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




HMS Vimy
                  
photograph from Navyphotos.co.uk


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

HMS Vimy was a V-Class destroyer ordered from Beardmore at Dalmuir on the Clyde, Glasgow and was laid down in June 1916. She was launched in December 1917 as HMS Vancouver, the first RN ship to be named after the explorer, Captain George Vancouver. She was completed in March 1918, with a minelaying capability. After service in the Grand Fleet she was deployed to the Baltic and took part in actions against Russian forces in support of countries under threat from the Red Army. Later in 1921 she served with the 1st Destroyer Flotilla in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. In April 1928 while in reserve she was renamed HMS Vimy, with pennant number D33, to release the name Vancouver for a new Canadian Destroyer. The new name was particularly appropriate as it commemorated the capture of Vimy Ridge by the Canadian Army in 1917.

In 1939 she was commissioned from the Portsmouth Reserve Fleet with a Reservist ship’s company, and was initially employed on convoy operations in the Channel, and later in the South Western Approaches, escorting convoys to and from Liverpool. On 23 May 1940, she was one of eight V & W Class destroyers which  evacuated 20th Guards Brigade from Boulogne, and Lt Cdr Colin G.W. Donald RN was killed by a sniper's bullet on the open bridge of his first command. A week later HMS Vimy took part in the Dunkirk evacuation rescuing 2,976 troops.

Vimy was the first V&W class destroyer to be converted into a long range escort, the work being completed in June 1941. This entailed the removal of a boiler and the substitution of extra fuel tanks. After a successful Warships Week National Savings campaign in March 1942 the Vimy was adopted by Hucknall, Nottinghamshire.

Following conversion the Vimy was based as a convoy escort at Freetown, Sierra Leone, until August 1942, when she escorted the battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth to Norfolk, Virginia for repairs following attack by frogmen at Alexandria.  After repairs to damage sustained in collision with U162 in the Western Atlantic, Vimy joined the 2nd Escort Group for North Atlantic convoy escort duties in November 1942, transferring to the 6th Escort Group in April 1943.  From June 1943 the Group defended convoys on the UK – Gibraltar route, in connection with the military build up in the Mediterranean, returning to North Atlantic operations in January 1944.  From May 1944 the Vimy was involved in protection of the Normandy landings and Channel operations as part of the 141st Escort Group, returning to the North Atlantic from November 1944 to the end of the war.

Noteable events involving the Vimy included:

21 September 1941 – The Italian submarine Luigi Torelli was heavily damaged by depth charges from Vimy (with HMS Wild Swan) while escorting convoy HG-73
3 September 1942 – The German submarine U-162 was sunk in the Atlantic north east of Trinidad by depth charges from HMS Vimy, HMS Pathfinder, and HMS Quentin.
4 February 1943 – The German submarine U-187 was sunk in the North Atlantic, by depth charges from HMS Vimy and HMS Beverley.
The Vimy was reduced to reserve status and paid off between May and August 1945, and scrapped at Rosyth in 1948.

Battle Honours
ATLANTIC 1939-45, DUNKIRK 1940, ENGLISH CHANNEL 1944-45, NORMANDY 1944, NORTH SEA 1944-45


Commanding Officers


Lt.Cdr. Walter James Burberry Handley, RN (22 Apr 1932 – Aug 1934)
Cdr. St John Aldrich Micklethwait, RN (Sep 1938 – Oct 1938)
Lt.Cdr. Ivo Thomas Clark , RN (15 Jun 1939 – 8 Nov 1939)
Lt.Cdr. Colin George Walter Donald, RN (8 Nov 1939 – 23 May 1940) - died of wounds after Boulogne
Lt.Cdr. Richard George Kirby Knowling, RN (23 May 1940 – 28 May 1940) - lost overboard at Dunkirk
Lt. Adrian Paul Northey,RN (28 May – 30 May 1940)
Lt.Cdr. (retd) Michael Wentworth Ewart-Wentworth, RN (30 May 1940 – 20 Jul 1940)
Lt.Cdr. Dermod James Boris Jewitt, RN (20 Jul 1940 - )
Lt.Cdr. Henry Graham Dudley de Chair, RN (20 May 1941 – 1 Dec 1942)
Lt.Cdr. Richard Been Stannard, VC, RD, RNR (1 Dec 1942 – 28 Mar 1943)
Lt.Cdr. John Neil Kelly Knight, RN (28 Mar 1943 – 24 Jun 1944)
Lt Cdr Karl Henry John Lynch Phibbs RN (24 June 1944 - May 1945)

Officers

Lt. Roderick Ian Alexander-Sinclair, RN(10 Sep 1938 – Oct 1938)                            
Mid. J F Barratt, RNR (29 Aug 1939 - )
Lt. T Bateman, RN (22 Mar 45 - )
S.Lt. F Bedford, RN (15 Jun 1939 - )
Tempy. Lt.Cdr(E) W A Bell DSC, RNR (19 Jun 1944 - )
S.Lt. B M A Braine, RN (30 Nov 1944 - )
Cd. Engineer H T Carter, RN (14 Oct 1937 - )
Lt. Thomas Rawdon Chattock, RN (30 Nov 1929 – Jan 1932)
S.Lt. S A G Godden, RN (19 Feb 1940 - )
Gunner (T)  J H Hebron, RN (8 Jun 1939 - )
Lt. Alec Lockhart Hobson, RN (7 Oct 1931 – Jan 1932)
Tempy. Gunner(T) C H Knight (13 April 1944)
Tempy. S.Lt. R McVarish, RNVR (Oct 1943 - )
S.Lt. Robert Andrew Morgan, RN (15 Jun 1939 – Apr 1940)
A/S. Lt. Charles Rennie Cowie Morison, RN (28 Oct 1941 – Aug 1942)
Lt. Adrian Paul Northey, RN (1 Jun 1939 - )
Tempy. S.Lt Harold Norman Nutt, RANVR (27 Dec 40 – Feb 1941)
Tempy. Surg. Lt. J P Partridge, RNVR (3 Jun 1944 - )
Tempy. S.Lt. R D Perry, RNVR (17 Jun 1943 - )
Tempy.S.Lt S E Rotwell, RNVR (24 Mar 1943 - )
Lt(E) EA Taylor RN (23 May 1932 – Sep 1932)
Tempy. Surg. Lt. L D Walker, RNVR (30 Jan 1940 - )
Lt D Williams RN (10 Sep 1938 – Oct 1938)
Tempy. S.Lt. D R Webster, RNVR (26 Feb 1940 - )

Former Full Members of the V & W Destroyer Assoociation
V. Anderson (Kings Lynn), G. Beckett (Birkenhead), R. Challacombe (Ivybridge, Devon), S. Claridge (Hook, Hants), Leading Stoker John Edward Ellson,
A. Muir BEM (Scone, Scotland), P. Scudds (Bucklebury, Berks), K. Williams (Bristol).

Please get in touch if you knew one of the men or have a family member who served in HMS Vimy


Some comic stories told by the men on the lower deck of HMS Vimy in
HARD LYING
the magazine of the V & W Destroyer Association

Conditions on V & W Class destroyers were so bad in rough weather that the men who served on them were paid hard-lying money. These stories by veterans who served on HMS Vimy were published in Hard Lying, the magazine of the V & W Destroyer Association and republished in 2005 by the Chairman of the Association, Clifford ("Stormy") Fairweather, in the book of the same name which is now out of print. I would like to hear from their families should they visit this page.


The destroyer on a voyage of blushes; by John Arthur Lucas-Garner, know to his shipmates on HMS Vimy
as "Luckey"

Contrary to popular opinion, when a warship encounters the enemy, all is not a well disciplined calm. The story commences in Freetown, West Africa. HMS Vimy, launched in 1917 and maintained at sea after 1930 by the sweat and colourful language of the engine room staff, was ordered to escort, with two other destroyers, the battleship Queen Elizabeth to the USA for repairs.  The voyage was uneventful until a short distance from the West Indies when going alongside the battleship for fresh bread etc we came a little too close, and riding up her anti-torpedo bulges, tore open our forecastle like a tin can on her armoured side. This caused great annoyance to the watch below, who were enjoying the traditional Naval custom of an afternoon siesta.  We retired blushing, followed by the caustic comments of Queen Elizabeth's ship's company.

The same evening at dusk a torpedo attack was made on one of the escorts. The three destroyers dropped a considerable number of depth charges with no apparent effect and the search for the U-boat was spread over a wide area. Night had fallen and we had lost sight of the other ships. Suddenly a submarine surfaced on a parallel course to the Vimy and only a short distance on our beam. In a matter of seconds 'A' gun opened fire, the submarine fired a red Very signal, which was the correct recognition signal of the day, and the submarine and Vimy altered course towards each other.

There was some doubt as to the identity of the submarine since we were close to the US Naval base at Trinidad and she could have been an Allied submarine, and as a result the order to cease fire was given. Not that this made much difference since although our gunners worked fast their aim was notoriously bad; they once bracketed a tug very nicely but missed the towed target by about a half a mile.  On this occasion, however, instead of adopting the usual roles when a destroyer encounters a surfaced U-boat  the submarine proceeded to ram us! 

During the ensuing confusion someone fired a snowflake rocket which illuminated the scene to the great satisfaction of all those present. The U-boat bounced and scraped down our port side, inflicting a certain amount of damage to both parties.  Our crew were gazing curiously at the astonishing sight of what seemed hordes of the enemy, clad in the unwarlike uniform of little black bathing drawers and rope soled shoes, busily engaged in throwing themselves into the sea.  Our Port propeller chewed into the Submarine's hull as she slid astern and not being built to withstand such maltreatment, she gracefully subsided into the depths.  After collecting the crew of the U-162, who incidentally only lost one of their number, we learnt that she had been seriously damaged by the depth charge attacks and would probably have sunk anyway.

We limped into the Port of Spain where we were patched up
at the US Naval Base and regaled by the Americans with ice cream and the latest Hollywood epics.  During this brief interlude I celebrated my 21st birthday with the delectable produce of the West Indies so dear to the heart of every matelot - rum!

Orders arrived for us to escort a small convoy to Gibraltar with the assistance of a Corvette. On the very first day of the voyage we spotted what seemed to be a periscope and after closing to 'Action Stations', opened fire but on approaching closer, how glad we were of the gunners notoriously poor marksmanship. What we had mistaken for a periscope was the mast of a crude raft, crowded with pathetic survivors of a torpedoed ship. Among them were a woman and three small children. They had been adrift for some considerable time and although the men on the raft had rigged a small piece of canvas to protect the children from the fierce tropical sun, the effects of the heat and the lack of drinking water left them in a pitiable condition. Our Doctor and S.B.A. tended to their needs and they were later transferred to a tanker that was calling at the nearby island of Tabago. We resumed our duties and continued the voyage without further incident.

After leaving Gibraltar we made our way to Portsmouth and from there the Vimy continued her work in the North Atlantic, taking part in other actions including the Normandy Landing. In 1945 like the rest of the V&Ws she was decommissioned and scrapped after having played a gallant part in two wars.   

Some more of Lucas Garner's stories about Vimy

Shortly after conversion to a Long Range Escort Vimy was steaming from Gib en route to Freetown, West Africa when the Asdic made a positive contact.  With a new Skipper and a green, but enthusiastic crew, everyone dashed to action stations. A depth charge was dropped and it was reported that the target was surfacing. All guns were immediately trained on the likely spot, when up came a ruddy great whale, he spouted, looked at us reproachfully and leisurely swam away. At the later 'Crossing the line' ceremony we presented the skipper with "The Order of the Whale" with a tin replica to hang around his neck.  We later sank the Italian submarine Malaspina so the 'dress rehearsal' had proved useful. 

A young O.D. said he was going to start smoking a pipe. His mates convinced him that he had to put in a request to the First Lieut for permission. This he did, and everyone along the line, including the coxswain fell in with the joke. The young seaman turned up at the table with the request; men and defaulters was piped and with most of the lower deck watching closely, he was told to march up to the table and produce his pipe. This was presented for Number One's inspection who asked the coxswain if it conformed to K.R.'s and A.I.'s regarding bowl size and stem length. He confirmed that this was so. The seaman was told to insert it in the correct orifice. He appeared mystified at this, but it dawned upon him what was meant and he placed it in his mouth. After being inspected at various angles, permission was granted and a pleased young O.D. went back to his mess.

A request was put in for a 'Grudge Fight' and when asked why, the aggrieved matelot said "One of my mess mates had pinched my banger". Permission was granted as such a heinous offence could only be expiated by the shedding of blood. The fight was held on the foc'sle during the first dog watch under the close supervision of the G.I. After a few blows had been exchanged, honour was satisfied, the boxing gloves removed, hands shaken and everyone returned to their respective messes, knowing that justice had been done.

When Vimy was entering Falmouth she ran aground on a sand bank. Despite going 'full astern' she wouldn't shift. The skipper was desperate, as running your vessel aground meant big trouble for a Captain. He had 'Clear lower deck, hands lay aft' piped and all proceeded to the stern. The order was given for everyone to jump simultaneously (all together, at the same time, for the uninitiated). After several jumps by all concerned and with the engines going full astern, the suction of the sand was broken and we became unstuck. It must have been an unusual sight for the people ashore to see so many matelot's behaving in such a peculiar manner. Although on second thoughts I don't know.

We sank U-187 in a combined attack with HMS Beverley and some of the U-boat survivors were placed in the various messes two of them in the E.R.A's mess, one of whom spoke perfect English, I believe he was the navigator. It seemed very strange to be living with and conversing with our bitter enemies. An amazing incident occurred one night when action stations sounded. As you can imagine everyone was dead to the world and this German went round shaking the sleepers, shouting "U-boat!, U-boat!" It was obvious that he did not want to be sunk again.

During daylight hours on convoy escort duty a torpedo attack was made on the Vimy. I was on deck at the time and could see this torpedo heading right for the spot where I was standing. I was petrified and thought the ship would be finished. Fortunately the ship was low on fuel and supplies and was high in the water, the torpedo passed beneath the hull. My 'Oppo' in the engine room swore he heard the torpedo scrape the keel as it passed under us! Anyway the helm was put hard over so we could get to the position where the attack originated. The wheel was moved so quickly that the rudder jammed in the hard over position and the steering engine shaft that actuates the rudder mechanism sheared. The Vimy proceeded at high speed to run in ever decreasing circles and everyone knows what can happen in such circumstances! It took us about six hours to rectify the damage. Until then we had to steer by engines and with the rudder hard over we proceeded in a crab like manner, strange to behold.

At the end of one arduous convoy (although they were all like that) we were cheered into Liverpool docks by other escorts tied up alongside. Our skipper was so taken up by all this public admiration that he forgot that we were still underway and in full view of all the top brass and the assembled ships company Vimy rammed the lock gates and put a two foot dent in the stem of the ship. As can be imagined the cheering intensified, but the skipper refused an encore!

One of the stokers had a nice little side-line. He made badges and brooches for his mates to give to their girl friends. This hobby entailed the use of a blow lamp and he used the small forward store as his workshop. The blow lamp got knocked over, the store being full of 'Bluebell' metal polish, cotton waste etc; it began to burn like mad. Being a well drilled stoker, he pulled the water tight door closed and once he was out side he raised the alarm. The smoke spread rapidly and the ships side glowed red hot. The fire was situated beneath the Hedgehog ammunition lockers and panic ensued in trying to get the projectiles removed. The ship was in the middle of Wembury Bay in the middle of a large portion of the invasion fleet ready for 'D Day'. Fire boats came from everywhere and water and foam poured down on us. Surprisingly the damage was slight and did not affect the ship's operations.

Finally I came off the middle watch one night and entered the mess, which was in darkness with the exception of the blue night light. I poured myself a drink from the carafe and failed to notice the glass contained a number of cockroaches which had fallen in and could not get out. I swallowed the lot and it wasn't until I felt them going down my throat that I realised what was happening. I was so tired I paid no attention, I just climbed into my hammock and slept.     
 

Seasickness

A rise, a fall, a long suspense
A word just spoken, in the air.
A reel, a swerve, a time intense 
As eyes rest on uneaten fare.  

A sigh, a gulp, a quick upheave, 
A dash to parley with a wave. 
Too late! The deck does now receive 
What I had fondly hoped to save.   

O God! O Christ! How I blaspheme! 
Your sea, your waves, your windy sky! 
O man of earth! How I do scream 
Oh let me be, Oh let me die. 




Of steel, of men, of gun and shell
Seasick I care for no such strength.
Give me the earth, a cool green dell. 
I'll give you all the ocean's length.  

What man, can stand, the bile so vile 
That slimy coming from inside? 
It pains, it strains, Oh rasping file, 
In regions of the unseen side!  

I fling my soul to tide and wind,
God, do your worst with it, or give 
Ease to my tummy full of wind;
Or let me die where fishes live. 

Able Seaman Richard B. Wright 
Submitted by A Muir BEM, HMS Vimy

HMS Vimy in Atlantic gale
HMS Vimy in an Atlantic gale
Photographed by Richard Holland


Hardships! Hardships! You don't know what hardships are!
So say's Joe Beckett, HMS Vimy

I'll come clean, I was born into a middle class family. My father was a bank official. My older brother and I went to Birkenhead Institute, this was a grammar school and my father paid ten guineas a year for each of us.  When WW2 broke out I was thirteen and evacuated to Oswestry in Shropshire. I left school when I was sixteen in 1942 and entered Martins Bank at their head office in Liverpool.

Very unfortunately and tragically my brother John was killed whilst serving as a Sub Lieutenant Observer in the Fleet Air Arm. Quite naturally my parents were devastated, and from then on, all their love and affection was centred upon me.

I was a corporal in the ATC (Air Training Corps) as I had always wanted to fly in the RAF. Because of my brothers death whilst flying, my mother was very insistent that I did not fly. Consequently I volunteered for the Royal Navy through a system called the 'Y' scheme, which was supposed to be a short cut to obtaining a commission, so I got my papers in June 1944 a couple of months before my eighteenth birthday. I entered the RN in HMS Royal Arthur, 'Skeggy' (Skegness). One of the things I remembered there, was going on a run ashore and booking at a theatre to see nude females in the show. They had boa feathers and were not allowed to move!

During my interview by a RN Lieutenant I was asked why I wanted to join the Navy. In my utter stupidity, I said, "I really wanted to join the RAF and fly, but my mother wouldn't let me, so I joined the Navy as second best".  The RN Lieutenant went puce and nearly bust a gut. He said in no uncertain terms that I'd better make the Navy "Bloody first best from now on!"

Amazingly I wasn't thrown off my course and was drafted to HMS Excalibur near Crew for my initial training, which was very demanding, both physically and mentally, but an absolutely super for a fit eighteen year old. We weren't even tired by the second dog watch, we had enough energy to play very competitive soccer and hurley in the evenings.  

After twelve weeks half of Effingham Division passed out and half failed, but there were three of us about whom they could not make up their minds. We were interviewed by four officers chaired by the C.O. Capt. Figgins RN, a very formidable character.  I can't remember much about it except that the final question was: "Did I think I had done well enough in the interview to pass?"  Of course I didn't know, but I figured if I said "No" I was bound to fail, so, I said "Yes", and they passed me!  

I was the drafted to Dauntless for eight weeks sea training. We were taught everything, seamanship, navigation, how to cox a whaler, how to fire a six inch gun etc. We all had to wear an arm band with a number on it, so we were observed all the time. The only time that you felt private was when you were having a Ess-Aitch-Eye-Tee! After eight weeks I was told that I was too immature to continue officer training, and was sent to sea as a matelot to see if I could mature enough to have another bite at the cherry at a later date. This was considered the "Kiss of death".

The next step was a draft to HMS Vimy based at Sheerness. The draft was routed via Chatham barracks and an overnight stay in the infamous tunnel. Any minute one expected to meet the artful dodger or Fagan from Oliver Twist! On the trot boat taking me to Vimy, we passed a ship with a hole in the side. This was Wallace that had hit a mine off Ostend.

When we arrived on Vimy they were piping "Hands to stations for leaving harbour" and I was told we were taking a convoy to Ostend! I was shit scared. So there was this young eighteen year old in December 1944, who thought that everyone lived in a semi-detached and voted Conservative, plonked into number one mess in the forecastle of a V&W, the youngest and greenest OD imaginable. If you have never lived in number one mess of a V&W destroyer you have never lived. Talk about "See Naples and die".

When the sea was rough, the mess deck was awash. The heads (toilets) had no doors, the washing facilities were primitive beyond belief! The Captain had a bath, the officers had one between them, about 30-40 PO's had six wash basins between them (no taps) the rest of the crew had six between them. To fill them with hot water, you pumped cold water into a tank over the coal fired galley, when hot, filled a bucket and carried it to the wash place.

Like all V&Ws, number one mess contained a steam winch which was used when weighing anchor, around this was a hammock netting where we kept our hammocks when not in use. It emitted so much steam that our hammocks soon became sodden wet. No wonder that TB was rife in the pre-war Navy. So this was to be my home for the next six months, and unbelievably I enjoyed myself.  I had my first alcoholic run ashore with the two Geordies who had befriended me, taught me how to drink pints of mild, and generally looked after me.

Our job was to escort convoys half across the Atlantic and swap them with the Canadians. I had two action stations. One was part of the depth charge party aft. This was exciting but hard work, dangerous too. The other was as telegraph man in the wheel house, a real cushy number; at times I was allowed to take the wheel and steer the ship, this was a real thrill.  

VE day we were alongside Sheerness docks. Half the ships company had twenty-four hours leave, including yours truly and the two Geordies, Green and Laverick. We went up the smoke (Naval slang for London) for the day. It was wonderful, it is hard to describe, it was so packed with people, it felt as though the whole of the UK were there, singing in the streets, pubs ran out of beer, male and female strangers were snogging each other, and more, wherever you went. I often wondered how many babies were born in the first half of February 1946. It must have been a record.  

Whilst aboard Vimy I was a C.W. Candidate and unless you have been one you cannot imagine what it is like, not being accepted by either the lower or upper deck, it was like being a sea leper. Nevertheless, as long as I kept my place and did my job I was tolerated. There was another C.W. Candidate aboard whose name was Jacques. He was known to the matelot's as Jack Hughes!

Before I left Vimy I was made A.B. And was very proud of this. Also my sea time aboard entitled me to the Atlantic Star of which I am extremely proud. On reflection, when I think of the sailors that did four or five years on Atlantic convoys covering the dark days of 1942-3, I feel very humble.  Eventually Vimy was paid off and I was drafted to HMS Raleigh at Torpoint, this was more pre-officer training. Quite hard work and very different to being at sea in a V&W.

I would like to express our thanks on behalf of the H.O. Ratings and the RNVR officers to the regular RN men, both officers and ratings. I appreciate that we were often cack-handed and bloody useless but by and large you tolerated us in your typical RN way. Thank you most sincerely. 

Note
"The 'Y' scheme recruited educationally qualified (School Certificate holders or better) young men whilst still at school and were 'potential officer material'. Upon call up they completed basic new entrant training as naval ratings before joining HMS King Alfred. CW (Commission and Warrant) scheme candidates were specially selected men from the lower deck, serving ratings with a minimum of 3 months' sea experience assessed as having officer potential by their commanding officers. CW and 'Y' scheme cadet ratings comprised the majority of the trainees to pass through King Alfred; they were not afforded the title 'officers under training' until the final two weeks of the 12 week course."


The launch of HMS Vancouver (1917) and the bell of HMS Vimy (1928)

Mallet with dent where it hit the chisel at the launch
When a ship is launched a mallet and chisel cuts the cord which releases the champagne which smashes against the bow of the ship. The mallet and chisel are presented in a wooden casket to the person who launched the ship but often get separated. The mallet which launched HMS Vancouver belongs to Alan Dowling

With this mallet I
Mrs R.N. Marshall
Successfully launched
HMS VANCOUVER
From the Naval Construction Works of
William Beardmore and Co Ld DALMUIR
28th December 1917

Brass polate on the mallet used to launch HMS Vancouver in 1917
Brass plate on the Mallet used at launch of HMS Vancouver in 1917



Badge of HMS Vancouver

Badges

Left: a ship's badge of HMS Vancouver launched in 1917.

Right: a ship's badge of HMS Vimy after the name change.

Both badges are the property of Alan Dowling, an avid collector of ships' bells badges and crests. To find out more about their design and use on warships of the Royal Navy click on the link to visit his web page.

If you have items which you think may be of interest to the families of the men who served in HMS Vimy please get in touch and it may be possible to add them to this page.

The scale of the two badges is the same
Badge of HMS Vimy

hip's Bell of HMS Vimy

The Ship's Bell of HMS Vimy

In April 1928 while in reserve HMS Vancouver was renamed HMS Vimy, to release the name for a Canadian Destroyer, HMCS Vancouver. The new name HMS Vimy commemorated the capture of Vimy Ridge by the Canadian Army in 1917.

The ship's bell of HMS Vimy was bought by Rodney Scott Moncrieff who lives in the former mining town of Hedley 200 miles east of Vancouver, British Columbia. It was rededicated and is rung on Remembrance Day at cenotaphs and war memorials throughout the state in memory of the Canadians who did not return home.

The bell will be rung 100 times on the 11 November 2018 at the Princeton Branch of the British Legion.

Rodney served in the Royal Canadian Navy on destroyers and his grandfather, Max Collins was a machine gun captain at Vimy Ridge.




Peter Scudds - Another Vimy Story

Sheerness is surely the most miserable and depressing of places for a draft to 'clew up' four CW candidates straight from school and we joined HMS Vimy there in mid winter. The atmosphere on the old V&Ws was always friendly and we
received a warm welcome and it was not without misgivings that we welcomed the end of the German war six months later.

Those six months were full and rewarding. First as 'Hedgehog' sweeper; what an unfortunate weapon, more lethal to HM ships than U-boats. The Gunner 'T' (head of the anti submarine department) sought me out in the mess. Was I going to be on Defaulters? Not a bit of it - I was congratulated for my industry in making it possible to train the Hedgehog (ahead throwing anti submarine weapon) left and right, which had not been previously achieved.

Then as dinghy sweeper; the CO, Lt Cdr Karl Henry John Lynch Phibbs RN, was a passionate sailor and I began to enjoy Sheerness and the Thames Estuary since as an extension of my usual duty I was a crew member of the whaler dropped at Deal and sailed to Sheerness.

The best fish and chips ever tasted arose out of provisioning a ship for the North Sea patrol when orders changed to escorting an Atlantic convoy. An 'Asdic Ping' resulted in us depth charging a shoal of cod, scrambling nets were rigged and the cod hauled aboard - big eats.

Another occasion illustrated British over confidence. We were very suspicous of Spanish fishing boats in the convoy lane which ignored orders to heave to. 'B' gun put a shot across their bows, the gun crews changed into number threes [a blue serge sailor suit with red badges, worn for normal occasions], we manned the whaler and boarded what we imagined to be the boat of the senior officer, the vessel was subjected to an abortive search and ordered South. It was only when we returned to Vimy that we realised that we had carried no arms which was certainly not the case with the Spanish!

Our motor boat was useless so once again 'B' gun's crew manned the whaler and this time, when slipped, we fell into the trough of a wave instead of the crest, shipping an enormous amount of Atlantic water. We were taking the doctor to an American Liberty ship, as a crew member had suspected appendicitis. The doctor and S.B.A. grasped the climbing ladder as the whaler turned turtle; the bottom boards had split and 'B' gun's crew were in the drink but managed to board the liberty ship quite quickly despite the Americans throwing both ends of the line to them!

That was the first time 'B' gun's crew had seen drink dispensing machines and they finally returned to Vimy with excellent warm clothing and sea boots. That was not the end of the story because we manoeuvred alongside the whaler, hooked on and manned the falls. The weight of the whaler and water caused the davits to buckle, twenty eight years had taken their toll. A jury rig from the top of the mast enabled the whaler to be shipped - with care. The main complaint of the whaler's crew was that the weather had became calm and the motor boat was able to collect the doctor and S.B.A. who had been looking forward to a hero's welcome in the United States.

We were senior officer of the last Atlantic convoy of the war. As Quarter Master I was able to swipe the White Ensign flown from Vimy, sadly now mislaid.   At Sheerness we de-stored and de-ammunitioned ship and thence to Immingham. Whilst the CW's were excused duty pending drafting, this Quartermaster was required to take the wheel. Vimy well lightened did not take kindly to being 'paid off' and showed her displeasure by bobbing around like a cork in a mill race.



 
If you want to find out more about the wartime service of a member of your family who served on HMS Vimy 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 Vimy you would like to contribute to the web site please contact Frank Donald
Frank is the son of Lt.Cdr. Colin George Walter Donald, RN, CO HMS Vimy, 8 Nov 1939 – 23 May 1940

 

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