HMS Devonshire (39)
Heavy cruiser of the London class
|Navy||The Royal Navy|
|Built by||Devonport Dockyard (Plymouth, U.K.): Vickers Armstrong (Newcastle-on-Tyne, U.K.)|
|Ordered||12 Oct 1925|
|Laid down||16 Mar 1926|
|Launched||22 Oct 1927|
|Commissioned||18 Mar 1929|
To the Mediterranean Fleet on completion, had a gunnery accident in July 1929 (see below). Went to the China station 1932-33 then back in the Med.
Operated off Norway in April 1940, participated in Operation "Menace" (the failed Gaullist attempt to bring Senegal into the Free French sphere of influence), when the attack was called off she was assigned the blockade of the coast of the Cameroons and Gabon, under Vichy's control. In January 1941 was in the South Atlantic searching for Kormoran.
February to May 1941 was under refit in the UK then was assigned to operations in northern waters until September. In late 1941 transferred to the Eastern Fleet.
January to March 1942 underwent a refit at Norfolk Navy Yard, Virginia, then returned to the Indian Ocean. Took part in the seizure of Madagascar. Remained with the Eastern Fleet, mainly escorting New Zealand troop convoys from Suez back to Australia.
Returned to the UK in May 1943 for a refit and spent the rest of the war attached to the carrier groups raiding the Norwegian coast.
Served as a training ship during 1947-1953. Sold to be broken up for scrap on 16 June 1954. Broken up by Cashmore at Newport arriving on 12 December 1954.
Commands listed for HMS Devonshire (39)
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|1||Capt. John Maurice Mansfield, DSC, RN||10 May 1939||29 Oct 1940|
|2||Capt. Robert Don Oliver, DSC, RN||23 Oct 1940||1 Nov 1942|
|3||Capt. Douglas Young-Jamieson, RN||1 Nov 1942||18 Jun 1943|
|4||Cdr. Charles James Blake, RN||18 Jun 1943||13 Jul 1943|
|5||Cdr. Walter Wilmott Sitwell, RN||13 Jul 1943||13 Sep 1943|
|6||Cdr. John Curthoys Richards, RN||13 Sep 1943||29 Feb 1944|
|7||Capt. Donald Keppel Bain, DSO, RN||29 Feb 1944||11 Jan 1945|
|8||Capt. Gerald Maxwell Bradshaw Langley, OBE, RN||11 Jan 1945||1 Jan 1946|
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Notable events involving Devonshire include:
26 Jul 1929
While engaged in firing practice in the Aegean, off the island of Skhiatos, the left gun of "X" turret misfired. The breech operator did not realize it and opened the breech block, causing the charge inside the barrel to explode and also ignite the next one inside the turret; 17 men died in the mishap. Devonshire returned to England for repairs in August with "the turret swung 'round and the guns awry". As a result of this incident, a new interlock was fitted, which prevented the operator from opening the breech until it had been tripped by the gun firing or manually reset by another operator inside the turret.
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-Faroer gap. Captain Kennedy at first tried to outrun the German ship, to report to the Admiralty that he sighted the German pocket battleship Deutschland, still believed to be operating in the North Atlantic, and to buy time so that other ships of the Northern patrol could come to his assistance. 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 6in 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. C.A.de 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.
6 Jun 1940
Transported King Haakon VII and members of the Norwegian Government to Britain where they remained in exile for the duration of the war (1)
23 Sep 1940
Between 23-25 September 1940 HMS Devonshire (Capt. J.M. Mansfield, DSC, RN) was engaged in Operation "Menace", shelling the coastal batteries and French defences around Dakar.
3 Feb 1941
HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. B.C.S. Martin, RN) arrived back at Freetown.
After fuelling she departed Freetown again later the same day together with HMS Devonshire (Capt. R.D. Oliver, DSC, RN) and HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.J.L. Phillips, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.F. Wake-Walker CB, OBE, RN) for an anti-raider patrol in the mid-Atlantic. (2)
23 Jul 1941
HMS Devonshire (Capt. R.D. Oliver, DSC, RN) sailed from Scapa Flow escorting the carriers Victorious and Furious in a raid against Petsamo and Kirkenes.
2 Nov 1941
HMS Devonshire (Capt. R.D. Oliver, DSC, RN) was flying the flag of the Senior Officer when an entire Vichy French convoy was captured east of the Cape of Good Hope.
21 Nov 1941
On the way home after 622 days of patrol, the German raider Atlantis (Capt. Bernard Rogge) met German U-boat U-126 to refuel her north of Ascension Island. During that operation, a lookout reported a warship that turned out to be the British heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire (Capt. R.D. Oliver, DSC, RN) that arrived due to intelligence report on the rendezvous. Devonshire fired from 17000 feet, out of range from German guns. The second and third salvoes hit the German raider, her magazine exploded and Atlantis sank quickly in position 04°12'S, 18°42'W. As U-126 submerged, Dorsetshire made off at high speed, leaving it to German U-boat to pick up the survivors. (1)
HMS Devonshire (Capt. R.D. Oliver, DSC, RN) took part in Operation "Ironclad", the British attack on Madagascar. She did not have a chance to engage since the carrier planes did all the damage.
11 Sep 1942
At 1140 hours, HrMs Tromp (Capt. J.B. de Meester, RNN) and HMAS Adelaide (A/Capt. J.C.D. Esdaile, OBE, RAN), turned over the escort for convoy US 17 to the British heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire (Capt. R.D. Oliver, CBE, DSC, RN). Tromp then set course to return to Fremantle. (3)
1 Feb 1943
'Pamphlet' convoy, Suez - Sydney, 1 February to 27 February 1943.
This convoy, made up of the British liners (troopships) Queen Mary (81235 GRT, built 1936), Aquitania (45647 GRT, built 1914), Ile de France (43548 GRT, built 1927, former French), the Dutch liner (troopship) Nieuw Amsterdam (36287 GRT, built 1938) and the British auxiliary cruiser Queen of Bermuda (A/Capt. (retired) the Hon. Sir A.D. Cochrane, DSO, RN) (22575 GRT, built 1933) were transporting 30000 men of the Australian 9th Division from Suez to Melbourne and Sydney.
This convoy had departed Suez on 1 February 1943 and were escorted during their passage through the Red Sea by the British destroyers HMS Pakenham (Capt. E.B.K. Stevens, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN), HMS Isis (Cdr. B. Jones, DSC, RN), HMS Hero (Lt.Cdr. W. Scott, DSC and Bar, RN), Derwent (Cdr. R.H. Wright, DSC, RN) and the Greek destroyer Vasilissa Olga (Lt.Cdr. G. Blessas, DSO, RHN).
The convoy was joined on the 4th by the British heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire (Capt. D. Young-Jamieson, RN).
Later the British light cruiser HMS Gambia (Capt. M.J. Mansergh, CBE, RN) joined near Addu Atoll.
Around 0840 hours on 16 February 1943 the Dutch light cruiser HrMs Tromp (Capt. J.B. de Meester, RNN) and the Dutch destroyer HrMs Van Galen (Lt.Cdr. F.T. Burghard, RNN) joined the convoy near postion 26°06'S, 101°09'E.
Around 2120 hours on 16 February 1943 the Dutch light cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Capt. E.J. van Holthe, RNN) joined the convoy in approximate position 27°41'S, 104°35'E.
Around 2130 hours on 17 February 1943 the Dutch destroyer HrMs Tjerk Hiddes (Lt.Cdr. W.J. Kruys, RNN) joined the convoy in approximate position 30°30'S, 112°52'E.
In the afternoon of the 18th the convoy arrived off Fremantle.
In the evening of the 20th the convoy departed Fremantle now escorted by the Australian light cruiser HMAS Adelaide (A/Capt. J.C.D. Esdaile, OBE, RAN), the Dutch light cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Capt. E.J. van Holthe, RNN) and the Dutch destroyers HrMs Van Galen (Lt.Cdr. F.T. Burghard, RNN) and HrMs Tjerk Hiddes (Lt.Cdr. W.J. Kruys, RNN). Tromp and Van Galen only remained with the convoy for a short period.
Around 1615 hours on the 24th the convoy was joined by the Australia (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, MVO, DSO, RAN) heavy cruiser HMAS Australia and the US destroyers USS Henley (Lt.Cdr. E.K. van Swearingen, USN) and USS Bagley (Lt.Cdr. T.E. Chambers, USN). The New Amsterdam escorted by HMAS Adelaide, HrMs Heemskerk and HrMs Tjerk Hiddes then departed the convoy and proceeded to Melbourne where they arrived arrived noon on the 25th. The other ships continued to Sydney.
In the afternoon of the 26th the Dutch light cruiser HrMs Heemskerck rejoined the convoy. Later in the afternoon the Free French destroyer Le Triomphant (Capt. P. Ortoli) also joined.
The convoy arrived at Sydney on the 27th.
20 Feb 1943
HrMs Tromp (Capt. J.B. de Meester, RNN) departed Fremantle together with HMS Devonshire (Capt. D. Young-Jamieson, RN) to act as escort for the US troopship USS Monticello (Cdr. B.B. Lanier, USNR) (25661 GRT, built 1928, former Italian liner Conte Grande). (4)
8 Nov 1944
During the morning HMS Taciturn (Lt.Cdr. E.T. Stanley, DSO, DSC, RN) conducts attack exercises with HMS Devonshire (Capt. D.K. Bain, DSO, RN). During the afternoon A/S exercises were carried out with HMS Bardsey (T/Lt. H. Fritzen, RNR). (5)
- Personal communication
- ADM 53/114130
- File 2.12.03.6850 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
- File 2.12.03.6851 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
- ADM 173/18917
ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.