Click on the links within this brief
outline for first hand accounts by the men who served on HMS Wolfhound
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
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.
|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)
short list of officers who served on HMS Wolfhound all
have entries on the unithistories.com 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 as 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: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80013305
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.
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:
Peter 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
AB 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.
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.