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The ‘Town’-Class Destroyers, Part II
By Kristin Ann High
October 2014

Having vindicated the reputation of the Town-class destroyers in Part I of this short series, I now offer a full rundown of the names, dates of service and significant actions of these vital ships. I also include ship data sheets for players who wish to keep track of their flush-deckers individually.

Town-Class Names

In Second World War at Sea, the Royal Navy’s 44 (or 45 to use the "original" number) flush-deckers use the U.S. Navy ship class name Wickes (DE-52 Wickes-1 through DE-59 Wickes-7), while the six Royal Canadian Navy ships use the name of one of the original Canadian ships, HMCS Annapolis (DE-10 Annapolis-1 through DE-12 Annapolis-4).

Both designations are, like these troubled ships themselves, accurate and incorrect at once. All Royal Navy Wickes DEs in SWWAS should be designated as Town DEs (DE-52 Town-1 through DE-59 Town-7), while all Royal Canadian Navy Annapolis DEs should be designated as Rivers DEs (DE-10 Rivers-1 through DE-12 Rivers-4).

Table I gives the Royal Navy name and pennant number, the date of the turnover, and the U.S.N. name, hull number and class of the Town-class destroyers.

Table I: Royal Navy Town-Class
Destroyers, by Commissioning Group

Ship Name and Pennant Date Transferred
to Royal Navy
U.S.N. Hull Number,
Ship and Class
First Group (10 Ships)
HMS Burwell H.94 9th September 1940 DD-263 USS Laub (Clemson)
HMS Caldwell I.20 9th September 1940 DD-133 USS Hale (Wickes)
HMS Cameron I.05 9th September 1940 DD-257 USS Wells (Clemson)
HMS Campbeltown I.42 9th September 1940 DD-131 USS Buchanan (Wickes)
HMS Castleton I.23 9th September 1940 DD-132 USS Aaron Ward (Wickes)
HMS Charlestown I.21 9th September 1940 DD-184 USS Abbot (Wickes)
HMS Chelsea I.35 9th September 1940 DD-134 USS Crowninshield (Wickes)
HMS Chesterfield I.28 9th September 1940 DD-195 USS Welborn C. Wood
HMS Churchill I.45 9th September 1940 DD-198 USS Herndon (Clemson)
HMS Clare I.14 9th September 1940 DD-193 USS Able P. Upshaw (Clemson)
Second Group (7 Ships)
HMS Bath I.17 23rd September 1940 DD-181 USS Hopewell (Wickes)
HMS Brighton I.08 23rd September 1940 DD-167 USS Cowell (Wickes)
HMS Georgetown I.40 23rd September 1940 DD-168 USS Maddox (Wickes)
HMS Hamilton I.24 23rd September 1940 DD-170 USS Kalk (Wickes)
HMS Roxborough i.07 23rd September 1940 DD-169 USS Foote (Wickes)
HMS St. Albans I.15 23rd September 1940 DD-182 USS Thomas (Wickes)
HMS St. Marys I.12 23rd September 1940 DD-185 USS Doran (Wickes)
Third Group (7 Ships)
HMS Broadwater I.20 2nd October 1940 DD-191 USS Mason (Clemson)
HMS Belmont H.46 8th October 1940 DD-190 USS Satterlee (Clemson)
HMS Beverly H.64 8th October 1940 DD-197 USS Branch (Clemson)
HMS Bradford H.72 8th October 1940 DD-264 USS McLanahan (Clemson)
HMS Broadway H.90 8th October 1940 DD-194 USS Hunt (Clemson)
HMS Burham H.82 8th October 1940 DD-258 USS Aulick (Clemson)
HMS Buxton H.96 8th October 1940 DD-265 USS Edwards (Clemson)
Fourth Group (10 Ships)
HMS Lancaster G.05 23rd October 1940 DD-76 USS Philip (Wickes)
HMS Leamington G.19 23rd October 1940 DD-127 USS Twiggs (Wickes)
HMS Leeds SG.27 23rd October 1940 DD-72 USS Conner (Caldwell)
HMS Lewes G.68 23rd October 1940 DD-70 USS Conway (Caldwell)
HMS Lincoln G.42 23rd October 1940 DD-143 USS Yarnall (Wickes)
HMS Ludlow G.57 23rd October 1940 DD-73 USS Stockton (Caldwell)
HMS Mansfield G.76 23rd October 1940 DD-78 USS Evans (Wickes)
HMS Sherwood I.80 23rd October 1940 DD-254 USS Rodgers (Clemson)
HMS Stanley I.73 23rd October 1940 DD-253 USS McCalla (Clemson)
HMS Montgomery G.95 25th October 1940 DD-265 USS Wickes (Wickes)
Fifth Group (5 Ships)
HMS Ramsey G.60 26th November 1940 DD-274 USS Meade (Clemson)
HMS Reading G.71 26th November 1940 DD-269 USS Bailey (Clemson)
HMS Richmond G.88 26th November 1940 DD-93 USS Fairfax (Wickes)
HMS Ripley G.79 26th November 1940 DD-268 USS Shubrick (Clemson)
HMS Rockingham G.58 26th November 1940 DD-273 USS Swasey (Clemson)
Sixth Group (5 Ships)
HMS Newark G.08 5th December 1940 DD-89 USS Ringgold (Wickes)
HMS Newmarket G.07 5th December 1940 DD-88 USS Robinson (Wickes)
HMS Newport G.54 5th December 1940 DD-81 USS Sigourrney (Wickes)
HMS Salisbury I.52 5th December 1940 DD-140 USS Claxton (Wickes)
HMS Wells I.95 5th December 1940 DD-135 USS Tillman (Wickes)

In addition to HMS Hamilton (‘I.24’), one other R.N. Town-class ship was commissioned into the R.C.N. — HMS Buxton (‘H.96’) — but she was employed as a static training ship at Digby, Nova Scotia, and not used on operations. Both Hamilton and Buxton were scrapped in Canada like the other R.C.N. ships.

Rivers-Class Names

In SWWAS, the six R.C.N. ships use the name of one of the original Canadian ships, HMCS Annapolis (DE-10 Annapolis-1 through DE-12 Annapolis-4). All Royal Canadian Navy Annapolis DEs should be designated as Rivers DEs (DE-10 Rivers-1 through DE-12 Rivers-4).

Table II gives the Royal Canadian Navy name and pennant number, the date of the turnover, and the U.S.N. name, hull number and class for the River-class destroyers.

Table II: Royal Canadian Navy Rivers-Class
DDs, by Commissioning Group

Ship Name and Pennant Date Transferred
to Royal Navy
U.S.N. Hull Number,
Ship and Class
HMCS Columbia I.49 23rd September 1940 DD-183 USS Haraden (Wickes)
HMCS St. Croix I.81 24th September 1940 DD-252 USS McCook (Clemson)
HMCS St. Francis I.93 24th September 1940 DD-256 USS Bancroft (Clemson)
HMCS Niagara I.57 26th September 1940 DD-162 USS Thatcher (Wickes)
HMCS Annapolis I.04 29th September 1940 DD-175 USS MacKenzie (Wickes)
HMCS St. Claire I.65 29th September 1940 DD-108 USS Williams (Wickes)
HMCS Hamilton I.24 6th July 1941 DD-170 USS Kalk (Wickes)

Twelve Town-class ships were ordered to Canadian waters, operating with the Newfoundland Escort Force or with the reorganized Western Local Escort Force, under the local command of the R.C.N. from 1941 through 1943, with the bulk of the ships operating in Canadian waters between September 1942 and December 1943, as given in Table III.

Table III: Town-Class DDs Operating in
Canadian Waters, by Transfer Date

Ship Name and Pennant Date and Allied Nationality Date Returned to R.N.
HMS Chelsea I.35 November 1941 23rd December 1943
HMS Caldwell I.20 July 1942 1st December 1943
HMS St. Marys I.12 unknown December 1943
HMS Mansfield G.76 September 1942 Scrapped in Canada
HMS Georgetown I.40 September 1942 December 1943
HMS Lincoln G.42 September 1942 December 1943
HMS Montgomery G.95 21st September 1942 December 1943
HMS Broadwater H.81 July 1941 Sunk 17th October 1941
HMS Salisbury I.52 September 1942 Scrapped in Canada
HMS Reading G.71 June 1941 May 1942
HMS Richmond G.88 June 1941 October 1941
HMS Richmond again August 1942 December 1942
HMS Sherwood I.80 unknown unknown

R.K.K.F. Town-Class Destroyers

The Royal Navy lent nine Town-class destroyers to the Soviet Union in the summer of 1944 under the terms of Lend-Lease (the ships had been paid for “in kind”, and so were the property of Great Britain, not the United States). These were one Clemson-class and eight Wickes-class destroyers, being the best of the ships still available in Great Britain.

They had been intended for the Murmansk Convoys in any event, but by summer 1944 Great Britain quite simply couldn’t afford the refits. The Soviets indicated they were willing to pay the costs of the refits, and to operate the ships in the White Sea, out of Murmansk and Archangel. Great Britain thereupon lent them to the Raboche-Krest'yansky Krasny Flot (R.K.K.F., roughly Anglicized as “Workers' and Peasants' Red Fleet”).

Table IV gives the anglicized R.K.K.F. name (and for some a rough meaning in English), the date of the turnover, and the date the ship was returned to the United Kingdom or lost. The fates use these abbreviations: “L” for “Lost to/by enemy action”, and “R” for “Returned by Soviet Union”.

Table IV: R.K.K.F. Town-Class DDs

Ship Name (meaning) Date Transferred
to R.K.K.F.
R.N. Name, Pennant Number and Fate
Dejatelnyj 30th May 1944 HMS Churchill I.45, L:01.16.1945
Zivuchij 16th June 1944 HMS Richmond G.88, R:01.26.1949
Derzkij 16th July 1944 HMS Chelsea I.35, R:01.24.1949
Dostojnyj ("Worthy") 16th July 1944 HMS St. Albans I.15, R:02.28.1949
Zarkij ("Ardent") 16th July 1944 HMS Brighton I.08, R:03.04.1949
Zguchij ("Fiery") 17th July 1944 HMS Leamington G.19, R:11.15.1950
Zostkij ("Enterprising") August 1944 HMS Georgetown I.40, R:09.09.1952
Doblestnyj ("Valiant") 10th August 1944 HMS Roxborough I.07, R:02.07.1949
Druznyj 26th August 1944 HMS Lincoln G.42, R:08.24.1952

HMS Churchill (I.45) was the first Town-class destroyer lent to the Soviet Union and the only Clemson-class ship lent of the nine. She was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-956 on 16 January 1945 while in the White Sea. She was the last war loss of the Town class, and the only one of the class transferred to the Soviet Union to be lost. HMS Leamington (G.19) was hired for the film The Gifthorse, and was the last Town-class destroyer at sea under her own power.

Allied-Crewed Town-Class Destroyers

Several R.N. Town-class destroyers were crewed by Allied sailors, with a mixture of Allied and R.N. officers — the Norwegians, in particular, were highly thought-of by R.N. serving officers, and Norwegian ships usually had a higher proportion of Norwegian officers.

Allied sailors that crewed R.N. ships were given the honour of having their ships designated after their home country; in the case of the Town-class destroyers, these were Norwegians and Danes. In Royal Navy service, ships crewed by Norwegian sailors were HMNoS, for “His Majesty's Norwegian Ships”; HMNS was the designation for Dutch-crewed ships in His Majesty's service, these being “His Majesty's Netherlands Ships”. Whatever their crew, the ships remained a part of the Royal Navy.

Table V gives the ships names and pennant number, the date the ship was assigned to the Allied crew, the nationality of the Allied crew, and either the periods of that crews' service, or the fate of the ship. An entry of “00” indicates “exact day or month not known”.

Table V: Royal Navy Town-Class DEs
Crewed by Allied Sailors

Ship Name and Pennant Date and
Allied Nationality
Date Returned
to R.N. Crew
HMNoS Bath I.17 January 1941, Norway L:08.19.1941
HMNoS Lincoln G.42 February 1942, Norway R:08.00.1944
HMNoS Mansfield G.76 December 1940, Norway R:03.00.1942
HMNoS Newport G.54 March 1942, Norway R:06.00.1942
HMNoS St. Albans I.15 April, 1941, Norway R:00.00.1943
HMNoS Campbeltown I.42 January 1941, Netherlands R:09.00.1941

After her return to an all-R.N. crew, HMS Campbeltown (‘I.42’) participated in the most famous exploit of the four-pipers, Operation Chariot. Campbeltown was expended against the Forme Ecluse Louis Joubert drydock at St. Nazaire, France — usually called the Normandie dock for the huge French liner it was built to accommodate.

The drydock was the only one able to accommodate the battleship Tirpitz on the French Atlantic seaboard, and damaging it would force her to return to Germany for any repairs requiring drydocking. Although costly, Operation Chariot damaged the drydock, which was not repaired until 1947. Many of the survivors believed that Campbeltown's explosive charge was set off manually by stranded commandos (many had to be left behind because of the loss of small craft intended to take them off) who worked their way aboard after the ship failed to explode on time; she did not explode until 1030 hours.

Up next: Town-class counters and hit records!

See the Town class in action — order Second World War at Sea: Bismarck now!