Allied Warships

HMS Circassia (F 91)

Armed Merchant Cruiser

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeArmed Merchant Cruiser
Class[No specific class] 
PennantF 91 
Built byFairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. (Govan, Scotland) 
Laid down 
Launched8 Jun 1937 
Commissioned20 Dec 1939 
End service5 Mar 1942 

On 14 October 1939 the passenger ship Circassia of the Anchor Line (Henderson Bros) Ltd, Glasgow was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to an armed merchant cruiser. Conversion was completed on 20 December 1939.

Displacement: 11136 BRT
Armament: 8x 152mm, 2x 76mm
Speed: 16 knots

January 40 - October 40: Northern Patrol
November 40 - March 41: Northern and Western Patrol
April 41: Bermuda and Halifax Escort Force
May 41 - July 41: America and West Indies Station
August 41 - October 41: North Atlantic Escort Force
November 41 - January 42: America and West Indies Station
February 42 - March 42: Western Patrol

On 5 March 1942 returned and used as troopship by the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT). 1943 converted to a landing ship LSI(L). 1947 returned to owner.


Commands listed for HMS Circassia (F 91)

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1Capt. (retired) Henry Gerard Laurence Oliphant, DSO, RN18 Oct 193912 Nov 1940
2Capt. (retired) Bertram William Lothian Nicholson, DSO, RN12 Nov 1940Jan 1941
3A/Capt. Eric Vernon Lees, RNJan 1941Mar 1942

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Notable events involving Circassia include:

13 Feb 1940
HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN) departed the Clyde to make rendez-vous with HMS Circassia (Capt.(Retd.) H.G.L. Oliphant, DSO, RN) off the Northern Patrol to the south of Iceland / west of the Faroer Islands. (1)

24 Feb 1940
HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN) departed Scapa Flow for the Northern Patrol but they were later diverted to proceed to the south of the Faroer Islands. They were to join HMS Gurkha (Cdr. A.W. Buzzard, RN) already operating in the area.

Later this day HMS Khartoum and HMS Kingston made rendez-vous with the Armed Merchant Cruiser HMS Circassia (Capt.(Retd.) H.G.L. Oliphant, DSO, RN). (1)


  1. ADM 199/362

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

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