Allied Warships

HMS Ranchi (F 15)

Armed Merchant Cruiser

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeArmed Merchant Cruiser
Class[No specific class] 
PennantF 15 
Built byHawthorn Leslie & Co. (Hebburn-on-Tyne, U.K.) 
Ordered 
Laid down 
Launched24 Jan 1925 
Commissioned23 Oct 1939 
End service16 Mar 1943 
History

On 27 August 1939 the passenger ship Ranchi 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 23 October 1939.

Displacement: 16738 BRT
Armament: 8x 152mm, 2x 76mm
Speed: 17 knots

Career:
October 39 - February 42: East Indies Station
March 42 - January 43: Eastern Fleet (Indian Ocean)

On 16 March 1943 returned and used as troopship by the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT). On 18 July 1947 returned to owner.

 

Commands listed for HMS Ranchi (F 15)

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CommanderFromTo
1Capt. (retired) Heneage Cecil Legge, DSC, RN30 Aug 193912 Jun 1941
2Capt. (retired) Sir John Meynell Alleyne, DSO, DSC, RN12 Jun 1941

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Notable events involving Ranchi include:


23 Jan 1942

Convoy BM 12.

Convoy from Bombay to Singapore.
Departure date: 23 January 1942.
Arrival date: 4 February 1942.

This convoy was made up of the following ships;
British troop ships; Devonshire (11275 GRT, built 1939), Empress of Asia (16909 GRT, built 1913).

French troop ship (under British control) Felix Roussel (17083 GRT, built 1930)

and the Dutch transport Plancius (5955 GRT, built 1923).

The convoy initially proceeded unescorted.

On 26 January, the British sloop HMS Falmouth (Cdr. U.H.R. James, RN) joined the convoy in position 07°53'N, 76°23'E.

On 27 January, the British light cruiser HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN) joined the convoy in position 04°30'N, 78°15'E. HMS Falmouth parted company with the convoy at dusk.

On 28 January, the convoy made rendez-vous with convoy DM 2 which was made up of the following ships;
British troopships Dunera (11162 GRT, built 1937), Empress of Australia (21833 GRT, built 1914) and Warwick Castle (20107 GRT, built 1930) and the British transports City of Canterbury (8331 GRT, built 1922), City of Pretoria (8049 GRT, built 1937), Malancha (8124 GRT, built 1937) and Troilus (7422 GRT, built 1921). This convoy was escorted by the British armed merchant cruiser HMS Ranchi (Capt.(Retd.) Sir J.M. Alleyne, DSO, DSC, RN) which then parted company.

On 31 January, the British light cruiser HMS Danae (Capt. F.J. Butler, MBE, RN) and the Dutch light cruiser HrMs Java (Capt. P.B.M van Straelen, RNN) joined the convoy in position 05°05'S, 94°00'E after which HMS Emerald parted company with the convoy.

On 1 February, the Indian sloop HMIS Sutlej (Capt. P.A. Mare, RIN) and the Australian sloop HMAS Yarra (Cdr. W.H. Harrington, RAN) joined the convoy.

On 2 February, the British heavy cruiser HMS Exeter (Capt. O.L. Gordon, MVO, RN) joined around 0800 hours and a little over two hours later the British destroyer HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN) and the Australian destroyer HMAS Vampire (Cdr. W.T.A. Moran, RAN) also joined the convoy.

On the morning of 3 February the British destroyer HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN) joined. Later the same day HMAS Vampire split off from the convoy with the part of the convoy that was to proceed to Batavia. These were all the ships that had been in convoy DM 2 except the City of Canterbury which went to Singapore.

Around 0200 hours on 4 February 1942, HrMs Java parted company with the convoy. Shortly before noon the convoy was attacked by Japanese aircraft and the Empress of Asia was straddled. Around 2130/4, HMS Exeter, HMS Jupiter and HMS Encounter parted company to intercept Japanese warships that were reported to the north of Banka Strait. HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, CBE, RAN) was ordered to join them there. They did not find any Japanese ships and proceeded to Batavia where they arrived on 6 February.

The convoy arrived at Singapore shortly after noon on 5 February 1942 but not before a heavy enemy air attack was carried out. The Empress of Asia was set on fire, the Felix Roussel was also hit and the City of Canterbury had her steering gear damaged. (1)

Sources

  1. ADM 199/426 + ADM 199/1185

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


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