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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2003

HMAS NORMAN (G 49) -  N-class Destroyer including Convoy Escort Movements 

HMS Kelly, close sister-ship (Navy Photos/Mike Pocock, click to enlarge)

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N-Class destroyer ordered from J I Thornycroft at Woolston, Southampton with the 1939 Programme on 15th April 1939 with HMS NORSEMAN of the same Class. This ship was laid down on 27th July 1939 and launched on 30th October 1940 as the second RN ship to carry the name which was introduced in 1916 for destroyer which was sold for demolition in 1921. It had also been used for trawlers requisitioned in WW1. In November 1940 it was revealed that she would be manned by the Royal Australian Navy on loan with sisters HMS NAPIER, NEPAL, NIZAM and NESTOR. She was commissioned for service in the Royal Australian Navy on 15th September 1941 and was adopted by the civil community of Hitchin, Hertfordshire after a successful  WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in March 1942. Her completion was delayed by late delivery of fire control equipment and the higher priority given to warship repair work after the evacuation operations from the Norway and the continent in 1940. (Note: HMS NORSEMAN was later renamed HMAS NEPAL.)


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


BURMA 1944-45 - OKINAWA 1945


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field Blue, a Norman helmet proper, garnished Gold.



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)



1 9 4 1




Contractors trials


15th - Commissioned for service as HMAS NORMAN.


29th - Build completion and commenced acceptance trials.




Passage to Scapa Flow for work-up with ships of Home Fleet on completion of trials and Storing.


7th - Work-up suspended and took passage to Seidisfjord, Iceland to embark Trades Union delegation. (Note: HM Destroyer ANTELOPE which was to have taken the delegation to Archangel had been unable to sail due to machinery defects.)


14th - Passage to Archangel with delegation


17th - During passage from Archangel to Scapa Flow ordered to return to Archangel to embark delegation for return to UK on completion of their visit.


21st - Deployed in North Russia for anti-submarine patrols in White Sea.


27th - Embarked delegation and took passage to Scapa Flow.




Resumed work-up at Scapa Flow. Nominated for foreign service in Indian Ocean with 7th Destroyer Flotilla.




8th - On completion of work-up took passage to build yard in Woolston for repair of defects and installation of radar equipment.


12th - Under repair.



1 9 4 2




4th - On completion of dockyard work carried out trials


17th - Joined military convoy WS15 with HM Battleship RESOLUTION and Polish Destroyer ORP GARLAND as Ocean Escort during passage to Freetown. (Note: WS15 comprised 27 ships taking troops to Middle East, India and Malaya.)


25th - Detached from WS15 on arrival at Freetown and made independent passage to Simonstown after refuelling.




2nd - At Simonstown.


14th - Rejoined Ocean Escort for WS15 during passage from Capetown to Durban.


17th - Deployed with HM Cruiser CERES and HM Armed Merchant Cruiser CHESHIRE as Ocean Escort in Indian Ocean passage from Durban (Note: Ships of WS15 intended to go to Singapore were diverted to Batavia after the surrender.)


22nd - Deployed with HM Battleship RAMILLIES as Ocean Escort for ships of Convoy DM3 during passage in Indian Ocean to Batavia. (Note: The nine ships in DM3 had been part of WS15 )


28th - Detached from DM3 and took passage to Addu Atoll to refuel.


29th - Rejoined DM3 escort which included HM Armed Merchant Cruiser CORFU.




2nd - Orders for DM3 destination changed and detached with HMS RAMILLIES to escort five ships during passage to Colombo.


4th - Detached from DM3 ships on arrival at Colombo and joined 7th Flotilla. Took passage to join Eastern Fleet ships at Addu Atoll.  (Note: Eastern Fleet had been formed in December 1941 when East Indies Station was disbanded See WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO).)


On arrival deployed for Fleet duties including screening of major units,


22nd - Escorted to Colombo tanker CAN CIRILO, badly damaged after being hit by torpedo from a Japanese submarine but able to proceed under own power


31st - Assigned to Force B of Eastern Fleet.




1st - Took part in search by Force B for Japanese warships reported on passage towards Ceylon and deployed with HM Destroyers GRIFFIN, FORTUNE, ARROW, VAMPIRE (RAN), DECOY, SCOUT and Dutch ISAAC SWEERS as screen for HM Battleships RESOLUTION, RAMILLIES, ROYAL SOVEREIGN, REVENGE, HM Aircraft Carrier HERMES, HM Cruisers CALEDON, DRAGON and Dutch JACOB VAN HEEMSKERK. (Note: Ships refuelled at Addu Atoll during this search.)


8th - Search abandoned and transferred with Force B to Kilindini. (Note: Force B major warships and some of the destroyers were considered to be unsuitable for offensive operations because of poor speed capability or armament. For details of this operation and other events in the theatre see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by C Barnett, OPERATION PACIFIC by E Gray and above reference.)




Deployed with Flotilla based at Kilindini for Eastern Fleet screening and convoy defence duties.


25th - Transferred to Mediterranean Fleet as reinforcement after losses in Greece and Crete. Took passage to Alexandria with HM Cruiser BIRMINGHAM. HM Destroyers FORTUNE, NIZAM and PAKENHAM.




On arrival deployed with HMS NAPIER, NESTOR and NIZAM for screening and patrol in Eastern Mediterranean, based at Alexandria.


9th - Nominated for escort of Malta relief convoy MW11 and took passage to Haifa to join Convoy MW11A during passage from Haifa to join other mercantiles for westward passage covered by Mediterranean Fleet.


11th - Sailed from Haifa with HM Destroyers NAPIER, NIZAM, INCONSTANT, HOTSPUR, HM Fleet Minesweepers BOSTON and SEAHAM as escort for five ships of MW11A during passage to join MW11B during passage from Port Said. Detached from MW11A and took passage to join Mediterranean Fleet ships after refuelling. Sailed from Alexandria with HM Destroyers HASTY, HERO, INCONSTANT. JAVELIN, JERVIS, KELVIN, NAPIER, NESTOR, NIZAM, PAKENHAM, PALADIN, SIKH and ZULU as screen for HM Cruisers ARETHUSA, BIRMINGHAM, CLEOPATRA, DIDO, EURYALUS, HERMIONE and NEWCASTLE.


14th - Joined ships of merged Convoy MW11 with Fleet units from Alexandria. Under heavy and sustained air attacks during which one mercantile was sunk and another damaged. Threat of an attack by an Italian battle squadron confirmed by aircraft reports.


15th - Convoy ordered to reverse course by orders from shore authority. Under night attacks by E-Boats during which HMS NEWCASTLE and HMS HASTY were hit. Enemy craft were driven off by HM Destroyers AIREDALE and ALDENHAM of convoy Close Escort (Note: HMS HASTY had to be sunk by HMS HOSTILE later and HMS NEWCASTLE. withdrawn from operation and returned to Alexandria.).


Convoy ordered to resume westward passage after optimistic reports of successful attack on Italian warships by BEAUFORT aircraft but ignored by Admiral Vian in command of the Operation. When Italian force retreated westward shore authority again ordered convoy to resume passage to Malta but this was disregarded by Admiral Vian because of low stock of anti-aircraft ammunition which would prejudice defence of convoy if heavy air attacks were renewed. Operation VIGOROUS aborted and ships returned to Alexandria with escort and covering force. (For full details of this disastrous operation and its conflicting instructions from shore, see MALTA CONVOYS by R Woodman, THE BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by D MacIntyre and Naval Staff History.)


16th - Arrived at Alexandria with Fleet units.




Passage to rejoin Eastern Fleet for convoy defence


8th - Resumed Indian Ocean convoy defence with Flotilla based at Kilindini.


Nominated for service with Eastern Fleet ships for planned operation.


21st - Sailed from Kilindini for Colombo with HM Destroyers NIZAM, INCONSTANT and Dutch VAN GALEN as screen for HM Battleship WARSPITE, HM Aircraft Carriers ILLUSTRIOUS FORMIDABLE, HM Cruisers BIRMINGHAM and MAURITIUS during passage to Colombo for operation.


22nd - HMS NAPIER (Cdre D) joined for passage to Colombo.


28th - At Colombo and joined by Dutch cruiser HEEMSKERCK.


30th - Deployed with HM Destroyer NAPIER (Cdre D) and same destroyers as screen for HM Battleship WARSPITE, HM Aircraft Carriers ILLUSTRIOUS and FORMIDABLE, HM Cruisers EFFINGHAM, MAURITIUS and Dutch cruisers HEEMSKERCK as Force A to provide cover for passage of three Dummy Convoys on passage from Vizagapatam, Madras and Trincomalee towards Andaman Islands. (Operation STAB - A diversionary operation to suggest landing operations. See WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO).)




2nd - Returned to Trincomalee with Force A ships before taking passage to Kilindini to prepare for planned landings in French occupied Madagascar. (Note: See above reference for explanation of early return by Force A ships.)


Took part in preparatory exercise TOUCHSTONE.




 9th - Sailed from Kilindini to make rendezvous 60 miles south of Mayotta Island with HM Cruiser BIRMINGHAM, HM Aircraft Carrier ILLUSTRIOUS, Dutch cruiser HEEMSKERCK and ships of assault convoy on passage to Majunga for landing of troops to complete occupation of Madagascar (Operation STREAM). (Note: Ships of Force M providing cover and control of landings also included HM Battleship WARSPITE, HM Aircraft Carrier ILLUSTRIOUS, HM Cruisers GAMBIA, DAUNTLESS and MANXMAN, HM Monitor EREBUS, HM Seaplane Carrier ALBATROSS, HM Destroyers NAPIER, NORMAN, FOXHOUND, HOTSPUR, ARROW, ACTIVE, BLACKMORE, INCONSTANT, FORTUNE, NEPAL, Dutch VAN GALEN and Dutch TJERK HIDDES.) Provided A/S defence during passage to beachhead.


10th - Present at landings to provide anti-submarine defence. (Note: No bombardment was required. For details see WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO) and Naval Staff History.)


12th - On release resumed Flotilla duties for patrol and convoy defence. Transferred to Cape of Good Hope area and took passage from Kilindini (Note: German submarine operations against shipping in this area were planned and U- Boat Group EISBAR was on passage to begin attacks on shipping. This move may have been intended to counter the threat by reinforcing HM Destroyers ACTIVE, ARROW, FOXHOUND and sister NIZAM based at Simonstown.)


Deployed for convoy defence off South Africa.




Cape of Good Hope convoy escort and patrol in continuation.


21st - Rescued survivors from ss EMPIRE NOMAD which had been sunk by U159 on 13th


30th - Joined escort for military convoy WS23 with HM Corvettes THYME and ROCKROSE during passage in South Atlantic from Freetown to Durban. (Note: WS23 was taking troops to Bombay and Middle East.)


31st - HM Cruiser DESPATCH and HM Sloop MILFORD which had escorted WS23 detached. (Note: Greek destroyer KANARIS remained with WS23.)




5th - Detached from WS23 on arrival at Durban,


29th - Joined escort of military convoy WS24 during passage in Indian Ocean. (Note: This convoy unusually had been diverted to Bahia, Brazil instead of calling at Freetown. Ocean Escort from Bahia comprised HM Armed Merchant Cruisers QUEEN OF BERMUDA and ALCANTARA with HM Destroyer ROTHERHAM.)




4th - Arrived at Durban and detached from WS24 with HMS ROCKROSE, HMS NEPAL which had joined escort on passage.


Resumed local escort duties with Flotilla.



1 9 4 3




Indian Ocean deployment in continuation.




Deployed for escort of military convoy during passage in Indian Ocean with troops of 9th Australian Division which was returning to Australia after being withdrawn from service in the Middle East because of Japanese threat to Australia (Operation PAMPHLET - This convoy included rms QUEEN MARY, rms AQUITANIA, French liner ILE DE FRANCE and Dutch liner NIEUW AMSTERDAM. Eastern Fleet major warships included HM Battleships WARSPITE, RESOLUTION, REVENGE, HM Cruiser MAURITIUS screened by HM Australian Destroyers, NEPAL, NIZAM. NORMAN and three other Eastern Fleet destroyers. See WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO).)


Took passage to Simonstown for refit on release from PAMPHLET.




3rd - Arrived at Simonstown.


8th - Taken in hand for refit by HM Dockyard.




Under refit.




On completion of post refit trials resumed convoy defence duties.


18th - Deployed with HM Destroyers QUADRANT and REDOUBT as escort for troopships ALMANZORA, ATHLONE CASTLE, PARDO and SILVERWALNUT during passage from Capetown to Durban. (Note: These ships had been part of military convoy WS29 from UK.)


20th - Detached from troopships on arrival at Durban


25th - Joined military convoy WS29 with HM Destroyers QUADRANT and REDOUBT as escort during initial stage of passage in Indian Ocean from Durban to Aden and Bombay.


26th - HM Cruiser KENYA joined as Ocean Escort.


29th - Detached from WS29 and took passage to Durban with HMS QUADRANT and REDOUBT.




Passage to Atlantic Ocean to meet military convoy WS30 on passage to Durban.


9th - Joined Ocean Escort for WS30 comprising HM Cruiser SUFFOLK, HM Destroyer CATTERICK, HM Armed Merchant Cruiser CARNARVON CASTLE with HMS QUADRANT and HMS REDOUBT as part of Ocean Escort.


15th - HMS NIZAM joined escort.


19th - Detached from WS30 on arrival at Capetown.


25th - Rejoined WS30 with HM Destroyers QUICKMATCH and ROTHERHAM as escort during passage to Durban.


28th - HM Armed Merchant Cruiser CANTON joined WS30.


30th - Detached from WS30 and took passage to Durban with HMS QUICKMATCH and HMS ROTHERHAM.




Deployed for Local convoy escort.




Passage to join military convoy WS32 during passage to Durban from Freetown.


12th - Joined escort for WS32 with HM Destroyers QUIBERON, RAPID and RELENTLESS.


18th - Detached from WS32 with same ships on arrival at Capetown. Passage to Durban.


28th - Rejoined WS32 with HMS QUIBERON and HMS RAPID as escort on departure from Durban as escort during passage in Indian Ocean.




3rd - Detached from WS32 with HMS QUIBERON and RAPID on relief by HM Cruiser EMERALD as Ocean Escort during passage to Bombay. (Note: Four of the five ships were destined for Bombay, rms STRATHMORE detached on 6th and took passage independently to Aden.)


Transferred to Trincomalee with ships of Flotilla for defence of convoys and Fleet screening.


October to November


Flotilla duties in continuation based at Trincomalee (Note: During this period the MONSUN U-Boat Group was active in the Indian Ocean and special precautions taken to increase convoy size and to provide air cover. See WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO).)




Deployed as escort for HM Battleship RAMILLIES during passage to Aden from Trincomalee. (Note: HMS RAMILLIES was returning to UK for service in Home waters after refit.)


Passage from Aden to resume Fleet duties.



1 9 4 4


January to February


Deployed with Flotilla for Eastern Fleet duties based at Trincomalee.




8th - Carried out offensive sweep in Bay of Bengal with ships of Flotilla


12th - Returned to Trincomalee.


21st - Joined HM Destroyers QUALITY, QUEENBOROUGH, QUIBERON, QUILLIAM, NAPIER, NEPAL, PATHFINDER, Dutch destroyers VAN GALEN and TJERK HIDDES as screen for HM Battlecruiser RENOWN, HM Battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH, HM Aircraft Carrier ILLUSTRIOUS, HM Cruisers CEYLON, CUMBERLAND, GAMBIA and LONDON during passage in Indian Ocean to meet US warships being deployed with Eastern Fleet for planned operations. (Operation DIPLOMAT)


24th - Started replenishment from tankers of Eastern Fleet.


26th - Completed replenishment and took passage to rendezvous.


27th - Met US Navy Task Unit 58.5 comprising aircraft carrier USS SARATOGA, destroyers USS CUMMINGS, DUNLAP and FANNING. Took passage to Trincomalee as screen for Fleet units and US Navy ships.




4th - Arrived at Trincomalee with joint force.


Took passage to Australia for refit. Taken in hand for refit at Sydney on arrival




Under refit




Carried out post refit harbour and sea trials.




Passage from Sydney to Fremantle for work-up prior to resuming service in Eastern Fleet.




Passage from Fremantle to rejoin 7th Flotilla at Trincomalee.




Rejoined Eastern Fleet for Flotilla duties.




Nominated for screening duties during planned diversionary operation by Eastern Fleet (Operation MILLET –Diversion during US landings on Leyte Island. For details see WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO) and THE FORGOTTEN FLEET by J Winton.)


15th - Sailed from Trincomalee with Task Force 63 and deployed in Task Group 63.2 with HM Destroyers RAIDER, RELENTLESS (Cdre D) and Dutch destroyer VAN GALEN as screen for HM Cruisers CUMBERLAND, LONDON and SUFFOLK.


16th - Refuelled from HM Battlecruiser RENOWN with other destroyers of Force 63.


17th - Took part in bombardment of shore targets in the Malacca area with Task Group 63.2. Detached from Force 63 with HMS LONDON and Dutch VAN GALEN to carry out night bombardment of Car Nicobar.


18th - Took part in bombardment and on completion returned to Trincomalee (Note: It is not known whether ship rejoined Task Force 63 which came under air attacks on 19th. These were repelled by aircraft from HM Aircraft Carriers INDOMITABLE and HMS VICTORIOUS OF Task Group 63.3. See above references. )


30th - Resumed Flotilla duties based at Trincomalee.




22nd - Retained in redesignated East Indies Fleet with Flotilla when British Pacific Fleet was formed from Eastern Fleet which was significantly reinforced after September 1944.




Nominated for support of military operations in Burma and convoy defence in Bay of Bengal.



1 9 4 5




Military support and convoy defence in continuation with Flotilla.


16th - Joined Task Force 64 for escort and support of landings by British 7th and Indian 71st Brigades in northern part of Ramree Island off Arakan, Burma with HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, HM Escort Aircraft Carrier AMEER, HM Cruiser PHOEBE, and HM Destroyers PATHFINDER and RAIDER (Operation MATADOR).


18th - Sailed from Trincomalee with HMS PATHFINDER as screen for HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH.


19th - Deployed as screen for HMS AMEER during provision of cover of bombardment force off assault area. Took passage to Akyab on release from MATADOR.


24th - Sailed from Akyab with HM Frigates SPEY, TEVIOT and HMS RAIDER to provide naval gunfire support prior to landings of Royal Marines on Cheduba Island, north of Ramree (Operation SANKEY).


26th - Provided support bombardment at Cheduba with HM Destroyers RAIDER, PALADIN and RAPID (Operation CROCODILE).


30th - Landed troops on island of Sagu south of Ramree with HMS RAIDER and four Landing Craft supported by HMS NEPAL and HMS PATHFINDER.




Nominated for service in Pacific and released from duty with 7th Destroyer Flotilla, East Indies Fleet.


Passage to Sydney with HMS NEPAL as escort for HM Escort Aircraft Carriers RULER and FENCER with call at Fremantle.




16th - Arrived at Sydney with same ships. Nominated for service with Fleet train. Prepared for service with BPF. (Note: Pennant Number for visual signalling purposes changed to D16.)




Passage to Manus


18th - Joined Fleet Train off Sakishima Gunto with HMAS NEPAL and NAPIER for escort of tankers and supply ships.


23rd - Returned to Leyte with Fleet Train on completion of first Phase of attacks (Operation ICEBERG ONE)




1st - Sailed from Leyte with Fleet Train for support Task Force 57 ships during second Phase of operations off Sakishima Gunto (Operation ICEBERG TWO - Note: Fleet Train designated Task Force 112 escort comprised HM Sloops CRANE, WHIMBREL and PHEASANT, HM Destroyers NAPIER (RAN), NORMAN (RAN) and NEPAL (RAN), HM Frigate AVON and HM Escort Aircraft Carriers RULER and STRIKER.)


6th - Deployed with Fleet Train during replenishment in Area COOTIE.


7th - Detached as escort for RFA WAVE MONARCH and WAVE KING for passage to Leyte.


Returned to operational area as escort for same ships.


18th - Deployed with Fleet Train during replenishment of Task Force 57 ships.


20th - Detached from Fleet Train to take HM Destroyer QUILLIAM in tow after damage by collision with HM Aircraft Carrier INDOMITABLE during fuelling in dense fog. Resumed Fleet train duties when tow transferred to HM Cruiser BLACK PRINCE.


22nd - Deployed as escort for Tug ENVOY during tow of HMS QUILLIAM to Leyte.


28th - Passage to resumed Fleet Train duties from Leyte




Fleet Train deployment in continuation.


16th - ICEBERG TWO completed and ship returned to Australia.


24th - Fleet Train ships sailed for Japan with call at Manus.




Passage to operational area from Manus as escort for Fleet Train.


31st - Deployed with HM Escort Aircraft Carriers RULER CHASER and SPEAKER, HM Sloops PHEASANT, REDPOLE, WOODCOCK and CRANE, HM Destroyer QUEENBOROUGH (RAN), HM Frigates ODZANI, DERG and HM Australian Minesweeper PIRIE as escort for Logistic Support Group during replenishment off Japan.




6th - Deployed with HM Escort Carriers ARBITER, CHASER and RULER, HM Sloops PHEASANT and CRANE, HM Destroyer NIZAM (RAN), HM Frigate BARLE, HM Minesweepers BALLARAT (RAN) and BURNIE as escort for Logistics Support Group during replenishment off Japan.


10th - Passage to Manus with Fleet Train ships.


After VJ took passage to Australia.



P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMAS NORMAN reverted to RN control in October 1945 and took passage to UK with call at Fremantle in November. The ship arrived at Plymouth on 12th December and Paid-off. Placed in Reserve early the next year she was laid up in the Reserve Fleet at Plymouth until August 1950 when transferred to Chatham. Later that year she returned in tow to Devonport where she remained until January 1953 prior to transfer to lay-up at Penarth. During 1956 consideration was given for possible use as a drill ship in an RNR Division but this was rejected and she was put on the Disposal List. Sold to BISCO for demolition by Cashmore this destroyer arrived in tow at the breaker’s yard in Newport, Monmouth on 1st April 1958.







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








DM 003





MW 011





CF 013





MC 009A





AB 020F





AB 027A





KR 009





XC 018





AB 043





ABF 004





BM 101








(Note on Convoys)



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revised 12/6/11
further editing is required