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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 BLENCATHRA (L 24) -  Type I, Hunt-class Escort Destroyer including Convoy Escort Movements

HMS Blencathra, without armament (Navy Photos/George Knight, click to enlarge)

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Type I HUNT-Class Escort Destroyer (but see Addendum) ordered from Cammell Laird, Birkenhead on 4th September  1939 under the1939 War Emergency Build Programme. The ship was laid down as Job No. V1048 on 11th November 1939 and launched on 6th August 1940 as the 1st RN ship to carry the name of the Fox-Hunt in Cumberland. Build was completed on 14th December 1940 and after acceptance she served with the 1st Destroyer Flotilla based at Portsmouth. Following a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in March 1942 she was adopted by the civil community of Keswick, then in Cumberland. .

 

B a t t l e   H o n o u r s

NORTH SEA 1941-45 - ENGLISH CHANNEL 1942-44 - SICILY 1943 - SALERNO 1943 - AEGEAN 1943 - NORMANDY 1944 - MEDITERRANEAN 1944

H e r a l d i c  D a t a

Badge: On a field Red a hunting horn and a crozier

in saltire, both Gold.

 

 

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 0

 

December              Contractors trials and commissioned for service with 1st Destroyer Flotilla

                14th        Build completion and commenced Acceptance trials

                                On completion of trials and storing carried out work-up for operational service.

 

1 9 4 1

 

January                  Joined Flotilla at Portsmouth for convoy defence and patrol in English Channel

 

February                Deployment based at Portsmouth in continuation.

to April                  (Note: Flotilla then included HM Destroyers CLEVELAND, TYNEDALE, FERNIE,

                                BERKELEY and ATHERSTONE all of this Class of Escort.)

 

May

                12th        Escorted HM Cruiser BERWICK with sister destroyer HMS BERKELEY during

                                passage from Portsmouth to Rosyth for completion of repair.

 

June                        Flotilla duties for convoy defence and patrol based at Portsmouth in continuation.

to December

 

1 9 4 2

 

January                  Deployment at Portsmouth with Flotilla in continuation

to February           (Note: Other ships in Flotilla were:

                                HM Destroyers BERKELEY, FERNIE, PUCKERIDGE and WHEATLAND

                                all of this Class.)

 

March                    Flotilla deployment based at Portsmouth.

                14th        Took part in operation to intercept Auxiliary Cruiser MICHEL (SCHIFF 28))

                                in English Channel. Sustained damage by return fire

                                (Note: This ship escaped and completed transit to Atlantic via Channel for

                                passage to Far East. After several sinkings she was sunk east of

                                Yokohama on 17 October 1942 by the US submarine USS TARPON.)

 

April                       Channel escort and patrol duties in continuation

to May

 

June

                18th        Under air attack during escort of Channel convoy and sustained damage by near

                                misses and cannon fire.

 

July                         Deployed in English Channel until transferred to 21st Destroyer Flotilla for escort

to December          of North Sea convoys between Thames and Forth Estuary, based at Sheerness

                                Joined sister destroyers HMS CATTISTOCK, COTTESMORE, FERNIE, GARTH,

                                HOLDERNESS, MENDIP, MEYNELL and PYTCHLEY.

 

1 9 4 3

 

January                  Sheerness deployment with 21st Flotilla in continuation.

to February

 

March                    Deployed for escort of Convoy FS1074 in North Sea

                28th        During escort of FS1074 under attack by E-Boats of 2nd German Flotilla which was

                                successfully driven off with HM Destroyer WARWICK in area of Smiths Knoll.

 

April                       Flotilla duties in North Sea in continuation.

 

May                        Nominated for transfer for escort and support of planned allied landings in Sicily

                                (Operation HUSKY)

                                Prepared for foreign service.

 

June                        Nominated for escort of military convoy to Gibraltar during passage from Clyde.

                                Passage to join joint military convoy WS31 to Middle East and KMF17 to Gibraltar.

                21st         Joined HM Cruiser UGANDA and HM Destroyers ARROW, BLANKNEY*, BRECON*,

                                BRISSENDEN*, HAMBLEDON*, LEDBURY*, MENDIP*, VICEROY, WALLACE,

                                WITHERINGTON and WOOLSTON as Ocean Escort for joint convoy during passage

                                in Atlantic.

                                (Note: Ships marked * were all HUNT Class.)

                26th        Detached from join convoy when Middle East and Gibraltar section divided and took

                                passage to Gibraltar with KMF17.

                                (Note: Escort for WS31 during onward passage to Freetown was provided by destroyers

                                from Gibraltar.)

 

July                         Joined 58th Destroyer Division, Mediterranean Fleet for escort of military convoys to

                                landing beaches in Sicily.

                                Carried out preparatory exercises for HUSKY.

                                Joined Support Force East for escort of assault convoy.

                9th          Took part in defence of assault convoys with other HUNT Class destroyers.

                10th        Deployed for escort of build-up convoys and patrol to intercept attack by E-Boats.

 

August                  On release from HUSKY deployed for convoy escort and patrol in central Mediterranean.

                                Nominated for escort and support of planned allied landings on Italian mainland at

                                Salerno (Operation AVALANCHE).

                                (Note: Extensive operations were carried out in Messina Strait including bombardment of

                                positions on mainland during the last week of this month.)

 

September

                9th          Took part in escort of assault convoys during passage and for patrol off beach head

                                during landings.

                                AVALANCHE deployment for escort and patrol during subsequent build-up.

 

October                  On release from AVALANCHE nominated for service in Eastern Mediterranean.

                                Passage to join naval units providing defence against enemy landings in Aegean islands

                                previously garrisoned by Italian forces.

                8th          Carried out search for invasion craft on passage with German troops for invasion.

                27th        Deployed as escort for HM Cruiser AURORA with HM Destroyers PATHFINDER

                                and sister ship HMS EXMOOR.

                                (Note: HMS AURORA was to relive HM Cruiser PHOEBE for interception patrols.)

 

November              Military support and interception patrol in continuation.

                                (Note: During night periods ship laid in Turkish coastal waters to avoid air attacks.)

                9th          Carried out interception patrol off Amorgas with HM Destroyers FURY and EXMOOR.

                13th        Sailed from Alexandria to Aegean to reinforce naval support to military.

                14th        Carried out bombardment of enemy positions in Alinda Bay, Leros with HM Destroyers

                                PENN and ALDENHAM.

                19th        Towed damaged destroyer HMS ROCKWOOD from Turkish waters to Alexandria.

                                (Note: HMS ROCKWOOD had been damaged after being hit by a Glider bomb during

                                support of military defence.

                                For details of the defence and later evacuation of the Aegean islands see WAR

                                IN THE AEGEAN by E Gray.)

 

December              Deployed in Eastern Mediterranean with 58th Division for convoy defence and anti-

                                submarine patrol based at Alexandria.

                                (Note: Ships in Division were HM Destroyers HAMBLEDON, BLANKNEY and

                                BRECON.)

 

1 9 4 4

 

January                  Transferred with ships of Division for deployment based in Malta.

                                (Note: Allied landings had been made at Anzio (Operation SHINGLE which had

                                involved a large proportion of warships based in Malta, with a consequent

                                reduction in availability of escort for convoy defence and patrol..)

 

February                Deployed for convoy defence and patrol in central Mediterranean including service

                                in support of SHINGLE convoys.

 

March                    SHINGLE support in continuation, based at Naples.

                9th          Deployed for anti-submarine operations.

                10th        Took part in sinking of U450 with HM Destroyers BLANKNEY, BRECON, EXMOOR

                                URCHIN and US destroyer USS MADISON in position 41.11N. 12.27E off Anzio.

                               51 of the crew were rescued by HMS URCHIN when the submarine was scuttled.

                                For details see HITLERíS U-BOAT WAR by C Blair and U-BOATS DESTROYED

                                by P Kemp.

                29th        Despatched with HM Destroyers HAMBLEDON and WILTON to assist HM Destroyers

                                LAFOREY, TUMULT and ULSTER in hunt for submarine which had been detected by

                                ASDIC equipment, north of Sicily.

                                Joined search operation on arrival.

                30th        Submarine identified as U223 forced to surface by series of sustained depth charge

                               attacks and attempted to escape under cover of darkness. Took part in gunfire

                               engagement with other ships during which U223 fired acoustic torpedo which hit and sank

                               HMS LAFOREY.

                                U223 sunk in position 38.54N. 14.18E after 27 hours under depth charge and HEDGEHOG

                                mortar attacks.

                                (Note: Only 69 of the complement of 258 survived the sinking of HMS LAFOREY and

                                23 of the 50 crew of U223 survived this engagement.

                                For details see above references.)

 

April                       Nominated for support of planned allied landings in Normandy.

                                Passage to UK to prepare for Operation NEPTUNE.

 

May                        Joined 21st Destroyer Flotilla based at Sheerness.

                                Took part in preparatory exercises for NEPTUNE.

                                For details of naval activities prior to and during NEPTUNE see LANDINGS IN

                                NORMANDY, June 1944 (HMSO) and OPERATION NEPTUNE by K Edwards.

                                (Note: Participation in Exercise FABIUS to be confirmed as this ship was to

                                be deployed in Escort Group 113 for escort of Build-Up Phase US military

                                convoy in SW Approaches.

 

June                        Deployed with HM Sloops HART and WHIMBREL, HM Frigates WHITTAKER

                                and WALDEGRAVE as EG113 and took passage to Milford Haven for escort of

                                Convoy EBP2 for passage to Western Task Force area with Pre-loaded US Division.

                4th          Operation delayed 24 hours.

                5th          Passage to position south of Isle of Wight as escort of EPB2.

                                (Note: HM Frigates SPRAGGE and STOCKHAM belonging to Escort Group 112

                                were also part of escort for EPB2)

                6th          Passage through swept channel to Beach Head,

                                Detached from EPB2 on arrival in Unloading anchorage and returned to Plymouth

                                for escort of military convoys.

                                Deployed for escort of Follow-up military convoys to landing areas.

                                (Note: Based at Plymouth with HMS HAMBLEDON and HMS MENDIP.)

                30th        Retained for service in English Channel on termination of NEPTUNE

 

July                         Channel deployment for patrol, convoy defence and support of military operations

                                in continuation.

 

August

                3rd          Carried out salvage operation on captured human torpedo but sustained damage when

                                its scuttling charge exploded during recovery.

                                (Note: Series of attacks was carried out on ships off French coast using this type of

                                weapon and recovery of any which were captured or found was of great

                                importance.

 

September             On release from service in support of military operations resumed convoy defence

to December          and patrol with 21st Flotilla at Sheerness

                                (Note: During this period extensive attacks were carried out by E-Boats, SCHNORKEL

                                and conventional submarines on traffic in Nore Command. As a result additional

                                escorts were transferred to Nore Command to supplement existing strength so

                                that North Sea convoys could be adequately escorted.

                                (For details see Naval Staff History, HOLD THE NARROW SEA by P Smith

                                and THE CAPTAIN CLASS FRIGATES by D Collingwood.)

 

1 9 4 5

 

January                  Flotilla deployment in Nore Command in continuation.

to May

 

June                        Remained in commission after VE Day and deployment with Flotilla for support

to July                    of re-occupation and visits to UK and European ports.

 

August

                15th        Sustained damage in collision with ss WILLOWDALE (see addenda) and taken in hand for repair.

 

P o s t   W a r   N o t e s

 

HMS BLENCATHRA remained in service after repair and was deployed for use as an Air Target Ship when her armament had been removed and the necessary modifications to suit this type of work had been made by HM Dockyard at Rosyth. The ship was then used for training of air crew in identification and attacks on ships at a station in the North Sea between October 1945 and June 1948. She Paid-off in July that year and was reduced to Reserve status. She was laid-up at Harwich until 1953 and the transferred to the Reserve Fleet Division at Barrow-in-Furness. A proposed sale to Norway never materialised in April 1950 and the ship was placed on the Disposal List in October 1956 with nine other HUNT Class destroyers. Sold to BISCO in 1956 she was towed to the breakerís yard at Barrow on 2nd January 1957 for demolition by T W Ward & Co.

 


 

Addenda

 

CONVOY ESCORT MOVEMENTS of HMS BLENCATHRA

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

 

 

 

 

 

16/11/42

16/11/42

CW 134

17/11/42

17/11/42

26/12/42

26/12/42

CW 144

27/12/42

29/12/42

27/12/42

27/12/42

CE 142

28/12/42

28/12/42

15/03/43

15/03/43

CW 163

16/03/43

16/03/43

16/03/43

16/03/43

CE 161

17/03/43

17/03/43

02/05/43

02/05/43

CW 175

03/05/43

03/05/43

03/05/43

03/05/43

CE 173

04/05/43

04/05/43

03/05/43

04/05/43

PW 333

05/05/43

05/05/43

18/06/43

26/06/43

KMF 017

27/06/43

27/06/43

13/06/43

02/07/43

UGS 010

06/07/43

10/07/43

28/06/43

07/07/43

KMF 018

10/07/43

11/07/43

05/07/43

unknown

MKF 017A

unknown

17/07/43

22/07/43

22/07/43

GUS 010X

25/07/43

13/08/43

12/07/43

30/07/43

UGS 012

07/08/43

10/08/43

29/07/43

30/07/43

KMS 021

07/08/43

10/08/43

03/12/43

unknown

XIF 005

unknown

09/12/43

05/12/43

21/12/43

UGS 026

25/12/43

30/12/43

20/01/44

20/01/44

SNF 013

22/01/44

22/01/44

28/02/44

28/02/44

VN 024

29/02/44

29/02/44

09/12/44

09/12/44

TAM 012

10/12/44

10/12/44

14/12/44

14/12/44

TAM 018

16/12/44

16/12/44

15/12/44

15/12/44

ATM 014

16/12/44

16/12/44

 

 

 

 

 

(Note on Convoys)

 


 

 

HMS BLENCATHRA, BROCKLESBY and LIDDESDALE - "ONE-OFF" TYPE II HUNTs?

by Jon Summers

(Editor's Notes:

 

1. HMS BLENCATHRA is listed above as a Type 1 Hunt by Lt Cdr Mason. HMS BROCKLESBY and LIDDESDALE are usually found grouped with BLENCATHRA, and were listed as Type II, but have been changed to Type I.

 

2. "Conways All the World's Fighting Ships 1922-46" lists the three as Type I; Lenton's "British and Empire Warships of the Second World War" includes them in the Type I section but prefaces their names with Type II, and then lists their details under Type II!)

Blencathra (Cammel Laird), Brocklesby (Cammel Laird) and Liddesdale (VA, Tyne) were all Type II Hunts, and were among the earlier builds, so the "two mount" layout in these ships is possibly either a "left over" from the Type I layout or the result of supply problems - one of the three mounts intended to be fitted on the Type I in the original Admiralty design was removed by the time the Type I's entered service, due to stability problems. The "beamier" hull of the Type II was no doubt part of the response to this problem. After the bulk of the Type II's had been completed with three 4in mounts, the Type III Hunts then returned to a "two mount" layout, but this is rather later, so is presumably a separate development (to enable them to carry a pair of torpedo tubes, not fitted in the earlier Types).

 

As for BLENCATHRA:

Hull dimensions were those of the slightly beamier Type II:

(Type I, 264.25 (pp), 280 (oa) x 29 x 7.75')

(Type II, 264.25 (pp), 282.5 (oa) x 31.5 x 7.75')

 

However, she is listed as having the Type I main armament:

(Type I, 2 x twin 4"; Type II, 3 x twin 4").

 

The lack of a third turret reduced her standard displacement to 1,000 tons

(Type I, 907 tons; Type II, 1,050 tons)

 

and also reduced standard complement to 146

(Type I, 146; Type II, 168)

 

(above data from Lenton & Colledge, "Warships of World War II")

The evolution of the Hunt class: 

1939 Estimates (ordered circa Mar/Apr 1939) - All Type I Hunts

1939 War Programme (ordered circa Sep 1939) - All Type II Hunts

1940 War Programme - All Type III Hunts

The two Type IV Hunts (to the Thornycroft design)

The date ordered in your records fits in with the above scheme, and your records also state she was built under the "1939 War Emergency Programme", all this again making her a Type II.

 


 

COLLISION of 15 AUGUST 1945

by Nigel Scott Collett

 

I have been unable to trace s.s. Willowdale in the 1945/6 Lloyds Register, although there are two vessels with similar names: 

Willodale, 1,777 gross tons, built 1909 and owned by Brommage Shipping Co Ltd of Cardiff 

 

Willowdale Park, WW2 Canadian Standard, 7,243 gross tons, built 1944 and owned by the Canadian Government (Managers: Park S.S. Co Ltd)

 

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