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

HMS KEMPTHORNE (K 483) - Captain-class Frigate
including Convoy Escort Movements

HMS Bickerton (Navy Photos, click to enlarge)

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 CAPTAIN Class Diesel-Electric Evarts Type Frigate ordered under the UK/US Lease-Lend Agreement on 18th January 1942 and laid down on 5th June 1943 by the Boston Navy Yard, Mass. USA. The ship had been intended for US Navy service as DE279 as USS TRUMPETER was launched on 17th July 1943. She was renamed KEMPTHORNE  on commissioning and was the first RN ship to carry this name, commemorating the service of Admiral Sir  John Kempthorne (1620 –1679) who commanded the 2nd MARY ROSE in 1669. Build was completed on 23rd October 1943. This ship was not adopted by a civil community in UK in the 1941-42 National Savings WARSHIP WEEK campaigns. Details of manning arrangements made for commissioning of this Class of warship in the USA are given in THE CAPTAIN CLASS FRIGATES IN WW2 by D Collingwood.


B a t t l e   H o no u r s


ATLANTIC 1944-45


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

 None is recorded in the Official List of Heraldic Crests.

(Note: Many ships built during WW2 had an

unofficial crest but these were never given

Admiralty formal approval.)



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 3


October                  Harbour Trials and Setting to Work.

                23rd        Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials

                31st         On completion of trials commissioned for RN Service as HMS KEMPTHORNE.


November              On completion of training exercises and shakedown in Boston area too passage to Bermuda

                                to prepare for RN service.


December              Deployed at Bermuda for exercises including shore training.

                                Passage to Halifax to join routine HX Series convoy for passage to UK


1 9 4 4


January                  Joined Convoy HX274 at Halifax with HM Frigates GOODSON, BLIGH and KEATS.

                                (Note: These were sister CAPTAIN Class Frigates recently completed training and exercises

                                based at Bermuda.)

                6th          Sailed from Halifax with HX274.

                                (Note: The newly completed frigates were not deployed as part of the escort as they were not

                                completely fitted with RN equipment required for convoy defence and had not

                                worked-up at the Western Approaches for suitable training prior to operational use.)

                21st         Detached from HX274 and took passage to Belfast.

                                On arrival taken in hand by Base Staff at Pollock Dock to replace unsatisfactory US Navy

                                equipment , including an Admiralty design Gyro compass and depth charge arrangements. In

                                addition the underwater detection equipment (Sonar/ASDIC) was modified to latest standard

                                and an RN design radio direction finding outfit was installed.

                                (Note: For further details of equipment changes made see above reference and SEEK and

                                STRIKE by W Hackmann.)


February                Under refit in Belfast.

                28th        Nominated for service with 5th Escort Group in Western Approaches Command.


March                    Carried out sea trials on completion of refit work.

                                Carried out work-up at Tobermory.


April                       On completion of work-up joined 5th Escort Group at Belfast.

                                (Note: Other ships in Group were:

                                Sister-ships HM Frigates AYLMER, BICKERTON, BLIGH, GRINDALL, KEATS,

                                TYLER and GOODSON which joined Group progressively on completion

                                on work-up and modification

                                Senior Officer was Commander D MacIntyre who had already achieved great

                                renown as a Western Approaches Escort Commander in the 2nd Escort Group

                                and is the author of several post war publications including THE BATTLE OF

                                THE ATLANTIC and others with graphic description of WW2 operations)

                21st         Deployed with Group as escort for westbound Convoy ONS233 in atrocious weather


                26th        Detached from HX233 to join HM Escort Aircraft Carrier VINDEX and ships on 9th

                                Escort Group (RCN) deployed in support of Atlantic convoy s under threat of attacks by

                                U-Boat Groups..



                2nd         Joined HMS VINDEX and EG9

                                Turbo-Electric ships of EG5 refuelled from HMS VINDEX and Canadian Group detached

                                and returned to refuel at their Canadian base.

                                Deployed as close escort for HMS VINDEX with HM Frigates GOODSON and KEATS

                6th          Remained with HMS VINDEX during fourth day of Anti-submarine search operations by

                                rest of Group.

                                (Note: U765 was sunk by SWORDFISH aircraft of 825 Squadron from HMS VINDEX

                                after sonar contact HMS BICKERTON during depth charge attacks with HMS

                                BLIGH, HMS BICKERTON and HMS AYLMER. See U-BOATS DESTROYED.

                                Submarine was force to surface and engaged by surface gunfire during which

                                SWORDFISH V delivered two depth charges which sank U765.

                9th          Further refuelling of BUCKLEY’s from HMS VINDEX during submarine search operations.

                14th        Returned to Clyde with HMS VINDEX close escort

                                Passage to Belfast.

                                Nominated for Home Fleet duties in support of allied landings in Normandy

                                (Operation NEPTUNE- For details see LANDINGS IN NORMANDY, June 1944

                                (HMSO), THE D DAY SHIPS and OPERATION NEPTUNE by K Edwards.

                28th        Deployed at Moelfre Bay in Clyde area with Group awaiting commencement of NEPTUNE.


June                        Commenced anti-submarine patrol in South Western Approaches to intercept any U-Boats

                                attempting passage into English Channel from Atlantic to interfere with Assault or Follow-up

                                convoys and also for support of Atlantic convoys under submarine attack.

                                (Note: 5th Escort Group remained under overall command of CinC Home Fleet and was not

                                attached to Naval Commander Expeditionary Force. See references.)

                15th        During patrol deployment with Group and HM Frigate MOURNE, SW of Lizard Head under

                                attack by U767 which torpedoed and sank HMS MOURNE.

                26th        During patrol deployment with Group, SE of Start Point present at sinking of U269 by HMS


                                (Note: HMS BICKERTON detached and returned to Plymouth with survivors rescued from

                                U767 and HMS GOODSON assumed role as Senior Officer’s ship.)

                                Under attack by U984 during same patrol SE of Start Point during which HMS GOODSON

                                was hit by Homing Torpedo (T5) which seriously damaged ship.

                                (Note: HMS GOODSON was taken in tow to Portsmouth by HMS BLIGH of Group

                                on survey ship was found beyond economic repair and never returned to service.)


July                         Returned to Belfast on release from service in SW Approaches.

                                Nominated for Home Fleet screening duties.



                12th        After completion of essential repairs too passage from Belfast to Scapa flow for Home Fleet


                                (Note: On passage all ships in Group were ordered to paint ship prior to arrival.)

                18th        Deployed with Group as screen for HM Escort Aircraft Carriers NABOB and TRUMPETER

                                during planned air attacks on German battleship TIRPITZ lying in Altenfjord, Norway

                                (Operation GOODWOOD)

                20th        GOODWOOD aborted due to adverse weather

                                Remained in Operation area

                                (Note: Past experience off Norway had determined that U-Boat threat was always present

                                and a high state of alert was maintained with constant ant-submarine measures

                22nd       Under attack by U354 which fired torpedoes at HMS NABOB and HMS BICKERTON.

                                (Note: HMS NABOB was able to return to Scapa Flow under own steam but on later

                                survey was declared beyond economic repair and Paid-off.

                                U34 was sunk on 24th July. See U-BOATS DESTROYED by P Kemp.)

                                Took off casualties and non essential personnel from HMS BICKERTON.

                                (Note: HMS BICKERTON was sunk by own forces three hours after being damaged.

                                This decided in order to expedite the return passage of HMS NABOB and in order

                                to reduce chance of further attacks on remaining ships of Force.

                30th        After return to Clyde, Commander MacIntyre was relieved by Commander BW Taylor as

                                he was overdue for shore appointment after continuous sea service for several years.


September             Resumed Atlantic Convoy Escort duties in Western Approaches Command.


October                  Deployed with Group for escort of military convoy in KMF series during passage to Naples

to                            from UK.

December              On return from Naples deployed with Group for anti-submarine operations in NW Approaches

                                to intercept U-Boats in transit too and from Atlantic convoy routes.

                                (Note: Following the advance of allied armies in western Europe all U-Boats had to take

                                northerly passage to bases in Norway and Germany. See HITLER’S U-BOAT WAR

                                by C Blair and U-BOAT WAR IN THE ATLANTIC (HMSO).


1 9 4 5


January                  Deployed with Group for anti-submarine search operations in Irish Sea and SW Approaches.

                                (Note: SCHNORKEL fitted U-Boats were concentrating attacks in UK Coastal waters against

                                coastal convoys and focal points for Inward and outward Atlantic convoys.

                                See above references. Air threat from bases in France had been removed.)

                26th        During operations in Irish Sea with Group, diverted to assist 4th Escort Group in attacks on

                                U1172 which had been forced to surface after sustained depth charge attacks by ships of

                                that Group.

                                After arrival carried out surface gun attacks with ships of both Groups during which HMS

                                AYLMER rammed and sank the damaged submarine. See U-BOATS DESTROYED.

                                (Note: One source suggests that this ram was due to misunderstanding of an order during the

                                surface action and that U1172 would have sunk in any case due to the extensive

                                damage by earlier depth charge attacks.

                                Deployed with ships of 5th Group for another submarine known to be in the area and a threat

                                to inward Convoy HX332 on passage in Irish Sea to Liverpool.

                27th        U1051 sunk by HM Frigates BLIGH, KEATS and TYLER of Group after sonar contact by

                                HMS KEATS. See U-BOATS DESTROYED.

                                (Note: Participation in search by Group for this submarine is to be confirmed.

                                Unless ships had been detached it is most likely she was deployed in the area but

                                possibly not with attacking ships came under attack by U1051 which


February                Group deployment in continuation with anti-submarine patrols in NW Approaches for the

to                            interception of U-Boats on passage to and from bases in Norway and and Germany.



April                       Group deployment continued in areas west of Ireland and NW of Scotland.


May                        After VJ Day nominated for early return to USA and Paid-off.




August                  Passage to USA manned by Steaming Party.

                20th        Returned to US Navy


P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS KEMPTHORNE although taking part in most anti-submarine operations, which resulted in sinking of a U-Boat, did not share in the Credits awarded to ships taking part in the final attacks resulting in the final destruction or scuttling. She was only deployed with the 5th Escort Group which had a most outstanding record of availability and successful defence of Atlantic convoys in a comparatively short period of operational service. This ship was never re-deployed in the US Navy and was sold for scrap in May 1946. If the Ship’s Monthly Deck Logs for her period under RN Command survived the post war destruction of wartime records it will be available at the Public Record Office at Kew. This is to be confirmed.






by Don Kindell


These convoy lists have not been cross-checked with the text above






Date convoy


Joined convoy as escort

Convoy No.

Left convoy

Date convoy arrived








HX 274





ON 233





ON 253





KMF 036





MKF 036





MKF 037





HX 332





HX 334





HX 339





MKS 095G




(Note on Convoys)


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revised 29/5/11
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