Allied Warships

HMS Vesper (D 55)

Destroyer of the Admiralty V & W class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassAdmiralty V & W 
PennantD 55 
ModLong range escort 
Built byA. Stephen & Sons Ltd. (Glasgow, Scotland) 
Ordered30 Jun 1916 
Laid down27 Dec 1916 
Launched15 Dec 1917 
Commissioned20 Feb 1918 
End service 
History

Reconstruction to Long Range Escort finished in September 1943.

HMS Vesper is not listed as active unit in the July 1945 Navy list

Sold to be broken up for scrap on 4 March 1947.

 

Commands listed for HMS Vesper (D 55)

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CommanderFromTo
1Lt.Cdr. William Frederick Eyre Hussey, RN31 Jul 193924 Feb 1941
2Lt. Peter William Furneaux Stubbs, RN24 Feb 194114 May 1942
3Lt. Douglas Henry Reid Bromley, RN14 May 1942early 1943

4Lt.Cdr. John Malcolm Rodgers, RN8 May 19431 Apr 1944
5Lt.Cdr. Vernon Dudley Ravenscroft, RN1 Apr 1944mid 1945

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Notable events involving Vesper include:


14 Feb 1940
HMS Whitshed (Cdr E.R. Conder, RN) and HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN) together pick up 72 survivors from the British merchant Sultan Star that was torpedoed and sunk southwest of the Scilly Isles in position 48°54'N, 10°03'W by German U-boat U-48.

4 Mar 1940
After repairs to her after hydroplanes and a period of trials and training in Loch Long, HMS Tetrarch (Lt.Cdr. R.G. Mills, RN) departed Greenock for Portsmouth. She is escorted by HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN). (1)

1 Jul 1940
HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. W.E.F. Hussey, DSC, RN) and HMS Windsor (Cdr. P.D.H.R. Pelly, RN) together pick up 111 survivors from the British merchant Beignon that was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-30 about 300 nautical miles west of Ushant in position 47°20'N, 10°30'W.

5 Nov 1940

Hunt for the German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer after the attack on convoy HX 84.

Timespan: 5 October to 23 October 1940.

In response to the attack on convoy HX 84 by the German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer the Admiralty acted quickly.

The battlecruisers HMS Hood (Capt. I.G. Glennie, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Repulse (Capt. W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), light cruisers HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN), HMS Bonaventure (Capt. H.J. Egerton, RN) and the destroyers HMS Somali (Capt. C. Caslon, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. St. J.A. Micklethwait, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Mashona (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Matabele (Cdr. R.St.V. Sherbrooke, DSO, RN), HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN) and HMS Electra (Lt.Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN) departed Scapa Flow at 2330/5 to proceed to the last reported position of the German pocket battleship 52°50'N, 32°15'W at 2003/5.

At 1050/6 the force split up; HMS Hood, HMS Naiad, HMS Phoebe, HMS Somali, HMS Eskimo and HMS Punjabi proceeded to patrol off the Bay of Biscay to cover the approaches to Brest and Lorient.

HMS Repulse, HMS Bonaventure, HMS Mashona, HMS Matabele and HMS Electra towards the Admiral Scheer's last known position.

At 0700/6 the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN, flying the flag of Admiral of the Fleet C.M. Forbes, GCB, DSO, RN) and HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN), light cruiser HMS Southampton (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN) and the destroyers HMS Cossack (Capt. P.L. Vian, DSO, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr. H.T. Armstrong, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN), HMS Douglas (Cdr.(Retd.) J.G. Crossley, RN), HMS Keppel (Lt. R.J. Hanson, RN) and HMS Vimy (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN) departed Scapa Flow to cover the patrols in the Iceland-Faroes Channel.

Shortly before midnight during the night of 6/7 November HMS Rodney was detached to escort to escort convoy HX 83 and once this convoy was safe, HX 85 from Halifax.

Three armed merchant cruisers, which were on patrol were recalled to port on the 8th. These were HMS Chitral (Capt.(Retd.) G. Hamilton, RN), which was to the northwest of Iceland and HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, RAN) and HMS Worcestershire (A/Capt. J. Creswell, RN), which were to the south of Iceland. The light cruiser HMS Southampton was ordered to take over the place of HMS Chitral. She split off from HMS Nelson at 1600/8. HMS Worcestershire joined HMS Nelson and her escorting destroyers around 1500/9.

There were also the destroyers HMS Churchill (Cdr.(Retd.) G.R. Cousins, RN), HMS Lewes (Lt.Cdr. J.N.K. Knight, RN), HMS Lincoln (Cdr. A.M. Sheffield, RN) and HMS Ludlow (Cdr. G.B. Sayer, RN). They were en-route to the U.K. and had departed Halifax on 31 October and refuelled at St. Johns on 3 November. After receiving distress signals from ships in convoy HX 84 they rushed to the reported location. The only thing they found was an empty lifeboat. They then continued their Atlantic crossing and arrived at Londonderry on 9 November.

The destroyer HMS Stanley (A/Lt.Cdr. R.B. Stannard, VC, RNR) had departed Halifax on 1 November and St. Johns on 5 November. Now she and the Canadian destroyer HMCS St.Francis (Lt.Cdr. H.F. Pullen, RCN) escorted convoy HX 85, which had been recalled, back to Nova Scotia.

On 8 November, after machinery defects had been repaired, the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia (Capt. R.R. Stewart, RN) departed the Clyde to protect convoys.

The battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt C.E.B. Simeon, RN) and the destroyers HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN) and HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN) departed Gibraltar at 0500/6 to provide cover for convoys HG 46 and SL 53.

At 1225/6, off Cape St Vincent, the submarine HMS Utmost (Lt. J.H. Eaden, DSC, RN) was identified as enemy by HMS Encounter which then rammed the submarine which was en-route to Gibraltar. HMS Encounter was escorted to Gibraltar by HMS Forester. They arrived at 0800/7.

On 11 November, HMAS Australia relieved Renown from covering convoy HG 46 and Renown arrived back at Gibraltar on the 12th.

Aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Despatch (Capt. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Verity (Cdr. R.H. Mills, RN), HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN) and HMS Windsor (Lt.Cdr. G.P. Huddart, RN) departed the Clyde on 7 November for Gibraltar and were also ordered to keep a look out for the German pocket battleship. The destroyers were later detached; HMS Windsor around 0100/9 and HMS Verity and HMS Vesper around 0600/9. HMS Despatch was detached at 1000/13 and proceeded to Gibraltar where she arrived at the next day. Shortly before HMS Despatch was detached the destroyers HMS Wishart (Cdr. E.T. Cooper, RN) and HMS Wrestler (Lt. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) had joined followed later in the day by HMS Vidette (Lt. E.N. Walmsley, RN). HMS Argus, HMS Vidette, HMS Wishart and HMS Wrestler arrived at Gibraltar very late on the 14th.

Battlecruiser HMS Repulse escorted by the destroyers HMS Matabele and HMS Electra arrived at Scapa Flow for refuelling around 1100/11.

Light cruiser HMS Bonaventure and destroyer HMS Mashona arrived at Scapa Flow around 1130/11 for refuelling.

Battlecruiser HMS Hood, light cruisers HMS Naiad, HMS Phoebe and the destroyers HMS Somali, HMS Eskimo and HMS Punjabi returned to Scapa Flow around 1400/11 for refuelling. HMS Eskimo had suffered weather damage to her asdic dome and had some forecastle deck plates buckled. She was docked for repairs in the floating drydock at Scapa Flow from 13 to 16 November.

After fuelling HMS Bonaventure departed Scapa Flow at 2300/11 to continue to search for survivors from convoy HX 84. Armed merchant cruiser HMS Chitral was also back at sea to search for survivors. She had departed from Reykjavik, Iceland around 2330/10.

HMS Bonaventure returned to Scapa Flow on the 19th with weather damage.

The armed merchant cruiser HMS Letitia (A/Capt. E.H. Longsdon, RN) departed the Clyde around 1300/11 for the Northern Patrol.

HMS Repulse, HMS Naiad departed Scapa Flow around 1330/12 for patrol and also to provide cover for ships of the Northern Patrol. They were escorted by the destoyers HMS Sikh (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, RN), HMS Mashona, HMS Matabele and HMS Punjabi.

HMS Naiad parted company on the 13th to proceed to Jan Mayen Island where a German weather / wireless station in Jameson Bay was to be raided.

HMS Repulse returned to Scapa Flow at 0015/19 being escorted by the destroyers HMS Ashanti (Cdr. W.G. Davis, RN), HMS Mashona and HMS Matabele. They had provided cover for HMS Naiad during her raid on Jan Mayen Island.

The battleship HMS Nelson arrived at Scapa Flow around 1630/13 escorted by the destryers Maori, HMS Beagle (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Wright, RN), HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. F.J.G. Hewitt, RN) and Keppel.

Battleship HMS Rodney arrived at Scapa Flow around 1500/23rd. She had been joined at dawn the previous day by the destroyers HMS Beagle, HMS Brilliant, HMS Bulldog and HMS Electra. (2)

6 Nov 1940
HMS H 50 (Lt. G.V. Prowse, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Campbeltown with HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN), HMS Venomous (Lt.Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, RN) and HMS Windsor (Lt.Cdr. G.P. Huddart, RN). (3)

18 Dec 1940

Convoy WS 5A and the attack by the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper

This convoy departed U.K. ports on 18/19 December 1940. Destination for the majority of the convoy was Suez where the convoy arrived on 16 February 1941.

On 17 December 1940 the transport Rangitiki (16698 GRT, built 1929) departed Avonmouth. She was escorted by HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) towards the rendez-vous position.

On 18 December 1940 the following troop transports / transports departed Liverpool, they formed WS 5A slow;
Anselm (5954 GRT, built 1935), Atreus (6547 GRT, built 1911), Bhutan (6104 GRT, built 1929), City of Canterbury (8331 GRT, built 1922), City of London (8956 GRT, built 1907), Delane ( GRT, built ), (Belgian) Elizabethville (8351 GRT, built 1922), Menelaus (10307 GRT, built 1923), Orbita (15495 GRT, built 1915), Settler (6202 GRT, built 1939) and Tamaroa (12405 GRT, built 1922). They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN), HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN), sloop HMS Wellington (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, RN) and the corvettes HMS Clematis (Cdr. Y.M. Cleeves, DSO, DSC, RD, RNR), HMS Jonquil (Lt.Cdr. R.E.H. Partington, RNR), HMS Cyclamen (Lt. H.N. Lawson, RNR) and HMS Geranium (T/Lt. A. Foxall, RNR).

On 18 December 1940 the following troop transports / transports departed from the Clyde;
(Dutch) Costa Rica (8055 GRT, built 1910), Ernebank (5388 GRT, built 1937), (Belgian) Leopoldville (11509 GRT, built 1929) and Neuralia (9182 GRT, built 1912). Ernebank was however forced to return around 1800 hours on the 21st escorted by HMS Witch and HMS St. Mary’s. On the 22nd, HMS Wellington, was detached to take over the escort of the Ernebank. They were escorted by the anti-aircraft cruiser HMS Cairo (Capt. P.V. McLaughlin, RN) and the destroyers HMS Bath (Cdr.(Retd.) A.V. Hemming, RN), HMS St. Marys (Lt. K.H.J.L. Phibbs, RN), HMS St. Albans (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) S.G.C. Rawson, RN), HMS Worcester (Lt.Cdr. E.C. Coats, RN).

On 18 December 1940 the following troop transports / transports departed from Lough Foyle (Belfast); City of Derby (6616 GRT, built 1921) and Stentor (6148 GRT, built 1926). They were escorted by the destroyer HMS Venomous (Lt.Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, RN).

The slow part of the convoy was met around dawn on the 19th by the light cruiser HMS Bonaventure (Capt. H.G. Egerton, RN) and the destroyers HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN), HMS Harvester (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, RN) and HMS Highlander (Cdr. W.A. Dallmeyer, RN).

Around 2300/21 all destroyers parted company with the slow part of the convoy.

On 19 December 1940 the following troop transports / transports departed Liverpool, they formed WS 5A fast;
Clan MacDonald (9653 GRT, built 1939), Essex (13655 GRT, built 1936) and Northern Prince (10917 GRT, built 1929).

On 19 December 1940 the following troop transports / transports departed from the Clyde;
Adviser (6348 GRT, built 1939), Arabistan (5874 GRT, built 1929), Barrister (6348 GRT, built 1939), Benrinnes (5410 GRT, built 1921), Clan Cumming (7264 GRT, built 1938), Empire Song (9228 GRT, built 1940) and Empire Trooper (14106 GRT, built 1922).

Escort for the fast section of convoy WS 5A joined around dawn on the 20th and was provided by the aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RNRN), destroyers HMCS Ottawa (Cdr. E.R. Mainguy, RCN), HMCS St. Laurent (Lt. H.S. Rayner, RCN) and Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski) which came from the Clyde. And also by the destroyers HMS Highlander, HMS Harvester and FSS Le Triomphant (Cdr. P.M.J.R. Auboyneau) which came from Londonderry. The first two of these destroyers had fuelled there after escorting the slow part of the convoy for a while. Also the aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN) (with fighters embarked for Takoradi) and the destroyers HMS Beverley (Cdr.(Retd.) E.F. Fitzgerald, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling joined from Liverpool.

The destroyers of the fast portion of the convoy were detached during the night of 21/22 December 1940.

At dawn on 23 December 1940 the slow and fast part of the convoy made rendez-vous and proceeded in company.

On the 24th, HMS Naiad parted company to return to the U.K. The heavy cruiser HMS Berwick (Capt. G.L. Warren, RN) and the light cruiser HMS Dunedin (Capt. R.S. Lovatt, RN) both joined the escort of the convoy.

At dawn on the 25th the convoy was attacked by the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper. She had made contact with the convoy with radar the previous day and had already made a torpedo attack shortly before 0400/25 but no hits had been obtained nor had the attack been noticed by the British.

Then shortly after 0800/25 she made visual contact with the convoy and it came as a surprise to the Germans to sight HMS Berwick.

Around 0830 hours the Germans opened fire on HMS Berwick but due to the bad visibility she soon shifted target to the troopship Empire Trooper which was not in her assigned station. The troopship was slightly damaged as was the merchant vessel Arabistan.

The convoy was ordered to scatter and HMS Berwick and HMS Bonaventure both engaged the German cruiser as did the corvette Cyclamen briefly.

Meanwhile HMS Dunedin laid a smokescreen to cover the ships of the convoy. HMS Furious flew off a few aircraft but these failed to find the German cruiser in the bad visibility.

HMS Berwick was damaged by gunfire from the German cruiser but she forced, together with HMS Bonaventure, the enemy to break off the action around 0915 hours.

In the evening HMS Boneventure was detached to search for the damaged Empire Trooper.

On the 28th the convoy was reassembled at sea (minus Empire Trooper which was ordered to proceed to Gibraltar via the Azores) and continued on to Freetown where it arrived on 6 January 1941. (4)

19 Jun 1941
HMS Vanessa is damaged by a German aircraft while on patrol in the North Sea. She suffered a direct amidships, blowing up boilers, the fore funnel was blasted overboard, and the deck opened up. Eleven ratings and the engineer officer were killed and many of the crew were injured and burned. The damaged destroyer collided with anti-submarine trawler HMS Turquoise. Vanessa was towed to Yarmouth by destroyer HMS Vesper.

16 Aug 1942
HMS Graph (Lt. P.B. Marriott, RN) departed from Sheerness for Portsmouth. She is escorted by HMS Vesper (Lt. D.H.R. Bromley, RN). (5)

12 Dec 1942
The British destroyers HMS Whitshed, HMS Worcester and HMS Vesper, the British escort destroyers HMS Brocklesby and HMS Albrighton, and the Norwegian escort destroyer Eskdale attacked German shipping in the English Channel. Eskdale torpedoed and sank Sperrbrecher 144/Beijerland (387 BRT) west of Le Treport, France in position 50°05'N, 01°09'E and Whitshed torpedoed and sank Sperrbecher 178/Gauss (1236 BRT) north-east of Dieppe, France in position 50°04'N, 01°09'E.

11 Jul 1943
HMS Untiring (Lt. R. Boyd, DSC, RN) conducted A/S and attack exercises off Larne with HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Rodgers, RN). (6)

12 Jul 1943
HMS Proteus (Lt. A.R. Profit, DSC, RN) conducted exercises off Larne with HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Rodgers, RN) and HMS Campanula (Lt.Cdr. B.A. Rogers, RD, RNR). (7)

14 Jul 1943
HMS Truant (Lt.Cdr. J.G. Hopkins, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Larne with HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Rodgers, RN), HMS Clematis (T/Lt. R.H. Farrands, DSC, RNR) and later with HMS Warwick (Cdr. Y.M. Cleeves, DSO, DSC, RD, RNR) and HMS Godetia (T/Lt. M.A.F. Larose, RNR). (8)

21 Aug 1943
HMS P 511 (Lt. R.H. Bull, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle together with HMS Hesperus (Cdr. D.G.F.W. MacIntyre, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Rodgers, RN), HMS Sweetbriar (T/A/Lt.Cdr. R. Edwards, RNVR), HMS Mourne (Lt.Cdr. R.S. Holland, RD, RNR) and HMS Campanula (Lt. T.W. Lewis, DSC, RANVR). (9)

21 Aug 1943
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.A.R. Troup, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Rodgers, RN) and HMS Clematis (T/Lt. R.H. Farrands, DSC, RNR). (10)

13 Feb 1944
HMS H 44 (Lt. P.N. Joyce, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Rodgers, RN). (11)

18 Nov 1944
During the morning HMS Taciturn (Lt.Cdr. E.T. Stanley, DSO, DSC, RN) conducts A/S exercises with HMS Vigilant (Lt.Cdr. L.W.L. Argles, RN) and HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. V.D. Ravenscroft, RN). During the afternoon A/S exercises were carried out with HMS Zephyr (Capt. J.H. Allison, DSO and Bar, RN). (12)

Media links


British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

Sources

  1. ADM 199/2572
  2. ADM 199/379
  3. ADM 173/16334
  4. ADM 199/1136
  5. ADM 173/17193
  6. ADM 173/18436
  7. ADM 173/17891
  8. ADM 173/18285
  9. ADM 173/17927
  10. ADM 173/17773
  11. ADM 173/18513
  12. ADM 173/18917

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


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