Allied Warships

HMS Suffolk (55)

Heavy cruiser of the Kent class

HMS Suffolk in 1942

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeHeavy cruiser
Built byPortsmouth Dockyard (Portsmouth, U.K.): Parsons 
Ordered15 May 1924 
Laid down30 Sep 1924 
Launched16 Feb 1926 
Commissioned31 May 1928 
End service 

Sold to be broken up for scrap on 25 March 1948. Arrived at Newport on 24 June 1948 to be broken up by Cashmore.


Commands listed for HMS Suffolk (55)

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1Capt. John Walter Durnford, RN24 Jul 193931 May 1940
2Cdr. Arthur David Torlesse, RN31 May 19408 Jul 1940
3Cdr. (retired) Denys Charles Gerald Shoppee, DSC, RN8 Jul 194015 Nov 1940
4Capt. Edward Chicheley Thornton, DSC, RN15 Nov 194022 Feb 1941
5Capt. Robert Meyrick Ellis, RN22 Feb 194129 Mar 1942
6Cdr. Ludovic Ernest Porter, RN29 Mar 194216 May 1942
7Lt.Cdr. Arthur Alfred Havers, RN16 May 19424 Jun 1942
8Cdr. Geoffrey Gowlland, RN4 Jun 194223 Jun 1942
9Capt. Richard Shelley, RN23 Jun 194215 Dec 1943
10Capt. Alfred Spalding Russell, DSO, RN15 Dec 1943
11Cdr. William Francis Henry Crawford Rutherford, RN 10 Jun 1944
12Capt. David Gilmour, RN10 Jun 194420 Nov 1945

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Notable events involving Suffolk include:

23 Nov 1939
Sinking of the armed merchant cruiser HMS Rawalpindi;

Around midday on 21 November 1939 the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, escorted by the light cruisers Köln and Leipzig and the destroyers Z 11 / Bernd von Arnim, Z 12 / Erich Giese and Z 20 / Karl Galster, departed Wilhelmshaven for a raid into the North Atlantic, this was to relieve the pressure of the pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee operating in the South Atlantic. Late on the 21st the escorts left the battlecruisers.

Just after 1500 hours on 23 November the British armed merchant cruiser HMS Rawalpindi (Capt. E.C. Kennedy, (retired), RN) sighted the Scharnhorst. Rawalpindi was part of the British Northern Patrol and was stationed south-east of Iceland in the Iceland-Faroes gap. Captain Kennedy tried to outrun the German ship and reported to the Admiralty that he sighted the German pocket battleship Deutschland, still believed to be operating in the North Atlantic. Just after 1600 hours, Rawalpindi came within range of the Scharnhorst and was quickly reduced to a flaming wreck. During this engagement Scharnhorst was hit by a 6? shell from Rawalpindi causing only light damage. Scharnhorst and Gneisenau together picked up 27 survivors from Rawalpindi. Rawalpindi finally sank around 2000 hours.

The British light cruiser HMS Newcastle (Capt J. Figgins, RN), that was also part of the Northern Patrol, picked up Rawalpindi?s signal and closed the scene. She sighted the Gneisenau but the Germans managed to escape in the fog.

The Admiralty also thought the ship sighted by Rawalpindi and Newcastle was the Deutschland that was trying to return to Germany. In response to the sighting and destruction of the Rawalpindi the Admiralty took immediate action;
The battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN with Admiral Forbes aboard) HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN) and the heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire (Capt. J.M. Mansfield, DSC, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. C.S. Daniel, RN), HMS Fame (Cdr. P.N. Walter, RN), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, RN), HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN), HMS Fortune (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, RN) and HMS Fury (Cdr. G.F. Burghard, RN) departed the Clyde to patrol of Norway to cut off the way to Germany for the Deutschland.

The light cruisers HMS Southampton (Capt. F.W.H. Jeans, CVO, RN), HMS Edinburgh (Capt. F.C. Bradley, RN) and HMS Aurora (Capt. G.B. Middleton, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Afridi (Capt. G.H. Creswell, DSC, RN), HMS Gurkha (Cdr. F.R. Parham, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, RN) and HMS Isis (Cdr. J.C. Clouston, RN) departed Rosyth to patrol between the Orkney and Shetland islands.

Light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. E. de F. Renouf, CVO, RN) was sent from Loch Ewe to the last known position of the German ship(s).

On northern patrol, south of the Faroes were the light cruisers HMS Caledon (Capt. C.P. Clark, RN), HMS Cardiff (Capt. P.K. Enright, RN) and HMS Colombo (Capt. R.J.R. Scott, RN). These were joined by HMS Dunedin (Capt. C.E. Lambe, CVO, RN) and HMS Diomede (Capt. E.B.C. Dicken, RN).

Of the ships of the Denmark strait patrol, the heavy cruisers HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) and HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.G.B. Wilson, MVO, DSO, RN) were ordered to proceed to the Bill Bailey Bank (to the south-west of the Faroes)

The light cruiser HMS Glasgow (Capt. F.H. Pegram, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Maori (Cdr. G.N. Brewer, RN) and HMS Zulu (Cdr. J.S. Crawford, RN) were already at sea patrolling north-east of the Shetlands were to be joined by the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, RN), HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, RN) and HMS Imogen (Cdr. E.B.K. Stevens, RN) .

Despite the British effort to intercept the German ships, both German battlecruisers returned to Wilhelmshaven on the 27th.

14 Apr 1940
HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) sank the German tanker Skagerak (6044 GRT) north-west of Bod?, Norway in position 64°05'N, 08°00'E.

17 Apr 1940
HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) bombards a German station for sea planes at Stavanger, destroying four aircraft and badly damaging the installations, but was in return badly damaged by bombs from German Ju88 aircraft of II./KG 30. X-turret's magazine had been destroyed. The ship was very lucky to survive this ordeal and she barely reached Scapa Flow with her stern awash the next morning. She was beached at Scapa Flow to prevent her sinking. HMS Suffolk was out of action until 12 February 1941.

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