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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2004

HMS ARETHUSA  -  Arethusa-class Light Cruiser
including Convoy Escort Movements

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Arethusa (Navy Photos/Mark Teadham, click to enlarge)

return to Contents List 

ARETHUSA-Class cruiser ordered under the 1931 Programme from HM Dockyard Chatham on 1st  September 1932 and laid down on 25th January 1933. She was launched as the 7th RN warship to bear the name on 6th March 1934 by Lady Tyrwhitt wife of Admiral Sir Reginald Tyrwhitt who had commanded the previous ship to bear this name. It was first used in 1759 when given to a Prize. The previous ship was a cruiser built in 1913 and taken out of service in 1916 after being seriously damaged by a mine in the North Sea off Harwich. Build was completed on 20th May 1935 at a cost of £1,280.463 and she was adopted in November 1941 by the civil community of  Swansea, Glamorganshire after a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign.


Battle Honours

USHANT 1778 & 1781 - ST LUCIA 1796 - CURACOA 1807 - BLACK SEA 1854 - CHINA 1900 - HELIGOLAND 1914 - DOGGER BANK 1915  - NORWAY 1940-41 - MALTA CONVOYS 1941-42 - NORMANDY 1944

Heraldic Data

Badge:  On a Field Green a crescent Gold over wavelets

Silver and Blue.



Celeriter Audax:  ‘Swiftly and audaciously’.



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


1 9 3 5


February                Contractors trials

                26th        Commissioned with reduced complement for trials.



                4th          Passage to Clyde for trials including measured mile and Full Power.

                19th        Passage to Solent on completion of trials.

                21st         Passage to Chatham

                22nd       Arrived at Chatham

                27th        Paid-off


April                       Repair of defects arising from trials


May                        Final dockyard work completed.

                21st         Commissioned for service as Flagship, 3rd Cruiser Squadron, Mediterranean Fleet.

                                (Note: Replaced HM Cruiser DELHI as Flagship.)


June                        Prepared for service.

                12th        Completed to full complement

                20th        Took passage from Chatham for work-up at Portland.

                22nd       Commenced work-up at Portland.



                11th        Took passage from Portland for Gibraltar

                15th        At Gibraltar and deployed with Mediterranean Fleet as Flagship CS3



                20th        Grounded on arrival at Malta and refloated with the aid of tugs.

                29th        Sailed from Malta with Fleet units for Exercise and Visits Programme.


September             Deployed in eastern Mediterranean with Mediterranean Fleet units.

to December          (Note: Invasion of Abyssinia by Italy resulted in reinforcement of Mediterranean Fleet

                                and an increased state of readiness for British warships.)


1 9 3 6


                Flagship duties in continuation and took part in Fleet exercises and visits programmes

                including joint exercises with Home Fleet ships at Gibraltar during annual Spring visit.

                Outbreak of civil war in Spain significantly affected Fleet requirements and included

                institution of patrols in western Mediterranean.


1 9 3 7


January                  Fleet duties as Flagship CS3 in continuation


February                Sustained structural damage in heavy weather and returned to Malta for repair.


March                    Resumed Flagship duties on completion.


April                       Squadron duties in Mediterranean.


May                        Passage to Almeria, Spain with HM Destroyer HARDY.

                14th        Sailed from Almeria with seriously damaged destroyer HMS HUNTER in tow for passage

                to Gibraltar escorted by HM Destroyers IMOGEN and ICARUS.

                (Note: This destroyer had been seriously damaged by a mine during Non-intervention

                patrol off Spanish south coast.)

                15th        Arrived at Gibraltar with HMS HUNTER in tow.


June                        Deployed with Squadron in Mediterranean

to July                    Nominated for return to UK to re-commission for further service as Flagship, 3rd Cruiser

                                Squadron, Mediterranean Fleet after refit.)



                23rd        Sailed from Malta for Sheerness

                31st         Arrived at Sheerness to de-ammunition prior to refit.


September             Paid-off and taken in hand for refit by HM Dockyard, Chatham.

to October



                2nd         Re-commissioned for service as Flagship, 3rd Cruiser Squadron, Mediterranean Fleet.

                15th        Sailed from Chatham for Spithead prior to returning to Malta for service.

                20th        Arrived at Gibraltar.

                23rd        Rejoined Squadron at Malta and Flag transferred.


December              Deployed with Squadron in Malta.


1 9 3 8


                Mediterranean Fleet duties with Squadron including joint exercises with Home Fleet in Spring.

                Took part in Spring and Summer Exercise and visits programme which included preparation

                for war service during the Munich crisis. Routine maintenance periods in Malta.


1 9 3 9


January                  Deployed with Squadron in Mediterranean and took part in joint annual exercises with

to April                  Home Fleet.


May                        Fleet deployment in continuation with Squadron and Fleet visits in eastern Mediterranean.

to June


July                         Took part in Fleet exercises in anticipation of war with Italy as arranged by CinC.


August                  Returned to Alexandria when Black Sea ports visit cancelled and prepared for war service.

                                Nominated for contraband control patrols.



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



September             Deployed with HM Cruisers GALATEA and COVENTRY for patrol duties in Mediterranean.

to October             based in Alexandria


November              Patrol duties in continuation.


December              Nominated for transfer to 2nd Cruiser Squadron, Home Fleet.

                1st           Sailed from Alexandria for patrol during passage to Malta.

                7th          Under repair in Malta.

                18th        Resumed operational service.

                23rd        Sailed for patrol.

                30th        Returned to Malta. Relieved as Flagship by HM Cruiser CALEDON.

                31st         Took passage to Gibraltar en route to UK for Home Fleet service.


1 9 4 0



                3rd          At Gibraltar

                6th          Arrived at Portsmouth and prepared for service in Home Fleet.

                26th        Sailed from Portsmouth to Scapa Flow for service with HM Cruisers PENELOPE, GALATEA

                                and AURORA as 2nd Cruiser Squadron.

                29th        Arrived at Scapa Flow.


February                Deployed for interception patrol in North Sea and NW Approaches.

                14th        Sailed from Rosyth with HM Destroyers COSSACK, INTREPID, IVANHOE, NUBIAN and

                SIKH to carry out search for German tanker ALTMARK which was carrying British merchant

                seamen captured by commerce raiders.

                17th        During deployment with HMS INTREPID and HMS IVANHOE as separate search group

                               sighted enemy ship off Egro Light

                For details of search see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by C Barnett.

                (Note: Boarding party from HMS COSSACK later rescued prisoners from ALTMARK

                in Josing Fjord, Norway.)


March                    Deployed with Squadron to carry out two offensive sweeps in Skaggerak for interception

                of enemy warships on passage to attack shipping in North Sea and NW Approaches or to

                return to Germany as blockade runners.


April                       Deployed at Rosyth

                7th          Sailed from Rosyth with HM Cruiser GALATEA, HM Destroyers AFRIDI, GURKHA, SIKH,

                MOHAWK, ZULU, COSSACK, KASHMIR, KELVIN, Polish destroyers ORP GROM, BURZA

                and BLYSKAWICA to carry out search for German warships reported on passage north of

                position 58.30N 3.30E.

                8th          Joined by HM Destroyers SOMALI, MATABELE, MASHONA and TARTAR. and continued

                                search operation.

                9th          Ordered to join ships of Home Fleet in Bergen/Trondheim area after German invasion forces

                had landed in Norway.

                HMS KELVIN and HMS KASHMIR involved in collision and detached with HMS ZULU

                and HMS COSSACK as escort during return to harbour.

                Detached with HM Cruiser GALATEA, EMILE BERTIN and two French destroyers to carry

                out sweep between Fejeosen Fjord and south of Kors Fjord to prevent enemy reinforcements

                arriving in Stavanger and Bergen.

                11th        Took passage to Scapa Flow to refuel.

                13th        Sailed from Scapa Flow with HMS GALATEA to Rosyth.

                14th        Embarked troops for and stores planned landings at Namsos (Operation MAURICE)

                16th:       Destination for landings changed to Andalsnes but troops to be transferred to destroyers

                                at Molde for onward transport (Operation SICKLE).

                17th        Sailed from Rosyth with HM Cruisers GALATEA, CARLISLE and CURACOA screened by

                HM Destroyers ACHERON and ARROW as escort for troopship ORION during passage to

                Molde after delays in embarkation of AA guns and the later need to revise stowage arrangements

                and distribution of troops. For details see NAVAL OPERATIONS OF THE CAMPAIGN IN

                NORWAY, April to June 1940 (HMSO).)

                18th        Transferred troops at Molde with HMS CURACOA.

                (Note: HMS GALATEA and HMS CARLISLE landed troops at Andalsnes.

                20th        Arrived at Rosyth with HMS GALATEA without incident.

                21st         Embarked RAF personnel and AA guns for passage to establish airfield at Lesjaskog.

                22nd       Landed passengers and equipment at Andalsnes.

30th        Deployed at Andalsnes with HM Cruisers SHEFFIELD, GALATEA and SOUTHAMPTON,

                for evacuation of troops. For details of the disastrous operations off Norway see above reference,


                CARRIER GLORIOUS by J Winton and NARVIK by D MacIntyre.)



                7th          Transferred to Nore Command and took passage to Harwich to assist in support of military


                11th        Escorted two Dutch mercantiles carrying gold bullion to Southend from Ijmuiden, Holland.

                24th        Sailed from Portsmouth with HMS GALATEA to carry out bombardment of shore batteries

                                near Calais. Operation cancelled as ship could not arrive before nightfall.

                25th        At Sheerness

                26th        Carried out bombardment with HMS GALATEA, HM Destroyers GRAFTON, GREYHOUND,


                Under air attacks during which HMS WESSEX was sunk.

                27th        Returned to Sheerness.


June                        Deployed in support of the evacuation of allied personnel from France (Operation AERIAL)

                17th        Arrived at Le Verdon at mouth of Gironde estuary to take charge of evacuation.

                18th        At Le Verdon for meetings between British Ambassador and First Sea Lord regarding

                                future policy for dealing with French naval forces.

                19th        Embarked officials from British Embassy.

                20th        Embarked President of Poland with his diplomatic staff and took passage to Plymouth

                                on relief as SNO Le Verdon by HMS GALATEA.

                21st         Landed 221 passengers at Plymouth.

                27th        At Portsmouth and nominated for transfer to Mediterranean.

                28th        Embarked Admiral James Somerville, Flag Officer Force H designate and sailed for Gibraltar.

                30th        Flag transferred to HM Battlecruiser HOOD on arrival at Gibraltar.

                                Began service as part of Force H based at Gibraltar.


                2nd         Sailed from Gibraltar with HMS HOOD, HM Battleships VALIANT and RESOLUTION,

                HM Aircraft Carrier ARK ROYAL, HM Cruiser ENTERPRISE, HM Destroyers ACTIVE,


                VORTIGERN and WRESTLER.

                3rd          Deployed off Oran for operation aimed at denying use by Germany of French warships.

                (Operation CATAPULT).

                After failure of negotiations with French Admiral Gensoul took part in bombardment of

                warships in French naval base at Mers-el-Kebir with heavy loss of French lives.

                For details see RELUCTANT ENEMIES by W Tute.

                8th          Deployed with HMS HOOD, HMS VALIANT, HMS RESOLUTION, HM Cruisers DELHI,


                ESCORT, DOUGLAS, ACTIVE, VELOX, VORTIGERN and WRESTLER to provide cover

                for HMS ARK ROYAL during planned air attacks on Cagliari (Operation MA5).

                (Note: The air attacks were intended to prevent assistance being given to ships of the

                Mediterranean Fleet engaged in an action of Calabria with Italian warships.)

                10th        Operation abandoned after air attacks.

                11th        Returned to Gibraltar with same ships.

                22nd       Deployed with Force H to provide cover for HMS ARK ROYAL during planned air

                                attacks on Bordeaux.

                25th        Returned to Gibraltar whilst on passage when operation cancelled because of weather conditions

                                in Bay of Biscay.

                31st         Deployed with HMS VALIANT, HMS RESOLUTION, and screened by HM Destroyers

                ESCAPADE and VELOX as Group 2 to cover Malta aircraft delivery from HM Aircraft

                Carrier ARGUS (Operation HURRY).

                (Note: This was coincident with Operation CRUSH – Air attacks on Cagliari from HMS

                ARK ROYAL which was being covered by other ships of Force H)



                2nd         Detached after successful launch of aircraft and carried out unsuccessful search for French

                mercantile GOUVERNEUR-GENERAL DE GUEYDON which was believed to be taking

                French minister Edouard Daladier from Algiers to Marseilles. Rejoined ships of Force H.

                4th          On return to Gibraltar from HURRY relieved in Force H by HM Cruiser SHEFFIELD.

                7th          Passage in Atlantic to Chatham for refit and routine docking.

                12th        Under refit by HM Dockyard, Chatham


September             At Chatham



                9th          Carried out post refit trials and took passage to rejoin 2nd Cruiser Squadron at Scapa Flow.

                Involved in collision with mercantile and sustained structural damage.

                (Note: Source are at variance about place of repair. One records at Chatham and another

                in Newcastle.

                31st         Taken in hand for repair at Newcastle. To be confirmed.

                (Note: One source records ship opened fire with AA guns whilst in dry dock at Chatham

                during an air raid and that as a result ship was deployed in Thames near Tower

                Bridge to supplement shore AA defences. To be confirmed.)



                23rd        Carried out post repair trials off Tyne and resumed operational service in Squadron for

                                interception patrols in NW Approaches.


December              London AA deployment to be confirmed.

                8th          Deployed to provide cover for minelay in Northern Barrage by HM Auxiliary Minelayers

                MENESTHEUS and AGAMEMNON (Operation SN10A)

                For details of all minelaying operations see Naval Staff History (Mining).


1 9 4 1



                3rd          Provided cover for minelay by HM Destroyers INTREPID and ICARUS off Egersund,

                Norway with HM Cruiser AURORA and Fleet destroyer screen (Operation DZ)

                Resumed patrol duties with Squadron on return to Scapa Flow.


February                Nominated for provision of cover for minelay in addition to patrol deployment.

                1st           Deployed to provide cover for planned minelay by HMS INTREPID off Fro Havet, Norway

                with HMS AURORA and Fleet destroyer screen (Operation EA)

                Operation cancelled during passage due to weather conditions and returned to Scapa Flow.

                17th        Provided cover for HM Auxiliary Minelayers AGAMEMNON, PORT QUEBEC and

                MENESTHEUS during Northern Barrage minelays (Operation SN7B and SN68A)

                Detached for convoy defence.

                20th        (Note: One source also records deployment as escort for military convoy on passage

                to Gibraltar. No record of escort for WS Series convoy confirms this but

                routine convoy OG53 sailed from Liverpool on 18th February and arrived

                at Gibraltar on 1st March)



                1st           At Gibraltar

                10th        Escorted ss STRATHMORE to Greenock.

                13th        Detached to join HM Battlecruiser RENOWN and HMS ARK ROYAL in search for

                German battlecruisers SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU sighted by HM Battleship

                MALAYA near Cape Verde Islands.

                Took passage to return to Scapa Flow when German ships returned to Brest.

                30th        Resumed patrol duties with Squadron at Scapa Flow.


April                       Deployed for interception patrol in Atlantic.


May                        Deployed for patrol in Faeroes-Iceland Gap.

                23rd        Joined HM Cruisers BIRMINGHAM and NEWCASTLE for interception of German

                                battleship BISMARCK known to be on passage to attack Atlantic convoys.

                24th        Remained off Iceland to intercept BISMARCK if her return passage was made northward.



                3rd          Returned to Scapa Flow from patrol.

                25th        Provided cover for HM Auxiliary Minelayers AGAMEMNON and MENESTHEUS

                                during Northern Barrage minelay (Operation SN70B).

                30th        At Scapa Flow

                                Nominated for support of Malta relief convoy (Operation SUBSTANCE)


July                         (Note: An RAF Air-Surface radar was installed. This had been modified for naval use

                and was designated Type 286M. It use was limited as the aerial could not rotate.

                For details of development and use of radar in the RN see RADAR AT SEA

                by D Howse.)

                12th        Deployed with HM Battleship NELSON, HM Cruisers MANCHESTER and HM Destroyers

                COSSACK, LIGHTNING, NESTOR (RAN) and SIKH for escort of Convoy WS9C and took

                passage from Scapa Flow to Londonderry.

                13th        Joined convoy during passage in NW Approaches. For details see MALTA CONVOYS

                by R Woodman, The Naval Staff History, ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY,


                THE MEDITERRANEAN by J Green and A Massignani and Naval Staff History for details.)

                17th        Detached from WS9C with HMS COSSACK and HMS SIKH as escort for troopship

                LEINSTER into Gibraltar.

                (Note: LEINSTER was to embark troops for passage to Malta. See below)

                22nd       Deployed with HM Cruisers EDINBURGH, MANCHESTER and MANXMAN, HM

                Destroyers COSSACK, MAORI, NESTOR (RAN), FEARLESS, FOXHOUND,

                FIREDRAKE, ENCOUNTER, ERIDGE and FARNDALE for escort of convoy through

                Sicilian Narrows into Malta as Force X. Cover was provided for passage in western

                Mediterranean by ships of Force H based at Gibraltar

                23rd        Under air attacks with Force X and mercantiles.

                (Note: HMS MANCHESTER and HMS FEARLESS were hit by torpedoes.

                HMS FEARLESS had to be sunk by HMS FORESTER but the cruiser had to

                return to Gibraltar escorted by HMS AVONVALE.

                HMS HERMIONE from Force H replaced HMS MANCHESTER in Force X)

                24th        Under attack by Italian torpedo craft west of Pantalleria during which mercantile SYDNEY

                STAR was torpedoed and troops transferred to HMAS NESTOR.

                (Note: SYDNEY STAR was later able to renew passage and despite air attacks arrived

                in Malta. See references.)

                Detached with HMS EDINBURGH and HMS MANXMAN to land stores in Malta and

                rejoined Force X to transit Sicilian Narrows overnight.

                25th        Met Force H ships off Bone and took passage to Gibraltar.

                28th        Retained at Gibraltar for planned operation and joined Force H (Operation STYLE)

                30th        Sailed from Gibraltar with HMS HERMIONE and HMS MANXMAN escorted by HMS

                SIKH and LIGHTNING taking personnel previously embarked in ss LEINSTER

                to Malta.

                (Note: LEINSTER had run aground on leaving Gibraltar to join Convoy GM1.)



                1st           Cover for passage to Sicilian Narrows provided by ships of Force H.

                2nd         Italian submarine TEMBIEN was sunk off Tunis during transit,

                (Note: This submarine had been charging batteries on surface and rammed.)

                Sailed from Malta with same ships after passengers and stores landed.

                3rd          Rejoined Group II of Force H and took return passage with them to Gibraltar.

                (Note: HM Destroyer FARNDALE joined off Malta for return passage but later withdrew.

                Group II also included HMS NELSON, HMS MANXMAN, HM Destroyers


                7th          Passage to UK from Gibraltar.

                Nominated for refit in Tyne commercial shipyard

                24th        Taken in hand for refit.


September             Under refit

to October             Radar Type 272 to provide warning of surface craft and land was fitted.

                                Fire-control Radar Type 284 was fitted for main armament. See above reference.



                1st           On completion of post refit trials resumed Home Fleet duties at Scapa Flow.

                                Deployed for interception patrol.


December              Nominated for support of planned landing in Lofoten Islands by Commando units (Operation


                                Took part in preparatory exercises for ANKLET.

                24th        Sailed from Scapa Flow with HM Destroyers ASHANTI, BEDOUIN, ESKIMO, SOMALI,

                WHEATLAND, LAMERTON, Polish destroyers ORP KUJAWIAK and KRAKOWIAK

                HM Corvettes ACANTHUS and EGLANTINE, HM Fleet Minesweepers HARRIER,

                HALCYON, SPEEDWELL and SCOTT, HM Landing Ships (Infantry) PRINSES

                CHARLOTTE and PRINCE ALBERT to carry out landing on Lofotens.

                (Note: HMS SCOTT was deployed as a Navigational Ship and HM Submarine SEALION

                had been stationed in landing area as a Marker.)

                26th        Carried out search of Vestfjord during which two Norwegian trawlers were captured and

                the German auxiliary warship GEIER (V5904) was boarded by a party from HMS ASHANTI.

                Although damaged tow of this vessel was attempted but later abandoned when air attacks began.

                (Note: The primary objective of ANKLET was to obtain information about the ENIGMA

                coding machine. One was taken from GEIER with the associated wheels and

                documentation was taken from GEIER for delivery to Bletchley Park.

                For details see ENIGMA by H Sebag-Montefiore)

                27th        Operation abandoned because of lack of air cover. at Kirkfjord, Lofotens.

                                Sustained slight damage from near miss during air attacks

                28th        Passage to Scapa Flow with same ships.


1 9 4 2


January                  Nominated for refit and took passage to Sheerness.

                                Taken in hand for refit by HM Dockyard, Chatham.


February                Under refit

to March                (Note: Type 281 radar for warning of aircraft was fitted and close range AA armament improved.)


April                       Nominated for service in Mediterranean with 15th Cruiser Squadron based at Alexandria.

                Carried out post refit trials before taking passage to Scapa Flow for work-up with

                ships of Home Fleet.

                25th        Commenced work-up


May                        On completion took passage to Alexandria via Cape of Good Hope and Red Sea.



                9th          Arrived at Alexandria and joined EURYALUS, DIDO and HERMIONE in 15th

                                Cruiser Squadron.

                13th        Sailed from Alexandria with H M Cruisers ARETHUSA, BIRMINGHAM, CLEOPATRA,

                DIDO, EURYALUS, HERMIONE and NEWCASTLE screened by HM Destroyers HASTY,


                NORMAN, PAKENHAM, PALADIN, SIKH and ZULU to provide escort for Malta

                Convoy MW11 during passage in eastern Mediterranean (Operation VIGOROUS).

                (Note: This operation was co-incident with a similar relief convoy from Gibraltar which came

                under air, submarine and surface warship attacks although two mercantiles arrived in

                Malta (Operation HARPOON)

                HM Battleship CENTURION, disarmed before outbreak of WW2 was also deployed

                with MW11 and disguised to resemble a KGV Class battleship.

                Twelve other destroyers were also deployed as Close escorts for MW11 for period,

                prior to arrival of Mediterranean Fleet units.)

                For details see THE BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by D Macintyre


                WAR by C Blair and the Naval Staff History.)

                14th        Joined MW11 with Fleet units. Under heavy and sustained air attacks.

                Submarine attack by U77 driven off by HMS PAKENHAM.

                Convoy under threat of attack by Italian fleet units.

                15th        Convoy ordered by CinC ashore in Alexandria to reverse course.

                Under night attack by German E-Boats during which HMS HASTY was torpedoed and had

                to be sunk by HMS HOTSPUR. HMS NEWCASTLE was also hit by a torpedo and withdrawn

                from escort to return to Alexandria.

                Air attacks resumed after daylight but convoy ordered to resume westward passage although

                later rescinded..

                During the air attacks sustained damage but remained with escort.

                (Note: HMS BIRMINGHAM and HMS CENTURION were also damaged.

                HMS AIREDALE and HMS NESTOR had to be sunk.

                Owing to the heavy expenditure of AA ammunition by escorts which would have left

                insufficient stocks to ensure safe passage to Malta the operation was abandoned.

                16th        Returned to Alexandria with Fleet units.


July                         On completion of repair resumed service with Squadron.

                20th        Carried out bombardment at Mersa Matru with HM Cruiser DIDO


August                  Nominated for escort of diversion convoy in eastern Mediterranean (Operation MG3).

                (Note: This was to attract enemy attention in the eastern Mediterranean during passage of a Malta

                relief convoy from Gibraltar (Operation PEDESTAL)

                10th        Sailed with HM Cruiser DIDO screened by HM Destroyers JERVIS, KELVIN, PAKENHAM,


                HYACINTH and HM Auxiliary Escort ANTWERP as escort for MW12 of three mercantiles during

                cruise in eastern Mediterranean

                11th        HM Cruisers CLEOPATRA and DIDO screened by HM Destroyers JAVELIN SIKH and ZULU

                joined convoy with one mercantile from Haifa

                Detached with HMS EURYALUS, HMS JAVELIN, HMS KELVIN, HMS SIKH and HMS ZULU

                to carry out bombardment of Rhodes.

                12th        Rejoined convoy MW12 for return passage

                13th        Arrived at Alexandria with escort.


September             Deployed with Squadron in eastern Mediterranean

to October             (During this period Fleet operations were limited by lack of resources.)


November              Nominated for escort of Malta relief convoy MW13 (Operation STONEAGE).

                16th        Joined convoy with HM Destroyers JAVELIN, JERVIS, KELVIN, NUBIAN, PAKENHAM, PALADIN

                                and PETARD as escort after it left Port Said.

                17th        Relieved as escort by HM Destroyers ALDENHAM, BEAUFORT, BELVOIR, CROOME, 

                DULVERTON, EXMOOR, HURSLEY, HURWORTH, TETCOTT and Greek destroyer PINDOS.

                Returned to Alexandria with original screen.

                18th        Rejoined MW13 with HM Cruisers CLEOPATRA, DIDO and ORION and same destroyers.

                After unsuccessful air attacks came under further by torpedo carrying aircraft at dusk.

                Hit on port side abreast B turret and took on heavy list to Port.

                Extensive fires in forward structure due to oil fuel together with flooding. 156 killed and 42 injured

                Ship disabled.

                (Note: Hole in structure was later found to be 53 ft long and 35 feet deep.

                19th        Fires under control and took passage under own power using emergency steering, escorted by HMS

                PETARD, HMS JERVIS and HMS JAVELIN.

                Taken in tow by PETARD when damaged section bucking. Other destroyers detached to return to  


                20th        Tow by HMS PETARD stern first in continuation.

                21st         Arrived at Alexandria and assisted to tugs to prevent further damage by use of main engines.


December              Under temporary repair at Alexandria to allow ocean passage.


1 9 4 3


January                  Under temporary repair

                                Permanent repair arranged in US Navy Dockyard at Charlestown



                7th          Sailed from Alexandria for passage to USA via Red Sea


March                    Passage in Indian Ocean after call at Durban

                4th          At Cape Town

                                Resumed passage in Atlantic Ocean

                30th        Arrived at Charlestown, South Carolina after call in Bermuda.


April                       Taken in hand for repair and refit

to November         (Note: Work included preparation for installation of Radar equipment to be fitted in

                UK before resuming operational service. AA armament for defence against close

                range attacks was also improved.



                3rd          On completion of post refit harbour and sea trials took passage to US Navy Yard at Norfolk, Va.


1 9 4 4


January                  Passage from Norfolk to Chatham with call at Bermuda.


February                Taken in hand for completion of refit work and installation not possible in USA.

                (Note: Fit of fire control Radar for AA armament and Barrage control of AA mountings

                was completed.)


March                    Under refit by HM Dockyard Chatham.


April                       Post refit harbour trials.

                6th          Carried out post refit sea trials in Nore area.

                                Nominated for support of planned allied landings in Normandy (Operation NEPTUNE).

                22nd       Joined 1st Cruiser Squadron, Home Fleet at Scapa Flow

                30th        Deployed for training in preparation for support bombardment during landings


May                        Allocated for duty in Bombarding Force D for support of landings on SWORD Beach in

                Eastern Task Force area. Fire Plan targets included shore batteries at Sallenelles.

                For details of naval activities prior to and during landings see LANDINGS IN NORMANDY

                June 1944 (HMSO) and OPERATION NEPTUNE by K Edwards.

                24th        Joined Force D in Clyde.

                26th        Carried out bombardment exercises in NW Approaches with HM Battleship WARSPITE and

                                ships of Bombardment Forces D, E and K.


June                        Returned to Clyde on completion of exercises.

                3rd          Sailed from Clyde for passage to Portsmouth with HM Battleships WARSPITE and RAMILLIES,

                HM Cruisers MAURITIUS DANAE, FROBISHER and Polish cruiser ORP DRAGON as Convoy S6

                escorted by HM Destroyers SAUMAREZ and SWIFT, Norwegian destroyers SVENNER and STORD,

                HM Frigates ROWLEY and HOLMES.

                4th          Arrived in Solent,

                                Operation postponed 24 hours.

                5th          HM Monitor ROBERTS joined Force D.

                                Sailed for SWORD beach head.

                6th          Carried out bombardment of SWORD Beach with HMS WARSPITE, HMS RAMILLIES, HMS

                FROBISHER, ORP DRAGON screened by HM Destroyers SAVAGE and UNDINE.

                Took part in brief engagement with German destroyers from Le Havre which retired.

                Remained off beach head with Eastern Task Force for gunfire support apart from periods for


                14th        At Portsmouth for special duty.

                16th        Embarked HM King George VI and Chiefs of the Defence Staff for visit to beach heads.

                Sailed from Portsmouth escorted by HM Destroyers SCOURGE and UNDINE.

                Returned to Portsmouth and visitors disembarked.

                24th        Under air attack in Seine Bay and sustained slight damage from near-miss.

                25th        Damaged by magnetic mine dropped by aircraft and sustained internal damage when it exploded 

                                in wake.

                30th        Under temporary repair by HM Dockyard Portsmouth


July                         Under repair


August                  Passage to Greenock for refit and completion of repair in commercial shipyard.

                4th          Taken in hand for refit


September             Under refit

to December          Nominated for service in 15th Cruiser Squadron, Mediterranean Fleet on completion.


1 9 4 5


January                  Carried out post refit trials

                                On completion took passage to Gibraltar.


February                Passage to Malta

                13th        Deployed at Piraeus for support of military operations


March                    Squadron duties in Mediterranean in continuation.

to April                  (Note: Support was provided by RN warships during re-occupation of islands in Aegean

                                and Adriatic as well as for military operations in Italy and France.)


May                        Deployed for support of British troops in Trieste and for Fleet training exercises

to August              with ships working-up for operational service in Pacific.

                                In addition for interception patrol to prevent illegal immigration into Palestine.


P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS ARETHUSA was deployed as Guardship at Trieste in September 1945 and on relief by HM Cruiser LIVERPOOL, she returned top Chatham in October that year to reduce to Reserve status. After Paying-off and de-storing she was initially laid-up at Sheerness before being transferred to Falmouth. Placed on the Disposal List in January 1948 the ship was offered to Norway but no sale was arranged and she remained at Falmouth until selected for use during Ship Target Trials in August. On completion the ship was sold to BISCO for demolition during 1950 and towed to Newport, Glamorgan for breaking-up by J Cashmore. She arrived at the Breaker’s yard on 9th September 1950 after 15 years service in peace and war.







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 010B





HN 011





HN 012





ON 014/1





ON 017/1





ON 017A/





ON 018/1





HN 017





ON 023/1





HN 023B





OG 053





HG 055





MW 011





MW 013








(Note on Convoys)



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