DIDO-Class cruiser ordered from Cammell Laird at Birkenhead
on 28th August 1938 under the 1938 Build Programme. The ship was laid down on 9th
November 1938 and launched on 17th
September 1940 as the fifth RN
warship to carry this name, dating
from 1809. It had last been used by a cruiser sold in 1922. Her completion was
delayed until 3rd December 1941 due to the higher priority given to delivery of Escort Destroyers
after the heavy
losses of this type of warship during
1940. A reduced armament of four twin
4.5in guns was fitted in this cruiser
and her sister ship HMS SCYLLA instead
of the designed five twin 5.25in
mountings. After a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign during March 1942 she was
adopted by the civil community of Birkenhead,
now in the Metropolitan Borough of
in a Day's Work" - Her Career by David
Loss and Commemoration, by the
of Her Loss from Captured German
Record of Ordnance Artificer/3
George Smith, including
loss commemoration photograph and newspaper
by Gordon Smith, son of George Smith
lost in her sinking
a t t l
e H o n o u r s
CONVOYS 1942 - NORTH AFRICA 1942 -
SALERNO 1943 - ATLANTIC 1943 - ENGLISH CHANNEL 1943 - BISCAY
e r a l d i c D a t a
a Field White,
from a whirlpool in base a fig tree
from the branches a bat inverted Gold.
e t a i l s
o f W a
r S e r v i ce
more ship information,
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Carried out Contractors Trials.
3rd - Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials
15th - Commissioned for service.
16th - Civic Reception by local community for ship's company.
16th - Sailed for Clyde
on completion of Acceptance.
3rd - Commenced work-up in Clyde
area before Joining Home Fleet.
15th - Escorted ships of 1st Minelaying Squadron during minelay in
(Operation SN81 - See the Naval Staff History (MINING) for details).
9 4 2
Completed work-up and deployed with Home Fleet in NW Approaches.
Fleet deployment in continuation.
Home Fleet deployment in continuation.
30th - Escorted ships of 1st Minelaying Squadron during minelay in
(Operation SN87 - See above reference).
Nominated for transfer to Force H based at Gibraltar.
of operations in Mediterranean
in 1941 and 1942 see Naval Staff
FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by D MacIntyre,
ENGAGE THE ENEMY
CLOSELY by Corelli
Barnett and MALTA
CONVOYS by R Woodman.)
13th - Escorted US aircraft Carrier USS WASP with battlecruiser
RENOWN and cruiser
during passage to Gibraltar.
19th - Joined Force W with RENOWN and CAIRO to escort USS WASP for
delivery, screened by destroyers
INGLEFIELD, ITHURIEL, ECHO,
US Navy destroyers USS LANG and USS
MADISON (Operation CALENDAR).
20th - On completion escorted USS WASP for part of passage from Gibraltar
23rd - Returned to Gibraltar
6th - Joined RENOWN, destroyers ECHO, ECLIPSE and INTREPID in Force
7th - Escorted USS WASP in Atlantic
for passage into Mediterranean.
8th - Part of escort for USS WASP and aircraft carrier EAGLE for
: destroyer screen included
ECHO, INTREPID, USS LANG and
provided by RENOWN (Operation
10th - On completion escorted USS WASP into Atlantic
before return to Gibraltar.
17th - Escorted aircraft carriers EAGLE and ARGUS for aircraft
delivery to Malta screened
by destroyers PARTRIDGE, ITHURIEL,
ANTELOPE, WISHART., WESTCOTT,
WRESTLER and VIDETTE (Operation
2nd - Escorted EAGLE for aircraft delivery to Malta
with destroyers WESTCOTT,
ITHURIEL, ANTELOPE and PARTRIDGE
8th - Escorted EAGLE with CAIRO
for aircraft delivery to Malta
screened by destroyers PARTRIDGE, ITHURIEL, ANTELOPE,
WISHART, WRESTLER and WESTCOTT
11th - Joined Force W with battleship MALAYA, EAGLE, ARGUS,
to cover passage to Sicilian Narrows
of Malta convoy.
: destroyer screen
comprised destroyers ONSLOW, ICARUS,
WRESTLER, VIDETTE and ANTELOPE
17th - Returned to Gibraltar
with Force W and retained in Mediterranean.
Deployed at Gibraltar.
14th - Escorted EAGLE with CAIRO
for Malta aircraft delivery screened
WESTCOTT, WRESTLER, ANTELOPE,
VANSITTART and ITHURIEL.
20th - Repeated aircraft delivery escort with same ships (Operation
5th - Joined aircraft carriers VICTORIOUS, INDOMITABLE, EAGLE and
PHOEBE and SIRIUS in Atlantic for exercise in fighter direction and
multi-aircraft carrier operations
(Exercise BERSERK). (For
details of development and use of
radar by RN see RADAR AT SEA by D
9th - Joined Force Z west of Gibraltar
with battleships NELSON, RODNEY,
VICTORIOUS, INDOMITABLE, EAGLE,
cruisers SIRIUS and PHOEBE with
to cover passage of supply convoy
(WS21S) to Sicilian
PEDESTAL - See above references and
PEDESTAL by P Smith).
12th - Stood by INDOMITABLE to provide AA
defence after action damage.
13th - Detached from Force Z after nightfall to replace cruiser MANCHESTER
during passage through Sicilian
had been torpedoed and had to be
14th - Rejoined Force Z and in action with
15th - Arrived at Gibraltar.
at Gibraltar in continuation.
patrol between Azores
and Cape Finisterre
to intercept enemy ships
passage from Far
East to French ports.
patrol duty in continuation
including refuelling in Azores.
28th - Escorted aircraft carrier FURIOUS with cruiser AURORA for Malta
screened by destroyers WESTCOTT,
WISHART, ACHATES, VANOC, VERITY,
Polish destroyer ORP BLYSKAWICA,
Escort destroyers COWDRAY and
Nominated for support of allied landings In North
Africa (Operation TORCH).
6th - Joined convoy KMF1 with ARGUS, Escort Carrier AVENGER,
and SHEFFIELD for final stage of passage to Gibraltar..
of Eastern Task Force covering
assault landings at Algiers.
details see Naval Staff History
and above references).
10th - Escorted military convoy for landings at Bougie
and Bone with SCYLLA. Under periodic air attack and provided naval
gunfire support during assault.
12th - Engaged aircraft after unsuccessful torpedo attack.
13th - Escorted troopships during passage to Gibraltar
with Escort aircraft carrier AVENGER.
25th - Embarked British and US military
personnel for passage to Algiers.
27th - Deployed with cruisers AURORA, ARGONAUT, SCYLLA and SIRIUS
warships approaching North African
30th - At Mers-el-Kebir
Deployed with units of Force H for exercises in Western
11th - Nominated for refit in UK.
12th - Took passage to Barrow for refit.
German POW were embarked
for this trip).
15th - Taken in hand for refit.
9 4 3
Post refit trials.
20th - Passage to Liverpool for routine docking
7th - Joined Home Fleet at Scapa
Flow for work-up.
during visit by King George VI to
21st - Provided cover for ships of 1st Minelaying Squadron during
minelay in Northern
28th - Transferred to Plymouth Command for duty in SW Approaches
and took passage for
for search operation in Faeroes
4th - Arrived at Plymouth.
7th - Carried out unsuccessful patrol for interception of blockade
runners in Bay
19th - Escorted Military convoy to Gibraltar.
25th - Return passage to Plymouth
5th - Escorted rms QUEEN MARY taking
Prime Minister to USA with
8th - Detached when relieved by two US Navy destroyers.
12th - Deployed on interception patrol duty in Bay
of Biscay and provided cover for UK –
prior to allied landings in Sicily
of Biscay deployment in
22nd - Joined Joint military convoy WS32 (for Middle
East and Bombay) and KMF20 (for
in SW Approaches to provide cover
during passage in the Bay of Biscay.
: This was required in case
of attack by German destroyers from
25th - Detached from convoy when it divided for separate passages
to Freetown (WS22) and Gibraltar
Bay of Biscay and SW Approaches convoy defence in continuation.
11th - Transferred to Gibraltar for convoy defence duties in Atlantic
and the Western
for Bay of Biscay convoy defence
during passage to Gibraltar
The actor Noel Coward was a
- Joined military convoy WS33 (for Middle East and Bombay) and KMF22
(for Gibraltar and Algiers
during passage to Gibraltar to provide cover during transit of Bay
23rd - Detached from WS33/KMF22 and resumed Bay
convoy separated on arrival at Gibraltar)
31st - Arrived at Gibraltar to join Fleet
Transferred to Bizerta for support of
10th - Joined Support Force East (TF88) with cruisers EURYALUS and
: The two cruisers were
deployed to provide defence for
Escort Carriers UNICORN, HUNTER,
BATTLER, ATTACKER and STRIKER
against air attack during allied
AVALANCHE – See above references.)
11th - Detached and took passage to Palermo.
General Eisenhower for passage to
12th - Sailed from Beach Head to Bizerta.
13th - Diverted on passage to embark soldiers
and military stores at Tripoli.
14th - Joined EURYALUS and SCYLLA at Tripoli
for transfer operation.
15th - Disembarked soldiers and stores off
: Much publicity has been
given since 1945 to the transfer of
units of the 8th Army for
service in Italy
- See TWO HONOURABLE YEARS by Craig
18th - Released from AVALANCHE and resumed patrol and convoy cover
Transferred to Plymouth Command and continued deployment.
11th - Joined escort for inward convoy from Gibraltar
in SW Approaches.
12th - Detached and took passage to Plymouth
20th - Nominated for operation to intercept German mercantile
MUNSTERLAND in Bay
TUNNEL Series). (Note
: This vessel was known to
be on passage in the area.)
22nd - Sailed from Plymouth
with destroyers GRENVILLE, ROCKET,
23rd - In action with German torpedo boats
escorting coastal convoy off Brittany.
Hit on port
side by two torpedoes fired by T23
and sank within 30 minutes. 426
ship's company lost their lives and
107 were rescued. (A
detailed analysis of this ill
planned and poorly executed TUNNEL
HOLD THE NARROW SEA by Peter Smith
and a privately published novel
YEARS by Craig Leith).
S p e c i
a l N o t e
TWO HONOURABLE YEARS, although a work of fiction,
was written by an original member of
the ships’ company
who joined this ship at Birkenhead
during build and left her shortly
before her final voyage. This book combines
a thorough and graphic account of the
ship's short but active life with
details of the personal experiences of
six young ratings whose professional
career began when they joined HMS
CHARYBDIS in November 1941.
Nineteen British sailors ware buried with full
military honours in Foulon
Cemetery, Guernsey on Wednesday 17th
November 1943. It was attended by
several Senior Officers of the German
occupation garrison who provided a Ceremonial
Guard of 40 Marines.
The Dean of Guernsey, leaders of civil
authorities and clergymen of various denominations,
supported by least 4,000 islanders
were present to honour these men.
Since 1948 an annual remembrance of the loss of this
ship is held in Guernsey.
This event marks the lasting relationship
between the civil community and those
from far afield who have personal
reasons for ensuring that the tragic loss of life on 23rd
October 1943 is not forgotten. With the passing of each year the number of
survivors and those who lived through the dark days of war
at sea or under German occupation
diminishes. However, the events surrounding the loss of this ship will be
perpetuated as long as the graves of
these British sailors continue to be cared for by the people of Guernsey.