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





HMS Wren
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HMS Wren, the ...

Following .....

Battle Honours


Commanding Officers

Lt Cdr Jack G. Bickford RN (15 Aug 1928 - April 1930)

Cdr. William Halford Selby, RN (31 Jul 1939 - 13 Jan 1940)
Cdr. Harold Thomas "Beaky" Armstrong, RN (13 Jan - 30 May 1940)
Lt.Cdr. Frederick William George Harker, RN (30 May - 27 Jul 1940)

Officers

Sub Lt Jorgen L.W.M. Allison RN (13 May 1938 - Feb 1939)

Lt Stephen H. "Nudger" Norris RN (14 Feb 1932 - Jan 1934)


The last V & W to be completed!
The last V&W to be completed was HMS Wren which commissioned in January 1923. 

The orders for the remaining 32 V & Ws were cancelled

HMS Wren ashore in MaltaNorman Hollis (Blondie, so called because he tanned to a dark mahogany colour at sea) travelled out to Singapore in HMS Defender which he had joined from HMS Broke on the 23rd of August 1934. He joined HMS Wren, as a Telegraphist, in time to return to the Mediterranean with the First Destroyer Flotilla after service on the China Station with tthe 8th Destroyer Flotilla.

In January 1934 Rear Admiral Cunningham as Rear Admiral Destroyers was at Malta and under his command was the 1st Destroyer Flotilla of the V&Ws, led by Earl Mountbatten in Wishart which was carrying out manoeuvres and courtesy visits to the many ports in the Mediterranean. I joined the Defender, destination, Singapore, there we did a swop with the Wren. I soon came to learn what life was like aboard a 'boat'.

While the Flotilla was stationed at Malta, shore leave was granted to the crews. Norman Hollis remembers returning to the quay with a couple of mates and finding that they were ‘spent up’ and could not afford the fare of the boat back to HMS Wren. So they stripped off, fastened their uniforms on top of their heads, with their belts, and swam across to the ship. On reaching the deck, they were met by the officer of the Watch and the Coxswain, and were asked in no uncertain terms,” What they were playing at?” After explaining, the Officer barely hiding a smile gave them some money, told them to swim back ashore, and return to the ship in a ‘seaman like manner'.

March 1936 was rather an interesting time; HMS Wren had the 'misfortune' of landing up on the rocks off Malta's Tigne point. It was reported that our skipper Lt' Cmdr Robson shouted 'Whoa' but the ship took no B****y notice! All stores were moved aft, and all crew not needed to assist in the Refloating, were assembled on the quarterdeck and made to jump up and down! Wren was eventually refloated, assisted by Veteran, and returned to her moorings at the buoy, again by Veteran. While repairs were being carried out we swapped over to the Worcester. On returning to the Wren I stayed with her until 'paying off' time came which was sometime in 1936.

Life in 'boats' was not my cup of tea, so I volunteered for the Fleet Air Arm.


Norman Hollis


Bombed and sunk near Aldeburgh

On 27 July 1940 Wren and HMS Montrose were providing anti-aircraft protection for minesweeping operations off Aldeburgh, Suffolk. Wren came under heavy and sustained dive bombing attack by 15 Junkers Ju 87 aircraft and was damaged by several near misses which holed her below the waterline. Collapsed bulkheads caused heavy flooding which led her to sink quickly, killing 37 of her crew. Wren's survivors were rescued by the minesweepers.

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"HMS Wren was sunk on 27 July 1940. My uncle (my mum's twin brother) Albert Bernard Tucker was an Engine Room Artificer. He and his best friend jumped from the destroyer after it had been bombed. My uncle was a very strong swimmer, but his friend could not swim at all. There were not enough lifebelts to go around so my uncle gave his to his friend and they began swimming away from HMS Wren. They came to a large patch of oil and my uncle knew he couldn't make it through the oil, so he told his friend to go through and he would follow closely behind before the oil had a chance to close up. His friend looked behind him when he was part of the way through and there was no sign of my uncle - he hadn't made it. His friend survived. This story was related to my grandparents and my mum by his friend at the end of the war."

The men who died when HMS Wren sunk

ASHTON, Sidney, Stoker 1c, RFR, P/SSX 125734, killed

 ASTLEY-COOPER, Geoffrey D, Sub Lieutenant, killed

 BERRY, Thomas, Able Seaman, RNVR, P/CD/X 1931, killed

 BLANKS, Cyril E, Stoker 2c, P/KX 105403, killed

 BOYD, James O, Act/Stoker Petty Officer, P/KX 76668, killed

 BROUGHTON, Frank, Act/Stoker Petty Officer, P/KX 78221, killed

 CASSELS, John C McI, Signalman, RNVR, P/CD/X 2234, killed

 COMMONS, Leslie, Act/Leading Seaman, P/JX 125470, killed

 DAVIS, Edmund M, Act/Petty Officer, P/JX 135931, killed

 DAY, Phillip, Ordinary Seaman, P/JX 171958, killed

 DICKS, Edmund A, Ty/Sub Lieutenant, RNVR, killed

 FAUVEL, Stanley H, Petty Officer Steward (Pens), P/L 7178, killed

 FIRTH, Charles, Sick Berth Attendant, D/MX 57694, killed

 FROST, Stanley H, Able Seaman, RNVR, P/SD/X 1456, killed

 GRIGOR, Charles C, Act/Leading Seaman, P/SSX 22184, killed

 GRIMSDALE, Leslie R, Chief Petty Officer, P/J 113387, killed

 HARKER, Frederick W G, Lieutenant Commander, killed

 HOOPER, Richard F, Able Seaman, P/J 76270, killed
 
HOPKINS, James W, Act/Leading Seaman, P/J 94803, killed

 HOWARD, Clifford, Able Seaman, P/SSX 14128, killed

 HUNT, Vernon S T, Warrant Engineer, killed

 LEMPRIERE, Raymond P, Able Seaman, P/J 44845, killed

 MACKINNON, Donald, Seaman, RNR, P/20733 A, killed

PARR, Henry J, Officer's Cook 2c, P/L 14815, killed

 PEERS, William, Stoker Petty Officer, RFR, P/KX 75002, killed

 PICKERING, Sidney, Ordinary Seaman, P/JX 187089, killed

 PINDAR, Cyril F S, Ordinary Seaman, P/JX 189387, killed

 SCOFFINS, Claude B, Able Seaman, P/SSX 14025, killed

 SHEEL, Edgar, Able Seaman, RFR, P/SSX 12750, killed

 SHERRY, John, Leading Stoker, RFR, P/KX 76371, killed

 STEELE, William, Able Seaman, RFR, P/SSX 31541, killed

 STOCKDALE, Percy E, Ordinary Seaman, P/SSX 8774, killed

 TAYLOR, Ronald T, Stoker 1c, P/KX 90005, killed

 TUCKER, Albert B, Act/Engine Room Artificer 4c, P/MX 61403, killed

 URRY, Henry R G, Steward, P/L 13262, killed

 WAITE, Herbert G, Stoker 2c, P/K 105260, killed


HMS Wren and the WRENS

Wren was named just after the demobilisation of the 1917-1919 Womens Royal Naval Service (W.R.N.S.) and although there was no indication that the name was intended as a compliment to the Wrens, the Association of Wrens claimed her as their own and provided boat badges and silk ensign and other tokens of affection.
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"After her loss, the Second Sea Lord, Admiral Little, suggested officially that the naming of a new ship Wren would be an encouragement to the Wrens, who were already doing excellent service, and furthermore, proposed that the Director of WRENS should launch the ship.   Permission was obtained to allow Wrens to give towards the building of the ship and a sum of over 4,000 was voluntarily subscribed, made up very small sums. Representative parties of WRNS were allowed to go to the launching, and with a large number from the nearby ports of Glasgow and Greenock it was a real Wrens day.


Messrs Denny, the builders (who had built many of the original V&Ws) gave a grand luncheon in pre-war style. To launch a ship is an unforgettable experience, to feel her come alive, to move, to be released from captivity. To her right element. And this was a very special ship; something took to sea with her of the love of the British women for the service which has made their country's history. The Wren was a sloop and although that sounds smaller than a modern destroyer, she was actually considerably bigger than her predecessor. She became one of the famous Second Escort Group under the late Captain F. J. Walker.

On one of my happy visits on board, where I was always received like a queen and everyone felt that she was the Wrens own ship. I was told by then the Captain (Lieut, Comdr., S.J. Woods RNR) of the great reception given them when the group had come into Liverpool from one of their famous 'kills'. But the thing that had touched them most was when a squad of Wrens had had marched along the quayside, eyes righting proudly as the passed their name-ship."
Dame Vera Laughton Mathews DBE
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The new HMS Wren (U28) was a Black Swan Class sloop. She was a successful anti-submarine warfare vessel, being credited with the destruction of five U-boats. Members of the Women's Royal Naval Service (Wrens) contributed a day's pay each to a memorial fund for the 22 Wrens killed during the torpedoing of the SS Aguila in 1941, and the fund, in turn, contributed 4,000 towards the sloop's construction. The sloop was popularly identified with the Wrens throughout her war service, and received frequent visits from them when in port.




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



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