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SERVICE HISTORIES of ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS in WORLD WAR 2
by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2003

HMS REPULSE - Renown-class 15in gun Battlecruiser

Editing & Additional Material by Mike Simmonds

HMS Repulse (Maritime Quest, click to enlarge)

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RENOWN-Class battlecruiser ordered in January 1915 and intended to be built by Palmer's but was transferred to John Brown of Clydebank as a longer Slipway was required,. The ship was laid down on 25th January 1915 on the same day as her sister ship RENOWN. Launched on 8 January 1916 she was the 10th RN ship to carry the name introduced for a 50 gun ship in 1595 and last been used in 1892 for a battleship 1916 sold in 1911. Build was completed on 18th August 1916

 

B a t t l e  H o n o u r s

 

CADIZ  1596 - LA ROCHELLE 1627 - MARTINIQUE 1762 - THE SAINTES 1762 - CALDERS  ACTION 1805 - DARDENELLES  1807 - WALCHEREN 1809 - NORWAY 1940 - ATLANTIC 1940 - BISMARCK Action 1941

 

H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field Blue an eagle alighting on a rook, facing dexter

wings half raised.

 

M o t t o

Qui Tangit Frangatur: ' Who touches me is broken'.

 


 

 

 S u m m a r  y   o f   P r e – W a r   S e r v i c e

 

 

1 9 1 6

 

July

Contractors trials and commissioned for Trials,

18th - Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials
Note: Achieved speed of 3 1 knots on speed trials. Serious weaknesses found in forward Hull structure and smoke from the forward funnel obscured visual observation for fire control equipment)

September

Trials and work-up in continuation.

21st - Joined 1st Battle Squadron for duty as Flagship.

October to December

Taken in hand for strengthening of structure.
(Note: Pillars were fitted and forward funnel height increased by six feet)

1 9 1 7

January to August

Resumed Fleet service in Home waters.
Selected for trials using a Flying Platform for launch of aircraft

September

Taken in hand for installation of a Flying Platform on B Turret.

October

Carried out trials using Sopwith Pup aircraft.

November

On completion resumed Squadron duties in Home waters.

15th - Deployed in support of operation by Light Cruisers to intercept German minesweeping off Heligoland.
(Note: This attempt to entice deployment of German major warships was not successful. but during an engagement with cruiser Konigsberg enemy ship was hit by gunfire)

December

Home waters deployment in Grand Fleet based at Scapa Flow.

1 9 1 8

January to May

Home waters Squadron duties in continuation.

June

Took part in Fleet operation in Kattegat to attempt interference by German warships.
(Note: This was unsuccessful)

July to October

Grand Fleet deployment in continuation.

November

21st - Present at surrender of German High Seas Fleet which were met on passage in North Sea to Scapa Flow for formal ceremonial.
(Note: These ships were later scuttled and many sank in Scapa Flow)

December

Nominated for future service after refit.

1 9 1 9

Taken in hand for refit by HM Dockyard, Portsmouth.
(Note: Work done included addition of 9in armour plate and extension of existing anti-torpedo bulges)

1 9 2 0  t o  1 9 2 1

On completion of refit and trials resumed service in Atlantic Fleet.
Deployed for Fleet exercises and visits in Home Waters and Mediterranean.
Nominated for attendance at Brazilian centenary celebration.

1 9 2 2

Deployed with Atlantic Fleet and attended ceremonials at Rio de Janeiro with battlecruiser HOOD.

Nominated for service with five Light Cruisers to carry out World Cruise.

1 9 2 3

January to October

Atlantic Fleet service in continuation

Prepared for World Cruise to British Empire ports.

November

27th - Joined battlecruiser HOOD and cruisers DELHI, DANAE, DAUNTLESS, DRAGON and DUNEDIN and took passage for Freetown.

December

Called at Freetown.

21st - Visited Cape Town.

Sailed with same ships to Zanzibar.

1 9 2 4

January

1st - Arrived at Zanzibar.

17th - Took passage to Fremantle.

February

24th - At Fremantle

March

Visited Albany, Adelaide and Melbourne

April

Visited Hobart, Tasmania

9th - Arrived at Sydney.

20th - Sailed for Wellington, New Zealand.

May

7th - Sailed from Wellington for visits to Pacific Islands

16th - Commenced calls in Pacific.
(Note: These included Suva, Samara, Fiji, Apia, W Samoa)

June

Passage to Victoria, British Colombia.

6th - Arrived at Victoria.

July

6th - Visited Vancouver.
(Note: The five cruisers detached and took passage to visit ports in South America)

August

Visited ports in USA with the HOOD.

September

Took passage to Portsmouth via Panama Canal.

29th - Arrived at Portsmouth.
(Note: During cruise ship steamed over 30,000 miles)

October to December

Resumed Atlantic Fleet duties.

Deployed at Portsmouth.

Nominated for special duties to take Prince of Wales to visit ports in South Africa and South America.

1 9 2 5

Carried special duties for Royal Visits to Portugal, South Africa and east coast of South America with Prince of Wales.

Resumed Atlantic Fleet duties on return after seven months detached service.
Nominated for reduction of complement.

1 9 2 6  t o  1 9 3 2

Deployed with 60% of full complement in Atlantic Fleet including visits and Fleet exercises.
(Note: These included annual exercises in Atlantic and Mediterranean with ships of the Mediterranean Fleet based in Atlantic and Mediterranean based at Gibraltar.

During 1927 in a flying accident two pilots from the ship were killed.

This period included three Full Commissions.

Nominated for major refit.

1 9 3 3  to  1 9 3 5

Taken in hand for refit.

The work carried out included:
Installation of a catapult for launch of aircraft together with construction of a Hangar to accommodate four seaplanes and provide suitable repair and maintenance facilities. Stowage of petrol was also needed.

1 9 3 6

On completion of refit carried out harbour and sea trials after re-commissioning for service in Mediterranean Fleet based in Malta.

Took part in Fleet exercise and visits programmes.

1 9 3 7

January to May

Mediterranean Fleet deployment in continuation

June to December

During Fleet programme visited Spanish waters.

During August was involved in negotiating the release of a British mercantile stopped by Spanish cruiser MIGUEL CERVANTES.

1 9 3 8

January to September

Home Fleet deployment in continuation including Fleet Exercises and Visits Programme

Nominated for refit

October

Under refit.
(Note: AA armament was improved to limited extent without replacement of most 4'in

December

AA mountings which were of original design used during build.
No work was done on machinery.

1 9 3 9

January to February

Under refit
(Note: Selected for conversion to suit use for taking HM King George VI and HM Queen Elizabeth to Canada with the Royal Family. This was later changed because of the increased possibility of war with Germany as all major warships were to remain in Home waters)

March

Refit work completed.
Carried out sea trials.

April

Deployed as escort for RMS EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA during initial stage of passage.

May

Completed work-up with Home Fleet ships

June

Home Fleet deployment in continuation.

July to August

Completed harbour and sea trials.

Carried out shakedown and work-up prior to resuming service in Home Fleet.

Rejoined Home Fleet for service in 1st Battle Squadron with battlecruisers RENOWN and HOOD.

30th – REPULSE Captain Ernest John Spooner DSO RN and HOOD arrived at Scapa Flow from Rosyth.

31st – At 1900 hours the 1st BCS comprising REPULSE and HOOD escorted by the Tribal-class destroyers SOMALI, ASHANTI, BEDOUIN, ESKIMO, MASHONA, and TARTAR of the 6th DF departed Scapa Flow to patrol with the Home Fleet in the northern North Sea. The intention of the CinC Home Fleet being to detach the battlecruisers to shadow any German forces met.
BEDOUIN had mechanical defects and returned to Scapa Flow for repairs.
At 2300 hours west of the Orkneys the 1st BCS joined the Home Fleet.

 

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

September

1st – At 1209 hours the CinC Home fleet received a signal from the Admiralty to the effect that a German force of one battlecruiser, two pocket battleships, one 8in cruiser and one 6in cruiser might be in Icelandic waters waiting for hostilities to commence before attacking the trade routes. The Home Fleet was ordered to proceed to the westward to prevent this German force carrying out its threat. The Home Fleet then turned west at 18 knots and passed through the Fair Isle Channel into the Atlantic.

2nd – During the day the screening destroyers commenced detaching to refuel. The requirement to refuel meant that until the Fleet returned to Scapa Flow destroyers were detaching and joining.

3rd - At 0700 hours in position 58-15N, 20W the Home Fleet reversed course.
At 1122 hours the CinC Home Fleet received a signal from the Admiralty to commence hostilities against Germany.
At 1200 hours in approx position 59-05N, 18-20W the Home Fleet turned northerly to search for the German liner the SS BREMEN 51656 tonsgrt, that was known to be en route to Germany from New York. The destroyers were sent ahead in line abreast formation.
At 1500 hours in position 63-20N, 16-35W, 32 miles off the coast of Iceland the destroyer SOMALI captured the German merchant ship the SS HANNAH BOGE 2372grt to become the first prize in the war at sea.
At 1840 hours the CinC received a signal from the Admiralty reporting the German Fleet leaving Schillig Roads.
At 1900 hours the Home Fleet turned eastward steering for the Fair Isle Channel.
In the evening the destroyer ESKIMO experienced a turbine problem and detached to return to Scapa Flow
At 2300 hours the destroyer FAME was detached to go to the assistance of the liner the SS ATHENIA that had been torpedoed in position 56-44N, 14-05W.

5th – At 0600 hours the Home Fleet entered the Fair Isle Channel.
After passing through the Fair Isle Channel the Home Fleet cruised to eastward of the Orkneys, most of the time in thick fog.

6th – At 0700 hours the 1st BCS in company with the rest of the Home Fleet arrived back at Scapa Flow.

7th – At 0600 hours the Home Fleet comprising battleships NELSON (Flag) and RODNEY, battlecruiser REPULSE, aircraft carrier ARK ROYAL, light cruisers AURORA, SHEFFIELD, and destroyers FAULKNOR, FIREDRAKE, FORESIGHT, FORTUNE, FURY, ASHANTI, BEDOUIN, MASHONA, PUNJABI, SOMALI and TARTAR sailed from Scapa Flow to patrol off the Norwegian coast as far north as 63ΌN to intercept any German shipping returning to Germany and exercise contraband control.
ASHANTI detached with turbine problems and went to Greenock.

10th – At 1815 hours the Home Fleet arrived back at Scapa Flow.

12th – At 1915 hours the battleship NELSON, battlecruiser REPULSE, and destroyers SOMALI, BEDOUIN, MASHONA, PUNJABI and TARTAR of the 6th DF departed Scapa Flow for Loch Ewe.

13th – At 0730 hours NELSON, REPULSE, MASHONA and SOMALI arrived at Loch Ewe (the small port of Aultbrea, designated Port A for security reasons). BEDOUIN, PUNJABI and TARTAR were detached en route on anti-submarine patrol.

20th – At 1915 hours the Home Fleet comprising the battleships NELSON and RODNEY, battlecruisers HOOD and REPULSE, aircraft carrier ARK ROYAL, and destroyers FIREDRAKE, FORTUNE, TARTAR and PUNJABI sailed from Loch Ewe for Scapa Flow.

21st – Early in the morning off Cape Wrath the Fleet was joined by the destroyers FAULKNOR, FOXHOUND, FURY, FEARLESS, FORESTER and FORESIGHT from Scapa Flow.
At 1000 hours the Fleet arrived at Scapa Flow.

22nd – At 1100 hours the Home Fleet comprising NELSON (Flag), RODNEY, HOOD, REPULSE, ARK ROYAL and destroyers FAME, FORESIGHT, FIREDRAKE, FORTUNE, FAULKNOR, FOXHOUND, FEARLESS, MATABELE, MASHONA and SOMALI sailed from Scapa Flow to provide cover for Operation SK.
(Operation SK was an operation by the cruisers of the 2nd CS and destroyers to penetrate deep into the Skagerrak. The major objective was to draw out heavy German Fleet units and lead them towards the Home Fleet covering force. The secondary objectives were to investigate reports that a boom had been laid across the entrance to the Kattegat, to sink any German ships encountered and exercise contraband control. At 0400/22/9/39 the cruisers SOUTHAMPTON (Flag) and GLASGOW of 2nd CS, AURORA and SHEFFIELD of 18th CS escorted by destroyers TARTAR, BEDOUIN, PUNJABI and ESKIMO of 6th DF and JERVIS, JERSEY, JAVELIN and JUPITER of the 7th DF sailed from Rosyth. At 1400 hours in position 57-09N, 03-08E the destroyer JERSEY collided with JAVELIN. At 2222/22/9/39 the VA commanding the 2nd CS abandoned the operation due to the collision between JERSEY and JAVELIN)

23rd – At 0617 hours the Home Fleet reversed course and steered for Scapa Flow.
At 13333 hours in position 58-11N, 00-26W an explosion was felt and observed approximately 4 miles distant. The destroyers FORTUNE, FIREDRAKE, MASHONA and MATABELE were detached to investigate.
1910 hours the Home Fleet arrived back at Scapa Flow.

October

1st – At 1700 hours the Home Fleet comprising NELSON (Flag), RODNEY, HOOD, REPULSE, ARK ROYAL, light cruiser NEWCASTLE and destroyers ASHANTI, MASHONA, MATABELE, SOMALI, FAME, FORESIGHT, FORTUNE and FIREDRAKE sailed from Scapa Flow for Loch Ewe.
(This movement was in accordance with Admiralty instructions and in pursuance of the policy of evading air attack on Scapa Flow)

2nd – At 0700 hours the Fleet arrived at Loch Ewe.

5th – At 2000 hours the Home Fleet comprising NELSON (Flag), RODNEY, HOOD, REPULSE, FURIOUS and escorting destroyers sailed from Loch Ewe for Scapa Flow.

6th – At 1000 hours The Fleet arrived at Scapa Flow.
In the late afternoon HM the King embarked in AURORA arrived in Scapa Flow and visited various ships of the Fleet.

8th - Over night the CinC Home Fleet was made aware that the German navy was about to launch a sortie by heavy units.
At 1320 hours the CinC Home Fleet received firm information from the RAF when one of Coastal Command’s Hudson aircraft of 224 Sqd. sighted the German Battlecruiser GNEISENAU and the cruiser KOLN and 9 destroyers off Lister lighthouse (Lindesnes LH southern Norway) steaming north at 20 knots.

(The purpose of the Kriegsmarine sortie was to sink any allied shipping found and to entice out the Home Fleet onto four U-boats that were deployed in a line across what was the probable interception course of the Home Fleet and to bring the Home Fleet into range of Luftwaffe bombers)

(The CinC Home Fleets plan was to sail two forces, The Home Fleet from Scapa Flow, Force F and the Humber Force from Rosyth, Force E. The Home Fleet was divided into the battlecruisers and the battleships. Force F would go north of the assumed course of the enemy force then move south and Force E would sail north. The two Forces would then execute a pincer movement and trap the enemy force between them. This failed to happen since the German force reversed course and arrived back at Kiel at 0100/10/10/39).
At 1530 hours the 1st BCS comprising HOOD and REPULSE with cruisers AURORA and SHEFFIELD and the destroyers SOMALI, MASHONA, ESKIMO and ASHANTI sailed from Scapa Flow to attain position 63N, 4E.
(At 1720 hours the enemy force was sighted in position 58-50N, 04-40E, steering 034Ό at 18.2 knots).
At 1840 hours the Home Fleet comprising NELSON (Flag), RODNEY, FURIOUS, cruiser NEWCASTLE
and destroyers BEDOUIN, PUNJABI, FAULKNOR, FURY, FORESTER, FAME, FORESIGHT, FORTUNE and FIREDRAKE sailed from Scapa Flow to attain position 61N, 00E. They sailed north east into rapidly worsening weather.
Soon after turning NE, FORTUNE incurred weather damage and detached for the Clyde.

9th – At 0600 hours the battlecruisers arrived in position 63N, 4E and turned south westerly and steered towards the CinC HF.
At 1200 hours in position 61-40N, 1E the 1st BCS RVed with the HF.
At 1225 hours the Home Fleet altered course to 295Ό to cover the Shetlands-Faroes passage.
At 1800 hours the SHEFFIELD was detached for Northern Patrol duties in the Denmark Strait.

10th – At 1050 hours the CinC HF having received no news of the enemy altered course to close the Butt of Lewis.
At 1454 hours the CinC HF received a signal from the Admiralty that the enemy force had passed through the Great Belt early that morning.
At 1500 hours REPULSE, FURIOUS, AURORA, NEWCASTLE and destroyers ESKIMO, SOMALI, MASHONA, ASHANTI, FAME, FORESIGHT, MATABELE, STURDY, FOXHOUND and FEARLESS were detached to proceed to Scapa Flow.
At 2300 hours arrived at Scapa Flow.

12th – At 1734 hours REPULSE escorted by destroyers FAME and FORESIGHT sailed from Scapa Flow for Rosyth.

13th – At 0600 hours REPULSE, FAME and FORESIGHT arrived at Rosyth.
REPULSE entered the dockyard and commenced a boiler clean.

16th – At 1435 hours Nine Junkers Ju-88’s of 1/KG30 from Sylt carried out the first bombing attack on British territory. There target was the HOOD which they believed to be in the Firth of Forth (what their reconnaissance aircraft had seen was the REPULSE). Hitler’s instructions were not to attack the HOOD if she had reached dry dock, as civilian casualties were to be kept to a minimum.
Rosyth dockyard was not attacked; however REPULSE along with other vessels in the yard opened fire on the attackers. The crew of REPULSE believed that they shot down one of the attackers which was not correct. Two of the Ju-88’s were shot down both by RAF Spitfires.
Off Elie Ness, the destroyer MOHAWK was dive-bombed by a JU 88, one of the final wave and was straddled by two 250kg bombs which on exploding scattered splinters causing extensive casualties to personnel on the bridge and upper decks. Sixteen naval personnel were killed including Commander Jolly who died after reaching Rosyth and forty four were wounded.
When MOHAWK tied up alongside at Rosyth, astern of REPULSE
, a party from REPULSE went on board to help with the wounded and the removal of the dead.

18th – At 0300 hours REPULSE with destroyers JERVIS, JERSEY, COSSACK and MAORI departed Rosyth to join the Home Fleet at sea in northern North Sea to cover convoy.
(The Admiralty had intelligence that an attempt was to be made by a large number of German merchant ships to return to Germany via the Denmark Strait or just south of Iceland. The HF had been sailed on 15/10/39 and went as far north as the Arctic Circle. REPULSE sailed to join the HF in the Iceland Faroes gap).
En route COSSACK and MAORI detached and returned to Rosyth.

19th – At 1200 hours REPULSE, JERVIS and JERSEY joined the Home Fleet in the Iceland Faroes gap.

21st – Failing to locate any blockade runners the Home Fleet set course to return to Loch Ewe.

22nd – At 0800 hours the Home Fleet arrived at Loch Ewe.

23rd – At 2300 hours REPULSE and FURIOUS escorted by the destroyers BEDOUIN, PUNJABI, FORESTER and FIREDRAKE sailed from Loch Ewe for the Clyde.

25th – At 0200 hours REPULSE and FURIOUS, FORESTER and FIREDRAKE arrived off Greenock.

26th – At 0430 hours REPULSE and FURIOUS escorted by the destroyers FORESTER, FEARLESS, FOXHOUND, FORESIGHT and FIREDRAKE sailed from the Clyde to cover the Atlantic convoy routes.
(This deployment was in response to the information obtained on 21/10/39 when the Norwegian tanker the MV KONGSDAL arrived at Kirkwall for examination and this gave the first indication to the Admiralty that two Panzerschiffes, pocket battleships were at sea)

27th – The destroyers FORESTER, FEARLESS, FOXHOUND, FORESIGHT and FIREDRAKE detached and returned to the Clyde.

November

4th – REPULSE and FURIOUS arrived at Halifax to provide cover in the western north Atlantic for HX and SC convoys.

17th – Whilst operating in the Atlantic in heavy weather REPULSE sustained damage to her breakwater and FURIOUS had engine trouble which limited her speed to 23 knots.
(At 1800 hours on the 23/11/39 the AMC RAWALPINDI was sunk by
the battlecruisers SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU although at the time it was believed that she had been sunk by the DEUTSCHLAND. The Admiralty immediately organised a number of hunting groups. REPULSE and FURIOUS were designated Group L)

24th - REPULSE and FURIOUS sailed from Halifax and steered for Iceland to hunt for the 'DEUTSCHLAND' and to provide distant cover for convoys HXF10, sailing from Halifax on 25/11/39 and HX10 sailing from Halifax on 26/11/39.
REPULSE and FURIOUS ran into very heavy weather in which REPULSE sustained damage to her Y turret causing both ships to return to Halifax to repair weather damage.

27th - REPULSE and FURIOUS with destroyer HYPERION sailed from Halifax to provide distant cover for convoys HX10 and HXF10.

December

7th – In approximate position 52N, 27W, REPULSE, FURIOUS and HYPERION RV with the liner DUCHESS OF RICHMOND 20,022grt, who was carrying British civilians being evacuated to Canada. REPULSE and FURIOUS and HYPERION then escorted the liner to Halifax.

10th – REPULSE, FURIOUS and HYPERION with the liner DUCHESS OF RICHMOND arrived at Halifax.
After refuelling REPULSE, FURIOUS, cruiser EMERALD and the destroyers HUNTER and HYPERION sailed from Halifax to catch up with convoy TC1. Convoy TC1 consisted of 5 troopships carrying a total of 7450 Canadian troops.

11th – In approximate position 44-50N, 58W REPULSE, FURIOUS, EMERALD, HUNTER and HYPERION caught up with convoy TC1 which had sailed from Halifax on 10/12/39 and was escorted by the battleship RESOLUTION and Canadian destroyers HMCS's OTTAWA, FRASER, RESTIGOUCHE and ST LAURENT.
After joining the convoy REPULSE, FURIOUS and EMERALD moved out ahead and spread out in line abreast to sweep for German raiders.
Later OTTAWA, FRASER, RESTIGOUCHE, ST LAURENT, HUNTER and HYPERION detached and returned to Halifax.

16th – Early in the morning at 16W convoy TC1 was met by the destroyers ESKIMO, BEDOUIN, MASHONA, MATABELE, SOMALI, KANDAHAR, KHARTOUM, KINGSTON, KASHMIR, FEARLESS, ILEX, and IMPULSIVE who then joined the escort as an anti-submarine screen.

17th – At 0300 hours in position 55-30N, 6-54W in fog, the liner RMS SAMARIA 19597grt, en route from Liverpool to New York sailed through the convoy and was in collision with the troopship AQUITANIA 45647grt. The AQUITANIA swept along the starboard side of the SAMARIA crumpling her bridge wing, toppling an anti-aircraft gun from atop the bridge, which lodged against the upper deckhouse, jamming the door and trapping the captain inside and destroying half of the SAMARIA’s out-swung lifeboats. No sooner had the AQUITANIA passed than the FURIOUS proceeded to wreak similar damage on the SAMARIA’s port side and carrying away several of FURIOUS’s antenna.
At 1230 hours REPULSE,
FURIOUS, RESOLUTION and destroyers BEDOUIN, MASHONA, ESKIMO, MATABELE, FEARLESS, ILEX, IMPULSIVE, KANDAHAR, KHARTOUM, KASHMIR and KINGSTON arrived off Greenock.
On arrival in the Clyde REPULSE and FURIOUS rejoined the Home Fleet.

(On 18/12/39 the CinC Home Fleet received a signal from the Admiralty that to regain prestige lost by the sinking of the ADMIRAL GRAF SPEE an attack on the Norwegian convoy HN5 appeared possible. The CinC asked for the sailing of the convoy to be delayed by 48 hours so that he could gain a covering position. However HN5 had already sailed from Bergen but was recalled by the local Norwegian Admiral. Meanwhile the convoy escorts AFRIDI, MAORI, NUBIAN and MOHAWK awaited off the coast)

19th – At 1430 hours the Home Fleet comprising REPULSE, battleship BARHAM and destroyers INGLEFIELD, IMOGEN, ICARUS, ISIS and KHARTOUM sailed from the Clyde to provide cover for convoys HN5 and NV2.

20th – At 1958 hours, as the Home Fleet were nearing the Fair Isle channel, the CinC Home Fleet received a signal from the Admiralty communicating a report from the Naval Attache in Copenhagen of one DEUTSCHLAND class ship proceeding north through the Great Belt at 1634 hours.

21st – At 1425 hours the CinC Home Fleet received a signal from the Admiralty stating that the Naval Attache in Copenhagen now reported that a large German warship passed south through the Great Belt earlier that day. The Fleet remained on patrol in the vicinity of the Fair Isle Channel.

23rd – The destroyers IMOGEN and KHARTOUM detached to refuel at Sullom Voe.

25th – The destroyers ICARUS and ISIS detached to refuel at Sullom Voe.

27th – The destroyer INGLEFIELD detached to refuel at Sullom Voe.

28th – At 0400 hours the patrol was abandoned and course was set to return to the Clyde.
At 1200 hours the destroyer ISIS was detached to pick up 15 survivors from a trawler sunk in position 58-34N, 6-30W.
At 1441 hours in position 58-47N, 8-05W the BARHAM was torpedoed by one of four torpedoes fired by U 30, two of the torpedoes had been aimed at REPULSE but had missed.
REPULSE was ordered to proceed independently at speed for the Clyde.

29th – At 0400 hours REPULSE arrived off Greenock.

 

1 9 4 0

January

4th – The Home Fleet comprising battleship RODNEY Flag, REPULSE and destroyers INGLEFIELD, IMOGEN, ICARUS, MOHAWK, BEDOUIN, KINGSTON, FIREDRAKE and MATABELE sailed from Greenock to patrol in the vicinity of the Shetland Islands to provide distant cover for the Northern Patrol and the Norwegian convoys.

10th – RODNEY, REPULSE and destroyers INGLEFIELD, IMOGEN, ICARUS, MOHAWK, BEDOUIN, KINGSTON and MATABELE arrived back at Greenock.

27th – At 1030 hours the Home Fleet comprising battleship RODNEY Flag, REPULSE and destroyers FAULKNOR, FAME, FEARLESS, FORESIGHT, FORTUNE, FOXHOUND and FURY sailed from Greenock to patrol in the vicinity of the Shetland Islands to provide distant cover for the Northern Patrol and the Norwegian convoys.

31st – At 1500 hours RODNEY, REPULSE and destroyers FAULKNOR, FAME, FEARLESS, FORESIGHT, FORTUNE, FOXHOUND and FURY arrived back at Greenock.

February

6th – REPULSE escorted by destroyers ISIS, KASHMIR, KHARTOUM and KANDAHAR sailed from Greenock for Plymouth.

7th – En route ISIS detached for Falmouth.
REPULSE and destroyers KASHMIR, KHARTOUM and KANDAHAR arrived at Plymouth.

8th – REPULSE crew given leave and she commenced repairs at Devonport.

March

2nd – REPULSE escorted by destroyers HARDY, HOSTILE and VIMY sailed from Plymouth for the Clyde.

3rd - REPULSE and destroyers HARDY, HOSTILE and VIMY arrived off Greenock.

7th – At 1615 hours the battleship RODNEY wearing the flag of CinC Home Fleet and with Winston Churchill embarked, battlecruisers RENOWN and REPULSE and destroyers HARDY (D.2), HOSTILE, INGLEFIELD (D.3), IMOGEN, FOXHOUND, FORTUNE, FIREDRAKE, PUNJABI and KIMBERLEY sailed from the Clyde for Scapa.

8th – At 1230 hours off Cape Wrath the force was joined by destroyers FAULKNOR and FORESTER.
At 1730 hours the force arrived off the Hoxa entrance to Scapa Flow but was unable to enter due to the possible threat from aerial mines. The force remained in the Pentland Firth whilst minesweepers cleared the entrance.

9th – At 1000 hours the force entered Scapa.

19th – At 1500hours battlecruisers REPULSE and RENOWN (Flagship Vice Admiral Whitworth) escorted by destroyers INGLEFIELD (D.3), ILEX, DIANA, DELIGHT of the 3rd DF, BEDOUIN of the 6th DF, FORTUNE of the 8th DF sailed from Scapa Flow.
(This sailing was on Admiralty instructions, following the Luftwaffe attack on the 16/3/40, that the Fleet should be at sea during the moonlight period between 19th and 26th March, because it was thought that the German air force might try to drive the Fleet out of Scapa Flow)
During the period of maximum moonlight the Fleet cruised to the north of the Shetlands and provided heavy cover for the Norwegian convoy HN 20 and ON 21
and the Operation DU activities.

(Operation DU was a sweep by 4 cruisers of the 2nd CS and 8 supporting destroyers into the Skagerrak that was carried out on the 21/22 March)

27th - At 1100 hours RENOWN, REPULSE and destroyers INGLEFIELD, DELIGHT, DIANA, ILEX, FORTUNE and BEDOUIN arrived back at Scapa Flow.

April

7th – At 2015 hours the Home Fleet comprising battleships RODNEY Flag, and VALIANT, REPULSE, light cruisers SHEFFIELD and PENELOPE and the French EMILE BERTIN, with destroyers ESKIMO, PUNJABI, BEDOUIN, KIMBERLEY, JUPITER, CODRINGTON (D.1), GRIFFIN, BRAZEN, ESCAPADE and ELECTRA sailed from Scapa Flow for Norwegian waters, position 61N, 1E.

8th – At 0200 hours the EMILE BERTIN having lost contact with the Fleet turned back to Scapa Flow.
Between 0759 hours and 0904 hours the CinC Home Fleet received signals from the destroyer GLOWWORM stating that she was engaging an enemy force in approximate position 65 06N, 6-20E. After GLOWWORM’s last signal, which faded out, the CinC thought it probable that she had been sunk.

(In fact the GLOWWORM had been sunk by the German heavy cruiser the HIPPER in position 64-13N, 06-28E)

At 0915 hours in approximate position 61-07N, 1E the CinC detached the REPULSE, PENELOPE and destroyers BEDOUIN, KIMBERLEY, PUNJABI and ESKIMO to proceed at their best speed to go to the assistance given by GLOWWORM.
At 1956 hours REPULSE, PENELOPE, with destroyers BEDOUIN, KIMBERLEY, PUNJABI and ESKIMO, who had been detached to assist destroyer GLOWWORM, were ordered north to join the RENOWN force off Vestfjord.

9th – Early in the morning the REPULSE force was joined by the destroyer HOSTILE.
At 1400 hours REPULSE, PENELOPE and destroyers BEDOUIN, KIMBERLEY, PUNJABI, ESKIMO and HOSTILE RVed with the battlecruiser RENOWN off Vestfiord.
PENELOPE was then detached to patrol the entrance to Vestfiord and the rest of the force moved to patrol 30 miles to the west of PENELOPE.

10th – At 0430 hours Captain D2 in HARDY with HUNTER, HAVOCK, HOTSPUR and HOSTILE in company commenced what became known as the first battle of Narvik.
At 0600 hours Vice Admiral Whitworth detached PENELOPE and BEDOUIN, KIMBERLEY, PUNJABI and ESKIMO from his screen to proceed to the assistance of Captain D2.
RENOWN and REPULSE continued to patrol off the Lofoten Islands.

11th - RENOWN and REPULSE continued to patrol off the Lofoten Islands to prevent any interference from German heavy units.

12th - RENOWN and REPULSE continued to patrol off the Lofoten Islands.
At 0730 hours in position 66-27N, 6-00E The RENOWN and REPULSE RVed with the Home Fleet that comprised battleships RODNEY, flying the flag of Admiral Forbes, CinC Home Fleet, VALIANT and WARSPITE, aircraft carrier FURIOUS, cruisers DEVONSHIRE, BERWICK and YORK and destroyers ASHANTI, COSSACK, ZULU, MAORI, ECLIPSE, ESCORT, ISIS, ILEX, IMOGEN, INGLEFIELD, JANUS, JAVELIN, JUNO, FORESTER, FOXHOUND and FAULKNOR.
At 1450 hours VALIANT, REPULSE, JANUS, JAVELIN and JUNO were detached and set course southward to make contact with convoy NP 1 that was steaming north from the Clyde.

13th - VALIANT, REPULSE, JANUS, JAVELIN and JUNO RVed with convoy NP 1. VALIANT detached and joined the convoy, REPULSE, JUNO, JANUS and JAVELIN continued south for Scapa Flow.

14th – At 1200 hours REPULSE and destroyers JUNO, JANUS, JAVELIN arrived at Scapa Flow.

17th – At 0400 hours REPULSE with destroyers HAVELOCK (D.9), HAVANT and FAME sailed from Scapa Flow to RV with the French troop convoy FP1, bound for the Narvik area, and reinforce the escort.
At 1000 hours news was received that the cruiser SUFFOLK had sustained serious bomb damage off Stavanger and was proceeding slowly towards Scapa. RENOWN and REPULSE were ordered to assist SUFFOLK.
REPULSE detached from convoy FP 1 and proceeded through the Fair Isle Channel to join SUFFOLK.
Destroyers TARTAR, JAVELIN, Polish GROM and BLYSKAWICA, which departed Scapa Flow at 1345/17th, anti-aircraft cruiser CALCUTTA and destroyer FURY, and destroyer ECLIPSE from escort duty, joined the battlecruisers.
They were joined at sea by destroyers KIMBERLEY and FORESTER.
At 2100 hours REPULSE detached from the escort of SUFFOLK and rejoined convoy FP1.

19th – REPULSE with convoy FP 1 arrived at Harstad.

22nd - REPULSE and destroyers HAVELOCK, HAVANT and FAME arrived at Scapa Flow.

May

At Scapa Flow throughout the month.

June

At Scapa Flow.

3rd – On this date The Home Fleet units at Scapa Flow were the battleships VALIANT and RODNEY, battlecruisers RENOWN and REPULSE, heavy cruiser SUSSEX, light cruiser NEWCASTLE, destroyers TARTAR, MASHONA, BEDOUIN, ASHANTI, MAORI, ZULU, FORESTER, FOXHOUND, KELVIN, INGLEFIELD, ELECTRA, ENCOUNTER and ESCORT.

5th – At 2130 hours RENOWN Flag, REPULSE, cruisers SUSSEX and NEWCASTLE with destroyers MAORI, FORESTER, FOXHOUND, ZULU and KELVIN sailed from Scapa Flow to investigate a report from the special services ship CAPE HOWE, disguised as RFA PRUNELLA, who reported a sighting at 1130 hours of two unidentified warships northwest of Norway in 64-45N, 00-24W making for Iceland on course 265Ό at 20 knots.
(The CinC Home Fleet considered it possible that the ships reported by PRUNELLA might be raiders attempting to break out or attack the Northern Patrol, or transports with troops for a landing in Iceland or Eire. The CinC Home Fleet made his dispositions accordingly)

6th – At 0705 hours the CinC Battlecruiser Sqd received an amplifying report from the Admiralty stating that PRUNELLA thought the ships sighted were merchant ships, but they were hull down and difficult to identify.
The RENOWN force continued towards the position first given by PRUNELLA. And after a search found nothing.

(When Churchill returned to the Admiralty in September 1939 one of his first moves was to recall Rear Admiral Gordon Campbell VC, DSO and 2 bars, RN for ‘Miscellaneous services at the Admiralty’. Campbell’s task was, in great secrecy, to establish a fleet of Q ships, to be called Special Service Vessels. They were to be used to counter to the submarine threat and also to attempt to decoy enemy surface raiders. The ships were merchant ships taken up from trade and were commissioned under their merchant name and were given cover names of RFA’s. Their conversion included the fitting of an impressive armament outfit and very effective concealing arrangements. When on operations they took on the identity of various merchant ships. The RFA PRUNELLA was in fact the SSV HMS CAPE HOWE pendant number X02, ex the SS CAPE HOWE 4443grt which on 15/9/39 had been taken over by the Admiralty for conversion to a SSV. Because of the secrecy surrounding the establishment of the force and its operation the CinC Home Fleet knew nothing of the activities of the CAPE HOWE. The CinC Home Fleet only discovered the identity of the CAPE HOWE when he telephoned the Admiralty asking about the RFA PRUNELLA)

7th – At 1300 hours the Admiralty informed the CinC Home Fleet that the Brigadier at Reykjavik had reported rumours of an enemy landing on the north east coast of Iceland at Seydisfjordour.
On receipt of the signal the RENOWN force immediately changed course for north east Iceland to investigate the report.

8th - At 0313 hours RENOWN and destroyers ZULU and KELVIN detached and returned to Scapa Flow.
REPULSE, SUSSEX, NEWCASTLE and destroyers MAORI, FORESTER and FOXHOUND continued to search the eastern coast of Iceland.
At 0941 hours REPULSE, SUSSEX, NEWCASTLE and destroyers MAORI, FORESTER and FOXHOUND were ordered to return to Scapa flow when their search was completed.
At midnight the CinC Home Fleet received a telephone call from the Admiralty to say that they considered it was possible that the two merchant ships sighted off south west Iceland might be about to attempt a landing in Eire.

(This appreciation followed the report of 1100/7/6/40 of two unknown vessels in position 63-06N, 20-20W steering westerly)

9th – At 0055 hours SUSSEX and NEWCASTLE were ordered to detach from REPULSE and proceed to investigate the possibility of a landing in Eire
(At 0938 hours the battleship VALIANT signalled the CinC Home Fleet following meeting the hospital ship SS ATLANTIS 15135grt. VALIANT passed on the report of the sinking of the empty troopship SS ORAMA 19840grt in position 67-44N, 03-52E at 0900/8/6/40 by Germany heavy units. The German ship responsible was the heavy cruiser HIPPER).
At 1136 hours, following VALIANT’s signal SUSSEX and NEWCASTLE were ordered to rejoin REPULSE, MAORI, FORESTER and FOXHOUND and all to proceed north easterly to join convoy Group II, which was a troopship convoy sailing south from Harstad.
Later destroyers MAORI, FORESTER and FOXHOUND detached to refuel at Sullom Voe.
SUSSEX and NEWCASTLE detached to provide close cover for the stores and MT convoy that was following convoy Group II

10th – At 0930 hours in approximate position 63N, 4W, REPULSE joined the escort of convoy Group II.
At 1400 hours MAORI and FORESTER joined the escort of convoy Group II.

11th – At 1200 hours in position 59-40N, 05-38W REPULSE and VALIANT with destroyers TARTAR (D.6), BEDOUIN, MAORI, DIANA, ACHERON and FORESTER detached from convoy Group II for Scapa Flow.
At 2240 hours REPULSE and VALIANT with destroyers TARTAR (D.6), BEDOUIN, MAORI, DIANA, ACHERON and FORESTER arrived at Scapa Flow.

18th – At Scapa Flow where her new CO Captain William George Tennant, CB, RN took over. Captain Tennant had been the SNO at Dunkirk where his organisational skills and leadership had been instrumental in the successful evacuation of the BEF and French forces.

21st – At 1220 hours RENOWN (Flag VA Battlecruisers) and REPULSE with destroyers FORESTER, ESCORT, ZULU, INGLEFIELD (D.3) and DIANA sailed from Scapa Flow and steered north east towards the sighting position given by the RAF Hudson, report received at 1120 hours.
At 2200 hours The RENOWN force was in position 60-30N, 02-00E and RENOWN was preparing to launch her aircraft when they were attacked by three He 111’s. At the same time the Admiralty became aware that the SCHARNHORST was entering harbour so the attempted interception by the battlecruiser force was called off.

(This sailing was a result of a sighting report timed 2234/20/6/40 from the submarine CLYDE who reported one battlecruiser, one pocket battleship and one destroyer in position 64-43N, 09-53E, course 335Ό. The sighting report was received by the CinC Home Fleet at 0245/21/6/40 [The enemy force was actually the GNEISENAU, HIPPER and the destroyer KARL GALSTER. Their mission was to attack the northern patrol south east of Iceland and to provide a diversion for the damaged SCHARNHORST escorted by 4 destroyers and 3 torpedo boats to return to Germany] At 2145 hours CLYDE had torpedoed the GNEISENAU hitting her in the starboard bow and forcing the Enemy to abandon their mission and return to Trondheim.

At 1104/21/6/40 in position 61N, 4-14E the SCHARNHORST and her escort were sighted by an RAF Hudson steering south at 25 knots, the enemy force was shadowed for an hour by the Hudson then a RAF Sunderland of 204 Sqd from Sullom Voe took over the shadowing.

At 1504 hours off Utsira Island 6 Swordfish of 821 and 823 Sqds FAA (these were orphans from the GLORIOUS) flying from HMS SPARROWHAWK, RNAS Hatston, attacked the SCHARNHORST with torpedoes, no hits were achieved. Two aircraft were lost one from each Sqd.

At 1515/21/6/40 the RAF attacked the SCHARNHORST with 6 Hudsons of 224 & 233 Sqds from Leuchars, no hits were achieved in part due to the escort of Me 109 and 110 fighters.

At 1530 hours 9 Beauforts of 42 Sqd RAF from Wick, armed with 500Lb AP bombs attacked the SCHARNHORST. The attack was unsuccessful in part due to the escort of Me 109 and 110 fighters.

At 1649 hours off KarmΏy Island 6 Hudsons of 269 Sqd RAF from Wick attacked the SCHARNHORST. The attack was unsuccessful in part due to the escort of Me 109 and 110 fighters.

When the Germans became aware, from intercepted and decoded signals, that the Home Fleet was at sea searching for SCHARNHORST , she was ordered into Stavanger Bay where she anchored at 2110/21/6/40)

22nd – At 1120 hours RENOWN and REPULSE with destroyers FORESTER, ESCORT, ZULU, INGLEFIELD and DIANA arrived back at Scapa Flow.

July

27th – At 1855 hours Force A, comprising the RENOWN (Vice Admiral Battlecruisers) and REPULSE, heavy cruisers, DEVONSHIRE (Vice Admiral J H D Cunningham, flag 1CS, commanding Force A) YORK and AUSTRALIA of the 1st CS, light cruiser SHEFFIELD escorted by destroyers ASHANTI, MASHONA, TARTAR (D6), PUNJABI, FIREDRAKE, FORTUNE, ARROW, ANTHONY, and ACHATES sailed from Scapa Flow in response to reports that German battlecruiser GNEISENAU was breaking back to Germany.

(This sailing was the result of a signal from the Admiralty at 1212/27/7/40 resulting from a report of a reconnaissance of Trondheim harbour by a RAF Blenheim stating the presence of a battlecruiser and 3 cruisers or destroyers preparing to sail. The Admiralty took this to be the GNEISENAU preparing to return to Germany. [The vessels sighted by the Blenheim were in fact merchant ships] GNEISENAU and her escort had sailed, undetected, on 25/7/40 and arrived at Kiel on 28/7/40. Further reconnaissance of Trondheim to confirm the sailing was hampered by misty weather)

At 2000 hours Force A passed the Pentland Skerries and changed course to 062Ό speed 24 knots to pass through position 59N, 1E and thence, if no information was available to position 62N, 3-30E.
At 2312 hours the CinC Home Fleet signalled CinC Force A, that if by 0800/28/7/40 there was no information of the enemy surface force then Force A should be turned to the westward at the discretion of CinC Force A.

28th – At 0400 hours in 60-00N, 01-50E the destroyers MAORI and ZULU joined Force A.
At 0800 hours with no information of enemy surface force course was altered to 290Ό.
At 1257 hours a report was received stating that air reconnaissance of Trondheim had shown it to be clear of warships, following which course was shaped for Scapa.
At 1800 hours DEVONSHIRE detached from Force A and CinC battlecruiser squadron in RENOWN took over command.

29th – At 0620 hours Force A arrived back at Scapa Flow.

30th – At 1800 hours REPULSE with destroyers FORTUNE, ECHO and FIREDRAKE sailed from Scapa Flow for low angle and high angle full calibre firings.

August

At Scapa Flow for the whole month.

September

The CinC Home Fleet was most anxious that the REPULSE should be given a quick docking for which she was overdue, as both the battlecruisers, HOOD and REPULSE, were now so slow in comparison with their German counterparts. Arrangements were completed by the 6/9/40 for REPULSE to be docked at Rosyth on 12/9/40.

6th – At 2225 hours the Admiralty issued a message ordering all cruisers, destroyers and small craft to be kept at immediate notice during the dark hours until further notice also cancelling all boiler cleaning and refits. This was due to the possibility of a German invasion.

7th – At 1300 hours REPULSE, heavy cruisers NORFOLK and BERWICK and destroyers ZULU, SIKH, KASHMIR and KIPLING sailed from Scapa Flow with orders to proceed towards Seydisfiord with moderate dispatch and to carry out a sweep off the east coast of Iceland.

(This sailing was as a result of an Admiralty message timed 0255/7/9/40 in which anxiety was expressed about possible enemy action against Iceland. The message stated that a report graded B3, had been received that German troops in Norway were embarking in large steamers for the invasion of Iceland)

10th – At 2130 hours REPULSE, NORFOLK, BERWICK and destroyers ZULU, SIKH, KASHMIR and KIPLING arrived back at Scapa Flow without having sighted any enemy forces.

28th – At 2015 hours REPULSE flying the flag of Rear Admiral Ronald Hamilton Curzon Hallifax CB RN (Flag Officer Destroyers Home Fleet), heavy cruisers BERWICK and NORFOLK and destroyers MATABELE, PUNJABI, DUNCAN, SOMALI and ESKIMO sailed from Scapa Flow for position 62N, 03-30E to RV with battlecruiser HOOD Flag VA BCS, cruiser NAIAD Flag RA 15th CS and destroyers ZULU, TARTAR and ELECTRA.
(This deployment was based on W/T activity and D/F bearings timed at 1400/28/9/40 of a German heavy cruiser, possibly the HIPPER, escorting a convoy off Norway sixty miles off Stavanger)

29th – At 0909 hours the operation was cancelled and the forces involved returned to port.
At 2330 hours REPULSE, BERWICK and destroyers SOMALI, PUNJABI, ESKIMO, and DUNCAN arrived back at Scapa Flow.

30th – At 0045 hours at Scapa Flow where Rear Admiral Destroyers transferred his flag from REPULSE to the depot ship MAIDSTONE.
At 0130 hours REPULSE escorted by destroyers DUNCAN, ZULU and ELECTRA sailed from Scapa Flow for Rosyth and docking.
(SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU had been located in dry dock. Therefore it was considered an acceptable risk for REPULSE to be docked).
In the Pentland Firth DUNCAN detached to join convoy OA 222.
On entering the Firth of Forth the destroyers ZULU and ELECTRA were sent ahead at high speed as an anti acoustic mine precaution.
At 1300 hours REPULSE, ZULU and ELECTRA arrived at Rosyth.

October

Under repair at Rosyth

20th – At 1030 hours REPULSE escorted by destroyers FEARLESS, ELECTRA and BRILLIANT sailed from Rosyth for Scapa Flow.
At 1630 hours off Rattray Head the destroyers SOMALI, MASHONA and MATABELE joined, following which the destroyers FEARLESS, ELECTRA and BRILLIANT detached.
At 2030 hours REPULSE with destroyers SOMALI, MASHONA and MATABELE arrived at Scapa Flow.

23rd – At 1530 hours battlecruisers HOOD Flag VA BCS and REPULSE, light cruisers DIDO and PHOEBE and destroyers ISIS, MASHONA, BULLDOG, KEPPEL and DOUGLAS sailed from Scapa Flow for anti-aircraft exercises in Pentland Firth and to cover Operation DNU.
On completion of the anti-aircraft exercises the force steered towards Obrestad, Norway to cover the raiding forces.

(Operation DNU was a raid on Norwegian coastal shipping timed to coincide with the last of the October moon.

The raids were to be carried out by the destroyers SOMALI (D6), MATABELE and PUNJABI, who were to operate off Stadlandet; and the anti-aircraft cruisers NAIAD and BONAVENTURE, who sailed from Rosyth at 1000/23/10/40, were to operate off Egersund.

The destroyers sailed from Scapa Flow at 1120/22/10/40 for Sullom Voe. On arrival at Sullom Voe they were to refuel and wait until the following evening.

However during the 22nd there were an unusual number of enemy aircraft reconnoitring the Shetlands. Also German W/T traffic indicated an important movement of surface forces down the Norwegian coast. In view of this activity the Admiralty considered an attack on the Shetlands might be imminent. So SOMALI (D6), MATABELE and PUNJABI were ordered to patrol to the eastward of the Shetlands and the battlecruiser force was sailed to cover and support the raiding forces.

At 1900/23/10/40 the destroyers were ordered to proceed towards 62-23N, 4-50E off Egersund to intercept a group of twenty German fishing vessels escorted by one escort ship. In position 62-29N, 4-23E SOMALI (D6), MATABELE and PUNJABI sank the German weather ship WBS 5 (ex trawler ADOLF VINNEN, 391grt) the WBS 5 had been operating in Kriegsmarine Grid number AE39 to provide weather information for breakouts by the SCHEER and HIPPER)

24th – At 1800 hours REPULSE and destroyers BULLDOG and DOUGLAS arrived back at Scapa Flow.

28th – At 1430 hours Battlecruisers HOOD Flag VA BCS and REPULSE, aircraft carrier FURIOUS, light cruiser SOUTHAMPTON, anti-aircraft cruisers DIDO and PHOEBE, with destroyers MASHONA, SOMALI (D.6), ESKIMO, PUNJABI, DOUGLAS, KEPPEL, CLEVELAND and VIMY sailed from Scapa Flow and steered for position 63N, 6W, then to sweep westwards.

(This deployment resulted from a signal from the British steamer SS MAHOUT 7921grt, who on the evening of 27/10/40 when in position 56-46N, 25-44W, approximately 400 miles west of Rockall, reported that she was being followed by a suspicious vessel. Amplifying reports received twelve hours later revealed that the vessel answered the description of the German cruiser KONIGSBERG and that she had ordered the MANOUT to heave to, but later made off to the north eastward)

29th – At 0000 hours the destroyers CLEVELAND and VIMY were detached to return to Scapa Flow.
The weather during the forenoon was good, enabling an air search to be carried out, which drew a blank. Later in the day the weather grew steadily worse culminating in a hurricane which caused damage to the British ships.
In the hurricane shells came adrift in light cruiser DIDO, causing her turrets to jam. She was forced to detach and put into Fugle Fiord, in the Faeroes for shelter and repairs.

30th – The cruiser SOUTHAMPTON intercepted Finnish freighter the MV BORE X 5058grt. The SOUTHAMPTON turned her over to armed boarding vessel NORTHERN SKY which took the BORE X to Kirkwall.
No other vessels were sighted.

31st – At 2100 hours in the Shetlands-Faeroes gap the destroyer MATABELE joined the battlecruiser force.

November

1st – At 1350 hours HOOD, REPULSE, FURIOUS and destroyers SOMALI (D.6), ESKIMO, MASHONA, PUNJABI and DOUGLAS arrived back at Scapa Flow.

5th - At 2330 hours battlecruisers HOOD and REPULSE, anti-aircraft cruisers PHOEBE, NAIAD and BONAVENTURE with destroyers ESKIMO, MASHONA, MATABELE, ELECTRA, SOMALI and PUNJABI sailed from Scapa Flow for position 52-50N, 32-15W (ADMIRAL SCHEER's last known position).

(This deployment was in response to distress signal from the SS RANGITIKI 16908grt, part of convoy HX 84 received by the Admiralty at 2003/5/10/42, stating she was under attack from a raider of the GRAF SPEE class. Convoy HX 84 was actually under attack by the German Pocket Battleship ADMIRAL SCHEER. Confirmation of the attack was received shortly afterwards from the AMC JERVIS BAY Captain E S F Fegen RN, the sole convoy escort and the SS CORNISH CITY 4952grt, Rear Admiral H B Maltby Convoy Commodore.

The JERVIS BAY held off the SCHEER for 24 minutes before being blown apart and sunk with the loss of 187 of her crew, by the 335 x 280mm shells fired at her by the SCHEER. With darkness falling the SCHEER then went after the 37 merchant ships of the convoy.

The last information received by the Admiralty was from the SS BEAVERFORD 10042grt, Captain E Pettigrew, in position 52-26N, 32-34W, timed at 2147 hours, stating she was being shelled by the ADMIRAL SCHEER. Captain Pettigrew knew that his ship was doomed so he turned to face SCHEER and steamed towards her firing his forward 4in gun. In the darkness the SHEER was unaware of who the attacker was so became cautious and stood off from destroying the BEAVERFORD. But after 5 precious hours the BEAVERFORD was finally sunk along with her entire crew of 97.

The ADMIRAL SCHEER had departed Brunsbuttel on the 27/10/40 and had passed through the Denmark Straits on the night of 31st/1 November)

6th - At 1032 hours the battlecruiser force, was sailing south westerly and was sighted and reported by enemy aircraft.
At 1100 hours when in position 58-18N, 08-36W, off the Isle of Lewis the Admiralty ordered the force to split.
REPULSE, BONAVENTURE and destroyers MASHONA, MATABELE and ELECTRA changed course westward towards German heavy cruiser ADMIRAL SCHEER's last known position.
(HOOD, PHOEBE, NAIAD, SOMALI, ESKIMO and PUNJABI proceeded to cover the approaches to Brest and Lorient)
At 1600 hours The REPULSE force was in position 58-15N, 12-40W.

7th – At 0230 hours in position 56-01N, 23-45W the REPULSE force met and spoke to the tanker MV ERODONA 6207grt, who had been part of convoy HX 84.

8th – At 0400 hours in position 55-08N, 28-30W the BONAVENTURE and destroyer MASHONA detached to search the area of the HX.84 attack for survivors.
At 0630 hours REPULSE and destroyers MATABELE and ELECTRA arrived in position 54-46N, 30-00W they then steered north westward, then towards Iceland. Before finally setting course for Scapa Flow.

10th – The BONAVENTURE and destroyer MASHONA arrived in the general area of the attack on convoy HX.84.

(When BONAVENTURE and MASHONA arrived in the general area of the action the ADMIRAL SHEER was approximately 1500 NM to the south of their position)

11th – At 1100 hours REPULSE and destroyers MATABELE and ELECTRA arrived back at Scapa Flow.

12th – At 1430 hours REPULSE, anti-aircraft cruiser NAIAD Rear Admiral 15thCS and destroyers SIKH, MATABELE, MASHONA and PUNJABI sailed from Scapa Flow and set course north to patrol and provide cover for the Northern Patrol.
At 1830 hours in position 59N, 5W the REPULSE force was joined by the AMC LETITIA from the Clyde. Course was then set for the Iceland –Faeroes passage.

13th – At 1100 hours the destroyer MASHONA was detached to return to Scapa Flow due to the buckling of her forecastle plates.
At 2200 hours in approximate position 65N, 10-30W the NAIAD detached to proceed to Jan Mayen Island and the LETITIA detached to patrol the Iceland –Faeroes passage.
REPULSE with destroyers SIKH, MATABELE and PUNJABI continued north to 66N and establish a patrol to cover the NAIAD and LETITIA.

(The NAIAD was dispatched to Jan Mayen island in response to information received by the Admiralty that the enemy might try to land a small but important armed scientific expedition on the island sometime between the 0600/15/11/40 and 0600/17/11/40.

The NAIAD arrived off Jan Mayen Island At 1000/15/11/40. She then landed a shore party at Jamison Bay that burnt the existing W/T station and destroyed its masts.

At 0430/16/11/40 the naval trawlers ELM and WISTERIA arrived off Jan Mayen to join the NAIAD.

At 0830/16/11/40 NAIAD sighted a trawler steaming up from the south. This vessel proved to be the German Naval trawler WBS 4 [ex trawler HEINRICH FREESE 384grt]. WBS 4 had a crew of 14 plus 10 specialists who were to be landed on Jan Mayen to set up a weather station and intelligence gathering operation. When Lt. Sonderfuhrer Wilhelm Kracke, the captain of WBS 4 sighted the NAIAD he ran his vessel ashore wrecking her and drowning two. The ELM and WISTERIA sent landing parties ashore and rounded up the 22 survivors who were then transferred to the NAIAD)

16th – The destroyer SIKH was detached from REPULSE's screen to refuel at Skaalefjord.

17th - The destroyer SIKH rejoined.

19th – At 0015 hours REPULSE and destroyers MATABELE, MASHONA and SIKH arrived back at Scapa Flow.

December

5th – At 1730 hours REPULSE with destroyers SOMALI (D6), MASHONA, ESKIMO and BEDOUIN sailed from Scapa Flow.

6th – At 0130 hours in position 60N, 6W the REPULSE group joined the 1st Mine Laying Squadron which comprised the minelayers SOUTHERN PRINCE (Flag Rear Admiral R L Burnett RA Minelaying), MENESTHEUS, PORT QUEBEC and AGAMEMNON, escorted by the cruiser ARETHUSA (Flag RA 2CS) and destroyers DOUGLAS, KEPPEL, BATH and ST ALBANS, who had sailed from Kyle of Lochalsh (Port ZA) at 1530/5/40. To provide cover for minelaying mission SN.10 A.

7th – Commencing in the evening and continuing into the 8/12/40, the 1st M/L Squadron laid 2030 mines in minefield SN 10A in the Iceland –Faeroes passage.
The REPULSE group stood off to the north east covering the minelaying operation.

10th – At 1450 hours REPULSE with destroyers SOMALI (D6), MASHONA, ESKIMO and BEDOUIN arrived back at Scapa Flow.
The weather during the operation had been severe and all the destroyers taking part sustained some weather damage.

18th – At 1400 hours the battleship NELSON (Flag Admiral John C Tovey CinC Home Fleet), REPULSE, with destroyers COSSACK (D4), SIKH, TARTAR, BRILLIANT, BULLDOG, BEAGLE, DOUGLAS, ESCAPADE, ELECTRA and ECLIPSE departed Scapa Flow to carry out tactical exercises west of the Orkneys.
(The tactical exercises were timed to take the opportunity offered by the departure of the aircraft carrier FORMIDABLE and heavy cruiser NORFOLK (Force K) for the South Atlantic. Force K escorted by destroyers BEDOUIN, MATABELE, MASHONA and ESKIMO sailed from Scapa Flow at 2000/18/12/40. Also included in the exercises cruisers MANCHESTER (Flag VA 18thCS), EDINBURGH and NIGERIA who had sailed from Scapa Flow ahead of the battlefleet. They were later joined by the battlecruiser HOOD (Flag VA BCS), cruisers ARETHUSA (Flag RA 2CS) and AURORA who had been exercising in the Pentland Firth)

19th – The 18th CS scouted ahead of the Fleet.
During the night of the 18th/19th night encounter exercises were carried out.
At 0800 hours in position 60N, 7W the Fleet was subjected to a series of dummy attacks by Albacores of 826 and 829 squadrons from FORMIDABLE.
Following recovery of her aircraft FORMIDABLE, NORFOLK and destroyers BEDOUIN, MATABELE, MASHONA and ESKIMO detached from the Home Fleet and steered for position 55N, 25W.

20th – 0930 hours the Home Fleet returned to Scapa Flow.

25th – At 1500 hours the REPULSE, cruiser NIGERIA with destroyers SOMALI (D 6), MATABELE, MASHONA and ESKIMO sailed from Scapa Flow and proceed westward to cover convoys HX 97 and SC16.
(The reason for this deployment was the attack by the heavy cruiser HIPPER on convoy WS 5Aat 0738/25/12/40 in position 43-39N, 25-08W. However following the engagement the HIPPER returned to Brest, arriving on 27/12/40)

27th – The NIGERIA detached to join the MANCHESTER to pursue, what turned out to be a false report of a battleship steaming south past the east coast of Iceland. The vessel turned out to be the Danish freighter the MV NORDKAP 4553grt.

28th – In approximate position 58N, 32W the REPULSE group met the AMC WORCESTERSHIRE which had been the sole escort of convoy HX.97. But the convoy had been scattered by a series of gales and WORCESTERSHIRE was no longer in touch with the convoy.

29th – in position 60-05N, 21-50W the Destroyer ESKIMO and the WORCESTERSHIRE detached and proceeded to the Minches.

31st – At 0600 hours REPULSE and destroyers SOMALI and MATABELE arrived back at Scapa Flow

 

1 9 4 1

January

6th – At 0400 hours REPULSE with destroyers BEDOUIN, ELECTRA and ESCAPADE departed Scapa Flow. Destroyer MASHONA should have been part of the escort but when setting out she collided with the destroyer SIKH that was moored at a nearby buoy in Gutter Sound, Scapa Flow. Both vessels sustained considerable damage.
After clearing the Flow, REPULSE and escort set course for 61N, 20W to cover convoy HX 99.

(This deployment resulted from an Admiralty message at 2336/5/1/41 giving information of a D/F bearing of a call sign known to be used by enemy surface raiders. It was thought that a raider might be attempting to return to Germany by the northern passages)

At 2100 hours there having been no further developments the REPULSE and escort were recalled.

7th – At 1940 hours REPULSE with destroyers BEDOUIN, ELECTRA and ESCAPADE arrived back at Scapa Flow.

11th – At 0100 hours the battlecruisers HOOD (VA BCS) and REPULSE, light cruisers EDINBURGH (VA 18th CS) and BIRMINGHAM escorted by destroyers SOMALI, BEDOUIN, TARTAR, ESKIMO, ESCAPADE and ECLIPSE sailed from Scapa Flow and set course for 58-55N, 07-00W. Then to proceed in the general direction 300Ό.

(This deployment resulted from an Admiralty message at 1641/10/1/41 giving information of a D/F bearing 300 miles west of Bloody Foreland leading the Admiralty to believe that an enemy raider was in the area. The RAF provided a Sunderland of 210 Sqd from Oban to operate with the force. At 1230/11/1/41 near Rockall the Sunderland sighted and attacked a Luftwaffe FW 200 causing damage and forcing the FW 200 to return to its base at Bordeaux-Merignac airfield)

At midnight in position 61N, 15W there having been no further developments the force was recalled.

13th – At 0030 hours in the Pentland Firth the force RVed with destroyers ECHO, ELECTRA and KEPPLE. The HOOD then detached escorted by destroyers ECHO, ELECTRA and KEPPLE for Rosyth.
At 0100 hours REPULSE, light cruisers EDINBURGH and BIRMINGHAM with destroyers SOMALI, TARTAR, ESKIMO, BEDOUIN, ESCAPADE, ECLIPSE arrived back at Scapa Flow.

25th – At 2320 hours battleships NELSON and RODNEY, REPULSE, light cruisers ARETHUSA, GALATEA, AURORA of the 2nd CS, MAURITIUS, NAIAD, PHOEBE of the 15th CS, EDINBURGH and BIRMINGHAM of the 18th CS, with destroyers BEDOUIN (T/D.6) MATABELE, TARTAR, PUNJABI, ESCAPADE, ECHO, ELECTRA, BEAGLE, BRILLIANT, KEPPEL and ORP PIORUN sailed from Scapa Flow for position 61-30N, 17-30W to cover the Denmark Strait and the Iceland-Faeroes passage.

(This deployment resulted from an Admiralty message at 1152/25/1/41 giving information of a D/F bearing of an enemy unit between Rockall and the Hebrides. Followed by an Admiralty message at 1751/25/1/41 giving information from the British Naval Attache at Stockholm that two heavy ships believed to be the SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU had passed through the Great Belt northwards during the forenoon of 23/1/41.

The vessels sighted were indeed the SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU, commencing Operation BERLIN, and they passed Utsira Island, 59-18N, 4-53E, northbound at 0300/26/1/41intending to breakout into the Atlantic through the Iceland-Faeroes passage)

27th – At 1200 hours the Fleet was in position 62N, 21-30W, there having been no further news of the enemy the CinC Home Fleet ordered the EDINBURGH (Flag VA 18thCS) to take the RODNEY, BIRMINGHAM, MAURITIUS, BEAGLE, BRILLIANT, KEPPEL and PIORUN under command and return to Scapa Flow.
The CinC Home Fleet with the remainder of the Fleet patrolled in the vicinity of the above position from which Reykjavik could be closed when necessary to fuel his destroyers.

28th – At 0640 hours in approximate position 62-30N, 16W the Fleet was sailing west at 15 knots the 5 cruisers were disposed 30Ό on each bow, 60Ό on each quarter and one astern, with a visibility of 7 miles with occasional snow squalls.
The NAIAD on the port bow sighted what she thought were two large vessels bearing 120Ό at a distance of 7 miles and steering a converging course. NAIAD made an immediate report and at 0649 hours the NAIAD turned towards them and increased speed.

(The vessels sighted by the NAIAD were the SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU. At 0618 hours the NAIAD was picked up on SCHARNHORST’s radar bearing 230Ό at a range of 8.9 miles. Shortly after the radar contact a visual sighting was made and the SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU reversed course)

At 0700 hours the NAIAD had worked up to a speed of 28 knots.
At 0712 hours NAIAD lost sight of the enemy.
At 0738 hours the REPULSE and destroyers BEDOUIN, TARTAR, MATABELE and PUNJABI were ordered to join the NAIAD in pursuit of the enemy vessels.
At 0800 hours the NELSON had worked up to 21 knots and ordered her accompanying cruisers to proceed on a course of 70Ό at their best speed.
At 0830 hours NAIAD reported that at 0800 hours she had been detected and held by a radar echo which later faded, and that she intended to hold her present course of 55Ό until daylight, about 0845 hours, then to search to the south east.

(The SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU made off to the east north east and were lost to the British ships. At 1350 hours in approximate position 63N, 10W GNEISENAU sighted an RAF Sunderland SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU (this would have been from 201 or 204 squadron flying from Sullom Voe) but the aircraft which was flying on an approximate course of 315Ό failed to sight the enemy ships)

At 1400 hours no further reports of the enemy vessels having been received by the CinC Home Fleet ordered the Fleet to concentrate off the south east of Iceland
By 1800 hours the Fleet had reformed and shaped course south to cover convoy HX 103 that was in approximate position 60N, 15W.

29th – At 1000 hours the Home Fleet arrived at a covering position for convoy HX 103.

30th – At 0300 hours west of the Hebrides the Home Fleet set course for Scapa Flow.
At 1700 hours NELSON, REPULSE and destroyers BEDOUIN, MATABELE, TARTAR, ESCAPADE, ELECTRA, ECHO and PUNJABI arrived at Scapa Flow.

February

8th – At 1830 hours light cruiser GALATEA (Flag RA 2ndCS), REPULSE, light cruisers NIGERIA, ARETHUSA and AURORA, with destroyers MATABELE, PUNJABI and ESKIMO sailed from Scapa Flow for position 62-30N, 16-00W. This was to be in position to prevent the ‘HIPPER’ from returning to Germany via the Iceland-Faeroes passage.

(This deployment was ordered following a signal from the Admiralty at 1400/8/2/41 after a report received from the RAMILLIES stating that at 1100/8/2/41 in position 52-55N, 34W, 900 miles west of Slyne Head Ireland, whilst providing cover for Convoy HX l06, 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 Lutjens called off the German action they withdrew at high speed to avoid damage in action with a battleship)

10th – During the afternoon there having been no developments all the forces involved in the operation were ordered back to Scapa Flow, except the REPULSE group, who were ordered to remain on patrol off south east Iceland until 2000/11/2/41.

13th – At 0400 hours REPULSE arrived back at Scapa.

16th – At 2145 hours REPULSE escorted by destroyers INGLEFIELD, MAORI, and ZULU sailed from Scapa Flow for Rosyth for her first refit in twenty three months.

17th – At 1200 hours REPULSE arrived at Rosyth to commence her refit for foreign service.

March

3rd – At 1030 hours REPULSE escorted by destroyers NAPIER (D7), ZULU and BOADICEA departed Rosyth for the Clyde.

4th – At 0500 hours off Cape Wrath the destroyer ZULU detached with engine room defects for Scapa Flow.
At 2200 hours REPULSE with destroyers NAPIER (D7) and BOADICEA arrived off Greenock.

5th - REPULSE, aircraft carrier FURIOUS, (carrying Hurricanes to Takoradi, Operation SUMMER) AMC ALCANTARA, troopship RMS STRATHMORE (23,428grt) escorted by the destroyers VANSITTART, CHURCHILL and HMCS's OTTAWA, and ASSINIBOINE,  sailed from the Clyde for Gibraltar.

6th – West of Ireland ALCANTARA and destroyers VANSITTART, CHURCHILL and HMCS's OTTAWA, and ASSINIBOINE detached. The destroyers made for Scapa Flow.

8th – At 1922 hours the Admiralty signalled CinC Force H that he was to take REPULSE and FURIOUS under his command.

(This ordered followed signal from the MALAYA, escorting convoy SL 67, at 1600Z/8/3/41stating she had sighted two German ships probably the SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU in position 21-37N, 20-21W)

At 2100 hours the CinC Force H ordered REPULSE and FURIOUS to proceed to Gibraltar at maximum speed practicable.
At 2200 hours in approximate position 39N, 15W Destroyers FEARLESS, FORESIGHT, FORTUNE and FOXHOUND RVed with REPULSE, FURIOUS and RMS STRATHMORE.
REPULSE, FURIOUS and destroyer FOXHOUND detached and proceeded ahead to Gibraltar.
RMS STRATHMORE escorted by destroyers FEARLESS, FORTUNE and FORESIGHT followed to Gibraltar.

10th - REPULSE, FURIOUS and destroyer FOXHOUND arrived at Gibraltar. On arrival REPULSE came under the command of CinC Force H.

(This deployment was for REPULSE to provide cover for the Freetown to Liverpool convoy route from attacks by the SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU who were known to be at large in the North Atlantic)

Later in the day REPULSE and FURIOUS escorted by destroyers DUNCAN and FOXHOUND sailed from Gibraltar and proceeded towards Freetown.

15th – In approximate position 13-30N, 20-30W light cruiser DRAGON joined.

17th – REPULSE, FURIOUS and DRAGON escorted by destroyers DUNCAN and FOXHOUND arrived at Freetown.

25th – At 0200 hours REPULSE sailed from Freetown an proceeded to catch up convoy SL 69, that had sailed from Freetown on 23/3/41 and was escorted by the cruiser MAURITIUS, AMC BULOLO and ARAWA the corvettes CLEMATIS and CYCLAMEN and the French sloop FS COMMANDANT DOMINIE.

27th – At 1700 hours 200 miles west of Dakar REPULSE was in contact with convoy SL 69. REPULSE then proceeded ahead to provide distant cover for the convoy.
At 2300 hours REPULSE was joined by FURIOUS, DRAGON and destroyers DUNCAN and FOXHOUND. After joining DRAGON and destroyers DUNCAN and FOXHOUND detached to return to Freetown.

April

2nd – In approximate position 35-50N, 12W the destroyers HIGHLANDER, VELOX and WRESTLER from Gibraltar, RVed with REPULSE, FURIOUS, and troopship SS NARKUNDA 16632grt to escort them into Gibraltar.

3rd - REPULSE, FURIOUS, and troopship SS NARKUNDA escorted by destroyers HIGHLANDER, VELOX and WRESTLER arrived at Gibraltar.

4th – At 0800 hours REPULSE, aircraft carrier ARGUS, and troopship SS NARKUNDA escorted by destroyers HIGHLANDER, FURY and VELOX sailed from Gibraltar for UK.

(This deployment was requested by the CinC Home Fleet)

(At 2311/5/4/41 the Admiralty signalled the CinC Force H that there are indications that the German battlecruisers may leave Brest during the night of 6/4/41. This because on the 5 /4/41GNEISENAU had been moved out of dry dock due to a UXB and moored in mid stream. Early on 6/4/4l, 4Beauforts of 22 Squadron of RAF Coastal Command carried out a torpedo attack on GNEISENAU and aircraft X/22 achieved a hit on the starboard side aft causing considerable damage. On 7/4/41 GNEISENAU was moved back into dry dock)

5th – At 0730 hours FURIOUS escorted by destroyers FAULKNOR and FORTUNE joined the REPULSE group. Following which FAULKNOR detached to re-join Force H.

6th – At 0011 hours the Admiralty signalled the REPULSE to continue in execution of present orders. Further instructions will follow.
At 1529 hours the Admiralty signalled the CinC Home Fleet, who was in position 45-26N, 16-06W, to release the cruiser LONDON to RV with REPULSE and take over the escort of ARGUS, FURIOUS and NARKUNDA. The LONDON was detached at 1830 hours.

7th – At1100 hours in position 41N, 22-30W the cruiser LONDON joined and took over the escort.
Following which REPULSE and destroyers HIGHLANDER, FURY and FORTUNE detached to proceed to position 45N, 21W to RV with the battleship QUEEN ELIZABETH.
VELOX also detached and returned to Gibraltar.

8th – At 0800 hours REPULSE destroyers HIGHLANDER, FURY and FORTUNE and the battleship QUEEN ELIZABETH RVed in position 46N, 21W.
At 1859 hours REPULSE and destroyers HIGHLANDER, FURY and FORTUNE detached to return to Gibraltar.

11th – At 2230 hours, off the Strait of Gibraltar the destroyer FURY detached.

12th – At 0100 hours REPULSE and destroyers HIGHLANDER and FORTUNE arrived at Gibraltar.

13th – At 1600 hours REPULSE escorted by destroyers HIGHLANDER and FORTUNE sailed from Gibraltar for 41N, 16-30W. Then to patrol to the west of 16W.

15th – At 1800 hours arrived in patrol position.

19th – At 1000 hours REPULSE left her patrol area to refuel at Gibraltar.

20th – REPULSE RVed with destroyers FEARLESS and KASHMIR who had sailed from Gibraltar to escort her through the Strait.

21st – At 0900 hours REPULSE escorted by destroyers FEARLESS and KASHMIR arrived at Gibraltar. REPULSE refuelled as quickly as possible so she could resume the ay of Biscay patrol.
At 1900 hours REPULSE departed Gibraltar for the Clyde with all possible despatch. This was so she could be the ocean escort for convoy WS 8A.

26th – At 0400 hours REPULSE arrived off Greenock and immediately commenced refuelling.
At 2000 hours REPULSE the cruiser NAIAD, AMC PRETORIA CASTLE and destroyers LEGION, HMCS OTTAWA, RESTIGOUCHE and SAGUENAY and ORP PIORUN sailed from the Clyde with the Clyde section of convoy WS 8A.

27th – At 0600 hours in position 55-36N, 6-37W the Liverpool and Clyde sections of convoy WS 8A joined and the 15 vessels of the convoy formed up.

29th – At 1020 hours in approximate position 53-30N, 21-30W the destroyers BEAGLE and ERIDGE were detached to investigate an unknown merchant ship then to join escort of convoy SL 71.
At 1110 hours the destroyer HURRICANE was detached to search for lifeboats that had been sighted by a RAF Catalina of 209 or 240 Sqd. from Loch Erne, 80 miles to the south west of WS 8A.

(The sighting was of the 452 survivors from the SS CITY OF NAGPUR 10146grt, en route to India with 478 passengers and crew on board, torpedoed by U 75 at 0200/29/4/41 in position 52-30N, 26W. The HURRICANE picked up the survivors at 2300/29/4/41and landed them at 1700/2/5/41 at Gourock Pier)

At 1430 hours destroyers OTTAWA, RESTIGOUCHE, SAGUENAY, LEGION and PIORUN detached and returned to the UK.

May

2nd – At 1200 hours the cruiser MAURITIUS joined convoy WS 8A from Gibraltar.

3rd – At 1430 hours in position 39-30N, 21-25W the convoy divided. The 10 vessels of convoy WS 8A continued south.
The REPULSE, NAIAD, HAVELOCK, HESPERUS and HARVESTER together with the CLAN CHATTAN, CLAN CAMPBELL, CLAN LAMONT, EMPIRE SONG and NEW ZEALAND STAR detached and set course for Gibraltar. The five merchant ships on passing into the Mediterranean were to form the TIGER convoy.

(On the 20/4/41the ships of convoy WS 8A were embarking troops in the UK for the Middle East. Included in the convoy were five 15 knot MT ships loaded with 295 tanks and 53 crated Hurricanes. On the same day General Wavell sent a message to the CIGS in London, telling them of his inferiority in armoured vehicles, and that the situation was to get worse. When Churchill saw the message, he decided to make a bold stroke and send the ships carrying the tanks through the Mediterranean to Egypt. The Admiralty was opposed; Admiral Cunningham thought the risks were acceptable, despite the increased air threat from the Luftwaffe Fliegerkorps X. At Churchill’s insistence the operation, code named TIGER went ahead)

5th – At 0400 hours in position 35-30N, 9W the battleship QUEEN ELIZABETH and destroyers VELOX, FEARLESS, FORESIGHT and FORTUNE from Gibraltar joined the TIGER convoy. Following which REPULSE, NAIAD, HAVELOCK, HESPERUS and HARVESTER detached and proceeded ahead to Gibraltar.
At 1730 hours REPULSE, NAIAD, HAVELOCK, HESPERUS and HARVESTER arrived at Gibraltar.

8th – The REPULSE, aircraft carrier ARGUS and troopships EMPRESS OF JAPAN and MONARCH OF BERMUDA sailed from Gibraltar for the UK.

15th - REPULSE, ARGUS and troopships EMPRESS OF JAPAN and MONARCH OF BERMUDA arrived in the Clyde.

21st – At 1315 hours a RAF Spitfire from Wick PRU piloted by PO Michael Suckling, sighted and photographed the German battleship BISMARCK and heavy cruiser PRINZ EUGEN in Grimstad Fjord near Bergen.
At 1830, all available Home Fleet warships came to two hours' notice for sailing as a result of the air reconnaissance sighting.
REPULSE had been assigned to escort convoy WS 8B but this was cancelled and she was put at the disposal of the CinC Home Fleet.

22nd – At 1600 hours REPULSE escorted by destroyers LEGION and HMCS SAGUENAY and ASSINIBOINE. Course was set to RV with the CinC Home Fleet off the Butt of Lewis.

23rd – At 1200 hours in approximate position 60N, 8W, REPULSE and destroyers LEGION, SAGUENAY and ASSINIBOINE RVed with the CinC Home Fleet in the battleship KING GEORGE V with aircraft carrier VICTORIOUS, light cruisers GALATEA (RA 2CS), AURORA, KENYA and HERMIONE and destroyers ACTIVE, PUNJABI, NESTOR, WINDSOR, INGLEFIELD (D3) and INTREPID. Course was then set for the south of Iceland.
At 1922 hours in the Denmark Strait the heavy cruiser SUFFOLK sighted the BISMARCK at a range of 7 miles and sent off a sighting report. However the sighting report was only picked up by the heavy cruiser NORFOLK (RA 1CS).
At 2032 hours the NORFOLK sent off a sighting report that was received by the CinC Home Fleet who was in approximate position 60-20N, 13W.
At 2045 hours the battlefleet altered course to 280Ό and increased speed to 27 knots.

24th – At 0600 hours the battlecruiser HOOD was hit by a shell from BISMARCK and blew up.
At 0600 hours the CinC Home Fleet with the battlefleet was in approximate position 60N, 22W. This was about 350 NM south easterly of the position of the HOOD’s sinking.
At 0800 hours the battlefleet alter course to 260Ό and later to 240Ό.
At 1509 hours the VICTORIOUS, GALATEA RA 2CS, AURORA, KENYA and HERMIONE were detached to steer the best course to get within 100 miles of the enemy and carry out an air strike on BISMARCK.
By 2400 hours all the escorting destroyers had detached to refuel at Hvalfjord.

25th – At 0013 hours the CinC Home Fleet signalled to RA 1CS in NORFOLK that he hoped to engage the BISMARCK, with KING GEORGE V and REPULSE at about 0900/25/5/41, which was about Sunrise, from the eastward.
The CinC then signalled REPULSE, who’s armour was inferior to the HOOD’s, that in the engagement she was to keep 5000 yards outside of him and not to engage until KING GEORGE V had opened fire.
At 0306 hours the SUFFOLK lost contact with BISMARCK, but didn’t immediately report the loss of contact. Contact was lost because BISMARCK turned on to a south easterly course.
At 0401 hours SUFFOLK reported the loss of contact.
At 0600 hours, the CinC Home Fleet working on the assumption that BISMARCK was still steering southerly, continued steering south westerly in KING GEORGE V with REPULSE, crossed ahead the new track of the BISMARCK who was now steering south easterly, at about 100 miles ahead of BISMARCK.
At 1000 hours in approximate position 54N, 36W REPULSE, who was short of fuel, detached for Conception Bay, Newfoundland. Because of shortage of fuel REPULSE could only steam at 8 to 10 knots.

27th – At 2200 hours arrived at Conception Bay, Newfoundland and commenced refuelling.
Whilst at Conception Bay, William Tennant, Captain of REPULSE, to help the local community and the ships company, purchased out of his own pocket fresh salmon for the whole ship’s compliment.

31st – REPULSE sailed from Conception Bay to RV with convoy HX 129. In approximate position 46N, 50W REPULSE joined the AMC CHITRAL as the ocean escorts for convoy HX 129.

June

4th – In approximate position 58N, 34W the heavy cruiser SUFFOLK joined the convoy, following which REPULSE detached and returned to Conception Bay.

6th – Arrived back at Conception Bay and commenced refuelling.

7th - REPULSE sailed from Conception Bay for Halifax.

9th – REPULSE arrived at Halifax.

21st – REPULSE sailed from Halifax in company with battleship RAMILLIES and destroyers HMCS ASSINIBOINE, SKEENA and ST LAURENT and BUXTON and HAVELOCK escorting troop convoy TC 11. A convoy of six troopships with a total of 12771 Canadian troops embarked.

24th – The destroyers ASSINIBOINE, SKEENA and ST LAURENT detached for St John’s.

26th – The Dutch cruiser HNethMS HEEMSKERK joined the convoy.

27th – RAMILLIES and HAVELOCK detached from convoy TC 11 for Hvalfjord.

28th – The destroyers ACHATES, ACTIVE, ANTELOPE, INGLEFIELD, INTREPID and SHERWOOD joined convoy TC 11 from Hvalfjord.

July

2nd – At 2330 hours in the North Channel the destroyers BUXTON and SHERWOOD detached for Londonderry.

3rd – At 0800 hours REPULSE, HEEMSKERK, and destroyers INGLEFIELD, ACHATES, ACTIVE, ANTELOPE, and INTREPID arrived in the Clyde with convoy TC 11.
At 1400 hours REPULSE escorted by Destroyers INGLEFIELD and ACHATES sailed from Greenock for Scapa Flow.

4th – At 1000 hours REPULSE escorted by Destroyers INGLEFIELD and ACHATES arrived at Scapa Flow.

18th - REPULSE, escorted by destroyers ICARUS, ACTIVE, and ACHATES departed Scapa Flow for Rosyth.

19th – At 0730 hours REPULSE and destroyers ICARUS, ACTIVE, and ACHATES arrived at ROSYTH.
At Rosyth she underwent a short refit, during which she had  a type 284 surface gunnery set fitted. Due to the tight schedule when REPULSE sailed for Scapa Flow she still had dockyard workers on board completing the installation of the type 284.

August

At Rosyth under refit.

15th – At 0720 hours REPULSE escorted by the destroyers IMPULSIVE, ECLIPSE and ACTIVE sailed from Rosyth for Scapa Flow.
At 1900 hours REPULSE, IMPULSIVE, ECLIPSE and ACTIVE arrived at Scapa Flow.

16th – At Scapa Flow where the installation of the type 284 radar was completed, and a programme of working up commenced.

(At this time the situation in the Far East was causing concern. On 29/7/41 the Kato-Darlan protocol was signed at Vichy. This protocol gave the Japanese the right to station its troops in southern French Indochina and use Saigon and Camranh Bay as naval bases. The Japanese immediately took advantage of the protocol and they moved into southern Indochina but left the Vichy bureaucracy in place under the Vichy Governor General Admiral Decoux.

This deployment put the Japanese within 500 miles of Malaya. The whole question of reinforcing the Far East was reviewed by the joint Planning Committee and the Ministries in London. The Chiefs of Staff recommended that by mid September, one battleship from the Mediterranean and by the end of the year the four R class battleships should follow. But Churchill would not accept this suggestion he wanted a strong striking force of modern battleships to be sent east.

So the argument continued. Meanwhile it was agreed that the REPULSE would form part of the escort to convoy WS 11as far as Cape Town)

In August, 1941, the whole question of reinforcing the Far East was reviewed by the joint Planning Committee and the Ministries in London

29th – REPULSE, cruiser SHEFFIELD and destroyers LIGHTNING, BADSWORTH and VIVACIOUS sailed from Scapa Flow for the Clyde.

30th – At 1000 hours REPULSE, SHEFFIELD and destroyers LIGHTNING, BADSWORTH and VIVACIOUS arrived at Greenock.
Whilst at Greenock REPULSE embarked 6 type 286P, air warning, radar sets. One of the sets was fitted in REPULSE on the passage to Freetown by the ships staff. The other 5 sets were for the aircraft carrier HERMES and other ships in the Indian Ocean.

31st – At 0400 hours REPULSE, aircraft carrier FURIOUS, cruiser SHEFFIELD ant-aircraft cruiser CAIRO, destroyers COSSACK D4, ZULU, LEGION, LIVELY, HNethMS ISAAC SWEERS, HIGHLANDER, ORP PIORUN and ORP GARLAND sailed from the Clyde for a position off Orsay.
At 0600 hours en route to Orsay the FURIOUS suffered an engine room defect and escorted by the destroyer LIVELY she put into Bangor for repairs.
At 1100 hours arrived off Orsay where the Clyde section convoy WS 11was forming up with the Bristol Channel/Liverpool section. The convoy comprised 10 Troopships, MOOLTAN, EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA, NORTHUMBERLAND, ABOSSO, ORONTES, SCYTHIA, VICEROY OF INDIA, HMS LARGS BAY, DUCHESS OF YORK and OTRANTO with a total of 24430 troops embarked; 8 MT ships, KINA II, BHUTAN, BARRISTER, GLAUCUS, CITY OF EDINBURGH, GLENORCHY, CITY OF MANCHESTER, and MANCHESTER PROGRESS. Plus the netlayer HMS GUARDIAN.
After forming up the convoy escort was increased by the destroyer WINCHELSEA, sloop HMIS SUTLEJ, and escort sloops TOTLAND and SENNEN.
The convoy then set course westerly into the Atlantic.

September

1st – At 1400 hours in approximate position 54-30N, 17-30W WINCHELSEA detached.

2nd – At 1000 hours in approximate position 53-30N, 21-20W FURIOUS and LIVELY rejoined convoy WS 11.
At 1730 hours SHEFFIELD detached for Scapa Flow.
At 2000 hours in approximate position 51-30N, 23W CAIRO, COSSACK , ZULU, HIGHLANDER, GARLAND, PIORUN and ISAAC SWEERS detached from WS 11 to return to the Clyde.

4th – At 1100 hours in approximate position 44-41N, 25-28W, FURIOUS, LEGION and LIVELY detached from WS 11 for Gibraltar.
At 1300 hours in approximate position 43N, 25-28W the destroyer HMAS NESTOR joined from Gibraltar, following which convoy WS 11 split into fast WS 11F and slow WS 11S divisions.
REPULSE and NESTOR formed the escort of WS 11F which comprised MOOLTAN, EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA, KINA II, ORONTES, SCYTHIA, VICEROY OF INDIA, HMS LARGS BAY, HMS GUARDIAN, DUCHESS OF YORK, BHUTAN, CITY OF EDINBURGH, OTRANTO and GLENORCHY

5th – NESTOR detached to refuel at Ponta Delgada.
NESTOR rejoined. And the destroyer ENCOUNTER joined from Gibraltar.

6th – In a message from the Admiralty, REPULSE was informed that from the date of her arrival at Durban she would join the East Indies Station.

12th – The convoy was joined by the destroyers VELOX and WRESTLER and the corvette STARWORT.

13th – At 1200 hours convoy WS 11F arrived at Freetown.

15th – Convoy WS 11S arrived at Freetown.

18th – At 1400 hours REPULSE, DERBYSHIRE and destroyers WRESTLER and VELOX sailed from Freetown escorting convoy WS 11 which now comprised, DUCHESS OF YORK, CITY OF MANCHESTER, NIEUW ZEELAND, CITY OF EDINBURGH, KINA II, LARGS BAY, VICEROY OF INDIA, ORONTES, GLAUCUS, BHUTAN, GLENORCHY, MOOLTAN, EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA, SCYTHIA, OTRANTO, BARRISTER and MANCHESTER PROGRESS.

20th – The destroyers WRESTLER and VELOX detached from WS 11 and returned to Freetown.

23rd – REPULSE detached from WS 11 to refuel at St Helena.

25th – REPULSE rejoined WS 11.

29th – At 1300 hours DERBYSHIRE with DUCHESS OF YORK, CITY OF MANCHESTER, NIEUW ZEELAND, CITY OF EDINBURGH, KINA II, LARGS BAY, VICEROY OF INDIA, ORONTES, GLAUCUS, BHUTAN and GLENORCHY detached for Cape Town.

October

3rd – REPULSE with MOOLTAN, EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA, SCYTHIA, OTRANTO, BARRISTER and MANCHESTER PROGRESS arrived at Durban.

7th – At 1400 hours REPULSE with DILWARA, CITY OF CANTERBURY, PULASKI, EASTERN PRINCE, LLANDAFF CASTLE, NIEUW HOLLAND, BARRISTER and MANCHESTER PROGRESS sailed from Durban.

8th – At 1000 hours in approximate position 29-20S, 36-10E REPULSE and her charges RVed with DERBYSHIRE with DUCHESS OF YORK, CITY OF MANCHESTER, NIEUW ZEELAND, CITY OF EDINBURGH, KINA II, LARGS BAY, VICEROY OF INDIA, ORONTES, GLAUCUS, BHUTAN and GLENORCHY.
DERBYSHIRE then detached for Durban and the reconstituted convoy WS 11 then formed into 6 columns and steered for the Mozambique Channel.

11th – The troopship JOHANN DE WITT, delayed at Durban, joined convoy WS 11.

13th – At 1500 hours in approximate position 6S, 41-30E the cruiser CERES joined convoy WS 11 from Mombasa. Following which REPULSE detached for Mombasa.

14th – At 0200 hours REPULSE arrived at Mombasa.
On arrival at Mombasa she joined the aircraft carrier HERMES and the cruiser EMERALD to form Force T. For the remainder of October Force T operated out of Mombasa searching for German raiders.

November

1st – REPULSE sailed from Mombasa for Durban.

5th – REPULSE arrived at Durban.
Whilst in Durban, the South African Prime Minister Jan Smuts visited REPULSE and addressed the crew.

8th – REPULSE sailed from Durban escorting convoy WS 12 which comprised 9 troopships and 3 MT ships.
In position 29-35S, 34-06E the Durban section of WS 12 RVed with the Cape Town section escorted by the AMC DUNNOTTAR CASTLE. Following which the DUNNOTTAR CASTLE detached for Durban.

14th – At 0700 hours in position 5-10S, 44E the battleship REVENGE joined convoy WS 12, following which REPULSE detached for Mombasa.
At 2330 hours REPULSE arrived at Mombasa.

15th – REPULSE sailed from Mombasa for Colombo.

22nd – REPULSE arrived at Colombo.

26th – REPULSE sailed from Colombo for Trincomalee.

27th – REPULSE arrived at Trincomalee.

(On the 28/11/41 the United States Naval and Military authorities in Washington ordered their forces in the Pacific to assume the first state of readiness. Also on this date the Japanese became aware of the arrival of the PRINCE OF WALES in Colombo. Following which PRINCE OF WALES and REPULSE would head for Singapore. In response to this intelligence the Japanese sent a further 26 torpedo equipped Mitsubishi G4M’s (Betty) aircraft to Indo-China to reinforce those already there )

29th – At 1800 hours REPULSE sailed from Trincomalee to RV with the battleship PRINCE OF WALES.

30th – At 1000 hours in approximate position 6N, 83E, REPULSE RVed with the PRINCE OF WALES and destroyers JUPITER, ENCOUNTER, ELECTRA and EXPRESS. Captain Tenant of the REPULSE as senior officer took command of the force which was designated Force G. Course was then set for Singapore.

December

2nd – At 1200 hours the force arrived at Sembawang naval dockyard, Singapore; on arrival the force was designated Force Z.
REPULSE entered dry dock for a quick bottom scrape.

 

3rd – An undetected Japanese reconnaissance aircraft located Force Z at Singapore.

 

5th – REPULSE escorted by the destroyers TENEDOS and HMAS VAMPIRE sailed from Singapore for Darwin for a 'showing the flag' visit to Australia.

 

6th – At 1330 hours en route to Darwin, REPULSE and her escort were recalled to Singapore.

(At 1030 hours three Lockheed Hudson reconnaissance aircraft of No. 1 RAAF Squadron took off from Kota Bharu, Malaya, on a reconnaissance flight over the South China Sea. One of these aircraft sighted the Japanese invasion fleet and reported as follows:

1212 hours 3 ships in position 7-51N, 105- 00E, course 310 degrees.

1246 hours 25 ships escorted by 6 cruisers, 10 destroyers, in position 8N, 106-08E., course 270 degrees.
1300 hours 10 ships escorted by 2 cruisers, 10 destroyers, in position 7-40N, 106-20E, course 270 degrees.  
1835 hours 1 cruiser, 1 transport, in position  8N
, 102-30E.
The cruiser opened fire on the Hudson.

The actual forces employed by the Japanese were 28 transports escorted by the light cruiser SENDAI (flag, Rear-Admiral Hashimoto), 10 destroyers, 6 minesweepers and 3 submarine chasers. This force moved into the Gulf of Siam.

The whole Southern Expeditionary Force was commanded by Vice-Admiral Ozawa, with his flag in the heavy cruiser CHOKAI with the 7th cruiser division of the heavy cruisers KUMANO (Flag Vice-Admiral Kurita), SUZUYA, MIKUMA and MOGAMI and four destroyers in support.

Off the south-east coast of Indo-China, were the battleships KONGO, HARUNA, heavy cruisers ATAGO (flag Vice-Admiral Kondo) and TAKAO and 10 destroyers.

Following receipt of these reports Rear-Admiral A. F. E. Palliser, RN, DSC, Admiral Phillips Chief of Staff ordered the recall of REPULSE and her escorts)

7th – At 1200 hours REPULSE, TENEDOS and VAMPIRE arrived back at Sembawang naval dockyard.

 

8th –

(At 0025 hours Japanese Forces commenced landing at Kota Bharu)

At 0400 hours there was an air raid by 17 Japanese aircraft on Singapore and the naval dockyard. REPULSE and the PRINCE OF WALES provided AA fire. No enemy planes were shot down and no damage was done to the warships.

(During the day Admiral Phillips formulated what Force Z's reaction was to be to the landings. The operation he planned was an isolated surprise attack which, if successful, would relieve the pressure on our troops and might throw the Japanese plan seriously out of gear. The plan called for all available naval units to sail from Singapore to attack the invasion forces)

At 1735 hours Force Z comprising the PRINCE OF WALES, REPULSE and the destroyers ELECTRA, EXPRESS, TENEDOS and HMAS VAMPIRE (these vessels comprised all the effective forces at Admiral Phillips' disposal) sailed from Sembawang naval dockyard and after clearing Singapore Strait, Force Z steered north easterly to past east of the Anamba Islands in order to avoid possible minefields.

(At the time of sailing all seven of the Siamese landing areas had been occupied practically without resistance. Only at Kota Bharu in Malaya had there been any resistance, the assault troops were stoutly opposed by the 3/17th battalion of the Dogra Regiment of the 8th Indian Brigade of the 9th Indian Division)

 

(Shortly after departure the CinC signalled Force Z:-

1. Besides a minor landing at Kola Bharu which was not followed up, landings have been made between Pattani and Singora and a major landing 90 miles north of Singora.

2. Little is known of enemy naval forces in the vicinity. It is believed that KONGO is the only capital ship likely to be met.  Three Atago type, one Kako type, and two Zmiu type cruisers have been reported.  A number of destroyers possibly of fleet type are likely to be met.

3. My object is to surprise and sink transports and enemy warships (before air attack can develop).  Objective chosen will depend on air reconnaissance. Intend to arrive at the objective after sunrise tomorrow 10th. If an opportunity to bring KONGO to action occurs this is to take precedence over all other action.

4. Subject to Commanding Officer's freedom of manoeuvre in an emergency Force Z will remain in close order and will be manoeuvred as a unit until action is joined. When the signal "Act independently" is made or at discretion of  Commanding Officer, REPULSE will assume freedom of manoeuvre remaining in tactical support but engaging from a wide enough angle to facilitate fall of shot.

5. Intend to operate at 25 knots unless a chase develops and subsequently to retire at maximum speed endurance will allow.

6. Capital ships should attempt to close below 20,000 yards until fire is effective but should avoid offering an end on target. Ships must be prepared to change from delay to non-delay fuses according to target.

7. PRINCE OF WALES and REPULSE are each to have one aircraft fuelled and ready to fly off if required. If flown off aircraft must return to land base. Kota Bharu aerodrome is understood to be out of action.

8. TENEDOS will be detached before dark to return independently to Singapore.

9. Remaining destroyers may be detached during the night 9th/10th should enemy information require a high speed of advance. In such case these destroyers are to retire towards Anamba Island at 10 knots until a rendezvous is ordered by W/T)

9th – At 0125 hours Force Z was informed by signal from Singapore confirming that the air reconnaissance asked for had been arranged, but stated that owing to the military situation fighter protection off Singora on 10/12/41, would not be possible.
At 0400 hours Force Z altered course to the northward.
At 0620 hours a lookout on VAMPIRE briefly sighted an enemy aircraft through the rain squalls and low cloud.
At 1343 hours in approximate position 5N, 106E, Force Z was sighted by the Japanese submarine I-65.

 (The submarine made the sighting report 'two enemy battleships, course 310¼, speed 14 knots'. Due to poor reception and decoding problems the message did not reach Vice Admiral Ozawa until 1540 hours.

The report reached the 22nd Air Flotilla, based in the vicinity of Saigon, at about 1600 hours. The Flotilla was highly trained in bombing and torpedo attacks. It consisted of three groups, the Genzan and Mihoro Groups, each equipped with 36 Mitsubishi G3M3/3's (Nell) Type 96 bombers, range 2125 miles, bomb load 1100 lb; and the Kanoya Group, which had recently acquired 26 of the new Mitsubishi G4M1's (Betty) Type 1 bombers, range 3075 miles, bomb load 2200 lb.

At the time the submarine's report was received, the Air Flotilla was bombing up for an attack on Singapore. Orders were given to exchange bombs for torpedoes as quickly as possible, but the change-over was not completed till 1800 hours, by which time it was getting dark. The menace to the invasion transports, however, was considered so grave that it was decided to attempt a night attack. Owing to bad weather the aircraft failed to find Force Z; all returned safely to their base at around midnight)

Between 1700 and 1830 hours the weather cleared and three Japanese naval reconnaissance aircraft were sighted by the PRINCE OF WALES.
(This meant that all hopes of surprise had been lost, and a heavy air attack off Singora had to be anticipated. Under these circumstances Admiral Philips decided that the risk was unjustifiable and that he decided to abort the mission)

At 1835 hours in approximate position 6-10N, 106E, TENEDOS, who was running short of fuel, was detached to return to Singapore.

(At 1635 hours TENEDOS was given the following message 'request destroyers to meet Force Z off the Anamba Islands at dawn, 11th December' which she was to transmit to Singapore at 0800/10/12/41)

1800 hours Sunset.
1822 hours end of civil twilight.
At 1850 hours Force Z turned on to north westerly course, possibly to mislead the shadowing aircraft.
At approximately 1930 hours lookouts on ELECTRA reported sighting a flare an estimated 5 miles to the north.

(At this point the Japanese 7th cruiser division was approximately 15 miles to the north of Force Z and were just turning on to a north easterly course away from Force Z. The flare sighted by ELECTRA had been dropped by a Japanese reconnaissance aircraft searching for Force Z who had mistaken the CHOKAI for one of the British ships)

At 2015 hours Force Z turned onto a southerly course.
At 2055 hours Admiral Philips sent the following signal to his commanders: "I have most regrettably cancelled the operation, because having been located by aircraft, surprise was lost and our target would be almost certain to be gone by the morning and the enemy fully prepared for us".
Captain Tennant of the REPULSE immediately signalled the Admiral that he appreciated the difficulty of this decision and agreed with it.
At 2335 hours Admiral Philips received a signal reporting an enemy landing at Kuantan, 150 miles to the south of Kota Bharu. Since Kuantan was a key military position of great importance Philips decided to investigate the report.

 

10th – At 0052 hours in approximate position 5N, 105-50E, Force Z turned on to a south westerly course towards Kuantan and increased speed to 25 knots.
At 0221 hours the Japanese submarine I 58 sighted Force
Z. She at once attacked and fired five torpedoes at the lead ship, the PRINCE OF WALES, all missed. I 58 then surfaced and sent off a sighting report and followed at 16 knots, but finally lost contact at 0305 hours.
0608 hours start of civil twilight.
0630 hours Sunrise.
At 0630 hours Force Z was in approximate position 4-15N, 104-30E,
the sun had just risen when lookouts on REPULSE sighted an aircraft. (Captain Tennant later referred to this definitely as an "enemy reconnaissance aircraft". However no Japanese aircraft was in the area at the time).
At 0730 hours PRINCE OF WALES flew off one of her Walrus aircraft to carry out a reconnaissance of Kuantan.
At 0800 hours Force Z was off Kuantan. The report from the Walrus of no enemy activity, so EXPRESS was detached to also have a look. EXPRESS signalled 'all as quite as a wet Sunday afternoon'.
At 0830 hours EXPRESS rejoined Force Z and course was set to the south. Shortly afterwards course was altered to the north east then to the east.
At 1026 hours an enemy aircraft bearing 220 degrees  was picked up by REPULSE's radar. This was a Nell reconnaissance aircraft which reported the sighting of Force Z at the same time, but the report didn't reach the strike force until 1100 hours.

(At 0600 hours 9 Mitsubishi G3M, Nell bombers, each armed with a 60kg bomb and three Mitsubishi Ki-15/C5M2, Babs, were flown off to conduct a sector search for Force Z. Because of the poor visibility the search planes didn't discover Force Z until they were returning to Saigon)

At 1100 hours course was altered to 135 degrees  by blue pendant, bringing the heavy ships into starboard quarter line, REPULSE was given authority to act independently: and a few minutes later, nine enemy aircraft were sighted approaching from the starboard bow, flying at about 10,000 feet. All ships, except the VAMPIRE, which was outranged, opened fire at 1113 hours.

(At 0700 hours a strike force of 84 aircraft (34 bombers (Nells) and 50 torpedo planes (25 Nells +25 Bettys)) took off from Saigon and set course south for the estimated position of Force Z. The strike force was organised in flights of about 9 aircraft; the general plan was to attack continuously, starting with a bombing attack from about 8,000 feet by the Genzan group, the Mihoro and Kanoya groups following in turn as they arrived. All attacks were to be controlled by the Flight Leaders. After making their RV the flights proceeded independently south along the 105th meridian. Nothing was seen of Force Z during this southerly run and after sighting Singapore they turned to the northward. One flight separated from the main group and attacked TENEDOS. The main groups course was to lead them straight to Force Z and these were the aircraft that were now attacking Force Z)

At 1115 hours 8 Nells, armed with 250kg bombs, carried out a high level bombing attack from 10000 feet, on REPULSE. One bomb fell just clear to starboard, six very close to port.
At 1122 hours one 250kg bomb hit the port hangar, bursting on the armour below the marines' mess deck. This caused a fire in the catapult deck and fractured a steam pipe, but no damage was done to the engine or boiler rooms and the fire was rapidly got under control.
At 1156 hours REPULSE was attacked by a group of nine Nell torpedo bombers. These came in from her port side; she altered course towards them and succeeded in combing a large number of torpedo tracks.

(The torpedoes carried by the Nells were Type 91 Mod 1,450mm diameter, weighing 784 kg., with a warhead of 150 kg., speed 41 to 43 knots with a range of 2000 metres. The maximum launch speed was 260 knots)

At 1158 hours a high level bombing attack by eight Nells (the same group that attacked at 1115 hours) concentrated on the REPULSE she was manoeuvring at high speed at the time and being actually under helm when the bombs fell and she escaped untouched. There was one near miss to starboard and the remainder fell just clear to port.
At 1158 hours REPULSE made a W/T report 'Enemy aircraft bombing'.
At 1200 hours REPULSE contacted the PRINCE OF WALES by signal light and informed Admiral Philips that the 'REPULSE had so far avoided all torpedoes and that damage from the bomb which had hit her was under control'. Captain Tennant also enquired 'if the flagship's wireless was still in action', in case the Admiral wished any reports made by the REPULSE.
At 1210 hours the PRINCE OF WALES hoisted 'not under control' balls and Captain Tennant closed her, reducing to 20 knots, to see if he could be of any assistance. As REPULSE was closing,
25 torpedo carrying Bettys were sighted low on the horizon on the starboard bow of the REPULSE; when about three miles distant, they split into two formations. The right-hand one attacked the REPULSE from the starboard side, dropping their torpedoes at about 2,500 yards range.
Captain Tennant, foreseeing this, had already started to swing REPULSE to starboard, and had no difficulty in combing the four torpedo tracks. The left hand formation was apparently making straight for the PRINCE OF WALES but when abaft of the REPULSE's port beam suddenly turned and headed straight for REPULSE and dropped their torpedoes when about 2,000 yards on her port beam. No avoiding action was possible, as any large alteration of course would have incurred a hit from the torpedoes whose tracks were already being combed, and one torpedo hit REPULSE amidships on the port side. REPULSE took this well and continued to manoeuvre at about 25 knots.

(The torpedoes carried by the Bettys were Type 91Mod 2,450mm diameter, weighing 935 kg., with a warhead of 205 kg., speed 41 to 43 knots with a range of 2000 metres. The maximum launch speed was 260 knots)

Fresh waves of Betty torpedo bombers then attacked the REPULSE from several directions.
At 1226 hours REPULSE shot down two of her attackers.
A torpedo hit jammed her steering gear, and, though she could still steam at well over 20 knots, was almost immediately afterwards hit by three torpedoes abreast the superstructure, two simultaneously on the port side and one on the starboard side. She turned sharply 90 degrees  to starboard, listing heavily to port. This brought her fine on the PRINCE OF WALES quarter and steering a parallel course. Captain Tennant knew then that the end was at hand, and at once gave the order for everyone to come on deck and to cast loose the Carley floats.
Captain Tennant described the last moments of REPULSE as follows; 'Men were now pouring up on deck. They had all been warned 24 hours before to carry or wear their lifesaving apparatus. When the ship had a 30 degrees  list to port, I looked over the starboard side of the bridge and saw the Commander and two or three hundred men collecting on the starboard side. I never saw the slightest sign of panic or ill discipline. I told them from the bridge how well they had fought the ship, and wished them good luck. The ship hung for at least a minute and a half to two minutes with a list of about 60 degrees or 70 degrees to port and then rolled over.'

At 1233 hours REPULSE sank in approximate position, according to VAMPIRE's reckoning, 3-43N, 104-24½E.
ELECTRA and VAMPIRE closed the REPULSE on Admiral Philips' order and succeeded in rescuing 42 out of 69 officers (including Captain Tennant) and 754 out of 1,240 ratings.
ELECTRA made the signal that REPULSE and PRINCE OF WALES had been sunk. Even after they were rescued, some survivors from the REPULSE manned action stations on ELECTRA to free the ELECTRA crew to rescue more survivors. In particular, REPULSE gunners manned the X and Y 4.7in guns.

 

 (Casualty List - note on casualties)

 

 

Special Note

 

Details of escorts for WS series military convoys were provided by Donald Kindell of  Ohio, USA from an unpublished source. This is gratefully acknowledged

 

 

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