Allied Warships

HMS Revenge (06)

Battleship of the Royal Sovereign class


HMS Revenge during the Second World War.

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeBattleship
ClassRoyal Sovereign 
Pennant06 
Built byVickers (Barrow-in-Furness, U.K.) 
Ordered 1913 
Laid down22 Dec 1913 
Launched29 May 1915 
Commissioned1 Feb 1916 
End service 
History

Sold in July 1948 to T.W. Ward, arrived at Inverkeithing on 5 September 1948 for scrapping.

 

Commands listed for HMS Revenge (06)

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

CommanderFromTo
1Capt. Ernest Russell Archer, RN10 Jul 193910 Jun 1941
2Capt. Llewellyn Vaughan Morgan, DSC, RN10 Jun 19411 Jan 1943
3A/Capt. St. John Cronyn, DSO, RN1 Jan 19436 Mar 1943
4Capt. Gervase Boswell Middleton, RN6 Mar 194323 Aug 1943
5Capt. St. John Cronyn, DSO, RN23 Aug 194324 Oct 1943

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Notable events involving Revenge include:


The page for this battleship was last updated in February 2022.

13 Sep 1939
The battleships HMS Resolution (Capt. C.H. Knox-Little, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral L.E. Holland, CB, RN) and HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) conducted gunnery exercises off Portland.

[No details available if they were escorted or not.] (1)

15 Sep 1939
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) conducted 4" AA gunnery exercises off Portland. (2)

20 Sep 1939
The battleships HMS Resolution (Capt. C.H. Knox-Little, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral L.E. Holland, CB, RN) and HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) conducted gunnery exercises off Portland.

[No details available if they were escorted or not.] (1)

25 Sep 1939
The battleships HMS Resolution (Capt. C.H. Knox-Little, RN) and HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) conducted gunnery exercises off Portland during which they were escorted by the destroyers HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, RN) and HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN).

Following these exercises HMS Jaguar departed Portland for the Humber. (3)

1 Oct 1939

1 October 1939, an enemy raider reported in the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean.
The chase of the German ‘pocket battleship’ Admiral Graf Spee

Movements of the German ‘pocket battleship’ Admiral Graf Spee 21 August 1939 – 13 December 1939.

Before the Second World War had started, on 21 August 1939, the German ‘pocked battleship’ Admiral Graf Spee departed Wilhelmshaven bound for the South Atlantic. On 1 September the Admiral Graf Spee was off the Canary Islands where she made rendes-vous with the supply ship Altmark and supplies were transferred.

On 11 September another rendes-vous was made with the Altmark in the South Atlantic. The Admiral Graf Spee had launched her Arado floatplane to scout in the area as supplies were transferred. The aircraft spotted the British heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland (Capt. W.H.G. Fallowfield, RN). The German ships then immediately parted company and cleared the area at high speed. Two days later, on the 13th, the ships again met and fueling was completed. The Admiral Graf Spee was still under orders to remain unseen.

On 20 September 1939 the Admiral Graf Spee and Altmark met again to fuel. On the 26th the Admiral Graf Spee was ordered to start raiding the British trade lanes. She then proceeded towards the Pernambuco area.

On 30 September 1939 the Admiral Graf Spee found her first victim, the British merchant vessel Clement (5050 GRT, built 1934) that was en-route from New York, U.S.A. to Bahia, Brasil. She then sank the ship in position 09°05’S, 34°05’W. The Admiral Graf Spee then proceeded eastwards and found three more victims between 5 and 10 October. On the 5th she captured the British merchant Newton Beech (4644 GRT, built 1925) in position 09°35’S, 06°30’W. This ship was en-route from Capetown to the U.K. via Freetown. On the 7th she sank the British merchant Ashlea (4222 GRT, built 1929) in position 09°52’S, 03°28’W. This ship was en-route from Durban to Falmouth. The crew of the Ashlea was transferred to the Newton Beech. The next day both crew were transferred to the Admiral Graf Spee and the Newton Beech was scuttled. On 10 October the Admiral Graf Spee captured the British merchant Huntsman (8196 GRT, built 1921) in position 08°30’S, 05°15’W. This ship was en-route from Calcutta to the U.K. On 15 October 1939 the Admiral Graf Spee met the Altmark again to receive supplies and fuel. On the 17th the crew of the Huntsman was transferred to the Altmark and the ship was scuttled in approximate position 16°S, 17°W. The next day the crews of the Newton Beech and Ashlea were also transferred to the Altmark and the German ships then parted company.

On 22 October 1939, the Admiral Graf Spee sank her next victim, the British merchant Trevanion (5299 GRT, built 1937) which was en-route from Port Pirie (Australia) to Swansea. This ship was sunk in position 19°40’S, 04°02’E. On 28 October 1939, near Tristan da Cunha, the Admiral Graf Spee once more refuelled from the Altmark. The Admiral Graf Spee then set course for the Indian Ocean.

On 15 November 1939 she sank the small British tanker Africa Shell (706 GRT, built 1939) in position 24°45’S, 35°00’E. This ship was in ballast and en-route from Quelimane (Portugese East Africa now called Mozambique) to Lourenco Marques (now Maputo, also in Portugese East Africa / Mozambique). Next day the Admiral Graf Spee stopped the Dutch merchant Mapia (7188 GRT, built 1923) but had to let her go as she was a neutral ship. The Admiral Graf Spee then set course to return to the South Atlantic where she met once more with the Altmark on 27 November 1939 and the next day she fuelled from her about 300 miles from Tristan da Cunha.

On 2 December 1939, the Admiral Graf Spee sank her largest victim, the British merchant Doric Star (10086 GRT, built 1921),in position 19°15’S, 05°05’E. This ship was en-route from Auckland, New Zealand to the U.K. The next morning the Admiral Graf Spee sank the British merchant Tairoa (7983 GRT, built 1920) in position 19°40’S, 04°02’E. This ship was en-route from Brisbane, Australia to London. On 6 December 1939 the Admiral Graf Spee refuelled once more from the Altmark. She then set course to the River Plate area where the British merchant traffic was the thickest. She was to sink more ships there and disrupt British shipping movements in that area before returning to Germany.

On 7 December 1939 the Admiral Graf Spee sank what was to be her last victim, the British merchant Streonshalh (3895 GRT, built 1928) in position 25°01’S, 27°50’W. This ship was en-route from Montevideo to Freetown and then onwards to the U.K.

Then in the morning of 13 December 1939, her smoke was sighted by three cruisers from the South America Division. More on this in the article ‘The Battle of the River Plate, 13 December 1939’.

British Dispositions in the South Atlantic / South America area

Shortly before the outbreak of the war the South America Division of the America and West Indies Station was transferred to the newly formed South Atlantic Station. The South America Division at that moment consisted of the heavy cruiser HMS Exeter (Capt. F.S. Bell, RN, flying the flag of Commodore H.H. Harwood, OBE, RN) and the light cruiser HMS Ajax (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, RN). In late August 1939 HMS Exeter was at Devonport with her crew on foreign leave when she was recalled to South American waters. On 25 August 1939 she sailed from Devonport. HMS Exeter arrived at Freetown on 1 September 1939. Commodore Harwood then met the Commander-in-Chief South Atlantic Station, Vice-Admiral G. D’Oyly Lyon, CB, RN. Later the same day HMS Exeter sailed for Rio de Janeiro.

Meanwhile four destroyers from the 4th Destroyer Division, Mediterranean Fleet, the HMS Hotspur (Cdr. H.F.H. Layman, RN), HMS Havock (Lt.Cdr. R.E. Courage, RN), HMS Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicholson, RN) and HMS Hunter (Lt.Cdr. L. de Villiers, RN) had left Gibraltar on 31 August 1939 for Freetown.

HMS Ajax was already on station off the coast of South America. Shortly after noon on 3 September she intercepted the German merchant vessel Olinda (4576 GRT, built 1927) in position 34°58’S, 53°32’W. This ship was en-route from Montivideo to Germany. As HMS Ajax had no prize crew available the ship was sunk by gunfire a few hours later. In the afternoon of the next day, the 4th, HMS Ajax intercepted another German ship, the Carl Fritzen (6594 GRT, built 1920) in position 33°22’S, 48°50’W. This ship was en-route from Rotterdam to Buenos Aires. This ship was also sunk with gunfire.

On 5 September two of the destroyers from the 4th Destroyer Division, HMS Hotspur and HMS Havock departed Freetown to join the South America Division. They were ordered to examine Trinidade Island on the way. On 8 September 1939 the heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland (Capt. W.H.G. Fallowfield, RN) departed Freetown to join the South America Division as well. This cruiser came from the Home Fleet and had arrived at Freetown on the 7th.

On 7 September 1939, HMS Exeter entered Rio de Janeiro where Commodore Harwood had a meeting with the Brazilian Secretary-General of Foreign Affairs and H.M. Ambassadors to Brazil and Argentine. HMS Exeter departed Rio de Janeiro the next day. Later that day Commodore Harwood was informed by the Admiralty that the German merchant ships General Artigas (11343 GRT, built 1923), Gloria (5896 GRT, built 1917) and Monte Pascoal (13870 GRT, built 1931) were assembling off the Patagonian coast. He decided to move both HMS Exeter and HMS Ajax south, and ordered the Ajax to meet him at 0800/9. They actually made rendezvous at 0700 hours. The Commodore considered it possible that the German merchant ships might embark German reservists and raid the Falkland Islands therefore he decided to sent HMS Ajax there. HMS Exeter proceeded to the Plate area to cover that important area.

On the evening of the 10th, Commodore Harwood was informed that the transportation of German reservists by the three German merchant ships was very unlikely but as it appeared probable that the German ships were converting themselves into armed raiders the Commodore decided to start short distance convoys from the Santos-Rio and Plate areas. He therefore ordered HMS Cumberland to refuel at Rio de Janeiro on her arrival there and to organize and run ‘out’ convoys in that area with HMS Havock as A/S escort. The convoys were to leave at dawn and be protected against submarines and surface raiders until dusk. The ships were then to be dispersed so that they would be far apart by dawn the next day. At the same time the Commodore ordered HMS Hotspur to join him in the Plate area after refuelling at Rio de Janeiro, so that similar convoys could be started from Montevideo. If one of the German ‘pocket battleships’ was to arrive of South America, HMS Cumberland was to abandon the convoy sheme and join HMS Exeter in the Plate area. Also on the 10th, Commodore Harwood was informed by the Admiralty that the German merchant Montevideo (6075 GRT, built 1936) was leaving Rio Grande do Sul for Florianopolis but decided not to intercept her as this would divert HMS Exeter 500 nautical miles from the Plate area.

On the night of 12 September 1939 the Commodore was informed by the British Naval Attaché, Buenos Aires, that a concentration of German reservists was taking place in southern Argentina with the Falklands as a possible objective. He therefore ordered HMS Ajax to remain in the Falklands till the situation cleared, and the Commodore then proceeded south of the Plate area to be closer to the Falklands himself and yet remain in easy reach of the Plate area. During the next few days HMS Exeter intercepted several British and neutral vessels.

In view of a report that the German merchant vessels Porto Alegré (6105 GRT, built 1936) and Monte Olivia (13750 GRT, built 1925) were leaving Santos on 15 September 1939 Commodore Harwood decided to start the short distance convoys from Montevideo as soon as possible. HMS Cumberland had meanwhile arranged a twelve-hour convoy system from Santos. Ships from Rio de Janeiro for Freetown would sail at dawn on odd numbered days, and ships for the south on even numbered days with HMS Havock as anti-submarine escort and HMS Cumberland in distant support. HMS Cumberland left Rio de Janeiro on 16 September and during the next eight days sighted 15 British and neutral ships while on patrol.

On 17 September 1939, HMS Hotspur joined HMS Exeter in the Plate area. HMS Exeter then made a visit to Montevideo and resumed her patrol off the Plate area on the 20th. Fuelling was done from the oiler RFA Olwen (6470 GRT, built 1917, Master B. Tunnard) in the mouth of the River Plate. Soon after leaving Montevideo on 20 September Commodore Harwood learned from the British Naval Attaché, Buenos Aires, that the local German authorities were endeavoring to inform German ships at sea that the British merchant Lafonia (1872 GRT, built 1911) was on her way to the Falklands with British reservists for the Falkland Islands defence force. It was also reported that on 17 September an unknown warship had passed Punta Arenas eastwards. In view of these reports and of other pointing out that German merchant ships in southern waters were being outfitted as armed raiders the Commodore ordered HMS Hotsput to escort the Laofona to Port Stanley. As the volume of trade in the Plate area was greater than in the Rio de Janeiro – Santos area, HMS Havock was ordered to proceed southwards to the Plate area.

The first local convoy outward from Montevideo sailed on 22 September 1939. It consisted of the British merchant ships Sussex (11062 GRT, built 1937), Roxby (4252 GRT, built 1923), El Ciervo (5841 GRT, built 1923) in addition to the earlier mentioned Lafonia, and was escorted by HMS Hotspur. HMS Exeter met this convoy during the forenoon and covered it throughout the day. At dusk the merchant ships were dispersed on prearranged courses while HMS Exeter remained within supporting distance and HMS Hotspur escorted the Lafonia to Port Stanley.

On 24 September 1939, Vice-Admiral Lyon (C-in-C, South Atlantic) and Commodore Harwood learned from the Naval Attaché, Buenos Aires, that ‘according to a reliable source’ arrangements had been made for a number of German ships and a submarine to meet near Ascension on 28 September 1939. HMS Cumberland was ordered to proceed there and HMS Ajax was ordered to leave the Falklands and take up her place in the Rio de Janeiro area. HMS Neptune (Capt. J.A.V. Morse, DSO, RN) was also ordered to proceed to the area off Ascension with the destroyers HMS Hyperion and HMS Hunter which departed Freetown on the 25th. No German ships were however encountered off Ascension and all ships then proceeded to Freetown where they arrived on 2 October 1939 with HMS Cumberland low on fuel.

While HMS Cumberland left the station to search for the German ships, HMS Exeter and HMS Ajax were sweeping of the Plate and Rio de Janeiro – Santos area respectively. On 27 September 1939, HMS Havock escorted a convoy made up of the British merchants Miguel de Larrinaga (5231 GRT, built 1924), Pilar de Larringa (7352 GRT, built 1918) and Sarthe (5271 GRT, built 1920) out of the Plate area. The next day another convoy, made up of the British merchants Adellen (7984 GRT, built 1930), Cressdene (4270 GRT, built 1936), Holmbury (4566 GRT, built 1925), Lord Byron (4118 GRT, built 1934), Ramillies (4553 GRT, built 1927) and Waynegate (4260 GRT, built 1931) left the Plate area escorted by HMS Havock and with cover from HMS Exeter.

At daylight on 29 September 1939 HMS Ajax was off Rio de Janeiro ready to escort ships sailing northward. She sighted none until the early afternoon when she met the Almeda Star (12848 GRT, built 1926) and a few hours later the tanker San Ubaldo (5999 GRT, built 1921). That night several neutral steamers were sighted off Rio de Janeiro and the next day the British La Pampa (4149 GRT, built 1938) was met and escorted during daylight on her way to Santos. So far on the work of the South American Division during September 1939. The ships assigned to Commodore Harwood had been busy patrolling and escorting ships near the focal areas.

A surface raider reported, 1 October 1939.

When a report that the British merchant Clement had been sunk on 30 September 1939 by a surface raider off Pernambuco was received by the Admiralty in the afternoon of October 1st, the C-in-C, South Atlantic was informed that he should retain the 4th Destroyer Division and that his command would be reinforced by the cruisers HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.G.B. Wilson, DSO, RN), HMS Capetown (Capt. T.H. Back, RN), HMS Effingham (Capt. J.M. Howson, RN), HMS Emerald (Capt. A.W.S. Agar, VC, DSO, RN) and HMS Enterprise (Capt. H.J. Egerton, RN). Also the battleships HMS Resolution (Capt. C.H. Knox-Little, RN), HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) and the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes (Capt. F.E.P. Hutton, RN) were to proceed to either Jamaica or Freetown. These dispositions however never materialised being superseded on 5 October 1939 by a more general policy (the institution of hunting groups) which cancelled them.

The institution of hunting groups, 5 October 1939.

On 5 October 1939 the Admiralty formed five hunting groups in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean of sufficient strength to destroy any ‘pocket battleship’ or Hipper-class cruiser. These were;
Force F; area: North America and West Indies.
HMS Berwick (Capt. I.M. Palmer, DSC, RN),
HMS York (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN),
Force G; area: S.E. coast of South America.
HMS Cumberland,
HMS Exeter
Force H; area: Cape of Good Hope, South Africa.
HMS Sussex (Capt. A.R. Hammick, RN),
HMS Shropshire (Capt. A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN),
Force I; area: Ceylon.
HMS Cornwall (Capt. C.F. Hamill, RN),
HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. B.S.C. Martin, RN),
HMS Eagle (Capt. A.R.M. Bridge, RN),
Force K; area: Pernambuco, Brazil.
HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN),
HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN),
Force L; area: Brest, France.
Dunkerque (Capt. J.L. Nagadelle, replaced by Capt. M.J.M. Seguin on 16 October),
Bearn (Capt. M.M.A. Lafargue, replaced by Capt. Y.E. Aubert on 7 October),
Georges Leygues (Capt. R.L. Perot),
Gloire (Capt. F.H.R. de Belot),
Montcalm (Capt. P.J. Ronarc’h),
Force M; area: Dakar, Senegal.
Dupleix (Capt. L.L.M. Hameury),
Foch (Capt. J. Mathieu),
and Force N; area: West Indies.
Strasbourg (Capt. J.F.E. Bouxin),
HMS Hermes
.

The institution of the hunting groups were not the only measures taken. The battleships HMS Resolution, HMS Revenge and the light cruisers HMS Emerald and HMS Enterprise were ordered to proceed to Halifax, Nova Scotia to escort homeward bound convoys. Light cruiser HMS Effingham was to join them later. The battleship HMS Ramillies (Capt. H.T. Baillie-Grohman, DSO, RN) left Gibraltar on 5 October for the same duty but was recalled the next day when the battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. I.B.B. Tower, DSC, RN) and the aircraft carrier HMS Glorious (Capt. G. D’Oyly-Hughes, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) were ordered to leave the Mediterranean and proceed to the Indian Ocean where they formed an addition hunting group, Force J which was to operate in the Socotra area off the entrance to the Gulf of Aden.

Now back to the South Atlantic, on 9 October 1939 the C-in-C, South Atlantic had informed the Admiralty and Commodore Harwood that he intended to co-ordinate the movements of ‘Force G’, ‘Force H’ and ‘Force K’. As this would entail long periods of wireless silence in ‘Force G’ he proposed that Commodore Harwood should transfer his flag to HMS Ajax, leaving Capt. Fallowfield of HMS Cumberland in command of Force G. The Admiralty approved of this. Commodore Harwood stated that it was his intention to transfer his flag from HMS Exeter to HMS Ajax in the River Plate area on 27 October. He also stated that the endurance of HMS Exeter was only half the endurance of HMS Cumberland and that this would prove problematic when they were to operate together and he proposed that the Exeter would be relieved by another 10000 ton cruiser but for the moment no suitable cruiser was available to relieve her.

On 12 October 1939 the first of the hunting forces arrived on their station when HMS Renown and HMS Ark Royal reached Freetown that morning coming from the U.K. They were soon followed by three more destroyers of the H-class coming from the Mediterranean; HMS Hardy (Capt. B.A. Warburton-Lee, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN) and HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, RN). On 13 October 1939 the cruisers HMS Sussex and HMS Shropshire arrived at Simonstown from the Mediterranean and one day later HMS Hermes arrived at Dakar from Plymouth.

The South America Division during the first half of October 1939.

When the news of an enemy raider in the South Atlantic reached the C-in-C at Freetown on 1 October 1939 he immediately suspended sailings from Pernambuco and Natal and he ordered HMS Havock and HMS Hotspur to escort British ships clear of the area. But next morning he cancelled these dispositions and ordered Commodore Harwood to concentrate HMS Exeter, HMS Ajax and the two destroyers off Rio de Janeiro. By this time, however, the raider was far away from the South American coast. On 3 October 1939 the Commodore signalled the C-in-C that he intened to concentrate the Exeter and Ajax off Rio and have the Hotspur to cover the Rio – Santos area and keep the Havock off the Plate but upon receiving the orders from the C-in-C to concentrate he ordered to destroyers to join the cruisers after fuelling but not later then 0800 hours on 4 October. Reports that the enemy raider was not a ‘pocket battleship’ however kept coming in and the Commodore decided that he could not leave the heavy traffic in the Plate area without some form of protection and he ordered HMS Havock to return there but when a report coming in from Bahia, Brazil confirmed that the Clement had been sunk by the ‘pocket battleship’ Admiral Scheer the Commodore once more ordered HMS Havock to join him. In the end HMS Ajax joined HMS Exeter at 1700/3, HMS Hotspur at 0500/4 and finally HMS Havock at 1300/4.

The Commodore was also informed by the Admiralty that the New Zealand cruiser HMNZS Achilles (Capt. W.E. Parry, RN) would join his station coming from the west coast of South America. HMS Cumberland left Freetown at 1900/3 to join the Commodore in the Rio de Janeiro area as well.

Commodore Harwood’s policy against enemy raiders and a new raider report coming on on 5 October 1939.

Commodore Harwood had decided to keep his forces concentrated and as no new raider reports had come in to patrol the Rio de Janeiro area in accordance with the C-in-C, South Atlantic’s order. If he met a ‘pocket battleship’ he intended to shadow it until dusk. He would then close and attack in the dark hours. If, on the other hand, he made contact at night, his destroyers would at once close the enemy’s beam and attack her with torpedoes.

On 5 October 1939, the British merchant Martand (7967 GRT, built 1939) informed HMS Cumberland that a German armed raider had attacked an unknown ship, this unknown ship was in fact the Newton Beech that was attacked about 900 nautical miles away. This information was not acted upon by the Commanding Officer of the Cumberland. The Captain of the Cumberland assumed the raider report would have been intercepted by other ships and passed on to the C-in-C, South Atlantic. He considered it was important to keep radio silence and decided against breaking it. The Admiralty however later was of the opinion that the report should have been passed on to the Commander-in-Chief.

By 5 October 1939, the Exeter, Ajax, Havock and Hotspur were concentrated in the Rio de Janeiro area ready to engage the raider if she came south from the Pernambuco area. HMNZS Achilles was on her way round Cape Horn.

When HMS Ajax visited Rio de Janeiro on 7 October 1939, Commodore Harwood directed her to suggest to the Consular Shipping Advisers there, and at Santos, that, owning to the small volume of shipping leaving these ports, the local convoy systems, which had been instituted on 22 September against armed merchant raiders, should be suspended, and Allied merchant ships be routed independently.

The Commodore intended to meet HMS Cumberland at 1700/8, but at 1600/7 he received a message from the Consular Shipping Adviser at Rio de Janeiro in which he desired an escort for a 13 knot convoy that was to sail at 0430/8 and that had received much local publicity. The Commodore thought that this publicity might draw the enemy raider to the area and he therefore took his entire force back towards Rio de Janeiro and sent HMS Hotspur ahead to make contact with the convoy, while keeping his other ships in support. The convoy consisted of the British merchants Highland Chieftain (14131 GRT, built 1929), Nariva (8723 GRT, built 1920) and the French merchant Alsina (8404 GRT, built 1922).

Meanwhile the Commodore had directed HMS Cumberland to meet him at dawn on October 9th. When the convoy was dispersed at 1800/8 the Exeter and Ajax steered to meet her while the Havock was detached to fuel at Rio de Janeiro. At 2200/8 HMS Ajax was detached. HMS Cumberland made rendezvous with HMS Exeter at 0500/9. They were ordered by the C-in-C, South Atlantic to make a sweep northwards but this could not be carried out as HMS Exeter was short of fuel. The Commodore therefore decided to make a sweep southwards towards the Plate area where HMS Exeter could refuel. He also decided to keep HMS Hotspur with the two cruisers as long as possible.

On 12 October 1939, Rio Grande do Sul reported that the German merchant Rio Grande (6062 GRT, built 1939) was about to sail. The Commodore at once ordered HMS Cumberland to proceed there and intercept. She arrived off Rio Grande do Sul at 1600/13 but on finding it all quiet in the harbour she shaped course for the Plate area at nightfall. Meanwhile the Commodore had ordered HMS Hotspur to fuel at Montevideo when HMS Havock left that port early on the 14th.

about this time RFA Olwen informed the Commodore the the German merchant Bahia Laura (8611 GRT, built 1918) was leaving Montevideo at 1000 next morning and might protest if HMS Havock sailed the same day. Instead, therefore, of entering Montevideo HMS Hotspur at once fueled from the Olwen and then remained out on patrol. The Bahia Laura however, showed no signs of leaving and at 0800/14, HMS Havock put to sea. At 1200 hours HMS Hotspur entered Montevideo. Later that day HMS Exeter and HMS Cumberland fueled from the Olwen in San Borombon Bay at the southern entrance to the Plate estuary. At 1430 hours they were joined by HMS Havock. Commodore Harwood then ordered her to patrol off Montevideo to watch the Bahia Laura. When HMS Exeter finished fueling she immediately put to sea. HMS Cumberland rejoined him next morning at 0700 hours. HMS Havock was then ordered to join the cruisers. On 16 October the commodore learned that the Bahia Laura had sailed at 1015 hours the previous day. By the time the signal reached him the German ship was far out at sea well past his patrol line. But as the whole area was enveloped in dense fog the Commodore decided against trying to catch her.

The South America Division during the second half of October 1939.

Meanwhile Commodore Harwood had informed the Commander-in-Chief, South Atlantic on 13 October that as HMS Exeter required certain minor repairs he proposed to proceed to the Falklands on the17th and then return to the Plate area on the 27th. The Commander-in-Chief replied that he preferred that HMS Exeter would stay in the Plate area till the Commodore would transfer his Broad Pendant to HMS Ajax on the 27th. As HMNZS Achilles was due in the Plate area on this day also, she and HMS Cumberland could then operate as ‘Force G’ during the Exeter’s absence. This would mean that there would be no cruiser in the Rio de Janeiro area until HMS Exeter would return from her repairs at the Falklands. The Commodore therefore ordered HMS Havock to sail on 21 October for a four day patrol in the Rio – Santos Area, where HMS Hotspur, which could remain at sea until 2 November, would relieve her. From that date until the relief of HMNZS Achilles there would be no warship in this area. The Commodore therefore asked the Commander-in-Chief to allow ‘Force G’ to operate in that area from 2 to 10 November. When HMS Hotspur joined the Exeter and Cumberland from Montevideo on 17 October the Commodore ordered her to patrol off Rio Grande do Sul to intercept the German ships Rio Grande and Montevideo if they would come out, and sent HMS Havock to patrol inshore with orders to anchor the night clear of the shipping route.

This proved to be the last duty of these two destroyers with the South America Division. On 20 October the Admiralty ordered their transfer to the West Indies. Three days later the Commodore sent them into Buenos Aires to refuel, and as the distance to Trinidad, 4000 miles, was at the limit of their endurance, also obtained permission to refuel them at Pernambuco. They both left Buenos Aires on the 25th and, bidding the Commodore farewell, proceeded northwards. They sailed from Pernambuco on 1 November but on the 3rd HMS Havock was diverted to Freetown with engine trouble. The two remaining destroyers of the 4th Division, HMS Hyperion and HMS Hunter, had left Freetown with convoy SL 6 on 23 October. Off Daker their escort duty was taken over by the French light cruiser Duguay-Trouin (Capt. J.M.C. Trolley de Prevaux). The destroyers then fueled at Dakar on the 27th and sailed for Trinidad early on the 28th.

Meanwhile HMS Cumberland had entered Montevideo at 0800/26. At 0900/26 HMNZS Achilles joined HMS Exeter in the Plate area and after fueling from RFA Olwen sailed to meet HMS Cumberland off Lobos the next day and then patrol with her as ‘Force G’ in the Rio – Santos area. The Olwen was now nearly out of fuel and filled up HMS Ajax ,which had arrived from the Rio area on the 26th, with her remaining fuel minus 500 tons for her passage to Trinidad. In the morning of 27 October, Commodore Harwood transferred his Broad Pendant to HMS Ajax and HMS Exeter then parted company to proceed to the Falklands for repairs.

Meanwhile the newly formed ‘Force H’ and ‘Force K’ were busy on the other side of the South Atlantic. ‘Force H’, made up of HMS Sussex and HMS Shropshire had reached the Cape on 13 October. As HMS Cumberland had not passed on the report of the Martland, no news on the raider had reached the Admiralty or the Commander-in-Chief since October 1st. On 14 October ‘Force H’ sailed to search for her along the Cape – Freetown route as far as the latitude of St. Helena. That day ’Force K’ (HMS Ark Royal and HMS Renown) left Freetown with HMS Neptune, HMS Hardy, HMS Hero (Cdr. C.F. Tower, MVO, RN) and HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN) to search westwards towards St. Paul Rocks, the direction of their sweep being determined by the complete lack of any further raider information.

Finally a raider report on 22 October 1939, Sweeps by ‘Force H’ and ‘Force K’.

The three weeks old ‘mystery’ of the raiders whereabouts was partially solved on 22 October when the British merchant vessel Llanstephan Castle (11293 GRT, built 1914) intercepted a message from an unknown ship ‘Gunned in 16°S, 04°03’E’ at 1400 G.M.T. There was however no immediate confirmation of her report and the Commander-in-Chief ordered ‘Force H’ to sail after dark on the 27th to sail for the latitude of St. Helena. At noon on 31 October this Force was in 15°S, 02°51’E, the north-eastern limit of it’s patrol, when a Walrus aircraft failed to return to HMS Sussex from a reconnaissance flight. It was never found, though the two cruisers spend over three days searching for it. Being short of fuel they then returned to the Cape by the same route they had used outwards.

Sweep by ‘Force K’, 28 October – 6 November 1939.

To cover the northern end of the route from St. Helena onward, HMS Neptune and the destroyers HMS Hardy, HMS Hasty, HMS Hero and HMS Hereward had left Freetown on 28 October. HMS Neptune was to sweep independently from position 03°20’S, 01°10’W and then through 14°30’S, 16°50’W back to Freetown. On 30 October a report from Dakar stated that the German merchant Togo (5042 GRT, built 1938) had left the Congo on 26 October, that the German merchant Pionier (3254 GRT, built 1934) had sailed from Fernando Po (now called Bioko Island) on 28 October and that five German ships had left Lobito (Angola) the same day. When the Vice-Admiral, Aircraft Carriers, received this information her detached HMS Hardy and HMS Hasty to sweep north-westward for the Pioneer, while ‘Force K’ and the remaining two destroyers searched for her to the south-westward. Both searches were unsuccessful. Meanwhile a message from Lobito had stated that the five German ships that were stated to have left the harbour were still there. On 5 November the German merchant vessel Uhenfels (7603 GRT, built 1931), that had left Laurenco Marques (now called Maputo, Mozambique) on 16 October was sighted by an aircraft from HMS Ark Royal. Only energetic action from HMS Hereward saved her from being scuttled in position 06°02’N, 17°25’W. She was brought into Freetown on 7 November by HMS Herward, a few hours behind ‘Force K’.

’Force H’ and ‘Force G’, first half of November 1939.

The first half of November was relatively quiet on both sides of the South Atlantic At the start of the month ‘Force H’ and ‘Force K’ were still on the shipping lane between Sierra Leone and the Cape. On 3 November 1939 the Admiralty informed the Commander-in-Chief, South Atlantic that all German capital ships and cruisers were apparently in home waters. It appeared therefore that the pocket battleship, which was still thought to be the Admiral Scheer, had returned home and that the raider reported by the Llangstephan Castle on 22 October was nothing but an armed merchantman. Here was a good opportunity for resting the hunting groups and on 4 November the Admiralty issued orders that ‘Force G’ and ‘Force H’ should exchange areas. This exchange would not only give ‘Force G’ an opportunity of resting and refitting at the Cape, but would also provide Commodore Harwood with the hunting group of long endurance that he desired.

The Commander-in-Chief had planned that ‘Force H’ which had returned to the Cape on 7 November would then sweep towards Durban, arriving there on 16 November. However on the 11th they were ordered to sail for patrol in the Atlantic and on the evening of the 17th, while west of St. Helena, exchange patrol areas with ‘Force G’. The exchange of areas however did not take place as ‘Force G’ was delayed due to HMS Exeter being damaged while casting off from the oiler in heavy seas. Before the exchange now could take place it was cancelled.

South America Division, first half of November 1939.

After hoisting Commodore Harwood’s Broad on 27 October the HMS Ajax had swept the Plate focal area. When the Commodore received the signal of the Commander-in-Chief on the 5th regarding the changeover over patrol areas between ‘Force G’ and ‘Force H’, he ordered HMS Cumberland to proceed to the Plate at 20 knots to refuel. About this time a message reached him from Buenos Aires that the Argentinian Foreign Minister had drawn attention to cases of fueling in the Plate by HMS Exeter and HMS Ajax. Although the Argentinian Government had no apparent intention of raising the issue he decided to cut down the fuellings in the inshore waters of the Plate as much as possible. He therefore cancelled the fuelling of HMS Exeter, due to take place on 7 November from the oiler RFA Olynthus (6888 GRT, built 1918, Master L.N. Hill), which had relieved RFA Olwen. He ordered HMS Cumberland to fuel at Buenos Aires on 9 November. HMS Exeter which had arrived at the Falklands on 31 October for repairs, sailed again on 4 November to meet up with HMS Cumberland off the Plate on 10 November, but the Commodore ordered her to enter Mar del Plata for a 24-hour visit on the 9th. As this gave her some time at hand, he ordered her to cover the Plate while HMS Ajax visited Buenos Aires from 6 to 8 November during which the Commodore discussed the question of fuelling his ships in the River Plate Estuary with the Argentine naval authorities. During his visit to Buenos Aires, the Commodore discussed the matter of fuelling his ships of English Bank with the Argentinian Minister of Marine and his Chief of Naval Staff they both suggested that he should use San Borombon Bay which was most acceptable. He had in fact been using it for some time.

When HMS Ajax left Buenos Aires on 8 November she patrolled the Plate area. HMS Exeter arrived at Mar del Plata the next day but fuel could not be obtained there. She was ordered to fuel from RFA Olynthus in San Borombon Bay on the 10th and then meet up with HMS Cumberland off Lobos Island at 0600/11. On the 10th HMS Ajax also fueled from RFA Olynthus as did HMS Exeter after her while HMS Ajax was at anchor close by. However weather quickly deteriorated and the Olynthus was forced to cast off, damaging the Exeter in doing so. Besides that she was still 600 tons short of fuel. As she could not reach the Cape without a full supply the sailing of ‘Force G’ to exchange areas with ‘Force H’ was delayed. The Exeter finally finished fuelling on the 13th and sailed with HMS Cumberland for Simonstown. Before the exchange of areas could be effected, however, a raider was reported in the Indian Ocean and the order was cancelled.

Another raider report, 16 November 1939.

On 16 November 1939 the Naval Officer-in-Charge, Simonstown, reported that the small British tanker Africa Shell ( GRT, built ) had been sunk off Lourenco Marques the previous day by a raider identified as a pocket battleship. After the usual conflicting reports from eye-widnesses during the next few days, however, it was doubtful how many raiders there were or whether they were pocket battleships or heavy cruisers.

The presence of an enemy heavy ship in the Mozambique Channel called for new dispositions. When the raider report reached the Admiralty on 17 November they immediately cancelled the exchange of areas between ‘Force G’ an ‘Force H’. ‘Force H’ was ordered to return to the Cape and ‘Force G’ was ordered to return to the east coast of South America. They also ordered the dispatch of ‘Force K’ towards the Cape with instructions to go on to Diego Suarez in Madagascar. That morning a report reached the Commander-in-Chief, South Atlantic that the German merchant vessels Windhuk (16662 GRT, built 1937) and Adolph Woermann (8577 GRT, built 1922) had left Lobito. He at once ordered ‘Force H’, which was at that moment west of St. Helena in the approximate latitute of Lobito to spend three days searching for them.

Next day, 18 November 1939, ‘Force K’ left Freetown together with HMS Neptune, HMS Hardy, HMS Hero and HMS Hostile to sweep west of St. Helena through position 16°30’S, 10°W and thence on to Diego Suarez. The destroyers parted company at 2300/18 to search for the German ships. On 20 November 1939, the Commander-in-Chief ordered ‘Force H’ to return to the Cape of nothing of the German merchant vessels had been sighted. HMS Sussex and HMS Shropshire did so on 23 November.

The Adolph Woermann had not escaped. Early on 21 November 1939, the British merchant Waimarama (12843 GRT, built 1938) reported her in position 12°24’S, 03°31’W. At 1127/21, ‘Force K’ (HMS Ark Royal and HMS Renown) was in position 05°55’S, 12°26’W, altered course to close, and HMS Neptune, which was still with them, went ahead at high speed. Shortly after 0800/22 she made contact with the Adolf Woermann in position 10°37’S, 05°11’W and went alongside. Despite efforts to save her the German vessel was scuttled and when HMS Neptune returned to Freetown on 25 November 1939 she had 162 German survivors on board.

’Force H’ and ‘Force K’, second half of November 1939.

As the search for the Adolf Woermann had taken ‘Force K’ nearly 200 miles to the eastward, the Vice-Admiral, Aircraft Carriers decided to proceed to the Cape by the route east of St. Helena to save fuel. In hindsight this might have saved Altmark for being intercepted as she was waiting for the Admiral Graf Spee in the area ‘Force K’ would have otherwise passed through. On 23 November 1939, the Commander-in-Chief, South Atlantic, ordered ‘Force H’ to sail from the Cape the next day and patrol the ‘diverse routes’ as far as 33°E until 28 November.

At the northern end of the South Atlantic station HMS Neptune, HMS Hardy, HMS Hero, HMS Hostile, HMS Hasty and the submarine HMS Clyde (Cdr. W.E. Banks, RN) had established a patrol between 22 and 25 November 1939 to intercept escaping German merchant ships or raiders. No ships were however sighted and they were recalled to Freetown on 30 November.

In the meantime the Admiralty had ordered, ‘Force H’ and ‘Force K’ to conducted a combined patrol on the meridian of 20°E. The two forces met early on 1 December. The plan, according to the Commander-in-Chief, appeared to be a good one in theory but was found unsuitable in practice that on account of local weather conditions. These permitted flying off aircraft from HMS Ark Royal only once in five or six days, so that the patrol could not be extended far enough to the south to intercept a raider bent on evasion. In fact, only once, on 2 December weather was suitable for flying off aircraft.

South America Division, second half of November 1939.

After HMS Cumberland and HMS Exeter (‘Force G’) had sailed from San Borombon Bay for Simonstown on 13 November 1939, HMS Ajax patrolled the Plate area and escorted the French Massilia ( GRT, built ) that was bound for Europe from Buenos Aeres with French reservists. After parting from the Massilia she closed Rio Grande do Sul and ascertained that the German merchant vessels Rio Grande and Montevideo were still there. For the next two days she patrolled the normal peace time shipping routes.

When the Admiralty cancelled the exchange of ereas between ‘Force G’ and ‘Force H’ on 17 November, Commodore Harwood sent ‘Force G’ to cover Rio de Janeiro. He ordered HMNZS Achilles to fuel off the Olynthus in the Plate area on 22 November and then relieve ‘Force G’ in the Rio area as HMS Exeter would need to refuel in the Plate area again on 26 November. HMS Cumberland was to remain with the Exeter to keep ‘Force G’ together so she could refuel from the Olynthus as well. They were then to patrol the Plate area so that HMS Ajax could visit the Falklands.

On 18 November the Commodore was informed that the German merchant Ussukuma ( GRT, built ) might sail from Bahia Blanca for Montevideo at any time. He at once ordered the Olynthus to watch for her between Manos and Cape San Antonio and took the Ajax south to the same vicinity.

On 22 November 1939 HMNZS Achilles heard the German merchant Lahn (8498 GRT, built 1927) calling Cerrito by wireless, and when HMS Ajax arrived half an hour later a search was carried out. It was insuccessful for both cruisers but both the Lahn and another German merchant the Tacoma (8268 GRT, built 1930) reached Montevideo safely during the forenoon.

HMS Ajax and HMNZS Achilles then both fuelled from the Olynthus at San Borombon Bay during the next afternoon. The Achilles the sailed for the Rio de Janeiro area. She had orders to move up to Pernambuco and show herself off Cabadello and Bahia as a number of German ships in Pernambuco were reported ready to sail to Cabadello to load cotton for Germany. She was to return at once to the Rio area if any raiders were reported in the South Atlantic.

HMS Ajax left the Plate area on 25 November 1939 and sent up a seaplane to reconnoitre Bahia Blanca. The Ussukuma showed no signs of sailing so HMS Ajax proceeded to the Falklands, arriving there on the 27th. By this time HMS Cumberland and HMS Exeter were in urgent need of refits after long periods at sea, and Commodore Harwood ordered the Exeter to proceed to the Falklands forthwith. She arrived at Port Stanley on 29 November 1939 and her defects were immediately taken in hand as far as local resources permitted.

8 December 1939 was the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Battle of the Falklands, and thinking the enemy might attempt to avenge the defeat, the Commodore ordered HMS Cumberland to patrol off the Falklands as of 7 December for two days after which she too was to enter Port Stanley for rest and refit.

French Forces at Dakar in November 1939.

During November them most important event at Dakar, where the French were maintaining a number of more or less regular patrols, was the reorganisation of ‘Force X’. On 1 November 1939 the large destroyer L’Audacieux (Cdr. L.M. Clatin) sailed from Dakar to the westward to 26°W and thence south-west to search for the German merchant Togo. She returned to Dakar on 4 November having sighted nothing. That day the French light cruiser Duguay-Trouin sailed to sweep round the Cape Verde Islands and then on to St. Paul Rocks. She returned to Dakar on 10 November. The old ‘Force X’, the Strasbourg (Capt. J.F.E. Bouxin), Algerie (Capt. L.H.M. Nouvel de la Fleche) and Dupleix (Capt. L.L.M. Hameury) sailed on 7 November to sweep west of the Cape Verde Islands. It returned to Dakar on 13 November 1939. Meanwhile French submarines based at Casablanca were maintaining a continuous patrol round the Canary Islands between 25°N and 30°N.

On 18 November a new ‘Force X’ was formed, now made up of the Dupleix and her sister ship Foch (Capt. J. Mathieu) and the British aircraft carrier HMS Hermes. On 21 November the Strasbourg, Algerie and the destroyers Le Terrible (Cdr. A.E.R. Bonneau) and Le Fantasque (Capt. P.A.B. Still) left Dakar to return to France. The next day the new ‘Force X’ sailed with the destroyers Milan (Cdr. M.A.H. Favier) and Cassard (Cdr. R.A.A. Braxmeyer) to cruiser towards 08°N, 30°W. That day L’Audacieux departed Dakar with a convoy for Casablanca.

On 25 November, the Duguay-Trouin sailed to patrol the parallel of 19°N, between 25° and 30°W. Two days later the British submarine HMS Severn (Lt.Cdr. B.W. Taylor, RN) docked at Dakar. On the 30th the Dupleix and Foch returned from patrol being followed the next day by HMS Hermes and her escorts Milan and Cassard.

Dispositions of South Atlantic Forces at the beginning of December 1939.

At the beginning of December 1939, HMS Ark Royal, still flying the flag of Vice-Admiral Aircraft Carriers, and HMS Renown (‘Force K’), were patrolling the meridian of 20°E, south of the Cape together with HMS Sussex and HMS Shropshire (‘Force H’) to intercept the raider reported in the Mozambique Channel on 15 November 1939.

In the north the light cruiser HMS Neptune with the destroyers HMS Hardy, HMS Hero, HMS Hostile and HMS Hasty and the submarine HMS Clyde were returning to Freetown after patrolling between there and Cape San Roque for escaping German merchant ships or raiders. The French cruiers Dupleix and Foch and the British carrier HMS Hermes (‘Force X’) and their two escorting destroyers Milan and Cassard were approaching Dakar. The French cruiser Duguay-Trouin was patrolling the parallel of 19°N, between 25° and 30°W. The British submarine Severn was refitting at Dakar. Across the South Atlantic, Commodore Harwood, in HMS Ajax was at Port Stanley as was HMS Exeter. HMS Cumberland was patrolling of the Plate area and HMNZS Achilles was off Rio de Janeiro.

Forces ‘H’ and ‘K’, 1 – 13 December 1939.

No further reports have been received of the raider which had sunk the Africa Shell off Laurenco Marques on 15 November and it seemed clear that she had either gone further into the Indian Ocean or doubled back into the South Atlantic by going well south of the Cape. On 2 December 1939 the Admiralty ordered ‘Force K’ and ‘Force H’ to their patrol line south of the Cape after refueling, and the Commander-in-Chief, South Atlantic at once ordered them to proceed for the Cape ports to fuel. That day a reconnaissance aircraft of the South African Air Force reported a suspicious ship south of Cape Point at noon. HMS Sussex intercepted her but her crew set her on fire. She proved to be the German merchant Watussi (9521 GRT, built 1928). She was eventually be HMS Renown. Her survivors were taken on board HMS Sussex and were landed at Simonstown.

No news of the missing raider had been coming in since 16 November but then the mistery shrouding her whereabouts was again partially solved. At 1530/2 a raidar signal ‘R.R.R., 19°15’S, 05°05’E, gunned battleship) reached the Commander-in-Chief, South Atlantic. It came from the British merchant Doric Star. As this signal placed the raider in the South Atlantic he immediately ordered to abandon the patrol south of the Cape and ordered ‘Force H’ to cover the trade routes between the Cape and the latitude of St. Helena at 20 knots on completion of fuelling. As it was too late for ‘Force K’ to reach the Freetown-Pernambuco area in time to intercept the rainder if she was to proceed to the North Atlantic he proposed the Admiralty that ‘Force K’, after fuelling should sweep direct from the Cape to position 20°S, 15°W. This was changed at the request of the Vice-Admiral, Aircraft Carriers to place his force in a more central position for proceeding to Freetown, to the Falklands or to Rio de Janeiro. At 1030/3 a report reached the Commander-in-Chief that the pocket battleship Admiral Scheer had been in 21°20’S, 03°10’E at 0500 hours, clearly indicating that the raider was moving westwards, clear of the Cape-Sierra Leone trade route. ‘Force H’ left Simonstown at 1700 that afternoon and ‘Force K’ sailed from Capetown at 0915/4.

The Commander-in-Chief estimated that if the enemy was proceeding northwards to the North Atlantic she would cross the Freetown-Pernambuco line between 9 and 10 December. He therefore arranged that ‘Force X’ should take HMS Neptune and her destroyers under her orders and patrol the parallel of 3°N between 31° and 38°W from 10 to 13 December. ‘Force K’ would meet HMS Neptune and the destroyers on the 14th and then return with them to Freetown to refuel. The destroyers of the 3rd Division of the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla (HMS Hardy, HMS Hostile and HMS Hero) left Freetown on 6 December with the oiler RFA Cherryleaf (5896 GRT, built 1917). They had orders to meet the Dupleix, Foch, HMS Hermes and their escorting destroyers Milan and Cassard and HMS Neptune in position 03°N, 31°W on 10 December. On 7 December ‘Force X’ left Dakar for the rendez-vous. That day the submarine HMS Clyde left Freetown to patrol between 03°N, 23°W and 03°N, 28°W and thence to 05°15’N, 23°W between 9 (PM) and 13 (AM) December.

On the evening of 8 December 1939 the German merchant ship Adolf Leonhardt (2989 GRT, built 1925) sailed from Lobito for South America. ‘Force H’ which was by then between St. Helena and the west coast of Africa, was at once ordered to intercept her. The Walrus from HMS Shropshire made contact at 0952 hours next morning and alighted alongside in position 13°S, 11°44’E. At 1250 hours HMS Shropshire arrived at that position but the German ship was scuttled by her crew and could not be saved. ‘Force H’ then returned to the Cape to refuel where they arrived on 14 December.

At 0800/11 the submarine HMS Severn left Freetown for Port Stanley. She was to protect the whaling industry in South Georgio and was to intercept hostile raiders or supply ships. The cruiser HMS Dorsetshire, which arrived at Simonstown from Colombo on the 9th to finally relieve HMS Exeter in the South America Division left Simonstown on 13 December for Port Stanley. She was to call at Tristan da Cunha on the way. On that day, 13 December 1939, was fought the action between the British South America Division and the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee, known as the Battle of the River Plate.

The South America Division, 1 to 13 December 1939.

At the beginning of December 1939, HMS Ajax and HMS Exeter were at Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands. HMS Cumberland was off the River Plate and HMNZS Achilles was patrolling the Rio de Janeiro area. On 2 December HMS Ajax left Port Stanley for the Plate area. That evening the Commodore learned that the Doric Star had been sunk by a raider to the south-east of St. Helena. Two days later the Commander-in-Chief, South Atlantic informed him that HMS Dorsetshire would arrive at Port Stanley on 23 December to relieve HMS Exeter which was then to proceed to Simonstown for a much needed refit.

Early on 5 December the British Naval Attaché at Buenos Aires reported that the German merchant Ussukuma had left Bahia Blanca at 1900 hours the previous evening. The Commodore immediately ordered HMS Cumberland which was on the way south to the Falkland Islands to search for her. Meanwhile HMS Ajax turned south and closed the Argentinian coast in case the Ussukuma, which was known to be short of fuel, should attempt to reach Montevideo inside territorial waters. At 1910/5, HMS Ajax sighted her smoke to the north-north-east but the Germans managed to scuttle their ship and despite the efforts to save her she sank during the night. At 0615/6, HMS Cumberland came up and embarked the German survivors and made off for the Falklands. HMS Ajax then refuelled at San Borombon Bay from the Olynthus.

About the same time the Brazilian authorities asked that HMNZS Achilles should not refuel in any Brazilian port at an interval less then three months. The Commodore, therefore, ordered her to return south and refuel at Montevideo on 8 December. HMNZS Achilles then joined HMS Ajax at 1000/10 in position 35°11’S, 51°13’W, 230 miles west of English Bank. At 0600/12 they were joined by HMS Exeter in position 36°54’S, 53°39’W.

Ever since the beginning of the war Commodore Harwood’s cruisers had worked off the east coast of South America either single or in pairs. The concentration of these three cruisers off the River Plate on 12 December 1939 was, however, no mere matter of chance.

Concentration of British Force in the River Plate area, 12 December 1939.

When a pocket battleship was located in position 19°15’S, 05°05’E on 2 December by the sinking of the Doris Star, her position was over 3000 miles from any of the South America focal areas. The Commodore however recognised that her next objective might be the valuable shipping off the east coast of South America. He estimated that at a cruising speed of 15 knots the enemy could reach the Rio area on 12 December the Plate area on 13 December and the Falklands on 14 December. As the Plate area was by far the most important of these three focal areas he decided to concentrate all his available ships off the Plate on 12 December.

The three cruisers then proceeded together towards position 32°N, 47°W. That evening the Commodore informed the Captains of his cruisers that it was intention that if they met a pocket battleship to attack immediately, by day or by night. By they they would act as two units, the light cruisers were to operate together and HMS Exeter was to operate diverged to permit flank marking. By night the ships were to remain in company in open order.

At 0614/13 HMS Ajax sighted smoke bearing 324° in position 34°28’S, 49°05’W and Commodore Harwood then ordered HMS Exeter to investigate it.

What then followed can be read in the article ‘The battle of the River Plate, 13 December 1939’ which can be found on the pages of HMS Ajax, HMS Exeter and HMNZS Achilles. (4)

5 Oct 1939
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) conducted gunnery exercises off Portland.

[No details available if she was escorted or not.] (5)

7 Oct 1939
Around 1100A/7, the battleships HMS Resolution (Capt. C.H. Knox-Little, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral L.E. Holland, CB, RN), HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) and the destroyers HMS Wolverine (Cdr. R.C. Gordon, RN), HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. G.C. Fryer, RN), HMS Volunteer (Lt.Cdr. H. Gartside-Tippinge, RN) and HMS Verity (Lt.Cdr. A.R.M. Black, RN) departed Portland for Halifax, Nova Scotia. Both battleships had silver on board for safe storage in Canada.

Around 1645A/7, the light cruisers HMS Emerald (Capt. A.W.S. Agar, VC, DSO, RN), HMS Enterprise (Capt. H.J. Egerton, RN), HMS Caradoc (Capt. E.W.L. Longley-Cook, RN) and the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. A.G. Talbot, RN) and HMS Ivanhoe (Cdr. B. Jones, RN), departed Plymouth. Both E-class cruiser had gold bullion on board for safe storage in Canada.

Around 1900A/7 both forces made rendezvous.

The destroyers parted company around 1930A/8.

They arrived at Halifax on the 16th and were escorted into port by the destroyers HMCS Fraser (Cdr. W.B. Creery, RCN) and HMCS St. Laurent (Lt.Cdr. H.G. de Wolf, RCN) which had joined around 0630Q/16. (6)

24 Oct 1939

Convoy HXF 6.

This convoy departed Halifax on 24 October 1939.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels;
Canadian Star (British, 8239 GRT, built 1939), De Grasse (French, 18435 GRT, built 1924), Fort de France (French, 4279 GRT, built 1935), Inverdargle (British (tanker), 9456 GRT, built 1938), Manchester Division (British, 6048 GRT, built 1918) and Salacia (British, 5495 GRT, built 1937).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) and the destroyers HMCS Fraser (Cdr. W.B. Creery, RCN) and HMCS St. Laurent (Lt.Cdr. H.G. de Wolf, RCN).

The destroyers parted company on the 25th.

At 1930O/30, HMS Revenge parted company with the convoy to return to Halifax.

The convoy arrived in British waters on 2 November. The French ships went to Le Havre.

5 Nov 1939
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) arrived at Halifax after convoy escort duty. (7)

10 Nov 1939

Convoy HX 8.

This convoy departed Halifax on 10 November 1939.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Adellen (British (tanker), 7984 GRT, built 1930), Barn Hill (British, 5439 GRT, built 1921), Baron Ailsa (British, 3656 GRT, built 1936), Benvorlich (British, 5193 GRT, built 1919), Boltonhall (British, 4824 GRT, built 1935), Bradfyne (British, 4740 GRT, built 1928), Cliftonhall (British, 5063 GRT, built 1938), Counsellor (British, 5068 GRT, built 1926), Cowrie (British (tanker), 8197 GRT, built 1931), Cressington Court (British, 4971 GRT, built 1929), Dakotian (British, 6426 GRT, built 1922), Daldorch (British, 5571 GRT, built 1930), Delilian (British, 6423 GRT, built 1923), Heinrich von Reidemann (Panamanian (tanker), 11020 GRT, built 1930), Hopemount (British, 7434 GRT, built 1929), Humber Arm (British, 5758 GRT, built 1925), Kinross (British, 4956 GRT, built 1935), Langleetarn (British, 4908 GRT, built 1929), Luxor (British (tanker), 6554 GRT, built 1930), Manchester Brigade (British, 6042 GRT, built 1918), Miralda (British (tanker), 8013 GRT, built 1936), Pellicula (British (tanker), 6254 GRT, built 1936), Persephone (Panamanian (tanker), 8426 GRT, built 1925), President Sergent (French (tanker), 5344 GRT, built 1923), Queen Victoria (British, 4937 GRT, built 1936), Ripley (British, 4997 GRT, built 1936), San Conrado (British (tanker), 7982 GRT, built 1936), San Florentino (British (tanker), 12842 GRT, built 1919), Sheaf Holme (British, 4814 GRT, built 1929), Somme (British, 5265 GRT, built 1919), Totonto City (British, 2486 GRT, built 1925), Victolite (British (British), 11410 GRT, built 1928), Virgilia (British (tanker), 5723 GRT, built 1927) and Windsorwood (British, 5395 GRT, built 1936).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) and the destroyers HMCS Fraser (Cdr. W.B. Creery, RCN) and HMCS St. Laurent (Lt.Cdr. H.G. de Wolf, RCN).

HMCS Fraser and HMCS St.Laurent parted company on 11 November and returned to Halifax.

HMS Revenge parted company with the convoy at 0245O/20 and set course to return to Halifax.

The convoy arrived in British waters on 25 February 1939.

25 Nov 1939
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) arrived at Halifax after convoy escort duty. (7)

4 Dec 1939

Convoy HX 11.

This convoy departed Halifax on 2 December 1939.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Aldersdale (British (tanker), 8402 GRT, built 1937), Arizona (French, 5457 GRT, built 1925), Armanistan (British, 6805 GRT, built 1937), Athelfoam (British (tanker), 6554 GRT, built 1931), Athelviscount (British (tanker), 8882 GRT, built 1929), British Fusilier (British (tanker), 6943 GRT, built 1923), British Union (British (tanker), 6987 GRT, built 1927), Broompark (British, 5136 GRT, built 1939), Carslogie (British, 3786 GRT, built 1924), Caspia (British (tanker), 6018 GRT, built 1928), Clearpool (British, 5404 GRT, built 1935), Clunepark (British, 3491 GRT, built 1928), Comanchee (British (tanker), 6837 GRT, built 1936), Dorelian (British, 6431 GRT, built 1923), El Grillo (British (tanker), 7264 GRT, built 1922), Embassage (British, 4954 GRT, built 1935), Everleigh (British, 5222 GRT, built 1930), Glenpark (British, 5136 GRT, built 1939), Gogovale (British, 4586 GRT, built 1927), Hannington Court (British, 5449 GRT, built 1939), Harlingen (British, 5415 GRT, built 1933), Hartlepool (British, 5500 GRT, built 1932), Haxby (British, 5207 GRT, built 1929), Lady Glanely (British, 5497 GRT, built 1938), Llanishen (British, 5053 GRT, built 1929), Loch Dee (British, 5252 GRT, built 1937), Manchester Exporter (British, 5277 GRT, built 1918), Manchester Spinner (British, 4767 GRT, built 1918), Nailsea Manor (British, 4926 GRT, built 1937), Parracombe (British, 4702 GRT, built 1928), Parthenia (British, 4872 GRT, built 1917), Prince Rupert City (British, 4749 GRT, built 1929), Saganaga (British, 5454 GRT, built 1935), Scottish Maden (British (tanker), 6993 GRT, built 1921), Scottish Monarch (British, 4719 GRT, built 1938), Shekatika (British, 5458 GRT, built 1936), Shirvan (British (tanker), 6017 GRT, built 1925), Sire (British, 5664 GRT, built 1938), Tilsington Court (British, 6910 GRT, built 1928), Tower Field (British, 4241 GRT, built 1935), Tregarthen (British, 5201 GRT, built 1936), Urla (British, 5198 GRT, built 1924), Varand (British (tanker), 6023 GRT, built 1927), Wanstead (British, 5486 GRT, built 1928) and Wendover (British, 5487 GRT, built 1928).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN), destroyers HMS Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicholson, RN), HMCS St. Laurent (Lt.Cdr. H.G. de Wolf, RCN), HMCS Skeena (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tisdall, RCN) and the submarines Casabianca (Capitaine de corvette (Lt.Cdr.) R.L.B. Sacaze) and Sfax (Lieutenant de vaisseau (Lt.) M.J.M. Groix).

HMCS St.Laurent and HMCS Skeena parted company with the convoy at 1610Q/5 and returned to Halifax.

HMS Hyperion parted company with the convoy on the 6th and also returned to Halifax.

HMS Ramillies parted company with the convoy around 1500OP(+2.5)/13 and returned to Halifax.

In the moring of the 16th the convoy was joined by the destroyers HMS Walpole (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Bowerman, RN) and HMS Wanderer (Cdr. R.F. Morice, RN). In the afternoon the destroyers HMS Wolverine (Cdr. R.H. Craske, RN) and HMS Ardent (Lt.Cdr. J.F. Barker, RN) also joined.

Casabianca and Sfax parted company with the convoy in the afternoon of the 17th.

The convoy arrived in British waters on 18 December 1939.

18 Dec 1939
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) arrived at Halifax after convoy escort duty. (8)

22 Dec 1939

Convoy TC 2.

This convoy of troopships departed Halifax on 22 December 1939 for the Clyde where it arrived on 30 December 1939.

The convoy was made up of the following troopships / liners; Almanzora (British, 15551 GRT, built 1914, carrying 1284 troops), Andes (British, 25689 GRT, built 1939, carrying 1358 troops), Batory (Polish, 14287 GRT, built 1936, carrying 806 troops), Chrobry (Polish, 11442 GRT, built 1939, carrying 1045 troops) Orama (British, 19840 GRT, built 1924, carrying 935 troops), Ormonde (British, 14982 GRT, built 1917, carrying 1269 troops) and Reina del Pacifico (British, 17702 GRT, built 1931, carrying 1455 troops).

A/S escort was provided on leaving Halifax the Canadian destroyers HMCS Fraser (Cdr. W.N. Creery, RCN), HMCS Ottawa (Capt. G.C. Jones, RCN), HMCS Restigouche (Lt.Cdr. W.B.L. Holms, RCN), HMCS St. Laurent (Lt.Cdr. H.G. de Wolf, RCN) and the British destroyer HMS Hunter (Lt.Cdr. L. De Villiers, RN). These destroyers remained with the convoy until 24 December 1939 when they set course to return to Halifax.

Ocean Escort was provided by the British battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral L.E. Holland, CB, RN) [Rear-Admiral Holland had hoisted his flag shortly before departure], French battlecruiser Dunkerque (Capt. M.J.M. Seguin and the French light cruiser Gloire (Capt. F.H.R. de Belot).

When the convoy approached the British isles, the destroyers HMS Somali (Capt. R.S.G. Nicholson, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. St.J.A. Micklethwait, RN), HMS Matabele (Cdr. G.K. Whitmy-Smith, RN), HMS Mohawk (Cdr. J.W.M. Eaton, RN), HMS Fearless (Cdr. K.L. Harkness, RN), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, DSC, RN), HMS Fury (Cdr. G.F. Burghard, RN), HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN) and HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, RN) departed Greenock on the 25th to join the convoy on the 28th. On the 26th two more destroyers departed Greenock, these were HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN). These destroyers also joined the convoy on the 28th.

On the 29th the French battlecruiser Dunkerque and the light cruiser Gloire parted company with the convoy. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Fearless, HMS Firedrake and HMS Fury until they were relieved by the French large destroyers Mogador (Cdr. P. Maerte), Volta (Cdr. C.V.E. Jacquinet), Le Triomphant (Cdr. M.M.P.L. Pothuau), Le Fantasque (Capt. P.A.B. Still), and Le Terrible (Cdr. A.E.R. Bonneau).

Four more escorts joined the convoy on the 29th. These were the minesweepers HMS Jason (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Fryer, RN), HMS Gleaner (Lt.Cdr. H.P. Price, RN).and the patrol vessels HMS Puffin (Lt.Cdr. Hon. J.M.G. Waldegrave, DSC, RN) and HMS Shearwater (Lt.Cdr. P.F. Powlett, RN).

The convoy arrived safely in the Clyde area in the morning of 30 December 1939. (9)

31 Dec 1939
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral L.E. Holland, CB, RN) departed the Clyde for Plymouth. She is escorted by the destroyers HMS Mohawk (Cdr. J.W.M. Eaton, RN), HMS Mashona (Cdr. P.V. McLaughlin, RN), HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN). (8)

1 Jan 1940
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral L.E. Holland, CB, RN) and her escorts, the destroyers, HMS Mohawk (Cdr. J.W.M. Eaton, RN), HMS Mashona (Cdr. P.V. McLaughlin, RN), HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN), arrived at Plymouth.

Rear-Admiral Holland then struck his flag and left HMS Revenge. (10)

4 Jan 1940
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) is docked in the floating dock at the Devonport Dockyard. (10)

22 Jan 1940
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) is undocked. (10)

27 Jan 1940
The battleship, HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN), with £10,000,000 sterling of gold, art treasures and some passengers on board, departed Plymouth around 1300Z/27 for Halifax, Nova Scotia.

She was escorted from 1700Z/27 until shortly before noon on the 28th by the destroyers HMS Whitshed (Cdr. E.R. Conder, RN), HMS Acasta (Cdr. C.E. Glasfurd, RN) and HMS Ardent (Lt.Cdr. J.F. Barker, RN). (10)

5 Feb 1940
The battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) arrived at Halifax from Plymouth. She was escorted in by the destroyers HMCS Ottawa (Capt. G.C. Jones, RCN) and HMCS Restigouche (Lt.Cdr. H.N. Lay, RCN). (11)

7 Feb 1940

Convoy HX 19.

This convoy departed Halifax on 7 February 1940.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Arakaka (British, 2379 GRT, built 1933), Athelduchess (British (tanker), 8940 GRT, built 1929), Athelfoam (British (tanker), 6554 GRT, built 1931), Barrwhin (British, 4998 GRT, built 1929), Blairangus (British, 4409 GRT, built 1930), British Commander (British (tanker), 6901 GRT, built 1922), British Workman (British (tanker), 6994 GRT, built 1922), Calgarolite (British (tanker), 11941 GRT, built 1929), Caprella (British (tanker), 8230 GRT, built 1931), Capulet (British (tanker), 8190 GRT, built 1932), Conch (British (tanker), 8376 GRT, built 1931), Cressington Court (British, 4971 GRT, built 1929), Davisian (British, 6433 GRT, built 1925), Dramatist (British, 5443 GRT, built 1920), Embassage (British, 4954 GRT, built 1935), Frederick K.S. Fales (British (tanker), 10525 GRT, built 1939), Generton (British, 4797 GRT, built 1936), Hadleigh (British, 5222 GRT, built 1930), Harpathian (British, 4671 GRT, built 1930), Hird (Norwegian, 4950 GRT, built 1924), Johilla (British, 4042 GRT, built 1937), Loch Maddy (British, 4996 GRT, built 1934), Magician (British, 5105 GRT, built 1925), Mimosa (British, 3071 GRT, built 1905), Montrolite (British (tanker), 11309 GRT, built 1926), New York City (British, 2710 GRT, built 1917), Pacific Reliance (British, 6717 GRT, built 1927), Parracombe (British, 4702 GRT, built 1928), Peebles (British, 4982 GRT, built 1936), Port Halifax (British, 5820 GRT, built 1937), Queen City (British, 4814 GRT, built 1924), Rio Dorado (British, 4507 GRT, built 1924), San Alvaro (British (tanker), 7385 GRT, built 1935), San Cipriano (British (tanker), 7966 GRT, built 1937), San Florentino (British (tanker), 12842 GRT, built 1919), San Ubaldo (British (tanker), 5999 GRT, built 1921), Statira (British, 4852 GRT, built 1937), Temple Pier (British, 4312 GRT, built 1928), Thistlebrae (British, 4747 GRT, built 1928), Tower Field (British, 4241 GRT, built 1935), Tregarthen (British, 5201 GRT, built 1936), Varand (British, 6023 GRT, built 1927), Wanstead (British, 5486 GRT, built 1928), Warkworth (British, 4941 GRT, built 1924) and Waziristan (British, 5135 GRT, built 1924).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) and the destroyers HMCS Saguenay (Cdr. G.R. Miles, RCN), HMCS Skeena (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tisdall, RCN) and HMCS Restigouche (Lt.Cdr. H.N. Lay, RCN).

During the forming up of the convoy HMS Revenge and the tanker Appalchee (British, 8826 GRT, built 1930) collided with each other. The tanker was therefore unable to proceed with the convoy and returned to Halifax. HMS Revenge was able to continue as planned.

On the 8th the Canadian destroyers parted company and returned to Halifax.

At 1500OP(+2.5)/14, HMS Revenge parted company with the convoy to return to Halifax.

Local escort on approaching the U.K. were the destroyers HMS Wolverine (Cdr. R.H. Craske, RN), HMS Vanoc (Lt.Cdr. J.G.W. Deneys, RN) and HMS Vanessa (Lt.Cdr. E.A. Stocker, RN).

The Loch Maddy, which had straggled from the convoy was hit in the early evening of 21 February 1940 by a torpedo from the German submarine U-57. The crew then abandoned ship but she did not sink. She was finished off shortly after midnight on 22 February 1940 by a torpedo the German submarine U-23. The ship broke in half and the bow section slowly sank. The stern section remained afloat and was later beached but the ship was declared a total loss.

19 Feb 1940
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) arrived at Halifax after convoy escort duty.

She was then taken in hand for repair to the (minor) damage sustained in the collision on 7 February. (11)

2 Mar 1940

Convoy HX 24.

This convoy departed Halifax on 2 March 1940.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Alexia (British (tanker), 8016 GRT, built 1935), Amerika (British, 10218 GRT, built 1930), Augvald (Norwegian, 4811 GRT, built 1920), Aun (Norwegian, 1908 GRT, built 1930), Botwey (British, 5106 GRT, built 1916), Brynymor (British, 4771 GRT, built 1936), Daronia (British (tanker), 8139 GRT, built 1939), Delawarean (British, 5705 GRT, built 1920), Dolabella (British (tanker), 8142 GRT, built 1939), Elisha Walker (Panamanian (tanker), 7007 GRT, built 1920), Everleigh (British, 5222 GRT, built 1930), Gemstone (British, 4986 GRT, built 1938), Geo W. McKnight (British (tanker), 12502 GRT, built 1933), Geraldine Mary (British, 7244 GRT, built 1924), Grey County (British, 5194 GRT, built 1918), H.H. Rogers (British (tanker), 8807 GRT, built 1916), Halcyon (British, 3531 GRT, built 1917), Harpagon (British, 5719 GRT, built 1935), Haxby (British, 5207 GRT, built 1929), Jersey (British, 4986 GRT, built 1936), Kajak (Estonian, 3234 GRT, built 1902), Loch Don (British, 5249 GRT, built 1937), Mount Taygetus (British, 3286 GRT, built 1921), Nidarholm (British, 2588 GRT, built 1920), Oakwood (British, 6071 GRT, built 1920), Pierre L.D. (British, 5705 GRT, built 1935), Roussillon (British (tanker), 9967 GRT, built 1936), Ruahine (British, 10832 GRT, built 1909), Rushpool (British, 5125 GRT, built 1928), Sovac (British (tanker), 6724 GRT, built 1938), Temple Moat (British, 4427 GRT, built 1928), Thalia (British, 8329 GRT, built 1926), Thistleford (British, 4781 GRT, built 1928), Toorak (British (tanker), 8627 GRT, built 1927), Tredinnick (British, 4589 GRT, built 1921), Uganda (British, 4966 GRT, built 1927), Urla (British, 5198 GRT, built 1924), W.C. Teagle (British (tanker), 9552 GRT, built 1917), Wendover (British, 5487 GRT, built 1928) and Yearby (British, 5666 GRT, built 1929).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) and the destroyers HMCS Saguenay (Cdr. G.R. Miles, RCN), HMCS Skeena (Lt.Cdr. E.P. Tisdall, RCN) and and HMCS St. Laurent (Lt.Cdr. H.G. de Wolf, RCN).

The Canadian destroyers returned to Halifax on 3 March 1940.

HMS Revenge parted company with the convoy, from which quite a number of ships had straggled, around 1400O/11 to return to Halifax.

On 13 March 1940 the convoy was joined by the destroyers HMS Versatile (Cdr.(Retd.) T.A. Hussey, RN) and HMS Walpole (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Bowerman, RN).

On 14 March 1940 the convoy was joined by the destroyers HMS Wakeful (Cdr. R.L. Fisher, RN) and HMS Wolverine (Cdr. R.H. Craske, RN).

The convoy arrived in Britsh waters on 17 March 1940.

16 Mar 1940
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) arrived at Halifax after convoy escort duty. (12)

25 Mar 1940

Convoy HX 30.

This convoy departed Halifax on 25 March 1940.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Agia Marina (Greek, 4151 GRT, built 1912), Anadara (British (tanker), 8009 GRT, built 1935), Appalachee (British (tanker), 8826 GRT, built 1930), Araby (British, 4936 GRT, built 1912), Athelchief (British, 10000 GRT, built 1939), Athelmonarch (British, 8995 GRT, built 1928), Barrdale (British, 5072 GRT, built 1925), Cairnglen (British, 5019 GRT, built 1926), Conus (British (tanker), 8132 GRT, built 1931), Davila (British (tanker), 8053 GRT, built 1938), Dean Emery (British (tanker), 6664 GRT, built 1919), Derry More (British, 4799 GRT, built 1938), Dimitrios Inglessis (British, 5275 GRT, built 1918), El Aleto (British (tanker), 7203 GRT, built 1927), Ethel Radcliffe (British, 5673 GRT, built 1920), Filleigh (British, 4856 GRT, built 1928), Governor (British, 5571 GRT, built 1918), King Edward (British, 5224 GRT, built 1919), Lochkatrine (British, 9419 GRT, built 1922), Losada (British, 6520 GRT, built 1921), Lowther Castle (British, 5171 GRT, built 1937), Luculus (British (tanker), 6546 GRT, built 1929), Modavia (British, 4858 GRT, built 1927), New Westminster City (British, 4747 GRT, built 1929), Nolisement (British, 5084 GRT, built 1928), Northleigh (British, 5450 GRT, built 1937), Penrose (British, 4393 GRT, built 1928), Port Hardy (British, 8897 GRT, built 1923), Regent Panther (British (tanker), 9556 GRT, built 1937), Remuera (British, 11445 GRT, built 1911), Rowanbank (British, 5159 GRT, built 1919), San Gerardo (British (tanker), 12915 GRT, built 1929), Sandsend (British, 3612 GRT, built 1925), South Gate (British, 4862 GRT, built 1926), Taxiarchis (Greek, 4221 GRT, built 1913), Testbank (British, 5083 GRT, built 1937), Victor Ross (British, 12247 GRT, built 1933) and Welcombe (British, 5122 GRT, built 1930).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) and the destroyers HMCS Saguenay (Cdr. G.R. Miles, RCN), HMCS Skeena (Lt. H.S. Rayner, RCN) and HMCS Restigouche (Lt.Cdr. H.N. Lay, RCN).

At 1850P/26, the Canadian destroyers parted company to return to Halifax.

In the morning of 30 March 1940, the Dimitrios Inglessis and the King Edward collided. The King Edward was undable to continue and was towed to St. Johns. The Port Hardy stood by her for a while [might have been the ship towing ???].

HMS Revenge parted company with the convoy at 1325N/3 to return to Halifax.

On 6 April 1940 the convoy was joined by the destroyers HMS Viscount (Lt.Cdr. M.S. Townsend, RN), HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN), HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN) and HMS Acasta (Cdr. C.E. Glasfurd, RN).

The convoy arrived in U.K. waters on 9 April 1940.

9 Apr 1940
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) arrived at Halifax after convoy escort duty. (13)

18 Apr 1940

Convoy HX 36.

This convoy departed Halifax on 18 April 1940.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Athelempress (British (tanker), 8941 GRT, built 1930), Blairangus (British, 4409 GRT, built 1930), Boltonhall (British, 4824 GRT, built 1935), City of Lyons (British, 7063 GRT, built 1926), Dorelian (British, 6431 GRT, built 1923), Ferncourt (British (tanker), 9918 GRT, built 1938), Ile de Batz (French, 5755 GRT, built 1918), Lyras (Greek, 5685 GRT, built 1918), Manchester Commerce (British, 5343 GRT, built 1925), Margarita Chandris (British, 5401 GRT, built 1920), Mosfruit (Norwegian, 2714 GRT, built 1938), Nailsea River (British, 5548 GRT, built 1917), Oilreliance (British (tanker), 5666 GRT, built 1929), Rio Blanco (British, 4086 GRT, built 1922), Rothermere (British, 5356 GRT, built 1938), Samuel Bakke (Norwegian, 4719 GRT, built 1929), Silveray (British, 4535 GRT, built 1925), Sithonia (British, 6723 GRT, built 1919), Sylvafield (British (tanker), 5709 GRT, built 1925), Titanian (Norwegian, 4880 GRT, built 1924), Vendemaire (French (tanker), 9228 GRT, built 1929) and Vinland (Norwegian, 4436 GRT, built 1924).

On departure from Halifax it was escorted by the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) and the destroyers HMCS Saguenay (Cdr. G.R. Miles, RCN), HMCS Skeena (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Hibbard, RCN) and HMCS St. Laurent (Lt.Cdr. H.G. De Wolf, RCN).

HMCS St. Laurent already parted company with the convoy at 1848Q/18 to return to Halifax.

The other two Canadian destroyers parted company on the 19th.

HMS Revenge parted company with the convoy at 1400N/27 to return to Halifax.

The convoy was joined by the destroyers HMS Vimy (Lt.Cdr. C.G.W. Donald, RN) and HMS Wakeful (Cdr. R.L. Fisher, RN) on 30 April.

The convoy arrived in British waters on 3 May.

3 May 1940
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) arrived at Halifax after convoy escort duty. (14)

9 May 1940
The battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN), light cruiser HMS Emerald (Capt. A.W.S. Agar, VC, DSO, RN) and the destroyer HMCS Saguenay (Cdr. G.R. Miles, RCN) conducted exercises off Halifax.

HMS Revenge returned to harbour in the afternoon. HMS Emerald and HMCS Saguenay remained out for night exercises on returning early on the 10th. (15)

12 May 1940

Convoy TC 4.

This convoy of troopships departed Halifax on 12 May 1940 for Liverpool where it arrived on 21 May 1940.

The convoy was made up of the following troopships; Antonia (British, 13867 GRT, built 1921, carrying 932 troops) and Duchess of Bedford (British, 20123 GRT, built 1928, carrying 1559 troops).

Escort on departure from Halifax was provided by the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) and the destroyers HMCS Saguenay (Cdr. G.R. Miles, RCN) and HMCS St. Laurent (Lt. H.S. Rayner, RCN).

On passing the gate entrance HMS Revenge struck and sank the gate vessel, trawler HMCS Ypres (T/Lt. A.H. Cassivi, RCNR).

The Canadian destroyers parted company with the convoy on the 14th.

At 0555A/20, the destroyers HMS Zulu (Cdr. J.S. Crawford, RN), HMS Escort (Lt.Cdr. J. Bostock, RN), HMS Acasta (Cdr. C.E. Glasfurd, RN), HMS Ardent (Lt.Cdr. J.F. Barker, RN) and HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN) joined the convoy.

At 2340A/20, HMS Revenge parted company with the convoy to proceed to the Clyde escorted by HMS Acasta and HMS Ardent.

The convoy and the remaining three destroyers continued on the Liverpool.

21 May 1940
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN), HMS Acasta (Cdr. C.E. Glasfurd, RN) and HMS Ardent (Lt.Cdr. J.F. Barker, RN) arrived in the Clyde after convoy escort duty. (14)

30 May 1940
The troopships Antonia (British, 13867 GRT, built 1921) and Duchess of Richmond (British, 22022 GRT, built 1928) departed Liverpool for Halifax. They both had on board £ 5 million in gold bullion. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Warwick (Lt.Cdr. M.A.G. Child, RN), HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN) and HMS Wolverine (Cdr. R.H. Craske, RN).

Later the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) departed the Clyde escorted by the destroyers HMS Escort (Lt.Cdr. J. Bostock, RN) and HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr. W.F.R. Segrave, RN). HMS Revenge had on board £ 40 million in gold bullion.

The two groups made rendezvous around 0400A/31.

At 2337A/31, the destroyers parted company.

The troopships and HMS Revenge arrived at Halifax on 8 June. They were escorted in by the Canadian destroyers HMCS Assiniboine (Capt. G.C. Jones, RCN) and HMCS Saguenay (Cdr. G.R. Miles, RCN). (14)

11 Jun 1940

Convoy TC 5.

This convoy of troopships departed Halifax on 11 June 1940 for Liverpool where it arrived on 21 June 1940.

The convoy was made up of the following troopships; Duchess of Atholl (British, 20119 GRT, built 1928, carrying 1173 troops), Duchess of Bedford (British, 20123 GRT, built 1928, carrying 1792 troops), Samaria (British, 19597 GRT, built 1921, carrying 787 troops),

With them was also the troopship Empress of Australia (British, 21833 GRT, built 1914) which was to proceed to Iceland. [Number of troops on board not known.]

On departure from Iceland the escort was made up of the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) and the destroyers HMCS Assiniboine (Capt. G.C. Jones, RCN) and HMCS Saguenay (Cdr. G.R. Miles, RCN).

At 1830OP(+2.5)/12, HMCS Assiniboine and HMCS Saguenay parted company to return to Halifax.

On the 13th or the 14th the Empress of Australia parted company to proceed to Reykjavik, Iceland where she arrived on the 16th.

At 0430A/19, the destroyers HMS Wanderer (Cdr. J.H. Ruck-Keene, RN), HMCS Skeena (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Hibbard, RCN), HMCS Fraser (Cdr. W.B. Creery, RCN), HMCS Restigouche (Lt.Cdr. H.N. Lay, RN) and HMCS St. Laurent (Lt.Cdr. H.G. De Wolf, RCN) joined the convoy.

Around 0600A/20, HMS Revenge parted company with the convoy to proceed to Plymouth escorted by HMCS Skeena, HMCS Fraser, HMCS Restigouche and HMCS St. Laurent.

The convoy proceeded to Liverpool with HMS Wanderer.

21 Jun 1940
The battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) and the destroyers HMCS Skeena (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Hibbard, RCN), HMCS Fraser (Cdr. W.B. Creery, RCN), HMCS Restigouche (Lt.Cdr. H.N. Lay, RN) and HMCS St. Laurent (Lt.Cdr. H.G. De Wolf, RCN) arrived at Plymouth after convoy escort duty. (16)

22 Jun 1940
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) is docked in No.10 Dock at the Devonport Dockyard. (17)

1 Jul 1940
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) is undocked. (18)

3 Jul 1940
While at Devonport, HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) was moored close to the French battleship Paris (Capitaine de vaisseau (Capt.) P.L. Guillerm) and the submarine Surcouf (Capitaine de corvette (Lt.Cdr.) P.M.H. Martin).

In the early hours boarding parties were sent to these two french ships to take over control of them.

On board the Surcouf they met with resistance and and the first man to enter the French submarine, Leading Seaman Albert Webb of HMS Revenge was shot dead by a French officer. In turn, the French officer, was shot dead by the British officer who was following Leading Seaman Webb.

4 Jul 1940
The battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) and the destroyers HMS Havelock (Capt. E.B.K. Stevens, DSC, RN), HMS Hesperus (Lt.Cdr. D.G.F.W. MacIntyre, RN) and HMS Wanderer (Cdr. J.H. Ruck-Keene, RN) departed Plymouth to proceed up north through the Irish Sea to make rendezvous with troopships coming from the Clyde. (18)

5 Jul 1940
The British liner Monarch of Bermuda (22424 GRT, built 1931) and the Polish liners Batory (14387 GRT, built 1936) and Sobieski (11030 GRT, built 1939) departed the Clyde for Halifax Canada. They were escorted by the light cruiser HMS Bonaventure (Capt. H.J. Egerton, RN).

At sea they were joined by the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) and the destroyers HMS Havelock (Capt. E.B.K. Stevens, DSC, RN), HMS Hesperus (Lt.Cdr. D.G.F.W. MacIntyre, RN) and HMS Wanderer (Cdr. J.H. Ruck-Keene, RN).

All ships carried gold from the Bank of England for safekeeping in Canada.

They arrived at Halifax on 12 July 1940 except for the Batory which had developed engine defects and was diverted to St. John's escorted by HMS Bonaventure which released her off the harbour and then continued her passage to Halifax. (19)

23 Jul 1940

Convoy TC 6.

This convoy of troopships departed Halifax on 23 July 1940 for the U.K.

The convoy was made up of the following troopships; Antonia (British, 13867 GRT, built 1921, carrying 881 troops), Batory (Polish, 14287 GRT, built 1936, carrying 1198 troops), Duchess of York (British, 20021 GRT, built 1929, carrying 982 troops), Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931, carrying 1328 troops), Samaria (British, 19597 GRT, built 1921, carrying 1016 troops) and Sobieski (Polish, 11030 GRT, built 1939, carrying 1061 troops).

The troopship Empress of Australia (British, 21833 GRT, built 1914, carrying 1611 troops) was also with the convoy on departure from Halifax. She was to proceed to Iceland and parted company with the convoy en-route.

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted the battleships HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN), light cruiser HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN) and the destroyers HMCS Assiniboine (Capt. G.C. Jones, RCN) and HMCS Saguenay (Cdr. G.R. Miles, RCN).

Both Canadian destroyers returned to Halifax later on 23 July.

In the afternoon and early evening of July 30th, the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, RN), HMS Sikh (Cdr. J.A. Giffard, RN), HMS Highlander (Cdr. W.A. Dallmeyer, RN), HMS Amazon (Lt.Cdr. N.E.G. Roper, RN), HMS Keppel (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) E.G. Heywood-Lonsdale, RN), HMS Wanderer (Cdr. J.H. Ruck-Keene, RN), HMS Viscount (Lt.Cdr. M.S. Townsend, OBE, DSC, RN) and HMS Vanquisher (Lt.Cdr. C.B. Alers-Hankey, RN) joined the convoy.

The convoy arrived in the Clyde on 1 August 1940.

10 Aug 1940

Convoy ZA.

The troopships Empress of Australia (British, 21833 GRT, built 1914) and Samaria (British, 19597 GRT, built 1921) departed Liverpool on 10 August. They were being escorted by the destroyers HMS Highlander (Cdr. W.A. Dallmeyer, RN) and HMS Walker (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Tait, RN).

On 11 August the troopships Antonia (British, 13867 GRT, built 1921), Duchess of York (British, 20021 GRT, built 1929), Georgic (British, 27759 GRT, built 1932) and Oronsay (British, 20043 GRT, built 1925). They were escorted by the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) and the destroyers HMS Ashanti (Cdr. W.G. Davis, RN), HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN), HMS Watchman (Lt.Cdr. E.C.L. Day, RN) and HMS Vortigern (Lt.Cdr. R.S. Howlett, RN).

The troopships were evacuating children from the U.K. to Canada. HMS Revenge had £ 14.5 million in gold bullion on board.

The troopship Orion (British, 23371 GRT, built 1935) and armed merchant cruiser HMS Asturias (Capt. J.R.S. Haines, RN) also were with the convoy until 0800A/13, when they parted company and set course for Freetown.

The destroyers parted company wither late on the 12th or early on the 13th.

The convoy arrived at Halifax on 19 August 1940.

22 Aug 1940
The battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) conducted gunnery exercises off Halifax during which she is escorted by the destroyer HMCS Assiniboine (Capt. G.C. Jones, RCN). (20)

27 Aug 1940

Convoy TC 7.

This convoy of troopships departed Halifax on 23 July 1940 for the U.K.

The convoy was made up of the following troopships; Duchess of York (British, 20021 GRT, built 1929, carrying 1548 troops), Empress of Australia (British, 21833 GRT, built 1914, carrying 1625 troops), Georgic (British, 27759 GRT, built 1932, carrying 2801 troops), Oronsay (British, 20043 GRT, built 1925, carrying 2627 troops), Pasteur (British, 29253 GRT, built 1938, carrying 1153 troops) and Scythia (British, 19761 GRT, built 1920, carrying 1204 troops).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) and the destroyers HMCS Assiniboine (Capt. G.C. Jones, RCN) and HMCS Ottawa (Cdr. E.R. Mainguy, RCN).

HMCS Assiniboine was detached on the 28th to return to Halifax.

HMCS Ottawa remained with the convoy for passage to the U.K.

The convoy was joined by the destroyers HMS Javelin (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN), HMS Ambuscade (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Fell, RN) and HMS Wolverine (Cdr. R.H. Craske, RN) around 1215A/13. They had been unable to make contact with the convoy earlier due to thick fog.

The convoy arrived in the Clyde on 14 September 1940.

12 Sep 1940
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) conducted D/G trials in the Clyde area. (21)

14 Sep 1940
Around 0230A/14, the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) and light cruiser HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN) departed the Clyde for Plymouth where they will be stationed for anti-invasion duties.

On departure from the Clyde they were escorted by the destroyers HMS Mackay (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, RN), HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr. W.F.R. Segrave, RN), HMS Scimitar (Lt. R.D. Franks, OBE, RN) and HMS Skate (Lt. F.P. Baker, DSC, RN).

Around 2000A/14, the destroyers HMS Scimitar and HMS Skate parted company and the destroyers HMS Broke (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, RN) and HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. R.L.S. Gaisford, RN) joined.

HMS Revenge, HMS Emerald, HMS Mackay, HMS Broke, HMS Vansittart and HMS Westcott arrived at Plymouth around 0915A/15. (22)

25 Sep 1940
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) conducted D/G trials off Plymouth. While doing so she opened fire on a flight of six German aircraft flying overhead. (21)

10 Oct 1940

Operation Medium.


Bombardment of Cherbourg.

10 October 1940.

The battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) departed Plymouth for a night bombardment of Cherbourg during the night of 10/11 October. She was being escorted by the destroyers HMS Jackal (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN), HMS Javelin (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN), HMS Jupiter (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN).

A cover force was also sailed from Plymouth on the same day. This force was to provide cover to the east of the bombardment force and was made up of the light cruisers HMS Newcastle (Capt. E.A. Aylmer, DSC, RN), HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN), the British destroyers HMS Broke (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, RN), HMS Wanderer (Cdr. J.H. Ruck-Keene, DSC, RN and the Polish destroyers Garland (Cdr. K. Namiesniowski, ORP) and Burza (Cdr. A. Doroszkowski, ORP).

The light cruiser HMS Cardiff (Capt. P.K. Enright, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN) and HMS Volunteer (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN) departed Portsmouth to provide cover for the operation to the west of the bombardment force.

A flotilla of MA/SB boats was sailed from Plymouth to provide anti E-boat protection. These were HMS MA/SB 40, HMS MA/SB 42, HMS MA/SB 43, HMS MA/SB 44, HMS MA/SB 45, HMS MA/SB 46 and HMS MA/SB 51.

During the bombardment, which started around 0330A/11 and laster for about 20 minutes, HMS Revenge fired 120 rounds of 15” in eighteen minutes from range between 14000 and 16000 yards. Her escorting destroyers fired 801 rounds of 4.7” during the first four minutes of the bombardment and then formed a screen on the battleship.

Large fires were seen to erupt in the target area. Shore defences opened up as for being under air attack. The ships were fired on only after the bombardment had ceased. No ships were hit though despite the enemy fire being accurate.

The western cover group returned to Plymouth at 0800A/11.

The bombardment force and the eastern cover group arrived at Portsmouth around the same time.

15 Oct 1940
Around 1830A/15, HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN), departed Portsmouth for Plymouth. She was being escorted by the destroyers HMS Wanderer (Cdr. J.H. Ruck-Keene, DSC, RN), HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN) and Burza (Cdr. A. Doroszkowski, ORP).

They arrived at Plymouth around 0900A/16. (23)

6 Nov 1940
Around 1415A/6, the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN), departed Plymouth for the Clyde. She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Jackal (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) and HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN).

Around 0815A/7, the original destroyer screen parted company to proceed on patrol in the western Channel area. They were replaced by [most likely] HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. R.L.S. Gaisford, RN), HMS Walker (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Tait, RN) and HMS Warwick (Lt.Cdr. M.A.G. Child, RN).

HMS Revenge and her destroyer escort arrived in the Clyde around 2110A/7. (24)

13 Nov 1940
The battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) departed The Clyde for Halifax, Nova Scotia. On deparure from the Clyde she was being escorted by the destroyers HMCS Ottawa (Cdr. E.R. Mainguy, RCN), HMCS St. Laurent (Lt. H.S. Rayner, RCN) and ORP Garland (Lt.Cdr. K.F. Namiesniowski).

The then made rendezvous with the troopship Leopoldville (Belgian, 11509 GRT, built 1929) that was escorted by the destroyer HMS Highlander (Cdr. W.A. Dallmeyer, RN). These ships had departed Liverpool on the 12th.

Late on the 15th the destroyers were detached to proceed to Loch Foyle. ORP Garland sustained heavy weather damage and lost two crew overboard. She proceeded to the Clyde for repairs. [The logbook of Revenge give winds up to force 9 for 15 November. On 16 November even winds force 11-12 are noted.]

HMS Revenge and the Leopoldville arrived at Halifax on 24 November 1940. They were escorted in by the destroyer HMCS Restigouche (Cdr. H.N. Lay, OBE, RN). (25)

25 Nov 1940

Convoy HX 91.

This convoy departed Halifax on 25 November 1940.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Bellerophon (British, 9019 GRT, built 1906), Chama (British (tanker), 8077 GRT, built 1938), Chelatros (Greek, 3489 GRT, built 1914), Eleni (British, 5655 GRT, built 1918), Empire Elk (British, 4748 GRT, built 1920), Maine (British, 6032 GRT, built 1917), Mokambo (Belgian, 4996 GRT, built 1938), Onomea (British, 5520 GRT, built 1917), Pacific Pioneer (British, 6734 GRT, built )1928, San Florentino (British (tanker), 12842 GRT, built 1919), Silvercedar (British, 4354 GRT, built 1924), Spar (Dutch, 3616 GRT, built 1924) and Stanwell (British, 5767 GRT, built 1914).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the destroyer HMCS Assiniboine (Capt. L.W. Murray, RCN) and the auxiliary patrol vessel HMCS French (A/Skr. W. Philpott, RCNR).

HMCS French parted company shortly after departure followed by HMCS Assiniboine in the afternoon of the 26th.

On 27 November convoy SHX 91, coming from Sydney, Nova Scotia which it had departed on 26 November, merged with convoy HX 91. Convoy SHX 91 was made up of the following merchant vessels; Arosa (Norwegian, 5043 GRT, built 1924), British Prince (British, 4879 GRT, built 1935), Brynymor (British, 4771 GRT, built 1936), Chelatros (Greek, 3489 GRT, built 1914), Delfshaven (Dutch, 5281 GRT, built 1930), Dionyssios Stathatos (Greek, 5168 GRT, built 1919), Evgenia Chandris (Greek, 5317 GRT, built 1920), King Frederick (British, 5106 GRT, built 1920), Liguria (Swedish, 1751 GRT, built 1914), Manchester Citizen (British, 5343 GRT, built 1925), Pacific (Swedish, 4978 GRT, built 1914), Saltwick (British, 3775 GRT, built 1929), Skiensfjord (Norwegian, 5922 GRT, built 1922), Sophocles (Norwegian, 5184 GRT, built 1939) and Trekieve (British, 5244 GRT, built 1919).

Also on 27 November the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) joined the convoy. She had departed Halifax on the 26th to overtake and join the convoy as Ocean Escort.

On 28 November convoy BHX 91, coming from Bermuda which it had departed on 23 November, merged with convoy HX 91. Convoy BHX 91 was made up of the following merchant vessels; Brasil (Norwegian (tanker), 8130 GRT, built 1935), Comanchee (British (tanker), 6837 GRT, built 1936), Coptic (British (tanker), 10629 GRT, built 1928), Megara (British (tanker), 7981 GRT, built 1929), Otina (British (tanker), 6217 GRT, built 1938) and Skaraas (Norwegian (tanker), 9826 GRT, built 1936).

They had been escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Ascania (Capt.(Retd.) C.H. Ringrose-Wharton, RN) which then parted company with the convoy.

At 0700OP/4, HMS Revenge parted company with the convoy to return to Halifax.

The convoy was joined on 6 December 1940 by the destroyer HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. R.L.S. Gaisford, RN) and HMS Walker (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Tait, RN) and corvette HMS Candytuft (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) F.B. Collinson, RD, RNR). On 8 December another corvette, HMS Honeysuckle (Lt. G.W. Gregorie, RNR), also joined the convoy.

The convoy arrived in British waters on 11 December.

11 Dec 1940
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) arrived at Halifax after convoy escort duty. She was escorted in by HMCS Assiniboine (Capt. L.W. Murray, RCN). (26)

16 Dec 1940

Convoy TC 8.

This convoy of troopships departed Halifax on 23 July 1940 for the U.K.

The convoy was made up of the following troopships; Capetown Castle (British, 27000 GRT, built 1938, carrying 1415 troops), Colombia (Dutch, 10782 GRT, built 1930, carrying [unknown number] troops), Pasteur (British, 29253 GRT, built 1938, carrying 2995 troops) and Pennland (Dutch, 16381 GRT, built 1922, carrying 1865 troops).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) and the destroyers HMCS Assiniboine (Capt. L.W. Murray, RCN) and HMCS Restigouche (Cdr. H.N. Lay, OBE, RN).

HMCS Assiniboine and HMCS Restigouche parted company in the morning of 17 December to return to Halifax.

HMS Revenge parted company with the convoy in the afternoon of 21 December also to return to Halifax.

On approaching the British Isles the convoy was devided into two. The Capetown Castle and Pasteur were escorted by the destroyers HMCS Ottawa (Cdr. E.R. Mainguy, RCN), HMCS St. Laurent (Lt. H.S. Rayner, RCN), HMS Worcester (Lt.Cdr. E.C. Coats, RN), HMS Watchman (Lt.Cdr. E.C.L. Day, RN), FSS Le Triomphant (Cdr. P.M.J.R. Auboyneau) and Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski).

The two Dutch ships were escorted by the destroyers HMS Bath (Cdr.(Retd.) A.V. Hemming, RN), HMS St. Marys (Lt. K.H.J.L. Phibbs, RN), HMS Montgomery (Cdr.(Retd.) H.F. Nash, RN), HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN) and HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN).

Both sections of the convoy proceeded to the Clyde.

Not all escorts remained with the convoy until the Clyde though.

[Further details not available at the moment.]

26 Dec 1940
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) arrived at Halifax after convoy escort duty. (26)

2 Jan 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) departed Halifax for Portsmouth.

En route she was to provide cover for convoys SC 18, HX 98/1 and HX 100.

She made rendezvous with other ships on 12 January 1941. [See the event for 10 January 1941 for more information]. (27)

10 Jan 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN) departed Greenock. They escorted the battleship HMS Ramillies (Capt. A.D. Read, RN) and troopship Duchess of York (20021 GRT, built 1929) in the Clyde area until late afternoon when they separated and proceeded to sea. They were to rendez-vous with several warships that were approaching the U.K. from the west and south.

Rendez-vous was effected around 0800 / 0900 hours on the 12th when the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Kenya (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.M. Burrough, CB, RN), armed merchant cruiser HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, RAN) and the destroyers HMS Kelly, HMS Kelvin, HMS Kipling all arrived in approximate position 60°50'N, 09°50'W.

HMS Kenya, which had been escorting HMS Argus did not join. She set course for Plymouth where she arrived on the 14th.

HMS Punjabi arrived at Scapa Flow on 14 January 1941. It seems likely she had already been detached before the rendez-vous was effected.

On the 14th HMS Argus, HMS California escorted by HMS Kelvin split off for the Clyde where they arrived later the same day. HMS Kelvin was then ordered to proceed to the Humber to refit for which she departed the next day.

HMS Revenge set course for Portsmouth escorted by HMS Kelly, HMS Kipling.

At 1615/15 HMS Revenge, HMS Kelly and HMS Kipling were joined by HMS Jersey (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN) which had departed Plymouth at 1030/15.

HMS Revenge and her three escorting destroyers arrived at Portsmouth on the 16th.

16 Jan 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN), HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Jersey (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN) arrived at Portsmouth.

HMS Revenge was to refit at the Portsmouth Dockyard. (27)

23 Jan 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) is docked in 'D-Lock' [Lock not Dock !] at the Portsmouth Dockyard. (27)

1 Mar 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) is undocked. (28)

14 Mar 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) departed Portsmouth for the Clyde early in the evening. She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN), HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Cleveland (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN) and HMS Fernie (Lt.Cdr. A.H.P. Noble, RN).

16 Mar 1941
Around noon HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) arrived at Greenock. She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Cleveland (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN) and HMS Fernie (Lt.Cdr. A.H.P. Noble, RN).

The other three destroyers that had been in company on departure from Portsmouth had been detached on the 15th for patrol duties.

19 Mar 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) conducted D/G trials in Loch Long. (28)

25 Mar 1941

Convoy WS 7.

This convoy was assembled off Oversay on 25 March 1941 for several destinations in the Middle and Far East.

This convoy was made up of the following troopships / transports; Andes (British, 25689 GRT, built 1939), Dempo (Dutch, 17024 GRT, built 1931), Denbighshire (British, 8983 GRT, built 1938), Duchess of Atholl (British, 20119 GRT, built 1928), Duchess of York (British, 20021 GRT, built 1929), Empress of Canada (British, 21517 GRT, built 1922), Georgic (British, 27759 GRT, built 1932), Glenorchy (British, 8982 GRT, built 1939), Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (Dutch, 19429 GRT, built 1930), Orcades (British, 23456 GRT, built 1937), Orion (British, 23371 GRT, built 1935), Otranto (British, 20026 GRT, built 1925), Pasteur (British, 29253 GRT, built 1938), Stirling Castle (British, 25550 GRT, built 1936), Strathaird (British, 22281 GRT, built 1932), Strathallan (British, 23722 GRT, built 1938), Stratheden (British, 23722 GRT, built 1937), Strathmore (British, 23428 GRT, built 1935), Strathnaver (British, 22283 GRT, built 1931), Viceroy of India (British, 19627 GRT, built 1929) and Warwick Castle (British, 20107 GRT, built 1930).

These ships had come from Liverpool and from the Clyde. While proceeding to the Oversay rendezvous (from the Clyde) the Strathaird collided with the Stirling Castle and was forced to return due to the damage sustained. The Stirling Castle also had damage but was able to continue.

On departure from the U.K. waters the convoy was escorted by the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN) (came from Scapa Flow), HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) (came from the Clyde), light cruiser HMS Edinburgh (Commodore C.M. Blackman, DSO, RN) (came from the Clyde), AA cruiser HMS Cairo (A/Capt. I.R.H. Black, RN) (came from Moelfre Bay) and the destroyers HMS Somali (Capt. C. Caslon, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, DSO, RN), HMS Mashona (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Matabele (Cdr. R.St.V. Sherbrooke, DSO, RN), HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski), HMS Broadwater (Lt.Cdr. W.M.L. Astwood, RN) (these destroyers came with the Clyde section of the convoy), HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN), HMS Winchelsea (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, RN) (came with the Liverpool section of the convoy), HMS Viceroy (Lt.Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN), HMS Rockingham (Lt. A.H.T. Johns, RN), Léopard (Lt.Cdr. J. Evenou) (came from Londonderry), HMS Arrow (Cdr. R.E. Hyde-Smith, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN), HMS Eskimo (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN) (had come from Scapa Flow with HMS Nelson) and HMCS St. Clair (Lt.Cdr. D.C. Wallace, RCNR) (came from Tobermory).

Around 2150A/26, HMS Cairo parted company with the convoy.

In the morning of the 27th part of the destroyer escort parted company.

Around 1200A/28, the remaining destroyers parted company with the convoy.

Around 1230A/28, HMS Revenge parted company taking Georgic with her to escort her to Halifax.

Around 2200A/29, HMS Edinburgh parted company with the convoy to proceed to Gibraltar.

Around 1000A/1, the destroyers HMS Duncan (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN) and HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN) joined the convoy coming from Bathurst.

Around 1350A/2, the destroyers HMS Wishart (Cdr. E.T. Cooper, RN) and HMS Vidette (Lt. E.N. Walmsley, RN) joined the convoy also coming from Bathurst.

The convoy arrived at Freetown on 4 April 1941.

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The convoy departed Freetown for South Africa (Capetown and Durban) on 7 April 1941. The composition of the convoy was the same in which it had arrived at Freetown.

Escort on departure was also the same as on the convoy's arrival, battleship HMS Nelson, HMS Foxhound, HMS Duncan, HMS Wishart and HMS Vidette.

In the evening of April 7th, HMS Foxhound, picked up three crewmembers from the merchant vessel Umona that had been torpedoed and sunk on 30 March 1941 by the German submarine U-124.

At 0830Z/8 HMS Foxhound parted company with the convoy to return to Freetown due to defects.

The remaining three destroyers parted company at 1800Z/9 to return to Freetown.

Around 1430B/15, the light cruiser HMS Newcastle (Capt. E.A. Aylmer, DSC, RN) joined the convoy in position 30°30'S, 14°23'E and took over the escort. HMS Nelson then parted company to proceed to Capetown to fuel and then on to Simonstown for repairs to her leaking hull.

At 0900B/16, the convoy split up in position 33°53'S, 17°47'E in a Capetown portion and a Durban portion.

The Durban position was made up of the Denbighshire, Glenorchy, Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, Orontes, Otranto, Stirling Castle, Strathnaver, Viceroy of India and Warwick Castle. HMS Newcastle remained with this section until its arrival at Durban on 19 April 1941.

The remaining ships made up the Capetown section and arrived there on 16 April 1941. Dempo later went on independently to Durban arriving there on 20 April 1941.

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On 20 April 1941 the Capetown portion of the convoy departed. It was made up of the Andes, Duchess of Athol, Duchess of York, Empress of Canada, Orcades, Orion, Pasteur, Strathallan, Stratheden, and Strathmore. They were escorted by the cruiser HMS Hawkins (Capt. H.P.K. Oram, RN).

On 23 April 1941 the Durban portion of the convoy departed. It was made up of the Dempo, Denbighshire, Empress of Australia, Glenorchy, Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, Orontes, Otranto, Strathnaver, Viceroy of India and Warwick Castle. They were escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Carthage (Capt. (retired) H.L.I. Kirkpatrick, OBE, RN). The Stirling Castle which had arrived with the Durban section sailed on 26 April indepedently to Melbourne, Australia where she arrived on 10 May 1941.

These groups made rendezvous at 0900C/24 after which HMS Carthage parted company while HMS Hawkins continued on with the convoy.

Around 1600C/28, HMS Hawkins was relieved by the light cruisers HMS Glasgow (Capt. H. Hickling, RN) and HMS Colombo (Capt. C.A.E. Stanfield, RN) which both had departed Mombasa earlier that day.

On 1 May the Bombay section of the convoy split off. it was made up of the Duchess of York, Johan van Oldebarnevelt, Strathmore and Warwick Castle. HMS Colombo went with them as escort. They arrived at Bombay on 5 May 1941.

The remainder of the convoy continued on, escorted by HMS Glasgow until it was dispersed on 3 May after which the ships proceeded independently to Suez. (29)

1 Apr 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) and the troopship Georgic (British, 27759 GRT, built 1932) arrived at Halifax. They were escorted in by the destroyer HMCS St Croix (Cdr. H. Kingsley, RCN). (30)

6 Apr 1941

Convoy HX 119

This convoy departed Halifax on 6 April 1941 in two sections, convoy HX 119A and convoy HX 119B. They merged in the morning of April 13th.

Convoy HX 119A was made up of the following merchant vessels;
Argos Hill (British, 7178 GRT, built 1922), Bendoran (British, 5567 GRT, built 1910), Bra-Kar (Norwegian, 3778 GRT, built 1928), British Consul (British (tanker), 6940 GRT, built 1924), British Tenacity (British (tanker), 8439 GRT, built 1939), Brittany (British, 4772 GRT, built 1928), Ceronia (British (tanker), 4955 GRT, built 1929), Clan MacIlwraith (British, 4839 GRT, built 1924), Cliona (British (tanker), 8375 GRT, built 1931), Curacao (British, 8269 GRT, built 1930), Cymbula (British (tanker), 8082 GRT, built 1938), Davila (British (tanker), 8053 GRT, built 1938), Dolius (British, 5507 GRT, built 1924), Dromus (British (tanker), 8036 GRT, built 1938), Goolistan (British, 5851 GRT, built 1929), Induna (British, 5086 GRT, built 1925), Kentar (British, 5878 GRT, built 1920), Lista (British, 3671 GRT, built 1920), Lobos (British, 6479 GRT, built 1921), Mangkalihat (Dutch, 8457 GRT, built 1928), Mount Helmos (Greek, 6481 GRT, built 1923), Oscilla (Dutch (tanker), 6341 GRT, built 1939), Port Auckland (British, 8789 GRT, built 1922), Port Sydney (British, 9129 GRT, built 1914), Radmanso (Swedish, 4280 GRT, built 1914), Reaveley (British, 4998 GRT, built 1940), Robert Maersk (British, 2290 GRT, built 1937), San Eliseo (British (tanker), 8042 GRT, built 1939), Schuylkill (British (tanker), 8965 GRT, built 1928), Spondilus (British (tanker), 7402 GRT, built 1927), Toorak (British (tanker), 8627 GRT, built 1927), Trevalgan (British, 5299 GRT, built 1937), Tucurinca (British, 5412 GRT, built 1926) and West Totant (British, 5628 GRT, built 1919).

On departure from Halifax convoy HX 119A was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Aurania (A/Capt. I.W. Whitehorn, RN) and the corvettes HMCS Chambly (T/A/Cdr. J.D. Prentice, RCN) and HMCS Orillia (T/Lt.Cdr. W.E.S. Briggs, RCNR). The corvettes were detached to return to Halifax the next day.

The convoy was joined by the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) around 0900Q/8.

Around 1400P/11, HMS Revenge parted company with the convoy to return to Halifax.

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Convoy HX 119B was made up of the following merchant vessels;
Alphacca (British, 5759 GRT, built 1928), Barberrys (British, 5170 GRT, built 1920), Braddock (British, 6619 GRT, built 1919), Edward Blyden (British, 5003 GRT, built 1930), Gard (Norwegian (tanker), 8259 GRT, built 1938), Glaiglas (British, 4312 GRT, built 1940), Hermiston (British, 4813 GRT, built 1939), Idefjord (British, 4287 GRT, built 1921), Kars (British (tanker), 8888 GRT, built 1939), Leerdam (Dutch, 8815 GRT, built 1921), Maasdam (Dutch, 8812 GRT, built 1921), Maihar (British, 7563 GRT, built 1917), Merchant Prince (British, 5229 GRT, built 1939), Mercier (Belgian, 7556 GRT, built 1915), Peder Bogen (British (tanker), 9741 GRT, built 1925), Rio Azul (British, 4088 GRT, built 1921), San Ernesto (British (tanker), 8078 GRT, built 1939), Soekaboemi (Dutch, 7051 GRT, built 1923), Southgate (British, 4862 GRT, built 1926) and Tureby (British, 4372 GRT, built 1936).

On departure from Halifax convoy HX 119B was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Montclare (Capt.(Retd.) H.M. Spreckley, 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 to return to Halifax the next day.

Around 0900P/13, Convoy HX 119B merged with convoy HX 119A.

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At 1215Z/14, the convoy was joined by the heavy cruiser HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.J.L. Phillips, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.F. Wake-Walker CB, OBE, RN).

At 1210Z/15, the armed merchant cruisers HMS Aurania and HMS Montclare parted company with convoy HX 119 (now combined).

At 1815Z/15, the destroyers HMS Havelock (Cdr. E.H. Thomas, RN) and HMS Hurricane (Lt.Cdr. H.C. Simms, RN) joined the convoy. Followed during the night of 15/16 April by the destroyers HMCS Restigouche (Cdr. H.N. Lay, OBE, RN) and HMCS Saguenay (Lt. P.E. Haddon, RCN).

At 2130Z/16, HMS Norfolk parted company with the convoy to proceed to Hvalfjord.

On the 17th, destroyer HMS Viscount (Lt.Cdr. M.S. Townsend, OBE, DSC and Bar, RN), sloop HMS Scarborough (Lt. A.P. Northey, DSC, RN) and corvettes HMS Auricula (T/Lt. W.W. White, RNR), HMS Campanula (Lt.Cdr. R.V.E. Case, DSC and Bar, RD, RNR), HMS Hibiscus (Lt. H. Roach, RNR), HMS Pimpernel (Lt. F.H. Thornton, RNR) and HMS Rhododendron (Lt.Cdr. W.N.M. Faichney, DSO, RNR) joined the convoy.

On the 18th, destroyer HMS Rockingham (Lt. A.H.T. Johns, RN) and corvette HMS Freesia (Lt.Cdr. T.P.G. Crick, RN) joined the convoy.

On the 19th, corvette HMS Hollyhock (Lt. T.E. Davies, OBE, RNR) joined the convoy

On the 20th, HMS Havelock, HMS Hurricane, HMS Restigouche and HMS Saguenay parted company with the convoy.

On the 21st, HMS Viscount and corvette HMS Freesia parted company with the convoy.

The convoy arrived in U.K. waters on 22 April.

12 Apr 1941
At 0930P/12, the submarine HMS Tribune (Lt.Cdr. R.G. Norfolk, RN), encounters the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) in position 40°50'N, 48°42'W. HMS Tribune dives and makes a practice attack on the battleship. HMS Tribune remained dived until the battleship was nearly out of sight.

HMS Revenge was unaware of this, no submarine sighting is listed in the battleships logbook. (31)

14 Apr 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) arrived at Halifax after convoy escort duty. (30)

16 Apr 1941

Convoy HX 121.

This convoy departed Halifax on 16 April 1941.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Antar (British, 5222 GRT, built 1941), Beechwood (British, 4987 GRT, built 1940), Belinda (Norwegian (tanker), 8325 GRT, built 1939), British Endurence (British (tanker), 8406 GRT, built 1936), Caledonia (British, 9892 GRT, built 1936), Capsa (British (tanker), 8229 GRT, built 1931), Capulet (British (tanker), 8190 GRT, built 1932), City of Barcelona (British, 5787 GRT, built 1930), Cornwall (British, 10605 GRT, built 1920), Danby (British, 4281 GRT, built 1937), Darina (British, 8113 GRT, built 1939), Denbydale (British, (Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker), 8145 GRT, built 1941), Dordrecht (British, 4402 GRT, built 1928), El Ciervo (British (tanker), 5841 GRT, built 1923), Empire Puma (British, 7777 GRT, built 1920), Empire Snow (British, 6327 GRT, built 1941), Empire Wildebeeste (British, 5631 GRT, built 1918), Ensis (British (tanker), 6207 GRT, built 1937), Grena (British (tanker), 8117 GRT, built 1934), Hilda Knudsen (British (tanker), 9178 GRT, built 1928), Indochinois (British, 6966 GRT, built 1939), King Arthur (British, 5224 GRT, built 1928), Kolsnaren (Swedish, 2465 GRT, built 1923), La Pampa (British, 4149 GRT, built 1938), Langleebrook (British, 4246 GRT, built 12930), Langleetarn (British, 4908 GRT, built 1929), Lombardy (British, 3379 GRT, built 1921), Manchester Division (British, 6048 GRT, built 1918), Manchester Spinner (British, 4767 GRT, built 1918), Mary Kingsley (British, 5021 GRT, built 1930), Mirza (Dutch (tanker), 7991 GRT, built 1929), Moena (Dutch, 9286 GRT, built 1923), Oilfield (British (tanker), 8516 GRT, built 1938), Opalia (British (tanker), 6195 GRT, built 1938), Polartank (Norwegian (tanker), 6356 GRT, built 1930), Port Hardy (British, 8897 GRT, built 1923), Rembrandt (British, 5559 GRT, built 1941), Rookley (British, 4998 GRT, built 1940), Saint Bertrand (British, 5522 GRT, built 1929), San Emiliano (British (tanker), 8071 GRT, built 1939), San Felix (British (tanker), 13037 GRT, built 1921), Sourabaya (British (tanker), 10107 GRT, built 1915), Stanford (British, 5969 GRT, built 1941), Stanley (British, 6463 GRT, built 1919), Tahchee (British (tanker), 6508 GRT, built 1914), Trehata (British, 4817 GRT, built 1918), Tresillian (British, 4743 GRT, built 1925) and Tudor Prince (British, 1914 GRT, built 1940).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, RAN) and the corvettes HMCS Chambly (T/A/Cdr. J.D. Prentice, RCN), HMCS Collingwood (T/Lt. W. Woods, RCNR) and HMCS Orillia (T/Lt.Cdr. W.E.S. Briggs, RCNR). The corvettes however soon returned to Halifax.

Around 1000PQ(+3.5)/19, the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) joined the convoy. She had departed Halifax on 17 April 1941.

HMS Revenge parted company with the convoy around 2245ON(+1.5)/23 to return to Halifax.

In the afternoon of 25 April the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr. H.T. Armstrong, RN, HMS Malcolm (Cdr. C.D. Howard-Johnston, DSC, RN), HMS Watchman (Lt.Cdr. E.C.L. Day, RN) and corvette HMS Violet (Lt.Cdr. K.M. Nicholson, RNR) joined the convoy.

Around 0930Z/27, HMS California parted company with the convoy to proceed to Iceland escorted by HMS Malcolm.

In the morning of the 28th the corvettes, HMS Abelia (T/Lt. F. Ardern, RNR), HMS Gladiolus (Lt.Cdr. H.M.C. Sanders, DSC, RNR), HMS Veronica (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) D.F. White, RNR), A/S trawlers HMS St. Elstan (T/Lt. G. Butcher, RNVR), HMS St. Kenan (T/Lt. R.R. Simpson, RNR), HMS St. Zeno (T/Lt. J.K. Craig, RNVR), HMS Vizalma (T/Lt. M.M. Firth, RNVR) and the rescue ship Zaafaran (British, 1559 GRT, built 1921) joined the convoy.

In the afternoon of the 28th the destroyers HMS Douglas (Cdr. W.E. Banks, DSC, RN), HMS Roxborough (Lt. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN) and HMS Leamington (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Bowerman, RN) joined the convoy.

Also on 28 April 1941, German submarines attacked the convoy. The tanker Capulet was torpedoed and damaged by U-552. Later on the 28th, the tankers Caledonia, Oilfield and transport Port Hardy were torpedoed and sunk by U-96.

On 2 May 1941, the drifting wreck of the abandoned Capulet was finshed off by the German submarine U-201.

The convoy arrived in British waters on 3 May 1941.

28 Apr 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) arrived at Halifax after convoy escort duty. (30)

6 May 1941

Convoy HX 125

This convoy departed Halifax on 6 May 1941 in two sections, convoy HX 125A and convoy HX 125B. They merged in the afternoon of May 16th.

Convoy HX 125A was made up of the following merchant vessels;
Abraham Lincoln (British, 5740 GRT, built 1929), Armadale (British, 5066 GRT, built 1929), Athelknight (British (tanker), 8940 GRT, built 1930), Atlantic (British, 5414 GRT, built 1939), Baron Dunmore (British, 3938 GRT, built 1933), Bic Island (British, 4000 GRT, built 1917), British Cinfidence (British (tanker), 8494 GRT, built 1936), British Fortitude (British (tanker), 8482 GRT, built 1937), British Sincerity (British (tanker), 8538 GRT, built 1939), Clausina (British (tanker), 8083 GRT, built 1938), Dallington Court (British, 6889 GRT, built 1929), El Aleto (British (tanker), 7203 GRT, built 1927), Empire Confidence (British, 5023 GRT, built 1935), Eskbank (British, 5137 GRT, built 1937), Fjordheim (British, 4115 GRT, built 1930), Garonne (Norwegian (tanker), 7113 GRT, built 1921), Glenwood (British, 4897 GRT, built 1940), Harmala (British, 5730 GRT, built 1935), Harpagon (British, 5719 GRT, built 1935), Ingerfem (British, 3987 GRT, built 1912), King Neptune (British, 5224 GRT, built 1928), King William (British, 5274 GRT, built 1928), Lancastrian Prince (British, 1914 GRT, built 1940), Lucellum (British (tanker), 9425 GRT, built 1938), Luminetta (British (tanker), 6159 GRT, built 1927), Luxor (British (tanker), 6554 GRT, built 1930), O.A. Knudsen (Norwegian (tanker), 11007 GRT, built 1938), Port Nicholson (British, 8402 GRT, built 1919), Ramsay (British, 4855 GRT, built 1930), Robert F. Hand (British (tanker), 12197 GRT, built 1933), San Amado (British (tanker), 7316 GRT, built 1935), San Cipriano (British, 7966 GRT, built 1937), Silverelm (British, 4351 GRT, built 1924), Taron (British (tanker), 8054 GRT, built 1936), Temple Arch (British, 5138 GRT, built 1940), Temple Inn (British, 5218 GRT, built 1940), Topdalsfjord (Norwegian, 4271 GRT, built 1921), Trevilley (British, 5296 GRT, built 1940), Troubadour (Norwegian, 5808 GRT, built 1920) and Vancouver (British (tanker), 5729 GRT, built 1928).

On departure from Halifax convoy HX 125A was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Ascania (Capt.(Retd.) C.H. Ringrose-Wharton, RN) and the corvettes HMCS Cobalt (T/A/Lt.Cdr. R.B. Campbell, RCNR) and HMCS Wetaskiwin (Lt.Cdr. G.S. Windeyer, RCN). The corvettes however soon returned to Halifax.

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Convoy HX 125B was made up of the following merchant vessels;
Breedijk (Dutch, 6861 GRT, built 1922), Briarwood (British, 4019 GRT, built 1930), British Destiny (British (tanker), 8470 GRT, built 1937), British Governor (British (tanker), 6840 GRT, built 1926), British Prestige (British (tanker), 7106 GRT, built 1931), Christian Holm (British (tanker), 9119 GRT, built 1927), City of Adelaide (British, 6589 GRT, built 1920), Clearpool (British, 5404 GRT, built 1935), Cockaponset (British, 5995 GRT, built 1919), Corrales (British, 5363 GRT, built 1930), Diloma (British (tanker), 8146 GRT, built 1939), Egyptian Prince (British, 3490 GRT, built 1922), Empire Barracuda (British, 4972 GRT, built 1919), Empire Hail (British, 7005 GRT, built 1941), Evgenia Chandris (Greek, 5317 GRT, built 1920), Frontenac (Norwegian (tanker), 7350 GRT, built 1928), Gold Shell (British (tanker), 8208 GRT, built 1931), Hellen (Norwegian, 5289 GRT, built 1921), Ida Knudsen (Norwegian (tanker), 8913 GRT, built 1925), Invincible (British, 7592 GRT, built 1918), Kelso (British, 3956 GRT, built 1924), Kent (British, 8697 GRT, built 1918), Lodestone (British, 4877 GRT, built 1938), Manchester Exporter (British, 5277 GRT, built 1918), Masunda (British, 5250 GRT, built 1929), Modavia (British, 4858 GRT, built 1927), Norfolk (British, 10948 GRT, built 1918) and Nyanza (British, 4974 GRT, built 1928).

On departure from Halifax convoy HX 125B was escorted by the sloop HMS Aberdeen (Lt. S.G. Rivers-Smith, RN).

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On 7 May 1941, the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) departed Halifax to provide cover for both sections of the convoy. She set course to return to Halifax around midnight during the night of 13/14 May 1941.

Four recently transferred US Coast Guard Cutters were also with the convoy, though these had not been rearmed and worked up. These were; HMS Banff (Lt.Cdr. P.S. Evans, RN), HMS Culver (Lt.Cdr. R.T. Gordon-Duff, RN), HMS Fishguard (Lt.Cdr. H.L. Pryse, RNR) and HMS Hartland ( A/Cdr. D.E.G. Wemyss, RN).

On the 16th the destroyers HMS Chelsea (Lt.Cdr. R.D.H.S. Pankhurst, RN), HMS Churchill (Cdr.(Retd.) G.R. Cousins, RN), HNoMS Mansfield (Cdr. F. Ulstrup, RNorN), HMS Verity (Cdr. R.H. Mills, RN), HMS Wolverine (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Rowland, RN) and the corvettes HMS Begonia (T/Lt. T.A.R. Muir, RNR), HMS Convolvulus (T/Lt. R.S. Connell, RNR) and HMS Larkspur (Lt. S.C.B. Hickman, RNR) joined the convoy coming from Iceland. They remained with the convoy until the 18th.

In the afternoon of the 16th, Convoys HX 125A and HX 125B merged into one big convoy.

Around 1330Z/18, HMS Ascania parted company with the convoy to proceed to Reykjavik.

On the 18th the destroyers HMS Ramsey (Lt.Cdr. R.B. Stannard, VC, RNR), HMS Ripley (Lt.Cdr. J.A. Agnew, RN), HMS Walker (Cdr. D.G.F.W. MacIntyre, DSO, RN), HMS Watchman (Lt.Cdr. E.C.L. Day, RN), sloop HMS Enchantress (Lt.Cdr. A.E.T. Christie, OBE, RN), corvettes HMS Bluebell (Lt.Cdr. R.E. Sherwood, RNR), HMS Candytuft (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) F.B. Collinson, RD, RNR), HMS Honeysuckle (Lt.Cdr. G.W. Gregorie, RNR), HMS Hydrangea (Lt. J.E. Woolfenden, RNR), HMS Tulip (Lt.Cdr. A. Wilkinson, RNR) and HMS Wallflower (Lt.Cdr. I.J. Tyson, RN), and the minesweeper HMS Salamander (Lt.Cdr. W.A. Cooke, RN) joined the convoy.

On the 19th the destroyer HMS Caldwell (Lt.Cdr. E.M. Mackay, RNR) joined on the 19th as did the minesweepers HMS Bramble (Capt. M.H. Evelegh, RN), HMS Gossamer (Lt.Cdr. A.D.H. Jay, RN), HMS Seagull ( Cdr.(Retd.) R.H.V. Sivewright, RN) and HMS Sharpshooter (Lt.Cdr. D. Lampen, RN) but apparently only for a short while.

The destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN) and HMS Escapade (Lt.Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN) joined the convoy on the 20th.

also on the 20th the corvettes HMS Tulip and HMS Wallflower were detached.

The destroyers HMS Inglefield and HMS Escapade were destached on the 21st as was the corvette HMS Honeysuckle.

The convoy arrived in British waters on 22 May 1941.

7 May 1941
HMS Tribune (Lt.Cdr. R.G. Norfolk, RN) carries out dummy attacks on HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) near Halifax, Canada. (32)

17 May 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) arrived at Halifax after convoy escort duty. (33)

18 May 1941

Chase and sinking of the German battleship Bismarck,
18 to 27 May 1941.

Part I.

Departure of the Bismarck from the Baltic.

At 2130B/18 the German battleship Bismarck and the German heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen departed Gotenhafen for an anti-shipping raid in the North Atlantic. The following morning they were joined off Cape Arkona by the German destroyers Z 16 / Friedrich Eckhold and Z 23. They then proceeded through the Great Belt. The four ships were joined by a third destroyer, Z 10 / Hans Lody shortly before midnight on 19 May.

First reports of Bismarck and British dispositions 20-21 May 1941.

On 20 May 1941 two large warships with a strong escort were seen at 1500 hours northward out of the Kattegat. This information originated from the Swedish cruiser Gotland which had passed the Germans off the Swedish coast in the morning. The Naval Attaché at Stockholm received the news at 2100/20 and forwarded it to the Admiralty. At 0900/21 the Bismarck and her consorts entered Kors Fjord, near Bergen, Norway and anchored in nearby fiords. A reconnaissance aircraft flying over Bergen at 1330/21 reported having seen two Hipper class heavy cruisers there. One of these ships was later identified on a photograph as being the Bismarck. This intelligence went out at once to the Home Fleet.

The ships of the Home Fleet were at this time widely dispersed on convoy duties, patrols, etc. Some of the units were ranging as far as Gibraltar and Freetown. The Commander-in-Chief, A/Admiral Sir John Tovey, was at Scapa Flow in his flagship, HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN). With him were her newly commissioned sister ship HMS Prince of Wales (Capt. J.C. Leach, MVO, RN), the battlecruiser HMS Hood (Capt. R. Kerr, CBE, RN, with Vice-Admiral L.E. Holland, CB, RN, onboard), the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, RN), the light cruisers HMS Galatea (Capt. E.W.B. Sim, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral K.T.B. Curteis, CB, RN), HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, RN), HMS Kenya (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, RN), HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) and the destroyers HMS Achates (Lt.Cdr. Viscount Jocelyn, RN), HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. R.B.N. Hicks, DSO, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN), HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. C.H.deB. Newby, RN), HMS Electra (Cdr. C.W. May, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSO, RN), HMS Punjabi (Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN) and HMAS Nestor (Cdr. A.S. Rosenthal, RAN). HMS Victorious was under orders to escort troop convoy WS 8B from the Clyde to the Middle East. HMS Neptune was working up for service with the Mediterranean Fleet and was to escort convoy WS 8X from the Clyde to the Middle East on completion. She did not sail to operate against the Bismarck having only just began her post-refit work-up programme.

Rear-Admiral W.F. Wake-Walker (commanding the first Cruiser Squadron), with the heavy cruisers HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.J.L. Phillips, RN) (flag) and HMS Suffolk (Capt. R.M. Ellis, RN) was on patrol in the Denmark Straight. The light cruisers HMS Manchester (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN) and HMS Birmingham (Capt. A.C.G. Madden, RN) were patrolling between Iceland and the Faeroes. The battlecruiser HMS Repulse (Capt. W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN) was at the Clyde to escort troop convoy WS 8B.

Action taken by the Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet

Admiral Tovey took the following action when he received the news the Bismarck had been spotted at Bergen. Vice-Admiral Holland with the Hood, Prince of Wales, Achates, Antelope, Anthony, Echo, Electra and Icarus was ordered to cover Rear Admiral Wake-Walker's cruisers in the Denmark Straight. His force departed Scapa Flow around 0100/22.

HMS Arethusa (Capt. A.C. Chapman, RN), which was taking the Vice-Admiral, Orkneys and Shetlands, to Reykjavik on a visit of inspection, was ordered to remain at Hvalfiord and placed at Rear-Admiral Wake-Walkers disposal. HMS Manchester and HMS Birmingham were ordered to top off with fuel at Skaalefiord and them to resume their patrol. The other ships that remained at Scapa Flow were brought to short notice for steam.

The Free French submarine FFS Minerve (Lt. P.M. Sonneville), which was on patrol off south-west Norway was ordered to proceed to position 61°53'N, 03°15'E and HMS P 31 (Lt. J.B.de B. Kershaw, RN) was ordered to proceed to position 62°08'N, 05°08'E which is to the west of Stadtlandet.

The sailing of HMS Repulse and HMS Victorious with troop convoy WS 8B was cancelled and the ships were placed at the disposal of Admiral Tovey.

A reconnaissance aircraft flying over Bergen reported that the German ships were gone. This information reached Admiral Tovey at 2000/22. HMS Suffolk which had been fuelling at Hvalfiord was ordered to rejoin HMS Norfolk in the Denmark Strait. HMS Arethusa was ordered to join HMS Manchester and HMS Birmingham to form a patrol line between Iceland and the Faeroes. Vice-Admiral Holland, on his way to Iceland was told to cover the patrols in Denmark Strait north of 62°N. Admiral Tovey would cover the patrols south of 62°N.

Commander-in-Chief leaves Scapa Flow on 22 May 1941

The King George V, with Admiral Tovey on board, departed Scapa Flow at 2245/22. With the King George V sailed, HMS Victorious, HMS Galatea, HMS Aurora, HMS Kenya, HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, RN), HMS Windsor (Lt.Cdr. J.M.G. Waldegrave, DSC, RN), HMS Active, HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN), HMS Intrepid (Cdr. R.C. Gordon, DSO, RN), HMS Punjabi, HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN) and HMAS Nestor. HMS Lance however had to return to Scapa Flow due to defects.

At A.M. 23 May they were joined off the Butt of Lewis by HMS Repulse escorted by HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN), HMCS Assiniboine (A/Lt.Cdr. J.H. Stubbs, RCN) and HMCS Saguenay (Lt. P.E. Haddon, RCN) coming from the Clyde area which they departed on 22 May.

The Commander-in-Chief was 230 miles north-west of the Butt of Lewis in approximate position 60°20'N, 12°30'W when at 2032/23 a signal came in from HMS Norfolk that she had sighted the Bismarck in the Denmark Strait.

HMS Suffolk and HMS Norfolk made contact with the Bismarck in the Denmark Strait on 23 May 1941.

At 1922/23 HMS Suffolk sighted the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen in position 67°06'N, 24°50'W. They were proceeding to the south-west skirting the edge of the ice in Denmark Strait. HMS Suffolk immediately sent out an enemy report and made for the mist to the south-east. HMS Norfolk then commenced closing and sighted the enemy at 2030 hours. They were only some six nautical miles off and the Bismarck opened fire. HMS Norfolk immediately turned away, was not hit and also sent out an enemy report.

Although HMS Suffolk had sighted the enemy first and also sent the first contact report this was not received by the Commander-in-Chief. The enemy was 600 miles away to the north-westward.

Vice-Admiral Holland had picked up the signal from the Suffolk. He was at that moment about 300 nautical miles away. Course was changed to intercept and speed was increased by his force to 27 knots.

Dispositions, 23 May 1941.

At the Admiralty, when the Norfolk's signal came in, one of the first considerations was to safeguard the convoys at sea. At this time there were eleven crossing the North-Atlantic, six homeward and five outward bound. The most important convoy was troop convoy WS 8B of five ships which had left the Clyde the previous day for the Middle East. She was at this moment escorted by the heavy cruiser HMS Exeter (Capt. O.L. Gordon, MVO, RN), light cruiser (AA cruiser) HMS Cairo (A/Capt. I.R.H. Black, RN) and the destroyers HMS Cossack (Capt. P.L. Vian, DSO, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, DSC, RN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski), HMCS Ottawa (Cdr. E.R. Mainguy, RCN), HMCS Restigouche (Cdr. H.N. Lay, RCN) and the escort destroyer HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, RN). HMS Repulse was also intended to have sailed with this convoy but she had joined the Commander-in-Chief instead.

Force H was sailed around 0200/24 from Gibraltar to protect this important convoy on the passage southwards. Force H was made up of the battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt Sir R.R. McGrigor, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (Capt. L.E.H. Maund, RN), light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN) and the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN), HMS Foresight (Cdr. J.S.C. Salter, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN) and HMS Hesperus (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Tait, RN).

HMS Norfolk and HMS Suffolk shadowing Bismarck 23 / 24 May 1941.

During the night of 23 / 24 May 1941 HMS Norfolk and HMS Suffolk hung on to the enemy, The Norfolk on their port quarter, Suffolk on their starboard quarter. All through the night they sent signals with updates on the position, course and speed of the enemy. At 0516 hours HMS Norfolk sighted smoke on her port bow and soon HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales came in sight.

HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales 23 / 24 May 1941.

At 2054/23 the four remaining escorting destroyers were ordered to follow at best speed in the heavy seas if they were unable to keep up with the capital ships which were proceeding at 27 knots. Two destroyers, HMS Antelope and HMS Anthony had been ordered to proceed to Iceland to refuel at 1400/23. The destroyers all managed to keep up for now and at 2318 hours they were ordered to form a screen ahead of both capital ships. At 0008/24 speed was reduced to 25 knots and course was altered to due north at 0017 hours. It was expected that contact with the enemy would be made at any time after 0140/24. It was just now that the cruisers lost contact with the enemy in a snowstorm and for some time no reports were coming in. At 0031 hours the Vice-Admiral signalled to the Prince of Wales that if the enemy was not in sight by 0210 hours he would probably alter course to 180° until the cruisers regained touch. He also signalled that he intended to engage the Bismarck with both capital ships and leave the Prinz Eugen to Norfolk and Suffolk.

The Prince of Wales' Walrus aircraft was ready for catapulting and it was intended to fly it off, but visibility deteriorated and in the end it was defuelled and stowed away at 0140 hours. A signal was then passed to the destroyers that when the capital ships would turn to the south they were to continue northwards searching for the enemy. Course was altered to 200° at 0203/24. As there was now little chance of engaging the enemy before daylight the crews were allowed to rest.

At 0247/24 HMS Suffolk regained touch with the enemy and by 0300 hours reports were coming in again. At 0353 hours HMS Hood increased speed to 28 knots and at 0400/24 the enemy was estimated to be 20 nautical miles to the north-west. By 0430 hours visibility had increased to 12 nautical miles. At 0440 hours orders were given to refuel the Walrus of HMS Prince of Wales but due to delays due to water in the fuel it was not ready when the action began and it was damaged by splinters and eventuelly jettisoned into the sea.

At 0535/24 hours a vessel was seen looming on the horizon to the north-west, it was the Bismarck. She was some 17 nautical miles away bearing 330°. Prinz Eugen was ahead of her but this was not immediately realised and as the silhoutte of the German ships was almost similar the leading ship was most likely thought to be the Bismarck on board HMS Hood.

Battle of the Denmark Strait, action with the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen. Loss of HMS Hood.

At 0537/24 HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales were turned together 40° to starboard towards the enemy. At 0549 hours course was altered to 300° and the left hand ship was designated as the target. This was a mistake as this was the Prinz Eugen and not the Bismarck. This was changed to the Bismarck just before fire was opened at 0552 hours. At 0554 hours the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen also opened fire. In the meantime Prince of Wales had also opened fire at 0053 hours. Her first salvo was over. The sixth salvo was a straddle. The Norfolk and Suffolk were too far astern of the enemy to take part in the action.

At 0555 hours Hood and Prince of Wales turned two points to port. This opened up Prince of Wales' A arcs as her ninth salvo was fired.

Shortly before 0605 hours Hood signalled that another turn of two points to port had to be executed. Bismarck had just fired her fifth salvo when the Hood was rent in two by a huge explosion rising apparently between the after funnel and the mainmast. The fore part began to sink seperately, bows up, whilst the after part remained shrouded in a pall of smoke. Three or four minutes later, the Hood had vanished between the waves leaving a vast cloud of smoke drifting away to the leeward. She sank in position 63°20'N, 31°50'W (the wreck was found in 2001 in approximate position 63°22'N, 32°17'W, the exact position has not been released to the public.)

The Prince of Wales altered course to starboard to avoid the wreckage of the Hood. The Bismarck now shifted fire from her main and secondary armament to her. Range was now 18000 yards. Within a very short time she was hit by four 15" and three 6" shells. At 0602 hours a large projectile wrecked the bridge, killing or wounding most of the personnel and about the same time the ship was holed underwater aft. It was decided temporarily to discontinue the action and at 0613 hours HMS Prince of Wales turned away behind a smoke screen. The after turret continued to fire but it soon malfunctioned and was out of action until 0825 hours. When the Prince of Wales ceased firing the range was 14500 yards. She had fired 18 salvos from the main armament and five from the secondary. The Bismarck made no attempt to follow or continue the action. She had also not escaped unscatched and had sustained two severe hits.

Such was the end of the brief engagement. The loss by an unlucky hit of HMS Hood with Vice-Admiral Holland, Captain Kerr and almost her entire ships company was a grievous blow, but a great concentration of forces was gathering behind the Commander-in-Chief, and Admiral Somerville with Force H was speeding towards him from the south.

The chase

When the Hood blew up, HMS Norfolk was 15 nautical miles to the northward coming up at 28 knots. By 0630/24 she was approaching HMS Prince of Wales and Rear-Admiral Wake-Walker, signalling his intention to keep in touch, told her to follow at best speed. The destroyers that had been with HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales were still to the northward. They were ordered to search for survivors but only HMS Electra found three. The Prince of Wales reported that she could do 27 knots and she was told to open out to 10 nautical miles on a bearing of 110° so that HMS Norfolk could fall back on her if she was attacked. Far off the Prinz Eugen could be seen working out to starboard of the Bismarck while the chase continued to the southward.

At 0757 hours, HMS Suffolk reported that the Bismarck had reduced speed and that she appeared to be damaged. Shortly afterwards a Sunderland that had taken off from Iceland reported that the Bismarck was leaving behind a broad track of oil. The Commander-in-Chief with HMS King George V was still a long way off, about 360 nautical miles to the eastward, and Rear-Admiral Wake-Walker on the bridge of HMS Norfolk had to make an important decision, was he to renew the action with the help of the Prince of Wales or was he to make it his business to ensure that the enemy could be intercepted and brought to action by the Commander-in-Chief. A dominant consideration in the matter was the state of the Prince of Wales. Her bridge had been wrecked, she had 400 tons of water in her stern compartments and two of her guns were unserverable and she could go no more then 27 knots. She had only been commissioned recently and barely a week had passed since Captain Leach had reported her ready for service. Her turrets were of a new and an untried model, liable for 'teething' problems and evidently suffering from them, for at the end of the morning her salvoes were falling short and wide. It was doubted if she was a match for the Bismarck in her current state and it was on these grounds that Rear-Admiral Wake-Walker decided that he would confine himself to shadowing and that he would not attempt to force on an action. Soon after 1100/24 visibility decreased and the Bismarck was lost out of sight in mist and rain.

Measures taken by the Admiralty, 24 May 1941.

After the loss of HMS Hood the following measures were taken by the Admiralty. To watch for an attempt by the enemy to return to Germany, HMS Manchester, HMS Birmingham and HMS Arethusa had been ordered at 0120/24 to patrol off the north-east point of Iceland. They were told to proceed to this location with all despatch.

HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN), which with four destroyers was escorting the troopship Britannic (26943 GRT, built 1930) westward, was ordered at 1022/24 to steer west on a closing course and if the Britannic could not keep up she was to leave her with one of the destroyers. Rodney was about 550 nautical miles south-east of the Bismarck. At 1200/24 she left the Britannic in position 55°15'N, 22°25'W and left HMS Eskimo (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN) with her. HMS Rodney then proceeded with HMS Somali (Capt. C. Caslon, RN), HMS Tartar (Cdr. L.P. Skipwith, RN) and HMS Mashona (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN) westwards on a closing course.

Two other capital ships were in the Atlantic; HMS Ramillies (Capt. A.D. Read, RN) and HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN). The Ramillies was escorting convoy HX 127 from Halifax and was some 900 nautical miles south of the Bismarck. She was ordered at 1144/24 to place herself to the westward of the enemy and leaving her convoy at 1212/24 in position 46°25'N, 35°24'W, she set course to the north. HMS Revenge was ordered to leave Halifax and close the enemy.

Light cruiser HMS Edinburgh (Capt. C.M. Blackman, DSO, RN) was patrolling in the Atlantic between 44°N and 46°N for German merchant shipping and was ordered at 1250/24 to close the enemy and take on relief shadower. At 1430/24 she reported her position as 44°17'N, 23°56'W and she was proceeding on course 320° at 25 knots.

Rear-Admiral Wake-Walker was ordered to continue shadowing even if he ran short of fuel so to bring the Commander-in-Chief into action.

The Bismack turns due south at 1320 hours on 24 May 1941.

In the low state of visibility, HMS Norfolk and HMS Suffolk had to be constantly on the alert against the enemy falling back and attacking them. At 1320/24 the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen altered course to the south and reduced speed. HMS Norfolk sighted them through the rain at a range of only 8 nautical miles. Norfolk had to quickly turn away under the cover of a smoke screen.

It was at 1530/24 when HMS Norfolk received a signal made by the Commander-in-Chief at 0800/24 from which it was estimated that the Commander-in-Chief would be near the enemy at 0100/25. This was later changed to 0900/25.

At 1545/24, Rear-Admiral Wake-Walker was asked by the Admiralty to answer four questions;
1) State the remaining percentage of the Bismarck's fighting efficiency.
2) What amout of ammunition had the Bismarck expended.
3) What are the reasons for the frequent alterations of course by the Bismarck.
4) What are your intentions as regards to the Prince of Wales' re-engaging the Bismarck.

The answers by Rear-Admiral Wake-Walker were as follows.
1) Uncertain but high.
2) About 100 rounds.
3) Unaccountable except as an effort to shake off HMS Norfolk and HMS Suffolk.
4) Consider it wisely for HMS Prince of Wales to not re-engage the Bismarck until other capital ships are in contact, unless interception failed. Doubtful if she has the speed to force an action.

The afternoon drew on towards evening. Still the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen held on to the south while the Norfolk, Suffolk and Prince of Wales were still keeping her in sight.

At 1711/24 in order to delay the enemy if possible, by attacking him from astern, the Prince of Wales was stationed ahead of the Norfolk. The enemy was not in sight from the Norfolk at that time, but the Suffolk was still in contact.

At 1841/24 the Bismarck opened fire on the Suffolk. Her salvoes fell short, but one or two shorts came near enough to cause some minor damage to her hull plating aft. HMS Suffolk replied with nine broadsides before turning away behind a smoke screen.

On seeing the Suffolk being attacked, HMS Norfolk turned towards and she and HMS Prince of Wales opened fire, the latter firing 12 salvoes. By 1856 hours the action was over. Two of the guns on the Prince of Wales malfuntioned again. After the action the cruisers started to zig-zag due to fear for German submarines.

British dispositions at 1800 hours on 24 May 1941.

From the Admiralty at 2025/24, there went out a signal summarising the situation at 1800/24. The position, course and speed of the Bismarck was given as 59°10'N, 36°00'W, 180°, 24 knots with HMS Norfolk, HMS Suffolk and HMS Prince of Wales still in touch. The Commander-in-Chiefs estimated position at 1800/24 was 58°N, 30°W, with HMS King George V and HMS Repulse. HMS Victorious was with the 2nd Cruiser Squadron (HMS Galatea, HMS Aurora, HMS Kenya). They had parted company with the Commander-in-Chief at 1509/24. Heavy cruiser HMS London (Capt. R.M. Servaes, CBE, RN) was in position 42°45'N, 20°10'W and had been ordered to leave her convoy and close the enemy. HMS Ramillies was in estimated position 45°45'N, 35°40'W. She had been ordered to place herself to the west of the enemy. HMS Manchester, HMS Birmingham and HMS Arethusa were returning from their position off the north-east of Iceland to refuel. HMS Revenge had left Halifax and was closing convoy HX 128. HMS Edinburgh was in approximate position 45°15'N, 25°10'W. She had been ordered to close and take over stand by shadower.

Evening of 24 May 1941.

At 2031/24 HMS Norfolk received a signal sent by the Commander-in-Chief at 1455/24 stating that aircraft from HMS Victorious might make an attack at 2200/24 and Rear-Admiral Wake-Walker now waited for an air attack which he expected at 2300 hours. By that time Bismarck had been lost from sight but at 2330/24 HMS Norfolk briefly sighted her at a distance of 13 nautical miles. At 2343/24 aircraft from HMS Victorious were seen approaching. They circled round HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Norfolk and the latter was able to direct them to the enemy. At 0009/25 heavy anti-aircraft gunfire was seen and the Bismarck was just visible as the aircraft attacked.

HMS Victorious and the 2nd Cruiser Squadron detached by the Commander-in-Chief.

At 1440/24 the Commander-in-Chief ordered the 2nd Cruiser Squadron (HMS Galatea, HMS Aurora, HMS Kenya, HMS Hermione) and HMS Victorious to a position within 100 nautical miles from Bismarck and to launch a torpedo bombing attack and maintain contact as long as possible. The object of the torpedo bombing attack was to slow the enemy down. On board the Victorious were only 12 Swordfish torpedo bombers and 6 Fulmar fighters. Victorious was only recently commissioned and her crew was still rather green. She had on board a large consignment of crated Hurricane fighters for Malta which were to be delivered to Gibraltar.

At 2208/24 HMS Victorious commenced launching 9 Swordfish in position 58°58'N, 33°17'E. Two minutes later al were on their way to find the Bismarck. The Squadron was led by Lt.Cdr.(A) E. Esmonde, RN.

HMS Victorious aircraft attack the Bismarck.

When the Swordfish took off from HMS Victorious the Bismarck was estimated to be in position 57°09'N, 36°44'W and was steering 180°, speed 24 knots. At 2330/24 they sighted the Bismarck but contact was lost in the bad weater. Shortly afterwards the Swordfish sighted HMS Prince of Wales, HMS Norfolk and HMS Suffolk. HMS Norfolk guided them to the enemy which was 14 nautical miles on her starboard bow. At 2350 hours a vessel was detected ahead and the squadron broke cloud to deliver an attack. To their surprise they found themselves over a United States Coastguard cutter. The Bismarck was 6 nautical miles to the southward and on sighting the aircraft opened up a heavy barrage fire. Lt.Cdr. Esmonde pressed home his attack, 8 of the Swordfish were able to attack, the other had lost contact in the clouds.

The 8 planes attacked with 18" torpedoes, fitted with Duplex pistols set for 31 feet. At midnight three Swordfish attacked simultaneously on the port beam. Three others made a longer approach low down attacking on the port bow a minute later. One took a longer course, attacking on the port quarter. One went round and attacked on the starboard bow a couple of minutes after midnight. At least one hit was claimed on the starboard side abreast the bridge. The Germans however state that no hit was scored but that the violent maneuvering of the ship to avoid the attack, together with the heavy firing by the Bismarck caused the leak in no.2 boiler room to open up. No.2 boiler room was already partially flooded and now had to be abandoned.

All Swordfish from the striking had returned to HMS Victorious by 0201/25. Two Fulmars launched at 2300/24 for shadowing failed to find their ship in the darkness due to the failure of Victorious' homing beacon. Their crews were in the end picked up from the chilly water.

HMS Norfolk and HMS Suffolk loose contact at 0306/25.

While the aircraft from HMS Victorious were making their attack, HMS Norfolk sighted a ship to the south-west and gave the order to open fire. HMS Prince of Wales was able to identify it in time as an American coast guard cutter, but in the movements prepartory to opening fire HMS Norfolk lost touch with the enemy for a time and it was not until 0116/25 that she suddenly sighted the Bismarck only 8 nautical miles away. There followed a brief exchange of fire. HMS Norfolk and HMS Prince of Wales turned to port to bring their guns to bear and the latter was ordered to engage. It was then 0130/25. The Prince of Wales fired two salvoes at 20000 yards by radar. The Bismarck answered with two salvoes which fell a long way short. The light was failing and the enemy was again lost to sight. HMS Suffolk, which had to most reliable RDF set was told to act independently so as to keep in touch.

Around 0306/25 the Suffolk lost touch with the Bismarck. At 0552/25 Rear-Admiral Wake-Walker asked if HMS Victorious could launch aircraft for a search at dawn.

Search measures, 25 May 1941.

With the disappearance of the Bismarck at 0306/25 the first phase of the pursuit ended. The Commander-in-Chief, in HMS King George V with HMS Repulse in company was then about 115 nautical miles to the south-east. At 0616/25, Rear-Admiral Wake-Walker signalled that it was most probable that Bismarck and Prinz Eugen made a 90° turn to the west or turned back and 'cut away' to the eastward astern of the cruisers. Suffolk was already searching to the south-west and Norfolk was waiting for daylight to do the same. Prince of Wales was ordered to join the King George V and Repulse.

Force H was still on a course to intercept the Bismarck while steaming on at 24 knots. The Rear-Admiral commanding the 2nd Cruiser Squadron in HMS Galatea had altered course at 0558/25 to 180° for the position where the enemy was last seen and the Victorious was getting 8 aircraft ready to fly off at 0730/25 for a search to the eastward. This plan however was altered on orders being recieved from the Commander-in-Chief to take the cruisers and Victorious and carry out a search to the north-west of the Bismarck's last reported position. Five Fulmars had already been up during the night, two of them had not returned to the ship. The search therefore had to be undertaken by Swordfish, the only aircraft available. At 0810/25, seven Swordfish were flown off from position 56°18'N, 36°28'W to search between 280° and 040° up to 100 nautical miles. The search was supplemented by Victorious herself as well as the cruisers from the 2nd Cruiser Squadron (Galatea, Aurora, Kenya and Hermione) which were spread some miles apart.

DF position of the Bismarck of 0852/25.

HMS King George V was still proceeding to the south-west when at 1030/25 the Commander-in-Chief recieved a signal from the Admiralty that the Bismarck's position had been obtained by DF (direction finding) and that it indicated that the Bismarck was on a course for the North Sea by the Faeroes-Iceland passage. To counter this move by the enemy the Commander-in-Chief turned round at 1047/25 and made for the Faeroes-Iceland passage at 27 knots. HMS Repulse was no longer in company with HMS King George V, she had been detached at 0906/25 for Newfoundland to refuel. Suffolk also turned to the eastward to search, her search to the south-west had been fruitless. The search by HMS Victorious, her aircraft and the 2nd Cruiser Squadron to the north-west also had no result. Six Swordfish were landed on by 1107/25, one failed to return. HMS Galatea, HMS Aurora and HMS Kenya now turned towards the DF position of the Bismarck to search in that direction. HMS Hermione had to be detached to Hvalfiord, Iceland to refuel as she was by now down to 40%. The other cruisers slowed down to 20 knots to economise their remaining fuel supply wich was also getting low. At this moment HMS King George V had about 60% remaining.

Events during 25 May 1941.

At 1100/25, HMS King George V, HMS Suffolk and HMS Prince of Wales were proceeding to the north-east in the direction of the enemy's DF signal. HMS Rodney was in position 52°34'N, 29°23'W some 280 nautical miles to the south-eastward on the route towards the Bay of Biscay. On receiving the Commander-in-Chiefs signal of 1047/25 she too proceeded to the north-east.

Meanwhile to Admiralty had come to the conclusion that the Bismarck most likely was making for Brest, France. This was signalled to the Commander-in-Chief at 1023/25 to proceed together with Force H and the 1st Cruiser Squadron on that assumption.

In the absence however of definite reports it was difficult to be certain of the position of the enemy. The DF bearings in the morning had not been very definite. At 1100/25, HMS Renown (Force H), was in position 41°30'N, 17°10'W was ordered to act on the assumption the enemy was making for Brest, France. She shaped course accordingly and prepared a comprehensive sheme of air search. At 1108/25, HMS Rodney, was told to act on the assumption that the enemy was making for the Bay of Biscay. At 1244/25 the Flag Officer Submarines ordered six submarines to take up intercepting positions about 120 nautical miles west of Brest. The submarines involved were HMS Sealion (Cdr. B. Bryant, DSC, RN), HMS Seawolf (Lt. P.L. Field, RN), HMS Sturgeon (Lt.Cdr. D. St. Clair-Ford, RN) from the 5th Submarine Flottilla at Portsmouth, HMS Pandora (Lt.Cdr. J.W. Linton, DSC, RN), which was on passage to the U.K. from the Mediterranean to refit, HMS Tigris (Lt.Cdr. H.F. Bone, DSO, DSC, RN), from the 3rd Submarine Flottilla at Holy Loch and HMS H 44 (Lt. W.N.R. Knox, DSC, RN), a training boat from the 7th Submarine Flotilla at Rothesay which happened to be at Holyhead. Seawolf, Sturgeon and Tigris were already on patrol in the Bay of Biscay, Sealion departed Portsmouth on the 25th as did H 44 but she sailed from Holyhead. Pandora was on passage to the U.K. to refit and was diverted.

At 1320/25 a good DF fix located an enemy unit within a 50 mile radius from position 55°15'N, 32°00'W. This was sent by the Admiralty to the Commander-in-Chief at 1419/25 and it was received at 1530/25. It was only in the evening that it was finally clear to all involved that Bismarck was indeed making for a French port. Air searches had failed to find her during the day. (34)

18 May 1941

Chase and sinking of the German battleship Bismarck,
18 to 27 May 1941.

Part II.

26 May 1941.

By now the question of fuel was becoming acute. For four days ships had been steaming at high speeds and the Commander-in-Chief was faced with the reality of fuel limits. HMS Repulse had already left for Newfoundland, HMS Prince of Wales had by now been sent to Iceland to refuel. HMS Victorious and HMS Suffolk had been forced to reduce speed to economise their fuel.

Coastal Command started air searches along the route towards the Bay of Biscay by long range Catalina flying boats. Lack of fuel was effecting the destroyer screens of the capital ships. There was no screen available for HMS Victorious. The 4th Destroyer Flotilla, escorting troop convoy WS 8B, was ordered at 0159/26 to join the Commander-in-Chief in HMS King George V and HMS Rodney as was HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.P. Thew, RN) which sailed from Londonderry. Leaving the convoy the 4th D.F. proceeded to the north-east. Force H in the meantime was also approaching the immediate area of operations. These forces were to play an important part in the final stages of the chase of the Bismarck.

Force H, 26 May 1941.

HMS Renown, HMS Ark Royal and HMS Sheffield were having a rough passage north in heavy seas, high wind, rain and mist. Their escorting destroyers had already turned back towards Gibraltar at 0900/25. At dawn on the 26th there was half a gale blowing from the north-west. At 0716/26 HMS Ark Royal launched a security patrol in position 48°26'N, 19°13'W to search to the north and to the west just in case the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau had departed Brest to come to the aid of the Bismarck. At 0835/26 there followed an A/S patrol of ten Swordfish. All planes had returned by 0930. None had seen anything.

Bismarck sighted at 1030/26.

It was at 1030/26 that one of the long range Catalina's of the Coastal Command sighted the Bismarck in position 49°30'N, 21°55'W. It was received in HMS King George V at 1043 hours and in HMS Renown in 1038 hours. It placed the enemy well to the westward of the Renown. It was confirmed within the hour when two Swordfish from the Ark Royal which reported the Bismarck in position 49°19'N, 20°52'W some 25 miles east of the position given by the Catalina. The Commander-in-Chief was at that moment about 130 miles to the north of the Bismarck but it was soon clear that the Bismarck had too great a lead to permit her being overtaken unless her speed could be reduced. Nor was the question one merely of distance and speed. The Bismarck was approaching a friendly coast and could run her fuel tanks nearly dry and was sure of air protection, while the British ships would have a long journey back to base in the face of air and submarine attack. HMS Renown was ahead of the Bismarck but it was important that she did not engage the Bismarck unless the latter was already heavily engaged by the better armoured HMS King George V and HMS Rodney.

When the Catalina found the Bismarck at 1030 hours, the 4th Destroyer Flotilla was steering east to join the Commander-in-Chief. They seem to have crossed astern of the enemy's track about 0800/26. The Catalina's report reached Capt. Vian in HMS Cossack at 1054/26 and 'knowing that the Commander-in-Chief would order him to intercept the enemy' Capt. Vian altered course to the south-east.

First attack by aircraft from the Ark Royal.

At 1315/26 HMS Sheffield was detached to the southward with orders to close and shadow the enemy, who was estimated to be 40 nautical miles south-west of the Renown. The visual signal ordering this movement was not repeated to HMS Ark Royal, an omission which had serious consequenses for the aircraft that were to take off did not know that HMS Sheffield had parted company.

At 1450/26 HMS Ark Royal launched a striking force of 14 Swordfish aircraft with the orders to proceed to the south and attack the Bismarck with torpedoes. Weather and cloud conditions were bad and a radar contact was obtained on a ship some 20 nautical miles from the estimated position of the enemy that had been given to the leader shortly before takeoff. At 1550 hours they broke through the clouds and fired 11 torpedoes. Unfortunately the supposed enemy was HMS Sheffield which managed to avoid all torpedoes. The Bismarck at that time was some 15 nautical miles to the southward. The striking force then returned an all aircraft had landed on by 1720/26.

At 1740/26, HMS Sheffield, sighted the Bismarck in position 48°30'N, 17°20'W and took station about 10 nautical miles astern and commenced shadowing the enemy.

Ark Royal's second attack, 2047/26.

The first striking force on its way back sighted the 4th Destroyer Flotilla 20 nautical miles west of Force H. As soon as the aircraft from the first strike had landed they were refuelled and rearmed as fast as possible. Take off started at 1910/26, a total of 15 Swordfish were launched. Reports coming in from HMS Sheffield placed the Bismarck at 167°, 38 nautical miles from the Ark Royal. The striking force was ordered to contact HMS Sheffield who was told to use DF to guide them in.

At 1955/26 HMS Sheffield was sighted but soon lost in the bad weather conditions. She was found again at 2035 hours, she guided the Swordfish in and directed them by visual signal on the enemy bearing 110°, 12 nautical miles. The force took departure for the target in subflights in line astern at 2040/26.

At 2047/26 no.1 subflight of three Swordfish dived through the clouds and sighted the Bismarck 4 nautical miles off to the south-east. One Swordfish of no.3 subflight was with them. Approaching again just inside the cloud they made their final dive at 2053/26 on the port beam under a very intense and accurate fire from the enemy. They dropped four torpedoes of which one was seen to hit. No.2 subflight, made up of two Swordfish, lost touch with no.1 subflight in the clouds, climed to 9000 feet, then dived on a bearing obtained by radar and then attacked from the starboard beam, again under heavy and intense fire. They dropped two torpedoes for one possible hit. The third plane of this subflight had lost touch with the other two and had returned to HMS Sheffield to obtained another range and bearing to the enemy. It then flew ahead of the enemy and carried out a determined attack from his port bow under heavy fire and obtained a torpedo hit on the port side amidships.

Subflight no.4 followed subflight no.3 into the clouds but got iced up at 6600 feet. It then dived through the clouds and was joined by no.2 aircraft from subflight no.3. The Bismarck was then sighted engaging subflight no.2 to starboard. The four aircraft then went into the clouds and cicled the German battleships stern and then dived out of the clouds again and attack simultaneously from the port side firing four torpedoes. All however missed the Bismarck. They came under a very heavy and fierce fire from the enemy and one of the aircraft was heavily damaged, the pilot and air gunner being wounded.

The two aircraft of subflight no.5 lost contact with the other subflights and then with each other in the cloud. They climbed to 7000 feet where ice began to form. When coming out of the cloud at 1000 feet aircraft 4K sighted the Bismarck down wind, she then went back into the cloud under fire from the enemy. She saw a torpedo hit on the enemy's starboard side, reached a position on the starboard bow, withdrew to 5 miles, then came in just above the sea and just outside 1000 yards fired a torpedo which did not hit. The second plane of this flight lost his leader diving through the cloud, found himself on the starboard quarter and after two attempts to attack under heavy fire was forced to jettison his torpedo.

Of the two Swordfish of subflight no.6 one attacked the Bismarck on the starboard beam and dropped his torpedo at 2000 yards without success. The second plane lost the enemy, returned to the Sheffield for a new range and bearing and after searching at sea level attacked on the starboard beam but was driven off by intense fire. The attack was over by 2125/26. Thirteen torpedoes had been fired and it was thought two hits and one probable hit had been obtained. Two torpedoes were jettisoned. The severe nature and full effect of the damage done was at first not fully realised. Actually the Bismarck had received a deadly blow. The last of the shadowing aircraft to return had seen her make two complete circles. One torpedo had struck her on the port side amidships doing little damage but th other torpedo that hit was on the starboard quarter damaging her propellors, wrecking her steering gear and jambing her rudders, it was this torpedo hit that sealed her fate.

HMS Sheffield was still shadowing astern when at 2140/26 the Bismarck turned to port and fired six accurate salvoes of 15". None actually hit Sheffield but a near miss killed three men and seriously injured two. HMS Sheffield turned away and while doing so she sighted HMS Cossack and the other destroyers from the 4th DF approaching from the westward. She then gave them the approximate position of the Bismarck. At 2155/26, HMS Sheffield lost touch with the Bismarck. The destroyers continued to shadow and eventually attack. Meanwhile HMS Renown and HMS Ark Royal shaped course for the southward to keep the road clear for the Commander-in-Chief in HMS King George V and for HMS Rodney. Also in the Ark Royal aircraft were being got ready for an attack on the Bismarck at dawn.

Bismarck, 26 May 1941.

The Bismarck could no longer steer after the torpedo hit aft. The steering motor room was flooded up to the main deck and the rudders were jambed. Divers went down to the steering room and managed to centre one rudder but the other remained immovable. She was by this time urgently in need of fuel. It was hoped by the Germans that while she was nearing the French coast strong forces of aircraft and submarines would come to her assistance.

At 2242/26, Bismarck sighted the British destroyers. A heavy fire was opened on them. Their appearence greatly complicated the situation. Before their arrival however, Admiral Lütjens seems to have made up his mind as one hour earlier he had signalled to Berlin 'ship out of control. We shall fight to the last shell. Long live the Führer.'

The fourth Destroyer Flotilla makes contact, 26 May 1941.

Just as the sun was setting, Captain Vian (D.4) in HMS Cossack with HMS Maori, HMS Sikh, HMS Zulu and the Polish destroyer ORP Piorun arrived on the scene.

Shortly after 1900/26 HMS Renown and HMS Ark Royal were sighted to the northward. Ark Royal was just about to fly off the second striking force. The destroyers continued on the the south-east. At 2152/26 HMS Sheffield was sighted and from her Captain Vian obtained the approximate position of the enemy.

The destroyers were spread 2.5 nautical miles apart on a line bearing 250° - 070° in the order from north-east to south-west, Piorun, Maori, Cossack, Sikh, Zulu. During the latter stages of the approach speed was reduced and the flotilla manoeuvred so as to avoid making a high speed end-on contact.

At 2238/26, ORP Piorun on the port wing reported the Bismarck 9 nautical miles distant, bearing 145° and steering to the south-eastward.

Destroyers shadowing, late on 26 May 1941.

At the time the Piorun reported being in contact with the Bismarck the destroyers were steering 120°. All were at once ordered to take up shadowing positions. Four minutes later the Bismarck opened a heavy fire with her main and secondary armaments on the Piorun and Maori. Two attempts were made by these ships to work round to the northward of the enemy but they were silhouetted against the north-western horizon making them easy to spot. The Bismarck's fire was unpleasantly accurate, through neither destroyer was actually hit. The Commanding Officer of the Maori then decided to work round to the southward and altered course accordingly.

The Piorun closed the range and herself opened fire from 13500 yards but after firing three salvoes, she was straddled by a salvo which fell about 20 yards from the ships side. She then ceased fire and turned away to port while making smoke. During this engagement she lost touch with the other destroyers and later also with the Bismarck. She remained under fire for about one hour but was not hit. She worked round to the north-east of the Bismarck but eventually lost touch with her prey at 2355/26.

The other destroyers, meanwhile, had been working round to the southward of the enemy to take up shadowing positions to the eastward of him. Soon after the initial contact it was evident the the Bismarck's speed had been so seriously reduced that interception by the battlefleet was certain, provided that contact could be held. In these circumstances Captain Vian defined his object at firstly, to deliver the enemy to the Commander-in-Chief at the time he desired, and secondly, to sink or immoblise her with torpedoes during the night but not with to great a risk for the destroyers. Accordingly at 2248/26 as signal was made to all ordering them to shadow and this operation was carried out through the night, though torpedo attacks were carried out later under the cover of darkness.

As darkness came on, the weather deteriorated and heavy rain squalls became frequent. Visibility varied between 2.5 nautical miles and half a mile but the Bismarck, presumably using radar, frequently opened up accurate fire outside these ranges.

About half an hour after sunset, the destroyers were ordered at 2324/26 to take up stations prepartory to carrying out a synchronised torpedo attack. This was subsequently cancelled on account of the adverse weather conditions and they were ordered to attack independently as opportunity offered. At about 2300 hours the Bismarck altered course to the north-westward.

At this time HMS Zulu was in touch with her and kept her under observation from the southward. At 2342 hours the Bismarck opened fire on HMS Cossack, then about 4 miles to the south-south-west and shot away her aerials. The Cossack turned away under the cover of smoke, shortly afterwards resuming her course to the eastward.

A few minutes later, at 2350 hours, HMS Zulu came under heavy fire from the Bismarck's 15" guns. The first three salvoes straddled wounding an officer and two ratings. Drastic avoiding action was taken as a result of which Zulu lost touch. HMS Sikh, however, who had lost sight of the enemy half an hour previously, had observed her firing at HMS Cossack and now succeeded in shadowing from astern until 0020/27 when the enemy made a large alteration to port and commenced firing at her. HMS Sikh altered course to port, intending to fire torpedoes, but the view of the Torpedo Control Officer was obscured by shell splashes and Sikh then withdrew to the southward.

Destroyer night torpedo attacks, 26/27 May 1941.

HMS Zulu, after her escape at 2345/26, had steered to the northward and at 0030/27 fell in with HMS Cossack. Shortly afterwards she sighted ORP Piorun. On receipt of a signal from Captain Vian, timed 0040/27, to take any opporunity to fire torpedoes, HMS Zulu altered course to the westward,and at 0100/27 sighted the Bismarck steering 340°.

Positions of the destroyers was now as follows; to the north-eastward of the enemy, HMS Cossack was working round to the north and west. HMS Maori, since losing touch, had been making to the westward. She was now to the south-west of the Bismarck. HMS Sikh was some distance to the southward, not having received any information regarding the position of the Bismarck since 0025/27. HMS Zulu was astern of the enemy and in contact. Range was only 5000 yards. Bismarck finally spotted Zulu and at once opened fire with her main and secondary armament and straddled Zulu. She fired four torpedoes at 0121/27 but no hits were observed and they are believed to have missed ahead. Zulu then ran out to the northward in order to be clear of the other destroyers. Shortly afterwards they widnessed a successful attack by HMS Maori.

HMS Maori had seen the Bismarck opening fire on the Zulu at 0107/27. Maori then closed to 4000 yards on Bismarck's port quarter apparently undetected. When abeam of the enemy, who then appeared to be altering course to starboard Maori fired a star shell to see what he was about. Two minutes later, at 0137/27, two torpedoes were fired and course was altered towards the Bismarck with the intention of attacking again from her starboard bow once the enemy had steadied on her new course. Whilst Maori was turning a torpedo hit was observed on the enemy. A bright glow illuminated the waterline of the enemy battleship from stem to stern. Shortly afterwards there appeared between the bridge and the stem a glare that might have been a second hit. The enemy immediately opened up a very heavy fire with both main and secondairy armaments and quick firing guns. As the Maori was being straddled, she turned away, and increased to full speed. Shots continued to fall on both sides of the ship until the range had been opened up to 10000 yards. Maori was not actually hit. Meanwhile HMS Cossack had been creeping up from the north-eastward and at 0140/27, only three minutes after Maori had fired two torpedoes, Cossack launched three torpedoes from 6000 yards. Bismarck stood out plainly, silhoutted by the broadsides she was firing at the Maori. One torpedo was seen to hit. Flames blazed on the forecastle of the Bismarck after this hit but they were quickly extinguished. Probably as a consequence of the torpedo hits the Bismarck stopped dead in the water, this was reported by HMS Zulu at 0148/27. After about one hour the Bismarck got underway again. On receipt of this report, HMS Sikh, who was closing the scene of the action from the southward, made an attack. Four torpedoes were fired at 0218/27 at the stopped battleship. It is believed that one hit was obtained. After this attack Sikh remained in radar contact with the enemy until 0359/27 when contact was lost.

Around 0240/27 the Bismarck was underway again, proceeding very slowly to the north-westward. At 0335/27, HMS Cossack made another attack firing her last remaining torpedo from a range of 4000 yards. It missed. HMS Cossack then came under a heavy fire. She withdrew to the northward under the cover of smoke, altering to a westerly course shortly afterwards.

At 0400/27 all destroyers had lost touch with the enemy. HMS Cossack was then to the north-west and HMS Sikh, HMS Zulu and HMS Maori were between the south-west and south-east of the Bismarck. All destroyers now endeavoured to regain contact.

Touch with the enemy was not regained until shortly before 0600 hours. By that time ORP Piorun, which was running short of fuel, had been ordered to proceed to Plymouth.

Destroyers shadowing, morning twilight, 27 May 1941, final attack.

Touch was regained by HMS Maori at 0550/27 when she sighted the Bismarck zigzagging slowly on a base course of 340° at about 7 knots. Maori commenced shadowing until daylight. At 0625 hours, HMS Sikh was also in contact when the Bismarck emerged from a rain squal 7000 yards on her starboard bow. By then it was nearly full daylight but to the surprise of the crew of the Sikh she got away with it without being fired at.

Shortly before sunrise a final torpedo attack was carried out by HMS Maori, which fired two torpedoes at 0656/27 from 9000 yards. Both missed. The Bismarck opened fire and straddled Maori which escaped at 28 knots.

At daylight the destroyers were stationed in four sectors from which they were able to keep the enemy under continuous observation until the arrival of the Battle Fleet at 0845 hours.

Force H, 26/27 May 1941.

While the destroyers were shadowing the Bismarck, the pursuing forces were drawing steadily closer. To the north was the Commander-in-Chief with the King George V and the Rodney with the Norfolk closing on them. In the south HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. B.C.S. Martin, RN) was coming up, while Force H was waiting for the dawn. When Captain Vian's destroyers got in touch at 2251/26 the Renown and Ark Royal were north-west of the enemy. It was not possible to attack with aircraft during the night but all preparations were made to attack at dawn with 12 Swordfish. Course was shaped to the northward and then to the west for a time and at 0115/27 Force H turned south. Shortly afterwards instructions were received from the Commander-in-Chief to keep not less then 20 miles to the southward of the Bismarck so as to leave a clear approach for the Battle Fleet. Force H accordingly continued to the southward during the night. Bursts of starshell and gunfire could be seen during the night while the destroyers attacked. At 0509/27 an aircraft was flown off from HMS Ark Royal to act as a spotter for HMS King George V but it failed to find the Bismarck in the bad weather. The striking of force of 12 Swordfish was ready but due to the bad weather to strike was cancelled.

At 0810/27, HMS Maori was sighted. She reported the Bismarck 11 miles to the north of her. The made the enemy 17 miles to the north of HMS Renown so course was shaped to the south-west. At 0915/27 heavy gunfire could be heard and the striking force was flown off. They found the Bismarck at 1016/27. By then the battle was almost over, her guns were silenced and she was on fire. They saw her sink. At 1115/27 they had all landed back on HMS Ark Royal. A German Heinkel aircraft dropped a couple of bombs near HMS Ark Royal when they were landing on.

HMS Norfolk, 26/27 May 1941.

When the Catalina report (1030/26) came in, HMS Norfolk altered course to the south-west and increased speed to 27 knots. At 2130/26 the Bismarck was still some 160 nautical miles to the southward and speed was increased to 30 knots. At 2228/26 the report on the torpedo hit by the aircraft from Ark Royal came in and the Norfolk turned to the southward, continuing to close the enemy. At 0753/27 Norfolk sighted the Bismarck. She did not open fire and was lost to sight after ten minutes. At 0821/27, HMS King George V, was sighted to the westward, 12 nautical miles away. The position of the enemy was passed to the Commander-in-Chief. The action opened at 0847/27 at which time HMS Norfolk was then some 10 nautical miles from the Commander-in-Chief and due north of the Bismarck. HMS Norfolk had seen the beginning and was now to see the end.

HMS Dorsetshire, 26/27 May 1941.

On 26 May 1941, HMS Dorsetshire, was with convoy SL 74 proceeding from Freetown to the U.K. When she received the sighting report from the Catalina at 1056/26 she was some 360 nautical miles to the south of the Bismarck. She then left the protection of the convoy to the Armed Merchant Cruiser HMS Bulolo (Capt.(Retd.) R.L. Hamer, RN) and set course for the northward to take up the possible task of shadowing. By 2343/26 it became clear from reports that the Bismarck was making no ground to the eastward and that at 0230/27 she appeared to be laying stopped. Due to the heavy seas HMS Dorsetshire was forced to reduce speed to 25 knots and later even to 20 knots. At 0833/27 a destroyer was sighted ahead at a range of 8 nautical miles, it was HMS Cossack which reported the enemy at a range of 6 nautical miles. At 0850/27 the flashes of the Bismarck's guns could be seen to the westward. HMS Dorsetshire arrived at the scene of the action in the nick of time.

HMS King George V and HMS Rodney, 26/27 May 1941.

During 26 May 1941 the Commander-in-Chief in HMS King George V had been making hard to the south-east at 25 knots. He had been joined by HMS Rodney at 1806/26. They were then some 90 nautical miles north of the Bismarck. Fuel was a matter of grave anxiety. At noon on the 26th, HMS King George V, had only 32% remaining and HMS Rodney reported that she had to return at 0800/27. Speed had to be reduced on this account to 22 knots at 1705/26. In these circumstances it was no longer possible to hope to intercept the enemy, and the Commander-in-Chief decided that unless the enemy's speed had been reduced by 2400/26, he must turn at that hour. The only hope lay in the Bismarck being slowed up by the Swordfish attacking from HMS Ark Royal. A report came in that the striking force had left. Then at 2132/26, HMS Sheffield, reported that the enemy was steering 340° followed by 000° four minutes later. These reports indicated that the Bismarck was not able to hold her course and that her steering gear must have been damaged. It might still be possible to intercept her.

The Commander-in-Chief turned to the south at once hoping to make contact from the eastward in the failing light. Due to the bad weather conditions and visibility the Commander-in-Chief decided to haul off the the eastward and northward and then work round to engage from the westward at dawn. He turned eastward at 2306/26. During the night reports from Captain Vian's destroyers came in confirming the northerly course of the Bismarck. At 0236/27 the Commander-in-Chief ordered Captain Vian that the destroyers were to fire star-shell every half hour, but frequent rain squalls prevented these from being seen and they tended to attrack the enemy's fire. The Bismarck was still a formidable opponent for at 0353/27 Captain Vian reported that during the last hour she had done 8 nautical miles and that she was still capable of heavy and accurate fire. The Commander-in-Chief decided not to make a dawn approach but to wait until daylight while approaching from the west taking advantage of wind, sea and light. At 0529/27 HMS Rodney reported sighting HMS Norfolk to the eastward by DF. It was light at 0600 hours. At 0820 hours HMS Norfolk was sighted on the port bow of HMS King George V. She signalled 'enemy 130°, 16 nautical miles'. At 0843/27 looming on the starboard bow there emerges out of a rain squall the dark grey blot of a large ship. 'Enemy in sight'.

Bismarck 26/27 May 1941.

The Bismarck after altering course to the north-west had been labouring along with a jambed rudder, steering an erratic course at 8 knots. During the night the attacking destroyers were met with heavy and accurate salvoes. Sixteen torpedoes were fired at her. Early in the morning a glare of star-shell burst over her, lighting her up. Three torpedoes followed from a destroyer on the port bow (HMS Maori) of which one hit on the port side amidships. Three minutes later three more came from the starboard side (these were fired by HMS Cossack) of which one hit on the starboard bow. The damage that was sustained from these torpedo hits is not known. The Bismarck lay stopped for over one hour. At 0140/27 a message was received that a large number of Junkers bombers were coming to her aid as were U-boats but the Bismarck was beyond their help besides that the aircraft did not find her. One U-boat (U-556, which was out of torpedoes) on its way back from the Atlantic joined her and was within sight during the night. Another (U-74) arrived at 0600/27 but had been damaged in a depth charge attack and could do nothing as well. In the Bismarck the crew was exhausted and men were falling asleep at their posts. It was under these conditions that at 0840/27 two British battleships were seen to approach from the westward.

Situation before the action, 27 May 1941.

A north-westerly gale was blowing when dawn broke with a good light and clear horizon to the north-eastward. Reports received during the night indicated that, despite reduced speed and damaged rudders, Bismarck's armament was functioning effectively. Given the weather conditions the Commander-in-Chief decided to approach on a west-north-westerly bearing and, if the enemy continued his northerly course, to deploy to the southward on opposite course at a range of about 15000 yards. Further action was to be dictated by events.

Between 0600 and 0700 hours a series of enemy reports from HMS Maori which was herself located by DF bearings. This enabled HMS King George V to plot her position relatively to the Bismarck which had apparently settled down on a course of 330° at 10 knots. At 0708/27, HMS Rodney, was ordered to keep station 010° from the flagship. HMS Norfolk came in sight to the eastward at 0820/27 and provided a visual link between the Commander-in-Chief and the enemy. After the line of approach had been adjusted by two alterations of course, the Bismarck was sighted at 0843/27 bearing 118°, range about 25000 yards. Both British battleships was then steering 110° almost directly towards the enemy in line abreast formation, 8 cables apart.

Commencement of action 0847/27.

HMS Rodney opened fire at 0847/27, her first salvo sending a column of water 150 feet into the air. HMS King George V opened fire one minute later. Bismarck opened fire at 0850 hours after turning to open up A arcs. The first German salvo was short. The third and fourth salvoes straddled and nearly hit, but the Rodney manoeuvered succesfully to avoid them and the nearest fell 20 yards short. At 0854/27, HMS Norfolk joined in, but the target was not clearly visible and she opened fire without obtaining a range.

Observers state that the German gunnery was accurate at first, but commenced to deteriorate after 8 to 10 salvoes. The first hit on the Bismarck was believed to be scored by the Rodney at 0854 hours with her third salvo. Both British battleships made small alterations of course away from the enemy shortly after opening fire, the King George V to increase her distance from the Rodney and the latter to open her A arcs. From then onwards they manoeuvered independently although HMS Rodney conformed to the Flagship's general movements. The Bismarck's secondary armament came into action during this phase. HMS Rodney opened fire with her secondary armament at 0858 hours.

Run to the southward.

HMS King George V deployed to the southward at 0859/27 when the Bismarck was 16000 yards distant. HMS Rodney, 2.5 nautical miles to the northward, followed suit a minute or two later. Cordite smoke was hanging badly with the following wind and spotting was most difficult. Considerable smoke interference was therefore experienced on the southerly course which was partly overcome by radar. The Bismarck had transferred her fire to the King George V shortly after the turn but except for an occasional splash the latter hardly knew that she was under fire. At 0902/27, HMS Rodney saw a 16” shell hit the Bismarck on the upper deck forward, apparently putting the forward turrets out of action. At 0904 hours, HMS Dorsetshire joined in the firing from the eastwards from a range of 20000 yards but observation of the target was difficult and she had to check fire from 0913 to 0920 hours. Between 0910 and 0915 hours the range in King George V was more or less steady at 12000 yards.

The fate of the Bismarck was decided during this phase of the action although she did not sink until later. Around 0912 hours, the Bismarck was hit on her forward control position. During the run to the south HMS Rodney fired six torpedoes from 11000 yards and HMS Norfolk four from 16000 yards. No hits were obtained. The King George V’s secondary battery came into action at 0905 hours but this increased the smoke interference and was accordingly ordered to cease fire after two or three minutes.

Run to the northward.

At 0916/27 the Bismarck’s bearing was drawing rapidly aft and HMS Rodney turned 16 points to close and head her off. The King George V followed a minute or so later and both ships re-opened fire at ranges from 8600 and 12000 yards respectively. The Bismarck shifted her target to the Rodney about this time. A near miss damaged the sluice of her starboard torpedo tube. Most of the enemy’s guns had however been silenced at this time. Only one turret from her main armament was firing at this time as was part of her secondary armament. A fire was blazing amidships and she had a heavy list to port. During the run to the north HMS Rodney obtained a very favourable position on the Bismarck’s bow from which she poured in a heavy fire from close range. She also fired two torpedoes from 7500 yards but no hits were obtained.

HMS King George V’s position, further to leeward, was less favourable. Her view was obscured by smoke and splashes surrounding the target and her radar had temporarily broken down. Mechanical failures in the 14” turrets constituted, however, a more serious handicap at this stage. ‘A’, ‘X’ and ‘Y’ turrets were out of action for 30, 7 and a unspecified short period, respectively. This resulted in reduction of firepower of 80% for 7 minutes and 40% for 23 minutes which might have had serious effects under less favourable conditions. There were also several defects of individual guns in addition to those effecting the turrets.

At 0925/27, HMS King George V, altered outwards to 150° and reduced speed to avoid getting too far ahead of the Bismarck. She closed in again at 1005 hours, fired several salvoes from a range of only 3000 yards and then resumed her northerly course. Meanwhile HMS Rodney was zigzagging across the Bismarck’s line of advance at a range of about 4000 yards firing her main and secondary armaments. She also fired four torpedoes, one of which is thought to have hit. By 1015 hours the Bismarck was no more than a wreck. All her guns were silenced, her mast had been blown away, she was a black ruin, pouring high into the air a great cloud of smoke and flame. Men were seen jumping overboard at this time and the Captain of the King George V later remarked had he known it he would have ceased fire.

End of the action.

The Commander-in-Chief was confident that the enemy could never get back to harbour, and as both battleships were running short of fuel and as further gunfire was unlikely to hasten the Bismarck’s end, the Commander-in-Chief signalled the King George V and Rodney to steer 027° at 1015/27 in order to break off the action and return to base. At 1036/27 the Commander-in-Chief ordered HMS Dorsetshire to use her torpedoes, if she had any, on the enemy. In the meantime HMS Norfolk had been closing the target but due to the movements of the King George V and Rodney, had not fired her torpedoes until 1010 hours when she fired four torpedoes from 4000 yards and two possible hits were reported. The Dorsetshire was then approaching a mile or so to the southward, and anticipating the Commander-in-Chief’s signal at 1025 hours fired two torpedoes from 3600 yards into the enemy’s starboard side. She then steamed round the Bismarck’s bow and at 1036 hours fired another torpedo but now into her port side from 2600 yards. This was the final blow, the Bismarck heeled over quickly to port and commenced to sink by the stern. The hull turned over keel up and disappeared beneath the waves at 1040/27.

The Dorsetshire then closed and signalled to one of HMS Ark Royal’s aircraft to carry out a close A/S patrol while she was to pick up survivors assisted by HMS Maori. After 110 men had been picked up by both ships from the water both ships got underway again as a submarine was suspected to be in the area.

Damage to the Bismarck.

Survivors have told the story of terrible damage inflicted on her. The fore turrets seem to have been knocked out at 0902 hours. The fore control position was knocked out around 0912 hours. The after control position followed about 0915 hours. The after turrets were at that moment still in action. Then the aftermost gun turret was disabled by a direct hit on the left gun which burst sending a flash right through the turret. ‘C’ turret was the last one in action.

One survivor stated that around 0930 hours a shell penetrated the turbine room and another one entered a boiler room. A hit in the after dressing station killed all the medical staff and wounded that were in there at that moment. The upper deck was crowded with killed and wounded men and the seas surging in washed them overboard. Conditions below were even more terrible. Hatches and doors were jammed by concussion and blocked with wreckage. The air was thick with smoke and even more smoke was coming in from great holes in the upper deck. By 1000 hours all heavy guns were out of action and 10 minutes later the all secondary guns were also silent.

Commander-in-Chief returns.

As HMS King George V and HMS Rodney turned northwards they were joined by HMS Cossack, HMS Sikh and HMS Zulu at by 1600/28 more detroyers had joined the screen (HMS Maori, HMS Jupiter, HMS Somali, HMS Eskimo, HMS Punjabi, HMAS Nestor, HMS Inglefield, HMS Lance, HMS Vanquisher (Cdr. N.V. Dickinson, DSC, RN), HMCS St. Clair (Lt.Cdr. D.C. Wallace, RCNR), HMCS Columbia (Lt.Cdr. (Retd.) S.W. Davis, RN) and HMS Ripley (Lt.Cdr. J.A. Agnew, RN). Heavy air attacks were expected that day, but only four enemy aircraft appeared, one of which bombed the screen while another one jettisoned her bombs on being attacked by a Blenheim fighter. The destroyers HMS Mashona and HMS Tartar, 100 nautical miles to the southward, were not so furtunate. They were attacked in position 52°58’N, 11°36’W at 0955/28 by German aircraft. HMS Mashona was hit and sank at noon with the loss of 1 officer and 45 men. The Commander-in-Chief reached Loch Ewe at 1230/29. Vice-Admiral Somerville with Force H was on his way back to Gibraltar. HMS Renown, HMS Ark Royal, HMS Sheffield made rendezvous at 0800/29 with the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN) and HMS Wishart (Cdr. E.T. Cooper, RN). At 1605/29, HMS Forester and HMS Fury were detached to hunt a submarine further to the west. Force H, minus the two destroyers that had been detached, arrived at Gibraltar around 2030/29.

End of ‘Operation Rheinübung’.

The Bismarck’s consort, heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, was not heard off until 4 June 1941 when aircraft reported her having arrived at Brest. After leaving the Bismarck at 1914/24, the Prinz Eugen’s primary need was to replenish her fuel stock. She set course for a rendez-vous with two tankers, the Spichern (9323 GRT, built 1935, former Norwegian Krossfonn) and the Esso Hamburg (9849 GRT, built 1939) which were position to the north-west of the Azores. All next day the German cruiser made her way southwards, and at 0906/26 , some 600 nautical miles west-north-west of the Azores she sighted the Spichern and refuelled. Two reconnaissance ships had also been ordered into this area, the Gonzenheim and the Kota Pinang. On the 28th Prinz Eugen fuelled from the Esso Hamburg. She then proceeded southwards to carry out cruiser warfare against independently routed ships in the area to the north and west of the Cape Verde Islands but an inspection of her engines the next day showed that an extensive overhaul was needed. Her Commanding Officer then decided to break off the action and course was set for Brest, France where she arrived at 2030/1 June.

A German reconnaissance ship, a supply vessel and two tankers were intercepted by Royal Navy warships and sunk by their own crew or sunk with gunfire. Also two tankers were captured. These were in chronological order; tanker Belchen (6367 GRT, built 1932, former Norwegian Sysla) by gunfire from HMS Kenya and HMS Aurora on 3 June 1941 in the Greenland area in approximate position 59°00'N, 47°00'W.
On 4 June the tanker Esso Hamburg by HMS London and HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN) in position 07°35'N, 31°25'W,
tanker Gedania (8966 GRT, built 1920) was captured in the North Atlantic in position 43°38'N, 28°15'W by naval auxiliary (Ocean Boarding Vessel) HMS Marsdale (Lt.Cdr. D.H.F. Armstrong, RNR), she was put into service with the MOWT as Empire Garden, reconnaissance vessel Gonzenheim (4000 GRT, built 1937, former Norwegian Kongsfjord) was scuttled by her own crew after being sighted by HMS Esperance Bay ((Capt.(ret) G.S. Holden, RN) and intercepted by HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN) and finally ordered to be boarded by HMS Neptune in position 43°29'N, 24°04'W. The next day (5 June) supply vessel Egerland (10040 GRT, built 1940) was intercepted by HMS London and HMS Brilliant in approximate position 07°00'N, 31°00'W. On 12 June, HMS Sheffield, intercepted tanker Friedrich Breme (10397 GRT, built 1936) in position 49°48'N, 22°20'W and finally on 15 June, HMS Dunedin (Capt. R.S. Lovatt, RN), captured the tanker Lothringen (10746 GRT, built 1940, former Dutch Papendrecht) in position 19°49'N, 38°30'W which had first been sighted by an aircraft from HMS Eagle (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN). The Lothringen was sent to Bermuda and was put into service by the MOWT as Empire Salvage. (34)

19 May 1941

Convoy SC 32.

This convoy departed Halifax on 19 May 1941.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Antiope (British, 4545 GRT, built 1930), Baron Kinnaird (British, 3355 GRT, built 1927), Brynhild (British, 2195 GRT, built 1907), Chagres (British, 5545 GRT, built 1919), Dalesmoor (British, 5835 GRT, built 1922), Empire Meteor (British, 7457 GRT, built 1940), Erica (Norwegian, 1592 GRT, built 1919), Flynderborg (British, 2022 GRT, built 1930), Glaisdale (British, 3777 GRT, built 1929), Inger Elizabeth (Norwegian, 2166 GRT, built 1920), Ingerfire (Norwegian, 3835 GRT, built 1905), Juno (Dutch, 1763 GRT, built 1908), Katwijk (Dutch, 1589 GRT, built 1921), Lars Kruse (British, 1807 GRT, built 1923), Maplewood (British, 4566 GRT, built 1930), Marita (Norwegian, 1931 GRT, built 1919), Michael L. Embiricos (Greek, 5202 GRT, built 1918), North Devon (British, 3658 GRT, built 1924), Nurtureton (British, 6272 GRT, built 1929), Picotee (British, 4307 GRT, built 1913), Rajahstan (British, 6391 GRT, built 1929), Rosenborg (British, 1997 GRT, built 1914), Saltwick (British, 3775 GRT, built 1929), Stalowa Wola (British, 3133 GRT, built 1924), Stonepool (British, 4815 GRT, built 1928), Thorsholm (Norwegian (tanker), 9937 GRT, built 1937), Welsh Prince (British, 5148 GRT, built 1940), West Saginaw (British, 6187 GRT, built 1919), Western Ocean (British, 5760 GRT, built 1918) and Zypenberg (British, 4973 GRT, built 1920).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Laconia (Capt.(Retd.) G.G.P. Hewett, RN), the submarine HMS Talisman (Lt. M. Willmott, RN), and the corvettes HMCS Cobalt (T/A/Lt.Cdr. R.B. Campbell, RCNR) and HMCS Collingwood (T/Lt. W. Woods, RCNR).

HMCS Cobalt and HMCS Collingwood parted company with the convoy on the 20th and returned to Halifax.

Around 1900O/29, Convoy SC 32 temporary joined Convoy HX 128. Convoy SC 32 took station astern of convoy HX 128. With convoy HX 128 was the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) which also was to provide protection to Convoy SC 32.

Around 2000N/30, HMS Talisman parted company with the convoy to return to Halifax.

Around 2200Z/31, HMS Revenge and HMS Laconia parted company with the convoys to return to Halifax or to proceed to Reykjavik respectively.

A/S escorts commenced to join the convoy as from 29 May but sources vary on their composition, [this will have to be researched further in the future.]

The convoy arrived in U.K. waters on 7 June 1941.

20 May 1941

Convoy HX 128.

This convoy departed Halifax on 20 May 1941.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Alaska (Norwegian, 5681 GRT, built 1918), Alhama (British, 1352 GRT, built 1938), Aymeric (British, 5196 GRT, built 1919), Baron Haig (British, 3391 GRT, built 1926), Barrwhin (British, 4998 GRT, built 1929), British Colony (British (tanker), 6917 GRT, built 1927), Cape Clear (British, 5085 GRT, built 1939), Dorcasia (British (tanker), 8053 GRT, built 1938), Empire Kittyhawk (British, 5675 GRT, built 1918), Empire Mahseer (British, 5087 GRT, built 1920), Empire Storm (British, 7290 GRT, built 1941), Empire Sunbeam (British, 6711 GRT, built 1941), Gloucester City (British, 3071 GRT, built 1919), Harperley (British, 4586 GRT, built 1930), Hjelmaren (Swedish, 2467 GRT, built 1922), Inger Lise (Norwegian, 1582 GRT, built 1939), La Paz (British, 6548 GRT, built 1920), Lancaster Castle (British, 5172 GRT, built 1937), Leiv Eiriksson (Norwegian (tanker), 9952 GRT, built 1936), Llanover (British, 4959 GRT, built 1928), Montreal City (British, 3066 GRT, built 1920), Oltenia (British (tanker), 6394 GRT, built 1928), Pilar de Larringaga (British, 7046 GRT, built 1918), Silvercedar (British, 4354 GRT, built 1924), Skaraas (Norwegian (tanker), 9826 GRT, built 1936), Swiftpool (British, 5205 GRT, built 1929), Thorshavet (Norwegian (tanker), 11015 GRT, built 1938), Thorshavn (Norwegian (tanker), 6869 GRT, built 1930), Tilapa (British, 5392 GRT, built 1928), Torborg (British (tanker), 6042 GRT, built 1921) and Treminnard (British, 4964 GRT, built 1922).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, RAN) and the corvettes HMCS Alberni (Lt. G.O. Baugh, RCNR) and HMCS Rimouski (T/Lt. J.W. Bonner, RCNR). The corvettes soon returned to Halifax though.

Three recently transferred US Coast Guard Cutters were also with the convoy, though these had not been re-armed and worked up. These were the HMS Sennen (Lt.Cdr. D.C. Kinloch, RN), HMS Totland (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) S.G.C. Rawson, RN) and HMS Walney (?).

On 24 May 1941, after the news was received that German warships were trying to break out into the Atlantic, the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) departed Halifax to join the convoy. She overtook and joined the convoy around 1345O/28.

In the morning of May 27th, Convoy BHX 128, merged with convoy HX 128. This was a few days later then had been intended. Convoy BHX 128 was made up of the following merchant vessels; Amsterdam (Dutch (tanker), 7329 GRT, built 1922), British Chivalry (British (tanker), 7118 GRT, built 1929), British Diligence (British (tanker), 8408 GRT, built 1937), British Fusilier (British, 6943 GRT, built 1923), Cardita (British (tanker), 8237 GRT, built 1931), Charles Racine (Norwegian (tanker), 9957 GRT, built 1937), Clavella (British (tanker), 8097 GRT, built 1939), Designer (British, 5495 GRT, built 1928), Drammensfjord (Norwegian, 5339 GRT, built 1920), Eulima (British (tanker), 6207 GRT, built 1937), San Cirilo (British (tanker), 8012 GRT, built 1937) and Thistlegorm (British, 4898 GRT, built 1940). They had departed Bermuda on 18 May escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Montclare (Capt.(Retd.) H.M. Spreckley, RN) which parted company after the convoys had merged.

Around 1900O/29, Convoy HX 128 was temporary joined by Convoy SC 32 and her escort, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Laconia (Capt.(Retd.) G.G.P. Hewett, RN). Convoy SC 32 took station astern of convoy HX 128.

Around 2200Z/31, HMS Revenge and HMS Laconia parted company with the convoys to return to Halifax or to proceed to Reykjavik respectively.

HMS California eventually went with the convoy to the U.K. although it had originally been intended for her to detach and proceed to Reykjavik.

A/S escorts commenced to join the convoy as from 30 or 31 May but sources vary on their composition. [this will have to be researched further in the future.]

The convoy arrived in U.K. waters on 6 June 1941.

24 May 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) departed Halifax to overtake and provide cover for convoys HX 128 and SC 32 which had departed Halifax on 20 and 19 May respectively.

[For more info on these convoys see the events ' Convoy SC 32 ' for 19 May 1941 and ' Convoy HX 128 ' for 20 May 1941.] (33)

6 Jun 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) arrived at Halifax from convoy escort duty. (35)

10 Jun 1941

Convoy HX 132.

This convoy departed Halifax on 10 June 1941.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Ashby (British, 4868 GRT, built 1927), Avra (Greek, 4652 GRT, built 1912), Bayano (British, 6815 GRT, built 1917), Belita (British (tanker), 6323 GRT, built 1933), British Industry (British (tanker), 4297 GRT, built 1927), Circe Shell (British (tanker), 8207 GRT, built 1931), Dalfram (British, 4558 GRT, built 1930), Daphnella (British (tanker), 8078 GRT, built 1938), Duke of Sparta (British, 5397 GRT, built 1940), Empire Falcon (British, 4970 GRT, built 1918), James Hawson (British (tanker), 6074 GRT, built 1930), Lekhaven (British (tanker), 4802 GRT, built 1921), Marchant Prince (British, 5229 GRT, built 1939), Ornefjell (Norwegian (tanker), 1334 GRT, built 1937), Sama (Norwegian, 1799 GRT, built 1937), San Ernesto (British (tanker), 8078 GRT, built 1939), Schuylkill (British (tanker), 8965 GRT, built 1928), Strategist (British, 6255 GRT, built 1937), Tore Jarl (Norwegian, 1514 GRT, built 1920) and Trekieve (British, 5244 GRT, built 1919).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the destroyer HMCS Annapolis (A/Lt.Cdr. F.C. Smith, RCNR).

The battleships HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) also departed Halifax late on the 10th and joined the convoy at sea early on the 11th after which HMCS Annapolis parted company to return to Halifax.

On the morning of 13 June 1941, Convoy BHX 132 joined, which had departed Bermuda on 8 June 1941 and was made up of the following merchant vessels; Belinda (British (tanker), 8325 GRT, built 1939), Cape Hawke (British, 5081 GRT, built 1941), Cistula (British (tanker), 8097 GRT, built 1939), Corilla (Dutch (tanker), 8096 GRT, built 1939), Cortona (British (tanker), 7093 GRT, built 1921), Eclipse (British (tanker), 9767 GRT, built 1931), Eknaren (Swedish, 5243 GRT, built 1922), El Mirlo (British (tanker), 8092 GRT, built 1930), Elona (British (tanker), 6192 GRT, built 1936), Hopemount (British (tanker), 7434 GRT, built 1929), Merchant (British, 4615 GRT, built 1934), Oilreliance (British (tanker), 5666 GRT, built 1929), Otina (British (tanker), 6217 GRT, built 1938) and Vimeira (British, 5728 GRT, built 1927).

They had been escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Maloja (A/Capt. V. Hammersley-Heenan, RN) which then parted company.

Around 0800O/16, the convoy was joined by the destroyers HMCS Saguenay (Lt. P.E. Haddon, RCN), HMCS Columbia (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) S.W. Davis, RN), Niagara (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) E.L. Armstrong, RCN), HMS Ramsey (Lt.Cdr. R.B. Stannard, VC, RNR), HMS Richmond (Lt.Cdr. A.F.L. Evans, RN) and the corvettes HMS Candytuft (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) F.B. Collinson, RD, RNR) and HMCS Cobalt ( T/Lt. C.J. Angus, RCNR).

Around 1530O/16, the destroyer HMCS Restigouche (Cdr. H.N. Lay, RCN) also joined. she had first directed convoy SC 34 towards convoy HX 132.

Around 2100O/16, Convoy SC 34 and it's escort, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Ranpura (A/Capt.(Retd.) H.T.W. Pawsey, OBE, RN), took station astern of convoy HX 132.

Around 1200O/18, HMCS Restigouche and HMCS Columbia parted company with the convoy.

Around 2000O/18, HMS Revenge parted company with the convoy to join westbound convoy OB 334.

HMS Ranpura, HMCS Saguenay, HMS Ramsay, HMS Richmond, HMS Candytuft and HMCS Cobalt parted company with the combined convoy around 1020Z/23 to proceed to Reykjavik.

Other A/S vessels had joined by that time but sources vary on their composition and the time they were with the convoy.

The relief A/S escorts most likely involved in escorting HX 132 and / or SC 34 were; destroyers HMS Broke (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, RN), HMS Venomous (Cdr. H.P. Henderson, RN), HMS Sabre (Lt. P.W. Gretton, DSC, RN), HMS Saladin (Lt.Cdr. L.J. Dover, RN), HMS Shikari (Lt.Cdr. H.N.A. Richardson, RN), HMS Lincoln (Lt. R.J. Hanson, RN), corvettes HMS Abelia (T/Lt. F. Ardern, RNR), HMS Alisma (A/Lt.Cdr. M.G. Rose, RANVR), HMS Anemone (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Boys-Smith, DSO, RNR), HMS Sunflower (Lt.Cdr. J.T. Jones, RNR), HMS Veronica (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) D.F. White, RNR), mineweeepers HMS Gossamer (Lt.Cdr. A.D.H. Jay, RN), HMS Hazard (Lt.Cdr. J.R.A. Seymour, RN), HMS Hebe (Lt.Cdr. J.B.G. Temple, DSC, RN), HMS Hussar ( Lt.Cdr. D.H.P. Gardiner, RN), A/S trawlers HMS St. Elstan (T/Lt. G. Butcher, RNVR), HMS St. Kenan (T/Lt. R.R. Simpson, RNR) and HMS St. Zeno (T/Lt. J.K. Craig, RNVR). The catapult ship Pegasus apparently also joined the convoys.

[This will have to be further researched in the future.]

The convoys at a certain point apparently separated again. Convoy HX 132 arrived in U.K. waters on 28 June 1941. Convoy SC 34 arrived in U.K. waters on 29 June 1941.

10 Jun 1941

Convoy SC 34.

This convoy departed Halifax on 10 June 1941.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Aaro (Danish, 1426 GRT, built 1925), Baron Ruthven (British, 3178 GRT, built 1925), Baron Vernon (British, 3642 GRT, built 1929), Berkel (Dutch, 2130 GRT, built 1930), Bjorkhaug (Norwegian, 2094 GRT, built 1919), Bonde (Norwegian, 1570 GRT, built 1936), Borgfred (Norwegian, 2183 GRT, built 1920), Clunepark (British, 3491 GRT, built 1928), Cordelia (British (tanker), 8190 GRT, built 1932), Dinaric (British, 2555 GRT, built 1919), Eastmoor (British, 5812 GRT, built 1922), Einvik (Norwegian, 2000 GRT, built 1918), Empire Buffalo (British, 6404 GRT, built 1919), Fido (Norwegian, 1857 GRT, built 1919), Filleigh (British, 4856 GRT, built 1928), Geddington Court (British, 6903 GRT, built 1928), Gunvor Maersk (British, 1977 GRT, built 1931), Hartbridge (British, 5080 GRT, built 1927), Hindsholm (British, 1512 GRT, built 1922), Iron Baron (British, 3231 GRT, built 1911), Keila (British, 3621 GRT, built 1905), Lagarto (British, 5072 GRT, built 1917), Leighton (British, 7412 GRT, built 1921), Margit (British, 1735 GRT, built 1924), Mariston (British, 4557 GRT, built 1924), Michalios (Greek, 3742 GRT, built 1908), Milcrest (British, 5283 GRT, built 1919), Nicolaos Piangos (Greek, 4499 GRT, built 1912), Nicolas (Greek, 4540 GRT, built 1910), Pennington Court (British, 6098 GRT, built 1924), Redpool (British, 4848 GRT, built 1924), Scorton (British, 4813 GRT, built 1939), Snar (Norwegian, 3176 GRT, built 1920), Solhavn (Norwegian, 1630 GRT, built 1918) and Vestland (Norwegian, 1934 GRT, built 1916).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Ranpura (A/Capt.(Retd.) H.T.W. Pawsey, OBE, RN) and auxiliary patrol boats HMCS Raccoon (T/Lt. N.G. Bennett, RCNR) and HMCS Reindeer (Lt. L.G. Cumming, RCNVR). Both patrol vessels returned to Halifax on the 11th.

In the morning of the 15th the destroyer HMCS Restigouche (Cdr. H.N. Lay, RCN) joined to guide the convoy towards convoy HX 132.

Around 2100O/16, Convoy SC 34 took station astern of convoy HX 132.

The combined convoy was then escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Ranpura, destroyers HMCS Restigouche, HMCS Saguenay (Lt. P.E. Haddon, RCN), HMCS Columbia (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) S.W. Davis, RN), Niagara (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) E.L. Armstrong, RCN), HMS Ramsey (Lt.Cdr. R.B. Stannard, VC, RNR), HMS Richmond (Lt.Cdr. A.F.L. Evans, RN) and the corvettes HMS Candytuft (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) F.B. Collinson, RD, RNR) and HMCS Cobalt ( T/Lt. C.J. Angus, RCNR).

HMS Ranpura, HMCS Saguenay, HMS Ramsay, HMS Richmond, HMS Candytuft and HMCS Cobalt parted company with the combined convoy around 1020Z/23 to proceed to Reykjavik.

Other A/S vessels had joined by that time but sources vary on their composition and the time they were with the convoy.

The relief A/S escorts most likely involved in escorting HX 132 and / or SC 34 were; destroyers HMS Broke (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, RN), HMS Venomous (Cdr. H.P. Henderson, RN), HMS Sabre (Lt. P.W. Gretton, DSC, RN), HMS Saladin (Lt.Cdr. L.J. Dover, RN), HMS Shikari (Lt.Cdr. H.N.A. Richardson, RN), HMS Lincoln (Lt. R.J. Hanson, RN), corvettes HMS Abelia (T/Lt. F. Ardern, RNR), HMS Alisma (A/Lt.Cdr. M.G. Rose, RANVR), HMS Anemone (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Boys-Smith, DSO, RNR), HMS Sunflower (Lt.Cdr. J.T. Jones, RNR), HMS Veronica (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) D.F. White, RNR), mineweeepers HMS Gossamer (Lt.Cdr. A.D.H. Jay, RN), HMS Hazard (Lt.Cdr. J.R.A. Seymour, RN), HMS Hebe (Lt.Cdr. J.B.G. Temple, DSC, RN), HMS Hussar ( Lt.Cdr. D.H.P. Gardiner, RN), A/S trawlers HMS St. Elstan (T/Lt. G. Butcher, RNVR), HMS St. Kenan (T/Lt. R.R. Simpson, RNR) and HMS St. Zeno (T/Lt. J.K. Craig, RNVR). The catapult ship HMS Pegasus (Capt.(Retd.) P.G. Wodehouse, DSO, RN) apparently also joined the convoys.

[This will have to be further researched in the future.]

The convoys at a certain point apparently separated again. Convoy HX 132 arrived in U.K. waters on 28 June 1941. Convoy SC 34 arrived in U.K. waters on 29 June 1941.

11 Jun 1941

Convoy OB 334.

This convoy departed the U.K. on 11 June 1941.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Alexia (British (tanker), 8016 GRT, built 1935), Armadale (British, 5066 GRT, built 1929), Athelprincess (British (tanker), 8882 GRT, built 1929), Barberrys (British, 5170 GRT, built 1920), Baron Carnegie (British, 3178 GRT, built 1925), Barrington Court (British, 4910 GRT, built 1924), Benledi (British, 5943 GRT, built 1930), Bic Island (British, 4000 GRT, built 1917), British Colony (British (tanker), 6917 GRT, built 1927), British Commodore (British (tanker), 6865 GRT, built 1923), British Destiny (British (tanker), 8470 GRT, built 1937), British Faith (British, 6955 GRT, built 1928), Bulysses (British, 7519 GRT, built 1927), Bur (Norwegian, 4343 GRT, built 1917), Cairnesk (British, 5007 GRT, built 1926), Carelia (British (tanker), 8062 GRT, built 1938), Chr. Th. Boe (Norwegian (tanker), 6192 GRT, built 1930), Clan Macilwraith (British, 4839 GRT, built 1924), Clan Macwhirter (British, 5941 GRT, built 1918), Comanchee (British (tanker), 6837 GRT, built 1936), El Aleto (British (tanker), 7203 GRT, built 1927), Empire Crossbill (British, 5463 GRT, built 1919), Empire Waterhen (British, 6004 GRT, built 1920), Industria (British, 4850 GRT, built 1940), Jade (British, 930 GRT, built 1938), Lodestone (British, 4877 GRT, built 1938), Luxor (British (tanker), 6554 GRT, built 1930), Mandalay (British, 5529 GRT, built 1911), Mendoza (British, 8233 GRT, built 1919), Modavia (British, 4858 GRT, built 1927), Morgenen (Norwegian (tanker), 7093 GRT, built 1930), Nova (Norwegian, 1382 GRT, built 1925), Petter (Norwegian (tanker), 9109 GRT, built 1935), President de Vogue (Norwegian (tanker), 9320 GRT, built 1935), Ramsay (British, 4855 GRT, built 1930), Redgate (British, 4323 GRT, built 1929), Saganaga (British, 5454 GRT, built 1935), Sepia (British (tanker), 6214 GRT, built 1936), South Wales (British, 5619 GRT, built 1929), Stigstad (British, 5964 GRT, built 1927), Taron (British (tanker), 8054 GRT, built 1936), Temple Inn (British, 5218 GRT, built 1940), Tiba (Dutch, 5239 GRT, built 1938), Tower Field (British, 4241 GRT, built 1935), Trident (British, 4317 GRT, built 1917), Ulysses (British, 14647 GRT, built 1913), Vancouver (British (tanker), 5729 GRT, built 1928) and Vardefjell (Norwegian (tanker), GRT, built 1940).

The merchant vessel Baron Carnegie which had departed Avonmouth, was sunk on 11 June 1941 by German torpedo aircraft off St. David's Head in position 51°55'N, 05°34'W.

On leaving UK waters the convoy was escorted by escorted by the destroyer HMS Beagle (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO and Bar, RN), corvettes HMS Gladiolus (Lt.Cdr. H.M.C. Sanders, DSC, RNR), HMS Nigella (T/Lt. T.W. Coyne, RNR), HMS Orchis (T/Lt. H. Vernon, RNR), HMS Polyanthus (Lt. A. Hague, RNR), minesweepers HMS Seagull ( Cdr.(Retd.) R.H.V. Sivewright, RN), HMS Sharpshooter (Lt.Cdr. D. Lampen, RN) and the A/S trawlers HMS Ayrshire (T/Lt. L.J.A. Gradwell, RNVR), HMS Lady Madeleine (T/Lt. W.G. Ogden, RNVR) and HMS St. Loman (T/Lt. R.C. Warwick, RNR). Catapult ship HMS Maplin (A/Cdr. J.O. Davies, RNR) was also with the convoy. HMS Beagle, HMS Gladiolus, HMS Orchis, HMS Nigella, HMS Polyanthus, HMS Seagull, HMS Sharpshooter, HMS Ayrshire, HMS Lady Madeleine, HMS St. Loman and HMS Maplin were detached on the 17th after having been relieved by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Aurania (A/Capt. I.W. Whitehorn, RN), destroyers HMS Burnham (Cdr. J. Bostock, DSC, RN), HMS Churchill (Cdr.(Retd.) G.R. Cousins, RN) and the corvettes HMS Dianthus (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) C.E. Bridgman, RNR) and HMCS Spikenard (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Shadforth, RCNR). Destroyer HMS Chesterfield (Lt.Cdr. E. Gleave, RNR) was briefly (between 1720N/19 and 2120N/19) with the convoy on the 19th, she rejoined the convoy at 0755O/20, after having reported the position of the convoy by W/T.

Battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) and the armed merchant cruisers HMS Bulolo (Capt.(Retd.) R.L. Hamer, RN) and HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, RAN) joined the convoy in the late afternoon / early evening of the 20th.

Around 1500P/24, HMS Revenge, HMS Bulolo and HMS California parted company with the convoy in position 45°29'N, 55°24'W to proceed directly to Halifax.

Around 1700P/24, HMS Burnham, HMS Chesterfield and HMS Churchill parted company with the convoy in position 45°29'N, 56°21'W to proceed to St. Johns.

Around 0400P/25, the convoy was dispersed although several ships had already been detached while en-route. HMS Aurania, HMS Dianthus and HMCS Spikenard continued on the Halifax with only three ships destined for there.

25 Jun 1941
The battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) and the armed merchant cruisers HMS Bulolo (Capt.(Retd.) R.L. Hamer, RN) and HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, RAN) all arrived at Halifax after convoy escort duty. (36)

2 Jul 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) departed Halifax for Bermuda where she was to conduct a programme of gunnery exercises. (37)

4 Jul 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) arrived at Bermuda. Before entering the harbour, 4" HA gunnery exercises were carried out. (37)

7 Jul 1941
During 7/8 July 1941, HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN), conducted gunnery exercises off Bermuda. These included night exercises. (37)

10 Jul 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) departed Bermuda for gunnery exercises during 10 and 11 July. These included night exercises.

On completion of the exercises in the morning of July 11th, course was set to proceed to Halifax. (37)

14 Jul 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) arrived at Halifax from Bermuda. (37)

14 Aug 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) departed Halifax for Bermuda where she was to conduct a programme of gunnery exercises. (38)

15 Aug 1941

Convoy WS 10X

This convoy departed U.K. ports on 14/15 August 1941 for Suez where the ships arrived between 1 to 4 October 1941.

The convoy assembled in the Clyde area on 15 August 1941.

The convoy was made up of the following troop transports; Brisbane Star (12791 GRT, built 1937), Orion (23371 GRT, built 1935), Strathmore (23428 GRT, built 1935), Strathnaver (22283 GRT, built 1931), And the transports Palma (5419 GRT, built 1941) and Port Jackson (9687 GRT, built 1937).

Escort was initially provided by the heavy cruiser HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. A.W.S. Agar, VC, DSO, RN) (joined at sea on 17 August 1941 until 28 August when the convoy arrived at Freetown), the AA (light) cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Cdr. E.J. van Holte, RNN) (15 – 17 August) and the destroyers HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN) (15-17 August), HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Holmes, RN) (15-17 August), HMS Gurkha (Cdr. C.N. Lentaigne, RN) (17-19 August), HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN) (17-19 August), HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. J. Houtsmuller, RNN) (17-19 August) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. S. Hryniewiecki) (17-19 August).

When approaching Freetown the convoy was joined on 26 August by a local escort made up of the destroyers HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN), HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN) (left the convoy before noon on 27 August), HMS Wrestler (Lt. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) and the corvettes HMS Clematis (Cdr. Y.M. Cleeves, DSO, DSC, RD, RNR) and HMS Crocus (Lt.Cdr. E. Wheeler, RNR). The convoy arrived at Freetown on 28 August 1941.

The convoy departed Freetown for Capetown on 1 September 1941. Escort was now provided by the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) and the corvettes HMS Amaranthus (T/Lt. W.S. Thomson, RNR), HMS Armeria (T/Lt. H.N. Russell, DSC, RNR), HMS Mignonette (Lt. H.H. Brown, RNR) and HMS Woodruff (T/Lt. T. Muir, RNVR).

HMS Amaranthus parted company with the convoy around 1445Z/2 to return to Freetown due to defects.

Around 2133Z/2, HMS Revenge was rammed by the transport Orion. Damage to HMS Revenge was only minor but damage to the bow of the Orion was more serious. She dropped out of the convoy for a while but was later able to catch up again and was able of a speed of 15 knots.

At 1237Z/3, HMS Armeria, HMS Mignonette and HMS Woodruff parted company with the convoy to proceed to Takoradi.

The convoy arrived at Capetown on 11 September 1941.

The convoy departed Capetown for Suez on 14 September 1941. Escort was still provided by HMS Revenge until 22 September 1941 when the light cruiser, HMS Ceres (Capt. E.G. Abbott, AM, RN) took over until the dispersal of the convoy on 27 September 1941 when it was near Aden. The ships of the convoy then continued independently towards Suez where they arrived between 1 and 4 October 1941.

16 Aug 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) arrived at Bermuda from Halifax. (38)

19 Aug 1941
During 19/20 August 1941, HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN), conducted compass swing trials at Bermuda followed by gunnery exercises off Bermuda. These included night exercises. (38)

21 Aug 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) departed Bermuda for Freetown. It had been decided to sent HMS Revenge to the Indian Ocean for convoy escort duties on the East Indies Station. (38)

29 Aug 1941
The battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN), en-route from Bermuda to Freetown, is joined around 1000N/29 by the destroyer HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. R.L.S. Gaisford, RN). Around 1540N/29, the destroyer HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN) also joined.

HMS Vansittart parted company around 1740N/30. (38)

31 Aug 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) and HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN) arrived at Freetown. (38)

1 Sep 1941
The battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) and the corvettes HMS Amaranthus (T/Lt. W.S. Thomson, RNR), HMS Armeria (T/Lt. H.N. Russell, DSC, RNR), HMS Mignonette (Lt. H.H. Brown, RNR) and HMS Woodruff (T/Lt. T. Muir, RNVR) departed Freetown escorting convoy WS 10X.

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Convoy WS 10X ' for 15 August 1941.] (39)

11 Sep 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) arrived at Capetown with convoy WS 10X. (40)

14 Sep 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) departed Capetown as escort for convoy WS 10X.

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Convoy WS 10X ' for 15 August 1941.] (40)

22 Sep 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) arrived at Mombasa after convoy escort duty. (40)

23 Sep 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) departed Mombasa for Durban. She was escorting the troopship Zealandia (Australian, 6660 GRT, built 1910). (40)

28 Sep 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) and the troopship Zealandia (Australian, 6660 GRT, built 1910) arrived at Durban.

At Durban HMS Revenge is to undergo repairs at the Royal Dockyard. (40)

29 Sep 1941

Convoy WS 12

This convoy departed U.K. ports on 29 / 30 September 1941. Destination for the majority of the convoy was Aden where the convoy arrived on 20 November 1941. It was then dispersed and the remaining ships then proceeded to Suez independently.

The convoy assembled assembled at sea near Orsay Island on 1 October 1941.

The convoy was made up of the following troop transports / transports; Almanzora (15551 GRT, built 1914), City of Paris (10902 GRT, built 1922), Clan Campbell (7255 GRT, built 1937), Clan Lamont (7250 GRT, built 1939), Dominion Monarch (27155 GRT, built 1939), Duchess of Richmond (20022 GRT, built 1928), Empire Pride (9248 GRT, built 1941), Empire Trust (8143 GRT, built 1941), Empress of Canada (21517 GRT, built 1922), Empress of Russia (16810 GRT, built 1913), Franconia (20175 GRT, built 1923), Highland Brigade (14134 GRT, built 1929), Highland Princess (14133 GRT, built 1930), Prince Badouin (3219 GRT, built 1933), Leopoldville (11509 GRT, built 1929), Mendoza (8233 GRT, built 1919), Narkunda (16632 GRT, built 1920), Ormonde (14982 GRT, built 1917), Perseus (10272 GRT, built 1923), Perthshire (10496 GRT, built 1936), HMS Royal Ulsterman (T/Cdr. H.F. Jackson, RNR) (3244 GRT, built 1936), Samaria (19597 GRT, built 1921), Sarpedon (11321 GRT, built 1923) and Strathaird (22281 GRT, built 1932).

Escort was initially provided by the heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire (Capt. R.D. Oliver, DSC, RN) (from 30 September until 14 October. On 12 October HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. A.W.S. Agar, VC, DSO, RN) joined HMS Devonshire and escorted the convoy until 14 October when it arrived at Freetown.

The aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. T.O. Bulteel, RN) escorted the convoy from 30 September to 5 October when she was detached to Gibraltar, escorted by three destroyers (see below).

The armed merchant cruiser ), HMS Cathay (A/Capt.(Retd.) C.M. Merewether, RN), auxiliary minelayer HMS Agamemnon (Capt.(Retd.) F. Ratsey, RN) and the Canadian destroyers HMCS Assiniboine (A/Lt.Cdr. J.H. Stubbs, RCN), HMCS Saguenay (Lt. P.E. Haddon, RCN) escorted the convoy from 30 September to 4 October 1941 when they were detached and ordered to proceed with Halifax with the Highland Princess whih was then also detached from the convoy.

The destroyer HMS Sikh (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, RN) escorted the convoy from 30 September to 5 October when she was detached escorting HMS Argus to Gibraltar together with her sister ships HMS Cossack (Capt. E.L. Berthon, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, RN) which were met at sea after they had escorted a convoy part of the way from Gibraltar to the U.K. HMS Argus and her three escorting destroyer arrived at Gibraltar on 8 October.

The AA (light) cruiser HMS Cairo (A/Capt. I.R.H. Black, RN) and the destroyers HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN), HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Holmes, RN) and ), HMS Verity (Cdr. R.H. Mills, RN) escorted the convoy from 1 to 4 October.

The destroyers HMS Lancaster (A/Cdr. N.H. Whatley, RN), HMS Newark (Lt.Cdr. R.H.W. Atkins, RN) escorted the convoy from 1 to 3 October. HMS Bradford (Lt.Cdr. J.N.K. Knight, RN) was also to be part of this group. She did sail from Londonderry but had to return to that port soon after departure owning to defects.

The destroyer HMS Stanley (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) D.B. Shaw, OBE, RN) escorted the convoy from 1 to 7 October.

The escort destroyer HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSC, RN) escorted the convoy from 1 to 7 October.

The destroyer HMS Beverley (Lt.Cdr. J. Grant, RN) escorted to convoy from 2 to 5 October.

The destroyers HMS Gurkha (Cdr. C.N. Lentaigne, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. J. Houtsmuller, RNN) were to join the convoy on 7 October coming from Gibraltar. HrMs Isaac Sweers joined the convoy around noon but HMS Gurkha failed to find the convoy and only joined the following day.

On 11 October 1941, when approaching Freetown, the convoy was joined by the destroyers HMS Wrestler (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN), HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN), HMS Vimy (Lt.Cdr. H.G.D. de Chair, RN) and HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. R.L.S. Gaisford, RN) as well as the corvettes HMS Amaranthus (T/Lt. W.S. Thomson, RNR) and HMS Armeria (T/Lt. H.N. Russell, DSC, RNR).

The convoy, minus the Narkunda departed Freetown for South Africa on 19 October. Escort was provided by the heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire which joined the convoy early on 20 October after having patrolled south of Freetown since 16 October.

Local A/S escort out of Freetown was provided from 19 to 2 1 October 1941 and consisted of the destroyers HMS Velox, HMS Wrestler and the corvettes HMS Anchusa (Lt. J.E.L. Peters, RNR), HMS Calendula (Lt.Cdr. A.D. Bruford, RNVR) and HMS Mignonette (Lt. H.H. Brown, RNR).

On 21 October 1941, HMS Royal Ulsterman and Ulster Monarch were detached and proceeded to Takoradi. As did Prince Badouin which went on to St. Helena.

On 30 October 1941 the convoy was off Capetown and the following ships of the convoy then split off to proceed into that port; Clan Campbell, Dominion Monach, Empire Pride, Empire Trust, Empress of Canada, Leopoldville, Mendoza, Perthshire, Sarpedon and Strathaird as did HMS Devonshire which went to Simonstown.

The other ships of the convoy; Empress of Russia, Franconia, Highland Brigade, Ormonde, Perseus, Richmond and Samaria then proceeded to Durban where they arrived on 3 November escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Derbyshire (Capt.(Retd.) E.A.B. Stanley, DSO, MVO, RN) which had joined them off Capetown early on 31 October.

On 4 November 1941 the Strathaird departed Capetown for Durban where she arrived on 7 November.

On 5 November 1941 the following ships departed Capetown to continue their passage; Dominion Monarch, Empire Pride, Empire Trust, Empress of Canada, Leopoldville, Mendoza and Perthshire. They were escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Dunnottar Castle (Capt.(Retd.) C.T.A. Bunbury, RN).

On 8 November the following ships departed Durban and joined the Capetown group at sea; Almanzora, City of Paris, Clan Campbell, Clan Lamont, Duchess of Richmond, Empress of Russia, Franconia, Nieuw Amsterdam (36287 GRT, built 1938), Nova Scotia (6791 GRT, built 1926), Perseus, Samaria and Strathaird. The escort of the Capetown group HMS Dunnottar Castle was relieved by the battlecruiser HMS Repulse (Capt. W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN) which escorted the convoy from then on to until 14 November 1941 when she was relieved by the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) which then escorted the convoy until it arrived off Aden on 20 November. The convoy then dispersed and all ships proceeded to Suez independently.

On 14 November the convoy was joined by the Ascania (13900 GRT, built 1925) which came from Mombasa.

On 17 November 1941, HMS Glasgow (Capt. H. Hickling, DSO, RN) made rendez-vous with convoy WS 12. The Dominion Monarch, Duchess of Richmond, Empress of Canada and Perseus then split off from the convoy and continued on as convoy WS 12J towards Colombo, escorted by HMS Glasgow. This convoy arrived at Colombo on 23 November.

On 24 November the Dominion Monarch and Empress of Canada departed Colombo for Singapore as convoy WS 12V. They were escorted by HMS Glasgow until 26 November when HMS Dragon (Capt. R.J. Shaw, MBE, RN) took over the escort. The convoy arrived at Singapore on 28 November 1941. (29)

1 Oct 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) is docked at the Durban Dockyard. (41)

17 Oct 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) is undocked. (41)

29 Oct 1941

Convoy CM 18X.

This convoy departed Durban on 29 October 1941.

It was made up of the (troop) transports; Aronda (British, 9031 GRT, built 1941) and Stratheden (British, 23722 GRT, built 1937).

They were escorted by the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN).

Around 0700C/3, HMS Revenge was relieved by the light cruiser HMS Ceres (Capt. H.H. McWilliam, RN).

The convoy arrived at Aden on 8 November 1941. (42)

3 Nov 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) arrived at Kilindini / Momabasa after convoy escort duty. (43)

13 Nov 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) departed Kilindini for escort duty with convoy WS 12.

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Convoy WS 12 ' for 29 September 1941.] (43)

20 Nov 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) arrived at Aden from convoy escort duty. (43)

21 Nov 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) departed Aden for Bombay. (43)

26 Nov 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) arrived at Bombay. (43)

4 Dec 1941

Convoy BA 10.

This convoy departed Bombay on 4 December 1941 for Aden.

It was made up of only one ship, the transport Nevasa (British, 9213 GRT, built 1913) carrying Indian troops and some RIN personnel.

The 'convoy' was escorted by the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) until the early afternoon of December 7th, when HMS Revenge was ordered to proceed to Colombo with all possible despatch.

The 'convoy' arrived at Aden on 10 December. (44)

11 Dec 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) arrived at Colombo from escort duty. (45)

12 Dec 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) conducted D/G trials at Colombo. She then left for gunnery exercises. On completion of these she set course to Trincomalee. (45)

13 Dec 1941
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) arrived at Trincomalee from Colombo. (45)

9 Feb 1942
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) departed Trincomalee for Mombasa and then to Durban where she was to refit. (46)

17 Feb 1942
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) arrived at Mombasa. (46)

19 Feb 1942
HMS Ramillies (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN) and HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) conducted exercises off Kilindini.

Around noon, HMS Revenge parted company with HMS Ramillies which continued to exercise and only returned to Kilindini the following morning.

HMS Revenge set course for Durban. (47)

24 Feb 1942
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) arrived at Durban from Kilindini. At Durban she was taken in hand for a short refit and installation of new radar equipment. (48)

18 Mar 1942
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) departed Durban for Mauritius. (49)

23 Mar 1942
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) arrived at Mauritius. After taking on board fuel and water she departed for Addu Atoll to join the Eastern Fleet that is operating in the area. (49)

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. (50)

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. (50)

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 (less HMS Dragon 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.

11 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. (51)

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.] (50)

14 Apr 1942
' Force B ' of the Eastern Fleet arrived at Kilindini from operations.

' Force B ' was made up of 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 Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN), HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Caledon (A/Capt. H.J. Haynes, DSO, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Griffin (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN), HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. R.D.H.S. Pankhurst, RN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. W. Harmsen, RNN). (52)

23 Apr 1942
The battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN), light cruisers HMS Dragon (Capt. R.J. Shaw, MBE, RN), HMS Caledon (A/Capt. H.J. Haynes, DSO, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Griffin (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN) and HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN) conducted exercises off Kilindini.

Around 1300(-2u45min)/23, HMS Revenge and both destroyers parted company with the cruisers and proceeded southwards.

HMS Revenge was to proceed to Durban and was escorted by the destroyers until 0001/24 whey they parted company to return to Kilindini.

The light cruisers continued exercising until returning to Kilindini in the morning of the 24th. (53)

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) which first had conducted gunnery exercises in False Bay before joining the convoy.

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. (50)

28 Apr 1942
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) arrived at Durban from Kilindini. (54)

30 Apr 1942
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) departed Durban to join convoy WS 17 as escort.

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Convoy WS 17 ' for 27 April 1942.] (54)

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.] (50)

9 May 1942
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. W. Harmsen, RNN) arrived at Kilindini / Mombasa. (55)

12 May 1942
A/Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, DSO, RN, transferred his flag from HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN) to HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN). (56)

18 May 1942
Ships from the Eastern Fleet departed Kilindini in the morning for several days of exercises, these were; light cruisers HMS Caledon (A/Capt. H.J. Haynes, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Dragon (Capt. R.J. Shaw, MBE, RN), HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN), HMS Enterprise (Capt. J.C.A. Annesley, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN), HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. R.D.H.S. Pankhurst, RN), HMS Griffin (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN) and HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN).

They were joined in the afternoon by the battleships HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN, flying the flag of A/Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, DSO, RN), HMS Warspite (Capt. F.E.P. Hutton, RN) (the C-in-C had transferred his flag to HMS Adamant temporary), light cruisers HMS Newcastle (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, DSO, RN), HMS Birmingham (Capt. H.B. Crane, RN) and the destroyers HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, DSO, RN), HMAS Nestor (Cdr. A.S. Rosenthal, DSO and Bar, RAN) and HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN).

Exercises continued on 19 and 20 May although several ships returned to harbour. HMS Dauntless (A/Capt. J.G. Hewitt, DSO, RN) joined the exercises on the 19th.

At dawn on the 20th the last exercises were concluded and the ships proceeded as follows;

HMS Revenge, HMS Warspite, HMS Dauntless, HMS Caledon, HMAS Napier, HMAS Nestor, HMAS Norman and HMS Foxhound proceeded to Zanzibar.

HMS Newcastle, HMS Birmingham, HMS Griffin, HMS Fortune and HMS Decoy proceeded to Tanga, returning to Kilindini the following day.

HMS Emerald and HMS Enterprise proceeded to Manza Bay.

At dawn on 21 May, HMS Caledon and HMS Dauntless departed Zanzibar for Tanga where they were to join the ships that had proceeded there on their departure from Tanga.

Around 0800 hours all the other ships left their anchorages and proceeded to sea. Some ships were to conduct gunnery exercises (including night exercises), these were; HMS Revenge, HMS Warspite, HMS Decoy and HMAS Napier. They used a target that was being towed by HMS Dragon which had come from Kilindini.

The other ships returned to Kilindini on that day.

The ships that had been involved in the gunnery exercises returned to Kilindili on 22 May. (57)

14 Jun 1942
The battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN, flying the flag of A/Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, DSO, RN, second in command Eastern Fleet), light cruiser HMS Dragon (A/Capt. G.V.B. Faulkner, RN) and the destroyers HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN) and HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN) departed Kilindini for Durban. (58)

19 Jun 1942
The battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN, flying the flag of A/Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, DSO, RN, second in command Eastern Fleet), light cruiser HMS Dragon (A/Capt. G.V.B. Faulkner, RN) and the destroyers HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN) and HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN) arrived at Durban from Kilindini. (59)

26 Jun 1942
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN, flying the flag of A/Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, DSO, RN, second in command Eastern Fleet) completed de-ammunitioning. She is then taken in hand for refit at the Durban Dockyard. (60)

5 Jul 1942
A/Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, DSO, RN, transferred his flag from HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) to HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN) after having arrived at Kilindini from Durban by air. (61)

15 Oct 1942
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) is docked at the Durban Dockyard. (62)

23 Oct 1942
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) is undocked. (62)

15 Nov 1942
With her refit completed, the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN), departed Durban for Kilindini to rejoin the Eastern Fleet. She is escorted by the escort destroyers HMS Blackmore (Lt. H.T. Harrel, RN) and HMS Derwent (Cdr. R.H. Wright, DSC, RN). (63)

20 Nov 1942
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) HMS Blackmore (Lt. H.T. Harrel, RN) and HMS Derwent (Cdr. R.H. Wright, DSC, RN) arrived at Kilindini from Durban. (64)

28 Nov 1942
During 28/29 November 1942, the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) conducted exercises off Kilindini during which she was escorted by the destroyer HMAS Napier (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Green, DSC, RAN) and the escort destroyer HMS Blackmore (Lt. H.T. Harrel, RN). (64)

3 Dec 1942
From 3 to 5 December 1942, the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Ceres (Capt. C.C.A. Allen, RN), destroyer HMS Hotspur (Lt. P. Bekenn, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Blackmore (Lt. H.T. Harrel, RN) and HMS Derwent (Cdr. R.H. Wright, DSC, RN) conducted exercises off Kilindini. (65)

10 Dec 1942
During 10/11 December 1942, the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN), destroyer HMS Hotspur (Lt. P. Bekenn, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Derwent (Cdr. R.H. Wright, DSC, RN) conducted exercises off Kilindini. (66)

29 Dec 1942
During 29/30 December 1942, the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN), destroyer HMS Rotherham (Capt. F.S.W. de Winton, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Blackmore (Lt. H.T. Harrel, RN) conducted exercises off Kilindini.

During the night exercises they were joined by the cruiser HMS Hawkins (Capt. G.A. French, RN). (67)

2 Jan 1943
The battleship HMS Revenge (A/Capt. St.J. Cronyn, DSO, RN) conducted exercises off Kilindini during which she was escorted by the destroyers HMAS Nepal (Cdr. F.B. Morris, RAN) and HMS Hotspur (Lt. P. Bekenn, RN). (68)

5 Jan 1943
During 5 to 8 January 1943, the battleships HMS Resolution (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN with Rear Admiral W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN, on board), HMS Revenge (A/Capt. St.J. Cronyn, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Hawkins (Capt. G.A. French, RN), light cruisers HMS Birmingham (Capt. H.B. Crane, RN), HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.D. Stephens, RN), destroyers HMS Rotherham (Capt. F.S.W. de Winton, RN), HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN), HMAS Nizam (Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN), HMAS Nepal (Cdr. F.B. Morris, RAN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. C.J. Wynne-Edwards, DSC and Bar, RN), escort destroyers HMS Blackmore (Lt. H.T. Harrel, RN) and HMS Catterick (Lt. A. Tyson, RN) conducted exercises off Kilindini.

HMS Blackmore returned to Kilinidi for other duties on the 6th. (69)

19 Jan 1943
The battleship HMS Revenge (A/Capt. St.J. Cronyn, DSO, RN) conducted exercises off Kilindini during which she was escorted by the destroyer HMAS Napier (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Green, DSC, RAN) and the escort destroyer HMS Catterick (Lt. A. Tyson, RN).

On completion of these exercises they proceeded to Manza Bay. (68)

25 Jan 1943
The battleship HMS Revenge (A/Capt. St.J. Cronyn, DSO, RN) proceeded from Manza Bay to Kilindini. She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Foxhound (Cdr. C.J. Wynne-Edwards, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMAS Nizam (Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN). (68)

28 Jan 1943
During 28/29 November 1943, the battleship HMS Revenge (A/Capt. St.J. Cronyn, DSO, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Frobisher (Capt. J.F.W. Mudford, RN), light cruiser HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.D. Stephens, RN) and the destroyers HMS Foxhound (Cdr. C.J. Wynne-Edwards, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMAS Nizam (Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN) conducted exercises off Kilindini. (70)

3 Feb 1943
The battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN, flying the flag of Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Eastern Fleet), HMS Resolution (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN), HMS Revenge (A/Capt. St.J. Cronyn, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.D. Stephens, RN) and destroyers HMS Rotherham (Capt. F.S.W. de Winton, RN), HMS Quilliam (Capt. S.H. Carlill, DSO, RN), HMAS Nepal (Cdr. F.B. Morris, RAN), HMAS Nizam (Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN), HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN) and HMS Foxhound (Cdr. C.J. Wynne-Edwards, DSC and Bar, RN) departed Kilindini for operations in the Indian Ocean. The main object of their sortie was to provide cover for the Pamplet troop convoy transporting 30000 men of the Australian 9th Division from Suez to Melbourne and Sydney.

They fuelled at Port Victoria, Seychelles on 6 February 1943 departing from there for Addu Atoll later the same day.

They arrived on Addu Atoll on 11 February 1943.

On 13 February 1943, they, less HMS Mauritius, departed Addu Atoll to return to Kilindini via the Seychelles.

They fuelled at Port Victoria, Seychelles on 17 February 1943.

They arrived at Kilindini on 20 February 1943. (71)

17 Mar 1943
The battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. G.B. Middleton, CBE, RN) conducted exercises off Kilindini during which she was escorted by the destroyers HMAS Nizam (Cdr. C.H. Brooks, RAN) and HMAS Quickmatch (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, DSC, RAN).

On completion of the exercises they proceeded to Manza Bay where they arrived the following morning. (72)

20 Mar 1943
HMS Revenge (Capt. G.B. Middleton, CBE, RN), HMAS Nizam (Cdr. C.H. Brooks, RAN) and HMAS Quickmatch (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, DSC, RAN) proceeded from Manza Bay to Kilindini. (72)

12 Apr 1943
From 12 to 16 April 1943, the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. G.B. Middleton, CBE, RN), heavy cruisers HMS Frobisher (Capt. J.F.W. Mudford, RN), HMS Hawkins (Capt. G.A. French, RN), light cruisers HMS Gambia (Capt. M.J. Mansergh, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.W. Davis, RN, flying the flag of Adm. J.F. Somerville, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMAS Nizam (Cdr. C.H. Brooks, RAN) and HMAS Quickmatch (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, DSC, RAN) conducted exercises off Kilindini. (73)

4 May 1943
From 4 May to 7 May 1943 ships from the Eastern Fleet conducted exercises off Kilindini / Mombasa.

In the morning of the 4th the heavy cruiser HMS Sussex (Capt. W.Y.La R. Beverley, RN) and light cruiser HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.W. Davis, RN, flying the flag of Adm. J.F. Somerville, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN) departed Kilindini.

They were followed in the afternoon by the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. G.B. Middleton, CBE, RN), light cruisers HMS Capetown (Capt. C.L. Robertson, RN), HMS Gambia (Capt. M.J. Mansergh, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Kenya (Capt. D.P. Evans, RN) and the destroyers HMAS Napier (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Green, DSC, RAN) and HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, RN).

All ships returned to the harbour in the morning of May 7th minus HMS Mauritius which returned in the afternoon. (74)

25 May 1943
From 25 to 28 May exercises were carried out by ships from the Eastern Fleet off Kilindini. The following ships participated in these exercises; battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. G.B. Middleton, CBE, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Hawkins (Capt. G.A. French, RN), light cruisers HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.W. Davis, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Capetown (Capt. C.L. Robertson, RN), HMS Caradoc (Capt. J.W. Josselyn, DSC, RN), armed merchant cruiser HMS Chitral (A/Capt.(Retd.) G.W. Hoare-Smith, RN) and the destroyers HMAS Napier (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Green, DSC, RAN) and HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, RN).

HMS Chitral returned to Kilindini early, on May 27th. (75)

15 Jun 1943
The battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. G.B. Middleton, CBE, RN) departed Kilindini for Durban. The was escorted by the destroyers HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN) and HMAS Napier (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Green, DSC, RAN). (76)

18 Jun 1943
Around 1040C/18, the battleships HMS Revenge (Capt. G.B. Middleton, CBE, RN), on passage from Kilindini to Durban, and HMS Resolution (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN), on passage from Durban to Kilindini, made rendezvous.

HMAS Napier (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Green, DSC, RAN) then joined HMS Resolution and HMS Racehorse (Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN) while HMS Rotherham (Capt. F.S.W. de Winton, RN) and HMS Relentless (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Fell, RN) joined HMS Revenge and HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN). (77)

20 Jun 1943
The battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. G.B. Middleton, CBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Rotherham (Capt. F.S.W. de Winton, RN), HMS Relentless (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Fell, RN) and HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN) arrived at Durban.

HMS Revenge was then taken in hand for a short refit at the Durban Dockyard. (76)

29 Jun 1943
HMS Revenge (Capt. G.B. Middleton, CBE, RN) is docked at the Durban Dockyard. (76)

12 Jul 1943
HMS Revenge (Capt. G.B. Middleton, CBE, RN) is undocked. (78)

28 Jul 1943
The battleships HMS Resolution (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) and HMS Revenge (Capt. G.B. Middleton, CBE, RN) departed Durban for Capetown. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Rotherham (Capt. F.S.W. de Winton, RN), HMS Relentless (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Fell, RN), HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN) and HMAS Quickmatch (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, DSC, RAN).

Both battleships had been ordered to return to the U.K. to be decommissioned from active service and serve as training ships. (79)

31 Jul 1943
HMS Resolution (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN), HMS Revenge (Capt. G.B. Middleton, CBE, RN), HMS Rotherham (Capt. F.S.W. de Winton, RN), HMS Relentless (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Fell, RN), HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN) and HMAS Quickmatch (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, DSC, RAN) arrived at Capetown from Durban. (80)

4 Aug 1943
The battleships HMS Resolution (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN), HMS Revenge (Capt. G.B. Middleton, CBE, RN) and the transports Aorangi (British, 17491 GRT, built 1924) and Dominion Monarch (British, 27155 GRT, built 1939) departed Capetown for the Congo River estuary. They were escorted by the destroyers HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.J. Buchanan DSO, RAN), HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN), HMS Rapid (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Relentless (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Fell, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Catterick (Lt.Cdr. A. Tyson, RN).

They were to pass through the following positions;
A) 33°13'S, 17°37'E,
B) 28°30'S, 14°30'E,
C) 17°15'S, 10°30'E,
D) 10°00'S, 11°00'E.
(81)

11 Aug 1943
The battleships HMS Resolution (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN), HMS Revenge (Capt. G.B. Middleton, CBE, RN), transports Aorangi (British, 17491 GRT, built 1924), Dominion Monarch (British, 27155 GRT, built 1939) and the destroyers HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.J. Buchanan DSO, RAN), HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN), HMS Rapid (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Relentless (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Fell, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Catterick (Lt.Cdr. A. Tyson, RN) arrived in the Congo River Estuary. (82)

15 Aug 1943
The battleships HMS Resolution (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN), HMS Revenge (Capt. G.B. Middleton, CBE, RN), transports Aorangi (British, 17491 GRT, built 1924), Dominion Monarch (British, 27155 GRT, built 1939), destroyers HMS Wolverine (Cdr. J.M. Money, RN), HMS Douglas (Lt.Cdr. K.H.J.L. Phibbs, RN), HMS Beagle (Lt.Cdr. N.R. Murch, RN), HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. E.J. Lee, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Catterick (Lt.Cdr. A. Tyson, RN) departed the Congo River Estuary for Freetown. (83)

22 Aug 1943
The battleships HMS Resolution (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN), HMS Revenge (Capt. G.B. Middleton, CBE, RN), transports Aorangi (British, 17491 GRT, built 1924), Dominion Monarch (British, 27155 GRT, built 1939), destroyers HMS Wolverine (Cdr. J.M. Money, RN), HMS Douglas (Lt.Cdr. K.H.J.L. Phibbs, RN), HMS Beagle (Lt.Cdr. N.R. Murch, RN), HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. E.J. Lee, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Catterick (Lt.Cdr. A. Tyson, RN) arrived at Freetown. (82)

24 Aug 1943
The battleships HMS Resolution (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN), HMS Revenge (Capt. St.J. Cronyn, DSO, RN), transports Aorangi (British, 17491 GRT, built 1924), Dempo (Dutch, 17024 GRT, built 1931), Dominion Monarch (British, 27155 GRT, built 1939) departed Freetown for Gibraltar. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Foxhound (Cdr. C.J. Wynne-Edwards, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Boadicea (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN), HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. E.J. Lee, RN), escort destroyer HMS Catterick (Lt.Cdr. A. Tyson, RN) and the frigate HMS Ness (A/Cdr. T.G.P. Crick, DSC, RN).

Around 0655Z/26, the destroyers HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. J. Smallwood, RN) and HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. S.R.J. Woods, RNR) joined. HMS Bulldog and HMS Catterick were then detached to fuel at Dakar.

Around 1000Z/26, the Aorangi was detached and joined the French transport Canada (9684 GRT, built 1912) that had sailed from Dakar on the 25th escorted by the frigates HMS Bazely (Lt.Cdr. J.V. Brock, RCNVR), HMS Blackwood (Lt.Cdr. L.T. Sly, RD, RNR), HMS Drury (Lt.Cdr. N.J. Parker, RN) and HrMs Johan Maurits van Nassau (Cdr. A. de Booy, RNN).

Around 1115Z/27, HMS Bulldog and HMS Catterick rejoined and HMS Boadicea was detached to Dakar. (84)

31 Aug 1943
The battleships HMS Resolution (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN), HMS Revenge (Capt. St.J. Cronyn, DSO, RN), transports Dempo (Dutch, 17024 GRT, built 1931), Dominion Monarch (British, 27155 GRT, built 1939), destroyers HMS Foxhound (Cdr. C.J. Wynne-Edwards, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. J. Smallwood, RN), HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. E.J. Lee, RN), HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. S.R.J. Woods, RNR) and escort destroyer HMS Catterick (Lt.Cdr. A. Tyson, RN) and the frigate HMS Ness (A/Cdr. T.G.P. Crick, DSC, RN) arrived at Gibraltar. (84)

1 Sep 1943
The battleships HMS Resolution (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN), HMS Revenge (Capt. St.J. Cronyn, DSO, RN) departed Gibraltar for the U.K.

They joined convoy MKF 22 for the passage. [Details on the composition of this convoy will have to be researched in the future, information currently available to us is incomplete.] (85)

9 Sep 1943
The battleships HMS Resolution (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN), HMS Revenge (Capt. St.J. Cronyn, DSO, RN) arrived in the Clyde with convoy the Clyde section of convoy MKF 22. (85)

20 Oct 1943
Around 0500A/20, the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. St.J. Cronyn, DSO, RN) departed Greenock for Southampton. She is escorted by the AA ship HMCS Prince Robert (Cdr. A.M. Hope, RCN) and the destroyer HMS Saladin (Lt. A.A. Diggens, DSC, RN).

Around 1110A/20, HMS Saladin is detached.

Around 0715A/21, the escort destroyers HMS Limbourne (A/Cdr. W.J. Phipps, MVO, RN), HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.J. Kirkby, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Stevenstone (Lt.Cdr. P.B.N. Lewis, DSC, RN) joined coming from Plymouth and HMCS Prince Robert was detached.

HMS Revenge arrived at Portsmouth around 1615A/21. The escort destroyers then set course to return to Plymouth. (86)

24 Oct 1943
HMS Revenge (Capt. St.J. Cronyn, DSO, RN) is decommissioned at the Portsmouth Dockyard and reduced to care and maintenance. (87)

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

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  40. ADM 53/115016
  41. ADM 53/115017
  42. ADM 53/113891 + ADM 53/113892 + ADM 53/115017 + ADM 53/115018
  43. ADM 53/115018
  44. ADM 53/115019 + ADM 199/408
  45. ADM 53/115019
  46. ADM 53/116554 + ADM 199/2568
  47. ADM 53/116489 + ADM 53/116554
  48. ADM 53/116554
  49. ADM 53/116555
  50. ADM 199/426
  51. ADM 199/1389
  52. ADM 187/18 + ADM 199/426
  53. ADM 53/115475 + ADM 53/115818 + ADM 53/116556
  54. ADM 53/116556
  55. ADM 53/116557
  56. ADM 53/116535 + ADM 53/116557 + ADM 199/429
  57. ADM 199/426 + ADM 199/429
  58. ADM 53/115820 + ADM 53/116558 + ADM 199/429
  59. ADM 53/115820 + ADM 53/116558 + ADM 199/2349
  60. ADM 53/116558
  61. ADM 53/116537 + ADM 53/116559 + ADM 199/429
  62. ADM 53/116562
  63. ADM 53/116563 + ADM 199/2349
  64. ADM 53/116563
  65. ADM 53/115567 + ADM 53/116564
  66. ADM 53/116564
  67. ADM 53/116046 + ADM 53/116564
  68. ADM 53/118460
  69. ADM 53/117047 + ADM 53/117617 + ADM 53/117652 + ADM 53/117894 + ADM 53/118438 + ADM 53/118460
  70. ADM 53/117537 + ADM 53/117894 + ADM 53/118460
  71. ADM 53/117895 + ADM 53/118439 + ADM 53/118461 + ADM 53/118710 + ADM 199/643
  72. ADM 53/118462
  73. ADM 53/117540 + ADM 53/117564 + ADM 53/117620 + ADM 53/117897 + ADM 53/118463
  74. ADM 53/117120 + ADM 53/117565 + ADM 53/117705 + ADM 53/117898 + ADM 53/118464 + ADM 53/118603
  75. ADM 53/117120 + ADM 53/117125 + ADM 53/117215 + ADM 53/117621 + ADM 53/117898 + ADM 53/118464
  76. ADM 53/118465
  77. ADM 53/118443 + ADM 53/118465
  78. ADM 53/118466
  79. ADM 53/118444 + ADM 53/118466 + ADM 199/2349
  80. ADM 53/118444 + ADM 53/118466
  81. ADM 53/118445 + ADM 53/118467 + ADM 199/2273
  82. ADM 53/118445 + ADM 118467
  83. ADM 53/118445 + ADM 118467 + ADM 199/2274
  84. ADM 53/118445 + ADM 118467 + ADM 199/2275
  85. ADM 53/118446 + ADM 53/118468
  86. ADM 53/118468 + ADM 199/2280
  87. ADM 53/118468

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


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