HMS Woodpecker (U08)
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Woodpecker in December 1942
|Builder:||William Denny & Brothers|
|Launched:||29 June 1942|
|Commissioned:||14 December 1942|
|Motto:||Inveniet qui exquirit: 'He who seeks carefully shall find'|
|Badge:||On a Field White, a woodpecker clinging to a stump of a tree proper|
|General characteristics |
|Class & type:||Black Swan-class sloop|
|Length:||299 ft 6 in (91.29 m)|
|Beam:||38 ft 6 in (11.73 m)|
|Draught:||11 ft (3.4 m)|
|Speed:||20 knots (37 km/h)|
|Range:||7,500 nmi (13,900 km) at 12 kn (22 km/h)|
|Part of:||2nd Support Group|
|Operations:||Battle of the Atlantic|
|Victories:||6 U-boats (shared)|
HMS Woodpecker, pennant number U08, was a Black Swan-class sloop of the Royal Navy. She was active during the Second World War and was a successful anti-submarine warfare vessel, being credited with the destruction of six U-boats.
Woodpecker was ordered on 13 April 1940 under the 1940 Building Programme; she was laid down by William Denny & Brothers of Dumbarton, Scotland on 23 February 1941. She was launched on 29 June 1942, and commissioned 14 December the same year, with a build time of 23 months and 10 days. The Black Swan design was subject to many modifications during the building process, which were later consolidated into the Modified Black Swan design. Although Woodpecker was ordered under the original design, her late build meant she incorporated many of these modifications and is consequently listed in some sources as one of the Modified Black Swan class.
In February Woodpecker, and 2 SG, were on support duty in the Atlantic, though they saw little action.
In June they were assigned to the Bay of Biscay, supporting Coastal Command's Operation Musketry. On 24 June Woodpecker, with others, found and destroyed two U-boats, U-119' and U-449, off Cape Ortegal.
Following the end of Musketry Woodpecker was docked for an extensive refit, remaining there until the end of the year.
In January 1944 Woodpecker, under the command of Commander H. L. Pryse, RNR, rejoined 2SG, which was on support duty in the South-Western Approaches. In February Woodpecker took part in the famous “Six in one trip” episode, during which she was credited with sharing the destruction of three U-boats. On 8 February, while supporting convoy SL 147/MKS 38, 2SG destroyed three U-boats; Woodpecker and Wild Goose were credited with the destruction of U-762. Three days later Woodpecker and others caught and destroyed U-424. On 19 February, while supporting ON 224, Woodpecker and others destroyed U-264 after a seven-hour hunt.
The following day, on 20 February 1944, Woodpecker was struck in the stern by an acoustic torpedo launched from the U-256. While being towed toward home, on 27 February 1944 Woodpecker foundered and sank in an Atlantic storm. The skeleton crew was rescued before the ship went under.
Woodpecker was the only ship belonging to 2SG to be sunk. She had shared in six of the groups 23 victories.
During her service Woodpecker was awarded two battle honours:
- Biscay 1943
- Atlantic 1943-44
During her service Woodpecker participated in the sinking of six U-boats:
|24 June 1943||U-119||XB||Bay of Biscay, NW of Cape Ortegal
||depth-charge, ramming by Starling, Woodpecker|
|24 June 1943||U-449||VIIC||NW of Cape Ortegal
||d/c attacks by Wren, Woodpecker, Kite, Wild Goose|
|30 July 1943||U-504||IXC||NW of Cape Ortegal
||d/c attacks by Woodpecker, Wild Goose|
|8 February 1944||U-762||VIIC||North Atlantic, W of Cape Clear
||d/c attacks by Woodpecker, Wild Goose|
|11 February 1944||U-424||VIIC||N Atlantic, SW of Ireland
||d/c attacks byWild Goose, Woodpecker, Magpie|
|19 February 1944||U-264||VIIC||North Atlantic
||d/c, ramming by Starling, Wild Goose, Woodpecker|
- Conway p57
- Elliott p140. Some sources list Woodpecker as a Modified Black Swan class vessel. See "Construction"
- Elliott p140
- Blair p357
- Blair p392
- Blair p498
- Warlow p
- Locations per Kemp; other sources may differ
- Kemp p126
- Kemp p127
- Neistle p66
- Kemp p137
- Neistle p124
- Kemp p167-8
- Neistle p88
- Kemp p169
- Neistle p63
- Kemp p171
- Neistle p51
- Clay Blair : Hitler's U-Boat War Vol II: The Hunted 1942-1945 (1998) ISBN 0-304-35261-6
- R Gardiner, R Gray : Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1906–1921 (1985) ISBN 0-85177-245-5
- Arnold Hague : The Allied Convoy System 1939-1945 (2000). ISBN 1-55125-033-0 (Canada); ISBN 1-86176-147-3 (UK).
- .Paul Kemp : U-Boats Destroyed (1997) . ISBN 1-85409-515-3
- Axel Neistle : German U-Boat Losses during World War II (1998). ISBN 1-85367-352-8
- Warlow, B : Battle Honours of the Royal Navy (2004) ISBN 1-904459-05-6
- Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) . Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8. OCLC 67375475.
- Hague, Arnold (1993). Sloops: A History of the 71 Sloops Built in Britain and Australia for the British, Australian and Indian Navies 1926–1946. Kendal, England: World Ship Society. ISBN 0-905617-67-3.