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




HMS Windsor as a member of the Rosyth Escort Force
HMS Windsor, a member of the Rosyth Escort Force, with pennant number L34 escorting East Coast Convoys in 1944
Photograhed by Lt Cdr John Manners RN DSC from HMS Viceroy


HMS Windsor, the 3rd ship of that name in the Royal Navy, was an Admiralty W Class Destroyer laid down at Scott’s  Yard, Greenock, in April 1917, was launched on 21st June 1918. On completion on 28th August 1918 she was given the pennant number D42 and joined the Grand Fleet. She was present at the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet in November.

Windsor
was assigned to the 6th Flotilla in the Atlantic Fleet in 1921, and was part of the Portsmouth Local Flotilla in 1928.

At the beginning of World War 2 Windsor was assigned to the 18th Destroyer Flotilla at Portland, Dorset, for convoy escort and patrol duty in the English Channel and Southwestern Approaches. In October 1939 she was transferred to Western Approaches Command in continuation of these duties and was later based at Plymouth.

In May 1940 Windsor transferred to the 19th Destroyer Flotilla at Dover, in support of operations opposing the German offensive. On the evening of 13 May she evacuated the Government of the Netherlands from the Hook of Holland. On 23 May she patrolled off Boulogne in company with HMS Venetia engaging German troops and tanks and later took part in the evacuation of the port, rescuing 600 Guards and supporting troops. Lt Cdr Peter D.H.R. Pelly's Report of Proceedings on the evacuation of the Guards from Boulogne can be seen on the website of the publisher of A Hard Fought Ship along with the RoPs of the other V&Ws which took part in the operation.

On May 26 Windsor was assigned to Operation Dynamo, patrolling off the Dunkirk beachhead and escorting ships involved in the evacuation. That day she came to the aid of the passenger ship Mona’s Isle, which had come under German air attack with 1000 troops onboard, suffering 23 dead and 60 wounded. After rendering medical assistance she escorted Mona’s Isle to Dover. On 28 May the Windsor herself came under heavy and sustained attack by 15 German aircraft, which bombed and strafed her, inflicting 30 casualties and causing significant damage, forcing her to return to Dover. Lt Cdr Peter D.H.R. Pelly's RoP on the action is in the National Archives at Kew.

Despite the damage she remained in action, evacuating 606 troops from Dunkirk on 20 May, 658 troops and 588 troops in two trips on 31 May, 493 on 1 June, and 644 in two trips on 2 June. Her final visit to Dunkirk was on 3 June, evacuating 1022 men, bringing her total to 4011. Windsor proceed to Liverpool on 4 June for repairs and refit.

After completion of repairs, on 1 July 1940 she and HMS Vesper rescued 111 survivors of the British merchant ship Beignon, torpedoed and sunk by U-30 in the North Atlantic 300 nm west of Ushant.

Later in July Windsor joined the 16th Destroyer Flotilla with the Leader HMS Montrose and destroyers HMS Whitshed and Walpole, based at Harwich for convoy escort and patrol duty in the North Sea. On 28 October Windsor towed Walpole which had been disabled by a magnetic mine to Sheerness. On 8 December Windsor herself detonated a mine off Aldeburgh, Suffolk, and entered Chatham Dockyard for repairs.

1941
Windsor’s repairs were completed on 24 April. In May she detached from her North Sea duties for service with the Home Fleet based at Scapa Flow. She escorted major warships, including the battleship HMS King George V, during exercises in the North Western Approaches. She rejoined the 16th DF at Harwich in July 1941.

1942
By January 1942 the North Sea duties had begun to include operations to intercept German motor torpedo boats, S-Boats, known to the Allies as E-Boats, in the North Sea before they could mount attacks on allied ships. On 13 March the Windsor, Walpole, and the escort destroyers Blencathra, Calpe, and Fernie deployed in the English Channel to intercept the German merchant raider Michel sailing from Flushing in the Netherlands to German occupied France under escort by five torpedo boats and nine minesweepers. Windsor exchanged gunfire with the German ships on 14 March and made a torpedo attack, sustaining superficial damage from German gunfire.

Following the Warship Week National Savings campaign in March 1942 she was adopted by the civil community of the Urban District of Windsor, Berkshire.


In August Montrose, Windsor, Walpole and Worcester detached for duty with the Home Fleet, and deployed in the North Western Approaches to escort major warships and conduct antisubmarine patrols. In September Windsor was assigned to escort Arctic convoys PQ 18 and QP 14 during their voyages to and from the Soviet Union. She joined the escort of PQ 18 on 8 September, but on 9 September she detached from the convoy to form Force P, consisting of Windsor, the escort destroyers Cowdray and Oakley, and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary tankers Blue Ranger and Oligarch. Force P proceeded to Lowe Sound at Spitsbergen to establish a fuelling base. Windsor operated as guard ship there from 12 September, to 21 September when refuelling operations were complete and she departed for Iceland, before rejoining the 16th DF on North Sea convoy and patrol duties. In December 1942 Windsor again detached for a tour of duty with the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow.


1943
In mid-January Windsor rejoined the 16th DF, and on 24 January she and the escort destroyer HMS Mendip drove off a German E-Boat attack against the North Sea convoy they were escorting. On 4 March Windsor, the escort destroyer Southdown and the corvette Sheldrake fought an action against E-boats off Great Yarmouth.  Windsor joined the Blencathra and the motor gunboats MGB 321 and MGB 333 in driving off an attack by E-Boats against Convoy FS1074 off Smith Knoll on 28 March.

1944
Windsor continued her escort and patrol operations in the North Sea until May 1944 when she was assigned to support the upcoming Allied invasion of Normandy. At the beginning of June she  joined the corvette HMS Starwort, and two Motor Launches of Coastal Forces off Southend as Escort Group 132 for Convoy ETC2Y. The Convoy consisted of 13 Coasters taking pre-loaded transport, 5 Water Carriers and Ten Oil Tankers. On 4 July the Convoy took passage to the Solent, with the Escort Group supplemented by the corvette HMS Buttercup and a Motor Minesweeper.

The invasion was postponed from 5 to 6 June due to bad weather and on 7 June, the day after the initial landings, the convoy arrived off the invasion beaches to discharge its cargo, and then returned to the Nore to begin a convoy cycle supporting the build-up of Allied forces and supplies in Normandy.

In July Windsor returned to patrol and escort duty in the North Sea with the Rosyth Escort Force, which she continued until the surrender of Germany in May 1945.

During the summer of 1945 Windsor was decommissioned, transferred to the Reserve Fleet, and was no longer listed by July. After the surrender of Japan on 15 August she was placed on the disposal list. Windsor was sold to Metal Industries for scrapping on 4 March 1947, arriving at the ship breakers yard in Charleston, Fife, in May 1949.


Battle Honours

ATLANTIC 1939 – 40   DUNKIRK 1940  ARCTIC 1942   ENGLISH CHANNEL 1942 – 43  NORTH SEA 1942 – 43  NORMANDY 1944

Commanding Officers

Cdr John Gerald Yerburgh Loveband RN (11 Nov 1929 – Apr 1930)
 Cdr James Abernethy McCoy RN (6 Sep 1935 – 5 Mar 1936)
Lt Cdr Peter Douglas Herbert Raymond Pelly RN (1 Dec 1939 – 9 Jul 1940)
Lt Cdr George Pepys Huddart RN (9 Jul 1940 – Jan 1941)
Lt Cdr Hon. John Montague Granville Waldegrave RN (1 Apr 1941 – Dec 1941)
Lt Derick Henry Fellowes Hetherington DSC RN (13 Jan 1942 – May 1943)
Lt Lionel Robert Patrick Lawford DSC RN (May 1943 – 4 Apr 1945)
Lt John Valentine Brothers RN (4 Apr 1945 – May 1945)

Officers

Temp Lt F J E I Allen RNVR (Apr 1941 - 1942)
Mid R W Anstice RN (20 Sep 1924 - Jan 1925)
Temp Act Surg Lt H M Balfour RNVR (15 Oct 1940 – 7 Jan 41)
Lt S H Beattie RN (14 Aug 1930 - May 1933)
Mid B J Benson Dare RNR ((29 Aug 1939 - 1941)
Wt Eng J H Bignell RN (24 Feb 1941 - Oct 1942)
Sub Lt M S Blois-Brook RNR (29 Jul 1942 - 1944)
Act Sub Lt C Bourne RN (12 Dec 1942 - 1943)
Lt CGH Brown RN (5 Sep 1939 - 1941)
Lt J A Bryant RCNVR (1 Oct 1941 - 1942)
Act Gnr (T) T C Chennell (19 Jan 1943 – Jun 1945)
Sub Lt M H Collar RN (14 Feb 1940 - 1941)
Gunr (T) L F Cook RN (28 Mar 1941 - Jan 1943)
Cmd Eng E A Court Hampton RN (Jan 1941 – 1941)
Gunr (T) C Covey RN (7 Jan 1941 - Mar 1941)
Cmd Gunr H J Dennis RN Retd (23 Sep 1939 - Jan 1941)
Temp Act Sub Lt R Dodds RNVR (6 Mar 1944 - Jun 1945)
Temp Lt J E B Drake RNVR (20 Apr 1942 - 1944)
Sub Lt H D C Gibson RN (16 Sep 1944 - Jun 1945)
Lt (E) A L Green RN (9 Mar 1944 -Jun 1945)
Temp Surg Lt A C Hammer RNVR (2 Apr 1941 - 1943)
Sub Lt B C Hutchinson RN (2 Apr 1941 -1943)
Surg Lt W M Lancaster RNVR (Oct 1944 - Jun 1945)
Cmd  Eng R A Marsh RN (13 Jan 1938 - Jan 1941)
Temp Sub Lt R Miller RNR (11 May 1944 - Jun 1945) 
Temp Lt J G G Muir DSC? RNVR (7 Mar 1944 – Jun 1945)
Mid M A Myers RNVR (18 Aug 1941 - 1942)
Temp Sub Lt R M J O’Connor RNZNVR (21 Jan 1942 - 1943)
Temp Sub Lt R J Phelps RN (2 Mar 1944 - Jun 1945)
Act Gnr(T) W A Rugman RN (19 Nov 1935 – Feb 1936)
Sub Lt R A E Sharp RN (4 Nov 1939 - 1941)
Lt A E H Sladen RN (1 Dec 1943 - Jun 1945)
Temp Act Sub Lt T L Smith RNZNVR (Jul 1943 - Jun 1945)
Lt M R S Smithwick RN (17 Mar 1941 - 1943)
Temp Surg Lt P N Shutte RNVR (12 Feb - 15 Oct 1940)
Lt D C Souter RNVR (Oct 1943 - 1944)
Lt H A Stuart-Menteth RN (6 Sep 1935 - Feb 1936)
Temp Act Wt Eng W C Ward RN (6 Oct 1942 - Mar 1944)
Temp Act Sub Lt T Waldemeyer RNVR (7 Oct 1944 - Jun 1945)
Mid R Westlake RNVR (4 Nov 1939 - 1941)
Sub Lt R S Woolwrych RN (1 Apr 1941 - 1942)



Former Full Members of the V & W Destroyer Assoociation
R. Salter (Poole, Dorset), F. Skelton (Worthing, Sussex), Tommy Vann (Leicester)

Please get in touch if a family member served in HMS Windsor

HMS Windsor (D46) at Barcelona
HMS Windsor (D42)  visited Barcelona with her Flotilla in February 1930 (Cdr Ralph Kerr RN)
Centre Excursionista de Catalunya AFCEC_OLIVERAS_X_00472
Link supplied by Senior Chief Erling Baldorf Royal Danish Navy (Ret)



Lieutenant Commander S.G.T. Ewles RN
Navy Days, 1 January 1926 to 14 May 1960


Stan Ewles 1934William Ewles in 1893 aged 18Stanley George Thomas Ewles was born at Portsmouth on 15 May 1910,  the son of William Ewles (1875-1930), a Chief Petty Officer in the Royal Navy. His father (on right, aged 18) served in HMS Murray and took part in the Raid on Zeebrugge on St George's Day 1918. Stan joined the Navy as an Artificer Apprentice on 1 January 1926 and retired as Lieutenant Commander S.G.T. Ewles RN after thirty five years service in 1975.

In his 70s he decided to write an account of his life in the Navy from a boy of 15 in 1926 to a man of 50. He called it "Navy Days" and wrote it by hand in blue ink on a pad of ruled A4 paper kept in a ring binder which his daughter Linda Ewles still has. Stanley Ewles died in 1994 and his widow, Betty (born Beatrice Lilly Morris), typed it up and copies circulated around the family. Linda Ewles produced an audio recording for an elderly aunt whose eyesight was too poor to read the story of her bother's life. Betty Ewles died in 2004 and two years later when Linda Ewles turned 60 she decided to edit her father's memoir and publish it. Navy Days (2009) is out of print but available as part of a longer family history, 'Navy Days' and other tales: people and places in the Ewles family history (ISBN ISBN 978-0-9570857-3-2), for 13 including p&p in the UK (e-mail Linda Ewles).

Stan Ewles joined his first ship, HMS Walker, a  V & W Class destroyer, in August 1930. He found that one of the Engine Room Artificers had served with his father on HMS Murray during World War 1. After 18 months service he was made a Petty Officer and served in HMS Hawkins, a "cruiser in the tropics" for three years (on left) before joining the battleship HMS Barham in the Mediterranean. "The ship wandered gently all round the Mediterranean ... it was a favourite foreign commission for married men as plenty of time was spent in Malta and wives used to come out and stay there for two years. The single fare on a P & O liner was 12 and furnished flats were fairly cheap." By the time he returned home on a months leave in 1938 he was a Chief Petty Officer, and "had passed the exams for Chief Engine Room Artificer, which was the highest I could reach on the lower deck."

Stan's next ship was HMS Iron Duke, Admiral Jellicoe's Flagship at Jutland but by now a training ship for seamen. The Iron Duke took part in the Review of the Reserve Fleet in Weymouth Bay in August 1939 and was then sent to Scapa Flow. War started on 3 September. There were "only two big ships at Scapa, the Iron Duke and the Royal Oak, both at anchor". HMS Royal Oak was torpedoed and sunk by U-47 on 14 October. Scapa Flow was believed to be out of range of German bombers but two days later when Stan was at work in the engine room "there was an almighty bang and the ship immediately took on a heavy list to port". The crew abandoned ship and returned by liner to Newcastle and by train to Portsmouth. Stan obtained a special licence and married Betty on Tuesday 31 October 1939.

"I reported back on the Monday after our brief honeymoon, and after a day in barracks, was detailed to join HMS Windsor, an old destroyer built at the end of World War I. It was berthed in Portsmouth Dockyard."


Part 2: HMS Windsor 1939 - 1940
"I was detailed to join HMS Windsor, an old destroyer built at the end of World War I"


Convoy duty in the Western Approaches

We left for the Western Approaches, that is, across the Bay of Biscay, to pick up and escort convoys.  We had very rough weather at times when we picked up survivors from sunken ships: on one occasion half a dozen men sitting on an upturned boat. I still have a letter thanking me for the attention we gave some survivors: clothes, warm drinks, cigarettes. This particular young man had paid for his passage from Argentina to come back to UK to join the RAF.

Letter from RAF pilot save by HMS Windsor
Stan Ewles received this letter from John King one of the men picked up from an upturned boat after their ship was bombed and sunk
He had paid for his passage from Argentina to come back to UK to join the RAF

We occasionally got four days' leave from Plymouth for boiler cleaning and maintenance work. I used to go up to Rhyl, north Wales, to join Betty.  The first time was on New Year's Day 1940. I arrived at 4 am when her landlady was having a party. Betty thought she was joking and drunk when she knocked on her door with the news that I was downstairs!

The routine of two or three weeks at sea in the south west area followed by a few days in Plymouth went on until May, when we were suddenly ordered to go full speed ahead to Dover. This of course presaged the fall of France, although I did not realise it at the time.

Patrolling the English Channel

We patrolled in the Channel, and in mid-May were heavily attacked by Stukas  and suffered many casualties, but not much damage to the ship, just splinters and bullet holes mainly in the forward part on the starboard side. But I traced a series of nicks on machinery in the engine room and found one shrapnel piece which had missed my face by a few inches; I was unaware of it because the attacks were so noisy.

We were ordered to Holland - Ijmuiden - and went inland up a long narrow canal. The German invasion of Holland had started. We waited for a couple of hours, then a large number of civilians, men and women, appeared carrying briefcases and suitcases. I remember some standing by the break of the fo'castle looking sad. I don't suppose they landed in their own country again for at least another four years. The rumour was that the cases were full of diamonds! We went astern out of the canal, thankful that it had kept quiet, and landed these people at Tilbury the next morning. After we left Holland a destroyer was bombed in the canal but got back safely.

We went straight back to Dover. We oiled and watered at every available opportunity and now patrolled off Dover to Boulogne, where we picked up some soldiers in a rowing boat who were trying to cross the channel. From them, we began to realise the seriousness of the situation, and later in the afternoon, engaged some tanks and transport moving along the cliff top near Boulogne. I think it must have been one of the earliest occurrences of a warship at sea engaging enemy tanks ashore.

That same evening, we were ordered into Boulogne to take off soldiers. There must have been two to three hundred, and some Royal Marines, who I remember were very steady whereas the soldiers were nervous. Whilst loading this lot and still tied up alongside the jetty, the ship's guns engaged enemy tanks, and quite well too, for after a few rounds they retreated. We were able to complete embarking troops and got out of harbour stern first, though still firing the light machine guns (0.5" calibre) from the bridge to the harbour walls.
Click on the links to read the Report of the Proceedings by the CO of HMS Windsor.

The soldiers were landed at Dover and we returned fully expecting to have to go into Calais. Fortunately, that never happened, and I doubt whether we would have got out of Calais.

Dunkirk

Next began the evacuation of Dunkirk, six trips in all. The first day, we anchored off the beaches, but embarkation was terribly slow, as we had only our own ship's boats to go to and from the shore. We spent all day drifting near the beach, at the same time ready to move and (hopefully) dodge air attacks. We returned to Dover arriving at dawn, unloaded the soldiers then oiled and took on water, slept for a very few hours and started back to Dunkirk.

This time we arrived whilst it was still daylight, about 6.30 in the evening, and went alongside a wooden jetty to embark as many soldiers as possible. It was all very haphazard, using mess tables as gangways to slide down and any ladder that was long enough, while firing at enemy aircraft that came near. It was extremely tricky handling the ship for there were sunken ships with masts and funnels sticking up out of the water quite close to the jetty. We took on seven or eight hundred soldiers at a time and as most had to remain on the upper deck, it made the ship rather top heavy, so we could not manoeuvre at speed when attacked.

We made six trips in all and I read that we were officially credited with 3,990 soldiers; on the last trip some were French. This trip was especially hazardous as whilst manoeuvring on the way out, one of the shafts struck a wreck, so we were only able to steam back on one engine.

During these trips, I had kept spare socks, vests and other items in case I encountered Murray.  On one occasion, on an early trip, we went alongside a stricken ship in the Channel and offered help. As it turned out, they did not need us but I found out afterwards that Murray was aboard that ship, but on the other side, and so crammed in that he could not move to see what was going on.

All the trips were scary and very tiring and we knew ships were being sunk, so we wondered when and if our turn would come. But it gives some idea of the morale at that time that when we were ordered back to Portsmouth for repairs the ship's company, through a few spokesmen, volunteered to do another trip. It was refused, as the last big embarkation had been arranged.

So back on one engine to Portsmouth, into dry dock for repairs to the propeller and shaft, and four days' leave each watch. I went up to Rhyl. Betty and I spent the four days in Llandudno, where I slept for most of every day in a deck chair on the beach!  The weather was fine, as indeed it was throughout the Dunkirk evacuation.

Convoy duty in the Dover Straits

The ship put out to sea again and we moved from Dover to Sheerness.  Our duties were convoying through the Dover Straits as far as the Isle of Wight and back again. We invariably received attention from enemy aircraft, guns from France, and E boats  between Ramsgate and Dungeness. We seldom saw our own aircraft. Our other duty was to escort minesweepers which kept the Channel clear.

This went on for about six weeks, and then while we were escorting two minesweepers, we were attacked. The ship fired every possible gun, and a German aircraft got in the way of some of the shells and came down. Our humane skipper manoeuvred the ship to see if there were any survivors - there were none - when we were attacked again and hit. One bomb went down through the magazine, and out the ship's bottom, leaving the fin within the ship, but the bomb exploded outside. You could call this a near miss!  We took a heavy list and eventually retired back to Sheerness.

There were other excitements. On one occasion during a convoy a thick fog came about; there was no radar on ships then. We had twenty ships of all sorts, colliers, trawlers, coasters, travelling at about five or six knots, all going down the Channel to the Isle of Wight. But the visibility was so poor that it was decided to edge in a bit towards the coast, and anchor. Unfortunately, another convoy coming up channel decided to do the same thing in the same place, so here were forty ships going their different ways in a thick fog, visibility about five yards, bells and sirens and hooters sounding all over the place from different directions. It was quite frightening to see ships suddenly loom out of the fog and missing by only a few yards. I was off watch and on deck looking, until we anchored. It was not until the fog lifted that we realised just what had happened.

But to continue about the bomb damage: we put into Sheerness with the heavy list to starboard. Shortly there came instructions to go up the Thames to Green and Silley Weirs, off East India Dock Road. They had a docking facility for us, so we were finally towed up the Thames and into dock, where the holes were stopped up. I don't remember getting leave on that occasion but we came out of dock and tied up in one of the basins there.

Sheerness and Harwich

Lt Cdr Stanley G.T. Ewles RNMany merchant ships used London as a port at that time. The first night we were tied up in the basin was also the first night of the heavy night air raids on London, and was concentrated on the East End. We only stayed there for a night or two, and we were up all night with fire hoses running. We escaped without damage, though there were ships and buildings on fire all around.

On returning to Sheerness, the ship made up one of a flotilla of destroyers, all of them boats built at the end of World War I. This was about the time when the invasion  was expected, and we were in the front line. Late evening all the ships put out to sea and after an hour or so steaming, when darkness came we were all anchored, steam on the engines, everyone waiting, gun crews at their stations: the ships were ready to slip the anchor and engage the invasion force. This routine carried on for many nights, but eventually as we now know, it was called off.

The ship was then stationed at Harwich for a while then we were sent on Atlantic convoys. So up around the north of Scotland we went, and after a day or so encountered heavy weather, which we did not mind because it made it difficult for submarines to get to periscope depth to view ships. But leaks started developing, and we were showing a nice oil slick so we were not much good as an ocean going escort. We were ordered back to the North Sea again, to Grimsby, where we went in dock to repair the hull and I had a few days' leave.

On coming out of dock, we were transferred back to Sheerness and Harwich. This was late 1941 and the area was unpleasant. Ships were being damaged and you began to wonder when your turn was coming. Many ships, merchant in particular, were sunk by acoustic mines  being laid at night by enemy aircraft. We still carried out night patrols and one night we were in company with another destroyer which struck a mine. She did not sink and we towed her back to port.

Bombed!

The very next night when we were on patrol on our own, I saw an enemy float plane fly over us, very low. I then went below - it was my watch, eight to twelve midnight - and had just reached the bottom of the engine room ladder to the control room when there was an almighty bang. The ship lifted and dropped, the lights faded and I saw a wall of steam coming at me. I was up the ladder fast, where someone had already pulled the emergency stop valve to the engines. There was nothing we could do: the ship was afloat but could not move because the rudder was jammed; we were at an angle which prevented being towed;   all the supporting castings (the feet of the main engines) were cracked and broken, as were the dynamos and boiler room fans. No steam, no lights and unable to be towed from ahead or astern: it was a long, long night.

The next morning a tug came out and secured itself alongside so it could tow us in.  Portable petrol driven dynamos were put aboard and about two thirds of the crew were sent by rail to Chatham. The remainder, which included me, remained aboard and the next day the ship was towed from Harwich to Chatham; it was not a pleasant journey. We were then sent back to Portsmouth. I lost the box of tools which I had carefully assembled since the loss of the previous one on the Iron Duke. It went down into the engine room bilge and that was that!  But my clothes and personal things were all untouched. So there I was, back in Portsmouth. I was there about two nights, and I remember a heavy raid  on one of them.

*******************

Stan Ewles left HMS Windsor while she was being repaired and was sent to Liverpool to join HMS Tulip, a brand new Flower Class Corvette, as Chief Engine Room Artificer (CERA) on 6 January 1941. The previous "Chief", appointed while the ship was being built and for her sea trials at Tobemory, was sentenced to a spell in prison for smuggling
on the day Stan Ewles joined.

These sturdy long range corvettes could escort a convoy across the Atlantic without refueling and had a crew of 70 - 80. Each convoy lasted two to three weeks and was followed by about four days in Albert Docks at Liverpool before going out again. After a long slow convoy to Halifax Tulip was sent to Charleston on the eastern seabord of America to have her well-deck covered in to make the ship a little drier for the crew in the forecastle. "The American were very generous and we were overwhelmed with invitations during the three weeks we were there."

They were in the West Indies hunting u-boats when America entered the war after the attack on Pearl Harbour on 7 December 1941. Stan Ewles lost two of his three POs and a third of his stokers to sickness, they were all hard pressed and morale deteriorated.

They were ordered to Freetown in West Africa, 'one of the most worrying trips ever ... as we only had 300 tons of fuel ... and eventually arrived with only five tons left". They went from there to Colombo, Ceylon, via Cape Town and Mauritius, Diego Garcia and the Maldives. After the fall of Singapore most of the Eastern Fleet withdrew westward but Tulip remained, escorting convoys from Bombay to the Persian Gulf.

"My health gradually deteriorated and ship's morale too. There were no fresh foods ... Alterations to the ship's structure which had been made for heavy Atlantic weather did not help in the terrific heat of the Gulf. Stokers were put on twenty minute shifts in boiler rooms and the coolest engine room temperature was at 4 am when it dropped to 105F! With my shortage of engine room staff I began to feel the strain. One incident I recall was storming up on the bridge and telling the captain he must get rid of me or the first lieutenant. To my surprise, the latter left a few days later!

I collapsed on more than one occasion, and once I found myself in the sick bay of a cruiser ... a doctor sat up all night watching me. Our ship did not carry any medical staff. I began to develop boils and ulcers and began treating myself. We eventually reached Bombay and I went ashore to the sick bay. I was promptly whisked away to hospital and later to a sort of nursing home. I protested to the doctor that I did not want to leave my ship but was told that if I ever wanted to get home alive I had better stay there. So I never saw the ship again."

Stan Ewles was invalided home on New Year's Day 1943 aboard the Britannic which was full to capacity of invalids, nurses and Italian POW. After leave Stan was posted to HMS Indefatigable, an aircraft carrier being built at John Brown's shipyard on the Clyde. With 2,000 men it was very different from HMS Tulip with 70. Stan was alloted Flight Deck Machinery, the arrester and barrier wires used in take off and landing. Indefatigable and an escort carrier took part in a successful attack on Tirpitz in a Norwegian Fjord. On returning to Rosyth Stan took the exam for Warrant Engineer Officer and "left the ship on the same day that King George VI visited her, but we missed one annother!" While waiting for his promotion to come through Stan was appointed Chief ERA on HMS Vega, his third V & W, which was escorting east coast convoys from Rosyth to Sheerness and back. To continue Stan's story of his "Navy Days" click on the link.

Dunkirk

13 May 13th
Admiral Ramsey ordered HMS Windsor and HMS Codrington to go to a small jetty west of La Panne to evacuate some civilian personnel. Both destroyers approached the area with caution, as it was not known if the group would still be there or not, it was also getting dark. As the two destroyers approached the jetty they could see some civilians, so they came alongside the jetty and took the passengers aboard. We wasted no time in getting away. Later, when approaching Dover we found out that our passengers were the Dutch government and members of the Dutch Royal Family. They had with them a nanny who was carrying a small baby. That baby is now Queen Beatrix of Holland.  

May 23rd
At 2130 hours Admiral Ramsey ordered Windsor who, at the time was off Calais to proceed to Boulogne. She arrived almost an hour after the others had departed. Despite the confusion she managed to get alongside and take aboard some 600 troops as well as all the wounded and the rest of the demolition party without damage to herself there were still more troops there so Ramsey ordered two more destroyers, the Vimera and Wessex to assist.  

May 25th.
Windsor and Verity left Dover to cover the withdrawal of small vessels waiting off Calais to carry out the evacuation when ordered.  

May 26th

0140 Windsor picked up three soldiers from a raft off Calais.
At 0300 it was decided not to evacuate Calais, so assisted Verity to escort small craft back to Dover.  

0645 An attack by dive-bombers, no hits due to the expert handling of the ship by the skipper.  

0745. Anchored in the Downs disembarked the three soldiers into a boat from the Fervent.  

1700 Returned to Dover.  

May 27th 0635
Left Dover to patrol: 0904, closed Mona's Isle who was loaded full of soldiers, she had been machine gunned so we escorted her back to Dover then resumed patrol at 1515.  

May 28th, 1145.
We were close to number one buoy (near south Goodwin light house vessel) with several hundred soldiers aboard when we were attacked by fifteen dive-bombers supported by ten fighters. No direct hits but we received extensive damage from bomb splinters and bullets, the wireless telegraph was out of action, the violent evasive action made things rather precarious, again we were attacked but managed to avoid all the bombs aimed at us, but a near miss caused some damage to the boiler room and there were between twenty and thirty casualties on her crowded decks. We made Dover harbour and repairs were put in hand immediately.
Lt Cdr Peter D.H.R. Pelly's RoP on the action is in the National Archives at Kew.

May 30th 0930
We sailed from Dover for Dunkirk arriving at La Panne at 1330 and proceeded to embark troops from small boats for the journey to Dover.  

1530: Rear Admiral Dover transferred his staff from M/S Hebe to the Windsor, and he was landed at La Panne to visit Lord Gort to discuss the situation.
1700 The Rear Admiral and his staff were transferred to the Worcester so Windsor proceeded back to Dover, landing 606 more troops.  

May 31st 0200
Windsor sailed from Dover once again bound for Dunkirk arriving at 0600 and began embarking more troops, returning to Dover at 1000 and disembarked another 658 soldiers.  
Within two hours she was once again on her way back to Dunkirk and on arrival secured alongside the Icarus which was alongside the East Pier taking aboard yet more troops, returning to Dover with 588 of the tired out soldiers.

June 1st ; 0545
Departed from Dover on the now familiar run to Dunkirk this time tied up alongside the Vanquisher and Icarus and the P/V Maid of Orleans.

June 1 - 2, overnight.
The German heavy guns had now the control of all three routes into Dunkirk, which meant that the final stages of the evacuation had to be carried out under the cover of darkness on the night of the 1st-2nd June.  Admiral Ramsey reported that there were many more troops ashore, and more ships were required, but there would never be enough.   During the night, the destroyers Codrington, Sabre, Whitshed, Windsor and Winchelsea managed to bring out a large number of those stranded troops of which there was a large assortment, French and Belgian besides our own, it was impossible to tell which regiments they belonged.  

June 2nd
The German U-boats were still at work and one of their victims was the anti-submarine trawler Blackrover. She was torpedoed and sunk near "T" buoy at 1618. Her sister ship Westella went to her rescue, and whilst picking up survivors she too received the same treatment by the same U-boat. Because of the urgency of the operation accidents were bound to happen and sure enough two of the destroyers were damaged when they were in collision damaging the bows and propeller of the Malcolm, Whitshed collided with the Java but both carried on with their desperate task despite the damage they had received. Eleven destroyers, which included Venomous, Winchelsea and Windsor with the help of thirteen personnel ships which included the King George V, the Rouen, Royal Sovereign and St Helier between them they brought back to Dover 26,257 men. Sadly some ships had to return empty as the troops failed to show up. BY 2330 Capt Tennent who was ashore was able to send the signal "B.E.F Evacuated".  

HMS Windsor herself brought back 8,991 troops in seven trips across the channel. She was one of the first to go to Dunkirk and one of the last to leave. An achievement to be proud of.


Skirmish with German commerce raider Michel in the English Channel
14 March 1942

In July 1940, Windsor with the destroyer leader HMS Montrose and HMS Walpole, and HMS Whitshed was assigned to the 16th Destroyer Flotilla at Harwich for convoy escort and patrol duty in the North Sea. On 28 October 1940, Windsor towed Walpole to Sheerness after Walpole detonated a magnetic mine and became disabled and on 8 December Windsor herself struck a naval mine off Aldeburgh, Suffolk, and entered Chatham Dockyard for repairs.

Windsor returned to the 16th Destroyer Flotilla at Harwich in July 1941 and resumed her North Sea convoy and patrol duties.  On 13 March 1942, Windsor, Walpole, and the escort destroyers HMS Blencathra, HMS Calpe, and HMS Fernie intercepted the German merchant raider Michel. during her voyage from Flushing in the Netherlands to German-occupied France. She
was being escorted through the English Channel by five torpedo boats and nine minesweepers. Windsor exchanged gunfire with the German ships on 14 March and made a torpedo attack against them, sustaining superficial damage from the German gunfire.

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0552.. Altered course in succession to 135, and received 'Enemy in sight to Starboard".  

0553.. Received "Stand by to turn to Starboard to fire torpedoes" Tubes were brought to the ready Port  

0554.. Received "Enemy in sight to Port" While altering back in succession to 100 degrees, tubes were trained for and aft, as it was not clear at this stage on which side the torpedo target lay.   Fire was opened on a destroyer bearing 130. 'B' gun illuminated with star shell. Short range weapons opened fire on destroyer and E-boats.  

0555.. Walpole was observed to turn away to Port. At the same moment a merchant ship was sighted bearing approximately 100, range 4000, approximate course 230.   Tubes were brought to the ready Starboard. Enemy sped was estimated at 15 knots. Speed was increased to 25 knots.  

0557.. Windsor turned to Port and fired torpedoes at an estimated range of 2,500 yards and enemy inclination m090 right.  

0559.. Ship was steadied up on a retiring course 315, with Walpole on the Starboard beam, distance 2 cables.  

0600.. A large explosion was seen amidships in the merchant ship. Fire was ceased after torpedoes had been fired at Calpe and Fernie were by this time somewhere between Windsor and the enemy, and a large amount of smoke made it impossible to select targets.  

0605.. Windsor took station astern of Walpole.   Windsor was under erratic fire from 0554 to 0559 a number of shells fell close, at 0556 she received a direct hit, a shell estimated as 3 or 4inch caliber demolished the motor boat and caused superficial damage.

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Michel was "on the loose" until she was torpedoed and sunk by the US submarine Tarpon on 20 October 1943 within 50 miles of Japan. Her Captain and 290 crew members were lost. The 116 survivors reached safety in Japan after a three-day journey in open boats. Her loss marked the end of the cruises of German auxiliary commerce raiders.

Tea for the Town
Tommy Vann

Tommy Vann Whilst in convoy in the Channel during 1942, a thick fog descended upon us. We were therefore making our way slowly when there was a tremendous crash, one of the merchant ships that we were escorting the Methol Hill had collided with us and made a fourteen hole in the side of us. Fortunately the water tight doors were closed so only the store room was flooded.

Our nearest port was Hull so we made our way there as fast as possible. While underway Chief E.R.A. Standing DSM went down to retrieve the rum, he was heard to say "Sod the rest of the stores". On arrival in Hull, the only dock that could possibly accommodate us was a large Arctic trawler dock, we managed to get in with approximately a foot to spare each end.

Half the ships company was sent on fourteen days leave subject to recall. I had the second leave, that is if the ship would be in that long. Being an engine room rating I had to turn to and clean ship. All damaged stores were to be put on the jetty. When going ashore one night I noticed four tea chests drying out on the jetty with the rest of the stores. I said to my 'oppo' (mate), Chopper Charman, (you've probably guessed why he was called 'Chopper', need I say more) "I'm going to play a little joke". So I put my mother's name and address on the chest. Low and behold, I received a letter telling me that it had arrived by an R.N. Truck that had been to our Naval Stores in town, Leicester. I just could not believe it.

Anyway the tea was shared with the neighbours in the street and sometime later I received a letter from one of those neighbours, thanking me for the tea, they enjoyed it very much, even if it did taste a bit salty, One dear old lady said that it must have been the sea air that had made it taste like that. I of course knew better.

How Many Lumps of Sugar?

After completing my training at the new barracks at Gosport and also at St Vincent I was drafted to HMS Windsor.   She was laying alongside at Parkestone quay near Harwich.   We soon set sail for Rosyth, it was a fairly rough passage, any way I felt rough, so much so that I gave my packet of 20 'Players' with 19 still in it away, that was the end of smoking for me. I found drinking much better, 'an eighteen year old trying to grow up'.

Later we found ourselves in Scapa and preparing to escort two tankers to Spitzbergen in order to fuel North bound convoys to Russia. Shortly after sailing one of the generators packed up, so there was no heating on the mess decks. As we approached the Arctic circle and among the ice, the ship of course went stone cold and never seemed to warm up.   Windsor and Worcester took the tankers up the fjord to Spitzbergen where we lowered the whaler and a party went ashore.  

They came back with various articles, including boxes of lump sugar. One 'Jolly Jack' had a fur coat and a spear. What he hoped to do with the spear, heaven only knows.   On the way back we met up with a south bound convoy (QP14). The Worcester lost a man overboard, also a Tribal class destroyer, HMS Somali, was sunk. The sugar was divided among the lads when we got back to Chatham.

Unfortunately some of the lads in my mess lost out when the dock yard matey's loosened the pipe gland leading to the 'heads' (toilets) and sprayed the sugar that was left in the box!

First out and Last Home

Traditionally, the destroyer is the first of all fighting ships to leave port, the first to fight and the last to return to the relative inactivity of an anchorage. There is the vivid instance of HMS Vimy which lost a screw when ramming a U-boat, and escorted a convoy 6,000 miles to North Africa before putting in for repairs. Again there is the amazing mileage of the old Windsor, one of the first destroyers to reach Dunkirk for the evacuation of our troops from France. In eight months she steamed 30,000 miles and in one month completed 4,060 miles. In 1941 a six month commission involved 16,000 miles and in 1942 she logged another 24,000. One of her sister ships HMS Woolston celebrated her 25th birthday by escorting a convoy towards the landing beaches in Sicily. "The army is dependant on us. We will not let them down". Lieut. F. W. Hawkins had told his ships company. For nine days the Woolston patrolled for lurking U-boats off Sicily, brought enemy planes crashing in flames, and of 62 days, spent 60 of them at sea!


D-Day landings in Normandy

In May 1944 Windsor was assigned to support the upcoming Allied invasion of Normandy. At the beginning of June she  joined the corvette HMS Starwort, and two Motor Launches of Coastal Forces off Southend as Escort Group 132 for Convoy ETC2Y. The Convoy consisted of 13 Coasters taking pre-loaded transport, five Water Carriers and ten Oil Tankers. On 4 July the Convoy took passage to the Solent, with the Escort Group supplemented by the corvette HMS Buttercup and a Motor Minesweeper.

I was sent these photographs by Philip Donald, the Grandson of AB Thomas John Cork, who was born at Neath in South Wales in 1922 and served in HMS Windsor as a Gunner for several years. He was the "Communications Number" on B-Gun wearing the headset with the ear phones. The names of the other members of the Gun Crew were written on the reverse but at present we are unable to put names to faces. Windsor retained her original 4.7 inch guns unlike HMS Vanity which was fitted with twin high attitude 4 inch Guns when she was converted into an anti-aircraft escort, a WAIR conversion, in 1939. The communications number manned the telephone to the Director and Transmitting Station on the bridge. You can find out more about the role of the 14 man gun crew on HMS Vanity by clicking on the link.

Gunner CoxGun Crew
A studio portrait of AB
Thomas John Cork of B Gun crew (left) and relaxing with the Gun Crew on right
Thomas Cork is on the left and the names of four of the other members
of the crew crew are written on the reverse: C.J. Young,  E.G. Bird, Francis McCall, W. Fishcroft  and G. Clark
Courtesy of Philip Donald

The invasion was postponed from 5 to 6 June due to bad weather and on 7 June, the day after the initial landings, the convoy arrived off the invasion beaches to discharge its cargo, and then returned to the Nore to begin a convoy cycle supporting the build-up of Allied forces and supplies in Normandy.

We are hoping to find out more about the wartime service of Thomas Cork as a Gunner in HMS Windsor. Towards the end of the war he left Windsor and joined a ship which was ordered to join the Pacific Fleet in the war against Japan. After the war he worked for Handley Page, including work on the Victor Bombers.


If you want to find out more about the wartime service of a member of your family who served on HMS Windsor you should first obtain a copy of their service record
To find out how follow this link: http://www.holywellhousepublishing.co.uk/servicerecords.html


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



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