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HMS VENETIA (D 53) - V & W-class Destroyer
On a Field Blue, a Lion's mask winged Gold.
The Damage Report reads;
VENETIA 19th Oct, 1940.
One Contact Mine.
VENETIA while operating 3 cables from the East Knob Buoy struck a mine. The explosion occurred under the vessel in way of the engine room and caused the vessel to break in two, the two halves floating for a short while before sinking.
Volo non fugia: 'I fly but do not flee'
HMS Venetia was laid down on 2nd February 1917and launched on 29th October 1917. At the end of WW1, she was placed into reserve and returned to service at the outbreak of World War Two.
Venetia at Belfast.
Displacement: 1,272 tons
Length: 300 feet (95.1 metres)
Beam: 26 feet 7 inches (8.2 metres)
Draught: 11 feet9 inches (3.6 metres)
Speed: 34 knots (39 MPH, 63km/h)
Range: 3,500 miles (5,632 Kilometres)
Power: 3 x water-tube boilers.
Propulsion: 2 x shafts, 2 x steam turbines
Complement: 110 Officers and men
Guns: 4 × single QF 4 in (102 mm) L/45 guns.
2 x QF 2-pound Mk. II “Pom-pom (40mm L/39 anti-aircraft guns.
1 x QF 12 pounder, 20 CWT. Mk.1(76 mm),
Torpedoes: 4 (2x2) tubes for 21 inch torpedoes.
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 originally 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.
Sep 1939 to April 1940. HMS Venetia was recommissioned and deployed for Atlantic convoy duty where she escorted OG and HG Convoys on part of their journey to and from Gibraltar.
May 1940. HMS Venetia was transferred to Nore Command for operations related to the evacuation of Allied forces from Europe, supporting military operations in the Channel area and attacking German shore based units.
10 May 1940. HMS Venetia was at Sheerness.
11 may 1940. Light cruisers Arethusa, Galatea, Birmingham and destroyers Codrington, Brilliant, Vimy, Valorous, Griffin, Hereward, Hyperion, Havock, Mohawk, Venetia, Vivacious, Windsor, Verity, Venomous, Wivern, Wild Swan were actively working off the Dutch coast.
12 May 40. HMS Venetia with HMS Vivacious escorted HMS Codrington as she rescued the Dutch Royal Family and 100 British refugees from Holland and brought them to England.
22 May 40. Destroyers Vimy, Windsor, Venetia departed the Nore for Dover to assist in various duties. The Venetia and Windsor escorted Autocarrier to Calais and then acted as guard ships.
23 May 40. In late afternoon, destroyers Venetia, Vimiera, Venomous arrived from Dover to reinforce ships off Boulogne.
HMS Venetia together with HMS Wild Swan, HMS Whitshed and HMS Venomous were sent to evacuated troops, the Irish Guards and Welsh Guards who had been trapped there by advancing German troops and tanks of the 2nd Panzer Division, from Boulogne in France.
HMS Venetia suffered loss of life and damage from shore based guns, tanks and snipers during the evacuation.
As HMS Venetia entered Boulogne she came under fire from a French shore battery which had been captured by the Germans and unfortunately not been disabled by the French forces which had previously occupied them. This was an attempt to sink her in the harbour entrance trapping Venomous and Wild Swan and bringing the evacuation operation to an end.
HMS Venetia’s B gun received a direct hit blowing men overboard and killing its entire crew. Another shell hit her bridge causing severe casualties amongst her bridge personnel. Twenty of her crew were killed and 11 wounded amongst these her captain Lt. Cdr. B. H. de C. Mellor. Venetia’s engines stopped and she ran aground. HMS Venetia was set on fire aft close to the Torpedoes Tubes and the Torpedoes were jettisoned.
HMS Venomous on seeing the plight of the Venetia and observing she was under fire from the French guns in the fort opened fire on it. The second salvo by Venomous blew off one side of the fort destroying the gun, causing artillery pieces to roll down the hill.
The only officer not wounded on HMS Venetia’s Bridge, Sub-Lt D, H, Jones managed to back the Venetia out of the harbour.
Although HMS Venetia was unable to pick up troops from Boulogne, HMS Whitshed and HMS Vimiera, which had entered Boulogne harbour first, each rescued over 550 men, while HMS Venomous and HMS White Swan each took off over 400 troops.
OFFICERS from Navy List August 1940
(Rank. Name, Date joined ship.)
Lieut. Com. D. L. Craig. 25 May 40.
Lieut. Com. B. H. de C. Mellor. 27 Mar 40.
Lieutenant. R. J. M. Wratislaw 23 Oct 39
Lieutenant. E. A. O. G. Herring. 31 July.
Surg. Lieut. Temp. RNVR. V. P. McDonagh, MB. chB. DPH. 19 Jan 40.
Surg. Lieut. Temp. RNVR. J. S. P. H. Fergus, MB chB. 22 July 40
Sub-Lieut. J. S. E. Rogers. 3 July 40.
Sub-Lieut. RNVR. D. H. Jones. 31 July 39. This was the hero who backed HMS Venetia out of Boulogne harbour under heavy fire from the enemy.
Engineer. S.S. Vincent. 31 Oct 39
Gunner, (T) D. Honey (act). May 40
OFFICERS from Navy List June 1941
HMS Venetia was sunk on the 19th Oct, 1940, but surprisingly in the Navy Lists of February 1941 she is still listed with the following officers.
Lieutenant. F. Bruen, DSC. 26 Aug 40.
Cd. Engineer. S. S. Vincent, DSC. 31 Oct 39. (On the ship when it sunk)
Gunner, (T) D. Honey (act). May 40. (On the ship when it sunk)
If you, your father or your grandfather have any additional information about this ship, crew lists, stories, photographs, please send copies of them to be added to our records and this website.
Frederick Charles Ballinger is bottom right in both photographs. Thanks to Rose Krugess for these photographs of her grandfather. If anyone can identify any others in the photographs please contact us.
Site of the sinking of HMS Venetia.
AGNEW, Peter, Ordinary Seaman, C/JX 195489, MPK
ALEXANDER, James E, Ordinary Seaman, D/JX 165241, MPK
BEVAN, Edward R, Able Seaman, D/J 26867 Pens No 28722, killed
BISHOP, James, Able Seaman, D/J 20494 Pens No 28845, MPK
BURTON, Arthur, Stoker 1c, D/K 64200, MPK
COUSINS, James J B, Leading Seaman, D/JX 131673, MPK
CRAIG, Desmond L C, Lieutenant Commander, MPK
DENNE, Sydney, Able Seaman, D/SSX 21950, MPK
DIXON, James, Ordinary Seaman, D/JX 188731, MPK
DOLMORE, Edward J C, Officer's Cook 1c, D/LX 20967, MPK
DREW, David, Py/Ty/Sub Lieutenant, RNVR, MPK
EDWARDS, Thomas T G, Leading Steward, D/LX 21403, MPK
FERGUS, Samuel P H, Ty/Surgeon Lieutenant, RNVR, MPK
FORD, Charles R, Stoker 1c, D/K 64031, MPK
FOSTER, Edward, Stoker 2c, D/KX 104454, MPK
GWYN, Griffith G, Ordinary Seaman, D/JX 188714, MPK
HAMILTON, Sydney, Ordinary Seaman, D/JX 187754, MPK
HAYMAN, Theodore J, Stoker Petty Officer, D/KX 78991, MPK
JONES, Denis H, Sub Lieutenant, RNR, MPK (When all officers were wounded it was he who backed the badly damaged HMS Venetia out of Boulogne.)
KINGS, Stanley, Steward, C/LX 22771, MPK
LANGDON, Joseph A, Leading Stoker, D/KX 77334, MPK
LUCRAFT, Frederick C, Stoker 2c, D/KX 104875, MPK
MORRIS, Frederick J, Canteen Manager, NAAFI, MPK
PHYSICK, William C E, Able Seaman, D/J 22380 Pens No 22380, MPK
PROSSER, Clifford, Ordinary Seaman, D/JX 173967, MPK
RICHARDS, Robert L J S, Able Seaman, RFR, D/J 74044 B 14925, MPK
ROBERTS, Joseph, Stoker 1c, D/KX 97584, MPK
ROGERS, John S E, Sub Lieutenant, MPK
SIMPSON, Thomas R, Steward, D/LX 22705, MPK
SINDEN, Ronald L, Able Seaman, D/SD/X 1642, MPK
STILES, William G E, Chief Engine Room Artificer, D/M 38822, MPK
TAYLOR, Harold A, Ordinary Seaman, D/JX 192957, MPK
TORR, Ernest, Able Seaman, RFR, D/J 57954 B 14772, MPK
WATSON, Graham K, Stoker 2c, D/KX 104579, MPK
WATTS, Charles D B, Stoker 2c, D/KX 99255, MPK.
Survivors from HMS Venetia were taken on board HMS Garth, HMS Walpole and HMS Balmoral,
The Damage Report reads;
Venetia, 23 May 1940.
Seventeen Direct Hits probably 7.5-inch direct action fused Shells. Machine gun and Rifle fire etc.
Time out of Action - 7 weeks.
VENETIA was in Boulogne Harbour in company with Venomous to embark troops when they were engaged by shore batteries, field guns, tanks, machine guns and snipers. Minor structural damage was caused by the hits, which were all on the superstructure and funnels, but splinter damage was serious.
Fighting Efficiency - Seriously impaired. The main steam pipe was cut and speed reduced by 50% while guns were fired by local control only. The W/T T/S and bridge steering were put out of action.
Two of the officers were seriously wounded and twenty men killed.
Amongst those killed in action were;
DUNDERDALE, John M, Signalman, D/SSX 17672, killed
ELLIS, George H, Act/Leading Seaman, D/JX 132285, missing
HORN, Ernest, Leading Telegraphist, D/J 106419, killed
HUTCHINSON, Charles F, Able Seaman, RFR, D/J 77101 B 14364, killed
JAMES, Edward W, Act/Leading Seaman, D/JX 141221, missing
MACPHERSON, William S, Able Seaman, D/J 12561 Pens 2289, killed
MAUNSELL, Marcus E L, Sub Lieutenant, killed
WILLIS, William H, Ordinary Seaman, D/JX 169041, MPK
WRIGLEY, Harold W, Able Seaman, D/SSX 17687, killed.
On the following day 25 May 40. COMMONS, Henry E, Telegraphist, P/JX 125405, Died of wounds.
June and July 1940. Under repair.
Aug and Sept 1940. Returned to patrol duties. Destroyers from the Nore Command including those from the 21st Destroyer Flotilla at Sheerness Campbell, Garth, Vesper, Holderness and Venetia patrolled the French coast attacking vessels which were building up for the German Invasion of Great Britain.
19 Oct 40. HMS VENETIA SUNK WITH GREAT LOSS OF LIFE. Thirty-six of her crew were lost.
On the night of the 18/19th Oct 1940 a squadron of destroyers, comprising of HMS Venetia, HMS Walpole and HMS Garth patrolled the straights of dover. The enemy was not sighted and at dawn they withdrew towards Sheerness.
HMS Venetia detonated a mined in the Thames Estuary and sank in position 51.33N 01.01E, 12 miles northeast of Margate off Knob Buoy.