Sir Charles Edward Barrington Simeon, RN

Born  24 Dec 1889Wigan, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, England
Died  16 Nov 1955(65)Bushey Heath, Hertfordshire, England


Vice Admiral Charles Edward Barrington Simeon

Ranks

15 Sep 1906 Mid.
15 Dec 1909 S.Lt.
15 Mar 1911 Lt.
30 Jun 1924 Cdr.
30 Jun 1930 Capt.
15 Jan 1941 Rear-Admiral
7 Nov 1943 Vice-Admiral (retired)

Retired: 7 Nov 1943


Decorations

1 Jan 1941 Mentioned in Despatches (MID)
1 Jan 1943 CB
14 Jun 1945 KBE

Warship Commands listed for Charles Edward Barrington Simeon, RN


ShipRankTypeFromTo
HMS Renown (72)Capt.Battlecruiser15 May 193923 Jan 1941

Career information

Though retired in 1943 on rotation, he was immediately recalled and served throughout the war. Upon his final retirement he was appointed a Technical Director of Vickers.

Events related to this officer

Battlecruiser HMS Renown (72)


28 Aug 1939
At noon, HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN), is recommissioned. She had undergone a major reconstruction at the Portsmouth Dockyard which had lasted several years. (1)

2 Sep 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN) departed Portsmouth for Scapa Flow. She is escorted by the destroyers HMS Electra (Lt.Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN) and HMS Escort (Lt.Cdr. J. Bostock, RN) (2)

3 Sep 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
In the evening the destroyers HMS Electra (Lt.Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN) and HMS Escort (Lt.Cdr. J. Bostock, RN) are detached from HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN) to go to the aid of the torpedoed liner Athenia (British, 13581 GRT, built 1923). (1)

4 Sep 1939
Around noon, HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN), arrived at Scapa Flow unescorted. At Scapa Flow she is to undergo a work-up programme. (2)

5 Sep 1939
Around 0530 hours, HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN), departed Scapa Flow for exercises.

[It appears she was not escorted !] (2)

6 Sep 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
Around 0545 hours, HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN), returned to Scapa Flow from exercises. (2)

13 Sep 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN) conducted gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (2)

14 Sep 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN) conducted gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (2)

16 Sep 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN) conducted gunnery exercises off Scapa Flow. (2)

23 Sep 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN) conducted D/F calibration trials at Scapa Flow. (2)

26 Sep 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN) conducted gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (2)

28 Sep 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN) conducted gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (2)

30 Sep 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN) conducted gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (2)

2 Oct 1939
Around 1800 hours HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Freetown. She is being escorted by the destroyers HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, RN) and HMS Tartar (Capt. G.H. Warner, DSC, RN).

Around 1900 hours HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN) departed Loch Ewe to join HMS Renown at sea. She is being escorted by HMS Ashanti (Cdr. W.G. Davis, RN) and HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN).

They made rendezvous around 2210/2.

The destroyers were detached at 2030/3. (3)

9 Oct 1939
While HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN) and HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN) were near the Cape Verde Islands a patrolling Swordfish from HMS Ark Royal reported sighting a tanker which idenified itself as the American strong>Delmar. As no destroyers were present it was not possible to inspect the ship. It was later found out that the Delmar had been at New Orleans and the tanker had been the German Altmark, the supply vessel of the Admiral Graf Spee.

11 Oct 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
Around 0600 hours, HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN) and HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN), were joined by the destroyers HMS Hardy (Capt. B.A. Warburton-Lee, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN) and HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, RN), which came from Gibraltar. (4)

12 Oct 1939
HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN), HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Hardy (Capt. B.A. Warburton-Lee, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN) and HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, RN) arrived at Freetown. (3)

14 Oct 1939
The battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Neptune (Capt. J.A.V. Morse, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Hardy (Capt. B.A. Warburton-Lee, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. C.F. Tower, MVO, RN) and HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN) departed Freetown to patrol towards the St. Paul's Rocks. (5)

16 Oct 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
In the late afternoon / early evening HMS Hero (Cdr. C.F. Tower, MVO, RN) and HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN) were fuelled at sea by HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN). (4)

17 Oct 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
In the early evening HMS Hardy (Capt. B.A. Warburton-Lee, RN) was fuelled at sea by HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN). (4)

20 Oct 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
In the afternoon / early evening HMS Hardy (Capt. B.A. Warburton-Lee, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. C.F. Tower, MVO, RN) and HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN) all fuelled at sea from HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN). (4)

23 Oct 1939
HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN), HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Neptune (Capt. J.A.V. Morse, DSO, RN), HMS Hardy (Capt. B.A. Warburton-Lee, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. C.F. Tower, MVO, RN) and HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN) returned to Freetown from patrol. (5)

28 Oct 1939
The battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Neptune (Capt. J.A.V. Morse, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Hardy (Capt. B.A. Warburton-Lee, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. C.F. Tower, MVO, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN) and HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, RN) departed Freetown for a patrol towards Ascension.

HMS Neptune soon parted company to patrol independently towards position 03°20'S, 01°10'W and then towards 14°30'S, 16°50'W and then return to Freetown. (5)

31 Oct 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
At 1600 hours, HMS Hardy (Capt. B.A. Warburton-Lee, RN) and HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN) parted company with HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN), HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. C.F. Tower, MVO, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN) and HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, RN).

HMS Hardy and HMS Hasty were to search for the German merchant vessel Pionier ( GRT, built ) which was reported to have departed from Fernando Pó (now called Bioko) at 2230 hours on 28 October. They were also ordered to return to Freetown on 3 November after their search.

During the day, HMS Hero, HMS Hostile and HMS Hereward were fuelled by HMS Renown. (6)

2 Nov 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
Between 0830 and 1016 hours, HMS Hero (Cdr. C.F. Tower, MVO, RN) fuelled from HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN). (7)

3 Nov 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
Between 0830 and 1016 hours, HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, RN) fuelled from HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN). (7)

5 Nov 1939
An aircraft from HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN) sighted the German merchant vessel Uhenfels (7603 GRT, built 1931), that had departed Laurenco Marques (now called Maputo, Mozambique) on 16 October. HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN) was detached to intercept and capture the German ship while HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN), HMS Ark Royal, HMS Hero (Cdr. C.F. Tower, MVO, RN), and HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, RN) continued their patrol and passage to Freetown.

The Germans tried to scuttle their ship, about 300 miles west-southwest of Freetown, to avoid capture but the boarding crew from HMS Hereward managed to save the ship which was then taken to Freetown. (5)

6 Nov 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN), HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. C.F. Tower, MVO, RN), and HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, RN) returned from patrol.

HMS Neptune (Capt. J.A.V. Morse, DSO, RN) returned at the same time from independent patrol, apparently having joined the Renown force shortly before arrival. (8)

14 Nov 1939
The battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Hardy (Capt. B.A. Warburton-Lee, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. C.F. Tower, MVO, RN) and HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, RN) departed Freetown to patrol to the south. (5)

16 Nov 1939
HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Hardy (Capt. B.A. Warburton-Lee, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. C.F. Tower, MVO, RN) and HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, RN) returned to Freetown having been recalled from patrol. (5)

18 Nov 1939
The battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Neptune (Capt. J.A.V. Morse, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Hardy (Capt. B.A. Warburton-Lee, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. C.F. Tower, MVO, RN) and HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, RN) departed Freetown for Diego Saurez, Madagascar. (5)

20 Nov 1939
HMS Hardy (Capt. B.A. Warburton-Lee, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. C.F. Tower, MVO, RN) and HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, RN) parted company with HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN), HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN) and HMS Neptune (Capt. J.A.V. Morse, DSO, RN).

The destroyers were to conduct a search for German merchant vessels and then return to Freetown. (8)

21 Nov 1939
HMS Neptune (Capt. J.A.V. Morse, DSO, RN) parted company with HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN) and HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN) around noon to proceed ahead at high speed to the position where the German merchant vessel Adolph Woermann (8577 GRT, built 1922) had been reported by the British merchant vessel Waimarama (12843 GRT, built 1938).

After the German ship had been intercepted the following day, ' Force K ' set course to proceed to the Cape area via the east of St. Helena to conserve fuel. It had originally been intended to proceed to the West of St. Helena and to search the area for the German supply vessel Altmark. (5)

3 Dec 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
' Force K ', HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN) and HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN), arrived at Capetown around 0700 hours. (5)

4 Dec 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
' Force K ', HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN) and HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN), departed Capetown around 0800 hours (zone -2) to proceed to position 28°00'S, 15°00'W. (5)

13 Dec 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
' Force K ', HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN) and HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN), was ordered to proceed to Freetown to refuel but early on the 14th this was changed and they were ordered to refuel at Rio de Janeiro instead. (5)

17 Dec 1939
In the morning, ' Force K ', HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN) and HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN), arrived at Rio de Janeiro.

HMS Ark Royal completed fuelling at 1800 hours and immediately left for the Plate area followed around 0600/18 by HMS Renown.

HMS Neptune (Capt. J.A.V. Morse, DSO, RN) arrived in the afternoon, she departed Rio de Janeiro to join ' Force K ' after fuelling at 1230/18. Her fuelling had only commenced at 0500/18. (5)

18 Dec 1939
HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN) made rendezvous with HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN) in the afternoon. Also the destroyers HMS Hardy (Capt. B.A. Warburton-Lee, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. C.F. Tower, MVO, RN) and HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, RN) joined around the same time. They then proceeded to patrol to search for the German supply vessel Altmark before proceeding to Freetown. (9)

20 Dec 1939
During the day, HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN), refuelled the destroyers HMS Hardy (Capt. B.A. Warburton-Lee, RN), HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, RN) and HMS Hero (Cdr. C.F. Tower, MVO, RN).

Early in the evening HMS Hardy and HMS Hostile parted company with HMS Renown and HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN) to patrol towards Bahia and then up the coast towards Pernambuco and then to proceed to a rendezvous position 00°00'N, 20°00'W at noon on 24 December where they were to meet the RFA tanker Cherryleaf and her escort, HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN) which came from Freetown. (10)

22 Dec 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
In the late afternoon, HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN), refuelled HMS Hero (Cdr. C.F. Tower, MVO, RN). (10)

25 Dec 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Hardy (Capt. B.A. Warburton-Lee, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. C.F. Tower, MVO, RN), HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, RN) and the RFA tanker Cherryleaf joined HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN) and HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN). All ships then set course for Freetown. (11)

27 Dec 1939 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN), HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Hardy (Capt. B.A. Warburton-Lee, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. C.F. Tower, MVO, RN), HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, RN) and the RFA tanker Cherryleaf all arrived at Freetown in the morning. (5)

8 Jan 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN) and HMS Hero (Cdr. C.F. Tower, MVO, RN) departed Freetown for a rendezvous with ships coming from Dakar. (12)

11 Jan 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN) and HMS Hero (Cdr. C.F. Tower, MVO, RN) parted company with HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN), HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN) and HMS Neptune (Capt. J.A.V. Morse, DSO, RN). (12)

12 Jan 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN) and HMS Hero (Cdr. C.F. Tower, MVO, RN) rejoined HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN), HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN) and HMS Neptune (Capt. J.A.V. Morse, DSO, RN) near Ascension Island. The destroyers had fuelled there from the RFA tanker Cherryleaf (5896 GRT, built 1917). (12)

15 Jan 1940
HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN), HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Neptune (Capt. J.A.V. Morse, DSO, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN) and HMS Hero (Cdr. C.F. Tower, MVO, RN) made rendezvous with HMS Ajax (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN).

Also on this day HMS Neptune fuelled from from the RFA tanker Cherryleaf (5896 GRT, built 1917).

In the evening the destroyers carried out dummy torpedo attacks on HMS Neptune. Apparently HMS Neptune and the destroyers were not in company with the capital ships and HMS Ajax.

They apparently rejoined these ships the following morning. Presumably after the exercises had been completed. (13)

16 Jan 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
In the afternoon, HMS Neptune (Capt. J.A.V. Morse, DSO, RN), parted company with HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN), HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Ajax (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN) and HMS Hero (Cdr. C.F. Tower, MVO, RN).

HMS Neptune then proceeded on patrol independently. (14)

19 Jan 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN), HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Ajax (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN) and HMS Hero (Cdr. C.F. Tower, MVO, RN) arrived at Freetown. (12)

27 Jan 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
In the afternoon, HMS Dainty (Cdr. F.M. Walton, RN) and HMS Diamond (Lt.Cdr. P.A. Cartwright, RN), fuelled at sea from HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN). (15)

31 Jan 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
In the morning, HMS Dainty (Cdr. F.M. Walton, RN) and HMS Diamond (Lt.Cdr. P.A. Cartwright, RN), fuelled at sea from HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN). (15)

15 Feb 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
On her arrival at Plymouth, HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN), was immediately docked at the Devonport Dockyard. (15)

28 Feb 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN) is undocked. (16)

3 Mar 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
Early in the evening, HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN), departed Plymouth for Greenock. She is being escorted by HMS Acasta (Cdr. C.E. Glasfurd, RN), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, DSC, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. R.G.K. Knowling, RN). (17)

4 Mar 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
Early in the afternoon, HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN), HMS Acasta (Cdr. C.E. Glasfurd, RN), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, DSC, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. R.G.K. Knowling, RN) arrived at Greenock (17)

11 Mar 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
Vice Admiral W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, RN transfers his flag from HMS Hood (Capt. I.G. Glennie, RN) to HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN). (18)

23 Mar 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
In the afternoon and evening the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, RN) and HMS Fortune (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO, RN) were fuelled at sea by (17)

5 Apr 1940

Operation Wilfed.

Minelaying in Norwegian territorial waters and subsequent movements leading up to the First Battle of Narvik.

Three British forces were to lay mines in Norwegian territorial waters, these were;
' Force WB ': destroyers HMS Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicolson, RN) and HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, RN). They were to simulate a minelay of Bud. This force departed Scapa Flow with HMS Renown at 1830/5 (see below).

' Force WS ': Auxiliary minelayer HMS Teviotbank (Cdr.(Retd.) R.D. King-Harman, DSC and Bar, RN) and the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC, RN), HMS Imogen (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN) and HMS Isis (Cdr. J.C. Clouston, RN). This force was to lay mines in the Stadlandet area between Aalesund and Bergen.

' Force WV ': Minelaying destroyers: HMS Esk (Lt.Cdr. R.J.H. Couch, RN, with Capt. J.G. Bickford, DSC, RN, Capt. D.10 onboard), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, RN) and HMS Ivanhoe (Cdr. P.H. Hadow, RN) escorted by destroyers HMS Hardy (Capt. B.A. Warburton-Lee, RN), HMS Havock (Cdr. R.E. Courage, RN), HMS Hotspur (Cdr. H.F.H. Layman, RN) and HMS Hunter (Lt.Cdr. L. de Villiers, RN). This force was to lay mines in the entrance to the Vestfiord.

To cover ' Force WS ' it had been intended to sent out the battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN) and the destroyers HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.R. Marshall-A'Deane, RN), HMS Glowworm (Lt.Cdr. G.B. Roope, RN) and the destroyers from ' Force WB '. As the Admiralty received information that all four Norwegian coast defence ships were at Narvik this was changed at the last moment and the Renown force was then ordered to cover ' Force WV ' instead. Renown and her escorting destroyers departed Scapa Flow around 1830/5.

' Force WS ' departed Scapa Flow around 1930/5. During the night the destroyers in company with HMS Renown had lost contact with her in the heavy weather. By dawn they were regaining contact when HMS Glowworm reported a man overboard at 0620/6. She was given permission shortly afterwards to search for her missing crewmember and doubled back.

' Force WV ' departed Sullom Voe around 0515/6. They were to rendezvous at sea with HMS Renown, her escorting destroyers and ' Force WB '. Rendezvous was effected at 0735/6.

HMS Hyperion and HMS Hero, were detached to refuel at Lerwick prior to their simulated minelay off Bud. They arrived at Sullom Voe around 1545/6.

When the Admiralty found out on the 7th that only HMS Greyhound was with HMS Renown the light cruiser HMS Birmingham (Capt. A.C.G. Madden, RN) and the destroyers HMS Fearless (Cdr. K.L. Harkness, RN) and HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, RN) were ordered to make rendezvous with HMS Renown off the Vestfiord.

In the evening of the 7th, HMS Renown signalled her intention to be in position 67°15'N, 10°40'E at 0500/8 to HMS Birmingham and HMS Glowworm. Due to the bad weather conditions HMS Birmingham and her escort failed to make the rendezvous in time.

Between 0430 and 0530/8 the' Force WS ' laid their minefield in Vestfiord. HMS Hardy, HMS Havock, HMS Hotspur and HMS Hunter then proceeded to make rendezvous with HMS Renown while HMS Esk, HMS Icarus, HMS Impulsive and HMS Ivanhoe patrolled near the minefield.

At 0759/8 HMS Glowworm, who was then in position 65°04'N, 06°04'E, and steering towards the rendezvous with HMS Ronown, sighted the German destroyers Z 11 / Bernd von Arnim and Z 18 / Hans Ludemann. Immediately HMS Glowworm sent an enemy report and at then engaged Z 18 / Hans Ludemann.

At 0855/8, HMS Glowworm reported an unknown ship bearing 0°, steering 180° in position 65°06'N, 06°20'E. The German destroyers had called for assistance and drew HMS Glowworm towards the heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper which then egaged the British destroyer. Mortally wounded by the enemy's gunfire, HMS Glowworm managed to ram the German cruiser, tearing away 130 feet of the cruiser's armour belt and wrenching the emey's starboard torpedo tubes from their mountings.

At 0904/8, HMS Glowworm sent her last signal before sinking in position 64°13'N, 06°28'E. After the war Lt.Cdr. Roope, Glowworm's Commanding Officer was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

Immediately after the receipt of HMS Glowworm's enemy report, HMS Renown and HMS Greyhound, then in position 67°34'N, 10°00'E turned south steering for the reported position believing that the enemy force was heading for Vestfiord and expecting to meet them around 1330/8.

At 0915/8, the C-in-C Home Fleet, detached the battlecruiser HMS Repulse (Capt. E.J. Spooner, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Penelope (Capt. G.D. Yates, RN) and the destroyers HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. St.J.A. Micklethwait, DSO, RN), HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, RN) and HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. R.G.K. Knowling, RN) from his force to go to the aid of HMS Glowworm.

At 1045/8 the Admiralty ordered all destroyers of ' Force WV ' including those patrolling the minefield to join HMS Renown and HMS Greyhound.

At 1330/8 HMS Renown and HMS Greyhound, not having encountered the enemy, reversed course and steered to the north-east to make rendezvous with the destroyers of ' Force WV '.

At 1715/8 near the Skomvaer Lighthouse, about seventy miles west of Bodø, HMS Renown and HMS Greyhound made rendezvous with HMS Hardy, HMS Havock, HMS Hotspur, HMS Hunter, HMS Esk, HMS Icarus, HMS Impusive and HMS Ivanhoe. They then again turned to the south but sailing with gale force winds from the north-west the ships had great difficulty to keep formation and stay in company.

At 2100/8 the ' Renown ' force reversed course on to 280° to prevent the enemy from entering Narvik. This was on ordered from the Admiralty. They now had to proceed into a full north-west gale.

At 0100/ 9, the ' Renown ' force changed course to 180°.

At 0337/9, when in position 67°22'N, 09°36'E, and now steering 130°, HMS Renown, still with the destroyers in company, sighted two unknown ships, bearing 070°, distance 10 miles. They were sighted dispite a snow storm. The ships were thought to be a German battlecruiser and a heavy cruiser but were in fact the German battlecruisers Gneisenau and Scharnhorst.

At 0359/9, HMS Renown, having now positively identified the ships as German, turned on 305°, parallel to the German ships.

At 0405/9, HMS Renown fire with her main armament at a range a little over 18000 yards. Target was the Gneisenau. Renown's secondary armament, (4.5" DP) opened fire on the Scharnhorst. The destroyers also joined in with their 4.7" guns.

At 0416/8, HMS Renown received a 28cm shell hit on her foremast. Only HMS Hardy and HMS Hunter were able to keep up with HMS Renown in the gale conditions, but the other destroyers fell behind. Also at about this time HMS Renown sustained weather damage to her starboard anti torpedo bulge.

At 0417/8, HMS Renown hit Gneisenau's fire control system out of action so the German ship turned away on course 30°. The Scharnhorst then moven between her sister ship and HMS Renown to lay a smoke screen.

At 0419/9 HMS Renown scored a it on Gneisenau's 'A' turret. A further hit was also abtained. HMS Renown then shifted her main armament to the Scharnhorst but she was then hit herself in the stern. Damage was minor. The Germans then broke off the action and turned away to the north-east at best speed.

Renown tried to follew the German ships but could only do around 20 - 23 knots so as not to swamp 'A' turret in the bad weather. The German ships gradually managed to pull away.

At 0515/9, HMS Renown briefly reopened fire on the Scharnhorst as she came into range when the Germans also had to reduce speed temporarily.

At 0615/9, HMS Renown lost contact with the German ships. By now also no of her escorting destroyers was in touch with her. During the action 230 rounds of 15" and 1065 rounds of 4.5" had been fired.

At 0626/19, Vice-Admiral Whitworth ordered HMS Hardy to take all destroyers under her command and to patrol the entrance to Vestfiord.

At 0800/9, HMS Renown turned west. One hour later the Admiralty ordered HMS Renown and other units of the Home Fleet to concentrate off the Vestfiord.

Around 1400/9, HMS Renown made rendezvous with HMS Renown, HMS Penelope, HMS Bedouin, HMS Eskimo, HMS Punjabi, HMS Kimberley and HMS Hostile. HMS Penelope was then detached to patrol in the entrance to the Vestfiord while the remainder of the force moved to patrol 30 miles to the west of HMS Penelope. HMS Hostile however was apparently ordered to join the other 'H'-class destroyers under Capt. D 2 in HMS Hardy.

That leaves us with Forces ' WB ' and ' WS ', HMS Teviotbank with her destroyer escort of HMS Inglefield, HMS Ilex, HMS Imogen and HMS Isis was ordered, at 2251/7, to abort the minelay and proceed to Sullom Voe. The destroyers went ahead and arrived at 0830/9 followed by HMS Teviotbank at 1100/9. HMS Inglefield, HMS Ilex, HMS Imogen, HMS Isis, HMS Hyperion and HMS Hero departed Sullom Voe at 0300/10 to join Admiral Forbes force which they did around 1100/10.

12 Apr 1940
After having patrolled off the Lofoton on the 11th and part of the 12th, around 0730/12, HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, RN) and HMS Repulse (Capt. E.J. Spooner, DSO, RN) made rendezvous with the Home Fleet that comprised, at that moment, battleships HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN, flying the flag of Admiral J.M. Forbes, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN), HMS Warspite (Capt. V.A.C. Crutchley, VC, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. T.H. Troubridge, RN) and the destroyers HMS Ashanti (Cdr. W.G. Davis, RN), HMS Cossack (Cdr. R.St.V. Sherbrooke, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr. G.N. Brewer, RN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. J.S. Crawford, RN), HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN), HMS Javelin (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN) and HMS Juno (Cdr. W.E. Wilson, RN), HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN) and HMS Foxhound (Lt.Cdr. G.H. Peters, RN).

Around 1300/12, HMS Valiant, HMS Repulse, HMS Janus, HMS Javelin and HMS Juno parted company with the Fleet.

At 2300/12, Vice-Admiral Whitworth transferred his flag from HMS Renown to HMS Warspite.

HMS Rodney, HMS Renown and HMS Furious continued to operate off the Vestfiord / Lofoten until 15 April when HMS Rodney and HMS Renown set course for Scapa Flow. HMS Furious remained in the area.

[During their patrol they were escorted by several destroyers but it is unknown to us which destroyers were with them during which time as there are no logs of destroyers available for this period and the logs of the capital ships don't give the names of the escorting destroyers.]

15 Apr 1940
In the evening, HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, RN) and HMS Repulse (Capt. E.J. Spooner, DSO, RN), departed the Vestfiord / Lofoten area to return to Scapa Flow. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.R. Marshall-A'Deane, RN), HMS Esk (Lt.Cdr. R.J.H. Couch, RN, with Capt. J.G. Bickford, DSC, RN, Capt. D.10 onboard), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, RN) and HMS Ivanhoe (Cdr. P.H. Hadow, RN).

They arrived at Scapa Flow in the evening of the 17th except for HMS Renown which had been detached to go to the aid of the damaged cruiser HMS Suffolk (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN).

19 Apr 1940
Around 1700/19, HMS Valiant (Capt. H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN), HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Rosyth. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Campbell (Lt.Cdr. R.M. Aubrey, RN), HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. W. Evershed, RN), HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN), HMS Wolverine (Cdr. R.H. Craske, RN) and HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.R. Marshall-A'Deane, RN).

They arrived at Rosyth around 0745/20 except for HMS Greyhound which continued on southwards Sheerness. (19)

24 Apr 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN) is docked for repairs at Rosyth. (20)

18 May 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN) is undocked. (21)

22 May 1940
In the evening battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN) ran DG trials off Rosyth, escorted by destroyers HMS Highlander (Cdr. W.A. Dallmeyer, RN), HMS Ashanti (Cdr. W.G. Davis, RN) and HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Wisden, RN). Thick fog however prevented completion of trials and the ships re-entered harbour. It had been intended that HMS Renown and her escorts to proceed to Scapa Flow during the night. (22)

23 May 1940
HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN) completed her DG trials off Rosyth and then departed for Scapa Flow escorted by destroyers HMS Highlander (Cdr. W.A. Dallmeyer, RN), HMS Ashanti (Cdr. W.G. Davis, RN) and HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Wisden, RN). They arrived at Scapa Flow later the same day. (21)

19 Jun 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, RN) conducted gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (23)

28 Jun 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, RN) conducted D/G trials at Scapa Flow. (23)

3 Jul 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, RN) conducted gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (24)

26 Jul 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, RN) conducted HA gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (24)

10 Aug 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
At 1800 hours, at Scapa Flow, the flag of Vice-Admiral W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, RN was transferred from HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN) to HMS Hood (Capt. I.G. Glennie, RN) and the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, DSO, RN was transferred from HMS Hood to HMS Renown. (25)

13 Aug 1940
At 1630/13, HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, DSO, RN), departed Scapa Flow for Gibraltar. She was escorted until 1025/14 by the destroyers HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, DSO, RN), HMS Mashona (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN) and HMS Tartar (Capt. C. Caslon, RN). On their return to Scapa Flow the destroyers were to conduct an A/S sweep. They arrived back at Scapa Flow at 0630/15.

At 1059/15 Vice Admiral Somerville received a signal from the Admiralty timed 1031/15 ordering him to patrol off Iceland. It was thought German ships might be leaving Norway in that direction but this later proved to be incorrect and HMS Renown was ordered to continue her passage to Gibraltar at 0102/16.

At 2235/16, HMS Ark Royal (Capt. C.S. Holland, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Enterprise (Capt. J.C. Annesley, DSO, RN), HMS Hotspur (Cdr. H.F.H. Layman, DSO, RN), HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.R. Marshall A'Deane, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN), HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN) and HMS Wrestler (Lt.Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, RN) departed Gibraltar to make rendezvous with HMS Renown.

At 1615/18, rendezvous was effected.

At 0215/19, a shore broadcast was received stating that the merchant vessel Rowallan Castle (British, 7801 GRT, built 1939) was being shelled by a raider. The destroyer screen was ordered to return to Gibraltar whilst HMS Renown and HMS Ark Royal proceeded to go the aid of the Rowallan Castle. HMS Enterprise proceeded independently.

The raidar report later proved to be false as it had been the armed merchant cruiser HMS Circassia (Capt.(Retd.) H.G.L. Oliphant, DSO, RN) who had been shelling Rowallan Castle thinking it was an enemy ship. HMS Renown and HMS Ark Royal shaped course for Gibraltar at 1150/19, earlier had not been possible as aircraft operating from Ark Royal first had to be recalled and landed on.

The destroyers meanwhile had arrived at Gibraltar to fuel and they departed from there again at 0215/20 although it were not all the same destroyers that had been sent out earlier (see below), rejoining HMS Renown and HMS Ark Royal around 1100/20.

HMS Renown, HMS Ark Royal, HMS Hotspur, HMS Greyhound, HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN), HMS Gallant, HMS Encounter and HMS Velox (Cdr.(Retd.) J.C. Colvill, RN) arrived at Gibraltar at 2000/20. HMS Enterprise had already arrived in the morning. (25)

25 Aug 1940
At 0730/25, HMS Ark Royal (Capt. C.S. Holland, RN), HMS Enterprise (Capt. J.C. Annesley, DSO, RN), HMS Hotspur (Cdr. H.F.H. Layman, DSO, RN), HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN) and HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN) departed Gibraltar for exercises.

At 2030/25, HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.R. Marshall A'Deane, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN), HMS Velox (Cdr.(Retd.) J.C. Colvill, RN) and HMS Vidette (Lt. E.N. Walmsley, RN) departed Gibraltar to join the Ark Royal group at sea. Course was then set into the North Atlantic to make rendezvous with ships coming from the UK.

Rendezvous was effected around 0730/27 with HMS Valiant (Capt. H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN), HMS Illustrious (Capt. D.W. Boyd, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.L.St.G. Lyster, CVO, DSO, RN), HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN), HMS Calcutta (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN), HMS Coventry (Capt. D. Gilmour, RN), HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, DSC, RN), HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN), HMS Fortune (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN) and the transport Royal Scotsman (3244 GRT, built 1936).

HMS Enterprise, HMS Velox and HMS Vidette then parted company and escorted the Royal Scotsman to Gibraltar. (25)

17 Sep 1940
Around 0330/17, HMS Renown (Capt C.E.B. Simeon, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, DSO, RN), escorted by HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN), HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN), HMS Wrestler (Lt.Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, RN) and HMS Vidette (Lt. E.N. Walmsley, RN), departed Gibraltar for a patrol to the west-south-west of Casablanca.

At 0800/18, HMS Renown and her escorting destroyers were joined by the destroyers HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN) and HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, DSC, RN) which came from Gibraltar. These two destroyers had not been ready to sail with HMS Renown when she departed. HMS Wrestler and HMS Vidette then parted company and proceeded to Gibraltar where they arrived at 1900/18.

At 1945/19, HMS Renown was ordered by the Admiralty to return to Gibraltar which they did at 0700/20. (26)

24 Sep 1940
Early in the afternoon Gibraltar was bombed by the Vichy-French airforce, therefore it was decided to put to sea to avoid the risk of being damaged while in harbour so at 1550/24, HMS Renown (Capt C.E.B. Simeon, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, DSO, RN), screened by HMS Hotspur (Cdr. H.F.H. Layman, DSO, RN) and HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN) departed Gibraltar and proceeded eastwards. They were joined in Gibraltar Bay by two more destroyers, HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN) en HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN), which had been on patrol in the Straits.

After dark course was changed to the west and Renown and her escorts passed the Straits westbound before moonrise.

At 0500/25, a report was intercepted from HMS Wrestler (Lt.Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, RN), which was on patrol in the Straits, that she had been attacked by four Vichy-French destroyers (these were the Epée, Fleuret, Fougueux and Frondeur. HMS Wrestler had returned fire but she had not been hit. The French had departed Casablanca on 24 September. They arrived at Oran on 25 September.

At 0805/27, when in position 35°50'N, 09°26'W, HMS Renown and her escorts were joined by the destroyers HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, DSC, RN) and HMS Wishart (Cdr. E.T. Cooper, RN) after which HMS Griffin and HMS Encounter proceeded to Gibraltar to refuel.

At 0830/28, HMS Griffin and HMS Encounter rejoined the screen so then HMS Hotspur and HMS Gallant were sent to Gibraltar to refuel. Later that morning, HMS Renown was ordered to return to Gibraltar.

At 1045/28, a vessel was sighted at a range of about 10 miles, it was at first thought to be a small vessel but was later seen to be a surfaced submarine so HMS Wishart was detached to hunt it. Position was 36°00'N, 08°10'W. At 1051/28 the submarine dived. HMS Wishart commenced depth charge attacks at 1123/28. At 1230/28, HMS Wishart reported a good contact and four patterns were dropped. A large amount of oil was reported as having come to the surface. At 1355/28 a flying boat arrived to assist in the hunt. The submarine in question was the Italian Leonardo da Vinci which did not report any damage.

On entering the Bay of Gibraltar at 1732/28, HMS Griffin was detached to go to the aid of HMS Wishart which had reported that she had only four depth charges left.

HMS Renown with HMS Firedrake and HMS Encounter arrived at Gibraltar at 1745/28. (26)

29 Sep 1940
At 0700/29, HMS Renown (Capt C.E.B. Simeon, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, DSO, RN), escorted by HMS Hotspur (Cdr. H.F.H. Layman, DSO, RN) , HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN) and HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN) departed Gibraltar. In the Straits they were joined at 0730 by HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, DSC, RN) which had been on patrol. Course was set to the west.

The Admiralty was under the impression that the Vichy-French battleship Richelieu had departed Dakar en-route possibly to a Bay of Biscay port. And if that was correct the ship would fall in the hands of the Germans and this was to be avoided at all costs so HMS Renown was ordered to intercept.

On leaving harbour two Vichy-French destroyers were sighted proceeding westwards, these were the Epée and Frondeur. They increased speed to bout 28 knots on sighting HMS Renown. A signal was then sent to the Admiralty that HMS Renown had been seen proceeding westwards by the French ships.

At 1307/29, when in position 35°41'N, 07°14'W, a Vichy-French aircraft was sighted on Renown's port quarter. This aircraft shadowed HMS Renown until 1350/29 and then made off to the south-eastward. That Renown was shadowed was also reported to the Admiralty.

At 1333/29, a signal was received from the Admiral Commanding , North Atlantic Station, that owing to recent attacks on our aircraft by Vichy-French fighters, close observation of Casablanca was impracticable, and it wasintheded to maintain a patrol to the north-west of Casablanca in case Richelieu had gone there and was later to sail for a Bay of Biscay port. HMS Renown now set course towards Cape Finisterre.

At 2110/29 a signal was received from the Admiralty (sent 1910/29) which stated that air reconnaissance off Cape Finisterre was arranged for 29 September P.M. and that it was intended for HMS Renown to patrol to the westward of Gibraltar between 10°00'W and 15°00'W In view, however, of the report that two German merchant ships with troops on board had been reported in the south-east corner of the Bay of Biscay the Admiralty thought it possible that these vessels might be proceeding to capture the Azores, HMS Renown was ordered to proceed to the vicinity of these islands.

Vice-Admiral Somerville then requisted the RFA tanker Orangeleaf (5927 GRT, built 1917) to be sent out from Gibraltar to patrol on the parallel of 37°30'N between 27°00'W and 30°00'W. Later a signal was received that Orangeleaf was expected to arrive on the eastern edge of that patrol area at 1100/4.

At 0039/30, a signal was received from the Admiralty stating that if the Richelieu was encountered she was to be shadowed.

At 1240/30, when in position 36°23'N, 14°36'W, a merchant ship was sighted bearing 204°, range 14 miles. HMS Encounter was ordered to investigate and reported that it was a Greek ship and that she was allowed to proceed.

It was intended to oil the destroyers during 1 October but the first attempt (to oil HMS Hotspur) proved that this was not possible owing to the north-easterly swell.

At 1901/30, a signal had been received from the Admiralty giving possible landing places in the Azores, Vice Admiral Somerville decided to establish destroyer night patrols off the north and south approaches to Horta, Ponta Delgada and Angra. HMS Renown would remain in support of the destroyers to the south-west but unscreened.

At 1800/1 the destroyers were detached and were ordered to take up the following positions
Encounter - Northern approaches to Horta.
Hotspur - Southern approaches to Horta.
Gallant - Off Angra.
Firedrake - Off Ponta Delgada.

The destroyers were ordered to rejoin HMS Renown at 1300/2 in position 37°00'N, 28°10'W, for fuel, since they would have insufficient remaining by the time the Orangeleaf would arrive.

By noon on 2 October all destroyers were back with HMS Renown at the rendezvous and oiling commenced. There was still a south-easterly swell running, which made conditions difficult, but all destroyers were given 150 to 170 tons of fuel, together with fresh provisions, without incident. The last destroyer (order had been Encounter - Hotspur - Gallant - Firedrake) completed after dark at 2100 and all four destroyers were ordred to resume their patrols with HMS Renown proceeding to the westward.

The fuel given to the destroyers was sufficient to enable them to maintain their patrols until after daybreak on 4 October and then to proceed with HMS Renown to Gibraltar without refueling.

At 1912/2 Admiralty signal 1835/2 was received ordering HMS Ark Royal (Capt. C.S. Holland, RN) to carry out air reconnaissance between the Azores and Cape Finisterre wth the object of identifying shipping approaching the Azores.

At 0010/4, Vice Admiral Somerville was ordered to leave patrol that morning and return to Gibraltar.

All destroyers had previously been instructed to rendezvous with HMS Renown in the forenoon and by noon the last one, HMS Firedrake had rejoined. She had intercepted and investigated two Portugese ships therefore she was a little late in rejoining.

At 1345/4, a ship was sighted well down to the westward and HMS Hotspur was sent to investigate. As anticipated this ship proved to be the Orangeleaf and she was instructed to return to Gibraltar.

At 1807/4, HMS Hotspur was detached again to investigate a merchant vessel which proved to be American and it was allowed to proceed.

At 0230/5, a darkened ship was sighted ahead crossing Renown's track from south to north. This proved to be the merchant vessel Highland Monarch (British, 14139 GRT, built 1928).

At 0810/5, a Greek vessel with Swiss markings was sighted. This ship had been reported to be in the area and was allowed to proceed.

During the forenoon of the 5th all ships carried out gunnery exercises.

At 1215/5, smoke and ships were sighted to the north-west and once again HMS Hotspur was sent to investigate. She was soon recalled as it appeared to be convoy SLS 49.

In the afternoon of the 5th all ships carried out AA gunnery exercises.

In the evening of the 5th dummy torpedo attacks were carried out by the destroyers on HMS Renown.

In the forenoon of the 6th a search and plotting exercise was carried out. Northing furter occured on the 6th.

HMS Renown, HMS Hotspur, HMS Gallant, HMS Firedrake and HMS Encounter arrived at Gibraltar at 0830/7. (26)

11 Oct 1940
At 0204/11, Vice-Admiral Somerville received Admiralty message 0108/11 stating that the Vichy French light cruiser Primauget had departed Casablanca escorting a merchant ship loaded with munitions and bound for Dakar.

At 1737/11, Vice-Admiral Somerville received Admiralty message 1710/11 ordering HMS Barham (Capt G.C. Cooke, RN), HMS Escapade (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, RN), HMS Echo (Cdr. S.H.K. Spurgeon, DSO, RAN) and HMS Fortune (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO, RN) to steer course 090°. Seven minutes later Admiralty mesage 1718/11 was received ordering HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, DSO, RN) to come to four hour's notice.

At 1821/11, Admiralty message 1732/11 was received in which HMS Barham and her three escorting destroyers were ordered to intercept the Primauget and the merchant vessel she was escorting. At the same time Admiralty message 1727/11, ordering HMS Renown and HMAS Australia (Capt. R.R. Stewart, RN) to proceed to the westward, being clear of the harbour as soon after 0700/12 as possible, was received.

Destroyers on patrol were then rcalled and those making good minor defects were ordered to complete repairs with all despatch. HMS Australia was warned to be ready to proceed at midnight.

At 2145/11, Admiralty message 2112/11 was received which ordered HMS Australia to sail as soon as possible for Las Palmas at 25 knots. HMS Renown was ordered to sail to the westward at 0500/12. HMS Australia sailed accordingly at 2330/11.

At 0450/12, HMS Wishart (Cdr. E.T. Cooper, RN), HMS Vidette (Lt. E.N. Walmsley, RN), HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN) and HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN) departed Gibraltar to carry out an A/S sweep in Gibraltar Bay. HMS Renown slipped shortly afterwards. Course was shaped to the westward at 18 knots with the destroyers screening.

A Vichy-French Glenn Martin aircraft was sighted at 1440/12 shadowing HMS Renown from astern. Course was altered to 300° to mislead this machine. This Glen Martin finally made off to the eastward at 1635/12.

At 1600/12, Vice-Admiral Somerville received a signal stating that the Yugoslav merchant vessel Orao (5135 GRT, built 1919), on passage to Gibraltar under armed guard from HMS Hotspur (Cdr. H.F.H. Layman, DSO, RN), was being fired at by a submarine (this was the Italian Enrico Tazzoli) and that the crew had taken to the boats in position 35°43'N, 10°20'W. As there appeared to be a reasonable chance of attacking this submarine, Vice-Admiral Somerville decided to sent the whole of Renown's screen to hunt this submarine. HMS Gallant and HMS Griffin were therefore ordered to proceed to the vicinity at full speed, HMS Wishart and HMS Vidette following at 25 knots. Meanwhile HMS Renown increased to 24 knots and carried out a broad zig-zag, subsequently altering course at 1700/12 to 180°.

Before parting company the destroyers were ordered to rendezvous with HMS Renown at 0800/13 in position 33°22'N, 11°58'W, this position being selected in order to make contact with the transports Ettrick (British, 11279 GRT, built 1938) and Karanja (British, 9891 GRT, built 1931) that were proceeding to Gibraltar escorted by HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.R. Marshall A'Deane, DSO, DSC, RN).

Shortly afterwards HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, DSC, RN), previously escorting convoy HG 45, reported that she was proceeding to the position of the Orao at 32 knots. As four destroyers had already been directed to hunt the submarine, the Admiral Commanding North Atlantic Station, instructed HMS Firedake to join HMS Greyhound to provide additional escort for the two transports.

The four destroyers arrived in the position of the arrived in the position of te Orao about 1930/12 and found the ship in a sinking condition. The crew and armed boarding party of HMS Hotspur were picked up by HMS Gallant and HMS Griffin, who carried out an A/S sweep to the westward and the northward. HMS Wishart and HMS Vidette swept to the eastward and southward.

No contact had been obtained by midnight, at which time the destroyers left the area to rendezvous with HMS Renown as previously arranged. The submarine that attacked the Arao was a large one with two guns. Before leaving HMS Wishart sank the Arao, who was still afloat, with one torpedo.

HMS Renown sighted HMS Firedrake at 0724/13 proceeding to join HMS Greyhound. At 0745/13, HMS Gallant, HMS Griffin, HMS Wishart and HMS Vidette were all in sight and all were in their position in the screen by 0820/13. Course was then altered to close the estimated position of the convoy that was being escorted by HMS Greyhound.

At 1045/13, a merchant ship was sighted bearing 060° and HMS Gallant was detached to investigate. This ship turned out to be Portugese and was bound from the Cape Verde Islands to Lisbon. She was boarded and after investigation was allowed to proceed.

HMS Firedrake was again encountered at 1100/13 still searching for the convoy. Vice-Admiral Somerville ordered her stationed 10 miles on his port beam.

The convoy was sighted at 1300/13 and HMS Vidette was ordered to join HMS Greyhound and the convoy. HMS Firedrake was now ordered to take the place of HMS Vidette in Renown's screen as she had more fuel remaining than Vidette.

At 1430/13, Vice-Admiral Somerville received Admiralty's 1308/13 directing HMS Renown, HMS Barham and HMAS Australia and their accompanying destroyers to return to Gibraltar if the Primauget had not been sighted by 1800/13.

In view of the recent submarine reports in the vicinity of the Straits Vice-Admiral Somerville decided that HMS Wishart should join the convoy. HMS Renown now screened by HMS Firedrake, HMS Gallant and HMS Griffin proceeded towards Gibraltar at 24 knots with the object of entering the harbour as early as possible, so as to free the screening destroyers for local patrol and convoy escort duty.

On passing through the Straits HMS Renown overhauled the Vichy-French destroyer Fleuret escorting two merchant vessels proceeding eastwards.

HMS Renown and her escorting destroyers entered harbour at 1030/14. (26)

6 Nov 1940 (position 0.00, 0.00)
The battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt C.E.B. Simeon, RN) and the destroyers HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN) and HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN) departed Gibraltar at 0500/6 to provide cover for convoys HG 46 and SL 53.

At 1225/6, off Cape St Vincent, the submarine HMS Utmost (Lt. J.H. Eaden, DSC, RN) was identified as enemy by HMS Encounter which then rammed the submarine which was en-route to Gibraltar. HMS Encounter was escorted to Gibraltar by HMS Forester. They arrived at 0800/7.

On 11 November, HMAS Australia relieved Renown from covering convoy HG 46 and Renown arrived back at Gibraltar around 1515/12. Renown had been joined at 0807/12 by the destroyers HMS Duncan (Cdr. A.D.B. James, RN) and HMS Forester. (26)

15 Nov 1940

Operation White.

Transfer of aircraft to Malta.

At 0400/15, ' Force H ', made up of the battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, DSO, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Ark Royal (Capt. C.S. Holland, RN), HMS Argus (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), light cruisers HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN), HMS Despatch (Capt. Cyril Eustace Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, DSC, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN), HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Duncan (Cdr. A.D.B. James, RN), HMS Wishart (Cdr. E.T. Cooper, RN) departed Gibraltar in bright moonlight. Course was shaped at 16 knots to pass to the south of Alboran Island.

A/S patrols were flown off at dawn. The wind was westerly, force 4 throughout the day. For flying operations course had to be reversed. During the day some training exercises were carried out.

At 1130/15, an aircraft, most probably a Spanish air liner from Tetuan to Melilla, passed down the starboard side of the Fleet on a westerly course, in position 35°50'N, 03°56'W at a range of about 12 miles. At 1315/15, in position 35°35'N, 03°43'W a similar machine was seen passing the Fleet in the reverse direction. By this time however, the course of the Fleet was to the eastward. It is probable that these air lines report British units whenever sighted.

All aircraft were landed on by 1800/15. At 1900/15 course was altered to the north-eastward.

At 2101/15 a signal was received from the Air Officer Commanding, Mediterranean that arrangements had been made for meeting the Hurricanes. These were that a Sunderland from Malta would be in the rendezvous position of Galita Island to meet the first range of Hurricanes flying off at 0615/17, and a Glenn Martin from Malta to meet the second range flying off at 0710/17.

After dawn on the 16th, course was altered to the south-eastward and shortly afterwards, fighter and A/S patrols were flown off. The westerly wind had increased to force 6 and remained at that strenght throughout the day.

By noon the sea had increased and the conditions for operating aircrft had become severe. As visibility from the air was low and as the RDF screen remained clear, Vice-Admiral Somerville decided to cancel flying operations and maintain a fighter section at readiness in the carrier.

As there appeared to be every chance of avoiding detection and since bad weather conditions appeared likely to persist, Vice-Admiral Somerville decided at 1430/16 not to carry out the intended bombing attack on Alghero aerodrome.

Italian naval units were then reported to be at sea to the south of Naples and it was decided, in view of this, to launch the aircraft for Malta from as far west as the weather conditions would admit. HMS Argus reported that in te present weather the aircraft could be flown off from longtitude 06°40'E.

At 1500/16 the course of the fleet was therefore reversed for an hour to reduce the chances of detection before dark and in order to maintain a speed of not less then 16 knots during the night.

By 0200/17 the strong westerly wind had backed sightly and dropped considerably. Visibility had improved and was maximum at dawn.

At 0545/17 the force was split into two groups, HMS Argus, HMS Despatch and three of the destroyers were to fly off the Hurricanes for Malta. HMS Renown, HMS Ark Royal, HMS Sheffield and the remaining five destroyers were to fly off A/S patrols, a fighter section and a reconnaissance to the eastward.

At the time of flying off, the wind at 2000 feet in the flying off position was 220°, 20 knots, and the latest forecast received from Malta, which was timed 1130/16, reported the wind in the Malta chennel as south-west. As no further report was received it was presumed there was no change.

Te first flight took off at 0615/17 in position 37°29'N, 06°43'E and the second flight at 0715/17 in position 37°24'N, 06°52'E.

Arrangements had been made for a Sunderland to meet the first flight five miles to the northward of Galita Island, and for a Glen Martin to meet the second flight in the same position. From signals intercepted, it was apparent that the Sunderlandhad effected a rendezvous but that the Glen Martin had failed to do so.

On completion of flying off, the two groups joined company and ' Force H ' withdrew to the westward at 18.5 knots.

Reconnaissance aircraft returned at 0945/17 and reported nothing in sight within 100 miles to the east of ' Force H '. Two fighter sections were maintained in the air until 1400/17 but no enemy aircraft appeared.

From signals it was learnt that only one Skua and four Hurricanes had arrived at Malta. It is suspected that easterly winds had been encountered resullting in the loss of many aircraft and their pilots.

At 1530/17, the wind had increased to Force 6 so speed had to be reduced t 15 knots to avoid damage to the destroyers. A/S and fighter patrols were landed on and flying was cancelled for the day.

At 1550/17, HMS Sheffield was sent on ahead in order that she might fuel and obtain a night in harbour befor proceeding to the westward to rendezvous with the transport ships of operation Collar.

Speed had to be further reduced to 12 knots at 1635/17, and to 10 knots at 1655/17 to allow HMS Firedrake, which had dropped behind to effect some repairs, to regain station.

At 1800/17, Admiralty's message 1727/27 was received ordering ' Force H ' to return to Gibraltar at maximum speed. Vice-Admiral Somerville therefore reported position, course and speed (37°34'N, 03°31'E, 265°, 9 knots) and added that all ships were steaming into a full westerly gale.

Shortly afterwards Admiralty's message 1800/27 was received stating that the German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer was thought to be in the vicinity of the Azores and ordering HMS Renown and HMS Ark Royal and other units to proceed to Gibraltar at maximum speed, refuel and than proceed to the Azores. In reply Vice-Admiral Somerville stated that by proceeding without a destroyer screen HMS Renown and HMS Ark Royal could proceed at a somewhat hight speed, provided that the situation justified additional submarine risks.

At 2006/17, speed was increased to 12 knots and to 13 knots at 2035/17. At 2100/17, Admiralty's message timed 2025/17 was received ordering Vice-Admiral Somerville to retain the destroyers.

A small fire was observed in HMS Argus at 2140/17. At 2310/17, HMS Fury reported that damage was being sustained and speed was reduced to 12 knots.

At 0417/18, speed was increased to 13 knots and at 0454/18 to 14 knots. At 0600/18 the Admiralty was informed of the speed and position of ' Force H ' (37°24'N, 00°57'E). A further increase of speed to 18 knots was possible at 0837/18.

At 1110/18, speed was increased to 19 knots. HMS Argus, HMS Despatch, HMS Wishart, HMS Duncan and HMS Fury were then detached while HMS Renown, HMS Ark Royal, HMS Faulknor, HMS Firedrake, HMS Forester, HMS Fortune and HMS Foxhound proceeded ahead. They increased speed to 20 knots but at 1335/18 speed had to be reduced to 18 knots and at 1435/18 to 15 knots.

From this time onwards speed was varied between 15 and 20 knots in accordance with conditions prevailing. Arrangements were made with Admiral Commanding North Atlantic Station for HMS Renown and HMS Ark Royal to oil in Gibraltar Bay, destroyers and A/S trawlers meanwhile carrying out an A/S patrol in the vicinity.

At 0230/19, as the Renown group was about to enter Gibraltar Bay, Admiralty's message 0140/19 was received cancelling the deployment of ships proceeding to the Azores. Renown and Ark Royal therefore proceeded into harbour. HMS Renown entered harbour at 0350/19. HMS Argus and her group at 0850/19. (26)

29 Nov 1940

At 1430 hours HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Berwick (Capt. G.L. Warren, RN), HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN), HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, DSC, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN) and HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN) returned from Gibraltar from operation Collar. One hour later they were followed by Ramillies, HMS Ark Royal (Capt. C.S. Holland, RN), HMS Despatch (Capt. Cyril Eustace Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN), HMS Newcastle (Capt. E.A. Aylmer, DSC, RN), HMS Duncan (Capt. A.D.B. James, RN), HMS Wishart (Cdr. E.T. Cooper, RN), HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St.J. Morgan, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) and HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN). (26)

14 Dec 1940

At 0237/14 a signal was received from the Admiralty ordering ' Force H ' to sail as early as possible to the Azores.

At 1030/14, HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Ark Royal (Capt. C.S. Holland, RN), HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Isis (Cdr. C.S.B. Swinley, DSC, RN), HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St.J. Morgan, RN) and HMS Duncan (A/Capt. A.D.B. James, RN) departed Gibraltar and proceeded westwards. Ark Royal flew off A/S patrol and also landed on aircraft from North Front.

At 1730/14, a signal from the Admiralty was received stating that the sailing of ' Force H 'was a precautionary move and that more information would follow later.

At 0730/15, a signal was received from the Admiralty timed 0216/15 stating that the RFA tanker Orangeleaf was to sail from Gibraltar to join ' Force H '.

At 0945/15, a signal was received from the Admiralty 0200/15 instructing Vice-Admiral Somerville to patrol of the Azores as a German invasion of the Azores was feared.

The dawn reconnassance report was blank. By this time a north-westerly swell had increased to such anextent that Vice-Admiral Somerville considered it advisable to cancel the afternoon reconnaissance owing to the risk of damage to aircraft.

At 1235/15 course was altered to 285° in order that the dawn reconnaissance the following day should cover the approach routes from the Bay of Biscay to the Azores.

At 1745/15, when in position 37°18'N, 15°20'E the A/S patrol sighted and reported a raft 15 miles on the starboard of HMS Renown. HMS Fury was detached to investigate and located the raft, which was found to belong to the Swedish merchant vessel Gwalia. There were no survivors.

At 2230/15, a darkened sailing ship was sighted in position 37°36'N, 17°00'E. Course was altered away and HMS Fury was detached to investigate. It proved to be a Portugese schooner which was allowed to proceed.

By dawn on 16 December the north-westerly swell had sussided slightly, and nine aircraft were flown off in position 38°15'N, 19°50'E, to carry out a reconnaissance between 200° and 335° to a depth of 140 miles. Nothing was sighted.

At 0900/16, a ship was sighted 18 miles on the starboard beam in position 38°16'N, 20°30'W. Again HMS Fury was sent to investigate and reported her to be the merchant vessel David Livingstone (British, 4022 GRT, built 1930) bound from England to Bathurst.

Gunnery exercises were carried out in the afternoon.

At 1415/16, a second reconnaissance flight of nine aircraft was flown off in position 38°19'N, 21°57'W, co cover the area between 260° and 035° to a depth of 120 miles. Nothing as sighted.

At 0100/17, ' Force H ' was ordered to return to Gibraltar at best convenient speed so course was altered to 095° and speed was increased to 18 knots.

A dawn reconnaissance of nine aircraft was flown off at 0735/17 in position 38°13'N, 19°56'W, to cover the area between 000° and 160° to a depth of 130 miles. Only two British merchant vessels were sighted.

During the forenoon some exercises were carried out.

At 1400/17, the afternoon reconnaissance took off in position 38°18'N, 21°53'W, and covered the area between 035° and 170° to a depth of 150 miles. One one, Portugese, ship was sighted.

More exercises were carried out in the afternoon. Shortly after dark two destroyers were detached from the screen to carry out a night encounter exercise.

At dawn on the 18th, 12 aircraft were flown off to carry out an extensive search with the object of locating the German ship Baden which had been reported to have departed Tenerife on the night of 15/16 December.

More exercises were carried out during the day. The result of the reconnaissance was blank except that HMS Berwick was sighted proceeding to the Azores.

At 1400/18, HMS Renown, HMS Faulknor, HMS Forester and HMS Fury parted company with HMS Ark Royal, HMS Isis, HMS Encounter and HMS Duncan.

HMS Renown and her three escorting destroyers arrived at Gibraltar at 0830/19 followed by HMS Ark Royal and her three destroyers two hours later. (26)

25 Dec 1940

Operations by 'Force H' following the attack by the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper on convoy WS 5A.

Timespan 25 to 30 December 1941.

[For more info on convoy WS 5A on the first leg of her passage, it's composition, and the attack by the German cruiser Admiral Hipper see the event ' Convoy WS 5A and the attack by the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper ' for 18 December 1940 on for instance the page of HMS Berwick.]

25 December 1940.

At 1020/25 an enemy report of a pocket battleships (later corrected to an 8" cruiser), in position 43°59'N, 25°08'W, was received from HMS Berwick (Capt. G.L. Warren, RN). Vice-Admiral Somerville immediately ordered 'Force H' (less HMS Malaya) to come to one hour's notice for full speed. Twenty minutes later, instructions were received from the Admiralty for 'Force H' to raise steam with all despatch, and shortly afterwards for the force to proceed to sea.

Ships commenced to leave Gibraltar at 1315 hours and by 1430 hours; battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (Capt. C.S. Holland, RN), light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN) and the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Foxhound (Lt.Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN), HMS Duncan (A/Capt. A.D.B. James, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN) and HMS Wishart (Cdr. E.T. Cooper, RN), were clear of the harbour and on a Westerly course.

Course was set to position 37°00'N, 16°00'W as this was considered to be the best position to either cover the convoy or assist in the hunt for the enemy. Vice-Admiral Somerville reported to the Admiralty that 'Force H' was proceeding to this position at high speed with eight destroyers, who would remain in company or follow, depending on the weather.

At 1500/25 a signal was received from the Admiralty ordering the convoy and escort to proceed to Gibraltar. At this time Vice-Admiral Somerville was not aware - nor apparently were the Admiralty - that the convoy had scattered. As there now appeared little chance to bringing the raider to action. Vice-Admiral Somerville decided to join the convoy and reported accordingly to the Admiralty. Weather conditions enabled the destroyers to remain in company at 27 knots.

An hour later a further signal was received from the Admiralty directing the convoy to pass through positions 41°00'N, 19°00'W and 37°00'N, 16°00'W. These instructions were only passed to HM Ships, all of whom, it was subsequently learnt, were out of touch with the scattered convoy.

In view of the low endurance of HMS Wishart, she was detached at 1845/25 with instructions to follow at economical speed and join the convoy during daylight on December, 27th in position 37°00'N, 16°00'W.

The first indication that the convoy had scattered was received at 2000/25 when HMS Dunedin (Capt. R.S. Lovatt, RN) reported that she had met the City of Canterbury who was proceeding to the convoy Commodore's Noon/26 rendez-vous.

Shortly after this reported a report was received from the corvette HMS Clematis confirming that the Commodore had ordered to convoy to scatter, it also stated that the troopship Empire Trooper was damaged, believed slightly.

At 2200/25, general instructions to all units were received from the Admiralty, still acting on the assumption that escort and convoy were in company. 'Force H' was directed to rendez-vous with HMS Berwick and escort the convoy until 'Force K' (aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.W.La T. Bisset, RN) and heavy cruiser HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.J.L. Phillips, RN)) joined. 'Force K' was then to escort the main body of the convoy to Freetown, whilst 'Force H', with aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN) and light cruisers HMS Bonaventure (Capt. H.G. Egerton, RN) and HMS Dunedin escorted the 'Operation Excess' section to Gibraltar. The damaged heavy cruiser HMS Berwick was to proceed to the U.K. if fit for passage. It also directed that if needed the upcoming 'Operation Excess' could be postponed for 24 hours.

26 December 1940.

At 0200/26 a signal was received from the Admiralty stating that the convoy had scattered and that the ships were most likely proceeding to one of the following positions; the Commodore's noon/26 rendezvous; position 41°00'N, 19°00'W; or direct to Gibraltar. Vice-Admiral Somerville was ordered to take charge.

As he was unaware of the position of 'Force K' he ordered the Senior Officer 'Force K' to report his position, course, speed and intention. Later the aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN) was also ordered to report similarly. All units were informed of the position, course and speed of 'Force H'.

No further news had been received regarding the damaged troopship Empire Trooper. At 0801/26, Vice-Admiral Somerville, ordered the armed merchant cruiser HMS Derbyshire (Capt.(Retd.) E.A.B. Stanley, DSO, MVO, RN) to proceed to her assistance.

At 1100/26, the situation was still obscure. No reply had been received from 'Force K' and HMS Furious. HMS Bonaventure had just reported that she was proceeding to the assistance of the corvette HMS Cyclamen (Lt. H.N. Lawson, RNR). Ships of the convoy were apparently scattered over a wide area, each making for one of three different positions. Visibility to the westward was apparently very low. Vice-Admiral Somerville therefore requested the Admiralty to broadcast instructions on commercial wave to ships of the convoy to proceed to position 37°00'N, 16°00'W. He also informed the Admiralty that it was his intention to have HMS Derbyshire to take over from HMS Bonaventure to enable Bonaventure to proceed to Gibraltar for 'Operation Excess'.

'Force K' and HMS Furious reported between 1200 and 1300/26. 'Force K' was intending to collect the convoy at the Commodor's noon/26 rendez-vous and escort them to 37°00'N, 16°00'W. HMS Furious reported that she was in company with HMS Argus so as to reach position 37°00'N, 16°00'W at 1300/27. Also it was reported that she needed to refuel at Gibraltar before she could proceed to Freetown.

A reconnaissance of nine aircraft was flow off by HMS Ark Royal at 1300 hours in position 38°23'N, 15°45'W but nothing was sighted by these aircraft.

A report from HMS Bonaventure was received at 1630/26. She had intercepted the German merchant ship Baden (8204 GRT, built 1922) in position 44°00'N, 25°07'W. The German ship could not be boarded in the foul weather and the Germans had also set it on fire. HMS Bonaventure sank the German ship with a torpedo. She also stated that she had not yet sighted the Empire Trooper.

The situation at 1700/26 was as follows; the approximate position of all H.M. Ships in the area was known (except for the corvettes). HMS Cyclamen, with her W/T out of action, was believed to be standing by the Empire Trooper, and it appeared probable that the three remaining corvettes (HMS Jonquil (Lt.Cdr. R.E.H. Partington, RNR), HMS Clematis (Cdr. Y.M. Cleeves, DSO, DSC, RD, RNR) and HMS Geranium (T/Lt. A. Foxall, RNR)) had proceeded to Ponta Delgada to fuel. Only one merchant ship had been located. The City of Canterbury, in company with HMS Dunedin. Whilst the situation of the Empire Trooper caused some anxiety priority was given to assist in rounding up and covering the remainder of the convoy which might be making for position 37°00'N, 16°00'W.

At 1720/26, all units were instructed to act as follows; 'Force H' was to maintain position between the northern and southern appoaches to position 37°00'N, 16°00'W. 'Force K' was to continue to search for ships passing through position 39°08'N, 21°38'W. HMS Furious was to arrive in position 37°00'N, 16°00'W at 1400/27, searching to the north and east for ships proceeding direct to Gibraltar. HMS Berwick was to search to the north and west of position 37°00'N, 16°00'W, during the forenoon of December, 27th. She was to make rendez-vous with 'Force H' at 1400/27. HMS Dunedin was also to make rendez-vous with 'Force H' at 1400/27. All ships were directed to report at 2200/26 and 1200/27 the number of merchant ships in company.

The 2200 reports received indicated that only three merchant ships had been located, two by 'Force K' and one by HMS Dunedin. Both HMS Norfolk and HMS Dunedin reported to be getting low on fuel. At the same time HMS Berwick reported to the Admiralty that she had to proceed to Gibraltar to make good underwater damage, to free 'X' turret and to fuel.

27 December 1940.

At 0145/27 the Admiralty informed Vice-Admiral Somerville that further steps were required to locate the Empire Trooper who had 2500 troops on board. In view of the existing fuel situation and the necessity for providing air reconnaissance to locate the damaged ship and as there were no further indications of the precense of the enemy cruiser Vice-Admiral Somerville decided to proceed with HMS Renown and HMS Ark Royal to locate the Empire Trooper, whose last known position was some 600 nautical miles to the north-west. This nescessitated dropping the screening destroyers. Vice-Admiral Somerville therefore informed the Admiralty accordingly and directed 'Force K' to take charge of operations in connection to the convoy. At the same time Vice-Admiral Somerville instructed HMS Derbyshire to report her position, course and speed, and ordered HMS Clematis to report the position of the corvettes and to provide any further information regarding the condition of the Empire Trooper.

HMS Renown and HMS Ark Royal proceeded at 22 knots, later increasing to 24 knots, to the north-westward, with the intention of locating the Empire Trooper by air after daylight the following morning.

At 0800/27, Vice-Admiral Somerville ordered HMS Cyclamen, if still in touch with the Empire Trooper, to report her position, course and speed and also requested the Admiralty to order the Empire Trooper herself to report her position.

Two hours later, HMS Clematis reported that she had sighted the Empire Trooper through the mist half an hour after the latter had been hit in No.1 hold. The transport was then steaming 13 knots and damage was not believed to be serious. Owning to low visibility the other corvettes had not been located. Shortly after this HMS Derbyshire reported her position, course and speed at 1000/27 and added that visibility was half a mile.

In view of the low visibility prevailing, which would preelude air reconnaissance, and of the encourageing report from HMS Clematis of Empire Trooper's condition, it appeared to Vice-Admiral Somerville doubtful wheter the presence of HMS Renown and HMS Ark Royal would serve any useful purpose. Whilst so far to the northward they were unable to afford any protection to the remaining ships of the convoy, whose escorts in some cases were running short of fuel. Furtherm to remain in this position would inevitably result in delay in carrying out the upcoming 'Operation Excess'. Vice-Admiral Somerville there proposed to the Admiralty that HMS Derbyshire should remain in the vicinity of the Empire Trooper's last reported position and that HMS Renown and HMS Ark Royal should return to Gibraltar, covering the convoy.

Pending the Admiralty reply to this signal, HMS Renown and HMS Ark Royal proceeded to a suitable position to carry out a dawn reconnaissance with aircraft to locate the Empire Trooper should this be required whilst at the same time enabling Renown and Ark Royal to return to Gibraltar at high speed in time to carry out 'Operation Excess'.

Reports received from all units indicated that a total of four merchant ships had been located by 1200/27. The Senior Officer 'Force K', at this time ordered HMS Furious, HMS Argus, HMS Dunedin and the five transports which were to participate in 'Operation Excess', when collected, to proceed to Gibraltar with the nescessary destroyers. HMS Berwick, HMS Sheffield and the remaining destroyers to remain at the rendez-vous position until 'Force K' arrived there.

The Admiralty reply to Vice-Admiral Somerville's proposal was received at 1500/27 and directed the Vice-Admiral to remain in the area with HMS Renown and HMS Ark Royal until the situation regarding the Empire Trooper had been cleared up or as long as endurance of the screen allowed.

As Vice-Admiral Somerville had previously reported that HMS Renown and HMS Ark Royal had proceeded unscreened at 0200/27, he was uncerain how to interpret this signal. He assumed that it was intended that he should rejoin his destroyers in the vicinity of 37°00'N, 16°00'W and this was reported to the Admiralty accordingly.

At 1700/27 a report was intercepted from HMS Cyclamen that she was standing by the Empire Trooper who had been holed in No.1 and No.4 hatches and whose situation was serious. Her position at 0800/27 was given as 41°00'N, 22°09'W, course 138°, speed 4 knots. Shortly afterwards a report in Merchant Navy Code was intercepted from the Empire Trooper, in which she suggested that assistance should be sent to disembark the troops if necessary. The position given by the Empire Trooper differed considerably from that reported by HMS Cyclamen, whilst first class D/F bearing obtained at this time was also at variance with both positions. From all the evidence available it appeared that the Empire Trooper was in approximate position 40°40'N, 21°16'W at 1730/27.

in view of these less satisfactory reports, Vice-Admiral Somerville at once ordered HMS Bonaventure to proceed to the Empire Trooper estimated position. As it appeared possible that transfer of troops at sea might be necessary, the Vice-Admiral ordered HMS Sheffield to detach the two destroyers with the most fuel remaining to proceed at 16 knots towards the Empire Trooper. It was doubtful wheter these had enough endurance to return to Gibraltar, but in emergency they could proceed to the Azores if refuelling at sea was impracticable. In the meantime HMS Renown and HMS Ark Royal proceeded westwards to reach the most favourable position for flying off a dawn reconnaissance should weather conditions enable this to be done.

At 2030/27, Admiralty instructions were received for Empire Trooper to steer for Ponta Delgada as soon as weather permitted. Twenty-five minutes later a signal from the Admiralty was received the the light cruiser HMS Kenya (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, RN), who had previously had been ordered to join convoy SL 59, was ordered to join the Empire Trooper instead.

At 2300/27 Admiralty instructions to all concerned regarding the Empire Trooper were received. HMS Kenya, HMS Berwick, HMS Cyclamen, HMS Clematis, HMS Jonquil and HMS Geranium were ordered to join the Empire Trooper and escort her to Punta Delgada. If it was found that HMS Berwick could remain with the Empire Trooper, HMS Bonaventure was to be released for 'Operation Excess' as soon as HMS Berwick relieved her, otherwise HMS Bonaventure was to remain with the Empire Trooper.

HMS Berwick reported she expected to join the Empire Trooper by 1700/28. As Bonaventure's shortage of fuel would prelude her joining the Empire Trooper before the latter had been joined by HMS Berwick, Vice-Admiral Somerville ordered HMS Bonaventure to proceed to Gibraltar.

At midnight, Vice-Admiral Somerville received a signal from 'Force K' containing proposals for the future movements of the convoy and escort.

28 December 1940.

A report was received from HMS Cyclamen at 0330/28 giving the position of the Empire Trooper at 2000/27 as 40°12'N, 21°13'W, speed 6 knots. The damaged ship had thus made good some 250 nautical miles since being attacked. As it now appeared that sufficient ships would be available to stand by her and in view of the critical fuel situation in the two destroyer that had been ordered to join her (these were HMS Duncan and HMS Hero) they were ordered to proceed to Gibraltar.

The fore end of HMS Renown's starboard bulge, which had started to tear away some time previously, now became more serious, rendering it inadvisable for the ship to exceed 20 knots. As weather conditions still precluded flying, and as HMS Kenya, HMS Berwick, HMS Derbyshire and the four corvettes were all in the vicinity of or approaching the Empire Trooper, it dit not appear that any useful purpose would be served by HMS Renown and HMS Ark Royal remaining unscreened in submarine infested waters and risking further damage to Renown's bulge.

The Admiralty was then informed that HMS Renown and HMS Ark Royal were returning to Gibraltar. Also a signal was sent to prepare No.1 dock at Gibraltar for HMS Renown with all despatch.

As the docking of HMS Renown would involve some delay in 'Operation Excess', Vice-Admiral Somerville informed the Admiralty and the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean, that the earliest possible D.1 for would be January, 1st, and that even this date was dependent on it being possible for Renown to be made seaworthy within 24 hours of docking.

By 1500/28 the weather had improved sufficiently for an A/S patrol to be flown off. This was maintained till dusk.

During the afternoon further damage was caused to the bulge. By this time about 30 feet of the top strake had been town away and a large number of rivets were leaking. Shores and cofferdams were placed.

In order to provide a screen for HMS Renown and HMS Ark Royal, Vice-Admiral Somerville ordered HMS Duncan and HMS Hero, now on passage to Gibraltar, to rendez-vous with the capital ships at 1000/29, and also the Admiral Commanding, North Atlantic Station was asked to sail additional destroyers if pacticable. HMS Faulknor, HMS Firedrake, HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN) and HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) were sailed from Gibraltar to rendez-vous with the capital ships at 1100/29.

Air reconnaissance sighted nothing of interest during the day. At dusk couse was altered to pass north of convoy HG 49 which had left Gibraltar at 1800/28 and speed was reduced to 18 knots to increase the efficiency of the Asdic operating.

29 December 1940.

HMS Faulknor, HMS Firedrake, HMS Hasty and HMS Jaguar indeed joined 'Force H' at 1100/29.

30 December 1940.

HMS Renown, HMS Ark Royal, HMS Faulknor, HMS Firedrake, HMS Duncan, HMS Hasty, HMS Hero and HMS Jaguar arrived at Gibraltar at 0830 hours when HMS Renown immediately entered No.1 Dock. (26)

6 Jan 1941
HMS Renown (Capt R.R. McGrigor, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, DSO, RN) is undocked at Gibraltar. (27)

Sources

  1. ADM 53/110178
  2. ADM 53/110179
  3. ADM 53/107523 + ADM 53/110180
  4. ADM 53/110180
  5. ADM 199/380
  6. ADM 53/110180 + ADM 199/380
  7. ADM 53/110181
  8. ADM 53/110181 + ADM 199/380
  9. ADM 53/110182 + ADM 199/380
  10. ADM 53/110182
  11. ADM 53/109074
  12. ADM 53/113068 + ADM 199/380
  13. ADM 53/112868 + ADM 53/113068 + ADM 199/380
  14. ADM 53/111320
  15. ADM 53/113068
  16. ADM 53/113069
  17. ADM 53/113070
  18. ADM 53/112445 + ADM 53/113070
  19. ADM 53/113071 + ADM 199/376
  20. ADM 53/113071
  21. ADM 53/113072
  22. ADM 53/113072 + ADM 199/363
  23. ADM 53/113073
  24. ADM 53/113074
  25. ADM 199/391
  26. ADM 199/392
  27. ADM 53/114963

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


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