W-Class Fleet Destroyer ordered in
December 1941 from Hawthorn Leslie .Newcastle
with 9th Emergency Flotilla. She
was laid down on 1st May 1942 and launched on
3rd June 1943 as the 11th RN
warship to carry this name which dates from
1627. She was completed for service
on 25th April 1944. After a successful WARSHIP
WEEK National Savings campaign
in March 1942 this ship had been adopted by the
civil community of Wembley,
Middlesex and now part of the London Borough of
B a t t
le H o n o u r s
PORTLAND 1653 - GABBARD 1653
- OKINAWA 1945
H e r a l
d i c Da t a
a Field White, a
D e t a i
l s o f
W a r S e r v i c e
Naval History Homepage
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9 4 4
Commissioned for service in 27th Destroyer
Flotilla on formation.
(Note: Prince Philip of
Greece, later HRH The Duke of Edinburgh
was First Lieutenant in this
operational duties in the Indian Ocean and
Commenced Acceptance Trials
Programmed Build completion date.
On completion of trials and storing took
passage to Scapa Flow
to work-up with ships of Home
Attached to 3rd Destroyer Flotilla during
On completion of work-up deployed with
Flotilla for screening of Home Fleet major
part in preparatory exercises for planned
allied landings in Normandy (Operation
Deployed with screen for HM Cruiser JAMAICA
during replenishment of garrison at
(Operation GEARBOX series.)
(Note: Other ships deployed included HM
Destroyers MATCHLESS, MARNE, MILNE,
MUSKETEER, WAGER, WAKEFUL and WESSEX.)
For details of naval activities before and
during assault landings see LANDINGS IN
NORMANDY June 1944 (HMSO) and OPERATION
NEPTUNE by K Edwards.)
Returned to Clyde on release from GEARBOX.
Joined 27th Flotilla on formation for service
in Eastern Fleet..
(Note: Other ships in Flotilla were HM
Destroyers KEMPENFELT, WAKEFUL, WHIRLWIND,
WESSEX, WAGER, WIZARD and WRANGLER.
Nominated for escort of HM Battleship
RAMILLIES during passage to Mediterranean for
of planned allied landings in South France
Prepared for foreign service.
Joined HMS RAMILLIES at Portsmouth.
Sailed from Portsmouth as escort for HM
Battleship RAMILLIES during passage to
Detached from HMS RAMILLIES on arrival at
Deployed with Flotilla in Mediterranean
(Note: Some ships on passage to Far East
carried out further work-up in the
This ship was not directly involved in
Operation DRAGOON. See Naval Staff History.)
Passage to Trincomalee with ships of Flotilla
to join Fleet.
Joined Eastern Fleet with Flotilla at
Deployed with HM Destroyers WAKEFUL, WESSEX
and WAGER as screen f or HM Aircraft
Carriers INDOMITABLE, VICTORIOUS and HM
Cruiser PHOEBE as Force Unit 63.3.
(Operation MILLET - Eastern Fleet diversionary
operation during the US landing on Leyte
which air attacks and bombardments were
carried out on Nicobar Islands).
Under attack by 12 torpedo bombers which were
repelled by aircraft from carriers.
Seven aircraft destroyed for loss of three
(For details of operations in Indian Ocean in
1944-45 see OPERATION PACIFIC by E. Gray,
THE FORGOTTEN FLEET by J Winton and WAR WITH
Remained with RFA WAVE PRINCE during replenishment.
Return passage to Trincomalee with Force Unit
Deployed with HMS WAGER as escort for Fleet
Auxiliary Oiler WAVE PRINCE during duty
as a replenishment unit during Eastern Fleet
air operations in NW Sumatra.
(Operation ROBSON – Part of major allied
Replenished fuel with other destroyers
screening Eastern Fleet units.
Transferred to British Pacific Fleet with
ships of Flotilla on formation.
Eastern Fleet screening deployment in
See addenda for December and January)
9 4 5
Deployed with HM Destroyers KEMPENFELT, WAGER,
UNDAUNTED, URSA and UNDINE as destroyer screen
for HM Aircraft Carriers
INDEFATIGABLE, INDOMITABLE, ILLUSTRIOUS,
VICTORIOUS, HM Cruisers SUFFOLK,
CEYLON, ARGONAUT and BLACK PRINCE as Force 63.
Part of screen during air attacks against oil
refineries at Pangkalan Brandan (Operation
Detached to take over tow of HM Submarine
SHAKESPEARE from HM Destroyer RAIDER.
(Note: The submarine had been damaged during
an attack on a merchant ship when on patrol
Arrived in Trincomalee with submarine).
Sailed with British Pacific Fleet as Task
Force 63 for transfer to US 5th Fleet in
Refuelled from Force 69 in Indian Ocean.
Deployed with HM Destroyers GRENVILLE, UNDINE.
URSA, UNDAUNTED, KEMPENFELT,
WAKEFUL, WHIRLWIND and WAGER as screen for H M
Battleship KING GEORGE V,
HM Aircraft Carriers ILLUSTRIOUS,
INDEFATIGABLE, INDOMITABLE , VICTORIOUS,
HM Cruisers ARGONAUT .BLACK PRINCE and
EURYALUS during air attacks on oil refinery
at Pladjoe, north of Palembang, Sumatra
(Operation MERIDIAN I).
Replenished from Force 69.
Part of screen for Force 63 during air attacks
on oil refineries at Soengi-Gerong, Sumatra
(Operation MERIDIAN II).
(Note: This operation was not Judged an
Under air attack during which HMS ILLUSTRIOUS
was damaged by AA fire from HMS
EURYALUS (See above reference).)
Refuelled from Force 69.
Arrived at Fremantle with Force 63.
Prepared for Joint operations in Pacific on
arrival at Sydney.
(Note: Pennant Number for visual signalling
changed to D33 to conform with US Navy
identification for destroyers.)
Sailed for Manus with British Pacific Fleet as
Task Force 113.
Arrived at Manus and allocation for service
with the US 5th Fleet delayed pending approval
in Washington by Admiral King.
Sailed with British Pacific Fleet as Task
Force 57 for Joint operations with US aircraft
against airfields in Sakishima Gunto island
Part of screen for HM Battleships KING GEORGE
V and HOWE, aircraft carriers and cruisers
British Pacific Fleet with HM Destroyers
UNDAUNTED, QUICKMATCH, QUIBERON, QUALITY,
WAGER and QUEENBOROUGH
Withdrawn from operation during passage
because of defects.
(Note: HM Destroyer QUALITY was also withdrawn
and the two ships later replaced by HM
Destroyers WHIRLWIND and KEMPENFELT).
Took passage to Melbourne for repair.
Transferred to US 3rd Fleet with British
Pacific Fleet ships.
Redesignated as Task Force 37.
On completion of post repair trials resumed
Flotilla duties at Sydney.
Deployed with HM Destroyer WAGER as escort for
HM Battleship DUKE OF YORK for the
passage to Guam.
(Note: HMS DUKE OF YORK was taking Admiral
Fraser, CinC BPF for meetings with
Admiral Nimitz. During these Admiral Nimitz
was presented with the Order of the Garter).
Arrived at RN Forward Base in Manus, Admiralty
Took passage to Guam as escort for HMS DUKE OF
YORK with HMS WAGER.
Arrived at Guam.
Passage from Guam as escort for HMS DUKE OF
YORK with HMS WAGER to join British
Pacific Fleet off Japan.
(Note: BPF ships retained in US 3rd Fleet were
re-designated Task Unit 38.5 of US Task Force
after supplies of fuel from British Fleet
Train found to be insufficient. Task Force 37
disbanded but some RN ships were retained as a
Token Force. See above references).
Detached from HMS DUKE OF YORK on joining US 3rd Fleet in position 200
miles SE of
(Attendance at the formal surrender is to be
P o s
t W a r
N o t e s
WHELP remained in the British Pacific Fleet
based at Hong Kong with 27th
Destroyer Flotilla and assisted in the
repatriation of allied personnel from
Japanese captivity in
the Far East before return to UK. The ship
to UK with ships of the Flotilla during and
arrived at Portsmouth to Pay-off on
17th January 1946. Reduced
to Reserve she laid-up at Portsmouth until
November 1947 transferred until to
Simonstown. During 1952 she was
sold to South Africa and renamed SIMON VAN DER
STEL. Selected for modernisation
she refitted in 1962-64 and re-commissioned in
February 1964. She remained in
the active Fleet until 1976 when placed on the
of ABLE SEAMAN REGINALD AYERS on HMS WHELP
Brian Rayner, his nephew
believed to be in Hong Kong, November 1945
Ayers served on WHELP in the Pacific and
provided further information on
History, a ship's photograph (above)
signed by members of her crew, and AB Ayers
Paybook (following ).
The 'G. or T.' question at the bottom left
hand side of the Paybook asks "Grog or
Temperance" with regard to the rum ration.
December 1944 to January 1945
by David Hamilton, Commander (F), RN (Rtd)
Dec 1944, we sailed on an operation against
and it may be of interest to give some
in company with Wager and the fleet
oiler RFA Waveking.
After receiving oil by the double trough
method we joined up with the main
body, Force 66, consisting of the carriers Indomitable
and Victorious, and the cruisers Newcastle,
Argonaut and Black Prince [
The anti-submarine screen, starting from the
port wing, was Whirlwind, Wrangler, Wakeful,
centre front Kempenfelt
and starboard wing, Wessex, Whelp
and Wager. All
belonging to the 27th destroyer
Screening Diagram No 6 was ordered. The
force steamed between Car Nicobar and Sabang
and down the Malacca Straits. The carriers
flew off strikes
on airfields and oil depots. We picked up a
downed aviator. On the way back
another strike was carried out on Sabang
and we were
back in Trinco
on the 22nd. We then went
alongside the depot ship Tyne for a
were looking forward to a quiet Xmas but
were sailed on Xmas
day to give aid to one of our submarines,
Shakespeare. She had attacked and
sunk a Jap tanker but received 4
shell hits in the process
which prevented her
submerging, after which she was attacked by
bombers several times but managed
to avoid further damage. When carrying out
temporary repairs she had pumped out
some of the excess water in her
compartments, which caused her prop shafts
seize—they had been
lubricated by the oil floating on
top of the water!! We arrived and
passed a tow to her and while doing
this our CO put our stern a bit too close to
the subs bows and collected a nice
2 foot slice in our starboard quarter. He
was never much good at ship handling.
Back in harbour we had a late Xmas
celebration while the damage was welded up.
31 Dec Wessex and Wakeful escorted
Waveking and RFA Empire
Salvage to the rendezvous. Task Force
65 set off on the 1st Jan
1945 and consisted of the carriers Indomitable
fame], Indefatigable and Victorious,
cruisers Suffolk, Argonaut and Black
Prince escorted by the 27th
and 25th DFs. Screen from port
starboard wing Undine, Wager, Whelp, Kempenfelt.
Screening Diagram no 7 and Cruising
Disposition No 61 were ordered. Strikes
were flown off from between the Similan
Sumatra to put the airfield in the Medang
area out of
action and bomb/rocket the oil refinery.
were a success and although several a/c were
damaged and ditched on the way
back, all crews were saved [we picked up
one] also, one aircraft went in on
takeoff and that crew was saved. There were
two rescue submarines in the area—Statesman
and Thorough. One odd Jap aircraft
flew over the fleet and the carriers
opened up with their 4.5
inch guns. Most of the shell
fragments fell back amongst the fleet.