Allied Warships

HMS Kandahar (F 28)

Destroyer of the K class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassK 
PennantF 28 
Built byWilliam Denny & Brothers (Dumbarton, Scotland) 
Ordered 
Laid down18 Jan 1938 
Launched21 Mar 1939 
Commissioned10 Oct 1939 
Lost20 Dec 1941 
History

HMS Kandahar (Cdr. William Geoffrey Arthur Robson, DSO, DSC, RN) was scuttled on 20 December 1941 after sustaining severe damage on 19 December 1941 from a mine east off Tripoli, Libya.

 

Commands listed for HMS Kandahar (F 28)

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

CommanderFromTo
1Cdr. William Geoffrey Arthur Robson, RN31 Aug 193920 Dec 1941

You can help improve our commands section
Click here to Submit events/comments/updates for this vessel.
Please use this if you spot mistakes or want to improve this ships page.

Notable events involving Kandahar include:


The page for this destroyer was last updated in August 2021.

11 Oct 1939
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed the Clyde for Portland (via Plymouth) to commence her work-up period there. (1)

12 Oct 1939
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) arrived at Plymouth. (1)

13 Oct 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Plymouth. HMS Kelly and HMS Kingston were to proceed towards the Downs for convoy escort duty. HMS Kandahar soon split off and proceeded to Portland to commence her work-up programme there.

HMS Kelly and HMS Kingston joined a convoy at 0800 hours. They remained with the convoy throughout the day. (2)

14 Oct 1939
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) commenced her work-up period at Portland.

[As no logbooks are available for HMS Kandahar few details can be given.]

18 Oct 1939
HMS H 31 (Lt. P.R. Ward, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Portland with HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and MA/SB's. (3)

20 Oct 1939
HMS H 49 (Lt. E.F. Balston, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Portland with HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN). (4)

27 Oct 1939
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) arrived at Plymouth from Portland after having completed her working up programme there.

At Plymouth she was taken in hand to repair some defects. (1)

2 Nov 1939
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Plymouth for Scapa Flow. (5)

3 Nov 1939
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow where she joined the Home Fleet. (5)

4 Nov 1939
The destroyers HMS Fearless (Cdr. K.L. Harkness, RN), HMS Foxhound (Lt.Cdr. P.H. Hadow, RN), HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Scapa Flow to join the force of Admiral Forbes (made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN, flying the flag of Admiral J.M. Forbes, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. E.N. Syfret, RN), battlecruiser HMS Hood (Capt. I.G. Glennie, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. C.S. Daniel, RN), HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN), HMS Fortune (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, RN), HMS Foxhound (Lt.Cdr. P.H. Hadow, RN), HMS Ivanhoe (Cdr. B. Jones, RN) and HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, RN)) at sea which they did the following day.

6 Nov 1939
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) returned to Scapa Flow. (5)

8 Nov 1939
Having effected some temporary repairs at Scapa Flow, HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN), departed Scapa Flow together with HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, RN) to search for a reported submarine in Yell Sound near Sullom Voe.

The submarine was not sighted and both destroyers put into Sullum Voe the following afternoon together with HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) which had been sent out from Scapa Flow on the 9th to also assist in the hunt. (6)

10 Nov 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Sullom Voe together shortly before 0900 hours to conduct another search off Yell Sound for the suspected submarine. They sighted nothing and arrived together at Scapa Flow around 0800/11.

HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, RN) also departed Sullom Voe but slightly earlier then the other two destroyers. She then patrolled of Fair Island and arrived at Scapa Flow around 1230/11. (7)

11 Nov 1939
In the afternoon HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) together conducted exercises at Scapa Flow. (6)

13 Nov 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) together conducted torpedo exercises at Scapa Flow. (6)

14 Nov 1939
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) together conducted exercises at Scapa Flow. (6)

16 Nov 1939
HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) are ordered to leave Scapa Flow and join the Home Fleet at sea.

HMS Kashmir was however unable to do so due to defects while HMS Kandahar was ordered to make rendez-vous with convoy HN 2 coming from Norway and then escort the west-coast section of three merchant ships together with HMS Isis (Cdr. J.C. Clouston, RN).

18 Nov 1939
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) returned to Scapa Flow. (5)

20 Nov 1939
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Scapa Flow to patrol off the Orkney's. She returned to Scapa Flow on 22 November. (5)

23 Nov 1939

Sinking of the armed merchant cruiser HMS Rawalpindi

Around midday on 21 November 1939 the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, escorted by the light cruisers Köln and Leipzig and the destroyers Z 11 / Bernd von Arnim, Z 12 / Erich Giese and Z 20 / Karl Galster, departed Wilhelmshaven for a raid into the North Atlantic, this was to relieve the pressure of the pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee operating in the South Atlantic. Late on the 21st the escorts left the battlecruisers.

Just after 1500 hours on 23 November the British armed merchant cruiser HMS Rawalpindi (Capt.(Retd.) E.C. Kennedy, RN) sighted the Scharnhorst. Rawalpindi was part of the British Northern Patrol and was stationed south-east of Iceland in the Iceland-Faroe gap. Captain Kennedy at first tried to outrun the German ship, to report to the Admiralty that he sighted the German pocket battleship Deutschland, still believed to be operating in the North Atlantic, and to buy time so that other ships of the Northern patrol could come to his assistance. Just after 1600 hours, Rawalpindi came within range of the Scharnhorst and was quickly reduced to a flaming wreck. During this engagement Scharnhorst was hit by a 6in shell from Rawalpindi causing only light damage. Scharnhorst and Gneisenau together picked up 27 survivors from the Rawalpindi which finally sank around 2000 hours.

The British light cruiser HMS Newcastle (Capt J. Figgins, RN), that was also part of the Northern Patrol, picked up Rawalpindi's signal and closed the scene. She sighted the Gneisenau but the Germans managed to escape in the fog.

The Admiralty also thought the ship sighted by Rawalpindi and Newcastle was the Deutschland that was trying to return to Germany. In response to the sighting and destruction of the Rawalpindi the Admiralty took immediate action;
The battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN, flying the flag of Admiral J.M. Forbes, KCB, DSO, RN) HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN) and the heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire (Capt. J.M. Mansfield, DSC, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. C.S. Daniel, RN), HMS Fame (Cdr. P.N. Walter, RN), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, RN), HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN), HMS Fortune (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, RN) and HMS Fury (Cdr. G.F. Burghard, RN) departed the Clyde to patrol of Norway to cut off the way to Germany for the Deutschland.

The light cruisers HMS Southampton (Capt. F.W.H. Jeans, CVO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral G.F.B. Edward-Collins, CB, KCVO, RN), HMS Edinburgh (Capt. F.C. Bradley, RN) and HMS Aurora (Capt. G.B. Middleton, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Afridi (Capt. G.H. Creswell, DSC, RN), HMS Gurkha (Cdr. F.R. Parham, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, RN) and HMS Isis (Cdr. J.C. Clouston, RN) departed Rosyth to patrol between the Orkney and Shetland islands.

Light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. E. de F. Renouf, CVO, RN) was sent from Loch Ewe to the last known position of the German ship(s).

On northern patrol, south of the Faroes were the light cruisers HMS Caledon (Capt. C.P. Clark, RN), HMS Cardiff (Capt. P.K. Enright, RN) and HMS Colombo (Capt. R.J.R. Scott, RN). These were joined by HMS Dunedin (Capt. C.E. Lambe, CVO, RN) and HMS Diomede (Capt. E.B.C. Dicken, RN).

Of the ships of the Denmark strait patrol, the heavy cruisers HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) and HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.G.B. Wilson, MVO, DSO, RN) were ordered to proceed to the Bill Bailey Bank (to the south-west of the Faroe Islands).

The light cruiser HMS Glasgow (Capt. F.H. Pegram, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Maori (Cdr. G.N. Brewer, RN) and HMS Zulu (Cdr. J.S. Crawford, RN) were already at sea patrolling north-east of the Shetlands were to be joined by the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, RN), HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, RN) and HMS Imogen (Cdr. E.B.K. Stevens, RN).

The light cruisers HMS Calypso (Capt. N.J.W. William-Powlett, DSC, RN) and HMS Ceres (Capt. E.G. Abbott, AM, RN) were stationed off Kelso Light to act as a night attack striking force. The destroyers HMS Somali (Capt. R.S.G. Nicholson, DSC, RN), HMS Ashanti (Cdr. W.G. Davis, RN), HMS Mashona (Cdr. P.V. McLaughlin, RN) and HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, RN) had just departed Belfast on escort duties. They were ordered to join Admiral Forbes. The ships they were escorting were ordered to return to Belfast.

The destroyers HMS Tartar (Lt.Cdr. D.E. Holland-Martin, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) departed Scapa Flow with orders to locate and shadow the German ships. HMS Tartar however had to return to Scapa Flow the next day due to a damaged rudder. The other two destroyers were ordered to join HMS Aurora which was to form a strike group of destroyers.

Despite the British effort to intercept the German ships, both German battlecruisers returned to Wilhelmshaven on the 27th.

27 Nov 1939
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) returned to Scapa Flow. (8)

28 Nov 1939
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Scapa Flow to search for a reported submarine west of the Orkney's in position 59°04’N, 03°30’W. The suspected submarine had been reported by aircraft at 1157/28.

Nothing was found and Kandahar then proceeded to join the Home Fleet at sea.

30 Nov 1939

Convoy HN 3

This convoy was assembled in Norwegian waters near Bergen on 30 November 1939 and arrived at Methil on 3 December 1939.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Albionic (British, 2468 GRT, built 1924), Amicus (British, 3660 GRT, built 1925), Asiatic (British, 3741 GRT, built 1923), Baltrover (British, 4916 GRT, built 1913), Bore III (Finnish, 1153 GRT, built 1915), Clarissa Radcliffe (British, 5754 GRT, built 1915), Eskdene (British, 3829 GRT, built 1934), Folda (British, 1165 GRT, built 1920), Glen Tilt (British, 871 GRT, built 1920), Kalev (Estonian, 1867 GRT, built 1917), King Edwin (British, 4536 GRT, built 1927), Majorca (British, 1126 GRT, built 1921), Mall (Estonian, 1863 GRT, built 1918), Ogmore Castle (British, 2481 GRT, built 1919), Sea Valour (British, 1950 GRT, built 1930), Stancourt (British, 965 GRT, built 1909), Thistleford (British, 4781 GRT, built 1928) and Treworlas (British, 4692 GRT, built 1922).

Escort (distant cover) was provided by the heavy cruiser HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN) and the light cruiser HMS Southampton (Capt. F.W.H. Jeans, CVO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral G.F.B. Edward-Collins, CB, KCVO, RN). HMS Suffolk was relieved by the light cruiser HMS Glasgow (Capt. F.H. Pegram, RN) on 2 December.

Close escort (A/S) was provided by the destroyers HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. St.J.A. Micklethwait, RN) and HMS Matabele (Cdr. G.K. Whitmy-Smith, RN).

Four of the merchant ships split off on 2 December for the west coast of the U.K. The destroyers HMS Isis (Cdr. J.C. Clouston, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) came from Scapa Flow to escort these ships.

1 Dec 1939
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) returned to Scapa Flow. She departed Scapa again later the same day for escort duty with the west coast section of convoy HN 3.

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Convoy HN 3 ' for 30 November 1939.]

HMS Kandahar returned to Scapa Flow on 3 December. (9)

2 Dec 1939
Early in the evening, HMS Hood (Capt. I.G. Glennie, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, RN), departed the Clyde to patrol north of the Faroer Islands to provide cover for ships of the Northern Patrol and convoy operations to and from Norway. She is escorted by HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, RN).

HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) later joined at sea, probably on the 4th or the 5th. She had sailed from Scapa Flow on 3 December.

In the afternoon of the 5th HMS Kashmir and HMS Khartoum parted company to refuel at Scapa Flow. They arrived there on the 6th and departed again the same day. They rejoined HMS Hood in the morning of the 7th after which HMS Kandahar and HMS Kingston parted company to refuel at Sullom Voe. They rejoined in the afternoon of the 8th. (10)

10 Dec 1939

Convoy TC 1.

This convoy of troopships departed Halifax at 0510 hours on 10 December 1939 for the Clyde where it arrived on 17 December 1939.

The convoy was made up of the following troopships / liners; Aquitania (British, 44786 GRT, built 1914, carrying 2638 troops), Duchess of Bedford (British, 20123 GRT, built 1928, carrying 1312 troops), Empress of Australia (British, 21833 GRT, built 1914, carrying 1235 troops), Empress of Britain (British, 42348 GRT, built 1931, carrying 1303 troops) and Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931, carrying 961 troops),

Close escort was provided on leaving Halifax by the battleship HMS Resolution (Capt. O. Bevir, RN) and the Canadian destroyers HMCS Fraser (Cdr. W.N. Creery, RCN), HMCS Ottawa (Capt. G.C. Jones, RCN), HMCS Restigouche (Lt.Cdr. W.B.L. Holms, RCN) and HMCS St. Laurent (Lt.Cdr. H.G. de Wolf, RCN). These Canadian destroyers remained with the convoy until 12 December 1939 when they set course to return to Halifax.

Cover for the convoy was provided by the battlecruiser HMS Repulse (Capt. E.J. Spooner, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. M.L. Clarke, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Emerald (Capt. A.W.S. Agar, VC, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Hunter (Lt.Cdr. L. de Villiers, RN) and HMS Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicholson, RN). At dusk on the 10th both destroyers were detached to join the local escort. They returned to Halifax with the Canadian destroyers.

Early on the 15th, HMS Emerald was detached, HMS Newcastle (Capt. J. Figgins, RN) had joined the cover force in the afternoon of the 14th to take her place.

When the convoy approached the British isles, the destroyers HMS Eskimo (Cdr. St.J.A. Micklethwait, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, RN), HMS Mashona (Cdr. P.V. McLaughlin, RN), HMS Somali (Capt. R.S.G. Nicholson, DSC, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Fearless (Cdr. K.L. Harkness, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, RN) and HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, RN) departed the Clyde on the 12th to sweep ahead of the convoy. HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN) was also to have sailed but was unable to join. HMS Matabele (Cdr. G.K. Whitmy-Smith, RN) was sailed in her place and later joined the other destroyers at sea.

After German warships had been reported in the North Sea, and concerned for the safety of convoy TC.1, Admiral Forbes, departed the Clyde on the 13th to provide additional cover with the battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. V.A.C. Crutchley, VC, DSC, RN), HMS Barham (Capt. H.T.C. Walker, RN), battlecruiser HMS Hood (Capt. I.G. Glennie, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, RN), HMS Imogen (Cdr. E.B.K. Stevens, RN), HMS Imperial, HMS Isis (Cdr. J.C. Clouston, RN) and HMS Foxhound (Lt.Cdr. P.H. Hadow, RN). The destroyers HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN) and HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, RN) sailed from Loch Ewe and later joined this force at sea. Three cruisers from the Northern Patrol were ordered to patrol in position 53°55’N, 25°00’W to provide cover for the convoy. These were the heavy cruisers HMS Berwick (Capt. I.M. Palmer, DSC, RN), HMS Devonshire (Capt. J.M. Mansfield, DSC, RN) and the light cruiser HMS Glasgow (Capt. F.H. Pegram, RN).

The light cruisers HMS Southampton (Capt. F.W.H. Jeans, CVO, RN), HMS Edinburgh (Capt. F.C. Bradley, RN) departed Rosyth to patrol between the Shetlands and the Faroes.

The destroyers HMS Afridi (Capt. G.H. Creswell, DSC, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr. G.N. Brewer, RN) and HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN) departed Rosyth and proceeded north at high speed to try to cut of the enemy warhips if they were to enter the Atlantic.

The light cruisers HMS Cardiff (Capt. P.K. Enright, RN), HMS Ceres (Capt. E.G. Abbott, AM, RN), HMS Delhi (Capt L.H.K. Hamilton, DSO, RN), HMS Diomede (Capt. E.B.C. Dicken, RN) which were on the Northern Patrol were to concentrate near the Faroes where they were joined by HMS Colombo (Capt. R.J.R. Scott, RN) and HMS Dragon (Capt. R.G. Bowes-Lyon, MVO, RN) which were on passage to their patrol stations.

Nothing happened and the convoy arrived safely in the Clyde on 17 December 1939. (11)

11 Dec 1939
Around mid-morning HMS Hood (Capt. I.G. Glennie, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, RN) arrived in the Clyde. (10)

17 Dec 1939
Around noon the battleship HMS Resolution (Capt. O. Bevir, RN), battlecruiser HMS Repulse (Capt. E.J. Spooner, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. M.L. Clarke, DSC, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. St.J.A. Micklethwait, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. St.J.A. Micklethwait, RN), HMS Matabele (Cdr. G.K. Whitmy-Smith, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, RN) and HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, RN) and HMS Fearless (Cdr. K.L. Harkness, RN) arrived at Greenock.

6 Jan 1940
After a period of repairs, HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), departed the Clyde for Scapa Flow. (9)

6 Jan 1940

Convoy ON 7.

Convoy ON 7 departed Methill on 6 January 1940 for Norway where it was dissolved off Bergen on 9 January 1940.

It was made up of the following merchant ships;
Breda (Norwegian, 1260 GRT, built 1915), Briarwood (British, 4019 GRT, built 1930), Ingerois (Finnish, 1995 GRT, built 1909), Leda (Finnish, 1283 GRT, built 1908), Otto (Estonian, 1959 GRT, built 1918), Sally (Finnish, 2547 GRT, built 1896) and Vestra (British, 1141 GRT, built 1921).

Escort was provided by the destroyers HMS Eskimo (Cdr. St.J.A. Micklethwait, DSO, RN), HMS Tartar (Lt.Cdr. D.E. Holland-Martin, DSC, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) and HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN). HMS Khartoum departed from Scapa Flow on the 7th and it therefore appears that she joined the convoy at sea on the 7th. HMS Eskimo developed engine problems and was replaced by HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN), Encounter herself was relieved on the 8th by HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) which had departed Scapa Flow on that day.

Also the submarine HMS Triton (Lt.Cdr. E.F. Pizey, RN) was part of the escort of the convoy.

Cover for this convoy was provided by the light cruisers HMS Glasgow (Capt. F.H. Pegram, RN) and HMS Edinburgh (Capt. C.M. Blackman, DSO, RN) which sailed from Rosyth on the 7th. (12)

7 Jan 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), arived at Scapa Flow from the Clyde. (9)

9 Jan 1940

Convoy HN 7

This convoy was assembled in Norwegian waters near Bergen on 9 January 1940 and arrived at Methil on 12 January 1940.

Convoy ON 7 arrived in Norwegian waters near Bergen. After a few hours convoy HN 7 departed for the U.K. The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Abisko (Swedish, 3088 GRT, built 1913), Activ (Norwegian, 507 GRT, built 1903), Basel (Norwegian, 1110 GRT, built 1924), Bauta (Norwegian, 1657 GRT, built 1919), Begonia (Estonian, 1591 GRT, built 1890), Bokn (Norwegian, 697 GRT, built 1890), Bolette (Norwegian, 1167 GRT, built 1920), Bollsta (Norwegian, 1832 GRT, built 1934), Burgos (Norwegian, 3220 GRT, built 1920), Corvus (Norwegian, 1317 GRT, built 1921), Elsa S. (Finnish, 1219 GRT, built 1910), Fintra (British, 2089 GRT, built 1918), Forsvik (Norwegian, GRT, 1248 built 1919), Gudvang (Norwegian, 1469 GRT, built 1912), Gudveig (Norwegian, 1300 GRT, built 1919), Hadrian (Norwegian, 1620 GRT, built 1919), Inari (Finnish, 2216 GRT, built 1900), Ivalo (Finnish, 2035 GRT, built 1902), Kaupanger (Norwegian, 1584 GRT, built 1930), Lysland (Norwegian, 1335 GRT, built 1907), Margo (British, 1245 GRT, built 1895), Merisaar (Estonian, 2136 GRT, built 1900), Merkur (Estonian, 1291 GRT, built 1913), Nordost (Swedish, 1035 GRT, built 1918), Risoy (Norwegian, 793 GRT, built 1918), Rolf (Swedish, 1120 GRT, built 1919), Salerno (British, 870 GRT, built 1924), Sarpfoss (Norwegian ,1493 GRT, built 1919), Skum (Norwegian, 1304 GRT, built 1916), Urd (Swedish, 1008 GRT, built 1922), Vestmanrod (Norwegian, 691 GRT, built 1919), Vienti (Finnish, 1915 GRT, built 1911), Vim (Norwegian, 1114 GRT, built 1913), Wanda (Finnish, 1902 GRT, built 1897), Wilke (Finnish, 2598 GRT, built 1909) and Wirpi (Finnish, 1227 GRT, built 1899).

Escort was provided by the destroyers HMS Tartar (Lt.Cdr. D.E. Holland-Martin, DSC, RN) (later relieved by HMS Maori (Cdr. G.N. Brewer, RN)), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN). HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, DSC, RN) later joined at sea. Also part of the escort was the submarine HMS Triton (Lt.Cdr. E.F. Pizey, RN).

Cover for this convoy, like with convoy ON 7, was provided by the light cruisers HMS Glasgow (Capt. F.H. Pegram, RN) and HMS Edinburgh (Capt. C.M. Blackman, DSO, RN).

HMS Kharthoum split off from the convoy on the 11th with five merchant vessels she was to take to the Clyde. Off Scapa Flow they were joined by two tankers; Arndale (RFA, 8296 GRT, built 1937) and Scottish American (6999 GRT, built 1920). They arrived in the Clyde on 13 January 1940. (12)

14 Jan 1940

Operation to intercept the disabled German merchant vessel Trautenfels.

On 14 January the German merchant vessel Trautenfels (6418 GRT, built 1921) was reported to be off the coast of Norway with her rudder lost and unable to steer.

The light cruiser HMS Aurora (Capt. G.B. Middleton, RN) departed Scapa Flow almost immediately the same day to try to intercept this vessel.

On the 15th the light cruiser HMS Manchester (Capt. H.H. Bousfield, RN) was also sailed from Scapa Flow for this purpose.

Also on the 15th the destroyers HMS Maori (Cdr. G.N. Brewer, RN), HMS Tartar (Lt.Cdr. D.E. Holland-Martin, DSC, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) sailed from Rosyth and the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, RN), HMS Kelvin (Lt.Cdr. J.L. Machin, RN), HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. R.G.K. Knowling, RN) departed the Clyde.

On the 16th yet another light cruiser was sailed from Scapa Flow, this was HMS Newcastle (Capt. J. Figgins, RN).

Shortly before 0200/16 the destroyers HMS Kelvin and HMS Kimberley collided with each other. Kimberely sustained no serious damage and proceeded to Scapa Flow. Kelvin was damaged and returned to the Clyde for repairs.

The operation was cancelled on the 17th when it was reported that the Trautenfels had arrived at Narvik being towed there by the German merchant vessel Rauenfels (8460 GRT, built 1928).

HMS Aurora and HMS Manchester then proceeded to patrol to the south-east of Iceland.

HMS Maori, HMS Tartar and HMS Inglefield were ordered on the 17th to patrol off the Norwegian coast to intercept German ore ships coming from the north.

HMS Newcastle returned to Scapa Flow on the 18th.

17 Jan 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) returned to Rosyth from operations, she was then taken in hand for repairs. (9)

5 Feb 1940
HMS Repulse (Capt. E.J. Spooner, DSO, RN) departed the Clyde for Plymouth (Devonport Dockyard). She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN) and HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN).

At sea they were joined by HMS Isis (Cdr. J.C. Clouston, RN).

The next day they were joined by HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) which apparently took the place of HMS Forester in the screen as this destroyer returned to the Clyde that day (6 February 1940). HMS Kandahar had departed Rosyth on 4 February, having completed her repairs there. (13)

7 Feb 1940
HMS Repulse (Capt. E.J. Spooner, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) arrived at Plymouth.

HMS Isis (Cdr. J.C. Clouston, RN) had been detached off Falmouth where she was to refit.

HMS Repulse then commenced a short refit at Plymouth. (13)

8 Feb 1940

Convoy HN 10.

This convoy was formed off Bergen, Norway on 8 February 1940. It arrived at Methil on 11 February 1940.

This convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Ada Gorthon (Swedish, 2405 GRT, built 1917), Asgerd (Norwegian, 1308 GRT, built 1924), Avance I (Norwegian, 1300 GRT, built 1912), Briarwood (British, 4019 GRT, built 1930), Brisk (Norwegian, 1838 GRT, built 1913), C.A. Banck (Swedish, 1838 GRT, built 1913), Castor (Norwegian, 1683 GRT, built 1920), Dagmar Bratt (Swedish, 1421 GRT, built 1920), Edda (Swedish, 1451 GRT, built 1919), Edle (Norwegian, 654 GRT, built 1916), Falken (Swedish, 1308 GRT, built 1893), Frisia (Swedish, 1059 GRT, built 1909), Gallia (Swedish, 1436 GRT, built 1926), Glen Tilt (British, 871 GRT, built 1920), Gunny (Panamanian, 1367 GRT, built 1882), Halse (Norwegian, 2136 GRT, built 1910), Hermes (Estonian, 1545 GRT, built 1901), Karen (Norwegian, 750 GRT, built 1900), Keret (Norwegian, 1718 GRT, built 1927), Kuressaar (Estonian, 2283 GRT, built 1914), Lake Lucerne (Estonian, 2317 GRT, built 1909), Meero (Estonian, 1866 GRT, built 1918), Minorca (British, 1123 GRT, built 1921), Nea (Norwegian, 1877 GRT, built 1921), P.G. Halvorsen (Norwegian, 1101 GRT, built 1912), Raftsund (Norwegian, 610 GRT, built 1919), Rask (Norwegian, 632 GRT, built 1890), Regin (Norwegian, 1386 GRT, built 1917), Salonica (Norwegian, 2694 GRT, built 1912), Selbo (Norwegian, 1778 GRT, built 1921), Sjofna (Norwegian, 619 GRT, built 1918), Sollund (Norwegian, 941 GRT, built 1908), Stargard (Norwegian, 1113 GRT, built 1915), Ubari (Estonian, 1392 GRT, built 1899), Uranus (Estonian, 1329 GRT, built 1906), Varmdo (Swedish, 2956 GRT, built 1901), Vienti (Finnish, 1715 GRT, built 1911) and Wirma (Finnish, 2609 GRT, built 1903).

Escort was provided by the destroyers HMS Delight (Cdr. M. Fogg-Elliott, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC, RN), HMS Imogen (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN) and the submarine HMS Narwhal (Lt.Cdr. E.R.J. Oddie, RN).

The convoy was split into two sections on the 10th. The west coast section was joined by the destroyers HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. R.G.K. Knowling, RN). On this day the HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN) departed the Clyde to meet this section and take over escort duties from the other destroyers on the 11th. This section of the convoy arrived in the Clyde on the 12th.

9 Feb 1940
HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Plymouth for the Clyde.

10 Feb 1940
HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) arrived in the Clyde from Plymouth.

They departed again later the same day with HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN) to take over the escort of the west coast section (12 ships) of convoy HN 10 [see the event: ' Convoy HN 10 ' for 8 February 1940 for the details of this convoy.] coming from Norway from HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. R.G.K. Knowling, RN) the next day.

HMS Kingston was detached on the 11th to hunt a submarine off Dubh Artach. (14)

12 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) returned to the Clyde from escort duty. (14)

13 Feb 1940
HMS Kelvin (Lt.Cdr. J.L. Machin, 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. (14)

16 Feb 1940
Between 1225 and 1306 hours, HMS Kelvin (Lt.Cdr. J.L. Machin, RN), HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), joined the armed merchant cruiser HMS Circassia (Capt.(Retd.) H.G.L. Oliphant, DSO, RN) on the northern patrol. (15)

19 Feb 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow from operations with the Northern Patrol. (9)

19 Feb 1940
A group of German warships departed Wilhelmshaven to attack allied shipping between the Shetland Isands and Bergen (Operation 'Nordmark'). This force was made up of the battleships Gneisenau and Scharnhorst, heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper and the destroyers Z 9 / Wolfgang Zenker, Z 20 / Karl Galster and Z 21 / Wilhelm Heidkamp. Wolfgang Zenker however had to return shortly after sailing due to ice damage.

In response the Admiralty sailed the battleship HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN, flying the flag of Admiral J.M. Forbes, KCB, DSO, RN), battlecruiser HMS Hood (Capt. I.G. Glennie, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN), HMS Fearless (Cdr. K.L. Harkness, RN), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, DSC, RN), HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN), HMS Fortune (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO, RN), HMS Foxhound (Lt.Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN) and HMS Fury (Cdr. G.F. Burghard, RN) from the Clyde. HMS Hardy (Capt. B.A. Warburton-Lee, RN) departed from the Clyde later the same day to overtake while HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN) sailed from Scapa Flow. On the 20th two more destroyers sailed from Scapa Flow to join the force at sea, these were; HMS Tartar (Cdr. L.P. Skipwith, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN).

The German C-in-C was forced to abandon his mission as his seaplanes were unable to be operated in the bad weather and course was set to return to Germany where they arrived back on the 20th. (14)

25 Feb 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow. (16)

26 Feb 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Kelvin (Lt.Cdr. J.L. Machin, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. R.G.K. Knowling, RN) departed Scapa Flow for the Clyde. (9)

27 Feb 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Kelvin (Lt.Cdr. J.L. Machin, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. R.G.K. Knowling, RN) arrived in the Clyde from Scapa Flow. (9)

29 Feb 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Greenock. She returned the following day. [No further details known for the moment.] (17)

2 Mar 1940
At 1600 hours the battlecruiser HMS Hood (Capt. I.G. Glennie, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, RN), battleship HMS Valiant (Capt. H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Sikh (Cdr. J.A. Giffard, RN), HMS Faulknor (Capt. C.S. Daniel, RN), HMS Fame (Cdr. P.N. Walter, RN) and HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN) departed the Clyde area to provide cover for convoy operations to and from Norway.

3 Mar 1940
At 1330 hours, the force made up of HMS Hood (Capt. I.G. Glennie, RN, flying the flag of W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, RN), battleship HMS Valiant (Capt. H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Sikh (Cdr. J.A. Giffard, RN), HMS Faulknor (Capt. C.S. Daniel, RN), HMS Fame (Cdr. P.N. Walter, RN) and HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN) was off North Minch when in position 58°27'N, 05°46'W, HMS Forester obtained an A/S contact and attacked it. Four more attacks were made between 1240 and 1500 hours during which HMS Forester was joined by HMS Fame. HMS Forester remained in the area of the attacks for around a day before rejoining the force.

Shorty after 2130 hours HMS Kelly obtained and attacked an A/S contact in position 61°06'N, 03°58'W. Contact was lost after the attack and HMS Kelly immediately rejoined the force.

Only one German U-boat was in the general area, operating to the north of Scotland, this was U-38 but she was not attacked on this day so all the contact must have been bogus.

7 Mar 1940
Around 1600 hours, HMS Hood (Capt. I.G. Glennie, RN, flying the flag of W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, RN), battleship HMS Valiant (Capt. H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Sikh (Cdr. J.A. Giffard, RN), HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN), HMS Fame (Cdr. P.N. Walter, RN) and HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow.

9 Mar 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Hull where she was to be taken in hand for structural repairs and refit. (9)

10 Mar 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) arrived at Hull. (9)

5 May 1940
Having completed her repairs and refit, HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Hull for Rosyth. (9)

6 May 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) arrived at Rosyth. (9)

7 May 1940
At 2200 hours, the troopship Chobry (Polish, 11442 GRT, built 1939") departed Leith for the Narvik area. She is being escorted by the destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, RN).

On the 8th these destroyers were relieved by the destroyers HMS Somali (Capt. R.S.G. Nicholson, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Escort (Lt.Cdr. J. Bostock, RN) which had departed Scapa Flow at 1230/8.

HMS Kandahar and HMS Hostile then returned to Rosyth at high speed but before they entered harbour they were ordered to join HMS Birmingham and a group of destroyers (see the event for 9 May 1940 for the continuation of events.] (18)

9 May 1940
A group of German auxiliary minelayers with escorts has been reported to be west of Jutland, Denmark in position 56°39'N, 03°37'E. At 0900 hours the light cruiser HMS Birmingham (Capt. A.C.G. Madden, RN) and the destroyers HMS Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicolson, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Havock (Lt.Cdr. R.E. Courage, RN) and HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN) departed Rosyth to intercept and attack them. Off Rosyth they were joined by four more destroyers; HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, RN), HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, RN). HMS Kimberley however was short of fuel and she was soon sent to Rosyth.

At 1200 hours the destroyers HMS Mohawk (Cdr. J.W.M. Eaton, RN), HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN), HMS Fury (Cdr. E.W.B. Sim, RN), HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN) and HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Wisden, RN) were sent from Scapa Flow to proceed to position 57°21'N, 02°33'E to intercept a group of German motor torpedo boats that had been reported and then join the 'Rosyth force'.

When HMS Kandahar obtained an A/S contact she and HMS Kelly were ordered to hunt it down. They were later joined by HMS Bulldog who had lost touch with her group.

At 2230 hours HMS Kelly was torpedoed and badly damaged by the German motor torpedo boat S 31 in position 56°48'N, 05°09'E. She was taken in tow by HMS Bulldog.

Shortly after midnight on the 10th the German motor torpedo boat S 33 collided in thick fog with HMS Bulldog and HMS Kelly. She was not able to inflict damage to the destroyers but she sustained heavy damage herself from the collision.

The destroyers HMS Kandahar, HMS Gallant and HMS Fury were ordered to escort HMS Bulldog and HMS Kelly.

At daylight on the 10th Kelly's wounded were transferred to HMS Kandahar. She had also suffered 27 casualties during the attack.

The light cruisers HMS Manchester (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN) and HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN) departed Scapa Flow at 0330/10 to provided cover for the damaged destroyer and her escorts. They joined at 1400/10. By that time also coastal command Hudson aircraft were patrolling overhead.

Shorlty before 0930/10, HMS Birmingham, HMS Hyperion, HMS Hostile, HMS Hereward, HMS Havock, HMS Foresight and HMS Kimberley (this last one had apparently joined by this time having fuelled at Rosyth) were ordered to proceed towards Terschelling. They arrived at Harwich later on the 10th.

HMS Kandahar was detached to refuel and land the wounded at Rosyth before sailing again to rejoin the damaged destroyer. She arrived at Rosyth of the 11th and departed again later the same day.

Shortly after 1600/11, HMS Manchester and HMS Sheffield parted company and proceeded to Rosyth where they arrived in the evening.

At 0500/12 the tugs Watermeyer and Brahman arrived at relieved HMS Bulldog from towing the damaged destroyer about two hours later.

HMS Kelly in tow of the Watermeyer and Brahman and screened by HMS Bulldog, HMS Fury, HMS Gallant and HMS Kandahar arrived at the Tyne at 1730/13.

She was then sent to her builders yard at Hebburn-on-Tyne for major repairs. This was now the third time in a little over 8 months that HMS Kelly was at a dockyard for major repairs.

14 May 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed the Tyne for Portsmouth. She was selected to serve with the Mediterranean Fleet. (9)

15 May 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) arrived at Portsmouth. (9)

16 May 1940
HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, RN), HMS Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicolson, RN), HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN) departed Portsmouth for Gibraltar. They were to proceed to the Mediteranean to join the Mediterranean Fleet as relations were Italy were rapidly declining.

18 May 1940
HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, RN), HMS Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicolson, RN), HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN) arrived at Gibraltar from Portsmouth.

19 May 1940
HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, RN), HMS Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicolson, RN), HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN) departed Gibraltar for Malta.

21 May 1940
HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, RN), HMS Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicolson, RN), HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN) arrived at Malta from Gibraltar.

They all departed again later the same day for Alexandria except for HMS Hostile.

23 May 1940
HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicolson, RN), HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN) arrived at Alexandria from Malta.

24 May 1940
HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN), HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN) shifted from Alexandria to Suez. They were to proceed to the Red Sea.

25 May 1940
HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN), HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN) transited the Suez Canal after which they set course for Aden.

28 May 1940
HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN) arrived at Aden where they joined the Red Sea Force.

HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN) also joined the Red Sea Force but remained in the Perim area to join the Perim Patrol.

31 May 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN) departed Aden to relieve their sister ships HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN) on the Perim patrol. (9)

5 Jun 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN) returned to Aden from the Perim Patrol. (19)

10 Jun 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Aden for patrol. (19)

15 Jun 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) returned to Aden from patrol. (19)

20 Jun 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Aden. She put a prize crew on board the captured Italian submarine Galileo Galilei which was then taken to Aden under her own power.

HMS Kandahar remained on patrol. (19)

21 Jun 1940
At 0438 hours, an A/S search was commenced over Arab shoal to search for an Italian submarine reported to be in the area. The ships that participated in this search were; HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN), HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN), HMS Flamingo (Cdr. J.H. Huntley, RN) and HMS Shoreham (Lt.Cdr. F.D. Miller, RN).

At 1115 hours, HMS Khartoum and HMS Kingston, obtained an A/S contact and a submarine hull was seen under water.

At 1130 hours HMS Khartoum fired a depth charge pattern followed 15 minutes later by a second depth charge pattern. Contact was lost after this attack.

At 1421 hours the search sheme had been completed without regaining contact. The destroyers were then ordered to seach the shallow water to the south-east of Marsha Island while the sloops were ordered to search the shallow water to the west of Ras Bir. It was believed that the depth charge attacks by HMS Khartoum had damaged the enemy submarine. The sloops were unable to conduct a search of their assigned area due to a sandstorm which reduced visibility to two cables.

At 1843 hours the destroyers lost touch with HMS Shoreham due to this sandstorm. All ships then proceeded towards the Brothers Islands keeping well clear of the coast. (20)

23 Jun 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN) arrived at Aden to land their prisoners from the Italian submarine Evangelista Torricelli.

HMS Kandahar departed Aden again later the same day to resume her patrol. (21)

23 Jun 1940

Convoy BN 1.

This convoy departed Bombay on 23 June 1940 for the Suez where it arrived on 12 July 1940.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Akbar (British, 4043 GRT, built 1924), Alavi (British, 3566 GRT, built 1924), Anna Odland (Norwegian, 4980 GRT, built 1939), Beaconstreet (British, 7467 GRT, built 1927), British Architect (British (tanker), 7388 GRT, built 1922), British Hope (British (tanker), 6951 GRT, built 1928), Svenor (Norwegian (tanker), 7616 GRT, built 1931), Turbo (British, 4781 GRT, built 1912) and William Strachan (Norwegian (tanker), 6157 GRT, built 1931).

On departure from Bombay the convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Ceres (Capt. E.G. Abbott, AM, RN) and the armed merchant cruiser HMS Cathay (A/Capt.(Retd.) C.M. Merewether, RN).

HMS Cathay parted company with the convoy on 2 July after the light cruiser HMNZS Leander (Capt. H.E. Horan, RN) and sloops HMIS Hindustan (Cdr. G.V.G. Beamish, RIN) and HMS Shoreham (Cdr. G.P. Claridge, RN) had joined the escort.

HMS Ceres parted company with the convoy on 4 July.

The destroyer HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN) joined the convoy on 5 July 1940. HMIS Hindustan then parted company.

Off Aden the merchant vessels Alavi and Beaconstreet parted company with the convoy. They arrived at Aden on 6 July.

Off Aden the RFA tanker Plumleaf (5916 GRT, built 1917) and the armed boarding vessel HMS Chakdina (Lt.Cdr. W.R. Hickey, RNR) also joined the convoy.

Also off Aden the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN), destroyer HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and sloop HMS Flamingo (Cdr. J.H. Huntley, RN) joined the convoy.

On 9 July HMS Carlisle, HMS Kandahar and HMS Kingston parted company with the convoy.

On 10 July HMNZS Leander, HMS Flamingo and HMS Shoreham parted company with the convoy being relieved as escorts by the sloops HMS Clive (Cdr. H.R. Inigo-Jones, RIN) and HMS Grimsby (Cdr. K.J. D'Arcy, RN). (22)

23 Jun 1940
Continuation of events of 22 June 1940.

At 0210 hours HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN), HMS Khartoum (Cdr. D.T. Dowler, RN) and HMS Shoreham (Lt.Cdr. F.D. Miller, RN) parted company with HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN) after a sweep up the Straits of Bab-el-Mandep had revealed no sign of the ememy submarine nor of enemy surface vessels that were thought to might have come to the submarines aid. HMS Kandahar and HMS Kingston were then joined by HMS Flamingo (Cdr. J.H. Huntley, RN) and HMS Shoreham (Lt.Cdr. F.D. Miller, RN) to search in the Large Perim Strait. HMS Khartoum was detached to search the Small Perim Strait.

At 0410 hours HMS Kingston sighted a submarine on the surface proceeding up the strait and illuminated it with a searchlight. The submarine immediately dived and a search sheme to the eastwards was organised as it was thought that the submarine, knowing it had been sighted, might try to reach the deeper water of the open sea rather then the shallow water of the strait.

At 0530 hours, HMS Kingston sighted the submarine on the surface to the west-north-west. She turned and opened fire with her 4.7" guns soon followed by HMS Kandahar and HMS Kharthoum, the last one meanwhile had rejoined her sister ships. A gun battle then followed. HMS Shoreham meanwhile also closed the submarine and was engaged by the enemy with her deck gun. Two shells fell close ahead of Shoreham.

0553 hours, HMS Kandahar hit the enemy submarine on the forward casing. The enemy then stopped, ceased fire and started to settle in the water. The submarine crew abandoned ship and took to the water. The British ships then closed the submarine and started to pick up survivors at 0606 hours. A total of 53 survivors were picked up, four Italians were dead and two missing presumed killed.

At 0619 hours the enemy submarine sank beneath the waves. She had been scuttled by her crew to prevent capture. The submarine turned out to be the Evangelista Torricelli (Capitano di Corvetta (Lt.Cdr.) Salvatore Pelosi).

0647 hours - The destroyers then made off for the Gulf of Tajura as ordered to search for another enemy submarine but then the Italian Commanding Officer stated that it had been his submarine that had been attacked there the day before. HMS Kandahar and HMS Kingston then set course for Aden to land the survivors (They arrived later the same day) while HMS Kharthoum resumed the Perim patrol. She was lost later the same day (see above).

24 Jun 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) returned to Aden from patrol. (19)

26 Jun 1940
RAF reconnaissance reported a large Italian ship leaving Assab and proceeding Northwards. HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN) which was on patrol was ordered to intercept but she did not sighted the reported ship.

She however did encounter the Italian submarine Perla which was returning to Massawa from patrol. HMS Kingston then opened fire on her. The submarine crash dived and was then hunted and depth charged by HMS Kingston.

The light cruiser HMNZS Leander (Capt. H.E. Horan, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.J.L. Murray, DSO, OBE, RN) and the destroyer HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Aden to search for the wreckage of the submarine which was thought to have been probably sunk and also to invite action with Italian surface ships.

The submarine was located on the 27th laying beached midway between Assab and Messina. It was then bombarded and bombed. No enemy surface craft were encountered but Leander, Kandahar and Kingston were shadowed by enemy aircraft and also bombed by them but they sustained no damage. It was thought the beached submarine was either a total-loss or if not it would at least take months to repair her. [Perla was indeed out of action for months, She ran post repair trials in mid-December.] (23)

1 Jul 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) returned to Aden from patrol. (19)

2 Jul 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Aden either for patrol or to join te light cruiser HMS Liverpool (Capt. P.A. Read, RN) which was en-route from Suez to Aden with troops. (21)

3 Jul 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) returned to Aden. (19)

6 Jul 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Aden most likely for convoy escort duty [see the event ' Convoy BN 1 ' for 23 June 1940 for more info on this convoy]. (24)

7 Jul 1940

Convoy BS 1.

This convoy departed Suez on 7 July 1940 for the Gulf of Aden where it was to be dispersed on 15 July 1940.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Almenara (British, 1851 GRT, built 1922), Arabistan (British, 5874 GRT, built 1929), Athelmere (British (tanker), 5566 GRT, built 1918), British Colonel (British (tanker), 6999 GRT, built 1921), British Commodore (British (tanker), 6865 GRT, built 1923), Bronxville (Norwegian, 4663 GRT, built 1929), Bullmouth (British (tanker), 7519 GRT, built 1929), Cliftonhall (British, 5063 GRT, built 1938), Egyptian Prince (British, 3490 GRT, built 1922), Ganges (British, 6246 GRT, built 1930), Ganymedes (Dutch, 2682 GRT, built 1917), Gogra (British, 5190 GRT, built 1919), Herstein (Norwegian, 5100 GRT, built 1939), Khandalla (British, 7018 GRT, built 1923), Khosrou (British, 4043 GRT, built 1924), Orwell (Norwegian (tanker), 7920 GRT, built 1905), Ross (British, 4878 GRT, built 1936) and Zamzam (Egyptian, 8299 GRT, built 1909).

On departure from Suez the convoy was escorted by the sloops HMS Clive (Cdr. H.R. Inigo-Jones, RIN) and HMS Grimsby (Cdr. K.J. D'Arcy, RN).

On 10 July 1940, HMIS Clive and HMS Grimsby parted company with the convoy as escort was taken over by the light cruiser HMNZS Leander (Capt. H.E. Horan, RN), AA-cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN), destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN) and the sloops HMS Shoreham (Cdr. G.P. Claridge, RN) and HMS Flamingo (Cdr. J.H. Huntley, RN).

The merchant vessel Khosrou parted company (on the 10th ?) to proceed to Port Sudan arriving there on the 11th. (22)

9 Jul 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) arrived at Port Sudan after escort duty with convoy BN 1. She departed again later the same day for escort duty with convoy BS 1 [for more info on this convoy see the event ' Convoy BS 1 ' for 7 July 1940]. (9)

14 Jul 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) returned to Aden after convoy escort duty. (19)

15 Jul 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Aden, most likely for patrol [no further details known]. (25)

17 Jul 1940

Convoy BN 2.

This convoy departed Bombay on 17 July 1940 for the Suez where it arrived on 5 August 1940.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; British Consul (British (tanker), 6940 GRT, built 1924), Clydefield (British (tanker), 7365 GRT, built 1928), Cornwall (British, 10605 GRT, built 1920), Daviken (Norwegian, 2922 GRT, built 1926), Ellenga (British, 5196 GRT, built 1911), Germa (Norwegian, 5282 GRT, built 1920), Grena (Norwegian (tanker), 8117 GRT, built 1934), Hoegh Hood (Norwegian (tanker), 9351 GRT, built 1936), Jalarashimi (British, 4449 GRT, built 1918), Jehangir (British, 3566 GRT, built 1924),Longwood (British (tanker), 9463 GRT, built 1930), Nawab (British, 5430 GRT, built 1915), Olivia (Dutch (tanker), 6307 GRT, built 1939), Ranee (British, 5060 GRT, built 1928) and Varsova (British, 4701 GRT, built 1914).

On departure from Bombay the convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Ceres (Capt. E.G. Abbott, AM, RN) and the armed merchant cruisers HMS Cathay (A/Capt.(Retd.) C.M. Merewether, RN) and HMAS Westralia (Cdr. A.S. Rosenthal, RAN).

On 20 July two of the merchant ships parted company with the convoy to proceed to other destinations, these were the tankers British Consul (to Trincomalee) and Clydefield (to Colombo).

On 26 July the armed merchant cruisers HMS Cathay and HMAS Westralia parted company with the convoy while the light cruiser HMNZS Leander (Capt. H.E. Horan, RN) joined the convoy.

On 27 July the sloops HMIS Hindustan (Cdr. G.V.G. Beamish, RIN) and HMS Shoreham (Cdr. G.P. Claridge, RN) joined the convoy to provided A/S escort while the convoy was approaching Aden.

On the 29th the merchant vessels Jerhangir and Varsova split off from the convoy and proceeded to Aden escorted by HMS Ceres.

The following merchant ships joined the convoy at Aden; Beaconstreet (British, 7467 GRT, built 1927), British Judge (British (tanker), 6735 GRT, built 1921), Marija Petrinovic (Yugoslavian, 5684 GRT, built 1918), Mathura (British, 8890 GRT, built 1920), Ozarda (British, 6985 GRT, built 1940) and Peshawur (British, 7934 GRT, built 1919).

On 30 July the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN), destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN) and the sloop HMS Flamingo (Cdr. J.H. Huntley, RN) joined the convoy to escort it partly through the Red Sea. HMIS Hindustan and HMS Shoreham parted company with the convoy on 30 July.

On 3 August the following merchant vessels split off to proceed to Port Sudan; Daviken, Grena, Marija Petrinovic and Ozarda. They were escorted to there by HMS Kimberley.

Also on 3 August 1940 HMS Leander, HMS Carlisle, HMS Kandahar and HMS Flamingo parted company with the convoy, while the sloop HMS Clive (Cdr. H.R. Inigo-Jones, RIN) joined the convoy to escort it on it's last leg to Suez.

18 Jul 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) returned to Aden. (25)

25 Jul 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Aden. She returned the following day [no further details known]. (19)

30 Jul 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Aden for convoy escort duty [see the event ' Convoy BN 2 ' for 17 July 1940 for more information on this convoy]. (25)

31 Jul 1940

Convoy BS 2.

This convoy departed Suez on 31 July 1940 for the Gulf of Aden where it was to be dispersed on 9 August 1940.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; African Prince (British, 4653 GRT, built 1939), Deebank (British, 5060 GRT, built 1929), Esneh (British, 1928 GRT, built 1919), Hopecastle (British, 5178 GRT, built 1937), Manaqui (British, 2802 GRT, built 1921), Masirah (British, 6578 GRT, built 1919), Novasli (Norwegian, 3204 GRT, built 1920), Ovula (Dutch (tanker), 6256 GRT, built 1938) Tweed (British, 2697 GRT, built 1926) and William Strachan (Norwegian (tanker), 6157 GRT, built 1931).

On depature from Aden the convoy was escorted by the sloops HMS Clive (Cdr. H.R. Inigo-Jones, RIN) and HMS Grimsby (Cdr. K.J. D'Arcy, RN) until position 21°30'N, 63°37'E on 3 August.

Two more merchant vessels joined the convoy coming from Port Sudan on 3 August, these were the Akbar (British, 4043 GRT, built 1924) and Trajanus (Dutch, 1712 GRT, built 1930).

Escort was then taken over by the light cruiser HMNZS Leander (Capt. H.E. Horan, RN), AA-cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN), destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN) and the sloop HMS Flamingo (Cdr. J.H. Huntley, RN).

The convoy was dispersed on 9 August 1940. Three of the merchant vessels proceeded to Aden as did the escorts. (22)

3 Aug 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) arrived at Port Sudan from convoy escort duty. She departed again later the same day to escort convoy BS 2 [see the event ' Convoy BS 2 ' for 31 July 1940 for more information on this convoy]. (19)

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.

----------------------------------------------------

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.

----------------------------------------------------

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.

----------------------------------------------------

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. (26)

9 Aug 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) returned to Aden from convoy escort duty. (27)

10 Aug 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Aden, most likely for patrol [no further details known]. (28)

13 Aug 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) returned to Aden. (28)

14 Aug 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Aden, most likely for patrol [no further details known]. (28)

16 Aug 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) returned to Aden. She departed again later the same day for Berbera. (28)

16 Aug 1940
From 16 to 19 August 1940, Allied troops from Berbera, Italian Somaliland, were evacuated to Aden.

The troops were evacatuated by the transports Akbar (4043 GRT, built 1924), Laomedon (6491 GRT, built 1912), the hospital ship Vita (4691 GRT, built 1914) as well as the armed boarding vessels HMS Chakdina (Lt.Cdr. W.R. Hickey, RNR) and HMS Chantala (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) C.E.I. Gibbs, RN).

Cover for the evacuation was provided by the light cruisers HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN), HMS Caledon (Capt. C.P. Clarke, RN), HMS Ceres (Capt. E.G. Abbott, AM, RN), AA -cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN), destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN), sloops HMS Auckland (Cdr. J.G. Hewitt, DSO, RN), HMS Shoreham (Cdr. G.P. Claridge, RN), HMAS Parramatta (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Walker, MVO, RAN), HMS Indus (Cdr. Cdr. E.G.G. Hunt, RIN), HMIS Hindustan (Cdr. G.V.G. Beamish, RIN), minesweeper HMS Derby (Lt.Cdr. F.C.V. Brightman, RN) and the netlayer HMS Protector (Capt. W.Y la L. Beverley, RN).

On 17 August, HMS Ceres bombarded Italian Army targets which temporarily halted the Italian advance.

On 18 August, HMS Caledon and HMS Kandahar bombarded enemy units on the Bulhar-Berbera road.

The evacuation was completed on the 18th. Over 7000 men had been evacuated.

The last men were taken off by HMAS Hobart which Berbera early on the 19th for Aden with the last of the Army personnel and the demolition parties which had demolished the harbour facilities. HMS Indus proceeded along the coast to pick up stragglers. (22)

18 Aug 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Berbera for Aden. (9)

19 Aug 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) arrived at Aden. (28)

20 Aug 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Aden for patrol [no further details known]. (28)

25 Aug 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) returned to Aden from patrol. (28)

31 Aug 1940
The light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN) and the destroyer HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Aden to rendez-vous at sea with the armed merchant cruiser HMS Carthage (Capt.(Retd.) B.O. Bell-Salter, RN) and take over the escort of the two ships she is escorting. These were the merchant vessels Clan Ferguson (British, 7347 GRT, built 1938) and Reina del Pacifico (British, 17702 GRT, built 1931). They were to proceed to Suez. The armed boarding vessel HMS Chakdina (Lt.Cdr. W.R. Hickey, RNR) was also part of the escort.

In the early evening of September 2nd, the Reina del Pacifico parted company and proceeded ahead to Suez where she arrived on the 4th.

Shortly afterwards, HMS Kandahar set course for Port Sudan to refuel.

At 0900/3, rendez-vous was made in position 23°20'N, 37°42'E with convoy BS 3A which came down from Suez. Escorts were then exchanged and both convoy's proceeded to their destinations. (22)

1 Sep 1940

Convoy BS 3A.

This convoy departed Suez on 1 September 1940 for the Gulf of Aden where it was to be dispersed on 6 September 1940.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Devonshire (British, 11275 GRT, built 1939), Dilwara (British, 11080 GRT, built 1936), Egra (British, 5108 GRT, built 1911), Khedive Ismael (Egyptian, 7290 GRT, built 1922), Lancashire (British, 9557 GRT, built 1917), Rajula (British, 8478 GRT, built 1926), Rohna (British, 8602 GRT, built 1926), Takliwa (British, 7936 GRT, built 1924) and Talamba (British, 8018 GRT, built 1924).

On departure from Suez the convoy was escorted by the sloop HMS Grimsby (Cdr. K.J. D'Arcy, RN).

In the morning of 3 September the escort was passed to the light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN).

The following moring the destroyer HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and the armed boarding vessel HMS Chakdina (Lt.Cdr. W.R. Hickey, RNR) joined the convoy as escorts.

On the 5th the convoy was attacked by Italian aircraft but no damage was inflicted by the enemy.

The convoy was dispersed early in the evening of September 6th in position 12°34'N, 47°07'E after which HMS Hobart and HMS Kandahar proceeded to Aden where they arrived in the morning of the 7th. (22)

3 Sep 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) arrived at Port Sudan to refuel. Having done so she departed again to make rendez-vous with convoy BS 3A later this day. (9)

7 Sep 1940
HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) arrived at Aden after convoy escort duty. (22)

10 Sep 1940

Convoy AP 3.

This convoy departed Liverpool on 10 September 1940 for Suez where it arrived on 22 October 1940.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Athlone Castle (British, 25564 GRT, built 1936), Brisbane Star (British, 12791 GRT, built 1937), Brittanic (British, 26943 GRT, built 1930), Clan Campbell (British, 7255 GRT, built 1937), Clan MacArthur (British, 10528 GRT, built 1936), Dominion Monarch (British, 27155 GRT, built 1939), Durban Castle (British, 17388 GRT, built 1938), Glaucus (British, 7596 GRT, built 1921), Imperial Star (British, 12427 GRT, built 1935) and Ulster Prince (British, 3791 GRT, built 1930).

On departure from the U.K. the convoy was escorted by the destroyers 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), HMS Volunteer (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN) and HMS Wolverine (Cdr. R.H. Craske, RN). They remained with the convoy until 12 September.

In the morning of 11 September the light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN) joined the convoy until 0745/12.

Ocean escort joined around the time the destroyers left and was made up of the armed merchant cruisers HMS Cicilia (Capt.(Retd.) V.B. Cardwell, OBE, RN) and HMS Wolfe (A/Capt.(Retd.) W.G.A. Shuttleworth, RN). They remained with the convoy until it arrived at Freetown on 23 September 1940.

From 25 September 1940 to 4 October 1940, when the convoy arrived at Capetown, it was escorted by the armed merchant cruisers HMS Canton (Capt. G.D. Belben, DSC, RN) and HMS Carnarvon Castle (Capt.(Retd.) H.N.M. Hardy, DSO, RN).

On departure from Capetown on 6 October, the convoy was escorted by HMS Canton until 9 October when she was relieved by HMS Carthage (Capt.(Retd.) B.O. Bell-Salter, RN). This armed merchant cruiser remained with the convoy until 15 October when she was relieved by the heavy cruiser HMS Shropshire. (Capt. J.H. Edelsten, RN) which remained with the convoy until 20 October.

On 18 October the convoy was near Aden and the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN), destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN) and sloop HMS Flamingo (Cdr. J.H. Huntley, RN) joined.

The escort parted company with the convoy on 20 October except HMS Kandahar which remained with the convoy until it's arrival at Suez two days later. On arrival at Suez two more ships were escorting the convoy, these were the sloop HMIS Clive (Cdr. H.R. Inigo-Jones, RIN) and the minesweeper HMS Stoke (Cdr.(Retd.) C.J.P. Hill, RN). Presumably these had joined on 20 October.

11 Sep 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Aden for escort duty with convoy WS 2 [see the event ' Convoy WS 2 ' for 6 August 1940 for more info on this convoy]. (29)

14 Sep 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) arrived at Port Sudan from escort duty with convoy WS 2. She had parted company with this convoy in the evening of the 13th.

After oiling she departed again later on the 14th.

At 1600/14 she joined the light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN) which was escorting the southbound troopship Reina del Pacifico (British, 17702 GRT, built 1931). (9)

16 Sep 1940
HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) arrived at Aden after convoy escort duty. (22)

19 Sep 1940

Convoy BN 5A.

This convoy departed Bombay on 19 September 1940 for Suez where it arrived on 29 September 1940.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Empress of Japan (British, 26032 GRT, built 1930), Orion (British, 23371 GRT, built 1935) and Ormonde (British, 14982 GRT, built 1917).

On departure escort was provided by the light cruiser HMS Colombo (Capt. C.A.E. Stanfield, RN) and the armed merchant cruiser HMS Kanimbla (A/Capt. F.E. Getting, RAN).

The Ormonde was not ready to depart on the 19th and she departed one day later with orders to overtake the convoy. Until she made rendez-vous with the convoy she was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Antenor (Capt.(Retd.) D.I. McGillewie, RN).

The convoy arrived off Aden on 25 September and HMS Kanimbla was relieved as escort by the light cruiser HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D. McCarthy, RN), AA cruiser HMS Coventry (Capt. D. Gilmour, RN), destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN) and sloop HMS Flamingo (Cdr. J.H. Huntley, RN).

Light cruiser HMNZS Leander (Capt. H.E. Horan, RN) had also been with the convoy (briefly) but parted company on 26 September 1940.

On 27 September the southbound convoy SW 1 was sighted and the destroyers HMS Kandahar, HMS Kimberley and sloop HMS Flamingo joined that convoy as escorts. The convoy then continued northwards escorted by HMS Ajax and HMS Coventry.

Çonvoy BN 5A arived at Suez safely on 29 September 1940. (22)

20 Sep 1940
Convoy AP 21, coming from the U.K. via the Cape, passed Aden for it's last leg through the Red Sea to Suez.

The convoy was made up of the troopships / transports; Denbighshire (British, 8983 GRT, built 1938), Duchess of Bedford (British, 20123 GRT, built 1928) and Waiotira (British, 12823 GRT, built 1939).

The convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN), AA cruiser HMS Coventry (Capt. D. Gilmour, RN) and the destroyers HMS Diamond (Lt.Cdr. P.A. Cartwright, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN).

Coventry and Kandahar parted company with the convoy during the passage and returned to Aden where they arrived on the 24th and 23rd respecively. Hobart and Diamond continued with the convoy to Suez where it arrived on the 24th.

22 Sep 1940

Convoy US 5.

This convoy departed Fremantle on 22 September 1940 for Suez where it arrived on 12 October 1940.

The convoy was made up of the following troopships; Christiaan Huygens (Dutch, 16287 GRT, built 1927), Indrapoera (Dutch, 10825 GRT, built 1925), Nieuw Holland (Dutch, 11066 GRT, built 1927) and Slamat (Dutch, 11636 GRT, built 1924).

On departure from Fremantle the convoy was escorted by the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia (Capt. R.R. Stewart, RN). The convoy proceeded via Colombo. On 2 October 1940 HMAS Australia was relieved by the heavy cuiser HMS Shropshire. (Capt. J.H. Edelsten, RN).

On 8 October 1940 the convoy was off Aden where HMS Shorpshire parted company with the convoy and the light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN), AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN), destroyer HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and the sloop HMS Flamingo (Cdr. J.H. Huntley, RN).

The escort remained with the convoy until 10 October 1940 when they joined te southbound convoy SW 2. [See the event ' Convoy SW 2 ' for 8 October 1940 for more info on this convoy.] (22)

24 Sep 1940

Convoy SW 1.

This convoy departed Suez on 24 September 1940 for Durban where it arrived on 8 October 1940.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Andes (British, 25689 GRT, built 1939), California Star (British, 8300 GRT, built 1938), Empress of Britain (British, 42348 GRT, built 1931), Empress of Canada (British, 21517 GRT, built 1922), Franconia (British, 20175 GRT, built 1923), Otranto (British, 20026 GRT, built 1925), Strathaird (British, 22281 GRT, built 1932) and Suffolk (British, 11145 GRT, built 1939).

On the 25th the convoy was joined by the light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN) as escort.

In the morning of the 26th the destroyer HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN) joined the escort. She came from Port Sudan.

In the morning of the 27th the destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN) and sloop HMS Flamingo (Cdr. J.H. Huntley, RN) joined the convoy having just parted company with the northbound convoy BN 5A.

The convoy arrived off Aden on the 28th where the armed merchant cruiser HMS Kanimbla (A/Capt. F.E. Getting, RAN) took over the escort.

Also the merchant vessel California Star left the convoy and proceeded to Aden.

The transport Otranto proceeded to Mombasa, arriving there on 4 October.

The convoy arrived at Durban on 8 October 1940. (22)

25 Sep 1940
Light cruiser HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D. McCarthy, RN), AA cruiser HMS Coventry (Capt. D. Gilmour, RN), destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN) and sloop HMS Flamingo (Cdr. J.H. Huntley, RN) departed Aden to join convoy BN 5A as escort.

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Convoy BN 5A ' for 19 September 1940.] (22)

29 Sep 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) returned to Aden from convoy escort duty. She departed Aden again later the same day. Presumably for the Perim Patrol.

[See the events ' Convoy BM 5A ' for 19 September 1940 and ' Convoy WS 1 ' for 24 September 1940 respectively for more info.] (9)

30 Sep 1940

Convoy US 5A.

This convoy departed Sydney on 30 September 1940 for Suez where it arrived on 2 November 1940.

The convoy was made up of the following troopships; Johan de Witt (Dutch, 10474 GRT, built 1920), Nieuw Zeeland (Dutch, 11069 GRT, built 1928).

These two ships first proceeded to Fremantle from where they left on 7 October escorted by the light cruiser HMAS Perth (Capt. P.W. Bowyer-Smith, RN) to position 27°00'N, 109°50'E from where the heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN) took over taking the convoy to Colombo where it arrived on 17 October.

On 21 October the convoy left Colombo for Aden escorted by the light cruiser HMS Caledon (Capt. C.P. Clarke, RN). The convoy arrived off Aden on 28 October where the merchant vessels City of Capetown (British, 8046 GRT, built 1937), Clan Campbell (British, 7255 GRT, built 1937), Ulster Prince (British, 3791 GRT, built 1930) and Varsova (British, 4701 GRT, built 1914) joined the convoy as did the following escort vessels; heavy cruiser HMS Shropshire. (Capt. J.H. Edelsten, RN), AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN), destroyer HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and the sloop HMS Flamingo (Cdr. J.H. Huntley, RN).

On 30 October the Ulster Prince was detached to Port Sudan. She left there the next day to proceed independently to Suez.

The convoy arrived at Suez on 2 November escorted by HMS Kandahar. The other escorts had parted company on 30 October. (22)

3 Oct 1940
Late in the evening HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) returned to Aden. (30)

4 Oct 1940
Around 0530 hours HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Aden. She returned to Aden around 1900 hours. [Nu further details available.] (31)

8 Oct 1940
HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN), HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and HMS Flamingo (Cdr. J.H. Huntley, RN) all departed Aden to join convoy US 5 as escort through the southern part of the Red Sea.

See the event ' Convoy US 5 ' for 22 September 1940 for more info on this convoy.

8 Oct 1940

Convoy SW 2.

This convoy departed Suez on 8 October 1940 for Durban where it arrived on 22 October 1940.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Amra (British, 8314 GRT, built 1938), Duchess of Bedford (British, 20123 GRT, built 1928), Empress of Japan (British, 26032 GRT, built 1930), Orion (British, 23371 GRT, built 1935), Ormonde (British, 14982 GRT, built 1917), Sydney Star (British, 12696 GRT, built 1936) and Waiotira (British, 11090 GRT, built 1939).

On departed from Suez the convoy was apparently not escorted.

On 9 October 1940 two more ships joined the convoy. These came from Port Sudan. They were the merchant vessels Karoa (British, 7009 GRT, built 1915) and Talamba (British, 8018 GRT, built 1924).

On 10 October the light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN), AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN), destroyer HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and the sloop HMS Flamingo (Cdr. J.H. Huntley, RN) for onward escort until off Aden.

These ships parted company on the 12th when the convoy was joined by the heavy cruiser HMS Shropshire. (Capt. J.H. Edelsten, RN).

This heavy cruiser escorted the convoy until 04.50'N, 30.00'E where the armed merchant cruiser HMS Carthage (Capt.(Retd.) B.O. Bell-Salter, RN) took over.

The convoy arrived at Durban on 22 October 1940 minus three merchant vessels which had proceeded to other destinations; Amra and Waiotira proceeded to Bombay and Colombo respectively while Ormonde arrived at Mombasa on 18 October. (22)

12 Oct 1940
HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN), HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and HMS Flamingo (Cdr. J.H. Huntley, RN) arrived at Aden from convoy escort duty.

[See the events ' convoy US 5 ' and ' convoy WS 2 ' for 22 September 1940 and 8 October 1940 respectively for more information on the convoy's they had been escorting.]

18 Oct 1940
HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN) and HMS Flamingo (Cdr. J.H. Huntley, RN) departed Aden to join the escort of convoy AP 3.

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Convoy AP 3 ' for 10 September 1940.] (22)

22 Oct 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) arrived at Suez from convoy escort duty. She departed again later the same day [no further details known.] She might have been escorting southbound ships which did not sail in convoy. (32)

26 Oct 1940
Shortly after noon HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) arrived at Aden. [No further details known.] (33)

28 Oct 1940
HMS Shropshire. (Capt. J.H. Edelsten, RN), HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and HMS Flamingo (Cdr. J.H. Huntley, RN) departed Aden for convoy escort duty. [See the event ' Convoy US 5A ' for 30 September 1940 for more info on the convoy they were to escort.

2 Nov 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) arrived at Aden with convoy US 5A. She departed again later the same day [no further details known.] (34)

5 Nov 1940
At 1650 hours, HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), arrived at Aden. (35)

7 Nov 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Aden for Bombay. (34)

13 Nov 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) arrived at Bombay for a docking and repairs. (34)

18 Nov 1940

Convoy WS 4B.

This convoy departed Liverpool / the Clyde on 17/18 November 1940 for Suez where it arrived on 28 December 1940.

The convoy was made up of the troopships; Andes (British, 25689 GRT, built 1939), Duchess of Atholl (British, 20119 GRT, built 1928), Empress of Canada (British, 21517 GRT, built 1922), Orcades (British, 23456 GRT, built 1937), Otranto (British, 20026 GRT, built 1925), Reina del Pacifico (British, 17702 GRT, built 1931), Strathaird (British, 22281 GRT, built 1932), Strathallan (British, 23722 GRT, built 1938), Strathnaver (British, 22283 GRT, built 1931) and Viceroy of India (British, 19627 GRT, built 1929).

The convoy was formed at sea at 0830/18 when the two sections made rendez-vous west of Oversay Light.

The convoy was escorted by the heavy cruiser HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.J.L. Phillips, RN), light cruiser HMS Edinburgh (Capt. C.M. Blackman, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Highlander (Cdr. W.A. Dallmeyer, RN), HMCS Ottawa (Cdr. E.R. Mainguy, RCN), HMCS St. Laurent (Lt. H.S. Rayner, RCN), HMCS Saguenay (Cdr. G.R. Miles, RCN), HMCS Skeena (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Hibbard, RCN), HMS Bath (Cdr.(Retd.) A.V. Hemming, RN) and HMS St. Albans (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) S.G.C. Rawson, RN).

The AA cruiser HMS Cairo (Capt. P.V. McLaughlin, RN) joined at 0945/18.

An additional destroyer, HMS St. Marys (Lt. K.H.J.L. Phibbs, RN), joined the convoy in the afternoon of the 18th.

Destroyers HMS Bath, HMS St. Albans and HMS St. Marys parted company with the convoy at 1730/19 followed by HMS Cairo one hour later.

Destroyer HMS Highlander parted company with the convoy at 0900/20 followed at 1800/20 by the four Canadian destroyers.

Heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire (Capt. R.D. Oliver, DSC, RN) joined the convoy at 1300/23. HMS Norfolk parted company with the convoy at 1600/23 and proceeded to patrol east of the Azores.

The convoy arrived at Freetown on 29 November 1940 escorted by HMS Devonshire and HMS Edinburgh.

--------------------------------------------------

The convoy departed Freetown on 1 December 1940 escorted by HMS Devonshire and HMS Cumberland (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN).

HMS Cumberland parted company with the convoy late in the morning of December 4th having been relieved by HMS Hawkins (Capt. H.P.K. Oram, RN).

HMS Hawkins was detached with orders to proceed to Simonstown in the morning of December 8th.

The convoy arrived at Durban on 12 December 1940 escorted by HMS Devonshire.

--------------------------------------------------

The convoy departed Durban on 16 December 1940 escorted by HMS Devonshire and HMS Shropshire (Capt. J.H. Edelsten, RN).

At 1000/18, the light cruiser HMS Southampton (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN) took over from HMS Devonshire. This last cruiser then set course to return to Durban.

The convoy arrived near Aden on 25 December 1940 but it did not enter the port. HMS Southampton was briefly detached to fuel at Aden after which she rejoined the convoy. The escort was reinforced with the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN). HMS Shropshire was then detached from the convoy and entered Aden.

HMS Carlisle and HMS Kimberey parted company with the convoy on 27 December 1940 and joined a southbound convoy.

The convoy arrived at Suez on 28 December 1940 escorted by HMS Southampton and HMS Kandahar. (36)

28 Nov 1940

Convoy US 7.

This convoy departed Fremantle on 28 November 1940 for Suez where it arrived on 15 December 1940.

The convoy was made up of the following troopships; Batory (Polish, 14287 GRT, built 1936), Orion (British, 23371 GRT, built 1935), Stratheden (British, 23722 GRT, built 1937) and Strathmore (British, 23428 GRT, built 1935).

On departure from Fremantle the convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMAS Perth (Capt. P.W. Bowyer-Smith, RN). Later on the day of departure the convoy was joined by the heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN).

On 3 December 1940, HMAS Canberra was relieved by HMS Capetown (Capt. P.H.G. James, RN).

On 5 December 1940 the convoy arrived at Colombo.

The convoy and escort (still HMAS Perth and HMS Capetown) departed Colombo to continue it's passage to Suez.

On 11 December 1940, HMAS Perth was relieved by HMS Caledon (Capt. C.P. Clarke, RN). HMAS Perth then proceeded to Aden to fuel arriving and leaving there on 12 December 1940 to rejoin the convoy. Also from Aden on the 12th additional escorts joined the convoy, these were the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN). Both C-class cruisers then parted company with the convoy.

HMS Kingston parted company with the convoy oround midnight during the night of 13/14 December.

The following morning HMAS Perth, HMS Carlisle parted company with the convoy to join southbound convoy BS 10A. US 7 then continued on to Suez escorted by HMS Kandahar. US 7 arrived at Suez on 15 December 1940.

1 Dec 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Bombay for Aden. (34)

4 Dec 1940

Convoy BS 10.

This convoy departed Suez on 4 December 1940 for the Gulf of Aden where it was dispersed on 11 December 1940.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Alice Moller (British, 4986 GRT, built 1914), Arena (Norwegian (tanker), 6362 GRT, built 1927), British Endurance (British (tanker), 8406 GRT, built 1936), British Hope (British (tanker), 6951 GRT, built 1928), British Renown (British (tanker), 6997 GRT, built 1928), British Sailor (British (tanker), 5576 GRT, built 1918), City of Evansville (British, 6528 GRT, built 1922), City of Lille (British, 6588 GRT, built 1928), Clan MacArthur (British, 10528 GRT, built 1936), Imperial Star (British, 12427 GRT, built 1935), Ioannis P. Goulandris (Greek, 3750 GRT, built 1910), Katingo Hadjipatara (Greek, 3661 GRT, built 1913), Katy (Norwegian, 6825 GRT, built 1931), Khosrou (British, 4043 GRT, built 1924), Lancashire (British, 9557 GRT, built 1917), Marcella (British, 4592 GRT, built 1928), Margot (British, 4545 GRT, built 1926), Perthshire (British, 10496 GRT, built 1936), Rosalie Moller (British, 3963 GRT, built 1910), Roxane (British, 7813 GRT, built 1929), Speybank (British, 5154 GRT, built 1926) and Vacport (British, 6774 GRT (tanker), built 1930).

They were escorted on departure from Suez by the sloops HMS Grimsby (Cdr. K.J. D'Arcy, RN) and HMS Clive (Cdr. H.R. Inigo-Jones, RIN).

On 7 December 1940 five ships joined coming from Port Sudan. These were; Ayamonte (British, 845 GRT, built 1899), Elpis (Greek, 3651 GRT, built 1912), Helen Moller (British, 5259 GRT, built 1918), Takliwa (British, 7936 GRT, built 1924) and Wayfarer (British, 5068 GRT, built 1925).

They had left Port Sudan on the 6th.

On the 8th convoy escort was taken over by the light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN), destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN) and sloops HMS Auckland (Cdr. J.G. Hewitt, DSO, RN) and HMS Indus (Cdr. Cdr. E.G.G. Hunt, RIN).

On the 9th AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN) joined.

The convoy was dispersed on the 11th.

5 Dec 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) arrived at Aden following a docking and repairs at the Bombay Royal Dockyard. (34)

7 Dec 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Aden for convoy escort duty with convoy BS 10 coming southwards from Suez. [See the event ' Convoy BS 10 ' for 4 December 1940 for more info on this convoy.] (34)

11 Dec 1940
At 0640 hours, HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), arrived at Aden from convoy escort duty. (37)

12 Dec 1940
At 1020 hours, HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Aden to join convoy US 7 for passage northwards throug the Red Sea.

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Convoy US 7 ' for 28 November 1940.] (37)

18 Dec 1940
The merchant vessels President Doumer (British, 11898, built 1935) and El Madina (British / Indian, 3962, built 1937) departed Suez with troops for Port Sudan. They were escorted by HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN). They arrived at Port Sudan on 20 December 1940. (22)

20 Dec 1940
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) arrived at Port Sudan with the two troop laden merchant vessels. She then left Port Sudan for Aden. At sea she made rendez-vous with HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN). (38)

22 Dec 1940
Around 0900 hours, HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), arrived at Aden. (37)

25 Dec 1940
HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN) joined northbound convoy WS 4B to escort it though the Red Sea.

[For more info on this convoy, see the event 'Convoy WS 4B' for 18 November 1940.] (22)

28 Dec 1940
Convoy WS 4B arrived at Suez. It was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Southampton (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN), AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN).

[For more info on this convoy, see the event 'Convoy WS 4B' for 18 November 1940.]

1 Jan 1941

Convoy SW 4A.

This convoy departed Suez on 1 January 1941 for the Gulf of Aden where it was dispersed on 6 January 1941.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Highland Monarch (British, 14139 GRT, built 1928), Memnon (British, 7506 GRT, built 1931), Stirling Castle (British, 25550 GRT, built 1936) and Zamzam (Egyptian, 8299 GRT, built 1909).

On departure from Suez the convoy was escorted by the destroyer HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN).

Further escort vessels joined on 2 and 4 January, these were the light cruiser HMS Caledon (Capt. C.P. Clarke, RN) and the sloops HMS Shoreham (Cdr. G.P. Claridge, RN) (as of 2 January) and HMS Auckland (Cdr. E.G. Hewitt, DSO, RN).

The convoy was dispersed in the Gulf of Aden on 6 January. (39)

6 Jan 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) arrived at Aden after convoy escort duty in the Red Sea. (9)

7 Jan 1941

Convoy WS 5B

This convoy departed U.K. ports on 7 January 1941 for variuos ports in the Far East and Mediterranean (see below).

The convoy was made up of the following troop transports; Arundel Castle (British, 19118 GRT, built 1921), Athlone Castle (25564 GRT, built 1936), Britannic (British, 26943 GRT, built 1930), Capetown Castle (British, 27002 GRT, built 1938), Duchess of Bedford (British, 20123 GRT, built 1928), Duchess of Richmond (British, 20022 GRT, built 1928), Duchess of York (British, 20021 GRT, built 1929), Durban Castle (British, 17388 GRT, built 1938), Empress of Australia (British, 21833 GRT, built 1914), Empress of Japan (British, 26032 GRT, built 1930), Franconia (British, 20175 GRT, built 1923), Highland Chieftain (British, 14131 GRT, built 1929), Highland Princess (British, 14133 GRT, built 1930), Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931), Nea Hellas (British, 16991 GRT, built 1922), Orbita (British, 15495 GRT, built 1915), Ormonde (British, 14982 GRT, built 1917), Pennland (Dutch, 16082 GRT, built 1922), Samaria (British, 19597 GRT, built 1921), Winchester Castle (British, 20012 GRT, built 1930) and Windsor Castle (British, 19141 GRT, built 1922).

Four of these ships departed Avonmouth on 7 January and six sailed from Liverpool. These ships anchored in Moelfre Bay for several days as the eleven ships that were to be sailed from the Clyde could not do so due to thick fog.

The Avonmouth (Bristol Channel) section of the convoy had been escorted to Moelfre Bay by the destroyer HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. R.L.S. Gaisford, RN).

The Liverpool section was escorted to Moelfre Bay by the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia (Capt. R.R. Stewart, RN) and the destroyers HMS Harvester (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, DSC, RN), HMS Highlander (Cdr. W.A. Dallmeyer, DSO, RN) and HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN).

The ships and their escorts anchored in Moelfre Bay from 8 to 11 January. The escorts remained there for A/S patrol and AA protection and were joined by the destroyer HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN) which had departed Liverpool on the 8th and the light cruiser HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RN) which came from the Clyde.

When it became clear that the ships from the Clyde were finally able to sail the ships in Moelfre Bay sailed for Lough Foyle (near Londonderry, Northern Ireland) to take on board additional water.

The ships from Lough Foyle and the Clyde made rendez-vous at sea on 12 January and course was then set to Freetown.

The convoy was now escorted by the battleship HMS Ramillies (Capt. A.D. Read, RN), heavy cruiser HMAS Australia, light cruisers HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN), HMS Naiad, destroyers HMS Jackal (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Harvester, HMS Highlander, HMS Fearless (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN), HMS Beagle (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Wright, DSC, RN), HMS Witherington, HMS Watchman (Lt.Cdr. E.C.L. Day, RN), HMS Vansittart, HMS Lincoln (Cdr. A.M. Sheffield, RN), HMS Leamington (Cdr. W.E. Banks, DSC, RN) and Léopard (Lt.Cdr. J. Evenou).

On 14 January the destroyers HMS Witherington and FFS Leopard parted company.

The light cruiser HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN) departed Plymouth on 12 January. She joined the convoy around noon on the 15th. Shortly afterwards HMS Naiad then parted company with the convoy and proceeded to Scapa Flow where she arrrived around 1430/17.

HMS Phoebe and HMS Fearless also parted company with the convoy escorting the Capetown Castle and Monarch of Bermuda to Gibraltar where they arrived in the afternoon of the 18th. On the 17th they were joined by the destroyer HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN) and on the 18th by two more destroyers; HMS Duncan (A/Capt. A.D.B. James, RN) and HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN).

At Gibraltar the two troopships took on board troops from the damaged troopship Empire Trooper. They departed Gibraltar for Freetown on 19 January being escorted by the destroyers HMS Fury, HMS Fearless and HMS Duncan until 21 January when they parted company. Both troopships arrived at Freetown on 26 January escorted by HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN) and HMS Forester.

Meanwhile convoy WS 5B had coninued its passage southwards.

On the 16 January all remaining destroyers parted company.

HMS Ramillies parted company with the convoy on 17 January.

The troopship / liner Duchess of York was apparently detached at some point.

When approaching Freetown local A/S vessels started to join the convoy. On 21 January the corvettes HMS Asphodel (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) K.W. Stewart, RN) and HMS Calendula (Lt.Cdr. A.D. Bruford, RNVR) joined and the next day the destroyer HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN) also joined the convoy. Finally on 24 January the destroyer HMS Vidette (Lt. E.N. Walmsley, RN) also joined the convoy.

On 25 January 1941 the convoy arrived at Freetown escorted by HMAS Australia, HMS Emerald, HMS Velox, HMS Vidette, HMS Asphodel and HMS Calendula.

The convoy departed Freetown on 29 January with the addition of troop transport Cameronia (British, 16297 GRT, built 1920) still escorted by HMAS Australia and HMS Emerald. A local A/S force remained with the convoy until 1 February and was made up of the destroyers HMS Faulknor, HMS Forester, sloop HMS Milford (Capt.(Retd.) S.K. Smyth, RN) and the corvettes HMS Clematis (Cdr. Y.M. Cleeves, DSC, RD, RNR) and HMS Cyclamen (Lt. H.N. Lawson, RNR).

HMS Emerald arrived at Capetown on 8 February escorting Arundel Castle, Athlone Castle, Capetown Castle, Duchess of Bedford, Durban Castle, Empress of Australia, Empress of Japan, Monarch of Bermuda and Winchester Castle. The light cruiser then went to Simonstown.

HMAS Australia arrived at Durban on 11 February with Britannic, Cameronia, Duchess of Richmond, Franconia, Highland Chieftain, Highland Princess, Nea Hellas, Ormonde, Pennland, Samaria and Windsor Castle.

The Capetown section departed that place on 12 February and the Durban section on 15 February after which a rendez-vous of Durban was effected.

On 21 February the troopships Empress of Australia, Empress of Japan, Ormonde and Windsor Castle were detached to Mombasa escorted by HMS Emerald. They arrived at Mombasa on 22 February. In the approaches to Mombasa the convoy was joined by the destroyer HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN).

The remainder of the convoy continued on Suez escorted by HMS Australia and HMS Hawkins (Capt. H.P.K. Oram, RN) which joined the convoy shortly before HMS Emerald and the four troopships for Mombasa were detached, arriving on 3 March. The sloop HMAS Parramatta (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Walker, MVO, RAN) provided A/S escort during the passage through the Red Sea. The convoy arrived at Suez on 3 March 1941.

The 'Mombasa section' meanwhile departed there on 24 February as convoy WS 5X now escorted by light cruiser HMS Enterprise (Capt. J.C. Annesley, DSO, RN). On 27 February light cruiser HMS Capetown (Capt. P.H.G. James, RN) joined this convoy as additional escort. The convoy arrived at Bombay on 3 March 1941.

Convoy WS 5X, now made up of the troopship Aquitania (British, 44786 GRT, built 1914) and Empress of Japan, departed Bombay for Singapore on 5 March escorted by HMS Enterprise. The convoy was joined on 8 March by the light cruiser HMS Durban (Capt. J.A.S. Eccles, RN). HMS Enterprise left the convoy on 9 March. The convoy arrived at Singapore on 11 March.

11 Jan 1941

Convoy BN 12A.

This convoy departed Aden on 11 January 1941 for Suez where it arrived on 15 January 1941.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Boringia (British, 5821 GRT, built 1930), Chinese Prinsei (British, 8593 GRT, built 1936), City of Bombay (British, 7140 GRT, built 1937), City of Pretoria (British, 8049 GRT, built 1937), Port Halifax (British, 5820 GRT, built 1937) and Shahristan (British, 6935 GRT, built 1938).

On departure from Aden the convoy was escorted by the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN).

On the 13th the merchant vessel Dunera (British, 11162 GRT, built 1937) joined the convoy coming from Port Sudan.

In the afternoon of the 13th the sloop HMS Grimsby (Cdr. K.J. D'Arcy, RN) joined the convoy and the destroyers HMS Kandahar and HMS Kimberley parted company.

On the 14th, HMS Carlisle parted company with the convoy and joined a southbound convoy.

The convoy arrived at Suez on 15 January 1941 escorted by HMS Grimsby. (39)

12 Jan 1941

Convoy SW 4B.

This convoy departed Suez on 12 January 1941 for Durban where it arrived on 25 January 1941.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Andes (British, 25689 GRT, built 1939), Duchess of Atholl (British, 20119 GRT, built 1928), Dunedin Star (British, 11168 GRT, built 1936), Empress of Canada (British, 21517 GRT, built 1922), Orcades (British, 23456 GRT, built 1937), Otranto (British, 20026 GRT, built 1925), Strathaird (British, 22281 GRT, built 1932), Strathallan (British, 23722 GRT, built 1938), Strathnaver (British, 22283 GRT, built 1931) and Viceroy of India (British, 19627 GRT, built 1929).

On departure from Suez the convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMAS Sydney (Capt. J.A. Collins, CB, RAN). However, HMAS Sydney had been delayed in her passage through the Suez Canal and had to overtake the convoy. As the convoy was to the East of her intended route it was not found on HMAS Sydney only joined the convoy in the morning of the 14th.

Three more escorts joined the convoy in the morning of the 14th; the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN).

Late on the 15th HMAS Sydney arrived at Aden with the Empress of Canada. They had been detached from the convoy late on the 14th. After fuelling of HMAS Sydney and the Empress of Canada embarking some passengers they left again to rejoin the convoy.

Early on the 16th HMS Kimberley was detached from the convoy and proceeded to Aden where she arrived early in the afternoon.

In the late afternoon of the 16th, HMS Carlisle and HMS Kandahar parted company with th convoy and proceeded to Aden arriving in the morning of the 17th.

Some ships from the convoy split off to proceed to India while the ones from South Africa continued on escorted by HMAS Sydney until this cruiser was relieved on the 20th by HMS Ceres (Capt. E.G. Abbott, AM, RN).

The convoy arrived at Durban on 25 January 1941. (39)

13 Jan 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN) arrived at Port Sudan from escorting a northbound convoy. They departed again later the same day to join the escort of a southbound convoy.

[See the event ' Convoy BN 12A ' for 11 January 1941 for more info on the northbound convoy and ' Convoy SW 4B ' for 12 January 1941 for more info on the southbound convoy.]

16 Jan 1941

Convoy US 8A.

This convoy departed Colombo on 16 January 1941 for Suez where it arrived on 28 January 1941.

The convoy was made up of the following troopships / merchant vessels; Christiaan Huygens (Dutch, 16287 GRT, built 1927), Devonshire (British, 11275 GRT, built 1939), Dilwara (British, 11080 GRT, built 1936), Dominion Monarch (British, 27155 GRT, built 1939), Indrapoera (Dutch, 10825 GRT, built 1925), Johan de Witt (Dutch, 10474 GRT, built 1920), Lancashire (British, 9557 GRT, built 1917), Nevassa (British, 9213 GRT, built 1913), Nieuw Zeeland (Dutch, 11069 GRT, built 1928), Rajula (British, 8478 GRT, built 1926), Rohna (British, 8602 GRT, built 1926) and Slamat (Dutch, 11636 GRT, built 1924).

On departure from Colombo the convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Capetown (Capt. P.H.G. James, RN) and the armed merchant cruiser HMS Antenor (Capt.(Retd.) D.I. McGillewie, RN). The heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN) provided cover to the south of the convoy until the 18th after which she returned to Colombo on 19 January 1941. While berthing there she hit a pier and sustained some damage.

On 22 January the convoy escort was taken over by the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN).

On 23 January two more merchant vessels joined the convoy coming from Aden, these were the City of Lincoln (British, 8039 GRT, built 1938) and the Thurland Castle (British, 6372 GRT, built 1929). They were escorted by the sloop HMAS Yarra (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Harrington, RAN).

On the 24th HMS Capetown rejoined the convoy.

Early in the evening of 26 January HMS Carlisle and HMAS Yarra parted company with the convoy to proceed to Port Sudan where they arrived the following day. HMS Capetown and HMS Kimberley also parted company with the convoy to proceed to Aden where they arrived on the 28th.

On the 27th the sole remaining escort, HMS Kandahar was relieved by HMS Grimsby (Cdr. K.J. D'Arcy, RN). HMS Kandahar then proceeded to Port Sudanwhere she arrived on the 28th.

The convoy arrived at Suez also on 28 January 1941. (39)

17 Jan 1941
HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) returned to Aden from convoy escort duty.

22 Jan 1941
HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN) departed Aden for escort duty with convoy US 8A.

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Convoy US 8A ' for 16 January 1941.]

25 Jan 1941

Convoy BS 13A.

This convoy departed Suez on 25 January 1941 for the Gulf of Aden where it was dispersed on 1 February 1941.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; British Sovereign (British (tanker), 3657 GRT, built 1917), City of Christchurch (British, 6009 GRT, built 1915), City of Florence (British, 6862 GRT, built 1918), Clan MacDonald (British, 9653 GRT, built 1939), Delius (British, 6065 GRT, built 1937), Dunera (British, 11162 GRT, built 1937), Harpalycus (British, 5629 GRT, built 1935), Port Wyndham (British, 11005 GRT, built 1935) and Waiwera (British, 12435 GRT, built 1934).

Another merchant vessel later joined the convoy, this was the Rahmani (British, 5463 GRT, built 1928) which came from Jeddah.

On departure from Suez the convoy was escorted by HMS Grimsby (Cdr. K.J. D'Arcy, RN) until 28 January 1941 when HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and HMAS Yarra (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Harrington, RAN) took over.

Also three of the merchant vessels were detached to Port Sudan where they arrived on the 28th, these were; City of Florence, Delius and Dunera.

The convoy was dispersed in the Gulf of Aden on 1 February 1941. (39)

26 Jan 1941

Convoy BNF 1.

This convoy departed Bombay on 26 January 1941 for Suez where it arrived on 6 February 1941.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Egra (British, 5108 GRT, built 1911), El Madina (British, 3962 GRT, built 1937), Felix Roussel (French, 17083 GRT, built 1930), Santhia (British, 7754 GRT, built 1925) and Varela (British, 4651 GRT, built 1914).

On departure from Bombay the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Hector (Capt.(Retd.) F. Howard, DSC, RN).

She remained with the convoy until around 0800/31 when the destroyer HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN) took over the convoy.

On 31 January the sloops HMS Flamingo (Cdr. J.H. Huntley, RN) and HMIS Hindustan (Cdr. G.V.G. Beamish, RIN) departed Aden to join the convoy after which HMS Kingston was to proceed to Aden.

On 1 February the destroyer HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and sloop HMAS Parramatta (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Walker, MVO, RAN) sailed from Aden to join the convoy. Also from Aden sailed four merchant ships which were to join the convoy, these were; Baluchistan (British, 6992 GRT, built 1940), Hav (Norwegian, 5062 GRT, built 1939), Peter Maersk (British, 5476 GRT, built 1932) and Rinda (Norwegian, 6029 GRT, built 1917).

HMS Kandahar, HMS Flamingo and HMAS Parramatta arrived at Port Sudan on 3 February. The merchant vessel Varela also proceeded to Port Sudan.

The convoy arrived at Suez on 6 February escorted by HMIS Hindustan. (39)

28 Jan 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) arrived at Port Sudan from escort duty.

She departed Port Sudan again later the same day with HMAS Yarra (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Harrington, RAN) to take over the escort of the southbound convoy BS 13A.

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Convoy BS 13A ' for 25 January 1941.] (39)

1 Feb 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) arrived at Aden from convoy escort duty. (40)

1 Feb 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and HMAS Parramatta (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Walker, MVO, RAN) departed Aden for convoy escort duty with convoy BNF 1.

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Convoy BNF 1 ' for 26 January 1941.] (41)

1 Feb 1941

Convoy BSF 1.

This convoy departed Suez on 1 February 1941 for the Gulf of Aden where it was dispersed on 7 February 1941.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Cap St.Jacques (French, 8009 GRT, built 1922), City of Lyons (British, 7063 GRT, built 1926), Dunera (British, 11162 GRT, built 1937), Floristan (British, 5478 GRT, built 1928), Ima (Norwegian (tanker), 6842 GRT, built 1930), Itria (British, 6845 GRT, built 1940), Katy (Norwegian (tanker), 6825 GRT, built 1931), Pellicula (British (tanker), 6254 GRT, built 1936), Shahristan (British, 6935 GRT, built 1938), Talma (British, 10000 GRT, built 1923) and Varsova (British, 4701 GRT, built 1914).

On departure from Suez the convoy was escorted by the sloop HMS Grimsby (Cdr. K.J. D'Arcy, RN).

On 4 February 1941 the escort was reinforced by the destroyer HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) and the sloop HMS Shoreham (Cdr. G.P. Claridge, RN) which came from Port Sudan and a northbound convoy respectively.

On 7 February 1941 the convoy was dispersed in the Gulf of Aden. The escorts arrived at Aden also on the 7th. (39)

3 Feb 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Flamingo (Cdr. J.H. Huntley, RN) and HMAS Parramatta (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Walker, MVO, RAN) arrived at Port Sudan from convoy escort duty. (41)

4 Feb 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Port Sudan to join the escort of southbound convoy BSF 1.

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Convoy BSF 1 ' for 1 February 1941 for more info.] (41)

7 Feb 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Shoreham (Cdr. G.P. Claridge, RN) and HMS Grimsby (Cdr. K.J. D'Arcy, RN) arrived at Aden from convoy escort duty. (41)

8 Feb 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN) departed Aden for the coast of Italian Somaliland and then onwards to Mombasa.

She is to provide A/S protection for the ships of 'Force T' that are to operate off the coast of Italian Somaliland. (41)

11 Feb 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) joins 'Force T' off the coast of Kismayu, Italian Somaliland. 'Force T' is made up of the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes (Capt. R.F.J. Onslow, DSC, MVO, RN), heavy cruisers HMS Hawkins (Capt. H.P.K. Oram, RN), HMS Shropshire and the light cruisers HMS Capetown (Capt. P.H.G. James, RN) and HMS Ceres (Capt. E.G. Abbott, AM, RN).

During this day two Italian merchant vessels that try to escape from Kismayu were captured by HMS Hawkins. These were; Adria (3809 GRT, built 1914) and Savoia (5490 GRT, built 1922). Prize crews were put on board and the ships were taken to Mombasa. The captured Adria came across another Italian merchant ship, the Erminia Mazzella (5644 GRT, built 1917). This ship was then also captured. (39)

12 Feb 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) arrived at Mombasa after passage from Aden and some operations of Italian Somaliland with 'Force T'. She departed again later the same day for more operations of Italian Somaliland with 'Force T'. (42)

16 Feb 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) arrived at Mombasa from perations of Italian Somaliland with 'Force T'. After fuelling she departed again later the same day for more operations of Italian Somaliland with 'Force T'. (9)

19 Feb 1941
The aircraft carrier HMS Hermes (Capt. R.F.J. Onslow, DSC, MVO, RN), heavy cruisers HMS Hawkins (Capt. H.P.K. Oram, RN), HMS Shropshire and the destroyer HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) all returned to Mombasa from operations off the coast of Italian Somaliland. (39)

22 Feb 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) departed Mombasa to escort a detachment from convoy WS 5B into port. She returned to Mombasa late in the morning.

[See the event ' Convoy WS 5B ' for 7 January 1941 for more info on this convoy.] (9)

27 Feb 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) departed Mombasa for Aden. (43)

2 Mar 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) arrived at Aden from Mombasa. (44)

4 Mar 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) and HMS Flamingo (Cdr. J.H. Huntley, RN) departed Aden to joined the landing ships HMS Glenearn (Capt.(Retd.) L.B. Hill, OBE, RN), HMS Glengyle (A/Capt.(Retd.) C.H. Petrie, RN) and HMS Glenroy (Capt.(Retd.) Sir J.F. Paget, RN) and their escort, the light cruiser HMS Glasgow (Capt. H. Hickling, RN) to escort these vessels to 21'N and then return to Aden. (39)

7 Mar 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) arrived at Aden after escort duty in the Red Sea. (45)

10 Mar 1941
At 1500 hours, HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) departed Aden. [No further details known.] (46)

12 Mar 1941
At 0715 hours, HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) returned to Aden. (46)

12 Mar 1941

Convoy US 9/2.

This convoy departed Bombay on 12 March 1941 for Suez where it arrived on 23 March 1941.

The convoy was made up of the following troopships; Empress of Australia (British, 21833 GRT, built 1914), Indrapoera (Dutch, 10825 GRT, built 1925), Johan de Witt (Dutch, 10474 GRT, built 1920) and Nieuw Zeeland (Dutch, 11069 GRT, built 1928).

(British, GRT, built ), (British, GRT, built ) and (British, GRT, built ).

On departure from Bombay the convoy was escorted by HMS Capetown (Capt. P.H.G. James, RN).

Around noon on 18 March 1941, while near Aden, the sloop HMS Flamingo (Cdr. J.H. Huntley, RN) joined the convoy with two merchant vessels; Amerika (British, 10218 GRT, built 1930) and Wairangi (British, 12436 GRT, built 1935). The newbuilt Turkish minelayer Yuzbasi Hakki was also in company. [It appears HMS Flamingo remained with the convoy until 20 March 1941.]

Shortly after 1400/18, the light cruiser HMS Caledon (Capt. C.P. Clarke, RN) took over from HMS Capetown which then parted company with the convoy and proceeded to Aden. The destroyer HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) also joined the convoy on this day.

HMS Kandahar parted company with the convoy around dawn on 20 March 1941 and proceeded to Port Sudan.

The convoy arrived off Suez on 22 March and entered port on 23 March 1941. (39)

14 Mar 1941

Operation 'Appearance'.

Invasion of occupied British Somaliland.

In the late afternoon of 14 March 1941 the first group of warships; the British destroyer HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), armed boarding vessels HMS Chakdina (Lt.Cdr. W.R. Hickey, RNR), HMS Chantala (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) C.E.I. Gibbs, RN), patrol vessels HMIS Netravati (Lt. D.A. MacDonald, RIN), HMIS Parvati (Lt. H.M.S. Choudry, RIN) and the cargo ships Beaconsfield (British, 4635 GRT, built 1938) and Tuna (British, 662 GRT, built 1907), carrying troops and towing three tugs and six lighters left Aden for the coast of British Somaliland.

Shortly after leaving however there was a problem with a tow which parted and the rope ending up in a propeller. It was decided that it would take to long to clear and delays loomed. HMS Kandahar then left the tugs and lighters to be towed by the cargo ships and in the afternoon of the 15th HMS Shoreham (Cdr. G.P. Claridge, RN) was sent out to assist.

Also in the afternoon of the 15th a second group of warships left Aden, these were the light cruisers HMS Glasgow (Capt. H. Hickling, RN), HMS Caledon (Capt. C.P. Clarke, RN) and the destroyer HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN). They were loaded with troops. They were to make rendez-vous with the first group.

By 0100/16 the forces were split up as follows; HMS Glasgow, HMS Caledon, HMS Chantala, HMS Chakdina, HMIS Netravati, HMIS Parvati were to land their troop to the west of the Berbera lighthouse while HMS Kandahar and HMS Kingston were to land commando troops to the east of the lighthouse.

At 0358 hours the gap in the reef to the western beach was found and 0417 hours HMS Glasgow opened fire with her 4" guns and pompoms after which the landing forces went in.

The gap in the reef to the eastern beach had already been found at 0330 hours and the landing zone was bombarded for 10 minutes from 0425 hours by HMS Kandahar following which the commandoes were landed by HMS Kingston.

The landing on both beaches were succesful.

The town of Berbera was captured around mid-morning of the 16th. More troops were then landed as by now the first group had now also arrived.

18 Mar 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) departed Aden to join convoy US 9/2 that was to proceed to Suez.

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Convoy US 9/2 ' for 12 March 1941.] (44)

18 Mar 1941

Convoy SU 2.

This convoy departed Suez on 18 March 1941 for Durban where it arrived on 4 April 1941.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels / troopships; Arundel Castle (British, 19118 GRT, built 1921), Athlone Castle (British, 25564 GRT, built 1936), Capetown Castle (British, 27000 GRT, built 1938), Duchess of Bedford (British, 20123 GRT, built 1928), Duchess of Richmond (British, 20020 GRT, built 1928), Franconia (British, 20175 GRT, built 1923), Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931), Nieuw Holland (British, 11066 GRT, built 1927), Samaria (British, 19597 GRT, built 1921) and Varsova (British, 4701 GRT, built 1914).

The convoy was unescorted until 20 March 1941 when the destroyer HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) and sloop HMS Flamingo (Cdr. J.H. Huntley, RN) joined.

The damaged aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (Cdr. G.S. Tuck, RN) departed Suez on 21 March 1941 and was to join the convoy near Aden on 24 March. She was escorted by the destroyer HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN) from 0800/23.

The convoy arrived at Aden on 22 March and departed again on 24 March but now escorted by the light cruiser HMS Glasgow (Capt. H. Hickling, RN).

At sea they were joined by HMS Illustrious and HMS Kimberley.

HMS Kimberley parted company at 1030/25 and proceeded to Aden. The convoy then continued towards the south escorted by HMS Illustrious and HMS Glasgow.

The heavy cruiser HMS Hawkins (Capt. H.P.K. Oram, RN) left Mombasa to make rendez-vous with the convoy and relieve HMS Glasgow on 29 March. HMS Glasgow then proceeded with Arundel Castle to Mombasa.

The convoy arrived at Durban on 4 April escorted by HMS Illustrious and HMS Hawkins. (39)

20 Mar 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) arrived at Port Sudan after convoy escort duty. She departed again later the dame day for escort duty with convoy SU 2. [For more info on this convoy see the event ' Convoy SU 2 ' for 18 March 1941 '.] (44)

22 Mar 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) arrived at Aden following convoy escort duty. (47)

23 Mar 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) and HMS Chakdina (Lt.Cdr. W.R. Hickey, RNR) departed Aden to perform a landing to the east of Aden to land 150 Government Guard to take over the palice of the recalcitrant Sultan Saleh bin Fadhl. The Sultan managed to escape but he later turned himself in at Aden and was removed from power. (45)

24 Mar 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) returned to Aden. (48)

25 Mar 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) departed Aden around 1800 hours. [No further details known.] (49)

30 Mar 1941
At 0750 hours (GMT), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) intercepted the German merchant vessel Bertram Rickmers (4188 GRT, built 1923) off the Eritrean coast in position 14°07'N, 41°42'E. Before the German ship could be captured it was scuttled by it's own crew.

HMS Kandahar then apparently proceeded to Aden where she arrived at following day. (39)

7 Apr 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) Returned to Aden. [We have been unable to find out when she had departed.]

She departed again later the same day apparently for the Perim area. [No further details available.] (45)

11 Apr 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) arrived at Port Sudan from the Perim area. She departed for Suez later the same day. (50)

13 Apr 1941
HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) both arrived at Port Said. They left for Alexandria later the same day. They arrived at Alexandria around 1730 hours. (51)

14 Apr 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) departed Alexandria at 0630 hours. She returned at 1430 hours. [Presumably she had been on exercises.] (52)

18 Apr 1941

Operations MD 2 and MD 3, convoy movements to and from Malta and bombardment of Tripoli.


Timespan 18 to 23 April 1941.

18 April 1941.

Around 0700 hours (zone -3) the Mediterranean Fleet departed Alexandria for these operations. The Fleet was made up of the battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. D.B. Fisher, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Admiral Sir A.B. Cunningham, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. C.E. Morgan, DSO, RN), HMS Barham (Capt. G.C. Cooke, RN, flying the flag of A/Rear-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.W.la T. Bisset, RN, flying the flag of A/Rear-Admiral D.W. Boyd, CBE, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN), AA cruiser HMS Calcutta (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Juno (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN), HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN), HMS Havock (Lt. G.R.G. Watkins, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt. W.J. Munn, RN) and HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN). Destroyer HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) joined later at sea having overtaken the fleet after being delayed on leaving Alexandria as she fouled her mooring buoy. The Fleet was to proceed to Suda Bay where the destroyers would be refuelled. Also HMS Warspite was to land salvage equipment there that was to be used in the attempt to salvage the heavily damaged heavy cruiser HMS York. Initially the Fleet set course to pass through the Kithera Channel but this was later changed to pass through the Kaso Strait.

At dusk the British transport HMS Breconshire (9776 GRT, built 1939) departed Alexandria for Malta. She was loaded with petrol and ammunition. She was escorted by the light cruiser HMAS Perth (Capt. P.W. Bowyer-Smith, RN), and the destroyer HMS Hotspur (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN),. They were to make rendes-vous with the Fleet south-west of Kithera at daybreak on the 20th.

19 April 1941.

The Battlefleet passed through the Kaso Strait during the night and arrived at Suda Bay around noon to refuel the destroyers and disembark the salvage gear embarked in Warspite.

In the morning the light cruiser HMS Phoebe and the AA-cruiser HMS Calcutta were detached from the Fleet to join a convoy coming from Pireaus. They remained with the convoy until after dark and then proceeded to join the convoy of empty freighters that was to be sailed from Malta (see below).

The Fleet sailed around 1530 hours and set course to pass through the Kithera Channel and then set course to the south-west. Enemy reconnaissance aircraft reported the Fleet leaving the harbour.

At dark a convoy of empty merchant vessels (Convoy ME 7) departed Malta for Alexandria. It was made up of four merchant vessels; City of Lincoln (8039 GRT, built 1938), City of Manchester (8917 GRT, built 1935), Clan Ferguson (7347 GRT, built 1938) and Perthshire (10496 GRT, built 1936). Escort was provided by four destroyers; HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO, RN), HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN), HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN), and HMS Diamond (Lt.Cdr. P.A. Cartwright, RN). This last destroyer had just completed a refit a Malta.

20 April 1941.

At 0800 hours, the Battlefleet made rendes-vous with the force of the Vice-Admiral light forces; the light cruisers HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.D. Pridham-Whippell, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, RN), HMS Gloucester (Capt. H.A. Rowley, RN) and the destroyers HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN) and HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO, RN). Rendez-vous was also made with HMS Breconshire, HMAS Perth and HMS Hotspur. Breconshire joined the battleship line. The cruisers formed round the Battlefleet and the destroyers joined the screen. Course was westwards to meet convoy ME 7.

Convoy ME 7 was met around noon and HMS Jervis and HMS Janus joined the Battlefleet. The convoy then continued on to Alexandria escorted by HMS Phoebe, HMS Calcutta, HMS Nubian and HMS Diamond.

The Fleet was not attacked by aircraft despite being sighted by enemy aircraft in the forenoon.

At dark several of the destroyers streamed their T.S.D.S. (minesweeping gear) and the Vice-Admiral Light Forces was detached in HMS Orion with HMS Formidable, HMS Ajax, HMAS Perth, and the destroyers HMS Griffin, HMS Kingston and HMS Kimberley for independent flying operations. Also HMS Breconshire was detached for Malta escorted by HMS Encounter.

21 April 1941.

Between 0500 and 0545 hours, the Battlefleet bombarded Tripoli at ranges from 11000 to 14000 yards. HMS Warspite, HMS Barham, HMS Valiant and HMS Gloucester were in line ahead with destroyers screening, these were; HMS Jervis, HMS Jaguar, HMS Janus, HMS Juno, HMS Hasty, HMS Havock, HMS Hereward, HMS Hero and HMS Hotspur.

The submarine HMS Truant (Lt.Cdr. H.A.V. Haggard, RN) served as navigational beacon during the approach and aircraft from HMS Formidable provided illumination of the target area by dropping flares. The night was clear but dust and smoke made it difficult to see the results of the bombardment. The spotting aircraft later reported much damage in the harbour area including to fuel tanks. Also five ships were thought to have been sunk. A coast defence battery opened fire after 25 (sic !) minutes but without result.

[According to Italian sources the following damage was inflicted;
The torpedo-boat Partenope was damaged by shells of medium calibre. The bridge was hit and her commander, Capitano di Corvetta Guglielmo Durantini was hit in the head by a shell and killed instantly. The ship was temporarily disabled. In all two were killed and five slightly wounded.
It is not clear if the destroyer Geniere was also hit (Supermarina does not list her as damaged) but she had three of her crew killed, thirteen wounded (they may have been ashore at the time). Unfortunately, the report of Geniere could not be found in her file.
The torpedo-boat Pleiadi had one wounded (again he might have been wounded ashore as no mention of damage to the warship in her file).
The transports Assiria (2705 GRT, built 1928) and Marocchino (1524 GRT, built 1920, one wounded) were sunk in shallow water, the Custom (Guardi di Finanza) motor boat Cicconetti (61 tons) was also sunk (all three had not returned to service when the British occupied Tripoli in 1943). The transport Sabbia (5788 GRT, built 1926) was damaged.
We currently do not have any data on civilian casualties but the Italians mentioned that several of the enemy 381mm shells failed to explode. The Tripoli 190mm coastal battery fired 88 rounds and claimed an enemy vessel probably hit but this was not the case.]

On completion of the bombardment the fleet withdrew at maximum speed to the north-east and at daylight made contact with the Vice-Admiral Light Forces ships. Air attacks were expected on the Fleet but none followed.

At dark the cruisers were detached to make a sweep to the north of the Fleet and HMS Jervis, HMS Jaguar, HMS Janus and HMS Juno were detached to Malta arriving there the following day.

22 April 1941.

Convoy ME 7 safely arrived at Alexandria at 0700 hours this day.

At daylight the cruisers rejoined the Fleet which then continued eastwards without any attacks on it or any other delay. Enemy shadowers reported the Fleet throughout the day and at 1800 hours an attack by three Ju-88’s was developing but Fulmars from HMS Formidable intercepted them and shot down two of them.

Around noon HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) joined the Fleet coming from Alexandria, having sailed on 21 April, and HMS Griffin then parted company and proceeded to Suda Bay for fueling and then escort duty in the Aegean.

At 1600 hours HMS Gloucester was detached to Malta where she arrived on April 24th and HMAS Perth to join HMS Phoebe in the Aegean. Having arrived at Alexandria with convoy ME 7, Phoebe and Calcutta departed Alexandria in the afternoon to join a convoy towards the Aegean.

23 April 1941.

The Fleet arrived at Alexandria without further incident at 1030 hours.

HMS Defender went to Tobruk instead of Alexandria. (53)

24 Apr 1941

Convoy AG 14.

This convoy departed Alexandria on 24 April 1941 for Suda Bay. In the end the convoy did not enter Suda Bay.

The convoy was made up of the following transports / troopships; City of Lincoln (British, 8039 GRT, built 1938), Costa Rica (Dutch, 8055 GRT, built 1910), Dilwara (British, 11080 GRT, built 1936), Khedive Ismael (Egyptian, 7290 GRT, built 1922), Salween (British, 7093 GRT, built 1937) and Slamat (Dutch, 11636 GRT, built 1924).

The convoy was being escorted by the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. T.C. Hampton, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN).

The convoy was to proceed to Suda Bay via the Kaso Strait. The convoy entered the Aegean around dawn on the 26th but did not proceed to Suda Bay. The ships were split into three groups and went on to the places where troop were to be embarked during Operation Demon. (53)

26 Apr 1941
Operation Demon continued, more troops were to be evacuated from mainland Greece during the night of 26/27 April 1941.

From the Raphina and Raphtis area;

landing ship HMS Glengyle (A/Capt.(Retd.) C.H. Petrie, RN) and the transport Salween (7063 GRT, built 1938). They were escorted by the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. T.C. Hampton, RN) and the destroyers HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN), HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN) and HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN).

HMS Glenearn was bombed en-route to the pick up zone. She was towed to Kissamo Bay by HMS Griffin. From there she was taken in tow to Alexandria, first by the sloop HMS Grimsby (Cdr. K.J. D'Arcy, RN) and later by the netlayer HMS Protector (Cdr. R.J. Gardner, RN).

To replace the troop carrying capacity of the landing ship HMS Glenearn, the light cruisers HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN), HMAS Perth (Capt. P.W. Bowyer-Smith, RN) and destroyer HMAS Stuart (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, DSO, RAN) were sent from Suda Bay.

From the Nauplia and Tolon area;

landing ship HMS Glenearn (Capt.(Retd.) L.B. Hill, OBE, RN), troopships Slamat (Dutch, 11636 GRT, built 1924) and Khedive Ismael (7290 GRT, built 1922), AA cruiser HMS Calcutta (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN), and destroyers HMS Isis (Cdr. C.S.B. Swinley, DSC, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, DSC, RN), HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN), HMS Diamond (Lt.Cdr. P.A. Cartwright, RN) and HMS Havock (Lt. G.R.G. Watkins, RN).

Slamat was late in leaving Nauplia in the early morning and delayed the convoy's sailing. Slamat was then bombed and wrecked south of the Argolic Gulf in position 37°01'N, 23°10'E shortly after 0700 hours. Destroyer HMS Diamond was then left behind to rescue the survivors which she did. At 0925 hours HMS Diamond signalled that she had picked up most of the survivors and that she had set course for Suda Bay. She had also fired a torpedo into the blazing wreck and Slamat sank shortly afterwards.

The destroyers HMS Wryneck (Cdr.(Retd.) R.H.D. Lane, RN), HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, RAN) and HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN) were then sent out to assist the Nauplia group. Of these HMS Wryneck was ordered to assist HMS Diamond. Wryneck arrived just as Slamat capsized. Both destroyers were then attacked and sunk in the early afternoon by German aircraft (9 German aircraft Ju.88, probably of I./KG.51 (Hpt. Heinrich Hahn)) with heavy loss of life. Only 27 survivors (another source gives 24 survivors) were picked up the next day by HMS Griffin. HMS Diamond was lost with 7 officers and 141 ratings while HMS Wryneck was lost with 7 officers and 98 ratings.

From the Kalamata area;

transports City of London (British, 8956 GRT, built 1907), Costa Rica (Dutch, 8055 GRT, built 1910), Dilwara (British, 11080 GRT, built 1936). These were escorted by the light cruiser HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN), destroyers HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO, RN) and HMS Hereward (Lt. W.J. Munn, RN) and the sloop HMS Flamingo (Cdr. R.J.O. Otway-Ruthven, RN).

HMS Defender had also embarked the Yugoslav crown jewels for transport to Alexandria. [

The destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN) were also operating in the Aegean area but their exact whereabouts are for the moment unknown to us.]

Convoy GA 14 to Alexandria.

A convoy was then formed to the north of Crete (GA 14). It was to proceed to Alexandria. It was made up of HMS Glengyle, Khedive Ismael, Salween, City of London and Costa Rica. They were escorted by the AA cruisers HMS Coventry (Capt. D. Gilmour, RN), HMS Calcutta (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMAS Stuart, HMAS Vampire (Cdr. J.A. Walsh, RAN), HMAS Vendetta and HMAS Waterhen and the sloop HMS Flamingo.

While the convoy was being formed, the Costa Rica was bombed north of Crete by enemy aircraft. She was taken in tow by HMS Defender but sank north-west of Suda Bay in position 35°54'N, 23°49'E. The troops and her crew were saved.

Cover for this convoy was provided by the light cruisers HMAS Perth, HMS Phoebe and the destroyers HMS Decoy, HMS Defender, HMS Hasty, HMS Hereward, HMS Hero and HMS Nubian. These ships returned to Suda Bay in the afternoon of the 27th. (53)

28 Apr 1941
Operation Demon continued, more troops were to be evacuated from Greece during the night of 28/29 April 1941.

From Kithera;
About 750 RAF and other personnel were taken off by the sloop HMS Auckland (Cdr. E.G. Hewitt, DSO, RN) and the corvettes HMS Hyacinth (T/A/Lt.Cdr. F.C. Hopkins, DSC, RNR) and HMS Salvia (Lt.Cdr. J.I. Miller, DSO, RN, RNR).

From Monemvasia;
About 4320 troops were evacuated by the light cruiser HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, RN) and the destroyers HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN), HMS Havock (Lt. G.R.G. Watkins, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, DSC, RN) and HMS Isis (Cdr. C.S.B. Swinley, DSC, RN).

From Kalamata;
450 troops were taken off, more was not possible as Kalamata was already in enemy hands, by the light cruisers HMAS Perth (Capt. P.W. Bowyer-Smith, RN), HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN) and the destroyers HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN), HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt. W.J. Munn, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO, RN), HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN). (53)

29 Apr 1941

Convoy GA 15.

This convoy was formed north of Crete on 29 April 1941 for Alexandria / Port Said where it arrived on 1 May 1941.

This convoy was made up of the following transports; Comliebank (British, 5149 GRT, built 1929), Corinthia (Greek, 3721 GRT, built 1911), Delane (British, 6054 GRT, built 1938), Ionia (British, 1936 GRT, built 1923), Itria (British, 6845 GRT, built 1940), Thurland Castle (British, 6372 GRT, built 1929) and the RFA oiler Brambleleaf (5917 GRT, built 1917).

Escort was provided by the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. T.C. Hampton, RN), destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN) and the sloop HMS Auckland (Cdr. E.G. Hewitt, DSO, RN).

Cover was provided by the light cruisers HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.D. Pridham-Whippell, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, RN), HMAS Perth (Capt. P.W. Bowyer-Smith, RN), HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN) and the destroyers HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN), HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt. W.J. Munn, RN) and HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN).

The battleships HMS Barham (Capt. G.C. Cooke, RN, flying the flag of A/Rear-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. C.E. Morgan, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.W.la T. Bisset, RN), and the destroyers HMAS Stuart (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, DSO, RAN), HMAS Vampire (Cdr. J.A. Walsh, RAN), HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, RAN), HMAS Voyager (Cdr. J.C. Morrow, DSO, RAN), HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN) and HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.R. Marshall-A'Deane, DSO, DSC, RN) sailed from Alexandria to support the convoy. The forces met south of the Kaso Strait on 30 April where HMAS Perth, HMS Phoebe and HMS Nubian joined the force of Rear-Admiral Rawlings. His force was also joined by three more destroyers; HMS Ilex (Capt. H.St.L. Nicholson, DSO and Bar, RN) joined from Alexandria while HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) and HMS Juno (Cdr. St. J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN) joined coming from Malta from where they had sailed on the 28th. HMAS Perth and HMS Nubian were however soon detached and joined the close escort of the actual convoy.

On 1 May, HMS Jaguar and HMS Juno attacked an A/S contact in position 32°59'N, 27°52'E. During this attack a depth charge exploded prematurely on board HMS Juno causing some minor damage to the ship. Five of the crew were killed in this mishap. Eleven more were wounded. The submarine in question was the Italian Turchese

The bulk of the convoy arrived at Alexandria on the 1st, but Comliebank and Itria went to Port Said instead escorted by HMS Decoy and HMS Defender. They also arrived on May 1st.

On 2 May 1941 the destroyers HMS Hasty, HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Jaguar, HMS Juno and HMS Kandahar departed Alexandria to join the fleet and relieve the Australian destroyers Stuart, Vampire, Vendetta, Voyager and Waterhen which then proceeded ahead of the fleet to Alexandria arriving in the evening of 2 May.

The Fleet arrived at Alexandria on the 3rd. (53)

5 May 1941

Operation Tiger, supply convoy from Gibraltar to Alexandria and reinforcements for the Mediterranean Fleet and Operation MD 4, supply convoy from Alexandria to Malta and taking up the reinforcements for the Mediterranean Fleet.


Timespan: 5 to 12 May 1941.

5 May 1941.

Western Mediterranean.

Part of Convoy WS 8A was approaching Gibraltar from the west. This part of convoy WS 8A was to proceed to Malta during operation ‘Tiger’.

It was made up of five transports; Clan Campbell (7255 GRT, built 1937), Clan Chattan (7262 GRT, built 1937), Clan Lamont (7250 GRT, built 1939), Empire Song (9228 GRT, built 1940) and New Zealand Star (10740 GRT, built 1935). During the passage from the U.K. it had been escorted by the battlecruiser HMS Repulse (Capt. W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), light cruiser HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Harvester (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, DSC, RN), HMS Havelock (Cdr. E.H. Thomas, DSC, RN) and HMS Hesperus (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Tait, RN) (with the additional local escorts when still close to the U.K.)

Around 0700/5, HMS Repulse, HMS Harvester, HMS Havelock and HMS Hesperus were relieved from the escort by the battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Fearless (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN) , HMS Foresight (Cdr. J.S.C. Salter, RN) , HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN) and HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN). The Repulse and the three H-class destroyers then proceeded to Gibraltar to refuel where they arrived shortly before 1800 hours. It had originally been intended to include Repulse in the upcoming operation but she was left at Gibraltar due to her inadequate anti-aircraft armament.

HMS Naiad had already arrived at Gibraltar around 0900/4, having been relieved shortly after noon on the 2nd of May by HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.D. Stephens, RN). Around the same time HMS Naiad arrived at Gibraltar the cruiser HMS Fiji (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, RN) arrived, she had been part of the escort of convoy SL 72.

Shortly before 1000/5, the battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. R.R. McGrigor, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (Capt. L.E.H. Maund, RN), light cruisers HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN), HMS Fiji and the destroyers HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Wrestler (Lt. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN). Kashmir and Kipling had departed a little earlier and carried out an A/S sweep in Gibraltar Bay first.

For the upcoming operation two groups were formed; The cover force which was formed on Renown was group I, the close escort, which was to remain with the transports was group II. When they arrived near the convoy at 1800/5 the group I was formed and was made up of Renown, Queen Elizabeth, Ark Royal, Sheffield, Fiji, Kashmir and Kipling. Group II remained with the convoy and was (for the moment) made up of Fearless, Foresight, Fortune, Velox and Wrestler. Group II and the convoy proceeded towards the Straits of Gibraltar at 13 knots while Group I proceeded to the south until 2130 hours when course was changed to 074°. At 1930 hours, Group I, had been joined by HMS Naiad. This cruiser had sailed from Gibraltar at 1300 hours.

Eastern Mediterranean.

Convoy MW 7B departed Alexandria for Malta this day. It was made up of the Norwegian tankers Hoegh Hood (9351 GRT, built 1936) and Svenor (7616 GRT, built 1931). These tankers were able to proceed at 10 knots. Escort was provided by the AA-cruisers HMS Carlisle (Capt. T.C. Hampton, RN), HMS Coventry (Capt. D. Gilmour, RN), destroyers HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN), HMS HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.A. Marshall-A’Deane, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN). Also part of the escort of this convoy was the corvette HMS Gloxinia (Lt.Cdr. A.J.C. Pomeroy, RNVR) which was to serve as minesweeper at Malta and the whaler HMS Swona which was to be outfitted as minesweeper (LL-sweep) at the Malta Dockyard.

6 May 1941.

Western Mediterranean.

The convoy with Group II passed through the Straits of Gibraltar between 0130 and 0330 hours followed by Group I between 0300 and 0430 hours. Although the moon did not set until 0314 hours the sky was completely overcast and visibility was low.

At 0330 hours, HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Harvester, HMS Havelock and HMS Hesperus departed Gibraltar followed at 0420 hours by HMS Gloucester (Capt. H.A. Rowley, RN) which had completed her repairs and undocking shortly before.

By 0550 hours, Group I was about 32 miles to the east of Gibraltar with the convoy and Group II 10 miles to the north. At this time Faulknor, Forester and Fury joined Group I. At 0615 hours Queen Elizabeth with Kashmir and Kelvin was detached to join Group II, followed thirty minutes later by Naiad.

At 0625 hours, Gloucester joined Group I and speed was then increased to 24 knots to draw well ahead of the convoy. During the day Group I steered 060°. Group II was steering parallel to the Spanish coast at 13 knots. Velox and Wrestler were detached from Group II to arrive at Gibraltar after dark to avoid being sighted returning from the East.

At 1740 hours Renown, in position 37°05’N, 00°21’W sighted a French merchant ship most likely en-route to Oran. On sighting the British ships she immediately steered clear to the westward. Shorty afterwards Group I reduced speed to 17 knots as to not get too far ahead of Group II and the convoy.

By midnight Group I was about 150 nautical miles east-north-east of Group II.

Eastern Mediterranean.

The Mediterranean Fleet departed Alexandria in the forenoon, it was made up of the battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. D.B. Fisher, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Admiral Sir A.B. Cunningham, GCB, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Barham (Capt. G.C. Cooke, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. C.E. Morgan, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.W.la T. Bisset, RN), light cruisers HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.D. Pridham-Whippell, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, RN), HMAS Perth (Capt. P.W. Bowyer-Smith, RN), destroyers (D.14) HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN), HMS Juno (Cdr. St. J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN), (D.7) HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, RN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN), HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Havock (Lt. G.R.G. Watkins, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, DSC, RN) and HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN). The fast minesweeper HMS Abdiel (Capt. E. Pleydell-Bouverie, MVO, RN) and the naval transport HMS Breconshire (9776 GRT, built 1939) also sailed with the Fleet. HMS Abdiel was to lay a minefield off Lampedusa. HMS Breconshire had on board oil and petrol for Malta as well as oil to supply this to destroyers at sea. Abdiel took station in the destroyer screen while Breconshire took station in the battleship line. After sailing the fleet proceeded to the northwest. No aircraft were flown off by HMS Formidable due to a dust storm and very limited visibility.

After the Fleet sailed, convoy MW 7A departed Alexandria. It was made up of four transport vessels; Amerika (10218 GRT, built 1930), Settler (6202 GRT, built 1939), Talabot (6798 GRT, built 1936) and Thermopylae (6655 GRT, built 1930). These were able to proceed at 14 knots. Escort was provided by the light cruisers HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN), HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN), AA-cruiser HMS Calcutta (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN) and the destroyers (D.2) HMS Ilex (Capt. H.St.L. Nicholson, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Isis (Cdr. C.S.B. Swinley, DSC, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt. W.J. Munn, RN) and HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO, RN).

One of the destroyers from the escort of convoy MW 7B, HMS Defender, that had sailed on the 5th had to return to Alexandria due to condenser problems.

7 May 1941.

Western Mediterranean.

At 0400 hours, Group II, which was approximately 30 nautical miles east of Cape Palos, altered course to the south for about two hours before turning eastwards for the run to Malta.

Group I meanwhile had altered course to the northward at 0130 hours to pass between Ibiza and Majorca in order to carry out a diversion to the north of the Baleares during the day should this appear desirable.

By 0715 hours there was no indication that Group I had been sighted, and as visibility varied from poor to moderate, course was altered to pass again between Ibiza and Majorca to reach a position well ahead of Group II so as to divert any attention of any enemy aircraft from Group II and the convoy.

At 1000 hours, when 33 nautical miles south-west of Malta, Group I encountered a small Spanish fishing vessel which was seen to proceed towards Palma de Majorca.

At noon, Group I altered course to 140°. At 1630 hours course was altered to 100° to keep about 40 nautical miles to the eastward of Group II. Group I streamed paravanes at 1800 hours.

At 1945 hours, two Sunderland flying boats flying east passed north of the force and did not identify themselves till challenged. At the same time smoke was sighted astern and shortly afterwards a fighter aircraft reported that it was the convoy at a distance of 26 nautical miles.

At 2100 hours, Group I altered course to the north-east until dark in order to mislead any hostile aircraft. The sky had been overcast all day but towards the evening the visibility improved considerably and the convoy was clearly visible to the southwestward making a great deal of smoke.

At 2225 hours, RD/F in Fiji detected a group of aircraft bearing 170°, range 30 miles. The bearing changed to 154° and the range opened to 40 miles until the echo faded at 2230 hours. Group I altered course to 080° at 2300 hours.

Eastern Mediterranean.

All forces continued on their way during the day without incident. Destroyers were being fuelled from Breconshire one at a time.

The submarine HMS Triumph reported three transports proceeding towards Benghazi. Accordingly HMS Ajax, HMS Havock, HMS Hotspur and HMS Imperial were detached to attack Benghazi during the night of 7/8 May.

The Vice-Admiral Malta reported that the harbour had been mined and that the destroyers based at Malta were therefore unable to leave the harbour and participate in the convoy operations.

8 May 1941.

Western Mediterranean.

Soon after midnight Group I had to alter course to avoid being sighted by a lighted merchant ship steering a course of 110°.

At 0535 hours, HMS Ark Royal launched three reconnaissance A.S.V. aircraft in position 38°06’N, 06°26’E to search to the eastward south of Sardinia. At 0700 hours a fourth aircraft was flown off to search to the west of Sardinia. These aircraft returned at 0800 hours and had nothing to report. They had covered 140 miles to the eastward and 50 miles to the westward. Group I then proceeded to join the convoy. The first fighter patrol was flown off by Ark Royal at 0830 hours.

By 1000 hours, Group I had joined the convoy, which was proceeding on a course of 085° at 14 knots. This was the Clan Campbell’s best speed. Renown and Ark Royal took station on the starboard side of the convoy in order to facilitate flying operations and at the same time provide AA protection for the convoy. Queen Elizabeth took station astern of Ark Royal to provide AA protection for this vulnerable ship. Gloucester and Fiji formed on the transport ships.

At 1115 hours an enemy signal was intercepted that our forces had been sighted at 0800 hours. Naiad detected an enemy aircraft approaching at 1133 hours and three minutes later a large float-plane emerged from the clouds ahead of the convoy. Naiad opened fire and the aircraft retreated into the clouds. Fighters were sent in pursuit but failed to intercept. At noon a full and accurate report was made by this float-plane on the composition of our forces.

The sky cleared to some extent at noon, it had been overcast all morning. Visibility continued to improve all day although considerable cloud prevailed until the evening.

At 1345 hours, eight aircraft were seen approaching very low, fine on the starboard bow. These were engaged as they approached, but the AA fire appeared to be not very well directed. Torpedoes were dropped from outside the destroyer screen, which was roughly 3000 yards ahead of the convoy and extended to starboard to cover Renown, Ark Royal and Queen Elizabeth. The four Fulmar fighters on patrol at this time were engaging CR. 42 fighters that had accompanied these torpedo aircraft.

Torpedoes were evidently aimed at Renown and Ark Royal but by very skilful handling by the Commanding Officers of these two ships all tracks were combed or avoided. Two torpedoes passed close to Renown. A third which was being successfully combed made a sudden alteration of 60° towards Renown and a hit forward seemed inevitable when the torpedo reached the end of it’s run and sank. Two torpedoes passed to port and two to starboard of Ark Royal.

Of the eight aircraft which attacked one was brought down during the approach, probably by AA fire from the destroyers. Two others were seen to fall from the sky during their retirement. The destroyers were disappointingly slow in opening fire on the approaching torpedo-bombers and a full barrage never developed. During the action between the Fulmar’s and the CR. 42’s one Fulmar was brought down and the crew of two was lost.

At 1400 hours a few bomb splashes were observed on the horizon to the northwestward.

At 1525 hours, two sections of Fulmar’s attacked and shot down in flames an S.79 shadower. On returning from this attack one Fulmar had to make a forced landing on the water about 9 nautical miles from the fleet. HMS Foresight closed the position and was able to pick up the crew of two. At this time the fleet was about 28 nautical miles north of Galita Island.

At 1600 hours, as the wind had backed from south of east to north of east. The starboard column; Renown, Ark Royal and Queen Elizabeth, was moved over to the port quarter of the convoy and the destroyer screen was readjusted accordingly. This allowed freedom of manoeuvre for flying operations and enabled the column to increase speed and snake the line whenever a bombing attack developed, in order to hamper the bombers and at the same time remain in a position to afford full AA support of the convoy.

The first high level bombing attack of the day developed at 1622 hours when three S.79’s approached from astern at about 5000 feet, i.e. just under the cloud level. One, diverted by AA fire, jettisoned his bombs and subsequently crashed astern of the Fleet. The other two dropped twelve bombs close ahead of Ark Royal and escaped into the clouds. It is probable that both of these were hit by the concentrated AA fire with which they were met. About 10 minutes later a single aircraft approached from astern and encountering heavy AA fire turned across the stern of the Fleet, dropping its bombs well clear.

At 1710 hours, another S.79 shadower was shot down in flames on the port quarter of the Fleet by a Fulmar fighter. Twenty minutes later five S.79’s attacked the fleet from south to north. Two broke formation under gunfire and the remainder delivered a poor attack, bombs falling near the destroyer screen. A similar attack by three S.79’s took place at 1800 hours, when bombs were again dropped near the destroyer screen.

The provision a adequate fighter protection for the Fleet was a difficult problem with the small numbers of fighters available. Aircraft returned to the carrier at various times with damage and failure of undercarriage, and every opportunity was taken, whenever the RD/F screen cleared to land on, refuel and rearm the Fulmars, sometimes singly and sometimes two or three at a time. There were occasions when no more then two fighters were in the air, but whenever an attack appeared to be impending every fighter that could be made serviceable was sent up.

At 1910 hours enemy aircraft were detected at a range of 70 miles approaching from Sicily. At this time only seven Fulmars remained serviceable of which only three were in the air. The other four were immediately flown off. The total number of hostile aircraft is uncertain, but the Fulmars sighted three separate formations of sixteen Ju.87’s, twelve Ju.87’s and six Me.110’s. One formation was seen from Renown for a short time at 1933 hours in a patch of clear sky. RD/F indicated several formations circling to the northwest of the Fleet for nearly one hour and several bomb splashes were seen well away to the northward and northwestward. During this period Fulmars intercepted the enemy and, although greatly outnumbered, fought several vigorous and gallant actions, resulting in the certain destruction of one Ju.87 and damage to several others, including at least one Me.110. These attacks disorganised the enemy and forced them to the northward with the result that they probably missed sighting the Fleet. They then entered thick cloud and it is possible that the groups became separated and all cohesion in the attack disappeared. Whatever the reason RD/F showed these groups retiring to the northward and no attack on the Fleet developed.

The Fleet reached the entrance to the Skerki Channel at 2015 hours. ‘Force B’ then turned westwards. It was made up of Renown, Ark Royal, Sheffield, Harvester, Havelock and Hesperus. Queen Elizabeth was ordered to join ‘Force F’.

The turn to the west was just being completed when ‘Force B’ was attacked at 2030 hours by three torpedo-bombers which came from right ahead. The destroyers were still manoeuvering to take up their screening positions and did not sight the enemy aircraft in time to put up a barrage of AA fire. This attack was pressed home by the enemy with great determination. All three aircraft were heavily engaged and two were seen to be hit. Renown combed the torpedo tracks, two passing close down the port side and one down the starboard side.

During this attack No. P (port) 3, 4.5” gun turret in Renown malfunctioned and fired two round into the back of No. P 2 gun turret. This resulted in five ratings killed, five seriously wounded of which one later died and one officer and twenty-five ratings wounded.

Speed was increased to 24 knots at 2038 hours and a westerly course was maintained throughout the night.

As a result of the day’s air attacks, seven enemy aircraft were destroyed, two probably destroyed and at least three, probably more, damaged. Of the seven destroyed AA fire accounted for four and feighters for three. No hits, either by bomb or torpedo were obtained on our ships, nor were there any casualties besides than caused by the accident in Renown. Two Fulmars were lost, the crew of one of them was saved.

Meanwhile the convoy continued eastwards escorted now by HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Naiad, HMS Gloucester, HMS Fiji, HMS Faulknor, HMS Fearless, HMS Foresight, HMS Forester, HMS Fortune, HMS Fury, HMS Kashmir and HMS Kipling.

Eastern Mediterranean.

Visibility was still poor with patches of heavy rain. This helped the Fleet and convoy from being detected by the enemy and attacked by aircraft. On the other hand it resulted in the loss of two Albacore aircraft. One Fulmar was lost in combat with enemy aircraft.

HMS Ajax, HMS Havock, HMS Hotspur and HMS Imperial rejoined the Fleet at 1700 hours. Their attack on Benghazi had been successful although there was little shipping in the harbour two transports were intercepted after the bombardment. The largest blew up, and the other was ran aground and was left on fire after several explosions. These were the Italian Tenace (1142 GRT, built 1881) and Capitano A. Cecchi (2321 GRT, built 1933).

The Fleet remained with convoy MW 7A during the day and at dark moved to the southward. HMS Dido, HMS Phoebe, HMS Calcutta, HMS Carlisle and HMS Coventry were detached from their convoy’s to join the Tiger convoy coming from Gibraltar.

Both MW convoy’s made direct for Malta escorted by HMS Hotspur, HMS Havock and HMS Imperial. All other destroyers had been oiled from Breconshire during the past two days.

9 May 1941.

Western Mediterranean.

Further torpedo-bomber attacks were expected and a screen made up of Sheffield and the three destroyers was stationed ahead, astern and on either beam of Renown and Ark Royal at 5000 yards. The night was however uneventful and at 0800 hours speed was reduced to 20 knots and screening diagram no.4 was resumed by the escorts.

A shadower was detected, bearing 115°, range 12 nautical miles at 1027 hours. Two fighters were flown off but failed to intercept the enemy. An enemy sighting report was intercepted in Renown.

At 1100 hours a merchant vessel was sighted in position 37°54’N, 03°30’E about 8 nautical miles to the northward. At the same time Ark Royal reported that a periscope had been sighted about 4000 yards away. No further action was taken as detaching a single destroyer to search for the submarine was thought to be of little use and it was not thought wise to detach more then one destroyer as there were only three present.

At 1300 hours course was altered to 145° and speed reduced to 16 knots to conserve fuel in the destroyers.

At 1700 hours five search aircraft were flown off from position 37°27’N, 01°29’E to search between bearings 045° and 340° from Oran and south of parallel 38°45’N. Nothingwas sighted except for a merchant vessel. A Fulmar was also flown off to carry out a reconnaissance of Oran. This aircraft took photographs and reported the battlecruiser Dunkerque in her usual position at Mers-el-Kebir surrounded by nets, with lighters alongside and a pontoon gangway to the shore. One large and two small destroyers were sighted inside Oran harbour and probably six or seven submarines.

The six destroyers from the 8th Destroyer Flotilla which had taken part in getting the ‘Tiger’ convoy to as far as Malta sailed from there at 2000B/9 for their return passage to Gibraltar. HMS Foresight however had to return to Malta with an engine problem.

At 2200 hours ‘Force B’ altered course to the eastward as to be in a position to support the destroyers during their passage west at daylight the next day when they were passing south of Sardinia.

The Tiger convoy and it’s escort.

Shortly after midnight the transport Empire Song was mined and damaged. Initially she was able to remain with the convoy but around 0140 hours she was slowly sinking having also been on fire. The destroyers HMS Foresight and HMS Fortune were detached to stand by her. In the end Empire Song blew up during which Foresight was damaged.

The transport New Zealand Star was also damaged but she was able to remain with the convoy as her speed was not affected.

The convoy was attacked by torpedo-bombers early in the night but no damage was done by them. One torpedo passed very close to HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Around 0700 hours the Tiger convoy was joined by HMS Dido and HMS Phoebe. An hour later HMS Calcutta, HMS Carlisle and HMS Coventry also joined.

At 1515 hours the Tiger convoy made rendez-vous with the Mediterreanean Fleet about 50 nautical miles south of Malta.

Eastern Mediterranean.

Convoy’s MW 7A and MW 7B both arrived safely at Malta. Both were swept in by HMS Gloxinia who succeeded in exploding a number of mines. The 5th Destroyer Flotilla was then also able to leave the harbour and they joined the Mediterranean Fleet; these were HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) , HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) and HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN)

Also Breconshire arrived at Malta where she fuelled HMS Hotspur, HMS Havock and HMS Imperial.

As said above, at 1515 hours the Tiger convoy made rendez-vous with the Mediterreanean Fleet about 50 nautical miles south of Malta. HMS Queen Elizabeth then joined the battleship column. The Fleet then turned eastward but remained near the convoy for the remainder of the day. During the night he Fleet covered the convoy from a position to the north-eastward of it.

10 May 1941.

Western Mediterranean.

At 0700 hours, when in position 37°35’N, 03°02’E, course was altered to the westward at 15 knots. This being the most comfortable speed for the destroyers in the rising westerly gale.

At 1000 hours, the Capt. (D) 8th Destroyer Flotilla, reported he was in position 37°18’N, 08°45’E steering 275° at 28 knots. He also reported hat his ships were being shadowed by enemy aircraft. The enemy aircraft report was intercepted at 1025 hours. Course was then altered by ‘Force B’ to the eastward to reduce the distance between the two forces.

At 1100 hours, the Capt. (D) 8th Destroyer Flotilla, reported he was in position 37°22’N, 07°54’E, still steering 275° at 28 knots. The destroyers were still being shadowed.

At noon ‘Force B’ altered course to the westward. The wind was by then force 8 with a rising sea. Ten minutes later the enemy aircraft was again heard to report the position of the 8th Destroyer Flotilla and it’s course and speed.

At 1300 hours, the Capt. (D) 8th Destroyer Flotilla, reported he was in position 37°25’N, 07°01’E, steering 270° at 28 knots and that his ships were still being shadowed. At this time ‘Force B’ was 134 nautical miles to the westward and they could only maintain 13 knots in the sea without suffering damage. In view of the weather conditions and the fact that HMS Ark Royal had now only four serviceable fighters available it was not possible to afford the 8th Destroyer Flotilla any fighter protection without hazarding Ark Royal unduly. It was hoped that if an attack would develop the destroyers were able to avoid damage by high speed manoeuvring.

At 1430 hours a signal was received that the 8th Destroyer Flotilla was being bombed in position 37°25’N, 06°18’E and that HMS Fortune had been hit and her speed had been reduced to 8 knots. ‘Force B’ immediately altered course to the eastward and ran before the sea at 24 knots the maximum safe speed for the destroyers in the prevailing weather conditions.

An unidentified aircraft that had been detected by RD/F overtook the force at 1530 hours and was fired at by HMS Sheffield. The aircraft retired to the northward before resuming it’s easterly course. A reconnaissance of three aircraft was flown off at 1600 hours to cover the area to the northward and eastward of the 8th Destroyer Flotilla to maximum depth, in case enemy surface units were out in pursuit. These aircraft reported having sighted nothing on their return.

At 1750 hours a signal was received that the 8th Destroyer Flotilla had been subjected to another bombing attack but that no damage had been done. ‘Force B’ continued eastwards to provide close support in case of more air attacks.

At 1820 hours rendes-vous was made with the 8th Destroyer Flotilla and all ships proceeded westwards steering 280° at 12 knots. This was the best course and speed HMS Fortune could maintain. By this time this destroyer was down by the stern with seas breaking continually over her quarterdeck.

Five search aircraft were flown off by Ark Royal to search to maximum depth between 025° and 090°. Nothing was sighted except for one enemy aircraft. By 2030 hours all aircraft had returned.

As a speed of 12 knots subjected Fortune’s bulkhead to undue strain, HMS Fury was ordered to escort Fortune and proceed at 8 knots for the night. The remainder of the force zig-zagged, clear of these two destroyers, at higher speed.

It became also clear that Fortune had not received a direct hit but that five near misses had bent one shaft and caused flooding in several compartments aft, and minor flooding in the engine room.

Eastern Mediterranean.

The Battlefleet remained near the convoy for the entire day. Visibility improved throughout the day although conditions were still difficult for the enemy to attack from the air. One Ju.88 aircraft was shot down and another one was damaged. One Fulmar was lost when taking off from Formidable.

No enemy air attacks developed until dark when a number of aircraft, probably torpedo bombers, endeavoured to attack the convoy and battlefleet. A very heavy blind barrage of AA fire however kept them off and no torpedoes were seen.

At 1700 hours, Capt. D.5 in HMS Kelly was detached with the ships of the 5th Destroyer Flotilla (besides Kelly these were Kashmir, Kelvin, Kipling and Jackal) to bombard Benghazi before returning to Malta. The bombardment was carried out successfully. Following the bombardment they were dive bombed by German aircraft and all but Kipling were near missed. The Flotilla reached Malta p.m. on the 11th.

11 May 1941.

Western Mediterranean.

At 0532 hours, Vice-Admiral Somerville sent a signal to the Vice-Admiral commanding the North Atlantic station at Gibraltar reporting the position, course and speed of his forces. He also requested a tug to be sent for the assistance of HMS Fortune.

The wind eased considerably during the morning and at daylight Fortune and Fury were sighted about 4 nautical miles in advance of the Fleet and making good about 10 knots.

A reconnaissance of six aircraft were flown off at 0700 hours. These searched for a depth of about 140 miles between 030° and 085°. Visibility was reported as being 10 to 20 miles. Also a search was conducted for a depth of about 100 miles between 085° and 110° with a visibility of 3 to 5 miles. Only a few French merchant vessels were sighted.

Nothing happened during the day.

At 1700 hours a reconnaissance was flown of from position 36°54’N, 01°11’E to a depth of 180 nautical miles between north and east and to a depth of 90 nautical miles between north and 290°. The visibility was reported as being 10 to 15 nautical miles. Nothing was sighted.

The Fleet turned to the eastward for an hour before dark to take up a position well astern of Fortune and Fury during the night.

Eastern Mediterranean.

The Tiger convoy and the Fleet continued eastwards. Enemy aircraft were in the vicinity all day but no attacks developed. One Ju.88 was shot down and another one was damaged, one Fulmar was lost. At dark the cruisers were detached to proceed to Alexandria and the Fleet went on ahead of the convoy.

12 May 1941.

Western Mediterranean.

Just before daylight contact was made by the Fleet with Fortune and Fury. At dawn the tug HMS St. Day and four ML’s arrived from Gibraltar.

HMS Sheffield, HMS Harvester, HMS Hesperus and the four ML’s then remained with HMS Fortune and HMS Fury. Fortune was now able to make 12 knots.

HMS Renown and HMS Ark Royal, screened by HMS Faulknor, HMS Fearless, HMS Forester, HMS Foresight and HMS Havelock, then proceeded ahead to conduct flying exercises east of Gibraltar before entering harbour.

A reconnaissance was flown off at 0800 hours to search to the east but nothing was sighted. On their return these aircraft made a practice attack on Renown and Ark Royal. More exercises were carried out during the day.

The Fleet arrived at Gibraltar at 1800 hours. Renown berthed in no.1 dock to enable her damaged 4.5” gun turret to be hoised out.

HMS Sheffield entered harbour at 2030 hours followed shortly afterwards by the damaged Fortune and her escorts.

Eastern Mediterranean.

The bulk of the Fleet arrived at Alexandria around 1000 hours. The convoy arrived later, around 1300 hours. Some ships had been detached from the fleet to arrive early, fuel and then depart again for escort duties. (54)

13 May 1941

Operation MD 8.

Bombardment of the El Fateyah airfield near Derna.

The light cruisers HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.D. Pridham-Whippell, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Orion along with the light cruisers HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, RN), HMAS Perth (Capt. P.W. Bowyer-Smith, RN) and the destroyers HMS Juno (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN) departed Alexandria to bombard the El Fateyah airdrome near Derna during the night of 13/14 May 1941.

The bombardment could not be carried out due to navigational difficulties as the forces position could not be fixed accurately.

The force returned to Alexandria very early on the 15th. (53)

15 May 1941
At 2000 hours the AA cruiser HMS Coventry (A/Capt. W.P. Carne, RN) and the destroyers HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN) departed Alexandria to take up a position to the north of Crete via the Kaso Strait.

They were joined at sea the next morning by the light cruiser HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral I.G. Glennie, RN) and the destroyer HMS Juno (Cdr. St. J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN) also coming from Alexandria. This group of ships was known as 'Force C'.

On the 17th, ' Group C ' came to the assistance of the hospital ship Aba (7938 GRT, built 1918) which was attacked by German aircraft to the south of the Kaso Strait. HMS Coventry suffered some casualties when she was strafed by enemy aircraft.

' Force C ' was then recalled to Alexandria arriving on the 18th. (53)

19 May 1941
The light cruisers HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RN), HMAS Perth (Capt. P.W. Bowyer-Smith, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Juno (St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN) and HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN) departed Alexandria to proceed towards the Kaso Strait.

20 May 1941

Battle for Crete.


Timespan: 20 May to 1 June 1941.

Opening of the German airborn attack on Crete, 20 May 1941.

At 0915 hours, 20 May 1941, just three weeks after the British withdrawal from Greece, the German attack on Crete commenced. This took the form of intense bombing of Maleme airfield and Suda Bay areas, closely followed by the landing of troops by parachute, gliders and troop carrying aircraft. The enemy’s main objective appeared to be Maleme airfield but in the afternoon similar attacks developed at Heraklion and Retimo.

Fierce hand to hand fighting took place throughout the day on the Maleme airfield. At nightfall the situation appeared to be in hand, though about 1200 of the 3000 enemy who had landed by air appeared to be unaccounted for.

The naval situation at dawn, 20 May 1941.

The position of British (Allied) naval forces at sea at daylight on the 20th of May was as follows;

Force A 1 was about 100 nautical miles to the west of Crete. It was made up of the following warships; battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. D.B. Fisher, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. C.E. Morgan, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, RN), destroyers HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, RN), HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN), HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN), HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Isis (Cdr. C.S.B. Swinley, DSC, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt. W.J. Munn, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, DSC, RN), HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN) and HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN).

Force B was enroute from Alexandria to join force A 1 and consisted of the light cruisers HMS Gloucester (Capt. H.A. Rowley, RN also in command of this force as senior Captain) and HMS Fiji (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, RN).

Force C was to the south of the Kaso Strait and was made up of the light cruisers HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RN), HMAS Perth (Capt. P.W. Bowyer-Smith, RN), destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Juno (St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN) and HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN).

Force D had reached the Antikithera Channel during the night and was now steering to join Force A 1. Force D was made up of the light cruisers HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN, flying the flag of the Rear-Admiral (D) [D = Destroyers] I.G. Glennie, RN) and HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN).

The Commander-in-Chief’s intentions, 20-21 May 1941.

On learning that the attack on Crete had started, the Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean at once ordered the forces at sea to move up towards the island but to keep out of sight of land. In the course of the forenoon he signalled his intentions for the night.

Force B was ordered to pass close to Cape Matapan at 0400/21 and then rendezvous with Force A 1 about 50 miles west of Crete at 0700/21.

Force D, augmented by HMS Ajax and the destroyers HMS Isis HMS Imperial, HMS ar and HMS Kimberley was to pass through the Antikithera Channel to sweep the area Cape Malea (36°26’N, 23°12’E), Hydra (37°21’N, 23°35’E), Phalconera (36°50’N, 23°54’E) and to be off Canea at 0700/21.

Force C was to pass through the Kaso Strait and sweep round Stampalia (75 miles north of Kaso) arriving off Heraklion at 0700/21.

Later in the day air reconnaissance reported caiques in the Aegean, and these two sweeps were cancelled as it was feared that they might miss south-bound convoys in the darkness. Instead forces C and D were ordered to establish patrols to the east and west of Longtitude 25°E respectively. A new force of destroyers (Force E) made up of HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO, RN), HMS Ilex (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN) was to bombard the Italian airfield at Scarpanto (50 miles to the east of Crete), withdrawing to the southward before daylight.

Night operations, 20-21 May 1941.

Scarpanto airfield was bombarded at 0245/21. The result could not be observed, but intelligence reports later indicated that two Do.17 aircraft were damaged. After examining Pegadia Bay (six miles to the northward of the airfield on the east coast of Scarpanto), and finding it empty, Force E retired to the southward.

The other operations ordered by the Commander-in-Chief were duly carried out but no convoys were sighted. Force C was attacked by torpedo-carrying aircraft with approaching the Kaso Strait at 2040/20. All torpedoes could be avoided. An hour later six MAS boats were encountered. Juno, Kandahar and Naiad engaged them and they retired after four of them had been damaged.

Naval situation at dawn, 21 May 1941.

At daylight, 21 May, Force A 1 (Warspite, Valiant, HMAS Napier, HMS Hereward, HMS Hero, HMS Hotspur, HMS Griffin and HMS Decoy) was 60 miles west of the Antikithera Channel, steering to the south-east to meet Force D (HMS Orion, HMS Ajax, HMS Dido, HMS Isis, HMS Imperial, HMS Janus and HMS Kimberley), which sighted nothing during the night and was now to the northward of Canea Bay and withdrawing towards the Antikithera Channel.

Force B (HMS Gloucester and HMS Fiji) was closing Force A 1 after an uneventful sweep between Cape Matapan and Cape Elophonesi (the south-west point of Crete).

The minelayer HMS Abdiel (Capt. E. Peydell-Bouverie, MVO, RN) was returning to Alexandria after laying mines off Cephalonia.

At the eastern end of Crete Force C (HMS Naiad, HMAS Perth, HMS Kandahar, HMS Kingston, HMS Juno and HMS Nubian) was joined at 0600 hours by the AA cruiser HMS Calcutta (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN). This force was now retiring from the Aegean through the Kaso Strait.

Force E (HMS Jervis, HMS Ilex and HMAS Nizam) was to the southward of Scarpanto and operating under the orders of Rear-Admiral King (Force C) as was the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. T.C. Hampton, RN) which was on passage from Alexandria.

Operations during 21 May 1941. Loss of HMS Juno.

During 21 May, Force A 1, B and D remained to the south-west of Kithera. Every opportunity, between air attacks, being taken to refuel destroyers from the battleships. Force C cruiser to the southward of the Kaso Strait where HMS Carlisle joined him in the afternoon. Force E was recalled to Alexandria.

Throughout the day various forces were subjected to heavy air attacks. Force C in particular suffered attacks from daylight onwards, and after withdrawing through the Kaso Strait, was bombed continuously from 0950 to 1350 hours.

At 1249 hours, HMS Juno was hit and sank in two minutes. Six officers and ninety-one ratings were rescued by Kandahar, Kingston and Nubian. During the attacks one enemy aircraft was shot down and two, maybe more, were damaged.

To the west of Crete Force D was located at daylight and heavily bombed while withdrawing towards Force A 1. HMS Orion and HMS Ajax both suffered damage from near misses.

Force A 1 was attacked once during the forenoon and for two and a half hours during the afternoon. This later bombing was shared by Forces B and D which were then in company. Two enemy aircraft were probably shot down.

No seaborne landing has as yet taken place but during the afternoon air reconnaissance reported groups of small craft, escorted by destroyers, moving towards Crete from Milos (80 miles north of Retimo). Forces B, C and D were therefore ordered into the Aegean to prevent landings during the night. If there were no developments Forces C and D, in the eastern and western areas respectively, were to commence working northwards on a wide zigzag at 0530/22, to locate convoys.

Force A followed Force D well into the Antikithera Channel as AA support, turning to the westward at sunset to patrol for the night in the supporting area. As the two forces parted company a sharp attack by four Ju.88’s was made on Force D which shot down three of them.

Force D breaks up a troop convoy, night of 21/22 May 1941.

At 2330/21 when some 18 miles north of Canea, Rear-Admiral Glennie with Force D which now consisted of HMS Dido, HMS Orion, HMS Ajax, HMS Janus, HMS Kimberley, HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) and HMS Hereward, encountered an enemy convoy composed mainly of caiques escorted by a torpedo boat. The caiques which were crowded with German troops were engaged for two and a half hours. In all, at least a dozen caiques, two or three steamers and a steam yacht were sunk or left burning. It was estimated that about 4000 German troops were accounted for [an over-estimate, the real number was about 800 of which some were rescued later]. In addition the Italian torpedo-boat Lupo, after firing torpedoes at the cruisers, was damaged by a broadside from HMS Ajax.

After taking a further sweep to the east and north, Rear-Admiral Glennie decided that, in view of serious shortage of AA ammunition (AA ammunition remaining; Orion 38%, Ajax 42%, Dido 30%) and the scale of air attack to be anticipated the next day, he was not justified in keeping his force in the Aegean to carry out the intended sweep to the northward at daylight. He accordingly turned to the westward at 0330/22. His ships which had become considerably scattered during the action were given a rendezvous some 30 miles west of Crete. This decision, together with the result of his attack on the convoy, he reported to the Commander-in-Chief who ordered Force D to return to Alexandria with all dispatch.

Meanwhile Force B (Gloucester, Fiji, HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.A. Marshall-A’Deane, DSO, DSC, RN) and Griffin) had been ordered by the Commander-in-Chief to leave their patrol off Cape Matapan and to proceed with dispatch to Heraklion where part of the town and harbour were reported to be in enemy hands. These orders reached Capt. Rowley in the Gloucester too late to be carried out, but the force entered the Aegean and at daylight was about 25 miles north of Canea. Nothing was sighted, and they retired to the westward towards Force A 1. Force B was attacked almost continuously by dive bombers for an hour and a half from 0630/22 onwards but escaped with slight damage only to each cruiser. They joined Force A 1 at 0830/22.

Naval situation at dawn, 22 May 1941.

At daylight on 22 May 1941, the position of the naval forces at sea was as follows. Rear-Admiral Rawlings with Force A 1 (HMS Warspite, HMS Valiant. HMAS Napier, HMS Imperial, HMS Isis, HMS Hero, HMS Hotspur and HMS Decoy) was about 45 miles south-west of Kithera, steering to the north-westward and shortly to be joined by the forces D and B from the Aegean.

The 5th Destroyer Flottilla had meanwhile (21 May) sailed from Malta the previous evening and was on passage to join Rear-Admiral Rawlings around 1000/22. This Flotilla was made up of five destroyers; HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, DSO, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Alliston, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN).

HMAS Stuart (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, DSO, RAN), HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, RAN) and HMAS Voyager (Cdr. J.C. Morrow, DSO, RAN) from the 10th Destroyer Flotilla as well as HMS Jervis, HMS Ilex and HMAS Nizam from the 14th Destroyer Flotilla were on passage from Alexandria to join Rear-Admiral Rawlings (Force A 1) and Rear-Admiral King (Force C) respectively.

Force C (HMS Naiad, HMAS Perth, HMS Calcutta, HMS Carlisle, HMS Kandahar, HMS Kingston and HMS Nubian) was off Heraklion about to sweep to the north-westward in search of enemy troop convoys.

The 22nd of May was to prove an expensive day for the British naval forces costing them two cruisers and a destroyer sunk, and leading directly to the situation which occasioned the loss of a further two destroyers the next morning. Also two battleships and two cruisers were damaged.

On the other hand the enemy was prevented from making a seaborne landing, and that so effectively as to deter him from any further attempts to do so, until the fall of Crete had been decided by his airborne troops.

Force C’s encounter with an enemy troop convoy, AM 22nd May.

Rear-Admiral King’s Force C had spent the night of 21/22 May patrolling of Heraklion. Nothing was sighted and at dawn the force formed up to carry out the sweep to the northward as ordered by the Commander-in-Chief. Air attacks on Force C commenced at 0700/22 and were continued without intermission. At 0830 hours a single caique carrying German troops was sighted. This caique was sunk by HMAS Perth, and as she was being heavily attacks by enemy aircraft, HMS Naiad turned back to support her. A small merchant vessel, reported by HMS Calcutta at 0909 hours was dealt with by the destroyers.

At 1000/22 Force C was 25 miles south of Milo (90 miles north of Retimo), HMAS Perth had rejoined the rest of the force but HMS Naiad was being heavily attacked and was still some way astern. Ten minutes later an enemy torpedo-boat (the Italian Saggitario) with four or five small sailing vessels was sighted to the northward. The destroyers gave chase, while the Perth and Naiad engaged the torpedo boat, causing her to retire behind smoke. HMS Kingston then engaged another destroyer, who was laying a smoke screen, at 7000 yards range, claiming two hits. She also reported a large number of caiques behind the smoke.

Force C was running short of AA ammunition. Air attacks were incessant and the force had to be kept together for mutual support. Its speed was limited as HMS Carlisle was unable to do more than 21 knots.

For these reasons, Rear-Admiral King considered that he would jeopadise his whole force if he proceeded any further to the northward. He therefore decided to withdraw to the westward and ordered his destroyers to abandon the chase. A signal from the Commander-in-Chief (timed 0941 hour), which showed that this convoy was of considerable size, was not seen by him until 1100 hours. The brief action did, however, cause the enemy to turn back, and the troops, if they ever reached Crete at all, were not in time to influence the battle.

During its withdrawal to the westward, Force C, was continuously bombed for three and a half hours. HMS Naiad due to avoiding action had been unable to overtake the remainder of the force had two 5.25” turrets out of action. Several compartments were flooded by near misses, and at 1125 hours, her speed being reduced to 16-19 knots, the remainder of the force was ordered back to her support. Over a period of two hours, 181 bombs had been counted as being aimed at HMS Naiad.

HMS Carlisle was hit, and although not seriously damaged her Commanding Officer was killed. Torpedo bombers attacked the force at 1258 and 1315 hours but all torpedoes were avoided. At 1321 hours Force C sighted Force A 1 coming up the Kithera Channel from the westward.

The junction of Force A 1 with Force C, 22 May 1941.

On learning that Rear-Admiral King would be withdrawing through the Kithera Channel, Rear-Admiral Rawlings had decided that he would meet him in that neighbourhood. Accordingly, after being joined by Forces B and D he spent the forenoon patrolling between 20 and 30 miles west of the channel. The ammunition situation was causing anxiety, and rigid economy was ordered.

At 1225 hours, Rear-Admiral Rawlings heard from Rear-Admiral King that HMS Naiad was badly damaged and in need of support. He immediately decided to enter the Aegean and steered for the Kithera Channel at 23 knots. AA shell bursts from Force C were sighted at 1312 hours and a few minutes afterwards a large caique was seen between Pori and Antikithera Islands, to the south of the channel. HMS Greyhound was ordered to sink it.

At 1332 hours, just as forces A 1/B/D and C were meeting HMS Warspite was attacked by three Me 109’s equipped with bombs. A bomb hit and wrecked the starboard 4” and 6” batteries and damaged number three boiler room fan intakes, thereby reducing the ship’s speed. Both forces then withdrew to the south-westward, air attacks continuing intermittently for most of the afternoon.

The loss of HMS Greyhound, HMS Gloucester, HMS Fiji, 22 May 1941.

HMS Greyhound meanwhile, after sinking the caique, was returning to her place in Force A 1’s screen when at 1351 hours she was struck by two bombs and sank stern first 15 minutes later. HMS Kandahar and HMS Kingston were detached from Force C to pick up survivors and shortly after 1400 hours, Rear-Admiral King (who was the senior officer of all the forces present) ordered HMS Gloucester and HMS Fiji to give them AA support and to stand by the sinking Greyhound. These rescuing ships, and the men swimming in the water were subjected to almost continuous bombing and machine gun attacks. HMS Kingston was damaged by three near misses.

At 1413 hours, Rear-Admiral King asked Rear-Admiral Rawlings for close support as Force C by that time had practically no AA ammunition left. Force A 1 closed at the Warspite’s best speed (18 knots), and Rear-Admiral Rawlings, who was feeling uneasy about the orders given to Gloucester and Fiji informed Rear-Admiral King about the depleted state of their AA ammunition stocks of which the latter was not aware. At 1457 hours, Rear-Admiral King therefore ordered the rescuing ships to withdraw at their discretion, leaving boats and rafts if air attack prevented the rescue of survivors from Greyhound.

At 1530 hours, HMS Gloucester and HMS Fiji were coming up astern of HMS Warspite at high speed, engaging enemy aircraft. At 1550 hours, HMS Gloucester was hit by several bombs and came to a full stop. She was badly on fire and her upper deck was a shambles. In view of the intensity of the air attacks the Captain of HMS Fiji reluctantly decided that he could offer no assistance to her. All available boats and floats were dropped and the Fiji proceeded to the southward with Kandahar and Kingston still being hotly attacked by enemy aircraft.

At 1710 hours, HMS Fiji reported that she was in position 24 miles, 305°, Cape Elophonesi (the south-west point of Crete), steering 175° at 27 knots, a position 30 miles due east of Forces A 1 and C which were steering 215°.

At 1845 hours, after having survived about 20 bombing attacks by aircraft formations during the last four hours she fell victim to a single Me. 109. The machine flew out of the clouds in a shallow dive and dropped its bomb very close to the port side amidships. The ship took up a heavy list, but was able to steam at 17 knots until half an hour later when another single machine dropped three bombs which hit above ‘A’ boiler room. The list increased and at 2015 hours she rolled right over and sank in position 34°45’N, 23°12’E. She had expended all her 4” ammunition except for six star shell.

HMS Kandahar and HMS Kingston dropped boats and floats and then withdrew to the southward to avoid almost certain damage from air attacks if they had stayed in the area. They returned after dark and were able to rescue 523 officers and men. It was during this rescue work that Cdr. W.R. Marshall-A’Deane the Commanding Officer of HMS Greyhound, who had been picked up by HMS Kandahar earlier in the day when his own ship was sunk, jumped overboard to help a men in distress. He was lost out of sight in the darkness and was never seen again.

HMS Kandahar and HMS Kingston had been subjected to 22 air attacks between 1445 and 1920 hours and were now running short of fuel. At 2245 hours they left the scene of the loss of HMS Fiji and shaped course to rendezvous with Rear-Admiral King’s forces to the southward of Crete.

Night operations, 22-23 May 1941

Meanwhile, Rear-Admiral King, with Forces C and A 1 had been steering to the south-westward. Spasmodic air attacks continued till dusk. At 1645 hours HMS Valiant was hit by two medium bombs but no serious damage was done to her. Course was altered to the southward at 1800 hours and to the eastward at 2100 hours

Captain Lord Louis Mountbatten with his five destroyers; HMS Kelly, HMS Kashmir, HMS Kelvin, HMS Kipling and HMS Jackal had been delayed on his passage from Malta by a promising A/S hunt and only effected his junction with Force A 1 at 1600/22. At 2030 hours Kelly, Kashmir and Kipling were detached to search for survivors from Fiji and half an hour later Kelvin and Jackal were also detached to try to search for survivors from Gloucester. Subsequently these searches for survivors were cancelled and the destroyers were ordered to patrol inside Kisamo and Canea Bays.

On arrival at the Antikithera Channel HMS Kipling developed a steering defect and was detached to join Force A 1. Later on as the defect was remedied, her Commanding Officer decided to remain to the south-west of Crete where he anticipated he was able to make rendezvous with the other destroyer on their return. To this fortunate decision Capt. D.5 and over 250 of his officers and men in all probability were to owe their lives.

Continuing into Canea Bay Kelly and Kashmir fell in with a troop carrying caique, which they damaged badly with gunfire. They then carried out a short bombardment at Maleme and, whilst withdrawing, they engaged and set on fire another caique.

The Naval Officer in Command Suda had meanwhile reported some lights in Canea Bay. These lights the Kelvin and Jackal, who were operating in Kissamo Bay, were ordered to investigate, and finding them to be shore lights, proceeded independently for Alexandria informing the Commander-in-Chief of this intention at 0300/23.

Towards the eastern end of Crete, Force E, consisting of HMS Jervis, HMAS Nizam, HMS Ilex and HMS Havock (Lt. G.R.G. Watkins, RN) maintained a patrol off Heraklion without incident. They set course to return to Alexandria in the morning. On the way there were bombed for five hours, Ilex and Havock being damaged by near misses.

During the night HMS Decoy and HMS Hero embarked the Greek King, members of the government and other prominent Greeks at Agriarumeli on the south coast of Crete after which the two destroyers sailed to join Rear-Admiral King forces to the southward.

In the meantime Forces C and A 1 were some 75 miles to the southward of Crete steering 110°. At 0100/23 ‘Force C’ parted company and proceeded for Alexandria. Some hours previously Rear-Admiral Rawlings had signalled to the Commander-in-Chief that a rallying point further to the east would be better than one to the southwest of Kithera. If this was approved it was suggested that the 5th Destroyer Flotilla should make it’s withdrawal from Canea Bay to the eastward and that the Commander-in-Chief should issue orders accordingly, to all forces. Force A 1 therefore continued steering 110° until 0400/23, when, no reply having been received from the Commander-in-Chief, course was altered to the south-westward. Rear-Admiral Rawlings was about to signal a rendezvous to the southwest of Cape Elophonesi when a message was received ordering the withdrawal of all force to Alexandria. He accordingly set course for Alexandria at 15 knots, informing scattered units of his position, course and speed at 0530/23.

The Commander-in-Chief orders withdrawal to Alexandria, 23 May 1941.

At 2230/22, the Commander-in-Chief had received a ‘Most Immediate’ message from Rear-Admiral Rawlings reporting the loss of HMS Gloucester and HMS Fiji, and giving details of the ammunition situation. Owning to an error at Alexandria this signal made it appear that the battleships of Force A 1 had no pompon ammunition left. Therefore at 0408/23 orders were given to all forces to retire to the eastward.

In actual fact, the battleships had plenty of ammunition. Had the Commander-in-Chief been aware of this, they would not have been ordered to Alexandria, and would have been available as a support and rallying point for the 5th Destroyer Flotilla in the morning of the 23rd.

Naval situation at dawn, 23 May 1941.

Dawn on 23 May 1941 found the naval forces in the waters around Crete considerably scattered. To the eastward Capt. Mack with Force E was north of Crete, returning to Alexandria through the Kaso Strait.

Rear-Admiral Glennie in HMS Dido was just arriving at Alexandria with HMS Orion and HMS Ajax some distance astern of him.

The transport HMS Glenroy (Capt.(Retd.) J.F. Paget, RN), with reinforcements on board and escorted by HMS Coventry (A/Capt. W.P. Carne, RN), HMS Auckland (A/Capt. E.G. Hewitt, RN) and HMS Flamingo (Cdr. R.J.O. Otway-Ruthven, RN) had left Alexandria the previous afternoon and was 130 miles out making for Tymbaki.on the south coast of Crete.

Forces A 1 and C were about 25 miles apart to the south of Crete and were returning to Alexandria. The destroyers HMS Kandahar and HMS Kingston, with survivors from HMS Fiji on board were about to join Force C. The destroyers HMS Decoy and HMS Hero, with the King of Greece on board, were to the northward of Force A 1 which they joined at 0745/23.

Further to the west, a bit to the south of Gavdos Island, was Capt. Waller in HMAS Stuart, HMAS Vendetta and HMAS Voyager, who had been ordered by Rear-Admiral Rawlings to search for survivors from HMS Fiji. Also in that area were the destroyers HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) and HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) which had left Alexandria the day before with munitions for the army.

HMS Kelvin and HMS Jackal were to the south-west of Crete and returning to Alexandria where they arrived on May, 24th. HMS Kipling was also in that vicinity and was hoping to join HMS Kelly and HMS Kashmir, who had cleared Canea Bay and were retiring close to the west coast of Crete.

Loss off HMS Kelly and HMS Kashmir, 23 May 1941.

Captain Lord Louis Mountbatten had been withdrawing at full speed since dawn. At 0755 hours, after surviving two air attacks without suffering damage, he was about 13 nautical miles to the southward of Gavdos Island when his ships were attacked by a force of 24 Ju.87 dive bombers. The Kashmir was hit and sunk in 2 minutes. A large bomb struck the Kelly while she was doing 30 knots under full starboard rudder. She turned turtle to port with considerable way on, and after floating upside down for about half an hour, finally sank. In accordance with earlier practice the dive bombers then machine-gunned the survivors in the water, killing and wounding several.

The attack was witnessed by HMS Kipling, who was some 7 to 8 miles to the southward. She immediately closed and succeeded in picking up 281 officers and men from the water including the Commanding Officers of both destroyers. She left the scene of the sinking for Alexandria at 1100/23. She was considerably hampered in this rescue work by six high level bombing attacks and it was subsequently estimated that between 0820 and 1300 hours no less then 40 aircraft attacked her, dropping 83 bombs, though she emerged from the ordeal unscathed.

Return of the British naval forces to Alexandria, 23 May 1941.

In the meantime Force C had been joined by HMS Kandahar and HMS Kingston with survivors from HMS Fiji on board at 0630/23. Both destroyers were very low on fuel. Force A 1 was only 25 miles to the north-west. Force C then closed Force A 1 and both destroyers were able to fuel from the battleships. Shortly after 0800 hours, a signal was received from HMS Kipling reporting the loss of HMS Kelly and HMS Kashmir. Rear-Admiral King reluctantly decided that he could sent no help from Forces A 1 and C.

HMS Decoy and HMS Hero, with the Greek Royal party on board, had joined Force A 1 about the same time, and in course of the forenoon all the scattered destroyer joined up except for HMS Kipling. Later in the day HMS Jaguar and HMS Defender were detached to land ammunition at Suda Bay. The remained of the force proceeded to Alexandria where they arrived in the early hours of the 24th.

The fighting in Crete, 21 -24 May 1941.

On shore, meanwhile, the situation deteriorated. During the 21st although Maleme airfield remained no-man’s land under fire from Italian guns manned by New Zealand gunners, enemy troop carriers landed there regardless of losses. Parachute reinforcements also arrived, and the Germans concentrated between Aliakanou and Canea, and immediately west of Meleme. The savage air bombardment of the British positions continued.

Early on the 22nd, a British counter attack reached Maleme airfield, but heavy dive bombing, and machine gun fire from air and ground rendered further progress impossible. Fighting continued throughout the day, but enemy troop carriers with reinforcements were arriving at a rate of more than 20 each hour, and the withdrawal of British troops to a new line further east was commenced.

The steady flow of German reinforcements, and very heavy air attacks on the British troops continued throughout the 23rd. On this day, the five Motor Torpedo Boats of the 10th M.T.B. Flotilla in Suda Bay (MTB 67, MTB 213, MTB 214, MTB 216 and MTB 217) were all sunk by air attacks. During their operations off the Cretan coast and in harbour they accounted for two aircraft shot down for sure and another two probably shot down.

By the 24th the AA defences of Suda had been seriously reduced and losses to small craft in port were heavy. Severe bombing of Canea compelled the withdrawal of the Army Headquarters to the Naval Headquarters at Suda.

At Heraklion, in the meantime, the Germans had been unable to make much headway. Successful counter attacks were carried out by British troops, in conjunction with Greek and Cretan forces on the 21st, and the situation remained will in hand the next day. 20 to 30 German troop carrying aircraft were destroyed by AA fire. On the 23rd an ultimatum from the Germans calling for the surrender of Heraklion was rejected by the British and Greek commanders, though by this time the Greeks were running short of ammunition.

Reinforcements and supplies to the Army in Crete.

Throughout the Battle of Crete, frequent attempts were made to throw reinforcements and supplies into the island, with varying success.

All disembarkation had to planned to take place at night, owning to the German command of the air. Attempts were made to use HMS Glenroy and merchant vessels for this purpose, but it was found in practice that only warships were able to get through.

On the night of the 23rd – 24th of May, HMS Jaguar and HMS Defender landed stores and ammunition at Suda between midnight and 0200 hours. They returned to Alexandria with officers and men not required in Crete as well as some wounded.

HMS Glenroy embarked 900 men from the Queens Royal Regiment, H.Q. staff of the 16th Infantry Brigade and 18 vehicles at Alexandria. She then sailed for Tymbaki on the afternoon of the 22nd escorted by HMS Coventry, HMS Auckland and HMS Flamingo. These ships were recalled at 1127/23 due to the heavy air attacks sustained by the Fleet.

The following day, HMS Isis, HMS Hero and HMAS Nizam sailed from Alexandria with the Headquarters and two battalions of special service troops, known as ‘Layforce’. These were to be landed on the south-west coast of Crete at Selinos Kastelli. The weather conditions however did not permitted a landing and it had to be cancelled.

During the night of 24 – 25 May, the fast minelayer HMS Abdiel landed about 200 personnel of ‘Layforce’ and about 80 tons of stores at Suda. She returned with about 50 wounded and 4 Greek Cabinet Ministers. A dive bombing attack by 4 Ju.88’s at 1300/25 was successfully avoided.

On arrival at Alexandria in the evening of the 25th, HMS Abdiel embarked Brigadier Laycock with 400 men and 100 tons of stores. She left again early on the 26th accompanied by HMS Hero and HMAS Nizam. These ships landed about 750 troops and stores at Suda during the night of 26 – 27 May. These were the last reinforcements landed in Crete.

About 930 men no longer required there were then embarked and taken back to Alexandria in HMS Abdiel. Air attacks commenced at daylight, just north-west of the Kaso Strait, and continued intermittently till 1130/27. No damage was sustained except by HMS Hero whose speed was reduced to 28 knots by a near miss at 0700 hours.

Meanwhile the Glenroy with a battalion of the Queen’s Regiment on board, had sailed from Alexandria for Tymbaki during the evening of the 25th. She was being escorted by HMS Coventry, HMAS Stuart and HMS Jaguar. The force was subjected to bombing attacks by enemy reconnaissance aircraft during the forenoon. At 1820/26 there were heavy dive bombing attacks. Glenroy was slightly damaged sustained some casualties owing to near misses and machine gun attacks. Three of her landing craft were holed and a large dump of cased petrol on the upper deck caught fire, which necessitated steering down wind until the fire was put out. With 800 troops on board and with a large cargo of petrol it was a nasty situation. By 1950 hours the fire was under control and course was resumed to the northward. A final attack by torpedo bombers at 2050 hours caused no further damage. The torpedoes were being successfully evaded. The Glenroy was now about three hours behind schedule and wither landing craft capacity down by about a third and the weather forecast in mind it was decided to cancel the operation and the force was ordered to return to Alexandria.

One other attempt was made to transport some supplies to Crete. Convoy AN 31 of three Greek merchant ships escorted by HMS Auckland left Alexandria at 0500/26. One of the merchant vessels soon had to turn back due to engine trouble. The convoy escort was later reinforced by HMS Calcutta and HMS Defender. Early the next forenoon it was realised that under the existing conditions they would not have a chance of reaching the island and they too were recalled. Shortly after turning back the convoy was attacked by about 9 Ju.88’s but no damage was sustained. One of the attacking aircraft was seen to be hit by AA fire.

Naval situation at dawn, 24 May 1941.

At daylight on the 24th, the only naval forces at sea were HMS Jaguar and HMS Defender, which were about to pass through the Kaso Strait on passage from Suda Bay to Alexandria and HMS Abdiel which had left Alexandria during the night and was on passage to Suda Bay with more stores for the Army.

HMS Kipling with the survivors from HMS Kelly and HMS Kashmir on board was about 70 miles from Alexandria, practically out of fuel. HMS Protector (Cdr. R.J. Gardner, RN) had been sent out to meet her.

It was on this day that the Commander-in-Chief, well aware under which strain his ships were working, signalled to his Fleet. ‘The Army is just holding its own against constant reinforcement of airborne enemy troops. We must NOT let them down. At whatever cost to ourselves, we must land reinforcements for them and keep the enemy from using the sea. There are indications that the enemy resources are stretched to the limit. We can and must outlast them. STICK IT OUT.’

The Commander-in-Chief’s appreciation, 24 May 1941.

Four days had now elapsed since the opening of the attack on Crete and in reply to a request from the Chiefs-of-Staff for an appreciation, the Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean, informed them that the scale of air attack now made it no longer possible for the Navy to operate in the Aegean or vicinity of Crete by day. The Navy could not guarantee to prevent seaborne landings without suffering losses which, added to those already sustained, would very seriously prejudice our command of the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Chiefs-of-Staff replied that the Fleet and Royal Air Force were to accept whatever risk was entailed in preventing any considerable enemy reinforcement from reaching Crete. If enemy convoys were reported north of Crete, the Fleet would have to operate in that area by day, although considerable losses might be expected. Experience would show for how long this situation could be maintained.

To this the Commander-in-Chief replied on the 26th that the determining factor in operating in the Aegean was not the fear of sustaining losses but the need to avoid crippling the Fleet. He added that the enemy, so far, had apparently not succeeded in landing any appreciable reinforcements by sea.

As how long the situation could be maintained, he pointed out that in three days two cruisers and four destroyers had been sunk, one battleship had been put out of action for several months, and two cruisers and four destroyers had been considerably damaged. He also referred to the strain both to personnel and machinery in the light craft, who had been operating to the limits of their endurance since February.

Captain McCarthy’s Force , 24-26 May 1941.

There had been indications that a landing might take place in the east of Crete at Sitia on the night of 24-25 May. To deal with this threat a Force consisting of the cruisers HMS Ajax (Senior Officer), HMS Dido, destroyers HMS Hotspur, HMS Imperial and HMS Kimberley left Alexandria at 0800/24 and passing through the Kaso Strait swept the north coast of Crete during the night. Nothing was sighted and the Force withdrew to the southward of Kaso before daylight. Here they remained during the 25th, repeating the sweep north of Crete the next night. Again nothing was sighted.

F.A.A. attack on Scarpanto airfield, 26 May 1941.

It was known that Scarpanto airfield was being extensively used by the enemy in his operations against Crete, and it was therefore decided to attack it with Fleet Air Arm aircraft from HMS Formidable (Capt. A.W.la T. Bisset, RN, flying the flag of A/Rear-Admiral D.W. Boyd, CBE, DSC, RN), who had now built up her fighter strength to 12 Fulmars.

Vice-Admiral Pridham-Whippel left Alexandria on the 25th with Force A which was made up of the battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.D. Pridham-Whippell, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Barham (Capt. G.C. Cooke, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable and the destroyers HMS Jervis, HMS Janus, HMS Kandahar, HMS Nubian, HMS Hasty, HMS Hereward, HMAS Voyager and HMAS Vendetta.

At 0330/26 this Force was about 100 miles to the south-south-west of Scarpanto. Four Albacores and later five Fulmars were flown off from HMS Formidable to attack the airfield. The Albacores achieved complete surprise. They destroyed two enemy aircraft and damaged several others while the Fulmars damaged a number of Cr.42’s and Ju.87’s. All aircraft had returned to Formidable by 0700 hours. By now the Force headed by HMS Ajax had also joined coming from the Kaso Strait. ‘Force A’ now set course to the southward.

Operations of ‘Force A’, HMS Formidable and HMS Nubian damaged, 26 May 1941.

During the forenoon of the 26th May, enemy aircraft were continually being detected. The eight remaining serviceable aircraft, four of which were fighters, made 24 flights, during which there were 20 combats. Two enemy aircraft were shot down and two more were probably destroyed. One Fulmar was lost.

At 1320 hours, when about 150 miles south of the Kaso Strait ‘Force A’ was attacked by about 20 dive bombers which approached from the African coast. HMS Formidable was hit twice, her starboard side was blown out between numbers 17 and 24 bulkheads and ‘X’ turret and cable and accelerator gear were put out of action.

During the same attack, HMS Nubian, was hit right aft and had her stern blown off. She was still able to steam 20 knots. She was then detached to Alexandria with HMS Jackal where she arrived under her own steam that night.

Force A than shaped course to the eastward and after dark HMS Formidable escorted by HMS Hereward, HMAS Vendetta and HMAS Voyager parted company and set course for Alexandria. The remainder of the Force operated to the north-eastward of Alexandria during the night.

Naval situation at dawn, 27 May 1941.

At daylight, 27 May 1941, ‘Force A’, now consisted of the battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Barham and escorted by the destroyers HMS Jervis, HMS Janus, HMS Kandahar, HMS Kelvin, HMAS Napier and HMS Hasty were about 250 nautical miles south-east of Kaso, steering to the north-westward. In the Kaso Strait HMS Abdiel, HMS Hero and HMAS Nizam were returning from Suda Bay.

Some 90 nautical miles to the north-west of Force A, HMS Glenroy and her escorting destroyers; HMAS Stuart and HMS Jaguar were steering for Alexandria after their abortive attempt to land troops and supplies at Tymbaki. About half way between these two forces was convoy AN 31 heading for Crete. This convoy was recalled soon afterwards.

Operations of ‘Force A’, HMS Barham damaged, 27 May 1941.

Vice-Admiral Pridham-Whippel with Force A had been steering since daylight for the Kaso Strait to cover the withdrawal of HMS Abdiel, HMS Hero and HMAS Nizam. At 0859 hours, 15 Ju.88’s and He.111’s attacked from the direction of the sun. HMS Barham was hit on ‘Y’ turret and two of her bulges were flooded by near misses. A fire was started, which necessitated steering down wind to the south until it was extinguished two hours later. Two enemy aircraft were shot down and one was seen to be damaged.

At 1230 hours, on receipt of instructions from the Commander-in-Chief, Force A shaped course for Alexandria, arriving there at 1900 hours that evening.

The collapse in the Suda-Maleme area, 26 May 1941.

While these operation had been in progress at sea, the battle on shore had continued with unabated bitterness. Sunday, May 25th, the sixth day of the enemy attack was critical for the Australian and New Zealand troops in the Maleme area. After continuous bombing of their positions all day, a strong enemy attack took Galatos. British light tanks and New Zealand troops retook it at the point of the bayonet. This was described by General Fryberg as ‘one of the great efforts in the defence of Crete’. The position could not be held, however, and with Maleme no longer under fire, enemy troop carriers poured in reinforcements. Late that night the new line formed in the Maleme-Canea sector was broken by the Germans, after several attacks had been repulsed.

The next day (May 26th) further attacks compelled the tired New Zealand and Australian troops to withdraw still further towards Suda. They had fought for six days without respite; more then 20 fiece bayonet counter attacks had been carried out, and throughout the whole period they had been subjected to air attacks on unprecedented scale. That night the line collapsed and the retreat commenced.

So suddenly did the collapse come at the last, that there had been no time to organise the retirement and though the infantry which withdrew from the front line did so in good order, the movements of the rest of the force were uncontrolled, and much congestion on the route resulted.

The withdrawal, which was directed towards Sphakia continued during the 27th. By this time a rearguard had been organised which was able to cover the retirement of the bulk of the remainder to Sphakia.

Meanwhile in the Heraklion sector the British troops were holding out. On the 26th, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, and two of the ‘I’ tanks landed at Tymbaki on the 19th, succeeded in breaking through from the south and joining them. With the Suda-Maleme area in the hands of the enemy, however, the position of the troops at Heraklion was clearly untenable and it appeared to be only a matter of time before the enemy would launch a major attack on them.

The work of the Royal Air Force.

Throughout the battle, the Royal Air Force, working from Egypt, did all that was possible to afford relief to our troop in Crete; but the distance was too great to maintain a scale of attack on the Germans that could affect the issue.

Enemy positions and aircraft were attacked at Maleme by Blenheims and Marylands (of the S.A.A.F.) at intervals on the 23rd, 25th, 26th and 27th of May. In these raids at least 40 enemy aircraft of various types were destroyed and many others damaged. Nine Ju.52’s carrying troops were destroyed by Hurricanes on the 23rd and 26th. Wellingtons bombed Maleme on the nights of the 23rd, 25th, 26th, 27th and 29th. They also attacked Scarpanto on the nights of the 25th, 27th, 28th and 29th and Heraklion on the 30th at 31st of May and 1st of June.

All these attacks caused fires and explosions but the extent of the damage is not known. During the battle the R.A.F. lost 38 aircraft, 33 of them in the air.

The decision to evacuate Crete, 27 May 1941.

Messages received from the G.O.C. Troops in Crete and the N.O.I.C. Suda Bay made it clear that our line defending Suda had collapsed with great suddenness.

In a message times 0824/27, General Wavell informed the Prime Minister that he feared we must recognise that Crete was no longer tenable, and that, so far as possible, the troops must be withdrawn. In reply to this message, the Chiefs-of-Staff ordered Crete to be evacuated forthwith.

Evacuation from Sphakia, 1st night, 28-29 May 1941.

At 0600/28, less then 24 hours after the decision to evacuate Crete had been taken, Force B, consisting of the light cruisers HMS Orion, HMS Ajax, HMS Dido and the destroyers HMS Decoy, HMS Hereward, HMS Hotspur, HMS Imperial, HMS Jackal and HMS Kimberley departed Alexandria to evacuate the Heraklion garrison. Rear-Admiral Rawlings, flying his flag in Orion was given charge of this operation.

Two hours later, Force C, under Capt. Arliss, left Alexandria for Sphakia. It was made up of HMAS Napier, HMAS Nizam, HMS Kandahar and HMS Kelvin. Force C had an uneventful passage and commenced embarkation at 0030/29. The operation was completed by 0300/29 by which time the four destroyers had taken on board nearly 700 troops and had landed badly needed rations for 15000.

On the return passage, the force was attacked by four Ju.88’s at about 0900 hours, HMAS Nizam suffered minor damage from a near miss. Fighter protection had been arranged from 0545 hours and at 0940 hours a crashed enemy aircraft was sighted, probably shot down by our fighters. Force C arrived at Alexandria at 1700/29 without much enemy interference.

Evacuation of the Heraklion garrison, 1st night, 28-29 May 1941.

Rear-Admiral Rawlings, meanwhile, had been having a much more different experience. At 1700/28 Force B was about 90 miles from Scarpanto and from then until dark was subjected to a series of air attacks. High level, dive bombing and torpedo.

At 1920 hours, HMS Imperial was near missed but appeared to be undamaged and 50 minutes later a near miss caused slight damage and some casualties in HMS Ajax which was then detached to Alexandria.

On arrival of the force at Heraklion at 2330/28 the destroyers immediately entered harbour, embarked troops from the jetties and ferried them to the cruisers outside. By 0245/29 the ferrying was complete and a quarter of an hour later HMS Kimberley and HMS Imperial had embarked the rearguard.

At 032 hours the force proceeded to sea at 29 knots with the whole of the Heraklion garrison on board, some 4000 troops. All went well until 0345 hours when HMS Imperial’s steering gear failed and she nearly collided with HMS Orion and HMS Dido. Her rudder was jammed and repairs could not be made. Delaying the force would mean more air attacks and it was vital to be as far away as possible from the enemy airfields before daylight. It was therefore decided to take off the troops from HMS Imperial and then sink her. At 0445 hours this was successfully done by HMS Hotspur which had now 900 troops on board. By now Force B was about 1,5 hours late and it was only at sunrise that they arrived off the Kaso Strait. The German air force was already waiting.

Air attacks commenced at 0600 hours and continued at intervals to 1500 hours when the force was within 100 miles from Alexandria.

At 0625 hours, HMS Hereward was hit by a bomb which forced her to reduce speed and fall away from her position in the screen. The force was then in the middle of the Kaso Strait and once more Rear-Admiral Rawlings had to decide whether to endanger his whole force and the troops on board for the sake of a single ship, or to leave her for a certain destruction. HMS Hereward was last seen making slowly towards Crete which was only five miles distant with her guns engaging enemy aircraft.

Twenty minutes later HMS Decoy suffered damage to her machinery as the result of a near miss and the speed of the force had to be reduced to 25 knots. A further reduction to 21 knots was needed after HMS Orion had been near-missed at 0730 hours.

With 4000 troops on board, the speed reduced to 21 knots, and no fighter support, things were beginning to look ugly. The Commander-in-Chief realised from Rear-Admiral Rawlings signals that our fighters had not appeared and every endeavour was made to rectify this but the fighters only appeared at noon.

By this time Force B had suffered badly. Shortly after 0730 hours Capt. Back, the Flag captain of HMS Orion was wounded and died two hours later. His place was taken by Cdr. Wynne.

At 0815 hours, HMS Dido was hit on ‘B’ turret and the Orion on ‘A’ turret at 0900 hours, both by bombs from Ju.87 dive bombers. In each case the turrets were put out of action.

At 1045 hours, HMS Orion was again attacked by Ju.87’s and a bomb passed through her bridge, putting the lower conning tower out of action. Force B was then 100 miles south of Kaso and this was the last attack made by dive bombers.

The Orion had nearly 1100 troops on board and the casualties on the crowded mess decks were very heavy. It is believed that a total of 260 were killed and 280 were wounded. In addition three of the engineer officers were killed. All normal communication between the bridge and the engine room was destroyed, the steering gear was put out of action, and three boiler rooms were damaged. Also there were fires in the foremost 6” and 4” magazines.

Fortunately there was a lull in the air attacks until 1300/29 when a high level bombing attack developed, followed by another one at 1330 hours and a final one at 1500 hours.

Force B arrived at Alexandria at 2000/29. HMS Orion only having 10 tons of fuel and two rounds of 6” HE remaining.

Feasibility of further evacuation considered, 29-30 May 1941.

This disastrous commencement of the evacuation placed the Commander-in-Chief in a most unpleasant predicament. Of the 4000 troops embarked in Force B, no less then 800 had been killed or captured (those on the Hereward) after leaving Crete. If this was to be the scale of the casualties, it appeared that quite apart from prospective naval losses of ships and men, who could be ill spared, our efforts to rescue the army from capture might only lead to destruction of a large portion of the troops.

Particular anxiety was feld for the transport HMS Glengyle (A/Capt.(Retd.) C.H. Petrie, RN) which was already at sea and was due to embark 3000 troops the next night (29-30 May).

It was only after long and anxious consideration, and consultation with the Admiralty, as well as with the military authorities, that the decision to continue the evacuation could be taken.

Once taken this decision was amply justified. The remainder of the evacuation proceeded almost without casualties to personnel. Fighter protection became steadily more effective, and the enemy less enterprising. His failure to interfere with the nightly embarkations at Sphakia was most surprising.

The original intention to send ships to Plaka Bay to take off the Retimo garrison was abandoned, as it was not known whether the troops had received the message ordering them to retire there. Moreover it was doubtful that they would be able to reach the coast, since they had no supplies. 1200 rations were dropped by air at Plaka, in case any should get there, but it was decided to send ships to Sphakia only.

From messages received from Crete during the night of 28-29 May, it was thought that the next night was going to be the last night of the evacuation but in the course of the day it became clear that the situation was not so desperate as it had appeared and the Commander-in-Chief decided to send four destroyers to embark men on the night of 30-31 May.

Evacuation from Sphakia, 2nd night, 29-30 May 1941.

Meanwhile Rear-Admiral King, wearing his flag in HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RN) had left Alexandria in the evening of the 28th with the light cruiser HMAS Perth, AA cruisers HMS Calcutta, HMS Coventry, transport HMS Glengyle, destroyers HMS Jervis, HMS Janus and HMS Hasty (Force D). Detination was Sphakia and their passage was uneventful except for one attack by one Ju.88 which dropped a stick of bombs near HMAS Perth but no damage was caused.

The cruisers and the Glengyle anchored off Sphakia at 2330/29 and the destroyers closed in one at a time to embark their quota. The troops were ferried from the beach in the landing craft from Glengyle assisted by two assault craft carried in HMAS Perth. The beach was too small for ships boats to be used in addition.

By 0320/30 a total of 6000 men had been embarked and Force D sailed for Alexandria, leaving three motor landing craft behind for use on subsequent nights. During the passage there were three air attacks on the force which had been joined by the destroyers HMAS Stuart, HMS Defender and HMS Jaguar at 0645 hours.

In the fist of these attacks, at 0930 hours, HMAS Perth was hit and her foremost boiler room was put out of action. The second and third attacks achieved no result although bombs fell close to HMAS Perth and HMS Jaguar. Fighter cover was able to drive off quite a number of enemy aircraft.

Evacuation from Sphakia, 3rd night, 30-31 May 1941.

At 0915/30, Force C, consisting of the destroyers HMAS Napier, HMAS Nizam, HMS Kandahar and HMS Kelvin again left Alexandria for Sphakia. After a few hours Kandahar developed a mechanical defect and had to return to Alexandria.

At 1530 hours, three Ju.88’s carried out an unseen dive from astern. Bombs were dropped and HMS Kelvin was near missed. The result was that her speed had to be reduced to 20 knots and she too was detached to Alexandria.

Captain Arliss now continued on with only the two Australian destroyers and arrived at Sphakia at 0030/31. By 0300 hours, each destroyer had embarked over 700 troops, using the three motor landing craft that had been left behind the previous night, supplemented by the ships boats.

On the return passage to Alexandria the two Australian destroyers were attacked by 12 Ju.88’s between 0815 and 0915 hours. Both destroyers were damaged by near misses and HMAS Napier had her speed reduced to 23 knots. One Ju.88 was shot down while three others were seen to be hit.

Fighter cover was able to shoot down three Ju.88’s and one Cant 1007 during the day. The remainder of the passage was without incident and HMAS Napier and HMAS Nizam arrived at Alexandria in the evening with a total of 1510 troop on board.

The final evacuation, Sphakia, 31 May – 1 June 1941.

A final evacuation of about 3000 men was required, which was more then previously was estimated. It was therefore decided to sent over one more Force to evacuate these men during the night of 31 May – 1 June.

So at 0600/31, Vice Admiral King departed Alexandria with the light cruiser HMS Phoebe (Flag), fast minelayer HMS Abdiel, destroyers HMS Hotspur, HMS Jackal and HMS Kimberley to carry out this final evacuation (Force D).

That forenoon the Commander-in-Chief received a signal from Capt. Arliss, who was then on his way back from Sphakia, which indicated that there was then some 6500 men to come off Crete. Vice-Admiral King was then authorized to increase the total number he was allowed to embark to 3500 men. This was later changed to ‘fill up to maximum capacity’.

In the evening of the 31st the force was attacked three times by enemy aircraft. None of the bombs fell very close and one Ju.88 was believed to be damaged by AA fire. Many bombs were seen to be jettisoned on the horizon indicating several successful combats by our fighters.

Force D arrived at 2320/31. Three fully loaded landing craft, the ones left behind, immediately went alongside. The embarkation went so quickly that for a time the beach was empty of troops. This was unfortunate as it led to a last minute rush, which could not be dealt with in the time available and some troops had to be left behind. Some medical stores were landed and finally the three motor landing craft were destroyed or sunk.

The force departed at 0300/1 having embarked nearly 4000 troops and arrived at Alexandria at 1700 hours that day. The return passage was uneventful.

The loss off HMS Calcutta.

Yet one more loss was suffered by the Fleet. In order to provide additional protection for Force D the AA cruisers HMS Calcutta and HMS Coventry were sailed from Alexandria early on the 1st of June. When only about 100 nautical miles out, they were attacked by two Ju.88’s, who dived from the direction of the sun. HMS Coventry was narrowly missed by the first but two bombs from the second hit HMS Calcutta and she sank within a few minutes at 0920/1. HMS Coventry then picked up 23 officers and 232 ratings. She then immediately returned to Alexandria.

Conclusion.

Throughout the operations the Mediterranean Fleet had played a worthy part. Whilst the land fighting was in progress, sea-borne invasion had been prevented and reinforcements and stores for the Army had been maintained. When the evacuation was ordered, some 16500 British and Imperial troops were brought safely to Egypt and provisions and stores were landed for those who had to be left behind.

The Fleet had to pay a heavy price for its achievement. Losses and damage were sustained which would normally only occur during a major fleet action, in which the enemy fleet might be expected to suffer greater damage then our own. On this occasion, the enemy fleet was conspicuous by its absence, though it had many favourable opportunities for intervening, and the battle was fought out between ships and aircraft.

All forms of air attack were experienced by our ships but it were the dive bombing attacks that caused most of the losses and damage. Torpedo attacks for instance resulted in no ships being hit at all. When ships were inside the Aegean during 21/22 May air attacks were almost continuous. Aircraft appeared to land on nearby airfield, load up with new bombs, refuel and take off again.

During the evacuation the Royal Air Force gave what little protection was possible to the fleet and the presence of even a few fighter aircraft on the enemy was noticeable. It was regrettable that none had been made available to protect the Fleet during the earlier stages of the battle for Crete.

Warm thanks were expressed to the Navy by the Commanders-in-Chief of the Army and Air Force for their efforts during the Battle for Crete. (55)

31 May 1941
After emergency repairs HMS Barham (Capt. G.C. Cooke, RN) departed Alexandria for Port Said. She was to proceed to Durban, South Africa for full repairs.

During the passage to Port Said she was escorted by the destroyers HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) and the sloop HMS Flamingo (Cdr. R.J.O. Otway-Ruthven, RN). They arrived at Port Said the next day after which the escorts immediately returned to Alexandria. (53)

7 Jun 1941
'Force B', made up of the light cruisers HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN), HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) and HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN) departed Alexandria so to be off the Syrian coast at dawn the following day for their role supporting the Army during Operation Exporter, the Allied attack on the Vichy-French colony of Syria. (56)

9 Jun 1941
Shortly after 0300 hours, the light cruiser HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RN) was attacked but missed by the Vicy-French submarine Caiman off the Syrian coast.

Also during this day, between 0949 and 1010 hours, the Vichy-French destroyers Guepard and Valmy from Beirut bombarded Allied Army positions in Syria.

The destroyer HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN), alone off Sidon, engaged the French destroyers and was badly damaged in doing so. The destroyers HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN), HMS Isis (Cdr. C.S.B. Swinley, DSC, RN), and HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN), which were nearby, then joined and managed to drive the French destroyers off.

Two more destroyers later joined as they had been close inshore for bombardment duties, these were HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN).

HMS Kimberley then took the badly damaged HMS Janus in tow towards Haifa screened by HMS Kandahar.

HMS Hotspur, HMS Isis and HMS Jackal meanwhile were in pursue of the Vichy-French destroyer which managed to return to Beirut. HMS Jackal sustained some minor damage from a shell hit during the action.

The damaged HMS Janus safely arrived at Haifa on the 10th. (57)

10 Jun 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN) again operated close inshore off the Syrian coast to support the Army.

[The exact movements of the detroyers operating of Syria are (for the moment) unknown to us.]

13 Jun 1941
The light cruiser HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, RN) and the destroyers HMAS Stuart (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, DSO, RAN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) and HMS Hotspur (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, DSC, RN) departed Haifa early in the afternoon to return to Alexandria. (56)

14 Jun 1941
HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, RN), HMAS Stuart (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, DSO, RAN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) and HMS Hotspur (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, DSC, RN) arrived at Alexandria from Haifa after operations off Syria. (56)

26 Jun 1941
The battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN), HMS Warspite (Capt. D.B. Fisher, CBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. C.E. Morgan, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, RN), fast minelayer HMS Abdiel (Capt. E. Peydell-Bouverie, MVO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN), HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN) departed Alexandria for exercises between Alexandria and Port Said.

HMS Warspite was later detached to Port Said. She was to proceed to the USA for repairs and refit. She was escorted to Port Said by HMS Griffin, HMS Kandahar and HMS Kimberley. After delivering the battleship at Port Said, Griffin and Kandahar proceeded to Haifa, where they arrived on 27 June, to operate off the Syrian coast while Kimberley rejoined the Fleet.

The light cruiser HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN) and the fast minelayer HMS Latona (Capt. S.L. Bateson, RN) also joined the Fleet for the exercises.

The Fleet returned to Alexandria the next day (27th). (56)

27 Jun 1941
HMAS Perth (Capt. P.W. Bowyer-Smith, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Havock (Lt. G.R.G. Watkins, RN) and HMS Griffin (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN) departed Haifa around 2000 hours to operate off Syria. They returned to Haifa around 0600/28.

29 Jun 1941
Around 2015/29, HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Griffin (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), departed Haifa to patrol off Syria. During the night several minor bombardments were carried out in the Damur area. The ships returned to Haifa around 0630/30. (58)

1 Jul 1941
HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, RN), HMS Havock (Lt. G.R.G. Watkins, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) departed Haifa at 2030/1 to conduct a sweep along the coast of Syria during the night. They returned to Haifa around 0600/2. (56)

2 Jul 1941
At 1000 hours, HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RN), HMAS Perth (Capt. P.W. Bowyer-Smith, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Havock (Lt. G.R.G. Watkins, RN) and HMS Griffin (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN) departed Haifa for a bombardment of the Damur area.

The actual bombardment was carried out between 1306 and 1334 by HMAS Perth and the destroyers.

Shortly after 1500 hours the force was attacked by aircraft but no damage was done.

All ships returned to harbour around 0700/3 after having patrolled off Syria during the night. (58)

3 Jul 1941
HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) departed Haifa for Alexandria. (56)

4 Jul 1941
HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) arrived at Alexandria from Haifa. (56)

10 Jul 1941
HMS Valiant (Capt. C.E. Morgan, DSO, RN), HMNZS Leander (Capt. R.H. Bevan, RN), HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) conducted exercises off Alexandria. (59)

16 Jul 1941
HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) departed Alexandria at 1245/16 to escort convoy LE 25 (no further details known) to Beirut.

HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) also departed Alexandria that day, but earlier, at 0725 hours, to proceed to Port Said where she picked up the remainder of the convoy and then make rendez-vous at sea.

At 2030 hours the AA cruiser HMS Coventry (Capt. W.P. Carne, RN) departed Alexandria to overtake and join the convoy.

The convoy arrived at Beirut on the 18th. Cover had been provided by the light cruiser HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, RN) and two other destroyers [must have been either HMS Hasty, HMS Jackal, HMS Kingston and / or HMAS Nizam.] (59)

22 Jul 1941
Around 2100 hours, the Mediterranean Fleet, made up of the battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. C.E. Morgan, DSO, RN), light cruisers HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN), HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN), fast minelayers HMS Abdiel (Capt. E. Peydell-Bouverie, MVO, RN), HMS Latona (Capt. S.L. Bateson, RN) and the destroyers HMS Griffin (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Havock (Lt. G.R.G. Watkins, RN), HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN), HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN) departed Alexandria to proceed to a position to the west of Crete.

Earlier that day the light cruisers HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO, RN), HMNZS Leander (Capt. R.H. Bevan, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN) had departed Haifa to rendez-vous with the fleet at 0600/23.

At daylight on 23 July the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (A/Cdr. W. Pope, RN) also joined the fleet.

After dark on 23 July the fleet turned eastwards. HMS Neptune, HMS Abdiel and HMS Kimberley were then detached with orders to proceed to Port Said where they arrived on 24 July.

HMS Latona, HMS Jervis, HMS Jaguar and HMS Kandahar were detached on the 24th to make rendez-vous off Alexandria with the damaged aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.W.la T. Bisset, RN) and escort her to Port Said. HMS Formidable arrived at Port Said on the 25th. HMS Latona and the destroyers then proceeded to Haifa.

On the 24th HMNZS Leander was also detached with orders to proceed to Port Said where she arrived on 25 July to embark troops together with HMS Latona and HMS Jaguar.

The bulk of the fleet returned to Alexandria on 25 July. (56)

4 Aug 1941
At 1300 hours HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN) departed Haifa for gunnery and torpedo exercises. On completion of these they proceeded to Port Said.

The following morning they were joined at sea by HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair-Ford, RN).

They arrived at Port Said around 1000/5.

5 Aug 1941
HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair-Ford, RN) departed Port Said with troops for Farmagusta. (56)

6 Aug 1941
HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair-Ford, RN) arrived at Farmagusta. After unloading the troops HMS Neptune, HMS Kandahar and HMS Kimberley departed for Alexandria where they arrived later the same day while HMS Kipling proceeded to Haifa where she also arrived later the same day. (56)

7 Aug 1941
Around 1030 hours, HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN), departed Alexandria to operate off the Libyan coast against enemy supply traffic.

When off Mersa Matruh they were recalled.

They arrived back at Alexandria around 1355/8 (60)

9 Aug 1941
A dinghy was reported about 180 nautical miles north-west of Alexandria. It was thought the crew of a downed aircraft were in it so HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, RAN) departed Alexandria around 1800 hours followed by HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) around 2200 hours with orders to search for the dinghy.

It was later realised that the crew in the dinghy were German so both destroyers were recalled.

They both returned to Alexandria around 0800/10. (60)

10 Aug 1941
Around 1310 hours, HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN), departed Alexandria to operate off Mersa Matruh against enemy supply traffic if this was being reported.

Nothing was however sighted and they arrived back at Alexandria around 1050/11. (60)

12 Aug 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN) departed Alexandria around 0845 hours for Mersa Matruh where they were to pick up supplies and with which they were to proceed to Tobruk.

They returned to Alexandria in the afternoon of the 13th. (60)

14 Aug 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN) departed Alexandria for Tobruk where they were to land stores.

They returned to Alexandria around 1320/15. (60)

16 Aug 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN) departed Alexandria around 0900 hours with stores for Tobruk.

They returned to Alexandria around 1330/17. (60)

21 Aug 1941
HMS Griffin (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN), HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) and <HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) departed Alexandria at 0815/21 for a supply run to Tobruk. They returned to Alexandria at 1300/22. (60)

25 Aug 1941
Around 0830 hours, the fast minelayer HMS Abdiel (Capt. E. Pleydell-Bouverie, MVO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) and HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) departed Alexandria for a supply run to Tobruk. Cover for this run was provided by the light cruisers HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN) and HMS Galatea (Capt. E.W.B. Sim, RN). All ships ruturned to Alexandria the next day around 1515 hours. (56)

27 Aug 1941
Around 0815 hours, the fast minelayer HMS Abdiel (Capt. E. Pleydell-Bouverie, MVO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, RN) departed Alexandria with troops and supplies for Tobruk. Cover was provided by the light cruisers HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN) and HMS Galatea (Capt. E.W.B. Sim, RN).

All ships returned to Alexandria on the 28th.

HMS Phoebe had been hit by an aircraft torpedo at 2145/27 in position 32°15'N, 24°53'W. The destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) departed Alexandria to escort the damaged ship.

All ships returned to Alexandria on the 28th. (56)

22 Sep 1941
At 0800/22, the fast minelayer HMS Abdiel (Capt. E. Peydell-Bouverie, MVO, RN) and the destroyers and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) and HMS Griffin (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN) departed Alexandria with supplies for Tobruk.

They were covered by the light cruisers HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO, RN), HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) and HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, CBE, RAN).

All ships returned to Alexandria at noon the following day. (60)

27 Sep 1941
At 0815/27, the fast minelayer HMS Abdiel (Capt. E. Peydell-Bouverie, MVO, RN) and the destroyers and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) and HMS Griffin (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN) departed Alexandria with supplies for Tobruk.

They returned to Alexandria at 1220/28. (60)

1 Oct 1941
The destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.P. Thew, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN), HMS Griffin (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN) and HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, RN) conducted exercises off Alexandria. (61)

2 Oct 1941
The destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) and HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) were sent out from Alexandria at 0615 hours for an A/S search after the A/S whaler HMS Klo had reported being attacked by an enemy submarine.

They sailed together with HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN) but these two apparently did not go to the assistance of HMS Klo.

At 0947 hours, the destroyers HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair-Ford, RN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.P. Thew, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN), HMS Griffin (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN) and HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, RN) also departed Alexandria for exercises followed by the battleships HMS Barham (Capt. G.C. Cooke, RN), HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN) and HMS Valiant (Capt. C.E. Morgan, DSO, RN)at 1015 hours. It had been intedend to sail earlier but the submarine-report from HMS Klo delayed the start of the exercises.

The ships remained out for exercises during the night and they returned to Alexandria as follows;

0820/3; HMS Kandahar, HMS Hero and HMS Decoy.

0855/3; HMS Barham, HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Valiant, HMS Kipling, HMS Kimberley, HMS Jupiter, HMS Hotspur and HMS Griffin.

0925/3; HMS Kingston and HMS Jaguar. These last two destroyers entered Alexandria with the submarine HMS Triumph (Cdr. W.J.W. Woods, RN) which returned from patrol. (62)

8 Oct 1941
HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN), HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.P. Thew, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair-Ford, RN) conducted exercises off Alexandria.

HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Neptune returned to Alexandria in the afternoon. The destroyers only returned early in the afternoon of the following day.

10 Oct 1941
Shortly after 0900 hours, the battleships HMS Barham (Capt. G.C. Cooke, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. C.E. Morgan, DSO, RN), light cruisers HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO, RN), HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, CBE, RAN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.P. Thew, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN), HMS Griffin (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN), HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Avon Vale (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN) and HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, RN) departed Alexandria for a sweep to the westwards.

The destroyers HMS Jupiter, HMS Kandahar, HMS Griffin, HMS Decoy and the escort destroyers HMS Avon Vale, HMS Eridge were detached for a sweep towards Bardia. The destroyers HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair-Ford, RN) and HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN) had sailed from Alexandria to join the fleet to take their place in the screen.

The fleet turned back to the east around 1800 hours. They returned to Alexandria in the morning of the 11th.

The destroyers that had been detached returned to Alexandria in the afternoon of the 11th. (56)

12 Oct 1941

Operation 'Cultivate'.

Replacement of Australian troops at Tobruk with 'fresh' troops.

At 0700/12 the fast minelayer HMS Abdiel (Capt. E. Peydell-Bouverie, MVO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair-Ford, RN) and HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN) departed Alexandria with troops and stores for Tobruk.

A cover force also sailed from Alexandria. It was made up of the battleships HHMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN), HMS Barham (Capt. G.C. Cooke, RN), light cruisers HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO, RN), HMS Galatea (Capt. E.W.B. Sim, RN), HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN), destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.P. Thew, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN), HMS Griffin (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN), HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Avon Vale (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN) and HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, RN).

The cruisers with three of the destroyers were detached during the night. They rejoined at daylight when the fleet set course to return to Alexandria.

Meanwhile Abdiel with her destroyers had landed the stores and troops at Tobruk and taken on board troops that were being relieved and set course to return to Alexandria.

Early in the afternoon a report was received of Italian cruisers and destroyers and the fleet was turned westwards again. Shortly afterwards the fleet was attacked by three enemy torpedo bombers but no damage was done. During the night the cruisers and three of the destroyers were again detached.

At daylight on the 14th the detached ships again rejoined and course was set to return to Alexandria. The fleet arrived at Alexandria around 1530/14.

Operation 'Cultivate' continued for a while sending 'fresh' troops to Tobruk. (56)

18 Oct 1941
At 0800/18, the fast minelayer HMS Abdiel (Capt. E. Peydell-Bouverie, MVO, RN) and the destroyers and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) and HMS Griffin (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN) departed Alexandria with supplies for Tobruk.

They returned to Alexandria at 1315/19 (HMS Abdiel) and 1540/19 (the three destroyers). (61)

21 Oct 1941
The destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.P. Thew, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN) departed Alexandria at 0830/21 to bombard an enemy gun battery near Tobruk which they did durning the night of 21/22 October.

An enemy submarine was reported by aircraft at 1052/22 in position 32°07'N, 29°44'E and HMS Jupiter and HMS Kandahar were ordered to proceed to that location (north of Alexandria) to hunt the submarine.

HMS Jupiter ran short on fuel and returned to Alexandria. HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, RN), which had just returned from a supply run to Tobruk, departed Alexandria to take over.

The sloop HMS Flamingo (Cdr. R.J.O. Otway-Ruthven, RN), which was en-route from Alexandria to Port Said, was diverted to assist in the hunt for the submarine but it was not found.

HMS Decoy and HMS Kandahar arrived at Alexandria in the afternoon of 23 October. HMS Flamingo continued her passage to Port Said. (61)

24 Oct 1941
At 0600/24, the fast minelayer HMS Abdiel (Capt. E. Peydell-Bouverie, MVO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Griffin (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN) departed Alexandria with supplies for Tobruk.

They returned to Alexandria at 1340/25(HMS Abdiel and HMS Kandahar) and 1510/25 (HMS Kingston and HMS Griffin). (61)

2 Nov 1941

Operation Glencoe.

Relief of troops at Farmagusta.

The British troops on Cyprus were to be relieved by fresh British Indian and British troops.

Group A, made up of the minelaying cruiser HMS Abdiel (Capt. E. Peydell-Bouverie, MVO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) and HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) departed Alexandria for Farmagusta at 1500 hours. HMS Abdiel had on board about 300 troops as well as 70 tons of stores. The destroyers carried around 250 troops.

Group B, made up of the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN) departed Alexandria for Farmagusta at 1700 hours. Like the destroyers of Group A these destroyers also carried about 250 troops each.

Group C, departed Alexandria for Farmagusta at 1900 hours, it was made up of the destroyers HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, RN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN), HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair-Ford, RN). Like all the other destroyers these also carried around 250 troops each.

At 2300/2, HMS Kipling, on of the destroyers in Group C, broke down in position 31°46'N, 30°22'E. Her troops were taken over by HMS Jackal which then took the stricken destroyer in tow towards Alexandria. HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, RN) departed Alexandria at 0230/3 and HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN) departed Alexandria at 1000/3. HMS Jupiter took over the place of HMS Kipling in Force C while HMS Decoy took over the tow from HMS Jackal at daylight on November 3rd. HMS Kipling and HMS Decoy arrived at Alexandria in the afternoon.

Group A arrived at Farmagusta at 0730/3, Group B at 1230/3 and Group C at 1630/3.

The ships then disembarked the troops and embarked a similar number of troops that were replaced. The ships then departed for Haifa.

Groups A and B arrived at Haifa durnig the night of 3/4 November 1941 while Group C arrived early in the afternoon of November 4th.

At Haifa they embarked more troops for Cyprus. Group A sailed at 0730/4, Group B at 1230/4 and finally Group C at 1630/4.

All groups arrived at Farmagusta during the night of 4/5 November. After disembarking the troops they sailed for Haifa at invervals of about 4 hours.

Group A arrived at Haifa at 0400/5, Group B at 0830/5 and Group C at 1200/5.

At Haifa they loaded Indian troops and departed for Farmagusta at 0700/5 (Group A), 1200/5 (Group B) and 1630/5 (Group C).

All groups arrived at Famagusta on the 5th and sailed again with further troops that were being relieved, arriving at Haifa at 0300/6 (Group A), 0800/6 (Group B) and 1200/6 (Group C).

After embarking more troops and fuelling the groups departed Haifa again for Farmagusta later on the 6th.

All groups arrived at Farmagusta during the night of 6/7 November 1941 where they disembaked the new troops and tok on board troops that were relieved after which they departed again for Haifa where they arrived on the 7th.

There all groups embarked their final contingents of troops and departed for Farmagusta for the final time. HMS Kingston from Group B was however to depart due to defects and her troops were spread on the other destroyers of her group.

After having disembarked the last of the fresh troops at Farmagusta and embarked the last of the troops that had been relieved Group A arrived at Haifa 0300/8, Group B at 0500/8 and Group C at 1200/8.

At 1400/8, all ships (from all the groups) departed Haifa for Alexandria where they arrived on the 9th after they had carried out an A/S sweep en-route. (56)

10 Nov 1941
HMS Barham (Capt. G.C. Cooke, RN), HMS Galatea (Capt. E.W.B. Sim, RN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.P. Thew, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN) conducted exercises off Alexandria. (56)

12 Nov 1941
Around 0830 hours the battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN) departed Alexandria for gunnery exercises. She was escorted by the destroyers HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, RN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN).

They returned to harbour around 0100/13. (63)

14 Nov 1941
At 0805 hours the destroyers HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) departed Alexandria for an A/S hunt.

They were joined at sea by the escort destroyer HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, RN) coming from Port Said.

They arrived at Alexandria on the 16th. (HMS Hasty at 1440 hours, the other three at 1830 hours). (63)

17 Nov 1941
Around 1115/17 the light cruisers HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN), HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN), and HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, CBE, RAN) and the destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) and HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN) departed Alexandria to bombard the Sollum area during the night of 17/18 November 1941. The bombardment however had to be cancelled due to the bad weather conditions. The ships then joined the Mediterranean Fleet which had departed Alexandria in the morning of the 18th at noon on the 18th.

They returned to Alexandria with the Fleet on the 19th. (63)

21 Nov 1941
The battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN, Admiral Sir A.B. Cunningham, GCB, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Barham (Capt. G.C. Cooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.D. Pridham-Whippell, KCB, CVO, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. C.E. Morgan, DSO, RN), light cruisers HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral P.L. Vian, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Galatea (Capt. E.W.B. Sim, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, RN), HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, RN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN) and HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, RN) departed Alexandria again to be at sea to support several operations in the Mediterranean.

At noon, the light cruisers HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN), HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN), HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN) joined the fleet at sea.

After dark HMS Naiad, HMS Euryalus, HMS Galatea were detached after dark to make false W/T reports further to the west. The fleet then turned back towards Alexandria.

The fleet arrived back at Alexandria at daybreak on the 22nd. The detached cruisers arrived back later the same day. (56)

23 Nov 1941

Operations against enemy convoy's / Sinking of HMS Barham.

23 November 1941.

'Force K', made up of the light cruisers HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, RN) and HMS Penelope (Capt. A.D. Nicholl, RN) and the destroyers HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN) and HMS Lively (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN), departed Malta around 2330/23 to intercept reported enemy convoy's.

24 November 1941.

'Force B', made up of the light cuisers HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral P.L. Vian, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN), HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN) departed Alexandria arond 0500/24 to also operate directly against the enemy convoy's.

A cover force, made up of the battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN, Admiral Sir A.B. Cunningham, GCB, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Barham (Capt. G.C. Cooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.D. Pridham-Whippell, KCB, CVO, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. C.E. Morgan, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Griffin (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, RN) departed Alexandria around 1700 hours. They were joined at sea by the escort destroyers HMS Avon Vale (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN), HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, RN) and HMS Farndale (Cdr. S.H. Carlill, RN). Around 2245 hours these escort destroyers were relieved by the destroyers HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, RN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, RN), HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) and HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) which came from Alexandria but had not completed fuelling at the time the fleet sailed.

In the meantime the Italian submarine Luigi Settembrini had sighted and reported 'Force K' shortly after 0500/24. Enemy convoy's were then ordered to proceed to the nearest ports.

One convoy, en-route from the Aegean to Benghazi, however did not receive this order and was attacked by 'Force K' in the afternoon. Both transports in the convoy, the Maritza (German, 2910 GRT, built 1936) and Procida (German, 1842 GRT, built 1927), were sunk but the two escorts, the Italian torpedo boats Cassiopea and Lupo managed to escape although Cassiopea was damaged by splinters.

25 November 1941.

'Force K' returned to Malta around 0745/25.

'Force B' meanwhile had set course to conduct a sweep alongt the coast of Cyrenaica during the night of 25/26 November but they sighted nothing.

At 1629/25, the fleet (cover force) was attacked north-north-east of Sidi Barrani, Egypt in position 32°34'N, 26°24'E by the German uboat U-331 and HMS Barham was hit on the port side by three torpedoes. She quickly rolled over and then a magazine exploded. She quickly sank. The destroyers HMS Jervis, HMS Jackal and HMAS Nizam were left behind to pick up survivors while the fleet continued on to the westward.

26 November 1941.

The fleet (cover force) returned to Alexandria around 1000/26. The three detached destroyers returned at 1400/26. A total of 449 survivors had been picked up from HMS Barham.

'Force B' returned to Alexandria around 1800/26. (56)

6 Dec 1941
HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) departed Alexandria at 0630/6 to patrol off Derna during the night of 6/7 December 1941 and then proceed to Malta where they arrived on the 8th with the light cruisers HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN), HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) and the destroyer HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN) which they had made rendez-vous with on the 7th. (64)

9 Dec 1941
The light cruisers HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN), HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, RN), HMS Penelope (Capt. A.D. Nicholl, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) departed Malta at 1830/9 to intercept a reported enemy convoy. No contact was made and the ships returned to Malta the following morning. (56)

15 Dec 1941

Operation MF 1 and the resulting first Battle of Sirte.

Operation MF 1, passage of the British supply ship HMS Breconshire to Malta.

At 2200 hours on 15 December 1941 the British supply ship HMS Breconshire (9776 GRT, built 1939) departed Alexandria being escorted by HMS Naiad (Capt. M.A.H. Kelsey, DSC, RN flying the flag of Rear-Admiral P.L. Vian, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Carlisle (Capt. D.M.L. Neame, DSO, RN), HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, RN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN), HMS Havock (Lt. G.R.G. Watkins, DSC, RN) and HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, RN). This last destroyer was also to proceed to Malta for repairs to her bow that had been damaged in a collision at Alexandria on 4 December. HMS Breconshire was carrying oil fuel for Malta.

At 1100/16 the Allied destroyers HMS Sikh (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, DSC, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr. R.E. Courage, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. J. Houtsmuller, RNN) departed Malta. They joined up with the convoy at daylight on the 17th. During the day the convoy was attacked by enemy high level and torpedo bombers

These were followed at 1800/16 by ‘Force K’; HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, CB, RN), HMS Penelope (Capt. A.D. Nicholl, RN), HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN) and HMS Lively (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN).

At dark on the 16th HMS Carlisle, HMS Havock and HMS Kingston were detached to make a W/T diversion to the eastward at midnight of the night of 16/17 and then to proceed to Alexandria. They were later joined by HMS Griffin (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO and Bar, RN).

Enemy heavy forces were reported at sea at 2230/16 by the submarines HMS Unbeaten (Lt. Cdr. E.A. Woodward, RN) and HMS Utmost (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Cayley, DSO, RN) in the Gulf of Taranto area. Neither submarine was able to attack. The Italians were at sea to cover an imported Axis convoy to North Africa.

From Taranto had departed the transports Monginevro (5324 GRT, built 1940), Napoli (6142 GRT, built 1941) and Vettor Pisani (6339 GRT, built 1939). They had a close escort of the destroyers Ugolino Vivaldi, Antonio Da Noli, Nicoloso da Recco, Lanzerotto Malocello, Emanuelle Pessagno, Nicolò Zeno. From Naples the German transport Ankara (4768 GRT, built 1937) departed on the same day. She had a close escort made up of the destroyer Saetta and the torpedo-boat Pegaso.

Cover was provided by two groups of warships. One group was made up of the battleship Caio Dulio, the light cruisers Emanuele Filiberto Duca D’Aosta, Muzio Attendolo, Raimondo Montecuccoli and the destroyers Aviere, Ascari and Camicia Nera. The other, and larger group, was made up of the battleships Littorio, Andrea Doria, Guilio Cesare, heavy cruisers Gorizia, Trento and the destroyers Granatiere, Bersagliere, Fuciliere, Alpino, Corazziere, Carabiniere, Antoniotto Usodimare, Maestrale, Alfredo Oriani and Vincenzo Gioberti.

The enemy heavy forces were reported by reconnaissance aircraft at 0825/17 and again at 1525/17 when they were with their convoy and only about 60 nautical miles from the Allied convoy. Very few Allied aircraft were available for reconnaissance and shadowing was therefore not carried out at all. At 1745/17 the Allied convoy unexpectedly ran into the larger of the Italian cover forces. The Italian battleships opened fire but drew off to the northward when the Allied convoy escorts closed to attack. Contact was lost in the dark. When both forces made contact HMS Breconshire was detached with HMS Havock and HMS Decoy as escorts. They later made rendez-vous with ‘Force K’.

To reinforce the convoy HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O’Coner, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) and HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, DSC, RN) were sailed from Malta.

The original convoy escorts meanwhile retired to the eastward and then proceeded to the north of Benghazi to try to intercept the enemy convoy but as it was bound for Tripoli they made no contact. They therefore retired eastwards and arrived at Alexandria during the night of 18/19 December. HMS Kipling had been damaged by a near miss on the 17th. One rating had been killed during this attack.

HMS Breconshire and her escorts arrived safely at Malta during the night of 17/18 December 1941. (56)

19 Dec 1941
At 1800/18 'Force K'; light cruisers HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN), HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, RN), HMS Penelope (Capt. A.D. Nicholl, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN), HMS Lively (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN) and HMS Havock (Lt. G.R.G. Watkins, DSC, RN), departed Malta to intercept an imported Italian convoy bound for Tripoli.

The convoy was made up of the transports Monginevro (5324 GRT, built 1940), Napoli (6142 GRT, built 1941) and Vettor Pisani (6339 GRT, built 1939). They were escorted by the destroyers Ugolino Vivaldi, Antonio Da Noli, Nicoloso da Recco, Lanzerotto Malocello, Emanuelle Pessagno and Nicolò Zeno.

While trying to intercept 'Force K' ran into an newly laid Italian minefield. HMS Penelope exploded a mine in her paravanes at 0108/19 and was lightly damaged. HMS Neptune hit a mine at 0111/19 followed by three more at 0112/19, 0125/19 and finally one more at 0400/19 following which she sank. Meanwhile HMS Aurora was also badly damaged by a mine which she hit at 0112/19.

While trying to tow the badly damaged HMS Neptune, HMS Kandahar hit a mine at 0304/19 and she too sank.

HMS Aurora, HMS Penelope, HMS Lance, HMS Lively and HMS Havock returned to Malta at 1230/19.

HMS Aurora was patched up at Malta before returning home for repairs at Liverpool from April to June 1942. HMS Penelope was repaired at Malta until January 1942.

19 Dec 1941
HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) was sailed from Malta to search for survivors from the mined light cruiser HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O’Coner, RN) and destroyer HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, DSC, RN).

She was able to pick up 165 survivors from HMS Kandahar and returned to Malta on the 20th. (65)

Media links


British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman


The Kellys

Langtree, Christopher


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

Sources

  1. ADM 187/2
  2. ADM 53/109435
  3. ADM 173/15688
  4. ADM 173/15746
  5. ADM 187/3
  6. ADM 53/109436
  7. ADM 53/109436 + ADM 53/109225
  8. ADM 199/2557
  9. ADM 199/2558
  10. ADM 53/109202
  11. ADM 199/367 + ADM 199/393
  12. ADM 173/16642
  13. ADM 53/113081
  14. ADM 199/362
  15. ADM 53/111800
  16. ADM 187/6
  17. ADM 187/6 + ADM 199/2558
  18. ADM 199/363 + ADM 199/376
  19. ADM 187/8 + ADM 199/2558
  20. ADM 199/136
  21. ADM 187/8 + ADM 199/383 + ADM 199/2558
  22. ADM 199/383
  23. ADM 199/378
  24. ADM 53/112626
  25. ADM 53/112626 + ADM 187/8 + ADM 199/2558
  26. ADM 199/1136 (+ ADM 199/381)
  27. ADM 53/112627 + ADM 187/8 + ADM 199/2558
  28. ADM 187/9 + ADM 199/2558
  29. ADM 53/112628 + ADM 199/2558
  30. ADM 53/111652 + ADM 199/2558
  31. ADM 53/111652
  32. ADM 187/10
  33. ADM 53/112629 + ADM 187/10+ ADM 199/2558
  34. ADM 187/10 + ADM 199/2558
  35. ADM 53/112630 + ADM 187/10 + ADM 199/2558
  36. ADM 199/1136
  37. ADM 53/112631
  38. ADM 53/111742 + ADM 199/2558
  39. ADM 199/408
  40. ADM 53/114564
  41. ADM 187/11 + ADM 199/408
  42. ADM 187/11 + ADM 199/408 + ADM 199/2558
  43. ADM 187/11 + ADM 199/2558
  44. ADM 187/12 + ADM 199/2558
  45. ADM 199/408 + ADM 199/2558
  46. ADM 53/114565
  47. ADM 187/12 + ADM 199/408 + ADM 199/2558
  48. ADM 53/114565 + ADM 199/2558
  49. ADM 53/114564 + ADM 187/12 + ADM 199/2558
  50. ADM 187/12
  51. ADM 53/114863 + ADM 53/115211
  52. ADM 53/115211
  53. ADM 199/414
  54. ADM 199/414 + ADM 199/656
  55. ADM 199/414 + 234/320
  56. ADM 199/415
  57. ADM 53/114865 + ADM 199/415
  58. ADM 53/114751
  59. ADM 53/115212 + ADM 199/415
  60. ADM 53/115213 + ADM 199/415
  61. ADM 53/115215 + ADM 199/415
  62. ADM 53/115214 + ADM 199/415
  63. ADM 53/115216 + ADM 199/415
  64. ADM 53/115217 + ADM 199/415
  65. ADM 199/413

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


Return to the Allied Warships section



As an Amazon Associate uboat.net earns a commission from qualifying purchases.