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

HMS VIRAGO (R 75) -  V-class Destroyer
including Convoy Escort Movements

HMS Verulam, sister-ship (Navy Photos, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

V (VALENTINE)-Class Fleet destroyer of 8th Emergency Flotilla ordered on 1st September 1941 from Swan Hunter at Wallsend, Newcastle. The ship was laid down on 16th February 1942 and launched on 4th February 1943 as the 4th RN warship to carry the name, previously used by a destroyer built in 1895. She was completed on 5th November 1943. After a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in December 1941 this ship had been adopted by the civil community of Newcastle under Lyme.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


ARCTIC 1943-44 - NORTH CAPE 1943 - NORMANDY 1944 - MALAYA 1945 - BURMA  1945


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field Black, a demi-wild and dishevelled woman Proper.



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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November           Contractors trials and commissioned for service in 26th Destroyer Flotilla.

            5th            Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials.

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

                             Home Fleet.


December            Worked up for service and joined 26th Destroyer Flotilla, Home Fleet.

           15th           Joined escort of Russian Convoy JW55A with H M Destroyers ASHANTI, MILNE, METEOR,

                             MATCHLESS, OPPORTUNE and ATHABASKAN (RCN).

           21st           Detached to join escort for return convoy RA55 with same ships.

           23rd           Joined escort for returning Convoy RA55.

           25th           Despatched by CinC Home Fleet to reinforce escort for inward Russian Convoy JW55B with HM

                             Destroyers MATCHLESS, MUSKETEER and OPPORTUNE.

                              (Note: Distant Covering Force for JW55 included HM Battleship DUKE of YORK, and H M

                                         Cruiser JAMAICA with further cover by HM Cruisers BELFAST, NORFOLK and

                                         SHEFFIELD view of threat of attack by German battleship SCHARNHORST known

                                         to be deployed for this purpose.)

                              Joined JW55 escort.

           26th           Detached with other Fleet destroyers and joined major Home Fleet units to carry out attacks on


                              After a series of torpedo attacks by HM Destroyers SAVAGE, SCORPION, SAUMAREZ and

                              Norwegian destroyer STORD carried out further further torpedo attacks at close range with HM

                              Destroyers MUSKETEER, OPPORTUNE and MATCHLESS.

                              (Note: The destroyer torpedo attacks and the continuing accurate gunfire by HM Battleship

                                          DUKE OF YORK resulted in the destruction of the German warship.

                                          There were only 36 survivors from a crew of 1,986.

                                           For details see THE KOLA RUN by D MacIntyre and I Campbell and Naval Staff



1 9 4 4



             3rd           Passage to Scapa Flow with Home Fleet ships.

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

                              INCONSTANT, OBDURATE, SAVAGE, VENUS, VIGILANT and Norwegian destroyer


            29th           Reinforced escort of following Convoy JW56B.



             1st            Detached on arrival at Kola Inlet and returned independently to Scapa Flow.

            12th           Deployed with Home Fleet in NW Approaches.


March                   Home Fleet Flotilla deployment in continuation.



             3rd            Part of destroyer screen for HM Battleship ANSON, HM Aircraft Carriers VICTORIOUS,

                              FURIOUS, HM Escort Carriers SEARCHER, EMPEROR, PURSUER, FENCER, HM Cruisers

                              ROYALIST, BELFAST, SHEFFIELD, JAMAICA with destroyers of Home Fleet during

                              series of air attacks on the German battleship TIRPITZ in Altenf jord.

                              (Note: This operation also cover transit of Russian Convoys JW58 and returning RA58.)

            21st           Independent passage to Kola Inlet to collect merchant ships and personnel waiting in North

                             Russia from earlier Russian convoys.

                             (For details see CONVOYS TO RUSSIA by RA Ruegg and RUSSIAN CONVOYS by

                             R Woodman.).

            28th          Embarked 17 survivors and joined escort for returning Convoy RA59 with HM Cruiser

                             DIADEM, HM Escort Carrier FENCER and HM Destroyers BOADICEA, ULYSSES,

                             WHITEHALL, VERULAM and WALKER.



              3rd          On arrival detached for duty with Force S in Channel during Normandy landings.

                             Nominated for naval gunfire support during assault (Operation NEPTUNE).

                             Took passage to Channel to take part in final rehearsal for landings. (Exercise FABIUS).

              4th          Took part in assault landing exercise west of Littlehampton by Force S.

             18th         Took part in defence exercise with Forces S, J and G off Brighton.

                             (Note: Simulated attacks were carried out by E-Boats, aircraft and submersibles as well

                                         as incursions by minelayers (Exercise CANTAB).

                             On completion returned to Portsmouth to ensure full availability for NEPTUNE.

                             (LANDINGS IN NORMANDY, June 1944 (HMSO)).



              5th          Escorted Convoy S70W HQ Ship LARGS, three Landing Ships (Infantry), one Landing Craft

                             (Support), an RAF High Speed Launch and three US Navy Cutters, with HM Destroyers

                             VERULAM and KELVIN, HM Escort Destroyer EGLINTON and five Motor Torpedo Boats.

              6th          Arrived off SWORD beach head at 0400.

                             Deployed with Bombarding Force D during assault phase.

                             Bombarded Beach Defences at Lion-sur-Mer with HM Destroyers VERULAM and SERAPIS

                             in accordance with Pre-Arranged Fire Plan.

                             (See above reference and OPERATION NEPTUNE by K Edwards).

              8th          Deployed on patrol and escort duty during Post Assault Phase as required by the Eastern Task

                              Force Commander.

            27th          Remained in Channel on completion of NEPTUNE.


July                       Patrol and escort duty in Eastern Bridgehead area continued.

                              On release from detached service took passage to Scapa Flow to Home Fleet duties with Flotilla.



              8th           Took part in rehearsal for Operation OFFSPRING.

            10th           Escorted HM Aircraft Carriers INDEFATIGABLE, TRUMPETER and NABOB with HM

                              Cruisers KENT, HM Cruiser DEVONSHIRE and Home Fleet destroyers for air minelaying in

                              areas JOAN and DERBY between Lepsoy and Hamaramsa Island..

                              (Note: Airfield at Gossen and  coastal shipping were also attacked by FAA aircraft .

                                          Operation OFFSPRING -For details see Naval Staff History (Mining).



            17th           Escorted HM Battleship RODNEY, HM Cruiser DIADEM, HM Escort Carriers CAMPANIA

                              and  STRIKER with HM Cruiser CUMBERLAND and Home Fleet destroyers to provide cover

                              for the transit of Russian Convoy JW60 and return Convoy RA60.

                              (See CONVOYS TO RUSSIA for details).



              3rd           Detached from RA60 and returned to Scapa Flow for Flotilla duties.


November             Nominated for duty in Eastern Fleet with 26th Flotilla and prepared for foreign service at



December             Under refit by HM Dockyard, Chatham.

                               Took passage to Ceylon.


1 9 4 5


January                 Passage via Mediterranean.

                               Worked up with Flotilla for operations in Indian Ocean and Burma coast.

                               For details of operations in Indian Ocean and off Burma in support of military see

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



            24th            Escorted HM Escort Carriers EMPRESS and AMEER with HM Cruiser KENYA,

                                HM Destroyers VIGILANT, VOLAGE and Eastern Fleet frigates for air photo-reconnaissance

                                of Malacca Straits areas (Operation STACEY).

                                Bombarded targets in Andamans on outward and return passages.


March                     Deployed on patrol in Indian Ocean off Sumatra and Straits of Malacca.

            26th             In successful action against Japanese convoy sinking several ships.



             8th              Escorted HM Battleship QUEEN ELIZABETH, French battleship RICHELIEU, HM Escort

                                Carriers EMPEROR, KHEDIVE, HM Cruisers CUMBERLAND and LONDON with HM

                                 Destroyers SAUMAREZ, VIGILANT, VERULAM and HMS VENUS of 26th Flotilla for

                                 bombardment of shore targets in Sumatra and aircraft operations in Indian Ocean and Malacca


            11th              Bombarded Sabang with Fleet units.

            28th              Sailed to join Fleet units to provide cover for planned landings in Burma.



             1st               Covered landings at Rangoon with Eastern Fleet (Operation DRACULA).

                                 (See OPERATION PACIFIC and above reference.).

             5th               Escorted HM Cruisers PHOEBE and ROYALIST, HM Escort Carriers HUNTER, STALKER,

                                 EMPEROR and KHEDIVE deployed as 21st Aircraft Carrier Squadron during air attacks on

                                 bases along Burmese coast with HMS SAUMAREZ, VENUS and VIGILANT.

                                 (Operation SUNFISH).

            10th              Deployed with HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, French battleship RICHELIEU, Dutch cruiser

                                 VAN TROMP, HMS CUMBERLAND, 21st Aircraft Carrier Squadron (see above) destroyers

                                 of 26th Flotilla to intercept Japanese evacuation convoys from Burma. (Operation MITRE).

            14th              Detached with 21st Aircraft Carrier Squadron and destroyers of 26th Flotilla as Force 61 to

                                 carry out offensive air and surface sweep in 6 Degree Channel north of Sumatra.

            15th              After aircraft from HM Escort Carrier SHAH sighted the Japanese cruiser HAGURO and

                                 destroyer KAMIKAZE, further aircraft sorties were unable to be carried out because of catapult

                                 defect in HMS SHAH.

                                 Deployed with Flotilla to intercept enemy warships.

            16th              Carried out night search and located enemy ships using radar.

                                 Took part in classic night torpedo attack resulting in sinking of HAGURO.

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


 June                        Deployed with Eastern Fleet on interception patrols and offensive sweeps in the Indian Ocean.


July                          Prepared for planned Malayan coast landings (Operation ZIPPER)

                                 (Note: This operation was subject to delay until it had been approved by US government and

                                              also by the implementation of the PYTHON Release Scheme to return long serving

                                              personnel from SEAC.)


August                     Deployed with Eastern Fleet to cover Malayan coast landings (Operation ZIPPER).

            27th               Deployed with Eastern Fleet to cover landing operations in Malaya.



September                Operation ZIPPER authorised as a re-occupation move after VJ Day.

             9th                Part of covering force for landings at Sepang near Port Dickson and Morib, south of Port

                                   Swettenham with HM Battleship NELSON, French battleship RICHELIEU, HM Cruisers

                                   NIGERIA, CEYLON, CLEOPATRA and ships of 21st Aircraft Carrier Squadron

                                   (Operation ZIPPER).


P o s t   W a r   N o t e s .


HMS VIRAGO was retained in the Far East based at Hong Kong with the British Pacific Fleet after VJ Day and returned to Chatham on 11th December 1945. She re-commissioned for service with the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla, Mediterranean Fleet in 1946. After Fleet service with the Flotilla she returned to UK in 1949 and reduced to Reserve status at Chatham in 1949. This ship was selected to be converted into a Type 15 Anti-submarine Frigate and on completion in 1953 spent two years in the 6th Frigate Squadron, Home Fleet before again returning to Reserve at Chatham. In 1962 she again briefly resumed operational service in the 17th Frigate Squadron. This ended in 1963 and she paid off into Reserve at Devonport. This ship was placed on the Disposal List the next year and sold to BISCO for demolition by Shipbreaking Industries. She arrived in tow at Faslane to be broken up on 4th 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








JW 055A





RA 055A





JW 055B





JW 056A





JW 056B





RA 059





JW 060





RA 060








(Note on Convoys)


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revised 11/8/11
further editing and formatting is required