Cuthbert Coppinger DSC, RN

Born  28 Apr 1890Alverstoke, Gosport, Hampshire, England
Died  7 Sep 1973(83)Bishops Waltham, Southampton, Hampshire, England


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Ranks

15 Jan 1907 Mid.
30 Apr 1910 S.Lt.
30 Jan 1912 Lt.
30 Jan 1920 Lt.Cdr.
31 Dec 1925 Cdr.
30 Jun 1933 Capt.

Retired: 28 Jul 1942


Decorations

15 Sep 1916 DSC

Warship Commands listed for Cuthbert Coppinger, RN


ShipRankTypeFromTo
HMS Malaya (01)Capt.BattleshipJun 194119 Apr 1942

Career information

We currently have no career / biographical information on this officer.

Events related to this officer

Battleship HMS Malaya (01)


18 Jun 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN) is undocked. (1)

9 Jul 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
With her repairs completed, HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN), departed New York for Bermuda. (2)

11 Jul 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN) arrived at Bermuda. (2)

15 Jul 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN) conducted gunnery exercises off Bermuda. (2)

16 Jul 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN) departed Bermuda for Halifax. (2)

18 Jul 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN) arrived at Halifax. (2)

21 Jul 1941

Convoy TC 12.

This troop convoy departed Halifax on 21 July 1941 and arrived in the Clyde on 28 July 1941.

Is was made up of the troopships Duchess of York (British, 20021 GRT, built 1929), Empress of Canada (British, 21517 GRT, built 1922), Orion (British, 23371 GRT, built 1935), Strathmore (British, 23428 GRT, built 1935) and Strathnaver (British, 22283 GRT, built 1931).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Havelock (Cdr. E.H. Thomas, DSC, RN), HMS Hesperus (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Tait, RN), HMS Buxton (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) Earl Beattie, RN), HMCS Assiniboine (A/Lt.Cdr. J.H. Stubbs, RCN), HMCS Restigouche (Cdr. H.N. Lay, RCN) and HMCS Columbia (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) S.W. Davis, RN).

On 23 July the destroyers HMS Harvester (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, DSC, RN) and HMS Ripley (Lt.Cdr. J.A. Agnew, RN) joined the escort taking over from HMCS Columbia and HMS Buxton.

The other four destroyers remained with the convoy until 26 July and on this day the convoy was joined by the destroyers HMS Gurkha (Cdr. C.N. Lentaigne, RN), HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN), HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski), HMS Salisbury (Lt.Cdr. H.M.R. Crichton, RN), HMS Vanquisher (Cdr. N.V. Dickinson, DSC, RN) and HMS Winchelsea (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, RN).

Around 2000/28, HMS Malaya parted company with the convoy to proceed to Scapa Flow. The destroyer HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. J. Houtsmuller, RNN) and escort destroyers HMS Heythrop (Lt.Cdr R.S. Stafford, RN) and HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, RN) had come out of Scapa Flow to escort her in.

30 Jul 1941
The battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN) and the armed merchant cruiser HMS Esperance Bay (Capt.(Retd.) G.S. Holden, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Castleton (Cdr.(Retd.) F.H.E. Skyrme, RN), HMS Charlestown (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, RN).

31 Jul 1941
HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN), HMS Esperance Bay (Capt.(Retd.) G.S. Holden, RN), HMS Castleton (Cdr.(Retd.) F.H.E. Skyrme, RN), HMS Charlestown (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN) and HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, RN) arrived at Rosyth.

27 Aug 1941
Around 0100 hours the light cruiser HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO, DSC, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Puckeridge (Lt. H.B. Acworth, RN) departed Scapa Flow. They joined the battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN), which came from Rosyth, off May Island to escort her to Scapa Flow. The destroyer HMS Punjabi (Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN) had departed Rosyth HMS Malaya and was also bound for Scapa Flow escorting the battleship on the way. (3)

4 Sep 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN) conducted D.G. trials at Scapa Flow. (3)

5 Sep 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN) conducted D/F trials at Scapa Flow followed by gunnery exercises. (3)

6 Sep 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN) conducted gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (3)

10 Sep 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN) conducted exercises at Scapa Flow. (3)

12 Sep 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN) conducted exercises at Scapa Flow. (3)

18 Sep 1941
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN) and HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN) conducted exercises in the Pentland Firth during which they were escorted by the destroyers HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN) and HMS Eskimo (Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN). (3)

24 Sep 1941
HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN) conducted underway fuelling exercises at Scapa Flow with HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. R.B.N. Hicks, DSO, RN).

HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.J.L. Phillips, RN) conducted torpedo firing exercises at Scapa Flow followed by 8" gunnery exercises off Scapa Flow.

Following their earlier exercises HMS Malaya and HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.J.L. Phillips, RN) conducted tactical exercises off the Orkneys during the night of 24/25 September 1941. (3)

1 Oct 1941
HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN) and HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.J.L. Phillips, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.F. Wake-Walker CB, OBE, RN) conducted tactical and gunnery exercises off the Orkneys. (4)

2 Oct 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN) conducted HA gunnery exercises off the Orkneys. (4)

9 Oct 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN) conducted gunnery exercises off the Orkneys. (4)

15 Oct 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
Durning the night of 15/16 October 1941, HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN) and HMS Sheffield (Capt. A.W. Clarke, RN) conducted night encounter exercises off the Orkneys. (4)

17 Oct 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
In the evening, HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN), HMS London (Capt. R.M. Servaes, CBE, RN) and HMS Sheffield (Capt. A.W. Clarke, RN) conducted exercises off the Orkneys. (4)

20 Oct 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
Around 1030 hours, HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Greenock. She is escorted by the destroyers HMS Bedouin (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, OBE, RN) and HMS Punjabi (Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN).

Around 1600 hours HMS Bedouin and HMS Punjabi were relieved by two other destroyers, HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN) and HMS Lightning (Cdr. R.G. Stewart, RN).

HMS Bedouin and HMS Punjabi then returned to Scapa Flow. (4)

21 Oct 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
Around 1100 hours, HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN) arrived at Greenock. About one hour earlier her escorting destroyers, HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN) and HMS Lightning (Cdr. R.G. Stewart, RN), had been detached. (4)

22 Oct 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
Around 1500/22 HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN) departed Greenock for Gibraltar. She was escorted by the destroyer HMS Lightning (Cdr. R.G. Stewart, RN). Off the Clyde, at 1945/22, they were joined by the destroyers HMS Harvester (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, DSC, RN) and HMS Havelock (Cdr. E.H. Thomas, DSC, RN).

At 1825/24, HMS Harvester and HMS Havelock were detached when HMS Sikh (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, DSC, RN) and HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, DSC, RN) joined. (4)

27 Oct 1941 (position 0.00, 0.00)
Around 1430 hours HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. R.G. Stewart, RN), HMS Sikh (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, DSC, RN) and HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, DSC, RN) arrived at Gibraltar.

Upon arriving HMS Malaya collided with a moored tanker, the Norwegian Hoegh Hood (9351 GRT, built 1936). Damage was minor to HMS Malaya. (4)

2 Nov 1941
Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, hoisted his flag on board HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN). (5)

19 Dec 1941
HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN) conducted LA 6" and 4" gunnery exercises in Gibraltar Bay. (6)

3 Jan 1942
Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, struck his flag on board HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN). (7)

14 Jan 1942 (position 0.00, 0.00)
Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN, raised his flag on board HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN). He was the new Flag Officer commanding Force H. (7)

8 Feb 1942 (position 0.00, 0.00)
Force H made up of the battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), light cruiser HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. H.G. Walters, DSC, RN), HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSC, RN), HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, DSO, RN) and HMS Exmoor (Lt.Cdr. L.StG. Rich, RN) departed Gibraltar for the Clyde.

13 Feb 1942 (position 0.00, 0.00)
Force H made up of the battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), light cruiser HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. H.G. Walters, DSC, RN), HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSC, RN), HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, DSO, RN) and HMS Exmoor (Lt.Cdr. L.StG. Rich, RN) arrived in the Clyde from Gibraltar.

16 Feb 1942

Convoy WS 16.

This convoy departed the Clyde on 16 February 1942 and arrived at Freetown on 1 March 1942.

The convoy was made up of the troopships / transports; Awatea (British, 13482 GRT, built 1936), Bergensfjord (British, 11015 GRT, built 1913), Brisbane Star (British, 12791 GRT, built 1937), City of Edinburgh (British, 8036 GRT, built 1938), City of Lincoln (British, 8039 GRT, built 1938), Cuba (British, 11420 GRT, built 1923), Delftdijk (Dutch, 10220 GRT, built 1929), Denbighshire (British, 8983 GRT, built 1938), Duchess of Richmond (British, 20022 GRT, built 1928), Duchess of York (British, 20021 GRT, built 1929), Empire Pride (British, 9248 GRT, built 1941), Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931), Mooltan (British, 20952 GRT, built 1923), Nea Hellas (British, 16991 GRT, built 1922), Ormonde (British, 14982 GRT, built 1917), Port Jackson (British, 9687 GRT, built 1937), Potaro (British, 5410 GRT, built 1940), Sibajak (Dutch, 12226 GRT, built 1927), Strathaird (British, 22281 GRT, built 1932), Stratheden (British, 23722 GRT, built 1937) and Volendam (Dutch, 15434 GRT, built 1922).

The Straithaid was unable to sail with the convoy and joined at sea on 21 February 1942.

On departure from the Clyde the convoy was escorted by the battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Formidable (Capt. A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN), HMS Eagle (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. H.G. Walters, DSC, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Duncan (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN), HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN), HMS Verity (Cdr. R.H. Mills, RN), HMS Walker (Cdr. D.G.F.W. MacIntyre, DSO, RN), HMS Witherington (Lt. R. Horncastle, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSC, RN) and HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, DSO, RN).

Between 1300/18 and 1500/18 the transports City of Edinburgh, City of Lincoln and Potaro reported that their cargo had shifted. The Potaro was able to continue but was ordered to proceed to Freetown independently. The other two ships had to return to the U.K.

At 0920/20 the destroyer HMS Anthony left the convoy to proceed to the Azores with condensor trouble.

At 1800/20 HMS Panther was detached to fuel at the Azores and then rejoin the convoy.

At 1300/21 the light cruiser HMS Newcastle (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN) and destroyer HMS Paladin (Cdr. A.D. Pugsley, RN) joined the convoy. They had the troopship Strathaird with them. They had departed from the Clyde on 18 February 1942.

At 0800/21 HMS Croome was detached to Gibraltar.

At 1530/21 HMS Malaya, HMS Eagle, HMS Hermione, HMS Laforey, HMS Lightning, HMS Duncan, HMS Active and HMS Blankney were detached to Gibraltar.

At 1600/21 HMS Paladin was detached to the Azores to refuel after which she was to rejoin the convoy.

At 1800/21 HMS Firedrake was detached. She was to return to the U.K independently.

At 1800/22 HMS Verity, HMS Walker and HMS Witherington were detached to the Azores where they were to fuel after which they were to proceed to Halifax.

At 1600/23 HMS Paladin rejoined the convoy. HMS Panther had sailed from the Azores before her but apparently she was unable to find the convoy. Eventually she joined in the evening.

At 0905/26 the destroyers HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Poe, RN) and HMS Wild Swan (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, RN) joined the convoy coming from Bathurst.

The convoy arrived safely at Freetown in the morning of 1 March 1942 escorted by HMS Formidable, HMS Newcastle, HMS Paladin, HMS Panther, HMS Boreas, HMS Brilliant and HMS Wild Swan.

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The same ships departed Freetown on 6 March 1942 for South Africa.

Escort was provided by the light cruiser HMS Newcastle, destroyers Brilliant, Wild Swan, sloop HMS Bridgewater (A/Cdr.(Retd.) H.F.G. Leftwich, RN) and the corvettes HMS Jasmine (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) C.D.B. Coventry, RNR) and HMS Nigella (T/Lt. L.J. Simpson, RNR).

Before deparure of the convoy HMS Newcastle conducted gunnery exercises and the A/S escorts conducted an A/S sweep off Freetown returning to meet the convoy off the boom.

At 2100Z/6, HMS Nigella was detached due to engine trouble. After repairs she was to proceed to St. Helena to fuel.

In the morning of 8 March 1942 HMS Newcastle attempted to fuel HMS Bridgewater but owning to the swell this was not possible.

At 0930Z/8, in position 01°46'N, 17°52'W, HMS Brilliant and HMS Wild Swan were detached to return to Freetown.

On 9 March 1942 further attempts were made to fuel HMS Bridgewater and some fuel was transferred.

In the afternoon of 12 March 1942 HMS Newcastle was able to fully fuel HMS Bridgewater. After dark, at 1930Z/12, HMS Jasmine was detached in position 15°44'S, 04°27'W to fuel at St. Helena.

At 1600Z/17, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Dunnottar Castle (Capt.(Retd.) C.T.A. Bunbury, RN) and the sloop HMS Milford (Cdr.(Retd.) the Hon. V.M. Wyndham-Quin, RN) joined the convoy in position 33°13'S, 16°06'E. These ships had departed Capetown at 0520Z/17. Shortly afterwards, the Capetown section, made up of; Bergensfjord, Brisbane Star, Delftdijk, Denbighshire, Nea Hellas, Port Jackson, Potaro, Sibajak, escorted by HMS Newcastle and HMS Milford splít off. The Capetown section arrived there around 0900Z/18. HMS Milford split off shortly before the convoy arrived and proceeded to Simonstown arriving there at 1410Z/18.

The Durban section, made up of the Awatea, Cuba, Duchess of Richmond, Dutchess of York, Empire Pride, Monarch of Bermuda, Mooltan, Ormonde, Strathaird, Stratheden and Volendam continued on now escorted by HMS Dunnotar Castle and HMS Bridgewater.

At 0400Z/18, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Cheshire (Capt.(Retd.) J.M. Begg, RN) and the corvettes HMS Freesia (T/Lt. R.A. Cherry, RNR) and HMS Fritillary (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Barker, RD, RNR) joined the Durban section of the convoy in position 34°55'S, 18°08'E. They had departed Capetown at 1715Z/17.

At 0630Z/18, in position 35°19'S, 18°55'E, HMS Bridgewater parted company to proceed to Simonstown where she arrived at 1156Z/18.

At 1300A/18, in position 35°57'S, 19°36'E, HMS Freesia and HMS Fritillary parted company. They arrived at Capetown at 0620Z/19.

The Durban section of the convoy arrived off Durban at 0800Z/21. The transports then entered harbour. HMS Cheshire and HMS Dunnotar Castle did not enter the harbour but set course to return to Capetown.

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The sloop HMS Milford departed Simonstown at 0500Z on 22 April 1942 to make rendezvous with the Capetown position of the convoy in Table Bay at 1000Z/22.

On departure the convoy was also briefly escorted by HMS Jasmine and HMS Fritillary. These corvettes returned to Capetown at 1150Z/22.

At 0800Z/22, HMS Newcastle departed from Simonstown to make rendezvous with the Capetown section of the convoy.

At 1330Z/25, the Capetown section made rendezvous in position 33°30'S, 31°22'E with the Durban section of the convoy, now made up of the Awatea, Duchess of Richmond, Duchess of York, Empire Pride, Stratheden and Volendam, which had departed Durban at 1000Z/25 escorted by the light cruiser HMS Glasgow (Capt. H. Hickling, RN) and the armed merchant cruiser HMS Worcestershire (A/Capt.(Retd.) E.H. Hopkinson, RN). HMS Milford by that time was no longer with the convoy as she arrived at Simonstown at 1300Z/26. HMS Newcastle parted company with the convoy at 2200Z/25 in position 30°03'S, 33°08'E and proceeded to Durban for repairs arriving there at 0548Z/26.

At 0245Z on 1 April 1942 the light cruiser HMS Colombo (Capt. C.C.A. Allen, RN) and armed merchant cruiser HMS Alaunia (Capt.(Retd.) E.N. Kershaw, RN) joined in position 01°38'S, 44°52'E.

At 1800Z/2, HMS Colombo split off in position 04°49'N, 50°00'E with the Aden section of the convoy which was made up of the Bergensfjord, Nea Hellas and Volendam. This section of the convoy was dispersed off Aden on 6 April 1942.

The remainder of the convoy continued on to Bombay escorted by HMS Alaunia and HMS HMS Worcestershire. It arrived at Bombay on 8 April 1942. (8)

23 Feb 1942 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), HMS Eagle (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, DSO, RN), HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. H.G. Walters, DSC, RN), HMS Duncan (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN), HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN) and HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSC, RN) arrived at Gibraltar from convoy escort duty. (9)

26 Feb 1942

Operation Spotter.

Transfer of Spitfire fighters to Malta.

Around 1830/26 the aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. G.T. Philip, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN), HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSC, RN) and HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, DSO, RN) departed Gibraltar westwards. They were to turn eastwards during the night but this move was made as a diversion to 'fool' the enemy spies in Spain that HMS Argus had been relieved at Gibraltar by HMS Eagle which had arrived there on 23 February 1942.

Around 0330/27 the battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. H.G. Walters, DSC, RN), HMS Duncan (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN) and HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN).

Around 0630/27 the two groups joined to the east of Gibraltar and then continued on eastwards.

Around 2100/27 course was reversed to return to Gibraltar. The operation had to be abandoned due to problems with the long range fuel tanks of the Spitfire fighters in HMS Eagle that were to be flow off to Malta.

'Force H' returned to Gibraltar in the evening of the 28th. (10)

6 Mar 1942

Operation Spotter II.

Transfer of Spitfire fighters to Malta.

Around 0400 hours 'Force H' departed Gibraltar for Operation Spotter II, a renewed attempt to fly off Spitfire fighters to Malta.

'Force H' was made up of the battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Eagle (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), HMS Argus (Capt. G.T. Philip, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. H.G. Walters, DSC, RN), HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN), HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN), HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSC, RN) and HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, DSO, RN).

At 1018/7 the first flight of Spitfire fighters for Malta was launched from position 37°29'N, 03°18'E. All eight Spitfires from 'A' flight were airbone at 1032/7.

Meanwhile signals were intercepted that 'Force H' had been reported by German and Italian aircraft.

At 1146/7 the first aircraft of the second flight of Spitfires for Malta was launched. All seven aircraft from 'B' flight were airborne by 1157/7.

Course was then set to return to Gibraltar while it was till being shadowed by enemy aircraft.

In the evening a signal was received that all aircraft had arrived safely at Malta.

On the 8th various exercises were carried out.

At 1330/8 HMS Hermione was detached to act as a target for an exercise by the 9.2" shore battery of the Rock of Gibraltar.

At 1344/8 HMS Eagle, HMS Argus escorted by HMS Laforey, HMS Lightning, HMS Anthony, HMS Blankney and HMS Croome were detached to conduct flying exercises. After HMS Hermione completed her exercise she joined this group.

At 1420/8 HMS Malaya entered the harbour and immediately proceeded into No.1 dock for periodical docking. She had been escorted by the remaining destroyers; HMS Active, HMS Wishart and HMS Whitehall. HMS Active and HMS Wishart then joined the carrier group while HMS Whitehall also entered the harbour for repairs to her condensors.

Between 1800/8 and 1840/8, HMS Eagle, HMS Argus and HMS Hermione entered the harbour. The destroyers remained out for night exercises upon completion of which they also returned to harbour. (10)

13 Mar 1942 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN) is undocked. (11)

20 Mar 1942

Operation Picket.

Transfer of Spitfire fighters to Malta.

Around 0200 hours 'Force H' departed Gibraltar for Operation Picket, in which they were to launch Spitfire fighters for passage to Malta.

'Force H' was made up of the battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Eagle (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), HMS Argus (Capt. G.T. Philip, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN), HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN), HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSC, RN), HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, DSO, RN) and HMS Exmoor (Lt.Cdr. L.StG. Rich, RN).

At 0320/20, while passing Europa Point, they were joined by the destroyer HMS Duncan (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN).

At 1440/20, when 'Force H' was in position 36°33'N, 01°26'W, underwater explosions were felt by the majority of the ships. At the time these were thought to have originated by aircraft dropping depth charges but later investigations showed that these were most likely torpedoes exploding. [This was indeed the case as the Italian submarine Mocenigo at that time had made an attack on HMS Argus.]

At 0814/21 the first Spitfire of 'A' flight was flown off and the whole flight of aircraft was in the air by 0838/21 where they joined two Blenheim bombers coming from Gibraltar.

After 'A' flight had been launched the aircraft for 'B' flight were brought up to the flight deck. However it became apparent that no more escorting Blenheims would come from Gibraltar and the lauch of this flight had to be cancelled and 'Force H' set course to the westward with the intention to lauch 'B' flight the next day.

In the afternoon a signal was received that all aircraft of 'A' flight had arrived safely at Malta. Meanwhile throughout the afternoon 'Force H' had been shadowed by enemy aircaft which the fighter patrol were unable to intercept.

At 1530/21, HMS Whitehall was detached due to fuel shortage and ordered to proceed to Gibraltar independently.

The next moring, at 0715/22 it apparent that the weather at Malta was unsuitable and the remainder of the operation was cancelled and 'Force H' set course to return to Gibraltar.

In the morning the fleet was still shadowed by an enemy aircraft.

'Force H' arrived at Gibraltar around 0800/23. HMS Hermione had been detached and arrived a little earlier. (10)

27 Mar 1942

Operation Picket II.

Transfer of Spitfire fighters to Malta.

Around 1600/27 'Force H' departed Gibraltar for Operation Picket II, in which they were to launch Spitfire fighters for passage to Malta.

'Force H' was made up of the battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Eagle (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), HMS Argus (Capt. G.T. Philip, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. H.G. Walters, DSC, RN), HMS Duncan (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN), HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN), HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSC, RN), HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, DSO, RN) and HMS Exmoor (Lt.Cdr. L.StG. Rich, RN).

In the afternoon of March 28th German reconnaissance aircraft were sighted so the force must have been detected.

Between 0720/29 and 0728/29 HMS Eagle launched seven Spitfires for Malta.

'Force H' then set course to return to Gibraltar.

'Force H' returned to Gibraltar early in the afternoon of 30 March 1942.

[We have so far been unable to find a report for this operation.]

1 Apr 1942 (position 0.00, 0.00)
The battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), light cruiser HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. H.G. Walters, DSC, RN), HMS Duncan (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN), HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN) and HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN) departed Gibraltar for Freetown. (12)

6 Apr 1942
HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, DSO, RN), HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. H.G. Walters, DSC, RN), HMS Duncan (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN), HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN) and HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN) arrived at Freetown. (12)

9 Apr 1942

Convoy WS 17A.

This convoy departed Freetown on 9 April 1942 and arrived at Durban on 22 April 1942.

This convoy was made up of the following troopships / transports; Bhutan (British, 6104 GRT, built 1929), Domion Monarch (British, 27155 GRT, built 1939), Duchess of Atholl (British, 20119 GRT, built 1928), Karanja (British, 9891 GRT, built 1931), Keren (British, 9890 GRT, built 1930), Oronsay (British, 20043 GRT, built 1925), Port Wyndham (British, 11005 GRT, built 1935), Rembrandt (British, 5559 GRT, built 1941), Sobieski (Polish, 11030 GRT, built 1939), Winchester Castle (British, 20012 GRT, built 1930) and Windsor Castle (British, 19141 GRT, built 1922).

On departure from Freetown the convoy was escorted by the battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Pakenham (Capt. E.B.K. Stevens, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. H.G. Walters, DSC, RN), HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Javelin (Cdr. G.E. Fardell, RN), HMS Inconstant (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN), HMS Duncan (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN), HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN) and HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN).

At 1800/12, the Dominion Monarch was detached. She proceeded to Capetown independently arriving there on 19 April.

At 1600/13, HMS Pakenham, HMS Duncan, HMS Active and HMS Anthony were detached to fuel at St.Helena from the Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker Abbeydale.

At 0615/14, HMS Laforey and HMS Javelin were detached to fuel at St.Helena from the Abbeydale.

At 1515/14, HMS Pakenham, HMS Duncan, HMS Active and HMS Anthony rejoined the convoy. HMS Hermione, HMS Lightning, HMS Lookout and HMS Inconstant were then detached to fuel at St.Helena from the Abbeydale.

At 1825/15, HMS Laforey and HMS Javelin rejoined the convoy.

At 1100/16, HMS Hermione, HMS Lightning, HMS Lookout and HMS Inconstant rejoined the convoy.

At 1000/18, HMS Hermione discovered missing plating near her bow. She was to be docked to repair this damage.

At 0700/19, HMS Illustrious, HMS Laforey, HMS Lightning, HMS Lookout and HMS Duncan were detached to Capetown where they arrived later the same day.

At 1000/19, HMS Devonshire (Capt. R.D. Oliver, DSC, RN) took over the escort of the convoy. HMS Malaya, HMS Pakenham, HMS Javelin, HMS Inconstant, HMS Active and HMS Anthony were then detached to Capetown where they arrived later the same day. The flag of Rear-Admiral Syfret was then transferred from HMS Malaya to HMS Illustrious.

At 0815/20, HMS Hermione arrived at Simonstown. She was then docked for repairs to her bow.

The convoy arrived at Durban on 22 April 1942 still escorted by HMS Devonshire.

Sources

  1. ADM 53/114603
  2. ADM 53/114604
  3. ADM 53/114606
  4. ADM 53/114607
  5. ADM 53/114608
  6. ADM 53/114609
  7. ADM 53/116211
  8. ADM 199/653 + ADM 199/1211
  9. ADM 53/116212
  10. ADM 199/649
  11. ADM 53/116213
  12. ADM 53/116214

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


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