Allied Warships

HMS Leamington (G 19)

Destroyer of the Town class

NavyThe Royal Navy
PennantG 19 
Built byNew York Shipbuilding Corp. (Camden, New Jersey, U.S.A.) 
Laid down23 Jan 1918 
Launched28 Sep 1918 
Commissioned23 Oct 1940 
End service16 Jun 1944 

Turned over to the Royal Navy on 23 October 1940 the flush-decker became HMS Leamington (G.19), with Comdr. W. E. Banks, holder of the Distinguished Service Order in command. She shifted to St. John's, Newfoundland, whence she departed on 4 November as part of the 4th "Town" Flotilla, bound for the British Isles. En route to Belfast, Northern Ireland, she and her sister ships passed through the scene of the action fought on the 5th by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Jervis Bay, in defense of the homeward-bound Convoy HX-84, against the German "pocket battleship" Admiral Scheer. Jervis Bay's gallant delaying action enabled 32 of the 37 ships in the convoy to escape, although she herself was sunk in the action. Leamington searched for survivors but could find no signs of life.

Proceeding via Belfast, Northern Ireland, Leamington arrived at Plymouth, England, on 15 November. There, the destroyer was allocated to the 2d Escort Group, Western Approaches Command, based at Londonderry. She conducted convoy escort missions across the Atlantic into 1941. While in the screen of Convoy SC-48 as it was being attacked by German U-boats for more than a week Leamington teamed with the destroyer HMS Veteran in sinking U-207 off the east coast of Greenland on 11 September.

On 27 March 1942, Leamington added another "kill" to her record when she and three other destroyers sent U-587 to the bottom as the U-boat threatened Middle East-bound troop convoy WS-27. That summer, as the flush decker steamed toward North Russia in the screen of the ill-fated convoy, PQ-17, the powerful German battleship Tirpitz was reported on the prowl. Since the massed convoy would present too easy pickings for such a powerful adversary, the ships were scattered. However, such tactics exposed the Allied ships to the attacks of German U-boats and aircraft. As a result, 23 of the 34 ships in PQ-17 were sunk. No other Russian convoy during the entire war suffered so severely.

Leamington was refitted at Hartlepool, England, between August and November 1942 and then resumed convoy escort missions in the Atlantic. On 12 November, the Panamian registry merchantman SS Buchanan was torpedoed by U-224. Thirteen days later, Leamington, assisted by aircraft, located the last of the freighter's four lifeboats and took aboard its 17 uninjured sailors.

In October 1942, the Royal Navy transferred Leamington to the Royal Canadian Navy, who employed her in the defense of shipping in the western Atlantic over the next 14 months. She experienced extremely bad weather, with extensive icing conditions, while operating in the North Atlantic in late 1942 and early 1943. At one point, the ship reached Halifax after a severe gale on 22 January 1943, coated from bridge to foc'sle deck with ice varying from 2 to 10 feet thick.

On 14 May 1943, Leamington collided with USS Albatross (AM-71) and was docked at Halifax for repairs but managed to be seaworthy again by the end of the month. She then sailed south to Norfolk, which she reached on 27 June, and underwent permanent repairs there until September.

Departing Halifax on 22 December, Leamington returned to the British Isles and reverted to Royal Navy control. After a period of service based at Rosyth, Scotland, the flush-deck destroyer was placed in reserve at the Tyne. However, on 16 June 1944, the British loaned the ship to the Russians, who renamed her Zguchij. She served under the Russian flag through 1949 and was returned to Great Britain in 1950. She was subsequently broken up for scrap at Newport, Wales, on 26 July 1951.

Former nameUSS Twiggs (DD 127)
Career notesto Soviet Union as USSR Zguchij

Commands listed for HMS Leamington (G 19)

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1Cdr. William Eric Banks, DSC, RN23 Oct 1940Feb 1941
2Lt.Cdr. Harold Godfrey Bowerman, RNFeb 194114 Apr 1942
3Lt. Brian Mortimer Duncan I'Anson, RN14 Apr 194231 Aug 1942
4Lt. Chistopher Godfrey de Lisle Bush, RN31 Aug 1942Jun 1944

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Notable events involving Leamington include:

This vessel was restored from the scrap heap to play the part of HMS Ballantrae in the 1952 film "Gift Horse" directed by Compton Bennett and starring Trevor Howard and Richard Attenborough. A film in the tradition of "In which we serve" and broadly based on the WW2 St Nazaire raid which involved similar vessel HMS Campbelltown (1)

15 Feb 1941
HMS H 44 (Lt. A.R. Hezlet, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Scimitar (Lt. R.D. Franks, OBE, RN) and HMS Leamington (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Bowerman, RN). (2)

27 May 1941
HMS Leamington (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Bowerman, RN) collides with the Norwegian merchant Thyra (1655 GRT, offsite link) in the North Atlantic in position 52°25'N, 19°22'W. The Thyra sank and the 20 survivors (out of a crew of 24) were rescued by the Leamington, this ship having received only minor damages.

6 Sep 1941
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Douglas (Cdr. W.E. Banks, DSC, RN), HMS Skate (Lt. F.P. Baker, DSC, RN), HMS Leamington (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Bowerman, RN), HMS Chelsea (Lt.Cdr. A.F.C. Layard, RN) and HMS Caldwell (Lt.Cdr. E.M. Mackay, RNR). (3)

11 Sep 1941
German U-boat U-207 was sunk in the Denmark Strait south-east of Angmassalik, Greenland, in position 63°59'N, 34°48'W, by depth charges from the British destroyers HMS Leamington (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Bowerman, RN) and HMS Veteran (Cdr. W.E.J. Eames, RN).

2 Nov 1941
HMS H 44 (Lt. A.C.G. Mars, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Leamington (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Bowerman, RN) and aircraft. (4)

22 Nov 1941
HMS H 34 (Lt. W.A. Phillimore, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle together with HMS Douglas (Cdr. W.E. Banks, DSC, RN), HMS Skate (Lt. F.P. Baker, DSC, RN) and HMS Leamington (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Bowerman, RN). (5)

9 Mar 1942
HMS H 33 (Lt. M.E. Faber, RN) and HMS H 43 (Lt. F.D.G. Challis, DSC, RN) departed Londonderry for Rothesay. They were escorted by HMS Leamington (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Bowerman, RN). (6)

14 Mar 1942
HMS H 50 (Lt. H.B. Turner, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Volunteer (Lt. A.S. Pomeroy, RN), HMS Wanderer (Lt.Cdr. D.H.P. Gardiner, DSC, RN), HMS Leamington (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Bowerman, RN), HMS Badsworth (Lt. G.T.S. Gray, DSC, RN) and aircraft. (7)

27 Mar 1942
On 27 March 1942 German U-boat U-587 was sunk in position 47°21'N, 21°39'W by depth charges by the British escort destroyers HMS Grove (Lt.Cdr. J.W. Rylands, RN) and HMS Aldenham (Lt. H.A. Stuart-Menteth, RN) and the British destroyers HMS Volunteer (Lt. A.S. Pomeroy, RN) and HMS Leamington (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Bowerman, RN) of the 2nd Escort Group, escorting the troop convoy WS-17. The U-boat was found after a HF/DF fix by the British destroyer HMS Keppel (Cdr. J.E. Broome, RN).

22 May 1942
HMS H 28 (Lt. J.S. Bridger, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Beagle (Cdr. R.C. Medley, RN), HMS Scarborough (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Carnduff, RN), HMS Sandwich (Lt.Cdr. H. Hill, RD, RNR), HMS Leamington (Lt. B.M.D. I'Anson, RN), HMS Sardonyx (Lt.Cdr. A.F.C. Gray, RNR), HMS Columbine T/Lt. A.L. Turner, RNR) and HMS Vanessa (Lt. C.E. Sheen, RN). (8)

20 Nov 1942
HMS Leamington picks up 17 survivors from the Panamanian merchant Buchanan that was torpedoed and sunk on 12 November 1942 in the North Atlantic in position 52°06'N, 25°54'W by German U-boat U-224.

3 Dec 1942
HMS H 34 (Lt. G.M. Noll, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Burnham (Lt.Cdr. T. Taylor, DSC, RN), HMS Watchman (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Rodgers, RN), HMS Leamington (Lt. C.G.deL. Bush, RN), HMCS Prescott (Lt. W. McIsaac, RCNVR) and HMS Monkshood (Lt. G.W. McGuiness, RNR). (9)

Media links

British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman

Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.


  1. Personal communication
  2. ADM 173/16780
  3. ADM 173/16742
  4. ADM 173/16787
  5. ADM 173/16766
  6. ADM 173/17247
  7. ADM 173/17271
  8. ADM 173/17201
  9. ADM 173/17244

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.

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