Cruiser Squadron Eighteen’s War
Diary commenced on 1
Before this time, their activities being
carried by the Rosyth War Diary which only
began on 5 November 1939 (ADM 199/362) and
more broadly in the Daily Operations Report
for First Lord (ADM 199/1939 et al).
ADMIRAL COMMANDING, 18TH CRUISER SQUADRON
– 15th MARCH 1940
ENCLOSURE TO 18TH C.S. 155/682 OF 23RD March 1940
1st March 1940
“A” and “B” (n.b.
line whited out in
document; “Fleet tenders” were dummy battleships
PAKEHA and WAIMANA (REVENGE and RESOLUTION,
respectively), escorted by 4 destroyers,
Saturday, 2nd March
CS 18 in MANCHESTER)
left Scapa at 0730 and proceeded to take up patrol
N.P. 54. At 1030 a patrol aircraft reported
Swedish S.S. LAGAHOLM on fire and sinking in position
59-34 degrees North, 5-10
degrees West and a submarine submerging in the
vicinity. A lifeboat with survivors was also
sighted LAGAHOLM at 1145 when there was no sign of
fire, but ship had a big list. Aircraft were
directed by V/S to obtain assistance from trawler on
patrol TR 15, and MANCHESTER
altered course to N.E, away from the submarine, at
1200 and proceeded at 19 knots. The survivors
from the lifeboat were subsequently reported by
aircraft as having been rescued.
Fresh – strong W. wind. Sea
moderate, becoming rough.
Sunday, 3rd March
area at 0900 and reach patrol line N.P. 54 at 1300.
In position 62-37 degrees North,
16-00 degrees West, sighted and identified Norwegian
S.S. HALLINGDAL, for Oslo
with cargo of sugar. Weather being unsuitable
for boarding, she was escorted towards the W.
Weather.Northwesterly gale, veering N.N.W.
with heavy sea and swell.Visibility
moderate to good except in snow squalls.
Made rendezvous with NORTHERN SUN and turned
HALLINGDAL over to her.
290 degrees to return to eastern end of N.P. 54, but
excessive rolling (approximately 35 degrees each way)
made it necessary to heave to on course 330 degrees,
approximately speed of advance 4 knots.
1800, the weather was wind N. by W., Force 10, Sea 45,
Tuesday, 4th March
The gale moderated slowing during the night and
morning, and course was altered at 0900 to take up new
N.P. 54 (Flag Officer Commanding, Northern Patrol’s
message times 1231 of 4th March).
, the wind had back to
west, force 2 – 3. Sea
Slight, and extreme visibility.
arrived on patrol line, having been absent from it for
43 hours owing to the heavy weather encountered while
escorting HALLINGDAL to rendezvous.
Carried out range and inclination exercises with YORK
(on N.P. 53).
In position 62-54 degrees North,
14-00 degrees West, sighted and identified Danish S.S.
VENUS, with armed guard from DERBYSHIRE on
board. The officer in charge of the armed guard
signalled by semaphore
“Master demands an escort to Kirkwall”
and at the same time the signal “Desire an escort” was
made by VENUS by flags.
in Charge of the armed guard was directed to take the
ship to the West
rendezvous and given instructions contained in Flag
Officer Commanding, Northern Patrol’s signal 1101 of
5th March to DERBYSHIRE.
In position 62-39 degrees North,
15-40 degrees West, sighted and identified Swedish
S.S. JOHN from Buenos
Aires to Landskrona
with general cargo. Ship was boarded and it was
found that the whole cargo was covered by Navicerts
except for 200 tons of Ground Nut Expeller. Ship
was therefore sent in in
Strong S.W. winds veering west and reaching gale force
p.m. Visibility moderate,
In position 63-30 degrees North,
12-10 degrees West, sighted and identified Swedish
S.S. INGER, eastbound. Allowed
to proceed in accordance with Admiralty Message 2056
of 2nd March 1940.
In position 62-42 degrees North,
15-30 degrees West, sighted Belgian trawler VAN OOST,
steering S.S.E. She was allow
Friday, 8th March
Wind veered to North suddenly at 0500 and temperature
fell from 37 degrees F to 22 degrees F, considerable
snow in afternoon. Wind W. or N.W., squally.
In position 63-12 degrees North,
13-22 degrees West, sighted and identified Swedish
HAMMAREN, westbound, from Goteburg
Allowed to proceed.(C.A.F.O.
In position 63-09 degrees North,
13-22 degrees West sighted and identified Swedish ship
NORDSTJERNAN from Buenos
Aires to Sweden.
Allowed to proceed (Admiralty Message 2055) of 5th
In position 62-48 degrees North,
14-32 degrees West, sighted a darkened ship bearing
200 degrees about 10 miles. MANCHESTER
challenged twice with box lamp and five times with Aldis
without reply. The darkened ship altered course
accordingly chased and increased speed to 30 knots.
4 rounds of star shell were fired at the darkened
ship. The darkened ship, with was H.M.S.
CORINTHIA, then challenged V.F. and MANCHESTER
identified by V.C. CORINTHIA then made the first
private signal identification signal several times.
Meanwhile at 2301 a flashing light on the port quarter
had been reported and this proved to be a challenge
from H.M.S. CILICIA (N.P. 55). MANCHESTER
made identification signal in reply.
have arrived on N.P. 57 at 1600 (Flag Officer
Commanding, Northern Patrol’s signal 1232 of 4th March
1940) and would appear to have been some 50 miles too
far to the northward of her proper position when first
sighted, and keeping a very poor lookout.
Saturday, 9th March
left Scapa for patrol.
Wind westerly to north westerly, moderate to fresh in
morning with fine weather and extreme
visibility. In the afternoon a series of violent
squalls of snow, rain, and wind, the latter reaching
50 knots in gusts. At dark the weather cleared
and wind became moderate.
In position 63-34 degrees North,
11-35 degrees West sighted and identified Norwegian
S.S. HAALEGG from Philadelphia
to Aalsund. Ordered
her to proceed in accordance with Admiralty Message
2020 of 29th
Sunday, 10th March
left Scapa for patrol.
Fresh strong squally westerly winds veering to North
with snow and rain squalls. Visibility
good except in rain and snow.
In position 63-18 degrees North,
12-57 degrees West, sighted and identified Norwegian
M.V. TENTO from Newport,
Va.For Oslo with coal. Course and speed
before interception 065 degrees, 9 knots. Kept
her in company till 0800 when was boarded in 63-45
degrees North, 11-25
degrees West and released her, her whole cargo being
covered by a Navicert.
In 63-15 degrees North,
11-00 degrees West, sighted a Danish trawler steaming
on a N.W. course. Failed to
as illuminated with a searchlight and allowed to
proceed, as nothing suspicious was observed.
Arrived Scapa 0830.
Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, was present in RODNEY
and the Vice Admiral called on him, this being the
first occasion of being in his company since hoisting
the flag on 20th November 1939.
arrived, completed with fuel, and sailed.
She reported serious structural defects and was
visited by the Fleet Constructor Officer, who
recommended an immediate refit.
other ships of the 18th Cruiser Squadron were present
at Scapa up till 15th March.
Wednesday, 13th March – Friday, 15th March
completed with fuel and provisions, but had difficulty
in obtaining naval stores long on demand.
15th March, there was a violent North westerly gale
(with gusts up to 65 knots.)
of the 18th Cruiser Squadron on 15th March 1940
MANCHESTER (Flag) (4)
sea, covering Scandinavian convoy
Tyne, completing refit, p.m. 15th. Ready
to sail a.m. 17th
Belfast for repairs. Completing 22nd
Northern Patrol (left Scapa 9th)
Northern Patrol (left Scapa 10th)
Portsmouth (Leave and Degaussing). Ready
for sea a.m. 16th
Fitted with temporary degaussing arrangements
Being fitted with D.G.
Fitted with temporary D.G., but gear out of
Not fitted with D.G.
ADMIRAL COMMANDING, 18TH CRUISER SQUADRON
– 31st MARCH 1940
Saturday, 16th March
At Scapa. At 1952, an enemy
air attack on the fleet began. The attacked
commenced at dusk. MANCHESTER
was the only ship of the 18th Cruiser Squadron
present, and was A.A. guardship,
but delay in opening fire occurred due to the pom-pom
and 0.5 machine guns crews having been prematurely
fallen out. As a result the first wave
attackers were not engaged and only one of
the second wave when retiring. The first wave
scored a direct hit on NORFOLK.
fired 60 round 4 inch and 140 inch rounds pom-pom in
subsequent attacks, but was not herself
attacked. The “all clear” was given at 2115.
Sunday, 17th March
was ordered direct from convoying duty with the
Norwegian convoy to the Tyne
for repairs as serious structural defects had been
revealed on examination.
Monday, 18th March
Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron in MANCHESTER
left Scapa at 0700 to relieve SOUTHAMPTON
on the Northern Patrol.
arrived Scapa to fuel after passage from Portsmouth
and sailed later to relieve SHEFFIELD
Tuesday, 19th March
and DERBYSHIRE leaving patrol.
In position 62-41 degrees North,
15-50 degrees West, sighted and identified Fleetwood
Trawler 56 (DHOON) and Grimsby Trawler No. 9 (EVELYN
ROSE), steering 120 degrees.
Chief, Home Fleet ordered NEWCASTLE
to proceed to Tyne
for refit simultaneously with EDINBURGH,
as the former’s defects would not brook delay.
Wednesday, 20th March
In position 62-33 degrees North, 16-15 degrees West,
sighted and identified Belgian trawler FREDDY of
Ostend No. O.89, steering 330
In position 62-12 degrees North,
17-23 degrees West, closed an Icelandic motor trawler
steering 135 degrees. Name not obtained.
Thursday, 21st March
In position 62-03 degrees North,
17-23 degrees West, closed and identified Icelandic
ship EDDA from Runcorn to
last port of call Troon.
Ordered her to proceed.
Friday, 22nd March
Nothing to report.
wind during these four days was consistently moderate
fresh E.N.E. with cloudy and bright periods,
visibility very good except in occasion rain squalls.
Saturday, 23rd March
to fresh N.E. during night.
In position 62-21 degrees North,
16-089 degrees West, closed and identified Icelandic
trawler DORA, steering 350 degrees.
In 62-27 degrees North,
15-24 degrees West, closed and identified one armed
and four unarmed Grimsby
trawlers, steering 320 degrees.
In 62-58 degrees North,
14-30 degrees West, closed and identified Belgian
trawler O.297 (name not ascertained).
on N.P. 53 to exchange signals regarding throw off
firing on leaving patrol.
Exchanged identities with SALOPIAN on N.P. 55.
In 62-03 degrees North,
17-30 degrees West, intercepted an Icelandic trawler,
steering 140 degrees, whose name and number could not
be made out.
In 62-02 degrees North,
17-37 degrees East closed and identified Dutch S.S.
SLOTERDIJK westbound. She was allowed to proceed
in accordance with N.P.D.S. 18.
Sunday, 24th March
to gale force from N.E., sea rough. Weather
showery and colder.
Nothing to report.
Monday, 25th March
to North and decreased during day. Visibility
good except in snow squalls.
In 62-45 degrees North,
14-24 degrees West, sighted a light, probably a
trawler, bearing 260 degrees (i.e. astern). I
did not consider that an alteration of course to the
westward during darkness to investigate this would be
justified, as the ship would probably be intercepted
in daylight after course had been reversed at the
normal time. Light was lost sight of bearing 278
degrees at 0515 in 62-46 degrees North,
14-13 degrees West.
In 62-20 degrees North,
16-00 degrees West, intercepted and boarded Danish
S.S. BETTY MAERSK. Verified
that whole cargo (3400 tons corn) was covered by Navicert
No. D. 775. She as
given the flag of the day and ordered to proceed.
In 62-10 degrees North,
18-00 degrees West intercepted Finnish ship MARIEBURG,
westbound. On closing, she hoisted the correct
flag of the day and was allowed to proceed.
In 62-08 degrees North, 18-08 degrees West intercepted
Icelandic trawler RAN (GK. 507) steering S.W.
In 62-22 degrees North,
17-12 degrees West intercepted Icelandic trawler
HUGINN steering 340 degrees. Fishing No. not
Tuesday, 26th March
moderate, increasing steadily to fresh and strong
during the day. Visibility good except in snow
In 62-36 degrees North,
16-16 degrees West sighted lights of 5 trawlers
steering on a southerly course. These were
identified as a Grimsby
fishing section and allowed to continue.
In 62-38 degrees North,
15-20 degrees West, sighted lights of 5 trawlers,
steering 330 degrees. These were a considerable
distance away and o action was taken to investigate
In 62-26 degrees North,
15-30 degrees West, intercepted Norwegian ship MOSTUN
York to Bergen
with general cargo, including a deck cargo of Ford
cars in cases. The weather was considered
unsuitable for boarding in view of the rising wind and
sea, and MOSTUN was escorted towards the West Faroes
rendezvous, course 093 degrees.
In position 62-23 degrees North, 14-35 degrees West,
passed a Hull fishing trawler section, steering
N.W. The following were identified:
464 LADY SHIRLEY (armed)
477 LADY ROSEMARY
327 STELLA CARINA (armed).
arrived in the Tyne
Wednesday, 27th March
Wind backed to N. and increased to gale force during
the night; sea rough. MOSTUN, though she started
at 13 knots (her stated speed) reduced gradually until
Morning Watch of 28th March, when she was not making
more than 7.
In position 62-20 degrees North,
10-00 degrees West intercepted Norwegian ship
HAARFAGRE. She was allowed to proceed in
accordance with N.P.D.S. 14.
Turned over MOSTUN to armed trawler KINGSTON TOPAZE at
rendezvous. Proceeded to intercept BIRMINGHAM
for gunnery practices as arranged, but at 0950 it was
decided to abandon these in view of the weather (wind
N, force 8, sea rough, frequent snow squalls) and
course was shaped for Scapa, BIRMINGHAM proceeding
In position 61-50 degrees North,
8-30 degrees West intercepted Finnish ship NINA from Genoa
Ordered her to proceed in
accordance with N.P.D.S. 22.
Thursday, 28th March
Arrived Scapa 0800.
arrived at 1230.
were relieved on patrol by SOUTHAMPTON and
arrive Scapa from covering O.H.N. convoy.
Friday, 29th – Saturday 30th March
Nothing to report.
Sunday, 31st March
Enemy aircraft active in vicinity of Orkneys in
Shore batteries opened fire at enemy reconnaissance
machines at about 0845; our fighters went up, and MANCHESTER
engaged some of these for a short time in mistake for
the enemy. No bombing attacks developed, though
there were further alarms during the day.
westerly gale sprang up in the afternoon, though with
fair sunny weather.
sailed p.m. with 2 destroyers for an operation to
intercept enemy shipping off the Norwegian coast.
GLASGOW were recalled from Northern Patrol by W/T to
Scapa and Rosyth, respectively for special
operations. The Northern Patrol lines were left
temporarily without cruiser support.
State of 18th Cruiser Squadron
at 2359 on 31st March 1940
At Tyne – refitting and giving 21 days leave
At Tyne – refitting and giving 21 days leave
Proceeding to Scapa from patrol
Proceeding to Rosyth from patrol
Proceeding to Norwegian Coast for Operation DV
ADMIRAL COMMANDING, 18TH CRUISER SQUADRON
– 15th APRIL 1940
Monday, 1st April
Tuesday, 2nd April
2038, there was an R/DF report from CURLEW of a large
formation of unknown aircraft approaching the
Fleet. Five minutes later, when action stations
were being sounded off, a wave of three enemy aircraft
attacked the fleet anchorage and Gutter Sound, diving
from the southward. All
were engaged. They were followed by a
second wave, and other formations appeared to be
about, but were not identified from MANCHESTER.
Some bombs were seen to fall in Gutter Sound and some
near the dummy HERMES, but no hits or casualties occurred.,
and two enemy aircraft were shot down.
episode was a single aircraft which dived
southwards directly over MANCHESTER
and was heavily engaged by everyone else; it
disappeared over Flotta,
firing machine guns at the searchlight positions, but
did not appear to drop any bombs.
Wednesday, 3rd April, Thursday, 4th April,
Friday, 5th April
In accordance with the normal patrol routine,
MANCHESTER would have sailed again for patrol a.m. on
Wednesday, 3rd April, but in consequence of the
decision to carry out minelaying operations in
Norwegian waters, the Commander in Chief now withdrew
all supporting cruisers from the Northern Patrol, and
the 18th Cruiser Squadron were disposed as follows:
Norway – BIRMINGHAM
(sailed 31st March)
for O.H.N. Convoys
(two at a time) – MANCHESTER
1st Cruiser Squadron to replace NORFOLK
for trooping duties
(completes end of June)
(completes mid May)
operations, which were originally due on 5th April,
were postponed three days until 8th April. This
enabled PENELOPE to continue covering H.N. 24 and it
was not necessary for MANCHESTER
to sail for convoy duty until 7th April.
Saturday, 6th April
and PENELOPE arrived Scapa
from covering O.H.N. 24.
Sunday, 7th April
Vice Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron, in MANCHESTER
sailed from Scapa at 0530 to provide cover for O.H.H.
25, proceeding east of the Orkneys and
Shetlands. At 1411, North
reported a firm A/S contact to port and dropped three
depth charges. There was no further sign of the
presence of a submarine. The convoy was sighted
at 1420 in position about 15 miles N.E. of MuckleFlugga with CALCUTTA
and 4 destroyers in company; they were somewhat
scattered owing to the recent heavy weather.
had been numerous reports of enemy surface forces at
with a report from aircraft of one cruiser and six
destroyers with eight aircraft in 55-30 degrees North,
6-37 degrees East at 0848 moving northward. The
subsequent reports indicated the total force as one
battle-cruiser, one pocket battleship, 3 LEIPZIG
class cruisers, and 12 destroyers.
attacked by Royal Air Force Bombers, but without
success, and presumably continued their northward
movement, although there was no definite report of
their position after 1342.
first duty was to the convoy, and on contact being
proceeded to the van of the convoy and MANCHESTER
to the rear to cover.
1620 a message was intercepted from Admiralty to the
Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, hinting that a German
expedition to Norway and Denmark might be under way,
but somewhat discounting the report.
in Chief ordered a cruiser and destroyer force under
the Vice Admiral Commanding, 2nd Cruiser Squadron, to
a rendezvous off S.W. corner of Norway (including
SHEFFIELD from Scapa), but it was very doubtful
whether they could reach it at the time given (JST
1921 instructions were received from the Commander in
Chief to reverse the course of the convoy, and this
was done, the turn taking a considerable time to
effect in the prevailing weather (S.W. wind, strong to
gale, sea rough.).
in Chief also cancelled SHEFFIELD
proceeding with C.S. 2’s force, and said she would be
proceeding with the Battlefleet.
This was the only intimation that the Battlefleet
was going to sea until 2222, when the Commander in
Chief’s 1934 was received, stating that the fleet
would pass East of Orkneys and reach 61 degrees North,
001 degree West at 0700/8th April. Thie
course taken appeared to be to cover the convoy and
Northern Patrol lines.
2200, however, the Flag Officer Commanding, Northern
Patrol ordered all the Armed Merchant Cruisers on the
Patrol Lines to withdraw to the southward at their
2325, the Commander in Chief, Rosyth’s
2140/7th April was received, holding up the departure
of H.N. 25 from Norwegian waters, but subsequent
messages showed they had already left for the
2325, he ordered the Senior Officer of the local
escort for O.N. 25 to keep the convoy to the westward
of the Shetlands, unless further orders were received
from the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet.
18 was also at this time awaiting instructions from
the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, as it was expected
that the covering cruisers would be required for a
sweep to the South east. The absence of any such
instructions, however, made it necessary to remain in
a covering position for the convoy during the night,
and such indications as there were seemed to show that
the Commander in Chief had gone further to the North
and West. Accordingly, MANCHESTER
stood off to the south east of the convoy during the
night, intending to make contact again with them in
7th/8th April was thus obscure. Nothing definite
was know of the large
enemy force since 1342; there was no precise
information as to the whereabouts, and no information
as to the intentions of the Commander in Chief.
was known that C.S. 2 with 2 cruisers and about 15
destroyers was at sea and sweeping towards to the S.W.
corner of Norway
and then northwards.
of the Fleet was disposed in accordance with the
requirements of the minelaying operation off the
Norwegian coast and the plan R.4 for the possible
landings of Allied Troops in Norway
if German aggression occurred there consequent on the
appeared to be little probably interference with the
movements of the enemy in the North Sea,
at any rate until daylight.
Monday, 8th April
Weather N.W. gale, moderating in evening, rough
0529, the minelaying operation in Norwegian waters
reduced to one minefield in Vestfiord,
was completed and announced.
the GLOWWORM, detached by an unfortunate chain of
circumstances, encountered superior enemy force and
was sunk off the coast of Norway in 65-44 degrees
North, 06-43 degrees East. This located an enemy
force well up the Norwegian coast, and well placed to
elude our heavy forces. It was presumably the
same force which was sighted by aircraft at 1400 in
64-07 degrees North, 06-25 degrees East, and consisted
of one battlecruiser, two
cruisers, and two destroyers, i.e. the force of the
day before less 1 pocket battleship, 1 cruiser, and
ten destroyers, which had presumably been detached on
shadowing aircraft was hit by H.A. fire and had to
desist, and this force was not found again.
18 in MANCHESTER
located the convoy, now westbound at 0545, and
remained covering it pending further instructions.
in the morning gave further indications that the enemy
were planning an overseas expedition rather than a
naval raid, and in the absence of action by the
Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, the Admiralty made
dispositions abandoning Plan R.4; GLASGOW being
ordered to proceed northwards with the 1st Cruiser
Squadron without troops (this force sailed at 1430).
the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, of their
intentions and placed MANCHESTER and SOUTHAMPTON at
his disposal stating that if the Commander in Chief,
Home Fleet, gave no orders to these forces by 1700
Admiralty would issue them.
1510 two new German forces were reported as having
moved North from their Baltic bases at daylight and
reports of large concentrations of trawlers and
merchant ships all pointed to a combined operation by
1552, The Commander in Chief, Rosyth, ordered convoy
O.N. 25 to proceed to Kirkwall.
1725, the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, having given
no further instructions, Admiralty directed C.S. 2 and
C.S. 18 to indicate their positions. C.S. 18’s
was reported as 61-10 degrees North,
00-40 degree West, 115 degrees, 13 knots, but shortly
afterwards course was altered to 030 degrees at 16
to this time, the MANCHESTER and SOUTHAMPTON had
continued their role of covering force for O.N. 25
which had continued its slow progress westward, and at
1730 it was in 61-10 degrees North, 01 degree West,
course 300 degrees, 2 knots. It had been split
into two parts and somewhat scattered by the reversal
of course during the night, but gradually gained more
cohesion during the day.
1500, The Commander in Chief, Rosyth, promulgated a
report from aircraft which gave the Commander in
Chief, Home Fleet’s position at 1200 as 61-46 degrees
North, 2-27 degrees East.
2008, Admiralty Message 1842/8th April was received
giving the two main objectives as:
To prevent German naval forces returning;
To deal if possible with the large force of
100 ships reported having passed Great Belt at
1400/8 if going to Stavanger
And disposing the forces with the C in C, C.S.
1, and C.S. 2 across the North
Sea between the Shetlands and Norway.
(2018/8) directed C.S. 18, unless otherwise ordered by
the Commander in Chief, to patrol during the night
between 01-50 degrees East and 2-35 degrees East in
Latitude 62-10 degrees North. Course was altered
2120, C.S. 18 was in 61-15 degrees North,
00-44 degree East, 030 degrees, 16 knots and passed
this information to Admiralty, the Commander in Chief,
Home Fleet, C.S. 1, and C.S. 2.
this time messages from submarines in the Skaggerak
showed clearly that two considerable German forces had
passed the Skaw
westward at about 1800.
were considering the
possibility that the various German squadrons might
effect a junction off the Norwegian coast, and the
dispositions seem mainly to have been against
this. (A.T. 2102/8th April).
2346, the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, established
his dispositions in his message 2252/8, ordering C.S.
18 to rendezvous with him in 61-09 degrees North,
03-00 degrees East at 0700, when the main force would
steer southwards to meet the cruiser forces under C.S.
1 and C.S. 2 spread in pairs along latitude 59-30
degrees North at 0500/9th April and steaming
northwards to meet the Commander in Chief. He
also said he thought the enemy forces might have
passed to the south and east of him. At
0210/9th, Admiralty ordered cruisers under C.S. 1 and
C.S. 2 to concentrate on GLASGOW
at 0500 in 59-30 degrees North,
02-30 degrees East and steer to meet the Commander in
weather in the Northern area was very bad, and at
2045/8 BIRMINGHAM reported herself hove to in 66-12
degrees North, 7-52 degrees East with FEARLESS.
Tuesday, 9th April
Fresh Northerly wind, b.c.,
0445, information was received that German forces had
during the night approached Oslo,
that landing operations and air raids were in
progress, and that Denmark
had also been invaded. The enemy’s intentions
were now clear and it appeared the major part of his
initial task had been successfully accomplished
without noticeable hindrance from the British Fleet.
0600, a merchant ship was sighted to the eastward,
westbound, which roused some suspicion by altering
course to the eastward; SOUTHAMPTON
was sent to investigate her, and while doing so
part of the Commander in Chief’s force.
then passed Commander in Chief’s instructions that
cruisers are to form an A-K line in pairs as they
joined, 7 miles ahead of him. (0608/9)
and 0900, enemy shadowing aircraft (floatplanes) were
several times sighted and engaged. Ships were
ordered to conserve ammunition, as the range was very
long and much further fighting was to be
expected. Two of these machines, when they
finished their patrol, appeared to jettison their
bombs from a low height. Avoiding action was
taken by MANCHESTER
in one instance in case the splash represented an
attempt at torpedo dropping, though the range was
1110, C.S. 18 received the Commander in Chief, Home
Fleet’s message 1045/9 which read as follows:
C.S. 18 with 18th C.S., 4th and 6th D.F. in company to
attack enemy forces reported in Bergen.
These include 1 KOLN
class cruiser. Defences
may be in hands of enemy. 3 or 4 destroyers are
to enter by FejedrJedsen
Fiord, 60-44 degrees North,
remainder by Kors Fiord
60-08 degrees North. Object to destroy enemy
forces and report situation. Cruiser are
to be in support at both entrances which U boats may
to proceed was given at 1125 and it was then found
that ships of the 4th and 6th Destroyer Flotillas
present only comprised seven vessels: namely
AFRIDI (D.4), GURKHA, SOMALI (D.6), MASHONA, MATABELE,
accordingly altered to 025 degrees at 1140 and speed
increased to 20 knots. It was found, however,
that the destroyers could not keep up this speed in
the prevailing sea. (Wind N.W. force 6 – 7, sea
rough) and speed had to be reduced to 16 knots.
Owing to the movement southward of the fleet during
the forenoon it was unfortunately necessary to retrace
a lot of ground to windward to get to Bergen.
At 1408 aircraft reported that there were two cruises
instead of one.
seven destroyers available, the prospects of a
successful attack now appeared distinctly less, though
there was some hope that the enemy could not yet have
got the shore guns effectively manned.
1410, however, Admiralty message 1357/9th April
cancelled the operation, and course was altered to
rejoin the Commander in Chief.
this, about 1425, a series of heavy air attacks
developed on the 18th Cruiser Squadron and destroyers
in company, and continued with short intervals until
1730. Conditions were ideal
for aircraft with a blue sky and some detached
medium cloud, so that aircraft could easily hide
themselves and take up position, while the
visibility from their point of view, was
excellent. It is difficult to estimate the
number of aircraft which actually attacked the forces
with C.S. 18, but it is thought it cannot be less then
sixty, the number of bombs dropped being between 100
SOUTHAMPTON were both slightly damaged by very near
misses by large bombs, and the former had 7 casualties
names of two killed and one died of wounds, see xDKCas1003-Intro.htm;
wounded: Able Seaman R.G. Edwards, Signalman
I.S. Lockier, A/Leading
Seaman Robert Milligan, Ordinary Signalman D.G.
Pattie). From GLASGOW’s
first report, which was to the effect that she was
unable to steam fast to windward, her damaged appeared
more serious than it afterwards turned out to be, and
she was ordered to make the best of her way to Rosyth,
but on further examination she found it possible to
effect temporary repairs to enable her to keep up with
had dropped considerably astern in the course of the
attempt to make high speed towards Bergen
and were further scattered by the air attacks, and the
fact that GURKHA was severely hit was not observed
though at least one destroyer was observed to
disappear temporarily in a cloud of smoke and haul out
of line. This effect, was, however, frequently
seen as the result of misses, gunfire, and avoiding
action, and no notice was taken of it.
fell in with AURORA who rescued most of her crew
before the former sank at 1855.
the attacks were shallow dives from about 10,000 feet
to 3,000 feet or more; the aircraft seen were all twin
engine bombers, and in the climb before the dive
produced long streams of white smoke or condenses
aqueous vapour from the
exhaust. Few dives, if any, came within
effective range of pom-poms. Those which caused
damage to GLASGOW and SOUTHAMPTON were two of the few
pressed well home. Long range H.A. fire was
effective therefore in keeping most of the attackers
outside decisive distance, and though no machines were
seen to be shot down, it appeared that at least one
was damaged, as it retired at a very low height,
emitting quantities of smoke and jettisoned bombs into
the later stages of these attacks, DEVONSHIRE
came into sight to westward, having been stationed on
the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet.
was heavy, and for the day amounted to some 40% of
outfits of 4 inch H.A., though ships were
ordered to conserve ammunition.
1706, C.S. 18 received instructions from the Commander
in Chief, Home Fleet, to return to Bergen
with the 18th C.S. 4th and 6th Destroyer Flotillas,
and maintain a patrol off the entrances to Bergen
to prevent enemy forces escaping, in accordance with
Admiralty message 1451/9th April, which announced that
they would be attacked by bombers.
and 6th Destroyer Flotilla were accordingly detailed
to patrol off Kors Fiord,
and 4th Destroyer Flotilla patrolled off FejedrVedsen Fiord.
was maintained during the night.
is an extract from the report of proceedings of GLASGOW,
dealing with this period.
1800 I took SHEFFIELD,
SOMALI, MASHONA, and MATABELE under my orders, and
proceeded towards Kors
Fiord to comply with your signal times 1745/9.
2030 in position 60-25 degrees North,
04-25 degrees East, a darkened ship sighted to
starboard, and I closed to investigate. The
vessel was AURORA who requested my assistance.
was not at first clear what kind of assistance she
required, and there was some delay before she answered
that she was picking up GURKHA’s
crew. I asked whether one destroyer would
suffice, but by the time she replied, 2125, my force
was in her immediate vicinity. AURORA
had further signalled at
2124 that she would shortly be ready to proceed, and
requested that she that she might join my operation as
she had no other orders.
I welcomed an additional cruiser, I remained in the
vicinity until all men had been picked up.
force proceeded again at 2200.
plan was for AURORA and MATABELE to patrol off Bommelfiord
and for GLASGOW,
SOMALI, and MASHONA to patrol between 59-40 degrees North
and 60-20 degrees North, both forces making rendezvous
patrolled accordingly North and South 7 miles off
shore until 0145 when the signal times 1837/9 from the
Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, ordered us to sweep
south to Obrestad was
received by V/S from SHEFFIELD. GLASGOW
had not previously received this signal by W/T.
was now too late for me to reach Obrestad,
but I continued on a southerly course until 0345, and
thence southwest until 0500, as I wished to cover AURORA
during her retirement north west
and I was uncertain whether she would make the
rendezvous I had ordered.
0500 in position 6 miles west of Utire,
I altered course as ordered to the north
ships were sighted during the night. All
navigational lights on the coast were extinguished
with the exception of Gunnarskjaershullet.
Wednesday, 10th April
April in position WPOX 4636, MANCHESTER sighted a
submarine on the surface, on the starboard bow,
crossing between SOUTHAMPTON who was leading and
MANCHESTER, the wheel was put hard a starboard and the
ship increased to full speed and attempted to ram, but
passed over the submarine just as it submerged, only
striking a glancing blow.
course was altered to the N.W. to rejoin the Commander
in Chief, Home Fleet in 61 degrees North, 1 degree
West (n.b. pen and ink
correction. West scored out and East
inserted). At 0855 ships were sighted
ahead which proved to be the homeward bound H.N. 25
convoy from Bergen,
escorted by TARTAR and Polish destroyers. When
course was about to be altered to clear the convoy,
other ships were sighted to westward of them, and this
proved to be Captain (D) One and destroyers, who
passed instructions from the Commander in Chief, Home
Fleet, that C.S. 18 was to take cruisers into Scapa to
refuel. Course was shaped accordingly at 1030 at
25 knots. At 1104, I received Admiralty Message
1045/10th April directing 3 SOUTHAMPTON
class and 8 destroyers proceed to Narvik
to attack enemy ships there, as soon as fuelled.
view of an aircraft report of a submarine to eastward
of the Orkneys, course was shaped to pass through the
Fair Island Channel.
1601, BIRMINGHAM, which was proceeding to Scapa
independently passing westward of Shetlands, and was
about 25 miles ahead of MANCHESTER, reported an enemy
aircraft and that she was being attacked by
bombing. Three bombs were dropped from about
4000 feet without damage. The type of aircraft
was not identified.
then in 59-27 degrees North,
03-22 degrees West, sighted the periscope of a
submarine. No torpedo track was observed and the
attention of aircraft and A/S trawlers in the vicinity
was drawn to it. It is believed one of the
former carried out an attack, but the aircraft was
unable to sight the submarine.
proceeding independently, arrived Scapa,
at 1900 followed by BIRMINGHAM
and at 2015 MANCHESTER
AURORA, and EMILE BERTIN were also present.
I made arrangements for fuelling and ammunitioning
to start at once. Although the ammunitioning
must entail some delay, I considered it essential that
ships should complete to full stowage again, in view
of heavy expenditure.
provisionally selected MANCHESTER,
for the Narvik operation,
in view of the damage to SOUTHAMPTON and
however, reported structural defects to her
forecastle, owing to heavy weather, and SOUTHAMPTON
dusk, between 2052 and 2145, enemy aircraft attacked
Scapa in several waves. Ample warning had been
received by R/DF and all guns were closed up when the
first wave arrived. They were heavily engaged by
ship and shore guns and air fighters and the attack
was not pressed home. No bombs were dropped in
the Flow, and the aircraft remained mostly at a
considerable height. About six were destroyed.
caused some delay in ammunitioning
and fuelling, which I had hoped to complete rapidly by
working through the night, but at 2252, I received
Admiralty message 2240/10th April, countermanding the
sailing of my force. I sent a Staff Officer
ashore as soon as the air attacks had ceased and he
ascertained by telephone from the Admiralty that other
units had not been detailed for the Naval Attack on Narvik,
and that my force would probably be required to escort
and cover a troop convoy proceeding to that place
Thursday, 11th April
0134, Admiralty Message 0009 of 11th April was
received, directing that one of the three cruisers
detailed for the attack on Narvik
was to take General Mackesy,
his staff, and advanced party of troops to Vaagsfjorden,
after he had read and discussed plans to be brought by
Brigadier Lund arriving during the morning.
0930 I held a meeting of the Captains of 18th Cruiser
Squadron present, which had been called to discuss the
Narvik attack ordered in
Admiralty Telegram 1045 of 10th April, but was now
devoted to considering the position generally and the
replenishment and making good defects. BIRMINGHAM
need till 0400/12th April to make good structural
defects and GLASGOW
required 48 hours for temporary repairs though ready
for service in emergency in 4 hours. SOUTHAMPTON
was to complete by 0900/11th April.
1032 I received Commander in Chief’s 1033/11th April
ordered an operation to mop up Indreled
from Stadtlandet to Narvik,
for which I was requested to organize a force of 6
destroyers and two cruisers of the 18th Cruiser
Squadron. At this time my instructions as
regards the other force were only that it was not to
sail till further orders. I did not therefore
feel justified in using it for this fresh operation
and accordingly determined to use GLASGOW
for the inshore operation, leaving MANCHESTER,
for the other force, SOUTHAMPTON
being detailed to take General Mackesy
and the advanced party.
(D), however, came to see me and represented verbally
that it was quite impossible to provide another force
of six destroyers in addition to the eight detailed
for A.T. 1045/10th April and a relief screen for the
battleships which would be required shortly. At
my suggestion he got into touch with Admiralty on the
telephone and obtained verbal approval to utilize some
of the destroyers already detailed for my force, as
extra destroyers were being sent from the Western
Approaches Command with the troop convoy.
the afternoon, I held a meeting in MANCHESTER
attended by Major General Mackesy,
Brigadier Lund, Brigadier Phillips, Captain
L.E.H. Maund, Commander
Gordon and other staff officers and Captain F.W.H.
Jeans of SOUTHAMPTON.
The instructions given to General Mackesy
of the C.I.G.S. were discussed.
explained that his task was to eject the German forces
from Narvik. It was
believed that certain Norwegian Forces were in being
in the vicinity of Harstad
(in peace time a Norwegian Military Divisional
Headquarters), or at Bardu
– 35 miles of Salangen.
suggestion was that the ships should anchor to the
west of Stanglandet, and
the General select the landing place in consultation with
the senior Naval Officer, the final
decision whether to land or not being similarly
taken. General Mackesy
was, however, instructed that, as soon as he had
sufficient troops, he was to effect
a landing somewhere.
made to embark 22 officers and 335 other ranks (half
battalion of the Scots Guards) in the SOUTHAMPTON
as the advance party, General Mackesy
gave the following as the expected general programme
for arrival of further troops:
of 24th Infantry Brigade. (Irish Guards,
half battalion of Scots Guards and 2nd
South Wales Borderers.)
– 18th April
T.A. infantry brigades less 2
Transport for the forgoing.
Remainder of 49th Division
– 29th April
echelon of French troops – 6 battalions
of Chasseurs Alpins.
probably from the discussion that though the landing
itself would, it was thought, be unopposed, it would
be necessary to have trawlers for A/S and transport
work immediately on the troops’ arrival, and this and
other requirements which General Mackesy
mentioned, I transmitted in my message time 1855/11th
was decided that the SOUTHAMPTON
could sail by
on the 12th and Admiralty, Flag Officer Commanding,
Orkneys and Shetlands, and the Commander in Chief,
Home Fleet were informed of this. (C.S. 18
1649, I received an intercepted message (Admiralty
1429/11th April) giving the arrangements for escorting
the first troop and store convoy for Narvik.
This message was not addressed or repeated to me, but
as I could not see any other cruiser force likely to
be available to act as a cruiser escort to it, I
presumed it to be the intention that I should do so
consideration of the duties required of SOUTHAMPTON,
it appeared to me desirable that she should be
accompanied by destroyers, both in order to assist in
landing troops, and to provide some A/S
protection. I accordingly suggested this in my
message 210/11th April which Admiralty approved.
I also represented in a personal message to D.C.N.S.
the necessity of some trawlers to assist in landing
troops from the larger transports. The boat
facilities of the latter, and of available warships,
seemed very inadequate, and landing would not be
facilitated by the fact that two of the vessels were
MASHONA, AFRIDI, SIKH, MATABELE, and MOHAWK sailed for
the inshore operation.
Friday, 12th April
0900 I held a meeting with Commodores and Captains of
CHROBRY and BATORY, General Mackesy
and his staff, Captain Maund,
and Captain Jeans to discuss the best placed and
methods for landing operations in Vaagsfjord.
The discussion was an officer with local knowledge
(Sub Lieutenant Job, PROSERPINE), whose services were
offered by the Rear Admiral, Scapa. His
information showed that landing would probably present
great navigational difficulties, owing to the great
depths of water, the snow clad landscape, and the
possibility of ice in the inlets. As there was
more than a possibility that landing might be opposed
and there would certainly be air attacks, the chances
of success began to appear somewhat
problematical. The troops would be landing in
inhospitable and rugged country, without artillery or
A.A. protection. On full consideration, it
appeared to me that, unless we could effect
a landing at Narvik
itself, it would be better to transfer the operation
to Tromso. In this
connection, I found that General Mackesy
was unaware of the report given in A.T. 1529/11th
April that German warships had arrived at Tromso
and were landing troops, and he expressed some concern
at the prospect of the enemy having established themselves
there. (This report afterwards proved to have
therefore sent my message 1234/12th April,
recommending that this alternative should be
considered, and after verbal communication with
D.C.N.S. through Flag Officer Commanding, Orkneys and
Shetlands, I sent my 1225/11th April, stating that I
intended to sail with MANCHESTER
at 1600 to rendezvous and form course for the troop
1235, SOUTHAMPTONproceeded with ESCAPADE and
ELECTRA, and at 1200 CHROBRY and BATORY with
PROTECTOR, VOLUNTEER, WITHERINGTON, VANOC, and
Packer, R.N. assumed command of MANCHESTER
at 1400, when Captain H.H. Bousfield
left for London
1600 I sailed from Scapa with MANCHESTER and
BIRMINGHAM and off Cape Wrath at 1900 fell in with
troops convoy, consisting of CHROBRY, BATORY, EMPRESS
OF AUSTRALIA, MONARCH OF BERMUDA, REINA DEL PACIFICO,
and PROTECTOR, escorted by CAIRO, WITHERINGTON,
VOLUNTEER, VANOC, WHIRLWIND, and HIGHLANDER and
proceeded – speed of advance 14 knots.
Saturday, 13th April
1630, VINDICTIVE with CODRINGTON, ACASTA, and ARDENT
joined company from Scapa and Captain (D) First
Destroyer Flotilla became Senior Officer of escort.
and BRAZEN joined from SullomVoe.
and REPULSE, screened by JANUS, JAVELIN, and JUNO were
then sighted. REPULSE proceeded for Scapa
escorted by the “J” class destroyers and VALIANT took
station ahead of the convoy, screened separately by GRIFFIN,
FEARLESS, and BRAZEN.
and escorting forces continued their course northward
during the day without further incident.
Sunday, 14th April
1029, I received the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s
0916/14th April, asking for whereabouts of MANCHESTER
A reply was made at once, though it was necessary to
break W/T silence for the first time since leaving
Scapa, as the enquiry was marked IMMEDIATE. At
1230, special Norwegian charts for ships going to Vaagsfjord
were transferred to ARDEN
by Coston gun.
successfully landed 300 seaman and marines from that
ship and SHEFFIELD
at Namsos, without
opposition. The cruisers then withdrew to
seaward, maintaining touch with the landing party by
1907 orders were received in A.T. 1818/14th April that
the troops in CHROBRY and EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA were to
be diverted to arriveNamsos
at dusk on Monday, 15th April. The Convoy was
accordingly divided as follows:
one battalion Yorks
Regt. And Brigade Headquarters
one battalion of K.O.Y.L.I. and one
battalion of Lincolns.
MONARCH OF BERMUDA
REINA DEL PACIFICO
had actually signalled to
Captain (D), First Destroyer Flotilla to detail 4
destroyers to join the Namsos
contingent, but only three joined up; in the gathering
darkness and prevailing weather it was difficult for a
destroyer to close rapidly.
CURLEW to join the Namsos
convoy, but she was some distance away and could not
join, even at her maximum seagoing speed of 25 ½
knots, till 1600, 15th April.
Monday, 15th April
was planned that the troopships should arrive at the
entrance to Namsen Fjord
about dusk, so as to be able to unload under cover of
darkness. I was somewhat uneasy about the
chances of getting these large vessels safely
unloaded, especially in the case of the EMPRESS OF
AUSTRALIA, which has in turning screws. There is
only room for one ship at a time to anchor off Namsos.
I therefore arranged to transport troops from the
EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA in to the destroyers of Captain
(D), Sixth Destroyer Flotilla’s force inside the
April, CURLEW reported she would be sixteen hours late
at the rendezvous given her for 1600, in existing
weather. This was unfortunate,
as it appeared that every possible A.A. protection
would be needed.
working to seaward of the Namsos
area, had been shadowed daily by enemy reconnaissance
aircraft, though not as yet attacked. The
destroyer force in shore waters was attacked at
frequent intervals. On Sunday, 14th April they
were attacked by 22 aircraft, but suffered no damage
and three of the enemy aircraft made forced landings,
their crews being captured by the Norwegians.
Monday, 15th April, SOMALI was very heavily attacked
while waiting in the vicinity of Namsos
for the arrival of General Carton de Wiart,
who was due to arrive from the United Kingdom by a
Sunderland flying boat, and to take command of the
troops to be landed at Namsos.
Three separate attacks were made on SOMALI in the
course of the day by Junker 88 bombers and Junker 87
dive bombers. 61 bombs were dropped but there
were no hits and two of the enemy machines appeared to
be hit by gunfire. General de Wiart
arrived at the beginning of the final attack, and his
flying boat was machine guns, his A.D.C. being wounded
in the knee and having to return to England
in the flying boat. This was the only casualty
caused by the enemy attacks.
all her H.E. ammunition and was firing H.A. practice
for moral effect at the end. I have mentioned
this incident at some length because it is typical of
the conditions produced by operating within short
distance of an enemy air base without air protection
and without intensive attack on that air base (Vaernes
airport was not attacked by our aircraft until the
night of 16/17th April). Captain Nicholson
informed me that the ship’s company of SOMALI behaved
with great steadiness through a grueling day, but one
cannot but be concerned at the position produced by
the rapid expenditure of the outfit of H.A.
ammunition. The aircraft must realise
that if they go on long enough ships are bound to run
out and be at their mercy, and it is impossible to
refrain from engaging aircraft which may be about to
make a high level bombing attack.
this time CAIRO and the older destroyers were becoming
short on fuel, and it was necessary to consider
seriously where they could be replenish, as there
appeared to be no suitable anchorage nearer than Skjelfjord
and the tanker there had many calls to meet. The
smaller ships could be oiled from the cruisers if
necessary, and preparations were made for this.
1236, I received Admiralty Message 1146/15th April,
ordering the landing to be deferred and my force to
steer N.W., and at 1354 Admiralty Message 1322/15th
April directing me to proceed to Lillesjona
anchorage in 66-14 degrees North, 13-00 degrees
East. The convoy’s course was altered
accordingly and as it was impossible to reach the
anchorage before dark, I steamed out to the westward
until dusk, to escape aircraft observation. In
this the convoy was fortunate on this occasion, as no
enemy aircraft were sighted all day.
ADMIRAL COMMANDING, 18TH CRUISER SQUADRON
30th APRIL 1940
of 18th Cruiser Squadron at 0001, 16th April
At sea, proceeding to Lillesjona
anchorage in company with convoy NP.1
At Vaagsfjord, orders of Flag Officer in Charge, Narvik.
At sea off Trondhjem area, supporting destroyers working in the Indreled,
with landing parties established ashore
at Tyne. Structural defects. Date
at Tyne. Annual refit. Completing about
Saturday, 16th April (n.b.
should read Tuesday, 16th April)
had intercepted Admiralty Message 1339/15 to Captain
(D), Sixth Destroyer Flotilla, which gave the policy
to be followed as regards landing from the convoy –
i.e. to transship troops and stores to destroyers at Lillesjona
and send them down to Namsos
through the inner leads. I considered this a
great improvement on the previous plan, but though it
was inevitable that the convoy would be subject to air
attack (and also, probably ,
submarine attack) if it remained long at this
anchorage. I accordingly sent my message 2022/15
expressing my intention to withdraw the transports to
Vaagsfjord if air attack
At 0500 an enemy flying boat was sighted over the
land, distance 12 miles, steering a southerly course;
it continued steadily on its way and only just came
within gun range. It is doubtful whether it
observed the convoy.
My force arrived at Lillesjona
anchorage and anchored at 0600/16; AFRIDI, MATABELE,
MASHONA, and SIKH joined my flag outside. The
oiler WAR PINDARI, escorted by FORTUNE and NUBIAN
arrived at 0800, and SOMALI with Major General Carton
de Wiart, arrived from Namsos
at 0930. Immediate steps were taken to complete
destroyers was necessary with fuel, and to transfer
the troops. General de Wiart
hoped to get the destroyers away with two battalions
and advanced Brigade Headquarters by .
After fuelling, destroyers went alongside transports
and embarked troops and stores at follows.
No. 1 Stbd
H.Q. Company, wireless long range set
and B coys. Yorks
Both for Namsos
and D coys. York
Regiment. Major Strong. 1 short range W/T set, M.O. and stretcher bearers
EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA
No. 1 Stbd
A, B, and C Companies Lincoln, Sub Section R.E.Õs (11)
No. 2 Port
H.Q. Coy and D Coy, Lincolns; Advanced Brigade Headquarters
On his arrival I held a conference on board MANCHESTER
with General de Wiart,
Captains (D) Fourth and Sixth Destroyer Flotillas, and
the Officers Commanding Battalions, to discuss the
details of trans shipment. The Brigadier of the
146th Brigade and his staff were unfortunately still
in the BATORY as it had not been possible to transfer
them at sea.
It was decided at this meeting to get the two
battalions away so as to land the same evening with
just as many stores as could be embarked at the
time. To do this, and send SOMALI to Scapa to
replenish with fuel and ammunition, I had to take
NUBIAN from WAR PINDARI’s
The Third Battalion was to be embarked on the
destroyers’ return the next morning, and meanwhile all
stores would, I hoped, have been trans
shipped to CHROBRY which would then proceed to Namsos
with stores only. Unfortunately these plans had
to be modified as result of enemy air attack.
Enemy aircraft were first sighted at 1250 and the
first machine appeared to be merely on
reconnaissance. Other machines arrived, however,
at short intervals and a number of bombs were dropped
in a series of High Level Bombing attacks which lasted
from 1245 to 1615. Subsequent single aircraft
were sighted and engaged between 1730 and 1815 but
these made no attacks and were routine reconnaissance
machines. All the attackers were twin engined
land bombers, probably Junker 88. The first
salvo of bombs fell between the two liners and another
within a short distance of the WAR PINDARI; these
three ships each had two destroyers alongside making a
very large and vulnerable target. Other bombs
fell on shore.
In spite of these attacks, the destroyers (AFRIDI,
NUBIAN, MATABELE, MASHONA, and SIKH) were got away
with the troops at 1345, and SOMALI then sailed for
Scapa. As the last named had no H.E. ammunition
left I was compelled to refuse Captain Nicholson’s
suggestion that as he had most local knowledge he
should take the General back to Namsos.
When it became clear that air attacks were persisting,
I had to review the plans made in concert with the
General. It was true that air attacks were not
so far on a very large scale, though practically
continuous; but I could see no reason why they should
not increase and continue at short intervals; and it
was impossible to ignore the risk of a disastrous hit
on a liner full of troops. I was confirmed in my
opinion by a visit I paid to the troopships in the
course of the afternoon, when it became clear to me
that the morale of the young and untried soldiers was
likely to suffer, if they were subjected to prolonged
attacks of this kind, while still embarked. I
therefore decided that it would be necessary to leave
the anchorage before daylight the next morning.
This made it impossible to use the destroyers as
arranged. According, I decided to move the third
battalion and as many stores as possible from the
EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA to the CHROBRY and send the
latter in alone to Namsos.
I had hoped to be able to put half the battalion in ASHANTI,
which had been ordered to join my flag at Lillesjona,
but she was diverted by the Admiralty and did not
arrive. I was thus committed to sending a
battalion into Namsos in
the CHROBRY, but as General de Wiart
was very anxious for these reinforcements, as well as
the stores, I decided the risk must be accepted as
being no greater than would be incurred by the ship
remaining at Lillesjona
and exposed to air attacks until
the next day.
Accordingly work was commenced on the transfer as soon
as practicable and went on without cessation with
assistance of the Norwegian patrol vessel NORDKAPP,
Commander Seip, which
arrived shortly after my force and was taken alongside
the transports for the purpose.
Expenditure of ammunition during the air attacks on
this afternoon was again heavy, although the necessity
of husbanding resources was impressed on all ships by
signal. The accuracy of fire was somewhat
variable. At least on enemy aircraft was hit and
disappeared over the hills losing height
rapidly. A moment later distant explosions were
heard, which were probably bombs jettisoned.
Local intelligence at Namsos
subsequently reported that three machines had failed
to return to their bases. The enemy apparently
found bomb aiming difficult, and on several occasions
made dummy runs without dropping bombs. There
was a strong squally N.E. wind blowing down the
fjord. High hills and cloud conditions made it
easy for the enemy bombers to disappear quickly at
need. Later in the afternoon, the amount of low
clouds increased, down to the hill tops in places;
these conditions may well have been responsible for
the attacks ceasing at the time they did.
WAR PINDARI, with FORTUNE as escort, sailed for Skjel
Fjord at 1800. CURLEW arrived at 1730.
Wednesday, 17th April
By 0230 transfer of stores and troops had to stop if I
was to get my force away before daylight. By
then all the troops had been transferred and all but
170 tons of the stores in the EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA.
It was unfortunate, in these circumstances, that at
0130 HIGHLANDER, who was on patrol at the Southern
entrance to the fjord reported that she had run
aground and had one engine and her Asdic gear out of
action. She was however to proceed without
escort and make good 15 – 20 knots on one engine,
while the other engine might possible be of use in
emergency. I accordingly ordered her to proceed
at convenient speed to SullomVoe. This accident
seemed particularly unfortunate, as my already small
destroyer screen was now reduced to two old “W”
had considerable difficulty in weighing due to the
anchor jamming between rocks, and this delayed the
sailing of my force somewhat. Eventually the
other ships were ordered to proceed ahead at 0338 and
followed some ten minutes later.
There was, however, one fortunate result of this
chapter of accidents and that was that HIGHLANDER,
when well ahead of the force, sighted an enemy
submarine on the surface and compelled it to dive, so
that the convoy had little difficulty in avoiding its
On leaving Lillesjona
anchorage I steered out to the westward, turning
southeast in time to arrived off the entrance to Namsen
Fjord at 1945 (sunset being 1952). Meanwhile a
report was received from Captain (D) Fourth Destroyer
Flotilla, that the troops had successfully landed from
the Tribals during the
night and the latter had left Namsen
Fjord to rendezvous with me. This they did at
1000 when they were formed up as an A/S screen on the
convoy. At 0800 ARDENT overtook the convoy from
the northward and reported that she had on board
Brigadier Phillips, commanding the 146th Brigade for
passage to Namsos.
She was directed to keep in company with the convoy
and proceeded in with
CHROBRY at dusk.
No aircraft were sighed during the day until 1845,
when a Walrus, probably GLASGOW’s
aircraft, was seen to the eastward and at 1900,
a large flying boat, probably enemy, was sighted far
away to the westward, steering north.
At 1145 I detached BIRMINGHAM,
with VANOC and WHIRLWIND, to escort EMPRESS OF
AUSTRALIA back to the Clyde.
There seemed no alternative to letting the 170 tons of
stores still in her go back to the United
and be shipped back in a smaller vessel, and the
sooner this was done the better. General
de Wiart, who was in
AFRIDI at this time, agreed. It was
unfortunate that it was later reported that certain
but important items of stores for Brigade Headquarters
(Bren guns, parts of the W/T set and Officers’ kits)
were still in the VANOC, but it was essential to send
the “W” class destroyers back for fuel, and Admiralty
were asked by W/T to reship these also. In the
circumstances of transfer of stores at maximum speed
in the dark and with minimum facilities or notice,
some confusion was almost inevitable.
At 1945, I parted company with the convoy at the
entrance to Namsen Fjord
and stood off to the North westward for the
was detached to Skjel
Fjord to fuel from the BRITISH LADY and CURLEW and the
Tribal destroyers accompanied CHROBRY up the fiord.
Thursday, 18th April
The disembarkation of the third battalion and the
stores from CHROBRY at Namsos
proceeded without interruption from the enemy, and
went on till 0200 when the military working parties
were withdrawn, presumably in order to take cover
before daylight. This cessation left 130 tons of
stores still on board her and the G.O.C. agreed to
The ships then left for the open sea before daylight
and joined me in position 65-00 degrees North,
7-50 degrees West.
0530 I had received message 0430/18th April from the
Flag Officer in EMILE BERTIN which made it clear that
the first French convoy could not arrive Namsos
until the evening of the 19th instead of on the 18th
as expected. This convoy consisted of the
following ships: EL D’JEZAIR (Flag), 5000 tons,
EL MANSOUR, 5000 tons, EL KANTARA, 5000 tons, and
VILLE D’ORAN, 10,000 tons. It was escorted by
the EMILE BERTIN, TARTU,
MAILLE BREZE, EPERVIER, and MILAN.
General de Wiart did not
consider that it was possible to deal with all 4
transports at one time at Namsos
and it was accordingly intended that two of the
smaller vessels should go in the first night and the
remainder 24 hours later.
Now that it was apparent that the French convoy could
not arrive until the 19th, there was another day in
hand and accordingly Captain (D) Fourth Destroyer
Flotilla proposed that CHROBRY should be turned round
and go in again at dusk to unload the remainder of her
stores, and also to embark a quantity of timber which
was at Namsos awaiting
shipment. I agreed, although the Commodore
transmitted to me a strong protest from the Master of
the CHROBRY in his signal 1124/18th April (n.b.
pen and ink correction inserted “and 1801/18")
of which a copy is enclosed. I consider that the
unexpected opportunity of landing the additional
stores should not be missed.
After disembarking their troops at Namsos
the Tribal destroyers had re embarked their naval
landing parties of GLASGOW
These were transferred to their proper ships inside
the entrance to the Fiords and GLASGOW
joined me 0900. I then ordered these two ships
to return to Scapa to refuel and await further orders;
the operation for which they had been sent (the
mopping up of the Indreled)
had now come to an end and they also required to fuel
before further service.
MATABELE had also to be sent in for fuel, and Captain
(D) Fourth Destroyer Flotilla reported that he was
becoming short handed for the operations in prospect
as SOMALI had already gone and ASHANTI
had not joined as expected. I therefore asked
the Flag Officer in Charge, Narvik
to send ZULU to join Captain (D) Fourth Destroyer
Flotilla, but he was unable to spare her in view of
his own impending operations. I also asked for
SOMALI to return as soon as possible. There
remained the question of escort for the FRANCONIA
which was due to be detached from the main convoy for
passage to Narvik.
I felt that REPULSE could ill afford to detach even
one of her three screening destroyers and I directed
REPULSE, in my message 2150/18 which was repeated to
the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, to take FRANCONIA
on to Narvik herself.
The French convoy would be continuously covered
by my two cruisers.
CHROBRY duly went into Namsen
Fjord at 1845, escorted by CAIRO
and four destroyers. An enemy seaplane was
sighted at about 1900 but no attack developed. Namsos
was reached, the remaining stores unloaded and a
quantity of timber was embarked, the ship sailing
again at 0230.
Friday, 19th April
I received the Commander in Chief’s signal 0057/19
ordering MANCHESTER and BIRMINGHAM to Rosyth, GLASGOW
and SHEFFIELD to the Clyde (all to arrive by a.m. 20th
April), and all destroyers, except MOHAWK and ASHANTI,
from Namsos area to
turned to the southwestward accordingly and worked up
to 27 knots. GLASGOW
were already about to ender Scapa and had to go in
there in any case to fuel. At 0238, I received
Admiralty message 0017, which gave further information
regarding the operations contemplated and preparations
were accordingly begun in MANCHESTER
for the reception of troops and stores. The
detachment of these ships left only the A.A. cruiser
to escort and cover the convoy into Namsosharbour. I view this
position with some anxiety, especially as the next
convoy was to be the first French one and in view of
the growing probability of submarines operating off
the entrance to Namsen
Fjord. At 0515 I sighted REPULSE and her screen;
she had not made contact with the French convoy and I
informed her of the new orders under which I was
The destroyers had left Namsos
before the revised orders were received, and it was
necessary for Captain (D), Fourth Destroyer Flotilla
to arrange to transfer to the shore the General and
his staff (who had again embarked in AFRIDI for the
day to remain in communication) and pilots for the
French for the French convoy. For this purpose,
he had to reenter the Fiord with AFRIDI, NUBIAN, and CAIRO.
maintained a speed of 27 knots to the southward during
the day, in order to arrive at Rosyth in good time on
the 20th. At 1741, however, I received the
Commander in Chief’s signal 1646/19 cancelling the
previous orders and directing me to return to the Namsos
area with one A.A. cruiser and one destroyer and
assist the French. As we had made some 400 miles
to the southward since the morning it was clearly
impossible to get back to Namsos
for the first and critical French landing. I
therefore adjusted course and speed with a view to
meeting the convoy on its return journey from Namsos.
I felt in these circumstances my position might be an
awkward one as my intervention at a later stage might
not be appreciated, especially if the French had met
with loss or difficulty in effecting the
landing. Hence my message 1942/19; I thought
that in the circumstances it might have been better
not to afford belated support.
Saturday, 20th April
On the morning of this day I found considerable
difficulty in clearing up the situation and obtaining
the necessary information as to the whereabouts of the
units concerned. By 0600 I had no information
whether in fact the French convoy had arrived at Namsos
during the night in whole or in part, whether it had
landed troops, where it was not or what ships were in
company with it, and I was compelled to ask for
information by W/T of CAIRO, Captain (D) Fourth
Destroyer Flotilla, and EMILE BERTIN.
At 0658 I received the Commander in Chief, Home
Fleet’s 0554/20 ordering BIRMINGHAM
to proceed with despatch
to escort convoy F.P. 1, which was stated had sailed
from Namsos at 0500
escorted by two French destroyers.
At 0810 EMILE BERTIN’s
0001/20 and received in which it was reported that she
had been hit during an aircraft attack “Off Namsos”
at 1802 the previous evening and was proceeding
southwestwards at 22 knots. These signals still
left me unaware whether a landing had been effected.
At 0821 Captain (D), Fourth Destroyer Flotilla
reported that he was not in company with the
convoy. At 1114, as I had received no reply from
to my 0604 and the last report from her at 0455 from FoldenFjiord was a report of
enemy aircraft, I send a hastening signal. At
1141 as it was clear that MANCHESTER would reach F.P.
1 long before BIRMINGHAM could do so I ordered the
latter to make contact with the second French troop
convoy F.P. 1A (VILLE D’ALGER, CALCUTTA, and two
French destroyers) and cover them towards Namsos.
In the absence of any further information regarding
F.P. 1 I asked EL DJEZAIR at 1332 to report its
position, course, and speed, and whether the
transports were empty. Shortly after this
message was despatched
the situation was cleared up expectedly by an
intercepted signal from TARTU
timed 1100/20 and I now know that the transports had
been successfully cleared except for a few tons of
I therefore decided to steer to the westward to make
contact with the convoy and escort on its return
journey, proceeding myself to fuel at Scapa as soon as
I had seen it safely into SullomVoe.
I was greatly relieved to get this information about
the French convoys, as the continued silence of CAIRO
combined with reports of aircraft attacks, had seemed
very ominous. CAIRO’s reply to my 0604 was timed
0953 and, being sent without indication of priority,
was not actually received by me until 1859.
At 1830 I sighted the French convoy with CAIRO,
and LE CHEVALIER PAUL in company. I took station
in the rear of the convoy to accompany them on their
passage westwards. CAIRO now signalled
a report of the air attacks which had taken place on
the convoy F.P. 1 in the approaches to Namsos
the previous evening, and as a result of this, and of
messages I had received from the Senior Officer of the
A/S trawlers at Namsos
reporting very heavy air attacks on the town and his
ships during the day, I send my message 2035/20
stressing the paramount necessity of air protection
and support at Namsos if
that place was not to become untenable. As it
was, the Anti Submarine Force was compelled to
withdraw and it appeared the town itself was
practically destroyed. At this time, of course,
it was defenceless except
for the close range weapons of the trawlers.
made contact with VILLE D’ALGER and CALCUTTA
(F.P. 1A at 2230. NUBIAN had been ordered on
ahead to Namsos to
consult with the General as to future landing
operations in view of the air attacks on the port.
Sunday, 21st April
NUBIAN’s messages 0416/21
and 0530/21 gave General de Wiart’s
report of the situation at Namsos,
and from these it must appear that of the face of it
further disembarkation must cease for the time
being. At 1206, however, Admiralty ordered
NUBIAN to return to Namsos
and afford A.A. protection to that place. This
left the policy to be followed still in doubt, and I
did not feel justified in issuing any instructions to
F.P. 1 A. The same applied to two ships of the
Store Convoy N.S.M. 1 which were due to arrive at Namsos
on 22nd April. These were BLACKHEATH with motor
transport, ammunition and other stores and BALMAHA
with coal for the trawlers.
No further instructions having been received, however,
at 1355/21 BISON reported that she was steering 020
degrees with Convoy F.P. 1 A until further orders and,
at 1600/21 she was steering course towards Namsos.
At 1621 I received BIRMINGHAM’s 1531/21 stated that BISON had
been instructed to this effect and asking whether this
action was correct. I replied that it was so
unless contrary orders were received from the
Commander in Chief, my intentions were to carry out
the existing policy as regards landing until it was
definitely changed by higher authority. My
instructions were confirmed by the Commander in Chief
at 1729/21. Meanwhile at 1556/21 the Admiralty were
still asking for further information about the
situation at Namsos in a
message addressed to NUBIAN. As the latter could
not get to Namsos till
1915 and had then to communicate with the General, it
would obviously be impossible to get a reply in time
for a landing that evening, though the question was
actually asked whether this would be possible.
To return to MANCHESTER’s movements, at 1300 I parted
company with the convoy off the Shetlands and
proceeded at 23 knots to arrive at Scapa before
dark. One unidentified aircraft was sighted on
passage, but only for a brief interval through the
clouds, and may have been friendly. At 2000 MANCHESTER
arrived at Scapa and anchored in A.1 Berth and I went
on board RODNEY to report verbally to the Commander in
Chief regarding the situation in the Namsos
On my return I saw NUBIAN’s
messages 2046 and 2121, representing very strongly on
behalf of General de Wiart
that no further landings should take place at Namsos
and even that the evacuation of the troops there must
be contemplated. In consequence the Commander in
Chief, at 2304/21, ordered VILLE D’ALGER not to enter
Namsos. She was then
already inside the Fiord but went out again. The
Commander in Chief’s instructions in fact crossed a
signal from BIRMINGHAM
reporting that the convoy had entered Namsen
Fjord without incident at 2030.
The Commander in Chief, Home Fleet also ordered
BLACKHEATH to stand off to the northward and arrive at
Namsos at dusk on 22nd, BIRMINGHAM
returning to Scapa.
At this stage I considered myself as having
relinquished the immediate responsibility in Namsos
At 0800 on this day Rear Admiral M.L. Clarke hoisted
his Flag in the SHEFFIELD
as Rear Admiral, Second in Command of the 18th Cruiser
was selected as temporary Flagship as SOUTHAMPTON
was still detained in the Narvik
Monday, 22nd April
At 1100 I visited the Chief of Staff in the RODNEY was
given verbal instructions from the Commander in Chief
to proceed to Rosyth and take charge of a force of
three cruisers and three destroyers to be employed in
transporting a body of 2000 troops and 300 tons of
stores to Molde and Aandalsnes.
The cruisers detailed were MANCHESTER,
and the destroyers ARROW, ACHERON, and GRIFFIN.
I accordingly left Scapa in MANCHESTER
for Rosyth at 1800. BIRMINGHAM
was unable to reach Rosyth without refuelling
and was due to arrive at Scapa from the north at
had already proceeded to Rosyth for this
under the orders of Vice Admiral Commanding, Second
Cruiser Squadron in GALATEA with 6 destroyers had
already sailed from Rosyth with a similar force for Molde
and Aandalsnes area at
Tuesday, 23rd April
I arrived at Rosyth in MANCHESTER
at 0700 and went alongside North Wall. Stores
for the Military, including two Bofors
guns, were embarked during the day but it was
discovered that the troops themselves would not be
available to embark until the early hours of the
24th. I was anxious to proceed as early as
possible on that day in order to have time in hand to
enter the Fiords at about sunset on the 25th even if
adverse winds were encountered. BIRMINGHAM
arrived at Rosyth at 1700 and at once began embarking
stores. I discussed the arrangements for the
passage and disembarkation at a meeting of Commanding
Officers and explained that it was my intention that
ships should leave the disembarkation ports
individually as soon as they had completed the
disembarkation and in any case well before daylight.
Wednesday, 24th April
The troops were embarked between
at 0600. A battalion of the
Green Howards were embarked in BIRMINGHAM
and personnel of No. 260 A.A. Battery in YORK;
apart from them the troops consisted of line of
communication units and base details. Major
General Paget and the Headquarters Staff of his
Division, embarked in MANCHESTER,
together with some officers of the Advance
Headquarters Unit of the Fifth Corps and Captain
Navy, Liaison Officer with the Fifth Corps. The
number of troops embarked were somewhat reduced from
the original estimate as a large party of Base Units
were delayed on the Clyde.
The numbers actually embarked were as follows:
officers and 429 other ranks
officers and 271 other ranks
officers and 589 other ranks
officers and 57 other ranks
officers and 57 other ranks
officers and 57 other ranks
(n.b. pen and ink
correction to “Commodore”)Boase,
appointed P.S.T.O., Norway,
was embarked in YORK and also Mr. E.K. Sandeman,
a B.B.C. engineer.
with ARROW, ACHERON, and GRIFFIN
sailed from Rosyth at 0600 on 24th April and proceeded
by the swept channel and east of the Orkneys and
Thursday, 25th April
Weather, fresh to strong E.N.E. wind, sea moderate
becoming rough. During the day the force
proceeded towards Romdals
Fiord by the following route:
62-10 degrees North, 01-44 degrees East
62-56 degrees North, 03-31 degrees East
aircraft provided A/S patrol in the early part of the
day. At 1600 two German aircraft were sighted
and carried out a high level bombing attack dropping
two salvos of eight bombs, four of which fell near MANCHESTER
and the others produced three near misses on BIRMINGHAM,
but without damage. These aircraft made off and
were probably a normal reconnaissance patrol at or
near the end of its endurance, as they did not stay or
shadow. They were engaged by the ships’ H.A.
guns and the cruisers opened their distance to two
miles on being attack. An escort of Blenheims
from 1800 to 1900 had been promised but did not
At 1900 the force arrived off Bjornsund
and entered the fjord, ARROW and ACHERON carrying out
an A/S sweep ahead, followed by MANCHESTER, YORK, and
BIRMINGHAM in that order, GRIFFIN being stationed on
my port quarter. Two unidentified
aircraft were sighted at long range to the
southwestward as the ships were entering the Fjord but
soon disappeared. Another unidentified aircraft
was sighted to the southward but also
went alongside the quay at Molde
at 2030 and the remainder of the force proceeded to Aandalsnes.
Disembarkation from MANCHESTER
commenced at once and troops, guns and stores landed
on the quay. The General and an advances
party of Headquarters Staff embarked in the Norwegian
destroyer SLEIPNER, which came alongside and proceeded
to Aandalsnes, the
remainder of the Headquarters Units being embarked in
a puffer for the same destination. The unloading
of ship was carried out with unexpectedly rapidity and
the ship was clear of troops and stores by 2215.
I then proceeded out of the Fjords and to seaward as
previously arranged. While at Molde
I saw Captain M.M. Denny, R.N., the Senior Naval
Officer in the Aandalsnes-Molde
area, who informed me that Aandalsnes
anchorage had been subjected to heavy air attacks
during the day and that three trawlers of the 22nd A/S
Group and a Norwegian torpedo boat had been
sunk. MOLDE had only been raided once during the
afternoon without much damaged. MANCHESTER
embarked Major Beasly(n.b.
G.W. Beazley), R.M. and 3 naval ratings and 1
army rank wounded for passage to the United
and the destroyers had proceeded to Aandalsnes
and carried out their disembarkation there
successfully and without interference from the
went alongside the wharf and BIRMINGHAM
anchored in the fjord. Disembarkation was
effected with the help of destroyers and
puffers. These ships proceeded on completing
disembarkation at 0150 on the 26th.
Friday, 26th April
Weather. Fresh to strong
E.N.E. wind, cloudy, and sea rough.
had arranged a rendezvous with BIRMINGHAM
at 1000 on 26th. YORK and the destroyers had
been ordered to proceed to Scapa on completion of the
landing operations and were proceeding
independently. Between 0500 and 0700 MANCHESTER
was shadowed by an enemy aircraft which was
intermittently engaged. The machine was a Heinkel
115 seaplane. At the end of its shadowing
period, it dropped a salvo of bombs through the
clouds, which fell 200 yards astern of MANCHESTER.
At 0740 BIRMINGHAM
reported enemy aircraft dropping bombs but
subsequently that the splashes were not bombs, but the
result of an engagement between ARROW and a German
armed trawler, which BIRMINGHAM
sank. This trawler was disguised with Dutch colours,
but hoisted the German ensign and succeeded in ramming
ARROW when her identity was discovered. ARROW
was holed above the waterline. In consequence of
this and early shadowing by enemy aircraft I altered
my rendezvous with BIRMINGHAM
to 1230 in a position further to the northwest.
As a result of BIRMINGHAM’s encounter with the armed
trawler, however, I was ordered by CinC
to sweep to the southward to locate transports which
he considered were almost certainly being escorted by
the trawler and turned to this course at 1045. BIRMINGHAM,
however, reported that the trawler was a minelayer and
was not escorting. The other destroyers now fell
in with a second enemy armed trawler, this time fitted
as a Submarine Supply Ship and armed with two torpedo
tubes. This vessel was to the southward of the
previous one; she was captured by GRIFFIN
and a prize crew put on board.
The area in which further units connected with these
trawlers were likely to be had already been traversed
in several directions by units of our forces proceeded
to and from Namsos and Romdals
Fjord in the last twelve hours. To sweep it out
again finally I made us of six destroyers under
HYPERION, which I now sighed steering southwest.
These were the relieved screen for the aircraft
carriers returning to Scapa
to fuel. I ordered them to spread on a line of
bearing on their way south and keep a look out for
enemy supply ships. To deal with the area to the
eastwards of that covered by these destroyers I
stationed BIRMINGHAM on my port beam ten miles and the
two cruisers swept south and then east until 1600
when, nothing having been sighted except a shadowing
aircraft during the afternoon, I turned to the
northward to take up a covering position off the
entrance to TrondhjemFjiord
for the night. This was in accordance with the CinC’s
signal 1543/26, directing me to cover the operations
of NUBIAN, SIKH, ASHANTI, and MOHAWK inside TrondjemLeden and VaaksKrags Fjord on the nights
of 26th and 27th April. This patrol was
maintained without incident, the two cruisers
patrolling on a line 040 degrees – 220 degrees about
30 miles from the coast until daylight.
Saturday, 27th April
Weather fine, wind light variable, sea smooth, small
amount of high cloud only.
early as 0407 an enemy shadowing aircraft – a Heinkel
111 K – was sighted and shadowers
were in view at intervals throughout the morning.
At this juncture, a large number of different convoys
and units had become congregated in the area to
westward of the coast between Namsos
and Romdals Fjord and
several were sighted by MANCHESTER.
At 0550 five ships were sighted which were made out to
be the petrol carrier RONAN escorted by four A/S
trawlers and bound for Namsos.
At 0615 eight more trawlers were sighted which proved
to be the 15th and 16th A/S Striking Forces, also
bound for Namsos.
At 1057 a convoy consisting of the ship GUNVOR MAERSK,
escorted by WOLVERINE, KIMBERLEY,
BRAZEN, and two A/S trawlers was sighted. This
convoy was also bound for Namsos.
From reports of shadowing aircraft it was clear that
V.A. (A) and his aircraft carrier force were operating
in the vicinity and that CURLEW was close by on her
way to Namsos. On
its way to Aandalsnes was
also convoy T.M. 1
consisting of four important store ships escorted by
three destroyers. It appeared very likely that
any or all of these units would be attacked by enemy
aircraft during the day, but I considered that my task
remained that of covering the inshore operations of
the four Tribals and I
therefore did not attempt to provide special cover for
any of the other units but stood off to the westward
until 1400, when I turned to the reciprocal to get in
position to repeat the patrol of the previous
night. At 1630 MANCHESTER
sighted and sank a German floating mine (horned type)
in 65-24 degrees North,
At 1750 MANCHESTER
engaged a single twin engined
bomber. This machine did not appear to be
exactly identical with either the HE 111 K or JU 88
types but resembled more closely the former.
After circling round the ships this machine made a
high level bombing attack from about 11,000 feet, but
gunfire being accurate, it sheered off, banking
steeply and disappearing into a high cloud layer, the
bombs falling about 1000 yards from either ship.
No further enemy aircraft were sighted during the
day. At 2230 I turned to the southwestward to
patrol off the coast during the night as on the
previous day. The only
reports received from the destroyers operating
inshore so far had been those of enemy aircraft
shadowing and attacking.
Sunday, 28th April
At 0819 orders were received for the evacuation of
troops in the Aandalsnes
area to be carried out as soon as possible (Admiralty
message 0339/28th April). MANCHESTER and
BIRMINGHAM, then in position 64-56 degrees North, 4-58
degrees East were down to 60 % and 66 %
of their fuel respectively, and in response
to inquiry from the Commander in Chief (0922/28th
April) I decided the ships must return to Scapa to
refuel before undertaking operations which would
probably extend up to the 4th May and would
involve high speed steaming.
Course was accordingly altered to the southward at
1100 and speed worked up to 30 knots. This speed
was maintained until 1900, when it was reduced to get
out paravanes. MANCHESTER’s port backhaul parted and she
formed astern of BIRMINGHAM.
Ships then proceeded at 28 knots there being a strong
southerly wind and moderately rough sea which covered
the ships with heavy spray at high speed. No
aircraft were sighted during this day. At 1405 I
was informed by the Commander in Chief that I was to
be in charge of the evacuation of the Aandalsnes
area with the available ships of the 18th and 2nd
Cruiser Squadron, transports ULSTER
PRINCE and ULSTER MONARCH, and the necessary
Monday, 29th April
arrived at Scapa at 0500. At 0930 I went on
board RODNEY and discussed the situation with the
Commander in Chief, and Vice Admiral Commanding,
Second Cruiser Squadron. I was then verbally
informed by the Commander in Chief that my
responsibility for the evacuation would now be limited
to the second day’s operations, Vice Admiral
Commanding, Second Cruiser Squadron being in charge of
the first day’s, the original operations having been
made on the assumption that I should already be in the
area when the operation started.
The situation being so doubtful I considered it
undesirable to issue any written orders for the
operations for which I was responsible, and I sent for
the Commanding Officers of the ships detailed to work
with me (MANCHESTER,
INGLEFIELD, DELIGHT, and DIANA) at 1800 and explained
to them verbally my intentions. They were given
the route I intended to follow to and from Romsdals
Fjord and the general instruction that all units were
to leave independently without delay as soon as they
had embarked troops. Two further transports
(ROYAL SCOTSMAN and ROYAL ULSTERMAN) were also placed
at my disposal, but I represented to the Commander in
Chief in my signal 1855/29 that I was anxious not to
use these vessels for the final day’s embarkation as
they have a speed of only 16 knots and a quick getaway
would be essential. MANCHESTER
completed with fuel and ammunition that (n.b.
pen and ink correction. Changed
to “this”) day.
Tuesday, 30th April
During the night messages were received and in
particular a report from Brigadier Hogg at Aandalsnes,
which appeared to indicate that the situation was much
more serious than had been expected and that
considerable embarrassment had been caused to the
military authorities because they had been expecting
the first day’s evacuation to take place on the night
of the 29th-30th April. Owing to the development
of the military situation it was now impossible to use
Molde for the final
evacuation, as communication between this place and Aandalsnes
had broken down. It would therefore be necessary
to do the final evacuation from Aandalsnes,
which would inevitably involved a much longer time
being spent inside the fjords by the ships concerned,
besides increasing the time necessary to embark
troops, as there was now only one quay fit for use at
discussed these latest developments in the situation
with Commanding Officers at a further meeting at
0930. The Commander in Chief then ordered CALCUTTA
to go on ahead to Aandalsnes
in order to provide additional A.A. defence
there in view of the critical situation. CALCUTTA
accordingly sailed at 1115. I left Scapa with MANCHESTER,
INGLEFIELD, DELIGHT, and DIANA at 1600 and proceeded
east of the Orkneys and Shetlands to position 63
degrees North, 00-45
degree East, and thence to a position 45 miles 315
degrees from Bud with a view to passing Buddybet
at about 2030 the following day.
(continued after May
ADMIRAL COMMANDING, 18TH CRUISER SQUADRON
Wednesday, 1st May
At 0620 the result of the first night’s evacuation
under the Vice Admiral Commanding Second Cruiser
Squadron was received in message 0430/1st May.
It appeared from Vice Admiral Commanding, Second
Cruiser Squadron’s report that some 2000 troops had
been embarked by his force, but that ULSTER MONARCH
was empty and none of his other ships were
completely full. Molde
had been completely evacuated by TARTAR and ULSTER
Denny and his staff embarked in TARTAR and about 150
personnel in ULSTER
PRINCE. Vice Admiral Commanding Second Cruiser
Squadron reported that about 1500 British troops
remained to be embarked, together with an uncertain
number of Norwegian troops. The Admiralty had
also given authority for refugees to be embarked at
the discretion of Commanding Officers.
During the course of the forenoon, I sighted Vice
Admiral Commanding Second Cruiser Squadron’s force
proceeding on its return journey to Scapa. He
had already placed the ULSTER MONARCH at my disposal,
and in view of the indefinite numbers both of
British and Norwegian troops that might require
evacuation, I decided to use her and directed
Captain (D) VI to take her into Romsdals
Fjord to Aandalsnes to
embark as many troops as possible and sail with
DIANA as soon as loaded. At 1206, however,
ULSTER MONARCH reported that she had a cracked
piston and was told to return to Scapa
forthwith. She accordingly proceeded in
company with SIKH and SOMALI and MASHONA joined by
flag. I intended on using SOMALI for
evacuating the Naval Marine Landing Party at Aalesund
and to use MASHONA to assist in ferrying troops to BIRMINGHAM
I hoped with one ferry trip by destroyers and one
loading direct into CALCUTTA
we should be able to take off the numbers requiring
embarkation. This was, however, considerable
doubt as to the numbers which might require
evacuation. As previously stated, the Vice
Admiral Commanding Second Cruiser Squadron had
estimated these at 1500 British and an indefinite
number of Norwegians, and I was unable to obtain any
information as to the numbers of the latter.
Vice Admiral Commanding Second Cruiser Squadron signalled
at 1032 that there were no Norwegian troops actually
awaiting embarkation at the time when he left.
he reported in his signal 1024/1st May that, as a
result of their experiences, the officers at Aandalsnes
were so shaken that they were unable to give any
reliable account of what the real position at the
front was. In the meantime, CALCUTTA
had arrived in Romsdals
Fjord and I hoped to be able to use one or both of
these ships to obtain information regarding the
situation there, though they were instructed to
withdraw if bomber attacks became too heavy.
I arranged for DIANA to go to Molde
for the purpose of embarking the Norwegian Commander
in Chief and his Staff and any stragglers, as the
Norwegian Commander in Chief had refused to embark
unless he could be transferred direct some other
Norwegian port. It was not know for certain
whether he would be there, and if he was not she was
to proceed to Aandalsnes
and assist me.
At 1439 I received a report from CALCUTTA timed 1303
that the numbers still to be evacuated from Aandalsnes
were about 1800 and that in addition there were
about 200 Marines to embark from the beach in a bay
one mile S.W. of Aandalsnes
who would have to be brought off in ships’
boats. At 1706, however, I received the
Commander in Chief’s 1601 containing an estimate by
the War Office of the number of British troops to be
embarked which placed the figure as high as 2900 and
mentioning the possibility of some of the troops
being unable to reach the embarkation point on the
second night. In consequence of this
information the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, now
began to make preparations to send in further ships
on the night of the 2nd/3rd May to complete the
I made arrangements for all ships to drop their
whalers on the way in to evacuate the Royal Marine
detachment referred to above, but as soon as I had
done this the Vice Admiral Commanding, Second
Cruiser Squadron informed me that WALKER had
reported that the 120 Marines she had embarked at Veblusungen
comprised the whole detachment. The
discrepancy between the two figures cast some doubt
on whether this was so, but in view of the great
delay and complication involved in the use of ships’
boats in embarking troops from the beach, I acted on
the assumption that this party had already been
evacuated, and as far as
I am able to ascertain this was the case.
Aircraft attacks on AUCKLAND
in Romsdals Fjord began
at 0730 and continued with increasing intensity
during the day until the ships were finally
compelled to withdraw from the vicinity of Aandalsnes
at about 1600.
At 1425 a series of enemy aircraft attacks on MANCHESTER
began. The first attack was delivered by three
aircraft (probably JU 88’s) diving from a great
height to about 2500 feet. The sky was
practically cloudless. The aircraft were not
sighted till shortly before they released their
bombs, and were not engaged. Six bombs were
dropped and one or more aircraft also opened fire
with machine guns. There were no hits.
Between 1455 and 1510 five aircraft made three
attempts at high level bombing from a considerable
height – between 17,000 and 19,000 feet. They
were however engaged and on several occasions
sheered off when they found the H.A. fire becoming
accurate. Two machines appear to fail to get
in an attack at all. About ten bombs were
dropped and there were no hits.
Between 1540 and 1550 a formation of six aircraft
circled the ships at long range but did not
attack. This may possibly have been a
formation which had attacked the aircraft carrier
squadron and was on its way back home. For
half an hour from 1600 to 1630 the force was
shadowed by a single HE 115 seaplane. No
further attacks developed until the entrance of the
Fjords was reached.
Fighter escorts when approaching the coast at dusk
had been asked for, but none materialized, though Blenheims
had been over Aandalsnes
during the morning.
At 1800, SOMALI was detached to Aalesund
to embark the 200 officers and men to the PRIMROSE
Although the visibility to seaward was still
extreme, on approaching the coast there were
unpleasant signs of fog conditions which (coupled
with reports of dense fog in the Namsos
area) caused me some anxiety and made me decided
that it was imperative to get away in time to clear
the land before early morning fog conditions reached
their peak. It would have been a very
unpleasant experience to have been held up in the
Fjords with the ships loaded with troops and the
Germans taking possession of that port.
At 1900 CALCUTTA
were met off Buddybet
and turned back to proceed in company with the
remainder of the force. They had been very
heavily engaged by enemy aircraft all day and both
reported being short of ammunition. Over 150
bombs had been dropped on them but no hits were
had one 4 inch mounting out of action and AUCKLAND
only 70 rounds per gun remaining.
At 2025 as the force was entering the Fjord a single
enemy bomber was sighted over land on a northerly
course. It evidently sighted the ships and
turned in to attack. A high level bombing
attack was delivered from about 11,000 feet in spite
of accurate H.A. fire, a salvo of bombs falling
about 500 yards off MANCHESTER’s
port quarter. A second machine then appeared
from the northward and approached to deliver a
similar attack from a similar direction; H.A. fire
from the cruisers was however heavy and before the
position of bomb release was reached a direct hit
was scored on the enemy aircraft, which burst into
flames and crashed on the hillside. Other
enemy aircraft were also seen and engaged at
intervals for the next three quarters of an hour but
no further bombing attacks were delivered until 2145
and it is probable that some of the aircraft had
already dropped bombs on Aandalsnes
At 2145, when well inside the fjords a well judged
and unseen attack on MANCHESTER
was delivered by a single aircraft,
probably from a considerable height as it
was not seen and only its engine was heard. A
salvo of three bombs burst close to MANCHESTER’s port bow and threw many
splinters on board. The shock of the explosion
carried away the main and secondary W/T aerials but
these were soon replaced by ship’s staff. No
other damage was done. At the time of this
attack twilight was at its most deceptive stage and
it was impossible to see aircraft at all at anything
above a moderate height.
In the outer reaches of the fjords four British
trawlers were seen sheltering under the cliffs, and
the wrecks of two others were visible. The
surviving vessels were ordered to proceed to Scapa
forthwith. I considered their best chance of
getting away without molestation from aircraft was
to proceed independently and put as bit a distance
between themselves and the coast before daylight as
Passage up the Fiords was made at 20 knots,
INGLEFIELD and DIANA carrying out an A/S sweep
ahead, MASHONA and DELIGHT following astern of them
and dropping occasional depth charges in inlets
which might hold submarines. Off Molde,
DIANA was detached to embark the Norwegian Commander
in Chief and his Staff and take them to Tromso
if they wished to go there. Molde
was seen to be badly on fire and covering with a
thick pall of smoke. On approaching the arm of
Romsdals Fjord on which
Aandalsnes is situated,
the glow of another great fire could soon be seen
and a nearer view showed this to be the village
southwest of Aandalsnes
which was ablaze from end to end and appeared to
have been recently set afire by incendiary
bombs. It continued to blaze fiercely
throughout the evacuation, though the flames were
dying down when the force left.
The illumination produced by this conflagration,
though brilliant over a small area, would hardly
have been sufficient for high bombing purposes
against the ships, though it seemed possible at the
time that this was the object of setting fire to the
village. From later information, it seems more
likely that it was part of a deliberated policy of
bombing possible billeting areas, and indicates that
the enemy were not
prepared for immediate evacuation.
My force arrived off Aandalsnes
at 2245. MANCHESTER and BIRMINGHAM anchored
off the town and MASHONA and INGLEFIELD at once went
alongside the quay, which was fortunately still
undamaged in spite of the town have been incessantly
bombed for several days. I received a signal
from the Naval Officer in Charge, Captain Champness,
through MASHONA, informing me that only 300 men were
then available to embark and that the main body from
the front would arrive in the town between 0100 and
0200. This news was a bolt from the blue, as I
had been previously assured that all would be ready
for the final embarkation to start at 2300. As
I have mentioned above, I considered it vital for
the force to get away by 0100 or very shortly
thereafter and to be clear of Buddybet
by daylight, and I landed to get into touch with the
Naval Officer in Charge and General Paget.
Their information when I met them appeared to be
scanty, and in point of fact fresh bodies of troops
began to arrive shortly after I landed, and the
destroyers alongside were quickly filled.
MASHONA took a full load to BIRMINGHAM
and INGLEFIELD and DELIGHT took about 850 and 8
German prisoners to MANCHESTER.
When some 1300 men had reached the quayside General
Paget informed me that this was all the main body
and that only a rear guard of some 200 men now
remained, who would arrive by lorry.
Thursday, 2nd May
I accordingly returned to MANCHESTER
at 0010 and ordered CALCUTTA
to embark the remaining troops. The other
ships were ordered to proceed as soon as they were
ready. At 0015, DIANA which had come round
from Molde, with
Norwegian Commander in Chief and some 30 staff
officers on board, was directed to proceed to Tromso.
proceeded at 0046 and MANCHESTER
and the destroyers at 0115.
General Paget and his staff embarked in MANCHESTER.
left the jetty at 0130 having filled up with
troops. It was with some surprise, in view of
the statements of the authorities ashore, that I
learned later that she had over 700 men on board
excluding the rear guard. I left AUCKLAND to
deal with the latter, choosing her for this service
in spite of her slow speed, shortage of ammunition
and her ship’s company having been in action all
day, because her officers along possessed the local
knowledge which would be badly needed in the event
of difficulty in getting out of the fjords in
fog. None of the destroyers had been inside
before. As MANCHESTER
was proceeding, the lights of lorries
could be seen coming over the hill, which it was
thought should be the rear guard. I ordered AUCKLAND
not to remain in any case beyond 0230 for
The troops when they embarked were for the most part
dead beat and demoralized; especially those who had
been in Aandalsnes
during the constant bombing of that place in the
last few days. They only desired to sit or lie
down somewhere. After a few hours on board the
ships, however, most of them very quickly recovered.
I cleared the Fjords at Buddybet
at 0250 in MANCHESTER
INGLEFIELD, and DELIGHT in company, and set course
270 degrees at 27 knots. CALCUTTA
was some distance astern and MASHONA had stopped to
embark a party of remnants – trawlers’ crews,
stragglers, wound, etc. – from a Norwegian drifter
met in the fjord. Visibility on leaving was
very patchy and the danger that fog might set in was
real. It never became sufficiently thick to
interfere with movements and once well clear of the
coast visibility was again extreme.
By 0800, the whole force, except AUCKLAND,
was over 100 miles clear of the coast and I ordered
MASHONA and CALCUTTA
to proceed to Scapa in company independently at
convenient speed, MASHONA having reported trouble
with one turbine. With MANCHESTER,
INGLEFIELD, and DELIGHT, I proceeded at 25 knots to
cross the Greenwich
meridian in 63 degrees North
and thence west of the Shetlands to Scapa. No
sign of enemy aircraft was seen.
aircraft as A/S escort joined at 0630 and remained
in company until 0830. The flight of Hudsons
with had been promised as a fighter escort from 0400
to 0700 did not materialize but at 0815 a flight of
Blenheims arrived and
kept in company till 1040.
was very welcome, although, as it happened, they
found no opponents, as they were the first of our
own fighter aircraft to be sighted during the
of fighters were in attendance at intervals up to
At 1203 AUCKLAND
reported her position, course, and speed as well
clear of the Norwegian coast and that she had 23
officers and 218 men on board including Brigadier
Hopwood, this constituted the complete rear guard.
At 0005 Captain (D) VI had reported that the
embarkation of the PRIMROSE force from Aalesund
was complete and that had left for Scapa.
The evacuation of SICKLE and PRIMROSE had therefore
been carried out with complete success and without
loss in the face of considerable enemy air
opposition. The latter faded away at the
critical time, as a bombing or machine gun attack
while embarkation was in progress would have been
difficult to compete with. The total numbers
embarked in each ship was at follows:
No Norwegian troops required evacuation and I
found no bullion awaiting shipment.
D.4 (R) C.S.
Your 1128. Submit from reports no
room ashore yet further stores. Your order
received and still be
obeyed but may I respectfully protest in view of
service and the often repeated requests of Harbour
Master and Military to get clear, that it is most
undesirable. Cannot again proceed to pier
unless flat calm.
D.4 (R) C.S.
Your 1721, not to C.S. 18.
It is understood that we are to proceed to the same
berth as yesterday. If so, Captain will use
his utmost endeavour to
comply with all orders received but he wished me to
state that he cannot accept any responsibility for
damage to the his ship or to the pier.
Further tugs being useless, he must point out that
it may not be possible to get the ship away from the
quay in which case most serious damage will result
and ship may go aground.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR OPERATIONS OFF THE NORWEGIANCOAST
The Vice Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron
13th May 1940
18th C.S. … 163/77
THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF, HOME FLEET
to The Secretary of the
(18th C.S. 248/77)
to my submission No. 218/682 of 5th May, forwarding
a copy of my war diary covering the evacuation of
troops from Aandalsnes
and Molde on the night
of 1st – 2nd May 1940, I had intended to submit a
fuller report mainly with the object of transmitting
reports from the Captains of ships concerned, and of
recommending the good services of any officers and
men they might mention. The Commanding
Officer, H.M.S. CALCUTTA, has however, submitted a
report (No. 054/28 of 2nd May 1940) direct to you
and to the Admiralty says he has nothing to add to
this. Apart from these two ships, other units
have no fresh facts to bring to light, as they were
mostly in close company with me.
I should like, however, to take this opportunity of
bring to your notice the good serve performed by the
in these operations, for consideration under H.G.C.
73, paragraph 4.
Captain D.M. Lees, R.N.
, H.M.S. CALCUTTA
Commander J.G. Hewitt, R.N. ,
Lees‘ report dated 2nd May 1930 gives a very good account of
the doings of these ships.
had to take on board his small cruiser unexpectedly
and at the last moment no fewer than 758 troops in a
weary and demoralized state, and the fact that he
did so without delay or confusion points to a very
high degree of resource and rapid organisation.
consider he did extremely well.
in Captain Lees’ report, CALCUTTA
was well supported by AUCKLAND,
and I consider Commander Hewitt’s ship performed
very good service. To her fell the longest day
and most hazardous task, that of the final
evacuation of the rearguard, and retirement in
daylight from the fjords. Commander Hewitt has
not rendered a detailed report on his proceedings,
but I consider his ship’s successful performance of
this role a tribute to his determination and
Captain P. Todd, R.N. H.M.S.
was most impressed by the way in which this officer
took charge of the situation on the quay at Aandalsnes
during the embarkation of troops into
destroyers. By great force of character and
leadership he succeeded in getting large numbers of
disorganized and dead beat troops embarked with
astonishing rapidity, when speed was all important,
and where the control of control of troops by their
own officers had practically ceased to exist.
Commander W.W. Sitwell, R.N.,
displayed exceptional powers of organisation
and resource in dealing at short notice with the
accommodation of large numbers of troops. This
was evident both on the occasion of the landing of
troops at Molde on 25th
April and on that of the evacuation. On
neither occasion was reliable information available
until the last moment of numbers or units coming; on
both occasions the operations were carried out
during the night. His good qualities were specially
noticeable in dealing with the unexpectedly large
numbers embarked during the evacuation.
Captain Lees has submitted in letter quoted above
the names of certain officers and men for
consideration for their good service. In the
circumstances, I feel sure that similar
recommendations are merited by officers and men in
other ships, but I do not propose to call for these
specially, as this was by no means the only occasion
on which the operations of the Norwegian coast have
given opportunity for good service, and you may
prefer to call for recommendations covering a longer
(stamp) G. Layton
of 18th Cruiser Squadron at 0001/1st May 1940
MANCHESTER (Flag of Vice Admiral), BIRMINGHAM
to evacuate troops.
At Aandalsnes evacuating troops and covering evacuation.
At Tromso after disembarking H.M. the King of Norway
and Norwegian Government
Refitting on the Tyne; completes 29th May
on Tyne. Structural defects. Reduced
to special complement 24th April.
Completes end of September.
– 3rd to 15th May 1940
Friday, 3rd May
INGLEFIELD, and DELIGHT arrived
Scapa at 0045.
and MASHONA arrived 0800.
disembarked into tugs and drifters during the
forenoon, and thence into liners for passage to Clyde.
Ships completed with ammunition, oil, etc, during
the day. SHEFFIELD
in harbour. Exchanged calls
with Rear Admiral, Second in Command, 18th Cruiser
Saturday, 4th May
Sunday, 5th May
arrived. Flag of R.A. 18 transferred from SHEFFIELD
represented defects to diesel dynamos, and steam
cross connection pipes, the necessity of changing 4
inch gun barrels, and for repairs to her D.G.
equipment. This was represented verbally to
the Commander in Chief.
Monday, 6th May
R.A. 18 in SOUTHAMPTON
sailed for Rosyth 2240 for repairs as above.
Tuesday, 7th May
GLASGOW ordered to dock and repair, consequent on
bomb damage on 9th April and damage to propeller
after completion of duty in Iceland, about 14th
arrived at Rosyth.
Wednesday, 8th May
ordered to Rosyth and sailed at 0500.
Thursday, 9th May
ordered to Humber. MANCHESTER
carried out 6 inch full calibre
practice in Pentland Firth,
Enemy forces consisting of (a) 6 M.T.B.’s
and (b) 1 M.T.B., 4 minelayers or minesweepers and 3
destroyers were reported at sea in the North central
part of the North
was then ordered to proceed with the 8 destroyers
which had been ordered to the Humber
(KELLY (D.5), KANDAHAR,
HOSTILE, HYPERION, HEREWARD, HAVOCK and JANUS) and 5
destroyers from Scapa (FURY, FORESIGHT, MOHAWK,
GALLANT, and BULLDOG) to engage these forces.
The five destroyers from Scapa were to deal with the
M.T.B.’s first and then
The force was to sweep to the westward at 2230 if
nothing had been sighted. In the event, the
enemy M.T.B.’s were
encountered at 2235, lying
almost stopped in the path of the sweep. They
were sighted at very short range, the night being
dark and the boats hard to pick up. The M.T.B.’s
fired torpedoes from about 600 yards range and one
of these hit KELLY. None of the M.T.B.’swere sunk by gunfire, but
one rammed KELLY and BULLDOG when the latter was
taking KELLY in tow, and sank alongside.
Friday, 10th May
Information of this attack and that some ship had
been damaged was received at Scapa between 2330 and
midnight, and at 2358, MANCHESTER and SHEFFIELD were
ordered by the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, to
raise steam for full speed with all despatch,
and in his 0104/10th May, received at 0122, they
were ordered to proceed as soon as possible and
cover the withdrawal of KELLY. Meanwhile BIRMINGHAM
was instructed to concentrate the whole of his force
and withdraw with KELLY, which had now been taken in
tow by BULLDOG.
MANCHESTER and SHEFFIELD were underway by 0210 and
sailed from Scapa at 0245, and after proceeding
through the swept channel, set course 110 degrees
with a view of rounding the N.E. corner of the
declared mine area and then joining the forces
screening KELLY as early as practicable; it did not
appear, from the positions and speeds available that
this juncture could be effected before noon on the
10th. BULLDOG was reported to be making good 7
knots with the tow.
Air support for what was bound to be a slow
withdrawal from the enemy’s waters was obviously
imperative, and I asked in my signal 0204 of 10th
May to the Commander in Chief, Rosyth, for maximum
possible support. This was promised from 0430
onwards as long as daylight lasted.
At 0621, news was received of the German invasion of
and a little later of the attacks on Belgium
As a consequence of this, Admiralty ordered BIRMINGHAM
to leave two destroyers with BULLDOG and KELLY and
proceed with the remainder towards Terschelling
at maximum speed.
I accordingly increased speed to 28 knots to provide
earlier support to KELLY with my force.
From 0549, BIRMINGHAM
reported shadowing aircraft, and though during the
forenoon a battle flight was in attendance on her
force, this protection lapsed at about , and for the next 6
hours the force was without air escort, in spite of
repeated attempts to get in touch with the escorts
sent out. During this period, several attacks
by enemy aircraft took place, as described more
Meanwhile, the positions given by aircraft and ships
for KELLY and her escort proved to be considerably
at variance with one another, and though visibility
was extreme and weather conditions excellent, the
ships were somewhat elusive, and in fact much
further to the eastward than they had placed
themselves, and further to the southward than they
were placed by aircraft.
At 1315 SHEFFIELD
sighted a trawler and was directed to
investigate. She reported three trawlers
flying Dutch colours
and proceeding west; closed to 100 yards and
considered them innocent.
also sighted a similar trawler at 1345.
At 1327, BULLDOG and KANDAHAR
reported they were being attacked by 4 enemy
aircraft and asked for assistance. It was not,
however, possible to get in touch with our
fighters. The positions given were again
inaccurate, and it was not until 1507 that the
destroyers were sighted by from MANCHESTER.
As the ships closed, it was seen that KELLY had a
pronounced list to starboard and was down by the
head. She was yawing badly and from the
position in which the ships were actually met (56-30
degrees North, 03-50 degrees East at 1530), appeared
only to have made good about 3 ½ knots. This
was a blow, as it bade fair to double the length of
time during which the ships would be compelled to
pass at slow speed through an area very likely to be
subject to air, submarine, and M.T.B. attack.
Moreover, while the cruisers were joining up KELLY
and the destroyers were again attacked by enemy
bombers. There was a discontinuous cloud cover
sheet (strato cumulus)
at about 10,000 feet which gave ideal cover to the
bombers, but fortunately this passed away to the
eastward during the afternoon leaving a clear sky
and extreme visibility. One enemy aircraft (Ju
88) dropped a stick of 6 bombs among the destroyers;
another dropped a salvo of bombs very wide of the SHEFFIELD.
Other aircraft were seen and engaged intermittently
by all ships including KELLY, which had still her
guns in action, although she reported that her
boiler rooms and lower mess deck were flooded and
the bottom blown out of the former.
These attacks ceased at about 1615; further efforts
to get in touch with the fighter escorts proved
unavailing while they were continuing.
At 1625 SHEFFIELD
reported an asdic contact but this was not
confirmed. At 1655, the escorting destroyers (KANDAHAR,
HAVOCK, and FURY) reported a submarine in sight and
attacked with depth charges. No apparent
On joining up, the cruisers manoeuvred
off the van and rear of the destroyers, making wide
70 degrees off the mean line of advance and
proceeding at 18 knots. Even so, the danger
from submarines was great, as the ships were
compelled to pass and repass
the same stretch of water.
At 1620, a floating mine
(German horned type) was sighted.
From 1648 onwards, my force was consistently
shadowed at long range by two and sometimes three
Dornier flying boats. Our own air support was
not forthcoming until 1815 when three Hudsons
arrived, and the Dorniers
made off. From then onwards until dark,
continuous escort was available. The Hudsons
occasionally flew too directly towards the ships and
exposed themselves unnecessarily to the risk of
being fired at. I regret that this actually
happened at 2145, when SHEFFIELD
fired a few rounds of pom-pom at a Hudson.
This incident was actually due to an error on the
part of the gunlayer,
as all personnel on the bridge had recognized the
aircraft as friendly.
In considering dispositions for the night, I had in
mind the distinct possibility that the enemy M.T.B.’s
would repeat their attacks. I therefore
decided to station the cruisers well ahead of the
tow, the three escorting destroyers screening it
One aircraft of the escort was ordered to search
astern at dusk for any sign of enemy surface craft
or submarines. A search to a depth of 50 miles
and 30 miles either side of the track was carried
out and nothing sighted.
At 2055, SHEFFIELD
obtained a confirmed contact and cruisers altered
course to 180 degrees and increased to 25 knots,
returning to resume station at 2115.
At 2130 BULLDOG appeared to be in difficulty with
the two, but on being closed reported that all was
well, though steering was difficult.
At 2150 cruisers proceeded to get 5 miles ahead of
destroyers, and maintained a mean line of advance of
260 degrees during the night, zigzagging 80 degrees each
side at 15 knots. Hands were stationed at
action stations throughout the night.
Saturday, 11th May
At daylight, the destroyers were again closed and KANDAHAR
detached to Rosyth to refuel. From their 0400
position, it appeared that they had made good some 5
knots during the night, but unfortunately the wind,
which had been very light, now began to freshen
somewhat from the N.W. with a slight lop. This
made the tow much less manageable, and it became
clear that little or no progress would be made with
one destroyer towing except in the calmest
weather. I therefore asked for a tug in my
message 0410/11 and at 0551/11 asked for two ocean
going tugs, as Captain (D) 5 had reported that KELLY
was just holding together.
The position of the cruiser as regards submarine
attack was now causing me growing concern. It
was clear that the enemy must have enough
information of the position and slow progress of the
tow. He was in a position to direct submarines
to it long before it could reach safety. The
cruisers, maintaining long zigzags in the vicinity of
the convoy, had of necessity to pass and repass
the same areas. I accordingly suggested in my
0410/11 that they should withdraw, as I judged the
risk of attack by surface craft larger than M.T.B.’s
to be comparatively slight, and the A.A. protection
of the cruisers to be of little value unless they
could keep close company with the tow, which was
impossible on account of the submarine risk.
In accordance with the Commander in Chief’s
0638/11th May , in reply
to this suggestion, I held off to the westward
during the day, regaining V/S touch at intervals of
two hours, the cruisers zigzagging at 20 to 25
At 0600, the tow parted and it took some
considerable time to pass it to FURY, the operation
being completed about 1100. In view of the
state of the sea, which was at this time steadily
worsening, I told Captain (D), 5th Destroyer
Flotilla to consider abandoning and sinking
KELLY. In reply, however, he expressed
his confidence that the ship could be saved with
ocean tugs, and was well worth saving as all her
armament and equipment was in good condition.
During the morning, two German floating mines
(horned type) were passed.
Air escorts arrived punctually on this day and were
maintained continuously. Between 1430 and
1500, however, when 3 Hudsons
were in attendance, an attack was made by enemy
aircraft. No R/D.F. report of them was
received in SHEFFIELD,
but they were first sighted from that ship.
The cruisers were then about 5 miles distant from
the convoy. Three or four enemy aircraft (HE
111 and JU 88) took part in the attack; five salvos
of bombs were dropped in high level bombing attacks
from about 6 -8000 feet, two aimed at MANCHESTER,
two at the destroyers, and one at SHEFFIELD.
All were fairly wide misses. The sky was party
clouded at this time with heavy detached cumulus
clouds which provided good cover for the
bombers. The first attack (on MANCHESTER)
was delivered before the aircraft had been sighted
from that ship. Other attackers were engaged
by all ships; no ships or aircraft were hit, but the
attacks were not pressed home.
The three Hudsons
of the current escort were at the time flying around
the ships at about 1000 to 2000 feet. They had
just reported a submarine 8 miles westward. A
signal was made by V/S to them to close the
destroyers which they promptly carried out.
relief flight of Hudsons
arrived during the attacks, but they were not seen
to engage the enemy. One Hudson
was observed chasing a Junker 88 but was someway
astern and unable to catch up.
It was felt that the tactics of the Hudson
escorts were bound to be ineffective against fast
bombers in high level bombing attacks, as they flew
so low that they could not possibly climb to their
opponents’ height in the time available.
The afternoon appears to be a favourite
time for bombing attacks on ships. One reason
for this is of course that it may be the result of
shadowing during the forenoon, but another is that
in fine weather there is normally a marked cloud
maximum during the afternoon. On this occasion
no shadowing aircraft were sighted; either they were
kept away by the Hudsons,
or the enemy had sufficient information of our
positions by D/F and D.R. to dispose with shadowing.
There was a second report of a submarine from an
aircraft at 1600 and SHEFFIELD
had several asdic contacts during the
afternoon. The presence of submarines was not
established by an actual attack, but these numerous
reports were disquieting, and I decided to keep the
cruisers at least 25 miles from the convoy. It
was possible that the Hudsons
were performing good service in keeping one or more
submarines submerged and preventing attack.
Further observations at 1500 showed that the tow had
made no progress at all since 0600, in fact they had
made 7 miles leeway to the S.E.; it was possible, at
best, that the tugs (WATERMEYER from Tyne
and BRAHMAN from Rosyth) would arrive by ,
but more likely that they would not make contact
till after daylight.
I reported this lack of progress, and at 1711, I
received the Commander in Chief’s 1609/11 directing
the cruisers to proceed to Rosyth. I
accordingly turned to 270 degrees and increased to
27 knots. I welcomed this decision as there
was a growing risk that, in endeavouring
to save one damaged destroyer we might incur more
serious losses. At the same time, I parted
company with Captain (D) 5th Destroyer Flotilla, and
his ship with very great reluctance, as I was
impressed by the gallantry and determination of the
efforts which he and his ship’s company were making
to save their rather unfortunate ship. He
informed me that all on board were desperately
anxious to save her and were prepared to take their
chance along till tugs could find them if an escort
could not remain.
On leaving for Rosyth, I asked the Commander in
Chief, Rosyth, to provide air escorts, both for
fighter and A/S purposes for the convoy the next
day, and drew special attention to the importance of
providing high performance machines during the
Sunday, 12th May
arrived at Rosyth at 0100/12th May. Ships
remained at 2 hours notice for steam until MANCHESTER
required 4 hours’ notice to take in hand temporary
forenoon, I visited the Commander in Chief, Rosyth
and Rear Admiral, 18th Cruiser Squadron with a view
to arrange for the completion of the D.G. work in
MANCHESTER and SOUTHAMPTON with all despatch.
had now been nearly 6 months without giving any
night leave, I obtained approval from the Commander
in Chief, Home Fleet by telephone to give one
night’s leave to each watch. I considered this
most desirable before calling on the ship’s company
for further arduous service.
Monday, 13th May
The work of running the first cables for D.G. in MANCHESTER
was progressed by the ship’s staff and completed by
represented to the Commander in Chief in my message
1105/13, the desirability of considering an early
refit for MANCHESTER,
in spite of the grave situation. This ship
had, in fact, been running continuously for a long
period than had been achieved by any of the other
cruisers of the 18th Cruiser Squadron, and her many
defects could not be let go for much longer.
Tuesday, 14th May to Wednesday, 15th May
of degaussing in MANCHESTER
progressed at Rosyth.
of 18th Cruiser Squadron at 2359/15th May
MANCHESTER (Flag of Vice Admiral)
being fitting with temporary D.G.
SOUTHAMPTON (Flag of Rear Admiral)
Rosyth, repairs to D.G. and fitting of F and Q coils
Humber, being fitted with D.G. F and Q coils
First four ships at Fleet notice for steam
In hand for repairs to bomb damage,
exchange of gun barrels, replacement
of propellers, and modifications to
Refit, completed 29th May
Repairs. Structural defects. Completes end
of September. Reduced
to special complement.
ADMIRAL COMMANDING, 18th CRUISER SQUADRON
WAR DIARY – 16th – 31st May
Wednesday, 15th May
Chief, Home Fleet, directed work of fitting
temporary D.G. in BIRMINGHAM
to be progressed with ship at 4 hours’ notice, and
should be taken in hand for refit on completion of NEWCASTLE
was approved for MANCHESTER
to give night leave, although at 4 hours’ notice, as
long as D.G. work was in hand.
Thursday, 16th May, Friday, 17th May, Saturday,
18th May, Sunday, 19th May
Monday, 20th May
0227 orders were received for the 18th Cruiser
Squadron and RENOWN to raise steam for full speed
with all despatch.
This was in consequence of an enemy report from
aircraft of a battleship and a large number of
destroyers steering west, north of the Frisian Islands.
Personnel were recalled from leave, and SOUTHAMPTON
were ready to proceed at 0530 and MANCHESTER
at 0645. The latter had considerable work to
do in securing the temporary D.G. gear for sea.
report later appeared to refer only to 4 destroyers
and possibly a large ship going to Emden,
and no ships were ordered to get underway.
to 4 hours’ notice for steam at 1130.
Tuesday, 21st May
arrived Rosyth from Humber.
carried out D.G. calibration.
on fitting temporary D.G. in MANCHESTER
was completed, in spite of some delay caused by
raising steam and preparing for sea the previous
was now reported that GLASGOW
could not complete dockyard work at Liverpool
until 1st July, owing to structural defects which
had been discovered and which, although they might
have been secondary effects of the bomb damage,
seemed to indicate a weakness in design. I
therefore asked the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet,
could be taken in hand on completion of NEWCASTLE.
Wednesday, 22nd May
completed, and MANCHESTER
carried out D.G. calibration. SOUTHAMPTON
was then sailed for Narvik
in accordance with instructions from the Commander
in Chief, Home Fleet. Rear Admiral, Second in
Command, 18th Cruiser Squadron, reported that SOUTHAMPTON’s asdic was unreliable owing to
defective dome which could not be remedied without
Thursday, 23rd May, Friday, 24th May, Saturday,
Nothing to report.
went alongside North Wall to progress work on
permanent D.G. and fitting manhole doors to lower
deck hatches, but remained at fleet notice for
Sunday, 26th May
2130 orders were received from the Commander in
Chief, Rosyth, for the cruisers to raise steam and
at 2217 Admiralty message 2131/26 May was received
to proceed to the Humber
and come under the orders of the Commander in Chief,
The Nore. I
decided not to sail until daylight as visibility was
poor (varying up to ½ mile) and the urgency did not
appear such as to warrant leaving until it improved.
Monday, 27th May
accordingly proceeded at
0415, and making a good 20 knots down the War
Channel, arrived off Immingham
at 1700 without incident. The three cruisers
anchored in the stream. In spite of the
advantages from the communications point of view in
going alongside, I decided to anchor all ships in
order to keep them at the minimum notice for getting
was fixed at 30 minutes notice between 2100 and 0500
and 2 ½ hours’ notice at other times, special
precautions being taken against M.T.B. attack.
The Humber anchorage, being without any boom defences,
were obviously particularly exposed to attack by M.T.B.’s
which, if attacking in large numbers, seemed to have
a very good change of putting the cruisers out of
Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron, was informed by
the Commander in Chief, The Nore,
that most probable function of the squadron would be
to act in case of (a) and attack by enemy destroyers
or larger ships on our shipping off Dunkirk
or (b) an attack by enemy forces on the East coast
He was instructed to proceed without further orders
should there by any indication of either of these
events, and to inform the Commander in Chief, The Nore,
and Admiralty of his intentions before sailing.
Tuesday, 28th May
at Rosyth, was placed under the orders of Vice
Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron by the
Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, if required for
operations in the Southern part of the North
Wednesday, 29th May
and FORTUNE were ordered to Humber
to come under the orders of Vice Admiral Commanding,
18th Cruiser Squadron. They did not arrive
until a.m. 30th May owing to an encounter with a
submarine outside and to fog.
Thursday, 30th May
p.m. to escort two liners (ORAMA and ORFORD) up the
East coast route as far as MayIsland.
and 1200 one or possibly two enemy reconnaissance
aircraft appeared over the Humber
and ships went to A.A. action stations. Six of
our fighters went up and the enemy withdrew after
circling round for sometime. Fire was not
Friday, 31st May
0100 there was a report of enemy aircraft off Spurn
Point, and ships went to action stations.
Fighter patrols went up and the enemy aircraft,
which were at 1000 and were probably minelaying,
of 18th Cruiser Squadron at 0001/1st June
MANCHESTER (Flag of V.A.)
At the Humber at 30 minutes notice
At the Humber at 30 minutes notice
At the Humber at 30 minutes notice
(Flag of R.A.)
Narvik area. Slightly damaged by near misses from bombs
Tyne – refit. Ready for sea 2nd June
Liverpool – repairs. Completes 1st July
– structural defects. Completes end