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

HMS DIDO   -  Dido-class AA Cruiser  
including Convoy Escort Movements

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Dido (Photo Ships, click to enlarge)

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DIDO Class cruiser ordered under the 1936 Build Programme from Cammell Laird at Birkenhead on 21at March 1937. The ship was laid down on 20th October 1937 and launched on 18th July 1939 as the 6th RN warship to carry this name introduced in 1784. On completion in September 1940 this light cruiser was the first to be fitted with the new design Air Warning Radar Type 281 in place of a pre-war designed equipment fitted in a few major warships between 1939 and early 1940. After a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign she was adopted by the civil community of Bolton, then in the County of Lancashire.


B a t t 1 e   H o n o u r s 

TOULON 1793 - EGYPT 1801 - SYRIA 1810 - CHINA 1942 - ZULU WAR 1881 - CHINA 1900 - CRETE 1941- SIRTE 1942 - MEDITERRANEAN 1942-44  - MALTA CONVOYS 1942 - SICILY 1943 - SALERNO 1943 - AEGEAN 1943 - ANZIO 1944 - SOUTH FRANCE 1944 - ARCTIC 1944

H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge:  On a Field Blue Issuant from the base flames Proper..


M o t t o





D e t a i 1 s   of   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 0


September             Contractors trials

                                Commissioned for service.

                30th        Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials


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

                                of Home Fleet.


November              Deployed with HM Battlecruiser HOOD, HM Battleship REPULSE, HM Cruisers NAIAD

                                and PHOEBE in search for German battleship SHEER in SW Approaches.

                                Escorted military convoy during passage to Gibraltar and HM Aircraft Carrier FURIOUS

                                taking aircraft to Freetown.

                                (See ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by Corelli Barnett.).

                                Carried out sea trials on newly developed air warning radar Type 281



                3rd          Passage to UK from Freetown.

                10th        Under repair in Tyne shipyard.

                17th        Rejoined Home Fleet for convoy defence and patrol in NW Approaches to intercept blockade

                                runners and commerce raiders.


1 9 4 1


January                  Home Fleet deployment in continuation.




March                    Joined HM Battleships KING GEORGE V and NELSON, with HM Cruiser NIGERIA to cover

                                first major Commando raid on enemy held territory during WW2

.                               (Operation CLAYMORE - For details see COMBINED OPERATIONS (HMSO), ENGAGE

                                THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY and THE WATERY MAZE by B Fergusson.)


April.                      Transferred to Mediterranean Fleet.

                1st           Passage to Gibraltar to join 15th Cruiser Squadron at Alexandria.

                                Escorted HMS ARK ROYAL from UK for Malta aircraft delivery. (Operation DUNLOP)

                24th        Joined Force S with HM Cruiser ABDIEL, HM Destroyers KELLY, KIPLING, KASHMIR

                                JERSEY and JACKAL to Join Mediterranean fleet, covered by H.

                                (Operation SALIENT - For details see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY and Naval

                                Staff History (HMSO- 2001.)

                28th        Escorted HM Supply. Ship BRECONSHIRE from Malta to Alexandria with HM

                                Destroyers JANUS, JERVIS and NUBIAN.



                6th          Joined escort for Malta convoys from Alexandria with HM Cruisers PHOEBE,

                                CALCUTTA and COVENTRY.

                8th          Transferred to escort convoy from central Mediterranean taking tanks for Middle East to


                                Covered by Mediterranean Fleet including the newly joined battleship HMS QUEEN

                                ELIZABETH, HM Cruisers NAIAD, FIJI and GLOUCESTER.

                                (Operation TIGER - For details see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY).

                14th        Joined Force C for support of defence of Crete.

                                Embarked Greek gold bullion for passage and escorted Convoy AS1 with HM Australian

                                Destroyers STUART (RAN) and VENDETTA evacuating non-combatant troops from Crete

                                to Alexandria covered by HM Battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH and BARHAM (Force A).

                                (For details of naval operations during defence and evacuation of Crete see THE BATTLE FOR

                                THE MEDITERRANEAN by D MacIntyre, ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY and

                                The Naval Staff History.).

                16th        Returned to intercept of invasion convoys off Crete with HMS COVENTRY.

                18th        Assisted defence of Hospital Ship ABBA against air attacks with HMS COVENTRY.

                19th        Sailed from Alexandria with HM Cruiser ORION, HM Destroyers HASTY and GREYHOUND

                                to join HM Cruiser AJAX and Fleet destroyers in Kithera Channel (as Force D) to intercept

                                German invasion craft.

                21st         Withdrew to SW of Crete after patrol to join HM Battleship WARSPITE and VALIANT

                                deployed as Force A.

                                Under sustained air attack.

                                Returned north of island with Force D after nightfall.

                22nd       In night action with HM Cruisers ORION and AJAX screened by four Fleet destroyers against

                                invasion craft off Canae.

                                Many caiques were sunk as well as some larger ships and an Italian escort (LUPO).

                24th        Returned to patrol north of Crete with HMS AJAX, HM Destroyers KIMBERLEY after


                25th        Withdrew at daybreak and met HM Battleships HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH and BAHRAM, HM

                                Aircraft Carrier FORMIDABLE and destroyer screen.

                27th        Remained with Force A during air attack on Scarpanto by HMS FORMIDABLE.

                28th        Deployed with HM Cruisers ORION, AJAX (Force B) for the evacuate troops from Heraklion.

                29th        Embarked troops from destroyers.

                                .Sustained direct hit on B-turret during passage of Kaso Strait.

                                Many casualties including soldiers of The Black Watch.

                                Extensive structural damage made forward armament unusable.




left - 40mm casings on deck, and right - 5.25in casings in a barge,
some of the shell expenditure during the Battle for Crete. Courtesy
Paul Simpson whose grandfather Harry Edward Simpson was killed

at the time



 June                       Under emergency repair at Alexandria for passage to Durban.

                10th        Deployed as escorted for ships taking allied troops for landing at Assab, Eritrea.

                                On release took passage to Indian Ocean.


July                         Permanent repair arranged in USA.

                                Passage to Durban

                2nd         Under temporary repair at Durban

                                On completion took passage to New York via Cape of Good Hope.


August                  Taken in hand for repair in Brooklyn Navy Yard.


September             Under repair and refit. Post refit trials.

to                            On completion of dockyard work carried out harbour and sea trials.

October                  Prepared for passage to UK.



                1st           Took passage to UK for completion of alterations not possible in USA.

                                (Note: British Radar and armament equipment installation to be installed.).


December              On arrival taken in hand for completion of installation.

                                Completion of installation and trials.

                18th        Passage to Gibraltar to rejoin 15th Cruiser Squadron in Mediterranean Fleet.

                22nd       Passage to Malta with HM Destroyers GURKHA and NESTOR.

                24th        Arrived in Malta.

                25th        Deployed with escorted for Convoy ME8 consisting of empty mercantiles returning

                                to Alexandria.

                28th        Rejoined Squadron.


1 9 4 2



                4th          Deployed with Squadron to escort HM Supply Ship GLENGYLE taking oil supplies to Malta.

                                Returned with HM Supply Ship BRECONSHIRE and had air cover which provided defence

                                against air attacks during passage to Alexandria.

                16th        Covered passage of four supply ships to Malta with Squadron.

                                Under heavy air attack before air cover was available.

                20th        Air cover by 201 Naval Co-operation Unit provided efficient protection for rest of passage.

                                (See BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN).



                12th        Covered MW9A/B Malta convoys with HM Cruisers NAIAD and EURYALUS and the return

                                passage of HMS BRECONSHIRE.

                                Due to Heavy air attacks no ships arrived in Malta. See above references..



                10th        Deployed with HM Cruisers NAIAD and CLEOPATRA (Force B) to intercept convoy off


                11th        During search for an Italian cruiser reported damaged HMS NAIAD was torpedoed and sunk

                                off Sollum by U565.

                15th        Carried out bombardment of Rhodes.

                20th        Deployed with HM Cruiser EURYALUS to cover Malta convoy MW10 (Operation MG1)

                22nd       After air attacks convoy approached by Italian battle ship LITTORIO and three cruisers

                                Took part in surface gun action during which enemy withdrew.

                                (2nd Battle of Sirte - See above references and The Naval Staff History).

                                Some ships in convoy ships eventually reached Malta although HMS BRECONSHIRE was

                                damaged and later lost after being beached at Marsaxloxx (See above references).


April                       Deployed in Eastern Mediterranean with Squadron





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

                                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

                                ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by C Barnett, HITLER'S U-BOAT

                                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.

                                (Note: 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..

                                HMS BIRMINGHAM and HMS CENTURION were also damage

                                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                         Deployed with HMS EURYALUS for bombardment of enemy positions at Mersa Matruh.


August                  Docked at Massawa for investigation into propeller defect causing vibration.

                                (Note: HMS DIDO was first ship of Class to be inspected and the others of the Class were

                                similarly checked when operational requirements allowed).


September             Rejoined Squadron at Alexandria.

                13th        Bombarded El Daba area by night as diversion for the assault landings at Tobruk

                                (Operation AGREEMENT - For details see MASSACRE AT TOBRUK by P Smith).


October                  Deployed in eastern Mediterranean on patrol and cover of interceptions of enemy convoys to

                                North Africa.


November              Deployed in support of Malta relief convoys now able to transit with air cover because of

                                advances made by Eighth Army along coast..

                                (Operation QUADRANGLE)

                17th        Escorted first convoy with HMS EURYALUS and HMS ARETHUSA

                                (Operation STONEAGE).

                18th        Under air attacks during which HMS ARETHUSA was badly damaged.


December              Detached for duty with Force K in Malta for attacks on enemy convoys.

                12th        Joined Force K in Malta

                13th        Sank three supply ships in attack on convoy off North African coast..

                16th        Deployed briefly with HM Cruiser SIRIUS in Force Q based at Bone.

                26th        Transferred to Force H at Gibraltar

                28th        Escorted convoy to Benghazi with HM Destroyers JAVELIN and BEAUFORT.


1 9 4 3


January                  Resumed duty with Force Q at Bone.

                6th          Detached to escort HM Minelaying Cruiser ABDIEL with HMS SIRIUS from Gibraltar to Bone

                                for minelaying operation on Skerki Bank. (For details see Naval Staff History (MINING).

                10th        Deployed with Force Q.

                17th        Attacked convoy off Lampedusa with HM Cruiser EURYALUS screened by HM Destroyers

                                JAVELIN, KELVIN and NUBIAN.

                                One ship, D'ANNUNZIO, sunk by destroyers.

                                (For details of Force Q operations see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY).


February                Deployed with Force Q for interception duty and cover of convoys in western Mediterranean.


March                    Withdrawn from Force Q for refit in UK.


April                       Passage to Liverpool for refit.


May                        Under refit.

                                (Note: New design centimetric warning and fire-control radars fitted.

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


June                        Nominated for service in 12th Cruiser Squadron in Mediterranean).

                18th        Joined Home Fleet at Scapa for exercises before joining Squadron at Algiers.


July                         Nominated for support of allied landings in Sicily (Operation HUSKY).

                                (For details see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY and Naval Staff History).

                9th          Deployed with HM Battleships KING GEORGE V and HOWE with HM Cruiser SIRIUS in

                                Reserve Group to counter enemy surface interference during assault landings.

                10th        Stationed south of Sardinia with Group screened by HM Destroyers JERVIS, PENN,

                                PATHFINDER, PANTHER, PALADIN and PETARD.

                11th        Provided naval gunfire support with HM$ KING GEORGE V, HMS HOWE and HMS SIRIUS

                                at Marsala.

                26th        Deployed with HMS KING GEORGE V, HMS HOWE, HM Aircraft Carrier INDOMITABLE

                                and HM Cruiser EURYALUS for support and convoy defence duties off Sicily.



                1st           Bombarded bridge and harbour at Vibo Valentia, Italy.

                9th          Bombarded targets near Castellamare.

                14th        Bombarded Scalea, SE of Naples.

                15th        Bombarded Vibo Valentia and attacked convoy south of Cape Bonifaci sinking one ship and

                                two escort craft


September             Central Mediterranean deployment with Squadron in continuation.

                                Detached to take troops of 1st Airborne Division at Bizerta with HM Cruisers AURORA,

                                PENELOPE and SIRIUS of Squadron and HM Minelaying Cruiser ABDIEL.

                8th          Embarked troops at Bizerta and took passage to Taranto covered by HM Battleships KING

                                GEORGE V and HOWE (Operation SLAPSTICK)

                9th          Landed troops at Taranto

                                (Note: HMS ABDIEL detonated a mine was sunk by mine.)

                                (See ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY and Naval Staff History (MINING).).

                10th        Returned to Bizerta for second echelon of 1st Airborne and returned to Taranto.

                12th        Rejoined Squadron for support of landings at Salerno (Operation AVALANCHE).

                17th        Provided naval gunfire support off Salerno,

                19th.        Transferred to Aegean for support of military operations and returned to Taranto.

                                (For details see WAR IN THE AEGEAN by P Smith and E Walker).


October                  Deployed in Aegean with HM Cruisers AURORA, PENELOPE and SIRIUS to intercept

                                German invasion craft and provide support for military defence of islands.

                5th          Carried out offensive sweep through Kaso Straits with HMS AURORA screened by HM

                                Destroyers TUMULT and PATHFINDER.

                                In collision with HMS AURORA and sustained structural damage.

                7th          Under repair in Alexandria.


November              On completion bombarded Scalletto prior to Commando raid.


December              Deployed with Force K at Malta for defence of military convoys.

                                Nominated for support of allied landings at Anzio (Operation SHINGLE).

                                (For details see Naval Staff History and above reference).


1 9 4 4


January                  Deployed with HM Cruisers DELHI, PHOEBE, ORION, PENELOPE, MAURITIUS, US

                                cruisers USS PHILADELPHIA and USS BROOKLYN screened by Fleet destroyers to

                                provide naval gunfire support during assault as a diversion during allied landings

                                at Anzio (Operation SHINGLE)

                21st         Bombarded Civitavecchia as a diversion during intial assault.

                29th        Rescued survivors from HM Cruiser SPARTAN after Glider bomb attack.


February                Damaged in collision with US Tank Landing Ship in Naples Bay.

                                Passage to Malta for repair.


March                    Under repair by HM Dockyard Malta.

                31st         Resumed naval gunfire support duties based in Naples.


April                       Central Mediterranean deployment with Squadron in continuation.




July                         Deployed for escort and cover of military convoys during preparation for planned allied

                                landings in South France (Operation DRAGOON – formerly ANVIL)

                                Nominated for support of landings and allocated to SITKA Support Force (TF86) with HM

                                Destroyer LOOKOUT

                                (Note: Operation DRAGOON was under overall command of US Navy)


August                  Joined US Cruiser USS AUGUSTA and US destroyers USS SOMERS, USS GLEAVES in

                                TF86 at Naples.

                12th        Sailed from Naples with TF86.

                14th        Met Assault Convoys SF2 (Alpha), SF2A (Delta) and SF2B (Alpha) at designated position

                                south of Cape Camarat.

                15th        Deployed with ships of TF86 to cover landing by French Commando units at Cape Negre

                                Provided naval gunfire support with USS AUGUSTA and HM Cruiser AJAX during a

                                German counter attack

                                (Note HMS AJAX belonged to ALPHA Support Force (TF85).

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

                17th        Carried out bombardment on batteries between Cape Negre and La Lavandou in ALPHA area.

                28th        On release from DRAGOON resumed operational control by CinC Mediterranean.

                                Withdrawn from Mediterranean service and took passage to rejoin 10th

                                Cruiser Squadron, Home Fleet.


September             Passage to Scapa Flow.


October                  Deployed for Squadron duties in NW Approaches and North Sea.

                                Nominated for escort of Russian convoy.

                22nd       Joined main escort of Convoy JW61 with HM Destroyers ONSLOW, OBEDIENT, OFFA,

                                OPPORTUNE. ORIBI and ORWELL.

                                (Note: HM Escort Aircraft Carrier VINDEX, NAIRANA and TRACKER were deployed

                                to provide anti-submarine air cover.)

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

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

                28th        Detached from JW61 on arrival at Kola Inlet.


November              Embarked 6.5 tons Gold bullion.

                2nd         Joined return Convoy RA61 with HM Frigates BYRON, FITZROY, CONN, DEANE,

                                REDMILL, RUPERT and same destroyers during passage to Home waters.

                                (Note: Before departure frigates had carried out anti-submarine operation against an

                                assembly of U-Boats off Kola Inlet.)

                6th          Detached from RA61 during passage and returned to Scapa Flow.

                8th          Resumed Squadron duties.

                27th        Escorted HM Aircraft Carrier IMPLACABLE with Fleet destroyers during air attacks on

                                convoy north of Mosjoe, north of Namsos, Norway

                                (Note: Two ships in convoy were sunk, with one carrying Russian Prisoners of War with

                                many lost. See CONVOY !)


December              Home Fleet Squadron deployment in continuation.


 1 9 4 5



                11th        Deployed as Senior Officer Force 3 during escort of HM Escort Aircraft Carriers

                                PREMIER and TRUMPETER during air minelays

                                (Operations GRATIS and SPELLBINDER)



                12th        Deployed as Force 2 with HM Cruiser NORFOLK and Fleet destroyers for attacks on

                                Norwegian coast shipping off Bud. (Operation SELENIUM).

                                Returned to Scapa Flow after unsuccessful search

                22nd       Deployed as Senior Officer of Force 4 escorting HM Escort Carriers PREMIER and

                                PUNCHER with Fleet destroyers for air minelay in Karm Sound

                                (Operation GROUNDSHEET)

                                (Note: This also covered minesweeping north of Shetland (Operation SHRE

                                See above references.)


March                    Deployed with Squadron in Home Fleet for support of Norwegian coast operations.


April                       Provided AA defence for HM Minelaying Cruiser APOLLO and three escorting destroyers

                22nd       during lay of special anti-submarine minefield in Kola Inlet.

                                (Operation TRAMMEL- See Naval Staff History (MINING).

                27th        Under repair at Rosyth


May                        On completion rejoined Squadron at Scapa Flow

                6th          Joined HM Cruiser BIRMINGHAM and Fleet destroyers for passage to Copenhagen covered by

                                HM Escort Aircraft Carriers SEARCHER, TRUMPETER, HM Cruiser NORFOLK and Fleet

                                destroyers (Operation CLEAVER)

                9th          Accepted surrender of German cruisers PRINZ EUGEN and NURNBERG at Copenhagen.

                22nd       Escorted PRINZ EUGEN and NURNBERG to Wilhelmshaven with HM Cruiser DEVONSHIRE.


June                        Nominated for transfer to British Pacific Fleet after refit including latest design of radar




                6th          Embarked HM Majesty King George VI and HM Queen Elizabeth ay Liverpool for passage to

                                visit Isle of Man.

                8th          Returned to Liverpool with royal passengers.

                28th        Visited by HM King George VI at Rosyth.


August                  Home Fleet deployment in continuation


P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS DIDO was not deployed with British Pacific Fleet but went for refit at Chatham in October 1945. On completion in 1947, owing to economic constraints on defence expenditure and manning difficulties the ship was placed in Reserve. Although deployed at Portsmouth as Flagship in the Reserve Fleet between 1952 and 1956 she never re-commissioned for service. Placed on the Disposal List she was sold to BISCO for demolition by at TW Ward at Barrow and arrived at the Breaker’s yard in tow on 16th July 1956. This name was carried forward on 22nd December when a LEANDER Class Frigate was launched by Yarrow Shipbuilders at Scotstoun, Glasgow.







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








SL 065





ANF 030





AS 031/1





MW 011





MW 013





MW 014





JW 061





RA 061








(Note on Convoys)






by Colin Bates



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