Previous name:                             HMS PC-74
Subsequent name:        

Official Number:                            167637                                                                 

Class:                                          Special Service Freighter - Q ship  

Pennant No:                                 X85

Laid down:                                   12 June 1918
Builder:                                        J Samuel White & Co Ltd, Cowes, Isle of Wight
Launched:                                    4 October 1918
Into Service:                                 2 December 1919
Out of service:
Fate:                                            broken up 1948


Items of historic interest involving this ship: -


Background Data:   In 1939 Winston Churchill gave authority for a number of merchantmen to be requisitioned for service as Q-ships, although for security purposes they were referred to as Special service Freighters. A fleet of nine small mainly coal-burning vessels were acquired , six for deep-sea work and three for coastal work. All were commissioned as HM ships under their original names but were given RFA cover names and on entering harbour and while in harbour they wore the Blue Ensign, behaved as RFA’s and adopted the RFA commercial practices. None of them was really suitable for their intended roles and met with a complete lack of success. Their Q-ship service officially ended on 2 March 1941




This ship was a Q ship - a commissioned Naval vessel which would assume its RFA name on entering harbour to hide its genuine identity. She never served as an RFA.


June 1917 ordered

12 June 1918 laid down

4 October 1918 launched by J. Samuel White & Co, Cowes as Yard Nr: 1511 named HMS PC 74 for the Royal Navy

December 1918 to June 1919 based at Portsmouth

June 1919 to June 1938 with the A/S flotilla at Portland

12 January 1922 arrived at Portland

2 January 1924 berthed at Falmouth

14 October 1924 Lieutenant Commander W A Wilcock Royal Navy appointed as Commanding Officer

25 July 1928 off the Portland Engineer Commander Alfred Oswald Wood OBE Royal Navy buried at sea from the ship

 Press Cutting West Morn News 26-7-28 PC74

Press Cutting from the Western Morning News of 26 July 1928


26 November 1928 Petty Officer Sidney Ernest PASH discharged dead - natural causes. He is buried in Portland Naval Cemetery



Courtesy and © of The War Graves Photographic Project


24 April 1930 sailed Portland for Portsmouth

10 July 1930 berthed at Portland from Portsmouth

1 March 1932 in company with HMS NIGHTINGALE arrived at Portland Harbour

18 February 1937 at Portland Harbour in collision with a coal hulk Haytian which sank at its moorings. The hulk was an ex Bristol/West India Liner of Elder Dempster Line and owned by G.H. Collins & Co. The tug Portway attended to provide assistance to HMS PC74

 Press Cutting Gloucester Echo 18-2-37 PC74

Cutting from the Gloucestershire Echo of 18 February 1937


16 April 1937 towed HM Trawler Cedar to Porland after the later had fouled a mine cable

20 May 1937 took part in the King George VI Coronation Fleet Review at Spithead

24 August 1937 the hulk Haytian (see above) was raised by Mr L Basso a local salvage expert. The tug Portway provided assistance.

June 1938 to September 1939 in reserve at Chatham

17 September 1939 while using her RFA name was in collision with British Trawler Tom Moore at Liverpool - under repairs at Liverpool until 4 October 1939

September 1939 taken in hand for conversion into a Special Service Freighter by Ardrossan Dry Dock Co, Ardrossan

18 September 1939 Temporary Commander Charles E Hughes-White DSO Royal Navy Rtd in command

26 November 1939 alongside HMS GRIFFIN at Ardrossan both ships were damaged by bumping during a gale. HMS PC 74 required dry docking

8 December 1939 involved in collision with HMS KINGFISHER at Eglington causing slight damage to both ships

16 May 1940 sailed Ardrossan on completion of conversion. Cover name RFA CHATSGROVE Armed with 1 x single 4-inch gun, 2  x 12 pdr guns, 6 x Lewis machine guns, Operated as a Decoy Ship for just one month,  based on Falmouth, for Channel Convoys. before resuming A/S duties

September 1940 to March 1944 in Irish Sea Escort Force, based on Milford Haven

23 August 1942 escorted SS Laristan in tow of tugs Amsterdan and Seine from the 270 degrees Skerries 13 miles to Cardiff

11 November 1942 directed by N.O.I.C. Milford Haven to Hollyhead

20 February 1943 with HMS SWEETBRIAR patrolling between The Smalls to Tuscar

7 March 1943 sailed from Falmouth to operate in the area 49'40"N 08'33"W

March 1944 to April 1944 A/S training Londonderry

April 1944 to July 1945 A/S training Larne

8 June 1944 Temporary Commander C E Hughes-White DSO Royal Navy Rtd awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in the London Gazette of this day

30 October 1944 at Holyhead with one trawler at the directions of the submarine training Commander, Rockabill

11 January 1945 rescued the Master, five crew members and two gunners from the ss Normandy Coast which had been torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U1055 (Oberleutenant zur see Rudolf Meyer) at 53.19N, 04.48W west of Anglesey, Wales in the Irish Sea. Eighteen other crew members were lost

Normandy Coast 01

ss Normandy Coast

12 January 1945 landed the rescued Master and crew members at Hollyhead

25 July 1945 arrived Milford Haven and was placed in reserve

19 July 1948 arrived Porthcawl for demolition by R.S. Hayes



Additional information

Copyright © 2008 – 2018 Christopher J White

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