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

Trial of Thorneycroft Long Range Depth Charge Thrower on HMS Whitehall 19451
Loading a depth charge into Thorneycroft's  experimental long-range six-barrelled depth charge projector aboard HMS Whitehall in July 1941 (IWM A 4667)
It was more commonly known as the "five wide virgins"

HMS Whitehall (D94) was built by Swan Hunter at Wallsend on the Tyne but after launch in September 1918 work was suspended, and she was the last of the V & W Class destroyers to be completed on  9 July 1924 when she was assigned to the Fourth Destroyer Flotilla in the Mediterranean.

She served with the 4DF in the Mediterranean until she joined the 8th Destroyer Flotilla of V & Ws on the China Station in 1932.
HMS Whitehall and her sister V & Ws swopped ships' companies with the modern D Class destroyers of the 1st DF at Singapore in December 1934 and took over the duties of 1DF  in the Mediterranean. In 1936 she was put in Reserve at Chatham.

HMS Whitehall was recommissioned in time for the Royal Review of the Reserve Fleet by King George VI in Weymouth Bay in August 1939. When war was declared on 3 September she joined the 15 DF at Rosyth but in December transferred to Western Approaches Command escorting convoys to Gibraltar. After the German Blitzkrieg of the Low Countries on 10 May 1940 she joined the destroyers at Dover supporting the troops ashore and from 26 May was assigned to Operation Dynamo, the evacution of the BEF from Dunkirk. Between the 29 May and the 1 June she made five trips to the beaches and North Mole at Dunkirk and brought back 3, 453 troops. Soon after midday on 1 June Whitehall spotted HMS Basalisk aground off Bray Dunes badly damaged by bombing, embarked her men and fired her torpedoes to sink her.The evecuation of the BEF is described below by her CO  Lt Cdr A.B. Russell in his  RoP and filmed by Lt Philip R. Hall RN.

After repair at Plymouth and three months with the Harwich Defence Force to counter the anticipated invasion she joined the 8th Escort Group at Liverpool in September escorting Atlantic Convoys. On 18 October 1940 Convoy HX.79 was attacked by
five u-boats which sunk twelve merchant ships without loss. In July Whitehall carried out trials of the unsuccessful five-barrelled Thorneycroft Mortar (above) which was succeeded by the "Hedgehog" forward throwing Mortar. Whitehall reumed North Atlantic convoy escort duties at Liverpool until February 1942. when she transferred to the Mediterranean.

From February 1942 Whitehall  was based at Gibraltar as part of the escort for the carriers HMS Argus and Eagle transporting aircraft for the defence of Malta. In April she returned to the UK and was converted to a Long Range Escort (LRE) at Sheerness and fitted with the Type 271 RDF and Type 286P air warning radar. In September she  escorted the 1st Minelaying Squadron laying mines in the Northern Barrage from Orkney to Faroe Islands and Iceland before resuming Atlantic escort duties with the 2nd Escort Group, escorting Convoy ONS 138 from Liverpool to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Whitehall was adopted by Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, after
a successful Warships Week National Savings campaign in 1942. Whitehall continued escorting Atlantic Convoys until November 1943.

From November 1943 until 
February 1945 she was part of the close escort for Arctic Convoys from Loch Ewe to Murmansk on the Kola Inlet in North Russia. In December 1943  Whitehall and Wrestler were part of the escort for northbound Convoy JW.55B. Scharnhorst put to sea and was sunk at the Battle of the North Cape on 26 December and JW.55B arrived at the Kola Inlet without loss.

In April 1944 Whitehall was part of a strong escort which headed north without a convoy to escort the empty ships bringing back the American crew of the USS Milwaukee and 2,300 Soviet sailors to collect the warships promised to the USSR (Operation FZ) in lieu of their share of the captured Italian Fleet at the Teheran Conference. The escorts arrived safely  but the return convoy RA.59 lost the American  Liberty Ship, William S Thayer, which was torpedoed, on the eve of the May Day Holiday, between Bear Island and North Cape
. The Report of Proceedings of HMS Whitehall contains the names of ther 21 survivors she rescued and can be read as a PDF. The survivors rescued by HMS Walker were photographed by Albert Foulser. The story of Senior Lieutenant Valentin Aleksandrovich Martinov, a submariner in the Soviet Navy, rescued by HMS Whitehall who died from exposure and was buried at sea will be published on this site with some remarkable Russian photographs supplied by his family.

From 7 - 27 June HMS Whitehall  escorted convoys from Milford Haven to the Normandy beaches and then resumed to escorting Arctic Convoys to the Kola Inlet. In August she was part of the escort for JW59 which included  the Former HMS Royal Sovereign (renamed Archangelesk but nicknamed the "Royal Rouble"), nine Town Class dertroyers, four former RN submarines and eleven USN submarine chasers and their Russian crews transferred to the Northern Fleet of the USSR. In September 1944 she transferred to North Atlantic convoy duties for three months before returning to escorting Arctic Convoys in January 1945.

was decommissioned  in May 1945 and placed on the disposal list after the surrender of Japan on 15 August 1945. She was sold to the British Iron & Steel Corporation (BISCO) in October and broken up for scrap at Thos W Ward's yard at Barrow-in-Furness on 27 October 1945.

Commanding Officers - derived from and the Dreadnought Project

Cdr Charles A. Fremantle, RN (28 May 1917 – 20 March, 1919)
Lt Cdr Henry E. Horan, 23 March, RN (1924 – 9 August, 1924)
Lt Cdr Frederick A. P. Foster, 9 August, RN (1924 – 1 April, 1926)
Lt Cdr Samuel A. Brooks, RN (1 April, 1926 -
Lt Cdr Robert H. D. Lane, RN (9 April, 1928 - 6 May 1930)
Lt Cdr RN Frederick R. G. Maunsell, RN (23 October, 1931 -
Lt Cdr Godfrey N. Brewer, RN (February, 1933 -
Lt Cdr John M. Rodgers, RN (17 December, 1934 -
Lt.Cdr. Archibald Boyd Russell, RN (31 Jul 1939 - early 1942)
Lt.Cdr. Robert Sydney Stafford, RN (7 Jul 1942 - 8 Oct 1942)
Cdr. Charles Leigh de Hauteville Bell, RD, RNR (8 Oct 1942 - 1 Nov 1943)
Lt.Cdr. Patrick James Cowell, DSC, RN (1 Nov 1943 - 21 Oct 1944)
Lt. John Monroe, RN (21 Oct 1944 - mid 1945)


Lt Surg. J.G. Brown RNVR (23 Jan 1940 -
Lt A.D.P. Campbell RN (31 July 1939 -
Gunner(T) S.W.H. Cousins RN (24 July 1939 -
Lt E.B. Davies RN (27 July 1945 -
Lt(E) D.C. Duggan RNR (6 April 1944 -
Sub Lt. J.W. Endicott RN (31 July 1939 -
Sub Lt E. Evans RNVR (22 July 1942 -
Lt Surg G.C. Foster-Smith RNVR (16 Aug 1943 -
Lt Dennis G.D. Hall-Wright RN (April - June 1938)
Lt  Philip Roderick Hall RN (8 Jan 1940 -)
Sub Lt F.K. Longworth (22 Juky 1942 -
Cd Eng. S.G.S. Morrell RN (18 July 1938 -
Sub Lt R.M.J. O'Connor RNZNVR (9 Aug 1943 -
Lt Donald W. Radcliffe RN ( 22 August - Oct 1944)
Mid H.F.G. Sheppard RNR (26 Jan 1940 -
Gunner(T) W.T. Simms RN (28 Feb 1943 -
Lt R.H. Wade RNVR (8  April 1943 -
Sub Lt (E) F.D. Wolever RCNVR (16 Sept 1943 -

Former Full Members of the V & W Destroyer Assoociation
W. Bretton DSM (Guernsey), J. Butcher (London), E. Harrison (Kingston-on-Thames), W. A. Jones (Benfleet, Essex), D. Lancaster (Bradford, West Yorkshire), R. Simmonds (Billericay, Essex)

Please get in touch if you knew these man or have a family member who served in HMS Whitehall

Rare film of the evacuation of the troops from Dunkirk taken by
Lt Philip Roderick Hall RN in HMS Whitehall

This rare, almost unique film of the evacuation of the troops from Dunkirk was taken from HMS Whitehall by Lt Philip Roderick Hall RN and has been made available for viewing on YouTube by the University of Manchester.  The young officer who took this film was killed by "friendly fire" while serving in the Fleet Air Arm on 14 June 1942. It is hoped that it will be possible to provide more details of his life on this website.

Original Film Format: 16mm, 2 reels; Original Dimensions: Footage: 611 ft; Running time: 15 mins. Reel 1 is mainly filmed aboard HMS Whitehall and has a running time of 11 minutes 23 seconds and includes the film taken at Dunkirk. The films were digitised by the North West Film Archive in 2013, and the original reels subsequently transferred to the Imperial War Museum, London (ref. KAY 1974). DVD copies have been placed in the Heald-Hall Family Papers at the John Rylands Library, University of Manchester.

The University of Manchester has kindly uploaded it to YouTube where it can be viewed by clicking on this link.
the photographs below are all stills from the film

Dunkirk, oil fires burnung and lighthouse at harbour entrance

Letter from Sgt G H Kelly of Cheltenham about his rescue from Dunkirk by HMS Whitehall to the Editor of Gloucesterhire Echo, 16 April 1944Reel 1 (total length 11 mins 23 secs):
Bow and stern views from on board the Modified W-Class destroyer HMS Whitehall (D 94), pitching and rolling through heavy seas, with another two-funnelled destroyer signalling on the horizon.

(2 mins 26 secs)
In calmer waters, sailors on board HMS Whitehall (nameplate partially visible) manhandle on deck and then test fire depth-charges, which hit the sea without detonating.

(4 mins 7 secs)
Pan along the empty mole at Dunkirk, with distinctive diagonal trusses and ladders improvised to allow evacuating British and French troops to reach decks of small vessels previously alongside (but not seen on film), with a sunken armed trawler in the foreground.

(4 mins 12 secs)
On board HMS Whitehall, during one of her four voyages back to Dover, 30 May – 1 June 1940, during Operation Dynamo; starboard view aft shows the deck packed with BEF soldiers all wearing helmets and with anti-aircraft guns elevated against German air attack.

(4 mins 20 secs)
Another destroyer, HMS Wolsey (L 02) passes, her deck packed with evacuated troops.

(4 mins 29 secs)
The camera pans across fires and smoke over Dunkirk town, with the distinctive white and striped lighthouse in the background and the rapid passage of arriving and departing destroyers, and one Cross-Channel ferry, assisting in the evacuation.

(4 mins 58 secs)
A destroyer fires her rear anti-aircraft armament, and another appears so low in the water as to be sinking or aground. (5 mins 4 secs)

(5 mins 5 secs)
Convoy of tankers and other vessels at sea off the south coast of England, protected overhead by Avro Ansons of RAF 48 Squadron (planes O, R and B) of Coastal Command, which make repeated passes over the camera ship, as does a Short Sunderland flying boat.

(6 mins 43 secs)
A destroyer approaches and transfers a sack by jackstay.

(7 mins 2 secs)
In calm seas, junior naval officers lark around on deck for the camera; Lieut. Roderick Hall and another unidentified officer then practise their golf shots by driving golf balls into the sea. Larking continues. Roderick Hall reads a book.

(8 mins 29 secs)

A whaler is lowered into the sea and is rowed across to a merchant ship, which has halted, then returns and is raised on davits.

(9 mins 21 secs)
Passing HMS Calcutta (D 82) at sea as she returns to Plymouth bearing on her bow part of the bridge structure of HMCS Fraser, following their collision at night during the evacuation from France on 25 June 1940. Passing HMS Calcutta, now berthed at dockside at Devonport, awaiting removal of the bridge structure of HMCS Fraser.

(9 mins 40 secs)
Sunken vessel in foreground, and a convoy in the distance.

(9 mins 52 secs)
A whaler pulls alongside Admiralty V and W Class destroyer HMS Wessex (D 43) [which was sunk on 25 May 1940], with a torpedo slung on davit, then returns to HMS Whitehall with the torpedo, which is hauled aboard with its fuse still smoking.

(10 mins 38 secs)
Off-duty, two junior RN officers enjoy the company of two young women in a sports car; playing in a small swimming pool with a lilo, onto which the men place a reluctant black labrador to their obvious amusement.

The "Letter to the Editor" on the right was published in the Gloucesterhire Echo on the 16 April 1944
Cheltenaham adopted HMS Legion after a successful "Warships Week" in November 1941 but after she was sunk in March 1942 she was "replaced" by Whitehall
Find out more about Warships Week in Cheltenham and the adoption of HMS Whitehall

After Dunkirk, Lieut. Roderick Hall was posted to HMS Daedalus for Fleet Air Arm training, then No 14 Flying Training School at RAF Elmdon for elementary flying, then No 1 Flying Training School at RAF Netheravon for advanced flying, HMS Heron (Yeovilton) for a fighter course in July 1941, DLT (Deck Landing Training) on HMS Argus, then posting to 807 Squadron on HMS Ark Royal in October 1941.

Reel 2 is much shorter and covers his training with the Fleet Air Arm.

The sequences showing practice deck landings on HMS Argus, hooking onto the landing arrestor wire, is of particular interest.

He was killed in action on 14 June 1942, flying a Fairy Fulmar Mark II from HMS Argus to provide air cover for a Malta convoy.
His plane was damaged whilst engaging with Italian torpedo bombers, and as he attempted a forced land at sea, he was hit by ‘friendly fire’ from HMS

A whaler was launched - still from film by Lt Philip F Hall RN
A still from Reel 1 of the film taken by Lt Phillip F Hall RN from HMS Whitehall
A whaler is lowered into the sea and is rowed across to a merchant ship, which has halted, then returns and is raised on davits (8 mins 29 secs)

Summary of the Report of Proceedings on
The Evacuation of Troops from Dunkirk
Lt Cdr Archibald Boyd Russell, CO of HMS Whitehall
Lt Cdr Russell wrote his ROP at Plymouth on 4 June 1940.
The official number of troops brought back by HMS Whitehall (H94) on her five trips to Dunkirk was 3,453

Nay List for HMS Whitehall, May 1940
Officers listed in the May 1940 issue of the Navy List

29 May

Sailed Plymouth 0700/29 May
Arrived Dover 1900/29

30 May

0130/30 to Dunkirk by Route X, arr 0510. Embarked 600 troops and survivors from King Orry
0550/30 to Dover by Route X, arr 0950.

1120 to Dunkirk by Route Z, arr 1350. Princes Maud, about 2 miles astern was heavily engaged by shore batteries ofr bombing.
At 1415 entered Dunkirk Harbour, and embarked 800 troops. Returned Dover by Route X, arr 1900. Fuelled.

31 May

0025/31 to Dunkirk with Venomous by Route Z, arr 0300. En route fouled sunken wreckage between No 13 and No 14 Buoys.
0330 SNO Dunkirk ordered Whitehall into harbour, but unable to comply as fouled Stbd screw put Stbd engine out of action, making manoeuvring too risky. At 0415 Stbd screw cleared itself and entered harbour.
Embarked 1300 troops and returned to Dover via Route X, arr 0815/31. Little bombing was seen but Dunkirk was under artillery fire.

0950 to Dunkirk via Route X, arr 1250.
1315 stood by Impulsive aground on wreck off N 10 E Buoy. Impulsive cleared at 1400, and Whitehall proceeded to Bray. There were ample destroyers there and at La Panne so proceeded to Dunkirk at 1530. SNO ordered Whitehall to wait, and she meanwhile embarked 12 French troops by Whaler. Bombing was intermittent throughout the afternoon.

1710 40 – 50 Stukas overhead.

1717 attacks on Whitehall and Ivanhoe waiting outside with delayed action bombs.
A near miss 30 yards on the Stbd Bow burst abeam, putting the Asdic and range finder out of action.

1830 entered harbour and berthed alongside Winchelsea.
Armed Yacht Grive (Hon G I Lambton) came alongside. Two minesweepers, Venomous and drifters were berthed on wall to seaward of Whitehall.

During embarkation at 1910 Dive Bombers and Fighters appeared in the Northeast. Whitehall ordered Grive to slip and Wnchelsea to follow Whitehall out. Grive left followed by Venomous, Whitehall (going astern) and Winchelsea. Grive stopped just outside and Venomous just managed to avoid her. Grive went ahead and although Whitehall stopped engines, she could not check the ship’s way as Winchelsea was following, Grive collided with  Whitehall’s Port quarter. The after superstructure was damaged and the side was holed in the vicinity of the Wardroom and Provision room.

The enemy bombers were engaged by all guns, and Whitehall’s after group shot one down.
Venomous and Grive left the roads at full speed. Whitehall reentered harbour at 2000 and embarked 700 troops, returning to Dover via Route X at  0045/1.

1 June

After fuelling and embarking High Angle ammunition Whitehall sailed for Dunkirk at 0830/1, via Route Y on advice of Windsor.

At 1223 the ship was at Michaliel Kerke Bay. Sighted Baselisk aground off Bray, and embarked her ship’s company by boats and Carley Floats, apart from those in a whaler and French drifter which could not be reached due to depth of water.

At 1310 Whitehall set Baselisk on fire by gunnery and fired four torpedoes, one of which is believed to have hit. Under intermittent fire from a small calibre shore gun. After consultation with CO Baselisk, sailed for Dover at 1340, arriving 1740.

Continued to Plymouth with
Baselisk survivors, arriving 1115/2.

The North Mole
If you want to find out more about the wartime service of a member of your family who served on HMS Whitehall you should first obtain a copy of their service record
To find out how follow this link:
If you have stories or photographs of HMS Whitehall you would like to contribute to the web site please contact Bill Forster

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