HMS Repulse (Maritime Quest, click
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
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
Contractors trials and commissioned for Trials,
18th - Build completion and commenced Acceptance
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)
Trials and work-up in continuation.
21st - Joined 1st Battle Squadron for duty as
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
Taken in hand for installation of a Flying Platform on
Carried out trials using Sopwith Pup aircraft.
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)
Home waters deployment in Grand Fleet based at Scapa
1 9 1 8
January to May
Home waters Squadron duties in continuation.
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.
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)
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
Deployed for Fleet exercises and visits in Home Waters
Nominated for attendance at Brazilian centenary
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.
27th - Joined battlecruiser HOOD and cruisers DELHI,
DANAE, DAUNTLESS, DRAGON and DUNEDIN and took passage for Freetown.
Called at Freetown.
21st - Visited Cape Town.
Sailed with same ships to Zanzibar.
1 9 2 4
1st - Arrived at Zanzibar.
17th - Took passage to Fremantle.
24th - At Fremantle
Visited Albany, Adelaide and Melbourne
Visited Hobart, Tasmania
9th - Arrived at Sydney.
20th - Sailed for Wellington, New Zealand.
7th - Sailed from Wellington for visits to Pacific
16th - Commenced calls in Pacific.
(Note: These included Suva, Samara, Fiji, Apia, W
Passage to Victoria, British Colombia.
6th - Arrived at Victoria.
6th - Visited Vancouver.
(Note: The five cruisers detached and took passage to
visit ports in South America)
Visited ports in USA with the HOOD.
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.
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
(Note: AA armament was improved to limited extent
without replacement of most 4'in
AA mountings which were of original design used during
No work was done on machinery.
1 9 3 9
January to February
(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)
Refit work completed.
Carried out sea trials.
Deployed as escort for RMS EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA during
initial stage of passage.
Completed work-up with Home Fleet ships
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
to Naval History Homepage
and type name in Site Search
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
5th At 0600 hours the Home Fleet entered the Fair
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
(Flag) and RODNEY,
aircraft carrier ARK ROYAL,
light cruisers AURORA,
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
10th At 1815 hours the Home Fleet arrived back at
12th At 1915 hours the battleship NELSON,
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
20th At 1915 hours the Home Fleet comprising the
aircraft carrier ARK ROYAL,
and destroyers FIREDRAKE, FORTUNE, TARTAR and PUNJABI sailed from Loch Ewe for
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.
1st At 1700 hours the Home Fleet comprising NELSON
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
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 Commands 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).
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.
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),
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
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
16th At 1435 hours Nine Junkers Ju-88s 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). Hitlers instructions were
not to attack the HOOD if she had reached dry dock, as civilian casualties were
to be kept to a minimum.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
Jolly who died after reaching Rosyth and forty four were wounded.
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-88s were shot down both by RAF Spitfires.
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
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
23rd At 2300 hours REPULSE and FURIOUS escorted by
the destroyers BEDOUIN, PUNJABI, FORESTER and FIREDRAKE sailed from Loch Ewe for
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.
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.
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.onvoy TC1 consisted of 5 troopships carrying a
total of 7450 Canadian troops.
After refuelling REPULSE, FURIOUS, cruiser EMERALD and
the destroyers HUNTER and HYPERION sailed from Halifax to catch up with convoy
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 SAMARIAs out-swung lifeboats. No sooner had the
AQUITANIA passed than the FURIOUS proceeded to wreak similar damage on the SAMARIAs port side and carrying away several of FURIOUSs antenna.
and destroyers BEDOUIN, MASHONA, ESKIMO, MATABELE, FEARLESS, ILEX, IMPULSIVE,
KANDAHAR, KHARTOUM, KASHMIR and KINGSTON arrived off Greenock.
At 1230 hours REPULSE,
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
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
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
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
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.
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
wearing the flag of CinC Home Fleet and with Winston Churchill embarked,
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
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
27th - At 1100 hours RENOWN, REPULSE and destroyers
INGLEFIELD, DELIGHT, DIANA, ILEX, FORTUNE and BEDOUIN arrived back at Scapa
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 GLOWWORMs 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
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
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
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.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 0730 hours in position 66-27N, 6-00E The RENOWN and
REPULSE RVed with the Home
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
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
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.
At Scapa Flow throughout the month.
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
The RENOWN force continued towards the position first
given by PRUNELLA. And after a search found nothing.
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 RFAs. 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)
(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. Campbells
task was, in great secrecy, to establish a fleet of Q ships, to be called
Special Service Vessels.
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
(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 VALIANTs 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 111s. 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
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
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
30th At 1800 hours REPULSE with destroyers FORTUNE,
ECHO and FIREDRAKE sailed from Scapa Flow for low angle and high angle full
At Scapa Flow for the whole month.
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
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
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.
Kriegsmarine Grid number AE39 to provide weather information for breakouts by
the SCHEER and HIPPER)
(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
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
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
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.
1st At 1350 hours HOOD, REPULSE, FURIOUS and
destroyers SOMALI (D.6), ESKIMO, MASHONA, PUNJABI and DOUGLAS arrived back at
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).
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.
(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
The ADMIRAL SCHEER had departed Brunsbuttel on the
27/10/40 and had passed through the Denmark Straits on the night of 31st/1
6th - At 1032 hours the
battlecruiser force, was sailing south westerly and was sighted and reported by
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
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
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.
a trawler steaming up from the south. This vessel proved
to be the German Naval trawler WBS 4 [ex
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)
(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
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.
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
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
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.in
position 43-39N, 25-08W. However following the engagement the HIPPER returned to
Brest, arriving on 27/12/40)
(The reason for this deployment was the attack by the
heavy cruiser HIPPER on convoy WS 5Aat 0738/25/12/40
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
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
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.REPULSE, light
cruisers EDINBURGH and BIRMINGHAM with destroyers SOMALI, TARTAR, ESKIMO,
BEDOUIN, ESCAPADE, ECLIPSE arrived back at Scapa Flow.
At 0100 hours
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
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
SCHARNHORSTs 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
At 0700 hours the NAIAD had worked up to a speed of 28
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
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
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.
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.
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)
(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
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.
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
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.
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 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)
(This deployment was requested by the CinC Home
(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.
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
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
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
At 1430 hours destroyers OTTAWA, RESTIGOUCHE,
SAGUENAY, LEGION and PIORUN detached and returned to the UK.
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 Churchills
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
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,
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 HOODs 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, whos armour was
inferior to the HOODs, 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 didnt 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
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 ships 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.
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
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 Johns.
26th The Dutch cruiser HNethMS HEEMSKERK joined the
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.
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.
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
In August, 1941, the whole question of reinforcing the
Far East was reviewed by the joint Planning Committee and the Ministries in
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
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
The convoy then set course westerly into the Atlantic.
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
12th The convoy was joined by the destroyers VELOX
and WRESTLER and the corvette STARWORT.
13th At 1200 hours convoy WS 11F arrived at
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
20th The destroyers WRESTLER and VELOX detached from
WS 11 and returned to Freetown.
23rd REPULSE detached from WS 11 to refuel at St
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.
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
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.
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
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 G4Ms (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.
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
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
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
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.
(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
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
(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:-
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.
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
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.
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
to operate at 25 knots unless a chase develops and subsequently to retire at
maximum speed endurance will allow.
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.
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.
TENEDOS will be detached before dark to return independently to Singapore.
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.
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
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
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,
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
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.
Details of escorts
for WS series military convoys were provided by Donald Kindell
of Ohio, USA from an unpublished source. This is gratefully