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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2001

HMS WAKEFUL (ii) (R 59) -  W-class Destroyer including note on Convoy Escort Movements

HMS Wakeful (Navy Photos/George Knight, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

W-Class Destroyer ordered from Fairfield of Govan, Glasgow on 3rd December 1941 with the 9th Emergency Flotilla. The ship was laid down on 3rd June 1942 and intended to be named HMS ZEBRA. However this name was changed as part of a rationalisation  of  names of both W and Z-Classes. Launched on 30the June 1943 as  HMS WAKEFUL she was the 2nd RN ship to carry the name. The first ship to bear the name had been lost after being torpedoed by a E-Boat during evacuation of allied troops from Dunkirk with heavy loss of life of 29th May 1940. This destroyer was fitted for Arctic service during build which was completed on 17th February 1944.  The earlier destroyer had been adopted by the civil community of Darwen, Lancashire after a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in 1942.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


ATLANTIC 1939-40* - DUNKIRK 1940* - NORTH SEA 1944

(* awarded to HMS WAKEFUL (i))


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge : On a Black field an eye proper with rays ensuing therefore, Gold.


M o t t o

Si dormiam capiar : “If I sleep I will be caught”.



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 4


February         Contractors trials and Commissioned for service in 27th Destroyer Flotilla.

      17th          Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials.

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

                       Home Fleet.


March             Joined 3rd Destroyer Flotilla for Home Fleet service on completion of work-up.

                       (Note : 27th Flotilla was to be formed later when more ships of this Class were available.)


April               Deployed with Flotilla for Home Fleet duties.

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

                       VICTORIOUS, HM Escort Aircraft Carriers EMPEROR, FENCER, PURSUER and SEARCHER

                       with HM Cruisers  BELFAST, ROYALIST, JAMAICA and SHEFFIELD during air attacks on

                       German battleship TIRPITZ in Altenfjord (Operation TUNGSTEN)

                       (For details see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by C Barnett and CONVOY ! by

                       P Kemp.) 



        6th          Escorted HMS FURIOUS and HMS SEARCHER with HM Cruiser BERWICK  and HM

                       Destroyers SAVAGE, WIZARD, ALGONQUIN (RCN) and Polish  destroyers ORP PIORUN and

                       BLYSKAWICA during air attacks on shipping off  Kristiansund North, Norway

      12th          Escorted HMS EMPEROR and HMS STRIKER with HMS SHEFFIELD,  HMS ROYALIST and

                       HM Destroyers ONSLOW, OBEDIENT, URSA, ORP PIORUN and ORP BLYSKAWICA during

                       air attacks on shipping in Narvik and Stadlandet areas off Norway.

                       (Note : Award of Battle Honour NORTH SEA 1944  must have been made for an engagement during

                                   Home Fleet service. This requires further investigation.

                                    Operations off Norway are covered by the NORWAY Battle Honour.)


June                Home Fleet deployment in continuation.

                       Nominated for service in Eastern Fleet with 27th Flotilla after refit.

                       Taken in hand for refit..


July                 Under refit and prepared for foreign service.

                        On completion of post refit trials joined 27th Flotilla and took passage to join Eastern Fleet in



August           Passage to Aden in Mediterranean and Red Sea..

       31st          Sailed from Aden to Trincomalee.


September       Joined Eastern Fleet and prepared for planned operations in Indian Ocean.


October           Eastern Fleet deployment in continuation.

       15th           Sailed from Trincomalee with HM Destroyers WHELP, WESSEX and WAGER as destroyer

                         screen for HM Cruiser PHOEBE, HM Aircraft Carriers INDOMITABLE and VICTORIOUS

                         Group 3 of Force 63 for air attacks on Nicobar Islands including shipping.

                         (Operation MILLET which was an agreed diversion by Eastern Fleet during US landings in


                         For details see WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO) Vol.IV)

        16th         Fuelled with the other ten destroyers of Force 63 from HM  Battlecruiser RENOWN in Group 1.

        17th         Detached with ships of Group 3 from main force and took passage to begin air operations.

        19th         Under air attacks which were repelled by carrier aircraft.

        20th         Return passage to Trincomalee with Force 63.


November       Deployed at Trincomalee with Eastern Fleet

        22nd        Transferred to British Pacific Fleet with Flotilla on its formation at Trincomalee.


December        Deployed at Trincomalee with Flotilla :

        17th          Part of screen for HM Aircraft Carriers ILLUSTRIOUS and INDOMITABLE, HM Cruisers

                         NEWCASTLE, ARGONAUT and BLACK PRINCE with HM Destroyers KEMPENFELT,

                         WESSEX, WHIRLWIND and WRANGLER of Flotilla during air attacks at  Pangkalan Brandon,

                         Sumatra as part of Force 67.

                         (Operation ROBSON - First of series against oil installations in Sumatra

                         (Note : Part of overall Operation OUTFLANK For details see above reference Volume VI and

                                     THE FORGOTTEN FLEET by J Winton.)

        18th          Refuelled from Replenishment Group Force 69.

        20th          Remained with Force 67 during flying operations.

        22nd         Returned to Trincomalee with Force 67


1 9 4 5



        17th          Sailed from Trincomalee with British Pacific Fleet as Force 63 to carry out air attacks on oil

                         refineries in Sumatra during passage to Australia for service with US Navy in SW Pacific.

                         (Operation MERIDAN –  Part of OUTFLANK Series)

                         (Note : Ships involved were :

                                      HM Aircraft Carriers INDOMITABLE, ILLUSTRIOUS, VICTORIOUS and

                                      INDEFATIGABLE. HM Battleship KING GEORGE V  HM Cruisers ARGONAUT,

                                      BLACK PRINCE, EURYALUS and CEYLON,  HM Destroyers GRENVILLE,

                                      UNDINE, UNDAUNTED and URSA of 24th Flotilla, KEMPENFELT,

                                      WAKEFUL (ii), WHIRLWIND, WAGER, WESSEX and WHELP of 27th Flotilla.)

        24th         Deployed with screen during air attacks on refineries at Pladjoe

                         (Operation MERIDIAN ONE)

        29th         After refuelling in area away from coast deployed with screen during  further air attacks at

                         Soengi-Gerong near Palembang. (Operation Meridian TWO).

                         Under air attacks which were repelled by carrier aircraft.

                         (See above references re significant losses and lessons learned)

        30th         Passage to Fremantle after refuelling.


February         Ships of BPF at Fremantle.

        10th         British Pacific Fleet arrived at Sydney and prepared for service

                        with US Navy in SW Pacific.

                        (Note : Pennant Number for visual signalling changed to D31 to conform with US Navy

                                    identification for destroyers.)

        28th         British Pacific Fleet units sailed from Sydney for the Forward  British Base at Manus,

                        Admiralty Islands as Task Force 113.

                        (Note : Approval to join US naval operations was awaited.

                                    For details of the reasons see above references, TASK FORCE 57 by  P Smith, OPERATION

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



          7th         British Pacific Fleet arrived at Manus after carrying out extensive exercises on passage including

                        the new communications procedure, manoeuvring and weapon firings.

        18th         British Pacific Fleet units sailed to join US 5th Fleet at Ulithi as Task Force 113.

        20th         British Pacific Fleet arrived at Ulithi.

        23rd         British Pacific Fleet sailed to join operations as part of US 5th Fleet designated Task Force 57

                        (Note : This ship did not sail with Task Force 57 and the date of detachment from Force 113 or of

                                     other deployment is to be confirmed.)


April                Deployment in Australian waters or elsewhere is to be confirmed.

to                    (Note : Did not take part in Operations ICEBERG ONE or ICEBERG TWO

May                             with BPF in Sakishima-Gunto area.

                                    Battle Honour “OKINAWA” was not awarded.)


June                 Resumed duty with Flotilla at Sydney after Task Force 57 returned to Sydney

                        for R&R period.

                        Transferred to 3rd US Fleet with ships of BPF which were redesignated Task

                        Force 37.

        28th         Detached from Task Force 37 with HM Destroyers BARFLEUR and

                        WRANGLER Nominated as  escort for HM Aircraft Carrier INDEFATIGABLE

                        during passage to join BPF off Japan.

                        Remained at Sydney.


July                 At Sydney awaiting completion of repair to HMS INDEFATIGABLE.

                        Passage to join BPF off Japan as escort for HMS INDEFATIGABLE with

                        HMS WRANGLER.

        17th         Arrived in Replenishment area off Japan with HMS INDEFATIGABLE

        20th         Joined Task Force 37 ships during replenishment.

        23rd         Sailed with screen for Task Force 37 ships to resume operations against targets

                        in mainland islands of Japan. See above references for details.



          3rd         Deployed with Task Force 37 screen during joint RN/US Navy air attacks

                        on North Honshu and Hokkaido

        12th         Transferred with HM Battleship KING GEORGE V,  HM Aircraft Carrier IMPLACABLE,

                        HM Cruisers GAMBIA (RNZN) and NEWFOUNDLAND, HM Destroyers TROUBRIDGE,


                        NAPIER (RAN) with HM Battleship DUKE OF YORK and HMS WHELP to continue service

                         in US 3rd Fleet as Token Force of BPF ships and designated Task Unit 38.5 within US Task

                         Force 38.

        20th         Transferred to revised Task Group identity within US Task Force 38.

        23rd         Transferred with all ships of Token Force, except HMS DUKE OF YORK, HMS WAGER and

                        HMS WHELP to reformed Task Group 37 for entry into Japanese waters.

        27th         Entered Sagami Wan to await clearance of anchorage and berths for the  formal surrender and

                         support of the subsequent occupation operations.



          2nd         Present at formal surrender of Japanese Empire in Tokyo Bay.

                         See THE FORGOTTEN FLEET.


P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS WAKEFUL (ii) remained in Japanese waters to assist in the repatriation of allied nationals before taking passage to Sydney. The ship returned to UK with the Flotilla arriving in December 1945. She remained in service as a Boys Training ship until converted for use as an Anti-Submarine Frigate at Greenock. On completion in 1953 the ship joined the 5th Frigate Squadron in which she served until 1957 when converted for use as a Radar Training Ship. During 1959 she joined the Portsmouth Local Squadron and later the 2nd Frigate Squadron before carrying out trials on Satellite Communications Equipment in 1969. Placed on the Disposal List in 1970 this ship was sold to TW Ward on 10th July 1971 and arrived in tow at Inverkeithing for demolition on 5th July that year.






by Don Kindell


This convoy list has not been cross-checked with the text above






Date convoy sailed

Joined convoy as escort

Convoy No.

Left convoy

Date convoy arrived








KR 012








(Note on Convoys)


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