HMS Vimiera at Boulogne

Discussion in '1940' started by Chris C, Mar 13, 2020.

  1. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Hi all,

    I just read this stirring account in With Ensigns Flying and thought "well this must be well known" but I can't find any detailed account on the forum. Any exaggeration in this text? Anyone heard of it before?

    After a day in which multiple destroyers evacuated troops from Boulogne (not sure of the date, from the text)

    ... the Vimiera's commanding officer, Lt-Commander R B N Hicks, volunteered to return after dark to save some of the many troops still known to be there. Admiral Ramsay was reluctant to let Hicks go, for the town was rapidly being occupied by the Germans; but he was even more reluctant to condemn the soldiers ashore - men of the Irish and Welsh Guards - to prisoner-of-war cages. So he assented.

    Vimiera entered darkened Boulogne harbour with the ship at action stations. The port was quiet. It was almost completely in enemy hands. Silently and cautiously Hicks took the destroyer alongside and managed to secure her wires without arousing the enemy. No sooner was she secured than hundreds of people swarmed aboard like an avalanche. Rapidly the ship filled with troops and refugees. With his ship crammed tight with 1,400 evacuees, Hicks let go and carefully conned the ancient destroyer through the still quiet harbour. He prayed no German guns would open up. He was almost unable to control the packed destroyer with so much added top weight...

    Vimiera successfully sneaked from Boulogne's harbour unobserved and early next morning steamed safely into Dover.
     
    Harry Ree likes this.
  2. Orwell1984

    Orwell1984 Senior Member

  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    timuk, Chris C and Tricky Dicky like this.
  4. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Yes, lots of minor references but I didn't find an account of this daring night action. I mean, if they hadn't managed it I would have called it madness.
     
  5. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned


    The sort of thing that succeeds because the enemy doesn't think anyone would be crazy enough to try it on
     
    Chris C likes this.
  6. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Have a read of this .
    Interesting bit about a Panzer IV crew claiming to have sunk a destroyer.
     

    Attached Files:

  7. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    From BEF Ships by John de S Winser, apologies if it duplicates what you have already.

    'She (HMS WHITSHEAD) left at 0520 in company with the destroyer VIMIERA and the passenger ships BIARRITZ and QUEEN OF THE CHANNEL carrying part of a Guards' brigade. They were followed at 0948 by another passenger steamer, MONA'S QUEEN, with the remaining troops. The initial arrivals found Boulogne still to be in French hands and, with the aid of the Thames tug GONDIA, the ships were able to berth alongside the quay.'

    The passage goes on about the work of the hospital carriers ; then there are other references to VIMERIA' s subsquent crossings, which I am happy to copy, if of interest.
     
    Chris C likes this.
  8. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

  9. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

  10. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    Chris,

    Not sure if you wanted more!

    The missing bottom lines on the first image are

    VIMIERA AT 1830 brought the totla of British destroyers to six. KEITH.

    AND

    as civilians and prisoners of war, boarded the cargo ship.

    Roy
     
    Chris C likes this.
  11. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Thank you Roy, much appreciated!
     
  12. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Note there's a reference to GREY MIST (see separate thread) on that first page of images....
     

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