Allied Warships

HMS Phoebe (43)

Light cruiser of the Dido class


Photo courtesy of Paul Johnson Collection

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeLight cruiser
ClassDido 
Pennant43 
Built byFairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. (Govan, Scotland) 
Ordered20 Mar 1937 
Laid down2 Sep 1937 
Launched25 Mar 1939 
Commissioned27 Sep 1940 
End service14 Mar 1951 
History

Adopted by the people of Bournemouth during Warships Week.
Decommissioned on 14 March 1953.
Arrived at Blyth on 1 August 1956 to be scrapped by Hughes Bolkow.

 

Hit by U-boat
Damaged on 23 Oct 1942 by U-161 (Achilles).

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

Commands listed for HMS Phoebe (43)

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

CommanderFromTo
1Capt. Guy Grantham, RN10 Jun 1940Sep 1941
2Cdr. Frank Arthur Ballance, RNSep 194111 Mar 1942
3Capt. Charles Peter Frend, RN11 Mar 194224 Jun 1944
4Capt. Sidney Moffat Raw, RN24 Jun 1944late 1945

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Notable events involving Phoebe include:


23 Oct 1942
HMS Phoebe (Capt. C.P. Frend, RN) was torpedoed by U-161 off the Congo Estuary, while on passage to French Equatorial Africa. Her route was from Simonstown to Freetown, but the ship had to refuel at Pointe Noire. Two U-boats (U-161 and U-126) were patrolling that area by the time. After the hit, a corvette coming up from the harbour prevented the U-boat to finish off the cruiser. About 60 crew members were killed (and three more from malaria in the following days). After provisional repairs, Phoebe made to New York for definite repairs. It was an outstanding deed to go 10.000 miles with a hole 60' by 30' in size. The repairs were not completed until June 1943. (1)

4 Jul 1944
During 4/5 July 1944, HrMs Tromp (A/Capt. F. Stam, RNN), conducted exercises together with the British light cruisers HMS Nigeria (Capt. H.A. King, DSO, RN), HMS Kenya (Capt. C.L. Robertson, RN), HMS Phoebe (Capt. S.M. Raw, CBE, RN) and the New Zealand light cruiser HMNZS Gambia (Capt. N.J.W. William-Powlett, DSC, RN). Later the British destroyers HMS Rotherham (Capt. F.S.W. de Winton, RN), HMS Relentless (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Fell, RN), HMS Rapid (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Quality (Lt.Cdr. the Viscount Jocelyn, RN) also joined. (2)

22 Jul 1944

Operation Crimson,
Carrier raid and surface bombardment against Sabang, Netherlands East Indies by the Eastern Fleet.

On 22 July 1944 the Eastern Fleet put to sea from Trincomalee, Ceylon. The ships that participated in this sortie were; the British battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN), the British battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN and flagship of Vice Admiral A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, RN, second in command of the Eastern Fleet), the French battleship Richelieu (Capt. Merveilleux du Vignaux), the British aircraft carriers HMS Illustrious (Capt. C.E. Lambe, RN), HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN), the British heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland (Capt. P.K. Enright, RN), the British light cruisers HMS Nigeria (Capt. H.A. King, DSO, RN), HMS Kenya (Capt. C.L. Robertson, RN), HMS Ceylon (Capt. G.B. Amery-Parkes, RN), HMS Phoebe (Capt. S.M. Raw, CBE, RN), the New Zealand light cruiser HMNZS Gambia (Capt. N.J.W. William-Powlett, DSC, RN), the Dutch light cruiser HrMs Tromp (A/Capt. F. Stam, RNN), the British destroyers HMS Rotherham (Capt. F.S.W. de Winton, RN), HMS Relentless (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Fell, RN), HMS Racehorse (Cdr. J.J. Casement, DSC, RN), HMS Rocket (Lt.Cdr. H.B. Acworth, OBE, RN), HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, DSC, RN), HMS Roebuck (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN), HMS Rapid (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Quilliam (Capt. R.G. Onslow, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Quality (Lt.Cdr. the Viscount Jocelyn, RN) and the Australian destroyer HMAS Quickmatch (Lt.Cdr. O.H. Becher, DSC, RAN).

The British submarines HMS Templar () and HMS Tantalus () were deployed for air/sea rescue duties.

In the early hours of the 25th the carriers, HMS Illustrious and HMS Victorious, separated from the fleet under the escort of HMS Phoebe, HMS Roebuck and HMS Raider, and launched a total of 34 fighter aircraft to attack airfields in the area (18 Corsairs from HMS Illustrious and 16 Corsairs from HMS Victorious). One Corsair fighter was damaged by AA fire from the enemy and crashed into the sea, the pilot was picked up by HMS Nigeria. Five other Corsairs were damaged by AA fire but managed to return to the carriers. Two of these could be repaired on board, the other three were too badly damaged for effective repairs.

The battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Valiant, Richelieu, battlecruiser HMS Renown, heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland, light cruisers HMS Nigeria, HMS Kenya, HMS Ceylon, HMS Phoebe HMNZS Gambia and the destroyers HMS Rotherham, HMS Relentless, HMS Racehorse, HMS Rocket and HMS Rapid then commenced a bombardment of the Sabang area. They fired a total of 294 - 15", 134 - 8", 324 - 6", ca. 500 - 4.7" and 123 - 4" shells.

Then the Dutch cruiser HrMs Tromp entered Sabang Bay, her rightful waters, with the British destroyers HMS Quilliam, HMS Quality and the Australian destroyer HMAS Quickmatch. In all these four ships fired a total of 8 Torpedos and 208 - 6", 717 - 4.'7" and 668 x 4" shells. Japanese shore batteries obtained 4 hits on the Tromp while Quilliam and Quality were both hit once. The hit by what was thought to be a 3” shell on Quilliam caused minor structural damage but killed one petty officer and wounded four ratings. Quality was hit by what is thought to be a 5” shell which hit the tripod foremast and HA director. One war correspondent was killed and one officer and eight retings were wounded, some of them seriously. Tromp was hit by two 5” and two 3” shells but was lucky that none of these exploded !!!, she suffered only minor structural damage and no deaths or even wounded amongst her crew.

Later that day 13 fighters from the carriers intercepted a Japanese counter attack with 10 aircraft. 7 of these were shot down for no losses of their own. (3)

Sources

  1. Personal communication
  2. File 2.12.03.6854 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  3. Files 2.12.03.6854 and 2.12.27.121 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands) and WO 203 / 4622 (British National Archives, Kew, London)

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