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

HMS URCHIN (R 99) -  U-class Destroyer
including Convoy Escort Movements

HMS Ulster, sister-ship (Navy Photos/George Knight , click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

U-Class Fleet Destroyer ordered from Vickers-Armstrong, Barrow on 12th June 1941 under the 1941 War Emergency Programme. The ship was laid down on 28th March 1942 as Yard Number 831and launched on 8th March 1943 as the 5th RN ship to carry the name, introduced in 1797. It was previously used for a submarine transferred to the Polish Navy in 1941 and renamed SOKOL. Build completion date for this destroyer was 24th September 1943. After a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in March 1942 the ship had been adopted by the civil community of Ilford, Essex, now in the Greater London Borough of Redbridge.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s

EGYPT 1801 - ANZIO  1944 - MEDITERRANEAN 1944 - NORMANDY   1944 - ADRIATIC 1944 - OKINAWA  1945

H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field barry wavy of eight White and Blue

a  hedgehog Proper.


M o t t o

Armatus de defendum :   'Armed to defend'.



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)



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September            Contractors trials and commissioning for service with 25th Destroyer Flotilla, Home Fleet.

            24th           Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials.


October                On completion of trials and storing took passage to Scapa Flow to work-up with ships of

                              Home Fleet.

                              Nominated for service in Mediterranean.

                              Carried out work-up based at Scapa Flow.


November            Prepared for foreign service and took passage to join Fleet in Mediterranean.


December             Joined Mediterranean Fleet

                              Nominated for support of planned allied landings at Anzio (Operation SHINGLE)

            25th           Deployed in Malta.


1 9 4 4


January                  Passage to Naples to joined Northern Attack Force for support of landing of 1st British Infantry

                               Division at Anzio.

            20th            Sailed from Naples with Assault Force.

            21st            Deployed for support during landings.

                               (For details of operations at Anzio see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by Corelli

                               Barnett and Naval Staff History).

            25th            Deployed with HM Destroyers JERVIS, JANUS, LAFOREY, LOYAL, INGLEFIELD,

                               TENACIOUS and KEMPENFELT, HM Escort Destroyers BEAUFORT, BRECON,

                               TETCOTT and WILTON as screen for HM Cruisers ORION, SPARTAN, HM Anti-Aircraft

                               Ship ULSTER QUEEN


February                Support of military operations, convoy escort and patrol off west, coast of Italy.



            10th            Despatched to join HM Destroyers BRECON, EXMOOR, BLENCATHRA and BLANKNEY in

                               search for U450 SE of Anzio.

                               After concentrated depth charge attacks the submarine was forced to the surface and then


                               51 survivors were rescued.

                               (Note: US destroyer USS MADISON also took pert,

                                           Sinking of U45O credited to the four HUNT Class Destroyers  and USS MADISON..

                                       See HITLER'S U-BOAT WAR by C Blair and U-BOATS DESTROYED By P Kemp)


April                      Support of military operations and patrol duty off west coast of Italy. in continuation.



May                       Nominated for service in Force G during allied invasion of Normandy with ships of Flotilla

                               (Operation NEPTUNE).

                               Passage to UK to rejoin Home Fleet at Scapa Flow.

            18th            Carried cut bombardment exercises before joining Force G in Eastern Task Force.

                               (Note: Other destroyers in Force G destroyers were:

                                           HM Destroyers GRENVILLE, URSA, ULSTER, UNDAUNTED, JERVIS,

                                           UNDINE. HM Escort Destroyers PYTCHLEY, CATTISTOCK, COTTESMORE

                                           and Polish ORP KRAKOWIAK.

            30th            Arrived at Greenock for Operation NEPTUNE.

                               (For details of activities prior to and during Normandy landings see LANDINGS IN

                               NORMANDY, June 1944 (HMSO) and OPERATION NEPTUNE by K Edwards).



             3rd             Part of escort for Convoy G14 to Solent with HM Destroyer ULSTER.

                               (Note: Convoy comprised HM Cruisers BELFAST and DIADEM of Bombarding Force E

                                           which was to provide support for landings on JUNO Beachhead).

             4th            Operation NEPTUNE postponed for 24 hours.

             5th            Passage from Solent with Convoy G14 .

              6th            On arrival joined ships of Force G off GOLD Beachhead.

             9th             Deployed with Eastern Task Force for patrol and support duty.

             25th           On release from NEPTUNE nominated for return to Mediterranean.


July                      Prepared for foreign service.

                             Took passage to Mediterranean .

                             Deployed for support of military operations.


August                 Nominated for support of military operations in Adriatic.

                              Passage to Adriatic.

                              (For details of Adriatic operations see THE LAST DESTROYER by K. Mason,

                               ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by Corelli Barnett and WAR IN THE

                               MEDITERRANEAN (HMSO).



             4th            Deployed with HM Destroyers UNDINE, LOYAL and KIMBERLEY, HM River

                              Gunboats APHIS and SCARAB for bombardment of Rimini Area.

                              Nominated for duty in Eastern Fleet after return to UK for refit and to prepare

                              for further foreign service.

                              Passage to UK.


October                Taken in hand for refit at Leith commercial shipyard

to                          Prepared for service with Eastern Fleet.

November             (Note: Re-assigned for service in British Pacific Fleet on formation with Flotilla.)


December             On completion of post refit trials took passage to Trincomalee.


1 9 4 5


January                 Arrived at Trincomalee after. delay for repair at Aden on passage.

                               Joined Flotilla in British Pacific Fleet

                               Nominated for detached service  with ships of Eastern Fleet for escort of Replenishment

                               Group (Force 69) during planned air attacks on oil installations at Palembang by aircraft carriers

                               of British Pacific Fleet during passage to Sydney for service with US Navy.

                               (Operation MERIDIAN),

            13th            Took part in Rehearsal for MERIDIAN.

            15th            Deployed with RFA ECHODALE, RFA WAVE KING and RFA EMPIRE SALVAGE during

                               replenishment of BPF ships (Force 63) prior to first air operations (MERIDIAN ONE)

            16th            On completion remained as escort for Force 69 with HM Cruiser CEYLON.

                               (Note: RFA Tanker ARNDALE joined in replenishment area after passage from Fremantle).

            26th            Replenishment Group met ships of Force 63 for second refuelling period prior to continuing

                               air attacks (MERIDIAN TWO).

                               (For details of MERIDIAN see THE FORGOTTEN FLEET by J Winton, OPERATION

                               PACIFIC by E Gray and WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO).)

            27th            Returned to Trincomalee as escort for Force 69.



                               Deployed at Trincomalee to await arrival of HM Aircraft Carrier FORMIDABLE on passage

                               from UK to join BPF.

            22nd           Joined HMS FORMIDABLE as escort with HM Destroyer NAPIER (RAN) for passage from

                               Colombo to Sydney with call at Fremantle.


            10th             Arrived at Sydney with HMS FORMIDABLE and prepared for service with BPF in joint

                                operations with US Navy in SW Pacific.

                                (Note: Pennant Number for visual signalling changed to D28 to conform with US Navy

                                             identification for destroyers.

                                Carried out exercises in Australian waters including use of new signalling procedures.

            24th             Sailed from Sydney as escort for HMS FORMIDABLE with HM Destroyer URSA during

                                passage to Manus.

            30th             Arrived at Manus, Admiralty Islands.

                                (Note: Manus was Forward Base for BPF)..

             7th             On arrival at Manus future deployment undecided by internal US wrangling.

                               See above references.

                               Under repair in dry-dock

                                (Note: Allocated for service with 5th US Fleet as part of Task Force 57 which   comprised

                                           HM Battleships KING GEORGE V, HOWE, HM Aircraft Carriers INDOMITABLE,

                                           VICTORIOUS, ILLUSTRIOUS and INDEFATIGABLE, HM Cruisers SWIFTSURE,

                                            GAMBIA (RNZN), BLACK PRINCE, ARGONAUT, EURYALUS, HM Destroyers

                                            GRENVILLE, ULSTER, URANIA, UNDAUNTED, UNDINE, URSA,

                                            QUICKMATCH, QUIBERON, QUEENBOROUGH, KEMPENFELT, WHIRLWIND

                                            and WAGER.


April                        Sailed from Manus after docking to join ships of BPF deployed as Task Force 57 in attacks on

                                 Sakishima Gunto Island  Group with US Navy Task Groups.

                                 (Operation ICEBERG ONE See THE FORGOTTEN FLEET by J Winton, OPERATION

                                 PACIFIC by E Gray and WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO)

              8th              Arrived in Area COOTIE with HM Cruiser UGANDA (RCN) and HM Destroyer URSA.

                                 Deployed with escort for the British Fleet Train (Task Force 112) to await return of BPF

                                 to replenishment area.  

              9th              Joined BPF destroyer screen on arrival for replenishment.

            11th              Deployed with TF57 for attacks on Formosa.

            to                  (Operation ICEBERG OOLONG) - Special operation to neutralise airfields.

            13th               See above references).

            16th              Deployed with TF57 In continuation of attacks on Sakishima Gunto after refuelling.

             to                 (Note: HM Aircraft Carrier ILLUSTRIOUS had joined TF57).

            21st                           (Operation ICEBERG ONE).

            23rd              At Leyte with TF57 for repair and maintenance.



             1st               Part of screen for ships of TF57 to operational area for continuation of attacks

                                 on Sakishima Gunto (Operation ICEBERG TWO).

                                 (Note: Force 57 comprised:

                                            HM Battleships KING GEORGE V V and HOWE, HM Aircraft Carriers

                                            INDOMITABLE, INDEFATIGABLE, FORMIDABLE, VICTORIOUS, HM Cruisers

                                            SWIFTSURE, UGANDA (RCN), GAMBIA (RNZN), EURYALUS. BLACK PRINCE

                                            with HM Destroyers GRENVILLE, URSA, UNDINE, UNDAUNTED, URANIA,

                                            QUILLIAM, QUIBERON, QUALITY, QUICKMATCH, QUEENBOROUGH,

                                            KEMPENFELT, WHIRLWIND, WESSEX and URCHIN.

             4th              After arrival in area detached with ships of 25th Destroyer Flotilla to screen HMS KING


                                 HMNZS GAMBIA and HMCS UGANDA during bombardment of airfields on Miyako


                                 (Note: During this bombardment the aircraft carriers of TF57 came under sustained bombing

                                            including KAMIKAZE aircraft.

                                             Operation curtailed and Force returned to rejoin aircraft carriers).

                                             See above references for details of KAMIKAZE attacks on carriers).

             5th               Deployment with screen for Task Force in continuation.

             to                 For details Including collision between HMS INDOMITABLE and HMS QUILLIAM see

            25th              above  references and Naval Staff History).

            26th              Passage to Sydney with BPF ships via Manus.

                                 (Note: HMS KING GEORGE V with HM Destroyers TROUBRIDGE, TENACIOUS and

                                            TERMAGANT detached for passage to Guam).



              9th              Arrived at Sydney for rest and recuperation period.

                                 (Note: Ships of BPF were transferred to US 3rd Fleet during this period after a reorganisation

                                            of US Navy command structure in Pacific. They were redesigned as Task Force 37).

             28th             Sailed with Task Force 37 from Sydney for Manus.

                                 (Note: Task Force 37 comprised: -

                                            HM Battleship KING GEORGE V, HM Aircraft Carriers FORMIDABLE,

                                            VICTORIOUS IMPLACABLE, HM Cruisers NEWFOUNDLAND, ACHILLES

                                            (RNZN), UGANDA (RCN). EURYALUS, GAMBIA (RNZN) and BLACK PRINCE

                                            with HM Destroyers QUIBERON, QUADRANT, QUALITY, QUICKMATCH,

                                            TROUBRIDGE, TENACIOUS, TERMAGANT, TEAZER, TERPSICHORE,

                                            GRENVILLE, UNDAUNTED, URANIA, URCHIN, UNDINE and ULYSSES.

                                             HM Aircraft Carrier INDEFATIGABLE was delayed by defects.


               4th          Arrived at Manus with BPF.

               6th          Sailed for operational area off Japan with TF37.

                              (Note: HMS IMPLACABLE detached because of machinery defect and joined later).

              17th         Part of Task Group 37.1.2 as escort for TF37 carriers during combined attacks on targets in

                              Tokyo and Yokohama area (Operation OLYMPIC - Initial Phase).

              18th         Deployment with screen for major ships of Task Force 37 in continuation off Japan.

              to             (Note: HMS INDEFATIGABLE joined TF37 in refuelling area with HM Destroyers

              28th                    WAKEFUL, WRANGLER and BARFLEUR on 20th July)

                                         See above references.).



              1st           Deployment off Japan with 3rd US Fleet In continuation for series of joint RN/USN air

                              attacks and bombardment of targets in North Honshu and Hokkaido.

           12th            Withdrawn from forward area with BPF ships because of lack of fuel from tankers of British

                              Fleet Train. See above references.

                              (Note: Some ships of Task Force 37 were retained as a Token Force and deployed as Task

                                          Group 38.5. See references.)

                              Deployed with HMS GRENVILLE as escort for HMS FORMIDABLE during return passage to

                              Sydney with call at Manus.

           28th            Arrived at Sydney and reverted to RN control.


P o s t  W a r   No t e s


HMS URCHIN was deployed the Flotilla in the far East as part of the British Pacific Fleet based at Hong Kong until released from foreign service in 1946. On arrival in UK the ship Paid-off at Harwich and was initially laid-up in Reserve there  until 1952 when transferred to Chatham. She was selected for conversion to an Anti-Submarine Frigate and towed to the Clyde for this work in a commercial shipyard. On completion in June 1954 the ship re-commissioned for service in the 3rd Training Squadron in which she served for two years before returning to Reserve. After a refit at Devonport in 1959 this ship was converted for use as a sea training ship for  cadets at Dartmouth and re-commissioned in August that year to serve in the Dartmouth Training Squadron. Paid-off in 1964 she was placed on the Disposal List. Before sale for breaking-up her stern structure was removed and fitted in sister ship HMS ULSTER during 1966.. The hulk was later towed to Troon where she arrived in August 1967 for demolition.






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








KMF 027








(Note on Convoys)


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revised 11/8/11
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