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

HMS Wolfhound
       photograph from AB Fred Gillheard C/JX641432

Click on the links within this brief outline for first hand accounts by the men who served on HMS Wolfhound

HMS Wolfhound was built at Govan on the Clyde and completed in time to serve with the Grand Fleet in the 13th Destroyer Flotilla in the final months of the war. In 1921 she joined the 2nd Destroyer Flotillas as part of the Atlantic Fleet and served in the Mediterranean but was put in Reserve at Chatham.

In 1938 she was converted into an Anti-Aircraft Escort, a WAIR conversion, her pennant number changed from D565 to I56, and she joined the 1st Destroyer Flotilla at Portsmouth. Leading Seaman John Pearce described Wolfhound's role at Calais and Dunkirk in an online interview recorded by the IWM. On Saturday 25 May 1940 HMS Wolfhound bombarded tanks on the approach roads to Calais, disembarked ammunition for the troops, and returned with Vice Admiral Somerville after he had told Brigadier Nicholson that Calais must be defended to the last. On Monday Wolfhound took Captain William G. Tennant RN and a landing party of twelve officers and 160 ratings to Dunkirk to direct operations to evacuate the troops. She berthed alongside the North Mole on a falling tide to disembark the landing party, grounded and lost her port screw going astern to get free. On that day Wolfhound was the first destroyer to evacuate troops from the beaches but the damage caused by grounding prevented her from taking any further part in Operation Dynamo.

From June 1940 onwards Wolfhound was part of the Rosyth Escort Force escorting East Coast convoys. On the 3rd September 1941 she was attacked by JU-88 aircraft while escorting FS.84. A near miss forward caused severe damage and the forward part of the ship broke away and sank near the southern end of the Dudgeon Shoal, fifteen miles off the Norfolk coast. The remaining part was taken in tow and was berthed at Immingham on the 4th September. Len Wadsworth described the problems they had returning to Rosyth. She was eventually repaired and re-commissioned on 31st March 1943, but her condition was such that she could no longer take part in any major action.

At the end of the war, Wolfhound was sent to Bergen and Stavanger as described by Peter Scott and photographed by Fred Gillhead.

Commanding Officers

Cdr John Cronin "Jack" Tovey, RN  (April 1918 - June 1919)
Lt Cdr William Leslie Graham Adams, RN  (May 1933 - Feb 1935)
Lt Cdr John Lee Machin, RN  (Oct 1935 - Feb 1936)
Lt Cdr Philip Lionel Saumarez, RN (May 1936 - Feb 1937)
Lt.Cdr. John Wentworth McCoy, RN  (March 1940 - July 1941)
Lt.Cdr. James Arbouin Burnett, DSC, RN (July - late 1941)
Lt. John Hubert Ackland Benians, DSC, RN (Mar 1943 - Dec 1944)
A/Lt.Cdr. Thomas Aitken Easton, RNVR (Dec 1944 - July 1945)


This short list of officers who served on HMS Wolfhound all have entries on the web site. Further names from the Navy List will be added later. 

Lt Edwin Peter Fitzmaurice Atkinson RN  (Oct 1935 - Feb 1936)
Lt Richard Hugh White Atkins, RN  (August 1927 - June 1928)
Lt John William Huyshe Bennett, RN  (Dec 1936 - Feb 1937)
Gnr George Brooks, RN  (March - Dec 1943)
Lt James Gerald Farrant, RN  (August 1925 - July 1927)
Lt Philip Henry Hadow, RN  (April 1931 - Sept 1932)
Lt John David Hope, RN  (Jan 1945)
Lt Michael Bryan Laing, RN  (1923)
Lt Horace Rochford Law, RN  (May 1934 - July 1935)
Lt Miles Mackereth, RNVR  (April - July 1945)
Surg Lt Arthur Thomas Marshall, RNVR  (1944?)
Lt Charles Alexander Meyer, RN  (June 1934)
Lt Robert G.B.O. Roe, RN  (June 1936 - Feb 1937)
1st Lt Michael Sherwood, RNR  (March 1943 - October 1944)
Lt Charles John Skrine, RN  (August 1930 - Feb 1931)
Lt John Henry Wallace, RN (April 1931 - Sept 1932)

The men in HMS Wolfhound tell their stories

John Pearce, Quartermaster on Wolfhound, describes events at Calais and Dunkirk in May 1940 (IWM Interview)

John Pearce was born in Manchester in 1918 and lived in a "home". His father worked as a boilerman in a hospital and Pearce left school at 14 and worked in a factory at Trafford Park. When war was declared he was a Boys Instructor at HMS Wildfire in Kent. Captain Tudgeway assembled the boys and was cheered when he ended his talk with "to Hell with every German!" At last we knew that Britain was going to do something about it. They spent the next two hours in shelters until the "All Clear" was declared.

In 1938 he was posted to HMS Whitley, the first ship to be given 4-inch anti-aircraft guns and was told that if war broke out she would defend London. They needed to add ballast in the bilges to make up the weight of the 4.7-inch guns removed. The 4-inch shells included their catridges and were raised on a cruet by a hoist to the gun crews, there was no need to assemble shells and catridge before loading. He was made Ship's Writer as he could type and was "clerk" to Lt Bell, the Correspondence Officer.
He was given a little hut as an office on the dockside at Chatham. The CO, J.W. Bolwood (?), inspected the book in which he recorded deliveries of packages which had to be signed by Lt Bell and found a book recording future ship movements which had been signed for was missing. Lt Bell was court martialled for the loss of the book he had recorded as being delivered and Pearce was a witness. Lt Bell was severely reprimanded but his officer "friend" proved that the book could not have been received as it would not have fitted in the size of envelope. Pierce was posted to Wolfhound, the "Guard Ship" at Calais which bombarded tanks approaching along the roads to Calais but he knew very little about what was going on. He was a LS Quartermaster on the searchlight platform and saw a bomb fall down the funnel of a destroyer, HMS Wessex, two miles offshore and it looked as if the whole ship had been wiped out but the sghip was not lost and most of the men were saved.  As Quartermaster he was in the wheelhouse when they were  alongside and the CO told soldiers on the quayside they could not come aboard.

They returned to Dover and put a brow out to the foc'sle. Two double decker buses arrived from Chatham with a landing party of about 150, their first indication that they were to pick anybody up. He directed them down to the iron deck near the torpedo tubes and returned to Wheelhouse where his job was to steer the ship. It was a beautiful day, everybody relaxing, smoking in the sun on the iron deck when they heard the screaming noise of a Stuka dive bomber. They heeled to port and there was chaos as they dashed to their action stations. They weren't hit but bombs fell on all side and
they shot down one of the three Stukas . Dunkirk was wreathed in black smoke. The jetty was a long trestle wooden structure with a beacon light house at one end, part of it broken off from the rest of the jetty. Bombs were falling indiscrimately, soldiers diving into the water to escape the bombing with their boots and uniforms. He thought Power, a tall commanding figure was in charge of the landing party of "blue jacketts". They went alongside the jetty, portside to. The gangway was higher on the jetty than on the ship and a French civilian on the jetty was yelling out, warning them that the tide was dropping rapidly and they would soon be aground. The 1st Lt took them out astern but they lost or damaged their port screw and tied up alongside a French trawler. They did not open fire on the planes overhead, perhaps not to attract attention to themselves. The CO came aboard, they again went out stern first and headed out to sea.

Pearce was told to report to the CO, Lt Cdr J.W. McCoy RN, on the bridge and was ordered to take the motor boat to a beach in front of a gas holder which was on fire to pick up refugees. He had no idea they were there to evacuate the troops. It was part of his job a
s Quartermaster to drive the motor boat; he took the tiller and communicated by whistle with the the "tankie" a two badge AB who was in charge of the engine, and they towed the whaler with an AB aboard with a rifle. It was about 2 - 3 pm, there were no refugees on the beach, but a few soldiers with one wounded eventually turned up. He waited half an hour but nobody else came so they made their way back to their ship, the only ship waiting offshore. He was ordered back to the beach, nobody was there for some time but eventually he managed to fill their boat, taking aboard 30 - 40 troops, mostly in the whaler. A calm beautiful day, a scrambling net was lowered so that the troops could climb aboard the Wolfhound. More troops arrived on the beach, and Pearce was ordered back in the whaler to bring them out to the ship. Drifters and smaller crafts arrived close inshore and he took the troops to them so that he could complete more trips. He made between a dozen and twenty trips. He returned to Wolfhound for instructions and was told to tow six lifeboats from a liner lying further out to the beach and return them afterwards to the liner. The sea was crowded but there was no bombing of the beach and he could cope with the numbers on the beach. The sea was now quite crowded and he could only tow three of the lifeboats back to the liner. It was now dark and they left a phosphorescent wake and he was worried that this might be seen by enemy aircraft.

He returned to Wolfhound and was told they would be hoisted aboard, as the drifters had been taking troops to Wolfhound which was now full.  It was now 2 am and had nothing to eat since 2 pm in the afternoon but had to organise the lifting an stowing of the boats himself. He went down to the Mess Deck for tea but the stench was dreadful, choc-a-block with soldiers, so he went back to the wheelhouse without a cup of tea and Wolfhound made her way back to Dover. The missing screw  affected the steering and she needed 15 degrees on to counter this. They were attacked on the way back, a plane firing tracer bullets. The troops left the ship, leaving utter chaos behind, souvenirs, letters, tin helmets and even wallets. Five people had died on the way over. Opened deadlights and port holes to let in fresh air and cleaned the ship from top to bottom. They went back to Chatham but had to give priority to another destroyer, the Isis or Inglefield, one of the I Boats. He returned in civilian clothes to his home in Sheerness at dawn and felt embarrassed to be seen in civies as all the troops were arriving. He was shocked to see first hand how bad things were, his wife was expecting a baby and he thought the Germans might soon be invading Britain.

The IWM also has an interview with Jack Sharp, a signalman who served in HMS Ivanhoe and Wolfhound during Dunkirk evacuation (28 May - 4 June 1940) recorded by BBC Radio Kent but for copyright reasons this recording is not available online and can only be heard at the IWM by prior arrangements. See:

Wolfhound is bombed and breaks in two

From June 1940 onwards Wolfhound was mostly on East Coast convoys. On the 3rd September 1940 she was attacked by JU-88 aircraft while escorting FS.84. A near miss forward caused severe damage and the forward part of the ship broke away and sank near the southern end of the Dudgeon Shoal, fifteen miles off the Norfolk coast. The remaining part was taken in tow and was berthed at Immingham on the 4th September. She was eventually repaired and re-commissioned on 31st March 1943, but her condition was such that she could no longer take part in any major action.

 Sunday Post

HMT Lady Philomena

Bad news was not reported in the press but on the 27 August 1943 this brief item was published in the Hull Daily Mail after Wolfhound returned to service:

"In September 1941 HMT Lady Philomena (above) rescued crew members off the HMS Wolfhound after she had been badly damaged by an enemy bomber. The fore part of the vessel was torn away from the bulkheads, but the after part remained afloat. The Lady Philomena steamed towards her and took off 150 of the crew, then stood by in a thick fog for six hours and managed to take the remaining half of the destroyer in tow. By excellent seamanship, Skipper Lieut Robinson was able to bring the damaged vessel to port, and later it was repaired and was able to be put into commission again. Robinson was mentioned in despatches for this."

A more detailed account was published at about the same time in the Sunday Post (on left). Wartime censorship would not permit the loss of a RN warship to be published at the time of its loss. Both articles were clearly based on the same press release issued when Wolfhound returned tio active service after nearly two years in the naval dockyard under repair.

The Lady Philomena was a Hull trawler requisitioned for use as an escort with naval officers in command. She had taken part in the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk but was mainly used as an escort for east coast convoys, usually as an "additional escort for E-Boat Alley", the area extending from Cromer to Harwich which was within range of the E-Boats.

Len Wadsworth, one of the crew members of Wolfhound, described in Hard Lying the problems he and a shipmate faced in returning to Rosyth after their rescue:

After being landed ashore at Immingham, we were marched, some with trousers, many bereft of clothing, to the Naval Establishment. There we were kitted out with brand new uniforms, all creased in the wrong direction. One inch of pussers hard (soap), one shaving brush, one razor (cut throat), one towel. The washroom was along a building with rows of metal sinks, with running water (cold). Some of us, including myself had quite a lot of oil fuel on us, so, trying to wash and shave presented problems, namely oil, and cut throat razor, I don't know about anyone else, but I'm sure my razor is where I left it. Then we were given 10/- and pointed to the nearest watering hole where we spent the evening singing a few well known songs, ditty's, poems and monologues. Wolfhound was a Chatham ship and all the crew were sent there. Myself and a bunting tosser were in Captain 'D's' pool at Rosyth.   We were both given travel warrants to Rosyth and told, in no uncertain terms, not to mention what happened, or even to mention the ship's name.

Can you now picture both of us at Grimsby station, dressed as we were, faces still showing streaks of oil. Most of all, looking lost. If ever there were two who had just landed off a sub, we were it. The M.P.s (Military Police) at the station went spare when they saw us. This routine also took place at Crewe, Carlisle and Edinburgh. We even had a compartment to ourselves most of the way, nobody wanted to know us. The climax came as we entered the dockyard at Rosyth. We had to let everyone else go in front. When we arrived at the gate, no identity, only our rail ticket. It does not take a lot to imagine what happened then. I think someone said "Shoot the B*****'s".   We were eventually sent to HMS Cochrane [the depot ship at Rosyth], where we were taken to the Captain's cabin, after being asked what happened we were given 14 days survivors leave, had our 'tot' and then went home. My home then was in Sterling. I cannot remember the bunting tosser’s name. I wonder did they ever salvage the fore part of Wolfhound. My ditty box is in it!
Len Wadsworth of HMS Wolfhound

Please get in touch if you can provide further details of the bombing, salvage and repair of HMS Wolfhound - see foot of page for contact details. At the end of the war HMS Wolfhound was used as courier ship to Norway as described by Peter Scott below and seen in the photographs of Fred Gilleard.

Peter ScottPeter ScottPeter Scott describes his time as a telegraphist during the D-Day landings and at Stavanger, Norway, in 1945
You can click on the link to listen to Peter describe his wartime service on HMS Wolfhound
be patient - it takes a couple of minutes before the file opens and Peter starts speaking

Bill Forster recorded this interview with Peter Scott at the Reunion of the V & W Association at Eastbourne in 2014. Peter William Scott was born in London on 27 March 1926 and worked as cinema projectionist until 1943 when he enlisted in the Navy aged 17 as a "boy telegraphist". He trained as Telegraphist in Aberdeen, Scotland, and was posted from Chatham to the River Class Frigate, HMS Nith (8-28 March 1944), and HMS Albrighton (29 March - 10 June 1944).

He went to HMS Dundonald, a Combined Ops shore base in Scotland and fitted out in a khaki uniform (but with a Navy hat, see photograph) and left Portsmouth on the Albrighton on the 6 June 1944, D-Day. Albrighton was part of the Eastern Task Force responsible for the landing at Gold Beach on "D Day". His brother George Scott was manning the guns on HMS KIngsmill during the assault. He was one of three telegraphers sent ashore to joint the beach unit. They lived in tents laid in trenches they dug themselves (while keeping a close look out for mines). He spent spent six weeks as a Navy telegraphist on Gold Beach during the D-Day landings in Normandy communicating between the beach master and his ship offshore. He also went aboard the ships unloading with a portable transmitters to transmit progress direct to the Albrighton.  A storm which lasted a week prevented supplies being landed and they ran short of army "combo boxes" of food and had to scour the beaches. He was asked if he could cycle and was then told to jump on a static bike to generate electricity to power the Aldis lights used for signalling at night. Some 80% of supplies were unloaded on the beaches and only 20% in the Mulberry harbour. They returned to Britain on a US Landing Craft. His parents had moved to Clapham Common and he took their dog for a walk and had to fling himself on the ground when he heard an approaching buzz-bomb (A VI), one of the last such attacks on London.

After leave he was posted to Rosyth to join HMS Wolfhound from 22 May - 4 July 1945 and was sent to Bergen and Stevanger in Norway to accept the surrender of German naval forces in May 1945. They were there for about three months. Some Germans stayed with their Norwegian wives but regarded as traitors and he "felt really sorry for them". Liberated Russian POWs who sang in a choir on Norway's National Day. On leaving Wolfhound he was sent to Troon and joined one of six landing crafts being returned to the USA with an ocean going tug as an escort via the Canary Islands and Bermuda to New York. He returned to Britain on the Queen Mary, her last voyage as a troop ship but since she also carried civilians they were separated to port and starboard sides. He was demobbed in December 1946.

Peter Scott awarded the Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur
On the 9 February 2016 Peter Scott received a letter from Sylvie Bermann, Ambassador of France to the United Kingdom, informing him that he had been appointed to the rank of Chevalier in the Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur "in recognition of your acknowledged military engagement and your steadfast involvement in the liberation of France during the second world war". On the 70th anniversary of D-Day in June 2014 France’s President François Hollande pledged to honour all British veterans who served in France during the Second World War.

Peter Scott was serving on HMS Albrighton, part of Bombardment Force "K", when the Eastern Task Force landed on Gold Beach on 6 June 1944. His brother, George Scott, was also there manning the guns on HMS Kingsmill. You can hear Peter describe the six weeks he spent as a telegraphist on Gold Beach in the interview above. Peter Scott was 90 on Sunday 27 March but is as lively and youthful as ever and is photographed on the left wearing his medals and baseball hat! He will be attending this year's reunion of the V & W veterans at St Ives, Camb, on the 15 - 18th April.

Peter Scott was also interviewed at much greater length by the IWM: - Reel 7 for time on Wolfhound

The IWM also interviewed John Pearce who served as a seaman on Wolfhound duriung the evacuation from Calais and Dunkirk

Fred GillheardABAB Fred Gilleard C/JX641432

Fred Gilleard was born at Scunthorpe in Lincolnshire on 22 January 1925 and died on New Years Day 2016. His family sent me his service records, diaries for 1941 and 1943 and a large number of photographs. HIs diaries, begin in 1941 when he was 16 and detail the progress of the war in which he was soon to play his part.

He was an 18 year old apprentice bricklayer when he joined the Navy on the 14 December 1943 and after basic training was posted to HMRT Bustler in May 1944. Bustler was an Admiralty tug engaged in the laying of the PLUTO "pipeline under the ocean" which carried oil across the seabed beneath the English Channel to the Normandy beaches to fuel the tanks and vehicles advancing from the beach head against German forces.

In July 1944 Fred was posted from an Admiralty tug to the battleship, HMS Malaya, from one extreme to the other. But in August 1944 HMS Malaya had been "Paid off into Reserve at Faslane because of her machinery state which limited capability for Fleet operations" and Fred Gillheard joined her at Portsmouth where she "had been recommissioned for bombardment duty". Although no longer a fighting ship her guns made a splendid backdrop for photographs of Fred and his shipmates.

In October 1944 Fred joined HMS Wolfhound. She had been under repair at Chatham since September 1940 when she was bombed, broke in two and her bow sank off the Norfolk coast. The bow was salvaged and she was put back together in Chatham naval dockyard but she only resumed her east coast escort duties between Rosyth on the Firth of Forth and Sheerness on the Thames estuary in November 1942.

HMS Wolfhound, aerial photograph

The aerial photograph was taken from an aircraft based at RNAS Donibristle three miles east of Rosyth on the 24 April 1945. The war ended on the 8 May and Wolfhound was one of the destroyers of the Rosyth Escort Force sent to the ports of entry on the West Coast of Norway to accept the surrender of German naval forces. Wolfhound was sent to Bergen and Stavanger as described by Peter Scott (above) and photographed by Fred Gillhead.


Conditions on V & W Class destroyers were so bad in rough weather that the men who served on them were paid hard-lying money. These stories by veterans who served on HMS Wolfhound were published in Hard Lying, the magazine of the V & W Destroyer Association and republished in 2005 by the Chairman of the Association, Clifford ("Stormy") Fairweather, in the book of the same name which is now out of print. They are reproduced here by kind permission of Clifford Fairweather and his publisher, Avalon Associates. Copyright remains with the authors and photographers who are credited where known.

The Abdication of King Edward VIII

After Osborne and Dartmouth Philip Saumarez joined the cruiser Hawkins on the China Station as a Midshipman. He was one of the relief party that was sent ashore after the Shanghai earthquake in 1923. Four years later he joined the submarine service and served in L16, H32 and Oberon. He then turned to destroyers and served in Boadicea during the Spanish civil war. His first Command was the V&W destroyer Wolfhound which in December escorted Fury when she took the Duke of Windsor across the Channel after the Abdication.

If you want to find out more about the wartime service of a member of your family who served on HMS Wolfhound 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 Wolfhound you would like to contribute to the web site please contact Bill Forster or Vic Green
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