Steel Sloops in War
At 08:45 on the 27th October 1914, three months after the outbreak of World War 1, the Royal Navy Super-Dreadnought Audacious struck a mine laid by the German Auxiliary Mine-Layer Berlin off Loch Swilly. The ship slowly sank despite all efforts to keep her afloat, by a miracle none of the crew were killed.

The loss of one of the latest and best Battleships to a mine was so traumatic the news was kept secret in Britain until after the war. Seven Super-Dreadnought ships had crossed the two hundred mines in the field, the Admiralty faced the grim fact that RN superiority  over the German Fleet could have been shattered without a shot being fired.

An emergency building program was started to provide sea going mine sweepers which could accompany the Fleet. These ships took on the disused classification of Sloop, the design was christened the Flower Class and were built throughout the course of the War.

In 1917 after Jutland the German Navy abandoned the threat of a full fleet action and concentrated on unrestricted U Boat warfare. The convoy system was re-introduced and the majority of the Sloops were equipped with depth charges and took on the role of convoy escorts.
Acacia Class
The WW1 Flower Class were split into a number of Sub-Classes, the first was the Acacia Class.

Purpose built as Minesweepers 24 were built, they had reinforced bows to improve survivability if struck by a mine. They were armed with 2 x 12 Pdr and 2 x 3 Pdr guns to defend against Destroyer attacks and displaced 1200 tons, could do 16 Knots and had a crew of 90. Length overall 262 ft, Draught 12 ft, beam 33 ft. They had a range of about 2,000 miles. Coal powered carrying up to 250 tons of coal and they were powered by a 4 cyl reciprocating engine with triple expansion and 2 cylindrical boilers driving a single screw.

In 1917 they were re-fitted to carry depth charges and re-deployed as Convoy Escorts. The Acacia were built as a kind of "Economic Destroyers", fitted with conventional steam engines instead of turbines they were greatly restricted in speed but were not meant to maintain Fleet speeds, rather to clear a path ahead of an intended course. Although they were to become the premier Escort Ship of the WW1 and went on to become the template for future Escorts they were never designed for the role, they just happened to be available.
 Acacia May 1915 - September 1922
 Anemone May 1915 - September 1922
 Aster May 1915 - July 1917 Mined
 Bluebell
July 1915 - May 1930
 Daffodil August 1915 - Feb 1935
 Dahlia April 1915 - July 1932
 Daphne May 1915 - Jan 1923
 Foxglove March 1915 - Sep 1946
 Hollyhock May 1915 - Oct 1930
 Honeysuckle April 1915 - Sep 1922
 Iris June 1915 - Jan 1920
 Jonquil May 1915 - May 1920
 Laburnum  June 1915 - Feb 1942 Sunk
 Larkspur  May 1915 - March 1922
 Lavender  June 1915 - May 1917 Sunk
 Lilac  April 1915 - Dec 1922
 Lily  June 1915 - June 1930
 Magnolia  June 1915 - July 1932
 Mallow  July 1915 - July 1919
 Marigold  May 1915 - Jan 1920
 Mimosa  July 1915 - Nov 1922
 Primrose  June 1915 - April 1923
 Sunflower May 1915 - Jan 1921
 Veronica May 1915 - Feb 1935

Azalea Class
The Azalea Class were almost identical to the Acacia, displacing a slightly greater 1250 tons with 267 ft overall, beam of 33. ft.

But they carried the heavier 4.7" guns in two single mounts, as well as a pair of 3 Pdr guns. 12 were built. Begonia was converted to a Q Ship and sailed as SS Dolcis and then SS Jessop with Penant Q10. She was sunk in action with U151, rammed or collided. (U151 was a submarine freighter converted for raiding and outweighed the Begonia)

Mrytle was lost in operations against the Bolsheviks post WW1.

Peony was converted to a Seaplane tender in 1917 and sold between the wars to Greece where she was captured by the Germans and fell victim to a mine and sank September 1943.

Azalea

Sep 1915 - Feb 1923

Begonia Aug 1915 - Oct 1917 Sunk
Camellia Sep 1915 - Jan 1923
Carnation Sep 1915 - Jan 1922
Clematis July 1915 - Feb 1931
Heliotrope Sep 1915 - Jan 1935
Myrtle Oct 1915 - July 1919 Sunk
Jessamine Sep 1915 - Dec 1922
Zinnia Aug 1915 - April 1920
Narcissus Sep 1915 - Dec 1922
Peony Oct 1915 - Aug 1919
Snowdrop Oct 1915 - Jan 1923


Arabis Class
The Arabis sub class represented the largest building program of Sloops, 36 were built. The specifications are the same as for the Azalea Class at 1250 tons, 267 ft overall, beam of 33.5 ft. Main weapons were supposed to be 4.7" but some were fitted with 4" due to a lack of supply.
 
Alyssum Nov 1915 - Mar 1917 sunk
Amaryllis Dec 1915 - Jan 1923
Arabis Nov 1915 - Feb 1916 sunk
Asphodel Dec 1915 - Jun 1920
Berberis Feb 1916 - Jan 1923
Buttercup Nov 1915 - Feb 1920
Campanula Dec 1915 - Sep 1922
Celandine Feb 1916 - Jan 1923
Cornflower Mar 1916 - Dec 1941 sunk
Crocus Dec 1915 - Jul 1930
Cyclamen Feb 1916 - Jul 1932
Delphinium Dec 1915 - Oct 1933
Genista Feb 1916 - Oct 1916 sunk
Gentian Dec 1916 - Jul 1919 sunk
Geranium Nov 1915 - 1920
Gladiolus Oct 1915 - Sep 1920
Godetia Jan 1916 - Feb 1937
Hydrangea Mar 1916 - Apr 1920
Lobelia Mar 1916 - Mar 1920
Lupin May 1916 - Mar 1946
Marguerite Nov 1915 - 1919
Mignonette Jan 1916 - Mar 1917 sunk
Myosotis Apr 1916 - Jan 1923
Nasturtium Dec 1915 - Apr 1916 sunk
Nigella Dec 1915 - Nov 1922
Pansy Feb 1916 - Jan 1920
Pentstemon Feb 1916 - Apr 1920
Petunia Apr 1916 - Dec 1922
Poppy Nov 1915 - Apr 1923
Primula Dec 1915 - Mar 1916 sunk
Rosemary Nov 1915 - Dec 1947
Snapdragon Dec 1915 - May 1934
Valerian Feb 1916 - Oct 1926 sank
Verbena Nov 1915 - Oct 1933
Wallflower Nov 1915 - Aug 1931
Wisteria Dec 1915 - Jan 1931

Aubretia Class - Q Ships

Q Ships were warships designed to look like merchantmen, their tactic was to lure a U-Boat to the surface and then engage it with guns. It is not clear if all the Class were actually employed as Q ships, where I have established that they were I have given their Q Numbers.

The Aubretia and the following Anchusa Class were extraordinary ships. Using the Flower hull and machinery commercial ship yards were given orders to construct ships along their own standard patterns, hence there is no standard to the designs.

Weapons were hidden in a variety of ways, including mounting on reversing hatches, screened by drop shields and false deck houses. Secrecy about the ships was very tight and there is little information to be had even to this day. They were however the first ships to be purpose built as Convoy Escorts and were classed as Convoy Sloops.

Displacement 1250 tons, 267 ft overall, 33.5 ft beam, 11-12 ft draught. Armament varied but nominally 3 x 12 Pdr, 2 x 3 Pdr. When operating openly generally 2 x 4" guns, a 3 Pdr and Depth Charge throwers.

Q-Ships were a violation of International Law but were considered justified due to U-Boat operating out of the law also. The tactic was an old one often used by the RN in previous wars to lure enemy ships close to an armed merchantman, it was a matter of pride and old law that a ship showed it's real flag before opening fire. The phrase has passed into general use: Showing your true Colours.

In 1915 the Baralong incident laid Britain open to war crime charges when the HMS Baralong shot U-Boat survivors in the water, the Captain claimed he believed they were attempting to swim to another merchantman with the intent of capturing it! Six U-Boat survivors who made it to the Nicosian were killed by a boarding party from the Baralong.

Aubretia Q-13 Jun 1916 - Oct 1922
Heather Q-16 Jun 1916 - Feb 1932
Salvia Q-15 Jun 1916 - Jun 1917 sunk
Tamarisk Q-11 Jun 1916 - Oct 1922
Tulip Q-12 Jul 1916 - Apr 1917 sunk
Viola Jul 1916 - Oct 1922
Andromeda Jun 1917 Transferred to France
Gaillardia May 1917 - Mar 1918 sunk
Hibiscus Nov 1917 - Jan 1923
Lychnis Aug 1917 - Sep 1921
Montbretia Sep 1917 - Jan 1923
Polyanthus Q-36 Sep 1917 - May 1921


Anchusa Class
Like the Aubretia Class the Anchusa were purpose built Escort Sloops, deliberately designed to resemble merchantmen. Unlike the original Flowers they were never equipped with mine sweeping gear but were designed to carry depth charges and four throwers.

Other than that the hull varied little from the original design, the ship's had already proved they were up to the task. The large building program of 28 ships was in response to the resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare and the final recognition of the need for convoys and suitable escorts.

They were slightly larger at 1290 tons, length 262 ft overall, 35 ft beam with up to 13.5 ft draught. Armament varied, they were designed for 2 x 12 Pdr, 1 x 7.5" Howitzer and 4 throwers, but usually only carried 2 x 4" and various lighter weapons.

One ship survives the day and can be seen moored on the Thames in London, HMS Saxifrage, available for functions hire.

Anchusa Apr 1917 - Jul 1918 sunk
Arbutus Sep 1917 - Dec 1917 sunk
Auricula Oct 1917 - Feb 1923
Bergamot May 1917 - Aug 1917 sunk
Bryony Oct 1917 - 1938
Candytuft May 1917 - Nov 1917 sunk
Ceanothus Jun 1917 - May 1922
Chrysanthemum Nov 1917 - 1995
Convolvulus May 1917 - 1922
Coreopsis Sep 1917 - Sep 1922
Cowslip Oct 1917 - Apr 1918 sunk
Dianthus Nov 1917 - Jun 1921
Eglantine Jun 1917 - Dec 1921
Gardenia Dec 1917 - Jan 1923
Gilia Feb 1918 - Jan 1923
Harebell May 1918 - Feb 1939
Ivy Oct 1917 - Feb 1920
Marjoram Dec 1917 - Jan 1921 sunk
Mistletoe Nov 1917 - Jan 1921
Pelargonium Mar 1918 - May 1921
Rhododendrom Oct 1917 - May 1918 sunk
Saxifrage Jan 1918 - HMS President
Silene Mar 1918 - Dec 1921
Spiraea Nov 1917 - Oct 1927
Sweetbriar Oct 1917 - Oct 1927
Syringa Sep 1917 - Jan 1923
Tuberose Nov 1917 - Jan 1923
Windflower Apr 1918 - Oct 1927

24 Class
It seems the war had exhausted imagination! 24 Class refers to the number of ships planned in this build program

The so called "24" Class were the last Sloops to be built in WW1, a total of 22 were completed, but only 10 before the end of the war. All were named after famous Racehorses and are sometimes referred to as the Racehorse Class, although Jane’s of 1919 is clear they are known as the Type 24, Jane’s also notes they were never intended as Q Ships & that they were poor sea keepers.

Most were sold or scrapped in 1920. They are something of an oddity as they regressed back to Fleet Minesweepers, they have the appearance of a merchantman and are also oddly symmetric with a single mast and an aft deckhouse to match the Bridge, this together with dazzle paint was reckoned to confuse a U-Boat attempting to get a torpedo firing solution.

Personally I think they were intended to be Escorts but with the end of the war nigh the powers were keen to return to old standards and re-classified them as Fleet Minesweepers. 1320 tons, 267 ft length overall, beam 34'10" and 12 ft Draught, weapons were 2 x 4" and one or more 3 Pdr.

The overall similarity to the Flower is lost when the hull design is compared, it appears that sea keeping was lost in favour of an attempt to fool torpedo aiming. The re-classification to Minesweeper is a rather sad indication of thinking at the end of WW1, the strange belief that the U-Boat genie could somehow be returned to the bottle and things would go back to the way they were. This astonishing attitude would prevail until even the blindest had to see the Nazi U-Boats rolling off the slipways.

Ard Patrick Jun 1918 - 1920
Cicero Jul 1918 - Dec 1920
Flying Fox Mar 1918 - Unknown
Minoru 1918 - 1920
Orby Oct 1918 - 1922
Rocksand Jul 1918 - 1922
Spearmint Sep 1918 - 1922
Bend Or Sep 1918 - 1920
Harvester Nov 1918 - 1922
Rocksand Jul 1918 - 1922
Iroquois Aug 1918 - Jun 1937
Sefton Jul 1918 - 1922
Silvio Apr 1918 - 1946
Sir Bevis May 1918 - Unknown
Donovan Apr 1918 - 1922
Sanfoin Jun 1918 - 1922
Sir Hugo Sep 1918 - Dec 1921
Ladas Sep 1918 - 1920
Persimmon Mar 1918 - 1920
Sir Visto Dec 1918 - 1920
Ormonde Jun 1918 - 1947
Merry Hampton Dec 1918 - Nov 1944 sunk

Between the Wars
When building work eventually restarted after the great depression and national strike it would be reasonable to assume the threat of the U-Boat would be foremost in the minds of planners and designers.

Sadly not, the first post war Sloops were back to being Fleet Minesweepers. The concept of the "cheap destroyer" was lost and gradually the Sloop increased in power and armament until it matched contemporary destroyers.

When the Second World War loomed the Royal Navy was yet again without a suitable vessel for Convoy Escort. It is perhaps with heavy irony that the first ships to roll off the slipways to bridge the gap were again called Flower Class, but as Sloop was in use still the old designation of Corvette was revived to cover them.

Bridgewater Class
The Bridgewater owed a lot to the Flower Class Sloop, it was of similar size, design and armament. But they were upgraded to turbine power with twin screws, though oddly with no speed advantage.

They were, against all logic, also back to being Fleet Minesweeper Sloops, which could also act as Gun Boats on foreign stations, the U-Boat bogeyman was no longer a problem it seems.

Displacement 1045 tons, beam 34 ft, Length 264 ft and draught 11.5 ft they were almost identical to the Flower and had the only marginally better speed of 17 knots. Armed with two 4" high angle guns. The only nod to sanity was they were fitted for depth charges, but not with. Complement was 100 in peace time.

Originally it had been intended to fit one of the two ships with turbines and the other with diesels to conduct comparison trials, but in the event no suitable diesels were available. Main design changes to the Flower is the foremast moved behind the Bridge, the raised forecastle extending two thirds of the hull from the bow, a heavy weather advantage that would have to be re-learned the hard way in the new Flower Class to come.

Although of no speed advantage the twin screws provide hugely better maneuverability, crucially in tight turns which was the key to defeating a U-Boat which themselves relied on maneuverability in attack and to avoid destruction on the surface.

Both Bridgewater ships would go on to survive the next war.

 Bridgewater  Sep 1928 -1947
 Sandwich  Sep 1928 -1946

Hastings Class
A number of classes followed the basic design of the Bridgewater, the first was the Hastings Class.

A fifth Hastings Class, the Hindustan was built for the Royal Indian Navy and the flash point for the Indian Mutiny of Feb 1946.

266 ft overall, Beam 34 ft 1", 17 Knots, draught 12 ft 6 in, armament accounts vary but was probably a standard 4" and a high angle 4" like the Bridgewater.

Scarborough was disarmed prior to the war and converted to a survey ship and later rearmed with a 4" high angle, a 12 Pdr and 15 depth charges, later increased to 80.

Hastings was stripped of her aft gun while serving as a fishery protection vessel
Hastings Apr 1930 - 1946
Folkestone Feb 1930 - 1947
Penzance Apr 1930 - Aug 1940 sunk 
Scarborough Mar 1930 - 1949 


Shoreham Class
8 ships were built between 1930 to 1932. Many accounts state the Shoreham and the Hastings class carried a 4.5" gun, but this is not borne out in accounts and photographs and is more likely a confusion from 4 x 0.5" machine guns retro fitted.

Armament was increased during the war, Shoreham for instance received a two quad 0.5" machine guns, three 20 mm and a 2 Pdr pom-pom. Built as Minesweepers with an auxiliary role as Anti-Submarine. Length 250 ft at the waterline, probably 267 ft overall, identical to the previous classes, speed of 17 knots. Displacement 1105 tons, armament 2 x 4" guns, quad .5" machine guns.

Bideford Apr 1931 - 1949
Fowey Nov 1930 - 1946
Rochester Jul 1931 - 1951
Shoreham Nov 1930 - 1946
Dundee Sep 1932 - Sep 1940 sunk
Falmouth Apr 1932 - 1968
Milford Jun 1932 - 1949
Weston Jul 1932 - 1947

Grimsby Class
Accounts vary on the Classification of these interwar Sloops, in truth there is so little difference between them that the only distinction between classes is probably the Batch in which they were ordered.

The Grimsby though were broader in the beam and more heavily armed. 8 were built for the RN, 1 for the RIN and 4 for the RAN. The RAN ships were actually built on the previous hull with the narrower beam and the Indian ship was 30 ft longer and with a intermediate beam of 35 ft 6" making them rather doubtful inclusions in this class.

The RAN ships were equipped as Escort Destroyers with 3 x 4", 4 x 3 Pdr, machine guns, depth charges and 2 twin 21" torpedo tubes. The RN ships however were still completed as Minesweepers, but range had been increased to an impressive 5,700 NM. Length 250 ft waterline, 266 ft overall, beam 36 ft, displacement 1,300 tons. Armament 2 x 4.7" guns with a 3" superimposed on the forward gun and a quad 0.5" machine gun.

Aberdeen and Fleetwood are armed with 4 x 4" Guns in twin turrets, but Aberdeen has her aft turret removed to allow for additional accommodation while attached to the Flagship of the Mediterranean pre war, both are listed as "Improved Grimsby Class" and closely resemble those built for the RAN.

Aberdeen Jan 1936 - 1949
Deptford Feb 1935 - 1948
Fleetwood Mar 1936 - 1959
Grimsby Jul 1933 - May 1941 sunk
Leith Sep 1933 - 1946
Londonderry Jan 1935 - 1948
Lowestoft Apr 1934 - 1946
Wellington May 1934 - 1948

Bittern Class
The Bittern Class are proof positive that sanity was not to be had between the wars when it came to escort ships.

HMS Bittern was to be a true escort vessel, gone was the mine sweeping gear, she was designed with depth charges and 3 x 4.7" guns, 4 x 3 Pdr and a quad 0.5" machine gun. The hull remained the same at 266 ft overall and with the broad beam of the Grimsby at 36 ft, displacement was 1650 tons and improved engines gave a higher speed of 18-19 knots. She was a well armed ship, though lacking in light AA as were all ships pre-war.

But Bittern was completed as Enchantress, an Admiral's yacht, the aft turret was replaced with a deckhouse accommodation and even after war was declared the turret was not replaced (probably because the complex turret mount and shaft had never been fitted).

HMS Stork fared even worse, she was completed as a Survey Ship with no weapons at all, just the ticket on the eve of war. After the outbreak of war she was refitted with high angle 4" guns in three twin mounts, losing valuable months of Operational life. The third ship was named HMS Bittern (presumably the Admiral did not like the name for his own ship) and completed as designed with 3 x 4.7" guns, but she was lost to air attacks off Norway, highlighting along with many other disasters the chronic need for better AA fit.
Enchantress Dec 1934 - Feb 1952
Stork Apr 1936 - Jun 1958
Bittern Jul 1937 - Apr 1940 Sunk

Egret Class
In the Egret Class the well proved hull of the Grimsby  Sloops was used as a basis, but extended to 292.5 ft and widened again to 37.5 ft. Displacement was 1250 tons, 1640 fully loaded. Speed was 19 knots and peacetime compliment was 188, war time is not known but records show that 194 crew were killed on Egret when she was sunk by a Glider Bomb.

Recognition of the air threat was clear, she was armed with 8 x 4" High Angle guns in 4 turrets, but again there was a failure to provide close in weapons, a single quad 0.5" machine gun was mounted. Two of the Class would be lost to air attacks.

Auckland was laid down as Heron, but then changed to Auckland and was to have been completed as an unarmed Survey Vessel for the New Zealand Station. But with the worsening political situation she was armed as originally designed. Accounts note that her forward guns continued firing even after she was sinking astern. Survivors abandoned ship just before she blew up and were machine gunned in the water by German aircraft.

Not surprisingly ships of this type are often referred to as Destroyers, apart from a lower speed and the lack of torpedoes there is little to distinguish them. Other Navies adopted the Class DE or Destroyer Escort, but the RN only flirted with the idea in the Hunt Class Escort Destroyer. No other country had to defend such extended lines of maritime communications yet the need for a dedicated Escort Ship was shelved for Destroyers and Minesweepers. The principle of the Destroyer was always speed and more speed, a long range convoy escort needed endurance in heavy weather and range, which suited a broader beamed ship than a destroyer.
Egret May 1938 - Aug 1943 sunk
Auckland Jun 1938 - Jun 1941 sunk
Pelican Sep 1938 - Nov 1958
Black Swan Class
Also known as the Modified Egret Class, this and the Modified Black Swan were the best known of the War Sloops, they were constructed throughout the war and were premier hunter killers, ironically considered too good to tie down to a convoy they were often employed in Support Groups which would go to the aid of an attacked convoy, or track submarines as they deployed or returned to base.

Their impressive armament also meant they were sometimes used for other duties such as shore bombardment. The hull was again the same tried and trusted design, but increased again to a length of 283 ft and a beam of 38 ft. With a speed of 19 knots hey were capable of catching any of conventional U-Boats and had the endurance for long range convoy work giving 7,500 NM at 12 knots cruising.

Armed with 6 x 4" guns as opposed to 8 on the Egret this gave the Class a much greater Depth Charge capacity and improved sea keeping and allowed for additional equipment to be fitted later in the war.

Displacement was 1600 and 1250 unladen. Apart from the 4" guns they carried 4 x 2 Pdr pom-pom and a quad 0.5" machine gun. Later the AA fit was changed to 12 x 20mm Oerlikons in 6 twin mounts.
Black Swan Jul 1939 - Sep 1956
Flamingo Apr 1939 - 1959
Erne Aug 1940 - Oct 1965
Ibis Nov 1940 - Nov 1942 sunk

Modified Black Swan Class

Displacement increased throughout the class construction up to 1950 tons full load, the modifications mainly concerned the increase in AA weapons, but as ships were retro-fitted there was little to distinguish them apart.

The Hunter Killer Groups, or Support Groups, often operated within range of German Aircraft and surface units making the unusually heavy gun armament for an Escort Ship invaluable. Early losses during the war showed the need for increased short range AA but it was not until the Korean War that the Class received the 40mm weapons that proved most effective.

Post-war the Sloops were employed back in their pre-war role as Gun Boats of the Empire, such as what remained of it. In 1947 they were re-classified as Frigates, though this role did not really fit them as the Admiralty were unwilling to allow them to be modified to carry greater anti submarine weapons at the expense of their gun armament. They operated in the troubled Chinese theatre, notably the infamous Yangtze Incident, and in the Korean War, but not as Escort Vessels. By the war's end their limited speed meant they were already being outclassed by the later model U-Boats and they were too slow to operate as Fleet Escorts as they could not keep up with the Carriers. They declined as the Empire did as foreign stations where they were much needed and appreciated slowly fell away. It says much for the class that construction continued on some of the ships even after the end of the war when most ships were being cancelled even before the war's end.  
Acteon Jul 1945 - Dec 1958
Alacrity Sep 1944 - 1956
Amethyst May 1943 - 1957
Chanticleer Nov 1942 - Nov 1943 damaged
Cygnet Jul 1942 - 1965
Crane Nov 1942 - 1965
Hart Jul 1943 - 1959
Hind Sep 1943 - 1959
Kite Oct 1942 - Aug 1944 sunk
Lapwing Jul 1943 - Mar 1945 sunk
Lark Aug 1943 - Feb 1945 damaged
Magpie Mar 1943 - 1959
Mermaid Nov 1943 - 1959
Modeste Jan 1944 -1961
Nereide Jan 1944 -1958
Opossum Nov 1944 - 1960
Peacock Dec 1943 - 1958
Pheasant Dec 1942 - 1963
Redpole Feb 1943 - 1960
Snipe Dec 1945 - 1960
Sparrow Feb 1946 - 1958
Starling Oct 1942 - 1965
Whimbrel Aug 1942 - 1949
Wild Goose Oct 1942 - Feb 1956
Woodcock Nov 1942 - Nov 1955
Woodpecker Jun 1942 - Feb 1944 sunk
Wren Aug 1942 - Feb 1956



HMS Primrose, a Flower (Acacia) Class Minesweeper Sloop


HMS Jonquil, Flower Class (Acacia) Minesweeper Sloop. The two funnels show the double boiler arrangement, but the ship had only a single screw. Reciprocating rather than turbine engines meant they had half the speed of a contemporary Destroyer of the day. This photo was taken in 1951 and shows Jonquil as Carvalho Araujo in the Portuguese Navy, fitted out as a Survey Vessel. The WW1 Flowers had a reputation for good sea keeping which was not passed on to their WWII namesakes.


HMS Bluebell, Flower (Acacia) Class, seen on the right. Good sea keeping and long range proved to be better features for a Convoy Escort than high speed and heavy armament. After the Battle of Jutland it became apparent there was unlikely to be another major Fleet action and the Minesweepers were reluctantly released for Convoy Escort duties.


HMS Laburnum, Flower (Acacia) Class Minesweeper Sloop. Survived WW1 to be sunk by the Japanese at Singapore in 1942.


HMS Azalea, Flower (Azalea) Class Minesweeper Sloop. In Malta after hitting a mine. The bows of the Flower Class Sloop were triple skinned to improve the chances of surviving such a hit, as Azalea did here.


HMS Peony, pictured here post war as the ferry Ardena. Many Flowers went on to Merchant life, testimony to their robust design and good sea keeping qualities.


HMS Cyclamen, Flower (Arabis) Class Minesweeper Sloop showing some serious addition to her wireless kit. Built as Fleet Minesweepers the Flower Class Sloops were regarded as less valuable than a Destroyer and so were released to Convoy Duty instead of them. The aerial refit is probably post war while serving on the East Indies Station.


HMS Delphinium, Flower (Arabis) Class. The number of Flowers built in WW1 show just how seriously the mine threat was taken, the fear was that the Fleet would be lured onto mine field and be decimated. Converted trawlers were used to combat mines in merchant shipping zones, but these Sloops were purpose built to clear a path for the Fleet in the deep waters.


HMS Lupin, Flower (Arabis) Class. Post war many Flower Class Sloops were assigned roles as colonial gun boats, HMS Lupin was typical and carried out peace keeping duties in the Persian Gulf. She was converted to oil in 1938 and went on to survive WWII also.


HMS Lychnis, Aubretia Class Q Ship. A nasty shock for any U-Boat which decided to conserve torpedoes and surface to attack, hidden guns would at once open up on the hapless U-Boat. Transferred to the Indian Navy in 1921, Seen here as the RIN Cornwallis.


HMS Tamarisk, Flower (Aubretia) Q Ship. Q Ships operated under conditions of absolute secrecy, crews were disguised as passengers and civilian crew. German command were to claim that it was the use of Q-Ships that forced them to fire on merchant vessels without warning.


Typical of a hidden gun on a Q Ship.


HMS Harebell, Flower (Anchusa) Class Convoy Sloop. Due to the secret nature of these ships little information is to be had, but clearly in this shot she openly shows her weapons, possibly taken post WW1 when she operated as a fishery protection vessel.


HMS Saxifrage, Flower (Anshusa) Class Convoy Sloop, later HMS President, now a conference centre on the Thames. It is not clear if she served as a Q Ship but Janes Fighting Ships 1919 lists her as "Q-Boat Flower Class"


HMS Gilia, Flower (Anchusa) Class Q ship. Taken just after the war she is showing her colours but the guns are out of sight.


HMS Ormonde, Type 24 Minesweeping Sloop, although Jane's rightly points out the lack of minesweeping gear and also the deliberate attempt to mask which end of the ship is which.


HMS Merry Hampton, Type 24 Minesweeping Sloop. Converted to an unarmed survey ship and renamed HMS Herald, this shot clearly shows the stern is bow shaped, but this deceit cost the ships their sea keeping ability.


Quad Vickers Weston Gun. Jane's is vague on small armaments on ships, the Grimsby Class for instance is quoted at 11 machine guns, but not what type or where. It is probably most were, as on modern ships, portable and mounted on simple posts when required. This weapon however is easy to spot and is often placed on top of a turret or a bandstand arrangement. It is probably the WWI era Vickers Mk III 0.5 inch water cooled gun which was still in extensive use in WWII. Mounted one above the other it makes a distinctive shape that can be easily spotted in photos.


HMS Bridgewater. While classed as a Minesweeper Sloop the Jane's addition 1937 lumps all post war Sloops and surviving Flower Class ships as "Escort Vessels," but this could be referring to the Escorting of the Fleet as originally intended. The design of the Bridgewater is obviously very similar to the WWI Flower Class.


HMS Folkstone, Hastings Class Minesweeper Sloop. A high and extended forecastle was from lessons learned in WWI to allow the ships to operate in heavy seas while on convoy escort, All the mid war Sloops were destined for foreign service as Gun Boats, the Fleet Minesweeping role was intended for war.


HMS Penzance, Hastings Class Minesweeper Sloop, the use of turbine engines prevented mass production of these ships so construction could not be ramped up as war approached.


HMS Shoreham, the design called for the mine sweeping gear to be removable and depth charge racks and throwers to replace them. But it seems an odd restriction when smaller ships were able to combine both.


HMS Leith, the 3" AA Gun can be clearly seen forward of the Bridge, but the Quad 0.5" has been removed, it would have been on a tower between the aft mast and the searchlight. It has probably been replaced with a Pom-Pom in a "well" in the same position.


HMS Wellington, Grimsby Class Sloop, moored at Temple Stairs, Victoria Embankment, Thames, London. Home of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners.


HMS Stork as built, fitted out as an unarmed survey vessel. Peace in out time?


HMS Stork, re-armed as an AA Sloop with 6 x 4" high angle guns. Under the command of the Ace U-Boat killer: Captain Walker.


HMS Auckland, the Egret Class show a shift to AA defences but the fourth gun mounting restricted the number of depth charges they could carry and there was an inadequate provision of close in weapons.


HMS Pelican, Egret Class, equipped with depth charges in place of mine sweeping gear. These highly effective ships were considered too valuable to use as escorts and instead formed hunter killer groups.


HMS Black Swan, the aft most turret has been removed to reduce top weight and allow for additional depth charges.


HMS Ibis, Black Swan Class Sloop, sunk by airborne torpedo attack.


HMINS Kistna, Modified Black Swan Class, one of the highly successful Modified Black Swan Class Sloops, built for the Indian Navy and served until 1981 after a name change to INS Krishna. The stump mast aft probably mounts the early 272 Radar, RN ships had their tripod masts replaced to allow the radar to be retro fitted to the foremast.


HMS Mermaid, Modified Black Swan Class, showing the stronger lattice style mast which allowed for radar and additional communications gear.


HMS Starling, Modified Black Swan, shown as built with tripod foremast and stump aft mast. The array forward of the foremast is Radar 285, an early gun director. Under the command of Captain Starling she helped turn the war against the U-Boat from defensive to offensive.


HMS Amethyst, Modified Black Swan, post war the Bird Class Sloops were dispersed to the remains of the Empire to take up Patrol Duties. Amethyst's name rang around the World in 1949 when she escaped Chinese Communist forces blockading her and sent the immortal signal: "Have rejoined the Fleet south of Woosung. No damage or casualties. God Save the King." The reference to casualties was during the breakout, many were killed and injured prior to this, including the Ship's cat. In this picture she carries the "F" prefix to her pennant number instead of the wartime "U" and she has a twin 40mm Bofors Mount just aft the funnel.