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HMS Exmoor (ii), escort destroyer, WW2



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

HMS EXMOOR (ii) - Type II, Hunt-class Escort Destroyer

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above left  - HMS Farndale, Type II sister ship

(NP/George Knight, click photographs for enlargements)


H . M . S . E X M O O R (ii) ( L 0 8 )


Type II HUNT-Class Escort Destroyer ordered from Swan Hunter at Wallsend on 20th December 1939 under the 1939 War Emergency Programme with 16 others of this Class. She was laid down as Job No J4190 on 7th June 1940. The ship was launched on 12th March 1941 as HMS BURTON after a Derbyshire , fox-hunt and was the first RN ship to carry this name. However in June 1941 her name was changed to HMS EXMOOR following the tragic loss of the 2nd ship of this name in February 1941. Her build was on 18th October 1941 and following a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in March 1942 the ship was adopted by the civil community of Minehead, in Somerset. This was a particularly appropriate selection since this is the name of a Somerset foxhunt.


B a t t l e H o n o u r s


NORTH SEA 1941* - ATLANTIC 1941-42 - LIBYA 1912 - SICILY 1943 - SALERNO 1943 - AEGEAN 1943 - MEDITERRANEAN 1944

(* awarded to HMS EXMOOR (i))


H e r a l d i c D a t a

Badge : On a Field Red., two foxes brushes in Saltire

between two mullets Gold.


D e t a i l s o f W a r S e r v i c e


1 9 4 1


October                  Contractors trials and commissioned for service.

                18th        Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials

                                Passage to Scapa Flow on completion of trials and storing.


November              Nominated for service at Gibraltar for convoy defence on completion of work-up with ships

                                of Home Fleet.

                                Passage to Londonderry.

                13th        Joined military convoy WS12Z with HM Destroyers BADSWORTH, VANQUISHER and

                                WITCH as Local Escort during passage in NW Approaches
                17th        Detached from WS12Z and returned to Clyde area.


December              Passage to Gibraltar for service with 13th Destroyer Flotilla.

                                Joined Flotilla with HM Escort Destroyers BLANKNEY and CROOME.

                                (Note: This deployment part, of changes made necessary by the transfer of the 4th Destroyer

                                Flotilla from Gibraltar to UK.

                14th        Deployed to reinforce escort of Convoy HG76 by the 36th Escort Group.

                                (Note: This convoy been selected by U-Boat Command for heavy attacks by submarines

                                from bases in French ports.

                                The defence of HG76 was of particular significance..

                                HM Escort Aircraft Carrier AUDACITY which had started service in September

                                was part of the escort.

                                Escort was commanded by the renowned Commander F J Walker who had developed

                                many of the tactics used for defence of Atlantic convoys.

                                See THE BATTLE THE ATLANTIC by Donald Macintyre. THE FIGHTING CAPTAIN

                                by A. BURN and SEEK AND STRIKE by W Hackmann.).

                17th        Took part in the sinking of U131 with HM Corvette PENSTEMON, HM Destroyer STANLEY

                                and HM Escort Destroyer BLANKNEY.

                                The Submarine was scuttled by her crew who ware all rescued.

                                See U-BOATS DESTROYED by P Kemp.

                18th        Detached from escort and returned to Gibraltar.


1 9 4 2


January                  Joined 37th Destroyer Division for convoy escort in Atlantic Ocean and western


                                Deployed for convoy defence and anti-submarine patrol duties.


February                Gibraltar deployment in continuation.

                27th        Detached for duty with Force H.

                                Deployed as screen for HM Battleship MALAYA, HM Aircraft Carriers ARGUS, EAGLE, HM

                                Cruiser HERMIONE with HM Destroyers LAFOREY, LIGHTING, ACTIVE, ANTHONY

                                WHITEHALL, WISHART, BLANKNEY and CROOME to provide cover for delivery of

                                SPITFIRE and BLENHEIM aircraft to Malta (Operation SPOTTER I).

                28th        Operation cancelled due to discovery of defects in aircraft fuel tanks.


March                    Flotilla, duties in continuation.

                6th          Detached for duty with Force H.

                                Joined escort for ships covering repeat SPOTTER I Malta aircraft delivery.

                                (Operation SFOT1ER II)

 .              8th          Resumed Flotilla duties

.               20th        Detached for duty with Force H.

                                Joined destroyer screen for HMS MALAYA, HMS ARGUS, HMS EAGLE and HMS

                                HERMIONE with HM Destroyers LAFOREY, DUNCAN, ACTIVE, ANTHONY, WHITEHALL,

                                WISHART, BLANKNEY and CROOME during delivery of SPITFIRE, BLENHEIM and

                                BEAUFORT aircraft to Malta. (Operation PICKET 1).

                23rd        Resumed Flotilla duties

                28th        Detached for duty with Force H.

                                Joined escort for repeat delivery of aircraft to Malta with same ships (Operation PICKET II).

                30th        Resumed Flotilla duties.



                1st           Transferred with HMS CROOME to 9th Destroyer Flotilla based at Alexandria.

                                Took passage from Gibraltar to join the Mediterranean Fleet.

                8th          Retained temporarily at Freetown for Local Escort duty.

                11th        Deployed with HM Destroyer CROOME, WILD SWAN, HM Corvettes HYDRANGEA,

                                Free French Corvettes COMMANDANTE DROGU, COMMANDTE DETROYAT as Local

                                Escort of military Convoy WS17B off West Africa during passage to Caps of Good Hope.

                15th        Detached from WSI7B with COMMANDANTE DETROYAT and returned to Freetown.

                25th        Passage to Red Sea via Cape of Good Hope to join Flotilla at Alexandria


May                        On arrival joined 5tn Destroyer Flotilla and deployed for convoy defence in eastern

                                Mediterranean for convoy defence and support of the garrison at Tobruk.


June                        Tobruk garrison support in continuation with ships of Flotilla.

                                Nominated for escort of Malta Relief convoy MW11 (Operation VIGOROUS).

                                (Editor's Note: check The Supply of Malta by Arnold Hague for details.)

                13th        Joined HM Destroyers JERVIS, KELVIN, JAVELIN, PAKENHAM, PALADIN,

                                INCONSTANT HASTY, SIKH, ZULU, HERO, FORTUNE, GRIFFIN and HOTSPUR,

                                HM Australian Destroyers NAPIER, NESTOR and NORMAN with HM Escort Destroyers


                                ALDENHAM of Flotilla as escort for MW11.

                                (Note: HM Cruisers NEWCASTLE, BIRMINGHAM, CLEOPATRA, DIDO, HERMIONE,

                                EURYALUS, ARETHUSA. COVENTRY and HM Battleship CENTURION disguised

                                as a KING GEORGE V Class ship were also deployed to provide cover against surface


                                Four FLOWER Class Corvettes and two BANGOR Class Minesweepers also formed

                                part of the operation to provide vital support of the Malta defenders).

                14th        Under sustained air attacks before nightfall after which aircraft dropped flares to illuminate the

                                convoy for E-Boat attacks.

                15th        Under E-Boat attacks and renewed air attacks after daylight and threat of surface attack by

                                Italian heavy units.

                                Operation abandoned after further E-Boat and air attacks.

                                (Note: This was a disastrous operation.

.                               The extent of air cover was completely inadequate and a series of conflicting instructions

                                from ashore made its successful conclusion unlikely despite the calibre of Rear Admiral

                                P Vian who was in command at sea)

                                For full details of the action and its severe losses see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE

                                CLOSELY by Corelli Barnett, THE BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN,

                                MALTA CONVOYS by R Woodman and Naval Staff History).

                22nd       Resumed Flotilla duties at Alexandria.


July                         Deployed for escort of convoys and support of Tobruk.

to                            Bombarded shore targets in support of military operations.



September             Nominated for support of planned attack on German garrison at Tobruk

                                (Operation AGREEMENT).

                12th        Embarked Royal Marinas for passage to Tobruk.

                                Sailed with m Destroyers SIKH and ZULU,

                13th        Bombarded shore targets and came under fire from shore batteries.

                14th        After loss of HM Cruiser COVENTRY, returned to Alexandria to refuel and re-arm.

                                Took passage with HM Escort Destroyers DULVERTON, BEAUFORT and HURWORTH.

                                (Note: Operation AGREEMENT was yet another disaster .

                                Its complete failure was due to a combination of lack of adequate planning and poor

                                execution after it became evident that the German garrison was wall prepared for this

                                assault by Commando units.

                                Full details of this operation are available in MASSACRE AT TOBRUK by GC

                                Connell and Naval Staff History)


October                  Flotilla duties in support of military operations (Operation LIGHTFOOT)

                20th        Deployed for escort duty during diversionary landing at Ras-el-Kanais.


November              Deployed with ships of Flotilla, for convoy escort and interception patrol duty In eastern


                17th        Joined Convoy MW13 as Close Escort during passage to Malta in place of Destroyers from

                                Mediterranean Fleet with HM Escort Destroyers ALDENHAM, BEAUFORT, BELVOIR,

                                and Greek PINDOS.

                                (Operation STONEAGE - First westbound convoy since VIGOROUS - See above

                18th        HM Cruisers ARETHUSA, CLEOPATRA, DIDO, ORION and Fleet Destroyers rejoined


                                Under air attack during which HMS ARETHUSA was torpedoed and had to return under tow

                                to Alexandria.

                19th        Fleet units detached and returned to Alexandria.

                20th        Convoy arrived in Malta

                21st         Took passage to Alexandria with ships of Close Escort



                1st           Escorted Convoy MW14 with HM Escort Destroyers BELVOIR, CROOME, HURSLEY,

                                TETCOTT and Greek PINDOS (Operation PORTCULLIS)

                2nd         Fleet covering force joined MW14.

                4th          Force K from Malta Joined MW14

                5th          Detached on arrival of MW14 in Malta.

                7th          Deployed as Escort for return Convoy ME11 to Egypt with HM Cruiser ORION, HM

                                Destroyers PAKENHAM, PETARD and Greek VASILISSA OLGA.HM Escort Destroyers

                                BELVOIR, ALDENHAM, CROOME,, DULVERTON, HURSLEY, TETCOTT and Greek


                9th          Detached with HMS ORION, HM Escort Destroyers ALDENHAM, CROOME,

                                DULVERTON and HURSLEY to Escort Convoy MW15 then on passage to Malta.

                                (Operation QUADRANGLE A - This was the last Malta relief convoy to make direct passage

                                to the island, those following joined coastal convoys to Tripoli and then onwards to Malta.)


1 9 4 3


January                  Flotilla deployment in Eastern Mediterranean.

to                            Supported military operations by 8th Army in Libya and Tunisia.



April                       Transferred to Malta for support of military operations and convoy defence.


May                        Flotilla duties based in Malta in continuation.

                7th          Deployed with ships of Flotilla, HM Destroyers NUBIAN, PALADIN, PETARD, JERV1S of

                to            Force "K" based in Malta, HM Destroyers LAFOREY, LOYAL, TARTAR and Polish ORP

                13th        BLYSKAWICA of Force "Q" based at Bone, and ships of Flotilla, to establish blockade of

                                Cape Bon area.

                                (Operation RETRIBUTION See above references,)

                                (Note: Other Escort Destroyers engaged in this Operation to intercept craft carrying out

                                evacuation of enemy troops from Tunisia included: HM Escort Destroyers

                                ZETLAND, LAMERTON, ALDENHAM, HURSLEY, DULVERTON,

                                LAUDERDALE, WILTON and Greek KANARIS (Ex HATHERLEIGH).


June                        Nominated for escort and support of planned allied landings in Sicily (Operation HUSKY)

                                (Note: Improved air cover was available to minimise threat of air attack on convoys during

                                passage of military convoys from Egypt.

                                For details see above references and THE LAST DESTROYER by F. A. Mason).


July                         Nominated for duty in Support Force East as part of Escort Group P during allied landings in


                                (Operation HUSKY - ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY, Naval Staff History

                                and BRITISH INVASION FLEETS by J de Winser.)

                                Passage to Port Said

                5th          Sailed from Port Said as part of escort for assault convoy MWF36

                8th          Detached from MWF36 to refuel.

                9th          Rejoined MWF36

                10th        Detached from MWF36 on arrival at BARK WEST Beach Head.

                                Provided AA defence and carried out patrols to intercept any attempt to interfere with landings

                11th        In action against shore defences at Augusta, Sicily during attempt, to enter harbour with HM

                                Destroyer ESKIMO and Greek Escort Destroyer KANARIS.

                                (See above references,)


August                  Deployed for convoy escort and patrol in Central Mediterranean.

                                Nominated for escort and support during planned assault landings on Italian mainland as part

                                of Northern Attack Force (Operation AVALANCHE).

                                Joined Task Force 65 with HM Destroyers LAFOREY, LOOKOUT, LOYAL, NUBIAN and

                                TARTAR of 19th Destroyer Flotilla, HM Escort Destroyers MENDIP, DULVERTON,


                                BEAUFORT, LEDBURY and Greek PINDOS (Ex HATHERLEIGH)


September             Passage to Tripoli

                6th          Sailed from Tripoli as part of escort for military Convoy TSF1 during passage to beach head.

                10th        Detached from TSF1 on arrival and provided AA defence for ships in anchorage with naval

                to            gunfire support,.

                16th        Carried out defensive patrols to prevent attacks by E-Boats on ships laying off the beach heads


October                  Transferred to Eastern Mediterranean with ships of 5th Destroyer Flotilla for support of

                                military operations in defence of Aegean Islands after British troops landed following the

                                Italian surrender.

                24th        Sailed from Alexandria with HM Cruiser AURORA, HM Destroyers PATHFINDER and

                                BLENCATHRA to relieve HM Cruiser PHOEBE , HMS ALDENHAM and HMS

                                HURSLEY in support of defence of Aegean Islands.

                                Deployed for interception patrols and supply to garrison.


November              Continued patrol and support role in Aegean.

                                (Note: Laid-up during daytime in bays around Turkish coast to avoid air attacks.

                8th          Carried out patrols in Aegean to intercept craft taking German troops to land on Aegaan


                9th          Searched unsuccessfully for invasion craft on passage to Levitha with HM Destroyers FURY

                                and BLENCATHRA.

                                Laid-up in Gulf of Doris on completion.

                13th        Embarked 10 tons of ammunition in Alexandria for Leros.

                14th        Took passage with HM Destroyer FURY and Polish Escort Destroyer KRAKOWIAK

                                (Ex HMS SILVERTON) to Limassol.

                                Recalled during passage to Leros from Limassol when surrender of Garrison became


                24th        Took part in support of diversionary operation (RUMBLE BUMBLE)



                4th          Deployed with HM Destroyer ALDENHAM to relieve HM Destroyers PENN and PETARD

                                as escort for damaged Greek destroyer ADR1AS during passage to Alexandria from Limassol

                6th          Arrived at Alexandria.

                                (For details of this operation see WAR IN THE AEGEAN by Peter Smith and Edwyn


                                Nominated for service with 22nd Destroyer Flotilla based in Algiers,

                                Took passage to Algiers.

                31st         Deployed in central Mediterranean with Flotilla for anti-submarine patrol and support of



1 9 4 4


January                  Flotilla duties in continuation.


February                Nominated for convoy escort and support of planned allied landings at Anzio.

                                (Operation SHINGLE For details see above references,)

                                Escorted convoys to Anzio and provided AA defence off beachheads during build-up Phase

                                of SHINGLE.


March                    Deployment for anti-submarine patrol and convoy defence in continuation.

                10th        Took part in sinking of U450 with HM Escort Destroyers BLANKNEY, BLENCATHRA and

                                BRECON in position 41.11N, 12.27E off Anzio.

                                Some survivors were rescued by ships of the attacking group.

                                For details see U-BOATS DESTROYED by P Kemp and HITLER'S U-BOAT WAR by C Blair.


April                       Deployment for Mediterranean convoy defence in continuation.




October                  Deployed for escort of military convoys to Greek mainland.

                                Transferred to 3rd Destroyer Flotilla as Leader with HMS LIDDESDALE and other HUNT

                                Class Escort Destroyers

                                (Operation MANNA See Military History of War (HMSO) and Naval Staff History).


November              Deployed in eastern Mediterranean fore convoy defence and support of military operations.




1 9 4 5


January                  Flotilla deployment in continuation.

to                            Carried out interception patrol and support duty in Aegean during re-occupation of islands and

February                Greek mainland.

                                Deployed with HMS LEDBURY and HMS TETCOTT of Flotilla to support Greek military unit

                                sent to Nisero, Dodecanese to destroy German raiding force..


March                    Flotilla support deployment duties in continuation.

to                            Carried out patrols for interception of craft evacuating German forces from Aegean islands,

April                       Passage to Taranto for refit.


May                        Under refit

                                Nominated as Reserve for service in Eastern Fleet.

                                (Note: Other ships of the Flotilla were retained in the Mediterranean


June                        Resumed Flotilla duties on completion of refit.

                1st           Took passage to UK to prepare for foreign service.

                                On arrival taken in hand for further refit in commercial shipyard at Royal Albert Docks, London.


August                  Requirement for foreign service and refit cancelled 


P o s t W a r N o t e s


HMS EXMOOR (ii) Paid off and reduced to Reserve status at Portsmouth in November 1945. This ship remained laid-up there and placed on the Sales List in 1953. Sold to Denmark she was renamed VELDEMAR SEJR during Danish naval service .In 1962 she was placed on the Disposal List and sold for demolition locally in 1966.


revised 3/3/08


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