HMS Virago (R75)

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HMS Virago 1943 IWM FL 9578.jpg
Virago at anchor on the River Tyne, October 1943
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Virago
Ordered: 1 September 1941
Builder: Swan Hunter, Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom
Laid down: 16 February 1942
Launched: 4 February 1943
Commissioned: 5 November 1943
Decommissioned: 1963
Identification: pennant number R75/F76
Honours and
  • Arctic 1943-44
  • North Cape 1943
  • Normandy 1944
  • Malaya 1945
  • Burma 1945
Fate: Scrapped 4 June 1965
General characteristics
Class and type: V-class destroyer

HMS Virago was a V-class destroyer of the British Royal Navy that saw service during World War II. She was later converted into a Type 15 fast anti-submarine frigate, with the new pennant number F76.

Second World War service[edit]

Arctic convoys[edit]

In addition to escorting the perilous Arctic convoys during 1943-44, Virago participated with other British destroyers in the Battle of North Cape on 26 December 1943, where her torpedoes sank the badly beaten German battleship Scharnhorst, following a fierce fight between the Germans and the battleship Duke of York.

Normandy landings[edit]

During the invasion of Normandy on 6 June 1944 she fired on German positions behind Lion-sur-Mer on Sword Beach, and later gave cover fire for troops advancing inland.

Far East[edit]

Transferred to the Eastern Fleet in early 1945. On 26 March 1945 she, along with the destroyers Saumarez, Volage, and Vigilant, intercepted a Japanese supply convoy east of Khota Andaman, Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean. She and Vigilant sank the Japanese submarine chaser CH-34.

She patrolled the Malacca Strait and supported Operation Dracula off the coast of Burma in late April 1945. Virago subsequently participated in the Battle of the Malacca Strait with Saumarez, Verulam, Venus and Vigilant which culminated in the sinking of the Japanese heavy cruiser Haguro on 16 May 1945. This was a textbook destroyer night action, and was the last naval gun battle of the Second World War. Virago participated in preparations for Operation Zipper (the invasion of Malaya) in July/August 1945, and its eventual execution as a reoccupation manoeuvre in September 1945 following the surrender of Japan. Based in Hong Kong with the British Pacific Fleet after VJ day, Virago returned to Chatham, Kent in December 1945.

Throughout her wartime commission, Virago was under the command of Lt. Cdr. Archibald John Ramsay White (1910-1991).

Post War service[edit]

Between 1946 and 1949 Virago was part of the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla, based in the Mediterranean. In 1946, Virago and Venus participated in the rescue of crew from the British tanker Empire Cross, which caught fire, exploded and sank at Haifa, Palestine,[1] with the loss of up to 25 lives.[2]

Between 1949 and 1951 she was held in reserve at Chatham Dockyard.[3] Between 1951 and 1953 she was converted to a Type 15 frigate at Chatham Dockyard. On re-commissioning in 1953 she became part of the 6th Frigate Squadron and in that year took part in the Fleet Review to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.[4]

Between 1955 and 1960 she was held in reserve at Chatham Dockyard. Between 1962 and 1963 she was part of the Dartmouth Training Squadron.

Decommissioning and disposal[edit]

Virago was decommissioned in 1963 and held in reserve at Devonport. She arrived in Faslane for breaking up in June 1965.


  1. ^ Mitchell, W.H.; Sawyer, L.A. (1995). The Empire Ships. London, New York, Hamburg, Hong Kong: Lloyd's of London Press Ltd. p. not cited. ISBN 1-85044-275-4. 
  2. ^ "Haifa Tanker Explosion". The Times (50521). London. 5 August 1946. col E, p. 3. 
  3. ^ Critchley, Mike (1982). British Warships Since 1945: Part 3: Destroyers. Liskeard, UK: Maritime Books. p. 70. ISBN 0-9506323-9-2. 
  4. ^ Souvenir Programme, Coronation Review of the Fleet, Spithead, 15th June 1953, HMSO, Gale and Polden

"Japanese Sub Chasers". Retrieved 26 March 2014. 


External links[edit]