Crest of the V&W Destroyer AssociationCrest of the V&W Destroyer AssociationHMS VALENTINE

HMS Valentine between the wars before her WAIR conversion to an annti-aircraft escort in 1939 - 40

It seems inappropriate to name a "destroyer" after Saint Valentine who is best known for the sending of Valentine Cards on his Saint's Day, the 14th February, but the young officers in the Wardroom referred to themselves as "the Valentines" and led an active social life. HMS Valentine was laid down at Cammell Laird's shipyard in Birkenhead on 7 August 1916, was launched on 24 March 1917 and completed on 27 June 1917. She was one  of five Class Leaders ordered at that that time capable of accommodating the additional staff required to command the destroyer flotilla.

On completion, Valentine served with the Grand Fleet with the 13th Destroyer Flotilla and the 6th Light Cruiser Squadron. In October 1917, Valentine was part of an elaborate anti-submarine operation to drive German U-boats returning to port from operations into a several miles long array of mine nets. Valentine was one of six destroyers  escorting the drifters deploying the nets. The operation lasted for 10 days, and British Intelligence believed three U-boats were sunk but they were almost certainly lost in other mine-fields. Later that month, Valentine formed part of the destroyer escort to the 6th Light Cruiser Squadron in an attack on German minesweepers in the Heligoland Bight which resulted in  the inconclusive Second Battle of Heligoland Bight. In 1919, Valentine was deployed to the Baltic Sea and helped secure the independence of the Baltic states.

Post-war, Valentine formed part of the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla, first as part of the Atlantic Fleet and later as part of the Mediterranean Fleet. Valentine was one of the destroyers to undergo the Wair conversion into anti-aircraft escort at Devonport Dockyard, Plymouth between June 1939 and 23 April 1940 when her pennant number changed from D49 to L69.

Her new High Aspect (HA) twin 4-inch guns could not save her when she was attacked by a JU bomber at the mouth of the River Scheldt less than a month later.
This brief account of the loss of HMS Valentine is based on extracts from the Admiralty War Diaries researched and extracted by Don Kindell and published on -

HMS Whitley, Valentine and Winchester were operating off Flushing during the night of 14-15 May 1940. At 1300, Whitley and Valentine were ordered to cover the Terneusen - Brosele (Beveland) Ferry. HMS Valentine (Cdr H.J. Buchanan RAN) was bombed and badly damaged by a German Ju. 88 bomber at the mouth of the River Scheldt leading to Antwerp within a mile of Terneusen. She was struck by two bombs, her boiler blew up and she was run aground and abandoned as a total loss (ADM 358/3652). Thirty-one ratings were killed and twenty-one crew, including Surgeon Lt N. F. E. Burrows RNVR, Lt R. M. MacFie RNVR and Acting Gunner S. F. Burrow were wounded. HMS Whitley was bombed but was not damaged. She blew up Valentine and remained at Flushing during the afternoon and evening.

Commanding Officers - derived from and the Dreadnought Project

Cdr Charles A. Fremantle, RN (28 May 1917 – 20 March, 1919)
Cdr Aubrey T. Tillard RN (17 Jan. 1919 – 7 July, 1919)
Cdr  Evelyn C. O. Thomson, RN (7 July, 1919 – 28 Dec. 1920)
Cdr Ernest H. B. Williams, RN (28 Dec. 1920 – 7 Aug. 1922)
Cdr Henry P. Boxer, RN (7 Aug. 1922 – 6 April, 1923)
Cdr James R. C. Cavendish, RN (6 April, 1923 – 3 Jan. 1924)
Cdr John I. Hallett, RN (3 January, 1924 – 28 Aug. 1924)
Cdr Claude L. Bate, RN (28 Aug. 1924 – August, 1925)
Cdr Arthur E. H. Wright, RN (27 July, 1925 – 27 July, 1927)
Cdr Geoffrey S. Holden, c. late 1927 
Cdr Henry H. Bousfield, RN (2 May, 1928 – 13 Aug. 1928)
Cdr William E. B. Magee, RN (24 August, 1928 – May, 1929)
Capt William T. Makeig-Jones, RN (9 April 1931 – 1931)
Capt Robert C. Woollerton, RN (28 Dec. 1931 - ?)
Capt Denis W. Boyd, RN (12 April, 1932 – mid April, 1933?)
Cdr Herbert A. C. Lane, RN (18 April, 1933 - ?)
Cdr Herbert J. Buchanan, RN (1 Feb.  1940 – 15 May, 1940) ship lost under his command


Before World War II:
Lt John Wellington Hall RN (April- June 1933)

When lost:
Cdr Herbert J. Buchanan, RN (1 Feb.  1940 – 15 May, 1940)
Lt C.E. Sheen RN (10 Jan - 14 May 1940)
Wt Eng J.J. Hammond RN (29 Jan - 14 May 1940)
Gunner S.F. Burrow RN (24 Oct 1939 - 14 May 1940)
Surgeon Lt N. F. E. Burrows RNVR ( 28 March - 14 May 1940)
Sub Lt E.J. Halls RNR (26 March - 14 May 1940)

Navy List-officers when lost on 14 May 1940

If you had a family member who served in HMS Valentine  tell his story on this page

HMS Valentine in 1940 before her loss
HMS Valentine after her WAIR Conversion into an ant-aircraft escort and before she was bombed on 14 May 1940
Photographed from HMS Vivien by Sub Lt H.A. Walkinshaw RNVR
Courtesy of Graham Cherry

HMS Valentine escorting French troop carriers on 11 May 1940
HMS Valentine escorting French Troop Carriers on 11 May 1940 three days before she was bombed and ran ashore at the mouth of the Scheldt
Netherlands Institute for Military History (NIMH) Ref. 2158_073270

From Tragedy to Legend

The Report of Proceeding written by Cdr H.J. Buchanan RAN from memory as all records were lost and typed on 20 May 1940 on his return to Dover covers events from 10 - 18 May 1940 (ADM 358/3652) and can be viewed as a PDF. At a later stage a detailed commentary based on his report and other sources will be added to this web page.

Everyone in Terneuzen from that time knows the story of 'the Valentine'; the victims were originally buried in a local cemetery, however they were later interred in a military graveyard in Bergen-op-Zoom. In 1996 the local historical society (Heemkundige Vereniging Terneuzen) published a 72 page book by Cornelis Heijkoop called "HMS Valentine: tragedy, salvage and legend", ISBN 9080308919, in Dutch, with an English summary (which is out of print). A PDF of the ship's company (including officers) taken from this book can  be seen by clicking on the link. The names of  those who died is given below.

ATKINSON, Colin S J, Ordinary Seaman, D/SSX 32227, killed
BAWDEN, Joseph A, Act/Engine Room Artificer 4c, D/MX 62521, killed
BIRD, Harry, Petty Officer, D/J 79564, missing
BRENNAN, Frederick, Ordinary Seaman, D/JX 169634, killed
COTTON, Ronald G, Act/Engine Room Artificer 4c, D/MX 62856, killed
CUTTER, Claude K H, Engine Room Artificer 4c, D/MX 54818, killed
EDWARDS, Frederick, Ordinary Seaman, P/JX 175469, killed
FORD, Robert A, Telegraphist, RNW(W)R, C/WRX 99, k
FRY, Dennis C, Stoker 1c, D/K 64708 B 16064, killed
GOLDSMITH, Leslie G, Leading Stoker, D/KX 80634, DOW
GRUMMETT, Joseph, Ordinary Seaman, D/SSX 32257, killed
HENDERSON, Alfred R B, Stoker Petty Officer, D/KX 77646, killed
HOWARD, James A, Petty Officer, P/J 114072, killed
HOWELLS, Thomas, Ordinary Seaman, D/SSX 32255, killed
JARVIS, Alfred W J, Ordinary Seaman, D/SR 8659, killed
KELLAWAY, Albert, Act/Leading Stoker, D/KX 86319, killed
KENSEY, John, Able Seaman, D/SSX 17557, MPK
LIVESEY, John, Seaman, RNR, D/X 20222 A, killed
MARLOW, Harry H, Stoker Petty Officer, D/K 59890 Pens No 2404, killed
MAXWELL, James, Able Seaman, D/SSX 20090, MPK
MILLAR, Robert MCC, Petty Officer, D/JX 130041, killed
MORRIS, James P, Stoker Petty Officer, D/KX 77449, killed
NEWBERT, Daniel, Ordinary Seaman, D/SR 8473, killed
NORTON, Frank, Leading Seaman, RFR, D/J 94494 B 15262, killed
PIERCY, George A, Stoker 1c, D/KX 85462, killed
POTTER, Ernest J, Stoker Petty Officer, D/K 22322 Pens No 15685, killed
SHEPHERD, Harold R, Leading Cook, D/MX 50838, DOW
WELLMAN, Henry, Assistant Cook, D/MX 62362, DOW
WILLIS, Walter L, Ordinary Seaman, D/JX 169596, DOW

Part of the wreck of the HMS Valentine can still be seen at low tide. Her stern, along with the ammunition, was removed in 1953 and the rest is slowly sinking into the mud and silt. In the eighties and nineties more of the wreck was visible at low tide. The wreck is near an industrial area and if development continues it may not be possible to get to the place where these photographs were taken.

 Wreck of HMS ValentineThe wreck of HMS Valentine (1916)

A new warship named HMS Valentine?

Letter from the Town Clerk of Dorchester to the Admiralty about the adoption of HMS ValentinreWarships Week in Dorchester

Cities, towns and villages throughout Britain held Warships Weeks in 1941-2 to raise funds through a National Savings Programme for the construction of new ships as described by Dr Peter Schofield in the linked article. Dorchester and district in Dorset held its Warship Week  on 7-14 March 1942 and raised 283,330 to adopt a new Type III Hunt Class destroyer to be named HMS Modbury.

In March 1942 HMS Dorsetshire, County Class Cruiser, had been transferred to the Eastern Fleet to support British forces in the Pacific and on 5 April she and her sister ship HMS Cornwall were attacked and sunk by Japanese bombers. Dorsetshire took great pride in the Dorsetshire and her loss was a blow to the whole country as well as the County and feelings must have run high after her loss.

The Western Gazette reported on the success of Warships Week in Dorchester:

Western Gazette, Friday 9 January 1942
The target for Dorchester and Rural District Warship Week to be held from 7-14 March is the hull of a destroyer, and its armaments and ammunition, at a cost of 330,000.  The hull of the destroyer costing 210,000 and half the armaments and ammunition costing 118,000.  If they raised enough to buy the hull, they would receive the plaque bearing the name of the ship they adopted.
Western Gazette, Friday 10 April 1942
The final figure for Dorchester and District Warship Week was announced at the Executive Committees winding-up meeting as 284,330. The question of presenting a plaque of the Dorchester arms to HMS Modbury was left to the Town Council and the Rural District and it is hoped that the town and the district may each receive a plaque of the arms of the ship.

On the 24 March 1942, in the same month that Dorchester held its Warships Week,  the Admiralty transferred
HMS Modbury to Greece and she was launched as HHelMS Miaoulis on 13 April 1942. Build completion date was 25th November 1942. Dorchester was offered the opportunity to adopt a new V-Class Fleet Destroyer as a replacement without needing to raise further funds. HMS Valentine was ordered on 1st September 1942 as part of the 8th Emergency Flotilla  from John Brown of Clydebank, Glasgow. She was one of several destroyers in this class given the names of V & W Class destroyers which had been sunk.

HMCS AlgonquinHMS Valentine

 After HMS Modbury was transferred to the Greek Navy the Town Clerk wrote to the Admiralty on the 31 August 1942 suggesting that the exchange of plaques  on the adoption of HMS Valentine should be held during a Youth Tattoo at Dorchester on 24 September 1942 but the exchange of plaques did not take place until the following year:

Western Gazette, Friday 12 February 1943
A plaque received from HMS Valentine the ship adopted by Dorchester and District by their Warship Week effort, and another plaque prepared for presentation to the ship from the town and district, were on the table for the inspection of the Council.  It was decided to arrange a local ceremony for the exchange of the plaques and to consult the Rural District Council with regard to it.

Western Gazette
, 2 July 1943

There followed a ceremony of presenting the plaques exchanged between Dorchester and the Rural District and HMS Valentine, the ship adopted as the result of last year’s Warship Week.  One plaque was accepted by the Mayor on the behalf of the town and another by Mr Wyndham Hull on behalf of the Rural District.  

The plaques were exchanged on the opening day of "Wings for Victory Week" in July 1943 but the Royal Navy found itself faced with a severe man-power shortage and  would be unable to man all the vessels that were due to commission in the Autumn. Consequently,
the Admiralty transfered HMS Valentine to the Canadian Navy and she was renamed HMCS Algonquin (R17) on 7 Feb 1944 and remained in service until 1962. Her last CO was Capt Arthur "Homer" McPhee RCN, a popular Canadian Officer in HMS Venomous in 1941.

Dorchester had every reason to feel shabbily treated. They had raised a third of a million pounds in March 1942 to adopt HMS Modbury and in November the Admiralty transferred her to Greece and now six months after exchanging plaques for the adoption of Valentine she was renamed and given to the Royal Canadian Navy. It seems most unlikely that any civic dignitaries visited their ship or any of her officers or men visited the town which had adopted her. No further attempt was made to offer a replacement.

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