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SERVICE HISTORIES of ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS in WORLD WAR 2

by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2004

HMS WITHERINGTON (D 76) -  V & W-class Destroyer including Convoy Escort Movements

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Witherington with the Shah of Persia onboard  (James Witherington, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

 

Repeat Admiralty W-Class destroyer ordered from J S White at Cowes, IoW with the 14th Order in the 1917-18 Build Programme. She was laid down on 27th September 1918 and launched on 16th January 1919 as the 1st RN ship to carry the name. Build was completed on 10th October 1919 and the ship joined the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla in the Atlantic Fleet. The Flotilla served in Home waters in the early 1920's and then in the Mediterranean before going to the China Station in 1926. She was put into Reserve during the 1930s when more modern ships became available. Brought forward in 1939 and manned largely by Reservists this destroyer was adopted in February 1942 by the civil community of the City of Durham following a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign.

 


At Toulon 20 April 1930

 

B a t t l e H o n o u r s

 

ATLANTIC 1939-44 - NORWAY 1940 - ENGLISH CHANNEL 1940

 

H e r a l d i c D a t a

Badge: On a field black, A sinister Leg Gold, couped

at the knee Red.

(Note: Richard Witherington had his legs cut off at Chevy Chase and 'fought upon his stumps' -

the 'Ballad of Chevy Chase')

 

 

M o t t o

'I will not fail'

 

 

 

 

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

 

August                  Commissioned with Reservists for attendance at Royal Review of the Reserve Fleet in Weymouth

                                Bay.

                                Remained in commission when Fleet mobilised.

                                War Station allocated for service in 15th Destroyer Flotilla in Western Approaches Command.

 

September             On completion of storing and war complement took passage to Milford Haven

                                Deployed with 15th Destroyer Flotilla in Western Approaches for convoy defence.

                                Based at Milford Haven and escorted Convoy GC1.

 

October                  SW Approaches deployment in continuation.

                                (For details of naval activities in Home waters see Naval Staff History and ENGAGE THE

                                ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by C Barnett.)

 

 

1 9 4 0

 

January                  Deployed for patrol and convoy defence in Western Approaches.

                16th        Joined inward Convoy HG15 from Gibraltar with HM Sloop WELLINGTON for escort during

                                passage into Liverpool.

                                Detached from HG15 and took passage to return to join outward Convoy OG15 leaving HMS

                                WELLINGTON as escort for final stage.

                                Deployed with HM Destroyers KEITH and WHIRLWIND as escort for outward Convoy OG15

                                during initial stage of passage to Gibraltar when formed in SW Approaches.

                                Detached from OG15 on relief by French warship for onward passage.

                                Joined outward Convoy OG16 on formation in SW Approaches as escort with HM Destroyers

                                WALPOLE and WHITSHED during initial stage of passage to Gibraltar.

                                Detached on arrival of two French warships for remainder of passage.

 

February                SW Approaches convoy escort and patrol in continuation

to

March

 

April

                10th        Transferred to Scapa Flow for detached service with Home Fleet after German invasion of

                                Norway.

                11th        Part of the escort for military convoy NP1 during passage to Narvik with H M Cruisers

                                MANCHESTER, BIRMINGHAM, HM Destroyers VOLUNTEER, VANOC, WHIRLWIND

                                and HIGHLANDER.

                                (Note HM Netlayer PROTECTOR was also in this convoy.)

                                Convoy also ss EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA, rms MONARCH OF BERMUDA,

                                ss REINO DEL PACIFICO, Polish ss BATORY and ss CHOBRY).

                                (Operation RUPERT - See NARVIK by D Macintyre, THE DOOMED EXPEDITION by

                                Adams and The Naval Staff History for details of the disastrous operations off Norway).

                14th        Convoy joined by H M Battleship VALIANT, HM Cruiser VINDICTIVE, H M Destroyers

                                ACASTA, ARDENT, CODRINGTON, FEARLESS, GRIFFIN and BRAZEN.

                                Destination of convoy changed after instructions to carry out landings at Namsos were received

                                (Operation HENRY)

                                Detached with HMS VALIANT and other destroyers to escort MONARCH OF BERMUDA and

                                REINO DEL PACIFICO to Vaagsfjord whilst the other two troopships took passage to

                                Namsos.

                15th        After arrival at Harstad deployed for convoy escort between UK and Norway.

                29th        Carried out anti-submarine operations with HM Destroyer HERO.

                                (Note: Claim to have sunk U50 was disproved after WW2 when it was shown U50 had been

                                sunk by a mine some days earlier - See U-BOATS DESTROYED by P Kemp)

 

May                        Norwegian convoy defence and support of military operations in continuation.

                                Pennant Number for visual signalling purposes changed to 176.

 

June

                8th          Escorted Group 1 of evacuation convoy from NARVIK with H M Destroyers WOLVERINE,

                                ANTELOPE, VISCOUNT and ATHERSTONE from the Faeroes for passage to Clyde.

 

July                         Resumed Atlantic convoy defence in Western Approaches.

to                            (For details of U-Boat deployments see U-BOATS IN THE ATLANTIC (HMSO) and

September             HITLER'S U-BOAT WAR by C BLAIR.)

 

October

                3rd          Joined military convoy WS3A in Clyde with HM Destroyers HARVESTER,

                                HIGHLANDER, HAVELOCK, HURRICANE and VISCOUNT as Local Escort during

                                passage in NW Approaches.

                10th        Detached from WS3A with Local Escort and returned to Clyde.

                                Taken in hand for refit.

 

November              Under refit

 

December              Post refit harbour and sea trials.

                                Work-up

 

1 9 4 1

January

                11th        Diverted during passage from refit to escort HM Auxiliary Minelayer TEVIOT BANK

                                during minelay in the Northern Barrage (Operation BS50).

                                Detached because of weather conditions.

                                (Note: This operation had already been cancelled twice for the same reason).

                12th        Joined military convoy WS5B in Clyde with HM Destroyers BEAGLE, FEARLESS,

                                LINCOLN, HARVESTER, HIGHLANDER, JACKAL, LEAMINGTON, VANSITTART,

                                WATCHMAN and Free French destroyer LEOPARD as Local Escort during passage in NW

                                Approaches.

                14th        Detached from WS5B with FS LEOPARD and returned to Clyde.

 

February                Western Approaches convoy defence in continuation.

to

November

 

December

                9th          Joined military convoy WS14 in Clyde with HM Destroyers BEVERLEY, CROOME,

                                NEWARK, LANCASTER, SHERWOOD, WESTCOTT, FOXHOUND, GURKHA, NESTOR

                                and HM AA Ship ULSTER QUEEN as Local Escort during passage in NW Approaches.

                12th        Detached from WS5B with Local Escort and returned to Clyde.

 

1 9 4 2

 

January

                12th        Joined military convoy W315 in Clyde with HM Destroyers VANOC, WALKER,

                                VANQUISHER and VANSITTART as Local Escort during passage in NW Approaches.

                17th        Detached than WS15 with Local Escort and returned to Clyde.

 

February

                17th        Joined military convoy WS16 in Clyde with HM Destroyers ACTIVE, ANTHONY,

                                BLANKNEY, BLANKNEY CROOME, DUNCAN, FIREDRAKE, LIGHTNING, VERITY,

                                and WALKER as Local Escort for passage in NW approaches.

                22nd       Detached with HMS VERITY and HMS WALKER and returned to Clyde.

                                Withdrawn from service for conversion into a Short Range Escort.

                                (See V&W DESTROYERS by A Preston).

 

March                    Under conversion

to                            (Note: Radar Type 271 fitted for surface warning. See RADAR AT SEA by D Hawse, Close

August                  Range AA armament increased.)

 

September             On completion of post refit trials worked up for convoy defence duties.

 

October                  Deployed in Western Approaches.

to

December

 

1 9 4 3

 

January                  Atlantic convoy defence in continuation.

                                (For details of tactics and weapons used in the Atlantic battle see THE BATTLE OF

                                THE ATLANTIC by D Macintyre, BUSINESS IN GREAT WATERS by J Terraine and

                                SEEK AND STRIKE by W Hackmann).

                24th        Reinforced escort of Convoy HX226 with HM Destroyer MANSFIELD after heavy

                                U-Boat attacks.

 

February                Atlantic deployment in continuation.

 

March                    Part of escort for Convoy HX229.

                                (Note: This convoy was subjected to sustained attacks by DRANGER Group of U-Boats.

                                For details of the defence of this convoy, which probably marked the turning of the Battle

                                of the Atlantic in the favour of the allies see CONVOY by H. Middlebrook, U-BOAT WAR

                                IN THE ATLANTIC and HITLER'S U-BOAT WAR).

 

April                       Atlantic convoy defence deployment in continuation.

to

May

 

June

                21st         Joined HM Destroyers ARROW, BLANKNEY, BLENCATHRA, BRECON, BRISSENDEN.

                                HAMBLEDON, LEDBURY, MENDIP, VICEROY, WALLACE and WOOLSTON in Clyde

                                for Local Escort of joint military convoy WS31/KMF17 during passage in NW Approaches.

                26th        Detached from WS31/KMF17 on relief by destroyers from Gibraltar and took passage to

                                Alexandria for convoy escort of Follow-up convoys to Sicily in support of allied assault on Sicily

                                (Operation HUSKY).

 

July

                9th          Sailed from Alexandria as part of escort for Follow-up Convoy MWF37 with HM Destroyers

                                VENOMOUS and WISHART during passage to Syracuse.

                13th        Detached from MWF37on arrival at Syracuse and

                                deployed for convoy escort in Eastern Mediterranean.

 

August                  Mediterranean deployment for convoy escort and support of military operations

to

October.

 

November              Deployed in Gibraltar area.

                1st           Took part in sinking of U340 with HM Destroyer ACTIVE, HM Sloop FLEETWOOD and two

                                WELLINGTON aircraft of 179 Squadron RAF.

                                48 survivors were recovered later from a Spanish trawler.

                                (Note: Despite Spanish claims of infringement of territorial waters, the action was justified by

                                the need for medical aid to the German personnel.)

                                See U-BOATS DESTROYED by P Kemp.)

 

December              Atlantic convoy defence in continuation.

 

1 9 4 4

 

January                  Deployed in SW Approaches for convoy defence.

to                            (Note: This ship was not used for convoy defence of invasion convoys during the allied landings

December              in Normandy (Operation NEPTUNE), See LANDINGS IN NORMANDY (HMSO) which

                                records names of escorts involved).

 

1 9 4 5

 

January                  Convoy defence deployment in continuation.

to                            (Note: Atlantic convoys were re-routed through English Channel and U-Boat attack

May                        by Schnorkel-fitted submarines was being concentrated on focal points of convoy

                                assembly. Additional escorts were deployed in Channel in view of this threat).

 

P o s t W a r N o t e s

 

HMS WITHERINGTON was paid off and reduced to Reserve status after the end of the European war .She was placed on the Disposal List after VJ Day. Sold to Metal Industries for breaking-up on 20th March 1947 she was taken in tow to the Breaker's yard at Charlestown, near Rosyth but broke adrift on 29th April 1947 and was wrecked.

 

 


 

Addenda

 

CONVOY ESCORT MOVEMENTS of HMS WITHERINGTON

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

 

 

 

 

 

05/09/39

05/09/39

RED 1

08/09/39

27/09/39

17/10/39

17/10/39

OB 021

20/10/39

22/10/39

27/10/39

27/10/39

OB 026

30/10/39

01/11/39

06/11/39

06/11/39

OB 031

09/11/39

11/11/39

31/10/39

10/11/39

HXF 007

12/11/39

12/11/39

20/11/39

20/11/39

OB 038

23/11/39

23/11/39

08/11/39

23/11/39

SL 008

24/11/39

24/11/39

30/11/39

30/11/39

OB 044

03/12/39

03/12/39

25/11/39

04/12/39

HXF 010

06/12/39

09/12/39

10/12/39

10/12/39

OB 050

11/12/39

13/12/39

11/12/39

11/12/39

OG 010

13/12/39

16/12/39

19/12/39

19/12/39

OB 056

21/12/39

21/12/39

18/12/39

04/01/40

SL 013

06/01/40

06/01/40

08/01/40

08/01/40

OB 069

12/01/40

13/01/40

16/01/40

16/01/40

HG 015

19/01/40

25/01/40

19/01/40

19/01/40

OB 075

21/01/40

21/01/40

21/01/40

21/01/40

OG 015

22/01/40

27/01/40

27/01/40

28/01/40

OB 080

31/01/40

31/01/40

31/01/40

31/01/40

OG 016

31/01/40

04/02/40

07/02/40

07/02/40

OB 086

09/02/40

10/02/40

24/03/40

24/03/40

OB 116

27/03/40

27/03/40

11/04/40

11/04/40

NP 001

15/04/40

15/04/40

24/04/40

24/04/40

TM 001/1

27/04/40

27/04/40

12/05/40

20/05/40

TC 004

21/05/40

21/05/40

12/06/40

12/06/40

HEBREW

14/06/40

14/06/40

24/06/40

24/06/40

OB 173

27/06/40

27/06/40

27/06/40

27/06/40

OG 035

28/06/40

01/07/40

21/06/40

28/06/40

HG 035

01/07/40

01/07/40

01/07/40

01/07/40

OA 177G

02/07/40

03/07/40

07/07/40

09/07/40

OB 180

09/07/40

10/07/40

03/10/40

03/10/40

WS 003A

unknown

27/10/40

30/09/40

11/10/40

HX 077

16/10/40

17/10/40

20/10/40

20/10/40

HX 082

04/11/40

06/11/40

27/10/40

27/10/40

OB 235

30/10/40

31/10/40

09/11/40

09/11/40

OB 241

14/11/40

14/11/40

31/10/40

15/11/40

HG 046

19/11/40

19/11/40

23/11/40

23/11/40

OB 248

26/11/40

26/11/40

14/11/40

27/11/40

HX 087

29/11/40

29/11/40

13/11/40

27/11/40

SC 012

29/11/40

29/11/40

30/01/42

07/02/42

NA 002

08/02/42

08/02/42

03/03/42

03/03/42

HX 178

07/03/42

17/03/42

05/03/42

16/03/42

ON 073

18/03/42

16/03/42

21/03/42

21/03/42

NA 006

23/03/42

28/03/42

27/03/42

27/03/42

HX 182

30/03/42

09/04/42

11/04/42

11/04/42

SC 079

15/04/42

27/04/42

14/04/42

14/04/42

HX 185

18/04/42

27/04/42

08/04/42

22/04/42

ON 084

25/04/42

25/04/42

07/05/42

07/05/42

SC 083

12/05/42

23/05/42

06/05/42

14/05/42

ON 092

21/05/42

21/05/42

21/05/42

21/05/42

BX 019

23/05/42

23/05/42

19/07/42

19/07/42

HX 199

23/07/42

30/07/42

13/07/42

25/07/42

ON 112

unknown

30/07/42

31/07/42

31/07/42

BX 031B

02/08/42

02/08/42

04/08/42

04/08/42

SC 095

08/08/42

19/08/42

22/08/42

22/08/42

SC 097

26/08/42

07/09/42

22/08/42

31/08/42

ON 123

unknown

03/09/42

05/09/42

05/09/42

BX 036C

07/09/42

07/09/42

03/10/42

06/10/42

SC 104

10/10/42

21/10/42

02/10/42

14/10/42

ON 135

18/10/42

21/10/42

16/10/42

19/10/42

SC 106

23/10/42

05/11/42

25/10/42

02/11/42

ON 141

04/11/42

10/11/42

19/11/42

21/11/42

HX 216

24/11/42

06/12/42

27/11/42

02/12/42

HX 217

03/12/42

14/12/42

11/02/43

22/02/43

ON 166

25/02/43

03/03/43

23/02/43

03/03/43

SC 121

04/03/43

14/03/43

08/03/43

15/03/43

HX 229

15/03/43

23/03/43

20/03/43

29/03/43

SC 124

31/03/43

09/04/43

24/03/43

02/04/43

ON 175

unknown

16/04/43

01/04/43

08/04/43

HX 232

13/04/43

16/04/43

28/03/43

13/04/43

ONS 002

14/04/43

19/04/43

18/06/43

26/06/43

KMF 017

27/06/43

27/06/43

30/06/43

02/07/43

KMS 017

07/07/43

06/07/43

10/07/43

10/07/43

MWF 037

13/07/43

13/07/43

13/07/43

13/07/43

MEF 037

17/07/43

17/07/43

20/07/43

20/07/43

MWF 038

24/07/43

24/07/43

17/08/43

08/09/43

KMS 025G

10/09/43

30/08/43

17/09/43

30/09/43

MKF 024

01/10/43

07/10/43

01/10/43

01/10/43

RS 010

07/10/43

07/10/43

13/02/44

03/03/44

UGS 033

04/03/44

12/03/44

01/04/44

01/04/44

MKS 044G

02/04/44

02/04/44

02/04/44

02/04/44

SL 153MK

13/04/44

13/04/44

 

 

 

 

 

(Note on Convoys)

 


 

FURTHER INFORMATION on HMS WITHERINGTON

from James D Witherington, USA

HMS WITHERINGTON's bell hangs in the council chambers of the city of Durham, England, as does a plaque of the ship's badge. It seems that Durham adopted her during WW2.  When she was sold for scrap, the bell was retrieved and presented to Durham.  It is still rung at every meeting so I am told. All the photographs above are courtesy of Mr Witherington.

The  postcard (see heading photographs) states on the back that the "Shah of Persia is on board the Witherington as it passes through the British lines around 1926"  - an important piece of history as it was in 1926 that old Persia went out of existence, and the modern nation of Iran came into being. 

and from Harry Hicks - another view of HMS WITHERINGTON with the Shah on board

 


THE WRECK OF H.M.S. WITHERINGTON.
 from Chris Lambert, Historian, Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade.

(Note: this account is dated 1945, but all other sources give her loss as 1947. This has not yet been resolved)

Taken from "The Shields Evening News", Tuesday May 1st 1945.
(The paper is kept on microfilm at North Shields Library Local Studies Centre and is, in places, not readable at the places indicate in the transcript below C.J. Lambert, February 2010.)

CULLERCOATS LIFEBOAT RESCUE.

DESTROYER WRECKED IN GALE ON TYNE PIER ; CREW SAVED.

Caught by the fierce northerly wind which was whipping up the sea into a fury, a destroyer on her way from the Tyne to be broken up in Scotland, parted from her tow ropes and went ashore on the rocks at the south of the South Pier on Sunday night. Her skeleton crew of Shields men was taken off safely by the Cullercoats lifeboat.

The men aboard were Mr. Alexander Mitchell, of 24 Glendale Avenue, North Shields, transport manager of the firm of Messrs. Alexander Mitchell and Son, of North Shields, which provided the following riggers: Ossie Stoker, 5 Abbotsford Park, Monkseaton, Joseph Esdale, 48 Vicarage Street, North Shields, Tom Stringer, 28 Windsor Gardens, North Shields, Albert McCurry, Henry Street, North Shields and (unreadable) Fothergill of Prospect (unreadable) .John Coulson, representing Anchor Line of Steam Tugs, of (unreadable), which provided (unreadable) was also on board.

The vessel had left the Tyne on her last voyage to be broken up at Rosyth.

TOW ROPE PARTED.

She was pounded so fiercely by the waves that her tow rope parted off St. Abbs Head.

Mr. Mitchell told a reporter "When the rope first parted off St. Abbs at about 1.30 on Sunday morning, we drifted helplessly down to Berwick. Finally the tugs got us in tow again, but the weather was so bad that we decided to return to the Tyne and shelter until conditions improved.

We had rather a tough time coming south again as the sea was particularly fierce and as we were nearing the Tyne our tow rope parted again.

The tugs again got us in tow with some difficulty and several ropes were secured to the destroyer. As we reached the harbour, the fierce winds caught the ship again and all the ropes parted, leaving us to drift helplessly until the ship crashed on to the rocks at the south side of the South Pier."

The ship was badly damaged and was being severely pounded by the heavy seas. Tugs raced for assistance and the Cullercoats lifeboat under coxswain James Taylor put to sea.

After a good deal of manoeuvring the lifeboat managed to get alongside and get all the crew off safely.

Because of the bad weather the lifeboat was unable to return to Cullercoats, and the men had to be landed at North Shields Fish Quay.

The South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade was on duty and fired several line-carrying rockets to the ship, but the breeches buoy was not needed.

The destroyer is lying on the rocks with the seas breaking over and pounding her to pieces. She is expected to be a total loss.

Standing up to their waists in water a number of Cullercoats women had to launch the Cullercoats lifeboat Westmorland when the alarm was received that a vessel was in distress off the mouth of the Tyne. The lifeboat was in charge of Coxswain J. Taylor.

 

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