V & W Destroyer Association with their wives at their reunion in the Guildhall at Worcester in June 1997
BIll Wedge (HMS Worcester), Ken Foster (HMS Viceroy), Ron Rendle (HMS Wishart) and "Stormy" Fairweather (HMS Westcott) John Appleby, Hon Secretary (HMS Vivien), Ted Dawson (HMS Witherington) and Eric Sidey (HMS Viceroy)
have been identified in the photograph and their stories are told on this website along with many others

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In 1998 the reunion was held at  the Westhill Hotel in Jersey which was owned by Bob Smale (HMS Westcott). The following year at Devonport, Plymouth, and in addition the Committee began to hold twice yearly committee meeting in London aboard HMS Belfast on the Thames. The Association returned to Jersey for its annual reunion in 2000 and in 2001 to Yarmouth where it met in 1996. Although the veterans decided where they wanted to meet the detailed plans were made by the Honorary Secretary, latterly Vic Green. The reunions took on a regular pattern with dinner on the Friday evening, the holding of the AGM at which officers were re-elected on the Saturday followed by dinner that evening. The holding of a raffle for prizes donated by members (Pussers rum was a popular choice) with the proceeds donated to an appropriate cause. There was a mystery coach excursion to a place of interest on the Sunday organised by David Brown, the Treasurer, and the members dispersed on the Monday but the highlight was always meeting old friends and comrades and reminiscing about past times.

"Stormy" Fairweather edited and published Hard Lying, the Association's magazine, named after the hard lying allowance paid to the men on the lower deck of the V & Ws for the hard conditions they endured, and a Newsletter was sent to members once or twice a year by the Secretary. In the early years it welcomed many new members as ship association were dissolved due to falling membership.  One ship association which did survive was that of the HMS Vesper Association which always met in Skipton, Yorkshire, the town which adopted Vesper after a successful National Warships Week in 1942 but today Barry Wright is believed to be "the last man standing" who served in HMS Vesper. At its peak the V & W Destroyer Association had over 200 members but as time went by and members crossed the bar the Newsletters announced more deaths of former members than names of new members.

On the 60th anniversary of the Channel Dash in 2002 the Association returned to Worcester for its reunion. In 2003 it was the turn of Coventry and then back down south to Eastbourne in 2004 and 2005 where Ted Dawson (HMS Witherington) lived. Eastbourne was the venue for the launch of  Hard Lying, a collection of articles written for the magazine by the veterans and republished as a book by "Stormy" Fairweather in 2005. From 2006-7 the reunions were held at Llandudno in North Wales, in 2008 at Coventry and in 2009 at Gillingham near Chatham, one of the Navy's three manning ports of "Guzz" (Devonport), "Pompey" (Portsmouth) and "Chats"(Chatham).

The first reunion of the V & W Destroyer Association I attended was at Derby in 2010. I am a retired academic publisher with my own small imprint and had joined the Association after postponing work on a book about my father's "Forty Years at Sea" to publish a new edition of Bob Moore's book about HMS Venomous, my father's wartime destroyer. Bob was the CO of TS Venomous, the Sea Cadet unit at Loughborough, and had self-published A Hard Fought Ship: the story of HMS Venomous, in 1990. Bob Moore accepted my offer to publish a new edition but died soon after his retirement in 2007 and Capt John Rodgaard USN took over as lead author. I held the first of three book launches for the new edition at the meeting of the V & W Destroyer Association at Derby in April with further "launches" held in Loughborough's Town Hall and the Royal Navy Museum in Portsmouth. I was impressed by the size of the turnout at Derby and enjoyed talking to men like Ron Rendle who had been torpedoed twice and served with "U-Boat killer" Capt Donald G.F.W. Macintyre RN, a former CO of Venomous.

I missed the next two meetings of the Association at Weston-Super-Mare (2011) and Sherringham (2012) but from then on was a regular attendee and started this website in 2014. The Association annual reunion in 2013 was at Warwick where the ensign flown by Rear Admiral Sir Roger Keyes from HMS Warwick, his flag ship for the raid on Zeebrugge in April 1918, hangs in St Mary's Church as a memorial to the 66 men who died when HMS Warwick was torpedoed in 1944.

The reunion at Eastbourne in April 2014 was held in a hotel on the promenade on a beautiful sunny weekend. There were nine veterans, two in their nineties, and 25 associate members whose fathers or grandfathers had served on a V & W destroyer. Many of the veterans had a new medal, the Arctic Medal, announced last year 70 years after the war was won. The Association was only 21 years old but its members were much older and without the veterans would cease to exist. I proposed the establishment of a website to see that the V & Ws and the memories of the men who served in them would not be forgotten when the members had all "crossed the bar". The Committee backed this proposal and decided the money raised at the raffle that evening would fund registering the domain name and renting web space. The stories told by members in  Hard Lying, and published  in his book of the same name, would be at the heart of the web site but men and women in the furthest corners of the world could contribute their own stories and photographs of the ships in which members of their families served. The newsletter and the annual reunions would continue as before. In September Peter Scott and Frank Witton boarded the Wanda at Hampton Court for the annual cruise along the thames to Weybridge of The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships.

The reunion was held at the Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate in March 2015 but only five veterans were able to attend. Ron Rendle (HMS Wishart) took the Chair at the AGM as the Chairman, Clifford Fairweather was unable to be there. Bill Forster read out the message from Prince Philip (see below), demonstrated the web site and asked for volunteer to research the ships. Bill recorded an interview with John Waters who served in HMS Wakeful, the battleship HMS Warspiteand Landing Ship Tank (LST) 9. Bill has recorded interviews with seven veterans and these can be heard online over the Internet via the web site.

Thirty five members and Associate Members met in April 2016 at St Ives, an attractive market town on the River Ouse twelve miles from Cambridge. The "mystery" coach tour on the Sunday went to Ely cathedral and Kings Lynne at the mouth of the Great Ouse but some members traveled to Cambridge on the longest guided "Busway" in the world along a former rail line. Peter Scott, Clifford Fairweather and Albert Foulser have been appointed to the rank of Chevalier in the Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur in recognition of their involvement in the liberation of France during the second world war. You can listen to "Stormy" describe his time on HMS Westcott during the D-Day landings in Normandy and  Peter Scott describe his time as a Navy telegraphist on Gold Beach during the D-Day landings in interviews recorded at previous reunions of the V & W Destroyer Association. In Stormy's absence 96 year old Ron Rendle presided at the AGM.

Bill Forster, Holywell House Publishing

THE TRADITIONAL PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE VETERANS ATTENDING THEIR ANNUAL REUNIONS

Reunion at Yarmouth 1996 - the Ladies
The reunion at  Yarmouth in 1996
Ken Foster (HMS Viceroy) insisted that the ladies ought to have a photograph as the veterans owed so much to them
Ken's wife Alma is on the right

Warwick 2013V & W Reunion at Warwick in 2013
Front: John Waters (HMS Wakeful), Ron Rendle (HMS Wishart),  "Stormy" Fairweather (HMS Westcott),
Mick Baron (HMS Westminster) Back: Dick Fernside (guest), Peter Scott (HMS Wolfhound),
Frank Witton (HMS Woolston)

Eastbourne 2014Eastbourne 2014
From left: Dick Fernside (guest), Ron Rendle (HMS Wishart),  Bill Perks (HMS Walker ), Peter Scott (HMS Wolfhound), Mick Baron (HMS Westminster), Frank Witton (HMS Woolston), "Stormy" Fairweather (HMS Westcott), John Waters (HMS Wakeful), Albert Foulser (HMS Walker)

Harrogate 2015

Annual Reunion at Harrogate
From left: Peter Scott (HMS Wolfhound), Mick Barron (HMS Westminster), Ron Rendle (HMS Wishart),
John Waters (HMS Wakeful) and Frank Witton (HMS Woolston)

St Ives 2016

The veterans who met at St Ives near Cambridge in 2016
From left: John Waters (HMS Wakeful), Ron Rendle (HMS Wishart), Albert Foulser (HMS Walker), Peter Scott  (HMS Wolfhound), Frank Witton (HMS Woolston) and Mike Baron (HMS Westminster)

Double click on a photograph to enlarge and view full size

The Committee

Chairman: Clifford "Stormy" Fairweather
No successor was appointed when "Stormy" Fairweather (HMS Westcott) died on 19 March 2017 and the Association was dissolved at its meeting in Derby in April

Hon. Treasurer: David Brown - Associate Member, son of  LS Jim Brown (HMS Versatile)
David Brown took over as Treasurer from Doug Lochead (HMS Wishart) in 2009
when he "stepped down" in his late eighties.
117 Broadfield, Harlow, Essex CM20 3PX.  Telephone: 01279-436534  E-mail: djbdgmharlow@talktalk.net

Hon. Secretary: Vic Green - Associate Member, son of "Wireman" Vic Green (HMS Worcester)
Vic Green took over as Hon  Secretary on the death of
John Appleby (HMS Vivien) in 2011
45 Burton Road, Streethay, Lichfield, Staffs WS13 8LR,  Telephone: 01543-251446  E-mail: 1943grumpy@gmail.com

Committee Members: Ron Rendle and Ted Dawson
Ron Rendle (HMS Wishart) died on 23 December 2017 and Ted Dawson (HMS Witherington) in 2018


The final meeting of the V & W Destroyer Association

Derby, Friday April 7th to Monday April 10th 2017

Clifford "Stormy" Fairweather, founder and Chairman of the V & W Destroyer Association, died on Sunday 19 March 2017. He had been unable to attend the annual meetings of the Association since the reunion at Eastbourne in 2014. Stormy served as a "bunting tosser" on HMS Westcott and you can read his wartime story on the HMS Westcott website

Only three veterans were able to attend the reunion of the V & W Destroyer Association at Derby on 7 - 10 April 2017 and the decision was taken to dissolve the Association and dispose of its funds. The website of the V & W Destroyer Association will see that the V & Ws and  the thousands of men who served in them will not be forgotten. The funds of the Association were donated to the Sea Cadet Units with a Training Ship named after a V & W Class destroyer and to the Not Forgotten Association. Provision was also made for the hire of web space for the website of the V & W Destroyer Association for the next ten years. Frank Witton and Peter Scott attended the launch of a 3rd Edition of A Hard Fought Ship hosted by Rear Admiral John Kingwell CBE at the Royal College of Defence Studies on 9 May 2017.

While supplies last veterans and their families can still obtain the Association's tie with its distinctive emblem which appears at the top of each page on this website. They can be bought for £3-50 post free from Claire Rainer, the grand daughter of Tommy Vann, a founder member of the Association who served in HMS Windsor (click on her name to e-mail a request for details or to place an order).

The three veterans at the final reunion
The Final Reunion at Derby in 2017
From left to right at top: Peter Scott, John Waters and Frank Witton with their wives
The only one alive today is Frank Witton but the oldest former member of the V & W Destroyer Association is 105 year old Lt Cdr John E. Manners RN
Click on their names to read their stories and hear them describe in their own words what it was like to live and fight on a V & W Class destroyer
Courtesy of Sue Green

The web site of the V & W Destroyer Association

In April 2014 at its reunion in Eastbourne the V & W Destroyer Association decided to develop a web site to see that the wartime service of the men who served on the V & Ws will "not be forgotten". The web site is being built around their own stories published over the last twenty years in the Association's magazine, Hard Lying, and in the book of the same name edited and published by Clifford Fairweather in 2005 which is now out of print. The ships on which members, past and present, once served will sail though time and space on the waves of the world wide web long after we have all crossed the bar.

The web site is arranged by the names of the ships and men and women in the furthest corners of the world will be able to read about the ships on which a member of their family once served and contribute their own memories, stories and photographs. The first step was to create an alphabetical list of the 67 V & W Class destroyers which will link to pages about each destroyer; the web site about HMS Woolston illustrates the approach.

All the veterans who have attended the annual reunion's of the Association since 2013 have been interviewed by Bill Forster and given copies on a CD for their families.  These recordings can also  be listened to online from this web site. Copies have also been donated to the Imperial War Museum for adding to their Sound Collection. Click here to view a list of recorded interviews with veterans who served on V & W destroyers and to hear them online.

Bill is looking for volunteers to help him add new material about the V & W on which a family member served - get in touch if you would like to know more.

Prince Philip gave his support to the development of the web site in this message which was read out to the members of the Association
at their annual reunion at Harrogate on the 21 March 2015.


The V & W Destroyer Association's website is part of The British Library's  "Open UK Web Archive" on the Wayback Machine
The V & Ws will continue to sail throuugh time and space on the World Wide Web keeping memories alive for future generations


Tell your family's stories of your V & W on this website

Now that the V & W Destroyer Association has been dissolved it is no longer possible for the families of men who served in a V & W to join as Associate Members and find out first hand what it was like to live and fight in the cramped quarters of one of the most famous and successful classes of destroyers ever built by talking to veterans at the annual reunion of the Association. But you can look up the names of the V & W in which your father or grandfather served in the ship index and read the stories told by the men who served in her.

And if you have a family story - or photographs - to pass on you can get in touch to enquire about publishing them on the website.


Editors are needed to research the ships in which their fathers and grandfathers served - a guide is available online
Please contact Bill Forster if you are willing to help research the V & W Class destroyer in which a member of your family served


If you have stories or photographs about a V & W destroyer you would like to contribute to the web site please contact Bill Forster

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Go to to the Index Page for the 67 V & W Class Destroyers
If you have stories or photographs you would like to contribute to the web site please contact Bill Forster or Vic Green