Allied Warships

HMNZS Achilles (70)

Light cruiser of the Leander class

NavyThe Royal New Zealand Navy
TypeLight cruiser
Built byCammell Laird Shipyard (Birkenhead, U.K.) 
Ordered16 Feb 1931 
Laid down11 Jun 1931 
Launched1 Sep 1932 
Commissioned24 Mar 1936 
End service17 Sep 1946 

Served with the Home Fleet as HMS Achilles from commissioning on 10 October 1933 until she was transferred to the New Zealand division on 24 March 1936.

Decomissioned and returned to the Royal Navy on 17 September 1946. Sold to India on 5 July 1948 being renamed Delhi. Decommissioned by the Indian Navy on 30 June 1978.


Commands listed for HMNZS Achilles (70)

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1Capt. William Edward Parry, RN27 Jan 193915 Oct 1940
2Capt. Hugh Merriman Barnes, RN15 Oct 194016 Apr 1942
3Capt. Cecil Aubrey Lawson Mansergh, RN16 Apr 19424 Feb 1943
4A/Capt. William Gronow Davis, DSC, RN4 Feb 194319 May 1943
5A/Capt. Phillip Leonard Gunn, RN19 May 194310 Sep 1943
6Capt. (retired) Neville Brevoort Carey Brock, RN10 Sep 194315 Mar 1944
7Capt. Francis John Butler, RN15 Mar 19448 Mar 1946

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Notable events involving Achilles include:

13 Dec 1939
Battle of the River Plate.

The German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee intercepted what was thought to be a small convoy of merchant ships 150 miles off the River Plate estuary. The convoy turned out to be three British cruisers of Commodore Sir Henry Harwood's squadron. Consisting of the light cruisers HMS Ajax (flagship of Commodore Sir Henry Harwood, RN, Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, RN in command), HMNZS Achilles (Capt. W.E. Parry, RN) and the heavy cruiser HMS Exeter (Capt. F.S. Bell, RN). They initially identified the Graf Spee's smoke as a merchant ship and HMS Exeter was detached to take a message to her, but soon the mistake was realised. With the British squadron now split (as planned before the battle) action commenced at with the Admiral Graf Spee opening fire at 0615 hours. The subsequent battle saw the cruiser HMS Exeter badly damaged with all her guns put out of action but still seaworthy, she suffered 61 killed and 23 wounded and was forced to make for the Falkland Islands to carry out repairs. HMS Ajax and HMS Achilles were both damaged and suffered casualties, HMS Ajax 7 dead and wounded and HMS Achilles 4 dead. They both shadowed the Admiral Graf Spee into Uruguay territorial waters where she entered the port of Montevideo. The Admiral Graf Spee suffered 36 dead and 60 wounded, hit by seventeen 6 inch shells and two eight inch shells, with water purification and desalination plant destroyed and kitchens wrecked she was allowed just 72 hours to make good her the damage that threatened her seaworthiness she was unable to do so. On the 17th December she left Montevideo with a skeleton crew, anchored just outside the 3 mile limit and after the crew left her she was blown up and scuttled to prevent her falling into British hands. Her captain later shot himself.

5 Jan 1940
HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. B.C.S. Martin, RN) and HMS Shropshire (Capt. T. Bisset, RN) made rendez-vous in the Plate area with HMS Ajax (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN, flagship of Rear-Admiral Sir H. Harwood, KCB, OBE, RN) and HMNZS Achilles (Capt. W.E. Parry, CB, RN). HMNZS Achilles then took over as flagship of the South America division as HMS Ajax was to return to the U.K. to refit soon. (1)


  1. ADM 53/112031

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

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