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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2004

HMS OPPORTUNE (G 80) -  O-class Destroyer including Convoy Escort Movements

HMS Opportune (Navy Photos/George Knight, click to enlarge)

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ORIBI-Class Fleet Destroyer ordered from John I Thornycroft, Woolston on 3rd September 1939 with the 1st Emergency Flotilla. She was laid down on 28th March 1940 and launched on 21st January 1942 as the 2nd RN ship to carry this name, previously used for a destroyer sold in 1923. Her build was completed on 14th August 1942 after delay in deliveries of equipment by manufacturers due to enemy bombing and damage to shipyard in an air raid during December 1940. She was one of the four of the Class designed  for use as a minelayer if required. In March 1942 after a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign the ship was adopted by the civil community of Brentford, Middlesex, new in the Greater London Borough of Hounslow.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


ARCTIC 1942-45 - NORTH AFRICA 1942 - ATLANTIC 1943 - NORTH CAPE  1943 - NORMANDY  1944


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field Blue,  an hour glass Gold.


M o t t o

Felix oportunitate pugnae: 'Happy at the chance of a fight'

             or 'Fortunate in the timeliness of her fight.



D e t a i l s   o f   W a r   S e r v i c e


(for more ship information, go to Naval History Homepage and type name in Site Search)



1 9 4 2


August              Contractor's trials and commissioned for service with 17th Destroyer Flotilla in Home Fleet

       15th             Carried out acceptance trials during passage to Scapa Flow as part of the escort for Convoy PW202

                           to Bristol.

       17th             Independent passage to Scapa Flow after landing trials party at Plymouth.

       18th             Commenced Work-up with Home Fleet at Scapa Flow.


September          Minelaying trials delayed by requirement to join escort for Russian Convoy PQ18.

         9th             Deployed with HM Destroyers ASHANTI, ESKIMO, FAULKNOR, FURY, IMPULSIVE,


                           OBEDIENT, SOMALI and TARTAR as part of screen for HM Escort Carrier AVENGER

                           and HM Cruiser SCYLLA for passage of PQ18 to North Russia. (See Naval Staff

                           History (Mining).)

        17th            Detached from PQ18 and joined returning Convoy QP14 with HMS SCYLLA, HMS AVENGER

                           and Home Fleet destroyers.

        20th            Detached with HM Destroyers ESKIMO, INTREPID and HM Trawler LORD MIDDLETON to

                           escort damaged destroyer HMS SOMALI under tow by HMS ASHANTI.

                           (For details of all Russian Convoy operations see CONVOYS TO RUSSIA by RA Ruegg,

                           THE RUSSIAN CONVOYS by B Schoefield, ARCTIC CONVOYS by R Woodman and

                           CONVOY ! by P Kemp).

        24th           Rejoined Fleet units after sinking of HMS SOMALI in gale conditions.

        25th           Landed survivors from HMS SOMALI at Scapa Flow.

                           Passage to Immingham for conversion as minelayer.


October             Under conversion.

        13th           Carried out first of Class minelaying trials.

        14th           On completion of detached for minelay in East Coast Barrier (Operation BS86).

                           (For details of all minelaying in WW2 see the Naval Staff History (Mining).

       30th            Escorted HMS SCYLLA with Admiral A. B. Cunningham embarked for passage to Gibraltar

                           to take up appointment as Allied Naval Commander for North African landings.

                          (Operation TORCH - For details see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by C Barnett).



         1st            Arrived at Gibraltar and joined exercises for landings with other ships.

         5th            Deployed on anti-submarine patrols off landing areas.

         8th            Deployed with screen for Force H ships during cover of landings at Algiers.

       18th            Escorted HM Battleship DUKE OF YORK and HM Aircraft Carrier VICTORIOUS for passage

                          back to rejoin Home Fleet at Scapa Flow after supporting allied landings.

       21st            Rescued survivors from U517 which had been forced to surface by SWORDFISH aircraft

                          from HMS VICTORIOUS and had scuttled. See U-BOATS DESTROYED by P Kemp.)

       24th            Landed German prisoners at Greenock.

                          Passage to Scapa Flow to rejoin Home Fleet.


December          Deployed with Flotilla for screening and patrol in NW Approaches.

       14th            Escorted HM Cruisers SHEFFIELD and JAMAICA with HM Destroyer MATCHLESS and

                          BEAGLE as Force R to cover passage of Russian Convoy JW51A.

        19th           Joined escort for JW51A with above ships.

        20th           Deployed with Force R south of convoy.

        24th           Arrived at Kola Inlet with Force R.

        27th           Sailed from Kola Inlet with HMS JAMAICA, HMS SHEFFIELD and HMS MATCHLESS to

                          provide Cruiser Cover for Russian Convoy JW51B.

        29th           Detached from JW51B with HMS MATCHLESS and returned to Iceland.

                          (Note: Took no direct part in the Battle of the Barents Sea on 31st.

                                      Battle Honour NOT awarded . See above references and 73 NORTH by D Pope).


1 9 4 3


January              Return passage to Scapa Flow to resume Home Fleet duties.



        19th           Joined HM Destroyers BOADICEA, FAULKNOR, INGLEFIELD, MILNE, OBDURATE,

                          OBEDIENT and ORWELL as destroyer Escort for Russian Convoy JW53-

                          (Note: HM Cruiser SCYLLA provided Distant Cover.)

        27th           Detached from JW53 after local escort arrived.



          1st           Joined escort for returning RA53-

          6th           Detached with HM Destroyers FAULKNOR, ECLIPSE and IMPULSIVE to carry cut an anti-

                          submarine operation ahead of convoy before taking passage to Seidisfjord.

         10th          Rejoined convoy in storm conditions with same ships after refuelling. Deployed to assist

                          mercantile J H LATROBE which had drifted into a minefield after machinery defects.

                          Took stranded ship in tow.

                          (Note: Salvage money was later paid for this retrieval from a minefield !)

         11th          Detached from RA53 with HM Destroyer FURY and resumed Hone Fleet duties.

         20th          Nominated for Atlantic convoy defence and deployed as 5th Support Group with HM Destroyers

                          OBDURATE, PATHFINDER and HM Escort Carrier BITER

                          Deployed in support of passage of Atlantic convoys.

                          (For details of development of tactics used in the Battle of the Atlantic see SEEK AND STRIKE

                          by W Hackmann and U-BOAT WAR IN THE ATLANTIC (HMSO), ).


April                  Atlantic convoy defence in continuation.

         23rd          Deployed with Group to support Convoy ONS4 escort which was under threat of attack by MEISE

                           U-Boat Group.

         25th           Participated in sinking of U203 with HMS PATHFINDER and aircraft from HMS BITER.

                           See U-BOATS DESTROYED by P Kemp.)



          5th            Sailed from St Johns with ships of Group to support defence of Convoy HX237 after refuelling.

          7th            Joined convoy with Group after delay due to fog off Newfoundland.

         12th           Carried cut unsuccessful search for missing aircraft from HMS BITER.

                           Deployed for anti-submarine search with HMS PATHFINDER after sighting by LIBERATOR

                           aircraft. Depth charge attack on submarine was later assessed as damaged.

         13th           Transferred with Group to support passage of SC129.


June                   Resumed Home Fleet duties with Flotilla.

                           Deployed for support of replenishment of garrison at Spitzbergen.

                           (Operation FH in GEARBOX Series.)


July                    Deployed in NW Approaches for convoy defence and Fleet duties.

                           Took part in Flotilla exercises in NW Approaches.

August               Nominated for support of planned operations in Mediterranean.

          3rd            Escorted HM Aircraft Carriers ILLUSTRIOUS and UNICORN with  M Destroyers

                           OBEDIENT and OBDURATE for anti-submarine flying operations in NW Approaches.

        13th            Escorted HMS UNICORN to Gibraltar for support of Salerno landings.

        17th            Detached on arrival at Gibraltar.

        20th            Escorted damaged aircraft carrier HMS INDOMITABLE from Gibraltar to Norfolk, Va

                           for repair with HM Destroyers OBEDIENT and OBDURATE.

        31st            Arrived at Norfolk.



          1st             Took passage to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

        14th            Escorted HM Battlecruiser RENOWN carrying Prime Minister back to UK after meeting

                           with US President (QUADRANT Conference).

                           (Note: HM Cruiser KENT, HM Destroyers OBEDIENT, OBDURATE and ORWELL were

                                        part of screen for this passage.

        17th            Rejoined Flotilla at Scapa Flow for Home Fleet duties.



          4th            Took part in air attack on shipping at Bodo, Norway of Norway as part of screen.

                           (Note: Ships involved included US aircraft carrier USS RANGER as well Home Fleet.

                                        (Operation LEADER).


November          Home Fleet duties in continuation.

                           (Note: Radar Type 272 had been installed by this period.

                                        For details of development and use of radar see RADAR AT SEA by D Howse.)



         15th           Joined Ocean Escort for Russian Convoy JW55A with HM Destroyers ASHANTI, MATCHLESS,

                           METEOR, MILNE, MUSKETEER, VIRAGO and Canadian ATHABASKAN.

         21st           Detached to reinforce escort of returning Convoy RA55A.

         22nd          Joined RA55A with HM Destroyers MATCHLESS, MUSKETEER and VIRAGO.

         25th           Detached to reinforce escort of Convoy JW55B under threat of attack by the German

                           battleship SCHARNHORST.

         26th           Directed by CinC Home Fleet in HM Cruiser BELFAST to join H M Cruisers SHEFFIELD

                           and NORFOLK with HM Destroyers MATCHLESS, MUSKETEER and VIRAGO.

                           After SCHARNHORST had been crippled these ships delivered the coup de gras by a

                           series of torpedo attacks.

                           (Note: Six hits were registered before SCHARNHORST sank.)

                                      (For details see KOLA RUN by D MacIntyre, ARCTIC DESTROYERS by P Kemp

                                       and Naval Staff History)

         28th           Passage to Scapa Flow after refuelling at Kola Inlet.


1 9 4 4



           1st           Resumed Fleet duties with Flotilla on arrival.

         26th           Joined escort for Russian Convoy JW56B with HM Destroyers MAHRATTA, MILNE,

                           SCOURGE and Canadian HURON.



           1st           Detached from JW56B on arrival at Kola Inlet.

           3rd           Joined escort for returning Convoy RA56, HM Destroyers OFFA, SAVAGE, VENUS, VIGILANT,

                           INCONSTANT, MAHRATTA, METEOR, MILNE ,MUSKETEER, SCOURGE,  Canadian

                           HURON and Norwegian STORD.

           7th           Detached from RA56 with HM Destroyers OFFA, SAVAGE, VENUS and VIGILANT before

                           convoy arrival at Loch Ewe.


March                Took part in anti-E-Boat exercises with Home Fleet ships to prepare for support of Normandy

                           Normandy landings.

         29th           Joined escort for Russian Convoy JW58 with HM Destroyers OBEDIENT, ORWELL, ONSLOW,

                           ORWELL, SAUMAREZ, SERAPIS, SCORPION, VENUS and Norwegian STORD.



           4th           Detached from JW58 on arrival at Kola Inlet after unscathed passage.

           7th           Joined escort for return convoy RA588 with HM Cruiser DIADEM, HM Destroyers ONSLOW,

                           OFFA, ORWELL, SAUMAREZ, SERAPIS and Norwegian STORD.

         12th           Detached and took passage to Hull for boiler clean.

         23rd           On completion deployed with ships of Flotilla In English Channel as Task Force 27 for

                            exercises and patrol prior to allied landings In Normandy.

         28th            In action with E-Boats which had attacked convoy of US landing craft on passage to Slapton

                            Sands for Exercise TIGER.

                            E-Boats escaped through smoke screen.

                            (For details see E-BOAT ALERT by Trent and LANDINGS IN NORMANDY, June 1944



May                     Nominated for duty in Dover Command in support of Normandy landings.

                            (Operation NEPTUNE: For details of naval activities prior to and during assault

                            see OPERATION NEPTUNE by K Edwards and LANDINGS IN NORMANDY JUNE 1944


                            Deployed in English Channel based at Dover.

                            Under air attack during Channel patrol.


June                    Deployed en interception patrol with HM Destroyers OBEDIENT, ORWELL and SAVAGE.

                            (Note: These ships carried out patrols to intercept any German warships trying to enter

                                        Channel from the east to attack assault or build-up convoys.)

          4th             Operation delayed for 24 hours.

          5th             Maintained patrol in eastern English Channel

          6th             Deployed between Dungeness and Worthing to the south of gun zone and to seaward of coastal

                            channel. See above reference.


July                     Retained in channel based at Dover after NEPTUNE build-up phase completed.

         27th            Engaged E-boats off Dungeness with Motor Torpedo Boats of Light Coastal Forces and HM

                            Destroyers OBEDIENT and SAVAGE in defence of convoy.


August               Channel deployment in continuation.

         17th            Engaged E-Boats off Dover with HM Destroyer WALPOLE and MTB's.


September          On release from Channel patrol duties completed boiler clean in London.

                             Resumed Home Fleet duties with Flotilla at Scapa Flow.


October               Deployed with Flotilla in NW Approaches.



         22nd           Part of escort for Russian Convoy JW61 with HM Cruiser DIDO, HM Destroyers OFFA,

                            OBEDIENT, ONSLOW, ORIBI and ORWELL.

         24th            Carried out anti-submarine attacks which were unsuccessful.

         28th            Detached on arrival of JW61 at Kola Inlet.



          2nd            Part of escort for returning Convoy RA61 with HMS DUX) and destroyers and frigates

                            of Western Approaches Command.

          7th             Detached from RA61 before arrival of convoy in Loch Ewe.

         11th            Deployed with HM Destroyers CAVENDISH, ZEST and ZODIAC as Force 3 to escort cruiser

                            HMS DIDO, HM Escort Carriers PREMIER and TRUMPETER for air strikes on shipping off

                            Egersund, Norway (Operation GRATIS).


December            Home Fleet deployment with Flotilla in NW Approaches and North Sea continued.


1 9 4 5



         10th            Joined HM Destroyers CAVENDISH, ZEST and ZODIAC as screen for H M Cruiser DIDO,

                            HM Escort Carriers PREMIER and TRUMPETER in Force 3 for combined air minelay and

                            shipping strike off Norway (Operation SPELLBINDER).

         11th            Part of screen during air minelaying operations in Karm Sound. (Operation GRATIS).

                            (Note: HM Cruiser APOLLO carried cut minelay off Utsira with Force 2.)

         13th            Returned to Scapa Flow with Force 3.



          6th             Joined escort for Russian Convoy JW64 with HM Destroyers ONSLAUGHT, ONSLOW,

                            ORWELL, SERAPIS, ZAMBESI, ZEALOUS, ZEST and Canadian SIOUX.

         15th            Detached from JW64 on arrival at Kola Inlet.

                            (Note: HM Destroyers ZAMBESI, ZEALOUS, ZEST and SIOUX (RCN) had detached

                                        earlier to evacuate Russian nationals from the island of Soroy).

         17th           Joined escort for return Convoy RA64 with same ships as JW64.

                           Rescued several aircrew after ditching.

         23rd           Detached with HMS ORWELL to search for US mercantile HENRY BACON

                           Rescued survivors from HENRY BACON which had which  had failed to keep with convoy.

                           (Note: Many of these were Norwegians rescued from Soroy..

         26th           Landed survivors in Faeroes.


March                Nominated for minelaying operation.

          8th           Converted for minelaying role at Immingham after boiler cleaning in Hull.

                           (Note: ARCTIC DESTROYERS by GC Cornell gives this data and also that a

                                       minelay T3 was carried out on 10/3/45.This is at variance with the

                                       Naval Staff History  which shows T3 was done in April.

                                       It is assumed only one lay was actually carried out and that as shown below.

                                       This second lay is also quoted in the first reference, so something is wrong.

                                       Another source suggests a minelay was carried out in East Coast Barrier.

                                       This may have been immediately after conversion to confirm serviceability.)

         12th           Joined escort for Russian Convoy JW65 with HM Cruiser DIADEM, HM Escort Carrier

                           CAMPANIA, HM Destroyers ONSLAUGHT, ORWELL, SCORPION, ZAMBESI and

                           Canadian SIOUX.

         21st           Detached from JW65 on arrival at Kola Inlet.

         23rd          Part of escort for return Convoy RA65 with HM Destroyers MYNGS, SAVAGE, SCOURGE

                           and destroyers from JW65.

         30th          Detached from RA65 with Home Fleet units leaving frigates and corvettes for escort during

                           final stage of passage.


April                  Nominated for minelaying operation in Kola Inlet.

          4th            Detached for minelaying operation and took passage to load mines at Rosyth.

          8th            Carried out minelay in NW Approaches with HM Cruiser APOLLO, HMS OBEDIENT

                           and HMS and HMS ORWELL.

                           (Operation CH - Field T3) was carried out when Russian agreement for Kola lay was

                           not obtained in time to meet planned date)

.                          (Note: See March 6th Note above.).

         13th           Loaded mines at Milford Haven for minelay off Kola Inlet when Russian approval given.

         17th           Joined HMS APOLLO with HMS OBEDIENT and HMS ORWELL as Force 5 for minelay

                           in Kola Inlet

                           (Operation TRAMMEL - See Naval Staff History).).

         21st           After delayed fuelling at Kola Inlet embarked Russian observers.

         22nd          Laid Anti-Submarine Trap minefield with Force 5 ships and returned to Kola Inlet to refuel.

         23rd           Sailed for Rosyth with Force 5.

                           Passage speed reduced to 15 knots when HMS ORWELL reported fracture in Hull structure.

         25th           Joined Hone Fleet Task Force with HMS OBEDIENT to screen HM Cruisers NORFOLK and

                           DIADEM, HM Escort Carriers SEARCHER, QUEEN and TRUMPETER with Hone Fleet

                           destroyers for snipping strike off Narvik (Operation JUDGEMENT).



           4th           Acted as Carrier Plane Guard during successful air attacks shipping west of Narvik.

           5th           Carried cut anti-submarine patrol in Skaggerak entrance prior to arrival of two cruisers,

                           HMS BIRMINGHAM and HMS DIDO on passage to Copenhagen to accept surrender of German

                           warships (Operation CLEAVER).

         24th           Deployed with OBEDIENT and OFFA for Guardship duties.

         25th           Arrived at Cuxhaven

         27th           Guardship duty at Flensburg with HMS OPPORTUNE.



           1st           Returned to Kiel with HMS OFFA

                           (Note: German Training Ship HORST WESSEL also brought as Prize.)

           9th          Returned to Chatham to land sick captain and took passage to rejoined Flotilla in Scapa Flow.


July                    Deployed with Hone Fleet.

                           (Note: Fleet duties included service in support of military operations in and visits programme

                                       to UK ports.)


P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS OPPORTUNE remained in service after VJ Day and deployed at Portsmouth for submarine training and Local Flotilla duties until 1950.  She then refitted and joined the Nore Local Flotilla. The ship was placed in Reserve at Chatham during November 1952. Transferred to Portsmouth in July 1953 she went en the Disposal List the next year. After sale to BISCO in November 1955 she arrived in tow at Milford Haven on 25th November to be broken-up by TW Ward.






by Don Kindell


These convoy lists have not been cross-checked with the text above






Date convoy sailed

Joined convoy as escort

Convoy No.

Left convoy

Date convoy arrived








PQ 018





QP 014





JW 051A





JW 051B





JW 053





RA 053





ON 178





ONS 004





HX 237





SC 129





JW 055A





RA 055A





JW 055B





JW 056B





RA 056





JW 058





RA 058





FTC 001





JW 061





RA 061





JW 064





RA 064





JW 065





RA 065








(Note on Convoys)


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