HMS Wrangler Photograph

This week’s photograph is a nice study of the wartime destroyer HMS Wrangler:SKM_C284e18042608540HMS Wrangler was a W class destroyer laid down in 1942 and launched in 1944. We can identify the ship by her pennant number, R48, painted on the side of her hull:SKM_C284e18042608540 - CopyThe W class displaced 1710 tons and were powered by oil burning Admiralty three drum boilers that turned Parsons geared steam turbines, the boilers being trunked into a single funnel:SKM_C284e18042608540 - Copy (4)The W Class were armed with four single 4.7 inch Mk IX guns, two in a pair of turrets for’ard:SKM_C284e18042608540 - Copy (2)And two in turrets aft:SKM_C284e18042608540 - Copy (3)The ships had Type 272 surface-search radar, Type 282 and 285 gunnery radar and Type 291 early warning radar, which can be seen on or around her mast:SKM_C284e18042608540 - Copy (5)Directly in front of this is an open bridge:SKM_C284e18042608540 - Copy (6)She was assigned to the 27th Destroyer Flotilla, together with all of her sister ships, upon completion and Wrangler was working up at Scapa Flow with the Home Fleet from 21 July to 16 August. She then proceeded to the Mediterranean for several months before she was assigned to the Eastern Fleet by late 1944. During Operation Robson, an aerial attack on the oil refinery complex at Pangkalan Brandan, Sumatra, in mid-December, Wrangler escorted the main body of the fleet. Afterwards, the ship sailed to Bombay, India, to have her boiler tubes replaced, a lengthy job that took from 14 January to 19 May 1945. By 17 July, the ship was en route, together with her sister Wakeful to reinforce the British Pacific Fleet operating off the coast of Japan. On 20 August she was selected to remain with the aircraft carrier HMS Indefatigable as part of the British contribution to the occupation forces. Wrangler was present when the Japanese surrendered on 2 September aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

The ship ferried Allied prisoners of war back to Australia before departing Sydney on 8 November and arrived at Plymouth on 16 December. The navy originally intended to reduce her to Category B reserve, but decided to assign Wrangler to the Naval Training Command on 18 January 1946 and she became the chemical warfare training ship based at Devonport Royal Dockyard. From September 1946 until 1950 the ship was with the Rosyth Local Flotilla as a boys’ training ship and had her 40 mm guns removed during her December 1946 – January 1947 refit. Two years later Wrangler was in a collision that damaged her Carley floats and main deck plating. In 1950–51 she was assigned to the 4th Training Flotilla.

After this the ship was assigned as the lead ship in a conversion process that saw her emerge as a Type 15 frigate. She continued serving in this form until 1956 when she was sold to South Africa and renamed SAS Vrystaat. By 1963 she was worn out and suffering from galvanic corrosion so was placed in reserve. In 1976 she was sunk as a target off Cape Point.

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