Allied Warships

HMS Vortigern (D 37)

Destroyer of the Admiralty V & W class

NavyThe Royal Navy
ClassAdmiralty V & W 
PennantD 37 
ModShort range escort 
Built byJ.S. White & Co. (Cowes, U.K.) 
OrderedAug 1916 
Laid down17 Jan 1916 
Launched5 Oct 1917 
Commissioned25 Jan 1918 
Lost15 Mar 1942 
Loss position53° 13'N, 1° 07'E

On 15 March 1942 HMS Vortigern (Lt.Cdr. Ronald Stanley Howlett, RN) was torpedoed and sunk off Cromer in position 55º06'N, 01º22'E by the German motor torpedo boat (E-boat) S-104. HMS Vortigern was escorting coastal convoy FS-749 at the time of her loss.

The wreck lies in 17 meters of water in position 53º13'06"N, 01º06'54"E.


Commands listed for HMS Vortigern (D 37)

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1Lt.Cdr. Walter James Burberry Handley, RN15 Jun 19392 Jan 1940
2Lt.Cdr. Ronald Stanley Howlett, RN2 Jan 194015 Mar 1942 (+)

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Notable events involving Vortigern include:

18 May 1940
HMS Cornwall (Capt. C.F. Hammill, RN) and HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. B.C.S. Martin, RN) arrived at Gibraltar around 2000 hours (zone 0, GMT). Around 0830 hours the cruisers had been joined by the destroyers HMS Keppel (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) E.G. Heywood-Lonsdale, RN) and HMS Vortigern (Lt.Cdr. R.S. Howlett, RN) for A/S escort in the approaches to Gibraltar. (1)

21 Aug 1940
HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN, with Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN = Capt.(D.5) on board), HMS Jackal (Cdr. T.M. Napier, RN), HMS Jupiter (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, RN) and HMS Vortigern (Lt.Cdr. R.S. Howlett, RN) conducted exercises off the Humber. (2)

31 Aug 1940
On 31 August 1940 a group of destroyers sailed from Immingham on a mine laying mission off the Dutch coast. The minelayers were from the 20th Destroyer Flotilla and consisted of the destroyers HMS Express (Cdr. J.G. Bickford, DSC, RN), HMS Esk (Lt.Cdr. R.J.H. Couch, DSC, RN), HMS Icarus (Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSC, RN), HMS Intrepid (Cdr. R.C. Gordon, RN) and HMS Ivanhoe (Cdr. P.H. Hadow, RN). The minelayers were escorted by members of the 5th Destroyer Flotilla consisted of the destroyers HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Jupiter (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, RN) and HMS Vortigern (Lt.Cdr. R.S. Howlett, RN). Aerial reconnaissance detected a German force and the ships of the 20th and 5th DF were ordered to intercept, believing wrongly that the German ships were part of an invasion force. HMS Express struck a mine and was badly damaged, HMS Esk went to her assistance and hit mine and sank immediately, HMS Ivanhoe also went to her assistance and hit a mine and was badly damaged, so much so she had to be sunk by HMS Kelvin. The following day they were joined by the light cruisers HMS Aurora (Capt. L.H.K. Hamilton, DSO, RN) and HMS Galatea (Capt. B.B. Schofield, RN) and while returning to base HMS Galatea struck another mine and was slightly damaged off Cleaner Shoal Buoy near the Humber light vessel.

Media links

British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman

Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.


  1. ADM 53/112035
  2. ADM 199/375

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

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