Allied Warships

HMS Whirlwind (ii) (R 87)

Destroyer of the W class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassW 
PennantR 87 
Built byHawthorn Leslie & Co. (Hebburn-on-Tyne, U.K.) 
OrderedDec 1941 
Laid down31 Jul 1942 
Launched30 Aug 1943 
Commissioned20 Jul 1944 
End service 
History

Reconstructed as Type 15 frigate during 1953-1954.

Sunk as a target in 1974.  

Commands listed for HMS Whirlwind (ii) (R 87)

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CommanderFromTo
1Cdr. William Alan Frank Hawkins, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN14 Jun 1944Jul 1946

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Notable events involving Whirlwind (ii) include:


Converted to W-Class Frigate during the late 1950's. 1963-1965; Served on the West Indies Station and was based in Bermuda. (1)

17 Dec 1944

Operation Robson.

Air strike against the Pangkalan Brandan oil refinery (North-East Sumatra).

On 17 December 1944, Task Force 67, made up of the 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), light cruisers HMS Newcastle (Capt. J.G. Roper, OBE, RN), HMS Argonaut (Capt. E.W.L. Longley-Cook, CBE, RN), HMS Black Prince (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN), destroyers 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), Whirlwind (Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN) and Wrangler (Lt.Cdr. D.W. Austin, RN) departed Trincomalee for a carrier raid on the Pangkalan Brandan oil refinery.

On 18 December, HMS Argonaut, HMS Black Prince and the destroyers topped off with fuel from the RFA tanker Wave King (8159 GRT, built 1944).

At dawn on 20 December, north of Diamond Point, a total of 28 Avengers, 16 Hellcats and 16 Corsairs were flown off to attack the Pangkalan Brandan oil refinery. On arrival they found the refinery completely obscured by clouds and they therefore attacked harbour warehouses, railway yards and oil installations at Belawan. The fighters also attacked some airfields.

The enemy was taken by surprise, no fighters were encountered and flak was light. The results were difficult to observe due to the low cloud. No aircraft were lost in the attacks.

The weather had been unfavourable and as no improvment was expected the force withdrew and no second strike was carried out.

On 21 December rendezvous was made with the tanker Wave King but apparently no ship needed to fuel. HMS Wager and HMS Whirlwind were detached to escort the tanker back to Trincomalee.

Task Force 67 arrived at Trincomalee on 22 December 1944. (2)

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.

Media links


British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

Sources

  1. Personal communication
  2. ADM 199/1388

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


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