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HMS Wheatland 

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HMS Wheatland a Hunt Class Type II Escort Destroyer. Web page dedicated to HMS Wheatland and the history of the ship with a message board attached for naval enthusiasts. HMS Wheatland was built by Yarrow and was launched on 7th June 1941. 

A History of HMS Wheatland provided by Graham Overton

HMS Wheatland she was a type 2 Hunt class destroyer named after “The Wheatland Hunt” in Shropshire. She was built by Yarrow’s and completed 3rd November 1941. Robert joined the ship before completion, and he served on this vessel from 17th October 1941until 4th October 1942. On completion the Wheatland was allocated to Portsmouth Command and in December, attached temporarily to the Home Fleet, she took part in operation “Anklet”, the aim of which, was to land in the Lofoten Islands which are off the north-west coast of Norway, to cut the enemy lines of communication with northern Norway. All the landings were unopposed and German prisoners were taken.

The Wheatland returned to Portsmouth Command and served on patrols until March 1942 when she was allocated to the 8th Destroyer Flotilla, Home Fleet. From that time until September she was chiefly employed escorting Russian convoys.

The following is a list of actions during the above period:

 Early in May 1942 the Wheatland left Scapa Flow (which is in the Orkney Islands in the far north of Scotland) for Iceland to escort the King George V, the flagship of the Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet, she had been damaged in a collision on 1st May, while providing heavy cover for a pair of Russian convoys.

On 23rd May Wheatland left Iceland with the Duke of York, flagship of the Commander-in Chief, Home Fleet and a battlefleet that was to cruise northeast of Iceland ready to deal with the German battleship Tirpitz, in case she attacked convoys P.Q.16. (which left Hvalfiord on 21st May) and  the P.Q.12. (which left Murmansk, which is on the Barents Sea coast in the U.S.S.R. on the same day). The convoys were often sailed simultaneously, so that heavy cover could be provided for the Western half of the journey for both convoys. P.Q.16. was continuously shadowed by enemy aircraft and attacked by them for five consecutive days from 26th May. One merchant ship was sunk by a U-boat on the 26th; six were sunk by enemy bombers on the 27th, but the remaining twenty seven ships arrived safely on 30th May / 1st June. The homeward bound convoy (P.Q.12.) had an uneventful trip, arriving in Iceland intact on the 29th May. Wheatland and the battlefleet returned to Scapa Flow on 29th May.

At the end of June 1942 the Wheatland again left Scapa Flow with H.M.S. Duke of York, being one of fourteen destroyers escorting the battlefleet to provide distant cover for convoy P.Q.17. this convoy suffered severe losses. Of the thirty-three merchant ships that had cleared Iceland, only eleven completed the voyage. P.Q.17. was subjected to air and U-boat attacks and on the 4th July was ordered to scatter because intelligence had been received that the battleship Tirpitz and the cruiser Hipper were at sea. The convoy was too far eastwards to reverse its course and so could not safely reach battlefleet protection. The Wheatland arrived back in Scapa Flow on 8th July 1942.

The next pair of Russian convoys left Loch Ewe (which is in the north-west of Scotland to the north of Skye) on 2nd September 1942 and Archangel (which is on the White Sea coast in north-west U.S.S.R.) on the 13th. This convoy had a new “escort” aircraft carrier, H.M.S. Avenger and a force of sixteen Fleet destroyers led by the cruiser H.M.S. Scylla, this was in addition to the permanent escort. The Wheatland and a sister ship H.M.S. Wilton escorted the Avenger.

 German surface ships made no attempts on the convoys’ outward journey, but torpedo-bombers sank ten of the forty ships, three others were sunk by U-boats, most of the damage being done on the 13th September, (it is unlucky!). About sixty-five aircraft were used in the attacks and thirteen were destroyed by ships fire. Next day about fifty torpedo-aircraft were employed of which twenty were destroyed, five by fighters from the Avenger. The returning convoy lost three of its fifteen merchant ships, two escorts and a Royal Fleet auxiliary to U-boat attacks. It wasn’t all one-sided; we managed to definitely sink three U-boats, U589 on the 12th September, U88 on the14th and U457 on the 16th.

 The Wheatland received battle honours for “The Arctic 1942”, she went on to gain battle honours in North Africa 1942-43, Sicily 1943, Mediterranean 1943, Salerno 1943, Adriatic 1944. This vessel certainly saw a lot of action, but Robert was only involved in the Arctic battles.

 

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