Allied Warships

HMS Penn (G 77)

Destroyer of the P class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassP 
PennantG 77 
Built byVickers Armstrong (Newcastle-on-Tyne, U.K.) : Vickers Armstrong (Barrow-in-Furness, U.K.) 
Ordered20 Oct 1939 
Laid down26 Dec 1939 
Launched12 Feb 1941 
Commissioned10 Feb 1942 
End service 
History

Sold for scrap 30 October 1950.

 

Commands listed for HMS Penn (G 77)

Please note that we're still working on this section
and that we only list Commanding Officers for the duration of the Second World War.

CommanderFromTo
1Lt.Cdr. James Hamilton Swain, RN2 Dec 1941mid/late44
2Lt. Michael John Wake Pawsey, RNmid/late4427 Nov 1944
3Lt.Cdr. Alexander Henderson Diack, DSC, RN27 Nov 1944June 1946

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Notable events involving Penn include:


23 Apr 1942
HMS L 23 (Lt. E.J.D. Turner, DSC, RN) participated in A/S exercises at / off Scapa Flow with HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN). (1)

30 Apr 1942
HMS L 23 (Lt. E.J.D. Turner, DSC, RN) participated in A/S exercises at / off Scapa Flow with HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) and local defence craft. (1)

5 May 1942
HrMs O 14 (Lt.Cdr. H.A.W. Goossens, RNN) conducted A/S exercises at / off Scapa Flow with HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN), HMS Quentin (Lt.Cdr. A.H.P. Noble, DSC, RN) and HMS Blackmore (Lt. H.T. Harrel, RN). (2)

16 May 1942
HrMs O 14 (Lt.Cdr. H.A.W. Goossens, RNN) conducted A/S exercises at / off Scapa Flow with HMS Derwent (Cdr. R.H. Wright, DSC, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN), HMS Bleasdale (Lt. P.B.N. Lewis, RN) and ORP Slazak (Lt.Cdr. R. Nalecz-Tyminski, ORP). (2)

5 Jun 1942
Around 1730B/5, the battleship HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN) departed the Clyde for Freetown.

Off the gate she was joined by the destroyers HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN). At 2130B/5, the destroyer HMS Quentin (Lt.Cdr. A.H.P. Noble, DSC, RN) also joined.

At 1900Z/8, HMS Quentin parted company to proceed to fuel at Ponta Delgada. The rejoined around 1300N/9. That afternoon HMS Rodney refuelled HMS Pathfinder following which HMS Penn detached at 1820Z/9, to fuel at Ponta Delgada. She returned around 0900N/11 but reported that her Asdic was out of action. (3)

15 Jun 1942
HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) and HMS Quentin (Lt.Cdr. A.H.P. Noble, DSC, RN) arrived at Freetown around 1200Z/15. (3)

19 Jun 1942

Convoy WS 19P.

This leg of convoy WS 19P was from Freetown (departure, 19 June 1942) to Capetown (arrival, 1 July 1942) and Durban (arrival, 4 July 1942).

The composition of the convoy for this leg of it's passage to the Far East was as follows; Andes (British, 25689 GRT, built 1939), Arawa (British, 14462 GRT, built 1922), Britannic (British, 26943 GRT, built 1930), Cathay (British, 15225 GRT, built 1925), Chateau Thierry (American, 7555 GRT, built 1920), Christiaan Huygens (Dutch, 16287 GRT, built 1927), Cristobal (American, 10021 GRT, built 1939), J.W. McAndrew (American, 7997 GRT, built 1940), Java (Dutch, 9250 GRT, built 1939), Laconia (British, 19695 GRT, built 1922), Mariposa (American, 18152 GRT, built 1931), Mexico (American, 5236 GRT, built 1932), New Zealand Star (British, 12436 GRT, built 1935), Orcades (British, 23456 GRT, built 1937), Orontes (British, 20097 GRT, built 1929), Otranto (British, 20026 GRT, built 1925), Poelau Roebiah (Dutch, 9251 GRT, built 1928), Santa Elena (American, 9135 GRT, built 1933), Santa Paula (American, 9135 GRT, built 1932), Santa Rosa (American, 9135 GRT, built 1932), Staffordshire (British, 10683 GRT, built 1929), Strathallan (British, 23722 GRT, built 1938), Talisse (Dutch, 8169 GRT, built 1930), Viceroy of India (British, 19627 GRT, built 1929) and Warwick Castle (British, 20107 GRT, built 1930).

On departure from Freetown (0830Z/19) the convoy was escorted by the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), destroyers HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN), HMS Quentin (Lt.Cdr. A.H.P. Noble, DSC, RN), HMS Velox (Lt. G.B. Barstow, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Derwent (Cdr. R.H. Wright, DSC, RN).

At 1030A/21, HMS Velox was detached to return to Freetown.

At 1645A/24, HMS Derwent was detached to fuel at Pointe Noirse.

On the 25th, HMS Nelson fuelled HMS Pathfinder while HMS Rodney fuelled HMS Penn and HMS Quentin.

At 1100A/26, the escort of the convoy was turned over to the heavy cruiser HMS Shropshire (Capt. J.T. Borrett, OBE, RN) in approximate position 12°00'S, 08°00'E. The Admiralty had decided to cancel the deployment of HMS Nelson and HMS Rodney with the Eastern Fleet as they would be required in August for a supply mission to Malta that was being planned.

So the battleships and their escorting destroyers parted company with the convoy to return to Freetown. HMS Derwent was ordered to join them after completion of her fuelling at Pointe Noire.

The convoy meanwhile continued its passage to South Africa.

Around 1000A/30, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Cheshire (A/Capt. H.G. Hopper, RN) joined the convoy in position 31°50'S, 15°43'E.

Around 1700A/30, when in position 33°30'S, 16°47'E, HMS Cheshire took the Capetown section of the convoy with her. This section was made up of the Cathay, J.W. McAndrew, Java, Laconia, Mariposa, Mexico, New Zealand Star, Orontes, Santa Elena, Santa Rosa, Staffordshire and Strathallan. These ships arrived at Capetown on 1 July 1942.

HMS Shropshire continued on with the remaining 13 ships towards Durban where the arrived on 4 July 1942. (4)

26 Jun 1942
At 1100A/26, the escort of convoy WS 19P was turned over to the heavy cruiser HMS Shropshire (Capt. J.T. Borrett, OBE, RN) in approximate position 12°00'S, 08°00'E. The Admiralty had decided to cancel the deployment of HMS Nelson (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) and HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN) with the Eastern Fleet as they would be required in August for a supply mission to Malta that was being planned. So the battleships set course to return to Freetown escorted by HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN) and HMS Quentin (Lt.Cdr. A.H.P. Noble, DSC, RN).

At 1715A/27, the escort destroyer HMS Derwent (Cdr. R.H. Wright, DSC, RN) joined after having fuelled at Pointe Noire. She was topped up by HMS Nelson in the morning of the 28th.

All ships arrived at Freetown in the afternoon of July 1st. On the passage back to Freetown HMS Rodney had experienced problems with her steering mechanism. (4)

17 Jul 1942
Around 0715Z/17, the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN) departed Freetown for Scapa Flow. They were escorted by the destroyer HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN) and escort destroyer HMS Derwent (Cdr. R.H. Wright, DSC, RN).

Around 1230Z/17, the destroyer HMS Vimy (Lt.Cdr. H.G.D. de Chair, RN) joined.

Around 0730Z/18, the destroyers HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN), HMS Quentin (Lt.Cdr. A.H.P. Noble, DSC, RN) joined coming from Freetown.

Around 2300Z/18, HMS Vimy parted company.

At 0155Z/19, HMS Pathfinder reported sighting a surfaced submarine. She turned to ram and claimed to have done so at 0202 hours. The enemy submarine crash dived and was then depth charged and believed to have been sunk. No survivors were seen. The submarine in question was the German U-201 which in fact escaped without damage.

In the afternoon of the 19th, HMS Quentin fuelled from HMS Rodney.

In the late morning / early afternoon of the 20th, HMS Rodney fuelled HMS Penn while HMS Nelson fuelled HMS Derwent around the same time. HMS Pathfinder was fuelled in the late afternoon / early evening by HMS Nelson.

At 0900Z/21, HMS Pathfinder picked up 23 survivors from the merchant vessel Cortona that had been sunk by U-201 on 12 July 1942 after having been damaged shortly before by U-116.

In the morning of 22 July, HMS Nelson fuelled HMS Derwent.

Around 1700A/23, the destroyers HMS Somali (Capt. J.W.M. Eaton, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Fell, RN) joined.

At 1800A/24, HMS Derwent was detached to Londonderry.

At 2300B/25, HMS Pathfinder parted company to land the survivors she had picked up on the 21st at Londonderry.

Around 2300B/26, HMS Nelson, HMS Rodney, HMS Quentin, HMS Penn, HMS Somali, HMS Icarus and HMS Forester arrived at Scapa Flow. (5)

2 Aug 1942

Convoy WS 21S and Operation Pedestal.

Convoy WS 21S and the concentration of the escort forces

Convoy WS 21S departed the Clyde on 2 August 1942. The convoy was made up of the following ships;
American freighters;
Almeria Lykes (7773 GRT, built 1940), Santa Elisa (8379 GRT, built 1941), British freighters;
Brisbane Star (12791 GRT, built 1937), Clan Ferguson (7347 GRT, built 1938), Deucalion (7516 GRT, built 1930), Dorset (10624 GRT, built 1934), Empire Hope (12688 GRT, built 1941), Glenorchy (8982 GRT, built 1939), Melbourne Star (11076 GRT, built 1936), Port Chalmers (8535 GRT, built 1933), Rochester Castle (7795 GRT, built 1937), Waimarama (12843 GRT, built 1938), Wairangi (12436 GRT, built 1935), and the American tanker;
Ohio (9264 GRT, built 1940).

These ships were escorted by light cruisers HMS Nigeria (Capt. S.H. Paton, RN, flying the flag of the Rear-Admiral 10th C.S., H.M. Burrough, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Kenya (Capt. A.S. Russell, RN) and the destroyers HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN), HMS Venomous (Cdr. H.W. Falcon-Stewart, RN), HMS Wolverine (Lt.Cdr. P.W. Gretton, OBE, DSC, RN), HMS Malcolm (A/Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN), HMS Amazon (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy) Lord Teynham, RN), HMS Derwent (Cdr. R.H. Wright, DSC, RN) and HMS Zetland (Lt. J.V. Wilkinson, RN).

A cover force made up of departed Scapa Flow on the same day. This force was made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN) and HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN). They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Ashanti (Cdr. R.G. Onslow, DSO, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Somali (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN), HMS Tartar (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN) and HMS Quentin (Lt.Cdr. A.H.P. Noble, DSC, RN). They were to rendez-vous with convoy WS 21S at sea on 3 August. HMS Penn was delayed by a defect and after topping off with fuel at Moville, Northern Ireland overtook the force and joined at sea.

The aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral A.L.St.G. Lyster, CB, CVO, DSO, RN) and the light cruiser HMS Sirius (Capt. P.W.B. Brooking, RN) meanwhile had already left Scapa Flow on 31 July 1941 to rendez-vous with the convoy. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.deW. Kitcat, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Fell, RN). These ships were joined at sea on 1 August 1942 by the aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. G.T. Philip, RN), loaded with spare fighter aircraft for the operation, and her two escorts the destroyers HMS Buxton (Lt.Cdr. I.J. Tyson, RD, RNR) and HMS Sardonyx (Lt.Cdr. A.F.C. Gray, RNR). HMS Argus and her two escorting destroyers had departed the Clyde on 31 July. HMS Buxton later split off and proceeded towards Canada and HMS Sardonyx proceeded to Londonderry.

The last ships to take part in the operation to depart the U.K. (Clyde around midnight during the night of 4/5 August) were the aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. T.O. Bulteel, RN), loaded with Hurricane fighters for Malta, and her escorts, the light cruiser HMS Manchester (Capt. H. Drew, DSC, RN) and the Polish destroyer ORP Blyscawica (Lt.Cdr. L. Lichodziejewski, ORP). They were joined at sea, around dawn, by HMS Sardonyx coming from Londonderry. The destroyers parted company around midnight during the night of 5/6 August. They arrived at Londonderry on 7 August. HMS Furious and HMS Manchester then joined convoy WS 21S around midnight of the next night but HMS Manchester parted company shortly afterwards to proceed ahead of the convoy and fuel at Gibraltar.

On 1 August 1942 the aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable (Capt. T.H. Troubridge, RN), light cruiser HMS Phoebe (Capt. C.P. Frend, RN) and the destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. H.G. Walters, DSC, RN) and HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN) departed Freetown to proceed to a rendez-vous position off the Azores.

On 5 August 1942, the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) and the the destroyers HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN), HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN) and HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN) departed Gibraltar also to the rendez-vous position off the Azores.

The convoy conducted maneuvering and AA exercises with the escorts between the Azores and Gibraltar during the period of 6 to 9 August. (Operation Berserk). Also dummy air attacks were carried out by aircraft from the carriers.

Passage of the Straits of Gibraltar and organization of escort forces.

The convoy then passed the Straits of Gibraltar during the night of 9/10 August 1942 in dense fog but despite this the convoy was detected by German and Italian spies and reported.

After passing the Straits of Gibraltar the convoy was organized as follows;
The actual convoy was protected a large force of warships until the whole force would split up before entering the Sicilian narrows after which ‘Force X’ under command of Rear-Admiral Sir H.M. Burrough, CB, DSO, RN was to accompany the convoy to the approaches to Malta where they would be met by the Malta Minesweeping Flotilla, which was then to sweep the convoy into the harbour. Force X was made up of the following ships:
Licht cruisers: HMS Nigeria (flagship), HMS Kenya,, HMS Manchester.
AA cruiser: HMS Cairo (A/Capt. C.C. Hardy, DSO, RN).
Destroyers: HMS Ashanti, HMS Fury, HMS Foresight, HMS Icarus, HMS Intrepid, HMS Pathfinder and HMS Penn.
Escort destroyers: HMS Derwent, HMS Bicester (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN), HMS Bramham (Lt. E.F. Baines, RN), HMS Ledbury (Lt.Cdr. R.P. Hill, RN) and HMS Wilton (Lt. A.P. Northey, RN). Also the rescue tug HMS Jaunty was to be part of this force.

After the escort was to be split up cover was provided by ‘Force Z’ under Vice-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN. This force was made up of the following ships:
Battleships: HMS Nelson (flagship) and HMS Rodney.
Aircraft carriers: HMS Victorious, HMS Indomitable and HMS Eagle.
Light cruisers: HMS Phoebe, HMS Sirius and HMS Charybdis.
Destroyers: HMS Laforey, HMS Lightning, HMS Lookout, HMS Eskimo, HMS Somali, HMS Tartar, HMS Quentin, HMS Ithuriel (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill-Crichton, DSC, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair), HMS Wishart and HMS Vansittart. Escort destroyer: HMS Zetland. Also attached were the aircraft carrier HMS Furious (for Operation Bellows, the launching of Hurricane fighters for Malta. HMS Furious only carried four Albacore aircraft for A/S searches after the Hurricanes had been launched) and the ‘spare’ destroyers HMS Keppel (Cdr. J.E. Broome, RN), HMS Malcolm, HMS Venomous, HMS Vidette (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN), HMS Westcott, HMS Wolverine, HMS Wrestler and HMS Amazon. These ‘spare’ destroyers were to take the place of destroyers in the screen ‘Force Z’ if needed, escort HMS Furious during her return passage to Gibraltar after she had completed Operation Bellows and / or strengthen the escort of ‘Force R’.

Then there was also ‘Force R’, the fuelling force. This force was made up of the following ships:
Corvettes: HMS Jonquil (Lt.Cdr. R.E.H. Partington, RD, RNR), HMS Spiraea (Lt.Cdr. R.S. Miller, DSC, RNR), HMS Geranium (T/Lt. A. Foxall, RNR) and HMS Coltsfoot (T/Lt. the Hon. W.K. Rous, RNVR).
Rescue tug: HMS Salvonia.
RFA tankers: RFA Brown Ranger (3417 GRT, built 1941, Master D.B.C. Ralph) and RFA Dingledale (8145 GRT, built 1941, Master R.T. Duthie).

Before we give an account of the passage of the main convoy we will now first describe the operations taking place in the Eastern Mediterranean (Operations MG 3 and MG 4), the launching of the Hurricane fighters for Malta by HMS Furious (Operation Bellows) and the return convoy from Malta (Operation Ascendant) as well as on submarine operations / dispositions.

Diversion in the Eastern Mediterranean.

As part of the plan for Operation Pedestal the Mediterranean Fleet had to carry out a diversion in the Eastern part of the Mediterranean. Before we go to the operations in the Western Mediterranean we will first give an account of the events in the Eastern Mediterranean.

It was at this time not possible to sent any supplies from Egypt to Malta as all supplies and forces were much needed for the upcoming land battle at El Alamein it was agreed that ‘a dummy convoy’ would be sent towards Malta with the object of preventing the enemy to direct the full weight of their air and naval power towards the Western Mediterranean.

In the evening of 10 August 1942 a ‘convoy’ (MG 3) of three merchant ships departed Port Said escorted by three cruisers and ten destroyers. Next morning one more merchant ship departed Haifa escorted by two cruisers and five destroyers. The two forces joined that day (the 11th) and then turned back dispersing during the night. The Italian fleet however did not go to sea to attack ‘the bait’.

The forces taking part in this operation were:
From Port Said:
Merchant vessels City of Edinburgh (8036 GRT, built 1938), City of Lincoln (8039 GRT, built 1938) and City of Pretoria (8049 GRT, built 1937) escorted by the light cruisers HMS Arethusa (Capt. A.C. Chapman, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral I.G. Glennie, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO, DSC, RN), the AA cruiser HMS Coventry (Capt. R.J.R. Dendy, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. A.L. Poland, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. M.S. Townsend, OBE, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Pakenham (Capt. E.B.K. Stevens, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Paladin (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Dulverton(Lt.Cdr. W.N. Petch, OBE, RN), HMS Hurworth (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, RN), HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, DSC, RN), HMS Hursley (Lt. W.J.P. Church, DSC, RN), HMS Beaufort (Lt.Cdr. S.O’G Roche, RN) and HMS Belvoir (Lt. J.F.D. Bush, DSC and Bar, RN).

From Haifa:
Merchant vessel Ajax (7797 GRT, built 1931) escorted by the light cruisers HMS Cleopatra (Capt. G. Grantham, DSO, RN, flagship of Rear-Admiral P.L. Vian, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN), the destroyers HMS Sikh (Capt. St.J. A. Micklethwait, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Javelin (Cdr. G.E. Fardell, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Tetcott (Lt. H.R. Rycroft, RN) and HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN).

After dark on 11 August 1942 the force turned back and the City of Pretoria returned to Port Said escorted by HMS Eridge and HMS Hursley. The City of Edinburgh, escorted by HMS Beaufort and HMS Belvoir proceeded to Haifa. The City of Lincoln escorted by HMS Dulverton and HMS Hurworth proceeded to Beirut and finally the Ajax, escorted by HMS Tetcott and HMS Croome returned to Haifa. HMS Dido had to return to Port Said with hull defects. She was escorted by HMS Pakenham, HMS Paladin and HMS Jervis.

HMS Cleopatra, HMS Arethusa, HMS Sikh, HMS Zulu, HMS Javelin and HMS Kelvin then proceeded to carry out another diversion (Operation MG 4). They bombarded Rhodos harbour and the Alliotti Flour Mills during the night of 12/13 August but did little damage. On the way back HMS Javelin attacked a submarine contact in position 34°45’N, 31°04’E between 0654 and 0804 hours. She reported that there was no doubt that the submarine was sunk but no Axis submarines were operating in this area so the attack must have been bogus. This force returned to Haifa at 1900/13.

Operation Bellows.

During operation Bellows, the aircraft carrier HMS Furious, started 37 Spitfire which were to proceed to Malta, when south of the Balearic Islands. The Admiralty had decided to carry out this operation at the same time as Operation Pedestal.

HMS Furious remained with the convoy until 1200/11. She then launched the Spitfires for Malta in 5 batches between 1230 and 1515 hours. During these flying off operations she acted independently with the destroyers HMS Lookout and HMS Lightning. After having launched the last batch of Spitfires she briefly re-joined to convoy until around 1700 hours when she split off and set course for Gibraltar escorted by the destroyers HMS Malcolm, HMS Wolverine and HMS Wrestler. These were joined shortly afterwards by HMS Keppel and HMS Venomous.

Around 0100/12, HMS Wolverine, rammed and sank the Italian submarine Dagabur which was trying to attack HMS Furious. Around 0200 hours, HMS Wolverine reported that she was stopped due to the damage she had sustained in the ramming. HMS Malcolm was detached to assist her.

At 1530/12, the destroyer HMS Vidette joined the screen. The force then entered Gibraltar Bay around 1930/12. The damaged HMS Wolverine arrived at Gibraltar at 1230/13 followed by HMS Malcolm around 1530/13.

Operation Ascendant

On 10 August 1942 the empty transports Troilus (7648 GRT, built 1921) and Orari (10107 GRT, built 1931) departed Malta after dark for Gibraltar. They were escorted by the destroyer HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Badsworth (Lt. G.T.S. Gray, DSC, RN). They first proceeded to the south of Lampedusa, then hugged the Tunisian coast as far as Galita Island. Near Cape Bon they encountered the Italian destroyer Lanzerotto Malocello that was laying a minefield. They had a brief gunfight but this was soon ended as both sides were thinking the enemy was Vichy-French. The remained of the passage to Gibraltar was uneventful and the convoy arrived at Gibraltar shortly before noon on 14 August 1942.

Submarine operations / dispositions.
Eight submarines took part in the operation; these were HMS Utmost (Lt. A.W. Langridge, RN), HMS P 31 (Lt. J.B.de B. Kershaw, DSO, RN), HMS P 34 (Lt. P.R.H. Harrison, DSC, RN), HMS P 42 (Lt. A.C.G. Mars, RN), HMS P 44 (Lt. T.E. Barlow, RN), HMS P 46 (Lt. J.S. Stevens, DSC, RN), HMS P 211 (Cdr. B. Bryant, DSC, RN), HMS P 222 (Lt.Cdr. A.J. MacKenzie, RN). Two of these were to carry out normal dived patrol to the north of Sicily, one off Palermo, the other off Milazzo which is futher to the east. The other six submarines were given alternative patrol lines south of Pantelleria, one od which they were to take up at dawn on 13 August 1942, according to the movements of enemy surface ships that might threathen the convoy from the westward. When the convoy had passed the patrol line, which it should have done by that time, the submarines were to proceed on the surface parallel to the convoy as a screen and to dive away clear of the convoy at noon. It was expressly intended that they should be seen on the surface and reported by enemy aircraft in order to deter enemy warships from attacking the convoy.

Enemy warships did go to sea but as soon as it was clear that the enemy ships could not reach the convoy the sunmarines were ordered to dive and retire. These six sumarines had no contact with the enemy. One of the the two submarines off the north coast of Sicily, HMS P 42, managed to torpedo two Italian cruisers near Stromboli on the morning of 13 August 1942.

Now we return to the main convoy to Malta.

Passage eastwards after passing the Straits of Gibraltar.

10 and 11 August 1942.

After passing through the Straits of Gibraltar in the early hours of 10 August 1942, in dense fog, the convoy was first sighted by an Italian passenger aircraft, which sighted the convoy in the afternoon of the same day. German reconnaissance aircraft started shadowing the convoy from dawn on the 11th, and thereafter they or Italian aircraft kept the convoy under continuous observation, despite the effort of the fighters from the carriers to shoot them down or drive them off. At 1315 hours, HMS Eagle, was hit an sunk by torpedoes from the German submarine U-73 which had penetrated the destroyer screen. At that moment there were thirteen destroyers in the screen, the remainder was away from the main convoy, escorting HMS Furious during the flying off operations of the Hurricane fighters for Malta or oiling from and screening ‘Force R’ which was several miles away. Between 1430/10 and and 2030/11 no less then three cruisers and twenty-four destroyers fuelled from the two oilers of ‘Force R’.

At the time of the torpedoing of HMS Eagle the convoy was in four columns, zigzagging at 13 knots, with the heavy ships stationed close round it and a destroyer screen ahead. HMS Eagle was on the starboard quarter of the convoy. She was hit on her starboard side by four torpedoes which had dived through the destroyer screen and the convoy columns undetected and then torpedoed and sank the Eagle in position 38°05’N, 03°02’E (Another source gives 03°12’E but this might be a typo). The carrier sank quickly in about 8 minutes, 926 of her crew, including the Commanding Officer, were rescued by the destroyers HMS Laforey and HMS Lookout and the rescue tug HMS Jaunty. At the time of her sinking, HMS Eagle had four aircraft on patrol. These landed on the other carriers. All other aircraft were lost with the ship. The survivors picked up were later transferred to the destroyers HMS Keppel, HMS Malcolm and HMS Venomous that were to escort HMS Furious back to Gibraltar. The tug HMS Jaunty that had been involved in picking up survivors was never able to rejoin the convoy due to her slow speed.

Late in the afternoon air attacks were expected so Vice-Admiral Syfret ordered the destroyer to form an all-round screen. Indeed the air attacks started around sunset, 2045 hours. The last destroyers had just returned from oiling from ‘Force R’. The enemy aircraft that were attacking were 36 German bombers and torpedo aircraft, Ju 88’s and He 111’s, most of which attacked the convoy but a few attacked ‘Force R’ to the southward. The Junkers arrived first, diving down from 8000 feet to 2000 / 3000 feet to drop their bombs. They claimed to have hit an aircraft carrier and one of the merchant ships. Then the Heinkels attacked, they claimed to have torpedoed a cruiser but during the attacks no ship was hit. The British fighter cover was unable to attack / find the enemy in the failing light. Four enemy aircraft were claimed shot down by the ships AA fire but it appears only two JU 88’s were in fact shot down.

12 August 1942

At 0915/12 another wave of German aircraft attacked the convoy. Some twenty or more JU 88’s approached the convoy out of the sun ahead. They were intercepted by fighters about 25 miles from the convoy. About a dozen got through to the convoy, making high-level or shallow dive-bombing attacks individually but without any result. Eight German aircraft were claimed to be shot down by the fighters and two more by AA guns from the ships. The fighters meanwhile were also busy dealng with shadowers, three of which are claimed to have been shot down before the morning attack. Around this time destroyers were also busy with numerous submarine contact which were attacked by depth charges.

Around noon the enemy launched heavy air attacks from the Sardinian airfields. Seventy aircraft approached which were heavily escorted by fighters. They attacked in stages and employed new methods.

First ten Italian torpedo-bombers were each to drop some sort of circling torpedo or mine a few hundred yards ahead of the British force, while eight fighter bombers made dive-bombing and machine-gun attacks. The object at this stage was clearly to dislocate the formation of the force and to draw anti-aircraft fire, making the ships more vulnerable to a torpedo attack which soon followed with over forty aircraft. They attacked in two groups, one on either bow of the convoy. The next stage was a shallow dive-bombing attack by German aircraft, after which two Italian Reggiane 2001 fighters, each with a single heavy armour-piercing bomb were to dive bomb on one of the aircraft carriers, whilst yet another new form of attack was to be employed against the other carrier, but defects in the weapon prevented this attack from taking place.

The enemy attack went according to plan besides that the torpedo attack was only made half an our after the ‘mines’ were dropped instead of five minutes. British fighters met the minelaying aircraft, they shot down one of them as they approached. The remaining nine aircraft dropped their ‘mines’ at 1215 hours in the path of the force, which turned to avoid the danger. The mines were heard to explode several minutes later. Only three of the fighter-bombers of this stage of the attack appear to have reached as far the screen, but HMS Lightning had a narrow escape from their bombs.

The torpedo-aircraft appeared at 1245 hours. Their number were brought down a bit due to British fighters. The remaining aircraft, estimated at 25 to 30 machines, attacked from the port bow, port beam and starboard quarter. They dropped their torpedoes well outside the screen some 8000 yards from the merchant ships which they had been ordered to attack. The force turned 45° to port and then back to starboard to avoid the attack.

In the next stage, around 1318 hours, the German bombing attack, the enemy scored their one success. These aircraft were also intercepted on their way in but about a dozen of about twenty aircraft came through. They crossed the convoy from starboard to port and then dived to 3000 feet. They managed to damage the transport Deucalion which was leading the port wing column. More bombs fell close to several other ships.

Finally, at 1345 hours, the two Reggiane fighters approached HMS Victorious as if to land on. They looked like Hurricanes and HMS Victorious was at that time engaged in landing her own fighters. They managed to drop their bombs and one hit the flight deck amidships. Fortunately the bomb broke up without exploding. By the time HMS Victorious could open fire both fighters were out of range.

The Deucalion could no longer keep up with the convoy and was ordered to follow the inshore route along the Tunisian coast escorted by HMS Bramham. Two bombers found these ships late in the afternoon, but their bombs missed. At 1940 hours, however, near the Cani Rocks, two torpedo aircraft attacked and a torpedo hit the Deucalion. She caught fire and eventually blew up.

The convoy passed some 20 miles north of Galita Island and spent the afternoon avoiding enemy submarines which were known to be concentrated in these waters. There were innumerable reports of sightings and Asdic contacts and at least two submarines proved dangerous. At 1616 hours, HMS Pathfinder and HMS Zetland attacked one on the port bow of the convoy and hunted her until the convoy was out of reach. HMS Ithuriel, stationed on the quarter, then attacked, forced the enemy to surface and finally rammed her. She proved to be the Italian submarine Cobalto. Meanwhile HMS Tartar, on the starboard quarter, saw six torpedoes fired at close range at 1640 hours, and the next destroyer in the screen, HMS Lookout sighted a periscope. Together they attacked the submarine, continuing until it was no longer dangerous. There was no evidence this submarine was sunk.

At 1750 hours, HMS Ithuriel, which was on her way back to the convoy after sinking the Italian submarine Cobalto was attacked by a few dive-bombers, when still a dozen miles astern of the convoy. At this time the convoy came under attack by aircraft stationed on Sicily. This force numbered nearly 100 aircraft. Ju.87 dive-bombers as well as Ju.88’s and SM-79’s all with a strong escort of fighters. The enemy started attacking at 1835 hours, the bombers attacking from both ahead and astern which last was the direction of the sun. The torpedo aircraft came from ahead to attack on the starboard bow and beam of the convoy.

The Italian SM-79’s torpedo bombers dropped their torpedoes from ranges of about 3000 yards outside the destroyer screen, and once again the convoy turned away to avoid them. However the destroyer HMS Foresight was hit by a torpedo and disabled. The bombers chose HMS Indomitable as their main target. She was astern of HMS Rodney at the time on the port quarter of the convoy. Four Ju.88’s and eight Ju.87’s came suddenly out of the sun and dived steeply towards HMS Indomitable from astern. Some of the Ju.87 came down to 1000 feet and the carrier received three hits and her flight deck was put out of action. Her airborne fighters eventually had to land on HMS Victorious. HMS Rodney meanwhile had a narrow escape when a bomber attacked from ahead. One enemy aircraft was claimed to have been shot down by AA fire from the ships while the fighters claimed nine more although there were about twice as much enemy fighters in the air then British.

HMS Tartar took the damaged HMS Foresight in tow and proceeded westward for Gibraltar. Next day, as they were shadowed by enemy aircraft, and enemy submarines were known to be in the area, it was decided to scuttle the cripple before both ships might be lost. HMS Tartar then torpedoed HMS Foresight a few miles from Galita Island.

Passage through the narrows, 12-13 August 1942, and the loss off HMS Manchester.

These last air attacks took place about 20 nautical miles west of the Skerki Channel and at 1900 hours, when the attacks were clearly over, Vice-Admiral Syfret turned away with ‘Force Z’. It was now up to Rear-Admiral Burrough with ‘Force X’ to take the convoy to Malta.

At 2000 hours, when the convoy was changing it’s formation from four to two columns, the convoy was attacked by Italian submarines. The submarine Dessiè attacked a freighter with four torpedoes and claimed three hits. The sound of the torpedo hits was however not caused by her attack but by an attack by the Axum which hit three ships, HMS Nigeria, HMS Cairo and the tanker Ohio.

HMS Nigeria had to turn back to make for Gibraltar escorted by the escort destroyers HMS Derwent, HMS Wilton and HMS Bicester. Rear-Admiral Burrough transferred his flag to the destroyer HMS Ashanti. The stern of HMS Cairo had been blown off and she had to be sunk as she was beyond salvage with both engines also out of action. She was scuttled by HMS Pathfinder. The Ohio meanwhile managed to struggle on.

At this time the convoy was still trying to form up the the submarine attacks messed things up and right at thus time the convoy was once more attacked from the air in the growing dusk at 2030 hours. About 20 German aircraft, Ju-88’s made dive bombing and torpedo attacks, hitting the Empire Hope with a bomb and the Clan Ferguson and Brisbane Star with torpedoes. The first of these ships had to be sunk (by HMS Bramham, the second blew up but the last eventually reached Malta. Soon after this attack, at 2111 hours, HMS Kenya was torpedoed by the Italian submarine Alagi. She was able to evade three of the four torpedoes but was hit in the bow by the fouth. She was however able to remain with the convoy.

The situation was then as follows. HMS Kenya and HMS Manchester with two merchant ships, and with the minesweeping destroyers HMS Intrepid, HMS Icarus and HMS Fury sweeping ahead, had passed the Skerki Channel and were steering to pass Zembra Island on the way to Cape Bon. HMS Ashanti, with Rear-Admiral Burrough on board was fast overhauling these ships. The other two destroyers HMS Pathfinder, HMS Penn and the escort destroyer HMS Ledbury, were rounding up the remaining nine merchant ships. The escort destroyer HMS Bramham was also catching up after having escorted the single Deucalion until she sank.

On learing about the fate of HMS Nigeria and HMS Cairo, Vice-Admiral Syfret detached HMS Charybdis, HMS Eskimo and HMS Somali to reinforce Rear-Admiral Burrough. It would take these ships several hourse to catch up with the convoy.

The main body of the convoy passed Cape Bon around midnight. Fourty minutes later enemy Motor Torpedo Boats appeared and started to attack. Their first victim was HMS Manchester which was torpedoed at 0120/13 by the Italian MS 16 or MS 22. She had to be scuttled by her own crew. Many of her ships company landed in Tunisia and were interned by the Vichy-French but about 300 were picked up by destroyers (first by HMS Pathfinder, and later by HMS Eskimo and HMS Somali. These last two destoyers then set off towards Gibraltar.)

Four and possibly five of the merchant ships were also hit by the Motor Torpedo Boats. These were the Wairangi, Rochester Castle, Almeria Lykes, Santa Elisa and probably the Glenorchy. They were attacked between 0315 and 0430 hours about 15 nautical miles south-east of Kelibia whilst taking a short cut to overhaul the main body of the convoy. Four were lost, only the Rochester Castle survived and she managed to catch up with the main body of the convoy at 0530 hours. The Glenorchy was sunk by the Italian MS 31, the other four, of which the Rochester Castle survived as mentioned earlier, were hit by the German S 30 and S 36 as well as the Italian MAS 554 and MAS 557.

Shortly before 0530 hours HMS Charybdis, HMS Eskimo and HMS Somali had joined the main body of the convoy making the force now two cruisers and seven destroyers with the transports Rochester Castle, Waimarama and Melbourne Star. The damaged tanker Ohio was slowly catching up. With her was the escort destroyer HMS Ledbury. Astern of the main body was the Port Chalmers escorted by the destroyer HMS Penn and the escort destroyer HMS Bramham. The destroyers recued the crew of the Santa Elisa when the passed by the abandoned ship which was afterwards finished off by a German bomber. The Dorset was proceeding without escort and lastly the damaged Brisbane Star was still keeping close to the Tunisian coast independently, intending to steer towards Malta after nightfall.

At 0730 hours, Rear-Admiral Burrough, sent back HMS Tartar and HMS Somali to Kelibia to assist HMS Manchester and then go to Gibraltar. When they arrived they found out that the Manchester had been scuttled several hours earlier so they rescued those of her crew that had not reached the shore yet and then made off to Gibraltar as ordered. Besides crew of the Manchester they also picked up survivors from the Almeria Lykes and Wairangi.

The next encounter with the enemy was an air attack on the main body of the convoy at 0800 hours by German bombers. About 12 Ju.88’s made a shallow diving attack coming down from 6000 feet to 2000 feet to drop their bombs. Two dived on the Waimarama hitting her several times and she blew up immediately, one of the bombers was even destroyed in the explosion. HMS Ledbury saved some of her crew out of the blazing sea. At 0925 hours, when the Ohio, Port Chalmers and Dorset where with the main body again, a few Ju.87’s escorted by Italian fighters attacked. They dived down to 1500 to 1000 feet. HMS Kenya leading the port column, and the Ohio last ship but one in the starboard column, had narrow escapes. One of the enemy aircraft crashed on board the Ohio just after having released it’s bomb after being damaged by gunfire from the Ohio and HMS Ashanti. Another aircraft was claimed to have been shot down by fighters from Malta that had been patrolling overhead since daybreak.

Arrivals at Malta 13-15 August 1942.

At 1050 hours, about 20 bombers, mostly Ju.88’s with a few Ju.87’s, came in to attack. Target was the Ohio and she received four or five near misses and her engines were disabled. At the same time the Rochester Castle in the port column was near-missed and set on fire but she continued with the convoy. The Dorset which was astern of her was hit and stopped. The convoy went on leaving the Dorset behind with the Ohio and two destroyers.

At 1125 hours the last air attack on the main body took place. Five Italian SM.79’s attacked with torpedoes and almost hit the Port Chalmers as the torpedo got stuck in the paravane. Further attacks on the main body were held of by fighters from Malta. At 1430 hours, four minesweepers from Malta joined the main body of the convoy, these were HMS Speedy (Lt.Cdr. A.E. Doran, RN, with the group’s commander A/Cdr. H.J.A.S. Jerome, RN on board), HMS Hebe, HMS Rye and HMS Heyte. Also with them were seven Motor Launches; ML 121, ML 126, ML 134, ML 135, ML 168, ML 459 and ML 462. HMS Rye and two of the ML’s were sent towards the damaged Ohio which was ‘vital for Malta’, according to A/Cdr. Jerome.

At 1600 hours, Rear-Admiral Burrough, set course to the west with his two cruisers and with five destroyers. The Port Chalmers, Melbourne Star and Rochester Castle arrived in Grand Harbour around 1800 hours with the force of A/Cdr. Jerome. The Rochester Castle was by that time very low in the water, she had just made it into port on time.

Out were still the Ohio, Dorset and the Brisbane Star. The valuable Ohio had been helpless with HMS Penn and HMS Bramham. When HMS Rye arrived at 1730 hours, HMS Penn took the Ohio in tow. Meanwhile HMS Bramham was sent to the Dorset but soon afterwards German bombers came again and the ships were attacked repeatedly until dark. Both merchantman were hit around 1900 hours and the Dorset sank.

At daylight on the 14th HMS Ledbury arrived to help bringing the Ohio to Malta. HMS Speedy also soon arrived on the scene with two ML’s. The rest of his force he had sent to search for the Brisbane Star. At 1045 hours, enemy aircraft made their last attempt, causing the parting of the tow. Fighter from Malta shot down two of the attackers. The tow was passed again and the slow procession went on and in the morning of the 15th the vital tanker finally reached Malta.

The Brisbane Star had by then also arrived. She left the Tunisian coast at dusk on the 13th. Aircraft had attacked her unsuccessfully and one of the attackers was shot down by a Beaufighter escort that had been sent from Malta. She arrived at Malta in the afternoon of the 14th.

Italian surface ships to operate against the convoy ?

The convoy had experienced the violence of the enemy in every shape except that of an attack by large surface ships. Yet Italian cruisers and destroyers had been at sea to intercept and attack it. Two light cruiser had left Cagliari in the evening of 11 August 1942 and the heavy cruisers Gorizia and Bolzano from Messina, and a light cruiser from Naples had sailed on the morning of the 12th. That evening reconnaissance aircraft reported one heavy and two light cruisers with eight destroyers about 80 nautical miles to the north of the western tip of Sicily and steering south. It would have been possible for this force to meet the convoy at dawn on the 13th so the shadowing aircraft was therefore ordered in plain language to illuminate and attack. This apparently influenced the Italians as they had limited air cover and they turned back at 0130/13 when near Cape San Vito. At 0140 hours the aircraft reported that it had dropped its bombs but no hits had been obtained. Similar orders were signalled, in plain language, to relief shadowers and to report the position of the enemy force to the benefit of imaginary Liberator bombers in case the Italians would change their minds and turn back. They however held on to the eastward.

The submarine HMS P 42 sighted them around 0800/13 off Stromboli and attacked with four torpedoes claiming two hits. She had in fact hit the heavy cruiser Bolzano which was able to proceed northwards and the light cruiser Muzio Attendolo which managed to reach Messina with her bows blown off. The other cruisers went to Naples. Following the attack P 42 was heavily depth charged by the destroyers but managed to escape.

In fact the following Italian ships had been at sea; heavy cruisers Gorizia, Trieste, Bolzano, light cruisers Eugenio di Savoia Raimondo Montecuccoli, Muzio Attendolo. They were escorted by eleven destroyers; Ascari, Aviere, Camicia Nera, Corsaro, Fuceliere, Geniere, Legionaro, Vincenzo Gioberti, Alfredo Oriani, Grecale and Maestrale.

The return to Gibraltar.

The British ships returning to Gibraltar had better fortune. Having left the convoy off Malta in the afternoon of the 13th, they rounded Cape Bon around 0130/14 and from that point until past Zembra Island they successful ran the gauntled of E-boats laying in wait.

at 0450/14, near the Fratelli Rocks, a submarine fired torpedoes at HMS Ashanti from the surface. She was nearly rammed by HMS Kenya, which was next astern of the ‘flagship’ (Rear-Admiral Burrough was still in HMS Ashanti). The inevitable shadowers arrived soon after daylight to herald their air attacks that began at 0730 hours. They lasted until around 1315 hours. German bombers came in first with three attemps by a few Ju.88’s. This was followed by a more severe attack with about 30 bombers, Ju-88’s and Ju-87’s between 1030 and 1050 hours. An hour later 15 Savoia high-level bombers attacked followed until 1315 hours by torpedo-carrying Savoia’s. Around 20 aircraft attacking single or in pairs. Also aircraft are though to be laying mines ahead. Several ships were near missed, but no further damage was sustained. After these attacks the British were left alone and in the evening they joined ‘Force Z’.

Vice-Admiral Syfret had gone as far west as 01’E where he ordered the damaged carrier HMS Indomitable to proceed to Malta with HMS Rodney and a destroyer screen made up of HMS Ithuriel, HMS Antelope, HMS Amazon, HMS Westcott, HMS Wishart and HMS Zetland. He then turned back to the east to make rendez-vous with Rear-Admiral Burrough. HMS Rodney, HMS Indomitable, HMS Ithuriel, HMS Antelope, HMS Amazon, HMS Westcott, HMS Wishart and HMS Zetland arrived at Gibraltar in the evening of the 14th.

A few hours before they arrived the damaged HMS Nigeria and her escort had also entered port, as had HMS Tartar, HMS Eskimo and HMS Somali. On her way back HMS Nigeria had been attacked by torpedo-bombers and a submarine but she had not been hit.

Conclusion.

Out of the fourteen ships that had sailed only five arrived ‘safe’ at Malta. This was not a very high score also given the very heavy escort that had been provided also taken in mind that an aircraft carrier, a light cruiser, an AA cruiser an a destroyer had been lost and two heavy cruiser had been damaged. But the convoy had to meet very heavy air attacks by over 150 bombers and 80 torpedo aircraft, all in the space of two days. Also these aircraft were protected by fighter in much greater strength that the carriers and Malta could provide. And there were also the enemy submarines and E-boats.

The spirit in which to operation was carried out appears in Vice-Admiral Syfret’s report: ‘ Tribute has been paid to the personnel of His Majesty’s Ships, both the officers and men will desire to give first place to the conduct, courage, and determination of the masters, officers, and men of the merchant ships. The steadfast manner in which these ships pressed on their way to Malta through all attacks, answering every maneuvering order like a well trained fleet unit, was a most inspiring sight. Many of these fine men and their ships were lost. But the memory of their conduct will remain an inspiration to all who were privileged to sail with them. ‘ (6)

23 Aug 1942
In the afternoon, the battleships HMS Malaya (Capt. J.W.A. Waller, RN) and HMS Ramillies (Cdr. L.N. Brownfield, RN), departed Freetown for Gibraltar. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Poe, RN), HMS Velox (Lt. G.B. Barstow, RN) and HMS Wivern (Cdr. M.D.C. Meyrick, RN).

HMS Velox was detached on the 24th and returned to Freetown.

At 0900/25, they were joined by the destroyer HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN).

At 1620/26, the destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN) and HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN). Shortly afterwards HMS Brilliant, HMS Vansittart and HMS Wivern parted company.

At 1350/27, the destroyers HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN) and HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN) joined.

At 0245/28, HMS Laforey was detached.

At 1600/28, the destroyer HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN) joined.

Around 2030/28, the force arrived at Gibraltar. (7)

29 Sep 1942
The battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. J.W.A. Waller, RN) and the destroyers HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN), HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN), HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN) and HMS Wivern (Cdr. M.D.C. Meyrick, RN) conducted exercises to the east of Gibraltar. (8)

30 Sep 1942
HMS Malaya (Capt. J.W.A. Waller, RN) departed Gibraltar for the Clyde. She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN) and HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN).

They were joined by the destroyers HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMS Quentin (Lt.Cdr. A.H.P. Noble, DSC, RN) around 1030 hours on October, 5th.

The force arrived in the Clyde around 1800 hours on October, 5th. (8)

6 Oct 1942
HMS Malaya (Capt. J.W.A. Waller, RN) departed Greenock for the Rosyth. She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN) and HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN). (9)

8 Oct 1942
HMS Malaya (Capt. J.W.A. Waller, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN) and HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN) arrived at Rosyth.

HMS Malaya was to refit at Rosyth. (9)

23 Oct 1942
Around 1700A/23, the battleship HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Gibraltar. She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN) and HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN). (10)

29 Oct 1942
Around 1115A/29, HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN) and HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN) arrived at Gibraltar. (11)

30 Oct 1942
' Force H ' departed Scapa Flow to participate in the landings in North Africa (Operation Torch). This force was made up of the battleships HMS Duke of York (Capt. G.E. Creasy, DSO, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Vice-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), HMS Nelson (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN), battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. C.S. Daniel, CBE, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Argonaut (Capt. E.W.L. Longley-Cook, RN). They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, RN), HMS Martin (Cdr. C.R.P. Thomson, DSO, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. H.W.S. Browning, OBE, RN), HMS Ashanti (Cdr. R.G. Onslow, DSO, RN), HMS Tartar (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) and HMS Eskimo (Capt. J.W.M. Eaton, DSO, DSC, RN).

Around 1000/31, they made rendezvous with the aircraft carriers HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral A.L.St.G. Lyster, CB, CVO, DSO, RN) and HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN) and their escort of the destroyers HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Partridge (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, OBE, RN), HMS Porcupine (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN), HMS Quality (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, DSO, RN) and HMS Quentin (Lt.Cdr. A.H.P. Noble, DSC, RN). These ships had departed the Clyde around 2300/30.

At 1600/2 the destroyers HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN), HMS Opportune (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN), HMS Beagle (Cdr. R.C. Medley, DSO, RN), HMS Boadicea (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Poe, RN), HMS Bulldog (Cdr. M. Richmond, OBE, DSO, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Avon Vale (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN) and HMS Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar to make rendezvous with ' Force H '. They joined around 0730/4 after which HMS Argonaut, HMS Milne, HMS Martin, HMS Meteor, HMS Quality, HMS Quentin, HMAS Quiberon, HMS Pathfinder, HMS Partridge, HMS Ashanti, HMS Eskimo and HMS Tartar, parted company to proceed to Gibraltar to fuel. These ships arrived at Gibraltar around 1430/5. Of the original screen only HMS Porcupine remained with ' Force H ' at this moment.

Around 1730/4, the light cruiser HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN) joined.

Around 0830/5, the destroyer HrMs Isaac Sweers (Capt. W. Harmsen, RNN) joined from convoy KMF 1.

around 1400/5, the escort destroyers HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN) and HMS Farndale (Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN) joined. They had sailed from Gibraltar at 0700/5.

Around 1740/5, HMS Duke of York and HMS Renown parted company to fuel in the Bay of Gibraltar. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Panther, HMS Penn, HMS Opportune, HMS Lookout, HMS Beagle and HMS Bulldog. The remaining ships remained to the west of the Straits of Gibraltar.

Around 2200/5, the remaining ships; HMS Nelson, HMS Victorious, HMS Formidable, HMS Bermuda, HMS Porcupine, HMS Boadicea, HMS Brilliant, HrMs Isaac Sweers, HMS Avon Vale, HMS Calpe, HMS Farndale and HMS Puckeridge set course to the west to the Straits of Gibraltar.

On passing the Straits, HMS Nelson escorted by HMS Porcupine and HrMs Isaac Sweers parted company around 0420/6 and proceeded to Gibraltar. They passed through the gate around one hour later.

6 Nov 1942
On 6 November 1942, ' Force H ' was (re)assambled at sea to the east of Gibraltar to provide cover during the landings in North-Africa.

Around 0430/6, the aircraft carriers HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral A.L.St.G. Lyster, CB, CVO, DSO, RN), HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN), destroyers HMS Boadicea (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Poe, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Avon Vale (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN), HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN), HMS Farndale (Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN) and HMS Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN) entered the Mediterranean.

They were then joined by ships coming from Gibraltar (Bay), these were the battleships HMS Duke of York (Capt. G.E. Creasy, DSO, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Vice-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. C.S. Daniel, CBE, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Argonaut (Capt. E.W.L. Longley-Cook, RN), destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, RN), HMS Martin (Cdr. C.R.P. Thomson, DSO, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), HMS Quality (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, DSO, RN) and HMS Quentin (Lt.Cdr. A.H.P. Noble, DSC, RN), HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. H.W.S. Browning, OBE, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Partridge (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, OBE, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN), HMS Opportune (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN), HMS Ashanti (Cdr. R.G. Onslow, DSO, RN), HMS Eskimo (Capt. J.W.M. Eaton, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Tartar (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Beagle (Cdr. R.C. Medley, DSO, RN), HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) and HMS Bulldog (Cdr. M. Richmond, OBE, DSO, RN).

HMS Boadicea, HMS Brilliant, HMS Avon Vale, HMS Calpe, HMS Farndale and HMS Puckeridge were then detached to Gibraltar where they arrived around 0615/6.

Around 0900/6, the light cruiser HMS Sirius (Capt. P.W.B. Brooking, RN) joined.

The orders for ' Force H ' were to support the Eastern (Algiers) and Centre Task Forces (Oran) and their follow-up convoys (TE and TF) agains seaborne attack by Vichy-French or Italian Mediterranean Fleets. ' Force H ' was not to proceed eastwards of 04°30'E except to engage the enemy. Unless strong enemy forces were reported to be at sea, HMS Rodney, escorted by HMS Beagle, HMS Boreas, HMS Bulldog were to join the Centre Task Force at 0600/8. HMS Bermuda might also be detached but to join the Eastern Task Force. ' Force H ' was to refuel from ' Force R ' at sea if necessary, but if the military situation permitted, it would withdraw to the westward to refuel, possibly at Oran about 13 November, in immediate readiness for further operations. Force R ' was made up of the RFA tankders Dingledale (8145 GRT, built 1941, master R.T. Duthie) and Brown Ranger (3417 GRT, built 1941, master D.B.C. Ralph). Escort was provided by the corvette HMS Coreopsis (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Davies, RNVR) and four A/S trawlers, HMS Arctic Ranger (Skr. J.F. Banks, RNR), HMS Imperialist (T/Lt. A.R.F. Pelling, RNR), HMS Loch Oskaig (T/Lt. G.T.S. Clampitt, RNR) and HMS St. Nectan (Lt. J.B. Osborne, RANVR).

Around 1730/7, ' Force H ' was attacked by enemy aircraft in position 37°46'N, 02°52'E. HMS Panther was near missed and sustained damage. She had to return to Gibraltar, first steaming only 6 knots but later this could be increased to 14 knots. En-route she sighted an enemy submarine in position 37°46'N, 02°12'E and forced it to dive. This was U-458 which fired two torpedoes but apparently these were not sighted by the British. HMS Panther arrived at Gibraltar in the afternoon of November 8th.

At 1810/7, HMS Rodney, HMS Beagle, HMS Boreas and HMS Bulldog parted company with ' Force H ' to join the Centre Task Force. HMS Bermuda appeared to also have parted company around this time.

' Force H ' and the fuelling force, ' Force R ', cruised in the area of Algiers until 1830/8 when ' Force H ' turned north. It turned back at midnight when in position 39°00'N, 02°29'E and patrolled off Algiers again during the 9th. During the night of 9/10 November it steamed eastwards at 60 miles from the North-African coast, turning back 30 miles to the east of Bougie at midnight.

Shortly before 0300/10 (0252/10 according to German sources and 0258/10 according to British sources) the destroyer HMS Martin was torpedoed and sunk in position 37°53'N, 03°57'E by the German submarine U-431. 161 officers and ratings lost their lives. 4 Officers and 59 ratings were picked up by HMS Quentin.

By noon on 10 November ' Force H ' was in position 37°08'N, 01°36'E, between Algiers and Tenez, with ' Force R ' close at hand. From then onwards ' Force H ' patrolled 60 miles from the coast between Algiers and Cape Tenez.

' Force H ' was joined around 0630/12 by HMS Rodney and her destroyer screen now made of of the escort destroyers HMS Calpe, HMS Farndale and HMS Puckeridge.

Late in the evening of the 11th the destroyers HMS Porcupine (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Capt. W. Harmsen, RNN) departed Gibaltar to join ' Force H '. Before joining they fuelled from ' Force R ' in the evening of the 12th. They had been ordered to remain with ' Force R ' during the night to reinforce its escort and then join ' Force H ' after dawn on the 13th. However before the joined, HrMs Isaac Sweers was torpedoed and sunk by U-431, so only HMS Porcupine joined ' Force H ' early on the 13th.

At 0615/14 ' Force H ' split up to return to Gibraltar; HMS Duke of York, HMS Formidable, HMS Bermuda, HMS Argonaut, HMS Sirius, HMS Eskimo, HMS Ashanti, HMS Tartar, HMS Opportune, HMS Partridge, HMS Pathfinder, HMS Penn and HMS Porcupine arrived at Gibraltar around 0130/15.

HMS Rodney, HMS Renown, HMS Victorious, HMS Milne, HMS Meteor, HMS Quality, HMS Quentin, HMS Quiberon, HMS Lookout, HMS Calpe, HMS Farndale and HMS Puckeridge formed the other group. They were joined at 0630/15 by HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, RN) and HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN). They returned to Gibraltar around 1800/15 but HMS Rodney was not able to berth and had to steam up and down in Gibraltar Bay until late in the evening when she anchorded there. The destroyers HMS Pathfinder, HMS Penn, HMS Opportune and HMS Tartar were sent out to patrol to the seaward of the Bay.

16 Nov 1942
Around 1030Z/16, ' Force H ' departed Gibraltar for a patrol off the Balearic Islands to provide cover for the ongoing operations off the North-African Coast. ' Force H ' was now made up of the battleships Nelson HMS Nelson (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Vice-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), HMS Furious (Capt. T.O. Bulteel, RN), light cruisers HMS Argonaut (Capt. E.W.L. Longley-Cook, RN), HMS Sirius (Capt. P.W.B. Brooking, RN) and the destroyers HMS Eskimo (Capt. J.W.M. Eaton, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Ashanti (Cdr. R.G. Onslow, DSO, RN), HMS Tartar (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Partridge (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, OBE, RN), HMS Porcupine (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN), HMS Opportune (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Bulldog (Cdr. M. Richmond, OBE, DSO, RN) and HMS Vanoc ( A/Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, RN).

At 1730Z/16, the destroyers HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN) and escort destroyers HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN) and HMS Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar to join ' Force H ' which they did at 1113Z/17.

HMS Bulldog and HMS Opportune then parted company to return to Gibratar.

At 1215Z/17, HMS Ashanti parted company to proceed to Mers-el-Kebir to arrange the berthing of ' Force H ' for the following day. HMS Ashanti rejoined at 0655Z/18.

' Force H ' arrived at Mers-el-Kebir around 1100Z/18. (12)

21 Nov 1942
Around 0900Z/21, ' Force H ', made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Vice-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), HMS Furious (Capt. T.O. Bulteel, RN) and the destroyers HMS Eskimo (Capt. J.W.M. Eaton, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Ashanti (Cdr. R.G. Onslow, DSO, RN), HMS Tartar (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Partridge (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, OBE, RN), HMS Porcupine (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN), HMS Vanoc ( A/Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN) and HMS Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN), departed Mers-el-Kebir for Gibraltar. ' Force H ' arrived at Gibraltar around 1800Z/22. (12)

24 Nov 1942
Around 1700/24, ' Force H ' made up of the battleship HMS Nelson (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Vice-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. C.S. Daniel, CBE, DSO, RN), HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), HMS Furious (Capt. T.O. Bulteel, RN), destroyers HMS Eskimo (Capt. J.W.M. Eaton, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Tartar (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN), HMS Partridge (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, OBE, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN), HMS Porcupine (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN) and the escort destroyer HMS Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN) sailed from Gibraltar for Mers-el-Kebir.

Weather conditions were unfavourable to enter the harbour and ' Force H ' had to remain at sea as it was not possible to enter the harbour without rist of damage to the bigger ships.

By 1345/25 weather had improved considerably and HMS Formidable was detached to Mers-el-Kebir with two of the desroyers.

At 1440/25, HMS Furious was detached to Mers-el-Kebir, also taking two destroyers with her.

At 1500/25, HMS Lookout and HMS Partridge were detached with orders to make rendezvous with the light cruisers HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, RN) and HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN).

The remainder of ' Force H ' arrived at Mers-el-Kebir around 1700/25. (13)

26 Nov 1942
The Allied intelligence services had decrypted German signals stating that the French Fleet was going to be seized by German forces. The Allies were unsure of what the Vichy-French reaction would and were afraid the Vichy-French fleet would be captured intact by the Germans. In response ' Force H ' was ordered to sea as a precaution. However when the Germans moved against the Vichy-French fleet at Toulon in the early hours of the 27th the Vichy-French scuttled almost all their ships that were present at Toulon.

Around 1600/26, ' Force H ' made up of the battleship HMS Nelson (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Vice-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. C.S. Daniel, CBE, DSO, RN), HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), HMS Furious (Capt. T.O. Bulteel, RN) departed Mers-el-Kebir to patrol south of the Balearics / north of Algiers.

[Very little information is found on this sailing and the names of the destroyers present are unknown to us for the moment but these appeared to have been the following:]
HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN), HMS Eskimo (Capt. J.W.M. Eaton, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Tartar (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Partridge (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, OBE, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN), HMS Porcupine (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN) and the escort destroyer HMS Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN).

They were joined at sea at 1700/27 by the light cruisers HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, RN) and HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) and the destroyer HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) and escort destroyer HMS Avon Vale (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN) that had sailed from Algiers at 1300/27.

All ships arrived at Mers-el-Kebir in the morning of the 30th.

4 Dec 1942
' Force H ', made up of the battleship HMS Nelson (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Vice-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. C.S. Daniel, CBE, DSO, RN), HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), HMS Furious (Capt. T.O. Bulteel, RN), light cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN), HMS Partridge (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, OBE, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN), HMS Porcupine (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN), HMS Quality (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, DSO, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN) sailed from Mers-el-Kebir and proceeded to the north-east for a patrol during the night of 4/5 December and then to proceed to Gibraltar.

On departure from Mers-el-Kebir they were joined at sea around 0945/4 by the destroyer HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. H.W.S. Browning, OBE, RN) which came from Algiers having sailed from there around 2000/3.

They arrived at Gibraltar around 1130/6.

24 Dec 1942
Around 1515A/10, ' Force H ', made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Vice-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, DSO, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. H.G. Walter, DSC, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. H.W.S. Browning, OBE, RN), ORP Blyskawica (Lt.Cdr. L. Lichodziejewski) and the escort destroyer HMS Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN) departed Mers-el-Kebir for a sweep towards Algiers after which they were to proceed to Gibraltar.

Around 1700A/24, HMS Milne and Meteor were detached.

Around 1800A/24, HMS Eskimo (Capt. J.W.M. Eaton, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Tartar (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) joined.

Around 1800A/25, HMS Dido (Capt. J. Terry, RN) joined for passage to Gibraltar.

Around 0815A/26, HMS Laforey and HMS Lightning parted company to proceed to Algiers.

' Force H ' arrived at Gibraltar around 2000A/26. (12)

2 Jan 1943
Around 0900A/2, ' Force H ', made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Vice-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), HMS Furious (Capt. T.O. Bulteel, RN), light cruiser HMS Dido (Capt. J. Terry, RN), destroyers HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Poe, RN), HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. H.W.S. Browning, OBE, RN) and ORP Blyskawica (Lt.Cdr. L. Lichodziejewski) departed Gibraltar to provide cover for the troop convoy MKS 6 during it's passage in the Mediterranean to Algiers.

Around 0930A/2, the destroyer HMS Vanoc ( A/Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, RN) joined. [She apparently parted company with ' Force H ' before it arrived at Algiers.]

Around 1215A/2, the escort destroyers HMS Avon Vale (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN), HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN) and HMS Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN) joined.

Around 0430A/3, HMS Dido parted company to proceed ahead to Algiers where she arrived around 0745A/3.

Around 1200A/3, ' Force H ' arrived at Algiers. (14)

3 Jan 1943
Around 0900A/3, ' Force H ', now made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Vice-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), HMS Furious (Capt. T.O. Bulteel, RN), destroyers HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Poe, RN), HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. H.W.S. Browning, OBE, RN), ORP Blyskawica (Lt.Cdr. L. Lichodziejewski) and the escort destroyers HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN), HMS Lamerton (Lt.Cdr. C.R. Purse, DSC, RN) and HMS Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN) departed Algiers for a sweep towards the Balearic Islands and passage to Gibraltar.

' Force H ' arrived at Gibraltar around 1000A/5. (14)

19 Jan 1943
HMS Sturgeon (Lt. A.W. Langridge, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Mers el Kebir with HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) and HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN). (15)

31 Jan 1943
The battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. W.E. Parry, CB, RN) and aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. T.O. Bulteel, RN) departed Gibraltar for the UK. On departure they were escorted by the destroyers HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Poe, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. John Henry Wallace, DSC, RN), HMS Velox (Lt. G.B. Barstow, RN), HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN) and HMS Wivern (Cdr. M.D.C. Meyrick, RN).

At 1230/31, they were joined by the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN) which was en-route from the Far East to the UK. She was at that moment escorted by the escort destroyers HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN) and HMS Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN).

These two escort destroyers were detached to Gibraltar at 1930/31 after Illustrious original destroyer screen, HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN) and HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN), returned at 1900/31 from fuelling in Casablanca.

At 1900/2, HMS Velox, HMS Wishart and HMS Wivern were detached to Plymouth.

At 1500/3, HMS Brilliant was detached to Plymouth.

At 1615/3, the destroyer HMS Escapade (Lt.Cdr. E.C. Peake, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.E.C.G. Baines, RN) and HMS Tanatside (Lt.Cdr. F.D. Brown, RN) joined from Falmouth.

Around 1930/3, HMS Boreas and HMS Anthony parted company for Plymouth.

In the afternoon of 4 January 1943, HMS Renown, HMS Furious, HMS Illustrious, HMS Pathfinder, HMS Panther, HMS Penn, HMS Escapade, HMS Melbreak and HMS Tanatside, arrived in the Clyde after which they proceeded to Greenock. (16)

16 Mar 1943
HMS Usurper (Lt. D.R.O. Mott, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Scapa Flow with HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Brecon (Lt.Cdr. T.D. Herrick, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) and HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN). (17)

19 Mar 1943
HMS Usurper (Lt. D.R.O. Mott, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Scapa Flow with HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Middleton (Lt. C.S. Battersby, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 2 Bars, RN) and HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN). (17)

23 Mar 1943
In the morning HMS Cumberland (Capt. A.H. Maxwell-Hyslop, AM, RN) conducted an underway refuelling exercise at Scapa Flow during which HMCS Athabascan (Cdr. G.R. Miles, DSO, OBE, RCN) was fuelled.

Around noon HMS Cumberland departed Scapa Flow for exercises with Duke of York which continued until late in the evening. During the exercises HMS Duke of York was escorted by HMS Rapid (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) and HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN). (18)

9 Apr 1943
HMS Anson (Capt. H.R.G. Kinahan, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral Sir B. Fraser, CB, KBE, RN) and HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, DSO, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. During the exercises HMS Anson was escorted by three destroyers. [possibly HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, DSO, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) and HMS Obedient (?)]. (19)

2 Jun 1943
HMS Syrtis (Lt. M.H. Jupp, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Scapa Flow with HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, DSO, RN) and HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN). (20)

17 Jun 1943
Around 1400B/17, the battleships the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. L.H. Ashmore, RN), HMS Warspite (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable (Capt. G. Grantham, CB, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Gibraltar. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, DSO, RN), HMS Fury (Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Echo (Lt. R.H.C. Wyld, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, RN), HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Quilliam (Capt. S.H. Carlill, DSO, RN), HMS Quail (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Jenks, RN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz).

They were joined on the 18th by the destroyer HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) which came from Londonderry where she had been boiler cleaning.

Around 1330B/21, they were joined by the aircraft HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN) and her escort made up of the destroyers HMS Troubridge (Capt. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Tumult (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN) and HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN). These ships had departed Gibraltar around 2015B/19. [Actually the destroyers departed two hours previously, presumably to conduct an A/S sweep before the carrier left the harbour.]

They arrived at Gibraltar in the afternoon of the 23rd minus HMS Tumult and HMS Tyrian which had been detached. These destroyers only arrived on June 26th. (21)

2 Jul 1943
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) and the destroyers HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz) departed Mers-el-Kebir for Gibraltar. (22)

3 Jul 1943
Around 1530B/3, the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable (Capt. G. Grantham, CB, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, RN), destroyers HMS Troubridge (Capt. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Tumult (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Quilliam (Capt. S.H. Carlill, DSO, RN), HMS Quail (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Jenks, RN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz) departed Gibraltar for Mers-el-Kebir where they arrived around 0845B/4 minus HMS Panther and HMS Penn which had detached to return to Gibraltar.

HMS Indomitable escorted by HMS Troubridge, HMS Tumult, HMS Quilliam, HMS Quail and HMS Queenborough actually joined at sea as they had already left Gibraltar around 1600B/2 for exercises. (23)

3 Jul 1943
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) and the destroyers HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz) arrived at Gibraltar from Mers-el-Kebir. (22)

5 Jul 1943
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN) and HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Fitzroy, RN) departed Gibraltar for Algiers. (22)

6 Jul 1943
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN) and HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Fitzroy, RN) arrived at Algiers from Gibraltar. (22)

9 Jul 1943
Around 2030B/9, ' Force H, 3rd Division ' (also known as ' Force Z '), made up the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN, Senior Officer) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Paladin (Lt.Cdr. L.St.G. Rich, DSO, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) and HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Fitzroy, RN) departed Algiers for operations.

Around 1315B/10, off Bone, they were joined by the light cruisers HMS Sirius (Capt. P.B.W. Brooking, DSO, RN), HMS Dido (Capt. J. Terry, RN) and the destroyer HMS Isis (Cdr. B. Jones, DSC, RN) which had departed Bone around 1200B/10. Shortly after these ships joined, HMS Isis obtained an A/S contact and ' Force Z ' made an emergency turn.

Shortly after 1700B/10, ' Force Z ' entered the Tunisian War Channel (this started near Galita Island and then to the East of Cape Bon).

Around 1910B/10, ' Force Z ' turned back and set course for Algiers.

Around 0230B/11, HMS Sirius and HMS Dido were detached to proceed ahead to Bone where they arrived around 0615B/11.

Then at 1100B/11 a signal was received from the Commander-in-Chief that ' Operation Fracture ' was to be carried out. Course was then altered to 080° and the detached cruisers were recalled. They departed Bone again around 1335B/11 and rejoined ' Force Z ' around 1615B/11.

HMS Isis, which was unable to keep up at high speed, was detached to Bone. (24)

12 Jul 1943

Operation Fracture.

Bombardment of Levanzo Island, Trapani and Marsala.

In the evening of 11 July 1943, ' Force H, 3rd Division ' (also known as ' Force Z '), made up the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN, Senior Officer), light cruisers HMS Sirius (Capt. P.B.W. Brooking, DSO, RN), HMS Dido (Capt. J. Terry, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Paladin (Lt.Cdr. L.St.G. Rich, DSO, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) and HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Fitzroy, RN) were at sea proceeding towards the west coast of Sicily.

At 2200B/11, HMS Sirius and HMS Dido were detached to bombard Marsala.

The battleships approach course ran through two positions; A) 37°45'N, 09°46'E and B) 38°12'N, 12°10'E. Position B was reached at 0123B/12. The destroyers HMS Jervis, HMS Paladin and HMS Arrow were placed ahead of the battleships. They were to close within 9000 yards from Levanzo Island. The other three destroyers (HMS Pathfinder, HMS Panther and HMS Penn) formed an A/S screen for the battleships.

Bombardment of Levanzo Island.

At 0139B/12, speed was reduced to 16 knots, and HMS Howe opened fire at 13500 yards with starshell at 0145B/12. HMS King George V opened fire a minute later. The targets selected were three batteries and hutments in the north-east corner of Levanzo Island, which was fringed with steep cliffs. The target area was 1500 yards in depth, height allowed 300 feet, the three batteries being calculated to be in transit when Cape Grosso bore 165°. Nine rounds per 5.25" gun with flashless propellant and HE shell were fired by the battleships. The destroyers opened direct fire very shortly after 0146B/12, with ranges based on radar information. Their salvoes were seen to burst on the cliff face and top of the hill close to the northern HA/LA battery. The ammunition expended by the destroyers was; HMS Jervis 59 rouds, HMS Paladin 40 rounds and HMS Arrow 29 rounds.

The majority of the battleships salvos appeared to burst on the left side of the hill behind Cape Grosso, probably below the battery sites. The bombardment ended at 0149B/12, when course was altered to 055°. After the destroyers had turned away, the batteries on Levanzo Island opened a spasmodic fire. Some shells fell close, but none of the ships were hit.

Bombardment of Trapani.

The second phase of the operation was the bombardment of Trapani. The target selected for the 14" guns of the battleships was Trapani town to the eastward of the harbour, an area of 3000 yards from east to west with a depth of 1000 yards. For the 5.25" guns the target was Trapani harbour including Colombaia Island. HMS Howe opened fire at 0153B/12 with 14" HE shell, followed by HMS King George V within one minute. The initial range being 23000 yards, bearing 122° for both ships. The 5.25" guns opened fire shortly after the 14" when their target range was 21000 yards bearing 127°. HMS Howe fired 17 salvoes from her 14" guns. HMS King George V fired 39 rounds of 14". The majority of the salvos were estimated to have fallen in the target area, HMS Howe reported observing 'a few 14" shell bursts' and HMS King George V reported 'about a dozen'. Cordite smoke completely obscured the 5.25" target area and the blinding effect from all guns was most marked. When firing ceased at 0200B/12, course was altered to 290°.

During the approach and throughout the bombardments a large V-shaped illumination was visibly on the land near Punta Barone. This, it was conjectured may have been intended as some sort of decoy for the RAF.

After turning to the retirement course, the destroyers dropped a number of delay action devices consisting of depth chargesm smoke floats and snowflake rockets. These were intended to prolong the period of disturbance and attract the intention of any E-boats or aircraft. Apparently the first object was achieved, for both searchlights and guns continued to be active for a considerable time.

Bombardment of Marsala.

After parting company, HMS Sirius and HMS Dido proceeded towards Marsala. Flashes from an air attack in progress were observed during the approach. The bombardment course selected ran between the positions A) 37°46'N, 12°13'E and B) 37°42'N, 12°15'E, approximately on the 100 fathom line within effective range.

The zones of fires were centered as follows; HMS Sirius, 200 yards west of the railway station and HMS Dido, 400 yards north of the post office. The bombardment was carried out in indirect fire from 0148B/12 to 0207B/12, at a mean range of 21000 yards, the ships steering 157° at 18 knots. The only results observed were flashes, to tight of a large fire started by the preceding air attack, which appeared to coincide with the fall of shot.

A few enemy guns responded feebly during the latter half of the bombardment but no shells were seen to fall close to the cruisers.

At 0515B/12, the cruisers rejoined the other ships of ' Force Z ' in position 38°09'N, 10°45'E and the withdrawal was effected without incident. The destroyer HMS Isis (Cdr. B. Jones, DSC, RN) joined the screen at 0620B/12 coming from Bone.

At 1115B/12, HMS Sirius and HMS Dido were detached to Bone to arrange for the immediate fuelling of the destroyers and for all available A/S craft to patrol off the harbour during the presence of the battleships. At 1430B/12, the battleships anchored off Bone while the destroyers fuelled.

Around 2015B/12, ' Force Z ', made up of the two battleships and the seven destroyers departed Bone for Algiers where it arrived around 0715B/13. (24)

14 Jul 1943
Around 1220B/14, ' Force Z ', made up of the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN, Senior Officer) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Paladin (Lt.Cdr. L.St.G. Rich, DSO, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) and HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Fitzroy, RN) departed Algiers after a reconnaissance aircraft had reported that two Italian battleships had departed La Spezia.

At 0130B/15, they were joined by the light cruisers HMS Sirius (Capt. P.B.W. Brooking, DSO, RN), HMS Dido (Capt. J. Terry, RN) which came from Bone.

It then became apparent that the report of the aircraft had been false and all ships returned to Bone or Algiers later on the 15th. (25)

20 Jul 1943
HMS Sportsman (Lt. R. Gatehouse, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Algiers with HMS Jervis (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN), HMS Paladin (Lt. E.A.S. Bailey DSC, MBE, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN) and HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Fitzroy, RN). (26)

26 Jul 1943
Around 1415B/26, the damaged aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable (Capt. G. Grantham, CB, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, RN) departed Malta for trials. After these were successfully completed she departed for Gibraltar around 1715B/26 escorted by the destroyers HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN), HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN) and RHS Vasilissa Olga (Lt.Cdr. G. Blessas).

Around 1800B/26, the battleships HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN), HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN), HMS Paladin (Lt. E.A.S. Bailey DSC, MBE, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) and HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Fitzroy, RN) departed Algiers to make rendezvous with HMS Indomitable and her escort.

Around 0300B/27, the light cruisers HMS Dido (Capt. J. Terry, RN) and HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) departed Bone to make rendezvous with the battleships and their escort. Rendezvous was effected around 0530B/27.

Around 1200B/27, HMS Indomitable and her escort made rendezvous with the battleships and the cruisers and their escort. HMS Intrepid and RHS Vasilissa Olga then parted company to return to Malta where they arrived on the 28th.

Around 0700B/28, HMS Dido and HMS Euryalus parted company to return to Bone where they arrived around 1430B/28.

Around 1100B/28, HMS Howe, HMS King George V, HMS Jervis, Paladin, Panther, Pathfinder, Penn and Arrow parted company to return to Algiers where they arrived around 1430B/28.

HMS Indomitable, HMS Antelope, HMS Boreas, HMS Wishart (Cdr. A.F. Campbell, OBE, RN) and HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. R.B.S. Tennant, RN) arrived at Gibraltar around 1830B/29. The last two destroyers had probably joined around the time the battleships and their escorts had parted company on the 28th. (27)

31 Jul 1943
Around 0730B/31 the light cruisers HMS Sirius (Capt. P.B.W. Brooking, DSO, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN), HMS Dido (Capt. J. Terry, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN), HMS Paladin (Lt. E.A.S. Bailey DSC, MBE, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN) and HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) departed Bone for the Sicilian Narrows.

Soon after departure HMS Penn developed engine trouble and returned to Bone.

HMS Euryalus parted company around 0830B/1 and proceeded to Malta where she arrived around 1930B/1.

The remainder of the ships returned to Bone arriving around 1830B/1. (28)

7 Sep 1943
Around 0715B/7, ' Force Z ' made up of the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN), HMS Paladin (Lt. E.A.S. Bailey DSC, MBE, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) and HMS Wishart (Lt. J.A. Holdsworth, RN) departed Algiers for, initially, Augusta but this was later changed to Malta where they arrived around 1100B/8.

At Malta, Vice-Admiral A.J. Power, CB, CVO, RN, hoisted his flag in HMS Howe. (29)

8 Sep 1943

Operation Slapstick.

Landing of troops at Taranto following the Italian armistice.

Around 1545/8, the light cruisers HMS Aurora (Commodore W.G. Agnew, CB, RN), HMS Penelope (Capt. G.D. Belben, DSC, AM, RN), HMS Dido (Capt. J. Terry, RN), HMS Sirius (Capt. P.W.B. Brooking, RN), USS Boise (T/Rear-Admiral T.H. Thebaud, USN) and the fast minelayer HMS Abdiel (Capt. D. Orr-Ewing, DSO, RN) departed Bizerta for Taranto. These cruisers and the minelayer had troops on board as well as stores and vehicles.

Around 0630/9, they joined the battleships HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.J. Power, CB, CVO, RN) and HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) which had departed Malta around 2200/8 with the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN), HMS Paladin (Lt. E.A.S. Bailey DSC, MBE, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) and HMS Wishart (Lt. J.A. Holdsworth, RN).

Around 1315/9, the escort destroyers HMS Aldenham (Lt.Cdr. H.A. Stuart-Menteth, RN), HMS Croome (Lt. H.D.M. Slater, RN), HMS Hurworth (Cdr. R.H. Wright, DSC, RN) and RHS Kanaris joined coming from Sousse (via Malta) from where they had sailed on the 8th. They had on board a port party for Taranto.

Around 1400B/9, the Italian battleships Caio Duilio (flying the flag of Vice-Admiral Da Zara), Andrea Doria, light cruisers Luigi Cadorna, Pompeo Magno and the destroyer Nicoloso da Recco were sighted proceeding towards Malta to surrender. HMS King George V with HMS Panther, Pathfinder, HMS Penn then parted company to escort these ships to Malta.

Around 1630/9, the minesweepers HMS Hazard (Lt.Cdr. L.C. Smith, RN), HMS Hebe (Lt.Cdr. G. Mowatt, RD, RNR), HMS Sharpshooter (Lt.Cdr. W.L. O'Mara, DSC, RN) and HMS BYMS 2012 (T/A/Skr.Lt. C.J. Watson, RNR) joined. These ships had also departed Malta on the 8th.

In the evening all the other ships entered the harbour of Taranto where the troops, port party, stores and vehicles were disembarked.

Troops were then to be disembarked, however, on 10 September, shortly after midnight, HMS Abdiel was mined and sunk with heavy loss of life inside the harbour before she had been able to disembark her troops.

10 Sep 1943
The battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) arrived at Malta escorting the Italian battleships Caio Duilio (flying the flag of Vice-Admiral Da Zara), Andrea Doria, light cruisers Luigi Cadorna, Pompeo Magno and the destroyer Nicoloso da Recco which came from Taranto to Malta after the Italian armestice. (30)

14 Sep 1943
The aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, RN), battleships HMS Valiant (Capt. L.H. Ashmore, RN), HMS Warspite (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN) and the destoyers HMS Quilliam (Capt. S.H. Carlill, DSO, RN), HMS Quail (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Jenks, RN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN), HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, RN) and HMS Jervis (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN) departed Malta for Gibraltar via Algiers.

Soon after leaving the harbour though they were ordered to return.

HMS Illustrious then entered harbour while the battleships were ordered to proceed to the Salerno area to give fire support during operation Avalanche as German resistance was much heavier then had been expected. The battleships were now escorted by HMS Jervis, HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Penn, HMS Petard and HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN). (31)

15 Sep 1943
HMS Valiant (Capt. L.H. Ashmore, RN), HMS Warspite (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN), HMS Jervis (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN) and HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN) arrived in the southern anchorage in the Salerno area around 1100 hours.

As the battleships had not been part of the operations plan, the ships were not in the possession of the target lists and special bombardment maps. As a result of lenghty conferences it was arranged that each battleship was to land an F.O. (forward observer) party at 1400 hours and it was hoped to open fire by 1700 hours. HMS Valiant had 50 rounds HE of 15" available and HMS Warspite 88. It was agreed that hald should be fired at once and the remainder on the following day.

The battleships moved to their bombanding berths, one mile from the shore and at 1720 hours, HMS Warspite opened fire on an observation post on a ridge near Altavilla and on the town itself. The fire was extremely accurate, 19 hits being claimed out of 29 rounds fired and the American troops were much impressed by the accuracy. It ceased at 1720 hours. HMS Valiant, unfortunately, was unable to open fire as she could not make contact with her F.O. Arrangements were then made for the Warspite's F.O. to direct the Valiant's fire. But just as HMS Valiant was about to open fire a message was received that no further bombardment was required and the battleships proceeded to sea for the night during which they sustained about a dozen air attacks. No damage was done except to HMS Petard which was hit by an AA shell and suffered two casualties. (32)

16 Sep 1943
Around 0530 hours, HMS Valiant (Capt. L.H. Ashmore, RN), HMS Warspite (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN), HMS Jervis (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN) and HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN), returned to the assault area.

HMS Valiant took up a bombarding position off the northern beaches while HMS Warspite went to the same position as on the previous day. Once again HMS Valiant had great difficulty in obtaining contact with her forward observer and it was not until 1648 hours that she was able to open fire on the Nocera area. She ceased fire at 1728 hours having fired 19 rounds. She retired from the area at dusk screened by the escort destroyers HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN), HMS Catterick (Lt.Cdr. A. Tyson, RN) and HMS Haydon (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Watkin, RN). They eventually went to Augusta arriving there on the 17th.

Meanwhile HMS Warpite had sustained a heavy air attack. She had difficulty owing to enemy jamming in communicating with her F.O. but eventually opened fire at 1309 hours on ammunition dumps and traffic concentration near Altaville. 32 rounds were fired of which half landed dead on the target and 8 within 100 yards of it.

At 1410 hours, HMS Warspite was proceeding towards the northern area for further bombardment when she was attacked by about 10 FW 190's one of which was shot down. Immediately afterwards, three remote-controlled bombs were sighted almost overhead at 6000 to 8000 feet, their parent aircraft being at 20000 feet. No radar report of their presence had been received. The bombs dived vertically on to the ship which could take no avoiding action in this congested area. Two of the bombs near missed the ship but one hit the ship penetrating into No.4 boiler room where it burst. The concussion was terrific, five of the ships boiler rooms were flooded almost at once, though the ship was able to proceed at slow speed on the starboard engines until about 1500 hours when the last boiler room filled with water and all steam failed.

The USN tugs USS Hopi and USS Moreno arrived quickly on the spot and had the ship in tow by 1700 hours. Speed was 4 knots. Escort was now provided by the AA cruiser HMS Delhi (Capt. A.T.G.C. Peachey, RN) and the destroyers HMS Panther, HMS Pathfinder and escort destroyers HMS Atherstone (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Wood, DSC, RNVR), HMS Cleveland (Lt.Cdr. J.K. Hamilton, RN) and ORP Slazak (Lt.Cdr. R. Nalecz-Tyminski, ORP).

At 1930 hours the light cruisers HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral P.L. Vian, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN) and HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, DSO, RN) joined them with HMS Euryalus taking over the tow with the intention to leave the area at a higher speed. However the cable parted and the USN again took the damaged battleship in tow. To everyone's surprise, in spite of a night of full moonlight, no air attacks were made by the enemy. In the morning, Spitfires arrived to give fighter cover, followed by two more tugs, HMS Nimble, HMS Oriana and the salvage vessel HMS Salveda. Around 2300 hours, another tug, USS Narragansett joined just as HMS Warspite was to enter the straits of Messina. It took the Warspite five hours to negotiate the Straits due to the strong current. She finally arrived safely at Malta around 0800 hours on 19 September. HMS Euryalus, HMS Scylla had parted company around 1030B/18 and arrived at Bizerta around 0145B/19. (32)

6 Nov 1943
Around 0650/6, HMS Penelope (Capt. G.D. Belben, DSC, AM, RN), departed Alexandria for trials and exercises. On completion of these she set course to proceed to a position about mid way between Alexandria and Rhodos so as to be in a position to proceed to the aid of light forces operating in the Aegean if called upon.

Around 0600/7, HMS Penelope was joined by the escort destroyers HMS Aldenham (A/Lt.Cdr. J.I. Jones, DSO, DSC, RNR) and Miaoulis. These ships parted company around 1700/7.

Around 0600/8, HMS Penelope was joined by the destroyers HMS Pathfinder (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Malins, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN). These ships parted company around 0900/8.

Around 1200/9, HMS Penelope was joined by the destroyer HMS Faulknor (Capt. M.S. Thomas, DSO, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Beaufort (Lt. J.R.L. Moore, RN) and Pindos.

They arrived in Episkopi Bay, Cyprus around 1545/9 where they fuelled. (33)

7 Nov 1943
HMS Pathfinder (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Malins, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) sink German U-boat trap GA 45 with gunfire off Amorgos, Greece.

9 Dec 1943
Around 1600/9, the heavy cruiser HMS London (Capt. R.V. Symonds-Tayler, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Penelope (Capt. G.D. Belben, DSC, AM, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis ( Capt. H.P. Henderson, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Lt.Cdr. F.W. Hawkins, RN) and HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) departed Alexandria for Gibraltar or Malta.

Around 0915/10, the were joined by the escort destroyers HMS Croome (Lt. H.D.M. Slater, RN) and HMS Tetcott (Lt. A.F. Harkness, DSC, OBE, RNR). These ships parted company around 1545/10.

Around 0400/11, HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.F. Taylor, RN) and HMS Inglefield (Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, DSC, RN) joined.

Around 0415/11, HMS Penelope, HMS Jervis, HMS Pathfinder and HMS Penn parted company to proceed to Malta where they arrived around 0700/11.

HMS London, HMS Fury and HMS Inglefield then continued on to Gibraltar where they arrived around 0430/13. (34)

12 Dec 1943
Around 2350/12, HMS Penelope (Capt. G.D. Belben, DSC, AM, RN), HMS Jervis (Capt. H.P. Henderson, RN) and HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) departed Malta for Bizerta where they arrived around 1045/13. (35)

17 Feb 1944
During 17/18 August 1944, the battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Rotherham (Capt. F.S.W. de Winton, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Lt.Cdr. T.F. Hallifax, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN), HMAS Napier (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Green, DSC, RAN), HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.J. Buchanan DSO, RAN) and HrMs Tjerk Hiddes (Lt.Cdr. G.A. Cox, RNN) conducted exercises off Trincomalee. (36)

16 Apr 1944

Operation Cockpit

Carrier raid against Sabang by the Eastern Fleet.

On 16 April 1944 the Eastern Fleet put to sea from Trincomalee, Ceylon in two task forces;
Task Force 69, which was made up of the battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Eastern Fleet), HMS Valiant (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN), Richelieu (Capt. Lambert), the light cruisers HMS Newcastle (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.D. Read, CB, RN), HMS Nigeria (Capt. S.H. Paton, RN), HMS Ceylon (Capt. G.B. Amery-Parkes, RN), HMNZS Gambia (Capt. N.J.W. William-Powlett, DSC, RN), HrMs Tromp (A/Capt. F. Stam, RNN) and the destroyers HMS Rotherham (Capt. F.S.W. de Winton, RN), HMS Racehorse (Cdr. J.J. Casement, DSC, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, DSO, RN), HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN), HMAS Napier (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Green, DSC, RAN), HMAS Nepal (Lt.Cdr. J. Plunkett-Cole, RAN), HMAS Nizam (Cdr. C.H. Brooks, RAN), HrMs Van Galen (Lt.Cdr. F.T. Burghard, RNN).

Task Force 70, which was made up of the battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, RN, second in command of the Eastern Fleet), the British aircraft carriers HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, CB, RN), USS Saratoga (Capt. J.H. Cassady, USN), heavy cruiser HMS London (Capt. R.V. Symonds-Tayler, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Quilliam (Capt. R.G. Onslow, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Farrington, RN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN), USS Cummings (Cdr. P.D. Williams, USN), USS Dunlap (Cdr. C. Iverson, USN) and USS Fanning (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Bentley, USN).

During the forenoon of the 17th the four 'N' class and two 'P' class destroyers of Force 69 were fuelled by HMS Newcastle, HMS Nigeria, HMS Ceylon, HMNZS Gambia. The three 'Q' class destroyers from Force 70 were fuelled by HMS Renown and HMS London.

On the 18th HMS Ceylon and HMNZS Gambia were transferred from Force 69 to Force 70 to bolster the latters AA defence. (On the 19th HMS Nigeria replaced HMS Ceylon in this force as HMS Ceylon had problems with one shaft and could only make 24 knots.) At sunset Force 70 was detached so as to arrive at the flying off position for the aircraft at 0530/19.

At 0530/19 the carriers launched 46 bombers and 37 fighters (17 Barracudas and 13 Corsairs from HMS Illustrious and 11 Avenges, 18 Dauntless and 24 Hellcats from USS Saratoga) to attack Sabang and nearby airfields. Besides that 12 fighters were launched to patrol overhead of both Task forces.

The enemy was taken completely by surprise and 24 Japanese aircraft were destroyed on the ground. Only 1 fighter, a Hellcat from the Saratoga, was lost on the Allied side and it's pilot was rescued out of the water by the British submarine HMS Tactician (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Collett, DSC, RN). All aircraft, except the one lost, had returned to the carriers by 0930 hours after which both task forces retired to the west. The Japanese tried to attack the Allied task force with three torpedo bombers but these were shot down by Allied fighter aircraft at 1010 hours.

At Sabang the Japanese merchants Kunitsu Maru (2722 GRT, built 1937) and Haruno Maru (775 GRT, built 1927, former Dutch Kidoel) were sunk by the Allied aircraft while the Japanese minelayer Hatsutaka was damaged.

At 0800 hours on the 20th the fleet set course to return to Trincomalee. The cruisers and destroyer meanwhile carried out attack exercises.

The fleet returned to Trincomalee on 21 April. (37)

6 May 1944

Operation Transom.

Carrier raid against Surabaya by the Eastern Fleet.

On 6 May 1944 the Eastern Fleet put to sea from Trincomalee or Colombo in two task forces;
Task Force 65, which was made up of the battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Eastern Fleet), HMS Valiant (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN), Richelieu (Capt. G.M.J. Merveilleux du Vignaux), the light cruisers HMS Kenya (Capt. C.L. Robertson, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.D. Read, CB, RN), HrMs Tromp (A/Capt. F. Stam, RNN) and the destroyers HMS Rotherham (Capt. F.S.W. de Winton, RN), HMS Racehorse (Cdr. J.J. Casement, DSC, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, DSC, RN), HMAS Napier (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Green, DSC, RAN), HMAS Nepal (Lt.Cdr. J. Plunkett-Cole, RAN), HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN), HMAS Quickmatch (Lt.Cdr. O.H. Becher, DSC, RAN) and HrMs Van Galen (Lt.Cdr. F.T. Burghard, RNN).

Task Force 66, which was made up of the battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, RN, second in command of the Eastern Fleet) (went to Task Force 65 the next day), the aircraft carriers HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, CB, RN), USS Saratoga (Capt. J.H. Cassady, USN), light cruisers HMS Ceylon (Capt. G.B. Amery-Parkes, RN), HMNZS Gambia (Capt. N.J.W. William-Powlett, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Quilliam (Capt. R.G. Onslow, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Farrington, RN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN), USS Cummings (Cdr. P.D. Williams, USN), USS Dunlap (Cdr. C. Iverson, USN) and USS Fanning (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Bentley, USN).

On 10 May 1944, the Dutch light cruiser Tromp and the destroyers were fuelled at sea by the capital ships and the cruisers. During fuelling from HMS Valiant the Dutch destroyer HrMs Van Galen sustained some minor damage (fractured hull plate on her port side) but the crew of the Van Galen was able to effect emergency repairs.

On 15 May 1944, task forces 65 and 66 were fuelled at Exmouth Gulf, Australia by Task Force 67 which was made up of of six Royal Fleet Auxiliary tankers; Eaglesdale (8032 GRT, built 1942), Echodale (8150 GRT, built 1941), Easedale (8032 GRT, built 1942), Arndale (8296 GRT, built 1937), Pearleaf (5911 GRT, built 1917), Appleleaf (5891 GRT, built 1917) and supplyship (used as distilling ship) Bacchus (3154 GRT, built 1936). This force had already left Trincomalee on 30 April and was escorted by the heavy cruisers HMS London (Capt. R.V. Symonds-Tayler, DSC, RN), HMS Suffolk (A/Capt. W.F.H.C. Rutherford, RN). They had also been escorted near Ceylon by a local escort for A/S purposes, this local escort had been made up of the destroyers HMS Rotherham, HrMs Van Galen and the frigate HMS Findhorn (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Dawson, RD, RNR). The local escort returned to Ceylon on 5 May 1944. The two cruisers mentioned above now joined Task Force 66. Later this day Task Forces 65 and 66 went to sea again for the actual attack on Surabaya. On leaving Exmouth Gulf the fleet was spotted by the merchant vessel Aroona. This ship was now instructed to put into Exmouth Gulf and was held there by HMAS Adelaide (A/Capt. J.C.D. Esdale, OBE, RAN) for 24 hours and to impress on the master and crew of this vessel the necessity of not disclosing any information concerning the Fleet on the arrival of their ship at Fremantle (their next port of call).

In the early morning hours of the 17th the carriers launched 45 dive bombers and 40 fighters for an attack on the harbour and oil installations (Wonokromo oil refeniry) of Surabaya, Netherlands East Indies. (USS Saratoga: 12 Avengers (1 had to return with engine trouble shortly after being launched), 18 Dauntless, 24 Hellcats; HMS Illustrious: 18 Avengers (2 of which force landed in the sea shortly after being launched), 16 Corsairs). On the ground they destroyed 12 enemy aircraft (20 were claimed). The damage to the harbour and shipping were over estimated (10 ships were thought to have been hit) as in fact only the small transport ship Shinrei Maru (987 GRT, built 1918) was sunk and patrol vessel P 36, auxiliary submarine chasers CHa-107 and CHa-108, tanker Yosei Maru (2594 GRT, built 1928, former Dutch Josefina) and cargo ships Choka Maru (???? GRT, built ????) and Tencho Maru (2716 GRT, built 1919) were damaged.

On the 18th the US ships were released. The other ships then proceeded to Exmouth Gulf where they arrived to fuel the next day before starting on the return trip to Ceylon less destroyer HMAS Quiberon which was to refit in Australia and was sent to Fremantle.

On 23 May 1944, the Dutch light cruiser Tromp and the destroyers were fuelled at sea by the capital ships and the cruisers.

The ships of Task Force 65 and 66 arrived back at Colombo or Trincomalee on the 26 or 27th.

On 1 June 1944, Task Force 67 arrived at Trincomalee from Exmouth Gulf having been escorted by HMS London and HMS Suffolk until 1700FG/31. On arrival at Trincomalee Task Force 67 had an A/S escort made up of the destroyers HMAS Nizam (Cdr. C.H. Brooks, RAN), HMAS Quickmatch, HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, DSC, RN), HMS Roebuck (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN) and corvette HMS Burnet (Lt. D.S. Charles, RNR). These ships had joined at 2300FG/28 (HMAS Nizam, HMS Roebuck and HMS Burnet) and 0630FG/30 (HMAS Quickmatch and HMS Raider).

During this operation several US Submarine guarded the passages to the Indian Ocean to spot a possible Japanese counter attack. The submarines deployed for this purpose were the following; In the Sunda Strait from 12 to 23 May 1944; USS Angler (Cdr. R. I. Olsen, USN) and USS Gunnel (Cdr. J.S. McCain, Jr., USN).
South of Lombok Strait from 13 to 20 May 1944; USS Cabrilla (Cdr. W.C. Thompson, Jr., USN) and also the USS Bluefish (Cdr. C.M. Henderson, USN) from 13 May until the night of the 16th.
South of Bali Strait from 17 to 20 May; USS Bluefish.
North of Bali Strait; USS Puffer (Cdr. F.G. Selby, USN) during the night of 16/17 May.

The following US Submarines were deployed in the Surabaya area for air/sea rescue duties; USS Puffer in the Madura Strait about 40 miles to the east of Surabaya.
USS Rasher (Cdr. W.R. Laughton, USN) in the Java Sea about 40 miles to the north of Surabaya. (38)

3 Jun 1944
The heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland (Capt. W.Y.La R. Beverley, RN) departed Trincomalee to make rendezvous with the US troopship USS General H.W. Butner (17806 GRT, built 1944) which had departed Bombay on 2 June 1944 for Australia escorted by the destroyers HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, DSO, DSC, RN). The escort carrier HMS Ameer (Capt. G.D. Yates, RN) had also been in company until 4 June when she was detached off Cochin.

In the evening of 4 June HMS Penn had been detached with engine trouble. She had been relieved by HrMs Van Galen (Lt.Cdr. F.T. Burghard, RNN).

Rendezvous was effected around 1030FG(-6.5)/5.

Around 1800FG/5, the destroyers were detached.

Around 2030H/11, HMS Cumberland parted company with the troopship. (39)

17 Jun 1944
Around 1700/17, HMS Valiant (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN) and HMS Renown (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, RN, second in command of the Eastern Fleet), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, DSC, RN) departed Colombo for Trincomalee.

At sea they joined three destroyers that had been sent from Trincomalee to escort the capital ships, these were HMS Quilliam (Capt. R.G. Onslow, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Quality (Lt.Cdr. the Viscount Jocelyn, RN) and HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, DSO, DSC, RN).

They arrived at Trincomalee around 1700/18. (40)

18 Aug 1944
The battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN) departed Colombo for Trincomalee. She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN), HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. W.H. Harrington, DSO, RAN) and HrMs Van Galen (Cdr. F.T. Burghard, RNN). At sea they joined submarine tender HMS Wolfe (A/Capt. J.E. Slaughter, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.J. Buchanan DSO, RAN) and HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, DSC, RN) which were en-route from Bombay to Trincomalee. (41)

19 Aug 1944
HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN), HMS Wolfe (A/Capt. J.E. Slaughter, DSO, RN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN), i>HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. W.H. Harrington, DSO, RAN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, DSC, RN), HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.J. Buchanan DSO, RAN) and HrMs Van Galen (Cdr. F.T. Burghard, RNN) arrived at Trincomalee from Colombo. (42)

7 Sep 1944
HMS Swiftsure (Capt. R.D. Oliver, CBE, DSC, RN), HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.W. Rylands, RN) and HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, DSC, RN) departed Alexandria for Malta.

The deployment of HMS Swiftsure with the Eastern Fleet is cancelled. She is to return home for some modifications before she will form part of the new to be formed British Pacific Fleet. (43)

9 Sep 1944
HMS Swiftsure (Capt. R.D. Oliver, CBE, DSC, RN), HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.W. Rylands, RN) and HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, DSC, RN) arrived at Malta from Alexandria. (43)

22 Jan 1945
HMS Votary (Lt. P.M. Staveley, RN) conducted A/S exercises at Scapa Flow with HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Diack, DSC and Bar, RN).H, MS Javelin (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Marjoribanks, RN) and HMS Cavalier (Lt.Cdr. D.T. McBarnet, RN). (44)

25 Jan 1945
HMS Votary (Lt. P.M. Staveley, RN) conducted A/S exercises at Scapa Flow with HMS Javelin (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Marjoribanks, RN) and HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Diack, DSC and Bar, RN). (44)

27 Apr 1945

Operation Bishop.

Carrier raid and surface bombardment of Car Nicobar and Port Blair and to provide cover for Operation Dracula which are amphibious landings off Rangoon, Burma.

On 27 April 1945 ships from the Eastern Fleet put to sea from Trincomalee, Ceylon for operation Bishop. These ships formed Task ' Force 63 '. This task force was, at that moment, made up of the following ships: battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. R.M. Ellis, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral H.C.T. Walker, CB, RN), Richelieu (Capt. G.M.J. Merveilleux du Vignaux), escort carriers HMS Shah (Capt. W.J. Yendell, RN), HMS Empress (Capt. J.R.S. Brown, RN), heavy cruisers HMS Cumberland (Capt. P.K. Enright, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Suffolk (Capt. D. Gilmour, RN), light cruisers HMS Ceylon (Capt. G.B. Amery-Parkes, RN), HrMs Tromp (A/Capt. F. Stam, RNN) and the destroyers HMS Rotherham (Capt. H.W. Biggs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Tartar (Capt. B. Jones, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) and HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Diack, DSC and Bar, RN). Two more destroyers were sent out to join this task force later; HMS Nubian (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN) and HMS Verulam (Lt.Cdr. D.H.R. Bromley, DSC, RN). These two destroyers actually joined on the 29th.

An oiling force (Task Force 69), made up of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary tankers Olwen (6470 GRT, built 1917) and Easedale (8032 GRT, built 1942) escorted by the destroyer HMS Paladin (Lt. H.R. Hewlett, RN) had departed Trinomalee on the 26th. HrMs Tromp and the destroyers were fuelled from this force on the 29th.

At dawn on the 30th air attacks were carried out against Car Nicobar followed by a bombardment of the airfields At 0600/30, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Cumberland opened fire on the southern and northern airfields respectively from a range of 18000 yards Both ships soon found the range and it was not possible for any aircraft to take off after the bombardment. HMS Suffolk and HMS Ceylon then bombarded enemy AA positions. Shortly after sunrise around 0700 hours the destroyers HMS Rotherham, HMS Nubian and HMS Verulam started to bombard the settlement of Malacca. Soon afterwards a large fire, thought to be petrol, was seen near the jetty and another on one the southern airfield. At 0710 hours cease fire was ordered and a fighter strike was then commenced. They dropped bombs on and then strafed the airfields. At 0735 hours, after the fighter strike was over, the battleshios HMS Queen Elizabeth and Richelieu opened fire to crater the runways. They continued to fire on the runways until 0805 and 0809 respectively. Capt. (D) 11th destroyer flotilla on board HMS Rotherham meanwhile reported that the jetty at Malacca had been severly damaged and that two steam coasters and five small vessels had been destroyed.

At 1530/30, Richelieu, HMS Cumberland and HMS Rotherham were sent ahead to bombard Port Blair while on a northerly course. At 1730 hours Richelieu opened fire on the southern airfield and Cumberland on a coastal battery. Both firings were spotted by Hellcat fighters from the escort carriers. Later HMS Rotherham also engaged coastal batteries but from a closer range. Around 1835 hours these ships completed their bombardment but then HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Suffolk, HrMs Tromp, HMS Tartar and HMS Penn took over. Queen Elizabeth engaged the airfields while Suffolk worked over the marine yards with the same aircraft that had spotted for Richelieu and Cumberland. The other three ships engaged shore batteries. By the time the bombardment ceased after about 40 minutes the airfields were well cratered and hits were obtained on a lot of other targets. After the bombardment HrMs Tromp reported that she had seven wounded, two seriously (they both died later) from two near misses, at least that was thought at that moment. Later investigation however showed that the explosion was caused by American manufactured defective ammunition and not by enemy fire. Both bombarding forces then retired to the south an re-joined the escort carriers which had provided them with fighter cover during their bombardments.

During the night all ships proceeded southwards so as to bombard Car Nicobar a second time at dawn. At 0720/1 HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Suffolk opened fire on their target. After cratering the northern airfield Queen Elizabeth shifted target to the southern airfield at 0741 hours and carried out yet another effective shoot. At 0755 hours both ships ceased fire. HMS Cumberland and HMS Ceylon then took over. The French battleship Richelieu however did not participate in the bombardment this time as she had already expended her ammunition allowance. Cumberland enganged targets at/near the northern airfield and HMS Ceylon did the same working over the southern airfield. HMS Tartar was sent ahead to bombard the jetty at and targets in the village of Malacca. At 0915 hours all ships were again in one force and course was set to the north to conduct another bombardment of Port Blair but this time approaching from the north.

At 0800/2 HMS Queen Elizabeth opened fire on the runways of the airports and HMS Suffolk on coastal batteries. Again considerable damage was done to the airports and also a large petrol fire was started at one of them. At 0845 hours Richelieu (firing 6” from her secondary armament at the marine jetty) and HMS Cumberland took over. HMS Rotherham was ordered to take out an AA battery that was firing at the spotter aircraft and in this she succeded.

In the afternoon a signal was received that the landing off Rangoon had been successful and without opposition. The force now retired to the north-east for her cover position during operation Dracula.

On 4 May rendes-vous was again made with the oiling force and all ships were fueled by the Olwen. HMS Penn then remained with the Olwen while HMS Paladin joined Task Force 64.

On 6 May bombardments and air strikes were again carried out in the Port Blair area. As of 0700/6 HMS Empress started to launch fourteen Hellcats while HMS Shah launched eight Avengers and four Hellcats. At 0800 hours, HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Suffolk, HrMs Tromp and HMS Paladin opened fire on AA and coastal batteries in the vicinity of Phoenix Harbour, Hopetown Island and Ross Island in order to neutralise these defences for the air strike. At 0814 hours the air strike leaded ordered cease fire and a few minutes later the aircraft started attacking shipping inside Port Blair harbour. One aircraft was hit by enemy AA fire and failed to return to it’s carrier. HMS Tartar made a search for it but was unable to locate the aircraft or it’s pilot.

At 1730/6 HMS Queen Elizabeth bombarded a 6” gun known to be at Stewart Sound. The bombardment was completed at 1809 hours. HMS Suffolk meanwhile bombarded a pillbox on Sound Island with her 4” armament and appeared to have set the target on fire.

On 7 May another air attack was made on Car Nicobar by the carriers with a total of 10 Hellcats. With this air attack over course was set to return to Trincomalee.

A part of Task Force 63 returned to Trincomalee on 7 May, these were Richelieu, HMS Cumberland, HMS Ceylon, most likely escorted by HMS Rotherham, HMS Verulam and HMS Penn.

The other ships returned on 9 May. (45)

10 May 1945

Operation Dukedom.

Intercepting Japanese surface ships trying to evacuate troops from the Andaman Islands.

On 8 May 1945 a report was received from two British submarines on patrol in the Malacca Strait (HMS Statesman (Lt. R.G.P. Bulkeley, RN) and HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) that they had sighted a Japanese heavy cruiser and a destroyer proceeding to the north-west. The Eastern Fleet was already on alert due to intelligence and ships from the Eastern Fleet immediately (around 0700 hours) put to sea from Trincomalee, Ceylon for operation Dukedom. These ships formed Task Force 61. This task force was, at that moment, made up of the following ships;
British battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. R.M. Ellis, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral H.C.T. Walker, CB, RN), the French battleship Richelieu (Capt. G.M.J. Merveilleux du Vignaux), the British escort carriers HMS Hunter (Capt. A.D. Torlesse, RN), HMS Khedive (A/Capt. D.H. Magnay, RN), HMS Shah (Capt. W.J. Yendell, RN), HMS Emperor (Capt. Sir C. Madden, RN), the British heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland (Capt. P.K. Enright, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN), the British light cruiser HMS Royalist (Capt. W.G. Brittain, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Commodore N.G. Oliver, CB, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), the Dutch light cruiser HrMs Tromp (A/Capt. F. Stam, RNN) and the British destroyers HMS Saumarez (Capt. M.L. Power, CBE, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Venus (Cdr. H.G.D. De Chair, DSC with Bar, RN), HMS Vigilant (Lt.Cdr. L.W.L. Argles, DSC, RN), HMS Virago (Lt.Cdr. A.J.R. White, DSC, RN), HMS Rotherham (Capt. H.W. Biggs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Nubian (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN) and HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Diack, DSC and Bar, RN). This latter destroyer however had to return due to defects.

The British destroyer HMS Verulam (Lt.Cdr. D.H.R. Bromley, DSC, RN) sailed at 1700 hours to overtake and then join the Task Force. She was joined by HMS Tartar (Capt. B. Jones, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) as substitute for HMS Penn whose defects could not be repaired in time. HMS Verulam and HMS Tartar eventually joined the Task Force at 1505/11.

Most ships of the Task Force had only returned from the previous operation the day before and for instance HMS Queen Elizabeth had only 50% ammunition for her 15” guns on board. Also HMS Emperor and HMS Khedive were not fully fueled.

The same day the tanker Easedale (8032 GRT, built 1942) departed Trincomalee escorted by the British destroyer HMS Paladin (Lt. H.R. Hewlett, RN) (Force 70) to provide fuel for the smaller ships of Force 61.

At 1940/11 a fast attack force, made up of Richelieu, HMS Cumberland and the destroyer of the 26th Destroyer Flotilla; HMS Saumarez, HMS Venus, HMS Verlulam, HMS Viliglant and HMS Virago were ordered to proceed ahead to about 50 miles from the Task Force to be in a better position to intercept the reported Japanese heavy cruiser.

In the early afternoon of the 12th an air strike with four Hellcats was carried out against airfields on Car Nicobar Island. One Japanese aircraft was seen to go up in flames.

Also on the 12th submarine HMS Statesman reported that the Japanese cruiser and it's escort were returning to Singapore most likely to Force 61 being sighted the previous day by a Japanese aircraft.

During the 13th all destroyers of the Task Force fueled from HMS Emperor, HMS Hunter and HMS Shah. Besides that Task Force 62 was sent out from Trincomalee. This Task Force was made up of the British light cruiser HMS Nigeria (Capt. H.A. King, DSO, RN) and the British destroyers HMS Roebuck (Cdr. C.D. Bonham-Carter, RN), HMS Racehorse (Cdr. J.J. Casement, DSC, RN), HMS Redoubt (Lt.Cdr. F.W.M. Carter, DSC, RN) and HMS Rocket (Lt.Cdr. H.B. Acworth, OBE, RN), which was escorting a convoy, was ordered to leave her convoy and then join this Task Force. Also sailed was Task Force 67, made up of Royal Fleet Auxiliary oiler Olwen escorted by HMS Penn, which by now had completed repairs on her defects.

On the 14th HrMs Tromp was sent ahead to fuel from Task Force 70. Late in the evening the remainder of Task Force 61 arrived at the rendez-vous with Task Force 70.

On the 15th the enemy cruiser and destroyer were sighted by an aircraft from HMS Shah. They were again proceeding to the south-east. Shortly afterwards the enemy was also sighted by a patrolling Liberator aircraft which began shadowing the enemy. At 1500 hours three Avenger aircraft attacked the cruiser.

The 26th destroyer flottila, made up of HMS Saumarez, HMS Venus, HMS Verulam, HMS Vigilant and HMS Vigaro were ordered to intercept the enemy after dark. At 1500 hours they were 85 miles from the position of the enemy.

Around midnight the destroyers made radar contact on the cruiser. They then attacked from all directions with torpedoes. About eight hits were scored and the cruiser was sunk. During the attack HMS Saumarez was hit three times with 8" shells. Two ratings were killed on one boiler room was put out of action. The destroyers rejoined the task force at 1000/16. HMS Virago had only 17% fuel left, the other destroyers between that and 30%. HMS Virago and HMS Venus had to fuel from the escort carriers as they could not make it to the oiling force without doing so.

In the evening of the 16th the Task Force was attacked by Japanese aircraft. HMS Virago was near missed and suffered four ratings killed, five ratings severely wounded and thirteen other casualties. She was also listing slightly due to splinter damage.

At 1000/17 the following ships were detached to return to Trincomalee; Richelieu, HMS Nigeria, HMS Royalist, HrMs Tromp, HMS Khedive, HMS Shah and HMS Racehorce.

1740 hours, the 26th Destroyer Flotilla was also detached to return to Trincomalee where they arrived late in the afternoon on the 18th. By this time all the destroyers of this flotilla had fueled from Force 70.

The remaining ships were ordered to return to Trincomalee at 2130/19. They arrived back at Trincomalee on 21 May. (46)

15 Jun 1945
HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Diack, DSC, RN) and HMS Paladin (Lt. H.R. Hewlett, RN) intercept a Japanese landing craft and sink it with gunfire off the north-west coast of Sumatra.

5 Jul 1945
During 5/6 July 1945, exercises were carried out off Trincomalee by ships of the Eastern Fleet. Ships participating were the battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. R.M. Ellis, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.C.T. Walker, CB, RN), Richelieu (Capt. G.M.J. Merveilleux du Vignaux), escort carrier HMS Shah (Capt. W.J. Yendell, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland (Capt. P.K. Enright, RN), light cruiser HMS Phoebe (Capt. S.M. Raw, CBE, RN), destroyers HMS Rotherham (Capt. H.W. Biggs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Racehorse (Cdr. J.J. Casement, DSC, RN), HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN), HMS Rocket (Lt.Cdr. H.B. Acworth, OBE, RN), HMS Paladin (Lt. H.R. Hewlett, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Diack, DSC, RN), HMS Nubian (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Blackmore (Lt. J.S. Kerans, RN). (47)

Media links


British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

Sources

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  2. File 2.12.03.6389 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  3. ADM 53/116593
  4. ADM 199/1211
  5. ADM 53/116352 + ADM 53/116594
  6. ADM 199/651 + ADM 234/353
  7. ADM 53/116218 + ADM 199/647
  8. ADM 199/662
  9. ADM 199/427
  10. ADM 53/116597 + ADM 199/427 + ADM 199/429
  11. ADM 53/116597
  12. ADM 199/652
  13. ADM 199/904
  14. ADM 199/637
  15. ADM 173/18142
  16. ADM 53/117549 + ADM 53/117550 + ADM 53/117652 + ADM 53/117653 + ADM 53/118426 + ADM 53/118427 + ADM 199/767
  17. ADM 173/18389
  18. ADM 53/117281 + ADM 53/117396
  19. ADM 53/116899 + ADM 53/118507
  20. ADM 173/18160
  21. ADM 53/117670 + ADM 53/118252 + ADM 118480 + ADM 118673 + ADM 118714
  22. ADM 53/117635 + ADM 53/117719 + ADM 199/640
  23. ADM 53/118254 + ADM 53/118481 + ADM 199/767
  24. ADM 53/117635 + ADM 53/117719 + ADM 199/640 + ADM 234/356
  25. ADM 53/117653 + ADM 53/117719 + ADM 199/640
  26. ADM 173/18104
  27. ADM 53/117377 + ADM 53/117493 + ADM 53/117635 + ADM 53/117671 + ADM 53/117719 + ADM 199/641
  28. ADM 53/117377 + ADM 53/117378 + ADM 53/117493 + ADM 53/117494 + ADM 53/118557 + ADM 199/641
  29. ADM 53/117637 + ADM 53/117721 + ADM 199/641
  30. ADM 53/117721 + ADM 199/641
  31. ADM 53/118676 + ADM 53/118717 + ADM 199/641 + ADM 234/358
  32. ADM 234/358
  33. ADM 53/118345
  34. ADM 53/117845 + ADM 53/118346 + ADM 199/774
  35. ADM 53/118346 + ADM 199/642
  36. ADM 53/120304 + ADM 53/120676
  37. Files 2.12.03.6853 and 2.12.27.121 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands) and WO 203 / 4621 (British National Archives, Kew, London)
  38. Files 2.12.03.6853 and 2.12.27.121 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands) and WO 203 / 4767 (British National Archives, Kew, London)
  39. ADM 53/119173
  40. ADM 53/120379 + ADM 199/1388
  41. ADM 53/120310 + ADM 199/1388
  42. ADM 53/120310 + ADM 53/120758 + ADM 199/1388
  43. ADM 53/120602
  44. ADM 173/20344
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  46. Files 2.12.03.6854 and 2.12.27.121 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands) and WO 203 / 4630 (British National Archives, Kew, London)
  47. ADM 53/121153 + ADM 53/121984 + ADM 53/122074 + ADM 53/122224

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


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