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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2001

HMS MAORI (F 24) -  Tribal-class Destroyer  
including Convoy Escort Movements

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Maori prewar (George Smith, click to enlarge)

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TRIBAL-Class Destroyer ordered from Fairfield Shipyard at Govan, Glasgow on 10th March 1936 under the 1935 Build Programme and laid down on 6th July 1936. The ship was launched on 2nd September 1937 as the 2nd RN ship introduced in 1909 for an early type of destroyer which sank in May 1915 after being mined off Zeebrugge Build was completed on 30th November 1938. Tender cost was £340,622 which excluded items supplied by the Admiralty, such as weapons and communications outfits. The ship commissioned for service in the 1st TRIBAL Destroyer Flotilla in the Mediterranean Fleet.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s

BELGIAN COAST 1914-15 - NORWAY 1940 - BISMARCK Action - CAPE BON 1941 - ATLANTIC 1941 - MALTA CONVOYS 1941-42

H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge:  On a Field Per fess wavy White and Blue, a representation

of a “Tiki” Gold.


M o t t o

Aki Aki, Kia Kaha: “Push on, be Brave”



D e t a i l s   o f   S e r v i c e



1 9 3 8




Contractors trials and commissioning for service in 1st TRIBAL Destroyer Flotilla.


30th - Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials.




On completion of trials and storing worked-up in Home Waters for operational service. Pennant Number for visual signalling purposes changed to F24.



1 9 3 9




Passage to Malta to join Flotilla in Mediterranean Fleet after completing work-up in Home waters




Joined Flotilla (Note: Some ships were deployed for joint exercises at Gibraltar with Home Fleet and ship may have taken part. To be confirmed.)




Deployed at Malta with Flotilla.




Transferred with Flotilla top be re-identified as 4th Destroyer Flotilla Malta deployment in continuation..


May to June


Took part in Fleet Exercise and visits programme with ships of Flotilla.




Transferred with Flotilla to Alexandria Exercise and visits programme in continuation.




Took part in Fleet exercises with ships of Flotilla in eastern Mediterranean. (Note: This exercise was arranged by CinC Mediterranean in anticipation of outbreak of war with Italy.) On completion of exercise visited Istanbul, Turkey with other Fleet units. Passage to Alexandria



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)





3rd - Deployed for contraband control in eastern Mediterranean to prevent carriage of goods for delivery to a German consignee.




Transferred with Flotilla for service in Home waters and took passage to UK On arrival deployed in North Sea with Flotilla for patrol duties to intercept German vessels taking passage to Atlantic or for attacks on shipping.




North Sea deployment in continuation. Took part in Fleet search operation for Submarine TRIAD with destroyer INGLEFIELD.


30th - Located disabled submarine which was taken in tow to Stavanger, Norway.




Towed TRIAD in North Sea during passage to Tyne. (Note: Warships were only allowed to remain in neutral port for limited period.) Remained with submarine for escort with INGLEFIELD after tow transferred to tug.



1 9 4 0




North Sea deployment with Flotilla in continuation. Withdrawn from operational service after high incidence of defects in propulsion machinery and leaks in hull structure affecting boiler feed water. Repair arranged in builders yard and took passage to Clyde.




2nd - Taken in hand for repair at Govan. (Note: Turbine blade defects were a common feature in ships of this Class due to high steam pressures in propulsion system and leaks due to stresses during high speed steaming in inclement weather were also found in sister ships.)




Under repair




Post refit trials


8th - Passage from Clyde to Scapa Flow to rejoin Flotilla.


10th - Deployed with Home Fleet for support of military operations in North Sea after German invasion of Norway.


19th - Supplemented escort of four French Troopships by French destroyers during passage to Namsos.


23rd - Escorted ss BLACKHEATH into Namsos




Deployed for support of evacuation of allied troops from Namsos.


2nd - Under air attack at Namsos during evacuation and damaged by two near misses which damaged upper deck fittings and casualties. Twenty of ship’s company were wounded, five of whom later died of their injuries. On release from evacuation took passage to UK.


6th - Repair arranged at Mersey commercial shipyard.


7th - Taken in hand for repair by Grayson Rollo at Bootle. For details of the disastrous campaign in Norway see NAVAL OPERATIONS OF THE CAMPAIGN IN NORWAY (HMSO), NARVIK by D Macintyre, THE DOOMED EXPEDITION BY J Adams and CARRIER GLORIOUS by J Winton.


20th - On completion of repairs took passage to Scapa Flow to resume Home Fleet duties with Flotilla. Pennant Number for visual signalling purposes changed to G24




Deployed with Flotilla for Home Fleet screening and patrol.


5th - Part of screen for battlecruisers RENOWN and REPULSE, cruisers SUSSEX and NEWCASTLE with destroyers ZULU, KELVIN, FORESTER, and FOXHOUND during search in NW Approaches for two commerce raiders reported on passage for attacks on shipping or for possible landings in Iceland.


8th - Returned to Scapa Flow with search force after unsuccessful operation.


20th - Deployed with MASHONA and TARTAR to take possession of two destroyers and two torpedo boats which were in Faeroes during their passage from Italy to Sweden on completion of build for the Swedish Navy. (Note: These ships, the destroyers PILE , PSILANDER , torpedo boats ROMULUS and REMUS were later taken to Scapa Flow and following protest by the Swedish government were returned to the Swedish Navy.)




Home Fleet Flotilla deployment in continuation.




11th - Deployed as escort for Auxiliary Minelayers SOUTHERN PRINCE, PORT NAPIER, PORT QUEBEC and MENESTHEUS with destroyers COSSACK, SIKH and DUNCAN during minelay to extend the East Coast Mine Barrier from its northern end to cross the Moray Firth. (Operation SN 13. For details see Naval Staff History (Mining).




Home Fleet deployment with Flotilla in continuation.




Deployed with screen for REPULSE during search for commerce raider reported on passage in NW Approaches in vicinity of Faeroes.


13th - Deployed with destroyers ASHANTI, COSSACK, SIKH to attack coastal shipping off Egersund. Norway. See ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY.


16th - Deployed with destroyers ASHANTI and FAME off Tyne estuary to carry out in high speed operations intended to detonate mines prior to passage of battleship KING GEORGE V from Newcastle on Tyne shipyard to Rosyth for the completion of fitting out for service after build.  Avoided major disaster when following the other two ships which ran aground and sustained major damage. Although ship herself ran aground and damaged the underwater submarine detection (ASDIC) dome, she was re-floated and no equipment had to be removed as was necessary in both other ships. (Note: Replacement of dome was required and during period under repair the opportunity was taken to carry out refit work.)




Home Fleet duties in continuation. Repair arranged at Hawthorne Leslie shipyard at Newcastle..




Passage to Tyne


2nd - Taken in hand for refit and replacement of dome. (Note: X twin 4.7in mounting was replaced by twin 4in AA mounting. Similar change was made in other ships of the Class to overcome the lack of suitable defence against air attacks as established during the operations in Norway. See BRITISH DESTROYERS and ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY.)



1 9 4 1




25th - On completion of post refit and gunnery trials resumed Home Fleet Flotilla duties.


February to April.



Home Fleet deployment with Flotilla in continuation.




Transferred with Flotilla to Western Approaches Command. Nominated for escort of military convoy in NW Approaches because of perceived threat of attack by German battleship 0BISMARCK, believed to be preparing for sortie into Atlantic for attacks on convoys.


22nd - Joined Convoy WS8B in Clyde which was taking passage to Indian Ocean with troop reinforcements. (Note: Escort included destroyers ERIDGE, COSSACK, OTTAWA (RCN), SIKH, ZULU, RESTIGOUCHE (RCN) and Polish ORP PIORUN with cruiser  deployed to provide AA defence and cruiser SCYLLA as Ocean Escort during passage to Freetown.)


25th - Detached with destroyers COSSACK, SIKH, ZULU and ORP PIORUN of Flotilla to join Home Fleet ships in search for German battleship BISMARCK which had sunk battlecruiser HOOD and evaded shadowing cruisers.


26th - Ordered to join battleship KING GEORGE V with SIKH and ZULU, but after BISMARCK had been sighted by CATALINA aircraft. attempted to intercept German ship.


27th - Delayed by weather conditions and sighted cruiser SHEFFIELD. Took part in torpedo attacks on BISMARCK with COSSACK and ZULU without success. (See BATTLESHIP BISMARCK by Mullenheim Rechhberg, The Naval Staff History and PURSUIT by L Kennedy for details of the action.) Rescued 25 survivors from BISMARCK. (Note: Total number rescued by RN ships was 110 out of a complement of over 2,200.)


28th - Return passage to Clyde. (Note: Many ships came under air attack after sinking of BISMARCK.)




Deployed for convoy defence in NW Approaches.


3rd - Joined military convoy WS9A in Clyde with destroyers COSSACK, OTTAWA (RCN), RAMSEY, RESTIGOUCHE (RCN), RICHMOND, SIKH, VANQUISHER, WINCHELSEA and ZULU for Local Escort during passage in NW Approaches.


7th - Detached from WS9A and returned to Clyde with Local Escort.


29th - Joined military convoy WS9B with destroyers CASTLETON, ST FRANCIS (RCN), VANQUISHER, WINCHELSEA, ZULU, WELLS, READING, Polish destroyers PIORUN and GARLAND for Local Escort during passage in NW Approaches.




2nd - Detached from WS9B with Local Escort and returned to Clyde. (Note: WELLS had detached on 1st July and READING remained  with convoy until 3rd July.)


3rd - Joined Convoy WS9A as Local Escort during passage in NW Approaches with cruiser CAIRO, destroyers COSSACK, OTTAWA (RCN), RESTIGOUCHE (RCN), RAMSEY, RICHMOND, SIKH, VANQUISHER, ZULU and WINCHELSEA. (Note: cruiser BIRMINGHAM was deployed as Ocean Escort for passage to Freetown.


7th - Detached with Local Escort and returned to Clyde.


12th - Deployed with battleship NELSON, cruisers MANCHESTER and ARETHUSA, destroyers COSSACK, LIGHTNING, NESTOR (RAN)  and SIKH for escort of Convoy WS9C and took passage from Scapa Flow to join convoy during passage in NW Approaches. (Operation SUBSTANCE – Malta relief convoy. For details see MALTA CONVOYS by R Woodman, The Naval Staff History ,ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY and THE BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by D Macintyre for details.)


21st - Remained with ships of convoy on entry to Mediterranean. (Note: Convoy to Malta re-identified as GM1.) Cover during passage to western entry to the Sicilian Narrows was provided by battleship NELSON and ships of Force H based at Gibraltar. Deployed as part of destroyer screen for cruisers EDINBURGH, MANCHESTER, ARETHUSA and MANXMAN with destroyers  COSSACK, SIKH, NESTOR (RAN), FEARLESS, FOXHOUND, FIREDRAKE ERIDGE, AVON VALE and FARNDALE. as Force X for escort of convoy for onward passage through Sicilian Narrows to Malta..


22nd - Refuelled from RFA BROWN RANGER. (Note: destroyer ENCOUNTER that had escorted the tanker from Gibraltar joined screen.) Convoy under attack by Italian submarine DIASPRO which failed when convoy was alerted. See references.


23rd - Under air attacks during which MANCHESTER was hit by a torpedo and had to return to Gibraltar. FEARLESS, also hit and disabled, had to be sunk by another of the Force H destroyers, FORESTER. In last air attack FIREDRAKE disabled and had to be withdrawn under tow of ERIDGE. See references. Deployed with Force X after covering ships of Force H detached.


24th - Under night attack by Italian motor torpedo boats. Detached on arrival of WS9C in Malta and took passage with ships of Force X to rejoin covering force west of Pantellaria.. For details of passage of SUBSTANCE convoy see the above references.


25th - Met Force H ships off Bone and took passage to Gibraltar.


28th - Retained at Gibraltar for planned operation and joined Force H.


30th - Sailed from Gibraltar with COSSACK as escort for cruisers ARETHUSA, HERMIONE and MANXMAN taking personnel previously embarked in ss LEINSTER to Malta (Operation STYLE). (Note Troopship LEINSTER had run aground off Gibraltar before rejoining convoy after embarking troops in Gibraltar.) (COSSACK and MAORI may have sailed from Gibraltar on this date to create a diversion for STYLE, instead of as escort)




1st - Detached from escort with COSSACK and carried out bombardment of Alghero, Sardinia. (Note: This was followed by air attacks from ARK ROYAL which had been part of Force H cover for STYLE. See references.)


4th - Returned to Gibraltar with destroyers COSSACK, NESTOR (RAN) and  AVON VALE in Group III as screen for RENOWN Returned to UK for refit after brief detached service at Gibraltar


22nd - Taken in hand for refit by commercial shipyard in Royal Docks, London. (Note: During this refit extensive changes were made including fit of Type 285 Gunnery Fire-control radar for main armament and removal of mainmast to improve arcs of fire of close range AA armament. Similar changes were made in other ships of the Class. See references.)




Under refit




Post refit harbour trials.


31st - Carried out post refit sea trials before taking passage to rejoin Flotilla at  Scapa Flow




Resumed Home Fleet duties with Flotilla after work-up Nominated for service in Mediterranean.




Took passage to Gibraltar. Nominated for service in 14th Destroyer Flotilla based at Alexandria and took passage from Gibraltar with destroyers SIKH, LEGION and Dutch destroyer ISAAC SWEERS to join Mediterranean Fleet.


13th - Following receipt of information about passage of Italian cruisers to North Africa carried out interception of ALBERICO DA BARBIANO and ALBERTO DI GUISSANO off Cape Bon.


14th - Engaged enemy ships which were sunk in a brilliantly executed night torpedo attack. Destroyer CIGNO which was in company escaped. For details see MALTA CONVOYS.


15th - Diverted after action to Malta for duty with Force K.


16th - Deployed with destroyers LANCE, LIVELY, LEGION, SIKH and Dutch destroyer ISAAC SWEERS as screen for cruisers AURORA and PENELOPE of Force K as escort for supply ship BRECONSHIRE during final stage of passage into Malta from Alexandria (Operation MF1)


17th - Under sustained air attacks. Following report passage of an Italian battle group comprising three battleships, two cruisers and screen of ten destroyers by British submarines of the 10th Submarine Flotilla, when enemy ships were sighted detached from escort of BRECONSHIRE and took part in brief engagement with the enemy ships. (Note: 1st Battle of Sirte. For details see MALTA CONVOYS by R Woodman, THE BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by D Macintrye, ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by C Barnett, THE NAVAL WAR IN THE MEDITERRANEAN by J Green and A Massignani and The Naval Staff History).


18th - Passage to Alexandria with destroyers SIKH, LEGION and Dutch destroyer ISAAC SWEERS


19th - On arrival joined 14th Destroyer Flotilla for service with Mediterranean Fleet.              



1 9 4 2




16th - Deployed as escort for Convoy MW8B during passage from Alexandria to Malta with destroyers GURKHA, LEGION and Dutch destroyer ISAAC SWEERS (Operation MF3)


17th - Under attack by U133 north of Bardia during which destroyer GURKHA was sunk.


18th - When escort of joint convoy MW8A & B was transferred to ships of Force K from Malta remained with Force K as part of escort during passage into Malta.


19th - Convoy arrived in Malta and ship retained for service with Force K. For details of passage of MW8 see above references.


25th - Deployed with Force K for escort for Convoy ME 9 during eastward passage to meet Convoy MW9 from Alexandria as escort for remainder of passage. (Operation MF4) (Note: Convoy comprised Store Ship GLENGYLE and mercantile ss ROWALLAN CASTLE and other ships in escort were cruiser PENELOPE, destroyers LIVELY, LEGION and ZULU.)


26th - Convoy escort transferred Force B from Alexandria and joined west bound Convoy MW9 as escort for passage into Malta by Force K ships. (Note: MW9 comprised only Store Ship BRECONSHIRE)


27th - Arrived in Malta with Convoy MW9. See MALTA CONVOYS.




Force K deployment at Malta in Continuation.


12th - Whilst moored in Grand Harbour, Malta at extended notice, hit by bomb during night air raid. Serious damage caused fire which resulted in explosion in Torpedo Head magazine. Ship sank at mooring. (Note: Loss of life was reduced since majority of ship’s company were accommodated ashore, destroyer Decoy under refit was also damaged by this explosion.



P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


Later in 1942 the wreck was raised and moved to Sliema Creek where it was scuttled. During May 1945 the hulk was again raised and taken to a position off Malta where it was sunk.







by Don Kindell


This convoy list has not been cross-checked with the text above






Date convoy sailed

Joined convoy as escort

Convoy No.

Left convoy

Date convoy arrived


















FS 0025





FS 0028





HN 004





ON 005/1





HN 005





ON 006/1





HN 007





OB 297





HX 121





OB 312





WS 008B





HG 066








(Note on Convoys)




from Mr G Ransome, Manchester

In researching my father's career, which included service on HMS Maori from 5 December 1938 to 12 July 1940, I am grateful  for the following information provided by Mr Ransome in response to a request published in "Navy News" in January 1994 (Gordon Smith):







2.1. 39


2.1. 39

6.1. 39



7.1. 39
















Le Lavandou


















Mersa Matruh

1. 6.39





Poros Bay












Latgi (Latki?)





by Mr Alfred G Woonton O.B.E., Vice President, The Royal Naval Association

8 January 1994


(this was also in response to my "Navy News" request)

I stood by her building at Fairfields on the Clyde from August 1938, commissioned her as her Yeoman of Signals on 5th December and remained with her until she was sunk by a lone bomber, returning to Italy from North Africa, in Malta harbour at 2 a m on 12th February 1942. One officer was killed, four or five ratings subsequently died and are buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery there.


We sailed south from the Clyde, shortly after commissioning, to Devonport with only a steaming party on board. The weather was atrocious and only boiled fish for breakfast (one of the less pleasant memories of my time in her).


The full ship’s company joined and trials commenced almost immediately including a trip to Portsmouth for the calibration of the radar - something new at the time and was, in effect, radio direction finding.


We eventually sailed for the Mediterranean early January '39 to join the rest of the flotilla based in Malta. Between arrival and the outbreak of war we had an enjoyable eight months in spite of the obvious preparations for war. Summer cruises to the South of France, Italy, the Greek Islands and Palestine.


We had three so-called 'claims to fame'. A marvellous mouth-organ band of considerable renown in the Fleet and of which I was a member; a lousy rugby team of which I was not; a fully trained Maori War Dance group, to which I did belong, which frequently performed the Haka such as you may have seen on television before each rugby game in which the recent New Zealand visitors performed.


We were in Alexandria when war broke out, took a convoy through to Gibraltar which took ten days then returned to the U K at high speed. Refuelled at Portland then on to Rosyth to act as convoy escorts and take part in the infamous Northern Patrol. This was a miserable period for the ship's company; whilst there was little or no enemy activity (another version of the cold war) having come from the warm Mediterranean to the very cold northern hemisphere sixty percent of the crew went down with severe flu and other illnesses leaving the ship manned by only the other forty percent. Very trying with the obvious after effects.


During this time - in November actually - Maori assisted one of our submarines in danger in the Skagerrak and she eventually reached the River Tyne safely.


That Christmas was spent at sea on corned beef and biscuits and some weeks later Maori and Cossack searched for, and found, the Altmark. Maori stood off and guarded Cossack whilst she made the famous rescue of prisoners.


Our next excitement was a visit to the builders on the Clyde for some attention to defects which only lasted a matter of days then back to the Norwegian coast escorting the Troopers and Battleships taking the Army in to try to stem the advance of German troops up the Scandinavian peninsula, alas, as it turned out, without success.


During this period Maori was unlucky enough to attract the undivided attention of a squadron of Stukas and, with a fair bit of damage, many wounded and five killed, returned to the U K to land the casualties and be patched up, the latter in Liverpool.


After this, a rather hilarious trip to the Faroes to seize four very old and small Swedish destroyers, broken down and leaking.  This was successful to a degree though, in the end, they had to be handed back.


In July it was back to sweeps and patrols and East Coast convoys as this was about the time Germany was preparing to invade England. Subsequent to this we appeared to lead a charmed though hectic life which did include three days at home for Christmas 1940, Western Approaches convoys, helping to sink the Bismarck though we did rescue twenty six of their survivors. Back to Malta after some brief repairs in London, back to the UK then back to Malta with three other destroyers when we sank two Italian cruisers off Cape Bon en route.


Escort and other duties with the fleet continued until, as mentioned earlier, 12th February 1942. She was a marvellous ship blessed with an equally marvellous ship's company.


Note from Gordon Smith - In the 1980's I met another crew member of Maori who served on the main rangefinder. He described how huge Bismarck looked through the sights.


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