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JIM BRYCE

 HMS  UNDAUNTED 

POTTED HISTORY

 

 

Ships Motto: 

  Bienvenue  

  BATTLE HONOURS

Dogger Bank      1915

Belgian Coast      1916

Mediterranean      1941

Normandy      1944

Okinawa     1945

The first HMS Undaunted was 5th rate prize ship, 32 - 50 guns, taken from the French during the French Revolution.   The Battle of Martinique was fought March 1794, under the command of Admiral Sir John Jervis Earl of St Vincent who, with a squadron of some 26 ships, captured Fort Royal Harbour.   In the harbour was the French warship "Bienvenue" and she was taken by Captain Robert Faulkner.   Admiral Jervis gave command of the ship to Faulkner, "Named after you sir" he said, on giving her the commission "Undaunted".   She served until 1795.

The second HMS Undaunted was another prize, taken from the French in 1793.   However, she was not named Undaunted until 1795 and she was wrecked in 1796.

The third HMS Undaunted was built and commissioned in 1807 and is famed for conveying Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte to the Island of Elba, to his exile on 28 April 1814.   Its then captain, Thomas Ussher, wrote home on May 1st:  "It has fallen to my extraordinary lot to be the gaolor of the instrument of the misery Europe has so long endured". 
This Undaunted served until 1860, when she was scrapped.   

The fourth HMS Undaunted, one of  five Immortalite Class of screw frigates, was built in Chatham between 1859 and1861 and scrapped in 1880.   She was the last and largest of the Immortalite Class.    Life in the navy at this time was hard, as this account will certify:       ...In 1863 embarked from Ascension in the Undaunted Flagship  of Rear Admiral T. Warren. The Cholera raged to such an extent on board the Undaunted  on the passage from Madras to Calcutta, that she was at one time, without hands sufficient to set or take in sail, There was in consequence ordered to England. In my own individual case on our arrival I was  sent more dead than alive to Haslar Hospital where it required four months "treatment" to make me to proceed on sick leave..... 

The iron bell mast from this vessel still survives at the Chatham Royal Dockyard site.   It was refurbished and erected in 1803 and the bell was rung to signal each change of shift for the dockyard employees until its closure in 1984.  The Bell Mast is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument has now been restored and stands at the new entrance to the Dockyard off Leviathan Way.   HMS Undaunted had some distinguished Captain's.   Vice Admiral Harry Woodfall, 1834-1911, was promoted Captain, and commanded Undaunted in 1875.

The fifth HMS Undaunted was an Orlando Class Cruiser and was built in 1886.   Others in her Class included HMS Orlando, HMS Australia, HMS Aurora, HMS Narcissus, HMS Immortalite and HMS Galatea. During 1897-1900 the old 25 calibre 9.2 ins guns were replaced by 30 calibre guns and the old 6 ins pieces converted to quick-firers.  

The Channel Fleet in 1898

Admiral Sir Colin (Richard) KEPPEL, 1862-1947, served in this Undaunted at Devonport, Gibraltar and Malta in 1890.  She was sold in 1907.   

The sixth HMS Undaunted was an Arethusa Class Light Cruiser and was built by Fairfield in 1914.  She measured 450 ft in length and displaced 3,520 tons. Her speed was 30 knots and her armament was two 6 inch guns and six 4 inch gun.   Others in the class were HMS Arethusa, HMS Aurora, HMS Galatea, HMS Inconstant, HMS Phaeton, HMS Penelope and HMS Royalist.   She saw service in the First World War, during which she received two battle honours.

The Cruiser HMS Undaunted - 1914

Her first battle honour was at Dogger Bank in January 1915.  The total British casualties were 15 killed and 80 wounded.  Hipper lost 954 killed and hundreds more wounded. Germany learned a lesson from the battle, the need to prevent flash from bursting shells reaching magazines: their capital ships were rendered safe. Not so the British, and it cost the Navy five major capital ships at Jutland 16 months later.    The second battle honour was off the Belgian coast in 1916.  She was scrapped in 1923.

The seventh HMS Undaunted was one of nineteen Ursula Class submarines, she was built by Vickers Armstrong in Barrow.   She was named in 1940 and had a displacement of 540/730 tons and was armed with 6 x 21 inch tubes and a 3 inch gun and was capable of 10 knots.

HMS Undaunted was an Ursula Class Submarine 

In May 1941 she was operating in the Mediterranean, out of Malta, and was lost.   Italian forces reported sinking a submarine by depth charge attack on 12th May. A submarine had been sighted by aircraft off Zuara on the Libyan coast and the corvette Pegaso had subsequently carried out the attack. Oil was seen on the surface, but no wreckage was collected as evidence.

The eighth HMS Undaunted is the one on which I served between 1967 and 1969.  She was one if eight Ulster Class Destroyers built during the Second World War, and was constructed, like her sister ship HMS Ulysses, at the Birkenhead shipyard of Cammell Laird and was launched in 19 July 1943 and completed 3 March 1944.  She weighed 1,777 tons on launching and was capable of a speed of 36 knots.   Her main armament was 4 single barrel 4.7 inch guns.   She received two battle honours during the second world war.   She was given the pennant number R53, and later F53, and became known as the “Fighting 53”.   She was converted to a Type 15 Anti-submarine Frigate in 1952 at the R. White and Sons shipyard on the Isle of Wight.   HMS Undaunted was adopted by the London Borough of Barking, during Warship Week during the war and was affectionately known as the UNWANTED.   

One of her most prominent roles was during her First Commission when she took part in the D-Day landings at Normandy on 6 June 1944.   Operation Overlord had a huge Naval contingent that included two Battleships, 2 Monitors, 23 Cruisers, 105 Destroyers and over 1070 other warships (including Minesweepers and Anti Submarine Frigates).   In addition, some 2,700 Merchant ships and 2,500 Landing craft took part.   She was part of Task Force G, which comprised:  HMS Ajax , HMS Orion, HMS Argonaut, HMS Emerald, HNMS Flores (Dutch), HMS Grenville, HMS Ursa, HMS Ulster, HMS Undaunted, HMS Urchin, HMS Jervis, HMS Undine, HMS Urania, HMS Ulysses, HMS Cattistock, HMS Pytchley, HMS Cottesmore, ORP Krakowiak  (Polish).

HMS Undaunted was an Ulster Class Destroyer

During this campaign the newly appointed Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, General Dwight D Eisenhower, was embarked on a ship, which received damage.  HMS Undaunted was sent alongside to evacuate him and General Eisenhower’s flag was then hoisted in Undaunted.   That flag was later presented to the National Trust for Scotland at Holyrood House, in Edinburgh, around 1969, to be displayed in the Eisenhower Room at Culzeen Castle.  

After the ‘D’ Day landings she was transferred to the British Pacific Fleet.   On its passage from Ceylon to Australia the fleet was asked to carry out a strike on the oil fields and tanks at Palembang and Sumatra. The Americans had tried but without success. The targets in the Palembang area where at Songei Gerong, which had been the East Indies oil refinery for the Standard Oil Company. The other was at Pladjoe, the former Royal Dutch Shell refinery. Both were quite large and between them produced and supplied 50% of the oil used by Japan, including 75% of the vital aviation spirit. A heavy blow would cause irretrievable damage to the Japanese war effort. When the fleet was in position to commence it then consisted of: The first Aircraft Carrier Squadron: Indomitable (Flag), Illustrious, Indefatigable and Victorious. Cruisers: Argonaut, Black Prince and Euryalus. Two destroyer flotillas: Grenville, Undine, Ursa, Undaunted, Kemperfelt, Wakeful, Whirlwind, Wager and Welp. HMS Suffolk had returned to Ceylon, and Ceylon (The ship) had been despatched to rejoin later with mail, together with the destroyer Wessex with radar spares.

HMS Undaunted after conversion to Type 15

The British Pacific Fleet was present at operations against Okinawa - operating as TF 57 (Task Force 57) - under Vice Admiral Rawlings comprised the four carriers HMS's Indomitable, Victorious, Illustrious (later relieved by Formidable) and Indefatigable with 218 aircraft, the battleships HMS's King George V and Howe with five cruisers and several destroyers. The fleet reinforced Vice Admiral Mitscher's Task Force 58, the US Navy carrier force which comprised the main element in Admiral Spruance's 5th Fleet. 

Landings were made on April 1, 1945. Five days later the Japanese began a six-week-long series of kamikaze attacks involving 2,000 planes. Some 26 ships were sunk (none of them larger than a destroyer) and 164 damaged, including three carriers and three battleships. TF 57 began its attacks on the Sakishima Group on March 26. On April 1 the 'Indefatigable' and 'Ulster' were damaged, and five days later 'Formidable' and 'Victorious' were struck. Organized resistance on the islands ceased on June 21. The total U.S. casualties in capturing them amounted to 48,000 killed and wounded.

HMS Undaunted remained in the Far East, but on 20 January 1946, she left Sydney for home, via Melbourne and Fremantle in the company of HMS Indefatigable, arriving home in March with the remainder of "The Forgotten Fleet".

HMS Undaunted - anti submarine frigate

After conversion from a Destroyer, to an Anti Submarine Frigate, she took part in Asdic trials, and other experimental work.  She was fitted with a flight deck in the late 1950's and involved with the development of the naval version of the Wasp helicopter.  The Wasp was mainly intended for Anti Submarine Warfare.

She later became Captain "D" of the Portland Training Squadron, spending most of her time day-running out of Portland, training TAS ratings in Anti Submarine Warfare.   When I joined her, as a Leading Ordnance Electrical Mechanic in March 1968, she was Captain D, under the command of Captain Desmond Cassidi, later C in C Western Fleet, and by then by Captain Hutchings.

Whilst most of the time was spent in the Portland areas, it wasn't all work and no play, we did manage to squeeze in visits to Belfast, Londonderry, Newcastle, Hull, Rotterdam, Hamburg, Bordeaux, Oporto, Dartmouth, Rosyth, Leith - to present Eisenhower's flag at Holyrood House and now held at Culzeen Castle; Jersey, Penzance, Barry Docks and Wallasey, to name a few.

HMS Undaunted - Captain D Portland Squadron 1969

On one occasion we received orders to return to Portland at speed and pick up stores and other equipment.  The ship was rife with buzz's as to the reason.   We picked up lots of victuals and crowd of boffins, from ASWE, who had lots of boxes of electronic equipment.   After we were clear of Portland, the skipper told us that we were off to look for the Russian Helicopter Carrier /Cruiser "Moskva" which was in the Atlantic, West of the British Isles and heading for the Mediterranean Sea.

We spent a few days as her escort, listening to her engine noises, etc., and taking plenty of official and unofficial photos.  We were then relieved at the bottom end of the Bay of Biscay by a ship which came out to meet us from Gibraltar.  The Russian thanked us for our company as we departed for home. 

I left her in September 1970, for HMS Victory (FMG), having spent two and a half great years with a great bunch of mates.

She was in commission until 1974, when she was placed in reserve.   In 1978 she was used for further trials, she was sunk as a target for an Exocet missile, fired from HMS Norfolk, and she now rests on the bed of the Atlantic Ocean.

The name is still carried on by a unit of the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps "Undaunted" which was established in 1919, and named after the Royal Navy ship HMS Undaunted of that time.  

Follow this link to the next page for Tug Wilson's experiences on HMS Undaunted during the War

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