Allied Warships

HMS Durban (D 99)

Light cruiser of the D class


HMS Durban in October 1942

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeLight cruiser
ClassD 
PennantD 99 
Built byScotts Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. (Greenock, Scotland) 
OrderedJul 1917 
Laid downJan 1918 
Launched29 May 1919 
Commissioned1 Nov 1921 
Lost9 Jun 1944 
Loss position49° 21'N, 0° 16'W
History

Completed by Devonport Dockyard.

After commissioning HMS Durban joined the China Station 5th Light Cruiser Squadron in January 1922. In 1928 Durban was transferred to the America and West Indies Station. In 1930 The cruiser returned to the UK. In 1931 Durban joined the South Atlantic Division. By December 1933, Durban was relieved by the heavy cruiser HMS York and returned to the UK. In March 1934, the cruiser left for Gibraltar to join the Mediterranean Fleet. By September 1936 Durban returned to the UK and was placed into reserve

In September 1939, because of the outbreak of war Durban was brought forward for commissioning and joined the 9th Cruiser Squadron in the South Atlantic Command. In March 1940 she was in the Indian Ocean when Durban was transferred to the Far East Fleet based at Singapore where she became a unit of the British Malaysian Force. This consisted of her two sister ships HMS Danae and HMS Dauntless, the unit was formed to keep watch on German merchant ships in the Dutch East Indies harbours, her patrol area was off Padang. November, On 10 November 1940 the Norwegian tanker Ole Jacob (offsite link) reported being shelled midway between Ceylon, and the north end of Sumatra. The German raider Atlantis being named the attacker. The C-in-C East Indies immediately organised a hunting group comprising Durban and the cruisers HMS Capetown, HMAS Canberra and armed merchant cruiser HMAS Westralia. HMAS Canberra was at that time on passage to Australia after escorting a convoy to Bombay. The hunt proved unsuccessful.

In 1941 Durban was still based at Singapore with the cruiser HMS Dragon and tasked in the escorting of the convoys between Singapore and the Sunda Straits. In February, she escorted the Queen Mary from the Sunda Strait to Singapore, they reached their destination on the 18th, carrying the first Australian Imperial Force Troops for Malaya. In November, she escorted the trooper Zealandia from the Sunda Strait to Singapore, after relieving the Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney which had originally left Fremantle. Not long after this Sydney was involved in a skirmish with the German raider Kormoran, when both ships were sunk.

In January 1942 she was in the Dutch East Indies where Durban remained part of the formation of the China Force for convoy duties between Singapore, Sunda Straits and Java. In February while at Keppel Harbour, Singapore, Admiral Layton decided to move the Fleet to Java after the Japanese started their attack on Singapore, it was here where Durban was damaged by bombing, in company with Dragon they travelled at high speed and arrived at Tandjong Priok, the port of Batavia. Later temporary repairs were carried out at Colombo. Full repairs were carried out at New York in April, and further modifications were made in Portsmouth between June and August.

On 5 November 1942, convoy WS-23 arrived in South Africa from the UK with reinforcements, the convoy consisted of 5 ships and escort was provided by Durban and HMS Hawkins.

In February 1943 Durban sailed for New York for permanent repairs. By June the cruiser was docked in the Selborne dry dock at Simonstown, South Africa prior to joining the Eastern Fleet. In November, she returned to the UK to be paid off.

On 9 June 1944 Durban was expended to form part of Gooseberry 5 breakwater for protecting the artificial harbour off Ouistreham in the Seine Bay.
The wreck lies in 11 meters of water in position 49º20'44"N, 00º16'08"W.

 

Commands listed for HMS Durban (D 99)

Please note that we're still working on this section.

CommanderFromTo
1Capt. Alexander Henry Maxwell-Hyslop, RN31 Jul 193926 Nov 1939
2Cdr. Charles Stuart Bell, RN26 Nov 193927 Nov 1939
3Capt. Francis Cyril Flynn, RN27 Nov 193915 Dec 1939
4Capt. Alfred Creighton Collinson, RN15 Dec 193926 Jan 1940
5Capt. Leslie Swain Saunders, RN26 Jan 19401 May 1940
6Capt. John Arthur Symons Eccles, RN1 May 194013 Oct 1941
7Capt. Peter Grenville Lyon Cazalet, DSC, RN13 Oct 194125 Sep 1942
8Capt. George Frederick Stevens-Guille, DSO, OBE, RN25 Sep 194219 Nov 1943

9Cdr. (retired) Richard Charles Stokes, RN28 Dec 19436 Apr 1944
10A/Cdr. John Andrew Agnew, RN6 Apr 1944

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Notable events involving Durban include:


7 Jan 1941

Convoy WS 5B

This convoy departed U.K. ports on 7 January 1941 for variuos ports in the Far East and Mediterranean (see below).

The convoy was made up of the following troop transports; Arundel Castle (British, 19118 GRT, built 1921), Athlone Castle (25564 GRT, built 1936), Britannic (British, 26943 GRT, built 1930), Capetown Castle (British, 27002 GRT, built 1938), Duchess of Bedford (British, 20123 GRT, built 1928), Duchess of Richmond (British, 20022 GRT, built 1928), Duchess of York (British, 20021 GRT, built 1929), Durban Castle (British, 17388 GRT, built 1938), Empress of Australia (British, 21833 GRT, built 1914), Empress of Japan (British, 26032 GRT, built 1930), Franconia (British, 20175 GRT, built 1923), Highland Chieftain (British, 14131 GRT, built 1929), Highland Princess (British, 14133 GRT, built 1930), Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931), Nea Hellas (British, 16991 GRT, built 1922), Orbita (British, 15495 GRT, built 1915), Ormonde (British, 14982 GRT, built 1917), Pennland (Dutch, 16082 GRT, built 1922), Samaria (British, 19597 GRT, built 1921), Winchester Castle (British, 20012 GRT, built 1930) and Windsor Castle (British, 19141 GRT, built 1922).

Four of these ships departed Avonmouth on 7 January and six sailed from Liverpool. These ships anchored in Moelfre Bay for several days as the eleven ships that were to be sailed from the Clyde could not do so due to thick fog.

The Avonmouth (Bristol Channel) section of the convoy had been escorted to Moelfre Bay by the destroyer HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. R.L.S. Gaisford, RN).

The Liverpool section was escorted to Moelfre Bay by the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia (Capt. R.S. Stewart, RN) and the destroyers HMS Harvester (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, DSC, RN), HMS Highlander (Cdr. W.A. Dallmeyer, DSO, RN) and HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN).

The ships and their escorts anchored in Moelfre Bay from 8 to 11 January. The escorts remained there for A/S patrol and AA protection and were joined by the destroyer HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN) which had departed Liverpool on the 8th and the light cruiser HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RN) which came from the Clyde.

When it became clear that the ships from the Clyde were finally able to sail the ships in Moelfre Bay sailed for Lough Foyle (near Londonderry, Northern Ireland) to take on board additional water.

The ships from Lough Foyle and the Clyde made rendez-vous at sea on 12 January and course was then set to Freetown.

The convoy was now escorted by the battleship HMS Ramillies (Capt. A.D. Read, RN), heavy cruiser HMAS Australia, light cruisers HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN), HMS Naiad, destroyers HMS Jackal (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Harvester, HMS Highlander, HMS Fearless (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN), HMS Beagle (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Wright, DSC, RN), HMS Witherington, HMS Watchman (Lt.Cdr. E.C.L. Day, RN), HMS Vansittart, HMS Lincoln (Cdr. A.M. Sheffield, RN), HMS Leamington (Cdr. W.E. Banks, DSC, RN) and Léopard (Lt.Cdr. J. Evenou).

On 14 January the destroyers HMS Witherington and FFS Leopard parted company.

The light cruiser HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN) departed Plymouth on 12 January. She joined the convoy around noon on the 15th. Shortly afterwards HMS Naiad then parted company with the convoy and proceeded to Scapa Flow where she arrrived around 1430/17.

HMS Phoebe and HMS Fearless also parted company with the convoy escorting the Capetown Castle and Monarch of Bermuda to Gibraltar where they arrived in the afternoon of the 18th. On the 17th they were joined by the destroyer HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN) and on the 18th by two more destroyers; HMS Duncan (A/Capt. A.D.B. James, RN) and HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN).

At Gibraltar the two troopships took on board troops from the damaged troopship Empire Trooper. They departed Gibraltar for Freetown on 19 January being escorted by the destroyers HMS Fury, HMS Fearless and HMS Duncan until 21 January when they parted company. Both troopships arrived at Freetown on 26 January escorted by HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN) and HMS Forester.

Meanwhile convoy WS 5B had coninued its passage southwards.

On the 16 January all remaining destroyers parted company.

HMS Ramillies parted company with the convoy on 17 January.

The troopship / liner Duchess of York was apparently detached at some point.

When approaching Freetown local A/S vessels started to join the convoy. On 21 January the corvettes HMS Asphodel (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) K.W. Stewart, RN) and HMS Calendula (Lt.Cdr. A.D. Bruford, RNVR) joined and the next day the destroyer HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN) also joined the convoy. Finally on 24 January the destroyer HMS Vidette (Lt. E.N. Walmsley, RN) also joined the convoy.

On 25 January 1941 the convoy arrived at Freetown escorted by HMAS Australia, HMS Emerald, HMS Velox, HMS Vidette, HMS Asphodel and HMS Calendula.

The convoy departed Freetown on 29 January with the addition of troop transport Cameronia (British, 16297 GRT, built 1920) still escorted by HMAS Australia and HMS Emerald. A local A/S force remained with the convoy until 1 February and was made up of the destroyers HMS Faulknor, HMS Forester, sloop HMS Milford (Capt.(Retd.) S.K. Smyth, RN) and the corvettes HMS Clematis (Cdr. Y.M. Cleeves, DSC, RD, RNR) and HMS Cyclamen (Lt. H.N. Lawson, RNR).

HMS Emerald arrived at Capetown on 8 February escorting Arundel Castle, Athlone Castle, Capetown Castle, Duchess of Bedford, Durban Castle, Empress of Australia, Empress of Japan, Monarch of Bermuda and Winchester Castle. The light cruiser then went to Simonstown.

HMAS Australia arrived at Durban on 11 February with Britannic, Cameronia, Duchess of Richmond, Franconia, Highland Chieftain, Highland Princess, Nea Hellas, Ormonde, Pennland, Samaria and Windsor Castle.

The Capetown section departed that place on 12 February and the Durban section on 15 February after which a rendez-vous of Durban was effected.

On 21 February the troopships Empress of Australia, Empress of Japan, Ormonde and Windsor Castle were detached to Mombasa escorted by HMS Emerald.

The remainder of the convoy continued on Suez escorted by HMS Australia and HMS Hawkins (Capt. H.P.K. Oram, RN) which joined the convoy shortly before HMS Emerald and the four troopships for Mombasa were detached, arriving on 3 March. The sloop HMAS Parramatta (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Walker, MVO, RAN) provided A/S escort during the passage through the Red Sea. The convoy arrived at Suez on 3 March 1941.

The 'Mombasa section' meanwhile departed there on 24 February as convoy WS 5X now escorted by light cruiser HMS Enterprise (Capt. J.C. Annesley, DSO, RN). On 27 February light cruiser HMS Capetown (Capt. P.H.G. James, RN) joined this convoy as additional escort. The convoy arrived at Bombay on 3 March 1941.

Convoy WS 5X, now made up of the troopship Aquitania (British, 44786 GRT, built 1914) and Empress of Japan, departed Bombay for Singapore on 5 March escorted by HMS Enterprise. The convoy was joined on 8 March by the light cruiser HMS Durban (Capt. J.A.S. Eccles, RN). HMS Enterprise left the convoy on 9 March. The convoy arrived at Singapore on 11 March.

21 Dec 1941
HMS Exeter (Capt. O.L. Gordon, MVO, RN) departed Colombo to proceed towards the Sunda Stait to make rendez-vous with the transport Erinpura (5143 GRT, built 1911) that had departed Singapore on 19 December 1941 with survivors from HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse as well as women and children.

The Erinpura was escorted by HMS Dragon (Capt. R.J. Shaw, MBE, RN), HMS Durban (Capt. P.G.L. Cazalet, DSC, RN) and HMAS Vampire (Cdr. W.T.A. Moran, RAN) until 24 December when HMS Exeter took over. They arrived at Colombo on 27 December 1941. (1)

30 Dec 1941

Convoy DM 1

This convoy was formed at sea near Mombasa on 30 December 1941.

It arrived at Addu Atoll (Port T) on 4 January 1942 and departed from there for Singapore on 5 January 1942. The convoy arrived at Singapore on 13 January 1942.

This convoy was made up of the following ships;
American liner (troopship) Mount Vernon (24289 GRT, built 1933), British liners (troopships) Narkunda (16227 GRT, built 1920), Aorangi (17491 GRT, built 1924), British cargo vessel Sussex (11062 GRT, built 1937), Dutch passerger / cargo ship Abbekerk (7906 GRT, built 1939).

The convoy was escorted by British light cruiser HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN) until Addu Attol. From Addu Atoll onwards HMS Emerald was reinforced by the British heavy cruiser HMS Exeter (Capt. O.L. Gordon, MVO, RN) and the Indian sloop HMIS Jumna (Cdr. W.R. Shewring, RIN).

On 9 January, the British light cruiser HMS Durban (Capt. P.G.L. Cazalet, DSC, RN), joined the escort in position 04°27'N, 94°47'E.

On 10 January, the Dutch light cruiser HrMs De Ruyter (Cdr. E.E.B. Lacomblé, RNN and flagship of Rear-Admiral K.W.F.M. Doorman, RNN) joined the escort for three hours in position 05°22'N, 100°34'E. Rear-Admiral Doorman then boarded HMS Emerald to discuss the route and policy with the commanding officer. After Rear-Admiral Doorman returned to his flagship HrMs De Ruyter parted company with the convoy.

Later on 10 January 1940 the British destroyers HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN) and the Australian destroyer HMAS Vampire (Cdr. W.T.A. Moran, RAN) joined the escort in position 05°30'N, 100°55'E.

Shortly before 1800 hours on 11 January the Dutch light cruisers HrMs De Ruyter, HrMs Tromp (Cdr. J.B. de Meester, RNN) and the Dutch destroyers HrMs Piet Hein (Lt.Cdr. J.M.L.I. Chompff, RNN) and HrMs Banckert (Lt.Cdr. L.J. Goslings, RNN) bolstered the escort of convoy DM 1. The Dutch ships remained with the convoy until 0745/13. (2)

1 Jan 1942
HrMs De Ruyter (Cdr. E.E.B. Lacomblé, RNN and flagship of Rear-Admiral K.W.F.M. Doorman, RNN), HrMs Tromp (Cdr. J.B. de Meester, RNN) and the destroyers HrMs Piet Hein (Lt.Cdr. J.M.L.I. Chompff, RNN) and HrMs Banckert (Lt.Cdr. L.J. Goslings, RNN) departed Batavia. They were to bolster the escort of convoy BM 9A that was en-route to Singapore. The Dutch ships joined the British convoy at 1345 hours.

The Dutch ships remained with the convoy until 2000/2.

Convoy BM 9A was made up of the following ships; liner (troopship) Devonshire (11275 GRT, built 1939), passenger (or in this case troops) / cargo ships Lancashire (9445 GRT, built 1917), Rajula (8478 GRT, built 1926), Ethiopia (5575 GRT, built 1922) and Varsova (4691 GRT, built 1914). They were escorted by the Australian light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, CBE, RAN), the British light cruisers HMS Durban (Capt. P.G.L. Cazalet, DSC, RN), HMS Dragon (Capt. R.J. Shaw, MBE, RN) and the British destroyers HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN) and the Australian destroyer HMAS Vampire (Cdr. W.T.A. Moran, RAN). The convoy arrived arrived at Singapore on 3 January. (2)

19 Jan 1942

Convoy BM 11.

Convoy from Bombay to Singapore.
Departure date: 19 January 1942.
Arrival date: 28 January 1942.

This convoy was made up of the following ships;
British troop ships; Duchess of Bedford (20123 GRT, built 1928), Empress of Japan (26032 GRT, built 1930)

British merchant Empire Star (13479 GRT, built 1935).

American troop ships; Wakefield (24289 GRT, built 1931) and West Piont (26454 GRT, built 1940).

Escort was initially provided from 19 January to 22 January 1942 by the British light cruiser HMS Caledon (A/Capt. H.J. Haynes, DSO, DSC, RN).

On 22 January 1942, HMS Glasgow (Capt. H. Hickling, DSO, RN) took over from HMS Caledon in position 05°10'N, 80°09'E.

On 25 January 1942, HMS Dragon (Capt. R.J. Shaw, MBE, RN) and HMS Durban (Capt. P.G.L. Cazalet, DSC, RN) joined the convoy in the afternoon.

On 27 January 1942, HMS Exeter (Capt. O.L. Gordon, MVO, RN) and the destroyer HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN) took over shortly after dawn from HMS Glasgow in position 06°32'S, 102°29'E. It appears that HMS Exeter parted company with the convoy on 28 January and proceeded to Batavia.

The destroyers HMS Electra (Cdr. C.W. May, RN) and HMS Express (Lt.Cdr. F.J. Cartwright, RN) also joined during the final approach of the convoy to Singapore. [But the exact moment they joined is currently not known to us.]

The convoy arrived at Singapore on 29 January 1940. (3)

Sources

  1. ADM 53/114260 + ADM 199/408
  2. Files 2.12.03.6849 and 2.12.27.121 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  3. ADM 199/426

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


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