Allied Warships

HMS Hunter (ii) (D 80)

Escort Carrier of the Attacker class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeEscort Carrier
ClassAttacker 
PennantD 80 
Built byIngalls Shipbuilding Corp. (Pascagoula, Mississippi, U.S.A.) 
Ordered 
Laid down15 May 1941 
Launched22 May 1942 
Commissioned11 Jan 1943 
End service29 Dec 1945 
History

Transferred to the Royal Navy under lend-lease.
Returned to the United States Navy on 29 December 1945.
Stricken by the United States Navy on 26 February 1946.
Sold into merchantile service on 17 January 1947 being renamed Almdijk.
Sold to be broken up for scrap in October 1965.
Scrapped in Spain.

 
Former nameUSS Block Island (i)

Commands listed for HMS Hunter (ii) (D 80)

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CommanderFromTo
1Capt. Henry Hastings McWilliam, RN27 May 194210 Sep 1944
2Capt. Arthur David Torlesse, RN10 Sep 194429 Dec 1945

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Notable events involving Hunter (ii) include:


15 Jul 1943
HMS Ursula (T/Lt. M.D. Tattersall, RNVR) shifted from Campbeltown to Rothesay. En-route exercises were carried out with aircraft from HMS Hunter (Capt. H.H. McWilliam, RN). (1)

17 Aug 1943

Combined convoy WS 33 / KMF 22.

This convoy was assembled off Oversay on 18 August 1943.

On assembly the combined convoy was made up of the following (troop) transports; Antenor (British, 11174 GRT, built 1925), Arundel Castle (British, 19118 GRT, built 1921), Boissevain (Dutch, 14134 GRT, built 1937), Cameronia (British, 19297 GRT, built 1920), Duchess of Bedford (British, 20123 GRT, built 1928), Duchess of Richmond (British, 20022 GRT, built 1928), Durban Castle (British, 17388 GRT, built 1938), Empress of Australia (British, 21833 GRT, built 1914), Glenartney (British, 9795 GRT, built 1940), Indrapoera (Dutch, 10825 GRT, built 1925), Johan de Witt (Dutch, 10474 GRT, built 1920), Marnix van St. Aldegonde (Dutch, 19355 GRT, built 1930), Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931), Orduna (British, 15507 GRT, built 1914), Ormonde (British, 14982 GRT, built 1917), Otranto (British, 20026 GRT, built 1925) and Tegelberg (British, 14150 GRT, built 1937).

The convoy was escorted by the escort carrier HMS Hunter (Capt. H.H. McWilliam, RN), heavy cruiser HMAS Shropshire (Capt. J.A. Collins, CB, RAN), destroyer HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN), sloops HMS Weston (Lt.Cdr. E. Gleave, RNR), HMS Chanticleer (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Bristowe, DSO, RN), HMIS Narbada (A/Cdr. A.W. Beeton, RIN), cutter HMS Totland (T/A/Lt.Cdr. H.E. Tourtel, RNR) and the frigates HMS Barle (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Davies, RNVR), HMS Ettrick (Lt.Cdr. J.E. Woolfenden, RD, RNR) and HMS Usk (Lt.Cdr. R.M. Pattinson, DSC, RNR).

The AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) joined the convoy around 0955B/20.

HMS Charybdis parted company with the convoy around 2210B/21 and proceeded to Gibraltar arriving there on 22 August.

The entire combined convoy arrived at Gibraltar on 24 August 1943.

From Gibraltar the convoys continued on as KMF 22 and WS 33.

29 Aug 1943
Ships from the newly formed ' Force V ' for the upcoming landings at Salerno conducted exercises off Gibraltar. The ships participating in the exercises were the aircraft carrier HMS Unicorn (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), escort carriers HMS Attacker (Capt. W.W.P. Shirley-Rollison, RN), HMS Battler (A/Capt. F.M.R. Stephenson, RN), HMS Hunter (Capt. H.H. McWilliam, RN), HMS Stalker ( Capt. H.S. Murray-Smith, RN), light cruiser HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral P.L. Vian, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), AA cruiser, HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, DSO, RN) and ten (?) destroyers / escort destroyers [unable to establish their precise identity for the moment.] (2)

4 Sep 1943
Around 1600B/4, the escort carrier HMS Hunter (Capt. H.H. McWilliam, RN), AA cruisers HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, DSO, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Atherstone (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Wood, DSC, RNVR), HMS Catterick (Lt.Cdr. A. Tyson, RN) and HMS Holcombe (Lt. F.M. Graves, RN) departed Gibraltar for Malta.

They were joined around 0730B/5 by the escort carrier HMS Attacker (Capt. W.W.P. Shirley-Rollison, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Cleveland (Lt. J.K. Hamilton, RN) and ORP Slazak (Cdr. R. Nalecz-Tyminski, ORP) coming from Oran.

More ships joined around 1940B/5. These were the aircraft carrier HMS Unicorn (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral P.L. Vian, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN), HMS Liddesdale (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Mackenzie, RNR) and ORP Krakowiak (Lt.Cdr. W. Maracewicz). These ships had departed Algiers around 1845B/5.

These ships were to join forces at Malta with a few more ships which had already left earlier escorting an eastbound convoy. These ships were to form ' Force V ' for the upcoming landings at Salerno.

All ships listed above arrived at Malta in the morning of September, 7th except for HMS Euryalus which proceeded ahead already arriving late on the 6th. (3)

8 Sep 1943

Operations of ' Force V ' during operation Avalanche.

Around 1100B/8, ' Force V ' departed Malta for the tyrrhenian sea. ' Force V ' was made up of the HMS Unicorn (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), escort carriers HMS Attacker (Capt. W.W.P. Shirley-Rollison, RN), HMS Battler (A/Capt. F.M.R. Stephenson, RN), HMS Hunter (Capt. H.H. McWilliam, RN), HMS Stalker ( Capt. H.S. Murray-Smith, RN), light cruiser HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral P.L. Vian, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), AA cruisers HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, DSO, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Atherstone (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Wood, DSC, RNVR), HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN), HMS Catterick (Lt.Cdr. A. Tyson, RN), HMS Cleveland (Lt. J.K. Hamilton, RN), HMS Farndale (Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN), HMS Haydon (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Watkin, RN), HMS Holcombe (Lt. F.M. Graves, RN), HMS Liddesdale (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Mackenzie, RNR), ORP Slazak (Cdr. R. Nalecz-Tyminski, ORP) and ORP Krakowiak (Lt.Cdr. W. Maracewicz).

They passed through the Messina Strait during the night of 8/9 September. At dawn on the 9th ' Force V ' arrived in the assault area. The first sortie was flown off at 0615B/9 and subsequently at hourly intervals. The aircraft maintained patrols of 80 minutes until 1930B/9 when the last aircraft landed on.

' Force V ' operated in an area 30 miles square, to the southward of the assault area, approaching the island of Capri from time to time in order to obtain accurate fixes. Three types of patrol were flown;
a) A standing patrol south and east of Capri by seafires from the escort carriers.
b) A high patrol over the beaches from about sunrise until 0745 hours and from 1810 hours until just before sunset by seafires from HMS Unicorn. This was during the period that fighter cover was not provided from Sicilian airfields.
c) A standing high patrol over the low patrol in the Capri area during the remainder of the day by Seafires from HMS Unicorn.

A total of 265 sorties were flown on the first day. Cover over ' Force V ' was maintained by aircraft from the fleet carriers of ' Force H '. During the dark hours the force was withdrawn to the southward and operated to the east of a line joining Salerno and Palermo so as to keep clear of the convoy routes, returning to the flying-off area at dawn.

During 10 September the flying programme was repeated and 232 sorties were flown.

It had been hoped that ' Force V ' could be withdrawn on the 10th and that Montecorvino airfield could be used. The airfield had indeed been captured as planned but it remained under heavy enemy artillery fire and could only be used for forced landings. ' Force V ' therefore had to remain in the assault area, though its flying efficieny had decreased and the fuel situation of the escort destroyers was becoming difficult.

On 11 September the number of sorties flown decreased to 160. At 1900B/11, ' Force H ' on leaving for Malta flew 17 aircraft over to join ' Force V ', which now had to provide its own fighter cover. Montecorvino was still under fire and patrols were again flows off at dawn on 12 September. The total number of sorties flown on 12 September was 56.

A landing strip had been laid out at Paestrum and orders were received that all available fighters should land ashore and that ' Force V ' could then withdraw. This signal, though sent at 0909 hours was not received until 1230 hours. 26 Seafires were then flown off and ' Force V ' then withdrew arriving at Palermo around 1930B/12.

' Force V ' departed from Palermo around 0600B/13 for Bizerta arriving there around 1830B/13. (4)

17 Sep 1943

Convoy MKF 24.

This convoy departed Port Said on 17 September 1943.

It was made up of the (troop) transports; Clan Campbell (British, 9545 GRT, built 1943), Eastern Prince (British, 10926 GRT, built 1929), Staffordshire (British, 10683 GRT, built 1929) and Strathmore (British, 23428 GRT, built 1935).

The armed merchant cruiser HMS Carthage (A/Capt. U.H.R. James, RN) was also part of the convoy. She was en-route from the East Indies station to the U.K. to be decommissioned and be outfitted for her new role as troop transport.

The convoy was escorted by the escort destroyers HMS Aldenham (Lt.Cdr. H.A. Stuart-Menteth, RN), HMS Rockwood (Lt. S.R. Le H. Lombard-Hobson, RN), RHS Kanaris and RHS Miaoulis.

At 0620C/18, the Eastern Prince was detached to Alexandria.

The convoy arrived at Algiers on 22 September 1943.

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On 28 September 1943 the convoy departed Algiers for the U.K.

It was now made up of the following (troop) transports; Almanzora (British, 15551 GRT, built 1914), Arundel Castle (British, 19118 GRT, built 1921), Athlone Castle (British, 25564 GRT, built 1936), Bergensfjord (Norwegian, 11015 GRT, built 1913), Cameronia (British, 16297 GRT, built 1920), Clan Campbell, Durban Castle (British, 17388 GRT, built 1938), Empress of Australia (British, 21833 GRT, built 1914), Marnix van St. Aldegonde (Dutch, 19355 GRT, built 1930), Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931), Otranto (British, 20026 GRT, built 1925), Ruys (Dutch, 14155 GRT, built 1937), Staffordshire, Strathmore, Tegelberg (Dutch, 14150 GRT, built 1937) and Volendam (British, 15434 GRT, built 1922).

The armed merchant cruiser HMS Carthage was still part of the convoy.

The convoy was escorted by the sloop HMS Pelican (Cdr. J.S. Dalison, DSO, RN) and the frigates HMS Evenlode (T/A/Lt.Cdr. A.L. Turner, RNR), HMS Jed (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Freaker, DSO and Bar, RD, RNR), HMS Rother (Lt.Cdr. W.R. Hickey, RNR), HMS Spey (Lt.Cdr. B.A. Rogers, RD, RNR) and HMS Wear (Cdr. E. Wheeler, RD, RNR).

At 0700A/30, the Ruys and Volendam were detached.

At 0900A/30, the Empress of Australia and Monarch of Bermuda were detached.

At 0930A/30, the (troop) transports Empire Might (British, 9209 GRT, built 1942), Highland Princess (British, 14133 GRT, built 1930) and Rochester Castle (British, 7795 GRT, built 1937) joined coming from Gibraltar.

Also the following warships joined at the same time; escort carriers HMS Attacker (Capt. W.W.P. Shirley-Rollison, RN), HMS Hunter (Capt. H.H. McWilliam, RN), HMS Stalker (Capt. H.S. Murray-Smith, RN), seaplane carrier HMS Albatross (A/Capt.(Retd.) S. Barry, RN) and the destroyers HMS Wishart (Lt. J.A. Holdsworth, RN) and HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. R.B.S. Tennant, RN).

At 1400A/30, the Volendam rejoined.

At 1500A/30, the AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) joined coming from Gibraltar.

At 1600A/30, the Ruys rejoined.

At 0420A/1, the Bergensfjord, Highland Princess and Volendam parted company to proceed to Freetown. They took HMS Wishart and HMS Witherington with them as escorts. Also the destroyer HMS Malcolm (Lt. I.M. Clegg, RN) joined them which had came from Casablanca.

At 1300A/1, the Athone Castle was detached to proceed independently to New York.

At 0640Z/4, the light cruiser HMS Spartan (Capt. P.V. McLaughlin, RN) joined the convoy escort.

At 0635Z/5, HMS Spartan parted company with the convoy.

At 0930Z/5, HMS Charybdis and HMS Albatross parted company to proceed to Plymouth where they arrived on 6 October.

On 7 October the convoy arrived in U.K waters. The bulk of the convoy proceeded either to Greenock or to Liverpool.

20 Sep 1943
The light carrier HMS Unicorn (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), escort carriers HMS Attacker (Capt. W.W.P. Shirley-Rollison, RN), HMS Hunter (Capt. H.H. McWilliam, RN), HMS Stalker (Capt. H.S. Murray-Smith, RN), AA cruisers HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, DSO, RN), destroyer HMS Wishart (Lt. J.A. Holdsworth, RN) and the escort destroyers ORP Slazak (Cdr. R. Nalecz-Tyminski, ORP), HMS Cleveland (Lt. J.K. Hamilton, RN), HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN), HMS Catterick (Lt.Cdr. A. Tyson, RN) and HMS Haydon (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Watkin, RN) departed Bizerta for Gibraltar via Algiers.

They made a short stop at Algiers in the evening of 21 September before continuing their passage to Gibraltar. At Algiers they were joined by the escort destroyer HMS Atherstone (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Wood, DSC, RNVR).

They arrived at Gibraltar in the early hours of 23 September. (5)

10 Mar 1944
Exercises were carried out off Scapa Flow. Ships participating were the battleships HMS Duke of York (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, CBE, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Adm. B.A. Fraser, KCB, KBE, RN), HMS Anson (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO and Bar, RN flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.R. Moore, KCB, DSO, CVO, RN), Richelieu (Capt. R.G. Lambert), aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. G.T. Philip, DSO, DSC, RN), escort carrier HMS Hunter (Capt. H.H. McWilliam, RN), heavy cruisers, HMS Kent (Capt. G.A.B. Hawkins, DSC, MVO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.F.E. Palliser, CB, DSC, RN), HMS Berwick (Capt. N.V. Grace, RN) and several destroyers, of which HMS Marne (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN) was one. Others may have been HMS Verulam (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, DSC, RN), HMCS Algonquin (Lt.Cdr. D.W. Piers, DSC, RCN), HMS Ulysses (Lt.Cdr. R.J. Hanson, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Mackenzie, RD, RNR), HMS Swift (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Gower, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN) and HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. P. Bekenn, RN). (6)

21 Jun 1944

Convoy MKF 32.

This convoy departed Port Said on 21 June 1944 and arrived in U.K. waters on 4 July 1944.

It was made up of the following transport vessels; Antenor (British, 11174 GRT, built 1925), Nieuw Holland (British, 11066 GRT, built 1927), Orduna (British, 15507 GRT, built 1914), Orion (British, 23371 GRT, built 1935), Ormonde (British, 14982 GRT, built 1917), Ranchi (British, 16738 GRT, built 1925), Stratheden (British, 23722 GRT, built 1937) and Strathmore (British, 23428 GRT, built 1935).

On departure from Port Said the convoy was escorted by the escort destroyers HMS Chiddingfold (Lt. T.M. Dorrien-Smith, RN), HMS Croome (T/A/Lt.Cdr. J.S. Lawrence, DSC, RNVR), HMS Exmoor (Lt. D.D. Howson, RN), HMS Tetcott (Lt. H.J. Watkins, RN) and HMS Wheatland (Lt. H.A. Corbett, DSC, RN).

Later on 21 June 1944 the damaged light cruiser HMS Birmingham (Capt. H.W. Williams, RN) joined the convoy for passage to Gibraltar. She came from Alexandria together with the netlayer HMS Guardian (Capt.(Retd.) H.A.C. Lane, OBE, RN) which also joined the convoy for passage westwards to Djidjelli, Algeria [now called Jijel].

In the eastern Mediterranean the escort destroyer Quantock was also with the convoy for a while. [Further details currently unkown.]

Around noon on 25 June 1944 convoy SNF 25 coming from Naples merged with the convoy. Convoy SNF 25 had departed Naples on 24 June 1944 and was made up of the transports Hai Lee (Norwegian, 3616 GRT, built 1934), Orontes (British, 20097 GRT, built 1929) and Samaria (British, 19597 GRT, built 1921).

On departure from Naples this convoy was escorted by the escort carrier HMS Attacker (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, DSO, MVO, RAN), frigates HMS Bazely (Lt.Cdr. J.V. Brock, RCNVR), HMS Bentinck (Cdr. E.H. Chavasse, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Byard (A/Lt.Cdr. J.I. Jones, DSO, DSC, RNR), HMS Calder (T/A/Lt.Cdr. E. Playne, RNVR), HMS Drury (Lt.Cdr. N.J. Parker, RN), HMS Pasley (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Wright, RD, RNR) and the destroyer escort USS Frederick C. Davcis (Lt.Cdr. O.W. Goepner, USNR). This last ship served as jammer escort against German radio guided bombs.

The transport Hai Lee proceeded to Bizerta while the other two transports joined convoy MKF 32.

On 26 June, off Djidjelli, HMS Guardian was detached and later off Algiers the transport Champollion (French, 12263 GRT, built 1925) joined the convoy while HMS Attacker was detached.

On 27 June, off Oran the transport Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931) and the escort carrier HMS Hunter (Capt. H.H. McWilliam, RN) joined the convoy. They were escort from Oran to the rendezvous with convoy MKF 32 by the destroyers USS Knight (T/Cdr. J.C. Ford, Jr., USN) and USS Doran (T/Cdr. N.E. Smith, USN). USS Frederick C. Davis was detached to Mers-el-Kebir.

On 28 June, off Gibraltar the escort carrier HMS Hunter was detached as were the escort destroyers HMS Chiddingfold, HMS Croome, HMS Exmoor, HMS Tetcott and HMS Wheatland.

Also off Gibraltar the transports Felix Roussell (French, 17083 GRT, built 1930) and Tai Shan (Norwegian, 6962 GRT, built 1929) joined the convoy as did the escort carriers HMS Nairana (Capt. R.M.T. Taylor, RN), HMS Ravager (A/Capt. G.V.B. Faulkner, RN) and the AA ship HMCS Prince Robert (Cdr. A.M. Hope, RCN).

The convoy arrived in U.K. waters on 4 July 1944.

10 May 1945

Operation Dukedom.

Intercepting Japanese surface ships trying to evacuate troops from the Andaman Islands.

On 8 May 1945 a report was received from two British submarines on patrol in the Malacca Strait (HMS Statesman (Lt. R.G.P. Bulkeley, RN) and HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) that they had sighted a Japanese heavy cruiser and a destroyer proceeding to the north-west. The Eastern Fleet was already on alert due to intelligence and ships from the Eastern Fleet immediately (around 0700 hours) put to sea from Trincomalee, Ceylon for operation Dukedom. These ships formed Task Force 61. This task force was, at that moment, made up of the following ships;
British battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. R.M. Ellis, DSO, RN), the French battleship Richelieu (Capt. G.M.J. Merveilleux du Vignaux), the British escort carriers HMS Hunter (Capt. A.D. Torlesse, RN), HMS Khedive (A/Capt. D.H. Magnay, RN), HMS Shah (Capt. W.J. Yendell, RN), HMS Emperor (Capt. Sir C. Madden, RN), the British heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland (Capt. P.K. Enright, RN), the British light cruiser HMS Royalist (Capt. W.G. Brittain, CBE, RN), the Dutch light cruiser HrMs Tromp (A/Capt. F. Stam, RNN) and the British destroyers HMS Saumarez (Capt. M.L. Power, CBE, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Venus (Cdr. H.G.D. De Chair, DSC with Bar, RN), HMS Vigilant (Lt.Cdr. L.W.L. Argles, DSC, RN), HMS Virago (Lt.Cdr. A.J.R. White, DSC, RN), HMS Rotherham (Capt. H.W. Biggs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Nubian (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN) and HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Diack, DSC and Bar, RN). This latter destroyer however had to return due to defects.

The British destroyer HMS Verulam (Lt.Cdr. D.H.R. Bromley, DSC, RN) sailed at 1700 hours to overtake and then join the Task Force. She was joined by HMS Tartar (Capt. B. Jones, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) as substitute for HMS Penn whose defects could not be repaired in time. HMS Verulam and HMS Tartar eventually joined the Task Force at 1505/11.

Most ships of the Task Force had only returned from the previous operation the day before and for instance HMS Queen Elizabeth had only 50% ammunition for her 15” guns on board. Also HMS Emperor and HMS Khedive were not fully fueled.

The same day the tanker Easedale (8032 GRT, built 1942) departed Trincomalee escorted by the British destroyer HMS Paladin (Lt. H.R. Hewlett, RN) (Force 70) to provide fuel for the smaller ships of Force 61.

At 1940/11 a fast attack force, made up of Richelieu, HMS Cumberland and the destroyer of the 26th Destroyer Flotilla; HMS Saumarez, HMS Venus, HMS Verlulam, HMS Viliglant and HMS Virago were ordered to proceed ahead to about 50 miles from the Task Force to be in a better position to intercept the reported Japanese heavy cruiser.

In the early afternoon of the 12th an air strike with four Hellcats was carried out against airfields on Car Nicobar Island. One Japanese aircraft was seen to go up in flames.

Also on the 12th submarine HMS Statesman reported that the Japanese cruiser and it's escort were returning to Singapore most likely to Force 61 being sighted the previous day by a Japanese aircraft.

During the 13th all destroyers of the Task Force fueled from HMS Emperor, HMS Hunter and HMS Shah. Besides that Task Force 62 was sent out from Trincomalee. This Task Force was made up of the British light cruiser HMS Nigeria (Capt. H.A. King, DSO, RN) and the British destroyers HMS Roebuck (Cdr. C.D. Bonham-Carter, RN), HMS Racehorse (Cdr. J.J. Casement, DSC, RN), HMS Redoubt (Lt.Cdr. F.W.M. Carter, DSC, RN) and HMS Rocket (Lt.Cdr. H.B. Acworth, OBE, RN), which was escorting a convoy, was ordered to leave her convoy and then join this Task Force. Also sailed was Task Force 67, made up of Royal Fleet Auxiliary oiler Olwen escorted by HMS Penn, which by now had completed repairs on her defects.

On the 14th HrMs Tromp was sent ahead to fuel from Task Force 70. Late in the evening the remainder of Task Force 61 arrived at the rendez-vous with Task Force 70.

On the 15th the enemy cruiser and destroyer were sighted by an aircraft from HMS Shah. They were again proceeding to the south-east. Shortly afterwards the enemy was also sighted by a patrolling Liberator aircraft which began shadowing the enemy. At 1500 hours three Avenger aircraft attacked the cruiser.

The 26th destroyer flottila, made up of HMS Saumarez, HMS Venus, HMS Verulam, HMS Vigilant and HMS Vigaro were ordered to intercept the enemy after dark. At 1500 hours they were 85 miles from the position of the enemy.

Around midnight the destroyers made radar contact on the cruiser. They then attacked from all directions with torpedoes. About eight hits were scored and the cruiser was sunk. During the attack HMS Saumarez was hit three times with 8" shells. Two ratings were killed on one boiler room was put out of action. The destroyers rejoined the task force at 1000/16. HMS Virago had only 17% fuel left, the other destroyers between that and 30%. HMS Virago and HMS Venus had to fuel from the escort carriers as they could not make it to the oiling force without doing so.

In the evening of the 16th the Task Force was attacked by Japanese aircraft. HMS Virago was near missed and suffered four ratings killed, five ratings severely wounded and thirteen other casualties. She was also listing slightly due to splinter damage.

At 1000/17 the following ships were detached to return to Trincomalee; Richelieu, HMS Nigeria, HMS Royalist, HrMs Tromp, HMS Khedive, HMS Shah and HMS Racehorce.

1740 hours, the 26th Destroyer Flotilla was also detached to return to Trincomalee where they arrived late in the afternoon on the 18th. By this time all the destroyers of this flotilla had fueled from Force 70.

The remaining ships were ordered to return to Trincomalee at 2130/19. They arrived back at Trincomalee on 21 May. (7)

Sources

  1. ADM 173/18382
  2. ADM 53/117004 + ADM 53/117494+ ADM 53/117648 + ADM 53/118510 + ADM 53/118573 + ADM 53/118663
  3. ADM 53/117495 + ADM 53/118664 + ADM 199/641
  4. ADM 53/117495 + ADM 53/118664 + ADM 199/641 + ADM 234/358
  5. ADM 53/118574 + ADM 53/118664 + ADM 199/641 + ADM 199/767
  6. ADM 53/118818 + ADM 53/118995 + ADM 53/119291 + ADM 53/119470 + ADM 53/119565 + ADM 53/119632
  7. Files 2.12.03.6854 and 2.12.27.121 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands) and WO 203 / 4630 (British National Archives, Kew, London)

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


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