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

HMS Winchester at Portsmouth 1938
HMS Winchester with a single band on her front funnel as Leader of the 9th DF at Portsmouth in 1938
Image and identification courtesy of Jim Bryce author of the guide to Pennant Numbers on the website of the Commsmuseum

HMS Winchester 1941 HMS Winchester

HMS Winchester was built by Samuel White & Co at Cowes on the Isle of Wight and completed in April 1918. She took part in the Baltic War against the Bolsheviks and renegade German forces in 1919 which helped secure the independernce of the Baltic States. In 1936 in accordance with the dying wish of the "sailor King" George V that his beloved racing yacht HMY Britannia should follow him to the grave she was towed St Catherine's Deep near the Isle of Wight and  sunk by HMS Winchester.

From September 1939 to April 1940, HMS Winchester was under conversion to a WAIR at Portsmouth, replacing her standard 4.7 inch guns with dual High Altitude 4 inch guns for ant-aircraft defence and her Pennant Number changed to L55. In May she reinforced Naval AA defence at Dunkirk (Operation FA).  She assisted in the evacuation from Flushing in the Netherlands and was damaged by enemy aircraft off the Scheldt on 13 May 1940 but returned under her own power to Dover and was under repair at Liverpool until August.

She spent almost the whole of her war as part of the Rosyth Force escorting convoys along the East Coast between Rosyth and London. On 8 November 1940 she was bombed while escorting Convoy FN.29 near Barrow Deep and  claimed to have shot down two aircraft but was damaged by a mine (ADM 199/220/17).  From March to July 1944 she is believed to have been lent to the Fourth Escort Group escorting Atlantic Convoys but according to Don Kindell was having a refit in March and April.

In August she returned to the East Coast but on 8 August 1944 she was damaged by an iron hulled pilot cutter and deemed not economically repairable. In January 1945 when Atlantic convoys were re-routed through Channel and the threat of air attack had been reduced
she was withdrawn from active service and reduced to Reserve status. She was deployed as an Accommodation Ship at Rosyth until she was sold to BISCO in March 1946 and broken up at Inverkeithing.

Commanding Officers

Cdr Thomas Charles Capenter Bolster RN (1930)
Cdr Walter Napier Thomason "Joe" Beckett RN (5 Jan 1934 - July 1936)
Lt Cdr Edward L. Berthon RN (Sept 1936 - July 1937)
Cdr Philip N. Walter RN (14 July 1937 - June 1938)
Lt.Cdr. Stuart Erskine Crewe-Read, RN (9 Mar 1940  - Jan 1941)
Lt. Robert Andrew Morgan, RN (Jan - 3 Feb 1941)
Lt.Cdr. Dermod James Boris Jewitt, RN (3 Feb 1941 - 31 May 1942)
Lt. John Ronald Gower, RN  (31 May 1942 - 17 Aug 1943)
Lt. John Kenneth Lyon, RN (17 Aug 1943 - late 1944)


Sub Lt Sidney George Brangwin RNVR (7 April 1941 - 13 October 1944)
Lt John Hart MacAlister RNVR (12 March - October 1940)

Former Full Members of the V & W Destroyer Association who served in HMS Winchester
R. Blackwell (Neston), S. Claridge (Hook, Hants), F. Day (Rushden, Northants), Capt John Ronald Gower DSC (Bath), R. Madden (Kings Lynn, Norfolk), D. Olley (Aldershot).
Please get in touch if you knew one of these men or have a family member who served in HMS Winchester

HMS WinchesterWho is this man?
OD Connolly JX425954 (sic) joined in HMS Winchester (L55) in 1943 when she was escorting East Coast convoys but nothing more is known about him
This photograph was found in the papers of the V & W Destroyer Association

The ship's bell of HMS Winchester

The Ship's Bell of HMS Winchester was presented to the City of Winchester by the British Legion in December 1945
The Hampshire Telegraph 21 December 1945

My wife and I both caught Covid on Christmas Day. I can express my thoughts clearly on the phone but find it quite impossible to transfer ideas into text via a keyboard. Luckily my wife does not have this problem and is typing this for me. I need your help in locatinng the bell of HMS Wiincchester and can be contacted by email at

Peter Schofield mailed the British Legion on 27 Dcember 2022:

The destroyer HMS Winchester is now in the shipbreakers hands, but her name will be remembered by her ‘Godmother’ City - Winchester. Lady Jellicoe at the Hampshire British Legion conference held in Winchester, presented to the Mayor from the former commander Captain D. Faviell the ships bell, and the Mayor promised that if it were possible it would be hung outside the civic buildings.
Do you have any knowledge of the whereabouts of HMS Winchester’s ships bell and if not could you possibly investigate to where it might be?  The intention is to contact the Mayor of Winchester in the New Year.

Capt John R Gower RN DSC

Capt John R Gower RN DSC (1912 - 2007) was possibly the most senior "shipmate" in the V & W Association having served as CO of HMS Winchester from 31 May 1942 to 17 August 1943. He never wrote an account of his time as CO of Winchester for Hard Lying but he wrote a 133 page word processed account of his career which is now in the Imperial War Museum, London, and there is an interesting account of his life in Wikipedia as well as an obituary in The Telegraph.

He did, however, write for Hard Lying a first hand account of Operation Lucid, an aborted plan conceived by Churchill and led by Captain Agar VC to "singe Adolf Hitler's whiskers" by launching fireships at the invasion fleet being assembled at Calais and Boulogne.  Several V & W Class destroyers took part in Operation Lucid: Campbell (Captain 'D' 21), Mackay, Walpole, Venetia, Witch, Veteran, Venomous, Wild Swan, Wolverine, Beagle, Vesper, and the Hunt Class Cottesmore, Garth and Hambledon. Lt John R Gower RN was the First Lieutenant of one of the fire ship lying at Sheerness, an old Norwegian tanker named Mytilus. Since HMS Winchester played no part in Operation Lucid his account will be published elsewhere on this website.

If you want to find out more about the wartime service of a member of your family who served on HMS Winchester 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 Winchester you would like to contribute to the web site please contact billforster

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