Allied Warships

HMS Transylvania (F 56)

Armed Merchant Cruiser

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeArmed Merchant Cruiser
Class[No specific class] 
PennantF 56 
Built byFairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. (Govan, Scotland) 
Laid down 
Launched11 Mar 1925 
Commissioned5 Oct 1939 
Lost10 Aug 1940 
Loss position55° 50'N, 8° 03'W

In August 1939 the passenger ship Transylvania of the Anchor Line (Henderson Bros) Ltd, Glasgow was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to an armed merchant cruiser. Conversion was completed on 5 October 1939.

Displacement: 16923 BRT
Armament: 8x 152mm, 2x 76mm
Speed: 15.5 knots

October 39 - August 40: Northern Patrol

At 01.00 hours on 10 August 1940, HMS Transylvania (Capt. Francis Nigel Miles, OBE, (retired), RN) was hit aft of the stack by one G7e torpedo from U-56 about 40 nautical miles northwest of Malin Head, Donegal in position 55º50'N, 08º03'W. The ship of the 10th Cruiser Squadron on Northern Patrol had been spotted by the U-boat only 15 minutes before and the Germans had to left her behind because they had no torpedoes left. The disabled vessel was taken in tow but later foundered, while nearby trawlers rescued about 300 officers and ratings.


Hit by U-boat
Sunk on 10 Aug 1940 by U-56 (Harms).

U-boat AttackSee our U-boat attack entry for the HMS Transylvania

Commands listed for HMS Transylvania (F 56)

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and that we only list Commanding Officers for the duration of the Second World War.

1Capt. (retired) Francis Nigel Miles, RN2 Sep 193910 Aug 1940

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Notable events involving Transylvania include:

21 Oct 1939
At 1406Z/21, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Scotstoun (Capt. S.K. Smyth, RN), which was on patrol in the Denmark Strait, sighted a merchant vessel which was identified as the Danish Virginia (4088 GRT, built 1920). It was at that time not possible to board the vessel due to the weather conditions.

As the vessel was thought to be suspecious HMS Scotstoun remained in company with the vessel and at 1030Z/22, she was ordered to raise colours. She complied at 1100Z/22 when the German ensign was hoised. It was then found out that the merchant vessel was in fact the German Poseidon (5864 GRT, built 1922).

Around 1300Z/22, a boarding party was sent over. The sea boat returned with the German Captain which then informed Captain Smyth that he had just scuttled his ship and that she was sinking. At 1330Z/22, the Germans abandoned ship and rowed towards HMS Scotstoun.

The Germans were picked up which was completed around 1430Z/22.

At 1535Z/22, a boarding party was sent over. She was alongside the German ship at 1600Z/22. The boarding officer reported that she was not sinking. It was intended to take the ship to Kirkwall with the boarding party.

At 1800Z/22, the boarding party reported that they were unable to raise steam and at 2200Z/22 they reported that they were still unable to do so. At 2330Z/22, the boarding party dropped anchor.

At 0630Z/22, the boarding party weighted anchor as they had got the ships engines working.

At 0750Z/23, HMS Scotstoun lost sight of the Poseidon in a snow storm and it she was only found later by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Transylvania (Capt. F.N. Miles, OBE, RN) which took her in tow towards Reykjavik.

Light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. E. de F. Renouf, CVO, RN) was briefly with HMS Transylvania on the 25th. Sheffields Engineer Officer went over to inspect the engines of the German ship.

The German ship finally sank on the 26th (or 27th) [sources differ, and there is no log available of HMS Transylvania.]

23 Oct 1939
The German merchant Bianca (1375 GRT) is intercepted and captured in the Denmark Strait in position 67°29'N, 22°15'W by the British armed merchant cruiser HMS Transylvania (Capt. F.N. Miles, OBE, RN).

21 Nov 1939
The German merchant Tenerife (4996 GRT) is intercepted of the south coast of Iceland in position 62°55'N, 20°00'W by the British armed merchant cruiser HMS Transylvania (Capt. F.N. Miles, OBE, RN). However before the German ship can be captured she is scuttled by her own crew.

28 Mar 1940
HMS Transylvania (Capt. F.N. Miles, OBE, RN) intercepts the German merchant Mimi Horn (4007 GRT) in the Denmark Strait. However before the German ship can be captured she is scuttled by her own crew.

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