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HMS Woolston was a W Class destroyer of the Royal Navy.[1] She served through two World Wars, surviving both of them.

HMS Woolston.jpg
HMS Woolston underway in April 1940 after her conversion to a long range convoy escort
Royal Navy EnsignUnited Kingdom
Class and type: W Class
Name: HMS Woolston
Builder: John I. Thornycroft & Company
Laid down: 25 April 1917
Launched: 27 January 1918
Commissioned: 28 June 1918
Decommissioned: August 1945
Motto: Quo majores ducunt: 'Where our forefathers lead we follow'
Honours and
  • ATLANTIC 1941
  • ARCTIC 1942
  • NORTH SEA 1941-43
  • SICILY 1943
Fate: Sold for scrapping on 18 February 1947
Badge: On a Field Black, a Roman galley, Silver.
General characteristics
Displacement: 1,120 tons standard
Length: 300 ft (91 m) o/a, 312 ft (95 m) p/p
Beam: 30 ft 6 in (9.30 m)
Draught: 10 ft 6 in (3.20 m)
Propulsion: 3 Yarrow type Water-tube boilers, Brown-Curtis steam turbines, 2 shafts, 30,000 shp
Speed: 36-knot (67 km/h)
Range: 320-370 tons oil, 3,500 nmi (6,500 km) at 15 knots (28 km/h), 900 nmi (1,700 km) at 32 knots (59 km/h)
Complement: 134


Construction, commissioning and early careerEdit

Woolston was ordered under the 10th Order of the 1916 - 17 Programme from the Woolston yards of John I. Thornycroft & Company. She was laid down on 25 April 1917, launched on 27 January 1918 and commissioned on 28 June 1918 under the command of Alexander Sholto Douglas.[2] She went on to serve briefly with the Atlantic Fleet during the First World War. She became part of the 4th Destroyer Flotilla in 1921 and transferred with the Flotilla to serve in the Mediterranean. She, along with a number of her sisters, were then reduced to the reserve. She was reactivated in 1938 having been selected for conversion into an anti-aircraft escort (or WAIR) at Chatham Dockyard.

Wartime careerEdit

Woolston was still under refit at Chatham on the outbreak of the Second World War. Around this time her pennant number was changed to L49, to match those used by escort destroyers. She spent October on post refit trials and then commissioned for service, joining the Nore Command in November to commence convoy defence duties in the English Channel and the North Sea. She continued these duties for the rest of 1939 and all of 1940. She was detached for a period in 1941 to cover Atlantic convoys as they passed through the Western Approaches. In February 1942 Woolston was reassigned to the Home Fleet and sailed to Scapa Flow. After a successful 'Warship Week' in March 1942 she was adopted by Congleton, Cheshire. In March she was one of a number of destroyers screening heavy fleet units covering the passage of the Arctic convoys PQ 12 and the returning PQ 8. Woolston then returned to the Nore Command and spent the rest of the year deploying in the North Sea. Woolston was part of the fleet that put to see in July 1942 in an attempt intercept the German battleship Tirpitz.[3]

She continued in these duties until May 1943, when she was assigned to cover military convoys passing through the Atlantic carrying troops and supplies for the allied invasion of Sicily. She sailed to the Clyde on 20 June and joined the outbound military convoy WS-31 on passage to Gibraltar. She and the other escorts were detached from the convoy on its arrival in Gibraltar on 26 June. Woolston then took passage to Bône in early July and was nominated to join the Eastern Support force in Escort Group V. She left Bône on 7 July as part of the military convoy KMF18 on passage to the beach head, and was detached on 9 July to refuel in Malta. She returned the next day to join the Escort Group in providing anti-aircraft defence of the anchorages off the beach head. On the successful completion of the landings Woolston returned to the Nore Command and spent the rest of 1943 on convoy defence duty in the North Sea. She remained at this task for the rest of the war.


Immediately after the end of the war Woolston escorted a number of minesweepers, engaged in clearing minefields prior to the re-occupation of Stavanger. She remained deployed in the North Sea until August 1945, supporting the military re-occupation of previously German held territories. She was then paid off and reduced to the reserve. Woolston was placed on the disposal list in 1946 and was sold to BISCO on 18 February 1947 to be broken up for scrap at Grangemouth. She was towed to the breaker’s yard on the Forth later that year.


  1. ^ Illustrated London News, 19 July 1919
  2. ^ "The Dreadnought Project". Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  3. ^ Jack Boore. WW2 People's War


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External linksEdit