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

HMS ZEST (R 02) -  Z-class Destroyer
Including Convoy Escort Movements

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Zest (Navy Photos/Mark Teadham, click to enlarge)

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ZAMBESI or Z-Class Fleet Destroyer ordered from John I Thornycroft at Woolston, Southampton on 12th February 1942 with the 10th Emergency Flotilla. She was laid down on 21st July 1942 as Yard Number 4034 and launched on 14th October 1943 as the first RN warship to carry this name. The build was completed on 20th July 1944


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


ARCTIC 1945 - NORWAY  1945



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


July                     Contractor's trials and commissioned for service.

             12th        Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials

                            On completion of trials and storing took passage to Scapa Flow.


August               Worked up for service at Scapa Flow with ships of Home Fleet

                            On completion deployed with Flotilla for screening of Home Fleet major units.


October               Flotilla duties in NW Approaches and North Sea in continuation.

to                         (Note: These included escort duties during-anti-shipping strikes and aircraft minelays

November                        from Home Fleet aircraft carriers as well as independent anti-submarine



             31st         Deployed for anti-submarine operations in NW Approaches with HM Destroyers ORWELL

                             and ZEPHYR.


1 9 4 5



             11th        Deployed with HM Destroyers OPPORTUNE, CAVENDISH and ZODIAC in Force 3 as screen

                             for HM Cruiser DIDO, HM Escort Carriers PREMIER and TRUMPETER.

                             (Note: These ships provided air cover during dual minelay and shipping strikes off Norway.

                                          (Operations SPELLBINDER and GRATIS- See Naval Staff History).

                                          Motor Torpedo Boats were also attached to Force 3 for air-sea rescue of aircrew who

                                          ditched during air operations).

              13th        Returned to Scapa Flow with Force 3.



                3rd        Joined screen for HM Cruiser BELLONA, HM Escort Carriers CAMPANIA and NAIRANA with

                             HM Destroyers ONSLAUGHT, OPPORTUNE, SERAPIS, ZAMBESI, ZEALOUS, ZEBRA and

                             Canadian SIOUX to provide escort for Russian Convoy JW64 to Kola Inlet.

                             (Note: HMS ZEBRA detached with machinery defects in early stage of passage.

                                         For details of all Russian convoy operations see CONVOYS TO RUSSIA by R A Ruegg,

                                         ARCTIC CONVOYS by P Kemp, THE RUSSIAN CONVOYS by B Schoefield and

                                         CONVOY! by P. Kemp).

              14th        Detached with HM Destroyers ZAMBESI, ZEALOUS and Canadian SIOUX for evacuation of

                             500 civilians from the Island of Soroy which was under attack by German forces.

                             Embarked passengers and took them to Murmansk.

             17th        Joined return Convoy RA64 as escort with same ships as JW64.

                             After joining convoy screen, HM Corvette BLUEBELL stationed nearby was hit and was

                             sunk immediately by a homing torpedo fired by U711 NE of Kola Inlet.

                             Took part in search for survivors with HM Destroyer OPPORTUNE.

                             (Note: Only three men were recovered and were all unconscious. Of these Petty Officer AEG

                                        Holmes, P/JX 217490 recovered consciousness and was the only survivor from HMS


             27th         Detached with same ships and resumed Fleet duties with Flotilla.

                             (Note: HM Destroyers SAVAGE, SCOURGE, CAVALIER, MYNGS and SCORPION joined

                                         RA64 before the detachment).


March                Home Fleet duties with 2nd Destroyer Flotilla in continuation.

            20th        Deployed with HM Destroyers ONSLOW, SERAPIS, Canadian HAIDA and Canadian SIOUX

                           as screen for HM Cruiser BELLONA, HM Escort Carriers PREMIER, SEARCHER and QUEEN

                           providing air cover for last dual air minelay and shipping strike off Norway that had begun in

                           August 1944  (Operation CUPOLA - Force 1).



            18th        Deployed with HM Destroyers OFFA, ZEALOUS, ZEPHYR, ZODIAC, Canadian destroyers

                           HAIDA, HURON, IROQUOIS and Norwegian STORD as screen for HM Cruiser BELLONA,

                           HM Escort Carriers PREMIER and VINDEX to reinforce escort for Russian Convoy JW66 to

                           Kola Inlet.

            25th        Detached on arrival at Kola Inlet after taking part in a combined Anti-submarine operation

                           against U-Boat assembly off entrance with other escorts..

            29th        Joined escort for return Convoy RA66 with same ships.



             5th         Detached with HMS ZEALOUS and ZODIAC and took passage to join Home Fleet major units.

             6th         Deployed with HM Destroyers ZEALOUS, ZEPHYR and ZODIAC as screen for HM Cruisers

                           BIRMINGHAM and DIDO for passage to Copenhagen to accept surrender of the German

                           cruisers NURNBERG and HIPPER.

            13th        Relieved at Copenhagen and took passage with HMS BIRMINGHAM and HM Destroyer


                           (Note: Later went to Bergen, Norway and to Flensburg, Germany via Kiel Canal.).


June                    Deployed with Flotilla in support of reoccupation operations and Fleet duties.

to                        Attended VE celebrations at Woolwich, London with HM Destroyers MYNGS and ZEALOUS.



P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS ZEST remained in commission and joined 4th Destroyer Flotilla Home Fleet after VJ Day. She served with the Home Fleet till February 1947, apart from a refit at Leith in September 1945. The ship Paid-off and was reduced to Reserve at Sheerness in July 1947. Brought forward for service in February 1948 she was then used for torpedo training at Portland until transferred to the Nore Local Flotilla in September 1952. This ship remained in Nore Command until February 1954 when she again Paid-off and reduced to Reserve at Chatham. In March 1956 whilst in the Reserve Fleet at Chatham she was selected for conversion to a Type 15 Anti-Submarine Frigate. On completion by  HM Dockyard Chatham in 1958 she re-commissioned for service in the 3rd Training Squadron at Londonderry. When this Squadron was disbanded she transferred to the 4th Frigate Squadron until refitted in Malta during 1961. After refitting HMS ZEST joined the 24th Escort in which she served until July 1968 when Paid off into Reserve at Plymouth. In 1969 she was placed on the Disposal List and sold to BISCO for demolition by Arnott Young at Dalmuir on the Clyde. Whilst on tow by the tug BUSTLER the ship broke away from tow. After re-connection she arrived at the breakers on 18th July 1970.






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








TA 146





AT 148A





RA 064





AT 195





JW 066





RA 066








(Note on Convoys)


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revised 11/8/11
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