Allied Warships

HMS Royalist (89)

Light cruiser of the Bellona class


HMS Royalist after completion in 1943

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeLight cruiser
ClassBellona 
Pennant89 
Built byScotts Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. (Greenock, Scotland) 
Ordered4 Sep 1939 
Laid down21 Mar 1940 
Launched30 May 1942 
Commissioned10 Sep 1943 
End service 
History

Transferred to Royal New Zealand Navy on 9 July 1956.
Decommissioned by the Royal New Zealand Navy on 4 June 1966.

Returned to the Royal Navy in 1967.
Sold to Nissho Co, Japan, in November 1967 and she left Auckland under tow to Osaka on 31 December 1967.

 

Commands listed for HMS Royalist (89)

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CommanderFromTo
1Capt. Markham Henry Evelegh, RN25 May 194328 Jun 1944
2Capt. John Graham Hewitt, DSO, RN28 Jun 1944Dec 1944
3Capt. Wilfred Geoffrey Brittain, RNDec 1944late 1945

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Notable events involving Royalist include:


7 Oct 1943
HMS Viking (Lt. R. Bannar-Martin, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises at/off Scapa Flow with HMS Royalist (Capt. M.H. Evelegh, RN), HMS Speedwell (Lt.Cdr. T.E. Williams, RD, RNR), HMS Seagull (T/A/Lt.Cdr. R.W. Ellis, DSC, RNR) and HMS Magpie (Lt.Cdr. R.S. Abram, RN) and HMIS Kistna (A/Cdr.(Emgy.) R.R. Caws, RIN). (1)

18 Oct 1943
HMS Tuna (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) J.R.G. Harvey, RN) conducted practice attacks on HMS Royalist (Capt. M.H. Evelegh, RN) for the C.O.Q.C. (Commanding Officers Qualifying Course). (2)

19 Oct 1943
HMS Birmingham (Capt. H.W. Williams, RN) departed Scapa Flow for a few days of exercises.

During the night of 19/20 October 1943 exercises were carried out with HMS Royalist (Capt. M.H. Evelegh, RN)

During the night of 20/21 October 1943 exercises were carried out with HMS Kent (Capt. G.A.B. Hawkins, DSC, MVO, RN) and HMS Jamaica (Capt. J.L. Storey, DSO, RN).

HMS Birmingham returned to Scapa Flow on 21 October. (3)

21 Oct 1943
HMS Tuna (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) J.R.G. Harvey, RN) conducted A/S exercises with HMS Royalist (Capt. M.H. Evelegh, RN), HMS Ashanti (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN) and USS Forrest (Lt.Cdr. K.P. Letts, USN). (2)

26 Oct 1943
During 26/27 October 1943, HMS Birmingham (Capt. H.W. Williams, RN) and HMS Royalist (Capt. M.H. Evelegh, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. These included night exercises. (4)

29 Oct 1943
HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN) conducted gunnery exercises off Scapa Flow during which she was escorted by the destroyer HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, DSO, DSC, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Brissenden (Lt. D.D.E. Vivian, RN).

Also a range and inclination exercise was carried out with HMS Royalist (Capt. M.H. Evelegh, RN). (5)

30 Mar 1944

Operation Tungsten

Air attacks by the FAA against the German battleship Tirpitz

Around 1200A/30, ' Force 1 ', departed Scapa Flow. It was made up of the battleships HMS Duke of York (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Admiral B.A. Fraser, GCB, KBE, RN), HMS Anson (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO and Bar, RN flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.R. Moore, KCB, DSO, CVO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN), light cruiser HMS Belfast (Capt. F.R. Parham, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Onslaught (Cdr. the Hon. A. Pleydell-Bouverie, RN), HMS Javelin (Lt.Cdr. P.B.N. Lewis, DSC, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski), HMCS Algonquin (Lt.Cdr. D.W. Piers, DSC, RCN) and HMCS Sioux (A/Lt.Cdr. E.E.G. Boak, RCN).

Ships of ' Force 1 ' was first to provide cover for Convoy JW 58 for part of it's passage to Northern Russia.

Around 1900A/30, ' Force 2 ' departed Scapa Flow. It was made up of the light cruisers HMS Royalist (Capt. M.H. Evelegh, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.la T. Bisset, RN), HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.T. Addis, DSO, RN), HMS Jamaica (Capt. J. Hugh-Hallett, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. G.T. Philip, DSO, DSC, RN), escort carriers HMS Searcher (Capt. G.O.C. Davies, RN), HMS Pursuer (A/Capt. H.R. Graham, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Fencer (A/Capt. W.W.R. Bentinck, OBE, RN), HMS Emperor (A/Capt. T.J.N. Hilken, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Swift (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Gower, RN), HMS Verulam (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, DSC, RN), HMS Vigilant (Lt.Cdr. L.W.L. Argles, RN), HMS Virago (Lt.Cdr. A.J.R. White, RN) and HMS Wakeful (Lt.Cdr. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN).

The RFA oilers Black Ranger (3417 GRT, built 1941) and Blue Ranger (3417 GRT, built 1941) were also with ' Force 2 '.

Around 0250A/31, the destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, DSO, RN), HMS Marne (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), HMS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Mackenzie, RD, RNR) and HMS Ursa (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, DSC, RN) joined ' Force 1 ' coming from Skaalefjord, Faeroer Islands.

Around 0340A/31, the original destroyer screen of ' Force 1 ' was detached to Skaalefjord arriving there later the same day.

On 2 April ' Force 1 ' fuelled its destroyers (by the battleships) and proceeded to join ' Force 2 ' coming from Scapa Flow for the upcoming Operation Tungsten. Rendezvous was effected around 1600A/2.

Some regrouping was done and the battleship HMS Duke of York and the destroyers HMS Marne and HMS Matchless parted company to proceed to position 74°00'N, 12°30'E from where they were to provide cover for the operation.

' Force 1 ' was now made up of HMS Anson, HMS Victorious, HMS Furious, HMS Belfast, HMS Jamaica, HMS Milne, HMS Meteor, HMS Swift, HMS Ursa, HMS Undaunted and HMS Virago. This force proceeded to the flying off position for Operation Tungsten which was in approximately 71°30'N, 19°00'E.

' Force 2 ' was now made up of HMS Royalist, HMS Sheffield, HMS Searcher, HMS Pursuer, HMS Fencer, HMS Emperor, HMS Onslaught, HMS Verulam, HMS Vigilant, HMS Wakeful, HMCS Algonquin and HMS Sioux.

And there was also ' Force 7 ' the oiling force made up of the RFA oilers Black Ranger, Blue Ranger escorted by ORP Piorun and HMS Javelin.

In the morning of 3 April, HMS Victorious and HMS Furious launched air strikes against the German battleship Tirpitz in the Altafjord. In two strikes the German battleship was hit by a total of 15 bombs. In total 123 of the crew of the Tirpitz were killed and 329 were wounded for the loss of only four British aircraft.

Course was then set by all units to return to Scapa Flow.

Around 1400A/3, the escort carrier HMS Searcher, which had developed engine trouble, parted company with ' Force 2 '. She was given an escort, made up of the the light cruiser HMS Jamaica and the destroyers HMS Virago and HMS Wakeful.

On 4 April the destroyer HMS Ulysses (Lt.Cdr. R.J. Hanson, DSO, DSC, RN) departed Scapa Flow to join ' Force 7 ', the oiling force as additional escort.

HMS Duke of York, HMS Marne and HMS Matchless arrived around 0915A/5.

' Force 1 ' and ' Force 2 ' arrived around 1600A/6.

Around 0115A/7, HMS Searcher, HMS Jamaica, HMS Virago and HMS Wakeful arrived at Scapa Flow.

Around 0330A/7, the fuelling force arrived at Scapa Flow. (6)

13 Apr 1944

Operation Pitchbowl.

The object of this operation was to provide fighter protection to RAF Beaufighters operating in two strikes against shipping in the Norwegian Leads.

The light cruiser HMS Royalist (Capt. M.H. Evelegh, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.la T. Bisset, RN), HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.T. Addis, DSO, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Berwick (Capt. N.V. Grace, RN), escort carriers HMS Emperor (A/Capt. T.J.N. Hilken, DSO, RN), HMS Fencer (A/Capt. W.W.R. Bentinck, OBE, RN), HMS Pursuer (A/Capt. H.R. Graham, DSO, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Marne (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), HMS Musketeer (Cdr. R.L. Fisher, OBE, DSC, RN), HMS Onslaught (Cdr. the Hon. A. Pleydell-Bouverie, RN), HMCS Sioux (A/Lt.Cdr. E.E.G. Boak, RCN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski) left Scapa Flow to proceed to the flying off position in 62°00'N, 02°30'E.

Visibility was poor throughout the day and no flying was possible. On the following day, the first RAF strike was postponed owing to bad weather conditions and the force reversed its course.

In the afternoon of the 14th there was no improvement in the weather and the second RAF strike was also cancelled. The following day was the weather was the same and the operation was now abandoned. The force then returned to Scapa Flow arriving in the afternoon of the 15th. (7)

21 Apr 1944

Operations Planet, Ridge and Veritas.

On 21 April 1944, two forces departed Scapa Flow for operations off Norway, these were divided in two groups;

Force 7 was made up of the battleship HMS Anson (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.R. Moore, KCB, DSO, CVO, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN), HMS Furious (Capt. G.T. Philip, DSO, DSC, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Kent (Capt. G.A.B. Hawkins, DSC, MVO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kempenfelt (Capt. M.L. Power, OBE, RN), HMS Venus (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson DSO, RN), HMS Vigilant (Lt.Cdr. L.W.L. Argles, RN), HMCS Algonquin (Lt.Cdr. D.W. Piers, DSC, RCN), HMCS Sioux (A/Lt.Cdr. E.E.G. Boak, RCN), HMS Swift (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Gower, RN) and HMS Kelvin (Lt.Cdr. R.M.W. MacFarlan, RN).

Force 8 was made up of the light cruisers HMS Royalist (Capt. M.H. Evelegh, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.la T. Bisset, RN), HMS Jamaica (Capt. J. Hugh-Hallett, DSO, RN), escort carriers HMS Emperor (A/Capt. T.J.N. Hilken, DSO, RN), HMS Pursuer (A/Capt. H.R. Graham, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Searcher (Capt. G.O.C. Davies, RN), HMS Striker (Capt. W.P. Carne, RN) and the destroyers HMS Serapis (Capt. P.G.L. Cazalet, DSC, RN), HMS Ursa (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, DSC, RN), HMS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Mackenzie, RD, RNR), HMS Wakeful (Lt.Cdr. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN), HMS Wizard (Lt.Cdr. D.T. McBarnet, DSC, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski) and HMS Javelin (Lt.Cdr. P.B.N. Lewis, DSC, RN).

Operation Planet

The target date for this operation was 24 April 1944. When the forces arrived in the operations area on 23 April the weather forecasts were unsuitable and they reversed course for 24 hours but the weather to following day was equally bad. Both forces proceeded to the flying off position but there was no improvement in the weather so Vice-Admiral Moore decided to cancel the operation. Both forces then proceeded as for Operation Ridge.

In the meantime the destroyers HMS Javelin and HMS Kelvin had been detached to fuel at the Faroes where they arrived on the 24th. After fuelling they were instructed to wait there for further orders.

Operation Ridge.

Operation Ridge was originally intended to be carried out in two parts; 'Ridge Able' was to be an attack on shipping in the Bodo area by Force 7 and 'Ridge Baker' was to be an attack on shipping in the Rorvik area by Force 8.

In the event it was decided that both forces were to carry out 'Ridge Able' in two stikes, one attacking Bodo harbour and the other sweeping the leads to the southward.

The two forces arrived at the flying off position at dawn on 26 April 1944. Weather conditions were not ideal and were worse inshore and in the end both strikes attacked the same target - an escorted convoy of 4 or 5 merchant ships in approximate position 67°06'N, 13°57'E at about 0600 hours. The convoy was southbound, presumebly having left Bodo about one hour previously. Four merchant ships and one escort vessel were claimed to have been hit with bombs. The largest merchant ship was reported beached and burning. Two other were also seen to be on fire.

[The convoy attacked was en-route from Narvik to Germany with iron oreand was made up of four merchant vessels; Eugenio C. (4094 GRT, built 1928), Itauri (6838 GRT, built 1923), Leena (1079 GRT, built 1905) and Lotte Leonhardt (4167 GRT, built 1937). It was being escorted by the patrol vessels V 5905 / Varanger and V 5906 / Nordpol. The Eugenio C., Itauri and Lotte Leonhardt were sunk while the V 5905 was damaged.]

Besides the attack on the convoy two Barracudas and several fighters attacked Bodo harbour in spite of the weather. One hit was claimed on a large merchant ship. Two other Barracudas attacked a derelict merchant vessel that was ashore. They obtained at least one hit.

One Barracuda, two Corsairs, one Hellcat and one Wildcat were lost during the attacks. Another Hellcat crashed while landing on HMS Emperor.

At 0730/26, HMS Victorious, HMS Kent and two destroyers (HMS Venus and HMS Vigilant) parted company to conduct operation 'Veritas' (see below). The remainder of Forces 7 and 8 set course to return to Scapa Flow where they arrived on the 28th. HMS Javelin and HMS Kelvin also returned with them having joined Force 8 on the 27th having departed the Faroes on the 26th.

Operation Veritas.

On leaving Force 7, the 'Victorious'-Force proceeed to the flying off position (69°31'N, 12°50'E). Reconnaissance flights were to be carried out for a possible future amphibious assault on Narvik. The flying off position was reached at 1620/26 and six Corsairs with long range fuel tanks were launched for the operation.

The aircraft returned to HMS Victorious almost two hours later. One Corsair had machine gunned a tanker on the way back starting a small fire amidships. All aircraft landed safely despite the difficult conditions due to the weather. (6)

12 May 1944

Operations Brawn, Proteus and Potluck.

Operation Brawn was planned as a repetition of Operation Tungsten, (the Fleet Air Arm attack on the German battleship Tirpitz in the Altenfiord in Northern Norway). Operation Proteus was a repetition of Operation Veritas (reconnaissance of a seaborne assault of the Narvik area, as part of the cover plan for the upcoming landings in Normandy (Operation Neptune). The two Operations to be carried out by the same force while the escort carrier squadron was to act a diversion to the south by attacking shipping off the Norwegian coast (Operation Potluck).

' Force 7 ', made up of the aircraft carriers HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.R. Moore, KCB, DSO, CVO, RN, Second-in-Command Home Fleet), HMS Furious (Capt. G.T. Philip, DSO, DSC, RN), heavy cruisers HMS Kent (Capt. G.A.B. Hawkins, DSC, MVO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.R. McGrigor, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Devonshire (Capt. D.K. Bain, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. M. Richmond, DSO, OBE, RN), HMS Marne (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Musketeer (Cdr. R.L. Fisher, OBE, DSC, RN), HMS Oribi (Lt.Cdr. J.C.A. Ingram, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Savage (Cdr. M.D.C. Meyrick, DSO, RN) and HMS Venus (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson DSO, RN) departed Scapa Flow on 12 May and proceeded to the flying off position for Altenfiord reaching the area P.M. on the 14th. At this time it was evident that weather conditions would be unsuitable and the force stood off to the north-west until the following day.

P.M. on the 15th the weather conditions were again not favourable but the strike was flown off in the hope of an improvement in the weather conditions over the target. Unfortunately the target was covered by a thick bank of cloud with no apparent opening and the strike had no option but to return, being landed on without incident.

Having meanwhile lost the advantage of surprise, Vice-Admiral, Moore abandoned Operation Brawn and proceeded to the southward to carry out Operation Proteus the following day.

By 0900B/16 weather conditions had deteriorated sufficiently to prevent any flying operations and 'Force 7 ' again withdrew to the north-west. A weather reconnaissance was flown by two Barracudas from HMS Victorious to try and find a suitable break in the weather for Operation Proteus. One Barracuda returned and reported bad weather conditions for at least 120 miles to the south-west. The other Barracuda could not find HMS Victorious and was lost with her crew.

Operation Proteus too then had to be abandoned and ' Force 7 ' withdrew to Scapa Flow arriving there P.M. on 18 May 1944.

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Meanwhile operation Potluck was carried out. This operation was planned as another strike against shipping on the Norwegian coast, between Rorvik and Frohavet, by the Escort Carrier Squadron, the main object was to create a diversion for Operation Brawn, being carried out simultaneously further north. In this it was completely successful as Vice Admiral Moore's ' Force 7 ' remained apparently undetected in their operation area for about 48 hours.

The result of Operation Potluck was damage to several merchant ships and armed trawlers. Also a fish oil factory was hit by bombs. 4 German He-115 floatplanes were shot down, a FW-200 and a Me-110 were damaged. Own losses were one aircraft.

The force involved was made up of the escort carriers HMS Emperor (A/Capt. T.J.N. Hilken, DSO, RN), HMS Striker (Capt. W.P. Carne, RN), light cruisers HMS Royalist (Capt. M.H. Evelegh, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.la T. Bisset, RN), HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.T. Addis, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Onslow (Capt. J.A. McCoy, DSO, RN), HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. H. Unwin, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Wakeful (Lt.Cdr. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN), HMS Ursa (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, DSC, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski) and ORP Blyscawica (Cdr. K.F. Namiesniowski). It had left Scapa Flow on 12 May and proceeded towards the Norwegian coast, arriving in the flying off position around 1230B/14 by which time the force had been detected by German aircraft which were now shadowing the force. In view of the main object of the operation, see bave, this was all to the good as it had been the intention.

After withdrawing to the westward, the force was attacked by six to eight German Me-110's. Gunfire from the 5.25" turrets of HMS Royalist turned the formation away and Sea Hurricane fighters from HMS Striker caused them to jettison their bombs and make flee at high speed for home, one of them meanwhile having been damaged)

On 15th May, the force closed the Norwegian coast again and at 0425B/15 a second strike of eight bombers and seven fighters which proceeded to attack the fish oil factory at Fosnavaag and two armed coasters off the shore. The strike returned without loss and due to the unfavourable weather reports from inshore, Rear-Admiral Bisset decided not to carry out any further strikes and returned towards the west. The Force arrived back at Scapa Flow on 16 May 1944. (6)

23 May 1944
The battleships HMS Duke of York (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Admiral B.A. Fraser, GCB, KBE, RN), HMS Anson (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.R. Moore, KCB, DSO, CVO, RN) and HMS Howe (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, DSO, RN) and the light cruiser HMS Royalist (Capt. M.H. Evelegh, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.la T. Bisset, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. The battleships were escorted by the destroyers HMS Musketeer (Cdr. R.L. Fisher, OBE, DSC, RN), HMS Marne (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN) and HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN). (8)

1 Jun 1944
HMS Howe (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, DSO, RN) and HMS Royalist (Capt. M.H. Evelegh, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.la T. Bisset, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. (9)

8 Jun 1944
HMS Duke of York (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Admiral B.A. Fraser, GCB, KBE, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, DSO, RN) and HMS Royalist (Capt. M.H. Evelegh, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.la T. Bisset, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow.

HMS Duke of York and HMS Royalist returned to Scapa Flow in the afternoon, HMS Howe remained at sea for more exercises only returning late in the morning of the 9th. (10)

15 Jun 1944
HMS Howe (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, DSO, RN) and HMS Royalist (Capt. M.H. Evelegh, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.la T. Bisset, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. (9)

20 Jun 1944

Operation Wanderers.

The object of this operation was to create a diversion in Norwegian waters so that the enemy was tempted to retain his large U-boat force in that area.

The light cruisers HMS Royalist (Capt. M.H. Evelegh, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.la T. Bisset, RN), HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.T. Addis, DSO, RN), escort carriers HMS Striker (Capt. W.P. Carne, RN), HMS Fencer (A/Capt. W.W.R. Bentinck, OBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. M. Richmond, DSO, OBE, RN), HMS Marne (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN, HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), HMS Musketeer (Cdr. R.L. Fisher, OBE, DSC, RN), HMS Wakeful (Lt.Cdr. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN) and WESSEX departed Scapa Flow on 20 June 1944.

No actual U-boats were sighted by the aircraft from the escort carriers.

The Force returned to Scapa Flow on 25 June 1944. (11)

10 May 1945

Operation Dukedom.

Intercepting Japanese surface ships trying to evacuate troops from the Andaman Islands.

On 8 May 1945 a report was received from two British submarines on patrol in the Malacca Strait (HMS Statesman (Lt. R.G.P. Bulkeley, RN) and HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) that they had sighted a Japanese heavy cruiser and a destroyer proceeding to the north-west. The Eastern Fleet was already on alert due to intelligence and ships from the Eastern Fleet immediately (around 0700 hours) put to sea from Trincomalee, Ceylon for operation Dukedom. These ships formed Task Force 61. This task force was, at that moment, made up of the following ships;
British battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. R.M. Ellis, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral H.C.T. Walker, CB, RN), the French battleship Richelieu (Capt. G.M.J. Merveilleux du Vignaux), the British escort carriers HMS Hunter (Capt. A.D. Torlesse, RN), HMS Khedive (A/Capt. D.H. Magnay, RN), HMS Shah (Capt. W.J. Yendell, RN), HMS Emperor (Capt. Sir C. Madden, RN), the British heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland (Capt. P.K. Enright, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN), the British light cruiser HMS Royalist (Capt. W.G. Brittain, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Commodore N.G. Oliver, CB, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), the Dutch light cruiser HrMs Tromp (A/Capt. F. Stam, RNN) and the British destroyers HMS Saumarez (Capt. M.L. Power, CBE, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Venus (Cdr. H.G.D. De Chair, DSC with Bar, RN), HMS Vigilant (Lt.Cdr. L.W.L. Argles, DSC, RN), HMS Virago (Lt.Cdr. A.J.R. White, DSC, RN), HMS Rotherham (Capt. H.W. Biggs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Nubian (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN) and HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Diack, DSC and Bar, RN). This latter destroyer however had to return due to defects.

The British destroyer HMS Verulam (Lt.Cdr. D.H.R. Bromley, DSC, RN) sailed at 1700 hours to overtake and then join the Task Force. She was joined by HMS Tartar (Capt. B. Jones, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) as substitute for HMS Penn whose defects could not be repaired in time. HMS Verulam and HMS Tartar eventually joined the Task Force at 1505/11.

Most ships of the Task Force had only returned from the previous operation the day before and for instance HMS Queen Elizabeth had only 50% ammunition for her 15” guns on board. Also HMS Emperor and HMS Khedive were not fully fueled.

The same day the tanker Easedale (8032 GRT, built 1942) departed Trincomalee escorted by the British destroyer HMS Paladin (Lt. H.R. Hewlett, RN) (Force 70) to provide fuel for the smaller ships of Force 61.

At 1940/11 a fast attack force, made up of Richelieu, HMS Cumberland and the destroyer of the 26th Destroyer Flotilla; HMS Saumarez, HMS Venus, HMS Verlulam, HMS Viliglant and HMS Virago were ordered to proceed ahead to about 50 miles from the Task Force to be in a better position to intercept the reported Japanese heavy cruiser.

In the early afternoon of the 12th an air strike with four Hellcats was carried out against airfields on Car Nicobar Island. One Japanese aircraft was seen to go up in flames.

Also on the 12th submarine HMS Statesman reported that the Japanese cruiser and it's escort were returning to Singapore most likely to Force 61 being sighted the previous day by a Japanese aircraft.

During the 13th all destroyers of the Task Force fueled from HMS Emperor, HMS Hunter and HMS Shah. Besides that Task Force 62 was sent out from Trincomalee. This Task Force was made up of the British light cruiser HMS Nigeria (Capt. H.A. King, DSO, RN) and the British destroyers HMS Roebuck (Cdr. C.D. Bonham-Carter, RN), HMS Racehorse (Cdr. J.J. Casement, DSC, RN), HMS Redoubt (Lt.Cdr. F.W.M. Carter, DSC, RN) and HMS Rocket (Lt.Cdr. H.B. Acworth, OBE, RN), which was escorting a convoy, was ordered to leave her convoy and then join this Task Force. Also sailed was Task Force 67, made up of Royal Fleet Auxiliary oiler Olwen escorted by HMS Penn, which by now had completed repairs on her defects.

On the 14th HrMs Tromp was sent ahead to fuel from Task Force 70. Late in the evening the remainder of Task Force 61 arrived at the rendez-vous with Task Force 70.

On the 15th the enemy cruiser and destroyer were sighted by an aircraft from HMS Shah. They were again proceeding to the south-east. Shortly afterwards the enemy was also sighted by a patrolling Liberator aircraft which began shadowing the enemy. At 1500 hours three Avenger aircraft attacked the cruiser.

The 26th destroyer flottila, made up of HMS Saumarez, HMS Venus, HMS Verulam, HMS Vigilant and HMS Vigaro were ordered to intercept the enemy after dark. At 1500 hours they were 85 miles from the position of the enemy.

Around midnight the destroyers made radar contact on the cruiser. They then attacked from all directions with torpedoes. About eight hits were scored and the cruiser was sunk. During the attack HMS Saumarez was hit three times with 8" shells. Two ratings were killed on one boiler room was put out of action. The destroyers rejoined the task force at 1000/16. HMS Virago had only 17% fuel left, the other destroyers between that and 30%. HMS Virago and HMS Venus had to fuel from the escort carriers as they could not make it to the oiling force without doing so.

In the evening of the 16th the Task Force was attacked by Japanese aircraft. HMS Virago was near missed and suffered four ratings killed, five ratings severely wounded and thirteen other casualties. She was also listing slightly due to splinter damage.

At 1000/17 the following ships were detached to return to Trincomalee; Richelieu, HMS Nigeria, HMS Royalist, HrMs Tromp, HMS Khedive, HMS Shah and HMS Racehorce.

1740 hours, the 26th Destroyer Flotilla was also detached to return to Trincomalee where they arrived late in the afternoon on the 18th. By this time all the destroyers of this flotilla had fueled from Force 70.

The remaining ships were ordered to return to Trincomalee at 2130/19. They arrived back at Trincomalee on 21 May. (12)

14 Jun 1945

Operation Balsam

Photographic reconnaissance of Southern Malaya and fighter strikes on airfields in Northern Sumatra.

On 14 June 1945, ' Task Force 63 ' departed Trincomalee. It was made up of the light cruiser HMS Royalist (Capt. W.G. Brittain, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Commodore N.G. Oliver, CB, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Suffolk (Capt. D. Gilmour, RN), escort carriers HMS Ameer (Cdr. P.D.H.R. Pelly, DSO, RN), HMS Khedive (A/Capt. D.H. Magnay, RN), HMS Stalker (Capt. L.C. Sinker, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Rotherham (Capt. H.W. Biggs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Racehorse (Cdr. J.J. Casement, DSC, RN), HMS Redoubt (Lt.Cdr. F.W.M. Carter, DSC, RN), HMS Relentless (Lt.Cdr. G.B. Barstow, RN) and HMS Roebuck (Cdr. C.D. Bonham-Carter, RN).

On the 16th, HMS Royalist and the destroyers were topped off with fuel. HMS Suffolk fuelling HMS Rotherham and HMS Racehorce. HMS Ameer fuelling HMS Redoubt and HMS Relentless. HMS Stalker fuelled HMS Royalist and HMS Redoubt. HMS Khedive did not fuel any of the other ships.

From flying off position in the northern approaches to the Malacca Straits, aircraft of 888 Squadron, from HMS Ameer made successful photographic reconnaissance flights over southern Malaya from 18 to 20 June.

On 20 June, fighter strikes against the airfields at Lhoksemawe, Medan, and Binjai (all in Northern Sumatra) were made by aircraft of 804, 808 and 809 Squadrons. The runways at Medan and Binjai were put out of action. Attacks on grounded enemy aircraft resulted in three being destroyed, seven left burning and probably destroyed and nine was claimed to have been damaged. Aerodrome buildings, locomotives, and rolling stock were also effectively strafed. Off Medan two junks, one of which was obviously carrying oil, were attacked and set on fire.

Own losses were only one Hellcat shot down by enemy AA fire.

It looked like that ' Force 63 ' had not been detected by the enemy throughout the operation.

In the morning/early afternoon of 21 June, HMS Rotherham fuelled from HMS Ameer, HMS Racehorce, HMS Roebuck and HMS Redoubt fuelled from HMS Khedive, HMS Royalist fuelled from HMS Stalker and HMS Relentless fuelled from HMS Suffolk

At 1340GH/21, HMS Ameer, HMS Stalker, HMS Rotherham and HMS Relentless parted company with the remainder of the force.

At 1510GH/21, HMS Royalist, HMS Roebuck and HMS Racehorce parted company with HMS Khedive, HMS Suffolk and HMS Redoubt.

At 2200GH/21, HMS Ameer parted company with HMS Stalker, HMS Rotherham and HMS Relentless.

At 1200GH/22, HMS Rotherham and HMS Relentless parted company with HMS Stalker.

HMS Rotherham and HMS Relentless arrived at Trincomalee at 0700FG/23.

HMS Royalist, HMS Roebuck and HMS Racehorce arrived at Vishakhapatnam around 1115FG/23.

HMS Ameer arrived at Madras around 1600FG/23.

HMS Khedive, HMS Suffolk and HMS Redoubt arrived at Trincomalee around 1700FG/23.

And finally HMS Stalker arrived at Cochin around 1915FG/25. (13)

Sources

  1. ADM 173/18454
  2. ADM 173/18313
  3. ADM 53/117056 + ADM 53/117683 + ADM 53/118489
  4. ADM 53/117056 + ADM 53/118489
  5. ADM 53/118388
  6. ADM 199/1427
  7. ADM 53/118996 + ADM 53/119343 + ADM 53/119422 + ADM 53/120283 + ADM 53/120421 + ADM 53/120485 + ADM 199/1427
  8. ADM 53/118820 + ADM 53/119293 + ADM 53/119555
  9. ADM 53/119556 + ADM 53/120423
  10. ADM 53/119294 + ADM 53/119556 + ADM 53/120423
  11. ADM 53/119424 + ADM 53/120423 + ADM 53/120487 + ADM 53/120560 + ADM 199/1427
  12. Files 2.12.03.6854 and 2.12.27.121 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands) and WO 203 / 4630 (British National Archives, Kew, London)
  13. ADM 53/120826 + ADM 53/121593 + ADM 53/122171 + ADM 53/122303 + ADM 53/122326 + ADM 53/122529 + ADM 199/1457

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


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