Allied Warships

HMS Ranchi (F 15)

Armed Merchant Cruiser

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeArmed Merchant Cruiser
Class[No specific class] 
PennantF 15 
Built byHawthorn Leslie & Co. (Hebburn-on-Tyne, U.K.) 
Laid down 
Launched24 Jan 1925 
Commissioned23 Oct 1939 
End service16 Mar 1943 

On 27 August 1939 the passenger ship Ranchi 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 23 October 1939.

Displacement: 16738 BRT
Armament: 8x 152mm, 2x 76mm
Speed: 17 knots

October 39 - February 42: East Indies Station
March 42 - January 43: Eastern Fleet (Indian Ocean)

On 16 March 1943 returned and used as troopship by the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT). On 18 July 1947 returned to owner.


Commands listed for HMS Ranchi (F 15)

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1Capt. (retired) Heneage Cecil Legge, DSC, RN30 Aug 193912 Jun 1941
2Capt. (retired) Sir John Meynell Alleyne, DSO, DSC, RN12 Jun 1941

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Notable events involving Ranchi include:

23 Jan 1942

Convoy BM 12.

Convoy from Bombay to Singapore.
Departure date: 23 January 1942.
Arrival date: 4 February 1942.

This convoy was made up of the following ships;
British troop ships; Devonshire (11275 GRT, built 1939), Empress of Asia (16909 GRT, built 1913).

French troop ship (under British control) Felix Roussel (17083 GRT, built 1930)

and the Dutch transport Plancius (5955 GRT, built 1923).

The convoy initially proceeded unescorted.

On 26 January, the British sloop HMS Falmouth (Cdr. U.H.R. James, RN) joined the convoy in position 07°53'N, 76°23'E.

On 27 January, the British light cruiser HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN) joined the convoy in position 04°30'N, 78°15'E. HMS Falmouth parted company with the convoy at dusk.

On 28 January, the convoy made rendez-vous with convoy DM 2 which was made up of the following ships;
British troopships Dunera (11162 GRT, built 1937), Empress of Australia (21833 GRT, built 1914) and Warwick Castle (20107 GRT, built 1930) and the British transports City of Canterbury (8331 GRT, built 1922), City of Pretoria (8049 GRT, built 1937), Malancha (8124 GRT, built 1937) and Troilus (7422 GRT, built 1921). This convoy was escorted by the British armed merchant cruiser HMS Ranchi (Capt.(Retd.) Sir J.M. Alleyne, DSO, DSC, RN) which then parted company.

On 31 January, the British light cruiser HMS Danae (Capt. F.J. Butler, MBE, RN) and the Dutch light cruiser HrMs Java (Capt. P.B.M van Straelen, RNN) joined the convoy in position 05°05'S, 94°00'E after which HMS Emerald parted company with the convoy.

On 1 February, the Indian sloop HMIS Sutlej (Capt. P.A. Mare, RIN) and the Australian sloop HMAS Yarra (Cdr. W.H. Harrington, RAN) joined the convoy.

On 2 February, the British heavy cruiser HMS Exeter (Capt. O.L. Gordon, MVO, RN) joined around 0800 hours and a little over two hours later the British destroyer HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN) and the Australian destroyer HMAS Vampire (Cdr. W.T.A. Moran, RAN) also joined the convoy.

On the morning of 3 February the British destroyer HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN) joined. Later the same day HMAS Vampire split off from the convoy with the part of the convoy that was to proceed to Batavia. These were all the ships that had been in convoy DM 2 except the City of Canterbury which went to Singapore.

Around 0200 hours on 4 February 1942, HrMs Java parted company with the convoy. Shortly before noon the convoy was attacked by Japanese aircraft and the Empress of Asia was straddled. Around 2130/4, HMS Exeter, HMS Jupiter and HMS Encounter parted company to intercept Japanese warships that were reported to the north of Banka Strait. HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, CBE, RAN) was ordered to join them there. They did not find any Japanese ships and proceeded to Batavia where they arrived on 6 February.

The convoy arrived at Singapore shortly after noon on 5 February 1942 but not before a heavy enemy air attack was carried out. The Empress of Asia was set on fire, the Felix Roussel was also hit and the City of Canterbury had her steering gear damaged. (1)

27 Apr 1942

Convoy WS 17.

Convoy from South Africa to several destinations in the Far East.

On 27 April 1942 the Capetown section departed. It was made up the following transports / troop transports; Almanzora (British, 15551 GRT, built 1914), Cameronia (British, 16297 GRT, built 1920), City of Edinburgh (British, 8036 GRT, built 1938), City of Lincoln (British, 8039 GRT, built 1938), Dunedin Star (British, 11168 GRT, built 1936), Glaucus (British, 7596 GRT, built 1921), Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (Dutch, 19429 GRT, built 1930), Kina II (British, 9823 GRT, built 1939), Nieuw Holland (Dutch, 11066 GRT, built 1927) and Samaria (British, 19597 GRT, built 1921).

On departure the convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Dauntless (A/Capt. J.G. Hewitt, DSO, RN) which first had conducted gunnery exercises in False Bay before joining the convoy.

Off Port Elizabeth the convoy was joined by the transports; Brazil (American, 18298 GRT, built 1928), Monterey (American, 18017 GRT, built 1932) and Mormactide (American, 7773 GRT, built 1941).

Off Durban the convoy was joined by the transports / troop transports; Elizabethville (Belgian, 8351 GRT, built 1922), Khedive Ismael (British, 7290 GRT, built 1922), Mendoza (British (former French), 8199 GRT, built 1920), Nova Scotia (British, 6796 GRT, built 1926) and Windsor Castle (British, 19141 GRT, built 1922).

The submarine depot ship HMS Adamant (Capt. R.S. Warne, RN) also joined the convoy off Durban.

The battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) also joined off Durban to escort the convoy.

On 8 May 1942 the battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) and the armed merchant cruiser HMS Corfu (Capt.(Retd.) J.P. Landon, RN) departed Mombasa to take over the escort of the convoy. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. W. Harmsen, RNN).

They joined the convoy at 1600/8 after which HMS Revenge proceeded to Mombasa escorted by the two destroyers. They arrived at Mombasa around 1300/9.

At 1900/8, HMS Dauntless was detached for Mombasa taking Almanzora, Cameronia, Khedive Ismael, Mendoza, Nova Scotia and Samaria with her. They also arrived at Mombasa around 1300/9.

HMS Adamant had already arrived at Mombasa on 8 May. She had parted company in the early afternoon of 7 May and proceeded ahead of the convoy.

HMS Royal Sovereign and HMS Corfu then proceeded further north with the remainder of the convoy.

On 10 May the following vessels departed Mombasa for Bombay; Almanzora, Cameronia, Chantilly (British (former French), 9986 GRT, built 1923), Khedive Ismael, Mendoza, Nova Scotia and Samaria. They were escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Ranchi (Capt.(Retd.) Sir J.M. Alleyne, DSO, DSC, RN).

Aound 0900/11, HMS Corfu parted company with the convoy taking with her the City of Edinburgh, City of Lincoln, Elizabethville and Glaucus. These ships were to proceed to Aden.

HMS Royal Sovereign meanwhile continued on to Bombay with the Dunedin Star, Johan van Oldebarnvelt, Kina II, Nieuw Holland and Windsor Castle.

HMS Royal Sovereign with her part of the convoy arrived at Bombay on 16 May 1942.

HMS Ranchi with her part of the convoy arrived at Bombay on 19 May 1942. (2)


  1. ADM 199/426 + ADM 199/1185
  2. ADM 199/426

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

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