Allied Warships

HMS Wastwater (FY 239)

ASW Whaler of the Lake class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeASW Whaler
PennantFY 239 
Built bySmith's Dock Co., Ltd. (South Bank-on-Tees, U.K.) 
Laid down7 Jul 1939 
Launched31 Aug 1939 
Commissioned7 Nov 1939 
End service 
HistorySold in May 1946.

Former nameHMS Grassmere, Kos XXVIII

Commands listed for HMS Wastwater (FY 239)

Please note that we're still working on this section
and that we only list Commanding Officers for the duration of the Second World War.

1Lt. John Jackson, RNRlate 193914 Feb 1940
2T/Lt. William Wilkinson White, RNR14 Feb 1940late 1940
3T/Lt. Alasatair Cameron Munro, RNVRlate 194012 Feb 1941
4T/Lt. Robert Edwards, RNVR12 Feb 1941Aug 1941
5T/Lt. John Henry Louis May, OBE, RNVRAug 1941Apr 1943
6T/Lt. William John Lewis Storey, RNVRApr 194313 Jul 1945
7T/Lt. Andrew Miller Anderson, RNVR13 Jul 1945late 1945

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Notable events involving Wastwater include:

22 Jan 1941
HMS Cachalot (Cdr. J.D. Luce, DSO, RN) departed Holy Loch for her 8th war patrol. She was ordered to lay a minefield off Bud, Norway.

She was escorted north by HMS La Capricieuse (Lt.Cdr. S.A. Jones, RNR) until 1400/23 when HMS Wastwater (T/Lt. A.C. Munro, RNVR) took over the escort until 0900/24.

As no log for this period is available no map can be displayed. (1)

28 Jan 1941
At 1300 hours HMS Cachalot (Cdr. J.D. Luce, DSO, RN) made rendez-vous off Yell Sound, Shetland Islands with her escort HMS Wastwater (T/Lt. A.C. Munro, RNVR). They then proceeded towards Holy Loch. At 0900/29 HMS Cutty Sark (Cdr.(Retd.) R.H. Mack, RN) took over the escort. (1)

27 Jul 1941

Operation FB.

' Force A ', made up of the light cruisers HMS Nigeria (Capt. J.G.L. Dundas, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral P.L. Vian, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, RN) and the destroyers HMS Tartar (Cdr. L.P. Skipwith, RN) and HMS Punjabi (Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Seidisfjord, Iceland where they arrived on the 29th.

They departed Seidisfjord later on the same day for Isfjord, Spitsbergen.

They arrived at Spitsbergen on 31 July 1941 with HMS Nigeria and HMS Tartar entering Advent Fjord and HMS Aurora and HMS Punjabi proceeding up the Gronfjord.

At Spitsbergen all ships fuelled on 1 August 1941 from the RFA tanker Oligarch (6894 GRT, built 1918) which had arrived there escorted by the destroyer ORP Garland (Lt.Cdr. K.F. Namiesniowski) and the A/S whalers HMS Sealyham (T/Lt. C.E. Jefferson, RNR) and HMS Wastwater (T/Lt. R. Edwards, RNVR). This fuelling group then departed for Seidisfjord taking the Norwegian merchant vessel Dagny I (1392 GRT, built 1916) with them.

At Spitsbergen Lt. Tamber of the Norwegian Navy was landed to assume the role of Military Governor and to take over the W/T station.

No enemy opposition was encountered.

In the afternoon and early evening of 2 August 1941, ' Force A ' landed a party at Bear Island on 2 August to demolish the W/T station and embark four Norwegian operators.

Around 1330B/3, 'Force A ' joined the ' Oligarch ' group.

Around 1600B/3, the Dagny I parted company to proceed direct to the U.K. escorted by HMS Wastwater.

During the night of 3/4 August , HMS Tartar and HMS Punjabi fuelled from the Oligarch.

Around noon on the 4th HMS Aurora also fuelled from the Oligarch on completion of which the ' Oligarch ' group parted company to proceed to Seidisfjord.

' Force A ' then proceeded on an anti-shipping sweep of northern Norway but they were sighted by German aircraft around 1600B/5. With the element of surprise now gone the operation was abandoned and course was set to return to Scapa Flow where ' Force A ' arrived around 1645B/7.


2 Jan 1942

Convoy PQ 7B.

This convoy departed Hvalfjord, Iceland on 31 December 1941 for Murmansk where it arrived on 11 January 1942.

The convoy was made up of the merchant vessels; Aneroid (Panamanian, 5074 GRT, built 1917), Botavon (British, 5848 GRT, built 1912), Chernyshevski (Russian, 3588 GRT, built 1919), Empire Activity (British, 5335 GRT, built 1919), Empire Halley (British, 7168 GRT, built 1941), Empire Howard (British, 6985 GRT, built 1941), Empire Redshank (British, 6615 GRT, built 1919), Jutland (British, 6153 GRT, built 1928) and Reigh Count (Panamanian, 4657 GRT, built 1907).

On departure from Hvalfjord the convoy was escorted by the A/S trawler HMS Cape Argona (T/Lt. R.G. Wallace, RNR) and the A/S whaler HMS Wastwater (T/Lt. J.H.L. May, OBE, RNVR).

On 4 January 1942 the destroyers HMS Tartar (Cdr. L.P. Skipwith, RN) and HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSC and Bar, RN) were to join the convoy escort and take over from the two escorting trawlers / whalers. They had departed Seidisfjord at 1350N/2.

Around 1715N/2, the heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland (Capt. A.H. Maxwell-Hyslop, AM, RN) departed Seidisfjord to provide close cover for the convoy. She and the two destroyers were however unable to find it due to the frequent course changes of the convoy due to the ice conditions and the possibility of enemy activity.

HMS Cumberland encountered HMS Tartar and HMS Icarus at 1300Z/4 and they then proceeded in company along the expected convoy track. but they could not find it. The convoy therefore had to continue unescorted after the two trawlers / whalers had detached on the 4th.

The destroyers parted company at 0300C/10.

HMS Cumberland finally sighted the convoy shortly before 1000C/10 but she did not join it and proceeded ahead of it to Murmansk.

The convoy arrived at Murmansk on the 11th.


  1. ADM 199/1827
  2. ADM 53/113676 + ADM 53/113677 + ADM 53/114798 + ADM 53/114799 + ADM 199/396

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

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