HMS Viceroywas one of six Thornycroft W-Class destroyer built at Thorneycroft's Woolston
shipyard on the opposite side of the River Itchen from Southampton. Viceroy
was the first Royal Naval ship of the name. She was laid down as Yard
number 929 on 15 December 1916 and launched on 17 November 1917. After
commissioning on 18 January 1918 she joined the Grand Fleet.
After the war she joined the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla in the
Atlantic Fleet. In 1921 the Flotilla, in company with the 2nd
Light Cruiser Squadron, took part in a prolonged Baltic cruise,
visiting the then Free City of Danzig, Memel (now Kaliningrad) in East
Prussia, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark. In 1925 Viceroy
and the 2nd Flotilla moved to the Mediterranean Fleet, and then to the
Home Fleet in 1932. She went into reserve in 1936.
In 1939 she was
selected for conversion into an anti-aircraft escort (WAIR), but work
did not start until 1940. In February 1941 Viceroy was deployed for escort of East Coast convoyss. In 1942 the ship was adopted by the civil community of Meriden, the traditional "Heart of England", between Coventry and Birmingham, after a successful Warship Week national savings campaign.
In October 1942 W.F.J.
Dalkeith joined ship as a CW Candidate in the seamen's mess on the
lower deck to get in his three months seatime prior to officer
training. Back home in Drumlanrig Castle he was better known as the
Earl of Dalkeith. He became the 9th Duke of Buccleuch in 1973 and in
later life joined the V & W Destroyer Association and described his
time as "a very ordinary seaman" in Hard Lying.
In May 1943 HMS Viceroy was assigned to the invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky),
and early in July joined Escort Force S in Algiers. Escort Force S left
Algiers on 5 July, escorting military convoy KMS 18 (Supply Force
East), butshe had to
detach to Malta for repair on 9 July. Viceroy arrived off the Sicily
invasion beaches on 11 July, the day after the initial landings, and
joined Escort Group V for patrol, AA defence, and convoy escort.
Sheresumed escorting East Coast convoys until April 1945, taking no part in the Normandy landings. Lt Cdr John Manners took command of HMS VIceroy while she was undergoing a refit at Jarrow on the Tyne. On 16 April 1945 Viceroy was escorting Convoy FS 1874 off Sunderland when the German Submarine U 1274 attacked, torpedoing and sinking the tanker Athelduke. John Manners describes his attack onU 1274 stationary on the bottom north of Newcastle upon Tyne. Viceroy
returned to the scene on 24 April, found U 1274 in the same location on
the seabed and dropped depth charges, bringing wreckage to the surface.
Viceroy’s crew recovered a
case of 72 bottles of brandy which had been onboard U 1274. Capt J H Ruck-Keene RN of the Rosyth Escort Force sent a
bottle in a presention case to the First Sea Lord, Admiral Andrew
Cunningham, who gave it to the Prime Minister. Churchill thanked Cunningham in a note dated 12 Mayfor the “interesting souvenier” and congratulated the Viceroy’s crew on the sinking.
her patrol and escort operations in the North Sea until the surrender
of Germany in early May 1945, and then supported Allied Forces
reoccupying Norway, entering the Port of Trondheim
with HMS Wolsey after the 9th Minesweeping Flotilla had cleared the harbour and
approaches. She spent the summer of 1945 in the North Sea, paying off
and being reduced to reserve after VJ Day in September.
Temp Sub Lt M V Lloyd RNR (19 Nov 1941 – Dec 41)
Temp Sub Lt (E) J Longhurst RNVR (17 Jul 1944 – Aug 45) Lt John Hart MacAlister RNVR (14 Dec 1940 – Jun 42) Sub Lt James Abernethy McCoy RN (2 Aug 1918 – Sep 1919) Temp Sub Lt R H McGill RNVR (19 Nov 1941 – Jun 42)
Temp Actg Sub Lt H B McLachlan RNVR (8 Feb 1944 – Aug 45) Cdr John Maurice Mansfield RN (1930 – 1933)
Lt K W Marjeson RANVR (9 Apr 1942 – Aug 45)
Lt A Nicol RNVR (4 Dec 1940 – Jun 41)
Temp Surg Lt L D Osler RNVR (7 Jul 1941 – 8 Apr 1942)
Actg Lt R K Pafford RN? (25 Oct 1943 – Dec 43)
Temp Sub Lt G F Pettitt RNVR (30 Jun 1942 – Jun 43) Lt Terence Corin Robinson RN (Aug 1927 – Aug 1929)
Sub Lt P A Rollo RN (7 Dev 1940 – Jun 41)
Lt H D Seccombe RNVR (10 May 42 – Dec 42)
Lt J M J Sinclair RNVR (21 Jan 1944 – Aug 45) Lt Charles John Skrine RN (2 Sep 1924 – 28 Dec 1926)
Temp Lt J Swallow RNVR (9 Feb 43 – Dec 43)
Lt D Verney RN (8 Aug 1940 – Dec 41)
Temp Actg Sub Lt J H Wilcox RNVR (18 Oct 1943 – Dec 43)
Temp Surg Lt C G Whiteside RNVR (8 Apr 1942 – 22 Mar 1943)
Former Full Members of the V & W Destroyer Assoociation
Blackwell (Neston), The Duke of Buccleuch (Selkirk, Scotland), Ken
Foster (North Bradley, Wilts), Peter Laker (Ashford, Kent), C. Lock
(Eastbourne, Sussex) Please get in touch if you have a family member who served in HMS Viceroy
Lt Cdr John E. Manners DSC RN
The last CO of a V & W Class destroyer to die
John Errol Manners was born in Exeter, Devon, on 25 September 1914 the son of Rear Admiral Sir Errol Manners RN
(1883 - 1953) and entered Dartmouth Naval college at the age of 13.
Despite the demands of a naval career he played cricket for Hampshire
and is believed to be the last remaining pre-war first class cricketer.
He was able to play for Hampshire while serving on the Royal yacht in 1936 but
from 1937 onwards he served on torpedo boats in the Mediterranean and the
Far East. HIs two brothers, Capt Rodney Manners RN and his younger brother Lt Cdr Errol A.S. 'Sherard' Manners DSC
RN and their sister Angela Cartwright all served in the Navy.
Their father served thoughout the war as Commodore of Ocean Convoys. He
completed 52 ocean convoys including ONM.249 of 153
ships and received a KBE for his services.
John Manners died on Saturday 7 March 2020 at the age of 105
He was the last wartime CO of a V & W Class destroyer and in 1936 played cricket for Hampshire while serving in
the Royal Yacht Victoria and Albert at Portsmouth. Read his Obituary in THE TELEGRAPH
Bill Forster recorded an
interview with him in 2018 and with the help of his family told his story on
Fom left: 'Sherard' Manners, Sir Errol Manners, John E. Manners and their sister, Angela Cartwright, a WREN Courtesy of Errol Manners
John Manners was on the China Station in HMS Birmingham when war was declared. He was given a new posting and arrived at Southampton in the liner Strathalan
in January 1940 and on arrival at the family home in Alverstoke 20
miles away was met by his sister who told him she was getting married
to Lt Hugh Cartwright RN
(on right) the next day and in the absence of their father on convoy duty he could
give her away.
John Manners met his wife, Mary Downes, an actress in
Repertory Company, after his appointment as 1st Lt of the Hunt Class
destroyer HMS Eglinton nearing completion at the Walker shipyard on the Tyne. His father only just managed to attend their wedding on the 18th October 1940. He dashed down to London from Liverpool on returning from a convoy the
day before. They came close to death on their wedding
night when their hotel was bombed and six months later had an even
closer escape. Eglinton was
based at Harwich and his wife joined him when he had a day's overnight
leave and a bomb landed in the bedroom of the flat they were renting
while they were in the bathroom. They were unscathed but the other four
occupants of the house were killed. The photograph of them on the left was taken during the war not long after their marriage.
Their first child, Diana, was baptised aboard the Eglinton in the ship's bell. John Manners was in destroyers throughout World War II, moving from HMS Eglinton to the Tribal Class destroyer HMS Eskimo, his first command, in May 1942 and from there to HMS Viceroy in
December 1943. All the photographs with the exception of those of him
and his brothers were taken by John Manners on his 35 mm Leica camera
and were sent to me by his son Errol Manners.
"Following my leave I was sent on a
round of weekly courses in torpedo, gunnery and anti-submarine warfare
and was then appointed to the Viceroy. She had been built in 1917 and
early in the war has been converted into a Wair. This consisted of
removing her four 4.7” guns and replacing them with two twin 4”
anti-aircraft guns and fitting up four 0.5” machine guns each side on a
platform amidship and just below the bridge on either side was a single
oerlikon. She carried a crew of about 160 and was being refitted at
Jarrow on the Tyne. The ship was uninhabitable during the refit and so
I obtained accommodation in Newcastle. It took me 45 minutes by tram
and train to reach the ship. I found I could do this in the same time
on my bicycle. No doubt the exercise was good but not much fun in bad
After a week or two on
arrival on board I was surprisingly and unexpectedly told to report to
Londonderry in Ireland as soon as possible. On reaching there I was
told to command the Watchman and we sailed almost at once. Her captain
had gone ill and they wanted someone with experience to take his place
The Watchman was built in
1917 and was made into a ‘long legger’ by removing her foremost boiler
and funnel and replacing it with a fuel tank enabling her to have a
longer endurance for convoy work in the north Atlantic. We formed part
of a small group which attached itself to an outward bound convoy and
transferred to an incoming one, staying at sea for a fortnight or so.
On return from the first
trip I had been expecting to leave but was ordered out to sea
immediately after re-fuelling. The U-boats had recently been fitted
with acoustic torpedoes called ‘gnats’ which were designed to home into
the propellers of an attacking craft. One such torpedo had struck
the destroyer Hurricane [on 24 December 1943]. We arrived at the scene and there she
was stationary and looking undamaged. However, her propellers and
rudder had been irreparably damaged and she was a thousand miles or so
from land, there was no option but to sink her as towing that distance
was out of the question. Anyhow, by this time with new ships
being commissioned so frequently a single destroyer was less valuable,
her trained crew being more so.
We encountered some nasty
rough weather and our Asdic dome, which was in its lowered position,
was broken off necessitated us going into dry dock to have a
replacement fitted. On the way back to port we passed an outward-bound
Atlantic convoy and the leading merchant ship signalled to us asking
our name. It turned out that it was from my father who was
commodore of the convoy. I altered course and drew up alongside
and spoke to him on the loud hailer. He must have found out in
Liverpool that I was in Watchman.
East Coast Convoy Escort
After six weeks in Watchman
I was relieved and dashed back to Viceroy. Her refit had taken a
little longer than expected and it was to be another month before it
On completion we sailed to Rosyth
to join the other twenty or so destroyers that formed the ‘Rosyth
Escort Force’. The majority were V or W class destroyers similar
to ourselves, the other eight or nine being American ‘four stackers’ on
lease. The name was derived from the fact that they had four
After working up and doing
various gunnery and anti-submarine exercises we joined the operating
team. All of the ships had some form of camouflage in shades of light
grey, white and light blue in a variety of different patterns, which
were taken from a book of designs. By this time the dirty pink
‘elephants breath’ camouflage had gone out of fashion. Our duties
were to escort convoys from Methil on the north side of the Firth of
Forth opposite Edinburgh to their ‘dispersal point’ in the mouth of the
Normally two destroyers were
allocated to each convoy whose average number of ships was usually
thirty or forty and the speed was eight knots. These vessels had
come round Scotland and assembled. They were mostly not very
large; among the biggest were the American Liberty ships of about 7,500
tons. Smaller vessels, mostly colliers joined us on the trip down
from east coast ports, principally the Tyne and Tees. The ships were
formed into two columns headed by the commodore.
At the start of the passage
we went alongside the commodore’s ship, fired across a coston line
consisting of a length of twine. The commodore attached the
‘convoy formation list, which we hauled aboard and after exchanging
pleasantries, we proceeded on our way. In addition wireless
contact was made with all ships. There were always two destroyers
with each convoy, one ahead and the other astern.
These convoys ran every day
to a regular timetable and were the lifeline to London. The order of
the ships and the columns they were in was arranged at a conference at
Methil beforehand. On every occasion we put to sea, all the gun crews
were excercised in anti-aircraft and E-boat procedures, the oerlikon
guns fired to ensure they were in working order and the depth charge
crews setting the depth ordered. This could be set at shallow,
normal or deep, but we were always set at safe when cruising.
Crews had to be able to do this by day and night and after training
became very adept and quick.
Early in the war some ships
kept them set all the time and in a few cases when ships were sunk,
their explosions caused the deaths of swimming survivors. By 1944 the
ships were mostly used to convoying, coping well with station-keeping
and remaining in close formation because it was bad to be strung out
too long. The length was normally two or three miles. The dangers
to shipping on the east coast could come from mines dropped by
aircraft, and E-boat attacks.
By the end of 1943 the
enemy was fully extended and there was little action. The
destroyers zig-zagged, as a precaution against submarines, until
shallower water was reached in the vicinity of the Wash. Here the
swept channel was entered, while minesweepers plied up and down out of
sight of the convoy. Every five miles there was a buoy which
facilitated navigation. A 4”gun, close range weapons, radar,
Ascid and depth charge operations were manned all the time, with one
third of the ship’s company manning them in a state of readiness,
called ‘cruising stations’. Going south on passing the Norfolk coast
around Sheringham we went to ‘action stations’ when all the armament
was manned all night and watertight doors closed. Gun crews had
to be ready to fire star-shell by night and semi armour-piercing shell
for E-boats, while of course by day they had to have fused shells
against aircraft. Personnel were closed up at action stations for the
passage known as ‘E-boat alley’ with the period depending on the time
of year as E-boats could only operate during the hours of darkness
coming from the port of Ĳmuiden in Holland.
The dropping of mines,
either magnetic or acoustic, from aircraft was sporadic and very
inaccurate and caused little inconvenience. Normally the convoys
took three days, two plain sailing and the third passing through E-boat
alley at night and arriving in the Thames estuary on the third day and
the destroyers proceeded to buoys at Sheerness.
From time to time the weather upset
the schedule. Rough seas and gales slowed it down and made
station keeping extremely difficult for the smaller ships. The
destroyer at the tail end of the convoy had the job of trying to keep
order. The other hazard was fog and as a last resort it meant having to
anchor, which was done in consultation with the commodore,
communicating by wireless. Hopefully, but not always, all the
ships would get the message to anchor. Getting under way again
was a complete circus. Some ships weighed anchor more quickly
than others and if the tide was unfavourable everybody would be facing
the wrong direction! One always hoped for the best and I don’t
recollect there being any collisions. Sometimes the fog was
patchy which made decision-making difficult.
All the destroyers had open
bridges so it was extremely draughty, wet and uncomfortable, especially
in the bitingly cold ease winds. Everybody wore oilskins and ‘sou
westers’ and lots of woollies and we all survived to tell the
tale. On these occasions lifelines were rigged consisting of
wires overhead with sliding ropes one could hang onto if it was
necessary to get aft from the bridge in rough weather. My cabin was
aft, as were all the others, but I also had a sea cabin just below the
bridge where I spent the whole trip. All the watch-keeping
officers had to pass along the length of the upper deck to get to the
wardroom and their cabins. However, all went well and we arrived at
Sheerness in the early morning and sometimes took some exercise ashore
and occasionally played golf on the local golf course. We could usually
borrow a set of ropey old clubs from the professional but our doctor
wanted something better. Seeing a fine set of matching clubs he bluffed
his way by saying they belonged to his great friend ‘Bloggins' who
always lent them to him. As we drove off on the first tee he discovered
to his dismay they were a left-handed set, so we had the last laugh!
At crack of dawn the next
day we proceeded across the Thames to the Southend area and picked up
the northbound convoy made up of ships that had discharged their
cargoes. The further north that the convoy could get through E-boat
alley the better so the commodore usually put the slower ship in front
and told it to get a move on. For this part of the journey an
additional pair of destroyers from Harwich would reinforce the escort
and patrol seaward as a protection against E-boats.
On the way north ships were
continually peeling off in ones and twos to enter east coast ports,
notably the colliers. The trip north took the regulation three days to
reach the Firth of Forth where we passed through the protecting boom to
enter the sanctuary of Rosyth for a short rest of two or three days
depending on the operational requirements. On occasions we were diverted into
the Humber and secured to a quay at Immingham with the object of
escorting one of the southbound convoys and if we did this our round
trip took us ten days.
The Richard Montgomery
As the war was approaching its final stages there were not many losses
of merchant ships, but there was one curious incident. The American
Liberty ship Richard Montgomery had a cargo of bombs and ammunition
destined for the second front. For some reason she was ordered to
anchor just off the swept channel and by mischance she swung onto a
sandbank at a very high tide and stuck there. She could not be
refloated till the next spring tide in a fortnight and in the meantime
she broke her back. We first passed her with her flags still flying but
in a sinking condition. A month later she was still there with her back
broken and her stem sticking up in the air. To this day over fifty
years later her masts are still showing and there are worries that
one-day her cargo will blow up.
There was one sad incident when a new submarine of ours was passing by
the convoy it collided with a trawler at the back and was sunk. The
main excitement and achievement came with this episode with the U-boat,
Sinking U 1274
The advantage in the drawn out war
between the u-boats and the convoy escorts swung in the escorts favour
as the Endgame approached. Defeated in the Atlantic Donitz switched to
coastal waters but many of the more experienced commanding officers
were dead and their replacements were not given the time to learn:
zur See Hans-Herman Fitting’s U1274 followed a tragically
familiar pattern for the new U-Boats. It was the maiden voyage for
boat, commander and crew and on 16th April Fitting opened fire on
convoy FS1784 off England’s northeast coast. The 8,966 ton tanker MV Athelduke,
carrying 12,600 tons of molasses, was hit and sank with one man from
the forty seven crew killed. But with his presence betrayed by the
attack, Fitting was then hunted by British escort ships; he was found
by HMS Viceroy and depth-charged into oblivion with all hands." From Donitz Last Gamble: The Inshore U-boat Campaign, 1944-45, by Lawrence Paterson (Seaforth, 2008)
On April 11 1945 HMS Viceroy was zig-zagging about a mile ahead of
convoy FS 84, a small convoy of seven ships in two columns,
three being in the port column and the other four in the starboard. The
convoy was abreast Newcastle, proceeding south in calm weather and good
visibility at a speed of seven knots.
At 1933 SS Athelduke was rent by two explosions. The water was too deep
for mines and it was assumed the damage was caused by torpedoes from a
submarine. There had been no previous submarine activity in the area
during the war. I turned the ship to port and increased speed to 18
knots and in three minutes picked up a good echo at 2200 yards, the
extreme range of the Asdic being about 2500 yards. A difficulty round
the coasts is the number of wrecks all of which give an echo, as do
shoals of fish, the latter can usually be distinguished by a duller
note. This echo had 'doppler’ which indicated a moving target with some
hydrophone effect from the U-boat propellers. Speed was reduced to
eight knots; the depth charges set to explode at 100 feet. Speed was
then increased to twenty knots and an attack was carried out with an
amount of aim off to allow for the movement of the submarine from a
range of 150 yards when the set lost contact making allowance for the
length of the ship and for the pattern of five depth charges dropped
over the stern The first one was followed by a second one shortly
afterwards, at the same time firing a charge each side from the
throwers, which catapulted the charges some 15 yards outwards, and
finally a fifth charge. A few seconds later with the ship about 100
yards away, the charges exploded. The ship did a big shudder, leapt a
foot or two in the sea and blacked out as all the electric switches
were thrown off leaving everything in darkness. The plot, which tracked
our movements and the Asdic went dead but shortly the switches were
re-fixed and we were back in action. Another attack with a pattern of
five charges was carried out ten minutes later and produced some traces
of oil. The third attack was broken off as the other accompanying
destroyers got in the way. By this time the contact appeared to have no
movement and had possibly bottomed in about 250 feet of water.
At 2017, forty minutes after the first attack, the third attack was
carried out, speed fifteen knots, depth charges set to 250 feet. The
first charge produced a distinctly prolonged explosion and some more
oil. I signalled to Woolston who was stationed at the stern of the
convoy that I thought this was it, but he went off chasing something
else - probably a wreck on the bottom. At 2113 a fourth and last attack
was carried out. In the meantime the SS Athelduke sank slowly and
darkness set in.
The 30th escort group from the Western Approaches then arrived on the
scene headed by the Lauceston Castle who carried out a squid attack on
the contact. The squid was a very much more accurate weapon as it was
fired in a pattern ahead of the attacking vessel and Asdic contact
could be maintained until the end. We then rejoined the convoy.
On arrival at Sheerness two days later I rang up the operations room at
Pitreavie, Rosyth and asked if there was any news. A rather
supercilious officer said that an RAF liberator had attacked a
submarine on the surface which might have been the one damaged but the
result would never be known.
On the next convoy north I was going to investigate the supposed
submarine but to my great frustration I was diverted into Immingham,
joining the southbound convoy the next day. This meant it was another
five days before I was in the submarine area again. I then nipped ahead
of the small convoy and found the contact was still there. I think I
dropped a depth charge on it.
On arrival at Rosyth I spoke to captain D, who was Ruck Keene and told
him the supposed submarine was still there and I was fairly convinced
it was a submarine. He was rather bored with the office life and said
"Bugger the office, I will go and have a look at it." He boarded us and
in company with HMS Vivien we proceeded to the scene at a good speed.
There was a nasty moment when our steering jammed hard over at 25
knots. However, when we slowed down the fault was rectified. On arrival
in the vicinity of the fateful spot it was slightly foggy and we had
difficulty in locating the buoy marks. All was well in the end however
and we carried out an attack and shortly afterwards a grey cylinder
popped to the surface. I hoped and prayed it contained a dinghy, as it
was similar to one from a German submarine that I had once seen on the
quayside. Captain Ruck Keene said I had better go aft and hoist it
aboard myself, which I did. On opening it up there was no dinghy but
instead there was a case containing 72 bottles of brandy!
Capt D sent off a signal to the Admiralty to the effect that a German
dinghy container had been recovered from the wreck of a submarine
containing a case of 72 bottles of brandy fortunately none of which
were damaged. One bottle was put in a casket and sent to Winston
Churchill who acknowledged the gift. Capt D said he would give me the
letter, but he never did. Various other items were brought up including
some leather clothing containing photographs and a leave pass.
The sinking of this U-boat caused some slight excitement as the Germans
were developing boats called 'Walther’ boats, which ran on hydrogen
peroxide and had a high underwater speed. Because of this development
the 30th escort group had been sent round to Rosyth to reinforce the
convoys. However, this was not one of them. This was the last
U-boat of the war to be sunk by a surface ship.
The episode entailed a lot of teamwork. Everybody went to action
stations and watertight doors were closed. The head Asdic operator took
over, the coxswain took the steering wheel, gun crews come to the ready
and the depth charge setting team were on the alert, and the engine
room were ready for manoeuvring. The chart for plotting our movements
was likewise manned so everything worked perfectly. The only hiccough
occurring when the charges exploded and all our contact breakers flew
open leaving us temporarily in the dark.
"In due course I was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for the exploit."
The press cutting announces the award of the DSC to Lt John E. Manners, CO of HMS Viceroy, and his younger brother Lt Errol A.S. Manners RN who was always known within the family as "Sherard".
Sherard was in the destroyer HMS Bedouin when she was torpedoed by an Italian aircraft in June 1942 during Operation Harpoon to relieve Malta.
He spent three and a half years as a POW in Italy and Germany.
During the few days between convoys leave was given, this enabled the
crew to go to Edinburgh or Dunfermline or to take part in recreation.
The Viceroy was very competitive in all aspects and we considered
ourselves 'second to none.' There was a training unit in Rosyth for
anti U-boat attacks. These were exercises that increased in difficulty
and complexity and we headed the list of achievers so that it was
poetic justice that it should be our ship that was the only one to sink
On Sundays, when in harbour, we used to have a church service on the
mess deck, which I conducted as the commanding officer. In the wardroom
we had some singers of varying calibre and we decided to venture into
singing hymns and this proved a great success.
A small diversion at sea was letting off a depth charge once in a while
just for exercise. This was taken very seriously so we could do it near
a shoal of fish and collect the proceeds. We gathered around the Asdic
set to see if it could locate a shoal and everybody volunteered their
advice where best to explode the charge. Eventually we dropped the
charge, waited a bit and up came the fish, though a lot of them would
sink. The whaler was lowered and fish were recovered which the coxswain
distributed to the ships company to be cooked for supper.
Brothers in Arms: Lt Cdr Errol Adrian 'Sherard' Manners DSC RN, Lt Cdr Rodney Manners RN (the oldest brother, later Capt E.R. Manners RN) and Lt Cdr John E. Manners DSC RN All the male members of the family bore the name of Errol from their Grandfather down Courtesy of Errol Manners, the son of John Manners
Operation Conan was the Royal
Navy's contribution to Operation Apostle, the liberation of Norway
after the formal surrender of German forces at Oslo on the 9 May.
Two destroyers were sent to each of the four ports of entry on the west
coast and MTBs from Lerwick to smaller towns along the coast. The
destroyers carried with them the naval officers in command (NOIC) of
the various ports, naval disarmament parties and small elements of air
and military staffs from Britain.
The entry ports and their NOIC
were: Oslo (Capt C.R.V. Pugh RN), Stavanger (Capt R.St.V. Sherbrooke
RN), Kristiansand (Capt Lord Teynham RN), Bergen (Capt B D Nicholson
RNVR) and Trondheim (Capt J H Ruck-Keene RN). On the 13 May eight
destroyers in the Rosyth Escort Force were sent to Kristiansand South
(HMS Valorous and HMS Venomous with three Norwegian minesweepers), Stavanger (HMS Wolsey and HMS Wolfhound), Bergen (HMS Woolston, HMS Vivacious and the corvette, HMS Acanthus) and Trondheim (HMS Mackay and HMS Viceroy). Lt John E. Manners DSC, RN, the CO of HMS Viceroy, describes events:
After reading this brief description by John Manners click on the link to a PDF of the eleven pages of photographs
he took in Trondheim and on the voyage south through the narrow leads
to the small towns of Molde, Aalesund and Kristiansand North. Not only
is he an excellent photographer with a good camera but his neat
handwriting and lengthy captions tell the story in more detail than is
given below in the extract from his wartime autobiography. The names of
the naval and military in the photographs, both British and
Norwegian, are given.
"Crossing to Bergen we entered the inland waters and proceeded up to
Trondheim where we had been chosen as the flagship of the naval officer
in charge namely Captain Ruck-Keene who had been our boss in Rosyth. We were accompanied by HMS Mackay but she returned to Rosyth after a day or two and Viceroy stayed on for a month. We
had embarked a Norwegian interpreter one Lieutenant Musters who amongst
his attainments was the world expert on mice! He used our loud hailer
and he welcomed all the Norwegians we saw because we were very close to
land going up the fiords.
We went alongside at Trondheim and were welcomed by the locals. There
were a lot of German military milling around in Trondheim. Not having
been defeated in Norway they tended to be a bit arrogant. They were
disarmed under the supervision of their own officers and then they were
re-patriated. Life was quite pleasant with no blackout and things were
feeling civilised for the first time in years. At this time the crews
on ships tended to become 'de mob happy' looking forward to the day
they could resume civilian life seeing that they comprised about 80-90%
'hostilities only' ratings. When the army arrived we embarked two of their senior officers plus the
Norwegian Oberst Holterman and Captain Ruck Keene went on a cruise up
the fiords visiting Aldasness, Molde and Stranda up the Hjorund fiord.
At Molde there were no less than 21 German midget submarines on the
jetty. Everybody was overjoyed that the war was over and greeted us
After one such stop after being entertained and refreshed by some
schnapps, Captain John H. Ruck-Keene with fire and brimstone coming out of his
nostrils said "Let me manoeuvre your ship out of here". He then gave an
exhilarating exhibition of ship handling in the very narrow fiord with
lots of 'full ahead' and 'full astern' causing black smoke to come out
of the funnels, which must have impressed the spectators, but goodness
it frightened me! Anyhow we all lived to see another dawn. The highlight of our stay was the visit of Prince Olaf on the 9th June. We paraded a
very smart guard of honour for him and he was entertained aboard
Viceroy. The photograph is of
Crown Prince Olaf shaking hands with Lt John Manners RN with Capt J H
Ruck-Keene RN, the NOIC at Trondheim, facing the
Eventually our time was up to return to Rosyth and we were sent the
following signal: 'The behaviour of your ships company at
Trondheim has been exemplary and has greatly assisted me in setting a
standard to other forces. Your help in running the port has been of the
greatest value’. On the trip home we were told to dispose of all our
ammunition and we spent the whole day throwing it overboard into the
On arrival at Rosyth we de-stored ship which entailed emptying it of
everything moveable and in the end it was like an empty coffin and
everyone felt very sad. On completion we were dispersed to be
demobilised or given new appointments. Having been a close-knit team
for so long the final dispersion was a great anti-climax."
On leaving HMS VIceroy he was posted to Australia as "a spare destroyer commander" and took passage in the troopship Otranto.
His Mother was from Australia and since there was no position as a
destroyer CO vacant he contacted his uncle and was invited to visit him
near Melbourne where he stayed on a friend's wool station, herded sheep
on horseback and became quite a "Jackeroo" before joining the
battleship HMS King George V.
He left her at Portsmouth in April 1946 and was able to play first
class cricket again, scoring his maiden first-class century for
Hampshire against Kent in 1947 and playing regularly for the Combined
Services team. The photograph below shows him batting for the Royal Navy against the Army at Lords in 1951.
After his retirement in 1958 he worked as Bursar at Dauntsey's School in Wiltshire. He is the author of Country Crafts Today (David and Charles, 1974), Country Crafts in Pictures (David and Charles, 1976), Crafts of the Highlands and Islands (David and Charles, 1978) and Irish Crafts and Craftsmen
(Appletree Press, 1982). The John Manners collection of his research files and photographs of rural crafts is in the Museum of English Rural Life at the University of Reading.
He used to drive a beaten up old Skoda around
Hungerford and escapes the English winters by spending six weeks with
his daughter's family in Melbourne, Australia. His visit in 2017 was
prolonged by a fall which fractured his hip and required an operation.
He made a good recovery but gave up driving when he returned home to
England on 4 May 2018 when he was 103.
He was 80 when this photograph with his wife Mary was taken and a hundred when photographed at a wedding twenty years after her death on 26 April 1995
Batting for the Royal Navy against the Army At Lords in 1951
John Manners and Alan Rayment, Hants CC Snr Pro Taken at home in July 2018
you have stories or photographs of HMS Viceroy you would like to
contribute to the web site please contact Bill Forster and to find out more about life on a V & W Class destroyer click on the link to A Hard Fought Ship
to the Home
Page of the V & W Destroyer Association Return to the Index Page for the 69 V
& W Class Destroyers