Allied Warships

HMS Despatch (D 30)

Light cruiser of the D class


HMS Despatch during the war

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeLight cruiser
ClassD 
PennantD 30 
Built byFairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. (Govan, Scotland) 
OrderedMar 1918 
Laid downJul 1918 
Launched24 Sep 1919 
Commissioned2 Jun 1922 
End service 
History

HMS Despatch was completed by Chatham Dockyard.

Sold 5 April 1946 and arrived for scrapping at Arnott Young, Troon, Scotland on 5 May 1946.

 

Commands listed for HMS Despatch (D 30)

Please note that we're still working on this section
and that we only list Commanding Officers for the duration of the Second World War.

CommanderFromTo
1Commodore 2nd cl. Allan Poland, DSO, RN31 Jul 193920 Feb 1940
2Commodore 2nd cl. Cyril George Bucknill Coltart, RN20 Feb 194026 Feb 1940
3Capt. John Wentworth Farquhar, RN26 Feb 194020 Jun 1940
4A/Cdr. Cyril Appleton, RN20 Jun 194017 Jul 1940
5Commodore 2nd cl. Cyril Eustace Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN17 Jul 19407 Apr 1942
6Cdr. (retired) Cyril Appleton, RN7 Apr 194230 Apr 1942
7Cdr. (retired) Sir Herbert Maurice Huntington-Whiteley, RN30 Apr 194223 Jun 1942
8Capt. William Ronald Christopher Leggatt, RN23 Jun 194225 Sep 1943

9Cdr. Richard Taylor White, DSO, RNApr 1944mid 1944

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Notable events involving Despatch include:


The page for this light cruiser was last updated in February 2022.

25 Aug 1939
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, RN), the flagship of the 9th Cruiser Squadron, departed Portsmouth for Gibraltar. (1)

28 Aug 1939
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, RN) arrived at Gibraltar. (1)

31 Aug 1939
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, RN) conducted gunnery exercises off Gibraltar. (1)

2 Sep 1939

Convoy AB 1/1.

This convoy departed Gibraltar on 2 September 1939 and arrived at Capetown on 29 September 1939.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; British Ardour (British (tanker), 7124 GRT, built 1928), British Loyalty (British (tanker), 6993 GRT, built 1928), British Motorist (British (tanker), 6891 GRT, built 1924), British Princess (British (tanker), 7019 GRT, built 1917), British Progress (British (tanker), 4581 GRT, built 1927), City of Hereford (British, 5101 GRT, built 1927), City of Shanghai (British, 5828 GRT, built 1917) and Rowanbank (British, 5159 GRT, built 1919).

On departure from Gibraltar the convoy was escorted by the light cruisers HMS Dauntless (Capt. G.D. Moore, RAN) and HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, RN). Shortly after sailing four destroyers joined for A/S escort. These were HMS Douglas ( Cdr. R.F.B. Swinley, RN), HMS Watchman (Cdr.(Retd.) V. Hammersley-Heenan, RN), HMS Wishart (Cdr. E.T. Cooper, RN), HMS Wrestler (Lt.Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, RN) and they remained with the convoy until 0800/3.

At 1300/11, HMS Dauntless parted company with the convoy and proceeded to Freetown where she arrived around 1100/13.

At 0830/13, HMS Despatch turned over the convoy to HMS Durban (Capt. A.H. Maxwell-Hyslop, RN) which had departed Freetown around 1900/12 to join the convoy. HMS Despatch arrived at Freetown around 0615/14.

At 1045/29, the convoy was dispersed near Capetown after which most of the ships proceeded into Capetown harbour. HMS Durban arrived at Simonstown around 1700/29. (2)

21 Sep 1939

Convoy SL 2.

This convoy departed Freetown on 21 September 1939. It was split into several sections at sea at dusk on 7 October 1939 and the ships then proceeded to several ports of arrival in the U.K.

This convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Apapa (British, 9332 GRT, built 1927), Athelduchess (British (tanker), 8940 GRT, built 1929), Athelprincess (British (tanker), 8882 GRT, built 1929), City of Karachi (British, 7140 GRT, built 1937), Clan Macindoe (British, 4635 GRT, built 1920), Clearton (British, 5219 GRT, built 1919), Forresbank (British, 5155 GRT, built 1925), Grangepark (British, 5132 GRT, built 1919), Leonian (British, 5424 GRT, built 1936), Nurtureton (British, 6272 GRT, built 1929), Port Hardy (British, 8705 GRT, built 1923), Shakespear (British, 5029 GRT, built 1926), Urbino (British, 5198 GRT, built 1918) and Warlaby (British, 4876 GRT, built 1927).

Escort was provided on leaving Freetown by the light cruiser HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) which remained with the convoy until 28 September (0605A/28). On 21 September A/S escort was provided near Freetown by the destroyer HMS Hunter (Lt.Cdr. L. De Villiers, RN).

When approaching the U.K. the destroyers HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, RN) joined the convoy at dawn on 7 October 1940. They were reinforced by early in the evening by HMS Vanoc (Lt.Cdr. J.G.W. Deneys, RN) and HMS Whirlwind (Lt.Cdr. M.B. Ewart-Wentworth, RN). Shorly afterwards the convoy was split.

2 Oct 1939
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, RN) arrived at Freetown from convoy escort duty. (3)

3 Oct 1939
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, RN) departed Freetown for Bermuda. She is to join the America and West Indies Station. (3)

13 Oct 1939
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, RN) arrived at Bermuda from Freetown.

At Bermuda she is immediately docked in the floating dock. (3)

14 Oct 1939
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, RN) is undocked. (3)

19 Oct 1939
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, RN) and HMAS Perth (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN) conducted range and inclination exercises off Bermuda. (3)

20 Oct 1939
HMS Caradoc (Capt. E.W.L. Longley-Cook, RN) arrived at Bermuda. After fuelling she departed for Kingston, Jamaica together with HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN). (4)

25 Oct 1939
The German tanker Emmy Friedrich (4372 GRT, built 1904) departed Tampico, Mexico to try to break out into the Atlantic.

Light cruiser HMS Orion (Capt. H.R.G. Kinahan, RN) and the destroyer HMCS Saguenay (Lt.Cdr. G.R. Miles, RCN) were ordered to patrol in the Yukatan Strait.

The light cruisers HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) and HMS Caradoc (Capt. E.W.L. Longley-Cook, RN) which had been en-route from Bermuda to Kingston, Jamaica were diverted to patrol north of Cuba to try to intercept.

At 2120R/24, HMS Despatch sighted an unknown ship and altered course to close to investigate.

At 2215R/24, HMS Despatch stopped to sent over a boarding party and armed guard to inspect the suspicious vessel which claimed to be the Belgian Ostende (4528 GRT, built 1903).

At 2251R/24, the boarding officer reported that the ship was the German Emmy Friederich and four minutes later the German ship started to sink having been scuttled by her crew which then started to abandon ship.

In the meantime HMS Caradoc, which had been nearby, had sighted the suspicious vessel at 2130R/24 and had also altered course to investigate. She now took the cutter with the boarding party and armed guard in tow while also rescuing the German crew.

At 0030R/25, HMS Caradoc sent over her own boarding party to try to salvage the German ship. They returned at 0115R/25 having been unable to stop the inflow of water.

At 0500R/25, the Emmy Friederich sank.

HMS Caradoc remained in the area to sink the German lifeboats while HMS Despatch left the area for Kingston followed later by HMS Caradoc. (5)

27 Oct 1939
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) and HMS Caradoc (Capt. E.W.L. Longley-Cook, RN) both arrived at Kingston from patrol. (4)

29 Oct 1939
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) departed Kingston, Jamaica for the Pacific. She is to patrol along the west coast of South America. (6)

31 Oct 1939
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) transited the Panama Canal westbound and arrived at Balbao. (3)

1 Nov 1939
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) departed Balbao to patrol off the Galapagos Islands. (7)

4 Nov 1939
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) arrived in the Galapagos Islands area where she patrolled for a few days. (7)

9 Nov 1939
HMS Caradoc (Capt. E.W.L. Longley-Cook, RN) fuelled from the RFA tanker Orangeleaf (5927 GRT, built 1917) off Cocos Island.

Meanwhile HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) also arrived at the rendezvous. She fuelled after HMS Caradoc had completed doing so.

Both cruisers then resumed patrol. HMS Caradoc proceeded to the north-east towards San Diego. HMS Despatch proceeded to the south-west towards the coast of Equador. (8)

16 Nov 1939
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) arrived at Callao, Peru. (7)

17 Nov 1939
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) departed Callao, Peru to continue her patrol along the west coast of South America. (7)

19 Nov 1939
During the night of 19/20 November 1939, HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN), fuelled from the RFA tanker Orangeleaf (5927 GRT, built 1917) off San Juan Bay, Peru. (7)

25 Nov 1939
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) anchored off the Juan Fernandez Islands. (7)

26 Nov 1939
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) departed the Juan Fernandez Islands to continue her patrol along the west coast of South America. (7)

27 Nov 1939
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) arrived at Valparaíso, Chili. (7)

28 Nov 1939
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) departed Valparaíso, Chili to continue her patrol along the west coast of South America. (7)

2 Dec 1939
During the night of 2/3 December 1939, HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN), fuelled from the RFA tanker Orangeleaf (5927 GRT, built 1917) off the Quaitecas Islands, Chile. (9)

15 Dec 1939
The German merchant vessel Dusseldorf (4930 GRT, built 1935) was captured by HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) west of Punta Vial, Chile in approximate position 27°14'S, 71°10'W. A prize crew was placed aboard the German ship.

[This is often reported as having occurred on 5 December 1939 but this is incorrect, the logbook of HMS Despatch leaves no doubt as the correct date being the 15th.]

16 Dec 1939
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) and the captured German merchant vessel Dusseldorf (4930 GRT, built 1935) arrived at Antofagasta, Chili. (9)

17 Dec 1939
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) and the captured German merchant vessel Dusseldorf (4930 GRT, built 1935) both departed Antofagasta, Chili.

HMS Despatch fuelled during the night of 17/18 December 1939 from RFA tanker Orangeleaf (5927 GRT, built 1917) off Mejillones Bay, Chile. (9)

20 Dec 1939
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) arrived at Valparaíso, Chili. (9)

22 Dec 1939
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) departed Valparaíso, Chili to continue her patrol along the west coast of South America. (9)

24 Dec 1939
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) anchored off the Quaitecas Islands, Chile. (9)

31 Dec 1939
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) departed the Quaitecas Islands, Chile for San Quintin Bay, Chili (9)

1 Jan 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) anchored in San Quintin Bay, Chili. (10)

4 Jan 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) departed San Quintin Bay, Chili to continue her patrol off the west coast of South America. (10)

13 Jan 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) arrived at Valparaíso, Chili. (10)

14 Jan 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) departed Valparaíso, Chili to continue her patrol along the west coast of South America. (10)

17 Jan 1940
The light cruiser HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN), armed merchant cruiser HMS Rajputana (Capt.(Retd.) F.H. Taylor, DSC, RN) and the RFA tanker Abbeydale (8299 GRT, built 1937) made rendezvous off San Nicolás Bay, Peru.

All ships departed again to resume their patrols later the same day. (11)

18 Jan 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) arrived at Callao, Peru. (10)

20 Jan 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) departed Callao, Peru to resume her patrol. (10)

24 Jan 1940
During the night of 24/25 January 1940, HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN), fuelled from the RFA tanker Abbeydale (8299 GRT, built 1937) near Isla de la Plata, Equador. (10)

25 Jan 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) arrived at Salinas, Equador. (10)

26 Jan 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) departed Salinas, Equador to resume her patrol. (10)

1 Feb 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) arrived at Callao, Peru. (12)

2 Feb 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) departed Callao, Peru to resume her patrol. (12)

3 Feb 1940
During the night of 3/4 February 1940, HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN), fuelled from the RFA tanker Abbeydale (8299 GRT, built 1937) in San Nicolás Bay, Peru. (12)

15 Feb 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) arrived at Callao, Peru. (12)

16 Feb 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) departed Callao, Peru to resume her patrol. (12)

18 Feb 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. A. Poland, DSO, RN) fuelled from the RFA tanker Bishopdale (8406 GRT, built 1937) at Manta Bay, Equador. On completion HMS Despatch resumed her patrol. (12)

20 Feb 1940
HMS Despatch transited the Panama Canal eastbound.

During the passage Commodore C.G.B. Coltart, CVO, RN took over command of HMS Despatch from Commodore A. Poland, DSO, RN. (12)

22 Feb 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.G.B. Coltart, CVO, RN) arrived at Kingston, Jamaica. (12)

24 Feb 1940
During 24/25 Februaury 1940, HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.G.B. Coltart, CVO, RN) conducted exercises off Jamaica. These included night exercises. (12)

26 Feb 1940
HMS Despatch (Capt. J.W. Farquhar, RN) departed Kingston, Jamaica to patrol off Aruba, Dutch West Indies. (12)

29 Feb 1940
Around 2030QR(+4.5)/29, HMS Despatch (Capt. J.W. Farquhar, RN) sighted a darkened ship. This turned out to be the German merchant vessel Troja (2390 GRT, built 1922) off Aruba, Dutch West Indies. However before the German ship can be captured she is scuttled by her own crew about 10 miles west of Aruba in position 12°30'N, 70°16'W. HMS Despatch picked up the German crew of 19 at 2215QR/29.

[This is often reported as having occurred on 1 March 1940 but this is incorrect, the logbook of HMS Despatch leaves no doubt as the correct date being 29 February.] (12)

4 Mar 1940
HMS Despatch (Capt. J.W. Farquhar, RN) arrived at Kingston, Jamaica from patrol.

The German prisoners were landed and the ship fuelled.

She departed for patrol again later the same day. She was ordered to patrol the Mona Passage. This was later changed to patrol to the north-east of Curacao as two German ships had departed from there during the night of 4/5 March 1940.

Later she patrolled the area of the Virgin Islands. (13)

9 Mar 1940
HMS Despatch (Capt. J.W. Farquhar, RN) fuelled from the RFA tanker War Brahmin (5545 GRT, built 1921) off Tortola, on completion of which HMS Despatch resumed patrol. (14)

9 Mar 1940
HMS Despatch (Capt. J.W. Farquhar, RN) fuelled from the RFA tanker War Brahmin (5545 GRT, built 1921) off Tortola, on completion of which HMS Despatch resumed patrol but now in the Mona Passage as a report had been received that a German merchant vessel had sailed from Curacao. (14)

12 Mar 1940
HMS Despatch (Capt. J.W. Farquhar, RN) arrived off Aruba / Curacao, Netherlands West Indies to patrol off these islands. (14)

20 Mar 1940
HMS Despatch (Capt. J.W. Farquhar, RN) arrived at Kingston, Jamaica from patrol. (13)

23 Mar 1940
HMS Despatch (Capt. J.W. Farquhar, RN) departed Kingston Jamaica to patrol in the Windward passage on the 24th when the troopship Mauretania (British, 35739 GRT, built 1939) was to pass through there. (14)

25 Mar 1940
HMS Despatch (Capt. J.W. Farquhar, RN) returned to Kingston Jamaica from patrol. (13)

1 Apr 1940
HMS Despatch (Capt. J.W. Farquhar, RN) departed Kingston, Jamaica to patrol off Curacao, Netherlands West Indies. (15)

10 Apr 1940
HMS Despatch (Capt. J.W. Farquhar, RN) arrived at Kingston, Jamaica from patrol. (15)

13 Apr 1940
HMS Despatch (Capt. J.W. Farquhar, RN) departed Kingston, Jamaica to patrol off Colon, Panama. (15)

21 Apr 1940
HMS Despatch (Capt. J.W. Farquhar, RN) returned to Kingston, Jamaica from patrol. (15)

23 Apr 1940
HMS Despatch (Capt. J.W. Farquhar, RN) departed Kingston, Jamaica to patrol off Curacao, Dutch West Indies. (15)

3 May 1940
HMS Despatch (Capt. J.W. Farquhar, RN) returned to Kingston, Jamaica from patrol. (16)

8 May 1940
HMS Despatch (Capt. J.W. Farquhar, RN) departed Kingston, Jamaica to patrol off Colon, Panama. (16)

10 May 1940
HMS Despatch (Capt. J.W. Farquhar, RN) departed her patrol area off Colon, Panama to proceed to Curacao, Dutch West Indies. (16)

11 May 1940
HMS Despatch (Capt. J.W. Farquhar, RN) arrived at Curacao, Dutch West Indies. (16)

14 May 1940
HMS Despatch (Capt. J.W. Farquhar, RN) departed Curacao, Dutch West Indies to resume her patrol off Colon, Panama. (16)

18 May 1940
HMS Despatch (Capt. J.W. Farquhar, RN) arrived at Kingston, Jamaica from patrol. (16)

24 May 1940
HMS Despatch (Capt. J.W. Farquhar, RN) departed Kingston, Jamaica for Bermuda. (17)

27 May 1940
HMS Despatch (Capt. J.W. Farquhar, RN) arrived at Bermuda from Kingston. En-route she had developed condensor problems for which she had to be taken in hand for repairs and refit as she was due for this shortly anyway. (17)

5 Jun 1940
HMS Despatch (Capt. J.W. Farquhar, RN) is docked in the floating dock at Bermuda. (18)

12 Jun 1940
HMS Despatch (Capt. J.W. Farquhar, RN) is undocked. (18)

24 Jul 1940
During 24/25 July 1940, HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) conducted exercises and trials off Bermuda. On completion of the exercises / trials she set course for Trinidad. (19)

29 Jul 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Trinidad from Bermuda. (19)

30 Jul 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Trinidad to patrol in the Atlantic up to 800 miles bearing 040° from Trinidad after which she was to patrol towards a position 800 miles bearing 040° from the Windward passage. (20)

5 Aug 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Tortola from patrol. These she fuelled from the chartered tanker San Adolfo (7365 GRT, 1935).

6 Aug 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Tortola for patrol and then onwards to Bermuda. (21)

11 Aug 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Bermuda from patrol. (21)

14 Aug 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Bermuda for Kingston, Jamaica. En-route she first was to escort the Canadian passenger/cargo ship Lady Somers (Canadian, 8194 GRT, built 1929), which had on board the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, to Nassau, Bahama's. (21)

19 Aug 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Kingston, Jamaica. (21)

23 Aug 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Kingston, Jamaica for Curacao, Dutch West Indies. She was to show herself of the Colombian coast while en-route. (22)

25 Aug 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Curacao, Dutch West Indies from Kingston, Jamaica. (21)

27 Aug 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Curacao, Dutch West Indies for Kingston, Jamaica. (21)

29 Aug 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Kingston, Jamaica from Curacao, Dutch West Indies. (21)

1 Sep 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Kingston, Jamaica for Aruba, Dutch West Indies. (23)

3 Sep 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Aruba, Dutch West Indies from Kingston, Jamaica. (23)

7 Sep 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) proceeded from Aruba to Curacao. (23)

10 Sep 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Curacao, Dutch West Indies for La Guaira, Venezuela. (23)

11 Sep 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at La Guaira, Venezuela from Curacao, Dutch West Indies. (23)

12 Sep 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed La Guaira, Venezuela for Bermuda. (23)

15 Sep 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Bermuda from La Guaira, Venezuela. (23)

16 Sep 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Bermuda for Greenock. She was to proceed to the U.K. for some changes to her armament. (24)

25 Sep 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Greenock from Bermuda. (23)

29 Sep 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Greenock for Plymouth. (23)

1 Oct 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Plymouth from Greenock. (23)

1 Oct 1940
During the night of 1/2 October 1940 the light cruiser HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN), ORP Garland (Lt.Cdr. A. Doroszkowski, ORP) and Blyskawica (Lt.Cdr. W. Franki) conducted a sweep from Ushant towards Plateau des Roches Douvres (a reef to the west of Jersey). On completion of the sweep they returned to Plymouth. [Orders were to departed from Plymouth at 2000/1 and return at 0800/2.] (25)

2 Oct 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Plymouth for Portsmouth. (26)

3 Oct 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Portsmouth from Plymouth where she was taken in hand for a short refit. (26)

1 Nov 1940
With her short refit completed, HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Portsmouth for Greenock.

At sea she might have been joined by the destroyers HMS Venomous (Lt.Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, RN), HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN) and HMS Windsor (Lt.Cdr. G.P. Huddart, RN) which had departed Sheerness also on 1 November.

[All these ships were to arrive at Greenock on 3 November so it seems likely they joined company off Portsmouth although there is no confirmation of this in the logbook of HMS Despatch.] (27)

3 Nov 1940
The light cruiser HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) and the the destroyers HMS Venomous (Lt.Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, RN), HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN) and HMS Windsor (Lt.Cdr. G.P. Huddart, RN) all arrived at Greenock from Portsmouth / Sheerness. (27)

5 Nov 1940

Hunt for the German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer after the attack on convoy HX 84.

Timespan: 5 October to 23 October 1940.

In response to the attack on convoy HX 84 by the German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer the Admiralty acted quickly.

The battlecruisers HMS Hood (Capt. I.G. Glennie, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Repulse (Capt. W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), light cruisers HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN), HMS Bonaventure (Capt. H.J. Egerton, RN) and the destroyers HMS Somali (Capt. C. Caslon, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. St. J.A. Micklethwait, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Mashona (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Matabele (Cdr. R.St.V. Sherbrooke, DSO, RN), HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN) and HMS Electra (Lt.Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN) departed Scapa Flow at 2330/5 to proceed to the last reported position of the German pocket battleship 52°50'N, 32°15'W at 2003/5.

At 1050/6 the force split up; HMS Hood, HMS Naiad, HMS Phoebe, HMS Somali, HMS Eskimo and HMS Punjabi proceeded to patrol off the Bay of Biscay to cover the approaches to Brest and Lorient.

HMS Repulse, HMS Bonaventure, HMS Mashona, HMS Matabele and HMS Electra towards the Admiral Scheer's last known position.

At 0700/6 the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN, flying the flag of Admiral of the Fleet C.M. Forbes, GCB, DSO, RN) and HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN), light cruiser HMS Southampton (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN) and the destroyers HMS Cossack (Capt. P.L. Vian, DSO, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr. H.T. Armstrong, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN), HMS Douglas (Cdr.(Retd.) J.G. Crossley, RN), HMS Keppel (Lt. R.J. Hanson, RN) and HMS Vimy (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN) departed Scapa Flow to cover the patrols in the Iceland-Faroes Channel.

Shortly before midnight during the night of 6/7 November HMS Rodney was detached to escort to escort convoy HX 83 and once this convoy was safe, HX 85 from Halifax.

Three armed merchant cruisers, which were on patrol were recalled to port on the 8th. These were HMS Chitral (Capt.(Retd.) G. Hamilton, RN), which was to the northwest of Iceland and HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, RAN) and HMS Worcestershire (A/Capt. J. Creswell, RN), which were to the south of Iceland. The light cruiser HMS Southampton was ordered to take over the place of HMS Chitral. She split off from HMS Nelson at 1600/8. HMS Worcestershire joined HMS Nelson and her escorting destroyers around 1500/9.

There were also the destroyers HMS Churchill (Cdr.(Retd.) G.R. Cousins, RN), HMS Lewes (Lt.Cdr. J.N.K. Knight, RN), HMS Lincoln (Cdr. A.M. Sheffield, RN) and HMS Ludlow (Cdr. G.B. Sayer, RN). They were en-route to the U.K. and had departed Halifax on 31 October and refuelled at St. Johns on 3 November. After receiving distress signals from ships in convoy HX 84 they rushed to the reported location. The only thing they found was an empty lifeboat. They then continued their Atlantic crossing and arrived at Londonderry on 9 November.

The destroyer HMS Stanley (A/Lt.Cdr. R.B. Stannard, VC, RNR) had departed Halifax on 1 November and St. Johns on 5 November. Now she and the Canadian destroyer HMCS St.Francis (Lt.Cdr. H.F. Pullen, RCN) escorted convoy HX 85, which had been recalled, back to Nova Scotia.

On 8 November, after machinery defects had been repaired, the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia (Capt. R.R. Stewart, RN) departed the Clyde to protect convoys.

The battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt C.E.B. Simeon, RN) and the destroyers HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN) and HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN) departed Gibraltar at 0500/6 to provide cover for convoys HG 46 and SL 53.

At 1225/6, off Cape St Vincent, the submarine HMS Utmost (Lt. J.H. Eaden, DSC, RN) was identified as enemy by HMS Encounter which then rammed the submarine which was en-route to Gibraltar. HMS Encounter was escorted to Gibraltar by HMS Forester. They arrived at 0800/7.

On 11 November, HMAS Australia relieved Renown from covering convoy HG 46 and Renown arrived back at Gibraltar around 1515/12. Renown had been joined at 0807/12 by the destroyers HMS Duncan (Cdr. A.D.B. James, RN) and HMS Forester.

Aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Verity (Cdr. R.H. Mills, RN), HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN) and HMS Windsor (Lt.Cdr. G.P. Huddart, RN) departed the Clyde on 7 November for Gibraltar and were also ordered to keep a look out for the German pocket battleship. The destroyers were later detached; HMS Windsor around 0100/9 and HMS Verity and HMS Vesper around 0600/9. HMS Despatch was detached at 1000/13 and proceeded to Gibraltar where she arrived around noon the next day. Shortly before HMS Despatch was detached the destroyers HMS Wishart (Cdr. E.T. Cooper, RN) and HMS Wrestler (Lt. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) had joined followed later in the day by HMS Vidette (Lt. E.N. Walmsley, RN). HMS Argus, HMS Vidette, HMS Wishart and HMS Wrestler arrived at Gibraltar very late on the 14th.

Battlecruiser HMS Repulse escorted by the destroyers HMS Matabele and HMS Electra arrived at Scapa Flow for refuelling around 1100/11.

Light cruiser HMS Bonaventure and destroyer HMS Mashona arrived at Scapa Flow around 1130/11 for refuelling.

Battlecruiser HMS Hood, light cruisers HMS Naiad, HMS Phoebe and the destroyers HMS Somali, HMS Eskimo and HMS Punjabi returned to Scapa Flow around 1400/11 for refuelling. HMS Eskimo had suffered weather damage to her asdic dome and had some forecastle deck plates buckled. She was docked for repairs in the floating drydock at Scapa Flow from 13 to 16 November.

After fuelling HMS Bonaventure departed Scapa Flow at 2300/11 to continue to search for survivors from convoy HX 84. Armed merchant cruiser HMS Chitral was also back at sea to search for survivors. She had departed from Reykjavik, Iceland around 2330/10.

HMS Bonaventure returned to Scapa Flow on the 19th with weather damage.

The armed merchant cruiser HMS Letitia (A/Capt. E.H. Longsdon, RN) departed the Clyde around 1300/11 for the Northern Patrol.

HMS Repulse, HMS Naiad departed Scapa Flow around 1330/12 for patrol and also to provide cover for ships of the Northern Patrol. They were escorted by the destoyers HMS Sikh (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, RN), HMS Mashona, HMS Matabele and HMS Punjabi.

HMS Naiad parted company on the 13th to proceed to Jan Mayen Island where a German weather / wireless station in Jameson Bay was to be raided.

HMS Repulse returned to Scapa Flow at 0015/19 being escorted by the destroyers HMS Ashanti (Cdr. W.G. Davis, RN), HMS Mashona and HMS Matabele. They had provided cover for HMS Naiad during her raid on Jan Mayen Island.

The battleship HMS Nelson arrived at Scapa Flow around 1630/13 escorted by the destryers Maori, HMS Beagle (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Wright, RN), HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. F.J.G. Hewitt, RN) and Keppel.

Battleship HMS Rodney arrived at Scapa Flow around 1500/23rd. She had been joined at dawn the previous day by the destroyers HMS Beagle, HMS Brilliant, HMS Bulldog and HMS Electra. (28)

15 Nov 1940

Operation White.

Transfer of aircraft to Malta.

At 0400A/15, ' Force H ', made up of the battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, DSO, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Ark Royal (Capt. C.S. Holland, RN), HMS Argus (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), light cruisers HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN), HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, DSC, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN), HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Duncan (Cdr. A.D.B. James, RN), HMS Wishart (Cdr. E.T. Cooper, RN) departed Gibraltar in bright moonlight. Course was shaped at 16 knots to pass to the south of Alboran Island.

A/S patrols were flown off at dawn. The wind was westerly, force 4 throughout the day. For flying operations course had to be reversed. During the day some training exercises were carried out.

At 1130A/15, an aircraft, most probably a Spanish air liner from Tetuan to Melilla, passed down the starboard side of the Fleet on a westerly course, in position 35°50'N, 03°56'W at a range of about 12 miles. At 1315A/15, in position 35°35'N, 03°43'W a similar machine was seen passing the Fleet in the reverse direction. By this time however, the course of the Fleet was to the eastward. It is probable that these air lines report British units whenever sighted.

All aircraft were landed on by 1800A/15. At 1900A/15 course was altered to the north-eastward.

At 2101A/15 a signal was received from the Air Officer Commanding, Mediterranean that arrangements had been made for meeting the Hurricanes. These were that a Sunderland from Malta would be in the rendezvous position of Galita Island to meet the first range of Hurricanes flying off at 0615A/17, and a Glenn Martin from Malta to meet the second range flying off at 0710A/17.

After dawn on the 16th, course was altered to the south-eastward and shortly afterwards, fighter and A/S patrols were flown off. The westerly wind had increased to force 6 and remained at that strenght throughout the day.

By noon the sea had increased and the conditions for operating aircrft had become severe. As visibility from the air was low and as the RDF screen remained clear, Vice-Admiral Somerville decided to cancel flying operations and maintain a fighter section at readiness in the carrier.

As there appeared to be every chance of avoiding detection and since bad weather conditions appeared likely to persist, Vice-Admiral Somerville decided at 1430A/16 not to carry out the intended bombing attack on Alghero aerodrome.

Italian naval units were then reported to be at sea to the south of Naples and it was decided, in view of this, to launch the aircraft for Malta from as far west as the weather conditions would admit. HMS Argus reported that in te present weather the aircraft could be flown off from longtitude 06°40'E.

At 1500A/16 the course of the fleet was therefore reversed for an hour to reduce the chances of detection before dark and in order to maintain a speed of not less then 16 knots during the night.

By 0200A/17 the strong westerly wind had backed sightly and dropped considerably. Visibility had improved and was maximum at dawn.

At 0545A/17 the force was split into two groups, HMS Argus, HMS Despatch and three of the destroyers were to fly off the Hurricanes for Malta. HMS Renown, HMS Ark Royal, HMS Sheffield and the remaining five destroyers were to fly off A/S patrols, a fighter section and a reconnaissance to the eastward.

At the time of flying off, the wind at 2000 feet in the flying off position was 220°, 20 knots, and the latest forecast received from Malta, which was timed 1130A/16, reported the wind in the Malta chennel as south-west. As no further report was received it was presumed there was no change.

Te first flight took off at 0615A/17 in position 37°29'N, 06°43'E and the second flight at 0715A/17 in position 37°24'N, 06°52'E.

Arrangements had been made for a Sunderland to meet the first flight five miles to the northward of Galita Island, and for a Glen Martin to meet the second flight in the same position. From signals intercepted, it was apparent that the Sunderlandhad effected a rendezvous but that the Glen Martin had failed to do so.

On completion of flying off, the two groups joined company and ' Force H ' withdrew to the westward at 18.5 knots.

Reconnaissance aircraft returned at 0945A/17 and reported nothing in sight within 100 miles to the east of ' Force H '. Two fighter sections were maintained in the air until 1400A/17 but no enemy aircraft appeared.

From signals it was learnt that only one Skua and four Hurricanes had arrived at Malta. It is suspected that easterly winds had been encountered resullting in the loss of many aircraft and their pilots.

At 1530A/17, the wind had increased to Force 6 so speed had to be reduced t 15 knots to avoid damage to the destroyers. A/S and fighter patrols were landed on and flying was cancelled for the day.

At 1550A/17, HMS Sheffield was sent on ahead in order that she might fuel and obtain a night in harbour befor proceeding to the westward to rendezvous with the transport ships of operation Collar. She arrived at Gibraltar around 1800A/18.

Speed had to be further reduced to 12 knots at 1635A/17, and to 10 knots at 1655A/17 to allow HMS Firedrake, which had dropped behind to effect some repairs, to regain station.

At 1800A/17, Admiralty's message 1727A/17 was received ordering ' Force H ' to return to Gibraltar at maximum speed. Vice-Admiral Somerville therefore reported position, course and speed (37°34'N, 03°31'E, 265°, 9 knots) and added that all ships were steaming into a full westerly gale.

Shortly afterwards Admiralty's message 1800A/17 was received stating that the German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer was thought to be in the vicinity of the Azores and ordering HMS Renown and HMS Ark Royal and other units to proceed to Gibraltar at maximum speed, refuel and than proceed to the Azores. In reply Vice-Admiral Somerville stated that by proceeding without a destroyer screen HMS Renown and HMS Ark Royal could proceed at a somewhat hight speed, provided that the situation justified additional submarine risks.

At 2006A/17, speed was increased to 12 knots and to 13 knots at 2035A/17. At 2100A/17, Admiralty's message timed 2025A/17 was received ordering Vice-Admiral Somerville to retain the destroyers.

A small fire was observed in HMS Argus at 2140A/17. At 2310A/17, HMS Fury reported that damage was being sustained and speed was reduced to 12 knots.

At 0417A/18, speed was increased to 13 knots and at 0454A/18 to 14 knots. At 0600A/18 the Admiralty was informed of the speed and position of ' Force H ' (37°24'N, 00°57'E). A further increase of speed to 18 knots was possible at 0837A/18.

At 1110A/18, speed was increased to 19 knots. HMS Argus, HMS Despatch, HMS Wishart, HMS Duncan and HMS Fury were then detached while HMS Renown, HMS Ark Royal, HMS Faulknor, HMS Firedrake, HMS Forester, HMS Fortune and HMS Foxhound proceeded ahead. They increased speed to 20 knots but at 1335A/18 speed had to be reduced to 18 knots and at 1435A/18 to 15 knots.

From this time onwards speed was varied between 15 and 20 knots in accordance with conditions prevailing. Arrangements were made with Admiral Commanding North Atlantic Station for HMS Renown and HMS Ark Royal to oil in Gibraltar Bay, destroyers and A/S trawlers meanwhile carrying out an A/S patrol in the vicinity.

At 0230A/19, as the Renown group was about to enter Gibraltar Bay, Admiralty's message 0140A/19 was received cancelling the deployment of ships proceeding to the Azores. Renown and Ark Royal therefore proceeded into harbour. HMS Renown entered harbour at 0350A/19. HMS Argus and her group at 0850A/19. (29)

22 Nov 1940
The light cruiser HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN) and HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN) departed Gibraltar around 1020A/22 for a patrol with the intention to intercept a Vichy-French merchant vessel. The patrol was discontinued at 0010A/23 and both ships with the Vichy French vessel Charles Plumier (former armed merchant cruiser, 4504 GRT, built 1938) returned to Gibraltar arriving around 0900A/23. The Vichy vessel had been captured in position 35°32'N, 03°05'W. (30)

25 Nov 1940

Operation Collar and the resulting Battle of Cape Spartivento.

See also the event for 23 November 1940 called ‘Operation MB 9’ for the events in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Departure of the convoy from Gibraltar / passage through the Straits of Gibraltar and plan of the operation.

During the night of 24/25 November 1940 the three merchants / troop transports, Clan Forbes (7529 GRT, built 1938), Clan Fraser (7529 GRT, built 1939) and New Zealand Star (10740 GRT, built 1935), passed the Straits of Gibraltar. To the eastward of Gibraltar they were joined by the four corvettes (HMS Peony (Lt.Cdr. (rtd.) M.B. Sherwood, DSO, RN), (HMS Salvia (Lt.Cdr. J.I. Miller, DSO, RD, RNR), HMS Gloxinia (Lt.Cdr. A.J.C. Pomeroy, RNVR) and HMS Hyacinth (T/Lt. F.C. Hopkins, RNR) that were part of Force ‘F’, which was the close support force of the convoy. The other ships of Force ‘F’ were the light cruisers HMS Manchester (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN) and HMS Southampton (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN) and the destroyer HMS Hotspur (Cdr. H.F.H Layman, DSO, RN), which was in a damaged state and was to proceed to Malta for full repairs. These last three ships sailed at 0800/25. The cruisers had each about 700 RAF and other military personnel onboard that were to be transported to Alexandria.

The cover force for this convoy, force ‘B’ also left Gibraltar at 0800/25. This force was made up of the battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, DSO, RN), the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (Capt. C.S. Holland, RN), the light cruisers HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN) and HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN). They were escorted by destroyers from the 8th and 13th Destroyer Flotillas; HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN, Capt. D.8), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, DSC, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Duncan (Capt. A.D.B. James, RN, Capt. D.13), HMS Wishart (Cdr. E.T. Cooper, RN), HMS Vidette (Lt. E.N. Walmsley, RN), HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St.J. Morgan, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN).

Force ‘F’ and the merchant ship New Zealand Star were to proceed to Alexandria except for HMS Hotspur which was to detach to Malta as mentioned earlier as well as the other two merchant ships. Force ‘B’ was to cover Force ‘F’ and the merchant ships during the passage of the Western Mediterranean. To the south of Sardinia these forces were to be joined around noon on 27 November 1940 by Force ‘D’ which came from the Eastern Mediterranean and was made up of the battleship HMS Ramillies (Capt. A.D. Reid, RN), the heavy cruiser HMS Berwick (Capt. G.L. Warren, RN), the light cruiser HMS Newcastle (Capt. E.A. Aylmer, DSC, RN) and the AA cruiser HMS Coventry (Capt. D. Gilmour, RN). They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN), HMS Diamond (Lt.Cdr. P.A. Cartwright, RN), HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN), HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.R. Marshall A'Deane, DSC, RN) and HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN). [actually HMS Diamond however did not join Force 'D'] All forces were then to proceed towards the Sicilian narrows for a position between Sicily and Cape Bon which was to be reached at dusk. After dark Force ’F’, reinforced by HMS Coventry and the destroyers from Force ‘D’ were then to proceed through the narrows to the Eastern Mediterranean where they would be met the next day by ships of the Mediterranean Fleet. Force ‘B’ with HMS Ramillies, HMS Berwick and HMS Newcastle from Force ‘D’ were then to return to Gibraltar.

Disposition of British forces at 0800 hours, 27 November 1940.

At 0800/27, about half an hour before sunrise, the situation was as follows. Vice-Admiral Somerville in HMS Renown, with HMS Ark Royal, HMS Sheffield and four destroyers were in position 37°48’N, 07°24’E (about 95 nautical miles south-west of Cape Spartivento, Sardinia) steering 083° at 16 knots.

Some 25 nautical miles to the south-west of him, the Vice-Admiral 18th cruiser squadron in HMS Manchester, with HMS Southampton, HMS Despatch and five destroyers were in company with the convoy in position 37°37’N, 06°54’E. The four corvettes had been unable to keep up with the convoy and were about 10 nautical miles to the westward of it. The visibility was excellent, the wind south-easterly, force 3 to 4 and the sea was calm.

At this time HMS Ark Royal flew off a section of fighters, one A/S patrol, one meteorological machine and seven reconnaissance aircraft. Vice-Admiral Somerville continued on his easterly course to concentrate with Force ‘D’ which was approaching from the Skerki Bank. At 0900 hours he changed course to the south-west to join the convoy to provide additional AA defence for the convoy for expected air attacks from Sardinian aerodromes.

Reconnaissance aircraft report enemy forces at sea.

Shortly before the course change, at 0852/27 one of Ark Royal’s aicraft sighted a group of enemy warships about 25 nautical miles to the southward of Cape Spartivento and while closing to investigate at 0906 hours sent an alarm report of four cruisers and six destroyers, which, however was not received by any ship of the British forces. On sighting the convoy at 0920 hours, HMS Renown maneuvered to pass astern of it and take station to the southward and up sun, in the probable direction of any air attack. At 0956 hours, while still on the port quarter of the convoy, Vice-Admiral Somerville received from HMS Ark Royal an aircraft report timed 0920/27, of five cruisers and five destroyers some 65 nautical miles to the north-eastward of him.

Steam was at once ordered for full speed and screens of two destroyers each were arranged for both HMS Ark Royal and the merchant ships. Further reports from aircraft, confirmed by HMS Ark Royal, established by 1015/27 the presence of enemy battleships and cruisers and HMS Renown altered course to 075° to join HMS Ramillies increasing speed as rapidly as possible to 28 knots.

Measures to safeguard the convoy and to join Force ‘D’.

At 1035/27 the plot showed enemy forces to the north-east but their composition and relative position were still in doubt. In these circumstances Vice-Admiral Somerville decided that the convoy should continue to its destination steering a south-easterly course (120°) in order to keep clear of any action which might develop. It was given an escort of two cruisers, HMS Despatch and HMS Coventry and the destroyers HMS Duncan and HMS Wishart. The remaining two cruisers and three destroyers of Force ‘F’ were ordered to join Force ‘B’ which steered to make contact with Force ‘D’ which was approaching from the east and then to attack the enemy together. HMS Ark Royal was ordered to prepare and fly off a torpedo bomber striking force. She was to act independently escorted by HMS Kelvin and HMS Jaguar and under cover from the battlefleet.

At 1058/27 a Sunderland flying boat closed HMS Renown and reported Force ‘D’ bearing 070°, range 34 nautical miles. As the junction of the two forces seemed to be assured, the speed was reduced to 24 knots, in order to maintain a position between the convoy and the enemy force which estimated position was bearing 025°, range 50 nautical miles. The Sunderland flying boat was ordered to shadow and report its composition.

The cruisers HMS Manchester, HMS Southampton and HMS Sheffield had meanwhile concentrated with the destroyers in the van, bearing 5 nautical miles from HMS Renown in the direction of the enemy.

Reports from the reconnaissance aircraft of HMS Ark Royal contained a number of discrepancies which made it impossible to obtain a clear picture of the situation. Two groups of cruisers had been reported, as well as two battleships. It seemed certain that five or six cruisers were present, but the number of battleships remained in doubt. But whatever the composition of the enemy force in order to get the convoy through Vice-Admiral Somerville wanted to attack as soon as possible. At 1115/27 the enemy was reported to be changing course to the eastward.

All this time Force ‘D’ had been coming westwards and at 1128/27 they were sighted from HMS Renown bearing 073°, range about 24 nautical miles. The aircraft reports now indicated that the enemy force was made up of two battleships, six or more cruisers and a considerable number of destroyers. The action seemed likely to develop into a chase, and HMS Ramillies was therefore ordered to steer 045°, so as not to lose ground due to her slow speed. Vice-Admiral Holland was put in command of all the cruisers in the van and HMS Berwick and HMS Newcastle from Force ‘D’ were ordered to join him. It was shortly after this that HMS Ark Royal flew off her first torpedo bombers striking force.

The approach on the enemy.

At 1134 hours, Vice-Admiral Somerville increased to 28 knots and at 1140 hours altered course to 050° to close the enemy. The position of the British forces was now as follows. Fine on the port bow of HMS Renown were HMS Manchester, HMS Southampton and HMS Sheffield in single line ahead. HMS Berwick and HMS Newcastle was coming from the eastward to join them. Two miles astern HMS Faulknor (Capt. D 8) was gradually collecting the other ships of his Flotilla and HMS Encounter some of which had been screening the convoy. The four destroyers of Force ‘D’, HMS Defender, HMS Gallant, HMS Greyhound and HMS Hereward were proceeding westwards to join and were eventually stationed bearing 270°, 3 nautical miles from her.

Ten nautical miles fine on the starboard bow of HMS Renown, HMS Ramillies was altering to a parallel course. HMS Ark Royal had dropped some distance astern. She was carrying out flying operations between the main force and the convoy, which was now about 22 nautical miles west-south-west of HMS Renown.

At 1154 hours, the Sunderland aircraft returned and reported six cruisers and eight destroyers bearing 330°, range 30 nautical miles from HMS Renown. Her report unfortunately did not give course and speed of the enemy and she disappeared from sight before these could be obtained. It appeared now that one of the enemy forces was further to the west than previously thought and might be in a position to outflank the main force and attack HMS Ark Royal and the convoy. Course was therefore altered to the north in order to avoid getting to far to the eastward.

Vice-Admiral Somerville’s appreciation of the situation at noon, 27 November 1940.

The prospects of bringing the enemy into action seemed favourable. The composition of the enemy force was still not definitely established but there did not appear to be more than two battleships with them. The British had effected their concentration of which the enemy seemed to be unaware, since no shadowing aircraft had been sighted or detected by RD/F. The speed of the enemy was reported as being 14 to 18 knots. The sun was immediately behind the British forces, giving them the advantage of light and if the nearest reported position of the enemy was correct there seemed every possibility of bringing off a simultaneous surface and torpedo bombers attack, providing that the enemy did not retire immediately at high speed. Vice-Admiral Somerville’s intentions were; To drive off the enemy from any position from which he could attack the convoy and to except some risk to the convoy providing there was a reasonable prospect of sinking one or more of the enemy battleships. To achieve the second of them he considered that the speed of the enemy would have to be reduced to 20 knots or less by torpedo bombers attacks and that the enemy battleships could be attacked by HMS Renown and HMS Ramillies in concert.

Contact with the enemy.

At 1207/27, HMS Renown developed a hot bearing on one shaft which limited her speed to 27.5 knots. At the same time puffs of smoke were observed on the horizon bearing 006°, and the cruisers of the van sighted masts between 006° and 346°. At 1213 hours a signal came in from HMS Ark Royal reporting the composition of the enemy as two battleships, six cruisers accompanied by destroyers. The British cruisers in the van by this time had formed a line of bearing 075° to 255° in the sequence from west to east, HMS Sheffield, HMS Southampton, HMS Newcastle, HMS Manchester, HMS Berwick.

The nine destroyers were stationed five miles bearing 040° from HMS Renown in order to be placed favourably to counter-attack any destroyers attempting a torpedo attack on HMS Renown or HMS Ramillies.

The situation as seen by the cruisers immediately before the action commenced was as follows. Between the bearings of 340° to 350° three enemy cruisers and some destroyers were visible at a range of about 11 nautical miles. These were steering a northerly course. This force will be referred to as ‘the Western Group’. A second group of cruisers, also accompanied by destroyers, which will be referred to as the ‘Eastern Group’ bore between 003° and 013°. This group was further away and steering approximately 100°.

The action

At 1220/27 the enemy cruisers in the ‘Western Group’ opened fire, and the British advanced forces immediately replied. The enemy’s first salvo fell close to HMS Manchester. As soon as fire was opened by the British cruisers, the Italians made smoke and retired on courses varying between north-west and north-east. Behind their smoke screen they seemed to be making large and frequent alterations of course.

At 1224 hours HMS Renown opened fire at the right hand ship in the ‘Western Group’ which was identified as a Zara-class heavy cruiser. Range was 26500 yards. After six salvoes, the target was lost in smoke. HMS Ramillies also fired two salvoes at maximum elevation to test the range but both fell short. She then dropped astern in the wake of HMS Renown and tried to follow at her best speed, 20.7 knots, throughout the action.

Just before opening fire HMS Renown had sighted two ships which were not making smoke, bearing 020° at extreme visibility. These were thought at first to be the Italian battleships but later turned out to be cruisers of the ‘Eastern Group’. On losing her first target HMS Renown altered course to starboard to close these supposed battleships and to bring the cruisers of the ‘Western Group’ broader on the bow. She had hardly done so when the centre ship of the latter group appeared momentarily through the smoke and was given two salvoes. Again course was altered to open ‘A’ arcs on the left hand ship, at which eight salvoes were fired before she too disappeared in the smoke at 1245 hours. At this moment two large ships steering westward emerged from the smoke cloud but before fire was opened these ships were identified as French liners.

The enemy by this time was on the run and had passed outside the range of our capital ships although at 1311 hours, HMS Renown fired two ranging salvoes at two ships of the ‘Eastern Group’ but both fell short. Meanwhile the British cruisers had been hotly engaged at ranges varying between 23000 and 16000 yards. Many straddles were obtained, but smoke rendered spotting and observation very difficult.

HMS Manchester, HMS Sheffield and HMS Newcastle all opened fire on the right-hand ship of the ‘Western Group’. HMS Berwick engaged the left-hand ship of the same group and HMS Southampton engaged the left-hand ship of the ‘Eastern Group’. HMS Manchester and HMS Sheffield continued to fire at the same ship for about 20 minutes (until 1236 and 1240 hours respectively) but HMS Newcastle shifted target to the ship already engaged by HMS Berwick after 18 salvoes. HMS Southampton, after 5 salvoes shifted target to a destroyer which was seen to be hit. At least one other destroyer is believed to have been hit during this phase and two hits by a large caliber shell on a cruiser were observed by HMS Faulknor at 1227 and HMS Newcastle at 1233 hours.

The enemy’s fire was accurate during the initial stages but when fully engaged it deteriorated rapidly and the spread became ragged. Their rate of fire was described as extremely slow. The only casualties on the British side occurred in HMS Berwick when at 1222 hours she received a hit from an 8” shell which put ‘Y’ turret out of action. HMS Manchester was straddled several times but despite being under continuous fire from 1221 to 1300 hours escaped unscatched. Her passengers were quite excited about having been in a sea battle.

At 1245 hours the cruisers altered course to 090° to prevent the enemy from working round ahead to attack the convoy. This brought the relative beating of the ‘Eastern Group’ to Red 40° and HMS Manchester once more engaged the left-hand ship. Five minutes later a further alteration of course to the southward was made to counter what appeared to be an attempt by the enemy to ‘cross the T’ of the cruisers. The enemy however at once resumed their north-easterly course and Vice-Admiral Holland led back to 070° at 1256 hours and 030° at 1258 hours. The rear ship of the enemy line was heavily on fire aft and she appeared to loose speed. But at 1259 hours picked up again and drew away with her consorts.

At 1301 hours the masts of a fresh enemy unit steering to the south-west were seen at extreme visibility right ahead of HMS Manchester. It bore 045° and two minutes later two battleships were identified in it. Their presence was quickly corroborated by large splashes which commenced to fall near HMS Manchester and HMS Berwick and these ships were reported to Vice-Admiral Somerville. The end on approach resulted in the range decreasing very rapidly and at 1305 hours Vice-Admiral Holland turned to cruisers to 120° with the dual purpose of working round the flank of the battleships and closing the gap to HMS Renown. The enemy battleships were not prepared to close and altered course to the north-eastward, presumably to join their 8” cruisers. Vice-Admiral Holland therefore altered course to 090° at 1308 hours and shortly afterwards to 050°. The enemy were by now rapidly running out of range and ten minutes later the action came to an end.

First attack by the torpedo bombers from HMS Ark Royal

Meanwhile a torpedo bomber striking force consisting of 11 Swordfish of no. 810 Squadron had been flown off from HMS Ark Royal at 1130 hours with orders to attack the Italian battleships. At 1216 hours they sighted two battleships and altered course as to approach them from the direction of the sun. The ships were identified as one Littorio-class and one Cavour-class. They were screened by seven destroyers. Enemy course was easterly at a speed of 18 knots. The leading battleship (Littorio-class) was selected as the target and all torpedoes were dropped inside the destroyer screen at ranges of 700 to 800 yards. One hit was observed abaft the after funnel and another explosion was seen just astern of the target. Yet another explosion was seen ahead of the Cavour-class. No other hits were seen. All aircraft returned safely to HMS Ark Royal.

Vice-Admiral Somerville’s Appreciation at 1315/27.

At 1315/27 firing had practically ceased owning to the enemy drawing out of range. The heavy smoke made by the Italians during the chase had prevented accurate fire, and so far as was known, no serious damage was inflicted on them. The torpedo bomber striking force from HMS Ark Royal had attacked but no report had been received yet but it seemed evident that the speed of the enemy had not been materially reduced.

The British forces were meanwhile rapidly closing the enemy coast. The main object of the whole operation was the safe passage of the convoy. The main enemy units had been driven off far enough that they could no longer interfere with it. It was also important to provide additional AA protection to the convoy against enemy air attack at dusk and in order to reach the convoy in time to do this course had to be set for it before 1400 hours so it was decided to break off the chase.

The chase broken off and further attacks by aircraft from HMS Ark Royal.

Around 1345/27, a damaged enemy cruiser was reported, Vice-Admiral Somerville considered sending HMS Berwick and HMS Newcastle north to finish this ship off. As these two cruisers also needed a cover/support force this idea was quickly abandoned. HMS Ark Royal was ordered to attack this cruiser with aircraft. A second torpedo bomber squadron was about to take off and Skua dive bombers were also being armed. Capt. Holland of the Ark Royal intended to attack the battleships again with the torpedo bombers and sent out the dive bombers to attack the damaged cruiser.

The torpedo bomber force of 9 Swordfish was flown off at 1415 hours. The Squadron Leader was given the enemy battleships as his objective, but with the full liberty to change it to his discretion, as he alone would be in a position to judge the possibility or otherwise achieving a successful attack.

The aircraft sighted three cruisers escorted by four destroyers about 12 nautical miles off the south-east coast of Sardinia, steering to the eastward at high speed. Some 8 nautical miles ahead of these cruisers were the two battleships escorted by about ten destroyers. There was a total absence of cloud cover, and it was considered essential to attack from the direction of the sun, if any degree of surprise were to be achieved. As any attempt, however, to gain such a position with regard to the battleships would inevitably have led to the striking force being sighted by the cruisers it was decided to attack the latter.

The attack was carried out at 1520/27 and was not sighted by the enemy until very late, only two salvoes being fired against the aircraft before the first torpedo was dropped. As the first aircraft reached the dropping position, the cruisers turned together to starboard causing several of the following Swordfish who had already committed to their drop to miss their targets. One hit was claimed on the rear cruiser and a possible one on the leading cruiser. Two Swordfish were hit by shrapnel from enemy AA fire but air aircraft returned safely to HMS Ark Royal.

A striking force of 7 Skua’s had meanwhile been flown off at 1500 hours. They failed to locate the reported damaged cruiser but reported to have carried out an attack on three light cruisers steering north of the south-west corner of Sardinia. Two near misses may have caused some damage to the rear ship. On the way back to HMS Ark Royal they encountered and shot down an Italian RO 43 reconnaissance aircraft from the battleship Vittorio Venoto.

Enemy air attacks on British Forces.

While these British flying operations were taking place Vice-Admiral Somerville had been steering to the southward in accordance with his decision to close the convoy. HMS Ark Royal had lost sight of HMS Renown to the north-eastward about 1250 hours, but since the receipt of the signal ordering the retirement of the British forces, Captain Holland had been making good a course of 090°, so far as his flying operations permitted, in order to rejoin the Flag. The first RD/F indications of the presence of enemy aircraft were received in HMS Renown at 1407 hours. Shortly afterwards bomb splashes were seen on the horizon when the Italian aircraft were attacked by Fulmars from the Ark Royal and several machines jettisoned their bombs. Ten enemy aircraft were then seen to be coming in and they eventually dropped their bombs well clear of the heavy ships but close to the screening destroyers.

Two further attacks were made around 1645/27 when two groups of five aircraft each concentrated on HMS Ark Royal, which by that time was in company with the Fleet, but owning to flying operations, not actually in the line. Apart from a few bombs being jettisoned again as a result of the interception by the Fulmar fighters, the high level bombing performed from a height of 13000 feet was most accurate. Some 30 bombs fell near HMS Ark Royal, two at least within 10 yards, and she was completely obscured by splashes.

About 1,5 minutes after this attack a stick of bombs dropped by four Caproni bombers, which had not been seen during the previous attack, missed HMS Ark Royal by a very narrow margin. HMS Ark Royal fortunately suffered no damage.

The British ships sighted the convoy at 1700/27 and proceeded to join it for passage to the Sicilian narrows.

The Battle of Cape Spartivento from the Italian side

At noon on 26 November 1940 the Italian had received reports that British forces had left Gibraltar and Alexandria the day before. The Italians then went to sea from Naples and Messina in three forces;

From Naples.
Battleships Vittorio Veneto and Giulio Cesare, escorted by the 13th Destroyer Flotilla made up of the Granatiere, Fuciliere, Bersagliere and Alpino and the 7th Destroyer Flotilla made up of the Freccia, Saetta, Dardo.
Heavy cruisers from the 1st Cruiser Division Pola, Fiume and Gorizia) escorted by the 9th Destroyer Flotilla made up of Vittorio Alfieri, Alfredo Oriani, Giosuè Carducci and Vincenzo Gioberti.

From Messina.
Heavy cruisers from the 3rd Cruiser Division Trieste, Trento and Bolzano and the 12th Destroyer Flotilla made up of the Lanciere, Ascari, Carabiniere and Libeccio. This last destroyer had temporarily replaced the Carabinieri.

These forces were to intercept the British forces coming from Gibraltar.

From Trapani, Sicily, torpedo-boats from the 10th Torpedo-boat Flotilla, Vega, Sagittario, Alcione and Sirio, were ordered to patrol in the Sicily narrows to scout for possible British forces proceeding westwards from the Eastern Meditarranean. Sirio actually made an unobserved torpedo attack shortly after midnight (during the night of 26/27 November) on a group of seven enemy warships (Force ‘D’).

By 1015/27 the Italian forces were in the Sardinia-Sicily Channel. The only information available to the Italian Commander-in-Chief (Admiral Campioni in the Vittorio Veneto) up to that moment was that Force H had left Gibraltar westwards on the 25th and on the same day a force had also left Alexandria westwards. He assumed correctly that the force attacked by the torpedo-boat Sirio was en-route to rendez-vous with Force H.

Then at 1015 hours he received an aircraft report (from an aircraft catapulted by the heavy cruiser Bolzano) that at 0945/27 it had sighted a group of enemy warships comprising one battleship, two light cruisers and four destroyers 20 nautical miles north of Cape de Fer. Enemy course was 090°. These were also seven warships, the same number as reported by torpedo-boat Sirio the night before but these were too far to the West to be the same ships.

Then at 1144 hours he received another aircraft report (from an aircraft catapulted by the heavy cruiser Gorizia) that confirmed the position given at 1015 hours. It did not report the two cruisers however but by that time these had split from HMS Renown and had gone ahead.

Acting on the report of the aircraft of the Bolzano the Italian Admiral turned to course 135° at 1128/27. Both divisions of cruisers also turned round. He then thought to be making for an encounter with HMS Renown and two cruisers supported by a few destroyers. The 1144/27 report from the aircraft of the Gorizia confirmed him in this belief. The Italian admiral was unaware of the fact that by that time Force ‘D’ had already joined with the other British forces. He was also unaware that HMS Ark Royal was present although he was aware of the fact that she had left Gibraltar westwards with the other ships two days before.

The Italian admiral was very careful, after the attack on Taranto only two battleships were operational and he could not afford any further reduction in strength of the capital ships. He therefore decided that his forces were not to come in action but before he could sent out a signal regarding this his cruiser were already in action with the British. They were ordered to break off the action and retire at high speed.

The Italians were then attacked by aircraft from the Ark Royal but despite the claim by the British for hits none were actually obtained. The Italians claimed to have shot down two aircraft but this also was not the case.

At 1235/27, the destroyer Lanciere was hit by a 6” shell in the after engine room. This shell is thought to have been originated from HMS Southampton. She continued at 23 knots on her forward engines but at 1240 hours another shell struck her amidships on the port side, penetrating a petrol tank. Then a third shell struck her on the starboard side without exploding and without penetrating the hull. Around 1300 hours she came to a stop with no water in her boilers, and asked for a tow. Ater about one hour her boilers were relit (seawater being used to feed them) and her forward engines were restarted. At 1440 hours, the Ascari took her in tow and both made for Cagliari at 7 knots. The 3rd Cruiser Division was ordered to protect the retreat of these destroyers.

A force of 10 bombers and 5 fighters had taken off at 1330 hours. These were driven off but the Fulmars from HMS Ark Royal. Almost two hours later, at 1520 hours a second force of 20 bombers took off. It were these aircraft that attacked and almost hit HMS Ark Royal.

Convoy operations in the Eastern Mediterranean and the subsequent movements of the ‘Collar’ convoy.

Before and during operation Collar there were also convoy movements in the Eastern Mediterranean going on. [See also the event for 23 November 1940 called ‘Operation MB 9’ for the events in the Eastern Mediterranean.]

After passing through the Sicilian narrows the Clan Forbes and Clan Fraser went to Malta escorted by HMS Hotspur and HMS Decoy. Both destroyers were to repair and refit at Malta. The New Zealand Star proceeded to Suda Bay escorted by HMS Defender and HMS Hereward and covered part of the way by HMS Manchester and HMS Southampton. (31)

29 Nov 1940

Around 1430A/29, HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Berwick (Capt. G.L. Warren, RN), HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN), HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, DSC, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN) and HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN) returned from Gibraltar from operation Collar. One hour later they were followed by HMS Ramillies (Capt. A.D. Read, RN), HMS Ark Royal (Capt. C.S. Holland, RN), HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN), HMS Newcastle (Capt. E.A. Aylmer, DSC, RN), HMS Duncan (Capt. A.D.B. James, RN), HMS Wishart (Cdr. E.T. Cooper, RN), HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St.J. Morgan, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) and HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN). (29)

4 Dec 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar for Bermuda to rejoin the America and West Indies Station. (32)

13 Dec 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Bermuda from Gibraltar. (32)

16 Dec 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Bermuda for Kingston, Jamaica. (32)

20 Dec 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Kingston, Jamaica from Bermuda. (32)

28 Dec 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Kingston, Jamaica for Nassau, Bahamas. (32)

30 Dec 1940
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Nassau, Bahamas from Kingston, Jamaica. (32)

2 Jan 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Nassau for Belize. (33)

5 Jan 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Belize from Nassau. (33)

7 Jan 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Belize for Georgetown, Grand Cayman Island. (33)

8 Jan 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Georgetown, Grand Cayman Island from Belize. (33)

9 Jan 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Georgetown, Grand Cayman Island for Kingston, Jamaica. (33)

10 Jan 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) srrived at Kingston, Jamaica from Georgetown, Grand Cayman Island. (33)

15 Jan 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Kingston, Jamaica to patrol north of Mona and Sombrero passages to guard the shipping routes between Bermuda and the Carribean. (34)

22 Jan 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Bermuda from patrol. (35)

27 Jan 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) is docked in the floating dock at Bermuda. (33)

30 Jan 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) is undocked. (33)

9 Feb 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Bermuda to patrol within 200 miles from position 25°00'N, 65°00'W to cover the independent shipping routes. (36)

13 Feb 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Kingston, Jamaica from patrol. (37)

16 Feb 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Kingston, Jamaica to conduct exercises with HMS Caradoc (Capt. J.S. Bethell, RN) coming towards from Aruba. They were to proceed to Kingston, Jamaica on completion of these exercises. (36)

17 Feb 1941
Around 0845R/17, HMS Caradoc (Capt. J.S. Bethell, RN) and HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) made rendezvous in approximate position 15°48'N, 73°54'E. Exercises were then commenced and continued on until the cruisers arrived at Kingston, Jamaica around 0800R/19. (38)

22 Feb 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Kingston, Jamaica for a patrol in the Atlantic to search for a suspected German raider. She is to end her patrol at Port of Spain, Trinidad. (39)

3 Mar 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Port of Spain, Trinidad from patrol. (40)

11 Mar 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Trinidad to patrol in the Atlantic to the south-east of the Caribbean to provide cover for several important individually routed merchant ships passing through the area. (41)

18 Mar 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) returned to Trinidad from patrol. (41)

21 Mar 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Trinidad to again patrol in the Atlantic to the south-east of the Caribbean. (40)

26 Mar 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) returned to Trinidad from patrol. (41)

28 Mar 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Port of Spain, Trinidad for Bermuda. (40)

1 Apr 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Bermuda from Trinidad.

[No log for HMS Despatch is available for the month of April 1941, so some datails for this month might be missing.] (42)

5 Apr 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Bermuda to patrol in the Atlantic within 200 miles from position 25°00'N, 50°00'W. This was to try to intercept German supply vessels and possible the German raider that had sunk the armed merchant cruiser HMS Voltaire (A/Capt.(Retd.) J.A.P. Blackburn, DSC, RN) the day before. (43)

22 Apr 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Bermuda from patrol. During her patrol she fuelled at sea (once) from the chartered tanker San Adolfo (7365 GRT, 1935).

HMS Despatch was then taken in hand for refit at the Dockyard. (42)

1 May 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) is docked in the floating dock at Bermuda. (44)

16 May 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) is undocked. (44)

16 Jun 1941
With her refit completed, HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN), conducted gunnery exercises off Bermuda during 16 and 17 June 1941.

In the afternoon of the 17th, a Walrus aircraft crashed off Bermuda and HMS Despatch conducted a search for survivors but none were find. The US submarine USS S-32 (Lt. C.E. Duke, USN) recovered one body which she transferred to HMS Despatch. (45)

19 Jun 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Bermuda to patrol in the mid-Atlantic within 150 miles from position 25°00'N, 40°00'W. (45)

29 Jun 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Port of Spain, Trinidad from patrol. (45)

3 Jul 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) proceeded from Trinidad to St. Lucia. (46)

6 Jul 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed St. Lucia to patrol east of Martinique. (46)

8 Jul 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) and HMCS Prince David (Cdr. K.F. Adams, RCN) both arrived at St. Lucia from patrol. (46)

9 Jul 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Port of Spain, Trinidad from St. Lucia having departed from there on the 8th. (47)

11 Jul 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Port of Spain, Trinidad for Bermuda. (46)

15 Jul 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Bermuda from Port of Spain, Trinidad. (46)

21 Jul 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Bermuda to conduct a search east of Bermuda near position 32°23'N, 57°58'W where strange lights / distress signals were reported. (46)

23 Jul 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) returned to Bermuda after an unsuccessful search. (46)

25 Jul 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Bermuda to make rendezvous with the RFA tanker Bishopdale (8406 GRT, built 1937) at 1600Z/27 in position 30°00'N, 52°00'W.

They were then to patrol near position 25°00'N, 40°00'W. The object for the patrol was to intercept German supply vessels.

They were ordered to arrive at Bermuda on 15 August. (46)

1 Aug 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) fuelled from the RFA tanker Bishopdale (8406 GRT, built 1937) in approximate position 33°05'N, 40°40'W. (48)

6 Aug 1941
In the morning, HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN), fuelled from the RFA tanker Bishopdale (8406 GRT, built 1937) in approximate position 28°50'N, 39°40'W. (48)

9 Aug 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) and the RFA tanker Bishopdale (8406 GRT, built 1937) are ordered to proceed towards the Amazon estuary to try to intercept a German blockade breaker that had sailed from there. (49)

10 Aug 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) topped of with fuel from the RFA tanker Bishopdale (8406 GRT, built 1937) in approximate position 24°05'N, 42°15'W. (48)

15 Aug 1941
After the RFA tanker Bishopdale (8406 GRT, built 1937) had reported a suspicious vessel at 2000/14 in position 10°10'N, 43°43'W, the light cruiser HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) closed the position and early in the evening she closed the suspicious vessel which turned out to be the German merchant vessel Norderney (3667 GRT, built 1921) which they had been looking for. On being closed the German crew scuttled their ship. The crew was taken prisoner by HMS Despatch. While alongside the German vessel HMS Despatch sustained some minor hull damage.

Shortly afterwards the armed merchant cruiser HMS Pretoria Castle (A/Capt.(Retd.) A.V. Hemming, RN), which had also been searching in the area for the German ship, arrived on the scene. She eventually sank the German vessel with gunfire in position 12°14'N, 43°24'W. (50)

18 Aug 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Trinidad from patrol. (48)

19 Aug 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Port of Spain, Trinidad for Kingston, Jamaica. (48)

21 Aug 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Port of Spain, Trinidad for Kingston, Jamaica. Here the German prisoners were landed. (49)

23 Aug 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Kingston, Jamaica for patrol. She was recalled shortly afterwards though as she was to proceed to the Pacific as a German raider was thought to be operating near the Galapagos Islands. (49)

24 Aug 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Kingston, Jamaica for the Pacific. (48)

26 Aug 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) transited the Panama Canal westbound. (48)

1 Sep 1941
In the early evening, the light cruiser HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) and the armed merchant cruiser HMCS Prince Henry (Capt. R.I. Agnew, OBE, RCN) made rendezvous to the west of the Galapagos Islands in approximate position 00°06'S, 94°56'W.

They were to patrol the area in close company to search for a suspected enemy raider that had been operating in the area. (48)

5 Sep 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Talara, Peru to fuel.

HMCS Prince Henry (Capt. R.I. Agnew, OBE, RCN), had parted company with HMS Despatch in the early evening of the previous day. (51)

6 Sep 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Talara, Peru.

Shortly after departure, HMCS Prince Henry (Capt. R.I. Agnew, OBE, RCN), was encountered which then proceeded to Talara to refuel. (51)

8 Sep 1941
HMCS Prince Henry (Capt. R.I. Agnew, OBE, RCN) rejoined HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN).

They however soon parted company again, HMS Despatch then set course to patrol in the Galapagos Islands area while HMCS Prince Henry set course to the Panama Canal. (52)

20 Sep 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Manzanillo, Mexico from patrol. (51)

21 Sep 1941
Having fuelled, HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN), departed Manzanillo, Mexico for Balboa, Panama Canal Zone. (52)

25 Sep 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Balboa, Panama Canal Zone. (52)

26 Sep 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) transited the Panama Canal eastbound and then set course for Kingston, Jamaica. (52)

28 Sep 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Kingston, Jamaica from the Pacific. (52)

30 Sep 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Kingston, Jamaica for Bermuda. (52)

3 Oct 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Bermuda from Kingston, Jamaica. At Bermuda she was taken in hand by the Dockyard for repairs to some defects. (52)

21 Oct 1941
HMS Despatch (Capt. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral C.E. Kennedy-Purvis, KCB, RN) departed Bermuda for Kingston, Jamaica. (53)

24 Oct 1941
HMS Despatch (Capt. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral C.E. Kennedy-Purvis, KCB, RN) arrived at Kingston, Jamaica from Bermuda. (53)

26 Oct 1941
HMS Despatch (Capt. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral C.E. Kennedy-Purvis, KCB, RN) departed Kingston, Jamaica to return to Bermuda. (53)

29 Oct 1941
HMS Despatch (Capt. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral C.E. Kennedy-Purvis, KCB, RN) arrived at Bermuda from Kingston, Jamaica. (53)

6 Nov 1941
During 6/7 November 1941, HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN), conducted gunnery exercises off Bermuda. These included night exercises. (54)

7 Nov 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Bermuda for Trinidad via the Sombrero Passage. (55)

11 Nov 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Port of Spain, Trinidad. (54)

16 Nov 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Port of Spain, Trinidad to visit the following islands; St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Kitts and St. Thomas. She was to arrive at Bermuda on 23 November. (55)

17 Nov 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at St. Lucia. (54)

18 Nov 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed St. Lucia for Antigua. (54)

19 Nov 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Antigua from St. Lucia. (54)

20 Nov 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) proceeded from Antigua to St. Kitts.

She departed St. Kitts for St. Thomas later the same day. (54)

21 Nov 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at St. Thomas.

She departed for Bermuda later the same day. (54)

23 Nov 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Bermuda. (54)

25 Nov 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Bermuda to patrol an area between latitudes 20°N, 30°N and longtitudes 40°W and 50°W. (55)

5 Dec 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) returned to Bermuda from patrol. (56)

9 Dec 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Bermuda for Kingston, Jamaica.

First night encounter exercises were carried out off Bermuda with HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN). (57)

13 Dec 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Kingston, Jamaica from Bermuda.

After fuelling she departed for the Pacific later the same day. (58)

15 Dec 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) transited the Panama Canal westbound and arrived at Balboa where she joined the US South-East Pacific Force. (56)

20 Dec 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Balboa to patrol off the Galapagos Islands. (56)

29 Dec 1941
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) returned to Balboa, Panama Canal Zone from patrol. (56)

2 Jan 1942
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Balboa to patrol off the Galapagos Islands. (59)

12 Jan 1942
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Talara, Peru for fuel and stores. (59)

13 Jan 1942
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Talara, Peru to resume her patrol. (59)

20 Jan 1942
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Balboa, Panama Canal Zone from patrol. (59)

21 Jan 1942
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) transited the Panama Canal eastbound and then set course for Bermuda. (59)

25 Jan 1942
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Bermuda. (60)

26 Jan 1942
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) is docked in the floating dock at Bermuda. (60)

5 Feb 1942
HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) is undocked. (61)

11 Feb 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Bermuda and the America and West Indies Station to proceed to Freetown (but first via the Sombrero Passage to Trinidad) and join the South Atlantic Station.

On leaving the Station Commodore Douglas-Pennant struck his broad pendant and reverted back to the rank of Captain. (62)

15 Feb 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Port of Spain, Trinidad. (62)

17 Feb 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Port of Spain, Trinidad for Freetown. (61)

27 Feb 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Freetown. (61)

2 Mar 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Freetown for Lagos. (63)

6 Mar 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Lagos from Freetown. (63)

10 Mar 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Logos for Freetown. (63)

13 Mar 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Freetown from Lagos. (63)

17 Mar 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Freetown for Gibraltar. She was to proceed to the U.K. to refit. Due to engine defects maximum speed was limited to 20 knots. (63)

22 Mar 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Gibraltar from Freetown. (63)

23 Mar 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar for Greenock. (63)

28 Mar 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Greenock. (63)

29 Mar 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) departed Greenock for Sheerness. (63)

31 Mar 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) arrived at Sheerness from Greenock. (63)

2 Apr 1942
After de-ammunitioning, HMS Despatch (Capt. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN), proceeded from Sheerness to the Chatham Dockyard where she was taken in hand for refit. (64)

10 Apr 1942
HMS Despatch (Cdr.(Retd.) C. Appleton, RN) is docked in No.5 Dock at the Chatham Dockyard. The dock is pumped dry the following day.

[As no logs are available for June and July 1942 some details for these month will be missing.] (64)

23 Jul 1942
With her refit completed, HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) departed Sheerness for Rosyth. (65)

24 Jul 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Rosyth from Sheerness. (65)

25 Jul 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) departed Rosyth for Scapa Flow. She returned however later the same day with engine trouble. (65)

29 Jul 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) proceeded from Rosyth to the Tyne to have the engine defects taken care off. (65)

1 Aug 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) is docked in No.4 Dock at the Middle Docks & Engineering Company Ltd. at South Shields. (66)

21 Aug 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) is undocked at South Shields and is then towed to North Shields. (66)

26 Aug 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) proceeded from North Shields to Rosyth. (66)

27 Aug 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) proceeded from Rosyth to Scapa Flow to begin a post-refit work-up period.

[As no logs are available for September and October 1942 some details for these months will be missing.] (66)

14 Sep 1942
During 14/15 September 1942, HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) and HMS Durban (Capt. P.G.L. Cazalet, DSC, RN), conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. These included night exercises. (67)

17 Sep 1942
HMS Sussex (Capt. W.Y.La R. Beverley, RN), HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN) and HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. (68)

22 Sep 1942
During 22/23 September 1942, HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) and HMS Durban (Capt. P.G.L. Cazalet, DSC, RN), conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. These included night exercises. (67)

26 Sep 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) and HMS Durban (Capt. G.F. Stevens-Guille, DSO, OBE, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Liverpool. (69)

27 Sep 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) and HMS Durban (Capt. G.F. Stevens-Guille, DSO, OBE, RN) arrived at Liverpool. (70)

30 Sep 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) and HMS Durban (Capt. G.F. Stevens-Guille, DSO, OBE, RN) departed Liverpool with part of convoy WS 23. The sailing of the convoy was however delayed and the ships anchored off Belfast the following day. (71)

4 Oct 1942

Convoy WS 23.

This convoy was formed off Oversay on 5 October 1942.

It consisted of the following transports / troopships; Capetown Castle (British, 27002 GRT, built 1938), Empress of Russia (British, 16810 GRT, built 1913), Highland Monarch (British, 14139 GRT, built 1928), Kina II (British, 9823 GRT, built 1939), Moreton Bay (British, 14193 GRT, built 1921), Port Jackson (British, 9687 GRT, built 1937), Silverandal (British, 6770 GRT, built 1930) and Straat Malakka (Dutch, 439 GRT, built 1939).

Initial escort consisted of the light cruisers HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN), HMS Durban (Capt. G.F. Stevens-Guille, DSO and Bar, OBE, RN), armed merchant cruiser Queen of Bermuda (A/Capt.(Retd.) A.D. Cochrane, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Beagle (Cdr. R.C. Medley, RN), HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Bicester (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN), HMS Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN), HMS Zetland (Lt. J.V. Wilkinson, RN) and RHS Kanaris.

At 2200Z/6, HMS Durban parted company with the convoy to proceed to Ponta Delgada to fuel.

At 1850Z/8, HMS Beagle parted company with the convoy to return to the UK. HMS Zetland had a leaking Asdic dome and was apparently also detached on the 8th to return to the UK for a docking and repairs.

At 1000Z/9, HMS Puckeridge arrived at Ponta Delgada to refuel. She departed to rejoin the convoy at 1345Z/9. RHS Kanaris arrived at 1100Z/9 and departed again at 1430Z/9. [It is currently not known to us when they had left the convoy to proceed to Ponta Delgada.]

At 1545Z/9, HMS Durban rejoined the convoy. HMS Despatch was then detached to fuel at Ponta Delgada.

At 1900Z/9, HMS Puckeridge and RHS Kanaris rejoined the convoy.

At 0100Z/10, HMS Wrestler and HMS Bicester parted company with the convoy to fuel at Ponta Delgada after which they were to return to the UK.

At 0810/Z/13, HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN) joined the convoy shorly afterwards followed by HMS Velox (Lt. G.B. Barstow, RN).

On 16 October 1942 the convoy arrived at Freetown escorted by HMS Despatch, HMS Durban, HMS Queen of Bermuda, HMS Antelope, HMS Velox, HMS Puckeridge and RHS Kanaris.

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The convoy departed Freetown for Durban on 20 October 1942.

The same ships made up the convoy plus the merchant vessels Hai Lee (Norwegian, 3616 GRT, built 1934) and Tamesis (Norwegian, 7256 GRT, built 1939).

On departure from Freetown the convoy escort was made up of the light cruisers HMS Despatch, HMS Durban, armed merchant cruiser HMS Carthage (A/Capt.(Retd.) W.V.H. Harris, DSC, MVO, RN), escort destroyers HMS Avon Vale (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN), RHS Kanaris, sloop HMS Milford (Cdr.(Retd.) the Hon. V.M. Wyndham-Quin, RN) and the corvette HMS Tamarisk (Lt. S. Ayles, RNR).

At 1020A/23, HMS Avon Vale parted company. HMS Southern Gem (T/Lt. D.C. Hayes, RNVR) had joined just before. She had sailed from Takoradi on the 22nd.

At 1842A/23, HMS Durban parted company with the convoy to proceed to Takoradi to repair a defect. She arrived at Takoradi around 0745/24 and departed again around 0230A/25. She rejoined the convoy around 0945A/27.

Also detached on 23 October were the two Norwegian merchant vessels and the corvette HMS Tamarisk. These were also to proceed to Takoradi.

The corvette HMS Amaranthus (T/Lt. W.S. Thomson, RNR) joined on the 25th coming from Ponte Noire. After she joined HMS Southern Gem was detached to Ponte Noire due to engine trouble.

On the 26th, HMS Amaranthus parted company.

On 30 October the destroyer HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN) and the corvettes HMS Rockrose (Lt. E.J. Binfield, DSC, RNR) and HMS Thyme (Lt. H. Roach, RNR) joined the convoy. These ships had sailed from Walvis Bay, the corvettes at 0600Z/29 and HMAS Norman at 2000Z/29. HMAS Norman joined the convoy around 1300B/30 and the corvettes around 1530B/30.

At 2100B/30, HMS Durban, HMS Despatch and HMS Milford were detached to fuel at Walvis Bay where they arrived around 0840/30. HMS Durban departed Walvis Bay aroud 1845B/31 and she rejoined the convoy around 1800B/1

On 2 November the transport / troopship Rimutaka (British, 16576 GRT, built 1923) joined the convoy coming from Capetown.

At 1330C/2, the destroyer HMS Express (Lt.Cdr. F.J. Cartwright, RN) and escort destroyer HMS Catterick (Lt. A. Tyson, RN) joined coming from Simonstown.

Around 1545C/2, RHS Kanaris parted company to refuel at Simonstown. She rejoined the convoy around 0100C/3.

At 2215C/2, HMS Rockrose and HMS Thyme were detached to search for survivors from ships that had been torpedoed by German submarines.

At 1950C/4, HMS Express was detached to search for survivors from a ship that had been torpedoed by a German submarines.

At 0530C/5, the escort destroyer HMS Derwent (Cdr. R.H. Wright, DSC, RN) joined.

The convoy arrived at Durban in the early afternoon of 5 November escorted by HMS Durban, HMS Carthage, HMAS Norman, HMS Catterick, HMS Derwent and RHS Kanaris.

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The convoy departed Durban around noon on 9 November 1942, now made up of Capetown Castle, Empress of Russia, Highland Monarch, Kina II, Port Jackson, Silversandal and Straat Malakka.

On departure from Durban the convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Dauntless (Cdr.(Retd.) N.G. Leeper, RN), armed merchant cruiser HMS Carthage, destroyers HMAS Norman, HMS Inconstant (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN), escort destroyers HMS Blackmore (Lt. H.T. Harrel, RN), RHS Kanaris and the corvettes HMS Genista (Lt.Cdr. R.M. Pattinson, DSC, RNR) and HMS Jasmine (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) C.D.B. Coventry, RNR).

At 1700C/10, HMS Insconstant, HMS Genista and HMS Jasmine were detached.

At 1500D/11, HMS Dauntless, HMS Norman, HMS Blackmore and RHS Kanaris were detached.

At 1830D/11, the cruiser HMS Hawkins (Capt. G.A. French, RN) joined.

At 1600E/16, HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.D. Stephens, RN) joined and at 1230E/16, HMS Hawkins parted company with the convoy to proceed to Kilindini taking the Empress of Russia with her. They arrived at Kilindini around 1700D/18.

At 1800E/17, the convoy was split up into the ' Aden section ' and the ' Bombay section '.

The ' Aden section ' was made up of the Highland Monarch, Kina II, Port Jackson and the Straat Malakka. They were escorted by HMS Carthage and arrived at Aden around 1300C/21. They had earlier been joined by the destroyer RHS Panther around 0615/20.

The ' Bombay section ' was made up of the other transports escorted by HMS Mauritius. They arrived at Bombay around 1000FG/24 except for the Silversandal which had been detached on November 22nd to proceed to Karachi where she also arrived on the 24th. (72)

29 Oct 1942

Convoy WS 24

This convoy was formed off Oversay on 29 October 1942.

It was made up of the following (troop) transports; Arawa (British, 14462 GRT, built 1922), Athlone Castle (British, 25564 GRT, built 1936), Empress of Scotland (British, 26032 GRT, built 1930), Indochinois (British, 6966 GRT, built 1939), Largs Bay (British, 14182 GRT, built 1921), Striling Castle (British, 25550 GRT, built 1936) and Tamaroa (British, 12405 GRT, built 1922).

The American seaplane tender Barnegat (Cdr. J.A. Briggs, USN) was also with the convoy.

On forming up the convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Rotherham (Capt. F.S.W. de Winton, RN), HMS Onslow (Capt H.T. Armstrong, DSC, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Ewing, RN), HMS Oribi (Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Sardonyx (Lt.Cdr. A.F.C. Gray, RNR), HMS Skate (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) A.W. Preston, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Holcombe (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Pinchin, DSC, RN).

The convoy was to take an unusual route for a WS convoy. Due to the Allied landings in North Africa (Operation Torch) it was not thought wise to have another troop convoy passing through the same area as the convoys for this operations would be passing through. Therefore it was decided to sent the convoy southwards with a stopover at Bahia, Brasil instead of the usual stopover at Freetown.

The Liverpool section of the convoy made up of the Athlone Castle and Stirling Castle was late at the assembly point due to being delayed by fog. They and their escorts, HMS Sardonyx and HMS Skate only joined the main part of the convoy on 31 October. HMS Sardonyx and HMS Skate then parted company to proceed to Londonderry.

At 1430Z/31, in position 49°46'N, 21°17'W, HMS Onslow, on the port wing of the A/S screen, reported an A/S contact and shorly afterwards sighted a periscope. The convoy then carried out an emergency turn to starboard and HMS Rotherham joined HMS Onslow to hunt the U-boat. Contact was again obtained at 1443Z/31. The first depth charge attacks of both destroyers were probably reasonably accurate as the U-boat went very deep and remained there. A total of seven attacks were made in all by the two destroyers and about 1730Z/31 contact was lost. Both destroyers then carried out a search to regain contact but without success. HMS Rotherham then proceeded to rejoin the convoy leaving HMS Onslow in the area until after dark in case the U-boat should surface. The U-boat attacked was U-563 which sustained damage in the depth charge attacks.

At 0400Z/2, HMS Rotherham parted company with the convoy to proceed to fuel at Ponta Delgada, Azores, where she arrived around 1715Z/2. She departed again to rejoined the convoy at first light on 3rd November. On leaving Ponta Delgada HMS Holcombe was encountered to enter that port to fuel. She was not to rejoin the convoy but to proceed to Bathurst on completion of fuelling.

At 1355Z/2, in position 40°43'N, 25°10'W, USS Barnegat parted company to proceed to French Marocco to join the forces for Operation Torch.

At 1500Z/3, HMS Rotherham rejoined the convoy.

At 1530Z/3, in position 36°40'N, 28°40'W, the armed merchant cruiser Queen of Bermuda (A/Capt.(Retd.) A.D. Cochrane, DSO, RN) joined the convoy.

At 1700Z/3, HMS Onslow, HMS Offa and HMS Oribi parted company to proceed to Ponta Delgada to fuel. They too were not to rejoin the convoy.

Around 2100Z/7, in position 15°41'N, 30°56'W, the transport Indochinois started to drop back due to engine trouble.

At 0348Z/8, HMS Queen of Bermuda was detached to proceed ahead to search for the destroyer HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN) and A/S whaler HMS Southern Pride (T/Lt. F.A. Darrah, RNVR). This was done due to the convoy arriving late at the arranged rendezvous.

At 1230Z/8, in position 13°16'N, 29°26'W, the troop transport Tamaroa parted company with the convoy to proceed to Freetown taking HMS Southern Pride with her as escort. HMS Southern Pride had been sighted only half an hour before.

HMS Queen of Bermuda rejoined the convoy at 1930Z/8. HMS Ilex had not been sighted.

At 1120Z/9, HMS Queen of Bermuda was again detached but not to search for the Indochinois using her aircraft to do so. When 50 miles clear of the convoy HMS Queen of Bermuda reported the position, speed and course of the convoy also for the benefit of HMS Ilex which had still not joined the convoy.

At 1500Z/9, in position 08°24'N, 29°22'W, the destroyer Ilex finally managed to join the convoy.

At 0715Z/11, HMS Queen of Bermuda rejoined the convoy. Her Seafox plane had made contact with the Indochinois and had passed instructions to her to rejoin the convoy. Since then she was however not seen and did not rejoin the convoy.

At 1000Z/11, in position 00°14'S, 30°42'W, the light cruiser HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) joined the convoy.

On the 12th, HMS Ilex took in 60 tons of fuel from HMS Queen of Bermuda.

The convoy arrived at Bahia, Brazil on 15 November 1942.

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The convoy departed Bahia for South Africa at 1830Z/19.

It was still made up of the same transports, minus the Indochinois.

Escort on departure from Bahia was provided by the light cruiser HMS Despatch and the destroyers HMS Rotherham and HMS Ilex.

Armed merchant cruiser Queen of Bermuda departed Bahia at 2359Z/19 to overtake the convoy which she did during the forenoon of the 20th.

At 0900Z/23, HMS Ilex was detached to return to Bahia.

At 2000Z/23, HMS Despatch parted company with the convoy to proceed to Pernambuco (Recife).

At 0800Z/28, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Alcantara (A/Capt.(retd.) J.D. Harvey, RN) joined.

At 0930Z/29, the destroyer HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN) joined.

At 1350Z/30, in position 34°36'S, 17°40'E, a quantity of wreckage was passed and shortly afterwards survivors were seen clinging to broken boats and rafts. HMS Rotherham picked up seven of these while HMAS Norman picked up another eleven. They were the Master, Chief Officer, Chief Engineer and 15 men of the Greek merchant vessel Argo that had been torpedoed and sunk by the Italian submarine Ammiraglio Cagni in position 34°45'S, 17°42'E at 2025Z/29. HMAS Norman transferred the survivors she had picked up to HMS Rotherham.

At 1440Z/30, the corvettes HMS Rockrose (Lt. E.J. Binfield, DSC, RNR) and HMS Thyme (Lt. H. Roach, RNR) joined.

At 1520Z/30, the transport Indochinois rejoined the convoy as did her escort, the destroyer HMAS Nepal (Cdr. F.B. Morris, RAN).

At 1610Z/30, HMS Rotherham parted company with the convoy to proceed to fuel at Simonstown where she also landed the survivors of the Argo. She arrived at Simonstown at 1830Z/30.

HMS Thyme parted company with the convoy late in the morning of 1st, December to proceed to Simonstown.

HMS Rotherham rejoined the convoy at 1600Z/1 having departed Simonstown at 0415Z/1. HMS Rockrose then parted company to proceed to Simonstown.

The convoy arrived at Durban at 0500Z/4. HMS Alcantara had parted company at 0400Z/4 to proceed to Simonstown. (72)

1 Nov 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) departed Walvis Bay for Freetown. (73)

7 Nov 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Freetown from Walvis Bay. (73)

27 Nov 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Recife after convoy escort duty. (73)

2 Dec 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) departed Recife for Freetown. (74)

8 Dec 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Freetown from Recife. (74)

11 Dec 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) conducted D/G trials off Freetown. On completion of of which she departed for patrol in the South Atlantic. (74)

16 Dec 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) returned to Freetown from patrol. (74)

17 Dec 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) departed Freetown for Lagos. (74)

19 Dec 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Lagos from Freetown. (74)

24 Dec 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) departed Lagos for Freetown. (74)

27 Dec 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Freetown from Lagos. (74)

30 Dec 1942
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) departed Freetown for Pointe Noire. (74)

3 Jan 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Pointe Noire from Freetown. (75)

4 Jan 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) departed Pointe Noire to return to Freetown. (75)

8 Jan 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Freetown from Pointe Noire having provided distant cover for Convoy WS 25. (76)

13 Jan 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) departed Freetown for an anti-raidar / anti-blockade breaker patrol to the west of Freetown / south of the Cape Verde Islands. (77)

16 Jan 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Freetown from patrol. (75)

21 Jan 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) departed Freetown for Dakar. (76)

22 Jan 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Dakar from Freetown. (75)

29 Jan 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) departed Dakar to return to Freetown. (76)

30 Jan 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Freetown from Dakar.

[As no log is available for February 1943, some details for this month might be missing.] (76)

7 Feb 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) departed Freetown for an anti-blockade runner patrol in the mid-Atlantic. (78)

11 Feb 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Freetown from patrol. (65)

14 Feb 1943
The light cruiser HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) and the destroyers HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Farrington, RN) and HMS Redoubt (Lt.Cdr. N.E.G. Ropner, DSO, RN) departed Freetown for Bathurst. (78)

15 Feb 1943
The light cruiser HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) and the destroyers HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Farrington, RN) and HMS Redoubt (Lt.Cdr. N.E.G. Ropner, DSO, RN) arrived at Bathurst from Freetown.

At Bathurst the Commanding Officer of HMS Despatch passed intelligence information for an Anti blockade breaker patrol to the Commanding Officer of the French light cruiser Georges Leygues (Capt. L.M.J.A. Desprez). (78)

16 Feb 1943
The light cruiser HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) departed Bathurst to patrol east of the Cape Verde Islands together with the escort destroyer RHS Adrias (Cdr. I. Toumbas) which was coming from Freetown.

They were to intercept the Spanish merchant vessel Monte Naranco (5754 GRT, built 1920) and place an armed guard on board which was to take the ship to Gibraltar for inspection. It was suspected that two German naval ratings (ex Admiral Graf Spee) were on board carrying 6 kilos of platinum.

The Spanish ship was sighted in the afternoon of the 17th in position 13°46'N, 24°08'W. Course 035° and speed 12 knots.

HMS Despatch and RHS Adrias were informed and ordered to intercept which they did in the early afternoon of the 18th in position 14°42'N, 23°01'W. An armed guard was placed on board which was to take the ship to Gibraltar. RHS Adrias escorted her towards Gibraltar for a day.

RHS Adrias arrived at Bathurst on 20 February.

Meanwhile HMS Despatch had fuelled at Ilha de São Vicente, Cape Verde Islands on the 19th. On completion of fuelling she proceeded on anti-blockade breaker patrol. (79)

24 Feb 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Bathurst from patrol. (79)

26 Feb 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) departed Bathurst for an anti-blockade breaker patrol but she was soon ordered to proceed to Freetown instead. (79)

27 Feb 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Freetown. (79)

2 Mar 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) departed Freetown for an anti-blockade breaker patrol in the mid-Atlantic. (80)

6 Mar 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Freetown from patrol. (80)

8 Mar 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) departed Freetown for an anti-blockade breaker patrol in the mid-Atlantic. (80)

12 Mar 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Freetown from patrol.

After fuelling she departed again later the same day to search for a suspicious ship reported by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Cicilia (Capt.(Retd.) J.M. Scott, RN) the previous morning steering 340° in position 05°35'S, 11°48'W. This was however later though to have been an Allied merchant vessel. (80)

16 Mar 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Bathurst from patrol. (80)

17 Mar 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) departed Bathurst for an anti-blockade breaker patrol in the mid-Atlantic. (80)

21 Mar 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Freetown from patrol. (80)

1 Apr 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) departed Freetown for Recife, Brasil. (81)

5 Apr 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Recife from Freetown. (82)

6 Apr 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) departed Recife for Rio de Janeiro. (82)

8 Apr 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Rio de Janeiro from Recife. (82)

15 Apr 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) is docked at Rio de Janeiro. (82)

19 Apr 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) is undocked. (82)

8 May 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) departed Rio de Janeiro for Recife. (83)

11 May 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Recife from Rio de Janeiro. (83)

15 May 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) departed Recife for Freetown. (83)

19 May 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Freetown from Recife. (83)

5 Jun 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) conducted gunnery exercises off Freetown. (84)

16 Jun 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) conducted gunnery exercises off Freetown. (84)

21 Jun 1943

Combined convoy WS 31 / KMS 17.

This combined convoy was formed off Oversay on 21 June 1943. The convoy was divided into convoys WS 30 and KMS 15 at sea on 26 June 1943.

The combined convoy was made up of the following (troop) transports; Britannic (British, 26943 GRT, built 1930), City of Lincoln (British, 8039 GRT, built 1938), Clan Macarthur (British, 10528 GRT, built 1936), Clan Macaulay (British, 10492 GRT, built 1936), Cristobal (American, 10021 GRT, built 1939), General George W. Goethals (American, 12093 GRT, built 1942), John Ericsson (American, 16552 GRT, built 1928), J.W. McAndrew (American, 7997 GRT, built 1940), Largs Bay (British, 14182 GRT, built 192), Rangitiki (British, 16698 GRT, built 1928), Samaria (British, 19597 GRT, built 1921), Santa Rosa (American, 9135 GRT, built 1932), Silverteak (British, 6770 GRT, built 1930), Stratheden (British, 23722 GRT, built 1937) and Tamaroa (British, 12405 GRT, built 1922).

Also the netlayer HMS Guardian (Capt.(Retd.) H.A.C. Lane, OBE, RN) was part of the convoy.

After assembly of Oversay the convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Uganda (Capt. W.G. Andrewes, RN), destroyers HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Fitzroy, RN), HMS Amazon (Lt.Cdr. D.H.P. Gardiner, DSC, RN), HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. R.B.S. Tennant, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Viceroy (Lt. T.F. Hallifax, RN), HMS Wallace (Lt. D. Carson, RN), HMS Woolston (Lt. F.W. Hawkins, RN), HMS Hambledon (Lt.Cdr. G.W. McKendrick, RN), HMS Mendip (Capt. C.R.L. Parry, RN), HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. D.H.R. Bromley, RN), HMS Blencathra (Lt. E.G. Warren, RN), HMS Ledbury (Lt. D.R.N. Murdoch, RN), HMS Brecon (Lt.Cdr. T.D. Herrick, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Brissenden (Lt. D.C. Beatty, RN).

On 25 June HMS Arrow and HMS Amazon parted company with the combined convoy to proceed to Casablanca to fuel. They arrived at Casablanca around 1730A/25.

Around 1730B/25, the destroyers HMS Foxhound (Cdr. C.J. Wynne-Edwards, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. E.J. Lee, RN) and escort destroyer HMS Blackmore (Lt. H.T. Harrel, RN) were to join the combined convoy in position 36°05'N, 07°54'W. They had departed Gibraltar earlier on the 25th.

When these destroyers joined the destroyer HMS Witherington and escort destroyer HMS Ledbury were to proceed to Casablanca.

Also the convoy was to split. Convoy KMF 17, made up of the transports Britannic, Cristobal, J.W. McAndrew, Largs Bay, Samaria, Santa Rosa, Silverteak, Tamaroa and the netlayer HMS Guardian. They were escorted by the light cruiser HMS Uganada and the escort destroyers HMS Viceroy, HMS Wallace, HMS Woolston, HMS Hambledon, HMS Mendip, HMS Blankney, HMS Blencathra, HMS Brecon and HMS Brissenden proceeded towards the Mediterranean.

On the 26th, HMS Uganda, HMS Guardian, HMS Viceroy and one of the transports arrived at Gibraltar.

On the 27th, HMS Uganda, which apparently had rejoined the convoy after a brief stopover at Gibraltar, 7 of the transports and HMS Wallace, HMS Woolston, HMS Hambledon, HMS Mendip, HMS Blankney, HMS Blencathra, HMS Brecon and HMS Brissenden arrived at Algiers.

Meanwhile Convoy WS 31, made up of the transports City of Lincoln, Clan Macarthur, Clan Macaulay, General George W. Goethals, John Ericsson, Stratheden and Tamaroa continued on to Freetown.

The convoy was now escorted by the destroyers HMS Foxhound, HMS Bulldog and the escort destroyer HMS Blackmore.

The destroyer HMS Amazon also rejoined after fuelling at Casablanca. It had originally been the intention that HMS Arrow was also to rejoin the convoy but while at Casablanca orders had been received that she was to proceed to Gibraltar instead.

On 1 July the French armed merchant cruiser Quercy joined the convoy.

Convoy WS 31 arrived at Freetown on 4 July 1943.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Convoy WS 31 departed Freetown on 6 July 1943.

It was now made up of the transports City of Lincoln, Clan Macarthur, Clan Macaulay, General George W. Goethals, John Ericsson, Rangitiki, Stirling Castle (British, 25550 GRT, built 1936) and Stratheden.

The convoy was now escorted by the light cruiser HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN), armed merchant cruisers HMS Corfu (Capt.(Retd.) C.C. Bell, DSO, RN), Quercy, destroyers HMS Foxhound, HMS Bulldog, HMS Wolverine (Lt. I.M. Clegg, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Blackmore.

in the early afternoon of the 7th, in approximate position 03°15'N, 14°54'W the Rangitiki was to be detached to proceed independently to Montevideo.

HMS Despatch was to arrived at Takoradi late in the afternoon of the 9th to fuel and after completion of this on the 10th she was to rejoin the convoy. HMS Wolverine also made a short call at Takoradi on the 10th to fuel and then rejoin the convoy.

On the 10th HMS Bulldog and HMS Blackmore were detached to proceed to Lagos to fuel and then escort transports from there to join the convoy. HMS Corfu was also detached on the 10th to proceed to Ascencion after first calling at Takoradi.

The destroyer HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. S.R.J. Woods, RNR) and corvette HMS Armeria (Lt. M. Todd, RNR) had joined the convoy on the 10th.

On the 11th the transports Arawa (British, 14462 GRT, built 1922), Highland Brigade (British, 14134 GRT, built 1929), Highland Monarch (British, 14139 GRT, built 1928) and Staffordshire (British, 10683 GRT, built 1929) joined the convoy coming from Lagos. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Rapid (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Bulldog and the escort destroyer HMS Blackmore.

When these ships joined HMS Foxhound, HMS Witch and HMS Armeria then parted company and proceeded to Lagos arriving there also on the 11th.

HMS Despatch and HMS Rapid arrived at Pointe Noire to fuel at 0700Z/14. They departed again to rejoin the convoy at 1430Z/14.

Meanwhile the destroyers HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Farrington, RN) and HMS Redoubt (Lt.Cdr. N.E.G. Ropner, DSO, RN) had departed Pointe Noire at 0900Z/14 to join the convoy.

At 1800Z/14, the Quercy, HMS Bulldog and HMS Blackmore arrived at Pointe Noire.

At 0600Z/15, HMS Wolverine arrived at Pointe Noire.

The convoy arrived at Capetown on 21 July 1943. HMS Despatch, HMS Quadrant, HMS Rapid and HMS Redoubt then continued on to Simonstown arriving there later the same day.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A much reduced convoy WS 31 departed Capetown on 26 July 1943. It was now made up of the transports Arawa, Highland Brigade, Highland Monarch, Staffordshire, Stirling Castle and Stratheden. The convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Despatch and the destroyers HMS Quadrant and HMS Redoubt.

They were relieved near Mauritius on 4 August 1943 by the heavy cruiser HMS Frobisher (Capt. J.F.W. Mudford, RN) which took the convoy to Bombay where it arrived on 13 August 1943.

HMS Despatch, HMS Quadrant and HMS Redoubt arrived at Mauritius on 5 August 1943.

22 Jun 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) conducted D/G trials and gunnery exercises off Freetown. (84)

29 Jun 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) conducted gunnery exercises off Freetown. (84)

6 Jul 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) departed Freetown as escort for convoy WS 31.

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Combined convoy WS 31 / KMS 17 ' for 21 June 1943.] (84)

21 Jul 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN), HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Farrington, RN), HMS Rapid (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Redoubt (Lt.Cdr. N.E.G. Ropner, DSO, RN) arrived at Simonstown from convoy escort duty. (84)

21 Jul 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN), HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Farrington, RN), HMS Rapid (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Redoubt (Lt.Cdr. N.E.G. Ropner, DSO, RN) arrived at Simonstown from convoy escort duty. (84)

26 Jul 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN), HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Farrington, RN) and HMS Redoubt (Lt.Cdr. N.E.G. Ropner, DSO, RN) departed Simonstown to proceed to Capetown and there pick up six transports making up convoy WS 31. They then set course with the transports to a rendezvous position near Mauritius.

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Combined convoy WS 31 / KMS 17 ' for 21 June 1943.] (84)

5 Aug 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Mauritius from convoy escort duty. After fuelling she departed for Durban later the same day. (85)

9 Aug 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Durban from Mauritius. (85)

10 Aug 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) departed Durban for Simonstown. (85)

12 Aug 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Simonstown from Durban. At Simonstown she was taken in hand to repairs some defects. (85)

27 Aug 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) departed Simonstown for Pointe Noire. (85)

1 Sep 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Pointe Noire from Simonstown. After fuelling she departed for Takoradi later the same day. (65)

3 Sep 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Takoradi from Pointe Noire. (65)

4 Sep 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) departed Takoradi for Freetown. (65)

6 Sep 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Freetown from Takoradi. (65)

9 Sep 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) departed Freetown for Dakar. (65)

10 Sep 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Dakar from Freetown. After fuelling she departed for Gibraltar later the same day. (65)

14 Sep 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Gibraltar from Dakar. (65)

18 Sep 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Plymouth from Gibraltar. (86)

19 Sep 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) departed Plymouth for Portsmouth. (87)

20 Sep 1943
HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) arrived at Portsmouth from Plymouth.

At Portsmouth she was reduced to Care and Maintenance on the 25th. (87)

13 Apr 1944
HMS Despatch was taken in hand at the Portsmouth Dockyard to be fitted out for duty as a depot / headquarters ship for the upcoming landings in Normandy (Operation Neptune). (65)

7 Jun 1944

Convoy EWP 1.

This convoy departed Portsmouth on 7 June 1944 and arrived on 8 June 1944 off the Normandy beaches.

It was made up of the transports; Batavier II (Dutch, 1573 GRT, built 1920), Biarritz (British, 2388 GRT, built 1915), Cameronia (British, 16297 GRT, built 1920), Devonshire (British, 11275 GRT, built 1939), Empire Arquebus (British, 7177 GRT, built 1944), Empire Crossbow (British, 7177 GRT, built 1944), Leopoldville (Belgian, 11509 GRT, built 1929), Neuralia (British, 9182 GRT, built 1912), New Bedford (British, 1595 GRT, built 1928) and Worcestershire (British, 11402 GRT, built 1931).

The depot / headquarters ships, HMS Adventure (A/Capt. A.M. Sheffield, RN), HMS Despatch (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO, RN) and Southern Prince (Capt. (Retd.) R.H.F. de Salis, DSC, OBE, RN) were also with this convoy.

The convoy was escorted by the escort destroyer HMS Eglinton (Lt.Cdr. F.M. Graves, RN), sloops HMS Redpole (Lt.Cdr. I.M. Carrs, RN), HMS Stork (Cdr.(Retd.) G.W.E. Castens, DSO, RN) and the frigates HMS Duff (T/A/Lt.Cdr. F. Brock, RCNVR) and HMS Hotham (A/Lt.Cdr. S. Ayles, RNR).

18 Aug 1944
HMS Despatch (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO, RN) returned to Portsmouth from the Normandy beaches. (88)

25 Aug 1944
HMS Despatch (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO, RN) proceeded from Portsmouth to Plymouth. (88)

28 Oct 1944
HMS Despatch (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO, RN) is decommissioned and put into reserve category C.

In December she went to Portsmouth to serve as accommodation ship. (89)

Sources

  1. ADM 53/108288
  2. ADM 53/108215 + ADM 53/108289 + ADM 53/108429
  3. ADM 53/108290
  4. ADM 53/107952 + ADM 53/108290
  5. ADM 53/107952 + ADM 53/108290 + ADM 53/109988
  6. ADM 53/108290 + ADM 199/367
  7. ADM 53/108291
  8. ADM 53/107953 + ADM 53/108291
  9. ADM 53/108292
  10. ADM 53/111986
  11. ADM 53/111986 + ADM 53/113029
  12. ADM 53/111987
  13. ADM 53/111988
  14. ADM 53/111988 + ADM 199/367
  15. ADM 53/111989
  16. ADM 53/111990
  17. ADM 53/111990 + ADM 199/367
  18. ADM 53/111991
  19. ADM 53/111992
  20. ADM 53/111992 + ADM 53/111993 + ADM 199/367
  21. ADM 53/111993
  22. ADM 53/111993 + ADM 199/367
  23. ADM 53/111994
  24. ADM 53/111994 + ADM 199/2552
  25. ADM 199/372
  26. ADM 53/111995
  27. ADM 53/111996
  28. ADM 199/379
  29. ADM 199/392
  30. ADM 53/111996 + ADM 199/392
  31. ADM 234/325 + ADM 234/326
  32. ADM 53/111997
  33. ADM 53/114071
  34. AMD 53/114071 + ADM 199/402
  35. AMD 53/114071
  36. ADM 53/114072 + ADM 199/402
  37. ADM 53/114072
  38. ADM 53/113816 + ADM 53/114072
  39. ADM 114072
  40. ADM 53/114073 + ADM 199/402
  41. ADM 53/114073
  42. ADM 199/402 + ADM 199/2552
  43. ADM 199/402
  44. ADM 53/114074
  45. ADM 53/114075 + ADM 199/402
  46. ADM 53/114076 + ADM 199/402
  47. ADM 53/114076
  48. ADM 53/114077
  49. ADM 53/114077 + ADM 199/402
  50. ADM 53/114077 + ADM 53/114879 + ADM 199/402 + ADM 199/2230
  51. ADM 53/114078
  52. ADM 53/114078 + ADM 199/402
  53. ADM 53/114079 + ADM 199/402
  54. ADM 53/114080
  55. ADM 53/114080 + ADM 199/402
  56. ADM 53/114081 + ADM 199/402
  57. ADM 53/114081 + ADM 53/114116 + ADM 199/402
  58. ADM 53/114081
  59. ADM 53/115761 + ADM 199/647
  60. ADM 53/115761
  61. ADM 53/115762
  62. ADM 53/115762 + ADM 199/647
  63. ADM 53/115763
  64. ADM 53/115764
  65. ADM 199/2552
  66. ADM 53/115766
  67. ADM 53/115857
  68. ADM 53/11682
  69. ADM 53/115857 + ADM 199/632
  70. ADM 53/115857 + ADM 199/2552
  71. ADM 53/115858
  72. ADM 199/1211
  73. ADM 53/115767
  74. ADM 53/115768
  75. ADM 53/117347
  76. ADM 53/117347 + ADM 199/635
  77. ADM 53/117347 + ADM 199/2254
  78. ADM 199/635 + ADM 199/2552
  79. ADM 199/635
  80. ADM 53/117348 + ADM 199/635
  81. ADM 53/117349 + ADM 199/635
  82. ADM 53/117349
  83. ADM 53/117350
  84. ADM 53/117351
  85. ADM 53/117352
  86. ADM 199/2277
  87. ADM 199/2277 + ADM 199/2552
  88. ADM 53/119242
  89. ADM 53/119244

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


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