1 9 3 9
September Deployed in Red Sea for contraband control.
October Transferred to Indian Ocean for trade defence and interception of
(Note: Part of
this period carried out patrols in Bay of Bengal.)
17th Joined French Escort Vessel RIGAULT DE GENOUILLY in search
GRAF SPEE between Madagascar and Seychelles.
For details of German commerce
raider activities see ENGAGE THE ENEMY
by C Barnett and Naval Staff History.
December Deployed as part of Hunting Group
Force I for interception of commerce raiders
1 9 4 0
January Nominated for routine docking
and took passage to Simonstown.
8th Taken in hand for docking and refit by HM Dockyard, Simonstown.
1st Resumed trade defence and patrol duties in Indian Ocean.
March Indian Ocean deployment in continuation.
Nominated for duty in South Atlantic as relief for HM
April Transfer to South Atlantic cancelled and ordered to join 7th
Took passage to Alexandria via Red Sea
(Note: This was part of a
reinforcement of the Fleet at Alexandria in view of
increasing likelihood of Italian entry into hostilities.
Staff History and above reference.)
23rd Joined HM Aircraft Carrier EAGLE and HM Cruiser SYDNEY (RAN)
escort for military Convoy US3 during passage in Red Sea.
(Note: US3 was taking troops of
the ANZAC Division to Egypt for service in
HMS EAGLE and HMAS SYDNEY were
also on passage to join Fleet at
26th Joined HM Cruisers ORION, NEPTUNE, SYDNEY (RAN) and LIVERPOOL
in 7th Cruiser Squadron and formed 2nd Division with HMS
11th Deployed with HM Battleships WARSPITE and MALAYA, HMS EAGLE, Ships
Cruiser Squadron, HM Cruisers CALEDON and CALYPSO with screen of
12 destroyers for an offensive
sweep in Eastern
protecting supply convoys to Libya.
Detached with ships of 7th
Cruiser Squadron to carry sweep ahead of Fleet units
then proceed to North African coast to attack any shipping or escorts..
12th Engaged six minesweepers off Tobruk with HMS LIVERPOOL and
Italian GIOVANNI BERTA..
(Note: The other ships of
Squadron found no targets off Benghazi.)
Came under shore fire without
any damage and cut some mine with paravanes,
On completion rejoined Fleet and
carried out search ahead of main force.
14th Rejoined Fleet units west of Crete.
(Note: No enemy forces were
sighted and ant-submarine patrols were provided
15th Returned to Alexandria with Fleet.
For details see
Naval Staff History (HMSO, 2002)
27th Deployed with HM Battleships ROYAL SOVEREIGN and RAMILLIES,
EAGLE, HM Cruisers, LIVERPOOL, NEPTUNE, ORION and SYDNEY
screen of seven Destroyers to provide cover for passage of convoy AS1 to
in Aegean from Port Said and two (MS1 and MF1) from Malta carrying
being evacuated to Egypt.
Detached from battleships to
carry out attack of three Italian destroyers which
engaged by all ships of Squadron.
During this action off Zante the destroyer ESPERO was sunk although the other two
(OSTRO and ZEFFIRO) escaped.
(Note: These destroyers were
taking supplies to Tobruk.
Owing to the excessive
expenditure of 6in ammunition the planned movement
and MF1 was cancelled.)
Detached with HMS LIVERPOOL and
returned to Port
to replenish ammunition.
7th Sailed with HM Battleships WARSPITE, MALAYA, ROYAL SOVEREIGN,
HM Cruisers ORION, NEPTUNE,
SYDNEY (RAN), and LIVERPOOL and 32
screen as Force A to cover passage of Malta convoys evacuating
to Egypt. (Operation MA5)
(Note: It was also intended to
take the opportunity to engage any Italian unit which
been reported in the eastern Mediterranean.)
8th Under heavy and sustained air attacks
and hit on compass platform.
Captain FR Garside, CBE, RN and 17 others of the ship's company
Forward armament fire control and
steering equipment disabled but after 6in mountings
in Local control allowing ship to remain with the Fleet.
9th Deployed as screened for HMS WARSPITE, HMS MALAYA and HMS
SOVEREIGN and HMS EAGLE with
ships of 7th Cruiser Squadron and Fleet
during an attack on a major Italian force covering passage of a convoy to
Tobruk (Battle of Calabria).
Detached with HMS EAGLE and hit
by bomb during air attacks on Fleet but
the bomb failed to explode.
August Under repair at Alexandria.
14th Returned to Alexandria as escort for Convoy
MF1 with destroyer HMAS STUART.
15th At Alexandria during Italian air Raid
20th Joined HM Cruisers KENT, and LIVERPOOL in 3rd Cruiser Squadron on formation.
22nd Deployed with Squadron and HM Cruisers ORION and SYDNEY (RAN)
of 7th Cruiser
Squadron for offensive sweep in defence of Aegean convoys.
25th Carried out similar operation and under
attack by torpedo aircraft which failed.
threat never materialised.
30th Deployed with HMS WARSPITE, HMS MALAYA, HMS EAGLE, HM Cruisers
KENT and LIVERPOOL to cover passage of convoy MF2 to Malta from Alexandria
(Operation MB3 – Part of joint
Operation HATS with Force H from Gibraltar
HM Battleship VALIANT, HM
Aircraft Carrier ILLUSTRIOUS, HM Cruisers
CALCUTTA and COVENTRY (as Force F) through Mediterranean for reinforcement
Fleet at Alexandria..)
31st With same ships escorted Force F from the Sicilian Narrows.
3rd Detached with ships of Squadron to escort southbound Convoy
AS3 during passage to
6th Returned to Alexandria.
13th Deployed with HMS KENT and HMS LIVERPOOL to provide AA defence
northbound Convoy AN3 during passage in eastern Mediterranean
16th Deployed with HMS VALIANT, HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, ships of Squadron
seven destroyers to provide support to military units in their defence against
Provided cover during air
operations from HMS ILLUSTRIOUS at Benghazi,
17th Detached with ships of Squadron to carry
out bombardment of Bardia.
Came under night bomb and
torpedo attack by aircraft during which HMS KENT was
damaged and disabled with 32 fatal casualties
19th Returned to Alexandria.
(Note: HMS KENT after period under tow by HM Destroyer
NUBIAN also returned.)
28th Embarked troops for passage to Malta with HMS LIVERPOOL with cover from the
cruiser SYDNEY (Operation MB5)
29th Joined HMS VALIANT, HMS WARSPITE, HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, HM Cruisers
(RAN) and YORK.
(Note: These ships had been
deployed to provide cover and to engage any Italian
attempting interfere with Operation MB5 in support of Malta.
MB5 also provided cover for
passage of northbound Convoy AN4.)
Under air attacks which were
30th Detached with ships of Squadron to
disembark troops and stores in Malta.
Fleet units sighted on return passage to bases.
1st Rejoined Fleet units.
2nd Returned to Alexandria with Fleet units after
taking part in exercises.
8th Sailed from Alexandria with HMS WARSPITE, HMS VALIANT, HMS
HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, HMS EAGLE, HMS YORK, HMS AJAX, HMS ORION and
HMS SYDNEY (RAN) screened by `6
destroyers to provide cover for passage of
Malta support Convoy MF3 during passage from Alexandria (Operation MB6).
10th Detached from Fleet units
with HMS RAMILLIES to join MF3 escort during final stage
passage into Malta.
11th Rejoined Fleet units after MF3 arrival.
12th Deployed ahead of Fleet units and after sighting of Italian
destroyers and torpedo boats
AJAX deployed in support...
(Note: This move was made in
anticipation of engagement with heavy Italian warships.
HMS AJAX attacked Italian
warships and damaged destroyer ARTIGLIERE,
sank Torpedo Boats ARIE and AIRONE but sustained significant damage with
casualties from return fire. Under air attacks which were unsuccessful.
HMS YORK sank ARTIGLIERE which was under tow.
13th Deployed with HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, HMS LIVERPOOL and four
destroyers to carry
out night attack on Leros.
14th Under air attacks during which HMS
LIVERPOOL was seriously damaged.
15th Provided cover with Fleet units for passage of eastward
Convoy MF4 from Malta
southbound Convoy AS during passage to Alexandria.
(Note: The two convoys had
merged on 14th. and met on14th.
16th Returned to Alexandria with Fleet units..
28th Greece entered war after delivery if Italian
29th Deployed with Fleet units to be in
position off Crete by 31st.
(Note: Fleet units included HMS
WARSPITE, HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, ships of
screen of five destroyers.
This major deployment was made
to cover passage of special convoy taking
and personnel to Suda
Bay for defence of Crete.)
2nd Returned to Alexandria with Fleet units.
5th Sailed from Alexandria with HMS YORK of Squadron as part of Mediterranean
to provide Distant cover for passage of Malta Convoy MW3 during passage
Port Said (Operation MB8).
Other Fleet units involved were
HMS WARSPITE, HMS MALAYA, HMS VALIANT,
ILLUSTRIOUS, HMS AJAX, HMS SYDNEY (RAN) and
screen of 13 destroyers.
8th Air attack by S79 repelled by
ILLUSTRIOUS FULMAR aircraft which destroyed two S79.
9th HMS RAMILLIES detached to join MW3 escort.
Remained with Fleet units.
10th Carried out search to north with ships
of 7th and 3rd Squadrons.
Met HM Battleship BARHAM, HM
Cruisers BERWICK and GLASGOW with three
in central Mediterranean to reinforce Mediterranean Fleet at Alexandria
(Operation COAT another combined
Operation with ships of Force H which had
passage from Gibraltar to Sicilian Narrows.
11th Escorted HMS ILLUSTRIOUS with HM Cruisers BERWICK, GLASGOW
YORK screened by HM Destroyers HASTY, HAVOCK,
HYPERION and ILEX
air attacks on Italian Fleet at Taranto (Operation JUDGEMENT).
12th Remained with ILLUSTRIOUS screen on passage to launch
position for 2nd series
attacks on Taranto.
Operation cancelled due to
weather conditions and returned to Alexandria.
14th At Alexandria and nominated for
escort of military convoys to Greece and Crete.
15th Embarked troops in Alexandria for passage to Piraeus with HM Cruisers BERWICK,
YORK, GLASGOW and SYDNEY
(Note: Cover was provided by HMS
BARHAM, HMS VALIANT, HMS EAGLE
screen of eight destroyers.
Passage to Piraeus and returned to resume Squadron duties
25th Deployed for exercises with Squadron before joining Force A
Mediterranean Fleet Units with
50th Commando on board HMS WARSPITE
escort troopship ULSTER PRINCE to Suda Bay.)
(Note: Part joint Operation
COLLAR with Force H at Gibraltar during which
Forces C and D of Mediterranean
Fleet was to provide cover for passage
Malta Convoy MW4, transit of HMS RAMILLIES, HM Cruisers BERWICK
and NEWCASTLE to Gibraltar after service in eastern Mediterranean and
reinforcement ships joining Fleet at Alexandria with mercantile convoy
ME4 from Gibraltar (Operation MB9)
Other ships in Force A were HMS YORK and HMS GLASGOW of Squadron,
HMS VALIANT, HMS ILLUSTRIOUS.)
26th Detached with HMS GLASGOW and screen of four destroyers to
provide cover for
HMS ILLUSTRIOUS during air
attacks on Port Laki, Rhodes.
Rejoined Force A ships at Suda Bay and took passage to provide Distant
27th Detached from Force A with
ships of Squadron to support ships of Force H which
action against Italian Fleet units in defence of MW4.
(Battle of Cape Spartivento)
Provided cover for passage of
ME4 through Sicilian Narrows.
29th Detached from Force A off Malta and took passage to Suda Bay with HM Corvettes
GLOXINIA, HYACINTH, PEONY and
SALVIA which had been part of reinforcements
Fleet in eastern Mediterranean from Gibraltar.
3rd Under attack by Italian torpedo carrying aircraft at Suda Bay, Crete, during which
HMS GLASGOW was damaged.
Took passage to Alexandria with HMS GLASGOW
5th Arrived at Alexandria.
10th Nominated for support of planned military operations to repel
Italian advance in
Egypt (Operation COMPASS)
Sailed from Alexandria with HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, HMS YORK, HM Destroyers
and HERO as Force D to 16th.
with HMS VALIANT, HMS WARSPITE, HMS ILLUSTRIOUS screened
destroyers, as Force A , HMS YORK
of Squadron, as Force B, to provide Distant
Cover for transit of convoys in Eastern Mediterranean (Operation MC3)
(Note: Convoys included MW5 to Malta, ME5 to Egypt , two Aegean convoys as well
troopship ULSTER QUEEN on passage to Crete and Greece with personnel.
In addition HM Battleship MALAYA
was taking passage to Gibraltar and
MW5 during passage to Malta with HM Destroyer HYPERION and
ILEX. as Operation HIDE.)
17th At Suda Bay with Force A and joined by HM Cruisers ORION,
SYDNEY (RAN) and
AJAX of 7th Cruiser Squadron in Force B)
18th 7th Cruiser Squadron detached for sweep in Adriatic to intercept military convoys.
Remained with Force A for covering duties.
19th Took part in bombardment of Valona with Mediterranean Fleet ships (Operation MC2).
20th Remained with Force A to Cover
passage of HMS MALAYA and Convoy MG1
through Sicilian Narrows when HMS WARSPITE detached to take
CinC to Malta.
22nd Deployed with Force A to cover HMS ILLUSTRIOUS during air
attacks on Tripoli.
23rd HMS WARSPITE rejoined Force A for return passage to Alexandria.
24th Detached with HMS YORK and took passage to Piraeus.
Returned to Alexandria.
1 9 4 1
for escort of military convoy during passage from Gibraltar in western
Mediterranean and through Sicilian Narrows to Malta (Operation EXCESS)
(Note: This convoy was carrying
troops for service in the Eighth Army in Egypt
Operation EXCESS involved Force H at Gibraltar.
Mediterranean Fleet deployments
were identified as Operation MC4).
5th Sailed from Alexandria with HM Cruiser SOUTHAMPTON and HM
ILEX for Suda Bay, Crete to embark troops for
passage to Malta.
6th Embarked troops and sailed for Malta with same ships.
8th Disembarked troops in Malta and took passage with same ships and HM
JANUS to join EXCESS convoy
which was escorted by HM Cruiser
HM Destroyers HASTY, HEREWARD, HERO and JAGUAR.
as Force F
9th Met EXCESS convoy off Bizerta and joined Force F.
10th EXCESS under attack by Italian submarine SETTIMO which failed
and then under
attack by Italian torpedo boats CIRCE and VEGA.
Engaged enemy ships with HMS
BONAVENTURE, HMS SOUTHAMPTON and
HMS JAGUAR during which VEGA was
hit by fire from BONAVENTURE and later
torpedo from HEREWARD.
Immediately following this
action HM Destroyer GALLANT detonated a mine
destroyed her forward structure with many casualties. This ship remained
and was taken in tow by HM Destroyer MOHAWK.
(Note: HMS GALLANT and HMS
MOHAWK were part of destroyer screen for
comprising ships of Mediterranean Fleet which was in the vicinity
provide Distant Cover for EXCESS convoy during onward passage
Provided cover for passage of
damaged GALLANT with HMS SOUTHAMPTON
tow of GALLANT protected by HMS BONAVENTURE and HM Destroyer
attack during passage.
11th Detached from cover with HMS SOUTHAMPTON
and HMS DIAMOND which had
to supplement defence of GALLANT tow.
Took passage to rejoin Force A
but later ordered to provide cover for Convoy ME6
passage to Egypt from Malta
(Note: Fleet Units including HMS
ILLUSTRIOUS were under heavy and sustained
attacks whilst with ships of EXCESS convoy destined for Egypt. These
attacks were being carried out by German aircraft of Fliegerkorps
been transferred to the Mediterranean specifically for operations against
British sea operations in
defence of Malta and on this occasion were
on HMS ILLUSTRIOUS which was severely damaged and had
return to Malta. For details see Naval Staff History,
Battle Summary No18.)
During passage to join ME6 with
HMS SOUTHAMPTON came under dive bomber
by six aircraft during which HMS SOUTHAMPTON was totally disabled
hits which caused major damage and started serious fires.
Embarked survivors from HMS
SOUTHAMPTON with HMS DIAMOND when it
decided the stricken ship should be sunk.
(Note: HMS SOUTHAMPTON was sunk
by torpedoes from HMS ORION which
to assist in operations.)
12th Passage to Alexandria with HMS WARSPITE and
ships of Force A.
15th Arrived at Alexandria with Fleet Units
February (Note: Fleet operations were
restricted by lack of a suitable aircraft carrier.
Cruisers were deployed for
diversionary operation in Aegean during
operations in western Mediterranean.
transport of military personnel of Cheshire and Hampshire Regts.
stores to Malta (Operation MC8)
19th Sailed from Alexandria with HMS AJAX, HMS ORION, HM Destroyers
NUBIAN taking troops and stores to Malta. Cover was
by HM Battleships BARHAM, VALIANT and HMS EAGLE
also covered passage of HM Supply Ships BRECONSHIRE and mercantile
returning empty from Malta to Alexandria.
21st Sailed from Malt after disembarkation and took passage to Suda Bay, Crete
with HM Destroyers HEREWARD and DECOY.
24th At Suda Bay to cover planned landing by Commando Unit at Casteloriso in
(Note: Commando Unit was carried
in the two destroyers.
HM Cruiser BONAVENTURE and the two destroyers to Casteloriso.
25th Deployed on patrol with destroyers south
(Note: Other ships involved were
HM River Gunboat LADYBIRD carrying
Royal Marines and HM Submarine
PARTHIAN which acted as Beacon
assist in landing operation.)
26th Returned to Alexandria after enemy warships sighted off island.
(Note: This operation was
completely unsatisfactory and further reinforcement
necessary or provision of adequate ships for evacuation..
See Naval Staff History and THE
WATERY MAZE by B Fergusson.)
for support of Operation LUSTRE with ships of Squadron.
(Note: Ship carried personnel
and stores for military support to
Greek ports following the
decision to send British army and
RAF Units transferred to assist
in defence against German attack.)
20th Sailed from Alexandria with HM Aircraft Carrier FORMIDABLE, HM
Battleships WARSPITE, BARHAM and
VALIANT, HM Cruiser YORK
screen of 15 destroyers to provide cover for passage of west bound
MW6 during passage to Malta (Operation MC9).
(Note: HMS FORMIDABLE arrived in
Alexandria on 10th March to
22nd HM Cruisers AJAX, ORION and PERTH (RAN) joined covering force.
23rd Detached from covering force and took passage to Suda Bay with HMS YORK.
25th Arrived at Suda Bay with HMS YORK to refuel.
26th Despatched from Suda Bay with HM Destroyers VENDETTA and VAMPIRE
Cruisers ORION, AJAX and PERTH (RAN) for major Fleet
intercept major Italian Fleet units known to be on passage to carry out attacks
convoys in Aegean supporting military defence of Greece.
(Note: Whilst at Suda Bay HMS YORK was attacked by Italian explosive motor
27th Deployed with HMS AJAX, HMS ORION, HMAS PERTH with destroyer
to meet Mediterranean Fleet units in position south of Crete.
28th Under fire from Italian cruiser TRENTO and made enemy report to CinC in
Took part in the subsequent
engagement with Italian Fleet at the Battle of Cape
For full details see Naval Staff History, Battle Summary No 44.)
30th Returned to Alexandria with Fleet units.
April Deployed in support of military
operations and carried out bombardments.
Nominated for Fleet duties to
provide cover for passage of HM Supply Ship
BRECONSHIRE to Malta and the transit of Convoy ME7 with empty
from Malta to Egypt (Operation MD2).
On completion of MD2 ship to
take part in bombardment of Tripoli with
Mediterranean Fleet ships
18th Sailed from Alexandria with HM Battleships WARSPITE, BARHAM,
HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, HM Cruisers CALCUTTA, ORION and PHOEBE with
19th At Suda Bay to refuel destroyers.
20th HMS CALCUTTA and HMS PHOEBE detached to join ME7 escort.
Remained with Fleet units and
deployed as Force B screened by four destroyers
(Note: Force C made up of HMS
ILLUSTRIOUS, HMS AJAX, HMS ORION and
HMAS PERTH which had joined
after escorting HMS BRECONSHIRE.)
21st Took part in bombardment of Tripoli.
23rd Transferred to Malta to join Malta Strike
24th Deployed at Malta for attacks on Italian supply traffic to
and from North African ports
as Force K with HM Destroyers JAGUAR, JANUS, JERVIS and JUNO.
28th Ships of 5th Destroyer Flotilla arrived in Malta to form new Force K.
30th During air raid on Malta slightly damaged by unexploded bomb
through port side structure without major damage.
for support and escort of military convoy during passage to Alexandria
1st Carried out interception patrol with HM Destroyers KELLY, KASHMIR, KELVIN,
KIPLING, JERSEY and JACKAL in central Mediterranean.
2nd Unable to re-enter when Grand Harbour closed by enemy mining.
(Note: HMS KELLY, HMS JACKAL,
HMS KELVIN were trapped in Grand
Harbour Malta after HMS JERSEY was sunk by a mine when
from Malta with HMS KASHMIR AND HMS KIPLING.
3rd Sustained damage when mine exploded in paravane
during passage through
Sicilian Narrows and by bomb hit in air
5th Docked at Gibraltar for examination and
6th After undocking despatched to overtake ships of Force H
escort and cover during passage of TIGER Convoy in western Mediterranean.
taking military supplies including tanks to Eighth Army in Egypt.
Joined Force "F" on
arrival with Force H.
(Note: TIGER convoy included HM
Battleship HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH,
HM Cruisers NAIAD and FIJI to join Fleet at Alexandria and deployed
8th Remained with convoy as escort through central Mediterranean and joined by
HM Cruisers ORION, AJAX, DIDO, PERTH (RAN) and PHOEBE covered by
of the Mediterranean Fleet (Operation TIGER).
9th Series of air attacks on convoy and escort were driven off
by aircraft from
HM Aircraft Carrier FORMIDABLE and ship's AA barrage.
12th Deployed with Mediterranean Fleet in support of reinforcement
convoys to the
13th Passage to Heraklion with HM Cruiser
FIJI taking troops to Crete..
16th Disembarked troops and joined Force B with HMS
FIJI in attacks on invasion
convoys NW of Crete.
21st Part of Force A with HMS WARSPITE, HMS VALIANT
and HMS FIJI to give
cruisers of Force C (HM Ships NAIAD, PERTH, CALCUTTA and
CARLISLE and a screen of 3 Fleet destroyers) during
attacks on invasion craft
in Kithera Channel.
22nd Came under a series of heavy air attacks with HMS FIJI, HM
HMS GRIFFIN during withdrawal from Kithera Channel.
GREYHOUND was sunk by dive bombers west of Crete.
Rescue of survivors with HMS
FIJI was prevented by the intensity of air attacks
the depletion of stocks of AA ammunition.
Hit by three bombs which caused
internal explosions and major flooding.
Major fires broke out and could
not be controlled.
Disabled ship had therefore to
HMS FIJI was ordered to withdraw
because of the continuing air attacks but
rafts and boats for survivors.
ninety minutes with the loss of all but 82 of the ship's company.
(Note: HMS FIJI was later sunk
by air attacks with heavy loss of life.)