Allied Warships

HMS Hermione (74)

Light cruiser of the Dido class

HMS Hermione

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeLight cruiser
Built byA. Stephen & Sons Ltd. (Glasgow, Scotland) 
Ordered20 Mar 1937 
Laid down6 Oct 1937 
Launched18 May 1939 
Commissioned25 Mar 1941 
Lost16 Jun 1942 
Loss position33° 20'N, 26° 00'E

After working up was completed in May 1941 HMS Hermione became a member of the 2nd Cruiser Squadron attached to the Home Fleet. In June she joined the Mediterranean Fleet, 1st Cruiser Squadron Force H, and was involved in the escorting of the carriers HMS Ark Royal and HMS Furious, bound from Gibraltar to Malta enabling their aircraft to be flown off and based at the island as a means of defence.

In July she operated as a cover group for the battle cruiser HMS Renown, battleship HMS Nelson and the carrier HMS Ark Royal in the western Mediterranean while these ships were tasked to attack an airfield at Aghero (Sardinia). Later during the month these ships were involved in the escorting of a Malta bound convoy code named operation “Substance”, the convoy consisted of thirteen merchant ships and all managed to get through to Malta, however one vessel with a load of petrol onboard, miraculously survived a torpedo hit. The Australian destroyer HMAS Nestor stood by her for hours. During the night the merchantman again made ten knots, but at daylight Nestor was disturbed to find no trace of the convoy and escorts. Alone the destroyer fought off attack after attack of German dive bombers, until at last Hermione arrived on the scene to assist the destroyer which was by now dangerously low on ammunition. The cruiser shot down two aircraft. Hours later the three ships steamed into Malta.

On August 2nd whilst en route to the operational area the Italian submarine the Tembien was spotted by one of the Ark Royal’s aircraft, and Hermione rammed and sank the submarine. In September she again escorted the Ark Royal enabling aircraft to be flown off for the defence of Malta, the remainder of the month was spent escorting a supply convoy from Gibraltar to Malta. In November she was involved in the escorting of the battleship HMS Malaya and the carriers HMS Argus and once again HMS Ark Royal so that aircraft could be flown off for the defence of Malta, the plan however was disrupted due to the German submarine U-205 which attacked the Force with a salvo of three torpedoes which missed, unfortunately at midday another boat, the U-81 hit the Ark Royal with one torpedo from a salvo of four. The carrier sank the following day, whilst under tow only some 25 miles from Gibraltar.

In March 1942 once again a renewed attempt was made to fly off aircraft to Malta, this time the carriers HMS Argus and HMS Eagle were used, but due to adverse weather conditions, they had to call off the attempt. Later again that month the operation was repeated, and 16 Spitfires reached Malta under the watchful eye of Hermione. Later that month the cruiser escorted the invasion convoy for operation “Ironclad” from Gibraltar to Durban.

April 1942 found the cruiser based at Freetown, and on the 19th, she arrived at Simonstown, South Africa for dry docking, enabling work on hull damage in the fore peak area to be carried out. After a period of three days she was once again on her way, this time to an area North West of Madagascar to rendezvous with an Invasion Fleet. In June she was once again operating in the Mediterranean and joined the 15th Cruiser Squadron in the east where she found herself operating with her sister ships HMS Cleopatra, HMS Dido and HMS Euryalus. They was tasked to cover the convoys bound for Malta from Alexandria. On June 16th, whilst returning to Alexandria, HMS Hermione (Capt. Geoffrey Nigel Oliver, DSO, RN) was torpedoed by the German submarine U-205, North of Sollum and sank in position 33º20'N, 26º00'E. 87 crewmembers went down with the ship.


Hit by U-boat
Sunk on 16 Jun 1942 by U-205 (Reschke).

U-boat AttackSee our U-boat attack entry for the HMS Hermione

Commands listed for HMS Hermione (74)

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1Capt. Geoffrey Nigel Oliver, RN30 Oct 194016 Jun 1942

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Notable events involving Hermione include:

2 Aug 1941
The Italian submarine Tembien was rammed and sunk south-east of Pantelleria Island in position 36°21'N, 12°40'E by the British light cruiser HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, RN).

Media links

U-Boat Attack Logs

Daniel Morgan and Bruce Taylor

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