Naval History Homepage - and Site Search

 

SERVICE HISTORIES of ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS in WORLD WAR 2

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

HMS BICESTER (L 34) -  Type II, Hunt-class Escort Destroyer including Convoy Escort Movements

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

return to Contents List 

 

Type II  HUNT-Class Escort Destroyer ordered from Hawthorn Leslie at Newcastle under the 1939 War Emergency Programme on 12th December 1939 with 16 others of this Type. The ship was laid down as Job Number J4210 on 29th May 1940 and launched on 5th September 1941 as the second RN ship to bear the name, that of a fox-hunt in Oxfordshire. It was first used for a minesweeper in WW1. Build was completed on 18th June 1942 and she was not adopted by a civil community after a National Savings WARSHIP WEEK campaign during 1941-42.

 

B a t t l e   H o n o u r s

 

NORTH AFRICA 1942-43 - MALTA CONVOYS 1942 - MEDITERRANEAN  1942-43 - SOUTH FRANCE 1944 - ADRIATIC  1944 - AEGEAN  1944

 

H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On afield Red, a stirrup White and a key erect

         upwards Gold interlaced.

 

 

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

 

June                        Contractors trials and commissioning.

                16th        Build completion and acceptance trials.

                                Prepared for work-up.

 

July                         On completion of work-up joined Londonderry Special Escort Force.

                29th        Joined military convoy WS21 in Clyde with HM Destroyers BRAMHAM, WILTON,

                                KEPPEL and SALISBURY as Local Escort during passage in NW Approaches.

 

August                  Nominated for detached service as escort for Malta Relief convoy.

                4th          Detached from WS21 and took passage to Join Malta Relief Convoy WS21S which

                                had sailed from Clyde for Gibraltar on 2nd August (Operation PEDESTAL).

                                (Note: This deployment was with Home Fleet destroyers for escort of convoy and

                                screening of HM Battleships NELSON and RODNEY, HM Cruiser NIGERIA

                                and KENYA with HM Destroyers AMAZON, ASHANTI, ESKIMO

                                MALCOLM, PATHFINDER, PENN, QUENTIN, TARTAR, VENOMOUS

                                WISHART, WOLVERINE, BRAMHAM, DERWENT, LEDBURY,

                                WILTON and ZETLAND.)

                11th        After passage through Strait of Gibraltar Joined HM Cruisers CAIRO, MANCHESTER,

                                KENYA and NIGERIA in Force X with HM Destroyers ASHANTI, FURY,

                                INTREPID, ICARUS, PATHFINDER, PENN, DERWENT, LEDBURY, WILTON

                                BRAMHAM and WILTON as escort for ships during passage through Sicilian

                                Narrows to Malta.

                12th        Under submarine and air attacks during which HM Aircraft Carrier EAGLE was sunk

                                by U73.

                                Further attacks by Italian submarines during which HMS CAIRO was sunk and HMS

                                NIGERIA was hit by torpedoes from Italian AXUM.

                                Detached with HMS DERWENT and HMS WILTON to escort damaged HMS

                                NIGERIA back to Gibraltar.

                                For details of the passage of PEDESTAL Convoy see PEDESTAL by Peter C Smith,

                                ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by C Barnett and the Naval Staff History.

                18th        On release from PEDESTAL took passage to Londonderry to resume escort duties in

                                NW Approaches.

                28th        Joined military convoy WS22 in Clyde with HM Destroyers BULLDOG, KEPPEL,

                                ZETLAND, BEVERLEY, CHESTERFIELD and Polish destroyer ORP

                                BLYSKAWICA as Local Escort for passage in NW Approaches.

 

September

                1st           Detached from WS22 with HM Destroyers BULLDOG, KEPPEL, ZETLAND and

                                ORP BLYSKAWICA.

                                On return to Londonderry deployed in NW Approaches for convoy escort.

 

October                  NW Approaches escort duty in continuation.

                4th          Joined military convoy WS23 in Clyde with HM Destroyers BEAGLE, WRESTLER,

                                ZETLAND, PUCKERIDGE and Greek destroyer KANARIS as escort during

                                passage in NW Approaches.

                8th          Detached from WS23 and resumed to Clyde with Local Escort.

                                On return to Londonderry resumed duty in Local Escort Force.

                                Nominated for escort of military convoys to North Africa for allied landings.

                                Escorted convoys to Gibraltar.

 

November              Deployed at Gibraltar.

                                Joined Eastern Task Force for- support of landings at Oran.

                                (Operation TORCH See Naval Staff History and ENGAGE THE ENEMY

                                MORE CLOSELY.)

                                On release from TORCH Joined 58th Destroyer Division based at Algiers for

                                convoy defence in western Mediterranean.

 

December              Western Mediterranean deployment in continuation.

 

1 9 4 3

 

January                  Convoy defence based at Algiers in continuation.

 

February                Deployed with sister HUNT Class destroyers for patrol and convoy escort.

                17th        Took part in search for Italian submarine ASTERIA in defence of convoy.

                                (Note: Sinking of ASTERIA is credited to HM Destroyers EASTON and

                                WHEATLAND.)

                20th        Deployed with HM Destroyers LAMERTON and WHEATLAND to carry out search

                                for U443 detected by shore radar at Algiers.

                23rd        Took part in sinking of U443 in position 36.55N 02.25E with HMS WHEATLAND

                                and HMS LAMERTON after three day search and destroy operation.

                                Submarine sunk by sustained depth charge attacks

                                There were no survivors.

 

March                    Convoy defence and patrol based at Algiers in continuation.

to

April

 

May                        Took part in blockade of Cape Bon area to prevent escape of craft being used for

                                evacuation of enemy personnel from North Africa (Operation RETRIBUTION).

                9th          During deployment with HMS OAKLEY came under air attack by SPITFIRE

                                aircraft and sustained major damage from near miss

                                Bomb exploded alongside causing flooding and extensive damage

                                Taken in tow to Malta for temporary repair.

 

June                        Under repair in Malta. Passage to UK for permanent repair,

 

July                         Passage to UK for repair

 

August                  Under repair

to

September

 

October                  Nominated for service in 59th Destroyer Division in Malta.

                                Post repair trials and work-up for foreign service.

 

November              Passage to Malta to resume patrol and convoy defence duties.

                                Deployed in Adriatic and central Mediterranean.

 

December

                2nd         Damaged during air raid at Bari when an ammunition ship was hit and exploded.

                                (Note: Later sister destroyer HMS ZETLAND was also damaged but less seriously.)

                                Taken in tow by HMS ZETLAND to Taranto for repair.

 

1 9 4 4

 

January                  Under repair.

                15th        On completion carried out post repair trial and resumed convoy defence duty.

 

February                Deployed for convoy escort In Central Mediterranean and for support of military

to                            operations in Adriatic.

April

 

May                        Deployed in Adriatic

                5th          Carried out bombardment of Ardea in support of shore operation .

 

June                        Adriatic support and convoy defence in continuation

to

July

 

August                  Passage to Naples to Join US Navy ships for escort of Assault convoys.

                                (Operation ZIPPER See BRITISH INVASION FLEETS by J de Winser and

                                Naval Staff History.)

                                (Note: British ships were under overall command of US Navy.)

                12th        Part of escort for Assault Convoy SM1 (CAMEL) and sailed from Naples with

                                HM Trawlers CROWLIN, MEWSTONE, AILSA CRAIG and six US Navy minor

                                minor warships.

                15th        Detached from SM1 (CAMEL) on arrival off beachhead.

 

September             On release from DRAGOON returned to RN control and deployed in Adriatic for

                                the support of guerrilla and other shore operations as well as convoy escort.

 

October                  Support of re-occupation of Aegean islands and convoy defence in continuation

to

November

 

December              Piraeus guardship, convoy defence and support in continuation.

 

1 9 4 5

 

January                  Piraeus guardship, convoy defence and support duties in continuation.

                                Based in Malta.

                                Nominated for refit in Alexandria

 

February                Passage to Alexandria for refit.

 

March                    Under refit.

 

April                       Nominated for service in 18th Destroyer Flotilla, Eastern Fleet.

 

May                        Passage to UK.

 

June                        Taken in hand for refit to improve habitability.

 

July                         On completion and re-commissioning took to Indian Ocean to join Flotilla

                                in Eastern Fleet.

 

 

August                  Arrived at Trincomalee before VJ Day and Joined Flotilla.

                28th        Sailed from Trincomalee as part of escort for Convoy JMA2BS during passage

                                to assault beachhead near Port Dickson

                                (Operation ZIPPER See above references and WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO).)

 

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

 

HMS BICESTER remained in Eastern Fleet aid became Leader of 29th Destroyer Flotilla at Bombay. She was deployed for Fleet duties until return to UK in November. After arrival at Sheerness on 12th December 1945 she was deployed in the More Local Flotilla. In 1947 she became Leader of Flotilla and was deployed for training and  local duties until January 1950 when she paid-off and was put in Reserve at Chatham. Although brought forward to attend the Coronation Review in 1953 this ship did not re-commission for operational service before being placed on the Disposal List in 1955. She was sold to T W Ward in 1956 and arrived in tow at the breakers yard in Grays, Essex on 23rd August 1956 for demolition.

 


 

Addendum

 

CONVOY ESCORT MOVEMENTS of HMS BICESTER

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

 

 

 

 

 

26/10/42

06/11/42

KMF 001

08/11/42

08/11/42

27/11/42

06/12/42

KMF 004

07/12/42

07/12/42

13/12/42

16/12/42

TE 009

18/12/42

18/12/42

18/12/42

18/12/42

ET 006

20/12/42

22/12/42

05/01/43

05/01/43

MKF 006

06/01/43

14/01/43

11/01/43

11/01/43

ET 009

16/01/43

16/01/43

26/01/43

26/01/43

TE 014

30/01/43

30/01/43

21/01/43

07/02/43

KMS 008G

08/02/43

10/02/43

09/02/43

09/02/43

ET 011

11/02/43

13/02/43

09/02/43

11/02/43

TE 015

13/02/43

13/02/43

17/02/43

17/02/43

MKS 008

22/02/43

01/03/43

18/03/43

18/03/43

ET 015

22/03/43

22/03/43

01/04/43

01/04/43

TE 020

04/04/43

04/04/43

04/04/43

04/04/43

ET 017

06/04/43

09/04/43

22/10/43

25/10/43

KX 011

01/11/43

01/11/43

10/11/43

10/11/43

KMS 031

18/11/43

21/11/43

12/08/44

12/08/44

SM 001A

14/08/44

14/08/44

01/11/44

01/11/44

XIF 024

04/11/44

04/11/44

06/11/44

06/11/44

IXF 024

10/11/44

10/11/44

24/11/44

24/11/44

XIF 025

28/11/44

28/11/44

 

 

 

 

 

(Note on Convoys)

 

back to Contents List
or Naval-History.Net

revised 12/8/11
further editing and formatting is required