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SERVICE HISTORIES of ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS in WORLD WAR 2

by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2004

HMS WHELP (R 37) -  W-class Destroyer

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Whelp (Navy Photos/George Knight, click to enlarge)

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WAGER or 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 Brent.

 

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

Badge: On a Field White, a lion's whelp

sejant guardant Proper.

 

 

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 4

 

April                       Contractors trials.

                17th        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 

                                ship during operational duties in the Indian Ocean and Pacific).

                20th        Commenced Acceptance Trials

                25th        Programmed Build completion date.

                                On completion of trials and storing took passage to Scapa Flow to work-up with ships of Home
                                Fleet.

                                Attached to 3rd Destroyer Flotilla during work-up.

 

May                        On completion of work-up deployed with Flotilla for screening of Home Fleet major units and

                                took part in preparatory exercises for planned allied landings in Normandy (Operation

                                NEPTUNE).

 

June                        Deployed with screen for HM Cruiser JAMAICA during replenishment of garrison at

                                Spitzbergen

                                (Operation GEARBOX series.)

                                (Note: Other ships deployed included HM Destroyers MATCHLESS, MARNE, MILNE,

                                METEOR, 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.)

 

July

                4th          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

                                support of planned allied landings in South France (Operation DRAGOON).

                                Prepared for foreign service.

                31st         Joined HMS RAMILLIES at Portsmouth.

 

August

                2nd         Sailed from Portsmouth as escort for HM Battleship RAMILLIES during passage to

                                Mediterranean.

                11th        Detached from HMS RAMILLIES on arrival at Algiers

                                Deployed with Flotilla in Mediterranean

                                (Note: Some ships on passage to Far East carried out further work-up in the Mediterranean.

                                This ship was not directly involved in Operation DRAGOON. See Naval Staff History.)

 

September             Passage to Trincomalee with ships of Flotilla to join Fleet.

 

October                  Joined Eastern Fleet with Flotilla at Trincomalee.

                15th        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

                                during which air attacks and bombardments were carried out on Nicobar Islands).

                17th        Under attack by 12 torpedo bombers which were repelled by aircraft from carriers.

                                Seven aircraft destroyed for loss of three fighters.

                                (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 JAPAN (HMSO).).

                18th        Remained with RFA WAVE PRINCE during replenishment.

                19th        Return passage to Trincomalee with Force Unit 63.3.

 

 

November

                17th        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 Operation OUTFLANK).

                18th        Replenished fuel with other destroyers screening Eastern Fleet units.

                22nd       Transferred to British Pacific Fleet with ships of Flotilla on formation.

 

December              Eastern Fleet screening deployment in continuation. (See addenda for December and January)

 

1 9 4 5

 

January                  Deployed with HM Destroyers KEMPENFELT, WAGER, GRENVILLE, URANIA,

                                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.

                4th          Part of screen during air attacks against oil refineries at Pangkalan Brandan (Operation

                                LENTIL).

                6th          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

                                off Port Blair).

                8th          Arrived in Trincomalee with submarine).

                16th        Sailed with British Pacific Fleet as Task Force 63 for transfer to US 5th Fleet in Australia.

                20th        Refuelled from Force 69 in Indian Ocean.

                24th        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).

                26th        Replenished from Force 69.

                29th        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 unqualified success.

                                Under air attack during which HMS ILLUSTRIOUS was damaged by AA fire from HMS

                                EURYALUS (See above reference).)

                30th        Refuelled from Force 69.

 

February

                4th          Arrived at Fremantle with Force 63.

                10th        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.)

                28th        Sailed for Manus with British Pacific Fleet as Task Force 113.

 

March

                7th          Arrived at Manus and allocation for service with the US 5th Fleet delayed pending approval

                                in Washington by Admiral King.

                17th        Sailed with British Pacific Fleet as Task Force 57 for Joint operations with US aircraft carriers

                                against airfields in Sakishima Gunto island Group.

                26th        Part of screen for HM Battleships KING GEORGE V and HOWE, aircraft carriers and cruisers

                                British Pacific Fleet with HM Destroyers GRENVILLE, ULSTER, UNDINE, URANIA,

                                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.

 

June                        Under repair.

                                Transferred to US 3rd Fleet with British Pacific Fleet ships.

                                Redesignated as Task Force 37.

 

 July                        On completion of post repair trials resumed Flotilla duties at Sydney.

                31st         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).

 

August

                3rd          Arrived at RN Forward Base in Manus, Admiralty Islands

                7th          Took passage to Guam as escort for HMS DUKE OF YORK with HMS WAGER.

                9th          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 was

                                disbanded but some RN ships were retained as a Token Force. See above references).

                16th        Detached from HMS DUKE OF YORK on joining US 3rd Fleet in position 200 miles SE of

                                Tokyo

 

September

                2nd         (Attendance at the formal surrender is to be confirmed.)

  

P o s t W a r N o t e s

 

HMS 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 returned 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 Disposal List.

 


 

Addenda

 

SERVICE of ABLE SEAMAN REGINALD AYERS on HMS WHELP

from Brian Rayner, his nephew

 

believed to be in Hong Kong, November 1945

AB Ayers served on WHELP in the Pacific and provided further information on the Ship's History, a ship's photograph (above) signed by members of her crew, and AB Ayers Paybook (following ).

 

Note: The 'G. or T.' question at the bottom left hand side of the Paybook asks "Grog or Temperance" with regard to the rum ration.


 

HMS WHELP, December 1944 to January 1945
by David Hamilton, Commander (F), RN (Rtd)

On the 17th Dec 1944, we sailed on an operation against the Japs and it may be of interest to give some detail.

 

OPERATION ROLSTON.

 

We sailed 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 [ RNZN]. The anti-submarine screen, starting from the port wing, was Whirlwind, Wrangler, Wakeful, centre front Kempenfelt [O/ic screen] and starboard wing, Wessex, Whelp and Wager. All belonging to the 27th destroyer flotilla [DF]. 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 boiler clean.

 

We were looking forward to a quiet Xmas but were sailed on Xmas day to give aid to one of our submarines, HMS 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 to 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.

 

OPERATION LENTIL.

 

On 31 Dec Wessex and Wakeful escorted the RFA Waveking and RFA Empire Salvage to the rendezvous. Task Force 65 set off on the 1st Jan 1945 and consisted of the carriers Indomitable [Adml P.Vian, of Altmark fame], Indefatigable and Victorious, cruisers Suffolk, Argonaut and Black Prince escorted by the 27th and 25th DFs. Screen from port wing—Ursa, Urania, Undaunted, Grenville [o/ic], 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 Islands and Sumatra to put the airfield in the Medang area out of action and bomb/rocket the oil refinery.

 

Carrier

First Strike

Second Strike

Indomitable

16 Avengers

16 Hellcats

20 Avengers

28 Hellcats

Victorious

16 Avengers

11 Corsairs

18 Avengers

30 Corsairs

Indefatigable

12 Fireflys

12 Fireflys

24 Seafires

8 pr Hellcats

 

The raids 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.

 

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