Joining the 17th Destroyer Flotilla
On Wednesday 28th May we were assigned to the 19th Destroyer Flotilla with
the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow. The photograph above shows her moored at Scapa
Flow. Soon to be joined by our sister Laforey which would then become Captain
D. The other two sister ships Lookout and Loyal were still on the stocks
in Scotland and would not join us for over a year. We had four other half-sisters
Lively, Gurkha, Legion and Lance. They had different armament to us and
were classed as Anti Aircraft ships, once they had been posted to the Eastern
Mediterranean they were all to be sunk or put out of action within a year.
Such was the pace of action in those days.
We spent most of June 1941 working up to full fighting strength and getting
familiar with all of the new equipment. Our first few months of work were
typical of a fleet destroyer in those days. This was not very exciting work
and I do not remember a great deal about it, but it was mostly providing
anti submarine and anti aircraft screens for larger ships. What I have been
able to find out is included below.
One of our first real jobs was Operation Substance in which we formed part
of the Home Fleet escort for convoys WS 9C and MG 1 to the island of Malta.
In early July we slipped our moorings at Scapa and made our way to Londonderry
to refuel and then form up with the convoy which comprised of the ships:
Azalea, Eridge, Nelson, Renown, Ark Royal, Hermione, Arethusa, Manxman,
Cossack, Maori, Nestor, Falknor, Fury, Foresight, Forester, Foxhound, Encounter,
Sikh and Duncan. We left Londonderry on 13 July, and arrived at Gibraltar
two weeks later on 27 July.
This was an easy convoy without much incident - how I wish they had all
been like that one!
We didn't stay in Gibraltar, but carried on towards Malta as part of Operation
Style - escorting a small convoy of Royal Air Force reinforcements. We did
not escort the convoy all of the way and arrived back in Gibraltar on 4
August, just as the main convoy arrived in Malta. After four days 'rest'
in Gibraltar we set sail for the cold northern waters of Scapa on the 8th,
arriving on 12 August 1941 for a much needed boiler clean.
When this was complete on 20 August, with Inglefield, Punjabi and Tartar
we provided an escort for King George V, arriving back the next day.
On 22 August 1941 we sailed from Scapa with Lively and Newark to search
for the crippled Free French submarine Rubis (P15), which had been attacked
by a German aircraft off the coast of Norway. We were later met by the ill
fated cruiser Curacoa and eventually found Rubis near the Skaggerack and
escorted her into Dundee for repairs.
On 26 August we left Scapa with Lamerton, Regal and Intrepid for a sweep,
arriving back the next day.
On 29 August we left Scapa with Primordial, Jean, Repulse, Sheffield, Vivacious
and Badsworth, arriving back on 31 August.
On 3 September 1941 we left Scapa to escort the fast minelayer Manxman to
lay mines off the coast of Norway. The weather was very rough on the return
leg and the minelayer was so fast that she forged ahead and eventually lost
us. Tom King (then Captain of A turret) recalls that even with the guns
at their full elevation they still shipped water.
"The weather was so rough that we had to put spud nets over the funnel
to keep the stokers in".
We arrived back in Scapa on 5th September, and left for the Clyde the next
day, arriving on 7th. We must have sustained some damage to the ship (probably
weather damage from the Nowegian trip) as records show that we were in Greenock
for repairs and a boiler clean on the 12th September 1941.
So far our work had been fairly routine and the ship and her crew were settling
in and getting to know one another. This would pay dividends later. Until
now the war had been pretty kind to me - how things would soon change for