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

HMS RELENTLESS (H 85) -  R-class Destroyer including Convoy Escort Movements 

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Raider, sister-ship (Navy Photos, click to enlarge)

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ROTHERHAM-Class Fleet Destroyer ordered with 4th Emergency Flotilla from Fairfield Shipbuilders at Govan in May 1940. The build order was transferred to John Brown of Clydebank and construction was delayed due to the high priority being given to repair of ships damaged during operations in Norway and evacuation of troops from Channel ports. She was laid down on 20th June 1941 and launched on 15th July 1942 as the 2nd RN ship to carry this name. It had previously been used for a WW1 destroyer sold in 1926. Following a successful WARSHIP WEEK for National Savings in March 1942 she had been adopted by the London Borough of Fulham. Build was completed on 30th November 1942.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r




H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field Blue a trident Gold and a

sword inflamed proper in saltire.



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              Contractor's sea trials and commissioned for service in 11th Destroyer Flotilla.
                30th        Accepted into service.


December              Worked up at Scapa Flow with Home Fleet.


MONTROSE and Polish ORP PIORUN as screen for HM Battleships KING

                                GEORGE V and HOWE, HM Cruisers KENT, BERWICK and BERMUDA during

                                provision of cover for passage of Convoy RA51 from Kola Inlet to UK.


1 9 4 3


January                  Deployed with Home Fleet and prepared for foreign service.

                                Nominated for escort of military convoy WS26 and took passage to Greenock.

                23rd        Joined WS26 in Clyde with HM Armed Merchant Cruiser CANTON and CICILIA

                                and HM Destroyer QUADRANT as Ocean Escort during passage to Freetown..

(Note: There had been an increased sinking by submarine attacks in this area).



                6th          Detached from WS26 on arrival at Freetown.

                14th        Rejoined WS26 during passage to South Africa from Freetown as Escort to Durban.

                25th        Detached from W326 on arrival at Durban.


March                    Passage to join military convoy.

                1st           Rejoined WS26 as escort with HM Destroyers BLACKMORE and CATTERICK,

.                               HM Indian Minesweeper CARNATIC and Local Escort for passage in Indian Ocean

                                from Durban covered by HM Cruisers CERES and BIRMINGHAM.

                4th          Detached from WS26 and took passage to reinforce escort of Convoy DN21 with

                                HM Destroyer QUIBERON. Under attack by U160.

                                See WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO) and HITLER'S U-BOAT WAR by C Blair


April                       Deployed for convoy defence In South Atlantic and Indian Ocean.

 (Note: Destroyers of Eastern Fleet were detached for service In South Atlantic

 Command because of the Increase in U-Boat activity. See above references.)

                5th          Joined HM Cruiser KENYA, HM Destroyers QUADRANT and REDOUBT with

                                HM Destroyer RACEHORSE to reinforce Ocean Escort of military convoy WS28

                                during passage from Freetown to Cape of Good Hope.

                15th        Rejoined WS28 on sailing from Capetown with HM Destroyers REDOUBT and

                                QUADRANT as escort during passage to Durban.

                .20th       Detached from WS28 with HMS REDOUBT covered by HM Cruiser KENYA.

                                (Note: Safe passage of military convoys to support operations in Egypt and Burma

                                were accorded priority for deployment of naval resources).


                May        Passage to South Atlantic for escort of military convoy US29 during

                                passage from Freetown to Cape of Good Hope.

                11th        Joined HM Cruiser NEWCASTLE and HM Destroyer LEWES with

                                HM Destroyer RACEHORSE in escort of WS29. during passage to


                18th        Detached from WS29 with HMS RACEHORSE on arrival at Capetown.

                22nd       Joined part of WS26 on sailing from Capetown with HM Destroyers

                                RACEHORSE and ROTHERHAM as escort for passage to Durban.

                26th        Detached from WS29 with HMS RACEHORSE and HMS ROTHERHAM.


June                        Deployed with ships of Flotilla for convoy defence and interception patrols in

                                Indian Ocean.

                24th        Joined HM Cruisers SUFFOLK and NEWCASTLE with HM Destroyers

                                NIZAM and RACEHORSE in search for German U-Boat supply tanker

                                CHARLOTTE SCHLIEMANN reported to be on passage in Indian

                                Ocean for replenishment of submarines.

                                 (Operation FLAYER. See WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO).)

                30th        Search abandoned after no sighting was made of German ship.


July                         Indian Ocean deployment in continuation.


August                  Passage to Join military convoy WS32 in South Atlantic during passage

                                to Cape of Good Hope from Freetown.

                12th        Joined HM Frigates DERG, KALE and TAY with HM Destroyers

                                NORMAN, QUIBERON and RAPID as escort for WS32 to Capetown.

                18th        Detached from WS32 on arrival at Capetown and resumed Flotilla duties


September             Convoy defence in South Atlantic and Indian Ocean in continuation.

to                            Transferred to Ceylon for service with Eastern Fleet.

December              Passage to Colombo for Fleet duties.

                                Convoy defence deployment in continuation.


1 9 4 4


January                  Deployed in Indian Ocean for patrol and convoy defence duties.


February                Joined HM Cruiser NEWCASTLE in search for U-Boat supply ship in

                                conjunction with Catalina aircraft based in Mauritius.

                12th        Intercepted German supply ship CHARLOTTE SCHLIEMANN after

                                aircraft sighting.

                                German ship engaged with main armament and scuttled on approach

                                (Note: This tanker had been supporting U-Boats of the MONSUN

                                Group which were based at Penang.

                                HITLER'S U-BOAT WAR records rescue of survivors.).


March                    11th Destroyer Flotilla comprising HM Destroyers ROTHERHAM,

to                            RACEHORSE, RELENTLESS, RAIDER, RAPID, REDOUBT,

May                        ROCKET and ROEBUCK deployed in Indian Ocean.

                                Fleet duties with Convoy defence and interception patrol in continuation.


                10th        Deployed with HM Destroyers QUILLIAM, QUALITY, RACEHORSE,
                                REDOUBT and RAPID for screening of HM Aircraft Carrier
                                ILLUSTRIOUS, HM Escort Aircraft Carrier ATHELING, HM Cruisers
                                GAMBIA (RNZN), CEYLON and PHOEBE as Force 68.
                                (Operation COUNCILLOR).
                                (Note: This was a deception operation intended to threaten attacks
                                on Sabang, Sumatra by carrier aircraft.).



                11th        Operation cancelled except for deployment of HM Submarine SURF to
                                transmit wireless signals from flying off position to simulate continuation
                                of operation.

                12th        Return passage to Ceylon with Force 68.

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

                                ROTHERHAM, RAIDER, RACEHORSE and ROEBUCK as screen for

                                HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, HM Battlecruiser RENOWN, French battleship

                                RICHELIEU, HM Cruisers NIGERIA, KENYA and CEYLON as Force 60

                                during air attacks on Port Blair, Andamans.

                                (Operation PEDAL).

                21st         On completion returned to Ceylon with Force 60.

                                See following references.


July                         Deployed with Flotilla for Fleet screening and patrol duties in Indian Ocean

22nd       Joined HM Battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT, HM

                                Battlecruiser RENOWN, French battleship RICHELIEU, HM Cruisers

                                CUMBERLAND, NIGERIA, KENYA, CEYLON, PHOEBE, GAMBIA

                                and Dutch cruiser TROMP as screen with HM Destroyers ROTHERHAM,

                                RACEHORSE, ROCKET and RAPID.

                                (Operation CRIMSON - For details see OPERATION PACIFIC by Edwyn

                                Gray and WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO).

                                (Note: This Eastern Fleet operation included air operations by carriers and a

                                bombardment of targets at Sabang, Sumatra

                25th        Part of screen for Eastern Fleet units during carrier operations.

                                Took part in bombardment with Eastern Fleet ships on completion of air attacks.


August                  Deployed with Flotilla for screening duties and convoy defence in Indian Ocean.

                                (Note: Did not take part in screening of major ships during Operation


                14th        Deployed with HM Destroyers ROTHERHAM, RAPID, REDOUBT, ROCKET,

                                RACEHORSE and RAIDER as screen for HM Aircraft Carriers INDOMITABLE

                                and VICTORIOUS, HM Battleship HOWE, HM Cruisers CUMBERLAND

                                and KENYA during planned photo-reconnaissance flights and air strikes.

                                (Operation LIGHT)

                17th        Photo-reconnaissance flights over Pangkalan and air strikes on airfields cancelled

                                due to adverse weather conditions.

                                (Operation LIGHT A)

                18th        Deployed as screen during flights over northern Sumatra and strikes at Sigli.

                                (Operation LIGHT B. See WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO.)

                19th        Returned to Ceylon with Eastern Fleet major ships.



                15th        Deployed with HM Destroyers RAIDER, NORMAN (RAN) and Dutch destroyer

                                VAN GALEN as screen for HM Cruisers LONDON, CUMBERLAND and

                                SUFFOLK in Group 2 of Force 63.

                                (Operation MILLET - Eastern Fleet diversion during US landings on Leyte).

                                (Note: Force 63 included HMS RENOWN to provide cover during air operations

                                by HMS INDOMITABLE and HMS ILLUSTRIOUS in the Nicobar


                                For details see above references).

                17th        Carried out bombardment of shore targets In the Nicobar Islands with other ships

                                of Group 2.

                19th        Retaliatory attacks by Japanese aircraft repelled by the carrier aircraft.


November              Flotilla deployment with Eastern Fleet In continuation.




1 9 4 5


January                  Eastern Fleet deployment in continuation.

to                            (Note: As no Battle Honour BURMA was awarded it my be presumed that she

May                        played no significant part in support of XIV Army operations in Arakan.

                                She may have continued convoy defence duties in this period.


June                        Nominated for duty In Force 63 for screening duties with Flotilla.

                18th        Deployed with HM Destroyers REDOUBT, ROEBUCK and RACEHORSE as

                to            destroyer screen for 21st Aircraft Carrier Squadron during photo-reconnaissance

                20th        flights over south Malaya and air attacks on airfields and railway targets in

                                Sumatra (Operation BALSAM)

                                (Note: Squadron comprised HM Cruisers ROYALIST and SUFFOLK, HM

                                Escort Carriers AMEER, KHEDIVE and STALKER).


July                         Eastern Fleet duties with Flotilla in continuation.


August                  Deployed with Eastern Fleet In support of planned landings at Port Swettenham.

                                (Operation ZIPPER).

                                (Note: This operation was delayed for various reasons including pressure from

                                the USA and the Implementation of the release programme for

                                servicemen in the Far East.

                                See THE FORGOTTEN FLEET BY J Winton, OPERATION PACIFIC,

                                The Naval Staff History and Final Report of Supreme Commander SEAC



September             Deployed in support of landings In Malaya with ships of Flotilla.

                8th          Sailed from Penang for Singapore with HMS NELSON.

                                At Singapore during formal surrender.

                                On release from ZIPPER returned to Trincomalee with ships of Flotilla


P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS RELENTLESS took passage to return to UK in October 1945. She paid off into Reserve at Chatham on arrival in November. The ship was laid up in the Chatham Reserve Fleet until 1947 when she was transferred to Harwich. This destroyer and sister ship HMS ROCKET were selected to be prototypes for conversion to an Anti-submarine Frigates by Royal dockyards in 1949. The ship was towed to HM Dockyard Portsmouth for conversion to a Type 15 Frigate as part of a modernisation programme. The upper deck structure was completely redesigned and two anti-submarine mortars with new design ASDIC (Sonar) outfit ware fitted. After the ship re-commissioning in July 1951 she served in the 3rd Training Flotilla and attended the Coronation Review in June 1953. She was involved in collision with m Frigate VIGILANT off the west coast of Scotland in October 1954. When repaired by Scotts at Greenock she was placed in Reserve at Chatham. The ship remained in Reserve although refitted to maintain her availability. She re-commissioned on 27th June 1964 for service in the 29th Escort Squadron and later transferred to the 26th Escort Squadron. Paid off in 1968 she was laid up at Portsmouth. In 1970 after being placed on the Disposal List this warship was sold to J W Ward on 29th April 1971 and towed to Inverkeithing in June that year for demolition.






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








KMF 008





CM 045





AB 015A





MB 050





BA 051





KR 009





CM 051A





AKD 021





CM 053





CM 053B





HB 001





WO 001





OW 005/2








(Note on Convoys)


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