Mined! November 1940 - February 1941
Venomous left Harwich for Greenock on 31 October to escort the aircraft carrier HMS Argus from the Clyde to Gib on the first leg of a mission to reinforce the air defence of Malta. The Med was an Axis lake and after Venomous left HMS Furious she continued under escort to Takoradi on the Gold Coast where her planes took off on the long flight across Africa to Egypt.Venomous
was transferred to Western Appproaches Command and joined the First
Escort Groupo at Londonderry led by Cdr "Jack" Broome RN in HMS Keppel.
On Christmas Eve John McBeath was succeeded as CO by Cdr H. Pitcairn
Henderson RN and on 30 December enroute to Liverpool she detonated a
mine near the mouth of the Mersey and was towed into Cammell Laird's
shipyard at Birkenhead where she remained under repair for two months
during which the Type 286 RDF was installed.
Venomous at full speed (30.5 knots) escorting the aircraft carrier HMS Formidable on her trials in the Clyde, December 1940. Photographed by Lt Peter Kershaw RNVR
HMS Formidable on its sea trials in the Clyde estuary with HMS Venomous Photographed by Lt Peter Kershaw RNVR
Royal Navy Command Areas, 1939-42 Map graphic Kelly Erlinger. Map source Gordon Smith www.naval-history.net
HMS Beverley, an American “four stacker”, at Londonderry
The skyline of Londonderry with the Guildhall on the far right and the city quays in front is easily recognisable. Photographed by Lt Derek Lawson RNVR while serving in HMS Beverley
Capt P. Ruck-Keene RN and Cdr Howard-Johnson RN visiting Venomous at Londonderry Photographed by Lt Peter Kershaw RNVR
Cdr H. Pitcairn Henderson RN with bren gun brought back from Dunkirk Photographed by Lt Peter Kershaw RNVR
The ship’s Christmas card, 1940
Christmas on the lower deck Potographed by Eric A. Pountney
Venomous “out of control after hitting a mine on 30 December 1940”.
Note the crow’s nest, a “large bucket” (AB Harry Haddon), the two
black balls flying from her port signal halyard signalling she is under
tow and the absence of an RDF aerial from the mast head.
Venomous under tow after hitting a mine at the mouth of the Mersey Photographed by Lt Peter Kershaw RNVR
1. From The Second World War. Volume II: Their Finest Hour, 1949 (London: Cassell, 1949).
2. Correlli Barnett, Engage the Enemy More Closely: The Royal Navy in the Second World War (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1991), pp. 163, 211-12.
4. C in C WA to NOIC Greenock sent at 1651/12/11/40.
5. Only the Luftwaffe’s four-engine
Focke-Wulf Kondor reconnaissance bombers, with a range of over two
thousand miles, were able to intercept the Argus force and the few U-boats available concentrated their efforts to the north and westward of Ireland (the Western Approaches).
6. See the Somerville Papers (Ref.
GBR/0014/SMVL) in the Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College,
Cambridge, published by the Navy Records Society, vol. 134 (1995).
7. On 2 August 1917 Squadron Commander Edwin Dunning successfully landed a Sopwith Pup, on Furious,
the first person to land an aircraft on a moving ship. On 7 August he
made another successful landing but he was killed on his third attempt
when the rotary engine choked.
8. Signal from C in C WA to FOIC Liverpool at 1643/11/11/40.
9. The first aircraft arrived at Takoradi in HMS Argus on 5 September 1940 and took off for Egypt on 19 September. HMS Furious
arrived at Takoradi with Hurricanes in November. Staging posts along
the 4,000 mile route route provided maintenance and wireless
communication. For further details see the Hyperwar history of The
Royal Air Force 1939-45; Vol 1: The Fight at Odds - https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/UK/UK-RAF-I/UK-RAF-I-9.html
10. Signal from C in C WA sent to Highlander, Venomous and Ambuscade at 0158/12/12/40.
11. Signal from C in C WA sent to Venomous at 1914/12/12/40.
12. Signal from C in C WA sent to Venomous at 0445/14/12/40.
14. Convoy is to Scatter by Captain Jack Broome RN (William Kimber, 1972). Philip Ruck-Keene (1897-1977) was the Commanding Officer HMS Ferrett, December 1940 – March 1942 and retired as Vice Admiral in 1949. To find out more see: http://www.unithistories.com/officers/RN_officersR4.html#Ruck-Keene_P He should not be confused
with his younger brother, John Henry Ruck-Keene (1902-67), who was
Captain (D) of the Rosyth Escort Force, October 1944 – May 1945.
15. HMS Rockingham was one of the US Navy’s Clemson Class destroyers referenced in Chapter 1.
16. AB William Lodwick, ON D/J
17820 (1895-1940), had been awarded the DSM for his part in the
Zeebrugge and Ostend raids on 22-3 April 1918.
17. See Henderson’s report in: Director of Naval Construction, Torpedo and Mine (ADM 267/91).
18. Mackenzie had the misfortune to lose his first command when HMS Vimiera
struck a mine in the Thames Estuary on his 37th birthday, 9 January
1942. Mackenzie was one of only thirty-eight survivors. See the website
of the V & W Destroyers Association for a description of the
disaster and the names of survivors and the men who died. He went on to
command HMS Liddesdale and HMS Undaunted.
Some years after his death his daughter Sheena Mackenzie arranged for
his ashes to be scattered in Bedford Basin (where the Atlantic convoys
assembled) near her home in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She provided the
information about his life on the publisher’s website http://www.holywellhousepublishing.co.uk/Mackenzie.html