The Journal of
Midshipman Derek Tolfree 23 December 1942 - 9 March 1944
Derek Tolfree (on right) lent his Midshipman's Journal to Mike Lewis whose father,
Idrisyn John James Lewis on left, served on HMS Westminster as a Gunner. James Lewis came from Llaneli and was known as Taffy Lewis by his shipmates. He was a DEMS Gunner on the Panamanian tanker, SS Beaconlight, when she was torpedoed on the 16 July 1942 and joined HMS Westminster
after survivors leave. Mike Lewis typed out the entries in Derek
Tolfree's Journal and supplied them to me in January 2016 for adding to
the web site of the V & W Destroyer Association. The introduction
to Derek Tofree's life is based on the interview with him in the Sound Archive of the Imperial War Museum, London, which can be listened to online - click on the link at the foot of this page.
*** *** *** ***
Tolfree was born at Bromley in 1925 and was 14 when the war started and
couldn't go back to school until the air raid shelters were built. He
wanted to be a marine engineer but his father did not want him wasting
time as a messenger for the ARP while waiting for the school to re-open
so sent him to HMS Worcester,
the Dartmouth of the Merchant Navy, which mainly trained deck officers.
He intended to do an engineering apprenticeship on leaving Worcester but his friends were all joining the RNR and becoming deck officers so he did the same. He was posted to the battleship, HMS Nelson,
at Scapa Flow aged 16 and felt a little isolated as the only RNR out of thirty
midshipmen. But as he explained, "In the RNR we were sailors trying to
be gentleman and in the RNVR they were gentlemen trying to be sailors".
After six months he was sent to Greenwich for two months and to Chatham for a month and was then posted to the Westminster,
a WAIR Class conversion of an old V & W. He was 17 when he joined
as a Midshipman at the end of 1942 and nineteen and a half when he
became a sub lieutenant and was the
only one of the original officers left when the war ended. He was on
East Coast and
Channel convoys. The officers were experienced but the ratings less so.
He spent Christmas 1942 feeling miserable wandering round pubs on his
own in Sheerness.
the CO, had been a submariner and was in command of the submarine HMS Oxley, the first British warship to be lost
during the war, torpedoed by a British sub off Norway. Bowerman was
one of only two survivors. On East Coast Convoys Westminster was the Second Leader and Wallace the Leader with Prince Philip as her First Lieutenant. The convoys terminated at the end of Southend pier and Wallace
signaled "what are those funny balls at the back of your bridge?"and
received the reply that they are a Type 994 radar aerial. Prince Philip
wanted know why as Flotilla Leader Wallace did not have this advanced equipment. The truth was they were
the balls hanging outside a pawn brokers shop in Newcastle taken as a
souvenir on a trip ashore. Westminster kept this joke going for ages, and even
requested the "regilding of the Type 994 aerials".
described the routine for the FN (North) and FS (South) convoys along
the east coast. The convoys assembled at Methil and met the escorts off
May Island. There was a "Convoy Conference" with the Commodore, a RNR
Senior Captain or, perhaps, a retired Admiral. There were "joiners"
(colliers from Blyth, Newcastle, Middlesborough, etc) and "leavers" as
far south as Hull. The convoy could have up to fifty ships in two columns.
They communicated by loud hailers and signalling flags. The main danger in the North was from U-boats, further south aircraft
and e-boats with mines in the narrow channels a constant danger the
whole way. He saw quite a lot of ships blown up by mines. The merchant ships had to keep a compass bearing which was
"completely foreign to deep ocean ships" but also follow the stern
light of the ship ahead.
escort force usually consisted of two V & W WAIR Class destroyers from the Rosyth
Escort Force and two armed trawlers with Royal Navy officers and Fairmile Motor Launches (ML). Later on they also had some old US "four funnellers" which were very unreliable. Westminster always led the convoy while Bowerman, the senior officer in the escort force, was CO. In E-Boat Alley which extended south from Crommer to the Harwich area they were reinforced withHunt Class destroyers from the 21 Flotilla at Sheerness and the V & Ws of 16th Destroyer Flotilla at Harwich. They also had a fighter escort, usually Spitfires, with Polish pilots which made communications "a bit of a shambles". The
constant problems were keeping the lanes swept of mines and the wrecks
down the East Coast which made navigation difficult. They navigated by
their masts during daylight and by "pinging
on the wrecks" with Asdic. They whole convoy anchored during fog and
the two "balloon barrage ships" (requisitioned Channel Island steamers)
had to pull
down their balloons so as not to give their positions away.
He did not know their first CO, Ouvry, but the second was Bowerman, the submariner. The third was Johnny Dyer, "a wonderful guy" who joined as a lieutenan and had been a senior officer of coastal forces and First Lt on Samaurez in the Scharnhorst
action where he won his DSC. The
Doctor had to do the deciphering and was also Wardroom wine officer and
entertainment officer. Relationship
with ratings was pretty relaxed. The worst crime was "breaking leave"
as they were a tightly manned ship but a happy ship with no fighting,
drug taking, etc. He had one ten day leave but apart from that their
only leave was during boiler cleaning (every six weeks). There were no
courses or training, apart from the "attack teacher" for countering
aircraft and anti-submarine teacher when in harbour.
When listening from the bridge with hydrophones combined with Asdic it
was possible to distinguish reciprocating machinery, triple expansion,
diesel, turbines, whales,
porposes, etc. on the bridge over the loud speaker. He mimiced the
noise they made to demonstrate how different they sounded. Their
primary role was to protect the convoy from E-Boats. There
were lots of false alarms of E-boats. They were not very seaworthy and stayed away in moderate seas of Force 4 - 5 but if it was
a dark calm night, espcially in winter, they would say, "Ernest will
be out tonight". When the E-boats laid up near a buoy they could only be
distinguished by a bigger echo on the RDF. He described events when he was on the Bridge wth the Navigator and Captain at night when they
sunk about three e-boats at night at about half a mile range. It was reported
in the Mirror and Bristol paper where many crew members lived (see the entry in his Diary for 15 April 1943).
They took air crew on convoys and were taken on flights in Ansons to
help gain familiarity with each others jobs. Early on they were often
attacked by aircraft off Flamborough Head. They had Oerlikons and even
a Bren Gun from Dunkirk (but was told that the Westminster
got so drunk on gin from a wrecked ship she never made it to Dunkirk).
He showed the interviewer lots of photographs taken on the Westminster (which were scanned)
and described keeping his Midshipman's journal
from joining HMS Nelson when only 16.
There were four RNR midshipman who trained at HMS Worcester in the Rosyth Escort Force, on Woolston, Winchester and Valorous, and he kept in touch with them after the war.
Wednesday 23rd December 1942
We left Rosyth at 08.45 approx and I went to the bridge to watch the
operation. We passed under the Forth Bridge on the way out and it
looked very impressive from below. At Methil we picked up a convoy
consisting of 14 ships, the Commodore being the “Dundee” and the Vice
being the “Fort of Gibraltar”. We took up station in the Van/Vou with
“Viceroy” in the rear. During the 1st watch went round the ship, I had
the afternoon and first watches. Our convoys speed was 7 ¾ knots but
this fluctuated. We received many signals for a Happy Xmas.
Thursday 24th December 1942
Today we had several join us from Tyne, Sutherland, Seaham, Tees and
Humber, totaling 48 ships. I had the forenoon watch as we were going
through E-boat alley that night, we worked watch on watch from 1900
hours. I had the dog and middle watch. Although weather conditions were
good no E-boat activity was reported and we had a quite night.
Friday 25th December 1942
Today being Christmas Day we were endeavouring to get into Sheerness
early. We formed single column at 0652 hours. During the forenoon we
received many messages of goodwill from our convoy. We passed many
trawlers and boom defence vessels as we entered through the gate at
about 11.30 hours. In the forenoon after bathing I went ashore and
returned on board at 2100 hours.
Saturday 26th December 1942
We left Sheerness at 0915 hours and proceeded out of the estuary. We
started off with 30 ships the Commodore being “Sanryck”. The weather
was dull and as we went through the alley we expected some excitement.
We went to action stations at 1900 hours and about a quarter of an hour
after we'd fallen out the alarm bell sounded, E-boat activity had been
reported on RDF had picked up a contact ahead, nothing materialised
however and we eventually fell out about 2 ½ hours later. I had the 1st
and morning watches. During the 1st a destroyer fired a starshell off
right over us, which made us a perfect target. The rest of the night
Sunday 27th December 1942
The forenoon and afternoon passed uneventfully. We had various joined
from Tyne and other ships left the convoy. During the night we had fog.
Monday 28th December 1942
During the middle we had fog and ships kept getting out of station. At
about 0100 hours a large merchant vessel loomed up ahead and as we
altered to starboard she went to port, a collision seemed imminent but
by going astern we managed to avoid it. I had the forenoon watch and we
sighted May Island at about 1100 hours. After taking the convoy to
Methil and receiving thanks from the Commodore, we passed under the
bridge again and came alongside at 1430 hours a tug was in attendance.
In the evening I went ashore to the pictures.
Tuesday 29th December 1942
Today I was day on and went ashore to Petreavie to collect CB's. I watch the rugger match with “Verdun” we won.
is between Rosyth and Dunfermelin and its Castle was bought by the RAF
in 1938 and adopted for use as the HQ for No 18 (Reconaissance) Group,
Coastal Command. The RAF agreed to allow the Flag Officer Rosyth to
share their facilities. Midshipman Tolfree was sent to collect the
Confidential books (CBs), which would include monthly changing code
books and corrections to books already held. At the end of the month
superseded material would have to be destroyed, witnessed and signed
off by two officers.
Wednesday 30th December 1942
This morning I went aboard H.M.S Duke of York and found it very
interesting. We had a duty “A” and shipped out at 1500 hours. After
about 1 ½ hours run we arrived off Methil and anchored starboard anchor
with 6 shackles in 16 fathoms. I had anchor watch from 1900 – 2000
hours and during this time gunfire was heard to the seaward. There was
a coastal gale warning.
Thursday 31st December 1942
During the forenoon we had collision and abandon ship stations.
We got the collision mat ready and lowered over the starboard side
abreast the forrard. After falling in for abandon ship stations the
Captain addressed the ships company. At 1335 hours we shortened in and
at 1345 weighed anchor. The convoy consisted of 11 ships the Commodore
being the Norwegian “Nordjerv” of 5000 tons, convoy speed 8 knots.
A map showing the convoy routes along the east coast in mid 1940 Copyright Julian Paul Foynes - not to be reproduced
Friday 1st January 1943
During the middle was passed the FN convoy with “Wallace” and
“Winchester”. We had 19 joiners and 6 left at the Tyne. There was a
fair wind and we rolled a little. We passed another FN convoy during
the afternoon with “Walsey” and “Woolston”. We received a gale warning
and the tugs left the convoy. I spent the forenoon with the gunners
mate in the TS. We went to defence stations at 1730 hours. During the
1st watch the gale developed and we rolled as much as 25 degrees. The
wind was very strong and owing to the slow convoy speed the ship was
difficult to stear. We went to cruising stations at 2100 hours.
Saturday 2nd January 1943
The gale eventually subsided and by mid day the visibility was good and
the wind force 5. We went through the boom at 1330 hours and shackled
on at 1415 hours. We arrived with 25 ships after having joiners from
the Tyne and the Humber. In the evening I went ashore to the pictures.
Sunday 3rd January 1943
We slipped from 5 buoy at 0925 hours. The Commodore being the “Forth”
with 30 other ships, speed 8 ½ knots. We received many gale warnings
during the forenoon. The weather gradually deteriorated and during the
night the sea was 42 on the scale and visibility closed to 1 mile.
Hale, Snow and Sleet were experienced. In the afternoon we tested
Oerlikons. The speed made good was 4 ¾ knots.
Monday 4th January 1943
The wind and sea grew less during the day and I went into the director
in the forenoon for instruction. We received orders to go into Tyne and
anchor. At 1700 hours “Verdun” took over as the Van and we went to the
rear. We had to round up the stragglers of which were 3 miles
Tuesday 5th January 1943
At 0415 hours we anchored in the mouth of the Tyne, I mile from North
Wall. We weighed again at 0915 hours and proceeded up river. Many other
ships were seen on the way up, and we eventually came alongside the
Tyne. Commissioners Quay, North Shields at 1115 hours. We came port
side to ahead of the cruiser “Scylla”. Our stay however was short, just
time to get water. We left again at 1715 hours. We passed “Scylla” and
she was de-ammunition, music being relayed over her S.R.E, making a
striking contrast to the business in hand. At 1815 hours we anchored
again off T.J Buoy, waiting to rendezvous with the Norwegian escort vessel “Sleipner” at 20.C Buoy at 0030 hours. We weighed again at 2330 hours and proceeded to 20.C Buoy at 15 knots.
Wednesday 6th January 1943
After meeting “Sleipner” we increased speed to 21 knots but had to ease
down again as “Sleipner” had a cracked upper deck and a heavy sea was
running. We increased again however and proceeded to Sheerness,
shackling onto 5 Buoy at 1800 hours approx.
Thursday 7th January 1943
We slipped out again today at 0925 hours and spent some time rounding
up the convoy, which consisted of 27 ships, the Commodore being the
Belgian “Garonne”. The “Sleipner” was the rear escort and the
additional escorts were “Gorth and Blencathra” both Hunt Class
destroyers. We went to defence stations at 1900 hours, and fell out
again at 2100 hours, as there was a slight sea running, and wind was
freshening. Our convoy was of medium speed.
Friday 8th January 1943
The middle watch past uneventfully except for a few gaps in the convoy.
The weather became good for E-boat s but nothing was experienced. The
weather today was excellent for the time of year and the visibility was
Saturday 9th January 1943
During the night we left the convoy and proceeded on our own at 22
knots. We passed through the boom at 0848 hours, and as we went under
the bridge the visibility became very poor. We eventually came
alongside at 1005 hours. I went ashore to Edinburgh during the
afternoon. When I returned on board I found that the “Sleipner” had
moored alongside of us.
Sunday 10th January 1943
A Russian submarine came alongside “Sleipner” this forenoon.
Monday 11th January 1943
Today I was on duty and during the forenoon I went to Petreavie for
C.B's and in the forenoon I corrected C.B's. The Russian submarine and
the “Sleipner” left us. New semtex was put on the deck on the port side
between the searchlight and break in the foc'cle.
Tuesday 12th January 1943
During the forenoon I corrected C.B's and went ashore after dinner.
When I returned I found that another submarine had moored up alongside
Wednesday 13th January 1943
Today H.M.S Kenya was lying in the stream. Fifteen Polish Army Officers came to inspect the ship during the afternoon.
Thursday 14th January 1943
Early this morning H.M. Ships Kenya and Viceroy and the Russian
submarine went out into the basin. The hands returned from boiler leave
at 1230 hours today. When I returned on board, I read a signal
directing us to proceed to sea at 1000 hours on the 15th. This was a
day earlier than I anticipated. The tugs held St Albans off and our
stern off and we then slipped from St Albans and manoeuvred out astern.
Friday 15th January 1943
Early this morning the “Vanity” left the basin after her refit to
rejoin the force. The ex-American destroyer St Albans was moored
alongside of us. She is now operating with the Norwegian Navy. We
slipped at 1003 hours and with two tugs in attendance we proceeded into
the stream. As we were on the inside of the St Albans we needed the
tugs to get us clear. We then proceeded to Methil where we were to meet
the S.S. Temple Arch. We arrived at our rendezvous about 1 hour early
and anchored. At 1330 we weighed and proceeded with the S.S Temple Arch
at 10 ½ knots her operating speed being 11 knots. She was a large
single funnelled ship and had a surprisingly heavy armament, this
consisted of 1 four inch and a Bofor, aft, a 12 pounder on the foc'sle
and about 6 Oerlikans. We were to take the Temple Arch as far as
Saturday 16th January 1943
At 0830 hours approx we left the “Temple Arch” and proceeded back to
Rosyth at 22 knots. The weather was very fine and we moored up again in
“N” berth at about 1730 hours. A little fog was experienced after
coming through the boom. I was duty so I stayed on board.
Sunday 17th January 1943
During the forenoon the hands fell in and were given their certificate
to inspect. At 1500 hours we left “N” berth and proceeded to catch up
convoy F.S15. We met our convoy at about 1815 hours and I found it
consisted of 4 ships the Commodore ship being “Margaux”. During the
early part of the evening there was a slight swell but this subsided
and we had a calm moonlight night.
Monday 18th January 1943
I spent the middle watch on the bridge and the forenoon with the Chief
E A in the low power room. I had the afternoon watch, we went to
defence stations at 1750 hours. The night was moonlight and the sea was
Tuesday 19th January 1943
I kept the middle watch and during that time we had many reports of
suspected E-boat activity. We also had reports from British MTB's of
their sinking of a German merchant ship. Nothing materialised from the
E-boat reports. During the forenoon the visibility to one cable out, we
had to anchor outside the boom. We anchored at 1100 hours and about
half an hour later visibility improved, we could not proceed
however until the FN convoy had passed through the boom. We weighed at
1220 hours and arrived at out buoy at about 1300 hours. We shackled
Wednesday 20th January 1943
We were due to slip today at 0835 hours, but we eventually slipped at
0925 hours. We went through the gate and met our convoy. This consisted
of 23 ships the Commodore being “Lambtonian”. During the afternoon a
“dogfight” was seen to seaward, but it didn't come over our way and we
didn't see the type of planes engaged in it. The weather clear with a
very slight swell, had a full moon during the night which probably kept
the E-boats away. We had a new type of corvette with us as additional
escort, she was the “Pennyworth”.
Thursday 21st January 1943
We received no E-boat reports during the middle of the morning. During
the forenoon the wind freshened and the sea became a little rougher.
Nothing of note happened during the rest of the day.
Friday 22nd January 1943
I had the middle watch and it was a lovely moonlight night with a
little or no swell. We passed under the bridge at about 0900 hours and
tied up alongside with “Woolston”, for fuel, the oiler was the “War
Saturday 23rd January 1943
We stayed in Rosyth all day today and were tied up alongside
“Brocklesby” with “Woolston” alongside us. I went ashore in the
Sunday 24th January 1943
We had divisions this morning and afterwards Captain's rounds. At 1500
hours we sailed for duty “A” “Woolston” coming with us for duty “C”.
About 1 ½ hour later we anchored off Methil with the starboard anchor.
We dragged a little during the night.
Monday 25th January 1943
We left Methil early in the forenoon and proceeded for an AA shoot of
May Island. Gail was to have provided the sleeve target but owing to
weather conditions it did not appear. However we dropped the two smoke
floats on our foc'sle, the first failing to light, but the starboard
one was in good order and we fired our close range weapons at it. After
this we met our convoy consisting of 8 ships. This was to have been 15
but 7 did not sail. The Commodore's ship was the “Lanryck”. The rest of
the day passed uneventfully, the weather getting calmer towards the
evening. “Woolston” was our rear escort.
Tuesday 26th January 1943
We continued our southward passage and reached E-boat alley nightfall.
Our additional escorts were the “Holderness” a destroyer and “Widgeon”
a patrol vessel and the armed trawler “Basset”, with two ML's in the
rear. The night was dark and calm, excellent for E-boat attack but we
passed through uneventfully, except for receiving enemy reports around
Wednesday 27th January 1943
We arrived at Sheerness at about 1315 hours and secured to 5 buoy. I went ashore in the afternoon.
Thursday 28th January 1943
We slipped today at about 0900 hours and proceeded through the gate
meeting our convoy just outside. This consisted of the “Leogrange” as
Commodore's ships with 34 other vessels, among them two large standard
ships. The “Woolston” was rear escort and the corvette “Dianella” was
also with us. In spite of the fact that we were passing through E-boat
alley we stayed in cruising watches, as they was a strong wind and a
Friday 29th January 1943
The weather today has been very mild but they has been a heavy swell
and a strong wind. The Commodore left at the Tyne and the “Riley” took
over as Commodore ship. The master of the vessel acting as Commodore.
The night dark with a cold easterly wind.
Saturday 30th January 1943
We reached May Island today at 0630 hours and Largo Buoy at 0800 hours,
“Woolston” proceeded from Bath Ground straight to Rosyth, but we left
the convoy at Largo. We secured to “Woolston” in the destroyer pens at
Sunday 31st January 1943
We remained at Rosyth all day and “Wallace” sailed for duty “A”.
Reports of the worst storms for many years on the South & East
coasts were received during the day.
Monday 1st February 1943
We left Rosyth at 1400 hours today and proceeded to catch up our
convoy, which had sailed from Methil at 1030 hours, with “Wallace”. Our
speed ranged between 15 & 20 knots and we met the “Wallace” and 7
merchant vessels at about 1815 hours. There were many foreign ships in
the convoy, the Vice Commodore ship being Panamanian there was also a
Russian and two Swedes. The Commodore's ship was the “Abayne”
Tuesday 2nd February 1943
I had the middle watch and during that time there was a cold S W wind
blowing. We had a signal exercise in the forenoon, an Officer who was
taking passage with us was transferred to the “Wallace” by way of their
sea boat. Both ships hauled clear of the convoy and hove to. We went to
defence stations at 1730 hours but owing to a strong wind we returned
to cruising stations at 2300 hours. No E-boat reports were received
during the night but many aircraft were heard overhead at 2000 hours.
Our additional escorts were “Holderness” and “Catistock”, both Hunts
and the “Mallard “ a Duck Class corvette. The “Sapphire” was also with
us, she was a trawler.
Wednesday 3rd February 1943
I had the middle watch, we observed seven or eight large flashes ahead,
probably from bombs. Other than this nothing of any note occurred. The
weather today has been very fine. We secured at about 1245 hours. There
was a strong current to port as we secured.
Thursday 4th February 1943
We slipped at 0916 hours and proceeded at 10 knots through the gate to
meet our convoy. This consisted of 23 ships, the Commodore's ship being
the “Dundee”. We had 16 cutters from the Channel convoy at B2 buoy. The
weather was fine with hardly any wind. On our way out we saw about 25
Spitfires, presumably going on a sweep. The weather was very good for
E-boats but none was experienced. Two diesel M.G.B's were carrying out
exercises around the convoy. These were of a type I never previously
seen. Our additional escorts were “Whitshead” a V&W destroyer
“Hambleton” a Hunt and “Guillemot” a Duck Class corvette and a tug.
Friday 5th February 1943
During the middle watch we fired 3 star shells at a suspicious vessel
picked up by asdic but this didn't develop. The weather today has not
been so fine as of late. During the 1st we received a gale warning. At
2325 we left the convoy and proceeded independently at 10 knots.
Saturday 6th February 1943
We experienced very high winds and a moderate sea during the middle and
morning watch, however we reached Rosyth on time and secured alongside
the “Reading” at 0945, the “Reading” is an ex American destroyer.
Sunday 7th February 1943
Today the H.M.S Renown came into the stream. She had gone into dry-
dock for a refit, but anchored in the stream first to de-ammunition.
We were boiler cleaning.
Monday 8th February 1943
We continued with the boiler cleaning today and at 1330 hours,
“Reading” slipped and proceeded to sea. The destroyer “Forrester” came
alongside the wooden jetty.
Tuesday 9th February 1943
During the forenoon I corrected some C.B's and went ashore in the afternoon.
Wednesday 10th February 1943
I stayed on board and corrected C.B's
Thursday 11th February 1943
The boiler clean finished at 1200 hours today and the hands returned on
board at that time. We slipped at 1408 hours and proceeded to
rendezvous with an aircraft, which was towing a sleeve target. We had
on board some ratings that were to pass out as AA3's the ratings fired
Oerlikans at the sleeve target. The towing aircraft was a Defiant, we
then went to Largo Buoy and anchored there for the night as duty “A”.
The weather during the night was bad, strong wind and rain being
Friday 12th February 1943
We weighed at 1030 hours and mustered the convoy. This consisted of 7
ships, the Commodore being the “Balmaha”. We were the only escort, as
of from now on single escort convoys were to be in force. There was a
very strong wind and heavy sea, several ships failing to sail
Saturday 13th February 1943
During the morning we met the Tyne contingent with “Sleipner”. This
consisted of 23 ships. The wind and sea dropped slightly during the day
but we remained at cruising watches throughout the night. Our
additional escort was “Eglington”
Sunday 14th February 1943
All was quiet throughout the night, but we became a little behind
scheduled time, shackling onto 5 buoy at 1615 hours. The Russians
announced the capture of Rostov today.
Monday 15th February 1943
We slipped at 0912 hours and proceeded at 12 knots through the gate and
met our convoy. The Commodore was the “Forth” and they were 19 other
ships in company. The weather was very fine, but they was a strong
westerly wind blowing. There was a fairly strong sea running and owing
to this fact we were behind schedule, making an average speed of about
3 knots. At dusk we received warnings of enemy aircraft in the vicinity
and went to day defence stations until 2100 hours after which we
reverted to cruising stations.
Tuesday 16th February 1943
Our additional escorts were for the night were “Mallard”,
“Greenfly”,”Quorn” and “Southerness”. The rescue tug “Champion” was
also with us. We were five hours behind schedule time at 4 buoy.
Wednesday 17th February 1943
We continued to loose time during the night but by midday the wind and
sea had subsided and we made our ETA at May Island for 2130 hours.
During the afternoon we continued at 8 knots with only two ships. All
our ships, except the Commodore's, having left at the Tyne. We received
one Greek joiner from there. We took the convoy to Largo buoy and
thence at 20 knots on our own.
Thursday 18th February 1943
We passed under the bridge during the early part of the middle watch
and anchored at E2 berth. From there we proceeded to the oiler for fuel.
Friday 19th February 1943
We left Rosyth today at 0830 hours and proceeded to Methil for our
convoy, the Commodore being the “Saluva” . The weather was a complete
contrast to our previous trip, blue sky and a smooth sea was
Saturday 20th February 1943
The night was calm and moonlit, we received 20 Tyne joiners during the
morning, these were escorted by “Sleipner”. The weather throughout the
day continued to be fine and E-boat activity during the night was
expected. We went to defence stations at 1900 hours, our additional
escorts for the night were “Hambledon” “Walpole” “Montrose” “Mallard”
and “St Mellows”. In spite of the perfect conditions no E-boats were
operating in the vicinity.
Sunday 21st February 1943
When I came onto the bridge for the morning watch I found to my
surprise that we were enclosed, fog had descended and we were anchored
at 0347 hours, however this only lasted for about 4 hours and then it
lifted enough for us to proceed. We weighed at 0724 hours and by
feeling our way by RDF and asdic we arrived at the gate at 1610 hours.
Sunday's convoy had been cancelled and “Vanity” was still in Sheerness.
We shackled with one bridle to the same buoy as her and secured
Monday 22nd February 1943
“Vanity” and “Westminster” were to take FN51 which was the combination
of Sunday's and Monday's convoy's. The visibility was about 3 cables,
owing to fog, we slipped at 0920 hours, leaving “Vanity” at the buoy.
When we arrived at “L” buoy we had a signal saying that the Commodore
had not weighed, so we anchored in twelve fathoms. At 1200 hours we
were informed that the Commodore had weighed. We weighed at 1230 hours.
The convoy consisted of 47 ships, the Commodore being the “Dagenham”.
The fog did not lift completely but visibility was about 1 mile. Our
additional escorts for E-boat alley were “Montrose” “Whitshead”
“Widgeon” and Bassett”.
Tuesday 23rd February 1943
I had the middle watch and visibility appeared to be getting better
until about 0330 hours it closed in rapidly and we had to anchor again
at 0350 hours. Our position was at 8A buoy. By 1125 hours the fog had
lifted enough for us to proceed.
Wednesday 24th February 1943
The weather today was quite good with good visibility. From the Tyne we
proceeded with 9 ships and reached Largo buoy at 2238 hours. From there
we proceeded at 15 knots and anchored at E2 berth east of the bridge.
Thursday 25th February 1943
We weighed at 0800 hours approx and proceeded to N berth.
Friday 26th February 1943
We remained at Rosyth all day today and I played football during the afternoon.
Saturday 27th February 1943
I stayed on board during the forenoon and went ashore to Edinburgh in the afternoon.
Sunday 28th February 1943
Captain “D” came on board during the forenoon. At 1200 hours we slipped
and proceeded out into the stream where a “Puffer” awaited us to supply
Oerlikan ammunition, we sailed for Largo buoy to collect the convoy.
This consisted of 7 ships, the Commodore being “Horsa”. We had two
trawlers, the “Brabant” and the “Lady Estello” as additional escorts.
The visibility was good and the weather was fine with a smooth sea.
Monday 1st March 1943
The weather continued fine and it was thought that E-boat activity
might be experienced. We went to night defence stations at 2000 hours.
Apart from HE heard near position Z54. The night passed quietly. Our
additional escort were “Eglington” “Whitshead” “Mallard” and
Tuesday 2nd March 1943
We had reports of some mines being dropped in the vicinity of 3 buoy,
but we heard later that they had been exploded. We arrived at Sheerness
during the afternoon and shackled onto buoy at 1505 hours.
Wednesday 3rd March 1943
We slipped at 0855 hours and joined our convoy at the gate. There were
19 ships, the Commodore being “Fort Longueuil” this vessel was a ship
of 7128 tonnes and on her maiden voyage from Montreal. She was a large
ship for this coast. There was a strong wind blowing and a moderate
swell. We went to day defence stations at 1900 hours but reverted to
cruising stations at 2100 hours. Our additional escorts for the night
were “Windsor” and “Turquoise”
Thursday 4th march 1943
The wind dropped during the day but the swell continued. We had two
large Liberty ships join at Tyne, they were the “Empire Moon” and
Friday 5th March 1943
We arrived at Rosyth at about 0815 hours and I proceeded on boiler clean leave.
Wednesday 10th March 1943
The boiler clean ended today but I returned on board last night. We
stayed at Rosyth all day. The H.M.S Duke of York was to have gone into
the stream today but the wind was too strong.
Thursday 11th March 1943
We left the destroyer penns at 1120 hours and proceeded out into the
stream. On our way out to meet our convoy we carried out a shoot with
the 303 machine guns. The target was towed by a Defiant. The idea of
this shoot was to test the new tracer bullets. As the shoot was going
on the shore batteries from Inchkeith were firing at a towed surface
target some of their salvos were remarkably close to the target. We met
our convoy during the afternoon this consisted of 7 ships, the
Commodore being “Rother”. There was also an assistant Commodore in the
same ship. Ours was a fast convoy, we also had an RDF exercise with the
co-operation of a “Chessapeak” dive bomber.
Friday 12th March 1943
I had the middle watch and during the early part of it we observed an
air raid in progress in the vicinity of Blyth. The weather during the
day was clear, very warm. The sea remained smooth. Our additional
escorts for E-boat alley were “Southdown” “Windsor” “Catistock”
“Bassett” “Widgeon” and the tug “Champion”. In spite of the good
weather conditions the night passed quietly.
Saturday 13th March 1943
The original route through E-boat alley has been cancelled and we came
through by a new route further in shore. The weather remained fine and
we shackled to 5buoy at 1226 hours. During the afternoon we observed
“Fortress Bombers” at a great height going out on a raid.
Sunday 14th March 1943
We were to proceed at 0815 hours but this was delayed owing to the
channel not being swept. During the night mines were dropped but we
were able to proceed at 115 hours. There was a diversion to our usual
course, we went straight from buoy 52 to buoy3, the channel being
marked by dan-buoys. Our additional escorts for the night were
“Catistock” “Southdown” “Vega” “Sheldrake” “Turquoise” and the tug
“Superman” we also had two M.LS. The night passed uneventfully the
weather being very fine. “Keppel” was with us up to 4 buoy. Our convoy
through E-boat alley consisted of 28 ships, the Commodore being the
“Sea Grange”, it was a fast convoy.
Monday 15th March 1943
The weather during the early part of the forenoon watch was fine but
fog descended at about 1000 hours. We continued for some time, but had
to anchor at 1212 hours. By 1330 hours fog had cleared enough for us to
Tuesday 16th March 1943
I had middle watch and the night was moonlit and clear. The “Sea
Grange” left at the Tyne and the “Forth” was the Commodore. The early
part of the forenoon was clear but fog descended very suddenly. However
we managed to continue at slow speed, by use of RDF and asdic. We
eventually secured at “Q” berth at 1310 hours.
Wednesday 17th March 1943
We remained at Rosyth throughout the day.
Thursday 18th March 1943
We stayed in “Q” berth all day “Viceroy” returned from refitting.
Friday 19th March 1943
At 1425 hours we left our berth and proceeded into the stream. We were
sailing for duty “A”, but on our way we were to carry out firing
practices. We were to do an HA shoot 7 miles east of May Island. There
was also to have been a dummy torpedo dive bombing attacks but owing to
bad weather conditions these aircraft failed to appear. However we
reached our position and established W/T contact with the aircraft. The
target was towed by a “Skua” and the aircraft made 10 runs over the
ship. The first two runs were passing and the 4 inch opened fire. The
next four runs were crossing in which the Oerlikans and 4 inch opened
fire, after this there were two passing runs, the 4 inch firing in load
control and the Oerlikans joining in, the last two runs were Oerlikan
runs. We then turned for Largo buoy and anchored at 1916 hours. There
was a heavy swell running all day.
Saturday 20th March 1943
At 0715 hours we met our convoy, which consisted of 6 ships, the 7th
ship the “Empire Jack” could not keep down to the speed of the convoy
so she proceeded ahead. We were a slow convoy. During the forenoon we
carried out an RDF exercise with a “Skua”. There was no naval Commodore
present so the master of the S.S. “Lorient” was acting Commodore. At
Tyne we met 22 ships with a naval Commodore he was in the “Flammina”.
All day a heavy swell continued.
Sunday 21st March 1943
The weather today was fine but the heavy swell continued, easing
somewhat at nightfall. Our additional escorts for the night were
“Blencathra” “Holderness” “Shearwater” “Vega” and “Superman”. Nothing
was experienced through the night although the weather conditions were
perfect for an air attack.
Monday 22nd March 1943
We ran into fog at about 0700 hours and anchored just south of 3 buoy
at 0730 hours. The fog continued thick until 1300 hours when we
weighed. We managed to proceed as far as B7 but by then the visibility
had closed in again at 1530 hours.
Tuesday 23rd March 1943
We remained at anchor all night. During the forenoon we transferred
Commander Lumman RNR who had been taking a trip with us, to the
“Flammina”. We weighed again at 1020 hours but had to anchor once more
at 1049 hours. We learned that when we eventually got under way we were
to take “Winchesters” FN75. By 1400 hours the fog showed good signs of
clearing and “Winchester” closed us. After speaking on the hailer she
proceeded to Rosyth at 17 knots. We weighed at 1420 hours and joined
the convoy. The Commodore was in the “Halo” they were 27 other ships.
This was a medium convoy, but at first we proceeded at 5 knots to allow
rear ships to close up. Our additional escorts for E-boat alley were
“Worcester” “Eglington” “Querm” “Guillimot” “Lady Philomena” and a
rescue tug. During the first watch 2 star shells were fired at a
suspicious echo, but nothing materialised.
Wednesday 24th March 1943
The “headache” set picked up “Unintelligible German” and we went to
action stations. A minute later this was reported as convoy R/T and we
fell out again. The rest of the night passed uneventfully.
Thursday 25th March 1943
The Commodore left the Tyne, and we proceeded with 8 ships. There was a
general air raid alarm along the east coast, and we ran into an air
raid off the Tyne. Only a few AA shells were seen to burst near us. The
ship was very light and rolled considerably during the day. We arrived
at Largo buoy at about 1530 hours and were alongside at Rosyth by 1645
Friday 26th March 1943
We stayed in the penns during the forenoon and afternoon but at 1800
hours we sailed for duty “A” again. On the way out prepared to do a LA
shoot but this was unable to be arranged.
Saturday 27th March 1943
We weighed and met our convoy at 0730 hours. This consisted of 6 ships
the Commodore being the “Baron Stranrear”. This was a slow convoy, but
all ships had 7 ½ knots so we increased speed to meet the Tyne joiners
by daylight. We arrived at 20C at 1030 hours and there were 32 ships
for us with the Dutch escort “Flores”. The night passed quietly.
Sunday 28th March 1943
During the forenoon we sighted a mine, we fired on this with 303 rifles
and then with the Lewis. These failed to sink it so we opened fire with
the Oerlikans, these eventually sank it. The mine was believed to have
been British. Our additional escorts for the night were “Whitshead”
“Quorn” “Cottismore” “Puffin” and “Turquoise”. The M.L's that usually
accompany us were cancelled. Our convoy was 2 hours ahead of schedule.
Monday 29th March 1943
At 0213 hours we went to action stations. E- boats had been reported in
the region of 57 buoy and “Windsor” engaged them. Our position was 1
mile north of 4A buoy. Other enemy reports came in from Trimsingham and
various coastal stations. MGB's engaged the enemy but none came near
us. At about 0200 hours the Commodore's ship hit 4A buoy and the
mooring wire became entangled with her propeller. The “Turquoise” was
detailed off to stand by her. The Vice Commodore took over Commodore.
We arrived at Sheerness and shackled on to 5 buoy at about 1300 hours.
We heard that 2 E-boats were destroyed and 1 damaged.
Tuesday 30th March 1943
We slipped at 0815 hours and proceeded to meet our convoy at the gate.
The Commodore was in the “Zelo” with 19 other ships. “Quorn” and
“Shearwater” joined us during the afternoon. We received a gale warning
for all coasts. As night approached this gale developed and by 2000
hours a strong westerly wind was blowing. At 2000 hours we were 2 hours
ahead of schedule. We went to day defence stations at 2000 hours but
reverted to cruising stations at 2100 hours. The wind increased during
Wednesday 31st March 1943
During the forenoon the wind steadily decreased but the convoy had by
then become scattered. We eventually managed to round up except for the
“Oxford” which had to put into Humber. We lost our 2 hour advantage.
Thursday 1st April 1943
The Commodore left at Tyne and the “Southport” took over as acting
Commodore. She was unable to keep the speed so we took over as guide.
The wind increased again during the morning. We eventually arrived at
Rosyth at 1945 hours and secured at “O” berth. Half the ship's company
went on boiler cleaning leave. Between 1st April 1943 & 8th April
1943 we remained alongside “O” berth. During this time our RDF was
taken out and we were fitted with type 291 RDF. On Tuesday April 6th we
learned that after taking our next FS convoy we were to relieve “Vega”
who had been sent to the 21st DF based at Sheerness. “Winchester”
sailed on Tuesday as “Verdun's” relief.
Thursday 8th April 1943
We proceeded into the stream at 0830 hours and went to a point off
Inchmickery where we anchored. We then calibrated the Type 285 RDF (Radar).
After this we went to the DG range off Burntisland. We made 8 runs
between a buoyed channel. Under this channel there were laid cables,
these picked up the electric discharge from our various DG coils and
registered it above. We then proceeded to meet our convoy. This
consisted of 4 ships the Commodore being a 4000 tonne Dutch ship, the
“Amsterge” there was also a large Panamanian vessel in our convoy, she
was equipped with at least 6 Oerlikons, a twelve pounder and a 4 inch
as well as machine guns. This was a fast convoy, there was a
considerable swell running. Off St Abbs Head we carried out an exercise
“Woodcock” with 3 Spitfires, two acting as escorts and one as an enemy
is an island in the Firth of Forth between the Forth Bridge and the
open sea and Burntisland a small town in Fife on the north shore of the
Firth which was a centre for shipbuilding but is now best known as a
holiday resort. RDF (Radio Direction Finder) was the term used to
describe Radar when first adopted by the Navy. They
were checking the ships magnetic signature with Degaussing (DG)
on to see how safe they would be against magnetic mines. The trials
team may well have been adjusting the current going through the various
DG coils between runs to optimise the result.
St Abbs Head is north of Berwick and Westminster would have passed it while escorting convoys. Exercise Woodcock appears to have been a Fighter Direction Exercise. HMS Westminster
was fitted with a crude early form of fighter control system the
effectiveness of which was further reduced by the problem of
communicating with the Polish pilots flying the Spitfires.
Friday 9th April 1943
The swell eased during the morning and we continued with 18 ship's,
after having met the Tyne contingent escorted by the “Florer”. Our
additional escorts for the night were “Hambledon” “Pytchley”
“Catitistock” “Shelldrake” and the tug “Seaman”.
Saturday 10th April 1943
The night passed quietly, we received no E-boat reports. During the
night we heard many of our bombers going out over Germany. We arrived
at Sheerness about 1530 hours and shackled to 4 buoy. Also in the
harbour was the cruiser “Suffolk” which had come down from London where
she had been refitting. We received the 21st DF orders.
Sunday 11th April 1943
We slipped at 0830 hours and proceeded to the gate to meet the FN
convoy which we were to hand over to “Verdun” at 52 buoy. The Commodore
was in the “San Roberto” a tanker. We met “Verdun” at 1349 hours and
after talking to her over the loud hailer we proceeded at 20 knots and
anchored off the Rough. At 1900 hours we weighed and proceeded to
patrol 4. This was between 56 & 57 buoys. We steamed on a zig zag
of 20 degrees each side of the course at a speed of 15 knots. Nothing
of note occurred during the night.
Monday 12th April 1943
We left patrol area at 0505 hours and proceeded at 20 knots to Harwich.
When we arrived we berthed alongside the fleet oiler “Mytilus”,
afterwards going to number 1 buoy. We secured with one bridle and one
slip wire. We slipped at 1900 hours and again proceeded for patrol 4.
Nothing of note occurred during the night.
Tuesday 13th April 1943
We left the patrol area and proceeded to Sheerness, at 0800 hours we
ran into fog and had to anchor, after three hours we weighed and again
proceeded and arrived at Sheerness at 1510 hours. The “Suffolk” left
Wednesday 14th April 1943
We stayed at Sheerness during the forenoon and afternoon. “Vivacious”
moored up alongside of us. Today was the ship's 25th Birthday. We
slipped at 1900 hours and proceeded to patrol 6 between 3C buoy &
55A buoy. The first watch passed quietly.
An artist's impression of HMS Westminster attacking the two e-boats on the 15 April 1943
The slightly creased illustration was found in the pages of Derek Tolfree's Diary
Thursday 15th April 1943
Soon after mid-night we received E-boat reports in our vicinity.
Shortly after this high speed HE was heard fine on the starboard bow. We
then opened fire with star shell, “Widgeon” was on the patrol to the
south of us. Our star shell illuminated 2 E-boats and we increased to
full speed engaging the enemy with enemy with our after mounting to
starboard. We continued firing for about 10 minutes during which time 2
E-boats were believed to have been destroyed and 2 more damaged. We
then had to break off the engagement as we were running into our Z
patrols. We returned to our patrol and received a signal instructing us
not to proceed further south than buoy 4, mines having been laid. One
vessel was sunk near buoy 3. We were told to proceed to Yarmouth and
anchor on completion of patrol. We went to action stations again at
about 0515 hours, after ¾ of an hour we fell out again, nothing had
materialised. On completion of patrol we proceeded to Yarmouth roads
and anchored. At 1736 hours we weighed and proceeded to Harwich,
we first went alongside “Mytilus” for oil and then we went to our
Twenty one members of the ship's Company were from Bristol and on Tuesday 18 May the Western Daily Press And Bristol Mirror reported on this dramatic encounter near Sheerness when Westminster sunk two E-boats.
Men of Bristol Destroyer's Feat On Her Birthday East Coast Champion E Boat Chaser
Champion E-Boat chaser of the East
Coast is the title claimed by the destroyer H.M.S Westminster, most of
whose gun crews are Bristol R.N.V.R ratings. “Drill, nothing but drill
day after day.” That is the secret of the success of this 25 year
old destroyer which recently sank her fifth E-boat. She has also
damaged about half a dozen other's, some of which may not have reached
“Every day for months we've
drilled for E-boat actions, and I'm convinced it is the thing that wins
every time” said her commanding officer Lieut – Comdr. H G Bowerman,
DSC, RN. Her latest action took place on her 25th birthday, April 14th,
when she reported two E-boats sunk and several others damaged.
Story of Engagement The full story of the engagement
which lasted only 20 minutes, is now told by the destroyers commanding
officer for the first time. Five E-boats were sighted ahead of the
destroyer, steaming fast across her bow. Although it was dark,
visibility was good, and within three minutes of opening fire the
Westminster had hit three E-boats. “ We closed at full speed to the
range I wanted to engage them at” said Lieut -Comdr Bowerman, “With our
third salvo we hit one and I saw her catch fire. She disappeared into
the smoke and we heard a sharp explosion.”
“We hit the next E-boat with our fifth salvo and she caught fire,
slowly the flames spread along the decks and she blew up. The next
E-boat we hit with our seventh salvo, and she turned away.”
Later this E-boat was seen
to be sinking. The remaining two disappeared into the darkness, “but
one of them was down by the stern and not looking as an ordinary E-boat
should” added Lieut Comdr Bowerman. Most of the gun crews in the
Westminster are R.N.V.R ratings who come from Bristol. They were
trained as a unit at the beginning of the war, and 21 of them are still
serving together in the destroyer. Their senior petty officer is Petty
Officer A Thompson, of Shirehampton, who was an electrical worker
before the war. Twenty Four year old Petty Officer Albert Oates comes
from Filton, and Able-Seaman Victor Jones from Redfield.
Friday 16th April 1943
We ammunitioned ship and then slipped at 0959 hours and proceeded to
Southend at 24 knots, anchoring off the Pier at 1100 hours. We were to
take the CW convoy. We weighed at 1504 hours and proceeded to the gate
to muster the convoy. The Commodore had weighed at 1430 hours, there
were 31 ship's, 17 from Southend and 16 Buttoners from the FS convoy.
The Commodore was in the balloon vessel “Tareadore”. We had 6 M.L's and
3 more balloon vessel's and also 4 trawler's. The sea was dead calm
with not a ripple on the surface. We were in defence stations
throughout the night. As we passed through the straight the weather was
clear but no enemy activity was experienced. There were however, many
aircraft in the vicinity.
Saturday 17th April 1943
We arrived in Dartmouth harbour passing through the gate at 1410 hours.
There was no time to spare, however a CE convoy had already weighed, we
turned and passed through the gate again taking station at the head of
the convoy. The Commodore was in the balloon vessel “Bangore” with 14
other ship's. The weather was very warm and the sea unruffled. Nothing
of note occurred during the night.
Sunday 18th April 1943
We returned to Sheerness today and shackled onto 2 buoy at 1329 hours,
“Vivacious” was alongside us. The ship's company were given all night
Monday 19th April 1943
We remained at Sheerness all day, “Vivacious” left yesterday and
“Campbell” secured alongside us today. During the forenoon watch we
sent a seaman and field training class ashore.
Tuesday 20th April 1943
We remained at Sheerness during the forenoon, sending a seamanship
training class ashore. At 1712 hours we slipped and proceeded as
additional escort to FN100, we had difficulty in slipping as our wire
became entangled with “Campbell's” bridle. However this was overcome by
slipping the slip wire from inboard. Unfortunately the slip wire had to
be left with “Campbell”. We met the convoy at 2230 hours just north of
549 buoy and took up position “B”. At 2300 hours we moved to “M”. The
night passed quietly and we left the convoy at daybreak, and proceeded
to Spurn Point were we anchored at 0835 hours on the 21st.
Wednesday 21st April 1943
We stayed at anchor until 1802 hours when we weighed and proceeded to
our patrol area. MGB patrols were cancelled as there was a strong wind
and a slight sea. The night passed uneventfully.
Thursday 22nd April 1943
We left our patrol area at 0400 hours and proceeded to Southend,
anchoring off the pier at 1008 hours, we were to receive a visit from
the mayor and Town clerk of Westminster. They arrived on board at about
1230 hours and after staying in the wardroom for some time, dined with
the Captain, they disembarked about 1530 hours. At 1604 hours we
weighed and proceeded to Sheerness and secured alongside “Vivacious” at
2 buoy. An hour later we received a signal instructing us to proceed to
number 1 buoy in view of weather conditions. At 1842 hours we secured
to 1 buoy, using a spring as a ship's wire. We used the spring to slip
from the previous buoy. All night leave was given again.
Friday 23rd April 1943
We stayed at the buoy all day. During the forenoon I went away with the
church party. Our slip wire was returned during the day.
Saturday 24th April 1943
At 1832 hours we slipped and proceeded to patrol 7, on the way out we
carried out a 4 inch HA shoot followed by close range. The aircraft
made 2 dummy and 2 firing runs. As we progressed the wind and sea
increased considerably. The wind became so high that on reaching the
beginning of our patrol area, 3 buoy, we turned and proceeded to the
roughs where we anchored at 0007 hours.
Sunday 25th April 1943
We weighed at 0630 hours and proceeded to Harwich, first going to
“Mytilus” and then to number 2 buoy, alongside “Vivacious” being Easter
Sunday I went ashore with the church party. Patrols were cancelled
tonight and we were given all night leave.
Monday 26th April 1943
We were to have sailed fro patrol tonight but here were cancelled owing
to high wind and sea. During the forenoon we went to General Quarters
and exercised damage control, shoring up the forrard mess decks and
wardroom. We remained in Harwich for the rest of the day as again
patrols were cancelled.
Tuesday 27th April 1943
We slipped at 0830 hours and proceeded to meet the FN convoy to whom we
were to be close escort. We met them in the vicinity of B4 and took up
station on the port quarter. “Puffin” “Bassett” and “Attentif” were
also with the convoy. “Woolsey” was the senior escort.
Wednesday 28th April 1943
We left the convoy at about 1230 hours at 62D buoy and proceeded to
Immingham where we secured to a wooden jetty alongside “Vivacious”. We
left the 21st Destroyer Force.
Thursday 29th April 1943
We left Immingham at 0700 hours and proceeded to meet the FS convoy. We
met near H3 “Vivien” being senior escort. We then took over from
“Vivien” who returned independently to Rosyth. The Commodore of the
convoy was in the “Glenton”, there being 14 other ship's including a
large Dutchman. The weather was very fair with a slight SE wind. Our
additional escorts were “Garth” “Eglington” “Shelldrake” “Kingston
Olivine” and “Champion”. The night passed quietly.
Friday 30th April 1943
The convoy was well ahead of programme and we arrived at Sheerness
about 3 hours early, shackling up to 5 buoy early in the afternoon.
Saturday 1st May 1943
we slipped at 0730 hours and proceeded to meet our very large convoy
consisting of 47 ship's, there were three large American Liberty ships
present, the Commodore being on one of them the “Eleezar Wheelock” each
were armed with 6 Oerlikons. A 4 inch and a smaller HA gun in the bows.
“Campbell” was close escort. Our additional escorts were “Hambledon”
“Southdown” “Puffin” “Sapphire” and “Attentif”. The sea and wind
steadily increased all day and by nightfall there was a strong NE wind
and a fair sea. We remained in cruising stations, patrols were
Sunday 2nd May 1943
By the beginning of the forenoon the convoy was 3 hours late but the
sea and wind steadily decreased and we began to pick up time again.
Monday 3rd May 1943
We continued to gain time throughout the day in spite of an increased
wind and we eventually arrived back at Rosyth at about 1845 hours. The
ships company went on boiler cleaning leave.
Saturday 8th May 1943
I returned on board today and we remained at Rosyth.
Sunday 9th May 1943
We slipped at 0630 hours and proceeded to Leith. There was a very high
wind but no rain. As we neared Leith two tugs, one paddle and one
screw, came to assist us, we also embarked a pilot. We proceeded into
the outer harbour but he wind was so strong that we had to leave again.
The tugs attempted to turn us around but by doing son presented our
broadside into the wind. We eventually managed to turn, however after
parting 3 wires. We went to Leith to de-perm, we returned to Rosyth and
remained there the rest of the day as emergency destroyer.
Monday 10th May 1943
We left Rosyth at 0830 hours and proceeded to Methil where we were to
meet our convoy. This was a medium convoy the Commodore being in the
“Harlow” with 6 other ship's, the Vice Commodore being “Valorous” who
was going down to Pompy in convoy to have new boiler's fitted. There
was a very strong heavy swell and a strong wind. During the dog watches
we were to have carried out an exercise “Driver” but this was
Tuesday 11th May 1943
We met the Tyne contingent escorted by “Sleipner” during the morning.
The wind and swell decreased steadily throughout the day and by the
afternoon the weather was calm and warm. Our additional escorts were
“Pytchley” “Southdown” “Mallard” “Lady Philomena” “Sagina”
“Seaman” and “Attentif”. No E-boat reports were received but during the
day enemy bombers had shot up two trawlers off Lowestoft, sinking
one. At about 2355 hours there was an explosion in the distance, which
was thought to have been a Dornier, which crashed into the sea.
Wednesday 12th May 1943
During the morning watch a mine exploded near the ship but no damage
was done. It was thought to have been set off by “Campbell” who passed
close to it at 20 knots. We arrived at Sheerness at about 1630 hours,
there was a new type of larger frigate in the harbour, her name was
Thursday 13th May 1943
We slipped at 0830 hours and proceeded to the gate to meet the convoy.
The Commodore was in the Norwegian ship “Cresco” with 33 other vessels.
The weather was very warm and there was a southerly wind, which helped
to give us a good start. We became ahead of programme. For E-boat alley
we were provided with the additional escorts of “Pytchley” “Campbell”
“Walpole” “Kittywake” “Greenfly” and “Champion”. There was no E-boat
activity but plenty of air traffic. Our bombers were going out and a
few German planes came this side, one believed to have been a Dornier
217 flew over the ship. However were left unmolested.
Friday 14th May 1943
The weather was not quite so good today but we continued to make good
time, having some large vessels including a Russian join us at the Tyne.
Saturday 15th May 1943
During the morning watch the Commodore was only doing 6 knots but he
later increased to 8 knots. We arrived at Rosyth at noon and secured
alongside P west.
Sunday 16th May 1943
We remained at Rosyth during the forenoon and the afternoon but sailed for duty “A” at 2300 hours.
Monday 17th May 1943
We weighed at 1145 hours and proceeded to muster the convoy. There were
16 ship's present in all, except two being large ocean going vessel's.
One had a deck cargo of “Ventura Bombers” the Commodore was in the
“Calgary” a 10,000 tonner. The weather was fine but the visibility was
not so good. We tried to arrange an exercise “Driver” Turnbourne but
this was not successful.
Tuesday 18th May 1943
We left many of our larger vessel's at Tyne and proceeded with vessel's
of the more usual type. The weather today has been very warm and they
has been a smooth sea with no wind. For E-boat alley we were provided
with “Hambledon” “Holdeness” “Windsor” “Mallard” and “Lady Philomena”.
Wednesday 19th May 1943
It became much colder during the night and the wind increased. We
proceeded up the estuary with 11 ship's. After going to Sheerness to
fuel and store we proceeded to Southend and anchored off the pier.
Thursday 20th May 1943
We weighed at 0740 hours and proceeded with the convoy to the gate.
After receiving joiners from Harwich we had a total of 50 ship's. The
Commodore was in the “S.S. Marsden”. The convoy made very good time and
became 2 ½ hours ahead of programme by the middle watch. The weather
during the day was fine with a flat calm sea. We had “Campbell”
“Southdown” and “Attentif” as additional escorts.
Friday 21st May 1943
The weather deteriorated during the day and we ran into fog at 2155
hours and anchored. During the first watch the new Commodore ship “War
Nizan” weighed and very nearly rammed us, we had suggested weighing if
the fog cleared slightly, he mistook this for the signal to weigh.
Saturday 22nd May 1943
We weighed at 0354 hours and by using RDF and asdic we managed to bring
the convoy safely to Methil. After leaving the convoy we anchored in
the stream for oiling and then proceeded to P west.
Sunday 23rd May 1943
We remained at Rosyth until 2030 hours when we proceeded to Methil for duty “A” . Today the timber, M&N berth was landed.
Monday 24th May 1943
We weighed at 1140 hours and proceeded with our convoy of 18 ship's.
There were several ocean going vessel's, one American with Locomotives
on her deck. The Commodore was in the “Harlow”. We had an exercise
“Driver”at 2000 hours, the weather all day was very fine.
Tuesday 25th May 1943
We left most of our large vessel's by the Tyne and were joined by the
Tyne contingent escorted by “Monas Isle”. The visibility grew bad
during the afternoon and we anchored near 62D buoy at 1500 hours. We
weighed again at 2343 hours, we were joined by “Vivacious” “Hallard”
Wednesday 26th May 1943
During the morning on the early part of the forenoon the visibility was
good but the fog suddenly descended again and we anchored out near 8B
buoy. We weighed again at 0100 hours and proceeded, we had to anchor at
B6 buoy, though, so as not to pass through the gate in darkness.
Thursday 27th May 1943
We arrived at the gate at about 0630 hours and turned to watch our
convoy enter. After our convoy had entered the FN came out. The
Commodore was in the 7000 tonne Norwegian tanker “Frontenae” this was a
penal ship. There were 3 more large tankers in the convoy, the total
number of ship 47. The weather during the day was fine and we became 1
½ hours ahead of programme. Our additional escorts were “Walpole”
“Fernie” “Vivacious” “Shearwater” “Turquoise” and “Superman”. During
the night large numbers of friendly bombers were heard going out.
Friday 28th May 1943
The weather today was very fine and we proceeded uneventfully.
Saturday 29th May 1943
We arrived at Rosyth early in the forenoon and secured alongside
“Newport” in “O” berth. Half of the ship's company proceeded on boiler
Sunday 30th May 1943
We remained at “O” berth throughout the day.
Monday 31st May 1943
We left “O” berth at about 0945 hours and attended by two tugs we
entered the floating dry dock stern first. Number 3 fuel tank had been
leaking and we had to go into dry dock to repair it. We pumped the oil
out whilst we were at sea.
Tuesday 1st June 1943
We stayed in the floating dock and all the old rivets were drilled out
and new ones put in, the ship's bottom was scrapped and painted.
Wednesday 2nd June 1943
We stayed in the floating dry dock during the day.
Thursday 3rd June 1943
The floating dock was flooded at 1315 hours and we undocked at 1415
hours and with two tugs in attendance proceeded to “Y” berth. At 2100
hours we slipped and proceeded to duty “A” anchoring in 3 berth.
Friday 4th June 1943
We weighed at 0630 hours and proceeded for Anti- submarine exercise
with the Dutch submarine O14. We carried out 3 attacks but the asdic
conditions were not good. Our convoy sailed at 1300 hours and it
consisted of 30 merchant ships, mostly large ocean going vessel's. The
Commodore was in the “Fort Bourbon” and there was also present H.M.S
“Tasajira” , this vessel is a large combined operations landing ship.
Saturday 5th June 1943
During the day rain was experienced at intervals but the visibility
remained good and we made good time. For E-boat alley we were given the
additional escorts of “Whitshed” “Cottismore” “Turquoise” and
“Superman”. The night passed uneventfully.
Sunday 6th June 1943
We arrived at Sheerness early in the afternoon and secured to 5 buoy.
Monday 7th June 1943
We were due to slip this morning at 0730 hours, but owing to the poor
visibility this was delayed for about 2 hours. When we slipped we
proceeded to the Thames gate to meet our convoy. There were 16 small
merchant ship's present, the Commodore being in the “Halo”. We made
good speed and started to pick up on our lost time. We had “Cattistock”
“Worcester” “Montrose” “Widgeon” “Turquoise” and “Sabine” as additional
escorts. Rain was experienced during the night.
Tuesday 8th June 1943
We had no Tyne joiners and the majority of our convoy left at Tyne. We
took over the Commodore and proceeded with 4 other ship's.
Wednesday 9th June 1943
We dropped off the Commodore at Methil and proceeded to “O” berth
Rusty. Between Wednesday 9th & Sunday 13th we remained at “O” berth
to have our condensers put right. When this job was done we found that
the armature of the starboard dynamo was faulty and it had to be
stripped. We were to have sailed on Sunday forenoon, but by then we
were not ready. “Garth” took our convoy and we sailed at 2300 hours and
took over them, steaming at 16 knots.
Monday 14th June 1943
We met convoy at about 0830 hours near 19D buoy. There were 8 ship's
present with “Garth” as escort. We took over L.O escort on joining. The
Commodore was in the “Forth”. For E-boat alley we had “Campbell”
“Garth” having left for a patrol. “Cottismore” “Puffin”
“Greenfly” and “St Mellons”. No E-boat activity was experienced but
there was a great deal of air traffic. The weather has been showery and
thunder has been experienced. Three vessels had their balloons struck
Tuesday 15th June 1943
We arrived at Southend at about 1400 hours and anchored off the pier.
Wednesday 16th June 1943
We weighed at 0735 hours and proceeded with the convoy of 16 ships. The
Commodore was in the “Marsden”, we made good speed and became well
ahead of programme. We remained in cruising watch throughout the night.
Our additional escorts were “Campbell” “Windsor” “Mallard” “Turquoise”
and “Seaman” . The night passed quietly except for a few of our own
Thursday 17th June 1943
The weather today was very fine and we continued at a good speed. After
Tyne we had only 3 ship's with us and proceeded at 8 knots.
Friday 18th June 1943
We landed the Commodore at Methil, he had come aboard after his ship
put into Tyne, and proceeded to Rosyth, securing at “O” berth at 0715
Saturday 19th June 1943
Today we were emergency destroyer and consequently only canteen leave could be given.
Sunday 20th June 1943
At 1300 hours we slipped and proceeded to the “puffer” for ammunition
after which we left for Methil to collect convoy. There were only 8
vessels present in this fast convoy. The Commodore being in the
Monday 21st June 1943
We received only 4 Tyne joiners and 2 vessels left for the night. We
had “Fernie” “Walpole” “Kingston Olivine” “Guillemot” and “Seaman” as
additional escorts. No hostile activity was reported but large
formations of our bombers were heard crossing the coast.
Tuesday 22nd June 1943
We reached B2 buoy at 1330 hours and proceeded to Sheerness for fuel
after which we went to Southend and anchored off the pier. While we
were in Southend the cruiser “Dauntless” entered.
Wednesday 23rd June 1943
We weighed at 0730 hours and proceeded with 19 ships, the Commodore
being in the “Corchester” a ship which looked as if she had just
finished a refit. The weather was very fine and hot. We had “Windsor”
“Fernie” “Lady Philomena” “Turquoise” and “Shearwater” as additional
escorts. There were a few aircraft about during the night, one circled
the convoy but nothing happened.
Thursday 24th June 1943
We continued in fine weather during today and made an ETA 20C for 1930 hours.
Friday 25th June 1943
We arrived at Rosyth early in the forenoon and half the ship's company proceeded on boiler cleaning leave.
Between Friday 25th & Thursday 1st July we remained at “Q” berth.
During the time we were in I went away with the whaler twice. The ships
cricket team played “Wolfhound” we lost. I also saw an RAF film on the
attack on the Phillips radio works.
Thursday 1st July 1943
We left Rosyth at 1330 hours and proceeded to Methil. We had on board
some Wrens who took passage as far as Methil. We were also giving
passage south to the port RDF Officer, the port Anti-submarine Officer
and a Squadron Leader. We met our convoy, which consisted of 11
merchant ships, the Commodore being in the “Empire Resistance”, there
were some large ocean going vessels in the convoy. Off May Island
“Hompden” aircraft carried out torpedo bombing runs against us. There
was a strong swell running and we rolled considerably.
Friday 2nd July 1943
Most of our large ships left at the Tyne and we continued with a convoy
of coasters. The swell continued all day but eased slightly at night,
for E-boat alley we had “Vivacious” “Bassett” “Kingston Olivine” and a
Saturday 3rd July 1943
We arrived at Sheerness in good time and after oiling we proceeded to Southend and anchored of f the pier.
Sunday 4th July 1943
We weighed at 0815 hours and proceeded through the gate, meeting the
convoy outside. There were 25 ships with some large ocean going
vessel's. Three of these were American. “Southdown” was close escort
and we also had “Vivacious” “Bassett” “Shelldrake” “Kingston Olivine”
and a tug as additional escorts. The night passed very quietly.
Monday 5th July 1943
We continued to make good progress today and made an ETA at 20C for 1730 hours. After Tyne we proceeded with 11 ships.
Tuesday 6th July 1943
We passed our identity to May Island about 0345 hours and then after
reaching Methil we proceeded independently reaching Rosyth at about
0730 hours and securing to P west. We remained at P west until 1230
hours on Friday. During this time we played cricket.
Friday 9th July 1943
We slipped at 1230 hours and proceeded to Leith for “wiping”. We went
alongside the dolphin and cables were passed under the ship at various
intervals along the keel. Electricity was then run through these, the
action of this was to neutralise the ships magnetism. After wiping we
went to the DG range at Burntished where the amount of correction
to be set on our DG coils was measured. After carrying out both these
operations we proceeded to 3 berth at Methil and anchored as duty “A”.
whilst we were wiping “Ramillies “ entered Rosyth.
Saturday 10th July 1943
We weighed at 0845 hours and proceeded with 6 ships. We had a trawler
“Professor” as rear escort until we reached Lowestoft. At Tyne we were
joined by the Tyne contingent escorted by “Monas Isle” this made
a total of 35 ships.
Sunday 11th July 1943
During the day there was a strong south westerly wind and a
considerable swell. The sea and swell increased at nightfall. Our
additional escorts were “Windsor” “Eglington” “Widgeon” “Seaman” and
Monday 12th July 1943
The weather today was grey and the sky overcast. The sea and swell
remained fairly high. As we were not very early we remained at
Sheerness, shackled onto 5 buoy at about 1800 hours. During the
forenoon we had the tide against us, which made our progress down the
estuary very slow. The convoy split into two halves we took the 8 knot
ship's and “Eglington” escorted the remainder.
Tuesday 13th July 1943
We slipped at 0730 hours and proceeded to the gate to muster our
convoy. The Commodore was in the “Empire Calbot” and there were 20
other ship's present. There were 3 ocean going vessel's with us. The
frigate “Fal” was also in company, she had been working up and was
proceeding to her station. H.M.S. “Fal” is fitted with the latest
Anti-submarine devices and has two reciprocating engines, which gave
her a speed of 18 ½ knots. The tide was with us during the forenoon and
there was also a strong southerly wind blowing which made good about 8
½ knots. There was a fairly high swell and sea and we rolled quiet
considerably. For the alley we had “Eglington” “Fernie” “Guillemot”
“Fal” and “Bassett”. During the night there were several red warnings
and our bombers were also heard going out.
Wednesday 14th July 1943
We continued making good progress during the day and became well ahead
of programme for a slow convoy. We received no joiners from Tyne.
Thursday 15th July 1943
We arrived at Methil early in the forenoon and from there proceeded to
“O” berth at Rosyth. In the basin was “Ramillies” “Berwick” was in the
stream, de-ammunitioning. The cruiser “Diomede” had returned again to
Between Friday 16th and Sunday 18th July we remained at Rosyth. On
Saturday we shifted from “O” berth to P west. We played “Verdun” at
Sunday 18th July 1943
During the forenoon we had upper deck divisions, afterwards church
parties landed. At 2100 hours we slipped and proceeded for duty “A”
anchoring at number 3 berth on arrival at Methil.
Monday 19th July 1943
We weighed at 1105 hours and proceeded to seeing compasses. Having
completed this we joined up with the slow convoy. There were 4 ship's
present one being to slow for us had to drop astern. The Commodore was
in the “Aronmore”
Tuesday 20th July 1943
We met the Tyne contingent at about 0630 hours. There were escorted by
“Monas Isle” and made a total of 15 ship's. There was a slight swell
running and the sky was overcast. During the afternoon the visibility
became poor. By 1642 hours fog had descended and we had to anchor. We
weighed again at 2053 hours and proceeded through the alley. We had
“Cotswold” “Windsor” “Guillemot” “Kingston Olivine” and “Lord Plender”
as additional escorts.
Wednesday 21st July 1943
Owing to fog we were late arriving at Sheerness. We passed the gate at
1844 hours and proceeded to 5 buoy where we remained all night.
Thursday 22nd July 1943
We slipped at 0745 hours and proceeded to the gate for our convoy.
There were 30 ship's present, the Commodore being in the “Kyloe”. The
weather was dull during the day with a strong north easterly wind. For
the alley we had “Cotswold” “Meynell” “Widgeon” “Turquoise” and
Friday 23rd July 1843
There was a heavy swell running all day. We lowered the whaler at 1600
hours to embark the Commodore, whose flag went in the Tyne.
Saturday 24th July 1943
We made an ETA Largo for 0601 hours and after proceeded to Rosyth and
secured at “Q” berth. The escort carrier “Chaser” was in the basin.
Sunday 25th July 1943
We remained at “Q” berth throughout the day, assuming emergency destroyer at 1800 hours.
Monday 26th July 1943
We slipped at 1130 hours and proceeded to Methil for our convoy. This
convoy was quite the largest I have ever seen on the East Coast. There
were 47 ship's, all except 5 being large ocean going vessel's. There
were 3 tankers and several large Liberty ship's, both British and
American. Many of these vessel's had deck cargo's of tanks, armoured
cars etc. The Commodore was in the S.S “Forth”. Anchored at Methil
roads was a M.A.C.
Aircraft Carriers (MAC) were constructed by adding a flight deck to a
hull designed for grain ships or oil tankers enabling it to fly off
anti-submarine aircraft in support of Allied convoys during the Battle
of the Atlantic.
Tuesday 27th July 1943
After receiving Tyne joiners we proceeded with 55 ship's. At Flamboro
we had “Shearwater” and “Campbell” join from the FN. “Cotswold”
and “Bassett” joined us for E-boat alley. During the night many
bomber's were heard going out.
Wednesday 28th July 1943
We arrived at Sheerness in the early afternoon and after taking in
stores and water, we proceeded to Southend and anchored off the pier.
On our passage down the estuary we passed floating dock NoXVII towed by
3 tugs north bound.
Thursday 29th July 1943
We weighed at 0715 hours and proceeded to the gate to muster the
convoy. There were 28 ship's, the Commodore being in the “Lanryck”. The
weather was fine and we proceeded uneventfully. For the night we had
“Worcester” “Eglington” “Montrose” “Shearwatter” and “Kingston Olivine”
as additional escorts.
Friday 30th July 1943
We continued to make good progress throughout the day. We took the Commodore on board at Tyne.
Saturday 31st July 1943
We arrived at Rosyth at 0845 hours and proceeded to the buoy to de ammunition, afterwards going into basin to de gun.
Between Sunday 1st August and 7th October 1943 we were refitting. The
first week was spent at Rosyth de gunning and afterwards we went to
Messrs. Henry Robbs of Leith. We returned on September 29th to Rosyth to
replace guns and director.
Thursday 7th October 1943
We left basin at 0730 hours and proceeded to number 2 buoy to
ammunition. In the afternoon we went out to the DG range and to
calibrate the M.F.D.F afterwards proceeding to A4 berth and anchoring.
During the forenoon we had a sight and director test.
Friday 8th October 1943
During the forenoon we had a radar test and in the afternoon we swung compasses.
Saturday 9th October 1943
We embarked the trials party, who had come up from Whale Island, and
proceeded to sea at 1015 hours. First we had a vibration test at
various speeds. After this we proceeded to Bell Rock for radar tests.
We then had an ABU calibration HA shoot. Close range weapons took
part in this also. After dark we carried out a night encounter exercise
with an ML lighting her with star shell and testing our rocket
illumination. On completion we returned to Methil and assumed the
duties of duty”A”.
In 1939 the 4.7 inch guns on HMS Westminster
had been replaced by 4-inch High Angle (HA) Guns, known as a WAIR
conversion, to provide a more effective defence against enemy aircraft.
on Whale Island in Portsmouth harbour was the home of the Royal Navy's
Gunnery School. The trial team must have been sent to Rosyth to see
that the WAIR converted east coast escorts could make effective use of
the Auto Barrage Unit (ABU) introduced in 1942 to provide a barrage to destroy enemy aircraft.
The ABU "was coupled to the Type 285M radar system and could
automatically fire a barrage salvo so that the shell bursts occurred
when the target reached a selected range - usually between 1000 and
5000 yards. Fire had to be held until the target was within the 5000
yard limit and there was only a single chance to destroy an attacking
aircraft before it was able to launch its own weapon". Find out more
about the British High Angle Control System (HACS).
Sunday 10th October 1943
In the forenoon we had an other HA shoot exercising director control
and local control and quarters firing. In the afternoon we did a sub –
calibre LA shoot against a target towed by a trawler. We returned to
Methil, landed the trials party and proceeded to sea again for another
night encounter. Unfortunately the visibility was not good and we could
not sight the ML, but our asdic picked up her HE at extreme range. We
then returned to Methil and anchored as duty “A”.
Monday 11th October 1943
During the forenoon we did another HA shoot and at 1315 hours had on
full calibre LA shoot at the same target as the sub-calibre shoot,
exercising all types of gunnery control. After this we had an
Anti-submarine exercise with submarine H62 the “Uther”. We then
escorted her back to the Tees and proceeded from there at 25 knots back
to Rosyth, anchoring for the night just east of the bridge. We dropped
a DC pattern in the afternoon.
Tuesday 12th October 1943
During our firing some of the gun circuits had broken so day was devoted to repairing these and other minor defects.
Wednesday 13th October 1943
We remained at “Q” berth all day.
Thursday 14th October 1943
We slipped at 1515 hours and after ammunitioning at the puffer we proceeded once again to Methil for duty “A”
Friday 15th October 1943
We weighed at 1230 hours and proceeded to muster convoy. There were 4
small ship's in the convoy the Commodore being in the Belgium
“Gorrmume” . The Vice Commodore was the Dutch “Orenjepoller”. During
the night the swell became quiet heavy.
Saturday 16th October 1943
During the day the swell continued to run. We received 10 Tyne joiners
making 14 ship's in all. There was a strong head wind and we became
astern of programme. We remained in cruising watches throughout the
night as it was to rough for E-boats. Our additional escorts were
“Cotswold” “Windsor” and “Lady Philomena”.
Sunday 17th October 1943
During the day the weather steadily improved but we were 4 hours behind
programme and did not arrive at the gate until after dark. The gate
vessel showed the 3 appropriate lights and we entered, securing to buoy
about 2330 hours.
Monday 18th October 1943
We slipped at 0715 hours and proceeded to meet the convoy at the gate.
Going through the gate ahead of us was the escort carrier “Striker”.
The Commodore was in the “Harlow” and there were 22 other ship's.
During the forenoon watch we observed great numbers of “Thunderbolts”
going over and later returning. The weather was good but there was a
slight swell running. For the alley we had “Quorn” “Holderness”
“Turquoise” and “Attentif” as additional escorts.
Tuesday 19th October 1943
We reverted to cruising watches at 0100 hours as the weather became
unsuitable for E-boats. During the day we made good headway but
received gale warning. At about 1900 hours the gale broke and we were
rolling heavily. Luckily it was astern of us and blew us along.
Wednesday 20th October 1943
The gale subsided just after midnight and we reached the Forth about
0700 hours. After leaving the convoy we proceeded to Rosyth and secured
to “Y” berth on the South Arm.
Thursday 21st October 1943
We remained at Rosyth all day.
Friday 22nd October 1943
We were alongside the South Arm today.
Saturday 23rd October 1943
We slipped at 0730 hours and proceeded to meet the convoy at Methil.
There were 3 merchants ship's and 1 MMS in our convoy the Commodore
being in the “Sherwood”. “Wolfhound” was the rear escort and she had
been at Methil all night and got the convoy underway by the time we
arrived. We carried out an RIX with her during the forenoon. The
weather was cloudy and rain was expected.
Sunday 24th October 1943
During the day we made good progress and became ahead of programme. We
met the Tyne joiners during the forenoon which brought the total to 30
ship's, we had another joiner at the Humber. For the alley “Whitshead”
“Kingston Olivine” and “Attentif” were provided. The night was clam and
Monday 25th October 1943
Just before midnight on the 24th “Pytchley” who was escorting the FN
reported “engaging E-boat” . We went to action stations at 0030 hours
after receiving further enemy reports. Star shell was seen to seaward
and “Worcester” “Campbell” and “Mackay” reported being in contact with
E-boats. Then signals continued for about 2 hours, after which the
E-boats were driven off. It appears that the E-boats attacked the FN on
the outer channel, sinking 1 trawler. “Worcester” reported sinking an
E-boat. We reverted to defence at about 0330 hours. We arrived at the
gate at about 1530 hours and proceeded to 5 buoy, later “Wolfhound” came
Two E-boats had been sunk and a third damaged for the loss of just one patrol trawler, the William Stephen.
One of the casualties was Kapt Werner Lutzow whose S88 was rammed by Lt
R.H. Marshall’s MGB 607 at full speed. Both convoys passed by
unscathed. Battle of the East Coast (1939-1945); by Julian Paul Foynes (1994); pages 289-91.
Tuesday 26th October 1943
We slipped at 0715 hours and proceeded to the gate. The convoy, however
was late in starting, but we later made up this defeiency. There were
26 ship's present, mostly large ocean going vessels the Commodore was
in the “Bushwood”. The weather during the day was fine, but later a
little misty. For the alley we had “Vivacious” and “Lord Plender” and 2
ML's. Nothing occurred during the night.
Wednesday 27th October n1943
At 0348 hours fog descended and we anchored, but by 0719 hours it had
cleared sufficiently to proceed. The visibility however was poor and we
had to anchor again at 0826 hours near 57C buoy. At 1014 hours we
weighed and proceeded, but by 1249 hours had to anchor again. We
weighed at 1354 hours and proceeded at 6 ½ knots.
Thursday 28th October 1943
After leaving the Tyne ship's we proceeded at 10 knots from Tyne we had
the Commodore on board but landed him at 1745 hours at Methil. We then
proceeded to E2 berth and anchored. On our way in we passed the Swedish
Liberty ship “Drottingholm”
Friday 29th October 1943
We weighed at first light and proceeded alongside the South Arm.
Our stay was only short, however, and we slipped again at 1400 hours
after storing, fueling and embarking a representative from Messrs Barr
& Stroud. We connected the third boiler and proceeded to do a
vibration test in area K, after this we returned to Methil and anchored
Saturday 30th October 1943
At 0830 hours we weighed and sailed with the convoy. There was no RN
Commodore present but the “S.S. Sphere” assumed acting Commodore. There
were 3 other small ship's. The day was overcast and a slight swell was
Sunday 31st October 1943
We met the Tyne contingent during the morning watch, they were escorted
by “Monas Isle”. The Commodore was in the Tyne contingent the
“Sheafdon” being his flagship. A total of 21 ship's were now present.
For E-boat alley “Wallace” “Whitshead” “Lady Philomena” and “Seaman”
were provided. We remained at cruising stations until about midnight
when the sea became calm enough for E-boats.
Monday 1st November 1943
We arrived at B2 at about 1430 hours and after shepherding the tail end
of the convoy in we proceeded to Sheerness and secured to the buoy.
Tuesday 2nd November 1943
We slipped at 0715 hours and proceeded to the gate to meet the convoy.
There were 7 ship's, the Commodore being in “Tudor Rose” the weather
was dull with a slight sea. For the alley we had “Campbell” and “Lord
Plender” as additional escorts. The night passed uneventfully.
Wednesday 3rd November 1943
We made good time throughout the day and after Tyne we proceeded at 12 knots.
Thursday 4th November 1943
We arrived at Inchkieth before light and had to wait a little while
before we could proceed alongside. We secured to “Q” berth on “Vivien”
and half the hands went on boiler cleaning leave.
Friday 5th November 1943
We remained at “Q” berth, boiler cleaning leave until 9th November.
Tuesday 9th November 1943
We slipped at 1600 hours and proceeded to number 3 billet at Methil fro duty “A”.
Wednesday 10th November 1943
The convoy weighed at 0830 hours and we proceeded to muster them. There
were 9 vessel's present, the Commodore being in the “Silvermaple” a
large ocean going ship. The weather was grey and during the afternoon a
storm blew up. We received 1 joiner at buoy 22.
Thursday 11th November 1943
We had to take a diversion route at number 62E buoy as mines had been
laid on the outer route. This channel took us close inshore and the
convoy had to form a single line. For the alley we had “Holderness”
“Ludlow” “Sapphire” and “Champion” but the night was rough so we
remained at cruising watches.
Friday 12th November 1943
We arrived at B2 about 1400 hours and proceeded into Sheerness securing to 5 buoy on arrival.
Saturday 13th November 1943
We slipped at 0715 hours and proceeded through the Medway gate to meet
the convoy, the Commodore was in the “Lambtonian” and there were 54
other vessel's with us. Unfortunately during the afternoon 1 vessel
struck a mine, the “Cormorant” near 51 buoy, her crew were saved and all
attempts were made to tow her in. We had “Walpole” “Ludlow” “Turquoise”
and “Sea Giant” as additional escorts. We remained at cruising stations
as the weather was unsuitable for E-boats. The “Cormorant” sank west of
Sunday 14th November 1943
Today the weather became worse and high sea and heavy swell were
accompanied by strong winds, hail and rain. The ship rolled and pitched
considerably and the convoy became behind programme.
Monday 15th November 1943
There was little change today and we continued to wash down spray often
enveloped the bridge. We reached 20C buoy at 1600 hours. During the
night we had trouble with our steering engine but the sea began to ease
Tuesday 16th November 1943
During the forenoon the sea gradually subsided and arrived at May
Island about 1230 hours, after leaving the convoy at Methil, we
proceeded to Rosyth and secured on “Castleton” at “P” west.
Wednesday 17th November 1943
We remained at Rosyth all day.
Thursday 18th November 1943
We slipped at 1230 hours and proceeded with “Castleton” to Methil for
our convoy. There was no Naval Commodore present but the master of the
S.S “Harlow” acted for him until we reached the Tyne. There were 7
ship's present “Castleton” being the rear escort.
Friday 19th November 1943
The ship's from Tyne ports joined in and the Commodore took over from
“Harlow”. The Commodore was in the “Fireguard”. For the alley we had
“Vivacious” “Turquoise” and “Greenfly” as additional escorts, but no
E-boat activity was experienced in spite of good weather.
Saturday 20th November 1943
We reached Sheerness about 1430 hours and secured to number 5 buoy. There was a large Assault Craft Carrier in the harbour.
Sunday 21st November 1943
We slipped at 0745 hours and proceeded to muster our convoy. This
consisted of 1 American Liberty ship the “Grange Custer”. We therefore
proceeded at 10 knots. There was 1 joiner from Harwich. We anchored in
fog at 2130 hours.
Monday 22nd November 1943
The visibility became better during the night and we were able to weigh
at 0540 hours, but we had to anchor again at 0750 hours near 59 buoy.
We finally got underway at 0907 hours, after waiting fro FS convoy to
pass through the narrow channel between numbers 10 & 14 buoys.
“Castleton” who was our rear escort, proceeded ahead at Humber to
escort joiners, who were forming the slow portion of our convoy.
Tuesday 23rd November 1943
We reached Roth Grounds at 0738 hours and proceeded to Rosyth, securing
on arrival at the South Arm. We remained at Rosyth until the 26th
Friday 26th November 1943
We left the South Arm and proceeded to J1 berth and anchored. At 1230
hours we weighed and proceeded fro a shoot to the Eastward of May
Island. We did close range and 4 inch controlled and ABU runs on a
sleeve towed by a “Master” aircraft. On completion we carried out an
exercise “Hare” with HLS114 and then anchored at Methil as duty “A”.
Saturday 27th November 1943
We weighed at 0730 hours and proceeded with our convoy of 1 ship, the
“Greyfriars”, “Castleton” brought up the rear. The weather was misty
and shortly after 2000 hours we were forced to anchor.
Sunday 28th November 1943
We weighed at 0300 hours and proceeded at about 0730 hours we went
ahead to muster the Tyne joiners. Having done this we reduced to 4
knots whilst “Castleton” and “Greyfriars” caught up. We then proceeded
at convoy speed. For the night “Farnie” “Lady Philomena” and “Seaman”
Monday 29th November 1943
The night passed quietly and we arrived at Sheerness at about 1600 hours.
Tuesday 30th November 1943
We slipped at 0745 hours and proceeded through the gate to muster the
convoy. There were 24 ship's, the Commodore being in the “Sheafdon”.
The weather was dull with a strong north westerly wind blowing which
put us behind programme time. For the night we had “Eglington”
“Sapphire” and “Superman” as additional escorts. We remained at
cruising stations as the sea was to rough for E-boats.
Wednesday 1st December 1943 December 1943
The sea and wind subsided during the forenoon and we made better speed.
Thursday 2nd December 1943
We continued at convoy speed during the day and reached Rosyth at 1630
hours. Half of the hands proceeded on boiler cleaning leave.
Wednesday 8th December 1943
The boiler cleaning leave expired at 1200 hours on the 7th and the
hands returned at that time. We slipped at 0900 hours on the 8th and
proceeded to catch up our convoy. “Castleton” was already with them as
she had duty “A” the previous night. There were 7 ships present
with no Naval Commodore. At 1945 hours we proceeded ahead to meet the
Tyne joiners, there were 17 of them the Commodore being in the “Empire
Thursday 9th December 1943
The 2 convoys joined up at daylight and we proceeded we proceeded, with
ourselves as senior escort. For the night we had “Cattistock” “Bootle”
and the tug “Diversion” as additional escorts. The night was calm and
moonlit but apart from a few star shells nothing was observed.
Friday 10th December 194
We passed 4 buoy at about 0300 hours and continued to make good progress entering Sheerness at 1300 hours.
Saturday 11th December 1943
We were due to slip at 0815 hours but the Commodore was late in
weighing so we were delayed for a quarter of an hour. After slipping we
proceeded through the Medway gate and mustered the convoy. There were
21 ships, the Commodore being in a large American motor vessel, the
“Marina” there was a strong wind blowing and we were late on programme.
For the night we had “Eglington” “Kingston Olivine” and “Attentif”. The
night passed quietly as it was to rough for E-boat activity.
Sunday 12th December 1943
“Castleton” parted company at Humber and we proceeded with the convoy.
The wind and sea moderated and we made up some of our lost time.
Monday 13th December 1943
We proceeded with 7 ships from the Tyne and became ahead of programme,
entering Rosyth at 1400 hours and securing on “Wells” at “Q” berth.
Tuesday 14th December 1943
We remained at Rosyth all day.
Wednesday 15th December 1943
We were due to slip at 0900 hours but fog prevented this. However we
slipped at 1215 hours and proceeded to Methil where we met “Charleston”
. We then increased to 17 knots and with “Charleston” in company made
for Tyne, from there we proceeded at convoy speed with 8 ships.
Thursday 16th December 1943
We continued with our convoy and collected 6 merchants ships and H.M.
Trawler “Fairway” at the Humber. For E-boat alley we had “Eglington”
“Fairway” and the tug “Sea Giant” as additional escorts. We went to
defences stations at 2215 hours but the night passed quietly.
Friday 17th December 1943
We continued making good progress during the day and entered Sheerness at 1530 hours.
Saturday 18th December 1943
We slipped at 0815 hours and proceeded through the Medway gate to meet
our convoy of 19 ships. The Commodore was in the “S.S. Sherwood”. As
the day wore on the wind and sea increased and by nightfall a heavy sea
was running. For the alley “Cattismore” “Greenfly” and “Attentif” were
Sunday 19th December 1943
We were detached from the convoy at Humber and entered the river securing at Immingham at about 1130 hours.
Monday 20th December 1943
We slipped at 1345 hours and proceeded with “Wensleydale” to meet FS 5
escorted by “Lancaster”. On the way out we carried out normal fleet
routine. On meeting the convoy we took over as S O escort, “Lancaster”
going to the rear. There were 38 merchant ships present and 7
Minesweeping Trawlers. The majority of the vessels ocean goers. For the
night we had “Quorn” “Sapphire” “Wensleydale” and “Superman”. The
weather was too rough for E-boat activity.
Tuesday 21st December 1943
We became astern of programme during the forenoon as the wind and tide
were against us. We eventually arrived at the gate after dark and had
to anchor near J buoy. On passing 51 buoy a 6.000 ton Norwegian ship
“Norhaik” struck a mine and sank. Tugs were dispatched and there was
believed to be no loss of life.
Wednesday 22nd December 1943
We weighed at first light and then entered Sheerness for stores and
mail. After remaining there for about ½ an hour we slipped and
proceeded to muster the FN convoy, informing the FS to remain at anchor
until the Northbound was clear of the gate. We had 20 ships in our
convoy and the Commodore being in the “Sheafdon”. The tide was with us
during the forenoon and we made good progress. For the night we had
“Vivacious” “Bassett” and a tug “Lancaster” brought up the rear.
Thursday 23rd December 1943
We continued to make good progress during the day keeping about ½ an
hour ahead of programme. From Tyne we had 5 ships, we were the only
escort as “Lancaster” had entered the Humber.
Friday 24th December 1943
We arrived at Rosyth early today, on passing Ox Cas at 0830 hours. On arrival we secured to “Q” berth.
Saturday 25th December 1943
We remained at Rosyth throughout the day.
Sunday 26th December 1943
Today we were emergency destroyer and only canteen leave was granted. We went to divisions in the forenoon.
Monday 27th December 1943
We left Rosyth at 1130 hours and proceeded to Methil for our convoy.
The Battle- Cruiser “Renown” was leaving Rosyth and come just astern of
us. There were 13 ships in our convoy, the Commodore being in “Empire
Unity”, a large ocean going tanker. The trawler “Sawfly” was also in
Tuesday 28th December 1943
“Valorous” joined today from the Humber and we had “Bassett” and
“Southdown” for E-boat alley. The weather was calm but no E-boats were
Wednesday 29th December 1943
We had the tide with us up the Estuary and made good progress reaching Sheerness at 1430 hours.
Thursday 30th December 1943
We slipped at 0815 hours and proceeded through the Medway gate to meet
our convoy. There were 34 ships present, the Commodore being in the
6,000 ton motor tanker “Sovac”. “Valorous” was the rear escort and she
slipped an hour after us. The weather was calm during the forenoon and
afternoon but became rough during the first dog. In the first watch we
made good only 2 knots. For the alley we had “Vivacious” “Bassett” and
Friday 31st December 1943
We detached from convoy at H2 and proceeded to Humber, securing to the
South Arm at Immingham Dock on arrival. The convoy had scattered during
the night and 2 ships were diverted to Yarmouth, the remainder closing
up during the afternoon when the weather moderated.
Saturday 1st January 1944
We remained at Immingham until 1330 hours when we slipped and
rendezvoused with FS convoy in the vicinity of H2 buoy. There were 27
ships, the Commodore being in the “Morgeaux”. We were rear escort as
“Wolfhound” had brought the convoy from Methil. “Southdown” also joined
as additional escort.
Sunday 2nd January 1944
Nothing of note occurred during the night and we proceeded to
Sheerness, arriving at about 1600 hours. The “Caledon” an Anti –
aircraft cruiser was in the harbour and later the Colony class cruiser
Monday 3rd January 1944
We slipped at 0815 hours and proceeded to the gate to meet our convoy.
There were 15 ships present, the Commodore being in the “Westburn”. The
corvette “Violet” was also in company and “Wolfhound” brought up the
rear. For the night we had “Cottismore” “Greenfly” and “Sea Giant” as
additional escorts. We went to defence stations at 1900 hours but
reverted to cruiser again at 2200 hours owing to the fact that the wind
and sea were increasing.
Tuesday 4th January 1944
We were 4 ½ hours behind programme at East Dudgeon as the sea and wind
increased steadily to the extent that fishing smacks had to remain in
harbour or close lie to. During the forenoon the convoy became
stretched and we took considerable amount of water over the foc'sle.
Wednesday 5th January 1944
At 20C buoy we were left with only 1 ship, we therefore proceeded
independently to Rosyth, arriving just before dark and securing on
“Woolston” at “Q” berth. Half the ships company proceeded on boiler
cleaning leave. We remained at Rosyth on boiler cleaning leave until
Tuesday 11th January.
Tuesday 11th January 1944
The boiler cleaning ended at noon today. At 1400 hours we slipped and
proceeded to DG range after which “Chesapeake” aircraft carried out DB
&TB runs on us. This was not very successful owing to the presence
of only 1 aircraft and a low ceiling. After this we proceeded to Methil
and anchored on number 3 billet as duty “A”
Wednesday 12th January 1944
We weighed at 0630 hours and proceeded with 1 ship, the “Empire
Setter”. On reaching Tyne we proceeded up the Tyne channel and met our
joiners. We then anchored ad the FN was passing the Tyne buoys. After
FN was clear we weighed and proceeded with 36 ships, the Commodore
being in the “Empire Lagoon”
Thursday 13th January 1944
We proceeded to make good progress today in spite of strong winds. For
the night we had “Whitshead” “Wolfhound” “Sapphire” and “Superman” as
Friday 14th January 1944
We went to defence stations at 0600 hours as the wind and sea had
calmed right down. A few enemy aircraft heard overhead. We entered
Sheerness at 1430 hours and secured to our buoy. “Wolfhound” coming
Saturday 15th January 1944
We were to have slipped at 0815 hours but fog prevented this, we
therefore waited for further orders and at mid-day the FN was
cancelled, so we remained at Sheerness.
Sunday 16th January 1944
Although the fog was still present it was much thinner and by 0845 we
were able to proceed. After slipping we passed through the gate and met
our convoy. “Wolfhound” was our rear escort. The Commodore was in the
American Liberty ship “Lorenzo De Zuorez” and there were 34 other ships
present. The visibility was poor all day but we managed to keep
going. “Quorn” joined us as additional escort for the night. We had to
anchor for short periods during the day when the fog was thick.
Monday 17th January 1944
Again we had to anchor, this time at 0450 hours near 8B. We weighed
again at 0945 hours to close the Commodore but the convoy did not weigh
and we again anchored. We eventually got underway at 1324 hours and
proceeded at convoy speed. As we were passing the FS in the vicinity of
15 buoy, “Lancaster” collided with her Commodore who then hit one of
our convoy. “Lancaster” and the Commodore carried on but our ship had
to go into the Humber.
Tuesday 18th January 1944
We proceeded on today the visibility becoming maximum, from Tyne we had
7 ships and the trawler “Ailsa Craig” “Wolfhound” having gone on
independently. We made good time and arrived at Roth Grounds at 2145
hours. From there proceeded to E2 berth.
Wednesday 19th January 1944
We weighed at 0845 hours and proceeded to P West, securing on “Rockingham”
Thursday 20th January 1944
We remained at Rosyth all day.
Friday 21st January 1944
We slipped at 1500 hours and proceeded to Methil, anchoring in number 3
billet as duty “A”. The weather was rough with strong wind during the
Saturday 22nd December 1944
We were to have weighed at 0630 hours, but the Methil portion of the
convoy was cancelled. We therefore remained at anchor until 1500 hours
when we weighed and proceeded to Tyne at 21 knots. On arrival at Tyne
at 2000 hours we met our convoy of 39 ships, the Commodore being in
“Empire Grampian”. There was also in company Anti-submarine trawler
Sunday 23rd January 1944
It rained all through the night, but during the forenoon the weather
improved. For the alley we had “Eglington” “Charleston” “Turquoise” and
Monday 24th January 1944
The weather improved during the forenoon and we made good time, arriving at Sheerness about 1400 hours.
Tuesday 25th January 1944
We slipped at 0815 hours and proceeded to meet our convoy. The
Commodore was the American Liberty ship “Francis C Hemmington” with 22
other ships in company. There was a strong wind and a high sea running
and we rolled considerably. For the night we had “Charleston” “Maynell”
“Bassett” and the H.M.Tug “Superman”
Wednesday 26th January 1944
At about 1500 hours we met the FS convoy. We then detached from the FN
and joined the FS “Ludlow” was astern brining up some ships that were
late in sailing. We had the same escorts as the previous night. The
Commodore being in the “Empire Beaconsfield” and there were 26 other
ships present. Owing to heavy swell we remained at cruising
Thursday 27th January 1944
The night passed quietly and we arrived at Sheerness about 1500 hours, securing on arrival at number 5 buoy.
Friday 28th January 1944
The convoy was late in sailing and we slipped at 0900 hours, the convoy
consisted of 24 ships, the Commodore being in the “Morgeaux”. There
were also 3 Liberty ships present. “Ludlow” was the rear escort as far
as the Humber. For the night we had additional escorts of “Whitshead”
“Greenfly” and “Monmouth”. The night passed quietly.
Saturday 29th January 1944
“Ludlow” parted company at Humber and we proceeded by ourselves. On
reaching the Tyne we picked up an echo moving up the starboard side.
This proved to be a merchant ship breaking away from the convoy. She
was also inside the mine carrier. We proceeded to illuminate her with
star shell and instructed her to return to the convoy.
Sunday 30th January 1944
We reached May Island at mi d-day and proceeded to Largo, parting
company with the convoy and proceeding to Rosyth, securing on arrival
at “Y” berth.
Monday 31st January 1944
We remained at Rosyth all day
Tuesday 1st February 1944
We played football against “Newport” in the afternoon losing 3-1.
Wednesday 2nd February 1944
We slipped at 0930 hours and proceeded to a position 090 degrees 7M
from May Island for a practice HA shoot. Owing to weather conditions
the aircraft could not co-operate so we carried out an LA shoot. For a
target we constructed a a cross but this was destroyed on the 3rd
salvo. After this we used a smoke float, 4 rounds were fired from each
mounting. We completed this and then dropped depth charge pattern.
After these exercises we proceeded to catch up our convoy.
“Newark” was already with them. At 1830 hours we met the FS but went
ahead to escort the Tyne contingent.
Thursday 3rd February 1944
At daylight the 2 convoys joined and made up 19 ships, the Commodore
being in the “Cormead”. The wind and sea were very strong and we rolled
considerably. For the night we had “Campbell” “Greenfly” and “St
Mellows” as additional escorts
Friday 4th February 1944
During the morning an air raid was observed ashore, but in the forenoon
large number's of “Liberators” “Fortresses” and “Lightnings”
were seen going out. We were early on programme and reached Sheerness
at about 1400 hours.
Saturday 5th February 1944
We slipped at 0815 hours and proceeded to Southend to muster the
convoy. There were 23 ships, the Commodore being in a large ocean going
vessel. “Newark” who was our rear escort had been hit by a tug the
previous night and was advised to dock as soon as possible. We
therefore was told to proceed to Humber on the 6th . For the night we
had “Newark” “Walpole” and “Sapphire”. “Superman” was to have joined us
but she went to the help of H.M. Escort Carrier who set off a
mine near 3C buoy when proceeding Sheerness North.
Sunday 6th February 1944
We left the convoy on reaching the Humber and proceeded to Immingham.
Monday 7th February 1944
During the forenoon we went to divisions and read the Articles Of War.
In the afternoon we practiced damage control. At 1515 hours we slipped
and met FS convoy escorted by “Vanity”. The Commodore was in the
“Forth” and there were many fine ocean going vessels in the convoy,
including the twin screw “Union Castle” motor ship. For the night
we had “Fernie” “Bassett” and “Superman” as additional escorts.
Tuesday 8th February 1944
We arrived at Sheerness at 1430 hours and secured to number 5 buoy.
Wednesday 9th February 1944
We slipped at 0815 hours and proceeded through the Medway gate to
muster the convoy. There were 28 ships, some having buttoned for
the channel convoy. The Commodore was in the American Liberty ship
“George Sumner”. There was a fair wind blowing and the sky was
overcast. For the night we had “Whitshead” “Turquoise” “Champion” and
the fleet sweeper “Shippigan” and “Vanity” brought up the rear. During
the first the wind increased to gale force and we rolled and pitched
considerably, taking frequent seas over us.
Thursday 10th February 1944
We made very little progress today owing to the strong North wind and high seas. The convoy became very scattered.
Friday 11th February 1944
We spent the forenoon mustering the convoy. Both our radar sets were
out of action, one owing to a technical breakdown, the other because the
aerials had become wet. We reached the Tyne about mid-day and proceeded
with 6 ships. The Commodore & Pilot transferred to us off the Tyne
and we proceeded to Methil and the anchored East of the Bridge.
Saturday 12th February 1944
The oiler came out to us and after we had re-fuelled we weighed and
proceeded to the penns, securing on arrival at P West, on “Verdun”.
Half the ships company proceeded on boiler cleaning leave. We remained
at Rosyth until 1550 hours on Friday 18th.
Friday 18th February 1944
We slipped at 1550 hours and proceeded into the stream to embark
ammunition. The French Battle-ship “Richleau” was in the stream.
Saturday 19th February 1944
There was no convoy from Methil, so we remained at anchor until 1600
hours, when we weighed and proceeded at 17 knots to the Tyne. We
reached the Tyne at about 2330 hours and met the convoy sailing, there
were 19 ships, the Commodore being in the “Comwood”.
Sunday 20th February 1944
Off the Humber we were ordered to carry out exercise “Sunk”. This
comprised of torpedo runs on the convoy by Beaufighters. At 1300 hours
about 12 Beaufighters flew over the convoy from landwards and after
identifying themselves disappeared to seaward. After about 50 minutes
the Beaufighters reappeared and broke up into 3 formations each
attacking a different ship, the time and release of the torpedoes being
marked by the dropping of a Bakelite bomb. For the night we had the
additional escorts of “Newark” “Whitshed” and “Turquoise”
Monday 21st February 1944
Owing to tide and wind being against us we were late in arriving at Sheerness, securing to the buoy at 2000 hours.
Tuesday 22nd February 1944
We slipped at 0800 hours and proceeded through the gate to our convoy.
The Commodore was in the T.S.M.V “Thurland Castle” there being a total
of 29 ships in the convoy. For the night we had “Newark” “Cottismore”
and “Bassett”. “Newark” was rear escort of the convoy.
Wednesday 23rd February 1944
At 0100 hours E-boats were reported in the vicinity of Smith's Knoll.
These were engaged and driven off by “Garth” and “Southdown” some mines
were believed to have been laid. We observed star shell but nothing
came near us. From Tyne we proceeded with the “Thurland Castle”
“Newark” remaining with the convoy.
Thursday 24th February 1944
We arrived at Largo at mid-day and proceeded to Rosyth securing alongside the “War Afridi” for oil and then to berthing penns.
Friday 25th February 1944
We remained at Rosyth all day.
Saturday 26th February 1944
We remained at Rosyth throughout the day.
Sunday 27th February 1944
Today we had divisions at 1000 hours and Capt “D” came aboard. We
slipped at 1130 hours and proceeded to Methil for our convoy, “Wallace”
was to act as rear escort. There were 76 ships in the convoy, no Naval
Commodore being present. We proceeded ahead at 2000 hours to meet the
Monday 28th February 1944
After losing all but one of our original ships at Tyne we proceeded
from there with 11 vessels, the Commodore being in the “Zelo”. For the
night we had “Whitshed” “Bassett” and “Leeds” as additional escorts,
“Wallace” having parted company at the Humber.
Tuesday 29th February 1944
The tide was with us during the morning and forenoon watch and we
reached the gate at 1330 hours, securing on arrival to number 5 buoy.
Wednesday 1st March 1944
We slipped at 0745 hours and proceeded through the Medway gate to meet
the FN. The Commodore being in the 7,000 ton ocean going ship
“Glenaffaric” there being 21 ships in total. For the night we had
“Sapphire” and “Pytchley” as additional escorts.
Thursday 2nd March 1944
During the night the wind increased to gale force but owing to the good progress made the previous day we remained on programme.
Friday 3rd March 1944
We reached May Island at 1300 hours and detached form convoy proceeding
to the seaward of the Island. There we met a trawler and a submarine
P214. After some time the submarine submerged and we carried out 3
dummy attacks on her. On completion of this she carried out a run on
us. We then proceeded to Rosyth, securing on arrival at “Y” berth.
During 1944-1945 HMS Satyr (P214) was disarmed, streamlined and given more powerful batteries to serve as a high speed target submarine.
Saturday 4th March 1944
We remained at Rosyth all day.
Sunday 5th March 1944
Church parade in the forenoon.
Monday 6th March 1944
We left Rosyth at 0830 hours and proceeded to Methil for the convoy,
“Wallace” had sailed the previous night and was already there. There
was no Naval Commodore from Methil, but S.S. “Durham Coast” took over
as acting Commodore, there were 7 ships in total in the convoy. We
arrived at the Tyne at about 2230 hours after going on ahead at 2000
hours. Here we met the Tyne contingent.
Tuesday 7th March 1944
After convoy had joined up we had a total of 27 ships. The weather was
calm and we went to defence stations at 2100 hours. “Eglington” and
“Bassett” were the additional escorts. The night passed quietly
and no E-boat activity was reported.
Wednesday 8th March 1944
We made good progress reaching Sheerness at 1330 hours
Thursday 9th March 1944
We slipped at 0800 hours and proceeded to meet the convoy at the gate.
The ships were mostly ocean goers and we expected a good passage. The
Commodore being in the T.S.M.V “Norma” a Norwegian. When we reached 3
buoy we heard an explosion and found that a mine had exploded under the
Commodore's port quarter. We closed and discovered that she was making
water in the tennels and number 5 hold. “Kingston Olivine” was told to
stand by “Norma” whilst she tried to make for Harwich. She was able to
steer with hand steering only. We then transferred the Commodore to the
U.S.S. Benjamine H Grierson”
On the 22nd August 1944 F.D. Tolfree was promoted to Sub Lt Derek TolfreeR.N.R. and appointed as Navigating Officer on Westminster.
He remained in the ship until she finally paid off in June/July 1945
Derek Tolfree continues his account of his wartime service in the RNR -
the run up to D-Day there were loads of large allied aircrafy flying over and
they were looking forward to being in the front line but were not
When the war ended
they were coming N up the east coast and missed the celebrations. Westminster was immediately sent to May Island in the FIrth of Forth to accept surrender of German U-boats. It was a beautiful
sunny day and a calm sea and then up popped 12 submarines. Their conning towers oppened and their officers came out on
deck and sat smoking cigars and drinking champagne. Terrific heroes, just
on the wrong side, Doernitz was a wonderful bloke, they nearly beat us.
Westminster was one of the destroyers in the Rosyth Escort Force sent to the entry ports on the west coast of Norway. Westminster
to Stavanger and was the "trot boat", taking mail, despatches, and
people up and down the inner leads with a pilot on the bridge, from
Stavanger to Trondheim, Narvik, Bergen,
Kristiansand, Oslo. They were very popular with the Norwegians and as
soon as they entered harbour were invited ashore. They brought
bread and butter and the Norwegians served lobsters and champagne. On
occasion they had to leave at 5 am, all a bit hung over and the engine
room failed to respond to the Telegraph. Let go fore, let go aft and
nothing happened. They really looked after the ship but back at Rosyth
she was stuck
on the mud at Grangemouth and stripped out.
He joined the
Tramadoc Bay, a Bay Class
Frigate being built at Harland & Wolfe as
Navigator Officer. The Germans had surrendered six of the new Type XXI u-boats
which were capable of 20 knots submerged at which speed
sonar was ineffective. They had to tow one of two for the Russians to Libau on Baltic in Latvia. The steering jammed on a u-boat in middle of north
sea in a
terrific storm and the tow parted and they had to return for repairs. On
arrival at Libau they dropped the tow inside breakwater and their
engineer went with the u-boat to the naval port while Westminster
went to the commercial port. The engineer was arrested while rejoining
his ship. There was a
feeling of great apprehension, they were only allowed ashore once to the
officers club. He was to be demobbed but had no idea what to do for a
living so stayed on until the "end of the
period of the present emergency" and was sent on a troop ship to Malta where he became Navigator on HMS Thisbe with the 8th Minesweeping Flotilla and eventually Navigating Officer for the whole Flotilla, sweeping between Cape Bon and Sicily. The Captain was Kirkpatrick, a veteran of Jutland who lost out to the Geddex Axe but returned in 1939 and was at Dunkirk. All RNR officers who missed taking their certificates because of
war could go on a special course run by the Navy. He took the course,
passed his Certificate as Second Mate and joined the PO Union Pacific
Steamship Company in New Zealand for six years and then returned to
Britain and joined Elders and Fyffes' banana boats. He decided to leave
the sea and joined Lucas at
Bristol and then in London as UK Sales Manager but stayed in the RNR
for thirty years.