Allied Warships

HMS Canton (F 97)

Armed Merchant Cruiser

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeArmed Merchant Cruiser
Class[No specific class] 
PennantF 97 
Built byA. Stephen & Sons Ltd. (Glasgow, Scotland) 
Laid down 
Launched14 Apr 1938 
Commissioned4 Nov 1939 
End service10 Apr 1944 

On 19 October 1939 the passenger ship Canton of the P. & O. Steam Navigation Co Ltd, London was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to an armed merchant cruiser. Conversion was completed on 4 November 1939.

Displacement: 15784 BRT
Armament: 9x 152mm, 4x 102mm
Speed: 19 knots
HMS Canton was also equipped with an aircraft hanger and a Kingfisher single engine aircraft and an aircraft recovery crane, she was also distinctive as she had been fitted with a tripod mast behind the bridge. Her slightly raked funnel gave her a "Cruiser" appearance.

December 39 - May 40: Northern Patrol
June 40 - July 40: Western Approaches Command
August 40 - November 41: Freetown Escort Force
December 41 - August 42: South Atlantic Station
September 42 - April 44: Eastern Fleet (Indian Ocean)

On 10 April 1944 returned and used as troopship by the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT). On 28 September 1947 returned to owner.


Commands listed for HMS Canton (F 97)

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1Capt. George Devereux Belben, DSC, RN26 Sep 193910 Feb 1941
2A/Capt. Charles Alfred Godfrey Nichols, RN10 Feb 19412 Mar 1942
3A/Capt. Geoffrey Neame Loriston-Clarke, RN2 Mar 194223 Sep 1942
4A/Cdr. (reitred) Richard John Edward Daintree, RN23 Sep 194215 Aug 1943
5Capt. Joseph Johnstone Eadie Barclay, RNR15 Aug 1943Apr 1944

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Notable events involving Canton include:

10 Sep 1940

Convoy AP 3.

This convoy departed Liverpool on 10 September 1940 for Suez where it arrived on 22 October 1940.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Athlone Castle (British, 25564 GRT, built 1936), Brisbane Star (British, 12791 GRT, built 1937), Brittanic (British, 26943 GRT, built 1930), Clan Campbell (British, 7255 GRT, built 1937), Clan MacArthur (British, 10528 GRT, built 1936), Dominion Monarch (British, 27155 GRT, built 1939), Durban Castle (British, 17388 GRT, built 1938), Glaucus (British, 7596 GRT, built 1921), Imperial Star (British, 12427 GRT, built 1935) and Ulster Prince (British, 3791 GRT, built 1930).

On departure from the U.K. the convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Havelock (Capt. E.B.K. Stevens, DSC, RN), HMS Harvester (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, RN), HMS Highlander (Cdr. W.A. Dallmeyer, RN) and HMS Hurricane (Lt.Cdr. H.C. Simms, RN), HMS Volunteer (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN) and HMS Wolverine (Cdr. R.H. Craske, RN). They remained with the convoy until 12 September.

In the morning of 11 September the light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN) joined the convoy until 0745/12.

Ocean escort joined around the time the destroyers left and was made up of the armed merchant cruisers HMS Cicilia (Capt.(Retd.) V.B. Cardwell, OBE, RN) and HMS Wolfe (A/Capt.(Retd.) W.G.A. Shuttleworth, RN). They remained with the convoy until it arrived at Freetown on 23 September 1940.

From 25 September 1940 to 4 October 1940, when the convoy arrived at Capetown, it was escorted by the armed merchant cruisers HMS Canton (Capt. G.D. Belben, DSC, AM, RN) and HMS Carnarvon Castle (Capt.(Retd.) H.N.M. Hardy, DSO, RN).

On departure from Capetown on 6 October, the convoy was escorted by HMS Canton until 9 October when she was relieved by HMS Carthage (Capt.(Retd.) B.O. Bell-Salter, RN). This armed merchant cruiser remained with the convoy until 15 October when she was relieved by the heavy cruiser HMS Shropshire. (Capt. J.H. Edelsten, RN) which remained with the convoy until 20 October.

On 18 October the convoy was near Aden and the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN), destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN) and sloop HMS Flamingo (Cdr. J.H. Huntley, RN) joined.

The escort parted company with the convoy on 20 October except HMS Kandahar which remained with the convoy until it's arrival at Suez two days later. On arrival at Suez two more ships were escorting the convoy, these were the sloop HMIS Clive (Cdr. H.R. Inigo-Jones, RIN) and the minesweeper HMS Stoke (Cdr.(Retd.) C.J.P. Hill, RN). Presumably these had joined on 20 October.

24 Feb 1941
HMS Thunderbolt (Lt. C.B. Crouch, DSO, RN) an unidentified ship in position 53°55'N, 26°49'W which opens fire despite repeated challenges by Thunderbolt, forcing her to dive.

The ship was the armed merchant cruiser HMS Canton (A/Capt. C.A.G. Nichols, RN) which mistook her for a U-boat. (1)

2 Jun 1943
Around 1500 hours, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Canton ( A/Cdr.(Retd.) R.J.E. Daintree, RN) took over the escort of the troop transport Dominion Monarch (British, 27155 GRT, built 1939). These two ships now set course for Aden. HMS Sussex (Capt. W.Y.La R. Beverley, RN) then continued on to Colombo with the other troopship. (2)


  1. ADM 199/1115
  2. ADM 53/118604 + ADM 199/643

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

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