Reuse of 1917 V&W Class Names

A number of destroyers built under the War Emergency Programme had names beginning with V or W, and five inherited names previously assigned to WW1 V&W class ships which had been sunk.  The emergency destroyers were armed with four 4.7 inch, one twin Bofors 40mm or Pompom, two quadruple 21 inch torpedo tubes and depth charges.
The U and V class

The U and V class was a batch of 16 ships launched in 1942 and 1943. Seven were given V names, of which two, HMS Valentine and HMS Verulam, were inherited:

HMS Valentine (D49) was bombed and abandoned in the Scheldt Estuary in 1940.
The new Valentine was renamed Algonquin (R17) on completion in 1944 (but went to sea with Valentine's bell) and transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy. She remained in the Eastern Atlantic until the end of the war. She was subsequently converted to a Type 15 frigate, and was scrapped in 1971.

HMS Verulam (F19) was mined and sunk in the Gulf of Finland in 1919.
The new HMS Verulam (R28) took part with three other V class destroyers (Venus, Vigilant, and Virago) in the 26th Destroyer Flotilla in the torpedoing of the Japanese heavy cruiser Haguro in the Malacca Straits in May 1945. She was subsequently converted to a Type 15 Frigate, and scrapped in 1972.

The W and Z class

The W and Z class was a batch of 16 ships launched in 1943 and 1944. Seven were given W names, of which three, HMS Wakeful, HMS Wessex and HMS Whirlwind, were inherited. All but Wessex ended up as Type 15 fast ASW Frigates,

HMS Wakeful (H88) was torpedoed by an E Boat during the Dunkirk Evacuation.
The new HMS  Wakeful (R59) served in the Home Fleet, transferring to the Eastern Fleet in 1944, and then the Pacific Fleet. She was subsequently converted to a Type 15 Frigate, and was scrapped in 1971.

A subsequent HMS Wakeful was a tug launched in 1965 and employed in Swedish civilian service under the name Heracles.  She was commissioned as HMS Wakeful  (A236) in 1974 and attached to HMS Neptune (the Clyde Submarine Base) as a submarine tender, target ship and tug. She was decommissioned in 1987 and reverted to civilian service under the Greek flag. 

HMS Wessex (D43) was sunk by the Luftwaffe off Calais in May 1940.
The new HMS Wessex (R78) served in the Home Fleet until after the Normandy Landings, and was then transferred to the Eastern Fleet and then the Pacific Fleet. Her Navigating Officer in the Pacific was Lt Dennis Wyndham Foster RN who served  in HMS Wanderer from March 1943 to May 1944. After the war Wessex was placed in reserve until 1950, when she was transferred to the South African Navy under the name Jan van Riebeeck. She was employed as a missile target and sunk in 1980.

HMS Whirlwind (D30) was sunk by U34 SW of Ireland in July 1940.
The new HMS Whirlwind (R87) served in WW2 and was subsequently converted to a Type 15 Frigate. In 1969 she was moored in Cardigan Bay as a target and foundered in 1974.

HMS Vigilant Type 15 ASW FRigate
HMS Vigilant, a Type 15 ASW Frigate
Frank Donald was in HMS Vigilant for the spring cruise of the Dartmouth Training Squadron when this photograph was taken of her entering the Grand Harbour at Malta
Courtesy of Frank Donald

Type 15 Frigates

A  Type 15 Frigate was a full conversion of a wartime emergency R, T, U, V, W or Z class destroyer into a fast ASW frigate. The propulsion machinery remained the same, but the sea keeping was improved by extending the forecastle deck aft almost to the stern, with aluminium used to save top weight. An enclosed bridge was provided to allow shelter while steaming through nuclear fallout. Improved sonar was fitted, controlling Squid or Mk 10 (Limbo) ASW mortars. They were equipped with twin 40 mm bofors guns forward and a radar controlled twin four inch AA mounting aft. See the picture of HMS Vigilant (in which the bofors has been replaced by an open bridge for service in the Dartmouth Training Squadron).

Frank Donald
V & W Destroyer Association

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