Naval History Homepage and Site Search




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

HMS MANCHESTER -   Town-type Light Cruiser
including Convoy Escort Movements

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Manchester (Navy Photos, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

SOUTHAMPTON-Class cruiser ordered on 11th November 1935 from R & W Hawthorn Leslie & Co. Ltd at Hebburn on Tyne with the second Batch of this type. The ship was laid down on 28th March 1935 and launched on 12th April 1937. Build was completed on 4th August 1938.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s




H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a blue  field,  a globe proper with five fleur-de-Lys issuant White

and charged with seven bees volant Gold


M o t t o

'Sapere aude: ‘Dare to be wise'



S u m m a r y   o f   P r e – W a r   S e r v i c e


1 9 3 8


July                         Contractors Trials


August                  Commissioned for trials.

                4th          Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials

                                On completion of trials took passage took passage to Portsmouth


September             Commissioned for service in 4th Cruise Squadron on East Indies Station

                                Worked-up for service in Home waters


October                  Passage to join Squadron.


November              Deployed with Squadron in Indian Ocean and took part in exercises and visits Programme.

to December


1 9 3 9



January                  Squadron deployment with 4th on East Indies Station in continuation

to August



D e t a i l 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             Took up War Station and deployed in Indian Ocean for interception of blockade runners and

                                commerce raiders.

                                Carried out Patrol and Trade Protection duty in Indian Ocean between Colombo, Bombay and



October                  Nominated for return to Home waters for service in 18th Cruiser Squadron, Home Fleet.

                14th        Took passage to UK via Mediterranean.



                25th        Arrived at Portsmouth.

                                Taken in hand for repair.



                21st         On completion of repair work carried out sea trials.

                                Took passage to Scapa Flow

                24th        Joined 18th Cruiser Squadron.


1 9 4 0


January                  Deployed for interception of mercantiles to enforce Blockade and commerce raiders on passage

                                to Atlantic in NW Approaches and North Sea for attacks on shipping.


February                Deployed on Northern Patrol.

                21st         During search for blockade runners in Atlantic intercepted GERMAN freighter WAHEHE with

                                HM Destroyer KIMBERLEY (Operation WR).

                                Enemy ship boarded and taken as Prize

                                (For details of this type of operation see ARMED MERCHANT CRUISERS by K. Poolman)


March                    Deployment n North Atlantic and North Sea for trade defence and interception in continuation

                                (Note: Flagship of Squadron.)


April                       Deployed as escort for Convoy ON25 on passage to Norway

                8th          Detached from escort of Convoy ON25 to Norway after German troops landed in Norway.

                                Joined Home Fleet ships on passage to cover landings of allied troops in Norway with HM

                                Cruiser SOUTHAMPTON, HM Destroyers JANUS, JAVELIN, GRENADE and ECLIPSE.

                9th          Under air attack on Home Fleet in North Sea.

                                (Note: This the first encounter by the Home Fleet at sea by enemy aircraft and revealed many

                                inadequacies. HM Destroyer GURKHA (i) was lost. For details see Naval Staff History

                                (HMSO 2001)

                                Detached with HM Cruisers GLASGOW, SHEFFIELD and SOUTHAMPTON screened by

                                seven destroyers for an attack German warships reported at Bergen.

                                Recalled on passage to rejoin Fleet.

                                Carried out search for German transports in Inner Leads without success and returned to Scapa

                                Flow to refuel and re-ammunition.

                12th        Escorted military convoy NP1 taking troops for landings at Narvik with HM Cruisers

                                BIRMINGHAM and CAIRO screened by destroyers (Operation RUPERT/R4).

                14th        Escorted troopships EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA and CHOBRY on passage to Namsos with

                                HMS BIRMINGHAM and HMS CAIRO screened by HM Destroyers VANOC, WHIRLWIND

                                and HIGHLANDER.

                                Destination changed to Lillesjona because of air threat and poor harbour facilities at Namsos

                                (Operation MAURICE).

                                (Note: See above reference.)

                15th        Troops disembarked into destroyers for larding ashore.

                19th        Return passage too Rosyth.

                21st         Embarked troops of 15 Infantry Brigade at Rosyth.

                22nd       Took passage to Andalsnes, Norway with HM Cruisers BIRMINGHAM and YORK escorted

                                by HM Destroyers ACHERON, ARROW and GRIFFIN.

                25th        Landed troops at Andalsnes to reinforce SICKLE FORCE.

                26th        Deployed for patrol to cover destroyer operation off Trondheim.

                28th        Passage to Scapa Flow to replenish prior to further support duties off Norway.



                1st           Assisted in Andalsnes evacuation with HM Cruisers BIRMINGHAM and CALCUTTA.

                                (Note: Troops ferried from shore by HM Destroyers DIANA, DELIGHT, INGLEFIELD,

                                SOMALI and MASHONA.

                10th        Diverted during passage to Scapa Flow with HM Cruiser SHEFFIELD to provide cover for

                                tow of HM Destroyer KELLY to Tyne estuary after being disabled in an engagement with E

                                Boats in North Sea.

                26th        Transferred to Nore Command at Hunter with HMS SHEFFIELD and HMS BIRMINGHAM

                                for support of evacuation operations and anti-invasion operations.

                                (Note: Details of the disastrous Norwegian sea operations are available in above reference.

                                ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by C. Barnett, NARVIK by D. MacIntyre

                                and THE DOOMED EXPEDITION by Jack Adams).


June                        Redeployed at Rosyth for anti-invasion duty.


July                         Under refit at Portsmouth Dockyard


August                  On completion based at Rosyth in continuation.

                31st         Transferred to Humber for anti-invasion duties with 18th Cruiser Squadron.


September             Deployed for anti-invasion patrol duty and convoy escort in North Sea.



                4th          Returned to Scapa Flow with ships of 18th Cruiser Squadron.

                9th          Bombarded Cherbourg with HM Battleship REVENGE and destroyers of 5th Destroyer Flotilla.


November              Nominated for service in Mediterranean to reinforce the Fleet at Alexandria after Italy entered


                15th        Took passage to join Mediterranean Fleet and carried troops to Malta.

                                HM Destroyers JAGUAR and KELVIN provided escort for passage to Gibraltar

                23rd        Escorted Malta convoy of three merchant ships to Gibraltar with HMS SOUTHAMPTON

                                as Force F (Operation COLLAR).

                25th        Met HMS RENOWN, HMS ARK ROYAL, HMS SHEFFIELD and destroyers of Force H

                                off Gibraltar to cover passage to Malta and for the return of HMS RAMILLIES and HM

                                Cruiser BERWICK from Alexandria to Gibraltar.

                27th        Took part in engagement at long range with two Italian battleships and six cruisers with escorts,

                                which all withdrew (Battle of Spartivento).

                                (Note: Vice Admiral Sir James Somerville's decision not to pursue the enemy ships but to

                                safeguard the convoy was the subject of a Board of Enquiry which found in his favour.

                                For details see Naval Staff History HMSO – 2002).

                28th        Disembarked troops in Malta and went to Alexandria with Mediterranean Fleet.



                2nd         Passage to Gibraltar

                8th          Passage from Gibraltar escorted by HM Destroyers KASHMIR, KELVIN, JERSEY and


                11th        Arrived at Plymouth and took passage to Scapa Flow.

                13th        Rejoined Horns Fleet at Scapa Flow.


1 9 4 1


January                  Refit in Tyne shipyard.

to                            (Note: Air warning radar Type 279 fitted.

March                    For details of the development and use of radar in RN see RADAR AT SEA by

                                D Howse.)



                18th        On completion of Post Refit trials took passage to rejoin Home Fleet.


May                        Deployed on Northern Patrol with HM Cruisers BIRMINGHAM and ARETHUSA.

                6th          Covered ships of 1st Minelaying Squadron during minelay in Northern Barrage.

                                (Operation SN9A).

                7th          During Northern Patrol duty diverted to intercept German weather ship MUNCHEN with

                                HM Cruisers EDINBURGH and BIRMINGHAM screened by four Fleet destroyers.

                                German ship scuttled but ENIGMA machine thrown overboard by German captain.

                                ENIGMA Rotor elements and associated documentation were recovered by a party from

                                HMS SOMALI before ship sank and taken to UK by HMS NESTOR.

                                (Note: This operations was specifically intended to recover an ENIGMA machine

                                For details see BRITISH INTELLIGENCE IN WW2 (Ed. Hinsley) and

                                BREAKING THE ENIGMA by D Kahn)

                22nd       Established patrol line between Iceland and Faeroes with HM Cruisers ARETHUSA and

                                BIRMINGHAM to intercept any break-out of German battleship BISMARCK.

                24th        Patrolled NE of Iceland after loss of HMS HOOD in case BISMARCK should try to

                                go back to Germany via Denmark Strait.



                3rd          Returned to Scapa Flow and resumed Northern Patrol.



                2nd         Detached during patrol to reinforce escort for Malta relief convoy.

                11th        Passage to Gibraltar with HM Battleship NELSON, HM Cruisers EDINBURG and

                                ARETHUSA, screened by Home Fleet destroyers.

                21st         Joined Force X with HM Cruisers EDINBURGH, ARETHUSA and MANXMAN for

                                escort of convoy to Malta covered by HM Battlecruiser RENOWN, HM Battleship

                                NELSON, HM Aircraft Carrier ARK ROYAL and HM Cruiser HERMIONE with destroyer

                                screen from Force H. (Operation SUBSTANCE).

                                (Note: This also covered of supply ship HMS BRECONSHIRE

                                See Naval Staff History, ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY, THE BATTLE

                                FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by D MacIntyre and MALTA CONVOYS by

                                R Woodman.)

                23rd        Under sustained air attacks and hit on starboard side aft in boiler room by torpedo.

                                Extent of damage necessitated return on one shaft to Gibraltar with escort by HM Destroyers

                                AVON VALE, VIDETTE, VIMY and WISHART

                26th        Under temporary repair at Gibraltar by HM Dockyard


August                  Permanent repair arranged in USA.



                17th        Sailed to USA from Gibraltar with HM Destroyer FIREDRAKE

                                Escorted by HM Destroyer HEYTHROP from Gibraltar to 25 degrees west.

                23rd        Commenced refit in Philadelphia Navy Yard. Under refit


October                  Under refit and repair




 1 9 4 2


January                  Under refit

to                            (Note: Some work was carried out to prepare for installation of RN equipment such as radar

February                Carried out harbour trials



                3rd          On completion of Post Refit sea trials took passage to Bermuda.

                                Carried out further trials and Shakedown

                                Took passage to Portsmouth


April                       At Portsmouth to completed refit work and special modifications not possible in US


                                (Note: Installation of Fire control Radars Types 284 and Type 285 for main and secondary

                                armament and of new RN design 10cm Type 273 surface warning radar.)



                2nd         Rejoined Home Fleet at Scapa Flow for Northern Patrol and convoy defence.



                1st           Detached to cover minelay by ships of 1st Minelaying Squadron in Northern Barrage

                                (Operation SN72).

                                On completion resumed Northern Patrol duties.

                25th        Detached with HM Destroyer ECLIPSE to take supplies and personnel to relieve garrison

                                at Spitzbergen (Operation GEARBOX).



                3rd          Passage to join HM Battleship HMS DUKE OF YORK and US battleship USS

                                WASHINGTON, HM Aircraft Carrier VICTORIOUS, HM Cruisers CUMBERLAND

                                and NIGERIA for provision of Distant Cover for Russian Convoy PQ17.

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

                                CONVOY ! by P Kemp, ARCTIC CONVOYS by R Woodman and THE RUSSIAN

                                CONVOYS by B Schoefield.).

                                (Note: The disastrous dispersal of this convoy is well documented in the above references.)

                4th          After dispersal of PQ17 returned to Scapa Flow with Home Fleet ships.


August                  Nominated for support of passage to Malta of relief convoy.

                3rd          Detached with HM Cruisers NIGERIA and KENYA to escort of Malta supply convoy with

                                other Home Fleet ships including HM Ships NELSON, RODNEY, VICTORIOUS and

                                FURIOUS screened by Fleet destroyers.

                10th        Joined Force X with HM Ships NIGERIA, KENYA and CAIRO screened by Home Fleet

                                destroyers for escort of convoy to Grand Harbour

.                               Transit was subjected to air and submarine attacks (Operation PEDESTAL).

                                (For details see BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by D. Macintyre, PEDESTAL

                                by P. Smith, MALTA CONVOYS by R Woodman. and Naval Staff History.)

                12th        During series of E-Boat attacks near Pantellaria hit by two torpedoes fired by Italian

                                Torpedo Boats MAS16 and MAS22

.                               These struck amidships on starboard side with major flooding in machinery compartments

                                Only the port outer shaft could be used and ship was completely disabled with a 12 degree


                13th        Hope of Damage Control work to sufficiently control flooding and enable ship to return

                                to Gibraltar abandoned and scuttling charges placed.

                                312 of ship's company rescued by H M Destroyers PATHFINDER and ESKIMO).

                                Explosive charges proved ineffective and as the ship remained afloat its hulk was sunk by

                                torpedo fired from HMS PATHFINDER.

                                Some of the other survivors crew managed to get ashore in Tunisia and were interned by

                                the Vichy French authorities in conditions which can only described as horrendous and

                                without compassion. They were held in appalling circumstances until allied force occupied

                                Tunisia after landings in North Africa (Operation TORCH). (Casualty List - note on casualties)


P o s t    W a r   N o t e s


In 1982 this name was carried forward when given to Type 42 (Batch 3) was launched at Barrow in Furness. The new Destroyer has maintained the close relationship with the civil community of the city of Manchester which was firmly established during WW2.






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








ON 025/1





NP 001








(Note on Convoys)



back to Contents List
or Naval-History.Net

revised 5/6/11
further editing and formatting is required


if any ads offend, please contact Naval-History.Net