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The Western Approaches Command

Having completed their working up the ships crossed over to Belfast in twos and threes as additional escorts to convoys etc; as previously stated and on reaching Belfast all ships came under the command of Western Approaches. They then entered Pollock Dock for modification refits as thought necessary by the Admiralty, which lasted for a few weeks.

The first modifications were to take out the Ice Cream maker, the Iced Water Fountains, the Dishwashers, some ships had their Laundries removed, but the most satisfying thing was the removal of the Cafeteria messing to be replaced by General messing(The kind you got in barracks) at least they left us with our small bit of comfort, OUR BUNKS.

The main changes were to enhance the fighting efficiency of the ships, extra ready rails to carry depth charges were welded along the upper deck each side of a ship, this gave the ship a bit more stability and enabled the ships to carry approximately 200 depth charges. Most of the steel work around the binnacle had to be replaced by non-ferrous materials, and communications had to be installed between the bridge and the radar office, also the radio office and the HF/DF cabin. The Arma gyro compasses being inefficient, and had to be replaced with the Admiralty pattern Sperry units, and the Type 128D/DV Asdic sets were modified to Type 144 and 147B sets were added living accommodation and bathrooms were covered with the latest Admiralty insulating material (cork granules). The pitometer log had to be resited, and improvement of stowage in the provision rooms was carried out.

The mark 4 elevating column Oerlikon mountings almost impossible to maintain at sea were replaced with the simple Mk V1A mountings. Splinter shields were supposed to be fitted to all 3 inch guns but not many of the ships had this carried out. There were 109 items for replacement or improvement on the Evart class and 94 on the Buckleys.

As all the modifications were completed the individual ships were allocated to Western Approach Command who allocated them to an active group, some spent time as supernumeraries until more ships became available to form another group. The groups were formed with three Buckleys and three Evarts at Belfast, being the 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th, and later in the war the 15th, made up of all Evarts and the 21st, all Buckleys. Others were sent to mixed groups such as an old destroyer and some corvettes. Quite a number of Buckleys were transferred to the Nore, Portsmouth and Devonport Commands to join local flotillas and were employed as Costal Forces Command Ships, and were instrumental in fighting the E Boats in the North Sea and the English Channel during the Normandy Landings, they were also used to escort convoys in those areas. Three of the Evarts class were converted to become Command ships off the Gold and Sword beaches during the invasion.

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Author: Roy Tynan © 2003
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