HMS Mauritius (80)
Light cruiser of the Fiji class
|Navy||The Royal Navy|
|Built by||Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson Ltd. (Wallsend-on-Tyne, U.K.): Wallsend|
|Ordered||20 Dec 1937|
|Laid down||31 Mar 1938|
|Launched||19 Jul 1939|
|Commissioned||1 Jan 1941|
Arrived at Inverkeithing to be scrapped T.W. Ward Ltd. on 27 March 1965.
Commands listed for HMS Mauritius (80)
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|1||Capt. Leicester Charles Assheton Curzon-Howe, RN||30 Aug 1940||21 Jan 1941|
|2||Cdr. Arthur Reid Pedder, RN||21 Jan 1941||29 Jan 1941|
|3||Capt. William Keith Dene Dowding, RN||29 Jan 1941||31 Jan 1941|
|4||Capt. William Derek Stephens, RN||6 Feb 1941||22 Mar 1943|
|5||Capt. William Wellclose Davis, RN||22 Mar 1943||23 Oct 1944|
|6||Capt. Charles Alfred Evelyn Stanfield, RN||23 Oct 1944||16 Sep 1946|
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Notable events involving Mauritius include:
25 Jan 1941
As the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were reported to have left Kiel, Germany for operations in the Atlantic the Home Fleet sailed late in the evening to intercept them.
The ships that sailed from Scapa Flow were the following, battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN), battlecruiser HMS Repulse (Capt. W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), light cruisers HMS Arethusa (Capt. Q.D. Graham, RN), HMS Galatea (Capt. B.B. Schofield, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.T.B. Curteis, CB, RN), HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, RN), HMS Mauritius (Cdr. A.R. Pedder, RN), HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN), HMS Edinburgh (Capt. C.M. Blackman, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.E. Holland, CB, RN) and HMS Birmingham (Capt. A.C.G. Madden, RN) and the destroyers HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, DSO, RN), HMS Matabele (Cdr. R.St.V. Sherbrooke, DSO, RN), HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN), HMS Tartar (Cdr. L.P. Skipwith, RN), HMS Echo (Cdr. S.H.K. Spurgeon, DSO, RAN), HMS Electra (Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN), HMS Escapade (Cdr. R.E. Hyde-Smith, RN), HMS Beagle (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Wright, DSC, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN), HMS Keppel (Lt. R.J. Hanson, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski).
On the 27th, HMS Rodney, HMS Birmingham, HMS Edinburgh, HMS Mauritius and the destroyers HMS Beagle, HMS Brilliant, HMS Keppel and which the did around 2345/28. HMS Keppel and ORP Piorun returned to Scapa Flow at 0700/29.
They were to remain at Scapa Flow until 30 January when they would sail to relieve units still on patrol to enable them to return to base.
On 30 January the light cruisers HMS Naiad and HMS Phoebe arrived at Scapa Flow at 1100 hours. They were followed about half an hour later by the light cruisers HMS Galatea and HMS Arethusa.
HMS Nelson, HMS Repulse, HMS Bedouin, HMS Matabele, HMS Punjabi, HMS Tartar, HMS Echo, HMS Electra and HMS Escapade arrived at Scapa Flow at 1700/30.
Light cruiser HMS Aurora also returned to Scapa Flow on 30 January.
8 Feb 1941
In response to the sighting of the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau by HMS Ramillies (Capt. A.D. Read, RN) the battlecruiser HMS Repulse (Capt. W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), light cruisers HMS Galatea (Capt. B.B. Schofield, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.T.B. Curteis, CB, RN), HMS Arethusa (Capt. Q.D. Graham, RN), HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, RN), HMS Nigeria (Capt. J.G.L. Dundas, RN) and the destroyers HMS Eskimo (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Matabele (Cdr. R.St.V. Sherbrooke, DSO, RN) and HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN) departed Scapa Flow at 1830/8. They were ordered to proceed to position 62°30'N, 16°00'W.
At 1900/8 the battleship HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN), light cruisers HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.D. Stephens, RN) and HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN), destroyers HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN), HMS Electra (Cdr. C.W. May, RN) and HMS Tartar (Cdr. L.P. Skipwith, RN) departed at 1900/8 to take up a position seventy miles to the south-south-east of the 'Repulse'-group.
In the morning of February, 9th, the battleships HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN) and HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, DSO, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr. H.T. Armstrong, DSC, RN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, RN), HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill Crichton, DSC, RN) and HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN) departed Scapa Flow to proceed to position 65°00'N, 08°30'W.
HMS Arethusa and HMS Nigeria were sent to Reykjavik at 2100/12th to refuel prior after which they were to resume patrol.
HMS Mauritius and HMS Dido returned to Scapa Flow around 1700/11.
HMS Nelson, HMS Eclipse, HMS Electra and HMS Tartar returned to Scapa Flow around 1830/11.
Around 2045/11, HMS Rodney and HMS King George V, HMS Bedouin, HMS Maori, HMS Zulu, HMS Brilliant returned to Scapa Flow. The destroyer HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN) was with them apprently she had joined them at sea. HMS Boreas had been detached to participate in an A/S hunt.
HMS Galatea and HMS Aurora returned to Scapa Flow around 0145/13th.
HMS Repulse, HMS Eskimo, HMS Matabele and HMS Punjabi returned to Scapa Flow around 0315/13.
10 Feb 1941
Around 1800/10, HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN), arrived at Skaale Fiord, Faroes where they embarked fuel.
They departed again around 2200 hours to search for a submarine reported by HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN) to the west of the Faroes in position 60°59'N, 12°44'W. HMS Jackal (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN) is ordered to also proceed to that position to join them there. Later this was changed to position 59°25'N, 09°07'W where a merchant vessel had reported being chased by a submarine.
In the evening the light cruiser HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.D. Stephens, RN) reported attacking a submarine in position 60°59'N, 12°44'W. HMS Kelly and HMS Jackal, which had not joined the other destroyers yet, were ordered to proceeded to that position.
On the 11th the destroyers were joined by the destroyer HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill Crichton, DSC, RN) and in the evening HMS Jackal was ordered to proceed to Scapa Flow to refuel as she had not done so since leaving Plymouth.
23 Mar 1941
Convoy SL 69.
This convoy departed Freetown on 23 March 1941 and arrived at Liverpool on 18 April 1941.
On departure from Freetown this convoy was made up of the following ships; Agioi Victores (Greek, 4344 GRT, built 1918), Alberte le Borgne (British, 3921 GRT, built 1914), Anna (Greek, 5173 GRT, built 1919), Aurillac (British, 4733 GRT, built 1921), Baron Napier (British, 3559 GRT, built 1930), Baronesa (British, 8663 GRT, built 1918), British Justice (British (tanker), 6932 GRT, built 1928), Bulysses (British, 7519 GRT, built 1927), Christine Marie (British, 3895 GRT, built 1919), City of Bath (British, 5079 GRT, built 1926), City of Wellington (British, 5732 GRT, built 1925), Clan Maquarrie (British, 6471 GRT, built 1913), Corilla (Dutch (tanker), 8096 GRT, built 1939), Dago II (British, 1993 GRT, built 1917), Daru (British, 3854 GRT, built 1927), Dornoch (British, 5186 GRT, built 1939), Empire Advocate (British, 5787 GRT, built 1913), Floristan (British, 5478 GRT, built 1928), Glenaffric (British, 7782 GRT, built 1920), Glenbeg (British, 9461 GRT, built 1922), Harpalycus (British, 5629 GRT, built 1935), Hopecastle (British, 5178 GRT, built 1937), L.A. Christensen (Norwegian, 4362 GRT, built 1925), Lekhaven (Dutch, 4802 GRT, built 1921), Madras City (British, 5080 GRT, built 1940), Marton (British, 4969 GRT, built 1933), Mobeka (Belgian, 6111 GRT, built 1937), Mountpark (British, 4648 GRT, built 1938), Narkunda (British, 16632 GRT, built 1920), Nijkerk (Dutch, 5843 GRT, built 1915), Palembang (Dutch, 7070 GRT, built 1921), Pantelis (Greek, 3845 GRT, built 1911), Pontfield (British (tanker), 8319 GRT, built 1940), Roumanie (Belgian, 3658 GRT, built 1906), Salland (Dutch, 6447 GRT, built 1920), San Francisco (Swedish, 4933 GRT, built 1915), Sangara (British, 4174 GRT, built 1939), Sarthe (British, 5271 GRT, built 1920), Selvistan (British, 5136 GRT, built 1924), St. Usk (British, 5472 GRT, built 1909), Swedru (British, 5379 GRT, built 1937) and Tekoa (British, 8695 GRT, built 1922).
On departure from Freetown the convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.D. Stephens, RN), armed merchant cruiser HMS Arawa (A/Capt. G.R. Deverell, RN), sloop Commandant Domine and the corvettes HMS Clematis (Cdr. Y.M. Cleeves, DSC, RD, RNR) and HMS Cyclamen (Lt. H.N. Lawson, RNR).
In the morning of March 25, HMS Mauritius is ordered to proceed to position 07°24'N, 24°35'W and investigate a raider report.
At 1359/25, the battlecruiser HMS Repulse (Capt. W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN) was ordered to complete with fuel and then depart Freetown to overtake the convoy to join the escort. HMS Repulse arrived near the convoy around 1700/27 and then started to provide 'distant' cover.
At 1941/25, the aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN and the destroyers HMS Duncan (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN) and HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN) were ordered to leave Freetown at 0700/26 and to overtake and join the convoy as well. This order was cancelled at 0301/26 but at 1121/26 the ships were ordered to sail as soon as possible to overtake the convoy wich they did around 2300/27 after which the destroyers returned to Freetown.
On 26 March 1941 the convoy was joined by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Bulolo (Capt.(Retd.) R.L. Hamer, RN). She remained with the convoy until March, 29th as did the corvettes HMS Clematis and HMS Cyclamen.
On 29 March, HMS Repulse, HMS Furious, HMS Duncan, HMS Foxhound parted company with the convoy escorting the troopship Narkunda to Gibraltar where they arrived on 3 April.
HMS Mauritius had been ordered to rejoin the convoy when Repulse would leave it. She remained with the convoy until 5 April 1941 when she was relieved by the light cruiser HMS Edinburgh (Capt. C.M. Blackman, DSO, RN).
On 14 April HMS Edinburgh and HMS Arawa parted company with the convoy when the destroyers HMS Roxborough (Lt. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN), HMS Sherwood (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN), sloop HMS Weston (Cdr.(Retd.) J.G. Sutton, RN), and the corvettes HMS Clarkia (Lt.Cdr. F.J.G. Jones, RNR) and HMS Gladiolus (Lt.Cdr. H.M.C. Sanders, DSC, RNR) joined. The next day the two more destroyers; HMS Saladin (Lt.Cdr. L.J. Dover, RN) and HMS Salisbury (Lt.Cdr. H.M.R. Crichton, RN) also joined.
The convoy arrived at Liverpool on 16 April 1941.
26 Apr 1941
Convoy WS 8A
This convoy departed the Clyde on 26 April 1941 for various ports in the Far East and Mediterranean (see below).
The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels and troop transports; Abbekerk (Dutch, 7889 GRT, built 1939), Aronda (British, 8328 GRT, built 1941), Clan Campbell (British, 7255 GRT, built 1937), Clan Chattan (British, 7262 GRT, built 1937), Clan Lamont (British, 7250 GRT, built 1939), Dominion Monarch (British, 27155 GRT, built 1939), Empire Song (British, 9228 GRT, built 1940), Empress of Asia (British, 16909 GRT, built 1913), Empress of Russia (British, 16810 GRT, built 1913), Highland Chieftain (British, 14135 GRT, built 1929), New Zealand Star (British, 12436 GRT, built 1935), Reina del Pacifico (British, 17702 GRT, built 1931), Sobieski (Polish, 11030 GRT, built 1939) and Strathaird (British, 22281 GRT, built 1932).
The armed merchant cruiser HMS Pretoria Castle (A/Capt.(Retd.) A.V. Hemming, RN) also took passage in the convoy.
On departure from the Clyde the convoy was escorted by the battlecruiser HMS Repulse (Capt. W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), light cruiser HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Harvester (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, DSC, RN), HMS Havelock (Cdr. E.H. Thomas, DSC, RN) and HMS Hesperus (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Tait, RN), HMS Hurricane (Lt.Cdr. H.C. Simms, RN), HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN), HMS Beagle, (Lt.Cdr. R.T. White, DSO and Bar, RN), HMCS Ottawa (Cdr. E.R. Mainguy, RCN), HMCS Restigouche (Cdr. H.N. Lay, OBE, RN), HMCS Saguenay (Lt. P.E. Haddon, RCN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski) and the escort destroyer HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, RN).
In the morning of the 29th HMS Beagle and HMS Eridge were detached to join the escort of convoy SL 71.
Shortly afterwards HMS Hurricane was detached to search for the survivors of the liner City of Nagpur that had been torpedoed and sunk earlier that day.
On 30 April, at 0400 hours, HMCS Ottawa, HMCS Restigouche, HMCS Saguaenay, HMS Legion and ORP Piorun parted company.
On 2 May the light cruiser HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.D. Stephens, RN) joined shortly after noon. HMS Naiad was then detached and proceeded to Gibraltar where she arrived around 0900/4.
Earlier that morning HMS Repulse, HMS Harvester, HMS Havelock and HMS Hesperus had parted company with the convoy taking the transports Clan Campbell, Clan Chattan, Clan Lamont, Empire Song and New Zealand Star with them to Gibraltar.
The remainder of the convoy continued southwards. On 5 May the destroyers HMS Duncan (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN) and HMS Wishart (Cdr. E.T. Cooper, RN) joined followed on 6 May by two more destroyers; HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill Crichton, DSC, RN) and HMS Hurricane (Lt.Cdr. H.C. Simms, RN). The convoy arrived at Freetown on 9 May.
The convoy departed Freetown on 14 May having been joined by the Imperial Star (British, 12427 GRT, built 1934). The Highland Chieftain was unable to depart on the 14th. She sailed one day later to overtake the convoy. She was being escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Cicilia (Capt.(Retd.) V.B. Cardwell, OBE, RN).
On leaving Freetown A/S protection was given by the destroyers Highlander, HMS Duncan, HMS Boreas and HMS Wishart until 16 May.
HMS Mauritius was relieved by HMS Hawkins (Capt. H.P.K. Oram, RN) on 24 May.
The convoy arrived at Durban on 27 May minus the Empress of Asia, Imperial Star and Strathaird that had been detached to Capetown on the 24th. The Strathaird departed Capetown on the 25th to rejoin the convoy off Durban.
The remainder of the convoy arrived at Durban on 27 May escorted by HMS Hawkins.
On 31 May the Abbekerk, Aronda, Empress of Russia, Sobieski and Strathaird departed Durban escorted by HMS Hawkins. They arrived at Aden on 10 June after which the troopships / transports proceeded to Suez independently.
5 May 1941
Operation Tiger, supply convoy from Gibraltar to Alexandria and reinforcements for the Mediterranean Fleet and Operation MD 4, supply convoy from Alexandria to Malta and taking up the reinforcements for the Mediterranean Fleet.
Timespan: 5 to 12 May 1941.
5 May 1941.
Part of Convoy WS 8A was approaching Gibraltar from the west. This part of convoy WS 8A was to proceed to Malta during operation ‘Tiger’.
It was made up of five transports; Clan Campbell (7255 GRT, built 1937), Clan Chattan (7262 GRT, built 1937), Clan Lamont (7250 GRT, built 1939), Empire Song (9228 GRT, built 1940) and New Zealand Star (10740 GRT, built 1935). During the passage from the U.K. it had been escorted by the battlecruiser HMS Repulse (Capt. W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), light cruiser HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Harvester (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, DSC, RN), HMS Havelock (Cdr. E.H. Thomas, DSC, RN) and HMS Hesperus (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Tait, RN) (with the additional local escorts when still close to the U.K.)
Around 0700/5, HMS Repulse, HMS Harvester, HMS Havelock and HMS Hesperus were relieved from the escort by the battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Fearless (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN) , HMS Foresight (Cdr. J.S.C. Salter, RN) , HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN) and HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN). The Repulse and the three H-class destroyers then proceeded to Gibraltar to refuel where they arrived shortly before 1800 hours. It had originally been intended to include Repulse in the upcoming operation but she was left at Gibraltar due to her inadequate anti-aircraft armament.
HMS Naiad had already arrived at Gibraltar around 0900/4, having been relieved shortly after noon on the 2nd of May by HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.D. Stephens, RN). Around the same time HMS Naiad arrived at Gibraltar the cruiser HMS Fiji (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, RN) arrived, she had been part of the escort of convoy SL 72.
Shortly before 1000/5, the battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. R.R. McGrigor, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (Capt. L.E.H. Maund, RN), light cruisers HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN), HMS Fiji and the destroyers HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Wrestler (Lt. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN). Kashmir and Kipling had departed a little earlier and carried out an A/S sweep in Gibraltar Bay first.
For the upcoming operation two groups were formed; The cover force which was formed on Renown was group I, the close escort, which was to remain with the transports was group II. When they arrived near the convoy at 1800/5 the group I was formed and was made up of Renown, Queen Elizabeth, Ark Royal, Sheffield, Fiji, Kashmir and Kipling. Group II remained with the convoy and was (for the moment) made up of Fearless, Foresight, Fortune, Velox and Wrestler. Group II and the convoy proceeded towards the Straits of Gibraltar at 13 knots while Group I proceeded to the south until 2130 hours when course was changed to 074°. At 1930 hours, Group I, had been joined by HMS Naiad. This cruiser had sailed from Gibraltar at 1300 hours.
Convoy MW 7B departed Alexandria for Malta this day. It was made up of the Norwegian tankers Hoegh Hood (9351 GRT, built 1936) and Svenor (7616 GRT, built 1931). These tankers were able to proceed at 10 knots. Escort was provided by the AA-cruisers HMS Carlisle (Capt. T.C. Hampton, RN), HMS Coventry (Capt. D. Gilmour, RN), destroyers HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN), HMS HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.A. Marshall-A’Deane, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN). Also part of the escort of this convoy was the corvette HMS Gloxinia (Lt.Cdr. A.J.C. Pomeroy, RNVR) which was to serve as minesweeper at Malta and the whaler HMS Swona which was to be outfitted as minesweeper (LL-sweep) at the Malta Dockyard.
6 May 1941.
The convoy with Group II passed through the Straits of Gibraltar between 0130 and 0330 hours followed by Group I between 0300 and 0430 hours. Although the moon did not set until 0314 hours the sky was completely overcast and visibility was low.
At 0330 hours, HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Harvester, HMS Havelock and HMS Hesperus departed Gibraltar followed at 0420 hours by HMS Gloucester (Capt. H.A. Rowley, RN) which had completed her repairs and undocking shortly before.
By 0550 hours, Group I was about 32 miles to the east of Gibraltar with the convoy and Group II 10 miles to the north. At this time Faulknor, Forester and Fury joined Group I. At 0615 hours Queen Elizabeth with Kashmir and Kelvin was detached to join Group II, followed thirty minutes later by Naiad.
At 0625 hours, Gloucester joined Group I and speed was then increased to 24 knots to draw well ahead of the convoy. During the day Group I steered 060°. Group II was steering parallel to the Spanish coast at 13 knots. Velox and Wrestler were detached from Group II to arrive at Gibraltar after dark to avoid being sighted returning from the East.
At 1740 hours Renown, in position 37°05’N, 00°21’W sighted a French merchant ship most likely en-route to Oran. On sighting the British ships she immediately steered clear to the westward. Shorty afterwards Group I reduced speed to 17 knots as to not get too far ahead of Group II and the convoy.
By midnight Group I was about 150 nautical miles east-north-east of Group II.
The Mediterranean Fleet departed Alexandria in the forenoon, it was made up of the battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. D.B. Fisher, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Admiral Sir A.B. Cunningham, GCB, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Barham (Capt. G.C. Cooke, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. C.E. Morgan, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.W.la T. Bisset, RN), light cruisers HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.D. Pridham-Whippell, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, RN), HMAS Perth (Capt. P.W. Bowyer-Smith, RN), destroyers (D.14) HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN), HMS Juno (Cdr. St. J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN), (D.7) HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, RN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN), HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Havock (Lt. G.R.G. Watkins, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, DSC, RN) and HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN). The fast minesweeper HMS Abdiel (Capt. E. Pleydell-Bouverie, MVO, RN) and the naval transport HMS Breconshire (9776 GRT, built 1939) also sailed with the Fleet. HMS Abdiel was to lay a minefield off Lampedusa. HMS Breconshire had on board oil and petrol for Malta as well as oil to supply this to destroyers at sea. Abdiel took station in the destroyer screen while Breconshire took station in the battleship line. After sailing the fleet proceeded to the northwest. No aircraft were flown off by HMS Formidable due to a dust storm and very limited visibility.
After the Fleet sailed, convoy MW 7A departed Alexandria. It was made up of four transport vessels; Amerika (10218 GRT, built 1930), Settler (6202 GRT, built 1939), Talabot (6798 GRT, built 1936) and Thermopylae (6655 GRT, built 1930). These were able to proceed at 14 knots. Escort was provided by the light cruisers HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN), HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN), AA-cruiser HMS Calcutta (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN) and the destroyers (D.2) HMS Ilex (Capt. H.St.L. Nicholson, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Isis (Cdr. C.S.B. Swinley, DSC, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt. W.J. Munn, RN) and HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO, RN).
One of the destroyers from the escort of convoy MW 7B, HMS Defender, that had sailed on the 5th had to return to Alexandria due to condenser problems.
7 May 1941.
At 0400 hours, Group II, which was approximately 30 nautical miles east of Cape Palos, altered course to the south for about two hours before turning eastwards for the run to Malta.
Group I meanwhile had altered course to the northward at 0130 hours to pass between Ibiza and Majorca in order to carry out a diversion to the north of the Baleares during the day should this appear desirable.
By 0715 hours there was no indication that Group I had been sighted, and as visibility varied from poor to moderate, course was altered to pass again between Ibiza and Majorca to reach a position well ahead of Group II so as to divert any attention of any enemy aircraft from Group II and the convoy.
At 1000 hours, when 33 nautical miles south-west of Malta, Group I encountered a small Spanish fishing vessel which was seen to proceed towards Palma de Majorca.
At noon, Group I altered course to 140°. At 1630 hours course was altered to 100° to keep about 40 nautical miles to the eastward of Group II. Group I streamed paravanes at 1800 hours.
At 1945 hours, two Sunderland flying boats flying east passed north of the force and did not identify themselves till challenged. At the same time smoke was sighted astern and shortly afterwards a fighter aircraft reported that it was the convoy at a distance of 26 nautical miles.
At 2100 hours, Group I altered course to the north-east until dark in order to mislead any hostile aircraft. The sky had been overcast all day but towards the evening the visibility improved considerably and the convoy was clearly visible to the southwestward making a great deal of smoke.
At 2225 hours, RD/F in Fiji detected a group of aircraft bearing 170°, range 30 miles. The bearing changed to 154° and the range opened to 40 miles until the echo faded at 2230 hours. Group I altered course to 080° at 2300 hours.
All forces continued on their way during the day without incident. Destroyers were being fuelled from Breconshire one at a time.
The submarine HMS Triumph reported three transports proceeding towards Benghazi. Accordingly HMS Ajax, HMS Havock, HMS Hotspur and HMS Imperial were detached to attack Benghazi during the night of 7/8 May.
The Vice-Admiral Malta reported that the harbour had been mined and that the destroyers based at Malta were therefore unable to leave the harbour and participate in the convoy operations.
8 May 1941.
Soon after midnight Group I had to alter course to avoid being sighted by a lighted merchant ship steering a course of 110°.
At 0535 hours, HMS Ark Royal launched three reconnaissance A.S.V. aircraft in position 38°06’N, 06°26’E to search to the eastward south of Sardinia. At 0700 hours a fourth aircraft was flown off to search to the west of Sardinia. These aircraft returned at 0800 hours and had nothing to report. They had covered 140 miles to the eastward and 50 miles to the westward. Group I then proceeded to join the convoy. The first fighter patrol was flown off by Ark Royal at 0830 hours.
By 1000 hours, Group I had joined the convoy, which was proceeding on a course of 085° at 14 knots. This was the Clan Campbell’s best speed. Renown and Ark Royal took station on the starboard side of the convoy in order to facilitate flying operations and at the same time provide AA protection for the convoy. Queen Elizabeth took station astern of Ark Royal to provide AA protection for this vulnerable ship. Gloucester and Fiji formed on the transport ships.
At 1115 hours an enemy signal was intercepted that our forces had been sighted at 0800 hours. Naiad detected an enemy aircraft approaching at 1133 hours and three minutes later a large float-plane emerged from the clouds ahead of the convoy. Naiad opened fire and the aircraft retreated into the clouds. Fighters were sent in pursuit but failed to intercept. At noon a full and accurate report was made by this float-plane on the composition of our forces.
The sky cleared to some extent at noon, it had been overcast all morning. Visibility continued to improve all day although considerable cloud prevailed until the evening.
At 1345 hours, eight aircraft were seen approaching very low, fine on the starboard bow. These were engaged as they approached, but the AA fire appeared to be not very well directed. Torpedoes were dropped from outside the destroyer screen, which was roughly 3000 yards ahead of the convoy and extended to starboard to cover Renown, Ark Royal and Queen Elizabeth. The four Fulmar fighters on patrol at this time were engaging CR. 42 fighters that had accompanied these torpedo aircraft.
Torpedoes were evidently aimed at Renown and Ark Royal but by very skilful handling by the Commanding Officers of these two ships all tracks were combed or avoided. Two torpedoes passed close to Renown. A third which was being successfully combed made a sudden alteration of 60° towards Renown and a hit forward seemed inevitable when the torpedo reached the end of it’s run and sank. Two torpedoes passed to port and two to starboard of Ark Royal.
Of the eight aircraft which attacked one was brought down during the approach, probably by AA fire from the destroyers. Two others were seen to fall from the sky during their retirement. The destroyers were disappointingly slow in opening fire on the approaching torpedo-bombers and a full barrage never developed. During the action between the Fulmar’s and the CR. 42’s one Fulmar was brought down and the crew of two was lost.
At 1400 hours a few bomb splashes were observed on the horizon to the northwestward.
At 1525 hours, two sections of Fulmar’s attacked and shot down in flames an S.79 shadower. On returning from this attack one Fulmar had to make a forced landing on the water about 9 nautical miles from the fleet. HMS Foresight closed the position and was able to pick up the crew of two. At this time the fleet was about 28 nautical miles north of Galita Island.
At 1600 hours, as the wind had backed from south of east to north of east. The starboard column; Renown, Ark Royal and Queen Elizabeth, was moved over to the port quarter of the convoy and the destroyer screen was readjusted accordingly. This allowed freedom of manoeuvre for flying operations and enabled the column to increase speed and snake the line whenever a bombing attack developed, in order to hamper the bombers and at the same time remain in a position to afford full AA support of the convoy.
The first high level bombing attack of the day developed at 1622 hours when three S.79’s approached from astern at about 5000 feet, i.e. just under the cloud level. One, diverted by AA fire, jettisoned his bombs and subsequently crashed astern of the Fleet. The other two dropped twelve bombs close ahead of Ark Royal and escaped into the clouds. It is probable that both of these were hit by the concentrated AA fire with which they were met. About 10 minutes later a single aircraft approached from astern and encountering heavy AA fire turned across the stern of the Fleet, dropping its bombs well clear.
At 1710 hours, another S.79 shadower was shot down in flames on the port quarter of the Fleet by a Fulmar fighter. Twenty minutes later five S.79’s attacked the fleet from south to north. Two broke formation under gunfire and the remainder delivered a poor attack, bombs falling near the destroyer screen. A similar attack by three S.79’s took place at 1800 hours, when bombs were again dropped near the destroyer screen.
The provision a adequate fighter protection for the Fleet was a difficult problem with the small numbers of fighters available. Aircraft returned to the carrier at various times with damage and failure of undercarriage, and every opportunity was taken, whenever the RD/F screen cleared to land on, refuel and rearm the Fulmars, sometimes singly and sometimes two or three at a time. There were occasions when no more then two fighters were in the air, but whenever an attack appeared to be impending every fighter that could be made serviceable was sent up.
At 1910 hours enemy aircraft were detected at a range of 70 miles approaching from Sicily. At this time only seven Fulmars remained serviceable of which only three were in the air. The other four were immediately flown off. The total number of hostile aircraft is uncertain, but the Fulmars sighted three separate formations of sixteen Ju.87’s, twelve Ju.87’s and six Me.110’s. One formation was seen from Renown for a short time at 1933 hours in a patch of clear sky. RD/F indicated several formations circling to the northwest of the Fleet for nearly one hour and several bomb splashes were seen well away to the northward and northwestward. During this period Fulmars intercepted the enemy and, although greatly outnumbered, fought several vigorous and gallant actions, resulting in the certain destruction of one Ju.87 and damage to several others, including at least one Me.110. These attacks disorganised the enemy and forced them to the northward with the result that they probably missed sighting the Fleet. They then entered thick cloud and it is possible that the groups became separated and all cohesion in the attack disappeared. Whatever the reason RD/F showed these groups retiring to the northward and no attack on the Fleet developed.
The Fleet reached the entrance to the Skerki Channel at 2015 hours. ‘Force B’ then turned westwards. It was made up of Renown, Ark Royal, Sheffield, Harvester, Havelock and Hesperus. Queen Elizabeth was ordered to join ‘Force F’.
The turn to the west was just being completed when ‘Force B’ was attacked at 2030 hours by three torpedo-bombers which came from right ahead. The destroyers were still manoeuvering to take up their screening positions and did not sight the enemy aircraft in time to put up a barrage of AA fire. This attack was pressed home by the enemy with great determination. All three aircraft were heavily engaged and two were seen to be hit. Renown combed the torpedo tracks, two passing close down the port side and one down the starboard side.
During this attack No. P (port) 3, 4.5” gun turret in Renown malfunctioned and fired two round into the back of No. P 2 gun turret. This resulted in five ratings killed, five seriously wounded of which one later died and one officer and twenty-five ratings wounded.
Speed was increased to 24 knots at 2038 hours and a westerly course was maintained throughout the night.
As a result of the day’s air attacks, seven enemy aircraft were destroyed, two probably destroyed and at least three, probably more, damaged. Of the seven destroyed AA fire accounted for four and feighters for three. No hits, either by bomb or torpedo were obtained on our ships, nor were there any casualties besides than caused by the accident in Renown. Two Fulmars were lost, the crew of one of them was saved.
Meanwhile the convoy continued eastwards escorted now by HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Naiad, HMS Gloucester, HMS Fiji, HMS Faulknor, HMS Fearless, HMS Foresight, HMS Forester, HMS Fortune, HMS Fury, HMS Kashmir and HMS Kipling.
Visibility was still poor with patches of heavy rain. This helped the Fleet and convoy from being detected by the enemy and attacked by aircraft. On the other hand it resulted in the loss of two Albacore aircraft. One Fulmar was lost in combat with enemy aircraft.
HMS Ajax, HMS Havock, HMS Hotspur and HMS Imperial rejoined the Fleet at 1700 hours. Their attack on Benghazi had been successful although there was little shipping in the harbour two transports were intercepted after the bombardment. The largest blew up, and the other was ran aground and was left on fire after several explosions. These were the Italian Tenace (1142 GRT, built 1881) and Capitano A. Cecchi (2321 GRT, built 1933).
The Fleet remained with convoy MW 7A during the day and at dark moved to the southward. HMS Dido, HMS Phoebe, HMS Calcutta, HMS Carlisle and HMS Coventry were detached from their convoy’s to join the Tiger convoy coming from Gibraltar.
Both MW convoy’s made direct for Malta escorted by HMS Hotspur, HMS Havock and HMS Imperial. All other destroyers had been oiled from Breconshire during the past two days.
9 May 1941.
Further torpedo-bomber attacks were expected and a screen made up of Sheffield and the three destroyers was stationed ahead, astern and on either beam of Renown and Ark Royal at 5000 yards. The night was however uneventful and at 0800 hours speed was reduced to 20 knots and screening diagram no.4 was resumed by the escorts.
A shadower was detected, bearing 115°, range 12 nautical miles at 1027 hours. Two fighters were flown off but failed to intercept the enemy. An enemy sighting report was intercepted in Renown.
At 1100 hours a merchant vessel was sighted in position 37°54’N, 03°30’E about 8 nautical miles to the northward. At the same time Ark Royal reported that a periscope had been sighted about 4000 yards away. No further action was taken as detaching a single destroyer to search for the submarine was thought to be of little use and it was not thought wise to detach more then one destroyer as there were only three present.
At 1300 hours course was altered to 145° and speed reduced to 16 knots to conserve fuel in the destroyers.
At 1700 hours five search aircraft were flown off from position 37°27’N, 01°29’E to search between bearings 045° and 340° from Oran and south of parallel 38°45’N. Nothingwas sighted except for a merchant vessel. A Fulmar was also flown off to carry out a reconnaissance of Oran. This aircraft took photographs and reported the battlecruiser Dunkerque in her usual position at Mers-el-Kebir surrounded by nets, with lighters alongside and a pontoon gangway to the shore. One large and two small destroyers were sighted inside Oran harbour and probably six or seven submarines.
The six destroyers from the 8th Destroyer Flotilla which had taken part in getting the ‘Tiger’ convoy to as far as Malta sailed from there at 2000B/9 for their return passage to Gibraltar. HMS Foresight however had to return to Malta with an engine problem.
At 2200 hours ‘Force B’ altered course to the eastward as to be in a position to support the destroyers during their passage west at daylight the next day when they were passing south of Sardinia.
The Tiger convoy and it’s escort.
Shortly after midnight the transport Empire Song was mined and damaged. Initially she was able to remain with the convoy but around 0140 hours she was slowly sinking having also been on fire. The destroyers HMS Foresight and HMS Fortune were detached to stand by her. In the end Empire Song blew up during which Foresight was damaged.
The transport New Zealand Star was also damaged but she was able to remain with the convoy as her speed was not affected.
The convoy was attacked by torpedo-bombers early in the night but no damage was done by them. One torpedo passed very close to HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Around 0700 hours the Tiger convoy was joined by HMS Dido and HMS Phoebe. An hour later HMS Calcutta, HMS Carlisle and HMS Coventry also joined.
At 1515 hours the Tiger convoy made rendez-vous with the Mediterreanean Fleet about 50 nautical miles south of Malta.
Convoy’s MW 7A and MW 7B both arrived safely at Malta. Both were swept in by HMS Gloxinia who succeeded in exploding a number of mines. The 5th Destroyer Flotilla was then also able to leave the harbour and they joined the Mediterranean Fleet; these were HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) , HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) and HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN)
Also Breconshire arrived at Malta where she fuelled HMS Hotspur, HMS Havock and HMS Imperial.
As said above, at 1515 hours the Tiger convoy made rendez-vous with the Mediterreanean Fleet about 50 nautical miles south of Malta. HMS Queen Elizabeth then joined the battleship column. The Fleet then turned eastward but remained near the convoy for the remainder of the day. During the night he Fleet covered the convoy from a position to the north-eastward of it.
10 May 1941.
At 0700 hours, when in position 37°35’N, 03°02’E, course was altered to the westward at 15 knots. This being the most comfortable speed for the destroyers in the rising westerly gale.
At 1000 hours, the Capt. (D) 8th Destroyer Flotilla, reported he was in position 37°18’N, 08°45’E steering 275° at 28 knots. He also reported hat his ships were being shadowed by enemy aircraft. The enemy aircraft report was intercepted at 1025 hours. Course was then altered by ‘Force B’ to the eastward to reduce the distance between the two forces.
At 1100 hours, the Capt. (D) 8th Destroyer Flotilla, reported he was in position 37°22’N, 07°54’E, still steering 275° at 28 knots. The destroyers were still being shadowed.
At noon ‘Force B’ altered course to the westward. The wind was by then force 8 with a rising sea. Ten minutes later the enemy aircraft was again heard to report the position of the 8th Destroyer Flotilla and it’s course and speed.
At 1300 hours, the Capt. (D) 8th Destroyer Flotilla, reported he was in position 37°25’N, 07°01’E, steering 270° at 28 knots and that his ships were still being shadowed. At this time ‘Force B’ was 134 nautical miles to the westward and they could only maintain 13 knots in the sea without suffering damage. In view of the weather conditions and the fact that HMS Ark Royal had now only four serviceable fighters available it was not possible to afford the 8th Destroyer Flotilla any fighter protection without hazarding Ark Royal unduly. It was hoped that if an attack would develop the destroyers were able to avoid damage by high speed manoeuvring.
At 1430 hours a signal was received that the 8th Destroyer Flotilla was being bombed in position 37°25’N, 06°18’E and that HMS Fortune had been hit and her speed had been reduced to 8 knots. ‘Force B’ immediately altered course to the eastward and ran before the sea at 24 knots the maximum safe speed for the destroyers in the prevailing weather conditions.
An unidentified aircraft that had been detected by RD/F overtook the force at 1530 hours and was fired at by HMS Sheffield. The aircraft retired to the northward before resuming it’s easterly course. A reconnaissance of three aircraft was flown off at 1600 hours to cover the area to the northward and eastward of the 8th Destroyer Flotilla to maximum depth, in case enemy surface units were out in pursuit. These aircraft reported having sighted nothing on their return.
At 1750 hours a signal was received that the 8th Destroyer Flotilla had been subjected to another bombing attack but that no damage had been done. ‘Force B’ continued eastwards to provide close support in case of more air attacks.
At 1820 hours rendes-vous was made with the 8th Destroyer Flotilla and all ships proceeded westwards steering 280° at 12 knots. This was the best course and speed HMS Fortune could maintain. By this time this destroyer was down by the stern with seas breaking continually over her quarterdeck.
Five search aircraft were flown off by Ark Royal to search to maximum depth between 025° and 090°. Nothing was sighted except for one enemy aircraft. By 2030 hours all aircraft had returned.
As a speed of 12 knots subjected Fortune’s bulkhead to undue strain, HMS Fury was ordered to escort Fortune and proceed at 8 knots for the night. The remainder of the force zig-zagged, clear of these two destroyers, at higher speed.
It became also clear that Fortune had not received a direct hit but that five near misses had bent one shaft and caused flooding in several compartments aft, and minor flooding in the engine room.
The Battlefleet remained near the convoy for the entire day. Visibility improved throughout the day although conditions were still difficult for the enemy to attack from the air. One Ju.88 aircraft was shot down and another one was damaged. One Fulmar was lost when taking off from Formidable.
No enemy air attacks developed until dark when a number of aircraft, probably torpedo bombers, endeavoured to attack the convoy and battlefleet. A very heavy blind barrage of AA fire however kept them off and no torpedoes were seen.
At 1700 hours, Capt. D.5 in HMS Kelly was detached with the ships of the 5th Destroyer Flotilla (besides Kelly these were Kashmir, Kelvin, Kipling and Jackal) to bombard Benghazi before returning to Malta. The bombardment was carried out successfully. Following the bombardment they were dive bombed by German aircraft and all but Kipling were near missed. The Flotilla reached Malta p.m. on the 11th.
11 May 1941.
At 0532 hours, Vice-Admiral Somerville sent a signal to the Vice-Admiral commanding the North Atlantic station at Gibraltar reporting the position, course and speed of his forces. He also requested a tug to be sent for the assistance of HMS Fortune.
The wind eased considerably during the morning and at daylight Fortune and Fury were sighted about 4 nautical miles in advance of the Fleet and making good about 10 knots.
A reconnaissance of six aircraft were flown off at 0700 hours. These searched for a depth of about 140 miles between 030° and 085°. Visibility was reported as being 10 to 20 miles. Also a search was conducted for a depth of about 100 miles between 085° and 110° with a visibility of 3 to 5 miles. Only a few French merchant vessels were sighted.
Nothing happened during the day.
At 1700 hours a reconnaissance was flown of from position 36°54’N, 01°11’E to a depth of 180 nautical miles between north and east and to a depth of 90 nautical miles between north and 290°. The visibility was reported as being 10 to 15 nautical miles. Nothing was sighted.
The Fleet turned to the eastward for an hour before dark to take up a position well astern of Fortune and Fury during the night.
The Tiger convoy and the Fleet continued eastwards. Enemy aircraft were in the vicinity all day but no attacks developed. One Ju.88 was shot down and another one was damaged, one Fulmar was lost. At dark the cruisers were detached to proceed to Alexandria and the Fleet went on ahead of the convoy.
12 May 1941.
Just before daylight contact was made by the Fleet with Fortune and Fury. At dawn the tug HMS St. Day and four ML’s arrived from Gibraltar.
HMS Sheffield, HMS Harvester, HMS Hesperus and the four ML’s then remained with HMS Fortune and HMS Fury. Fortune was now able to make 12 knots.
HMS Renown and HMS Ark Royal, screened by HMS Faulknor, HMS Fearless, HMS Forester, HMS Foresight and HMS Havelock, then proceeded ahead to conduct flying exercises east of Gibraltar before entering harbour.
A reconnaissance was flown off at 0800 hours to search to the east but nothing was sighted. On their return these aircraft made a practice attack on Renown and Ark Royal. More exercises were carried out during the day.
The Fleet arrived at Gibraltar at 1800 hours. Renown berthed in no.1 dock to enable her damaged 4.5” gun turret to be hoised out.
HMS Sheffield entered harbour at 2030 hours followed shortly afterwards by the damaged Fortune and her escorts.
The bulk of the Fleet arrived at Alexandria around 1000 hours. The convoy arrived later, around 1300 hours. Some ships had been detached from the fleet to arrive early, fuel and then depart again for escort duties. (1)
31 Aug 1941
Convoy WS 11
This convoy assembled in the Clyde area on 31 August 1941 for the far east.
The convoy was made up of the following merchant ships; Abosso (11330 GRT, built 1935), Barrister (6348 GRT, built 1939), Bhutan (6104 GRT, built 1929), City of Edinburgh (8036 GRT, built 1938), City of Manchester (8917 GRT, built 1935), Duchess of York (20021 GRT, built 1929), Empress of Australia (21833 GRT, built 1914), Glaucus (7596 GRT, built 1921), Glenorchy (8982 GRT, built 1939), Kina II (9823 GRT, built 1939), Largs Bay (14182 GRT, built 1921), Manchester Progress (5620 GRT, built 1938), Mooltan (20952 GRT, built 1923), Northumberland (11558 GRT, built 1915), Orontes (20097 GRT, built 1929), Otranto (20026 GRT, built 1925), Scythia (19761 GRT, built 1920), Viceroy of India (19627 GRT, built 1929). The netlayer HMS Guardian (A/Capt. H.A.C. Lane, RN) also sailed in this convoy.
Escort was initially provided by the battlecruiser HMS Repulse (Capt. W.G. Tennant, MVO, RN), the aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), the light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. A.W. Clarke, RN) (31 August – 2 September), the anti-aircraft cruiser HMS Cairo (A/Capt. I.R.H. Black, RN) (31 August – 2 September), the armed merchant cruiser HMS Derbyshire (Capt.(Retd.) E.A.B. Stanley, MVO, DSO, RN), the destroyers HMS Cossack (Capt. E.L. Berthon, DSC and Bar, RN) (31 August – 4 September), HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, RN) (31 August – 4 September), HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN) (31 August – 4 September), HMS Lively (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN) (31 August – 4 September), HMS Highlander (Cdr. S. Boucher, RN), HMS Winchelsea (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, OBE, DSC, RN) (31 August – 2 September), HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. J. Houtsmuller, RNN) (31 August – 2 September), ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski) (31 August – 3 September), ORP Garland (Lt.Cdr. K.F. Namiesniowski) (31 August – 3 September), the sloops HMIS Sutlej (Capt. P.A. Mare, RIN), HMS HMS Sennen (Lt.Cdr. D.C. Kinloch, RN) and HMS Totland (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) S.G.C. Rawson, RN).
HMS Cairo and HrMs Isaac Sweers parted company with the convoy on 2 September and proceeded to Northern Ireland. HMS Sheffield also left the convoy later this day.
ORP Piorun and ORP Garland parted company with the convoy shortly after noon on 3 September to assist a merchant vessel that was being bombed by German aircraft. By then HMS Winchelsea had also left the convoy.
HMS Furious was destined for Gibraltar and operated mainly a little away from the convoy. She left the convoy around 1100 hours on 4 September arrived at Gibraltar on 7 September escorted by HMS Cossack, HMS Zulu, HMS Legion and HMS Lively.
Shortly afterwards around 1300 hours on 4 September the convoy split into two sections, these were; WS 11F (Fast); This convoy was made up of the merchants Bhutan, City of Edinburgh, Duchess of York, Empress of Australia, Glenorchy, Kina II, Largs Bay, Mooltan, Orontes, Otranto, Scythia, Viceroy of India. HMS Guardian was also part of this convoy.
Escort for this part of the convoy was provided by; HMS Repulse, HMIS Sutlej (Later went to the escort of convoy WS 11S), HMS Highlander (detached to fuel at the Azores), HMAS Nestor (Cdr. A.S. Rosenthal, RAN) (joined around noon on 4 September coming from Gibraltar) and HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN) (joined around 0800 hours on 7 September coming from Gibraltar).
Most of these ships oiled at sea from the RFA tanker Rapidol (2648 GRT, built 1917) (Master Lt.Cdr. A.E. Curtain, OBE, RNR). Rapidol later joined convoy WS 11S. At least HMS Highlander oiled at Ponta Delgada, Azores, she rejoined the convoy around noon on 6 September.
In the morning of 11 September 1941 two destroyers coming from Freetown joined the escort, these were HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN) and HMS Wrestler (Lt. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN). Later that day, around 1400 hours, the corvette HMS Starwort (Lt.Cdr. N.W. Duck, RD, RNR) also joined the escort. Shortly afterwards HMS Highlander parted company with the convoy and proceeded to Bathurst.
This part of the convoy arrived at Freetown on 13 September 1941.
The other section of the convoy was WS 11S (Slow); This convoy was made up of the merchants Abosso, Barrister, City of Manchester, Glaucus Manchester Progress and Northumberland.
Escort for this part of the convoy was provided by; HMS Derbyhire, HMS Sennen and HMS Totland.
This part of the convoy arrived at Freetown on 15 September 1941.
At Freetown the convoy (now called WS 11B) was re-grouped and departed from there on 18 September 1941 for the Cape.
The convoy was now made up of the merchants Barrister, Bhutan, City of Edinburgh, City of Manchester, Duchess of York, Empress of Australia, Glaucus, Glenorchy, Kina II, Largs Bay, Manchester Progress, Mooltan, Orontes, Otranto, Scythia, Viceroy of India and the Dutch liner (troopship) Nieuw Zeeland (11069 GRT, built 1928) joined the convoy at Freetown.
Escort was provided by the battlecruiser HMS Renown and the armed merchant cruiser Derbyshire. A/S escort was provided until 1800 hours 20 September 1941 by the destroyers HMS Velox and HMS Wrestler after which these returned to Freetown.
On 30 September the following ships put into Capetown escorted by HMS Derbyshire; Bhutan, City of Edinburgh, City of Manchester, Duchess of York, Glaucus, Glenorchy, Kina II, Largs Bay, Orontes, Viceroy of India and Nieuw Zeeland.
The other ships; Barrister, Empress of Australia, Manchester Progress, Mooltan, Otranto and Scythia arrived at Durban on 3 October escorted by HMS Repulse.
On 3 October 1941, Bhutan, City of Edinburgh, City of Manchester, Duchess of York, Glaucus, Glenorchy, Kina II, Largs Bay, Orontes, Viceroy of India and Nieuw Zeeland departed Capetown still escorted by HMS Derbyshire.
On 7 October 1941, Barrister, Manchester Progress, Mooltan, Otranto as well as the transports City of Canterbury (8331 GRT, built 1922), Dilwara (11080 GRT, built 1936), Eastern Prince (10926 GRT, built 1929), Johan de Witt (Dutch, 10474 GRT, built 1920), Llandaff Castle (10799 GRT, built 1926), Nieuw Holland (Dutch, 11066 GRT, built 1927) and Pulaski (Polish, 6516 GRT, built 1912). They were escorted by the battlecruiser Repulse until 13 October when she was relieved by HMS Ceres (Capt. H.H. McWilliam, RN). On 8 October these ships joined up with the ships coming from Capetown. HMS Derbyshire then left the convoy and returned to Capetown.
In the afternoon of 17 October 1941, HMS Glasgow (Capt. H. Hickling, DSO, RN) made rendez-vous with the convoy and then parted company taking the following ships with her; Barrister, City of Edinburgh, Duchess of York, Glaucius, Glenorchy, Johan de Witt, Kina II, Largs Bay, Orontes, Otranto, Nieuw Zeeland, Viceroy of India.
The other ships continued with HMS Ceres towards Aden where they arrived on 19 October 1941.
The ships taken over by HMS Glasgow proceeded to Bombay where they arrived on 22 October 1941. Three ships taken over by HMS Glasgow however were destined for Basra. One of these, the Barrister was unable to keep up with the convoy and was detached on 18 October. This ship arrived at Basra on 25 October. The other two ships destined for Basra, City of Edinburgh and Glenorchy were detached on 19 October and both arrived at Basra on 23 October 1941.
On 27 October 1941 the convoy departed Bombay for Colombo escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Hector (Capt.(Retd.) F. Howard, DSC, RN). The convoy was now made up of the transports; Glaucus, Johan de Witt, Kina II, Largs Bay, Nieuw Zeeland, Orion (23371 GRT, built 1935) and Ellenga (5196 GRT, built 1911).
They arrived at Colombo on 30 October 1941, minus the Kina II which was detached on 29 October and proceeded independently to Trincomalee.
On 31 October 1941 the convoy, now made up of Ellenga, Glaucus, Johan de Witt, Largs Bay, Nieuw Zeeland Orion and Rangitiki (16698 GRT, built 1929) departed Colombo for Singapore. The convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.D. Stephens, RN). They arrived at Singapore on 6 November 1941. (2)
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.
4 May 1943
From 4 May to 7 May 1943 ships from the Eastern Fleet conducted exercises off Kilindini.
In the morning of the 4th the heavy cruiser HMS Sussex (Capt. W.Y.La R. Beverley, RN) and light cruiser HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.W. Davis, RN, flying the flag of Adm. J.F. Somerville, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN) departed Kilindini.
They were followed in the afternoon by the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. G.B. Middleton, CBE, RN), light cruisers HMS Capetown (Capt. C.L. Robertson, RN), HMS Gambia (Capt. M.J. Mansergh, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Kenya (Capt. D.P. Evans, RN) and the destroyers HMAS Napier (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Green, DSC, RAN) and HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, RN).
All ships returned to the harbour in the morning of May 7th minus HMS Mauritius which returned in the afternoon. (6)
19 Jun 1943
HMS Newfoundland (Capt. W.R. Slayter, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C.H.J. Harcourt, CBE, RN) and HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.W. Davis, RN) conducted exercises in the Gulf of Suez. (7)
20 Jun 1943
HMS Newfoundland (Capt. W.R. Slayter, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C.H.J. Harcourt, CBE, RN) and HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.W. Davis, RN) both conducted exercises in the Gulf of Suez. (7)
13 Jul 1943
The bombardment force of the Acid area; made up of the light cruisers HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.W. Davis, RN), HMS Uganda (Capt. W.G. Andrewes, RN) and the destroyer HMS Nubian (Cdr. D.E. Holland-Martin, DSC, RN) [the damaged destroyer HMS Eskimo (Capt. J.W.M. Eaton, DSO, DSC, RN) had been towed to Malta by her sister ship HMS Tartar (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN)] and the bombardment force of the Bark area; the light cruisers HMS Newfoundland (Capt. W.R. Slayter, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C.H.J. Harcourt, CBE, RN), HMS Orion (Capt. G.C.P. Menzies, RN) and the destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, DSO, RN), HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN) and HMS Loyal (Lt.Cdr. H.E.F. Tweedie, DSC, RN) joined company [' Force K '].
Around 0500 hours several enemy aircraft attacked ' Force K '. Bombs were dropped close to HMS Laforey but she sustained no damage.
During the day several bombardments were carried out. Around 0900 hours HMS Mauritius commenced a bombardment of the towns of Lentini and Carlentini. She had to break off this bombardment at 0923 hours when a heavy shore battery opened fire on her. This battery was then taken under fire between 0940 and 1000 hours.
At 1000 hours another coastal battery near Brucoli was then being fired upon briefly by HMS Newfoundland and all destroyers.
Also around this time HMS Orion, HMS Uganda and HMS Nubian parted company to proceed to Malta to load ammunition and fuel. They arrived at Malta around 1430 hours.
Around noon both HMS Loyal and HMS Mauritius reported being attacked by aircraft.
Around 1630 hours, HMS Loyal was detached to Malta.
Between 1700 and 1724 hours, HMS Mauritius bombarded a target to the south of Catania. Coastal batteries opened fire on her and at 1724 she was straddled and then withdrew out of range of the heavy coastal battery.
At 1705 hours, HMS Newfoundland briefly bombarded Lentini (only for 2 minutes).
Between 1745 and 1800 hours, HMS Mauritius bombarded Lentini.
At 1950 hours, HMS Newfoundland, HMS Mauritius, HMS Laforey and HMS Lookout formed formation and retired to seaward for the night.
HMS Newfoundland had carried out two bombardments on this day and HMS Mauritius seven. The monitor HMS Erebus (Cdr.(Retd.) H.W. D'Arcy-Evans, RN) was also operating in the area. (8)
14 Jul 1943
Around 0600 hours the ships of ' Force K ' that were currently operating of the east coast of Sicily were once again ordered to act independently. These were HMS Newfoundland (Capt. W.R. Slayter, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C.H.J. Harcourt, CBE, RN), HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.W. Davis, RN), HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, DSO, RN) and HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN).
During the day these ships were attacked several times by enemy aircraft but no damage was sustained.
At 0710 hours, HMS Mauritius and HMS Laforey opened fire on the town of Lentini. At 0730 hours, HMS Mauritius came under fire from shore batteries.
At 0839 hours, HMS Newfoundland opened fire on an enemy battery. Fire was ceased at 0916 hours when the battery was reported to have been destroyed.
At 1110 hours, HMS Newfoundland opened fire on a machine gun nest. Fire was ceased at 1119 hours when it was reported to have been destroyed.
At 1450 hours, HMS Newfoundland opened fire on a shore target. Fire was ceased at 1525 hours when it was reported to have been destroyed.
At 1705 hours, HMS Newfoundland opened fire on an enemy gun emplacement. Fire was ceased at 1735 hours when the target was reported to have been destroyed. Heavy explosions were observed in the target area.
Around 1800 hours, HMS Newfoundland, HMS Mauritius, HMS Laforey and HMS Lookout departed the area to proceed to Malta to fuel and re-ammunition. They arrived at Malta around 2215 hours.
Around 2020 hours, both HMS Uganda and HMS Orion commenced a short bombardment of Catania. Fire was ceased after around ten minutes. (9)
16 Jul 1943
HMS Newfoundland (Capt. W.R. Slayter, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C.H.J. Harcourt, CBE, RN), HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.W. Davis, RN), HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, DSO, RN) and HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN) departed Malta for operations off the east coast of Sicily.
At 1340 hours, HMS Newfoundland opened fire on an enemy target near Misterbianco. Fire was ceased around 1435 hours.'
At 1445 hours, HMS Mauritius bombarded the road between Misterbianco and Catania. Fire was ceased around 1520 hours.
In the evening HMS Newfoundland, HMS Mauritius, HMS Laforey and HMS Lookout entered Augusta. (10)
19 Jul 1943
During this day the light cruisers HMS Newfoundland (Capt. W.R. Slayter, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C.H.J. Harcourt, CBE, RN), HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.W. Davis, RN), destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, DSO, RN), HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN) and the dutch sloop HMS Flores (Lt.Cdr. J.S. Bax, RNN) engaged a total of seventeen targets on the east coast of Sicily, including nine batteries, in answer to calls from the army. (11)
22 Jul 1943
Late in the morning the light cruisers HMS Newfoundland (Capt. W.R. Slayter, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C.H.J. Harcourt, CBE, RN), HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.W. Davis, RN), destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, DSO, RN), HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN) and HMS Loyal (Lt.Cdr. H.E.F. Tweedie, DSC, RN) were cruising off Catania to commence a bombardment when they were taken under fire from long range by unlocated enemy batteries to the north of Catania. Early in the afternoon they came under attack from enemy aircraft and bombs were dropped close to HMS Loyal.
The force then returned to Augusta without having carried out any bombardments. (12)
23 Jul 1943
Around 1250 hours, the light cruisers HMS Newfoundland (Capt. W.R. Slayter, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C.H.J. Harcourt, CBE, RN), HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.W. Davis, RN) and the destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, DSO, RN), HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN) and HMS Loyal (Lt.Cdr. H.E.F. Tweedie, DSC, RN) departed Augusta for Malta.
At 1341 hours (1338 hours according to German sources), while in position 37°03'N, 15°24'E, HMS Newfoundland was hit in the stern by a torpedo from the German submarine U-407. Her rudder was blown off but she was able to continue at 22 knots steering by her propellers.
HMS Laforey was detached to hunt the submarine where the remainder of the ships continued their passage to Malta where they arrived around 173 hours.
HMS Laforey meanwhile searched for the attacker. She attacked a contact at 1428 hours but this was thought to be non-sub.
At 1440 hours, she joined the 8th Destroyer Flottila which was patrolling in the area and they commenced a box search. Six destroyers were now present, these were HMS Laforey, HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, DSC, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN), HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, DSO, RN) and HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN).
At 1541 hours, while sweeping northwards HMS Laforey and HMS Eclipse sighted two torpedo tracks coming their way. They combed the tracks and commenced an attack. At 1550 hours HMS Laforey dropped a pattern of eight depth charges for no result. Shortly afterwards HMS Eclipse dropped a pattern of five depth charges.
HMS Laforey made a second attack at 1557 hours and HMS Eclipse also made a second attack at 1608 hours.
At 1615 hours HMS Laforey made her third attack in which, once again, eight depth charges were dropped. Shortly afterwards the Italian submarine Ascianghi surfaced in her wake. The other destroyers closed in and opened fire with all guns. The submarine sank stern first at 1623 hours. A total of twenty-seven survivors were picked up by HMS Laforey and HMS Eclipse.
It was long thought that it had been Ascianghi which had torpedoed and damaged HMS Newfoundland as the Italians had claimed to have attacked a cruiser but their torpedoes were in fact the ones sighted by HMS Laforey and HMS Eclipse at 1451 hours. The German submarine had managed to slip away undected. (13)
17 May 1944
HMS Shalimar (Lt. W.G. Meeke, DSC, MBE, RN) conducted night attack exercises in the Clyde area during which HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.W. Davis, RN) served as the target. On completion of these exercises HMS Shalimar proceeded to Campbeltown. (14)
31 May 1944
HMS Upshot (Lt. H.W. Wilkinson, RN) conducted attack exercises in the Clyde area with HMS Jan van Gelder (Lt. P.D. O'Driscoll, RNR) and later with HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.W. Davis, RN). These last exercises also included night execises. (15)
- ADM 199/414 + ADM 199/656
- ADM 199/1138
- ADM 173/17283
- ADM 53/116160
- ADM 53/116161
- ADM 53/117120 + ADM 53/117565 + ADM 53/117705 + ADM 53/117898 + ADM 53/118464 + ADM 53/118603
- ADM 53/117899 + ADM 53/118276
- ADM 53/117900 + ADM 53/118277 + ADM 53/118314 + ADM 53/118642 + ADM 234/356
- ADM 53/117900 + ADM 53/118277 + ADM 53/118314 + ADM 53/118642 + ADM 199/640
- ADM 53/117900 + ADM 53/118277 + ADM 199/640
- ADM 234/356
- ADM 53/117900 + ADM 53/118277 + ADM 234/356
- ADM 53/117900 + ADM 53/118277 + ADM 199/640 + ADM 234/356
- ADM 173/18726
- ADM 173/19295
- 2.12.03.7152 (Dutch Archives, The Hague)
- ADM 173/20037
ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.