Allied Warships

HMS Euryalus (42)

Light cruiser of the Dido class

HMS Euryalus in 1943

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeLight cruiser
Built byChatham Dockyard (Chatham, U.K.): Hawthorn Leslie & Co. (Hebburn-on-Tyne, U.K.) 
Ordered16 Jun 1937 
Laid down21 Oct 1937 
Launched6 Jun 1939 
Commissioned30 Jun 1941 
End service 

During September – November 1941 HMS Euryalus was a unit of the 15th Cruiser Squadron and acted as a close convoy escort for the route between Gibraltar and Malta. In December while in company with cruisers HMS Sheffield, HMS Kenya and HMS Edinburgh she made a sortie against German and Italian supply traffic to North Africa and shelled Derna later that month, as a member of Force B under the command of Rear Admiral Vian and in company with the cruisers HMS Naiad and HMS Carlisle and eight destroyers, set out to bring the oil tanker Breconshire from Alexandria to Malta. On the 17th they joined up with Force K. Italian air attacks were unsuccessful, and as a result of reports from Italian spotter aircraft, Admiral Lachino turned his Task Force towards the British ships and engaged shortly after dark. No results were achieved by either side because of the fact that both Forces were trying to protect their respective convoys without realising the worthwhile targets on either side. December 18th, Rear Admiral Vian returned to Alexandria, as the harbour boom gap opened to allow the returning ships entry, three Italian human torpedo teams, launched from the submarine Scire entered the harbour and laid their explosive charges under the battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Valiant and the Norwegian tanker Sagona (offsite link). All ships came to rest on the bottom badly damaged. The destroyer HMS Jervis which was tied up alongside the tanker was also damaged.

In January 1942 Euryalus as a unit of Force B set out for Malta with the transport vessel Glengyle. On the 16th, they were used as a Force B supplying covering force for a Malta bound convoy. February, Force B set out from Alexandria to meet the cruiser HMS Cleopatra and the destroyer HMS Kingston which were coming from Malta. March, the German submarine U-565 managed to sink the cruiser HMS Naiad which was Vians flagship, north of Sollum, all except 82 of her crew were rescued. On the 21st, Euryalus acted as covering force for a supply convoy to Malta, and on the 22nd the covering force was discovered by the Italians. The Italian battleship had come up in a strong refreshing wind and deteriorating visibility, and tried to get between the convoy and Malta. Rough seas and skilful operating by Admiral Vian in the use of smoke impeded the Italian gunnery to such an extent that only the destroyers HMS Havock and HMS Kingston were severely damaged by near hits but survived and fired their torpedoes. Littorio had been hit by the cruisers shellfire and one of the enemy cruisers was on fire aft, unfortunately however none of the destroyers torpedoes hit, but Littorio turned away, the enemy had had enough and hauled away to the north east. Euryalus received only slight splinter damage and the convoy eventually made it through to Malta, unfortunately it was attacked by German bombers and six vessels became a total loss. Only about one fifth of the 26,000 tons of cargo that left Egypt were unloaded. On the return trip to Alexandria Force B suffered heavy storm damage. During June two more convoys set out for Malta, “Harpoon” from Gibraltar, and “Vigorous” from Alexandria, Euryalus was employed as the covering force being a member of the 15th Cruiser Squadron which also comprised HMS Cleopatra, HMS Dido, HMS Hermione, HMS Arethusa and HMS Coventry. South of Crete HMS Hermione was sunk by the German submarine U-205. Of the six merchantmen in the “Harpoon” convoy two reached Malta with 15,000 tons of supplies. The “Vigorous” convoy never made it. Six hundred miles from Malta, low on ammunition and fuel, Admiral Vian ordered the convoy about. On July 19th, HMS Euryalus and HMS Dido and four destroyers were responsible for the shelling of Mersa Matruh. In November, operation "Stone age" consisted of a convoy of four merchantmen escorted by HMS Euryalus, HMS Dido, HMS Arethusa and ten destroyers. They proceeded from Alexandria to Malta despite heavy German air attacks in which Arethusa was so badly hit, north of Derna on the 18th that she had to return to Alexandria. The four transports miraculously reached Malta, and the island was regarded as relieved.

In January 1943, during the night of 22-23rd Force K, consisting of HMS Euryalus, HMS Cleopatra and four destroyers, shelled the withdrawal routes of the German-Italian panzer forces near Zuara Libya, Tripoli was evacuated by the rearguards on the 23rd. They then shelled Zuara themselves. On June 5th, HMS Euryalus, HMS Aurora, HMS Newfoundland, HMS Orion and HMS Penelope with eight destroyers and three motor torpedo boats, bombarded the island of Pantelleria. After the shelling and bombing by Allied aircraft, a landing force comprising the 1st British division appeared off the island. During the night of the 10-11th the island fortress surrendered. On July 9th, HMS Euryalus, HMS Cleopatra, the battleships HMS Nelson and HMS Rodney, and the aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable rendezvoused in the Gulf of Sirte where they waited to join a convoy consisting of sixty freighters, five tankers, and twenty nine landing craft which represented part of the invasion force, which was to arrive from Alexandria and Port Said. This would be the beginning of “operation Huskey", the Allied landings of Sicily. On the 14th, whilst patrolling the Ionian Sea with the battleships HMS Nelson, HMS Rodney , HMS Warspite and HMS Valiant and eighteen destroyers, they were attacked by Italian torpedo bombers, Euryalus and Cleopatra were narrowly missed, but two days later Indomitable was hit. During August, HMS Euryalus, HMS Dido and HMS Sirius with four destroyers, shelled the bridge in the Gulf of Eufemia Calibria, in support of the 8th Army under Lt-General Clarke in the Bay of Solerno, in overall command of the operation was Admiral Cunningham (R.N.) in Malta. HMS Euryalus, HMS Scylla, HMS Charybdis the light aircraft carrier HMS Unicorn, the escort carriers HMS Battler, HMS Attacker, HMS Hunter, HMS Stalker and nine destroyers made up Task Force 88. In October 1943 HMS Euryalus finally returned to the U.K. for a long overdue refit.

In July 1944 Euryalus, her refit completed, recommisioned into the Home Fleet. In October, Euryalus was now operating in Norwegian waters and was part of a force tasked to patrol the German shipping routes off Norway near Frohavet, carrier aircraft from this force performed an air mining operation. In December 1944, she sailed for the Far East.

In January 1945, Euryalus was now a member of the 5th Cruiser Squadron, and unit of Task Force 63 based at Trincomalee, she sailed with this task force for operations in the Pacific. The task force was made up of the following ships, battleship HMS King George V, the carriers HMS Indomitable, HMS Illustrious , HMS Victorious, HMS Indefatigable, the cruisers HMS Argonaut, HMS Black Prince and nine destroyers. Later they were joined by the cruiser HMS Ceylon and the destroyer HMS Wessex. On the 20th, this force met up with three supply tankers and the destroyer HMS Urchin. On the 23rd, the weather off the Sumatra coast prevented the carrier aircraft from being flown off. On the 24th, the aircraft took off from the four carriers south west of Sumatra, and successfully attacked an north of Palembang. On the 29th, the aircraft made a raid on the oil refineries at Soengi-Gerong near Palembang. An attempted Japanese attack on the task force using twelve bombers, was intercepted by fighter cover and all twelve bombers were shot down by the fighters and the fleets A/A weapons. On the 30th, after completion of refuelling the task force proceeded to Fremantle. On February 4th the task force arrived at Fremantle. In March they were operating in the Central Pacific area under Vice Admiral Rawlings, the fleet set out from Ulithi to participate in the preparation of the landings at Okinawa. Attacks on the Sakishima-Gunto group of islands of the Southern Ryukyus commenced on the 25th, this was in order to neutralise the airfields there. From the 28th, to the 30th, the Task Force was replenished from a Supply Group and on the 31st, attacks were resumed. May 3 - 29th, operations were resumed, the British Task Force set out again from Leyte. After replenishing on 3-4th it made a carrier raid on the Sakishima-Gunto group. Euryalus, and the cruisers HMS Swiftsure, HMCS Uganda, HMNZS Gambia, HMS Black Prince and seven destroyers shelled the islands and airfields. The carrier HMS Formidable was hit by a Kamikaze, HMS Indomitable sustained slight damage. On the 5th, new attacks were made on the fleet, and damage was inflicted on HMS Victorious and HMS Formidable. The destroyer HMS Quilliam was severely damaged by collision. On the 20th, the New Zealand cruiser HMNZS Achilles joined the task force. On July 16th, the British Task Force joined forces with United States Naval Forces the carriers carriers made heavy raids on the Tokyo - Yokohama area. On August 2 - 3rd, sorties were made against North Honshu and Hokkaido on the 9th, and from the 11-12 th, the task forces were replenished, and the British set out for Subic Bay to occupy Hong Kong.

On 17 February 1946 HMS Euryalus returned to Sheerness to be placed into reserve. She was refitted during 1947-1948 In January 1948, Euryalus was recommissioned, and joined the 1st Cruiser Squadron in the Mediterranean, where she was involved in the Palestinian patrols, and was responsible for the evacuation of the British High Commissioner from Haifa. In May 1950, she returned to Plymouth to pick up a new crew, and rejoined the 1st Cruiser Squadron. In April 1951, she sailed for the Persian Gulf, to relieve the cruiser HMS Mauritius of the East Indies Squadron, and make her presence known to the Iranians who were threatening to take over the Anglo Iranian oil wells. May, she arrived in Bahrain. In June she sailed back for Malta after being relieved by the Malta based destroyers HMS Armada, HMS Saintes, HMS Vigo and HMS Gravelines. In July she sailed once more for the Gulf, again making her way through the Suez Canal pausing only to pick up a platoon of Lancashire Fusiliers, this time arriving at Abadan on the 21st. In august 1952 HMS Euryalus was decommissioned, and later during the year she was recommissioned and again rejoined the 1st Cruiser Squadron in the Mediterranean. In April 1953, she was transferred to the South Atlantic 6th Cruiser Squadron stationed at Simonstown, South Africa and acted as Flagship, during this period she was docked in the Selborne dry dock. On 9 January 1954, she entered Selborne dry dock for commencement of her refit. In March she had her propellers changed and was undocked on the 9th. In September HMS Euryalus sailed for the UK, and arrived at Devonport on the 19th. In November 1954, she was de commissioned into the Reserve Fleet. On 18 July 1959 Euryalus arrived at Blyth to be scrapped by Hughes Bolckow.

The ships badge can still be seen painted on the Selborne dry dock wall.


Commands listed for HMS Euryalus (42)

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1Capt. Eric Wheeler Bush, DSO, DSC, RN31 Mar 194115 Aug 1943
2Capt. Richard Oliver-Bellasis, RN15 Aug 19435 Dec 1943

3Capt. Richard Oliver-Bellasis, RN15 Jun 194424 Sep 1945

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Notable events involving Euryalus include:

17 Nov 1942
17 November 1942 / 20 November 1942;
Operation Stone Age;

On 17 November 1942 a convoy of 4 merchants (MW-13) left Alexandria for Malta. This convoy was escorted by the British light cruisers HMS Arethusa, HMS Euryalus, HMS Dido and 10 destroyers.

On the 18th HMS Arethusa was hit by a aerial torpedo. She was heavily damaged and towed back to Alexandria.

The convoy arrived safe at Malta on the 20th. This meant the end of the Malta siege.

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