Allied Warships

HMS Maloja (F 26)

Armed Merchant Cruiser

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeArmed Merchant Cruiser
Class[No specific class] 
PennantF 26 
Built byHarland & Wolff Ltd. (Belfast, Northern Island) 
Laid down 
Launched19 Apr 1923 
Commissioned24 Nov 1939 
End service6 Nov 1941 

On 11 September 1939 the passenger ship Maloja of the P. & O. Steam Navigation Co Ltd, London was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to an armed merchant cruiser. Conversion was completed on 24 November 1939.

Displacement: 20914 BRT
Armament: 8x 152mm, 2x 76mm
Speed: 17 knots

November 39 - May 40: Northern Patrol
June 40: Western Approaches Command
July 40 - October 40: Freetown Escort Force
November 40 - April 41: Bermuda and Halifax Escort Force
May 41 - October 41: North Atlantic Escort Force

On 6 November 1941 returned and used as troopship by the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT). On 15 January 1947 returned to owner.


Commands listed for HMS Maloja (F 26)

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) Clement Richard Dane, RN12 Sep 193929 Apr 1940
2A/Capt. (retired) Vernon Hammersley-Heenan, RN29 Apr 1940Nov 1941

You can help improve our commands section
Click here to Submit events/comments/updates for this vessel.
Please use this if you spot mistakes or want to improve this ships page.

Notable events involving Maloja include:

10 Dec 1939

Convoy K 6.

This convoy departed Bombay on 10 December 1939.

It was made up of the transports; Cap Tourane (French, 8009 GRT, built 1923), D'Artagnan (French, 15105 GRT, built 1925), Lancashire (British, 9557 GRT, built 1917), Rajula (British, 8478 GRT, built 1926), Rohna (British, 8602 GRT, built 1926), Tairea (British, 7934 GRT, built 1924) and Talamba (British, 8018 GRT, built 1924).

These ships were carrying Indian and French troops and mules.

On departure from Bombay the convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN) and the armed merchant cruisers HMS Ranchi (Capt.(Retd.) H.C. Legge, DSC, RN) and HMS Maloja (Capt.(Retd.) C.R. Dane, RN).

Cover for he convoy was proviced by the heavy cruisers HMS Kent (Capt. D. Young-Jamieson, RN) and Suffren (Capt. R.J.M. Dillard) which had departed Colombo on 9 December. They turned back at midnight during the night of 11/12 December 1939.

On 15 December 1939, on entering the Gulf of Aden the escorts parted company with the convoy which then proceeded unescorted to Suez where it arrived on 20 December.

After passing the Suez Canal the convoy departed Port Said on 21 December escorted by the destroyers HMAS Vampire (Lt.Cdr. J.A. Walsh, RAN) and HMAS Voyager (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Morrow, RAN).

The destroyers were relieved on 24 December by their sister ships HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Cant, RAN) and HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN).

The convoy arrived at Marseilles on 26 December.

13 Mar 1940
HMS Maloja (Capt. (retired) C.R. Dane, RN) intercepts the German merchant La Coruna (7359 GRT) south-east of Iceland in position 63°00'N, 10°20'W. However before the German ship can be captured she is scuttled by her own crew.

16 Jun 1940

Dakar, the French battleship Richelieu
and the fall of France
Timespan; 16 June to 7 July 1940.

The fall of France, 16 June 1940.

On 16 June 1940, less then six weeks after the invasion of France and the low countries had started on May 10th, all military resitance in France came to an end. The question of control of the French fleet had thus become, almost overnight, one of vital importance, for if it passed into the hands of the enemy the whole balance of sea power would be most seriously disturbed. It was therefore policy of H.M. Government to prevent, at all costs, the French warships based on British and French harbours overseas from falling into the hands of Germany.

The bulk of the French fleet was at this time based in the Mediterranean. There drastic steps were taken to implement this policy. Elsewhere the most important units were the two new battleships completing, the Jean Bart at St. Nazaire and more importantly as she was almost complete, the Richelieu, at Brest.

Events during the Franco-German negotiations 17-25 June 1940 and politics.

It was on the 17th of June 1940, when the newly-formed Pétain Cabinet asked the Germans to consider ‘honourable’ peace terms in order to stop the fighting in France. At 1516 (B.S.T.) hours that day the Admiralty issued orders that British ships were not to proceed to French ports. On receipt of these orders Vice-Admiral George D’Oyly Lyon, Commander-in-Chief South Atlantic, ordered the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes (Capt R.F.J. Onslow, DSC, MVO, RN) then on her way to Dakar after a patrol off the Canary Islands to proceed to Freetown instead at her best speed. At the same time he recalled the British SS Accra which had sailed from Freetown for Dakar at 1730 hours (zone +1) with 850 French troops on board. She returned to Freetown at 0800/18. The British transport City of Paris with 600 French troops on board from Cotonou was ordered to put into Takoradi. On the 18th the Commander-in-Chief was also informed by Commander Jermyn Rushbrooke, RN, the British Naval Liaison Officer at Dakar that the Commander-in-Chief of the French Navy, Admiral Darlan had ordered Admiral Plancon at Dakar to continue fighting and also that the shore batteries and AA personnel there had declared for the British. At 0245/18 Vice-Admiral Lyon passed this information to the Admiralty, cancelled his orders to HMS Hermes to proceed to Freetown and directed her with the armed merchant cruisers HMS Carnarvon Castle (Capt. M.J.C. de Meric, RN) and HMS Mooltan (Capt.(Retd.) G.E. Sutcliff, RN), which were on passage to Freetown from the Western Approaches, to proceed to Dakar at full speed in order to strengthen the French morale. That afternoon the Admiralty ordered HMS Delhi (Capt. A.S. Russell, RN) to leave Gibraltar and proceed to Dakar and join the South Atlantic Station. She left Gibraltar on the 19th with an arrival date of the 23rd. In the morning of the 18th the French troopship Banfora reached Freetown, from Port Bouet, Ivory Coast with 1000 troops on board, and sailed for Dakar without delay. The French armed merchant cruiser Charles Plumier, which had been on patrol south of the Cape Verde Islands reached Dakar at 1015/18.

Meanwhile the British Naval Liaison Officer, Dakar’s signal had been followed by a report from the Naval Control Service Officer at Duala that an overwhelming spirit existed amongst the military and civilian population of the French Cameroons to continue fighting on the British side, but that they required lead, as the Governer was not a forceful character; but that morning the Governor of Nigeria informed the Commander-in-Chief that he considered steps to be taken to prevent a hostile move from Fernando Po (off the entrance to the Cameroon River). Accordingly, at 1845/18, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Bulolo (A/Capt. C.H. Petrie, RN) sailed from Freetown at 14 knots to show herself off San Carlos on the morning of the 23rd, and thence to anchor of Manoka in the Cameroon River the next day (her draught prevented her from reaching Duala). A/Capt. Petrie was then to proceed to Duala and call a conference.

It was difficult to arrive at a clear appreciation of the situation in French West-Africa but on the morning of the 19th June the Commander-in-Chief informed the Admiralty that, as the evidence pointed to an established resolve on the part of the West-African Colonies to join Great Britain whatever happened, he intended to allow French troop movements to continue. This he anticipated would avoid French exasperation and mistrust. During the early afternoon he heard from the Governors of Nigeria and the Gold Coast that French officers and non-commissioned officers were planning to leave the Cameroons and to join the British forces in Nigeria. At 1900/19 the Commander-in-Chief held a conference with the Governor of Sierra Leone at which it was decided that the Governor should cable home urging immediate action to persuade the French colonial troops and authorities to remain in their territories and hold their colonies against all attacks. In the evening the Commander-in-Chief reported to the Admiralty that French Guinea was determined to keep fighting on the British side. Meanwhile the Governor-General of French Equatorial Africa at Brazzaville was wavering and suggested leading his troops to the nearest British Colony. Late that night, still on the 19th, the Commander-in-Chief informed him that it was essential that he should remain at his post and that it was the expressed intention of French West Africa to fight on to victory.

Next morning, on the 20th, the Admiralty informed the Commander-in-Chief that the new French battleship Richelieu (about 95% complete) had departed Brest for Dakar on the 18th. Her sister ship, Jean Bart (about 77% complete) had left St. Nazaire for Casablanca on the 19th. During the afternoon of the 20th the British Liaison Officer at Dakar reported that according to the French Admiral at Dakar the French Government had refused the German armistice terms and would continue the fight in France. This was entirely misleading. For nearly two days the Commander-in-Chief had no definite information till at noon on 22 June when a BB C broadcast announced the signing of a armistice between France and Germany, which was to followed by one between France and Italy. Still there was much uncertainty, and the rest of the day was apparently spent in waiting for news. Early next morning, the 23rd June, the Admiralty informed the Commander-in-Chief that the French Bordeaux Government had signed an armistice with Germany. As the terms were not fully known the attitude of the French Navy remained uncertain. Shortly after 0200/23 the Admiralty gave orders that HMS Hermes was to remain at Dakar, and gave the Commander-in-Chief the text of the British Government’s appeal to the French Empire and to Frenchmen overseas to continue the war on the British side. The final collapse of France naturally exercised an important influence on the dispositions and movements of the South Atlantic forces. Also on the 23rd the cruiser HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. B.C.S. Martin, RN) and the destroyer HMS Watchman (Lt.Cdr. E.C.L. Day, RN) departed Gibraltar for Dakar and Casablanca respectively, and the same morning HMS Bulolo arrived off Fernando Po and showed herself of San Carlos and Santa Isabel. At noon she anchored off Manoka, in the Cameroon River, in the hope of restoring morale at Duala. Meanwhile HMS Mooltan had arrived at Freetown from Dakar and the United Kingdom, and during the afternoon (1500/23) the armed merchant cruiser HMS Maloja (A/Capt. V. Hammersley-Heenan, RN) reached Dakar from the Northern Patrol to join the Freetown escort force. Half an hour later the Richelieu and escorting destroyer Fleuret arrived at Dakar.

For a time the attitude of the French Governor-General at Dakar, the French North African colonies and the French Mediterranean Fleet, and the battleship Richelieu remained in doubt. Then owning to the anticipated difficulty of maintaining French salaries and supplies if the French did not accept the British offer, the situation at Dakar rapidly deteriorated, and by the evening of the 23rd reached a critical state. Early on the 24th, therefore, the Admiralty ordered the Commander-in-Chief to proceed there as soon as possible. The Commander-in-Chief replied that he intended to proceed there in the ex-Australian seaplane carrier HMS Albatross (Cdr. W.G. Brittain, RN), which was the only available ship, and expected to reach Dakar around noon on the 25th. At 1015/24 he left Freetown and reached Dakar around 1600/25. Meanwhile the Richelieu had put to sea. From then on the naval operations centred mainly on the battleship.

The problem of the Richelieu, 25-26 June 1940.

The Richelieu which had been landing cadets at Dakar, had sailed with the Fleuret at 1315/25 for an unknown destination. She was shadowed by an aircraft from HMS Hermes until 1700 hours. She was reported to be steering 320° at 18 knots. At 1700 hours the Admiralty ordered HMS Dorsetshire to shadow her, and at 2200 hours HMS Dorsetshire reported herself as being in position 16°40’N, 18°35’W steering 225° at 25 knots, and that she expected to make contact with the Richelieu at midnight. At 2126 hours, the Admiralty ordered the Vice-Admiral aircraft carriers (Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN) in HMS Ark Royal (Capt. C.S. Holland, RN) to proceed with dispatch to the Canary Islands with HMS Hood (Capt. I.G. Glennie, RN) and five destroyers (actually only four sailed with them; HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN), HMS Fearless (Cdr. K.L. Harkness, RN), HMS Foxhound (Lt.Cdr. G.H. Peters, RN) and HMS Escapade (Cdr. H.R. Graham, RN)). They departed Gibraltar in the morning of the 26th.

Early on the 26th, the Admiralty informed the Commander-in-Chief, South Atlantic, and the Vice-Admiral, aircraft carriers, that His Majesty’s Government had decided that the Richelieu was to be captured and taken into a British port. They were to take every step to avoid bloodshed and to use no more force then was absolutely necessary. It was understood that the French battleship had H.A. ammunition on board but no main armament ammunition, that forenoon however, the British Liaison Officer Brest reported that she had embarked 15” ammunition before leaving there. HMS Hood was to perform this task if possible but that there were a risk that the Richelieu might get away before her arrival, or if she tried to enter a neutral port such as La Luz in the Canaries, HMS Dorsetshire was to take action. After the capture she was to be taken to Gibraltar. The battleship HMS Resolution (Capt. O. Bevir, RN), which was at Gibraltar, was detailed to intercept the Jean Bart in case she would depart Casablanca and deal with her in the same way.

Vice-Admiral Wells reported that HMS Ark Royal, HMS Hood and their escorting destroyers would pass through position 36°00’N, 06°35’W at 0300/26, steering 225° at 20 knots. HMS Dorsetshire, meanwhile, having seen nothing of the Richelieu by 0015/26, had proceeded to the northwestward, and then at 0230/26 turned to course 030°. At 0530/26 she catapulted her Walrus aircraft to search to the northward, and at 0730 hours it sighted the Richelieu in position 19°27’N, 18°52’W on course 010°, speed 18.5 knots. Eleven minutes later she altered course to 195°. The aircraft proceeded to shadow, but missed HMS Dorsetshire when it tried to return and in the end was forced to land on the sea at 0930 hours about 50 nautical miles to the southward of her. The Dorsetshire which had turned to 190° at 0905 hours was then in position 18°55’N, 17°52’W. She turned to search for her aircraft. Around noon she abandoned the search and steered 245° at 25 knots to intercept the Richelieu, which she correctly assumed to be continuing to the southward. She made contact soon after 1430 hours and at 1456 hours reported that she was shadowing the battleship from astern.

In the meantime the French Admiral at Dakar had informed Vice-Admiral Lyon that the ‘Admiral Afrique’ had ordered the Richelieu and the Fleuret to return to Dakar. At 1512 hours the Commander-in-Chief, South Atlantic asked the Admiralty whether, under these circumstances, HMS Dorsetshire was to attempt to capture the Richelieu. He was confident that any interference would antagonise all the local authorities and the French people in general. He also pointed out that His Majesty’s ships at Dakar would be placed in a most difficult position.

At 1630/26, HMS Dorsetshire, reported that she was in position 17°21’N, 18°22’W with the Richelieu within easy visual distance. Relations between the two ships remained cordial. The French ship had not trained her guns when she sighted the Dorsetshire, and she expressed regret that, having no aircraft embarked, she was unable to co-operate in the search for her missing Walrus aircraft but she signalled to Dakar for a French plane to assist. In view of her declared intention to return to Dakar, Capt. Martin took no steps to capture her and at 1700 hours he was ordered by the Admiralty to only shadow the Richelieu. At the same time HMS Hermes left Dakar to search for HMS Dorsetshire’s Walrus.

Shortly after 1900/26, the Admiralty ordered Ark Royal, HMS Hood and their four escorting destroyers to return to Gibraltar. At 2015 hours, the Admiralty ordered HMS Dorsetshire to cease shadowing the Richelieu and to search for her missing Walrus. On receipt of these orders she parted company with the Richelieu and Fleuret at 2300/26, being then some 70 nautical miles from Dakar. HMS Dorsetshire then proceeded to the north-north-eastward at 23 knots.

At first light on the 27th, HMS Hermes, then some 30 nautical miles to the southward, flew off seven aircraft to assist in the search. It was however HMS Dorsetshire herself which eventually found and recovered her aircraft at 1107/27. Meanwhile the Richelieu had arrived off Dakar at 0900/27 but did not enter the port. Shortly afterwards she made off the the north yet again. HMS Hermes then steered to the northward to be in a position to intercept if needed. Nothing was seen of the Richelieu until she was again located off Dakar at 0500/28. HMS Hermes, by that time about 400 nautical miles north of Dakar, was ordered to proceed southwards and return to Dakar.

The Commander-in-Chief, South Atlantic, at Dakar 26-29 June 1940.

While these movements were going on at sea, the position at Dakar was steadily deteriorating. At about 1830/26, the Commander-in-Chief had reported to the Admiralty that the French Admiral at Dakar had informed him, on Admiral Darlan’s instructions, that the presence of British warships at Dakar was in contrary to the terms of the Franco-German armistice. At 1700/26 (zone -1) however, the Admiralty had signalled to the Commander-in-Chief that, as the French codes were compromised, that French authorities could no longer be sure that orders came from Admiral Darlan but Admiral Plancon refused to question the authenticity of any signal he received. During the night the appointment of the British Liaison Officer at Dakar was terminated.

At 0500/27 the Richelieu was seen approaching Dakar, but 25 minutes later she turned to seaward again and the Commander-in-Chief ordered a Walrus aircraft from HMS Albatros to shadow her. That afternoon he informed the Admiralty that the Richelieu had put to sea to escort five French armed merchant cruisers [according to another source these were the armed merchant cruisers (four in number and not five) El D’Jezair, El Kantara, El Mansour, Ville d’Oran and the large destroyers Milan and Epervier which came from Brest] to Dakar. The Admiralty was clearly anxious that the Richelieu should not escape and at 0021/28, they ordered Vice-Admiral Wells with HMS Ark Royal, HMS Hood escorted by four destroyers (HMS Faulknor, HMS Fearless, HMS Foxhound and HMS Vidette (Cdr.(Retd.) D.R. Brocklebank, RN) to proceed to the Canaries to intercept her if she continued to steam to the northward. These ships (with HMS Escapade instead of HMS Vidette) had only returned to Gibraltar late the previous evening from their first sortie to intercept the Richelieu. Now they left again around 0600/28 but were quickly ordered to return to Gibraltar and were back in port around noon.

Around 0500/28 HMS Dorsetshire, proceeding back towards Dakar after having picked up her lost aircraft encountered the Richelieu about 10 nautical miles north of Dakar. Admiral Wells was then ordered by the Admiralty to return to Gibraltar. The rapid deterioration of the situation in West Africa is clearly shown in a series of signals which passed between the Commander-in-Chief South Atlantic and the Admiralty on 28 June. At 1100 hours, the Commander-in-Chief signalled that the French had refused HMS Dorsetshire permission to enter Dakar and that she was therefore proceeding to Freetown with all dispatch to fuel and return to the Dakar area as soon as possible. HMS Dorsetshire arrived at Freetown at 0545/29. At 1415/28 the Commander-in-Chief informed the Admiralty that the French Admiral at Dakar had issued orders to prevent H.M. ships from communicating with, or receiving stores, from the shore. In reply he had told the French Admiral that HMS Hermes would enter Dakar on the 29th to embark aircraft stores and fuel, and that he himself would sail from there in HMS Albatros after seeing the commanding officer of HMS Hermes. At 1515/28 the Commander-in-Chief informed the Admiralty of the steps he would take in case the Richelieu would proceed to sea again. The Admiralty then issued orders that Dakar was to be watched by an 8” cruiser within sight of the French port by dayand within three miles by night. HMS Hermes was to remain off Dakar until relieved by HMS Dorsetshire after this ship had returned from fueling at Freetown.

HMS Hermes arrived at Dakar at 0900/29. During the day she embarked Fleet Air Arm personnel and stores which had been landed there earlier. She then completed with fuel and sailed at 1800/29. She then patrolled off Dakar until she was relieved by HMS Dorsetshire at 1800/30. The Commander-in-Chief had sailed from Dakar in HMS Albatros at 1030/29. He arrived at Freetown at 1800/30 and transferred his flag to the accommodation ship Edinburgh Castle.

Deterioration of Franco-British relations, 1 – 3 July 1940.

The first few days of July saw a swift deterioration of Franco-British relations everywhere. The paramount importance of keeping the French fleet out of the hands of the enemy forced the British Government to take steps. According to the armistice terms the French fleet had to assemble at ports under German or Italian control and be demilitarized. To the Government it was clear that this would mean that the French ships would be brought into action against us. The Government therefore decided to offer the French naval commanders the following options; - to continue the fight against the Axis, to completely immobilization in certain ports or to demilitarize or sink their ships.

Already a powerful squadron, known as ‘Force H’ had been assembled at Gibraltar, in order to fill the strategic naval vacuum in the Western Mediterranean caused by the defection of the French fleet, and on 30 June Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville hoisted his flag in HMS Hood. His first task was to present the British alternatives to the Admiral commanding the French ships at Oran, failing the acceptance of one of them, he was to use force.

To return to West-Africa, HMS Hermes reached Freetown with the Fleet Air Arm passengers and stores from Dakar on 2 July. Early that afternoon the Commander-in-Chief asked the Consul General at Dakar to obtain, if possible, assurance from the French Admiral there that if British warships were not allowed to use Dakar, enemy men-of-war should also be forbidden to use it. At 1915/2, the ex-British Liaison Officer, who had not yet left Dakar, reported the arrival of a British merchant ship which had not been diverted. He also reported that the French ships Katiola and Potiers might be sailing for Casablanca, escorted by armed merchant cruisers and destroyers. The Admiralty however ordered HMS Dorsetshire, which was maintaining the watch on Dakar, to take no action. At 2310/2 the Commander-in-Chief asked the Consul-General whether there was any chance of the Polish and Belgian bullion which was in the armed merchant cruiser Victor Schoelcher being transferred to either the Katiola or Potiers. He received no reply, and the continued silence of the British Consul led him to believe that the Consul’s signals were either being held up or mutilated.

Next forenoon, 3 July, the Commander-in-Chief informed the Admiralty that he intended to divert all British shipping in the South Atlantic from all French ports. Early that morning Vice-Admiral Somerville’s Force H had arrived off Oran. For the next ten hours strenuous efforts were made to persuade the French Admiral to accept one of the British alternatives, but without success. At 1554 hours (zone -1) Force H sadly opened fire on the ships of their former ally at Mers-el-Kebir, inflicting heavy damage and grievous loss of life. None could predict the result of these measures on the Franco-British relations, but it was sure they would not be improved.

During the afternoon of July 3rd the Commander-in-Chief, South Atlantic, on Admiralty instructions, directed all British Naval Control Officers and Consular Shipping Advisers to order all Biritsh and Allied ships to leave French ports as soon as possible, if necessary disregarding French instructions. All British warships in French ports were to remain at short notice and to prepared for every eventuality. The only warship in a French port within the limits of the South Atlantic Station at the time was HMS Bulolo, which was at Manoka in the Cameroons. At 2048 hours (B.S.T.) the Admiralty ordered all British warships in French ports to proceed to sea and at 2223 hours the Commander-in-Chief, South Atlantic ordered HMS Bulolo to proceed to Lagos, where she was to remain with HMS Dragon (Capt. R.G. Bowes-Lyon, MVO, RN) until further orders.

HMS Dorsetshire off Dakar, 3-7 July 1940.

Meanwhile HMS Dorsetshire had continued her watch off Dakar. On 3 July 1940 there were sixteen French warships and seven auxiliaries in the harbour. This number included the battleship Richelieu, the large destroyers Fleuret, Milan, Epervier, the armed merchant cruisers El D’Jezair, El Kantara, El Mansour, Ville d’Oran, Ville d’Alger, Victor Schoelcher and Charles Plumier, the colonial sloop Bougainville, the submarines Le Heros and Le Glorieux. At 0917/3 the Admiralty asked the Commander-in-Chief for the Richelieu’s berth at Dakar. HMS Dorsetshire informed him that at 1125/3 she was in position 045°, Cape Manuel lighthouse, 2.6 nautical miles, ships head 230°. Captain Martin seems to have drawn his own conclusions from this question and at 1350 hours he signalled to the the Commander-in-Chief his opinion that the Richelieu’s propellers could be severely damaged by depth charges dropped from a fast motor dinghy, and he asked permission to carry out such an attack about 2300 hours that night. Vice-Admiral Lyon replied that he had no instructions from the Admiralty to take offensive action against the Richelieu. At 1625 hours, however, the Admiralty ordered HMS Dorsetshire to get ready, but to await approval before actually carrying out an attack. This was followed at 1745 hours by a signal that the proposed attack was not approved as it was feared to be ineffective and for the time being the idea was ‘shelved’. [More on this idea later on.]

At 1904/3, the Admiralty ordered HMS Hermes to leave Freetown with all despatch to join HMS Dorsetshire off Dakar at 0500/5. At 2112/3 the Admiralty ordered HMS Dorsetshire to shadow the Richelieu if she sailed and proceeded northwards. If the vessel however made for the French West Indies, the Dorsetshire was to make every effort to destroy her by torpedo attack, and, if that failed, by ramming [ !!! ]. Late that evening the French Government decreed that all British ships and aircraft were forbidden, under penalty of being fired upon without warning, to approach within 20 nautical miles of French territory at home or overseas. Just before midnight the Admiralty gave orders that HMAS Australia (Capt. R.R. Stewart, RN), after refueling at Freetown, was to join HMS Dorsetshire off Dakar. At 0926/4, the Commander-in-Chief, South Atlantic ordered HMS Hermes and HMAS Australia to rendez-vous with HMS Dorsetshire 21 nautical miles from Dakar instead of the 15 nautical miles previously arranged and at 1037 hours he informed all three ships that as the French Air Force and submarines had orders to attack British ships off Casablanca and Dakar. He therefore issued orders that French aircraft and submarines were to be attacked and destroyed on sight. During that afternoon the Prime Minister announced in the House of Commons that, as an alternative to the German demands, French warships might proceed to the West Indies. At 2041 hours the Commander-in-Chief, South Atlantic asked whether, in view of this, the Admiralty intended that the Richelieu should be attacked if she was to proceed to the West Indies. Before this message was received, a signal was sent at 2050 hours cancelling the orders for the Richelieu’s destruction and at about midnight the Admiralty directed that she should be shadowed only.

Early on the 5th the Consul-General at Dakar reported that the merchant vessel Argyll with Commander J. Rushbrooke, RN, the ex-British Naval Liaison Officer, Dakar and his staff onboard, had, in accordance with instructions from the French authorities left Dakar the previous day but that she was recalled on reaching the outer boom, an order which had led the Consul-General to make a protest. Soon after midnight 4/5 July orders were received from the Admiralty that the sloop HMS Milford (Capt. R.J. Shaw, MBE, RN) should be sent to join the patrol off Dakar to provide A/S protection. She left Freetown for Dakar at 1000/5.

At 0723/5, in view of the French order forbidding the approach of British vessels and aircraft within 20 nautical miles from French territory at home and overseas, the Commander-in-Chief ordered his ships off Dakar not to approach within 20 nautical miles of the shore and replied in the affirmative when HMS Dorsetshire asked whether this rule also applied by night. During the afternoon he informed his command that French warships was orders not to attack the British unless they were within these 20 nautical miles. He later added that also submarines had the same orders.

At 1853/5, the Commander-in-Chief ordered HMS Dorsetshire, HMAS Australia, HMS Hermes and HMS Milford not to attack French submarines outside the 20 mile zone unless they were obviously hostile. An Admiralty report then came in the the Richelieu was reported to have put to sea but HMS Dorsetshire quickly contradicted that report.

Dispositions off Dakar at 0300 on 7 July 1940.

At 0300/7, two of the British warships off Dakar which were under the command of Capt. Martin (being the senior officer) were patrolling of Dakar (HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Hermes). The third ship (HMAS Australia) was patrolling about 35 to 40 nautical miles further to the north. The fourth ship HMS Milford was approaching Dakar from the south. At 0307 hours a signal from the Admiralty was received which gave a completely different complexion to their operations.

More on this in the event for 7 July 1940,
The attack on the Richelieu.
This event can be found on the pages of the ships involved; HMS Hermes, HMS Dorsetshire, HMAS Australia and HMS Milford. (1)

24 Jul 1940

Convoy RS 5.

This convoy departed Liverpool on 24 July 1940 for Suez.

It was made up of the troopship Reina del Pacifico (17702 GRT, built 1931) and the transport Clan Ferguson (7347 GRT, built 1938).

On departure from Liverpool the convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St.J. Morgan, RN) and HMS Hotspur (Cdr. H.F.H Layman, DSO, RN).

Also on the 24th the aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. H.C. Bovell, RN), armed merchant cruiser HMS Maloja (A/Capt. V. Hammersley-Heenan, RN) and the destroyers HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.R. Marshall A'Deane, DSC, RN) and HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN) departed Greenock. They made rendezvous with the ships coming from Liverpool around 0600A/25.

At 1000A/26, HMS Argus and the destroyers parted company to proceed direct to Gibraltar. They arrived at Gibraltar around 0700A/30.

The convoy, escorted by HMS Maloja, continued on towards Freetown where it arrived on 4 August 1940.


The then convoy departed Freetown on 5 August 1940 for Capetown.

On departure from Freetown the convoy was now escorted by the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes (Capt. R.F.J. Onslow, DSC, MVO, RN).

Around 1200Z/11, the light cruiser HMS Dragon (Capt. R.G. Bowes-Lyon, MVO, RN) joined the convoy. HMS Hermes then parted company to proceed independently on patrol and then on to Simonstown.

The convoy arrived at Capetown on 15 August 1940.


The convoy, still in the same composition and still escorted by HMS Dragon departed Capetown for Durban on 16 August 1940.

The convoy arrived at Durban on 19 August 1940.


The convoy departed Durban for Aden on 21 August 1940 now escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Carthage (Capt.(Retd.) B.O. Bell-Salter, RN).

Around 1500C/30, the destroyer HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN) joined.

The convoy arrived at Aden in the morning of 31 August 1940.


The convoy departed Aden for Suez on 31 August 1940 now escorted by the light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN) and the destroyer HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN). The armed boarding vessel HMS Chakdina (Lt.Cdr. W.R. Hickey, RNR) was also with the convoy for a while.

At 1830C/2, the Reina del Pacifico parted company with the convoy to proceed ahead to Suez where she arrived on 4 September 1940.

At 1920C/2, HMS Kandahar parted company with the convoy to proceed to Port Sudan to fuel.

At 0910C/3, the sloop HMS Grimsby (Cdr. K.J. D'Arcy, RN) took over the escort of the Clan Ferguson from HMAS Hobart which in turn took over HMS Grimsby's southbound convoy.

HMS Grimsby and the Clan Ferguson arrived at Suez on 5 September 1940. (2)

1 Dec 1940

Convoy BHX 93

This convoy departed Bermuda on 1 December 1940 and merged at sea with convoy HX 103 on 7 December 1940.

Convoy BHX 93 was made up of the following merchant vessels: Adula (British (tanker), 8040 GRT, built 1937), Benedick (British (tanker), 6978 GRT, built 1928), Derrymore (British, 4799 GRT, built 1938), Donacilla (British (tanker), 8113 GRT, built 1939), Dunkeld (British, 4944 GRT, built 1937), Elona (British (tanker), 6192 GRT, built 1937), La Paz (British, 6548 GRT, built 1920), Logician (British, 5993 GRT, built 1928), Lulworth Hill (British, 7628 GRT, built 1940), Lunula (British (tanker), 6363 GRT, built 1927), Queen Victoria (British, 4937 GRT, built 1936), Titus (Dutch, 1712 GRT, built 1930), Tosari (Dutch, 7029 GRT, built 1919), Traveller (British, 3963 GRT, built 1922) and Tuscan Star (British, 11449 GRT, built 1930).

The convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Maloja (A/Capt. V. Hammersley-Heenan, RN).

The convoy merged with convoy HX 93 on 7 December 1940. HMS Maloja then parted company.

9 Feb 1941

Convoy HX 108.

This convoy departed Halifax on 9 February 1941 and arrived in UK waters on 27 February 1941.

On departure from Halifax the convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Bonde (Norwegian, 1570 GRT, built 1936), Brant County (Norwegian, 5001 GRT, built 1915), Dalemore (British, 5835 GRT, built 1922), Dalmore (British, 5193 GRT, built 1927), Danae II (British, 2660 GRT, built 1936), Empire Bronze (British, 8142 GRT, built 1940), Empire Eland (British, 5613 GRT, built 1920), Empire Hawk (British, 5032 GRT, built 1919), Empire Simba (British, 5691 GRT, built 1919), Forest (British, 4998 GRT, built 1937), G.S. Walden (British (tanker), 10627 GRT, built 1935), Gitano (British, 3956 GRT, built 1921), Holmpark (British, 5780 GRT, built 1927), James J. Maguire (British (tanker), 10525 GRT, built 1939), Lechistan (Polish, 1937 GRT, built 1929), Llanover (British, 4959 GRT, built 1928), Loch Don (British, 5249 GRT, built 1937), Manchester Exporter (British, 5277 GRT, built 1918), Markhor (British, 7917 GRT, built 1929), Mount Taurus (Greek, 6696 GRT, built 1920), Nicolaou Virginia (Greek, 6869 GRT, built 1920), Queen Maud (British, 4976 GRT, built 1936), Redgate (British, 4323 GRT, built 1929), Rookley (British, 4998 GRT, built 1940), Saint Bertrand (British, 5522 GRT, built 1929), San Gerardo (British (tanker), 12915 GRT, built 1929), Silverelm (British, 4351 GRT, built 1924), Standella (British (tanker), 6197 GRT, built 1936) and Willemsplein (Dutch, 5489 GRT, built 1910).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Maloja (A/Capt. V. Hammersley-Heenan, RN) and corvettes HMCS Mayflower (A/Lt.Cdr. G.H. Stephen, RCNR) and HMCS Snowberry (T/Lt. R.S. Kelley, RCNR).

Both Canadian corvettes were not to return to Halifax but were to proceed to the UK to complete fitting out there and then work up at Tobermory.

On 12 February 1941 the convoy was joined by the ships from convoy BHX 108 which had departed Bermuda on 7 February. These were the following merchant vessels; Adula (British (tanker), 8040 GRT, built 1937), Aircrest (British, 5237 GRT, built 1940), Bianca (Norwegian (tanker), 5688 GRT, built 1926), British Progress (British (tanker), 4581 GRT, built 1927), Cape Clear (British, 5085 GRT, built 1939), Comedian (British, 5122 GRT, built 1929), Director (British, 5107 GRT, built 1926), Donacilla (British (tanker), 8113 GRT, built 1939), Emma Bakke (Norwegian, 4721 GRT, built 1929), Leikanger (Norwegian, 4003 GRT, built 1923), Losada (British, 6520 GRT, built 1921), Luminetta (British (tanker), 6159 GRT, built 1927), Misoa (British (tanker), 4800 GRT, built 1937), Putney Hill (British, 5215 GRT, built 1940), Queen Maud (British, 4976 GRT, built 1936), Rapana (British (tanker), 8017 GRT, built 1935), Saintonge (British (tanker), 9386 GRT, built 1936), San Casimiro (British (tanker), 8046 GRT, built 1936), Sepia (British (tanker), 6214 GRT, built 1936), Twickenham (British, 4762 GRT, built 1940) and Yngaren (British, 5246 GRT, built 1921). These ships had been escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Aurania (A/Capt. I.W. Whitehorn, RN) which parted company when the convoys merged.

Two of the merchant vessels, the Bonde and Dalemore, apparently returned to Halifax.

Around 1730Q/18, the battleship HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN) joined the convoy.

Around 1500Q/19, HMS Maloja parted company with the convoy.

At 1410Z/20, HMS Rodney parted company with the convoy.

On the 24th, the destroyers HMS Wanderer (Cdr. A.F.St.G. Orpen, RN), HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN), HMS Montgomery (Cdr.(Retd.) H.F. Nash, RN) and the auxiliary A/S trawler HMS York City (Skr. W. Tucker, RNR). joined the convoy. Corvette HMS Periwinkle (Lt.Cdr. P.G. MacIver, RNR) joined on the 25th but was detached the following day.

The convoy arrived in UK waters on the 27th.

8 Jun 1941

Convoy BHX 132.

This convoy departed Bermuda on 8 June 1941 and joined convoy HX 132 at sea on 13 June 1941.

On departure from Bermuda the convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Belinda (Norwegian (tanker), 8325 GRT, built 1939), Cape Hawke (British, 5081 GRT, built 1941), Cistula (British (tanker), 8097 GRT, built 1939), Corilla (Dutch (tanker), 8096 GRT, built 1939), Cortona (British, 7093 GRT, built 1921), Eclipse (British (tanker), 9767 GRT, built 1931), Eknaren (Swedish, 5243 GRT, built 1922), El Mirlo (British (tanker), 8092 GRT, built 1930), Elona (British (tanker), 6192 GRT, built 1936), Hopemount (British (tanker), 7434 GRT, built 1929), Merchant (British, 4615 GRT, built 1934), Oilreliance (British (tanker), 5666 GRT, built 1929), Otina (British (tanker), 6217 GRT, built 1938) and Vimeira (British, 5728 GRT, built 1927).

On departure from Bermuda the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Maloja (A/Capt. V. Hammersley-Heenan, RN).

The convoy merged with convoy HX 132 on 13 June 1941. HMS Maloja then parted company.

10 Jun 1941

Convoy HX 132.

This convoy departed Halifax on 10 June 1941.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Ashby (British, 4868 GRT, built 1927), Avra (Greek, 4652 GRT, built 1912), Bayano (British, 6815 GRT, built 1917), Belita (British (tanker), 6323 GRT, built 1933), British Industry (British (tanker), 4297 GRT, built 1927), Circe Shell (British (tanker), 8207 GRT, built 1931), Dalfram (British, 4558 GRT, built 1930), Daphnella (British (tanker), 8078 GRT, built 1938), Duke of Sparta (British, 5397 GRT, built 1940), Empire Falcon (British, 4970 GRT, built 1918), James Hawson (British (tanker), 6074 GRT, built 1930), Lekhaven (Dutch, 4802 GRT, built 1921), Marchant Prince (British, 5229 GRT, built 1939), Ornefjell (Norwegian (tanker), 1334 GRT, built 1937), Sama (Norwegian, 1799 GRT, built 1937), San Ernesto (British (tanker), 8078 GRT, built 1939), Schuylkill (British (tanker), 8965 GRT, built 1928), Strategist (British, 6255 GRT, built 1937), Tore Jarl (Norwegian, 1514 GRT, built 1920) and Trekieve (British, 5244 GRT, built 1919).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the destroyer HMCS Annapolis (A/Lt.Cdr. F.C. Smith, RCNR).

The battleships HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) also departed Halifax late on the 10th and joined the convoy at sea early on the 11th after which HMCS Annapolis parted company to return to Halifax.

On the morning of 13 June 1941, Convoy BHX 132 joined, which had departed Bermuda on 8 June 1941 and was made up of the following merchant vessels; Belinda (British (tanker), 8325 GRT, built 1939), Cape Hawke (British, 5081 GRT, built 1941), Cistula (British (tanker), 8097 GRT, built 1939), Corilla (Dutch (tanker), 8096 GRT, built 1939), Cortona (British, 7093 GRT, built 1921), Eclipse (British (tanker), 9767 GRT, built 1931), Eknaren (Swedish, 5243 GRT, built 1922), El Mirlo (British (tanker), 8092 GRT, built 1930), Elona (British (tanker), 6192 GRT, built 1936), Hopemount (British (tanker), 7434 GRT, built 1929), Merchant (British, 4615 GRT, built 1934), Oilreliance (British (tanker), 5666 GRT, built 1929), Otina (British (tanker), 6217 GRT, built 1938) and Vimeira (British, 5728 GRT, built 1927).

They had been escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Maloja (A/Capt. V. Hammersley-Heenan, RN) which then parted company.

Around 0800O/16, the convoy was joined by the destroyers HMCS Saguenay (Lt. P.E. Haddon, RCN), HMCS Columbia (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) S.W. Davis, RN), Niagara (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) E.L. Armstrong, RCN), HMS Ramsey (Lt.Cdr. R.B. Stannard, VC, RNR), HMS Richmond (Lt.Cdr. A.F.L. Evans, RN) and the corvettes HMS Candytuft (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) F.B. Collinson, RD, RNR) and HMCS Cobalt ( T/Lt. C.J. Angus, RCNR).

Around 1530O/16, the destroyer HMCS Restigouche (Cdr. H.N. Lay, RCN) also joined. she had first directed convoy SC 34 towards convoy HX 132.

Around 2100O/16, Convoy SC 34 and it's escort, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Ranpura (A/Capt.(Retd.) H.T.W. Pawsey, OBE, RN), took station astern of convoy HX 132.

Around 1200O/18, HMCS Restigouche and HMCS Columbia parted company with the convoy.

Around 2000O/18, HMS Revenge parted company with the convoy to join westbound convoy OB 334.

HMS Ranpura, HMCS Saguenay, HMS Ramsay, HMS Richmond, HMS Candytuft and HMCS Cobalt parted company with the combined convoy around 1020Z/23 to proceed to Reykjavik.

Other A/S vessels had joined by that time but sources vary on their composition and the time they were with the convoy.

The relief A/S escorts most likely involved in escorting HX 132 and / or SC 34 were; destroyers HMS Broke (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, RN), HMS Venomous (Cdr. H.P. Henderson, RN), HMS Sabre (Lt. P.W. Gretton, DSC, RN), HMS Saladin (Lt.Cdr. L.J. Dover, RN), HMS Shikari (Lt.Cdr. H.N.A. Richardson, RN), HMS Lincoln (Lt. R.J. Hanson, RN), corvettes HMS Abelia (T/Lt. F. Ardern, RNR), HMS Alisma (A/Lt.Cdr. M.G. Rose, RANVR), HMS Anemone (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Boys-Smith, DSO, RNR), HMS Sunflower (Lt.Cdr. J.T. Jones, RNR), HMS Veronica (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) D.F. White, RNR), mineweeepers HMS Gossamer (Lt.Cdr. A.D.H. Jay, RN), HMS Hazard (Lt.Cdr. J.R.A. Seymour, RN), HMS Hebe (Lt.Cdr. J.B.G. Temple, DSC, RN), HMS Hussar ( Lt.Cdr. D.H.P. Gardiner, RN), A/S trawlers HMS St. Elstan (T/Lt. G. Butcher, RNVR), HMS St. Kenan (T/Lt. R.R. Simpson, RNR) and HMS St. Zeno (T/Lt. J.K. Craig, RNVR). The catapult ship Pegasus apparently also joined the convoys.

[This will have to be further researched in the future.]

The convoys at a certain point apparently separated again. Convoy HX 132 arrived in U.K. waters on 28 June 1941. Convoy SC 34 arrived in U.K. waters on 29 June 1941.


  1. ADM 234/318
  2. ADM 53/111423 + ADM 53/112051 + ADM 53/112436 + ADM 199/381 + Report of proceedings of HMAS Hobart for August and September 1941

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

Return to the Allied Warships section