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




HMS Westcott
       photograph from Navyphotos.co.uk

Click on the links to more detailed accounts by the men who served on HMS Westcott and for a more detailed chronolgy see www.naval-history.net

HMS Westcott was an Admiralty W-Class destroyer built by William Denny and Brothers Ltd, Dumbarton. Named after Capt. George Blagdon Wescott RN, who was killed at the Battle of the Nile in 1798 while Captain of HMS Majestic, HMS Westcott was launched in February 1918 and entered service on 12th April 1918 with pennant number D47.

Sub Lt
S Lt Stanley Brian de Courcy-Ireland described the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet in November 1918 and the scuttling of the Fleet in Scapa Flow, Orkney, in June 1919. HMS Westcott took part in the Baltic campaign against the Russian Bolsheviks. In 1920 she was in the Mediterranean when Constantinople was occupied by the Allies and carried out a number of bombardments against the Nationalist Turks in the Sea of Marmara. HMS Westcott returned home in August 1920, joining the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla, Atlantic Fleet, and in May 1921 was re-deployed to the 6th Destroyer Flotilla, Atlantic Fleet, until being paid off into reserve in April 1935. Briefly re-commissioned in September 1935 for the 21st Destroyer Flotilla, Home Fleet, HMS Westcott was again paid off into reserve at Devonport in May 1936.

HMS Westcott was re-commissioned on the 2nd October 1936 for service as a tender to the 4th Submarine Flotilla, China (and China Deep Diving Unit).
Part of the ship’s role was to act as a target for submarine attacks and before leaving Devonport for Hong Kong in November 1936 her after (Y) gun and torpedo tubes were removed to allow for fitting a winch for recovering torpedoes fired by submarines during trials and storage of the recovered torpedoes.  Westcott was one of the first ships to be fitted with ASDIC equipment for detecting submerged submarines. Westcott was on the China Station from January 1937 until her arrival at Malta in February 1940 and the best description of this period is that given by Tom Chapman in his book: Water, Water, Everywhere: the life story of HMS Westcott (Aedificamas Press, 1996).

Ship's Writer
J.A. Jolliffe  D/MX. 52106 describes the terrible conditions he experienced while taking passage in HMS Westcott to join the submarine depot ship, HMS Medway, on the China Station. Alan Flisher travelled on the troopship Dilwara to join Westcott as a stoker when Cdr Edward M. Lolly was CO. Cdr Lolly and the ship's company were welcomed on a visit to Surabaya, the main naval base in the Dutch East Indies in March 1938. Loly was succeeded by Cdr Firth who died three months later on We-Hai-Wei island, was buried there and succeeded by  Cdr James A. Carrie Hill.  Jim Mills was on the same outward voyage to Hong Kong as Joliffe but remained aboard Westcott until Operation Pedestal in July 1942 where he witnessed the sinking of HMS Eagle.

After the declaration of war in 1939  HMS Westcott underwent a further refit at Singapore when her Y' gun and the torpedo tubes were refitted and two depth-charge throwers and depth-charge release racks were added at ther stern. On 28th January 1940 HMS Westcott left the China Station to escort a large floating dock back to the UK. At Aden she joined the first of many convoys escorting liners carrying Australian and New Zealand troops to Suez and the Middle East
.

On arrival in Malta the CO, Cdr James A. Corrie Hill, left the ship for the Admiralty's Plans Diviion, HMS President. HMS Westcott was deployed with HM Aircraft Carrier Glorious in the Mediterranean until recalled to the UK in April 1940 for escort duties. Her former CO, Cdr Corrie Hill,
was killed in the Netherlands on 11 May leading Operation XD-B and retrieving Dutch gold from  Rotterdam.

On 4 July Westcott joined the 4th Destroyer Flotilla at Devonport for escort duties in the North Atlantic and on 5 July rescued survivors from HMS Whirlwind when she was torpedoed, blowing off her bow, and then scuttled her with torpedoes when she could not stay afloat until rescue tugs arrived. Tom Chapman vividly described the sinking and rescue in his book and on the website about HMS Whirlwind. On 2 September 1940, Westcott, with the destroyer HMCS Skeena, the sloops Lowestoft and Scarborough and the corvette Periwinkle, joined inbound Atlantic convoy SC.2 as escort. The convoy was subject to a series of attacks by German U-boats which sank five of the 53 merchant ships (four by U-47, commanded by Günther Prien). This was the first successful Wolfpack attack of the Second World War.

In February 1941 Cdr Ian H. Bockett-Pugh RN was appointed CO. Westcott became the first vessel to be equipped with the Hedgehog in August 1941 (but not without an accident loading this unfamiliar anti-submarine weapon) and transferred to the Gibraltar Escort Group in December. In the same month she was adopted by the civil community of Morecambe and Heysham, Lancashire, after
a successful Warships Week  National Savings campaign. The photographs of Ordinary Signalman Albert Edward (Ted) Chitty show what life was like for ratings on the lower deck in 1941-2. On the 2 February 1942 HMS Westcott was escorting the troop carrier Llangibby Castle in the Azores and rammed U-581 and rescued her crew when she was scuttled and sunk.

Between April and August 1942 HMS Westcott took part in repeated attempts to escort carriers carrying Spitfires within flying range of Malta. O
n 19 April, Westcott escorted USS Wasp during Operation Calendar (46 Spitfires reached Malta); in May Westcott was part of the escort for USS Wasp and HMS Eagle (Operation Baritone)  when 61 Spitfires reached Malta. Further operations took place in May and June when Westcott escorted Eagle and Argus.

On 11 June, Westcott escorted a large supply convoy to Malta, Operation Harpoon. Westcott and the destroyer Antelope were detached from the convoy when the cruiser Liverpool was torpedoed by an Italian aircraft. Antelope took  Liverpool under tow. They were under continual attack by Italian torpedo-bomber attacks and Westcott was hit by anti-aircraft fire from Liverpool, killing three of her crew. The three ships made Gibraltar on 17 June.

In August Westcott was an escort for Operation
Pedestal. HMS Eagle was sunk by a German submarine (described by Jim Mills DSM), and the carriers Indomitable and Victorious damaged by bombers. Five merchant ships out of fourteen, including the tanker SS Ohio, reached Malta by 15 August.

In November 1942, the Allies launched Operation
Torch the Anglo-American invasion of French North Africa. Westcott formed part of the Centre Task Force, covering the landings at Oran in Algeria on 8 November. When the Vichy French submarines Actéon and Argonaute attempted to attack the Allied fleet, they were sunk by Westcott and Achates. Westcott escorted HM Cutters Hartland and Walney in an attack on Oran Harbour.

After
Torch, Westcott returned to the United Kingdom. From  December 1942 until June 1943  Westcott was being converted at Portsmouth to Long-Range Escort (LRE) by removing one boiler and funnel, allowing additional oil bunkers to be fitted (her pennant number changed to I49). She was ecommissionjed with a new ship's Company and for the remainder of the war HMS Westcott was an escort for Arctic Convoys to Russia as described below by the Navigator,   Lt. Stuart M. W. Farquharson-Roberts RN, and Clifford "Stormy" Fairweather, a "bunting tosser".

Wesctcott
was withdrawn from service in June 1945 and sold to the British Iron & Steel Corporation (BISCO) to be scrapped the following year but "Stormy" Fsirweather kept the veterand in touch with each other by forming the "Westcott Club" in 1989.

“Water, Water every where!” – The Life Story of HMS Westcott (ISBN 0 9511701 8 X)  by Tom Chapman, a member of the ships’ company, describes Westcott's  28 years in commission and gives a good insight into what life was like for the crew of HMS Westcott.

 

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


Commanding Officers

Lt Cdr C R Peploe (March 1918 –  Jan 1921)
Lt Edward N. Mortimer (Jan 1921 – 15 Dec. 1922)
Lt Cdr Samuel A. Brooks (14 Dec.  1922 – 16 March, 1923)
Lt Cdr Samuel A. Brooks (27 Sept. 1923 – 14 Aug. 1925)
Lt Cdr Alfred C. Collinson (14 Aug.  1925 -
Lt Cdr Meredith S. Spalding RN (Dec 1928 - July 1930)
Lt Cdr Arthur D. B. James (22 July, 1930-)
Lt Cdr Geoffrey R. B. Back (22 July, 1932 – 28 July, 1934)
Lt Cdr Charles Nugent Lentaigne, RN (30 Sept 1936 - 1 Jan 1937)   
Cdr Edward Masterman Loly (1 Jan. 1937 - 11 April 1938)
Cdr Cyril Joseph Firth (11 April - 1 Sept 1938)
Cdr James Alexander Corrie Hill, RN (Sep 1938 – Sep 1939 or 14 Feb 1940)           
Lt Cdr William Francis Rodrick Segrave, RN (21 Aug 1939 or Feb 1940 – 2 Feb 1941)
Cdr. Ian Hamilton Bockett-Pugh, RN (Feb 1941 - March 1943)
Lt Cdr Hedworth Lambton, RN (May 1943 – Jun 1944)
Lt Cdr Edward Perry Reade, RN (Oct 1944 – Jun 1945)
Lt J S de B. Smith (Jun 1945 -

Officers

Further names from the Navy List will be added later.

Lt. C P d’A Aplin, RNR (Dec 1940 -
Lt. F C V Brightman  (Aug 1938 -
Tempy. Lt. N D Britton RNVR (Oct 1943 -
Gunner C W Chadwick (April 1939 -
S.Lt. S B de Courcy-Iceland RN (1918 – 1919)
Tempy. Surg. Lt. P U Creighton, MB, BCh, RNVR (Oct 1944 -
Gunner (T) M Daniels (May 41-
Lt.(E) R J H Duffay, MBE (July 1938 -
Boatswain D H Easter (May 1940 -
Lt. J N Elliott (April 1940 -
Lt. Stuart M.W. Farquharson-Roberts RN (June 1943 -
Lt Arthur Lewis Gulvin RN (Feb - April 1940)
Tempy. Lt. W J C Higgs, RNVR (Oct 1944 -
Tempy. S.Lt. N J Hill, RNVR (June 1945
Lt. G R D Holland (May 1941 -
Mid. L T H Johnson RNR (Aug 39 -
Lt David Charles Kinloch RN (July 1930 - Jan 1932)
Tempy. Gunner F B Leathers (April 1943 -
Tempy. Surg. Lt. J D Loughborough, MRCS, LRCP, RNVR (Jun 1943 -
Tempy. Surg. Lt. J D Manning, MRCS, LRCP, RNVR (Jul 1941-
Tempy. Lt. A R A Marshall, RNVR (June 1943 -
Gunner (T) S T Newman (act) May 1945 -
Tempy. Act. S.Lt. A G C M Nightingale, RNVR (May 1941 -
Lt Denzil Richard Cranley Onslow RNR (Nov 1942)
Lt. C A H Owen (Aug 1937 -
Lt. A Parsons, RNVR (Oct 1944 -
Tempy. Act. S.Lt. W B Potts, RNVR (Apr 1944
Tempy Lt.(E) G R Raeburn, RNR (Jan 1944 -
Tempy. S.Lt. W A Reeve, RCNVR (Dec 1943
Tempy. Lt. T S Riches, RNVR (Jun 1943 -
Gunner J F Sangwell (April 1937 -
Tempy. Surg. Lt. R Scott, MB, BS, RNVR (Jun 1940 - July 1941)
Lt. J S de B. Smith (Jan 1945 -
Tempy. Wt. Eng. A F Stapleton (Dec 1940 -
Gnr Walter James Taylor RN (Sept 1936 - Feb 1937)
Lt. N J M Teacher (Feb 1939 -
Lt. A G Vanrenen (Dec 1941 -
Lt Cdr Arthur Oliver Watson RN (Sept 1934 - July 1935)
Tempy. S.Lt. J C Whitehead, RNVR (May 1945 -
Lt. (N) W Whitworth (April 1937 -


Former Full Members of the V & W Destroyer Assoociation who served in HMS Westcott
W. Ames (Newbury, Berks), A. Beckett DSM (Warrington, Lancs), Tom Chapman (Chorley, Lancs), HJ. Dixon (Kidlington, Oxon), Clifford "Stormy" Fairweather (Colchester, Essex),
Allen Flisher (Leicester), Arthur Gardner (Bexleyheath, Kent), E. Grew (Waltham Cross, Herts), F. Lees (Rochford, Essex), B. Merry (Leicester), G. Moore (Chessington, Surrey), 
Ernest Quarrie (Carlisle), Bob Smale (St Helier, Jersey), L. Turner (Bicester, Oxon), J. Underwood (Ilford, Essex), E. Woods (Sunderland).

 Please get in touch if you have a family member who served in HMS Westcott


The scuttling of the German High Sea Fleet

German Ensign
Lt S.Brian de Courcy-Ireland RNSub Lt S.B. de Courcy-Ireland RN (on right) witnessed the 72 ships in the German High Sea Fleet being escorted into the Firth of Forth to surrender from the deck of HMS Westcott on the 21 November 1918 and was part of the escort when they were conducted to Scapa Flow in Orkney to be interned while the allies argued about what to do with them. My 18 year old father was stationed at Houton Bay Air Station as an Observer Gunner on anti-submarine patrol in Short 184 seaplanes and saw them enter the Flow and anchor between Houton Bay and Hoy on the 24th November. Their crews were demoralised and mutinous but made no trouble and when the Home Fleet was at sea two destroyers were left behind as Guard Ships.

On 21 June 1919 HMS Walpole and her sister ship HMS Westcott were the two Guard Ships left behind while the Home Fleet was at sea. At about noon Lt Cdr Charles G. "Kit" Naylor, RN, the CO of HMS
Walpole, saw the German ships hoist the Imperial German Ensign at their mainmasts and their officers and men lower boats and abandon their sinking ships. He deployed Walpole's boats to assist in beaching the torpedo boats in Gutter Sound before they sank and then boarded the light cruiser Nurnberg to release her cables to enable her to drift ashore on Cava. Charles Naylor took possesion of her ensign, measuring ten foot by six, and a hundred years later it is still a much prized family treasure (on left).

Brian de Courcy-Ireland in HMS Westcott describes events in A Naval Life (Englang Publishing, 1990 and 2002), self published by the family. The Captain was Lt Cdr C R Peploe "who had done well at Jutland in another destroyer when his captain was killed and he had taken over - a jovial extrovert" ... "We were secured to a buoy in Gutter Sound (among the German destroyers) by a slip rope. Most of us were in the Wardroom having a drink before lunch when the Officer of the Watch came tumbling down with the startling news that all German ships had hoisted a flag signal and some appeared to be abandoning ship".

After the initial shock and confusion: "we decided to concentrate on trying to save a few ships, and started on a couple of destroyers. We blew their cables to save time, and pushed them into shallow water where they settled pretty well upright. We then turned our attention to the great Hindenberg. No 1 and myself with a party of about 25 men with a young Engineer Officer got on board, and while the Captain tried to push her into shallow water we closed as many watertight doors, hatches and scuttles as we could. I thnk we closed about two hundred but it was hopeless. we were working largely in the dark in a ship we didn't know; many of the clips were rusty and stiff and we were being forced back all  the time. No 1 and I were the last to leave as she  sank under us, fortunately upright, climbing higher as she settled, finally coming to rest with bridge snd funnels, etc above water."

"Our final task was to salvage the two destroyers we had pushed into the beach. The water was cold and we had to swim and dive to close the scuttles and hatches. It was a dirty job too as they had oppened up a oil fuel tank and everything was coated with a film of oil. I was inspecting the Wardroom of one of the destroyers ... and found a signed oil painting of a scene in East Prussia perfectly preserved by the oil; "I have it still".

****************

Charles "Kit" Naylor was promoted to Commander on 31 December 1921 but, tragically, died of a long standing heart condition aged 36 on 27 January 1924. Sub Lt Brian de Courcy-Ireland was born in 1900 and died in his sleep in the early morning of Remembrance Day 2001. He was a Lieutenant in HMS Venomous from 1920-1 and figured prominently in A Hard Fought Ship: the story of HMS Venomous (Holywell  House Publishing, 2017). After retiring as Capt S. Brian de Courcy-Ireland in 1951 he served as Naval ADC to the King. The Imperial War Museum have a copy of his 454 page personal memoir A Naval Life and  eleven reels of recorded interviews made in 1991 which can be listened to online.

George Little on the accordion in the
HMS Westcott Jazz Band in Copenhagen


George Little on trumpet in the HMS Westcott Jazz Band in Copenhagen between the wars
This postcard size photograph appears to be a copy of a much larger damaged print in a gilded frame
It was posted home by George Little and now belongs to Donna Lee

This unusual photograph was sent to me by Donna Lee who described herself as "a family history fanatic" in her e-mail. Her Uncle George LIttle is "the handsome guy playing the accordion in the front row". The cap badges have the name of HMS Westcott on them which was not permitted in wartime so the photograph must date from between the wars. I am hoping to find out more about George Little and his service in the Royal Navy with the HMS Westcott Jazz Band. If you can assist please do get in touch with me by e-mail.

Portrait of George Little 1935George Little, Torpedoman

I  downloaded George Little's service record from The National Archives. These hand written records are difficult to interpret but it is clear that George George Little was a “case maker’s labourer” from Liverpool when he “signed on” fot 12 years service in the Navy on his eighteenth birthday, the 16 August 1914. He had joined the Navy the previous year as a “Boy Sailor” in HMS Impregnable, the boys training ship at Devonport, Plymouth, before joining HMS Defiance, the Torpedo Training School at Devonport. By 1917 he was rated as a Leading Torpedo Man (abbreviated as LTO) in the Torpedo Branch of the Navy and worked as a practical electrician as well as a gunner-torpedoman. To find out more about his specialism read David Perkins description of  “Rates” in the Navy and the Development of the Torpedo Branch.

The torpedo was a formidable new weapon which enabled small warships originally known as Torpedo Boat Destroyers (TBD) to sink Battleships. The popularity of Kiplings poem "The Destroyers" led to the widespread adoption of the short form and may have influenced George Little's decision to become a Topedoman. He joined his first destroyer, HMS Valkyrie, a V & W Class Leader, in June 1917 when she was completed. After commissioning Valkyrie (F83) joined the 10th Destroyer Flotilla as Flotilla Leader with the Harwich Force. On 22 December 1917 she struck a mine while escorting a convoy to the Netherlands. Twelve men were killed, with seven more men dying of wounds in the next few days. Three more destroyers of the 10th Flotilla, Torrent, Surprise and Tornado, were sunk by mines on the next day. Valkyrie was under repair at Chatham Dockyard until July 1918.

George Little left Valkyrie and joined HMS Westcott (Lt Cdr C R Peploe RN in command) with the substantive rate of Leading Seaman on 11 April 1918 when she was first commissioned. Westcott joined the 13th Destroyer Flotilla of the Grand Fleet, based at Rosyth in support of the Battlecruiser Force, remaining there for the remainder of the war. In 1919, the Grand Fleet was disbanded, and the Atlantic Fleet took its place, supported by four destroyer flotillas. Westcott joined the Second Destroyer Flotilla, based at Rosyth.

In August 1919, the Second Destroyer Flotilla, including Westcott, was deployed to the Baltic as part of the British intervention in the Russian Civil War, relieving the First Destroyer Flotilla. The Second Flotilla remained in the Baltic until December 1919. Sub Lt Stanley Courcy-Ireland joined Westcott at the same time as George Little and described the scuttling of the German High Sea Fleet at Scapa Flow in June 1919 and the war in the Baltic in his memoir A Naval Life.

In February 1920, Westcott was deployed to the Mediterranean, shelling Turkish forces during the Greco-Turkish War, before returning to Britain in August. The sailors in the Jazz Band were dressed in "whites" which suggests the photograph was taken at this time but it is clearly marked as being taken at Copenhagen. In 1921 the destroyers of the Atlantic Fleet were reduced in size and organised into six flotillas, each comprising a Flotilla leader and eight destroyers. Westcott was assigned to the Sixth Flotilla. George Little appears to have served in Westcott until 1923 by which time he was a Petty Officer.

George Little married Margaret in 1926 and they had two boys. They lived in Malta where the Mediterranean Fleet was based but after his wife's early death aged 26 in 1936 he retired from service to look after their sons. In the photograph on the right taken shortly before he left the Navy his uniform has on it the badges of a PO Gunnery Instructor and ribbons for his wartime service. He died from a heart attack a year later in 1937 when he was 40 and his sons were 6  and 4. They were brought up by George's parents in Liverpool. Donna Lee  is hoping to find out more about the Uncle she never knew.

On the China Station

Tom ChapmanHMS Westcott was re-commissioned on 2 October 1936 for service as a tender to the 4th Submarine Flotilla, China (and the China Deep Diving Unit). Part of the ship’s role was to act as a target for submarine attacks and before leaving Devonport for Hong Kong in November 1936 her aft (Y) gun and her torpedo tubes were removed to allow for fitting a winch for recovering torpedoes fired by submarines during trials and storage of the recovered torpedoes.  Westcott was one of the first ships to be fitted with ASDIC for detecting submerged submarines. Westcott was on the China Station from January 1937 until her arrival at Malta in February 1940.  Her Captain was Cdr Edward Masterman Loly RN, born in 1896, the son of a schoolmaster. He survived the sinking of submaring J6 on 15 October 1918 a month before the end of the Great War and commanded six submarines between 1920 and his appointment as CO of HMS Westcott on 1 January 1937.

The best description of this period is by Tom Chapman (on right) in his book: Water, Water, Everywhere: the life story of HMS Westcott (Aedificamas Press, 1996). Tom Chapman and his shipmates on the lower deck were mainly interested in the lives they led in the "exotic east" on a rating's pay but ever present in the background was the ongoing war between the Japanese army, the Kuomintang  Nationalists and the competing Chinese Communist Party, the danger of being dragged into this and its threat to British interests.

***************

Tom Chapman joined HMS Westcott at Hong Kong in June 1939 but Westcott arrived at Hong Kong two years earlier on 6 January 1937 but Ship's Writer Joliffe describes the horrendous  journey out and  shipmates  Alan Flisher and Jim Mills contributest their memories of these earlier years.  On their first run ahore most men "made for the China Fleet Club for steak, egg and chips or chicken chow-main, and after to the pictures ... and back to the ship in the rickshaws waiting for them outside the cinema". The 'Sew-Sew Girl' was allowed on the mess-deck to mend clothes and the men could borrow money from her until pay day. 'Jelly Belly', the tailor, could make a suit in a few hours which would last for years. All the washing was done by dhobi girls. In May 1937 the Westcott's crew took part in the military parade to mark the Coronation of King George V1. Afterwards, Westcott sailed north to Wei-Hai-Wei an island leased from China, where the crew could buy roast chickens, "Wei-Hai Wei" runners.

From Ching Wang Tao, the "Back Garden of Beijing and Tianjin", the crew paid for tours by bus and train to the Great Wall of China, Tientsin and Peking and slept between white sheets in a hotel and
visited the "Forbidden City". Japanese troops nearby brought their tour to an early end and they left Ching Wang Tao with the British Ambassador, Sir Hugh Knatchbull, who was seriously wounded when machine gunned by a Japanese fighter pilot. Later they went to Vladivostock and were entertained by the Russian Navy and Army, who thrashed them at football and toasted them in vodka.

They returned to Hong Kong during a typhoon which sunk 28 ships and destroyed countless buildings with the number killed estimated at 11,000. The ship was drydocked and the crew helped the Army remove the dead and injured from the ruined buildings. After visiting Miri in Sarawak and Bali they exercised with Australian ships in the Indian Ocean before calling in at Malacca on the Malay peninsula, where a sailor lost his footing, fell overboard and was drowned. This delayed their arrival on a five day visit
to the Dutch Naval Base of Surabaya in Easten Java with Orpheus and Proteus, two of the submarines in the 4th Submarine Sqadron, until late on 8 March 1938.  The Dutch newspaper Die Indische Courant published lengthy articles on the visit and its readers must have found reassuring. A day trip to an open air zoo was organised for the crew and Cdr Edward M. Lolly RN and his officers were entertained ashore by the Dutch Submarine Service at Pasnan. Surabaya lives on in the memory of lovesick ladies who have heard Lotte Lenya singing "Surabaya Johnny" (1929) and all those sailors who have visited Surabaya.

Surabays March 1938
The English officers of HMS Westcott and the submarines dine in the long dinning room of the submarine base at Pasiran te Soerabaja, Surabaya

On leaving Surabaya Westcott went to Singapore via Malacca and before returning to Hong Kong where some of the crew left to return to Britain on a troop carrer, the Dunera.
In April Cdr Edward M. Lolly left Westcott and may have returned to Britain on the Dunera and was relieved by Cdr Cyril Joseph Firth. Submarine exercises were held off Malaya and one of the six torpedoes went missing and was found by an RAF plane being carried on their shoulders through the jungle by a tribe of natives and it took a search team a week to retrieve it!

In September, four months after joining HMS Westcott as their new CO, Cdr Firth took very ill and died at Wei-Hi-Wei: 

"His funeral took place on the island and representatives from the whole of the Fleet attended together with most of Westcott's ship’s company. Unfortunately, his family were on their way out to join and had to be greeted with this awful news.”

Cdr Firth was succeeded on 1 September 1938 by Cdr James Alexander Corrie Hill, RN. He was CO on 21 October,
Trafalgar Day, when a great parade was held on the Happy Valley race course in Hong Kong, possibly to impress the Japanese. Naval personnel from every ship, from cruiser to MTB took part. Dress of the day was "Number Ones" with belts, gaiters and fixed bayonets. The salute was taken by Sir Percy Noble, C in C Far East.

Alan Flisher has more to say about Westcotts activities in 1938-9 but fails to mention a visit to Tandjong Priok, the docks for Batavia, the capital of the Dutch East Indies, in March 1939, a year after Westcott visited the naval base of Surabaya. Batavia is today Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. The caption for the photograph from the report in the Dutch newspaper De Locomotief reads:

"An informal cocktail party was held on Friday evening at the spacious house of the British Consul-General in Batavia, Mr. Henry Fitzmaurice (XX), for the visiting officers and guests from Batavia".

Reception ashore at Batavia, Dutch East Indies, March 1939Cdr James A.C. Hill RN. HMS Westcott
Cdr James A.C. Hill was entertained in the home of the Consul-General  (left) and welcomed guests aboard HMS Westcott
This is the only photograph found of Cdr James Corrie Hill


The following day Cdr Hill entertained Henry Fitzmaurice and distinguished guests aboard his ship:

"The Westcott was a pretty sight, lit with colored lights, the bright glare a sharp contrast with the submarines moored alongside the British destroyer. A merry company gathered on board, not large because the deck of a hunter like the Westcott is not suitable for a large number of visitors. The British naval officers were warm and jovial hosts, guided their guests around the ships and answered all their questions. Many took a look inside the mysterious twilight of a submarine, and found out about all the handles, wheels and levers in the narrow space. It was well past the appointed hour when the last visitors left the welcoming deck of the Westcott to return home."

Tom Chapman joined HMS Westcott  on 1 April 1939 after a six week voyage to Hong Kong on the troop ship HMT Ettrick. The new boys boarded her wearing white pussser's shorts with solar topees on their heads and were gazed at
in disbelief! He was startled to find the torpedo tubes had been removed to make room for strorage racks for 18 practice torpedoes without warheads. After retrieval they were returned to HMS Medway, the depot ship,  for overhaul and then back to the submarines which fired them. He was one of only four torpedo-men out of  total complement of 110. Each mess had a Chinese mess boy who bought and prepared their food.

Among the hundreds of Chinese junks and sampans in the harbour were Royal Navy cruisers, destroyers, submarines and HMS Medway:

 "I joined up with some shipmates to go ashore. The first stop was the China Fleet Club, a four storey concrete building like the  Navy House in Chatham but with Chinese staff who could not do enough for you. Girls were plentiful and available for about seven and  half pence a time and although the wages of sin were somewhat meagre thy appeared to be pretty happy with their lot. Many lived in flats which were rented or loaned from older women called Almas. The money they earned was given to the Alma and in return they received food and shelter plus a little pocket money to buy clothes."

During the day we spent our time exercising with the submarines which fired the old Whitehead torpedooes which left a trail of bubbles. The Japanese had the "Long Lance Torpedo", 30 foot long which had a range of 20 miles and a one ton warhead which were powered by hydrogen - another deep, dark secret. When our subs fired their torpedoes at Westcott they were set to pass underneath the ship to prevent damage to us or the torpedo as they cost about £3,000. After completing their run the torpedo bobbed to the surface, a line was hooked to the ring in its nose and the electric winch hoisted it aboard, the whole  job took 5 - 10 minutes.

In July Westcott and the China Fleet went to Wei-Hai-Wei and  whalers from the different ships competed with each other at rowing and sailing. After the regatta the ships of the Fleet sailed past the flagship and the admiral took the salute,  a signal was hauled to the mast head "Splice the Main Brace" and we all got an extra tot of rum. Our skipper, Cdr Corrie Hall, was a physical fitness enthusiast and "decided we would all compete in a run round the island and I had to join the happy throng". Tom surprised himself by coming twentieth but the winners had to race against other ships so "the British Fleet must have done a fair old bit of running around We Hai Wei in those days."

Westcott went to Singapore and Tom Chapman who had suffered badlly from ear ache spent seven weeks in hospital having a mastoid operation:

"At 6 pm on 3rd September Singapore time, while listening to the radio, we heard the declaration of war against Germany announced. I remembered what we were told during our training, we were paid to kill or be killed and nothing could be done about it other than to obey orders without question."

Tom Chapman left hospital and on returning to Westcott found Y Gun and the torpdoe tubes had been replaced, two depth charge throwers added either side of the cabin flat and two depth charge release-racks at the stern. The whole ship's company, including officers, had to munition the ship the day he returned. T
he next day 30 depth charges were loaded, nine into the release racks and two into the throwers.

"We took aboard six 21" torpedoes and fitted their war heads, they weighed over a ton and the heads 500 lbs each. We torpedomen fitted the pistols, the firing mechanism, into the depth charges and torpedoes. Back in harbour after sea trials twenty-four Hostilities Only (HO) crew members joined us, including eight torpedomen. The ship now had a complement of 134."

On 28 Janury 1940  HMS Westcott left the China Station, escorting a large floating dock being towed back to England by sea-going tugs at  about three knots.  After a few days they left her on her own and headed for Colombo, Ceylon,  to refuel and provision before heading for Aden with the cruiser, HMS Devonshire. Her CO complained about their dirty hull and while speeding along at 15 knots two men, hanging on a staging over the side, cleaned the hull at great risk to life.
On leaving Aden and entering the Red Sea they met up with HMS Hood escorting six liners filled with Australian and New Zealand troops and increased speed to 28 knots. The  mighty Hood sent a nasty signal complaining about the smoke Westcott made but  was an old ship in need of a boiler clean and the convoy had to reduce speed to that of the slowest ship, HMS Westcott.

Westcott was left behind at Suez and:

"We headed for Malta, arriving on 14 February. Here Cdr Corrie Hill left the ship and the new Captain, Lt Cdr Segrave took over. We were sorry to see Cdr Corrie Hill go and piping the side, said goodbye to him and welcomed our new Captain aboard.”

According to Admiralty records Cdr Corrie Hill left HMS Westcott in August when he was appointed CO of HMS  Medway, the submarine depot ship, but Medway was having a refit in the Naval Dockyard at Singapore from September to February and it seems reasonable to assume that he did not take up this appointment and remained aboard HMS Westcott as CO until her arrival at Malta.

**********

HMS Westcott had three COs during her time on the China Station. Cdr Loly  fell ill in February 1941, and was sent to the hospital at the South African naval base of Simonstown, and found to have Tuberculosis in both lungs. He  was "placed on the Retired List (medically unfit) with the rank of Captain on 22 November 1941 and died on 18 February 1942".

TB was far more more prevalent in the Navy than the other services and could easily spread in the cramped quarters aboard a submarine and he may have had it for some time. Indeed, if he served alongside Cdr Firth, his successor as CO of HMS Westcott, he may have infected him.  As we have seen Cdr Firth died in August 1938 four months after taking command of HMS Westcott and is buried on Wei-Hi-Wei island but the cause of death is not known.

Cdr James A. Corrie Hill RN joined the Admiralty's Planning Division at the shore base HMS President and worked with Cdr Peter G. L. Cazalet RN drawing up plans for destroying fuel reserves and harbour installations at ports in the Netherlands and France should they be occupied by German forces as proved to be the case. Cdr Czalet led a force which was sent in HMS Brilliant to Antwerp via Flushing on the Scheldt and retired as Vice Admiral Sir Peter Grenville Lyon Cazalet  RN in 1953. Cdr Hill was sent to Hook of Holland in HMS Wild Swan with a team of sappers from the Kent Fortress Royal Engineers (KFRE) to destroy fuel reserves and refineries at Rotterdam, harbour installations at the Hook and bring back Dutch gold reserves from the Rotterdam branch of the national bank. He was killed on 11 May 1940 returning along the New Waterway from Rotterdam to the Hook when the pilot steamer carrying the gold detonated a magnetic mine dropped by a German aircraft the previous evening. You can read about this operation, code named Operation XD - Party B, on the website of HMS Wild Swan.

If you wish to know more about the part played by the V & Ws in protecting British interests on the China Station start by reading about events at Wuhan
on the Yangste during the Chinese Civil War which led to China taking control of foreign trading concessions on China's largest river. In the 1930s the threat was from Japan. On 8 December 1941, the day Japan launched its attack on Pearl Harbour, its troops also attacked Hong Kong, landed on the Malay peninsula and marched south to Singapore, all without any declaration of war. Hong Kong fell on Christmas Day and Singapore was occupied on 15 February 1942.  The Dutch East Indies was invaded on New Year's Day 1942 and Batavia surrendered in March.

Loet Velmans, a high school student who escaped with his family from Scheveningen, the port for The Hague, in the Dutch lifeboat, Zeemanshoop on 14 May 1940 and was picked up in mid channel by HMS Venomous, went with his parents to the Dutch East Indies to resume his education. In 1941 he was conscripted into the Dutch Army and within a week of the Japanese invasion in March 1942 was a POW of the Japanese. His family was Jewish and he escaped death in a German concentration camp but spent two years as a POW working on the Burma to Siam Railway which he described in  Long Way back to the River Kwai (Arcade Publishing, 2003)

What did the future hold for Torpedoman Tom Chapman? He describes the part played by Westcott at Narvik in the Norwegian campaign and the loss of HMS Whirlwind in the Atlantic. He remained aboard HMS Westcott until 1942 when he joined HMS Lookout which claims to be the most heavily bombed destroyer to survive the war but he choose to write a book about Westcott. The V & Ws were always the favourite ship of the men who served in them.


Navigation Officer on Arctic Convoys
Lt. Stuart Murray William Farquharson-Roberts RN

98 year old Lt. Stuart Murray William Farquharson-Roberts was born at Lower Bourne, Farnham, Surrey, on 3 June 1922 and in the late thirties was sent to Brighton College, an independent boarding school established in 1845. He wanted to become an officer in the Royal Navy and took the special entry exam for Dartmouth in 1939. He was good at mathematics, passed and did well at the interview and entered the Royal Navy College, Dartmouth, aged eighteen in 1940.

On the 3 June 1940, his second day at Dartmouth, he received a message that his father, Colonel M.F. Farquharson-Roberts of the Royal Army Service Corp (RASC), had escaped from Dunkirk aboard a destroyer. He never told his son the name of the destroyer but it could have been HMS Venomous, the destroyer my father served in much later in the war, which on that day brought back 1,400 troops including Generals Alexander and Percival.

The Battle of Dakar

At the end of his first term at Dartmouth twenty of the cadets volunteered to begin their service as midshipmen in allied warships. Stuart Farquharson-Roberts was one of three cadets who joined the Australian heavy cruiser,  HMAS Australia (Captain R.R. Stewart R.N). HIs wartime service had a dramatic beginning when HMAS Australia was sent to Dakar, the French naval base on the west coast of Africa, to demand the surrender of the French Fleet after the fall of France, Operation Menace. It was mportant to prevent the French Fleet falling into German hands, and especially their new battleship Richelieu.

HMAS Australia was part of a powerful force which included an aircraft carrier, the Ark Royal, two battleships, HMS Barham and Resolution, five cruisers and eleven destroyer escorts. On 23 September they were ordered to steam offshore so that the French warships could see how powerful they were and be persuaded to surrender and join the Free French forces under General de Gaulle. Their orders from naval headquarters required them to determine whether the French were “Happy, sticky or nasty”. Mid Stuart Farquharson-Roberts was on the Air Defence Position above the bridge with a clear view of what happened as they approached. The Walrus, their catatapult launched flying boat, took off to observe the French fleet and was shot down killing all three of its crew and when HMAS Australia came within range the French shore batteries opened fire. From his position above the  bridge Stuart thought the shells were hurtling straight towards him. It was clear that the French were "nasty" and had no intention of surrendering.

The powerful French destroyer L'Audacieux left harbour and steamed towards HMAS Australia. Captain R.R. Stewart R.N. decided to signal her in French to surrender or she would be sunk but neither he or the Australians on the bridge knew any French. His 18 year old Midshipman, until recently a schoolboy at Brighton College, called out that he knew some French and was told by Captain Stewart to come on down. He had a problem with  the French word for sunk but a dictionary was brought to the bridge and Stuart's translation was signalled to the French destroyer and received a single word reply, "Jamais". Captain Stewart asked what it meant and Stuart told him, "Never!" The Captain ordered Australia to open fire at 1624/23 and three minutes later the French destroyer was on fire from stem to stern. According to one report a RN destroyer was sent to pick up survivors but the French shore batteries opened fire on her and she withdrew. The French ship burned for 36 hours and was eventually beached.

A landing was attempted by Free French troops from French sloops but withering fire from a strong point overlooking the beach thwarted this attack and it was called off. General de Gaulle is supposed to have declared, "He did not want to shed the blood of Frenchmen for Frenchmen" and Operation Menace was abandoned leaving Vichy Forces in control of Dakar. Midshipman Mackenzie J Gregory also serving in HMAS Australia gives a more detailed account of the Battle of Dakar on Ahoy, Mac's Web Log. In November 1942, Vichy French forces in North Africa switched sides and joined the Free French and after repair in New York the French Battleship  Richelieu served with the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow and in the war against Japan in the Pacific.

Return to Britain on a banana boat

Midshipman Farquharson-Roberts left HMAS Australia near Sydney, Australia, on 24 June 1941 and his S264, the "flimsy" he received from Capt Stewart, noted that he was “cool and collected in action”. He and the other two Midshipmen from Dartmouth, Ian Campbell and Rober R. "Bob" Fernie (killed when the submarine, HMS Regent, was lost on 11  April 1943) returned to Britain in a "banana boat", MV Port Dunedin, a Defensively Equipped Merchant Ship (DEMS), with six DEMS Gunners, as described by Alick Sangster:

“On Port Dunedin our quarters were aft, part of the after hold and next to the steering flat. The accommodation was reasonable for the times with bunks for eight in all, though there were only six of us. We also had 'heads' on the port side, and a wash room and mess on the starboard side. We had the same food as the rest of the crew, brought from the galley. Our armaments were Hotchkiss machine guns on the bridge wings, and a Marlin gun on the monkey island. We also had a 12 pounder AA gun. This was mounted aft, just forward of the 4.7" anti sub gun, both located on top of the accommodation of the bosun, chippy and donkeyman."

The French Atlantic ports were occupied by Germany and their convoy headed east across the Pacific and through the Panama Canal to the Atlantic. They headed  along the eastern seabord of the United States to Halifax in Nova Scotia where the convoys assembled for the Atlantic crossing to Liverpool, staying well clear of the French coast. The Port Dunedin  joined Convoy  HX143, a large convoy of 73 ships,  which left Halifax on 5 August 1941. Stuart remembered passing HMS Prince of Wales and seeing Winston Churchill smoking a cigar on the quarter deck. The three Midshipman stood on the port side of their banana boat and saluted him as they passed and he waved back. Churchill was returning to Britain after signing the Atlantic Charter on 13 August with Rosevelt aboard the USS Augusta in Placenta Bay, Newfoundland. This brief encounter made a deep impression on all the ships in the convoy - and on Churchill:

"15th - At about 1500 hours in approximate position 60N, 34W the PRINCE OF WALES closed convoy HX 143 (Ex Halifax 5/8/41, 73 mercantiles escorted by the AMC WOLFE, destroyer BURNHAM and corvettes AGASSIZ, GALT, LEVIS and MAYFLOWER). Churchill had the battleship steam through the middle of the convoy flying the signal 'Bon voyage, Churchill', Churchill stood at the rail waving and the ships of the convoy hooting in return. Churchill enjoyed the experience so much he had Captain Leach reverse course and repeat the manoeuvre."
Naval-hißtory.net

He can no longer remember the sequence of the ships in which he served and exact dates but after returning to Britain he served in  the heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland, the old R-Class destroyer HMS Skate and spent a few weeks on the V & W Class destroyer, HMS Vanity escorting East Coast Convoys and on the battleship HMS Renown before taking his Seamanship Exam and joining HMS Archer, a "Woolworth's  Carrier", an escort carrier built quickly on the cheap from the hull of a merchant ship. The British built Woolworth's Carriers and the American Attacker Class escort carriers swung the balance in favour of the escorts for Arctic Convoys. He joined HMS Westcott as Navigation Officer in 1943.

Christmas Day 1943

This brief description of Christmas Day 1943 when HMS Westcott was escorting return convoy RS.55A was first published in Hard Lying, the magazine of the V & W Destroyer Association, and republished along with many other articles from Hard Lying in Stormy Fairweather's book of the same name.

"On that day I was a 21 year old Lieutenant, one of three bridge watch keepers in HMS Westcott, a WWI destroyer, escorting the homeward bound convoy RA.55A, roughly south of Bear Island. I had the middle watch, so Christmas started for me at 0001 on the bridge. Course west, wind south west rising to gale force, plenty of icy spray. We spent much of the time finding four fleet destroyers, lent for protection, but to pass them the message that they were now required to join the eastbound convoy JW55B which had recently passed us.

My next watch was the afternoon, so Christmas lunch had to be taken alone in the wardroom at around 1130. Our course was now northwest towards the pack ice, presumably to distance us from trouble - intelligence reporting that the mighty battlecruiser SCHARNHORST was stirring and might be sailing north. The wind was now gale force and on our port beam, strong enough to roll us 45 to 50 degrees to starboard. To stop everything flying about, the wardroom staff secured the settee and the two arm chairs hard up against the starboard wall settee, thus making a comfortable channel in which to sit with lunch on one's lap, without fear of the meal taking flight. Despite the turmoil the steward produced delightful roast beef and a wonderful roast potato - why "wonderful"? Because we only had upper deck stowage for vegetables, so after three days out from our Russian port anything not eaten would be frost bitten and ditched. The wardroom cook [bless him!] kept enough spuds below to give us all one for Christmas. Otherwise it would have been rice balls - edible but not quite the same. Next came the usual figgy duff, nice enough!

Soon it was time for my duffel coat, oilskin and neck towel - at all costs keep the icy spray off your chest! - and now the very careful opening of the starboard watertight door to the upper deck. This has five steel clips, one above and below, three down the side, the middle where a handle would normally be. This one you leave to last, and seize the moment when returning from the big starboard roll to get out. You now have a few seconds in which to close all five clips, get round forward of your superstructure where you reach a long, high, taut jackstay reaching to the break of the forecastle. From it hang strips of rope called lizards, with hard eyes so they can travel along the jackstay. You grab one and start walking along the iron deck - V&W destroyers have no passage below. Once or twice progress will be interrupted when the big roll lets seawater foam across the deck - "shipping it green", as they say. This can dislodge your seaboots' slippery grip, but as long as you keep hugging that lizard you will soon get going again. At least you can see things; midday in midwinter at those latitudes gives you a dim dawn slowly turning into a similar dusk, with about 21 hours of darkness ahead. Arriving at the forecastle you change grip with care to a metal rung ladder - gloves essential, the icy rungs would take strips off your bare hands - and after three such ladders you are back on your open bridge.

Christmas afternoon brought the news that the Scharnhorst and escorting destroyers were at sea, probably after the laden outward convoy JW.55B, that three of our cruisers were joining its defence. One was Belfast, still alongside at London. The Home Fleet was steaming east at top speed to join the fray. In RA.55A we were fast leaving the scene but could follow the Boxing Day ensuing battle by radio, since Admiral Frazer in the battleship Duke of York decided to use plain language for signals for greater speed of action. As the gallant Scharnhorst finally went down fighting there was rejoicing, but 70 years on one remembers that only 36 survivors were picked up from 1,767 men. Men probably very similar to us, and often with a common enemy, the sea."

Arctic Convoys 1944

This description of a typical Arctic Convoy based on notes written during the convoy was written by Stuart Farquharson-Roberts for Tom Chapman's book Water, Water, Everywhere. It describes northbound convoy JW56B which left Loch Ewe on 22 January 1944 and return Convoy RA56 which left Murmansk on 3 February 1994 and arrived on 11 February.

22.1.44

After a very tiring night spent at action stations, dragging the anchor, we proceeded across Loch Ewe to find a more sheltered billet. The wind moderated slightly, and one began to wonder whether conditions were fair enough to put to sea. The disadvantage of doing so was a debatable matter. We would have greatly liked a good night in before leaving harbour (the previous night being less of a night in than one would ever get at sea) but on the other hand the convoy had already been delayed several days on account of the weather and prevailing opinion was “lets get the evil business over and done with”.


Wishful thinking was brought to an end however when the Commodore hoisted his ‘Weigh and Proceed’ signal. Since we were the Senior Officer for the opening stages we had to be out with the leading hip, which was rather annoying as it always means hanging around for hours outside until the convoy forms up.

Heavy seas were encountered as soon as we left Loch Ewe. Not a propitious start. Coming up suddenly the weather caused nearly half the ship’s company to succumb to sea sickness. Thanks to the doctors pills I was among the happier half.

After the usual stooging around while the convoy joined up, we took up station ahead and proceeded to Iceland. For some days past, grim signals had been coming in, an extremely severe gale had broken up the convoy ahead of us and we soon passed one or two ships which had to leave and subsequently turn back, JA56A (Roskill).

The expected seldom happens however and we struck nothing worse than a heavy swell and a force 6 wind from the SW, quite normal for these waters.

25.1.44

Two uneventful days passed in the convoy and we picked up land echoes by radar at long range on the morning of the 25th. As we had to refuel at Suddisfjord we left. Convoy behind at 1000 hrs and carried on t 18 knots.

During the afternoon a local offshore wind picked up, quickly becoming a force 8 gale and lashing the sea up until we had to reduce speed on account of the heavy bumping. One of the advantages of being in these old destroyers is that one has to take care of them more than the fleet destroyers in heavy seas, since their old plates cannot stand up to much without the rivets beginning to loosen. Consequently, it never becomes too uncomfortable. During the afternoon a fleet of destroyers which has unsuccessfully tried to meet us eight hours earlier went past at 20 knots and at times gave a very realistic imitation of a submarine.

It was bitterly cold, and the spray froze almost before it hit the bridge, so we were soon iced up on the standing rigging and fo’castle guard rails.

We entered Suddisfjord about 1630 and wen straight alongside the oiler. After a while the Whitehall came alongside, and we were able to take a few drinks together and wish each other luck before the long trip started.

We slipped at 2200 and proceeded to re-join the convoy, first securing the ship in anticipation of heavy weather. Once again, we met the unexpected, the wind dropped, and a brilliant aurora was playing over a clear blue sky. We picked up the convoy without difficulty, taking up station well ahead until daylight afforded us better chance of sorting things out.

26.1.44

The 3rd destroyer flotilla joined the convoy as expected next forenoon and we took up position on the port quarter of the convoy. The convoy now had a formidable escort of six fleet destroyers, twelve V & W destroyers, several fleet sweepers and some corvettes, far more than would be found on any Atlantic convoy. This is probably due to the possibility of interference by the Tirpitz in Kola fjord or a flotilla of German destroyers.

Continued
During the day a sea swell subsided, the wind dropped and for once it was quite pleasant to be on the job. Calm weather means increased enemy activity, however, so we were not surprised to see an unidentified aircraft during the afternoon at extreme range – probably a JU88 making preliminary reports of the convoy movements. It soon disappeared and we rightly surmised that that we had been spotted and reported to the Germans. This meant a probable return of the aircraft the next day to check up on our speed and possibly start homing the U-boats and other aircraft homing in on us.

27.1.44

Sure enough, at 1300 the next day he was back again, a bit bolder this time. Coming within range of one or two of the heavier armed ships. He would have to be close indeed to come within effective range of our two four-inch guns. However, hope springs eternal and we closed up at air station action stations on the off chance. By now it was quite clear the enemy knew all about us and from other information received we knew that several U-boats were converging on us. Reports from the convoy ahead indicated that they had been through a heavy attack, three merchant ships had been sunk and one escort damaged. This afforded us one consolation in that at least six U-boats had had their stings drawn and would be going home for new ones.

28.1 44

The convoy ahead had reached their destination the next day and we were very pleased to hear that the 26th destroyer flotilla was doing a quick turn around and coming back to help us. The U-boats would now have a very tough nut to crack, with such a strong support group patrolling around the convoy, leaving a strong screen intact.

Meanwhile, the general situation pointed to an attack by U-boats not before the 29th for they do not attack as they arrive but wait and form up into a pack some way off first. On the other hand, a large-scale air attack with glider bombers and other horrors was quite on the cards for the 28th.

Continued
But the air attack never came, possibly they are running out of aircraft in other outposts of their ill-gotten Empire. Instead, the normal shadow turned up punctually at 1300, a BV 138 this time. He stayed about an hour.

29.1.44

Now for it? RT silence had been broken all ships were on top line, at 1100 on the 29th we saw and heard heavy gun fire on the horizon by the starboard quarter of the convoy. The report soon came over the air Whitehall and Mahratta were engaging two surface U-boats. Whitehall again! She always seems to have the fun. No jealousies are as strong as family ones, as in the case here where her Skipper, Lt Cdr Cowell is my second cousin-in-law. A few minutes later both U-boats had dived, no hits had been observed and the two destroyers proceeded to sit on ‘em gradually dropping astern. Soon the distant rumble of depth charges which were to be heard almost incessantly for the next three days announcing headaches, at least, for the two U-boat crews. Even if the depth charges do not prove fatal, they achieve the chief aim of preventing the submarines concerned from taking any further part in the operation. For although the hulls take a lot of cracking electric light bulbs and already frayed nerves don’t.

On the strength of this excitement we had gone to action stations, which was just as well as a couple of shadowing BV138’s decided to have a really close look at us. This gave us a long-awaited chance to open fire, but it was an abortive shoot. The rounds falling into the water at short range. Still, it achieved the purpose of masking the planes keep their distance. We switched to defence watches (one in two instead of one in three) so as to have both guns manned, but apart from Whitehall and Mahrattas’ continued attacks, nothing further happened during the afternoon and the convoy arrived safely in Kola on 2.2.44. Returning with 37 ships on the 3 February, arriving at Loch Ewe on the 11 February  1944.

On the 27 March 1944 Westcott escorted JW.58 from Loch Ewe and arrived at Kola on 5 April with no losses and returned with RA.58 from Kola on 7 April arriving back at Loch Ewe on the 14 April 1944.

Lt. Stuart Murray William Farquharson-Roberts RN

On leaving HMS Westcott he joined HMS Conn, a turbo-diesel ("Buckley") Captain Class frigate named after Captain John Conn of HMS Dreadnought at the Battle of Trafalgar. Her CO was Lt Cdr Raymond Hart who had commanded the V & W HMS Vidette, a member of the B7 Escort Group during the defence of Convoy ONS.5 in April 1943. Hart was the  Senior Officer of the 21st Escort Group (1944-45) in Conn and led them in sinking three U-boats in March 1945, two in one day. Stuart Farquharson-Roberts remained in the Royal Navy after the war and retired as Capt Stuart M.W. Farquharson-Roberts RN in 1977. He lives in Steep, Hampshire, has internet access and e-mail (via his carer) and still occasionaly drives a car.


Edwin Philip Cross
RDF Operator in Westcott, June 1943 to the end of the War

No hiding placeHMS Valkerie on therisle of ManTed Cross was born at Erith in Kent on 11 June 1925. He left school at 14 and had several jobs before volunteering for the Navy six months before his eighteenth bithday to avoid being conscripted into the Army. He did his ten weeks basic training course at HMS Collingwood at Fareham in Hampshire.

He opted to be an RDF Operator, the word used at that time for Radar, a new technology which could track submarines when surfaced while ASDIC tracked them when submerged; there would be "no hiding place" for German u-boats. He did his RDF training on the Isle of Man at HMS Valkerie and joined HMS Westcott in June 1943 at the start of her final Commission after conversion to a Long Range Escort (LRE).

Westcott worked up at Londonderry after her conversion and in September joined the 4th Escort Group which included HMS Wrestler and Whitehall at Liverpool escorting Atlantic Convoys but it was not long before she was transferred to the 8th Escort Group based at Greenock on the Clyde escorting Arctic Convoys to Northern Russia.

There were six RDF Operators in Westcott split between Red, Blue and Green Watches, with two on duty at a time in the RDF officce. It was impossible to maintain ones concentration to the fickering screen for an entire four hour Watch so two men were required. At the end of a Watch the duty operatives had four hours off before going on Watch again. He was also First Lt Ernest Quarrie RNR officer’s servant, tidying his cabin and bringing him tea when in harbour.

Ted spent his time off duty sleeping and eating in his Mess. The Mess Deck was three foot beneath sea level and reached via a hatch and a vertical ladder. Ted Cross was in Number Six Mess on the Port side which was occupied by fifteen specialist ratings:  6 RDF operators, 3 HDF operators, a radio mechanic, a Chef, Leading Chef and three Quartermasters. “Stormy” Fairweather was on the same mess deck as Ted Cross but on the starboard side in Number Five Mess with the Signalmen. The three seamen’ messes were in the forecastle and there was also a Stokers Mess and a  Petty Officers Mess.

Arctic Convoys

Westcott escorted six north bound JW Convoys and seven RW return convoys, the "empties",  while Ted Cross was aboard between October 1943 and the end of the war. In October 1943 when convoys resumed after the Summer Break when Russia was supplied by the southern route through the Persian Gulf and then overland the escorts headed North to bring the empties back (Operation FR) and continued to Archangel where several ships had been cut off until the convoys resumed.  She escorted six north bound JW convoys and seven  RW return convoys, the "empties".

The Navigating Officer, Lt. Stuart Murray William Farquharson-Roberts RN, known as the Pilot, had a particularly difficult task. There were 22 hours of winter darkness and he had to hope for clear nights and rely on star sights to determine their position. The most perilous part of any convoy was the passage south of Bear Island where the U-Boats formed a screen and lay in wait. Lt Farquharson depended on Ted Cross to determine the range and bearing of Bear Island by RDF. The skipper would say, “Well, Pilot, where do you think we are?" and he would wave his hand over the chart to give an approximate position which would satisfy the CO.

Vladamir Putin presents Ted Cross with the Ushakov Medal in June 2013
Ted Cross was one of twenty Arctic veterans who received the Ushakov Medal from Vladamir Putin at 10 Downing Street on 16 June 2013
David Cameron presented the veterans with the Arctic Star at the same event
Ted Cross in naval uniform
Edwin Philip Cross RDF Operator
Ted Cross is 95 and is in good health

A 'Bunting Tosser' tells his Story of
Arctic Convoys to Russia

Clifford "Stormy" FairweatherIt was early January 1944, after initial training at 'Royal Arthur at Skegness and signals training at 'Scotia' at Ayr. I found myself on a draft from Chatham to HMS Westcott who was at the time berthed at Greenock. I arrived at Glasgow railway station after a long and tedious journey. There were three others on the same draft. When we reported our arrival, we were told that transport down to the docks would not be available for at least an hour, so to lose ourselves, we did not need a second telling so we adjourned to the nearest watering hole where I was introduce to my first 'Black and tan'. The most I had drank until then was the occasional 'Brown Ale'. After three pints of this nectar we were called to our transport, one of the Naval trucks. By the time we arrived at Greenock I was a little worse for wear. However, somehow, I still don't know how, I managed to negotiate two gang planks and landed on the deck of HMS Westcott. I was directed to what was to be my mess, down a hatchway to the mess deck.

Somehow, I managed, with the help of others, to sling my hammock and actually get in it. The next morning I was awakened to find that my hammock was swaying. We were at sea! I was told to report to the Yeoman on the flag deck. When I eventually found my way there I met the other members of the signals branch. I was shown around the flag deck, the flag lockers, halyards and various signal lamps, two ten inch, and an aldis, and the bridge, the binnacle various brass voice pipes, the chart table which was on the port side of the bridge with its canvas cover, which was to hide any light when the navigator or officer of the watch would be plotting or checking our course during darkness, which was almost twenty four hours during the winter months in those northern climes, this was where I was to be when on watch, when not busy with signals I would be at the side of the bridge, with powerful binoculars as an extra lookout. By this time the sea was getting a little rough and I was beginning to feel nauseated. Oh why did I leave the comfort of my home? Soon I was being violently sea sick and wishing that I could die. This was my initiation to being a matelot. I had never been on a boat before let alone go to sea. For three days I was so ill that I eventually passed out. Apparently I was rolling from one side of the flag deck to the other with the motion of the ship. When one of the other signal men said to the yeoman "What are we going to do about him Yeo? "Leave him there, he'll live" was the reply.  However the ship pulled into Iceland and I had a chance to recover.

Destination Russia!

After a brief stay, riding at anchor we were off. Destination Russia! I was about to learn of the hazards and hardships of those who were being employed in the escorting of convoys to and from Murmansk and Archangel.  A few days at sea and we were out of fresh food, from then on it was dehydrated vegetables, which was always packed in square tins. Meat too became non-existent except of course Corned beef, or corned dog as we called it. The only respite from this was when things were really quiet, we would drop a depth charge, and with everyone on deck with boat hooks, buckets, anything to grab as many as we could from the hundreds of fish that had been blown to the surface, with their guts blown out of their mouths. Of course the fish was delicious. But the memory of the intense cold (temperatures could get as low as minus 50 degrees with the wind chill factor) and the very rough seas are uppermost in my mind when I think of those trips to Murmansk. The ship, like most of the V&Ws had been built in 1917 as a short range destroyer with a speed of some thirty knots. In 1943 she had been converted to a long range escort vessel by removing her 'Woodbine' funnel and one of her boilers to make way for extra fuel space. This conversion reduced her speed to 22-25 knots, and when she was at full speed she vibrated violently. Conditions on board were primitive, no baths or showers, you used a bucket. This was also used for doing your dhobeying or to the uninitiated 'washing'. There was certainly no privacy.  In the mess which was about 29 feet by 25 feet about twenty-five men had to sleep, prepare food and eat it. To wash your clothes you scraped 'flakes' off  a bar of 'Pussers Hard' (soap) you would then take it to the galley and if the cook was in a good mood he would let you put it on the range to heat. Then you would take it on the upper deck and get busy with the scrubber. There were time when this routine was just not possible, and you would go many days before you were able to change into clean clothes. When in harbour, Sunday mornings would be 'Captains Rounds'. The mess had to be scrubbed out, hammocks stowed away, everything had to be neat and tidy, then you would retire from your mess whilst the Captain scrutinised the mess, everything had to be shipshape and 'Bristol Fashion'.

HMS Westcott off Iceland; a painting by L.L. Lawrence
A painting by shipmate Leslie Lionel Lawrence of HMS Westcott off Iceland
Lawrence was a "bunting tosser" like "Stormy" but three years older and one rank higher

Courtesy of Stormy Fairweather

"Watch About"

This routine was not possible whilst at sea, being 'Watch About' i.e. four hour on and four hours off (that is if you were not called to action stations). By the time you came off watch and removed your oilskin or duffle coat and then the other sodden wet clothing and climbed into you hammock, most times near exhaustion, there was not much of your four hours off left to snatch some sleep, and if action stations sounded you could go some time before you were able to do that. There was a time when I dozed off standing up while on watch, thank goodness it was only momentarily for if I had been caught 'napping' I would have been for the high jump, it certainly meant a very serious charge. Whilst on watch on the bridge, unless you were engaged signalling you had to keep a constant lookout with binoculars glued to your eyes watching for aircraft, U-boats and if you were close escort, keep an eye on the merchant ships, making sure they kept station and did not make too much smoke, for some of them were coal burning ships. Occasionally there would be one develop engine problems and would drop back out of line whilst the rest of the convoy carried on, then you may get detailed to stay with it for protection until it could get under way again. Convoy work was mainly boring, on the odd occasion we would get a 'ping' from the Asdic, Action stations would be sounded and then it was all systems go. Everyone at action stations would have their ears pricked listening to the Asdic and eye scanned the ocean looking for the tell tale signs of a periscope of the wake of a torpedo.

"The Battle ensign"

 On one occasion a U-boat had been reported on the surface ahead of the convoy, being nearest we were despatched at full speed to intercept. We were accompanied by another V&W, the Whitehall (I think). We were Senior Officer Escort and were ahead of the Whitehall. The Yeoman (who was a very competent man) had his telescope to his eye scanning the horizon ahead. "Hook on" "Enemy in sight and the Battle ensign". We were breaking all speed records, vibrating like the devil pounding through the sea, (can you imagine what it was like for a seventeen year old to be on the bridge of a British destroyer in hot pursuit of the enemy?). "U-boat dead ahead sir!!" Hoist enemy in sight, battle ensign to the masthead!" was the yeoman's cry. He had spotted the U-boat long before anyone else. Everyone at action stations. Gun crews, depth charge parties. All those on the bridge had their binoculars trained on the U-boat. (My first and only sight of a U-boat until VE Day plus one). Then, "U-boat about to dive sir!" came the cry from the alert Yeoman Hall. How did he know?  The range and direction was given to 'B' gun's crew. The Gunnery Officer, Trevor Riches confirmed that he had it in sight, but at extreme range, so with the gun at an angle of approximate 45 degrees the order came "Open Fire!!" With the crash of the gun the peak of the Gunnery Officers cape fell off! But what a brilliant shot. Dead in line with the U-boat but just a few yards short of the target which by now making a hasty dive to the protection of the waves. There was not enough time to get off another shot before the U-boat disappeared. Then the ensuing depth charge attack, first the 'Hedgehog' - to no avail, then the depth charges, what a spectacular sight when they detonate. On this occasion there was no evidence of a kill. We continued the search, but the conditions in those icy waters are of no assistance to the Asdic operators. We then had to resume our station in the most important duty that of protection of the convoy.

Blue Nose Ceretificate - HMS WESTCOTT, 1943-4

"Blue Nose Certificates" were awarded to crew members on entering the Arctic Circle for the first time

George Rankin Raeburn was a shipmate of Stormy Fairweather on HMS Westcott in 1943-4 when Lt Cdr Hedworth Lambton RN was the CO
The "blue Nose Certificate" was drawn by Signalman Leslie Lawrence


Polyarno

So we continued our way to Murmansk, or should I say Polyarno, for that is where we naval vessels were (If you were lucky) berthed. Whilst the merchant ships continued up the Kola inlet to Murmansk. What a God forsaken place, not the ideal place for a run ashore. I did try to go our of the dockyard area once, only to be confronted by a Russian woman dressed in a dark khaki great coat and the usual Russian fur hat with the red star in the front, armed with a rifle with fixed bayonet, Nikt you are not going walkies was the impression she gave me when brandishing the bayonet. I'm sure she would have disembowelled me had I persisted. All the Russian people looked so very sullen, tho' the children were eager to barter for anything, they looked so pitiful. We escorted another three of these convoys before we were called to another task.


'D' Day and the Normandy landings.

We left the Clyde on the 3rd June, armed with a pamphlet from General Eisenhower telling us of the great crusade that we were about to embark upon. When we turned left instead of right on leaving the Clyde we knew that it was not to be another Russian run. We rendezvoused with the Warspite, but because of the deterioration of the weather we had to sail around the Channel Islands for a couple of days before proceeding to the French coast. Warspite's task was the bombardment of shore batteries at Caen. What a thunderous roar when she opened up with a broadside, this went on most of the day. Come dusk a signal was sent asking permission to go in close, to do our little bit. We were told to stay where you are. The next day we developed a leak in one of the boilers, on reporting this we were told to return to the Solent for repairs. No lame ducks were welcome in this environment.  As we steamed up the Solent, vessels of every conceivable type, Royal and Merchant ships cheered and blared away on their sirens etc; may be they thought that we had been wounded in battle!  After we had anchored, I was on watch when I noticed among all these hundreds of ships a light was flashing our pennant number. On answering I found that it was my brother who was serving on an MTB. Looking at him through my binoculars I could just make out his balding head. Of course there was no possibility of meeting up.  On completion of the temporary repairs we were detailed to patrol off the French and Belgian coast. This we continued to do calling in at Dover for fuel and supplies. Then it was off to Dundee to get the boiler cleaned and repaired.


Arctic Convoy JW.61A

On the 31st October we escorted two large personnel ships, this was a fast convoy, the two ships, the Empress of Australia and the Scythia had 11,000 Russian nationals on board who had been 'captured' in France, while serving with the Germans. When we arrived at the Kola Inlet we had to anchor in the mouth of the river. No one was allowed ashore, and the British shore establishments were not allowed near Murmansk. What happened to those unfortunate Russians?  We did two more of those convoys to Russia, On one return convoy in December I was on watch and saw in the distance a huge flash, followed by the sound of an explosion. I was soon to learn that it was the destroyer Cassandra which had been torpedoed, lost her bows and had to return to Murmansk.

Our last Convoy, JW.63 and RA.63

Our last convoy to Russia designated JW63 sailed on the 30th December, and arrived on the 8th January. By now there was almost 24 hours of darkness, with very much cloud, snow and ice which meant that there was no interference from the enemy. The return convoy RA63 sailed from the Kola Inlet on the 11th January 1945, once again we were not intercepted by the enemy, but we encountered a far greater and fiercer enemy, that of the weather.

We were about three days out from Murmansk. North East of the Faroes when the storm blew up, soon the winds were at hurricane force, forcing the ships to heave to, or take shelter where they could. On the Westcott, it was horrendous, we were being tossed about like a cork I was on the bridge, soaked to the skin, hanging on for dear life, whilst those in the mess below were being thrown about to such an extent that some received injuries. 'Jock Gilmour our S.B.A had split his head open and had used his clean underwear to bandage it. Fuel oil had escaped through in to the mess deck mixed with the salt water was swilling around intermingled with various items that had not been stowed away. What a filthy stinking mess. One minute the ship was riding on the crest of a huge wave and then she would plunge down into the trough and the next wave would come right over the top of us. Everything had been battened down, no one dare move without a life line. How long the storm lasted I do not know, I do know that it seemed a lifetime. I think it was the only time that I feared for my life. How we survived I will never know, maybe by the skill of the Captain and the helmsman, or may be by the Grace of God.  When the storm did eventually subside, it's severity was evident. Much damage had been done, anything not secured had disappeared boats had been smashed, carley rafts gone, rails were bent there was a heavy swell running and on attempting 180 degree turn, a wave caught our beam, and the old ship keeled over at an alarming angle, she stayed there for what seemed ages, but the old girl righted herself, I'm sure quite a few hearts missed a few beats. We again resumed our voyage, but we had to go to the Faroes for an emergency repair apparently rivets had been forced out of our keel!


Storm Damage

On out arrival in the Clyde at the end of January 1945 we had to go into dock for storm damage repairs, this was to be Westcott's last Russian convoy. She did other work, a few trips across to Ireland escorting the ferry from Stranraer to Larne. The war in Europe was soon to end. We were anchored in the Clyde on VE day. "Splice the Main Brace"!! Celebration went on till late in the day we were firing Very Lights, star shells etc; the officers came forward on to the seaman's mess carrying bottles of beer and spirits. The Skipper, Lt, Cdr Reed asked for a cigarette and a light. Who ever gave him the light singed his beard! He accused me of trying to set light to his beard and threatened to throw me overboard! The next day we were ordered to proceed to Iceland. Apparently the marines there had gone on the rampage. We took with us some senior ranking officers to try and sort thing out. On the way we came across four U-boats which had been ordered to remain on the surface, on contact we gave them direction to proceed to Cambletown in Scotland. 

Paid Off!

On our return we were paid off. Soon the old Westcott was to be scrapped. She had served our country faithfully and well for 28 years, she had steamed thousands of miles without breaking down. During her very long and illustrious career she had been involved in incidents from China to Russia, from the Mediterranean to the North Atlantic. Now she was to be scrapped, a very sad end to a wonderful ship. Her name is spoken with great pride and affection by all who served aboard her as do I. Why? Maybe it was because she was my first ship, maybe because she had most of my guts, or perhaps it was in her that I grew up.


Clifford "Stormy" Fairweather
Ex 'Bunting Tosser' and
Chairman of the V & W Destroyer Association

You can read a fuller account of Stormy's service in HMS Wescott in The Wartime News PDF Edition for February 2017

Bill Forster recorded an interview with Clifford ("Stormy") Fairweather at Warwick on the 20 April 2013

You can click on the link to listen to "Stormy" describe his wartime service on HMS Westcott
be patient - it takes a couple of minutes before the file opens and Clifford starts speaking

The Westcott Club and its Reunions

Stormy Fairweather recognised a drawing in the Northern Lights, the newsletter of the North Russian Club of Arctic Convoy veterans, by Les Lawrence, a former shipmate in HMS Westcott and set out to contact him. Leslie Lionel Lawrence, a Signalman like Stormy, was the talented artist who drew the "Blue Nose Certificate" (see above) presented to crew members after completing their first Arctic Convoy. Stormy and Les Lawrence contacted as many of their shipmates as they could and formed the "Westcott Club" which held its inaugural meeting in London at the Victory Services Club near Marble Arch in 1989.

The Wescott Club met at Westcott in 1990

In 1940, a year before the seaside resorts of Morecambe and Heysham on the Lancashire coast adopted HMS Westcott after raising £452,000 in their Warship Week, the village of Westcott near Dorking in Surrey, sent knitted comforts and other gifts to the destroyer which bore the name of their village. The veterans never forgot this informal adoption of their ship and decided to hold their next meeting at Westcott in 1990. Dave Knight arranged for them to stay as guests in private houses or  the village pub and they met in October for the weekend. Tragically,  Leslie Lionel Lawrence Hon FBDS, FRSA (1923-90), died from a massive hemorrhage on 2 September a month before they met.  A framed copy of his water colour painting of HMS Westcott was presented to the village and hangs in the village hall with a brass plate and a short history of the ship. The reunion was attended by thirty-eight veterans and a service was held in the church. The following photographs are from Stormy Fairweather's albums and were provided by his widow, Viv Fairweather.

Veterans if HMS Westcott with Les Lawrence's painting
From left: Ted Cross, Jack Bradshaw, unidentified and David Knight from the village
David Knight (on right) was a comparatively young man when he died rom a heart attack in 1994 but Edwin (Ted) Cross on the left is a fit and active 95 year old

Outside thge village Church in Westcott, Surrey, where the Westcott Club of veterans met in 1990
from left: Lofty Pacey, George Purslow, Stormy Fairweather, unidentified, Bob Smale and Nobby Hall

Stormy Fairweather and Dave Knight at the bar of the village pub
Dave Knight with Stormy Fairweather on the right at the reunion of the Westcott Club in 1990
Dave Knight of the Westcott Local History Group was a comparatively young man when he died in 1994 but Stormy lived a long life and was 90 when he died in 2017
Stormy is wearing the badge of the North Russia Club on his jacket
 

In 1991 the Westcott Club met at Morecambe the Lancashire seaside resort which together with its neighbour Heysham adopted HMS Westcott after a successful Warships Week in December 1941. Warships Weeks were a very successful National Savings programme to raise money for the building of new warships by allowing towns and cities throughout Britain to adopt an existing ship if they raised enought money to pay for the building of a hull of a new warship. Morecambe and Heysham had between them raised £452,000 to adopt HMS Westcott.

The painting by Les Lawrence of HMS WEstcott which hasngs in the Msyor's Parlour of the Town Hall in Morecambe and the Village Hall at Westciott near Dorking, Surrey.

The veterans stayed at the Rutland Hotel on the seafront and marched with a police escort to the church for a service and then to the Mayor’s Parlour in Morecambe’s grand Town Hall  and were received by the Lady Mayor and served sandwiches and tea. An identical framed copy of Les Lawrence's painting of HMS
Westcott was presented to the town and hangs with the wooden shield bearing the ship's crest presented to the town by the Admiralty in the Mayor's Parlour. At present we do not have any photographs taken at the reunion in Morecambe but hope to be sent some for adding to this page.

Arthur Gardner with the Ushakov Medal awarded by the Russian Government to Arctic Convoy veteransAB Arthur "Lofty" GardnerIn October 2020 Ted Cross, a 95 year old former RDF Operator (Radar) on Westcott in 1943-5 with a remarkable memory, recalled the places where subsequent meetings of the Westcott Club were held. They took on a regular pattern with two meetings being held each year and a Newsletter edited by Stormy published. A one day meeting was held at the London Welsh Club in April and a two or three day meeting in September or October.

This was for many years organised by former
Able Seaman “Lofty” (Arthur) Gardner who looked for a suitable hotel when on holiday and negotiated a discounted rate for a group booking. Arthur became a builder in Bexleyheath and was a hundred when he died a year ago so was unable to check this interim list of reunions provided by Ted Cross. "Lofty" was photographed on the left with his Ushakov medal awarded to Arctic Convoy veterans by Russia (left) and on the right in a wartime studio portrait.

Please contact Bill Forster if you can add dates, further details or photographs.
The following list may not be comprehensive or in the right order so no dates are given: Scarborough, Southsea, Blackheath (London), Chatham (Gillingham), Blackpoool, Carlisle (where former 1st Lt Ernest M. Quarrie RNR lived), Torquay, Chester and Jersey where Leading Signalman Bob Smale owned the Westhill Hotel (now ran by his sons). The last reunion of the Westcott Cub was held at at Banbury in Oxfordshire in about 2004.

Stormy Fairweather formed the V & W Destroyer Association in 1993 and from then on it ran in tandem with the Westcott Club with "Stormy" running both but after 2004 the Westcott members either attended the V & W Association reunions or dropped out. My father served in HMS Venomous and like many others I joined the V & W Association as a family member and set up this website in 2014 before the Association was dissolved after the death of "Stormy" in 2017 to keep the memory of these ships and the men who served in them alive after they have "crossed the bar".



Clifford "Stormy" Fairweather, founder and Chairman of the V & W Destroyer Association, died on Sunday 19 March 2017.
He had been unable to attend the annual meetings of the Association since the reunion at Eastbourne in 2014 and in April 2017 the V & W Destroyer Association was dissolved.
The website of the V & W Destroyer Association will see that his name and that of the thousands of other men who served in a V & W Class destroyer in the war will not be forgotten.



 
If you want to find out more about the wartime service of a member of your family who served on HMS Westcott 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 Westcott 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


 

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