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

HMS Venetia
HMS Venetia
Crown Copyright, IWM (Q75526)

HMS Venetia, was built by the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company at Govan, Scotland, launched on 29 October 1917,  completed on 19 December 1917 and commissioned into service the same day. She was assigned to the Grand Fleet or Harwich Force and saw service in the last year of World War I. In 1921 as part of the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla (with sister V & Ws HMS Vanquisher, Vectis, Viceroy, Violent, Viscount, Winchelsea, and Wolfhound) she visited the Baltic States and Scandinavia as described by PO George W Smith on HMS Vanquisher in his Journal. She later served in the Home Fleet and Mediterranean Fleet before being decommissioned and placed in the Reserve Fleet.

She was recommissioned in October 1939 and escorted convoys to Gibraltar. In May 1940 she was transferred to Nore Command and on 12 May HMS Venetia and  HMS Vivacious escorted HMS Codrington taking the Dutch Royal Family from the Hook of Holland into exile in the United Kingdom.

On 23 May 1940, Venetia and the destroyers Vimiera, Whitshed, Venomous, and Wild Swan arrived off Boulogne, France, to evacuate troops of the British Army's Irish Guards and Welsh Guards, who had been trapped there by advancing German troops and tanks of the 2nd Panzer Division during the Battle of Boulogne. Whitshed and Vimiera entered the harbour first followed at 2035 by Venomous and Wild Swan.  When Venetia entered five minutes later at 20:40 hours the Germans focussed their fire on her in an attempt to sink her in the harbour entrance to trap Venomous and Wild Swan and bring the evacuation operation to an end. Most of the officers on the bridge were killed or wounded, she grounded and was saved by Sub Lt Dennis H. Jones RNR who who got her underway and worked her out of the harbour stern first. The Report of Proceedings written by First Lt J.M. Wratislaw RN can be seen on the website of the publisher of A Hard Fought Ship along with the RoPs of the the other ships in the action to evacuate the Guards from Boulogne on the 23rd May 1940.

After spending the summer of 1940 undergoing repairs, Venetia returned to Nore Command in August 1940 and began convoy defence and patrol duties in the North Sea and Thames Estuary in September 1940. On 19 October 1940, Venetia struck a mine off Knob Buoy in the Thames Estuary 12 nautical miles northeast of Margate, Kent, England, and sank with 35 crew members killed including
Sub Lt Dennis Hervey Jones RNR, the RNR Sub who saved the ship at Boulogne on the 23rd May. Further details of this disaster are sought from the families of the survivors.  Click on the link to see complete list of the men aboard HMS Venetia at Boulogne on 23 May 1940 and when sunk on the east coast of England on 19 October 1940. Please get in touch if a member of your family is on this list or if a name is missing or you can provide additional information about the life of one of these men.

Commanding Officers

Cdr. John William Musgrave Eaton, RN (31 Jul 1939 - 13 Oct 1939)
Cdr. Guy Robert Pilcher, RN (13 Oct - 20 Nov 1939)
Lt. John Henry Eaden, RN (20 Nov 1939 - 27 Mar 1940)
Lt.Cdr. Bernulf Henry de Clegg Mellor, RN (27 Mar - 25 May 1940)
Lt.Cdr. Desmond Lisburn Curtis Craig, RN (25 May - 19 Oct 1940) MPK when mined


Lt F Bruen DSC (28 Aug 1940 – 19 Oct 1940) First Lieut
Temp Sub Lt Drew RNVR (26 Aug 1940 – 19 Oct 1940)
MPK when mined
Surg S P H Fergus RNVR (22 Jul 1940 – 19 Oct 1940)
KMPK when mined
Cmd Gnr (T) W Grant RN (31 Dec 1939 – Jun 1940)
Mr Douglas Honey, Gunner(T) RN (May 1940 – 19 Oct 1940)
Sub Lt Dennis Hervey Jones RNR (31 Jul 1939 – 19 Oct 1940)
MPK when mined
Gnr (T) A E Marriot RN Retd (6 Nov 1939 – by Apr 1940)
Sub Lt M.E.L. Maunsell RN (31 Jul 1939 – by Sep 1940)

Cmd Eng A C Harvey (22 May 1939 – Jan 1940)
Cmd Gnr (T) W E Hayward RN (24 Jul 1939 – Jan 1940)
Sub Lt Edwin A.O.G. Herring RN (31 Jul 1939 – 19 Oct 1940)
Temp Surg Lt V P McDonagh RNVR (19 Jan 1940 – Jul 1940)
Sub Lt J S E Rogers RN (3 Jul 1940 – 19 Oct 1940) MPK when mined
Lt Guy S. Norrington RN (Dec 1919 - Oct 1921)
Cmd Eng Stanley S. Vincent RN (31 Oct 1939 – 19 Oct 1940)
Lt J.M. Wratislaw RN (23 Oct 1939 – Aug 1940) First Lieut

Former Full Members of the V & W Destroyer Assoociation who served in HMS Venetia
J. Begg (Ormskirk).

Please get in touch if you knew this man men or had a family member who served in HMS Venetia

HMS Venetia was mined and sunk on 19 October 1940
National Archives ADM 358/3758

HMS Venetia was one of the V & Ws in the 21 Destroyer Flotilla used as escorts for "fireships"  to set fire to the invasion barges being assembled at Ostend, Calais and Boulogne, a crazy idea inspired by Drake "singeing the King of Spain's beard"  which caught the imagination of Churchill. It was  conceived and led by Capt Augustus Agar VC, who won his VC sinking a battleship in the Russian naval port of Kronstadt in 1919. After three attempts to "singe Mr Hitler's moustache" by attacking the channel ports with fireships the programme was postponed to November and then abandoned.

Operation Lucid is described by Cdr Augustus W.S. Agar VC, DSO, RN in his memoir Footprints in the Sea (1959) and by Rear-Admiral Sir Morgan C. Morgan-Giles DSO (1914-2013) in The Unforgiving Minute (2002). The Admiralty papers on Operation Lucid (including the report to Churchill) are contained in Operations off the Dutch, Belgium and French Coasts in the National Archives (NA ADM 199/ 667).

A German IX Air Corps aerial mine sank HMS Venetia in the Thames estuary  10 miles north of Herne Bay near East Knob Buoy in 51, 33 NO1 10E. Her CO, Lt Cdr Desmond Lisburn Curtis Craig, RN, had taken command two days after Boulogne where his predecessor, Clegg-Mellor, had been severely wounded. Craig was patrrolling off Dover on the night of 18 - 19 October. He left the patrol area at 0530 with HMS Walpole and HMS Garth, a Hunt Class destroyer, and set course for Sheerness. They were in the swept channel at 0850 when an explosion occured near the engine room on the starboard side. It was followed by a second explosion further aft and the ship was completely covered by a column of water. Half a minute later Venetia broke in two. The stern sank within fifteen minutes but twelve foot of the bow remained above water for an hour.

Forty survivors were rescued by HMS Walpole and forty-seven bny Garth with five taken aboard by the paddle-steamer Balmoral, an auxilliary anti-aircraft ship. Lt Cdr Craig was below when the mine was detonated and was lost with five of his officers including Sub Lt Jones RNR who saved Venetia during the Boulogne evacuation. The names of the 35 who died are given below.

List of those killed and MPK

AGNEW, Peter, Ordinary Seaman, C/JX 195489, MPK
ALEXANDER, James E, Ordinary Seaman, D/JX 165241, MPK
BEVAN, Edward R, Able Seaman, D/J 26867 Pens No 28722, killed
BISHOP, James, Able Seaman, D/J 20494 Pens No 28845, MPK
BURTON, Arthur, Stoker 1c, D/K 64200, MPK
COUSINS, James J B, Leading Seaman, D/JX 131673, MPK
CRAIG, Desmond L C, Lieutenant Commander, MPK
DENNE, Sydney, Able Seaman, D/SSX 21950, MPK
DIXON, James, Ordinary Seaman, D/JX 188731, MPK
DOLMORE, Edward J C, Officer's Cook 1c, D/LX 20967, MPK
DREW, David, Py/Ty/Sub Lieutenant, RNVR, MPK
EDWARDS, Thomas T G, Leading Steward, D/LX 21403, MPK
FERGUS, Samuel P H, Ty/Surgeon Lieutenant, RNVR, MPK
FORD, Charles R, Stoker 1c, D/K 64031, MPK
FOSTER, Edward, Stoker 2c, D/KX 104454, MPK
GWYN, Griffith G, Ordinary Seaman, D/JX 188714, MPK
HAMILTON, Sydney, Ordinary Seaman, D/JX 187754, MPK
HAYMAN, Theodore J, Stoker Petty Officer, D/KX 78991, MPK
JONES, Denis H, Sub Lieutenant, RNR, MPK
KINGS, Stanley, Steward, C/LX 22771, MPK
LANGDON, Joseph A, Leading Stoker, D/KX 77334, MPK
LUCRAFT, Frederick C, Stoker 2c, D/KX 104875, MPK
MORRIS, Frederick J, Canteen Manager, NAAFI, MPK
PHYSICK, William C E, Able Seaman, D/J 22380 Pens No 22380, MPK
PROSSER, Clifford, Ordinary Seaman, D/JX 173967, MPK
RICHARDS, Robert L J S, Able Seaman, RFR, D/J 74044 B 14925, MPK
ROBERTS, Joseph, Stoker 1c, D/KX 97584, MPK
ROGERS, John S E, Sub Lieutenant, MPK
SIMPSON, Thomas R, Steward, D/LX 22705, MPK
SINDEN, Ronald L, Able Seaman, D/SD/X 1642, MPK
STILES, William G E, Chief Engine Room Artificer, D/M 38822, MPK
TAYLOR, Harold A, Ordinary Seaman, D/JX 192957, MPK
TORR, Ernest, Able Seaman, RFR, D/J 57954 B 14772, MPK
WATSON, Graham K, Stoker 2c, D/KX 104579, MPK
WATTS, Charles D B, Stoker 2c, D/KX 99255, MPK

Two of the V & Ws which evacuated the Guards from Boulogne were sunk by mines in the Thames estuary. On 9 January 1942 HMS Vimiera was sunk by a mine on the southern edge of the swept channel (185 QZS) between East Spile Buoy and J Buoy while escorting east coast convoy FS.93 from Rosyth to Sheerness. Ninety three men died.

If you want to find out more about the wartime service of a member of your family who served on HMS Venetia you should first obtain a copy of their service record
To find out how follow this link:

If you have stories or photographs of HMS Venetia you would like to contribute to the web site please contact Frank Donald

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