Click on the links within this brief
outline for first hand accounts by the men who served on HMS Wishart and for a more detailed chronolgy see www.naval-history.net
Wishart (D67) was one of two Modified W-Class Destroyers ordered from Thornycroft at Woolston,
Southampton, in January 1918 (the other was HMS Witch). Four other V & Ws were built at Thorneycroft's Woolston
shipyard on the opposite side of the River Itchen from Southampton. She was launched on 18th July 1919 and
named after Admiral Sir James Wishart (1659-1723), Captain of the Fleet at the Battle of Vigo Bay in 1702 and MP
for Portsmouth. She was completed in June 1920 and is easily
distinguished from other ships of this type by having two funnels of
almost equal height.
the inter-war years she served in the
Atlantic Fleet and the Mediterranean and from 1932 on the China Station
with the 8th Destroyer Flotilla. On the 14 March 1932 she rescued the
crew of the USN Gun Boat USS Fulton when she caught fire while HMS Whitshed stood by to help if needed. HMS Wishart was commanded by Cdr Lord Louis
Mountbatten from 1934-6 when she returned to the Mediterranean as part of the First Destroyer Flotilla.
September 1939 she was based at Gibraltar with the 13th Destroyer
Flotilla escorting convoys to Liverpool but in March was transferrred
to Freetown, West Africa, for the local escort of Atlantic Convoys. In
June 1940 she returned to Gibraltar and operated with H Force escorting
carriers flying off aircraft to defend Malta. On 27 June 1941 she sank the
Italian submarine, Glauco west of Gibraltar.
post refit trials she returned to Gibraltar and as part of Force H
escorted repeated operations to fly off aircraft to defend Malta. With
(D35), and aircraft of the Royal Air Force's No. 202 Squadron she sank
the German submarine U-74 with all hands east of Cartagena, Spain, in a
depth-charge attack on 2 May 1942. In August 1942 she escorted the
convoy which broke the blocade of Malta, Operation Pedestal, during which the aircraft carrier, HMS Eagle, was lost.
In November 1942 she escorted convoys to the landing beaches in North Africa, Operation Torch, and was awarded prize money for her help in salvaging the American troopship, Thomas Stone. On 11 December 1942 she rescued survivors from HMS Bleanwhen she was torpedoed by U-443 sixty miles west of Oran. Ten days later she assisted with rescue operations when MV Strathalan was torpedoed on 21 December 1942 with more than 5,000 troops aboard.
Cdr Scott in HMS Wishart
was the Senior Officer of the escort for one of the first through Convoy from
Gib to Alex after the surrender of Axis Forces in North Africa, Convoy
GTX.3, 22 June - 3 July 1943; see his Report of Proceedings, "Only Wishart, Venomous and the trawler Stella Carina were with the convoy for the whole passage from Gib to Alex." A week later on 10 July Wishart with Venomous and HMS Witherington escorted the troop ships to the landing beaches at Augusta in Sicily, Operation Husky.
On 24 February 1944 she took part with HMS Anthony
in sinking U-761 which was detected with an airborne Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD) by
a Catalina flying boat and its position marked with
smoke bombs. This is believed to be the first time a u-boat was
setected and sunk by this method and the operation was photographed
from the air. Throughout
1944 she remained at Gibraltar escorting convoys in the Western
Mediterranean and in January 1945 was withdrawn from operational use
and returned to Britain, was paid off and reduced to Reserve and then
sold for beaking up at Inverkeithing, near Rosyth.
Former members of the V
& W Destroyer Association A. Cameron (Cheltenham), B.
Johnstone (Hertford), A.W. Jones (Faversham, Kent), D. Lochead
(Hertford), Ron Rendle (Braintree, Essex), D. Shepherd (Basingstoke,
Hants), and M. Warren (Portsmouth)
The Ship's Company of HMS Wishart Double click on the image to display full size The photograph was probably taken after her refit and recommissioning in September 1941 whenCdr. Humphrey Gilbert Scott, RNwas appointed CO
The photographs were provided by Kelly Porter and "Gav Mac" whose Grandfathers, were stokers on HMS Wishart. Can you recognise any of these men?
Sixteen young Hostilities Only (HO) ratings joined Wishart in February 1942 while she was based at Gibraltar. They went from Greenock to Gibraltar on the former passenger liner, Llanstephen Castle, which was requisitioned for use as a troop carrier and stayed on the depot ship, Maidstone, until the Wishart
came in. They joined on
the same day, shared the cramped living quarters on the mess decks,
drank together when back in Gib and some are still friends today.
Doug Lochhead described his time in WIshart in an an article for Hard Lying,
the magazine of the V & W Destroyer Association and although Doug
died some years ago his son continued to attend the annual reunions of the
Association. All at sea in HMS Wishart by Doug Lochead
In 1941 I went off to HMS Colingwood
at Fareham to join the Navy. We were always hungry. One
Sunday an old C.P.O. standing by the serving hatch asked
"Anybody want any more cake?" Five tables got broken in the rush.
While I was there they were filming "In
Which We Serve". Some of the men were going to the film
studio to jump into a tank of oil and water and were getting thirty bob
(shillings) a day for it.
Those who were not picked and were still only getting two shillings a day got the hump. At the end of the film they show the new recruits
marching behind the bands, that was us. Neol Coward wrote the screen play for this patriotic war film based on the story of HMS Kelly and played the part of her captain, Lord Mountbatten (the CO of HMS WIshart in 1934-6).
training, and leave we ended up in Stockheath Camp, Havant. For anyone
who never went there, let me explain. The builders were still in, there
was a foot of mud and we had to walk on duck boards, if you fell of it
took two to pull you out. At four o'clock the call went out over the
tannoy, "One hand from each hut to collect coke and candle issue". No
lights and just a combustion stove, we had bets on how many sheets of
the roof we could get to glow!
One weekend there was an exercise, us against the Royal Marines. They
were trying out new field kitchens as well, and it was going to be for three
or four days. After about six hours in a ditch with snow and ice, I
said to my 'Oppo', "the first Marines we see, we surrender to". They
were chuffed to get two prisoners and took us back to their
headquarters, which was an old farmhouse. The Officer took one look and
knew that he had a pair of idiots. They put us in the hay loft, twenty
minutes later they sent up eggs, bacon, sausages and tea, followed by
chicken for dinner, we even got a tot! When it was all over, our hut
wanted to know why we were dry and not covered in mud.
I was then given a draft chit to HMS Wishart. We caught a troop ship, the Llanstephen Castle from Greenock to Gibraltar and stayed on the 'Maidstone' Until the Wishart
came in. Within five hours we sailed. Two hours later I was down the
magazine, with guns firing, God knows what at, and for the first and
only time I said "What the hell have I let myself in for?" We did the
North African landings and towed a Yankee troop transport the USS Thomas Stone that had been torpedoed. After the war I received three guineas (three pounds three shillings) salvage money.
Christmas day 1942 we saw a crowd in Algiers and followed it thinking
it was some sporting event, we ended up in Notre Dame looking at
Admiral Darlan laying in state. Next it was the Malta convoys with runs
ashore as Tunis, Oran, Tripoli and Bizerta. I went ashore to see my
cousin who was in the army at a town called Ferryville about twenty
miles away. As the only pub was there and an army convoy was just
leaving, it seemed natural to join it. When we got back, no Wishart! Well it was not the first time I had done 14 day's 10A.
In the 1950's The Royal Naval Association mustered on Horse Guards
Parade prior to marching to the Cenotaph for a Naval Service, the back
to Horse Guards Parade all lined up to be inspected. That year the
inspecting officer was Admiral of the Fleet Sir Andrew Cunningham. I
was in the front row. The Admiral got about five men past me when he
stopped and came back, looked me in the eye and said "I know you, Main
Street Gib' I had you 'off caps', HMS Wishart."
"I didn't think you would remember" I said. "How many A.B.'s do you
think an Admiral knock off? We will have a drink in the festival hall
tonight". This was and he said: "Bugger him, you only salute your own officers in Gibraltar and
he's not one of ours". The car stopped the Admiral put his head out of
the window and called us back and wanted to know the reason why we had
not saluted. I got three days stoppage of pay and leave. I wonder how
many have been 'done' by an Admiral?
After the two most famous convoys, Harpoon and Pedestal
and the eighth army had beaten Rommel's Africa Corps, we then took a
convoy through to Alexandria, the first for a few years. On arrival we
were given a few days leave, so down to the race course we went. We
stayed at a hotel in Mohammed Ali Square and really lived it up. We
mixed in with some army lads who were buying up bales of silk and
souvenirs, as there were about thirty troop ships in the harbour, the
'buzz' was going round that they were going home, and of course we
thought that we would be escorting them and going home as
I was mess caterer and managed to get hold of a few bags of Egyptian
potatoes and gammon hocks. A couple of days before we set sail I
managed to get tonsillitis, so I had to sling my hammock on the upper
deck alongside the Pom-poms. We set sail about 0400 as dawn was
breaking. All the troop ships and cruisers were on the move. The
Captain came on the tannoy. "Gentlemen" he said "You know bloody well
we will not be going home."
So we were off for the invasion of Sicily. As I went down to my mess
the surgeon saw me and wanted to know what I was doing out of my
hammock, I told him that I was not going to get shot at! One of my
mess-mates brought me my dinner of the lovely ham and potatoes that I
had acquired. I just could not eat it. That broke my heart, tho' I did
manage to get my tot down. I felt sorry for those troops
who had bought those bales of silk thinking that they were on their way
home. They must have had them packed in their haversacks.
We went to Salerno for the landings, there were rocket firing ships
beyond us I said "I hope they know what they are doing" because the
rockets were flying over our heads. Suddenly we peeled off and made our
way to Malta, refuelled etc; and then off we went to Taranto. Italy had
just surrendered. On our arrival at Taranto we went alongside the
42,000 ton Battleship Vittoria Veneto,
pride of the Italian navy. One officer, one P.O. And five ratings,
including me, were armed with 303 Lee Enfield rifles. We were to board
her. "What do we do if they don't want to surrender?" Asked someone.
"Oh you'll be all right, just sort it out" we were told. Thank God we
did not have to use our rifles!
That night laying at
anchor, ahead of us lay the mine laying cruiser HMS Abdial,
at about 0200 on the 10 September 1943 there was an explosion. She got rid of her mines and had
Royal Marine Commandoes and their equipment, including trucks on board
that had been picked up at Algiers. Whether it was a mine, human
torpedo or a saboteur that could have been picked up at Algiers we did
not know. We put out scrambling nets and picked up a few survivors, up
anchor and crashed out of the harbour. However we eventually arrived
back in Gibraltar via Catalina, Salerno and Taranto.
While ashore I met up with an old shipmate who was on HMS Hurricane,
they were going home, so I asked him to take the bale of silk and other
goodies to give to my Mother, but they were sunk in the Bay of Biscay
on Christmas Day 1943. Soon after we went back home to have radar towers
fitted, and were in Newport South Wales for about four days. We returned to Gib' where Wishart, Westcott, Witherington, Wivern Verity, Velox, Antelope and Antony were detailed to do a Radar shoot; by then all the destroyers had been fitted with Radar. Wishart
was detailed to provide a target marking party consisting of a Warrant
Gunner and four ratings aboard a trawler. As I was not the flavour of
the month, I was to be one of the four aboard the target towing
trawler. The first salvo came right through the trawlers rigging. The
Radar operators in those days were all seamen who had had no real
training on how to operate the Radar.
One of the trawler's officers had a word with the Warrant Gunner, it seemed that one of the
stokers had been taken ill. "Don't worry, I'll get one of my men to
take his place". Well you can guess who that was going to be. I
thought that I could twiddle a few knobs and valves and I'll be out of
the Gunner's way. The trouble was that when I got down to the boiler
room, there was a shovel and about three tons of coal! I wonder, have
we any shipmates or seamen who have had to shovel coal?
eventually arrived home just before "D" day.
AB Doug Lochead
This article was first published in Hard Lying
The men who served in HMS Wishart
(on right) was 15 when he enlisted in
the Royal Navy. His best friend was Colin Seaman (on the left).
They kept in touch by phone but were not fit enough to attend the
reunions of the V & W
Colin Seaman lived in his own home in Burnham on Crouch, Essex, with
family living nearby and died on Thursday 2 February 2017 at the good
age of 93.
Ron Rendle was 98 when he died on
the 23 December 2017 and will be greatly missed by his former shipmates
in the V & W Destroyer Association. He was a keen photographer but
none of his photographs survived when HMS Bickerton was torpedoed. He
told his story to Bill Forster, an Associate member of the V & W
Association whose father served in HMS Venomous, a sister ship of
Wishart. You can read about Ron's life and listen to the recorded
interview online by clicking on this link.
Take a look at these photographscontributed by the families of men who served on HMS WIshart. There were between 120 and 160
men on WIshart
at any one time and most ratings would only remember the men in their
own Mess. If you recognise a family member who served on WIshart do please get in touch and let us know so that we can add their names and tell their stories. They are mostly stokers.
Generations pass, memories fade ...
I was sent this photograph of AB Samuel Gillan
on the left by his son, Frank Gillan, who was eight when his father
died in 1960. It was the only wartime portrait he had of his father and
all he could tell me about him was that he had served in HMS Wishart and HMS Ladybird,
an Insect Class gunboat built in 1916 and torpedoed off Tobruk in 1941.
It must have been taken in August 1939 as once the war began, for
security reasons, the name of a man's ship was not given on his cap
ribbon, just the words HMS Destroyer.
I was fortunate to find two Service
Certificate for Samuel Gillan online on the National Archives website
and was able to dowload them without charge, a concession during the
Covid Pandemic as they normaly costs £3-60 per record. Had he been born
a few years later his son would have had to prove his relationship to
his father by providing a birth certificate and paid the standard £30 fee charged by the Admiralty for supplying service records.
These handwritten records give the shore base for pay and aministrative
purposes followed by the name of the ships in which a man served in
brackets. They are often difficult to interpret but it appeared that
Samuel Gillan had joined HMS Wishart in August 1939 and remained with her throughout the war.
He was a "regular" - not a
"Hostilities only" conscript - having "signed on" for 5 years
plus 7 in 1926 when he was an 18 year old labourer born at Rutherglen,
Lanarksire, in 1904. After service in HMS Vindictive he had joined HMS Ladybird
on the China Station in 1931 when she was based on the Yangste, China's
largest river which flowed from west to east and reached the sea at Shanghai. V & W Class destroyers were based at Hankow (Wuhan), the highest point on the Yangste which could be reached by ocean going ships, but HMS Ladfybird, an Insect Class gunboat, and river steamers could reach Yichang (Ichang) a further 400 miles upriver. The story of HMS Ladybird from the Danube to the Upper Yangste and her loss at Tobruk in 1941 is told on John (Dusty) Millers's website and you can read the story of some of the survivors on ww2today.com
In 2020 I recorded an interview with 105 year old Lt Cdr John Manners RN, the last surviving Commanding Officer of a wartime destroyer, HMS Viceroy.
Most of the veterans who served in the war have "passed the bar" and
more often than not I am contacted by their sons or grandsons who tell
their story for them but as memories fade mistakes are inevitably made
and Service Certificates provide the basic facts. Frank Gillan agreed
that he must have mis-remembered what he had been told by his Mother as
a small boy and his father had not been serving in HMS Ladybird
in 1941 when she was sunk by German bombers on 12 May but ten years
earlier on the China Station, an exotic posting which most sailors
enjoyed as thy could live like like kings on a ratings pay. Frank
identfied his father as the man to the right of the ships crest in the
photograph of the ship's Company and I have enlarged it so that you can
compare it with his portrait on the left. This can be viewed full size
in a separate window by clicking on the image.