HMS Forester (H74)
Forester in 1942
|Builder:||J. Samuel White, Cowes|
|Laid down:||15 May 1933|
|Launched:||28 June 1934|
|Completed:||19 April 1935|
|Commissioned:||29 March 1935|
|Motto:||Audax potentes caedo
("Boldly I cut down the mighty")
|Battle honours :
Malta Convoys 1941
English Channel 1944
|Fate:||Sold for scrapping, January 1946|
|Badge:||On a Field Green crossed woodman's axes Proper|
|Class & type:||F-class destroyer|
|Displacement:||1,405 long tons (1,428 t) standard
1,940 long tons (1,970 t) deep
|Length:||329 ft (100 m) o/a|
|Beam:||33 ft 3 in (10.13 m)|
|Draught:||10 ft 10 in (3.30 m)|
|Propulsion:||3 × Admiralty 3-drum water tube boilers
Parsons geared steam turbines
38,000 shp (28,000 kW)
|Speed:||35.5 knots (65.7 km/h; 40.9 mph)|
|Range:||6,350 nmi (11,760 km; 7,310 mi) at 15 kn (28 km/h; 17 mph)
1,275 nmi (2,361 km; 1,467 mi) at 35.5 kn (65.7 km/h; 40.9 mph)
|Armament:||4 × QF 4.7 inch (120 mm) Mk.IX/L45 dual purpose guns, single mounts CP Mk.XVII
8 × Vickers .50 machine guns, quad mounts Mk.I (2×4)
8 × 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes (4×2)
1 × 20-round depth charge rack
|Part of||4th Destroyer Flotilla
8th Destroyer Flotilla
1st Canadian Escort Group
115th Escort Group
|Commanders||Lt. Cdr Miles A.G. Child
Lt. Cdr. Edward B. Tancock
Lt. Cdr. George P. Huddart
Lt. Jack Bitmead
Lt. Cdr. Robert A. Fell
Lt. Cdr. James A. Burnett
Cdr. George W. Gregorie
Lt. David C. Beatty
Lt. Cdr. Peter R. Ward
A/Lt. Cdr. Louis J.H. Gamble
|Operations||2nd Battle of Narvik
Attack on Mers-el-Kébir
Battle of Cape Spartivento
|Victories||U-27 (20 September 1939)
U-138 (18 June 1941)
U-845 (10 March 1944)
U-413 (20 August 1944)
HMS Forester was an F-class destroyer of the British Navy, commissioned in 1935, that saw service in Norway, the Mediterranean, on Russian and Atlantic Convoys, and during the Normandy landings during World War II before being sold for scrap in early 1946.
The ship was built by J. Samuel White at Cowes under the 1932 Naval Programme. She was laid down on 15 May 1933, launched on 28 June 1934, as the eleventh ship to carry the name, and completed on 19 April 1935. The price of the build, excluding Admiralty supplied equipment such as armaments and communications sets was £284,898.
Pre-war service, 1935–1939
After being commissioned for service in April 1935 Forester joined the 4th Destroyer Flotilla of the Home Fleet in June. In September Forester and Fame were sent to the Mediterranean Sea as reinforcements during the Abyssinian crisis. In February 1936 she took part in the annual joint exercises at Gibraltar with ships of the Home and Mediterranean Fleets, and in March returned to home waters to resume service with the Flotilla. In June 1937 she took part in the Coronation Fleet Review at Spithead for George VI. Forester remained in service with the Home Fleet taking part in fleet exercises and visits programmes, and annual joint exercises at Gibraltar. In April 1939 the 4th Destroyer Flotilla was renumbered the 8th Destroyer Flotilla.
On 7 April she formed part of the escort, with three other destroyers and the cruiser Aurora, to Convoy NP1 taking troops to Norway as part of Plan R 4. The British invasion plan was pre-empted by the German invasion on 9 April.
Forester remained with the 8th Flotilla in the western Mediterranean until late 1941, seeing action in numerous operations to deliver troops and equipment, particularly aircraft, to the besieged island of Malta, and in attacks on Italian bases. In November, during a convoy to Malta (Operation Collar), the ship took part in the brief and inconclusive engagement with Italian ships in the battle of Cape Spartivento.
In early 1941 Forester was temporarily assigned to Atlantic convoy defence duty based at Freetown, Sierra Leone, and in May joined the search for the German battleship Bismarck before it was eventually tracked down and sunk. In June, while on anti-submarine patrol west of Gibraltar, she participated in the sinking of U-138, and later in the interception of the German supply ship Alstertor. In July 1941, during a Malta supply convoy "Operation Substance", Forester rescued survivors from Fearless, which had been attacked by Italian torpedo-bombers, and then sank the wrecked and burning ship with torpedoes. At the end of October 1941 Forester was transferred back to the Freetown Escort Force for Atlantic convoy defence duties, and returned to the UK at the end of November to refit and be converted to an anti-submarine escort destroyer.
Russian convoys, 1942
Forester returned to duty on 11 April 1942, when she formed part of the escort to Russian Convoy PQ 14 to Murmansk. On the 18th she was detached from PQ 14 to intercept a possible attack by German destroyers based at Kirkenes. In the event, the Germans were forced back by bad weather. On the 28th Forester joined the escort of returning Convoy QP 11, and two days later, when the cruiser Edinburgh was torpedoed, she assisted in attempts to save her. On 1 May the crippled cruiser and its escorts were attacked by the German destroyers Z24, Z25 and Z7 Hermann Schoemann. Forester attempted to attack Z25 with torpedoes, but was hit by shells and disabled. Twelve crewmen were killed, including the captain, and nine were wounded. The next day Edinburgh was sunk by Foresight. Forester limped back to Murmansk to make temporary repairs to allow her to return to the UK. She sailed on the 13th with the destroyers Foresight, Somali and Matchless as escort to the cruiser Trinidad, which had also suffered damage in the action with the German destroyers. The next day the ships came under heavy air attack, and Trinidad sustained further damage. Forester took off the wounded and other survivors, and Trinidad was sunk by Matchless. Forester arrived at Scapa Flow on the 18th and immediately took passage to a shipyard on the Tyne for repairs. Her commander throughout this drama was Lt. Jack Bitmead aged 21, all the senior officers having been killed. Bitmead was awarded the DSO and given two years' seniority. In October Forester rejoined the Flotilla for further deployment with Russian convoys. In April 1943 she was refitted at Leith, and additional close range AA armament was installed.
Atlantic convoys, 1943–1944
In June 1943 Forester joined the 1st Canadian Escort Group for Atlantic convoy duty, becoming Group Leader in March 1944. On 10 March 1944, while escorting Convoy SC 154, Forester, along with St. Laurent, Swansea and Owen Sound sank the German submarine U-845. Forty-five survivors were rescued.
Normandy and escort duty, 1944–1945
Convoy defence and patrols in the Channel continued into August, and on the 20th Forester, Wensleydale and Vidette sank the U-413 off Beachy Head. The next day she engaged and drove off E-boats while defending a Channel coastal convoy with the destroyers Melbreak and Watchman. In October and November her Group was deployed for convoy defence while based at Derry.
Decommissioning and disposal
Forester was paid off in September 1945 and reduced to the Reserve at Dartmouth on 2 November. She was placed on the Disposal List and sold for breaking up in January 1946. The ship arrived at Rosyth for breaking-up on 26 February that year.
- Lieutenant Commander Miles Ambrose Gregory Child, RN (23 April 1935–c. February 1937)
- Unknown (February 1937–January 1939)
- Lieutenant Commander Edward Bernard Tancock, RN (31 January 1939–January 1942)
- Lieutenant Commander George Pepys Huddart, RN (January 1942–KIA 1 May 1942)
- Lieutenant Jack Bitmead, RN (2–20 May 1942)
- Lieutenant Commander Robert Augustus Fell, RN (20 May 1942–Mid-1942)
- Lieutenant Jack Bitmead, DSO, RN (Mid-1942–4 August 1942)
- Lieutenant Commander James Arbouin Burnett, RN (4 August 1942–21 May 1944)
- Commander George Windsor Gregorie, RD, RNR (21 May–9 July 1944)
- Lieutenant David Creagh Beatty, RN (9 July 1944–17 April 1945)
- Lieutenant Commander Peter Ronald Ward, RN (17 April–6 June 1945)
- Acting-Lieutenant Commander Louis John Hilary Gamble, RN (6 June–July 1945)
- English, pp. 75–76
- Colledge, p. 130
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