Allied Warships

HMS Pimpernel (K 71)

Corvette of the Flower class

NavyThe Royal Navy
PennantK 71 
Built byHarland & Wolff Ltd. (Belfast, Northern Ireland) 
Ordered19 Sep 1939 
Laid down19 Jul 1940 
Launched16 Nov 1940 
Commissioned9 Jan 1941 
End service 

HMS Pimpernel is not listed as active unit in the October 1945 Navy List

Sold to be broken up for scrap on 6 February 1948.
Scrapped at Portaferry in October 1948.


Commands listed for HMS Pimpernel (K 71)

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1Lt. Frederick Harold Thornton, RNR5 Dec 1940early 1943
2Lt. Hugh Dudley Hayes, RNRearly 194324 Nov 1944
3T/A/Lt.Cdr. Arthur Charles Palmer, DSC, RNR24 Nov 1944early 1945
4T/Lt. William George Tooley Tooley-Hawkins, RNRearly 1945mid 1945

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Notable events involving Pimpernel include:

26 Feb 1941
HMS Pimpernel (Lt. F.H. Thornton, RNR) picks up 7 survivors of the Norwegian merchant Benjamin Franklin that was torpedoed and sunk on 19 February 1941 south of Iceland in position 58°50'N, 16°30'W by German U-boat U-103.

HMS Pimpernel also picks up 32 survivors from the Norwegian merchant Borgland that was torpedoed and sunk that day, east of Ireland in position 55°45'N, 14°29'W, by German U-boat U-47.

26 Feb 1941
Pimpernel rescued 28 men from the sinking Swedish ship Rydboholm, that had been torpedoed by U-47 in the morning. (1)

13 Mar 1941
HMS Pimpernel (Lt. F.H. Thornton, RNR) picks up the sole survivor of the Norwegian merchant Augvald that was torpedoed and sunk on 2 March 1941 north-west of the Hebrides in position 59°30'N, 07°30'W by German U-boat U-147.

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.

12 Jun 1941
The British merchant Chinese Prince is torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-552 south of Rockall in position 56°12'N, 14°18'W. 18 survivors are later picked up by the British corvettes HMS Arbutus (Lt. A.L.W. Warren, RNR) and HMS Pimpernel (Lt. F.H. Thornton, RNR).

17 Aug 1942
HMS Pimpernel (Lt.Cdr. F.H. Thornton, RNR) picks up 29 survivors from the British merchant Fort la Reine that was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-658 in the Windward Passage west of Haiti in position 18°30'N, 75°20'W.

18 Aug 1942
HMS Pimpernel (Lt.Cdr. F.H. Thornton, RNR) picks up 43 survivors from the British merchant Empire Bede that was torpedoed and damaged by German U-boat U-553 north of Jamaica in position 19°35'N, 76°25'W. The wreck of the Empire Bede is finally sunk by gunfire from the corvette in position 19?41'N, 76?50'W.

6 Mar 1943
HMS Pimpernel (Lt. H.D. Hayes, RNR) picks up 62 men from the American merchant Thomas Hooker that was damaged by bad weather and abandoned by her crew. The drifting wreck of the Thomas Hooker was found and sunk by German U-boat U-653 on 12 March 1943 and sunk with two torpedoes in approximate position 53°00'N, 43°00'W.

14 Jul 1943
HMS Untiring (Lt. R. Boyd, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Larne with HMS Hesperus (Cdr. D.G.F.W. MacIntyre, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Mourne (Lt.Cdr. R.S. Holland, RD, RNR), HMS Vimy (Lt.Cdr. J.N.K. Knight, RN) and HMS Pimpernel (Lt. H.D. Hayes, RNR). (2)

30 Nov 1943
HMS H 28 (Lt. J.W. Kelly, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Tobermory with HMS Pimpernel (Lt. H.D. Hayes, RNR), HMS Burdock (T/Lt. F.R.M. Greasley, RNR), HMS Helmsdale (T/A/Lt.Cdr. L.J. Simpson, RNR) and HMS Portchester Castle (Lt. A.G. Scott, RNR). (3)

1 Dec 1943
HMS H 28 (Lt. J.W. Kelly, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Tobermory with HMS Pimpernel (Lt. H.D. Hayes, RNR), HMS Burdock (T/Lt. F.R.M. Greasley, RNR) and HMS Helmsdale (T/A/Lt.Cdr. L.J. Simpson, RNR). (4)

22 Sep 1944
HrMs O 15 (Lt. W.C.M. de Jonge van Ellemeet, RNN) conducted A/S exercises with HMS Pimpernel (Lt. H.D. Hayes, RNR). (5)


  1. Personal communication
  2. ADM 173/18436
  3. ADM 173/17764
  4. ADM 173/17765
  5. File (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)

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

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