German U-boat survivor being escorted ashore from HMS Vimy.

MOTTO

Audaces Fortuna Juvat: Fortune favours the brave.

HMS Vimy started her life during WW1 as HMS Vancouver named after the explorer, Captain George Vancouver of the Royal Navy who explored and charted North America's northwestern coast and after who Vancouver Island and the city of Vancouver in Canada are named. Between wars, while in reserve, HMS Vancouver was renamed HMS Vimy, to commemorated the capture of Vimy Ridge by the Canadian Army in 1917. Laid down on 30th June 1916 she was launched on 28th December 1917. In 1942 she was adopted by the civil community of Hucknall in Nottinghamshire. 

 

German prisoners, the crew of a U-boat, being escorted ashore from HMS VIMY.

HMS VIMY (D 33) V & W Class Destroyer

BATTLE HONOURS
ATLANTIC 1939-45 - DUNKIRK 1940 - ENGLISH CHANNEL 1944-45 - NORMANDY 1944 - NORTH SEA 1944-45

BADGE

On a field Red a Mills Bomb proper with a wreath Gold.

HMS Vimy making smoke.

Sep 39.  HMS Vimy was deployed with the 11th Destroyer Flotilla in the English Channel for convoy defence and anti-submarine patrol. During this time, she escorted OB and OG Convoys from Liverpool into the Atlantic to be dispersed about 750 nautical miles west of Landsend.

10 May 40. Destroyers Vimy, Versatile, Wessex, Walpole, Windsor, Vesper, Vivacious, Venetia came from various Western Approaches Flotillas to come under the command of the Commander in Chief Nore.

On 11 May 40. 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. Destroyers Vimy and Windsor departed Dover at 0500 to meet destroyers Vivacious and Venetia from Harwich off Maas Light Vessel to operate off the Dutch coast. 

13 May 40. HMS Vimy with HMS Arethusa escorted SS Perseus carrying gold bullion from Ijmuiden in Holland.

22 May 40. HMS Vimy (Lt Cdr C. G.W. Donald), with HMS Keith (Captain D. J. R. Simson,) and HMS Wild Swan (Lt Cdr J. L. Younghusband) bombarded German targets in Calais all day long. The Vimy took part in the evacuation of troops from Calais and rescued the Welsh Guards who were surrounded by the enemy and took them to Dover.

23 May 40. HMS Vimy took a 200 strong Royal Marines demolition party XD G. (Lt Cdr A. E. P. Welman DSO DSC) to Boulogne. (Operation XD). Their objective was to destroy oil installations and anything which could of use to the enemy.

As the Germans attacked Boulogne, the Vimy, White Swan and Keith supported the British forces by firing at targets such as German tanks, guns and motorized formations, all the time under air attack.

The Vimy opened fire on the German occupied Fort de la Creche and were rewarded when an ammunition magazine exploded. At the same time as rescuing a French sailor she came under fire from German field guns which she engaged successfully.

As the Vimy and Keith tied up at the dockside and began to take on troops they were again attacked by German aircraft. The first wave was beaten of by British Spitfires, but the second wave of some 60 Stuka Dive Bombers press home their attack on the docks and ships. At the same time the Germans troops attacked with mortar and machine gun fire.

A bomb exploded alongside the Keith causing considerable damaged. Shortly thereafter her Captain, David J. R. Simson was killed by machine gun fire.

The Keith took aboard one hundred and eighty troops but lost her Captain, Captain Simson with seven of her crews being killed and twenty-eight men wounded, including Lt Cdr R. S. Miller.

The Vimy also came under concentrated fire from the enemy as she took off troops. She backed out of the harbour stern first and on fire a mortar shell exploded on her forecastle. Lieutenant Commander Colin. G W. Donald was mortally wounded, Sub Lieutenant Douglas R, Webster was killed and several more of her crew were wounded. Nevertheless, HMS Vimy took off one hundred and fifty troops.

HMS Whiteshed and HMS Vimiera after fighting off German bombers outside the harbour also managed to rescue troops. HMS Whitshed took off the demolition party which Vimy had earlier landed and rescued five hundred and eighty troops and HMS Vimiera took on five hundred and fifty-five troop.

HMS Wild Swan rescued four hundred and three troops and HMS Venomous rescued five hundred troops. With troops still ashore HMS Windsor was ordered back in to Boulogne and picked up six hundred men, including thirty wounded.

THE very last destroyer to enter to Boulogne was the Vimiera which took on board 1,400 troops and civilians and left the harbour seriously overloaded.

Damage Report. 

Lieutenant Commander R. B. Stannard, VC, Royal Navy Reserve, in his cabin on board HMS VIMY, after her successful battle. Lieutenant Stannard, was awarded the Victoria Cross when in command of HM Trawler ARAB during the Norwegian campaign in 1940.

When enemy bombing attacks had set on fire many tons of hand grenades on Namsos wharf, with no shore water supply available, Lieutenant Stannard ran Arab’s bows against the wharf and held her there. Sending all but two of his crew aft, he then endeavored for two hours to extinguish the fire with hoses from the forecastle. He persisted in this work till the attempt had to be given up as hopeless.

When he was ashore and a trawler next to his ship was hit by a bomb and set on fire, he, with two others, boarded Arab and moved her 100 yards before the other vessel blew up.

When leaving the fjord, he was attacked by a German bomber, a Heinkel 115, he held his fire till the enemy was within 800 yards, and then brought the aircraft down.

Throughout a period of five days Arab was subjected to 31 bombings.

10 Feb 43. HMS Vimy left the main convoy and escorted four ships to Iceland and towing the Free French Ship Lobelia.

19 March 43. Left Iceland and joined convoy HX229 on which thirteen more cargo ships were torpedoed and sunk.

11 April 43. Joined convoy ON 176, heavily escorted only one cargo ship was lost to U-boats. Unfortunately, HMS Beverley was torpedoed and sank by U188 during  a night attack with the loss of 148 of her crew. Only four survived.

June to Dec 43. HMS Vimy was deployed to protect the route from the UK to Gibraltar. During this time many military convoys including troop ships were using this route for the invasion of North Africa and Italy.

Jan to April. Continuation of Atlantic convoys.

 May 44. Transferred to Plymouth Command in preparation for D-day. While based at Milford Haven took part in preliminary D-day exercises.

7 June 44. Escorted Convoy EBC2W to D-day landing beaches.

8 June 44. Arrived at D-day landing beaches.

During her time with Operation Neptune (The Navy side of D-day) HMS Viny would have escorted follow up convoys to the D-day beaches, protected the shipping at the beaches from attack by E-boats, exploding motor boats and one man submarines.

July 44. Released from Operation Neptune.

Aug 44 to Aug 45. HMS Vimy goes back to Sheerness for Convoy defence and patrol duty in the North Sea and English Channel. During this time, she escorted several ON convoys which departed from the Thames Estuary to New York. She also escorted TAM convoys form Southend to Antwerp.


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

Lieut. Com. D. J. B.  .  20 July 40  
Lieut. Com. R. G. K. Knowling. 25 May 40                               
Lieutenant.  (Al. Fr.) A. P. Northey. 1 June 39                       
Lieutenant.  R. A. Morgan. 15 June 39                     
Surg. Lieut. Temp. RNVR. L. D. Walker (prob.) MRCS, LRCP. 30 Jan 40        
Sub-Lieut. J. T. Rushforth. 18 May 40                       
Sub-Lieut. M. N. Wall.  28 May 40
Cd. Engineer. H. T. Carter. 14 Oct 37        
Gunner. (T) C. A. C. Duell (act) 8 July 40                  
Midshipman, R.N.R. J. F. Barratt. 29 Aug 39

 
OFFICERS from Navy List June 1941.
Lieut. Com. H. G. D. de Chair. 20 May 41.                              
Lieutenant. J. T. Rushforth.  Feb 41.                         
Lieutenant. C. G. Cowley. 25 Mar 41.                       
Lieutenant. J.B. Butchard. 26 May 41.
Act. Sub-Lieut.  J. L. Duff. 10 Mar 41.                       
Cd. Engineer. S.L. Leech. 24 Oct 40.
Gunner. (T) C. A. C. Duell (act) 8 July 40        

OFFICERS from Navy List June 42.
Lieut. Com. H. G. D. de Chair. 20 May 41.                              
Lieutenant. J. T. Rushforth.  Feb 41.                         
Lieutenant. J. B. Butchard. 26 May 41.                    
Lieutenant. J. S. W. Craven. 22 May 41. 
Temp. Lieutenant. RNVR. W. K. Macfarlane. 20 May 42. 
Surg. Lieut. Temp. RNVR. H. Fitzgibbon, MB, Bch. 4 June 41
Sub-Lieut. Temp. RNVR. R. C. Griffiths. June 41.
Sub-Lieut. Temp RNVR. R. B. Venables. 18 Apr 42.
Cd. Engineer. S.L. Leech. 24 Oct 40.
Gunner, (T). F. C. Curtiss. 28 June 41.      
Midshipman. C. R. C. Morison. 28 Oct 41.              

 
OFFICERS from Navy List June 43.

Lieut. Com. J. N. K. Knight. 28 Mar 43.    
Lieutenant. J. T. Rushforth.  Feb 41.                         
Lieutenant. J. B. Butchard. 26 May 41.                     
Temp. Lieutenant. RNVR. W. K. Macfarlane. 20 May 42.                 
Temp. Lieutenant.  (E). J. A. Johnson. 23 Feb 43.
Surg. Lieut. Temp. RNVR. J. A. Carter, MRCS. LRCP. 2 May 43        
Sub-Lieut. Temp RNVR. R. B. Venables. 18 Apr 42.
Sub-Lieut. Temp RNVR. E. Craven. Nov 42.            
Gunner, (T). E. E. C. Martin (act). 29 Jan 43. 

OFFICERS from Navy List June 44.
Lieut. Com. J. N. K. Knight. 28 Mar 43.    
Lieutenant. J. T. Rushforth.  Feb 41.                         
Lieutenant. R. B. Venables. 18 Apr 42                       
Temp. Lieutenant.  (E). J. A. Johnson. 23 Feb 43.
Surg. Lieut. Temp. RNVR. J. A. Carter, MRCS. LRCP. 2 May 43        
Sub-Lieut. Temp. RNVR. R. D. Perry. 17 June 43.
Sub-Lieut. Temp RNVR.
Gunner, (T). C. H. Knight (act). 13 Apr 44 .
Midshipman. RNVR. R. McVarish. Oct 43 .

 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.

Thank you.

Contact:
Johntenthousand@yahoo.co.uk


 
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The Damage Report reads;

VIMY 23rd May, 1940.

Near Miss Bomb. "Short" Shells. Machine gun and Rifle Fire.

Time out of action: Nil.

VIMY while evacuating troops from Boulogne Harbour was attacked by enemy aircraft and simultaneously by German troops with mortars, machine gun and rifle fire. One bomb exploded on the jetty within 3 yards of the ship and a fire was started on board.

Fighting Efficiency - Slightly impaired. The ship left harbour to return to Dover because of the fire and the many stretcher cases on board.

24 may 1940. HMS Vimy leading up to Dunkirk, was based with the 21st Destroyer Flotilla at HMS Wildfire at Sheerness. Historian and Author J. P. Foynes in his book “Battle of the East Coast” refers to HMS Vimy as being a Sheerness Destroyer.  “Sheerness sent Venetia, Vimy, Windsor and Wolfhound. The first suffered a direct hit from a German shore battery and two of her officers wounded and the captain of Vimy was killed by a bomb.” And later in the book he records, “From Sheerness the destroyers Vega, Vimy, Windsor and Wolfhound left for the Operation”.

Further evidence the Vimy was based at Sheerness comes from two eye witness accounts. Crew member Joe Beckett joined the Vimy which was based at Sheerness in Dec 44. Also on V.E. day he states that HMS Vimy was alongside Sheerness docks.

Also crew member Peter Scudds relates how he joined HMS Vimy in mid-winter at Sheerness.

30 May 49.  HMS Vimy would make four trips to the Dunkirk beaches under heavy air attack. On one of these trips the Viny took captain Tenant, senior Navel Officer and his staff to Dunkirk.

After one such attack the Lieutenant Commander Richard G. K. Knowling was blown overboard by a bomb and missing, presumed killed, the First Lieutenant assumed command. Leading Seaman Frederick Martindale, P/JX 136855, was also killed.

31 May 40. HMS Vimy was damaged in collision with armed yacht Amuree and by air attack. The Amuree sank in the Dover Strait and the Vimy was out of action.

2 June 40. HMS Vimy departed Dover at 0610 for Cardiff to undergo repairs.

August 40. The repairs to Vimy are completed and she is transferred to the Home Fleet.

7 October 1940,through November and December. Escort duty with WS convoys from the Clyde (Scotland) to Capetown (South Africa) These convoys were heavily escorted and often included troop ships. Convoy WS 10, escorted by HMS Vimy included eighteen troop ships and convoy WS 20, twelve troop ships.

January to May 1941. HMS Vimy was converted into a long range escort. She was the first V&W class destroyer to be converted.

5 July 41. Deployed at Gibraltar arriving there on the 5th July 1941. HG Convoys on the Gibraltar to Liverpool route were in easy reach of the German U-boats based in the captured French Ports.

17 September 1941.  Vimy escorted convoy HG 73  which departed Gibraltar on 17 September 1941 and arrived Liverpool on 1 October 1941.

20 Sep 41. While escorting this convoy HMS Vimy and HMS Wild Swan depth charged an Italian submarine, the Luigi Torelli, and damaged her.

21 Sep 41. Sank Italian submarine Alessandro Malaspina with the loss of all crew.

24 Sep 41.  Convoy HG 73 and HMS Vimy under air attack but drove them off.

26/27 Sep 41.  Convoy HG 73   was under unrelenting attacks by U124, U200, U201 and U203 during which nine cargo ships were sunk.

AVOCETA, British, was torpedoed and sunk by U 203 with the loss of 123 of the 166 people on board.
CORTES, British, was torpedoed and sunk by U 203 with the loss of all 43 people on board.
CERVANTES, British was torpedoed and sunk by U 201 with the loss of eight of the 40 people on board.
EMPIRE STREAM, British, was torpedoed and sunk by U 124 with the loss of all 46 people on board.
LAPWIN, British, was torpedoed and sunk by U 214, after she straggled behind the convoy, with the loss of 24 of her 34 crew
MARGARET, British, was torpedoed and sunk by U 201, all 34 crew were rescued
PETREL, British was torpedoed and sunk by U 124 with the loss of 22 of her 31 crew.
SIREMALM, Norway, was torpedoed and sunk by U 201 with the loss of all 27 crew.
VARANGBERG. Norway, was torpedoed and sunk by U 203 with the loss of 22 or her 28 crew.

HMS SPRINGBANK a fighter catapult ship was torpedoed and damaged with the loss of 32 of her 233 crew. HMS Springbank  was scuttled by HMS Jasmine.

October 41 to August 42. HMS Vimy continued patrol duties with HG convoys between Gibraltar and Liverpool and WS Troop carrying Convoys between Liverpool and Freetown (West Africa)

Aug 42. Escorted the Battleship Queen Elizabeth, which had been damaged by Italian Frogmen across the Atlantic to Norfolk, Virginia for repair.  

Sep 42. Deployed in West Indies for convoy escort duties.

3 September 1942.  After a torpedo attack HMS Vimy detected a submarine on its ASDIC’s (Sonar) detection sets and with HMS Pathfinder and HMS Quentin proceeded to drop depth charges. With no definite “kill” being made the destroyer continued to search for the submarine over a large area. Five hours later, barely visible in the night a submarine surfaced close to HMS Vimy. Vimy opened fire on the submarine which fired a red “recognition” flare. As there were American submarines in the area and being close to the US Naval base at Trinidad the order was given to cease fire. Luckily none of the shells had hit the Submarine. As the Vimy closed on the Submarine it altered course and rammed the Destroyer. As the submarine scraped down the port side of the Vimy a flare was fired which identified it not as an American submarine, but as the U-162 a German U-boat.

Badly damaged by the previous depth charge, the collision and being raked by the destroyer’s propeller, the U-boat sunk. All the crew but one was saved and taken prisoner by the Vimy.

14 Sep 42. HMS Vimy on sighting what they believed to be a submarine on the surface opened fire with their guns. Again the order was given to cease fire. The “submarine turned out to be a ships raft with survivors from the merchant ship, Sir Huon (Panama) which had been torpedoed. A canvas had been rigged over it to protect the women and three children from the sun which masked its outline. Over two weeks at sea in an open boat had left the survivors in a desperate condition. After treatment by the Destroyer’s doctor and given water and food they were transferred to another merchant ship to take them to Tobago.

October, November, December 42 and January 43. HMS Vimy continues escort duty with HX convoys (Halifax in Canada to Liverpool) and ON Convoys (Liverpool and New York).

Feb 43.  Vimy, her convoy and other escorts were under sustained attacks by enemy U-boats. On one occasion when the Vimy was low on fuel and supplies and riding high in the water a torpedo passed directly under her. When the helm was put hard over to try and avoid the torpedo and to attack the U-boat the Vimy’s steering engine shaft sheared and the rudder jammed. It took six hours to rectify the damage.

4 February 1943.  Convoy SC 118 left New York on the 24 Jan 43 and arrived at Liverpool on the 12 Feb 43. Also escorting the convoy with Vimy was HMS Vanessa another Sheerness distroyer. HMS Vimy and HMS Beverley forced the German U-boat U-187 to the surface with depth charges and then sunk her with gun fire. Nine of the U-boats crew were loss and 45 survivors taken prisoner. The U-187 had been located after radio transmissions from her were intercepted. The Vimy also carried out depth charge attacks on U262. 

The battle with the U-boats lasted three days and nights.

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) 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) a rescue ship was sunk by U402 with the loss of 56 of  her 74 crew and survivors 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.

HMS Vimy.


Displacement:      1,188 tons
Length:                  312feet (95.1 metres)
Beam:                   29feet 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 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.

HMS Vimy had her forward boiler room removed.

Two German prisoners captured after the sinking of their U-boat talking to a British Petty Officer on board HMS VIMY.