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SERVICE HISTORIES of ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS in WORLD WAR 2

by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 1995

HMS WREN (ii) (U 48) - Modified Black Swan-class Sloop 
including Convoy Escort Movements

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

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BLACK SWAN-Class Sloop ordered from William Denny of Dumbarton under the 1940 Build Programme as Job No 1260 (Yard No 1360) on 13th April 1940. She was laid down on 27th February 1941 and launched on 11th August 1942 by the Director of the Women's Royal Naval Service, Dame Vera Laughton-Mathews. This ship was the fourth RN ship to carry the name which had been introduced in 1653. It had previously been used by a destroyer sunk in an air attack off Aldeburgh on 27th July 1940. Build was completed on 4th February 1943 and the ship had been adopted after a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in February 1942 by the civil community of Knutsford and Northwich, Cheshire. For very obvious reasons this ship was held in great regard by the Womenís Royal Naval Service and they maintained a great interest in all her activities during WW2.

 

B a t t l e   H o n o u r s

ATLANTIC 1939-40* - NORWAY 1940* - ATLANTIC  1943-45 - BISCAY 1943-44 - NORMANDY 1944 - ARCTIC 1944

(* Awarded to ship lost in 1940)

H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field Blue, a Wren on a branch, all Gold.

 

M o t  t o

Ex parvulis magna: 'From small things develop great'

 

 

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

 

January                  Contractors trials

 

February                Commissioned for service in 2nd Escort Group

                                (Note: This Group was commanded by the renowned Captain F J Walker the most

                                distinguished of all U-Boat Ďkillersí during WW2.

                                For details see RELENTLESS PURSUIT by D E Weymss.)

                4th          Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials

                                On completion of trials and storing took passage to Tobermory for work-up.

                                (Note: Captain Walker also conducted exercises with all newly joined ships to his command.)

 

March

                5th          Joined 2nd Escort Group which was deployed as a Support Group and deployed for support of

                                convoys under threat of attacks and to supplement escort of other Atlantic convoys.

                16th        Deployed with HM Sloop WOODPECKER for escort of joint military convoy KMF11 to

                                Gibraltar and WS28 to Freetown and joined HM Destroyers BADSWORTH, DOUGLAS,

                                EGGESFORD, GOATHLAND, WHADDON and Polish destroyer ORP KRAKOWIAK in Clyde.

                21st         Detached from joint convoy when KMF11 as escort for passage to Gibraltar.

                24th        Resumed Atlantic support and convoy defence duties with Group.

                                For details of anti-submarine operations in defence and support of convoys in the Atlantic see

                                U-BOAT WAR IN THE ATLANTIC (HMSO), THE BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC by D

                                Macintyre, CONVOY ESCORT COMMANDER by P Gretton and HITLERíS U-BOAT WAR

                                by C Blair.).

 

April                       Deployed with Group in support of passage of convoys in Atlantic and based at Liverpool.

 

May                        Supported transit of Convoy ONS8 and HX 240.

 

June                        Transferred with Group to Devonport to take part in joint offensive with RAF Coastal

                                Command against U-Boats crossing Bay of Biscay on passage to and from Atlantic

                                (Operations MUSKETRY and SEASLUG.)

                                (For details see BATTLE OVER THE BAY by N Franks).

                                Deployed with HM Sloops STARLING, WILD GOOSE, KITE and WOODPECKER.

                                (Note: Cover against interference by German surface warships was provided by HM Cruiser

                                SCYLLA.)

                14th        Rescued survivors from U607 sunk on 13th by Sunderland of 228 Squadron RAF.

                24th        Sank U449 with HM Sloops WILD GOOSE, KITE and WOODPECKER in position 45.00 N

                                11.59 W with no survivors.

 

July                         Bay of Biscay operations in continuation.

                13th        Rescued survivors from U607 sunk by Sunderland aircraft of 228 Squadron RAF and landed

                                them at Plymouth.

                30th        Sank U504 with HM Sloops WILD GOOSE, KITE and WOODPECKER in position 45.33 N

                                10.47 W with no survivors.

                                (For details of all U-Boat sinkings, see U-BOATS DESTROYED by P Kemp and HITLERíS

                                U-BOAT WAR.)

 

August

                1st           Rescued six of crew of Sunderland from 10 Squadron RAAF which had been forced to ditch

                                after being damaged during attacks which sank U454

 

September             Bay of Biscay operations in continuation

                                Increased enemy air support for U-Boats on passage was being provided and ship came under

                                several sustained attacks. See references above.

                21st         Returned to Liverpool with Group after end of fifth patrol.

 

October                  Withdrawn from operations for refit at Avonmouth.

                15th        Taken in hand for refit.

 

November              Under refit.

 

December

                15th        On completion worked-up at Tobermory for further convoy escort duty.

 

1 9 4 4

 

January                  Rejoined Group and deployed in support role south of Iceland against U Ė Boat assemblies for

                                attacks on convoys.

 

February                Deployed west of Ireland with Group.

                7th          Supported merged Convoy SL147/MKS38 under threat from IGEL group.

                15th        Deployed to reinforce 3rd British Escort Group escorting Convoy HX278 north of the Azores

                                through area under threat by known assembly of U-Boats.

                                (See HITLERíS U-BOAT WAR.)

                17th        Transferred to join 7th Escort Group in defence of Convoy ON224 under attacks by HAI group

                                of U-Boats.

                                During the anti-submarine operations which lasted for two days H M S WOODPECKER and

                                HMS STARLING sank U264, the first SCHNORKEL-fitted U-Boat.

                                (For additional details of development and use of weapons see SEEK AND STRIKE by W

                                Hackmann, RADAR AT SEA by D Hawse and above references.)

 

March                    Transferred with Group for duty with Home Fleet In defence of Russian Convoys.

                29th        Joined Russian Convoy JW58 escort with HM Sloops MAGPIE, WILD GOOSE, STARLING

                                and WHIMBREL of to supplement A/S defence during passage to Kola Inlet.

                                Sank U961 which was on independent passage to Atlantic in position 64.31 N 03.19 W with

                                no survivors.

                                (Note: This convoy included USS MILWAUKEE being handed over to Russian Navy.

                                For details of all Russian Convoy operations see CONVOYS TO RUSSIA by RA Ruegg,

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

                                CONVOYS by R Woodman.)

 

April

                2nd         U-boat attacks by THOR, BLITZ and HAMMER groups which lasted till 3rd were

                                unsuccessful.

                4th          Detached from JW58.

                7th          Provided A/S support for returning Convoy RA58 with ships of Group, four Fleet destroyers

                                and two corvettes.

                14th        Detached from RA58 after uninterrupted passage on arrival at Loch Ewe.

 

May                        Deployed with Group and A/S aircraft from HM Escort Carrier VINDEX for escort and support

                                of Atlantic convoys.

                5th          Sank U473 with HMS STARLING and WS WILD GOOSE in position 49.29N 21.22W after

                                U-Boat wireless signals detected and revealed bearing of submarine.

 

June                        Nominated for duty in support of allied landings in Normandy.

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

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

                                and D-DAY SHIPS by J de Winser for information about all mercantiles and warships

                                involved.)

                4th          Deployed with HMS STARLING and HMS WILD GOOSE in Western Approaches to carry out

                                anti-submarine operations to prevent U-Boat attacks against invasion convoys.

                27th        On released from NEPTUNE operations returned to Liverpool.

 

July

                8th          Resumed escort and support duty in SW Approaches with Group.

 

August

                10th        Sank U608 with LIBERATOR of 53 Squadron RAF in position 46.30N 03.08W during passage

                                back to Liverpool at end of patrol.

                                Nominated for refit

 

September             Under refit at Falmouth.

 

October                  On completion of post refit trials deployed in SW Approaches for support and escort of

                                coastal convoys against attacks by SCHNORKEL fitted U-Boats.

                                (See ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by C Barnett and above references.)

                20th        Taken in hand for refit in Humber shipyard

 

November              Under refit

to                            Allocated for duty with 22nd Escort Group. December

December

 

1 9 4 5

 

January

                27th        On completion of post refit trials joined Group for escort and support duty in SW Approaches

 

February                Deployed with HM Sloops HART, AMETHYST, MAGPIE, PEACOCK and HM Frigate LOCH

to                            CRAGGIE for convoy defence in SW Approaches and Irish Sea.

March                    Nominated for service in British Pacific Fleet after refit.

 

April                       Under refit at commercial shipyard in Cardiff.

 

May                        Based at Rosyth for convoy defence in North Sea.
                10th        Prepared for foreign service at Rosyth.

 

June                        Deployed at Rosyth

to

July

 

August                  Service in Pacific cancelled.

  

P o s t   W a r   N o t e s

 

HMS WREN Paid-off and was reduced to Reserve status after the end of hostilities and was brought, forward in 1946 and re-commissioned for service in the Persian Gulf. The ship continued duties in the Middle East until 1955 with refits in Malta and Colombo during that period. She returned to finally Pay off at Portsmouth in June 1955. Placed on the Disposal List she was sold to BISCO for demolition by Shipbreaking Industries at Charlestown and towed to the Forth. The ship arrived at the breakers yard on 2nd February 1956.

 


 

Addendum

 

CONVOY ESCORT MOVEMENTS of HMS WREN

by Don Kindell

 

This convoy list has not been cross-checked with the text above

 

 

 

 

 

Date convoy sailed

Joined convoy as escort

Convoy No.

Left convoy

Date convoy arrived

 

 

 

 

 

15/03/43

15/03/43

KMF 011

23/03/43

23/03/43

25/03/43

26/03/43

MKF 011

05/04/43

05/04/43

24/04/43

01/05/43

HX 236

05/05/43

09/05/43

07/05/43

12/05/43

ONS 007

21/05/43

25/05/43

26/05/43

29/05/43

SC 132

11/06/43

11/06/43

22/09/43

30/09/43

HX 258

02/10/43

06/10/43

13/01/44

13/01/44

TU 006

14/01/44

24/01/44

06/01/44

18/01/44

HX 274

20/01/44

21/01/44

12/01/44

21/01/44

SL 145MK

22/01/44

24/01/44

24/01/44

25/01/44

ON 221

25/01/44

11/02/44

30/01/44

04/02/44

ON 222

05/02/44

16/02/44

02/02/44

07/02/44

SL 147MK

12/02/44

13/02/44

05/02/44

14/02/44

HX 278

17/02/44

20/02/44

14/02/44

18/02/44

ON 224

19/02/44

02/03/44

13/03/44

17/03/44

ONS 031

19/03/44

30/03/44

27/03/44

29/03/44

JW 058

04/04/44

04/04/44

07/04/44

07/04/44

RA 058

14/04/44

14/04/44

29/09/44

30/09/44

ONS 033

02/10/44

14/10/44

14/10/44

15/10/44

ONS 034

17/10/44

01/11/44

29/10/44

30/10/44

ONS 035

01/11/44

15/11/44

05/02/45

06/02/45

ON 283

unknown

27/02/45

06/02/45

07/02/45

OS 109KM

09/02/45

10/02/45

07/02/45

unknown

HX 337

unknown

21/02/45

23/02/45

unknown

HX 340

unknown

10/03/45

28/02/45

unknown

HX 341

unknown

15/03/45

         

(Note on Convoys)

 

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