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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2001

HMAS WATERHEN (D 22) -  V & W-class Destroyer including Convoy Escort Movements

HMS Westminster, W-class sister ship (Navy Photos, click to enlarge)

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W-Class Destroyer ordered from Palmers at Jarrow on 9th December 1916 under the 1916-17 Build Programme with the 10th order for this type of warship. The ship was laid down in July 1917and launched on 26th March 1918 as the first RN warship to carry  this name. Build was completed on 17th April 1918 and this ship served in the Atlantic and Mediterranean Fleets before her transfer to the Royal Australian Navy in 1933. She was commissioned as HMAS WATERHEN on 11th October 1933 and remained in the RAN for the rest of her service.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


LIBYA 1940-41 - GREECE 1941 - CRETE 1941


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field White a Waterhen proper.


M o t  t o
 Domus in indus: ‘My home is in the waves’



D e t a i l s   o f   W a r    S e r v i c e


(for more ship information, go to Naval History Homepage and type name in Site Search)



1 9 3 9




Laid-up in reserve at Sydney. (Note: Ship had been brought forward in 1938 and returned to Reserve  in April 1939.)


War Station nominated at Singapore with ships of China Station..




1st - Commissioned for service.


9th - On completion of storing and preparation for operational service deployed with HM Australian Destroyers STUART and VAMPIRE in search for a submarine reported off Broke Bay. No sighting was made.




14th - Took passage from Sydney with HM Australian Destroyers VENDETTA, VOYAGER, VAMPIRE and STUART to join China Station under RN command.




Nominated for transfer to Mediterranean Fleet during passage to Singapore.


13th - Took passage from Singapore to Mediterranean with call at Colombo


16th - Detached to join HM Aircraft Carrier EAGLE, HM Cruisers CORNWALL and DORSETSHIRE in Hunting Group formed to intercept commerce raiders in Indian Ocean. Took passage to Colombo to join Group. (Note: HMS VENDETTA was also intended to join the Hunting Group but had detached to land sick officer at Penang.)


18th - Arrived at Colombo.


20th - Joined Hunting Group I.




Deployed with Hunting Group.


14th - Detached from Hunting Group and resumed passage to Mediterranean with HMAS VENDETTA.


17th - Arrived at Malta.



1 9 4 0


January to April  


Deployed with HMAS VENDETTA, VOYAGER, VAMPIRE and STUART with ships of Destroyer Command in Mediterranean for Fleet and Flotilla exercises and enforcement of blockade.




Took part in preparatory exercises with Mediterranean Fleet in the anticipation of Italian entry into war against Britain and the Dominions.


27th - Joined newly formed 10th Destroyer Flotilla with the other destroyers of the RAN.


Pennant Number for visual signalling purposes changed to I22 to conform with changes made for all RN ships.




Deployed in Mediterranean, based at Alexandria as 10th Destroyer Flotilla. (Note: During this period the Mediterranean Fleet was deployed to cover passage of convoys evacuating personnel from Malta (Operation MA3). This was abandoned after an action with Italian destroyers during which heavy expenditure of ammunition gave rise for concern. See THE BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by D Macintyre and Naval Staff History.)


11th - Deployed with screen for HMS EAGLE, HM Australian Cruiser SYDNEY, HM Battleships MALAYA and WARSPITE during sweep in the eastern Mediterranean.


12th - Returned to Alexandria with major units.


13th - Deployed with HMAS STUART, VAMPIRE and VOYAGER to carry out anti-submarine search off Alexandria. (During search Italian submarine FOCA was sighted on surface and engaged by the other destroyers without success. This submarine had been carrying out minelaying operation. See THE NAVAL WAR IN THE MEDITERRANEAN by J Greene and A Massignani.)


26th - Sailed from Alexandria with HMAS VAMPIRE and VENDETTA to join HM Cruiser ORION for support of commando raid on Castellorizo.


27th - Carried out bombardment of Castellorizo.




Deployed off North African coast for support of military operations




16th - Sailed with HMAS STUART, VENDETTA and HM Destroyer DIAMOND as screen for HM Cruiser KENT, HM Battleships MALAYA, RAMILLIES and WARSPITE for support duties.


17th - Took part in bombardment of Fort Capuzzo. Under air attacks.


23rd - Sailed from Alexandria with HM Cruiser SYDNEY (RAN), HM Destroyers STUART (RAN), DIAMOND, JUNO and ILEX for bombardment of shore targets in support of military advance in Libya. Detached to join HM River Gunboat LADYBIRD for bombardment at Bardia.


24th - Took part in operation to enter Bardia harbour for bombardment. Carried out bombardment of seaplane base in Gulf of Bomba and escorted HM River Gunboat LADYBIRD during bombardment.




Military support duties with Flotilla in continuation.




16th - Taken in hand for self refit at Alexandria.


29th - Resumed duties with Flotilla at Alexandria.


30th - Deployed with HM Netlayer PROTECTOR, HMAS VAMPIRE and VOYAGER as escort for convoy to Suda Bay.




1st - Passage to Alexandria from Suda Bay.


4th - Deployed with HM Cruisers CALCUTTA and COVENTRY, HM Destroyers DAINTY, DIAMOND, VAMPIRE (RAN) and VOYAGER (RAN) as escort for Convoy MW3 during passage to Malta covered by ships of Mediterranean Fleet. (Operation MB8 - Part of Operation COAT with ships of Force H from Gibraltar to pass reinforcement warships for service with the Fleet based at Alexandria. See THE BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by D Macintyre and above reference.)


9th - Convoy MW3 arrived in Malta.


10th - Escorted Convoy ME3 from Malta with HMS RAMILLIES, HMS COVENTRY, HM Destroyers DECOY, DEFENDER and VAMPIRE during passage from Malta to Port Said. (Note: Operation JUDGEMENT to attack Italian Fleet ships in Taranto, was carried out covered by Mediterranean Fleet as part of the execution of Operations COAT and MB8. See references and The Naval Staff History.)


14th - Detached from ME3 and returned to Alexandria from Port Said.




Joined Force B with HM Destroyers VAMPIRE (RAN), VENDETTA (RAN) and VOYAGER for service in Inshore Squadron to provide support for military operations by Western Desert Force. (See THE BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by D Macintyre, THE NAVAL WAR IN THE MEDITERRANEAN by J Greene and A. Massignani and Naval Staff History. Note: Force A comprising HM monitor TERROR, HM River Gunboats LADYBIRD, APHIS and GNAT was also part of Inshore Squadron which was similarly deployed. Cover was provided by HM Battleships BARHAM and MALAYA. HMS EAGLE was deployed as Force D to give air cover as required.)


11th - Deployed with HMAS VAMPIRE and VENDETTA to carry out bombardment of Bardia which was subsequently cancelled by weather conditions.


12th - Return passage to Alexandria.


15th - Deployed with HMS TERROR, HMAS VAMPIRE and HMAS VOYAGER for bombardment of Bardia.


24th - Deployed for patrol off Sollum during which Italian schooner was captured and those on board made Prisoners of War.



1 9 4 1




Deployed with Inshore Squadron at Alexandria for support duties.


30th - Involved in collision off Sollum with HM Trawler BANDELERO and seriously damaged. BANDELERO was sunk




On return to Alexandria taken in hand for repair and refit at Port Tewfiq.




Under refit on completion of docking for repair.


5th - Rejoined Inshore Squadron and deployed for escort of convoys to Greece taking reinforcements to allied forces following German attacks. (Operation LUSTRE).


7th - Escorted convoy to Piraeus.


14th - Part of escort for Convoy AS19 from Piraeus to Alexandria.


18th - Part of escort for Convoy AN21 to Piraeus from Egypt.


21st - Under air attacks and rescued crew of tanker on fire after bomb hit (Note: HM Trawler AMBER later escorted damaged tanker to Suda Bay.)


26th - Return passage to Alexandria. .




Resumed Inshore Squadron duties for support of retreating army units.


4th - Deployed at Tobruk with HMAS VENDETTA for patrol and support duties.


14th - Took part with HMAS VENDETTA in rescue of survivors from Hospital Ship VITA which had been bombed off Tobruk. 470 wounded and nursing staff were taken to Alexandria.


19th - Deployed with HM Cruiser COVENTRY, HMAS STUART and VOYAGER as escort for HM Supply ship GLENGYLE taking Commando troops for raid Bardia.


20th - Returned to Alexandria.


21st - During escort of Convoy AN29 assisted in salvage of mercantile damaged by air attacks and ensured passage to Suda Bay. (Note: This was the last convoy of Operation LUSTRE.)


23rd - Detached to assist in evacuation of allied troops from Megara, Greece. On passage assisted in defence of Convoy ANF29 under air attacks. (Operation DEMON)


26th - Deployed at Megara, Greece with HMS COVENTRY, HM Destroyers DECOY, HASTY, VENDETTA (RAN) and WRYNECK (RAN)


27th - Passage to Suda Bay to discharge troops.


28th - Part of escort for evacuation convoy GA14 from Nauphlia, Greece with HMS CALCUTTA, HMS COVENTRY, HMAS STUART,  VAMPIRE and VENDETTA.


29th - Deployed with HMAS STUART, VAMPIRE, VENDETTA and HM Destroyer GREYHOUND as part of screen for HM Aircraft Carrier, FORMIDABLE and other Mediterranean Fleet major units which providing cover for evacuation convoy GA15.




Convoy escort and support duties in continuation.


3rd - Returned to Alexandria.


5th - Deployed with HMAS VOYAGER for first relief journey to isolated Tobruk garrison with stores and personnel.


6th - Deployed with HMAS STUART to join HM Sloops AUCKLAND, GRIMSBY and FLAMINGO for escort of Convoy AN30 to Suda Bay. Escorted HMS GRIMSBY  towing mercantile damaged by torpedo in an air attack.


10th - Return passage to Alexandria.


16th - Deployed with HMS COVENTRY, HMS AUCKLAND and HMAS VOYAGER to take 700 troops of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders to Timbakion, Crete to reinforce defence of the island.


18th - On return to Alexandria resumed Inshore Squadron duties for relief of the Tobruk garrison.




Inshore Squadron Tobruk relief duties in continuation.


16th - Deployed with HM Destroyers VENDETTA (RAN), VOYAGER (RAN), VAMPIRE (RAN), DEFENDER, DECOY. DAINTY, HM Sloops FLAMINGO, AUCKLAND and PARRAMATTA (RAN) for supply of stores and personnel to Tobruk garrison.


24th - Diverted from relief duty at Mersa Matruh to assist HMS AUCKLAND which was under heavy air attacks ENE of Tobruk.


25th - Arrived on scene after sinking of HMS AUCKLAND and assisted HM Australian Sloop PARRAMATTA in rescue operations. Towed Petrol Carrier which had been under escort to Alexandria.


28th - Sailed from Alexandria with relief stores for Tobruk.


29th - Under heavy and sustained air attacks off Sollum and disabled. Abandoned and taken in tow by HM Destroyer DEFENDER.


30th - Capsized and sank in position 32.15N 25.20E during tow.  Survivors were rescued by HMS DEFENDER.







by Don Kindell


These convoy lists have not been cross-checked with the text above






Date convoy sailed

Joined convoy as escort

Convoy No.

Left convoy

Date convoy arrived








K 6





K 6A





MF 003





MF 004





MW 003





AS 015/1





AS 019/1





AN 021





AN 030




(Note on Convoys)


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revised 11/7/11
further editing is required