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

HMS DIOMEDE  -  World War 1 D-type Light Cruiser

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Diomede (Photo Ships, click to enlarge) return to Contents List   

D-Class cruiser ordered from Victors at Barrow under an Emergency War Programme in March 1918 and laid down as Yard No 563 on 3rd June that year. Launched on 29th April 1919 as the 3rd RN ship to carry the name introduced in 1781 for a 4th Rate broken up in 1815. The ship was transferred after launch to HM Dockyard at Portsmouth for completion as an economy measure but was not ready for acceptance until 24th February 1922. Following a successful WARSHIP WEEK in March 1942 this cruiser was adopted by the London Borough of Lambeth


B a t t l e   H o n o u r




 H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge:  On a Field Green a White horse rampant with hooves Gold.


M o t t o

Fortibua feroces Fragenture:   'The fierce are broken by the brave’



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


1 9 2 2


February                Contractors trials and commissioned for trials

                28th        Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials


March                    On completion of trials commissioned for service with 5th Light Cruiser Squadron on

                                the China Station

                                Took passage to Squadron.


April                       Joined Squadron at Hong Kong.


May                        Deployed with Squadron on China Station.

                                (Note: Ships of Squadron carried out trade protection and spent periods at Wei-Hei Wei in

                                North China which was leased from China as a base with limited facilities.)


1 9 2 3


                                Squadron duties on China Station In continuation.


1 9 2 4


                                Squadron duties on China Station In continuation.

                                Offered to New Zealand Government for service in the New Zealand Division and to

                                join sister ship HMS DUNEDIN which was to replace HM Cruiser CHATHAM in New

                                Zealand in May 1924 as Flagship of the Division (February).


1 9 2 5


January                  Passage to UK and Paid-Off at Portsmouth.

to                            Refitted prior to service in New Zealand Division.



September             Carried out Post Refit Trials.



                21st         Re-commissioned at Portsmouth for service in New Zealand Division.


November              Deployed in UK and prepared for foreign service.


December              Took passage to New Zealand.


1 9 2 6



                26th        Joined New Zealand Division at Auckland.


February                Deployed with Division in Pacific for visits to Pacific islands and in New Zealand

to                            for exercises and local visits.



1 9 2 7    t o    1 9 2 8


                                New Zealand Division deployment in continuation.


1 9 2 9


                                Passage to UK to Pay-Off and refit for further service in New Zealand Division.

                                Taken in hand for refit by HM Dockyard, Chatham.


1 9 3 0

January                  Under refit




September             Carried out Post Refit Trials



                16th        Re-commissioned for service with New Zealand Division.


November              Worked-up and prepared for foreign service.


December              Passage to Auckland


1 9 3 0    t o    1 9 3 4


                                Deployed in Pacific and locally in New Zealand.


1 9 3 5


January                  New Zealand Division deployment in continuation.

to                            Nominated for detached service with East Indies Squadron.

August                  (Note: This deployment was made after the Italian invasion of Abyssinia.)


September             Passage to Indian Ocean.


October                  Deployed at Aden for blockade duties and protection of trade in Red Sea and the

to                            Indian Ocean.



1 9 3 6


January                  Aden deployment in continuation.


February                Nominated for return to UK to Pay-Off and reduce to Reserve status.


 March                   Passage to Chatham.

                31st         Paid-Off.

                                (Note: Ship's Company transferred to HM Cruiser ACHILLES.)


April                       Reduced to Reserve status at Chatham

to                            On completion Joined Chatham Reserve Fleet.


1 9 3 7


January                  Deployed in Reserve Fleet at Chatham.

to                            Nominated for training of Reservists.




                29th        Re-commissioned with reduced complement for training duties


August                  Deployed at Chatham




1 9 3 8


January                  Training deployment at Chatham in continuation.

to                            Nominated for transfer to Devonport for training duties

June                        Passage to Plymouth.


July                         Deployed at Devonport for training duties in Reserve Fleet

to                            Nominated for deployment at Portsmouth as tender to Signal School after refit.

December              (Note: To be fitted with new design aircraft warning radar equipment Type 79Z for

                                development trials.)


1 9 3 9


January                  Passage to Portsmouth and taken in hand for refit.




March                    Under refit

to                            Deployment as Signal School Tender cancelled.

June                        (Note: Development model, Radar Type 79Z was fitted in HM Cruiser CURLEW for

                                trials and became the third RN ship to be fitted with RDF equipment for

                                operational use.)


July                         Brought up to complement with Reservists for the Review of Reserve Fleet by HM King

                                George VI in Weymouth Bay.


August                  Passage to Portland and attended Review.

.               9th          Attended Royal Review in Weymouth Bay.

                                Took passage to Scapa Flow to Join 7th Cruiser Squadron for war service after

                                embarking ammunition and war stores.

                                Complement completed.

                                Sailed for first Northern Patrol duty from Scapa Flow.



D e t a i 1 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 on Northern Patrol based at Scapa Flow.

                                (Note: This was introduced to interception of German shipping attempting to return

                                to Germany and commerce raiders on passage to Atlantic Ocean.

                                For details of Northern Patrol duties see THE BLOCKADERS by K Poolman)


October                  Transferred to Sullom Voe in continuation of Patrol duties.


November              Northern Patrol duty in continuation.

                8th          Sailed from Sullom Voe.

                12th        Sustained weather damage.

                15th        Returned for repair.

                17th        Resumed Northern Patrol duties.

                23rd        Established patrol line off North Rona during search for the German battlecruisers

                                SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU after sinking of HM Armed Merchant Cruiser



December              Northern Patrol duty in continuation.

                16th        Returned to Scapa Flow from Patrol

                20th        Taken in hand for repair and refit at Devonport.



1 9 4 0


January                  Under refit

                10th        On completion took passage to rejoin Northern Patrol.

                16th        Sailed for Patrol from Scapa Flow.

                25th        Transferred to 8th Cruiser Squadron in West Indies.

                                (Note: This Class of cruiser had been found unsuitable for deployment in northern waters).

                                Took passage from Scapa Flow to Devonport.

                                Prepared for foreign service at Devonport.


February                Took passage to West Indies on completion.

                                Deployed with HM Cruisers DESPATCH and PERTH for trade protection and interception

                                off east coast of Brazil and Caribbean area.

                                Based at Bermuda.


March                    West Indies patrol and interception deployment in continuation.




October                  Under refit at Bermuda.


November              On completion resumed interception and trade protection duties in West Indies area baaed at

to                            Bermuda.



1 9 4 1


January                  West Indies area trade and protection and interception patrol in continuation.




July                         Under refit at Bermuda




September             On completion of trials transferred to Pacific Ocean for defence of trade and patrol

to                            Deployed off west coasts of North and South American continents.

November              Assumed duty as Flagship of 8th Cruiser Squadron.


December              Returned to West Indies for trade defence and Interception in Caribbean area.

                9th          Intercepted Blockade Runner IDARWALD after report from USS BROOME

                                Enemy ship scuttled after being boarded.


1 9 4 2


January                  Convoy defence and interception duty in continuation.


February                Nominated for detached duty under US command when 8th Cruiser Squadron disbanded

                                Took passage to South Atlantic.

                20th        Joined US South Atlantic Command for deployment in defence of Falkland Islands.

                                (Note: This was an additional measure taken after Japanese entry into WW2).

                                Rescued survivors of ss SCOTTISH STAR torpedoed 700 miles NW of Trinidad.


March                    Deployed on convoy defence and interception in South Atlantic under US Command.

                                Ship adopted by the civil community of the London Borough of Lambeth following a

                                successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign.


April                       South Atlantic deployment under US Command in continuation.




August                  Developed propulsion machinery defect in port turbine

                                Withdrawn from operational service


September             Passage to UK.


October                  Taken in hand for repair at Rosyth


November              Under repair by m Dockyard, Rosyth.

to                            Surface warning radar Type 273 and air warning radar Type 291 fitted.

December              Close range defence improved by fit of 20mm Oerlikon guns on the upper deck.

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


1 9 4 3


January                  Under refit




May                        Post refit trials.


June                        Deployed with Home Fleet pending decision about future use.

to                            (Note: Not deployed for Fleet interception duties in view of limitations due to age

July                         Surface armament was outdated, with poor armour protection).


August                  Nominated for training duties at Rosyth after refit.

to                            Under conversion at Chatham to suit new deployment.

September             Deployed as Training Ship for Direct Entry Y Scheme officer candidates.

                                (Note: These were ratings selected for promotion before sea service and who had the

                                necessary educational qualification for commissioned rank in the RNVR)


1 9 4 4


January                  Training duties at Rosyth in continuation.




August                  Under refit at Rosyth.

to                            Torpedo tubes moved.



October                  Resumed training duties.




1 9 4 5


January                  Training duties in continuation.




P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS DIOMEDE reduced to Reserve status at Devonport in October 1945 and laid up at Falmouth in unmaintained Reserve until sold to BISCO on 5th April 1946 for breaking up by Arnott Young at Dalmuir.  Whilst on passage to the breaker's yard she grounded during tow off Penzance but was refloated. The ship arrived on 13th May 1946 and broken-up later that year. In 1969 this name was again used for a LEANDER-Class General Purpose Frigate, launched by Yarrow Shipbuilders on 15th April 1969.


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