CERES-Class cruiser ordered in June 1916 in an Emergency War Programme and built by HM Dockyard Pembroke and laid down in July of that year. The ship was laid down on 13th July 1916 and launched on 5th May 1917 as the fourth RN ship to carry this name, introduced in 1809. After completion on 18th February 1918 she served with the Grand Fleet. HMS CURACOA was selected for conversion to an Anti-Aircraft Cruiser in 1939 and gave distinguished service with the Home Fleet during the Norwegian campaign in 1940. After a WARSHIP WEEK in March 1942 she was adopted by the civil community of Wolverhampton. She was sunk on 2nd October 1942 under most tragic circumstances as recorded below.
1 9 4 0
January Commissioned for service and carried out post refit trials.
26th Conversion completed.
First production aircraft warning radar Type 279 fitted.
(For details of the development and use of radar in the RN see RADAR AT SEA by D Howse.)
30th Started work-up with ships of the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow.
February On completion of work-up joined Home Fleet.
March Deployed with Humber Force in 1st AA Squadron for convoy defence in North Sea and NW
8th After German invasion of Norway nominated for landing on troops.
17th Embarked troops of 148th Infantry Brigade with HM Cruisers GALATEA, ARETHUSA and
CARLISLE and sailed from Rosyth for Molde. (Operation SICKLE)
22nd Deployed at Andalsnes for AA Guardship duties.
24th After repelling heavy and sustained air attacks on the area since arrival, hit by bomb below
Bridge structure and sustained major damage.
Withdrawn from Guardship duty and took passage to UK for repair under own steam, escorted by
HM Sloop FLAMINGO.
30 of ship’s company were killed and another 30 wounded
(For details see Naval Staff History (HMSO, 2001) )
2nd Arrived at HM Dockyard, Chatham.
June Repair delayed by accumulation of higher priority work..
July Under repair and refit.
August Post refit trials.
September Deployed in Nore Command for convoy defence and AA Guardship duties.
4th Transferred to Rosyth for convoy escort duty in North Sea and NW Approaches to supplement
AA defences against Focke-Wolfe KONDOR aircraft.
December Convoy defence duties in continuation
1 9 4 1
January Convoy defence duties in continuation
April Under repair in m Dockyard Rosyth.
July Resumed AA defence duty for convoys in NW Approaches and North Sea
August Joined HM Destroyers LIVELY and LIGHTNING to assist return of French submarine RUBIS
from Norway after being damaged during patrol. Escorted RUBIS to Dundee.
September Deployed with Rosyth AA Defence Force in continuation of convoys defence.
1 9 4 2
January Convoy defence in continuation in North Sea and NW Approaches.
May Under refit at Rosyth.
Surface warning radar Type 271 and fire control radar Type 282 installed for close range AA
June On completion resumed AA defence duties in Rosyth Defence Force.
20th Detached for duty with Home Fleet in diversion operation.
Deployed with HM Cruiser SIRIUS, HM Destroyers CASTLETON and ST MARYS for
escort of 'dummy' convoy including HM Auxiliary Minelayers
MENESTHEUS and SOUTHERN PRINCE during passage of Russian Convoy PQ17.
(Note: This was not successful as convoy was never sighted by enemy aircraft
July Home Fleet for AA defence in continuation..
September Transferred to Western Approaches Command and joined Irish Sea Escort Force for convoy
defence in Irish Sea and NW Approaches based at Belfast.
1st Deployed with HM Destroyers BULLDOG to join HM Destroyers BRAMHAM, COWDRAY
SKATE and Polish destroyer BLYSKAWICA as escort for rms QUEEN MARY during final
stage of passage with troops to Clyde NW Approaches.
2nd Rammed and sunk by rms QUEEN MARY in North Channel during passage to UK with
Only 101 of her complement of 439 survived this disaster caused largely by lack of judgement
of course changes by the liner to avoid submarine attack. (Casualty List -
note on casualties)
(Note: HITLER’S U-BOAT WAR by C Blair records that the liner was under threat of attack
by U407 but was sighted visually. This account suggests that in an attempt to prevent
approach by U407, HMS CURACOA crossed the zig-zag path of QUEEN MARY.
THE QUEEN MARY AND THE CRUISER by D Thomas and P Holmes gives a more
comprehensive account of the disaster and provides details of the subsequent Boards of