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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2005

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

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

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

LONDON-Class cruiser ordered on 17th March 1926 from Hawthorn Leslie at Newcastle under the1926 Build Programme. She was laid down on 1st February 1927 and launched on 22nd February 1928 as the 4th RN ship to be given this name introduced in 1652 and last used for a 2nd Rate in 1802. The ship was completed on 19th March 1929. This cruiser was adopted by Investment Trusts, a Financial Company in the City of London after a successful WARSHIP WEEK Campaign for National Savings in March 1942. She had a long standing association with the County of Sussex since her build and also, since 1940, with Liverpool after being  given the Freedom of the City.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


PORTLAND 1653 - GABBARD 1653 - NORWAY 1940 - BURMA 1945


M o t t o

 Motto Fortier in rye:  'Bravely in action'



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             Took up War Station in Mediterranean.

                4th          Deployed with the 1st Cruiser Squadron in the Mediterranean on contraband

                                control duty.

                                (Note: Other ships in Squadron were HMS DEVONSHIRE and SHROPSHIRE.)

                                Sailed from Alexandria for patrol.


October                  Transferred to East Indies Station for trade protection duty.

                2nd         Sailed from Alexandria for South Atlantic.

                13th        On arrival at Simonstown transferred to South Atlantic Command.



                8th          Deployed with HM Cruiser SHROPSHIRE as Hunting Group H in search for the

                                German battleship ADMIRAL GRAF SPEE in the South Atlantic.

                                Searched with Group H in conjunction with Hunting Group E

                                (Note: Force E comprised HM Battlecruiser RENOWN, HM Aircraft Carrier ARK ROYAL

                                and HM Cruiser NEPTUNE)

                11th        Transferred to River Plate area.

                                Redeployed in Indian Ocean off Durban to continue search.



                2nd         Intercepted German merchant ship WATUSSI with HMS RENOWN.

                                German scuttled and hulk sunk by HMS RENOWN.

                                Rescued crew and passengers from German ship.

                                Search continued with HM Cruiser SHROPSHIRE between St. Helena and Cape of Good Hope.

                15th        Called at Capetown to disembark prisoners.

                27th        Transferred to 4th Cruiser Squadron in East Indies and took passage to Colombo.


1 9 4 0



                6th          Arrived at Colombo after call at Mauritius.

                15th        Deployed in Indian Ocean on interception and trade protection.

                18th.       Returned passage to Colombo

                27th        Passage to Trincomalee from Colombo with HM Aircraft Carrier EAGLE and HM Australian

                                Cruiser HOBART.

                29th        Returned to Colombo.


 February               Carried out search between Colombo and Aden.

                8th          At Aden.

                                Continued patrol during return passage to Colombo.

                                Escorted military convoy in Indian Ocean.


March                    In view of continuing crisis in Home waters transferred to UK for service with 1st Cruiser

                                Squadron in Home Fleet.

                                To be refitted at Liverpool commercial shipyard before joining Squadron.

                                (Note: For details of deployments for interception of commerce raiders see ENGAGE THE

                                ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by Corelli Bamett).

                1st           Took passage from Colombo with calls at Aden and Malta.

                10th        At Malta

                18th        Under refit at Liverpool.


April                       Under refit

                                Harbour trials

                                (Note: During the stay in Liverpool ship was given the Freedom of the City.)


May                        On completion of sea trials took passage to join Squadron at Scapa Flow.

                                Deployed with other ships of Squadron for interception of any attempt by German ships to break

                                out into Atlantic via NW Approaches.


June                        Deployed for escort of evacuation convoys from Norway with Home Fleet ships.

                5th          Joined HM Battle cruisers RENOWN and REPULSE accompanied by HM Cruiser SHEFFIELD

                                with screen of five Home Fleet destroyers in search for two unidentified ships reported as being

                                on passage into the Atlantic by HMS PRUNELLA (Q Ship)

                                See Naval Staff History of Norwegian Campaign (HMSO-2002)

                7th          Arrived in Iceland and returned to Scapa Flow after fruitless search.


July                         Continued deployment at Scapa Flow with Home Fleet.

                16th        Deployed in another search for enemy ships in North Sea with HM Cruisers SHROPSHIRE

                                and SOUTHAMPTON screened by 8 Fleet destroyers.

                                Operation was called off when enemy ships reversed course.

                                (Note: During the return passage to Scapa Flow HM Destroyer IMOGEN was sunk in a

                                collision with HM Cruiser GLASGOW in fog.


August                  Deployed with 1st Cruiser Squadron at Scapa Flow.

                                Propulsion machinery defect discovered.


September             Under repair to turbine blades at Princes Dock, Glasgow.

                17th        Hit in Engine Room by 2501b bomb during air raid on Glasgow.

                                This caused a serious conflagration which threatened magazines.

                                Because of danger of explosion the local community was evacuated.

                                To assist in controlling the fire the dry dock was flooded without time to prevent water getting

                                into the ship.

                                The subsequent flooding of compartments made the her unstable and she capsized.

                20th        Damage assessment showed extensive structural repair would be required to make the ship

                                fully operational.


October                  After being re-floated towed to Stephens shipyard at Govan for rebuilding and repair.

                                (Note: This major incident was never publicly announced).


November              Under repair.

to December



1 9 4 1


                                Under repair.


1 9 4 2


January                  Under repair.

to                            (Note: During repair ship was fitted with radar equipment for surface and aircraft warning

July                         and for fire-control of secondary and AA armament.

                                For details of development and use of radar in RN see RADAR AT SEA by D Howse.

                                Ten 20mm Oerlikon guns and two eight barrelled Pom-Pom mountings were installed

                                to improve close range defence against air attacks.)



                9th          On completion took passage to Scapa Flow to rejoin the Home Fleet after post refit trials and

                                shakedown exercises.



                4th          Rejoined 1st Cruiser Squadron at Scapa Flow.

                                Worked up for service and deployed in NW Approaches for interception of any break-out

                                by commerce raiders to attack into Atlantic shipping



                29th        Carried out exercises with HM Battle ships KING GEORGE V, ANSON and HOWE.

                31st         Returned to Scapa Flow after exercises.


November              Withdrawn from service for further refit work in Tyne shipyard.

                                (Note: Work included installation of fire control radar for main armament and replacement

                                of surface warning radar by an improved design sited on after superstructure to

                                improve cover.)


December              Under refit prior to deployment in Eastern Fleet.


1 9 4 3


January                  Rejoined 1st Cruiser Squadron at Scapa Flow for convoy defence and interception duties.

                                in Atlantic because of continuing threat by German capital ships.


February                Transferred to 4th Cruiser Squadron in Eastern Fleet and took to passage to Mombasa.

                26th        Intercepted German tanker HOHEN FRIEDBURG in position 500 miles SW of Cape


                                Came under torpedo attack by U264 which had been with the enemy ship but avoided a

                                salvo of four torpedoes.

                                See HITLER'S U-BOAT WAR by C Blair.

                                (Note: No attempt was made to rescue survivors from German ship because of the known

                                threat of further submarine attack.)



                11th        Joined military convoy WS27 at Freetown as Ocean Escort during passage to Durban

                26th        Detached from WS26 on arrival at Durban


April                       Deployed on trade defence and interception in Indian Ocean.

to                            (Note: One source records escort of military convoy from Durban. This is to be confirmed)

June                        (Details of Indian Ocean trade defence see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY)


July                         Became Flagship of Eastern Fleet.

                15th        Carried out Squadron exercises with HM Cruisers NEWCASTLE, SUFFOLK and

                                FROBISHER off Mombasa.

                19th        Passage to Ceylon with CinC Eastern Fleet embarked for return to Colombo.


August                  Deployed as Flagship for CS4 and carried out patrol and interception duty in Indian Ocean




October                  Under refit at Durban.

to                            (Note: Work done included repair to turbine)



December              Passage to Trincomalee to rejoin Eastern Fleet

                                Part of Eastern Fleet escort for HM Battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH, VALIANT and

                                HM Aircraft Carriers ILLUSTRIOUS and UNICORN during passage in Indian Ocean from

                                Aden to reinforce. Eastern Fleet.


1 9 4 4


January                  Deployed on convoy defence and interception in Indian Ocean.


February                Joined H M Aircraft Carrier ILLUSTRIOUS, HM Cruiser GAMBIA, HM Destroyer

                                ROTHERHAM and HM Netherlands Destroyer TJERK HIDDES in search for enemy

                                blockade runners SW of Cocos Islands (Operation SLEUTH).


March                    Continued Indian Ocean deployment.


April                       Transferred to Home waters for refit.


May                        Passage to UK.


June                        Under refit at Chatham.




1 9 4 5


January                  Under refit.

to                            (Note: Extensive changes were made including removal of X Turret aft, the aircraft

February                facilities and torpedo tubes. More modern radars were also installed including

                                barrage fire control. Siting of close range AA weapons was also improved.)


March                    Carried out post refit trials on completion of dockyard work

                                Nominated for service with 5th Cruiser Squadron in Eastern Fleet


April                       Passage to Scapa Flow.

                25th        Took passage to Mediterranean.



                1st           On arrival at Gibraltar diverted and sailed for Bermuda

                4th          Returned to Gibraltar

                                (Note: This unusual diversion requires further investigation. The ship may have been

                                recalled to resume work-up programme with ships of Mediterranean Fleet.)

                                Worked up in Mediterranean prior to Fleet duty in Indian Ocean.


June                        Completed work-up.



July                         Took passage to join Eastern Fleet at Trincomalee.

                                On arrival at Trincomalee deployed in Indian Ocean with Squadron.

                19th        Joined HM Battleship NELSON, HM Escort Aircraft Carriers EMPRESS and

                                AMEER screened by four Fleet destroyers as Force 63 to cover minesweeping

                                operations by the 4th Minesweeping Flotilla off Phuket Island and a series of air strikes

                                by the aircraft carriers on the Kra Isthmus. (Operation LIVERY}

                24th        HM Minesweeper SQUIRREL sunk by mine during clearance of minefields.

                26th        Under KAMIKAZE attacks during which two aircraft were destroyed..

                                Sustained slight structural damage above waterline by the wreckage of a Japanese aircraft.

                                HM Minesweeper VESTAL was sunk and HMS AMEER was damaged.


August                  Deployed with Eastern Fleet in preparation for Malayan landings (Operation ZIPPER).

                                (Note: This operation was delayed by US insistence and problems related to the return

                                to UK of long serving personnel under the PYTHON Scheme.

                                See Final Report of Supreme Commander, SEAC (HMSO) )

                31st         Sailed from Trincomalee and took passage to Singapore for re-occupation of Singapore

                                and as Flagship for Occupation Force. (Operation TIDERACE)


September             Covered passage of assault convoys for landings at Port Swettenham and Port Dickson.

                4th          Arrived off Singapore with HM Landing Ship (Infantry) KEDAH and ships of 7th

                                Minesweeping Flotilla.

                                The surrender of Japanese forces in Singapore by Lt-Gen Itagaki and Vice Admiral

                                Fukudone, UN was accepted on board.

                12th        Present at formal surrender of Japan to Supreme Commander, SEAC by General Itakagi

                                Retained at Singapore during landing of 3rd Commando Brigade.

                                (For details of fleet operations see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by C.

                                Barnett and the Naval Staff History).


P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS SUSSEX remained with the Eastern Fleet after VJ Day and provided cover for the landings of the 5th Indian Division at Soerabaya, Java with HM Destroyers CARRON, CAESAR and CAVALIER in November 1945. Before return  to UK on 6 March she supported military operations against insurgents in Java. Nominated for use as a troopship she returned to Chatham late in March 1946 and after essential changes to suit this role she carried personnel returning from the Far east until Paid-Off at Devonport prior to refit. On completion in April 1947 she re-commissioned for service in the 5th Cruiser Squadron, British Pacific Fleet. Before joining the Fleet in the Far East as Flagship for the Squadron she worked-up in Malta. At the end of 1948 she was relieved by HMS BELFAST and returned to Pay-off into Reserve at Portsmouth. She was de-equipped in February 1949 and placed on the Disposal List. Sold to BISCO for demolition on 3rd January 1950 the ship arrived in tow at Dalmuir, Glasgow on 23rd February where she was broken-up by Arnott Young.







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








CM 041





US 019





US 023A








(Note on Convoys)



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revised 8/10/10
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