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

HMS ONSLAUGHT (G 04) -  O-class Destroyer
including Convoy Escort Movements

HMS Onslaught (CyberHeritage, click to enlarge)

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O or ORIBI-Class Fleet Destroyer ordered from Fairfield of Govan on 3rd September 1939 with the 1st Emergency Flotilla. She was laid down on 14th January 1941 and was to have been named PATHFINDER, which had been previously been used by a cruiser built in 1904 and lost in 1914. However following a policy review of names to be used for the Emergency Flotillas the selected name was changed. The ship was launched on 9th October 1941 as HMS ONSLAUGHT also previously used for a WW1 destroyer, sold in 1921. Build was completed on 19th June 1942. Four ships of this Class, including ONSLAUGHT were not designed for use as a minelayer. In March 1942 after a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign the ship was adopted by the civil community of the Isle of Wight.


B a t t l e  H o n o u r s


JUTLAND   1916 - NORWAY  1940-45 - ARCTIC  1942-45 - ATLANTIC  1943 - NORMANDY  1944


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field Blue, four cutlasses in saltire White,

pommels and hilrs gold'


M o t t o

'Fierce in action'



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 4 2


June                        Contractors trials and commissioning.

                19th        Commissioned for service in 17th Destroyer Flotilla, Home Fleet.

                22nd       Worked-up at Scapa Flow with Hone Fleet

                30th        Joined HM Destroyers ASHANTI, BLANKNEY, ESCAPADE, FAULKNOR, MARNE,

                                MARTIN, ONSLOW, MIDDLETON and WHEATLAND as destroyer screen for HM Battleship

                                DUKE OF YORK, US battleship USS WASHINGTON, HM Aircraft Carrier VICTORIOUS,

                                HM Cruisers CUMBERLAND and NIGERIA providing Distant Cover for transit of Convoy


                                For details of all Russian convoy operations see CONVOYS TO RUSSIA by R A Ruegg,

                                THE RUSSIAN CONVOYS by B Schoefield, ARCTIC CONVOYS by R Woodman,

                                CONVOY! by P Kemp and ARCTIC DESTROYERS by GC Cornell).

                                (Note: Passage of this convoy until its dispersal is described in THE CONVOY IS TO

                                SCATTER by J Broome).



                4th          Convoy dispersed at Admiralty instructions because of threat of attack by German heavy

                                units including the battleship TIRPITZ.

                                Home Fleet cover continued for passage of the return convoy QP13-

                                For details see THE CONVOY IS TO SCATTER by J Broome).

                                (Note: The disaster which met QP13 is described in the above references).

                14th        Deployed at Scapa Flow with US Navy destroyers.

                                (Note: The four USN destroyers loaned to the Home Fleet required guidance in the techniques

                                practiced by Home Fleet ships - See ARCTIC DESTROYERS).


August                  Home Fleet duties with Flotilla in continuation.

                12th        Embarked RAF personnel for passage to Murmansk to set up base for HAMPDEN bombers

                                for future use in North Russia.

                13th        Sailed from Greenock with US cruiser USS TUSCALOOSA, US destroyers USS RODMAN

                                and USS EMMONS.

                                (Note: Equipment and medical unit for treatment of British and Allied casualties were being

                                carried in the US warships).
                17th        HM Destroyers MARNE and MARTIN joined to reinforce escort for the final stageof passage

                                into Murmansk.

                23rd        Arrived at Kola but Medical unit was not allowed to land.

                24th        Embarked survivors from previous convoys and sailed as escort for USS TUSCALOOSA with

                                HMS MARNE, HMS MARTIN and US Navy ships for return passage.

                25th        Detached from USN ships to search for German minelayer ULM.

                                Intercepted ULM which was engaged by gunfire from the three RN destroyers.

                                Sank ULM by torpedo.

                                Rescued 6 of the 60 German survivors from ULM.

                                (Operation EU - This was undertaken after decryption of ENIGMA radio traffic)

                28th        Rejoined Flotilla at Scapa Flow.



                2nd         Passage to Iceland as part of escort for HM Battleship ANSON with HMS OPPORTUNE.

                9th          Joined HM Destroyers SOMALI, ASHANTI, ESKIMO, TARTAR, ONSLOW, OPPORTUNE

                                OFFA in Force A of Fighting Escort for Russian Convoy PQ18

                                (Note: Force B of Fighting Escort comprised: HM Destroyers MILNE, MARNE, MARTIN,

                                METEOR, FAULKNOR, FURY, IMPULSIVE and INTREPID with HM Cruiser SCYLLA

                                as Flagship. HM Escort Aircraft Carrier AVENGER provided air cover).

                13th        Under sustained submarine and air attacks.

                16th        Detached from Convoy PQ18 with Force A to provide escort for passage of returning Convoy QP14.

                17th        Joined escort of returning Convoy QP14 with HMS SCYLLA, HMS AVENGER and Force A


                19th        Detached from QP14 to carry out anti-submarine operations astern of convoy during change of


                20th        On completion took passage to Bell, Sound, Spitzbergen to collect RFA BLUE RANGER.

                                HM Escorts Destroyers OAKLEY, COWDRAY and HM Destroyer WINDSOR.

                21st         Passage to Iceland with same ships,

                                (Note: One source records mercantile TROUBADOUR was with the ships but other another

                                source records loss.)

                27th        Resumed Fleet duties on arrival in Iceland.


October                  Carried out Flotilla exercises in NW Approaches.

                10th        At Scapa Flow during visit by Prime Minister and Stafford Cripps to Hone Fleet.



                14th        Passage to Iceland in heavy weather arriving at Seidisfjord 17th.

                20th        Took passage with HM Cruisers LONDON and SUFFOLK with HM Destroyers FORESTER and

                                OBDURATE to provide cover west of Bear Island for passage of return Convoy QP15.

                23rd        Unable to refuel from HMS SUFFOLK after rough passage

                                (Note: Convoy has become dispersed due to weather conditions.)

                27th        Arrived in Iceland and refuelled before sailing to Scapa Flow



                4th          Returned to Scapa Flow and later sailed to Leith.

                                Under refit at Leith


1 9 4 3



                1st           Rejoined Flotilla at Scapa Flow for Home Fleet duties.

                17th        Joined HM Destroyers BEAGLE, BULLDOG, MATCHLESS, MUSKETEER, OFFA and Polish

                                ORP PIORUN as escort for Russian Convoy JW52.

                24th        Under torpedo bomber attack.

                27th        Detached on arrival of convoy at Kola Inlet.

                29th        Joined HM Destroyers BEAGLE, BULLDOG, FORESTER, ICARUS, MATCHLESS

                                MUSKETEER, OFFA, ONSLOW and ORP PIORUN as Ocean Escort for returning Convoy RA52.



                3rd          Convoy under attack by U-Boats. One US mercantile was sunk.

                5th          Detached from Convoy RA52 leaving HMS FORESTER and corvettes with mercantiles.

                6th          Took passage to Scapa Flow from Iceland after refuelling arriving on 7th.

                24th        Deployed with HM Destroyers METEOR, MUSKETEER, OFFA and ORP PIORUN as destroyer

                                screen for HM Cruiser BERWICK, HM Battleships KING GEORGE V and HOWE to provide

                                Distant Cover for passage of Russian Convoy JW53.

                26th        Detached from JW53 cover for passage to Murmansk after arrival of local Eastern Escort for




                1st           Provided Distant Cover for passage of return Convoy RA53 with HMS KING GEORGE V, HMS

                                HOWE, HM Cruiser GLASGOW, HM Destroyers FORESTER, ICARUS, MUSKETEER, OFFA

                                and ORP PIORUN.

                7th          Convoy dispersed due to bad weather and covering force returned to Scapa Flow.

                10th        Transferred with HM Destroyers OFFA, OBEDIENT, ORWELL and ORIBI for the defence of

                                North Atlantic convoys and deployed as 3rd Support Group.

                                (For details of Atlantic convoy defence see THE BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC by Donald

                                MacIntyre, SEEK AND STRIKE by William Hackmann, HITLER'S U-BOAT WAR by C. Blair

                                and BUSINESS IN GREAT WATERS by J. Terraine).

                27th        Joined escort of Convoy SC123 under threat of attack with Group.

                                Transferred with Group to Convoy HX230. to reinforce escort by Escort Group B1.

                                (Note: Weather conditions caused structural damage to several ships of Group.)

                                Defence of HX230 with Group against sustained attacks by SEETEUFEL and SEEWOLF

                                U-Boat Groups.

                28th        Returned to Londonderry.


April                       Under repair at Liverpool.

                                Transferred to 4th Support Group and joined HM Escort Carrier ARCHER, HM Destroyers

                                FAULKNOR and IMPULSIVE

                                Deployed in support of Atlantic convoys.


May                        Atlantic support with Group in continuation.

                7th          Rescued crew of LIBERATOR aircraft with HMS FAULKNOR.

                19th        Sailed from Argentia with Group to support Convoy HX239 under heavy and sustained attacks

                                by MOSEL and DONNAU Groups.

                21st         Joined HX239 and deployed for anti-submarine operations.

                23rd        Detached from HX239 after refuelling from tanker in convoy.

                                Note: The successful defence of Atlantic convoys and sinking of several U-Boats resulted in

                                changes in U-Boat Atlantic deployments pending availability of new weapons and

                                electronic equipment for detection of radar signals.

                                See above references, U-BOAT WAR IN THE ATLANTIC (HMSO).


June                        Resumed duty in Home Fleet with 17th Destroyer Flotilla.

                7th          Deployed with screen for HM Cruisers BELFAST, LONDON and KENT with destroyers of

                                Home Fleet for offensive sweep demonstration off Norway (Operation CAMERA) .


July                         Flotilla duties with Home Fleet in continuation.

                19th        Taken in hand for refit at commercial shipyard in Immingham.


August                  Under refit

                                (Note: During refit a Lattice mast suitable for fitting heavier radar aerial and other equipment

                                was fitted in place of tripod design.)



                22nd       Resumed Flotilla duties at Scapa Flow on completion of post refit trials.


October                  Independent passage to Kola Inlet via Iceland with urgent supply of stores.

                6th          Arrived at Kola Inlet and returned to Faeroes after refuelling.

                16th        Deployed with HMS ORWELL, HMS ORIBI and US destroyer USS FITCH as escort for US

                                cruiser USS TUSCALOOSA during passage to Spitzbergen (Operation FQ).

                                (Note: Norwegian troops were to be landed to re-establish weather station after German raid in

                                September 1943) .

                19th        During anti-submarine operations at entry to Fjord detected U737

.                               Struck U-Boat and sustained major damage to A/S Dome and propeller shaft.

                                Detached and took passage to UK for docking.

                25th        Under repair at Hull.


November              Rejoined Flotilla at Scapa Flow on completion.

                18th        Joined Russian Convoy JW54A as Ocean Escort with HM Destroyers IMPULSIVE, ONSLOW,

                                OBEDIENT, ORWELL, HAIDA (RCN), HURON (RCN) and IROQUOIS (RCN).

                                (Note: HMS OBEDIENT detached on 19th).

                25th        Detached from JW54A to join escort for return Convoy RA54A with sister destroyers HMS

                                ONSLOW, ORWELL, HM Canadian destroyers HAIDA, HURON and IROQUOIS.

                28th        Joined RA54A as part of escort during return passage.



                5th          Detached from RA54A and resumed Flotilla duties before arrival at Loch Ewe.

                7th          Deployed in NW Approaches.

                22nd       Joined HM Destroyers IMPULSIVE, ONSLOW, ORWELL, SCOURGE, HAIDA RCN),

                                HURON (RCN) and IROQUOIS as escort for Russian Convoy JW55B (Operation FV).

                                (Note: Remained with convoy and did not take part in sinking of SCHARNHORST. See

                                above references and KOLA RUN by D Campbell and I MacIntyre)

.               29th        Detached from JW55B.

                31st         Joined HM Destroyers WHITEHALL, WRESTLER, IMPULSIVE, ONSLOW, ORWELL,

                                HAIDA (RCN), HURON (RCN), IROQUOIS (RCN), HM Corvettes HONEYSUCKLE,

                                RHODODENDRON and OXLIP as escort for returning Convoy RA55B.


1 9 4 4



                7th          Detached from RA 55B with Home Fleet destroyers on arrival of local escort.

                8th          Resumed Home Fleet Flotilla duties.

                9th          Took part in Combined Operations exercise in Moray Firth.

                                (Note: This was part of a series in preparation for Normandy Landings.

                                See LANDINGS IN NORMANDY, JUNE 1944 (HMSO).)



                10th        Part of destroyer screen for screen for Hone Fleet cruiser carrying out offensive sweep off


                12th        Rejoined Flotilla.

                22nd       Joined HM Destroyers MAHRATTA, MATCHLESS, METEOR, MILNE, OBEDIENT,

                                OFFA, ORIBI, SAVAGE, SERAPIS, SWIFT, VERULAM and VIGILANT for escort of

                                Russian Convoy JW57 with HM Cruiser BLACK PRINCE.

                25th        Under attack by U990 which sank HMS MAHRATTA by acoustic torpedo with heavy loss of


                28th        Detached from JW57 on arrival at Kola Inlet.



                2nd         Joined escort for return convoy RA57 with HMS BLACK PRINCE, HM Escort Aircraft

                                Carrier CHASER, HM Destroyer IMPULSIVE and same destroyers, except HMS


                4th          Attacked and sank U472 which had been disabled by aircraft from HMS CHASER.

                                (Note: U472 was engaged by gunfire and 27 survivors were rescued of whom 2 died later.

                                See ARCTIC DESTROYERS and U-BOATS DESTROYED By P Kemp.)

                8th          Detached from RA57 with HM Destroyers MATCHLESS, MILNE, OFFA, ORIBI,

                                SAVAGE, SERAPIS and VIGILANT to rejoin Hone Fleet.

                18th        Returned to Scapa Flow.



                3rd          Part of screen for Home Fleet ships deployed on FAA attack against TIRPITZ.

                                (Operation TUNGSTEN - See above references and Naval Staff History.)

                6th          Returned to Scapa Flow with Home Fleet ships on completion of TUNGSTEN.

                11th        Took part in Home Fleet exercises with Flotilla in preparation for support of the planned

                                invasion of Normandy.

                20th        Took passage to Plymouth for support of exercises to Normandy landings.

                24th        Under repair in drydock at Devonport after grounding in fog on entry.

                                (Note: This prevented ship taking part in the aftermath of Exercise TIGER during which

                                E-Boats attacked Landing Craft in Lyme Bay .See LANDINGS IN NORMANDY

                                June 1944.(HMSO).)



                5th          Took passage to Scapa Flow arriving on 10th

                26th        Passage to Portsmouth from Scapa Flow with HM Destroyers ONSLOW and ORIBI.

                27th        Deployed with Flotilla for patrol duties in Channel and exercises prior to allied assault landings

                                in Normandy (Operation NEPTUNE).

                                (For details of naval activities prior to and during the landings see OPERATION NEPTUNE

                                by K Edwards and LANDINGS IN NORMANDY, June 1944 (HMSO)).


June                        Deployed at Portsmouth.

                                Established patrol off western boundary of convoy transit 'Spout' to intercept craft attempting

                                to attack convoy traffic.

                4th          Operation delayed by 24 hours.

                5th          Patrol duties in continuation

                to            (Note: A kill of a U-Boat is recorded in ARCTIC DESTROYERS, but is not confirmed in

                8th          other official records of U-Boat losses on 6th June. See U-BOATS DESTROYED by P


                9th          HM Destroyers SCORPION and SCOURGE joined patrol because of threat from German

                                NARVIK Class destroyers.

                10th        Channel deployment continued during Build-up phase.

                                (Note: Patrol area was extended after end of Assault Phase)

.               12th        In action against E-Boats off Boulogne.

                25th        Retained with Flotilla in Channel after NEPTUNE completed.

                26th        Deployed as part of screen for HM Battleship RODNEY, HM Monitor ROBERTS, HM Cruisers

                                BELFAST and DIADEM during bombardment of Caen area in the support of British army



July                         Channel interception patrol and military support duties in continuation.

                3rd          Deployed with HM Destroyer BRISSENDEN and HM Frigate SEYMOUR for anti-submarine

                                patrol in Channel.

                                Carried out attacks en Sonar contact which were unsuccessful.

                14th        Boiler clean at Sheerness.

                20th        Resumed Channel duties.

                30th        In action against E-Boats off Cap d'Antifer with Light Coastal Forces craft.


August                  Detached English Channel deployment in continuation.

                10th        Deployed as screen for HMS RODNEY with HM Destroyer SAUMAREZ during bombardment

                                of gun batteries on Alderney.

                11th        Deployed with HI Destroyer SAUMAREZ and US Destroyer Escort BORUM.

                                Engaged German minesweepers in brief action off Channel Islands.

                12th        Carried out unsuccessful anti-submarine operations wit HMS SAUMAREZ.

                14th        During patrol with HM Destroyer SAUMAREZ off Channel Islands intercepted convoy.

                                Came under fire from shore batteries and eventually had to disengage.

                                (Note: HMS SAUMAREZ had some casualties and sustained damage from this return fire.)

                15th        Returned to Portsmouth

                18th        Carried out patrol in Channel Islands area with HM Destroyer ULYSSES.

                19th        Engaged enemy convoy comprising minesweepers and landing craft.

                                (Note: Hits were obtained on minesweepers by both destroyers.).

.                               Taken in hand for refit at Humber shipyard.


September             On completion of post refit trials took passage to Scapa to resumed Flotilla duties at Scapa Flow.


October                  Deployed with Flotilla for Home Fleet screening and patrol duties.

                19th        Detached for cover of minelaying operation by FAA aircraft in Karm Sound, Norway.

                20th        Joined Force 3 as screen for HM Cruiser DIADEM, HM Escort Carriers PURSUER, PREMIER

                                with HM Destroyers SCOURGE, SCORPION and ZEALOUS.

                                (Operation HANDFOOT - See Naval Staff History (MINING) for details)



                1st           Part of destroyer screen for HM Cruiser BELLONA, HM Escort Aircraft Carriers CAMPANIA

                                and NAIRANA with HM Destroyers BEAGLE, BULLDOG, CAESAR, CAMBRIAN,

                                CAPRICE, CASSANDRA, KEPPEL, OBEDIENT, OFFA, ONSLOW, ORIBI and ORWELL as

                                escort for Russian Convoy JW62.

                7th          Detached from JW62 on arrival at Kola Inlet after unscathed passage.

                10th        Carried out anti-submarine operations off Kola Inlet prior to departure of Convoy RA62.

                                On completion joined escort for passage with same ships.

                                (Note: HMS CASSANDRA was damaged by an acoustic torpedo and returned to Murmansk

                                to be repaired on 11th).

                18th        Detached from RA62 and resumed duties with Hone Fleet.


1 9 4 5



                10th        Deployed for Home Fleet screening duties with HMS ONSLOW and HMS ORWELL.

                11th        Deployed for screening duties for HM Cruisers NORFOLK and BELLONA during attacks

                                on shipping off Egersund as Force 1.

                                (Operation SPELLBINDER - Successful attack made on enemy convoy. See Naval Staff

                                History for details).

                18th        Deployed for anti-submarine patrol in North Sea with Polish destroyer.

                                (Note: ARCTIC DESTROYERS records that an attack was made on a U-Boat which was

                                driven to the surface and scuttled. 16 survivors rescued by Poles but not landed on return

                                to harbour. No record of a sinking is recorded in U-BOATS DESTROYED by P Kemp,

                                U333 by P Cremer or HITLER'S U-BOAT WAR).



                5th          Sailed from Scapa Flow with HM Destroyers ZAMBESI and ZEST to join Convoy JW64.

                6th          Deployed with HM Destroyers ONSLOW, OPPORTUNE, ORWELL, SERAPIS, ZAMBESI,

                                ZEALOUS, ZEST and SIOUX (RCN) as screen for HM Cruiser BELLONA, HM Escort

                                Carriers CAMPANIA and NAIRANA for escort during passage of Russian Convoy JW64.

                                (Note: HM Destroyer ZEBRA detached for defect repair).

                10th        Under air attacks.

                12th        Detached en arrival of JW64 at Kola Inlet.

                17th        Joined return Convoy RA64 with same ships as escort.

                                Convoy and escorts under U-Boat attacks en leaving Kola Inlet.

                                (Note: HM Sloop LARK was torpedoed during assembly and returned to Kola Inlet.

                                US mercantile THOMAS SCOTT) was torpedoed by same submarine and some

                                of her crew were embarked in HM Corvette BLUEBELL which was later sunk by U711

                                with only one survivor during passage of RA64.

                                For details see above references and HITLER'S U-BOAT WAR by C Blair.).

                25th        Detached and took passage to Greenock.

                                (Note: Weather conditions during passage of RA64 were extreme and mercantiles became

                                widely dispersed.

                                Several destroyers had structural damage and out of operational service for some time

                                which depleted Home Fleet destroyer strength. See above references.)



                12th        Sailed from Greenock with HM Destroyer SCORPION as escort for HM Escort Aircraft

                                Carrier CAMPANIA during passage to join Russian Convoy JW65.

                                Involved in collision with RFA BLACK RANGER during passage and sustained major damage

                                to bow structure.

                                Returned to Clyde escorted by HMS SCORPION.

                23rd        Under repair at Belfast.

                                (Note: Transferred from Clyde for completion of damage repair work.)


April                       Under repair.




June                        On completion of post repair trials rejoined Flotilla at Scapa Flow.

                7th          Passage to Kola Inlet arriving on 11th.

                14th        Sailed from Kola Inlet for Rosyth as escort for HM Destroyer CASSANDRA.

                                (Note: HMS CASSANDRA had been torpedoed during escort of RA62 en 11th December.

                                Repair at Murmansk included fitting temporary bow structure to enable this

                                destroyer to return to UK for permanent repair.)

                                After arrival at Rosyth took passage to Oslo for visit.



                9th          Arrived at Kiel for Guardship duties.

                                On relief took passage to join HM Cruisers BELLONA and DIADEM for attendance at

                                Victory Parade in Oslo which was reviewed by King Haakon.

                                Resumed Home Fleet Flotilla duties in Home Waters.,


August                  Home Fleet duties in continuation.


P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS ONSLAUGHT remained in commission after VJ Day and in September 1945 was deployed for training duties at Portsmouth Gunnery School, HMS EXCELLENT. In December she was detached to take part in Operation DEADLIGHT the destruction of surrendered U-Boats in NW Approaches. Between 1946 and 1949 she was used as a Submarine target ship in the Clyde. The ship paid off early in 1950 and put on the Disposal List. She was transferred to Pakistan on 3rd March 1951 and renamed PNS TUGHRIL. In 1957 the ship was converted for use as an Anti-Subrnarine Frigate and remained on the Active List until 1975. Two years later she was scrapped. The name was used again by the RN in September 1960 when given to a Royal Navy submarine.






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








PQ 017





QP 013





PQ 018





QP 014





QP 015





JW 052





RA 052





JW 053





RA 053





SC 123





HX 230





HX 234





SC 127





ONS 006





ON 182





HX 239





JW 054A





RA 054B





JW 055B





RA 055B





JW 057





RA 057





JW 062





RA 062





JW 064





RA 064





JW 065








(Note on Convoys)


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