Allied Warships

HMS Ranchi (F 15)

Armed Merchant Cruiser

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeArmed Merchant Cruiser
Class[No specific class] 
PennantF 15 
Built byHawthorn Leslie & Co. (Hebburn-on-Tyne, U.K.) 
Ordered 
Laid down 
Launched24 Jan 1925 
Commissioned23 Oct 1939 
End service16 Mar 1943 
History

On 27 August 1939 the passenger ship Ranchi of the P. & O. Steam Navigation Co Ltd, London was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to an armed merchant cruiser. Conversion was completed on 23 October 1939.

Displacement: 16738 BRT
Armament: 8x 152mm, 2x 76mm
Speed: 17 knots

Career:
October 39 - February 42: East Indies Station
March 42 - January 43: Eastern Fleet (Indian Ocean)

On 16 March 1943 returned and used as troopship by the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT). On 18 July 1947 returned to owner.

 

Commands listed for HMS Ranchi (F 15)

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CommanderFromTo
1Capt. (retired) Heneage Cecil Legge, DSC, RN30 Aug 193912 Jun 1941
2Capt. (retired) Sir John Meynell Alleyne, DSO, DSC, RN12 Jun 1941

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Notable events involving Ranchi include:


10 Dec 1939

Convoy K 6.

This convoy departed Bombay on 10 December 1939.

It was made up of the transports; Cap Tourane (French, 8009 GRT, built 1923), D'Artagnan (French, 15105 GRT, built 1925), Lancashire (British, 9557 GRT, built 1917), Rajula (British, 8478 GRT, built 1926), Rohna (British, 8602 GRT, built 1926), Tairea (British, 7934 GRT, built 1924) and Talamba (British, 8018 GRT, built 1924).

These ships were carrying Indian and French troops and mules.

On departure from Bombay the convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN) and the armed merchant cruisers HMS Ranchi (Capt.(Retd.) H.C. Legge, DSC, RN) and HMS Maloja (Capt.(Retd.) C.R. Dane, RN).

Cover for he convoy was proviced by the heavy cruisers HMS Kent (Capt. D. Young-Jamieson, RN) and Suffren (Capt. R.J.M. Dillard) which had departed Colombo on 9 December. They turned back at midnight during the night of 11/12 December 1939.

On 15 December 1939, on entering the Gulf of Aden the escorts parted company with the convoy which then proceeded unescorted to Suez where it arrived on 20 December.

After passing the Suez Canal the convoy departed Port Said on 21 December escorted by the destroyers HMAS Vampire (Lt.Cdr. J.A. Walsh, RAN) and HMAS Voyager (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Morrow, RAN).

The destroyers were relieved on 24 December by their sister ships HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Cant, RAN) and HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN).

The convoy arrived at Marseilles on 26 December.

4 Jun 1940
HMS Dragon (Capt. R.G. Bowes-Lyon, MVO, RN) departed Mombasa to make rendezvous with the armed merchant cruiser HMS Ranchi (Capt.(Retd.) H.C. Legge, DSC, RN) and the (troop) transports Inchanga (British, 7069 GRT, built 1934) and Empress of Japan (British, 26032 GRT, built 1930) coming from Durban.

In the early evening of 6 June 1940, rendezvous was effected in approximate position 16°42'S, 40°46'E.

HMS Durban and the ships she was escorting arrived at Mombasa in the morning of 9 June 1940. (1)

1 May 1941

Convoy SW 6.

This convoy departed Suez on 1 May 1941 for Durban where it arrived on 16 May 1941.

The convoy was made up of the following (troop) transports; Bergensfjord (Norwegian, 11015 GRT, built ), Cameronia (British, 16297 GRT, built 1920), Leopoldville (Belgian, 11509 GRT, built 1929), Nova Scotia (British, 6796 GRT, built 1926), Scythia (British, 19761 GRT, built 1920) and Talamba (British, 8018 GRT, built 1924).

Three ships of the convoy carried about 3900 POW's to South Africa.

On departure from Suez the convoy was not escorted.

At 0925C/6, the light cruiser HMS Ceres (Capt. E.G. Abbott, AM, RN) joined coming from Aden.

Off Aden the Nova Scotia parted company and proceeded to that port.

Around 0830C/11, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Hector (Capt.(Retd.) F. Howard, DSC, RN) joined and HMS Ceres parted company with the convoy to proceed to Mombasa where she arrived later the same day. She took the transport Cameronia with her.

Around 0735B/13, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Ranchi (Capt.(Retd.) H.C. Legge, DSC, RN) took over the convoy from HMS Hector which then set course for Mombasa.

The convoy arrived at Durban on 16 May 1941. (2)

23 Jan 1942

Convoy BM 12.

Convoy from Bombay to Singapore.
Departure date: 23 January 1942.
Arrival date: 4 February 1942.

This convoy was made up of the following ships;
British troop ships; Devonshire (11275 GRT, built 1939), Empress of Asia (16909 GRT, built 1913).

French troop ship (under British control) Felix Roussel (17083 GRT, built 1930)

and the Dutch transport Plancius (5955 GRT, built 1923).

The convoy initially proceeded unescorted.

On 26 January, the British sloop HMS Falmouth (Cdr. U.H.R. James, RN) joined the convoy in position 07°53'N, 76°23'E.

On 27 January, the British light cruiser HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN) joined the convoy in position 04°30'N, 78°15'E. HMS Falmouth parted company with the convoy at dusk.

On 28 January, the convoy made rendez-vous with convoy DM 2 which was made up of the following ships;
British troopships Dunera (11162 GRT, built 1937), Empress of Australia (21833 GRT, built 1914) and Warwick Castle (20107 GRT, built 1930) and the British transports City of Canterbury (8331 GRT, built 1922), City of Pretoria (8049 GRT, built 1937), Malancha (8124 GRT, built 1937) and Troilus (7422 GRT, built 1921). This convoy was escorted by the British armed merchant cruiser HMS Ranchi (Capt.(Retd.) Sir J.M. Alleyne, DSO, DSC, RN) which then parted company.

On 31 January, the British light cruiser HMS Danae (Capt. F.J. Butler, MBE, RN) and the Dutch light cruiser HrMs Java (Capt. P.B.M van Straelen, RNN) joined the convoy in position 05°05'S, 94°00'E after which HMS Emerald parted company with the convoy.

On 1 February, the Indian sloop HMIS Sutlej (Capt. P.A. Mare, RIN) and the Australian sloop HMAS Yarra (Cdr. W.H. Harrington, RAN) joined the convoy.

On 2 February, the British heavy cruiser HMS Exeter (Capt. O.L. Gordon, MVO, RN) joined around 0800 hours and a little over two hours later the British destroyer HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN) and the Australian destroyer HMAS Vampire (Cdr. W.T.A. Moran, RAN) also joined the convoy.

On the morning of 3 February the British destroyer HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN) joined. Later the same day HMAS Vampire split off from the convoy with the part of the convoy that was to proceed to Batavia. These were all the ships that had been in convoy DM 2 except the City of Canterbury which went to Singapore. The Batavia section arrived there shortly after noon on 3 February.

Around 0200 hours on 4 February 1942, HrMs Java parted company with the convoy. Shortly before noon the convoy was attacked by Japanese aircraft and the Empress of Asia was straddled. Around 2130/4, HMS Exeter, HMS Jupiter and HMS Encounter parted company to intercept Japanese warships that were reported to the north of Banka Strait. HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, CBE, RAN) was ordered to join them there. They did not find any Japanese ships and proceeded to Batavia where they arrived on 6 February.

The convoy arrived at Singapore shortly after noon on 5 February 1942 but not before a heavy enemy air attack was carried out. The Empress of Asia was set on fire, the Felix Roussel was also hit and the City of Canterbury had her steering gear damaged. (3)

27 Apr 1942

Convoy WS 17.

Convoy from South Africa to several destinations in the Far East.

On 27 April 1942 the Capetown section departed. It was made up the following transports / troop transports; Almanzora (British, 15551 GRT, built 1914), Cameronia (British, 16297 GRT, built 1920), City of Edinburgh (British, 8036 GRT, built 1938), City of Lincoln (British, 8039 GRT, built 1938), Dunedin Star (British, 11168 GRT, built 1936), Glaucus (British, 7596 GRT, built 1921), Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (Dutch, 19429 GRT, built 1930), Kina II (British, 9823 GRT, built 1939), Nieuw Holland (Dutch, 11066 GRT, built 1927) and Samaria (British, 19597 GRT, built 1921).

On departure the convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Dauntless (A/Capt. J.G. Hewitt, DSO, RN) which first had conducted gunnery exercises in False Bay before joining the convoy.

Off Port Elizabeth the convoy was joined by the transports; Brazil (American, 18298 GRT, built 1928), Monterey (American, 18017 GRT, built 1932) and Mormactide (American, 7773 GRT, built 1941).

Off Durban the convoy was joined by the transports / troop transports; Elizabethville (Belgian, 8351 GRT, built 1922), Khedive Ismael (British, 7290 GRT, built 1922), Mendoza (British (former French), 8199 GRT, built 1920), Nova Scotia (British, 6796 GRT, built 1926) and Windsor Castle (British, 19141 GRT, built 1922).

The submarine depot ship HMS Adamant (Capt. R.S. Warne, RN) also joined the convoy off Durban.

The battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) also joined off Durban to escort the convoy.

On 8 May 1942 the battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) and the armed merchant cruiser HMS Corfu (Capt.(Retd.) J.P. Landon, RN) departed Mombasa to take over the escort of the convoy. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. W. Harmsen, RNN).

They joined the convoy at 1600/8 after which HMS Revenge proceeded to Mombasa escorted by the two destroyers. They arrived at Mombasa around 1300/9.

At 1900/8, HMS Dauntless was detached for Mombasa taking Almanzora, Cameronia, Khedive Ismael, Mendoza, Nova Scotia and Samaria with her. They also arrived at Mombasa around 1300/9.

HMS Adamant had already arrived at Mombasa on 8 May. She had parted company in the early afternoon of 7 May and proceeded ahead of the convoy.

HMS Royal Sovereign and HMS Corfu then proceeded further north with the remainder of the convoy.

On 10 May the following vessels departed Mombasa for Bombay; Almanzora, Cameronia, Chantilly (British (former French), 9986 GRT, built 1923), Khedive Ismael, Mendoza, Nova Scotia and Samaria. They were escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Ranchi (Capt.(Retd.) Sir J.M. Alleyne, DSO, DSC, RN).

Aound 0900/11, HMS Corfu parted company with the convoy taking with her the City of Edinburgh, City of Lincoln, Elizabethville and Glaucus. These ships were to proceed to Aden.

HMS Royal Sovereign meanwhile continued on to Bombay with the Dunedin Star, Johan van Oldebarnvelt, Kina II, Nieuw Holland and Windsor Castle.

HMS Royal Sovereign with her part of the convoy arrived at Bombay on 16 May 1942.

HMS Ranchi with her part of the convoy arrived at Bombay on 19 May 1942. (4)

29 Aug 1942

Convoy WS 22.

This convoy was assembled off Oversay on 29 August 1942.

It was made up of the following (troop) transports; Almanzora (British, 15551 GRT, built 1914), Andes (British, 25689 GRT, built 1939), Boissevain (Dutch, 14134 GRT, built 1937), California (British, 16792 GRT, built 1923), Canara (British, 7024 GRT, built 1942), Dominion Monarch (British, 27155 GRT, built 1939), Franconia (British, 20175 GRT, built 1923), Highland Brigade (British, 14134 GRT, built 1929), Highland Chieftain (British, 14135 GRT, built 1929), Highland Princess (British, 14133 GRT, built 1930), Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (Dutch, 19429 GRT, built 1930), Leinster (British, 4303 GRT, built 1937), Mataroa (British, 12390 GRT, built 1922), Nea Hellas (British, 16991 GRT, built 1922), Nieuw Holland (British, 11066 GRT, built 1927), Orcades (British, 23456 GRT, built 1937), Orduna (British, 15507 GRT, built 1914), Rangitata (British, 16737 GRT, built 1929), Ruys (British, 14155 GRT, built 1937) and Suffolk (British, 11145 GRT, built 1939).

On assembly off Oversay the convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, CB, RN), armed merchant cruiser HMS Carthage (A/Capt.(Retd.) W.V.H. Harris, DSC, MVO, RN), destroyers HMS Bulldog (Cdr. M. Richmond, OBE, DSO, RN), HMS Keppel (Cdr. J.E. Broome, RN), HMS Beverley (Lt. R.A. Price, RN), HMS Chesterfield (Lt. J. Smallwood, RN), HMS Partridge (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, OBE, RN), HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. H.W.S. Browning, OBE, RN), ORP Blyskawica (Lt.Cdr. L. Lichodziejewski, ORP) and the escort destroyers HMS Bicester (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) and HMS Zetland (Lt. J.V. Wilkinson, RN).

Around 1800Z/31, ORP Blyskawica was detached to Londonderry due to abnormal high fuel consumption.

Around 0600Z/1, HMS Bulldog, HMS Keppel and HMS Zetland were detached to return to the U.K.

Around 1315Z/1, HMS Bicester was detached to Plymouth.

Around 1520Z/1, HMS Partridge and HMAS Quiberon were detached to fuel at the Azores.

Around 1540Z/2, the Leinster parted company with the convoy to proceed to Gibraltar. The destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN) and HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN) had come from Gibraltar to escort her.

Around 0930Z/3, HMS Partridge and HMAS Quiberon rejoined from fuelling. HMS Beverley and HMS Chesterfield were then detached to fuel at the Azores.

Around 1400Z/6, the destroyer HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair) joined.

Around 1300Z/7, the escort destroyer RHS Pindos joined.

The convoy arrived at Freetown shortly after noon on 9 September 1942.

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The convoy departed Freetown in the same composition around 0700Z/13. One additional vessel had joined the convoy, this was the transport Sibajak (Dutch, 12226 GRT, built 1927). The convoy was now escorted by the light cruiser HMS Aurora, armed merchant cruiser HMS Alcantara (A/Capt.(Retd.) J.D. Harvey, RN), destroyers HMAS Quiberon, HMS Partridge, HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN), HMS Antelope and the escort destroyers HMS Derwent (Cdr. R.H. Wright, DSC, RN) and RHS Pindos.

Around 1800Z/15, the Highland Princess was detached to Takoradi escorted by HMS Boreas. HMS Antelope was also detached to return to Freetown.

Around 1800A/16, HMS Alcantara, HMS Derwent and RHS Pindos were detached to Pointe Noire to fuel. They rejoined the convoy around 1800A/18 after which HMS Aurora, HMAS Quiberon and HMS Partidge parted company with the convoy to fuel at Pointe Noire. They did not rejoin the convoy.

Around 1015BC/24, the heavy cruiser HMS Shropshire (Capt. J.T. Borrett, OBE, RN) joined the convoy coming from Simonstown.

Around 1200BC/24, the convoy split into the Capetown section and the Durban section.

The Capetown section was made up of the Almanzora, Andes, California, Canara, Dominion Monarch, Franconia, Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, Nea Hellas, Nieuw Holland, Orduna and Ruys. The arrived at Capetown on 25 September escorted by HMS Alcantara, HMS Derwent and RHS Pindos.

The Durban section was made up of the Boissevain, Highland Brigade, Highland Chieftain, Mataroa, Orcades, Rangitata, Sibajak and Suffolk. They were escorted by HMS Shropshire.

The Durban section arrived at Durban on 29 September 1942.

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On 29 September 1942, the Capetown section, now made up of the following ships; Almanzora, Dominion Monarch, Franconia, Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, Nieuw Holland and Orduna. They were escorted by the armed merchant cruisers HMS Alcantara and HMS Ranchi (Capt.(Retd.) Sir J.M. Alleyne, DSO, DSC, RN).

On 3 October 1942, HMS Alcantara parted company with the convoy and entered Durban. The Durban section of the convoy then joined. It was now made up of the following ships; Boissevain, California, Canera, Ekma (British, 5108 GRT, built 1911), Felix Roussel (British, 17083 GRT, built 1930), Indrapoera (Dutch, 10825 GRT, built 1925), Rangitata and Ruys. They were escorted by the heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire (Capt. R.D. Oliver, CBE, DSC, RN).

Around 0600D/8, HMS Ranchi parted company with the convoy to fuel at Diego Suarez. She arrived there around 1730D/9. Having completed fuelling she departed again around 2330D/9 to rejoined the convoy which she did around 0600D/11.

Around 1130E/10, the 'heavy' cruiser HMS Hawkins (Capt. G.A. French, RN) joined the convoy. HMS Devonshire then parted company with the convoy to proceed to Kilindini / Mombasa taking the Almanzora and Rangitata with her. They arrived at Kilindini / Mombasa on the 12th.

Around 0710D/11, HMS Hawkins parted company taking the Bombay section of the convoy with her. The Bombay section was made up of the Boissevain, California, Canara, Dominion Monarch, Franconia, Indrapoera, Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, Nieuw Holland and Ruys. They arrived at Bombay on 17 October 1942 minus the Canera which had been detached around 1920EF/15 to Karachi where she arrived on 18 October 1942.

HMS Ranchi escorting the Aden section, made up of the Ekma, Felix Roussel and Orduna , had meanwhile arrived at Aden on 16 October 1942. (5)

25 Jan 1943

Convoy CF 11.

This convoy, with troops and POW's, departed Durban, South Africa on 25 January 1943 and arrived in the Clyde, via Freetown, on 25 February 1943.

On departure from Durban the convoy was made up of the following (troop)transports; Britannic (British, 26943 GRT, built 1930), Indrapoera (Dutch, 10825 GRT, built 1925) and Orion (British, 23371 GRT, built 1935).

On departure from Durban it was escorted by the battleship HMS Valiant (Capt. L.H. Ashmore, RN) and the destroyers HMS Inconstant (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN), HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. R.D.H.S. Pankhurst, RN) and HMS Hotspur (Lt. P. Bekenn, RN).

The convoy arrived at Capetown on 27 December 1941. HMS Hotspur went to Simonstown for a quick docking.

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On 30 January the convoy left Capetown in the same composition with the addition of an additional destroyer, HMS Express (Lt.Cdr. F.J. Cartwright, RN).

At 0500B/5, HMS Express and HMS Hotspur were detached to fuel at Pointe Noire. They rejoined at 1600B/5 after which HMS Fortune and HMS Inconstant were detached to fuel at Pointe Noire. They rejoined the convoy around 0930B/6.

The convoy arrived at Freetown around noon on 11 February 1943.

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Two (troop)transports joined the convoy at Freetown. These were the Esperance Bay (British, 13837 GRT, built 1922) and the Troilus (British 7422 GRT, built 1921). Also the armed merchant cruiser HMS Ranchi (Capt.(Retd.) Sir J.M. Alleyne, DSO, DSC, RN) joined the convoy for passage to the Clyde. The convoy departed from Freetown in the afternoon of February 14th.

Around 1800Z/16, the destroyers HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Farrington, RN) and HMS Redoubt (Lt.Cdr. N.E.G. Ropner, DSO, RN) joined the escort coming from Bathurst.

At 0745Z/17, the Esperance Bay parted company with the convoy to proceed to New York.

At 1815Z/17, the Troilus parted company with the convoy.

On 19 February HMS Valiant fuelled HMS Hotspur in the morning, HMS Fortune and HMS Inconstant in the afternoon and HMS Express in the evening.

At 1150Z/22, HMS Quadrant and HMS Redoubt were detached to Gibraltar and Casablanca respectively.

At 1615A/24, the frigate HMS Moyola (Lt.Cdr. H.N. Lawson, RD, RNR) joined.

At 1620Z/24, HMS Valiant, HMS Hotspur, HMS Fortune and HMS Inconstant parted company with the convoy to proceed to Plymouth where they arrived in the morning of the following day.

At 1930/25, the Britannic and Indrapoera parted company with the convoy to proceed to Liverpool escorted by HMS Express. They arrived at Liverpool on the 26th.

The remainder of the convoy arrived in the Clyde on the 26th. (6)

Sources

  1. ADM 53/112049 + ADM 53/113052 + ADM 199/383
  2. ADM 199/408
  3. ADM 199/426 + ADM 199/1185
  4. ADM 199/426
  5. ADM 199/1211
  6. ADM 53/118668 + ADM 53/118669 + ADM 199/635 + ADM 199/2349 + ADM 199/2491

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


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