|HMS Volunteer (D71)|
HMS Volunteer underway on the River Clyde during World War II.
|Class and type:||Admiralty Modified W-class destroyer|
|Builder:||William Denny and Brothers, Dunbarton, Scotland|
|Laid down:||16 April 1918|
|Launched:||17 April 1919|
|Completed:||7 November 1919|
|Commissioned:||7 November 1919|
|Motto:||Pro aris et focis ("For Hearths and Homes ")|
Battle honours for:
|Fate:||Sold for scrapping 3 or 4 March 1947|
|Badge:||A gold lion's mask on a gold shield over a silver barry of three, all on a blue field|
|Class & type:||Admiralty Modified W-class destroyer|
|Displacement:||1,140 tons standard, 1,550 tons full|
|Length:||300 ft o/a, 312 ft p/p|
|Beam:||29.5 feet (9.0 m)|
|Draught:||9 feet (2.7 m), 11.25 feet (3.43 m) under full load|
|Propulsion:||Yarrow type Water-tube boilers, Brown-Curtis geared steam turbines, 2 shafts, 27,000 shp|
320–370 tons oil|
3,500 nmi at 15 kt
900 nmi at 32 kt
|Sensors and |
Type 286M Air Warning Radar fitted 1940|
Type 271 Surface Warning Radar fitted 1940
As built 1920:|
• 4 x BL 4.7 in (120-mm) Mk.I guns, mount P Mk.I
• 2 x QF 2 pdr Mk.II "pom-pom" (40 mm L/39)
• 6 × 21-inch Torpedo Tubes
1940 SRE conversion:
• 3 × BL 4.7 in (120mm) Mk.I L/45 guns
• 1 × 3 in (76 mm) AA gun
• 2 × QF 2 pdr Mk.II "pom-pom" (40 mm L/39)
• 3 × 21-inch Torpedo Tubes (one triple mount)
• 2 × depth charge racks
• twin 6 pounder army gun (1942 – replaced ‘A’ gun)
Construction and commissioning
Volunteer was ordered in January 1918 as part of the 13th Order of the 1918-1919 Naval Programme. She was laid down on 16 April 1918 by William Denny and Brothers at Dunbarton, Scotland, and launched on 17 April 1919. She was completed on 7 November 1919 and commissioned into service the same day with the pennant number D71.
Before World War II
Volunteer entered service with the fleet in 1919. During 1921 she was assigned to the 4th Destroyer Flotilla in the Atlantic Fleet, and in 1925 she was transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet along with the rest of the flotilla. During the early 1930s, she was decommissioned, transferred to the Reserve Fleet, and placed in the Nore Reserve. She later was moved to Rosyth, Scotland, remaining in reserve there. In August 1939, Volunteer was recommissioned with a reserve crew for the Royal Review of the Reserve Fleet in Weymouth Bay by King George VI. She then remained in commission as the fleet mobilised because of deteriorating diplomatic relations between the United Kingdom and Nazi Germany
World War II
The United Kingdom entered World War II on 3 September 1939, and Volunteer was assigned to the 15th Destroyer Flotilla. On 5 September, she joined the destroyers HMS Vimy, HMS Witherington (D76), and HMS Wolverine (D78) as the escort for Convoy GC 1 from Milford Haven, Wales. In October 1939 she was transferred to the 17th Destroyer Flotilla in Western Approaches Command for convoy defence operations in the Western Approaches and North Atlantic Ocean, based at Plymouth, and she continued these duties into 1940.
On 8 January 1940, Volunteer joined the destroyers HMS Vanoc (H33), HMS Venetia (D53), and HMS Viscount (D92) in escorting Convoy HG 13 during the final leg of its voyage from Gibraltar to Liverpool, detaching from the convoy in the Irish Sea on 10 January 1940 to return to Plymouth. On 5 March 1940, Volunteer, the destroyer HMS Whirlwind (D30), and the sloops HMS Enchantress (L56) and HMS Sandwich (L12) joined Convoy OG 21F as it formed for its voyage to Gibraltar; Volunteer stayed with the convoy until 8 March, then during her return voyage to Plymouth joined Venetia, Whirlwind, the destroyers HMS Veteran (D72) and HMS Wild Swan (D62), and the sloop HMS Leith (L36) in an unsuccessful search in the Southwestern Approaches for a German submarine reported by an Allied aircraft. From 25 to 26 March, Volunteer, the destroyer leader HMS Campbell (D60), the destroyers HMS Walker (D27) and HMS Wanderer (D74), and the sloop HMS Aberdeen (L97) escorted Convoy OG 23 in the Southwestern Approaches during the first leg of its voyage from the United Kingdom to Gibraltar. From 27 to 30 March, Volunteer and the sloops HMS Scarborough (L25) and HMS Wellington (L65) escorted Convoy HG 23 during the final portion of its voyage from Gibraltar to Liverpool.
In April 1940, Volunteer was detached to serve under Rear Admiral (Destroyers) in the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands and support the operations of Alllied forces in the Norwegian Campaign, which began on 9 April when Germany invaded Norway. She was assigned to escort convoys between the United Kingdom and Norway. The first of these was Convoy NP 1, the first troop convoy to Norway, which she joined Vanoc, Whirlwind, Witherington, the light cruisers HMS Birmingham (C19) and HMS Manchester, the destroyer HMS Highlander (H44), and the netlayer HMS Protector (A146) in escorting between 11 and 15 April as it crossed from the River Clyde in Scotland to Norway. She escorted similar convoys until 26 April, when she joined the destroyers HMS Beagle (H30), HMS Encounter (H10), HMS Escort (H66), HMS Fortune (H70), and HMS Grenade (H86) as the escort for the aircraft carriers HMS Ark Royal and HMS Glorious during air operations in defence of fleet units at Andalsnes and Namsos, Norway. While thus engaged, she made an unsuccessful attack on a German submarine on 27 April before escorting Glorious to Scapa Flow for refuelling and aircraft replenishment.
In May 1940 – the month in which her pennant number was changed to I71 – Volunteer continued to deploy off Norway. On 27 May, she, the destroyer HMS Amazon (D39), and the sloop HMS Fleetwood (L74) escorted the damaged destroyer HMS Eskimo (F75) while Eskimo was under tow from Skjelfjord, Norway, to the United Kingdom for repairs.
With the German conquest of Norway bringing the Norwegian Campaign to a close, Volunteer returned to Western Approaches Command in June 1940 for convoy defence and patrol duties in the Western Approaches and North Atlantic. On 7 June 1940, Volunteer, the destroyer HMS Wren, and the minesweeper HMS Gleaner (J83) rescued survivors of the armed merchant cruiser HMS Carinthia, which had sunk that day west of Galway Bay, Ireland, 36 hours after being torpedoed on 6 June at by the German submarine U-46. The same day, Volunteer rescued the master of the British merchant ship SS Frances Massey, who was the sole survivor after Frances Massey sank in only 30 seconds with the loss of 34 lives following a torpedo hit by the German submarine U-48 14 nautical miles (22.5 km) northwest of Tory Island, Ireland, at . On 8 June, Volunteer escorted the heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire to the Clyde while Devonshire had the Norwegian Royal Family embarked.
In July 1940, Volunteer escorted a convoy bound for Casablanca, French Morocco, for part of its voyage, detaching at Gibraltar to take up duties as a local escort for convoys. In August 1940, she provided local escort services for convoys bound for Operation Menace, the unsuccessful British attempt to occupy Dakar in Senegal, as well as for transatlantic convoys bound for the United Kingdom and two convoys in the English Channel. After the German submarine U-32 torpedoed the light cruiser HMS Fiji on 1 September while Fiji was underway to join the Dakar occupation force, Volunteer was among the destroyers that escorted Fiji to the River Clyde in Scotland for repairs.
In September 1940, Volunteer was transferred to convoy defence and anti-invasion patrol duties in the English Channel. She participated in night sweeps along the French coast, and in October 1940 took part in Operation Medium as one of two destroyers covering a naval force which bombarded Cherbourg, France. In November or December 1940 (sources differ), she returned to Western Approaches Command and resumed convoy escort operations in the Western Approaches and North Atlantic.
In January 1941, Volunteer was reassigned to the 5th Escort Group, based at Londonderry (also called Derry), Northern Ireland, in which she joined Vanoc, Walker, the destroyer HMS Caldwell (I20), and nine Flower-class corvettes. She continued convoy defence operations in the North Atlantic with the group, which was under the command of Commander Donald Macintyre. In March 1941, Volunteer, Vanoc, Walker (serving as Macintyre's flagship), the destroyers HMS Sardonyx (H26) and HMS Scimitar (H21), and the corvettes HMS Bluebell (K80) and HMS Hydrangea (K39) were escorting Convoy HX 112 when the German submarine U-110 sighted it. After Vanoc detected U-110 with radar, the escorts forced the submarine to submerge and depth-charged her. HX 112 then came under attack on 16–17 March by five German submarines, and its escorts were heavily engaged in its defence, during which Vanoc and Walker sank U-99, capturing her commanding officer, Otto Kretschmer, and Vanoc sank U-100, killing her commanding officer, Joachim Schepke.
In April 1941, Volunteer was deployed at Devonport. On 10 or 17-18 April (sources differ) she was taking part in a local exercise when the destroyer HMS Newark (G08) accidentally rammed her off the coast of Ireland. Volunteer suffered six men killed and serious damage to her forward structure. Later in the month, she proceeded to Belfast, Northern Ireland, for repairs at a commercial shipyard that lasted through September 1941.
Volunteer returned to action with the 5th Escort Group in October 1941, and with the group formed part of the escort of Convoy HX 155. On 9 December 1941, she put to sea from Milford Haven as part of the escort of the battleship HMS Ramillies as Ramillies began a voyage to join the Eastern Fleet, escorting a troop convoy along the way. Ramillies, Volunteer, and the ships accompanying them escorted the convoy, WS 14, from 13 to 15 December 1941, when Volunteer and the destroyer HMS Witch (D89) detached to return to the Clyde after the convoy arrived at Gibraltar.
On 12 January 1942, Volunteer put to sea from the Clyde with Vanoc, Walker, Witherington, and the destroyer HMS Vanquisher (D54) as the local escort of the military convoy WS 15 during its passage of the Northwestern Approaches, detaching on 15 January to return to the Clyde. Similarly, she departed the Clyde on 23 March 1942 with the destroyers HMS Antelope (H36), HMS Beverley (H64), HMS Boadicea (H65), HMS Keppel (I84), HMS Leamington (G19), HMS Newport (G54), and HMS Rockingham (G58) and the escort destroyer HMS Badsworth (L03) as the local escort for the military convoy WS 17 while it transited the Northwestern Approaches during the first leg of its voyage to the Middle East. After Keppel achieved a radio direction-finding fix on the German submarine U-587 on 26 March 1942, the escorts sighted the submarine on the surface and expended all of their depth charges in attacking her after she submerged. Volunteer shared credit with Leamington and the escort destroyers HMS Aldenham (L22) and HMS Grove (L77) for sinking U-587 in the North Atlantic west of Ushant at with the loss of her entire crew of 42. Volunteer detached from the convoy later that day to return to the Clyde.
From 18 to 20 April 1942, Volunteer, Badsworth, Boadicea, the destroyers HMS Georgetown (I40), HMS Lancaster (G05), HMS St. Marys (I12), and HMS Salisbury (I52), and the escort destroyer HMS Lauderdale (L95) escorted the military convoy WS 18 during the first leg of its voyage in the Northwestern Approaches after departing the Clyde, detaching with Boadicea to return to the Clyde. Volunteer put to sea from the Clyde on 10 May 1942 along with Keppel, Leamington, St. Marys, and the destroyer HMS Castleton (I23) to escort the military convoy WS 19 during the first leg of its voyage in the Northwestern Approaches; she detached to return to the Clyde on 13 May.
After her return, Volunteer was assigned to the support of Arctic convoys steaming between the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union. Accordingly, she and the destroyers HMS Achates (H12), HMS Ashanti (F51), and HMS Martin (G44), the antiaircraft ship HMS Alynbank, the corvettes HMS Honeysuckle (K27), HMS Hyderabad (K212), and HMS Starwort (K20), the Polish Navy destroyer ORP Garland, and the Free French Naval Forces corvette FFL Roselys (K57) joined the escort of Convoy PQ 16 on 23 March for its voyage to the Soviet Union. German aircraft continuously shadowed the convoy, and German bombers, torpedo planes, and submarines carried out heavy attacks against it. On 25 March, Volunteer rescued the pilot of a Hawker Hurricane fighter from a Catapult Aircraft Merchantman (CAM ship) after the American merchant ship Carlton mistakenly had shot him down. Before German attacks ceased, PQ-16 had suffered the loss of seven of its 34 merchant ships and damage to four others and to Garland. On 30 March, the escorting ships handed the convoy over to the Eastern Local Escort and proceeded to port in North Russia, where Volunteer remained until she and the same ships that had protected PQ 16 escorted Convoy QP 16 from the Kola Inlet to the United Kingdom in a voyage which began on 26 June 1942. After an uneventful passage, Volunteer detached from the convoy at sea near Bear Island on 5 or 6 July 1942 (sources differ) to proceed to the United Kingdom.
With her conversion complete, Volunteer underwent post-conversion acceptance trials in January 1943 and proceeded to Tobermory on the Isle of Mull for workups. After she completed these in February 1943, she was assigned to the 4th Escort Group – in which she joined Beverley, Highlander, the destroyer HMS Winchelsea (D46), and six Flower-class corvettes – based at Greenock, Scotland.
In March 1943, Volunteer was the flagship of Commander G. J. Luther, commanding the escort – which also included Beverley and the corvettes HMS Anemone (K48) and HMS Pennywort (K111) – of Convoy HX 229, consisting of 40 merchant ships. HX 229 and Convoy SC 122 came under attack by German submarines of the Raubgraf ("Robber Baron") and Dranger ("Harrier") wolfpacks on 16 March, and the action developed into the largest convoy battle of World War II, with 38 German submarines of three wolfpacks involved. During heavy German attacks on 17 March, the submarine U-616 made an unsuccessful torpedo attack on Volunteer. By the time the escorts, outnumbered two-to-one by attacking submarines, received reinforcements on 18 March and the German attacks abated, HX 229 had lost 13 merchant ships sunk, and its escorts, although constantly attacking submarine contacts, had been unable to sink any of the attacking submarines.
In May 1943, Vounteer joined the 5th Escort Group in escorting Convoy ONS 7. The convoy underwent a series of attacks by German submarines of the Donau 1 ("Danube" 1) group from 11 to 13 May, and attacks resumed on 17 May. However, the convoy took evasive action and lost only one merchant ship.
Volunteer continued her North Atlantic convoy defence operations from June to September 1943, but also began escorting convoys between the United Kingdom and Gibraltar carrying troops, equipment, and supplies for Allied offensive operations in Sicily and Italy. From June to September, she also took part in offensive antisubmarine operations by Allied ships and aircraft in the Bay of Biscay targeting German submarines transiting the bay between their bases in German-occupied France and their operating areas in the Atlantic. In October 1943, she participated in Operation Alacrity, the establishment of Allied air and refueling bases in the Azores, by deploying with the 4th and 5th Escort Groups as an escort for convoys carrying personnel, equipment, and supplies to the Azores. In November she returned to the antisubmarine offensive in the Bay of Biscay, and she resumed convoy defence opetrations in the North Atlantic in December 1943.
Volunteer continued on North Atlantic convoy escort duty until April 1944, when she was reassigned to operations in the English Channel escorting convoys along the coast of Great Britain. Later in the month she was assigned to convoy escort operations in Operation Neptune in support of the Allied invasion of Normandy, scheduled for early June 1944. On 21 April 1944, she and the escort destroyer HMS Haldon (L19) and Free French Naval Forces escort destroyer FFL La Combattante were in action against German motor torpedo boats – S-boats, known to the Allies as "E-boats" – of the 9th Flotilla off Hastings.
In early June 1944, Volunteer joined the trawlers HMS Ellesmere (FY204), HMS Kingston Andalusite (FY160), and HMS Ruby (T24) and the Royal Canadian Navy corvette HMCS Summerside (K141) at Milford Haven to form Escort Group 144 of Force B for the Normandy landings. On 4 June, the group escorted Convoy EBC2 – consisting of 32 motor transport carriers and coasters and five oil tankers – from Milford Haven through the Bristol Channel to the Solent; after the landings were postponed from 5 to 6 June due to bad weather, the convoy's arrival in the Solent was delayed to 6 June. On 7 June, the second day of the invasion, the convoy and its escorts got underway from the Solent and proceeded to the American beachhead in Normandy, off which they arrived on 8 June. Later that day, Volunteer detached from the convoy to return to Milford Haven and begin escorting convoys bringing reinforcements and supplies to the beaches, the first of which she escorted through the Bristol Channel on 10 June. She continued to escort convoys to Normandy until later in June, when she was released from Operation Neptune.
In July 1944, Volunteer was assigned to Portsmouth Command and returned to the escort of coastal convoys in the English Channel. In August 1944, she was one of the escorts of three tank landing ships which discharged supplies for the United States Army's 12th Army Group at Saint-Michel-en-Grève, France. In November 1944 she became part of the 1st Destroyer Flotilla in Portsmouth Command, and in December 1944 she became part of the 21st Destroyer Flotilla in Nore Command at Sheerness. By January 1945, she was escorting convoys in the Nore, the North Sea, and the English Channel. She continued in these duties without major incident through the surrender of Germany in early May 1945 and until the end of May 1945.
Decommissioning and disposal
Withdrawn from operational service at the end of May 1945, Volunteer was decommissioned and placed in reserve in June 1945, and by July 1945, she no longer appeared on the Royal Navy's active list. Placed on the disposal list in 1947, she was sold to BISCO on 3 or 4 March 1947 (sources differ) for scrapping by either M. Brechin or by Granton Shipbreaking (sources differ). She was towed to the shipbreaker's yard at Granton, Edinburgh, Scotland, in December 1947 or April 1948 (sources differ) and scrapped there in April 1948.
- uboat.net HMS Volunteer (D 71)
- Colledge, J. J., Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of All Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy From the Fifteenth Century to the Present, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1987, ISBN 0-87021-652-X, p. 372.
- uboat.net Frances Massey: British Steam Merchant
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