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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2003

HMS RAMILLIES  - Royal Sovereign-class 15in gun Battleship including Convoy Escort Movements

Editing & Additional Material by Mike Simmonds

HMS Ramillies (Maritime Quest, click to enlarge)

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ROYAL SOVEREIGN-Class battleship ordered under the 1913 Build Programme from William Beardmore at Dalmuir, Glasgow and laid down on 12th November 1913. She was launched on 12th September 1916 and was the 5th RN ship to carry this name. It had been introduced in 1706 to commemorate the victory of the Duke of Marlborough and given to a 2nd Rate, which was wrecked in 1760. The previous RAMILLIES was a battleship sold in 1913. Build was completed in October 1917 and the ship continued in full commission during the post WW1 years. This ship is not recorded as having been adopted by a civil community as a result of a WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign during 1941-42.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

        Badge: On a Field Black, a Lion couchant silver with a banner red thereon

a hand Gold all on a wreath red and gold.


M o t t o

Fiel Pero Deodichado: ‘Faithful though disinherited’



D e t a i l s   o f   W a r    S e r v i c e


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



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1st - Departed Scapa Flow for escort duties from Devonport


3rd - Arrived at Plymouth. Refuelled and sailed for Portland.


5th - Sailed from Portland in company with destroyers EXMOUTH and ESCAPADE to join the escort of convoy GC1. (Convoy GC.1 consisted of 11 passenger liners that sailed from the Clyde on 5/9/39)


6th - Destroyers ECLIPSE and ENCOUNTER joined from Plymouth.

At 1845 hours NW of the Scilly Isles, RAMILLIES, ECLIPSE, ENCOUNTER, ESCAPADE and EXMOUTH joined destroyers VERITY, VOLUNTEER, WITHERINGTON and WOLVERINE escorting convoy GC1, following which the local escort of destroyers VIVACIOUS, VANESSA, VANQUISHER and WAKEFUL detached and returned to the Clyde.


8th - Destroyers VERITY, VOLUNTEER, WITHERINGTON and WOLVERINE detached and returned to Plymouth.


10th - At 1100 hours 350 miles west of Gibraltar the French destroyers FS FORTUNE, RAILLEUSE and SIMOUN joined from Gibraltar.


11th - At 1300 hours GC1, less the liner SS SCYTHIA, arrived at Gibraltar followed later by RAMILLIES and FORTUNE. RAMILLIES Joined the Mediterranean Fleet.




3rd - Sailed from Gibraltar in company with cruiser CAPETOWN, and destroyers KEPPEL and WATCHMAN to join the liner SS ATHLONE CASTLE and escort her to Freetown. After leaving harbour, RAMILLIES suffered condenser problems and returned to Gibraltar with the destroyers.


5th - Ordered to join the North Atlantic Escort Force.

At 1215 hours sailed from Gibraltar for the UK escorted by destroyers WISHART and VORTIGERN.


6th - At 2233 hours she was recalled to Gibraltar to replace battleship MALAYA, which

was due to leave the Mediterranean.


8th - Arrived back at Gibraltar with WISHART and VORTIGERN.


15th - Sailed from Gibraltar to join the 1st Battle Squadron at Alexandria escorted by destroyers GRAFTON and GALLANT. (The destroyers had arrived from Alexandria on 14/10/39)


17th - Destroyer DUNCAN detached from convoy Blue 4 and joined RAMILLIES, following which GRAFTON and GALLANT detached for Malta.


18th - Destroyers DAINTY and DEFENDER joined for Malta and DUNCAN detached.


20th - Arrived at Alexandria.


25th - Sailed from Alexandria escorted by destroyers DAINTY, DIANA and DEFENDER for a 15-inch gun shoot, with the Queen Bee target operated from cruiser PENELOPE.


27th - Sailed from Alexandria escorted by destroyers DIANA and DEFENDER for a 15-inch gun shoot, with the Queen Bee target again operated from cruiser PENELOPE.




Transferred to Indian Ocean for trade defence.


11th - Sailed from Port Said escorted by destroyer DELIGHT to relieve battleship MALAYA and destroyer DARING off Aden.


16th - Arrived at Aden and after refuelling, joined battleship MALAYA and destroyer DELIGHT at sea of Socotra.

Carried out search for German ADMIRAL GRAF SPEE


18th - At Aden with MALAYA, aircraft carrier GLORIOUS, BULLDOG, DARING and DELIGHT, where they were designated Force J. (Note: On 15/11/39 the ADMIRAL GRAF SPEE had sunk the British merchant SS AFRICA SHELL off Lorenco Marques and on 16/11/39 west of Durban stopped the Dutch merchant MV MAPIA. When the CinC East Indies received this news he immediately formed hunting groups to search for the raider in the Indian Ocean, Force J being one. However following the interception of the MAPIA, GRAF SPEE moved back into the Atlantic). Force J continued anti raider patrols in the Gulf of Aden.




Indian Ocean trade defence duty in continuation.


Passage to New Zealand for escort of military troop convoy. This followed a visit to London by the New Zealand Prime Minster, the Hon. P. Frazer, who insisted that RAMILLIES must be made available to escort the New Zealand First Echelon of troops from Wellington. (The Admiralty had intended that HMNZS LEANDER would be the only escort for the troop convoy from Wellington to Sydney)


20th - Arrived at Fremantle.


25th - Arrived at Melbourne.


31st - Arrived at Wellington.



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5th - At Wellington, New Zealand on the eve of the departure of the first echelon of New Zealand troops to the Middle East. RAMILLIES flew a banner ‘Well done the ACHILLES’. (This was in recognition of ACHILLES part in the destruction of GRAF SPEE)


6th - At 0600 hours sailed from Wellington in company with cruiser HMAS CANBERRA as escort for military troop convoy US1, comprising the troopships ORION, STRATHAIRD, EMPRESS of CANADA and RANGITATA, carrying 4000 North Island troops.

At 1000 hours in the Cook Strait, cruiser HMNZS LEANDER joined US1 with two further troop transports, DUNERA and SOBIESKI with 2500 South Island troops.


10th - Off Sydney Heads, cruiser HMAS AUSTRALIA joined convoy US.1 with troop transports EMPRESS of JAPAN, ORCADES, OTRANTO, ORFORD and STRATHNAVER with 7000 AIF troops embarked. LEANDER detached for Sydney.


20th - Arrived at Fremantle with convoy US1, AUSTRALIA and CANBERRA detached. After refueling, convoy US1 sailed escorted by RAMILLIES, cruiser KENT and French cruiser FS SUFFREN.


30th - Arrived at Colombo with convoy US1. KENT detached.




1st - Sailed from Colombo in company with aircraft carrier EAGLE and cruiser SUSSEX escorting convoy US.1. At Colombo the convoy had been joined by the French mercantiles ATHOS 2 and MESSAGERIES MARITIME.


2nd - At 1000 hours cruiser HMAS HOBART joined convoy US1.


6th - At 1900 hours arrived at Aden with convoy US1. (At Aden convoy US.1 split into two. The first section sailed on 7/1/40 escorted by HOBART and SUSSEX. The second section sailed on 8/1/40 escorted by SUSSEX and destroyer WESTCOTT) (Note: RAMILLIES reported that the very large distances steamed, sometimes at high speed, were straining her boilers, machinery and engine-room personnel. Further to this report and discussions with the New Zealand Government, who wanted RAMILLIES, or another battleship to escort the second echelon of NZ troops; the Admiralty compromised by deciding to send RAMILLIES for a short refit at Sydney; following which she would escort the troop convoy from Sydney.)


15th - Sailed from Aden for Colombo.


21st - Arrived at Colombo.


23rd - HOBART arrived at Colombo with 8 midshipmen for RAMILLIES, embarked at Aden on 17/2/40; one of the midshipmen was the future HRH Duke of Edinburgh.


28th - At 0830 hours sailed from Colombo.




14th - Arrived at Sydney to commence short refit at Garden Island Naval Yard.




8th - Arrived at Melbourne.


15th - Off Melbourne in company with cruiser HMAS SYDNEY, took over the escort of troop convoy US2, comprising the troop ships DUNERA, ETTRICK, NEURALIA and STRATHAIRD with 5700 troops embarked, from cruiser HMAS ADELAIDE, which then detached to Melbourne.


21st - Arrived at Fremantle with convoy US2. After refueling, sailed with convoy US2, the troopship NEVASA with 1200 troops embarked, joined the convoy. (Aircraft carrier EAGLE was to have been deployed as part of the escort from Fremantle but suffered an on board accident on 12/3/40 and had to be docked at Singapore)


28th - SYDNEY detached to return to Fremantle.




3rd - Arrived at Colombo with convoy US2.


5th - Sailed from Colombo in company with cruiser KENT and French cruiser FS SUFFREN.


11th - Destroyers DECOY and DEFENDER joined convoy US2; they had departed Aden at 1700/10/5/40.


12th - Arrived at Aden with convoy US2.


13th - Sailed from Aden in company with KENT, SUFFREN, DECOY and DEFENDER escorting convoy US2.


15th - In Red Sea joined by cruiser LIVERPOOL and sloop SHOREHAM.


17th - Arrived at Suez with convoy US2.


23rd - Arrived at Alexandria. On arrival at Alexandria taken in hand for refit in floating dock.




11th - Refit suspended after Italy entered the war.


28th - Sailed from Alexandria as Force B in company with battleship ROYAL SOVEREIGN aircraft carrier EAGLE and destroyers HAVOCK, HASTY, HERO, HEREWARD, HYPERION, JUNO, JANUS of the 2nd DF, to cover the passage of convoy AS1. (The force was also to provide cover for Operation MA 3, the passage of convoys MF1 and MS1 from Malta)




2nd - Returned to Alexandria with Fleet units. (Note: The passage of MF1 and MS1 was postponed on 28th June because of the prodigious expenditure of 6in ammunition by Vice Admiral Tovey’s 7th CS when sinking the Italian destroyer ESPERO)


4th - At Alexandria when French warships crisis was resolved (Operation CATAPULT). (See RELUCTANT ENEMIES by W Tute).


13th - Sailed from Alexandria escorted by destroyers DIAMOND, HAVOCK, IMPERIAL and HMAS VENDETTA. Later in the day they RVed with convoy MS1 (which had sailed from Malta early on 10/7/40) escorted by cruisers CALEDON and CAPETOWN, and destroyers DECOY and HMAS VAMPIRE and VOYAGER.


15th - At 0900 hours arrived at Alexandria with convoy MS1.


23rd - At 0400 hours sailed from Alexandria escorted by destroyers HYPERION, ILEX, HEREWARD, and IMPERIAL to cover the passage of convoys AN2 and AS2. (Convoy AS2 recalled)


24th - Arrived back at Alexandria.


27th - At 0300 hours sailed from Alexandria in company with battleships WARSPITE and MALAYA, aircraft carrier EAGLE escorted by destroyers DECOY, HEREWARD, HERO, HYPERION, ILEX, IMPERIAL, JERVIS, JUNO, NUBIAN and MOHAWK to cover the passage of convoy AS2/1. South of Crete the fleet was joined by cruisers NEPTUNE and HMAS SYDNEY.


28th - The fleet divided. South of the Kithera Strait convoy AS2/1 escorted by cruisers CAPETOWN and LIVERPOOL and destroyers DAINTY, DEFENDER, DIAMOND and HMAS STUART were met by the covering Force of MALAYA, RAMILLIES, EAGLE, HEREWARD, HERO, JERVIS, JUNO, MOHAWK and NUBIAN


30th - Arrived back at Alexandria. (Convoy then proceeded to Port Said escorted by cruiser CAPETOWN and destroyers DAINTY and DIAMOND)


31st - At 1420 hours sailed from Alexandria in company with battleship MALAYA, aircraft carrier EAGLE escorted by destroyers HASTY, HEREWARD, HERO, HOSTILE, ILEX, IMPERIAL, JERVIS and HMAS VENDETTA to carry out gunnery practice. Following this, they were designated Force B for (Operation HURRY) and were to sail west towards Gavdo Island. However when MALAYA developed problems with salt water in her condensers the whole of Force B returned to Alexandria.




16th – At 1030 hours sailed from Alexandria in company with battleships WARSPITE and MALAYA, cruiser KENT, escorted by destroyers DIAMOND, HEREWARD, HOSTILE, MOHAWK, NUBIAN and HMAS STUART, VENDETTA and WATERHEN and proceeded westwards on Operation MB2. After sailing the fleet was organised into two forces. Force B comprised MALAYA, RAMILLIES, HEREWARD, HERO, JUNO, STUART, VENDETTA and WATERHEN.


17th - Between 0658 and 0720 hours the fleet bombarded Bardia and Fort Capuzzo (Operation MB2). (Note: 62 rounds of 15in and 104 rounds of 6in were fired.)


18th - Under ineffective air attacks by Savoia-Marchetti S.M.79’s, 12 of which the fleet shot down, during return passage to Alexandria.




Mediterranean Fleet deployment in continuation.




8th - Sailed from Alexandria in company with aircraft carriers ILLUSTRIOUS and EAGLE, battleships MALAYA, VALIANT and WARSPITE, cruisers AJAX, GLOUCESTER, ORION, YORK and HMAS SYDNEY screened by destroyers HASTY, HAVOCK, HEREWARD, HERO, HYPERION, ILEX, IMPERIAL, JANUS, JERVIS, JUNO and NUBIAN to provide Distant Cover for passage of Malta convoy MF3 from Egypt, convoy ME 4 from Malta, convoy AS 4 from Greece, and an air attack on Leros (Operation MB6).


9th - At 0254 hours the fleet was joined at sea by cruiser LIVERPOOL and destroyer DIAMOND.


10th - At 1715 hours RAMILLIES, HASTY, HEREWARD, HERO, HYPERION, ILEX and NUBIAN detached from the Fleet to refuel at Malta. At intervals through the day and during the 11th the various units of the Fleet detached to refuel in Malta.


11th - At 1105 hours IMPERIAL was mined and badly damaged, she was towed into Malta by DECOY.

At 1600 hours convoy MF3 arrived at Malta in company with ORION, STUART and VENDETTA. At this time the main body of the Mediterranean Fleet was 100 miles south east of Malta, where it was sighted and reported by an Italian civil airliner.

At 2245 hours convoy ME4, which included River Gunboat APHIS, sailed from Malta escorted by cruisers CALCUTTA and COVENTRY and destroyers WRYNECK and HMAS WATERHEN. Late in the evening following the return of all the refuelled units, the Fleet turned for Alexandria. (To the north east of Malta positioned in anticipation that a convoy would be sailing from Malta were 4 Italian destroyers, 3 torpedo boats and 4 MAS boats)


12th - During return passage to Alexandria, at 0200 hours, 125 miles west of Malta, and about 70 miles north of the convoy, the 3 Italian torpedo boats launched torpedo attacks on the northernmost unit of the Fleet, which was AJAX, all of which missed. However AJAX, after initial confusion, opened fire on the attackers at 4000 yards sinking ARIEL and ARIONE. In return AJAX received 3 hits from AIRONE. (AJAX was equipped with type 279 radar which was a long range air search set and of little use in a surface engagement). Immediately the 4 Italian destroyers came to the aid of the torpedo boats and at 0230 hours ARTIGLIERE launched a torpedo attack which AJAX avoided. AJAX managed to damage the AVIERE and severely damage the ARTIGLIERE. In return ARTIGLIERE hit AJAX 4 times, putting her radar out of action and damaging a twin 4in mount. At the time of the second engagement the moon had set and the lack of flashless powder caused problems for AJAX’s gunners.

At 0235 hours when the Italian destroyers withdrew behind a smoke screen AJAX broke off the action since Capt. McCarthy believed that he had been in action against 4 destroyers and 2 cruisers. (This action is known by the Italians as the Battle of Cape Passero) The gunfire drew other cruisers of the Mediterranean Fleet to the scene, but they arrived too late to see action.


13th - At dawn the damaged ARTIGLIERE under tow by the destroyer CAMICIA NERE, was sighted 107 miles west of Malta by a Sunderland. The Sunderland’s sighting report resulted in an air strike by Swordfish from ILLUSTRIOUS, without result. Also YORK, AJAX and 4 destroyers were despatched from the fleet and arrived at the position at 0900 hours. CAMICIA NERE slipped the tow a made off and YORK finished off the ARTIGLIERE.

At 1100 hours south east of Gavdos Island, convoy ME 4 was joined by convoy AS4 that had sailed from Piraeus. In the evening the Fleet divided and ILLUSTRIOUS, GLOUCESTER, LIVERPOOL, HAVOCK, HEREWARD, HERO and NUBIAN headed into the Aegean.


14th - Early in the morning Swordfish from ILLUSTRIOUS carried out an air strike on the airfield on the Island of Leros.

At 0840 hours the ILLUSTRIOUS Force rejoined the main body of the Fleet and the combined Fleet then set course for Alexandria. In the evening the Fleet came under air attack, and at 1845 hours 70 miles SE of Crete, LIVERPOOL sustained an aerial torpedo hit in the starboard bow, delivered by an Italian torpedo aircraft.

At 1920 hours the petrol storage compartment exploded, blowing the roof off A turret roof, the port gun fell into the sea and a fire was started. DECOY and HEREWARD stood by.

At 2230 hours ORION took her in tow, towing her backwards at 9.5 knots towards Alexandria escorted by DAINTY, DECOY, DIAMOND and VAMPIRE.


15th - At 0100 hours the Mediterranean Fleet arrived back at Alexandria.


25th - Sailed from Alexandria in company with aircraft carrier EAGLE, cruiser COVENTRY, escorted by destroyers JANUS, MOHAWK, WRYNECK and HMAS VAMPIRE and VOYAGER on Operation MAQ 2. Operation MAQ 2 was an operation to cover Port Said-to-Piraeus convoy AN5 and carry out an air attack on Rhodes in the Dodecanese)


26th - The Fleet sailed to the southern end of the Kasos Strait.


27th - Swordfish from EAGLE carried out an air strike on the airfield at Maritza on the Island of Rhodes.


28th - Arrived back at Alexandria.


29th - At 0130 hours sailed from Alexandria in company with battleships WARSPITE, VALIANT and MALAYA, aircraft carriers ILLUSTRIOUS and EAGLE escorted by destroyers DAINTY, DECOY, DEFENDER, DIAMOND, HASTY, HAVOCK, HEREWARD, HERO, HYPERION, ILEX, JANUS, JERVIS, JUNO, MOHAWK and NUBIAN. The Fleet sailed towards the west of Crete on Operation CHURCH. (Following Italy’s attack on Greece on 28/10/40 the Greek Government invited Britain to set up a base at Suda Bay on the north coast of Crete. Operation CHURCH was the operation covering the military convoys carrying personnel and stores to Suda Bay). Late in the evening, south of Crete, cruisers YORK, GLOUCESTER, ORION and HMAS SYDNEY joined the Fleet.


30th - The Fleet continued to sail northwest and at 2000 hours the Fleet was 126 miles west of Cape Matapan.


31st - At 1630 hours 75 miles west south west of Cape Matapan, WARSPITE, ILLUSTRIOUS, YORK, GLOUCESTER, HASTY, HEREWARD, HERO, ILEX and JERVIS detached from the Fleet and proceeded towards Alexandria. The rest of the Fleet remained cruising to the west of Crete.




2nd - Arrived back at Alexandria.


6th - Sailed from Alexandria in company with battleships WARSPITE ,VALIANT and MALAYA, aircraft carrier ILLUSTRIOUS, cruisers YORK and GLOUCESTER, destroyers DECOY, DEFENDER, HASTY, HAVOCK, HEREWARD, HERO, HYPERION, ILEX, JANUS, JERVIS, JUNO and MOHAWK on Operation MB 8 and Operation COAT. Later the Fleet was joined by cruisers AJAX and HMAS SYDNEY from Suda Bay. (Operation MB 8 was to provide cover for the passage of Convoy MW3 [sailed from Alexandria on 5/11/40] to Malta and Convoy AN6 [sailed from Port Said on 4/11/40] to the Aegean. Operation COAT was the passage of reinforcements for the Mediterranean Fleet).


7th - Covered the passage of convoy AN 6 and MW 3. The two convoys proceeded together from off Alexandria towards west Crete. (Operation MB 8).


9th - In the evening RAMILLIES, HAVOCK, HYPERION and ILEX detached for Malta to refuel.


10th - The Mediterranean Fleet cruised to the south east of Malta.

At 1015 hours Force F, comprising battleship BARHAM, cruisers BERWICK and GLASGOW and destroyers GALLANT, GREYHOUND and GRIFFIN and preceded by destroyers FAULKNOR, FORTUNE and FURY acting as minesweepers, RVed with the Mediterranean Fleet. Force F (the reinforcements for the Mediterranean Fleet, Operation COAT) entered Valetta harbour to disembark their troops and supplies and the 3 F destroyers to refuel.

At 1330 hours convoy ME 3, which included Monitor TERROR, sailed from Malta, escorted by RAMILLIES, COVENTRY, DECOY, DEFENDER and HMAS VENDETTA. After disembarking their troops and supplies BARHAM, BERWICK, GLASGOW, GALLANT, GREYHOUND and GRIFFIN sailed from Malta and joined the Mediterranean Fleet sailing east.


11th - Covered passage of convoy ME3 from Malta to Alexandria.

At 1310 hours AJAX, ORION, HMAS SYDNEY, MOHAWK and NUBIAN detached from the Fleet to carry out a raid on Italian military convoys in the southern Adriatic.

At 1800 hours ILLUSTRIOUS, YORK, BERWICK, GLASGOW, GLOUCESTER, HASTY, HAVOCK, HYPERION and ILEX detached from the Fleet to carry out Operation JUDGMENT. (Note: The successful air attack on Taranto (Operation JUDGMENT) by aircraft from ILLUSTRIOUS during the night of 11/12th November was also covered as part of Operation COAT).




13th - The Fleet and convoy ME 3 arrived at Alexandria. (Following the success of Operation Judgment it was decided that RAMILLIES and MALAYA could be released from the Mediterranean Fleet)


23rd - Sailed from Alexandria in company with battleship MALAYA, aircraft carrier EAGLE, cruisers AJAX, ORION and HMAS SYDNEY escorted by destroyers DAINTY, DIAMOND, HASTY, HAVOCK, HYPERION and ILEX, designated as Force C for Operation MB 9 and Operation COLLAR. (Operation MB 9 was an operation to provide Fleet cover for Malta convoy MW4. Operation COLLAR covered the passage of RAMILLIES, BERWICK and NEWCASTLE through the Mediterranean to Gibraltar)


24th At 0800 hours Force C arrived at Suda Bay to refuel. After refuelling, Force C sailed from Suda Bay. Off Suda Bay cruiser BERWICK joined Force C, which then sailed westward towards Malta.


26th - At 0813 hours convoy MW 4 arrived at Malta accompanied by MALAYA and RAMILLIES to refuel. At 1200 hours sailed from Malta as Force D in company with cruisers NEWCASTLE and COVENTRY, and destroyers GREYHOUND, GRIFFIN, DIAMOND, DEFENDER and HEREWARD. To join Force H. The ships joined heavy cruiser BERWICK at sea.


27th - During the night of 26/27, RAMILLIES, BERWICK and NEWCASTLE were attacked by Italian torpedo bombers. (At 0630 hours a Sunderland of 228 Sqdn. reported a strong Italian naval force off Cape Spartivento, Sardinia. On receipt of this report Admiral Somerville decided to wait until Force D joined Force H before taking offensive action).

At 1130 hours Force D, RAMILLIES, BERWICK and NEWCASTLE joined Force H. At which point Force H turned north to meet the Italian fleet.

At 1222 hours RAMILLIES open fire on the Italians (Battle of Cape Spativento) but after a few rounds she ceased fire as the Italians were out of range and she was too slow to take any further part in the battle.


29th - At 1530 hours arrived at Gibraltar. (For details of Mediterranean Fleet activities in 1940-41 see THE BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by D MacIntyre).




7th - Sailed from Gibraltar in company with aircraft carrier ARGUS, Troopship SS FRANCONIA, escorted by destroyers ECLIPSE, KELVIN, VELOX and WRESTLER.


9th - 550 miles west of Cape St Vincent the Gibraltar group RVed with aircraft carrier FURIOUS and cruiser DIDO (sailed from Freetown on 2/12/40). Following which VELOX detached and returned to Gibraltar.


11th - At 1000 hours, 360 miles southwest of Rockall destroyers COSSACK and SIKH joined the force.


14th - At 1410 hours arrived in the Clyde. Went to Devonport for a refit.



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6th - Sailed from Plymouth for the Clyde.


11th - Sailed from the Clyde in company with cruiser PHOEBE, and destroyers CHURCHILL, LINCOLN, WATCHMAN, FEARLESS, BEAGLE, BRILLIANT and FS LEOPARD and the Clyde portion of convoy WS5B.




14th - At 0001 hours LEOPARD detached having reached the limit of her endurance.

At 1400 hours WITHERINGTON detached with condenser trouble.


15th - At 0200 hours 4 destroyers detached to return to UK.

At 0600 hours 2 destroyers detached to return to the UK.

At 1200 hours, 550 miles NNE of the Azores, cruiser EMERALD joined the convoy. PHOEBE, FEARLESS and one other destroyer detached for Gibraltar and NAIAD detached to return to Scapa.


16th - At 0400 hours, 360 miles north of the Azores 2 destroyers detached to return to Londonderry.


17th - At 0600 hours, 60 miles north of the Azores, RAMILLIES and the SS DUKE of YORK, carrying German POW’s, detached from WS5B for Halifax.


30th - Sailed from Halifax in company with corvette HMCS COLLINGWOOD escorting convoy HX106.


31st - COLLINGWOOD detached.




8th - At 1100 hours in position 52,55N 34W, 900 miles west of Slyne Head Ireland, whilst providing cover for Convoy HXl06, she sighted the mast and top of a warship. In her report to the Admiralty she stated that it was possibly a Hipper class cruiser. (At the time the Admiralty was unaware that the HIPPER was at Brest. In fact RAMILLIES had sighted the German battlecruiser SCHARNHORST which was in company with the GNEISENAU. The Germans had sighted the convoy at 1030 hours and closed to attack, but when the presence of a battleship was identified Admiral Lütjens called off the German action. They withdrew at high speed to avoid damage in action with a battleship)


10th - Detached from HX106 for St Johns.


21st - Joined convoy HX110 as ocean escort.




3rd - Detached from convoy HX110 for St Johns.




3rd - At 1245 hours 360 miles south of St Johns in company with the French submarine SURCOUF, she joined AMC WOLFE escorting convoy HX118.


9th - Early in the day she detached from HX118 and drew ahead and at 0600 hours in position 53,30N 37,19W joined AMC SALOPIAN escorting convoy SC27.

At 1400 hours she detached from SC27 and rejoined HX118 as HX118 was overtaking SC37.


10th - At 0530 hours in position 58,10N 33,57W RAMILLIES and SURCOUF detached from HX118. RAMILLIES returned to St Johns.


30th - At 0730 hours she joined AMC DERBYSHIRE escorting convoy HX123.




4th - At 0430 hours she detached from Convoy HX123. RAMILLIES returned to Halifax.


16th - Sailed from Halifax in company with HMCS ST CROIX, AGASSIZ and WETASKIWIN escorting convoy HX127.


18th - HMCS ST CROIX, AGASSIZ and WETASKIWIN detached from HX127.


23rd - Destroyer LINCOLN and corvette SUNFLOWER joined HX127.


24th - Following the sinking of the HOOD by the German battleship BISMARCK. The Admiralty ordered RAMILLIES, which with HX127 was about 900 miles south of the BISMARCK, to detach from HX127 and steam north towards her position.

At 1212 hours in position 46.25N 35.24W, RAMILLIES detached from HX127


26th - At 1200 hours RAMILLIES who was proceeding at her best speed of 19 knots was ordered to give up the pursuit of BISMARCK and to search for the troopship BRITANNIC and escort her to Halifax.




1st - Sailed from Halifax in company with HMCS PICTOU, RIMOUSKI and RAYON D’OR escorting convoy HX130.


4th - Corvettes HMCS AGASSIZ, ALBERNI, and WETASKIWIN and destroyers BURNHAM and CHURCHILL joined HX130.


9th - RAMILLIES detached from HX130 and returned to Halifax.


21st - Sailed from Halifax in company with battlecruiser REPULSE, and destroyers HMCS ASSINIBOINE, BUXTON, HAVELOCK, HMCS SKEENA, and HMCS ST LAURENT escorting troop convoy TC11.


24th - ASSINIBOINE, SKEENA, and ST LAURENT detached from TC11.


26th - Dutch cruiser HNethMS JACOB VAN HEEMSKERCK joined the convoy.


27th - RAMILLIES detached from convoy TC11.


28th - Arrived at Hvalfjord.




22nd - At Hvalfjord where she was ordered to raise steam because of a possible breakout by the German battlecruiser SCHARNHORST. (The SCHARNHORST moved from Brest to La Pallice) RAMILLIES was stood down.




Atlantic deployment in continuation.


18th - Passage from Hvalfjord, Iceland to Scapa.


September to November


Atlantic convoy defence in continuation.


Under refit at Cammell Laird, Birkenhead. Transferred to Gladstone Dock, Liverpool for completion of work. On completion of the refit went to Scapa Flow to work up. Radar fitted for aircraft and surface warning as well as fire control of main and secondary armament. (See RADAR AT SEA by D Howse.) Nominated for service in East Indies.




 On completion of work up, nominated for foreign service as flagship of the second in command of the new Eastern Fleet.


1st - At 0925 hours sailed from Scapa Flow escorted by destroyers ESCAPADE and WHEATLAND.


2nd – At 1200 hours the ships arrived in the Clyde. Rear Admiral S. S. Bonham-Carter CB, CVO, DSO, hoisted his flag of Battle Squadron 3 in battleship RAMILLIES in the Clyde.


7th - Sailed from the Clyde escorted by destroyers VANQUISHER, VOLUNTEER and WITCH.


8th - Arrived at Milford Haven.


9th - Sailed from Milford Haven escorted by destroyers VANQUISHER, VOLUNTEER and WITCH to join convoy WS14.


13th - At 0940 hours, 150 miles north of the Azores they joined destroyers FOXHOUND, GURKHA and NESTOR and AMC CILICIA escorting military convoy WS14. (Having failed to locate the convoy the previous day in its expected position).

At 1000 hours destroyers BADSWORTH and BEAUFORT joined the escort of WS14, and FOXHOUND, GURKHA and NESTOR detached for Gibraltar.

At 1800 hours 80 miles north of Sao Miguel, BADSWORTH and BEAUFORT detached from WS14 to refuel at Ponta Delgada.


14th - BADSWORTH and BEAUFORT rejoined and VANQUISHER detached.


15th - VOLUNTEER and WITCH detached from WS14.


18th - Destroyers BRILLIANT and HURWORTH joined convoy WS14.


19th - Destroyers VANSITTART and WILD SWAN joined the convoy.


21st - At 0700 hours arrived Freetown with WS14. On arrival, Rear Admiral S. S. Bonham-Carter was ordered to haul down his flag and return to the UK.


25th - At 1400 hours sailed from Freetown in company with destroyers BEAUFORT, HURWORTH, VANSITTART and WILD SWAN and sloop BRIDGEWATER, escorting convoy WS14.


27th - VANSITTART and WILD SWAN detached for Freetown.



1 9 4 2




4th - At 0900 hours off the Cape of Good Hope, AMC DERBYSHIRE joined the escort of WS14.

At 1800 hours RAMILLIES, BEAUFORT and HURWORTH detached from WS14


5th - Arrived at Cape Town.


9th - RAMILLIES and corvettes HOLLYHOCK and VERBENA sailed from Cape Town escorting the 16 mercantiles of the Cape Town section of convoy WS14.


10th - HOLLYHOCK and VERBENA detached from WS14.


12th - RAMILLIES detached from WS14 to carry out a firing exercise and then proceed to Durban to refuel.


13th - At 1500 hours off Durban, all sections of WS14 re-assembled, escorted by RAMILLIES and AMC Corfu, after which the convoy split into two sections, and WS14C for Aden was escorted by RAMILLIES.


20th - Off Mombasa she detached from WS14 on relief by cruiser COLOMBO. She then went into Kilindini.




21st - Sailed from Kilindini to join convoy DM3.


22nd - North of the Comoro Islands she took over the escort of military convoy DM3 (This convoy had been formed from convoy WS15 following General Wavell’s signal not to send further reinforcements to Java).


23rd - Destroyer HMAS NORMAN joined from the Seychelles where she had refuelled. (Note: WS15 was originally bound for Singapore. Following the fall of Singapore the destination was changed to Batavia. But with the deteriorating situation in Java the destination was changed to Colombo).


28th - Detached from DM3 with NORMAN to refuel at Addu Atoll and returned on 29th




2nd - Destination of convoy changed to Bombay and Colombo. Detached from DM3 and took passage to Colombo with designated mercantiles.


4th - On arrival at Colombo detached from DM3 to join ships of East Indies Squadron.


7th - Sailed from Colombo for Trincomalee. (Vice Admiral Somerville arrived at Colombo at 0800/26/3/42 and assumed command of the Eastern Fleet. His first task was to evaluate his assets. These he found to be a mixed collection of old and new and without fleet battle training. His immediate decision was to split his Fleet into two Forces, a fast force, Force A and a slow force, Force B)


26th - Sailed from Ceylon in company with battleships RESOLUTION, REVENGE and ROYAL SOVEREIGN, forming the 3rd Battle Squadron, to carry out tactical and gunnery exercises at Addu Atoll.


28th - (Somerville was informed that a Japanese attack against Ceylon was to be expected on or about 1/4/42. Somerville, now on board his flagship battleship WARSPITE resolved to take the fleet to sea to meet the threat. All ships of the Eastern Fleet were therefore ordered to RV to the south of Ceylon)


29th - Sailed from Addu Atoll in company with battleships RESOLUTION, REVENGE, ROYAL SOVEREIGN and aircraft carrier INDOMITABLE.


31st - Off the south coast of Ceylon Force A and B of the Eastern Fleet RVed at 04.40N 81,00E. RAMILLIES formed part of Force B which also included battleships RESOLUTION, REVENGE and ROYAL SOVEREIGN, aircraft carrier HERMES, cruisers CALEDON, DRAGON and Dutch cruiser HNethMS HEEMSKERCK and destroyers ARROW, DECOY, FORTUNE and SCOUT, HMAS NORMAN and VAMPIRE and the Dutch HNethMS ISAAC SWEERS. The Fleet then commenced patrolling off the south of Ceylon, sweeping east during the day and west during the night.




2nd - (Late in the evening, without any sighting of the Japanese being reported and with several of his fleet requiring replenishment, including the R Class battleships, Somerville decided to withdraw his fleet to Addu Atoll)

At 2100 hours the fast group, Force A withdrew first, immediately followed by Force B, less HERMES and VAMPIRE which went to Trincomalee.


4th - At 1500 hours as Force B arrived at Addu Atoll. (At 1005 hours a Catalina of 413 Sqdn. located and reported the Japanese Fleet 360 miles 155° from Dondra Head)


5th - At 0700 hours Force B sailed from Addu Atoll


6th - At 0700 hours Force A and B combined. The combined Fleet then set course SE for the estimated position of the Japanese Fleet.

At 1800 hours course was reversed to the NE.


7th - (In the early hours the Admiralty signaled Somerville that their policy of discouraging the Japanese from entering the Indian Ocean in force had failed and they further realized that the Eastern Fleet was inferior in all respects to the Japanese Fleet. The R Class battleships were in this respect considered more of a liability than an asset. Therefore Somerville was given discretion to withdraw them to Africa). The Fleet then sailed for Addu Atoll by a circuitous route.


8th - The Fleet arrived back at Addu Atoll. (For details of Indian Ocean operations in 1942 see OPERATION PACIFIC by E Gray).


9th - Sailed from Addu Atoll in company with battleships RESOLUTION, REVENGE and ROYAL SOVEREIGN.


14th - Arrived at Kilindini. Since RAMILLIES had enjoyed a rather easier life than her sisters and was therefore in better condition, she was nominated to replace MALAYA for Operation IRONCLAD, an operation to capture the French naval base at Diego Suarez in Madagascar.


16th - Sailed from Kilindini.


22nd - Arrived at Durban where Rear Admiral E N Syfret hoisted his flag as FO Commanding Naval Force F for Operation IRONCLAD.


28th - Sailed from Durban escorting invasion Convoy Z, the fast convoy, in company with ILLUSTRIOUS and cruiser HERMIONE screened by destroyers LAFOREY, LIGHTNING, LOOKOUT and 3 other destroyers.




3rd - The Fast and Slow convoys joined, and the force was joined by aircraft carrier INDOMITABLE escorted by destroyers HMAS NIZAM and NORMAN. NIZAM and NORMAN then detached and returned to the Eastern Fleet that was providing distant cover for Operation IRONCLAD.


5th - At 0430 hours the first troop landing took place in Courrier Bay and RAMILLIES provided naval gunfire support during the landings. Formed part of the landing covering force which also included ILLUSTRIOUS, INDOMITABLE, HERMIONE and 7 destroyers.


6th - Early in the morning the attacking force that was moving east towards Antsirane was held up by Vichy resistance. Following a conference on RAMILLIES, the land commander, General Sturges asked if it would be possible to land a small force in the enemy’s rear. The suggestion was quickly acted upon. The destroyer ANTHONY was called alongside RAMILLIES and 50 Royal Marines from RAMILLIES, under Captain M Price RM transferred to ANTHONY.

At 1545 hours ANTHONY cast off and proceeded at high speed around Cape Amber heading for the Oronjia Pass at the entrance to Diego Suarez harbour. RAMILLIES and her escorting destroyers then set off after ANTHONY.


7th - At 0800 hours, in the dark, ANTHONY steamed through the Oronjia Pass and at 0850 hours she landed the Marines on the quay at Antsirane. Their effect on the garrison was such that the main Army attack from the west was completely successful and by 1500 hours the Army was able to report the complete occupation of the town.

At 1040 hours off the Oronjia Peninsula RAMILLIES, DEVONSHIRE and HERMIONE in line ahead, screened by 4 destroyers opened fire on the Vichy defences.

At 1050 hours fire was checked when it was learned that the defences had surrendered.


8th - Entered Diego Suarez Bay with other units of the fleet. (Operation IRONCLAD - see RELUCTANT ENEMIES and Naval Staff History)


29th - At 2230 hours a Yokosuka E14Y "Glen" floatplane from the Japanese submarine I-10 on a reconnaissance mission glided over Diego Suarez harbour and made as if to land between RAMILLIES and cruiser FROBISHER which was anchored close to RAMILLIES. Although RAMILLIES had her AA guns manned, she did not open fire because the aircraft might be French and they might have hit FROBISHER. Just as it appeared the aircraft was about touch down she opened her throttle and flew out of sight behind a hill. The whole episode lasted little over a minute. It was assumed that the aircraft was hostile and had come from an enemy warship. Therefore the decision was taken to move position. (The aircraft had been launched from the Japanese submarine I-10 which in company with I-16 and I-20 had arrived off northern Madagascar earlier in the day. After returning to I-10 and reporting their findings, Captain Ishizaki ordered a midget submarine attack on RAMILLIES and FROBISHER for 0230 hours on 31 May )


30th - After raising steam RAMILLIES and FROBISHER weighed anchor, FROBISHER put to sea and RAMILLIES steamed around the harbour. An air search to a depth of 200 miles was carried out which sighted nothing, and RAMILLIES anchored in another position close to tanker MV BRITISH LOYALTY (6993 tons).

At 1710 hours, about 9 nautical miles east of Diego Suarez, I-20 launched midget submarine M-20b.

At 2025 hours M-20b fired one of her two 450mm Type 98 torpedoes with a 350kg warhead at RAMILLIES. The torpedo hit and holed the bulge and bottom plating, opening a 30-foot by 30-foot hole in the port bulge forward of A turret. The electrical system was damaged and power lost all over the ship. The six-inch armor belt above the site of the explosion was displaced and the forward magazines and shell rooms (15-inch main calibre and 4-inch AA) flooded.

At 2120 hours M-20b fired her other torpedo at RAMILLIES. But following the first hit on RAMILLIES, the BRITISH LOYALTY, a motor ship, was able to weigh anchor and start to move her berth. As she was going astern she was hit by the second torpedo that was meant for RAMILLIES and seriously damaged. The crew of RAMILLIES worked to control the flooding, following which she weighed anchor and moved to a narrow arm of the harbour, and moored with her bows to seaward in order to present the least possible target to any further attack.

(The crew of the submarine, Lieutenant Saburo Akieda and Petty Officer Masami Takemoto, beached their submarine at Nosy Antalikely and proceeded towards a pick-up point near Cape Amber. They were informed upon when they bought food at a village and both were killed in a firefight with Royal Marines three days later).

(The Japanese issued a communiqué, claiming that they had sunk a cruiser of the FROBISHER class and torpedoed a battleship of the QUEEN ELIZABETH class which had been left sinking. The Admiralty were able to counter this with complete truth, by saying that no cruiser of the FROBISHER class had been sunk and that no battleship of the QUEEN ELIZABETH class had been at Diego Suarez)


31st - Work carried out to lighten the bows by moving anchors and cable aft, shoring up the damaged bulkheads and counter flooding.




1st - Work continuing to make her seaworthy.


2nd - Destroyer DECOY arrived at Diego Suarez with Constructor Captain H. S. Pengelly RCNC, the Eastern Fleet Constructor Officer. Pengelly inspected the work carried out on RAMILLIES and confirmed she was fit for sea.


3rd - Passage to Durban escorted by cruiser EMERALD and destroyers ACTIVE, DECOY and DUNCAN.


7th - Escort reinforced with corvettes FRITILLARY and JASMINE.


9th - Arrived at Durban. Taken in hand for repair on arrival.




Under repair at Durban. During her stay at Durban her CO, Captain D N C Tufnell DSC RN was appointed to command battleship ROYAL SOVEREIGN and most unusually her second in command, Commander L N Brownfield took over with the temp. rank of Captain. Ship to return to UK for refit and completion of repair outstanding.




6th - Sailed from Durban for Cape Town. (When she sailed she was seaworthy, but due to the extensive internal damage, there was no means of controlling either the 15-inch or the 6-inch guns. The anti-aircraft armament was operational)


9th - Arrived at Cape Town


13th - Sailed from Cape Town for Devonport via Freetown and Gibraltar.




8th - Arrived at Devonport for repair and refit.


October to December



Under repair and refit.



1 9 4 3


January to June


Under repair and refit. Additional armour plate was added over her magazines, 4 x 6inch casemate guns were landed and 2 x quad pom-poms added. Re-commissioned and carried out post refit trials.


3rd - Sailed from Plymouth for the Clyde escorted by the destroyers WENSLEYDALE, HMCS IROQUOIS  and ORP ORKAN. Passage to Scapa Flow for work-up with Home Fleet.




Nominated for service with the Eastern Fleet.




Prepared for foreign service.




Passage to join the Eastern Fleet.


14th - Sailed from Durban in company with destroyers NAPIER, NEPAL, RELENTLESS and ROEBUCK escorting convoy CM45, a convoy of 5 troopships for Aden


20th - At the latitude of Mombasa, RAMILLIES, NAPIER and NEPAL detached from CM45 and preceded to Mombasa.


October to November


Deployed for convoy defence in Indian Ocean.




Nominated for return to UK for support of military operations in Home waters.



1 9 4 4




Passage to UK


14th - Sailed from Port Said escorted by Frigates DUCKWORTH, BERRY, BLACKWOOD, COOKE, DOMETT and ESSINGTON.


26th - Arrived in the Clyde.




Defence against aircraft improved, including fit of radar for close weapons.




Joined Home Fleet at Scapa Flow.


April to May


Took part in preparatory exercises for planned assault landings. Nominated for service in Eastern Task Force with Bombarding Force D. Target in Pre-arranged Fire Plan - Benerville Battery. (Operation NEPTUNE - For details of naval activities prior to and during landings see OPERATION NEPTUNE by K Edwards and LANDINGS IN NORMANDY, JUNE 1944 (HMSO).).




2nd - At 1900 hours sailed from Greenock for the Normandy beachhead on Operation NEPTUNE in company with battleship WARSPITE, Monitor ROBERTS, cruisers MAURITIUS, ARETHUSA, FROBISHER, DANAE and Polish ORP DRAGON and escorting destroyers. RAMILLIES sailed with a reduced ships complement so that only two of her four 15 inch turrets could be manned at any one time. This was designated Bombarding Force S and was to have sailed directly to their bombarding stations off the beachhead. However due to bad weather the operation was postponed for 24 hours so they made for Portsmouth.


4th - Arrived off Portsmouth.


5th - Passage through swept channel to Assault area with ships of Force S of the Eastern Task Force in Convoy S6, escorted by destroyers SAUMAREZ, SWIFT, Norwegian destroyers HNorMS SVENNER and STORD and Frigates ROWLEY and HOLMES.


6th - At 0530 hours NE of Sword Beach, approximately 11 miles west of Le Havre (at this time Le Havre was cut off from the invasion fleet by a smoke screen) RAMILLIES opened fire on the Benerville Battery at a range of 24000 yards. (The Benerville battery consisted of 4 x 150mm guns, three in casemates and one in an open pit open). Almost simultaneously with opening fire, the bombarding force was attacked by the German 5th Torpedo Boat Flotilla of T28, FALKE, JAGUAR and MÖWE which fired 18 torpedoes and made off. Torpedoes were seen approaching RAMILLIES and she turned away from them. They passed between RAMILLIES and WARSPITE, narrowly missing both, but one went on to hit and sink the Norwegian destroyer HNoMS SVENNER at 0535 hours. (The 5th TB flotilla had sailed from Le Havre at 0440 hours with orders to attack landing craft that had been sighted off Port en Bessin. But on breaking through the smoke screen they were confronted by the bombardment line of battleships, monitor and cruisers. On seeing the overwhelming force they fired their torpedoes and returned to Le Havre at speed). After 48 rounds, a hydraulic valve in A turret failed and the gun crew immediately transferred to B turret. In the evening, ran out of 15 inch ammunition and sailed for Portsmouth.


7th - At 0830 hours arrived at Portsmouth to re-ammunition.

At 2030 hours sailed for the beachhead.


8th - Arrived off the beachhead and anchored near battleship RODNEY and bombarded targets nominated by army.


10th - Bombarded targets around Caen.


11th - Bombarded targets around Caen, including a German armoured concentration of 200 tanks.


12th - Bombarded targets around Caen, including railway marshalling yards. Carried a bombardment in support of 6th Airborne Division assault.


14th - Bombarded strongpoint NW of Caen. Carried a bombardment in support of 6th Airborne Division assault.


15th - Returned to her D-Day bombardment position and re-engaged the mobile field guns that had been moved back into the Benerville position.


17th - Further bombardment of the Benerville position.


18th - After firing 1000 rounds of 15 inch she was withdrawn and returned to Portsmouth.




After release from NEPTUNE prepared for bombardment duties in Mediterranean. Allocated for service under US Command for support of landings in South France. (Operation DRAGOON - For details see LANDINGS IN SOUTH FRANCE (HMSO).




Passage to Gibraltar


11th - Arrived at Algiers to join ALPHA Gunfire Support Group in Task Force 84. (Note: The Group had already sailed for Malta and programme rearranged).


10th - Took passage to join cruisers ORION, AURORA, AJAX and BLACK PRINCE, US cruiser USS QUINCY and French cruiser GLOIRE in Assault area.


15th - Joined Gunfire Support Group. Provided naval gunfire support with ships of Group during landings by 3rd US Div in the Baie de Cavalaire. Batteries at St Tropez and Cape Camarat silenced.


19th - Transferred to SITKA area. Fired 12 rounds at fort. After defence collapsed in SITKA area took passage to Propriano.




24th - Took passage to Algiers from Propriano. Recalled to support military operations in Marseilles Bay.


25th - Arrived at Porquerolles with cruiser SIRIUS and US cruiser OMAHA. Joined in the bombardment of batteries on St. Mendrier peninsula.


26th - Resumed bombardment of batteries.


27th - Bombardment in continuation. (See above references for details).


29th - Released from US command and remained in Mediterranean.




Deployed in Mediterranean.




Passage to UK


November to December


Deployed with Home Fleet



1 9 4 5


January to February



Home waters deployment in continuation




Withdrawn from operational service


April to August


Deployed as Accommodation Ship and for training


Po s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS RAMILLIES continued service in the training role until being placed on the Disposal List. This battleship was sold on 20th February 1948 for breaking-up. She arrived in tow at Cairn Ryan on 23rd April that year for de-equipping and transferred to Troon for demolition during October 1948.







by Don Kindell


These convoy lists have not been cross-checked with the text above


Date convoy sailed

 Joined convoy as escort

 Convoy No.

Left convoy

Date convoy arrived













MW 003





ME 003





HX 106





HX 110





HX 118





HX 123





HX 127





HX 130





TC 011





CM 045




(Note on Convoys)



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