In times of crisis or war, ships have been called on to perform tasks for which they were not designed. In many instances these tasks were assigned late in their service, when many were no longer considered modern enough to serve their intended purposes. Such was the case for the V- and W-class destroyers of the Royal Navy, and HMS Venomous was one of those ships.
When Britain declared war against Nazi Germany in September 1939, the Venomous was based at Portsmouth, England, as part of the Royal Navy's English Channel Force. Under command of Lieutenant Commander John McBeath, the venerable destroyer—considered in 1919 to be the latest word in fleet destroyer design—was assigned for the first six months of the war to escort convoys and patrol the "narrow sea" that is the English Channel.