Allied Warships

HMS Jervis Bay (F 40)

Armed Merchant Cruiser

Photo courtesy of Allan C. Green Collection

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeArmed Merchant Cruiser
Class[No specific class] 
PennantF 40 
Built byVickers Ltd. (Barrow-in-Furness, U.K.) 
Laid down 
Launched17 Jan 1922 
Commissioned15 Oct 1939 
Lost5 Nov 1940 
Loss position53° 41'N, 32° 17'W

On 25 August 1939 the passenger ship Jervis Bay of the Aberdeen & Commonwealth Line Ltd, London was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to an armed merchant cruiser. Conversion was completed on 15 October 1939.

Displacement: 14164 BRT
Armament: 8x 152mm, 2x 76mm
Speed: 15 knots

October 39 - April 40: South Atlantic Station
May 40: Bermuda Convoy Escort Force
June 40 - November 40: Bermuda and Halifax Escort Force

On 5 November 1940, HMS Jervis Bay (A/Capt. Edward Stephen Fogarty Fegen, RN) was shelled and sunk in position 52º41'N, 32º17'W by the German pocket-battleship Admiral Scheer while engaging the superior enemy ship in a heroic, if hopeless, fight to give the 37 merchants in the convoy HX-84 a chance to escape, because the armed merchant cruiser was the sole escort. Her sacrifice allowed many ships of the convoy to scatter and escape in the night. Capt. E.S.F. Fegen (RN) was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.
Citation: "For valour in challenging hopeless odds and giving his life to save the many ships it was his duty to protect. On the 5th of November, 1940, in heavy seas, Captain Fegen, in His Majesty's Armed Merchant Cruiser Jervis Bay, was escorting thirty-eight Merchantmen. Sighting a powerful German warship he at once drew clear of the Convoy, made straight for the enemy and brought his ship between the raider and her prey, so that they might scatter and escape. Crippled, in flames, unable to reply, for nearly an hour the Jervis Bay held the German's fire. So she went down; but of the Merchantmen all but four or five were saved."

190 men were lost, while 65 survivors were picked up by the Swedish merchant Stureholm that had turned back during the night to search for survivors.


Commands listed for HMS Jervis Bay (F 40)

Please note that we're still working on this section
and that we only list Commanding Officers for the duration of the Second World War.

1Capt. (retired) Arthur Gerald Harris, RN2 Sep 193912 Feb 1940
2Cdr. (retired) James Alexander Pollard Blackburn, DSC, RN12 Feb 194028 Feb 1940
3A/Capt. Edward Stephen Fogarty Fegen, RN28 Feb 19405 Nov 1940 (+)

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Notable events involving Jervis Bay include:

13 Oct 1939
While at Rosyth HMS Sabre (Lt.Cdr. B. Dean, RN) is heavily damaged when she is rammed by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Jervis Bay. Sabre was under repair to 6 May 1940.

6 Jan 1940
During the morning, HMS Kelvin (Lt.Cdr. J.L. Machin, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. R.G.K. Knowling, RN), screened the armed merchant cruiser HMS Jervis Bay (Capt.(Retd.) A.G. Harris, RN).

In the middle of the day they screened the heavy cruiser HMS Hawkins (Capt. E. Rotherham, RN) during her gunnery exercises in the first part of the afternoon.

Later in the afternoon they screened the armed merchant cruiser HMS Dunvegan Castle (Capt.(Retd.) H. Ardill, RN) during her gunnery exercises. (1)

15 Feb 1940
At 0430O/15, HMS Queen of Bermuda (Capt. G.A.B. Hawkins, MVO, DSC, RN) is ordered to proceed towards position 13°02'S, 22°43'W, where the merchant vessel Hartismere (British, 5498 GRT, built 1933) reported being with engines disabled, and then take her in tow. Course is set accordingly.

Around 0800O/17, in position 12°00'S, 23°12'W, the disabled ship was taken in tow towards Freetown.

Around 1000O/19, in position 07°26'S, 21°18'W, tow was taken over by HMS Jervis Bay (Cdr.(Retd.) J.A.P. Blackburn, DSC, RN).

HMS Queen of Bermuda then set course to make rendezvous with HMS Hawkins (Capt. E. Rotherham, RN, flagship of Rear-Admiral Sir H. Harwood, KCB, OBE, RN) and HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. B.C.S. Martin, RN) in area K 32. The medical specialist which HMS Queen of Bermuda had on board since leaving the U.K. will then be transferred to HMS Dorsetshire which is to take him to the Falkland Islands to treat wounded personnel from the Battle of the River Plate. (2)


  1. ADM 53/112094 + ADM 53/112398 + ADM 53/112519
  2. ADM 53/113004 + ADM 199/380

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

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