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





HMS Verulam



HMS Verulam was a V class destroyer, built by Hawthorn Leslie 1917. She was mined and sunk off Seiskari Island in the Gulf of Finland on night of 4 September 1919.



Battle Honours


Commanding Officers

Cde Ralph W. Wilkinson, RN (21 November 1917 – 31 December, 1918)
Lt Cdr Guy L. Warren (15 April, 1919 – 4 September, 1919)
(vessel lost under his command)

Officers

Temp Lt F J E I Allen RNVR (Apr 1941 - 1942)
Mid Alexis William Ashley RN
Sub Lt Edgar Charles Cookson R
Lt Charles Cunningham Dumville-Lees RN
Mid Arthur Wilfred Edgecombe RN
Lt(E) Joseph House RN


A Shaggy Dog Story

Russian submarines were becoming a menace and their destroyers carried out the occasional sortie but were no match for the V&Ws and made a hasty retreat whenever the British destroyers gave chase and on occasions Versatile, Vivacious, Walker and Walrus were involved in an exchange of fire, it was also necessary for the V&Ws to carry out depth charge attacks on the menacing submarines when they came across them. However, the Bolshevik submarine Pantera torpedoed the Vittoria on the night of the 31st August.

Having been a dog trainer and handler for the past forty years, I've learnt that dogs have a perception of foreboding that we humans do not possess. The following is just another example of this:-  

September 4th 1919

Officially she did not exist, but unofficially "Lummy" was as much a member of the Ships’ Company of HMS Verulum as any Officer or rating on board. Her great jaw and lumbering gait - she was a bulldog - was a familiar sight to most of the destroyers crews in the 2nd flotilla. She slept in a specially made low slung hammock in the galley flat, she had a fine repertoire of tricks, a somewhat regrettable taste for beer and a passion for football. Sporting a jersey knitted in the ships colours, white shorts and a uniform cap, she attended all the ships matches. To the crews of the other "chummy" ships which formed the 4th sub division she was an old friend. It was natural therefore that when we rejoined the Flotilla in Byorko Sound that the Wardroom of the Verulum should come over by boat to give us the gen and bring "Lummy" with them.

The situation was a strange and unreal one. Based on a not too neutral Finland, we were supposed to be giving moral and physical support to a White Russian army under a General Yudenitch advancing on Petrograd through Estonia. The difficulty was that we seldom knew the whereabouts or the identity of our "allies". Admittedly, if we steamed close to the fort of Krasnaya Gorka the Reds would open up with their 12-inch guns. If we bombarded the shore further to the west, as we were sometimes invited to do, the chances were that we might hit a red shirt, a white shirt or even a green shirt, the latter being a mysterious body of men who were apparently fighting everybody. Actually the chance of hitting anything but a number of trees in the seemingly limitless pine forest were extremely remote. Apart from the Russian Fleet at Kronstat, the main hazards other than Krasnaya Gorka were the unreliability of our charts, the suspected presence of minefields and the activities of a lone Russian aviator, known to all as Reckless Rupert, who would occasionally fly over and drop a few bombs on the anchorage. Thus when the two Wardrooms got together there was much to talk about.

It was when Verulum's boat came for them after supper that the trouble started. Lummy refused to go down the gangway and when they tried to carry her down she turned savage, broke away and, retreating under the torpedo tubes, defied all attempts to dislodge her. Eventually, it was decided to leave her alone and as Verulum was due to go out on patrol the next morning we agreed to look after her until they returned.

In the morning the dog emerged and behaved normally. She went for a run ashore with the Canteen Manager, who was buying eggs and returned in good spirits. But she was off her food and, as the day wore on became morose, lying for long periods with her head resting on her front paws. She remained on deck all evening and was lying in the same position when we came up for some air after supper. She seemed to be listening or waiting. 

It was I remember, a calm warm night, very dark and the scent from the pine forest along the shore line very strong. We were discussing what Lummy could be sickening for when a flash of light momentarily lit up the horizon to seaward. In the pause that followed we all turned instinctively and the dog raised her head. A moment later an expanding arc of yellow shot skywards and in the midst of it was the debris of a great explosion.

One reacts automatically on these occasions. Before the sound had reached us across the water the First Lieutenant and the Quarter Master were racing forward, the Chief Engineer making for the Engine Room hatch and I was scrambling down the ladder to the Captain's cabin to report. When I made my way up to the bridge a few moments later the cable party were already on the foc'sle shortening in the cable and the Leading Signalman reading out the signals as they were made by the Leader’s shaded lantern.

 D2 General. Following from Walpole. Immediate, Verulum mined or torpedoed, position 175 Niki Point 2 miles. After magazine blew up ship sank in two minutes. Am searching for survivors.  

D2 general. Raise steam with all despatch and report when ready to proceed, cover Walpole. 2nd Division will take up patrol line 155 Niki Point. 1st Division remain at instant notice. Acknowledge.

A dark shape slid by, heading for the entrance, the stand by destroyer. We waited impatiently for the engine room to report ready. The parts of ship were closing watertight doors and securing for sea, the gun crews were clearing away their mountings.   I worked my way along the upper deck to check as best I could in the dark that all was secure. Just abaft the break of the foc'sle I bumped into a little procession. It was headed by the mess decks Petty Officer, with Lummy next, and the ships butcher bringing up the rear. They were coaxing the dog along and above the roar of the engine room fans I could hear snatches, "come on old girl, got to get below, action stations, doing all we can." As they reached the blackout screen leading into the mess decks the dog stopped and looked up into their faces. Then she moved slowly on through the gap in the screen, and was lost to sight. The mess deck Petty Officer wiped his face, and said something. I didn't hear what it was. I made my way back to the bridge.



If you want to find out more about the wartime service of a member of your family who served on HMS Verulam 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 Verulam you would like to contribute to the web site please contact Bill Forster



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