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
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threat of air attack had been reduced she was withdrawn from active service and reduced to Reserve status.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.
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
OD Connonlly 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
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.