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

HMS Viscount
HMS Viscount
Crown Copyright - Imperial War Museum  Ref. FL 21150

HMS Viscount the ...

Following .....

Battle Honours

Commanding Officers

Lt.Cdr. Miles Ambrose Gregory Child, RN (14 Jul 1939 - 14 Jan 1942)
Lt. Michael Southcote Townsend, RN (24 Aug 1939 - mid 1941)
Lt.Cdr. John Valentine Waterhouse, RN (9 Dec 1941 - 18 Jul 1943)
Lt.Cdr. Leslie Ernest Woodhouse, RN (18 Jul 1943 - early 1945)


Midshipman R A Bevitt, RNVR (1943)
Sub Lieut J A Ingoldby, RN (1943)
Lt Richard F. Jolly, RN (Nov 1923 - Jan 1925)
Lt Peter George La Niece RN (July 1943 - June 1944)

Sub Lt Kenneth M. White RNVR  (June 1943 - April 1944)

Former Full Members of the V & W Destroyer Assoociation
Herbert D. Blackbourn (Boston, Lincs), K. Taylor (Sutton, Surrey)

Please get in touch if you knew these men or have a family member who served in HMS Viscount

Herbert Dawson Blackbourn
Life Member of the V & W Destroyer Association

Herbert Blackbourn
hip's Cat
Herbert Dawson Blackbourn was born at Sibsey in Lincolnshire on 15 December 1920 and was living with his Mother, Annie Blacbourn, and working as a tractor driver on a nearby farm when he volunteered to join the Navy on the 11 March 1940 "until the end of the present emergency". He was just over 5ft 7 inches in height with brown hair and blue eyes.

After basic training at HMS Royal Arthur at Skegness on the east coast and HMS Drake, Plymouth, he joined the Armed Merchant Cruiser, HMS Cilicia, as an Ordinary Seaman (JX 190674) on 15 August 1940 for six months.

Albert Cooke described the routine on the Peoples War website:

"We sailed to take up northern patrols around Iceland, Greenland, and the Denmark Straits, with orders to stop and search any vessels which could be carrying war supplies to Germany. We were next ordered to escort convoys leaving Britain for 200 miles into the Atlantic, and then return again escorting convoys bound for Britain."

Herbert Blackbourn left HMS Celicia on the 16 February 1941 and was sent to HMS Ganges, the former boys Training Establishment at Shotley, on the opposite side of the River Orwell from Harwich. In 1940 the boys at HMS Ganges had moved to St George, a former holiday Camp on the Isle of Man, and Ganges was now used for the training of Hostilities Only (HO) ratings. He may have been acquiring the electrical knowledge needed by a future Torpedoman on a destroyer. The V & Ws were originally called Motor Torpedo Boats but in this war they made little or no use of their torpedoes and  the Torpedomen looked after the depth charges, the main means of attacking the U-Boats which threatened the Atlantic convoys. Blackbourne was rated as an Able Seaman (AB) after a month at Ganges and left on 17 February 1942 to join HMS VIscount at its base in Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

Herbert Dawson served aboard Viscount as an AB until 2 March 1944 and throughout most of that period she was based at Freetown as part of the Freetown Escort Force.


The service record for Herbert Blackbourn records the dates for each of his postings and made it easy to record his story in outline above but when it comes to putting flesh on the bones there is almost nothing to go on. Three very poor quality photographs plus some intriguing press cuttings about an action in which HMS Viscount rammed and sunk a German U-boat. The cutting from the Sunday Pictorial is dated 21 December 1942 which makes it possible to identify the action described by Googling the names of the ships but what one always hopes for but rarely finds is a personal account of the action by the man himself. Herbert must have told the story to friends and family on many occasions but memories fade and if not recorded in letters or a journal are lost leaving only official documents such as the Report of Proceedings which the Commanding Officer was required to write which are preserved in the National Archives at Kew. They are normally accurate but stripped of all emotion and fail to convey the excitement of events as they unfold.

the bow of HMS Viscount after ramming he U-BoatPress cutting

In October 1942 HMS Viscount was part of the escort for Convoy SC1CW when it was attacked by ten u-boats of the Wotan Wolf Pack. Viscount rammed and sank U-661. There were no survivors. Viscount was badly damaged and had to return to the UK for repair.

"When HMS Viscount rammed a U-boat on a stormy night in Mid -Atlantic, the Commanding Officer, knowing his ship, told his men 'If I had my choice where to ram a submarine, I should not have picked a spot 1000 miles from home. I cannot promise to get you home this week, but we'll get home some day'. The ramming had torn off a great section of her bow. A head sea or rough weather would have finished an ordinary destroyer off. Every scrap of timber on board, even the booms and the ensign jackstaff, was used to shore up the remaining bulkheads. Gale warnings were received. The ship ran into a fog. Twisted plates acting as false rudders through her off course. Five hundred miles from home the deck of yet another forward compartment collapsed into the sea bringing the weight of the weather against another bulkhead. Even the mainmast was rigged for felling in case of further shoring was needed.

Five days later the Viscount came home, and the dockyard workmen  lined the dock to cheer her in. They knew a good ship when they saw one. Their father's had built her."
Nottinghamshire Evening Post 26th September 194?

Screen Plaquie for HMS Viscount (eBay)
Bronze Screen Plaque of HMS Viscount
Offered for sale on eBay

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

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