Allied Warships

HMS Royal Sovereign (05)

Battleship of the Royal Sovereign class


HMS Royal Sovereign as seen prewar.

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeBattleship
ClassRoyal Sovereign 
Pennant05 
Built byPortsmouth Dockyard (Portsmouth, U.K.) 
Ordered 1913 
Laid down15 Jan 1914 
Launched29 Apr 1915 
Commissioned18 Apr 1916 
End service30 May 1944 
History

Transferred on loan to the Soviet Navy as Archangelsk from 30 May 1944 to 9 February 1949. Sold 5 April 1949 to T.W. Ward, arrived at Inverkeithing 5 September 1949 for scrapping.

 
Career notesBecame the Soviet battleship Arkhangelsk

Commands listed for HMS Royal Sovereign (05)

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

CommanderFromTo
1Capt. Llewellyn Vaughan Morgan, DSC, RN26 Jul 193919 Oct 1939
2Cdr. Charles Livingston Robertson, RN19 Oct 193927 Nov 1939
3Lt.Cdr. Roger Isaac Hoyle, RN27 Nov 193928 Nov 1939
4Cdr. Thomas Harland, RN28 Nov 193915 Dec 1939
5Capt. Humphrey Benson Jacomb, RN15 Dec 193926 Sep 1941
6Capt. Reginald Henry Portal, DSC, RN26 Sep 19417 Aug 1942
7Capt. Desmond Nevill Cooper Tufnell, DSC, RN7 Aug 194219 Nov 1942
8Cdr. Peter Skelton, RN19 Nov 194210 Dec 1943
9Capt. (retired) Sydney Hopkins, RN10 Dec 194324 Apr 1944
10Capt. Allan Thomas George Cumberland Peachey, RN24 Apr 194430 May 1944

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Notable events involving Royal Sovereign include:


The page for this battleship was last updated in September 2021.

4 Sep 1939
The battleships HMS Royal Oak (Capt. W.G. Benn, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.E.C. Blagrove, RN) and HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) both departed Scapa Flow to patrol to the east of the Fair Isle Channel. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Broke (Capt. R. Kerr, RN), HMS Wanderer (Cdr. R.F. Morice, RN) and HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN). They were joined at sea early in the afternoon of the 6th by three more destroyers; HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN) and HMS Fury (Cdr. G.F. Burghard, RN).

6 Sep 1939
Late in the afternoon the battleships HMS Royal Oak (Capt. W.G. Benn, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.E.C. Blagrove, RN) and HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) and their escorting destroyers; HMS Broke (Capt. R. Kerr, RN), HMS Wanderer (Cdr. R.F. Morice, RN) and HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN), HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN) and HMS Fury (Cdr. G.F. Burghard, RN) returned to Scapa Flow from their patrol to the east of the Fair Isle Channel.

11 Sep 1939
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) conducted gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (1)

20 Sep 1939
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) conducted gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (1)

23 Sep 1939
Around 2330/23, HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Portsmouth. She was escorted by the destoyers HMS Esk (Lt.Cdr. R.J.H. Couch, RN) and HMS Express (Cdr. J.G. Bickford, RN).

They arrived at Portsmouth around 1200/26. HMS Royal Sovereign was to be taken in hand for refit and modernisation at the Royal Dockyard. This was however cancelled and it was decided to give the ship a short refit only to make her fit for further service as in her current state she was deemed unfit for service. This refit however was to take place at the Devonport Dockyard at Plymouth. (1)

6 Oct 1939
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) shifted from the Portsmouth Dockyard to Spithead. (2)

7 Oct 1939
Around 0100 hours, HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) departed Spithead for Plymouth. She was escorted by the destoyers HMS Saladin (Lt.Cdr. L.J. Dover, RN) and HMS Scimitar (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, RN).

They arrived at Plymouth around 1245 hours. (2)

18 Oct 1939
During her refit, HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN), is docked at the Devonport Dockyard. (2)

9 Nov 1939
HMS Royal Sovereign (Cdr. C.L. Robertson, RN) is undocked. She continued her refit at the Devonport Dockyard. (3)

7 Jan 1940
With her refit completed, HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral S.S. Bonham-Carter, CVO, DSO, RN), departed Plymouth around 0400 hours for Portsmouth. She was being escorted by the destroyers HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN), HMS Wivern (Lt.Cdr. W. Evershed, RN) and HMS Wren (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN). (4)

8 Jan 1940
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral S.S. Bonham-Carter, CVO, DSO, RN), HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN), HMS Wivern (Lt.Cdr. W. Evershed, RN) and HMS Wren (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN) arrived at Portsmouth from Plymouth having been delayed en-route due to thick fog. (4)

14 Jan 1940
Around noon, HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral S.S. Bonham-Carter, CVO, DSO, RN), departed Portsmouth for Halifax, Nova Scotia. She had on board £ 5 million of gold bullion.

She was being escorted by the destroyers HMS Achates (Cdr. R.J. Gardner, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN) and HMS Arrow (Cdr. H.W. Williams, RN) until around 1630/15 when HMS Vanquisher (Lt.Cdr. C.B. Alers-Hankey, RN), HMS Viscount (Lt.Cdr. M.S. Townsend, RN) and HMS Windsor (Lt.Cdr. P.D.H.R. Pelly, RN) took over until around 1200/16. HMS Royal Sovereign then proceeded unescorted. (4)

23 Jan 1940
Around dawn, 0730 hours, HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral S.S. Bonham-Carter, CVO, DSO, RN) is joined by the destroyers HMCS Ottawa (Capt. G.C. Jones, RCN) and HMCS Saguenay (Cdr. G.R. Miles, RCN).

They arrived at Halifax around 1800 hours that day. (4)

30 Jan 1940
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) conducted gunnery exercises off Halifax. (4)

31 Jan 1940

Convoy HX 18.

This convoy departed Halifax on 31 January 1940 and arrived at Liverpool 16 February 1940.

Upon departure from Halifax the convoy was made up of the following merchant ships: Aliakmon (Greek, 4521 GRT, built 1913), Athelking (British (tanker), 9557 GRT, built 1926), Beaverford (British, 10042 GRT, built 1928), Boltonhall (British, 4824 GRT, built 1935), British Prince (British, 4879 GRT, built 1935), Caithness (British, 4970 GRT, built 1935), Canadian (Panamanian, 5802 GRT, built 1919), Cefn Y Bryn (British, 5164 GRT, built 1939), Cerinthus (British (tanker), 3878 GRT, built 1930), Clearpool (British, 5405 GRT, built 1935), Conus (British (tanker), 8132 GRT, built 1931), Dalcairn (British, 4608 GRT, built 1927), Daytonian (British, 6434 GRT, built 1922), Dromus (British (tanker), 8036 GRT, built 1938), F.J. Wolfe (Panamanian (tanker), 12190 GRT, built 1932), Geddington Court (British, 6903 GRT, built 1928), Glenmoor (British, 4393 GRT, built 1928), Gretafield (British (tanker), 10191 GRT, built 1928), Harmonic (British, 4558 GRT, built 1930), Hindpool (British, 4897 GRT, built 1928), Hopecastle (British, 5178 GRT, built 1937), Langleeford (British, 4622 GRT, built 1925), Leiesten (Norwegian (tanker), 6118 GRT, built 1930), Lustrous (British (tanker), 6156 GRT, built 1927), Mataroa (British, 12390 GRT, built 1922), Parthenia (British, 4872 GRT, built 1917), Quebec City (British, 4745 GRT, built 1927), Rio Blanco (British, 4086 GRT, built 1922), Ross (British, 4878 GRT, built 1936), Sea Glory (British, 1964 GRT, built 1919), Sheaf Holme (British, 4814 GRT, built 1929), Sire (British, 5664 GRT, built 1938), Starstone (British, 5702 GRT, built 1938), Taygetos (British, 4295 GRT, built 1918), Telena (British (tanker), 7406 GRT, built 1927), Toronto City (British, 2486 GRT, built 1925), Trewellard (British, 5201 GRT, built 1936), Trontolite (British (tanker), 7115 GRT, built 1918), Ullapool (British, 4891 GRT, built 1927), Vancolite (British (tanker), 11404 GRT, built 1928), White Crest (British, 4365 GRT, built 1928), William Blumer (Norwegian, 3604 GRT, built 1920) and Yarraville (British (tanker), 8627 GRT, built 1928).

The convoy had been escorted by the battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) and the destroyers HMCS Saguenay (Cdr. G.R. Miles, RCN) and HMCS Skeena (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tisdall, RCN).

HMCS Saguenay and HMCS Skeena were detached on 1 February 1940.

On 3 February 1940 a lot of merchant ships lost touch with the convoy, these were the following vessels: Boltonhall, British Prince, Cefn Y Btyn, Conus, Dalcairn, Geddington Court, Gretafield, Harmonic, Hindpool, Langleeford, Parthenia, Rio Blanco, Sea Glory, Sire, Trewellard and Yarraville.

On 8 February 1940 HMS Royal Sovereign parted company with the convoy which then continued on unescorted until the destoyer HMS Winchelsea (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, RN) and sloop HMS Rochester (Cdr. G.F. Renwick, RN) joined on 13 February.

On 14 February two stagglers from the convoy were sunk by the German submarine U-26. These were the Gretafield and Langleeford.

The bulk of the convoy arrived at Liverpool on 16 February.

12 Feb 1940
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) returned to Halifax after convoy escort duty. She was escorted in by Canadian destroyers [unable to find out which ones but HMCS Fraser (Cdr. W.B. Creery, RCN) and HMCS St. Laurent (Lt.Cdr. H.G. de Wolf, RCN) seemed to be the most likely ones]. (5)

22 Feb 1940

Convoy HX 22.

This convoy departed Halifax on 22 February 1940 and arrived at Liverpool 9 March 1940.

Upon departure from Halifax the convoy was made up of the following merchant ships: Anglo Indian (British, 5609 GRT, built 1938), Anthea (British, 5186 GRT, built 1924), Aspasia Nomikos (Greek, 4855 GRT, built 1938), Athelprincess (British (tanker), 8882 GRT, built 1929), Athelsultan (British (tanker), 8882 GRT, built 1929), Bradford City (British, 4953 GRT, built 1936), Carras (Greek, 5234 GRT, built 1918), Chama (British (tanker), 8077 GRT, built 1938), Chesapeake (British (tanker), 8955 GRT, built 1928), Counsellor (British, 5068 GRT, built 1926), Darcoila (British, 4084 GRT, built 1926), Director (British, 5107 GRT, built 1926), Elona (British (tanker), 6192 GRT, built 1936), Erodona (British (tanker), 6207 GRT, built 1937), Gracefield (British, 4631 GRT, built 1928), Hanseat (Panamanian (tanker), 7932 GRT, built 1929), Hoperidge (British, 5222 GRT, built 1939), Hopestar (British, 5267 GRT, built 1936), Humber Arm (British, 5758 GRT, built 1925), James McGee (Panamanian (tanker), 9859 GRT, built 1917), King Neptune (British, 5224 GRT, built 1928), Laguna (British, 6466 GRT, built 1923), Lindenhall (British, 5248 GRT, built 1937), Nailsea Moor (British, 4926 GRT, built 1937), Newton Moore (British, 5673 GRT, built 1937), Norman Monarch (British, 4718 GRT, built 1937), Nyanza (British, 4974 GRT, built 1928), Orduna (British, 15507 GRT, built 1914), Reginolite (British (tanker), 9069 GRT, built 1926), San Ambrosio (British (tanker), 7410 GRT, built 1935), San Fernando (British (tanker), 13056 GRT, built 1919), Scherazade (French (tanker), 13467 GRT, built 1935), Strategist (British, 6255 GRT, built 1937) and Yang-Tse (French, 8150 GRT, built 1915).

The convoy had been escorted by the battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) and the destroyers HMCS Skeena (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tisdall, RCN) and HMCS Restigouche (Lt.Cdr. H.N. Lay, RCN).

The Canadian destroyers parted company with the convoy on 23 February.

HMS Royal Sovereign parted company with the convoy on 2 March. She then set course to return to Halifax while the convoy continued eastwards without escort.

On 6 March the convoy was joined by the destroyers HMS Vanoc (Lt.Cdr. J.G.W. Deneys, RN), HMS Veteran (Cdr. J.E. Broome, RN), HMS Walpole (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Bowerman, RN) and HMS Wren (Cdr. H.T. Armstrong, RN).

Before the convoy arrived the Counsellor hit a mine and sank.

The convoy arrived at Liverpool on 9 March 1940.

7 Mar 1940
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) returned to Halifax after convoy escort duty. She was escorted in by the destroyers HMCS Restigouche (Lt.Cdr. H.N. Lay, RN) and HMCS St. Laurent (Lt.Cdr. H.G. de Wolf, RCN). (6)

18 Mar 1940

Convoy HX 28.

This convoy departed Halifax on 18 March 1940 and arrived at Liverpool 2 April 1940.

Upon departure from Halifax the convoy was made up of the following merchant ships: Aldersdale (British (tanker), 8402 GRT, built 1937), Annik (Norwegian, 1333 GRT, built 1940), Antigone (British, 4545 GRT, built 1928), Athelknight (British (tanker), 8940 GRT, built 1930), Avelona Star (British, 13376 GRT, built 1927), Beckenham (British, 4636 GRT, built 1937), Bengore Head (British, 2609 GRT, built 1922), Boreas (Norwegian, 2801 GRT, built 1920), Bridgepool (British, 4845 GRT, built 1924), British Captain (British (tanker), 6968 GRT, built 1923), British Prudence (British (tanker), 8620 GRT, built 1939), Cardita (British (tanker), 8237 GRT, built 1931), Collegian (British, 7886 GRT, built 1923), Cordelia (British (tanker), 8190 GRT, built 1932), Dalcroy (British, 4558 GRT, built 1930), Dromore Castle (British, 5242 GRT, built 1919), Edward F. Johnson (British (tanker), 10452 GRT, built 1937), Empire Confidence (British, 5023 GRT, built 1935), Eskdalegate (British, 4250 GRT, built 1930), Europe (Norwegian (tanker), 8371 GRT, built 1934), Grainton (British, 6341 GRT, built 1929), Harlingen (British, 5415 GRT, built 1933), Henri Desprez (French (tanker), 9805 GRT, built 1932), Hopepeak (British, 5179 GRT, built 1938), Indiana (French, 5751 GRT, built 1915), Induna (British, 5086 GRT, built 1925), Inversuir (British, 9456 GRT, built 1938), Jean L.D. (French, 5795 GRT, built 1935), Jumna (British, 6078 GRT, built 1929), Jutland (British, 6153 GRT, built 1928), Lancaster Castle (British, 5172 GRT, built 1937), Lucerna (British (tanker), 6556 GRT, built 1930), Macharda (British, 5998 GRT, built 1938), Malayan Prince (British, 8953 GRT, built 1926), Manchester Citizen (British, 5343 GRT, built 1925), Manchester Port (British, 7071 GRT, built 1935), Matheran (British, 7653 GRT, built 1919), Mathilda (Norwegian, 3650 GRT, built 1920), Narragansett (British (tanker) 10389 GRT, built 1936), Newfoundland (British, 6791 GRT, built 1925), Nicolaou Georgios (British, 4108 GRT, built 1930), Politician (British, 7939 GRT, built 1923), Pomella (British (tanker), 6766 GRT, built 1937), Ramsay (British, 4855 GRT, built 1930), Rio Azul (British, 4088 GRT, built 1921), Rockpool (British, 4892 GRT, built 1927), San Demetrio (British (tanker), 8073 GRT, built 1938), San Ernesto (British (tanker), 8078 GRT, built 1939), San Gabriel (British, 4943 GRT, built 1920), Sarthe (British, 5271 GRT, built 1920), Scoresby (British, 3843 GRT, built 1923), Selvistan (British, 5136 GRT, built 1924), Shirak (British (tanker), 6023 GRT, built 1926), Stanwell (British, 5767 GRT, built 1914), Stiklestad (Norwegian (tanker"), 9349 GRT, built 1938), Torr Head (British, 5021 GRT, built 1937), Trecarrell (British, 5271 GRT, built 1919), Tuira (Panamanian, 4397 GRT, built 1912), Varanger (Norwegian (tanker), 9305 GRT, built 1925), W.B. Walker (British (tanker), 10468 GRT, built 1935) and Walter D. Munson (Greek, 3703 GRT, built 1917).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) and the destroyers HMCS Saguenay (Cdr. G.R. Miles, RCN), HMCS Skeena (Lt. H.S. Rayner, RCN) and HMCS Ottawa (Capt. G.C. Jones, RCN).

HMCS Ottawa parted company with the convoy later on the 18th. HMCS Saguenay and HMCS Skeena parted company on the 19th.

The convoy then continued on eastwards escorted by HMS Royal Sovereign which parted company with the convoy on the 27th.

On approaching the British Isles the destroyers HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. R.T. White, RN) and HMS Warwick (Lt.Cdr. M.A.G. Child, RN) joined the convoy on the 27th, HMS Havock (Lt.Cdr. R.E. Courage, RN) and HMS Vanessa (Lt.Cdr. E.A. Stocker, RN) on the 28th and HMS Vimy (Lt.Cdr. C.G.W. Donald, RN) on the 29th. Apparently only HMS Antelope remained with when the convoy until it arrived at Liverpool.

2 Apr 1940
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) returned to Halifax after convoy escort duty. She was escorted in by the destroyers HMCS Saguenay (Cdr. G.R. Miles, RCN) and HMCS Restigouche (Lt.Cdr. H.N. Lay, RN).

10 Apr 1940

Convoy HX 34.

This convoy departed Halifax on 10 April 1940 and arrived at Liverpool 26 April 1940.

Upon departure from Halifax the convoy was made up of the following merchant ships: Beechwood (British, 4987 GRT, built 1940), British Colony (British (tanker), 6917 GRT, built 1927), Chulmleigh (British, 5445 GRT, built 1938), Custodian (British, 5881 GRT, built 1928), Dominigo de Larrinaga (British, 5358 GRT, built 1929), Empire Conveyor (British, 5911 GRT, built 1917), F.J. Wolfe (British (tanker), 12190 GRT, built 1932), Forsdale (British, 11023 GRT, built 1924), Generton (British, 4797 GRT, built 1936), (British, GRT, built ), Henry Dundas (British (tanker), 10448 GRT, built 1937), Lake Halwill (Estonian, 3165 GRT, built 1907), Malancha (British, 8124 GRT, built 1937), Manchester Spinner (British, 4767 GRT, built 1918), Merchant Prince (British, 5229 GRT, built 1939), Mount Pelion (Greek, 5655 GRT, built 1917), Oiltrader (British (tanker), 5550 GRT, built 1927), Parracombe (British, 4702 GRT, built 1928), Port Montreal (British, 5882 GRT, built 1937), Prince Rupert City (British, 4749 GRT, built 1929), Ross (British, 4878 GRT, built 1936), San Ubaldo (British (tanker), 5999 GRT, built 1921), Saranac (British (tanker), 12049 GRT, built 1918), Scottish American (British (tanker), 6999 GRT, built 1920), Seminole (British (tanker), 10389 GRT, built 1936), Texas Ranger (British, 2689 GRT, built 1919), Thiara (British (tanker), 10364 GRT, built 1939), Toronto City (British, 2486 GRT, built 1925), Varand (British (tanker), 6023 GRT, built 1927) and Wellfield (British (tanker), 6054 GRT, built 1924).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) and the destroyers HMCS HMCS Saguenay (Cdr. G.R. Miles, RCN), HMCS Ottawa (Cdr. E.R. Mainguy, RCN) and HMCS Restigouche (Lt.Cdr. H.N. Lay, RCN).

On the same day of departure HMCS Ottawa collided with a tug and had to return to Halifax for repairs.

The other two Canadian destroyers parted company with the convoy on 11 April.

HMS Royal Sovereign parted company with the convoy on 20 April and set course for Gibraltar as she was to join the Mediterranean Fleet.

On approaching the British Isles the destroyers HMS Warwick (Lt.Cdr. M.A.G. Child, RN) and HMS Windsor (Lt.Cdr. P.D.H.R. Pelly, RN) escorted the convoy from 23 to 26 April when the convoy arrived at Liverpool.

23 Apr 1940
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) arrived at Gibraltar. She had a local escort of the destroyers HMS Keppel (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) E.G. Heywood-Lonsdale, RN) and HMS Watchman (Lt.Cdr. E.C.L. Day, RN) which had joined the battleship earlier in the day. (7)

28 Apr 1940
The battleships HMS Malaya (Capt. I.B.B. Tower, DSC, RN) and HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) departed Gibraltar for Alexandria where they were to reinforce the Mediterranean Fleet. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Velox (Cdr.(Retd.) J.C. Colvill, RN), HMAS Vendetta (Lt. R. Rhoades RAN) and HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN).

29 Apr 1940
HMS Malaya (Capt. I.B.B. Tower, DSC, RN) and HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN), HMS Velox (Cdr.(Retd.) J.C. Colvill, RN), HMAS Vendetta (Lt. R. Rhoades RAN) and HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN) are joined by French warships from Mers-el--Kebir and Algeria, these were the battleships Lorraine (Capt. L.M.L. Rey), Bretagne (Capt. L.R.E. de Pivian), Provence (Capt. G.T.E. Barois), heavy cruisers Tourville (Capt. A.J.A. Marloy), Duquesne (Capt. G.E. Besineau), light cruiser Duguay Trouin (Capt. J.M.C. Trolley de Prevaux) and the destroyers Lion (Cdr. J.J.A. Vetillard), Lynx (Cdr. A.M. De Gouyon Matignon de Pontourade) and Forbin (Lt.Cdr. R.C.M. Chartellier).

30 Apr 1940
The destroyers HMAS Stuart (Cdr. H.M.L. Waller, RAN) and HMAS Vampire (Cdr. J.A. Walsh, RAN) and later the light cruiser HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN) and the destroyers HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, RN) and HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN) departed Malta to join the British battleships HMS Malaya (Capt. I.B.B. Tower, DSC, RN), HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN), French battleships Lorraine (Capt. L.M.L. Rey), Bretagne (Capt. L.R.E. de Pivian), Provence (Capt. G.T.E. Barois), French heavy cruisers Tourville (Capt. A.J.A. Marloy), Duquesne (Capt. G.E. Besineau), French light cruiser Duguay Trouin (Capt. J.M.C. Trolley de Prevaux) that were escorted by the British destroyers HMS Velox (Cdr.(Retd.) J.C. Colvill, RN), HMS Watchman (Lt.Cdr. E.C.L. Day, RN), Australian destroyers HMAS Vendetta (Lt. R. Rhoades RAN), HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN) and the French destroyers Lion (Cdr. J.J.A. Vetillard), Lynx (Cdr. A.M. De Gouyon Matignon de Pontourade) and Forbin (Lt.Cdr. R.C.M. Chartellier). These ships were en-route to Alexandria to reinforce the Mediterranean Fleet.

HMS Velox and HMS Watchman were detached before arriving at Alexandria though.

3 May 1940
British battleships HMS Malaya (Capt. I.B.B. Tower, DSC, RN), HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN), French battleships Lorraine (Capt. L.M.L. Rey), Bretagne (Capt. L.R.E. de Pivian), Provence (Capt. G.T.E. Barois), French heavy cruisers Tourville (Capt. A.J.A. Marloy), Duquesne (Capt. G.E. Besineau), French light cruiser Duguay Trouin (Capt. J.M.C. Trolley de Prevaux), British light cruiser HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN), British destroyers HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, RN), HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN), Australian destroyers HMAS Stuart (Cdr. H.M.L. Waller, RAN), HMAS Vampire (Cdr. J.A. Walsh, RAN, HMAS Vendetta (Lt. R. Rhoades RAN), HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN) and the French destroyers Lion (Cdr. J.J.A. Vetillard), Lynx (Cdr. A.M. De Gouyon Matignon de Pontourade) and Forbin (Lt.Cdr. R.C.M. Chartellier) arrived at Alexandria.

15 May 1940
Fleet exercises were carried out of Alexandria in which the following warships are thought to have participated; battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. D.B. Fisher, OBE, RN flying the flag of A/Admiral Sir A.B. Cunningham, KCB, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN), heavy cruisers Duquesne (Capt. G.E. Besineau), Tourville (Capt. A.J.A. Marloy), light cruisers HMS Neptune (Capt. J.A.V. Morse, DSO, RN), HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.C. Tovey, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Delhi (Capt. A.S. Russell, RN), HMS Dragon (Capt. R.G. Bowes-Lyon, MVO, RN), Duguay Trouin (Capt. J.M.C. Trolley de Prevaux), destroyers HMAS Stuart (Cdr. H.M.L. Waller, RAN), HMAS Vampire (Cdr. J.A. Walsh, RAN, HMAS Vendetta (Lt. R. Rhoades RAN), HMAS Voyager (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Morrow, RAN), HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN), HMS Tigre (Capt. M. De La Forest Divonne), Lynx (Cdr. A.M. De Gouyon Matignon de Pontourade) and Forbin (Lt.Cdr. R.C.M. Chartellier).

Some of these ships remained out on exercises during the night of 15/16 May.

[It is possible that more ships participated in these exercises but much information is not available.]

23 May 1940
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) departed Alexandria at 0700 hours, presumably for exercises. The destroyer HMS Diamond (Lt.Cdr. P.A. Cartwright, RN) departed Alexandria at the same time presumably as escort.

They returned to Alexandria later the same day.

24 May 1940
Rear-Admiral H.D. Pridham-Whippell, CB, CVO, RN hoisted his flag in HMS Royal Sovereign. (7)

3 Jun 1940
Fleet exercises were carried out of Alexandria in which the following warships are thought to have participated; battleships HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.D. Pridham-Whippell, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Malaya (Capt. Sir A.F.E. Palliser, DSC, RN), Lorraine (Capt. L.M.L. Rey), aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. A.R.M. Bridge, RN), light cruisers HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral J.C. Tovey, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN), HMAS Sydney (Capt. J.A. Collins, RAN), HMS Gloucester (Capt. F.R. Garside, CBE, RN), destroyers HMAS Stuart (Cdr. H.M.L. Waller, RAN), HMAS Voyager (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Morrow, RAN), HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN), HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN), HMS Havock (Lt.Cdr. R.E. Courage, DSO, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, DSO, RN), HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN), HMS Juno (Cdr. W.E. Wilson, RN), HMS Mohawk (Cdr. J.W.M. Eaton, RN) and HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN).

Most of these ships remained out on exercises during the night of 3/4 June.

[It is possible that more ships participated in these exercises but much information is not available.]

22 Jun 1940

Operation BQ

Bombardment of Augusta, Sicily and raid to the south of the Strait of Messina.

Composition of forces taking part.

Force A: Battleship HMS Warspite (Capt. D.B. Fisher, OBE, RN, flying the flag of the C-in-C, Mediterranean Fleet, A/Admiral Sir A.B. Cunningham, KCB, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), light cruisers HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN), HMAS Sydney (Capt. J.A. Collins, RAN), destroyers HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN), HMS Mohawk (Cdr. J.W.M. Eaton, RN), HMS Dainty (Cdr. M.S. Thomas, RN), HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN) and HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN).

Force B: Light cruisers HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral J.C. Tovey, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Liverpool (Capt. P.A. Read, RN), HMS Gloucester (Capt. F.R. Garside, CBE, RN) destroyers HMS Juno (Cdr. W.E. Wilson, RN) and HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN).

Force C: Battleships HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.D. Pridham-Whippell, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Ramillies (Capt. H.T. Baillie-Grohman, OBE, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. A.R.M. Bridge, RN), destroyers HMS Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicholson, RN), HMS Hasty, (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Havock (Lt.Cdr. R.E. Courage, DSO, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, RN), HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, DSO, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC, RN), HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.deW. Kitcat, RN).

Force D: French heavy cruisers Duquesne (Capt. G.E. Besineau, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral R.E. Godfroy), Suffren (Capt. R.J.M. Dillard), light cruiser Duguay Trouin (Capt. J.M.C. Trolley de Prevaux)., destroyers HMAS Stuart (Cdr. H.M.L. Waller, RAN) and HMAS Vampire (Lt.Cdr. J.A. Walsh, RAN).

Sailing of the forces and the cancellation of the operation.

At 1700/22 HMS Eagle from Force C sailed with all the destroyers assigned to that force. They were followed at 2000 hours by the two R-class battleships assigned to that force.

At 2130/22 Force B sailed.

At 2200/22 Force A sailed.

At 2153 hours a signal was received from the Admiralty ordering the cancellation of the operation due to the French armistice. Following this signal the sailing of Force D was cancelled. Force A returned to the harbour immediately. Forces B and C were ordered to return to harbour on the morning of the next day. Orders were also issued to the Vice-Admiral Malta to not sail a convoy to Alexandria as had been intended under the cover of the operation. (8)

27 Jun 1940

Operation MA 3, convoy’s from Malta and convoy AS 1 from the Dardanelles.

Convoy AS 1 from the Aegean (mostly from the Dardanelles) to Port Said.

This convoy was made up of the following ships:

From the Dardanelles:
British merchants: Deebank (5060 GRT, built 1929), Destro (3553 GRT, built 1920), Eastlea (4267 GRT, 1924), Egyptian Prince (3490 GRT, 1922), Palermo (2797 GRT, built 1938), Volo (1587 GRT, built 1938) and the tug Brittania towing the small river tanker Danube Shell II (704 GRT, built 1934).

From Kalamata:
British merchant Destro (3553 GRT, built 1920).

From Izmir:
British merchant African Prince (4653 GRT, built 1939).

The Dutch merchant Ganymedes (2682 GRT, built 1917) also joined the convoy. Her port of origin is currently unknown to us.

These ships were escorted by the British light cruisers HMS Caledon (Capt. C.P. Clarke, RN), HMS Capetown (Capt. T.H. Back, RN, senior officer of the escort) and the destroyers HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN), HMS Mohawk (Cdr. J.W.M. Eaton, RN), HMAS Vampire (Cdr. J.A. Walsh, RAN) and ORP Garland (Kpt. mar. (Lt.) A. Doroszkowski, ORP). These ships had sailed from Port Said (HMS Capetown, HMS Nubian, HMS Mohawk. These ships had sailed late in the afternoon of the 26th.) and Alexandria (HMS Caledon, HMAS Vampire and ORP Garland. These ships had sailed in the evening of the 26th).

The escort joined up with the convoy late in the morning of 28 June 1940 and then proceeded towards Port Said where it arrived on 2 July 1940. In the afternoon of 29 June 1940, when near the Doro Channel, the convoy had been bombed by Italian aircraft but no damage had been sustained. The next day, when between Gavdo Island and Crete the convoy was attacked again by the Italian air force but again no damage was sustained. Following the first air attack HMS Orion, HMS Neptune and HMAS Sydney proceeded to the convoy to provide additional protection. They were near the convoy when it was attacked for the second time and were attacked themselves by eight enemy aircraft. Heavy bombs fell close to the Orion and Neptune but no actual hits were sustained although Neptune suffered some splinter damage to her aircraft and some superficial damage to the superstructure as well. The aircraft was jettisoned due to the danger of fire. Three of her crew were injured. The three cruisers left the convoy at 0900/1. When they arrived at Alexandria in the second half of 1 July 1940, HMAS Sydney landed 44 survivors from the Espero.

Operation MA 3

On 27 June 1940, five destroyers (HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN), HMS Dainty (Cdr. M.S. Thomas, RN), HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC, RN) and HMAS Voyager (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Morrow, RAN) departed Alexandria at 0600/27 to carry out an A/S hunt off the Anti-Kithera channel on 28 June leaving that area at 2200/28 to arrive at Malta at 1800/29 to provide escort for two groups of merchants ships that were to proceed from Malta to Alexandria. They were to sail at 2100/29 with a 13 knot convoy and a 9 knot convoy. The convoy’s were to arrive at Alexandria on 2 July and 4 July respectively. The fast convoy was to be escorted by HMS Dainty, HMS Ilex and one destroyer from Malta, HMS Diamond (Lt.Cdr. P.A. Cartwright, RN). The slow convoy was to be escorted by the other destroyers, HMS Decoy, HMS Defender and HMAS Voyager. In the end the sailing of both these convoy's was cancelled.

Also on 27 June 1940, at 1100 hours, to provide cover for the convoy’s from a position about 60 nautical miles north of their track. They were to return to Alexandria at 1800/3. HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.D. Pridham-Whippell, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Ramillies (Capt. H.T. Baillie-Grohman, OBE, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. A.R.M. Bridge, RN) and the destroyers HMS Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicholson, RN), HMS Hasty, (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Havock (Lt.Cdr. R.E. Courage, DSO, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, RN), HMS Juno (Cdr. W.E. Wilson, RN) and HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN) were to leave Alexandria at 1230/28. They were to cruise to the north-west of position 35°N, 22°E from 2000/29 until the convoy had passed.

The 7th Cruiser Squadron, made up of HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral J.C. Tovey, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN), HMS Gloucester (Capt. F.R. Garside, CBE, RN), HMS Liverpool (Capt. P.A. Read, RN) and and HMAS Sydney (Capt. J.A. Collins, RAN) departed Alexandria also at 1100/27 to provide close cover for the convoy’s coming from Malta.

On 28 June air reconnaissance reported three Italian destroyers about 75 nautical miles west-south-west of Cape Matapan and the 7th Cruiser Squadron set a course to intercept which they successfully did at 1830 hours. In a long range action one of the Italian destroyers, the Espero was sunk by HMAS Sydney. She attacked the British cruisers so that the other two destroyers had a chance to escape in which the succeeded. During the action HMS Liverpool was hit by a 4.7" shell which cut the degaussing wire. After this action it was decided the next to postpone the sailing of the convoy’s and to send HMS Gloucester and HMS Liverpool to Port Said (Bitter Lakes) to complete with ammunition. The remaining forces were ordered to cover convoy AS 1 coming from the Aegean. As said above the other three cruisers of the 7th Cruiser Squadron returned to Alexandria on 1 July. HMS Royal Sovereign, HMS Ramillies, HMS Eagle and their escorting destroyers returned to Alexandria in the first half of 2 July.

The A/S sweep by the five destroyers also proved very successful as they sank three Italian submarines. On the 27th the Console Generale Liuzzi by HMS Decoy, HMS Defender and HMS Ilex and on the 29th HMS Decoy, HMS Dainty, Defender, HMS Ilex and HMAS Voyager carried out depth charge attacks on three Italian submarines. They sank the Uebi Scebelli and damaged the Salpa. The Capitano Tarantini managed to escape. Following the sinking of the Uebi Scebelli, HMAS Voyager picked up secret Italian documents and she was ordered to proceed with these documents to Alexandria where she arrived in the second half of 30 June 1940. The destroyers HMAS Stuart (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, RAN) and HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, DSO, RN) proceeded to sea from Alexandria to join the hunt for other Italian submarines of which the patrol positions were mentioned in these secret documents. HMS Dainty had picked up 10 officers and 72 ratings from the Liuzzi and Uebi Scebelli. The destroyers continued their A/S sweep until 2000/30 but no further enemy submarines were encountered. (8)

9 Jul 1940

Operation MA 5 and the resulting battle of Punta Stilo on 9 July 1940.

The passage of convoys MF 1 (fast) and MS 1 (slow) from Malta to Alexandria with evacuees and fleet stores.

After the cancellation of Operation MA 3 a new plan to pass the convoys from Malta to Alexandria was made.

The Mediterranean Fleet, less HMS Ramillies and the 3rd Cruiser Squadron (HMS Caledon and HMS Capetown) departed Alexandria on 7 July 1940 to carry out operation MA 5, the object being to cover convoys MF 1 (fast) and MS 1 (slow) from Malta to Alexandria with evacuees and fleet stores.

The composition of these convoys were as follows:

Convoy MF 1, the fast convoy:
This convoy departed Malta on 9 July 1940 and arrived at Alexandria on 11 July 1940 and was made up of the Egyptian merchant El Nil (7775 GRT, built 1916), British merchants Knight of Malta (1553 GRT, built 1929), Rodi (3220 GRT, built 1928, former Italian).

Convoy MS 1, the slow convoy:
This convoy departed Malta on 10 July 1940 and arrived at Alexandria on 14 July 1940 and was made up of the British merchant ships Kirkland (1361 GRT, built 1934), Misirah (6836 GRT, built 1919), Tweed (2697 GRT, built 1926), Zeeland (2726 GRT, built 1930) and the Norwegian merchant Novasli (3194 GRT, built 1920).

Cover for these convoys was provided by ships of the Mediterranean Fleet which was divided into three groups:

Force A:
Light cruisers HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral J.C. Tovey, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN), HMS Gloucester (Capt. F.R. Garside, CBE, RN), HMS Liverpool (Capt. P.A. Read, RN) and HMAS Sydney (Capt. J.A. Collins, RAN) and the destroyer HMAS Stuart (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, RAN).

Force B:
Battleship HMS Warspite (Capt. D.B. Fisher, OBE, RN flying the flag of A/Admiral Sir A.B. Cunningham, KCB, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), destroyers HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN), HMS Mohawk (Cdr. J.W.M. Eaton, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN) and HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN).

Force C:
Battleships HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.D. Pridham-Whippell, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Malaya (Capt. Sir A.F.E. Palliser, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. A.R.M. Bridge, RN), destroyers HMS Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicholson, RN), HMS Hasty, (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, DSO, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC, RN), HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.deW. Kitcat, RN), HMS Dainty (Cdr. M.S. Thomas, RN), HMS Defender (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN), HMS Juno (Cdr. W.E. Wilson, RN), HMAS Vampire (Cdr. J.A. Walsh, RAN) and HMAS Voyager (Cdr. J.C. Morrow, RAN).

8 July 1940.

All forces were clear of the harbour by midnight during the night of 7/8 July 1940. All forces were to make rendez-vous in position 36°30’N, 17°40’E at 1400/10. HMS Liverpool, who was en-route from Port Said to Alexandria with spare 6" ammunition from the East Indies station, arrived at Alexandria at 0202 hours. She then quickly unloaded some of the 6" ammuntion and topped off with fuel. She departed Alexandria at 0520 hours to join her force at sea. HMS Imperial had to return to Alexandria with defects.

Shortly before midnight, at 2359 hours, HMS Hasty reported that she sighted a surfaced submarine at a range of 1000 yards. A full pattern depth charge attack was made an the submarine was thought to have been sunk. One hour later when about to rejoin Force C she carried out another attack on a confirmed contact. It was consided that this attack caused damage to another Italian submarine.

At 0807/8 a report was received from the submarine HMS Phoenix (Lt.Cdr. G.H. Nowell, RN) that she had sighted two enemy battleships escorted by four destroyers in position 35°23’N, 17°45’E, steering 180° at 0515/8. It was suspected that this force was covering an important enemy convoy. The Vice-Admiral, Malta, was ordered to arrange air reconnaissance to the eastward and to the Rear-Admiral, Alexandria to arrange for a flying boat to shadow this force. Two enemy submarines were sighted by A/S patrols from HMS Eagle.

The Italians were aware of the Mediterranean Fleet being at sea as the Fleet had been reported by the Italian submarine Beilul. This resulted in air attacks on the Fleet during the 8th.

Damage was done to HMS Gloucester which was hit on the compass platform causing seven officers to be killed and three wounded. Amongst the officers killed was the ships Captain. Besides the officers eleven ratings were killed and six were wounded.

At 1510/8 a flying boat reported a force of three battleships, six cruisers and seven destroyers in position 33°18’N, 19°45’E, steering 340°. At 1610 hours it was reported that this force had changed course to 070°. The flying boat that reported this force had to return to base at 1715 hours but no relief was available to continue shadowing. The Commander-in-Chief therefore, in the absence of further information, decided to continue the course of the Fleet to the north-westward in order to get between the enemy and his base. A mean line of advance of 310° at 20 knots was therefore maintained during the night.

9 July 1940.

There were no incidents during the night and at 0600 hours the Fleet was concentrated in position 36°55’N, 20°30’E. An air search by aircraft from HMS Eagle was commenced at dawn between 180° and 300°. Meanwhile a mean line of advance of 300° at 16 knots was maintained by the Fleet.

The first enemy report was received from a flying boat from Malta who reported two battleships, four cruisers and ten destroyers at 0732 hours in position 37°00’N, 17°00’E, steering 330° and subsequent reports showed that there was a further large force of cruisers and destroyers in the vicinity.

A second search by aircraft from HMS Eagle covered these positions and by 1130 hours it was considered that the enemy’s position was sufficiently well established to launch the air striking force. At this time the enemy fleet was approximately 90 miles to the westward of our forces. Unfortunately, touch with the enemy fleet was lost by the shadowing aircraft at this time and shortly afterwards it appears that the enemy turned to the southward. The striking force therefore failed to locate the enemy battlefleet, but carried out an attack on some cruisers at about 1330 hours without result.

Touch was regained with the enemy battleships at 1340 hours by a relief shadower from HMS Eagle and by a flying boat. The air striking force was flown of again at 1539 hours shortly after action was joined and they are believed to have scored one hit on a cruiser. All aircraft from HMS Eagle returned. In the meanwhile reports from shadowing aircraft show that the enemy force consisted of two battleships of the Cavour-class, twelve cruisers and twenty destroyers, and that they appeared to be keeping close to the coast of Calabria.

At 1400 hours the British Fleet as in position 38°02’N, 18°40’E. The 7th Cruiser Squadron was 8 nautical miles ahead of HMS Warspite, with HMS Royal Sovereign, HMS Eagle and HMS Malaya 10 nautical miles astern. Destroyers were screening these ships. The mean line of advance the Fleet was 270° the speed being limited by that of HMS Royal Sovereign. The Commander-in-Chief was obliged to use HMS Warspite as a battle cruiser to keep ahead of the battle Squadron, in order to support the cruisers, who being so few and lacking 8” ships, were very weak compared to the enemy’s cruiser force.

At 1510 hours the enemy, consisting of six 8” cruisers and a number of destroyers, was sighted steering about 020°. HMS Eagle and the 19th division (HMAS Stuart, HMAS Vampire and HMAS Voyager) were now detached from the 1st Battle Squadron and the damaged HMS Gloucester was ordered to join them. At 1514 hours HMS Neptune sighted the enemy battlefleet bearing 260° from HMS Warspite The ensuing action can best be described in five phases.

Phase 1.

A short action with enemy 8” and 6” cruisers in which our own cruisers were out ranged and came under a very heavy fire. HMS Warspite intervened and engaged successively two 8” and two 6” cruisers at long range, which after a few salvos turned away. One hit might have been obtained on a 8” cruiser.

Phase 2.

After a short lull, during which HMS Warspite fell back on HMS Malaya who was now proceeding ahead of HMS Royal Sovereign. HMS Warspite and HMS Malaya then engaged two battleships of the Cavour-class at 1553 hours. HMS Warspite was straddled at 26000 yards and she herself scored a hit on one of the enemy battleships (the Guilio Cesare). The enemy then turned away making smoke. HMS Malaya was outranged and by now HMS Royal Sovereign was now well astern and never got into action. The 7th Cruiser Squadron continued their action with the enemy cruisers, who appeared to be working round to the north with the intention of engaging HMS Eagle. They were driven off with the assistance of a few salvoes from HMS Warspite.

Phase 3.

Enemy destroyers moved out to attack, but half heartedly, and made a large volumes of smoke which soon obscured the larger targets. Destroyers were now ordered to counter attack the enemy destroyers, in which they were assisted by the 7th Cruiser Squadron, but before the range could be closed sufficiently to do damage to them the enemy retired behind their extensive smoke screen.

Phase 4.

The British fleet chased up the smoke but, appreciating that to pass through it would be playing the enemy’s game, and suspecting that enemy submarines might be in the vicinity, the Commander-in-Chief worked round to the northward and windward of the screen. When clear, all enemy forces were out of sight and air attacks had started. The British fleet was now (1652 hours) only 45 miles from the coast of Calabria and continued on a westerly course until within 25 miles of the Punta Stilo lighthouse.

Phase 5.

A succession of heavy bombing attacks were carried out between 1640 and 1912 hours. At least nine distinct bombing attacks were made and it is estimated that probably some 100 aircraft took part. Many attacks were made on HMS Eagle, but the fleet suffered no damage. Between 1640 and 1740 hours the fleet made good a course of 270° and from 1740 hours of 220°, this latter course being selected in the hope that the enemy would renew the fight. At 1830 hours it became clear that the enemy could not be intercepted before reaching Messina and course was altered to the south-eastward to open the land, turning back at 2115 hours to 220° for a position south of Malta.

During the action one of the aircraft from HMS Warspite was damaged by gun blast of her own gunfire and had to be jettisoned. The other aircraft was catapulted for action observation. After this mission was completed the aircraft landed at Malta. During the night there were no incidents.

10 July 1940.

At 0800 hours, the fleet was in position 35°24’N, 15°27’E, steering west, and remained cruising to the southward of Malta throughout the day while destroyers were sent there to refuel. The following fuelling programme was carried out. At 0530 hours the following destroyers arrived at Malta; HMAS Stuart, HMS Dainty, HMS Defender, HMS Hyperion, HMS Hostile, HMS Hasty, HMS Ilex and HMS Juno. After they had fuelled they sailed again at 1115 hours and rejoined the fleet at 1525 hours.

HMS Hero, HMS Hereward, HMS Decoy, HMAS Vampire and HMAS Voyager were then sent in, the last three to sail with convoy MS 1 after fuelling.

At 2030 hours, HMS Royal Sovereign with HMS Nubian, HMS Mohawk and HMS Janus were detached to refuel and to rejoin the fleet before noon the next day.

HMS Gloucester and HMAS Stuart were detached to join convoy MF 1, which had been sailed from Malta at 2300/9 escorted by HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO, RN), HMS Diamond (Lt.Cdr. P.A. Cartwright, RN) and HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades RAN).

In the morning an air raid took place at Malta at 0855 hours. Three or four of the attackers were shot down. Destroyers that were fuelling at Malta were not hit.

Flying boat reconnaissance of Augusta had located three cruisers and eight destroyers in harbour and at 1850 hours a strike force was flown off from HMS Eagle to carry out a dust attack. Unfortunately the enemy forces left harbour before the attack force arrived. One flight however located a Navigatori class destroyer in a small bay to the northward, which was sunk, this was the Leone Pancaldo which was later raised and repaired. The other flight did not drop their torpedoes. All aircraft landed safely at Malta.

At 2100 hours the position of the fleet was 35°28’N, 14°30’E, steering 180°. There were no incidents during the night.

In view of the heavy bombing attacks experienced during the last three days, the Commander-in-Chief has requested the Air Officer Commander-in-Chief, Middle East, to do anything possible to occupy the Italian air forces during the passage of the fleet and the convoys to Alexandria.

11 July 1940.

At 0130 hours, the fleet altered course to 000° to be in position 35°10’N, 15°00’E at 0800 hours. HMS Royal Sovereign with HMS Hero, HMS Hereward, HMS Nubian, HMS Mohawk and HMS Janus rejoined from Malta at this time, and HMS Eagle landed on her striking force from Malta.

At 0900 hours the Commander-in-Chief in HMS Warspite, screened by HMS Nubian, HMS Mohawk, HMS Juno and HMAS Vampire, proceeded ahead to return to Alexandria at 19 knots. The Rear-Admiral, First Battle Squadron, in HMS Royal Sovereign , with HMS Malaya and HMS Eagle and the remaining destroyers, proceeded on a mean line of advance of 80° at 12 knots to cover the passage of the convoys. The 7th Cruiser Squadron had already been detached at 2000/10 to search to the eastward in the wake of convoy MF 1.

The fleet was again subjected to heavy bombing attacks. Between 1248 and 1815 hours, five attacks were made on HMS Warspite and her escorting destroyers. A total of 66 bombs were counted. Between 1112 and 1834 hours, twelve attacks were carried out on forces in company with Rear-Admiral First Battle Squadron, a total of about 120 bombs were dropped. No damage was sustained. It was noted that the fleet was shadowed by aircraft who homed in attacking aircraft.

At 1200 hours, HMAS Vampire was sighted. She reported that her Gunner had been badly wounded in an air attack made on convoy MS 1 at 1015 hours. The officer was transferred to HMS Mohawk for treatment but died aboard that ship later the same day.

At 2100 hours, HMS Warspite was in position 34°22’N, 19°17’E steering 110°.

12 July 1940.

There had been no incidents during the night. Course was altered to 070° at 0200 hours and to 100° at 0630 hours. Course was altered from time to time during the day to throw off shadowers and attacking aircraft.

At 0700 hours, Vice-Admiral (D) with the 7th Cruiser Squadron rejoined the Commander-in-Chief. Vice-Admiral (D) in HMS Orion, together with HMS Neptune was detached to join convoy MF 1.

The following bombing attacks took place during the day; Between 0850 and 1550 hours, seventeen attacks were made on HMS Warspite. About 160 bombs were dropped but none hit although there were several near misses. On the First Battle Squadron and HMS Eagle between 1110 and 1804 hours, three attacks were made, 25 bombs were dropped but none hit.

13 July 1940.

HMS Warspite, HMS Orion, HMS Neptune, HMS Liverpool, HMAS Sydney, HMS Nubian, HMS Mohawk, HMS Juno and HMAS Vampire arrived at Alexandria around 0600 hours. Convoy MF 1 and it’s escort (HMS Jervis, HMS Diamond and HMAS Vendetta) arrived during the forenoon. HMS Gloucester had detached from the convoy around 0400 hours and had already arrived at Alexandria around 0800 hours. This convoy had been unmolested during it’s passage from Malta to Alexandria.

HMS Ramillies (Capt. H.T. Baillie-Grohman, OBE, DSO, RN) then departed Alexandria to join the escort of convoy MS 1 escorted by HMS Diamond, HMS Havock (Lt.Cdr. R.E. Courage, DSO, RN), HMS Imperial and HMAS Vendetta. The two cruisers from the 3rd Cruiser Squadron, HMS Caledon (Capt. C.P. Clarke, RN) and HMS Capetown (Capt. T.H. Back, RN), had already left Alexandria on the 12th to join the escort of convoy MS 1.

14 July 1940.

The 1st Battle Squadron, HMS Eagle and their escorting destroyers arrived at Alexandria in the forenoon. They reported very heavy bombing attacks of the Libyan coast. Three enemy aircraft were reported shot down by fighters from HMS Eagle while a fourth was thought to be heavily damaged.

15 July 1940.

Convoy MS 1, HMS Ramillies, HMS Caledon, HMS Capetown, HMS Diamond, HMS Havock, HMS Imperial, HMAS Vendetta, HMS Decoy, HMAS Vampire and HMAS Voyager arrived at Alexandria before noon.

Italian forces involved in the battle of Punta Stilo.

On 6 July 1940 an important Italian troop convoy departed Naples for Benghazi, Libya. This convoy was made up of the troopship Esperia (11398 GRT, built 1920) and the transports Calitea (4013 GRT, built 1933), Marco Foscarini (6338 GRT, built 1940), Vettor Pisani (6339 GRT, built 1939). Escort was provided by the torpedo boats Orsa, Pegaso, Procione and Orione. The next day this convoy was joined by the transport Francesco Barbaro (6343 GRT, built 1940) that came from Catania and was escorted by the torpedo boats Giuseppe Cesare Abba and Rosolino Pilo. Cover for this convoy was provided by the light cruisers Giovanni Delle Bande Nere and Bartolomeo Colleoni and the destroyers Maestrale, Libeccio, Grecale and Scirocco.

This cover force was joined on 7 July by the heavy cruiser Pola and the destroyers Lanciere, Carabinieri, Corazziere and Ascari which came from Augusta.

From Messina came the heavy cruisers Zara, Fiume, Gorizia and the destroyers Vittorio Alfieri, Giosuè Carducci, Vincenzo Gioberti and Alfredo Oriani.

From Messina (these ships departed shortly after the other ships) came also the heavy cruisers Bolzano and Trento and the destroyers Artigliere, Camicia Nera, Aviere and Geniere.

From Palermo came the light cruisers Eugenio di Savoia, Emanuelle Filiberto Duca D’Aosta, Muzio Attendolo and Raimondo Montecuccoli with the destroyers Granatiere, Fuceliere, Bersagliere and Alpino.

From Taranto came the battleships Gulio Cesare (flagship) and Conte di Cavour with the dstroyers Freccia, Saetta, Dardo and Strale.

Also from Taranto came the light cruisers Giuseppe Garibaldi and Luigi di Savoia Duca delgi Abruzzi with the destroyers Folgore, Fulmine, Baleno and Lampo.

And finally, also from Taranto, came the light cruisers Armando Diaz, Luigi Cadorna, Alberto di Giussano, Alberico di Barbiano and the destroyers Antonio Pigafetta, Nicolò Zeno, Nicoloso Da Recco, Emanuelle Pessagno and Antoniotto Usodimare. Later the destroyers Ugolino Vivaldi, Antonio Da Noli and Leone Pancaldo were sent out as reinforements.

The destroyers Stale, Dardo and Antonio da Noli developed mechanical problems and had to return to port for repairs.

During the battle with the Mediterranean Fleet the following ships sustained damage;
Battleship Gulio Cesare was hit by a heavy shell from HMS Warspite, heavy cruiser Bolzano sustained three medium shell hits. As stated earlier the destroyer Leone Pancaldo was sunk off Augusta by aircraft from HMS Eagle but was later raised and repaired.

The Italian convoy meanwhile had arrived at Benghazi without losses on 8 July. (8)

31 Jul 1940

Operation Hurry

Transfer of twelve Hurricane fighters and two Skua aircraft to Malta, air attack on Cagliari, minelaying in Cagliari Bay by Force H and diversion in the Eastern Mediterranean by the Mediterranean Fleet.

Operations of Force H.

At 0800 hours on 31 August 1940, Force H, consisting of the battlecruiser HMS Hood (Capt. I.G. Glennie, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, DSO, RN), battleship HMS Valiant (Capt. H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Ark Royal (Capt. C.S. Holland, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Argus (Capt. H.C. Bovell, RN), light cruisers HMS Arethusa (Capt. Q.D. Graham, RN), HMS Enterprise (Capt. J.C.A. Annesley, DSO, RN) and escorted by the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN), HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN), HMS Foxhound (Lt.Cdr. G.H. Peters, RN), HMS Hotspur (Cdr. H.F.H Layman, DSO, RN), HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN), HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.R. Marshall A'Deane, DSC, RN), HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St.J. Morgan, RN), HMS Escapade (Cdr. H.R. Graham, RN) and HMS Velox (Cdr.(Retd.) J.C. Colvill, RN). sailed from Gibraltar.

Passage eastward was uneventful until at 1749/1 eight Italian aircraft were seen coming in to attack in position 37.34’N, 04.10’E. The aircraft turned away before they reached a favourable attack position. A few minutes later a second wave of nine aircraft was seen coming in but this attack was also not pressed home with determination and no hits were obtained. Some 80 bombs in all were dropped and only a few near misses were obtained on HMS Ark Royal and HMS Forester.

At 2045/1 the attack force for Cagliari was detached. This force was made up of HMS Hood, HMS Ark Royal, HMS Enterprise, HMS Faulknor, HMS Foresight, HMS Forester and HMS Foxhound. They proceeded at 20 knots towards position 38.30’N, 07.00’E where the striking force from HMS Ark Royal was to be flown off.

The remaining ships of Force H also proceeded eastwards to fly off the aircraft for Malta from HMS Argus at dawn. The position where the aircraft were to be launched depended on the latest weather reports coming in from Malta.

At 2130/1, HMS Enterprise, was detached by the attack force to create a diversion and intercept a Vichy-French ship en-route from Algiers to Marseilles.

At 0200/2, HMS Ark Royal and the destroyers proceeded ahead and aircraft were launched at 0230 hours. Twelve aircraft were launched, nine carried bombs and three carried mines. One of the aircraft crashed on taking off. Due to a misunderstanding the crew was not picked up and was lost.

In the air attacks direct hits were reported four hangars, two of which were reported to burn fiercely. At least four aircraft which were parked in the open were reported to have been destroyed in addition to those in the hangars. Many aerodrome buildings were destroyed or damaged. Three mines were laid inside Cagliari harbour. One Swordfish aircraft made a forced landing on an Italian airfield and the crew was made prisoner of war.

After flying of the air striking force the group of which HMS Ark Royal was part turned to the southward to rejoin the other ships of Force H which had in the meantime also proceeded eastwards and adjusted speed to be in position 37.40’N, 07.20’E at 0445/2. Two flights of one Skua and six Hurricane’s each were launched from HMS Argus at 0515/2 and 0600/2. The two groups of ships from Force H sighted each other at 0520/2 and then made rendez-vous which was effected at 0815/2. All aircraft launched by HMS Argus reached Malta but one of the Hurricane’s crashed on lading.

At 0930/3, HMS Arethusa, was detached to search for the Vichy French ship HMS Enterprise was also searching for. They both failed to intercept this ship. HMS Enterprise was to the north of Minorca and was in supporting distance from Force H and was therefore ordered to proceed to Gibraltar passing west of the Baleares. HMS Arethusa rejoined force H before dark on the 3rd.

HMS Ark Royal, escorted by HMS Hotspur, HMS Encounter and HMS Escapade, were detached as to arrive at Gibraltar before dark on the 3rd. The remainder of Force H arrived at Gibraltar around dawn on the 4th.

Diversions by the Mediterranean Fleet in the eastern Mediterranean. Operation MA 9.

At 0600/31, light cruisers HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN), HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN), HMAS Sydney (Capt. J.A. Collins, CB, RAN) and destroyers HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN), HMS Juno (Cdr. W.E. Wilson, RN) and ORP Garland (Lt. A. Doroszkowski, ORP) departed Alexandria for an anti-shipping raid / contraband control in the Gulf of Athens area. They were to pass through the Kaso Strait and arrived off the Doro Channel at dawn on 1 August. They then exercises contraband control during the day in the Gulf of Athens area retiring to the westward between Cape Malea and Agria Grabusa at dusk. After dark they returned to the Aegean to exercise contraband control on 2 August. They returned to Alexandria in the evening of 3 August 1940.

A cover force went to sea around 1420 hours, this force was made up of the battleships HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN), HMS Malaya (Capt. A.F.E. Palliser, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.D. Pridham-Whippell, CB, CVO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. A.R.M. Bridge, RN). They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Hostile (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC, RN) and HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.deW. Kitcat, RN) and HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, RAN). They carried out exercises and then proceeded westwards towards Gavdos Island to the south of Crete. Due to engine problems in HMS Malaya the cover force returned to Alexandria late on the the morning of August 1st. (9)

11 Aug 1940
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) departed Alexandria for Port Said. She was escorted by HMS Dainty (Cdr. M.S. Thomas, RN), HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, RN) and HMS Defender (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN).

HMS Royal Sovereign was to proceed to South Africa for repairs and refit. (8)

12 Aug 1940
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN), HMS Dainty (Cdr. M.S. Thomas, RN), HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, RN) and HMS Defender (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN) arrived at Port Said. They then passed the Suez Canal and departed for Aden later the same day. (10)

16 Aug 1940
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN), HMS Dainty (Cdr. M.S. Thomas, RN), HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, RN) and HMS Defender (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN) arrived at Aden.

After fuelling the destroyers departed Aden for Suez later the same day.

HMS Royal Sovereign had to remain at Aden for repairs to her boilers before she was able to continue to Durban, South Africa. (11)

29 Aug 1940
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) departed Aden for Durban. (10)

15 Sep 1940
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) arrived at Durban, South Africa where she was taken in hand for refit. She was immediately docked. (12)

2 Oct 1940
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) is undocked. She then continued her refit at Durban. (13)

23 Oct 1940
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) departed Durban for Capetown. (13)

26 Oct 1940
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) arrived at Capetown. She departed Capetown for Freetown later the same day. (13)

4 Nov 1940
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) arrived at Freetown. (14)

5 Nov 1940
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) departed Freetown to provide cover along with HMS Dragon (Capt. R.W. Shaw, MBE, RN) for the armed merchant cruiser HMS Moreton Bay (A/Capt. E.M. Haes, RN) which was en-route to Freetown with the Vichy French transport Cuba (11420 GRT, built 1923) which she had intercepted on 31 October 1940 while it was en-route from Martinique to Casablanca. (15)

6 Nov 1940
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) returned to Freetown due to machinery problems. (15)

10 Nov 1940
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) departed Freetown for Gibraltar. En-route she was to provide cover for convoys SLS 54 and SL 54. (15)

16 Nov 1940
In the early afternoon, HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN), made rendezvous with her escorts towards Gibraltar, HMS Vidette (Lt. E.N. Walmsley, RN) and HMS Wrestler (Lt.Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, RN). (14)

18 Nov 1940
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN), HMS Vidette (Lt. E.N. Walmsley, RN) and HMS Wrestler (Lt.Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, RN) arrived at Gibraltar. (16)

1 Dec 1940
At 1800 hours, the battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) departed Gibraltar for Halifax. She was being escorted by the destroyers HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) and HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN). (17)

2 Dec 1940
At 0936 hours (Italian time), the Italian submarine Mocenigo sighted a destroyer at 9000-10000 metres and altered course to attack. At 0954 hours, the destroyer apparently had also discovered the submarine and turned toward her. Mocenigo crash dived to 100 metres. The destroyer dropped four depth-charges at 1000 hours, two at 1006, three at 1014, eleven at 1018, fourteen at 1025, three at 1031 and three more at 1037 hours, but the submarine escaped damage although HMS Kelvin reported air bubbles and oil in position 36°02'N, 09°42'W. This was HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) which was escorting the battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) together with HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN). The surfaced submarine had been sighted by the battleship at a range of 8 nautical miles.

4 Dec 1940
At 0100 hours, HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) and HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) parted company with HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN).

The battleship continued it's passage to Halifax while the destroyers set course to return to Gibraltar. (17)

10 Dec 1940
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) arrived at Halifax. (17)

15 Dec 1940

Convoy SC 16.

This convoy departed Halifax on 15 December 1940 for Liverpool where it arrived on 31 December 1940.

Upon departure from Halifax the convoy was made up of the following merchant ships: Aeas (Greek, 4729 GRT, built 1915), Anglo Peruvian (British, 5457 GRT, built 1926), Ashby (British, 4868 GRT, built 1927), Boltonhall (British, 4824 GRT, built 1935), Erica (Norwegian, 1592 GRT, built 1919), Frumenton (British, 6675 GRT, built 1930), Hartington (British, 5496 GRT, built 1932), Loke (Norwegian, 2421 GRT, built 1915), Lorca (British, 4875 GRT, built 1931), Pandias (Greek, 4981 GRT, built 1912), Scottish Standard (British (tanker), 6999 GRT, built 1921), Shaftesbury (British, 4284 GRT, built 1923), Sirikishna (British, 5458 GRT, built 1936), Spind (Norwegian, 2197 GRT, built 1917) and Swinburne (British, 4659 GRT, built 1917).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was not escorted. It was joined the next day, the 16th, by the battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN).

The battleship parted company with the convoy on 23 December 1940.

On 29 December the destroyers HMS Active (A/Cdr. E.C.L. Turner, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. R.T. White, DSO, RN), HMS Georgetown (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Poe, RN), corvettes HMS Heather (Cdr.(Retd.) J.G.C. Gibson, RN), HMS Picotee ( Lt.Cdr. N.C.H. Scallan, RNR) and the A/S trawler HMS Lady Madeleine (T/Lt. P.H. Potter, RNR) joined the convoy. The destroyers parted company the next day while the other escorted remained with the convoy until it arrived at Liverpool.

16 Dec 1940
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) departed Halifax to overtake and join convoy SC 16 and to act as ocean escort.

She was also to provide cover for convoys HX 96 and HX 97 which crossed the Atlantic around the same time.

[For more info convoy SC 16 see the event ' Convoy SC 16 ' for 15 December 1940.] (18)

24 Dec 1940
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) made rendezvous with the troopship Leopoldville (Belgian, 11509 GRT, built 1929) to escort it to Halifax. (17)

28 Dec 1940
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) arrived at Halifax escorting the troopship Leopoldville (Belgian, 11509 GRT, built 1929). (17)

15 Jan 1941

Convoy HX 103.

This convoy departed Halifax on 15 January 1941 for Liverpool where it arrived on 1 February 1941.

Upon departure from Halifax the convoy was made up of the following merchant ships: Botusk (British, 3091 GRT, built 1919), Emmaplein (Dutch, 5436 GRT, built 1926), Gandia (Belgian, 9629 GRT, built 1907), Gard (Norwegian (tanker), 8259 GRT, built 1938), Jean Jadot (Belgian, 5859 GRT, built 1929), King William (British, 5274 GRT, built 1928) and Trehata (British, 4817 GRT, built 1928).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN), the destroyer HMCS Restigouche (Cdr. H.N. Lay, OBE, RN) and the corvette HMCS Arrowhead (T/Lt. V.H. Torraville, RCNR).

The destroyer and the corvette parted company with the convoy on the 16th and returned to Halifax.

On 18 January convoy BHX 103 coming from Bermuda merged with convoy HX 103. Convoy BHX 103 had been made up of the merchant vessels Athelfoam (British (tanker), 6554 GRT, built 1931), Dolabella (British (tanker), 8142 GRT, built 1939), Empire Shearwater (British, 4970 GRT, built 1920), Mamura (Dutch (tanker), 8245 GRT, built 1932) and Mijdrecht (Dutch (tanker), 7493 GRT, built 1931). It had departed Bermuda on 13 January 1941 and had been escorted to the rendez-vous position by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Montclare (Capt.(Retd.) H.M. Spreckley, RN) which was then detached.

The battleship parted company with the convoy on 26 January and then returned to Halifax.

On 27 January 1941 the destroyer HMS Vanquisher (Lt. A.P. Northey, DSC, RN) and corvettes HMS Gentian (Lt.Cdr. R.O. Yeomans, RD, RNR) and HMS Verbena (Lt.Cdr. D.A. Rayner, DSC, RNVR) joined the convoy but they were detached later the same day. On 28 January 1941 the destroyers HMS Viscount (Lt.Cdr. M.S. Townsend, OBE, DSC, RN), HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN) and HMS Winchelsea (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, RN) joined the convoy. They were detached on 31 January 1941.

The convoy arrived at Liverpool on 1 February 1941, apparently unescorted.

Two merchant vessels were lost when the convoy ran into the British minefield SN 2 (north-west of Rona Island, in approximate position 59°08'N, 05°52'W) on 31 January 1941. These were the Botusk and Emmaplein.

1 Feb 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) arrived at Halifax from escort duty. (19)

17 Feb 1941

Convoy TC 9.

This troop convoy departed Halifax on 17 February 1941 and arrived in the Clyde on 27 February 1941.

Is was made up of the troopships: Dempo (Dutch, 17024 GRT, built 1931), Duchess of York (British, 20021 GRT, built 1929), Johan van Oldenbarneveld (Dutch, 19429 GRT, built 1930), Orontes (British, 20097 GRT, built 1925) and Warwick Castle (British, British, 20107 GRT, built 1930).

On departure from Halifax it was escorted by the battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) and the armed merchant cruiser HMS Wolfe (A/Capt.(Retd.) W.G.A. Shuttleworth, RN).

HMS Wolfe was detached on 18 February 1941.

On 20 February the light cruiser HMS Edinburgh (Capt. C.M. Blackman, DSO, RN) departed Scapa Flow to join the convoy, She relieved HMS Royal Sovereign on 23 February which then returned to Halifax arriving on 28 February. On 24 February the destroyers HMCS Assiniboine (A/Lt.Cdr. J.H. Stubbs, RCN), HMCS Ottawa (Cdr. E.R. Mainguy, RCN), HMCS Restigouche (Cdr. H.N. Lay, OBE, RN) and HMS Havelock (Cdr. E.H. Thomas, DSC, RN) joined the convoy. HMS Havelock was detached on 25 February. The three Canadian destroyers remained with the convoy until 26 February.

On the 25 February, light cruiser HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, RN) and the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN), HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. C.H.deB. Newby, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN) and Léopard (Lt.Cdr. J. Evenou) joined the convoy; Léopard already being detached later on the 25th. Destroyer HMS Mistral (Cdr. C.H. Brooks, RAN) joined the convoy on the 26th. Destroyer HMS Churchill (Cdr.(Retd.) G.R. Cousins, RN) also escorted the convoy in the Western Approaches. The convoy reached the Minches in the evening of 26 February. Light cruiser HMS Edinburg with the destroyers HMS Inglefield, HMS Echo and HMS Eclipse then proceeded to Scapa Flow arriving at 0100/27.

Light cruiser HMS Aurora with the destroyers Mistral and HMS Churchill took the convoy into the Clyde and arrived at Greenock on the 27th.

28 Feb 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) arrived at Halifax from escort duty. (19)

2 Mar 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) departed Halifax for Bermuda. (20)

5 Mar 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) arrived at Bermuda. (20)

6 Mar 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) and HMS Worcestershire (A/Capt. J. Creswell, RN) conducted gunnery exercises off Bermuda. (20)

7 Mar 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) conducted AA gunnery exercises off Bermuda and then departed for patrol in the North Atlantic to provide cover for Atlantic convoys. (20)

19 Mar 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) returned to Halifax. (20)

21 Mar 1941

Convoy HX 116.

This convoy departed Halifax on 21 March 1941 for Liverpool where it arrived on 9 April 1941.

Upon departure from Halifax the convoy was made up of the following merchant ships: Anna Knudsen (Norwegian (tanker), 9057 GRT, built 1931), Birgitte (British, 1595 GRT, built 1930), British Dominion (British (tanker), 6983 GRT, built 1928), British Prince (British, 4879 GRT, built 1935), Coulbeg (British, 5237 GRT, built 1940), Duke of Athens (British, 5217 GRT, built 1940), Ferncastle (British (tanker), 9940 GRT, built 1936), Gregalia (British, 5802 GRT, built 1929), Grey County (Norwegian, 5194 GRT, built 1918), Haakon Hauan (Norwegian (tanker), 6582 GRT, built 1935), Hercules (Dutch, 2317 GRT, built 1914), Iddesleigh (British, 5205 GRT, built 1927), Innerton (British, 5276 GRT, built 1919), Kaipara (British, 5882 GRT, built 1938), Lyras (Greek, 5685 GRT, built 1918), Mahout (British, 7921 GRT, built 1925), Mariso (Dutch, 7659 GRT, built 1930), Murena (Dutch (tanker), 8252 GRT, built 1931), Nellie (Greek, 4826 GRT, built 1913), Pacific Shipper (British, 6290 GRT, built 1924), Port Campbell (British, 7851 GRT, built 1924), Richmond Hill (British, 7579 GRT, built 1940), San Arcadio (British (tanker), 7419 GRT, built 1935), San Florentino (British (tanker), 12842 GRT, built 1919), Sovac (British (tanker), 6724 GRT, built 1938), Stanwell (British, 5767 GRT, built 1914), Tetela (British, 5389 GRT, built 1926) and Tornus (British (tanker), 8054 GRT, built 1936).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Ausonia (Capt.(Retd.) G.H. Freyberg, OBE, RN).

On 23 March the battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) joined the convoy.

On 31 March HMS Royal Sovereign parted company with the convoy.

On 4 March 1941 HMS Ausonia parted company with the convoy after the destroyers HMS Ambuscade (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Fell, RN), HMS Bulldog (Cdr. A.J.B. Cresswell, RN), HMS Vanquisher (Cdr. N.V. Dickinson, DSC, RN) and corvettes HMS Campanula (Lt.Cdr. R.V.E. Case, DSC and Bar, RD, RNR), HMS Freesia (Lt.Cdr. T.P.G. Crick, RN), HMS Heartsease (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) F.B. Proudfoot, RN), HMS Pimpernel (Lt. F.H. Thornton, RNR)and A/S trawler HMS St. Apollo (T/Lt. R.H. Marchington, RNVR) had joined. The destroyer HMS Winchelsea (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, RN) joined on 5 April. The destroyer HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN) and corvette HMS Orchis (Lt. A.D. White, RNR)both joined on 6 April. HMS Orchis was detached on 7 April.

The convoy arrived at Liverpool on 9 April.

7 Apr 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) arrived at Halifax after convoy escort duty. (21)

9 Apr 1941

Convoy SC 28.

This convoy departed Halifax on 9 April for Liverpool where it arrived on 28 April 1941.

Upon departure from Halifax the convoy was made up of the following merchant ships: Aeas (Greek, 4729 GRT, built 1915), Akabahra (Norwegian, 1524 GRT, built 1929), Aldington Court (British, 4891 GRT, built 1929), Almenara (British, 1851 GRT, built 1922), Anna Bulgaris (Greek, 4603 GRT, built 1912), Armathia (British, 4683 GRT, built 1919), Baron Inchcape (British, 7005 GRT, built 1917), Beckenham (British, 4636 GRT, built 1937), Bernhard (Norwegian, 3563 GRT, built 1924), Bosworth (British, 6672 GRT, built 1919), Bristol City (British, 2864 GRT, built 1920), Buccinum (British (tanker), 5237 GRT, built 1910), Cressdene (British, 4270 GRT, built 1936), Despina (Greek, 3016 GRT, built 1907), Embassage (British, 4954 GRT, built 1935), Euthalia (Greek, 3553 GRT, built 1918), Georgios P. (Greek, 4052 GRT, built 1903), Gezina (Norwegian, 1828 GRT, built 1917), Gullpool (British, 4868 GRT, built 1928), Katvaldis (British, 3163 GRT, built 1907), King Stephen (British, 5274 GRT, built 1928), Kisnop (British, 5874 GRT, built 1919), Manatee (British, 5948 GRT, built 1920), Matronna (Greek, 2846 GRT, built 1902), Navarino (British, 4841 GRT, built 1937), Niceto de Larrinaga (British, 5591 GRT, built 1916), Prins Willem van Oranje (Dutch, 1303 GRT, built 1918), Rossum (Dutch, 2118 GRT, built 1928), Runswick (British, 3970 GRT, built 1930), Sildra (Norwegian (tanker), 7313 GRT, built 1927), Trojan Star (British, 9037 GRT, built 1936), Wellfield (British (tanker), 6054 GRT, built 1924) and West Amargosa (British, 5462 GRT, built 1919).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Chitral (Capt.(Retd. G. Hamilton, RN). Submarine HMS Talisman (Lt. M. Willmott, RN) joined the escort on the 11th. Battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) joined the convoy on the 13th and was detached on the 20th as was HMS Talisman. HMS Chitral was detached on the 21st.

On 24 April 1941 the destroyer HMS Scimitar (Lt. R.D. Franks, OBE, RN), corvettes HMS Dianthus (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) C.E. Bridgman, RNR), HMS Mallow (Lt.Cdr. W.B. Piggott, RNR), HMS Marigold (T/Lt. J. Renwick, RNR), HMS Nasturtium (Lt.Cdr. J.F.C. Bartley, DSC, RNR), HMS Periwinkle (Lt.Cdr. P.G. MacIver, RNR)), HMS Primrose (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) A. Ayre, RNR) and the minesweepers HMS Bramble (Capt. M.H. Evelegh, RN), HMS Hazard (Lt.Cdr. J.R.A. Seymour, RN) and HMS Speedy (Lt. J.G. Brookes, RN) joined the convoy. The minesweepers departed later the same day. On the 26th, corvette HMS Mallow was detached. The destroyer HMS Wanderer (Cdr. A.F.St.G. Orpen, RN) joined on the 27th.

The convoy arrived at Liverpool on the 28th.

11 Apr 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) departed Halifax to overtake and join convoy SC 28 and to act as ocean escort.

[For more info convoy SC 28 see the event ' Convoy SC 28 ' for 9 April 1941.]

26 Apr 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) returned to Halifax from escort duty. (21)

30 Apr 1941

Convoy HX 124.

This convoy departed Halifax on 30 April 1941 for Liverpool where it arrived on 20 May 1941.

Upon departure from Halifax the convoy was made up of the following merchant ships: Aalsum (Dutch, 5418 GRT, built 1922), Alchiba (British, 4427 GRT, built 1920), Algenib (British, 5483 GRT, built 1937), Asbjorn (British, 4387 GRT, built 1935), Athelviscount (British (tanker), 8882 GRT, built 1929), Atlantian (British, 6549 GRT, built 1928), Auditor (British, 5444 GRT, built 1924), Baron Ogilvy (British, 3391 GRT, built 1926), Barrington Court (British, 4910 GRT, built 1924), Beaconstreet (British (tanker), 7467 GRT, built 1927), Botavon (British, 5848 GRT, built 1912), British Faith (British (tanker), 6955 GRT, built 1928), British Fortune (British (tanker), 4696 GRT, built 1930), British Industry (British (tanker), 4297 GRT, built 1927), British Resolution (British (tanker), 8408 GRT, built 1937), Charlton Hall (British, 5200 GRT, built 1940), Daytonian (British, 6434 GRT, built 1922), Delphinula (British (tanker), 8120 GRT, built 1939), Echodale (British (tanker), 8150 GRT, built 1941), Empire Hawk (British, 5033 GRT, built 1919), Empire Steel (British (tanker), 8138 GRT, built 1941), Gitano (British, 3956 GRT, built 1921), Harmala (British, 5730 GRT, built 1935), King Lud (British, 5224 GRT, built 1928), Kingswood (British, 5080 GRT, built 1929), Korsholm (Swedish, 2647 GRT, built 1925), Madrono (Norwegian (tanker), 5894 GRT, built 1917), Morska Wola (Polish, 3208 GRT, built 1924), Pacific Enterprise (British, 6736 GRT, built 1927), Pomella (British (tanker), 6766 GRT, built 1937), Queen City (British, 4814 GRT, built 1924), Redgate (British, 4323 GRT, built 1929), Souliotis (Greek, 4299 GRT, built 1917), Varand (British (tanker), 6023 GRT, built 1927), Vera Radcliffe (British, 5587 GRT, built 1925), Vivi (Norwegian (tanker), 6546 GRT, built 1932) and Wearwood (British, 4597 GRT, built 1930).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Circassia (A/Capt. E.V. Lees, RN) and the corvettes HMCS Cobalt (T/A/Lt.Cdr. R.B. Campbell, RCNR) and HMCS Collingwood (T/Lt. W. Woods, RCNR). The corvettes were detached later the same day.

On 2 May the convoy was joined by the battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN). She detached from the convoy on 9 May.

On 11 May the destroyer HMS Broadway (Lt.Cdr. T. Taylor, RN) and corvettes HMS Aubretia (Lt.Cdr. V.F. Smith, RNR), HMS Hollyhock (Lt. T.E. Davies, OBE, RNR) and HMS Nigella (T/Lt. T.W. Coyne, RNR) joined the convoy

On 12 May the destroyers HMS Burwell (Lt.Cdr. S.R.J. Woods, RNR), HMS Scimitar (Lt. R.D. Franks, OBE, RN), HMS Malcolm (Cdr. C.D. Howard-Johnston, DSC, RN), HMS Watchman (Lt.Cdr. E.C.L. Day, RN), HMS Amazon (Lt.Cdr. N.E.G. Roper, RN), corvettes HMS Heliotrope (Lt.Cdr. J. Jackson, RNR), HMS Mallow (Lt.Cdr. W.B. Piggott, RNR), HMS Violet (Lt.Cdr. K.M. Nicholson, RNR), and A/S trawlers HMS Northern Gem (Skr.Lt. W.J.V. Mullender, DSC, RNR), HMS Northern Wave (T/Lt. W.G. Pardoe-Matthews, RNR), HMS Notts County (T/S.Lt. R.H. Hampton, RNR) and HMS Vizalma (T/Lt. M.M. Firth, RNVR) joined the convoy.

On 14 May the corvettes HMS Anemone (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Boys-Smith, DSO and Bar, RD, RNR), HMS Clarkia (Lt.Cdr. F.J.G. Jones, RNR), HMS Verbena (Lt.Cdr. D.A. Rayner, DSC, RNVR) and HMS Veronica (Lt.Cdr. (retired) D.F. White, RNR) joined the convoy.

The destroyers HMS Burwell, HMS Scimitar, HMS Malcolm, corvettes HMS Aubretia, HMS Heliotrope, HMS Hollyhock, HMS Mallow, HMS Nigella, HMS Vervena, HMS Veronica and all the A/S trawlers were detached on 14 May.

HMS Circassia and HMS Watchman were detached on 15 May while on the same day the destroyers HMS Burnham (Cdr. J. Bostock, DSC, RN), HMS Leamington (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Bowerman, RN), HMS Salisbury (Lt.Cdr. H.M.R. Crichton, RN), escort destroyer HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, RN), minesweepers HMS Hussar ( Lt.Cdr. D.H.P. Gardiner, RN), HMS Niger ( Lt.Cdr. J.M. Bayley, DSC, RN), and catapult ship Ariguani joined the escort.

On 18 May the destroyer HMS Roxborough (Lt. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN) joined the convoy. Also on this day HMS Leamington and HMS Anemone were detached.

On 19 May the destroyer Saladin joined the escort.

The convoy arrived at Liverpool on 20 May.

1 May 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) departed Halifax to overtake and join convoy HX 124 and to act as ocean escort.

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Convoy HX 124 ' for 30 April 1941.] (22)

14 May 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) returned to Halifax from escort duty. (22)

17 May 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) departed Halifax for Norfolk, Virginia, USA. (23)

20 May 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) arrived at the Portsmouth Navy Yard where she was to be taken in hand for repairs. Also some modifications to the close range AA armament were to be made. (23)

27 May 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) is docked at the Portsmouth Navy Yard. (22)

3 Jun 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) is undocked. (24)

26 Jun 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) departed the Portsmouth Navy Yard for Bermuda. (24)

29 Jun 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) arrived at Bermuda. (24)

30 Jun 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) departed Bermuda for the U.K. where she was to continue her refit. (24)

8 Jul 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) is joined by the destroyer ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski). (25)

9 Jul 1941
The battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) and the destroyer ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski) made rendez-vous with the aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), the detroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN), HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN) and the troopships Cameronia (16297 GRT, built 1920) and Scythia (British, 19761 GRT, built 1920).

HMS Faulknor and HMS Fury were detached shortly after HMS Royal Sovereign and ORP Piorun had joined. (25)

12 Jul 1941
The battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), the destroyers HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN), HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski) and the troopships Cameronia (16297 GRT, built 1920) and Scythia (British, 19761 GRT, built 1920) arrived in the Clyde. (25)

17 Jul 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) proceeded upstream and is taken in hand for further refit work at Greenock.

More changes to the close range armament were made and also radar was fitted. (25)

14 Oct 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) proceeded downstream from Greenock and anchored of the Tail of Bank. (26)

15 Oct 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) departed Greenock for Scapa Flow. She is escorted by the destroyers HMS Bedouin (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, OBE, RN) and HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN). (27)

16 Oct 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, OBE, RN) and HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow. (27)

18 Oct 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) conducted D/G trials at Scapa Flow followed by gunnery exercises. (26)

21 Oct 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) conducted gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (26)

23 Oct 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) conducted gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (26)

24 Oct 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) conducted gunnery exercises off Scapa Flow during which she was escorted by the destroyers HMS Matabele (Cdr. A.C. Stanford, DSC, RN) and HMS Punjabi (Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN). (26)

25 Oct 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) departed Scapa Flow to return to Greenock. Some more work on her new radar outfit had to be done.

During the passage from Scapa Flow to the Clyde she was escorted by the destroyer HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Dulverton (Lt.Cdr. W.N. Petch, OBE, RN). (26)

26 Oct 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN) and HMS Dulverton (Lt.Cdr. W.N. Petch, OBE, RN) arrived in the Clyde. (26)

28 Oct 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) is docked at Greenock. (26)

7 Nov 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) is undocked. (28)

12 Nov 1941

Convoy WS 12Z.

[Part from the U.K. to Freetown.]

This convoy departed Liverpool and the Clyde on 12 November 1941 and arrived at Freetown on 24 November 1941.

The convoy assembled at sea on 13 November 1941 near Oversay.

The convoy was made up of the following troopships / transports; Abbekerk (Dutch, 7906 GRT, built 1939), Adrastus (British, 7905 GRT, built 1923), Aorangi (British, 17491 GRT, built 1924), Arundel Castle (British, 19118 GRT, built 1921), Capetown Castle (British, 27002 GRT, built 1938), Deucalion (British, 7516 GRT, built 1930), Duchess of Bedford (British, 20123 GRT, built 1928), Empire Star (British, 13479 GRT, built 1935), Empress of Asia (British, 16909 GRT, built 1913), Empress of Japan (British, 26032 GRT, built 1930), Mataroa (British, 12390 GRT, built 1922), Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931), Narkunda (British, 16632 GRT, built 1920), Orduna (British, 15507 GRT, built 1914), Rimutaka (British, 16576 GRT, built 1923) and Sussex (British, 11062 GRT, built 1937).

Upon assembly off Oversay the convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Maori (Cdr R.E. Courage, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Vanquisher (Cdr. N.V. Dickinson, DSC, RN), HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN), HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Holmes, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Badsworth (Lt.Cdr. M.S. Townsend, DSC and Bar, OBE, RN) and HMS Exmoor (Lt.Cdr. L.StG. Rich, RN).

The battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) and destroyers HMS Foresight (Cdr. J.S.C. Salter, RN) HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN) had departed the Clyde on the 12th to join the convoy. They were routed via Milford Haven where they were to fuel and then to the south of Ireland. On the 13th, the warships arrived at Milford Haven and departed later that day to join the convoy which they did in the early evening of the 16th in position 44°30'N, 23°30'W. The escort destroyers HMS Dulverton (Lt.Cdr. W.N. Petch, OBE, RN) and HMS Southwold (Cdr. C.T. Jellicoe, DSC, RN) also joined the convoy on the 16th.

Also on the 16th, HMS Vanquisher, HMS Whitehall, HMS Witch, HMS Badsworth and HMS Exmoor parted company with the convoy.

HMS Foresight, HMS Forester and HMS Fury parted company with the convoy while in position 34°05'N, 25°50'W. They were to refuel at sea from the oiler Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker Dingledale (8145 GRT, built 1941) after which they were ordered to conduct a search for a reported suspected enemy merchant ship.

In the late afternoon of the 17th the destroyer HMS Maori was detached to Gibraltar while the escort destroyers HMS Dulverton and HMS Southwold parted company in the early evening to proceed to Ponta Delgada in the Azores to fuel there and then to rejoin the convoy.

In the morning of the 19th HMS Dulverton and HMS Southwold rejoined the convoy in position 34°05'N, 25°50'W. HMS Foresight, HMS Forester and HMS Fury then parted company with the convoy. They were to refuel at sea from the oiler Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker Dingledale (8145 GRT, built 1941) after which they were ordered to conduct a search for a reported suspected enemy merchant ship.

Before dusk on 21 November the destroyers HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN) and HMS Vimy (Lt.Cdr. H.G.D. de Chair, RN) joined the convoy. They came from Freetown.

In the moring of 22 November 1941 the corvette Clover (Lt.Cdr. F.A. Shaw, RNR) joined the convoy.

The convoy arrived safely at Freetown on 24 November 1941 escorted by HMS Royal Sovereign, HMS Velox, HMS Vimy, HMS Dulverton, HMS Southwold and HMS Clover. Before it arrived the convoy had been split into two sections so as not to arrive in harbour all at once.

12 Nov 1941
Around 1500 hours, HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) escorted by HMS Foresight (Cdr. J.S.C. Salter, RN) HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN) departed the Clyde for Milford Haven. (28)

13 Nov 1941
Around 1000 hours, HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), HMS Foresight (Cdr. J.S.C. Salter, RN) HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN) arrived at Milford Haven where they topped off their fuel tanks.

They departed around 1700 hours to join convoy WS 12Z at sea.

[See the event ' Convoy WS 12Z ' for 12 November 1942 for more information on this convoy.] (28)

24 Nov 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN), HMS Vimy (Lt.Cdr. H.G.D. de Chair, RN), HMS Dulverton (Lt.Cdr. W.N. Petch, OBE, RN), HMS Southwold (Cdr. C.T. Jellicoe, DSC, RN) and Clover (Lt.Cdr. F.A. Shaw, RNR) all arrived at Freetown after escort duty with convoy WS 12Z. (29)

28 Nov 1941

Convoy WS 12Z.

[Part from the Freetown to Durban.]

This convoy departed Freetown on 28 November 1941 and arrived at Durban on 18 December 1941.

The convoy was made up of the following troopships / transports; Abbekerk (Dutch, 7906 GRT, built 1939), Adrastus (British, 7905 GRT, built 1923), Aorangi (British, 17491 GRT, built 1924), Arundel Castle (British, 19118 GRT, built 1921), Capetown Castle (British, 27002 GRT, built 1938), Deucalion (British, 7516 GRT, built 1930), Duchess of Bedford (British, 20123 GRT, built 1928), Empire Star (British, 13479 GRT, built 1935), Empress of Asia (British, 16909 GRT, built 1913), Empress of Japan (British, 26032 GRT, built 1930), Mataroa (British, 12390 GRT, built 1922), Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931), Narkunda (British, 16632 GRT, built 1920), Orduna (British, 15507 GRT, built 1914), Rimutaka (British, 16576 GRT, built 1923) and Sussex (British, 11062 GRT, built 1937).

On departure from Freetown the convoy was escorted by the battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), escort destroyers HMS Dulverton (Lt.Cdr. W.N. Petch, OBE, RN) and HMS Southwold (Cdr. C.T. Jellicoe, DSC, RN), sloop HMS Falmouth (Cdr. U.H.R. James, RN) and the corvettes HMS Hollyhock (Lt. T.E. Davies, OBE, RNR) and HMS Verbena (Lt.Cdr. D.A. Rayner, DSC, RNVR).

The convoy was to proceed to Durban via Porte Noire.

In the afternoon of 2 December 1941, HMS Royal Sovereign, HMS Dulverton and HMS Southwold left the convoy to proceed ahead to Porte Noire where they arrived in the morning of 5 December and then took on board fuel. They departed again in the evening to rejoin the convoy which they did at 0600/6.

HMS Falmouth, HMS Hollyhock and HMS Verbena then proceeded to Porte Noire to fuel. They rejoined the convoy at 0630/7.

At 0700/14, while in approximate position 36°00'S, 17°00'E, HMS Dulverton and HMS Southwold detached to refuel at Simonstown. At 1400/15, while in approximate position 37°00'S, 23°00'E, the convoy was joined by the corvettes HMS Aster (Lt. W.L. Smith, RNR) and HMS Marguerite (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Blundell, RNR) from Simonstown. Half an hour later HMS Hollyhock and HMS Verbena were then detached to Simonstown.

At 0001/18 HMS Royal Sovereign and HMS Milford were detached and proceeded ahead of the convoy to Durban where they arrived at 0600 hours the same day.

The remainder of the convoy arrived later the same day.

24 Dec 1941

Convoy WS 12Z.

[Part from Durban to their final destinations.]

This convoy departed Durban on 24 December 1941 and was split into three sections near Mombasa on 2 January 1942.

On departure from Durban the convoy was made up of the following troopships / transports; Abbekerk (Dutch, 7906 GRT, built 1939), Adrastus (British, 7905 GRT, built 1923), Aorangi (British, 17491 GRT, built 1924), Aronda (British, 8328 GRT, built 1941), Capetown Castle (British, 27002 GRT, built 1938), Deucalion (British, 7516 GRT, built 1930), Duchess of Bedford (British, 20123 GRT, built 1928), Eastern Prince (British, 10926 GRT, built 1929), Empire Star (British, 13479 GRT, built 1935), Empress of Asia (British, 16909 GRT, built 1913), Indrapoera (Dutch, 10825 GRT, built 1925), Narkunda (British, 16632 GRT, built 1920), Nieuw Amsterdam (Dutch, 36287 GRT, built 1938), Orduna (British, 15507 GRT, built 1914) and Sussex (British, 11062 GRT, built 1937).

The convoy was escorted by the battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) until it was split up on 30 / 31 December 1941 into convoy's WS 12ZA, WS 12ZB and DM 1. HMS Royal Sovereign then proceeded to Port Victoria, Seychelles where she arrived on 2 January 1942.

----------------------------------------------------

Convoy WS 12ZA was formed on 31 December 1941 and was made up of troopships / transports; Aronda, Eastern Prince, Nieuw Amsterdam and Orduna. They were escorted by the light cruiser HMS Colombo (Capt. C.C.A. Allen, RN) which had brought out the US troop transport USS Oziraba (6937 GRT, built 1918) from Mombasa.

Convoy WS 12ZA was dispersed off Aden on 4 January 1942.

----------------------------------------------------

Convoy WS 12ZB was formed on 31 December 1941 and was made up of troopships / transports; Adrastus, Capetown Castle, Deucalion, Duchess of Bedford, Empire Star, Empress of Asia, Empress of Japan, Indrapoera and USS Oziraba. They were escorted by the heavy cruiser HMS Cornwall (Capt. P.C.W. Manwaring, RN).

Convoy WS 12ZA arrived at Bombay on 6 January 1942.

----------------------------------------------------

Convoy DM 1 split off from convoy WS 12Z on 30 January 1942 and was made up of troopships / transports; Abbekerk, Aorangi, USS Mount Vernon, Narkunda and Sussex. They were escorted by the light cruiser HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN) which had brought out the US troop transport Mount Vernon (24289 GRT, built 1932) from Mombasa.

Convoy DM 1 arrived at Addu Atoll (Port T) on 4 January 1942. It departed from there, with a strengthened escort, for Singapore on 5 January 1942.

Convoy DM 1 arrived at Singapore on 13 January 1942. (30)

2 Jan 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) arrived at Port Victoria, Seychelles after convoy escort duty. (31)

3 Jan 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) departed Port Victoria for Mombasa. (31)

6 Jan 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) arrived at Mombasa. (31)

17 Jan 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) departed Mombasa to make rendezvous with convoy WS 14. (32)

19 Jan 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) made rendezvous with convoy WS 14 in approximate position 08°00'S, 42°30'E and a section of that convoy split off and formed convoy DM 2 which was to proceed to the Sunda Strait. HMS Royal Sovereign was to escort the convoy for part of the way.

Convoy DM 2 was thus formed at sea on 19 January and was made up of the following transports / troopships; City of Canterbury (British, 8331 GRT, built 1922), City of Pretoria (British, 8049 GRT, built 1937), Dunera (British, 11162 GRT, built 1937), Empress of Australia (British, 21833 GRT, built 1914), Malancha (British, 8124 GRT, built 1937), Troilus (British, 7422 GRT, built 1921) and Warwick Castle (British, 20107 GRT, built 1930).

At 0900/26, in position 01°12'S, 73°11'E, the convoy was joined by the armed merhant cruiser HMS Ranchi (Capt.(Retd.) Sir J.M. Alleyne, DSO, DSC, RN). HMS Royal Sovereign and Empress of Australia entered. The last ship quickly fuelled (she had reported fuel shortage) and then rejoined the convoy which then continued on its voyage.

On 28 January, the convoy made rendez-vous and merged with convoy BM 12. HMS Ranchi was then detached. (32)

26 Jan 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) arrived at Addu Atoll (Port T) after convoy escort duty. (31)

5 Feb 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) and HMS Guardian (A/Capt. H.A.C. Lane, RN) departed Addu Atoll (Port T) for Trincomalee. (33)

6 Feb 1942
Around 0830 hours, HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) and HMS Guardian (A/Capt. H.A.C. Lane, RN), were joined in approximate position 00°30'N, 75°36'E, by the Australian minesweepers HMAS Bathurst (Lt.Cdr. A.V. Bunyan, RANR(S)) and HMAS Lismore (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Crawford, RANR(S)) which were to escort them to Trincomalee. (33)

7 Feb 1942
Early in the morning, HMAS Bathurst (Lt.Cdr. A.V. Bunyan, RANR(S)), developed engine problems which reduced her speed. HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) then parted company with HMS Guardian (A/Capt. H.A.C. Lane, RN), HMAS Bathurst and HMAS Lismore (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Crawford, RANR(S)), and proceeded to Trincomalee unescorted. (33)

8 Feb 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) arrived at Trincomalee. (33)

28 Feb 1942
The battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), armed merchant cruisers HMAS Manoora (A/Capt. A.H. Spurgeon, RAN) and the destroyers HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, DSC, RAN) and HMAS Vampire (Cdr. W.T.A. Moran, RAN) departed Trincomalee to join the escort of convoy SU 1. (33)

28 Feb 1942

Convoy SU 1.

This convoy departed Colombo on 28 February 1942 and arrived at Fremantle on 15 March 1942.

This convoy was made up of the troopships / transports; City of London (British, 8956 GRT, built 1907), City of Paris (British, 10902 GRT, built 1922), Eastern Prince (British, 10926 GRT, built 1929), Egra (British, 5108 GRT, built 1911), Empire Glade (British, 7006 GRT, built 1941), Esperance Bay (British, GRT, built ), Gorgon (British, 3533 GRT, built 1933), Industria (British, 4850 GRT, built 1940), Kosciuszko (Polish, 6852 GRT, built 1915, Madras City (British, 5080 GRT, built 1940), Mathura (British, 8890 GRT, built 1920), Norden (British, 8440 GRT, built 1931), Penrith Castle (British, 6369 GRT, built 1929), Pundit (British, 5305 GRT, built 1919), Silverteak (British, 6770 GRT, built 1930), Silverwillow (British, 6373 GRT, built 1930) and Trevilley (British, 5296 GRT, built 1940).

The convoy was escorted by the British heavy cruiser HMS Cornwall (Capt. P.C.W. Manwaring, RN, the British destroyer HMS Express (Lt.Cdr. F.J. Cartwright, RN) and the British corvette HMS Hollyhock (Lt. T.E. Davies, OBE, RNR). On 1 March the battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), armed merchant cruisers HMAS Manoora (A/Capt. A.H. Spurgeon, RAN) and the destroyers HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, DSC, RAN) and HMAS Vampire (Cdr. W.T.A. Moran, RAN) joined in approximate position 05.00'N, 79.00'E coming from Trincomalee.

HMS Express and HMS Holyhock returned to Colombo on 3 March 1942. They most likely had parted company with the convoy when the ships coming from Trincomalee joined the convoy escort.

At 1800/4, HMS Royal Sovereign, HMAS Nizam and HMAS Vampire parted company with the convoy to return to Trincomalee.

The convoy arrived at Fremantle on 15 March 1942 except for HMAS Manoora which was detached escorting the merchant vessels Empire Glade, Madras City, Mathura and Silver Widow to Adelaide where they arrived on 22 March 1942. (34)

7 Mar 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, DSC, RAN) and HMAS Vampire (Cdr. W.T.A. Moran, RAN) returned to Trincomalee. (35)

11 Mar 1942
The battleships HMS Ramillies (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN), HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, DSO, RN), HMAS Nestor (Cdr. A.S. Rosenthal, DSO and Bar, RAN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, DSC, RAN), HMS Express (Lt.Cdr. F.J. Cartwright, RN) and HMS Tenedos (Lt. R. Dyer, RN) departed Trincomalee for exercises.

On completion of the exercises HMS Royal Sovereign, HMS Express and HMS Tenedos parted company and proceeded to Ceylon.

The other ships returned to Trincomalee. (36)

13 Mar 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), HMS Express (Lt.Cdr. F.J. Cartwright, RN) and HMS Tenedos (Lt. R. Dyer, RN) arrived at Colombo. (37)

23 Mar 1942
Around 0800 hours, HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), departed Colombo to run over the DG range. Upon completion of her DG trials she set course for Addu Atoll. She is escorted by the destroyers HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN) and HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN).

Around 1340 hours, the destroyer HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN) joined.

Around 1450 hours, HMS Arrow parted company.

Around 1700 hours, HMS Ramillies (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN) and her escorting destroyers, HMS Griffin (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. W. Harmsen, RNN). These ships were coming from Trincomalee joined company. (37)

25 Mar 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), HMS Ramillies (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN) and their destroyer escort, HMS Griffin (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN), HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. W. Harmsen, RNN) arrived at Addu Atoll. (34)

26 Mar 1942
HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN, flying the flag of A/Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, DSO, RN, second in command Eastern Fleet), HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), HMS Ramillies (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN), HMS Indomitable (Capt. T.H. Troubridge, RN) and their destroyer escort made up of HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, DSO, RN), HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, DSC, RAN), HMS Griffin (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN), HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. R.D.H.S. Pankhurst, RN), HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. W. Harmsen, RNN) departed Addu Attoll for exercises in that area.

They were joined at sea the next day by HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) coming from Mauritius. (34)

28 Mar 1942
HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN, flying the flag of A/Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, DSO, RN, second in command Eastern Fleet), HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), HMS Ramillies (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN), HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN), HMS Indomitable (Capt. T.H. Troubridge, RN) and their destroyer escort made up of HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, DSO, RN), HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, DSC, RAN), HMS Griffin (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN), HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. R.D.H.S. Pankhurst, RN), HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. W. Harmsen, RNN) returned to Addu Attoll upon completion of their exercises in that area. (34)

29 Mar 1942

Operations by the Eastern Fleet from 29 March to 13 April 1942.
Enemy air attacks on Colombo and later Trincomalee and the loss of HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall on 5 April 1942 and HMS Hermes, HMAS Vampire on 9 April 1942.

Dispositions of the Eastern Fleet on 29 March 1942.

On 29 March 1942 the disposition of the Eastern Fleet was as follows;
At Colombo:
Aircraft Carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN), heavy cruisers HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. A.W.S. Agar, VC, DSO, RN) (refitting) and HMS Cornwall (Capt. P.C.W. Manwaring, RN), light cruisers HMS Enterprise (Capt. J.C.A. Annesley, DSO, RN), HMS Dragon (Capt. R.J. Shaw, MBE, RN) and HMS Caledon (A/Capt. H.J. Haynes, DSO, DSC, RN), the destroyers HMS Paladin (Cdr. A.D. Pugsley, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMAS Nestor (Cdr. A.S. Rosenthal, DSO and Bar, RAN), HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN) and HMS Express (Lt.Cdr. F.J. Cartwright, RN).

At Trincomalee:
The flagship of the Eastern Fleet, the battleship HMS Warspite (Capt. F.E.P. Hutton, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN), the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes (Capt. R.F.J. Onslow, DSC, MVO, RN), light cruisers HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN) and HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Cdr. E.J. van Holte, RNN), the destroyer HMAS Vampire (Cdr. W.T.A. Moran, RAN). HMS Warspite departed Trincomalee this day and arrived at Colombo in the evening.

At Addu Atoll;
The battleships HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN , flying the flag of A/Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, DSO, RN, second in command Eastern Fleet), HMS Ramillies (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN), HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) the aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable (Capt. T.H. Troubridge, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral D.W. Boyd, CBE, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, DSO, RN), HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, DSC, RAN), HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. R.D.H.S. Pankhurst, RN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN), HMS Griffin (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN), HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. W. Harmsen, RNN).

The Japanese had been operating in the Indian Ocean in early March and more attacks were expected in this area by the Allies. The most likely target would be the island of Ceylon and the harbours of Colombo and Trincomalee.

30 and 31 March 1942.

Planning

Admiral Somerville therefore planned to concentrate the Eastern Fleet on the late afternoon / early evening of 31 March 1942 in position 04°40’N, 81°00’E. The fleet would then be divided in two groups; Force A (the fast division) was made up of the flagships, battleship HMS Warspite, both fleet carriers, HMS Indomitable and HMS Formidable. They were escorted by the cruisers HMS Cornwall, HMS Enterprise, HMS Emerald and six destroyers; HMAS Napier, HMAS Nestor, HMS Paladin, HMS Panther, HMS Hotspur and HMS Foxhound. This force would try to intercept the enemy and deliver a night air attack on the enemy with their carriers as the main target.

Force A would be covered by the slower Force B which was made up of the battleships HMS Resolution, HMS Ramillies, HMS Royal Sovereign and the light carrier HMS Hermes. Escort to these ships was proviced by the cruisers HMS Dragon, HMS Caledon, HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck and a total of eight destroyers HMS Griffin, HMS Decoy, HMAS Norman, HMS Fortune, HrMs Isaac Sweers, HMS Arrow and one of the old destroyers that had managed to escape from the China station also joined, this was HMS Scout (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) H. Lambton, RN). They were to remain about 20 nautical miles to the west of Force A. If Force A encountered a superior enemy force the would withdraw towards Force B.

At 1400/30 the ships mentioned earlier at the top of this article departed Colombo. HMS Hotspur and HMAS Nestor carried out an A/S sweep of the searched channel before Force A sailed.

By 1600/31 the fleet had made the pre-arranged rendez-vous and formed up. It then proceeded northwards. After dark, to avoid detection from the air by the enemy, Force A altered course to 080° and proceeded at 15 knots until about 0230 hours when it was thought they would be in the estimated position from where the enemy would fly off their aircraft for the expected attack on Ceylon. If nothing was sighted or located by 0230/1, Force A was to turn back to the south-west and to withdraw outside the enemy’s air search area. Force B was to act as a supporting force for Force A, keeping 20 miles to the west of it and confirming to the movements of Force A through the night. This procedure was carried out as planned during the night of 31 March / 1 April but nothing was seen or located.

In the late afternoon / early evening of 31 March HMS Indomitable briefly separated from the fleet for flying operations during which she was escorted by HMS Emerald. From 2100/31 to 0600/1 a search was carried out, to a depth of 120 miles from 050° to 110°, by three A.S.V. fitted Albacores from HMS Formidable. Also two Albacores fitted with long-range tanks were kept standing by for shadowing purposes if required. One of the Albacores crash landed on HMS Formidable upon return at 0340/1.

1 April 1942.

At 0940 hours HMS Decoy reported the breakdown of her main feed pumps. She was detached to Colombo to effect repairs.

Around noon several of the destroyers reported submerged contacts. HMS Scout reported sighting a periscope. The fleet took avoiding action in each case, but nothing further transpired from these contact which are now considered to be non-sub.

At 1400 hours, HMS Scout, one of the oldest destroyers of the Royal Navy with a short enducance, was detached to oil at sea from RFA Appleleaf (5892 GRT, built 1917, Master E. Mills) in position 04°00’N, 80°00’E. Upon completion of oiling HMS Scout was to proceed to position 05°40’N, 81°08’E by 0800/2. RFA Appleleaf and her escort, HMS Shoreham (Cdr. E. Hewitt, RD, RNR), were to proceed towards a new waiting position 05°00’N, 80°30’E.

In the afternoon, around 1420 hours, HMS Dorsetshire joined Force A. This cruiser had been refitting at Colombo but this refit was cut short to enable her to take part in this operation. Air searches were carried out from Ceylon as the days before but they sighted nothing of the enemy. Also from 1430/1800 hours a search was carried out by aircraft from HMS Indomitable between 142° to 207° to a depth of 215 miles. Admiral Somerville decided to carry out the same sweep to the north-east as had been done the previous night. Again nothing was seen and Force A made rendez-vous with Force B at daybreak on 2 April 1942.

2 April 1942.

At 0800 hours the destroyers HMS Fortune and HMAS Vampire were detached to fuel from RFA Appleleaf in position 05°00’N, 80°30’E. and an Albacore was ordered to search for HMS Scout and order her to rejoin the fleet. Shortly after noon the fleet sighted RFA Appleleaf, HMS Shoreham, HMS Fortune and HMAS Vampire. The last two ships then rejoined the fleet while the tanker and it’s escort were ordered to proceed towards Colombo at 1200/3.

During the day the Eastern Fleet cruised in an area about 50 miles further to the west then the previous day to avoid being detected by enemy submarines that had been reported. Throughout the day several of the escorting destroyers obtained unconfirmed echoes. Two more destroyers fuelled during the afternoon, HMAS Napier and HMS Arrow took in fuel from HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall.

As the enemy had not shown herself by 2100 hours, Admiral Somerville decided to proceed to Addu Atoll to fuel and to take on fresh water as the R-class battleships were running out of this as they had been unable to top up at Addu Atoll before they sailed.

3 April 1942.

At 0520 hours, the destroyer HMS Fortune was detached to search for survivors from the merchant vessel Glensheil (9415 GRT, built 1924) that had been torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-7 in position 00°48’S, 78°35’E at 0230 hours. HMS Fortune picked up 88 survivors and then proceeded to Addu Atoll where she arrived at 1130/4.

As at this time Admiral Somerville felt confident that something must have held up the Japanese or that their intentions were incorrectly appreciated. At 0940 hours, he sent HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall to Colombo. The former to continue her refit and the latter to act as escort for the Australian troop convoy SU 4. HMS Hermes and the destroyer HMAS Vampire were also detached but to Trincomalee as HMS Hermes was to prepare for the upcoming operation ‘Ironclad’, the attack on Madagascar.

Late in the morning three of the destroyers of the screen oiled from the battleships; HMAS Norman from HMS Warspite, HMS Griffin from HMS Revenge and HMS Foxhound from HMS Royal Sovereign.

At 1820 hours Force A proceeded ahead to Addu Atoll at 19 knots followed by Force B at 15 knots. Force A arrived at Addu Atoll at 1200/4. Force B at 1500/4.

4 April 1942.

In the early morning hours, and while approaching Addu Atoll, a simulated air strike was carried out on Force B by aircraft from HMS Indomitable and HMS Formidable. One aircraft crashed into the sea, it’s crew was picked up by the Dutch AA-cruiser Jacob van Heemskerck. A second simulated air attack was made on Force A later in the morning.

At 1630 hours, Admiral Somerville received a report that a large enemy force was in position 00°40’N, 83°10’E at 1605/F. Enemy course was 315°. Shortly afterwards this report was confirmed by another report in which they gave an enemy course of 330°. This positioned the enemy in a position 155° from Dondra Head, 360 miles, the distance from Addu Atoll being 085°, 600 miles. There was no indication about the composition of this force.

The condition of the Eastern Fleet at Addu Atoll at that time was as follows; Owning to the limited number of oilers available, the vessels comprising Force A had taken about half their fuel and Force B had not yet commenced fuelling. In addition the ‘R’-class battleships were very short of water which had to be taken in before they could sail. This meant that Force A could sail immediately, minus HMS Emerald and HMS Enterprise. These cruisers could sail shortly after midnight. Force B could not leave until 0700 hours the following morning at the earliest.

It appeared that the enemy’s probable plan was as follows. All the evidence supported Admiral Somerville’s original appreciation that the enemy would attack Colombo (and possibly Trincomalee) with carrier borne aircraft either before dawn or shortly afterwards and would return to the carriers in a position about 150 miles south-east of Ceylon. On completion the whole force would then withdraw to the east. The enemy’s reported position made it apparent that this attack was to be made on the morning of 5 April 1942.

Admiral Somerville considered his possible courses of action were as follows: 1) Force A, less HMS Emerald and HMS Enterprise to proceed immediately at best speed to the area to the south of Ceylon and to be joined there by HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall coming from Colombo and attack any enemy force located. 2) Delay the sailing of Force A until HMS Emerald and HMS Enterprise, valuable units with their strong torpedo armament, had completed refuelling and sail about midnight. Force B could sail in the morning of the 5th and follow astern to act as a supporting force. 3) Delay the sailing of Force A until both force could leave together on the morning of the 5th. 4) Force A and Force B would remain at Addu Atoll and leave the RAF to deal with the enemy attack.

The choise Admiral Somerville made was governed by the following considerations: 1) First and foremost the total defence of the Indian Ocean and it’s vital lines of communication depend on the existence of the Eastern Fleet. The longer this fleet remained ‘in being’ the longer it would limit and check the enemy’s advances against Ceylon and further west. This major policy of retaining ‘a fleet in being’, already approved by Their Lordships, was, in Admiral Somerville’s opinion, paramount. 2) The only hope of dealing the enemy an affective blow was by means of a carrier borne air striking force preferably at night. To operate both carriers escorted by HMS Warspite out of supporting distance of the ‘R’-class battleships would offer the enemy an opportunity to cripple our only offensive weapon. Admiral Somerville considered it a cardinal point in any operation the Force A should not proceed out of the supporting distance from Force B unless it could be presumed that that enemy capital ships would not be encountered. 3) No matter what course of action Admiral Somerville would take the enemy force could not be intercepted either before or during the attack on Ceylon on the morning of the 5th. The only hope was that the air striking force from Ceylon might inflict damage to the enemy so that the Eastern Fleet could ‘finish them off’, or that the enemy attack on Ceylon would be delayed 24 hours.

Admiral Somerville therefore decided to adopt ‘plan 2’. So he sailed Force A including both E-class cruisers at midnight and ordered Force B to proceed as early as possible the following morning.

Admiral Somerville therefore instructed HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall to sail from Colombo and to make rendez-vous with Force A at 1600/5 in position 00°58’N, 77°36’E. The position of this rendez-vous was based on their expected time of departure from Colombo and estimated as being the earliest possible time at which they could cross the track of Force A, taking into consideration that HMS Dorsetshire had resumed her refit and was at extended notice. Admiral Somerville considered that the course to be steered should take them well clear of any enemy forces operating in the vicinity. Actually these instructions had been anticipated by the Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Fleet and these two cruisers, at his discretion, sailed at 2300/4 for Addu Atoll. On receipt of the signal from Admiral Somerville the Deputy Commander-in-Chief amended his instructions accordingly at 0409/5.

5 April 1942.

Force A sailed from Addu Atoll at 0015 hours and proceeded 070° at 18 knots towards a position which would bring it 250 miles south of Ceylon by dawn on the 6th. Shortly before departure the destroyer HMS Hotspur conducted an A/S search of the entrance to Addu Atoll.

During the night Admiral Somerville received reports from the Catalina reconnaissance aircraft on patrol from Ceylon of an enemy destroyer in position 01°59’N, 82°20’E, course 315°, speed 20 knots; six enemy destroyers in position 02°54’N, 82°10’E, course 325°, speed 21 knots; and at 0701 hours a report of one battleship, two cruisers an four other ships in position 195°, Dondra Head, 110 miles. Later this message was subsequently amplified to the effect that the vessels previously reported were definitely hostile and consisted of two battleships, two cruisers and destroyers.

At about 0825 hours an air raid on shipping and harbour facilities at Colombo was commenced in which some 75 aircraft were taking part. These were later reported to be mainly Navy ‘O’ fighters, armed with one bomb each. This enemy force withdrew from Colombo before 0900 hours and was seen by several merchant ships to the south-west of Ceylon probably returning to the carriers. In several cases these merchant were machine gunned.

From 0645 hours an air A/S patrol was maintained ahead of the fleet. HMS Indomitable also sent four Fulmars to commence a search to the eastward. This search covered the area between the arcs 055° to 105° to a depth of 215 miles. It proved negative except for the sighting of an enemy seaplane at 0855 hours, 076°, 150 miles from Force A. This suggested that the enemy was carrying out reconnaissance in a south-westerly direction by means of cruiser aircraft, or a seaplane carrier, in a position 70 miles of the main enemy force. There was no indication that this aircraft sighted any of our surface forces or our air search.

Between 0702 and 1145 hours, Admiral Somerville received reports of battleships in approximate positions 03°55’N, 80°40’E, steering 290° at 0648 hours, steering 120° at 0730 hours, and at 1004 hours in position 04°00’N, 80°25’E steering 282°. This suggested that the battleships were making time while the carriers recovered their aircraft. The estimated position of HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall at this time was 150 miles from the enemy and opening.

At 1327 hours a mutilated ‘Shad’ signal was received from what was thought to be Colombo but was identified half an hour later as coming from HMS Dorsetshire whose position was estimated as being 037°, 90 miles from Force A at 1400 hours. No contact could be established.

At 1344 hours an enemy air formation was detected by RD/F, 030°, 84 miles from Force A. This had faded after five minutes and it later it became clear that this was the enemy attacking the Dorsetshire and Cornwall. At 1552 hours, a reconnaissance aircraft from Force A, reported wreckage in position 02°08’N, 78°08’E.

The destroyer HMS Panther was then detached to search but was recalled about one hour later when a reconnaissance aircraft from Force A reported a force of 5 ‘unknown’ ships in position 03°38’N, 78°18’E at 100 hours. There was no indication of the course or speed of the enemy but it could be either a force previously unreported or the force previously and last reported 1004 hours.

No relief shadowers were however sent off by the Rear-Admiral aircraft carriers as soon s the report was received and Admiral Somerville omitted to obtain confirmation that this had been done. At 1700 hours, Admiral Somerville, received a report from Ceylon that there were indications of enemy aircraft carriers steering 230° at 24 knots from an unknown position at 1400 hours. This was thought to be subsequent to the attack on our 8” cruisers and Admiral Somerville’s deductions from this enemy moves were as follows. If the enemy held on this course they would at 0400 be in a position to deliver a night attack on Addu Atoll. This seemed quite a possible course of action. In any case it was necessary for Force A to keep clear to the southward and for Force B (estimated to be 135 miles astern of Force A) to steer to the southward so that Force A and B could close for supporting action at daylight the following morning (April 6th). It was also necessary for Force B to steer to the southward to keep clear of the enemy carrier force should it be proceeding to attack Addu Atoll.

At 1726 hours, therefore, Force A altered course to 210° at 18 knots and a signal was made to Vice-Admiral second-in-Command and to HMS Dorsetshire to steer south, although at this time Admiral Somerville feared about the fate of the two heavy cruisers. As he had received no signal from them that they had been attacked he thought it possible they had escaped and maintained W/T silence.

At 1800 hours Admiral Somerville received a signal from the Rear-Admiral Aircraft Carriers, stating that a reconnaissance aircraft reported the estimated enemy position as 020°, 120 miles at 1710 hours. This position was very close to the previous position reported at 1600 hours. The course of the enemy had not been given in either of these reports but the positions fitted in well with the course received earlier (230°).

At 1817 hours, a further signal was received from the Rear-Admiral Aircraft Carriers, adjusting the 1600 hours position of the enemy’s force, amplifying it to include two carriers and three unknown vessels and giving the course north-west. This was the first indication Admiral Somerville had of the enemy now proceeding to the north-west. He immediately ordered force A to alter course to 315° and instructed the Vice-Admiral, second-in-Command to conform. These movements had to object of keeping Force A within night air striking distance of the enemy force, trusting to an A.S.V. (airborne surface vessel radar) search to locate the enemy and to bring Force B within supporting distance should it be necessary to retire in that direction. A dawn rendez-vous was arranged with Force B in approximate position 03°00’N, 75°00’E.

As no news had been received of HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall it was assumed they had been sunk.

At 1930 hours a night search with A.S.V. aircraft was commenced to cover the sector 345° to 030° to a depth of 180 nautical miles. Northing was located on this search.

6 April 1942.

From 2100/5 to 0600/6 further A.S.V. searches were carried out to cover the sector 020° to 080° to a depth of 200 miles. These searches also failed to make any contact with the enemy but reported that Force B was 220°, 25 miles from Force A at 0400 hours.

At 0615 hours, Force A altered course to 135° and sighted Force B ten minutes later. By 0720 hours the Fleet was formed up and course was altered to 090°.

Whilst no furher information had been received regarding the enemy’s movements nothing had occurred to diminish the possibility of the enemy’s being in the vicinity of Addu Atoll, either to attack it by air this morning or to await the return of the Eastern Fleet.

Admiral Somerville intended to keep clear of the superior enemy forces by day. It was still his intention to get into a position to attack them with a night air striking force on their possible return from at Addu Atoll area, and also rescue the possible survivors from HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall. He therefore steered east and at 1115 hours course was altered to south-east in the direction of the wreckage that had been reported the previous evening. During the morning reports came in from merchant ships being attacked in the Bay of Bengal. There must be a second Japanese force operating there.

At 1300 hours HMS Enterprise, HMS Paladin and HMS Panther were detached to search for survivors in the vicinity of the wreckage position. Air search was provided to assist and fighter escort was sent to cover the operation. These ships were successful in picking up a total of 1122 survivors from both heavy cruisers. They rejoined the fleet at noon the following day. At 1800/6, when about 50 miles from the wreckage position course was reversed and the fleet retired to the north-west. All-round air searches were carried out to a depth of 200 miles but again nothing was seen.

At about 1400 hours a signal was received from the C-in-C, Ceylon estimating that a strong Japanese force was still somewhere between Addu Atoll and Colombo. Admiral Somerville therefore decided to keep clear of the Addu area until daylight on the 7th.

7 April 1942.

At 0200 hours the Eastern Fleet altered course to the west, 270°.

At 0427 hours, an A.S.V. aircraft located two submarines in position 02°08’N, 75°16’E and 02°46’N, 75°10’E, to the southward of the course of the Eastern Fleet. This indicated that the possibility of an enemy submarine patrol having been established to cover the eastern approaches to Addu Atoll. Admiral Somerville therefore decided to pass through Veimandu Channel to the west of the Maldives and make an unexpected approach to Addu Atoll from the west. At 0700 hours the course of the fleet was altered to 210°.

At 1335 hours, HMS Fortune was detached to investigate a ship contact made by HMS Emerald but no ship was sighted. Fortune only rejoined the fleet at about 0600/8.

At 1600 hours, HMS Enterprise, HMS Paladin and HMS Panther rejoined with the survivors they had picked up and medical stores were transferred from HMS Warspite to HMS Paladin for treatment of the wounded. Enterprise and Paladin were then detached to proceed immediately to Addu Atoll.

At 2100 hours, the Eastern Fleet altered course to 160°.

8 April 1942.

At 0700 hours aircraft were flown off from the carriers to carry out an all-round search to a depth of 175 miles. Again nothing was seen and at 1100 hours the Eastern Fleet entered Addu Atoll. Refuelling commenced immediately, Force B being refuelled first.

Admiral Somerville held a conference on board HMS Warspite with Flag and Commanding Officers in the afternoon.

Having discussed the situation Admiral Somerville decided to sent Force B to Kilindini and to proceed to Bombay with Force A. This later decision coincided with Their Lordships views as later in the day he received Their Lordships instructions that Force A was not to be sent to Colombo for the time being. Further by proceeding to Bombay the could arrange a meeting with the Commander-in-Chief, India and discuss the situation in the Far East with him.

At 1800 hours HMAS Nestor departed Addu Atoll to maintain an A/S patrol in the sector between 090° to 150° to a depth of 35 miles from the Port War Signal Station. One hour earlier HMS Resolution launched her Walrus aircraft for a ‘round the island’ A/S patrol. It returned at dusk.

9 April 1942.

Force B sailed for Kilindini at 0200 hours where it was due to arrive on April 15th. Force A sailed at 0600 hours for Bombay shaping course to pass to the westward of the Maldives.

During the morning Admiral Somerville was informed of further Japanese attacks in the Bay of Bengal and on Trincomalee and the sinking of several ships, including HMS Hermes and HMAS Vampire but nothing could be done about this.

10 April 1942.

At 1000 hours HMS Panther closed HMS Warspite to transfer Staff Officers for passage to Colombo where they were to inform the Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Fleet of Admiral Somerville’s views and make preliminary arrangements to transfer Admiral Somerville’s administrative staff and secretariat to Kilindini.

13 April 1942.

At 0705 hours, HMS Paladin rejoined Force A bringing back the Staff Officers who had been transferred to her on 10 April and also Rear-Admiral Danckwerts, Admiral Somerville’s Chief of Staff ashore. Force A arrived at Bombay later that morning (1040 hours) and commenced oiling.

Japanese operation in the Indian Ocean in late March 1942 and April 1942.

On 26 March 1943 the 1st Japanese Carrier Fleet departed Staring Bay, Celebes, Netherlands East Indies for a raid on Ceylon. This Fleet was made up of the aircraft carriers Akagi, Hiryu, Soryu, Zuikaku, Shokaku, battlecruisers Kongo, Haruna, Hiei, Kirishima, heavy cruisers Tone, Chikuma and the destroyers Urakaze, Tanikaze, Isokaze, Hamakaze, Kasumi, Arare, Kagero, Shiranuhi and Akigumo. This force then proceeded west of Timor and to a position to the south of Java where they fuelled from oilers on April 1st.

On 27 March the Japanese submarines I-2, I-3, I-4, I-5, I-6 and I-7 departed Penang to take up positions in the Indian Ocean for the upcoming operation.

On 1 April the Japanese Mayala Force departed Mergui for operations in the Bay of Bengal. This force was made up of the heavy cruisers Chokai, Kumano, Mikuma, Mogami, Suzuya, aircraft carrier Ryujo, light cruiser Yura, and the destroyers Fubuki, Shirayuki, Hatsuyuki and Murakumo. On 4 April the estroyers were substituted for four other destroyers; Amagiri, Asagiri, Shirakumo and Yugiri.

On 5 April the Japanse 1st Carrier Fleet launched their air attack on Colombo. 53 bombers, 38 dive bombers and 36 fighters were launched. They destroyed 19 Hurricane fighters, 1 Fulmar fighter and 6 Swordfish torpedo bombers. At Colombo the harbour facilities were heavily damaged and the armed merchant cruiser HMS Hector and destroyer HMS Tenedos were sunk.

Then around noon a reconnaissance aircraft from the Tone sighted the heavy cruisers HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall. The 1st Carrier Fleet immediately launched an attack force of 53 dive bombers that sank both cruisers with the loss of 424 members of their crews (Dorsetshire 234 and Cornwall 190). The Japanese then retired to the south-east.

In the evening of 5 April the Japanese Malaya-Force was ordered to commence attacking Allied shipping along the Indian east coast. On 6 April the northern group (Kumano, Suzuya and Shirakumo destroyed 9 ships off Puri (Orissa). The central group (Chokai, Yura, Asagiri and Yugiri) sank 4 ships. The southern group (Mikuma, Mogami and Amagiri sank 3 ships and damaged 2 more. Meanwhile aircraft from the carrier Ryuju, which operated with the central group, sank 4 more ships and damaged 1 more. In all about 92000 GRT of shipping was sunk.

On 8 April 1942 a Catalina aircraft spotted the Japanese 1st Carrier Fleet proceeding for an attack on Trincomalee but the Eastern Fleet was approaching Addu Atoll to refuel and could do nothing. Shipping at Trincomalee was ordered to leave port and proceed to the southward. In the morning of the following day 91 Japanese bombers and 41 fighters attacked Trincomalee. They destoyed 9 Hurricane and Fulmar fighters and 14 aircraft on the ground. The harbour most mostly empty but they sank a merchant vessel and 4 aircraft it had on board and not unloaded yet. Also the British monitor HMS Erebus (Capt. H.F. Nalder, RN) was damged. The Japanese 1st Carrier Fleet was then attacked by 9 Blenheim bombers but they inflicted no damage for 5 of their own lost to Japanese fighter cover. Then Japanese reconnaissance aircraft from the Haruna sighted ships escaping southwards. 85 Dive bombers and 3 fighters were then launched which sank HMS Hermes and HMAS Vampire as well as the corvette HMS Hollyhock (Lt.Cdr. T.E. Davies, OBE, RNR), two tankers and a merchant ship.

By mid-April 1942 all Japanese forces had returned to their bases. (38)

29 Mar 1942
HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN , flying the flag of A/Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, DSO, RN, second in command Eastern Fleet), HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), HMS Ramillies (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN), HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN), HMS Indomitable (Capt. T.H. Troubridge, RN) and their destroyer escort made up of HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, DSO, RN), HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, DSC, RAN), HMS Griffin (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN), HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. R.D.H.S. Pankhurst, RN), HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. W. Harmsen, RNN) departed Addu Atoll for more exercises in that erea.

[For the events following this, see the event titled 'Operations by the Eastern Fleet from 29 March to 13 April 1942' for 29 March 1942.] (34)

27 Apr 1942

Convoy WS 17.

Convoy from South Africa to several destinations in the Far East.

On 27 April 1942 the Capetown section departed. It was made up the following transports / troop transports; Almanzora (British, 15551 GRT, built 1914), Cameronia (British, 16297 GRT, built 1920), City of Edinburgh (British, 8036 GRT, built 1938), City of Lincoln (British, 8039 GRT, built 1938), Dunedin Star (British, 11168 GRT, built 1936), Glaucus (British, 7596 GRT, built 1921), Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (Dutch, 19429 GRT, built 1930), Kina II (British, 9823 GRT, built 1939), Nieuw Holland (Dutch, 11066 GRT, built 1927) and Samaria (British, 19597 GRT, built 1921).

On departure the convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Dauntless (A/Capt. J.G. Hewitt, DSO, RN).

Off Port Elizabeth the convoy was joined by the transports; Brazil (American, 18298 GRT, built 1928), Monterey (American, 18017 GRT, built 1932) and Mormactide (American, 7773 GRT, built 1941).

Off Durban the convoy was joined by the transports / troop transports; Elizabethville (Belgian, 8351 GRT, built 1922), Khedive Ismael (British, 7290 GRT, built 1922), Mendoza (British (former French), 8199 GRT, built 1920), Nova Scotia (British, 6796 GRT, built 1926) and Windsor Castle (British, 19141 GRT, built 1922).

The submarine depot ship HMS Adamant (Capt. R.S. Warne, RN) also joined the convoy off Durban.

The battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) also joined off Durban to escort the convoy.

On 8 May 1942 the battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) and the armed merchant cruiser HMS Corfu (Capt.(Retd.) J.P. Landon, RN) departed Mombasa to take over the escort of the convoy. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. W. Harmsen, RNN).

They joined the convoy at 1600/8 after which HMS Revenge proceeded to Mombasa escorted by the two destroyers. They arrived at Mombasa around 1300/9.

At 1900/8, HMS Dauntless was detached for Mombasa taking Almanzora, Cameronia, Khedive Ismael, Mendoza, Nova Scotia and Samaria with her. They also arrived at Mombasa around 1300/9.

HMS Adamant had already arrived at Mombasa on 8 May. She had parted company in the early afternoon of 7 May and proceeded ahead of the convoy.

HMS Royal Sovereign and HMS Corfu then proceeded further north with the remainder of the convoy.

On 10 May the following vessels departed Mombasa for Bombay; Almanzora, Cameronia, Chantilly (British (former French), 9986 GRT, built 1923), Khedive Ismael, Mendoza, Nova Scotia and Samaria. They were escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Ranchi (Capt.(Retd.) Sir J.M. Alleyne, DSO, DSC, RN).

Aound 0900/11, HMS Corfu parted company with the convoy taking with her the City of Edinburgh, City of Lincoln, Elizabethville and Glaucus. These ships were to proceed to Aden.

HMS Royal Sovereign meanwhile continued on to Bombay with the Dunedin Star, Johan van Oldebarnvelt, Kina II, Nieuw Holland and Windsor Castle.

HMS Royal Sovereign with her part of the convoy arrived at Bombay on 16 May 1942.

HMS Ranchi with her part of the convoy arrived at Bombay on 19 May 1942. (34)

8 May 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), HMS Corfu (Capt.(Retd.) J.P. Landon, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. W. Harmsen, RNN) departed Mombasa to make rendez-vous with HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) which was escorting convoy WS 17. HMS Royal Sovereign and HMS Corfu then took over the escort of the convoy while HMS Revenge proceeded to Mombasa escorted by the two destroyers where they arrived the next day.

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Convoy WS 17 ' for 27 April 1942.] (34)

16 May 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) arrived at Bombay. (39)

22 May 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) departed Bombay for Kilindini. (40)

30 May 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) arrived at Kilindini. (40)

22 Jun 1942
During 22/23 June 1942, HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), HMS Frobisher (Capt. J.F.W. Mudford, RN), HMS Caledon (A/Capt. H.J. Haynes, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Duncan (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN) and HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN), conducted exercises off Kilindini. (41)

25 Jun 1942
During 25/26 June 1942, HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), HMS Frobisher (Capt. J.F.W. Mudford, RN), HMS Caledon (A/Capt. H.J. Haynes, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Duncan (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN) and HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN), conducted exercises off Kilindini. (41)

1 Jul 1942

Convoy CM 29.

This convoy departed Durban on 1 July 1942 and arrived at Aden on 17 July 1942.

The following transports / troopships were part of this convoy; Dilwara (British, 11080 GRT, built 1936), Diomed (British, 10374 GRT, built 1922), Dunera (British, 11162 GRT, built 1937), Llandaff Castle (British, 10799 GRT, built 1926), Pulaski (Polish, 6516 GRT, built 1912), Scythia (British, 19761 GRT, built 1920) and Sobieski (Polish, 11030 GRT, built 1939).

On departure from Durban the convoy was escorted by the heavy cruiser HMS Frobisher (Capt. J.F.W. Mudford, RN) and the corvette HMS Fritillary (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Barker, RD, RNR) and the netlayer HMS Guardian (A/Capt. H.A.C. Lane, RN).

On 9 July the battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) departed Kilindini to rendezvous with the convoy. She did so on 11 July and relieved HMS Frobisher, HMS Fritillary and HMS Guardian which then proceeded to Kilindini.

On the 14th the armed merchant cruiser HMS Corfu (Capt.(Retd.) J.P. Landon, RN) took over from HMS Royal Sovereign which then set course to return to Kilindini.

The bulk of the convoy arrived at Aden on 17 July 1942.

9 Jul 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) departed Kilindini for convoy escort duty with convoy CM 29.

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Convoy CM 29 ' for 1 July 1942.] (42)

19 Jul 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) returned to Kilindini after convoy escort duty (42)

7 Aug 1942
During 7/8 August 1942, the battleships HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN , flying the flag of A/Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, DSO, RN), HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN), conducted exercises off Kilindini during which they were escorted by the destroyers HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. C.J. Wynne-Edwards, DSC, RN), HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Blackmore (Lt. H.T. Harrel, RN). (43)

16 Aug 1942
The battleships HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN , flying the flag of A/Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, DSO, RN), HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. L.H. Ashmore, RN), light cruisers HMS Dauntless (A/Capt. J.G. Hewitt, DSO, RN), destroyers HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, DSC, RAN), HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. C.J. Wynne-Edwards, DSC, RN), HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN) and escort destroyer HMS Blackmore (Lt. H.T. Harrel, RN) departed Kilindini for exercises.

17 Aug 1942
HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN , flying the flag of A/Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, DSO, RN), HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. L.H. Ashmore, RN), HMS Dauntless (A/Capt. J.G. Hewitt, DSO, RN), HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, DSC, RAN), HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. C.J. Wynne-Edwards, DSC, RN), HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN) and HMS Blackmore (Lt. H.T. Harrel, RN) make rendez-vous with another group of warships which came from Colombo, these were HMS Warspite (Capt. F.E.P. Hutton, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN), HMS Illustrious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral D.W. Boyd, CBE, DSC, RN), HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.D. Stephens, RN), HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Cdr. E.J. van Holte, RNN), HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, DSO, RN), HMS Inconstant (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN), HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. R.D.H.S. Pankhurst, RN) and HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN).

Exercises were then carried out on the 17th and on the 18th all ships entered Kilindini.

1 Sep 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN) departed Kilindini for Durban. She is escorted by the destroyer HMS Duncan (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN). (44)

6 Sep 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN) and HMS Duncan (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN) arrived at Durban. (44)

8 Sep 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN) is docked at Durban. (44)

12 Sep 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN) is undocked. (44)

17 Sep 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN), HMS Duncan (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN) and HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, DSO, RN) departed Durban for Capetown. (44)

20 Sep 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN), HMS Duncan (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN) and HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, DSO, RN) arrived at Capetown. (44)

21 Sep 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN), HMS Duncan (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN) and HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, DSO, RN) departed Capetown for Freetown via St. Helena. (44)

27 Sep 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN), HMS Duncan (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN) and HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, DSO, RN) made a short stop at St. Helena. Both ships were fuelled and they departed for Freetown later the same day. (44)

3 Oct 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN), HMS Duncan (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN) and HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, DSO, RN) arrived at Freetown. (45)

7 Oct 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN), HMS Duncan (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN) and HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, DSO, RN) departed Freetown to Bermuda. (45)

17 Oct 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN), HMS Duncan (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN) and HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, DSO, RN) arrived at Bermuda. (45)

18 Oct 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN), HMS Duncan (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN) and HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, DSO, RN) departed Bermuda for Philadelphia. (45)

20 Oct 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN) arrived at Philadelphia. She had been escorted to there by HMS Duncan (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN) and HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, DSO, RN) which then continued on to New York where they arrived the following day. (45)

21 Oct 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN) proceeded up the Delaware River to the Philadelphia Navy Yard where she was taken in hand for refit and modernisation. (45)

6 Jul 1943
HMS Royal Sovereign (A/Capt. P. Skelton, RN) is docked at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. (46)

30 Jul 1943
HMS Royal Sovereign (A/Capt. P. Skelton, RN) is undocked. (46)

14 Sep 1943
HMS Royal Sovereign (A/Capt. P. Skelton, RN) proceeded downstream and anchored off the mouth of the Delaware River. (47)

16 Sep 1943
HMS Royal Sovereign (A/Capt. P. Skelton, RN) returned to the Philadelphia Navy Yard. (47)

29 Sep 1943
HMS Royal Sovereign (A/Capt. P. Skelton, RN) proceeded downstream and anchored off the mouth of the Delaware River. (47)

3 Oct 1943
HMS Royal Sovereign (A/Capt. P. Skelton, RN) shifted from the mouth of the Delaware River to Chesapeake Bay. En-route gunnery trials were carried out. (48)

7 Oct 1943
HMS Royal Sovereign (A/Capt. P. Skelton, RN) conducted gunnery trials in Chesapeake Bay. (48)

9 Oct 1943
HMS Royal Sovereign (A/Capt. P. Skelton, RN) proceeded to the Norfolk Naval Base. (48)

11 Oct 1943
HMS Royal Sovereign (A/Capt. P. Skelton, RN) departed the Norfolk Navy Base for Argentia, Newfoundland. She is being escorted by the frigates and HMS Capel (Lt. B.G. Heslop, DSC, RN), HMS Inver (Lt.Cdr. F.H. Gray, RNR) and HMS Findhorn (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Dawson, RD, RNR). (48)

15 Oct 1943
HMS Royal Sovereign (A/Capt. P. Skelton, RN), HMS Capel (Lt. B.G. Heslop, DSC, RN), HMS Inver (Lt.Cdr. F.H. Gray, RNR) and HMS Findhorn (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Dawson, RD, RNR) arrived at Argentia. (48)

16 Oct 1943
The battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (A/Capt. P. Skelton, RN) departed Argentia for Greenock. She is escorted by the frigates HMS Capel (Lt. B.G. Heslop, DSC, RN), HMS Cooke (Lt.Cdr. L.C. Hill, OBE, RD, RNR), HMS Inver (Lt.Cdr. F.H. Gray, RNR) and HMS Findhorn (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Dawson, RD, RNR). (48)

23 Oct 1943
HMS Royal Sovereign (A/Capt. P. Skelton, RN), HMS Capel (Lt. B.G. Heslop, DSC, RN), HMS Cooke (Lt.Cdr. L.C. Hill, OBE, RD, RNR), HMS Inver (Lt.Cdr. F.H. Gray, RNR) and HMS Findhorn (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Dawson, RD, RNR) arrived at Greenock. (48)

24 Oct 1943
HMS Royal Sovereign (A/Capt. P. Skelton, RN) departed Greenock for Rosyth. She is escorted by HMS Inver (Lt.Cdr. F.H. Gray, RNR) and HMS Findhorn (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Dawson, RD, RNR). (48)

26 Oct 1943
HMS Royal Sovereign (A/Capt. P. Skelton, RN), HMS Inver (Lt.Cdr. F.H. Gray, RNR) and HMS Findhorn (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Dawson, RD, RNR) arrived at Rosyth. (48)

10 Feb 1944
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt.(Retd.) S. Hopkins, RN) is docked at Rosyth. (49)

16 Mar 1944
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt.(Retd.) S. Hopkins, RN) is undocked. (50)

7 Apr 1944
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt.(Retd.) S. Hopkins, RN) ran over the D/G range off Rosyth. (51)

9 Apr 1944
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt.(Retd.) S. Hopkins, RN) conducted speed and gunnery trials off the Firth of Forth during which she is escorted by HMS Wolfhound (Lt. J.H.A. Benians, DSC, RN). (51)

Media links


British Battleships of World War One

R. A. Burt


British Battleships, 1919-1945, Revised Edition

R. A. Burt


amazon.com
($ 66.67)

amazon.co.uk
(£ 65.75)


British battleships 1939-45 (1)

Konstam, Angus

Sources

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  7. ADM 199/2568
  8. ADM 199/386
  9. ADM 199/386 + ADM 199/391
  10. ADM 53/113148
  11. ADM 199/383
  12. ADM 53/113149
  13. ADM 53/113150
  14. ADM 53/113151
  15. ADM 53/113151 + ADM 199/381
  16. ADM 53/113151 + ADM 199/654
  17. ADM 53/113152
  18. ADM 53/113152 + ADM 199/367
  19. ADM 53/115035
  20. ADM 53/115036
  21. ADM 53/115037
  22. ADM 53/115038
  23. ADM 53/115038 + ADM 199/2568
  24. ADM 53/115039
  25. ADM 53/115040
  26. ADM 53/115043
  27. ADM 53/105043
  28. ADM 53/115044
  29. ADM 199/395
  30. ADM 199/408
  31. ADM 53/116602
  32. ADM 53/116602 + ADM 199/426
  33. ADM 53/116603 + ADM 199/426
  34. ADM 199/426
  35. ADM 53/116604
  36. ADM 53/116490 + ADM 53/116604 + ADM 199/426
  37. ADM 53/116604 + ADM 199/426
  38. ADM 199/1389
  39. ADM 53/116606
  40. ADM 53/116606 + ADM 199/426
  41. ADM 53/116607
  42. ADM 53/116608
  43. ADM 199/429
  44. ADM 53/116609
  45. ADM 53/116610
  46. ADM 53/118498
  47. ADM 53/118500
  48. ADM 53/118501
  49. ADM 53/110431
  50. ADM 53/120432
  51. ADM 53/120433

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


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