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FNFL La Découverte

Ex HMS Windrush

Leith built Frigate at Juno Beach

 A story by  


R.O. Neish/E. Pillay


FNFL La Découverte ex HMS Windrush

This is the beginning of a story about a remarkable ship and her crew, which began at Leith moving on to the North Atlantic then D-Day and beyond. The co-writer of this story is the daughter of Lt Commander D. Dick who served as the Royal Navy liaison officer on La Découverte

Many of his original photographs of wartime on a River Class Frigate form the back-drop of the story.


To help with the research into this story we are looking at recruiting help from anyone of the many servicemen/women who were on the ship or who may have been trained on her, both in seamanship or later in fighting that most dangerous of fires.


Fire onboard a ship is one of the most difficult fire-fighting situations; many were trained to contend with such situations when this fine old vessel was on the beach at Cherbourg used as the fire training ship Lucifer II.


If you know anyone that fits the above then please contact us at the website all contributions will be very welcome, they do not have to be in English as we can have documents translated, images of the crews and the ship will be most welcome and all will be credited.


You will be able to follow the story of this ship as we go along, both here and on the Blog, storytelling of how a story comes about, all with volunteer help.

We hope to feature a lot more about this fine ship and her crew which will now be featured in the new book by R.O. Neish to be named "Leith Shipyards at War"


On the beach as a training ship in the port of Cherbourg

(Photograph is from John at Handmade Tours)

We feature here what is a very unique and historical piece of old 8mm film taken of the Leith Built Frigate, original name of HMS Windrush then re-named to La Decouverte.

The film was captured by Aspirant Officer (Candidate Officer) Francis JM Van Begin  as he was on a cruise on the Jeanne d’ Arc as part of his training with the French Navy. The film was sent to us here on the website by Daniel, his son.

Daniel tells us his father joined the Belgian Navy just after the end of the Second World War, as there was no naval school to prepare navy officers in Belgium; the candidates were sent to the Royal Navy or to the French Navy for training.


Aspirant Officer (Candidate Officer) Francis JM Van Begin.

The quality of the film is not so great, unfortunately film like all other mediums fail with time, but what we can see is this ship that was built at Leith, helped with her part off the Normandy beaches on D-Day still looking pretty good and with a flypast (low level) as well.


This is a great bit of history; we thank Daniel for allowing us to show this on the website. She is after all the subject of the story that we are writing, so if you or anyone you knew served on her then please contact the website just send an email to

We feature here what is a very unique and historical piece of old 8mm film taken of the Leith Built Frigate, original name of HMS Windrush then re-named to FNFL La Decouverte.
The film os taken from the deck of the Jeanne d’ Arc by candidate Officer Francis JM Van Begin

In appreciation for all the support Philippe Chapelin has given to our project we post the following -
Avec des remerciements particuliers à PhilippeChapelin:Géné :+33 664917352: (Membre de l'APG Association des généalogistes professionnels) 

To be continued

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