Allied Warships

HMS Woolwich (F 80)

Destroyer Depot Ship

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer Depot Ship
Class[No specific class] 
PennantF 80 
Built byFairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. (Govan, Scotland) 
Laid down24 May 1933 
Launched20 Sep 1934 
CommissionedJun 1935 
End service 

Displacement: 8750 tons.
Lenght: 185m.
Armament: 4 4" AA guns.
Machinery: Geared turbines, 6500 SHP.
Speed: 15.25 knots.
Complement: 666 men.

Scrapped in 1962.


Commands listed for HMS Woolwich (F 80)

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.

1Capt. Edward Chicheley Thornton, DSC, RN11 Feb 193819 Sep 1940
2Capt. (retired) John Fawcett, RN19 Sep 194026 Jan 1942
3Cdr. Guy Robert Pilcher, RN26 Jan 19426 Jun 1942
4Capt. (retired) Lawrence Hodson Bayley, RN6 Jun 194224 Jul 1944
5Capt. (retired) William Bayard Hynes, DSO, RN24 Jul 194420 Sep 1945
6Capt. William Gronow Davis, DSC, RN20 Sep 19451 Feb 1946

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Notable events involving Woolwich include:

16 Jan 1940
Around 1530 hours, the damaged HMS Kelvin (Lt.Cdr. J.L. Machin, RN), arrived at Greenock.

Repairs by HMS Woolwich (Capt. E.C. Thornton, DSC, RN) were completed on 23 January 1940. (1)

3 Oct 1940

Convoy WS 3A (Slow).

This convoy departed Liverpool on 3 October 1940.

This convoy was made up of the following transport vessels; Clan Cameron (British, 7243 GRT, built 1937), Dorset (British, 10624 GRT, built 1934), Highland Brigade (British, 14134 GRT, built 1929), Oropesa (British, 14118 GRT, built 1920), Perthshire (British, 10496 GRT, built 1936) and Port Chalmers (British, 8535 GRT, built 1933).

Also the destroyer tender HMS Woolwich (Capt.(Retd.) J. Fawcett, RN) was with the convoy.

On departure from Liverpool the convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Harvester (Lt.Cdr. C.M. Thornton, RN), HMS Havelock (Lt.Cdr. E.H. Thomas, RN), HMS Highlander (Cdr. W.A. Dallmeyer, RN) and HMS Hurricane (Lt.Cdr. H.C. Simms, RN).

At 1315A/3, the destroyers HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN), HMS Viscount (Lt.Cdr. M.S. Townsend, OBE, DSC, RN) and HMS Versatile (Cdr.(Retd.) J.H. Jauncey, RN) joined coming from the Clyde.

Cover for the convoy was provided by the light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN) which had also departed the Clyde on the 3rd.

[For the moment we have no details regarding the exact movements of the destroyers. HMS Witherington, HMS Viscount and HMS Versatile arrived at Londonderry on 6 October. HMS Harvester, HMS Havelock and HMS Highlander arrived at Plymouth on 8 October. HMS Hurricane arrived at Greenock on the same day].

Around 1645N/9, HMS Sheffield parted company with the convoy to patrol off the Azores due to fear of a German invasion. She parted company after having been relieved by the heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN).

The convoy arrived at Freetown on 16 October 1940.


The convoy departed Freetown for South Africa on 17 October 1940.

Composition of the convoy was the same. Escort was still HMS Cumberland.

The convoy arrived at Capetown on 27 October 1940. HMS Cumberland then went on to Simonstown but she returned to Capetown the following day.


The convoy departed Capetown on 29 October 1940 still made up of the same transports with two additions; Erinpura (British, 5143 GRT, built 1911) and Khedive Ismail (British, 7290 GRT, built 1922).

HMS Woolwich did not sail with the convoy.

Escort was still provided by the heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland until she was relieved around 0700C/1 by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Carthage (Capt.(Retd.) B.O. Bell-Salter, RN).

The convoy merged in the morning of 3 November 1940 with convoy WS 3B (Fast). (2)

30 Nov 1940
The destroyer tender HMS Woolwich (Capt.(Retd.) J. Fawcett, RN) departed Port Said for Alexandria. She was escorted by the destroyers HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN) and HMS Diamond (Lt.Cdr. P.A. Cartwright, RN).

They arrived at Alexandria on 1 December 1940.

[It seems likely that HMS Woolwich was in convoy with the transports Cingalese Prince (British, 8474 GRT, built 1929) and City of Christchurch (British, 6009 GRT, built 1915) but we can't confirm it. These ships departed Port Said on 30 November and arrived at Alexandria on 1 December. In the logbook of HMS Woolwich is on 30 November an entry ' convoy formed single line ahead '.] (3)

20 Dec 1940
HMAS Vampire (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, DSO, RAN) and HMS Protector (Cdr. R.J. Gardner, RN) arrived at Alexandria.

HMAS Vampire then proceeded alongside HMS Woolwich (Capt.(Retd.) J. Fawcett, RN) for repairs to her starboard turbine. These lasted until 8 January 1941. In the meantime other repairs were also undertaken. (4)

28 Jun 1942
A convoy made up of the destroyer tender HMS Woolwich (Capt.(Retd.) L.H. Bayley, RN), repair ship HMS Resource (Capt.(Retd.) D.B. O’Connell, RN) and four transports, (this appears to be the City of Calcutta (British, 8063 GRT, built 1940), City of Edinburgh (British, 8036 GRT, built 1938), City of Lincoln (British, 8039 GRT, built 1938) and Llandovery Castle (British, 10609 GRT, 1925) departed Alexandria for Port Said (Suez Canal). They were escorted by the light cruiser HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO, DSC, RN), destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. A.L. Poland, CB, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN), HMS Javelin (Lt.Cdr. G.E. Fardell, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Aldenham (Lt. H.A. Stuart-Menteth, RN), HMS Beaufort (Lt.Cdr. S.O’G Roche, RN), HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, DSC, RN) and HMS Exmoor (Lt.Cdr. L.StG. Rich, RN).

On arrival at Port Said, in the afternoon of the 29th, the convoy entered the Suez Canal to proceed southwards while the escort entered Port Said harbour. (5)

4 Jul 1942
Destroyer HMS Kelvin (Cdr. M.S. Townsend, OBE, DSC and Bar, RN) arrived at Port Sudan. The destroyer depot ship HMS Woolwich (Capt.(Retd.) L.H. Bayley, RN) and repair ship HMS Resource (Capt.(Retd.) D.B. O’Connell, RN) had also just arrived there earlier in the day and HMS Kelvin needed repairs due to troubles with her boilers.

The damaged destroyer HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, DSC, RN) also arrived late on the day. (6)

1 Jan 1944
Around 0800C/1, the destroyer tender HMS Woolwich (Capt.(Retd.) L.H. Bayley, RN) departed Aden for Trincomalee. She was escorted by the destroyers HMAS Napier (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Green, DSC, RAN), HMAS Nizam (Cdr. C.H. Brooks, RAN) and the corvette Betony (Lt. N.B.J. Stapleton, RD, RNR).

On 4 January 1944, the first HMAS Napier and HMAS Nizam fuelled from HMS Woolwich.

On 9 January 1944, HMS Betony parted company and proceeded to Colombo arriving there later the same day.

HMS Woolwich, HMAS Napier and HMAS Nizam arrived at Trincomalee around 1830FG/10. (7)

18 Oct 1944
Rear-Admiral A.D. Read, CB, RN, transferred his flag from HMS Nigeria (Capt. H.A. King, DSO, RN) to HMS Woolwich (Capt.(Retd.) W.B. Hynes, DSO, RN).

HMS Nigeria then conducted exercises off Trincomalee. In the afternoon she conducted a RIX (rangefinding and inclination) excercise with the destroyers HMS Paladin (Lt.Cdr. M.C. Morris, RN) and HMS Pathfinder (Lt.Cdr. T.F. Hallifax, RN).

On return to harbour Rear-Admiral Read re-hoisted his flag in HMS Nigeria. (8)


  1. ADM 53/112519
  2. ADM 199/1136
  3. ADM 53/113481 + ADM 53/113482 + Report of proceedings of HMAS Waterhen for November 1940 + Report of proceedings of HMAS Waterhen for December 1940
  4. Report of proceedings of the 10th Destroyer Flotilla
  5. ADM 53/115910 + ADM 53/116547 + ADM 53/116783 + ADM 199/650
  6. ADM 199/2558
  7. ADM 53/120763
  8. ADM 53/120169

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

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