Allied Warships

HMS Ceres (D 59)

Light cruiser of the Ceres class


HMS Ceres at Malta circa 1920

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeLight cruiser
ClassCeres 
PennantD 59 
Built byJohn Brown Shipbuilding & Engineering Company Ltd. (Clydebank, Scotland) 
OrderedApr 1916 
Laid down26 Apr 1916 
Launched24 Mar 1917 
Commissioned1 Jun 1917 
End service 
History

In 1918 Ceres joined the 6th, Light Cruiser Squadron, the following year she was operating in the Mediterranean as a member of the 3rd Cruiser Squadron. During 1920 the cruiser spent some time deployed in the Black Sea. In 1927 Ceres was in the U.K. for deployment with the Home Fleet. During 1929-1931 was spent refitting and in reserve. In 1932 Ceres was once more brought forward from reserve and joined the Mediterranean Fleet. In November she was however once again reduced to reserve.

In 1939 Ceres recommissioned from the Reserve Fleet and was sent on Northern Patrol in the Denmark Strait between Iceland and Greenland. In January 1940, Ceres was refitted by Harland & Wolff at Belfast, Northern Ireland. On February 15th she sailed from Devonport to Gibraltar. During March while based at Malta, she took part in contraband patrols in the Ionian Sea, Straits of Otranto and off the coast of Greece. During April-May 1940, the old cruiser was now based at Singapore and carried out patrols off the Dutch East Indies coast. In June she went to Colombo and later to Bombay when Ceres convoyed tankers from the Arabian Gulf to Aden. She spent several months off the east coast of Africa, based at Mombassa. Whilst on patrol off the coast of Somaliland she was called upon to assist in the evacuation of troops and civilians from British Somaliland to Aden bombarding the various enemy positions with shellfire. After this incident she was involved in convoy duties between Durban and Cape Town. Later that year she was sent to the Seychelles and other islands to search for German commerce raiders. From 4 until 9 August 1940 the cruiser assisted with the evacuation of civilians and sick personnel from British Somaliland, which was occupied by the Italians. She also assisted in the evacuation of Commonwealth soldiers from Berbera. (British Somaliland).

In February 1941 Ceres blockaded Kisimayu in support of the offensive against Italian Somaliland, in company with the British cruisers HMS Hawkins and HMS Capetown and the British destroyer HMS Kandahar. She was also responsible for rescuing merchant navy prisoners of war from Brava and taking them to Mombassa. After this she proceeded to Colombo for repairs, and a well deserved rest for the crew at Diyatalawa.

On New Years day 1942, convoy WS-14 arrived in South Africa from the U.K. with reinforcements for the Middle East, The convoy consisted of 18 ships, Ceres and the sloop HMS Bridgewater provided the escort. Ceres spent two months in the Persian Gulf, and then arrived at Simonstown for a three month refit, where she was dry-docked. She was also fitted with six 20 mm single AA weapons. She was then based at Aden and she also participated in the fall of Djibouti. She completed that year employed on convoy duties to Durban.

In October 1943, Ceres returned to Devonport having steamed 235,000 miles since the outbreak of war.

In April 1944, Ceres received radars type 290 and 273, the 3 inch 2 pounders were landed and replaced by eight 20 mm singles. On June 6th, Operation "Neptune" the amphibious landings on Normandy, Ceres was employed as a depot ship to the Eastern Task Force. The following October it was decided to reduce her to reserve and use her as an accommodation/base ship at Portsmouth.

In July 1946, the old cruiser was broken up for scrap at Bolckow, Blyth.

 

Commands listed for HMS Ceres (D 59)

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CommanderFromTo
1Capt. Edmund Geoffrey Abbott, RN31 Jul 193920 Sep 1941
2Capt. Henry Hastings McWilliam, RN20 Sep 19415 Dec 1941
3Lt.Cdr. (retired) Harry William Vaughan Stephenson, RN5 Dec 194130 Dec 1941
4Capt. Henry Hastings McWilliam, RN30 Dec 19413 Jan 1942
5Lt.Cdr. (retired) Harry William Vaughan Stephenson, RN3 Jan 19425 Apr 1942
6Capt. William Power Carne, RN5 Apr 194221 Apr 1942
7Capt. Cecil Charles Acland Allen, RN21 Apr 194211 Jun 1943
8A/Capt. Roy Carlton Harry, RN11 Jun 19434 Nov 1943
9Lt.Cdr. (retired) Wilmot Pynson Bennitt, DSC, RN4 Nov 194314 Apr 1944
10A/Capt. Roland Charlton Allen, RN14 Apr 1944late 1944

11Cdr. (retired) Charles Richard Garrett, RN4 Dec 1944mid 1945

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Notable events involving Ceres include:


31 Jul 1940
HMS Regent (Lt.Cdr. H.C. Browne, RN) departed Aden for Alexandria. Upon leaving Aden exercises were carried out with HMS Ceres (Capt. E.G. Abbott, AM, RN). (1)

15 Aug 1941

Convoy WS 10X

This convoy departed U.K. ports on 14/15 August 1941 for Suez where the ships arrived between 1 to 4 October 1941.

The convoy assembled in the Clyde area on 15 August 1941.

The convoy was made up of the following troop transports; Brisbane Star (12791 GRT, built 1937), Orion (23371 GRT, built 1935), Strathmore (23428 GRT, built 1935), Strathnaver (22283 GRT, built 1931), And the transports Palma (5419 GRT, built 1941) and Port Jackson (9687 GRT, built 1937).

Escort was initially provided by the heavy cruiser HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. A.W.S. Agar, VC, DSO, RN) (joined at sea on 17 August 1941 until 28 August when the convoy arrived at Freetown), the AA (light) cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Cdr. E.J. van Holte, RNN) (15 – 17 August) and the destroyers HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN) (15-17 August), HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Holmes, RN) (15-17 August), HMS Gurkha (Cdr. C.N. Lentaigne, RN) (17-19 August), HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN) (17-19 August), HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. J. Houtsmuller, RNN) (17-19 August) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. S. Hryniewiecki) (17-19 August).

When approaching Freetown the convoy was joined on 26 August by a local escort made up of the destroyers HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN), HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN) (left the convoy before noon on 27 August), HMS Wrestler (Lt. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) and the corvettes HMS Clematis (Cdr. Y.M. Cleeves, DSO, DSC, RD, RNR) and HMS Crocus (Lt.Cdr. E. Wheeler, RNR). The convoy arrived at Freetown on 28 August 1941.

The convoy departed Freetown for Capetown on 1 September 1941. Escort was now provided by the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN). The convoy arrived at Capetown on 11 September 1941.

The convoy departed Capetown for Suez on 14 September 1941. Escort was still provided by HMS Revenge until 22 September 1941 when the light cruiser ), HMS Ceres (Capt. E.G. Abbott, AM, RN) took over until the dispersal of the convoy on 27 September 1941 when it was near Aden. The ships of the convoy then continued independently towards Suez where they arrived between 1 and 4 October 1941.

31 Aug 1941

Convoy WS 11

This convoy assembled in the Clyde area on 31 August 1941 for the far east.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant ships; Abosso (11330 GRT, built 1935), Barrister (6348 GRT, built 1939), Bhutan (6104 GRT, built 1929), City of Edinburgh (8036 GRT, built 1938), City of Manchester (8917 GRT, built 1935), Duchess of York (20021 GRT, built 1929), Empress of Australia (21833 GRT, built 1914), Glaucus (7596 GRT, built 1921), Glenorchy (8982 GRT, built 1939), Kina II (9823 GRT, built 1939), Largs Bay (14182 GRT, built 1921), Manchester Progress (5620 GRT, built 1938), Mooltan (20952 GRT, built 1923), Northumberland (11558 GRT, built 1915), Orontes (20097 GRT, built 1929), Otranto (20026 GRT, built 1925), Scythia (19761 GRT, built 1920), Viceroy of India (19627 GRT, built 1929). The netlayer HMS Guardian (A/Capt. H.A.C. Lane, RN) also sailed in this convoy.

Escort was initially provided by the battlecruiser HMS Repulse (Capt. W.G. Tennant, MVO, RN), the aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), the light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. A.W. Clarke, RN) (31 August – 2 September), the anti-aircraft cruiser HMS Cairo (A/Capt. I.R.H. Black, RN) (31 August – 2 September), the armed merchant cruiser HMS Derbyshire (Capt.(Retd.) E.A.B. Stanley, MVO, DSO, RN), the destroyers HMS Cossack (Capt. E.L. Berthon, DSC and Bar, RN) (31 August – 4 September), HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, RN) (31 August – 4 September), HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN) (31 August – 4 September), HMS Lively (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN) (31 August – 4 September), HMS Highlander (Cdr. S. Boucher, RN), HMS Winchelsea (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, OBE, DSC, RN) (31 August – 2 September), HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. J. Houtsmuller, RNN) (31 August – 2 September), ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski) (31 August – 3 September), ORP Garland (Lt.Cdr. K.F. Namiesniowski) (31 August – 3 September), the sloops HMIS Sutlej (Capt. P.A. Mare, RIN), HMS HMS Sennen (Lt.Cdr. D.C. Kinloch, RN) and HMS Totland (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) S.G.C. Rawson, RN).

HMS Cairo and HrMs Isaac Sweers parted company with the convoy on 2 September and proceeded to Northern Ireland. HMS Sheffield also left the convoy later this day.

ORP Piorun and ORP Garland parted company with the convoy shortly after noon on 3 September to assist a merchant vessel that was being bombed by German aircraft. By then HMS Winchelsea had also left the convoy.

HMS Furious was destined for Gibraltar and operated mainly a little away from the convoy. She left the convoy around 1100 hours on 4 September arrived at Gibraltar on 7 September escorted by HMS Cossack, HMS Zulu, HMS Legion and HMS Lively.

Shortly afterwards around 1300 hours on 4 September the convoy split into two sections, these were;
WS 11F (Fast); This convoy was made up of the merchants Bhutan, City of Edinburgh, Duchess of York, Empress of Australia, Glenorchy, Kina II, Largs Bay, Mooltan, Orontes, Otranto, Scythia, Viceroy of India. HMS Guardian was also part of this convoy.

Escort for this part of the convoy was provided by; HMS Repulse, HMIS Sutlej (Later went to the escort of convoy WS 11S), HMS Highlander (detached to fuel at the Azores), HMAS Nestor (Cdr. A.S. Rosenthal, RAN) (joined around noon on 4 September coming from Gibraltar) and HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN) (joined around 0800 hours on 7 September coming from Gibraltar).

Most of these ships oiled at sea from the RFA tanker Rapidol (2648 GRT, built 1917) (Master Lt.Cdr. A.E. Curtain, OBE, RNR). Rapidol later joined convoy WS 11S. At least HMS Highlander oiled at Ponta Delgada, Azores, she rejoined the convoy around noon on 6 September.

In the morning of 11 September 1941 two destroyers coming from Freetown joined the escort, these were HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN) and HMS Wrestler (Lt. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN). Later that day, around 1400 hours, the corvette HMS Starwort (Lt.Cdr. N.W. Duck, RD, RNR) also joined the escort. Shortly afterwards HMS Highlander parted company with the convoy and proceeded to Bathurst.

This part of the convoy arrived at Freetown on 13 September 1941.

The other section of the convoy was WS 11S (Slow); This convoy was made up of the merchants Abosso, Barrister, City of Manchester, Glaucus Manchester Progress and Northumberland.

Escort for this part of the convoy was provided by; HMS Derbyhire, HMS Sennen and HMS Totland.

This part of the convoy arrived at Freetown on 15 September 1941.

At Freetown the convoy (now called WS 11B) was re-grouped and departed from there on 18 September 1941 for the Cape.

The convoy was now made up of the merchants Barrister, Bhutan, City of Edinburgh, City of Manchester, Duchess of York, Empress of Australia, Glaucus, Glenorchy, Kina II, Largs Bay, Manchester Progress, Mooltan, Orontes, Otranto, Scythia, Viceroy of India and the Dutch liner (troopship) Nieuw Zeeland (11069 GRT, built 1928) joined the convoy at Freetown.

Escort was provided by the battlecruiser HMS Renown and the armed merchant cruiser Derbyshire. A/S escort was provided until 1800 hours 20 September 1941 by the destroyers HMS Velox and HMS Wrestler after which these returned to Freetown.

On 30 September the following ships put into Capetown escorted by HMS Derbyshire; Bhutan, City of Edinburgh, City of Manchester, Duchess of York, Glaucus, Glenorchy, Kina II, Largs Bay, Orontes, Viceroy of India and Nieuw Zeeland.

The other ships; Barrister, Empress of Australia, Manchester Progress, Mooltan, Otranto and Scythia arrived at Durban on 3 October escorted by HMS Repulse.

On 3 October 1941, Bhutan, City of Edinburgh, City of Manchester, Duchess of York, Glaucus, Glenorchy, Kina II, Largs Bay, Orontes, Viceroy of India and Nieuw Zeeland departed Capetown still escorted by HMS Derbyshire.

On 7 October 1941, Barrister, Manchester Progress, Mooltan, Otranto as well as the transports City of Canterbury (8331 GRT, built 1922), Dilwara (11080 GRT, built 1936), Eastern Prince (10926 GRT, built 1929), Johan de Witt (Dutch, 10474 GRT, built 1920), Llandaff Castle (10799 GRT, built 1926), Nieuw Holland (Dutch, 11066 GRT, built 1927) and Pulaski (Polish, 6516 GRT, built 1912). They were escorted by the battlecruiser Repulse until 13 October when she was relieved by HMS Ceres (Capt. H.H. McWilliam, RN). On 8 October these ships joined up with the ships coming from Capetown. HMS Derbyshire then left the convoy and returned to Capetown.

In the afternoon of 17 October 1941, HMS Glasgow (Capt. H. Hickling, DSO, RN) made rendez-vous with the convoy and then parted company taking the following ships with her; Barrister, City of Edinburgh, Duchess of York, Glaucius, Glenorchy, Johan de Witt, Kina II, Largs Bay, Orontes, Otranto, Nieuw Zeeland, Viceroy of India.

The other ships continued with HMS Ceres towards Aden where they arrived on 19 October 1941.

The ships taken over by HMS Glasgow proceeded to Bombay where they arrived on 22 October 1941. Three ships taken over by HMS Glasgow however were destined for Basra. One of these, the Barrister was unable to keep up with the convoy and was detached on 18 October. This ship arrived at Basra on 25 October. The other two ships destined for Basra, City of Edinburgh and Glenorchy were detached on 19 October and both arrived at Basra on 23 October 1941.

On 27 October 1941 the convoy departed Bombay for Colombo escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Hector (Capt.(Retd.) F. Howards, DSC, RN). The convoy was now made up of the transports; Glaucus, Johan de Witt, Kina II, Largs Bay, Nieuw Zeeland, Orion (23371 GRT, built 1935) and Ellenga (5196 GRT, built 1911).

They arrived at Colombo on 30 October 1941, minus the Kina II which was detached on 29 October and proceeded independently to Trincomalee.

On 31 October 1941 the convoy, now made up of Ellenga, Glaucus, Johan de Witt, Largs Bay, Nieuw Zeeland Orion and Rangitiki (16698 GRT, built 1929) departed Colombo for Singapore. The convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.D. Stephens, RN). They arrived at Singapore on 6 November 1941. (2)

21 Dec 1941
In the morning, the US transport Orizaba (6937 GRT, built 1918) parted company with convoy WS 12X and set course for Mombasa. She was escorted by the British light cruiser HMS Ceres (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) H.W.V. Stephenson, RN) which had made rendez-vous with convoy WS 12X and its escort, the British light cruiser HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. A.W.S. Agar, VC, DSO, RN). (3)

Sources

  1. ADM 173/16466
  2. ADM 199/1138
  3. ADM 53/114140

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


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