Sutton-in-Ashfield's WWII warship

Photo:HMS Belvoir

HMS Belvoir

HMS Belvoir

By Fred Thompson


H.M.S. Belvoir was a Type Ill “Hunt” Class destroyer built by Cammell Laird at Birkenhead. She was laid down on the 14th October 1940 through the war programme, launched 18th November 1941 and completed on 29th March 1942. , Ordered through the War Emergency Programme,  Sutton raised £161,000 out of the £200,000 needed in “warship week” February 1942  She was officially adopted by Sutton-in-Ashfield on the 28th March 1942. The ship was named after a Foxhunt in Leicestershire.

HMS Belvoir displaced 1015 tons, was 280 feet in overall length, 31 foot 6 inches wide and had a draught of 7 foot 9 inches.Her complement was 170 Officers and men, her speed was 25 -28 knots, her armament consisted of 4 x 4 inch guns, 1 x quadruple porn-porn, 3 x 20mm Oerlikons and she carried 70 depth charges. She served throughout the war with great distinction and included in her Battle Honours were Sicily, Salermo, Aegean, South France and the Adriatic. She was very active throughout her career, her duties commencing whilst working up in April 1942, when she escorted the battleship H.M.S. KING GEORGE V, which was covering Convoys PQ15/QPll.

 She left the U.K. in May 1942, escorting Convoy WS19 to Capetown, arriving there in June. She then escorted the ArmedMerchantCruiserMORETONBAY to Kilindini.  She joined the 5th Destroyer Flotilla in August 1942 and escorted the cruiser H.M.S. DIDO during the bombardment of Mersa Matruh, 2 days later escorting the damaged submarine H.M.S. PORPOISE to Port Said.

 In September 1942, she left Alexandria in company with H.M.S. ALDENHAM to escort the tug BRIGAND, while the latter endeavoured to tow the damaged cruiser H.M.S. COVENTRY and the destroyer H.M.S. ZULU into Alexandria. However, this was to no avail because both vessels had already sunk. On the 1st February 1943, BELVOIR picked up the C.O., five Officers and 112Ratings from the fast Minelayer H.M.S. WELSHMAN which had been torpedoed.

 The rest of 1943 was spent on invasion duties at Sicily and Salermo. On the 30th October 1943, she was hit by a bomb which failed to explode, but did, however, penetrate the stabiliser compartment. An unknown, but very strong and very courageous seaman, picked it up, carried it topside and threw it over the stern. Two weeks later BELVOIR and ECHO picked up 6 Officers and 103 Ratings from DULVERTON when she was lost to a glider bomb attack.

 BELVOIR remained in the Mediterranean except for a brief period supporting the Normandy Convoys. She returned to the U.K. in July 1945 and put into reserve until her disposal at the yard of P & W MacLellan at Bo'ness on the 21st October 1957 where she was broken up.

 The Mansfield & District Branch R.N.A. had tried long and hard to .secure the whereabouts of H.M.S. BELVOIR's Bell but had been unsuccessful. However, a replica bell had been struck and after the disbandment of the RNA Club on the Lammas, the bell was gifted to the Royal Marines School of Music at Portsmouth. It was reported that although the bell had been rung as a part of a musical concert, it was mainly used as a punishment detail, polishing it to a high shine. It still resides at the School of Music at HMS EXCELLENT, in Portsmouth

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