Allied Warships

HMS Kanimbla (F 23)

Armed Merchant Cruiser

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeArmed Merchant Cruiser
Class[No specific class] 
PennantF 23 
Built byHarland & Wolff Ltd. (Belfast, Northern Ireland) 
Ordered 
Laid downJul 1934 
Launched12 Dec 1935 
Commissioned20 Nov 1939 
End service 
History

On 27 August 1939 the passenger ship Kanimbla of the McIlwraith, McEacharn Ltd, Victoria was requisitioned by the Royal Navy and converted to an armed merchant cruiser. She served in the Royal Navy although she was manned by an Australian crew. Conversion was completed on 20 November 1939.

Displacement: 10985 BRT
Armament: 7x 152mm, 2x 76mm, 2x Lewis MG
Speed: 19 knots

Career:
November 39 - August 40: China Station
September 40 - November 41: East Indies Station
December 41 - February 43: Pacific Ocean

From February to June 1943 converted to a landing ship LSI(L), commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy as HMAS Kanimbla on 2 June 1943. Took part in the landing operations in Morotai, Lingayen Gulf, Brunei and Balikpapan.

As LSI(L) she was armed with 1 4" gun, 2 12pdr AA (2x1), 10 20mm AA (10x1)
She carried 10 LCA's and 1381 troops.

On 25 March 1949 HMAS Kanimbla was decommissioned and on 13 December 1950 returned to owner.

 

Commands listed for HMS Kanimbla (F 23)

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CommanderFromTo
1Cdr. Frank Edmund Getting, RAN11 Oct 193915 Mar 1941
2A/Capt. William Leslie Graham Adams, RN25 Mar 19412 Feb 1943
3A/Cdr. Frederick Ross James, RAN2 Feb 194329 Jul 1943
4A/Cdr. Norman Hamon Shaw, RAN30 Jul 194317 Jun 1944
5Cdr. Andrew Veitch Bunyan, RANR(S)18 Jun 19445 Sep 1945
6A/Cdr. Stanley Hamill Crawford, RD, RANR(S)6 Sep 194522 Jan 1948

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Notable events involving Kanimbla include:


19 Jan 1940
HMS Regulus (Cdr. J.M. Money, RN) conducted exercises off Hong Kong together with HMS Kanimbla (A/Capt. F.E. Getting, RAN). (1)

23 Feb 1940
HMS Pandora (Lt.Cdr. J.W. Linton, RN) conducted exercises off Hong Kong with HMS Kanimbla (A/Capt. F.E. Getting, RAN). (2)

6 Aug 1940

Convoy WS 2.

This convoy departed Liverpool / the Clyde on 6 August 1940 for the far east.

The Liverpool section of the convoy was made up of the following troopships / transports; Aska (British, 8323 GRT, built 1939), Batory (Polish, 14287 GRT, built 1936), Clan Macaulay (British, 10492 GRT, built 1936), Empress of Britain (British, 42348 GRT, built 1931), Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931), Orion (British, 23371 GRT, built 1935), Ormonde (British, 14982 GRT, built 1917), Otranto (British, 20026 GRT, built 1925), Strathaird (British, 22281 GRT, built 1932), Stratheden (British, 23722 GRT, built 1937) and Waiwera (British, 12435 GRT, built 1934).

They were escorted by the heavy cruiser HMS Cornwall (Capt. C.F. Hammill, RN), HMS Havelock (Capt. E.B.K. Stevens, DSC, RN), HMS Harvester (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, RN), HMS Highlander (Cdr. W.A. Dallmeyer, RN) and HMS Hurricane (Lt.Cdr. H.C. Simms, RN).

The Clyde section of the convoy was made up of the following troopships / transports; Andes (British, 25689 GRT, built 1939), Empress of Canada (British, 21517 GRT, built 1922), Franconia (British, 20175 GRT, built 1923), Lanarkshire (British, 9816 GRT, built 1940), Memnon (British, 7506 GRT, built 1931) and Suffolk (British, 11063 GRT, built 1939).

They were escorted by the heavy cruiser HMS Shropshire (Capt. J.H. Edelsten, RN), light cruiser HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN) and the destroyers HMS Fortune (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Vortigern (Lt.Cdr. R.S. Howlett, RN) and HMS Watchman (Lt.Cdr. E.C.L. Day, RN).

Both sections made rendez-vous around 1200/6 and then the convoy was formed in position 55°30'N, 06°00'W.

Around 1430/6 (zone -1), the troopship Orion, was ordered to proceed to the Clyde as she had developed engine defects.

At 2118/7, the destroyers HMS Vortigern and HMS Watchman were detached in response to an SOS signal. [This was from the torpedoed Mohamed Ali El-Kebir.]

At 2359/7, HMS Emerald and the remaining destroyers parted company with the convoy.

Around dawn on the 8th the convoy split up in a 'fast' and a 'slow' section. The fast section was made up of the Andes, Batory, Empress of Britain, Empress of Canada, Monarch of Bermuda, Strathaird and Stratheden. They were escorted by HMS Cornwall. The other ships formed the 'slow' section escorted by HMS Shropshire.

The 'fast' section arrived at Freetown on 15 August 1940. The 'slow' section arrived at Freetown on 16 August 1940.

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On 16 August 1940 the 'fast' section departed Freetown for Capetown. It was now made up of the troopships / transports Andes, Batory, Empress of Britain, Empress of Canada, Strathaird and Stratheden under the escort of HMS Cornwall.

The 'slow' section, now made up of the troopships / transports Clan Macaulay, Franconia, Lanarkshire, Memnon, Ormonde, Otranto, Suffolk and Waiwera under the escort of HMS Shropshire.

The fast sections arrived at Capetown on 25 August 1940, the slow section on 28 August 1940.

Both cruisers proceeded to Simonstown after delivering the convoy at Capetown, HMS Cornwall arriving there on 25 August and HMS Shropshire on 28 August.

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On 30 August 1940 the troopships / transports Andes, Clan Macaulay, Empress of Britain, Empress of Canada, Lanarkshire, Memnon, Otranto, Strathaird, Suffolk and Waiwera departed Capetown for Aden / Suez. They were escorted by HMS Shropshire. This convoy was now known as WS 2A.

On 2 September 1940, while off Durban, this convoy was joined by the troopships / transports Franconia (British, 20175 GRT, built 1923) and Llangibby Castle (British, 11951 GRT, built 1929) which had been escorted out of Durban by the HMS Kanimbla (A/Capt. F.E. Getting, RAN). These ships had departed Durban the day before.

The Llangibby Castle was detached from the convoy around noon on 7 September for Mombasa where she arrived on 8 September being escorted from them moment she had been detached by the light cruiser HMS Ceres (Capt. E.G. Abbott, AM, RN).

The convoy arrived near Aden on 12 September 1940 where it split into two sections late in the afternoon. The 'fast' section was escorted by light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN), AA cruiser HMS Coventry (Capt. D. Gilmour, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN). HMS Shropshire remained with the 'slow' section but was reinforced by the destroyer HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN) and sloop HMS Flamingo (Cdr. J.H. Huntley, RN).

Not all of these escorts remained with their convoy's until Suez though.

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One day later, 31 August 1940, the troopships / transports Batory, Orion (which by now had also arrived at Capetown, Ormonde and Stratheden departed Capetown for Bombay. They were escorted by HMS Cornwall. This convoy was now known as WS 2B.

The escort of convoy WS 2B was taken over by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Kanimbla (A/Capt. F.E. Getting, RAN) in position 35°08'S, 34°27'E at 1200/3. Half an hour later HMS Cornwall parted company with the convoy.

Convoy WS 2B arrived at Bombay in the morning of September 15th. (3)

1 Nov 1940

Convoy WS 4A.

This convoy departed Liverpool / the Clyde on 1 / 2 November 1940 for the far east.

The Liverpool section of the convoy departed Liverpool on 1 November and was made up of the following troopships / transports; Abosso (British, 11330 GRT, built 1935), Akaroa (British, 15130 GRT, built 1914), City of Manchester (British, 8917 GRT, built 1935), Duchess of Richmond (British, 22022 GRT, built 1928), Dunedin Star (British, 11168 GRT, built 1936), Malancha (British, 8124 GRT, built 1937), Scythia (British, 19761 GRT, built 1920) and Stirling Castle (British, 25550 GRT, built 1936).

From the Bristol Channel three ships joined this convoy, these were; Delius (British, 6065 GRT, built 1937), Martand (British, 7967 GRT, built 1925) and Port Wyndham (British, 11005 GRT, built 1937).

It was being escorted by the destroyers HMS Harvester (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, DSC, RN), HMS Hurricane (Lt.Cdr. H.C. Simms, RN) and ORP Garland (Lt.Cdr. K.F. Namiesniowski). This last destroyer had been escorting the three ships that came from the Bristol Channel.

The Clyde section of the convoy departed the Clyde on 2 November was made up of the following troopships / transports;

Almanzora (British, 15551 GRT, built 1914), Clan Chattan (British, 7262 GRT, built 1937), Clan Lamont (British, 7250 GRT, built 1935), Highland Monarch (British, 14139 GRT, built 1928) and Warwick Castle (British, 20107 GRT, built 1930).

They were escort by the heavy cruiser HMS Cornwall (Capt. C.F. Hammill, RN), AA cruiser HMS Cairo (Capt. P.V. McLaughlin, RN) and the destroyers HMCS Ottawa (Cdr. E.R. Mainguy, RCN), HMCS Saguenay (Cdr. G.R. Miles, RCN), HMCS Skeena (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Hibbard, RCN), HMS Hesperus (Lt.Cdr. D.G.F.W. MacIntyre, RN), HMS Beagle (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Wright, RN) and HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. F.J.G. Hewitt, RN).

The convoy merged around 1000/2 in position 55°45'N, 07°21'W.

HMS Bulldog and ORP Garland left the convoy around 1200/3 in position 54°25'N, 14°39'W to go to the aid of the troopship Windsor Castle which had been damaged by German aircraft bombs in position 54°12'N, 13°18'W.

HMS Cairo left the convoy at 1830/3 in position 54°12'N, 16°13'W.

HMS Hesperus and HMS Hurricane left the convoy around 1900/3 to go to the aid of the torpedoed armed merchant cruiser HMS Laurentic.

HMS Beagle, HMCS Saguenay and HMCS Skeena parted company with the convoy at 0300/4 in position 52°30'N, 19°00'W.

HMCS Ottawa and HMS Harvester parted company with the convoy at 1600/4 in position 52°30'N, 22°25'W.

At 0310/5 the Duchess of Richmond parted company with the convoy in position 52°10'N, 26°05'E to proceed to her destination independently.

At 0630/9 the Akaroa parted company with the convoy in position 32°44'N, 22°58'W to proceed to Trinidad.

At 0855/11 the Almanzora, Abosso, City of Manchester, Darius, Malancha and Martland were detached ('slow' group) were detached in position 23°47'N, 22°15'W under the escort of the armed merchant cruiser HMS Pretoria Castle (Capt.(Retd.) E.J. Shelly, RN) which had just joined the convoy.

The 'fast' section of the convoy arrived at Freetown on 14 November escorted by HMS Cornwall.

The 'slow' section of the convoy arrived at Freetown on 15 November escorted by HMS Pretoria Castle.

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The convoy, now made up of troopships / transports Almanzora, City of Manchester, Clan Chattan, Clan Lamont, Delius, Dunedin Star, Highland Monarch, Malancha, Martand, Port Wyndham, Scythia, Stirling Castle and Warwick Castle, departed Freetown for South Africa around 1630 hours on 17 November 1940.

They were escorted by HMS Cornwall and HMS Pretoria Castle.

At 0805 hours on 26 November the Scythia and Warwick Castle parted company with the convoy in position 22°55'S, 09°03'E to proceed to Capetown. They were escorted by HMS Pretoria Castle.

These ships arrived off Capetown on 29 October. The troopships both entered the harbour but Scythia only briefly to take on board water.

HMS Pretoria Castle rejoined to convoy around 1200 hours on 29 November. Scythia rejoined about 45 minutes later.

At 1500 hours on 2 December, while in position 32°15'S, 29°35'E, the Almanzora, City of Manchester, Delius, Malancha and Martand were left astern to enable to other ships to arrive at Durban early the next day. HMS Pretoria Castle remained with these five ships while HMS Cornwall went ahead with the others.

Pretoria Castle arrived with the five ships that had split off at Durban some hours after the others. The convoy then entered harbour while HMS Pretoria Castle set course for Capetown.

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The convoy, now made up of troopships / transports City of Manchester, Clan Chattan, Clan Lamont, Delius, Dunedin Star, Highland Monarch, Malancha, Martand, Port Wyndham and Stirling Castle, departed Durban for Aden around 1030 hours on 5 December 1940.

There was one more ships in the convoy, this was the troopship Dunera (11162 GRT, built 1937) who had taken over the troops of the Scythia and took her place in the convoy.

Escort was once again HMS Cornwall but she was now with the armed merchant cruiser HMS Kanimbla (A/Capt. F.E. Getting, RAN).

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In the morning of 18 December 1940 the convoy arrived near Aden and was transferred to the Red Sea escort. HMS Cornwall and HMS Kanimbla parted company with the convoy at 0925/18 in position 11°53'N, 45°08'E. The then proceeded to Aden where they arrived around 1300/18.

The Red Sea escort joined the convoy as follows; sloops HMS Indus (Cdr. Cdr. E.G.G. Hunt, RIN) and HMAS Yarra (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Harrington, RAN) joined the convoy at 0730/18 in position 11°53'N, 45°34'E.

Light cruiser HMAS Perth (Capt. P.W. Bowyer-Smith, RN) and AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN) joined at 0945/18 in position 11°55'N, 45°03'E.

And the last ship to join, the destroyer HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN) joined at 1023/18 in position 11°57'N, 44°56'E.

Two more troopships / transports joined the convoy at 1130/18 in position 12°02'N, 44°45'E. These were the City of Agra (British, 6361 GRT, built 1936) and Melbourne Star (British, 11076 GRT, built 1936).

HMS Carlisle parted company with the convoy at 1650/20 in position 20°33'N, 38°45'E.

HMIS Indus and HMAS Yarra parted company with the convoy at 1730/20 in position 20°42'N, 38°41'E.

At 1200/21, the Dunedin Star, Melbourne Star and Stirling Castle, escorted by HMS Kingston proceeded ahead. They arrived at Suez at 1500/22.

The remaineder of the convoy arrived at Suez at 0700/23 escorted by HMAS Hobart. (4)

18 Dec 1940
HMS Cornwall (Capt. C.F. Hammill, RN) and HMS Kanimbla (A/Capt. F.E. Getting, RAN) arrived at Aden from escort duties. (4)

Sources

  1. ADM 173/16472
  2. ADM 173/16396
  3. ADM 199/1136 (+ ADM 199/381)
  4. ADM 199/1136

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


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