Allied Warships

HMS Malaya (01)

Battleship of the Queen Elizabeth class

HMS Malaya as seen prewar.

NavyThe Royal Navy
ClassQueen Elizabeth 
Built byArmstrong (Newcastle-on-Tyne, U.K.) : Wallsend 
Ordered 1913 
Laid down20 Oct 1913 
Launched18 Mar 1915 
Commissioned1 Feb 1916 
End service 

Served in WW1 including Jutland.

Rebuilt twice between Wars. The latter rebuilt saw the addition of a new hanger and fixed catapult aft of the funnel, two cranes were provided to support the movement of the aircraft. The single 4" AA gun mounts were replaced by twin mounts. Two 8-barrelled 2 pounder pom pom's were provided (on each side of the funnel) and two quad 0.5" machine guns were mounted on X turret. Two HA DCT (High Angle Director Control Tower) were fitted to support the new anti-aircraft guns.

Following the start of the war a Type AW (Air Warning) 286 Radar was fitted at the masthead, A Type SR (Surface Radar) 284 radar on the LA DCT (Low Angle Director Control Tower) and a Type HA (High Angle) 285 on each of the HA DCT's. Some 20 additional 20 mm Oerlikon guns were added.

In late 1942 the aircraft and catapult were removed and two twin 4" AA gun mounts were added to the flight deck, two more 8 barrelled 2 pounder pom poms were added on the aft superstructure, the number of 20 mm Oerlikon cannons was increased to 31. A type (SW) 271 radar was added to the top of of the foremast. The two forward 6 inch guns were removed.

In August 1943 HMS Malaya was reduced to Reserve due to her poor state. In mid-June 1944 she was recommissioned for bombarding duties. In October HMS Malaya was again reduced to Reserve and served as an accomodation ship. Sold on 20 February 1948 to Metal Industries and arrived at Faslane on 12 April 1948 for scrapping.


Hit by U-boat
Damaged on 20 Mar 1941 by U-106 (Oesten).

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

Commands listed for HMS Malaya (01)

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

1Capt. Ion Beauchamp Butler Tower, DSC, RN16 Dec 19388 Jun 1940
2Capt. Sir Arthur Francis Eric Palliser, DSC, RN20 May 19403 May 1941
3Capt. Cuthbert Coppinger, DSC, RN3 May 194120 Apr 1942
4Capt. John William Ashley Waller, RN20 Apr 194222 Jul 1943
5Capt. George Eric Maxia O’Donnell, DSO, RN22 Jul 194315 Oct 1943
6Capt. Leslie Haliburton Ashmore, RN15 Oct 19431 Dec 1943
7Cdr. Clive Denison Arbuthnot, RN1 Dec 19433 Dec 1943
8Capt. (retired) Douglas Cuthbert Lang, RN3 Dec 194311 Jul 1944
9Capt. Eric Wheeler Bush, DSO, DSC, RN11 Jul 194420 Sep 1944

10Cdr. Donald Hamilton Fuller, RN 5 Dec 1944
11Capt. (retired) Walter Herman Gordon Fallowfield, RN5 Dec 194426 Feb 1945
12Capt. (retired) Douglas Cuthbert Lang, RN6 Mar 1945April 1945
13A/Cdr. (retired) Jack Marcus Douglas Hunter, RNApr 1945May 1945
14Capt. Charles Alfred Evelyn Stanfield, RNApr 1945Apr 1945

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Notable events involving Malaya include:

21 Dec 1939
HMS Otway (Cdr. H.R. Conway, RN) conducted exercises off Malta. This included a practice attack on HMS Malaya (Capt. I.B.B. Tower, DSC, RN) and A/S exercises with HMS HMS Coral and HMS Beryl. (1)

17 Aug 1940
In the early morning the British battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. D.B. Fisher, CBE, RN), HMS Malaya (Capt. A.F.E. Palliser, DSC, RN), HMS Ramillies (Capt. H.T. Baillie-Grohman, OBE, DSO, RN) the British heavy cruiser HMS Kent (Capt. D. Young-Jamieson, RN) escorted by the British destroyers HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN), HMS Mohawk (Cdr. J.W.M. Eaton, RN), Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Hostile (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC, RN), HMS Diamond (Lt.Cdr. P.A. Cartwright, RN), HMS Juno (Cdr. W.E. Wilson, RN) and the Australian destroyers HMAS Stuart (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, RAN), HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RAN) and HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, RAN) carried out a bombardment of Italian positions around the fortress of Bardia.

8 Oct 1940
Operation MB-6;

A British convoy with the merchants
Memnon (7506 GRT),
Lanarkshire (11275 GRT),
Clan Macauley (10492 GRT) and
Clan Ferguson (7347 GRT)
left Alexandria for Malta on 8 October 1940. This convoy was escorted by the British Anti-Aircraft cruisers
HMS Calcutta (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN),
HMS Coventry (Capt. D. Gilmour, RN)
and the Australian destroyers
HMS Stuart (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, DSO, RAN),
HMS Voyager (Cdr. J.C. Morrow, DSO, RAN),
HMS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RAN)
and the British destroyer
HMS Wryneck (Cdr. R.H.D. Lane, RN).

Cover was provided by the Mediterranean Fleet (Admiral Cunningham) with the British battleships
HMS Warspite (Capt. D.B. Fisher, CBE, RN),
HMS Valiant (Capt. H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN),
HMS Malaya (Capt. A.F.E. Palliser, DSC, RN),
HMS Ramillies (Capt. H.T. Baillie-Grohman, OBE, DSO, RN),
the British aircraft carriers
HMS Illustrious (Capt. D.W. Boyd, DSC, RN),
HMS Eagle (Capt. A.R.M. Bridge, RN),
the British heavy cruiser
HMS York (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN),
the British light cruisers
HMS Gloucester (Capt. H.A. Rowley, RN),
HMS Liverpool (Capt. P.A. Read, RN),
HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D. McCarthy, RN),
HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN),
the Australian light cruiser
HMAS Sydney (Capt. J.A. Collins, CB, RAN)
escorted by the British destroyers
HMS Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO and Bar, RN),
HMS Havock (Cdr. R.E. Courage, DSO, DSC, RN),
HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO, RN),
HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN),
HMS Hasty, (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN),
HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC, RN),
HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.deW. Kitcat, RN),
HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO, RN),
HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN),
HMS Juno (Cdr. W.E. Wilson, RN),
HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN),
HMS Dainty (Cdr. M.S. Thomas, DSO, RN),
HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN),
HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN)
and the Australian destroyers
HMAS Vampire (Cdr. J.A. Walsh, RAN) and
HMAS Vendetta (Cdr. R. Rhoades RAN).

The convoy was not spotted and arrived safe at Malta on 11 October. The only damage sustained was to the destroyer HMS Imperial that was mined off Malta and was out of action for over 6 months.

While on the return trip the Mediterranean Fleet was sighted by an Italian aircraft. The Italian Navy tried to intercept them in the Ionian Sea. In the night of 11/12 October the first Italian torpedo boat flotilla with Airone, Alcione and Ariel attacked HMS Ajax. The attack failed and Ajax sank Airone and Ariel, Alcione escaped. A little while later the Italian 11th destroyer flotilla, with Artigliere, Aviere, Camicia Nera and Geniere arrived at the scene. They were surprised by the radar-directed gunfire from HMS Ajax. Artigliere was heavily damaged and Aviere was slightly damaged. Camicia Nere tried to tow Artigliere away but she was sighted by a British Sunderland aircraft that homed in 3 Swordfish aircraft from HMS Illustrious. However, the torpedoed they fired didn't hit the Italian ships. Later the British heavy cruiser HMS York arrived at the scene. Camicia Nera quickly slipped the towing line and sped off. After her crew had left the ship Artiglire was sunk by York.

While the Mediterranean Fleet was still on the return trip aircraft from HMS Illustrious and HMS Eagle attacked Leros and in the evening of the 14th the British light cruiser HMS Liverpool while south-east of Crete was hit in the bow by a torpedo from an Italian aircraft. The cruiser was heavily damaged and was repaired at the Mare Island Navy Yard in the USA. HMS Liverpool was not operational again until January 1942.

6 Feb 1941

British raid on Genoa.

Force H (Vice Admiral Somerville) left Gibraltar on 6 February 1941. The battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt R.R. McGrigor, RN), battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. A.F.E. Palliser, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (Capt. C.S. Holland, RN), light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN) and the destroyers HMS Fearless (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN) HMS Foxhound (Lt.Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN), HMS Foresight (Cdr. J.S.C. Salter, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St.J. Morgan, RN) and HMS Jersey (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN) left Gibraltar to the west with convoy HG-53. This was done to fool German and Italian observers in Spain. In the meantime 4 destroyers HMS Duncan (Capt. A.D.B. James, RN), HMS Isis (Cdr. C.S.B. Swinley, DSC, RN), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.P. Thew, RN) left Gibraltar and steamed to the east to conduct a anti-submarine sweep. During the night Force H reversed course and passed Gibraltar on an easterly course back into the Mediterranean. There they were joined by the 4 destroyers that conducted the anti-submarine sweep.

On 8 February the Italian fleet left port and steamed south after they received reports of British carrier aircraft south of the Balearics. The Italians thought that there was another convoy to Malta.

Early in the morning of 9 February Renown, Malaya and Sheffield bombarded the Italian city of Genoa. In the harbour 4 ships were sunk and 18 were damaged. Also the city itself was damaged.

The Italian fleet turned around and tried to intercept the British ships but due to the bad weather this failed.

In the meantime Ark Royal's aircraft raided Livorno and mined the harbour of La Spezia.

Force H safely returned to Gibraltar on 11 February.

20 Mar 1941
At 23.23 hours on 20 March 1941, German U-boat U-106 attacked the shadow of a merchant ship with a spread of two stern torpedoes in bad light from the port side of the convoy SL-68 about 250 miles west-northwest of the Cape Verde Islands in position 20°02'N, 25°50'W. One torpedo hit and damaged the British battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. A.F.E. Palliser, DSC, RN) which was hit on the port side, causing considerable damage. Due to the flooding of some rooms the ship took a list of 7 degrees, but safely reached Trinidad. After temporary repairs were made, she continued to the New York Navy Yard, where the battleship was docked for 4 months. On 9 July, the ship left for the Clyde, arriving on 28 July.

7 Nov 1941
HrMs O 21 (Lt.Cdr. J.F. van Dulm, RNN) conducts exercises off Gibraltar with HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN) and aircraft from HMS Ark Royal (Capt. L.E.H. Maund, CBE, RN) and HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN). (2)

3 May 1943
HMS Ultimatum (Lt. W.H. Kett, RNR) conducted attack exercises off Scapa Flow. Practice attacks were made on HMS Malaya (Capt. J.W.A. Waller, RN) and HMS Suffolk (Capt. R. Shelley, CBE, RN). (3)

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British Battleships, 1919-1945, Revised Edition

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British Battleships of World War One

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British battleships 1939-45 (1)

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  1. ADM 173/15881
  2. File (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  3. ADM 173/18316

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

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