HNMS Jacob van Heemskerck (D 20)
Light cruiser of the Tromp class
|Navy||The Royal Dutch Navy|
|Built by||Nederlandse Scheepsbouw Maatschappij (Amsterdam, Holland)|
|Laid down||31 Oct 1938|
|Launched||16 Sep 1939|
|Commissioned||11 Feb 1941|
|End service||20 Nov 1969|
Became an accomodation ship on 12 March 1951.
For HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck's service career see this website (offsite link).
Commands listed for HNMS Jacob van Heemskerck (D 20)
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.
|1||luitenant ter zee 1e klasse (Lt.Cdr.) Jonkheer Arnold van Foreest, RNN||10 May 1940||14 May 1940|
|2||kapitein-luitenant ter zee (Cdr.) Jonkheer Edzard Jacob van Holthe, RNN||14 May 1940||30 Apr 1943|
|3||kapitein ter zee (Capt.) Willem Harmsen, RNN||30 Apr 1943||27 May 1944|
|4||kapitein ter zee (Capt.) Willem van den Donker, RNN||27 May 1944||15 Sep 1944|
|5||kapitein-luitenant ter zee (Cdr.) Jonkheer Gustaaf Alexander Berg, RNN||15 Sep 1944||15 Oct 1945|
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Notable events involving Jacob van Heemskerck include:
10 May 1940
Around 1415A/10, the light cruisers HMS Galatea (Capt. B.B. Schofield, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral G.F.B. Edward-Collins, CB, KCVO, RN), HMS Arethusa (Capt. Q.D. Graham, RN) and the destroyers HMS Keith (Capt. D.J.R. Simson, RN) and HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN) departed Sheerness for operations off the Dutch coast.
During the night of 10/11 May 1940, HMS Galatea embarked a few Dutch army officers. She was also supposed to evacuate members of the Dutch Royal family but they had delayed their departure.
HMS Arethusa and HMS Boreas escorted the Dutch merchant vessel Iris (905 GRT, built 1920) to Southend. The Iris had on board some of the gold reserve from the Dutch National Bank. Following this escort duty, HMS Arethusa and HMS Boreas, arrived at Sheerness around 0630A/3.
HMS Keith escorted the Dutch merchant vessel Titus (1712 GRT, built 1930). The uncompleted Dutch light cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Lt.Cdr. A. van Foreest, RNN) is also with them. HMS Keith arrived at Sheerness either late on the 11th or early on the 12th. (1)
21 Jun 1941
Convoy TC 11.
This troop convoy departed Halifax on 21 June 1941 and arrived in the Clyde on 30 June 1941.
Is was made up of the troopships Andes (British, 25689 GRT, built 1930), Britannic (British, 26943 GRT, built 1930), Indrapoera (Dutch, 10825 GRT, built 1925), Pasteur (British, 29253 GRT, built 1938), Stirling Castle (British, 25550 GRT, built 1936) and Windsor Castle (British, 19141 GRT, built 1922).
On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the battleship HMS Ramillies (Capt. A.D. Read, RN), battlecruiser HMS Repulse (Capt. W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Havelock (Cdr. E.H. Thomas, DSC, RN), HMS Harvester (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, DSC, RN), HMCS Assiniboine (A/Lt.Cdr. J.H. Stubbs, RCN), HMCS St. Laurent (Lt.Cdr. H.S. Rayner, RCN), HMCS Skeena (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Hibbard, RCN).
Shortly after noon on the 24th, HMCS St. Laurent and HMS Skeena parted company with the convoy and proceeded to St. John's.
Shortly after 1900/26 the destroyers HMS Cossack (Capt. E.L. Berthon, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Sikh (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, RN), HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSO, RN), HMS Achates (Lt.Cdr. Viscount Jocelyn, RN), HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. R.B.N. Hicks, DSO, RN) and HMS Sherwood (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) joined the convoy coming from Hvalfjord, Iceland.
Around noon on the 27th, HMS Ramillies, HMS Harvester, HMS Havelock and HMCS Assiniboine parted company with the convoy and proceeded to Reykjavik, Iceland.
At 0900/28 the Dutch AA cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Cdr. E.J. van Holthe, RNN) joined the convoy.
The convoy arrived in the Clyde in the morning of June, 30th.
12 Jul 1941
Convoy WS 9C
This convoy was formed at sea and was initially made up of the British merchants/ troop transports Avila Star (14443 GRT, built 1927), City of Pretoria (8049 GRT, built 1937), Deucalion (7516 GRT, built 1930), Durham (10893 GRT, built 1934), Leinster (4302 GRT, built 1937), Melbourne Star (11076 GRT, built 1936), Pasteur (30447 GRT, built 1939), Port Chalmers (8535 GRT, built 1933) and Sydney Star (11095 GRT, built 1936).
They were escorted by the battleship HMS Nelson (Capt. T.H. Troubridge, RN) (12-20 July), cruisers HMS Manchester (Capt. H. Drew, DSC, RN) (12-17 July), HMS Arethusa (Capt. A.C. Chapman, RN), (12-17 July), AA cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Cdr. E.J. van Holthe, RNN) (12-15 July), cruiser-minelayer HMS Manxman (Capt. R.K. Dickson, RN), (15-16 July), destroyers HMS Winchelsea (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, OBE, DSC, RN) (12 July), HMS Vanoc (Lt.Cdr. J.G.W. Deneys, DSO, RN) (12-15 July), HMS Wanderer (Cdr. A.F.St.G. Orpen, RN) (12-15 July), ORP Garland (Lt.Cdr. K.F. Namiesniowski, ORP) (12-15 July), HMS Gurkha (Cdr. C.N. Lentaigne, RN) (12-15 July), HMS Cossack (Capt. E.L. Berthon, DSC and Bar, RN) (12-17 July), HMS Maori (Cdr. R.E. Courage, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN) (12-17 July), HMS Sikh (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, RN) (12-17 July), HMS Lightning (Cdr. R.G. Stewart, RN) (12-17 July), HMAS Nestor (Cdr. A.S. Rosenthal, RAN) (12-17 July), HMS Fearless (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN) (17-20 July), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, DSO, DSC, RN) (18-20 July), HMS Foresight (Cdr. J.S.C. Salter, RN) (17-20 July), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, DSC and Bar, RN) (17-20 July), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN) (17-20 July), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN) (17-20 July), escort destroyers HMS Avon Vale (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, RN) (18-20 July), HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, RN) (18-20 July), HMS Farndale (Cdr. S.H. Carlill, RN) (18-20 July) and sloop HMS Stork (Lt. G.T.S. Gray, DSC, RN) (12-13 July).
The merchant ships from the convoy departed either Avonmouth, Liverpool, the Clyde area and Belfast. The convoy was finally formed up at sea early on the 13th in position 55°40'N, 06°55'W.
The passage of the convoy was uneventful.
HMS Gurkha and ORP Garland left the convoy around 0330/15 reaching the limit of their endurance. HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck, HMS Vanoc and HMS Wanderer did the same around 1830/15. Around 2000/15 HMS Manxman joined the convoy, she parted company at 1900/16 and set course for Gibraltar. The merchant Avila Star had meanwhile left the convoy at 1000/16.
At 0700/17 the 8th Destroyer Flotilla was to join the convoy coming from Gibraltar but due to thick for no contact was made. At 1000/17 the Pasteur left the convoy for Gibraltar escorted by HMS Manchester, HMS Maori, HMS Lightning and HMAS Nestor. Shortly afterwards the fog lifted and the 8th Destroyer Flottilla was sighted and joined the convoy. At 1200/17 the Leinster also left the convoy for Gibraltar escorted by HMS Arethusa, HMS Cossack and HMS Sikh.
At 1800/18 HMS Firedrake joined the convoy coming from Gibraltar.
At 0700/18 HMS Avon Vale, HMS Eridge and HMS Farndale joined the Pasteur, HMS Manchester, HMS Lightning and HMAS Nestor. HMS Maori then left that group and joined the group that was made up of the Leinster, HMS Arethusa, HMS Cossack and HMS Sikh. HMS Manchester departed the ‘Pasteur group’ at 1000/19 to join the ‘Leinster group’ which she did at 1500/19.
The ‘Pasteur group’ arrived at Gibraltar shortly after noon on the 19th and around 0330/20 the ‘Leinster group’ arrived at Gibraltar. Troops aboard these ships then disembarked.
Around 0200/20, HMS Edinburgh, HMS Manxman, HMS Lightning, HMAS Nestor, HMS Avon Vale, HMS Eridge and HMS Farndale departed Gibraltar to rendez-vous with the now incoming convoy WS 9C. They joined the convoy shortly before noon, the six F-class destroyers of the 8th Destroyer Flotilla then left to refuel at Gibraltar.
For the continuation of the events see the event for 21 July 1941 on Operation Substance. (2)
15 Aug 1941
Convoy WS 10X
This convoy departed U.K. ports on 14/15 August 1941 for Suez where the ships arrived between 1 to 4 October 1941.
The convoy assembled in the Clyde area on 15 August 1941.
The convoy was made up of the following troop transports; Brisbane Star (12791 GRT, built 1937), Orion (23371 GRT, built 1935), Strathmore (23428 GRT, built 1935), Strathnaver (22283 GRT, built 1931), And the transports Palma (5419 GRT, built 1941) and Port Jackson (9687 GRT, built 1937).
Escort was initially provided by the heavy cruiser HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. A.W.S. Agar, VC, DSO, RN) (joined at sea on 17 August 1941 until 28 August when the convoy arrived at Freetown), the AA (light) cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Cdr. E.J. van Holte, RNN) (15 – 17 August) and the destroyers HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN) (15-17 August), HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Holmes, RN) (15-17 August), HMS Gurkha (Cdr. C.N. Lentaigne, RN) (17-19 August), HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN) (17-19 August), HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. J. Houtsmuller, RNN) (17-19 August) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. S. Hryniewiecki) (17-19 August).
When approaching Freetown the convoy was joined on 26 August by a local escort made up of the destroyers HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN), HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN) (left the convoy before noon on 27 August), HMS Wrestler (Lt. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) and the corvettes HMS Clematis (Cdr. Y.M. Cleeves, DSO, DSC, RD, RNR) and HMS Crocus (Lt.Cdr. E. Wheeler, RNR). The convoy arrived at Freetown on 28 August 1941.
The convoy departed Freetown for Capetown on 1 September 1941. Escort was now provided by the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) and the corvettes HMS Amaranthus (T/Lt. W.S. Thomson, RNR), HMS Armeria (T/Lt. H.N. Russell, DSC, RNR), HMS Mignonette (Lt. H.H. Brown, RNR) and HMS Woodruff (T/Lt. T. Muir, RNVR).
HMS Amaranthus parted company with the convoy around 1445Z/2 to return to Freetown due to defects.
Around 2133Z/2, HMS Revenge was rammed by the transport Orion. Damage to HMS Revenge was only minor but damage to the bow of the Orion was more serious. She dropped out of the convoy for a while but was later able to catch up again and was able of a speed of 15 knots.
At 1237Z/3, HMS Armeria, HMS Mignonette and HMS Woodruff parted company with the convoy to proceed to Takoradi.
The convoy arrived at Capetown on 11 September 1941.
The convoy departed Capetown for Suez on 14 September 1941. Escort was still provided by HMS Revenge until 22 September 1941 when the light cruiser, HMS Ceres (Capt. E.G. Abbott, AM, RN) took over until the dispersal of the convoy on 27 September 1941 when it was near Aden. The ships of the convoy then continued independently towards Suez where they arrived between 1 and 4 October 1941.
12 Jan 1942
Convoy WS 15.
This convoy assembled off Oversay on 12 January 1942.
On assembly the convoy was made up of the (troop) transports; Aagtekerk (Dutch, 6811 GRT, built 1934), Arawa (British, 14462 GRT, built 1922), Autolycus (British, 7621 GRT, built 1922), Britannic (British, 26943 GRT, built 1930), Christiaan Huygens (Dutch, 16287 GRT, built 1927), Dorset (British, 10624 GRT, built 1934), Elisabeth Bakke (Norwegian, 5450 GRT, built 1937), Empire Woodlark (British, 7793 GRT, built 1913), Laconia (British, 19695 GRT, built 1922), Letitia (British, 13595 GRT, built 1925), Llangibby Castle (British, 11951 GRT, built 1929), Melbourne Star (British, 11076 GRT, built 1936), Orontes (British, 20097 GRT, built 1929), Otranto (British, 20026 GRT, built 1925), Pardo (British, 5400 GRT, built 1940), Pasteur (British, 29253 GRT, built 1938), Port Chalmers (British, 8535 GRT, built 1933), Staffordshire (British, 10683 GRT, built 1929), Stirling Castle (British, 25550 GRT, built 1936), Strathmore (British, 23428 GRT, built 1935), Stratnaver (British, 22283 GRT, built 1931) and Viceroy of India (British, 19627 GRT, built 1929).
The Dutch submarine tender HrMs Colombia (Capt. J.L.K. Hoeke, RNN) was also part of the convoy.
On assembly off Oversay the convoy was escorted by the AA cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Cdr. E.J. van Holte, RNN), armed merchant cruisers HMS Ascania (A/Capt. A.G. Davidson, RN), HMS Cheshire (Capt.(Retd.) J.M. Begg, RN), destroyers HMS Vanoc ( A/Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, RN), HMS Vanquisher (Cdr. N.V. Dickinson, DSC, RN), HMS Volunteer (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Walker (Cdr. D.G.F.W. MacIntyre, DSO, RN), HMS Witherington (Lt. R. Horncastle, RN), HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) and HMS Demirhisar (?). [This was an 'I-class' destroyer, one of four ordered by the Turkish government before the start of the war. Two of these destroyers were taken over by the Royal Navy and two were delivered to Turkey. On passage to Turkey they were commissioned as HMS ships with a Royal Navy crew so they also served on escort duty during their passage to Turkey (via the Cape of Good Hope).]
On 15 January, HMS Vanoc and HMS Walker parted company with the convoy.
Around 0900N/17, the battleship HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral W.E.C. Tait, CB, MVO, RN) and the destroyer Norman joined coming from Milford Haven. The destroyers Garland and Anthony had also been with the battleship but these had been detached to go to the assistance of the damaged Llangibby Castle. It had originally been intended that HMS Resolution would join the convoy on 15 January but this did not materialise due to the bad weather conditions.
Around 1400N/17, HMS Boreas and HMS Demirhisar were detached to fuel at Ponta Delgada, Azores.
Around 1400N/18, HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck parted company with the convoy to fuel at Ponta Delgada.
Around 1830N/18, HMAS Norman parted company with the convoy to fuel at Ponta Delgada.
Around 1400O/19, HMS Boreas rejoined the convoy but the Demirhisar had sustained damage to her stern and had to make some repairs before she was able to proceed.
Around 1000O/20, HMAS Norman and later HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck rejoined the convoy.
Around 1500O/21, the destroyer HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. R.L.S. Gaisford, RN) joined. She had however one engine out of action and could only proceed at 22 knots.
After nightfall on the 21st, HMS Resolution was ordered to proceed ahead for an ocean rendezvous with the RFA tanker Rapidol (2648 GRT, built 1917). Due to the bad weather conditions encountered, HMS Resolution had not enough fuel on board to reach Freetown without refuelling. She met the Rapidol and her escort, the corvette HMS Jasmine (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) C.D.B. Coventry, RNR), the following day but conditions were unfavourable to fuel and every attempt failed. Course was therefore set to the Cape Verde Islands.
The convoy meanwhile continued on to Freetown where it arrived on 25 January. On 22 January the convoy had been joined by the destroyer HMS Vimy (Lt.Cdr. H.G.D. de Chair, RN) and on 23 January HMS Demirhisar rejoined after her delay at the Azores. Shortly before the convoy arrived at Freetown, HMS Vimy was detached to join HMS Resolution (see below).
At 0830N/23, in the lee of Sal Island, another attempt was made just outside Portugese territorial waters. However wind and swell were still too great for oizling at sea and the ships therefore anchored in Murdeira Bay with the Rapidol proceeding alongside while the Jasmire and the Vansittart, which meanwhile had also joined to fuel, conducted an A/S patrol off the Bay.
Oiling was ceased at 1230N/23 so then it was Vansittart's turn. HMS Resolution then left the Bay and proceeded ahead to Freetown. HMS Vansittart was to overtake her.
At 0830N/25, the destroyer HMS Vimy joined HMS Resolution. Two hours later HMS Vansittart finally caught up with HMS Resolution. They arrived at Freetown early in the afternoon.
The convoy departed Freetown on 29 January 1942, in the same composition. The convoy was now escorted by the battleship HMS Resolution (now flying the flag of A/Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, DSO, RN), armed merchant cruiser HMS Cheshire destroyers HMS Vimy, HMS Wild Swan (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, RN), HMS Boreas, HMS Demirhisar and the sloop HMS Milford (Cdr.(Retd.) the Hon. V.M. Wyndham-Quin, RN).
At dusk on 31 January, HMS Vimy, HMS Wild Swan, HMS Boreas parted company to return to Freetown.
It had been arranged that the RFA tanker Rapidol would be in position 14°30'S, 05°10'W at 0830Z/3, to fuel HMS Demirhisar and HMS Milford and if needed HMS Resolution.
At 1800Z/3, HMS Resolution parted company with the convoy to make a short call at St. Helena.
At 0610Z/4, HMS Resolution anchored off St. Helena. She departed around 1130Z/4 to rejoin the convoy which she did in the afternoon of 6 February.
The convoy split into two section and the Capetown section made up of the Dorset, Elizabeth Bakke, Laconia, Orontes, Pasteur and HrMs Colombia. They arrived at Capetown on 9 February escorted by HMS Resolution, HMS Cheshire and HMS Demirhisar. HMS Demirhisar then proceeded to Simonstown for repairs for the damage she had sustained at Ponta Delgada.
The other ships continued on to Durban escorted by the armed merchant cruisers HMS Dunnottar Castle (Capt.(Retd.) C.T.A. Bunbury, RN) and HMS Worcestershire (A/Capt.(Retd.) E.H. Hopkinson, RN) which had joined the convoy on 9 February coming from Capetown. HMS Milford also remained with the convoy until Durban the Durban section arrived there on 13 February 1942.
The Capetown section departed from there (less the Elizabeth Bakke) on 14 February 1942 escorted by HMS Cheshire.
They made rendezvous off Durban with the Durban section (less the Arawa and Letitia) on 17 February 1942. The Durban section was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Ceres (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) H.W.V. Stephenson, RN), armed merchant cruiser HMS Worcestershire and the destroyer HMAS Norman.
On 21 February, HMAS Norman fuelled from HMS Worcesterhire, while being alongside and proceeding at 10 knots !.
At 0800C/22, HMAS Norman was detached to the Seychelles.
At 1230C/22, the battleship HMS Ramillies (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN) joined and half an hour later the 'Batavia Section' of the convoy parted company in position 10°22'S, 42°00'E forming convoy DM 3 to proceed to Port T (Addu Atoll). The ships that parted company were the Aagtekerk, Autolycus, Christiaan Huygens, Empire Woodlark, Pardo, Port Chalmers, Staffordshire, Strathnaver and HrMs Colombia.
The remaining ships continued northwards escorted by HMS Ceres and HMS Worcestershire.
They were joined at 0700C/24, in position 02°44'S, 43°20'E, by the light cruiser HMS Colombo (Capt. C.C.A. Allen, RN) and the transport Khandalla (British, 7018 GRT, built 1923) coming from Mombasa. HMS Ceres then parted company to proceed to Mombasa.
At 0300C/26, the convoy split up into two sections. Convoy WS 15A set course for the Gulf of Aden escorted by HMS Colombo. It was made up of the Dorset, Laconia, Melbourne Star, Orontes, Otranto, Pasteur and Viceroy of India. It was dispersed off Aden on 1 March 1942 to proceed independently to Suez.
Convoy WS 15B set course for Bombay escorted by HMS Worcestershire. It was made up of the Britannic, Khandalla, Stirling Castle and Strathmore. The convoy arrived at Bombay on 4 March 1942. In the approaches to Bombay it was joined by the sloop Lawrence (T/Lt. C.F. Smith, RINR) and the auxiliary patrol vessel HMIS Dipavati (T/Lt. P. Munday, RINR). (3)
29 Mar 1942
Operations by the Eastern Fleet from 29 March to 13 April 1942. Enemy air attacks on Colombo and later Trincomalee and the loss of HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall on 5 April 1942 and HMS Hermes, HMAS Vampire on 9 April 1942.
Dispositions of the Eastern Fleet on 29 March 1942.
On 29 March 1942 the disposition of the Eastern Fleet was as follows; At Colombo: Aircraft Carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN), heavy cruisers HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. A.W.S. Agar, VC, DSO, RN) (refitting) and HMS Cornwall (Capt. P.C.W. Manwaring, RN), light cruisers HMS Enterprise (Capt. J.C.A. Annesley, DSO, RN), HMS Dragon (Capt. R.J. Shaw, MBE, RN) and HMS Caledon (A/Capt. H.J. Haynes, DSO, DSC, RN), the destroyers HMS Paladin (Cdr. A.D. Pugsley, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMAS Nestor (Cdr. A.S. Rosenthal, DSO and Bar, RAN), HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN) and HMS Express (Lt.Cdr. F.J. Cartwright, RN).
At Trincomalee: The flagship of the Eastern Fleet, the battleship HMS Warspite (Capt. F.E.P. Hutton, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN), the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes (Capt. R.F.J. Onslow, DSC, MVO, RN), light cruisers HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN) and HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Cdr. E.J. van Holte, RNN), the destroyer HMAS Vampire (Cdr. W.T.A. Moran, RAN). HMS Warspite departed Trincomalee this day and arrived at Colombo in the evening. HMS Hermes and HMAS Vampire also departed Trincomalee on the 29th.
At Addu Atoll; The battleships HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN , flying the flag of A/Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, DSO, RN, second in command Eastern Fleet), HMS Ramillies (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN), HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) the aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable (Capt. T.H. Troubridge, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral D.W. Boyd, CBE, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, DSO, RN), HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, DSC, RAN), HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. R.D.H.S. Pankhurst, RN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN), HMS Griffin (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN), HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. W. Harmsen, RNN).
The Japanese had been operating in the Indian Ocean in early March and more attacks were expected in this area by the Allies. The most likely target would be the island of Ceylon and the harbours of Colombo and Trincomalee.
30 and 31 March 1942.
Admiral Somerville therefore planned to concentrate the Eastern Fleet on the late afternoon / early evening of 31 March 1942 in position 04°40’N, 81°00’E. The fleet would then be divided in two groups; Force A (the fast division) was made up of the flagships, battleship HMS Warspite, both fleet carriers, HMS Indomitable and HMS Formidable. They were escorted by the cruisers HMS Cornwall, HMS Enterprise, HMS Emerald and six destroyers; HMAS Napier, HMAS Nestor, HMS Paladin, HMS Panther, HMS Hotspur and HMS Foxhound. This force would try to intercept the enemy and deliver a night air attack on the enemy with their carriers as the main target.
Force A would be covered by the slower Force B which was made up of the battleships HMS Resolution, HMS Ramillies, HMS Royal Sovereign and the light carrier HMS Hermes. Escort to these ships was proviced by the cruisers HMS Dragon, HMS Caledon, HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck and a total of eight destroyers HMS Griffin, HMS Decoy, HMAS Norman, HMS Fortune, HrMs Isaac Sweers, HMS Arrow and one of the old destroyers that had managed to escape from the China station also joined, this was HMS Scout (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) H. Lambton, RN). They were to remain about 20 nautical miles to the west of Force A. If Force A encountered a superior enemy force the would withdraw towards Force B.
At 1400/30 the ships mentioned earlier at the top of this article departed Colombo. HMS Hotspur and HMAS Nestor carried out an A/S sweep of the searched channel before Force A sailed.
By 1600/31 the fleet had made the pre-arranged rendez-vous and formed up. It then proceeded northwards. After dark, to avoid detection from the air by the enemy, Force A altered course to 080° and proceeded at 15 knots until about 0230 hours when it was thought they would be in the estimated position from where the enemy would fly off their aircraft for the expected attack on Ceylon. If nothing was sighted or located by 0230/1, Force A was to turn back to the south-west and to withdraw outside the enemy’s air search area. Force B was to act as a supporting force for Force A, keeping 20 miles to the west of it and confirming to the movements of Force A through the night. This procedure was carried out as planned during the night of 31 March / 1 April but nothing was seen or located.
In the late afternoon / early evening of 31 March HMS Indomitable briefly separated from the fleet for flying operations during which she was escorted by HMS Emerald. From 2100/31 to 0600/1 a search was carried out, to a depth of 120 miles from 050° to 110°, by three A.S.V. fitted Albacores from HMS Formidable. Also two Albacores fitted with long-range tanks were kept standing by for shadowing purposes if required. One of the Albacores crash landed on HMS Formidable upon return at 0340/1.
1 April 1942.
At 0940 hours HMS Decoy reported the breakdown of her main feed pumps. She was detached to Colombo to effect repairs.
Around noon several of the destroyers reported submerged contacts. HMS Scout reported sighting a periscope. The fleet took avoiding action in each case, but nothing further transpired from these contact which are now considered to be non-sub.
At 1400 hours, HMS Scout, one of the oldest destroyers of the Royal Navy with a short enducance, was detached to oil at sea from RFA Appleleaf (5892 GRT, built 1917, Master E. Mills) in position 04°00’N, 80°00’E. Upon completion of oiling HMS Scout was to proceed to position 05°40’N, 81°08’E by 0800/2. RFA Appleleaf and her escort, HMS Shoreham (Cdr. E. Hewitt, RD, RNR), were to proceed towards a new waiting position 05°00’N, 80°30’E.
In the afternoon, around 1420 hours, HMS Dorsetshire joined Force A. This cruiser had been refitting at Colombo but this refit was cut short to enable her to take part in this operation. Air searches were carried out from Ceylon as the days before but they sighted nothing of the enemy. Also from 1430/1800 hours a search was carried out by aircraft from HMS Indomitable between 142° to 207° to a depth of 215 miles. Admiral Somerville decided to carry out the same sweep to the north-east as had been done the previous night. Again nothing was seen and Force A made rendez-vous with Force B at daybreak on 2 April 1942.
2 April 1942.
At 0800 hours the destroyers HMS Fortune and HMAS Vampire were detached to fuel from RFA Appleleaf in position 05°00’N, 80°30’E. and an Albacore was ordered to search for HMS Scout and order her to rejoin the fleet. Shortly after noon the fleet sighted RFA Appleleaf, HMS Shoreham, HMS Fortune and HMAS Vampire. The last two ships then rejoined the fleet while the tanker and it’s escort were ordered to proceed towards Colombo at 1200/3.
During the day the Eastern Fleet cruised in an area about 50 miles further to the west then the previous day to avoid being detected by enemy submarines that had been reported. Throughout the day several of the escorting destroyers obtained unconfirmed echoes. Two more destroyers fuelled during the afternoon, HMAS Napier and HMS Arrow took in fuel from HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall.
As the enemy had not shown herself by 2100 hours, Admiral Somerville decided to proceed to Addu Atoll to fuel and to take on fresh water as the R-class battleships were running out of this as they had been unable to top up at Addu Atoll before they sailed.
3 April 1942.
At 0520 hours, the destroyer HMS Fortune was detached to search for survivors from the merchant vessel Glensheil (9415 GRT, built 1924) that had been torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-7 in position 00°48’S, 78°35’E at 0230 hours. HMS Fortune picked up 88 survivors and then proceeded to Addu Atoll where she arrived at 1130/4.
As at this time Admiral Somerville felt confident that something must have held up the Japanese or that their intentions were incorrectly appreciated. At 0940 hours, he sent HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall to Colombo. The former to continue her refit and the latter to act as escort for the Australian troop convoy SU 4. HMS Hermes and the destroyer HMAS Vampire were also detached but to Trincomalee as HMS Hermes was to prepare for the upcoming operation ‘Ironclad’, the attack on Madagascar. HMS Hermes and HMAS Vampire arrived at Trincomalee on the 4th.
Late in the morning three of the destroyers of the screen oiled from the battleships; HMAS Norman from HMS Warspite, HMS Griffin from HMS Revenge and HMS Foxhound from HMS Royal Sovereign.
At 1820 hours Force A proceeded ahead to Addu Atoll at 19 knots followed by Force B at 15 knots. Force A arrived at Addu Atoll at 1200/4. Force B at 1500/4.
4 April 1942.
In the early morning hours, and while approaching Addu Atoll, a simulated air strike was carried out on Force B by aircraft from HMS Indomitable and HMS Formidable. One aircraft crashed into the sea, it’s crew was picked up by the Dutch AA-cruiser Jacob van Heemskerck. A second simulated air attack was made on Force A later in the morning.
At 1630 hours, Admiral Somerville received a report that a large enemy force was in position 00°40’N, 83°10’E at 1605/F. Enemy course was 315°. Shortly afterwards this report was confirmed by another report in which they gave an enemy course of 330°. This positioned the enemy in a position 155° from Dondra Head, 360 miles, the distance from Addu Atoll being 085°, 600 miles. There was no indication about the composition of this force.
The condition of the Eastern Fleet at Addu Atoll at that time was as follows; Owning to the limited number of oilers available, the vessels comprising Force A had taken about half their fuel and Force B had not yet commenced fuelling. In addition the ‘R’-class battleships were very short of water which had to be taken in before they could sail. This meant that Force A could sail immediately, minus HMS Emerald and HMS Enterprise. These cruisers could sail shortly after midnight. Force B could not leave until 0700 hours the following morning at the earliest.
It appeared that the enemy’s probable plan was as follows. All the evidence supported Admiral Somerville’s original appreciation that the enemy would attack Colombo (and possibly Trincomalee) with carrier borne aircraft either before dawn or shortly afterwards and would return to the carriers in a position about 150 miles south-east of Ceylon. On completion the whole force would then withdraw to the east. The enemy’s reported position made it apparent that this attack was to be made on the morning of 5 April 1942.
Admiral Somerville considered his possible courses of action were as follows: 1) Force A, less HMS Emerald and HMS Enterprise to proceed immediately at best speed to the area to the south of Ceylon and to be joined there by HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall coming from Colombo and attack any enemy force located. 2) Delay the sailing of Force A until HMS Emerald and HMS Enterprise, valuable units with their strong torpedo armament, had completed refuelling and sail about midnight. Force B could sail in the morning of the 5th and follow astern to act as a supporting force. 3) Delay the sailing of Force A until both force could leave together on the morning of the 5th. 4) Force A and Force B would remain at Addu Atoll and leave the RAF to deal with the enemy attack.
The choise Admiral Somerville made was governed by the following considerations: 1) First and foremost the total defence of the Indian Ocean and it’s vital lines of communication depend on the existence of the Eastern Fleet. The longer this fleet remained ‘in being’ the longer it would limit and check the enemy’s advances against Ceylon and further west. This major policy of retaining ‘a fleet in being’, already approved by Their Lordships, was, in Admiral Somerville’s opinion, paramount. 2) The only hope of dealing the enemy an affective blow was by means of a carrier borne air striking force preferably at night. To operate both carriers escorted by HMS Warspite out of supporting distance of the ‘R’-class battleships would offer the enemy an opportunity to cripple our only offensive weapon. Admiral Somerville considered it a cardinal point in any operation the Force A should not proceed out of the supporting distance from Force B unless it could be presumed that that enemy capital ships would not be encountered. 3) No matter what course of action Admiral Somerville would take the enemy force could not be intercepted either before or during the attack on Ceylon on the morning of the 5th. The only hope was that the air striking force from Ceylon might inflict damage to the enemy so that the Eastern Fleet could ‘finish them off’, or that the enemy attack on Ceylon would be delayed 24 hours.
Admiral Somerville therefore decided to adopt ‘plan 2’. So he sailed Force A including both E-class cruisers at midnight and ordered Force B to proceed as early as possible the following morning.
Admiral Somerville therefore instructed HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall to sail from Colombo and to make rendez-vous with Force A at 1600/5 in position 00°58’N, 77°36’E. The position of this rendez-vous was based on their expected time of departure from Colombo and estimated as being the earliest possible time at which they could cross the track of Force A, taking into consideration that HMS Dorsetshire had resumed her refit and was at extended notice. Admiral Somerville considered that the course to be steered should take them well clear of any enemy forces operating in the vicinity. Actually these instructions had been anticipated by the Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Fleet and these two cruisers, at his discretion, sailed at 2300/4 for Addu Atoll. On receipt of the signal from Admiral Somerville the Deputy Commander-in-Chief amended his instructions accordingly at 0409/5.
5 April 1942.
Force A sailed from Addu Atoll at 0015 hours and proceeded 070° at 18 knots towards a position which would bring it 250 miles south of Ceylon by dawn on the 6th. Shortly before departure the destroyer HMS Hotspur conducted an A/S search of the entrance to Addu Atoll.
During the night Admiral Somerville received reports from the Catalina reconnaissance aircraft on patrol from Ceylon of an enemy destroyer in position 01°59’N, 82°20’E, course 315°, speed 20 knots; six enemy destroyers in position 02°54’N, 82°10’E, course 325°, speed 21 knots; and at 0701 hours a report of one battleship, two cruisers an four other ships in position 195°, Dondra Head, 110 miles. Later this message was subsequently amplified to the effect that the vessels previously reported were definitely hostile and consisted of two battleships, two cruisers and destroyers.
At about 0825 hours an air raid on shipping and harbour facilities at Colombo was commenced in which some 75 aircraft were taking part. These were later reported to be mainly Navy ‘O’ fighters, armed with one bomb each. This enemy force withdrew from Colombo before 0900 hours and was seen by several merchant ships to the south-west of Ceylon probably returning to the carriers. In several cases these merchant were machine gunned.
From 0645 hours an air A/S patrol was maintained ahead of the fleet. HMS Indomitable also sent four Fulmars to commence a search to the eastward. This search covered the area between the arcs 055° to 105° to a depth of 215 miles. It proved negative except for the sighting of an enemy seaplane at 0855 hours, 076°, 150 miles from Force A. This suggested that the enemy was carrying out reconnaissance in a south-westerly direction by means of cruiser aircraft, or a seaplane carrier, in a position 70 miles of the main enemy force. There was no indication that this aircraft sighted any of our surface forces or our air search.
Between 0702 and 1145 hours, Admiral Somerville received reports of battleships in approximate positions 03°55’N, 80°40’E, steering 290° at 0648 hours, steering 120° at 0730 hours, and at 1004 hours in position 04°00’N, 80°25’E steering 282°. This suggested that the battleships were making time while the carriers recovered their aircraft. The estimated position of HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall at this time was 150 miles from the enemy and opening.
At 1327 hours a mutilated ‘Shad’ signal was received from what was thought to be Colombo but was identified half an hour later as coming from HMS Dorsetshire whose position was estimated as being 037°, 90 miles from Force A at 1400 hours. No contact could be established.
At 1344 hours an enemy air formation was detected by RD/F, 030°, 84 miles from Force A. This had faded after five minutes and it later it became clear that this was the enemy attacking the Dorsetshire and Cornwall. At 1552 hours, a reconnaissance aircraft from Force A, reported wreckage in position 02°08’N, 78°08’E.
The destroyer HMS Panther was then detached to search but was recalled about one hour later when a reconnaissance aircraft from Force A reported a force of 5 ‘unknown’ ships in position 03°38’N, 78°18’E at 100 hours. There was no indication of the course or speed of the enemy but it could be either a force previously unreported or the force previously and last reported 1004 hours.
No relief shadowers were however sent off by the Rear-Admiral aircraft carriers as soon s the report was received and Admiral Somerville omitted to obtain confirmation that this had been done. At 1700 hours, Admiral Somerville, received a report from Ceylon that there were indications of enemy aircraft carriers steering 230° at 24 knots from an unknown position at 1400 hours. This was thought to be subsequent to the attack on our 8” cruisers and Admiral Somerville’s deductions from this enemy moves were as follows. If the enemy held on this course they would at 0400 be in a position to deliver a night attack on Addu Atoll. This seemed quite a possible course of action. In any case it was necessary for Force A to keep clear to the southward and for Force B (estimated to be 135 miles astern of Force A) to steer to the southward so that Force A and B could close for supporting action at daylight the following morning (April 6th). It was also necessary for Force B to steer to the southward to keep clear of the enemy carrier force should it be proceeding to attack Addu Atoll.
At 1726 hours, therefore, Force A altered course to 210° at 18 knots and a signal was made to Vice-Admiral second-in-Command and to HMS Dorsetshire to steer south, although at this time Admiral Somerville feared about the fate of the two heavy cruisers. As he had received no signal from them that they had been attacked he thought it possible they had escaped and maintained W/T silence.
At 1800 hours Admiral Somerville received a signal from the Rear-Admiral Aircraft Carriers, stating that a reconnaissance aircraft reported the estimated enemy position as 020°, 120 miles at 1710 hours. This position was very close to the previous position reported at 1600 hours. The course of the enemy had not been given in either of these reports but the positions fitted in well with the course received earlier (230°).
At 1817 hours, a further signal was received from the Rear-Admiral Aircraft Carriers, adjusting the 1600 hours position of the enemy’s force, amplifying it to include two carriers and three unknown vessels and giving the course north-west. This was the first indication Admiral Somerville had of the enemy now proceeding to the north-west. He immediately ordered force A to alter course to 315° and instructed the Vice-Admiral, second-in-Command to conform. These movements had to object of keeping Force A within night air striking distance of the enemy force, trusting to an A.S.V. (airborne surface vessel radar) search to locate the enemy and to bring Force B within supporting distance should it be necessary to retire in that direction. A dawn rendez-vous was arranged with Force B in approximate position 03°00’N, 75°00’E.
As no news had been received of HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall it was assumed they had been sunk.
At 1930 hours a night search with A.S.V. aircraft was commenced to cover the sector 345° to 030° to a depth of 180 nautical miles. Northing was located on this search.
6 April 1942.
From 2100/5 to 0600/6 further A.S.V. searches were carried out to cover the sector 020° to 080° to a depth of 200 miles. These searches also failed to make any contact with the enemy but reported that Force B was 220°, 25 miles from Force A at 0400 hours.
At 0615 hours, Force A altered course to 135° and sighted Force B ten minutes later. By 0720 hours the Fleet was formed up and course was altered to 090°.
Whilst no furher information had been received regarding the enemy’s movements nothing had occurred to diminish the possibility of the enemy’s being in the vicinity of Addu Atoll, either to attack it by air this morning or to await the return of the Eastern Fleet.
Admiral Somerville intended to keep clear of the superior enemy forces by day. It was still his intention to get into a position to attack them with a night air striking force on their possible return from at Addu Atoll area, and also rescue the possible survivors from HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall. He therefore steered east and at 1115 hours course was altered to south-east in the direction of the wreckage that had been reported the previous evening. During the morning reports came in from merchant ships being attacked in the Bay of Bengal. There must be a second Japanese force operating there.
At 1300 hours HMS Enterprise, HMS Paladin and HMS Panther were detached to search for survivors in the vicinity of the wreckage position. Air search was provided to assist and fighter escort was sent to cover the operation. These ships were successful in picking up a total of 1122 survivors from both heavy cruisers. They rejoined the fleet at noon the following day. At 1800/6, when about 50 miles from the wreckage position course was reversed and the fleet retired to the north-west. All-round air searches were carried out to a depth of 200 miles but again nothing was seen.
At about 1400 hours a signal was received from the C-in-C, Ceylon estimating that a strong Japanese force was still somewhere between Addu Atoll and Colombo. Admiral Somerville therefore decided to keep clear of the Addu area until daylight on the 7th.
7 April 1942.
At 0200 hours the Eastern Fleet altered course to the west, 270°.
At 0427 hours, an A.S.V. aircraft located two submarines in position 02°08’N, 75°16’E and 02°46’N, 75°10’E, to the southward of the course of the Eastern Fleet. This indicated that the possibility of an enemy submarine patrol having been established to cover the eastern approaches to Addu Atoll. Admiral Somerville therefore decided to pass through Veimandu Channel to the west of the Maldives and make an unexpected approach to Addu Atoll from the west. At 0700 hours the course of the fleet was altered to 210°.
At 1335 hours, HMS Fortune was detached to investigate a ship contact made by HMS Emerald but no ship was sighted. Fortune only rejoined the fleet at about 0600/8.
At 1600 hours, HMS Enterprise, HMS Paladin and HMS Panther rejoined with the survivors they had picked up and medical stores were transferred from HMS Warspite to HMS Paladin for treatment of the wounded. Enterprise and Paladin were then detached to proceed immediately to Addu Atoll.
At 2100 hours, the Eastern Fleet altered course to 160°.
8 April 1942.
At 0700 hours aircraft were flown off from the carriers to carry out an all-round search to a depth of 175 miles. Again nothing was seen and at 1100 hours the Eastern Fleet entered Addu Atoll. Refuelling commenced immediately, Force B being refuelled first.
Admiral Somerville held a conference on board HMS Warspite with Flag and Commanding Officers in the afternoon.
Having discussed the situation Admiral Somerville decided to sent Force B to Kilindini and to proceed to Bombay with Force A. This later decision coincided with Their Lordships views as later in the day he received Their Lordships instructions that Force A was not to be sent to Colombo for the time being. Further by proceeding to Bombay the could arrange a meeting with the Commander-in-Chief, India and discuss the situation in the Far East with him.
At 1800 hours HMAS Nestor departed Addu Atoll to maintain an A/S patrol in the sector between 090° to 150° to a depth of 35 miles from the Port War Signal Station. One hour earlier HMS Resolution launched her Walrus aircraft for a ‘round the island’ A/S patrol. It returned at dusk.
9 April 1942.
Force B (less HMS Dragon sailed for Kilindini at 0200 hours where it was due to arrive on April 15th. Force A sailed at 0600 hours for Bombay shaping course to pass to the westward of the Maldives.
During the morning Admiral Somerville was informed of further Japanese attacks in the Bay of Bengal and on Trincomalee and the sinking of several ships, including HMS Hermes and HMAS Vampire but nothing could be done about this.
10 April 1942.
At 1000 hours HMS Panther closed HMS Warspite to transfer Staff Officers for passage to Colombo where they were to inform the Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Fleet of Admiral Somerville’s views and make preliminary arrangements to transfer Admiral Somerville’s administrative staff and secretariat to Kilindini.
11 April 1942.
At 0705 hours, HMS Paladin rejoined Force A bringing back the Staff Officers who had been transferred to her on 10 April and also Rear-Admiral Danckwerts, Admiral Somerville’s Chief of Staff ashore. Force A arrived at Bombay later that morning (1040 hours) and commenced oiling.
Japanese operation in the Indian Ocean in late March 1942 and April 1942.
On 26 March 1943 the 1st Japanese Carrier Fleet departed Staring Bay, Celebes, Netherlands East Indies for a raid on Ceylon. This Fleet was made up of the aircraft carriers Akagi, Hiryu, Soryu, Zuikaku, Shokaku, battlecruisers Kongo, Haruna, Hiei, Kirishima, heavy cruisers Tone, Chikuma and the destroyers Urakaze, Tanikaze, Isokaze, Hamakaze, Kasumi, Arare, Kagero, Shiranuhi and Akigumo. This force then proceeded west of Timor and to a position to the south of Java where they fuelled from oilers on April 1st.
On 1 April the Japanese Mayala Force departed Mergui for operations in the Bay of Bengal. This force was made up of the heavy cruisers Chokai, Kumano, Mikuma, Mogami, Suzuya, aircraft carrier Ryujo, light cruiser Yura, and the destroyers Fubuki, Shirayuki, Hatsuyuki and Murakumo. On 4 April the estroyers were substituted for four other destroyers; Amagiri, Asagiri, Shirakumo and Yugiri.
On 5 April the Japanse 1st Carrier Fleet launched their air attack on Colombo. 53 bombers, 38 dive bombers and 36 fighters were launched. They destroyed 19 Hurricane fighters, 1 Fulmar fighter and 6 Swordfish torpedo bombers. At Colombo the harbour facilities were heavily damaged and the armed merchant cruiser HMS Hector and destroyer HMS Tenedos were sunk.
Then around noon a reconnaissance aircraft from the Tone sighted the heavy cruisers HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall. The 1st Carrier Fleet immediately launched an attack force of 53 dive bombers that sank both cruisers with the loss of 424 members of their crews (Dorsetshire 234 and Cornwall 190). The Japanese then retired to the south-east.
In the evening of 5 April the Japanese Malaya-Force was ordered to commence attacking Allied shipping along the Indian east coast. On 6 April the northern group (Kumano, Suzuya and Shirakumo destroyed 9 ships off Puri (Orissa). The central group (Chokai, Yura, Asagiri and Yugiri) sank 4 ships. The southern group (Mikuma, Mogami and Amagiri sank 3 ships and damaged 2 more. Meanwhile aircraft from the carrier Ryuju, which operated with the central group, sank 4 more ships and damaged 1 more. In all about 92000 GRT of shipping was sunk.
On 8 April 1942 a Catalina aircraft spotted the Japanese 1st Carrier Fleet proceeding for an attack on Trincomalee but the Eastern Fleet was approaching Addu Atoll to refuel and could do nothing. Shipping at Trincomalee was ordered to leave port and proceed to the southward. In the morning of the following day 91 Japanese bombers and 41 fighters attacked Trincomalee. They destoyed 9 Hurricane and Fulmar fighters and 14 aircraft on the ground. The harbour most mostly empty but they sank a merchant vessel and 4 aircraft it had on board and not unloaded yet. Also the British monitor HMS Erebus (Capt. H.F. Nalder, RN) was damged. The Japanese 1st Carrier Fleet was then attacked by 9 Blenheim bombers but they inflicted no damage for 5 of their own lost to Japanese fighter cover. Then Japanese reconnaissance aircraft from the Haruna sighted ships escaping southwards. 85 Dive bombers and 3 fighters were then launched which sank HMS Hermes and HMAS Vampire as well as the corvette HMS Hollyhock (Lt.Cdr. T.E. Davies, OBE, RNR), two tankers and a merchant ship.
By mid-April 1942 all Japanese forces had returned to their bases. (4)
20 Apr 1942
Shortly after midnight 'Force A' of the Eastern Fleet departed Bombay for Colombo. 'Force A' was now made up of the battleship HMS Warspite (Capt. F.E.P. Hutton, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Indomitable (Capt. T.H. Troubridge, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral D.W. Boyd, CBE, DSC, RN), HMS Formidable (Capt. A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN), light cruisers HMS Newcastle (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN), HMS Enterprise (Capt. J.C.A. Annesley, DSO, RN), AA cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Cdr. E.J. van Holte, RNN) and the destroyers HMS Paladin (Cdr. A.D. Pugsley, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMAS Nestor (Cdr. A.S. Rosenthal, DSO and Bar, RAN), HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN) and HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN). (5)
23 Apr 1942
HMS Warspite (Capt. F.E.P. Hutton, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN), HMS Indomitable (Capt. T.H. Troubridge, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral D.W. Boyd, CBE, DSC, RN), HMS Formidable (Capt. A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN), HMS Newcastle (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN), HMS Enterprise (Capt. J.C.A. Annesley, DSO, RN), HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Cdr. E.J. van Holte, RNN), HMS Paladin (Cdr. A.D. Pugsley, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMAS Nestor (Cdr. A.S. Rosenthal, DSO and Bar, RAN), HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN) HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN) and HMS Scout (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) H. Lambton, RN) arrived at Colombo. This last destroyer had joined the previous day coming from Cochin. (5)
24 Apr 1942
Force A, made up of; battleship HMS Warspite (Capt. F.E.P. Hutton, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Indomitable (Capt. T.H. Troubridge, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral D.W. Boyd, CBE, DSC, RN), HMS Formidable (Capt. A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN), light cruisers HMS Newcastle (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN), HMS Enterprise (Capt. J.C.A. Annesley, DSO, RN), AA cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Cdr. E.J. van Holte, RNN) and the destroyers HMS Paladin (Cdr. A.D. Pugsley, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMAS Nestor (Cdr. A.S. Rosenthal, DSO and Bar, RAN), HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN) and HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN). The armed merchant cruiser HMS Alaunia (Capt.(Retd.) E.N. Kershaw, RN) also sailed with 'Force A'. She had on board many staff personnel that she was to take to Kilindini where the HQ of the Eastern Fleet was going to be based for the moment.
Aircraft of the carriers had to be flown on during the day but bad weather conditions prevented this and it had to be postponed. HMS Alaunia was therefore sent ahead escorted by HMS Emerald. They rejoined 'Force A' on 27 April.
At 1830/26 HMS Indomitable escorted by HMS Paladin and HMS Panther were detached to fuel in the Seychelles and then proceed on other duties. (5)
30 Apr 1942
'Force A', now made up of the battleship HMS Warspite (Capt. F.E.P. Hutton, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN), light cruisers HMS Newcastle (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN), HMS Enterprise (Capt. J.C.A. Annesley, DSO, RN), AA cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Cdr. E.J. van Holte, RNN) and the destroyers HMAS Nestor (Cdr. A.S. Rosenthal, DSO and Bar, RAN), HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN) and HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN) arrived off the Seychelles.
As not all ships could fuel at the same time the force had to to be split into two groups. It was also decided that fuelling would be done during daylight. Therefore HMS Formidable escorted by HMS Newcastle were ordered to make a detour to the west. The other ships, including all four destroyers, proceeded to Port Victoria to fuel. Fuelling was completed at 1800/30 and the ships returned to sea less the Dutch AA cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck which was to depart for South Africa the next morning to make repairs to her rudder for which she was to be docked.
At dawn on 1 May rendez-vous was made with HMS Formidable and HMS Newcastle after which they were detached with the four destroyers for Port Victoria to fuel there. They rejoined at 2100/1. HMS Warspite, HMS Emerald and HMS Enterprise had made a detour to the southwest during the day.
So in the evening of the 1st of May all ships in 'Force A' had completed fuelling. (5)
4 Jul 1942
Convoy WS 19L.
This convoy departed Capetown on 4 July 1942.
It was made up of the following (troop) transports; J.W. McAndrew (American, 7997 GRT, built 1940), Laconia (British, 19695 GRT, built 1922), Mexico (American, 5236 GRT, built 1932), Orontes (British, 20097 GRT, built 1929), Santa Elena (American, 9135 GRT, built 1933), Santa Rose (American, 9135 GRT, built 1932) and Strathallan (British, 23722 GRT, built 1938).
They were escorted by the AA cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Cdr. E.J. van Holte, RNN) which had joined them off Capetown after having come from Simonstown herself.
Around 1300B/7, they were joined by the Durban section of the convoy. This was made up of the Cristobal (American, 10021 GRT, built 1939), Viceroy of India (British, 19627 GRT, built 1929) and Warwick Castle (British, 20107 GRT, built 1930) which were escorted by the light cruiser HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.D. Stephens, RN). They had departed Durban shorly before. HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck then proceeded to Durban to fuel and then rejoin the convoy which she did around 0800B/8.
Around 2359B/8, HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck parted company in approximate position 27°53'S, 47°25'E.
Around 0350D/11, the Laconia was detached as she was unable to keep up with the convoy. She was to join another (slower) convoy coming from South Africa.
Around 1600D/13, the Warwick Castle parted company with the convoy in approximate position 06°10'S, 47°03'E to proceed to Kilindini / Mombasa. She was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Caledon (A/Capt. H.J. Haynes, DSO, DSC, RN) which had come out from there for that purpose.
Around 1530D/14, HMS Mauritius parted company with the convoy which had been joined shortly before by the heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire (Capt. R.D. Oliver, CBE, DSC, RN) and the ship she had been escorting, the American USS Orizaba (American, 6937 GRT, built 1918).
The convoy arrived at Aden on 17 July. (3)
30 Jul 1942
Diversionary operation in the Bay of Bengal.
The object of this diversionary operation in which landings on the Andaman Islands simulated was to distract Japanese naval forces in conjunction with American operations in the Solomons.
To simulate landing forces three convoys were to leave India and Ceylon. These were; ' Force V ', sailing from Vizagapatam. Tansports Blackheath (British, 4637 GRT, built 1936), Cranfield (British, 5332 GRT, built 1919) and Mahout (British, 7921 GRT, built 1925). These ships were escorted by the sloop HMIS Jumna (Cdr. J.E.N. Coope, RIN, Senior Officer) and the destroyer HMS Scout (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) H. Lambton, RN).
' Force M ', sailing from Madras Transports Clan McIver (British, 4606 GRT, built 1921), Custodian (British, 5881 GRT, built 1928), Hoperange (British, 5177 GRT, built 1939), Tasmania (British, 6405 GRT, built 1935) and Yuen Sang (British, 3229 GRT, built 1923). These ships were escorted by the fast minelayer HMS Manxman (Capt. R.K. Dickson, RN, Senior Officer), corvette HMS Aster (Lt. W.L. Smith, RNR) and patrol vessel HMIS Sonavati (T/A/Lt.Cdr. C.F. Smith, RINR).
' Force T ', sailing from Trincomalee Transport (RAF Tender) Shengking (British, 2999 GRT, built 1931) and the tankers Marit Maersk (Danish, 1894 GRT, built 1938), Appleleaf (Royal Fleet Auxiliary, 5892 GRT, built 1917) and Broomdale (Royal Fleet Auxiliary, 8334 GRT, built 1937). These ships were escorted by the sloop HMIS Hindustan (A/Cdr. I.B.W Heanly, RIN, Senior Officer) and the corvette HMS Marguerite (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Blundell, RNR).
These forces were to proceed at best speed and reverse their course after dark at 1700Z/1 and return to their ports at best speed to arrive there before dusk on 2 August 1942.
' Force A ' of the Eastern Fleet was to sail from Colombo at 0400Z/31 so as to be eastward of Trincomalee by the time ' Force T ' was due to sail on the 1st August. Thereafter, ' Force A ' was to cover ' Force T ' from the eastward during the 1st and 2nd August. Subsequent movements of ' Force A ' were to depend on the situation, the force finally returning to Colombo about the 4th August.
During the night of 1/2 August, whilst forces are at sea, a wireless diversion (called Operation Spark) was to be carried out to simulate the following events. 1.) An imaginary collision was to occur in ' Force M '. 2.) One of the damaged ships was to make a plain language W/T signal reporting she had been in collision and is unable to proceed on the operation. One of the escort was to order her to keep silence and later to report to the Commander-in-Chief that ' Force M ' was unable to proceed. The Commander-in-Chief was then to postpone the operation and order all forces to return to their ports. 3.) Shore Wireless Stations were to carry out their normal W/T procedure.
Catalina Patrols were to be established well to the eastward to cover the three convoys during the short period they were at sea and ' Force A ' whilst operating in the Bay of Bengal.
At 2200F/30, the Commander-in-Chief received the following enemy report from the Dutch submarine HrMs O 23 (Lt.Cdr. A.M. Valkenburg, RNN) which was on patrol in the Malacca Straits: ' Two cruisers of the Takao-class and four destroyers in position 05°32'N, 98°50'E. Course 340°. Speed 14 knots. Torpedoes missed. Time of Origin of the signal of HrMs O 23 was 2352Z/28.
It seemed unlikely that the enemy cruiser force, moving northwards close to the Thailand coast, was a sign of enemy reaction to the 'planted' rumours in India that seaborne forces wear being prepared to attack the Andaman Island. A more probable reason to account for this movement was a possible raid on shipping in the northern part of the Bay of Bengal or a visit to Rangoon to coincide with the establishment of the new Burmese puppet government.
HrMs O 23 was due to leave patrol in the Malacca Straits on the 31st July and return to Colombo. In view of the enemy forces reported previously by her and the forthcoming Operation Stab, she was ordered to remain on patrol until 3rd August.
Forces ' T ' and ' M ' were provided with air cover (this was not possible for ' Force V '), both by the long range reconnaissance Catalina patrols and local fighter escort, and in addition would have Force A covering them to the eastward, but ' Force V ' would be without air cover and too far away to be covered by ' Force A '. The Commander-in-Chief therefore decided to cancel the sailing of ' Force V ', but that all preparations for its departure were to continue.
In view of the enemy cruisers reported in the Malacca Straits on 29th July, The Commander-in-Chief decided to proceed with ' Force A ' from Colombo in the afternoon of 30 July. This would enable operation Stab to be carried out on the prearranged date and also admit of intercepting the Japanese force should it venture to the southern part of the Bay of Bengal.
' Force A ', comprising the battleship HMS Warspite (Capt. F.E.P. Hutton, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Illustrious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral D.W. Boyd, CBE, DSC, RN), HMS Formidable (Capt. A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN), light cruisers HMS Birmingham (Capt. H.B. Crane, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.D. Stephens, RN), AA cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Cdr. E.J. van Holte, RNN) and the destroyers HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, DSO, RN), HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr M.J. Clark, DSC, RAN), HrMs Van Galen (Lt.Cdr. F.T. Burghard, RNN) and HMS Inconstant (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN) sailed from Colombo at 1700F/30.
Course was shaped to keep out of sight of land and to be in a position 35 miles to eastward of Trincomalee by 1000F/1.
Two air searches were sent out from ' Force A ' on 31st July. The first at 0800F to cover the section 050° to 080° ahead of the fleet to a depth of 150 miles; and the second at 1500F to search the sector 000° to 110° to a depth of 160 miles. Nothing was seen in either search.
Since no further information of the enemy cruiser force had been received, the Commander-in-Chief decided at 1100F/31 to postpone the sailing of ' Force M ' until 4 hours later and ordered a Catalina patrol to the north eastward of this force whilst at sea so as to give warning of approach of any possible enemy forces.
' Force T ' sailed from Trincomalee at the prearranged time, 0900F/1. At that time ' Force A ' was 40 miles north-east of Trincomalee, course south-west. At 1000F/1 course was altered to north-east, parallel to that of ' Force T ', and throughout the day, ' Force A ' maintained a covering position to the north-east of ' Force T '.An air reconnaissance was flown off at 0830F/1 to cover the section 340° to 000° to 130° to a depth of 150 nautical miles. This search saw nothing.
At 1040F/1, when ' Force A ' was in position 09°00'N, 21°42'E, 40 nautical miles north-east of Trincomalee, course northeast, an RDF contact was obtained on an aircraft bearing 100° range 73 miles. This was at first through to be one of the reconnaissance aircraft returning, but the absence of IFF indication being the unfortunately the rule rather than the exception. This aircraft was tracked around the fleet and passed astern at 1130F/1 on a bearing 220°, range 24 miles thence proceeded to the north-westward and finally faded on bearing 060° at 60 miles at 1215F/1. The aircraft was sighted by HMS Formidable and identified by two officers and an air lookout as a Catalina and reported as such. HMS Formidable did not send out fighters to investigate. Although the prearranged programme of the Catalina reconnaissance did not suggest one of these aircraft should be acting in this manner, the possibility was accepted in view of the lack of training of many of the newly arrived Catalina crews. Subsequent investigations and a warning of the presence of British forces broadcast from Tokyo established this was an enemy aircraft.
At noon a fighter umbrella of two Martlets was maintained by HMS Illustrious. One Martlet crashed into the barrier on deck landing. The need to economise on the fighter umbrella was governed by the necessity of conserving the Martlets. Had the aircraft referred earlier not been wrongly identified as a Catalina, The Commander-in-Chief was convinced that it could have been intercepted by Martlets that were ranged at readiness in both aircraft carriers.
A further air search was sent out at 1500F/1 to cover the sector from 000° to 110° to a depth of 150 miles but nothing was seen.
At 1800F/1, one of the Fulmar search aircraft made an emergency landing on HMS Illustrious, but crashed on desk due to a fractured oil pipe spraying the pilot’s windscreen, and was badly damaged.
At 1830F/1, all the search aircraft except two Fulmars had returned to their carriers. The two missing aircraft reported to HMS Formidable by wireless that they were lost and requested D/F bearings. The Commander-in-Chief at once ordered wireless silence to be broken to home these aircraft. The fleet was turned at 1840F/1 to close one of the aircraft when bearing had been definitely established by D/F and RDF. Searchlights were burned at dusk to assist returning aircraft and at 1920F/1 Very’s lights were sighted to the south-west. A few minutes later one of the aircraft was sighted and closed the carriers. Unfortunately, the aircraft by this time so short of petrol that it had to force land in the sea. The crew were picked up by HMAS Norman.
By 2000F/1. ' Force A ', which had become somewhat dispersed during reversal of course and whilst locating the crew of the aircraft, was reformed and course altered to the north west. Unfortunately nothing further was heard or seen of the other missing Fulmar with the exception of one report that a light had been seen to the eastward. A night search for the survivors of this aircraft was considered, but as they would have left the convoy uncovered to the northeast, The Commander-in-Chief decided it was preferable to return to this area at dawn and carry out a daytime air search. The Commander-in-Chief therefore continued to the north-west and at 0100F/2 in position 11°30'N, 82°15'E, course was reversed to the south-east and at daylight course was altered to south.
The wireless diversion (Operation Spark) was carried out as previously arranged during the night at 2300F/1 and appears to have been fully effective.
At 0630F/2, a thorough air search was sent out to look for survivors of the Fulmar which had been lost the previous evening. Whilst this attack was continuing, ' Force A ' was manoeuvred in the area in which it was estimated that the survivors might have landed. No survivors were located and it must be presumed with regret that the crew of two was lost. Catalinas which would be operating through this area were requested to keep a good lookout for survivors.
At 1030F/2, despatches were transferred by HMAS Norman from HMS Warspite to HMS Illustrious and thence sent by aircraft to Trincomalee for onward transmission. At 1100F/2, HMS Formidable flew off two Martlets as fighter umbrella. At 1112F/2, both carriers reported RDF contact on an aircraft bearing 055°, range 55 miles. HMS Formidable directed two Martlets onto this aircraft. When the fighters sighted the enemy flying boat at 10000 feet they first thought it was a Catalina, but on approaching closely identified it as a Japanese flying boat Navy Type 97, and promptly shot it down in approximate position 09°26'N, 83°16'E. The flying boat, which appeared to be taken completely by surprise, gave no return fire and after the second burst of fire from the Martlets, caught fire, disintegrated and fell in flames. No survivors were seen.
In the meantime at 111F/2 a further two Martlets each were flown off by the carriers. One of these Martlets from HMS Formidable crashed into the sea on taking off. The pilot was rescued by HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck.
A fighter umbrella of two Martlets was maintained for the rest of the day by HMS Illustrious. At 1530F/2 one of these Martlets appeared to have an engine failure and crashed into the sea whilst approaching to land on. The pilot was lost.
At about 1100F/2, the Commander-in-Chief had received information from the Flag Officer, Ceylon that Air Headquarters Bengal considered there were indications of naval activity south of the Andamans at 2300Z/31, that pointed to the possibility of an attack on Madras at dawn on the 3rd August and that the information on which this was based was from a most secret source. Flag Officer, Ceylon, had also informed Admiralty and the Deputy Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet.
There was nothing in Air Headquarters Bengal signal to indicate what was the nature of the naval activity which had been reported nor the reliability of the source. The Commander-in-Chief immediately requested Flag Officer, Ceylon to obtain amplification of this report.
Although a dawn attack by this Japanese naval force on Madras on 3rd August was possible, The Commander-in-Chief considered the following factors would make it very improbable. 1.) ' Force A ', probably having been sighted by the Japanese flying boat A.M. 1st August. 2.) ' Force A ', breaking wireless silence to endeavour to recover aircraft on the evening of 1st August. 3.) The wireless diversion (Operation Spark), carried out on the night of 1st/2nd August.
Nevertheless the Commander-in-Chief felt that he could not disregard Air Headquarters Bengal report and he therefore decided to proceed at once to Trincomalee and refuel destroyers in preparation for an extension of the present operation. he informed Their Lordships of his intentions in his signal 1215Z/2. Course was altered at 1215F/2 to the westward and speed increased to reach Trincomalee before dark.
' Force A ' entered Trincomalee at 1915F/2 and refuelling of destroyers commenced at once and as completed at 2200F/2 when it had been intended that ' Force A ' should sail again.
Additional Catalina patrols had been arranged to cover the approaches to Madras from the east and south-east, from p.m. 2nd August until daylight 3rd August.
It was not until ' Force A ' arrived at Trincomalee at 1900F/2 that the Commander-in-Chief received a message from Air Headquarters India (Flag Officer Ceylon’s 0744/2) stated that they did not agree with the deductions nor authorize the message from Air Headquarters Bengal. After discussion with Rear Admiral Commanding, Aircraft Carriers and Rear Admiral Commanding Fourth Cruiser Squadron, the Commander-in-Chief decided that there was no real basis for this report and in view of HMS Formidable and HMS Birmingham being required at an early date to return to Kilindini for Operation Streamline Jane, the Commander-in-Chief decided the ' Force A ' should return to Colombo.
The Commander-in-Chief informed Their Lordships of his revised intentions in his message 1649Z/2.
' Force A ' sailed accordingly from Trincomalee at 0600F/3 and shaped course for Colombo keeping out of sight of land. During the day a safety patrol of one aircraft was maintained 30 miles ahead of the Fleet. This patrol was carried out by Walrus aircraft from cruisers during the afternoon but had to be cancelled owing to rising wind and sea. A fighter umbrella of two Martlets was maintained throughout the day.
At 1030F/3, HMS Manxman, who was returning from Madras to Colombo, as about 30 miles south-west of ' Force A '. An aircraft was sent to order her to join ' Force A ', which she did at 1300F/3.
At 1430F/3, HMS Illustrious obtained an RDF contact on an aircraft bearing 60° and at 1440F/3, HMS Warspite obtained a doubtful contact on the same bearing at a range of 50 miles. Both contacts faded ten minutes later. At that time ' Force A ' was in position approximately 06°40'N, 82°10'E. The RDF contact may have been a Japanese flying boat, but more probably an aircraft operating from China Bay as no Catalina were know to be in that area. The uncertainty and short duration of the contacts rendered fighter interception impracticable.
Before leaving Trincomalee the Commander-in-Chief had proposed to Air Officer Commanding, Ceylon that opportunity should be taken to exercise that Fighter Direction of shore based fighters from HM ships and any other air exercises he might wish to carry out.
From 1645F/3 to 1800F/3, successful fighter direction exercise was carried out using two Fulmars from HMS Illustrious as the enemy. R/T communication was obtained quickly and no difficulty experienced in directing the Hurricanes on to their target. From 1800F/3 till dusk these two Fulmars took over the duties of fighter umbrella.
The next air exercise was a night shadowing exercise and a night torpedo and bombing attack on the fleet.
At 1850F/3, HMS Illustrious reported an aircraft in sight bearing 190° and directed the fighter umbrella of two Fulmars to investigate. This aircraft which was clearly in sight from HMS Warspite was a flying boat just visible above the horizon and though it presented characteristics of a Catalina, it could not definitely be identified as such. HMS Illustrious directed the Fulmars on to the target, a warning being given by R/T that the aircraft was possibly friendly. Unfortunately the designation 'Bandit' i.e. enemy aircraft, as opposed to 'Bogey' i.e. unidentified aircraft, was employed by the Fighter Directing Officer. For this and other reasons which are being investigated by a Board of Enquiry one of the Fulmars opened fire on this flying boat, which proved to be a Catalina. Fire was ceased directly the pilot realized his mistake but the Commander-in-Chief regret to report that one airman was killed and two injured and the Catalina’s rudder damaged. The Fulmars returned to HMS Illustrious and from subsequent signals it appeared that the Catalina was still airborne and returning to her base. As a safety measure HMS Mauritius and HMS Manxman were detached to search the area in case the Catalina was forced to land, but were recalled when it was clear from RDF bearings that the Catalina was proceeding to Koggala.
During the night of 3rd/4th August the shore based reconnaissance aircraft were unable to locate ' Force A ' and in consequence no attacks were delivered. From 0530F/4 to 0645F/4 another fighter direction exercise with shore based aircraft was successfully carried out.
' Force A ' arrived at Colombo at 0900F/4. (4)
17 Aug 1942
HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN , flying the flag of A/Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, DSO, RN), HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. L.H. Ashmore, RN), HMS Dauntless (A/Capt. J.G. Hewitt, DSO, RN), HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, DSC, RAN), HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. C.J. Wynne-Edwards, DSC, RN), HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN) and HMS Blackmore (Lt. H.T. Harrel, RN) make rendez-vous with another group of warships which came from Colombo, these were HMS Warspite (Capt. F.E.P. Hutton, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN), HMS Illustrious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral D.W. Boyd, CBE, DSC, RN), HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.D. Stephens, RN), HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Cdr. E.J. van Holte, RNN), HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, DSO, RN), HMS Inconstant (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN), HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. R.D.H.S. Pankhurst, RN) and HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN).
Exercises were then carried out on the 17th and on the 18th all ships entered Kilindini. HMS Dauntless proceeded to Diego Suarez via Mayotte.
24 Aug 1942
During 24/25 August 1942, HMS Birmingham (Capt. H.B. Crane, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN) and HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Cdr. E.J. van Holte, RNN) conducted exercises off Kilindini. These included night exercises. (6)
29 Aug 1942
From 29 August to 1 September 1942 a large exercise was carried out with landings at Tanga, Dar es Salaam, and Zanzibar by Royal Marines and at Kilindini by the 29th Brigade.
Participating in the exercises were the battleships HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN , flying the flag of A/Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, DSO, RN, Second in Command, Eastern Fleet), HMS Warspite (Capt. F.E.P. Hutton, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, CinC Eastern Fleet), HMS Valiant (Capt. L.H. Ashmore, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral D.W. Boyd, CBE, DSC, RN), light cruisers HMS Gambia (Capt. M.J. Mansergh, CBE, RN), HMS Enterprise (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN), AA cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Capt. E.J. van Holte, RNN) and the destroyers HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, DSO, RN), HMAS Nepal (Cdr. F.B. Morris, RAN), HrMs Van Galen (Lt.Cdr. F.T. Burghard, RNN), HrMs Tjerk Hiddes (Lt.Cdr. W.J. Kruys, RNethN), HMS Inconstant (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN), HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. R.D.H.S. Pankhurst, RN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. C.J. Wynne-Edwards, DSC, RN), HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN) and HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN).
A/Vice-Admiral Willis was in command of the operation.
6 Sep 1942
' Force M ' made up of the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (Rear-Admiral A.W.laT. Bisset, RN), light cruiser HMS Birmingham (Capt. H.B. Crane, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN, Senior Officer Force M), AA cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Cdr. E.J. van Holte, RNN) and the destroyers HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, DSO, RN), HrMs Van Galen (Lt.Cdr. F.T. Burghard, RNN) and HrMs Tjerk Hiddes (Lt.Cdr. W.J. Kruys, RNN) sailed for the rendezvous position where all forces involved in the sheduled landings at Majunga on 10 September 1942 (Operation Stream) were to assemble.
[No further infomation available on Operation Stream for the moment, further research is required.] (4)
28 Nov 1942
The Australian light cruiser HMAS Adelaide (A/Capt. J.C.D. Esdaile, OBE, RAN) and the Dutch light cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Capt. E.J. van Holthe, RNN) intercept the German blockade runner Ramses (7983 GRT) in the Indian Ocean about 830 nautical miles west-south-west of North West Cape, Australia in position 23°30'S, 99°21'E. However before the German ship can be captured she is scuttled by her own crew.
18 Dec 1942
During 18/19 December 1942, HMS Devonshire (Capt. D. Young-Jamieson, RN) and HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Capt. E.J. van Holte, RNN) conducted exercises off Fremantle. These included night exercises. (7)
27 Jan 1943
HrMs Tromp (Capt. J.B. de Meester, RNN) departed Fremantle for exercises about 100 nautical miles west off Rottnest Island together with HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Capt. E.J. van Holthe, RNN) and HMAS Adelaide (A/Capt. J.C.D. Esdaile, OBE, RAN). (8)
1 Feb 1943
'Pamphlet' convoy, Suez - Sydney, 1 February to 27 February 1943.
This convoy, made up of the troopships Queen Mary (81235 GRT, built 1936), Aquitania (45647 GRT, built 1914), Ile de France (43548 GRT, built 1927, former French), Nieuw Amsterdam (36287 GRT, built 1938) and the British auxiliary cruiser Queen of Bermuda (A/Capt.(Retd.) the Hon. Sir A.D. Cochrane, DSO, RN) (22575 GRT, built 1933) were transporting 30000 men of the Australian 9th Division from Suez to Melbourne and Sydney.
This convoy had departed Suez on 1 February 1943 and were escorted during their passage through the Red Sea by the destroyers HMS Pakenham (Capt. E.B.K. Stevens, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN), HMS Isis (Cdr. B. Jones, DSC, RN), HMS Hero (Lt.Cdr. W. Scott, DSC and Bar, RN), RHS Vasilissa Olga (Lt.Cdr. G. Blessas, DSO, RHN) and the escort destroyer Derwent (Cdr. R.H. Wright, DSC, RN).
The convoy was joined around 1545C/4 by the heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire (Capt. D. Young-Jamieson, RN).
Around 1800E/6, HMS Hero and HMS Derwent parted company with the convoy to proceed to Aden.
Around 2000E/6, HMS Pakenham, HMS Petard, HMS Isis and RHS Vasilissa Olga parted company with the convoy to proceed to Aden.
The convoy entered Addu Atoll late in the afternoon / early in the evening of the 9th where all warships fuelled.
The convoy departed Addu Atoll to continue its passage to Australia in the afternoon of the 10th. The light cruiser HMS Gambia (Capt. M.J. Mansergh, CBE, RN) had joined the convoy escort.
Around 0030FG/11, HMS Quilliam and HMS Foxhound parted company to proceed to Addu Atoll.
Around 2000H/16, the AA cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Capt. E.J. van Holthe, RNN) joined the convoy in approximate position 27°41'S, 104°35'E.
Around 2000H/17, the destroyer HrMs Tjerk Hiddes (Lt.Cdr. W.J. Kruys, RNN) joined the convoy in approximate position 30°30'S, 112°52'E.
In the afternoon of the 18th the convoy arrived off Fremantle.
In the evening of the 20th the convoy departed Fremantle now escorted by the light cruisers HMAS Adelaide (A/Capt. J.C.D. Esdaile, OBE, RAN), HMS Tromp, AA cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck and the destroyers HrMs Van Galen and HrMs Tjerk Hiddes (Lt.Cdr. W.J. Kruys, RNN). HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck and HrMs Van Galen only remained with the convoy for a short period.
Around 1615 hours on the 24th the convoy was joined by the heavy cruiser Australia (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, MVO, DSO, RAN) and the destroyers USS Henley (Lt.Cdr. E.K. van Swearingen, USN) and USS Bagley (Lt.Cdr. T.E. Chambers, USN). The New Amsterdam escorted by HMAS Adelaide, HrMs Heemskerk and HrMs Tjerk Hiddes then departed the convoy and proceeded to Melbourne where they arrived arrived noon on the 25th. The other ships continued to Sydney.
In the afternoon of the 26th the HrMs Heemskerck rejoined the convoy. Later in the afternoon the destroyer Le Triomphant (Cdr. P.M.J.R. Auboyneau) also joined.
The convoy arrived at Sydney on the 27th.
18 Feb 1943
HMS Devonshire (Capt. D. Young-Jamieson, RN), HMS Gambia (Capt. M.J. Mansergh, CBE, RN), HrMs Tromp (Capt. J.B. de Meester, RNN), HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Capt. E.J. van Holthe, RNN), HrMs Van Galen (Lt.Cdr. F.T. Burghard, RNN) en HrMs Tjerk Hiddes (Lt.Cdr. W.J. Kruys, RNN) arrived at Fremantle with the Pamphlet convoy. (9)
10 Apr 1943
Convoy CO 87.
This convoy departed from Sydney and Newcastle on 3 April 1943.
The Sydney section was made up of the following transports; Cycle (Australian, 3952 GRT, built 1939), Montoro (British, 4057 GRT, built 1911) and Mundalla (Australian, 3018 GRT, built 1926).
On it's departure from Sydney it was escorted by the destroyer HMAS Stuart (Lt.Cdr. N.A. Mackinnon, RAN).
The Newcastle section was made up of the following transports; Adelong (Australian, 3576 GRT, built 1936), Enchunga (Australian, 3362 GRT, built 1922), Michael J. Goulandris (Greek, 6672 GRT, built 1921) and William McArthur (Australian, 2393 GRT, built 1924).
It was escorted by the minesweeper HMAS Bundaberg (Lt.Cdr. N.D. Pixley, RANR).
The two sections merged around 1730K/10. The AA cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Capt. E.J. van Holthe, RNN) also arrived near the convoy to provide cover during part of her passage to Fremantle.
The transport Iron Knob (Australian, 3349 GRT, built 1922) joined the convoy later coming from Port Kembla.
Around 0740K/13, convoy OC 87 was met and and both convoy exchanged escorts so HMAS Stuart and HMAS Bundaberg parted company and the A/S patrol vessel HMAS Doomba (T/A/Lt.Cdr. F.H. Reading, RANR(S)) joined.
The convoy arrived at Melbourne later on 13 April 1943.
18 May 1943
HrMs Tromp (Capt. J.B. de Meester, RNN) conducted exercises off Fremantle together with HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Capt. W. Harmsen, RNN), HrMs Tjerk Hiddes (Lt.Cdr. W.J. Kruys, RNN) and the US submarine USS Grayling (Cdr. J.E. Lee, USN). (11)
19 May 1943
HrMs Tromp (Capt. J.B. de Meester, RNN) conducted exercises off Fremantle together with HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Capt. W. Harmsen, RNN) and HrMs Tjerk Hiddes (Lt.Cdr. W.J. Kruys, RNN). (11)
7 Aug 1943
Around 1500FG/7, HMS Newcastle (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN) made rendezvous in approximate position 19°00'S, 94°40'E with the troopship Nieuw Amsterdam (Dutch, 36287 GRT, built 1938) and it's escort, the Dutch light cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Capt. W. Harmsen, RNN). (12)
14 Dec 1943
Convoy US 23.
This convoy departed Fremantle on 14 December 1943 and arrived at Bombay on 26 December 1943.
The convoy was made up of the (troop)transports; Hermitage (American, 23254 GRT, built 1925) and Uruguay (American, 20183 GRT, built 1928).
On departure from Fremantle the convoy was escorted by the light (AA) cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Capt. W. Harmsen, RNN) and the destroyer HrMs Van Galen (Lt.Cdr. F.T. Burghard, RNN). HrMs Van Galen parted company with the convoy in the morning of the 15th to return to Fremantle.
Around 1200FG/18, they made rendezvous with the heavy cruiser HMS Suffolk (Capt. R. Shelley, CBE, RN). HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck parted company to return to Fremantle around 1330FG/18.
The convoy arrived at Bombay on 26 December 1943.
- ADM 53/111411 + ADM 53/112281 + ADM 199/379
- ADM 53/114626 + ADM 53/114204 + ADM 199/1138
- ADM 199/1211
- ADM 199/1389
- ADM 199/426
- ADM 53/115436 + File 2.12.03.5995 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
- ADM 53/115788 + File 2.12.03.5995 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
- File 2.12.03.6850 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
- ADM 53/117366 + ADM 53/117562
- File 2.12.03.6851 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
- File 2.12.03.6852 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
- ADM 53/118266
ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.