HMS Whitehall after her conversion into a Long Range
Escort (LRE) in 1942 by removing a boiler to free up space for more fuel
She lost her "Woodbine", her tall thin front funnel, along with the
V & W Class Destroyers and Arctic
About one third of the V & W
Class destroyers were converted to Long Range Escorts (LRE) by removing
one of their boilers to free up more space for fuel oil to extend their
range at the cost of speed. The aim was to enable them to complete an
Atlantic crossing without refueling at Havelfjord in Iceland or being
refueled at sea by Royal Fleet Auxilliary (RFA) tankers ("oilers"). The
distance is sea miles from Glasgow to Murmansk in Northern Russia was
six hundred miles less that an Atlantic crossing from Liverpool to
Halifax in Nova Scotia, Canada, but still exceeded the range of a V
& W Class destroyer. Despite this more than half the V & Ws
which formed part of the close escort for Arctic Convoys were
The RFA did not have the capacity
to refuel all the escorts for convoys and the Trade Division of the
Admiralty chartered commercial tankers as escort oilers. They were
built as conventional oil tankers not as "oilers" and had to be adopted
and the merchant seamen who manned them had to be trained. They also
carried a normal commercial load of oil which was discharged on arrival
at Murmank or Molotovsk (now Severodvinsk), the deepwater port for
Archangel in the White Sea.
The table lists the V & W Class destroyers which escorted one or
more Arctic Convoys in the left hand column with links to pages about
these convoys on the website of the V & W Destroyer Association. Where no link is provided there is no page about
Arctic convoys on that ship's website. The return convoys will be added
later. The top row
gives the code for convoys escorted by V & Ws with links to
details of these convoys on the convoyweb and warsailors sites. If your
family has photographs, letters, journals or stories by a man who
served on these destroyers while escorting Arctic Convoys please get in
touch by e-mailing
To complete the links to Arctic convoys on Convoyweb select the convoy from the left hand column (return convoys will be added later)
A further source worth checking is www.naval-history.net (NHN) - links
are only given where there are significant differences from Convoyweb
(CW) and Warsailors (WS)
Between November 1943 and February 1945
HMS Whitehall was part of the close escort for Arctic
Convoys from Loch Ewe to Murmansk on the Kola Inlet in North Russia. Return
Convoy RA.59 which left the Kola Inlet on 28 April 1944 and arrived on
6 - 7 May was returning to Britain the American crew of the USS Milwaukee
which was lent to the USSR by the USN and taking 2,300 Soviet
sailors to Britain to crew a whole armada of ships ranging from
the Battleship HMS Royal
to submarines and Town Class Destroyers down to MTBs being transferred
to the USSR.
Only one ship was lost from the Convoy, the Liberty Ship William S Thayer. The rescue of
Russian and American survivors is described below and on the website of
HMS Walker. The story of the
Russian submariner, Snr Lt Martinov, told to us by his grandson was
published in the current issue of Warships
International Fleet Review but a more detailed account will be
provided on a linked page.
But this is only a small part of a much larger story on the surrender
of the Italian fleet in August 1943 and the discusions between the
allies on how it should be allocated. This complicated story extending
over several years required 2,300 Russian sailors to go to Britain on
the warships in Convoy RA.59 and spend three months familiarising
themselves with the former RN nd USN warships being lent to he USSR as
an interim arrangement before returning with them to Murmansk as part
of Arctic Convoy JW59. On returning these elderly warships to Britain
and the USA after the war ended the Soviet Union finally received its
share of the surrendered Italian Fleet.
Warships for Russia
This long complicated web page
covers the period from the surrender of the Italian Fleet in August
1943 to the return of the warships transferred to the Northern Fleet of
the Soviet Navy by the USA and Britain after the end of the war. To
make it easier to follow it is arranged under different headings and
the following layout will enable you to go to the section of most
interest to you. It may be split into separate linked pages when complete.
Click on the "chapter numbers" in blue to go to the page you want
Agreement on allocation of 30% of the Italian Fleet to the USSR and the list of ships
The transfer of the Cruiser USS Milwaukee with Arctic Convoy JW58
Operation FZ to collect the Russian sailors Arctic Convoy RA.59 conveys 2,300 Soviet Sailors to Scotland to collect their warships
The rescue of survivors from the William S Thayer Lives Saved and Lives Lost when the William S Thayer sank
Soviet Sailors in Scotland and transfer of the "Royal Rouble"
Training on Tyneside & handover of the Destroyers
The Handover of the Submarines and the loss of V-1, the former HMS Sunfish
Passage to the Kola Inlet with Arctic Convoy JW59
The contribution of the Town Class destroyers to the Northern Fleet
Part 1: The Grim Barents Sea by Captain Polyakov
Part 2: Report on the receipt of ships from the English fleet (1944) The return of the warships to Britain and the USA between 1945-9 The USSR finally receives its share of the surrendered Italian fleet
Agreement to transfer the surrendered Italian Fleet
After the Italian Navy had
surrendered on 11th August 1943, and Admiral Cunningham had sent his
historic signal “Be pleased to inform their Lordships that the Italian
Battle Fleet now lies at anchor under the guns of the fortress of
Malta”, the Allies set about discussing its disposal.
At a conference of Foreign Ministers in Moscow at the beginning of
November 1943 the Russians demanded a third of the Italian Fleet,
amounting to 1 Battleship, 1 Cruiser, 4 submarines and 40,000
displacement tons of Merchant shipping. to which President Roosevelt
agreed without reference to Churchill, who himself considered that, as
the Royal Navy had defeated the Italian Navy, the British should retain
control of the Italian ships. At the Tehran Conference between November
28 and December 1 1943, Stalin repeated the demand. In anticipation of
this the American Chiefs of Staff had drafted a memorandum to dampen
the President’s enthusiasm for the deal, which pointed out that the
Soviet Navy would be unable to man the ships, the effect on Italian
cooperation in the war in Italy would be adverse, the Italians might
scuttle the ships rather than hand them over, and the Italians ships
would not come with spare parts and ammunition.
Discussions continued, and it was eventually agreed the Italian Battleship to be transferred would be the old Giulo Cesare,
and due to the impracticality of making her ready and getting her out
of the Mediterranean, Churchill offered to transfer a British
Battleship. Stalin agreed but demanded a modern King George V
Class ship. In the end he accepted the old British Battleship Royal Sovereign and a cruiser, “In order not to delay the settlement which is so vitally important to our common fight against Germany”.
The destroyers would be chosen from the 50 four-funnelled United States
destroyers transferred to the Royal Navy under Lease Lend. These Town
Class destroyers were named after towns common to the US and Britain.
One British admiral called them the "worst destroyers I had ever seen"
but their transfer contrary to the Neutrality Act contributed to
America’s later entry into the war. The submarines transferred were
small British boats.
THE FINAL TRANSFER LIST
HMS / USS Name
HMS Royal Sovereign
USS Milwaukee (Cruiser)
Not adopted Chigwell, Essex
Leamington Spa, Warwickshire Not adopted
Battle, East Sussex
Lincoln, Lincs (but changed to Wakeful)
Wanstead & Woodford, East London
Chipping Sodbury & Filton, Glouc
Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire
Russian - English Dostoiny - Worthy
Zharkiy - Hot
Zhyvuchy - Tenacious
Derzky - Audacious
Zhgouchy - Burning
Doblestny - Valiant Zhostky - Hard
Druzhny - Friendly Deyatelny - Active (sunk 16 Jan 1945)
V-1 (sunk 27 July 1944)
These Town Class destroyers have a complicated history. Six of them "served under four flags": Richmond, Chelsea, Leamington and Georgetown were transferred to the Canadian Navy before being sent to Russia and St Albans and Lincoln served with the Norwegian Navy. Six
of them - and
all the RN submarines - were adopted by towns in Britain after Warship Weeks in
1941-2, a successful national savings programme to raise money for
building new ships. Click on the links to find out more about the
service of these ships prior to their transfer to the USSR.
of their service with the Northern Fleet after their transfer based on
the Russian book The Grim Barents Sea by Captain Polyakov is being prepared and will be published on this site for the benefit of naval historians and residents of these towns.
Transfer of USS Milawaukee
with an American crew joined Arctic Convoy JW.58 for her voyage to
Murmansk where she was to be handed over to the USSR and become part
the Northern Fleet. HMS Whitehall was part of the Close Escort from 27 March with Westcott (Senior Officer of the Escort) Wrestler and corvettes Bluebell, Honeysuckle and Lotus. On 29 March they were joined by HMS Walker, Beagle, Boadicea and Keppel of the 8th Escort Group together with the sloops of the 2nd Escort Group – Magpie, Starling (commanded by Cpt Frederic "Johnny" Walker), Whimbrel, Wild Goose, and Wren.
The senior officer of the combined force was the Rear-Admiral in command of the cruiser, Diadem, a comparatively new ship and leader of the Tenth Cruiser Squadron. The escort carriers Tracker and Activity
provided air cover. During this convoy six shadowing aircraft were shot
down by aircraft from the carrier and four u-boat were sunk. On the 2nd
April carrier aircraft carried out attacks on submarines causing damage
and shooting down a Ju88 aircraft. On the next day Submarine U-288 was
sighted and attacked by Swordfish Aircraft of 819 Squadron. U-288 was
sunk North of North Cape by rocket attacks despite intense AA fire and
manoeuvers by the submarine to avoid being hit.
Arctic Convoy JW.58 arrived at the Kola Inlet on 4 April 1944 without loss and four escorts of the Russian Navy escorted
the remainder of the convoy as it continued to Archangel on the White Sea. On 20 April 1944 Milwaukee was formally transferred on loan to the Soviet Union under lend‑lease and commissioned in the Northern Fleet with the name Murmansk. Her American crew were stranded in Murmansk to wait for a life home on a return convoy. Murmansk performed convoy and patrol duty along the Atlantic sealanes throughout the remainder of the war.
Arctic Convoy RA.59
left the Kola Inlet as part of the escort for Convoy RA59 on 28th of
April 1944. She was a member of the 8th Escort Group led by HMS Keppel, Cdr Ismay James Tyson RNR, which included HMS Beagle, Waker, Boadicea, Whitehall, Inconstant, Wrestler and Westcott.
The Convoy was formed in into 12 columns with up to 5 ships to a
column. A substantial number of passengers were embarked, with USN
personnel mainly onboard the escorts and Russians onboard the merchant
"Top Secret" Convoy Plan for Arctic Convoy RA.59 from the Report of
Proceedings on Operation FZ by Vice-Admiral Sir Rhoderick R. McGrigor
commanding the First Cruiser Squadron (ADM 199/351) McGregor was flying his flag in HMS Diadem (F62) in the sixth column followed by the other two escort carriers HMS Activity (63) and Fencer (64)
The William S Thayer is 33, the rescue ship Robert Eden 45, the escort oiler Noreg (52) and the Commodore of the Convoy is in Fort Yukon (71) The names of the merchant ships in the convoy are shown on Warsailors and Convoyweb
Click on links in captions to view them full size in separate windows
HMS Fencer was one of three Escort Carriers carrying Swordfish Torpedo spotter planes which swung the balance against the u-boats - click to expand
HMS Fencer had steam hoses
which quickly cleared the flight deck of snow and ice and the Swordfish
of Squadron 824 often flew three sorties a day
Arctic Convoy RA.59 showing sinkings - click to expand
Based on Polyakov redrawn digitally by Alexander Koralov
The convoy was routed as far north
as possible, the actual track being limited by the ice edge. At 2000 on
the 30th April, when the Convoy was 50 miles south of Bear Island, the
United States Liberty ship William S Thayer
(Master Daniel A. Sperbeck), third ship in the third column which was
carrying 164 Russian and American personnel was torpedoed. Whitehall and HMS Inconstant swept up the port side of the convoy
and then joined HMS Boadicea hunting a contact on the port quarter
of the convoy.
left "the narrative of events" from the Report of Cdr James I
Tyson RNR, Captain (D) of the 8th Escort Group in HMS Kepel and a widely reproduced photograph of the William
S Thayer The 8th Escort Group comprised HMS Keppel, Beagle, Walker, Boadicea, Whitehall, Inconstant, Wrestler and Westcott
The Russian officers and crew of the Dostoiny (Worthy), the former Town Class destroyer HMS St Albans,and the submariners appointed to V3, the former British submarine, HMS Unicorn, were in the William S Thayer.
They described what happened to Capt G.G. Polyakov and he included
their accounts in his book about the transfer of allied warships to
Russia, In the Grim Barents Sea (Murmansk, 1978):
"Zhuravlev brought sad news. The crew of Dostoiny (Worthy) were embarked in the William S. Thayer when
she was torpedoed. More than twenty men had died. They were all from
the Black Sea region. There were also nineteen submariners. None of us
knew the Black Sea sailors, but everyone sincerely experienced this
misfortune. Later, the details became known:
was nearly 9 pm, when according to routine, they drink tea together.
Almost all the officers were gathered in the wardroom. The Head of the
Gunnery Section Kapitan Lieutenant Chulkov, the Head of the
Electromechanical Section Llieutenant Engineer Dorofeev and the Head of
the Torpedo and Mining Section, Senior Lieutenant Molotov had
been delayed. While they waited for tea they talked about tomorrow's
May Day Holiday.
In the upper aft hold, the
crew members were lining up to go to the dining room, which was located
in the bow hold. Having lined up the ranks, Duty Petty Officer 2nd
class, Vovk, gave the command: "Left Turn!" There was a huge explosion,
followed a few seconds later by a second. The floor heaved up and then
collapsed. Men fell into the water along with the debris. The torpedoes
had hit the forward hold and the engine room. The ship broke into three
parts. The bow and middle parts of the vessel sank in five minutes, but
the stern was still afloat. The officers of the Dostoiny
LD Chulkov and ID Dorofeev, in the stern section immediately rushed
into the hold to help. They had previously served on the destroyer Zheleznyakov and had no battle experience.
Chulkov realised that the convoy
was continuing on the same course, and no help was at hand. As a
precaution he ordered the gunners to stand by the stern gun and prepare
it for firing - after all, nobody knew what might happen. Then Chulkov
took over the leadership of the rescue team. They began to extract
the victims from the lower hold with ropes and improvised means.
Dorofeev quickly examined the hold and and made sure that no water was
coming in and organised the making of a raft from the hatch cover.
Chulkov explained the situation to those in the stern, ordered them to
wait - help should come. Life-saving equipment was dropped to those in
Help came half an hour later, which seemed like an eternity. The American transport Robert Eden,
which was at the end of the convoy, lowered her boats and they began to
pick up the men floating in the water. The British destroyer Walker
also lowered a boat and approached the starboard side of the damaged
vessel. There was a big swell and it was difficult to secure alongside.
Nevertheless, 70 people were transferred to the destroyer.
Another destroyer, "Deer" - Keppel? - whose approach had been delayed,
circled dropping depth charges on the U-Boat.
From the water, in a semi-conscious state, they lifted the navigator of the Dostoiny,
Kapitan Lieutenant Lev Lezgin, the commander of the anti-aircraft
battery, Lieutenant Viktor Babiy, and several Petty Officers and Red
Navy men. Kapitan Lieutenant Vladimir Bespalov, the First Lieutenant of
"Worthy" was unconscious. For twenty minutes he was given artificial
respiration, massaged and then regained consciousness.
Most of the Soviet sailors were
saved. Eight officers, fourteen foremen and Red Navy men were killed.
Eighteen people were injured and concussed. The Americans also had
All the men rescued were placed on the British destroyer Walker.
The sailors of the English ship warmly welcomed the victims, shared
clothes with them, fed and warmed them. When the convoy arrived in
Britain (Greenock), the sick and wounded were sent to hospital.
Nobody wanted to sleep that May Day
holiday eve. People had died, our Soviet people, and the sailors were
upset. Deep sorrow in the soul of everyone combined with a thirst for
revenge on the fascist pirates for their atrocities. Yes, and youth
took its toll. On bunks and improvised "chairs" made of boxes and
suitcases, officers sat with Petty Officers and sailors, talking of
this and that."
The dedicated rescue ship, the Liberty Ship SS Robert Eden, reported that there
were many men in the water and that the bow section had sunk. William
Chisholm, an engine cadet on the Robert
Eden, described his part in the rescue:
ended up in a motorized life boat. A sea painter wrapped around the
propeller and we couldn’t use the motor. The crew was forced to row.
Being from Gloucester, Massachusetts I could handle the oar. We rowed
over to the aft section of the Thayer and boarded a number of the crew.
The rest returned to the Eden with survivors."
Meanwhile Walker joined Keppel searching in the vicinity of the wreck
(Operation Observant). At 2107 Whitehall was
ordered to close and pick up survivors. As the after part did not
appear to be in any danger of sinking it was decided to rescue men from
the water first. Whitehall proceeded to windward of rafts and
wreckage, all floating in thick oil. The whaler was lowered and Whitehall went alongside the rafts. Twelve men
were rescued, and the whaler returned with 10 more.
arrived the men had been in the water for about 85 minutes and great
difficulties were experienced in rescuing them. No one could help
himself owing to the cold, none had any rope or attachment round
himself that would hold a hook or rope, all were thickly coated with
oil, and those that had consumed quantities of oil struggled hard when
rescuers tried to hitch them to a lifeline. A few sank alongside before
they could be hoisted inboard.
All those rescued by Whitehall
came from the forward half of the ship. The American survivors were on
the bridge when the ship was torpedoed and reported that there
were two hits, one forward and one amidships, both on the starboard
side. Just before the torpedoes hit a periscope was sighted about 400
yards away to starboard. This would indicate that the U Boat was well
inside the convoy.
Boadicea joined Walker alongside the wreck. Boadicea lowered a boat and also embarked some
survivors over her bows on the lee side. Walker went
alongside on the weather side and embarked the remaining 49 survivors,
in about 4 minutes with little difficulty. All were Russians. Walker and Boadicea were ordered to sink the derelict. Boadicea set it on fire with gunfire, while Walker
steamed past and lobbed two depth charges from the Port Throwers set
shallow. A beautiful straddle was achieved and the wreck sank a few
credit was due to Surgeon Lieutenant G C Foster-Smith RNVR whose
strenuous efforts saved many lives.
Sadly six men died from exposure
within an hour of rescue, and were buried at sea at 2320. For the ten years before his appointment
as CO of HMS Whitehall Lt Cdr Patrick J. Cowell DSC had been in
submarines and must have been especially pleased to save the Russian
submariners in the William S Thayer
but saddened that Snr Lt Martinov died after rescue and had to be
buried off the stern of Whitehall.
The William S Thayer
was the only ship lost on return convoy RW.59 and the Germans paid a
heavy price for her sinking. The Russian Admiral Levchenko in HMS
Fencer had the satisfaction
of seeing three u-boats sunk by her Swordfish aircraft within two days
of the loss of his men in the Thayer.
And HMS Westcott and HMS Wrestler made two depth charge
attacks at 2130 on the 30 April on a submerged u-boat but reported this
Alexandrovich Martinov died of exposure shortly after he was rescued by
HMS Whiehall and was buried
at sea. He was on passage to the UK to become the
Navigator of the British Submarine HMS Unison,
which was being loaned to the Soviet Navy as V3. He had previously been
Navigator and Head of the Steering Department of Submarine K21 from
July 1941 to December 1942 and was sent on the advanced training
courses for commanding officers at
the S.M Kirov, Baku, from December 1942 to September 1943, and
promoted to Senior Lieutenant.
Snr Lt Valentin
Alexandrovich Martinov was one of six men who died from exposure after
rescue by HMS Whitehall and
were buried at sea Lt Cdr Patrick J. Cowell DSC was a former
submariner himself and must have been saddened by the death of Snr Lt
In addition to Senior Lt Martinov, 22 Russian Officers and Ratings lost
their lives. These included the Staff Electrical Officer to the
Admiral, an Officer for Submarine V-4 (the former RN submarine HMS Ursula), three Officers for the
Destroyer Dostoiny (the
former HMS St Albans),
and a Kapitan Lieutenant from 'SMERSH", well know to fans of Ian
Fleming (who worked in Naval Intelligence so should know) as the Soviet
counter espionage agency.
Admiral Levchenko and his staff
were riding in the escort carrier HMS Fencer
to take command of the USSR's new battleship, Archangelsk, the former Royal Sovereign. He requested that
the ships assisting in the rescue of survivors from the William S Thayer telegraph the
number of Russians saved. Walker's
ROP includes the log of signals received in reponse to this request: Walker rescued 49, Whitehall 6 named survivors (plus
two dead) and the rescue ship, Robert
Eden, 34 making a total of 89 saved plus those who died after
rescue and were buried at sea. In addition Whitehall rescued 10 Americans
(plus four who died) and the Robert
Eden 29 plus 4 who died.
"The names of those
lost from the personnel of the ship squadrons of the Northern Fleet"
was issued by the Staff of the Ship Squadrons of the Northern Fleet on
September 1944, Ref No 011P Vaenga. It contains the names of 23 who
died out of the 164 Russian crew members known to be on the William S Thayer. We are hoping to
hear from the families of some of these Russian sailors aboard the William S Thayer. If a member of
your family is on the list of those who died when the William S Thayer
was torpedoed or you recognise one of the men in the
photographs taken by Albert
Foulser on HMS Walker
please e-mail details in Russian to Snr Lt Valentin
Aleksandrovich Martinov's grandson, Alexander
Lt Martinov’s story might have been forgotten had he not left a
two-month old son, Valentin. His Mother remarried Aleksander
Yakovlevich Kovalev, a Soviet Naval Air Force Pilot, and Valentin took
his name and became Valentin Alexandrovich Kovalev. His Mother told him
his birth father’s story when he was 13. He is proud of his father and
was deeply moved to learn from this website of the circumstances under
which he died. His son, Alexander Kovalev, contacted us in May and sent
a 51-page dossier in Russian on his grandfather’s naval service in
submarines researched by his father. This has been read and translated
by Lt Cdr Frank Donald RN (Ret) who learned Russian from his Mother and
served in submarines for 14 years. Alex also sent some truely
staggering photographs from Russian sources of Lt Martinov and
Submarine K-21 which have never been published outside Russia.
The full story of Snr Lt Martinov and his service in K-21 which made an
unsuccessful attack on the German Battleship Tirpitz on
7 July 1942 shortly before the disaster of Arctic Convoy PQ.17 will be
told on this website by Frank Donald. In the meantime you might like to
read the two page illustrated article by Bill Forster, the man behind
this website, which was published in a "WW2 75 Special Feature" in the
the combined June - July issue of Warships International
can be bought from W H Smiths and Sainsbury's or ordered
online from the publisher.
Soviet Sailors in Scotland and the transfer of the Battleship
The Russian crews arrived at Rosyth by train from Greenock on 7th May. HMS Royal Sovereign
was berthed there, and some of the Russians were to live onboard. The
submariners were to be accommodated in the aircraft carrier Chaser which was under repair. The rest of the Russians, including destroyer crews were onboard liner SS Empress of Russia,
an inspired choice made by the previous Captain, who had taken up an
appointment in the Trade Division of the Admiralty. Captain Polyakov, a
staunch communist who was then a watchkeeping Lieutenant apponted to Tenacious/Zhivuchy, wrote that on going alongside the Empress of Russia the
new arrivals were surprised to meet a group of Russian speaking British
sailors onboard. They turned out to be survivors from the William S Thayer, reclothed onboard the rescuing ships.
The new Captain of the Royal Sovereign, in charge of the transfer, was Captain Alan Thomas George Cumberland Peachey,
who had been selected on the basis that he would stand up to the
Russians. A group of interpreters was provided, whose duties included
translating technical turnover information, and the brass tallies on
machinery controls into Russian, so that replacements could be made in
Peter C. Smith in his book Battleship "Royal Sovereign" and her Sister Ships (Pen & Sword Maritime, 2009) recorded the impressions made by the Soviet sailors:
There was a certain amount of "culture shock' on both sides. The Russian Officers
wore medals with uniform, and pistols, at all times. Twenty Russian
Officers were expected at Lunch on the Wardroom on the first day, and
thirty four turned up. It was realised that fourteen had gone round
again, and in future this was prevented by hiding their napkins and
napkin rings after the first pass.
There were also a difference of expectations regarding bathrooms. The
British were surprised that when the Russians did use the bathrooms
they occupied them for hours and totally filled them with steam. In
fact the visitors were probably trying to reproduce the atmosphere of
the traditional Russian Banya, though there is no record of them
jumping overboard afterwards.
The Russians were very suspicious that items “belonging” to them which
should be transferred were being taken ashore. These included old
Midshipmens’ Chests, in poor repair, which would certainly not be
needed on the voyage. Eventually Admiral Levchenko made such a scene
about the Chests as to permanently sour relations with Captain Peachey.
Royal Sovereign was almost 30
years old, and numerous items of equipment had been fitted and removed
again, so that there were countless bolt holes where once they
had been fastened. The transfer rounds with the Russians,
involving Captain Peachey and British Technical Officers, took
two weeks while these were all explained.
Alison Campsie's weekly column in The Scotsman on Sunday 19 July 2020 described the "cuture clash" between the allies - see on right.
Captain Polyakov tells a somewhat different story in his book, The Grim Barents Sea (Murmansk, 1978):
The joke of using the Empress of Russia
had backfired, as the Russians knew that the remnants of Wrangel's
White Army troops had escaped from the Crimea onboard the ship after
the Civil War. They were not impressed by the worn-out decor either.
The officers were puzzled by the
formal meals in the wardroom. They were baffledby the layout of cutlery
for a four course dnner, and did not like the alternation of savoury
and sweet courses. Lt Lisovsky put his sweet to one side to eat after
the savoury, and it was promptly cleared away by the steward. He was
teased about this later on.
After three days the
destroyer crews moved to North Shields on the Tyne, where they lived
onboard their new ships in the Albert Dock. The destroyers had been
mustered at Newcastle in January 1944, and following repairs and
training they were to be formally transferred to the Soviet Northern
Fleet in July.
Polyakov remained in touch with
events in Rosyth, and wrote that the British plans for the handover
were far too slow for the Russians, and that Admiral Levchenko insisted
that the crews should be immediately accommodated in their ships. This
was opposed by the British, and the Chief of Staff of Rosyth Naval Base
suggested that the Admiral and Staff should move to the Empress of Russia, as Captain Peachey had complained of interference. The suggestion was ignored.
The employment of White Russians as
Liaison Officers was not a success. They were despised by the Russians
as, allegedly, former industrial proprietors.
The transfer and renaming ceremonies for the Royal
Sovereign/Arkhangelsk were arranged for 31st May, in the presence of
the Russian Ambassador Mr Gusev, and the Deputy First Sea Lord Admiral
Kennedy-Purvis. The four submarines were lying alongside in the
The massive bulk of the former HMS Royal Sovereign now renamed Archangelsk dwarfes the four elderly British submarines being transferred.
Some of the former Town
Class destroyers, the "four-stackers", can also be seen on the
right in this photograph taken at Rosyth
Following the transfer of the renamed Royal Sovereign June and July were spent on familiarisation of
the Russian crew and trials and workup exercises in the Firth of Forth. They
may not have had a common language, but that did not prevent the
British Gunnery Instructors and Torpedo Anti-submarine Instructors from
getting the Russians up to speed on the new equipment.
For security reasons, particularly with respect to details of state of
the art radar aerials, the ship was anchored overnight well to seaward
of the Dockyard.
In mid July the Arkhangelsk moved to Scapa Flow for to
continue workup, where she was joined by the destroyers.
Training on Tyneside & handover of the Destroyers As related by Captain Polyakov of HMS Richmond (Zhivuchy) in his book, The Grim Barents Sea
The destroyers had been on the Tyne since January and after three days
at Rosyth their Russian crews travelled by train to North Shields at
the mouth of the Tyne and joined their ships. Polyakov wrote that the ship’s company were not impressed by the layout, armament and state of the Richmond.
She was lightly armed, with one 102 mm (4 inch) gun and Hedgehog
forward, four 20mm Oerlikons and three tubes amidships, and one 76 mm
(3 inch) gun and Depth Charge racks and throwers aft. The beam 10.9 M
(36 ft) was narrow relative to the length of 95 M (311 ft) and the
maximum speed was only 26 Kts. “The upper deck was in an extremely
neglected state, and the sides and superstructure were covered with
rust in many places”. The
ship did have Radar and ASDIC, which like the Hedgehog was new to the
Russians. The Hedgehog fired a pattern of bombs ahead of the ship which
enable them to attack a U-Boat without running over the top of it,
losing contact in the process.
The Chief Boatswain compared their “new” ship to a steamer in the comic
film “Volga-Volga” (1938) and there were satirical chants of “America
Gave Russia a Steamboat”, a play by N V Carol, which was performed in
London as late as February 2020!
The "rocket propelled antisubmarine installation" (Hedgehog) on Zhostky, the former
On the left, Chief of the combat artillery Division, V. Sinii
Captain 3rd Rank Ryabchenko
summoned the officers together and instructed them to tell the crew
that she was now theirs and they must get her ready for battle. He told
them that the destroyers had forged keels but did not explain its
significance, that they would be particularly suitable for ramming
submarines. The ships become known as “Thorns” since “ship” means thorn
The Russians were shocked by British attitudes to waste. Polyakov asked the Gunner of the Richmond to
replace a torn bag for collecting spent Oerlikon cartridges. He was
asked “Why do you need to collect casings? Let them go overboard.”
The Russians were also shocked by the short working hours – 0900
to 1600 with two hours for lunch. As a result, there were difficulties
in getting access to all parts of the ship. The Russians turned to at
0600, worked with the British when they arrived, and tidied up and did
exercises and combat training after they left.
There were also problems of communication, as the British specialists
and Translating Officers refused to work with Ratings. There was little
technical documentation onboard, so the Russian technical officers
produced their own drawings.
Admiral Levchenko inspected the
Zhivuchy at the end of May and announced that “the spirit of a Soviet
sailor is beginning to be felt onboard” which encouraged the crew.
As the Russians became
familiar with the equipment they made greater demands on the British
crew who resented it. One night when Polyakov was duty some British
sailors, having done their washing, tipped their soapy water into the
hold, which had been painted by the Red Navy the day before. It had to
be drained and repainted, and Polyakov got it in the neck from the
When the Naval Officer in Charge at Newcastle, Rear Admiral Maxwell,
visited the ship, Captain Ryabchenko informed him of the slow pace of
repairs. The Admiral was not pleased but had to admit the remarks were
justified, particularly as the other destroyers were in no better
Two Radiometrists were sent
to the International Radar School in Glasgow, which was attended by
Greeks, French, Poles and Canadians. They went to the Cinema and when
it was announced that “There are Russian Sailors here”, they
received a thunderous ovation.
Sea trials revealed major defects requiring additional work. The
Russian Ratings got on well with the British workers, but relations
with the Officers were difficult as many of them were from the
privileged classes. The First Lieutenant of the Richmond,
Lt Wright, allegedly owned large factories and an estate in Scotland.
Warrant Engineer Liddicoat, and the Gunnery Officer, Gunner Heisterman,
belonged to the ordinary people and did not enjoy privileges even after
20 years in Navy. They got on much better with the Russian Ratings.
One day when Polyakov was on duty the White Russian Liaison Office Lt
Grim (formerly Grimov) appointed by the British complained that the
Russian sailors had gathered the workers together on the quarterdeck
and were inciting them to strike. Polyakov took Grim to the
Wardroom and instructed the Duty CPO to find out what had really
happened. Meanwhile, the Russian Duty Messenger, who was aware of
Grim’s tastes, provided two glasses of rum. Apparently, some English
workers had asked the Senior Boatswain about working conditions in
Soviet shipyards. He only had a dozen words of English and had tried to
answer their questions with gestures. It became apparent that Lt Grim
would do anything for a glass of rum, which was useful when looking
into delays with spare parts or ammunition or translations of labels on
The Head of the Electro-Mechanical Engineering Group, Senior Lt Nikolai
Ivanovich Nikolsky, got on well with Warrant Engineer Liddicoat, who
was devoted to his specialisation. Liddicoat was impressed by the
high professional training of Russian technical ratings and told
Nikolsky that he had "brought engineers to England, not sailors".
In time, those English and Russian speakers with an aptitude for
language were able to communicate in a sort of pidgin Russian/English.
Ryabchenko and Lt Wright sorted out problems over lunch using an
After the transfer of the Battleship on 31st May Admiral Levchenko and
the Detachment Command moved from Rosyth to Newcastle. The Admiral had
a predilection for touring machinery spaces, and Ryabchenko ordered
that Levchenko’s overalls should be kept in the Control Room.
Visitors from the Soviet
Military Mission in London brought the latest war news and, sometimes,
letters. Some included news of the deaths of relatives and friends
which featured in a special issue of the ship’s radio newspaper “On the
atrocities of fascist bandits against the family and friends of the
crew.” Rear Admiral
Kharlamov (the head of the Soviet Military Mission to the United
Kingdom) visited in early June and briefed the crews on Operation Overlord, which he had witnessed from the cruiser HMS Mauritius. Polyakov commented:
the Allied Operation was of great importance, but the Soviet people are
well aware that, first of all, it pursued political and military goals
that had nothing to do with the tasks of helping the Soviet Union in
its single combat with German fascism!”
A rather prejudiced
observation when one considers that the Soviet People had allied with
Germany in September 1939, and were rewarded with Eastern Poland, the
Baltic States and Finland.
Some French sailors were so thrilled by the Normandy landings that they presented a monkey and a bag of bananas to HMS St Albans / Dostoiny
though how they got bananas in wartime Newcastle is not recorded.
Fortunately, the monkey could be taught to eat fresh cabbage as the
banana supply did not last long.
The Admiral wanted to
acquaint the Russians with the cultural and historical sights of
England. Some officers went to London, and after a planned visit to
Madame Tussauds they persuaded the organisers to take them to Karl
Marx’s grave at Highgate cemetery. Polyakov went with a party to Durham
Cathedral and, as a good atheist, was somewhat scornful about the grave
of St Cuthbert. The guide told them that criminals could claim
sanctuary in the precinct, possibly tongue in cheek.
After two months hard work
the Russian crews had made the ship’s equipment and weapons combat
ready, and also chipped off 8 – 10 layers of paint and repainted,
starting with red lead primer. Polyakov suggested that some of the
British thought that they were painting their ships in Bolshevik
The final stage was a Sea Inspection. The night before there were
meetings of Party activists with the Ship’s Company. On 29 June Admiral
Levchenko came onboard the Richmond, and the ship went to harbour stations. Lt Cdr Stackpole, the British CO of HMS Richmond was on the bridge, and invited Captain Ryabchenko to take command.
After leaving the Albert
Dock Richmond / Zhivuchy (on left after transfer) headed down river towards the sea. Senior Lt Nikolsky was
in charge in the Engine Room with Warrant Eng Liddicoat at his side.
One British rating was in each Engine and Boiler Room, for safety
reasons, in an advisory capacity. On reaching the mouth of the Tyne the
ship increased to full speed. The guns, the Hedgehog and Depth Charge
throwers were fired successfully.
The ship spent the day
steaming to and fro at different speeds looking for defects. The
bearing of the circulation pump in the second Engine Room began to over
heat and was changed by the Petty Officer in charge. In the third
Boiler Room a sight glass burst and the compartment began to fill with
steam. The British “safety number “, instead of offering advice headed
for the ladder to the upper deck. The Senior Red Navy rating
disconnected the sight glass and stopped the steam escaping.
The serviceability of all
systems, machinery and weapons had been checked. Admiral Levchenko was
pleased with the crew, but had noticed some shortcomings, and others
were reported by Officers and Senior Rates. The Admiral gave
Ryabchenko two weeks to rectify them.
Two weeks later:
July 16 1944, in preparation for raising the flag, discussions were
held with agitators, party activists and personnel, about the Naval
Flag of the Soviet Union.”
The discussion would have
been inspirational, covering the history of the Soviet Navy and its
flag. The Political organisation onboard was led by the Political
Officer Lt Cdr Fomin, and the Party Organiser Senior Lt Lysiy. Their
duty was to motivate the ship’s company through a network of Communist
Party agitators and activists. They are never mentioned in an
operational context and seem to have left the Captain to get on with
his job without interference. Polyakov and Lysiy were close friends,
and when Lyisy took over from Lt Cdr Fomin, Polyakov deputised for him
“On that memorable Sunday at 1200 the flag was hoisted simultaneously on the six destroyers in the Albert Dock. Zhivuchy was the third of four ships berthed beam to beam. To starboard was Zhgouchy, to port Derzky and Dostoiny. Astern were Zharkiy and Deyatelny. Repairs were still in progress onboard Zhostky and Doblestny. Their flag hoisting was planned for 1st August.”
In attendance were the
Ambassador F T Gusev, the Head of the Military Mission Vice Admiral
Kharlamov, Vice Admiral Levchenko, Rear Admiral Maxwell, and the Mayor
Admiral Maxwell said:
behalf of the Admiralty it is with great satisfaction that I transfer
the ships to the valiant and courageous Russian Fleet. We wish good
luck to all who sail in them”.
Polykov described how
the flag raising ceremony a festive dinner was held onboard the ships.
Soviet sailors with true Russian hospitality, as sovereign owners of
the ship, received the British guests.”
Among the toasts was one proposed by Warrant Engineer Liddicoat, “I christened my youngest daughter in the bell of the Richmond. This, according to English tradition, will bring happiness. I drink to the unsinkability of the destroyer Zhivuchy”.
“The Mayor of Newcastle,
after a few toasts, was in a rather ‘cheerful’ state. Some of his
compatriots tried to persuade him not to drink any more, to which he
replied, smiling good naturedly ‘I have nothing to lose but this
chain’, touching his massive gold chain of office”. Polyakov seems to
have totally missed this Marxist allusion.
After dinner everyone poured
onto the pier, where the band was playing. Admiral Kharlamov, in full
dress, approached a group of Soviet sailors. As if on command several
of them picked him up and tossed him in the air. Then, lowering the
smiling Nikolai Mikhailovich to the ground, they surrounded Captain 1st
Rank Fokin but Vitaly Allekseevich guessed their intentions and managed
to dodge them.
After the celebrations the
Division were given a month for operational training west of the
Orkneys, based at Scapa Flow. The first to leave the berth was the Derzky,
flying the Broad Pennant of the Division Commander. The ships were
given a warm farewell by crowds of spectators. At the mouth of the Tyne
a combat alert was declared, as U-boats were patrolling the North Sea.
The destroyers head north in line ahead, with ASDIC pings audible on
their bridge loudspeakers – a sound the bridge watch keepers would soon
get used to.
The Handover of the Submarines and the loss of V-1, the former HMS Sunfish
The four submarines were handed over at Dundee on 26th July. The first boat to sail was V-1 (ex Sunfish).
While on passage she was bombed by a Liberator of No. 86 Squadron RAF
on 27 July and sunk. It was claimed initially that she had not
conformed to the agreed route. However, both the RAF and Royal Navy
held Boards of Enquiry into the loss of V-1 and her 50 Russian and one
British Crew. Both Boards were clear that Captain Fisanovich was almost
exactly where he was supposed to be, that he did not open fire on the
aircraft, and did not crash dive on its approach. Coastal Command were
searching for a U-Boat believed, from Enigma decrypts, to be outbound
It was further found that the Liberator was at least 80 miles off
track, and well inside V-1’s "Moving Haven", and that the crew ignored
unmistakable signs that the submarine was friendly. Captain Fisanovich
was cleared of all blame, and the RAF aircrew were held fully
responsible for the incident., which was then hushed up to save
diplomatic embarrassment ahead of the Yalta Conference. (National
Archives files AIR 2/9279 and ADM 1/16390). The dead are listed on the Dundee Submarine War Memorial.
The fact that the V-1 had 50 Russians onboard a submarine that was
complemented for 32 would indicate that the Russians had brought a
number of spare hands, and that the loss of life in the William S Thayer had not been critical.
Passage to the Kola with JW59
To ensure the safe and timely arrival of Arkhangelsk (aka “Royal Rouble”) at Murmansk she was allocated a station in Convoy JW 59, which left Loch Ewe on 15 August. Arkhangelsk
and her group of former Town Class destroyers left Scapa Flow on 17
August to join the convoy. A group of Russian manned Submarine Chasers (PC
Boats) being transferred from the USA also joined the Convoy. Initially the Russian group
proceeded independently, joining the convoy as it approached a U-Boat
danger area on 20th August as shown on the chart below. Arkhangelsk took up her position as second ship in column five, in the centre of the ten column convoy.
No merchant ships were lost from the convoy but at 06.04 hours on 21 August (21 0604), the day after Arkhangelsk joined the convoy,
the sloop HMS Kite (Lt Cdr A.N.G. Campbell, RN) with 226 men aboard, was
struck by two torpedoes from U-344 on the starboard side. The stern
broke off, floated for a few seconds, then sank followed a minute later
by the bow. HMS Keppel (D 84)
stopped to pick up survivors but only 14 of the 60 or so survivors in
the water could be rescued from the ice cold water, five of them died
on board and were later buried at sea. Several eye witness accounts of her loss are linked to from Mike Kemble's website about HMS Kite.
U-344 was part of Wolfpack Trutz (Defiance) which consisted of seven U-Boats. The next day pack member U-354 sank HMS Bickerton and put the Escort Carrier HMS Nabob out of action, 170 miles south of Bear Island. They had been providing cover for JW 59, and were to have attacked the Tirpitz
in Altenfiord, but were withdrawing when sighted by U-354 in search of
the Convoy. Ron Rendle, a popular member of the V & W Association,
was on the bridge of HMS Bickerton with Capt Donald G.F.W. Macintyre and described her sinking by an acoustic torpedo, a GNAT, before they could stream their "cat" from the stern.
chart showing the course taken by the Russian Group from Scapa before
joining JW.50 on 20 August 1944, the position of Wolfpack Trutz and
where HMS Kite and Bickerton and the u-boats sunk - click on image to enlarge Right: HMS Bickererton sinking after being torpedoed by U-353 on 22 August 1944
U-344 and U-354 were both sunk a few days later. U-344 was sunk west of
Bear Island on 22nd August by a Swordfish aircraft from HMS Vindex (see Track Chart). U-354 was sunk north east of North Cape on 24th of August after a lengthy ASW action by the Sloop HMS Mermaid and the Frigate HMS Loch Dunvegan.
HMS Whitehall and HMS Walker, the two V & Ws which had rescued survivors from the William S Thayer
were part of the escort for their return convoy to the Kola Inlet with
their new ships. The friendly relations between the Russians rescued
from the William S Thayer and the officers and men of HMS Walker did not last. Lt James Glossop in HMS Walker was disappointed that there was no cordiality in signals or chatter from the Archangelsk to Walker
during the voyage. In view of the size of the operation and the number
of ships involved it is perhaps not surprising but one can be sure that
the Soviet sailors rescued would never forget the two elderly V &
Ws which had saved their lives.
Once past Bear Island the Arkhangelsk group detached to make a ceremonial entry to join the Northern Fleet on 25th August 1944.
Their contribution to the War
Lt Cdr Frank Donald RN (Ret)
whose father served in three V & W Class destroyers and whose
Mother was born in St Petersburg with Russian as her native language
has drawn on the following sources to give an account of the
contribution the Town Class destroyers made after their transfer to the
USSR to winning the war at sea in Arctic Russia. The main focus is on a
"case study" of Dostoiny, the former HMS St Albans, but it is also covers the other destroyers and to reflect their multiple identities is titled The Ships which fought under four Flags.
(left) served with the Northern Fleet as the CO of Tenacious, the former HMS Richmond, and described the contribution made by
the foreign warships to the war in his book The Grim Barents Sea(Murmansk Book Publishing House, 1978). Sadly, it has not been
translated since he conveys the atmosphere of the time, the suspicion
of the Soviets for their Western Allies as well as including input from
Admiral Leverchenko and other prominent officers in the Northern Fleet.
Russian speakers can read the book online and Google translate conveys
something of its style and content to others. Peter Smith's book on the
Royal Sovereign mirrors Polyakov by recording western prejudices and
suspicions of our Soviet allies.
It seems that the C
in C Northern Fleet, Admiral Arseni Golovko, did not entirely
appreciate the largesse that Stalin had bestowed on him. In the
introduction to chapter fourteen of his memor With the Red Fleet, he wrote:
have at present enough forces not to have to strip one sector to deal
with an emergency in another. In the past year since my last report to
Supreme Headquarters the Northern Fleet has received a considerable
complement of torpedo-carrying bombers, fighters and Stormovik
aircraft, as well as a substantial number of ships of various classes.
We have received more trawlers, large submarine-chasers, destroyers,
MTBs and submarines. Over and above this, we have obtained from the
Americans on a reciprocal basis a rather old, but modernized, cruiser,
and from the British a battleship (as an advance on the trophies
accruing from division of the Nazi fleet to compensate us for war
damage to our country). The main thing is not, of course, these two
“steamers” as our Northern sailors sarcastically dub the English
battleship and American cruiser. The latter is, in truth, obsolete. It
is sufficient to mention that it has four tall funnels and the external
design of a warship of the First World War. The important thing is that
we now possess twice the number of light forces – particularly escort
and patrol ships than we did last year.”
With the Red Fleet (Moscow, 1960)
English edition: With the Red Fleet: The War Memoirs of the Late Admiral Arseni G. Golovko (London: Putnam, 1965)
Despite these disparaging remarks by the C in C of the Northern Fleet
the Germans took the threat of these two large outdated warships
seriously and were determined to sink Arkhangelsk in the same way that Gunter Prien in U-47 had sunk the battleship Royal Oak
in Scapa Flow. On a dark night in September 1944, Herbert Zoller
took his Snorkel fitted U-315 towards the entrance to the Kola Inlet
but found, to his horror, that the Soviets had strung an anti-submarine
net across the entrance to the Inlet, in which U 315 became firmly
entangled. They tried to break free again and again, all through
the night, but to no avail. The submarine was trapped but a last try
was made, and the submarine finally broke free. Zoller decided it was
impossible to penetrate the defences, and returned to base.
It would appear that while the Arkhangelsk and Murmansk
were of little use to the Northern Fleet, the destroyers and submarines were a valuable
addition. Even if you are unable to read Russian
you could research the story of these Town Class destroyers transferred
to the Northern Fleet by searching the Google translation of the Russian text online for the name
of the ship, in both Russian and English e.g. search for Dostoiny and Worthy if you want to know about the former HMS St Albans. Her CO was
Yevgeny Adrianovich Kozlov, who who was relieved by Captain 3rd Rank
Nikolai Ivanovich Nikolsky in November 1944. Kozlov went on to become
Report on the receipt of ships from the English fleet (1944)
The most authoritative source
on the transfer of the warships to the USSR and the part they played in
the war after they joined the Northern Fleet at Murmansk is in the Central Naval Archive of the Ministry of Defence
of the Russian Federation which contains over two million documents and
is one of the largest archives in Russia on the Great Patriotic War. The whole document is 110 pages in length and is not available on the Internet and access to the archive is restricted. Russian
speakers with a serious interest in consulting original source material
on the transfer of the warships to the USSR should contact the Archive to enquire about access.
The front cover and nine further pages, relating to the torpedoing of the William S Thayer
and the death of Russian sailors was supplied to Alexander Kovalev, the
grandson of Senior Lt Martinov, by the Russian historian and author, Miroslav
Eduardovich Morozov, and can be seen as a PDF by clicking on
the image of the front cover on the right:
Pages 16 - 17 (pages 18 - 19 are omitted)
The outfitting of the transports for passage of the complete Command of personnel for the ships being transferred.
Preparation and departure of the Command for England.
Passage of the Command to England
Pages 21 - 26
Torpedoing of the William S Thayer
at 2010 30 April 73 53N 18 30 E, followed by an analysis of the ASW
operations of the convoy (including mention of two Bluhm and Voss A/C,
ineffectiveness of asdic search)
Followed by description of sinking of the William S Thayer, help given by Robert Eden and two destroyers, analysis of losses and list of dead.
Their return and disposal after the war
HMS Royal Sovereign
remained on loan to the Soviet Navy until 9th February 1949, when she
was handed back at Rosyth, and reverted to her original name. She was
sold for scrapping at Inverkeithing. Between 1955 and 1957, part of her
gun turret mechanism was reused in the construction of the 250 foot (76
Metre) “Mark 1” Radio Telescope at Jodrell Bank, Cheshire. The Murmansk was returned to the USN at Deleware on on 17 March 1949 and her crew were returned to the USSR on the Russian freighter Molotov. She was scrapped in December 1949.
The tug, USS Achigan (YTB 218), at Lewes, Delaware, is taking Soviet sailors from the USS Milwaukee (CL 5) on 17 March 1949.
The crew is being transferred to the Russian freighter Molotov for transport back to Russia. Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, George D. McDowell Collection.
HMS Churchill (Deyatelnyi)
was the only one of the former Town Class destroyers which was sunk. On
16th January 1945 she was torpedoed and sunk by U-956 while escorting a
White Sea convoy. The others were returned to Britain between 1949 -
52, reverted to their former names, put on the Disposal List, sold to
the British Iron & Steel Corporation (Salvage) Ltd. (BISCO) and
then allocated to a ship breaker's yard.
HMS Leamington (G19) prior to her transfer
Trevor Howard on the bridge of HMS Ballantrae in the film "Gift Horse" (1952) after her return
(above) had a brief reprieve when she was chartered from the breakers and
refurbished to take part in a British film ’Gift Horse’ starring
Trevor Howard and Richard Attenborough being shot in the English
Channel. She was renamed HMS Ballantrae for her role in the film based on the St Nazaire Raid of March 1942 when HMS Campbeltown, sister ship of the Leamington, rammed and blew up the lock gates at St Nazaire. It can be seen in full on YouTube. HMS Leamington was adopted by Leamington Spa after a successful Warships Week in 1942
The USSR finally receives its share of the surrendered Italian fleet