Allied Warships

HMS Colombo (D 89)

Light cruiser of the Carlisle class

HMS Colombo in June 1943

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeLight cruiser
PennantD 89 
Built byFairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. (Govan, Scotland) 
OrderedJul 1917 
Laid down8 Dec 1917 
Launched18 Dec 1918 
Commissioned18 Jun 1919 
End service 

Converted to Anti-Aircraft cruiser between June 1942 and March 1943.
Armament was modified to;
6 4" AA guns (3x2)
4 40mm AA (2x2)
14 20mm AA (6x2, 2x1)

Sold to be broken up for scrap on 22 January 1948.
Scrapped by Cashmore, Newport arriving on 13 May 1948.


Commands listed for HMS Colombo (D 89)

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1Capt. Richard James Rodney Scott, RN31 Jul 19398 Feb 1940
2Capt. Charles Alfred Evelyn Stanfield, RN8 Feb 194028 Aug 1941
3Capt. Cecil Charles Acland Allen, RN28 Aug 194122 Apr 1942
4Capt. William Power Carne, RN22 Apr 194211 Jun 1942

5Capt. Derrick Henry Hall-Thompson, RN20 Feb 194312 Jan 1944
6Capt. Herbert Wyndham Williams, RN12 Jan 19441 Mar 1944
7Capt. Christopher Theodore Jellicoe, DSO, DSC, RN1 Mar 194416 Dec 1944
8A/Capt. Kenneth Mark Lefebre Robinson, RN16 Dec 1944mid 1945
9A/Capt. George Lee-Morris, RNVR1 Jul 1945late 1945

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Notable events involving Colombo include:

17 Nov 1939
The German merchant Henning Oldendorff (3986 GRT) is captured south-east of Iceland in position 63°00'N, 10°45'W by the British light cruiser HMS Colombo (Capt. R.J.R. Scott, RN).

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. 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.

23 Dec 1941
In the morning, the US troop transport Mount Vernon (24289 GRT, built 1932) was detached to meet with the Britsh light cruiser HMS Colombo (Capt. C.C.A. Allen, RN) and then to proceed to Aden. The cruiser however failed to show up on the rendez-vous and the Mount Vernon then proceeded to Mombasa.

HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. A.W.S. Agar, VC, DSO, RN) and the remaining four ships of convoy WS 12X continued on towards Bombay. (1)

12 May 1943
HMS Syrtis (Lt. M.H. Jupp, DSC, RN) conducted attack exercises in the Clyde area during which HMS Colombo (Capt. D.H. Hall-Thompson, RN) served as the target. (2)


  1. ADM 53/114140
  2. ADM 173/18159

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

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