Allied Warships

HMS Sussex (96)

Heavy cruiser of the London class

HMS Sussex during the war (Photograph taken by Arthur Eric Jones (offsite link)

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeHeavy cruiser
Built byHawthorn Leslie & Co. (Hebburn-on-Tyne, U.K.) 
Ordered17 Mar 1926 
Laid down1 Feb 1927 
Launched22 Feb 1928 
Commissioned19 Mar 1929 
End service2 Feb 1949 

On the night of 17-19/9/1940 she was in drydock at Glasgow, Scotland, when a german air raid started. Sussex sustained one bomb hit: the bomb penetrated the decks and detonated 2-3 levels below the main deck.
The ship caught on fire and was severely gutted at the stern, suffering additional heavy damage when the dock was flooded and she capsized to port. Her repairs took 2 years and she did not recommission until August 1942 for service in the Atlantic .

Decommissioned on 2 February 1949. Sold on 3 January 1950. Broken up by Arnott Young at Dalmuir arriving there on 23 Febuary 1950.


Commands listed for HMS Sussex (96)

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1Capt. Alexander Robert Hammick, RN16 Dec 19386 Jun 1940
2Capt. Richard Victor Symonds-Tayler, DSC, RN6 Jun 194013 Nov 1940
3Capt. (retired) Claude Lindesay Bate, DSO, RN13 Nov 1940early 1941
4Lt.Cdr. (retired) Walter Stuart Smithies, RNearly 19417 Jul 1942
5Capt. William York La Roche Beverley, RN7 Jul 194229 Nov 1943
6Cdr. Michael Everard, RNlate 19432 Sep 1944
7Cdr. Denys Acland Lawford, RN2 Sep 19441 Dec 1944
8Capt. Antony Fane de Salis, DSO, RN1 Dec 194421 Jul 1946

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Notable events involving Sussex include:

HMS Sussex embarked on a round the world tour in August 1934 conveying the Duke of Gloucester via. Ceylon to Sydney, Australia where they finally arrived in February 1935 and then sailed on to New Zealand returning to Australia in time to celebrate the silver jubilee of King George V on May 6th 1935. Later that year the ship sailed for Egypt where they stayed as a base and embarked on Mediterranean exercises visiting Alexandra and Malta before finally returning to Chatham in February 1937. (1)

Sep 1939
Sussex and sister ship Shropshire formed Group "H" in the South Atlantic in the hunt for the Graf Spee.

2 Dec 1939
The German passenger ship Watussi (9552 GRT) is intercepted in the South Atlantic about 50 nautical miles south of Cape Agulhas, South-Africa by the British battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN) and the British heavy cruiser HMS Sussex (Capt A.R. Hammick, RN). However, before the German ship can be captured she is scuttled by her own crew.

Following the Graf Spee scuttling in December 1939 HMS Sussex returned to the UK, took part in the Norwegian Campaign then went to Glasgow for a refit.

21 Jun 1940
At 0206 hours, HMS Severn (Lt.Cdr. B.W. Taylor, RN), received a report that HMS Clyde (Lt.Cdr. D.C. Ingram, RN) had sighted and attacked 'large enemy warships' off Fro Havet.

At 0336 hours, HMS Severn increased speed to 20 knots to proceed on the surface to Utsire as fast as possible as ordered by Vice-Admiral Submarines in his signal timed 0323/21. Severn was forced three times to dive for enemy aircraft but it was believed she was not sighted.

At 1132 hours, in position 58°54'N, 03°45'E, HMS Severn sighted the conning tower of a submarine bearing 100°, course north, range about 5 nautical miles. Severn dived and closed at full speed. The conning tower was only sighted once more from submerged at a range of about 3 nautical miles. An aircraft was seen 5 minutes later and this had probably forced the other submarine to dive. As Severn's position was roughly along the track of the enemy (aircraft report of 1120/21) decided to remain dived and proceeded towards Utsire. This was a wise dicision for later that afternoon the German submarine U-99 was detected on the surface by an Arado seaplane from the German battlecruiser Scharnhorst and bombed in error. Severn heard six distant explosions between 1528 and 1540 hours. U-99 reported being attacked at 1623 hours (German time was one hour later). It was the Scharnhorst that Severn was after but she never sighted her. The submarine sighted by Severn at 1132 hours must have been U-99.

In the evening, at 1901 hours, HMS Severn sighted a County and a Town class cruiser about 5 nautical miles to the westward. Their gun turrets were on a northerly bearing and the smoke of gunfire was seen. When the cruisers had closed to 3 miles, Severn surfaced and identified herself to the cruisers which were HMS Sussex (Capt A.R. Hammick, RN) and HMS Newcastle (Capt. J. Figgins, RN). Lt.Cdr. Taylor then asked where the enemy was but he was told that the cruisers were engaging enemy aircraft and not a surface vessel. Severn then dived again at 1922 hours and proceeded towards Haugesund. (2)

26 Feb 1943
HMS Sussex (aided by code-breaking) intercepted the German supply ship Hohenfriedberg (7892 GRT) north-east of the Azores in position 41°45'N, 20°58'W. The ship scuttled when challenged and the same time Sussex was narrowly missed by a spread of torpedoed from U-264 which was accompanying the supply ship.

Transferred to the Eastern Fleet until the end of the war, covered the reoccupation of the Netherlands East Indies before returning home.

29 May 1943
Around 1630 hours, near position 25°19'S, 91°00'E, HrMs Tromp (Capt. J.B. de Meester, RNN), turned over the escort of convoy US 19 to the British heavy cruiser HMS Sussex (Capt. W.Y.La R. Beverley, RN). (3)

26 Jul 1945
Her Task Force was attacked by 2 "Val" suicides (Mitsubishi type 99 dive-bombers): one was shot down by escort carrier Ameer and the second by Sussex. However, this latter one bounced on the surface of the sea and impacted the cruiser's hull above the waterline, causing a 2? metre dent. Later in the same day Sussex downed another aircraft.


  1. Personal communication
  2. ADM 199/1878
  3. File (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)

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

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