HMS VANESSA (D 29) - V & W-class Destroyer

 
BATTLE HONOURS

ATLANTIC 1939-43
(It is not known why HMS Vanessa does not have battle honours for the Channel or the North Sea as she was damaged by near misses from German bombs in both in the Channel and the North Sea.)

BADGE

On a Field White. a butterfly, Blue.

MOTTO
Quandmeme J’arrive:  'I get there when I arrive'


HMS Vanessa and laid down on l0th May 1917 and launched on 16th March 1918. Placed in reserve after WW1 she was returned to active service in 1939. HMS Vanessa was adopted by the civil community of Barry, Glamorgan.

​HMS Vanessa in port. ( The Vanessa was giving the number ​​I29 following her refitting as a Long-Range Escort.)

Displacement:   1,188 tons
Length:                312 feet (95.1 metres)
Beam:                  29 feet 6 inches (9 metres)
Draught:             11 feet9 inches (3.6 metres)
Speed:                 34 knots (39 MPH, 63km/h)
Range:                 4000 miles (6,500 Kilometres)
Power:                 3 x water-tube boilers.
Propulsion:         2 x shafts, 2 x steam turbines
Complement:     134 Officers and men
Torpedo tubes:   2 × twin 21-inch (533 mm)
Guns:                    4 × single QF 4 in (102 mm) Mk V guns.
                              1 × single QF 3-inch (76 mm) anti-aircraft.

Initially V and W class destroyers had one or two anti-aircraft 2-pound Pom-pom guns mounted on a platform between the funnels. The main guns only had a maximum elevation of 30 degrees and were useless against attack by aircraft.  With the onset of WW2 their main armament was replaced by high angle 4 inch guns. A range of pompoms, machine guns and Oerlikon’s were mounted together with improved fire control and ranging systems.

V and W class destroyers originatelly had two boiler rooms with two boilers in the rear and one in the front boiler room. This being the reason for the forward funnel being thinner. In some of these ships the forward boiler was removed allowing additional accommodation and storage space including an additional 130 tons of oil. The loss of this boiler reduced the speed to 24 knots but this was sufficient for convoy escort duty. This reduction in speed increased the range. For example, a V and W class Destroyer travelling at 15 knots could go three times as far as at top speed.

HMS Vanessa had her forward boiler room removed.

Although HMS Vanessa was not at HMS Wildfire, Sheerness with the 21st Destroyer Flotilla throughout all of World War Two, she is known to have been there at the end of 39 and through most of 1940. She was also there in the first part of 1942. She is listed as being with the 21st Destroyer Flotilla at Sheerness in July 41 having arrived there on the 30th June.

Sep 39. Deployed with 17th Destroyer Flotilla at Plymouth for convoy escort and patrol in SW Approaches. During September, October and November HMS Vanessa was escorting BC convoys (BC5, BC6/R, BC8/R, BC9/1, BC15/1, BC15/R) from the Bristol Channel to Loire in France. (Loire-Atlantique, on the Bay of Biscay) During this time she was in escort with HMS Vivacious another destroyer which would be based at Sheerness.

Dec 39 – July 40.  HMS Vanessa escorted OA Conveys which departed the Thames Estuary and formed at sea to become Convoy OG11 going on to Gibraltar, or leaving the Thames Estuary to disperse in the Atlantic.  Once dispersed HMS Vanessa would escort HX convoys, (Halifax in Canada to Liverpool) on the last leg of their journey.

27 May and 4 June 1940. HMS Vanessa did not take part in the Dunkirk Evacuations as during that time she was escorting convoys.   

14 July 40. HMD Vanessa was escorting Convoy CW6 with HM Destroyer Griffin when she came under air attacks and suffered damage from a near miss by a bomb. She was towed to Dover by HMS Griffin.

Damage Report

Damage reports reads;

VANESSA 14th July 1940.

Near Miss 250 lbs and 50 lb mixed delay action fused Bombs.

Time out of Action, 4 months.

 VANESSA while escorting a convoy 3 miles off Dover was attacked by enemy aircraft. 5 or 6 near miss bombs were dropped abreast “B” gun, 30 ft. to port amidships and 20 f. off the port quarter causing minor damage to hull structure and straining the ship generally. The main and auxiliary machinery suffered damage from cracked castings and the A. S. office, No. 3 store and the forward magazine group were flooded with oil fuel and water. All electrical power was lost through damage to the dynamos and all the secondary lighting was damaged.

Fighting Efficiency - Severely impaired.

Ship was immobilised due to the damage to the main and auxiliary machinery, and the boiler room was inoperative through leakage of steam. The vessel was taken in tow to port.

Aug – Nov 40. Under repair at Chatham Dockyard.

Dec 40. Trials after repairs.

19 June 41. While escorting a North Sea Convoy the Vanessa sustained considerable damage from a bomb.

Damage Report.

Admiral Sir Max Horton, KCB, DSO, Commander in Chief, Western Approaches, inspecting the officers of the HMS Hesperus and HMS Vanessa on their successful action.

The Damage Report reads;

VANESSA 19th June, 1941.

One Direct Hit 100 kgm delay action fused Bomb.

Time out of Action, 9 months including conversion.

VANESSA while escorting a convoy off Cromer was attacked by an enemy aircraft. A direct hit was sustained on the sheer strake at the fore end of No. 1 boiler room, and. the bomb finally burst on the ship’s bottom in N. 1 boiler room. The outer bottom plating was blown upwards over the whole length of No. 1 boiler room and 9 ft. forward of it, between 2nd longitudinal starboard and bilge keel port, and a hole 6 ft. by 9 ft.  was made in the outer bottom. Severe damage was caused to the surrounding structure. The upper deck plating was split and blown upwards from near the after end of No. 2 boiler room to the bulkhead at the fore end of No. 2 oil fuel tank and the E, R. A’s and C.P.0’s messes. Immediate flooding of No.1 and 2 boiler rooms and No.2 oil fuel tank took place.  No, 1 boiler room was wrecked, No. 1 boiler exploded and No. 2 boiler was severely damaged.  The forward funnel was blown overboard and the after funnel was wrecked.

Fighting Efficiency - Severely impaired.

The vessel was immobilised and out of action and was taken in tow to Yarmouth. Guns could only be fought in local control. The main W/T was destroyed and the D/G was out of action.

There was loss of life due to the enemy attack.

ANTHONY, Eric G, Engine Room Artificer 4c, P/MX 50368, killed
BULLEN, Josiah, Stoker Petty Officer, RFR, P/K 59604, killed
BURTENSHAW, Alfred T, Petty Officer, P/J 103959, killed
CRAIG, Herbert A, Stoker 2c, P/KX 112000, killed
FRY, Edgar S, Act/Stoker Petty Officer, P/KX 81989, killed
JONES, Ernest E, Stoker, P/SS 121638, killed
LOWE, George E, Able Seaman, P/JX 129022, killed
NEWTON, Matthew B, Chief Petty Officer Stoker, P/K 61801, killed
WATTS, Richard, Able Seaman, P/J 109274, killed.

20 June 41
SCHOFIELD, John, Ordinary Telegraphist, P/JX 201963, DOW. (Died of Wounds.)

24 June 41
BEACOCK, Harold, Stoker, P/SS 125775, DOW. (Died of Wounds.)

1941. HMS Vanessa joined Western Approaches Command for Atlantic convoy defence.

June 41 - early 42. HMS Vanessa underwent repairs and was converted for long range escort duty. Here forward boiler was removed allowing additional accommodation and storage space including an additional 130 tons of oil. The loss of this boiler reduced the speed to 24 knots but increased her range. After her refit the Vanessa's number was changed to I29.

1942. After refit and trials continued escorting cross Atlantic convoys (HX15, HX17, HX19, HX25, HX28, HX198. HX230, HX213, HX219.) from Halifax in Canada (sometimes New York, USA) to Liverpool, England.

9 October 1942. Drowning, SIMPSON, John W, Stoker 1c, P/M 59296, died.

Nov 42. HMS Vanessa was detached from Convoy HX213 to join escort of Convoy SC107. Convoy SC107 was attacked by a wolf pack of U-boats which sank 15 ships.

Dalcroy (British) was sunk by U402. All 49 crew were rescued by Stockport the Rescue Ship.

Daleby (British) was sunk by U89. All 47 crew were rescued by Brúarfoss (Iceland).

Empire Antelope (British) was sunk by U402. All 50 crew were rescued by Stockport the Rescue Ship.

Empire Leopard (British) was sunk by U402 with the loss of 38 of her 41 crew. Survivors were rescued by Stockport the Rescue Ship.

Empire Lynx (British) was sunk by U132 all 41 crew were rescued by Titus (Netherlands)

Empire sunrise (British) was sunk by U402 and U84. All 51 crew were rescued by Stockport the Rescue Ship.

Hahira (US) was sunk by U521 with the loss of three of her 56 crew. Survivors were rescued by Stockport the Rescue Ship.

Hartington (British) was sunk by U522, U438 and U521 with the loss of 24 of her 48 crew. Survivors were rescued by HMS Winchelsea

Hatimura (British) was carrying explosives. It was torpedoed by U132. The Hatimura blew up and sunk its attacker the U132.

Hobbema (Dutch) sunk by U123 with the loss of 28 of her 44 crew. Survivors were rescued by USS Pessacus and USS Uncas.

Jeypore (British) sunk by U89 with the loss of one of her 91 crew. Survivors were rescued by USS Pessacus.

Maritima (British) sunk by U522 with the loss of 24 of her 48 crew. Survivors were rescued by HMS Winchelsea.
Mount Pelion (Greek) sunk by U522 with the loss of seven of her 39 crew.

Parthenon (Greek) sank by U522 with the loss of six of her 29 crew.

Rinos (Greek) sunk by U402 with the loss of eight of her 31 crew.

3 Nov 42.  HMS Vanessa drove off U-Boat attacks on SC107 with HM Corvette CELANDINE after detection of radio transmissions from the U-Boat.

30 Dec 42. No ships were sunk in convoy HX219 which was escorted by HMS Vanessa due to the gallant action of the Vanessa and the Hesperus. When a submarine was detected by ASDIC both the Vanessa and the Hesperus repeatedly depth charged it forcing it to surface.

Although damaged the submarine tried to escape on the surface. The Vanessa rammed the U-boat but still it tried to evade capture. The Hesperus also rammed the U-boat. With the second impact the U-boat broke in two and it sunk. Seven of her crew abandoned ship and were rescued by both ships. Thirty-seven of the U-boats crew were lost. Several of the U-boat crew were wounded and would later be stretchered ashore.

The Damage Report reads;

VANESSA 26th Dec, 1942.

Rammed submarine.

Time out of Action, 6 days.

VANESSA, while operating in the North Atlantic at 23 knots, rammed an enemy submarine. When attacked the submarine was in the act of surfacing, with conning tower in view, and moving at approximately 18 knots. VANESSA rammed the starboard side, between the conning tower and stem, with a glancing blow and sustained minor damage to the fore foot.

Fighting Efficiency - Not impaired.

8 January 1943. Lost overboard, BRUCE, Allan F, Seaman, RNR, P/X 19766 A.

27 Oct 43. Lost overboard, SHARPLES, Kenneth, Ordinary Seaman (RDF), P/JX 563837, MPK

4 Feb 43. While escorting convoy SC118 again detected wireless transmissions for enemy U-boats and despatched HMS Vimy and HMS Beverley to intercept. The U-boat was depth charged and forced to the surface. The U187 was engaged by gunfire and sunk. Forty-five U-boat survivors were rescued and taken prisoner.

Once again the Wolf Pack of German U-boats attacked. Eleven ships were sunk including the rescue ship Toward.

Adamas (Greek) was in a collision. The Wreck was sunk by HMS Beverley. 13 survivors were rescued by the Lobelia, (Free French Naval Forces).

Africka (British) sunk by U402 with the loss of 23 of the 60 people aboard.

Daghild (Norway) Sunk by U402, U614 and U608 was torpedoed and damaged by U402 and was abandoned by her 39 crew, who were rescued by Lobelia the Daghild was torpedoed and sunk the next day by U-608.

Harmala (British) sunk by U604 with the loss of 43 of her 54 crew. Survivors were rescued by Lobelia.

Henry R. Mallory (USA) Troop Ship was sunk by U402 with the loss of 272 of the 494 people aboard.

Kalliopi (Greek) sunk by U402 with the loss of four of her 36 crew.

Newton Ash (British) Sunk by U402 with the loss of 34 of her 38 crew.

Polyktor (Greek) sunk by U266 Only two crew survived, they were taken aboard U-266 as prisoners of war.

Robert e, Hopkins (USA) Escort Oiler (Fuel Tanker) sunk by U402 with the loss of 15 of her 57 crew. Survivors were rescued by Mignonette.

Towards (British) rescue ship sunk by U402 with the loss of 56 of 74 q1crew and rescued crew from other ships.

West Portal (USA) sunk by U413 with the loss of all 77 crew.

Zagloba (Polish) sunk by U262 with the loss of all 26 crew.

1943 HMS Vanessa continues with the Atlantic convoys.

1944. Unexpectedly the now aging destroyer was withdrawn from service and converted into a Target Ship for training of aircrew in shipping attacks.

1945. Target ship for air crew training continuous.

HMS Vanessa was sold for breaking up on 4th March 1947 and arrived at the yard in February 1949.

OFFICERS from Navy List August 1940.
(Rank. Name, Date joined ship.)

Lieut. Com. E. A. Stocker, DSC. 12 Feb 40               
Lieutenant. M. P. Pollock. 2 Oct 39                           
Surg. Lieut. Temp RNVR. W. J. Matheson, MB, ChB. 12 Feb 40      
Sub-Lieut. P. G. Loasby. 31 July 39
Sub-Lieut. T.V.A. Cleeve. 8 Jan 40                              
Sub-Lieut. RNR.  R. A. Sly. 31 July 39
Gunner. (T) S. W. Cliffe (ret). 23 Sept 39                 
Engineer. F. F. Odds. 22 Sept 38

OFFICERS from Navy List June 1941.

Lieutenant. J. H. Stuckley. 7 Jan 41
Lieutenant. T. V. A. Cleeve. 8 Jan 40
Surg. Lieut. Temp RNVR. W. J. Matheson, MB, ChB. 12 Feb 40      
Sub-Lieut P. H. E. Bennett 26 Dec 40
Sub-Lieut. RNR.  R. A. Sly. 31 July 39
Gunner. (T) V. R. Marlow (act).  3 Sept 40
Engineer. F. F. Odds. 22 Sept 38
Midshipman. D. Fitzroy-Williams. 5 Mar 41.

OFFICERS from Navy List June 42.

Lieutenant. A. H. C. Booth. 3 Mar 42                        
Lieutenant. R.F. Plugge. 31 Mar 42
Lieutenant. C. E. Sheen. 31 Mar 42
Surg. Lieut. Temp RNVR. M. L. H. Evans, MRCS, LRCP. 15 Apr 42
Act. Sub-Lieut. RNR. F. H. Curry. 16 Apr 42
Temp. Sub-Lieut, R.N.V.R. H. C. Swindall. 22 Mar 42
Temp. Sub-Lieut,, R.N.V.R. K. M. White. 22 Mar 42
Gunner. (T) S. Wild (act). 24 Feb 42
Gunner. (T) V. R. Marlow. 3 Sept 40
Temp Wt. Engineer. R. S. Edwards. 16 Feb 42
Midshipman. Midshipman D. Fitzroy-Williams. 5 Mar 41.

OFFICERS from Navy List June 43

Lieutenant. R.F. Plugge. 31 Mar 42
Lieutenant. C. E. Sheen. DSC 31 Mar 42
Temp Lieut. RNVR. H. C. Swindall. 22 Mar 42
Surg. Lieut. Temp RNVR. M. L. H. Evans, MRCS, LRCP. 15 Apr 42
Sub Lieut. RNR. F. H. Curry. 16 Apr 42.
Temp sub Lieut. RNVR. K. M. White, DSC. 22 Mar 42
Temp. Gunner. (T) E. G. Bell. 25 Feb 43
Gunner Temp. Wt. Engineer. R. S. Edwards. 16 Feb 42.

OFFICERS from Navy List June 44.

Lieutenant. B. J. Anderson, 21 Feb 44. In Command.                        
Temp. Lieutenant.  RNVR. H. C. Swindall. 22 Mar 42                         
Temp. Lieutenant.  RNVR. J. D. Kendall. 24 Aug 43                             
Temp. Lieutenant.  RNVR. R. F. Merz. 12 Dec 43
Temp. Lieutenant. (E) RNR. G. B. Roberts. 14 Feb 44        
Surg. Lieut. Temp. RNVR. E. V. Mackay, MRCS, LRCP. 25 Aug 43   
Sub-Lieut.Temp. RNVR. J. Hevey. 7 Mar 44
Sub-Lieut.Temp. (Act) RNVR. P. A. St. C. Abbey. Sept 43  
Gunner, Temp. E. G. Bell. 25 Feb 43.


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V and W Type Destroyer. Note the torpedo tubes towards the stern.

Admiral Sir Max Horton, KCB, DSO, Commander in Chief, Western Approaches, congratulating the officers and ships' companies of the HMS Vanessa and HMS Hesperus on their successful action.

Damage Report

Wounded U-boat prisoner being transferred between Destroyers Vanessa and Hesperus.