The Battle of the Atlantic was an international effort, straining the sinews of sailors, airmen, shipbuilders, dockyard workers, scientists and the armaments industry. But if any individual could claim to have turned the tide against the U-boat, then it would be Captain Frederic John ‘Johnnie’ Walker, a man who destroyed more U-boats than any other – at least 14, perhaps 20. Walker was a naval hero in the mould of Drake or Nelson and Winston Churchill himself admitted that without triumph in the Battle of the Atlantic, Britain was in danger of losing the war, Walkers name is today associated with two British sloop ships, Starling and Stork. Based in Liverpool and sailing from Gladstone Dock, Johnnie Walker is quoted as saying, “They have given me a free hand and I’m going to show them what I can do”.
Walker received a command in October 1941, taking control of the 36th Escort Group, commanding from the Bittern-class sloop Stork. The escort group comprised two sloops (including Stork) and six corvettes and was based in Liverpool, home of Western Approaches Command. Initially his Group was primarily used to escort convoys to and from Gibraltar.