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

HMS Whitshed, Grand Harbour Malta in 1925
HMS Whitshed (D77) in the Grand Harbour, Malta, in 1925
 With the battleships HMS Barham (closest) and HMS Royal Sovereign - transferred toi Russia in August 1944
HMS Barham
was torpedoed by U-331 on 25 November 1941 and two thirds of her crew were killed.
Courtesy of Maxim Ni

Click on the underlined blue links in this brief summary of
Whitshed's story to find out more:

HMS Whitshed was built by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd. at Wallsend on Tyne. She was launched on 31 January 1919 and commissioned on 11 July 1919 with pennant number FA7 but this was changed to D77 in October. After service in the Mediterranean with the 4th Destroyer Flotilla she was posted to the China Station in 1932 with the 8th Destroyer Flotilla. When the United States Navy gunboat USS Fulton was heavily damaged by fire while at sea off China on 14 March 1934, Whitshed, her sister ship HMS Wishart, and the merchant ship SS Tsinan came to Fulton's assistance.

was placed in reserve until 1939 when she joined the 18th Destroyer Flotilla at Portland for convoy defence in the English Channel and South-West Approaches. On 30 January 1940 Whitshed sank U-55 in the South-West Approaches whilst escorting convoy OA30G.

In April, she was transferred to the 19th Destroyer Flotilla at Dover to assist with support of operations off the Belgian and Dutch coasts. On 10 May she took Cdr Goodenough's naval demolition team of eighty  plus a sixteen strong Royal Enginers "demo team" from the KFRE led by Capt Peter Keeble to Ijmuiden to destroy the fuel reserves at Amsterdam and block the harbour at Ijmuiden,
Operation XD(A). HMS Whitshed was heavily bombed on the crossing to Ijmuiden and five men were lost at sea, their bodies retrieved later and buried in the Netherlands.  She assisted in the evacuation of the Hook of Holland (Operation Ordnance) and Ostend in mid-May.

As German forces swept into France HMS Whitshed escorted the ferries taking the Welsh and Irish Guards to defend Boulogne on the 22 May and the next day she and her sister V & Ws in the 19DF returned to Boulogne to bring the troops home.
Click on the link for an overview of the part played by the V & Ws in the evacuation of the Guards from Boulogne. Capt David J R Simson RN, Captain D 19th Destroyer Flotilla in HMS Keith was killed by a sniper, and Cdr E.R. Conder RN in HMS Whitshed took over as Senior Officer. He advised Vice Admiral Dover (VAD) that he would not order destroyers into the narrow harbour at Boulogne until air protection had arrived. At 1920 fighters arrived and Whitshed entered harbour at dead low water, followed by Vimiera, and berthed with their bridges level with the Quai Chanzy. The troops had a steep descent to the deck. Whitshed sailed for Dover at 2020 with 580 troops onboard. The part played by Whitshed in bringing the Guards home is described by Cdr Conder in his original typescript  "Letter" of Proceedings (with handwritten insertions to VAD Ramsay) and Recommendations for Awards for the 22 - 23 May which can be seen on the website of the publisher of A Hard Fought Ship (2017) along with the RoP of the other V & Ws. The events of that day are accurately told by George Stitt as fiction in HMS Wideawake - Destroyer and Preserver (George Allen and Unwin, 1943) in which HMS Whitshed is the fictional Wideawake.

Whitshed escaped serious damage during the evacuation of the BEF from Dunkirk, Operation Dynamo, and was based at Harwich on anti-invasion patrols until she detonated a mine on 31 July and had to be towed back to Harwich by HMS Wild Swan. She was under repair for the rest of the year but resumed her duties at Harwich with the 16th Destroyer Flotilla in January 1941.

In February Whitshed and her sister V & Ws in the 16DF,  Mackay, Worcester and Walpole, joined the V & W destroyers Mackay and Walpole in the 21st Flotilla to form a temporary Flotilla and on the 12th attacked  the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen which had broken out of Brest on their  Channel Dash
via the Dover Straits to Wilhelmshaven at the mouth of the River Elbe.

The picturesque fishing port of Whitby in Yorkshire raised 315,169, the cost of building the hull of a V & W destroyer, to adopt  HMS Whitshed during a successful Warship Week on 7 - 14 February 1942,

For the remainder of 1942 and most of 1943, Whitshed resumed convoy escort duties in the North Sea and English Channel. Her ‘A’ gun was replaced with a twin 6-pounder army gun for engaging E-Boats and in November 1943 she was in action with them while escorting convoy CW221 off Hastings with Coastal Forces. On 18 April 1944 she was in action again with E-Boats on a mine laying operation in the English Channel.

During the Normandy landings in June 1944 she joined Escort Group 104 with Montrose, Borage and Loosestrife and escorted convoy EIL1 comprising 12 Landing Ship Tank (LST) and 24 Landing Craft Tank (LCT) from Southend to the assembly area of the Eastern Task Force. She then returned to Southend to escort the build-up convoys.

In July she was released from Operation Neptune and resumed mercantile convoy escort and interception patrols engaging E-Boats and submersibles employed in mine laying operations in the North Sea and English Channel through April 1945. After VE-Day she was deployed in re-occupation operations. In June 1945 she was reduced to reserve status and sold to BISCO in February 1947 for demolition by T J King but did not arrive at the breakers’ yard in Gateshead until April 1948.

Commanding Officers

Lt Cdr George Arthur Scott RN (July 1921 - Jan 1923)
Cdr. Edward Reignier Conder, RN (15 Nov 1939 - Aug 1940)
Lt.Cdr. William Anthony Juniper, RN (29 Nov 1940 - 9 Jul 1942)
Lt.Cdr. Arthur Allison FitzRoy Talbot, DSO, RN (9 Jul 1942 - 14 Jul 1943)
Lt. Tom Peter Baillie-Grohman, DSC RN (14 Jul 1943 - 12 Sep 1944)
Lt. Robert Graham Woodward, RN (12 Sep 1944 - June 1945)


Temp Lt L M D Apperley DSC RNVR (22 May 1944 – by Dec 1944)
Mid J P Bell RNVR (18 Nov 1939 – by Jan 1941)
Temp Sub Lt B A Chadwick RNVR (30 Dec 1940 – by Nov 1942)
Lt Will S Clouston RN (April - July 1937)
Lt J S Drane DSC RN (8 Dec 1943 – by Dec 1944) First Lieutenant
Temp Mid W D Duncan SANF(V) (2 Nov 1943 – Jun 1945)
Lt (E) A V English RN (8 Jun 1937 – 7 Feb 1941)
Temp Surg Lt P D Ferguson RNVR (12 Jul 1943 – May 1944)
Sub Lt J H D Franklin RANVR (27 Dec 1940 – by Jan 1942)
Wt Eng E W Fuller MBE RN (7 Feb 1941 – Jan 1944)
Temp Sub Lt G Gillott RNVR (7 Feb 1944 – Jun 1945)
Lt (E) R G Gross RN (17 Jan 1944 – Jun 1945)
Temp Lt D A Haigh RNVR (8 Jan 1944 – by Dec 1944)
Sub Lt D I Hayward RN (18 Nov 1939 – by Jan 1941)
Gnr (T) C G Holdsworth RN (3 Sep 1940 – Mar 1942)
Lt J L M Jolly RN (3 Jun 1942 – Dec 1943) First Lieutenant
Temp Lt R W Johnston RNVR (2 Sep 1944 – Jun 1945)
Lt Michael B. Laing RN (April 1924 - Jan 1925)
Lt Michael "Dry Ginger" Le Fanu RN (March 1935 - August 1936)
Lt Samuel R Lombard-Hobson RN (Nov 39  - 13 Aug 40) First Lieutenant
Lt B C Longbottom RN (7 Dec 1940 – Jul 1942)    First Lieutenant
Actg Gnr (T) C V Mackenzie RN (17 Feb 1944 – Jun 1945)
Gnr (T) A Matten RN Retd  (4 Nov 1938 – Sep 1949)
Temp Surg Lt N McSwan RNVR (30 May 1944 – Jun 1945)
Temp Sub Lt R G Millist RNVR  (22 Nov 1941- by Nov 1942)
Temp  Lt W J Mitchell RNZVR (22 Jul 1942 – by May 1944)
Sub Lt P L K Needham RN (18 Nov 1939 – by Jan 1941)
Lt A F D Openshaw RN  (Oct 1943 – Jun 1945) First Lieutenant
Surg Lt G J Potts RN (23 Dec 1940 – Aug 1942)
Temp Surg Lt D W Pugh RNVR (18 Jan 1940 – Dec 1940)
Lt P D Raisey RN (3 Jun 1941 – by Nov 1942)
Gnr (T) R J B Stilwell RN (Mar 1942 – Feb 1944)
Temp Sub Lt O L Sylvester SANF(V) (21 Nov 1944 – Jun 1945)
Lt A M H Thomas RN (4 Nov 1944 – Jun 1945)
Lt T S Trick RN (14 Jul 1942 – by Nov 1943) First Lieutenant
Temp Surg Lt G R Walker RNVR (29 Aug 1942 – Jul 1943)
Sub Lt A J Watkins RN (16 Dec 1940 – by Jan 1942)
Temp Sub Lt V P Walker RNVR (29 Aug 1941 – by Nov 1942)
Lt Alfred N. Waring RN (Feb 1929 - Feb 1931)
Lt Herbert J. Watkins RN (Dec 1940 - Feb 1941)
Temp Sub Lt W P Wilder RCNVR (25 Aug 1942 – by May 1944)
Sub Lt P C Wood RN  (9 Dec 1940 – by Jan 1942)
Temp Mid A F Vyvyan-Robinson RNR  (16 May 1944 – by Dec 1944)

Former Full Members of the V & W Destroyer Assoociation who served in HMS Whitshed
J. Baker (Newhaven, East Sussex), H. Davis (Caldecot, Gwent), R. Hale (Hayes, MIddx), A. Moore (Aylesbury, Bucks), K. Pickles (Scarborough, N Yorkshire),
R. Dawlings (Northampton), R. Thompson (Northampton), D. Wargent (Daretford, Kent), M. Wood (Brandon, Suffolk)

Please get in touch if you knew these men or had a family member who served in HMS Whitshed

Reg Baker, Telegrapher in the Wireless Office in HMS Whitshed, 1942-4
Reg Baker (studio portrait)
Boys in the Mess on HMS Wishart
The "Boys in the Mess" on HMS Whitshed in 1940
A studio portrait of a your Reg Baker and a more mature photo after a few years service
Reg Baker after serving on the lower deck of HMS Whitshed

Reginald Ewart Baker JX 323498 was an 18 year old living at home with his parents at Weybridge, Surrey, where he was born and working in a garage when he was called up. He started his service on 19 December 1941, a week before Christmas. He wanted to have a proper role and trained to be a Telegrapher but many of his mates could not be bothered as it required learning and taking exams!He joined HMS Whitshed on 31 August 1942 and served in her until 5 October 1944. Reg left little in the way of memories of his time in HMS Whitshed but he kept some press cuttings describing events during his two years in Whitshed. His son, Bob, would be delighted to hear from the families of his shipmates on HMS Whitshed photographed below with their names on the reverse.

One of the few things Reg told his family about the war was a funny story about "Binnie", R.F. Hale, whose name is one of those on the back of the photograph: "One day a shell came through the porthole and Binnie Hale shouts out “I’m dying, I’m dying" to which they replied “shut up, Binnie, it hit the red inkwell”  Binnie may have been of a nervous disposition as Reg said he got invalided out and spent the rest of the war in the USA. Reg spent six unhappy months in a submarine but its name is not given in his service record.

When the war ended Reg found himself transferred to the Army as a Wirless and Telegraphy Operator, Army Number 14973348, in the 5 Div. Signals Regiment: “We were all lined up and a man pointed at some of us and said 'you, you, you and you are in the army'." He was  posted  to "Brunswick, Goslar, Hildsheim, Northeim, Luneburg, Celle and Uelzen", all towns in Lower Saxony,
and was at the Nuremburg war crimes trial,  “I saw them all, just sitting there”. In June 1946 he went to Kolding, Denmark for recuperation and was finally demobbed at Brunswick on 21 October. His son, Bob Baker, told me: "when he got married in 1946 (to Rose from Cobham, Surrey) in his army uniform, no-one was happy as they regarded Reg as a sailor!"

HMS Whitshed, shipmates
Names of shipmates
Reg Baker's shipmates in Whitshed
Left: Photographed on the deck of Whitshed in 194???
Right: Reg wrote these names on the back of a photograph of Whitshed on a postcard, with nick-names in brackets:
G U Muscutt Tel P, A D Beecham (“Beech”), Browntie, F P Hartley (Harpic)?, Philip Motteram (Sig), W Dilks (Wolly), W Rolland (Jock)
R F Hale (Binnie) , Bob Hood ("Robin"), FD Whiteside, F Fletcher (Fletch), JF Woodley (SB), Illegible, Illegible, AF Friend (Don), HS Burgess, RA Prior (Pricky)

E-mail Bill Forster if you recognise one of them
Christmas Card Christmas Card 1943

Reg spent two Christmases away from his family and sent these cards home to let them know that he was missing them and loved them still
Courtesy of Bob Baker

Jack Wood: From Butcher's Boy to Torepedoman

In 1942 Jack Wood was 17 and working in his father's butcher shop in Aylestone, Leicester. He knew he would be conscripted when he was 18 and was determined not to go into the Army:

"No way was I going to go in the Army, I just couldn't stand the thought of that: hobnailed boots and loud-mouthed Sergeants drilling you. So I thought, the Navy's the best choice for me. I told my Dad, and of course, he had to agree with me, because he knew I would go in the Army otherwise."

When he went to the recruiting office to volunteer for the Navy and told them he was a butcher they tried to encourage him to to be a butcher in the Navy by saying he would be a Petty Officer within a year. Jack insisted that he didn't want to be a butcher, he just wanted to serve in a warship.

Jack Wood did his basic training at Collingwood and from there he was sent to the Stockheath transit camp and then:

Jack Wood, Ordinary Seaman in HMS Whitshed"My name was called out one morning, and lo and behold, I was sent to Harwich to pick up this HMS Whitshed. I didn't quite know what it was until I got there, but being an old World War 1 ship she was very crowded, and it took me a while to get settled in. But there seemed a nice crowd of blokes on it anyway. But being an Ordinary Seaman, you're in everybody's way. Any dirty jobs going, you get them!"

We went on convoys and the odd patrol. This went on for about a month, never fired  shot, and you know being that sort of age and seeing all these John Wayne film, I got a bit niggled and said in the mess "Don't we ever see any action on this damned ship?" Of course, nobody said anything. I was lucky really, because it would have served me right if somebody had clipped me one on the ear — a biggish percentage of these blokes, some of them were regulars who'd been in since the 30s. Others had joined up, probably in ‘39, they'd been to Dunkirk, Norway, trips on the convoys on the Atlantic, the Mediterranean. They'd been shot at bombed, and this silly devil's saying "When do we get some action?"

Anyway, a few days went by, and all of a sudden, out of the blue, we got ambushed one night. I think there were either two or three E-boats. They were actually waiting for a convoy, which we were supposed to be picking up, but for some reason the convoy got cancelled, whether it was the weather or something like that. But these E-boats, instead of getting the convoy, we ran into them, and before you knew it, all hell was let loose. There were shells flying over the top, bullets clattering against the side of the ship, the ship was weaving this way and that way, hard a-starboard, hard-a port. The action went on for probably about ten, fifteen minutes and there was a loud bang and a flash, I think we'd hit one of the E-boats. I mean, they are only quite lighly built, and I think the others, they probaby panicked a little bit, and they just buzzed off. But why, I don't know, because I mean, one E-boat with a good skipper, with it being a very modern ship, would have been more than a match for our old thing. Apart from the Oerlikons - the 4.7 inch guns were too big and too slow to manoeuvre - we hadn't really got much to fight back with. Anyway, it all disappeared and things had all quietened down, and I was too damned busy to be frightened, getting yelled at "Pass the ammunition!" and all this business. We settled down to normal patrol again and I think it was probably the early hours of the morning, we'd got the morning watch. The others went down below. When it was breakfast time I went down there, and sitting in the mess was a little cockney chap named Garner. I thought at the time he was quite old, but he was probably only late 20s or thirty, and he just sat there with a fag hanging out the corner of his mouth, and he just quietly looked at me.

"Was that all right for you Woody? Is that what you were looking for?"

And I felt the biggest damned fool. Anyway, I just stood up, personally apologised to the whole mess, and from then on, I was OK with them. But I did feel a damned fool."

Jack Wood's brief description of the start of his two years service as an OD and Torpedoman in HMS Whitshed is from "But for These Things – Leicester and its People in WWII" by Vincent Holyoak (Troubador Publishing Ltd, 2014). When Alan Dowling bought the ship's bell of HMS Whitshed at auction in 2007 he phoned Jack Wood at his home in Countesthorpe four miles south of the butchers shop in Leicester where he worked for his father before joining the Navy. Jack was too deaf to hear him and Alan told his wife he would ring the bell of his old ship! Jack could hear that alright and wrote a nice letter back in which he described what happened after he left HMS Whitshed at the end of the war:

"I served as a Seaman Torpedoman in HMS Whitshed from March 1943 to May 1945. After that I was aboard a Frigate which towed a captured Nazi submarine to Latvia to hand it over to the Russians - for some reason. Not being finished with me yet they drafted me to a captured German Narvik Class destroyer Z38 to see how good their torpedoes were! Tied up next to us was Z39 with a small German crew. They used to come aboard when work was over and we would sit and chat over a fag and mug of tea. Like us, they were just ordinary blokes, called up or volunteers, doing a job. HMS Whitshed was adopted during the war by the town of Whitby. A few years ago I presented the Lord Mayor with a painting of Whitshed that a friend of mine did for me when I visited Whitby. The ship's badge I photo'ed in their Museum."

Jack Wood meets the "Mayor of Whitby"

The photographs Jack Wood took in Whitby on that visit are not very good but I think they are worth adding here. The replica crest of HMS
Whitshed mounted on a wooden shield was presented to the town by the Admiralty when Whitby adopted her after a successful Warship Week national savings programme in 1942 and can be seen on the wall above the head of the Lord Mayor. I am hoping the Museum in Whitby will provide better photographs of the shield with its crest and the heavy bronze plaque presented in 1946 before Whitshed went to the ship breakers for scrapping.

Jack Wood and the Lord Mayor of Whitby
Jack Wood with the "Lord Mayor of Whitby"
Jack was mistaken - the lady was Val Bletsoe - now Val Appleton - Scarborough Borough Council
The photograph was taken at the Borough Council's office in Whitby in about 1996
The Plaque / Badge of HMS Whitshed in Whitby Museum
The 30 lb bronze Badge of HMS Whitshed was removed in 1946 and presented to Whitby
It is now on display in Whitby Museum along with the painting presented by Jack
With acknowledgement to Steve Barnard, Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society

The bell of HMS Whitshed
The bell of HMS Whitshed bought at auction by Allan Dowling
It hangs from "Nelson's Crown" - a good test of its authenticity
Click on the link to see Alan's collection of ship's plaques, crests, badges and bells

If you want to find out more about the wartime service of a member of your family who served on HMS Whitshed you should first obtain a copy of their service record
To find out how follow this link:

HMS Whitshed 1937
HMS Whitshed in 1937
Courtesy of Maxim Ni

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

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