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



HMS Valorous at Kristiansand
HMS Valorous, pennant number L00 ("Lucky Loo"), moored in the harbour at Kristiansand with White Ensign and Norwegian flag at the mast-head
A Norwegian trawler crowded with visitors is coming alongside
Courtesy of Alan Dennis

Click on the links within this brief outline for first hand accounts by the men who served on HMS Valorous and for a more detailed chronolgy see www.naval-history.net

HMS Valorous was intended to be named HMS Montrose but this was changed to Valorous before launch in 1917. After service in the Baltic and in the Mediterranean she was placed in Reserve. As part of the naval re-armament Programme in 1938 Valorous was selected for conversion to an Anti-Aircraft Escort (WAIR) by HM Dockyard Chatham. At the outbeak of war she became part of the Rosyth Escort Force for East Coast convoys from Methil on the Firth of Forth to Sheerness on the Thames estuary. This period is described by 95 year old Arthur Bulmer who joined her as a 20 year old Able Seaman on 14 June 1941.

In May 1945 HMS Valorous and HMS Venomous were sent to Kristiansand South to accept the surrender of German naval forces, Operation Conan. Lt Cdr J.A.J. Dennis RN was the senior officer in Valorous and Lord Teynham, the designated Naval Officer in Command (NOIC) Kristiansand was in Valorous. The wartime memoir of Dennis is in the IWM but you can click on this link to read his description of events at Kristiansand. John Garforth, an AB on Valorous, gives his account below.

If you have stories or photographs of HMS Valorous you would like to contribute to the web site please contact Bill Forster
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Commanding Officers

Lt Cdr Edward Mack RN (August 1939 - Jan 1942)
Capt Lennox Albert Knox Boswell RN (Jan – Feb 1941)
Lt Cdr William Wentworth FitzRoy RN (Jan – August 1942)
Lt Cdr Hedworth Lambton RN (March – May 1943)
Lt Cdr J A J Dennis DSC RN (Dec 1944 - May 1945)


Officers

Wt Eng Sydney Edward Adams RN (Aug 1934 - Jan 1937)
Lt Clive Denison Arbuthnot RN (Jan 1924 - Jan 1925)
Sub Lt William Hector Brereton RN (Aug 1939 - Feb 1941)
Gnr George Brooks RN (Nov 1941 - Aug 1942)
Lt Laurence George Durlacher RN (Aug 1934 - Feb 1936)
Lt(E) William Frederck Galletly RN (Jan 1944 - July 1945)
Sub Lt Thomas Seymour Trick RN (Oct 1941 - June 1942)
Lt Laurence George Durlacher RN (Aug 1934 - Feb 1936)
Lt(E) William Frederck Galletly RN (Jan 1944 - July 1945)
Sub Lt Thomas Seymour Trick RN (Oct 1941 - June 1942)

Former Full Members of the V & W Destroyer Assoociation
E. Clark (Bromley, Kent), C. Gare (Norwich), John Garforth (Whitehaven), W. Merry (Leicester),
L. Wadsworth (Menstrie, Clack.), W. Wills (Boothville, Northamptonshire)

HMS Valorous at Kristiansand in May 1945
John Garforth


John Garforth was born on 28 May 1925, the son of a coal miner, in the miner's village of Crookhall near the colliery of the same name not far from the steel town of Consett in County Durham in the north east of England. He left school at 14 as was normal in those days and was soon working at the Consett Iron and Steel works which had lots of vacancies caused by men being called up for service in the armed forces. They had to work overtime to take up the slack and went on strike and John found himself out of a job.  They were easy to come by in wartime and he wasn't out of work long
but on his eighteenth birthday he was called up for service in the Royal Navy. After six weeks basic training at HMS Ganges at Shotley Gate across the river from Harwich he was sent to RNAS Grimsetter in Orkney. Within a few months he was back at Chatham and was drafted from there to HMS Valorous lying alongside at Rosyth near Edinburgh on the Firth of Forth.

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John Garforth in 1943John GarforthWhen I joined Valorous I was detailed "starboard watch" on "B-Gun", the twin 4-inch right for'ard below the bridge and looking over the forecastle. I was in the forard messdeck, right side next to the chain locker and when they dropped the hook (anchor) it made such a noise! It was also next to the paint locker so smelled of paint all the time. The mess deck was very small with tables down each side with lockers as seats. Water drained from the deck heads into the bilges and rushed across the mess deck when the ship rolled, sometimes taking the "gash bucket" with it, the contents spilling and slopping back and forth each time the ship rolled. The mess deck was like a bathroom with condensation dripping from the deck head all the time.

We had to sleep with an oilskin over our hammocks and since the hammocks were so close together (we were only allowed 18 inches for each hammock) they touched each other when slung and when anyone stirred water seeped from the oilskins into the hammocks which consequently were always wet as there wasn't much chance of drying them in winter. When we were at actions stations the hammocks never got slung. I sometimes slept on the tables if they were free but I very rarely slung my hammock as I was always seasick and did not feel like "lashing up and stow". Once, when Valorous was bouncing all over the place and the mess deck smelled horrible and I was not feeling very well (as usual) I got hold of two duffel coats and decided to sleep outside. I went midships near the aft smoke stack and lay down with one duffel coat the right way round with the hood up and the other back to front with the hood up. I was nicely settled down on the lee side, cocooned in duffel coats when a huge wave came from the weather side, over the smoke stack and right over me and almost washed me overboard. Somebody above must have been looking after me as I wasn't a bit wet but would have gone into the drink if it were not for the hand rails which I clung onto desperately knowing that I could not swim!

The war was coming to a close and after a few skirmishes with E-boats and U-boats. The Skipper informed us, that as we had been good boys, we had been given a special assignment. We were in Rosyth dockyard when loads of trunks, cases etc; began to land on board, some were stowed below, the large cases had to stay on the upper deck. When we were ready to sail, all types of men came aboard and were ushered to the wardroom. Norway was our destination, preceded by mine sweepers, there were plenty of mine bobbing about. I had the forenoon watch on lookout on the starboard side of the bridge and had many a scare.

When we reached Kristiansand, the rocks and islands were amass with people cheering and waving, boats with children shouting, chocolata, sukker. Being off watch I was standing near the Mediterranean ladder leaning over the handrails, when this large cabin cruiser came alongside and an officer came aboard and went down to the wardroom, leaving a pretty girl in the cabin having a drink. Somehow I attracted her attention and gave her the sign that drink was no good. She smiled. When Grego Gregson (this being his name) returned she must have told him what I had done. 
He waved me over on to his boat and plied myself and another shipmate who had followed with drink out of a secret compartment, where he kept butter, bacon, etc. We found out that Grego was a leader in the 'Milorg', the underground resistance. He had only one hand. He always carried a revolver, and would use it especially against the Germans. The girl Kari was his secretary. Early in the war she had been at university and her parents who owned merchant ships had left and gone to England, leaving Kari behind. Later I found out that she was living in a flat with a nurse. Before leaving in the cruiser Grego gave me an address to visit when ashore.

Launch
Lord Teynham going shore in "Greggo's" launch to meet the "powers that be" on arrival at Kristiansand
Courtesy of Alan Dennis

Little did I know that I was to follow him ashore with two other shipmates to take over a large building from the Stappo (Norwegian police working for the Germans, we were told they were worse than the Germans). The large building, was made up of several flats, with telephone exchange, teleprinter, armoury, laundry, etc. in the basement. The building was almost empty of inhabitants, but there was plenty of crockery, utensils and other equipment, even Luger pistols. Instead of taking a flat each, the three of us chose a flat and moved in together, combing the other flats for the best equipment. We settled in and took a watch each on the telephone exchange which had been defunk for some time. We soon began to get plenty of calls, not knowing if they were Norwegian, German or whatever. After a day we were pleased to see three army lads of the Welsh Regiment. Then came the S.A.S. with Paddy Maine and other officers living in the upper flats. They were dropping empty beer bottles down on to the jeeps parked below and down the central staircase. The building also had a lift.

After a few days the army lads came in with bottles of German rum, Schnapps and red wine which we made into a punch by putting a large bowl on the stove filling it with red wine, well sugared, with rum and schnapps then heated it up. We then invited girl friends who had befriended us, some of whom I found out later had been Quislings. One of the Welsh lads had a girl in his flat and kept her locked in, she got out one day and went round the building looking for this guy with a Luger in her hand. She was confronted by an officer. He was put on a charge and was never seen again. Soon the people of Kristiansand learned of the cache of booze and we were pestered into selling them a bottle or two, only to be invited to a party to help them drink it! I remember that at one party the Norge started play acting, some of the plays were rather crude.

After a week or two of walking around the town, I somehow met a chap, who, after talking about football, took me behind the counter of a bank, where we organised the first football match to be played in Norway since the war. It was HMS Valorous versus the Milorg. It was England versus Norway. The captains exchanged flowers and even though we won 2-1 we were all treated to what was available, there was very little available in those days.

On May 17th which was the national day in Norway, I was sitting on watch with steel safety doors and grid open to footpath level, it was a nice night, when a beautiful girl put her head in and asked if she could come in, no doubt she had been in before, for when a Milorg sentry, who had been watching from across the street came across, she ran off holding her head in her hands. They used to cut off their hair if they fraternised.

Gunner Gundersen The building across the road was the headquarters of the underground movement, the address  Grego had given me on that first day. Finding a gramophone in the basement and borrowing records from the ship, we organised the first dance in the Soldatenheim (soldiers home) which was not more than forty yards away. I must say that I was being well victualled from the ship and also by the army. While sitting there having a meal, two of our army friends brought in a German SS Captain dressed up as a corporal, he came in so humble, took off his cap and put it on the table, which was instantly thrown to the floor saying "You don't put caps on tables" then gave him the job of scrubbing the tables and removing crumbs from the groves with a toothbrush.

Sitting in the dining room playing records people began coming in and started dancing, then in walked Grego with two women, one of them was Kari the other his wife. I immediately asked Kari to dance and asked if she remembered me, she did, we danced all night. When it was all over, Grego took us to the back of the soldiers home where the big launch was moored. We were soon under way going up the fjords taking it in turns at the helm, drinking and firing very lights into the sky. I do not recollect if I returned to my place of work that night!! Soon after visiting Kari and her nurse friend at their flat and being plied with Danish bacon, butter etc. it was time to leave Kristiansand and come down to earth, or should I say water? Back to Valorous and back to England.   

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His best friends during his eighteen months on Valorous were George Garwood from Eastbourne and Bill Willis from Northampton. John Garforth left Valorous at Rosyth and on return to barracks at Chatham was sent to Liverpool to join the MV Orion, a troopship bound for the Far East. The Orion called in at Wellingon, New Zealand, and Sydney, Australia, to return liberated POWs and then headed for Singapore where John joined HMS Glenearn. The war had ended by now and the Glenearn was sent to Kure in Japan which had been heavily bombed. John's adventures in the Far East are detailed in the book he wrote about his life which he gave the name "Memories and Magic Moments" (self published).

John Garforth was demobbed at Chatham on the 1st November 1947 and was soon working in the building trade as a glazer. He moved to Whitehaven on the Cumberland coast where he met his wife Pauline Kirkbride and lived there for the rest of his life. They had two daughters, Glenda and Christine. Pauline died in 1989. In 1995, fifty years after Valorous and Venomous were sent to Kristiansand, his daughter Glenda Lopez encouraged her father to return to the place which made such a deep impression on him as a young man. This was the first of several such trips during which he met old friends and made new ones as described in his memoir which comes to an abrupt end when John Garforth passed away on the 21st April 2010.

John Garforth 
This story was first published in Hard Lying, the magazine of the V & W Destroyer Association
and republished in 2005 in the book of the same name which is now out of print.



If you want to find out more about the wartime service of a member of your family who served on HMS Valorous you should first obtain a copy of their service record
To find out how follow this link: http://www.holywellhousepublishing.co.uk/servicerecords.html



If you have stories or photographs of HMS Valorous you would like to contribute to the web site please contact Bill Forster
Find out how you can help us research this ship and build this web site




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