Allied Warships

HMS Laconia (F 42)

Armed Merchant Cruiser

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeArmed Merchant Cruiser
Class[No specific class] 
PennantF 42 
Built bySwan Hunter and Wigham Richardson Ltd. (Wallsend-on-Tyne, U.K.): Wallsend 
Laid down 
Launched9 Apr 1921 
Commissioned6 Jan 1940 
End service1 Oct 1941 

On 5 September 1939 the passenger ship Laconia of the Cunard White Star Ltd, Liverpool was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to an armed merchant cruiser. Conversion was completed on 6 January 1940.

Displacement: 19695 BRT
Armament: 8x 152mm, 2x 76mm
Speed: 17 knots

January 40 - May 40: Halifax Escort Force
June 40 - April 41: Bermuda and Halifax Escort Force
May 41 - October 41: North Atlantic Escort Force

On 1 October 1941 returned and used as troopship by the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT).


Hit by U-boat
Sunk on 12 Sep 1942 by U-156 (Hartenstein).

U-boat AttackSee our U-boat attack entry for the HMS Laconia

Commands listed for HMS Laconia (F 42)

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.

1Capt. (retired) Gilbert George Pearse Hewett, RN15 Nov 193930 Sep 1941

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Notable events involving Laconia include:

10 Mar 1941

Convoy SC 25.

This convoy departed Halifax on 10 March 1941.

On departure from Halifax the convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Ashby (British, 4868 GRT, built 1927), Barrdale (British, 5072 GRT, built 1925, with Commodore C.M. Ford, RNR, on board), Bjorkhaug (Norwegian, 2094 GRT, built 1919), Boltonhall (British, 4824 GRT, built 1935), Bonde (Norwegian, 1570 GRT, built 1936), Borgholm (Norwegian, 1557 GRT, built 1922), Caithness (British, 4970 GRT, built 1935), Dartford (British, 4093 GRT, built 1930), Don (Norwegian, 2010 GRT, built 1924), Dunelmia (British, 5207 GRT, built 1929), Empire Caribou (British, 4861 GRT, built 1919), Eskdalegate (British, 4250 GRT, built 1930), Fano (British, 1889 GRT, built 1922), Filleigh (British, 4856 GRT, built 1928), Gezina (Norwegian, 1828 GRT, built 1917), Grelhead (British, 4274 GRT, built 1925), Havtor (Norwegian, 1524 GRT, built 1930), Hindsholm (British, 1512 GRT, built 1922), Iron Baron (British, 3231 GRT, built 1911), Knud (British, 1944 GRT, built 1900), Koranton (British, 6695 GRT, built 1920), Leka (Norwegian, 1599 GRT, built 1922), Marionga D. Thermiotis (Greek, 4784 GRT, built 1904), Mariston (British, 4557 GRT, built 1924), Nicolaos Piangos (Greek, 4499 GRT, built 1912), Nicolas (Greek, 4540 GRT, built 1910), Pagasitikos (Greek, 3942 GRT, built 1914), Parthenon (Greek, 3189 GRT, built 1908), Pegasus (Greek, 5762 GRT, built 1920), Profit (Norwegian, 1608 GRT, built 1918), Ramillies (British, 4553 GRT, built 1927), Stad Maassluis (Dutch, 6541 GRT, built 1918), Veni (Norwegian, 2982 GRT, built 1901) and Zurichmoor (British, 4455 GRT, built 1925).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Laconia (Capt.(Retd.) G.G.P. Hewett, RN) and the submarine HMS Thunderbolt (Lt. C.B. Crouch, DSO, RN).

During the night of 10/11 March 1941, the Gezina and Havtor parted company with the convoy and apparently returned to Halifax.

At 1115P/15, in position 44°32'N, 46°58'W, HMS Thunderbolt parted company with the convoy after having been ordered to do so by the Rear Admiral Submarines.

Around 0730O/22, in position 57°35'N, 33°32'W the merchant vessel Comanchee (British (tanker), 6837 GRT, built 1936) joined the convoy. She had dropped out of convoy HX 114.

Around 1100O/22, in position 57°55'N, 33°25'W the merchant vessel Roxby (British (tanker), 6837 GRT, built 1936) joined the convoy. She had also dropped out of convoy HX 114.

Around 1700P/22, in position 59°00'N, 25°12'W the merchant vessels Inger Lise (Norwegian, 1582 GRT, built 1939) and Velox (Norwegian, 3831 GRT, built 1922) joined the convoy. They had both dropped out of convoy HX 114.

Around 2030P/22, HMS Laconia parted company with the convoy in position 58°55'N, 25°05'W. The convoy was now not escorted. The A/S escort had not yet joined.

During the night of 24/25 March 1941, the convoy encountered a heavy easterly gale and several ships straggled from the convoy.

At 1100 hours on 26 March 1941 (time zone not known but probably Z/GMT) the A/S escort finally joined in position 58°47'N, 20°20'W. It was made up of the destroyers HMCS Ottawa (Cdr. E.R. Mainguy, RCN), ORP Garland (Kmdr.ppor. (Cdr.) K.F. Namiesniowski), HMS Chesterfield (Lt.Cdr. E. Gleave, RNR), sloop HMS Weston (Cdr.(Retd.) J.G. Sutton, RN) and the corvettes HMS Heather (Cdr.(Retd.) J.G.C. Gibson, RN), HMS Picotee (Lt.Cdr. N.C.H. Scallan, RNR) and HMCS Hepatica (T/Lt. C. Copelin, RCNR). ORP Garland was ordered to look after the stragglers.

The convoy arrived in UK waters on 30 March 1941 and was then divided into several section which then proceeded to their respective destinations. (Loch Ewe, Belfast, Barry Roads and Mersey). (1)

11 Mar 1941

Convoy HX 114.

This convoy departed Halifax on 11 March 1941 and arrived in UK waters on 30 March 1941.

This convoy was made up of following merchant vessels; Cardita (British (tanker), 8237 GRT, built 1931), Cerinthus (British (tanker), 3878 GRT, built 1930), Chesapeake (British (tanker), 8955 GRT, built 1928), Clavella (Dutch (tanker), 8097 GRT, built 1939), Colonial (British, 5108 GRT, built 1926), Corrales (British, 5363 GRT, built 1930), Cristales (British, 5389 GRT, built 1926), Elmdene (British, 4853 GRT, built 1939), Emile Francqui (Belgian, 5859 GRT, built 1929), Empire Mermaid (British, 6381 GRT, built 1919), Harmatris (British, 5395 GRT, built 1932), Heranger (Norwegian, 4877 GRT, built 1930), Inger Lise (Norwegian, 1582 GRT, built 1939), Labette (British, 4989 GRT, built 1919), Lapland (British, 1330 GRT, built 1936), Lunula (British (tanker), 6363 GRT, built 1927), Malakand (British, 7649 GRT, built 1919), Nestos (Greek, 5764 GRT, built 1919), New Texas (British, 6568 GRT, built 1919), Pandias (Greek, 4981 GRT, built 1912), Pentridge Hill (British, 7579 GRT, built 1941), Roxby (British, 4252 GRT, built 1923), Royal Emblem (British, 4900 GRT, built 1940), Skeldergate (British, 4251 GRT, built 1930), Tilapa (British, 5392 GRT, built 1928), Torr Head (British, 5021 GRT, built 1937), Toward (British (rescue ship), 1571 GRT, built 1923) and Zagloba (Polish, 2864 GRT, built 1938).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Chitral (Capt.(Retd.) G. Hamilton, RN).

Shortly after departure the merchant vessel Labette was to return to Halifax with engine trouble.

On the 14th the convoy merged with convoy BHX 114 coming from Bermuda. The following merchant vessels then joined the convoy; Adellen (British (tanker), 7984 GRT, built 1930), Carelia (British (tanker), 8062 GRT, built 1938), Comanchee (British (tanker), 6837 GRT, built 1936), Dephnella (British (tanker), 8078 GRT, built 1938), Hidlefjord (British (tanker), 7639 GRT, built 1928), Inverlee (British (tanker), 9158 GRT, built 1938), Kaia Knudsen (Norwegian (tanker), 9063 GRT, built 1931), Lincoln Ellsworth (British (tanker), 5580 GRT, built 1927), Otina (British (tanker), 6217 GRT, built 1938), President de Vogue (Norwegian (tanker), 9320 GRT, built 1935), San Conrado (British (tanker), 7982 GRT, built 1936), Thalatta (Norwegian, 5671 GRT, built 1922), Thorshavet (Norwegian (tanker), 11015 GRT, built 1938) and Velox (Norwegian, 3831 GRT, built 1922 ).

The escort of convoy BHX 114, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Worcestershire (A/Capt. J. Creswell, RN), then parted company.

Around 1200OP/15 the battleship HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN) joined the convoy. She parted company at 1520P/16 when a warship was sighted which turned out to be HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) which was to join the convoy to take over from HMS Rodney.

At that moment the armed merchant cruiser HMS Laconia (Capt.(Retd.) G.G.P. Hewett, RN), which was in sight, reported heavy calibre gunfire on the horizon. HMS Rodney increased speed and set course towards this reported gunfire. HMS Royal Sovereign briefly followed but due to her slower speed opted to remain between the enemy and the convoy. HMS Royal Sovereign remained in position between the enemy and the convoy until late in the evening.

The source of the gunfire was the German battlecruiser Gneisenau which was in the process of sinking the merchant vessel Chilean Reefer (British, 1739 GRT, built 1936). She spotted the tops of the approaching British battleship and quickly got underway and made off at high speed. HMS Rodney was left with picking up the survivors of the Chilean Reefer unable to catch the German battlecruiser due to her inferior speed. HMS Rodney then continued to patrol the area where convoy HX 114 was passing through during the next few days.

At 1545N/24, the merchant vessels Inger Lise and Velox were detached with orders to join convoy SC 25.

HMS Chitral parted company with the convoy at 1930N/24 and set course for Halifax.

On the 25th, the merchant vessel (tanker) Lincoln Ellsworth with a cargo of fuel oil parted company with the convoy to proceed to Reykjavik was she was to discharge her cargo. She arrived at Reykjavik the next day.

HMS Chitral parted company with the convoy at 1930N/24 and set course for Halifax. The convoy was joined by destroyers late on the 24th or early on the 25th by the destroyers HMS Wanderer (Cdr. A.F.St.G. Orpen, RN), HMS Vanity ( Lt. I.W.T. Beloe, RN), HMCS Columbia (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) S.W. Davis, RN), HMS Montgomery (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) W.L. Puxley, RN), sloop HMS Weston (Cdr.(Retd.) J.G. Sutton, RN), corvettes HMS Nasturtium (Lt.Cdr. J.F.C. Bartley, DSC, RNR), HMS Periwinkle (Lt.Cdr. P.G. MacIver, RNR), HMS Primrose (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) A. Ayre, RNR) and the auxiliary A/S trawlers HMS Arab (T/Lt. C.A. Shillan, RNVR), HMS Ayrshire (T/Lt. L.J.A. Gradwell, RNVR) and HMS Lady Madeleine (T/Lt. W.G. Ogden, RNVR). Destroyers HMS Montgomery, HMS Vanity, sloop HMS Weston and the auxiliary A/S trawlers were detached later to join other convoys. The remainder of the escort remained with the convoy until its arrival in UK waters on the 30th.

19 May 1941

Convoy SC 32.

This convoy departed Halifax on 19 May 1941.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Antiope (British, 4545 GRT, built 1930), Baron Kinnaird (British, 3355 GRT, built 1927), Brynhild (British, 2195 GRT, built 1907), Chagres (British, 5545 GRT, built 1919), Dalemoor (British, 5835 GRT, built 1922), Empire Meteor (British, 7457 GRT, built 1940), Erica (Norwegian, 1592 GRT, built 1919), Flynderborg (British, 2022 GRT, built 1930), Glaisdale (British, 3777 GRT, built 1929), Inger Elizabeth (Norwegian, 2166 GRT, built 1920), Ingerfire (Norwegian, 3835 GRT, built 1905), Juno (Dutch, 1763 GRT, built 1908), Katwijk (Dutch, 1589 GRT, built 1921), Lars Kruse (British, 1807 GRT, built 1923), Maplewood (British, 4566 GRT, built 1930), Marita (Norwegian, 1931 GRT, built 1919), Michael L. Embiricos (Greek, 5202 GRT, built 1918), North Devon (British, 3658 GRT, built 1924), Nurtureton (British, 6272 GRT, built 1929), Picotee (British, 4307 GRT, built 1913), Rajahstan (British, 6391 GRT, built 1929), Rosenborg (British, 1997 GRT, built 1914), Saltwick (British, 3775 GRT, built 1929), Stalowa Wola (Polish, 3133 GRT, built 1924), Stonepool (British, 4815 GRT, built 1928), Thorsholm (Norwegian (tanker), 9937 GRT, built 1937), Welsh Prince (British, 5148 GRT, built 1940), West Saginaw (British, 6187 GRT, built 1919), Western Ocean (British, 5760 GRT, built 1918) and Zypenberg (British, 4973 GRT, built 1920).

The Picotee and Stonepool both developed engine trouble and returned to Halifax.

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Laconia (Capt.(Retd.) G.G.P. Hewett, RN), the submarine HMS Talisman (Lt. M. Willmott, RN), and the corvettes HMCS Cobalt (T/A/Lt.Cdr. R.B. Campbell, RCNR) and HMCS Collingwood (T/Lt. W. Woods, RCNR).

Around 2030P/19, HMCS Cobalt and HMCS Collingwood parted company with the convoy and returned to Halifax.

During the night of 24/25 May 1942, the Marita straggled from the convoy and she did not rejoin.

Around 1900O/29, Convoy SC 32 temporary joined Convoy HX 128. Convoy SC 32 took station astern of convoy HX 128. With convoy HX 128 was the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) which also was to provide protection to Convoy SC 32.

Around 2000N/30, HMS Talisman parted company with the convoy to return to Halifax.

Around 2200Z/31, HMS Revenge and HMS Laconia parted company with the convoys to return to Halifax or to proceed to Reykjavik respectively.

A/S escorts commenced to join the convoy as from 29 May but sources vary on their composition, [this will have to be researched further in the future.]

The convoy arrived in U.K. waters on 7 June 1941.


  1. ADM 199/55 + ADM 199/56

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

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