Allied Warships

FR Duquesne

Heavy cruiser of the Duquesne class

NavyThe French Navy
TypeHeavy cruiser
ClassDuquesne 
Pennant 
Built byArsenal de Brest (Brest, France) 
Ordered 
Laid down30 Oct 1924 
Launched17 Dec 1925 
Commissioned6 Dec 1928 
End serviceAug 1947 
History

Disarmed at Alexandria, Egypt and interned by the British on 22 June 1940.
Rejoined the Allied cause and rearmed on 30 May 1943.
Decommissioned to reserve in August 1947.
Transferred to Arzew, Algeria as a floating base ship for Amphibious Forces.
Remained in Algeria until stricken 2 July 1955.
Broken up for scrap in 1955.

 

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Notable events involving Duquesne include:


9 Mar 1940
The French battleship Provence (Capt. G.T.E. Barois), the British aircraft carrier HMS Hermes (Capt. F.E.P. Hutton, RN), the French heavy cruiser Duquesne (Capt. G.E. Besineau) and the British destroyers HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, RN) and HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN) departed Dakar for a patrol in the mid-Atlantic near the equator. (1)

16 Mar 1940
The French battleship Provence (Capt. G.T.E. Barois), the British aircraft carrier HMS Hermes (Capt. F.E.P. Hutton, RN), the French heavy cruiser Duquesne (Capt. G.E. Besineau) and the British destroyers HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, RN) and HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN) returned to Dakar. (1)

29 Apr 1940
HMS Malaya (Capt. I.B.B. Tower, DSC, RN) and HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN), HMS Velox (Cdr.(Retd.) J.C. Colvill, RN), HMAS Vendetta (Lt. R. Rhoades RAN) and HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN) are joined by French warships from Mers-el--Kebir and Algeria, these were the battleships Lorraine (Capt. L.M.L. Rey), Bretagne (Capt. L.R.E. de Pivian), Provence (Capt. G.T.E. Barois), heavy cruisers Tourville (Capt. A.J.A. Marloy), Duquesne (Capt. G.E. Besineau), light cruiser Duguay Trouin (Capt. J.M.C. Trolley de Prevaux) and the destroyers Lion (Cdr. J.J.A. Vetillard), Lynx (Cdr. A.M. De Gouyon Matignon de Pontourade) and Forbin (Lt.Cdr. R.C.M. Chartellier).

30 Apr 1940
The destroyers HMAS Stuart (Cdr. H.M.L. Waller, RAN) and HMAS Vampire (Cdr. J.A. Walsh, RAN) and later the light cruiser HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN) and the destroyers HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, RN) and HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN) departed Malta to join the British battleships HMS Malaya (Capt. I.B.B. Tower, DSC, RN), HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN), French battleships Lorraine (Capt. L.M.L. Rey), Bretagne (Capt. L.R.E. de Pivian), Provence (Capt. G.T.E. Barois), French heavy cruisers Tourville (Capt. A.J.A. Marloy), Duquesne (Capt. G.E. Besineau), French light cruiser Duguay Trouin (Capt. J.M.C. Trolley de Prevaux) that were escorted by the British destroyers HMS Velox (Cdr.(Retd.) J.C. Colvill, RN), HMS Watchman (Lt.Cdr. E.C.L. Day, RN), Australian destroyers HMAS Vendetta (Lt. R. Rhoades RAN), HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN) and the French destroyers Lion (Cdr. J.J.A. Vetillard), Lynx (Cdr. A.M. De Gouyon Matignon de Pontourade) and Forbin (Lt.Cdr. R.C.M. Chartellier). These ships were en-route to Alexandria to reinforce the Mediterranean Fleet.

HMS Velox and HMS Watchman were detached before arriving at Alexandria though.

3 May 1940
British battleships HMS Malaya (Capt. I.B.B. Tower, DSC, RN), HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN), French battleships Lorraine (Capt. L.M.L. Rey), Bretagne (Capt. L.R.E. de Pivian), Provence (Capt. G.T.E. Barois), French heavy cruisers Tourville (Capt. A.J.A. Marloy), Duquesne (Capt. G.E. Besineau), French light cruiser Duguay Trouin (Capt. J.M.C. Trolley de Prevaux), British light cruiser HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN), British destroyers HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, RN), HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN), Australian destroyers HMAS Stuart (Cdr. H.M.L. Waller, RAN), HMAS Vampire (Cdr. J.A. Walsh, RAN, HMAS Vendetta (Lt. R. Rhoades RAN), HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN) and the French destroyers Lion (Cdr. J.J.A. Vetillard), Lynx (Cdr. A.M. De Gouyon Matignon de Pontourade) and Forbin (Lt.Cdr. R.C.M. Chartellier) arrived at Alexandria.

15 May 1940
Fleet exercises were carried out of Alexandria in which the following warships are thought to have participated; battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. D.B. Fisher, OBE, RN flying the flag of A/Admiral Sir A.B. Cunningham, KCB, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN), heavy cruisers Duquesne (Capt. G.E. Besineau), Tourville (Capt. A.J.A. Marloy), light cruisers HMS Neptune (Capt. J.A.V. Morse, DSO, RN), HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.C. Tovey, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Delhi (Capt. A.S. Russell, RN), HMS Dragon (Capt. R.G. Bowes-Lyon, MVO, RN), Duguay Trouin (Capt. J.M.C. Trolley de Prevaux), destroyers HMAS Stuart (Cdr. H.M.L. Waller, RAN), HMAS Vampire (Cdr. J.A. Walsh, RAN, HMAS Vendetta (Lt. R. Rhoades RAN), HMS Voyager (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Morrow, RAN), HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN), HMS Tigre (Capt. M. De La Forest Divonne), Lynx (Cdr. A.M. De Gouyon Matignon de Pontourade) and Forbin (Lt.Cdr. R.C.M. Chartellier).

Some of these ships remained out on exercises during the night of 15/16 May.

[It is possible that more ships participated in these exercises but much information is not available.]

22 Jun 1940

Operation BQ

Bombardment of Augusta, Sicily and raid to the south of the Strait of Messina.

Composition of forces taking part.

Force A: Battleship HMS Warspite (Capt. D.B. Fisher, OBE, RN, flying the flag of the C-in-C, Mediterranean Fleet, A/Admiral Sir A.B. Cunningham, KCB, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), light cruisers HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN), HMAS Sydney (Capt. J.A. Collins, RAN), destroyers HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN), HMS Mohawk (Cdr. J.W.M. Eaton, RN), HMS Dainty (Cdr. M.S. Thomas, RN), HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN) and HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN).

Force B: Light cruisers HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral J.C. Tovey, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Liverpool (Capt. P.A. Read, RN), HMS Gloucester (Capt. F.R. Garside, CBE, RN) destroyers HMS Juno (Cdr. W.E. Wilson, RN) and HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN).

Force C: Battleships HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.D. Pridham-Whippell, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Ramillies (Capt. H.T. Baillie-Grohman, OBE, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. A.R.M. Bridge, RN), destroyers HMS Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicholson, RN), HMS Hasty, (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Havock (Lt.Cdr. R.E. Courage, DSO, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, RN), HMS Hostile (Cdr. J.P. Wright, DSO, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC, RN), HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.deW. Kitcat, RN).

Force D: French heavy cruisers Duquesne (Capt. G.E. Besineau, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral R.E. Godfroy), Suffren (Capt. R.J.M. Dillard), light cruiser Duguay Trouin (Capt. J.M.C. Trolley de Prevaux)., destroyers HMAS Stuart (Cdr. H.M.L. Waller, RAN) and HMAS Vampire (Lt.Cdr. J.A. Walsh, RAN).

Sailing of the forces and the cancellation of the operation.

At 1700/22 HMS Eagle from Force C sailed with all the destroyers assigned to that force. They were followed at 2000 hours by the two R-class battleships assigned to that force.

At 2130/22 Force B sailed.

At 2200/22 Force A sailed.

At 2153 hours a signal was received from the Admiralty ordering the cancellation of the operation due to the French armistice. Following this signal the sailing of Force D was cancelled. Force A returned to the harbour immediately. Forces B and C were ordered to return to harbour on the morning of the next day. Orders were also issued to the Vice-Admiral Malta to not sail a convoy to Alexandria as had been intended under the cover of the operation. (2)

Sources

  1. ADM 199/380
  2. ADM 199/386

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


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