HMS Rhododendron (K 78)
Corvette of the Flower class
|Navy||The Royal Navy|
|Built by||Harland & Wolff Ltd. (Belfast, Northern Ireland)|
|Ordered||19 Sep 1939|
|Laid down||22 May 1940|
|Launched||2 Sep 1940|
|Commissioned||18 Oct 1940|
HMS Rhododendron is not listed as active unit in the July 1945 Navy List.
Sold on 17 May 1947.
Commands listed for HMS Rhododendron (K 78)
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|1||Lt.Cdr. William Nelson Mitchell Faichney, RNR||8 Sep 1940||Feb 1941|
|2||Lt.Cdr. William Nelson Mitchell Faichney, DSO, RNR||Apr 1941||5 Sep 1941|
|3||Lt. Harold Ivor Davis, RNVR||5 Sep 1941||8 Apr 1942|
|4||Lt. Louis Alan Sayers, RNR||28 Apr 1942||mid 1943|
|5||T/Lt. Oliver Birrell Medley, RNVR||mid 1943||3 Aug 1944|
|6||Lt. Gordon Leslie Frank Melville, RNR||3 Aug 1944||14 Oct 1944|
|7||T/A/Lt.Cdr. Henry Vernon, RNR||14 Oct 1944||21 Jan 1945|
|8||T/Lt. Ralph Smith Mortimer, RNR||21 Jan 1945||Apr 1945 ?|
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Notable events involving Rhododendron include:
21 Nov 1940
German U-boat U-103 was attacked with depth charges by the British corvette HMS Rhododendron (Lt.Cdr. W.N.H. Faichney, RNR) north-west of Ireland, in position 56°28'N, 14°13'W. This attack is often credited with the destruction of U-104, this is however not the case and the cause of U-104's loss is still not clear.
21 Nov 1940
Rhododendron (Lt.Cdr. W.N.H. Faichney, RNR) picks up 36 survivors from the British merchant Daydawn that was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-103 about 250 nautical miles west of Bloody Foreland in position 56°30'N, 14°10'W.
17 Jan 1941
HMS Rhododendron (Lt.Cdr. W.N.H. Faichney, RNR) is damaged when she detonates a mine in Liverpool harbour. She was out of service for about three months.
10 May 1941
Convoy SL 74
This convoy departed Freetown on 10 May 1941 for the U.K. where it was dissolved on 4 June 1941.
It was made up of the following merchant ships; Afghanistan (British, 6992 GRT, built 1940), Aliakmon (Greek, 4521 GRT, built 1913) retuned 11-04 after collision with Zephyros, Amstelkerk (Dutch, 4457 GRT, built 1929), Anselm (British, 5954 GRT, built 1935), Arosa (Norwegian, 5043 GRT, built 1924), Benalder (British, 5161 GRT, built 1919), Bonita (Panamanian, 4929 GRT, built 1918), City of Lyons (British, 7063 GRT, built 1926), Clan MacNair (British, 6096 GRT, built 1921), Corvus (Norwegian, 1317 GRT, built 1921), Empire Success (British, 5988 GRT, built 1921), Empire Trader (British, 9990 GRT, built 1908), Evros (Greek, 5283 GRT, built 1918), Gamaria (British, 5255 GRT, built 1918), Glenstrae (British, 9460 GRT, built 1922), Holmside (British, 3433 GRT, built 1930), Koumoundouros (Greek, 3598 GRT, built 1925), Liberian (British, 5129 GRT, built 1936), Llandaff (British, 4825 GRT, built 1937), Linge (Dutch, 2114 GRT, built 1928), Marsa (British, 4405 GRT, built 1928), Melpomene (French, 7011 GRT, built 1923), Nagara (British, 8791 GRT, built 1919), Nicolas Pateras (Greek, 4362 GRT, built 1910), Norita (Swedish, 1516 GRT, built 1924), Olivebank (British, 5154 GRT, built 1926), Olympos (Greek, 5216 GRT, built 1918), P.L.M. 17 (French, 4008 GRT, built 1922) left the convoy on 20 May with engine trouble, Pendeen (British, 4174 GRT, built 1923), Queensbury (British, 3911 GRT, built 1931), Rosenberg (Dutch, 2068 GRT, built 1918), Saturnus (Dutch, 2741 GRT, built 1909), Scotia (Swedish, 1874 GRT, built 1918), Shahristan (British, 6935 GRT, built 1938), Southern Empress (British, 12398 GRT, built 1914), Taurus (Norwegian, 4767 GRT, built 1925), Tombouctou (French, 5636 GRT, built 1919), Tovelil (Danish, 2225 GRT, built 1925), Trentbank (British, 5060 GRT, built 1929), Tudor Star (British, 7199 GRT, built 1919), Vassilios A. Polemis (Greek, 3429 GRT, built 1907), Viking Star (British, 6445 GRT, built 1920), Waterland (Dutch, 6847 GRT, built 1922), Wentworth (British, 5212 GRT, built 1919) and Zephyros (Greek, 4796 GRT, built 1909).
Escort was initially provided by the British armed merchant cruiser HMS Bulolo (Capt.(Retd.) R.L. Hamer, RN) (10 May 1941 to 3 June 1941) and the corvettes HMS Amaranthus (Lt. N.B.J. Stapleton, RNR), HMS Anchusa (T/Lt. P. Everett-Price, DSC, RNR), HMS Asphodel (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) K.W. Stewart, RN) and HMS Calendula (Lt.Cdr. A.D. Bruford, RNVR). (All from 10 May 1941 to 19 May 1941). They were joined on 12 May 1941 by the heavy cruiser HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. B.C.S. Martin, RN).
On 26 May 1941, HMS Dorsetshire parted company with the convoy to join the pursuit of the German battleship Bismarck. She succeeded in making contact on the next day he delivered the coup de grace to her and torpedoed the heavily damaged German battleship from both sides and she sank soon afterwards. HMS Dorsetshire picked up German survivors until she was forced to leave the scene after a U-Boat alarm. More survivors had to be left in the water.
The convoy was joined by more escorts for the passage through the Western Approaces, these were; Destroyer HMS Reading (Lt.Cdr. D.V. Clift, RN) and the corvettes HMS Gentian (Lt.Cdr. R.O. Yeomans, RD, RNR), HMS Hibiscus (Lt. H. Roach, RNR), HMS Pimpernel (Lt. F.H. Thornton, RNR), HMS Rhododendron (Lt.Cdr. W.N.M. Faichney, DSO, RNR). These ships all joined on 30 May 1941 and remained with the convoy until it was dissolved on 4 June 1941. The destroyers HMS Vanquisher (Cdr. N.V. Dickinson, DSC, RN) and HMS Winchelsea (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, RN) also joined on 30 May but left the convoy on 2 June 1941. Finally the corvette HMS Freesia (T/Lt. R.A. Cherry, RNR) joined the convoy on 31 May and remained with it until dissolved on 4 June 1941.
28 Jul 1941
The British merchant Lapland is torpedoed and sunk north-west of Cape Finisterre in position 40°36'N, 15°30'W by German U-boat U-203. 26 survivors were later picked up by HMS Rhododendron (Lt.Cdr. W.N.H. Faichney, DSO, RNR).
5 Aug 1941
HMS Clyde (Cdr. D.C. Ingram, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Gibraltar with HMS Jasmine (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) C.D.B. Coventry, RNR) and HMS Rhododendron (Lt.Cdr. W.N.H. Faichney, DSO, RNR). (1)
10 Nov 1941
Operation Perpetual and the sinking of HMS Ark Royal
Transfer of Hurrican fighters (from aircraft carriers) and Blenheim bombers (from Gibraltar) to Malta.
10 November 1941.
At 0235 hours (zone -1) on 10 November 1941, Force H departed Gibraltar for operation Perpetual. Force H was made up of the battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Sommerville, KCB, DSO, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Ark Royal (Capt. L.E.H. Maund, CBE, RN), HMS Argus (Capt. G.T. Philip, DSC, RN) and the light cruiser HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, DSO, RN). They were escorted by seven destroyers; HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. R.G. Stewart, RN), HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN), HMS Gurkha (Cdr. C.N. Lentaigne, RN), HMS Sikh (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, DSC, RN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, DSC, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. J. Houtsmuller, RNN).
At 0800 hours, HMS Argus flew off one aircraft for A/S patrol and a Catalina aircraft joined from Gibraltar at 0930 hours. The force passed to the north of Alboran Island. A French merchant vessel was sighted ahead at 1526 hours. She was north bound. During the afternoon AA firing exercises were carried out.
11 November 1941.
Force H continued to the eastward during the night. As the takeoff of the Blenheim bombers from Gibraltar was delayed due to unsuitable weather conditions it was decided that Force H would withdraw to the westward for a while, with the dual object of increasing the distance to the enemy air bases in Sardinia and to give the impression to possible enemy shadowers that the fly off of the Hurricanes had already taken place, and that Force H was already retiring.
At 0935 two aircraft were reported by RDF to the southward. Later the echo faded, but they were sighted flying very low over the Algerian coast. They were too far to be identified and were thought to be possibly French. However a report timed 0935 by an Italian reconnaissance aircraft was intercrypted shortly afterward and it became clear that the two aircraft were in fact Italian.
As hurricanes were range on Ark Royal’s flight deck, making it impossible for her to operate her own fighters. Argus had two Sea Hurricanes ranged, but the enemy aircraft disappeared before these could be launched.
Between 1835 and 1910 hours Vice-Admiral Sommerville had a message transmitted that unless the Hurricanes could be flown off the following morning he intended to return to Gibraltar, as he did not consider it desirable to remain in this area without A/S air and fighter patrols.
At 2130 hours, Force H turned to the eastward again towards the flying off position.
12 November 1941.
Shortly after midnight a signal was received that it was intended that the carriers could launch their Hurricanes for Malta at 1000 hours.
At 0743 hours a signal was received that the firt group of Blenheim bombers was airborn at that they would be near the takeoff position of the Hurricanes shortly after 1000 hours.
Between this time and the completion of flying off of all the land Hurricanes, no fighters were available for the interception of enemy aircraft.
Two aircraft, presumed hostile, were detected by RDF to the north-eastward at 0907 hours, but they were not sighted. Later a report from an Italian reconnaissance aircraft time 0907 hours was intercripted, and this no doubt originated from one of these two aircraft.
At 1004 hours four Blenheim bombers were sighted and by 1021 hours 13 Hurricanes had been launched by Ark Royal and 6 by Argus. One of the Hurricanes that was to be launched from Ark Royal had troubles with the engine and was, after repairs, included in the second batch that was to be launched.
At 1048 hours, two more Blenheims were sighted, and within five minutes Ark Royal had flown off the first of the Hurricanes for her second batch. By 1112 hours all Hurricanes had been launched by the carriers and they made off with the Blenheims for Malta.
By 1130 hours all ships were back in position after the flying off operations and course was set to the west. From Ark Royal one Swordfish was flown off for A/S duties and four Fulmars for fighter patrol. These patrols were maintained until dusk.
At 1425 hours HMS Ark Royal reported an aircraft in sight low down to the southward. The four Fulmar fighters were vectored but a section of two Fulmars only sighted the enemy until on the return trip from the chase. One of the Fulmars was able to fire one good burst of gunfire from 300 yards before the enemy aircraft escaped into the clouds. Both wings of this Fulmar were damaged by enemy gunfire. Two sighting reports from this aircraft were intercepted.
Between 1500 and 1515 hours RDF reported that enemy aircraft were shadowing the fleet but by now weather had deteriorated and there was much low rain cloud. Although fighters were vectored no interceptions were made.
At 1625 hours hours Malta reported the arrival of 34 Hurricanes and 7 Blenheims. One Blenheim had returned to Gibraltar with engine trouble. Also a report on U-boat sightings in the Western Mediterranean was received.
Late in the evening speed had to be reduced in the bad weather to avoid weather damage to the escorting destroyers.
13 November 1941
At 0140 hours, weather had improved at bit and speed was increased by one knot to 17 knots but by 0500 hous weather had worsened even further then earlier and speed was reduced to 15 knots. This was only temporary though and at 0630 hours speed was increased to 17 knots and by 0800 hours (daylight) even to 19 knots.
An underwater explosion was observed by HMS Legion in her wake at 0413 hours. This was also heard be several of the other ships. Legion at that time was the starboard wing destroyer. This was thought to be a torpedo exploding at the end of its run.
This might well be correct as according to German sources the German submarine U-205, at 0506 hours (Berlin time), made a torpedo attack on a force of enemy warships but no hits were obtained.
At 0645 hours, Ark Royal flew of an AS patrol of six Swordfish for a dawn A/S patrol. They sighted nothing. They returned at 0850 hours. More A/S patrol were maintained throughout the day.
At 0817 hours a report was received that submarine were to be expected to be in the area. Course was now altered to approach Gibraltar directly from the east and not as was usually the case along the Spanish or Maroccan coast.
Later in the morning HMS Laforey and later HMS Lightning both reports A/S contacts and the fleet evaded these.
The fleet conducted exercises in the afternoon. HMS Laforey reported another A/S contact and the fleet once again made an emergency turn. The contact was however soon classified as ‘non sub’ and the main course was promptly resumed.
At 1541 hours, while in position 36°03’N, 04°40’W HMS Ark Royal was hit by a torpedo on the starboard side. Following this HMS Malaya immediately altered course to port and increased speed. HMS Legion and HMS Gurkha, the rear destroyers on the starboard wing at once turned outwards and started an A/S search to the north and east of the Ark Royal, the most probable area where the attacker must have been.
At this time HMS Ark Royal was still going ahead at considerable speed, listing to starboard and apparently under port wheel. A number of her aircraft were still circling overhead as she had been conducting aircraft operations when she was hit.
At 1549 hours, HMS Laforey and HMS Lightning were ordered to join HMS Ark Royal who appeared to be loosing speed. Signals were also made to require tugs to be sent out from Gibraltar and all available A/S craft to be sent out to patrol the area. HMS Hermione was ordered to stand by HMS Ark Royal The remaining three destroyers, HMS Sikh, HMS Zulu and HrMs Isaac Sweers were ordered to screen HMS Malaya.
By 1610 hours, HMS Ark Royal was laying stopped and listing heavily to starboard but she reported she had steam on her port engine. HMS Laforey, HMS Lightning and HMS Gurkha had closed her and were circling Ark Royal. HMS Legion was alongside Ark Royal. HMS Hermione was still closing. HMS Malaya and her three escorting destroyers were about 5 miles off and proceeding to Gibraltar at 18 knots as was HMS Argus who was some distance astern of her but catching up on Malaya. At 1615 hours Argus flew off two Swordfish aircraft for A/S patrol.
At 1710 hours, when 8 nautical miles eastwards of Europa Point, HMS Malaya was passed by units coming out of Gibraltar to assist. These were the destroyer HMS Wild Swan (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, RN), motor launches ML 121, ML 130, ML 132, ML 135, ML 170, ML 172, ML 176 and the tugs St. Omar and Thames. Shortly before the tug St. Day had also been sighted proceeding eastwards. Besides these ships the destroyer HMS Vidette (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, RN) had also been ordered to proceed to the east.
HMS Malaya and HMS Argus entered harbour around 1820 hours and before she was berthed Vice-Admiral Sommerville had transferred to HMS Sikh and went out again to proceed to HMS Ark Royal. Shortly before Sikh left the harbour the destroyer HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN) had also left the harbour to assist. Sikh, Zulu, Isaac Sweers and Wishart joined the patrol near Ark Royal for the night.
At 1900 hours, three corvettes departed Gibaltar to assist. These were; HMS Rhododendron (Lt. H.I. Davis, RNVR), HMS Marigold (T/Lt. J. Renwick, RNR), HMS Pentstemon (Lt.Cdr. J. Byron, RNR). This last corvette had a large 6” portable pump on board
The trawlers HMS St. Nectan (T/Lt.Cdr. H.B. Phillips, RNR) and HMS Lady Shirley (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Callaway, RANVR) had also been sailed around 1715 hours to patrol the area. They had not been very near to Ark Royal during the coming night.
Around 2040 hours the situation was as follows. Ark Royal was being towed by Thames and St. Day. The tow was proceeding at 2 knots. It was hoped that Ark Royal was able to raise steam shortly.
At 2224 hours, the Capt. (D) 19th Destroyer Flotilla on board Laforey reported that Ark Royal had her own steam and power and that flooding was apparently under contral and that no more tugs would be required until off the harbour. Shortly afterwards Vice-Admiral Sommerville therefore ordered the three corvettes to establish A/S patrol astern of the Ark Royal and to close her only by daylight.
At 2355 hours, HMS Legion arrived at Gibraltar packed with crew of HMS Ark Royal which were not needed in the rescue effort. After landing these she proceeded back to sea.
14 November 1941
At 0221 hours, the Capt. (D) 19th Destroyer Flotilla reported that Ark Royal had lost steam (and power) and that a powerful pump would be required. Another signal at 0242 hours stated that another tug would be required. This indicated that the situation was deteriorating. Vice-Admiral Sommerville therefore ordered HMS Sikh to close. HMS Pentstemon, the corvette with the portable pump on board, was also ordered to close. From Gibraltar the tug Rollicker was also sent out to assist.
On approaching HMS Laforey, which was alongside Ark Royal together with St. Day, signaled to Sikh that Vice-Admiral Sommerville could better transfer to an ML which he did. At 0430 hours Vice-Admiral Sommerville boarded Laforey to find she was on the point of casting off from HMS Ark Royal. Capt. Maund was also on board Laforey with the last of the steaming party. Ark Royal now had a list of 35° and was listing still further judging by the straining and parting of wires securing the ships alongside her. The situation was reported by signal to the Admiralty at 0446 hours.
After getting clear in HMS Laforey, Vice-Admiral Sommerville, ordered St. Day to go ahead of Thames but at 0600 hours Thames reported that she had cast off the tow as Ark Royal was sinking. The carrier turned over at 0613 hours and remained bottom up for a few minutes after which she disappeared from sight. This was reported by signal to the Admiralty at 0623 hours.
Vice-Admiral Sommerville then ordered the Capt. (D) 19th Destroyer Flotilla to take all destroyers in the area under his command and to commence an A/S sweep to the eastward. He was instructed to return to Gibraltar by dark. In the end HMS Laforey, HMS Lightning, HMS Gurkha, HMS Legion and HMS Zulu returned to Gibraltar at 1535/14 followed about 15 minutes later by HMS Wild Swan.
Vice-Admiral Sommerville himself returned to Gibraltar in HMS Sikh arriving at 0830 hours as did HrMs Isaac Sweers at 0900 hours. (2)
5 Mar 1943
HrMs O 10 (Lt.Cdr. Baron D.T. Mackay, RNN) participated in A/S exercises off Tobermory together with HMS Rhododendron (Lt. L.A. Sayers, RNR), HMS Teviot (Lt.Cdr. A. Blewett, DSC, RNR), HMS Hyderabad (Lt. S.C.B. Hickman, DSC, RNR) and HMS Prodigal (T/Lt. J.A.S. Leslie, RNR). (3)
9 Mar 1943
HrMs O 10 (Lt.Cdr. Baron D.T. Mackay, RNN) participated in A/S exercises off Tobermory together with HMS Mutine (T/A/Lt.Cdr. N.E. Morley, DSC, RNVR), HMS Grenadier (A/Skr.Lt. A.G. Day, RNR) and HMS Rhododendron (Lt. L.A. Sayers, RNR). (3)
1 Apr 1943
HMS Severn (Lt.Cdr. A.N.G. Campbell, RN) departed Holy Loch for her 17th war patrol. She was ordered to patrol of the Lofoten. Passage north towards just north of Muckle Fluga was made together with USS Barb (Lt.Cdr. N. Lucker, Jr., USN) under escort by HMS Rhododendron (Lt. L.A. Sayers, RNR). (4)
4 Jul 1943
HMS Rhododendron (Lt. O.B. Medley, RNVR) and HMRT Restive (W 39) pick up more than 300 survivors from City of Venice and St. Essylt that were sunk by the German U-boats U-409 and U-375 in the convoy KMS-18B off Cape Tenes, Algeria.
2 Feb 1944
HMS Spirit (Lt. A.W. Langridge, RN) ended her 1st war patrol at Lerwick. She departed for Holy Loch later the same day. During the passage she was escorted by HMS Rhododendron (Lt. O.B. Medley, RNVR). (5)
22 Mar 1944
HMS Trenchant (Lt.Cdr. A.R. Hezlet, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Campbeltown with HMS Sardonyx (A/Lt.Cdr. T.A. Easton, RNVR), HMS Honeysuckle (T/Lt. J.A. Wright, RNR) and HMS Rhododendron (T/Lt. O.B. Medley, RNVR). These included night exercises. (7)
1 Jan 1945
HMS Untiring (Lt. G.E.L.F. Edsell, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Campbeltown with HMS Inconstant (A/Lt.Cdr. H.D. Verschoyle, DSC, RN) and HMS Rhododendron (T/A/Lt.Cdr. H. Vernon, RNR). (10)
- ADM 173/18708
- ADM 199/657
- File 2.12.03.6382 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
- ADM 199/1878
- ADM 199/1869
- ADM 173/18513
- ADM 173/19057
- ADM 173/18534
- ADM 173/19230
- ADM 173/20167
- ADM 173/20130
- ADM 173.20167
ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.