Thursday, May 13, 2010

HMS Whitehaven, WW2 Minesweeper

(Top): The 1942 dedication plaque of HMS Whitehaven
(Middle): The ensign (flag) of HMS Whitehaven
(Bottom): The bell from HMS Whitehaven
The plaque is now displayed in Whitehaven Library
The bell and ensign are displayed in ‘TS Bee’, Whitehaven Sea Cadets HQ
For additional information click on ‘Comments’ below


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

HMS Whitehaven (J121) was a Royal Navy Minesweeper ('Bangor Class') of the Second World War. It was built at Dartmouth by George Philip & Sons Ltd. It was laid down on 24 July 1940, launched the following year on 29 May 1941 and commissioned on the following 14 November.

J121 was given the name of HMS Whitehaven and the ship and its crew were formally adopted by the West Cumbrian town of Whitehaven during 'Warship Week' in February 1942. Led by the local West Cumbrian newspaper, 'The Whitehaven News', the townsfolk, totalling at that time approximately 25,000, eventually raised a total of £197,000. The Borough of Whitehaven coat of arms (Motto: 'Consilio Absit Discordia', or in English 'Conciliation without discord') was displayed on its Quarterdeck. Although the crew came from all over the country, many townsfolk sent letters and 'The Whitehaven News' arranged for, and reported, parcels from the 'Comforts Fund' being sent out to be distributed among the shop mates.

HMS Whitehaven was able to sweep for magnetic and acoustic mines and therefore played a vital role in helping keep the shipping lanes clear. On 6 June 1942 'Whitehaven' joined the 14th Minesweeping Flotilla (Mediterranean Fleet) based in Alexandria, Egypt. At that stage in the war the Eastern Mediterranean / North African campaign was at a critical stage with Cairo under threat from Rommel's Afrika Korps. As history records, later in 1942 the Allies were successful in defeating the Afrika Korps at El Alamein and eventually complete victory in North Africa. HMS Whitehaven then went on to be awarded Battle Honours for the campaigns in the Atlantic, Sicily and Normandy.

In October 1945 HMS Whitehaven made a goodwill visit to the town whose name it had proudly borne throughout the war. The whole ship's complement was honoured by the townsfolk. Alongside the Old Customs House adjacent to Whitehaven Harbour, the Whitehaven Sea Cadets made up a 'Guard of Honour', shouldering Lee Enfield rifles (minus firing pins!) and ceremonial bayonets.

In 1947 the Commanding Officer of Whitehaven Sea Cadets - Mr Percy Silberston - was presented with the bell of HMS Whitehaven by the then Mayor of Whitehaven, Councillor J. McSherry. In 1948 HMS Whitehaven was decommissioned, sold and scrapped.

The original ensign (flag) of HMS Whitehaven had been presented to the townsfolk during a thanksgiving service at St Nicholas' Church, Whitehaven in September 1944, although the vessel was not visiting the port at the time. This ensign was later presented to the local Sea Cadets by another Mayor of Witehaven, Councillor J. Hanlon. The Sea Cadets were given charge of the safekeeping of the ensign and also to remember HMS Whitehaven and its crew. As seen from the above photographs, the ensign (flag) and bell from the vessel are still proudly displayed in 'TS Bee', the Headquarters of Whitehaven Sea Cadets.


Whitehaven Sea Cadets

Mr Bill Agnew
(Whitehaven Sea Cadets historian)

Mr Jeff Wilson (West Cumbrian WW2 researcher)

Mr John McCrickett (Whitehaven Sea Cadets member during WW2)

'The Whitehaven News'

Cumbria County Archives (Whitehaven Records Office

Mr Stuart Nicholson (Archivist, Parish of Whitehaven)

Friday, 15 April, 2011  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

The commemorative plaque for HMS Whitehaven is now on display in the Daniel Hay Library, Whitehaven. It was originally presented to the vessel in 1942 when she was adopted by the Borough of Whitehaven during Warship Week. The dedication is as follows:

"This plaque is presented to HMS WHITEHAVEN to commemorate her adoption by the citizens of Whitehaven, Cumberland, during Warship Week, 14th - 21st March 1942".

Although there is a ship's bell mounted above this plaque, the bell is not connected to HMS Whitehaven. It is actually from the 'Mary Ann' of Whitehaven, a mid-19th Century sailing ship.

[Thanks to Daniel Hay Library, Whitehaven for allowing the memorial plaque to be photographed].

Monday, 18 April, 2011  
Blogger alank said...

Dear Sirs,

HMS Whitehaven\ WM Kilshaw

I am particularly interested and grateful for the posts made as I have just started researching my family history. At present I am concentrating on my uncle, W. M. Kilshaw who served on HMS Whitehaven. My uncle did not talk to his family about his war experiences and so if anyone has any further comments to make concerning HMS Whitehaven or its crew would they please make a post or I should like to hear from them. I also do not know if there are any copies of the photograph of the crew available as I should be very grateful indeed for a copy.

Thank you

Alan Kilshaw
E Mail

Tuesday, 16 August, 2011  
Anonymous Charles Morrow said...

I have twice tried to send a long email to Alan Kilshaw but each has failed. Perhaps ALAN COULD EMAIL ME WITH HIS CURRENT ADDRESS so that I can be sure of his correct current email addressor provide me of some alternative means of making contact.
My name is Charles Morrow an old shipmate of Walter's and my eamil address is

Thursday, 02 February, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi, just to let you know that on 9/7/12 i bought the original huge painted alloy ships crest of hms whitehaven on e bayuk from a guy in portsmouth..its now in safe keeping in the town of egremont, cumbria, a few miles from whitehaven.

Monday, 09 July, 2012  
Anonymous Clive Brooks said...

Would like to find some further information on the crew and the history, My father served on the Whitehaven, I have a old black and white photo of the ship, but not much else. Any information would be appreciated.

Sunday, 18 October, 2015  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Hello Clive,

I have written another article about HMS Whitehaven (J121) which gives a summary of its wartime service and a list of the crew. There is also a photograph I took of a model of the ship and another photograph with some of the officers and crew. Click on the following link if you want to see this:
HMS Whitehaven Crew & wartime service .

Do you know the date your father joined the crew of J121? Looking through the crew list I came across and your surname I am guessing your father is possibly Chief Stoker H.A. Brooks, D.S.M. & bar (Bristol)? He was serving on HMS Whitehaven when she visited the port of Whitehaven in October 1945.

If your father's full name was Henry Alexander Brooks and service number D/K 64576, it looks like the announcement of his D.S.M. was in the 'London Gazette' supplement, 11 June 1942 (p.2507, halfway down the right hand column):
London Gazette supplement (11 June 1942) .

The bar to the D.S.M. for Henry Alexander Brooks, D/K 64576 was announced in the 'London Gazette' supplement of 8 September 1942 (p.3913, halfway down the left hand column):
London Gazette supplement (8 September 1942) .

It looks like the award of the D.S.M. and bar were because of the Malta convoys.

Sunday, 18 October, 2015  
Anonymous haughton said...

My Father Lt Comd Wilfred Haughton DSC* was captain of HMS Whitehaven when she made her goodwill visit to Whitehaven in October 1945 . He had fond memories of the visit
Christopher Haughton 20 November 2015

Friday, 20 November, 2015  

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