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World War 2 at Sea



Researched & compiled by Don Kindell

Links to Main World War 2 Pages:
- Royal Navy Organisation
- Casualties - killed, died, missing
- 1,000 Warship Service Histories
- Convoy Escort Movements
- Battles, Major Warship Losses
- Naval & Military Campaigns
- Navies Daily, 1939-42
- Admiralty War Diaries
HMS Penelope, light cruiser - "HMS Pepperpot" (Ship Pictures, click to enlarge)

on to Royal Navy Ships, August 1939
or return to World War 2, 1939-1945



Main contents by Month, with  Warship Summaries (right)

Admiralty War Diaries (links to separate War Diaries section)

Reading Notes

Background and Dedications

see also

H.M. Ships Damaged or Sunk by Enemy Action, 1939-1945, Official Admiralty Report, 1952 

NAVY LISTS - 1939-40 Monthly, 1940-44 Bimonthly, 1944-458 Quarterly ... both external sites, PDF downloads

Ship Movements, Actions, Losses, August 1939-March 1942

Ship Deployments and Building Programmes Day-by-Day

August  - Royal Navy ships - British construction

September - Royal Navy shipsFrench, German, Polish & US (in Europe) Navies

August - September - October - November - December

June - Royal Navy ships  - French Navy -  German Navy Royal Italian, Greek & Yugoslavian Navies

January - February - March - April - May - June - July - August - September - October - November - December

January - Royal Navy Ships  - British Construction  - German Navy Ships & Construction

July - Royal Navy Ships

January - February - March - April - May - June - July - August - September - October - November - December

January - Royal Navy Ships, Home Waters Part 1  - Home Waters Part 2 - Western Approaches - Overseas and Commonwealth

January - February - March

1942 - 1945 in outline

April-December 1942 - January-December 1943 - January-December 1944 - January-April 1945

these outlines can be expanded in part from the following War Diaries:

(link to home page)

HOME FLEET, Commander-in-Chief


April-December 1942 (3 parts)
January-December 1943 (5 parts)
January-December 1944 (6 parts)
January-July 1945
(including destroyers, 2 parts)
mainly covering 1940 Norwegian Campaign
March-December 1940 (including detailed account of HMS Renown's engagement with German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, 9 April 1940, 2 parts)
mainly covering 1940 Norwegian Campaign
CS1 - March-August 1940
CS2 - March-December 1940
CS10 - September-December 1940
CS15 - July-December 1940
CS18 - March-December 1940 (2 parts)
CS20 (or AA Ships) - May-June 1940
Home Fleet, DESTROYER COMMAND March-September 1940
April-December 1942
January-December 1943 (2 parts)
January-December 1944 
NORTH ATLANTIC COMMAND, GIBRALTAR  April-December 1942 (2 parts)
January-April 1943
MEDITERRANEAN FLEET April-December 1942 (3 parts)
MALTA COMMAND April-December 1942
(including Eastern Mediterranean and Aegean Seas)
September-November 1943
(including Diary of Admiral Layton, Commander-in-Chief, China who commanded the Station from Singapore at this time.)
December 1941-March 1942 (Admiral Layton diaries)
January-March 1942
(formerly East Indies Fleet)
Report of Proceedings 1942 (covers missing months of 1942)
April-June, December (only) 1942 (2 parts)
January-December 1943 (2 parts)
January to April 1944 (May to November 1944 not available)
December 1944
January to October 1945
BRITISH PACIFIC FLEET February-July 1945 (excluding Operation Iceberg)
August-October 1945 (Occupation of China coast)
December 1945- June 1946

Norwegian Campaign - Allied Landing Plans, Operation R.4, April 1940

Bombing attack on HMS Glasgow, 9 April 1940

Bombing attack on HMS Gurkha and sinking, 9 April 1940

Stavanger Bombardment (Operation Duck) and near loss of HMS Suffolk 17 April 1940

Operation Aerial, June 1940 (transcribed by Roy Martin)

HMS Khartoum - Loss due to defective air vessel, 23rd June 1940

Reading Notes


1. Royal Navy (above) includes Dominion and Indian Navy ships


2. Ships lost are in BOLD


3. Whenever possible in the loss of a warship or a merchant ship, the ship responsible for the rescue of survivors of the crew is shown. However, when no rescue ship is shown, this does not infer that there were no survivors, but merely that no information is available.


4. When fully edited, naval events and their locations are listed in the approximate order - Western and mid-Atlantic, Arctic, British Home Waters, NW Europe,  Mediterranean, Central and South Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean.


5. In the case of the positions of attacked and sunken ships, frequently you will find a discrepancy between the reported location radioed in haste by the attacked vessel and the location given by the attacking submarine.  This variation could be many miles.  We have attempted to resolve this issue, as much as possible, by giving geographic location as well as latitude and longitude. 


6. All warships and convoys are British and Dominion unless otherwise identified.


7. Times given in the text are Greenwich Mean Time.


8. Ships are listed in the order given in the original source documents.


9. Royal and Dominion Navy officers lost in action are in order of seniority by rank as listed in the Navy List but with regular Royal Navy first, then RNR, followed by RNVR. In this manner a Commander RNVR was technically junior to a Sub Lieutenant RN


10. German destroyer names and longer Italian ship names are generally given in full when first listed in an operation, but abbreviated afterwards with the last name only e.g. LEBERECHT MAAS will appear as MAAS, etc.


11. Merchant ship tonnages are British Registered Tons per Lloyds Register, abbreviated to grt.


12. British east coast convoys between Southend and Methil and later only the Tyne were FN and FS convoys, respectively. On 20 February 1940, Commander-in-Chief Rosyth ordered that the hundreds be omitted in the numbering of future convoys. To avoid confusion, the convoys are shown by their actual number: ie FS.3 is listed as FS.203.   The actual "centuries" for the period 1940-42 are as follows:



FN sailed 

FS sailed


23 Feb 40 

20 Feb 40


21 Jun 40

21 Jun 40


6 Oct 40 

5 Oct 40


5 Feb 41

31 Jan 41


3 Aug 41

28 May 41


10 Jan 42

21 Sep 41


6 May 42

16 Jan 42


13. Equivalent ranks in British & Dominion, French, German and United States Navies:





United States



Capitaine de Vaisseau (CV)

Kapitan zur See






Capitaine de Fregate


Fregatten Kapitan




Lieutenant Commander (Lt Cdr)

Capitaine de Corvette


Korvetten Kapitan


Lieutenant Commander (LCDR)



Lieutenant de Vaisseau






Sub Lieutenant

(Sub Lt)



Oberleutnat zur See


Lieutenant Junior Grade (LT/JG)


by Don Kindell, Sydney, Ohio, USA



In the past, a reader would have to read dozens of books to get even a small amount of data on the early operations of the Royal Navy. This volume is a compilation of thousands of sources, official and unofficial, published and unpublished. These include, to name just a few:  Navy Lists, Pink Lists, Red Lists, Admiralty Officer and Rating Death Ledgers, War Diaries, including the Admiralty War diary, as well  ships logs and reports of proceedings etc, of the Home Fleet, Rosyth, Destroyers, Submarines, Northern Patrol, South Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Far East.


It is not that every activity, every ship is included. However, a thorough outline of early war activities is presented and will give the reader an idea of just how sweeping and continuous the Royal Navy's activities were. It will also give the serious student a base and hopefully clues for further research.


Some errors will exist. After extensive research, gaps and discrepancies persist despite considerable lengths to resolve them. The years past and destruction or loss of a great many official records and logs make some points impossible to resolve.


The real credit goes to the late Commander W. Edward May, R.N. (retired), Janice Kay, Mary Z. Pain, Allen Cooper, the late Commander Charles M. Stuart, R.N. (retired), CDR Arnold Hague, RNR (retired), and Ken Thomas who gave me innumerable hours at the Public Record Office in Richmond, the late John Burgess and Ken MacPherson for their work on the Canadian Navy and their help and friendship, J. David Brown, Christopher Page, Arnold Hague, Kate Tildersley, Jenny Wraight, and Robert M. Coppock who gave assistance beyond numeration, George Ransome of Old Traffod with his splendid collection of scrapbooks and papers, Pat Best of the Flesh Public Library of Piqua, Ohio, where it all started, and countless others who I hope will not be offended by my not naming them specifically; their assistance invaluable but space prohibits inclusion of them all.


This is the first of two volumes of work (and eventual book), the culmination of a project begun in the 1970s and covering some 4000 pages of text. It started because of my interest in the Royal Navy and its operations in the Second World War. I was always dismayed to find so many sources would mention an operation and a movement describing the forces as “cruisers and destroyers” or “three destroyers.” It was always important to me to find which ships were specifically involved.


In this research work, you will find a very continuous flow of operations, many times giving ships’ day to day activity. My love was always the destroyers and I have tried to include everything of note, and frequently not of note, that involved them. Of course, the main thrust you will find is the Home Fleet and the Mediterranean Fleet, but every theatre is covered to the extent it could be researched.


The Fleet lists for August 1939, September 1939 and 10 June 1940 give Commanding Officers of the respective commands and ships, organizations, and locations of the ships for not only British forces, but German, Italian, and USN.


Lost or damaged ships are given with Officers killed named and the ratings shown as number killed or missing. Flight crews of Fleet Air Arm aircraft killed or missing are also named.


Looking back, I have said that years ago I would have given anything to have a fraction of information. Here it is for you to study and enjoy.




This work is dedicated to those who have done so much and have gone ahead:



Commander Charles M Stuart R N (retired) who passed away 2l January 1983


David Brindle RN (retired), friend who passed away 2 December 1988


Commander William Edward May RN (retired) who passed away 26 April 1989


John Burgess, friend and mentor who passed away 16 September 1997


J David Brown, friend and mentor who passed away 11 August 2001


George Ransome, friend and mentor who passed away 4 August 2004


Arnold Hague, close friend and mentor extraordinary who passed away 14 February 2006

on to Part 1 Royal Navy Ships, August 1939  
or return to World War 2, 1939-1945

revised 7/4/12