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SERVICE HISTORIES of ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS in WORLD WAR 2

by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2001

HMS AJAX  -  Leander-class Light Cruiser
including Convoy Escort Movements

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

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

LEANDER-Class cruiser ordered from Vickers Armstrong of Barrow under the 1931 Programme On 1st October 1932 and laid down as Yard No 682 on 7th February 1933. The ship was launched on  1st March 1934 as the 8th Royal Navy warship to carry the name, first used in 1767- Her completion date was 15th April 1935 at a cost of 1.48M. She served with renown during WW2, particularly at the Battle of the River Plate in December 1939 when the German battleship GRAF SPEE was badly damaged and later scuttled. After 1940 she was deployed mainly in the Mediterranean. This ship was adopted by the Civil community of Halifax in February 1942 after a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings Campaign.

 

B a t t l e   H o n o u r s

 ST. VINCENT 1780 - OFF MARTINIQUE 1780 - CHESAPEAKE  1781 & 1782  - ST KITTS  1782 - THE SAINTES 1782 - EGYPT 1801 - CALDERS ACTION  1805 - TRAFALGAR  1805 - SAN  SEBASTIAN  1613 (sic)  - BALTIC  1854-55 - JUTLAND  1916 - RIVER PLATE  1939 - MEDITERRANEAN  1940-41 - MATAPAN  1941 - GREECE 1941 - CRETE 1941 - MALTA CONVOYS 1941 - AEGEAN  1944 - NORMANDY 1944  - SOUTH FRANCE  1944

H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge:  On a Field Black a Greek helmet Gold, crested Red.

 

M o t t o

Nec quisquam nisi Ajax:  'None but Ajax can overcome Ajax'

 

 

S u m m a r y   o f   P r e - War   S e r v i c e

 

1 9 3 2

 

October                  Ordered under 1931 Estimates

 

1 9 3 3

 

February

                7th          Laid down at Barrow by Vickers-Armstrong

 

1 9 3 4

 

March

                1st           Launched

 

1 9 3 5

 

March                    Contractors Trials

 

April                       Acceptance Trials

                15th        Commissioned for service in South American Division on America and West Indies Squadron.

 

May                        Worked-up for service.

 

June                        Diverted for detached service in Mediterranean Fleet after Abyssinian crisis.

 

July                         Deployed in Mediterranean.

to October

 

November              Released from detached service and took passage to Bermuda to join Squadron.

 

December              Deployed in West Indies.

 

1 9 3 6    t o    1 9 3 7

 

                                Deployed with West Indies Squadron for exercise and visits including ports in

                                South America, USA and Canada.

                                Return passage to UK to refit and re-commission.

 

 

 

1 9 3 8

 

January

                11th        Recommissioned for service in America and West Indies Squadron.

                                (Note: During refit single 4in guns in secondary armament replaced by twin 4in mountings.)

 

February                Rejoined Squadron at Bermuda,

 

March                    Deployed with Squadron in West Indies

to

December

 

 

1 9 3 9

 

January                  Deployed off west coast of South America.

                27th        Joined HM Cruiser EXETER at Talcuahano, Chile to assist local authority

                                in rescue of victims following an earthquake.

February                Returned to Bermuda.

 

March                    Deployed with South American Division in South Atlantic.

to August.

 

 

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

                3rd          Deployed for trade defence duty.

                                Intercepted German ships OLINDA and CARL FRITZEN between Rio Grande

                                do Sul and Plate estuary and both scuttled.

                11th        Guardship at Port Stanley and carried out patrol in Falklands area.

                21st         Redeployed on trade defence between Plate Estuary and Rio de Janeiro.

 

October

                3rd          Joined HM Cruiser EXETER after sinking of ss CLEMENT by German battleship

                                GRAF SPEE which HAD LEFT Germany before the outbreak of war.

                5th          Deployed with HM Cruisers EXETER and CUMBERLAND as Force G Hunting

                                Group in South Atlantic to search for GRAF SPEE.

 

November              Search for commerce raider in continuation.

                27th        Arrived at Port Stanley.

 

December              Resumed search duty with Force G

                5th          Intercepted German freighter USSKUMA with HM Cruiser CUMBERLAND.

                                German ship scuttled.

                13th        Took part in Battle of the River Plate with HM Cruisers EXETER and ACHILLES.

                                Harried GRAF SPEE after HMS EXETER retired from action.

                                X and Y-turrets were disabled and some structural damage was sustained.

                                There were 12 casualties including 7 killed.

                                (For details see BATTLE OF THE RIVER PLATE by W Pope and Naval Staff

                                History).

                16th        Remained off Plate estuary with HMS CUMBERLAND and HMS ACHILLES.

                17th        GRAF SPEE scuttled off Montevideo.

                18th        Detached to refuel at Port Stanley.

                29th        Resumed trade defence duty.

 

1 9 4 0

 

January                 

                1st           Visited Montevideo.

                5th          Passage to Freetown, via Rio de Janeiro.

                                Joined by HM Aircraft Carrier ARK ROYAL, HM Battlecruiser RENOWN, HM Destroyers

                                HASTY, HERO, DAINTY and DIAMOND during passage

                22nd       Passage to UK for refit.

                31st         Arrived at Plymouth.

 

February                Paid off and taken in hand for refit by HM Dockyard Chatham.

 

March                    Under refit.

to                            Zarebas fitted to 4in Guns. Tripod masts fitted and aircraft warning radar Type 279

June                        installed.

 

July                         Post refit trials and recommissioning.

                                Nominated for service in Mediterranean.

 

August                  Worked-up for service and transferred to 7th Cruiser Squadron.

                                Nominated for escort of mercantiles carrying motor transport during passage to

                                Egypt.

                                (Note: This convoy was intended to pass through the Mediterranean as part of Operation

                                HATS but it was later decided to divert it via Cape of Good Hope.

                                The ships carrying personnel and tanks remained with the warships joining

                                the Mediterranean Fleet which went direct to Alexandria. For details see

                                Naval Staff History (2002).)

                21st         Sailed from UK as part of escort with HM Cruiser YORK during passage via Cape of Good

                                Hope to Middle East.

 

September

                2nd         At Freetown.

                13th        At Durban

                                (Note: Italian offensive in western desert began.)

                26th        Escorted troopships EMPRESS OF JAPAN, ORION and ORONSAY from Aden to Suez.

                23rd        At Suez.

                30th        Joined HMS SYDNEY (RAN) in 7th Cruiser Squadron at Alexandria for deployment in

                                Eastern Mediterranean.

 

October

                3rd          Sailed from Alexandria with HM Battleships MALAYA, RAMILLIES, HM Aircraft

                                Carrier EAGLE, HM Cruiser COVENTRY with screen of eight destroyers to

                2nd         Took part in searched for Italian convoys taking supplies to Libya with Fleet units

                8th          Deployed with HM Battleships WARSPITE, VALIANT, MALAYA and RAMILLIES, HM

                                Aircraft Carriers ILLUSTRIOUS and EAGLE, HM Cruisers YORK, GLOUCESTER,

                                LIVERPOOL, SYDNEY and ORION with screen of 16 Fleet destroyers to cover passage

                                of Malta convoy MF3 (Operation MB6)

                11th        Detached at Malta with HMS ORION for patrol SE of island.

                12th        Provided cover for Convoy MF4 to Alexandria with Fleet units and deployed with ships of

                                Squadron east of Fleet

                                In close range night action with HM Cruisers ORION, SYDNEY and YORK screened

                                by HM Destroyers NUBIAN and MOHAWK against Italian convoy in Gulf of Otranto.

                                Two destroyers, AIRONE and ARIEL were sunk and destroyer ARTIGLIERE damaged.

                                Hit by 7 shells resulting in 35 casualties including 13 killed.

                                (Note: Bridge structure and radar items damaged.

                                For details see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by Corelli Barnett

                                and Naval Staff History (HMSO 2002).

                                ARTIGLIERE was sunk later by HMS YORK when under tow after the action)

                14th        Under air attacks during which HMS LIVERPOOL was hit by a torpedo and had to be

                                taken in tow by HMS ORION.

                16th        Arrived at Alexandria with Fleet units.

                29th        Embarked advance party of York and Lancaster Regiment for passage to Suda Bay.

                                (Note: This was in response to Italian invasion of Greece and first phase of British

                                support for defence of Crete.)

 

November

                1st           Arrived at Suda Bay, Crete from Alexandria with HM Cruisers COVENTRY and CALCUTTA,

                                HM Netlayer PROTECTOR, HM Minesweeper FAREHAM and for destroyers to set up

                                forward base.

                                Under air attack and near missed.

                2nd         During return to Alexandria with HMS COVENTRY again under air attack and again

                                near missed.

                4th          Sailed from Alexandria for Suda Bay with HMS SYDNEY (RAN) having embarked HQ

                                14th Armoured Brigade, AA Guns and troops for service in Crete (Operation BARBARITY).

                5th          After disembarking troops and equipment sailed from Suda Bay with HMS ORION

                                for visits to Piraeus and Candida.

                                (Note: The passage of reinforcements to Crete and of Aegean convoys were covered by Fleet

                                units including HM Battleships BARHAM, VALIANT and HMS EAGLE with

                                screen of eight destroyers (Operation MB8).

                6th          Passage to join Fleet units covering the passage of Convoy MW3 to Malta.

                10th        Joined HMS WARSPITE, HMS VALIANT, HMS MALAYA, HMS RAMILLIES, HMS

                                ILLUSTRIOUS, HMS GLOUCESTER, HMS YORK, HMS ORION and destroyer screen

                                deployed as Force A.

                                (Part of Operation COAT with ships of Force H to cover transit of convoys to and

                                from Malta, concurrent with reinforcement of Mediterranean Fleet by ships from UK).

                11th        Detached from Force A with HMS ORION, HMS SYDNEY, HM Destroyers MOHAWK and

                                NUBIAN to carry out offensive sweep in Straits of Otranto during JUDGEMENT.

                                (Note: Ships of Force A were deployed for cover of air attacks on Taranto by

                                HMS ILLUSTRIOUS which had detached with screen of cruisers and destroyers

                                (Operation JUDGEMENT).)

                12th        Intercepted Italian 4 ship convoy escorted by auxiliary cruiser RAMB III and

                                torpedo boat FABRIZI. All mercantiles were sunk but escorts escaped.

                                Rejoined Force A.

                                (Note: A second attack on Taranto was planned but cancelled in view of weather

                                forecast in target area.)

                13th        Detached from Force A with HMS MALAYA, HMS BARHAM, and five destroyers.

                                Took passage to Suda Bay to refuel before return to Alexandria to resume Squadron

                                duties.

                                For details of these operations see Naval Staff History.

                15th        Embarked troops at Alexandria with HM Cruisers GLOUCESTER, YORK, SYDNEY and

                                ORION for passage to Piraeus.

                20th        Disembarked troops and took return passage to Alexandria.

                23rd        Deployed with HM Battleships MALAYA, RAMILLIES, HM Aircraft Carrier EAGLE,

                                HM Cruisers BERWICK, ORION, SYDNEY, screened by destroyers as Force B to cover

                                passage of convoy to Crete and carry out air attacks on Tripoli from HMS EAGLE.

                26th        Arrived at Malta with Force C when HMS MALAYA, HMS RAMILLIES and HMS

                                BERWICK detached to join Force D for passage to Gibraltar.

                28th        Deployed to cover passage of HM Cruisers MANCHESTER and SOUTHAMPTON, four corvettes

                                and four mercantiles during passage through Sicilian Narrows.

                                (Note: These ships had been involved in the action against an Italian Force on 27th

                                and detached afterwards from ships of Force H.

                                Battle of Cape Spartivento, see Naval Staff History.)

                                On arrival off Malta detached from cover and took passage to Suda Bay with the four corvettes.

                30th        Arrived at Suda Bay.

 

December              Deployed with HMS ORION and HMAS SYDNEY for defence of convoys in Aegean.

                                based at Suda Bay.

                16th        Returned to Suda Bay with Squadron to refuel and resumed cover for Aegean convoys.

                17th        Joined by HM Cruisers YORK and GLOUCESTER of CS3 and took passage as Force B to

                                to rejoin Mediterranean Fleet units providing Distant Cover for transit of Convoys MW5A

                                and B from Egypt to Malta, as well as of Convoy.ME5 from Malta to Egypt.)

                                (Note: Part of Operations MC2 and MC3. These also included air attacks on Dodecanese.

                                on Port Skala, Valona, bombardment of Valona and cover of transit of HMS MALAYA

                                four destroyers and two mercantiles to Gibraltar. All by Force A ships which comprised

                                HMS WARSPITE, HMS VALIANT and HMS ILLUSTRIOUS screened by 11 destroyers.

                18th        Detached with HM Cruisers ORION and SYDNEY and HM Destroyers JANUS,

                                JERVIS and JUNO as screen during offensive sweep in Otranto Strait.

                19th        Rejoined Force A to provide cover for transit of ships to Gibraltar after unsuccessful search.

                                (Operation HIDE.)

                23rd        Remained with Force A to provide escort for passage of Convoy ME5A to Alexandria.

                24th        Returned to Alexandria with Fleet units.

 

1 9 4 1

 

January

                6th          Sailed from Alexandria with HMS ORION, HMS YORK, HM Corvettes GLOXINIA,

                                PEONY, HYACINTH, SALVIA and RFA Tanker BRAMBLELEAF to Suda Bay.

                7th          Arrived at Suda Bay with two destroyers and four corvettes for defence of military convoys

                                to and from Greece.

                                (Note: Part of Mediterranean Fleet major operation designed to cover the passage of military

                                convoys to Greece and Malta concurrent with other Malta supply convoys

                                (Operation EXCESS - See Naval Staff History and ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE

                                CLOSELY).

                11th        Detached with HM Battleship BARHAM, HM Aircraft Carrier EAGLE and destroyers

                                to carry out commando raid on Dodecanese but operation cancelled due to weather.

                                (Note: Source other than the Naval Staff History records this Operation, MC6 was

                                to carry out air attacks on Dodecanese from HMS ILLUSTRIOUS but that

                                cancellation was due to withdrawal of the aircraft carrier because of damage

                                after air attacks on 10th.)

                12th        Joined HMS WARSPITE, HMS VALIANT which had been deployed to cover passage

                                of to Alexandria for convoy ME6 after passage through Sicilian Narrows.

                                (Note Operation MC4 part of Operation EXCESS transit of military convoy in eastern

                                Mediterranean, See Naval Staff History, Battle Summary No.18.)

                                These major Fleet units had been under sustained and heavy air attacks during

                                which HM Cruiser SOUTHAMPTON was sunk, HMS ILLUSTRIOUS and

                                HM Cruiser GLOUCESTER seriously damaged.. See reference and MALTA

                                CONVOYS by R Woodman.)

                16th        Arrived at Alexandria after completion of ME6 escort

                31st         Escorted convoy to Piraeus with HM Cruiser COVENTRY.

 

February

                2nd         Took passage from Piraeus after arrival of convoy.

                19th        Embarked troops and stores of Cheshire Regt. and Hampshire Regt. and sailed from

                                Alexandria with HMS ORION and HMS GLOUCESTER also carrying troops for the

                                reinforcement of Malta Garrison. HM Destroyers NUBIAN and MOHAWK were

                                deployed for escort during high speed passage.

                                (Operation MC8 which also included cover by Fleet units for this transit and that of

                                two mercantiles from Malta to Egypt.)

                21st         Disembarked troops in Malta and took return passage to Alexandria with HMS

                                ORION.

 

March

                4th          Embarked troops at Suda bay for passage to Greece with HMS PERTH (RAN), ORION

                                and GLOUCESTER screened by four destroyers.

                                (Operation LUSTRE Military support of Greece by British personnel).

                6th          Deployed with same ships to cover passage of troop reinforcements to Greece.

                24th        Escort of convoy to Piraeus from Alexandria with HMS PERTH, HMS ORION and

                                HMS GLOUCESTER.

                27th        On arrival ordered to be in position south of Crete off Gavdo Island by 0630 on

                               28th March to join Mediterranean Fleet units.

                28th        Ships became Force B of Mediterranean Fleet and took part in Battle of Matapan.

                                (Full details in THE BATTLE OF MATAPAN by SW Pack, and Naval Staff History,

                                Battle Summary No 44.)

                29th        Detached with HM Cruiser PERTH and HM Destroyers STUART (RAN) and GRIFFIN

                                for escort of LUSTRE convoys to Piraeus.

 

April

                6th          At Piraeus with HMS COVENTRY during air raid when ss CLAN FRASER was hit

                                and blown up. No damage sustained.

                10th        Covered passage of HM Destroyers JERVIS, JANUS, NUBIAN and MOHAWK to

                                Malta for duty as striking force against Italian supply convoys.

                12th        Carried out offensive sweep off Ras-el-Tin with HMS ORION and HMS PERTH (RAN).

                18th        Sailed from Alexandria with HM Battleships WARSPITE, BARHAM, VALIANT,

                                HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, HM Cruisers CALCUTTA, GLOUCESTER, ORION and

                                PHOEBE screened by destroyers to provide cover for passage of HM Supply Ship

                                BRECONSHIRE to Malta from Egypt and Convoy ME7 from Malta (Operation MD2).

                19th        At Suda Bay with same ships and sailed after destroyers had refuelled as Force C

                                with HMS FORMIDABLE. HMS ORION and HMAS PERTH, screened by HM

                                Destroyers DECOY, DEFENDER, GREYHOUND and ILEX to provide air cover to

                                major warships designated Force B during bombardment of Tripoli (Operation MD3)

                21st         Deployed off shore during air operations in defence of Fleet units during bombardment.

                                See Naval Staff History, Battle Summary No 19 for details of MD2 and MD3)

                24th        Assisted in evacuation of allied troops from Greece with HMS ORION, HMS PHOEBE

                                and HMAS PERTH (Operation DEMON).

                27th        Embarked 3,850 men from Rafina and Raftis with HM Destroyers KINGSTON and

                                KIMBERLEY for passage to Suda Bay

                29th        Embarked further 1,700 men including Major-General Sir Bernard Freyburg, VC the,

                                commander of the NZ Division commander and Rear Admiral HT Baillie-Grornan at

                                Monemvasia and took them to Suda Bay.

                                HM Destroyers GRIFFIN, ISIS and HOTSPUR also embarked troops, Total 4,320.

                                (Note: Evacuations were made under frequent air attacks, See Naval Staff History.)

 

May

                6th          Covered passage to Malta of convoys MW7A and B with HMS WARSPITE, HMS BARHAM, HMS

                                MALAYA, HMS FORMIDABLE, HM Cruisers ORION and PERTH screened by 19

                                destroyers and deployed as Force A (Operation MD4)

                                (Note: MD4 was a joint operation with Force H to provide cover for passage of military

                                TIGER convoy carrying tanks from UK to Egypt for the 8th Army. It also provided

                                cover for Convoys MA7A and B during passage to Malta and passage of reinforcement

                                warships to Alexandria , HM Battleship QUEEN ELIZABETH and HM Cruiser FIJI..

                7th          Detached with HM Destroyers IMPERIAL, HAVOCK and HOTSPUR for bombardment

                                of the Benghazi area (Operation MD6)

                8th          Carried out bombardment.

                                During passage to rejoin Fleet engaged and sank an Italian supply vessels TENACE and

                                CAPITANO CECCHI. See Naval Staff History.

                                Rejoined Force A.

                9th          Detached with HMS ORION, HMAS PERTH, HMS DIDO and ships of 5th Destroyer

                                Flotilla for escort of TIGER convoy.

                11th        Under air attacks which were repelled by aircraft from HMS FORMIDABLE.

                12th        Arrived at Alexandria with Fleet units.

                18th        Sailed from Alexandria with HMS WARSPITE, HMS VALIANT and screen of 8 destroyers

                                to relieve HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH and HMS VALIANT on patrol north of Crete.

                19th        Deployed off Crete.

                20th        Joined HMS ORION, HMS DIDO, HM Destroyers KIMBERLEY, JANUS, HASTY and

                                HEREWARD in Force D.

                21st         Under air attacks and sustained damage from near miss

                                Detached to join HMS WARSPITE and HMS VALIANT escorted by Fleet destroyers for

                                cover of minelay by HM Minelaying Cruiser ABDIEL off Cephalonia to block entry

                                to Corinth Canal (Operation MAT1 - See Naval Staff History (MINING)).

                                Carried out offensive sweep with HMS DIDO and ORION escorted by HM Destroyers

                                JANUS,, KIMBERLEY, HASTY and HEREWARD.

                                Intercepted enemy convoy north of Cannae. Under heavy air attacks during the operation.

                                Sank 10 caiques and damaged Italian destroyer LUPO. See Naval Staff History.

                22nd       Returned to Alexandria to refuel and replenish ammunition.

                                Took passage back to Crete on completion.

                24th        Carried out unsuccessful search for invasion convoys N. of Crete with HMS DIDO,

                                HM Destroyers HOTSPUR, ISIS and IMPERIAL.

                27th        Refuelled and re-ammunitioned at Alexandria.

                28th        Sailed to assist in evacuation of allied troops from Crete.

                                Damaged in air attack on passage with HMS DIDO, HMS ORION, HM Destroyers

                                DECOY, JACKAL, IMPERIAL, HOTSPUR, KIMBERLY and HEREWARD.

                                (Note: Withdrew but damage found to be less serious and took passage to Heraklion

                                to evacuate troops.

                29th        During return passage under sustained air attacks and sustained further damage

                                by near misses causing some flooding.

                                (Note: For full details of the disastrous operations off Greece and Crete see

                                THE BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by Donald MacIntyre, ENGAGE

                                THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY, Naval Staff History and Military History,

                                Middle East Vol. 2.)

                                During the evacuations and other operations since April the ship spent less than

                                10 nights in harbour).

 

June                        Deployed In support of military operations against Vichy French in Syria.

                                (Operation EXPORTER).

                7th          Sailed from Alexandria with HM Cruiser PHOEBE, HM Destroyers JACKAL, JANUS,

                                KANDAHAR and KIMBERLEY deployed as Force B for support of military operations

                                and to provide cover for commando attack north of Tyre from HM Special Service Vessel

                                GLENGYLE escorted by HM Cruiser COVENTRY.

                8th          Arrived off coast of Syria.

                                Operation abandoned due to weather.

                                Escorted convoy to Sidon with Force B and under torpedo attack by the Vichy submarine

                                CAIMAN which was believed damaged during 2 hour anti-submarine attacks by destroyers.

                9th          Commando operation to capture bridge over Litani River successful.

                                On release from cover duty took passage with Force B and HM Destroyers ISIS,

                                HOTSPUR, JANUS and JACKAL for patrol off Tyre.

                                Diverted to intercept Vichy destroyers reported shelling bridge in Litania river but

                                ships had left the area.

                                Took passage to Haifa leaving destroyers at the scene.

                                Returned with HMS PHOEBE to assist destroyers which had been in action against

                                Vichy French destroyers GUEPARD and VALMY.

                                On arrival remained with HMS JANUS which had been seriously damaged with several

                                casualties.

                                Took passage to Haifa with HMS KANDAHAR as escort for tow of HMS JANUS by

                                HMS KIMBERLEY.

                                (Note: Naval support to military operations and offensive operations against Vichy

                                warships continued with reliefs from Alexandria for cruisers and destroyers

                                deployed for DEMON which returned for replenishment.)

 

July

                4th          Bombarded Vichy positions near Beirut with HMS NAIAD, HMS KIMBERLEY, HMS

                                HAVOCK and HMS HASTY

                                Repeated this support operation daily until 7th July.

                                When released from EXPORTER resumed Fleet duties at Alexandria.

                22nd       Deployed with HMS VALIANT, HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, HM Cruisers LEANDER,

                                PHOEBE, HOBART (RAN), NEPTUNE screened by SEVEN destroyers for diversionary

                                Operation MD5 west of Crete during passage of Malta relief convoy from Gibraltar.

                                (Operation SUBSTANCE).

                                (Note: Naval Staff History quotes operation identity as ME3.)

                25th        Returned to Alexandria with Fleet units.

 

August                  Under repair at Alexandria.

                                (Note: An accumulation of defects required attention.)

 

September             Resumed Fleet duties with CS7 and deployed for support of military operations.

                20th        Bombarded enemy positions at Tobruk with HM Cruisers HOBART (RAN) and

                                GALATEA.

                24th        Further bombardment at Tobruk with HMAS HOBART and HMS NEPTUNE.

                26th        Carried out bombardment of Bardia with CS7 ships.

 

October                  Under refit and repair.

                                (Note: This may have been a follow-up to earlier repair period.

                                Work possibly carried out at Alexandria or in Egypt to be determined.

                                Unlike to have been done in Malta.)

 

November              Resumed duty with Squadron for support of Tobruk garrison during siege.

                17th        Sailed from Alexandria with HMS NEPTUNE and HMAS HOBART to carry out a

                                bombardment in Gulf of Sollum in support of planned military offensive.

                                (Operation CRUSADER).

                18th        On arrival in bombardment position operation abandoned due to weather conditions.

                20th        Sailed with CS7 ships to carry out bombardment of Bardia-Tobruk road.

                21st         Carried out bombardment.

                24th        Deployed with HM Cruisers NAIAD, NEPTUNE, GALATEA, EURYALUS and screen

                                of four destroyers as Force B to carry out interception of enemy convoys reported at sea.

                                with Force K from Malta. Cover was provided by HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, HMS

                                VALIANT and HMS BARHAM.

                                (Note: During covering operation HMS BARHAM was torpedoes and sunk by U331.

                                See Naval Staff History.)

                25th        Following a successful attack by Force K carried out offensive sweep along coast until

                                ordered to return to Alexandria.

                27th        Deployed with HM Cruiser NEPTUNE, HM Destroyers KIMBERLEY and KINGSTON

                                covered by HM Cruisers EURYALUS and NAIAD with HM Destroyers GRIFFIN and

                                HOTSPUR to join Force K in Malta. Under air attack and near missed by aircraft

                                torpedo.

                                (Note: Ammunition and torpedoes for delivery to Malta were embarked )

                29th        Arrived in Malta for operations against enemy shipping with Force K.

                30th        With HMS NEPTUNE, HMS KIMBERLEY and HMS KINGSTON detached from Force K

                                to search for enemy convoy bound for Tripoli.

 

December

                1st           Returned to Malta with ships of Force K which had carried out a successful action

                                against an enemy supply convoy.

                5th          Escorted HM Supply Ship BRECONSHIRE for passage to Alexandria from Malta.

                                with HMS NEPTUNE, HMS KINGSTON, HMS KIMBERLEY and HMS LIVELY.

                                (Operation MD8)

                6th          On relief by HMAS HOBART, HMS GALATEA, HMS JAGUAR and HMS KANDAHAR

                                returned to Malta with HMS NEPTUNE and HMS LIVELY.

                16th        Under repair in Malta.

                26th        Sailed from Malta with HMS LANCE and HMS LIVELY as Force B to reinforce

                                escort of Convoy ME8 by HM Cruiser DIDO, HM destroyers ARROW, FOXHOUND

                                GURKHA and NESTOR (RAN) as Force C.

                                (Note: Force C ships were joining the Fleet at Alexandria.)

                28th        Under attack by Italian aircraft which were driven off by aircraft based ashore.

                                See Naval Staff History

                31st         Engaged shore batteries at Bardia with four destroyers in support of military operations

                                to recapture the port.

 

1 9 4 2.

 

January                  To be withdrawn from service for refit in UK.

 

February

                6th          Sailed from Suez for passage via Cape of Good Hope.

 

March

                9th          Called at Mombasa.

 

April

                4th          Called at Freetown.

                14th        Arrived in Clyde.

 

May                        Paid off at Chatham and prepared for refit.

 

June

                6th          Taken in hand for refit by HM Dockyard Chatham.

 

July                         Under refit

to                            Additional AA armament fitted including eleven 20mm Oerlikon guns.

September             Fire control radars fitted for main armament (Type 284), for AA armament(Type285)

                                and Barrage Control (Type 283). Improved design Aircraft warning radar (Type 281)

                                replaced Type 279. Surface warning radar fitted (Type 272).

                                Aircraft facilities removed.

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

 

October                  Post refit trials.

                                Nominated for service in Mediterranean after work-up.

                24th        Recommissioned at Chatham

 

November

                6th          Passage to Sheerness to embark ammunition before sailing to Scapa Flow

                9th          Worked-up at Scapa Flow with Home Fleet for operational service.

 

December              On completion of work-up prepared for foreign service.

                                Passage to Mediterranean.

                31st         Joined Force Q at Bone for attacks on enemy convoys and convoy defence.

 

1 9 4 3

 

January

                1st           Damaged by air attacks during escort of coastal convoy and later by 1,000lb bomb

                                during air raid at Bone. Two boiler rooms put out of action and a third damaged.

                7th          Towed to Gibraltar for temporary repair

 

February                Under temporary repair at Gibraltar.

                                Permanent repair arranged in USA.

 

March                    Passage to New York.

 

April                       Taken in hand for repair at Norfolk Navy Yard, Virginia.

 

May                        Under repair

to                            US quadruple 40mm AA mountings fitted with provision for British fire control

September             radar Type 282. IFF Type 242 fitted.

                                US Fire control radar fitted in place of Type 284.

 

October                  Post refit trials.

 

November

                2nd         Passage to UK via Bermuda.

 

December              Completion of installation of British equipment not possible in USA and prepared

                                for service.

                                Nominated for service in Mediterranean.

                25th        Recommissioned at Portsmouth.

                28th        Commenced Work-up with Home Fleet at Scapa Flow.

 

1 9 4 4

 

January                  On completion took passage to Join Fleet in Mediterranean.

 

February

                2nd         Arrived at Algiers and deployed in Central Mediterranean.

 

March                    Transferred to Alexandria for duty in Eastern Mediterranean.

 

April                       Eastern Mediterranean deployment at Alexandria in continuation.

                8th          Boarding party sent to suppress mutiny on Greek cruiser GEORGIOS AVEROFF.

 

May

                2nd         Bombarded Rhodes as part of diversionary operations in eastern Mediterranean.

                                On completion took passage to UK for support of allied landings in Normandy as

                                part of Bombarding Force K supporting Force G in British Eastern Task Force.

                                (Operation NEPTUNE: For details see OPERATION NEPTUNE by K Edwards and

                                LANDINGS IN NORMANDY, JUNE 1944 (HMSO)).

                31st         Arrived at Clyde.

 

June                        Joined HM Cruisers ORION, ARGONAUT and EMERALD in Bombarding Force K.

                3rd          Passage to Channel with Force K escorted by HM Destroyers GRENVILLE

                                and UNDINE as Convoy G12.

                6th          Passage to Beachhead in Convoy G12.

                                Provided naval gunfire support during assault phase. First ship to open fire.

                                Destroyed shore battery at Longues.

                7th          Deployed in Eastern Task Force area to provide naval gunfire support.

                22nd       Portsmouth refit to replace 6in guns. 2,587 shells were fired off Normandy.

 

July                         Nominated for support of allied landings in South France (Operation DRAGOON).

                                (For details see INVASION OF THE SOUTH OF FRANCE (HMSO)).

                                Passage to Mediterranean for duty with Support Group ALPHA in Task Force 88.

                                Under US command for this operation.

                                Joined HM Cruisers AURORA and BLACK PRINCE, US cruiser QUINCY, French

                                cruiser GLOIRE, HM Destroyers TERMAGANT, TERPSICHORE and US destroyers

                                in Malta.

 

August                  Preparation for DRAGOON.

                11th        Sailed with ALPHA Group using Convoy Route 2 to Assembly area.

                15th        HM Battleship RAMILLIES joined Group from Algiers.

                                Provided naval gunfire support before assault on YELLOW Beach and then on other

                                targets as required. Fired 116 rounds.

                17th        Covered minesweeping operations with HMS TERPSICHORE and HMS TERMAGANT.

                22nd       Released from DRAGOON and reverted to control of CinC Mediterranean.

 

September             Transferred to British Aegean Force to cover re-occupation of Aegean Islands

                                and Greek mainland (Operation MANNA).

                24th        Deployed on patrol and interception of evacuation craft in Aegean.

 

October

                14th        Passage to Piraeus to support allied military operations.

                19th        Accepted surrender of German garrison at Santorin, north of Crete.

 

November              Deployed on convoy escort, convoy interception and naval gunfire support.

                                Based at Skiathos off East coast of Greece during military operations.

 

December              Deployed at Piraeus.

21st         Bombarded Communist (ELAS) positions near Piraeus.

                25th        Prime Minister and Mr Anthony Eden (Foreign Secretary) on board at Malta.

                                Ship used for meetings in preparation for Yalta conference.

 

1 9 4 5

 

January                  Deployed in Mediterranean on convoy defence and support of military operations.

to

March

 

April                       Transferred for support duty in Adriatic

 

May                        At Trieste on VE Day.

 

June                        Deployed in Mediterranean.

to

August

 

P o s t   W a r  N o t e s

 

HMS AJAX attended anniversary celebrations for South of France Landings with CinC  Mediterranean, embarked. She refitted in Malta at the end of 1945 and on completion visited ports in Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. The ship joined the1st Cruiser Squadron, Mediterranean Fleet in April 1946 until she paid off at Chatham on 16th February 1948. A proposed sale to Chile was not agreed and the ship was placed on the Disposal List in 1949- She arrived at the Breaker's yard in Newport on 18th November 1949.

 


 

Addendum

 

CONVOY ESCORT MOVEMENTS of HMS AJAX

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

 

 

 

 

 

22/08/40

22/08/40

AP 001/1

21/09/40

23/09/40

22/08/40

21/09/40

AP 002/1

22/09/40

26/09/40

19/09/40

25/09/40

BN 005A

28/09/40

29/09/40

02/03/44

02/03/44

MKF 029

06/03/44

16/03/44

 

 

 

 

 

(Note on Convoys)

 

 

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