Seventy-five years ago on 8th May 1945, VE-Day, HMS Wellington completed its final convoy escort duty in the Second World War’s longest campaign. Begun on 3rd September 1939, the first day of the War, the Battle of the Atlantic’s 5 years, 8 months and 4 days were described by Churchill as ‘… the dominating factor all through the War. Never for one moment could we forget that everything happening elsewhere, on land, at sea or in the air depended ultimately on its outcome and amid all other cares we viewed its changing fortunes day by day with hope or apprehension.’
From 12th December 1939, HMS Wellington steamed 240,000 miles escorting 95 convoys, helping to keep Britain fed, fuelled and fighting. The ship also saw action in Operation Cycle, evacuating British troops from Le Havre in June 1940, and in Operation Torch, the Allied landings in North Africa in November 1942.
For that final duty, HMS Wellington with three Royal Navy corvettes escorted convoy MKS099G on from Gibraltar on 5th May 1945 towards Britain from West Africa. The 29 Merchant Navy ships arrived safely under further escort on 12th May. HQS Wellington is Britain’s only surviving warship from the Battle of the Atlantic.
About the Wellington
The historic ship HQS Wellington is the last surviving member of the Grimsby Class of sloops which served the nation with much distinction in World War Two. She has been moored on the Thames since 1948 during which time she has been the home of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners, a City of London Livery Company.
Today she is part floating museum, library as well as being a unique conference and dining venue. Tours of the library and museum are available on request and these are provided by highly experienced and knowledgeable Master Mariners.
The Wellington Trust is the charitable body which took over the ownership of the Wellington in 2005 in order to ensure the preservation of the ship for the nation. Its specific and primary aims are:
- Restoration, maintenance and preservation of the ship
- Education of the public in the history and traditions of the British Merchant Navy
Chief Executive of the Wellington Trust: Commodore Angus Menzies RN
Patron: HRH The Princess Royal KG KT GCVO QSO