Allied Warships

HMS Dragon (D 46)

Light cruiser of the D class

Photo from City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 447-4310

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeLight cruiser
PennantD 46 
Built byScotts Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. (Greenock, Scotland) 
OrderedSep 1916 
Laid downJan 1917 
Launched29 Dec 1917 
CommissionedAug 1918 
End service15 Jan 1943 

After commissioning in August 1918 HMS Dragon saw some brief war service with the 5th Light Cruiser Squadron in the Harwich Force. In 1919 Dragon was a member of the Baltic Squadron. In January 1920, the cruiser returned to the UK, and then served in the Atlantic Fleet 1st Light Cruiser Squadron participating in the Empire cruise. In February 1926, Dragon proceeded to the Mediterranean and joined the 1st Cruiser Squadron. In October she was deployed to the China Station. In December 1928, Dragon arrived at Chatham to pay off and refit. By March 1930, Dragon was recommissioned and left for the America and West Indies Station. In July 1937 back in the UK once more, the cruiser was reduced to reserve. In September 1939, because of the war, Dragon was recommissioned and joined the 7th Cruiser Squadron Home Fleet. The northern patrol (Admiral Sir Max Horton) was formed from cruisers from the 7th and 12th Cruiser Squadrons HMS Dragon, HMS Diomede, HMS Caledon, HMS Calypso, HMS Effingham, HMS Emerald, HMS Cardiff and HMS Dunedin. They were to operate in pairs in order to blockade the area between the Shetlands and the Faroes, and Faroes to Iceland. In one month 108 merchantmen were stopped, 28 of them were ordered to Kirkwall for inspection.

In March 1940, Dragon was transferred to the 3rd Cruiser Squadron Mediterranean. In August in the Central Atlantic the Vichy French steamer Touareg enroute from Pointe Noire (Congo) to Dakar was captured by Dragon. On the 25th, convoy WS2 arrived in South Africa with troop reinforcements including at least three Armoured Regiments for the 7th Armoured Division in the Middle East. Also embarked was the 2nd West African Brigade en-route Mombassa for the Abyssinian Campaign. The convoy split into WS 2A for Cape Town and WS 2B for Simon`s Town, it included 14 ships. Dragon and the cruisers HMS Shropshire, HMS Cornwall and the destroyer HMS Fortune provided the escort. In September she made up part of the British naval forces employed in the attack on the Vichy French fleet at Dakar, whilst there she was narrowly missed by torpedoes from the French submarine Persée. By December while serving in the South Atlantic, she was deployed from St Helena with the Armed Merchant Cruiser HMS Pretoria Castle to search the area for the German heavy cruiser Admiral Scheer. The British search operations however, produced no results.

In January 1941 Dragon operated with the East Indies Fleet. On August 11th, the cruiser was docked in the Selborne dry dock at Simonstown, South Africa, and refloated on the 4th of the following month. By October, she was back in the dry dock to have her torpedo tubes re-aligned and to conduct an inclination experiment. In December while off South Asia, Dragon was employed on escort duties between Singapore and Sunda Strait.

In January 1942 she was serving in the Dutch East Indies on convoy duties between Singapore, Sunda Strait and Java. While Dragon was lying at anchor at Keppel harbour, Singapore, the Japanese started bombing the ships that were embarking civilian evacuees. Admiral Geoffrewy Layton transferred his flag to Dragon, and in company with HMS Durban , were ordered to Tandjok Priok (Batavia) later that month she set out from the Sunda Strait for Colombo to join the Eastern Fleet and on the way, she took onboard refugees in Padang. Reports were then received of an impending Japanese attack on Ceylon. Admiral Sommerville concentrated his available naval forces on the two groups south of Ceylon of which Dragon was assigned to Force B which formed part of the Western Strike Force, together with the cruisers HMAS Hobart, HMS Danae and destroyers HMS Scout and HMS Tenedos Late February 1942 General Wavell had received orders to leave Java and set up head-quarters elsewhere. He was convinced further defence of Java was futile, and on the 27th, Admiral Helfrich reluctantly gave permission for Dragon, Danae and Hobart, and their two accompanying destroyers to withdraw from the area. In March, Dragon eventually arrived at Kilindini on the East African coast. In November, the cruiser returned to the UK to be paid off the following month, for a refit.

On 15 January 1943 she was transferred to the Polish Navy. On 6 June 1944 the old cruiser was a member of Force D which was the Gunfire Support Force for the assault area code named "Sword Beach” during the D day landings. During the night of 8-9 July, twenty one "Marders",(one man German submarines), set out from Villero Sur Mer, and badly damaged the cruiser, in addition to this, the Luftwaffe mounted an attack using their new long range circling torpedo known as the Dackel, again the cruiser was hit and permanently damaged, resulting in her being beached as a blockship for the protection of the Mulberry Harbour.

Career notesTo the Polish Navy as Dragon

Commands listed for HMS Dragon (D 46)

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

1Capt. Ronald George Bowes-Lyon, RN31 Jul 193927 Aug 1940
2Capt. Robert John Shaw, RN27 Aug 194026 May 1942
3A/Capt. George Vivian Barnett Faulkner, RN26 May 194226 Jul 1942
4Capt. Philip Foster Glover, RN26 Jul 194215 Jan 1943

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