Allied Warships

HMS Restive (W 39)

Rescue Tug of the Assurance class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeRescue Tug
PennantW 39 
Built byCochrane & Sons Shipbuilders Ltd. (Selby, U.K.) 
Laid down25 Apr 1940 
Launched4 Sep 1940 
Commissioned12 Dec 1940 
End service 

HMRT Restive was sold on 11 June 1965.


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Notable events involving Restive include:

1 Dec 1942
The fast minelayer HMS Manxman (Capt. R.K. Dickson, DSO, RN) departed Algiers for Gibraltar.

At 1705A/1, (time in the German report) in position 36°39'N, 00°15'E German U-boat U-375 fired a spread of four torpedoes at HMS Manxman, which was identified as a London class cruiser, and heard two hits after 51 seconds despite the fact that the British ship was zig-zagging at 21 knots. Two coups de grace fired at 1741A/1 and 1842A/1 missed.

At the time of the torpedoing HMS Manxman was steaming at 21 knots on a mean course of 284°, carrying out a zig-zag and with Asdic watch set. At 1702A/1, (time in the British report) a lookout sighted a torpedo approaching and it was seen to pass close astern from port to starboard, running shallow. About three seconds later another torpedo struck the ship on the port side abreast the engine room and she stopped with a heavy list to starboard, both engine and gear rooms being flooded. A further attack was expected at any moment and everything possible was done to discourage the enemy submarine. The whole armament was fired into the water whenever anything was heard on the Asdic and at dusk the fast motorboat was lowered to drop depth charges round the ship to simulate the arrival of escorts.

At 2315A/1, the destroyer HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN) arrived which took the ship in tow. An hour later course was set for Oran. By that time the destroyer HMS Eskimo (Capt. J.W.M. Eaton, DSO, DSC, RN) had also joined. At 0520A/2 the tug HMRT Restive (Lt. D.M. Richards, RNR) had joined to assist. HMS Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN) also joined for A/S protection and at 1300A/2 HMS Manxman arrived at Oran still in tow. (1)

12 Dec 1942

Convoy KMF 5.

This convoy departed the U.K. (Clyde) on 12 December 1942.

It was made up of the following (troop) transports;
Arundel Castle (British, 19118 GRT, built 1921), Cameronia (British, 16297 GRT, built 1920), Circassia (British, 11136 GRT, built 1937), Duchess of Richmond (British, 20022 GRT, built 1928), Duchess of York (British, 20021 GRT, built 1929), Dunnottar Castle (British, 15007 GRT, built 1936), Empire Tide (British, 9248 GRT, built 1941), Empress of Canada (British, 21517 GRT, built 1922), Exiria (American, 6533 GRT, built 1941), Irénée du Pont (American, 6125 GRT, built 1941), Manchester Trader (British, 5671 GRT, built 1941), Strathallan (British, 23722 GRT, built 1938) and Zoella Lykes (American, 6829 GRT, built 1940).

On departure the convoy was escorted by the aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. G.T. Philip, RN), destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, DSO, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. H.G. Walter, DSC, RN), sloops HMS Folkestone (Cdr.(Retd.) J.G.C. Gibson, OBE, RN), HMS Weston (Cdr. L.F. Durnford-Slater, RN), HMS Wellington (Lt. L.G. Toone, RN), HMS Gorleston (Cdr.(Retd.) R.W. Keymer, RN), HMS Totland (Lt.Cdr. L.E. Woodhouse, RN) and the frigate HMS Waveney (Lt.Cdr. A.E. Willmott, DSC, RNR).

HMS Wellington parted company on 13 December 1942 and proceeded to Londonderry due to weather damage she had sustained.

On the 17th it was reported that the Irénée du Pont was returning to the Clyde due to weather damage.

The convoy passed through the straits of Gibraltar during the morning of 20 December 1942. The convoy had been delayed due to adverse weather conditions being encountered on passage from the U.K.

The Gibraltar section of the convoy of seven transports then joined the convoy.
These were the following transports;
Ajax (British, 7540 GRT, built 1931), Clan Lamont (British, 7250 GRT, built 1939), Elisabeth Bakke (British, 5450 GRT, built 1937), Gloucester (British, 8532 GRT, built 1941), Pardo (British, 5400 GRT, built 1940) and Silverlaurel (British, 6142 GRT, built 1939).
This section had been escorted to the rendezvous by the destroyer HMS Verity, (Lt.Cdr. R. Horncastle, RN), minesweeper HMS Hussar (Lt. R.C. Biggs, DSO, DSC, RN) and corvette HMS Nasturtium (Lt. C.D. Smith, DSC, RNR) which also joined the convoy. On these ships joining HMS Totland and HMS Waveney then parted company with the convoy and entered Gibraltar. Both had defects due to weather damage.

HMS Laforey and HMS Lightning also made a call at Gibraltar before rejoining the convoy. Both fuelled, discharged stores brought out from the U.K., and made a few small repairs to weather damage, before proceeding to rejoin the convoy.

HMS Argus left the convoy and proceeded to Gibraltar. Escorted by the destroyers HMS Vanoc ( A/Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, RN), HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN) and HMS Wivern (Cdr. M.D.C. Meyrick, RN) which had gone out to make rendezvous with convoy to escort the carrier into harbour.

The transports Manchester Citizen and Zoella Lykes, which had lost contact with the convoy due to the weather conditions, arrived at Gibraltar on 20 December 1942.

On 20 December 1942, the destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. H.W.S. Browning, OBE, RN) departed Mers-el-Kebir to make rendezvous with the convoy and then take the Oran section of the convoy with them to Oran the following day. They made rendezvous with the convoy around 1700A/20. The Oran section made up of the Duchess of Richmond, Duchess of York, Empress of Canada, Elisabeth Bakke, Exiria, Pardo and Silverlaurel parted company with the convoy around 0200A/21.

Around 0230A/21, the German submarine U-562 managed to torpedo and damage the troop transport Strathallan in position 36°52'N, 00°34'W. The destroyers HMS Laforey, HMS Lightning, HMS Verity and sloop HMS Folkestone remained with the damaged ship. The destroyers HMAS Quiberon, HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Pathfinder and HMS Meteor later jouned them. Also the tug HMRT Restive (Lt. D.M. Richards, RNR), salvage vessel King Salvor and two trawlers came out to render assistance.

On 21 December 1942, the Algiers section of 8 (troop) transports parted company. The destroyer HMS Eskimo (Capt. J.W.M. Eaton, DSO, DSC, RN) and escort destroyer HMS Lamerton (Lt.Cdr. C.R. Purse, DSC, RN) had come out from Algiers to escort this section. The Algiers section arrived at Algiers later the same day escorted by HMS Eskimo, HMS Lamerton, HMS Weston, HMS Gorleston, HMS Hussar and HMS Nasturtium.

Also on 21 December 1942, the light cruiser HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, CB, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C.H.J. Harcourt, CBE, RN), AA cruiser HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, DSO, RN), destroyer HMS Quality (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, DSO, RN) and escort destroyers HMS Lamerton (Lt.Cdr. C.R. Purse, DSC, RN) and HMS Wheatland (Lt.Cdr. R. de L. Brooke, DSC, RN) joined the convoy as escorts.

Around 0630A/22, the troop transport Cameronia, which was to proceed to Bone, had been hit by an aircraft torpedo in position 37°03'N, 05°24'E. An hour later it was reported that she was making for Bougie escorted by HMS Scylla and HMS Wheatland which later parted company to rejoin the convoy. From Bougie the tug Hengist and the M/S trawlers HMS Inchcolm (Skr. A.C. Whitcombe, RNR), HMS Mull (Lt. J. Plomer, RCNVR) and HMS Rysa (T/Lt. J.H. Cooper, RNVR) were sent to her assitance.

On 22 December 1942, the Bone section arrived there escorted by HMS Aurora, HMS Scylla, HMS Quality, HMS Lamerton and HMS Wheatland.

[Further research regarding this convoy is required.]

21 Dec 1942
At 02.23 hours on 21 December 1942 German U-boat U-562 fired a spread of four torpedoes at convoy KMF-5 about 40 miles north of Oran and heard two detonations after 65 seconds and another after 5 minutes 50 seconds. However, only the ship of the convoy commodore, the British troop transport Strathallan was hit by one torpedo which struck on port side in the engine room. The explosion killed two engineer officers and two Indian crewmen on watch below, damaged the bulkhead separating the engine and boiler rooms and fractured a tank causing oil to enter the boiler room. The ship immediately developed a 15° list to port and the master ordered the nurses and troops to abandon ship in calm seas in the four motor boats, 16 lifeboats and rafts. All got away, except one lifeboat that had been damaged by the explosion and another that could not be launched due to the list. After it became clear that the ship would not sink fast, the evacuation was stopped and the troops ordered to the starboard side to help the stability. The about 1300 survivors in the boats and on rafts were picked up in the morning by the British destroyer HMS Verity (Lt. J.C. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN) and taken to Oran.

After two hours of work, at about 06.00 hours the British destroyer HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, DSO, RN) took the Strathallan in tow for Oran at a speed of 5-6 knots. Shortly after midday about 2000 survivors were transferred to the British destroyers HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. Viscount Jocelyn, RN) and HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN) and taken to Oran. It appeared as though the ship could be saved as the British rescue tug HMRT Restive (Lt. D.M. Richards, RNR) went alongside to assist the pumping, but at 13.15 hours oil came in contact with the hot boilers and the fumes exploded, sending flames up through the funnel. The ship was soon ablaze amidships so the master ordered the ship to be abandoned. All men went aboard the tug except a skeleton crew and were then transferred to HMS Laforey because HMS Restive continued to tow the burning ship slowly towards Oran for 14 hours, but she capsized to port and sank 12 miles off Oran in position 36°01'N, 00°33'W at about 04.00 hours on 22 December.

The Strathallan had 440 crew members, 26 gunners, 248 Queen Alexandra nurses and 4408 British and American troops (among them 296 officers, some possibly of the Headquarter staff of the 1st US Army) on board. Of this number, only 6 crew members and five troops were lost.

24 Feb 1943
HMS Brixham picks up 53 men from the American merchant Nathanael Greene that was torpedoed and damaged by German U-boat U-565 about 40 nautical miles north-east of Oran in position 35°56'N, 00°05'E. Brixham took the Nathanael Greene in tow until the British rescue tug HMRT Restive took over at 21.00 hours and beached the vessel at Salamanda, four miles west of Mostaganem at 06.30 hours the next day.

16 Mar 1943

Combined convoy WS 28 / KMS 11.

This combined convoy was formed off Oversay on 16 March 1943. The convoy was divided into convoys WS 28 and KMS 11 at sea on 21 March 1943.

The combined convoy was made up of the following (troop) transports; Banfora (British, 9472 GRT, built 1914), Brittanic (British, 26943 GRT, built 1930), Cuba (British, 11420 GRT, built 1923), Duchess of Bedford (British, 20123 GRT, built 1928), Empire Might (British, 9209 GRT, built 1942), Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (Dutch, 19429 GRT, built 1930), Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931), Orion (British, 23371 GRT, built 1935), Ormonde (British, 14982 GRT, built 1917), Orontes (British, 20097 GRT, built 1925), Otranto (British, 20026 GRT, built 1925), Nea Hellas (British, 16991 GRT, built 1922), Perthshire (British, 10496 GRT, built 1936), Rangitata (British, 16737 GRT, built 1929), Reina del Pacifico (17702 GRT, built 1931), Sobieski (Polish, 11030 GRT, built 1939), Strathnaver (British, 22283 GRT, built 1931), Tegelberg (Dutch, 14150 GRT, built 1937), Waipawa (British, 12436 GRT, built 1934), Winchester Castle (British, 20012 GRT, built 1930) and Windsor Castle (British, 19141 GRT, built 1922).

Also the naval auxiliaries HMS Bulolo (Capt.(Retd.) R.L. Hamer, RN), HMS Keren (A/Cdr. S.E. Crewe-Read, RN), HMS Largs (Cdr. E.A. Divers, RNR) and HMS Ulster Monarch (Lt.Cdr. N.A.F. Kingscote, RNR) were part of the convoy.

On assembly off Oversay the following escorts were with the convoy; sloops HMS Wren (Lt.Cdr. R.M. Aubrey, RN, with the S.O. 2nd Escort Group on board, Capt. F.J. Walker, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Woodpecker (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) R.E.S. Hugonin, DSC, RN), destroyer HMS Douglas (Lt.Cdr. K.H.J.L. Phibbs, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Badsworth (Lt. G.T.S. Gray, DSC, RN), HMS Eggesford (Lt.Cdr. D.W. Austin, RN), HMS Whaddon (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN), HMS Goathland (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Pumphrey, RN, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) and ORP Krakowiak (Lt.Cdr. W. Maracewicz, ORP).

On 21 March the convoy split up into two sections, KMF 11, made up of Banfora, Cuba, Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, Ormonde, Orion, Nea Hellas, Rangitata, Windsor Castle and HMS Ulster Monarch proceeded to Algiers where it arrived on 23 March 1943 escorted by the original escort minus HMS Douglas which put into Gibraltar on 22 March with damage to her port propeller. After inspection it was apparent that she was able to continue but she was not to exceed 22 knots so it was decided that she could rejoin the convoy. All five escort destroyers also put into Gibraltar to fuel but departed again later the same day to rejoin the convoy. HMS Ulster Monarch also put into Gibraltar.

At 0254/23, the Windsor Castle was torpedoed by a German He.111 from I/KG 26 in position 37°28'N, 01°10'E. The passengers (troops) were taken off by HMS Wren, HMS Eggesford and HMS Whaddon. The last two ships reported to be dangerously overloaded with survivors.

Three tugs were sailed to go to the damaged ship assistance, Salvestor from Algiers, Hengist from Gibraltar and Restive from Oran.

Also the destroyer HMS Loyal (Lt.Cdr. H.E.F. Tweedie, DSC, RN) and escort destroyer HMS Lamerton (Lt.Cdr. C.R. Purse, DSC and Bar, RN), which were on A/S patrol off Algiers were ordered to proceed to the convoy. Also the destroyer HMS Eskimo (Capt. J.W.M. Eaton, DSO, DSC, RN) and escort destroyers HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN) and HMS Farndale (Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN) were ordered to do the same sailing from Oran.

At 1027/3, it was reported that Windsor Castle was abandoned and slowly sinking and the HMS Loyal had taken off the crew. HMS Whaddon and HMS Eggesford were proceeding to Algiers covered by HMS Douglas.

At 1621/3, Windsor Castle was still afloat and HMS Farndale was ettempting to take her in tow. The ship however sank suddenly at 1724/3. HMS Eskimo, HMS Loyal, HMS Calpe, HMS Farndale, Hengist and Restive then proceeded to Oran while HMS Lamerton and Salvestor proceeded to Algiers.


WS 28, made up of Brittanic, Duchess of Bedford, Empire Might, Monarch of Bermuda, Orontes, Otranto, Perthshire, Reina del Pacifico, Sobieski, Strathnaver, Tegelberg, Waipawa, Winchester Castle, HMS Bulolo, HMS Keren and HMS Largs.

To escort these ships the destroyers HMS Malcolm (Cdr. J.M. Money, RN) and HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. S.R.J. Woods, RNR) sailed from Casablanca on 20 March and the destroyers HMS Wolverine (Lt. I.M. Clegg, RN) and HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Farrington, RN) sailed from Gibraltar also on 20 March. They joined the convoy in the morning of March 21st after which the convoy split up.

Another destroyer, HMS Ashanti (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN), departed Gibraltar on 21 March and she joined the convoy later the same day.

On 22 March the transport Empire Might reported a fire in her stokehold rendering her immobile. She was then towed to Dakar by HMS Ashanti.

The remainder of convoy WS 28 arrived at Freetown on 27 March 1943.


Convoy WS 28 departed Freetown for South Africa on 30 March 1943.

The composition of the convoy was the same on departed as in which it had arrived at Freetown three days earlier.

Escort was provided on departure from Freetown by the light cruiser HMS Kenya (Capt. D.P. Evans, RN), destroyers HMS Redoubt (Lt.Cdr. N.E.G. Ropner, DSO, RN), HMS Quadrant, HMS Malcolm, HMS Witch and HMS Wolverine.

At 2359Z/30, HMS Ulster Monarch overtook and joined the convoy coming from Freetown.

At 0600A/4, HMS Redoubt and HMS Quadrant parted company with the convoy to refuel at Pointe Noire. They rejoined the convoy at 1212B/5.

At 1300B/5, HMS Malcolm, HMS Witch and HMS Wolverine were detached.

At 1420B/5, HMS Racehorse (Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN) and HMS Relentless (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Fell, RN) joined the escort.

On the 11th the convoy split up, Britannic, Duchess of Bedford, Monarch of Bermuda, Tegelberg, Waipawa and Winchester Castle went to Capetown apparently escorted by HMS Redoubt and HMS Relentless. HMS Largs and HMS Ulster Monarch went to Simonstown, as did HMS Kenya and HMS Quadrant and HMS Racehorce.

The destroyers HMS Quilliam (Capt. S.H. Carlill, DSO, RN), HMS Rotherham (Lt. J.R.L. Moore, RN) and HMS Foxhound (Cdr. C.J. Wynne-Edwards, DSC and Bar, RN) joined the remainder of the convoy (Orontes, Otranto, Perthshire, Reina del Pacifico, Sobieski, Strathnaver, HMS Bulolo and HMS Keren) which arrived at Durban on 14 April 1943.


On 15 April the 'Capetown section' of the convoy departed from there, it was made up of the same ships as that had arrived at Capetown but apparently without the Britannic. HMS Largs joined the convoy off Simonstown. Escort was provided by HMS Kenya, HMS Quadrant, HMS Redoubt and HMS Relentless.

Around noon on the 18th the 'Capetown section' joined up with the 'Durban section' which had departed from there escorted by HMAS Napier (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Green, DSC, RAN) and HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, RN) which also joined the convoy as escorts. HMS Quadrant parted company and proceeded to Durban.

At 2000C/20, the destroyers parted company to return to Aden.

At 1015D/24, the armed merchant cruisers HMS Canton (A/Capt. G.N. Loriston-Clarke, RN) and HMS Chitral (A/Capt.(Retd.) G.W. Hoare-Smith, RN) joined the convoy to take over the escort. They had sailed from Kilindini on 22 April. HMS Kenya parted company with the convoy at noon and set course for Kilindini where she arrived on 25 April to join the Eastern Fleet.

At 2300D/27, HMS Chitral parted company with the convoy following which she proceeded to Bombay where she arrived on 1 May 1943.

On 30 April 1943 the convoy was dispersed off Aden. HMS Canton arrived at Aden later on the same day.

27 Mar 1943
HMRT Restive (Lt. D.M. Richards, RNR) takes the British merchant City of Perth in tow and beach her south of Cape Figalo, Algeria. The ship had been torpedoed by the German U-boat U-77 the day before about 52 miles west of Oran in position 35°50’N, 01°41’W.

24 May 1943

Convoy ET 21.

This convoy departed Bone / Philippeville on 24 May 1943 for Gibraltar where it arrived on 28 May 1943.

No full info on the composition of this convoy is currently known to us.

On departure from Bone / Philippeville the convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Javelin (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, DSC, RN), HMS Kelvin (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Velox (Lt. G.B. Barstow, RN), HMS Venomous (Lt. H.D. Durell, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Liddesdale (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Mackenzie, RNR).

HMS Javelin and HM Kelvin were detached on the 26th to conduct an A/S hunt but rejoined later the same day.

The convoy made a short call at Algiers on 26 May and various ships were detached and other ships joined and the escort was reinforced with other vessels. On arrival at Gibraltar the following escorts had joined the convoy additional to the ones listed above; corvette HMS Pentstemon (T/Lt. D.C. Williams, RNVR), A/S trawlers HMS Gavotte (T/Lt. D. Bates, RNR), HMS Tango (T/Lt. J. Hunter, RNR) and the auxiliary A/S trawlers HMS King Sol (Lt. P.A. Read, RNR) and HMS Reighton Wyke (Skr. G.M. Sutherland, RNR).

Also the rescue tug HMRT Restive had joined the convoy (2)

4 Jul 1943
HMRT Restive (Lt. D.M. Richards, RNR) and HMS Rhododendron (K 78) 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.

10 Aug 1944
Around 1315B/10, HMS Frobisher (Capt. J.F.W. Mudford, RN) weighed anchor and departed the operations area for the Chatham Dockyard. She is being towed by the tug HMRT Restive.

Around 1530B/10, the escort destroyers HMS Cottesmore (Lt. W.D. O'Brien, DSC, RN) and ORP Krakowiak (Kmdr.ppor. (Cdr.) W. Maracewicz) joined as escorts.

Around 1945B/10, HMS Cottesmore parted company.

Around 2145B/10, the frigate HMS Hotham (A/Lt.Cdr. S. Ayles, RNR) joined.

They arrived off Sheerness around 0650B/12.

HMS Frobisher proceeded to the Chatham Dockyard in the evening. (3)


  1. ADM 234/560 + ADM 234/561 + War diary (KTB) of U-375 from 30 September 1942 to 23 December 1942 (NARA, T 1022, roll 2892, PG 30437)
  2. ADM 199/639
  3. ADM 53/119466

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

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