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

HMS WRANGLER (R 48) -  W-class Destroyer

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

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W (WAGER)-Class Fleet Destroyer ordered on 3rd December 1941 with the 9th Emergency Flotilla from Vickers Armstrong at Barrow-in-Furness. After a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in  March 1942 this ship was adopted by the civil community of Lincoln. She was laid down on 23rd September 1942 as Yard No 834 and launched on 30th December 1943. She was the 7th RN warship to carry the name which dates from 1797. It was used by a trawler hired in 1939 and renamed in 1944 before the completion date for this destroyer on 14th July 1944.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


BALTIC  1854 - BLACK SEA 1855

(Note: Award of Battle Honour JAPAN after post 1970 review of WW2 awards is to be confirmed.)


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field Barry wavy of 10 White and Blue.

a naval gun Gold, the carriage Red.


M o t t o

‘The first and last word’



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


June                   Contractors sea trials.

                           (Note: During departure for trials defect discovered in starboard gearing and on entering

                                       dock collided with the wall causing some structural damage.

                                       Repair work delayed Acceptance by about 3 weeks.


July                    Commissioned for service in 27th Destroyer Flotilla.

             14th       Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials.

                           On completion of trials and storing took passage to Scapa Flow.


August               Worked-up at Scapa Flow with ships of Home Fleet.


September          Modifications carried out prior to joining Flotilla in Ceylon.


October              Passage to Mediterranean.


November          Deployed temporarily with Mediterranean Fleet.

             10th        Bombarded Milos with HM Battleship KING GEORGE V in support of the  operations to

                             retake islands in the Aegean.

                             (See ENGAGE THE) ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by Corelli Barnett)

             22nd       British Pacific Fleet formed in Ceylon and transferred with Flotilla for service in Pacific.

                            (See OPERATION PACIFIC by E. Gray, THE! FORGOTTEN FLEET by J Winton. TF 57 by

                            P. Smith and WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO)


December          Passage to Ceylon with HMS KING GEORGE V to Join ships of Flotilla.

             13th       Joined newly formed Pacific Fleet

             17th       Deployed as part of Force 67 with HM Destroyers KEMPENFELT, WHIRLWIND, WES5EX

                           and WAKEFUL as destroyer screen for HM Cruisers NEWCASTLE, BLACK PRINCE,

                           ARGONAUT, Aircraft Carriers INDOMITABLE and ILLUSTRIOUS during series of air attacks

                           on oil refineries In Sumatra

                           (Operation ROBSON part of Operation OUTFLANK.

                           (See above references.)

             18th       Refuelled with other destroyers from Force 69 before taking passage to the flylng-off position

                           W of Diamond Point.

             20th       Flying operations commenced but diverted to secondary target at Belawan Deli due to

                           weather conditions which prevented strikes at primary target of Pangkalan Brandan.

                           (For details see above references.)

             22nd      Returned to Trincomalee with ships of Force 67


1 9 4 5


January              Taken in hand for repair by HM Dockyard Bombay.


February            Under repair




May                    On completion of post repair trials took passage to Sydney to join Flotilla serving in SW Pacific

                            under US Navy overall command.


June                    Deployed at Sydney.

                            Prepared for service in SW Pacific under overall US Navy command

                            Pennant Number for visual signalling purposes changed to D36 to conform with US Navy

                            identity used  for destroyers. 

                            Transferred to US Third Fleet with ships of British Pacific Fleet which had been redesignated as

                            Task Force 37.

                            (Note: This was due to re-organisation of US Pacific Fleet command structure. See WAR WITH

                                       JAPAN and THE FORGOTTEN FLEET.)

             28th       Remained at Sydney when Task Force 37 ships sailed for Manus prior to Joining U S Third

                           Fleet for operations against Japanese mainland targets.

                           (Note: Ship was nominated with HM Destroyers BARFLEUR and WAKEFUL for escort of

                                       HM Aircraft Carrier INDEFATIGABLE which had been delayed from sailing due to

                                       mechanical defects in compressors.


July                    Passage from Sydney to Join Task Force 37 in operational area with call at Menus, as escort for

                           HMS INDEFATIGABLE with HMS BARFLEUR and HMS WAKEFUL.

                           Escorted HM Aircraft Carrier INDEFATIGABLE with HM Destroyer WAKEFUL from Manus

                           to Join TF37 for combined RN/USN air attacks on Tokyo and Yokohama areas.

             20th       Joined Task Force 37 in operational area as escort for HM Aircraft Carrier INDEFATIGABLE,

                           with same ships.

              23rd      After Task Force ships had replenished deployed screen during attacks by aircraft from RN

              to          aircraft carriers on subsidiary shore targets and shipping.

             25th       (Note: BPF ships were deliberately excluded from participation in attacks on the primary

                                        targets which were  Japanese warships lying at Kure. See above references.)

             26th       Replenished with Task Force ships.

                           (Note: See above references for details of refuelling problems and shortages.)

             27th       Deployed as part of aircraft carriers screen during further attacks on airfields and shipping

             to           during  which Japanese frigates OKINAWA was sunk at Maizuru.


            30th        Replenishment with Task Force ships delayed by weather conditions.


August               Remained with Fleet screen whilst flying operations suspended because of weather conditions

                            and US operation to carry out atomic bomb attacks.

             9th          Part of escort joint air attacks by Task Forces 37 and US Task Force 38(US) on targets in

                            North Honshu and Hokkaido.

                            (Note: VC award made posthumously to pilot of aircraft from HMS FORMIDABLE killed in

                                        low level attack which sank Japanese destroyer. See references.)

           12th          Transferred to Task Group 38.5 with the RN ships selected for retention in 3rd US Fleet.

                            (Note: These were HM Aircraft Carrier INDEFATIGABLE, HM Battleships KING

                                        GEORGE V, HM Cruiser GAMBIA, HM Destroyers TENACIOUS, TERPSICHORE,

                                        TEAZER, BARFLEUR, HM Australian Destroyers NAPIER and NIZAM.

                                        This transfer was made after all other ships of British Pacific Fleet had bean withdraw

                                        from 3rd US Fleet due to lack of fuel from British tankers)

          13th           Part of screen for major units of TG38.5 ships during combined air attacks by USN and RN

                            aircraft carriers on targets in Tokyo area.

          15th           Deployed with screen for ships of TG38.5 during continuation of attacks on Tokyo area.

                            Under KAMIKAZE attacks.

                            (Note: HM Battleship DUKE OP YORK Joined Task Group 38.5 on 16th.)


P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS WRANGLER was present with other ships of  the Token Force at the formal surrender of Japan in Tokyo Bay on 2nd September 1945. She was then deployed to assist in the repatriation of allied personnel captured or interned by Japan before rejoining the Flotilla for BPF duties at Hong Kong. The ship took passage to Devonport in December 1945 and deployed for training duties until selected for conversion into a Type 15 Frigate by Harland and Wolff in Belfast. She was re-commissioned in 1953 for service with the 5th Frigate Squadron in the Mediterranean. Three years later she was transferred to the South African Navy and following refit in Cardiff renamed SAS VRYSTAAT on 26th November 1956. After ten years on the Active List this ship was taken out of service and sunk as a target in April 1976.


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