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





HMS Whiklrlwind D30 with H 24 Submarine
HMS Whirlwind with H24 submarine in foreground
Click image to view full size and for story see below.
Hard Lying


HMS Whirlwind was  ordered from Swan Hunter at Wallsend on the Tyne on 9th December 1916 and launched on 15th December 1917 as the first RN warship to carry this name. After joining the Fleet she took part in the raids on Zeebrugge on 22-3 April 1918 and Ostend on 10 May.

After the armistice she was deployed in the 1st Destroyer Flotilla, Atlantic Fleet. In July 1922 HMS Whirlwind rescued the crew of the submarine H24 when she was accidentally rammed by HMS Vancouver (renamed HMS Vimy in April 1928), badly damaging her conning tower, as shown in the above photograph.

After the British merchantship Bronte was torpedoed and damaged on 27 October 1939 by German U-boat U-34 180 miles SW of Lands End HMS Whirlwind and HMS Walpole sank her with gunfire and Walpole took onboard the 42 crew members. Whirlwind was part of the destroyer escorts for the ships taking the troops to Namsos after the German invasion of Norway.

On the 5th July 1940 HMS
Whirlwind together with HMS Westcott were ordered to carry out a U-boat hunt off Lands End, whilst doing this the Whirlwind was torpedoed and badly damaged by U-34 some 120 miles off Lands End. This was the same u-boat that sank the Bronte in October 1939. After HMS Westcott rescued the survivors (57 men were killed)  she had to be sunk by gunfire from Westcott who returned to Falmouth with the survivors. The official report into the loss of HMS Whirlwind (ADM 358/3705) is in the National Archives at Kew.

HMS Whirlwind (D30) was informally adopted by Radstock in Somerst in December 1939 and by Bridgnorth in Shropshire in 1940 six months before she was sunk. After the loss of HMS Whirlwind a Warship Week national savings campaign was held by the civil community of New Forest in Hampshire in March  1942 which led to the adoption of the second HMS Whirlwind (R87) which was completed on the Tyne in July 1944. The Sea Cadet Unit at Orpington was named TS Whirlwind after the second HMS Whirlwind.

Commanding Officers

Cdr Reginald St. P. Parry (27 February, 1918 – 20 February, 1919)
Lt Cdr Brian C. Gourley (20 February, 1919 – August, 1919)
Lt Cdr William A. C. Salmond (Aug. 1919 – 21 March 1921) 
            committed suicide aboard (gunshot)
Lt Cdr Thomas C. A. H. Ouchterlony (April, 1921 – 3 May 1923)
Lt Cdr Ivan B. Colvin (April 1923 – 5 May, 1925)
Lt Cdr Donal Scott McGrath RN (2 May 1925 - Jan 1926)
 Lt Cdr Gerald M. McKenna (Dec. 1925– 6 May, 1926)
Lt Cdr John D. Harvey (1 May, 1926  – 10 December, 1927)
Lt Cdr Henry Clanchy (29 March 1928 – 1929)
Lt Cdr Francis S. W. de Winton (2 Dec. 1929  – 30 Dec. 1931)
Lt Cdr Richard E. Hyde-Smith (31 Dec. 1931 -

Wartime CO's
Lt.Cdr. Michael Wentworth Ewart-Wentworth, RN (15 June - 10 Oct 1939)
Lt.Cdr. John Malcolm Rodgers, RN (10 Oct 1939  - 5 Jul 1940)
ship lost under his command

Officers

Lt C.R. Box RN (23 May - 5 July 1940)
Lt Surg J. Carrick RNVR (12 Feb - 5 July 1940)
Sub Lt V.W. Chacksfield (8 Jan - 5 July 1940)
Cd Eng D.G.B. Cock RN (8 Feb 1937 - 5 July 1940)
Sub Lt D.S. Cox RNR (14 Dec 1939 - 5 July 1940)
Gunner (T) L. Davis RN (8 June 1939 - 5 July 1940)
Sub Lt R.D. Hamilton-Bate RN (15 June 1939 - 5 July 1940)
Mid E.A. Hamilton RN (29 Aug 1939 - 5 July 1940)
Lt Henry E.P. Wilkin RN (1 June 1939 - 5 July 1940)

Former Full Members of the V & W Destroyer Assoociation
P. Goodrich (Worcester), J. Stokes (Westgate on Sea, Kent)

The Training Ship of the Sea Cadet Unit at Orpington is TS
Whirlwind
When the V & W Destroyer Association was dissolved in April 2017 its funds were distributed to the eight Sea Cadet Units with Training Ships named after a V & W Class destroyer

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

HMS Whirlwind at IJmuiden in the Netherlands
HMS Whirlwind (D30) at IJmuiden in the Netherlands between the wars
Courtesy of Netherlands Institute of Military History


Collisions with submarines

In the 1920s collisions between warships and submarines operating on the surface in close proximity to each other were not uncommon. Submarines were particularly vulnerable when surfacing. The low profile of a surfaced submarine made it difficult to spot and visibility from the conning tower of a submarine was limited even in good sea conditions.

In June 1922 the submarine H24 was operating wiith the 3rd Submarine Flotilla based at Portsmouth with HMS Maidstone as her depot ship was rammed by HMS  Vancouver whilst submerged during exercises.  The Conning tower was badly damaged and although the Vancouver left part of one of her screws embedded in the junction of the conning-tower and the pressure hull there were no breaches. HMS Whirlwind was able to rescue the crew and there were no casualties. HMS Vancouver was renamed HMS Vimy in 1928.

Three months earlier on 23 March 1922, HMS Versatile, a sister ship of Whirlwind and Vancouver,  was steaming off Europa Point, Gibraltar, at 20 knots with other destroyers while British submarines practiced attacks on them. The submarine H42 surfaced unexpectedly ahead of her. Versatile went full speed astern  and put her helm over hard to port, but rammed H42 abaft the conning tower, almost slicing the submarine in half. H42 sank with the loss of all hands. An investigation found H42 at fault for surfacing where she did against instructions. HMS Versatile was also quite badly damaged and underwent repairs at Gibraltar.

On 10 January 1924, while conducting training exercises in the English Channel, the  Revenge Class Battleship, HMS Resolution ran into and sank the Britis h submarine HMS L24 as she was surfacing, damaging her bow in the collision. Crewmen aboard Resolution reported feeling a shock at 11:13, but they were unaware that they had struck the submarine; it became clear later that day when the fleet returned to port and L24 was found to be missing. The submarine was sunk with the loss of all hands. The report of the enquiry into the loss of L24 can be seen in the National Archives, ADM 116/2250.

The first  British warship to be lost in World War II was the submarine, HMS Oxley, torpedoed and sunk by submarine, HMS Triton on 10 December 1939. The CO of Oxley, Lt Cdr Harold G Bowerman, was one of only two survivors.  The circumstances of her loss were deliberately kept a mystery for many years but are described in detail in the Australian  Naval Historical Review. Bowerman was cleared and went on to command four destroyers. HMS Triton was lost with all hands in the Adriatic in December 1940, the cause never fully established.

Captain of the Heads, 1938

The situation in Europe was becoming rather volatile. Germany had already began rearming at an alarming rate and was producing U-boats as fast as possible and also producing bomber and fighter aircraft, all contrary to previous international treaties and conditions and so led to my introduction to the V&Ws.

At about 0200 on a Saturday in September 1938 I was sleeping in my hammock in 5GG mess R.N.B. Chatham when I was aroused by someone switching on the lights. It was an R.P.O, who was calling out  a list of names and asking each one "Can you ride a Bike?" On receiving an affirmative, he was instructed to report to the main gate where he would be sent round on a bicycle delivering call up messages to reservists in the Medway. One wit, hoping perhaps to avoid the task replied "No", only to be told to report to the main gate where he would have to walk round delivering call up messages.

Before switching off the lights the R.P.O. informed us that, due to the Munich crisis the Fleet was being mobilised, and that most of us would be drafted to ships that day. So much for the short week end leave that I was expecting. That day in the barracks was one of watching and waiting. Watching the huge notice boards that had been placed in the drill shed and trying to find out which ship you had been sent to. I eventually found my name,  I was posted to Whirlwind, a V&W destroyer. It was then a question of waiting, waiting until about 1600 hrs when, after much hanging around, we were marched to the dockyard to join Whirlwind. I was then an AB SG and was allocated to number two mess, top division, trainer of 'B' gun, and "Captain of the Heads" (toilets), a very privileged job, or so I thought until I saw them. They were in a terrible state and to put it crudely stunk! The ship had been in reserve for many years and I do not think that any work had been done in the heads during that time.

The first night we stored ship and the following day went to Shore Reach to ammunition.  We then went to Portsmouth and spent the next few days at sea doing all the commissioning exercises.   Whenever possible I worked in the Heads, and got them up to a reasonable standard to satisfy myself and the chief of the mess decks. One bonus was that I had my own "Caboosh". There were two toilets marked, C.& P.O's and a third one with no marking. I decided that this one was spare and I rigged up a nice little den for myself with photographs, a line for my dhobying and other personal items. I had the best caboosh in the ship. Alas it came to an end one day whilst at sea when the Captain appeared in the galley flat and asked where his sea heads was. It was my caboosh. He naturally exploded when he opened the door and saw my dhobying hanging there. That was it for me. I lost my Captaincy and was back working part of ship.

The commission only lasted for about a month, following Neville Chamberlain's return from Munich waving a piece of paper saying "Peace in our time". We paid off and it was back to R.N.B.

HMS Whirlwind was a popular ship - with the Ladies!

Perhaps it was the name which attracted the ladies but HMS Whirlwind had been "adopted" twice before the Admiralty launched its Warship Weeks National Savings programme for the adoption of warships.

The Somerset Guardian on 21 December 1939 reported on the success of a Whist Drive at the Bell Hotel in Radstock, Somerset, to raise money for a "Comforts Fund" and ended with this quote from a letter received from the Stokers Mess in HMS Whirlwind:

"We write to thank you all, on behalf of the stokers' mess mess deck of this ship for your kindness and thoughtfullness is sending us the woolen comforts. We can honestly say that just a plain letter and a few words of thanks cannot show our appreciation enough. We remain your Stoker Pals.  4 Mess, HMS Whirlwind."

The "Casualty List" below includes the names of nine stokers who were killed when Whirlwind was lost.

HMS
Whirlwind (D30) was also adopted by St. Leonard’s Mother’s Union in Bridgnorth, Shropshire,  six months before she was torpedoed and sunk on 5 July 1940 with 57 men killed:

Evening Despatch, Wednesday 10 July 1940 – Mothers Union Loses Adopted Destroyer: News of the sinking of the destroyer Whirlwind has been received with deep regret at Bridgnorth, where St. Leonard’s Mother’s Union six months ago adopted Whirlwind.  At that time is understood that St. Leonard’s Mother’s Union was the first organisation of its kind to adopt a destroyer. During the intervening period monthly consignments of comforts have been despatched, and as recently as last Saturday two parcels were sent.

The loss of HMS Whirlwind (D30)

Officers serving in HMS Whirlwind when she was torpedoed, from the Navy List, June 1940
On the 5th July 1940 HMS Whirlwind together with HMS Westcott were ordered to carry out a U-boat hunt off Lands End, whilst doing this the Whirlwind was torpedoed and badly damaged by U-34 some 120 miles off Lands End. U-34 reported that the forepart broke off, sinking immediately, while the rest of the ship stayed afloat. After HMS Westcott rescued the survivors (57 men were killed and 57 of the crew of 114 rescued)  she had to be sunk by gunfire from Westcott who returned to Falmouth with the survivors.

The official report into the loss of HMS Whirlwind (ADM 358/3705) is in the National Archives at Kew. The Enquiry will be added to this website when the National Archives reopens but in the meantime we would welcome first hand descriptions of her loss from the families of survivors and the men in HMS Westcott.

The names of the officers (on right) is from the June issue of the quarterly issue of the Naval List. Her CO, Lt Cdr John M. Rodgers RN had commanded HMS Whitehall from December 1934 to February 1936 and in 1942 - 3 would command two more V & W Class destroyers, HMS Watchman and HMS Vesper.

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

Tom Chapman gave this vivid first hand account of the loss of HMS Whirlwind in his book  Water, water, Everywhere: the Life story of HMS Westcott:

"After taking on food ad provisions at Devonport, we were sent out on a submarine chase with our sister ship, HMS Whirlwind. We travelled west, about ten miles apsrt, toards Lands End, sweeping the sea with our Asdics as we went. About 120 miles off Lands End Whirlwind was torpedoed. Racing to the scene we found her with her bows blown off. Oil was everywhere and mnen were walking around in a daze trying to tend the injured. The ship had lost all power and was floundering in the water. She was in a worse state than the Eskimo at Narvik.

Going alongside we took off her survivors. Her skipper - Lt.Cdr. John Malcolm Rodgers, RN - had been blown from the bridge to the deck below and his head was covered ith bandages. It was obvious he was suffering from shock and did not know what he was doing. After searching for more men, we lay the dead on the deck of Whirlwind by the torpedo tubes and covered them with blankets. Twenty-nine had been killed. Twenty had gone wth the bow of the ship and the remainder lay lay on her deck. Our skipper - Lt Cdr William Francis Rodrick Segrave, RN - asked the skipper of Whirlwind what should be done with the weck. They decided between them to sink it. So standing off a thousand yards, we began to shell her. After firing about  twenty rounds of 4" armour piercing shells and only scoring two or three hits, it was decided to torpedo her. The gallant torpedo crew went to their stations and trained their tubes outboard. When the sights lined up, we fired and calmly awaited the big bang. Closely watching the wake of the torpedo we could see it was going to miss. Some said that the torpedo went round in a circle heading  back towards us, but I never saw it.

What with the gunnery and torpedo crews missing a standing target,  each jeering the other, I was glad I was not involved; it was so pathetic. Again, the guns started firing, this time with more success, hitting Whirlwind and creating a fire on the after superstructure. It still would not go down. It was as if some mysterious hand was holding it up. Another torpdo was fired. After waiting for wht seemed like ages, HMS Whilrlwind went up in a flash and down to the deep. Standing alongside me, by  the torpedo tubes, was the Chief Stoker off the Whirlwind. He was in tears. Part of his life was going beneath the waves - with maybe a friend or two laid out on her quarter deck.

Searching awhile for the U-boat and getting no Asdic contact we left, heading for Falmouth with the survivors. On our way back we asked what had happened. It seems they had got a contact on the U-boat and went into the attack. At the same time the U-boat fired a torpedo at them. The lad I was talking to said there was an almighty explosion and the next thing he saw was the bows of the ship going past him, slowly sinking as they went. He remembered seeing all the hammocks which were slung in the mess going down with her - a macabre sight. After disembarking the injured at Falmouth we returned to Devonport. The rest of the crew were sent to HMS Drake, the barracks fior Devonport ratings."

Casualty List

ABEL, Jack, Stoker 1c, RFR, C/KX 75536 D 156, killed
BALLARD, George, Able Seaman, RFR, C/J 99895 B 22607, killed
BARNES, Henry G, Ordinary Seaman, RNVR, C/LD/X 5134, killed
BARTON, William C, Able Seaman, RFR, C/J 108614, killed
BLACK, Thomas B, Stoker 2c, P/KX 97334, killed
BRANCH, Albert G, Chief Engine Room Artificer 2c, C/M 26911, killed
BRIDGER, George C, Able Seaman, RFR, C/J 103229 D 488, killed
BROWN, Thomas, Leading Sick Berth Attendant, RNASBR, C/X 6201, killed
BURDETT, Alfred N R, Able Seaman, RFR, C/J 99895, killed
CHILDS, Frederick A, Able Seaman, C/JX 135524, killed
CLENDINNING, David, Able Seaman, RFR, C/SSX 13199 B 23700, killed
COLE, William, Able Seaman, RFR, C/SS 11288 D 982, killed
COOMBER, Frank W J, Able Seaman, RFR, C/J 55345 D 1186, killed
COWDEROY, Leonard, Able Seaman, RFR, C/J 103960 D 378, killed
COX, Arthur H, Able Seaman, RFR, C/J 102131 D 586, killed
CRAWFORD, Victor C, Able Seaman, RFR, C/J 115215, killed
DALE, Thomas E, Able Seaman, RFR, C/J 87997 D 1490, killed
DAVIS, Arthur W, Able Seaman, RFR, C/J 99658 D 696, killed
DOWLING, Reginald V, Ordinary Seaman, RNVR, C/LD/X 5094, killed
DUNKLEY, Leslie T, Signalman, RFR, C/J 106206 D 266, killed
FLOYD, William J, Able Seaman, RFR, C/J 11443, killed
GAHAGON, James, Stoker 1c, RFR, C/K 62415 D 396, killed
GARSTIN, William P B, Leading Stoker, C/K 61782, killed
GOULD, Arthur E, Able Seaman, RFR, C/J 97291, killed
GOULDEN, John L, Able Seaman, RFR, C/SSX 12591 D 556, killed
HAYNES, George W, Stoker Petty Officer, C/K 21829 Pens No 24033, killed
HILL, Frederick, Ordinary Seaman, C/SSX 30260, killed
HILLS, Robert J, Canteen Manager, NAAFI, killed
HUTCHINS, Arthur E, Telegraphist, RFR, C/J 89818 D 690, killed
LONDON, Gilbert I, Stoker 1c, C/KX 90467, killed
MARTIN, Arthur C, Signalman, RFR, C/J 77527 D 1090, killed
MARTIN, George J, Able Seaman, RFR, C/SS 10929 D 1004, killed
MCMILLAN, Norman, Seaman, RNR, C/X 10685 B, killed
MILES, Percy T N, Able Seaman, RFR, C/J 103089 D 346, killed
MORRISON, Sydney G, Stoker 1c, C/KX 83363, killed
NICHOLSON, George F, Able Seaman, RFR, C/J 105788 D 318, killed
NIX, Cyril, Assistant Cook, C/MX 60818, killed
PARKER, Edward F, Able Seaman, RFR, C/SS 10133 D 1028, killed
PAYNE, John C, Able Seaman, RFR, C/SS 10296 D 324, killed
PIMM, William G, Able Seaman, RFR, C/SSX 13381, killed
PORTER, Thomas, Able Seaman, RFR, C/J 101017 D508, killed
RABBITT, Herbert J, Engine Room Artificer 1c, C/M 7828 Pens No 7828, killed
RALPH, William G, Chief Petty Officer, C/J 32354 Pens No 13643, killed
RIPLEY, Harry G, Able Seaman, RFR, C/SSX 12511 D 1498, killed
ROBERTS, Alfred J, Stoker 1c, C/K 65345, killed
SMITH, Alfred T F, Able Seaman, RFR, C/J 110164 D 110, killed
SQUIRES, Reginald H G, Able Seaman, C/JX 148209, killed
STACEY, Ronald W, Able Seaman, RFR, C/J 108472 D 228, killed
STREATFIELD, John, Able Seaman, RFR, C/J 97386 D 490, killed
TASKER, Frank, Able Seaman, RFR, C/J 100589 D438, killed
THORNDYCROFT, Arthur, Petty Officer Cook, C/M 36009 Pens No 11636, killed
WAITE, Frederick J W, Able Seaman, RFR, C/J 96345 D 640, killed
WELCH, Spencer M, Able Seaman, RFR, C/J 109700 D 1558, killed
WHITE, George C, Able Seaman, RFR, C/SS 8126 D 1544, killed
WRIGHT, William H, Able Seaman, C/SSX 18820, killed
YEOMANS, Edward T, Stoker 1c, RFR, C/KX 75124 D 190, killed


The second HMS Whirlwind (R87)

The second HMS Whirlwind, was one of five warships ordered under the War Emergency Programme in December 1941 which adopted names previously  used by V & W Class destroyers which had been sunk. She was not completed until July 1944 and served with the British Pacific Fleet. After the war Whirlwind was  a boys training ship at Rosyth from 1947-8. In 1952-3 she was converted into a Type 15 fast anti-submarine frigate with the new pennant number F187. In December 1962 Whirlwind was at Bermuda during the talks between Harold Macmillan and President John F. Kennedy which allowed Britain to purchase Polaris nuclear-armed missiles. Whirlwind's crew provided security for the meeting while the ship formed a communications link for the Ministry of Defence. She was placed on the disposal list in 1966 and foundered at her moorings in Cardigan Bay on 29 October 1974 while in use as a target ship.

"Reaping a Whirlwind"

The Thanet towns of Ramsgate, Margate, Broadstairs and St Peter's in South East Kent were very proud of the S Class destroyer HMS Thanet, which evacuated Hong Kong on 8 December 1941.  During the Japanese assault on Singapore on 26  January 1942, HMS Thanet and HMS Vampire, a V & W in the Australian Navy, attacked a strong Japanese invasion force at Endau.  HMS Thanet was sunk with heavy loss of life the next day.

Although Thanet was no longer an island the Thanet towns had a strong sense of identity and threw themselves into efforts to raise the money for building a new HMS Thanet during their Warships Week of March 1942, raising between them just over 400,000. As reported in the Thanet Advertiser on 1 May 1942 the Admiralty "reaped a Whirlwind" when they offered the Thanet towns HMS Whirlwind and told them there were no plans to build a second HMS Thanet. The outcome of this controversy is still in doubt but at present it is thought that the Thanet towns did not adopt a ship despite raising such a large sum. It is believed that HMS Whirlwind was adopted by the New Forest Urban District in Hampshire; until further evidence is found recording the adoption this can not be safely assumed.

TS Whirlwind

Less controversial, was the adoption by Orpington Sea Cadet Unit of Whirlwind as the name of its Training Ship (TS) since the second HMS Whirlwind was a boys training ship at Rosyth from 1947-8. TS Whirlwind, Sea Cadet Unit 262, is based in St Mary's Cray in Bromley, South East London, north of Orpington. It was formed in 1942 and named TS Attack after the Acheron Class destroyer, HMS Attack (1911) which was torpedoed off Alexandia on 30 December 1917. It changed the name of its  Training Ship to TS Whirlwind in 1952 when it moved to its present site.

HMS Whirlwind (R87)
After conversion to a Type 15 fast anti-submarine frigate with the new pennant number F187.

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


If you have stories or photographs of HMS Whirlwind you would like to contribute to the web site please contact Bill Forster



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