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




HMS Walker
       Courtesy Bill Perks

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

HMS Walker (D27) was built at Dumbarton on the north bank of the Clyde by William Denny and Brothers, launched on 29 November 1917 and completed and commissioned on the the same day, the 12th February 1918.


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take a look at this online guide for researching V &W Class Destroyers

And if you are interested contact bill forster <venomous at holywellhousepublishing.co.uk>


Commanding Officers

Lt. Cdr Lawrence F.N. Ommanney RN (July 1922 - August 1923)
Lt. Cdr Guy B. Amery-Parkes RN (Dec 1928 - Oct 1930)
Lt. Aubrey St Clair-Ford, RN (1932)
Cdr. Leslie Swain Saunders, RN (1934)
Cdr. Wilfrid James Cameron Robertson, RN (Aug 1939 - Jan 1940)
Lt.Cdr. Arthur Andre Tait, RN (Jan 1940 - Feb 1941)
Cdr. Donald George Frederick Wyville MacIntyre, RN (Feb 1941 - Feb 1942)
Cdr. James Marjoribanks Rowland, RN (Feb 1942 - early 1943)
Lt.Cdr. Arthur Nichol Rowell, RN (Apr 1943 - June 1944)
Lt. Cdr. Antony Francis Trew, SANF(V) (29 Sep 1944 - May 1945]
Lt. Thomas William Lancaster, DSC, RN (June 1945 - July 1945)


Officers

This short list of officers who served on HMS Walker during World War II all have entries on the unithistories.com web site. Further names from the Navy List will be added later.

Lt John H. Adams RN (August 1939 - Dec 1940)
Sub Lt Robert Boyd RN (Feb - April 1940)
Lt John "Jack" G.P. Brownrigg RN (Dec 1927 - August 1929)
Sub Lt John E.S. Bush RN (July - Sept 1932)
Lt Desmond L.C. Craig RN (Jan 1933 - Jan 1934)
Sub Lt Arthur Dodd RNVR (1944)
Lt George V.M. Dolphin RN (Nov 1927 - August 1929)
Gnr(T) Ernest G. Evans RN (June 1939 - April 1940)
Lt(E) Michael E. Evans RN (Dec 1930 - Jan 1932)
Lt Cdr Reginald G.C. Haines RN (1942)
Lt(E) Ernest C.E. Hughes SANF(V) (March 1944 - Jan 1945)
Lt Derek W. Napper RN (Sept 1944 - May 1945)
Mid John B. Rooper RN (May - Aug 1922)
Lt Peter W.F. Stubbs RN (Sept - Dec 1938)
Lt Arthur O. Watson RN (April 1924 - Jan 1925)

HARD LYING

This short uncredited article was first 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 hope to replace it with a more detailed description of the sinking of the three uboats by Paul Smith the grandson of George Smith, the Wireless Operator in HMS Walker, during these events. He supplied the photograph of uboat ace Otto Kretschmer disembarking from Walker at Liverpool after Macintyre sunk U-99 and his grandfather kept in touch with his former CO long after the war ended.

KretschmerMacintyreBy early 1941 merchant ship losses had become disastrously high. The U-boat aces were having a very successful time until the V&Ws took a hand in March. On 8 March, HMS Wolverine, commanded by Commander J.M. Rowland, attacked and sunk U-70 south of Iceland while escorting convoy OB 293. Wolverine and Verity were jointly credited with sinking U-47 commanded by U-boat ace, Gunther Prien in the same action.

Soon afterwards Convoy HX 112 was attacked off the Hebrides and HMS Walker, commanded by Captain Donald Macintyre (on right), sighted the wake of what could only be a U-boat and immediately attacked with depth charges. The explosion of the depth charges was followed by another explosion and an orange flash spread across the surface and we knew that we had made a 'kill'. About half an hour later Walker had another Asdic contact and again attacked with depth charges. Vanoc joined in the attack. While this was going on lights had been spotted in the distance which could only be lifeboats. Walker and Vanoc set forth to investigate. They were the lifeboats from one of the merchant ships that had been sunk. While Vanoc kept vigil the Walker picked up the survivors and they returned to the scene of the attack. Walker noticed that Vanoc, contrary to orders, was going at full speed, and a few moments later signalled to Walker "Have rammed and sunk U-boat". HMS Vanoc had spotted U-100 on her Type 286M radar, the first confirmed British surface ship radar sighting of a U-boat. HMS Vanoc rammed U-100 and her commander Joachim Schepke was crushed against the periscope mast. There were only six survivors.

It was almost unbelievable that so many U-boats should be nearby, but it was not long before, once again an Asdic contact was made and further depth charges were dropped. Soon afterwards Vanoc signalled to Walker,  "U-boat surfaced astern of me". Both ships after illuminating the U-boat opened fire with their 4-inch guns. The U-boat signaled by lamp "We are sinking". The crew of U-99 were were picked up by the British destroyers.  Their Captain was the much decorated U-boat Ace Otto Kretschmer (left). In just three short actions the old V&Ws had disposed of three of Germany's U-boat aces and had made a huge contribution to the winning of the 'Battle of the Atlantic'.



The capture of Kretschmer in March 1941 by Captain Donald MacIntyre of HMS Walker is described in his book U-Boat Killer (London: Wiedenfield and Nicolson, 1956) and in The Golden Horseshoe: The Wartime Career of Otto Kretschmer, U-Boat Ace by Terence Robertson (Evans Brothers, 1955).
Donald Macintyre was the first wartime CO of HMS Venomous

The men in HMS Walker tell their stories of Arctic Convoys 1943-4

Albert FoulserBill PerksAlbert Foulser (left) and Bill Perks (right) met for the first time when they joined HMS Walker at Chatham after her conversion to a Long Range Escort in April 1943. They were shipmates and close friends on Atlantic Convoys to Gibraltar and Arctic Convoys to Murmansk until Walker was paid off at Barrow in Furness at the end the war. They next met at the Cenotaph in 2005 when they were awarded the Arctic Emblem and heard their names called out.

I interviewed Bill Perks at the V & W reunion at Eastbourne in 2014 and Albert Foulser at the reunion in St Ives near Cambridge in 2016. Read the brief outlines below and click on the links near the bottom of this page to hear them tell their own stories. The photographs were taken by Albert Foulser whose parents bought him a Box Brownie camera in 1932 for 5/-. He was the only man with a camera on the ship and he gave copies of the photographs he took to his shipmates including Bill Perks.

Ship's Company of HMS Walker
Lt.Cdr. Arthur Nichol Rowell, RN and the ship's company of HMS Walker at the start of her new Commission in April 1943
 “Albert Foulser, 4th from right in row behind the shield (ship’s crest)” and “Bill Perks is in row in front of shield, 5th from left.”
Courtesy of Albert Foulser


Albert George Foulser was born in Walthamstow, North East London, on 11 August 1924, the son of a green-grocer. He was the second of five sons and had four sisters. He left school at 14 and trained as a cabinet maker in a furniture factory but they were all made redundant when the factory changed to making aircraft. By the time he was eighteen and received his call-up papers he was "filling in" working for the father of a friend as a "bottle washer'! He did his four months basic training at HMS Glendower at Pwllheli, a former Butlins holiday camp in North Wales. He returned to Chatham and was posted to HMS Walker which had just been converted to a Long Range Escort (LRE). He is still in good health living with his wife in Loughton, Essex.

Leslie William Perks was born on 31 March 1925 at Leamington Spa and still lives there all his life. He left school at 14 and became a despatch rider with the National Fire Service. He was a a few months short of  his eighteenth birthday when he decided to join the RAF but was told to come back when he was older so he joined the Navy instead. He did ten weeks basic training at HMS Ganges and going up the mast in the early morning was "a frightening experience".  He had to prove he could swim by putting on a big "duck suit" and floating in the pool for three minutes before he was allowed to go on the ferry to Harwich. If you couldn't swim you had to go to Ipswich for an evening out. He was sent from the depot at Chatham to Tobemory for an Asdic course but they were all "ping happy" so he deliberately failed the course. On returning to Chatham he joined HMS Walker as an OD at the start of her new Commission after conversion to a Long Range Escort (LRE). He died on Bank Holiday Monday in May 2016.

HMS Walker in nKola Inlet, Murmansk
HMS Beagle (H30) in the Kola inlet near the Russian naval base of Polyanoe
Courtesy of Albert Foulser

HMS Walker had just been converted to a Long Range Escort, in the King George VI Docks in London. His best friend on HMS Walker was Albert Foulser, a shipmate in the V & W Destroyer Association. They were part of a new ship’s company, very few if any had served with Donald Macintyre, the renowned "U-Boat Killer" (and first wartime CO of HMS Venomous) who commanded HMS Walker from March 1941 to February 1942.  Albert took the photographs of the ships company on this page and is standing alongside Bill Perks in both photographs. Their first CO was Royal Navy, the second was "wavy navy" (RNVR), a South African. They "worked up" in Scotland and were then sent to Londonderry, their base for escort duties to Gibraltar. On one occasion they ran out of fuel and had to go into Azores, a neutral country, to refuel.

They were sent to Gairloch and fitted out with cold weather gear for Arctic Convoys. The convoys formed up in Loch Ewe. Bill Perks and Albert Foulser were on four Arctic Convoys (JW63, RA.63, RA.61 and RA.577) to Polyarnoe, the Russian naval base near Murmansk on the Kola inlet from late 1943 or early 1944. Billo Perk's action station was aft on the deck charges and there was a safety line with a sling to help you get there safely. When an officer failed to turn up for his watch he was found to have left the wardroom at the stern but had been washed overboard on his way to the bridge. The water froze on the top, guard rails, focsle and you had to chip ice to prevent the ship becoming unstable and capsising.

Survivors from the William S Thayer
Russian seamen on HMS Walker after being rescued from the William S Thayer
Courtesy of Albert Foulser

On the 30 April 1944 as HMS Walker left Polyanoe a Liberty Ship, William S Thayer, was torpedoed and they managed to go bow to bow and saved 22 men with 21 being rescued by HMS Whitehall. They were mostly Russian seamen being taken to Scotland to crew the Royal Sovereign which was on loan to the Soviet Navy.  Walker already had some American sailors onboard, in addition to her own crew so was quite crowded.  On another convoy the stanchions above the focastle were washed away and mess deck badly damaged and they went into Iceland where the Mess Deck was shored up with timber instead of being repaired. They escorted a convoy of troops from Milford Haven to the D-Day beaches but from then on were local escorts, Stranraer to Larne, until being paid off at Barrow in Furness.  Bill Perks was sent to Malta to join a small minesweeper, L76, with a crew of 17 and they swept the North African coast, the Aegean and the Adriatic before being drafted back to Chatham and demobbed in 1946.

HMS Walker in Srctic waters HMS Walker in Arctic waters

Bill Pers in 1944 anbd 2014 and the Kola Inlet, Arctic Russia

Bill Perks, as a young rating in 1944 and wearing his Arctic Star in 2014, and a photograph of the Kola Inlet near Murmansk in Arctic Russia taken from HMS Walke
Courtesy of Albert Foulser

Bill Forster recorded an interview with Bill Perks at Eastbourne in 2014 and Albert Foulser at St Ives in 2016
You can click on the links to hear them describe their wartime service on HMS Walker
be patient - it takes a couple of minutes before the file opens and they start speaking


War and Peace
Stories from the Wardroom

HMS Walker Ship's Company (trew as CO)
Lt. Cdr. Antony Francis Trew, SANF(V) and the ship's company of HMS Walker in October 1944
First Lt Derek William Napper is sitting on the right of Lt Cdr Trew, the CO, and Lt Sandy Powell on his left
Arthur Dodd's copy of this photograph is dated February 1945

Courtesy of Albert Foulser

Napoleon
Napoleon Bonaparte
Shipmates in HMS Walker
From left to right: Sub Lt Arthur Dodd RNVR, Lt Derek W. Napper RN and Sub Lt Dacre "Sandy" Powell RNVR
Are the three young officers posing as Napoleon Bonaparte or as Britain's naval hero Horatio Nelson?
 Courtesy of Philip Dodd
Horatio Nelson, Naples 17988
Horatio Nelson
                                                    

Derek Napper was born in 1922 at Abu Road, a railway town in Western India where his father was a civil engineer working for the Bombay, Baroda & Central India Railway (1920-1938). He was 14 when he was sent to Dartmouth and by the time he joined HMS Walker as First Lt on the 3 October 1944 he had been Mentioned in Despatches while serving in HMS Havock as a Midshipman at the Battle of Matapan and served in the battleship HMS Valiant and the destroyers HMS Ilex and HMS Calpe. The two junior officers were both RNVR called up for service for the duration of the war but Napper stayed on and in 1971 was Cdre D.W. Napper RN, Chief of Staff of the Far East Fleet.

All three endured several Arctic Convoys to Northern Russia in HMS Walker and a charming little book written by Roxane Houston based on the diaries she kept during her time as an officer in the WRNS vividly depicts this period in their lives together. Roxanna was based at the HQ of the Senior Officer Assault Ships and Craft (SOASC) Greenock on the Clyde and was friendly with Jane Price who worked in the Convoy Routing Office dealing with the merchant ships at nearby Gourock. HMS Walker was in harbour and Derek Napper was the brother of a friend of Jane's which resulted in an invitation from her CO Lt Cdr Tony Trew to bring some friends aboard for a party.Derek Napper met his future wife, Isobel Cowie, at this party.

"It was a great evening, full of laughter. Tony Trew was a charming host, Derek Napper, the brother of Jane's friend, showed us all over the ship, and Dacre Powell (usually called Sandy Powell after a current popular comedian) a shy but attentive companion. We all got on very well, and Jane promptly arranged a reciprocal evening in the guest room at Belleaire [the WRNS quarters in Greenock]."
Changing Course - The Wartime Experiences of a Member of The Women's Royal Naval Service 1939-1945; by Roxanne Houston. Grubb Street, 2005.

This was in October shortly before HMS Walker left as part of the escort for Convoy JW61 Liverpool (20th Oct) to the Kola Inlet (Oct 28th) and return convoy RA61 to Loch Ewe (Nov 2nd to Nov 9th). Roxane and her friends were shocked to see the state of the ship when she returned and even more so by the exhausted look of the young officers they invited to an early Christmas dinner. Derek Napper would tell his son of 60ft waves and having to clear ice from the superstructure to avoid the ship becoming top heavy.



If you have stories or photographs of HMS Walker you would like to contribute to the web site please contact Bill Forster
Find out how you can help us research this ship and build this web site



If you want to find out more about the wartime service of a member of your family who served on HMS Walker you should first obtain a copy of their service record
To find out how follow this link: http://www.holywellhousepublishing.co.uk/servicerecords.html



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