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HMS Scylla in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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HMS Scylla


HMS Scylla was built in Scotland and launched in 1942. Scylla was assigned duty in the Arctic, supporting Russia bound convoys. In October she was sent south to support Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa in November 1942, as part of Force O, along with her sister ship HMS Charybdis. In September 1943 Scylla again joined HMS Charybdis to support the landings at Salerno. From October 1943 till February 1944 Scylla was docked at Chatham as she was fitted with new equipment in preparation for D-Day the returned to Scappa to work up and test the new equipment, in April she sailed for Portsmouth to undertake excerises.

On D-Day HMS Scylla was the flagship for Eastern Task Group, providing fire support for the British beaches of Gold, Sword and Juno. On June 23, 1944 Scylla hit a mine off of Normandy and was badly damaged, temporary repairs were done but a full survey of the damage sustained revealed far more extensive damage than originally realized. HMS Scylla was finally scrapped in 1950.


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Those known to have sailed in

HMS Scylla

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

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John Jack MacVicar HMS Scylla

I am trying to find memorabilia for my grandfather who served on the HMS Scylla around 1942. My grandfather is called John Jack MacVicar, who to this day is in brilliant health. Would anyone be able to help me gain any pictures of the Scylla and of a shop of where I could buy a model of the HMS Scylla? This is a fantastic site to help capture memories and get in touch with those who served in the war, as well for younger generations to get a glimpse of what their grandfathers went through. Many thanks

Kate Macvicar

Michael Jepson

HMS Scylla was one of the Dido Class of light cruisers built at Scotts’ shipyard on the River Clyde and commissioned in 1942; her displacement was about 5250 tons. There were originally nine ships of the Dido Class and they were designed to carry ten 5.25 inch guns. However, supplies of these guns were getting short when Scylla (and her sister ship Charybdis) were being built and also the need for effective anti-aircraft fire was vital, and so these ships were armoured with eight 4.5 inch high angle quick firing guns. Being fitted with these smaller guns the two ships got the nickname ‘the toothless terrors!’ – however, German aircraft soon found out that they had good teeth!

Soon after she was commissioned, Scylla took part in her first Russian Convoy (PQ 18) to Murmansk and back (QP)15, during which Rear Admiral Robert Burnett (whom we knew as ‘bold, bad Bob Burnett!) flew his flag in her. Following that, Scylla took part in the Allied landings in North Africa (Operation Torch): on her way home from the Mediterranean she sank a German merchant ship – a blockade runner. Back in the UK she first moored in the River Tyne (where I joined her) and then back to Scapa Flow. She then set off on her second Russian Convoy to Murmansk (JW53) and back (RA53) to Scapa. (Identification of Russian Convoys had been changed from PQ & QP to JW & RA).

Soon after our return to Scapa, King George VI came to inspect the fleet. He inspected Scylla and then we had the honour of taking him back to the mainland at Scrabster.

In early May 1943, we sailed to the River Clyde where we joined the escorting force for RMS Queen Mary on the first leg of her journey across the Atlantic carrying Mr Churchill to meetings with Mr Roosevelt, president of the USA. Scylla’s next assignment was the escorting of convoys of merchant ships from Plymouth to Gibraltar and back. These convoys were much pleasanter than the Russian ones, but there were always plenty of attacks from German aircraft when crossing the Bay of Biscay.

In September, before we joined our sister ship Charybdis and came under the command of Rear Admiral Sir Philip Vian (flying his flag in HMS Euryalus) to protect the aircraft carriers providing air cover for the troops landing at Salerno, we put into Algiers, where all our guns, which had been almost worn out after the many shells we had fired, were re-barrelled.

Those who remember the ancient Greek legends are always fascinated by the fact that, on the way to Salerno, Scylla and Charybdis sailed together through the Straits of Messina on the night that Italy surrendered. While at Salerno, Scylla was ordered to make a dash at full speed to North Africa to pick up as many additional troops as possible and bring them back to reinforce the landings. Shortly after this, and, we thought, as a result of the strain of this high speed trip and of the many near misses from German bombs, one of the main propulsion turbines in the Forward Engine Room was found to have cracked mountings. There was great excitement on board and everyone wanted to come down and inspect the damaged turbine – they realized that we would have to return home for repairs! We did not waste our trip home but took our last convoy back to Plymouth, at the same time giving passage to quite a few Army personnel.

After we got back, we set off for Chatham and there went into dry dock, where we had a major refit. Not only all our repairs carried out, but we had masses of new equipment fitted which was to prepare us for being Rear Admiral Sir Philip Vian’s flagship at the D-Day landings. We were docked in Chatham from October 1943 till February 1944, after which we returned to Scapa to work up again to a high standard of fighting efficiency, and to test all our new equipment. At the end of April we sailed south again and were based at Portsmouth, where we spent the next month going on exercises with other ships and with the Army and the RAF, practicing for landings on enemy beaches.

On 5th June we set off for the Normandy beaches, and our time was taken up with, first of all, bombarding, then patrolling off the Gold, Juno and Sword beaches until, on the night of 23rd June (or D+17) we were mined. The damage was such that we could no longer move under our own steam so were towed back to Portsmouth and, a few days later, towed to Chatham. It was decided that there was no point in carrying out the extensive repairs needed and, in July 1944, HMS Scylla was de-commissioned and later broken up.

Michael Jepson

Edward Kelly

My Dad served on HMS Scylla during World War Two. His name was Edward Kelly, and he was on board for the June 1944 D Day landings, Operation Neptune. He was a driver for the Commanding Officer, Admiral Vian. Dad passed away in 1977 when I was only 13, and although he talked to me about his time during the war, I don't remember a great deal. I would love to hear from anyone who may remember him.

Cheryl Grundy

John Leonard Davies HMS Scylla

My Grandfather, John Leonard Davies, served on HMS Scylla escorting the Russian convoys during the second world war. My Grandfather died in 1978 and all his memories went with him as he would never talk about this period of his life. I'm very interested to learn more good or bad, especially some information regarding my Grandfathers role on this ship during the second world war.

Stephen Davies

CPO. Donald "Timber" Woodcock HMS Scylla

My Uncle Don served on the Scylla for 2˝ years until it was decommissioned. He was a Electrical Petty Officer and his nick name was Timber, short for Timber Dick (Woodcock). He had a mate named Hiscock and his nickname was Scratchen. His recollection is that the ship was not hit by a mine but a mine exploded underneath the ship causing it damage, but didn’t sink it. He remembers Winston Churchill visiting the ship and being told by the Captain not to urinate on deck when at the Arctic or not only the Captain will be telling him off but his partner when he gets home. (Frost bite I presume).

Graham Galea

Lt.Co. Walter George Ward MID HMS Scylla

My father in law, Walter G Ward, who rarely mentioned WWII, was lieutenant commander aboard the HMS Scylla on D-Day. He was on loan from the RCN to the RN and was mentioned in despatches: "For gallantry, skill, determination and undaunted devotion to duty during the landing of Allied Forces on the coast of Normandy."

Gary Forget

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