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

HMS Warwick
               The 78th anniversary of the sinking of HMS Warwick on 20 February 1944 with the loss of 66 lives

Warwick was commissioned in March 1918 and was Vice Admiral Sir Roger Keyes Flag Ship for the raid on Zeebrugge 22-3 April. She also took part in the second raid on Ostend on 10 May and was heavily damaged when a mine broke her back and she had to be towed back to Dover by HMS Whirlwind. Warwick was at Scapa Flow in November 1918 when the Grand Fleet received the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet. She was stationed in the Mediterranean in the 20’s before being put in Reserve in the 30’s.

HMS Warwick was re-commissioned in August 1939 and joined the fleet at Plymouth. When the Aviemore was sunk by U-31 on 16 September 1939 in the first attack on a convoy in World War II HMS Warwick
rescued eleven crew members and landed them at Liverpool. In February 1940 she was deployed to the Western Approaches Escort Force for Atlantic convoy defence; protecting convoys, searching for and attacking U-boats which attacked the convoy and rescuing survivors. In November 1940, with the formation of distinct escort groups, she joined 7 EG. In December she was mined and spent the next four months in dock for repairs.

In March 1941
Warwick rejoined Western Approaches Command in the Atlantic. After a successful Warship Week campaign she was adopted by the city of Warwick. From January 1942 after the entry of the USA into the war and the opening of the U-boat offensive off the US east coast (Operation Drumbeat) she was detached for loan service with the United States Navy. From June she was in the West Indies serving with USN and RCN ships of the Caribbean Escort Force on anti-submarine patrol and convoy escort duty.

In December Warwick returned to Britain for conversion to a long range escort at Dundee. One of her boilers was removed to provide extra fuel capacity, sacrificing speed for endurance and range.  By July 1943 she was on anti-submarine duties in the Bay of Biscay, supporting Operation Musketry, the RAF Coastal Command's Bay offensive. In November she took part in Operation Alacrity, the establishment and supply of Allied air bases in the Azores which closed the Mid-Atlantic gap.

In January 1944 Warwick returned to Britain and led an escort group operating in the South-West Approaches. On 20 February 1944, while Warwick was patrolling off Trevose Head, near Padstow on the north coast of Cornwall, under the command of Cdr. Denys Rayner, she was hit in the stern by an acoustic torpedo, a GNAT, fired by U-413
which zeroed in on the noise of her propeller screws. She sank in minutes, with the loss of 66 of her crew.

Commanding Officers

Cdr Victor L.A. Campbell RN (March - June 1918)
Cdr Algernon U. Willis RN (Oct 1927 - Aug 1929)
Capt Henry H. Harwood RN (Aug 1929 - April 1930)
Cdr John W. Durnford RN (Jan 1933 - Jan 1934)
Lt.Cdr. Miles Ambrose Gregory Child, RN (14 Jul 1939 - 14 Jan 1942)
Cdr. York McLeod Cleeves, DSO, DSC, RD, RNR (14 Jan 1942 - 30 Oct 1943)
Cdr. Denys Arthur Rayner, DSC, RNVR (30 Oct 1943 - 20 Feb 1944)


Surg S. Lt George F Abercrombie RNVR (1918)
Cd Eng Sydney E. Adams RN (April 1940 - Feb 1941)
Sub Lt J.W. Anthony RN (Feb - April 1940)
Lt Dickinson RN
Lt David Harries RN
Sub Lt Robert T. McIndoe RNZNVR, A/S Control Officer and CP
Lt E.J.W. Parsons Killed
Surg Lt D. Lindsay Sandes SANF Killed
Sub Lt E.P.G. (Peter) Whinney RNVR Killed

Former Full Members of the V & W Destroyer Assoociation who served in HMS Warwick
J. Begg (Ormskirk), Lt Cdr D. Harries RN (Bath), T. Miller (Scarborough), T. Whale (New Milns, Ayrshire).
The V & W Destroyer Association held its annual reunion at Warwick in 2013

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

The Raid on Zeebrugge in 1918
and the Loss of HMS Warwick in 1944

The German Flanders Flotilla at Bruges sunk a third of all Allied merchant shipping during the First World War and in early 1918 there was a danger that the German submarine campaign could have starved Britain into submission. The Raid was an attempt to cut off the U-Boat Flotilla's access to the sea by sinking concrete filled block ships in the entrances to to the canal at Zeebrugge and Ostend. It was partially successful at Zeebrugge (but the harbour was quickly cleared) but failed at Ostend. A second attempt to block the canal at Ostend on 10 May by sinking HMS Vindictive in the entrance also failed. The raid was seen as a glorious failure for which Rear Admiral Roger Keyes flying his flag in HMS Warwick received a knighthood. The raid on Zeebrugge inspired the raid on St Nazaire at the mouth of the River Loire in South West France on the 28th March 1942.

Block ships at Zeebrugge
Photocopy in the IWM
Block ships in the entrance to the Bruges Canal at Zeebrugge
Left: Aerial view looking West. Crown Copyright IWM Ref Q 20648B
Right: HMS Thetis (top), HMS Iphigenia and HMS Intepid (bottom)
Click images to view full size

His edited Despatches for the operations at Zeebrugge on 23 April and Ostend on 10 May 1918 together with the Press Bureau's narrative and the German Admiralty's account were published by Oxford University Press in 1919 and are out of copyright. The text can searched online or the whole publication (including maps and images) downloaded as a PDF and in other formats.

After the second attempt to block the harbour at Ostend on 10 May HMS Warwick was mined and needed to be towed back to Dover by HMS Whirlwind.  The circumstances are described in Keyes' edited despatches. By the time the crew of the blockade ship HMS Vindictive were transferred to HMS Warwick by motor launches ML 254 and ML 276 dawn was breaking and the tide had fallen and it was necessary to leave Ostend by the deep-draught route which had not been cleared of mines:

"At 4 am HMS Warwick struck a mine which destroyed the afterpart of the ship. She took a heavy list and appeared to be settling down. The wounded were transferred to Velox, and Whirlwind took the flagship in tow. Velox was lashed alongside to steer. Progress was slow and for three hours the destroyers were within range of the enemies' batteries. Dover was reached at 4.30 pm on May 10."

HMS Warwick under tow by HMS Whirlwind after being mined at Ostend on 10 May 1918 HMS Warwick after bing mined
HMS Warwick on arrival back at Dover
Crown Copyright IWM Ref. Q2846

The ensign flown by Rear Admiral Sir Roger Keyes from HMS Warwick, his flag ship for the raid on Zeebrugge in April 1918, was gifted by him to the town of Warwick and hangs in St Mary's Church as a memorial to the men who died when HMS Warwick was torpedoed. Rear Admiral Sir Roger Keyes and Cdr Victor Campbell RN, the first CO of Warwick, were equally interesting characters, and were both born in 1875.

Rear Admiral Sir Roger Keyes
Rear Admiral Sir Roger Keyes RN (1875-1945)
The son of a General in the Indian Army he commanded the destroyer HMS Fame during the Boxer Rebellion and captured four Chinese destroyers on the Peiho River. He was one of the first to climb over the Peking walls, to break through to the besieged diplomatic legations. He took a prominent part in organising the Dardanelles campaign and after being given command of the Dover patrol sunk five u-boats in his first month. He conceived and organised the raid on Zeebrugge.
This sketch by Glyn Philpot (1918) is from his entry in Wikipedia.
Victor Campbell was  1st Lt on Capt Robert F. Scott's Terra Nova Expedition to Antarctica (1910-13). His Diary was published in 2001 as The Wicked Mate. He won the DSO commanding the Drake  Batallion of the Royal Naval Division at Galipoli and was Flotilla Leader in HMS Marksman before joining HMS Warwick as CO. He was CO of HMS Versatile 1920-2. He retired, emigrated to Canada, was SNO Trinidad in 1939, ill with Malaria (1940-2) and NIC at HMCS Avalon, Newfoundland. He died in 1956.

Isciribed standsar for HMS Warwick (1918)
The ensign flown by Rear Admiral Sir Roger Keyes from HMS Warwick at Zeebrugge hangs in St Mary's Church, Warwick
Find out more about thee adoption of HMS Warwick by Warwick and the town links between ship and town
Photograph courtesy of Zinat Bennett

Thie  centenary of the raid was commemorated in Warwick by an exhibition in the Visitor Centre from 19 - 23 April 2018 organised by local historian John Brown. The most comprehensive account is The Zeebrugge Raid 1918 by Paul Kendall (History Press, 2008). ISBN 9781862274778.

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

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