Allied Warships

HMS Witherington (D 76)

Destroyer of the Admiralty Modified W class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassAdmiralty Modified W 
PennantD 76 
ModShort range escort 
Built byJ.S. White & Co. (Cowes, U.K.) 
OrderedApr 1918 
Laid down27 Sep 1918 
Launched16 Jan 1919 
Commissioned10 Oct 1919 
End service 
History

HMS Witherington is not listed as an active unit in the October 1944 Navy List

Sold to Metal Idustries for breaking up on 20 March 1947. On the 29th April 1947, whilst under tow to the breakers yard at Charlestown, near Rosyth, Scotland, she broke the tow and was wrecked.

The wreck can be dived and lies on the south side of South Shields pier. As you turn south at the pier end turn immediately west. Travelling west alongside the pier you will see some concrete blocks, one of these has what looks like a monkey's face on it, anchor about 10m off this rock. Depth is about 7m. Watch out for fishing line and strong currents.

 

Commands listed for HMS Witherington (D 76)

Please note that we're still working on this section.

CommanderFromTo
1Lt.Cdr. Geoffrey Cecil Fryer, RN31 Jul 19394 Dec 1939
2Lt.Cdr. Jack Barrington Palmer, RN4 Dec 1939Apr 1941
3Lt. William Edward Cranston Fairchild, RNApr 194123 Oct 1941
4Lt. Richard Horncastle, RN23 Oct 1941Aug 1942
5Cdr. Charles Graham Thompson, OBE, RNAug 19422 Oct 1942
6Lt.Cdr. Marcus Henry Reginald Crichton, RN2 Oct 194219 May 1943
7Lt.Cdr. Robert Basil Stewart Tennant, RN19 May 1943mid 1944

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Notable events involving Witherington include:


18 Dec 1940

Convoy WS 5A and the attack by the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper

This convoy departed U.K. ports on 18/19 December 1940. Destination for the majority of the convoy was Suez where the convoy arrived on 16 February 1941.

On 17 December 1940 the transport Rangitiki (16698 GRT, built 1929) departed Avonmouth. She was escorted by HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) towards the rendez-vous position.

On 18 December 1940 the following troop transports / transports departed Liverpool, they formed WS 5A slow;
Anselm (5954 GRT, built 1935), Atreus (6547 GRT, built 1911), Bhutan (6104 GRT, built 1929), City of Canterbury (8331 GRT, built 1922), City of London (8956 GRT, built 1907), Delane ( GRT, built ), (Belgian) Elizabethville (8351 GRT, built 1922), Menelaus (10307 GRT, built 1923), Orbita (15495 GRT, built 1915), Settler (6202 GRT, built 1939) and Tamaroa (12405 GRT, built 1922). They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN), HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN), sloop HMS Wellington (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, RN) and the corvettes HMS Clematis (Cdr. Y.M. Cleeves, DSO, DSC, RD, RNR), HMS Jonquil (Lt.Cdr. R.E.H. Partington, RNR), HMS Cyclamen (Lt. H.N. Lawson, RNR) and HMS Geranium (T/Lt. A. Foxall, RNR).

On 18 December 1940 the following troop transports / transports departed from the Clyde;
(Dutch) Costa Rica (8055 GRT, built 1910), Ernebank (5388 GRT, built 1937), (Belgian) Leopoldville (11509 GRT, built 1929) and Neuralia (9182 GRT, built 1912). Ernebank was however forced to return around 1800 hours on the 21st escorted by HMS Witch and HMS St. Mary’s. On the 22nd, HMS Wellington, was detached to take over the escort of the Ernebank. They were escorted by the anti-aircraft cruiser HMS Cairo (Capt. P.V. McLaughlin, RN) and the destroyers HMS Bath (Cdr.(Retd.) A.V. Hemming, RN), HMS St. Marys (Lt. K.H.J.L. Phibbs, RN), HMS St. Albans (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) S.G.C. Rawson, RN), HMS Worcester (Lt.Cdr. E.C. Coats, RN).

On 18 December 1940 the following troop transports / transports departed from Lough Foyle (Belfast); City of Derby (6616 GRT, built 1921) and Stentor (6148 GRT, built 1926). They were escorted by the destroyer HMS Venomous (Lt.Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, RN).

The slow part of the convoy was met around dawn on the 19th by the light cruiser HMS Bonaventure (Capt. H.G. Egerton, RN) and the destroyers HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN), HMS Harvester (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, RN) and HMS Highlander (Cdr. W.A. Dallmeyer, RN).

Around 2300/21 all destroyers parted company with the slow part of the convoy.

On 19 December 1940 the following troop transports / transports departed Liverpool, they formed WS 5A fast;
Clan MacDonald (9653 GRT, built 1939), Essex (13655 GRT, built 1936) and Northern Prince (10917 GRT, built 1929).

On 19 December 1940 the following troop transports / transports departed from the Clyde;
Adviser (6348 GRT, built 1939), Arabistan (5874 GRT, built 1929), Barrister (6348 GRT, built 1939), Benrinnes (5410 GRT, built 1921), Clan Cumming (7264 GRT, built 1938), Empire Song (9228 GRT, built 1940) and Empire Trooper (14106 GRT, built 1922).

Escort for the fast section of convoy WS 5A joined around dawn on the 20th and was provided by the aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN), destroyers HMCS Ottawa (Cdr. E.R. Mainguy, RCN), HMCS St. Laurent (Lt. H.S. Rayner, RCN) and Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski) which came from the Clyde. And also by the destroyers HMS Highlander, HMS Harvester and FS Le Triomphant (Cdr. P.M.J.R. Auboyneau) which came from Londonderry. The first two of these destroyers had fuelled there after escorting the slow part of the convoy for a while. Also the aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN) (with fighters embarked for Takoradi) and the destroyers HMS Beverley (Cdr.(Retd.) E.F. Fitzgerald, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling joined from Liverpool.

The destroyers of the fast portion of the convoy were detached during the night of 21/22 December 1940.

At dawn on 23 December 1940 the slow and fast part of the convoy made rendez-vous and proceeded in company.

On the 24th, HMS Naiad parted company to return to the U.K. The heavy cruiser HMS Berwick (Capt. G.L. Warren, RN) and the light cruiser HMS Dunedin (Capt. R.S. Lovatt, RN) both joined the escort of the convoy.

At dawn on the 25th the convoy was attacked by the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper. She had made contact with the convoy with radar the previous day and had already made a torpedo attack shortly before 0400/25 but no hits had been obtained nor had the attack been noticed by the British.

Then shortly after 0800/25 she made visual contact with the convoy and it came as a surprise to the Germans to sight HMS Berwick.

Around 0830 hours the Germans opened fire on HMS Berwick but due to the bad visibility she soon shifted target to the troopship Empire Trooper which was not in her assigned station. The troopship was slightly damaged as was the merchant vessel Arabistan.

The convoy was ordered to scatter and HMS Berwick and HMS Bonaventure both engaged the German cruiser as did the corvette Cyclamen briefly.

Meanwhile HMS Dunedin laid a smokescreen to cover the ships of the convoy. HMS Furious flew off a few aircraft but these failed to find the German cruiser in the bad visibility.

HMS Berwick was damaged by gunfire from the German cruiser but she forced, together with HMS Bonaventure, the enemy to break off the action around 0915 hours.

In the evening HMS Boneventure was detached to search for the damaged Empire Trooper.

On the 28th the convoy was reassembled at sea (minus Empire Trooper which was ordered to proceed to Gibraltar via the Azores) and continued on to Freetown where it arrived on 6 January 1941. (1)

11 Mar 1941
HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN) was damaged by German bombing at Portsmouth, she was beached to prevent her from sinking. Repairs took over 5 months to complete.

23 Nov 1941
HMS H 34 (Lt. W.A. Phillimore, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle together with HMS Witherington (Lt. R. Horncastle, RN) and HNoMS Bodo. (2)

24 Nov 1941
HMS H 34 (Lt. W.A. Phillimore, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle together with HMS Witherington (Lt. R. Horncastle, RN). (2)

25 Nov 1941
HMS H 34 (Lt. W.A. Phillimore, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle together with HMS Witherington (Lt. R. Horncastle, RN) and aircraft. (2)

23 Mar 1942
HMS Witherington (Lt. R. Horncastle, RN) picks up 47 survivors from the British tanker British Prudence that was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-754 north-east of Halifax in position 45°28'N, 56°13'W.

28 Jul 1942
HMS Witherington picks up 12 survivors from the American fishing vessel Ebb that was sunk by gunfire from German U-boat U-754 45 nautical miles south-east of Cape Sable, Nova Scotia, Canada in position 43°18'N, 63°50'W.

14 Jun 1943
HMS H 33 (Lt. J.A. Spender, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Amazon (Lt.Cdr. D.H.P. Gardiner, DSC, RN), HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. R.B.S. Tennant, RN), HMS Folkestone (Cdr.(Retd.) J.G.C. Gibson, OBE, RN) and HMS Mansfield (Lt.Cdr. L.C. Hill, OBE, RNR). (3)

15 Jun 1943
HMS H 33 (Lt. J.A. Spender, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Amazon (Lt.Cdr. D.H.P. Gardiner, DSC, RN), HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. R.B.S. Tennant, RN), HMS Folkestone (Cdr.(Retd.) J.G.C. Gibson, OBE, RN) and HMS Teviot (Lt.Cdr. T. Taylor, DSC, RN). (3)

2 Nov 1943
German U-boat U-340 was sunk at 0430hrs on 2 November 1943 near Tangier, in position 35°33'N, 06°37'W, by depth charges from the British sloop HMS Fleetwood (Cdr. W.B. Piggott, DSC, RD, RNR) and the British destroyers HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. P.G. Merriman, DSC, RN) and HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. R.B.S. Tennant, RN) and by depth charges from a British Wellington aircraft (Sqdn. 179/R).

Media links


British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.


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Sources

  1. ADM 199/1136
  2. ADM 173/16766
  3. ADM 173/17783

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


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