Return to Newmarket at War

HMS Newmarket

H.M.S. Newmarket- two of them

HMS Newmarket, launched 1907, sunk 1917

HMS Newmarket, launched 1907, sunk 1917

hms-newmarket-badgeThe “Newmarket” (833 gross tons) was built in 1907, the final of four sister ships built by the Earle’s Company, Hull. The twin-screw ships were built for the Great Eastern Railway Company. Before the war they operated as mail packets travelling between Britain and the Continent. (The other ships were the Clacton 820 gross tons, the Cromer and the Yarmouth).

The Newmarket was commissioned as an auxiliary minesweeper on 8 October 1914 and armed with two 12 pounder guns. In service in Mediterranean from 1915.

On July 17th, 1917, HMS Newmarket was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine UC-38 (Alfred Klatt), at 37.17 N 26.05 E, south of Nikaria Island in the Aegean Sea. 70 men were lost. They are commemorated on the Navy Memorials in the ports where they enlisted, i.e. Chatham, Plymouth or Portsmouth.


USS Robinson (DD-88) was a Wickes class destroyer that was commissioned too late to see service during the First World War but served in the Royal Navy as HMS Newmarket during the Second World War.


The Robinson was named after Isaiah Robinson, a US naval officer during the War of Independence who had some success against British ships before being blockaded in the Delaware River. The Robinson was built by the Union Iron Works, San Francisco. She was launched on 28 March 1918 and commissioned at Mare Island Navy Yard on 19 October 1918, with Commander George Wirth Simpson in command.

The Robinson left San Francisco on 24 October, heading for Norfolk, Virginia. She passed through the Panama Canal on 3rd November and reached Norfolk on 8 November. Three days later the First World War came to an end. Anyone who served on her between 3 and 8 November qualified for the First World War Victory Medal, presumably because the last stage of the trip to New York took her through the war zone.

The highpoints of her American career all came in 1919. In May 1919 she was part of the naval force that supported the transatlantic flight being attempted by three Curtiss NC sea planes. On 8 May she sighted NC-3. On 15 May NC-4, the only one of the three aircraft to complete the flight, flew overhead on its way to Trepassey Bay, Newfoundland.

The Robinson then moved towards the Azores, forming part of a line of destroyers used to mark the route. After NC-4 safely reached the Azores, the Robinson moved into a position to support the fourth leg of the flight, and once again sighted the aircraft as she flew overhead on her way to Lisbon.

The Robinson underwent an overhaul at Norfolk in the summer of 1919. In October 1919 she acted as part of the naval honour guard for the King of Belgium as he visited the United States on the transport USS George Washington. In November 1919 she repeated this duty, this time for the Prince of Wales, who was visiting the United States on HMS Renown.

In 1920 the Robinson took part in fleet manoeuvres off Guantanamo Bay and the Panama Canal, then in May entered the Portsmouth Naval Yard, where she remained for the next year. In May 1921 she moved to Newport, from where she operated in local waters. In November 1921 she moved to Charleston where she continued with local operations. She then moved to Philadelphia, where on 3 August 1922 she was decommissioned.

A mass of information about this ship in the Royal Navy comes from Les Teague whose father was a Chief Petty Officer on HMS Newmarket, joining the ship after she underwent a refit at Sheerness in 1941.

Ex USS ROBINSON (Type C – NEWPORT-Class) built by Union Iron Works and launched on 28th March 1918. Build was completed on 19th October 1918 and in 1939 the ship was in Reserve. Transferred under US/UK Lease Lend Agreement in 1940 and taken over by the Royal Canadian Navy at Halifax on 26th November 1940, pending arrival of the Royal Navy ship’s company.

She commissioned for Royal Navy service at Halifax into the RN as HMS NEWMARKET on 5th December 1940. In common with other TOWN Class ships the name was shared by a town in Cambridgeshire and also a town in New Hampshire, USA.

After North Atlantic escort duty, Newmarket (Lt Cdr C W North from 8 Oct 1940) was at Sheerness for repairs from late June to November 1941. After post-repair trials she joined the 8th Escort Group at Londonderry, Northern Ireland, for convoy defence in the Northwestern Approaches.

December 6th, 1941 – Newmarket was in collision with the Norwegian tanker GRENAA at Londonderry and resumed convoy defence duty after repairs.

December 9th, 1941 – Newmarket deployed as escort for Convoy ON44. Liverpool to North America but left after one day.

January 3rd, 1942 – Newmarket joined escort for Convoy ON52. (Liverpool to North America) which had departed Liverpool 31st December 1941, but she left after one day with boiler defects.

February 1942 – Newmarket was repaired at a shipyard at Lough Foyle near Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

February 30th, 1942 –  She arrived at Liverpool and was being refitted until the end of March 1942. She then returned to convoy escort duty in the Northwestern Approaches.

April 3rd, 1942 – Newmarket was deployed as escort for convoy UR18 (Loch Ewe, Scotland to Reykjavic, Iceland). Convoy UR 18 was split into two parts UR 18 “Fast” and UR 18 “Slow”. Newmarket, together with HMS Sardonyx (destroyer), HMT (Her Majesty’s Trawler) Hugh Walpole ASW (anti-submarine warfare) Trawler, escorted UR 18 “Fast “.

April 5th, 1942 – Ordinary Seaman Edward Norman Smith (service number JX246721) died after being lost overboard from HMS Newmarket.

April 7th, 1942 – Newmarket left escort of convoy UR18 heading for Seidisfiord Iceland, to join convoy PQ14 (Iceland to Russia).

April 8th, 1942 -Newmarket arrived at Seidisfiord but could not join PQ14 because of defects. Instead, she sailed from Seidisfiord on April 11th, 1942, for Hvalfiord for repairs but did not arrive. The same day, she was diverted to escort five merchant ships (ex PQ14) to Reykjavik, arriving with them on April 16th, 1942.

April 18th 1942 – Newmarket left Reykjavic escorting convoy RU19 (Reykjavic to Loch Ewe) arriving Loch Ewe April 22nd 1942.

4th May, 1942 – Newmarket and HMS Bleasdale (escorting HMS Rodney) left Liverpool for Scapa Flow .

May 5th, 1942 – HMS Rodney, escorted by Newmarket and Bleasdale, arrived at Scapa from Liverpool. Newmarket then returned to Liverpool.

May 1942 – Newmarket was withdrawn from service, and after being surveyed by HM Dockyard Rosyth, she was declared unfit for Atlantic convoy escort. She was converted to an Air Target Ship at Rosyth, from May to July 1942 which included the removal of main armament and weapons equipment.

July to December 1942 – Newmarket was deployed as an Air Target ship in Firth of Forth, North Sea (Rosyth Command), for the training of aircrew in attacks on shipping.

December 1942 till February 1943 – Newmarket was refitted at Leith, Edinburgh.
February to June 1943… Newmarket was deployed again as an Air Target ship. Many defects made her unreliable, so she was put on care and maintenance, and laid up at Rosyth from July 1943 till June 1944.

From June 1944 until after the end of the war in Europe on 8th May 1945 – Newmarket was again used as an aircraft target ship.

July 29th, 1944 – Sub/Lt. D Cash, a member of 852 Avenger squadron of the aircraft carrier HMS Nabob training near RNAS Machrihanish on the Kintyre Peninsula (Scotland West coast) crashed and was rescued by HMS Newmarket.

July 1st, 1945 – Newmarket was decommissioned on 1 July 1945

September 2nd, 1945 – Arrived at Llanelly, Wales and broken up by Rees Shipbuilding Co. Ltd.

As can be seen from the frequent times in port undergoing repairs, the Americans did not hand over their best vessels. Amazing what you can find on the I.W.M website; Here- a couple of shots on Rutland Hill during Warship Week.