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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 1999

HMS SUFFOLK  - County-type Heavy Cruiser
including Convoy Escort Movements

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Suffolk (Navy Photos, click to enlarge)return to Contents List 

KENT-Class cruiser ordered on 15th February 1924 from HM Dockyard, Portsmouth and laid down on 30th September that year. The ship was launched on 16th February 1928 and completed on 31st May 1928. She was not adopted by a civil community in UK following a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in 1941-42 but has had a long association with the County of Suffolk.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s

BEACHY HEAD 1690 - BARFLEUR 1692 - GIBRALTAR 1704 - VELEZ MALAGA 1704 - CARTAGENA 1741 - LA GUAYRA  1743 - GRENADA 1779 - NORWAY   1940 - BISMARCK  Action - ARCTIC 1941-2 - BURMA 1945

 H e r a l d i c  D a t a

Badge:  On a  Field Green a castle Gold hanging therefrom a key Silver.



 Nous maintiendrons:  'We shall maintain'




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


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



1 9 3 9


September             Under refit at HM Dockyard, Portsmouth.

                                Pre-production air warning radar outfit Type 79Z fitted to provide warning of the approach of


.                               (For details see RADAR AT SEA by D. Howse)

.               23rd        Refit completed.

                29th        Sailed to Scapa Flow from Portsmouth to work up for service.



                1st           On arrival at Scapa Flew nominated for duty in the Mediterranean with the 1st Cruiser Squadron

                8th          Passage to Gibraltar from Rosyth.

                14th        Joined Squadron at Alexandria.

                                Work-up and radar trials in Mediterranean with Squadron.


November              Squadron recalled from Mediterranean to join Home Fleet.

                3rd          Passage to UK with HM Cruiser DEVONSHIRE.

                11th        Arrived at Portsmouth.

                19th        Deployed for duty on Northern Patrol for convoy defence and the interception of commerce raiders

                                and blockade runners. Sailed from Clyde for Denmark Strait.

                                (See THE BLOCKADERS by C Hampshire.)

                21st         Patrol off Iceland.

                23rd        Joined search for SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU with HM Cruisers NORFOLK, CERES and

                                CALYPSO after HM Armed Merchant Cruiser RAWALPINDI had been sunk in action with

                                German SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU. Deployed in Iceland - Faeroes Gap.

                                (For details see RAWALPINDI by Ludovic Kennedy).

                29th        Returned to Scapa Flow from Clyde after completion of duty.


December              Rejoined 1st Cruiser Squadron now including HM Cruisers DEVONSHIRE, BERWICK and

                                and NORFOLK.

                3rd          Sailed for further Northern Patrol interception duty.

                29th        Returned to Scapa Flow from patrol duties.



1 9 4 0


January                  Deployed on interception patrols in NW Approaches based on Clyde.


February                Continued patrol duties in NW Approaches (For details of Northern Patrol duties,

                                See ARMED MERCHANT CRUISERS by K. Poolman).

                2nd         Sustained damage in collision with ss MISRAM.

                5th          Taken in hand for repair in Clyde shipyard.


March                    Under repair in Clyde shipyard.


April                       Post refit trials and passage to Scapa Flow.

                10th        On completion rejoined Squadron.

                11th        Embarked Royal Marines for initial occupation of Faeroes.

                12th        Passage to Faeroes escorted by HM Destroyers HAVANT and HESPERUS

                13th        Landed Royal Marines for initial occupation of Faeroes (Operation VALENTINE).

                                (Note: HM Destroyers HESPERUS and HAVANT carried out anti-submarine search operations

                                before entry into Thorshavn.)

                                On completion took passage to join HM Cruisers DEVONSHIRE and BERWICK for support of

                                military operations in Norway.

                14th        During passage to Lofotens area intercepted German tanker SKAGERRAK which scuttled on


                                Diverted by Admiralty order and took passage to Scapa Flow for special operation.

                16th        Took passage from Scapa Flow with HM Destroyers JANUS, JUNO, HEREWARD and KIPLING.

                17th        Met HM Submarine SEAL which had acted a navigational Beacon off Stavanger.

                                Bombarded Stavanger airfield (Operation DUCK).

                                Deployed to intercept force of German destroyers and came under heavy air attacks for several


                                (Note: 33 individual attacks were counted).

                                Only one direct hit of the 88 near misses reported.

                                Sustained major damage aft that disabled steering gear.

                                Extensive flooding and fire resulted and speed was reduced to 18 knots.

                                (Note: Air cover arranged did not arrive and left the ship without

                                any protection from the expected air attacks. See Naval Staff History (HMSO-2001)

                                and following references for details.)

                                For details of naval operations off Norway see NARVIK by D Macintyre., ENGAGE THE

                                ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by Corelli Bamett and Naval Staff History (HMSO 2001).).

                18th        Returned to Scapa Flow steering by engines and with quarterdeck awash.

                                Temporary repair carried out at Scapa Flow.

                20th        Taken in hand for repair at Greenock.


May                        Under repair

to                            Work done included

December              Installation of Surface Gunnery control radar (Type 284) and replacement air warning

                                radar Type 279 fitted in place of Type 79Z.

                                Fire control Radar Type 284 fitted for main armament and Type 285 Radar for the

                                control of secondary armament. (See above reference.)

                                Twin 4in mountings fitted in place of 4in single mountings.


1 9 4 1


 January                 Under repair at Greenock.




March                    On completion of post refit trials, worked-up and rejoined the Squadron in Home Fleet at

                                Scapa Flow.

                20th        Deployed for convoy defence and patrol duty in NW Approaches.


March                    Carried out convoy defence and interception duties based in Iceland.





                8th          Deployed in Denmark Strait

                19th        Relieved by HM Cruiser NORFOLK to refuel at Hvalfjord.

                22nd       Joined HMS NORFOLK in Denmark Strait.

                23rd        During interception patrol in Denmark Straits made first sighting of BISMARCK.

                                Engaged enemy ships before they became engulfed by fog.

                24th        Shadowed BISMARCK and PRINZ EUGEN with HMS NORFOLK until the enemy ships

                                were engaged by HM Battlecruiser HOOD and HM Battleship- PRINCE OF WALES.

                                Remained in radar contact with enemy ships after loss of HOOD.

                25th        Lost contact with German warships and deployed with Fleet during search for BISMARCK

                                Detached to refuel in Iceland

                                (For full details see SINK THE BISMARCK by L. Kennedy, BISMARCK by Baron Burkhard

                                von Mullenheim Rechberg and Naval Staff History).

                27th        Sailed to resume interception duties.


June                        Deployed on interception duties in north Atlantic, based in Iceland.

                30th        Returned to Scapa Flow with ships of Squadron.


July                         Deployed for Fleet duties based at Scapa Flow

                23rd        Passage to Iceland with HM Cruiser DEVONSHIRE, HM Destroyers ACHATES, ECHO,

                                ESCAPADE, ECLIPSE and INTREPID to cover air attacks on Tromso and Kirkness by HM

                                Aircraft Carriers FURIOUS and VICTORIOUS (Operation EF).

                26th        Passage to Norway for air operations.

                30th        Provided cover during carrier air attacks.



                1st           Unsuccessful air attack by Do18 aircraft.

                7th          Returned to Scapa Flow.

                9th          Present at Royal Visit to Home Fleet by HM King George VI.

                24th        Provided Distant Cover for the first Russian Convoy with H M Aircraft Carrier

                                VICTORIOUS, HM Cruiser DEVONSHIRE, HM Destroyers ECLIPSE, ESCAPADE

                                and INGLEFIELD (Operation DERVISH).

                26th        Met convoy west of Bear Island.

                30th        Refuelled at Spitzbergen.



                2nd         Escorted HMS VICTORIOUS for series of air strikes on Hammerfest with HM Cruiser

                                DEVONSHIRE screened by HM Destroyers INGLEFIELD, ECLIPSE and ESCAPADE.)

                6th          Provided Distant Cover for HM Aircraft Carrier ARGUS with HM Cruiser SHROPSHIRE

                                and screen of same Fleet destroyers as DERVISH for passage to Archangel taking

                                HURRICANE aircraft and RAF personnel for service in North Russia.

                                (Operation STRENGTH).

                                (For details of all Russian convoys see CONVOYS TO RUSSIA by RA Ruegg,

                                CONVOY ! by P Kemp, ARCTIC CONVOYS by R Woodman and THE RUSSIAN

                                CONVOYS By B Schoefield.)

                7th          Returned to Spitzbergen to refuel with HMS VICTORIOUS and HMS DEVONSHIRE after

                                aircraft launched.

                12th        Stationed off Lofoten Islands to supported HMS VICTORIOUS during air strikes on

                                Bodo, Norway.

                19th        Returned to Scapa Flow.

                29th        Escorted Russian Convoy PQ1 with HM Destroyer IMPULSIVE, HM Fleet Minesweepers

                                BRITOMART, GOSSAMER, LEDA and HUSSAR from Hvalfjord.



                11th        Arrived at Archangel without enemy interference.

                                Returned to Scapa Flow to rejoin Squadron.



                3rd          Deployed with Home Fleet to Intercept German battleships TIRPITZ and ADMIRAL

                                SCHEER reported attempting beak out to attack Atlantic convoy routes.

                5th          Arrived Hvalf jord with HM Battleship KING GEORGE V, HMS VICTORIOUS, HM

                                Cruisers BERWICK and KENT, screened by HM Destroyers ASHANTI, MATABELE,

                                PUNJABI, OFFA and ORIBI


December.             Returned with Home Fleet to Scapa Flow.


1 9 4 2



                17th        Sailed with Home Fleet ships to Iceland to intercept German warships reported to be

                                making another sortie into the Atlantic.

                19th        Deployed off Iceland.


February                Interception patrols in continuation based in Iceland.

                19th        Sailed from Hvalfjord with Home Fleet after TIRPITZ was reported under way at


                                (Note: HMS VICTORIOUS was to carry out air attacks on Tromso if no enemy break

                                out was established.

                20th        Attack on Tromso cancelled when German warships ADMIRAL SCHEER snd PRINZ

                                EUGEN were reported off Holland and steaming north.

                21st         Deployed to cover HMS VICTORIOUS during attacks on these German ships.

                                Operation cancelled when ship reported at Aasfjord.

                                Return passage to Scapa Flow



                8th          Arrived for refit in Tyne shipyard.


April                       Under refit.

to                            Radar Type 279 replaced new design Type 281.

June                        Centimetric Radar Type 273 of new design fitted to provide surface warning.

                                (See above reference.)

                                Additional 20mm Oerlikon guns fitted for close range defence.


July                         Post refit trials.

                8th          On completion carried out trials and work-up.

                17th        Rejoined Fleet at Scapa Flow.


August                  Deployed with Home Fleet and based in Iceland for Russian Convoy operation.



                17th        Provided cruiser cover for passage of Russian Convoy PQ18 and returning convoy

                                QP14 with HM Cruisers LONDON and NORFOLK.

                22nd       Returned to Hvalfjord.


October                  Remained with Home Fleet for patrol and interception duty in Iceland.

                23rd        Passage to Scapa Flow.


November              Deployed with Hans Fleet based at Scapa Flow.

                17th        Provided cruiser cover for returning convoy QP15 with LONDON and screened by HM

                                Destroyers FORESTER, OBDURATE and ONSLAUGHT.

                                (Note: HM Submarines P312, P216 and French submarine JUNON carried out patrols off

                                Altenfjord to intercept any surface ship interference.)

                28th        Returned to Hvalfjord


December              Passage to UK and began refit in Thames shipyard.


1 9 4 3


January                  Under refit

to                            Radar Type 282 fitted for fire-control of Close Range AA defence.

February                Close range 20mm armament comprised 5 Twin and three single mountings.

                                Nominated for foreign service in Indian Ocean.


March                    Post refit trials.

                31st         Completed refit.


April                       Completed sea trials and shakedown for service with 4th Cruiser Squadron.

                15th        Began work-up at Scapa Flow.


May                        Work-up in continuation.

                19th        Joined joint military convoy WS30/KMF15 in Clyde.

                21st         Sailed with convoy as part of Ocean Escort.

                                (Note: Escort also included HM Maintenance Aircraft Carrier UNICORN, HM Armed

                                Merchant Cruiser ASTURIAS, HM Destroyers ACTIVE, BOADICEA, CLEVELAND,

                                Polish ORP SLAZAK, HM Sloops WELLINGTON, LOWESTOFT and WESTON,

                                HM Cutters GORLESTON and TOTLAND, HM Frigates EXE and NESS.)

                25th        Detached from joint convoy with WS30 off Gibraltar as Ocean Escort to Freetown when KMF15

                                took passage to Mediterranean with main escort.

                                (Note: HM Destroyers ANTELOPE, CATTERICK, FOXHOUND joined escort from Gibraltar

                                for the passage to Freetown.

                29th        Detached from WS30 on arrival at Freetown.



                2nd         Joined WS30 on departure from Freetown as Ocean Escort.

                                (Note: HM Armed Merchant Cruisers CORFU and CARNARVON CASTLE, HM Destroyers

                                CATTERICK, RAPID, WITCH and WOLVERINE also part of escort.)

                9th          Local Escort detached and relieved by HM Destroyers NORMAN, QUADRANT and REDOUBT

                                for passage to Cape.

                16th        Detached from WS30 on arrival at Capetown for independent passage to Durban.

                20th        At Durban.

                24th        Sailed from Durban to join Squadron.


July                         Joined 4th Cruiser Squadron at Kilindini

                15th        Trials and exercises with HM Cruisers NEWCASTLE, FROBISHER and SUSSEX.

                27th        Arrived at Diego Suarez.


August                  Deployed on convoy defence and interception of supply ships in Indian Ocean.

                30th        Sailed from Fremantle for convoy defence duty.



                18th        Returned to Kilindini.


October                  Indian Ocean convoy defence and interception in continuation.

to                            (Note: Significant military convoy traffic was on passage to India.)



1 9 4 4


January                  Convoy defence and interception in Indian Ocean.

                                Deployed with HM Cruisers NEWCASTLE, KENYA, HM Armed Merchant Cruiser CANTON.

                                HM Destroyer NEPAL and HM Frigate BANN in an unsuccessful search for German blockade

                                runner reported on passage to Europe from

                                Japan (Operation THWART).


February                Indian Ocean deployment in continuation.



                8th          Deployed as Force 68 with HM Destroyer QUADRANT in search for U-Boat Supply Ship

                                BRAKE supported by RAF aircraft from Mauritius (Operation COVERED).

                                (Note: HMS NEWCASTLE, HM Aircraft Carrier BATTLER and HM Destroyer ROEBUCK

                                deployed as Force 67 intercepted and sank the enemy ship on 12th March.

                                See WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO).


April                       Resumed Indian Ocean convoy defence duty.

                30th        Deployed with HM Cruiser LONDON as escort for Replenishment Group (Force 67) of six

                                tankers and a water carrier to support Force 66 ships for air operations by Eastern Fleet against

                                harbour installations and oil refineries at Soerabaya.

                                Took passage to Exmouth Bay, NW Australia (Operation TRANSOM).

                30th        (Note: Operation was covered by ships of Eastern Fleet as Force 65.

                                See WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO) for details.)


May                        Passage to Exmouth Bay with Force 67.

                15th        After refuelling was complete transferred to Force 68 with HMS LONDON.

                                Joined aircraft carriers HMS ILLUSTRIOUS and USS SARATOGA, HM Cruisers CEYLON and

                                and GAMBIA (RNZN) screened by HM Destroyers QUILLIAM, QUEENBOROUGH,

                                QUADRANT, US destroyers USS, DUNLOP, CUMMINGS and FANNING for passage to

                                launching area.

                                Provided cover during air strikes.

                18th        USS SARATOGA and US destroyers detached to return to US 5th Fleet

                                (Note: One aircraft from USS SARATOGA was lost during TRANSOM.)

                21st         Rejoined Force 67 as escort for passage back to Trincomalee.

                30th        At Trincomalee. Prepared for refit.


June                        Passage to Durban.

                                Commenced refit.


July                         Under refit.



                21st         Completed refit.


September             Passage to Ceylon to join 5th Cruiser Squadron, Eastern Fleet,


October                  Nominated for service in Force 63 for planned operation.

                15th        Joined TG63.2 with HM Cruisers CUMBERLAND, LONDON, HM Destroyers RELENTLESS,

                                RAIDER, NORMAN (RAN) and Dutch destroyer VAN GALEN for an Eastern Fleet

                                diversionary operation against Japanese targets on Nicobar Islands during the US landings on

                                Leyte (Operation MILLET.

                                (For details see OPERATION PACIFIC by E Gray and WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO).

                                Sailed from Trincomalee with Force 63 for MILLET.

                                (Note: TG63.1 comprised HMS RENOWN screened by H M Destroyers QUILLIAM,

                                QUIBERON and QUEENBOROUGH.

                                TG63.3 comprised HM Aircraft Carriers INDOMITABLE, VICTORIOUS, HM

                                Cruiser PHOEBE, HM Destroyers WHELP, WAGER, WESSEX and WAKEFUL.)

                16th        Refuelled from HMS RENOWN of TG63.1

                17th        Bombarded targets in Malacca area with TG63-2 between carrier air strikes.

                19th        Bombarded Car Nicobar with HM Battleship RENOWN, HMS RAIDER, HMS QUILLIAM

                                and HMS QUEENBOROUGH during air strikes at Nancowry by Force 63.3.

                                Under attacks by aircraft which were repelled by fighters from Fleet.

                                (Note: Seven enemy aircraft were destroyed for loss of three from carriers.

                                See above references.)

                22nd       Rejoined Squadron for Indian Ocean convoy defence.


November              Continued Squadron duties based at Trincomalee.




1 9 4 5



                1st           Deployed with HM Cruisers CEYLON, ARGONAUT and BLACK PRINCE in Force 65,

                                screened by H M Destroyers KEMPENFELT, WAGER, WHELP, GRENVILLE, URANIA,

                                UNDAUNTED, UNDINE and URSA to cover air attacks by HM Aircraft Carriers

                                INDOMITABLE, VICTORIOUS and INDEFATIGABLE on oil refineries at Pangkalan

                                Brandan, Sumatra (Operation LENTIL).

                                (Note: This was intended as a second rehearsal for planned raid on Palembang.

                                (Operation MERIDIAN).

                4th          Provided defence during carrier operations.

                7th          Returned to Trincomalee and rejoined Squadron for convoy defence duties.

                12th        Detached with HMS UNICORN, HM Destroyers ULSTER, QUIBERON and QUICKMATCH

                                for escort of liner taking HRH The Duke of Gloucester (Governor General designate of Australia)

                                during final leg of journey from Fremantle to Sydney. Passage to Australia.


February                Royal Escort duty in continuation.

                12th        Return passage from Fremantle on completion of escort duty.


March                    Deployed in support of military operations in Burma and based at Akyab.

                20th        Assisted in temporary repair of HM Destroyer RAPID at Akyab.

                                (Note: This destroyer had been damaged during shipping strike in Andamans.

                                Operation TRANSPORT.


April                       Continued deployment in Malacca Strait and off Burmese coast.

                27th        Deployed with HM Battleship QUEEN ELIZABETH, French RICHELIEU, HM Cruisers

                                CEYLON, CUMBERLAND, Dutch TROMP and HM Escort Carriers EMPRESS and SHAH,

                                screened by H M Destroyers ROTHERHAM, NUBIAN and PENN as Force 63

                                (Operation BISHOP)

                                (Note: This was intended to prevent interference by Japanese warships during the British landings

                                near Rangoon (Operation DRACULA).

                30th        Provided cover during air strikes on airfields at Car Nicobar and bombarded shore targets at

                                Car Nicobar and Port Blair with ships of Force 63.



                1st           Took part in further bombardment of Car Nicobar.

                2nd         Before taking passage with Force 63 to cover landings carried cut bombardments at Port Blair.

                3rd          Deployed with Force 63 to cover DRACULA landing operations.

                to            (Note: Carrier aircraft made strikes en shipping and aircraft during this period and HMS QUEEN

                8th          ELIZABETH bombarded Stewart Sound in Andamans.

                9th          Returned to Trincomalee with Force 63.

                10th        Resumed convoy defence and patrol duty in Indian Ocean with Squadron.


June                        Nominated for duty in Force 63 for planned operation.

                18th        Escorted H M Escort Carriers STALKER, KHEDIVE and AMEER of 21st Aircraft Carrier

                                Squadron with HM Cruiser ROYALIST screened by HM Destroyers ROTHERHAM,

                                RACEHORSE, REDOUBT, RELENTLESS and ROEBUCK during series of photo-

                                reconnaissance flights over south Malaya, air attacks en airfields in northern Sumatra and on

                                shipping in the Malacca Strait (Operation BALSAM). (For details of naval operations in Indian

                                Ocean see OPERATION PACIFIC by E Gray, THE FORGOTTEN FLEET by J Winton and

                                WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO).


July                         Withdrawn from operational Fleet duty

                6th          Sailed for UK for deployment on trooping duties.


August                  On arrival in UK prepared for use in trooping duties.


P o s t   W a r  N o t e s.


HMS SUFFOLK was used to bring repatriated military and civil personnel from Australia and sailed for her first trip on 26th August 1945. On return in November she underwent repair at HM Dockyard Chatham which was completed during January 1946. She then made a second trooping trip to Australia and returned in April. Her last trooping duty was to Singapore where she arrived in late May 1946. After arrival in UK in July she was reduced to Reserve status at Chatham where she was laid-up until sold to BISCO for breaking up in May 1948. The ship arrived at Newport in June 1948 and her demolition by J Cashmere had been completed by January 1949.







by Don Kindell


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






Date convoy sailed

Joined convoy as escort

Convoy No.

Left convoy

Date convoy arrived








HN 003





HX 129










PQ 001





PQ 018





QP 014





QP 015





CM 043





US 022





US 023





US 024








(Note on Convoys)



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