Allied Warships

HMS Northern Spray (FY 129)

ASW Trawler

Photo courtesy of Lancashire County Council

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeASW Trawler
Class[No specific class] 
PennantFY 129 
Built byDeschimag (Bremerhaven, Germany) 
Laid down 
CommissionedSep 1939 
End service 
Loss position66° 29'N, 23° 06'W

Completed in 1936.
Taken over by the Admiralty in August 1939.
Displacement: 655 tons.
Armament: 1 4" gun.

Returned to her owner in September 1945.
Wrecked of the north-east coast of Iceland in position 66.29'N, 23.06'W on 23 October 1963.


Hit by U-boat
Damaged on 30 Oct 1942 by unknown ().

U-boat AttackSee our U-boat attack entry for the HMS Northern Spray

Commands listed for HMS Northern Spray (FY 129)

Please note that we're still working on this section.

1Lt.Cdr. Alan Douglas Bruford, RNVR22 Sep 19391 Jan 1940
2Lt.Cdr. Dermod James Boris Jewitt, RN1 Jan 19401 Jul 1940
3Lt. Hugh Parker Crail, RNR1 Jul 1940Apr 1941
4T/Lt. Geoffrey Thomas Gilbert, RNVRApr 1941Dec 1942
5Lt. Francis Arthur John Downer, RNRDec 194212 Nov 1943
6T/Lt. Richard Charles Lees, RNR12 Nov 194323 Nov 1943
7Lt. Francis Arthur John Downer, RNR23 Nov 1943Nov 1944
8T/Lt. Geoffrey John Younghusband Thorpe, RNVRNov 1944

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Notable events involving Northern Spray include:

16 Jul 1940
HMS Tigris (Lt.Cdr. H.F. Bone, RN) departed from Rothesay for her 1st war patrol, escorted by HMS Northern Spray (Lt. H.P. Crail, RNR) until 2140/17. She was ordered to patrol in the Bay of Biscay. (1)

8 Feb 1941
HMS H 44 (Lt. A.R. Hezlet, RN) departed Rothesay for Londonderry. She was escorted by HMS Northern Spray (Lt. H.P. Crail, RNR). (2)

19 Feb 1941
HMS H 44 (Lt. A.R. Hezlet, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Northern Spray (Lt. H.P. Crail, RNR) and HMS Petunia (Lt.Cdr. G.V. Legassick, RNR). (2)

30 Nov 1941
HMS H 50 (Lt. E.T. Stanley, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Rochester (Cdr.(Retd.) C.B. Allen, RN), HMS Northern Spray (T/Lt. G.T. Gilbert, RNVR), HMS Leith (Lt.Cdr. E.C. Hulton, RN) and HMS Newport. (3)

28 Feb 1942
HrMs O 10 (Lt. Baron D.T. Mackay, RNN) participated in A/S exercises off Lough Foyle together with HMS Northern Spray (T/Lt. G.T. Gilbert, RNVR), HMS Saladin (Lt.Cdr. G.V. Legassick, RNR) and HMS Veteran (Cdr. W.E.J. Eames, DSC, RN). (4)

4 May 1943
HMS Northern Spray (Lt. F.A.J. Downer, DSC, RNR) was part of the escort of convoy ONS-5. At about 2000hours, U-707 surfaced after letting the convoy pass overhead, and fired a salvo of three torpedoes, hitting British merchant North Britain. Northern Spray hurried to assist, but the merchant sunk in 69 seconds, and could only pick up 11 survivors. Later on, U-628 was the attacker. After weaving unseen past the escorts, she fired a salvo of torpedoes aimed at five targets, but scored only one hit, at the British merchant Harbury. As she was settling by the stern, the skipper (Cpt. W.E. Cook) gave the order to abandon ship, and it was again Northern Spray that came to the rescue, picking up 42 survivors (7 were missing). Later, U-264 took over in attack, and hit two ships: The American West Maximus (5.561 ton), and British Harperly. Northern Spray rescued 56 survivors from lifeboats of the former (4 crewmen were missing), and 38 from the second. The by then overcrowded Northern Spray was ordered to disengage from the convoy and make for St. John's, which she did safely on May 8th. (5)

1 Dec 1944
HMS Truculent (Lt. E.C. Croswell, DSC, RN) departed from Scapa Flow with her escort HMS Northern Spray (T/Lt. G.J.Y. Thorpe, RNVR).

After a few hours Northern Spray reports that her Asdic is out of commission and both ships returned to Scapa Flow. (6)

12 Dec 1944
HMS Truculent (Lt. E.C. Croswell, DSC, RN) and her escort HMS Northern Spray (T/Lt. G.J.Y. Thorpe, RNVR) arrive at St. John's, Canada. En-route damage was done to both ships in very heavy weather. (6)


  1. ADM 199/1845
  2. ADM 173/16780
  3. ADM 173/16795
  4. File (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  5. Personal communication
  6. ADM 173/18993

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

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