Allied Warships

HMS Urchin (ii) (R 99)

Destroyer of the U class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassU 
PennantR 99 
Built byVickers Armstrong (Barrow-in-Furness, U.K.) 
Ordered12 Jun 1941 
Laid down28 Mar 1942 
Launched8 Mar 1943 
Commissioned24 Sep 1943 
End service 
History

Reconstructed as Type 15 frigate during 1952-1954.

Scrapped at Troon in August 1967.

 

Commands listed for HMS Urchin (ii) (R 99)

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CommanderFromTo
1Lt.Cdr. John Travis Beaufoy Birch, DSO, DSC, RN9 Aug 194328 Jun 1944
2Lt.Cdr. Archibald Ferguson Harkness, DSC, OBE, RD, RNR28 Jun 194419 Sep 1945
3Lt.Cdr. Denis Roy Newton Murdoch, RN19 Sep 1945mid 1946

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Notable events involving Urchin (ii) include:


18 Oct 1943
HMS Storm (T/Lt. E.P. Young, DSC, RNVR) conducted A/S exercises with HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Scorpion (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN).

Upon completion of the exercises Storm departed Scapa Flow for Holy Loch. She made the passage together with the British submarine HMS H 43 (Lt. C.A.J. Nicoll, RN) and the Dutch submarine HrMs K XV (Lt.Cdr. Baron C.W.T. van Boetzelaer, RNN). They were escorted by the British armed yacht HMS Cutty Sark (Cdr.(Retd.) R.H. Mack, RN). (1)

20 Oct 1943
HMS Uther (Lt. P.S. Beale, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Scapa Flow with HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Ophelia (T/Lt. D.J. Duncan, RNVR). (2)

6 Nov 1943
HMS Spiteful (Lt.Cdr. F.H. Sherwood, DSC, RCNVR) conducted A/S exercises at Scapa Flow with HMS Oribi (Lt.Cdr. J.C.A. Ingram, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, DSO, DSC, RN), HMCS Iroquois (Cdr. J.C. Hibbard DSC, RCN) and HMS Orwell (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, DSO, RN). (3)

8 Nov 1943
Around 1230/8, HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN) and HMS Renown (Capt. W.E. Parry, CB, RN), departed Scapa Flow for Portland and Plymouth respectively. On departure from Scapa Flow they were escorted by the destroyers HMS Oribi (Lt.Cdr. J.C.A. Ingram, DSC, RN) and HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, DSO, DSC, RN).

At 1730/8, HMS Urchin parted company to return to Scapa Flow.

On 9 November, HMS Rocket (Lt.Cdr. H.B. Acworth, OBE, RN) joined. [time unknown to us for the moment.]

At 0845/10, HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.J. Kirkby, DSC and Bar, RN) joined.

At 1225/10, HMS Renown and HMS Rocket parted company with HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Oribi and HMS Melbreak.

Around 1330/10, HMS Renown and HMS Rocket arrived at Plymouth.

Around 1715/10, HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Oribi and HMS Melbreak arrived at Portland. (4)

14 Nov 1943
HMS Spiteful (Lt.Cdr. F.H. Sherwood, DSC, RCNVR) conducted A/S exercises at Scapa Flow with HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Virago (Lt.Cdr. A.J.R. White, RN). (3)

17 Nov 1943
HMS Spiteful (Lt.Cdr. F.H. Sherwood, DSC, RCNVR) conducted A/S exercises at Scapa Flow with HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, DSO, DSC, RN), HNoMS Stord (Lt.Cdr. S.V. Storheill, RNorN), HMIS Cauvery (A/Cdr. A.W. Beeton, RIN) and HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN).

On completion of these exercises HMS Spiteful departed Scapa Flow for Holy Loch. She was escorted by HMS Cutty Sark (Cdr.(Retd.) R.H. Mack, RN). (3)

4 Jan 1944
Around 1630/4, HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN), HMS Renown (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, RN, second in command of the Eastern Fleet) parted company with the carriers to proceed ahead of them to Gibraltar to fuel. They took the destroyers HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC, RN), HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN), HMS Kempenfelt (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Marjoribanks, RN) and the frigates HMS Duckworth (Cdr. R.G. Mills, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Essington (A/Lt.Cdr. W. Lambert, RNVR) with them as escorts.

This left the frigates HMS Berry (T/A/Lt.Cdr. C.S. Pirie, RNVR), HMS Blackwood (Lt.Cdr. L.T. Sly, RD, RNR), HMS Cooke (Lt.Cdr. L.C. Hill, OBE, RD, RNR), HMS Domett (T/A/Lt.Cdr. S. Gordon, RNVR) and HMS Parrett (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) T. Hood, RNR) to escort the carriers HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, CB, RN) and HMS Unicorn (Capt. H.L.St.J. Fancourt, DSO, RN).

Also on this day the destroyers HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. P.G. Merriman, DSC, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Wallace, DSC, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. J. Smallwood, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, DSC, RN), HMS Isis (Cdr. B. Jones, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, DSO, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar to make rendezvous with the carriers and take over the escort from the frigates so that there too could proceed to Gibraltar to fuel. (5)

5 Jan 1944
Around 0900/5, the destroyers HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. P.G. Merriman, DSC, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Wallace, DSC, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. J. Smallwood, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, DSC, RN), HMS Isis (Cdr. B. Jones, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, DSO, DSC, RN), joined HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, CB, RN) and HMS Unicorn (Capt. H.L.St.J. Fancourt, DSO, RN). The carriers escort made up of the frigates HMS Berry (T/A/Lt.Cdr. C.S. Pirie, RNVR), HMS Blackwood (Lt.Cdr. L.T. Sly, RD, RNR), HMS Cooke (Lt.Cdr. L.C. Hill, OBE, RD, RNR), HMS Domett (T/A/Lt.Cdr. S. Gordon, RNVR) and HMS Parrett (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) T. Hood, RNR) then parted company to proceed ahead of the carriers to fuel at Gibraltar.

The battleship group, made up of HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN), HMS Renown (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, RN, second in command of the Eastern Fleet) and escorted by the destoyers HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC, RN), HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN), HMS Kempenfelt (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Marjoribanks, RN) and the frigates HMS Duckworth (Cdr. R.G. Mills, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Essington (A/Lt.Cdr. W. Lambert, RNVR) arrived at Gibraltar around 2130/5 and all ships commenced fuelling. (6)

6 Jan 1944
Around 0430/6, HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN), HMS Renown (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, RN, second in command of the Eastern Fleet), HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC, RN), HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN), HMS Kempenfelt (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Marjoribanks, RN), HMS Duckworth (Cdr. R.G. Mills, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Essington (A/Lt.Cdr. W. Lambert, RNVR), departed Gibraltar.

Around 0800/6, the joined HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, CB, RN) and HMS Unicorn (Capt. H.L.St.J. Fancourt, DSO, RN), HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. P.G. Merriman, DSC, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Wallace, DSC, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. J. Smallwood, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, DSC, RN), HMS Isis (Cdr. B. Jones, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, DSO, DSC, RN) which had just passed the Straits of Gibraltar eastbound.

After fuelling the frigates HMS Berry (T/A/Lt.Cdr. C.S. Pirie, RNVR), HMS Blackwood (Lt.Cdr. L.T. Sly, RD, RNR), HMS Cooke (Lt.Cdr. L.C. Hill, OBE, RD, RNR), HMS Domett (T/A/Lt.Cdr. S. Gordon, RNVR) departed Gibraltar later in the day to overtake the force. (6)

7 Jan 1944
Around 0900/7, the frigates HMS Berry (T/A/Lt.Cdr. C.S. Pirie, RNVR), HMS Blackwood (Lt.Cdr. L.T. Sly, RD, RNR), HMS Cooke (Lt.Cdr. L.C. Hill, OBE, RD, RNR), HMS Domett (T/A/Lt.Cdr. S. Gordon, RNVR) joined the force made up of HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN), HMS Renown (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, RN, second in command of the Eastern Fleet), HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, CB, RN) and HMS Unicorn (Capt. H.L.St.J. Fancourt, DSO, RN), HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. P.G. Merriman, DSC, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Wallace, DSC, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. J. Smallwood, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, DSC, RN), HMS Isis (Cdr. B. Jones, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC, RN), HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN), HMS Kempenfelt (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Marjoribanks, RN), HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Duckworth (Cdr. R.G. Mills, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Essington (A/Lt.Cdr. W. Lambert, RNVR).

HMS Active, HMS Anthony, HMS Brilliant and HMS Isis were then detached. Shortly after doing so they were detached to hunt an enemy submarine [this was U-343].

Late in the evening HMS Termagent, HMS Tenacious and HMS Kempenfelt were detached to fuel at Bizerta. (7)

8 Jan 1944
Around 1500/8, HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC, RN), HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN), HMS Kempenfelt (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Marjoribanks, RN), rejoined HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN), HMS Renown (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, RN, second in command of the Eastern Fleet), HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, CB, RN) and HMS Unicorn (Capt. H.L.St.J. Fancourt, DSO, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, DSC, RN), HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Berry (T/A/Lt.Cdr. C.S. Pirie, RNVR), HMS Blackwood (Lt.Cdr. L.T. Sly, RD, RNR), HMS Cooke (Lt.Cdr. L.C. Hill, OBE, RD, RNR), HMS Domett (T/A/Lt.Cdr. S. Gordon, RNVR), HMS Duckworth (Cdr. R.G. Mills, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Essington (A/Lt.Cdr. W. Lambert, RNVR).

Shortly after these three destroyers had rejoined the force, HMS Inglefield was detached to Bizerta.

Late on the day the destroyer HMS Urchin was detached to Malta. (6)

15 May 1944
HMS Voracious (Lt. F.D.G. Challis, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises at/off Scapa Flow with HMS Grenville (Capt. H.P. Henderson, RN), HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Undine (Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN). (8)

16 May 1944
HMS Voracious (Lt. F.D.G. Challis, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises at/off Scapa Flow with HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Nubian (Lt.Cdr. T.A. Pack-Beresford, RN) and HMS Grenville (Capt. H.P. Henderson, RN). (8)

11 Dec 1944
HMS Sibyl (Lt. H.R. Murray, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Scapa Flow together with HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Harkness, DSC, OBE, RD, RNR) and HMS Ulster (Lt.Cdr. R.J. Hanson, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN). (9)

16 Jan 1945

Operation Meridian.

Air strikes against oil installations in the Palembang area (South-East Sumatra).

On 16 January 1945 ' Force 63 ' made up of the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Indomitable (Capt. J.A.S. Eccles, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral P.L. Vian, KCB, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Illustrious (Capt. C.E. Lambe, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN), HMS Indefatigable (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), light cruisers HMS Argonaut (Capt. E.W.L. Longley-Cook, CBE, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. R. Oliver-Bellesis, RN), HMS Black Prince (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN), HMS Ceylon (Capt. G.B. Amery-Parkes, RN) and the destroyers HMS Grenville (Capt. H.P. Henderson, RN), HMCS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. C.E.R. Sharp, RN), HMS Undine (Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Ursa (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, DSC, RN), HMS Kempenfelt (Capt. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN), HMS Wager (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Watkin, RN), HMS Wakeful (Lt.Cdr. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN), HMS Wessex (Lt.Cdr. R. Horncastle, RN), HMS Whelp (Cdr. G.A.F. Norfolk, RN) and Whirlwind (Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN).

HMS Wessex apparently sailed from Trincomalee on the 17th and joined the Force at sea on the 19th.

An oiling force (' Force 69 ') made up of the tankers Echodale (8150 GRT, built 1941), Wave King (8159 GRT, built 1944) and Empire Salvage (10746 GRT, built 1940) had already departed Trincomalee on 13 January. They were escorted by the destroyer HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Harkness, DSC, OBE, RD, RNR). A fouth tanker, the Arndale (8296 GRT, built 1937) joined ' force 69 ' on 23 January coming from Fremantle.

The submarines HMS Tantalus (Lt.Cdr. H.S. Mackenzie, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Tantivy (Lt. P.S. May, RN) and HMS Sturdy (Lt. W.St.G. Anderson, DSC, RNR) were positioned for air/sea rescue duties. (Tantalus east of Sumatra, Tantivy west of Sumatra and Sturdy in the Sunda Strait area.)

On 20 January ships from ' Force 63 ' were refuelled by ' Force 69 '. Due to the weather conditions this was done only with difficulty and some of the refuelling gear of the tankers was damaged. HMS Ceylon was now assigned to ' Force 69 ' to give protection to this Force. [Note: Arndale at this moment was not yet with ' Force 69 '.]

' Force 63 ' then proceeded on the first phase of the operation, to launch air strikes on the oil installations at Pladjoe (north of Palembang) which were to be flown off on 21 January but the weather prevented this. It was only at 24 January that the weather had cleared to enable flying operations. 43 Avengers, 12 Firefly's (equipped with rockets) and 50 Hellcat, Corsair and Seafire fighters were flown off. The enemy installations were damaged but at the cost of no less then 32 aircraft due to enemy action (7) or crash landings (25). 14 enemy fighters were reported shot down in the air and 38 aircraft were reported to have been destroyed on the gound.

' Force 63 ' then retired from the area to rendezvous with ' Force 69 ' and refuel. This was done on 26 / 27 January.

' Force 63 ' then proceeded to the launch position for the second phase of operation during which air attacks were to be made on oil installations at Soengi-Gerong (also near Palembang). 48 Avenger, 10 Fireflies, 24 Corsairs and 16 Hellcats were launched. During dogfight 30 Japanese aircraft were shot down and another 38 were reported as having been destroyed on the ground. 16 aircraft did not return to the carriers.

A Japanese counter attack with 12 bombers failed. All were shot down by fighters from the Combat Air Patrol or AA fire from the ships.

' Force 63 ' then fuelled again from ' Force 69 ' on 30 January.

' Force 63 ' arrived at Fremantle on 4 February 1945.

' Force 69 ', minus Arndale and Wave King returned to Trincomalee on 6 February 1945. The other two tankers went to Australia. HMS Ceylon had parted company with ' Force 69 ' on 4 February and arrived at Trincomalee on 5 February.

25 Jun 1945
HMS Vox (Lt. W.E.I. Littlejohn, DSC, RANVR) conducted A/S exercises off Sydney with HMS Undine (Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Ulysses, HMS Urania (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Grenville (Capt. R.G. Onslow, DSO, RN), HMCS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. C.E.R. Sharp, RN) and HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Harkness, DSC, OBE, RD, RNR). (10)

Media links


British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

Sources

  1. ADM 173/18123
  2. ADM 173/18397
  3. ADM 173/18096
  4. ADM 53/118389 + ADM 53/118436
  5. ADM 53/119575 + ADM 53/120303 + ADM 53/120374 + ADM 53/120663 + ADM 53/120675 + ADM 199/2494
  6. ADM 53/119575 + ADM 53/120303 + ADM 53/120374 + ADM 53/120663 + ADM 53/120675
  7. ADM 53/119575+ ADM 53/120303 + ADM 53/120374 + ADM 53/120663 + ADM 53/120675
  8. ADM 173/19434
  9. ADM 173/18745
  10. ADM 173/20353

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


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