Allied Warships

HMS Charlestown (I 21)

Destroyer of the Town class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassTown 
PennantI 21 
Built byNewport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. (Newport News, Virginia, U.S.A.) 
Ordered 
Laid down5 Apr 1918 
Launched4 Jul 1918 
Commissioned23 Sep 1940 
End serviceDec 1944 
History

After completion USS Abbot cruised along the Atlantic coast, in the Gulf of Mexico, and in Cuban waters until going out of commission 5 July 1922 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

Recommissioned 17 June 1940, USS Abbot patrolled along the east coast for a brief time. She was decommissioned at Hailifax, Nova Scotia, 23 September 1940, and was transferred in the destroyer-land bases exchange to the British who renamed her HMS Charlestown.

HMS Charlestown. joined the 17th Destroyer Division and took part in minelaying operations from the west coast of, Scotland. Between assignments of' minelaying duty she assisted in the escort of convoys. Damaged in collision with the steamer Florizell off Harwich, England, during December 1944, she was reduced to reserve at Grangemouth, Scotland, and paid off from 15 January 1945. She was finally sold for scrap on 4 March 1947 at Sunderland.

HMS Charlestown is not listed as active unit in the April 1945 Navy List

 
Former nameUSS Abbot (DD 184)

Commands listed for HMS Charlestown (I 21)

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CommanderFromTo
1Lt.Cdr. Thomas Johnston, RN23 Sep 19403 Mar 1942
2Lt.Cdr. Norman Robins Murch, RN3 Mar 194230 Jan 1943
3Cdr. (retired) Charles William Vane Tempest Stewart Lepper, RN30 Jan 19431 Feb 1943
4Lt. William Frank Broughton Webb, DSC, RN1 Feb 194323 Sep 1943
5Lt.Cdr. Alfred Francis Colenso Gray, RD, RNR23 Sep 1943early 1945

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Notable events involving Charlestown include:


4 Feb 1941

Minelaying operation SN 7.

At 1830Z/4, the auxiliary minelayers Southern Prince (A/Capt. E.M.C. Barraclough, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.L. Burnett, OBE, RN), HMS Agamemnon (Capt. (Retd.) F. Ratsey, RN), HMS Menestheus (Capt. W.H.D. Friedberger, RN), HMS Port Quebec (Capt. (Retd.) E.C. Watson, RN) departed Port ZA (Loch Alsh) to lay Minefield SN 7. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Brighton (Cdr. (Retd.) C.W.V.T.S. Lepper, RN), HMS Charlestown (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN), HMS Lancaster (A/Cdr. N.H. Whatley, RN) and HMS St. Albans (Lt.Cdr. (Emgy.) S.G.C. Rawson, RN).

Around 2100Z/4, the battleship HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN) departed Scapa Flow to provide distant cover for the operation. She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN), HMS Echo (Cdr. S.H.K. Spurgeon, DSO, RAN), HMS Electra (Cdr. C.W. May, RN) and HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN). On leaving Scapa Flow they were joined by the light cruiser HMS Nigeria (Capt. J.G.L. Dundas, RN) which was to provide close cover for the auxiliary minelayers. HMS Nigeria was already at sea as she had been participating in exercises earlier on the day.

At 0845Z/5, HMS Nigeria parted company with HMS Rodney and her escorting destroyers.

At 1353Z/5, HMS Menestheus exploded a drifting mine in her port paravane which resulted in engine damage. She was unable to proceed and was taken in tow by HMS Agamemnon to return to Port ZA escorted by HMS Charleston and HMS St. Albans. They arrived at Loch Alsh around 1115Z/7.

Mines were laid on the 6th. The intended minefield was now only partially laid.

HMS Rodney, HMS Nigeria, HMS Inglefield, HMS Echo, HMS Electra and HMS Brilliant returned to Scapa Flow around 1530Z/7.

HMS Southern Prince, HMS Port Quebec, HMS Brighton and HMS Lancaster returned to Port ZA around 1730Z/7.

The minefield was completed in a later minelaying operation (SN 7B). (1)

17 Jun 1941
HrMs O 14 (Lt.Cdr. G. Quint, RNN(R)) conducted A/S exercises at / off Scapa Flow with HMS Charlestown (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN) and HNoMS Bath (Lt.Cdr. C.F.T. Melsom). (2)

25 Jul 1941
HrMs O 14 (Lt.Cdr. G. Quint, RNN(R)) conducted A/S exercises at / off Scapa Flow with HMS Punjabi (Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN), HMS Charlestown (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN), HMS Castleton (Cdr. (Retd.) F.H.E. Skyrme, RN) and HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, RN). (2)

30 Jul 1941
HMS Prince of Wales (Capt. C.H.J. Harcourt, RN) conducted exercises to the west of Scapa Flow. During these exercises she was escorted by the destroyers HMS Oribi (Lt.Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, DSO, RN), HMS Charlestown (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN) and HMS Castleton (Cdr. (Retd.) F.H.E. Skyrme, RN). (3)

30 Jul 1941
The battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN) and the armed merchant cruiser HMS Esperance Bay (Capt.(Retd.) G.S. Holden, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Castleton (Cdr.(Retd.) F.H.E. Skyrme, RN), HMS Charlestown (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, RN).

31 Jul 1941
HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN), HMS Esperance Bay (Capt.(Retd.) G.S. Holden, RN), HMS Castleton (Cdr.(Retd.) F.H.E. Skyrme, RN), HMS Charlestown (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN) and HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, RN) arrived at Rosyth.

2 Aug 1941
HrMs O 14 (Lt.Cdr. G. Quint, RNN(R)) conducted A/S exercises at / off Scapa Flow with HMS Oribi (Lt.Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, DSO, RN) and HMS Charlestown (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN). (2)

8 Nov 1941

Minelaying operation SN 83B.

Minelaying operation by the 1st Minelaying Squadron.

At 0810A/8, the auxiliary minelayers HMS Menestheus (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.L. Burnett, OBE, RN), HMS Port Quebec (Capt.(Retd.) E.C. Watson, RN) and the destroyers HMS Brighton (Cdr. (Retd.) C.W.V.T.S. Lepper, RN), HMS Charlestown (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN), HMS Newark (Lt.Cdr. R.H.W. Atkins, RN) and HMS Montrose (Lt.Cdr. W.J. Phipps, OBE, RN) departed Port Z.A. (Loch Alsh) to lay minefield SN 83B.

Cover for this minelaying operation was provided by the light cruiser HMS Kenya (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.M. Burrough, CB, RN) and the destroyers HMS Bedouin (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, OBE, RN) and HMS Intrepid (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Lewes, DSC, RN) which departed from Seidisfjord, Iceland around 1315Z/8.

The minefield made up of 933 mines, was laid between 1320Z/9 and 1408Z/9, along a line joining positions, 62°49'8"N, 09°52'5"W and 63°02'8"N, 10°37'0"W.

The minelayers laid as follows; HMS Menestheus 410 mines and HMS Port Quebec 550 mines.

Very bad weather was experienced. During the night from 9/10 November the weather got even worse and as a result of it the force split up. HMS Brighton experienced two temporary engine breakdowns and HMS Newark had to steer by hand for two days.

HMS Port Quebec and HMS Charlestown arrived at Port Z.A. at 0430A/12. HMS Menestheus followed at 0700A/12 and finally HMS Brighton and HMS Newark arrived at 1145A/12.

HMS Montrose had been ordered to return to Scapa Flow where she arrived around 0800A/12.

HMS Kenya, HMS Bedouin and HMS Intrepid remained at sea, patrolling in the Iceland - Faeroer gap until returning to Seidisfiord around 1100Z/12. (4)

13 Apr 1942
HMS P 511 (Lt. D.E.O. Watson, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Tobermory with HMS Charlestown (Lt.Cdr. N.R. Murch, RN) and HMS Drangey (Skr. W.J. Jones, RNR). (5)

14 Apr 1942
HMS P 511 (Lt. D.E.O. Watson, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Tobermory with HMS Charlestown (Lt.Cdr. N.R. Murch, RN) and HMS Stroma (Skr. J.S. Harper, RNR). (5)

25 Feb 1943
HrMs O 10 (Lt.Cdr. Baron D.T. Mackay, RNN) participated in A/S exercises off Tobermory together with HMS Itchen (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) C.E. Bridgman, DSO, RNR) and HMS Charlestown (Lt. W.F.B. Webb, DSC, RN). (6)

26 Feb 1943
HrMs O 10 (Lt.Cdr. Baron D.T. Mackay, RNN) participated in A/S exercises off Tobermory together with HMS Itchen (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) C.E. Bridgman, DSO, RNR) and HMS Charlestown (Lt. W.F.B. Webb, DSC, RN). (6)

5 Mar 1943
HMS Anson (Capt. H.R.G. Kinahan, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral B.A. Fraser, CB, KBE, RN), HMS Furious (Capt. G.T. Philip, DSC, RN), HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN), HMS Newfoundland (Capt. W.R. Slayter, DSC, RN), HMCS Athabascan (Cdr. G.R. Miles, DSO, OBE, RCN), HMS Rapid (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, DSO, RN), HMS Charlestown (Lt. W.F.B. Webb, DSC, RN) and FFS La Combattante (Lt.Cdr. A. Patou) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. (7)

12 May 1943
HMS Ultimatum (Lt. W.H. Kett, RNR) conducted A/S exercises off Scapa Flow with HMS Tumult (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), ORP Slazak (Lt.Cdr. R. Nalecz-Tyminski, ORP), HMS Charlestown (Lt. W.F.B. Webb, DSC, RN) and HMS Chiddingfold (Lt. T.M. Dorrien-Smith, RN). (8)

Media links


British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

Sources

  1. ADM 53/115026 + ADM 53/114794 + ADM 199/411
  2. File 2.12.03.6387 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  3. ADM 53/114890
  4. ADM 53/114497 + ADM 199/396 + ADM 199/399 + ADM 234/560 + ADM 234/561
  5. ADM 173/17493
  6. File 2.12.03.6381 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  7. ADM 53/118274
  8. ADM 173/18316

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.


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