George Riley served on HMS Vivacious from April 1944 to June 1945.

George joined the Royal Navy on 23 December 1943 at HMS Duke where he underwent his training. In October 1944 George rated up to Stoker 1st Class . Serving on HMS Vivacious, he escorted supply ships to the D-day landing beaches and took part in the Liberation of Norway.

A "Thank you" from the people of Norway to
​George Riley and the crew of HMS Vivacious who took part in the liberation of Norway.

HMS Vivacious D36 at Dunkirk. Bombed and sunken ship in foreground.

Damage Report.


MID Mentioned in Despatches. Stanley Gordon SUMMERS, P/JX153094, A/PO, 31 Mar 42. MID. (Mentioned in Despatches) awarded for attack on the Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen in the Channel.

DSM Distinguished Service medal. Stanley Gordon SUMMERS, received two more awards, DSM while on the HMS Brixham on the 7 Dec 43, DSM (Distinguished Service medal) DSM awarded for gallantry, outstanding skill and devotion to duty in minesweeping operations over dense and shallow minefields in the opening up of Greek ports in the Gulf of Corinth. and on the 12 Jun 45 (HMS Brixham) a second MID awarded for steadfast courage and skill in a dangerous and important minesweeping operation.

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

Lieut. Com. P. A. R. Withers. 19 June 40                 
Lieutenant. N. L. J. Kempson, 10 June 40               
Surg. Lieut. Temp. RNVR. R. S. G. Amott, MB, chB. 8 June 40         
Sub-Lieut. J. T. Gilhespy. 31 July 39                          
Sub-Lieut. T. K. Edge-Partington. 15 June 40
Sub-Lieut.Temp, RNVR. T. K. Metcalfe. 1 Feb 40                                  
Cd. Engineer. J. G. Revolta. 18 Apr 39
Gunner, (T) E. F. Elwood (act), 21 Oct 39
Midshipman. RNR. R. B. Hallowes. 31 July 39

 OFFICERS from Navy List June 1941

(Strangely there are only two names for June 41 this is probably because the Vivacious was thought to be undergoing repairs at that time.)

Lieutenant V. W. Chacksfield. 16 Apr 41.
Cd. Engineer. J. G. Revolta.  18 Apr 39

OFFICERS from Navy List June 42.
Lieut. Com. R. Alexander, DSO. 11 July 41                              
Lieutenant. V. W. Chacksfield. 16 Apr 41                
Lieutenant. C. R. Barrett. 12 July 41
Temp. Lieutenant RNVR. RNVR, G.W.MacKenzie. 28 July 41                          
Temp. Lieutenant.  (E) C. E. A. Vann. 6May 42     
Surg. Lieut. Temp. A. C. Clark, LCRP & S. 31 July 41            
Act. Sub-Lieut.Temp. RNR, P.G. Murdock. 30 Oct 41  
Temp. Sub-Lieut. RNVR L. A. L. Bewes. 11 May 42
Temp. Act. Sub-Lieut. RNVR. J. R. Winter. 19 Aug 41
Gunner, (T) K. A. Henrywood, 28Mar 41 

OFFICERS from Navy List June 43

Lieut. Com. R. Alexander, DSO. 11 July 41                              
Lieutenant. C. R. Barrett. 12 July 41
Lieutenant. N. R. Turner 15 June 42
Temp. Lieutenant. (E) H. E. G. Saffin. 15 Feb 43
Surg. Lieut. Temp. RNVR. J. J. Hareadon 30 Nov 42
Sub-Lieut. RNR. G. Murdock 30 Oct 41  
Sub-Lieut.Temp. RNVR. V. A. L. Bewes. 11 May 42  
Sub-Lieut.Temp RNVR. A. E. B. Harman. 17 June 42           
Gunner (T) H. A. Clark (act) 7 May 43

OFFICERS from Navy List June 44
Lieutenant. F. D. Cole.  Sept 43 (In Command.)                   
Lieutenant. N. R. Turner. 15 June 42
Lieutenant. RNR. P. G. Murdock. 30 Oct 41
Temp. Lieutenant. RNVR. L. A. L. Bewes. 11 May 42          
Temp. Lieut. (E) H. E. G. Saffin. 15 Feb 43
Surg. Lieut. Temp. RNVR. C. Romer, MRCS, LRCP. 14 Mar 44
Temp. Sub Lieut. RNVR. C. N. Bruce. 24 July 43   
Gunner (T) H. A. Clark (act) 7 May 43
Temp. Midshipman. RNVR. A. N. Muir. 7 July 43    

OFFICERS from the Navy List Jaunary 1945

Lieut.-Com B. J. Anderson (In Command.) 13 Oct 44.
Lieut . R. A.  Sly, 24 Nov 44
Temp Lieut.  N. E.  Behennah, 25 Nov 44.
Temp Lieut. E. G. Saffin, 15 Feb 43.
Temp. Surg. Lieut., C. Romer, MRCS, LRCP 14 Mar 44.
Sub-Lieut. S. J. Hales, 25 Oct 44.
Temp. Sub-Lieut., C. N. Bruce, 24 July 43.
Gunner (T) H. A. Clark, 7 May 43.
Gunner A. N. Muir, 7 July 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,

VIVACIOUS 3rd Oct., 1941.

One Near Miss direct action fused Bomb.

Time out of Action – Nil.

 VIVACIOUS, while in the North Sea moving at 20 knots, was attacked by enemy aircraft and sustained a near miss 100 ft. astern. The rudder jammed at 4° to starboard, but repairs were effected in 4 and a half hours.

Fighting Efficiency - Temporarily impaired.

12 Feb 42.   While taking part in Flotilla exercises with HMS Campbell of 21st Destroyer Flotilla (Sheerness) and Mackay, Worcester Whitshed and Walpole of 16th Destroyer Flotilla (Harwich), and seven Hunt class destroyers which were on standby, they were ordered to intercept the German Battle Fleet consisting of the SCHARNHORST, GNEISENAU and PRINZ EUGEN with supporting, Destroyers, e-boats and aircraft.

Taken by surprise by the Battle fleet and not given enough notice many of the Royal Navy vessels and Royal Air Force planes were out of position and unable to take part in the planned attack.

Unsupported, the Sheerness and Harwich Destroyers went out through specially made gaps in the mine barrier to intercept the German ships.

With the German Battle Fleet in sight a formation of Stukas and another of Ju 88’s attacked from the air. In true Royal Navy tradition, without hesitation, the British Destroyers launched an attack on the German Battle ships.

The German Battle ships opened fire on the British ships long before the Destroyers could return fire with their much smaller guns. In any event, the Destroyers guns would have little effect on the armour plate of the Battle Ships.

Under a thundering barrage from the German ships and attack from  planes above the Destroyer flotilla (from Sheerness and Harwich) sped towards the German Battle fleet. At 2500 yards they fired their torpedoes. In the rough seas the gallant torpedo attack was unsuccessful. The Worchester was hit seven times by enemy shells and stopped dead in the water with 26 of her crew killed and 45 injured.

HMS Vivacious drew alongside Worchester to take off her wounded and as they did so they were mistaken for German Destroyers by 42 Squadron of Bomber Command and narrowly missed being torpedoed. HMS Vivacious and Worchester also pick up survivors from the sea who had wrongly misinterpreted the order “Stand by to abandon ship” as “Abandon Ship”.

Both on the way to intercept the German Battle Fleet and on the return, the British Destroyers were attacked by British planes. Luckily no one was killed or injured in these attacks.

12th January 1943. At 10.00 Vivacious reported she was stopped owing to engine lubrication failure and was drifting in a position 30 miles east of Lerwick. The Tug BUCCANEER was sent from Scapa to her assistance.  At 1145 Vivacious reported she was under way and making for Lerwick at 3 knots.  She arrived there during the afternoon. 

5th February and March 1943. HMS Vivacious escorted Artic Convoys RA 52 and RA 53 departing Kola Inlet (Russia) on the 1 March 1943 arriving at Loch Ewe on the 14 March 1943

3 March 43. HMS VIVACIOUS left Scapa for Hvalfiord Iceland where she arrived at noon on 3rd March.1943

Convoy RA 53 lost three ships to U-boats and one foundered in a storm. The convoy consisted of 30 Merchant ships and 36 war ships. Taking war supplies to Russia many of the ships returned with cargos of timber and ore. The convoy was attacked by German U-boats with four American ships being sunk.

The cargo ship Executive was torpedoed and sunk by U 255 with the loss of nine of her 62 crew.

The Puerto Rican was sunk when she straggled behind the convoy and was torpedoed and sunk with the loss of 64 of her 65 crew. The lone survivor was rescued by HMT St. Elstan.

The Richard Bland was torpedoed on 10 March by U-255 and split in two. The stern section sank with the loss of 34 of her 69 crew, the bow section was towed to Akureyri in Iceland.

The American Liberty ship J L M CURRY foundered in a storm. This was perhaps a forewarning of the Liberty ship weaknesses. They were constructed from poor quality steel and cold weather, such as that found in the North Atlantic Ocean or the Arctic, made it brittle. Liberty ships were welded and not riveted and once a crack started there was nothing to stop it.

The Arctic Convoys were once described by Winston Churchill as “the worst journeys in the world”, carried desperately-needed military supplies to Russia.

May 43 to May 44.Continuous escort duty in North Sea based at Wildfire, Sheerness.

9 November 1943.  HYDE, Reginald W, Officer's Cook, P/MX 94720, lost overboard, MPK (Missing Presumed Killed)

3 June 44.HMS Vivacious joined convoy S13 with HMS Campbell, HMT Northern Gem and HMT Hugh Walpole at Southend. The convoy included 4 Landing Ships and 4 Rhine craft.

4 June 44. Convoy S13 and escorts move to Spithead.

6 June 44.  D-Day. Convoy and escort arrive at the D-day landing beaches.

9 June 44.  HMS Vivacious escorted convoy ETM3 which sailed from Southend on the 9 June 1944 and arrived at the Seine Bay (D-day beaches) on the 10 June 1944.

These “Follow Up” convoys were of huge importance. By D-day plus one the assault troops were exhausted and a build-up of men and equipment, of ammunition, fuel, water and supplied was of critical importance.

The “Follow up” convoys with their escorting war ships were vital to the success of the Normandy Invasion. On D-day plus one 98 vessels arrived at the beaches. On D-day plus two 216 arrived.

The men of the Merchant Navy on the Coastal and Atlantic Convoys and now on the Convoys to the Normandy Invasion beaches, in conditions of considerable danger, displayed great qualities of seamanship and courage.

When not employed on convoy duty HMS Vivacious would have provided support for shore based troops by shelling enemy positions and defending the beach head from attack by enemy aircraft, E-boats, one man submarines and explosive torpedo boats.

July 1944. HMS Vivacious was released from Operation Neptune and resumed her (Sheerness based) duties escorting convoys along the East Coast of England and through the English Channel.

After an illustrious career HMS Vivacious was scrapped in February 1947.

Evacuation from Dunkirk in 1940, via boats, including soldiers of the British Expeditionary Force boarding HMS VIVACIOUS.

HMS Vivacious with her World War One Pennant Number G01. This was changed to D36 in World War Two.

More crew and ship photographs and information about HMS Vivacious.
Wally Sockhill's story, GO HERE

Fred Weight's story, GO HERE.

George Riley's Pay book.

Watch these short videos about the Wildfire Destroyers.
The Channel Dash: 
Sheerness Destroyers at D-day:


Sursum caudus: 'Tails up'

HMS Vivacious was laid down in July 1916 and launched on 3rd November 1916. In 1935 the Vivacious was placed in reserve to be returned to service in 1939. The Vivacious was adopted by the civil community of Solihull, then in Warwickshire.

The Report Reads.

VIVACIOUS 1st June, 1940.

Size and type unknown Bomb.

Time out of Action, 1 week.

VIVACIOUS while engaged in the evacuation from Dunkirk was attacked by enemy aircraft and sustained minor damage.

Fighting Efficiency - Not impaired.

3 June 40. HMS Vivacious escorted block-ships to Dunkirk harbour (Operation OK) and returned to Dover with their crews.

7 June 40. After repair at Portsmouth, HMS Vivacious was transferred to Sheerness to join 21st Destroyer Flotilla for convoy defence and patrol duty.

July 40 to Jan 42. Continuous convoy and patrol duty.

8 May 41. HMS Vivacious is damaged by a bomb.

Damage Report.

HMS VIVACIOUS at Malta, February 1929.
Again thank you to SCPO Erling Baldorf, Royal Danish Navy, retired, for the photograph.

V & W-class Destroyer

ATLANTIC 1939-40 - DUNKIRK 1940 - NORTH SEA 1942-45 - DOVER STRAITS 1942 - ARCTIC  1943 - ENGLISH CHANNEL  1943-44 - NORMANDY 1944


On a Field Green a squirrel Gold.

The Damage Report reads, 

VIVACIOUS 8th May, 1941.

Near Miss size and type unknown Bomb.

Time out of Action - Nil (damaged whilst undergoing repairs)

VIVACIOUS during an air raid in the Hull area suffered superficial damage caused by bomb splinters.

Fighting Efficiency - Not impaired.

During the air raid large numbers of bombs including high explosive and incendiary were dropped on Hull city centre and the docks with 400 people being killed and 758 injured.

3 Oct 41.While escorting a convoy in the North Sea HMS Vivacious was attacked and bombed by enemy aircraft.

Damage Report.

HMS Vivacious painted by Tony Warren 1989.

Thank you to David Batstone who sent us this painting of HMS Vivacious. The painting was commissioned by his mother as a gift for her husband, Frank Burnett, who served on the Vivacious.

30 May 39. Under constant air attack HMS Vivacious went again into Dunkirk and retrieved 537 men and took them to Dover.

HMS Vivacious rescued survivors from HMS King Orry (Armed Boarding Vessel) which was shelled and sunk off Dunkerque.

31 May 39.Under attack from the air and by howitzers from land the HMS Vivacious was damaged and sustained 15 casualties, 3 killed and twelve wounded  including Lt. F. P. Baker.

Damage Report.

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 Vivacious was not converted into a long range escort.

Sep 39. HMS Vivacious with sister ship HMS Vanessa also based at Sheerness during parts of WW2 were deployed with the 17 Destroyer flotilla to escort BC Convoys from the Bristol Channel to Loire in France. (Loire-Atlantique, on the Bay of Biscay)

10 Sep 39. Deployed with HM Destroyer KEITH as escort for Convoy BC1, taking British Expeditionary Force of 18 ships containing stores, ammunition and vehicles to Cherbourg.

Oct 39 to April 40.Escort with HG Convoys from Gibraltar to Liverpool. These were large convoys of 60 to 70 ships with a large escort of warships. The cargoes on these ships returning to England included food stuffs like fruit, dates, oranges, barley, beans, eggs, sugar, tea, wine and raw materials like cotton, iron ore, and even air raid shelters and sand bags.

27 April 40.HMS Vivacious was patrolling off Dunkirk beaches to intercept any attack by E-Boats and provided anti-aircraft cover.

28 May 40.HMS Vivacious made two trips to Dunkirk and embarked 326 and 359 men respectively for passage to Dover.

George Riley: Service Number KX665963

HMS Vivacious with her World War One number G01 in Copenhagen 1919, next to HMS Whirlwind. (Cruisers in front of them.)From the Royal Library in Denmark. Thank you to SCPO Erling Baldorf, Royal Danish Navy, retired, for the photograph.

After the war, HMS Vivacious was deployed to the Baltic and in 1919 participate in the British Campaign against Bolshevik forces during the Russian Civil War, seeing action against Russian warships.

The Damage Report reads.

VIVACIOUS, 31st May, 1940.

Direct Hit. Calibre and type unknown Shell.

Time out of Action, Nil.

VIVACIOUS while evacuating troops from Dunkirk was hit by a shell fired from German army units advancing towards the coast. Details of damage are not available.

Fighting Efficiency - Not impaired.

1 June 39.Under air attack, once again into the hell of Dunkirk went the Vivacious, this time she came back with 427 men and landed them at Dover.

HM Rescue Tug SEAMAN takes in tow a casualty which had managed to patch up and keep afloat after being torpedoed.