HMS Woodpecker (U 08)
Sloop of the Modified Black Swan class
|Navy||The Royal Navy|
|Class||Modified Black Swan|
|Built by||William Denny & Brothers (Dumbarton, Scotland)|
|Ordered||8 Sep 1939|
|Laid down||23 Feb 1941|
|Launched||29 Jun 1942|
|Commissioned||14 Dec 1942|
|Lost||27 Feb 1944|
|Loss position||48° 49'N, 22° 11'W|
HMS Woodpecker (Cdr. Henry Leslie Pryse, RNR) was torpedoed by the German submarine U-256 on 20 February 1944 in the North Atlantic in position 48º49'N, 22º11'W. Foundered while under tow to port on 27 February 1944.
Hit by U-boat
|U-boat Attack||See our U-boat attack entry for the HMS Woodpecker|
Commands listed for HMS Woodpecker (U 08)
Please note that we're still working on this section.
|1||Lt.Cdr. (emergency) Rowland Etienne Sinclair Hugonin, DSC, RN||16 Nov 1942||6 Oct 1943|
|2||Lt.Cdr. Henry Leslie Pryse, RNR||6 Oct 1943||27 Feb 1944|
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Notable events involving Woodpecker include:
30 Jan 1943
HMS H 44 (Lt. I.S. McIntosh, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Woodpecker (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) R.E.S. Hugonin, DSC, RN), HMS Alisma (Lt.Cdr. M.G. Rose, RANVR), HMS Tay (Lt.Cdr. R.E. Sherwood, RNR) and HMS Jonquil (T/Lt. R.W. Tretheway, RNR). (1)
16 Mar 1943
Combined convoy WS 28 / KMS 11.
This combined convoy was formed off Oversay on 16 March 1943. The convoy was divided into convoys WS 28 and KMS 11 at sea on 21 March 1943.
The combined convoy was made up of the following (troop) transports; Banfora (British, 9472 GRT, built 191), Brittanic (British, 26943 GRT, built 1930), Cuba (British, 11420 GRT, built 1923), Duchess of Bedford (British, 20123 GRT, built 1928), Empire Might (British, 9209 GRT, built 1942), Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (Dutch, 19429 GRT, built 1930), Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931), Orion (23371 GRT, built 1935), Ormonde (British, 14982 GRT, built 1917), Orontes (British, 20097 GRT, built 1925), Otranto (British, 20026 GRT, built 1925), Nea Hellas (British, 16991 GRT, built 1922), Perthshire (British, 10496 GRT, built 1936), Rangitata (British, 16737 GRT, built 1929), Reina del Pacifico (17702 GRT, built 1931), Sobieski (Polish, 11030 GRT, built 1939), Strathnaver (British, 22283 GRT, built 1931), Tegelberg (British, 10496 GRT, built 1936), Waipawa (British, 12436 GRT, built 1934), Winchester Castle (British, 20012 GRT, built 1930) and Windsor Castle (British, 19141 GRT, built 1922).
Also the naval auxiliaries HMS Bulolo (Capt.(Retd.) R.L. Hamer, RN), HMS Keren (A/Cdr. S.E. Crewe-Read, RN), HMS Largs (Cdr. E.A. Divers, RNR) and HMS Ulster Monarch (Lt.Cdr. N.A.F. Kingscote, RNR) were part of the convoy.
On assembly off Oversay the following escorts were with the convoy; sloops HMS Wren (Lt.Cdr. R.M. Aubrey, RN, with the S.O. 2nd Escort Group on board, Capt. F.J. Walker, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Woodpecker (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) R.E.S. Hugonin, DSC, RN), destroyer HMS Douglas (Lt.Cdr. K.H.J.L. Phibbs, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Badsworth (Lt. G.T.S. Gray, DSC, RN), HMS Eggesford (Lt.Cdr. D.W. Austin, RN), HMS Whaddon (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN), HMS Goathland (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Pumphrey, RN, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) and ORP Krakowiak (Lt.Cdr. W. Maracewicz, ORP).
On 21 March the convoy split up into two sections, KMF 11, made up of Banfora, Cuba, Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, Ormonde, Orion, Nea Hellas, Rangitata, Windsor Castle and HMS Ulster Monarch proceeded to Algiers where it arrived on 23 March 1943 escorted by the original escort minus HMS Douglas which put into Gibraltar on 22 March with damage to her port propeller. After inspection it was apparent that she was able to continue but she was not to exceed 22 knots so it was decided that she could rejoin the convoy. All five escort destroyers also put into Gibraltar to fuel but departed again later the same day to rejoin the convoy. HMS Ulster Monarch also put into Gibraltar.
At 0254/23, the Windsor Castle was torpedoed by a German He.111 from I/KG 26 in position 37°28'N, 01°10'E. The passengers (troops) were taken off by HMS Wren, HMS Eggesford and HMS Whaddon. The last two ships reported to be dangerously overloaded with survivors.
Also the destroyer HMS Loyal (Lt.Cdr. H.E.F. Tweedie, DSC, RN) and escort destroyer HMS Lamerton (Lt.Cdr. C.R. Purse, DSC and Bar, RN), which were on A/S patrol off Algiers were ordered to proceed to the convoy. Also the destroyer HMS Eskimo (Capt. J.W.M. Eaton, DSO, DSC, RN) and escort destroyers HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN) and HMS Farndale (Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN) were ordered to do the same sailing from Oran.
At 1027/3, it was reported that Windsor Castle was abandoned and slowly sinking and the HMS Loyal had taken off the crew. HMS Whaddon and HMS Eggesford were proceeding to Algiers covered by HMS Douglas.
At 1621/3, Windsor Castle was still afloat and HMS Farndale was ettempting to take her in tow. The ship however sank suddenly at 1724/3. HMS Eskimo, HMS Loyal, HMS Calpe, HMS Farndale, Hengist and Restive then proceeded to Oran while HMS Lamerton and Salvestor proceeded to Algiers.
WS 28, made up of Brittanic, Duchess of Bedford, Empire Might, Monarch of Bermuda, Orontes, Otranto, Perthshire, Reina del Pacifico, Sobieski, Strathnaver, Tegelberg, Waipawa, Winchester Castle, HMS Bulolo, HMS Keren and HMS Largs.
To escort these ships the destroyers HMS Malcolm (Cdr. J.M. Money, RN) and HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. S.R.J. Woods, RNR) sailed from Casablanca on 20 March and the destroyers HMS Wolverine (Lt. I.M. Clegg, RN) and HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Farrington, RN) sailed from Gibraltar also on 20 March. They joined the convoy in the morning of March 21st after which the convoy split up.
Another destroyer, HMS Ashanti (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN), departed Gibraltar on 21 March and she joined the convoy later the same day.
On 22 March the transport Empire Might reported a fire in her stokehold rendering her immobile. She was then towed to Dakar by HMS Ashanti.
The remainder of convoy WS 28 arrived at Freetown on 27 March 1943.
Convoy WS 28 departed Freetown for South Africa on 30 March 1943.
The composition of the convoy was the same on departed as in which it had arrived at Freetown three days earlier.
Escort was provided on departure from Freetown by the light cruiser HMS Kenya (Capt. D.P. Evans, RN), destroyers HMS Redoubt (Lt.Cdr. N.E.G. Ropner, DSO, RN), HMS Quadrant, HMS Malcolm, HMS Witch and HMS Wolverine.
At 2359Z/30, HMS Ulster Monarch overtook and joined the convoy coming from Freetown.
At 0600A/4, HMS Redoubt and HMS Quadrant parted company with the convoy to refuel at Pointe Noire. They rejoined the convoy at 1212B/5.
At 1300B/5, HMS Malcolm, HMS Witch and HMS Wolverine were detached.
On the 11th the convoy split up, Britannic, Duchess of Bedford, Monarch of Bermuda, Tegelberg, Waipawa and Winchester Castle went to Capetown apparently escorted by HMS Redoubt and HMS Relentless. HMS Largs and HMS Ulster Monarch went to Simonstown, as did HMS Kenya and HMS Quadrant and HMS Racehorce.
The destroyers HMS Quilliam (Capt. S.H. Carlill, DSO, RN), HMS Rotherham (Lt. J.R.L. Moore, RN) and HMS Foxhound (Cdr. C.J. Wynne-Edwards, DSC and Bar, RN) joined the remainder of the convoy (Orontes, Otranto, Perthshire, Reina del Pacifico, Sobieski, Strathnaver, HMS Bulolo and HMS Keren) which arrived at Durban on 14 April 1943.
On 15 April the 'Capetown section' of the convoy departed from there, it was made up of the same ships as that had arrived at Capetown but apparently without the Britannic. HMS Largs joined the convoy off Simonstown. Escort was provided by HMS Kenya, HMS Quadrant, HMS Redoubt and HMS Relentless.
Around noon on the 18th the 'Capetown section' joined up with the 'Durban section' which had departed from there escorted by HMAS Napier (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Green, DSC, RAN) and HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, RN) which also joined the convoy as escorts. HMS Quadrant parted company and proceeded to Durban.
At 2000C/20, the destroyers parted company to return to Aden.
At 1015D/24, the armed merchant cruisers HMS Canton ( A/Cdr.(Retd.) R.J.E. Daintree, RN) and HMS Chitral (A/Capt.(Retd.) G.W. Hoare-Smith, RN) joined the convoy to take over the escort. They had sailed from Kilindini on 22 April. HMS Kenya parted company with the convoy at noon and set course for Kilindini where she arrived on 25 April to join the Eastern Fleet.
At 2300D/27, HMS Chitral parted company with the convoy following which she proceeded to Bombay where she arrived on 1 May 1943.
On 30 April 1943 the convoy was dispersed off Aden. HMS Canton arrived at Aden later on the same day.
24 Jun 1943
German U-boat U-449 was sunk at 1600hrs on 24 June 1943 in the North Atlantic, north-west of Cape Ortegal, Spain, in position 45°00'N, 11°59'W, by depth charges from the British sloops HMS Wren (Lt.Cdr. R.M. Aubrey, RN), HMS Woodpecker (Lt.Cdr. R.E.S. Hugonin, DSC, RN), HMS Kite (Lt.Cdr. W.F.R. Segrave, RN) and HMS Wild Goose (Lt.Cdr. D.E.G. Wemyss, RN).
30 Jul 1943
German U-boat U-462 was sunk in the Bay of Biscay at position 45°33'N, 10°58'W.by a British Handley Page Halifax aircraft (Sqdn 502/S) and gunfire from the British sloops HMS Wren (Lt.Cdr. R.M. Aubrey, RN), HMS Kite (Lt.Cdr. W.F.R. Segrave, RN), HMS Woodpecker (Lt.Cdr. R.E.S. Hugonin, DSC, RN), HMS Wild Goose (Lt.Cdr. D.E.G. Wemyss, RN) and HMS Woodcock (Lt.Cdr. C. Gwinner, DSO, RN).
30 Jul 1943
German U-boat U-504 was sunk at 1543hrs on 30 July 1943 in the North Atlantic north-west of Cape Ortegal, Spain, in position 45°33'N, 10°56'W, by depth charges from the British Sloops HMS Kite (Lt.Cdr. W.F.R. Segrave, RN), HMS Woodpecker (Lt.Cdr. R.E.S. Hugonin, DSC, RN), HMS Wren (Lt.Cdr. R.M. Aubrey, RN) and HMS Wild Goose (Lt.Cdr. D.E.G. Wemyss, RN).
5 Jan 1944
HrMs O 10 (Lt.Cdr. A. van Altena, RNN(R)) participated in A/S exercises off Lough Foyle together with HMS Watchman (Lt.Cdr. G.H.D. Williams, RN), HMS Kenilworth Castle (Lt. J.J.Allon, RNR) and HMS Woodpecker (Cdr. H.L. Pryse, RNR). (2)
8 Feb 1944
German U-boat U-762 was sunk in the North Atlantic, in position 49°02'N, 16°58'W, by depth charges from the British sloops HMS Woodpecker (Cdr. H.L. Pryse, RNR) and HMS Wild Goose (Lt.Cdr. D.E.G. Wemyss, DSC, RN).
11 Feb 1944
German U-boat U-424 was sunk in the North Atlantic south-west of Ireland, in position 50°00'N, 18°14'W, by depth charges from the British sloops HMS Wild Goose (Lt.Cdr. D.E.G. Wemyss, DSC, RN) and HMS Woodpecker (Cdr. H.L. Pryse, RNR).
19 Feb 1944
German U-boat U-264 was sunk at 1707hrs on 19 February 1944 in the North Atlantic, in position 48°31'N, 22°05'W, by depth charges from the British sloops HMS Woodpecker (Cdr. H.L. Pryse, RNR) and HMS Starling (Capt. F.W. Walker, CB, DSO and Bar, RN).
- ADM 173/17812
- File 2.12.03.6384 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.
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