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

HMS RAPID (H 32) -  R-class Destroyer
including Convoy Escort Movements 

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Rapid (Navy Photos/George Knight, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 


R-Class Fleet Destroyer ordered with 4th Emergency Flotilla from Cammell Laird at Birkenhead on 1st April 1940. Construction was delayed until September because of priority for repair work. The ship was laid down as Job No 1065 on 16th June 1941 and  launched on 16th July 1942 as the 8th RN ship to carry this name. It was introduced in 1804 and was last used for a WW1 built destroyer sold In 1927. Her build was completed in 1943 and she had been adopted by Sutton and Cheam in Surrey following a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in March 1942.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


ATLANTIC  1943 - SABANG 1944 - BURMA  1944-45


H e r a l d i c   D at a

Badge: on a Field Red Badge a wheel,  the axle tree winged Gold.



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 3


February        Contractors sea trials and commissioned for service in 11th Destroyer Flotilla.

     20th           Build completion and Acceptance sea trials.

                        Passage to Scapa Flow.


March             Worked up- for service with Home Fleet at Scapa Flow.


April                On completion prepared or foreign service.

                        Nominated for Atlantic convoy defence and detached for escort of military convoy during

                        Atlantic passage to Middle East.

     16th            Joined Convoy WS29 in Clyde with HM Cruiser NEWCASTLE as Ocean Escort.

     28th            Detached on arrival of WS29 at Freetown.


May                 Deployed at Freetown for convoy defence.

       6th             Joined WS29 on departure with HM Cruiser NEWCASTLE, HM Destroyers MALCOLM,

                         BOREAS, WOLVERINE and WITCH as escort during passage to Cape of Good Hope

     11th             Detached from WS29 with HMS MALCOLM and HMS WOLVERINE on arrival of

                         HM Destroyers RACEHORSE and RELENTLESS.

                         Returned to Freetown.



       3rd             Joined military convoy WS30 At Freetown with HM Cruiser SUFFOLK. HM Armed Merchant

                         Cruisers CARNARVON CASTLE and CORFU, HM Destroyers BOADICEA, WITCH and

                         WOLVERINE as escort during passage to Cape.

       9th             Detached from WS30 with HMS MALCOLM and HMS WOLVERINE during passage on

                         arrival of HM Destroyers NORMAN, QUADRANT and REDOUBT.

                         Returned to Freetown


July                  Atlantic convoy defence based at Freetown in continuation.

     12th             Joined escort for military convoy WS31 during passage from Freetown to Cape of Good Hope as

                         relief for HM Corvette ARMERIA, HM Destroyers FOXHOUND and and WITCH.

     21st             Detached from WS31 with HM Destroyers QUADRANT and REDOUBT on arrival at Cape.

                         Returned to Freetown.


August             Nominated for transfer to Durban for convoy defence in Indian Ocean.

     12th             Joined escort for military convoy WS32 during passage with HM Destroyers NORMAN,

                         QUIBERON and RELENTLESS as relief for HM Destroyers BEAGLE, BULLDOG and


     22nd            Detached from WS32 with escort on arrival at Durban after rail at Capetown.

     28th             Deployed with HM Cruiser HAWKINS, HM Destroyers NORMAN and QUIBERON as escort

                         for WS32 during passage from Durban in Indian Ocean to Bombay.



      3rd              Detached from WS32 with other escorts during passage after arrival of HM Cruiser EMERALD.

                         Returned to Durban for convoy defence with Flotilla.



     20th             Joined military convoy WS33 with HM Armed Merchant Cruiser CHITRAL, HM Frigates BANN,

                         TEVIOT and TRENT as escort for passage in Indian Ocean..

     26th             Detached from WS33 with escort on arrival at Kilindini.

     30th             Escorted troopship ss DUCHESS OF RICHMOND with HM Frigate TRENT during passage from

                         Kilindini to Aden.



         2nd           Detached from troopship with HMS TRENT on arrival off Aden.

                           Returned to Durban for convoy defence deployment


December         Nominated for service with Eastern Fleet based in Ceylon.

                           Indian Ocean Convoy defence deployment in continuation.


1 9 4 4


 January            Passage to Join 11th Destroyer for Fleet and convoy defence duties.

to                       Deployed for convoy defence end patrol In Indian Ocean with

March               Passage to Trincomalee for Fleet duties with Flotilla.


April                  Flotilla duties including exercises prior to Fleet operations in Indian Ocean





     10th                Deployed with  HM Destroyers QUILLIAM, QUALITY, RACEHORSE and RELENTLESS to

                            screen HM Aircraft Carrier ILLUSTRIOUS, HM Escort Aircraft Carrier ATHELING, .HM

                            Cruisers GAMBIA, CEYLON and PHOEBE as Force 60 during deception operation to suggest

                            that air attacks were to be made on Sabang

                            (Operation COUNCILLOR - See WAR WITH JAPAN)

     12th                Force 68 ships withdrew from area and left HM Submarine SURF to transmit wireless signal

                            traffic from flying off position

     13th                Returned to Trincomalee with Force 68 ships.



     22nd               Part of screen for HM Battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT, HM Battlecruiser

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

                            KENYA, .CEYLON and GAMBIA (RNZN) with HM Destroyers RELENTLESS,

                            ROTHERHAM, RACEHORSE and ROCKET during passage to Sabang

                            (Operation CRIMSON).

                            (Note: During BANQUET it was discovered that HMS HOWE could only maintain speed of 27

                                        knots instead the designed 28 knots  See WAR WITH JAPAN.).

      25th               Took part in bombardment of Sabang with Eastern Fleet ships.

                            (For details of naval activities In Indian Ocean see OPERATION PACIFIC by E Gray and

                            ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by C Barnett).



      19th               Deployed with HM Destroyers ROTHERHAM, RAIDER and ROCKET as screen for HMS

                            INDOMITABLE, HMS VICTORIOUS, HM Battleship HOWE, HMS CEYLON and HMS

                            KENYA as part of Force 64 during air attacks on airfield at Padang and photo-reconnaissance

                            over Sumatra (Operation BANQUET).

                            (Note: This was Intended as a diversion during US operations at Hollandia in New Guinea and

                                         also to provide air-sea rescue facilities. during US air attacks  on  NW Sumatra

                                         (Operation BOOMERANG).)

      22nd              Refuelled with other destroyers.

      23rd               Air operations postponed for 24 hours to allow HM Submarine SEA ROVER to get into position

                            for air-sea rescue duty.

      24th               Remained with screen during air operations.

                            (Note: During BANQUET it was discovered that HMS HOWE could only maintain speed of 27

                                        knots instead the designed 28 knots. See WAR WITH JAPAN.)

      25th               Return passage with Force 64 ships.



      14th                Deployed with HM Destroyers ROTHERHAM, REDOUBT,. ROCKET. RELENTLESS,

                             RAIDER., RACEHORSE and ROCKET as screen for HMS  INDOMITABLE, HMS

                             VICTORIOUS, HMS HOWE, HMS CUMBERLAND and HMS KENYA during air attacks on

                              airfields and photo-reconnaissance flights.

                              (Operation LIGHT - See WAR WITH JAPAN).

       17th                Planned air strikes over airfields and PR flights over Pangkalan cancelled due to weather

                              conditions (Operation LIGHT A)

                              PR Flights made over alternative areas in Northern Sumatra and Nicobars

        18th               Air strikes made en Sigli (Operation LIGHT B).

                              (Note: Mistakes and imperfections during these operations required attention.).

        19th               Return passage to Trincomalee.


October                 Flotilla duties in Eastern Fleet continued

to                            Remained part of East Indies Fleet when British Pacific Fleet formed from ships of Eastern

December              Fleet which was renamed in November.


1 9 4 5


January                  Transferred with Flotilla to newly designated East Indies Fleet

          2nd               Deployed with Force 61 covering landings at Akyab.

                                (Operation LIGHTNING).

        16th                Bombarded Japanese positions in northern Ramree Islands prior to assault by 4th British

                                and 71st Indian Divisions (Operation MATADOR).

                                (Note: Ships taking part: HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, HM Cruiser PHOEBE and destroyers

                                            of Flotilla.).

        24th                 Part of Force 65 as screen for HM Cruisers NEWCASTLE, NIGERIA and KENYA to cover

                                landing of Royal Marines on Cheduba Island (Operation SANKEY).

        25th                 Took part in bombardment of assault area with HM Destroyers RAIDER and PALADIN

                                before landings.



        21st                 Carried cut offensive sweep in Indian Ocean with HM Destroyers ROEBUCK, ROCKET and

                                ROTHERHAM) as Force 68.

                                (Operations SUFFICE and TRAINING).

        24th                 Bombardment of Great Cocos Island with ships of Force 68.

        25th                 Passage to Akyab.

        27th                 Carried out inshore patrols off coast of Burma (Operation TRAINING).



          1st                   During patrol between Tavoy Island and Heanzay Basin Force 68 ships  sank three sailing


          3rd                   Took part in bombardment of Port Blair, Andamans with ships of Force 68.

          4th                   Return passage to Trincomalee with Force 68.

        14th                   Deployed with HM Destroyers SAUMAREZ and VOLAGE for patrol.

                                  Bombarded shore targets at Sigli, Sumatra (Operation TRANSPORT).

                                   (For details see above references and Naval Staff History –Burma.)

        19th                   Entered Stewart Sound on SB (??) coast of north Andaman with HMS SAUMAREZ

                                  and VOLAGE.

                                  Sank Junk but hit by return fire from shore battery and disabled,

                                  Heavy casualties with 11 killed and 23 wounded.

                                  Towed to Akyab by HMS SAUMAREZ for temporary repair.

        20th                   Under repair at Akyab. Assistance provided by HM Cruiser SUFFOLK.


April                          On  return to Trincomalee further repair was arranged at Simonstown.

                                   Passage to HM Dockyard, Simonstown


May                           Under repair.




August                      Passage to Trincomalee to resume duties in Eastern Fleet


 September                Deployed with Flotilla in support of landings in Malaya.

                                   (Operation ZIPPER – See WAR WITH JAPAN and BRITISH INVASION

                                   FLEETS by J de Winser)

                                   (Note: These landings had been delayed by US insistence and introduction of PYTHON

                                                Scheme for release of personnel; serving in SEAC

                                                See above references and Final Report by SEAC.)

         4th                     Sailed from Trincomalee with aircraft carriers for defence of invasion convoys

         6th                     Deployed with escort for military Convoy JME1F.

         9th                     Deployed off beachhead.






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








ST 063A





TS 040F





MC 009A





CM 046





CM 046A





AB 020F





AB 020S





JC 028A





AB 024A





CM 052





KR 010








(Note on Convoys)




by Ron Anderson


I served in RAPID in the early 1950s. The Captain was Lt Cdr 'Dickie' Dumas RN - a fine seaman. I was a mere Signalman.


I had served for a short time in HMS OPPORTUNE - having joined her in June 1950, at Milford Haven where she had been engaged, for some time, with Naval Air Stations in the West Country. We sailed to Rosyth where, at the end of July 1950, the full Ship's Company of HMS OPPORTUNE exchanged place with the complement of HMS RAPID. Of course, RAPID changed her Port Division too and became a 'Pompey' ship. HMS OPPORTUNE transferred to Chatham Port Division.

From that moment, RAPID was used as Crash boat for various Naval Air Stations and carriers. She operated largely out of Invergordon, Rosyth and the bleak but beautiful Dornoch Firth. Various Air Stations were 'serviced', and RAPID worked as 'Crash Boat' for HMS INDOMITABLE, HMS ILLUSTRIOUS and, also, HMAS SYDNEY. (RAPID took part in the first 'landing exercises on a Carrier', with a jet-engined 'plane. These 'tests' were 'shambolic'!!) Finally, she went to Belfast, where she repaired some extensive damage due to traversing the Pentlands and Cape Wrath in atrocious conditions (in company with a carrier) and sailed to Gibraltar where she conducted exercises with NATO ships in the Med. HMS RAPID returned to Pompey and, in about April, she was decommissioned and I was drafted to the 4th Minesweeping Flotilla in RINALDO - the half-leader. I understand RAPID was re-fitted and adapted as an Anti-submarine Frigate and, thereafter, led another useful life.


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