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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2000

HMS BICKERTON (K 466) - Captain-class Frigate
including Convoy Escort Movements

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Bickerton (Navy Photos, click to enlarge)

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CAPTAIN Class Turbo-Electric Buckley frigate ordered under the UK/US Lease-Lend Agreement on 10th January 1942 and laid down on 3rd May 1943 by the Bethlehem Steel †Shipyard at Hingham, Massachusetts USA. The ship which had been intended for US Navy service as USS EISELE (DE75), was launched on 24th July 1943. She was the first RN ship to commemorate the service of Sir Richard Bickerton who was captain of the 3rd Rate TERRIBLE at the Battle of Ushant in 1779. Build completion date was 17th October 1943 when she was commissioned for RN use. This ship was not adopted by a civil community in UK in 1941-42 after a National Savings WARSHIP WEEK campaign. Details of manning arrangements made for commissioning of this Class of warship in the USA are given in THE CAPTAIN† CLASS FRIGATES IN WW2 by D Collingwood.


B a t t l e    H o n o u r s




B a d g e

None is recorded in the Official List of Heraldic Crests.

(Note: Many ships built during WW2 had an unofficial

crest but these were never given formal approval.)



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 3


October                  Contractor's Trials

                17th        Build completion and commissioned for RN service

                                Commenced Acceptance Trials

                                Commanding Officer: Lieutenant E M Thorpe RN


November              On completion of local trials and shakedown took passage to Bermuda to work-up

                                for operational service

                                Carried out sea work-up and shore training at Bermuda.


December              Deployed at Bermuda for work-up.


1 9 4 4


January                  Passage to St Johns Newfoundland.

                17th        Sailed from St Johns as part of escort for Convoy HX275.

                                On arrival in Clyde detached and took passage to Belfast.


February                Under modification to suit RN requirements for deployment.

                                (Note: In addition to changes made to equipment fit some other alterations were

                                made to domestic arrangements. These including change to RN Canteen

                                Messing instead of the US Navy Cafeteria System and replacement of steel

                                furniture by wooden items which is quite astounding. Equipment changes

                                included improvement of Depth Charge allowances and stowage, improvement

                                of the Sonar (ASDIC) equipment and to communications facilities.)

                                Shipís Company were given leave during the refit.


March                    Allocated for service as Senior Officerís ship 5th Escort Group

                                based at Liverpool with sister Ships AYLMER, BLIGH, KEATS,

                                KEMPTHORNE and GOODSON.

                                New Commanding Officer: Commander D Macintyre, DSO** RN

                                and SO EG5.

                                On completion of modifications deployed with ships of Group for

                                exercises in NW Approaches prior to operational service.

                                (Note: Commander Macintyre had achieved great distinction as a U-Boat Killer , His

                                experiences as SO EG5 are recorded in his book - U-BOAT KILLER)


April                       Returned to Belfast on completion of exercises.

                21st         Sailed from Belfast to join escort for Convoy ONS233 during

                                passage to St Johns with ships of Group.

                                (For details of defence of Atlantic convoys and the enemy U-Boat deployments against

                                Atlantic shipping see THE BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC by D Macintyre (SO EG4)

                                and U-BOAT WAR IN THE ATLANTIC (HMSO).)

                26th        Detached from ONS233 and took passage to join HM Escort Aircraft Carrier VINDEX

                                and 9th Escort Group (RCN) in search operation for U-Boats which were deployed in

                                NW Approaches for weather reporting.


May                        Joined HMS VINDEX.

                2nd         Deployed in search operations.

                                (Note: Extensive use was made of Radio Direction Finding equipment to establish

                                bearings of wireless signals made by submarines and thus to locate their position.

                                For details of tactics and weapons used in this type of operation see SEEK AND

                                STRIKE by W Hackmann and THE BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC by

                                D Macintyre).

                3rd          Commenced search operations with ships of Group after the

                                detection of wireless transmissions.

                6th          Deployed with HMS KEATS, HMS AYLMER and HMS BLIGH

                                in hunt for submarine sighted by aircraft from HMS VINDEX.

                                Submarine located and carried out control of attacks by HMS BLIGH during which

                                U765 forced to surface and then engaged by 3in armament with little success.

                                Surfaced submarine sunk by SWORDFISH aircraft of 825 Sqdn from HMS VINDEX

                                in position 52.30N 28.28W. See U-BOATS DESTROYED by P Kemp..

                                Rescued eight survivors from U765.

                                (Note: Credit for this sinking was shared by the three frigates and 825 Squadron.

                                Commander Macintyre awarded DSC.)

                7th          Deployed with ships of Group in search for U-Boat believed

                                to be on passage as relief for U765.

                8th          Submarine detected and attacked by ships of Group without


                9th          Released from operations because of low fuel state and took return passage to Belfast

                                On arrival prepared for deployment in support of planned allied landings in Normandy.

                                (Operation NEPTUNE - For details of naval activities prior to and during landings see

                                LANDINGS IN NORMANDY, June 1944 (HMSO) and OPERATION NEPTUNE by K


                31st         Deployed in Molfre Bay to await support duties.


June                        Passage to commence interception patrol in SW Approaches

                                with Group to deny access to Channel by submarines for attack on invasion operations.

                                (Note: Other Ships of Group deployed were HM Frigates AYLMER, BLIGH,

                                GOODSON, KEATS and HM Frigate MOUNSEY as replacement for HMS

                                KEMPTHORNE which was under repair.)

                                Patrol carried out between Ushant and Cornish coast.

                9th          Patrol line transferred and established between Cherbourg

                                Peninsular and Portland Bill.

                10th        Transferred to Plymouth Command and continued patrol duty.

                15th        HMS MOURNE in company hit by homing torpedo from SCHNORKEL fitted U767

                                and sank rapidly after forward magazine exploded.

                                Only 12 of the 180 on board survived. (D Kindell and other sources - 110 lost)

                                Carried out anti-submarine operations to locate U767 which were unsuccessful.

                                (Note: U767 was sunk on 18th by ships of 14th Escort Group. See above reference.

                25th        During patrol off Start Point detected submarine which was attacked by depth charges

                                and forced to surface.

                                Crew of U269 abandoned the submarine which was engaged by 3in gunfire with little

                                effect but sank quickly in position 50.01N 2.59W.

                                (Note: 39 survivors were rescued although some died from their injuries and were buried

                                during passage to Plymouth.)

                27th        Resumed patrol deployment in Channel with Group.


July                         Released from Plymouth Command and returned to Belfast.

                                Nominated for detached service in Home Fleet with Group for escort of Fleet units

                                during planned attacks by Fleet aircraft carriers on German battleship TIRPITZ in

                                Altenfjord, Norway (Operation GOODWOOD) and cover for transit of Russian convoys.

                                (For details of Russian convoy operations and attacks on TIRPITZ, see CONVOYS TO

                                RUSSIA by RA Ruegg, THE RUSSIAN CONVOYS by B Schoefield, CONVOY! by P

                                Kemp and ARCTIC CONVOYS by R Woodman.)



                12th        Took passage to Scapa Flow from Belfast.

                13th        At Scapa Flow.

                                (Note: Other Home Fleet ships involved in GOODWOOD included HM Battleship

                                DUKE OF YORK, HM Aircraft Carriers INDEFATIGABLE, FORMIDABLE

                                FURIOUS, NABOB and TRUMPETER, HM Cruisers DEVONSHIRE and

                                BERWICK with 14 Fleet destroyers.

                15th        Deployed as screen for HM Escort Aircraft Carriers NABOB and TRUMPETER and

                                took passage to position 50 miles north of North Cape for launch of aircraft.

                22nd       Arrived in position and on completion of air operations withdrew away from coast to

                                refuelling position.

                                HMS NABOB hit by homing torpedo fired by U354 and two minutes later BICKERTON

                                also hit in stern structure by second torpedo from same submarine salvo.

                                Extensive damage caused with 38 killed and many seriously injured some of whom

                                were taken on board HMS KEMPTHORNE.

                                Ship disabled due to loss of propeller shafts and abandoned.

                                Ordered to be sunk in view of threat of further attacks during attempts to establish tow,

                                and torpedoed by HM Destroyer VIGILANT after survivors rescued by HMS BLIGH

                                and HMS AYLMER of Group.

                                (Casualty List - note on casualties)

                                (Note: U 354 was sunk on 24th August by HM Sloops MERMAID and PEACOCK,

                                HM Frigate LOCH DUNVEGAN and HM Destroyer KEPPEL when carrying

                                out an attack on Russian Convoy JW59 in same area. See HITLERíS

                                U-BOAT WAR, Volume 2 by C Blair.)

                                HMS VIGILANT used three torpedoes before BICKERTON sank.






by Don Kindell


These convoy lists have not been cross-checked with the text above






Date convoy


Joined convoy

as escort

Convoy No.

Left convoy

Date convoy









HX 275





ON 233








(Note on Convoys)


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revised 29/5/11
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