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SERVICE HISTORIES of ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS in WORLD WAR 2 by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2005

HMS STARLING (U 66) - Modified Black Swan-class Sloop including Convoy Escort Movements

 HMS Starling (Navy Photos, click to enlarge)

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Modified BLACK SWAN-Class Sloop ordered from Fairfield SB, Govan 18th July 1941 and laid  down as Job No 11701 (Yard No 701)on 21st October that year. She was launched on 14th October 1942 as the 9th RN ship to bear the name, introduced in 1801 for a Gun-Brig. Build was completed on 1st April 1943. This ship was made famous by the leadership and anti-submarine expertise of Captain F J Walker, RN whose name will always be associated with the Battle of the Atlantic as recorded in FIGHTING CAPTAIN by A. Burn. Her war service and successes were unrivalled. After a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in March 1942 the ship had been adopted by the civil community of Runcorn Rural District, then in Lancashire


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s

CHINA 1841-42 - BALTIC  1855 - CHINA 1956-60 - BISCAY 1943-44 - ATLANTIC  1943-45 - ARCTIC  1944 - NORMANDY  1944

H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field Green, a Starling proper grasping in its beak

a worm all 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



1 9 4 3


March                    Contractors trials and commissioning.



                1st           Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials.

                                On completion of trials and storing took passage to Tobermory.

                                Worked up for operational service

                                Took passage to Liverpool on completion.

                                Joined 2nd Escort Group as Senior Officer's ship.

                29th        Began first operational mission to support Atlantic convoys.


May                        Deployed with Group in support of safe -passage of Convoy HX235.

                22nd       Deployed with HM Sloops WREN, WOODPECKER, CYGNET, WILD GOOSE and KITE

                                for support operations during passage of ONS8 Convoy in North Atlantic



                1st           Under U-Boat attack as part of escort for HX241.

                                After detection of wireless transmissions began search for submarine.

                                (Note: For information about deployments of U-Boats and weapons used for both defence

                                and attacks on Atlantic convoys see U-BOAT WAR IN THE ATLANTIC (HMS0),

                                SEEK AND STRIKE by W Hackmann, BUSINESS IN GREAT WATERS by John

                                Terraine , HITLERíS U-BOAT WAR by C Blair and above reference.)

                2nd         Sank U202 in position 56.12N 39.52W, SSE Cape Farewell.

                                30 survivors were rescued after an operation lasting 15 hours.

                                (Note: For details of this sinking and of all others sunk by Group see U-BOATS DESTROYED

                                by P Kemp.)

                16th        Transferred to Plymouth Command for A/S offensive operations in Bay of Biscay to intercept

                                U-Boats on passage to and from base ports in conjunction with RAF Coastal Command aircraft

                                and covered by HM Cruiser SCYLLA (Operation MUSKETRY).

.               24th        After detection by ASDIC joined Group in attacks on U119 which surfaced.

                                Engaged submarine by gunfire with other ships of Group.

                                Intended ramming foiled by heavy swell but some structural damage sustained.

                                U119 sunk by depth charges from HM Sloop WOODPECKER in position 44.59N 12.24W

                                There were no survivors from U119 which was acting as a supply tanker.


July                         Under repair at Devonport.



                3rd          Involved in collision with HM Submarine UMBRA without major damage.


September             Rejoined Group for convoy support in Atlantic and Bay of Biscay.

                                Under air attacks during operations in support of passage of Convoy HX258.


October                  Deployed with ships of 1st and 2nd Escort Groups as escort for Convoy ON207.,

                21st         Joined escort for Convoy HX262 with HM Sloops MAGPIE, KITE, WOODCOCK and

                                WILD GOOSE Group with air cover from HM Escort Carrier TRACKER.

                25th        Convoy diverted to ensure safe passage because of known threat by SIEGFRIED group

                                of U-boats.



                1st           Detached to support escort of HX264 with ships of Group and HMS TRACKER.

                                Convoy under threat of attacks from TIRPITZ group of U-Boats.

                6th          Carried out anti-submarine operations with HMS WOODCOCK after U226 had been

                                sighted by HMS KITE.

                                Sank U226 with HMS WOODCOCK and HMS KITE in position 44.49N 41.13W, east

                                of Newfoundland after an extensive series of attacks by Group.

                                There were no survivors and convoy passed without any detection.

                                Took part in attacks on U842 which was sunk later in position 43.42N 42.08W by HMS

                                WILD GOOSE which located submarine after report by aircraft from HMS TRACKER.

                                There were no survivors. (See U-BOATS DESTROYED.)

                8th          During passage to refuel in Argentia came under T5 acoustic torpedo attack from

                                U648 which failed.

                24th        Deployed for support of convoys on UK-Gibraltar route.

                27th        Part of escort for Convoy MKS31/SL140 under threat of attack by WEDDIGEN group

                                of U-Boats.

                                Escort reinforced by 2nd and 4th Escort Groups.

                28th        Took part in A/S hunt operations and drove off U843.


December              Under refit and repair at Liverpool.


1 9 4 4


January                  Under refit.

                26th        On completion rejoined Group for support of passage of Atlantic convoys.

                31st         Deployed with HM Sloops WILD GOOSE, WOODPECKER, KITE and MAGPIE with

                                air cover by HM escort Carriers NAIRANA and ACTIVITY to safeguard passage of

                                convoys west of Ireland from threat by IGEL group of U-Boats.

                                Sank U592 in position 50.20N 17.29W (SW of Ireland) with HM Sloops WILD GOOSE

                                and MAGPIE.

                                There were no survivors from the U-Boat.



                8th          Deployed with Group for independent anti-submarine operations against the IGEL Group

                                of U-Boats.

                                Took part in sinking of U762 by Group in position 49.02N 16.58W.

                                There were no survivors.

                9th          Continued operations after unsuccessful attack by T5 Acoustic torpedoes from U238 and U734

                                Carried out extensive search with HM Sloops WILD GOOSE, KITE and MAGPIE in support

                                of passage of joint Convoy SL147/MKS38 supported by HMS NAIRANA and HMS

                                ACTIVITY which joined after sinking of U592 (See above.)

                                Both submarines destroyed in position 45.44N 16.20W without any survivors.

                                (See BUSINESS IN GREAT WATERS by J. Terraine)

                17th        Deployed with ships of 2nd and 7th Escort Groups to support Convoy ON224 under threat

                                from HAI Group of U-Boats. Convoy course was diverted.

                19th        Sank U264 with HMS WOODPECKER in Group operations following support for passage of


                26th        Completed A/S patrol during which Support Group sank six U-Boats.

                                (Note: This period established the effectiveness of 'Creeping' A/S attacks.

                                (Operation PLASTER) which had been perfected by Captain Walker.

                                See BUSINESS IN GREAT WATERS.)



                7th          Detached from operations with Group for support and escort duty in NW Approaches.

                11th        Deployed with Group for four days anti-submarine exercises in conduction with aircraft from

                                HM Escort Carrier VINDEX.

                15th        Sank U653 in position 53.46N 24.35W with HM Sloops WREN, WILD GOOSE and MAGPIE

                                after sighting by a SWORDF1SH aircraft of 825 Squadron embarked in HMS VINDEX.

                                There were no survivors from the U-Boat.

                29th        Joined Russian Convoy PQ58 with HM Sloops MAGPIE, WILD GOOSE, WREN and

                                WHIMBREL of Group to supplement anti-submarine support for passage to Kola Inlet.

                                (Note: This convoy included US cruiser USS MILWAUKEE being handed over to the

                                Soviet Navy.)

                                Sank U961 in position 64.31N 03.19W with no survivors.

                                (Note: Submarine was on independent passage to Atlantic and probably was not aware of

                                presence of JW58.)



                2nd         Convoy came under series of unsuccessful U-boat attacks by THOR , BLITZ and HAMMER

                                Groups until 3rd

                7th          Provided A/S support for returning Convoy RA58 with ships of Group., four Fleet Destroyers

                                and two corvettes.

                14th        Detached on arrival of convoy at Loch Ewe after an uninterrupted passage.

                15th        Under weather damage repair in Liverpool.

                28th        On completion rejoined Group for A/S support operations in SW Approaches.

                                Deployed with 2nd and 5th Support Groups supported by aircraft from HMS VINDEX in series

                                of anti-submarine operations following interception of radio signals from U-Boats.



                3rd          Deployed with Group in search for U-Boat reporting weather conditions to shore.

                                (Note: US destroyer USS MACDONNELL was torpedoed in the area.)

                6th          Carried out search lasting 18 hours with HMS WILD GOOSE and WREN.

                                Forced U473 to surface and then sunk the submarine by gunfire despite an attack by T5

                                acoustic torpedo.

                                (Note: Submarine had been acting as weather station.

                                30 survivors rescued.

                15th        On termination of operations tool passage to Liverpool.

                17th        Arrived at Liverpool.

                29th        Deployed in support of convoys in Western Approaches.


June                        Nominated for anti-submarine operations in support of planned allied landings in Normandy.

                                (For details see OPERATION NEPTUNE by K Edwards, LANDINGS IN NORMANDY

                                (HMSO) and for details of all mercantiles and warships involved D-DAY SHIPS by J de Winser)

                2nd         Passage of English Channel with HMS WILD GOOSE and WREN.

                6th          Deployed in Bay of Biscay and west Channel area for operations to prevent any attempt by

                                U-Boats to attack Invasion convoys (Operation NEPTUNE) .

                10th        Operational area transferred to east and ship based at Plymouth. See references.



                1st           Returned to Liverpool.

                9th          Death of Captain F J Walker, Royal Navy who was relieved as Senior Officer EG2 by

                                Commander D Weymss (See FIGHTING CAPTAIN) .

                                (Note: Captain Walker was buried at sea from HM Destroyer HESPERUS with appropriate

                                ceremonial on 11th.).

                28th        Deployed in SW Approaches with 3rd Support Group and RAF aircraft to prevent access to

                                Channel by U-Boats and to intercept their passages across the Bay of Biscay for attacks on

                                Atlantic convoys.

                31st         Sank U333 In position 49.39N 07.28W with HM Frigate LOCH KILLIN.



                6th          Sank U736 in position 47.19N 04.16W with HMS LOCH KILLIN.

                                19 of submarine crew were rescued.

                11th        Engaged U385 on surface but after submarine dived did not make contact during a search with


                                After sighting and attack by SUNDERLAND aircraft of 461 Squadron RAAF, U385 was

                                located on surface and attacked with gunfire.

                                Submarine crew had abandoned and it sank in position 46.16N 02.45W.

                                41 survivors were rescued

                                (Note: During this deployment the Group sank four U-Boats.)


September             Deployed with 2nd Escort Group re-designated 22nd Escort Group.

                                Western Approaches deployment in continuation.

                                Nominated for refit.

                30th        Taken in hand for refit at Falmouth.


October                  Under refit.

to                            Nominated for service with 22nd Escort Group.



December              Carried out post refit trials

                13th        On completion of sea trials prepared for operational service.


1 9 4 5


January                  Joined new Group and Redeployed with in Western Approaches for the escort and support of

                                passage for Atlantic convoys

                16th        Carried out sustained search with Group after HM Escort Carrier THANE had been torpedoed

                                in Clyde.

                                Took part in sinking of U482 in position 55.30N, 05.43W (North Channel) with HM Sloops

                                HART, AMETHYST and HM Frigate LOCH CRAGGIE.

                                There were no survivors,


February                Nominated for service in British Pacific Fleet after refit.

                12th        Taken in hand for long refit in Tyne shipyard.


March                    Under refit




July                         Post refit trials.



                10th        On completion worked up at Tobermory for foreign service



                5th          Following end of hostilities requirement lapsed and returned to Devonport to pay off.


P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS STARLING was de-stored and paid off into Reserve during October 1945. Within two months this ship was selected for use as a Navigation Training Ship baaed at Portsmouth. She was converted for this duty at Portsmouth where her armament was removed and facilities for practical training were added. In March 1946 she began training duties as a Tender to the Navigation School, H M S DRYAD, and continued in this role until 1956 when she was Paid Off and reduced to Reserve status at Portsmouth. Placed on the Disposal List in 1955 the ship was sold to BISCO for demolition by Lacmots and towed to the breakers yard at Queenborough, Kant on 26th May 1958. This name was carried forward when given to a PEACOCK Class Patrol Vessel in 1984. The future of this Class which ware deployed at Hong Kong was under review after the Colony was returned to China.






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








HX 236





SL 128MK





ONS 008





HX 240





HX 241





HX 258





ON 207





HX 262





HX 264





SL 140MK





SC 148





HX 269





ON 222





SL 147MK





HX 278





ON 224





ONS 031





JW 058





RA 058





ONS 040








(Note on Convoys)


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