HMS Hesperus


Yeovil's own 'Havant' Class Destroyer


HMS Hesperus was 'adopted' by Yeovil and District in its National Savings "Warship Week" that began on 28 February 1942, in which the building cost, in excess of £300,000 (just under £15 million at today's value) was raised. A plaque carved by Raymond Brothers of Manor Road, from local walnut, was presented to the Captain of the ship in August 1942. In return, the ship's crest was presented to the Borough of Yeovil by the Commissioners of the Board of Admiralty. This is now displayed in the Mayor's Parlour in the Town House (see Gallery).

HMS Hesperus was laid down on 6 July 1938 and launched on 1 August 1939. The ship, one of the last three of the 'H' class, was originally ordered for the Brazilian Navy and first named Juruena. She was not complete by the outbreak of war and was consequently acquired by the Royal Navy and commissioned as HMS Hearty on 15 January 1940. To avoid confusion with a sister ship, HMS Hardy, she was again renamed, this time Hesperus, on 27 February 1940.

Hesperus was built by Thorneycroft at Woolston, Southampton. The ship displaced 1,400 tons and had a complement of 145 officers and men. It originally mounted three 4.7" (119mm) guns, one 3" (76mm) Anti-Aircraft gun and four 21" (533mm) torpedo tubes. Later, one gun was replaced by hedgehog depth charge projectors.

The ship saw most of her wartime service in the North Atlantic under Commander DGFW MacIntyre DSO**, RN, the "Bulldog of the Atlantic". He was also the Commander of Escort Group B2, based at Gladstone Dock, Liverpool.

On convoy duty and anti-submarine sweeps she was particularly successful, being credited with the sinking of five U-boats and several others damaged. In one engagement, on 26 December 1942, HMS Hesperus rammed and sank the submarine U-357 that she had brought to the surface by depth charge attack.

After service with the Reserve Fleet, HMS Hesperus was sold for scrapping in May 1947. Her white ensign (see Gallery) now hangs in the tower of St John's church.


U-boats destroyed

  • U-208 on 7 December 1941, by depth charges with HMS Harvester

  • U-93 on 15 January 1942, by ramming, depth charges and gunfire

  • U-357 on 26 December 1942, by ramming and depth charges

  • U-191 on 23 April 1943 by depth charges

  • U-186 on 12 May 1943 by depth charges

Battle Honours Awarded

  • Norway 1940

  • Atlantic 1840-45

  • English Channel 1945


Many thanks to Terry Bush for much of the above information.



HMS Hesperus, photographed in 1942 while in Hvalfjord, Iceland.


Again photographed in 1942, HMS Hesperus returns to Liverpool after convoy duty. The damage to the bow was the result of ramming and sinking U-357.


The ship's company stand to attention on HMS Hesperus.


HMS Hesperus' crest on display in the Mayor's Parlour at the Town House. The crest was presented to the Borough of Yeovil by the Commissioners of the Board of Admiralty in 1942. Photographed in 2018.


At the centre, HMS Hesperus' white ensign now adorns the tower of St John's church. Photographed in 2023.


A report from the 5 May 1945 edition of the Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser.


... and from the 1 February 1947 edition of the Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser.