The ships previous name was "MAREN ( ?) REG", registered in Grimsby .This information was welded on the stern but painted over. The ship had in the pre-war period had fished out of Grimsby as a North Atlantic deep sea trawler and worked the Bear Island /White Sea and Norwegian coasts. The crew were all RNR except myself; I was a seaman, hostilities only. The rest of the crew were all fishermen from Hull and Grimsby. They were the best seamen in the world. I would sail anywhere with trawlermen.

COVENTRY CITY was a very lucky ship with regards to action and also a very happy ship. Our first duties were out of Aberdeen as a Q ship. The ship was simply armed with one four inch quick firing gun, two twin Lewis guns, three rifles and one 0.45" service revolver. The ship was camouflaged as a trawler. The four inch gun was made to like a winch, with a wooden drum on the barrel and another on the tray. We had dropped gunwales fitted on both sides to allow us to fire the gun. We were sent off on patrol variously to Bear Island, Russia and Norway. During this period we made trips into Narvic to assist with the evacuation of troops and equipment. Also, we sailed as rescue ships, with other trawlers on two Russian convoys.

After that period, we underwent a re-fit in Aberdeen to convert the ship for minesweeping duties in the North Sea and Channel areas. This was then followed by another re-fit when we were modified for another role, anti-U-boat patrol. ASDIC was fitted together with depth charge throwers and racks for the depth charges, plus twin 0.5" guns sighted on the afterdeck. We also had a new commander appointed. This was Commander Thomas Woodruff (formerly a naval consultant/adviser to the BBC). We went off on U-boat patrols variously in the North Sea, Irish Sea and Western Approaches..

(above) HMT Coventry City

We were then directed to Londonderry to take full stores and bunkers. In addition, further amounts of coal were taken on deck. We then proceeded to sea under "sealed orders". After leaving Londonderry, the CO informed us that the COVENTRY CITY was bound for St Johns, Newfoundland. This accounted for the additional bunker coal and stores. We were not the only trawler directed there, we were one of a dozen or so. From St Johns, we went on to Norfolk Virginia, USA. At this time the USA had not entered the war and our role was to assist the US Navy in preparations for convoy arrangements and operations. Norfolk was made our base for a while, and we became known as "Churchill's Pirates". All this period we were treated very well by US Navy and civilian personnel.

We were also engaged with normal U-boat patrols between Key West, Florida and the east coast US ports. we were then sent off to Cape town, South Africa. The work here was troop ship escorts to and from Durban. Every time we entered Durban, we were welcomed by the famous" Lady in White " who sang from the pier head to every ship. After some time on the coast, we received orders to proceed to Naples. After arrival at Naples, I left COVENTRY CITY and returned to the UK.

Jim Whittington &
Nick Clark © 2003