Allied Warships

HMS Frobisher (D 81)

Heavy cruiser of the Cavendish class


HMS Frobisher as cadets training ship before the war

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeHeavy cruiser
ClassCavendish 
PennantD 81 
ModHeavy cruiser 
Built byDevonport Dockyard (Plymouth, U.K.): Wallsend 
OrderedDec 1915 
Laid down2 Aug 1916 
Launched20 Mar 1920 
Commissioned20 Sep 1924 
End service 
History

After commissioning in September 1924 HMS Frobisher served with the Mediterranean Fleet as flagship to the 1st Cruiser Squadron, with a temporary detachment to the China Station in 1926. In 1927 Frobisher was fitted with a catapult on the quarter-deck, together with a crane. This displaced one 4 inch gun, which was re-sited between the funnels with a fourth gun. In 1929 during a refit the cruiser was fitted with oil fired boilers, and then joined the Atlantic Fleet. In November 1930 Frobisher was reduced to reserve until conversion to Cadets Training Ship. From 1932 until 1939 Frobisher was used as a training ship. In early 1939 the cruiser was laid up, until the declaration of war. In January 1940 Frobisher started an extensive refit. The ship was rearmed with five 7.5 inch, and five 4 inch guns, and quadruple 2 pdr pom-pom and 19 20 mm Oerlikons.

In March 1942 HMS Frobisher joined the 4th Cruiser Squadron of the Eastern Fleet which operated in the Indian Ocean. On May 15th, convoy WS-18 arrived in South Africa from the U.K. The convoy ran into a minefield off Cape Agulhas, laid by the German mercantile minelayer Doggerbank on April 17th, which resulted in the sinking of the British merchant Soudan (6677 BRT) and damage to the destroyer depot ship HMS Hecla which was with the convoy. The convoy was enroute to Burma via India and consisted of 17 ships of which Frobisher was the escort. On July 18th, convoy WS-20 arrived in South Africa from the U.K. escorted by HMS Frobisher, HMS Shropshire and the armed merchant cruiser HMS Worcestershire with the 51st Division embarked for operations in the western desert. The convoy consisted of 18 ships. On December 4th, convoy WS-24 arrived in South Africa from the U.K. with reinforcements, the convoy consisted of 16 ships Frobisher supplied the escort.

In the early part of 1943 Frobisher was involved in the escorting of supply convoys passing around the Cape of Good Hope to the Suez Canal. May 17-31st, was spent in the Selborne dry dock at Simonstown, South Africa.

In March 1944 Frobisher returned to the U.K. On June 6th the cruiser was a member of Gunfire Bombardment Support Force D under Rear Admiral Patterson. This force was allocated to “Sword" in the D-Day landings. Later during the month she was deployed as a depot ship for the motor torpedo boats participating in the D-Day Armada. August saw Frobisher along with the repair ship Albatross were damaged by a long range German torpedo fired from E-boats in Seine Bay. The cruiser was then partly disarmed and spent her remaining years once more as a Cadet Training Ship. She was sold for scrap on 26 March 1949 and on 11 May 1949 Frobisher arrived at Newport to be broken up for scrap by Cashmore.

Her badge can be seen painted on the side of the Selborne dry dock wall, with the inscription “Semper Triumphans”.

 

Commands listed for HMS Frobisher (D 81)

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CommanderFromTo
1Capt. James Frank William Mudford, RN13 Jan 194215 Sep 1944
2Capt. (retired) Neville Brevoort Carey Brock, RN15 Sep 194416 Mar 1945
3Capt. John Graham Hewitt, DSO, RN16 Mar 1945

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Notable events involving Frobisher include:


HMS Frobisher at Malta.

20 Jun 1942

Convoy WS 20.

This convoy was formed of Oversay on 20 June 1940 and arrived at Freetown on 2 July 1940.

It departed Freetown on 6 July 1940 for Capetown / Durban.

It was made up of the troopships / transports; Abosso (British, 11330 GRT, built 1935), Adrastus (British, 7905 GRT, built 1923), Arundel Castle (British, 19118 GRT, built 1921), Awatea (British, 13482 GRT, built 1936), Banfora (British, 9472 GRT, built 1914), Batory (Polish, 14287 GRT, built 1936), Bergensfjord (Norwegian, 11015 GRT, built 1913), Cuba (British, 11420 GRT, built 1923), Duchess of Richmond (British, 20022 GRT, built 1928), Durban Castle (British, 17388 GRT, built 1938), Empire Pride (British, 9248 GRT, built 1941), Empress of Australia (British, 21833 GRT, built 1914), Empress of Russia (British, 16810 GRT, built 1913), Esperance Bay (British, 14204 GRT, built 1922), Leopoldville (Belgian, 11509 GRT, built 1929), Narkunda (British, 16632 GRT, built 1920), Nigerstroom (Dutch, 4639 GRT, built 1939), Orion (British, 23371 GRT, built 1935), Palma (British, 5419 GRT, built 1941), Stirling Castle (British, 25550 GRT, built 1936), Stratheden (British, 23722 GRT, built 1937) and Strathmore (British, 23428 GRT, built 1935).

On forming off Orsay Island the convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Beagle (Cdr. R.C. Medley, RN), HMS Boadicea (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN), HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN), HMS Wolverine (Lt.Cdr. P.W. Gretton, OBE, DSC, RN), HMS Georgetown (Lt.Cdr. P.G. MacIver, RNR), HMS Ripley (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) G.W.E. Castens, RN), HMS Salisbury (Lt.Cdr. H.M.R. Crichton, RN) and HNoMS St. Albans (Lt.Cdr. S.V. Storheill, RNorN).

On 24 June HMS Georgetown and HMS Salisbury were detached.

On 25 June HMS Boadicea and HMS Ripley were detached. At 0900/26, the battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. J.W.A. Waller, RN joined the convoy. She came from Gibraltar and had been escorted by the destroyers HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Vidette (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN) and HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN). The troopship Narkunda then parted company with the convoy proceeding to Gibraltar escorted by HMS Beagle, HMS Antelope, HMS Vidette, HMS Wishart and HMS Wolverine.

At 1230/26, HMS St.Albans parted company with the convoy to join northound convoy SL 113.

At 2015/26, the destroyer HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Poe, RN) and escort destroyer HMS Blackmore (Lt. H.T. Harrel, RN) joined the convoy.

Between 0700 and 0800/27 HMS Vansittart fuelled from HMS Malaya.

At 1620/27, HMS Vansittart parted company with the convoy to proceed to Ponta Delgada, Azores to fuel and to proceed to Gibraltar afterwards.

At 0600/28, the destroyer HMS Vimy (Lt.Cdr. H.G.D. de Chair, RN) joined the convoy.

Between 0946 and 1023/28, HMS Brilliant fuelled from HMS Malaya. HMS Blackmore was fuelled by HMS Malaya late in the afternoon of the 28th.

At 0800/1, the destroyers HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) and HMS Wivern (Cdr. M.D.C. Meyrick, RN) joined the convoy. The were to have joined the day before but were unable to find the convoy due to the bad visibility and the convoy, poor fixes and the convoy being a bit ahead of shedule. HMS Vimy parted company with the convoy shortly after these two destroyer had joined.

At 1250/1, the destroyer HMS Velox (Lt. G.B. Barstow, RN) joined the convoy.

The convoy arrived safely at Freetown on 2 July 1942.

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On departure from Freetown on 6 July the convoy, in the same composition as in which it had arrived, was escorted by HMS Malaya, HMS Brilliant, HMS Velox, HMS Wivern and HMS Blackmore.

At 1130/7, the troopship Batory parted company with the convoyto proceed to Takoradi escorted by HMS Blackmore. They arrived at Takoradi on 11 July. HMS Blackmore then departed Takoradi, after fuelling, later the same day to rejoin convoy WS 20.

At 1845/8, HMS Wivern was detached to fuel at Pointe Noire to fuel, then proceed to Walvis Bay to fuel there and then rejoin convoy WS 20.

At 0650/9, HMS Brilliant was detached to fuel at Pointe Noire.

At 1815/9, HMS Boreas joined the convoy coming from Takoradi. HMS Velox was then detached to Lagos.

At 1650/12, HMS Boreas was detached to Pointe Noire.

At 1720/12, HMS Blackmore rejoined coming from Takoradi.

At 1130/13, HMS Brilliant rejoined coming from Pointe Noire.

At 1650/14, HMS Brilliant was detached to Walvis Bay.

At 0715/16, HMS Brilliant and HMS Wivern joined coming from Walvis Bay.

Between 0720 to 0815/16, HMS Blackmore fuelled from HMS Malaya.

At 0705/17, HMS Brilliant and HMS Wivern were detached to Simonstown.

At 0800/17, heavy cruiser HMS Shropshire (Capt. J.T. Borrett, OBE, RN) joined the convoy to take care of the Durban section. The Capetown section then split off escorted by HMS Malaya and HMS Blackmore. The Capetown section arrived at Capetown later the same day. It was made up of the troopships / transports; Abosso, Adrastus, Banfora, Bergensfjord, Cuba, Duchess of Richmond, Empire Pride, Empress of Australia, Esperance Bay, Leopoldville and Palma.

At 0830/18 (GMT), HMS Brilliant and HMS Wivern departed Simonstown to join the Durban section of the convoy that was being escorted by HMS Shropshire.

The Durban section arrived at Durban in the moning of July, 20th. HMS Shropshire parted company to proceed to Simonstown. HMS Brilliant and HMS Wivern then patrolled off Durban until the last ships of the convoy had entered the harbour. The Durban section had been made up of the troopships / transports; Arundel Castle, Awatea, Durban Castle, Empress of Russia, Nigerstroom, Orion, Stratheden and Strathmore.

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In the morning of 21 July 1941 the troopships / transports Abosso, Adrastus, Bergensfjord, Cuba, Duchess of Richmond, Empire Pride, Empress of Australia, Leopoldville and Palma departed Capetown to the rendez-vous point near Durban. They were escorted by the escort destroyer HMS Blackmore. Around 1600/21 they were joined by the battleship HMS Malaya which had departed Simonstown at 1215/21.

Around 0930/26 the convoy arrived off Durban where it merged with the Durban section.

The Durban section was made up of the troopships / transports; Arundel Castle, Orion, Stirling Castle and Stratheden. They wer escorted by the light cruiser HMS Gambia (Capt. M.J. Mansergh, CBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Brilliant and HMS Wivern.

HMS Malaya split off from the Capetown section to proceed to Capetown escorted by HMS Brilliant and HMS Wivern. HMS Blackmore entered Durban.

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The convoy was now made up of the troopships / transports; Abosso, Adrastus, Arundel Castle, Bergensfjord, Cuba, Duchess of Richmond, Empire Pride, Empress of Australia, Leopoldville, Orion, Palma, Stirling Castle and Stratheden and was being escorted by HMS Gambia.

At 0900/30, the convoy, now to the east of Madagascar, was joined by the heavy cruiser HMS Frobisher (Capt. J.F.W. Mudford, RN) and the armed merchant cruiser HMS Worcestershire (A/Capt.(Retd.) E.H. Hopkinson, RN). The troopship Stirling Castle then split off to proceed to Mauritius escorted by HMS Gambia.

At 1410/31, HMS Worcestershire parted company with the convoy. Her speed had proven to be be to low and she had difficulty keeping up.

At 0900/3, the heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire (Capt. R.D. Oliver, CBE, DSC, RN) joined the convoy. Shortly afterwards the convoy split up in two sections, one with the destination Aden (Perim) (WS 20A) and one with the destination Bombay (WS 20B).

22 Jun 1942
During 22/23 June 1942, HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), HMS Frobisher (Capt. J.F.W. Mudford, RN), HMS Caledon (A/Capt. H.J. Haynes, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Duncan (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN) and HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN), conducted exercises off Kilindini. (1)

25 Jun 1942
During 25/26 June 1942, HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), HMS Frobisher (Capt. J.F.W. Mudford, RN), HMS Caledon (A/Capt. H.J. Haynes, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Duncan (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN) and HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN), conducted exercises off Kilindini. (1)

1 Jul 1942

Convoy CM 29.

This convoy departed Durban on 1 July 1942 and arrived at Aden on 17 July 1942.

The following transports / troopships were part of this convoy; Dilwara (British, 11080 GRT, built 1936), Diomed (British, 10374 GRT, built 1922), Dunera (British, 11162 GRT, built 1937), Llandaff Castle (British, 10799 GRT, built 1926), Pulaski (Polish, 6516 GRT, built 1912), Scythia (British, 19761 GRT, built 1920) and Sobieski (Polish, 11030 GRT, built 1939).

On departure from Durban the convoy was escorted by the heavy cruiser HMS Frobisher (Capt. J.F.W. Mudford, RN) and the corvette HMS Fritillary (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Barker, RD, RNR) and the netlayer HMS Guardian (A/Capt. H.A.C. Lane, RN).

On 9 July the battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) departed Kilindini to rendezvous with the convoy. She did so on 11 July and relieved HMS Frobisher, HMS Fritillary and HMS Guardian which then proceeded to Kilindini.

On the 14th the armed merchant cruiser HMS Corfu (Capt.(Retd.) J.P. Landon, RN) took over from HMS Royal Sovereign which then set course to return to Kilindini.

Early in the morning of the 16th the Aden section of the convoy parted company. It was made up of the Diomed, Llandaff Castle, Pulaski and Scythia. They proceeded unescorted to Aden arriving there on the 17th.

The Bombay section of the convoy (called CM 29B), made up of Dilwara, Dunera and Sobieski continued on escorted by HMS Corfu. They were joined in late on the morning of the 16th by the damaged light cruiser HMS Newcastle (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, DSO, RN). Convoy CM 29B arrived at Bombay on 21 July 1942.

23 Jun 1943
The battleship HMS Resolution (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Frobisher (Capt. J.F.W. Mudford, RN), light cruiser HMS Newcastle (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), armed merchant cruiser HMS Alaunia (Capt. R.H.C. Crawford, OBE, RNR), HMS Canton ( A/Cdr.(Retd.) R.J.E. Daintree, RN) and the destroyers HMAS Napier (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Green, DSC, RAN) and HMS Racehorse (Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN) departed Kilindini for exercises. They returned Kilindini on 25 June 1943. (2)

20 Jul 1943
HMS Newcastle (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Suffolk (Capt. R. Shelley, CBE, RN), HMS Sussex (Capt. W.Y.La R. Beverley, RN) and HMS Frobisher (Capt. J.F.W. Mudford, RN) departed Kilindini for a few days of exercises. (3)

22 Jul 1943
HMS Newcastle (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Suffolk (Capt. R. Shelley, CBE, RN), HMS Sussex (Capt. W.Y.La R. Beverley, RN) and HMS Frobisher (Capt. J.F.W. Mudford, RN) returned to Kilindini from exercises.

HMS Newcastle departed Kilindini for Colombo, via Port Victoria, Seychelles, later the same day. (3)

24 Nov 1943
From 24 to 26 November 1943, HMS Ramillies (Capt. G.B. Middleton, CBE, RN), HMS Newcastle (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.D. Read, CB, RN), HMS Kenya (Capt. C.L. Robertson, RN) and HMS Frobisher (Capt. J.F.W. Mudford, RN) conducted exercises off Kilindini.

On 25 November 1943 the submarine HMS Osiris (T/Lt. M.H. Atkinson, RNR) also came out to participate in the exercises.

On completion of the exercises on the 26th, HMS Ramilles, HMS Kenya and HMS Frobisher returned to Kilindini while HMS Newcastle proceeded to Manza Bay, Tanzania. (4)

1945
Frobisher as seen in 1945.
Photograph with thanks to Geoffrey Tarrant whose father Alfred Tarrant served at Frobisher during that time.

Sources

  1. ADM 53/116607
  2. ADM 53/116862 + ADM 53/117109 + ADM 53/117542 + ADM 53/118265 + ADM 53/118443
  3. ADM 53/117543 + ADM 53/118266 + ADM 53/118584 + ADM 53/118605
  4. ADM 53/118270 + ADM 53/117711

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


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