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  British and Other Navies in World War 2 Day-by-Day
by Don Kindell

NAVAL EVENTS, AUGUST 1939

Partly edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net 

HMS Acheron, destroyer (CyberHeritage, click to enlarge)

 on to Royal Navy Ships, September 1939

 

Note: all vessels and aircraft are British or Dominion unless otherwise identified - click for abbreviations

Corrections with thanks to Donald Bertke

(for more ship information, go to Naval History Homepage and type name in Site Search)

 

Background Events - September 1939-March 1940
Battle of Atlantic starts, 'Phoney War' on land, Battle of River Plate


 

 

1939

 

 

Thursday, 3 August

  

Indian Ocean - British “convoy” "HERON" departed Bombay and Karachi. On the 6 August, the two sections rendezvoused. The convoy was then composed of KARANJA (9891grt, Cdre), KHOSROU (4043grt), ROHNA (8602grt), QUILOA (7765grt, VCdre), TALAMBA (8018grt), VARELA (4651grt). On 10 August, the ships were met by light cruisers GLOUCESTER, MANCHESTER and sloops EGRET, FLEETWOOD, all of which had departed Aden the same day.

 

 

Saturday, 5 August

 

British Reserve Fleet - ships of the Reserve Fleet under the command of Vice Adm Sir Max K Horton, Vice Adm Reserve Fleet, on light cruiser EFFINGHAM, began to assemble at Weymouth Bay for review by King George VI.

 

Destroyer JANUS – completed. Following working up, JANUS (Lt Cdr J A W Tothill) joined the 7th Destroyer Flotilla operating with the Humber Force.

 

 

Sunday, 6 August 

 

Mediterranean - after a five day good will visit to Turkey, battleship WARSPITE with destroyers COSSACK, MAORI, NUBIAN, ZULU departed the Bosphorus. This force had departed Malta on 30 July for Istanbul and conferences with the Turkish military in regards to the coming hostilities with Germany and Italy. After departing the Bosphorus, they exercised off Rhodes before returning to Alexandria on the 15th.

 

 

Monday, 7 August

 

China - a landing party from destroyer TENEDOS was landed at Swatow, China, to protect British subjects during Chinese rioting. The action brought strong protests from the Japanese.

 

 

Wednesday, 9 August

 

Review of the British Reserve Fleet  - and other units, totalling 133 ships, took place in Weymouth Bay. King George VI arrived in the yacht VICTORIA and ALBERT on the 8th.

 

 

The ships participating in this Review were battleships RAMILLIES and REVENGE and training ship IRON DUKE, loaned from the Home Fleet, aircraft carrier COURAGEOUS, light cruisers CALEDON, CALYPSO, CAPETOWN, CARADOC, CARDIFF, CERES, COLOMBO, DANAE, DAUNTLESS, DESPATCH, DIOMEDE, DRAGON, DUNEDIN, EFFINGHAM, EMERALD, ENTERPRISE, minelaying cruiser ADVENTURE (above - NavyPhotos), destroyers ACASTA, ACHATES, ACHERON, AMAZON, ANTELOPE, ARDENT, ARROW, BASILISK, BOADICEA, BRAZEN, BRILLIANT, BROKE, ECLIPSE, ELECTRA, ENCOUNTER, ESCAPADE, ESK, EXMOUTH, EXPRESS, KEITH, KEMPENFELT, KEPPEL, MALCOLM, SCIMITAR, SKATE, STURDY, VANESSA, VANQUISHER, VANSITTART, VELOX, VENETIA, VENOMOUS, VERITY, VERSATILE, VESPER, VIDETTE, VIMY, VIVACIOUS, VOLUNTEER, VORTIGERN, WAKEFUL, WALKER, WALPOLE, WANDERER, WARWICK, WATCHMAN, WESSEX, WHIRLWIND, WHITEHALL, WHITLEY, WINCHELSEA, WITCH, WITHERINGTON, WIVERN, WOLVERINE, WREN, submarines H.31, H.32, H.33, H.44, H.49, L 27, OBERON, OSIRIS, OTWAY, SPEARFISH, STURGEON, SWORDFISH, UNITY, URSULA, sloop BITTERN, patrol sloops KINGFISHER, KITTIWAKE, MALLARD, minesweepers BRAMBLE, SALTBURN, SELKIRK, SPHINX, motor torpedo boats MTB.22, MTB.102, motor anti-submarine boats MA/SB.3, MA/SB.4, MA/SB.5, trawlers ALDER, BASSET, BEECH, BERBERIS, CORNELIAN, HORNBEAM, LARCH, MYRTLE, OAK, PEARL, RUBY, SAPPHIRE, TAMARISK, TOPAZE, TOURMALINE, drifters HORIZON, INDIAN SUMMER, MIST, SHEEN, SHOWER, submarine tenders ELFIN, TITANIA, seaplane tender PEGASUS, cable ship LASSO, tug ST FAGAN and boom defence vessel CORONET.

 

A and B class destroyers ACASTA, ACHATES, ACHERON, AMAZON, ANTELOPE, ANTHONY, ARDENT, ARROW, BASILISK, BEAGLE, BRAZEN were attached to the Reserve Fleet for the Review. All but ACHATES, which was attached to the 6th Submarine Flotilla and arrived at Portland on the 5th, arrived at Weymouth Bay on the 8th.

 

The principal function of this Review was to introduce King George VI to some sixty commanding officers on board light cruiser EFFINGHAM and to inspect the warships prior to re-commissioning.

 

King George VI went aboard CARDIFF and EFFINGHAM, inspected 1500 Reservists drawn by ballot on the flight deck of COURAGEOUS, inspected the workings of a submarine aboard OTWAY, and went aboard destroyer EXMOUTH and trawler MYRTLE.

 

The ships of the Reserve Fleet began to disperse to their war stations that night.

 

 

 Friday, 11 August

 

Mediterranean  - destroyers HARDY, HASTY, HEREWARD, HERO, HOSTILE arrived at Malta to return to the Mediterranean Fleet. They had been refitting since the end of May; HARDY at Devonport, HASTY at Devonport, HEREWARD at Portsmouth, HERO at Portsmouth and HOSTILE at Chatham. HOSTILE departed Chatham on the 3rd and the rest on the 4th. The five destroyers arrived at Gibraltar on the 7th and departed the next day for Malta.

 

Their return allowed destroyers HAVOCK, HOTSPUR, HUNTER, HYPERION to proceed to England for refitting. The destroyers departed Malta on the 5th arrived at Gibraltar on the 9th, and  departed on the 10th. HOSTPUR and HAVOCK arrived at Sheerness on the 13th and went on to Chatham arriving on the 14th. HYPERION proceeded to Portsmouth and HUNTER to Plymouth, both arriving on the 13th. Their refits were cut short and they were forced to return to Gibraltar at the end of the month.

 

 

Tuesday, 15 August

 

Home Fleet -  exercises began from Scapa Flow. Battleships NELSON, RODNEY, RESOLUTION, ROYAL OAK, ROYAL SOVEREIGN, battlecruisers HOOD, REPULSE, aircraft carrier ARK ROYAL with attendant destroyer BOREAS, light cruiser AURORA and destroyers FAME, FAULKNOR, FEARLESS, FIREDRAKE, FORESTER, FORESIGHT, FORTUNE, FOXHOUND, FURY, JACKAL, JERSEY, JERVIS and Tribals ASHANTI, BEDOUIN, ESKIMO, MASHONA, MATABELE, PUNJABI, SOMALI, TARTAR departed Scapa Flow.

 

The Tribals arrived back at Scapa Flow on the 18th for refuelling and left again that day.

 

RESOLUTION and ROYAL OAK arrived back on the 20th. The Tribal destroyers returned on the 21st.

 

The F and J-class destroyers arrived at Invergordon on the 21st.

 

ROYAL SOVEREIGN returned to Scapa on the 22nd,

 

NELSON, RODNEY, HOOD, REPULSE, ARK ROYAL, heavy cruiser CUMBERLAND, light cruisers BELFASTEDINBURGH, GLASGOW, SHEFFIELD, SOUTHAMPTON arrived back on the 24th.

 

AURORA with FAULKNOR, FEARLESS, FORESTER, FOXHOUND, FURY returned on the 25th, and  FAME, FIREDRAKE, FORTUNE on the 27th.

 

 

Wednesday, 16 August

 

 Light cruiser PENELOPE -  recommissioned after refitting.  She departed Portsmouth on the 28th and arrived at Gibraltar on the 31st, Malta on 2 September and Alexandria on the 5th.

 

                                                                             

Saturday, 19 August

 

U-boat movements – U.12, U.14, U.16, U.18, U.20, U.22, U.24 (Type IIB),  3rd Submarine Flotilla suspended training operations in preparation for war patrols.

 

U.28, U.29, U.33, U.34 (Type VIIA), 2nd Submarine Flotilla departed Wilhelmshaven for stations west of the British Isles.

 

U.37, U.38,  U.39, U.40, U.41 (Type IXA),  6th Submarine Flotilla departed Wilhelmshaven, U.37 and U.38 for stations west of the Iberian Peninsula and U.39, U.40, U.41 west of Gibraltar.

 

U.45, U.46, U.47, U.48, U.52 (all Type VIIB), 7th Submarine Flotilla departed Kiel for patrol stations in the Atlantic:  U.45 and U.46 to the WSW of Ireland, U.47, U.48, and U.52 west of the Bay of Biscay.

 

 

Monday, 21 August

 

German pocket battleship movements -  ADMIRAL GRAF SPEE sortied from Wilhelmshaven to raid in the South Atlantic. To support her operations, three German ships were designated as supply ships: fleet tanker ALTMARK (10,850grt) departed Port Arthur, Texas on the 19th after loading 9400 tons of diesel oil, DRESDEN (5522grt) left Coquimbo, Chile on 19 October, and EMMY FRIEDRICH (4372grt) departed Tampico, Mexico on 20 October.

 

 

Tuesday, 22 August

 

British destroyers, Home waters and Gibralar - Tribal-class  SOMALI,  ASHANTI, BEDOUIN, ESKIMO, MASHONA, MATABELE, PUNJABI, TARTAR departed Scapa Flow on exercises.  They called at Stornoway and departed on the 24th.

 

Capt C Caslon assumed command of the 18th Destroyer Flotilla in destroyer KEMPENFELT.

 

KEPPEL (Capt F S W  de Winton), VELOX, VIDETTE, VORTIGERN, WATCHMAN departed Portland for Gibraltar where they arrived on the 25th.  They joined destroyers ACTIVE, DOUGLAS, WISHART,  WRESTLER as the 13th Destroyer Flotilla operating from Gibraltar.

 

U-boat movement - U.30 (Type VIIA),  2nd Submarine Flotilla departed Wilhelmshaven for station west of the British Isles and English Channel.

 

 

Wednesday, 23 August

 

Destroyer KELLY – commanded by Capt Lord Louis Mountbatten D.5, completed and following working up, joined the 5th Destroyer Flotilla on 21 October to operate with Home Fleet.

 

U-boat movements  - U.12, U.16, U.20, U.24, U.56, U.58, U.5 (all Type II), employed on reconnaissance duty in the Baltic, were sent to the North Sea after the Non-Aggression Pact was signed by Germany and Russia on the 23rd.

 

U.22 (Type IIB) departed Memel to operate off the Polish coast.

 

U.27 (Type VIIA), 2nd Submarine Flotilla departed Wilhelmshaven to operate off the west coast of the British Isles.

 

U.57 (Type IIC) departed Kiel to operate off Memel.

 

 

Thursday, 24 August

 

British Home waters - destroyers JERVIS, JACKAL, JUPITER, ECHO of the 7th Destroyer Flotilla departed Immingham for Dover.

 

Destroyer JUNO – commanded by  Cdr W E Wilson completed.  Following working up, she joined the 7th Destroyer Flotilla operating with the Humber Force.

 

German pocket battleship movements -  DEUTSCHLAND sortied from Wilhelmshaven to raid in the North Atlantic. Fleet tanker WESTERWALD (10,845grt) had put to sea on the 22nd and was to rendezvous with DEUTSCHLAND south of Greenland.

 

U-boat movements - U.5, U.6, U.7 (Type IIA) departed for patrol in the Kattegat. They remained on patrol until 8 September.

 

 

Friday, 25 August

 

RN appointments - Rear Adm L E Holland vacated the post of Commanding Officer, 2nd Battle Squadron, Home Fleet and was named Commanding Officer of the 3rd Battle Squadron, Channel Force. Rear Adm H E C Blagrove was appointed to the command of 2nd Battle Squadron on this date.

 

British Home waters - aircraft carrier FURIOUS departed Portland escorted by destroyers BROKE, WANDERER, WHITEHALL,  WITCH, and arrived at Rosyth on the 28th.

 

Light cruisers EFFINGHAM and EMERALD arrived at Scapa Flow from the Reserve Fleet.

 

Destroyers, JERVIS, JACKAL, JUPITER, ECHO arrived at Dover for exercises.

 

U-boat movements - U.9 and U.19 departed Wilhelmshaven for operations off the east coast of Scotland east of 00-00E arriving on station by the 29th.

 

U.13 departed Wilhelmshaven for minelaying operations in the North Sea off Orfordness.

 

U.24 (all Type IIB) arrived at Wilhelmshaven for operations in the North Sea. She departed the same day, but returned to base on the 31st for minelaying operations.

 

U.56 and U.58 (Type IIC) departed Wilhelmshaven for patrol in the Kattegat and off Denmark south of Norway, arriving on stations by the 29th.

 

British cruisers, Atlantic and Mediterranean - heavy cruiser EXETER departed Devonport for the South America Station via Freetown and Rio de Janiero.

 

Light cruisers DANAE, DAUNTLESS, DESPATCH (Capt Poland, Cdre 2/c, 9th Cruiser Squadron) and anti-aircraft ship COVENTRY departed Portsmouth at 1120 for Gibraltar. DANAE and COVENTRY arrived on the 28th. DANAE continued on to Freetown. COVENTRY headed for Malta, arriving on the 31st following several days of drills, departed the same day and reached Alexandria on 3 September.  DAUNTLESS and DESPATCH reached Gibraltar on the 29th, and on the 2 September, in company with light cruiser DURBAN proceeded to Freetown.

 

Light cruiser COLOMBO (Cdre, 11th Cruiser Squadron) departed Plymouth and arrived at Gibraltar on the 29th.

 

 

Saturday, 26 August

 

British cruisers and destroyers, Home waters and Atlantic - light cruisers DIOMEDE, CALEDON, CALYPSO, CARDIFF, DRAGON, arrived at Scapa Flow from the Reserve Fleet. Light cruiser DUNEDIN, also from the Reserve Fleet, arrived on the 27th.

 

Destroyer KEMPENFELT and the 18th Destroyer Flotilla, less ACHERON and ANTELOPE, arrived at Portland for duty with the Channel Force.

 

Heavy cruiser CUMBERLAND departed Scapa Flow for Plymouth in preparation for proceeding to the South Atlantic, arriving at Plymouth on the 28th.

 

Destroyers HAVOCK and HOTSPUR departed Sheerness after an abbreviated refitting. They joined HUNTER and HYPERION at sea, after they had departed Plymouth and Portsmouth respectively on the 27th. Returning to the Mediterranean Fleet, the four destroyers arrived at Gibraltar on the 29th, but were then diverted to the Freetown command.

 

German warship movements, Baltic - light cruiser NÜRNBERG and destroyers GEORG THIELE, MAX SCHULTZ, RICHARD BEITZEN, were on patrol at the western end of the Baltic. Early on the 27th, torpedo boat TIGER was lost in an accidental collision with the MAX SCHULTZ northeast of Bornholm Island off Christianso in the Baltic. Two crewmen on the torpedo boat were killed and six seriously injured. SCHULTZ was taken in tow by THIELE which was later relieved by tugs JOMSBERG and TAIFUN. Tugs STORM and NORDER also joined and SCHULTZ arrived at Stettin where she was under repair until the end of September.

 

U-boat movements - the U-Boat Training Flotilla (U.1-U.8, U.10, U.11, U.25, U.36) suspended training duties in preparation for war operations.

 

South Atlantic - heavy cruiser EXETER joined light cruisers COLOMBO and DAUNTLESS, escorting British liner DUNERA (11,162grt). Off Cape St Vincent on the 28th, EXETER was detached to proceed to Rio de Janiero, via Cape Verde Islands.

 

 

Sunday, 27 August

 

English Channel - light cruisers CARADOC, CERES and destroyer ANTELOPE arrived at Portland for duty with the Channel Force.

 

Western Approaches - battleships RESOLUTION and REVENGE with destroyers KEMPENFELT, ACASTA, ACHATES, ARDENT, ARROW  departed Portland at 0815 to carry out a reconnaissance in the Western Approaches. By 2005 they had reached longitude 6°W and turned back. Before entering harbour, RESOLUTION carried out 15in and 6in throw off practice. They arrived back at Portland at 1130 on the 28th.

 

 

Monday, 28 August

 

British cruiser movements - light cruisers CAPETOWN sailed from Plymouth and DURBAN from Portsmouth for Gibraltar where they arrived on 1 September.

 

German merchant shipping - liner NEW YORK (22,337grt) departed New York for Murmansk where she arrived safely on 7 September.

 

 

Tuesday, 29 August

 

Dover Straits - destroyer JERSEY encountered German steamer BREMERHAVEN (5355grt), which had departed El Ferrol on the 27th, near the South Goodwins Lightship. Nothing came of the encounter and BREMERHAVEN arrived in the Weser the next day.

 

U-boat movements - U.26 (Type IA) departed Wilhelmshaven and U.53 (Type VIIB) departed Kiel for minelaying missions off Portland. Flotilla Commander KKpt Ernst Sobe was aboard U.53 in tactical command.

 

Pacific - New Zealand light cruiser ACHILLES departed Auckland for the West Indies and her war station at Balboa.

 

German steamer TACOMA (8268grt) departed Libertad, San Salvador, flying the Swedish flag. She arrived at Talcuhuana, the commercial seaport of Concepcion, Chile on 10 September.

 

 

Wednesday, 30 August

 

Western Atlantic - German liner BREMEN (51,656grt) departed New York Harbour and evaded heavy cruiser BERWICK and Australian light cruiser PERTH which were patrolling off the US east coast outside territorial limits.

 

BERWICK had departed Newport, Rhode Island on the 29th and was calling at Bar Harbour, Maine, but failed to make contact with BREMEN. This was in spite of efforts to delay the German ship in harbour until she could be in a position to intercept.

 

British Home waters - battlecruisers HOOD and REPULSE departed Rosyth, via Invergordon for Scapa Flow where they arrived later that day.

 

Destroyers JERVIS, JAVELIN, JUPITER, ECHO  departed Dover for Grimsby, where they arrived on the 31st.

 

Polish destroyers sail for Britain - BLYSKAWICA, BURZA, GROM departed Gdynia in Operation "Pekin."  It had been decided to get them away from Poland rather than have them destroyed without any opportunity to do damage in return. They were ordered that should German ships be encountered while en route, BURZA, the oldest of the three, would fight a delaying action and allow the other two to escape. Shortly after leaving port, they were sighted by U.31 north of Hela.

 

Still on the 30th, the destroyers first encountered destroyers BRUNO HEINEMANN, ERICH STEINBRINCK, FRIEDRICH ECKHOLDT, FRIEDRICH IHN on patrol between Bornholm and the Bay of Danzig and then, on the 31st, light cruiser KÖNIGSBERG near Falsterbo Light Vessel. Although the Polish and German ships trained their guns on each other, neither opened fire. The last sighting was by U.6 on Kattegat patrol later on the morning of the 31st, but contact was soon lost. Otherwise, the passage was uneventful!

 

The Polish ships were joined by destroyers WALLACE and WANDERER 30 miles off May Island, and they all arrived safely at Leith in the Firth of Forth at 1730 on 1 September. From there, the Polish destroyers departed Rosyth on 6 September and arrived at Plymouth on the 9th.

 

German Home waters - Following her contact with the Polish destroyers, KÖNIGSBERG proceeded to Wilhelmshaven via the Kiel Canal for operations in the North Sea.              

U-boat movements – U.1, U.3, U.4 (Type IIA )and U.36 (Type VIIA) of the U-Boat Training Flotilla departed Kiel and arrived at Wilhelmshaven the next day for operations in the North Sea.

 

U.6 (Type IIA) departed Kiel for operations in the Baltic.

 

U.14 (Type IIB) departed Memel for operations off the Polish coast.

 

Atlantic - light cruiser DURBAN departed Plymouth for Gibraltar.

 

Destroyers HYPERION, HAVOCK, HOTSPUR, HUNTER departed Gibraltar for duty at Freetown, arriving on 3 September.

 

Pacific - light cruiser LEANDER departed Auckland to land troops at Fanning Island, the site of the Trans-Pacific submarine telegraph cable station.  The troops were landed on 13 September and LEANDER returned to Auckland.

 

 

Thursday, 31 August

 

Home Fleet - departed Scapa Flow at 1800 with battleships NELSON, RODNEY, ROYAL OAK, ROYAL SOVEREIGN, aircraft carrier ARK ROYAL, light cruisers CALYPSO, CALEDON, DIOMEDE, DRAGON of the 7th Cruiser Squadron, EFFINGHAM, CARDIFF, DUNEDIN, EMERALD of the 12th Cruiser Squadron, AURORA, BELFAST, SHEFFIELD of the 18th Cruiser Squadron,  and destroyers FAULKNOR, FAME, FEARLESS, FIREDRAKE, FORESTER, FORTUNE, FOXHOUND, FURY of the 8th Destroyer Flotilla. The Fleet deployed in the North Sea between the Orkneys and Norway.

 

Battlecruisers HOOD, REPULSE and Tribal-class destroyers SOMALI, ASHANTI, BEDOUIN, ESKIMO, MASHONA, MATABELE, PUNJABI, TARTAR of the 6th Destroyer Flotilla departed Scapa Flow for patrol off the Skagerrak. BEDOUIN had mechanical defects and returned to Scapa Flow for repairs. Home Fleet returned to Scapa Flow on 6 September.

 

British Home waters - light cruiser EDINBURGH departed Glasgow after docking and arrived at Scapa Flow on 1 September.

 

U-boat movements – Three Type IIB boats sailed from Wilhelmshaven - U.15 for minelaying operations in the North Sea off Flamborough, U.17 for minelaying in Dover Strait off the Downs, and U.20 to patrol between Utsire and Kristiansand.

 

U.59 (Type IIC) departed Heligoland to operate in the Dogger Bank area.

 

Mediterranean - French convoy R.3 departed Marseilles with CYRNOS, EL D'JEZAIR, GENERAL BONAPARTE, ÎLE DE BEAUTÉ,  PASCAL PAOLI, SAMPIERO CORSO, VILLE D'AJACCIO for Oran.

 

The 2nd Squadron of battleships PROVENCE, BRETAGNE, LORRAINE with destroyers LE PALME, LE MARS, TEMPÊTE of the 1st Destroyer Division, LA RAILLEUSE, LE FORTUNE, SIMOUN of the 3rd Destroyer Division, and TORNADE, TRAMONTANE, TYPHON of the 7th Destroyer Division departed Toulon to escort the convoy.

 

The 3rd Squadron of heavy cruisers ALGÉRIE, COLBERT, DUQUESNE, FOCH with large destroyers CHEVALIER PAUL, TARTU, VAUQUELIN of the 5th Large Destroyer Division and GERFAUT, VAUTOUR of the 7th Large Destroyer Division departed Toulon to cover the convoy from surface interference.

 

The 2nd Squadron arrived at Oran with the convoy on 2 September and then carried on for Gibraltar, arriving on the 3rd. The 3rd Squadron arrived back at Toulon on the 2nd.

 

Red Sea - destroyers AFRIDI, GURKHA, MOHAWK, SIKH departed Port Said and arrived at Suez for operations in the Red Sea.

 

South Atlantic - heavy cruiser CUMBERLAND departed Plymouth en route to the South America Station.  

 

 on to Royal Navy Ships, September 1939
or back to RN Day-by-Day Homepage

revised 7/4/12
further editing is required


 

Volume 1 of an expanded version of "British and Other Navies in World War 2 Day-by-Day"

is available as a printed book or PDF download

 
 
  WORLD WAR II SEA WAR:
Volume 1, The Nazis Strike First

by Donald A Bertke, Don Kindell, Gordon Smith.

Detailed record of world-wide naval actions and activities from August 1939 through March 1940. Based on the original researches of Don Kindell.

Click for Book or lower cost PDF download

 
 

 

 

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