Allied Warships

HMS Durban (D 99)

Light cruiser of the D class


HMS Durban in October 1942

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeLight cruiser
ClassD 
PennantD 99 
Built byScotts Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. (Greenock, Scotland) 
OrderedJul 1917 
Laid downJan 1918 
Launched29 May 1919 
Commissioned1 Nov 1921 
Lost9 Jun 1944 
Loss position49° 21'N, 0° 16'W

The British light cruiser HMS Durban (D 99) lost on 9 Jun 1944 in position 49° 21'N, 0° 16'W.

History

Completed by Devonport Dockyard.

After commissioning HMS Durban joined the China Station 5th Light Cruiser Squadron in January 1922. In 1928 Durban was transferred to the America and West Indies Station. In 1930 The cruiser returned to the UK. In 1931 Durban joined the South Atlantic Division. By December 1933, Durban was relieved by the heavy cruiser HMS York and returned to the UK. In March 1934, the cruiser left for Gibraltar to join the Mediterranean Fleet. By September 1936 Durban returned to the UK and was placed into reserve

In September 1939, because of the outbreak of war Durban was brought forward for commissioning and joined the 9th Cruiser Squadron in the South Atlantic Command. In March 1940 she was in the Indian Ocean when Durban was transferred to the Far East Fleet based at Singapore where she became a unit of the British Malaysian Force. This consisted of her two sister ships HMS Danae and HMS Dauntless, the unit was formed to keep watch on German merchant ships in the Dutch East Indies harbours, her patrol area was off Padang. November, On 10 November 1940 the Norwegian tanker Ole Jacob (offsite link) reported being shelled midway between Ceylon, and the north end of Sumatra. The German raider Atlantis being named the attacker. The C-in-C East Indies immediately organised a hunting group comprising Durban and the cruisers HMS Capetown, HMAS Canberra and armed merchant cruiser HMAS Westralia. HMAS Canberra was at that time on passage to Australia after escorting a convoy to Bombay. The hunt proved unsuccessful.

In 1941 Durban was still based at Singapore with the cruiser HMS Dragon and tasked in the escorting of the convoys between Singapore and the Sunda Straits. In February, she escorted the Queen Mary from the Sunda Strait to Singapore, they reached their destination on the 18th, carrying the first Australian Imperial Force Troops for Malaya. In November, she escorted the trooper Zealandia from the Sunda Strait to Singapore, after relieving the Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney which had originally left Fremantle. Not long after this Sydney was involved in a skirmish with the German raider Kormoran, when both ships were sunk.

In January 1942 she was in the Dutch East Indies where Durban remained part of the formation of the China Force for convoy duties between Singapore, Sunda Straits and Java. In February while at Keppel Harbour, Singapore, Admiral Layton decided to move the Fleet to Java after the Japanese started their attack on Singapore, it was here where Durban was damaged by bombing, in company with Dragon they travelled at high speed and arrived at Tandjong Priok, the port of Batavia. Later temporary repairs were carried out at Colombo. Full repairs were carried out at New York in April, and further modifications were made in Portsmouth between June and August.

On 5 November 1942, convoy WS-23 arrived in South Africa from the UK with reinforcements, the convoy consisted of 5 ships and escort was provided by Durban and HMS Hawkins.

In February 1943 Durban sailed for New York for permanent repairs. By June the cruiser was docked in the Selborne dry dock at Simonstown, South Africa prior to joining the Eastern Fleet. In November, she returned to the UK to be paid off.

On 9 June 1944 Durban was expended to form part of Gooseberry 5 breakwater for protecting the artificial harbour off Ouistreham in the Seine Bay.
The wreck lies in 11 meters of water in position 49º20'44"N, 00º16'08"W.

 

Commands listed for HMS Durban (D 99)

Please note that we're still working on this section.

CommanderFromTo
1Capt. Alexander Henry Maxwell-Hyslop, RN31 Jul 193928 Nov 1939
2Capt. Francis Cyril Flynn, RN28 Nov 193915 Dec 1939
3Capt. Alfred Creighton Collinson, RN15 Dec 193926 Jan 1940
4Capt. Leslie Swain Saunders, RN26 Jan 19402 Mar 1940
5Capt. John Arthur Symons Eccles, RN2 Mar 194013 Oct 1941
6Capt. Peter Grenville Lyon Cazalet, DSC, RN13 Oct 194125 Sep 1942
7Capt. George Frederick Stevens-Guille, DSO, OBE, RN25 Sep 194213 Nov 1942

8Cdr. (retired) Richard Charles Stokes, RN28 Dec 19436 Apr 1944
9A/Cdr. John Andrew Agnew, RN6 Apr 1944

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Notable events involving Durban include:


21 Dec 1941
HMS Exeter (Capt. O.L. Gordon, MVO, RN) departed Colombo to proceed towards the Sunda Stait to make rendez-vous with the transport Erinpura (5143 GRT, built 1911) that had departed Singapore on 19 December 1941 with survivors from HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse as well as women and children.

The Erinpura was escorted by HMS Dragon (Capt. R.J. Shaw, MBE, RN), HMS Durban (Capt. P.G.L. Cazalet, DSC, RN) and HMAS Vampire (Cdr. W.T.A. Moran, RAN) until 24 December when HMS Exeter took over. They arrived at Colombo on 27 December 1941. (1)

1 Jan 1942
HrMs De Ruyter (Cdr. E.E.B. Lacomblé, RNN and flagship of Rear-Admiral K.W.F.M. Doorman, RNN), HrMs Tromp (Cdr. J.B. de Meester, RNN) and the destroyers HrMs Piet Hein (Lt.Cdr. J.M.L.I. Chompff, RNN) and HrMs Banckert (Lt.Cdr. L.J. Goslings, RNN) departed Batavia. They were to bolster the escort of convoy BM 9A that was en-route to Singapore. The Dutch ships joined the British convoy at 1345 hours.

The Dutch ships remained with the convoy until 2000/2.

Convoy BM 9A was made up of the following ships; liner (troopship) Devonshire (11275 GRT, built 1939), passenger (or in this case troops) / cargo ships Lancashire (9445 GRT, built 1917), Rajula (8478 GRT, built 1926), Ethiopia (5575 GRT, built 1922) and Varsova (4691 GRT, built 1914). They were escorted by the Australian light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, CBE, RAN), the British light cruisers HMS Durban (Capt. P.G.L. Cazalet, DSC, RN), HMS Dragon (Capt. R.J. Shaw, MBE, RN) and the British destroyers HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN) and the Australian destroyer HMAS Vampire (Cdr. W.T.A. Moran, RAN). The convoy arrived arrived at Singapore on 3 January. (2)

5 Jan 1942

Convoy DM 1

Convoy from Addu Atoll (Port T) to Singapore.
Departure date: 5 January 1942.
Arrival date: 13 January 1942.

This convoy was made up of the following ships;
American liner (troopship) Mount Vernon (24289 GRT, built 1933), British liners (troopships) Narkunda (16227 GRT, built 1920), Aorangi (17491 GRT, built 1924), British cargo vessel Sussex (11062 GRT, built 1937), Dutch passerger / cargo ship Abbekerk (7906 GRT, built 1939).

The convoy was escorted by British heavy cruiser HMS Exeter (Capt. O.L. Gordon, MVO, RN), British light cruiser HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN) and the Indian sloop HMIS Jumna (Cdr. W.R. Shewring, RIN).

On 9 January, the British light cruiser HMS Durban (Capt. P.G.L. Cazalet, DSC, RN), joined the escort in position 04°27'N, 94°47'E.

On 10 January, the Dutch light cruiser HrMs De Ruyter (Cdr. E.E.B. Lacomblé, RNN and flagship of Rear-Admiral K.W.F.M. Doorman, RNN) joined the escort for three hours in position 05°22'N, 100°34'E. Rear-Admiral Doorman then boarded HMS Emerald to discuss the route and policy with the commanding officer. After Rear-Admiral Doorman returned to his flagship HrMs De Ruyter parted company with the convoy.

Later on 10 January 1940 the British destroyers HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN) and the Australian destroyer HMAS Vampire (Cdr. W.T.A. Moran, RAN) joined the escort in position 05°30'N, 100°55'E.

Shortly before 1800 hours on 11 January the Dutch light cruisers HrMs De Ruyter, HrMs Tromp (Cdr. J.B. de Meester, RNN) and the Dutch destroyers HrMs Piet Hein (Lt.Cdr. J.M.L.I. Chompff, RNN) and HrMs Banckert (Lt.Cdr. L.J. Goslings, RNN) bolstered the escort of convoy DM 1. The Dutch ships remained with the convoy until 0745/13. (2)

19 Jan 1942

Convoy BM 11.

Convoy from Bombay to Singapore.
Departure date: 19 January 1942.
Arrival date: 28 January 1942.

This convoy was made up of the following ships;
British troop ships; Duchess of Bedford (20123 GRT, built 1928), Empress of Japan (26032 GRT, built 1930)

British merchant Empire Star (13479 GRT, built 1935).

American troop ships; Wakefield (24289 GRT, built 1931) and West Piont (26454 GRT, built 1940).

Escort was initially provided from 19 January to 22 January 1942 by the British light cruiser HMS Caledon (A/Capt. H.J. Haynes, DSO, DSC, RN).

On 22 January 1942, HMS Glasgow (Capt. H. Hickling, DSO, RN) took over from HMS Caledon in position 05°10'N, 80°09'E.

On 25 January 1942, HMS Dragon (Capt. R.J. Shaw, MBE, RN) and HMS Durban (Capt. P.G.L. Cazalet, DSC, RN) joined the convoy in the afternoon.

On 27 January 1942, HMS Exeter (Capt. O.L. Gordon, MVO, RN) and the destroyer HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN) took over shortly after dawn from HMS Glasgow in position 06°32'S, 102°29'E. It appears that HMS Exeter parted company with the convoy on 28 January and proceeded to Batavia.

The destroyers HMS Electra (Cdr. C.W. May, RN) and HMS Express (Lt.Cdr. F.J. Cartwright, RN) also joined during the final approach of the convoy to Singapore. [But the exact moment they joined is currently not known to us.]

The convoy arrived at Singapore on 29 January 1940. (3)

Sources

  1. ADM 53/114260 + ADM 199/408
  2. Files 2.12.03.6849 and 2.12.27.121 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  3. ADM 199/426

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


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