Allied Warships

HMS Canton (F 97)

Armed Merchant Cruiser

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeArmed Merchant Cruiser
Class[No specific class] 
PennantF 97 
Built byA. Stephen & Sons Ltd. (Glasgow, Scotland) 
Laid down 
Launched14 Apr 1938 
Commissioned4 Nov 1939 
End service10 Apr 1944 

On 19 October 1939 the passenger ship Canton of the P. & O. Steam Navigation Co Ltd, London was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to an armed merchant cruiser. Conversion was completed on 4 November 1939.

Displacement: 15784 BRT
Armament: 9x 152mm, 4x 102mm
Speed: 19 knots
HMS Canton was also equipped with an aircraft hanger and a Kingfisher single engine aircraft and an aircraft recovery crane, she was also distinctive as she had been fitted with a tripod mast behind the bridge. Her slightly raked funnel gave her a "Cruiser" appearance.

December 39 - May 40: Northern Patrol
June 40 - July 40: Western Approaches Command
August 40 - November 41: Freetown Escort Force
December 41 - August 42: South Atlantic Station
September 42 - April 44: Eastern Fleet (Indian Ocean)

On 10 April 1944 returned and used as troopship by the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT). On 28 September 1947 returned to owner.


Commands listed for HMS Canton (F 97)

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1Capt. George Devereux Belben, DSC, RN26 Sep 193910 Feb 1941
2A/Capt. Charles Alfred Godfrey Nichols, RN10 Feb 19412 Mar 1942
3A/Capt. Geoffrey Neame Loriston-Clarke, RN2 Mar 194223 Sep 1942
4A/Cdr. (reitred) Richard John Edward Daintree, RN23 Sep 194215 Aug 1943
5Capt. Joseph Johnstone Eadie Barclay, RNR15 Aug 1943Apr 1944

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Notable events involving Canton include:

24 Feb 1941
HMS Thunderbolt (Lt. C.B. Crouch, DSO, RN) an unidentified ship in position 53°55'N, 26°49'W which opens fire despite repeated challenges by Thunderbolt, forcing her to dive.

The ship was the armed merchant cruiser HMS Canton (A/Capt. C.A.G. Nichols, RN) which mistook her for a U-boat. (1)


  1. ADM 199/1115

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.

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