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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2006

HMS ACHILLES, later HMNZS  -  Leander-class Light Cruiser including Convoy Escort Movements

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Achilles (Navy Photos, click to enlarge)

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LEANDER-Class cruiser ordered from Cammell Laird at Birkenhead on 16th February 1931. The ship was laid down on 11th June that year and launched on 1st September 1932 as the 9th RN warship to carry the name. It was previously used for a cruiser sold in 1923. After completion on 10th October 1933 she served with the Home Fleet until 1935 and attended the Silver Jubilee Review by HM King George V. In November 1935 she refitted at Chatham for service with New Zealand Division and re-commissioned with a New Zealand crew from HM Cruiser DIOMEDE on 31st March 1936. Before arriving in New Zealand in September 1936. she worked-up in the Mediterranean during the Abyssinian crisis. This ship had a very long association with New Zealand and was formally transferred to the RNZN on its formation in July 1941. She was damaged by SS RANGATIRA on 14th April 1938 and had to return to UK for repair at Portsmouth. The ship re-commissioned in March 1939 and returned to New Zealand.


B a t t l e  H o n o u r s

BELLE ISLE 1761 - TRAFALGAR   1805 - LEOPARD Action 1917 - RIVER PLATE  1939 - GUADALCANAL 1942-43 - OKINAWA 1945

H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge:  On a Field Red, the head of Achilles helmeted all Gold.


M o t to

Fortiter in Re:  '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



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Transferred to RN control..


29th - Sailed from Auckland for war deployment on the America and West Indies Station.




Deployed at Balboa for interception of German shipping. (Note: The only RN warship off the west coast of the American continent.)


13th - After refuelling at Valparaiso continued patrol off Chilean coast.


16th - Unable to intercept German ships which escaped in territorial waters.


30th - Escorted liner ORDUNA from Buenaventura, Columbia to Callao, Peru




5th - Transferred to Force G in South Atlantic for defence of trade and interception of enemy shipping.


10th - Took passage to meet Join Force G after self maintenance period in Valparaiso.


19th - Passed through Straits of Magellan.


23rd - Sailed from Port Stanley after refuelling.


26th - Met HM Cruiser EXETER off Lobes Island.


27th - Joined HM Cruisers CUMBERLAND and EXETER and carried out joint patrol.




11th - Carried out patrol with Force G after call at Rio de Janeiro.


Returned to Plate estuary.


22nd - Unsuccessful search for German shipping with HM Cruiser AJAX.


26th - Patrolled off Brazilian coast.




3rd - Called at Recife.


10th - Joined HMS AJAX at Plate estuary.


12th - Met HMS EXETER and began Joint patrol off estuary.


13th - Took part in Battle of River Plate with HM Cruisers EXETER and AJAX against the German battleship GRAF SPEE. (For further details see THE BATTLE OF THE RIVER PLATE by Dudley Pope and Naval Staff History).


Shadowed GRAF SPEE after action until enemy ship entered Montevideo.


17th - Patrol terminated after GRAF SPEE scuttled.


21st - Landed wounded at Port Stanley and deployed on local patrol.


30th - Returned to Plate estuary for interception patrolled with HMS AJAX.



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5th - Sailed for Falklands after transferring Flag to HMS AJAX.


16th - Sailed for patrol off Rio de Janeiro.


29th - After visit to Montevideo inspected wreck of GRAF SPEE before taking passage to Port Stanley.




2nd - Took passage to New Zealand from Port Stanley.


23rd - Reverted to service in New Zealand Division after arrival at Auckland.


Taken in hand for refit and damage repair.


March to May


Under refit.




Carried out post refit trials and prepared for operational service.


14th - Deployed for Sea Trials and work-up in Hauraki Gulf.


18th - Dispatched to assist survivors of ss NIAGARA which had struck mine laid by the German raider KONDOR. Located lifeboats and towed these towards Hauraki Gulf.


22nd - Deployed for search near Kermadac Islands.


28th - Returned to Auckland.




20th - Embarked Chief of Army Staff and Chief of Air Staff for passage to Fiji. Passage to Fiji for Defence conference.


23rd - Arrived at Fiji.


26th - Passage to Tonga.


28th - Arrived at Tonga.


31st - On return to Auckland became Flagship for Commodore NZ Division.




20th - Deployed in search for German raider ORION after sinking of ss TURAKINA in Three Kings Island area.


25th - After refuelling in Auckland deployed to continued search off Campbell Island in Southern Ocean.


27th - Escorted mv ORCADES from Wellington to Lyttleton.


28th - Escorted troop convoy to Melbourne. (Note: Convoy include mv ORCADES, ss EMPRESS OF JAPAN and rms MAURETANIA).




2nd - Return passage to Auckland.


6th - Embarked NZ Government officers for passage to Tahiti for conference.


15th - Passage to Cook Islands with officials for conference.


21st - Passage to Auckland from Raratonga.




21st - Deployed for interception patrol off North Cape.




7th - Escorted Military Convoy US7 for passage to Sydney.


16th - Deployed for patrol off Auckland Island and Campbell Island.


28th - Searched for raider after report from ss RANGATANE which was subsequently sunk. Located wreckage.


30th - Interception patrol continued off Auckland.




1st - Escorted mail steamer from North Cape to Tasman Sea.


5th - Escorted mv DOMINION MONARCH to Wellington.


8th - Carried out search for raider in Tasman Sea.


Returned to Auckland when operation cancelled.


20th - Escorted Military Convoy US8 to Sydney


23rd - At Sydney.


30th - Escorted US Military Convoy T1 for passage to Auckland.



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2nd - Detached to escort Convoy VK1 to Auckland.


6th - Escorted as EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA for passage to Fiji and returned to Auckland.


10th - Routine docking.




7th - Escorted liner for part of passage to Panama and detached at Chatham Island.


12th - Escorted Convoy ZT2 to Sydney.


18th - Detached for escort of liner to Cap Maria Van Diemen, North Island NZ.


26th - Escorted Convoy AP13 on passage to Panama to position 450 miles N of Chatham Is.




3rd - Escorted Convoy APP14 to same area.


6th - Deployed on escort of Panama convoys towards Chatham Island.


20th - Released from convoy defence in Pacific.




7th - Escorted military convoy to Australian coast with HM Australian Cruisers AUSTRALIA and HOBART.


10th - Detached for escort of rms QUEEN MARY to join Convoy US10 from Sydney to Aden.


11th - Joined Military Convoy US10 which included rms QUEEN ELIZABETH, ss ILE DE FRANCE, ss MAURETANIA and ss NIEUW AMSTERDAM.


12th - Detached and returned to Auckland after refuelling in Sydney.




Passage to Fiji with escort of liner to position 500 miles SE of East Cape, North Island NZ.


14th - On return passage rescued survivors of HMNZ Minesweeper PURIRI which had sunk during minesweeping operation to clear mines laid by raider ORION off Hauraki Gulf.


20th - Escorted mv RANGATIRA from Wellington to Fiji.




2nd - Returned to Wellington after 26 days at sea steaming 9875 miles.


10th - Escorted Convoy AP41 (Ex VK12) to Chatham Island.


12th - Detached and escorted ship during return passage to Wellington.


14th - Further convoy escort duty Convoy to Chatham Island.


15th - When detached escorted ship for passage from Noumea


20th - Returned to Auckland.


23rd - Escorted liner to North Cape and returned with another ship to Wellington.


27th - Escorted ss AQUITANIA to Bass Strait.


30th - Joined HM Australian Cruiser AUSTRALIA for escort of Military Convoy US11A for part of passage to Aden. Convoy included as AQUITANIA, rms QUEEN MARY and rms QUEEN ELIZABETH.




Detached from convoy and returned to Auckland for refit Taken in hand on arrival. (Statistics: Miles steamed since 9/39: 133,327 Miles steamed since last docking: 41,937).


Transferred to Royal New Zealand Navy on formation and became HMNZS ACHILLES.



W a r   S e r v i c e   a s   H M N Z S   A C H I L L E S




Under refit and carried out post refit trials.


29th - Resumed escort duty and escorted rms RIMUTAKA from Cape Palliser to Chatham Island.




When detached escorted mercantile to Wellington.


15th - Deployed as Ocean Escort for Convoy US12B.


18th - On relief by HMAS ADELAIDE and HMAS SYDNEY returned to Auckland.




Deployed for interception duty in Pacific.


3rd - Carried out raider search in Tasman Sea with HMAS ADELAIDE and an HM New Zealand Armed Merchant Cruiser MONOWAI.


10th - Returned to Auckland with HMNZS MONOWAI of New Zealand Division.


14th - Relieved HMAS ADELAIDE in Tasman Sea as escorted for liner to Auckland.


20th - Escorted US liner from Auckland for part of passage to USA as far as Equator.


27th - Detached and took passage to Suva.




Passage to Auckland arriving on 4th.


8th - Escorted US Liner for passage to Australia.


22nd - Took over escort of Convoy VK21 in Bass Strait from HMAS ADELAIDE.


24th - Detached east of Chatham Island.


27th - Escorted convoy from Cape Brett to Navalu Passage.


30th - Passage from Suva with HM Cruiser LEANDER to Auckland.




5th - Deployed on escort of ships between New Zealand and Fiji.


8th - Transferred to Eastern Fleet after outbreak of war with Japan. Took passage from Suva for Port Moresby.


11th - Order to join HM Battleship PRINCE OF WALES and HM Battlecruiser REPULSE in the Eastern Fleet as part of Force Z cancelled after loss of these two ships.


Released from Eastern Fleet duty and returned to Auckland.


16th - Passage from Auckland to join US Convoy for New Caledonia from Brisbane.


19th - Joined US Cruiser US S PENSACOLA for escort of convoy which later was reinforced by HM Australian Cruisers CANBERRA and PERTH.


22nd - Detached and took passage to Sydney with HMAS CANBERRA and HMAS PERTH.


28th - Escorted Convoy ZK5 including ss AQUITANIA, ss SARPEDON and ss HERSTEIN, taking troops and stores from Sydney to Port Moresby, with HMAS AUSTRALIA, HMAS CANBERRA and HMAS PERTH.



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4th - Detached to escort ss SARPEDON and ss HERSTEIN to Noumea.


9th - Escorted NZ military convoy to Suva.


11th - Joined HM Cruiser LEANDER to escort three freighters to Auckland.


15th - Covered passage of freighters to Suva with HMNZS LEANDER, HMAS AUSTRALIA and PERTH.


17th - Under routine docking


25th - Resumed operational duty.


27th - Escorted US military convoy to Suva with US Cruiser PHOENIX.


29th - Detached when relieved by HMNZS LEANDER.




12th - Joined HMAS AUSTRALIA, HMNZS MONOWAI, US Cruiser CHICAGO and Destroyers LAMSON and PERKINS in ANZAC Squadron at Suva with HMS LEANDER.


14th - Deployed with Squadron for patrol between Fiji and New Caledonia.


18th - Squadron joined US Task Force 11 for defence operation off Rabaul. (Note: TF11 included US aircraft carrier LEXINGTON, cruisers INDIANAPOLIS, MINNEAPOLIS, PENSACOLA and SAN FRANCISCO, with screen of US Navy destroyers.)


20th - Under air attack and need for high speed manoeuvres reduced fuel stock. Withdrew from area to refuel and rejoined on 22nd.




3rd - Relieved US Cruiser PORTLAND with HMS LEANDER as escort for Convoy PW2034 during passage to Brisbane.


16th - Deployed at Noumea.


17th - Escorted HM Australian Armed Merchant Cruiser WESTRALIA with HMS LEANDER for passage to Epata, New Hebrides with US personnel and equipment for construction of an airstrip.


18th - Returned to Noumea.


28th - Deployed with ANZAC Squadron for escort of convoy taking US troops to Vila, New Hebrides. Returned to Suva on release..




1st - Sailed from Noumea to meet Convoy PW2055.


3rd - Escorted rms QUEEN ELIZABETH, ss MARIPOSA and ss PRESIDENT COOLIDGE from Kermadoc Islands during passage to Sydney.


6th - Mountings for seven single 20am Oerlikon mountings fitted in Sydney to supplement defence against close range air attacks.


18th - Deployed as escort liner on passage from Melbourne to San Francisco as far as a position NE of Samoa.


29th - Joined US Destroyers USS HELM and USS HELMSEY and HMS LEANDER to form Task Group 12.2. Escorted Convoy PW2059 for passage to Vila.




4th - Arrived at Vila with convoy.


5th - Joined US Task Force 17 with HMAS AUSTRALIA and HMAS HOBART for the support of US amphibious operations in SW Pacific. 20mm Oerlikon guns fitted (Ex HMS LEANDER).


6th - Commenced series of night patrols off New Hebrides.


25th - Escorted US ships to Wallis Island.


29th - Deployed for further escort of US ships to Wallis Island.




Deployed as Guardship at Wallis Island.


20th - Returned to Suva and rejoined TF17.




Deployed with TF17.


9th - Escorted military convoy from Bora Bora to Wellington.


11th - Arrived at Wellington.


28th - Passage to Pago Pago from Auckland with transports.


31st - Arrived at Pago Pago with transports.




Deployed at Pago Pago for convoy defence and support duties.


2nd - Escorted US convoy on passage from San Francisco to Suva.


12th - Convoy defence and support in continuation.


22nd - Deployed at Noumea.




2nd - Escorted ships to Tonga from Noumea and Niue.


16th - Passage to Auckland for refit.


20th - Taken in hand for refit at Auckland.


October to November


Under refit.




Carried out post refit trials.


12th - On completion escorted ss AQUITANIA from Wellington to Tasmania.


Relieved off Tasmania by HMAS ADELAIDE.


17th - After refuelling in Melbourne took passage to Noumea


21st - On arrival at Noumea joined US Task Force 65.


30th - Transferred to US Task Force 67 at Espiritu Santo. New Hebrides. (Note: TF 67 included US cruisers HONOLULU and COLOMBIA)



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3rd - Escorted military convoys to Guadalcanal with ships of TF67.


4th - Deployed off Solomons and bombarded airfield at Munda, New Georgia.


5th - Whilst providing naval gunfire support off Guadalcanal hit on X turret during air attacks and badly damaged.


8th - Under temporary repair at Espiritu Santo by US repair ship VESTAL.


On completion of repair took passage to Melbourne.




1st - Passage from Melbourne to Auckland.


3rd - Arrived at Auckland.


4th - Repair arranged in UK and prepared for passage.


19th - Took passage to UK via Panama call with calls at Bora Bora and Bermuda.




On passage to UK.


22nd - Arrived at Portsmouth and Paid-off.


April to May


Taken in hand for refit by HM Dockyard Portsmouth,




22nd - Explosion in empty fuel tank killed several dockyard workers and caused very extensive structural damage.




Refit completion deferred from September 1943 to May 1944.


August to December


Under refit. One 6in mounting (X) removed Single 4in AA mountings replaced by Twin 4in mountings. Additional 20mm Oerlikons fitted.



1 9 4 4


January to April


Under refit at Portsmouth. Surface warning, combined surface and aircraft warning radars fitted. Fire control radars fitted for 6in and AA armament installed. (For details of development and use of radar in RN see RADAR AT SEA by D Howse).




23rd - Commissioned for service with RNZN. Not ready for operational deployment.


Ordered to leave Portsmouth because of requirements for planned Normandy landings.




2nd - Sailed for Scapa Flow via Irish Sea. Machinery defects during passage. Allocated for service with 4th Cruiser Squadron in Eastern Fleet.


3rd - Taken in hand for repair at Greenock.




Under repair. On completion of repair work took passage to Scapa Flow for work-up.




Worked-up with for operational service with ships of Home Fleet.


16th - Took passage for Gibraltar.


19th - Embarked 300 troops.


20th - Took passage to Algiers and disembarked troops.


22nd - Passage to Alexandria with call at Malta.


30th - Sailed from Alexandria for Ceylon.




5th - Boiler room fire caused damage needing repair.


13th - Under repair at Trincomalee after call at Bombay.




Under repair.




Under repair


22nd - Transferred to BPF on formation.




Carried out harbour trials.


4th - Joined Squadron at Colombo on completion of trials.


9th - Sailed from Colombo with HM Escort Aircraft Carriers ATHELING, BATTLER, HM Destroyers WAGER and WHELP for passage to Australia.


10th - Joined HM Escort Aircraft Carriers FENCER, STRIKER, HM Cruiser SWIFTSURE, HM Destroyers KEMPENFELT, WAKEFUL and WESSEX.


16th - Detached with HMS SWIFTSURE for visits to Fremantle and Hobart.



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At Hobart.


9th - Sailed from Hobart with HM Australian Destroyers QUIBERON and QUICKMATCH as escort for three liners on passage to Indian Ocean.


14th - Detached when relieved by HM Cruiser LONDON and took passage to Fremantle.


21st - Joined escort for mv RIMUTAKI taking Governor General Designate of Australia (HRH The Duke of Gloucester) to Sydney as relief for HM Cruiser SUFFOLK, HM Aircraft Carrier UNICORN and HM Destroyer ULSTER.


27th - Arrived at Sydney with mv RIMUTAKI, HMAS QUIBERON and QUICKMATCH.


31st - Passage to Auckland with HM Battleship HOWE, HM Destroyers QUADRANT, QUALITY and QUICKMATCH (RAN) for visit by CinC British Pacific Fleet.




5th - Arrived at Auckland


6th - Taken in hand for refit.




Under refit. Single 20mm mountings replaced by twin Oerlikon mountings.




Carried out post refit trials.


26th - On completion took passage to Australia for work-up prior to BPF service.




2nd - Worked up with BPF ships in Sydney and Jervis Bay exercise area.


11th - Sailed to join BPF at Manus.


22nd - Joined Task Force 57 in Replenishment area COOTIE off Okinawa.


23rd - Deployed with screen during flying operations off Sakishima Gunto. (Operation ICEBERG).


30th - Arrived at Manus and remained when other BPF ships went to Australia..




Operational deployment in SW Pacific with 5th US Fleet.


12th - Transferred to Task Unit 111.2 for series of air attacks on Truk by HM Aircraft Carrier IMPLACABLE and HM Escort Aircraft Carrier RULER, HM Cruisers SWIFTSURE, UGANDA and NEWFOUNDLAND screened by HM Destroyers TROUBRIDGE, TENACIOUS, TEAZER, TERPSICHORE and TERMAGANT. (Operation INMATE). (For details of operations in Pacific see OPERATION PACIFIC by E Gray, TASK FORCE 57 by P Smith and WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO).)


13th - Detached with cruisers during flying operations.


14th - Bombarded island of Dublon with UGANDA and TENACIOUS.


17th - Began Self Refit on return to Manus.


28th - Resumed operational service at Manus.




Transferred to 3rd US Fleet for duty in Task Force 37 with BPF ships.


6th - Rejoined 4th Cruiser Squadron when British Pacific Fleet returned to Manus from Australia.


16th - Deployed with BPF as redesignated TF37 in operations off mainland of Japan. Acted as Screen and used for shore bombardment with BPF (Preliminary phase of Operation OLYMPIC).


20th - Refuelled from USN tankers of Task Unit 30.8 with HM Cruisers UGANDA and GAMBIA in order to continue participation in joint RN/US operations off Japan.


24th - Covered carrier flying operations against targets in Kure, Miko, Kobe, Nagoya and Tokyo.


31st - Stationed between US Task Force 37 and British Task Force 38 during refuelling of USN ships to act as voice communication link between allied ships.




BPF deployment in continuation.


6th - Remained in operational area with TF37 during final air operations.


11th - Returned to Manus with HM Aircraft Carriers FORMIDABLE, IMPLACABLE, VICTORIOUS, HM Cruisers ARGONAUT and EURYALUS screened by eight destroyers.


24th - Passage to Auckland to rejoin RNZN.



P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS ACHILLES was deployed as Guardship at Tokyo in October 1945and returned to New Zealand in March 1946. She took passage for UK in August 1946 and reverted to RN control. After a refitting this ship was transferred to the Royal Indian Navy as INS DELHI on 5th July 1948. She represented the RIN at the Coronation Review in 1953. From 1958 she was used for training duties until being scrapped after 1976.






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








VK 001





ZT 002





HB 001








(Note on Convoys)



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