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

HMS VIGILANT (R 93) -  V-class Destroyer including Convoy Escort Movements 

HMS Volage, sister-ship (Navy Photos/George Knight, click to enlarge)

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V-Class destroyer ordered from Swan Hunter at Wallsend with the 8th Emergency Flotilla on 1st September 1941. She was laid down on 31st January 1942 and launched on 22nd December 1942 as the 19th RN warship to carry this name, introduced for a Prize taken in 1743 and previously used for a WW2 hired trawler until 1943. She had been adopted by the civil community of Launceston in Cornwall after a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in March 1942. The build was completed on 10th September 1943 and included protection for Arctic service.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


USHANT 1778 - GRENADA 1779 - ARCTIC  1943-44  - NORMANDY 1944 - MALAYA 1945 - BURMA 1945.


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field Blue, a dragon gardant Gold.



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            Contractor's sea trials and commissioning for serve in 26th Destroyer Flotilla, Home Fleet.

              10th        Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials.

                             Passage to Scapa Flow on completion of trials and storing.


October                Worked-up for service with ships of Home Fleet at Scapa Flow.

                             Escorted ANSON with HAIDA (RCN), IROQUOIS (RCN), HARDY and JANUS for

                             passage to Spitsbergen with relief garrison (Operation GEARBOX Series).


November            On completion of work-up deployed with Flotilla in NW Approaches for Fleet screening

                             and interception patrol duties.

              23rd        Joined Ocean Escort for Russian Convoy JW 54B with HM Destroyers HARDY, SAVAGE,

                             SAUMAREZ, SCORPION, SCOURGE, VENUS and Norwegian STORD.

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

                             ARCTIC CONVOYS by R Woodhead, CONVOY ! by P Kemp and THE RUSSIAN

                             CONVOYS by B. Schoefield).



               3rd         Detached from JW54B after unscathed passage.

                             Made independent passage to Scapa Flow with other destroyers of escort.

                             On arrival resumed Home Fleet duties with Flotilla.


1 9 4 4


January                 Home Fleet Flotilla duties in NW Approaches in continuation.

              21st         Joined escort for Russian Convoy JW56A at Akureyi with HM Destroyers OBDURATE,

                              HARDY, OFFA, INCONSTANT, SAVAGE, VENUS, VIRAGO and Norwegian destroyer


              28th         On arrival at Kola Inlet despatched to join escort for following Convoy JW56B.

                              (Note: HMS OBDURATE was hit by torpedo during defence of JW56A and taken in hand

                                          for temporary repair in Murmansk).

              29th         Reinforced escort for JW56B.



                3rd         Joined escort for returning Convoy RA56 at Kola Inlet with Home Fleet ships.

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

              22nd        Joined Russian Convoy JW57 with HM Cruiser BLACK PRINCE, HM Destroyers


                              ORIBI, SAVAGE, SERAPIS, SWIFT and VERULAM to supplement Close Escort during

                              passage to Kola Inlet.

                              (Note: During U-Boat attacks on 25th February HMS MAHRATTA was hit by torpedo

                                          from U956 and sank immediately with only two survivors).

              28th         Detached from JW58



                2nd        Part of destroyer escort for return Convoy RA58 with HM Destroyer INCONSTANT and

                              destroyers from JW58 (except HMS MAHRATTA).

                8th         Detached from RA58 with HM Destroyers MATCHLESS, MILNE, OFFA, ONSLAUGHT,

                              ORIBI, SAVAGE and SERAPIS before arrival of convoy at Loch Ewe.

                              Resumed Home Fleet duties with Flotilla.



                3rd         Part of screen for HM Battleship ANSON, HM Aircraft Carrier VICTORIOUS HM Escort

                              Aircraft Carriers SEARCHER, EMPEROR. PURSUER , FENCER, HM Cruisers

                              ROYALIST, BELFAST, SHEFFIELD and JAMAICA with HM Destroyers MILNE, URSA,


                              WAKEFUL, ALGONQUIN (RCN), SIOUX (RCN) and Polish destroyer PIORUN during air

                              attacks on German battleship TIRPITZ in Altenfjord.

                              (Operation TUNGSTEN - See CONVOY 1 for details).

                              Nominated for duty in Support Force J during Normandy landings with HMCS SIOUX, HMCS

                              ALGONQUIN, HMS KEMPENFELT and HMS VENUS of 27th Destroyer Flotilla.

                              (Operation NEPTUNE - See OPERATION NEPTUNE by K Edwards and NORMANDY

                              LANDINGS June 1944 (HMSO) for details).


May                       Passage to Channel for preparatory exercises.

                               Joined HM Destroyers FAULKNOR, FURY, BLEASDALE, GLAISDALE, STEVENSTONE

                              and Free French Escort Destroyer FS LA COMBATTANTE with ships of Flotilla in Force J.

                2nd        Took part in final rehearsal for Forces S, G and J (Exercise FAB1US).

                3rd         Berthing, and loading and sailing phases exercised.

                4th         Took part in Assault landing at Bracklesham Bay, West Sussex.

              18th         Carried out Defence Exercise in Channel off Brighton

.                             On completion took passage to Solent for final preparations.

                              (Note: Bombardment target allocated in Pre-Arranged Fire Plan - Langrune-sur-Mer with HM

                                          Destroyer KEMPENFELT.



                3rd         Joined HMCS SIOUX as escort for Convoy J2

                              (Note: This comprised Fleet minesweepers and Danlayers of 7th Minesweeping Flotilla,

                                          four Motor Launches and minesweepers of 159th BYMS Flotilla.

                4th         Convoy sailing delayed by 24 hours.

                5th         Escorted Convoy through swept channel.

                6th         Detached from Convoy J2 and reversed course to Join Convoy J4

                              On arrival at beach head took up bombardment station.

                              Provided naval gunfire support for JUNO Beaches.

                              Deployed in Task Force area for patrol, convoy defence and support as required by Assault

                              Force Commander.

              27th         Remained in Channel area on completion of NEPTUNE.


July                       On release from Channel deployment rejoined Flotilla in Home Fleet


August                 Home Fleet Flotilla duties in continuation.

              10th         Escorted HM Aircraft Carrier INDOMITABLE, HM Escort Aircraft Carriers TRUMPETER

                              and NABOB with HM Cruisers KENT, DEVONSHIRE, HM Destroyers MYNGS, VIRAGO,

                              VERULAM, VOLAGE, SCOURGE ALGONQUIN  (RCN) and SIOUX (RCN) for air minelay

                              air attacks on coastal shipping and an airfield at Gossen.

                              (Operation OFFSPRING - For details of all minelaying operations see Naval Staff History




              12th         Escorted HM Aircraft Carrier FURIOUS and HMS TRUMPETER with HMS DEVONSHIRE

                              HM Destroyers MYNGS, MARNE, MUSKETEER, ALGONQUIN (RCN), SIOUX (RCN) and

                              SCOURGE during shipping strikes and air minelay south of Vosko Island.

                              (Operation BEGONIA).


October                 Home Fleet duties with Flotilla in continuation.




December             Escorted HM Aircraft Carriers IMPLACABLE, TRUMPETER and PREMIER with HM

                              Cruiser DIADEM, HM Destroyers ZEALOUS, ZAMBESI, SCOURGE. SERAPIS,

                              ALGONQUIN  (RCN) and Norwegian destroyer STORD during attacks on shipping and an

                              air minelay in Karm Sound (Operation URBANE).

                              On completion took passage for refit.

                              Taken in hand for refit by HM Dockyard Chatham to prepare for service with Flotilla in

                              Eastern Fleet.;

1 9 4 5


January                 On completion of refit took passage with Flotilla to Join Fleet at Trincomalee.

               15th       Deployed as escort for HM Aircraft Carrier FORMIDABLE with HMS SAUMAREZ.


February                Joined Eastern Fleet.

                              (For details of naval activities In Indian Ocean see THE FORGOTTEN FLEET by J.

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

               22nd       Part of screen for HM Cruiser KENYA, HM Escort Carriers EMPRESS and EMIR with HM

                              Destroyers VIRAGO, VOLAGE and HM Frigates SPEY, SWALE and PLYM as Force 62

                              during air attacks on shipping in the Andaman Sea and photo-reconnaissance of Kra Peninsula

                              and the Malayan coast (Operation STACEY).

                              Returned to Trincomalee with defects.

               23rd        Rejoined Task Force 62

               26th        Deployed with screen during STACEY.


March                   Eastern Fleet screening and patrol in continuation.

               25th        Deployed with HM Destroyers SAUMAREZ, VOLAGE and VIRAGO as Force 70.

                              Sailed with Force 70 ships for anti-shipping strike in Andaman Sea.

                              (Operation ON BOARD).

               26th        In action against convoy of four snipe and escort of 2 submarine chasers.

                              After very heavy expenditure of ammunition and with assistance from Liberator aircraft of 222

                              Group RAF, all four ships and both escorts were sunk.

                              Some Japanese and two RAF aircrew were rescued.

                              (For details see THE FORGOTTEN FLEET)



               10th        Part of screen HM Battleship QUEEN ELIZABETH, French battleship RICHLIEU, HM

                              Cruisers CUMBERLAND and LONDON with HM Destroyers SAUMAREZ, VERULAM,

                              VIRAGO and VENUS during bombardment of Sabang, Sumatra (Operation SUNFISH).

               11th        Bombarded Oleelhoe with HMS SAUMAREZ and HMS VERULAM.

               23rd        Sailed from Trincomalee for Akyab as part of screen for 21st Aircraft Carrier Squadron to

                              cover  assault convoys during passage for Rangoon landings.

                              (Note: Squadron comprised HM Cruisers PHOEBE, ROYALIST, HM Escort Carriers HUNTER

                                         STALKER, EMPEROR and KHEDIVE screened by HM Destroyers SAUMAREZ,

                                         VENUS, VIRAGO and VIGILANT).

               30th        Part of screen to Carrier Squadron ships during cover for convoys.

                              (Operation DRACULA - See above references.).

                              (Note: In all six convoys were covered).



                 1st        Rangoon landing operations began with cover by Eastern Fleet ships.

                 4th        Detached from 21st Carrier Squadron.

                 6th        Joined Task Force 63 as escort for HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH and French RICHELIEU, HM

                              Escort Carriers SHAH and EMPRESS, HM Cruisers CUMBERLAND, SUFFOLK, CEYLON

                              and Dutch VAN TROMP for bombardment of Andamans (Operation BISHOP).

                 9th        Joined Task Force 61 (HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, FS RICHELIEU, HMS CUMBERLAND,

                              Dutch VAN TROMP and 21st Carrier Squadron) with HM Destroyers SAUMAREZ,

                              VERULAM, NUBIAN and TARTAR.

                              Deployed to intercept Japanese ships sighted in entrance to Malacca Straits.

                              (Operation DUKEDOM).

               14th        Detached with HM Destroyers SAUMAREZ, VERULAM, VENUS and VIRAGO to search for

                              enemy craft north of Sumatra (Operation MITRE).

                15th       Engaged Japanese cruiser HAGURO and destroyer KAMIKAZE.

                              (Note: During a brilliant tactical night torpedo attack HAGURO sunk in Malacca Straits SW of

                                          Penang. (For full details see SINK THE HAGURO by John Winton).


June                      Eastern Fleet escort and Indian Ocean patrol duties in continuation.

                              Preparatory exercises for support of planned allied landings in Malaya (Operation ZIPPER).

                              (Note: This planned operation  was subject to delays due to lack of approval by US

                                          government and implementation of the PYTHON release scheme for long serving

                                          personnel in SEAC. See above references and Final Report of Supreme Commander

                                          SEAC (HMSO).



                 5th       Deployed with HM Cruiser NIGERIA, HM Destroyers ROEBUCK and ESKIMO to provide

                              cover against Japanese surface and air attacks during minesweeping operations off coast of

                              Burma prior to landings in Malaya.


August                 Deployed with screen for Eastern Fleet major units to cover landings near Singapore.

                              (Note: This Operation was postponed at the insistence of the did not take place until

                                          after VJ Day .For details see above references, BRITISH INVASION FLEETS

                                          by J de Winser and ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY).


P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS VIGILANT returned to UK after the surrender at Singapore and was retained in service. She returned to Harwich in January 1946 prior to being  deployed in the Londonderry Flotilla for anti-submarine training. During September that year she was transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet in Malta. On return to UK in 1947 the ship was Paid-off and reduced to Reserve status at Portsmouth. This ship was converted into a Type 15 Frigate by J Thornycroft at Woolston between 1951 and 1952. On completion in September 1953 she joined the 6th Frigate Squadron Home Fleet. She collided with HM Frigate RELENTLESS in the Clyde area on 27th October 1954 and was seriously damaged. HMS VIGILANT was selected for use as a cadet training ship in the Dartmouth Training Squadron after repair and was refitted for this duty. The alterations included an enclosed bridge and a deckhouse for classroom use. She was deployed with this Squadron until 1963 when she was reduced to Reserve at Devonport. Placed on the Disposal List in 1965 the ship was sold to BISCO for breaking-up at Faslane by Shipbreaking Industries. The ship arrived at the breakers yard in tow on  6th June 1965.






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








DT 031





JW 054B





JW 056A





JW 056B





RA 056





JW 057





RA 057








(Note on Convoys)


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