Naval History Homepage - and Site Search




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

HMS RACEHORSE (H 11) -  R-class Destroyer including Convoy Escort Movements 

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Rocket ,sister-ship (Navy Photos, Mark Teadham, click to enlarge)

return to Contents List 


R-Class Fleet Destroyer ordered with 4th Emergency Flotilla from John Brown, Clydebank in April 1940. Construction work was delayed until September because of priority for repair work in ships damaged earlier that year in Norway and at Dunkirk. The ship was launched on 1st June 1942 as the 11th RN ship to carry the name which was introduced in 1757 and last used by a pre WW1 destroyer sold in 1920. Build was completed in November 1942. After a successful WARSHIP WEEK for National Savings in March 1942 she had been 'adopted' by the civil community of Hackney, Greater London.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


QUEBEC  1759 - MADAGASCAR   1811 - NEW ZEALAND  1845-47 - CHINA  1856 - SATSUMA  1862 - KAGOSHIMA  1863-60 - DOVER PATROL  1914-18 - ATLANTIC  1943 - SABANG  1944  - BURMA  1945


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field White a chestnut horse standant proper with

White bridle, Pink forehead strap and Blue riband.



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


November   Acceptance Trials and commissioned for service in 18th Destroyer Flotilla


December   Worked up with Home Fleet at Scapa Flow.

       26th      Detached to escort HM Aircraft Carrier VICTORIOUS with HM Destroyers QUICKMATCH

                    and REDOUBT for Atlantic passage to join US Fleet. in Pacific.


1 9 4 3



         1st      Detached from HMS VICTORIOUS after stormy passage in Atlantic during which damage

                    was sustained to structure including boats.

                    On completion of repair at Newport News US Navy Yard took passage to join a Tanker

                    convoy as part of escort during passage to Gibraltar.

                    Nominated for service in Indian Ocean with Flotilla as part of Eastern Fleet.

                    Deployed in Atlantic for convoy defence.

       31st      Joined military convoy WS26 on passage from Gibraltar area to Freetown with HM Destroyers

                    QUALITY QUIBERON, QUICKMATCH and REDOUBT to supplement Ocean Escort for

                    passage to Freetown.



          6th     Detached from WS26 with Ocean Escort on arrival at Freetown.

          9th     Rejoined WS26 as Ocean Escort for passage to Indian Ocean with HM Armed Merchant

                    Cruisers CANTON and CILICIA, HM Destroyers QUIBERON, QUICKMATCH and


         23rd    Detached from WS26 in Indian Ocean after ships from Capetown joined convoy.


March          Deployed for convoy defence in Indian Ocean and South Atlantic.

        24th     Joined military convoy WS27 with HM Destroyers FOXHOUND and QUILLIAM to relieve

                    HM Destroyers QUAIL, QUALITY and RAIDER as Ocean Escort for passage to Capetown.

                    (Note: HM Cruiser SUSSEX was also part of Ocean Escort.)

        26th     Detached from WS27 on arrival off Capetown.


April            Passage from Capetown to join military convoy WS28 in Atlantic.

          5th      Joined WS28 during passage from Freetown to Capetown with HM Destroyer RELENTLESS

                     as relief for HM Destroyers QUADRANT and REDOUBT in Ocean Escort.

                     (Note: HM Cruiser KENYA was also deployed in Ocean Escort.)

        11th      Detached from WS28 on arrival at Capetown and relieved by HM Destroyers QUADRANT,

                     REDOUBT and RELENTLESS as Ocean Escort during passage to Durban


May              Convoy defence in continuation.

                      Passage to join military convoy WS29 in South Atlantic.

       11th        Joined WS29 with HM Destroyers RELENTLESS and ROTHERHAM for Ocean Escort

                      during passage to Durban

                      (Note: HM Cruiser NEWCASTLE and HM Destroyer LEWES were part of the Ocean Escort.)

       18th        Detached from WS29 with HMS RELENTLESS an arrival at Capetown.

        22nd      Rejoined WS29 with HMS RELENTLESS and HMS ROTHERHAM as Ocean Escort for

                      passage to Durban.

        26th       Remained with WS29 off Durban and after additional mercantiles joined deployed as Ocean

                      Escort with HM Cruiser KENYA, HM Destroyers NORMAN, QUADRANT, REDOUBT.

        29th       Detached from WS29 and returned to Durban.



        24th       Deployed with M Destroyers NIZAM and RELENTLESS as screen for HM Cruisers SUFFOLK

                       and NEWCASTLE during search for German tanker CHARLOTTE SCHLIEMANN  known to be in

                       use for replenishment of U-Boats operating In the Indian Ocean.

                      (Operation PLAYER - See WAR WITH JAPAN, HMSO).)

        30th        Search abandoned after no interception or sighting by CATALINA aircraft or ships.


July               Resumed deployment at Durban for Indian Ocean convoy defence and patrol.

to                   Nominated for transfer to Trincomalee



December     Passage to Trincomalee to Join Eastern Fleet.

                      Deployed at Trincomalee for screening of major units and convoy defence.

                      (Note: This deployment may have been early in 1944)


1 9 4 4


January          Deployed with Flotilla in India for convoy defence patrol and the interception of enemy

to                    supply ships and blockade runners.

February        (Note: See December 1943)


March            Deployed for Fleet duties.

        21st        Deployed with HM Destroyers NAPIER RAN), NORMAN (RAN), NEPAL (RAN)


                      Dutch VAN GALEN and Dutch TJERK HIDDES as screen for HM Battleships

                      QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT, HM Battlecruiser RENOWN, HM Aircraft

                      Carrier ILLUSTRIOUS, HM Cruisers LONDON, CUMBERLAND, GAMBIA (RNZN)

                      and CEYLON for shipping protection and exercises.

                      (Note: Air searches and provision of radar pickets were exercised.

                                   For details of see WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO).)

        27th       Carried out Fleet exercises after Eastern Fleet units met

        to           US Task Group 58.5 for loan service.

        29th       Returned with RN and USN ships to Trincomalee.

                      (Note: Task Group comprised aircraft carrier USS SARATOGA and destroyers USS

                                   DUNLAP, CUMMINGS and FANNING.)

April              Deployed with Eastern Fleet as part of Force 69 for a diversionary operation off

                       Sumatra and the Nicobar-Andaman area during allied operations in New Guinea.

        16th        Joined HM Destroyers ROTHERHAM, PENN, PETARD, QUIBERON (RAN),

                       NAPIER (RAN), NEPAL (RAN), NIZAM (RAN) and the Dutch destroyer VAN

                       GALEN as screen for HM Battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH, VALIANT and

                       French RICHELIEU, HM Cruisers CEYLON, NIGERIA, GAMBIA (RNZN),

                       NEWCASTLE and Dutch cruiser TROMP as Force 69.

                       (Operation COCKPIT).

                               (Note: These Eastern Fleet ships were providing cover for air operations against

                                   Sabang, NW Sumatra by Force 70 comprising HM Aircraft Carrier

                                   ILLUSTRIOUS, USS SARATOGA, HMS RENOWN, HM Cruiser LONDON,

                                   HM Destroyers QUILLIAM, QUEENBOROUGH, QUADRANT, USS DUNLAP

                                   USS CUMMINGS and USS FANNING)

                                   For details see the above references.

        19th        Deployed with screen for Force 70 during air attacks on Sabang and airfield at Lho Nga.

                       Three Japanese torpedo aircraft were destroyed in an attempt to approach allied units after

                       the air operations.


May                Fleet deployment in continuation.

          6th        Joined HM Destroyers ROTHERHAM, PENN, NAPIER (RAN), NEPAL (RAN),

                       QUIBERON (RAN) and QUICKMATCH (RAN) with the Dutch destroyer VAN

                       GALEN in Force 65)

                       Sailed as the screen for battleships HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, HMS VALIANT

                       HMS RENOWN and French RICHELIEU, HM Cruiser KENYA and the Dutch


                       (Note: These major units were covering HMS ILLUSTRIOUS and USS

                                    SARATOGA, HMNZS GAMBIA, HMS CEYLON as Force 66, screened by HM

                                    Destroyers QUADRANT, QUEENBOROUGH and QUILLIAM, USS DUNLAP,

                                    CUMMINGS and FANNING during air attacks on Soerabaya.

                                    (Operation TRANSOM).

        15th        Replenished in Exmouth Bay, NW Australia from Force 67

                       (Note: This comprised Six tankers and a Distilling ship escorted from Ceylon by HM

                                    Cruisers LONDON and SUFFOLK.)

        17th       Air attacks carried out on oil refineries and harbour installations.

        18th       USS SARATOGA and US destroyers from TF66 detached.

        27th       Returned to Ceylon after refuelling in Exmouth Bay.



        10th        Deployed with HM Destroyers QUILLIAM, QUALITY, RAPID and

                        RELENTLESS, HM Cruisers GAMBIA (RNZN), CEYLON, PHOEBE and HM

                        Submarine SURF to cover HMS ILLUSTRIOUS and HM Escort Aircraft

                        Carrier ATHELING for special operation to threaten an attack by

                        carrier aircraft on Sabang

                        (Operation COUNCILLOR).

        13th        Returned to Trincomalee.

                        (Note: No enemy reactions were detected. See WAR WITH JAPAN.).

        19th        Deployed with HM Destroyers QUILLIAM, QUALITY, QUICKMATCH, ROTHERHAM,

                        RELENTLESS, ROEBUCK and RAIDER as screen for HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, HMS

                        RENOWN, French RICHELIEU, HM Cruisers NIGERIA and CEYLON in Force 60 during

                        air attacks on Port Blair.

                        (Operation PEDAL - For details see above reference.)

                        (Note: HM Submarines TANTIVY and CLYDE for air sea-rescue duties.


July                 Eastern Fleet deployment in continuation.

          8th        Carried out hunt with HMS RAIDER for 1537.

                        (Note: This submarine was on passage from Penang having delivered torpedoes and carried out

                                    an attack on a tanker which failed. This hunt lasted several days but was unsuccessful.)

         22nd       Joined HM Destroyers RELENTLESS, ROTHERHAM, ROCKET and RAPID as

                        screen for HM Battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT, HM Battlecruiser

                        RENOWN, French battleship RICHELIEU, HM Cruisers CUMBERLAND, NIGERIA,

                        KENYA, CEYLON, GAMBIA (RNZN), PHOEBE and Dutch TROMP during bombardment

                        of Sabang, Sumatra as Force 62.

                        (Operation CRIMSON - See above references).

                        (Note: HM Aircraft Carriers ILLUSTRIOUS and VICTORIOUS were also deployed for air

                                     attacks on airfields and to provide air cover during bombardment.)

          24th       Aircraft carriers detached with HMS PHOEBE, HMS ROEBUCK and HMS RAIDER to

                        take passage to Flying-off area.

         25th       Bombarded shore targets.


August            Fleet duties with Flotilla in continuation.



         16th        Deployed with HM Destroyers ROTHERHAM, REDOUBT, RAPID, ROCKET, RELENTLESS

                        and RAIDER as screen for HM Aircraft Carriers VICTORIOUS, INDOMITABLE., HM

                        Battleship HOWE HM Cruisers CUMBERLAND and KENYA during air strikes and

                        photo-reconnaissance. (Operation LIGHT)

         17th        Planned strikes against airfields cancelled due to weather conditions.

                        Photo-reconnaissance flights carried out on northern Sumatra (Operation LIGHT A).

         18th        Air strikes carried out on targets at Sigli, Sumatra (Operation LIGHT B)

                        On completion returned with Fleet units to Trincomalee.


October           Fleet deployment with Flotilla in continuation.




1 9 4 5


January          Eastern Fleet screen and patrol duties with Flotilla in continuation.

to                   (Note: Ships of Flotilla went to Simonstown for refit and R&R prior to planned operations by

March                        newly identified East Indies Fleet in support of landings in Burma and Malaya.



           1st       Deployed with HM Destroyers ROTHERHAM, REDOUBT and ROCKET for

                       shipping sweep off Burma coast between Mergui and Amherst and for investigation

                       of possible use of Narcondan Island as a base for MTB's (Operation PENZANCE)

.          4th       Bombarded radar station on Great Coco Island.

           5th       Returned to Akyab to refuel.

           7th       Sailed with same ships for anti-shipping sweep between Moulmein River and Mergui

                       on Coast of Burma. Several small sailing craft destroyed.

         11th       Return passage to Trincomalee.

         25th       Deployed with HM Destroyers REDOUBT and ROEBUCK as Force 62 for offensive

                       patrols in Indian Ocean during allied landings in Burma

                       (Operation GABLE).

         29th       Commenced operation to intercept craft between Rangoon and Tenasserim coast.

         30th       Intercepted convoy evacuating troops from Rangoon and destroyed all 11 ships.

                       Bombarded Car Nicobar and Port Blair



          1st         Bombarded Car Nicobar.

                        Rescued survivors from Japanese convoy destroyed on 30th April.

                        (Note: Some Japanese refused assistance and committed ‘Hari-Kari')

                                     See OPERATION PACIFIC).

        10th         Deployed as screen for HM Cruiser NIGERIA with HMS REDOUBT and HMS ROEBUCK

                        as Task Force 62 to reinforce Eastern Fleet during operation to intercept warships which

                        were covering evacuation of Andamans and Nicobars.

                        (Operation DUKEDOM - See above references.)

                        (Note: After a brilliant tactical interception, HM Destroyers SAUMAREZ, VERULAM,

                                     VIGILANT, VENUS and VIRAGO (Task Unit 61.3) engaged and sank the Japanese

                                     Cruiser HAGURO (See Naval Staff History and ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE

                                     CLOSELY by C Barnett).


June                 Deployed with HM Destroyers ROTHERHAM, RELENTLESS, REDOUBT and

                         ROEBUCK as screen for Force 63 (HM Escort Carriers STALKER, KHEDIVE and

                         AMEER, HM Cruisers SUFFOLK and ROYALIST).

        18th         Carrier aircraft carried out photo-reconnaissance missions over Southern Malaya and

         to            attacked airfields in Northern Sumatra.

        19th         (Operation BALSAM)


July                 Fleet duties with Flotilla in continuation.

        19th         Joined HM Battleship NELSON, HM Cruiser SUSSEX, HM Escort Carrier EMPRESS

                        with HM Destroyers ROTHERHAM, PALADIN and RAIDER to cover mine clearance

                        by the 7th Minesweeping Flotilla off Phuket Island as Force 63 (Operation LIVERY).

         24th        Mine clearance commenced.

                        (Note: HM Minesweeper SQUIRREL badly damaged by mine. seven of ship's company

                                    were killed. Minesweeper had to be sunk after taking on heavy list.

         26th        Under attack by Japanese suicide dive-bombers.

                        HM Minesweeper VESTAL was hit and badly damaged by fire. Eleven of snip's company


                        Sank HMS VESTAL by gunfire.

                        On completion of clearance operation returned to Trincomalee.

                        (Note: This was the last offensive operation by ships of the Eastern Fleet).


August           Deployed with Fleet at Trincomalee and prepared for Malaya landings.

                        (Operation ZIPPER)

                        (Note: This operation had been delayed initially by the introduction of the PYTHON

                                    Scheme to release personnel serving in the Far East and later was again

                                    postponed by US insistence.)

                                    See Final Report by SEAC and THE FORG0TTEN FLEET by John Winton.)

                         Deployed with Eastern Fleet for screening duties during passage to Padang.


September        Fleet screening duties in continuation.

                         Part of covering force during landings in Malaya.

                         Deployed with Eastern Fleet ships at Singapore for Japanese surrender.

.                        (Operation MAILFIST)


P o s t  W a r   N o t e


HMS RACEHORSE returned to UK after the occupation of Singapore and was reduced to Reserve status at Portsmouth. Laid up at Portsmouth she was selected for use as a ship target in trials at Gareloch. On completion in 1949 the ship was placed on the Disposal List and sold to The West of Scotland Shipbreakers on 8th November 1949. The ship arrived in tow at Troon for demolition In on 8th December that year.


Special Note


Details of escorts for WS Series military convoys were provided by Donald Kindell, Ohio, USA from an unpublished source. This is gratefully acknowledged.






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








TMF 002





MC 007





MC 008





KR 006





BA 048





CM 048





BA 062A





AKD 017F





AJ 002/2





OW 001/2





WO 006








(Note on Convoys)


back to Contents List
or Naval-History.Net

revised 7/8/11
further editing and formatting is required


if any ads offend, please contact Naval-History.Net