V-Class destroyer ordered from Swan Hunter at Wallsend with the 8th Emergency Flotilla on 1st September 1941. She was laid
down on 31st January 1942 and launched on 22nd December 1942 as the 19th RN
warship to carry this name, introduced for a Prize taken in 1743 and previously
used for a WW2 hired trawler until 1943. She had been adopted by the civil
community of Launceston in Cornwall after a successful WARSHIP WEEK
National Savings campaign in March 1942. The build was completed on 10th
September 1943 and included protection for Arctic service.
B a t t l e H o n o u r s
USHANT 1778 - GRENADA 1779 - ARCTIC 1943-44 - NORMANDY 1944 - MALAYA 1945 - BURMA 1945.
H e r a l d i c D a t a
Badge: On a Field Blue, a
dragon gardant Gold.
D e t a i l s o f
W a r S e r v i c e
(for more ship information,
Naval History Homepage
and type name in Site Search)
1 9 4 3
Contractor's sea trials and commissioning for serve in 26th Destroyer
Flotilla, Home Fleet.
10th Build completion and
commenced Acceptance Trials.
Passage to Scapa
Flow on completion of trials and storing.
Worked-up for service with ships of Home Fleet at Scapa Flow.
with HAIDA (RCN), IROQUOIS (RCN), HARDY and JANUS for
passage to Spitsbergen with
relief garrison (Operation GEARBOX Series).
On completion of work-up deployed with Flotilla in NW Approaches for
23rd Joined Ocean Escort for Russian Convoy
JW 54B with HM Destroyers HARDY, SAVAGE,
SCORPION, SCOURGE, VENUS and Norwegian STORD.
(For details of
all Russian Convoy operations see CONVOYS TO RUSSIA by RA Ruegg
ARCTIC CONVOYS by
R Woodhead, CONVOY ! by P Kemp and THE RUSSIAN
CONVOYS by B.
3rd Detached from JW54B
after unscathed passage.
passage to Scapa Flow with other destroyers of escort.
On arrival resumed
Home Fleet duties with Flotilla.
1 9 4 4
Home Fleet Flotilla duties in NW Approaches in continuation.
21st Joined escort for
Russian Convoy JW56A at Akureyi with HM Destroyers OBDURATE,
INCONSTANT, SAVAGE, VENUS, VIRAGO and Norwegian destroyer
28th On arrival at Kola
Inlet despatched to join escort for following Convoy JW56B.
(Note: HMS OBDURATE was
hit by torpedo during defence of JW56A and taken in hand
temporary repair in Murmansk).
29th Reinforced escort for
3rd Joined escort for returning Convoy
RA56 at Kola Inlet with Home Fleet ships.
7th Detached from RA56
with HM Destroyers OFFA, OPPORTUNE,
SAVAGE and VENUS
22nd Joined Russian Convoy
JW57 with HM Cruiser BLACK PRINCE, HM Destroyers
MATCHLESS, MILNE, OBEDIENT, OFFA, ONSLAUGHT,
SERAPIS, SWIFT and VERULAM to supplement Close Escort during
passage to Kola Inlet.
U-Boat attacks on 25th February HMS MAHRATTA was hit by torpedo
U956 and sank immediately with only two survivors).
28th Detached from JW58
2nd Part of destroyer
escort for return Convoy RA58 with HM Destroyer INCONSTANT and
JW58 (except HMS MAHRATTA).
8th Detached from RA58
with HM Destroyers MATCHLESS, MILNE, OFFA, ONSLAUGHT,
ORIBI, SAVAGE and
SERAPIS before arrival of convoy at Loch Ewe.
Fleet duties with Flotilla.
3rd Part of screen for HM Battleship
ANSON, HM Aircraft Carrier VICTORIOUS HM Escort
SEARCHER, EMPEROR. PURSUER , FENCER, HM Cruisers
BELFAST, SHEFFIELD and JAMAICA with HM Destroyers MILNE, URSA,
VERULAM, METEOR, UNDAUNTED, VIRAGO, SWIFT, JAVELIN,
ALGONQUIN (RCN), SIOUX (RCN) and Polish destroyer PIORUN during air
attacks on German battleship
TUNGSTEN - See CONVOY 1 for details).
duty in Support Force J during Normandy landings with HMCS SIOUX, HMCS
KEMPENFELT and HMS VENUS of 27th Destroyer Flotilla.
NEPTUNE - See OPERATION NEPTUNE by K Edwards and NORMANDY
1944 (HMSO) for details).
May Passage to Channel for
Destroyers FAULKNOR, FURY, BLEASDALE, GLAISDALE, STEVENSTONE
and Free French
Escort Destroyer FS LA COMBATTANTE with ships of Flotilla in Force J.
2nd Took part in final rehearsal for Forces
S, G and J (Exercise FAB1US).
3rd Berthing, and loading and sailing
4th Took part in Assault landing at
Bracklesham Bay, West Sussex.
18th Carried out Defence Exercise in
Channel off Brighton
. On completion took
passage to Solent for final preparations.
(Note: Bombardment target allocated in
Pre-Arranged Fire Plan - Langrune-sur-Mer with HM
3rd Joined HMCS SIOUX as escort for Convoy
comprised Fleet minesweepers and Danlayers of 7th Minesweeping Flotilla,
Motor Launches and minesweepers of 159th BYMS Flotilla.
4th Convoy sailing delayed by 24 hours.
5th Escorted Convoy through swept channel.
6th Detached from Convoy J2 and reversed
course to Join Convoy J4
On arrival at
beach head took up bombardment station.
gunfire support for JUNO Beaches.
Deployed in Task
Force area for patrol, convoy defence and support as required by Assault
27th Remained in Channel area on completion
July On release from Channel
deployment rejoined Flotilla in Home Fleet
August Home Fleet Flotilla duties in
10th Escorted HM Aircraft Carrier
INDOMITABLE, HM Escort Aircraft Carriers TRUMPETER
and NABOB with HM
Cruisers KENT, DEVONSHIRE, HM Destroyers MYNGS, VIRAGO,
SCOURGE ALGONQUIN (RCN) and SIOUX (RCN)
for air minelay
air attacks on
coastal shipping and an airfield at Gossen.
OFFSPRING - For details of all minelaying operations see Naval Staff History
12th Escorted HM Aircraft Carrier FURIOUS
and HMS TRUMPETER with HMS DEVONSHIRE
MYNGS, MARNE, MUSKETEER, ALGONQUIN (RCN), SIOUX (RCN) and
shipping strikes and air minelay south of Vosko Island.
Home Fleet duties with Flotilla in continuation.
December Escorted HM Aircraft Carriers IMPLACABLE, TRUMPETER and PREMIER with HM
HM Destroyers ZEALOUS, ZAMBESI, SCOURGE. SERAPIS,
ALGONQUIN (RCN) and Norwegian destroyer STORD during
attacks on shipping and an
air minelay in
Karm Sound (Operation URBANE).
took passage for refit.
Taken in hand for refit by HM
Dockyard Chatham to prepare for service with Flotilla in
1 9 4 5
On completion of refit took passage with Flotilla to Join Fleet at
15th Deployed as escort for
HM Aircraft Carrier FORMIDABLE with HMS SAUMAREZ.
Joined Eastern Fleet.
(For details of naval
activities In Indian Ocean see THE FORGOTTEN FLEET by J.
OPERATION PACIFIC by E Gray and WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO).).
22nd Part of screen for HM
Cruiser KENYA, HM Escort Carriers EMPRESS and EMIR with HM
VIRAGO, VOLAGE and HM Frigates SPEY, SWALE and PLYM as Force 62
attacks on shipping in the Andaman Sea and photo-reconnaissance of Kra
and the Malayan
coast (Operation STACEY).
Trincomalee with defects.
23rd Rejoined Task Force 62
26th Deployed with screen during
Eastern Fleet screening and patrol in continuation.
25th Deployed with HM
Destroyers SAUMAREZ, VOLAGE and VIRAGO as Force 70.
Sailed with Force
70 ships for anti-shipping strike in Andaman Sea.
26th In action against
convoy of four snipe and escort of 2 submarine chasers.
After very heavy
expenditure of ammunition and with assistance from Liberator aircraft of 222
Group RAF, all
four ships and both escorts were sunk.
Some Japanese and
two RAF aircrew were rescued.
(For details see
THE FORGOTTEN FLEET)
10th Part of screen HM
Battleship QUEEN ELIZABETH, French battleship RICHLIEU, HM
CUMBERLAND and LONDON with HM Destroyers SAUMAREZ, VERULAM,
VIRAGO and VENUS during
bombardment of Sabang, Sumatra (Operation SUNFISH).
11th Bombarded Oleelhoe
with HMS SAUMAREZ and HMS VERULAM.
23rd Sailed from
Trincomalee for Akyab as part of screen for 21st Aircraft Carrier Squadron to
cover assault convoys during passage for Rangoon
comprised HM Cruisers PHOEBE, ROYALIST, HM Escort Carriers HUNTER
STALKER, EMPEROR and
KHEDIVE screened by HM Destroyers SAUMAREZ,
VIRAGO and VIGILANT).
30th Part of screen to
Carrier Squadron ships during cover for convoys.
(Operation DRACULA - See above
(Note: In all
six convoys were covered).
1st Rangoon landing
operations began with cover by Eastern Fleet ships.
Detached from 21st Carrier
6th Joined Task Force 63 as
escort for HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH and French RICHELIEU, HM
SHAH and EMPRESS, HM Cruisers CUMBERLAND, SUFFOLK, CEYLON
and Dutch VAN
TROMP for bombardment of Andamans (Operation BISHOP).
9th Joined Task Force 61
(HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, FS RICHELIEU, HMS CUMBERLAND,
Dutch VAN TROMP
and 21st Carrier Squadron) with HM Destroyers SAUMAREZ,
intercept Japanese ships sighted in entrance to Malacca Straits.
14th Detached with HM
Destroyers SAUMAREZ, VERULAM, VENUS and VIRAGO to search for
enemy craft north
of Sumatra (Operation MITRE).
15th Engaged Japanese
cruiser HAGURO and destroyer KAMIKAZE.
(Note: During a
brilliant tactical night torpedo attack HAGURO sunk in Malacca Straits SW of
full details see SINK THE HAGURO by John Winton).
Eastern Fleet escort and Indian Ocean patrol duties in continuation.
exercises for support of planned allied landings in Malaya (Operation ZIPPER).
planned operation was subject to delays
due to lack of approval by US
government and implementation of the PYTHON release scheme for long
personnel in SEAC. See above references and Final Report of Supreme
5th Deployed with HM Cruiser
NIGERIA, HM Destroyers ROEBUCK and ESKIMO to provide
Japanese surface and air attacks during minesweeping operations off coast of
Burma prior to
landings in Malaya.
August Deployed with screen for Eastern Fleet major units to cover landings
Operation was postponed at the insistence of the did not take place until
after VJ Day .For details see above
references, BRITISH INVASION FLEETS
de Winser and ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY).
P o s
t W a r N o t e s
VIGILANT returned to UK after the surrender at Singapore and was retained in
service. She returned to Harwich in January 1946 prior to being deployed in the Londonderry Flotilla for
anti-submarine training. During September that year she was transferred to the
Mediterranean Fleet in Malta. On return to UK in 1947 the ship was Paid-off and
reduced to Reserve status at Portsmouth. This ship was converted into a Type
15 Frigate by J Thornycroft at Woolston between 1951 and 1952. On completion
in September 1953 she joined the 6th Frigate Squadron Home Fleet. She collided
with HM Frigate RELENTLESS in the Clyde area on 27th October 1954 and was
seriously damaged. HMS VIGILANT was selected for use as a cadet training ship
in the Dartmouth Training Squadron after repair and was refitted for this duty.
The alterations included an enclosed bridge and a deckhouse for classroom use.
She was deployed with this Squadron until 1963 when she was reduced to Reserve
at Devonport. Placed on the Disposal List in 1965 the ship was sold to BISCO
for breaking-up at Faslane by Shipbreaking Industries. The ship arrived at the
breakers yard in tow on 6th June 1965.
CONVOY ESCORT MOVEMENTS of
by Don Kindell
These convoy lists have not been cross-checked
with the text above
Date convoy sailed
Joined convoy as escort
Date convoy arrived
(Note on Convoys)