HMS Windsor, a member of the Rosyth Escort Force, 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
joined the Grand Fleet and 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. 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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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
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.
ATLANTIC 1939 – 40 DUNKIRK
1940 ARCTIC 1942 ENGLISH CHANNEL 1942 – 43
NORTH SEA 1942 – 43 NORMANDY 1944
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)
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)
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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!