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ADMIRALTY WAR DIARIES of WORLD WAR 2

 

VICE ADMIRAL, BATTLECRUISER SQUADRON , HOME FLEET - May to December 1940

 

Transcribed by Don Kindell, edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

 HMS Repulse (Peter Siddall, click to enlarge)

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Source: believed ADM 199/379

 

The reader will occasionally see the notation “1 group” or more groups in parenthesis. This indicates that the code group was corrupted in transmission or reception and could not be decoded

 


 

H.M.S. RENOWN

c/o G.P.O.

29th April 1940

 

No. B.C.S. 41/4B

 

Sir

 

I have the honour to forward the following report of proceedings for the period from the end of action between H.M.S. RENOWN and German battlecruiser force a.m. on the 9th April, until the second battle of Narvik on 13th April 1940.

 

9th April

 

2. The destroyers HARDY (Captain (D) 2nd Destroyer Flotilla), HUNTER, HAVOCK, HOTSPUR, GREYHOUND, ESK (Captain (D) 20th Destroyer Flotilla), ICARUS, IMPULSIVE, and IVANHOE in company with RENOWN, were unable to maintain the speed during the action and had fallen astern. At 0626 I ordered Captain (D) 2nd Destroyer Flotilla to proceed with the destroyers to patrol the entrance to West Fiord with the object of preventing the enemy approaching Narvik and at 0659, I signed to REPULSE (R) CinC, Home Fleet:

 

“Prevent German forces entering Narvik. Nine destroyers under Captain (D) 2 have been sent to patrol West Fiord.”

 

3. At 0805, I took RENOWN to the westward in the hope of intercepting the enemy should they have broken back to the southward.

 

4. At 0918, I received Admiralty message timed 0820 containing instructions that Narvik must be watched. I therefore decided to concentrate my force off the Fiord and signaled that intention in my 0946/9th April.

 

5. At 0952, I ordered REPULSE to join me in position 67 degrees North, 10 degrees East at 1300 and Captain (D) 2 and destroyers to join me in position 67 degrees North, 10-30 degrees East at 1800. BIRMINGHAM was sent to Scapa to fuel as she had only 40% remaining.

 

6. At 1145, I received the following signal timed 0952:

 

“D 2 (R) Admiral, B.C. One, From CinC. Admiralty’s 0626. Send some destroyers up to Narvik to make certain no enemy troops land. Norway is at war with Germany”

 

7. At 1200, as message timed 1121 was received from Captain (D) 2nd Destroyer Flotilla”

 

“Estimated time of arrival at Narvik 2000 with HARDY, HUNTER, HOTSPUR, and HAVOCK. ESK, ICARUS, GREYHOUND, and IVANHOE patrolling off minefield.”

 

8. At 1234, a further message was received:

 

“D 2 (R) B.C. One, CinC H.F. from Admiralty. Press reports state one German ship has arrived Narvik and landed a small force.

 

Proceed Narvik and sink or capture enemy ship.

 

It is your discretion to land forces if you think you can recapture Narvik from number of enemy present.

 

Try to get possession of battery if not already in enemy hands.

 

Details of battery follow.”

 

9. At 1405 contact was made with REPULSE, PENELOPE, BEDOUIN, PUNJABI, ESKIMO, and KIMBERLEY.

 

10. At 1436, I gave the following orders:

 

“PENELOPE (R) REPULSE, Close Screen. Patrol between positions ten miles and forty miles 180 degrees from Skomvoer Light. Battlecruisers will patrol twenty five North and South of 67-10 North, 10-30 East.”

 

11. At 1704, I received a message from Captain (D) 20th Destroyer Flotilla that ESK, ICARUS, and GREYHOUND had left patrol for the rendezvous ordered in my 0952.

 

12. At 1813 I received Captain (D) 2nd Destroyer Flotilla message timed 1751, 9th April:

 

“Admiralty, CinC H.F., B.C. One. Norwegians report that Germans hold Narvik in force, also six repetition six destroyers and one submarine are there and channel is possibly mined. Intend attacking at dawn high water.”

 

13. I thereupon considered the question of assisting Captain (D) 2nd Destroyer Flotilla with a stronger force.

 

For this I had PENELOPE, BEDOUIN, PUNJABI, ESKIMO, and KIMBERLEY available, but the latter formed the battlecruiser screen.

 

14. The time of the proposed attack was expressed as high water (High water was at 0140) and I considered that Captain (D) 2nd Destroyer Flotilla intended to attack in the morning twilight.

 

15. It would not be possible to get additional forces to Ofot Fiord by this time. I felt also that Captain (D) 2nd Destroyer Flotilla had made plans for the attack with the forces ordered by the Admiralty and that the addition of other forces involving delay and revision of the plan was liable to cause confusion.

 

The weather remaining thick and I foresaw further delay in PENELOPE and the Tribals joining and again making a further rendezvous with Captain (D) 2nd Destroyer Flotilla.

 

I decided therefore to maintain my forces in their present dispositions and ordered Captain (D) 20th Destroyer Flotilla to resume patrol with his destroyers.

 

16. At 1905, REPULSE reported to me that HOSTILE had proceeded into West Fiord to join Captain (D) 2nd Destroyer Flotilla.

 

10th April

 

17. At 0209, I received Admiralty message 0136/10th April.

 

“D 2 (R) B.C. One, CinC H.F. Norwegian coast defence ships EIDSVOLD and NORGE may be in German hands. You alone can judge whether these circumstances attack should be made. We shall support whatever decision you take.”

 

18. At 0406, I received Admiralty Message 1138, 9th April, giving instructions to ensure that no enemy forces reached Narvik.

 

19. The following reports were received during the 2nd Flotilla attack:

 

At 0436, “D 20 from D 2. 2nd D.F. attacking Narvik now. 0435”

 

At 0539, “D 20 from D 2. One cruiser, 3 destroyers off Narvik. Am withdrawing to westward. 0551”

 

At 0601, “D 2 from HOSTILE. 3 destroyers leaving harbour. 0555”

 

20. I thereupon, at 0621, signaled PENELOPE:

 

“D 2’s 0551. Proceed up West Fiord to support”

 

And I ordered all destroyers of the close screen to join PENELOPE.

 

21. I later intercepted the following message time 0645:

 

“PENELOPE from HOSTILE. Returning with HOTSPUR and HAVOCK. HUNTER sunk West Fiord. HARDY ashore. 5 to 6 large German destroyers in Narvik.”

 

22. At 0823 I made the following signal to:

 

“PENELOPE (R) BEDOUIN, D 20. Your object is to support retirement of 2nd Destroyer Flotilla, counterattacking enemy force as necessary. Then establish a patrol off minefield with object of preventing further enemy forces reaching Narvik.

 

23. I then received the following messages:

 

At 0837: “GREYHOUND (R) B.C. One from D 20. Proceed ahead and join 2nd D.F. retire if not sighted or superior opposition is met. 0756”

 

At 0844: “HOTSPUR (R) B.C. One, HOSTILE from PENELOPE. Indicate your position course and speed position with details of enemy forces. My position course and speed 67-25 degrees North, 13-05 East, 47 degrees, 28 knots. 0830”

 

At 0910: “B.C. One, PENELOPE from HOSTILE. My position 68-13 degrees North, 15-36 East. HOTSPUR badly damaged. Proceeding slowly down Fiord. Enemy retired direction of Narvik. Have blown up ammunition ship in Fiord. 0852.”

 

Later I received HOSTILE’s 0952/10

 

CinC H.F., Admiralty, B.C. One, R.A. (D) from HOSTILE. My 0645 to B.C. One. In action off Narvik, HARDY badly damaged running ashore. HUNTER sunk. HOTSPUR badly damaged and will require repair locally, HOSTILE is slightly damaged, but seaworthy. HAVOCK untouched. Enemy forces 5 or 6 large German destroyers LEBERECHT MAAS class. One enemy ship possibly sunk by torpedo. Three others observed damaged and on fire. About 6 merchant vessels sunk in harbour. Enemy made no attempt to chase whilst HOSTILE and HAVOCK covered retirement of HOTSPUR. Ammunition ship RAUENFELS with reserve ammunition stopped and blown up during retirement. A number of shore guns engaged ships, guns not larger than 6 inch and fire inaccurate. Intend to take HOTSPUR to Skjel Fiord to wait tugs. HOTSPUR concurs. 0952.”

 

24. At 1116 I made the following dispositions:

 

“PENELOPE (R) BEDOUIN, D 20, CinC H.F. Admiralty. Present situation. Enemy forces reported in Narvik consist of 1 cruiser, 5 destroyers, and one submarine. Troop transports may be expected to arrive through West Fiord or through the Inner Leads disregarding the minefield. Your object is to prevent reinforcements reaching Narvik. Establish a destroyer patrol between positions 67-47 degrees North, 14-20 degrees East and 68-02 degrees North, 13-40 degrees East. One destroyer also to patrol northeast of minefield during daylight. Enemy submarine may operate in West Fiord. Enemy may debouch in force to attempt to drive you off prior to his reinforcements arriving. Establish warning and A/S patrol 30 miles northeastward of your patrol line.

 

RENOWN and REPULSE unescorted will operate in vicinity of 67 degrees North, 10 degrees East. Report your dispositions.

 

Oiler BRITISH LADY escorted by GRENADE, ENCOUNTER are due Skjel Fiord 68 degrees North, 13-15 degrees East p.m. 12th April.

 

This fiord may be used for HOTSPUR if required.”

 

25. At 1137 I received Admiralty message timed 1046:

 

“B.C. One (R) CinC H.F. Report situation and disposition of forces in your area.”

 

26. At 1312 I received information that it was the Admiralty intention to send three SOUTHAMPTON class cruisers and eight destroyers to attack the enemy ships in harbour there.

 

27. At 1239 I received message from PENELOPE timed 1135:

 

“B.C. One (R) D. 20, BEDOUIN, CinC H.F. IMMEDIATE. PENELOPE in position 10 degrees ZPZQ 6 covering retirement of 2nd D.F. speed of advance 3 to 4 knots. HOTSPUR only capable of one hour’s steaming. Have instructed HOSTILE to take her in tow and proceed to Skjel Fjord. GREYHOUND and HAVOCK together retiring westward out of Vestraalen Fiord speed 15 knots.

 

28. At 1254, CinC, Home Fleet’s message times 0808 was received:

 

“B.C. One (R) Admiralty. IMMEDIATE. You are to concentrate on allowing no force from Narvik to escape. Reinforcements and oiler are on their way.”

 

29. At 1306, I received message times 1240 from GREYHOUND:

 

“B.C. One (R) PENELOPE, D 20. Am proceeding out of West Fiord with HAVOCK at 18 knots. Expect to arrive position 67-10 degrees North, 10-23 degrees East at 1815. Have 17 wounded on board. Fuel remaining GREYHOUND 190, HAVOCK 180 tons.”

 

30. At 1441, I signaled to:

 

“GREYHOUND (R) PENELOPE. Your 1240, remain in West Fiord, transfer wounded to PENELOPE. Oil available p.m. 12th April.”

 

31. At 1511 in consequent of CinC Home Fleet’s instructions involving a change of object, I ordered the redisposition of my force as follows:

 

“PENELOPE (R) CinC H.F. D 20. Admiralty. BEDOUIN. IMMEDIATE. My 1116, your object is now to prevent escape of enemy forces from Narvik through West Fiord or possibly through Tjeldsundet. Endeavour to maintain a warning destroyer patrol south of Tjeldoy with your main force northeast of Tranoy. If this position is untenable in dark hours, withdraw southwestward of Tranoy. You have freedom to alter these dispositions according to weather, local conditions, and enemy counter moves.:

 

32. At 1548, I received message times 1545, from GREYHOUND:

 

“Admiralty, CinC H.F., B.C. One, D. 20. Sighted enemy submarine in position 67-33 degrees North, 12-50 degrees East. After attack sighted bubble and small amount of oil fuel in the middle of pattern. Consider attack successful. Am searching the area with HAVOCK.”

 

33. At 1722, I ordered:

 

“GREYHOUND (R) PENELOPE. Your 1545, GREYHOUND and HAVOCK are to remain in vicinity for at least 24 hours. Submarine must on no account be allowed to escape.”

 

34. At 1750, I received message times 1718:

 

“BEDOUIN. From PENELOPE. Reference B.C. One’s 1511/10. Cancel my 1555. BEDOUIN and ESKIMO establish patrol south of Tjeldoy. Order remaining destroyers to rendezvous with me off Tranoy Light at 2045.”

 

35. At 2021, I received information that HOTSPUR and HOSTILE had anchored in Skjelfiord.

 

36. At 2031, I received Admiralty message times 2012:

 

“PENELOPE (R) B.C. One, CinC H.F. If in light of experience this morning you consider it justifiable operation take available destroyers in Narvik area and attack enemy tonight or tomorrow.”

 

37. At 2035, Admiral message timed 1904 was received:

 

CinC H.F. (R) C.S. 18, C.S. One, C.S. Two, B.C. One, R.A. (D). My 0057/10, your 2331/9, and my 0606/10. As enemy is now established at Narvik recapture of that place takes priority over operation against Bergen and Trondhjem. Expedition is being prepared as quickly as possible and you will be further informed when plans and time table are completed. In meantime it is of primary importance to prevent Narvik being reinforced by sea.

 

Steps should be seized and hold a temporary base near Narvik with (1 group) military forces Is under urgent examination.

 

In the meantime, you will presumably arrange for a temporary refuelling anchorage in North.

 

As Narvik must also be of primary importance to Germans it seems possible that battlecruisers may turn up there.

 

It will probably be necessary in immediate future to provide an escort for an expedition to Kingshaven in Faroe Islands.

 

Admiralty consider interference with communications in Southern areas must be left mainly to submarines, air, and mining aided by intermittent sweeps when forces allow.”

 

36. At 2145 I received information of the disposition made by PENELOPE in accordance with my 1511/10. The object of these dispositions was to prevent the escape of the enemy from Narvik.

 

The force under my command consisted of:

 

            RENOWN     BEDOUIN     HOTSPUR (damaged)

 

            REPULSE     PUNJABI      ESK (minelayer mounting two guns only)

 

            PENELOPE   ESKIMO      ICARUS (minelayer mounting two guns only)

 

            KIMBERLEY   IVANHOE (minelayer mounting two guns only)

 

            GREYHOUND

 

            HAVOCK

 

            HOSTILE

 

And these objectives had been assigned to them:

 

(1). To prevent escape of enemy forces from Narvik – (Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 0808/10).

 

(2). To prevent reinforcement of Narvik (Admiralty 1904/10)

 

(3). To attack the enemy in Narvik (Admiralty 2012/10)

 

39. In my view the situation required clarifying and accordingly I made the following signal timed 2219:

 

Admiralty 64 (R) CinC H.F., PENELOPE. Your 2012/10th April to PENELOPE appears to conflict with the policy outlined in your 1904/10th April not to PENELOPE which in my view is the correct one under the circumstances.

 

Further casualties to ships now under my command will jeopardize the prevention of reinforcements reaching Narvik.”

 

40. At 2304 I received information that the force of three SOUTHAMPTON'S allocated to a second attack on Narvik were to remain at Scapa until further orders.

 

11th April

 

41. At 0113, I received Admiralty message timed 2350:

 

CinC H.F., B.C. One 160. It is very undesirable that the battle cruisers should remain unescorted request you will arrange accordingly as soon as practicable. Admiralty are not clear whether 20th D.F. are still available in Northern area for escort duties.”

 

42. I had kept the battlecruisers well to seaward when without escort and I felt it was necessary as far as was in my power to prevent reinforcements arriving at Narvik.

 

ESK, ICARUS, and IVANHOE were patrolling off the minefield and ICARUS had captured the German ship ALSTER, loaded with army supplies. An attempt was made to scuttle but the prize was brought successfully to Skjelfiord.

 

43. At 0140, I received PENELOPE’s intentions (messaged timed 2310):

 

“Admiralty (R) B.C. One, CinC H.F. Consider attack is justifiable although element of surprise has been lost. Navigation dangerous from wrecks of ships sunk today eliminating change of successful night attack. Proposing attacking at dawn on Friday, since operation orders cannot be got out and issued for tomorrow in view of present disposition of destroyers on patrol. This message refers to your 2012/10.”

 

And at 0214, Admiralty’s 0148/11:

 

“PENELOPE (R) B.C. One, CinC H.F. B.C. one’s 2219/10th April. Instructions in Admiralty message 2012/10 hold good. We shall back whatever decision you make.

 

At 0255, Admiralty’s 0235/11:

 

“PENELOPE (R) B.C. One. CinC H.F. Your 2310/10. Approved to carry out attack at dawn Friday.”

 

44. At 0147, I received a report from HOSTILE (message timed 0030/11) as follows:

 

“B.C. One (R) PENELOPE. Local Chief of Police has provided following information: Tannholmfiord 66-53N, 13-04E. Warship seen steering northward at ?/10. Ten thousand ton German tanker which requested pilotage to Narvik during afternoon of 10/4 was still there at dark. Bodo 67-16N, 14-25E. Several German merchant vessels of six or eight thousand tons arrived during afternoon 10/4, believed to be transports.”

 

45. I consider the first duty of the force under my command remained the prevention of reinforcements reaching Narvik, of which these were apparently some. It also seemed possible that the ships were unloading at Bodo. I therefore signaled to PENELOPE at 0426:

 

PENELOPE (R) Admiralty, CinC H.F., D.20. HOSTILE’s 0030/11. Get a pilot from Tranoy. Take two destroyers and firstly attack enemy transports reported at Bodo 67-16 degrees North and secondly try and capture tanker at Tannholm, latitude 66-53 degrees North. Warship report at Tannholm must be considered. You should endeavour to be back on your patrol by dark today, Thursday.”

 

46. At 1054, lest there should be doubt as to his first object, I signaled the Commanding Officer of PENELOPE:

 

“PENELOPE (R) Admiralty, CinC H.F. Admiralty’s 0235/11 and my 0426/11. Attack on enemy transport must take precedence over attack on Narvik.”

 

47. At 1116 I received PENELOPE’s 0810:

 

“B.C. One from PENELOPE. Failed to procure pilot at Tranoy. Am proceeding to Fleinvaer to endeavour to get one there. If pilot is not available intend to proceed without. ESKIMO and KIMBERLEY in company.”

 

48. At 1149 I received a message timed 0917 from PUNJABI:

 

“B.C. One (R) Admiralty, CinC H.F. PENELOPE. From PUNJABI. Following information telephoned by Norwegian CinC to Tranoy pilot station at 0800 today, Thursday. Eight German warships in Narvik roadstead. 4 in Herjangs Fjiord, 1 in Ballangen; heavy shore batteries have been erected on hills above Narvik commanding harbour.”

 

49. At 1233, I received PENELOPE’s 0930:

 

“Admiralty (R) B.C. One, CinC H.F. BEDOUIN, from PENELOPE. My 2310/10, your 0233/11. S.O. Destroyers reports while on patrol last night south of Tjeldoy the approached Baroy Island Light. Several loud explosions took place in his vicinity. The explosions were of a different character and appeared to indicate controlled minefield and shore fired magnetic torpedoes. Activity was also observed ashore at Baroy Island. The indications were that shore defences were fully prepared. He withdrew his patrol to the southwest. He is of opinion that the operation on the lines of yesterday’s attack could not be carried out effectively. In light of this report I concur and regret I must reverse decision given in my 2340/10”

 

50. In view of the reports received and the lack of fully armed ships in my force I decided to redispose them with one primary object.

 

51. Accordingly at 1249, I signaled to PENELOPE:

 

“PENELOPE, D 20 (R) Admiralty, PUNJABI, BEDOUIN, CinC H.F. Our object is to prevent reinforcements reaching Narvik. PENELOPE, ESKIMO, and KIMBERLEY proceed in accordance with my 046/11. Captain D 20 is to organize remaining destroyers including GREYHOUND and HAVOCK to control West Fiord to the northeastward of a line drawn between positions 67-47 degrees North, 14-20 degrees East and 68-03 degrees North and 13-40 degrees East. Warning patrol should be maintained between Tranoy Light and Tjeldoy. HOSTILE and HOTSPUR remain in Skjelfiord guarding prize. Skjelfiord is to be regarded as a base.”

 

52. At 1316, I received PENELOPE’s instructions to Captain (D) 20 (message timed 1217):

 

“Captain (D) 20 (R) B.C. One. BEDOUIN. Unless you have any special orders of which I am unaware please carry out a patrol to northeastward of Tranoy Light until you receive further instructions from me.”

 

53. At 1308, I received the following message from HOSTILE:

 

“B.C. One. PENELOPE. (R) CinC H.F. Admiralty. Reliable Norwegian reports states enemy minefield has been laid in Southern Tjelsundet near Lodingen position 68-24 degrees North, 15-59 degrees East.”

 

54. At 1540, I received:

 

“B.C. One (R) Admiralty, CinC H.R. From PENELOPE. PENELOPE is aground off Fleinvaer Light. KIMBERLEY and ESKIMO standing by. 1500/11.”

 

55. At 1546 I signaled:

 

CinC H.F. (R) Admiralty, REPULSE. It will be necessary to sail REPULSE to refuel not later than 2000 tomorrow Friday.

 

No destroyer escort available.

 

RENOWN can remain in this area until p.m. 17th April, providing no high speed steaming is required.

 

PENELOPE and destroyers are all very short of fuel and I am relying entirely on BRITISH LADY.

 

Do not intend to deplete RENOWN until heavy ship reinforcements arrive.”

 

56. At 1615 I received the following message from HOSTILE:

 

“B.C. One (R) PENELOPE. My 0030/11, Tannholm Fiord German tanker has been sunk by Norwegian Force. Bodo 3 warships sighted at 1230 today Tuesday operating at entrance to Saltt Fiord. Nationality unknown. One German merchant vessel sailed northwards 2230 yesterday. Wednesday, possibly ALSTER captured by ICARUS. No other German vessel is at Bodo and previous reports should have referred to one German ship only.”

 

NOTE: The three warships referred to were PENELOPE, ESKIMO, and KIMBERLEY

 

57. At 1621 I received Admiralty message timed 1541:

 

“PENELOPE (R) B.C. One, CinC H.F. Your 0930/11 and B.C. One’s 1054/11, have all preliminary preparations made in case carrying out of attack on enemy forces in Narvik is ordered and report time at which you will arrive back after completion of operation.”

 

58. At 1720, when the battlecruisers were in position 67-50 degrees N, 8-14 degrees E. I received Admiralty message 1607/11, in consequence of which I altered course to 245 degrees and proceeded at the best possible speed.

 

59. At 1945, I received the following message, timed 1700, from PENELOPE”

 

“B.C. One (R) Admiralty, CinC H.F. My 1500, I am now afloat in tow of ESKIMO. “B” boiler room holed but pumps have water under control; in addition I am holed from 47 to 71 bulkheads platform deck is holding.

 

ESKIMO is towing me to Skjelfjord. My speed of advance 4 knots. KIMBERLEY was instructed at 1630 to proceed to Bodo and deal with enemy transport.

 

60. At 2035, I received message timed 1733 from BEDOUIN:

 

“PENELOPE (R) CinC H.F. An unexplained underwater explosion took place 200 yards on the starboard beam at 1603 today Thursday. 115 fathoms area was searched by PUNJABI (1 group) no contact made.

 

I consider this (1 group) due to a new type of mine which is being laid singly by small boats in likely patrol or passage routes as previously a very light (2 groups) very sensitive magnetic mine which may be operated by approach of definite pole are (1 group) of either type. On both occasions of explosions D/G coils have been switched on but ships has not been over S/G range. My position 68-13 degrees North. 15-43-20 degrees East.

 

61. At 2132 I received message timed 1955, from KIMBERLEY:

 

“B.C. One, D 20, PENELOPE, CinC H.F Admiralty. No enemy ship at Bodo. Hostilities confirmed by Norwegian armed trawler which closed me off mole. Only German ship here was ALSTER. Two Norwegian Merchant ships carrying troops sail tonight for Mosgen under escort of SYRIAN. Am retuning to West Fiord. Oil fuel remaining 109 tons.”

 

62. At 2213 I received CinC Home Fleet’s 2006/11 in consequence of which the battlecruisers carried out a zig zag patrol during the night and joined the Commander in Chief’s flag at 0730 on 12th April.

 

12th April

 

63. The Battle Cruiser Squadron remained in company with the Commander in Chief until 1600. RENOWN was then detached to cover FURIOUS while aircraft were flown off for the bombing attack on the enemy forces in Narvik. Touch with RODNEY was regained at 2145.

 

64. At 2314, I commenced to transfer my flag to H.M.S. WARSPITE in preparation for a further attack on Narvik.

 

The report on this, the second attack, is forwarded in my B.C.S. No. 017 dated 25th April 1940.

 

 

I have the Honour to be, Sir, Your obedient servant

 

                                    (sgd) W.J. Whitworth,

 

VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING, BATTLE CRUISER SQUADRON

 

 


 

                                                15th May 1940

 

No. B.C.S. 41/4

 

Sir,

 

I have the honour to forward the following report of proceedings from the conclusion of the 2nd Battle of Narvik on 13th April 1940 until the arrival of H.M.S. WARSPITE at Greenock on 28th April 1940.

 

2. The report of the 2nd Battle of Narvik is contained in my No. 017, dated 28th April 1940.

 

14th April

 

3. In accordance with my signal timed 0634, H.M.S. WARSPITE with FOXHOUND, ICARUS, HERO, and PUNJABI left Narvik for West Fiord with the intention of returning later.

 

4. At 0931 Admiralty Message timed 0913/14 was received addressed to the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, requesting an estimate of enemy strength at Narvik.

 

5. At 0945, I ordered PUNJABI to Skjel Fiord to make good defects and return to U.K.

 

6. At 1027 I replied to Admiralty Message 0913/14 as follows:

 

“Your 0913. Information from Norwegian sources estimate 1500 to 2000 troops in Narvik. German Naval Officer prisoner states that there were many more than this, but I think this statement was made with intent to deceive. He also states that guns on shore are being positioned with the main object of opposing a landing but COSSACK aground in Narvik Bay for 12 hours yesterday was not seriously molested.

 

My 2210/13 April not to AURORA or SOUTHAMPTON. I am convinced that Narvik can be taken by direct assault without fear of meeting serious opposition on landing. I consider the main landing force need only be small but it must have the support of Force B or one of similar composition. A special requirement being ships and destroyers with best available A/A armaments.”

 

7. At 1203 information was received in Flag Officer, Narvik’s 1022 that AURORA and SOUTHAMPTON would arrive Skjel Fiord at 2000. Flag Officer, Narvik, requested that all available information might be there by that time. I remained therefore in the vicinity of Skjel Fiord in order to communicate with Flag Officer, Narvik, on his arrival.

 

8. At 1235 information was received in SOUTHAMPTON’s 0910 that Brigadier Frazer would be flown over by SOUTHAMPTON’s aircraft to discuss the situation on the assumption that WARSPITE would still be in Ofot Fiord. As WARSPITE was by this time in West Fiord the appointment could not be kept and aircraft was ordered to return to SOUTHAMPTON.

 

9. At 1400 SOUTHAMPTON’s aircraft reported she was over enemy submarine at 68-42 degrees N, 16-10 degrees E.

 

10. At 1434, I ordered IVANHOE to hunt enemy submarine reported by SOUTHAMPTON’s aircraft.

 

11. At 1443 I received information regarding Flag Officer Narvik’s proposals in his message timed 1327, as follows”

 

“Following for General. In view of successful naval action at Narvik yesterday 13th April and as enemy appear thoroughly frightened suggest we take every advantage of this before enemy has recovered.

 

If you concur and subject to information we shall receive tonight 14th April from WARSPITE I should be most willing to land military forces now in SOUTHAMPTON at Narvik at daylight tomorrow Monday from AURORA and destroyers.

 

Supporting fire could be provided by cruisers and destroyers and I could assist with a naval and marine landing party of 200 (R) 200 if you wish.”

 

12. At 1636 I received information of the Commander in Chief’s intention to retain WARSPITE in the Narvik area until the army was established ashore (Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1410).

 

13. At 1729 Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, ordered ESK, IVANHOE, ICARUS, PUNJABI, HOSTILE, and HERO to rendezvous with him p.m. 15th April. Vice Admiral Commanding, Battle Cruiser Squadron to report what time they could leave Skjel Fiord, their duties being taken over by FAULKNOR, FOXHOUND, FORESTER, BEDOUIN, ZULU, KIMBERLEY, ESCAPADE, and ELECTRA.

 

14. At 1812 I informed Flag Officer, Narvik, that I intended to remain in West Fiord ready to operate against Narvik when required.

 

15. At 1813, the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, in his 1408 ordered PUNJABI to remain at Skjel Fiord until required for escort duties.

 

16. At 1904, I received information that owing to troops having already been landed from SOUTHAMPTON at Vaags Fiord, Flag Officer, Narvik, intended postponing assault on Narvik till Tuesday 16th April (Flag Officer Narvik’s 1847).

 

17. At 1935 I sent FOXHOUND to Skjel Fiord with all available information for Flag Officer, Narvik.

 

18. At 1941 SOUTHAMPTON with General Mackesey on board having proceeded direct to Vaags Fiord, Flag Officer, Narvik, expressed his intention of arriving there Monday 15th (Flag Officer, Narvik’s 1852).

 

19. At 1944 a submarine was reported by shore observers leaving Tys Fiord.

 

20. At 2034 a submarine was reported by PENELOPE off Tranoy Light proceeding northward.

 

21. At 2136, I ordered KIMBERLEY to proceed to Skjel Fiord and IVANHOE to maintain A/S patrol between Baroy Island and Tranoy Island until required to rendezvous with the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet.

 

22. At 2131 I received CinC Home Fleet’s signal 1610/14 in which the dispositions of certain Home Fleet ships were given.

 

Paragraph (b) (i) and (iii) of this signal detailed:

 

(i). WARSPITE, SOUTHAMPTON, and AURORA to remain under orders of Flag Officer, Narvik, until troops have landed then return to Scapa.

 

(iii). Destroyers for general and A/S duties in Narvik area to act as screen and work with WARSPITE.

 

23. At this time my appreciation of the situation was that the Germans were concentrating on getting submarines back into Ofot Fiord and I considered that a continuous A/S patrol must be maintained in this area. In order to expedite the change over of destroyers I intended to sail from West Fiord with ESK, IVANHOE, ICARUS, PUNJABI, HAVOCK, HOSTILE, and HERO and rendezvous with Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, as ordered by him, leaving FOXHOUND and FORESTER later to be joined by BEDOUIN and KIMBERLEY to patrol the approaches to Ofot Fiord, and effecting the change over to return to WARSPITE in West Fiord and operate against Narvik as required by Admiral of the Fleet Lord Cork.

 

15th April

 

24. At 0232 I received Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s signal 0029/15 with revised destroyer dispositions. This necessitated cancelling previous orders to KIMBERLEY and FORESTER and ordering them to rendezvous with the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, at 1600.

 

25. At 1600, I effected a rendezvous with the Commander in Chief, ESK, IVANHOE, FORESTER, ICARUS, and KIMBERLEY joined the Commander in Chief.

 

26. At 1915 I detached HERO to transfer flying personnel to ENCOUNTER and to proceed to Skjel Fiord to fuel.

 

27. At 2000 I parted company with the Commander in Chief with HOSTILE, HAVOCK, and FOXHOUND in company. Proceeded on course 345 degrees to operate to the westward of Skumvoer Light while awaiting further orders from Flag Officer, Narvik. At this time it was anticipated that an attack on Narvik would take place on Tuesday 16th April.

 

28. At 2216 Flag Officer, Narvik, had arrived in the area and destroyers, other than those placed under my command, were operating in West Fiord. I consider that the question of operational control required to be clarified.

 

29. I therefore signaled to Flag Officer, Narvik:

 

“Am operating to westward of Skumvoer Light. HOSTILE, HAVOCK, and FOXHOUND in company. Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1610/14/4 paragraph (b) (i) and (iii). I am not taking operational control of any Narvik forces in Narvik area other than those now in company unless ordered by you. 2216/15”

 

16th April

 

30. At 0930 I passed VALIANT proceeding to Scapa with FEARLESS, GRIFFIN, and BRAZEN.

 

31. At 1554 information was received (Admiralty Message 1438/16) of the presence of U boats and I ordered PENELOPE to send all available destroyers to hunt and moved further to the westward, no further orders having been received from Flag Officer, Narvik.

 

32. At 1931 I received Flag Officer, Narvik’s appreciation of the situation at Narvik ruling out the possibility of an assault and reporting the disembarkation of military forces at Harstad (Flag Officer, Narvik’s 1201/16).

 

33. At 2039 I received Flag Officer, Narvik’s 1816/16 as follows:

 

“I should be obliged if you would consider feasibility of following operation and conduct it if you consider it promising with ships and destroyers you have available 19th April.

 

(ii). General has asked for large ferry steamers which ply across entrance to Rombaks Fiord and any small craft there may be sunk as they form line of supply for German detachment around Grotangen. These ferries and small craft which might retire up fiord to be destroyed by gunfire.

 

(iii). While this was being done AURORA and what destroyers you detailed to cut out and remove steamers lying at anchorage in Herjangs Fiord.

 

(iv). While this operation was in progress a battalion of infantry would be landed from VINDICTIVE in Bogen.”

 

17th April

 

34. WARSPITE with close screen continued to patrol to the westward of Skumvoer Light.

 

35. At 1215 I made the following reply to Flag Officer, Narvik’s 1816/16:

 

“Your 1816/16th April. The opposition which may be expected in carrying out this operation consists of submarine and air attack and defensive fire from shore guns and machine guns. There is no evidence yet that the larger gun defence is in operation.

 

(ii). The recent naval actions and patrols by destroyers have probably brought water traffic outside the harbour to a stop and no vessels were seen or have been reported in Herjangs Fiord. Nevertheless consider communications from Narvik to Bjervik essential to enemy for Grotagan and frozen lake aerodrome.

 

(iii). Objects of operation I suggest are:

(a). to cut communication between Narvik and Bjervik.

 

(b). To land troops at Bogen.

 

(c). To destroy all merchant ships in Narvik harbour. These were left afloat on 13th April because it was believed that Narvik harbour could be occupied almost immediately.

(iv). Should you concur in these objects, I consider the course of action should be:

 

(a). To carry out a preliminary submarine hunt in Ofot Fiord and approaches on 18th April.

 

(b). Cut line of supply to Bjervik by:

 

(i). Destroying all local water craft east of 17-10 degrees East.

 

(ii). Destroyer piers at entrance to Rombaks Fiord, at Bjervik, and any others in Herjangs Fiord.

 

(iii). Destroy road bridges on east shore of Herjangs Fiord.

 

(c). Protect VINDICTIVE at Bogen from submarine and air attack. It is assumed your information rules out opposition to landing.

 

(v). Forces to be used. The above tasks can be performed by cruisers and destroyers. Not considered therefore that WARSPITE should be exposed to the risk of submarine attack for lesser object than capture of Narvik. AURORA is suitable ship for attack on shipping and watercraft in Narvik from position off entrance. Estimate eight destroyers will do rest.

 

(vi). Basic time for operation will be time to detach VINDICTIVE from main force off Bogen. Request it may be communicated.

 

(vii). Should like to conduct operations from AURORA but there may be difficulty in transferring by destroyer to AURORA if bad weather continues.

 

36. At 1900 I effected a rendezvous with BEDOUIN, HERO, and GRENADE and sent FOXHOUND, HOSTILE, and HAVOCK to Skjel Fiord to replenish as far as possible with oil and stores.

 

18th April

 

37. At 1650 I received Commander in Chief’s 1617/18, ordering me to proceed to Rosyth at best possible speed with four destroyers. I ordered HAVOCK, HOSTILE, and FOXHOUND to embark all passengers for U.K. and then to join me.

 

19th April

 

38. At 0500 HAVOCK, HOSTILE, and FOXHOUND joined and together with HERO formed a close screen. BEDOUIN and GRENADE were detached to Skjel Fiord. I proceeded for Rosyth at 23 knots.

 

39. At 1701 I received Commander in Chief’s 1634/19 ordering me to return to Narvik area. Course was altered to the northward and I requested instructions from Flag Officer, Narvik, stating that I was concerned for the condition of the 55 wounded who had now been six days in WARSPITE.

 

20th April

 

40. Instructions were received to join Flag Officer, Narvik, in Vaags Fiord. I reported my time of arrival as 0500 on Sunday, 21st April.

 

21st April

 

41. Entry into Vaags Fiord was delayed by weather. WARSPITE anchored in the oiling berth at Bydon in Vaags Fiord at 1550. The transport FRANCONIA was also there discharging troops and stores.

 

42. Since enemy aircraft were sighted and dropped bombs which fell very wide. Nevertheless the oiler was ordered to lie off until the visibility was such as to ensure safety.

 

43. I embarked in FOXHOUND and proceeded to Harstad to call on Flag Officer, Narvik.

 

44. H.T. FRANCONIA reported that accommodation was available for passengers and some wounded. Passengers from HARDY and other damaged destroyers were accordingly transferred to the number of 300. Two German Naval Officers and seven rating prisoners, taken at the 2nd Battle of Narvik, were also sent.

 

45. Hospital accommodation for the wounded had been offered at Hartsat but it was considered advisable to send the minor cases to the U.K. in FRANCONIA and retain the cot cases in WARSPITE.

 

22nd April

 

46. At 0500 the oiling and storing of the destroyers was completed and WARSPITE sailed with HOSTILE, HAVOCK, HERO, and FOXHOUND again in company.

 

47. I proceeded to the westward and awaited instructions for a further attack on Narvik. These I received at 1715.

 

23rd April

 

48. During the 23rd April, WARSPITE patrolled to the westward.

 

24th – 26th April

 

49. At 0200 on 24th April I joined the Flag of Admiral of the Fleet Lord Cork in position 67-56 degrees N 14-11 degrees E.

 

50. The force consisting of EFFINGHAM (Flag), WARSPITE, ENTERPRISE, VINDICTIVE, AURORA and destroyers then proceeded to Narvik where a bombardment of the fixed defence areas was carried out in accordance with the orders received. (A report of this operation was forwarded in B.C.S. 017/1 dated 30th April 1940).

 

51. On completion at 1000 I received orders to return to Scapa which reached at 1600 on 26th April. Wounded were transferred to the hospital carrier and available stores were embarked.

 

27th April

 

52. At 1100 on 27th April WARSPITE sailed for Greenock via the Minches, HOSTILE, HERO, and FOXHOUND acted as screen.

 

28th April

 

53. On arrival at Greenock P.M. on Sunday 28th April I transferred my flag to RENOWN at Rosyth.

 

I have the honour to be, Sir, Your obedient servant,

 

VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING, BATTLE CRUISER SQUADRON.

 

 


 

 

 

SECRET

 

WAR DIARY OF VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING, BATTLE CRUISER SQUADRON

 

(Enclosure to B.C. One’s No. 379/B.C.S. 41/4 of 21st June 1940)

 

1st to 17th May

 

H.M.S. RENOWN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral Commanding, Battle Cruiser Squadron, in dock at Rosyth.

 

2. H.M.S. REPULSE at Scapa

 

3. H.M.S. HOOD refitting at Devonport.

 

18th to 20th May

 

4. H.M.S. RENOWN undocked on 18th May, and anchored in Firth of Forth.

 

21st May

 

5. H.M.S. RENOWN carried out trials on D/G range in Firth of Forth, screened by HIGHLANDER and ASHANTI.

 

22nd May

 

6. H.M.S. RENOWN proceeded to carry out further D/G trials screened by HIGHLANDER, ASHANTI, and BULLDOG, but had to return to anchorage owing to fog.

 

23rd May

 

7. H.M.S. RENOWN, screened by HIGHLANDER, ASHANTI, and BULLDOG, sailed for Scapa at 0400, carrying out trials on D/G range in Firth of Forth before proceeding.

 

8. H.M.S. RENOWN arrived Scapa at 1900.

 

24th to 31st May

 

9. H.M. Ships RENOWN and REPULSE at Scapa.

 

10. H.M.S. HOOD sailed from Plymouth on 27th May and arrived Liverpool to dock on 28th May.

 

 


 

 

SECRET

 

WAR DIARY OF VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING, BATTLE CRUISER SQUADRON

(n.b. message reference chopped)

1st to 4th June

 

H.M.S. RENOWN (flying the Flag of Vice Admiral Commanding, Battle Cruiser Squadron), and H.M.S. REPULSE at Scapa.

 

H.M.S. HOOD at Liverpool completing refit.

 

5th June

 

2. At 2100, in accordance with the instructions of Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, I took H.M. Ships RENOWN, REPULSE, NEWCASTLE, SUSSEX, ZULU, MAORI, KELVIN, FORESTER, and FOXHOUND under my orders and sailed from Scapa to intercept two unknown vessels which had been reported by H.M.S. PRUNELLA at 1130, when in position 64-45 degrees North, 0-24 degrees East, bearing 245 degrees, 11 miles, approximate true course 265 degrees, speed 20 knots.

 

6th – 8th June

 

3. The search for the two unidentified ships was continued. A full report of this operation was forwarded to the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet in B.C.S. 41/4 of 14th June (Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s Number to Admiralty 1095/H.F. 1207 of 24th June, 1940)

 

9th June

 

4. H.M.S. RENOWN, having been ordered by the Admiralty to return to Scapa, arrived there at 0600, with ZULU and KELVIN in company.

 

5. Consequent on a report being received that enemy forces had sunk a transport off the Northern Norwegian Coast, the Commander in Chief, sailed from Scapa in H.M.S. RODNEY with H.M.S. RENOWN and six destroyers in company at 1200.

 

6. H.M. Ships REPULSE, NEWCASTLE, and SUSSEX who had remained in Icelandic waters investigating reports of German forces landing in Iceland, were directed by the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, to move to the Eastward in support of the Norwegian convoys then returning with troops and stores from Norway.

 

7. At 1614, Admiralty message was received stating that a German broadcast claimed German naval forces including SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU operating in support of Narvik troops had sunk “GLORIOUS, ORAMA, Oiler PIONEER, a destroyer and a modern U boat chaser.”

 

8. The Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, with H.M.S. RODNEY and H.M.S. RENOWN proceeded North to cover all slow convoys on passage to Scapa.

 

9. H.M.S. RENOWN remained in company with the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, throughout the ensuing operations and until return to Scapa on Saturday, 15th June.

 

10th June

 

10. In company with the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet. At 0411, the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, directed REPULSE, now in company with VALIANT, SUSSEX, and NEWCASTLE to return to Scapa after escorting the convoys to latitude 59-30 degrees North.

 

11. At 1350 ships assumed second degree of A.A. readiness as a shadowing aircraft had been sighted.

 

12. At 1515 the Vice Admiral, Aircraft Carriers in ARK ROYAL joined the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, and took station between RODNEY and RENOWN. Skuas sent up from ARK ROYAL drove off the enemy shadowing aircraft.

 

11th June

 

13. In company with the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet.

 

REPULSE arrived Scapa 2200.

 

12th June

 

14. In company with the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet.

 

Ships in company proceeded eastward to give Skuas from ARK ROYAL an opportunity of attacking enemy ships at Trondheim.

 

15. At 1730 HOOD sailed from Liverpool to rendezvous with convoy U.S. 3 bound for the Clyde.

 

13th June

 

16. In company with the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet.

 

At 0015 Skuas from ARK ROYAL took off to attack Trondheim.

 

17. Two destroyers of the screen, ELECTRA and ANTELOPE were in collision in thick fog.

 

14th June

 

18. In company with Commander in Chief, Home Fleet covering damaged ELECTRA and ANTELOPE steering to westward.

 

15th June

 

19. In company with the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet.

 

Arrived Scapa 1800

16th – 17th June

 

H.M. Ships RENOWN (flying the flag of Vice Admiral Commanding, Battle Cruiser Squadron) and REPULSE at Scapa.

 

H.M.S. HOOD arrived Greenock with convoy U.S. 3, 16th June.

 

18th June

 

2. H.M.S. HOOD sailed for Gibraltar.

 

19th June

 

3. Main and secondary Armament and H.A. practice carried out by RENOWN at Scapa, screened by TARTAR, MASHONA, and MAORI.

 

4. On arrival in harbour at 1355 RENOWN and accompanying destroyers were directed by Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, to investigate a coast watcher’s report that eight destroyers were sighted 155 degrees Burgh Head, Stornoway, 8 miles, course 245 degrees, at 1304, also three escort vessels, 136 degrees Deerness, 12 miles, course 230 degrees at 1310. As there reports were presumably based of the sighting of a destroyer, H.M.S. ZULU (not eight as signaled) and three of our minesweepers, RENOWN and destroyers returned to Scapa.

 

20th June

 

At Scapa

 

21st June

 

5. RENOWN and REPULSE screened by INGLEFIELD, FORESTER, ESCORT, ZULU, and DIANA sailed from Scapa to intercept an enemy battle cruiser reported hit by a torpedo from H.M.S. CLYDE in position 64-43 degrees North, 9-53 degrees East at 2235 on 20th June.

 

22nd June

 

6. Battle cruisers and screening destroyers taking part in the operation against the enemy battle cruiser arrived at Scapa.

 

23rd June

 

7. Ships at Scapa at one hour’s notice from 1030 to 1330 standing by to cover cruisers acting in support of damaged submarine WILK.

 

24th – 30th June

 

8. H.M. Ships RENOWN and REPULSE at Scapa.

 

REPULSE carried out firing practices in Pentland Firth on 25th June.

 

RENOWN and REPULSE carried out full calibre main armament concentration shoot at battle practice target on 27th June. Secondary armament and H.A. practices were also carried out on the same day. Ships were screened by INGLEFIELD, BEDOUIN, DIANA, ASHANTI, and TARTAR.

 

9. H.M.S. HOOD was detached from the Battle Cruiser Squadron and joined Force H under the command of Vice Admiral Sir James Somerville, KCB, DSO.


 

 

SECRET

 

WAR DIARY OF VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING, BATTLE

 

CRUISER SQUADRON FOR PERIOD 16TH TO 31ST JULY 1940

(n.b. message reference chopped)

PART I

 

CHRONOLOGICAL DIARY OF EVENTS

 

Disposition of ships of the Battle Cruiser Squadron

 

H.M. Ships RENOWN (flying the flag of Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron) and REPULSE with the Home Fleet.

 

H.M.S. HOOD based on Gibraltar with Force H.

 

16th – 26th July 1940

 

2. At Scapa – nothing of interest to record.

 

27th July 1940

 

3. H.M. Ships RENOWN and REPULSE, forming part of Force A, under the Command of Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron proceeded to sea at 2000, as there were indications of enemy naval activity in the North Sea, particularly in the vicinity of Trondheim.

 

Force A was composed of DEVONSHIRE (flying the flag of Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron), RENOWN (flying the flag of Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron), REPULSE, SHEFFIELD, YORK, AUSTRALIA, ASHANTI and MASHONA (screening cruisers), and TARTAR, PUNJABI, ARROW, FIREDRAKE, FORTUNE, and FURY (screening the Battle Cruisers).

 

4. After leaving the swept channel the force proceeded on course 082 degrees at 27 knots.

 

28th July 1940

 

5. On reaching position 58-58 degrees North, 00-44 degrees East at 0110 course was altered to 022 degrees and speed reduced to 25 ½ knots until position 61-28 degrees North, 2-54 degrees East was reached at 0800 on 28th July.

 

6. ZULU and MAORI joined the Cruiser screen during the early morning. In the absence of any information from air reconnaissance of enemy movements, course was altered at 0800 to 290 degrees and Force A proceeded to 62-07 degrees North, 1-07 degrees West, arriving at 1400.

 

At 1400 the force altered to an easterly course (097 degrees), reaching 62 degrees North, 2 degrees East at 1800.

 

7. At this time the Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron turned over the command of Force A to Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron and he proceeded in DEVONSHIRE to cover a convoy proceeding from Greenock to Iceland.

 

Force A then returned to Scapa on a course of 210 degrees, making good 21 knots.

 

8. Throughout the operation an escort of fighters was provided continuously during daylight hours. No German aircraft were seen and it is considered that the movements of Force A remained unknown to the enemy.

 

29th July 1940

 

9. Force A, less DEVONSHIRE, with ZULU and MAORI arrived at Scapa at 0700.

 

30th – 31st July 1940

 

10. At Scapa – nothing of interest to record.

 

 

PART II & APPENDICES

 

Blank

 

 


 

 

SECRET

 

WAR DIARY OF VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING, BATTLE

 

CRUISER SQUADRON FOR PERIOD 1ST – 15TH AUGUST 1940

(n.b. message reference chopped)

 

PART I – CHRONOLOGICAL DIARY OF EVENTS

 

Disposition of ships of the Battle Cruiser Squadron

 

1st – 9th August

 

H.M. Ships RENOWN (flying the flag of Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron) and REPULSE with the Home Fleet at Scapa

 

H.M.S. HOOD based on Gibraltar with Force H.

 

Nothing of interest to record.

 

10th August

 

H.M.S. HOOD arrived Scapa

 

Flag of Vice Admiral Sir James F. Somerville, KCB, DSO (Flag Officer Commanding Force H) transferred from HOOD to RENOWN and flag of Vice Admiral W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, transferred from RENOWN to HOOD at 1800.

 

11th – 12th August

 

At Scapa – nothing of interest to record

 

13th August

 

RENOWN sailed from Scapa as Flagship of Force H.

 

14th – 15th August

 

H.M. Ships HOOD and REPULSE at Scapa. Nothing of interest to record

 

 

PART II and Appendices

 

Blank

 

 


 

 

SECRET

 

WAR DIARY OF VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING, BATTLE

 

CRUISER SQUADRON FOR PERIOD 16th – 31st AUGUST 1940

 

Disposition of ships of the Battle Cruiser Squadron

 

16th August

 

H.M. Ships HOOD (flying the flag of Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron) and REPULSE with the Home Fleet at Scapa

 

H.M.S. RENOWN (flying the flag of Flag Officer Commanding Force H proceeding to Gibraltar.

 

H.M.S. HOOD sailed for and arrived Rosyth, escorted by H.M. Ships COSSACK, SIKH, MAORI, and VORTIGERN.

 

17th – 23rd August

 

HOOD at Rosyth alongside in the Tidal Basin. Left gun of “A” turret removed and replaced by a reconditioned gun.

 

24th August

 

HOOD sailed for Scapa escorted by INGLEFIELD, ESCAPADE, JAVELIN, and ECHO.

 

25th – 31st August

 

HOOD and REPULSE at Scapa. Nothing of interest to record.

 

 

PART II and Appendices

 

Blank

 

 


 

 

  

SECRET

 

WAR DIARY OF VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING, BATTLE

 

CRUISER SQUADRON FOR PERIOD 1ST – 15TH SEPTEMBER 1940

 

Disposition of ships of the Battle Cruiser Squadron

 

1st – 5th September

 

H.M. Ships HOOD (flying the flag of Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron) and REPULSE with the Home Fleet at Scapa.

 

H.M.S. RENOWN detached service with Force H.

 

Nothing of interest to record.

 

6th September

 

Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, proceeded to sea in NELSON with H.M. Ships NAIAD, BONAVENTURE, FURIOUS, and 6th Destroyer Flotilla to carry out air attack on shipping off the Norwegian Coast.

 

Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron Senior Naval Officer Afloat Scapa during absence of Commander in Chief, Home Fleet.

 

At 2318 Admiral Message 2225/6 received reporting large collection of self propelling barges had been located moving westward along Belgian Coast and in occupied French ports.

 

Cruisers and destroyers at Scapa were ordered to keep steam at immediate notice – H.M. Ships HOOD and REPULSE at 2 ½ hours notice during the night.

 

7th September

 

At 0253 Admiralty message 0108/7 received reporting German convoys of large transports passing Great Belt northwards on 4th and 5th September. Also that there was a further report of German troops embarking from Norway for the invasion of Iceland.

 

At 0442 received Admiralty Message 0255/7 giving Admiralty appreciation of the situation and stating it was considered necessary to have a force off Iceland to prevent a landing there.

 

At 0859 received Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 0653 to V.A.C.B.C.S. directing H.M. Ships BERWICK, NORFOLK, REPULSE, and four destroyers to sweep towards Seidisfjord, Iceland, with moderate despatch.

 

At 1115 BERWICK with REPULSE, NORFOLK, ZULU, SIKH, KASHMIR, and KIPLING proceeded in accordance with Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 0653. Commander in Chief, Home Fleet in NELSON arrived Scapa at 2000.

 

8th – 9th September

 

At Scapa. Nothing of interest to record.

 

10th September

 

H.M. Ships BERWICK, NORFOLK, REPULSE, and four destroyers arrived Scapa at 2030 on return from their sweep to Iceland.

 

11th-12th September

 

At Scapa. Nothing of interest to record.

 

13th September

 

Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, in NELSON, Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron in HOOD with H.M. Ships NAIAD and BONAVENTURE and screened by SOMALI, ZULU, SIKH, KASHMIR, KIPLING, and ESKIMO sailed from Scapa at 0714 and arrived Rosyth 1930.

 

14th September

 

Flag of Rear Admiral (D) hoisted in REPULSE at Scapa.

 

15th September

 

At Rosyth. Nothing of interest to report.

 

 

 

PART II and Appendices

 

Blank

 

 


 

 

SECRET

 

WAR DIARY OF VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING, BATTLE

 

CRUISER SQUADRON FOR PERIOD 15th – 30th SEPTEMBER 1940

 

PART I – CHRONOLOGICAL DIARY OF EVENTS

 

Disposition of ships of the Battle Cruiser Squadron

 

15th – 23rd September

 

HOOD at Rosyth flying the flag of Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron.

 

REPULSE at Scapa flying the flag of Rear Admiral (D)

 

RENOWN on detached service with Force H.

 

24th September

 

Flag of Rear Admiral (D) transferred from REPULSE to MAIDSTONE

 

25th – 27th September

 

Nothing of interest to record.

 

28th September

 

In accordance with the instructions contained in Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1643/28 Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron in HOOD with NAIAD (CS 15), TARTAR, ZULU, and ELECTRA sailed from Rosyth at 1800 as there were indications that an enemy force which might have included HIPPER, merchant vessels, and fighter aircraft were 60 miles west of Stavanger at 1400.

 

HOOD with ships in company proceeded through position 57-05 degrees North, 00-20 degrees West and thence towards 62-00 degrees North, 03-30 degrees East.

 

Meanwhile Rear Admiral (D) who had rehoisted his flag in REPULSE sailed from Scapa at 2014 with BERWICK, NORFOLK, MATABELE, ESKIMO, PUNJABI, and DUNCAN proceeding east of Orkneys to position 62-00 degrees North, 3-30 degrees east.

 

On receipt of Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s message 0909/29 directing ships to return to base HOOD was in position 60-30 degrees North, 1-00 degrees east and course was altered to Scapa.

 

At 1230 RD/F report from NAIAD indicated presence of unidentified aircraft. From reports since received it seems probably that these aircraft were 801 Squadron from Hatston.

 

NAIAD was detached at 1630 for Rosyth. REPULSE and ships in company were not sighted.

 

At 1910 HOOD, TARTAR, ZULU, and ELECTRA arrived Scapa.

 

At 2330 REPULSE, BERWICK, SOMALI, ESKIMO, PUNJABI, and DUNCAN arrived Scapa.

 

Flag of Rear Admiral (D) transferred from REPULSE to MAIDSTONE.

 

KENYA arrived Scap to work up. Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron, Senior Naval Officer afloat at Scapa.

 

30th September REPULSE screened by SOMALI, ESKIMO, and PUNJABI sailed for Rosyth.

 

REPULSE to dock and give leave.

 

NORFOLK arrived Scapa.

 

 

 

PART II and appendices

 

Blank

 

 


  

 

WAR DIARY OF VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING, BATTLE

 

CRUISER SQUADRON FOR PERIOD 1ST – 15TH OCTOBER 1940

 

Disposition of ships of the Battle Cruiser Squadron

 

1st October

 

H.M.S. HOOD flying the flag of Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron at Scapa (Senior Naval Officer Afloat).

 

H.M.S. REPULSE at Rosyth, docking and giving leave.

 

H.M.S. RENOWN detached with Force H.

 

Conference held on board H.M.S. HOOD with the Commanding Officer H.M.S. CURACOA to discuss the question of Fighter Protection for East Coast Convoys; B.C. One’s signal (Cypher file No. 48/October (Appendix 1)

 

2nd – 3rd October

 

Nothing of interest to record.

 

4th October

 

H.M. Ships DIDO and PHOEBE arrived Scapa to work up.

 

H.M.S. MANCHESTER, flying the flag of Vice Admiral Commanding 18th Cruiser Squadron arrived Scapa for Gunnery practices.

 

Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron continued to carry out routine duties of the Fleet Anchorage, while Vice Admiral Commanding 18th Cruiser Squadron, as Senior Naval Officer Afloat, assumed operational responsibility for ships present.

 

5th – 6th October

 

Nothing of interest to record.

 

7th October

 

Commanding Officers H.M. Ships BERWICK and FURIOUS attended meeting on board H.M.S. HOOD to discuss details of projected air operation against Tromso and shipping on the Norwegian coast (Operation D.H.).

 

H.M.S. KENYA sailed P.M. to rendezvous with convoy W.S. 3 Fast.

 

8th – 10th October

 

H.M.S. ARETHUSA, flying the Flag of Rear Admiral Commanding 2nd Cruiser Squadron arrived Scapa for working up practices after refit.

 

12th October

 

H.M.S. BERWICK took H.M. Ships NORFOLK, FURIOUS, SOMALI, MASHONA, ESKIMO, and DUNCAN under his orders and proceeded at 1730 for Operation D.H.

 

The orders for this operation (B.C.S. 016/12 of 10th October) issued by the Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron are attached as Appendix 2.

 

H.M.S. MANCHESTER, flying the flag of Vice Admiral Commanding 18th Cruiser Squadron proceeded at 2200 to Rosyth.

 

Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron resumed operational responsibility for ships present.

 

13th – 14th October

 

Nothing of interest to record.

 

15th October

 

H.M.S. HOOD, screened by H.M. Ships SOMALI, ESKIMO, and MASHONA proceeded at 1500 for full calibre practice at Battle Practice Target in Pentland Firth, and Operation D.H.

 

On completion of the Gunnery practice, H.M.S. HOOD proceeded to join Force “D” passing through positions 63 degrees North, 04 degrees West at 0800, 16th October; 67-30 degrees North, 01-30 degrees West at 0330, 17th October and thence on Course 059.

 

 

 

PART II

 

Blank

 

 


 

Appendix 1.

 

Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron’s signal File No. 48/October.

 

 

COPY OF MESSAGE

 

To: CinC Rosyth (R) CinC H.F.From: B.C. One

 

A.C.O.S. R.A.D.     

 

IMPORTANT

 

File No. 48

 

CURACOA reports that air attacks on convoys between Buchan Ness and Duncansby Head take the following form.

 

(1). Reconnaissance machine located convoy during a flight usually between 1400 and 1600. So far machine has been DO 17.

 

(2). Two attacking aircraft approach and locate convoy about one hour after sunset when light prevents aircraft being engaged. Aircraft circle and cross convoy selecting target and awaiting favourable opportunity to attack. Nature of attacks which have been identified have been very low level bombing but torpedoes may have been fired. Protective gunfire can only be unaimed and ineffective.

 

Recommendations. Even if the destruction of the attacking aircraft by a fighter escort cannot be achieved owing to lack of light it is considered that the presence of an escort of one long range fighter would be detected by the raiders on their approach and would act as a deterrent to these effective and routine attacks on our convoys.

 

The escort should join soon after sunset and establish a patrol close round the convoy at a height of not more than 1000 feet.

 

It will be necessary to prohibit A.A. fire unless identity of enemy aircraft is established by attack.

 

Opportunity for effective action by fighter may arise if enemy discloses his position by tracer machine gunfire.

 

      T.O.O. 1217/1st October 1940

 

      T.O.D. 1406/1

 

 

Appendix 2.

 

B.C.S. 016/12 of 10th October 1940 (Operation D.H.U.)

 

 


 

 

MOST SECRET

 

H.M.S. HOOD - 10th October 1940

 

No. B.C.S. 016/12

 

MEMORANDUM

 

AIR ATTACK ON NORWEGIAN COAST

 

(Short Title Operation D.H.U.)

 

(Reference H.F. 001325/717 dated 10th September 1940)

 

Forces taking part

 

BERWICK           Senior Officer

NORFOLK

FURIOUS

Oiler MONTENOL

Destroyer Screen

 

This force will be known as Force “D” but in order to provide alternative delivery groups for use during Rugby W/T Routines, may also addressed as Force “Y”. For details see paragraph 22.

 

2. The following positions are established:

W.    62-00 degrees North          04-00 degrees West

 

G.     63-00 degrees North          04-00 degrees West

 

B.     67-30 degrees North          01-30 degrees West

 

O.     71-00 degrees North          01-00 degrees East

 

P.     62-00 degrees North          01-00 degrees East

Information

 

3. Own Forces

 

Disposition of own forces in the area is communicated nightly by signal from Admiral Commanding Orkneys.

 

Enemy Forces

 

As in Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s No. H.F. 001325/717 of 10th September 1940 (Operation D.H.) Any further information available will be communicated before sailing.

 

Times of sunrise, sunset, moonrise, moonset off Tromso are:

 

Sunset 1610/16, moonrise 1610/15, end of nautical twilight 1826/15, start of nautical twilight 0454/15, moonset 0700/16, sunrise 0709/16. There is a full moon during the night of 16th/17th October.

 

Intention

 

4. The operation is planned in two phases. Phase 1 is an attack on targets in the Tromso area by aircraft operated from FURIOUS. Phase 2 is an attack on coastal shipping on the Norwegian Coast between latitudes 61 degrees North and 62-50 degrees North. After Phase 2 aircraft may return to FURIOUS or to Hatston refuelling at Sumburgh if necessary. (Phase 2 is similar to Operation D.F. carried out of 7th September).

 

Object

 

5. To attack shipping and military objectives at Tromso – Phase 1.

 

To attack coastal shipping – Phase 2.

 

Execution

 

6. Admiral Commanding Orkneys is requested to sail the oiler MONTENOL escorted by two Tribals (Screen One) to arrive Skaale Fiord, Faroes p.m. on 12th October in accordance with Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1019/9th October. On arrival destroyers are to complete with fuel.

 

7. Force D escorted by 4 destroyers (Screen two) will be sailed to pass Hoxa Boom at 1800 on Day 1 (12th October) and will proceed along the meridian of 4 degrees West to arrived Position W at 0900 on Day 2 (13th October).

 

8. Screen one is to sail from Skaale Fiord to rendezvous with Force D in position W on Day 2 (13th October). After Screen One has joined, screen two is to be detached to return to Scapa.

 

9. After passing through position W Force D will continue as laid down in paragraph 10, speed of advance 15 knots. If Screen one does not make contact at position W, it is to endeavour to locate Force D on the line of advance.

 

10. Force D is then to proceed through positions, G, B, and O to a flying off position in the vicinity of Tromso arriving at midnight Day Four/Five (October 15th/16th).

 

11. Phase 1. The whole operation is to be carried out during moonlight. Alternatively, if conditions are not suitable, the attack is to be carried out during moonlight at such a time as to permit landing on at dawn.

 

12. On completion of Phase 1 the Force is to retire along the same route reaching position G at 1400 on Day Seven (18th October).

 

13. Rear Admiral Commanding Home Fleet Destroyers is requested to sail four destroyers (Screen 3) to rendezvous with Force D in position G at 1400 on Day seven (October 18). Screen 1 is then to be detached to Skaale fiord to escort oiler MONTENOL back to Scapa.

 

14. If contact is delayed, Screen 3 is to remain within sight of the rendezvous until dark on Day Seven (18th October) whereupon Screen 3 is to stand to the southwards returning to position G at dawn on Day eight (October 19th).

 

Screen 3 is then to cast to the north along Force D’s line of advance returning again to position G at 1400 on day eight (October 19th).

 

These movements are framed to allow for delay to Force D or postponement of Phase 1 (see paragraph 17).

 

15. Force D is then to proceed to vicinity of position P to carry out Phase 2 if circumstances are favourable.

 

16. On completing Phase 2 Force is return to Scapa keeping to the westwards of the Shetlands unless the weather conditions require otherwise.

 

Postponement

 

17. If weather is unsuitable, Phase 1 may be delayed 24 hours.

 

The arrangements made for the change of Screens (paragraph 14) allow for no communication of this delay being made. At the Commanding Officer BERWICK’s discretion a signal may be made announcing the delay thereupon the Rear Admiral Commanding Home Fleet Destroyers is requested to arrange for Screen 3 to make rendezvous on Day eight (October 19th) only.

 

Conduct of the Operations

 

18. The Main Attack should be broken off if the weather conditions overland prove unsuitable.

 

19. Full discretion is allowed as to whether or not Phase 2 is carried out.

 

20. The Commanding Officer BERWICK is in charge of the operations as a whole, but it is to be guided by the requirements of the Commanding Officer FURIOUS who will issue the necessary orders for the flying operations.

 

21. The Rear Admiral Commanding Home Fleet Destroyers is requested to detail and sail destroyers as necessary to comply with these instructions.

 

22. Communications

 

(i). Amend H.F. 001325/717 dated 10th September 1940 paragraph 8 (ii) lines 6 and 7 to read:

“Using delivery groups for Force Y from 1800 Day two until 1800 Day eight which will allow for the Force being delayed in the North for at least 24 hours.”

(ii). For ship to ship direct working call signs for Force D are to be used if necessary.

 

NOTE: Alternative delivery groups have been provided to allow for a message being transmitted on more than one broadcast. Unless this is done there might be an indication to the enemy that ships concerned were near the limit of the two services.

 

(iii). Attention is drawn to the fact that SP. 02198 (10) comes into force at 0001 on 15th October 1940.

 

(sgd) W.J. Whitworth

 

VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING

BATTLE CRUISER SQUADRON

 

Distribution shown separately.

 

 


  

 

WAR DIARY OF VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING, BATTLE

 

CRUISER SQUADRON FOR PERIOD 16th – 31st OCTOBER 1940

 

PART I – CHRONOLOGICAL DIARY OF EVENTS

 

Disposition of Ships of the Battle Cruiser Squadron

 

16th October

 

H.M.S. HOOD (flying the flag of Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron) at sea on Operation D.H.U. (B.C.S. 016/12 of 10th October forwarded as an Appendix to War Diary for period 1st – 15th October.

 

H.M.S. REPULSE at Rosyth docking and giving leave.

 

H.M.S. RENOWN detached with Force H.

 

HOOD, screened by SOMALI, ESKIMO, and MASHONA passed through position 63 degrees North, 04 degrees West at 0800 on course 013 degrees to act as cover to BERWICK, NORFOLK, and FURIOUS (Force D) operating aircraft for attack on Tromso on night of 15-16th October (a report of this operation is being forwarded separately through the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet.

 

17th October

 

HOOD and escorting destroyers altered course to 059 degrees at 0327 to pass through position 68 degrees North, 00-40 degrees East at 0800 to rendezvous with Force D. The visibility was very low and Force D was not sighted.

 

On reaching 68-39 degrees North, 3-40 degrees East at 1255, course was altered to 239 degrees and at 1717 to 203 degrees to rendezvous with the relief destroyer escort (DOUGLAS, ISIS, and DUNCAN) in position 63-00 degrees North, 04-00 degrees West at 1400/18, while at the same time providing cover for Force D on passage south.

 

18th October

 

Phase II of Operation D.H., namely aircraft attack on shipping off the Norwegian coast was abandoned owing to thick fog which persisted throughout. In Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron’s signal 1122/18 abandoning the operation DOUGLAS and ISIS were directed to proceed to Skaale Fiord, Faroes to escort oiler MONTENOL to Scapa. DUNCAN was directed to join Force D returning to Scapa.

 

19th October

 

HOOD carried out a 4 inch full calibre firing at Battle Practice Target in Pentland Firth, arriving at Scapa at 1230. BERWICK, NORFOLK, and FURIOUS arrived Scapa at 1245.

 

20th October

 

BERWICK sailed from Scapa for the Clyde and ceased to be a unit of the Home Fleet on arrival there.

 

REPULSE arrived from Rosyth after docking and giving leave.

 

21st October

 

Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1943/21, received at 2345 directed Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron to issue orders on the lines of Operation D.N. Home Fleet Charge Document H.A. 1 of 20th September 1940 for three destroyers of the 6th Destroyer Flotilla to operate in the Statlandet area.

 

22nd October

 

In compliance with Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1943/21 Rear Admiral (D) was directed to sail three destroyers of the 6th Destroyer Flotilla to arrive Sullom Voe before dark on 22nd October.

 

Captain (D) 6 in SOMALI with MASHONA and PUNJABI sailed for Sullom Voe at 1120. Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron’s 1218/22 gave the necessary operation orders (copy attached – Appendix I).

 

Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron’s 1929/22 directed Captain (D) 6 to patrol eastward of the Shetlands instead of proceeding to Sullom Voe as the enemy had shown marked interest in the Shetlands during the day. Captain (D) 6 was also directed to leave the latitude of Lerwick at daylight on 23rd October to patrol between 61-15 degrees North, 0-00 degrees West and Muckle Flugga to search for homeward bound U boat.

 

23rd October

 

Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron’s 1041 to Captain (D) 6 passed information respecting our own and enemy forces which might be encountered in the operation off Statlandet. (Appendix II).

 

At 1202, Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1201 was received directing Battlecruisers, cruisers (negative NIGERIA) and destroyers at Scapa to raise steam for full speed with all despatch. This was followed at 1254 by Commander in Chief’s 1157 stating that there were indications of an important movement taking place from Northern Norway to the Skaggerrak, unit, or units concerned probably at Trondheim area forenoon of 23rd and that possibly an 8 inch cruiser was involved.

 

Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1249 directed ships to proceed in two groups, Group I, ARETHUSA, NORFOLK, and SOUTHAMPTON to sweep towards Statlandet, sailed at 1440. Force II, Battlecruisers, DIDO, PHOEBE, and all available destroyers to sweep towards Obrestadt, sailed at 1530.

 

Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1427 directed Group II to keep north of Latitude 58-50 degrees North, and to withdraw along that latitude if nothing was sighted by 0200 or on reaching 4 degrees East, whichever was earlier.

 

24th October

 

Nothing was sighted by 0200 and Group II turned 180 degrees. Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 2331/23 received at 0859 directed Captain (D) 6 to repeat Operation D.N.U. on the night of 24th/25th, if nothing sighted on previous night. Remaining ships were directed to return to their bases if no further information was received by 1000/24.

 

Captain (D) 6; message 0630/24 reported that he had attacked one small vessel on the night of 23rd -24th and that his force was returning to Scapa.

 

Captain (D) 6’s report of this operation was forwarded to the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet under cover of B.C.S. 016/16 of 27th October 1940.

 

At 1209 a message was received from Admiral Commanding Orkneys directing ships not to enter Hoxa Gate until further orders.

 

Three floating mines which appeared to be British Mark 14 or 15 had been sighted earlier in the forenoon.

 

Group II proceeded to the westward for H.A. practices. The delay in permitting ships to enter Hoxa was due to the unexplained explosion in MENDIP when exercising about three miles south east of the Barrell of Butter. Later it was established that the explosion was internal and due to depth charges.

 

HOOD passed Hoxa Gate at 1700 and REPULSE half an hour later. The cruisers of Group I had already entered through Switha.

 

25th October

 

Lieutenant Commander Eller, U.S.N. American Observer Officer joined HOOD from NORFOLK. NORFOLK proceed to the Tyne for refit.

 

26th October

 

ARETHUSA (Rear Admiral Commanding 2nd Cruiser Squadron) sailed for Rosyth at 2230 on completion of working up after refit.

 

27th October

 

Nothing of importance to record

 

28th October

 

Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 0950 directed Battlecruisers, SOUTHAMPTON, DIDO, PHOEBE, FURIOUS, and destroyers to raise steam.

 

At 1254, Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1157 addressed AUSTRALIA and Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron was received stated that it was possible a raider was in the position 57-46 degrees North, 25-44 degrees West at 1826/27, steering east-north-east.

 

Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron was directed to proceed with available forces at Scapa and to be in position 63 degrees North, 6 degrees West at 0600 29th October, and then to steer to the westward.

 

AUSTRALIA in the Clyde was directed to proceed to position 57 degrees North, 9-30 degrees West and then northwards along 09-30 degrees West.

 

At 1500, Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron and ships in company passed Hoxa Gate. The following ships composed the force:

 

HOOD, REPULSE, FURIOUS, DIDO, and PHOEBE, screened by SOMALI, MASHONA, PUNJABI, ESKIMO, DOUGLAS, KEPPEL, VIMY, and CLEVELAND.

 

29th – 30th October

 

A full report of this operation which continued throughout 29th and 30th October was been forwarded to the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet (B.C.S. 016/17 of 3rd November 1940)

 

31st October

 

All forces engaged returned to their bases.

 

 

 

PART II

 

Blank

 

 

Appendix I

 

Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron’s 1218/22 October 1940

 

 

Appendix II

 

Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron’s 1041/23rd October 1940.

 

(n.b. neither appendix was included in copies)

 

(sgd) W.J. Whitworth

VICE ADMIRAL

 


  

 

SECRET

 

WAR DIARY OF VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING, BATTLE

 

CRUISER SQUADRON FOR PERIOD 1ST – 15TH NOVEMBER 1940

 

PART I – CHRONOLOGICAL DIARY OF EVENTS

 

Disposition of ships of the Battle Cruiser Squadron

 

1st November

 

H.M.S. HOOD (flying the flag of the Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron) and H.M.S. REPULSE at Scapa

 

H.M.S. RENOWN detached with Force H.

 

H.M.S. EDINBURGH arrived Scapa to work up after refit.

 

Lieutenant Commander Eller, U.S.N. American Observer Officer left HOOD to stay with Vice Admiral Commanding Orkneys and Shetlands before proceeding south.

 

2nd – 4th November

 

Nothing of importance to record.

 

5th November

 

H.M.S. NELSON (Commander in Chief, Home Fleet), RODNEY, NAIAD (Rear Admiral Commanding 15th Cruiser Squadron), BONAVENTURE, escorting destroyers and minesweepers arrived Scapa from Rosyth.

 

At 2028 intercepted signal from A.M.C. JERVIS BAY ocean escort of convoy HX 84 reported that convoy was being shelled in position 52-54 degrees North, 32-23 degrees West by a warship of the GRAF SPEE class.

 

Commander in Chief, Home Fleet directed HOOD, REPULSE, NAIAD, PHOEBE, BONAVENTURE, and 7 destroyers to raise steam with all dispatch.

 

This force was put under the orders of Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron, formed the Battle Cruiser force and sailed from Scapa at 2330 to proceed through position 58-40 degrees North, 07-30 degrees West thence outside Hebrides to 55-00 degrees North, 13-00 degrees West then southward along the meridian of 13-00 degrees West to 50-00 degrees North to cover the approaches to Lorient and Brest.

 

6th – 11th November

 

At sea operating again the German Warship which had attacked convoy HX 84. A full report of the proceedings during this period has been forwarded to Commander in Chief, Home Fleet (B.C.S. 016/21 of 14/11/40).

 

REPULSE arrived Scapa 1100 11th November, BONAVENTURE at 1125 and HOOD with NAIAD, PHOEBE, SOMALI, ESKIMO, and PUNJABI at 1400.

 

At 1930/11 DIDO sailed from Scapa for the Clyde to carry out repairs to shell racks, etc., prior to accompanying FURIOUS on Operation STRIPE.

 

At 2158/11 received Admiralty message 2055 directing BONAVENTURE to proceed immediately to position of attack on convoy HX 84 and carry out search for survivors.

 

BONAVENTURE sailed at 2340.

 

Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron in his message 1116/11 as amended by 0016/12 (enclosure No. 1) gave instructions for Rear Admiral Commanding 15th Cruiser Squadron to take REPULSE and escorting destroyers under his orders and proceed to carry out the instructions given in Commander in Chief’s 1246/9, for REPULSE to relived NELSON in Iceland Faroes passage at 1200/13 and for a cruiser to patrol the Denmark Strait.

 

Rear Admiral Northern Patrol in Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron’s 0231/11 was directed to sail A.M.C. H.M.S. LETITIA to rendezvous with REPULSE in position 62-30 degrees North, 12-00 degrees West at 1200 on 13th November.

 

12th November

 

At 1330 NAIAD flying the flag of Rear Admiral Commanding 15th Cruiser Squadron with REPULSE, MATABELE, MASHONA, SIKH, and PUNJABI sailed from Scapa to take over patrol from NELSON.

 

At 2306 received Admiralty Message 2117/12 informing Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron that enemy might shortly be landing a very small but important scientific expedition at Jan Mayen Island and that a ship was to be sent there to capture the party.

 

13th November

 

COSSACK was detailed for this duty and sailed at 0130 13th November.

 

Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron at 1115 received the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1013 directing NAIAD to carry out operations at Jan Mayen Island with REPULSE as cover.

 

Commander in Chief, Home Fleet 1211 directed Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron to recall COSSACK to Scapa.

 

Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, in NELSON with MAORI, BEAGLE, BULLDOG, and KEPPEL arrived Scapa 1605.

 

14th – 15th November

 

Nothing of importance to record.

 

 

PART II

 

 Blank

 


 

 

Appendices.  

 

Enclosure I

 

Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron 1116 of 11th November, as amended by Vice Admiral

 

To: REPULSE. BONAVENTURE. R.A. (D)From: B.C. One

 

(R) A.C.O.S. C.S.15

 

Reference CinC H.F.’s 1246/9, note to REPULSE or BONAVENTURE. NELSON patrolling on T.R. Line with screen from COSSACK, MAORI, BRILLIANT, BULLDOG, KEPPEL, DOUGLAS, VIMY, BEAGLE, who refuel at Skaale Fiord. NORTHERN PATROL disposed as follows: Trawlers on T.R. lines as in daily signal from A.C.O.S. Armed Merchant Cruisers withdrawn from Denmark Straits. CHITRAL at Reyjavik. LETITIA arrives position 63-30 degrees North, 12-00 degrees West at 1200/13 from Clyde to patrol with REPULSE. All patrols to southwestward during daylight.

 

2. Special air patrols to westward of Faroes-Iceland passage signaled daily by CinC Rosyth.

 

3. RODNEY has proceeded towards Halifax to pick up homeward convoys. REVENGE leaves Clyde with outward convoy 12th November. SOUTHAMPTON, DIDO, FURIOUS leave Clyde area 15th November with fast convoy for Gibraltar later joined by MANCHESTER from Rosyth. FRIDTHOF NANSEN aground Jan Mayen Island whilst investigating a suspicious ship. HONNINGSVAAG and WISTARIA have gone to investigate both matters.

 

4. Oilers. OLIGARCH at Hval fiord. MONTENOL and perhaps one other at Skaale Fiord where vegetables may be available later for destroyers.

 

5. No reliable information as to enemy surface forces. Pocket Battleship believed to the westward.

 

6. CinC H.F.’s general intention is that REPULSE and LETITIA shall take over patrol from NELSON at 1200/13. BONAVENTURE to patrol in Denmark Strait after fuelling at Hval fiord.

 

7. REPULSE after fuelling is to sail from Scapa with BONAVENTURE and screen so as to rendezvous with LETITIA in position 62-30 degrees North, 12-00 degrees West at 1200/13 and then comply with CinC H.F.’s intentions detaching BONAVENTURE as necessary.

 

8. REPULSE to report intended time of sailing and route. R.A. (D) requested to pass copies of this message to destroyers detailed.

 

            T.O.O. 1116/11th November 1940

 

NAVAL MESSAGE

 

To: R.A.D. REPULSE. CS 15 (R) A.C.O.S.           From: B.C. One

 

My 1116/11 for BONAVENTURE read NAIAD throughout. Paragraphs 7 and 8, C.S. 15 will sail the force, detaching REPULSE and screen as necessary.

 

T.O.O. 0016/12th November 1940

 

T.O.D. 0129/12

 


 

 

SECRET

 

WAR DIARY OF VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING, BATTLE

 

CRUISER SQUADRON FOR PERIOD 16th – 30TH NOVEMBER 1940

PART I – CHRONOLOGICAL DIARY OF EVENTS

 

Disposition of ships of the Battle Cruiser Squadron

 

16th November

 

H.M.S. HOOD (flying the flag of Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron) at Scapa.

 

H.M.S. REPULSE at sea acting as cover to H.M.S. NAIAD carrying out operations off Jan Mayen Island.

 

H.M.S. RENOWN detached with Force H.

 

17th – 18th November

 

Nothing of importance to record

 

19th November

 

H.M.S. REPULSE arrived Scapa.

 

20th – 22nd November

 

Nothing of importance to record

 

23rd – 29th November

 

In accordance with the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1653/22 Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. HOOD screened by H.M. Ships COSSACK (Captain D 4), SIKH, ESKIMO, and ESCAPADE left Scapa at 1700/23 to act as covering force for Minelaying Operation being carried out by Rear Admiral (M.L.) to the north westward of Iceland.

 

A separate report of proceedings for this operation has been forwarded to the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet (No. B.C.S. dated 2nd December 1940).

 

H.M.S. HOOD and destroyers arrived at Scapa at 0845 on 29th November.

 

30th November

 

Nothing of importance to record.

 

 

PART II

 

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APPENDIX

 

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WAR DIARY OF VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING, BATTLE

 

CRUISER SQUADRON FOR PERIOD 1ST – 15TH DECEMBER 1940

 

PART I CHRONOLOGICAL DIARY OF EVENTS

 

1 December

 

Disposition of ships of Battle Cruiser Squadron. H.M. Ships HOOD (Senior Naval Officer Afloat Scapa – flying the flag of Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron) and REPULSE at Scapa. H.M.S. RENOWN detached with Force H.

 

2 December

 

At 1445 received Commander in Chief, Rosyth’s message 1320 giving aircraft report of convoy of 13 ships, course 160 degrees speed 10 knots just south of Statlandet.

 

At 2140 received Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1817 directing Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron to prepare to carry out Operation D.N. (Home Fleet Charge Document H.A. 1 of 23rd November 1940) in area Jadaernes Point to Lister Light. Force to consist of H.M. ships ARETHUSA (flying the Flag of Rear Admiral Commanding 2nd Cruiser Squadron), AURORA, and four Tribal destroyers.

 

At 2356 received Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 2341 directing Operation D.N. to be carried out in accordance with his 1817.

 

3 December

 

Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron’s messages 0047/3 and 0117/3 to Rear Admiral Commanding 2nd Cruiser Squadron and repeated other authorities concerned gave necessary orders for Operation D.N. to be carried out.

 

Forces taking part in this operation passed Hoxa Gate at 1100.

 

4 December

 

Admiral J.C. Tovey, CB, DSO, flying his flag as Commander in Chief, Home Fleet arrived Scapa in H.M.S. NELSON.

 

Rear Admiral Commanding 2nd Cruiser Squadron returned to Scapa on completion of Operation D.N. having sighted nothing.

 

5 December

 

H.M.S. REPULSE sailed from Scapa to act as cover to Rear Admiral Mine Layers, Minelaying Operation S.N. 10 A (H.M.S. ARETHUSA was escort for this operation).

 

6-9 December

 

Nothing of importance to record.

 

10 December

 

H.M. Ships REPULSE and ARETHUSA returned from acting as escort to Minelaying Operations.

 

11-15 December

 

Nothing of importance to record.

 

 

Part II

 

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Appendices

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SECRET

 

WAR DIARY OF VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING, BATTLE

 

CRUISER SQUADRON FOR PERIOD 16th – 31st DECEMBER 1940

 

PART I CHRONOLOGICAL DIARY OF EVENTS

 

Disposition of ships of the Battle Cruiser Squadron.

 

16 December

 

H.M. Ships HOOD (flying the flag of Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron) and REPULSE at Scapa

 

H.M.S. RENOWN detached with Force H.

 

17 December

 

Nothing of interest to record

 

18 December

 

H.M.S. HOOD carried out Gunnery practices in Pentland Firth A.M. and P.M. and at 1645 joined Commander in Chief, Home Fleet in H.M.S. NELSON who had sailed from Scapa flow P.M. with H.M.S. REPULSE and all available cruisers and destroyers. H.M. Ships FORMIDABLE and NORFOLK sailed independently from Scapa at 1700.

 

19 – 20 December

 

At sea in company with Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, carrying out exercises which included Air Attacks by aircraft from H.M.S. FORMIDABLE A.M. on the 19th. H.M.S. HOOD and ships which had sailed from Scapa in company with the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, returned to Scapa at 0930 20th December.

 

21 – 23 December

 

Nothing interest to record

 

24 – 29 December

 

At 1700 24th December H.M. Ships HOOD, EDINBURGH, COSSACK (Captain D 4), ECHO, ESCAPADE, and ELECTRA sailed to patrol Faroes – Iceland passage with the object of intercepting German ships that might be breaking out or returning to German during the Christmas period.

 

A detailed report of these operations has been forwarded direct to the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet (No. B.C.S. 41/4 of 2 Jan. 1941).

 

H.M.S. BERWICK reported having been in action with an enemy warship off the coast of Spain and in consequence H.M.S. REPULSE sailed from Scapa P.M. 25th December to give protection to convoys HX 97 and SC 16 (a report of proceedings from REPULSE was forwarded to the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, under cover of B.C.S. 41/4A of 2 Jan 1941).

 

29 December

 

H.M.S. HOOD screened by H.M. ships COSSACK, ECHO, ELECTRA, and ESCAPADE arrived Scapa 1015.

 

H.M.S. EDINBURGH which had sailed with H.M.S. HOOD on 24th December had been detached at 1500 on 28th to rendezvous with Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, in H.M.S. NELSON in position 63-05 degrees North 3-55 degrees West at 1200 29th December. (H.M.S. NELSON had sailed from Scapa at 1300 on 28th December.

 

30th December

 

Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron message 1143 directed Flag Officer Commanding 2nd Cruiser Squadron to carry out Operation D.Z. (H.F. 001340/571 of 22/12/40) to order this operation when a minimum of four destroyers became available.

 

31st December

 

H.M.S. REPULSE arrived Scapa 0600 on return from affording cover to convoys HX 97 and SC 16.

 

H.M.S. EDINBURGH arrived Scapa at 1050 and Commander in Chief, Home Fleet in H.M.S. NELSON at 1215.

 

 

 

PART II     

 

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APPENDICES 

 

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revised 16/7/11


 

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