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SERVICE HISTORIES of ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS in WORLD WAR 2

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

HMS BELLONA  -  Bellona/improved Dido-class AA Cruiser including Convoy Escort Movements

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

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

Improved DIDO-Class cruiser ordered on 4th September 1939 from Fairfield, Glasgow under an Emergency War Program and laid down on 30th November that year. Launched on 29th September 1942 she was as the 14th RN warship to carry the name, first used for the Prize BELLONE taken in 1747. Prior to WW2 it had been used for a 1909 cruiser built in 1921, but a trawler carrying this name was hired in November 1939 for minesweeping duties .This trawler was renamed HMS EGERIA in 1940 so the name could be again used for a major warship. Her main armament comprised only four twin 5.25 inch mountings (see General Information). Build was completed on 29th October 1943 after delays due to completion of electrical wiring. HM Cruiser BELLONA was adopted before commissioning by the civil community of the Kingdom of Fife, Scotland, following a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in March 1942.

 

B a t t l e†† H o n o u r s

 

TRINIDAD 1797 - COPENHAGEN 1801 - BASQUE ROADS 1809 - JUTLAND† 1916 - NORMANDY 1944 - BISCAY† 1944 - NORWAY 1944-45 - ARCTIC† 1944-45

 

H e r a l d i c†† D a t a

Badge:  On a Field Blue, a shield and trophy of classic weapons all Gold.

 

 

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 4 3

September†††††††††††† Contractor's trials.

††††††††††††††† 30th††††††† Commissioned for service in Home Fleet..

October

††††††††††††††† 29th††††††† Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials

November††††††††††††† Acceptance delayed by defects

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† On completion of trials and storing took passage to Scapa Flow to work-up with ships

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† of the Home Fleet

December††††††††††††† Work-up delayed due to further repair of defects and incomplete electrical wiring as

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† well as foul weather.)

1 9 4 4

January††††††††††††††††† On completion of work-up joined 10th Cruiser Squadron.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Transferred to English Channel for offensive patrols to intercept coastal shipping in Bay

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† of Biscay and English Channel.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Deployed as Senior Officer's ship in Force 26 comprising HM Destroyers TARTAR,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ASHANTI. HAIDA (RCN), IROQUOIS (RCN), HURON (RCN) and ATHABASKAN (RCN).

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (Note: TUNNEL Operations - See HOLD THE NARROW SEA by Peter C Smith).

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Had relieved HM Cruiser CHARYBDIS which had been sunk in October 1943 in

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† a most ill-fated TUNNEL operation.)

February††††††††††††††† Channel deployment in continuation.

March††††††††††††††††††† Channel deployment including convoy defence against German destroyer and E-Boat attacks.

††††††††††††††† 15th††††††† In action against E-Boats of 9th and 5th German Flotillas with HMS TARTAR and HMS

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ASHANTI during cover of passage of coastal convoy WP492 in SW Approaches.

April

††††††††††††††† 24th††††††† Routine docking at Plymouth after relief by HM Cruiser BLACK PRINCE in Force 26.

May††††††††††††††††††††††† Nominated for duty in support of Normandy landings (Operation NEPTUNE).

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (For details see OPERATION NEPTUNE by K Edwards and NORMANDY LANDINGS,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† June 1944 (HMSO).).

††††††††††††††† 16th††††††† During operation with HMS TARTAR, HMCS HAIDA and HMCS HURON opened fire

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† on HM Cruiser APOLLO covering minelay west of Ushant (Operation HOSTILE 32).

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (Note: One source says Force 26 ships were not aware of minelaying operation.)

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† The minelaying operation was then abandoned.

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

††††††††††††††† 26th††††††† Withdrawn from cover during planned minelay because of threat of submarine attack.

††††††††††††††† 30th††††††† Passage to Belfast to join Bombardment Force ships of Western Task Force.

June

††††††††††††††† 3rd††††††††† Passage to Solent with US battleships USS NEVADA, ARKANSAS and TEXAS.

††††††††††††††† 4th††††††††† Held in SW Approaches because of 24 hour postponement of landings.

††††††††††††††† 5th††††††††† Detached to Join US cruiser USS AUGUSTA at Plymouth and sailed to Solent for

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† passage to Western Task Force area.

††††††††††††††† 6th††††††††† Deployed off OMAHA beach head for gunfire support and AA Guardship duties.

††††††††††††††† 8th††††††††† Provided gunfire support to military operations in OMAHA area.

††††††††††††††† to††††††††††† Under night air attack and destroyed one aircraft by 20mm Oerlikon fire.

††††††††††††††† 15th

††††††††††††††† 16th††††††† Withdrawn from NEPTUNE and remained in Reserve at Plymouth.

July†††††††††††††††††††††††† Rejoined Han Fleet for operations off Norway.

††††††††††††††† 17th††††††† Joined screen for HM Battleship DUKE OF YORK with HM Cruisers Kent

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† DEVONSHIRE and JAMAICA to cover air attacks by HM Aircraft Carriers

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† FORMIDABLE. INDEFATIGABLE and FURIOUS on the German battleship

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† TIRPITZ in Kaafjord (Operation MASCOT)

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (Note: These attacks were unsuccessful. See CONVOY ! by Peter Kemp).

††††††††††††††† 19th††††††† Returned to Scapa Flow with Home Fleet ships.

††††††††††††††† 31st†††††††† Resumed Channel duties with ships of 10th Cruiser Squadron based at Plymouth.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Deployed with HM Cruiser DIADEM, HM Escort Carrier STRIKER, destroyers of

††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††† 10th Flotilla and Frigates of 11th Support Group as Force 26.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Carried out patrol between Brest and La Rochelle to intercept U-Boats being used

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† to evacuate Biscay ports (Operation KINETIC)

August

††††††††††††††† 5th††††††††† Deployed with HM Destroyers TARTAR, ASHANTI, HAIDA (RCN) and

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† IROQUOIS (RCN) as Force 26 for attacks on convoys between Belle Isle and

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† La Rochelle.

††††††††††††††† 6th††††††††† In action against two convoys off St. Nazaire, sinking minesweepers H263, MW6 and

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† patrol boat V414.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† One merchant ship set on fire and JUPITER disabled.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (Note: A Post War Assessment of this operation included an Aircraft Repair Ship

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† RICHTOFEN as being sunk.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† During this period ship also deployed to provide Air-Sea Rescue cover for

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Royal Flight between Gibraltar and UK.)

September†††††††††††† On release from Force 26 took passage to Clyde for refit.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Taken in hand for refit in Clyde commercial shipyard.

October

††††††††††††††† 20th††††††† On completion of post refit trials rejoined Squadron at Scapa Flow

  ††††††††††††† 23rd††††††† Escorted HM Aircraft Carrier IMPLACABLE with HM Destroyers VENUS, SCOURGE,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† SAVAGE, VERULAM, CAPRICE, ZAMBESI, CASSANDRA and CAMBRIAN for

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† air strikes on targets at Sorreisa and Bardufoss, Norway (Operation ATHLETIC).

November††††††††††††† Deployed at Scapa Flow.

††††††††††††††† 12th††††††† Carried out attack on German convoy KS357 off Listerfjord with HM Cruiser KENT,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† HM Destroyers MYNGS, VERULAM, ZAMBESI and ALGONQUIN (RCN) as Force 2.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (Operation COUNTERBLAST).

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Bombarded shore battery.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (Note: Post war assessment of losses included two mercantiles, CORNOSAILLES and

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† GRIEF, Minesweepers M416 and M427.)

December

††††††††††††††† 1st†††††††††† Escorted Russian Convoy JW62 with HM Escort Carriers CAMPANIA, NAIRANA

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† HM Cruiser BELLONA, HM Destroyers BEAGLE, BULLDOG, CAESAR, CAMBRIAN,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† CASSANDRA, CAPRICE, KEPPEL. OBEDIENT, OFFA, ONSLAUGHT, ORIBI,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ORWELL and WESTCOTT.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (Note: In addition frigates and sloops from Western Approaches were deployed for

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† anti-submarine defence.)

††††††††††††††† 7th††††††††† Detached from JW62 on arrival at Kola Inlet.

††††††††††††††† 10th††††††† Joined escort for returning Convoy RA62 with same ships.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (For details of all Russian Convoy operations see CONVOYS TO RUSSIA by RA Ruegg,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† CONVOY ! by P Kemp and RUSSIAN CONVOYS by B Schoefield).

††††††††††††††† 14th††††††† Detached from RA62 for shipping strike off Norway with Horne Fleet ships.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (Operation COUNTERBLAST).

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Passage to Rosyth for repair.

1 9 4 5

January††††††††††††††††† Rejoined Home Fleet on completion of repair.

††††††††††††††† 11th††††††† Joined Force 1 with HM Cruiser NORFOLK and Fleet destroyers to cover minelay off

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Utsira Island (Operation GRATIS) and shipping strike off Egersund (Operation

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† SPELLBINDER - For details see Naval Staff History (MINING).

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Strikes by HM Cruiser DIDO and aircraft from HM Escort Carriers TRUMPETER and

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† PREMIER were very successful with several ships and escorts sunk or damaged.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (Note: An attack by U427 was unsuccessful.)

February

††††††††††††††† 6th††††††††† Joined escort for Russian Convoy JW64 with HM Escort Carriers CAMPANIA and

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† NAIRANA screened by frigates and destroyer screen.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (Note: HM Destroyers ONSLAUGHT, OPPORTUNE, ORWELL, SERAPIS,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ZAMBESI, ZEST, ZEALOUS and SIOUX (RCN) were deployed as Fighting

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Destroyer Escort with Sloops and Frigates from Western Approaches also

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† providing additional ant-submarine defence.)

††††††††††††††† 15th††††††† Detached from JW64 on arrival at Kola Inlet.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (Note: During period at Kola Inlet a Diving Party detonated charges on the hulk of

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† HM Frigate DENBIGH CASTLE which had been beached after being badly

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† damaged by torpedo attack during defence of JW64 See above references.)

††††††††††††††† 17th††††††† Joined escort for returning Convoy RA64.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (Note: HM Sloop LARK and HM Corvette BLUEBELL were lost during defence of

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† RA64. This convoy encountered very severe weather conditions.)

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† See above references.)

††††††††††††††† 27th††††††† Detached and resumed Home Fleet duties at Scapa Flow.

March

††††††††††††††† 20th††††††† Joined 'Force 1' with HM Escort Carriers PREMIER, SEARCHER and QUEEN escorted

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† by HM Destroyers ONSLOW, ZEST, SERAPIS, HAIDA (RCN) and IROQUOIS (RCN)

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† for minelay off Askevold and shipping strike on shore targets (Operation CUPOLA).

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (See Naval Staff History (MINING) for details).

††††††††††††††† 22nd†††††† Covered air strikes on shipping off Norway by HM Escort Carriers NAIRANA,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† PUNCHER, QUEEN and SEARCHER with HM Cruiser DIDO and screen of six

††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††† Fleet destroyers.

April†††††††††††††††††††††† Deployed with Home Fleet during anti-shipping operations off Norway by aircraft

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† from escort carriers.

††††††††††††††† 18th††††††† Joined escort for Russian Convoy JU66 with HM Escort Carriers PREMIER. VINDEX,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† HM Cruiser DIADEM, HM Destroyers OFFA, ZEPHYR, ZEST, ZODIAC, HAIDA (RCN),

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† HURON (RCN), IROQUOIS (RCN) and Norwegian STORD.

††††††††††††††† 25th††††††† Detached on arrival at Kola Inlet.

††††††††††††††† 29th††††††† Joined escort for return Convoy RA66.

May

††††††††††††††† 4th††††††††† Detached from RA66 and took passage to Rosyth.

June††††††††††††††††††††††† Deployed with Home Fleet.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Visited Oslo to take part in Victory Parade.

July†††††††††††††††††††††††† Home Fleet duty with Squadron in continuation.

to

August.

 

P o s t†† W a r†† N o t e s.

 

HMS BELLONA remained in commission after 'VJ' Day and served with the Home Fleet. In 1948 she was lent to the Royal New Zealand Navy with which she remained until 1956. On return to UK †the ship Paid-off and reduced to Reserve Status. As part of the Defence Review in 1957 she was placed on the Disposal List and sold in 1959 to BISCO for demolition by T H Ward in 1959. She arrived in tow at the breakerís yard in Briton Ferry on 5th February 1959.

 

 


 

Addendum

 

CONVOY ESCORT MOVEMENTS of HMS BELLONA

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

 

 

 

 

 

29/11/44

01/12/44

JW 062

07/12/44

07/12/44

10/12/44

10/12/44

RA 062

18/12/44

19/12/44

03/02/45

06/02/45

JW 064

13/02/45

15/02/45

17/02/45

17/02/45

RA 064

27/02/45

28/02/45

16/04/45

18/04/45

JW 066

25/04/45

25/04/45

29/04/45

29/04/45

RA 066

06/05/45

08/05/45

 

 

 

 

 

(Note on Convoys)

 

 

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