Allied Warships

HMS Dido (37)

Light cruiser of the Dido class

HMS Dido as completed

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeLight cruiser
Built byCammell Laird Shipyard (Birkenhead, U.K.) 
Ordered20 Mar 1937 
Laid down26 Oct 1937 
Launched18 Jul 1939 
Commissioned30 Sep 1940 
End service 

After working up was completed early November 1940, Dido became a member of the 15th cruiser squadron, deployed in blockading the approaches to the Bay of Biscay.

In April 1941, Dido was transferred to the Mediterranean, to reinforce the Fleet based at Alexandria. During May she was involved in the escorting of convoys from Alexandria to Malta, on the 29th of that month, Dido in company with the cruiser HMS Orion were both badly damaged after being bombed by the Germans after embarking troops from Sphakia and Heraklian in Crete. In June, she was a member of Rear Admiral Halifax`s Force who was Senior Officer Red Sea Force tasked in the capturing of the port of Assab, his Fleet consisted of a transport ship, an armed merchant cruiser, and two Indian sloops. On the 11th in the morning whilst still under cover of darkness two motor boats each carrying 30 men of the Punjab Regiment went into the harbour under an umbrella of air bombardment, and the broadside from Dido. The troops landed without a shot being fired at them, in fact two Italian Generals were captured in their pyjamas, by 0600 the Task Force entered Assab, this was the last Italian occupied harbour in the Red Sea. In July, the cruiser entered the Simonstown dockyard in South Africa for repairs, and was docked in the Selborne dry dock. After this she retired to Durban for more extensive repairs. On 15 August 1941 she set sail for the USA , and was refitted at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. By December, the cruiser was back in the Mediterranean, where she was involved in escorting convoys from Alexandria to Malta.

During January-February 1942, Dido was escorting, and also used as a covering force for the Malta bound convoys. In March, Dido and her sister HMS Euryalus and six destroyers shelled the Island of Rhodes, on the 20th, Dido was employed as convoy escort to the commissioned auxiliary supply ship HMS Breconshire loaded with 5,000 tons of precious fuel, the Clan Campbell, the bomb damaged ship of the previous convoy, the Pampas and the Norwegian ship Talabot, fully loaded with ammunition. Getting this convoy through to Malta was afterwards referred to as the second battle of Sirte. Admiral Vian was in command of the operation. Of the total of 26,000 tons of stores carried by the four ships only 5,000 tons finally reached Malta. The price paid for delivering much needed stores was indeed heavy. On 19 July, Dido along with her sister ship HMS Euryalus and the destroyers HMS Jervis, HMS Javelin, HMS Pakenham and HMS Paladin shelled Mersa Matruh. On 19 September, HMS Dido and once again the destroyers destroyers HMS Jervis, HMS Javelin, HMS Pakenham and HMS Paladin bombard the Daba area in Egypt. In November, HMS Dido, HMS Arethusa, HMS Euryalus and ten destroyers, proceeded from Alexandria to Malta with a supply convoy, despite many heavy German air attacks, the convoy of four supply ships reached Malta. With this the Island was regarded as relieved.

In April 1943, Dido was based at Algiers but she left later for the U.K. for a much needed refit. In July she was back in the Mediterranean where she was part of the Reserve Covering Force for the Allied landings in Sicily. During August she carried out the shelling of bridges in the Gulf of Eufemia in Calabria, in support of the 8th Army in Sicily. In September she was involved in the landing of the 1st British Airborne Division in Taranto.

During January-March 1944, Dido was tasked in providing the support for the troops being landed at Anzio. During May-June, she bombarded targets in the Gulf of Gaeta, in support of the army. In August, she supplied the fire support to the Allied landings on the French Mediterranean coast, between Cannes and Toulon. In October, she was sent up to the Arctic Ocean area to escort the convoys to Russia. During November, off Norway, Dido provided carrier escort for HMS Implacable which attacked a southbound German convoy in the Mosjoen area, north of the island of Namsos. In May 1945 Europe, Dido set sail for Copenhagen, where the German cruisers Prinz Eugen and Nurnberg lay surrendered, she escorted them to Willelmshaven.

During March-August 1946, Dido retained her fifth 5,25 inch turret in Q position while undergoing her refit. Although modern, this class of cruiser was regarded as being too cramped and insufficiently stable to receive new equipment. In September, she joined the 2nd Cruiser Squadron. In October 1947, the cruiser was placed in reserve in the Gareloch. In 1951 Dido was moved to the Portsmouth Reserve Fleet. In November 1956 Dido and her sister ship HMS Cleopatra which formed the Reserve Fleet flagship group were replaced by the battleship HMS Vanguard. On 16 July 1958 Dido was broken up by Ward, Barrow.

Dido’s badge can be seen displayed on the Selborne dry dock wall at Simonstown, South Africa.


Commands listed for HMS Dido (37)

Please note that we're still working on this section.

1Capt. Edward Dangerfield, RN8 Jul 194022 Sep 1940
2Capt. Henry William Urquhart McCall, RN22 Sep 194026 Oct 1942
3Capt. John Terry, RN26 Oct 194211 Nov 1943
4Capt. Sir William Gladstone Agnew, DSO, RN11 Nov 194315 Nov 1943
5Capt. John Terry, RN15 Nov 19438 Nov 1944
6Capt. Robert Francis Elkins, OBE, RN8 Nov 1944early 1946

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 Dido include:

16 Oct 1940
HMS H 34 (Lt. L.W. Napier, RN) conducted special trials off / at Scapa Flow with HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN) and HMS Mendip (A/Cdr. G.N. Rolfe, DSC, RN). (1)

16 Nov 1940
HMS Manchester (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow. After gunnery exercises she departed for Gibraltar later the same day. During the passage to Gibraltar she was to act as cover together with HMS Southampton (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN) for a convoy made up of the British merchants / troopships Clan Forbes (7529 GRT, built 1938), Clan Fraser (7529 GRT, built 1939), Franconia (20175 GRT, built 1923) and New Zealand Star (10740 GRT, built 1935). Other ships of the escort force were aircraft HMS Furious (Capt. T.H. Troubridge, RN) and light cruiser HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN) that were to proceed to Takoradi to which Furious was transporting 34 Hurricane fighters as well a 3 Fulmars. Destroyers provided A/S escort, initially by HMS Havelock (Cdr. E.H. Thomas, RN) and HMS Hesperus (Lt.Cdr. D.G.F.W. MacIntyre, RN) these were later joined by HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) and HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN). (2)

17 Nov 1942
17 November 1942 / 20 November 1942;
Operation Stone Age;

On 17 November 1942 a convoy of 4 merchants (MW-13) left Alexandria for Malta. This convoy was escorted by the British light cruisers HMS Arethusa, HMS Euryalus, HMS Dido and 10 destroyers.

On the 18th HMS Arethusa was hit by a aerial torpedo. She was heavily damaged and towed back to Alexandria.

The convoy arrived safe at Malta on the 20th. This meant the end of the Malta siege.


  1. ADM 173/16307
  2. ADM 53/112670 + ADM 199/361

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

Return to the Allied Warships section