Allied Warships

HMS Vestal (J 215)

Minesweeper of the Algerine class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeMinesweeper
ClassAlgerine 
PennantJ 215 
ModTurbine engined 
Built byHarland & Wolff Ltd. (Belfast, Northern Ireland) 
Ordered15 Nov 1940 
Laid down11 Jan 1943 
Launched19 Jun 1943 
Commissioned10 Sep 1943 
Lost26 Jul 1945 
Loss position7° 05'N, 97° 50'E
History

HMS Vestal (Lt.Cdr. Charles William Porter, DSC, RN) was sunk by a Japanese kamikaze aircraft about 55 nautical miles south-west of Phuket, Siam (Thailand) in position 07º05'N, 97º50'E.  

Commands listed for HMS Vestal (J 215)

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CommanderFromTo
1Lt. Charles William Porter, DSC, RN26 Jul 194326 Jul 1945

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Notable events involving Vestal include:


23 Jan 1945
HMS Upshot (Lt. A.J. Boyall, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Tobermory with HMS Loch Katrine (T/A/Lt.Cdr. R.A. Cherry, RNR), HMS Vestal (Lt. C.W. Porter, DSC, RN) and HMS Courier (A/Cdr. H.J.A.S. Jerome, DSO, RN). (1)

24 Jan 1945
HMS Unshaken (Lt. J.S. Pearce, RNR) conducted A/S exercises off Tobermory together with HMS Loch Quoich (Lt.Cdr. G. MacClelland, DSC, RN) and HMS Vestal (Lt. C.W. Porter, DSC, RN). (2)

25 Jan 1945
HMS Unshaken (Lt. J.S. Pearce, RNR) conducted A/S exercises off Tobermory together with HMS Ness (T/A/Lt.Cdr. R.S. Steel, RNR), HMS Vestal (Lt. C.W. Porter, DSC, RN), HMS Loch Quoich (Lt.Cdr. G. MacClelland, DSC, RN) and HMS Denbigh Castle (T/A/Lt.Cdr. G. Butcher, DSC, RNVR). (2)

19 Jul 1945

Operation Livery.

Sweeping of mines off Phuket; bombardment and air strikes directed against appropriate targets.

'Force 63' departed Trincomalee on 19 July 1945. It was made up of the following warships; battleship HMS Nelson (Capt. C. Caslon, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral H.C.T. Walker, CB, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Sussex (Capt. A.F. de Salis, DSO, RN), escort carriers HMS Ameer (Cdr. P.D.H.R. Pelly, DSO, RN), HMS Empress (Capt. J.R.S. Brown, RN), destroyers HMS Rotherham (Capt. H.W. Biggs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Racehorse (Cdr. J.J. Casement, DSC, RN), HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN), HMS Paladin (Lt. H.R. Hewlett, RN) and the minesweepers HMS Pincher (T/A/Lt.Cdr. C.B. Blake, RNVR), HMS Plucky (T/A/Lt.Cdr. G. Wallis, RNVR), HMS Squirrel (Lt. M. Buist, RN), HMS Rifleman (Lt. C.L. Carroll, DSC, RNR), HMS Vestal (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Porter, DSC, RN), HMIS Punjab(Lt. A.V. Baker, RIN) and HMS Deccan as attached danlayers.

The force passed through Sombrero Channel during the night of 22/23 July 1945 and arrived off Phuket in the morning of 24 July.

The area which had been given first priority was cleared of mines of as a result of operations carried out of 24th, 25th, and 26th July. A total of 24 mines were swept.

During the minesweeping operations HMS Squirrel was mined and damaged forward. Two and a half hours after hitting the mine she took a heavy list and therefore had to be sunk by our own forces. Seven ratings were lost with the ship.

In strikes against targets on the Kraa Isthumus, our aircraft achieved commendable results. Three small ships were destroyed and eleven others strafed in the Singora area, while fifteen locomotives were put out of action and rolling stock strafed on the railway system between Bandon and Dhungsong. A camp at Huatsei was bombed. One Sungei Patani airfield six grounded aircraft were destroyed, three left burning and two others hit. In all these operations only one Hellcat fighter was lost.

On 26 July 1945 attacks by enemy suicide aircraft were launched against units of 'Force 63'. One of these aircraft was shot down in flames by HMS Ameer and two were shot down by HMS Sussex. HMS Vestal was hit by a suicide aircraft, caught fire and had to be sunk by our own forces. Fifteen ratings were lost with the ship. Another enemy suicide aircraft bounced on the water and hit the side of HMS Sussex which sustained some hull damage above the waterline, but remained fully operational.

'Force 63' left the area of operation p.m. on 26 July and returned to Trincomalee where it arrived on 30 July. (3)

Sources

  1. ADM 173/20187
  2. ADM 173/20149
  3. ADM 199/1457

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.


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