HMS Whitley (L23)

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Career (United Kingdom)
Class and type: Admiralty W class destroyer
Name: HMS Whitby
Ordered: 9 December 1916[1]
Builder: William Doxford & Sons, Sunderland[2]
Laid down: June 1917[2]
Renamed: HMS Whitley
Namesake: Misspelling of originally intended name "Whitby"[2]
Launched: 13 April 1918[2]
Completed: 11 October 1918[2]
Commissioned: 14 October 1918[1]
Decommissioned: 1921
Recommissioned: 1939
Motto: Silence is golden[2]
Fate: Beached 19 May 1940; scuttled[2]
General characteristics
Displacement: 1,100 tons
Length: 300 ft (91 m) o/a, 312 ft (95 m)p/p
Beam: 26.75 ft (8.15 m)
Draught: 9 ft (2.7 m) standard, 11.25 ft (3.43 m) in deep
Propulsion: 3 Yarrow type Water-tube boilers
Brown-Curtis steam turbines
2 shafts
27,000 shp (20,000 kW)
Speed: 34 knots (63 km/h; 39 mph)
Range: 320-370 tons oil, 3,500 nmi (6,500 km) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph), 900 nmi (1,700 km) at 32 knots (59 km/h; 37 mph)
Complement: 110
Armament:
Notes: Pennant number L23
Badge: The Mace of the Speaker of the House of Commons on a red field

HMS Whitley (L23), ex-Whitby, was an W-class destroyer of the British Royal Navy that saw service in the British campaign in the Baltic Sea against Bolshevik forces during the Russian Civil War and in the early months of World War II.

Construction and commissioning[edit]

Whitley was ordered as HMS Whitby on 9 December 1916 as part of the 10th Order of the 1916-1917 Naval Programme and was laid down by William Doxford & Sons at Sunderland in June 1917. When it was discovered that the name "Whitby" had mistakenly been written as "Whitley" when it was chosen for her, it was decided not to correct it, and she was launched as HMS Whitley, the first Royal Navy ship of the name, on 13 April 1918. She was completed on 11 October 1918,[2] exactly one month before the conclusion of World War I, and commissioned on 14 October 1918.[1]

Service history[edit]

1918-1921[edit]

After acceptance trials and work-ups, Whitley deployed in 1919 to the Baltic Sea, where she served in the British campaign against Bolshevik forces during the Russian Civil War. She returned from the Baltic in 1920. In 1921, she was decommissioned and placed in reserve at Rosyth, Scotland, as part of the 9th Destroyer Flotilla.[2]

1939-1940[edit]

In 1938, Whitley was selected for conversion to an antiaircraft escort, and began conversion for her new role at Chatham Dockyard in August 1938. Her conversion was completed in October 1938 and, after 18 years in reserve, she was recommissioned in 1939.[1][2]

The United Kingdom entered World War II in September 1939, and that month Whitley was assigned to duty escorting convoys in the North Sea along the east coast of Great Britain, which she continued through April 1940. While escorting Convoy FN 12 from the Thames Estuary to the Forth Estuary on 12 January 1940, she assisted in driving off a German air attack.[2]

In May 1940, Whitley was transferred to Dover Command and placed at the disposal of the French Navy for operations in support of Allied ground operations in France and Belgium. She was thus engaged on 19 May 1940 when a German dive bomber attack badly damaged her two nautical miles (3.8 km) off Nieuwpoort, Belgium, forcing her to beach herself on the Belgian coast between Nieuwpoort and Ostend to avoid sinking. To prevent her capture by advancing German ground forces, the British destroyer HMS Keith destroyed her with gunfire at position 51°09′04″N 002°39′34″E / 51.15111°N 2.65944°E / 51.15111; 2.65944 ("HMS Whitley sunk"), leaving her wreck on the bottom in only five meters (16.5 feet) of water.[1][2]

References[edit]