Allied Warships

HMIS Jumna (U 21)

Sloop of the Black Swan class

NavyThe Royal Indian Navy
TypeSloop
ClassBlack Swan 
PennantU 21 
Built byWilliam Denny & Brothers (Dumbarton, Scotland) 
Ordered8 Sep 1939 
Laid down20 Feb 1940 
Launched16 Nov 1940 
Commissioned13 May 1941 
End service 
History

 

Commands listed for HMIS Jumna (U 21)

Please note that we're still working on this section.

CommanderFromTo
1Cdr. Walter Richard Shewring, RINNov 194016 Apr 1942
2Cdr. Jesser Evelyn Napier Coope, RIN16 Apr 19421 Dec 1942
3A/Cdr. Ivan Bryan Warburton Heanly, RIN1 Dec 1942ear/mid44
4A/Cdr. Hugh Murray Clark, RINear/mid4428 Aug 1944
5A/Cdr. Killingworth Richard Utten Todd, RIN28 Aug 194416 May 1945
6A/Lt.Cdr. Jacques Frederick Bayliss, RIN16 May 194518 Jul 1945
7T/Cdr. Harold Aubrey Tod, RINR18 Jul 194521 Jan 1946

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Notable events involving Jumna include:


28 May 1941
HMS L 26 (Lt. M.B. St. John, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Tobermory with HMS Polruan (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) J.S. Landers, RNR) and HMIS Jumna (Cdr. W.R. Shewring, RIN). (1)

29 May 1941
HMS L 26 (Lt. M.B. St. John, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Tobermory with HMS Polruan (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) J.S. Landers, RNR) and HMIS Jumna (Cdr. W.R. Shewring, RIN). (1)

15 Jun 1941
HrMs O 14 (Lt.Cdr. G. Quint, RNN(R)) conducted A/S exercises at / off Scapa Flow with HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN), HMS Hambledon (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. R.G. Stewart, RN) and HMIS Jumna (Cdr. W.R. Shewring, RIN). (2)

30 Dec 1941

Convoy DM 1

This convoy was formed at sea near Mombasa on 30 December 1941.

It arrived at Addu Atoll (Port T) on 4 January 1942 and departed from there for Singapore on 5 January 1942. The convoy arrived at Singapore on 13 January 1942.

This convoy was made up of the following ships;
American liner (troopship) Mount Vernon (24289 GRT, built 1933), British liners (troopships) Narkunda (16227 GRT, built 1920), Aorangi (17491 GRT, built 1924), British cargo vessel Sussex (11062 GRT, built 1937), Dutch passerger / cargo ship Abbekerk (7906 GRT, built 1939).

The convoy was escorted by British light cruiser HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN) until Addu Attol. From Addu Atoll onwards HMS Emerald was reinforced by the British heavy cruiser HMS Exeter (Capt. O.L. Gordon, MVO, RN) and the Indian sloop HMIS Jumna (Cdr. W.R. Shewring, RIN).

On 9 January, the British light cruiser HMS Durban (Capt. P.G.L. Cazalet, DSC, RN), joined the escort in position 04°27'N, 94°47'E.

On 10 January, the Dutch light cruiser HrMs De Ruyter (Cdr. E.E.B. Lacomblé, RNN and flagship of Rear-Admiral K.W.F.M. Doorman, RNN) joined the escort for three hours in position 05°22'N, 100°34'E. Rear-Admiral Doorman then boarded HMS Emerald to discuss the route and policy with the commanding officer. After Rear-Admiral Doorman returned to his flagship HrMs De Ruyter parted company with the convoy.

Later on 10 January 1940 the British destroyers HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN) and the Australian destroyer HMAS Vampire (Cdr. W.T.A. Moran, RAN) joined the escort in position 05°30'S, 100°55'E.

Shortly before 1800 hours on 11 January the Dutch light cruisers HrMs De Ruyter, HrMs Tromp (Cdr. J.B. de Meester, RNN) and the Dutch destroyers HrMs Piet Hein (Lt.Cdr. J.M.L.I. Chompff, RNN) and HrMs Banckert (Lt.Cdr. L.J. Goslings, RNN) bolstered the escort of convoy DM 1. The Dutch ships remained with the convoy until 0745/13. (3)

8 Jan 1942

Convoy BM 10.

Convoy from Bombay to Singapore.
Departure date: 8 January 1942.
Arrival date: 25 January 1942.

This convoy was initially made up of the following ships;
British passenger / cargo ships Talthybius (10224 GRT, built 1912), Rohna (8602 GRT, built 1926), Cap St. Jaques (8009 GRT, built 1922), Takliwa (7936 GRT, built 1924), Islami (5879 GRT, built 1934), Ekma (5128 GRT, built 1911), British cargo ships Subadar (5424 GRT, built 1929), Jalavihar (5330 GRT, built 1911), Ekma (5128 GRT, built 1911), Jalakrishna (4991 GRT, built 1937), Loch Ranza (4958 GRT, built 1934) and Brittany (4772 GRT, built 1928)

Escort was initially provided from 8 January to 13 January 1942 by the British light cruiser HMS Caledon (A/Capt. H.J. Haynes, DSO, DSC, RN).

On 13 January 1942, the British light cruisers HMS Enterprise (Capt. J.C. Annesley, DSO, RN) and HMS Glasgow (Capt. H. Hickling, DSO, RN) took over from HMS Caledon in position 05°41'N, 80°00'E. They had come from Colombo escorting the British transports Jalaratna (3865 GRT, built 1930) and Silverlarch (5122 GRT, built 1924) which joined the convoy.

On 14 January 1942, the Indian sloop HMIS Sutlej (Capt. P.A. Mare, RIN) joined the convoy in position 03°52'N, 83°20'E coming from Trincomalee.

On 18 January 1942, the British heavy cruiser HMS Exeter (Capt. O.L. Gordon, MVO, RN) and the British light cruiser HMS Danae (Capt. F.J. Butler, MBE, RN) joined the convoy in position 00°41'S, 95°14'E. HMS Glasgow was detached and returned to Colombo.

On 20 January 1942, the British destroyers HMS Electra (Cdr. C.W. May, RN), HMS Stronghold (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) G.R. Pretor-Pinney, RN) and the Australian sloop HMAS Yarra (Cdr. W.H. Harrington, RAN) joined the convoy in position 05°00'S, 100°57'E.

On 22 January 1942, the convoy passed through the Sunda Strait. Early in the morning of that day the Dutch light cruiser HrMs Tromp (Cdr. J.B. de Meester, RNN) and the Dutch destroyers HrMs Piet Hein (Lt.Cdr. J.M.L.I. Chompff, RNN) and HrMs Banckert (Lt.Cdr. L.J. Goslings, RNN) departed Batavia (Jakarta), Java, Netherlands East Indies, escorting the US cargo ship Collingsworth (5101 GRT, built 1920) and the Dutch passenger / cargo ship Rochussen (2680 GRT, built 1904). These ships joined the convoy around 1100 hours. When the Dutch escorts joined the destroyers HMS Electra and HMS Stronghold left the convoy and proceeded to Batavia. Two more merchant ships joined the convoy on this day, these were the British Yuen Sang (3229 GRT, built 1923) and the Norwegian Hermelin (1683 GRT, built 1940).

On 24 January 1942, HMS Exeter parted company and proceeded to Batavia. Later the Dutch ships also parted company.

On 25 January 1942, the convoy and escort arrived at Singapore at dawn. (3)

10 Jan 1942

Convoys MS 2 and MS 2A.

Convoy MS 2 departed Sydney on 10 January 1942.

This convoy was made up of only one ship, the troopship Aquitania (British, 44786 GRT, built 1914).

On departure from Sydney convoy MS 2 was escorted by the heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (Capt. G.D. Moore, RAN).

Convoy MS 2 arrived at Fremantle on 15 January and departed again in the same composition on the 16th.

On 19 January 1942, while approaching the Sunda Strait the convoy was joined by a local escort made up of the light cruisers HMS Dragon (Capt. R.J. Shaw, MBE, RN), HrMs Java (Capt. P.B.M van Straelen, RNN) and the destroyers HMS Express (Lt.Cdr. F.J. Cartwright, RN) and HMS Thanet ( Cdr.(Retd.) B.S. Davies, RN) which came from Batavia.

On 20 January 1942, the destroyer HrMs Van Nes (Lt.Cdr. C.A. Lagaay, RNN) joined. The convoy arrived at Ratai Bay, Sumatra later the same day.

On arrival at Lampung Bay, HrMs Java and HMS Thanet parted company to proceed to Batavia to fuel on completion of which they returned to Ratai Bay. HMAS Canberra and HMS Express fuelled at Ratai Bay.

At Lampung Bay the troops from the Aquitania were put onto smaller ships which were to take them to Singapore as Convoy MS 2A.

These were the merchant vessels; Both (Dutch, 2601 GRT, built 1931), Reael (Dutch, 2561 GRT, built 1931), Reijnst (Dutch, 2462 GRT, built 1928), Sloet van Beele (Dutch, 2977 GRT, built 1914), Taishan (British, 3174 GRT, built 1925), Van der Lijn (Dutch, 2464 GRT, built 1928) and Van Swoll (Dutch, 2147 GRT, built 1930).

To provide cover for the operation of putting the troops on board the smaller ships the heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra, light cruisers HMS Dragon, destroyers HMS Express, HMAS Vampire (Cdr. W.T.A. Moran, RAN), USS Barker (Lt.Cdr. L.G. McGlone, USN), USS Stewart (Lt.Cdr. H.P. Smith, USN), HrMs Evertsen (Lt.Cdr. W.M. de Vries, RNN), HrMs Van Nes, sloops HMIS Jumna (Cdr. W.R. Shewring, RIN), HrMs Soemba (Cdr. P.J.G. Huijer, RNN) and the patrol vessel USS Isabel (Lt. J.W. Payne, Jr., USN) were patrolling / present in the Bay.

Around 1045GH, convoy MS 2A departed Ratai Bay for Singapore. It was escorted by HMAS Canberra, HMAS Vampire and HMIS Jumna.

Around 1830GH/21, HrMs Java and HMS Thanet joined from Batavia.

At 1000GH/23, after the convoy had passed the Banka Strait HMAS Canberra parted company leaving HrMs Java in command of the escort. HMAS Canberra then proceeded to Batavia where she arrived the following day.

The convoy arrived at Singapore late in the morning of the 24th. (4)

13 Jan 1942
HMS Exeter (Capt. O.L. Gordon, MVO, RN), HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN), HMS Durban (Capt. P.G.L. Cazalet, DSC, RN), HMAS Vampire (Cdr. W.T.A. Moran, RAN), HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN) and HMIS Jumna (Cdr. W.R. Shewring, RIN) arrived at Singapore escorting convoy DM 1. (5)

3 Feb 1942

Convoy JS 1.

This convoy departed Colombo on 3 February 1942 and arrived at Batavia, Netherlands East Indies on 14 February 1942.

This convoy was made up of the following ships;
British transports; Adastrus (7905 GRT, built 1923), Alice Moller (4986 GRT, built 1914), Filleigh (4856 GRT, built 1928), Lulworth Hill (7628 GRT, built 1940), Modasa (9070 GRT, built 1921), Prominent (2232 GRT, built 1918) and Yoma (8131 GRT, built 1928).

Norwegian transports Hai Lee (3616 GRT, built 1934) and Hermion (5202 GRT, built 1937).

The Alice Moller had to return to Colombo with defects.

The convoy sailed from Colombo on 3 February 1942 and was escorted initially by the British heavy cruiser HMS Cornwall (Capt. P.C.W. Manwaring, RN) and the Australian minesweepers HMAS Bathurst (Lt.Cdr. A.V. Bunyan, RANR(S)) and HMAS Lismore (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Crawford, RANR(S)).

The Australian minesweepers parted company with the convoy on 5 February. HMS Cornwall was relieved by HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, CBE, RAN) around 1350GH/10 in position 05°40'S, 93°00'E.

Around 2000GH/11, the British heavy cruiser HMS Exeter (Capt. O.L. Gordon, MVO, RN) joined the escort and remained with it until 13 February.

Around 1100GH/12, the British destroyer HMS Electra (Cdr. C.W. May, RN) joined the convoy followed around 1500GH/12 by the Indian sloop HMIS Jumna (Cdr. W.R. Shewring, RIN).

At 1530GH/13, the convoy was split up and the Filleigh Lulworth Hill, Yoma, Hai Lee and Hermion arrived at Oosthaven, Sumatra. They were escorted by HMAS Hobart and HMIS Jumna. HMIS Jumna remained at Oosthaven to provide A/S protection for that port together with the Australian minesweepers HMAS Goulburn (Lt. B. Paul, RANR(S)) and HMAS Burnie (T/A/Lt.Cdr. G.E. Gough, RANR(S)).

The other ships of the convoy, the Adastrus, Modasa, and Prominent arrived at Batavia on 14 February 1942 escorted by HMS Electra.

HMAS Hobart later also went on to Batavia but while en-route she was ordered to return to Oosthaven. (6)

20 Feb 1942

Convoy SJ 5.

Convoy from Batavia to Colombo.
Departure date: 20 February 1942.
Dispersal date: 22 February 1942 / 1230 hours.

This convoy was made up of the following ships;
British transports; Angby (767 GRT, built 1913), Filleigh (4856 GRT, built 1928), Jalakrishna (4991 GRT, built 1937), Lulworth Hill (7628 GRT, built 1940), Silverlarch (5064 GRT, built 1924) and Yoma (8131 GRT, built 1928).

Norwegian transport Hai Lee (3616 GRT, built 1934)

The convoy sailed from Batavia on 20 February 1942 and was escorted by the British heavy cruiser HMS Exeter (Capt. O.L. Gordon, MVO, RN). It appears that the convoy was also escorted for part of the way (most likely during the passage of the Sunda Strait) by the British destroyer HMS Stronghold (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) G.R. Pretor-Pinney, RN) and the Indian sloop HMIS Jumna (Cdr. W.R. Shewring, RIN). (6)

18 May 1942
HMS Truant (Lt.Cdr. H.A.V. Haggard, DSO, DSC, RN) carries out A/S exercises with HMIS Jumna (Cdr. J.E.N. Coope, RIN) off Colombo. (7)

13 Jul 1942

'Schooner' convoy.

This convoy departed Colombo on 13 July 1942.

It was made up of the following (troop) transports; Aronda (British, 9031 GRT, built 1941), Athlone Castle (British, 25565 GRT, built 1936), City of Canterbury (British, 8331 GRT, built 1922), City of Lille (British, 6588 GRT, built 1928), Clan MacDonald (British, 9653 GRT, built 1939), Devonshire (British, 11275 GRT, built 1939), Dunedin Star (British, 11168 GRT, built 1936), Ekma (British, 5108 GRT, built 1911), Martand (British, 7967 GRT, built 1939), Rajula (British, 8478 GRT, built 1926) and Westernland (Dutch, 16479 GRT, built 1918).

On departure from Colombo the convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Gambia (Capt. M.J. Mansergh, CBE, RN), armed merchant cruiser HMS Worcestershire (A/Capt.(Retd.) E.H. Hopkinson, RN), sloops HMIS Jumna (Cdr. J.E.N. Coope, RIN), HMIS Sutlej (Capt. P.A. Mare, RIN) and the corvettes HMS Aster (Lt. W.L. Smith, RNR) and HMS Tulip (Lt.Cdr. A. Wilkinson, RNR).

Around 1845F/14, HMIS Jumna, HMIS Sutlej, HMS Aster and HMS Tulip parted company in position 02°23'N, 80°23'E.

Around 1750F/16, the City of Lille was ordered to proceed independently as she was unable to keep up with the convoy. Position was 06°03'S, 81°34'E.

Around 1330F/19, the light cruiser USS Phoenix (Capt. H.E. Fischer, USN) took over from HMS Gambia in position 17°02'S, 82°24'E. HMS Gambia then parted company with the convoy to proceed to Mauritius.

Around 0715F/20, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Kanimbla (A/Capt. W.L.G. Adams, RN) took over from HMS Worcestershire in position 20°11'S, 83°17'E. HMS Worcestershire then parted company with the convoy to proceed to Mauritius.

Around 0855H/27, the destroyer HMAS Voyager (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Robison DSC, RAN) joined the convoy in position 31°04'S, 112°00'E.

Around 1350H/27, the minesweeper HMIS Madras (Lt. S.G. Karmarkar, RINR) joined the convoy and five minutes later the convoy was split up, in position 31°11'S, 112°16'E, into two sections ' Schooner A ' for Melbourne and ' Schooner B ' for Fremantle.

' Schooner A ' was made up of the transports Athlone Castle, City of Canterbury, Dunedin Star and Martand. They were escorted by USS Phoenix and HMAS Voyager.

' Schooner B ' was made up of the transports Aronda, Clan MacDonald, Devonshire, Ekma, Rajula and Westernland. They were escorted by HMS Kanimbla and HMIS Madras.

' Schooner B ' arrived at Fremantle in the morning of the 28th.

At 1015H/28, in position 33°28'S, 113°48'E, ' Schooner A ' merged with convoy ZK 12 which was coming from Fremantle escorted by the light cruiser HrMs Tromp (Cdr. J.B. de Meester, RNN). Convoy ZK 12 was made up of the transport Duntroon (10346 GRT, built 1935) and the armed merchant cruisers HMAS Manoora (A/Capt. J.M. Armstrong, RAN) and HMAS Westralia (A/Capt.(Emgy.) H.V. Hudson, OBE, RAN).

Around 1900H/29, in position 36°45'S, 119°48'E, HrMs Tromp and HMAS Voyager parted company with convoy ' Schooner B '. They were to return to Fremantle.

Around 0530K/3, the Athlone Castle, City of Canterbury, Dunedin Star and Martand parted company with the convoy and proceeded to Melbourne.

Around 0715K/5, the destroyer HMAS Arunta (Cdr. J.C. Morrow, DSO, RAN) joined the convoy.

The convoy arrived at Sydney around 1630K/5.

30 Jul 1942

Operation Stab.

Diversionary operation in the Bay of Bengal.

The object of this diversionary operation in which landings on the Andaman Islands simulated was to distract Japanese naval forces in conjunction with American operations in the Solomons.

To simulate landing forces three convoys were to leave India and Ceylon. These were;
' Force V ', sailing from Vizagapatam.
Tansports Blackheath (British, 4637 GRT, built 1936), Cranfield (British, 5332 GRT, built 1919) and Mahout (British, 7921 GRT, built 1925). These ships were escorted by the sloop HMIS Jumna (Cdr. J.E.N. Coope, RIN, Senior Officer) and the destroyer HMS Scout (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) H. Lambton, RN).

' Force M ', sailing from Madras
Transports Clan McIver (British, 4606 GRT, built 1921), Custodian (British, 5881 GRT, built 1928), Hoperange (British, 5177 GRT, built 1939), Tasmania (British, 6405 GRT, built 1935) and Yuen Sang (British, 3229 GRT, built 1923). These ships were escorted by the fast minelayer HMS Manxman (Capt. R.K. Dickson, RN, Senior Officer), corvette HMS Aster (Lt. W.L. Smith, RNR) and patrol vessel HMIS Sonavati (T/A/Lt.Cdr. C.F. Smith, RINR).

' Force T ', sailing from Trincomalee
Transport (RAF Tender) Shengking (British, 2999 GRT, built 1931) and the tankers Marit Maersk (Danish, 1894 GRT, built 1938), Appleleaf (Royal Fleet Auxiliary, 5892 GRT, built 1917) and Broomdale (Royal Fleet Auxiliary, 8334 GRT, built 1937). These ships were escorted by the sloop HMIS Hindustan (A/Cdr. I.B.W Heanly, RIN, Senior Officer) and the corvette HMS Marguerite (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Blundell, RNR).

These forces were to proceed at best speed and reverse their course after dark at 1700Z/1 and return to their ports at best speed to arrive there before dusk on 2 August 1942.

' Force A ' of the Eastern Fleet was to sail from Colombo at 0400Z/31 so as to be eastward of Trincomalee by the time ' Force T ' was due to sail on the 1st August. Thereafter, ' Force A ' was to cover ' Force T ' from the eastward during the 1st and 2nd August. Subsequent movements of ' Force A ' were to depend on the situation, the force finally returning to Colombo about the 4th August.

During the night of 1/2 August, whilst forces are at sea, a wireless diversion (called Operation Spark) was to be carried out to simulate the following events.
1.) An imaginary collision was to occur in ' Force M '.
2.) One of the damaged ships was to make a plain language W/T signal reporting she had been in collision and is unable to proceed on the operation. One of the escort was to order her to keep silence and later to report to the Commander-in-Chief that ' Force M ' was unable to proceed. The Commander-in-Chief was then to postpone the operation and order all forces to return to their ports.
3.) Shore Wireless Stations were to carry out their normal W/T procedure.

Catalina Patrols were to be established well to the eastward to cover the three convoys during the short period they were at sea and ' Force A ' whilst operating in the Bay of Bengal.

At 2200F/30, the Commander-in-Chief received the following enemy report from the Dutch submarine HrMs O 23 (Lt.Cdr. A.M. Valkenburg, RNN) which was on patrol in the Malacca Straits: ' Two cruisers of the Takao-class and four destroyers in position 05°32'N, 98°50'E. Course 340°. Speed 14 knots. Torpedoes missed. Time of Origin of the signal of HrMs O 23 was 2352Z/28.

It seemed unlikely that the enemy cruiser force, moving northwards close to the Thailand coast, was a sign of enemy reaction to the 'planted' rumours in India that seaborne forces wear being prepared to attack the Andaman Island. A more probable reason to account for this movement was a possible raid on shipping in the northern part of the Bay of Bengal or a visit to Rangoon to coincide with the establishment of the new Burmese puppet government.

HrMs O 23 was due to leave patrol in the Malacca Straits on the 31st July and return to Colombo. In view of the enemy forces reported previously by her and the forthcoming Operation Stab, she was ordered to remain on patrol until 3rd August.

Forces ' T ' and ' M ' were provided with air cover (this was not possible for ' Force V '), both by the long range reconnaissance Catalina patrols and local fighter escort, and in addition would have Force A covering them to the eastward, but ' Force V ' would be without air cover and too far away to be covered by ' Force A '. The Commander-in-Chief therefore decided to cancel the sailing of ' Force V ', but that all preparations for its departure were to continue.

In view of the enemy cruisers reported in the Malacca Straits on 29th July, The Commander-in-Chief decided to proceed with ' Force A ' from Colombo in the afternoon of 30 July. This would enable operation Stab to be carried out on the prearranged date and also admit of intercepting the Japanese force should it venture to the southern part of the Bay of Bengal.

' Force A ', comprising the battleship HMS Warspite (Capt. F.E.P. Hutton, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Illustrious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral D.W. Boyd, CBE, DSC, RN), HMS Formidable (Capt. A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN), light cruisers HMS Birmingham (Capt. H.B. Crane, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.D. Stephens, RN), AA cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Cdr. E.J. van Holte, RNN) and the destroyers HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, DSO, RN), HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr M.J. Clark, DSC, RAN), HrMs Van Galen (Lt.Cdr. F.T. Burghard, RNN) and HMS Inconstant (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN) sailed from Colombo at 1700F/30.

Course was shaped to keep out of sight of land and to be in a position 35 miles to eastward of Trincomalee by 1000F/1.

Two air searches were sent out from ' Force A ' on 31st July. The first at 0800F to cover the section 050° to 080° ahead of the fleet to a depth of 150 miles; and the second at 1500F to search the sector 000° to 110° to a depth of 160 miles. Nothing was seen in either search.

Since no further information of the enemy cruiser force had been received, the Commander-in-Chief decided at 1100F/31 to postpone the sailing of ' Force M ' until 4 hours later and ordered a Catalina patrol to the north eastward of this force whilst at sea so as to give warning of approach of any possible enemy forces.

' Force T ' sailed from Trincomalee at the prearranged time, 0900F/1. At that time ' Force A ' was 40 miles north-east of Trincomalee, course south-west. At 1000F/1 course was altered to north-east, parallel to that of ' Force T ', and throughout the day, ' Force A ' maintained a covering position to the north-east of ' Force T '.An air reconnaissance was flown off at 0830F/1 to cover the section 340° to 000° to 130° to a depth of 150 nautical miles. This search saw nothing.

At 1040F/1, when ' Force A ' was in position 09°00'N, 21°42'E, 40 nautical miles north-east of Trincomalee, course northeast, an RDF contact was obtained on an aircraft bearing 100° range 73 miles. This was at first through to be one of the reconnaissance aircraft returning, but the absence of IFF indication being the unfortunately the rule rather than the exception. This aircraft was tracked around the fleet and passed astern at 1130F/1 on a bearing 220°, range 24 miles thence proceeded to the north-westward and finally faded on bearing 060° at 60 miles at 1215F/1. The aircraft was sighted by HMS Formidable and identified by two officers and an air lookout as a Catalina and reported as such. HMS Formidable did not send out fighters to investigate. Although the prearranged programme of the Catalina reconnaissance did not suggest one of these aircraft should be acting in this manner, the possibility was accepted in view of the lack of training of many of the newly arrived Catalina crews. Subsequent investigations and a warning of the presence of British forces broadcast from Tokyo established this was an enemy aircraft.

At noon a fighter umbrella of two Martlets was maintained by HMS Illustrious. One Martlet crashed into the barrier on deck landing. The need to economise on the fighter umbrella was governed by the necessity of conserving the Martlets. Had the aircraft referred earlier not been wrongly identified as a Catalina, The Commander-in-Chief was convinced that it could have been intercepted by Martlets that were ranged at readiness in both aircraft carriers.

A further air search was sent out at 1500F/1 to cover the sector from 000° to 110° to a depth of 150 miles but nothing was seen.

At 1800F/1, one of the Fulmar search aircraft made an emergency landing on HMS Illustrious, but crashed on desk due to a fractured oil pipe spraying the pilot’s windscreen, and was badly damaged.

At 1830F/1, all the search aircraft except two Fulmars had returned to their carriers. The two missing aircraft reported to HMS Formidable by wireless that they were lost and requested D/F bearings. The Commander-in-Chief at once ordered wireless silence to be broken to home these aircraft. The fleet was turned at 1840F/1 to close one of the aircraft when bearing had been definitely established by D/F and RDF. Searchlights were burned at dusk to assist returning aircraft and at 1920F/1 Very’s lights were sighted to the south-west. A few minutes later one of the aircraft was sighted and closed the carriers. Unfortunately, the aircraft by this time so short of petrol that it had to force land in the sea. The crew were picked up by HMAS Norman.

By 2000F/1. ' Force A ', which had become somewhat dispersed during reversal of course and whilst locating the crew of the aircraft, was reformed and course altered to the north west. Unfortunately nothing further was heard or seen of the other missing Fulmar with the exception of one report that a light had been seen to the eastward. A night search for the survivors of this aircraft was considered, but as they would have left the convoy uncovered to the northeast, The Commander-in-Chief decided it was preferable to return to this area at dawn and carry out a daytime air search. The Commander-in-Chief therefore continued to the north-west and at 0100F/2 in position 11°30'N, 82°15'E, course was reversed to the south-east and at daylight course was altered to south.

The wireless diversion (Operation Spark) was carried out as previously arranged during the night at 2300F/1 and appears to have been fully effective.

At 0630F/2, a thorough air search was sent out to look for survivors of the Fulmar which had been lost the previous evening. Whilst this attack was continuing, ' Force A ' was manoeuvred in the area in which it was estimated that the survivors might have landed. No survivors were located and it must be presumed with regret that the crew of two was lost. Catalinas which would be operating through this area were requested to keep a good lookout for survivors.

At 1030F/2, despatches were transferred by HMAS Norman from HMS Warspite to HMS Illustrious and thence sent by aircraft to Trincomalee for onward transmission. At 1100F/2, HMS Formidable flew off two Martlets as fighter umbrella. At 1112F/2, both carriers reported RDF contact on an aircraft bearing 055°, range 55 miles. HMS Formidable directed two Martlets onto this aircraft. When the fighters sighted the enemy flying boat at 10000 feet they first thought it was a Catalina, but on approaching closely identified it as a Japanese flying boat Navy Type 97, and promptly shot it down in approximate position 09°26'N, 83°16'E. The flying boat, which appeared to be taken completely by surprise, gave no return fire and after the second burst of fire from the Martlets, caught fire, disintegrated and fell in flames. No survivors were seen.

In the meantime at 111F/2 a further two Martlets each were flown off by the carriers. One of these Martlets from HMS Formidable crashed into the sea on taking off. The pilot was rescued by HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck.

A fighter umbrella of two Martlets was maintained for the rest of the day by HMS Illustrious. At 1530F/2 one of these Martlets appeared to have an engine failure and crashed into the sea whilst approaching to land on. The pilot was lost.

At about 1100F/2, the Commander-in-Chief had received information from the Flag Officer, Ceylon that Air Headquarters Bengal considered there were indications of naval activity south of the Andamans at 2300Z/31, that pointed to the possibility of an attack on Madras at dawn on the 3rd August and that the information on which this was based was from a most secret source. Flag Officer, Ceylon, had also informed Admiralty and the Deputy Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet.

There was nothing in Air Headquarters Bengal signal to indicate what was the nature of the naval activity which had been reported nor the reliability of the source. The Commander-in-Chief immediately requested Flag Officer, Ceylon to obtain amplification of this report.

Although a dawn attack by this Japanese naval force on Madras on 3rd August was possible, The Commander-in-Chief considered the following factors would make it very improbable.
1.) ' Force A ', probably having been sighted by the Japanese flying boat A.M. 1st August.
2.) ' Force A ', breaking wireless silence to endeavour to recover aircraft on the evening of 1st August. 3.) The wireless diversion (Operation Spark), carried out on the night of 1st/2nd August.

Nevertheless the Commander-in-Chief felt that he could not disregard Air Headquarters Bengal report and he therefore decided to proceed at once to Trincomalee and refuel destroyers in preparation for an extension of the present operation. he informed Their Lordships of his intentions in his signal 1215Z/2. Course was altered at 1215F/2 to the westward and speed increased to reach Trincomalee before dark.

' Force A ' entered Trincomalee at 1915F/2 and refuelling of destroyers commenced at once and as completed at 2200F/2 when it had been intended that ' Force A ' should sail again.

Additional Catalina patrols had been arranged to cover the approaches to Madras from the east and south-east, from p.m. 2nd August until daylight 3rd August.

It was not until ' Force A ' arrived at Trincomalee at 1900F/2 that the Commander-in-Chief received a message from Air Headquarters India (Flag Officer Ceylon’s 0744/2) stated that they did not agree with the deductions nor authorize the message from Air Headquarters Bengal. After discussion with Rear Admiral Commanding, Aircraft Carriers and Rear Admiral Commanding Fourth Cruiser Squadron, the Commander-in-Chief decided that there was no real basis for this report and in view of HMS Formidable and HMS Birmingham being required at an early date to return to Kilindini for Operation Streamline Jane, the Commander-in-Chief decided the ' Force A ' should return to Colombo.

The Commander-in-Chief informed Their Lordships of his revised intentions in his message 1649Z/2.

' Force A ' sailed accordingly from Trincomalee at 0600F/3 and shaped course for Colombo keeping out of sight of land. During the day a safety patrol of one aircraft was maintained 30 miles ahead of the Fleet. This patrol was carried out by Walrus aircraft from cruisers during the afternoon but had to be cancelled owing to rising wind and sea. A fighter umbrella of two Martlets was maintained throughout the day.

At 1030F/3, HMS Manxman, who was returning from Madras to Colombo, as about 30 miles south-west of ' Force A '. An aircraft was sent to order her to join ' Force A ', which she did at 1300F/3.

At 1430F/3, HMS Illustrious obtained an RDF contact on an aircraft bearing 60° and at 1440F/3, HMS Warspite obtained a doubtful contact on the same bearing at a range of 50 miles. Both contacts faded ten minutes later. At that time ' Force A ' was in position approximately 06°40'N, 82°10'E. The RDF contact may have been a Japanese flying boat, but more probably an aircraft operating from China Bay as no Catalina were know to be in that area. The uncertainty and short duration of the contacts rendered fighter interception impracticable.

Before leaving Trincomalee the Commander-in-Chief had proposed to Air Officer Commanding, Ceylon that opportunity should be taken to exercise that Fighter Direction of shore based fighters from HM ships and any other air exercises he might wish to carry out.

From 1645F/3 to 1800F/3, successful fighter direction exercise was carried out using two Fulmars from HMS Illustrious as the enemy. R/T communication was obtained quickly and no difficulty experienced in directing the Hurricanes on to their target. From 1800F/3 till dusk these two Fulmars took over the duties of fighter umbrella.

The next air exercise was a night shadowing exercise and a night torpedo and bombing attack on the fleet.

At 1850F/3, HMS Illustrious reported an aircraft in sight bearing 190° and directed the fighter umbrella of two Fulmars to investigate. This aircraft which was clearly in sight from HMS Warspite was a flying boat just visible above the horizon and though it presented characteristics of a Catalina, it could not definitely be identified as such. HMS Illustrious directed the Fulmars on to the target, a warning being given by R/T that the aircraft was possibly friendly. Unfortunately the designation 'Bandit' i.e. enemy aircraft, as opposed to 'Bogey' i.e. unidentified aircraft, was employed by the Fighter Directing Officer. For this and other reasons which are being investigated by a Board of Enquiry one of the Fulmars opened fire on this flying boat, which proved to be a Catalina. Fire was ceased directly the pilot realized his mistake but the Commander-in-Chief regret to report that one airman was killed and two injured and the Catalina’s rudder damaged. The Fulmars returned to HMS Illustrious and from subsequent signals it appeared that the Catalina was still airborne and returning to her base. As a safety measure HMS Mauritius and HMS Manxman were detached to search the area in case the Catalina was forced to land, but were recalled when it was clear from RDF bearings that the Catalina was proceeding to Koggala.

During the night of 3rd/4th August the shore based reconnaissance aircraft were unable to locate ' Force A ' and in consequence no attacks were delivered. From 0530F/4 to 0645F/4 another fighter direction exercise with shore based aircraft was successfully carried out.

' Force A ' arrived at Colombo at 0900F/4. (8)

12 Feb 1944
The Japanese submarine RO-110 (offsite link) was depth charged and sunk east-south-east off Visakhapatnam, India by the Indian sloop HMIS Jumna (A/Cdr. I.B.W. Heanly, RIN) and the Australian minesweepers HMAS Launceston (T/A/Lt.Cdr. P.G. Collins, RANR(S)) and HMAS Ipswich (T/Lt. R.H. Creasey, RANR(S)).

RO-110 had attacked convoy JC-36 (Colombo-Calcutta) and torpedoed and damaged the British merchant Asphalon (6274 GRT).

3 Oct 1944
The damaged battleship HMS Valiant (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN) departed Trincomalee for Aden. She is to proceed to the U.K. for full repairs. She is being escorted by the destroyers HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. W.H. Harrington, DSO, RAN), HrMs Tjerk Hiddes (Lt.Cdr. W.J. Kruys, RNN), sloop HMIS Jumna ( A/Cdr. K.R.U. Todd, RIN) and the frigate HMS Awe (Lt.Cdr. H.P. Carse, DSC, RNVR). The RFA tanker Arndale (8296 GRT, built 1937) is also with them to refuel the escorts as is the tug HMS Aimwell in case HMS Valiant breaks down or need assistance in steering as she is not able to steer a steady course due to the damage she had sustained. (9)

13 Oct 1944
HMS Valiant (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN), HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. W.H. Harrington, DSO, RAN), HrMs Tjerk Hiddes (Lt.Cdr. W.J. Kruys, RNN), HMIS Jumna ( A/Cdr. K.R.U. Todd, RIN), HMS Awe (Lt.Cdr. H.P. Carse, DSC, RNVR) and HMS Aimwell arrived at Aden.

The tanker Arndale had been detached on the 8th after having fuelled the escorts. (9)

Sources

  1. ADM 173/16800
  2. File 2.12.03.6387 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  3. Files 2.12.03.6849 and 2.12.27.121 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  4. Report of proceedings of HMAS Canberra for January 1942 + Report of proceedings of HMAS Vampire for January 1942
  5. ADM 199/1185
  6. ADM 199/426
  7. ADM 173/17662
  8. ADM 199/1389
  9. ADM 53/120684

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


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