Rory Chambers O'Conor, RN

Born  23 Sep 1898Buenos Aires, Argentina
Died  19 Dec 1941(43)HMS Neptune


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Ranks

2 Aug 1914 Mid.
15 Mar 1917 A/S.Lt.
15 Sep 1917 S.Lt.
15 Apr 1919 Lt.
15 Apr 1927 Lt.Cdr.
31 Dec 1931 Cdr.
30 Jun 1936 Capt.

Decorations

Warship Commands listed for Rory Chambers O'Conor, RN


ShipRankTypeFromTo
HMS Neptune (20)Capt.Light cruiser25 May 194019 Dec 1941 (+)

Career information

We currently have no career / biographical information on this officer.

Events related to this officer

Light cruiser HMS Neptune (20)


30 May 1940
During 30/31 May, HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) and HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.C. Tovey, CB, DSO, RN) conducted exercises off Alexandria. These included night exercises.

Destroyers were also out exercising, the destroyers involved appears to have been the following [it is possible not all these destroyers participated in these exercises and also some destroyer which did participate might not be listed]; HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN), HMS Mohawk (Cdr. J.W.M. Eaton, RN), HMS Juno (Cdr. W.E. Wilson, RN), HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.deW. Kitcat, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC, RN), HMS Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicholson, RN), HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, DSO, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Hasty, (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN), HMAS Stuart (Cdr. H.M.L. Waller, RAN), HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN), HMAS Voyager (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Morrow, RAN) and HMAS Vampire (Lt.Cdr. J.A. Walsh, RAN). (1)

12 Aug 1940

Operation MD 6.

Anti-shipping and anti-submarine sweep in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Around 0600C/12, ' Force A ', made up of the destroyers HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN), HMS Mohawk (Cdr. J.W.M. Eaton, RN), HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.deW. Kitcat, RN) and HMS Hostile (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN) departed Alexandria.

' Force A ' was ordered to proceed towards Malta. After dark on 12 August they were to alter course to reach the African coast in the vicinity of Bardia at 2200C/12. Thence to sweep westward along the coast at high speed, then to leave the coast so as to be 70 miles clear by daylight on 13 August and rendezvous with ' Force B ' in position ' K ' (36°00'N, 21°00'E) at 1300C/13. To be detached from ' Force B ' in time to pass through position 205° Gavdo Island 5 miles at 2200C/13, and carry out an A/S sweep along the line 205° Gavdo Island until 0400/14, thence to rendezvous with ' Force B ' as ordered by the Senior Officer.

Around 0700C/12, ' Force A ' was followed by ' Force B ' which was made up of the light cruisers HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) and HMAS Sydney (Capt. J.A. Collins, CB, RAN).

The were to rendezvous with ' Force A ' in position K as stated above. After detaching Force A on the 13th, ' Force B ' was to pass between Cape Malea and Agria Grabusa about dusk on the 13th to conduct an anti-shipping sweep along the north coast of Crete through the Kaso Strait to rendezvous with ' Force A ' as convenient and then return to Alexandria.

The ships sighted nothing until 1505C/14 hours when a torpedo was seen by HMS Nubian. Position of the attack was 32°06'N, 28°31'E. HMS Nubian and HMS Hostile then remained in the area to conduct an A/S search. The other four ships arrived at Alexandria around 1930C/14.

HMS Nubian and HMS Hostile did not made contact with the attacker and arrived at Alexandria around 0610C/15.

The attacker was the Italian submarine Pietro Micca which reported seeing two destroyers. She had fired one torpedo from a stern tube from 800 yards at the leading destroyer at 1358B/14 (Rome time !) in position 31°59'N, 28°32'E. After 40 seconds a violent explosion was heard thought to have been a hit but in fact the torpedo missed.

The Allied ships returned to Alexandria in the early evening of the 14th. (2)

15 Aug 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) departed Alexandria for Aden. (3)

16 Aug 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) passed the Suez Canal southbound. After a short stop at Suez she departed for Aden in the evening. (3)

19 Aug 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) arrived at Aden. (3)

21 Aug 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) departed Aden for Mombasa. (3)

26 Aug 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) arrived at Mombasa from Aden. (3)

27 Aug 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) departed Mombasa for Durban. (3)

31 Aug 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) arrived at Durban from Mombasa. (3)

5 Sep 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) departed Durban to examine anchorages in southern Madagascar to search for enemy raiders and supply vessels. (4)

11 Sep 1940
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) arrived at Mauritius from patrol. After fuelling she departed again for patrol later the same day. A German raider was operating in the Indian Ocean and several cruisers and auxiliary cruisers were detailed to try to hunt it down. HMS Neptune was ordered to proceed to position 25°00'S, 70°00'E. (3)

15 Sep 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) is ordered to leave patrol so as to arrive at Durban with 15% fuel remaining. (5)

19 Sep 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) is ordered fuel at either Mauritius or Durban, whatever was nearer. (5)

22 Sep 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) arrived at Mauritius from patrol.

After fuelling she departed for Durban later the same day. (6)

27 Sep 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) arrived at Durban from Mauritius. (7)

2 Oct 1940
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) arrived at Simonstown from Durban. (8)

7 Oct 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) departed Simonstown to patrol the area of the Southern Ocean Islands including Kerguelen. (9)

26 Oct 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) arrived at Mauritius from patrol. No sign of the enemy had been seen except on several places on Kerguelen where recent enemy activity was suspected. (9)

28 Oct 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) departed Mauritius for Simonstown later changed to Capetown. (8)

2 Nov 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) arrived at Capetown from Mauritius. (10)

7 Nov 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) departed Capetown for Freetown. (11)

13 Nov 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) is ordered to proceed to Lagos instead of Freetown. (11)

15 Nov 1940
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) arrived at Lagos.

The same day Vice-Admiral J.H.D. Cunningham, CB, MVO, RN, the Vice-Admiral commanding 1st Cruiser Squadron struck his flag in HMS Devonshire (Capt. R.D. Oliver, DSC, RN) and hoisted it the following morning (16th) in HMS Neptune. (11)

19 Nov 1940
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.H.D. Cunningham, CB, MVO, RN, the Vice-Admiral commanding 1st Cruiser Squadron) departed Lagos for Duala. (11)

20 Nov 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.H.D. Cunningham, CB, MVO, RN, the Vice-Admiral commanding 1st Cruiser Squadron) arrived at Duala. (11)

21 Nov 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.H.D. Cunningham, CB, MVO, RN, the Vice-Admiral commanding 1st Cruiser Squadron) proceeded from Duala to Victoria.

She departed for Porte Noire later the same day. (10)

23 Nov 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.H.D. Cunningham, CB, MVO, RN, the Vice-Admiral commanding 1st Cruiser Squadron) arrived at Porte Noire. She departed for a rendezvous with HMS Delhi (Capt. A.S. Russell, RN) in position 01°20'N, 06°30'E at 1000A/26. (10)

26 Nov 1940
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.H.D. Cunningham, CB, MVO, RN, the Vice-Admiral commanding 1st Cruiser Squadron) and HMS Delhi (Capt. A.S. Russell, RN) made rendezvous around 1000A/26 in approximate position 01°20'N, 06°30'E. (12)

27 Nov 1940
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.H.D. Cunningham, CB, MVO, RN, the Vice-Admiral commanding 1st Cruiser Squadron) arrived at Lagos. (10)

2 Dec 1940
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.H.D. Cunningham, CB, MVO, RN, the Vice-Admiral commanding 1st Cruiser Squadron) and HMS Milford (Capt.(Retd.) S.K. Smyth, RN) departed Lagos to patrol off the Cameroons. (13)

4 Dec 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.H.D. Cunningham, CB, MVO, RN, the Vice-Admiral commanding 1st Cruiser Squadron) arrived at Manoka. (14)

5 Dec 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.H.D. Cunningham, CB, MVO, RN, the Vice-Admiral commanding 1st Cruiser Squadron) proceeded from Manoka to Victoria.

She departed Victoria for Port Gentil later the same day. (14)

7 Dec 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.H.D. Cunningham, CB, MVO, RN, the Vice-Admiral commanding 1st Cruiser Squadron) arrived at Port Gentil.

She departed for Lagos later the same day. (14)

10 Dec 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.H.D. Cunningham, CB, MVO, RN, the Vice-Admiral commanding 1st Cruiser Squadron) and HMS Delhi (Capt. A.S. Russell, RN) made rendezvous around 0900A/10 in approximate position 02°40'N, 06°00'E. (15)

11 Dec 1940
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.H.D. Cunningham, CB, MVO, RN, the Vice-Admiral commanding 1st Cruiser Squadron) arrived at Lagos. (14)

14 Dec 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.H.D. Cunningham, CB, MVO, RN, the Vice-Admiral commanding 1st Cruiser Squadron) departed Lagos for Freetown. (14)

17 Dec 1940
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.H.D. Cunningham, CB, MVO, RN, the Vice-Admiral commanding ' Force M ') arrived at Freetown from Lagos. (14)

28 Dec 1940
Vice-Admiral J.H.D. Cunningham, CB, MVO, RN, the Vice-Admiral commanding ' Force M ' struck his flag in HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN).

HMS Neptune then departed Freetown to provide cover for HMS Delhi (Capt. A.S. Russell, RN) which is escorting the troopships Cap des Palmes (French, 3082 GRT, built 1935) and Touareg (French, 5135 GRT, built 1924) from Cameroon to Freetown. (13)

7 Jan 1941
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) arrived at Lagos after convoy cover duty.

The convoy had arrived at Freetown on 3 January but HMS Neptune had parted company a few hours before and did not enter Freetown.

HMS Neptune departed Lagos later the same day for the Takoradi area. (16)

8 Jan 1941
Around 1000Z/8, the light cruiser HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) joined the aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Delhi (Capt. A.S. Russell, RN) and the destroyers HMS Isis (Cdr. C.S.B. Swinley, DSC, RN) and HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St.J. Morgan, RN) in approximate position 04°30'N, 01°00'W.

During 8 to 10 January, HMS Furious conducted flying operations near Takoradi in which 39 Hurricanes and 9 Fulmars were flown off which were to proceed overland towards Egypt.

Durning these flying operations the other ships provided cover and A/S escort.

HMS Delhi parted company around 1220Z/10 to proceed to Lagos where she arrived aroud 0915A/11.

In the afternoon of January 10th, both HMS Encounter and HMS Isis fuelled from HMS Neptune after which the four remaining ships set course to proceed to Freetown where they arrived around 1430N/12. (17)

16 Jan 1941
The aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) and the destroyers HMS Isis (Cdr. C.S.B. Swinley, DSC, RN) and HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St.J. Morgan, RN) departed Freetown to proceed to arrive at 2000A/23 in position 45°00'N, 19°00'W.

The destroyers were to be detached to Gibraltar in position 17°00'N, 26°30'W which the force was to proceed through.

However on the 18th it became apparent that HMS Furious and HMS Neptune had not enough fuel to proceed direct to the U.K. and that all four ships would proceed to Gibraltar.

In the afternoon and early evening HMS Isis and HMS Encounter fuelled from HMS Neptune.

Around 1700Z/21, the destroyers HMS Duncan (A/Capt. A.D.B. James, RN), HMS Fearless (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN) and HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN) joined.

They were all to arrive at Gibraltar on 22 January but they could not enter the harbour due to the bad weather conditions.

They finally arrived at Gibraltar around 0930A/23. (18)

27 Jan 1941
Around 1830A/27, HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN) and HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) departed Gibraltar to provide cover for convoys west of Gibraltar.

Around 1900A/28, HMS Neptune was detached to return to Gibraltar where she arrived around 0900A/29.

HMS Sheffield returned to Gibraltar around 1130A/30. (19)

29 Jan 1941
Around 2100A/29, the aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN) and light cruiser HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) departed Gibraltar for the U.K. No destroyer escort was available to escort them out of Gibraltar. (20)

3 Feb 1941
Around 1010Z/3, the aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN) and light cruiser HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) on passage from Gibraltar for the U.K. were joined by the destroyers HMCS Ottawa (Cdr. E.R. Mainguy, RCN), HMCS Restigouche (Cdr. H.N. Lay, OBE, RN), HMCS St. Laurent (Lt. H.S. Rayner, RCN) and HMCS Skeena (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Hibbard, RCN). Shortly afterwards the destroyer HMS Jackal (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN) also joined.

At 2212Z/3, starshell and a seafire was sighted. Four minutes later HMCS Ottawa and HMCS St. Laurent were detached t to investigate.

At 1205Z/4, HMCS Skeena reported ' man overboard ' and the ships turned to search.

Around 1915Z/4, HMS Neptune parted company with HMS Furious and the remaining destroyers and set course for Scapa Flow where she arrived around 1800A/5.

HMS Furious arrived in the Clyde also around 1800A/5. (21)

8 Feb 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Sheerness. (22)

9 Feb 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) arrived at Sheerness from Scapa Flow. (22)

12 Feb 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
Following de-ammunitioning, HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN), proceeded from Sheerness to the Chatham Dockyard where she was taken in hand for refit. (22)

15 Feb 1941
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) is docked in No.9 dock at the Chatham Dockyard. (22)

16 Feb 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN), was in No.9 dry dock at the Chatham Dockyard, when a bomb exploded on a compressor house about 150 yards away on the dock side to Port of the ship. Only some minor superficial damage was caused by splinters to the superstructure and side plating of the ship.

25 Mar 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) is undocked. (23)

6 May 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
With her refit completed, HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN), proceeded from the Chatham Dockyard to Sheerness. (24)

9 May 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) departed Sheerness for Scapa Flow. (24)

10 May 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow to commence a work-up period. (24)

14 May 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) conducted DG trials at Scapa Flow. These were followed by gunnery and torpedo firing exercises. (24)

20 May 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) conducted aircraft launching and recovering exercises at Scapa Flow. These were followed by gunnery exercises. (24)

23 May 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) conducted torpedo firing exercises, DG trials and compass swing test at Scapa Flow.

While en-route to the anchorage she collided with the trawler HMS Foss. (24)

24 May 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) conducted gunnery exercises off Scapa Flow. (24)

25 May 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Greenock. (24)

26 May 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) arrived at Greenock. (24)

31 May 1941

Convoy WS 8X.

This convoy departed the Clyde on 31 May 1941 and arrived off Aden on 11 July 1941 after which the convoy was dispersed and the ship proceeded to Aden independently.

The convoy departed from the Clyde around 2230B/31 and was made up of the following transports; Duchess of Bedford (British, 20123 GRT, built 1928), Port Wyndham (British, 11005 GRT, built 1935) and Waiwera (British, 12435 GRT, built 1934).

On departure from the Clyde the convoy was escorted by the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.J.L. Phillips, RN), the light cruiser HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) and the armed merchant cruiser HMS Esperance Bay (Capt.(Retd.) G.S. Holden, RN).

Around 0700B/1, the A/S escort joined the convoy. This was made up of the destroyers HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN), Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski), HMCS Saguenay (Lt. P.E. Haddon, RCN), HMS Wivern (Cdr. M.D.C. Meyrick, RN), HMS Wild Swan (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, RN), HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. R.L.S. Gaisford, RN), HMS Brighton (Cdr.(Retd.) C.W.V.T.S. Lepper, RN), HMS St. Marys (Lt. K.H.J.L. Phibbs, RN) and HMS Sherwood (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN).

Around 1445B/2, ORP Piorun obtained an A/S contact in position 53°30'N, 16°46'W at a range of 1200 yards. She immediately attacked with depth charges. A total of 18 depth charges was dropped in four attack runs after which the contact was lost and Piorun rejoined the convoy around an hour later.

Around 0700B/3, in position 50°22'N, 19°55'E, HMS Wivern, HMS Wild Swan and HMS Vansittart were detached to Gibraltar.

Around 0900B/3, in position 49°57'N, 20°05'E, HMS St. Marys and HMS Brighton were detached to return to the U.K.

Around 1200B/3, in position 49°20'N, 20°30'W, HMS Esperance Bay was detached to search for enemy supply vessels operating in the North Atlantic.

Around 1500B/3, in position 48°40'N, 20°59'E, HMS Legion was detached to make rendezvous with a transport.

Around 1845B/3, HMCS Sauguenay parted company to proceed to Canada.

Around 2000B/3, in position 46°50'N, 22°29'E, HMS Sherwood and ORP Piorun parted company to return to the U.K.

At 1825B/4, in position 42°25'N, 23°39'E, HMS Neptune was detached to intercept a vessel reported by the Esperance Bay as well as aircraft from HMS Victorious.

Around 2100B/4, HMS Victorious was also detached to aid in the search of this suspected enemy supply vessel.

Around 2100B/5, HMS Victorious and HMS Neptune rejoined the convoy. The enemy vessel had been intercepted but had been scuttled by her crew and salvage was not possible. HMS Neptune had picked up the German crew.

Around 0100A/7, HMS Victorious and HMS Neptune parted company. They had been ordered to proceed to Gibraltar.

Around 1400Z/9, the destroyer HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN) joined the convoy escort.

The corvette HMS Aster (Lt.Cdr. E. Hewitt, RD, RNR) was to have joined the convoy coming from Bathurst. She had arrived at Bathurst late and she did not manage to join the convoy.

The convoy arrived at Freetown on 11 June.

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The convoy departed Freetown on 15 June 1941 escorted by HMS Neptune.

The convoy arrived at Capetown on 24 June 1941 after which HMS Neptune proceeded to Simonstown.

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The convoy departed Capetown on 28 June 1941 still escorted by HMS Neptune.

The convoy arrived at Kilindini on 6 July 1941. It departed later the same day for Aden.

The convoy was dispersed on 11 July 1941. HMS Neptune then proceeded to Aden arriving later the same day. (25)

5 Jun 1941

Interception of the German supply vessel Gonzenheim

At 1825B/4, in position 42°25'N, 23°39'E, HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) was detached from convoy WS 8X to intercept a vessel reported by HMS Esperance Bay (Capt.(Retd.) G.S. Holden, RN).

HMS Esperance Bay had not been able to intercept the ship herself because of insufficient speed.

At 2001B/4, HMS Neptune sighted HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN) which was also searching for the enemy ship having left convoy SL 75. She reported that the German ship was ahead of her and ordered HMS Neptune to close as fast as possible. Shortly afterwards HMS Nelson reported that the enemy had stopped.

At 2052B/4, HMS Neptune sighted the enemy ship. Twelve minutes later the enemy was seen to abandon ship and flames were visibile.

At 2135B/4, HMS Neptune sent a boarding party over to the enemy ship to see if she could be saved.

At 2150B/4, HMS Neptune started to pick up the enemy crew of 67 Germans which had abandoned ship in two lifeboats which were also hoisted in.

The enemy ship could not be saved and was eventually sunk by HMS Neptune shortly after midnight in position 43°32'N, 23°56'E.

Around 2100B/4, HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, RN) was also detached from the convoy.

Around 2100B/5, HMS Victorious and HMS Neptune rejoined the convoy. The enemy vessel had been intercepted but had been scuttled by her crew and salvage was not possible. HMS Neptune had picked up the German crew which she later landed at Gibraltar. (25)

9 Jun 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
Around 0900A/9, HMS Neptune arrived at Gibraltar where the German prisoners were landed. Also she fuelled.

She departed for Freetown around 2030A/9. (24)

13 Jun 1941
Around 1600N/13, HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) arrived at Freetown.

She now continued escort duty with convoy WS 8X. She the event ' Convoy WS 8X ' for 31 May 1941 for more info on her movements while with this convoy. (24)

12 Jul 1941
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) departed Aden for Suez. (26)

15 Jul 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) arrived at Suez. (26)

17 Jul 1941
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) transited the Suez Canal northbound and arrived at Port Said. At Port Said the catapult and aircraft were landed and some extra AA armament was fitted instead. (26)

18 Jul 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) departed Port Said for Alexandria. (26)

19 Jul 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) arrived at Alexandria where she joined the Mediterranean Fleet. (26)

24 Jul 1941
Around 1530C/24, the light cruiser HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN), fast minelayer HMS Abdiel (Capt. E. Peydell-Bouverie, MVO, RN) and the destroyer HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN) departed Port Said for Famagusta loaded with troops and supplies. The troops were landed during the night of 24/25 July. On completion, the ships returned to Port Said where they arrived around 1615C/25. (27)

26 Jul 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
Around 1130C/26, the light cruiser HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN), fast minelayer HMS Abdiel (Capt. E. Peydell-Bouverie, MVO, RN) and the destroyer HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN) departed Port Said for Famagusta loaded with troops and supplies. The troops were landed during the night of 26/27 July. On completion, the ships proceeded to Haifa where they arrived around 1000C/27. (27)

26 Aug 1941
The fast minelayer HMS Latona (Capt. S.L. Bateson, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN with Rear-Admiral I.G. Glennie, RN on board), HMS Griffin (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN) and HMS Havock (Lt. G.R.G. Watkins, DSC, RN) departed Alexandria for Tobruk. Cover for these ships was provided by the light cruisers HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN) and HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN).

The ships arrived back at Alexandria on the 27th. (28)

15 Sep 1941
Around 0855C/15, the destroyers HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, RN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN) and HMS Havock (Lt. G.R.G. Watkins, DSC, RN) departed Alexandria with supplies for Tobruk where they arrived around 2325C/15.

The light cruisers HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN), HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) and HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, CBE, RAN) had departed Alexandria around 0840C/15 for exercises.

The destroyers HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN) departed Alexandria around 1035C/15 to join the light cruisers on completion of their exercises and then to cover provide cover for the store carrying destroyers.

All ships returned to Alexandria on the 16th, HMAS Napier, HMAS Nizam and HMS Havock around 1345C/16 followed by HMS Kingston around 1405C/16. HMS Ajax, HMS Neptune and HMAS Hobart returned around 1445C/16 and finally HMS Kimberley entered harbour around 1610C/16. (29)

17 Sep 1941
Around 1850B/17, HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN), HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) and HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, CBE, RAN) departed Alexandria to embark troops at Beirut or Haifa.

Around 0800B/18, HMS Neptune parted company with the other ships and proceeded to Haifa arriving there around 1110B/18.

HMS Ajax and HMAS Hobart arrived at Beirut around 1405B/18.

HMS Neptune departed Haifa around 0430B/19 and arrived at Beirut around 0815B/19.

All three cruisers departed Beirut for Alexandria around 1100B/19.

They were joined at sea around 1230B/19 by the destroyers HMS Griffin (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN) and HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN).

All five ships arrived at Alexandria around 0615B/20. (30)

20 Nov 1941
Around 1130B/20, the light cruisers HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN), HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) and HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, CBE, RAN) departed Alexandria to conduct a bombardment of the Bardia area during the night of 20/21 November. They were joined off the gate by the escort destroyers HMS Avon Vale (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN) and HMS Heythrop (Lt.Cdr R.S. Stafford, RN) which had departed around 1000B/20.

Around 1400B/20, they were joined, about 40 miles east of Alexandria by the escort destroyers HMS Farndale (Cdr. S.H. Carlill, RN) and HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, RN) which had departed Alexandria around 1315B/19 for an A/S hunt for a reported enemy submarine reported by an aircraft. (which in the end turned out to be HMSAS Southern Maid).

A bombardment was carried out around 0200B/21 and course was then set to join the fleet at sea which was done around noon. (31)

19 Dec 1941

Sortie by ' Force K ' and loss of HMS Neptune and HMS Kandahar.

Around 1800B/18, 'Force K'; made up of light cruisers HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN), HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, RN), HMS Penelope (Capt. A.D. Nicholl, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN), HMS Lively (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN) and HMS Havock (Lt. G.R.G. Watkins, DSC, RN), departed Malta to intercept an imported Italian convoy bound for Tripoli.

This enemy convoy was made up of the transports Monginevro (5324 GRT, built 1940), Napoli (6142 GRT, built 1941) and Vettor Pisani (6339 GRT, built 1939). They were escorted by the destroyers Ugolino Vivaldi, Antonio Da Noli, Nicoloso da Recco, Lanzerotto Malocello, Emanuelle Pessagno and Nicolò Zeno.

While trying to intercept 'Force K' ran into an unknown Italian minefield (German mines were used). HMS Neptune which was leading, struck a mine on her port side at 0106B/19 in position 33°09'0"N, 13°20'5"E. At 0108B/19 a similar explosion occured on board HMS Aurora. At 0110B/19 HMS Penelope exploded a mine, probably in her paravanes. The mine had exploded abreast the bridge on the port side. HMS Neptune hit another mine at 0116B/19 followed shortly afterwards by yet another one.

HMS Neptune was heavily damaged. HMS Aurora was also heavily damaged while damage to HMS Penolope was, compared to the other two cruisers, mimor. HMS Aurora soon set course trying to return to Malta taking HMS Lance and HMS Havock with her. The other ships remained in the area trying to assist HMS Neptune.

At 0130B/19, HMS Aurora ordered ' one destroyer go alongside Neptune'. HMS Kandahar then made a signal to HMS Lance ' take charge of destroyers '. HMS Kandahar then commenced to close HMS Neptune. While closing she was ordered by HMS Neptune ' Keep to leaward until i have drifted clear of minefield '.

At 0218B/19, HMS Penelope received a signal from HMS Neptune that she was preparing to be taken in tow.

At 0227B/19, a signal was received by HMS Kandahar from HMS Penelope. ' Have told Lively to close Neptune. I will close and take Neptune in tow when signalled '.

At 0309B/19, HMS Neptune ordered HMS Penelope to close as it was thought HMS Neptune had by now drifted clear of the minefield and was ready to be taken in tow. However at 0318B/19, HMS Kandahar which was also closing HMS Neptune at 15 knots to render assistance hit a mine despite using her Asdic to try to detect mines. Distance to HMS Neptune at that moment was 7 cables. HMS Penelope at once steered to get clear and was shortly afterwards ordered by HMS Neptune to ' Keep away '.

At 0330B/19, HMS Lively was seen to be closing as a signal was made by HMS Kandahar ordered in her to ' clear out '.

On a quick examination of the damage HMS Kandahar was found to be flooded up to the after engine room bulkhead. So at 0334B/19 a signal was made to HMS Penelope, ' Ship is flooded up to engine room bulkhead, can be towed but i realise this is impossible '.

Then at 0400B/19, HMS Neptune hit a fourth mine shattering all hopes that HMS Penelope and HMS Lively could help the by now two stricken ships. They were left with no choice to return to Malta. After the fourth explosion HMS Neptune was seen, by the crew of HMS Kandahar, to turn over on her port side and she began to sink slowly. HMS Kandahar too was seriously damaged being awash aft up to the funnel.

HMS Aurora, HMS Penelope, HMS Lance, HMS Lively and HMS Havock returned to Malta around 1230B/19.

HMS Aurora was patched up at Malta before returning home for repairs at Liverpool from April to June 1942. HMS Penelope was repaired at Malta until January 1942.

Back to HMS Kandahar now, after the explosion the engine room bulkhead was shored and boats and Carley floats lowered. The only boat thought to be serviceable was the whaler. While this boat was being hauled round the bows to the Port side the line parted and the boat drifted away. She was seen to be making water and with the crew bailing hard so she was hailed and told to make for the ship again. This she failed to do and the boat was not seen again.

Confidential books, charts and documents were thrown overboard in well-weighted sacks and containers, Fleet Code only being retained. All Fleet Decodes were unfortunately jettisoned.

Three torpedoes, which could be fired from the forward tubes, were fired with stop valves closed. Due to damage the remaining seven could not be fired.

The situation now was that steam was being maintained in No.1 boiler room and No.3 boiler room. All auxiliary machinery in the engine room was running. All lights had failed due to the flooding of the after main switchboard. Fire control circuits were out of action. Both forward 4.7" mountings were workable in hand control. The Pom-Pom was out of action. Two 0.5" machine guns and two Oerlikons were operational. The ship was watertight from the after engine room bulkhead forward, but could not steam due to the loss of the propellers.

At daylight all top weight that could be cast loose was jettisoned. Jury aerials were rigged and all W/T sets were got into working order.

At about 0915B/19 a single JU-88 reconnaissance aircraft approached from the South and closed the ship and then flew away to the North. At about 0945B/20 a single S- 79 came up from the South and flew round the ship and thn returned towards Tripoli. At about 1000B/10 a Maryland closed, circled the ship and returned to the North.

Shortly after this a signal was transmitted on Admiral's Wave to any British warship ' Have been closed and inspected by reconnaissance aircraft. Am prepared to sink ship on arrival of enemy. ' The signal also included the ships position.

No reply was received from Malta for this signal on Admirals Wave, so a further signal was made on 465 KCs. ' Am still afloat, then the position was given., Drift Easterly about 1 knot '. [The positions in both signals have been censored.]

Around 1330B/19, six Blenheim aircaft were seen flying low approaching from Northwards and making in the direction of Tripoli.

Around 1600B/19, a signal was received from the Vice-Admiral, Malta that HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) had departed Malta and was coming to our assistance. This signal was decoded using the Fleet Code.

Around 1700B/19, a Maryland aircraft flew close around the ship. The crew put their thumbs up and departed Northwards.

At 2200B/19, a Wellington aircraft arrived that was to guide HMS Jaguar to the stricken ship and from then on until arrival of HMS Jaguar at 0420B/20 this aircraft closed the ship at intermittent intervals. The report of six enemy E-Boats in the vicinity was received from the Wellington and it was estimated that they were about 7 miles to Southward of ship around 2300B/19.

During the night the weather was deteriorating rapidly with a rising wind and sea and at 0400B/20 the ship took a list of 15° to Port having heretofore been listed to Starboard. This made the Engineer Officer think that she had lost stability due to the engine room bulkhead having collapsed. Correctly he reported to me immediately and I ordered everyone on the Upper Deck and made a signal on 465 KCs to HMS Jaguar ' Am sinking '. Further investigation proved that the bulkhead was holding and that change of list must have been entirely due to the wind getting on the Starboard quarter of the ship. The ' Am sinking ' signal was then cancelled.

Around 0420B/20, HMS Jaguar was seen on the Starboard quarter and the following signal was made to her ' My ship's head 160°. Come my port side bow to stern '. Conditions were very difficult due to wind and sea and the rate of drift of HMS Kandahar, but HMS Jaguar managed to get alongside at his first attempt. However it was immediately apparent that the damage to HMS Jaguar would be considerable if she stayed there so she was ordered to go astern out of it. Some 50 men jumped from HMS Kandahar to HMS Jaguar in the brief period she had been alongside.

After consideration a signal was then made to HMS Jaguar ' Intend to abandon and sink ship. Lie to windward, to pick up survivors. Leave not later than 0530 '. The order to abandon ship was then given and the necessary steps taken to ensure the ship would sink.

Again Jaguar's ship handling was perfect and the recovery of survivors was done most expeditiously. It was expected that HMS Kandahar would sink in about 20 minutes but as she had not completely foundered HMS Jaguar torpedoed her before leaving and she was seen to sink when she left the area. HMS Jaguar arrived at Malta later on December, 20th.

A total of 165 survivors had been picked up from HMS Kandahar but no survivors from HMS Neptune had been seen by the British.

In the end only one survivor was picked up by the Italian torpedo boat Calliope on 24 December. A second survivor on the same Carley float drowned during the rescue attempt due to his weak state.

On 19 January 1942 there is an entry in the war diary of Supermarine (Italian naval command) that 27 bodies, thought to be from Neptune had by now been recoved on the Libyan coast between Zlitan and Misurata. (32)

Sources

  1. ADM 53/112344 + ADM 53/112872 + ADM 53/112920 + ADM 53/113294
  2. ADM 199/386
  3. ADM 53/112875
  4. ADM 53/112875 + ADM 199/383
  5. ADM 199/383
  6. ADM 53/112876 + ADM 199/383
  7. ADM 53/112876
  8. ADM 53/112877
  9. ADM 53/112877 + ADM 199/383
  10. ADM 53/112878
  11. ADM 53/112878 + ADM 199/381
  12. ADM 53/111968 + ADM 53/112878
  13. ADM 53/112879 + ADM 199/381
  14. ADM 53/112879
  15. ADM 53/111969 + ADM 53/112879
  16. ADM 53/114770
  17. ADM 53/114055 + ADM 53/114288 + ADM 53/114770
  18. ADM 199/394
  19. ADM 53/114770 + ADM 53/115050
  20. ADM 53/114482 + ADM 53/114770 + ADM 199/661
  21. ADM 53/114483 + ADM 53/114771 + ADM 199/661
  22. ADM 53/114771
  23. ADM 53/114772
  24. ADM 53/114774
  25. ADM 199/1138
  26. ADM 53/114776
  27. ADM 53/114776 + ADM 199/415
  28. ADM 199/415
  29. ADM 53/113533 + ADM 53/114778 + ADM 53/115214 + ADM 199/415 + Report of proceedings of HMAS Hobart for September 1941 + Report of proceedings of HMAS Nizam for September 1941
  30. ADM 53/113533 + ADM 53/114778 + ADM 199/415
  31. ADM 53/113535 + ADM 53/114780 + ADM 199/415
  32. ADM 1/11947

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.


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