HMS Albatross (I 22)
|Navy||The Royal Navy|
|Class||[No specific class]|
|Built by||Cockatoo Docks and Engineering Co. Ltd. (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia)|
|Ordered||10 Jun 1925|
|Laid down||5 May 1926|
|Launched||23 Feb 1928|
|Commissioned||17 Apr 1944|
|End service||30 Aug 1944|
Commissioned as a seaplane carrier in the Royal Australian Navy on 23 January 1929.
Transferred to the Royal Navy in 1938, being recommissioned for the voyage to the UK on 19 April 1938. Commissioned in Royal Navy service as HMS Albatross (I22) on 29 September 1938, she served as a trials ship. Decommissioned to reserve on 15 December 1938 and used as an accommodations ship until recommissioned on 25 August 1939. She operated as a trade protection ship off West Africa and in the Indian Ocean. Decommissioned to reserve on 5 November 1943 and converted to a repair ship for escorts and minesweepers and recommissioned as such on 17 April 1944 rearmed with eight 2pdr AA and six 20mm AA. Torpedoed on 11 August 1944 and judged not worth repairing. Placed in reserve on 30 August 1944 but recommissioned as a minesweeper depot hulk in November 1944. Finally decomissioned into reserve for disposal in July 1945. Sold in 1946. Scrapped at Hong Kong starting on 12 August 1954.
Commands listed for HMS Albatross (I 22)
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.
|1||Capt. Sir William Gerrard Andrewes, RN||23 Aug 1939||20 Feb 1940|
|2||Cdr. Wilfred Geoffrey Brittain, RN||20 Feb 1940||28 Apr 1941|
|3||A/Capt. William Alexander Dallmeyer, DSO, RN||28 Apr 1941||22 Dec 1941|
|4||A/Capt. Frederick William Howard Clarke, RN||22 Dec 1941||1 Mar 1943|
|5||A/Capt.(Retd.) Stephen Barry, RN||Mar 1943|
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Notable events involving Albatross include:
24 Feb 1940
A fire broke out inside Freetown harbour on board the merchant vessel Bruyère (5335 GRT, built 1919). Her cargo was cotton. The fire was in no.1 hold. Fire parties from HMS Albatross (Cdr. W.G. Brittain, RN) and HMS Resource (Capt.(Retd.) D.B. O’Connell, RN) went aboard. HMS Dainty (Cdr. M.S. Thomas, RN) went alongside to provide additional pumping capacity. The fire was under control after about five hours. (1)
16 Jun 1940
Dakar, the French battleship Richelieu and the fall of France Timespan; 16 June to 7 July 1940.
The fall of France, 16 June 1940.
On 16 June 1940, less then six weeks after the invasion of France and the low countries had started on May 10th, all military resitance in France came to an end. The question of control of the French fleet had thus become, almost overnight, one of vital importance, for if it passed into the hands of the enemy the whole balance of sea power would be most seriously disturbed. It was therefore policy of H.M. Government to prevent, at all costs, the French warships based on British and French harbours overseas from falling into the hands of Germany.
The bulk of the French fleet was at this time based in the Mediterranean. There drastic steps were taken to implement this policy. Elsewhere the most important units were the two new battleships completing, the Jean Bart at St. Nazaire and more importantly as she was almost complete, the Richelieu, at Brest.
Events during the Franco-German negotiations 17-25 June 1940 and politics.
It was on the 17th of June 1940, when the newly-formed Pétain Cabinet asked the Germans to consider ‘honourable’ peace terms in order to stop the fighting in France. At 1516 (B.S.T.) hours that day the Admiralty issued orders that British ships were not to proceed to French ports. On receipt of these orders Vice-Admiral George D’Oyly Lyon, Commander-in-Chief South Atlantic, ordered the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes (Capt R.F.J. Onslow, DSC, MVO, RN) then on her way to Dakar after a patrol off the Canary Islands to proceed to Freetown instead at her best speed. At the same time he recalled the British SS Accra which had sailed from Freetown for Dakar at 1730 hours (zone +1) with 850 French troops on board. She returned to Freetown at 0800/18. The British transport City of Paris with 600 French troops on board from Cotonou was ordered to put into Takoradi. On the 18th the Commander-in-Chief was also informed by Commander Jermyn Rushbrooke, RN, the British Naval Liaison Officer at Dakar that the Commander-in-Chief of the French Navy, Admiral Darlan had ordered Admiral Plancon at Dakar to continue fighting and also that the shore batteries and AA personnel there had declared for the British. At 0245/18 Vice-Admiral Lyon passed this information to the Admiralty, cancelled his orders to HMS Hermes to proceed to Freetown and directed her with the armed merchant cruisers HMS Carnarvon Castle (Capt. M.J.C. de Meric, RN) and HMS Mooltan (Capt.(Retd.) G.E. Sutcliff, RN), which were on passage to Freetown from the Western Approaches, to proceed to Dakar at full speed in order to strengthen the French morale. That afternoon the Admiralty ordered HMS Delhi (Capt. A.S. Russell, RN) to leave Gibraltar and proceed to Dakar and join the South Atlantic Station. She left Gibraltar on the 19th with an arrival date of the 23rd. In the morning of the 18th the French troopship Banfora reached Freetown, from Port Bouet, Ivory Coast with 1000 troops on board, and sailed for Dakar without delay. The French armed merchant cruiser Charles Plumier, which had been on patrol south of the Cape Verde Islands reached Dakar at 1015/18.
Meanwhile the British Naval Liaison Officer, Dakar’s signal had been followed by a report from the Naval Control Service Officer at Duala that an overwhelming spirit existed amongst the military and civilian population of the French Cameroons to continue fighting on the British side, but that they required lead, as the Governer was not a forceful character; but that morning the Governor of Nigeria informed the Commander-in-Chief that he considered steps to be taken to prevent a hostile move from Fernando Po (off the entrance to the Cameroon River). Accordingly, at 1845/18, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Bulolo (A/Capt. C.H. Petrie, RN) sailed from Freetown at 14 knots to show herself off San Carlos on the morning of the 23rd, and thence to anchor of Manoka in the Cameroon River the next day (her draught prevented her from reaching Duala). A/Capt. Petrie was then to proceed to Duala and call a conference.
It was difficult to arrive at a clear appreciation of the situation in French West-Africa but on the morning of the 19th June the Commander-in-Chief informed the Admiralty that, as the evidence pointed to an established resolve on the part of the West-African Colonies to join Great Britain whatever happened, he intended to allow French troop movements to continue. This he anticipated would avoid French exasperation and mistrust. During the early afternoon he heard from the Governors of Nigeria and the Gold Coast that French officers and non-commissioned officers were planning to leave the Cameroons and to join the British forces in Nigeria. At 1900/19 the Commander-in-Chief held a conference with the Governor of Sierra Leone at which it was decided that the Governor should cable home urging immediate action to persuade the French colonial troops and authorities to remain in their territories and hold their colonies against all attacks. In the evening the Commander-in-Chief reported to the Admiralty that French Guinea was determined to keep fighting on the British side. Meanwhile the Governor-General of French Equatorial Africa at Brazzaville was wavering and suggested leading his troops to the nearest British Colony. Late that night, still on the 19th, the Commander-in-Chief informed him that it was essential that he should remain at his post and that it was the expressed intention of French West Africa to fight on to victory.
Next morning, on the 20th, the Admiralty informed the Commander-in-Chief that the new French battleship Richelieu (about 95% complete) had departed Brest for Dakar on the 18th. Her sister ship, Jean Bart (about 77% complete) had left St. Nazaire for Casablanca on the 19th. During the afternoon of the 20th the British Liaison Officer at Dakar reported that according to the French Admiral at Dakar the French Government had refused the German armistice terms and would continue the fight in France. This was entirely misleading. For nearly two days the Commander-in-Chief had no definite information till at noon on 22 June when a BB C broadcast announced the signing of a armistice between France and Germany, which was to followed by one between France and Italy. Still there was much uncertainty, and the rest of the day was apparently spent in waiting for news. Early next morning, the 23rd June, the Admiralty informed the Commander-in-Chief that the French Bordeaux Government had signed an armistice with Germany. As the terms were not fully known the attitude of the French Navy remained uncertain. Shortly after 0200/23 the Admiralty gave orders that HMS Hermes was to remain at Dakar, and gave the Commander-in-Chief the text of the British Government’s appeal to the French Empire and to Frenchmen overseas to continue the war on the British side. The final collapse of France naturally exercised an important influence on the dispositions and movements of the South Atlantic forces. Also on the 23rd the cruiser HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. B.C.S. Martin, RN) and the destroyer HMS Watchman (Lt.Cdr. E.C.L. Day, RN) departed Gibraltar for Dakar and Casablanca respectively, and the same morning HMS Bulolo arrived off Fernando Po and showed herself of San Carlos and Santa Isabel. At noon she anchored off Manoka, in the Cameroon River, in the hope of restoring morale at Duala. Meanwhile HMS Mooltan had arrived at Freetown from Dakar and the United Kingdom, and during the afternoon (1500/23) the armed merchant cruiser HMS Maloja (A/Capt. V. Hammersley-Heenan, RN) reached Dakar from the Northern Patrol to join the Freetown escort force. Half an hour later the Richelieu and escorting destroyer Fleuret arrived at Dakar.
For a time the attitude of the French Governor-General at Dakar, the French North African colonies and the French Mediterranean Fleet, and the battleship Richelieu remained in doubt. Then owning to the anticipated difficulty of maintaining French salaries and supplies if the French did not accept the British offer, the situation at Dakar rapidly deteriorated, and by the evening of the 23rd reached a critical state. Early on the 24th, therefore, the Admiralty ordered the Commander-in-Chief to proceed there as soon as possible. The Commander-in-Chief replied that he intended to proceed there in the ex-Australian seaplane carrier HMS Albatross (Cdr. W.G. Brittain, RN), which was the only available ship, and expected to reach Dakar around noon on the 25th. At 1015/24 he left Freetown and reached Dakar around 1600/25. Meanwhile the Richelieu had put to sea. From then on the naval operations centred mainly on the battleship.
The problem of the Richelieu, 25-26 June 1940.
The Richelieu which had been landing cadets at Dakar, had sailed with the Fleuret at 1315/25 for an unknown destination. She was shadowed by an aircraft from HMS Hermes until 1700 hours. She was reported to be steering 320° at 18 knots. At 1700 hours the Admiralty ordered HMS Dorsetshire to shadow her, and at 2200 hours HMS Dorsetshire reported herself as being in position 16°40’N, 18°35’W steering 225° at 25 knots, and that she expected to make contact with the Richelieu at midnight. At 2126 hours, the Admiralty ordered the Vice-Admiral aircraft carriers (Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN) in HMS Ark Royal (Capt. C.S. Holland, RN) to proceed with dispatch to the Canary Islands with HMS Hood (Capt. I.G. Glennie, RN) and five destroyers (actually only four sailed with them; HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN), HMS Fearless (Cdr. K.L. Harkness, RN), HMS Foxhound (Lt.Cdr. G.H. Peters, RN) and HMS Escapade (Cdr. H.R. Graham, RN)). They departed Gibraltar in the morning of the 26th.
Early on the 26th, the Admiralty informed the Commander-in-Chief, South Atlantic, and the Vice-Admiral, aircraft carriers, that His Majesty’s Government had decided that the Richelieu was to be captured and taken into a British port. They were to take every step to avoid bloodshed and to use no more force then was absolutely necessary. It was understood that the French battleship had H.A. ammunition on board but no main armament ammunition, that forenoon however, the British Liaison Officer Brest reported that she had embarked 15” ammunition before leaving there. HMS Hood was to perform this task if possible but that there were a risk that the Richelieu might get away before her arrival, or if she tried to enter a neutral port such as La Luz in the Canaries, HMS Dorsetshire was to take action. After the capture she was to be taken to Gibraltar. The battleship HMS Resolution (Capt. O. Bevir, RN), which was at Gibraltar, was detailed to intercept the Jean Bart in case she would depart Casablanca and deal with her in the same way.
Vice-Admiral Wells reported that HMS Ark Royal, HMS Hood and their escorting destroyers would pass through position 36°00’N, 06°35’W at 0300/26, steering 225° at 20 knots. HMS Dorsetshire, meanwhile, having seen nothing of the Richelieu by 0015/26, had proceeded to the northwestward, and then at 0230/26 turned to course 030°. At 0530/26 she catapulted her Walrus aircraft to search to the northward, and at 0730 hours it sighted the Richelieu in position 19°27’N, 18°52’W on course 010°, speed 18.5 knots. Eleven minutes later she altered course to 195°. The aircraft proceeded to shadow, but missed HMS Dorsetshire when it tried to return and in the end was forced to land on the sea at 0930 hours about 50 nautical miles to the southward of her. The Dorsetshire which had turned to 190° at 0905 hours was then in position 18°55’N, 17°52’W. She turned to search for her aircraft. Around noon she abandoned the search and steered 245° at 25 knots to intercept the Richelieu, which she correctly assumed to be continuing to the southward. She made contact soon after 1430 hours and at 1456 hours reported that she was shadowing the battleship from astern.
In the meantime the French Admiral at Dakar had informed Vice-Admiral Lyon that the ‘Admiral Afrique’ had ordered the Richelieu and the Fleuret to return to Dakar. At 1512 hours the Commander-in-Chief, South Atlantic asked the Admiralty whether, under these circumstances, HMS Dorsetshire was to attempt to capture the Richelieu. He was confident that any interference would antagonise all the local authorities and the French people in general. He also pointed out that His Majesty’s ships at Dakar would be placed in a most difficult position.
At 1630/26, HMS Dorsetshire, reported that she was in position 17°21’N, 18°22’W with the Richelieu within easy visual distance. Relations between the two ships remained cordial. The French ship had not trained her guns when she sighted the Dorsetshire, and she expressed regret that, having no aircraft embarked, she was unable to co-operate in the search for her missing Walrus aircraft but she signalled to Dakar for a French plane to assist. In view of her declared intention to return to Dakar, Capt. Martin took no steps to capture her and at 1700 hours he was ordered by the Admiralty to only shadow the Richelieu. At the same time HMS Hermes left Dakar to search for HMS Dorsetshire’s Walrus.
Shortly after 1900/26, the Admiralty ordered Ark Royal, HMS Hood and their four escorting destroyers to return to Gibraltar. At 2015 hours, the Admiralty ordered HMS Dorsetshire to cease shadowing the Richelieu and to search for her missing Walrus. On receipt of these orders she parted company with the Richelieu and Fleuret at 2300/26, being then some 70 nautical miles from Dakar. HMS Dorsetshire then proceeded to the north-north-eastward at 23 knots.
At first light on the 27th, HMS Hermes, then some 30 nautical miles to the southward, flew off seven aircraft to assist in the search. It was however HMS Dorsetshire herself which eventually found and recovered her aircraft at 1107/27. Meanwhile the Richelieu had arrived off Dakar at 0900/27 but did not enter the port. Shortly afterwards she made off the the north yet again. HMS Hermes then steered to the northward to be in a position to intercept if needed. Nothing was seen of the Richelieu until she was again located off Dakar at 0500/28. HMS Hermes, by that time about 400 nautical miles north of Dakar, was ordered to proceed southwards and return to Dakar.
The Commander-in-Chief, South Atlantic, at Dakar 26-29 June 1940.
While these movements were going on at sea, the position at Dakar was steadily deteriorating. At about 1830/26, the Commander-in-Chief had reported to the Admiralty that the French Admiral at Dakar had informed him, on Admiral Darlan’s instructions, that the presence of British warships at Dakar was in contrary to the terms of the Franco-German armistice. At 1700/26 (zone -1) however, the Admiralty had signalled to the Commander-in-Chief that, as the French codes were compromised, that French authorities could no longer be sure that orders came from Admiral Darlan but Admiral Plancon refused to question the authenticity of any signal he received. During the night the appointment of the British Liaison Officer at Dakar was terminated.
At 0500/27 the Richelieu was seen approaching Dakar, but 25 minutes later she turned to seaward again and the Commander-in-Chief ordered a Walrus aircraft from HMS Albatros to shadow her. That afternoon he informed the Admiralty that the Richelieu had put to sea to escort five French armed merchant cruisers [according to another source these were the armed merchant cruisers (four in number and not five) El D’Jezair, El Kantara, El Mansour, Ville d’Oran and the large destroyers Milan and Epervier which came from Brest] to Dakar. The Admiralty was clearly anxious that the Richelieu should not escape and at 0021/28, they ordered Vice-Admiral Wells with HMS Ark Royal, HMS Hood escorted by four destroyers (HMS Faulknor, HMS Fearless, HMS Foxhound and HMS Vidette (Cdr.(Retd.) D.R. Brocklebank, RN) to proceed to the Canaries to intercept her if she continued to steam to the northward. These ships (with HMS Escapade instead of HMS Vidette) had only returned to Gibraltar late the previous evening from their first sortie to intercept the Richelieu. Now they left again around 0600/28 but were quickly ordered to return to Gibraltar and were back in port around noon.
Around 0500/28 HMS Dorsetshire, proceeding back towards Dakar after having picked up her lost aircraft encountered the Richelieu about 10 nautical miles north of Dakar. Admiral Wells was then ordered by the Admiralty to return to Gibraltar. The rapid deterioration of the situation in West Africa is clearly shown in a series of signals which passed between the Commander-in-Chief South Atlantic and the Admiralty on 28 June. At 1100 hours, the Commander-in-Chief signalled that the French had refused HMS Dorsetshire permission to enter Dakar and that she was therefore proceeding to Freetown with all dispatch to fuel and return to the Dakar area as soon as possible. HMS Dorsetshire arrived at Freetown at 0545/29. At 1415/28 the Commander-in-Chief informed the Admiralty that the French Admiral at Dakar had issued orders to prevent H.M. ships from communicating with, or receiving stores, from the shore. In reply he had told the French Admiral that HMS Hermes would enter Dakar on the 29th to embark aircraft stores and fuel, and that he himself would sail from there in HMS Albatros after seeing the commanding officer of HMS Hermes. At 1515/28 the Commander-in-Chief informed the Admiralty of the steps he would take in case the Richelieu would proceed to sea again. The Admiralty then issued orders that Dakar was to be watched by an 8” cruiser within sight of the French port by dayand within three miles by night. HMS Hermes was to remain off Dakar until relieved by HMS Dorsetshire after this ship had returned from fueling at Freetown.
HMS Hermes arrived at Dakar at 0900/29. During the day she embarked Fleet Air Arm personnel and stores which had been landed there earlier. She then completed with fuel and sailed at 1800/29. She then patrolled off Dakar until she was relieved by HMS Dorsetshire at 1800/30. The Commander-in-Chief had sailed from Dakar in HMS Albatros at 1030/29. He arrived at Freetown at 1800/30 and transferred his flag to the accommodation ship Edinburgh Castle.
Deterioration of Franco-British relations, 1 – 3 July 1940.
The first few days of July saw a swift deterioration of Franco-British relations everywhere. The paramount importance of keeping the French fleet out of the hands of the enemy forced the British Government to take steps. According to the armistice terms the French fleet had to assemble at ports under German or Italian control and be demilitarized. To the Government it was clear that this would mean that the French ships would be brought into action against us. The Government therefore decided to offer the French naval commanders the following options; - to continue the fight against the Axis, to completely immobilization in certain ports or to demilitarize or sink their ships.
Already a powerful squadron, known as ‘Force H’ had been assembled at Gibraltar, in order to fill the strategic naval vacuum in the Western Mediterranean caused by the defection of the French fleet, and on 30 June Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville hoisted his flag in HMS Hood. His first task was to present the British alternatives to the Admiral commanding the French ships at Oran, failing the acceptance of one of them, he was to use force.
To return to West-Africa, HMS Hermes reached Freetown with the Fleet Air Arm passengers and stores from Dakar on 2 July. Early that afternoon the Commander-in-Chief asked the Consul General at Dakar to obtain, if possible, assurance from the French Admiral there that if British warships were not allowed to use Dakar, enemy men-of-war should also be forbidden to use it. At 1915/2, the ex-British Liaison Officer, who had not yet left Dakar, reported the arrival of a British merchant ship which had not been diverted. He also reported that the French ships Katiola and Potiers might be sailing for Casablanca, escorted by armed merchant cruisers and destroyers. The Admiralty however ordered HMS Dorsetshire, which was maintaining the watch on Dakar, to take no action. At 2310/2 the Commander-in-Chief asked the Consul-General whether there was any chance of the Polish and Belgian bullion which was in the armed merchant cruiser Victor Schoelcher being transferred to either the Katiola or Potiers. He received no reply, and the continued silence of the British Consul led him to believe that the Consul’s signals were either being held up or mutilated.
Next forenoon, 3 July, the Commander-in-Chief informed the Admiralty that he intended to divert all British shipping in the South Atlantic from all French ports. Early that morning Vice-Admiral Somerville’s Force H had arrived off Oran. For the next ten hours strenuous efforts were made to persuade the French Admiral to accept one of the British alternatives, but without success. At 1554 hours (zone -1) Force H sadly opened fire on the ships of their former ally at Mers-el-Kebir, inflicting heavy damage and grievous loss of life. None could predict the result of these measures on the Franco-British relations, but it was sure they would not be improved.
During the afternoon of July 3rd the Commander-in-Chief, South Atlantic, on Admiralty instructions, directed all British Naval Control Officers and Consular Shipping Advisers to order all Biritsh and Allied ships to leave French ports as soon as possible, if necessary disregarding French instructions. All British warships in French ports were to remain at short notice and to prepared for every eventuality. The only warship in a French port within the limits of the South Atlantic Station at the time was HMS Bulolo, which was at Manoka in the Cameroons. At 2048 hours (B.S.T.) the Admiralty ordered all British warships in French ports to proceed to sea and at 2223 hours the Commander-in-Chief, South Atlantic ordered HMS Bulolo to proceed to Lagos, where she was to remain with HMS Dragon (Capt. R.G. Bowes-Lyon, MVO, RN) until further orders.
HMS Dorsetshire off Dakar, 3-7 July 1940.
Meanwhile HMS Dorsetshire had continued her watch off Dakar. On 3 July 1940 there were sixteen French warships and seven auxiliaries in the harbour. This number included the battleship Richelieu, the large destroyers Fleuret, Milan, Epervier, the armed merchant cruisers El D’Jezair, El Kantara, El Mansour, Ville d’Oran, Ville d’Alger, Victor Schoelcher and Charles Plumier, the colonial sloop Bougainville, the submarines Le Heros and Le Glorieux. At 0917/3 the Admiralty asked the Commander-in-Chief for the Richelieu’s berth at Dakar. HMS Dorsetshire informed him that at 1125/3 she was in position 045°, Cape Manuel lighthouse, 2.6 nautical miles, ships head 230°. Captain Martin seems to have drawn his own conclusions from this question and at 1350 hours he signalled to the the Commander-in-Chief his opinion that the Richelieu’s propellers could be severely damaged by depth charges dropped from a fast motor dinghy, and he asked permission to carry out such an attack about 2300 hours that night. Vice-Admiral Lyon replied that he had no instructions from the Admiralty to take offensive action against the Richelieu. At 1625 hours, however, the Admiralty ordered HMS Dorsetshire to get ready, but to await approval before actually carrying out an attack. This was followed at 1745 hours by a signal that the proposed attack was not approved as it was feared to be ineffective and for the time being the idea was ‘shelved’. [More on this idea later on.]
At 1904/3, the Admiralty ordered HMS Hermes to leave Freetown with all despatch to join HMS Dorsetshire off Dakar at 0500/5. At 2112/3 the Admiralty ordered HMS Dorsetshire to shadow the Richelieu if she sailed and proceeded northwards. If the vessel however made for the French West Indies, the Dorsetshire was to make every effort to destroy her by torpedo attack, and, if that failed, by ramming [ !!! ]. Late that evening the French Government decreed that all British ships and aircraft were forbidden, under penalty of being fired upon without warning, to approach within 20 nautical miles of French territory at home or overseas. Just before midnight the Admiralty gave orders that HMAS Australia (Capt. R.R. Stewart, RN), after refueling at Freetown, was to join HMS Dorsetshire off Dakar. At 0926/4, the Commander-in-Chief, South Atlantic ordered HMS Hermes and HMAS Australia to rendez-vous with HMS Dorsetshire 21 nautical miles from Dakar instead of the 15 nautical miles previously arranged and at 1037 hours he informed all three ships that as the French Air Force and submarines had orders to attack British ships off Casablanca and Dakar. He therefore issued orders that French aircraft and submarines were to be attacked and destroyed on sight. During that afternoon the Prime Minister announced in the House of Commons that, as an alternative to the German demands, French warships might proceed to the West Indies. At 2041 hours the Commander-in-Chief, South Atlantic asked whether, in view of this, the Admiralty intended that the Richelieu should be attacked if she was to proceed to the West Indies. Before this message was received, a signal was sent at 2050 hours cancelling the orders for the Richelieu’s destruction and at about midnight the Admiralty directed that she should be shadowed only.
Early on the 5th the Consul-General at Dakar reported that the merchant vessel Argyll with Commander J. Rushbrooke, RN, the ex-British Naval Liaison Officer, Dakar and his staff onboard, had, in accordance with instructions from the French authorities left Dakar the previous day but that she was recalled on reaching the outer boom, an order which had led the Consul-General to make a protest. Soon after midnight 4/5 July orders were received from the Admiralty that the sloop HMS Milford (Capt. R.J. Shaw, MBE, RN) should be sent to join the patrol off Dakar to provide A/S protection. She left Freetown for Dakar at 1000/5.
At 0723/5, in view of the French order forbidding the approach of British vessels and aircraft within 20 nautical miles from French territory at home and overseas, the Commander-in-Chief ordered his ships off Dakar not to approach within 20 nautical miles of the shore and replied in the affirmative when HMS Dorsetshire asked whether this rule also applied by night. During the afternoon he informed his command that French warships was orders not to attack the British unless they were within these 20 nautical miles. He later added that also submarines had the same orders.
At 1853/5, the Commander-in-Chief ordered HMS Dorsetshire, HMAS Australia, HMS Hermes and HMS Milford not to attack French submarines outside the 20 mile zone unless they were obviously hostile. An Admiralty report then came in the the Richelieu was reported to have put to sea but HMS Dorsetshire quickly contradicted that report.
Dispositions off Dakar at 0300 on 7 July 1940.
At 0300/7, two of the British warships off Dakar which were under the command of Capt. Martin (being the senior officer) were patrolling of Dakar (HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Hermes). The third ship (HMAS Australia) was patrolling about 35 to 40 nautical miles further to the north. The fourth ship HMS Milford was approaching Dakar from the south. At 0307 hours a signal from the Admiralty was received which gave a completely different complexion to their operations.
More on this in the event for 7 July 1940, The attack on the Richelieu.. This event can be found on the pages of the ships involved; HMS Hermes, HMS Dorsetshire, HMAS Australia and HMS Milford. (2)
2 Mar 1941
Around 1015N/2, HMS Birmingham (Capt. A.C.G. Madden, RN) arrived at Freetown where she immediately commenced fuelling. She also embarked a replacement Walrus aircraft from the seaplane tender HMS Albatross (A/Capt. W.G. Brittain, RN).
She departed to search for her missing Walrus aircraft around 1815N/2.
She returned to Freetown around 1530N/4, not having found her missing aircraft and its crew. (3)
6 Jun 1941
The light cruiser HMS Dragon (Capt. R.J. Shaw, MBE, RN), seaplane tender HMS Albatross (A/Capt. W.A. Dallmeyer, DSO, RN), corvettes HMS Amaranthus (Lt. N.B.J. Stapleton, RNR), HMS Crocus (Lt.Cdr. E. Wheeler, RNR), target ship Centurion (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) R.W.J. Martin, RN) (portraying the dummy battleship Anson) and the troop transport Abosso (British, 11330 GRT, built 1935) departed Freetown.
Around 1500N/8, HMS Albatross and HMS Centurion parted company to proceed to St. Helena where they arrived in the afternoon of the 14th.
The other ships proceeded to Takoradi arriving there in the afternoon of the 10th. (4)
8 Oct 1941
HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. A.W.S. Agar, VC, DSO, RN) and HMS Albatross (Capt. W.A. Dallmeyer, DSO, RN) departed Freetown to patrol in the mid-Atlantic between 06°N and 10°N and 28°W and 31°W. Two corvettes were sent along as escorts, these were HMS Mignonette (Lt. H.H. Brown, RNR) and HMS Woodruff (T/Lt. T. Muir, RNVR). (5)
11 Oct 1941
HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. A.W.S. Agar, VC, DSO, RN) parted company with HMS Albatross (Capt. W.A. Dallmeyer, DSO, RN) and then proceeded northwards to join the escort of convoy WS 12 which she joined early the next morning. (6)
16 Apr 1942
Convoy WS 18.
This convoy was assembled off Oversay on 16 April 1942.
It was made up of the following (troop) transports; Aorangi (British, 17491 GRT, built 1924), Capetown Castle (British, 27000 GRT, built 1938), City of Capetown (British, 8046 GRT, built 1937), Clan Lamont (British, 7250 GRT, built 1939), Dempo (Dutch, 17024 GRT, built 1931, Duchess of Bedford (British, 20123 GRT, built 1928), Empress of Canada (British, 21517 GRT, built 1922), Empress of Japan (British, 26032 GRT, built 1930), Highland Chieftain (British, 14135 GRT, built 1929), Highland Princess (British, 14133 GRT, built 1930), Maloja (British, 20914 GRT, built 1923), Marnix van St. Aldegonde (Dutch, 19355 GRT, built 1930), Nieuw Zeeland (Dutch, 11069 GRT, built 1928), Orbita (British, 15495 GRT, built 1915), Orduna (British, 15507 GRT, built 1914), Phemius (British, 7406 GRT, built 1921), Rangitata (British, 16737 GRT, built 1929), Reina del Pacifico (British, 17702 GRT, built 1931), Soudan (British, 6677 GRT, built 1931) and Waipawa (British, 12436 GRT, built 1934).
The destroyer tender HMS Hecla (Capt. E.F.B. Law, RN) was also part of the convoy.
On assembly from Oversay the convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Gambia (Capt. M.J. Mansergh, CBE, RN, Senior Officer), heavy cruiser HMS Frobisher (Capt. J.F.W. Mudford, RN), destroyers HMS Georgetown (Lt.Cdr. P.G. MacIver, RNR), HMS Lancaster (A/Cdr. N.H. Whatley, RN), HMS Salisbury (Lt.Cdr. M.H.R. Crichton, RN), HMS St. Marys (Lt.Cdr. K.H.J.L. Phibbs, RN), HMS Volunteer (Lt. A.S. Pomeroy, RN), HMS Boadicea (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN), HrMs Van Galen (Lt.Cdr. F.T. Burghard, RNethN) and the destroyer escorts HMS Badsworth (Lt. G.T.S. Gray, DSC, RN), HMS Lauderdale (Lt. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN) and HMS Tetcott (Lt. R.H. Rycroft, RN).
Around 0700N/19, HMS Badsworth and HMS Lauderdale parted company to return to the U.K.
Around 1900N/19, HMS Lancaster, HMS St. Marys, HMS Boadicea and HMS Volunteer parted company to return to the U.K.
Around 2000N/19, HrMs Van Galen and HMS Tetcott parted company to refuel at Ponta Delgada, Azores and to rejoin the convoy on completion. The departed Ponta Delgada to rejoin the convoy on the 20th.
Around 0915N/21, HMS Georgetown and HMS Salisbury parted company to refuel at Ponta Delgada, Azores.
Around 1900N/22, HrMs Van Galen rejoined.
Around 1030N/23, HMS Tetcott rejoined. Both had been delayed in rejoining the convoy due to them having difficulty finding the convoy.
Around 0930N/26, the destroyers HMS Wild Swan (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, RN), HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) and the corvette HMS Petunia (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Rayner, RD, RNR) joined.
The convoy arrived at Freetown on 29 April 1942.
The convoy departed Freetown on 3 May 1942 in the same composition with the addition of the troop transport Rimutaka (British, 16576 GRT, built 1923), transport Agwileon (American, 6678 GRT, built 1907) and the seaplane carrier HMS Albatross (A/Capt. F.W.H. Clarke, RN).
Escort on departure from Freetown was provided by the light cruiser HMS Gambia, heavy cruiser HMS Frobisher, destroyers HMS Wivern (Cdr. M.D.C. Meyrick, RN), HMS Boreas, HrMs Van Galen and escort destroyer Tetcott.
Around 1245Z/4, the corvette HMS Hydrangea (A/Lt.Cdr. J.E. Woolfenden, RNR) joined. The corvette FFS Commandant Detroyant was also to have joined the convoy but failed to do so.
Around 1430Z/4, HMS Wivern and HMS Boreas were detached.
Around 1020Z/5, HMS Hydrangea parted company.
In the morning of 8 May 1942, HMS Frobisher fuelled HMS Tetcott and on completion of doing so parted company with the convoy around 1315Z/8 to escort the Agwileon to Walvis Bay. This ship was detached from the convoy as she was unable to keep up.
In the morning of 9 May 1942, HMS Gambia fuelled HrMs Van Galen however after only 57 tons of fuel had been transferred to hose parted due to the bad weather conditions. These two ships then parted company with the convoy to proceed to St. Helena, which was only 52 nautical miles away, where they were able to complete fuelling (another 155 tons was transferred) while at anchor. HMS Gambia rejoined the convoy around 1550A/10. HrMS Van Galen proceeded independently to Capetown arriving there on 22 May 1942.
Late in the morning of the 14th, HMS Gambia transferred 20 tons of fuel to HMS Tetcott which was running low.
Around 1300B/14, the A/S whalers HMS Southern Gem (T/Lt. D.C. Hayes, RNVR) and HMS Southern Pride (T/Lt. F.A. Darrah, RNVR) joined.
Around 0300B/15, the Capetown section parted company. It was made up of the Dempo, Empress of Canada, Marnix van St. Aldegonde, Nieuw Zeeland, Orbita, Orduna, Phemius, Reina del Pacifico, Rimutaka and Waipawa. HMS Albatross, HMS Tetcott, HMS Southern Gem and HMS Southern Pride went with them. The Capetown section arrived there later the same morning.
The remainder of the convoy continued on to Durban escorted by HMS Gambia.
At 1600B/15, HMS Hecla suffered a heavy explosion on the starboard side. Position was to the south of Cape Aghulas, in 36°06'S, 19°55'E. It was though that she had been torpedoed but this was soon changed to being mined. HMS Gambia stood by the stricken vessel. Later it was found out that also the transport Soudan had also been mined and had been sunk as a result of the damage sustained.
HMS Hecla and HMS Gambia arrived off Simonstown around 0800B/16. HMS Hecla was immediately docked in the Selborne dry dock.
The Durban section of convoy WS 18 was then joined around 1000B/16 by the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. D.M.L. Neame, DSO, RN). This ship had been en-route from Durban to Simonstown and had now been ordered to escort the Durban section with HMS Gambia absent.
The Durban section arrived at Durban around noon on the 18th.
On 19 May 1942, the Capetown section of the convoy departed from there. It was now made up of the Bulkoil (American (tanker), 8071 GRT, built 1942), Dempo, Empress of Canada, Marnix van St. Aldegonde, Nieuw Zeeland, Orbita, Orduna, Phemius, Reina del Pacifico and Waipawa. HMS Albatross was also with the convoy which was escorted by HMS Frobisher. The Phemus however had to return to Capetown later the same day.
On 23 May 1942, the Durban section of the convoy departed from there. It was made up of the Capetown Castle, City of Capetown, Clan Lamont (British, 7250 GRT, built 1935), Empire Woodlark (British, 7793 GRT, built 1913) and Llandaff Castle. They were escorted by the battleship HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN).
The two sections then merged, but the Reina del Pacifico was detached to proceed independently to Bombay arriving there on 2 June.
Around 0615C/27, the Phemus rejoined the convoy after having returned to Capetown on the 19th.
Around 2300C/27, the Llandaff Castle parted company with the convoy to proceed to Diego Suarez. HMS Frobisher went with her as escort. They arrived there around 2000C/29.
Around 1330C/30, the light cruisers HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN) and HMS Enterprise (Capt. J.C.A. Annesley, DSO, RN) joined. HMS Resolution, HMS Albatross and the Empire Woodlark then parted company to proceed to Kilindini where they arrived the following morning.
At 0745D/31, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Worcestershire (A/Capt.(Retd.) E.H. Hopkinson, RN) joined. HMS Emerald then parted company.
Around 1530D/2, HMS Worcestershire parted company taking the Bulkoil, Phemius and Waipawa with her to Aden where they arrived around 0900C/4.
The remainder of the convoy continued on towards Bombay escorted by HMS Enterprise. It arrived at Bombay around 1100FG/7. (7)
31 May 1942
Around 1730C/31, the battleship HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN), seaplane tender HMS Albatross (A/Capt. F.W.H. Clarke, RN) and the transport Empire Woodlark arrived at Kilindini / Mombasa. (8)
7 Mar 1943
Around 1800C/7, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Carthage (A/Capt.(Retd.) W.V.H. Harris, DSC, MVO, RN), seaplane tender HMS Albatross (A/Capt.(Retd.) S. Barry, RN) and the destroyers HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN) and HMAS Quickmatch (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, DSC, RAN) departed Durban and proceeded northwards.
Around 1900C/9, HMS Albatross and HMAS Quickmatch parted company to proceed to Tulear, Madagascar where they arrived around 1200C/10. They departed again around 1515C/10 for Majunga where they arrived around 1215C/12. They departed Majunga around 1730C/12 for Kilindini where they arrived around 0830C/15.
HMS Carthage and HMAS Quiberon proceeded direct to Kilindini where they arrived around 1000C/13. (9)
17 Sep 1943
Convoy MKF 24.
This convoy departed Port Said on 17 September 1943.
It was made up of the (troop) transports; Clan Campbell (British, 9545 GRT, built 1943), Eastern Prince (British, 10926 GRT, built 1929), Staffordshire (British, 10683 GRT, built 1929) and Strathmore (British, 23428 GRT, built 1935).
The armed merchant cruiser HMS Carthage (A/Capt. U.H.R. James, RN) was also part of the convoy. She was en-route from the East Indies station to the U.K. to be decommissioned and be outfitted for her new role as troop transport.
The convoy was escorted by the escort destroyers HMS Aldenham (Lt.Cdr. H.A. Stuart-Menteth, RN), HMS Rockwood (Lt. S.R. Le H. Lombard-Hobson, RN), RHS Kanaris and RHS Miaoulis.
At 0620C/18, the Eastern Prince was detached to Alexandria.
The convoy arrived at Algiers on 22 September 1943.
On 28 September 1943 the convoy departed Algiers for the U.K.
It was now made up of the following (troop) transports; Almanzora (British, 15551 GRT, built 1914), Arundel Castle (British, 19118 GRT, built 1921), Athlone Castle (British, 25564 GRT, built 1936), Bergensfjord (Norwegian, 11015 GRT, built 1913), Cameronia (British, 16297 GRT, built 1920), Clan Campbell, Durban Castle (British, 17388 GRT, built 1938), Empress of Australia (British, 21833 GRT, built 1914), Marnix van St. Aldegonde (Dutch, 19355 GRT, built 1930), Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931), Otranto (British, 20026 GRT, built 1925), Ruys (Dutch, 14155 GRT, built 1937), Staffordshire, Strathmore, Tegelberg (Dutch, 14150 GRT, built 1937) and Volendam (British, 15434 GRT, built 1922).
The armed merchant cruiser HMS Carthage was still part of the convoy.
The convoy was escorted by the sloop HMS Pelican (Cdr. J.S. Dalison, DSO, RN) and the frigates HMS Evenlode (T/A/Lt.Cdr. A.L. Turner, RNR), HMS Jed (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Freaker, DSO and Bar, RD, RNR), HMS Rother (Lt.Cdr. W.R. Hickey, RNR), HMS Spey (Lt.Cdr. B.A. Rogers, RD, RNR) and HMS Wear (Cdr. E. Wheeler, RD, RNR).
At 0700A/30, the Ruys and Volendam were detached.
At 0900A/30, the Empress of Australia and Monarch of Bermuda were detached.
At 0930A/30, the (troop) transports Empire Might (British, 9209 GRT, built 1942), Highland Princess (British, 14133 GRT, built 1930) and Rochester Castle (British, 7795 GRT, built 1937) joined coming from Gibraltar.
Also the following warships joined at the same time; escort carriers HMS Attacker (Capt. W.W.P. Shirley-Rollison, RN), HMS Hunter (Capt. H.H. McWilliam, RN), HMS Stalker (Capt. H.S. Murray-Smith, RN), seaplane carrier HMS Albatross (A/Capt.(Retd.) S. Barry, RN) and the destroyers HMS Wishart (Lt. J.A. Holdsworth, RN) and HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. R.B.S. Tennant, RN).
At 1400A/30, the Volendam rejoined.
At 1500A/30, the AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) joined coming from Gibraltar.
At 1600A/30, the Ruys rejoined.
At 0420A/1, the Bergensfjord, Highland Princess and Volendam parted company to proceed to Freetown. They took HMS Wishart and HMS Witherington with them as escorts. Also the destroyer HMS Malcolm (Lt. I.M. Clegg, RN) joined them which had came from Casablanca.
At 1300A/1, the Athone Castle was detached to proceed independently to New York.
At 0640Z/4, the light cruiser HMS Spartan (Capt. P.V. McLaughlin, RN) joined the convoy escort.
At 0635Z/5, HMS Spartan parted company with the convoy.
At 0930Z/5, HMS Charybdis and HMS Albatross parted company to proceed to Plymouth where they arrived on 6 October.
On 7 October the convoy arrived in U.K waters. The bulk of the convoy proceeded either to Greenock or to Liverpool.
6 Oct 1943
HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) and HMS Albatross (A/Capt.(Retd.) S. Barry, RN) arrived at Plymouth. (10)
- ADM 199/380
- ADM 234/318
- ADM 53/113710 + ADM 199/394
- ADM 53/113554 + ADM 53/114146 + ADM 199/394
- ADM 53/113558 + ADM 53/114138 + ADM 199/395
- ADM 53/114138
- ADM 199/1211
- ADM 53/115284 + ADM 53/116535
- ADM 199/643 + Report of proceedings of HMAS Quiberon for March 1943
- ADM 53/116877 + ADM 199/2550
ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.