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SERVICE HISTORIES of ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS in WORLD WAR 2

by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2003

HMS WOLSEY (D 98) -  V & W-class Destroyer
including Convoy Escort Movements

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Woolston, Thornycroft W-class sister ship (NavyPhotos, click to enlarge)

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Thornycroft W-Class Destroyer included in the 10th Order of the 1916-17 Build Programme and ordered on 9th December 1916 from J I Thornycroft at Woolston. The ship was laid down on 28th March 1917 and launched on 16th March 1918 as the first RN ship to bear this name. Her Build was completed on 14th May 1918. After service with the Fleet during WW1 she was part of the 4th Destroyer Flotilla in the Atlantic Fleet and transferred to the Mediterranean before being placed in Reserve at Malta. In 1938 she was selected for conversion to an AA Escort Destroyer by HM Dockyard, Malta and entered service after completion. Following a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in December 1941 she was adopted by the civil community of Spennymoor, County Durham.

 

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

 

DUNKIRK 1940 - ATLANTIC 1940-42 - NORTH SEA 1939-45 - ENGLISH CHANNEL 1943

 

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

Badge: On a Field White, a leopards face, Blue.

 

M o t t o

To the last penny, 'Tis the Kings'

 

 

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

 

September             Under refit and conversion by HM Dockyard, Malta for use as an AA Escort.

to December          (Note: These ships were known as WAIRS.

                                For details see V&W DESTROYERS 1917-45 by A Preston and

                                BRITISH DESTROYERS by E March.)

                                Pennant Number for visual signalling purposes changed to L02

                                Nominated for service in Home waters

 

1 9 4 0

 

January                  On completion of Post-refit harbour and sea trials accepted into service.

                                Took passage from Malta to Gibraltar.

                29th        Joined inward Convoy HG17F with HM Sloop LOWESTOFT as escort during

                                passage to Liverpool.

                31st         HM Sloop SANDWICH joined escort.

 

February

                4th          HM Destroyers BROKE and WINCHELSEA joined escort for final stage of

                                passage.

                5th          HMS SANDWICH and HMS BROKE detached from HG17F.

                7th          Detached from HG17F on arrival at Liverpool

                                Allocated for service in Western Approaches Command.

 

March                    Deployed for convoy escort in Western Approaches.

to                            (For details of naval activities in 1939 see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE

April                       CLOSELY by C Barnett and The Naval Staff History.)

 

May

                10th        Transferred to Dover Command for support of military operations after German advance

                                into France and the Low Countries.

                13th        Escorted convoy to Dunkirk to reinforce French AA defences at Channel

                                ports with HM Destroyers WIVERN, BOREAS and KEITH. (Operation FA)

                                Embarked demolition parties for passage to Le Havre for destruction of

                                port facilities.

                15th        Support deployment in continuation.

                16th        Bombarded Escault with HM Destroyer VIMIERA.

                17th        Carried out further bombardment of Escault.

                22nd       Assisted in evacuation and escorted convoys from Calais.

                25th        Engaged 6in howitzers with HM Destroyer WOLFHOUND in support of

                                evacuation.

                26th        Nominated for service in support of evacuation of allied troops from Dunkirk.

                                (Operation DYNAMO See Naval Staff History, NINE DAYS OF DUNKIRK by

                                AD Divine and BEF SHIPS by J de Winser).

                27th        Embarked troops from small craft whilst off the beaches.

                28th        Landed 102 troops at Dover.

                29th        Landed 315 troops at Dover.

                30th        Made two trips to Dunkirk and landed 616 and 1065 troops at Dover.

                31st         Whilst at Dunkirk sustained damage from fire in Degaussing equipment

                                and in collision with mercantile.

                                Deployed as W/T Link to assist in communications with Dover.

                                Landed 425 troops on return to Dover.

 

June

                1st           Landed 535 troops at Dover.

                                Withdrawn from DYNAMO for repair

                2nd         Passage to Portsmouth.

                3rd          Under repair by HM Dockyard.

                                On completion of DYNAMO deployed for escort and patrol duties in

                                Channel and North Sea.

 

July                         Deployed for convoy defence and anti-invasion patrol in North Sea.

                                For details of naval activities in North Sea and convoy defence see

                                THE BATTLE OF THE EAST COAST by J P Foynes, THREE CORVETTES

                                by N Monsarrat and THE BATTLE OF THE NARROW SEAS by P Scott.)

 

August                  Resumed duty in Western Approaches Command for Atlantic convoy

to                            escort.

December              For details of tactics and equipment used in defence and for attacks on

                                Atlantic convoys see HITLER'S U-BOAT WAR by C Blair. THE BATTLE OF

                                THE ATLANTIC by D Macintyre, U-BOAT WAR IN THE ATLANTIC (HMSO)

                                and SEEK AND STRIKE by W Hackmann.)

 

1 9 4 1

 

January                  Transferred to Rosyth Escort Force for convoy escort in North Sea and

to September         NW Approaches for coastal convoys.

                                (Note: Traffic in transit to and from the Clyde were routed via North Sea

                                and subject to attack by aircraft as well as by E-Boats based in

                                Holland and Belgium.)

 

October                  Deployed with Rosyth Escort Force for escort of North Sea convoys

                                and interception patrol to deter E-Boat attacks. Part of escort for

                                northbound Convoy FN31 with HM Destroyers WESTMINSTER of Rosyth

                                Escort Force, HM Destroyer COTSWOLD from Harwich and Motor Gunboats

                                of Light Coastal Forces.

                12th        Convoy under attacks by nine E-Boats of 2nd German Flotilla, during which

                                ss CHEVINGTON and ss ROY were sunk. The enemy craft were engaged

                                and pursued unsuccessfully during their flight after the sinking.. See THE

                                BATTLE OF THE EAST COAST by JP Foynes and THE BATTLE OF THE

                                NARROW SEAS by P Scott.

 

November              Rosyth Escort Force deployment in continuation.

                19th        Part of escort for southbound convoy FS50 to Thames estuary with HM

                                Destroyers VERDUN, VESPER, CAMPBELL, GARTH, HAMBLEDON and

                                QUORN, HM Corvettes KITTIWAKE and WIDGEON.

                20th        Took part in defence of FS50 against heavy attacks by E-Boats of 2nd

                                German Flotilla.

                                Three ships were sunk in this convoy including HM Tanker WAR MEHAR.

                                (Note: This ship of 11,681grt was the largest to be sunk by an E-Boat

                                attack in the North Sea during WW2. The other two ships were the

                                colliers ARUBA and WALDINGE.)

 

December              Rosyth Escort Force deployment in continuation.

 

1 9 4 2

 

                                Rosyth Escort Force service in continuation.

                                (Note: During this year Radar and radio telephone communication equipment

                                was fitted to assist in detection of the approach of aircraft and E-Boats.

                                The first radar set installed was a modified variant of an RAF Air-Surface

                                outfit which was not suited for ship use as the aerial unit was fixed to the

                                mast and could not detect any approach unless ship turned. It was

                                later changed for a naval design but was still not very satisfactory. For

                                details of development of radar by the RN see RADAR AT SEA by D

                                Howse. Radio telephone sets were an invaluable asset for communication

                                with aircraft and other escorting ships to give warning of attacks and

                                for manoeuvring. During this period intensity of E Boat operations

                                increased but improved air cover reduced success of attacks.)

 

1 9 4 3

 

                                Rosyth Escort Force deployment in continuation.

                                (Note: E Boat attacks increased but the additional availability of Light Coastal

                                Forces craft from bases in East Coast ports improved convoy defence.

                                Losses of ships in convoy were still at unacceptable levels but many

                                were not attacked by enemy air or sea units.

 

1 9 4 4

 

                                Deployed in North Sea and Channel for convoy defence and interception patrol.

                                (Note: This ship was not deployed for escort of military convoys during the

                                landings in Normandy (Operation NEPTUNE). See Naval Staff History.)

 

1 9 4 5

 

January                  Deployed for convoy escort and patrol in North Sea.

to April                  (Note: Enemy attacks were being concentrated on traffic to ports in Belgium

                                for support of the allied advance into Germany. Extensive mining was

                                being carried out by aircraft, E-Boats and submarines, including

                                submersibles in addition to torpedo attacks by surface ships and

                                SCHNORKEL fitted U-BOATS. As a result significant additional ships

                                were deployed for interception patrol and escort of military convoys.

                                See HOLD THE NARROW SEA by P Smith, ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE

                                CLOSELY by C Barnett, SEEK AND STRIKE by W Hackmann and The

                                Naval Staff History.)

 

May                        Deployed for support of allied re-occupation of Norway after VE Day.

                14th        Provided escort for minesweeping operations to clear entrance to Stavanger

                                with HM Destroyer VIVACIOUS.

 

June                        On release from support duties in Norway, nominated for reduction to Reserve status.

to                            Paid-off and de-stored.

August

 

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

 

HMS WOLSEY remained laid-up in Reserve until placed on the Disposal List in 1946. The ship was sold to BISCO on 4th March 1947 and later was towed to Sunderland for demolition by T Young & Co.

 

S p e c i a l N o t e

 

In common with many other escorts this ship received little publicity during WW2, but like all warships deployed on coastal convoy defence in the North Sea, faced dangers from enemy air and sea attacks, from the extensive mining campaigns and the vagaries of weather conditions, particularly fog. It should always be remembers that many hundreds of ships were escorted without loss.

 


 

Addendum

 

CONVOY ESCORT MOVEMENTS of HMS WOLSEY

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

 

 

 

 

 

29/01/40

29/01/40

HG 017F

07/02/40

07/02/40

27/02/40

27/02/40

FN 0104

29/02/40

29/02/40

30/03/40

30/03/40

MT 040

30/03/49

30/03/40

01/04/40

01/04/40

FS 0135

03/04/40

03/04/40

01/04/40

01/04/40

MT 042

01/04/40

01/04/40

08/04/40

08/04/40

MT 047

09/04/40

09/04/40

17/04/40

17/04/40

FS 0148

19/04/40

19/04/40

17/04/40

17/04/40

MT 053

17/04/40

17/04/40

24/04/40

24/04/40

FS 0154

26/04/40

26/04/40

05/05/40

05/05/40

FS 0163

07/05/40

07/05/40

05/05/40

05/05/40

MT 064

05/05/40

05/05/40

27/06/40

27/06/40

MT 097

28/06/40

28/06/40

28/06/40

28/06/40

FS 0207

29/06/40

30/06/40

01/07/40

01/07/40

FN 0210

03/07/40

03/07/40

05/07/40

05/07/40

FS 0214

06/07/40

06/07/40

17/07/40

17/07/40

FS 0224

18/07/40

18/07/40

20/07/40

20/07/40

FN 0227

22/07/40

22/07/40

23/07/40

23/07/40

FS 0230

25/07/40

25/07/40

10/08/40

10/08/40

FN 0248

12/08/40

12/08/40

10/08/40

10/08/40

FS 0248

12/08/40

12/08/40

18/08/40

18/08/40

FS 0256

20/08/40

20/08/40

26/08/40

26/08/40

FS 0263

28/08/40

28/08/40

29/08/40

29/08/40

FN 0266

31/08/40

31/08/40

05/09/40

05/09/40

FS 0273

07/09/40

07/09/40

09/09/40

09/09/40

FN 0277B

11/09/40

11/09/40

14/09/40

14/09/40

FS 0281

16/09/40

16/09/40

26/09/40

26/09/40

FN 0291

28/09/40

28/09/40

29/09/40

29/09/40

FS 0295

01/10/40

01/10/40

02/10/40

02/10/40

FN 0297

04/10/40

04/10/40

11/10/40

11/10/40

FS 0306

14/10/40

14/10/40

14/10/40

14/10/40

FN 0308

16/10/40

16/10/40

19/10/40

19/10/40

FS 0314

22/10/40

22/10/40

23/10/40

23/10/40

FN 0317

25/10/40

25/10/40

12/11/40

12/11/40

FS 0334

14/11/40

14/11/40

15/11/40

15/11/40

FN 0335

17/11/40

17/11/40

21/11/40

21/11/40

FS 0341

23/11/40

23/11/40

24/11/40

24/11/40

FN 0342

26/11/40

26/11/40

27/11/40

27/11/40

FS 0347

29/11/40

29/11/40

02/12/40

02/12/40

FN 0348

04/12/40

04/12/40

10/12/40

10/12/40

FS 0358

12/12/40

12/12/40

14/12/40

14/12/40

FN 0359

16/12/40

16/12/40

19/12/40

19/12/40

FS 0365

21/12/40

21/12/40

27/12/40

27/12/40

FS 0373

29/12/40

29/12/40

03/01/41

03/01/41

FS 0378

05/01/41

05/01/41

20/02/41

06/03/41

HG 054

12/03/41

12/03/41

16/03/41

16/03/41

OB 298

20/03/41

20/03/41

01/03/41

21/03/41

SL 067

26/03/41

26/03/41

27/03/41

27/03/41

OG 057

01/04/41

11/04/41

03/07/41

03/07/41

OG 067

04/07/41

20/07/41

06/03/43

06/03/43

CW 161

07/03/43

07/03/43

07/03/43

07/03/43

CE 159

08/03/43

08/03/43

 

 

 

 

 

(Note on Convoys)

 

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