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ADMIRALTY WAR DIARIES of WORLD WAR 2

 

VICE ADMIRAL, FIRST (1st) CRUISER SQUADRON - March to August 1940

 

Transcribed by Don Kindell, edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Devonshire  (Navy Photos, click to enlarge)

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Source: ADM 199/388

Cruiser Squadron One’s War Diary commenced on 1 March 1940. Before this time, their activities were carried by the Rosyth War Diary which only began on 5 November 1939 (ADM 199/362) and more broadly in the Daily Operations Report for First Lord (ADM 199/1939 et al).


 

 

WAR DIARY OF THE VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING, FIRST CRUISER SQUADRON

 

1st March –15th March 1940

 

Friday, 1st March 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron on duty at Admiralty

 

State of First Cruiser Squadron

 

DEVONSHIRE (Flag)

At Rosyth. Giving ten days leave to Ship's Company. Ship berth in No. 2 Dock at 36 hours notice for sea. Opportunity was taken to effect minor repairs in DEVONSHIRE and to blank off main deck scuttles.

BERWICK

DENMARK STRAIT Patrol (N.P. No. 42)

YORK

Left Scapa at 1015 for South Iceland Patrol (N.P. No. 53)

SUFFOLK

At Govan. Refit and repairs by Messrs Fairfields after collision damage –estimated date of completion 10th April 1940

NORFOLK

Greenock

SUSSEX

On passage to England from East Indies to Join First Cruiser Squadron

DORSETSHIRE

South Atlantic – to join First Cruiser Squadron in due course.

 

Saturday 2nd March 1940

 

A.M.     Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron, who had been at the Admiralty on duty in connection with STRATFORD plan, returned to DEVONSHIRE at Rosyth.

 

1330     BERWICK intercepted German merchant ship WOLFSBURG, disguised as German AUST in position 067-38 degrees North, 022-47 degrees West on the edge of an ice pack. The ship was in flames and half full of water and the crew had taken to the boats. Ship was finished off by gunfire. 26 Officers and 43 men were rescued.

 

Sunday 3rd March 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Rosyth

 

A.M.     Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron proceeded to Greenock by car to interview the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet in RODNEY. Visited NORFOLK and returned to Rosyth p.m.

 

1206     YORK intercepted German ship ARUCAS. Weather was too bad to board. The ship was abandoned by two boatloads of the crew, one of which capsized. Ship was finally abandoned at 1930 and settling rapidly. Ship was sunk by gunfire in position 063 degrees North, 013-55 degrees West. 42 men were rescued of whom three died.

 

Monday 4th March 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Rosyth.

 

A.M.     Conference on embarkation arrangements for STRATFORD Plan held. Attended by Major Rycroft, liaison Officer from the War Office, and by representatives of the Captain of the Dockyard, Rosyth. Final details of arrangements settled.

 

Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, orders BERWICK and YORK on completion of Patrol and NORFOLK on 7th March, to proceed to Scapa for gunnery exercises. First Cruiser Squadron not to be employed on Northern Patrol for the present.

 

Tuesday 5th March 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Rosyth.

 

BERWICK and YORK ordered to land prisoners at Kirkwall.

 

Wednesday 6th March 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Rosyth.

 

1630     After locating her by her own Walrus aircraft the previous evening, BERWICK intercepted the German ship URUGUAY in position 067-21 degrees North, 016-12 degrees West. Boarding party found the ship flooded and on fire. Rescued 14 Officers and 40 men. Ship was sunk by gunfire.

 

P.M.     DEVONSHIRE Ship’s company returned from leave.

 

Thursday 7th March 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Rosyth.

 

NORFOLK sailed from Greenock for Scapa Flow.

 

Friday 8th March 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Rosyth.

 

Torpedo tubes for NORFOLK, to replace those damaged in bad weather, arrived at Fairfields of Govan.

 

Saturday 9th March 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Rosyth.

 

DEVONSHIRE to South Arm, Rosyth Dockyard. Ship to 4 hours notice.

 

Sunday 10th March 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Rosyth.

 

YORK arrived Scapa

 

SUSSEX arrived Malta en route for England

 

2130     Report of war vessels sighted by WOLF in Denmark Strait DEVONSHIRE to 2 hours notice.

 

Monday 11th March 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Rosyth.

 

DEVONSHIRE reverted to 4 hours notice.

 

BERWICK (with despatches), with NORFOLK and YORK, ordered to leave Scapa for Rosyth after exercises on 12th March.

 

Ordered First Cruiser Squadron to embark Walrus aircraft from Hatston, including one in NORFOLK for DEVONSHIRE.

 

Tuesday 12th March 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Rosyth.

 

BERWICK, NORFOLK, and YORK sailed from Scapa for Rosyth. Admiralty orders BERWICK, NORFOLK, and YORK to arrive Rosyth by 1600 on 13th March.

 

Wednesday 13th March 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Rosyth.

 

“D 1” received for Operation R 3 as Wednesday 13th March. (Note: This should entail sailing for STRATFORD (“S.S.” and “S.B.”) on Tuesday, 19th March)). Ordnance Train to arrive on Sunday 17th March and Troops on Monday, 18th March.

 

A.M.     Telephone message from Major Rycroft to the effect that the Ordnance Train for “S.S.” and “S.B.” would arrive on Thursday, 14th March and should not be unloaded until his arrival.

 

A.M.     BERWICK, NORFOLK, and YORK arrived at Rosyth. BERWICK and NORFOLK berthed alongside, YORK in the stream.

 

Night leave was given to the First Cruiser Squadron present at Rosyth.

 

Thursday 14th March 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Rosyth.

 

0930     Three Ordnance Trains for “S.S.” and “S.B.” arrived in the Dockyard.

 

1000     Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron telephoned Captain Jeffries (Plans) from the Officer of the Commander in Chief, Rosyth and received intimation that trains should not be unloaded at present.

 

1130     Major Rycroft arrived and confirmed this and, in addition, stated that 24 hours notice as from 1430 each day could be expected before the executive to carry out STRATFORD Plan.

 

1900     Received Admiralty’s instructions to “mark time” on Plan R 3.

 

Friday 15th March 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Rosyth.

 

0315     Received instructions to cancel Plan R 3.

 

0445     Received instructions from the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet for the First Cruiser Squadron to resume Northern Patrol duties; two ships to proceed on patrol as early as practicable – the remainder to proceed to Scapa as convenient.

 

1200     NORFOLK sailed for South Iceland Patrol via Scapa Flow (to land Walrus).

 

1345     DEVONSHIRE sailed for Denmark Strait.

 

Both ships to calibrate on the D.G. range at Rosyth before proceeding.

 

(sgd) J.H.D. Cunningham

Vice Admiral Commanding

 


 

 

WAR DIARY OF VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING FIRST CRUISER SQUADRON

 

16th March – 31st March 1940

 

 

Saturday 16th March 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE proceeding to N.P. 41 from Rosyth.

 

Air raid on Scapa at 2000. NORFOLK hit by one 500 lb pound bomb and two near misses. Bomb entered the Quarter Deck Port side abaft “Y” Turret, passed through Main and Lower Decks and exploded near “Y” Shell Room blowing a hole in the starboard side below the waterline. “X” and “Y” Magazines and Shell Rooms Flooded.

Killed:               2 Midshipmen, 1 Paymaster Midshipman, 1 Warrant Engineer

 

Wounded:         1 Midshipman, 2 Gunners, 1 Warrant Electrician, 1 Yeoman of Signals 2 Maltese Stewards

 

(n.b. Midshipmen J. W. Busk and R.C. Evans-Lombe, Paymaster Midshipman D.B.P. Pick, and Warrant Engineer J.F. Baxter, RNR, were killed. Midshipman R.H. Cooper, Gunners H.R. Richards and D.A. Holdsworth, Acting Warrant Electrician M.A. Smith, Yeoman of Signals Richard Hill ( William Lewis?), Steward Alfred Mallia, and Petty Officer Steward Emmanuele Zammit were wounded.

Sunday 17th March 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE proceeding to N.P. 41

 

Monday 18th March 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONPORT on N.P. 41.

 

The Commander in Chief, Home Fleet ordered YORK and BERWICK to remain at Rosyth until required for N.P.

 

Tuesday 19th March

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE on N.P. 41.

 

Battle Fleet to sea to support Operation D.O.

 

NORFOLK escorted by four destroyers sailed for Clyde at 10 knots.

 

First Cruiser Squadron ordered to continue working from Clyde (Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1301/19)

 

Wednesday 20th March 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE on N.P. 41.

 

Rear Admiral A.T.B. Curteis appointed 2nd in Command, First Cruiser Squadron to date 30th May 1940.

 

Thursday 21st March 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE on N.P. 41.

 

Position of Battle Fleet at 1800 was 063 degrees 50 minutes North, 006 degrees, 00 minutes East proceeding to 062 degrees North 002 degrees East by 0730 22nd March.

 

NORFOLK reports date of complete end of June to mid July. Ship’s company proceed on 14 days leave.

 

Friday 22nd March 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE on N.P. 41.

 

Pocket Battleship or 10,000 ton cruiser, with tender of ALTMARK type reported “out” first week of March.

 

Saturday 23rd March 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE on N.P. 41.

 

BERWICK left Rosyth 1900 for N.P. 41.

 

Sunday 24th March 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE on N.P. 41.

 

Battle Fleet in support of Northern Patrol on a line Kelso – Langanaes.

 

Lowest temperature recorded 14 degrees Centigrade.

 

Monday 25th March 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE on N.P. 41.

 

YORK left Rosyth 1900 for N.P. 33 via Scapa, and tested D.G. on the Inchkieth Range.

 

Tuesday 26th March 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE on N.P. 41 relived by BERWICK at 1200.

 

YORK arrived Scapa, landed aircraft, and sailed for N.P. 33.

 

Wednesday 27th March 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE returning to Clyde.

 

SUFFOLK undocked at Govan (Fairfields)

 

Thursday 28th March 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE arrived Greenock at 1000 from Northern Patrol. This patrol produced a very large incidence of illnesses amongst Officers and Men, German Measles, Influenza, and severe common colds

 

Friday 29th March 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Greenock.

 

Saturday 30th March 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Greenock.

 

Sunday 31st March 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Greenock.

 

Plan R 4 to be put into operation (Admiralty Message 0125/31) – also STRATFORD probably 3rd April. DEVONSHIRE, BERWICK, and YORK to arrive Rosyth by 3rd April.

 

YORK left N.P. 33 for Rosyth via Fair Island Channel.

 

BERWICK left N.P. 41 for Rosyth via the Pentland Firth.

 

GLASGOW detailed to join the Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron at Rosyth.

 

Aircraft for DEVONSHIRE and YORK ordered to be ferried from Hatston to Rosyth.

 

SUFFOLK reported ready to sail 14th April.

 

 


 

 

WAR DIARY OF VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING FIRST CRUISER SQUADRON

 

1st April –15th April 1940

 

 

Monday 1st April 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Greenock.

 

A.M. Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron visited NORFOLK and SUFFOLK at Govan and inspected damage to NORFOLK.

 

Northern Patrol Cruisers withdrawn indefinitely.

 

H.M.S. GLASGOW placed under Vice Admiral Command First Cruiser Squadron’s orders and instructed to proceed to Rosyth.

 

Asked Lee on Solent to send Walrus for NORFOLK to Hatston.

 

Tuesday 2nd April 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Greenock.

 

DEVONSHIRE sailed at 0300 for Rosyth via Minches passing Pentland Firth 2300 and thence inside Mine Barrier.

 

GLASGOW arrived Rosyth 1415.

 

Aircraft for DEVONSHIRE and YORK ordered from Hatston to Donibristle.

 

BERWICK, passing through Pentland Firth at 2100 during an air raid on Scapa, engaged an enemy aircraft with short range weapons without success.

 

YORK arrived Rosyth

 

Wednesday 3rd April 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron, in DEVONSHIRE, on passage to Rosyth.

 

DEVONSHIRE and BERWICK arrived Rosyth 1030. DEVONSHIRE alongside.

 

WARSPITE sailed Scapa for Mediterranean 1930.

 

AFRIDI, GURKHA, SIKH, ZULU, COSSACK, KASHMIR, and KELVIN to join Force “S” under Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron for Plan R 4. MOHAWK to join later.

 

NORFOLK to pay off on 25th April, retaining 14 officers and 176 ratings to be borne on books of SPARTIATE. (Canceled by Admiralty Message 1943/12th April 1940 – to remain in commission.

 

Stores for STRATFORD have arrived Rosyth.

 

G.S.O. (M) Scottish Command interview the Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron.

 

Thursday 4th April 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Rosyth.

 

Flag of Admiral Sir E. Evans hoisted in AURORA at Greenock.

 

Night leave to 50% of destroyers of Force “S”

 

Friday 5th April 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Rosyth Dockyard.

 

(1021 to Admiralty) – Requested lower deck scuttles of SUSSEX be blanked off.

 

Operation WILFRED will take place on Monday, 8th April.

 

Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron in RENOWN to support Force W.V. (Commander in Chief’s 1229 5th April).

 

Leave to 50% of destroyers and cruisers of Force “S”

 

Cruisers and destroyers berthed alongside dockyard.

 

Saturday 6th April 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Rosyth.

 

0810, Orders for STRATFORD (Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron’s and Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s) issued to Force “S”.

 

Ordered all leave and communication with shore to cease.

 

Commenced loading stores 1100, completed p.m.

 

1700. Meeting of all Commanding Officers of Force “S”, plan of action gone through.

 

Sunday 7th April 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Rosyth.

 

“Instructions to Force Commanders” received from Admiralty and distributed to all Commanding Officers of Force “S”.

 

Troops arrived, but about 1 ½ hours late on schedule owing to railway breakdown. Embarkation completed by 1830; in good time according to plan.

 

Personal gear of troops greatly exceeded weights catered for and surplus, bicycles, band instruments, office furniture, etc. was landed in Dockyard.

 

Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, in RODNEY, REPULSE, VALIANT, SHEFFIELD, PENELOPE, and EMILE BERTIN sailed 2030 to reach position 61 degrees North, 001 degrees East at 0700 on 8th April.

 

Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1607. Vice Admiral Commanding Second Cruiser Squadron, to pass May Island at 2359 7th April with Force “R” and SOMALI, MATABELE, MASHONA, and TARTAR.

 

Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1946 to the Vice Admiral Commanding Second Cruiser Squadron, weep to northwards reaching J.S.T.S. 3050.

 

1700. Meeting of Commanding Officers of Force “S”. Brigadier Morgan attended.

 

Admiralty’s 1259 received about 1800. Hitler reported to have ordered occupation of Narvik and Jutland – date of arrived at Narvik 8th April – Report Doubtful.

 

Enemy forces – 1 SCHARNHORST, 1 Pocket Battleship, 3 LEIPZIG cruisers reported at sea.

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron visited Donibristle (2400) to get latest information of enemy situation.

 

Monday 8th April 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Rosyth.

 

Operation WILFRED reported completed at 0529.

 

A.M. 1100 received 1115. It seems possible that the report the Admiralty Message 1259, 7th April, that German forces may be on their way to Narvik is true.

 

Enemy reports continued to be received during the forenoon and it was evident that they were at sea in considerable strength. Warned cruisers of Force “S” to be prepared to disembark troops.

 

Verbal orders from Commander in Chief, Rosyth, (later confirmed by Admiralty message 1216/8th April) to disembark troops were received about 1130. The disembarkation of the troops and stores was completed and the Squadron sailed at 1415 to company. In accordance with Admiral message 1230, 8th April, rendezvous with EMIL BERTIN and six French destroyers was arranged for 2100 in Latitude 57-52 degrees North, Longitude 01-57 degrees West. French Squadron, consisting of EMILE BERTIN and two destroyers only, joined at this time and in compliance with Admiral message 1842, 8th April, to sweep to the Northward keeping west of a line 001-50 degrees East, First Cruiser Squadron and GLASGOW were spread five miles apart in the order, from East to West, of DEVONSHIRE, GLASGOW, BERWICK, and YORK on a course 020 degrees altering to 360 degrees at 24 knots. (n.b. hand corrected 0500). The French Squadron kept in close company to DEVONSHIRE owing to the difficulty of communicating with them arising from the non supply to DEVONSHIRE of the Inter Allied Tactical Signalling Instructions.

 

FURIOUS ordered to embark aircraft and proceed northwards towards Shetlands.

 

Position of Vice Admiral Commanding Second Cruiser Squadron and Vice Admiral Commanding Eighteenth Cruiser Squadron, received about 1800.

 

Admiralty message 1842, 8th April, received at 2012 giving objectives of Fleet.

 

Admiralty Message 2018, 8th April instructs Vice Admiral Commanding Eighteenth Cruiser Squadron to patrol 062-10 degrees North between 001-50 degrees East and 002-35 degrees East.

 

Admiralty Message 1850. Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron to concentrate on preventing any German Forces reaching Narvik.

 

Northern Patrol withdrawn.

 

WARSPITE recalled to rejoin Home Fleet.

 

Tuesday 9th April 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

At 0045, 9th April, deciphered version of Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 2252, 8th April ordering the First Cruiser Squadron, Second Cruiser Squadron, and the French Squadron to sweep in pairs to the Northward from certain positions, was received. It so happened that the pairing of ships and the positions assigned to them would have necessitated every ship crossing one or more of her consorts while proceeding to her new position and in the prevailing visibility I considered it necessary to concentrate the squadron before re spreading.

 

Before this had been effected Admiralty message 0210, 9th April, was receiving, ordering a concentration on GLASGOW at 0500. As by now time did not permit of GLASGOW reaching the concentration point at the time ordered I steered with my force for GLASGOW’s 0700 position and joined the Vice Admiral Commanding Second Cruiser Squadron at that time. The whole force then proceeded to the Northward under the orders of the Vice Admiral Commanding, Second Cruiser Squadron, meeting the Commander in Chief shortly, after 0930, 9th April, having been under the observation of enemy shadowing aircraft since about 0900.

 

The Vice Admiral Commanding Eighteenth Cruiser Squadron, with a force of destroyers, was detached at 1130 to patrol off Bergen. The First Cruiser Squadron stationed on A.K. line, 8 miles astern of Battle Fleet, 5 miles apart in the order from east to west, of DEVONSHIRE, BERWICK, and YORK.

 

FURIOUS sailed Clyde for northward, 0100.

 

Report of invasion of Norway and Denmark received.

 

0300 RENOWN in action with a SCHARNHORST and HIPPER in position D.R.R.R. 2234.

 

Air attack on Fleet. First Cruiser Squadron attack continued intermittently from 1400 to 1800.

 

About 17 bombs were aimed at DEVONSHIRE from varying heights estimated as between 2000 and 12,000 feet and some 20 at BERWICK from similar distances. YORK was not bombed.

 

Several near misses were experienced by both ships but little damage was done apart from some minor leaks sustained in certain after compartments in BERWICK.

 

The high level bombing on DEVONSHIRE was particularly accurate.

 

One bomber, hit by anti aircraft fire, was seen by YORK to crash between DEVONSHIRE and BERWICK.

 

One reconnaissance plane was observed periodically at about 20,000 - 30,000 feet until about 1930.

 

GURKHA hit and sunk about 1855.

 

Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1901. At 2000, Battle Fleet will steer 270 degrees from B.Q.W.Y. 4027 – 16 knots speed of advance. Alter course at 0500 to 115 degrees, First Cruiser Squadron will spread 7 miles, 180 degrees.

 

Admiralty Message 1138, 9th April. Enemy force arrived Narvik.

 

Admiralty Message 0820. Commander in Chief to propose plan to attack German warships in Bergen, Trondjheim, and Narvik.

 

Wednesday 10th April 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron at sea in DEVONSHIRE in company with the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet.

 

FURIOUS, WARSPITE, and several destroyers joined the Commander in Chief about 0700, 10th April, and the Fleet stood to the northward from 61 degrees 13 degrees North, 1-08 degrees West, with the First Cruiser Squadron stationed on A.K. line, 8 miles ahead, in the sequence from East to West of BERWICK, DEVONSHIRE, and YORK, ships 5 miles apart.

(n.b. entry scratched out

 

“0300 RENOWN in action with a SCHARNHORST and HIPPER in position D.R.R.R. 2243”).

Skuas of the Fleet Air Arm from Hatston attacked Bergen.

 

Dawn attack on Narvik by the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla. HUNTER sunk, HARDY aground. Captain of 2nd Destroyer Flotilla killed. HOTSPUR damaged.

 

Projected attack on cruisers at Trondjheim by FURIOUS, and later, on Narvik.

 

Thursday 11th April 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron, in DEVONSHIRE, at sea in company with Commander in Chief, Home Fleet.

 

SUSSEX ready to sail from Clyde.

 

Admiralty message 1607, 11th April. Possible enemy rendezvous 067 degrees North between 004-34 degrees East and 006 degrees about 2000 11/12th April.

 

Battle Cruisers ordered to carry out patrol in this area.

 

Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 0546, 11th April. Vice Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron, to sweep North from Aalesund, destroyers working Indrelea, Cruisers providing cover from seaward.

 

Air attack on Trondjheim, First Cruiser Squadron being detached to cover FURIOUS from the Northward and Battle Fleet from Southward while flying off and on.

 

Orders to sink all German merchant ships in Norwegian waters.

 

PENELOPE aground off Fleidvaer, refloated and towed to Vestfjord by ESKIMO.

 

At 0900, FURIOUS having recovered her aircraft, the Fleet stood to the Northward with the First Cruiser Squadron on A.K. line 8 miles to the North in sequence from East to West of YORK, DEVONSHIRE, BERWICK, course being altered to south at 1045 and to north again at 1136 at which time a very heavy underwater explosion, apparently to the North Westward, was felt by DEVONSHIRE and BERWICK and slightly by YORK. DEVONSHIRE’s position at this time was 64-19 degrees North, 7-50 degrees East in a chartered depth of about 150 fathoms.

 

Battle fleet attacked by bombers 1540 to 1700. Position 64-48 degrees North, 7-32 degrees East. ECLIPSE hit. Taken in tow by YORK later.

 

1500. Parted company in position 64-34 degrees North, 7-31 degrees East in accordance with the instructions contained in Commander in Chief’ 1458, 11th April. BERWICK in company, INGLEFIELD, IMOGEN, ISIS, and ILEX being placed under my orders. YORK being kept in company with the Commander in Chief.

 

ISIS and ILEX, then detached, were ordered by W/T to search Nansen Fjiord, paying particular attention to Namsos and to rejoin me at 064-38 degrees North, 010-10 degrees East at 2100. They reported Nansen Fjiord and Namsos clear of shipping.

 

INGLEFIELD and IMOGEN were ordered by V/S to search as much of Indreleia to Southward as possible before dark, entering and leaving at Bhulmraasa, Lat. 64-26 degrees N, Long. 10-36 degrees East rejoining me at 2100 at the same rendezvous as other destroyers. They searched as far South as 64 degrees N, and saw nothing in the Inner Lead, nor Sves Skjervoer, Branda, Brands, Berfjorm, and Skjora Fjords.

 

Friday 12th April 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron, in DEVONSHIRE, at sea.

 

Stood to the North westward until 0100, 12th April, and then closed the land and at 0505 ISIS (Senior Officer) and IMOGEN were detached off Kya Light, 64-28 degrees N. 10-13 degrees East with orders to endeavour to get pilots at Rovik, 64-52 degrees North, 11-15 degrees East and to examine Indrelea as far as Aasver Fjord, 66-27 degrees North, 12-18 degrees East where they were to regain open waters. Meanwhile, with the Cruisers and remaining destroyers, I worked to Northward and at 1500 reached the Meridian 11-30 degrees East, on which I had ordered ISIS to rejoin me between 1500 and 1700, between Latitude 66-20 degrees North and 66-40 degrees North.

 

On rejoining at about 1530, ISIS reported no German ships nor troops between Nansen Fjord and Aasvaer Fjord, that the Harbour Master at Dronno reported Vefsen and Leirfjord clear of Germans and that Norwegian troops were in Masjoen. The ships were cheered on passing by Norwegians ashore and afloat.

 

The Norwegian Gun Boat NORDCAP was sighted and spoken by ISIS in Aluangen, 66-03 degrees North, 12-35 degrees East, and informed her that Norwegians had sunk a German tanker, name unknown.

 

I then proceeded with my force towards the reported enemy rendezvous, reported in Admiralty message 1607, 11th April, and at 2030 sighted a brilliantly lighted vessel which, on closing, proved to be the Italian VOLTA. On being boarded by BERWICK she stated that she was bound from the Faroes to Narvik with dried fish, such a strange cargo that I ordered her detention and sent her into Kirkwall as she had insufficient coal to reach the Clyde. It subsequently transpired that she had ample coal and the ship was accordingly taken to Greenock.

 

SUSSEX embarks 250 Marines for Faroes.

 

Admiralty message 1211. Indications that Mediterranean situation viz a viz Italy is deteriorating.

 

Anti aircraft cruiser joins YORK – towing ECLIPSE.

 

Armed Merchant Cruisers again sailing for patrol. Northern Patrol re-established.

 

Flag of Admiral of the Fleet Lord Cork hoisted in AURORA. Sailed Rosyth.

 

General Mackesey sailed in SOUTHAMPTON for Narvik.

 

PENELOPE anchored in Vestfjord (Skjel Fjord).

 

Force “B” (Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron, in WARSPITE), destroyers, FURIOUS, and PENELOPE carried out Operation D.W. 12th April. Object – destruction of enemy warships in the Narvik area (Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1918 of 12th April.

 

BERWICK speed reduced to 26 knots owing to excessive vibration in Port Inner H.P. Turbine.

 

HEARTY arrived Thorshaven

 

SUFFOLK sailed for Faroes

 

GUARDIAN to Faroes.

 

SUFFOLK to proceed to Vestfjord to relieve Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron on completion of Faroes operation.

 

Saturday 13th April 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron, at sea, in DEVONSHIRE.

 

Rejoined the Commander in Chief at 0930, 13th April. Shortly afterwards, in accordance with the Commander in Chief’s instructions, destroyers were detached to Skjelfjord to oil from BRITISH LADY. Remained in company with the Commander in Chief until detached to investigate the situation at Tromso (Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1717, 13th April).

 

Sunday 14th April 1940

 

Captain D 3 in INGLEFIELD with ISIS, ILEX, and IMOGEN joined me in 69-30 degrees North, 16-05 degrees East at 0700 and I detached BERWICK with INGLEFIELD and IMOGEN to investigate Andfjord Vassaforden and adjacent inlets, particularly Grantanbotn, and proceeded with ISIS and ILEX (who were later sent on ahead of me to examine Ringvassoy and Kvaloy Fjords where D/F bearings have placed what might have been an enemy merchant ships but proved to be a Norwegian seaplane) to Tromso, arriving at 1500. (n.b. pen and ink addition, “Established S/M patrol by ISIS and ILEX in the North and south entrance to Tromso Fjord.)

 

The British Vice Consul, Lieutenant Commander Cummings, DSC, RN (ret), the Senior Naval Officer, Kapitan Bredsdorff, the Senior Naval Air Officer, the Harbour Master, and the Chief Operator of Tromso W/T, who had been summoned though the agency of the above mentioned seaplane, called on me and informed me of the local situation. I ascertained there was a considerable quantity of oil fuel in the district, an oil barge, and that vessels of the British Tanker Company had been able to discharge alongside the jetty at the tank farm., that the wireless station at Tromso had already been bombed and was without defence as was the tank farm, further that some 200 Naval mines were stowed in close proximity to the oil tanks. In response to my enquiry I was informed that the local authorities were quite confident of being able to beat off any attack which may be made on Tromso Island by small parties of German troops operating from captured fishing boats. On return to Tromso on 15th April I landed two machine guns manned by Marines as a temporary protection for the oil farm. I arranged that the Norwegian Coastal wireless station should broadcast enemy reports in plain language, using the call sign of any British warship (G.B.X.Z.) on 366 Kc/s wave.

 

General Fleischer, the Norwegian G.O.C. of the district arrived shortly afterwards by seaplane from Salangen. The General gave me a brief resume of the Military situation as a result of which I asked him to send his Chief of Staff the next day, by plane, to, interview the Flag Officer AURORA. This visit unfortunately proved abortive owing to the absence of the Flag Officer, Narvik, From Sjeld Fjord.

 

I raised the question of the transport of three battalions from Kirkenes and the General informed me that he wished two only to be transferred to the Tromso area, but was unwilling to have Kirkenes area completely undefended. He seemed doubtful of Russian intentions.

 

As far at the Naval situation was concerned the Senior Naval Officer informed me that only one Norwegian warship, the FRIDHOFF NANSEN, was in this area, but with the exception of some captured Norwegian fishing boats armed with a machine gun and manned by Germans, reported in some cases to be in Norwegian uniform, the situation was quiet. I informed the Senior Naval Officer that FURIOUS would arrive the next day. The Senior Naval Officer was confident that the munition ship reported at Kirkenes was Finnish, that her cargo belong to the Finnish Government and that she had already gone to Petsamo.

 

I sailed from Tromso, ISIS and ILEX in company, at 2100 for Kirkenes to complete with the Commander in Chief’s 1716, 14th April. Ordered BERWICK to join me 10 miles North of Nordkap at 0700 on 15th April.

 

Monday 15th April

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron, in DEVONSHIRE, at sea.

 

0100. Detached ISIS and ILEX off Aroy (70-15 degrees N, 20-28 degrees E) to rendezvous with FURIOUS.

 

0700. BERWICK and INGLEFIELD joined DEVONSHIRE in position 10 miles North of Norkap.

 

On arrival at Kirkenes at 1600, 15th April, each Cruiser was ready to embark one battalion but on being boarded by the Major in charge of troops and the Harbour Master, I learned the former had orders to send only one battalion and that this was already embarked and ready to sail in DRONNING MAUD and KONG HAAKON while its mechanical transport had already sailed in a 9 knot steamer escorted by an armed trawler which were passed in the entrance wo the Fjiord on the way in.

 

Shortly after my arrival, Kapitan Rynning of the Royal Norwegian Navy arrived by seaplane and placed himself at my disposal as Liaison Officer and an excellent one he proved. He brought with him an almost complete set of Norwegian charts of the district for which I had asked.

 

At about 1800 a signal was received from Kirkenes Coastal Wireless Station reporting presence of two warships off Petsamo (this was in plane language in accordance with the arrangements come to at Tromso on the 14th April). I sent INGLEFIELD to sea immediately and at 2056 received the report that he was in touch with two destroyers, which proved to the Russian Ships of the SHTROM class. In following up these ships INGLEFIELD came under ineffective fire from Russian Batteries.

 

The transports sailed at about 1800 and BERWICK and INGLEFIELD were detailed to cover KONG HAAKON and the M.T. Ship. The DRONNING MAUD was due to call at Varda to embark details and I therefore sailed at 2000 with a view to covering DRONNING MAUD to Tromso.

 

INGLEFIELD when rejoining BERWICK encountered a Russian submarine of the SH – CH class of Varda. She was on the surface and flying her colours.

 

                                                            (sgd) J.H.D. Cunningham

 

                                                            16/4

 


 

WAR DIARY OF VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING FIRST CRUISER SQUADRON

16th April - 30th April 1940

 

Tuesday 16th April 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE, at sea.

 

After DRONNING MAUD entered the inner lead I proceeded in DEVONSHIRE to Tromso, arriving at 1645, where I found FURIOUS, who had established an Anti Submarine Destroyer Patrol in the Northern and Southern Approaches to the anchorage.

 

The Norwegian transports arrived during the night and BERWICK and INGLEFIELD at 0730, 17th April.

 

In accordance with instructions I had left before sailing, FURIOUS was embarking oil fuel from what was reputed to be an 800 tons lighter; the rate of embarkation was under 7 tons an hour. Endeavours were made to increase this rate and eventually it was found necessary to purchase locally an addition pump by which it was hoped that the rate of discharge would be materially increased. FURIOUS embarked approximately 700 tons of oil fuel, being her up to 40% of her total capacity by 2200. On that day, the destroyers also completed with oil fuel from the tank installation. Fuelling rate was slow (about 50 tons per hour) owing to the small diameter of the pipe which it was possible to fit by means of an improvised adaptor, which was manufactured in DEVONSHIRE, but nevertheless, all destroyers were completed to full stowage by a.m. 18th April.

 

Wednesday 17th April 1940

 

Learning from Norwegian authorities that the 2nd Battalion from Kirkenes would be ready to sail p.m. on 18th April, I despatched IMOGEN at 2200 on 17th April to act as escort to Tromso. The convoy arrived at Tromso at 2130 on 19th April.

 

Operation “DUCK”, bombardment of Stavanger Aerodrome carried out by SUFFOLK, a.m.

 

SUFFOLK attacked by aircraft. 33 attacks, 82 bombs, one hit in the after engine room. (Approximately 1050).

Killed                One Sub Lieutenant (E), RNVR, 29 ratings and other ranks

 

Injured               One Lieutenant , R.M.,   One Warrant Engineer,   One Paymaster Cadet,   38 ratings and other ranks

 

(n.b. LT J.K. Gardiner, RM, Acting Warrant Engineer A.L.C. Walters, Paymaster Cadet M. Hay, Boy Bugler R.L. Anchor, Marine J.M. Archibald, Corporal F.C. Bevan, Cook Richard Crayton, Stoker Alexander Cunningham, Stoker James Dobie, Marine G.E. Dormer, Boy 1c Raymond Farnish, Ordinary Seaman Gordon Forbes, Able Seaman J.G. Funnel, Boy 1c Frederick Gaynor, Marine N. Goldsmith, Engine Room Artificer Maurice Grant, Stoker Petty Officer Samuel Hazley, Sergeant J.C.F. Higgs, Marine L.G. Hood, Musician H.C. Kemp, Stoker 1c David Milledge, Boy Telegraphist Joseph Morgan, Acting Steward F.A.L. Parlett, Stoker 2c Joseph Pickering, Boy 1c Charles Playford, Leading Stoker A.C. Poulter, Ordinary Telegraphist Sidney Pryke, Marine R.J. Skeggs, Chief Stoker Walter Spreadbury, Boy 1c L.F. Stedman, Marine H. Stirk, Corporal H.W. Tindell, Marine G. Tolley, Able Seaman R.J. Tucker, Stoker A.J.C. Walker, Marine H.J. Wells, were listed as wounded in the Casualty Pack).(War Cabinet Weekly Resume No. 34 stated 32 wounded)

SUFFOLK escorted by RENOWN and REPULSE for Scapa.

 

Thursday 18th April 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron, in DEVONSHIRE, at Tromso.

 

On 18th April, FURIOUS proceed at 1200 escorted by two destroyers to fly off aircraft for reconnaissance purposes in the Narvik area and at 1530 while operating in the Grotsundet Fiord, she was subject to a high bombing attack by a German Heinkel Aircraft and as a result of a near miss her Port Inner H.P. Turbing developed a defect the result of which was to reduce her maximum speed to 26 knots. This was reported in my 2347, 18th April. This was reported in my 2347, 18th April. Various reports of aircraft were received during the day and at about 1900 a Fokker Wulf (Condor) aircraft was sighted from the anchorage. She was engaged at long range by DEVONSHIRE and BERWICK without success. It subsequently machine gunned the wireless station and bombed the power station at Kvalsundet, 69-50 degrees North, 19 degrees East. At about 1900 a requisitioned Norwegian fishing vessel came alongside and reported that a British aircraft had crashed through flying into the cable crossing the Kualsundet near the power station. I send a part in the Norwegian vessel to assist and also directed INGLEFIELD who was the North Anti Submarine Patrol Vessel to investigate. The crashed machine proved to be Swordfish No. U 4 K from FURIOUS and it was found that the pilot had been killed, and the observed badly injured. While the injured man was being got on board INGLEFIELD, the German attack on the power station, mentioned above, was observed, approximately five bombs were dropped and apparently a fire started. The injured man was brought back to Tromso by INGLEFIELD and sent to hospital.

 

At 2400 the British Consul came on board accompanied by the harbour Master to represent the view of the Norwegian Authorities that some protection should be provided for the power station, which was one of the two upon which Tromso, including the wireless station, depended on for their light and power. He pointed out that the one at (n.b. deleted in Diary) had been provided with a machine gun manned by Norwegian Army personnel, but this other one was quite unprotected. As the destruction of this power station would entail the stoppage of all ship repair work at Tromso, as well as putting the wireless station out of action and the town in darkness, I promised that one of the two machine guns, which I had already sent to protect the oil fuel tanks, would be sent to the power station, as since seeing the position of the oil fuel tanks myself I considered that they would extremely difficult to attack from the air and that one double Lewis Gun would be as great a deterrent as two.

 

On the afternoon of the 18th April I called on the Governor (Flykesmann) of Tromso. He explained to me at length that he intended to accept all responsibility except Military, on behalf of the Government for the Provinces of Finmark, Tromso, and Nordland. The Governor of Finmark had already agreed to this and he hoped the Governor of Nordland would also come into line. This would give him control from the Finnish border to South of Bodo. He asked that all matters of policy in this area be referred to him. Supplies of food, he stated, were short in all provinces and he would be grateful if we did not purchase or call on local supplies. Supplies of petrol, paraffin, and coal were at present adequate for local requirements.

 

At about 2200 the Oiler WAR PINDARI, escorted by FORTUNE arrived and immediately went alongside BERWICK, who in view of the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1732, 18th, directing me to return to Scapa, I had instructed to embark only 400 tons of oil fuel.

 

Friday 19th April 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron, in DEVONSHIRE, at Tromso.

 

At about 0130 the Oiler proceeded to FURIOUS who reported that she hoped to embark fuel at the rate of 290 tons an hour and to be completed by 0830 the next morning.

 

I had previously arranged with the Liaison Officer for the re embarkation of DEVONSHIRE’s and BERWICK’s Marine detachments from the oil fuel tanks farm and for their replacement by a detachment from FURIOUS, but on receipt of Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 0050 at about 0300 it was found impossible to get them off in time and I therefore decided to leave them behind and to wait only until I could re embark DEVONSHIRE’s Walrus aircraft which had been landed at the Norwegian Seaplane Station for fitting of BERWICK’s spare main planes in replacement of those damaged by bomb splinters and black during the air attack on 9th April.

 

The aircraft and spare gear were re embarked and I sailed with BERWICK and INGLEFIELD at 0800 and proceeded at 26 knots, which was BERWICK’s maximum speed, heavy snow storms and poor visibility being encountered during the passage down the Fjord. As enemy aircraft had been reported in the vicinity and I anticipated the possibility of heavy attack as a result of the reconnaissance made by the Fokker Wulf the night before. I directed FURIOUS to continue oiling while the visibility remained bad but in any case to case in time to enable her to proceed to sea by 1030. At 0800 FURIOUS was 67% complete with oil and it was anticipated that she would be between 80 and 85% complete by the time she sailed. I instructed the Commanding Officer FORTUNE to direct WAR PINDARI to proceed alongside the pier at the oil fuel tanks and to embark 4000 tons of fuel and then proceed to Skjelfjord by the inner lead, as directed by the Flag Officer, Narvik. In detailing that she should embark 4000 tons from Tromso installation rather than the quantity required to bring her cargo up to 4000 tons as I had originally intended I was influenced by the fact that WARSPITE had been ordered to return to the Narvik Area and was, I was aware, short of fuel, I considered that the delay in getting WAR PINDARI away from Tromso was more than outweighed by the desirability of making available as much oil as possible in the Vestfjord area. I was unaware of the time it would take WAR PINDARI to embark this 4000 tons of fuel, but I considered it possible that as she was equipped with the normal commercial appliances she should be able to do it at the rate of 250 tons per hour by use of her pumps and therefore that she would be able to sail at early daylight the next morning, and I arranged local pilots to be available for her.

 

Saturday 20th April 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

On receipt of Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1728/19th April, speed of advance was reduced to 20 knots and at 0511 WARSPITE, escorted by four destroyers, was passed in Latitude 66-28 degrees N, 6-37 degrees E steering Northeastwards. At noon convoy N.M.S. 1, escorted by two destroyers and several trawlers, was passed in Latitude 64-44 degrees North, Longitude 2-54 degrees East, steering northeastward.

 

Sunday 21st April 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron, in DEVONSHIRE, at Scapa.

 

DEVONSHIRE, BERWICK, and INGLEFIELD arrived Scapa at 1000.

 

Flag of Rear Admiral Clarke hoisted in SHEFFIELD

 

Represented to Admiralty the advisability of continuing broadcasting of meteorological data from Tromso (0942/21).

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron visited Commander in Chief, Home Fleet 1100.

 

(Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 2344/20th April, received 21st April). Ships of First and Eighteenth Cruiser Squadrons are to take the first opportunity to embark their full complement of aircraft – I pointed out to the Commander in Chief, during my visit, the effect of having to fire in Anti Aircraft Defence which almost invariably rendered the aircraft unfit for service.

 

Monday 22nd April 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Scapa.

 

Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 0045/22nd April, 1940 YORK to proceed to Rosyth to embark anti aircraft battery for Namsos covering RUTLAND on the way.

 

(Commander in Chief’s 1032/22nd April) YORK now required for other duty – to embark troops for Romsdals Fjord to arrive Rosyth, 22nd April (Admiralty Message 2043/22nd April). To embark 620 men and 60 tons of stores. YORK sailed p.m..

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron’s 0920 to Admiralty – Request priority may be given to blanking scuttles in SUSSEX.

 

(Commander in Chief’s 2226). BERWICK is to sail with the Vice Admiral Aircraft Carriers in ARK ROYAL for Operation D/X – air protection of MAURICE and SICKLE forces by carrier borne aircraft – sailed 1200.

 

Visited SUFFOLK to inspect damage. SUFFOLK beached at Longhope. Damage very similar to that experienced in NORFOLK as result of bomb.

 

Admiralty message 1627/22nd April. Only urgent defects to be taken in hand, no Alterations and additions, maximum number of ships to be available this summer.

 

Tuesday 23rd April 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Scapa.

 

Wednesday 24th April 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Scapa.

 

Thursday 25th April 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Scapa.

 

From Flag Officer, Glasgow: “In view of Admiralty message 1622/22nd April, amended date of completion of NORFOLK” – 14th June.

 

YORK sailed from Rosyth for Aandalsnes

 

Friday 26th April 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Scapa.

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron, to First Cruiser Squadron:

“Item blanking off scuttles is to be classified A.A.”

Admiralty message 1742/25th April:

“Small ship’s cypher, naval cypher, and Administrative code may be comprised. Restrict use.”

Saturday 27th April 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Scapa.

 

0500. YORK arrived from Aandalsnes with prisoners and casualties.

 

Sunday 28th April 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Scapa.

 

Admiralty message 0339 of 21st April. Evacuation of Namsos and Aandalsnes areas.

 

0950. Interview with Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, and Contre Amiral Derrien. Ordered to carry out Namsos operation, 1st and 2nd May. Forces available:

 

            DEVONSHIRE

 

            YORK

 

            MONTCALM (n.b. Contre Amiral Derrien)

 

            CARLISLE (Vice Admiral Commanding, 20th Cruiser Squadron)

 

            Three French transports, EL D’JEZAIR, EL KANTARA, and EL MANSOUR

 

            Eight destroyers, including Captain (D) Fourth and Fifth Destroyer Flotillas.

 

Exchanged visits with Contre Amiral Cadart.

 

Monday 29th April 1940

 

P.M. Meeting of all available Commanding Officers of my forces. Issued Operation Order 1st C.S. 003.

 

Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1817/29th April. Operation ZEAL. VALIANT to bombard forts as a diversion to assist evacuation.

 

Ordered YORK, DEVONSHIRE, and AFRIDI to destroy all record of STRATFORD.

 

Rear Admiral Lyster appointed Rear Admiral Narvik/

 

2000. Sailed my force for Operation KLAXON I and II

 

Admiralty message 2213/29th April. Tromso W/T to broadcast intelligence reports and meteorological information daily.

 

Tuesday 30th April 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE and force for Operation KLAXON I and II at sea, proceeding towards Namsos.

 

1950 in latitude 63-09 degrees N, longitude 00-48 degrees E sighed and spoke ARK ROYAL (Vice Admiral Aircraft Carriers), VALIANT, and BERWICK , in company.

 

NOTE

 

Full report of Operation KLAXON I and II is contained in 1st C.S. 89/W.9/1 of 10th May, and only matters outside this operation will be included in my diary 1st to 4th May. (n.b. not in file)

 

                                                            (sgd) J.H.D. Cunningham

 

                                                            17/5


 

WAR DIARY OF THE VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING FIRST CRUISER SQUADRON

1st May - 15th May 1940

 

Wednesday 1st May 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at sea with force for Operation KLAXON I and II.

 

NOTE. Full report of this operation is given in 1st C.S. 89/W.9/1 of 10th May 1940

 

At 1304 Force was attacked by two aircraft (Dornier XVII). No casualties.

 

Encountered for about 1800 and had to abandon all though of entering Namsos Fjord that night.

 

Formed intention of attempting to carry out complete operation on the following night and informed all authorities.

 

NUBIAN shot down one of ARK ROYAL’s Skuas in fog. Crew saved.

 

Thursday 2nd May 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at sea with force for Operation KLAXON.

 

0315. Joined by Vice Admiral Commanding 20th Cruiser Squadron in CARLISLE

 

Shadowed by aircraft from 0430 until about 0930.

 

1107. Destroyers under Captain (D), Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, bombed in fog. Near miss caused 23 casualties in MAORI.

 

In fog 1030 to 1300.

 

Detached CARLISLE at 1346 to Namsos.

 

Fog 1730 to 1830 when ran out of fog and steered to Kya Light.

 

Sent Transports, Captains (D), Fourth and Fifth Destroyer Flotillas, and YORK into Namsos and remained outside Namsen Fjord on patrol, until their return.

 

Friday 3rd May 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron, in DEVONSHIRE at sea with force for Operation KLAXON.

 

0220 to 0345. Transport and YORK cleared Namsen Fiord after having embarked all troops.

 

Force left for Scapa at best speed in general formation of

 

YORK and one transport well ahead.

 

MONTCALM and second transport

 

DEVONSHIRE, CARLISLE, and third transport.

 

YORK and her convoy, which was the first to leave, were not seen again and proceeded without incident. At 0440 a shadowing aircraft was sighted and from 0847 till late afternoon intermittent bombing attacks were carried out on remainder. Estimated 63 machines employed. Junkers 87 and 88 types.

 

BISON was hit and sunk at about 1200 and AFRIDI hit and sunk about 1445.

 

SOUTHAMPTON joined me at 1655 and at 1657 the Sunderland flying boat, which had been expected since 1340, arrived.

 

Shadowed by German aircraft until 2000.

 

Passed convoy F.P. 3 at 2230 steering to Northward.

 

Saturday 4th May 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE with force for Operation KLAXON, proceeding to Scapa.

 

Escort of Hudson Aircraft or Blenheim intermittently during the day.

 

Relief destroyer escort joined at 1100 and IMPERIAL, GRENADE, and GRIFFIN, who had wounded and survivors from BISON and AFRIDI, were detached to Sullom Voe to transfer wounded to French hospital ship SPHINX.

 

YORK and her convoy arrived Scapa p.m.

 

Sunday 5th May 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE en route to Scapa.

 

0500. Convoy arrived Scapa.

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron reported to Commander in Chief, Home Fleet.

 

Monday 6th May 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Scapa.

 

BERWICK ordered to Clyde for Operation FORK, to transport and establish a force of some 600 Royal Marines, under Colonel Sturges, in Iceland.

 

Tuesday 7th May 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Scapa.

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron visited the Commander in Chief and suggested obtaining control of potential air and seaplane bases in East Iceland.

 

BERWICK left Clyde for Reykjavik.

 

Admiralty message 1214, re possibility of Germans attacking Kirkenes via Murmansk, received – DEVONSHIRE to standby for the North.

 

SUFFOLK arrived Clyde for repairs.

 

Wednesday 8th May 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Scapa.

 

DEVONSHIRE sailed from Scapa at 1400 for North Norway (Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 0917/8th May)

 

Reported unknown aircraft at 1617 and 1626 – subsequently identified by Hatston as friendly.

 

Air escort (four Hurricanes) joined t 1630.

 

2138. Sighted and exchanged identities with SOMALI (Captain (D) Sixth Destroyer Flotilla) and ESCORT escorting CHROBRY in position 60-56 degrees N, 3-28 degrees W.

 

Thursday 9th May 1940

 

1349. Exchanged identities with JACKAL and JAVELIN escorting two ships of N.S. 2, S.S. MASHOBRA and CALUMET, in position 66-09 degrees N, 00-06 degrees E. META with WOLVERINE 100 miles astern. BALZAC and COXWOLD at Stornoway and Scapa.

 

Spoke Finnish PANDIA/OFBO from Antwerp to Petsamo at 1928 in position 67-27 degrees N, 2-19 degrees E steering 051 degrees, with general cargo. Allowed her to proceed because last port of call was the Downs, confirmed by Lloyds daily list and Flag Officer Commanding Northern Patrol’s 1154/24th April, and position and course confirmed that she had passed north of the Faroes.

 

2000. Received Flag Officer, Narvik’s 1229/9th May “Proceed to Tromso for latest information.” Passed 2002/9th May to Flag Officer, Narvik, reporting no escort.

 

Friday 10th May 1940

 

Flag Officer, Narvik’s 0635/9th May to Admiralty – “Rumours of German Marines in Murmansk”.

 

0028. Received Admiralty’s 2116/9th May to Flag Officer, Narvik, on the same subject.

 

0817/10th May to Flag Officer, Narvik, repeated Vice Admiral Aircraft Carriers giving route to Tromso.

 

Flag Officer, Narvik’s 1122/10th May detailed WESTCOTT and VOLUNTEER to rendezvous with DEVONSHIRE at 1800/10th May.

 

WESTCOTT’s 1510/10th May received requesting rendezvous whereupon a new rendezvous for 2045 was signaled as it was apparent from the destroyers time of arrival at Tromso that they could not rendezvous as ordered at 1800.

 

Walrus was flown off as anti submarine patrol at 1940.

 

WESTCOTT and VOLUNTEER joined at 2045.

 

After passing Norwegian war vessel HEIMDAL in fjord DEVONSHIRE anchored in Tromso at 2235. At anchor in harbour were British S.S. CARLBURY and CYCLOPS, with ex German ALSTER being unloaded alongside quay, the latter having some 70 German prisoners on board.

 

WESTCOTT was fuelled from DEVONSHIRE and relieved VOLUNTEER on anti submarine patrol off Kraknes (69-49 degrees N, 19-03 degrees E) on completion of oiling. VOLUNTEER, with Royal Marine Officer, provisions and mails, sent to oil tanks at Ramfordness (69-31-50 degrees N, 19-01-40 degrees E).

 

VOLUNTEER embarked Royal Marines landed by DEVONSHIRE and BERWICK, leaving two machine guns on its being ascertained that Norwegian personnel were available to man them. During the night CHARBURY and CYCLOPS sailed for Harstad by inner lead. Conference on board with Fylkesmann, British Consul, and Norwegian Senior Naval Officer on the situation at Kirkenes.

 

YORK sailed Scapa for Rosyth.

 

Holland and Belgium invaded.

 

Saturday 11th May 1940

 

Reported results of conference to Admiralty, repeated Flag Officer, Narvik (0301/11th May).

 

Approved VOLUNTEER taking in hand repairs to kidney piece of main bearing estimated to complete by noon and later by 1600 but eventually not completed until 2100 when she sailed.

 

Embarked Liaison Officer, Lieutenant Storheill.

 

At 0846 sighted and reported an aircraft which made no attempt to bomb and appeared to be a flying boat carrying out reconnaissance. DEVONSHIRE weighted and remained under way.

 

DEVONSHIRE left Tromso with WESTCOTT, proceeding via Soro Sund and Rolfsoy Sund, ordering VOLUNTEER to join “with all convenient despatch” on completion of repairs and giving our route.

 

HEIMDAL, investigating fishing craft, was again passed at 1330.

 

During the afternoon WESTCOTT reported a hole in Anti Submarine Dome which rendered her unable to operate Anti Submarine Gear except at very slow speeds.

 

At 1457 received Flag Officer, Narvik’s 2237/10th May to DEVONSHIRE ordering CHARLBURY and CYCLOPS to be sent to Harstad by inner lead.

 

Norwegian float plane, flying over Soro Sound, who identified herself correctly, was sighted about 1800.

 

Sunday 18th May 1940

 

DEVONSHIRE catapulted her aircraft at 1100 to examine Boks, Kjo, and Jar Fjords and to maintain anti submarine patrol off entrance until 1400.

 

DEVONSHIRE anchored in Kirkenes at 1215. WESTCOTT maintaining anti submarine patrol in Kors Fjord.

 

VOLUNTEER arrived at 1630 and relieved WESTCOTT on anti submarine patrol after disembarking Royal Marines.

 

Later ordered WESTCOTT to relieve VOLUNTEER on patrol and VOLUNTEER alongside DEVONSHIRE for repairs and oil.

 

Shortly after DEVONSHIRE’s arrival at Kirkenes I held a conference on board attended by Colonel Lieutenant Os; his Chief of Staff, Captain Martinse; Director Thorhildrud, A/S Syvarangers, Iron Ore Company; and the Harbour Master, Captain Norby; and discussed the East Finmark situation, afterwards visiting the defence positions with Colonel Os.

 

On return made preliminary report to Flag Officer, Narvik, on situation and requested further instructions (1827/12th May). I subsequently decided to withhold my amplifying report owing to W/T congestion and embodied it instead in a letter, 1st C.S. 086 of 12th May, to the Flag Officer, Narvik.

 

BERWICK arrived Liverpool to refit.

 

Monday 13th May 1940

 

After relief by VOLUNTEER on Anti Submarine Patrol WESTCOTT oiled from DEVONSHIRE and embarked Liaison Officer.

 

0900. DEVONSHIRE left Kirkenes with WESTCOTT and VOLUNTEER; I having previously furnished both ships with copies of report on Kirkenes for transmission to Flag Officer, Narvik, at first opportunity.

 

1030. DEVONSHIRE closed Vadso and Vado with the object of showing the flag, subsequently shaping course for Nord Cap.

 

Merchant ship on opposite course was sighted in position 70-34 degrees N, 30-39 degrees E and identified as Finnish PANDIA/OFBO, previously examined on 9th May.

 

1600. Reported position, course, and speed to Flag Officer, Narvik, and requested instructions (1600/13th May).

 

Commander in Chief’s 2249/13th May ordered WESTCOTT and VOLUNTEER to be sent to join Vice Admiral Aircraft Carriers’ screen. DEVONSHIRE continued on present course and speed to join Vice Admiral Aircraft Carriers in position signaled by Vice Admiral Aircraft Carriers for 1400/14th May in his 1913/13th May.

 

Tuesday 14th May 1940

 

Commander in Chief’s 0007/14th May directing DEVONSHIRE to remain in North for the present.

 

Admiralty’s 0059/14 directing Flag Officer, Narvik, to retain DEVONSHIRE and requesting the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, to give directions for destroyer screen, received at 0506/14th May.

 

At 0556 received the Vice Admiral Aircraft Carriers 0125/14th May giving rendezvous for 1400 in position 70-40 degrees N, 16 degrees E (same as in his 1913/13).

 

Reported to Flag Officer, Narvik, that his 1059/13th May, referred to in Admiralty’s 0059/14th May, had not been received (0750/14th May).

 

At 0759 reported intentions and fuel remaining to Flag Officer, Narvik, and Vice Admiral Aircraft Carriers (cleared at approximately 1100) Admiralty and Commander in Chief, Home Fleet.

 

DEVONSHIRE accordingly re embarked Liaison Officer from WESTCOTT at 1000.

 

Since entering extreme northern waters continued W/T difficulty had been experienced. I reported this at 1234/14th May and following are general remarks.

 

Experience confirms that Norwegian mountains near the ship, or at any point of reflection, may attenuate a H/F wave very severely. It is therefore necessary when communicating with the United Kingdom to use as high a frequency as possible to reduce the number of skips to a minimum. The choice of a wave is made more difficult by the widely different states of ionization in 52 degrees and 71 degrees N at this time of year.

 

The following are examples of conditions in the approximate latitude 71 degrees North.

 

(a). On a bearing from Whitehall of conditions in the approximate latitude 71 degrees North.

 

12,685 Kc/s R7 both ways in daytime, falling off slightly in the early afternoon.

 

(b). At Tromso

 

12,685 Kc/s no use by day

 

15,555 Kc/s not used successfully but B.B.C. received well on 15 Mc/s.

 

8290 Kc/s satisfactory by night.

 

(c). At Kirkenes

 

            12,685 Kc/S and 15,555 Kc/s no use.

 

            B.B.C. received well on 19 mc/s.

 

Malta R7 on 11,200 Kc/s. It was intended to try and communicate through GYZ if essential.

 

8290 kc/s satisfactory round about midnight.

 

At Kirkenes the use of a link appears essential. Nothing could be heard of ships in the Narvik area on 3700 Kc/s and direct day routines to Harstad were therefore proposed on 8290 kc/s, which it is believed would cover the distance (300 miles) in approximately one skip.

 

(d). L/F at Kirkenes

 

Rugby good strength at 16 kc/s.

 

51.5 kc/s readable but liable to be jambed by atmospherics, etc. and therefore messages were needed twice through.

 

138 kc/s only just audible and seldom readable.

 

At 1253 met ARK ROYAL with destroyer screen in position 70-53 degrees N, 15-47 degrees E steering a southerly course.

 

Detached WESTCOTT and VOLUNTEER to join the Vice Admiral Commanding Aircraft Carriers.

 

At 1335 CURLEW was identified to the Southward steering a Northerly course to effect a rendezvous with the Vice Admiral Commanding Aircraft Carriers.

 

Course was altered to 080 degrees at 1400 in order to carry out intentions signaled in my 0759/14th May, but at 1612 I received Flag Officer, Narvik’s 0920/14th May directing DEVONSHIRE to proceed to Tromso and keep in touch with the situation there.

 

Informed Flag Officer, Narvik, that I considered Anti Submarine Screen essential.

 

Wednesday 15th May 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE proceeding Tromso.

 

DEVONSHIRE flew off Walrus for Anti Submarine Patrol in Fjords and on passing Norwegian war vessel HEIMDAL asked her to patrol off Kraknes until arrival of anti submarine trawlers.

 

DEVONSHIRE arrived at Tromso at 0150 and started fuelling from lighter.

 

Norwegian hospital ship ARIADNE and German prize ALSTER in harbour.

 

ENTERPRISE arrived at noon and anti submarine trawlers ELLESMERE and ULLSWATER at 2300. One trawler was ordered to maintain anti submarine patrol, under way, to North of anchorage, the other to anchor one cable 030 degrees from Northern Buoy off Tromso breakwater maintaining anti submarine watch.

 


 

WAR DIARY OF THE VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING FIRST CRUISER SQUADRON

16th May – 31st May 1940

 

Thursday 16th May 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Tromso.

 

0600. Sighted one Blom and Voss which did not come close enough to be engaged.

 

At 0700 I sent DEVONSHIRE’s Walrus to Harstad with my Staff Officer (Operations) and despatches for Flag Officer, Narvik. Returned p.m.

 

1200. Three Heinkel III’s sighted, circled ships but did not attack, finally disappearing to the southwest. Possibly troop carriers? Reported same (2103/16th May).

 

During the forenoon I called on Kontreadmiral Diesen, the Norwegian Commander in Chief, and later Kapitan Heindrikson, Norwegian Senior Submarine Officer, came to see me.

 

I discussed the question of a possible German attack in East or West Finmark and agreed to establish Submarine Surface patrols.

 

(a). Between Longitude 25-48 degrees and 29-00 degrees E keeping south of latitude 71-15 degrees N to be carried out by H.M.S. TRUANT when she arrived.

 

(b). to the westward of a line joining the following points:

A. 70-23N                      B. 70-07N                      C. 70-00N

 

31-25E                          31-23E                          30-45E

And thence 180 degrees to Norwegian coast.

To be carried out by Norwegian submarine B 1 then at Tromso, B 3 in Harstad area, and possibly B 6 if she could be got back from England.

 

It was also arranged that a small submarine base should be established at Varda with Captain Hendrickson in charge and I asked Admiralty to send an ex submarine Captain as Liaison Officer.

 

DEVONSHIRE completed to 75% fuel.

 

Asked Admiralty to allocate call Sign to ALSTER (1501/16 May).

 

Received Admiralty Message 1546/16 May re delay in opening of White Sea Canal.

 

Informed Admiralty, Flag Officer Narvik, and the Commander in Chief Home Fleet of my proposals for Submarine Patrol off Finmark Coast (2242/16 May).

 

Flag of the Flag Officer Narvik to shore – Harstad.

 

Friday 17th May 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Tromso.

 

Prize ship ALSTER sailed for Kirkenes at 2000 to load iron ore escorted by ULLSWATER.

 

Received Admiralty’s 1726/17 May requesting information re Maalsnes Pier and routes to Bardufoss Aerodrome.

 

2332. Received report from shore authorities of submarine in position 69-32 degrees N, 18-13 degrees E approaching Rystramen. DEVONSHIRE flew off Walrus for search and patrol of adjacent fjords and sent motor boat to patrol to southward of anchorage with depth charges. No further substantiation.

 

EFFINGHAM grounded 1951 – total loss.

 

Mails for YORK ordered to Scapa.

 

Saturday 18th May 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Tromso.

 

ENTERPRISE ordered to arrive Harstad at 1600 and sailed accordingly.

 

Replied to Admiralty Message 1726/17 (0247/18).

 

One Heinkel III was sighted at 0049 reconnoitering Tromso until 0016 when was lost sight of but at 0140 report was received from shore that Heinkel was engaging DEVONSHIRE’s Walrus and some minutes later that Walrus appeared to have landed and that telephone station had been asked to send boat position 69-32 degrees N, 18-10 degrees E.

 

I requested Norwegian authorities to send Norwegian Heinkel to assist.

 

At 0512 Norwegian patrol vessel arrived in Tromso with Observer Midshipman Corkhill, slightly injured, and Telegraphist Air Gunner, Naval Airman 1st William Henry Hill, FAA/F 55056, who died of injuries shortly afterwards. Walrus had been shot down by Heinkel and sank. The pilot, Lieutenant R.W. Benson Dare, R.N. was not recovered.

 

Learned from shore authorities that Heinkel also sunk small Norwegian vessel SIRIUS.

 

I reported the loss of DEVONSHIRE’s Walrus to Flag Officer, Narvik, and asked for a replacement.

 

As DEVONSHIRE appeared to be likely to remain in Northern Waters for some time I asked the Flag Officer Commanding, Orkneys and Shetlands, to send mails to this area.

 

Informed by the Flag Officer, Narvik, (1118/18th May) that TRUANT had been diverted to Tromso.

 

At 1930 an air raid warning was given ashore but no aircraft sighted. H.M. Charge d’Affaires, Mr. Lascelles, and Rear Admiral Hector Boyes, Naval Attache, who had come to meet H.M. Minister due in ENTERPRISE, visited me and discussed the general situation in Norway.

 

A signal from the Naval Attache was passed to the Director of Naval Intelligence giving estimate of German air losses in Norway (2301).

 

At 2400 ENTERPRISE returned with Sir Cecil Dormer, British Minister to Norway, General Marion, visiting Norway on behalf of General Gamelin, Colonel Vigne, French Military Attache, Colonel Pollack, Liaison Officer to Norwegian Army, and Flight Lieutenant G. Aschan, British Assistant Air Attache to Sweden. The latter wished to proceed with despatch to Stockholm as early as possible and I arranged for him to be flown to Kirkenes the following day in a Norwegian seaplane and proceed thence via Finland. He forwarded a valuable report on the situation from Kirkenes to Colonel Pollack.

 

Sunday 19th May 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Tromso.

 

0915. The Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron called on the British Minister in ENTERPRISE before he landed.

 

Colonel Vigne and Colonel Pollack visited me and the whole strategic situation in the North was discussed. Both agreed with my opinion that a large scale invasion could not be countered with anything less than such an increase in our forces as could not be contemplated, but that two or three battalions disposed in self contained units in West and East Finmark in co operation with troops already in West Finmark should be adequate to ensure against successful attack by parachute landings.

 

Colonel Pollack reported on these lines to the British Headquarters, Narvik, at once, and Colonel Vigne promised to impress the matter on Colonel Otto Rugg, Norwegian Commander in Chief.

 

ALSTER informed me loading could not be completed until 22nd May and I accordingly approved of her staying at Kirkenes until that date to complete full stowage of 10,000 tons of iron ore.

 

Made arrangements with local authorities for camouflaging of Fuel Tanks ashore.

 

Monday 20th May 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Tromso.

 

Informed Flag Officer, Narvik, ALSTER expected to arrive at Harstad p.m. 24th May.

 

Rear Admiral, Narvik, allocated GLASGOW’s Walrus to DEVONSHIRE>

 

At 0430 and 0714 air raid warnings were given ashore – no aircraft sighted.

 

TRUANT arrived at 0800 and refuelled alongside DEVONSHIRE with local diesel oil which had been placed in a specially prepared tank. Unfortunately, this oil subsequently proved unsuitable for submarines.

 

1321. At the request of the Norwegian Commander in Chief I informed Rear Admiral, Narvik, that the Norwegian submarine B 3 awaited escort to Tromso.

 

At 1700 a Walrus arrived with despatches from the Flag Officer, Narvik.

 

Sailed TRUANT at 1800 to patrol between 25-48 degrees East and 29-00 degrees E to southward of Latitude 71-15 degrees North until 3rd June.

 

Tuesday 21st May 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Tromso.

 

I learnt from Navy Office that a British aircraft had crashed at Torakem and four of the crew were being sent to Harstad (probably carrier aircraft being flown ashore to Bardufoss).

 

Gave (n.b in ink.” by telephone message in NYKO”) a route to ALSTER intended to take her clear of TRUANT’s patrol and ordered her to report her expected time of arrival at Harstad before sailing (1229/21st).

 

At request of the British Vice Consul I asked Admiralty for confirmation that the Government accepted liability for ALSTER’s cargo.

 

At 1600 anti submarine THIRLMERE escorting the Norwegian submarine B 3, arrived to join my force and the replaced Walrus, ex GLASGOW, for DEVONSHIRE also arrived. The latter had taxied the last 12 miles owing to low clouds and magneto trouble. THIRLMERE brought a small mail, one officer, and six ratings for DEVONSHIRE.

 

Owing to faulty W/T reception a signal of 19th May from the Flag Officer, Narvik, asking that H.M. Minister might arrange for himself and General Auchinleck, the G.O.C., to see His Majesty the King of Norway on the 22nd or 23rd May, was unfortunately not received until late on this day.

 

Colonel Otto Rugg, Norwegian Commander in Chief, arrived in Tromso.

 

Norwegian gunboat NORDKAPP arrived at 1730.

 

Received Flag Officer, Narvik’s instructions for ENTERPRISE to proceed to England shortly and to embark some 19 tons of Norwegian Government gold then at Tromso.

 

Admiralty confirmed that ALSTER’s cargo was covered (1914/21).

 

Wednesday 22nd May 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Tromso.

 

Bullion was embarked in ENTERPRISE by 0400.

 

At this date stocks of oil fuel at Ramsfjordnes Depot, Tromso, were

 

No. 1 Tank        3210 tons

 

No. 2 Tank        590 tons

 

No. 3 Tank        735 tons

 

Flag Officer Narvik arrived by Walrus to see me at 1630 and returned to Harstad about 1900.

 

On receipt of message from H.M. Minister, I informed Flag Officer, Narvik that interview with His Majesty had been arranged from 1630 23rd May 1940.

 

ALSTER sailed from Kirkenes and reported expected time of arrival at Harstad as 1900 24th May.

 

A little difficulty was experienced this day with an unidentified Walrus Aircraft which landed at Tromso without warning, it later proved to have satisfactory identity but had taken off without challenge for the day. I was unaware that any Naval Aircraft or indeed any British personnel were at Banak when I was informed by Norwegian authorities this aircraft had come.

 

Thursday 23rd May 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Tromso.

 

Admiralty’s Message 0316/23 amending opening date of Baltic – White Sea Canal to 23rd May 1940 was received.

 

Asked Rear Admiral Narvik that ULLSWATER might collect mails and return to Tromso after arrival at Harstad with ALSTER.

 

At 1219 received TRUANT’s 1010 23rd May reporting large merchant ship probably escorted. I at once realised that despite my route, owing to the abnormal visibility (18 miles), TRUANT had probably sighted and might attack ALSTER of whose presence she was not aware. Every effort was made to acquaint TRUANT of the situation but without success before she made an unsuccessful attack at 1441.

 

This incident has been fully reported to Rear Admiral (S), the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, and the Flag Officer, Narvik, in my 1st C.S. w. 41/1 of 1st June 1940.

 

Communication except in P/L between TRUANT, ALSTER, and escorting trawlers and Norwegian submarines present great difficulty as the following books only were held by each:

 

Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron and TRUANT only - General Cypher with Special Submarine Tables.

 

Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron and ALSTER only – Syko Machine lent from DEVONSHIRE.

 

Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron the escorting trawlers only – Auxiliary Code

 

Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron and Norwegian submarines – A special Norwegian code.

 

Air raid warning at 1400 DEVONSHIRE sighted one Heinkel III also British Walrus. Gladiator but did not open fire.

 

I informed Flag Officer, Narvik, that ENTERPRISE would have to call at Harstad for fuel.

 

Norwegian submarine B 3 sailed for Finmark patrol, as arranged with Norwegian authorities, with Captain Hendrickson on board, who intended to establish a small submarine base at Varda. I warned ALSTER and ULLSWATER that she might be encountered and warned TRUANT that B 3 would pass through her patrol area a.m. 24th May.

 

At 1950 DEVONSHIRE was attacked very suddenly by one Junkers 89 (n.b. inked out – Fokker Wolf Condor written in) which dropped four bombs – two off the forecastle, two off the quarter deck, starboard side, all about 30 feet. Ship was badly shaken but no damage. Aircraft approached from astern at about 13,000 feet and was engaged by 4 inch armament, finally disappearing to the Southwest.

 

Lord Cork arrived by air and I accompanied him to interview the Norwegian Foreign Minister. He arrived in DEVONSHIRE just after the attack mentioned above and returned to Harstad, by air, about 2200.

 

ENTERPRISE for Harstad at 2230.

 

At 2326 THIRLMERE reported defects in A/S gear, was relieved on North Patrol by ELLESMERE and repairs carried out by DEVONSHIRE.

 

On this day I received Admiralty message 0316 which appeared to eliminate the necessity for the presence of DEVONSHIRE in the North and as I had seen Lord Cork I decided to go to Kirkenes to investigate before finally suggesting withdrawal.

 

Friday 24th May 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Tromso and on passage to Kirkenes.

 

ALSTER passed Tromso at 0330 on the way to Harstad.

 

There was an air raid warning ashore at 0815 but no aircraft sighted.

 

I send Brigadier Fraser to Harstad by Walrus, he having missed ENTERPRISE.

 

At 1129 endeavoured to call TRUANT to warn her DEVONSHIRE would pass through her patrol, but did not succeed until 2240.

 

Colonel Graham, the Base Commandant sailed.

 

DEVONSHIRE sailed at 1250.

 

At 2352, instructed TRUANT to close to V/S distance, giving her DEVONSHIRE’s position, course, and speed, and warned her that her patrol might be discontinued shortly. Ascertained she fired two torpedoes at ALSTER, and that no depth charges were dropped by ULLSWATER.

 

TRUANT reported oil fuel supplied by DEVONSHIRE (ex Tromso) would be unserviceable for that class of submarine for long periods.

 

Warned TRUANT Norwegian FRIEDHOF NANSEN operating in vicinity of her patrols, DEVONSHIRE would pass westbound about 0400/26 and that date of B 1 leaving Tromso was uncertain.

 

Saturday 25th May 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at sea and at Kirkenes.

 

Parted company with TRUANT at 0200.

 

At 0749 DEVONSHIRE spoke Finnish MATHILDA THORDEN /OFDC from New York to Petsamo. Position 70-55 degrees North, 30-37 degrees East, course 130 degrees. Allowed her to proceed in accordance with Admiralty’s 1810/13/5.

 

Captain Hendrickson, who had come over from Varda, came to see me.

 

At 1600 I went ashore to see Colonel Lieutenant Os and discuss the local situation with him. I was surprised and rather mystified to learn that he had received information from the Military Authorities at Harstad to the effect that attack from the direction of Murmansk was, if anything, even more probable. I accordingly informed Flag Officer, Narvik (my 1854/25) and decided to remain in the vicinity for the present and sailed in DEVONSHIRE at 2030.

 

ULLSWATER and ALSTER arrived Harstad at 1620.

 

At 1930 DEVONSHIRE sighted two unidentified aircraft which were probably a Russian patrol on the Finnish boarder.

 

ULLSWATER to sail for Hammerfest with mails and provisions for DEVONSHIRE.

 

SUSSEX arrived Scapa this day.

 

Sunday 26th May

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Hammerfest.

 

I received Flag Officer, Narvik’s 0100/26 ordered TRUANT to be send to Harstad with one trawler, and accordingly ordered her to close to V/S distance and proceed to Hammerfest with DEVONSHIRE.

 

DEVONSHIRE anchored in Hammerfest at 1650 when ULLSWATER was met and some two weeks mail were received.

 

TRUANT sailed at 1900 in company with ULLSWATER and DEVONSHIRE at 1930 to patrol off Nord Kap.

 

Monday 27th May 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

0930. Requested reply to Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron’s 1854/25th May.

 

At 1023 I received reply to 1854/25th May but no definite instructions for movements or future employment of DEVONSHIRE and decided to sail for Tromso at 1330 adjusting course and speed to arrive there at 0600/28th May. At 1730 I was further mystified by the receipt of Admiralty Message 1550/27 suggesting that DEVONSHIRE may be required for special mission in the North. Still without definite instructions, I kept to my decision to return to Tromso.

 

At 1920, I replied to Admiralty Message 1550/27 by reporting my intentions and my expected time of arrival at Tromso.

 

Tuesday 28th May 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Tromso.

 

At 0600 DEVONSHIRE anchored in Tromso and the Navy Office informed us that three German planes flew over Tromso, without bombing, on 27th May (probably on the way to Bardufoss) but otherwise no enemy aircraft had been sighted in our absence from the port.

 

At 1725 I landed for an interview with the Norwegian Foreign Minister and Minister of Defence.

 

At 2130 I ordered THIRLMERE to proceed north to Hammerfest.

 

Friday 29th May 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Tromso and at sea.

 

Having received no instructions and considering as I did that remaining in Tromso constituted an unjustifiable risk from bombing attacks, DEVONSHIRE took in 720 tons of fuel, weighted and proceed to Northward. At 0057, I signaled my intentions to cruise off Nordkap pending employment indicated in Admiralty Message 1550/27.

 

Throughout the day DEVONSHIRE remained cruising to the Northward of Nordkap keeping to the westward in order to facilitate W/T reception.

 

Thursday 30th May 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

DEVONSHIRE cruised to the North and Westward of Nordkap.

 

P.M. I learnt from Captain Heindricks that B 3 was leaving patrol in Varanger Fjord and proceeding to Tromso. I at once warned THIRLMERE at Hammerfest.

 

Friday 31st May 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at sea and at Hammerfest.

 

At 0845 DEVONSHIRE anchored in Hammerfest and flew off Walrus aircraft to carry out A/S Patrol of adjacent fiords.

 

At 1210 I learnt from the Consul at Tromso, in reply to my request for information, that on the 30th May the Power Station at Skarsfjord in Ringavassoy, and Norwegian gunboat HEIMDAL were bombed and three bombs were dropped in the harbour, but no damage was done.

 

At 1301, I indicated the whereabouts of DEVONSHIRE to Flag Officer Narvik as ordered in his 1107/31.

 

Receipt of Admiralty’s 1246/31 to Flag Officer Narvik re opening of Baltic – White Sea Canal and movements of Russian troops southward from Finnish Border appeared again to ease the situation in the North.

 

                                    (sgd) J.H.D. Cunningham

 

                                    14/06


 

WAR DIARY OF THE VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING FIRST CRUISER SQUADRON

1st June – 15th June 1940

 

Saturday 1st June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Hammerfest

 

On receipt of the Flag Officer, Narvik’s 0848/1st June ordering DEVONSHIRE to Tromso I sailed from Hammerfest and also ordered THIRLMERE to Tromso.

 

From the study of northward bound movements of convoys and of H.M. ships it was evident, but of what nature I had no knowledge except that DEVONSHIRE was required to remain in the north for a special mission (Admiralty message 1550/27th May).   

 

During the afternoon I learnt that B 1 had left Tromso at 1400 for Varda and that B 3 had left Tromso at 1600 to the southward, destination not known.

 

B 1 was later met in East entrance to Grotsund.

 

DEVONSHIRE arrived at Tromso 2030.

 

Rear Admiral Boyes, the Naval Attache, came on board to see me at once, accompanied by Captain Denham, R.N., the newly appointed Attache to Sweden. The latter proceeded to Kirkenes the next day in a fishing craft en route to Stockholm, taking with him a letter of introduction, to Colonel Lieutenant Os.

 

Admiral Boyes informed me that evacuation of Norway was imminent and that he thought the Government and King would also leave.

 

H.M. Minister was at that moment with the King and would not return until a later house but wished to see me next morning.

 

I could then piece together that the intercepted information at my disposal and arrived at the conclusion that evacuation would probably be completed on Thursday, 6th or Friday, 7th June.

 

Sunday 2nd June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron, in DEVONSHIRE at Tromso.

 

At 0030 THIRLMERE arrived, oiled, watered, and took up southern anti submarine patrol.

 

At 0301/2nd June I received Flag Officer, Narvik’s 2201/1 requesting me to confer with H.M. Minister on coming events of a most confidential nature. An interview had already been arranged for 1000.

 

Accompanied by my Secretary I saw H.M. Minister at 1000 and he gave full details of H.M. Government’s intention to evacuate Norway and of the Moweinkel proposals for the Swedish occupation of the Narvik area.

 

He informed me that only H.M. the King and his immediate retinue were aware of our intentions to evacuate and that so far he had been unable to persuade either him or the Crown Prince to leave should the Swedish proposals not become effective. He was, however, seeing the King again that day. The Norwegian Government had not been informed of the evacuation as the necessity for preserving secrecy was paramount if the safety of H.M. the King was to be assured.

 

DEVONSHIRE took in 680 tons of fuel this day.

 

At 1330 correspondence arrived from the Flag Office, Narvik, giving details of evacuation of the Narvik area which, after applying a correction received by W/T, I then knew would complete at 0300 on 8th June.

 

Lord Cork also informed me that DEVONSHIRE was to be at the disposal of H.M. the King to take him to England and that the evacuation of troops at Tromso was also to be carried out if possible.

 

I decided that Base Commandant, Colonel Graham, must be informed of this latter forthwith, and accordingly sent for him at 1500 and found that he was already aware of the possibility of evacuation.

 

After discussion with Base Commandant, I decided that as many military as could be spared, i.e. all not required to man the Anti aircraft batteries recently installed, would be embarked in DEVONSHIRE as soon as possible and DEVONSHIRE would proceed to sea as if transferring troops to some other port in order not to advertise her presence in the neighbourhood.

 

The remainder of troops and such Government officials as it was required to evacuate could then be embarked altogether in the shortest time with the minimum of publicity.

 

I again saw H.M. Minister at 2100 who then informed me that if the Moweinkel proposals were not accepted, H.M. the King and Crown Prince and most members of the Government would require evacuation. The Foreign Minister had been informed of prospect of the evacuation and was flying to Sweden the following day to discuss Moweinkel proposals and he, the Minister, hoped to get a decision by a.m. 4th June.

 

I informed H.M. Minister of my intentions for evacuation and pressed for it to take place as early as possible. He was in full agreement and also with the necessity for not drawing attention to Tromso by the continued presence of DEVONSHIRE.

 

The evening of Friday, 7th June, was agreed on as the last practicable date, Thursday, 6th June, as the probable date, and Tuesday and Wednesday, 4th and 5th June, as possible dates.

 

I drafted orders accordingly and issued sealed copies to necessary ships and authorities with instructions not to open them until further orders. I informed the Flag Officer, Narvik, fully of my intentions.

 

I arranged a simple code by which H.M. Minister could inform me daily of the progress of events.

 

Monday 3rd June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Tromso.

 

DEVONSHIRE embarked 13 military officers, one Royal Air Force Flight Lieutenant, and 153 other ranks, and sailed at 1730 to the Northward.

 

Tuesday 4th June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

Closed land to be within six hours steaming of Tromso until I received a message from H.M. Minister to the effect that the evacuation would not take place that night.

 

At 1900 on receipt of Flag Officer, Narvik’s 1014/4 to the effect that he would prefer evacuation deferred to the night of 7th I decided to return to Tromso.

 

Instructed Consul not to supply extracts from Aircraft Identification Signals (S.P. 02292D) to Norwegians after 8th June, inclusive, and informed Admiralty (Repeated) Flag Officer Narvik, of dates up to which various types of recognition signals had been supplies (1954/4/6).

 

Wednesday 5th June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

Weather misty with drizzle.

 

At 0900 DEVONSHIRE anchored in Tromso keeping soldiers below decks. Kept one anti submarine trawler on patrol to Northward of anchorage.

 

A convoy consisting of YEWMOUNT, petrol carrier, NGAKOA, and ARBROATH (A.S.I.S.) at anchor in harbour.

 

DEVONSHIRE supplied convoy with necessary charts and provisions urgently required and sailing orders to be complied with when ordered by Senior Naval Officer (Consul).

 

I landed at 1000 but was unable to see H.M. Minister until 1700 when he returned from visiting H.M. the King.

 

I was, however, put au fait with the situation at the Ministry, and spent the day in completing plans for evacuation, still preserving the closest secrecy.

 

On H.M. Minister’s return I told him of Lord Cork’s desire to defer evacuation until 7th June. He agreed with all my plans and arranged to give only some four hours notice of evacuation.

 

I sailed in DEVONSHIRE again to the Northward at 2000 leaving my Secretary as Liaison Officer with Ministry, Base Commandant, and British Military Mission.

 

RENOWN, REPULSE, NEWCASTLE, SUSSEX, and five destroyers to sea from Scapa to intercept two unknown ships reported by R.F.A. PRUNELLA in position 64-40 degrees North, 00-10 degrees East at 1130/5th steering to westward at 20 knots. Northern Patrol ordered to steer to Westward.

 

Thursday 6th June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron, in DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

I received news from Liaison Officer, Tromso, that there were no changes in situation and that DEVONSHIRE could cope with the probable number to be evacuated.

 

Northern Patrol resumed normal patrols, battlecruiser having reached a covering position.

 

At 1412 CARINTHIA was torpedoed in position 55-13 degrees North, 10-39 degrees West.

 

I received instructions from Flag Officer, Narvik, to use every influence with Admiral Diesen to send submarines B 1 and B 3 to England, or if unwilling to do this, to have them destroyed, and shortly afterwards a message from Liaison Officer to the effect that this matter has been dealt with.

 

I later learned that my Liaison Officer had received a personal guarantee to this effect from Admiral Diesen in the presence of the Naval Attache and had so informed Lord Cork.

 

At 2355 I received a message from my liaison officer to the effect that evacuation was now practically certain, that arrangements had been made to embark 14 tons of bullion and that present weather at Tromso was unfavourable for enemy air activity.

 

The bullion subsequently proved to be nonexistent. He informed me later that B 3 was due Tromso from Southward at 0500 on 7th June. I considered the possibility of this movement not having been reported to the Flag Officer, Narvik, and that submarine reported to Westward of Topsundet in Flag Officer, Narvik’s 1433/6th June and 1810/6th might have been B 3. In view of her proximity to Tromso I decided not to break W/T silence. At 1108/7th June Rear Admiral, Narvik’s 2116/6th June was received reporting this movement.

 

Friday 7th June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

At 0208 I learnt that Group I Narvik Convoy was sailing at 0300/7th June escorted by VINDICTIVE and an anti submarine screen.

 

0302 received Flag Officer, Narvik’s 2230/6th re officers being sent from the United Kingdom to confer with Norwegian General Ruge at Tromso, but could take no action at this late stage (n.b. pen addition “beyond informing Norwegian Naval Authorities.”)

 

At 0330 large numbers of aircraft reported off Narvik and Harstad but no reports of bombing.

 

At 0643 received Flag Officer, Narvik’s 0052/7th allocating two “V” class destroyers to DEVONSHIRE for passage to the United Kingdom after their ferry duties.

 

For reasons given in my 0954/7th, I decided not to wait for these destroyers. In this signal I gave intended route and speed of advance, requested anti submarine screen to meet DEVONSHIRE and asked for final destination of DEVONSHIRE. I selected this route in order to keep outside a distance of 400 miles from Mo, Trondheim, and Stavanger until within air supporting distance of Shetlands and also to utilize, in the later stages, the cover provided by the battle cruisers and VALIANT.

 

At 1411 received Admiralty’s 1300/7th June concerning rumours of German landing on east coast of Iceland. Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron told to investigate taking Armed Merchant Cruisers under his orders.

 

At 1650 received reports of enemy air activity in Narvik – Harstad area, Ballangen being bombed at 1721. This was the first report of enemy bombing since the start of Operation ALPHABET.

 

1730. Ran into rain showers and low cloud 20 miles from Tromso.

 

1800. Passed YEWMOUNT, NGAKOA, and ARBROATH on their way homewards 8 miles from Tromso. They had been sailed in company at 1700 for Scapa.

 

At 1830 anchored in Tromso and found passengers assembled in trawlers ELLESMERE and THIRLMERE as arranged and already lying off.

 

Embarkation was rapidly completed and at 1950 H.M. the King and Crown Prince embarked and DEVONSHIRE sailed from Tromso at 2030.

 

The following were embarked.

 

            His Majesty the King of Norway

            His Highness the Crown Prince

            Three Equerries

            H.M. Minister

            French Minister

            Polish Minister and 19 members of Corps Diplomatique

            Prime Minister and 10 Norwegian Ministers

            Their Staffs and Families. Total 55

 

            24 Norwegian Air Force

            15 political refugees

            33 British Officers and some 306 other ranks

 

Total: 435 men and 26 women.

 

Amended orders for anti submarine trawlers to enable them to pick up a convoy of Norwegian merchant ships before overtaking YEWMOUNT’s convoy.

 

This was done at the request of Captain Hovdenac, Royal Norwegian Navy, who intended himself to fly to collect and to sail with this convoy in PRINCE OLAV. Trawlers sailed on completion of embarkation at 2000. Advised all Norwegian warships and Heinkel seaplanes bound for the United Kingdom to make Thorshavn in the first instance.

 

2147. Passed YEWMOUNT’s convoy.

 

 

Saturday 8th June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

At 0901 reported embarkation of passengers, route, convoy route, and advice given to Norwegian warships and aircraft to Admiralty, Flag Officer, Narvik, Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, repeated Vice Admiral Aircraft Carriers and Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron in signal times 0001/8th June. This signal took nine hours to pass.

 

At 0902, having heard that trawlers waited off Karlsoy (70 degrees North, 20 degrees East) for Norwegian convoy until 0045, at which time in accordance with my instructions they sailed to overtake British convoy, reported to Flag Officer, Narvik, repeated Vice Admiral Aircraft Carriers, Admiralty, and Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, and suggested that any available escort would be of value (0803//8). He detached WALKER and CAMPBELL for this duty at 1924/8th June.

 

At 1000 passed through position 71 degrees North, 7 degrees East and altered course to 225 degrees for next position on the route (68 degrees North, 4 degrees East) speed of advance 27 knots.

 

At 1730 DEVONSHIRE intercepted a barely readable signal from GLORIOUS to Vice Admiral Aircraft Carriers timed 1640 which subsequent events have proved probably an amplifying report identifying two pocket battleships.

 

As by 1930, in spite of extra look out being kept on all frequencies, there was no indication to confirm the doubtful enemy report intercepted from GLORIOUS, reduced to 26 knots to conserve fuel. (Speed of advance 24 knots).

 

At 2039 received Flag Officer, Narvik’s 1132/8th detaching VANOC and VETERAN to wait for DEVONSHIRE from 2000/9th June in position 60-50 degrees North, 5 degrees West. Later, at 0012/9th June, I received VETERAN’s 0001/9th giving her intention of proceeding direct to Scapa owing to lack of fuel.

 

At 2049 received VALIANT’s 1928/8th June giving her intended movements (turning to the North at 2130/8)

 

At 2135 in position 57 degrees North, 4 degrees west altered to 186 degrees.

 

Sunday 9th June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

0055. SUSSEX and NEWCASTLE ordered to patrol off Ireland 53 degrees North, 13 degrees West to intercept German merchant ships with troops possibly making for Eire.

 

At 0200 I decided to break W/T silence.

 

(a). to pass my 2129/8th June giving position, course, and speed at 0400/9th June, requesting air escort and asking when destroyer escort might be expected.

 

(b). to order WALKER and CAMPBELL to escort Norwegian convoy from Tromso if trawlers had made contact with the British convoy.

 

At 0544 DEVONSHIRE sighted and reported a shadowing aircraft, Heinkel 115. This aircraft in the first instance repeated the challenge letter which had been flashed to her as has previously occurred and later closed and again flashed this letter in an attempt, presumably, to obtain the “reply”

 

Aircraft was engaged with 4 inch armament and disappeared.

 

At 0616 informed by the Commander in Chief, Rosyth, that Sunderland detailed as air escort for DEVONSHIRE could not take off from Sullom Voe because of fog. This aircraft eventually left Sullom Voe at 1240 but never made contact.

 

At 0705 heard enemy aircraft call sign 47H tuning and subsequently making “A’s” on 467 Kc/s some considerable distance away.

 

At 0735 VETERAN reported being bombed and shortly afterwards, the D/F bearing of aircraft 47H, who was still making “A’s”, was 040 degrees which was approximately the calculated bearing of VETERAN, whose distance from DEVONSHIRE was about 300 miles.

 

At 0712, in position 63-04 North, 5 degrees West sighted VALIANT and the Tribals bearing 120 degrees 9 miles and at 0730 reached position 63 degrees North, 5 degrees West and altered course to 184 degrees.

 

Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, ordered Rear Admiral (D) at 0811 to send two destroyers to rendezvous with DEVONSHIRE at 1500/9th June in position 59-48 degrees North, 5-45 degrees West.

 

At 0938 DEVONSHIRE intercepted VALIANT’s 0901/9 report from ATLANTIS of transport attacked by an enemy battleship and two destroyers at 0900/8 in position 67-44 degrees North, 3 -52 degrees East as a result of which I decided to report immediately to Command in Chief, Home Fleet, Admiralty, and Vice Admiral Aircraft Carriers the interception of GLORIOUS 1640/8 (my 1031/9).

 

1007. ESCORT and ELECTRA, presumably the destroyers detailed to rendezvous with DEVONSHIRE at 1500/9, were recalled to Scapa. This was confirmed on receipt of Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1117/9.

 

At 1045 altered course to 186 degrees – 29 knots. (speed of advance 27 knots). Visibility 2 to 5 miles.

 

REPULSE, SUSSEX, NEWCASTLE, ARK ROYAL, and VALIANT ordered to concentrate on Group II Convoy with SOUTHAMPTON and COVENTRY. RODENY and RENOWN to sail from Scapa at 1300/9 and steer for position 66 degrees North, 00 degrees East.

 

At 1438 VALIANT reported being bombed and was apparently shadowed until dark.

 

At 1634 reduced speed to 20 knots owing to low visibility and altered course as necessary to make land.

 

A meeting of the Norwegian Cabinet was held in the Gun Room of H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at 1700. After this meeting, H.M. the King informed me that the Government proposed to take up their headquarters in the West of England.

 

1808. Sighted two or three seaplanes steering to the southwards. These were the Norwegian Heinkels from Tromso which were reported by the Commander in Chief, Rosyth, as having left Sullom Voe at 1600/9th June for Helensburgh.

 

1900. Joined by a Lerwick Flying Boat (Minches Patrol) who acted as anti submarine escort.

 

1915. Fixed by Tiumpan Head Lighthouse and proceeded through searched channel.

 

2000. Increased to 29 knots.

 

2125. Lerwick left with orders to pass by land line to Flag Officer, Greenock, my affirmative reply to his 1344/9, and to the Commander in Chief, Rosyth, request for relief escort at dawn.

 

2130. YORK reported ready to proceed from Rosyth.

 

Monday 10th June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

0200. Passed arrival signal.

 

Escorting aircraft unable to take off owing to fog.

 

0930. Anchored in Clyde and immediately disembarked all passengers, the arrangements set out in Flag Officer Greenock’s 1344/9 having, unknown to me, been cancelled in the interval.

 

I landed at noon and telephoned to Admiralty from the officer of the Flag Officer, Greenock. I spoke to the Chief of Naval Staff and after giving him details of the evacuation and passage I represented that DEVONSHIRE had had steam on main engines for 34 consecutive days and we had had no leave for some two months. Permission to grant night leave to each watch accorded.

 

Tuesday 11th June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Greenock.

 

Wednesday 12th June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Greenock.

 

I visited SUFFOLK and NORFOLK at Govan and later the Flag Officer in Charge, Glasgow.

 

Thursday 13th June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Greenock.

 

P.M. I went to Rosyth by car to see the Vice Admiral, Second in Command, Home Fleet, and say goodbye to him (Vice Admiral Layton) as he was leaving the Home Fleet the next day.

 

On return orders had been received for FURIOUS to embark some 470 boxes of bullion and for DEVONSHIRE to escort her as far as 30 degrees West.

 

Friday 14th June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at Greenock.

 

After embarking gold and waiting arrival of squadron of Swordfish at Prestwick, FURIOUS sailed at 1800 with ECHO and WITHERINGTON to embark six Swordfish off Ailsa Craig at 1800.

 

DEVONSHIRE waited until receipt of sailing instructions from the Flag Officer, Greenock, and sailed at 2000 with HAMPBELTON (n.b. HAMBLEDON). Orders transferred to FURIOUS by HAMPBELTON by boat at 2300 after FURIOUS had completed embarkation of aircraft including replacement of one aircraft which crashed attempting to land on. Crew rescued.

 

Saturday 15th June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in DEVONSHIRE at sea, FURIOUS and destroyer escort in company.

 

                                                (sgd) J.H.D. Cunningham

 

                                                26/06

 


 

WAR DIARY OF THE VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING FIRST CRUISER SQUADRON

16th June – 30th June 1940

 

Sunday 16th June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

0100A SUSSEX with NEWCASTLE left Scapa to establish patrol in 59 degrees North between 16 degrees and 20 degrees West.

 

0445A FURIOUS flew off an aircraft which carried out a search and then established a patrol along the mean line of advance on a 25 mile front.

 

Air patrol was discontinued at 1030A on account of reduced visibility.

 

France approached Germany for peace terms.

 

Monday 17th June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

Evacuation of British Expeditionary Force from Western French ports.

 

Weather unfit for flying.

 

At 1100A DEVONSHIRE parted company with FURIOUS in position 49-35 degrees North, 29-50 degrees West. Steered 060 degrees at 20 knots towards Clyde to keep southward of REVENGE and convoy’s route, pending instructions.

 

Spoke British ENDICOTT/GLRG from Halifax to Glasgow with cargo of steel and explosives at 1215A in position 49-40 degrees North, 29-30 degrees West steering approximately 065 degrees.

 

At 1630 W/T silence was broken in order to pass positions, course, and speed at 1100A/17th June of FURIOUS and DEVONSHIRE to Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, repeated Admiral, Commander in Chief, Western Approaches, Commander in Chief, Rosyth, and REVENGE and at 1805A DEVONSHIRE was ordered to return to the Clyde (Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1639/17th June).

 

Later at 1818A Admiralty’s 1658/17th June ordered DEVONSHIRE to Halifax to escort EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA to Iceland with Canadian reinforcements.

 

At 2032Z DEVONSHIRE’s signally expected time of arrival at Halifax (1800 (zone – 4) 21st June) by FURIOUS route and requested convoy movements, Q.J.A. Messages, and instructions for entering Halifax to Admiralty, Naval Staff Headquarters, Ottawa, Rear Admiral Commanding Third Battle Squadron repeated Command in Chief, Home Fleet, Commander in Chief, America and West Indies, and FURIOUS.

 

Tuesday 18th June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

At 0954Z the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, ordered SUSSEX and NEWCASTLE to return to Scapa with despatch.

 

Low visibility and rain.

 

At 2100O DEVONSHIRE altered course to 184 degrees to ensure clearing HX 50 and at 2300O altered to 222 degrees for position E, 38-30 degrees North, 47-10 degrees West.

 

Wednesday 19th June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at sea

 

At 0316O DEVONSHIRE received Rear Admiral Third Battle Squadron’s 2231/18th June instructing her to endeavour to join FURIOUS so as to arrive in company at 0500 (zone + 4) 22nd June.

 

At 1956P DEVONSHIRE received Captain of H.M. Dockyard, Halifax’s 1520/19th June re searched passage to Halifax.

 

FURIOUS was sighted at 2309P in position 38-34 degrees North, 47-54 degrees West. This was two hours (34 miles) behind her estimated position assuming her speed of advance to have been 17 knots since parting company with her at 1100P/17th June.

 

Thursday 20th June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

At 0007/P altered course to 288 degrees, speed 22 knots and formed on starboard beam of FURIOUS in open order, having ascertained that FURIOUS had sufficient fuel to complete the passage to Halifax at this speed.

 

At 0107 signalled time of arrival (2000 (zone – 3) to the Captain of H.M. Dockyard, Halifax, Rear Admiral Third Battle Squadron, Naval Staff Headquarters, Ottawa, repeated FURIOUS.

 

At 0712P intercepted Commander in Chief, American and West Indies; 2242/19th June giving situation re French merchant ships and warships and showing EMILE BERTIN at Halifax.

 

At 0712P FURIOUS reported locating by air, during absence of DEVONSHIRE, three British Merchant Ships and an American Ice Patrol Cutter, NORD, of which neither she nor I had any record.

 

A.M. FURIOUS passed by V/S relevant Q.J.A. messages for entry into Halifax extracted from G.R.O. 43.

 

At 1615P intercepted Commander in Chief, America and West Indies’ 0902 re Rear Admiral Commanding Third Battle Squadron being instructed to do all in his power to keep EMILE BERTIN at Halifax.

 

At 1839P received Rear Admiral Commanding, Third Battle Squadron’s 1401/20 giving arrangements for air and A/S escorts and berths.

 

Friday 21st June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

At dawn a strong southerly wind made FURIOUS difficult to handle on the zig zag in her light state, so ordered her to discontinue zig zagging and at 0550Z (n.b. P in all other references) reduced to 19 knots.

 

Wind died down, however, about 0800.

 

At 1020P course was altered to 331 degrees in order to approach Halifax on the course in Rear Admiral Commanding, Third Battle Squadron’s 1401/20.

 

FURIOUS flew off a search of five Swordfish at 1130P returning at 1330P.

 

At 1200P joined by Hudson Aircraft of the Royal Canadian Air Force who acted as air escort and at 1540 by H.M.C.S. OTTAWA who acted as A/S escort.

 

At 1815P AURANIA was sighted in position 44-15 degrees North, 63-07 degrees West, proceeding to the eastward to join H.X. 52 and at 1817P Sambro Light Vessel was sighted bearing 337 degrees.

 

From signals intercepted during the day from Canadian Naval Authorities and from Rear Admiral Commanding, Third Battle Squadron, it appeared clear that EMILE BERTIN would persist in sailing and on receipt of Rear Admiral Commanding, Third Battle Squadron’s 1719/21 to DEVONSHIRE at 1839P instructing her to shadow EMILE BERTIN, ordered DEVONSHIRE to raise steam in all boilers and prepare to shadow. At the time, DEVONSHIRE had about 46% of fuel remaining.

 

Admiralty Message 2001 was not received until 2245P.

 

EMILE BERTIN was sighted at 1855P bearing 010 degrees 7 miles steering 100 degrees at 25 knots.

 

DEVONSHIRE turned to a parallel course, FURIOUS being instructed to proceed into harbour reporting that DEVONSHIRE had 44% fuel remaining.

 

At 1900P DEVONSHIRE’s position 44-63 degrees North, 63-23 degrees West and at 1915 EMILE BERTIN altered to 176 degrees, DEVONSHIRE conforming.

 

At 1955P the following signals were exchanged with EMILE BERTIN:

 

            To:                                From

            C.S. One                       EMILE BERTIN

 

French Cruiser EMILE BERTIN sailing from Halifax to Martinique glad to meet you once more after the North Sea.

 

To:                                From:

EMILE BERTIN              C.S. One

 

Thank you. Is Admiral Derrien onboard?

 

To:                                From:

C.S. One                       EMILE BERTIN

 

Admiral Derrien left my cruiser two months ago and is now commanding a flotilla of destroyers off the coast of Morocco.

 

To:                                From:

EMILE BERTIN              C.S. One

 

We were closely associated on third of May and I wondered if he had returned to you from MONTCALM.

 

At 1930/21 giving position course and speed of DEVONSHIRE at 1930/21 and received cordial signal by V/S from EMILE BERTIN in which she gave her destination as Martinique as passed to Admiralty and Rear Admiral Commanding Third Battle Squadron at 2001P. At 2100P spoke Norwegian VIGSNES /L.F.G.M. in position 43-36 degrees North, steering to the eastwards.

 

At 2258P reported no change, Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron’s 0046Z/22.

 

Saturday 22nd June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at sea shadowing EMILE BERTIN.

 

At 0130 P, I reported course and speed at midnight and that relative positions were unchanged, my 0300Z/22 and as EMILE BERTIN’s course indicated Martinique as her destination and Commander in Chief, American and West Indies’s 2239/21 received at 0059P confirmed this I accordingly asked for further instructions from Admiralty (My 0546P/22)

 

At dawn, as light increased, DEVONSHIRE opened her distance from EMILE BERTIN to 16 miles and at 0600Z on receipt of Admiralty’s 1159/22, altered course as though for Bermuda until out of sight of EMILE BERTIN when paravanes were recovered, course shaped for Halifax and speed adjusted to arrive at dawn.

 

Sunday 23rd June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Halifax.

 

French signed Armistice with Germany.

 

Exchanged calls with Rear Admiral Commanding Third Battle Squadron, Commodore Reid, R.C.N., Commanding Officer Atlantic Coast, and Commodore Jones, R.C.N., Commanding Canadian Flotilla.

 

Admiralty Message 1929/23 received. French ships not to be permitted to sail from any British port.

 

Monday 24th June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Halifax.

 

Captain of Dutch HEEMSKERCK called on me – as I unfortunately unable to return the call before he sailed.

 

Air Officer Commanding, Air Commodore Anderson called and I later lunched with Commodore Reid when I met the General Officer Commanding of the District, Brigadier General Considine of the Canadian Army.

 

Tuesday 25th June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Halifax.

 

I returned the Air Officer Commanding’s call.

 

Wednesday 26th June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Halifax.

 

Thursday 27th June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Halifax.

 

From Intercepted signals I learnt that EMILE BERTIN, who had a large quantity of bullion on board, had arrived at Martinique where BEARN and JEAN D’ARC also were both carrying aircraft from America.

 

It was clearly Admiralty’s intention that these ships and their cargos should not be allowed to proceed to France and FIJI and DUNEDIN were standing by to prevent this.

 

Friday 28th June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Halifax.

 

The Commanding Officer, Atlantic Coast, having kindly arranged for a Hudson Aircraft to be at my disposal, I flew to Ottawa to see Rear Admiral Nelles, R.C.N., Chief of Canadian Naval Staff, an old friend.

 

I there also met the C.A.S. and C.G.S. and took the opportunity of discussing the question of attack on and defence of the Eastern Seaboard and also the question of the defence of Iceland though I learnt then that the latter was no longer a Canadian commitment.

 

I informed the Commander in Chief, America and West Indies, later of this visit.

 

Saturday 29th June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Halifax.

 

The sinking of H.M.S. FRASER was made public and caused a considerable stir locally.

 

Received Admiralty Message 1724/28 June giving the news of formation of Force “H”

 

I entertained the Rear Admiral Commanding Third Battle Squadron, Commodores Reid and Jones, G.O.C. and A.O.C. to lunch.

 

Sunday 30th June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Halifax.

 

Intercepted the Commander in Chief, America and West Indies’ 0328/30th June giving a brief summary of armistice terms.

 

Received the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1014/30th June re SUSSEX sailing to meet FURIOUS.

 

 

                                                            (sgd) J.H.D. Cunningham

                                                            10/7


 

WAR DIARY OF THE VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING FIRST CRUISER SQUADRON

1st July – 15th July 1940

 

Monday 1st July 1940

 

The Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Halifax.

 

DEVONSHIRE and EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA for Iceland, and FURIOUS for Liverpool, left harbour in company at 0900P being met outside the gate by ASSINIBOINE and OTTAWA who acted as A/S escort, having previously carried out an A/S search of the approaches. Additional A/S escort was provided by a flying boat of the Royal Canadian Air Force, who returned to base at 1540P.

 

At 1050P DEVONSHIRE carried out an eight inch full calibre firing on a target towed by PUGWASH.

 

At 1130P formed a single line ahead in the order EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA, DEVONSHIRE, FURIOUS, course 116 degrees, 18 knots.

 

Point “A” was reached at 2000 (43-20 degrees North, 60 degrees West). Course was altered to 103 degrees.

 

At 2022 I received from Rear Admiral Third Battle Squadron’s 1832/1st July indicating the possibility by D/F bearings of an enemy unit in position 47-05 degrees North by 44-40 degrees West.

 

Tuesday 2nd July 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

Fog was encountered during the middle watch, rain a.m. and low visibility and patches of fog throughout the day.

 

At 0339P I received Admiralty’s 0559/2nd July indicating that on further analysis the enemy unit in Rear Admiral Commanding, Third Battle Squadron’s 1832/1 was considered to be a U boat in the Western Approaches, Bermuda’s bearing being 13 degrees in error.

 

ASSINIBOINE and OTTAWA were detached at 0600P to return to Halifax.

 

At 1400P DEVONSHIRE spoke Norwegian LEDAAL/LCXY in position 42-07 degrees North, 07-53 degrees West steering approximately 270 degrees. In the existing low visibility DEVONSHIRE did not leave the convoy to ascertain any further details.

 

Wednesday 3rd July 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

Visibility improved.

 

At 0400 P course was altered to 035 degrees when about 35 miles short of position “B” (41 degrees North, 47 degrees West) in order to save time to enable FURIOUS to make her rendezvous with SUSSEX and at 2000P, it being now clear that FURIOUS would be late for her rendezvous with SUSSEX if kept in company any longer, I detached FURIOUS who proceeded at 22 knots.

 

Thursday 4th July 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

Encountered fog during the middle watch but visibility good by the morning.

 

At 1020O DEVONSHIRE spoke British MUNERIC/GCGG from Middlesborough to Wabana, Conception Bay, in ballast on approximate course 261 degrees in position 48-16 degrees North, 40-26 degrees West and at 1135O British KING ALFRED/GCMX from Glasgow to St Johns, Newfoundland, in ballast approximate course 255 degrees in position 48-17 degrees North, 40-05 degrees West and at 1659P Dutch WILLEMSPLEIN/PIQE from Leith to Newfoundland in ballast on approximate course 257 degrees in position 49-53 degrees North, 38-46 degrees West.

 

At 1700O convoy reached position “C” (50 degrees North, 38-30 degrees West) and altered course to 024 degrees.

 

Friday 5th July 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

At 1330N course was altered to 028 degrees.

 

At 1542N I received Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1450/5th July ordering SUSSEX, who should have rendezvoused with FURIOUS at 0800/5th July, to escort her to the North Channel and then go to the Clyde. SUSSEX and SHROPSHIRE to leave Clyde 8th July for Reykjavik escorting personnel convoy and cover a slow moving convoy sailing 7th July.

 

Admiralty’s 1559/5th July placing DEVONSHIRE under the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s orders on leaving EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA was received at 1905N and subsequently I received the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 2239/5th July instructing DEVONSHIRE to proceed to Scapa.

 

The Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 2241/5th July diverted DEVONSHIRE and my mails accordingly.

 

Saturday 6th July 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

At 1030Z convoy reached position “D” (60-10 degrees North, 30 degrees West) and altered course to 031 degrees and at 2200P I informed the Admiralty, repeated the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, that EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA would arrive five hours early.

 

Sunday 7th July 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

At 0500A convoy reached position “E”, 64 degrees North, 25 degrees West and altered course for Reykjavik and at 0530 a Walrus aircraft was sighed who acted as A/S patrol.

 

At 0945A DEVONSHIRE parted company with the EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA in position 64-08 degrees North, 22-21 degrees West and shaped course for Scapa at 24 knots.

 

The arrival signal for DEVONSHIRE at Scapa and DEVONSHIRE’ 1016/7th July re provisions and stores were passed at 1012A.

 

During the first watch several Icelandic trawlers were sighted one of which was identified at 1933A as TRYGGVI GAMLI/TFQC, Registered No. R. 2 in position 61-37 degrees North, 17-40 degrees west steering approximately 310 degrees.

 

SUSSEX arrived in Clyde.

 

Monday 8th July 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

At 1047A sighted an unidentified aircraft in position 59-11 degrees North, 8-30 degrees west at extreme visibility and at low altitude. The aircraft disappeared from sight after three minutes and was not seen again.

 

The course and speed was adjusted to pass Hoxa Boom at 1915A.

 

I dined with the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet.

 

NORFOLK sailed from Scapa for the Clyde.

 

Tuesday 9th July 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Scapa.

 

A.M. SHROPSHIRE and SUSSEX escorting troop convoy consisting of ORMONDE/GLYC and ULSTER PRINCE/GLFM left Greenock for Reykjavik with orders to remain with this convoy until latitude 062 degrees North and then to make contact with the slow convoy which left Greenock P.M. on 8th July and escort it to the same latitude, subsequently proceeding to Scapa.

 

Wednesday 10th July 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Scapa.

 

Thursday 11th July 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Scapa.

 

Arrangements had been made for DEVONSHIRE to carry out a combined 8 inch full calibre and H.A. sleeve target firing but this practice had to be cancelled owing to unfavourable weather conditions.

 

Admiral Superintendent, Rosyth’s signal timed 2052/10th in reply to the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1731/10th confirmed that it would be possible to dock YORK on 13th July for changing of propeller and that docking of DEVONSHIRE for repairs to starboard outer shaft and exchange of port 4 inch guns on 16th July could be accepted.

 

Friday 12th July 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Scapa.

 

DEVONSHIRE’s practice was again postponed owing to weather.

 

H.M.A.S. AUSTRALIA to come under orders of the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, when ready for sea (Admiralty message 1611/12th July.

 

Saturday 13th July 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Scapa.

 

A.M. DEVONSHIRE sailed for the practice but this was again cancelled owing to poor visibility and the ship returned to harbour.

 

Information was received that BERWICK’s completion date was now delayed until 31st July 1940.

 

The Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, informed me of his intention to sail DEVONSHIRE for Rosyth so as to arrived at 0800 15th July 1940, for a quick docking on completion of YORK.

 

P.M. YORK docked at Rosyth.

 

Sunday 14th July 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Scapa.

 

Weather was still unfit for practices.

 

YORK delayed 24 hours in dock. Postponed sailing of DEVONSHIRE for Rosyth for 24 hours in the hope of being able to carry out the 8 inch full calibre and H.A. sleeve target firings before leaving Scapa.

 

P.M. SHROPSHIRE and SUSSEX arrived from duty with Iceland convoys.

 

Home Fleet at Scapa was ordered to half hour’s notice by Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, on receipt of Admiralty’s 2323/14th stating that unusual wireless activity indicated the possibility of an enemy move.

 

Monday 15th July 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

0730. Reverted to four hours notice and at 1530 DEVONSHIRE proceeded and carried out 8 inch F.C. firing with aircraft spotting in Pentland Firth, proceeding on completion to Rosyth.

 


 

WAR DIARY OF THE VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING FIRST CRUISER SQUADRON

16th July – 31st July 1940

 

Tuesday 16th July 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

At 0415 DEVONSHIRE was joined by one Anson as A/S screen; arrived at Rosyth at 0610 and was docked in No. 2 Dock during the forenoon after YORK had undocked and anchored in the stream.

 

AUSTRALIA arrived at Greenock, P.M.

 

I proceeded to London to visit Admiralty.

 

Wednesday 17th July 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Rosyth.

 

YORK was sailed P.M. for Scapa

 

SHROPSHIRE left Scapa for Greenock to be taken in hand by Messrs. Fairfield. Expects to complete on 28th July 1940.

 

I visited the First Sea Lord and Admiral of the Fleet Lord Cork (lately Flag Officer, Narvik), at Admiralty.

 

Thursday 18th July 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Rosyth.

 

YORK arrived Scapa at 0735.

 

SHROPSHIRE arrived Greenock 0845.

 

Friday 19th July 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Rosyth.

 

Admiral Superintendent, Rosyth, reported intention to undock DEVONSHIRE p.m. on 22nd July 1940. (Admiral Superintendent, Rosyth’s 1117/19th July).

 

AUSTRALIA left Clyde, P.M. for Scapa.

 

Saturday 20th July 1940

 

            (n.b. page two missing: entries of 20, 21, 22, 23, and start of 24th July)

 

Wednesday 24th July 1940

 

            (continued)

 

0835. DEVONSHIRE arrived Scapa. (n.b. from H.F. W.D.)

 

The Flag of Commander in Chief, Home Fleet was transferred at noon from RODNEY to NELSON.

 

Thursday 25th July 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Scapa.

 

Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1941/24 received P.M. stating his intention that DEVONSHIRE and NORFOLK should give close support to fast Iceland Convoy as far as 62 degrees North, and then return to cover slow convoy.

 

DEVONSHIRE was calibrated on the degaussing range, a.m.

 

P.M. exercised DEVONSHIRE, SUSSEX, and AUSTRALIA at manoeuvres and sub calibre concentration practices in the Flow.

 

Friday 26th July 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Scapa.

 

Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, requested that a cruiser of the First Cruiser Squadron should be detailed to replace NORFOLK in the Clyde during her employment as escort to Iceland convoy. Detailed SUSSEX.

 

Saturday 27th July 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Scapa.

 

A.M. Exercised DEVONSHIRE, SUSSEX, and AUSTRALIA in pair ship sub calibre concentration and flank marking in the Flow. On completion, SUSSEX sailed for Clyde at 1300.

 

At 1300 Battlecruisers, cruisers, and destroyers were ordered to 2 ½ hours notice.

 

At 1630 Battlecruisers, cruisers, and destroyers were ordered to raise steam with all dispatch for full steam and Battleships and aircraft carriers to keep steam at 1 hour’s notice.

 

Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, informed Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron and Vice Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron verbally that there were indications that GNEISENAU might attempt to leave Trondheim to return to Germany and that Force “A” consisting of:

 

C.S. One in DEVONSHIRE

MASHONA

B.C. One in RENOWN

ASHANTI

REPULSE

TARTAR

YORK

PUNJABI

AUSTRALIA

FURY

SHEFFIELD

FIREDRAKE

ARROW

FORTUNE

  

was to endeavour to bring her to action.

 

Informed Commander in Chief, Home Fleet at 1848 that Force “A” would pass Pentland Skerries at 2000/27 and Commander in Chief, Home Fleet ordered ZULU and MAORI who were hunting a U boat to the eastward of the Shetlands to join Force “A” at 0400/28.

 

Force “A” passed Pentland Skerries at 2000 with cruisers in single line ahead 4 cables apart screened by ASHANTI and MASHONA, battlecruisers screened by remaining destroyers, 4 miles astern, Mean Course 082 degrees – advancing at 24 knots.

 

Informed at 2044 by Commander in Chief, Rosyth that fighter escort of two Blenheims was arranged from 0400/28 onwards.

 

At 2210 reduced speed through the water and altered zig zag from No. 15 to No. 10 of C.B. 3043 in order to enable REPULSE to maintain speed of advance of 24 knots.

 

At 2037, AUSTRALIA reported D/F bearing of 101 degrees (or reciprocal) strength 6, second class on 5060 kc/s. This was presumed to be an enemy surface vessel using the night alternative frequency.

 

At 2355 AUSTRALIA reported D/F bearing of 129 degrees (or reciprocal) strength 8, second class on 5545 kc/s. This was presumed to be a U boat.

 

(Note: As AUSTRALIA’s H/F D/F set has not been properly calibrated these bearings were accepted as general indications only.

 

Sunday 28th July 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

Commander in Chief, Rosyth reported at 0236 aircraft being unable….(n.b. page chopped)….

 

AUSTRALIA, DEVONSHIRE, SHEFFIELD, and YORK with ASHANTI and MASHONA attached to AUSTRALIA and DEVONSHIRE respectively.

 

ZULU and MAORI joined Force “A” at 0400 and were attached to YORK and SHEFFIELD respectively.

 

Air escort of two Blenheims made contact at 0410.

 

At this time, although the weather was clear and visibility excellent, the presence of a “front” and much low cloud and mist to eastward was apparent. During the day heavy clouds formed down to 2000 feet with cirrus cloud above and visibility varied between 5 and 25 miles.

 

At 0420 Commander in Chief, Rosyth reported that aircraft left Sumberg at 0400 for reconnaissance of Trondjheim.

 

Informed by Commander in Chief, Rosyth at 0446 of air patrol of three Blenheims to be flown from 0530/28 over position of Force “A”.

 

Sighted three Blenheims at 0630.

 

The fighter escort of two Blenheims at relieved at 0717.

 

Altered course of Force “A” at 0800 to 290 degrees in accordance with Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 2312/27. My reasons for doing this were that, had the enemy left Trondjheim before midnight, even at 20 knots he would by now be to the southward of my position and the absence of enemy reconnaissance aircraft appeared to indicate that no important enemy warship movement was in progress down the coast in this vicinity – an inference which appeared to be confirmed by the absence of reports from our own coastal reconnaissances. The possibility that Commander in Chief, Home Fleet might have indications of enemy movements to the westward was also present in my mind.

 

At 0913 YORK sighted a mine (position 61-45 degrees N. 1-35 degree E.).

 

Reduced distance apart of cruisers to 5 miles at 0915 in visibility detiorating.

 

At 1100 reduced speed and increased amplitude of zig zag, advancing at 18 knots. Lost sight of fighter escort until 1245.

 

Received Admiralty’s 1120/28 at 1147 to the effect that it was probable that position of Force “A” had been reported by enemy aircraft at 0939/28. Ordered SHEFFIELD to search for shadower on type 79. Admiralty’s 1120/28 was cancelled at 1454.

 

Reduced speed at 1200 to 19 ½ knots (advancing 17 knots) to conserve fuel of destroyers.

 

Air reconnaissance of Trondheim at 0800 reported no warship in harbour (Commander in Chief, Rosyth’s 1208 received at 1257). The fact and indications previously mentioned pointed to the probability that GNEISENAU and her three destroyers had left Trondheim early yesterday and her presence with her of the destroyers argued against a westerly enterprise. Accordingly at 1400 altered course of Force “A” to 097 degrees speed of advance 21 knots with cruisers spread 5 miles apart 4 miles ahead of the battlecruisers in accordance with Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 0931/28.

 

One of the battlecruisers’ screen reported a contact (position 62-08N, 1-02W) at 1407. This was investigated by three destroyers who subsequently rejoined the screen. There were many whales in the vicinity.

 

Commander in Chief, Rosyth reported at 1432 that coastal reconnaissance from Lister Light to 62 degrees N was being carried out by three aircraft taking off at 1330.

 

At 1713 and 1734 heard “A’S” strength 8 bearing 215 degrees. These sounded as if made by a fairly powerful transmitter some way off.

 

At 1800, in accordance with Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1143/28, ordered Vice Admiral Commanding, Battle Cruiser Squadron to assume command of Force “A” and DEVONSHIRE to proceed to escort Iceland convoy. Passed intended route of DEVONSHIRE and instructions for NORFOLK to RENOWN for transmission by W/T on her return to harbour. (Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron’s 1606/28.

 

At 1928 DEVONSHIRE sighted a column of water about 10 feet to 15 feet high as from a submarine explosion 10 degrees 2 ½ miles on her port bow immediately after a large alteration of course to port (position 61-46 degrees North, 0-34 degree East). Slight shock was felt in engine room and boiler rooms. Considered it probable that this was a torpedo from a U boat exploded on firing.

 

At 2040 informed Walrus aircraft on patrol S.16 (reference Commander in Chief, Rosyth’s 1146/19/7) of the explosion at 1928 for transmission to Commander in Chief, Home Fleet.

 

SUSSEX reported stripping starboard inner H.P. turbine (SUSSEX 0801/28). Commander in Chief, Home Fleet instructed her to disconnect turbine and trail shaft until ship could be spared for repairs (Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1645/28).

 

Monday 29th July 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

Low visibility varying from ½ mile to 5 miles.

 

At 1600 ordered NORFOLK and DEVONSHIRE to keep 30 miles to the north and the west, respectively of convoy and both ships to keep 30 miles to the South East of N.P. 55 until the fog had lifted. (Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron’s 1600/29/7.

 

DEVONSHIRE reached a position 30 miles to the North of the estimated position of the convoy and altered course parallel to it. Speed of advance being reduced by wide zig zag. Maintained this approximate position throughout the night.

 

Tuesday 30th July 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

Visibility 1 to 5 miles

 

Made contact with the convoy at 1345 in position 59-35 degrees North, 13-02 degrees West – 16 ships with Commodore W.B. Mackenzie in PATRICIA escorted by four A/S trawlers – and then proceeded ahead to locate NORFOLK which was done at 2040.

 

At 1544 identified Icelandic trawler BELGAUM/TFNC steering 314 degrees bound for Reykjavik (position 59-40 degrees North, 13-31 degrees West) and at 1653 spoke H.M.S. WORCESTER (position 59-51 degrees North, 13-56 degrees West) steering 140 degrees at 12 knots who reported passing NORFOLK at 1512 steering a northerly course.

 

At 2145 with NORFOLK in company, closed the convoy which was found to be making good six knots on a course of 308 degrees. Proceeded as requisite to maintain a position to North Eastward of convoy.

 

Wednesday 31st July 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

At 0124 Admiralty reported that force was probably reported by a U boat at 2206/30 (Admiralty’s 0050/31). Owing to slow speed of convoy it was not considered that any advantage would be gained by an alteration of its course. No action was therefore taken.

 

Visibility 5 to 10 miles, windforce 5 to 6 from South South West with heavy South West swell.

 

At 0920 closed the convoy and confirmed its previous course and speed 308 degrees, 6 knots. Remained in its vicinity throughout the day although low visibility later prevented visual touch being regained before dark.

 

P.M. Carried out range and inclination exercises and daylight searchlight laying and training exercises.

 

Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, ordered BERWICK to sail for Scapa when ready, and carry out full power trial on passage. (Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 1054/31). Flag Officer, Liverpool reported that BERWICK would be ready for sea on 3rd August (Flag Officer, Liverpool’s 1115/31)

 

SUSSEX reported present maximum speed of 27 knots (SUSSEX’s 1212/31).

 

                                                (sgd) J.H.D. Cunningham

 

 


 

 

WAR DIARY OF THE VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING FIRST CRUISER SQUADRON

1st August – 15th August 1940

 

Thursday 1st August 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

Visibility improved to 15 miles at 0300.

 

Closed convoy at dawn, and at 0530 in position 61-59 degrees North, 19-17 degrees West, parted company and shaped course for Scapa in accordance with Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 2312/26.

 

At 0930 reported W/T position, course, and speed of convoy (Vice Admiral Commanding, First Cruiser Squadron’s 0835/1) and expected time of arrival of DEVONSHIRE and NORFOLK (Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron’s 0828/1.

 

Range and inclination and daylight searchlight exercises were carried out in A.M. and P.M.

 

Naval Officer in Charge, Liverpool, reported his intention of sailing BERWICK for Scapa on 3rd August 1940 (Naval Officer in Charge, Liverpool’s 1635/1.

 

Friday 2nd August 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

Delayed by fog until 1700 when DEVONSHIRE and NORFOLK passed through Hoxa Gate and anchored in A.1 and A.2 berths respectively.

 

Saturday 3rd August 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Scapa.

 

AUSTRALIA carried out 8 inch F.C. firing, A.M.

 

Exercised DEVONSHIRE and NORFOLK in pair ship sub calibre firing in the Flow, P.M. Owing to an error lining up after an electrical failure, NORFOLK fired several shots into Flotta and between Flotta and Calf of Flotta.

 

SUSSEX taken in hand by Alexander Stephens and Sons, Glasgow and granted ten days leave to each watch. FIJI carrying out duties of Cruiser in the Clyde.

 

BERWICK sailed from Liverpool for Scapa.

 

Sunday 4th August 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Scapa.

 

BERWICK in collision A.M. in North Channel with unknown ship in fog and put into the Clyde for repairs by Fairfields. Estimated time for completion 2 ½ weeks.

 

YORK sailed for Rosyth.

 

Commander in Chief walked round divisions in AUSTRALIA after which AUSTRALIA left for D/F calibration at Kirkwall.

 

Commander in Chief, Home Fleet asked the Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron to nominate a relief for FIJI from the First Cruiser Squadron. Replied that DEVONSHIRE was the most suitable and flag could be transferred to NORFOLK if desired.

 

Monday 5th August 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Scapa.

 

Commander in Chief, Home Fleet instructed DEVONSHIRE to sail for the Clyde to arrive P.M. 7th August (CinC, Home Fleet’s 0921/5/8). As REVENGE would be at Clyde under operational command of Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron, and as DEVONSHIRE would be relieved after about a week, Home Fleet did not consider it necessary to transfer Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron’s Flag to NORFOLK.

 

Tuesday 6th August 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Scapa.

 

I saw Commander in Chief, Home Fleet concerning duties in the Clyde.

 

DEVONSHIRE sailed at 2015 and, after a H.A. firing at a flare target, shaped course for the Clyde escorted by one Swordfish until dark.

 

Wednesday 7th August 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at sea.

 

Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, informed Admiralty that he considered it desirable that AUSTRALIA should be docked in near future and suggested this be arranged after completion of SUSSEX and BERWICK (CinC, Home Fleet’s 1150/7/8)

 

Passed extensive oil patches at 1000 in approximate position 55-40 degrees North, 7 degrees W.

 

At 1400 a 4 engine monoplane approached DEVONSHIRE as if to attack making the wrong identification letter. Aircraft was recognized to be a British training machine and fire was not opened. Reported the incident to Flag Officer in Charge, Greenock (Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron’s 1421/7).

 

Secured to the Flagship’s bouy at 1545 and requested Flag Officer in Charge, Greenock to continue to administer the port.

 

REVENGE, PENELOPE, FIJI, ILLUSTRIOUS, ATHERSTONE, HAMBLEDON, and GARTH in harbour.

 

Thursday 8th August 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Greenock.

 

Friday 9th August 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Greenock.

 

Saturday 10th August 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Greenock.

 

Sunday 11th August 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Greenock.

 

NEWCASTLE and available destroyers at Devonport, and DEVONSHIRE, ILLUSTRIOUS, ECHO, and ATHERSTONE at the Clyde were ordered to raise steam on account of indications of enemy activity on the South and West Coasts (Admiralty’s 1332/11/8). Aircraft were embarked by ILLUSTRIOUS. Ships reverted to normal notice for steam at 2335/11/8.

 

NORFOLK and AUSTRALIA proceeding to establish a patrol P.M. on a line 340 degrees from position 020 degrees Kalso Light 45 miles as far as latitude 64-30 degrees North, commencing 1000 12th August 1940 (CinC, Home Fleet’s 1952/11).

 

Monday 12th August

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Greenock.

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron accompanied by Staff Officers proceeded to Admiralty (Admiralty Message).

 

NORFOLK and AUSTRALIA to continue patrol until 1530 13th August and then carry out a sweep as far as Long. 010 degrees West returning to Scapa on completion if nothing sighted (CinC, Home Fleet’s 2151/12/8). Sunderland aircraft to patrol ahead of both cruisers on altering course to carry out sweep.

 

Tuesday 13th August 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron on duty at Admiralty. Flag in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Greenock.

 

0629. Commander in Chief, Home Fleet’s 0515/13/8. DEVONSHIRE to raise steam at one hour’s notice.

 

Later, Admiral Commanding, Western Approaches’ 0705/13. Reliable information received from Swedish informant that German embarkation began on the night of 11th August, along whole Norwegian coast which, in conjunction with other activities, indicates definite operations in progress. (Admiralty’s 0456/13/8).

 

Received Admiralty Message 0505/13/8 ordering all available ships in Western Approaches Command to raise steam.

 

Flag Officer, Glasgow reported to Admiralty that examination of SUSSEX’s starboard inner H.P. turbine indicates seven weeks work (F.O. Glasgow’s 1002/13/8).

 

NORFOLK and AUSTRALIA ordered to continue patrol until further orders – instructions to carry out sweep being cancelled.

 

Wednesday 14th August 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron on duty at Admiralty. Flag in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Greenock.

 

DEVONSHIRE ordered to revert to two hours notice for steam (CinC, Home Fleet’s 0012/14/8).

 

Thursday 15th August 1940

 

Vice Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron on duty at Admiralty. Flag in H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE at Greenock.

 

NORFOLK and AUSTRALIA ordered to discontinue patrol at 0800 16th August and return to Scapa. 15th Cruiser Squadron relieving the patrol. (CinC, Home Fleet’s 1911/15/8.

 

                                                (sgd) J.H.D. Cunningham

 

                                                10/9

 

 


 

WAR DIARY OF THE VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING FIRST CRUISER SQUADRON

 

Period 1st August to 15th August - Summary

 

On the 1st August 1940, the First Cruiser Squadron, which had been augmented by the addition of H.M.A.S. AUSTRALIA was disposed as follows.

 

H.M.S. DEVONSHIRE, flying my flag, with H.M.S. NORFOLK in company, was escorting a slow convoy to Iceland.

 

H.M.S. YORK and H.M.A.S. AUSTRALIA were at Scapa

 

H.M.S. BERWICK was undergoing refit at Liverpool, due to complete 3rd August.

 

H.M.S. SUSSEX who had stripped starboard inner H.P. turbine on 28th July was returning to the Clyde for repairs.

 

H.M.S. SUFFOLK was undergoing damage repairs at Messrs. Fairfield’s Greenock. Estimated date of completion January 1941.

 

H.M.S. SHROPSHIRE was at Scapa temporarily attached to the First Cruiser Squadron.

 

2. By the end of the period under review (15th August),

 

BERWICK, who had been in a collision with an unknown merchant vessel in Irish Sea, was undergoing repairs in the Clyde. The collision occurred in thick weather and the Court of Enquiry found the Commanding Officer blameless.

 

YORK, who was at Rosyth, had been allocated to Mediterranean Station and SHROPSHIRE had left to return to South Atlantic.

 

SUSSEX had been taken in hand by Messrs. Alexander Stephens and Sons of Glasgow. Estimated time, seven weeks.

 

3. Thus leaving with the Home Fleet as effective for anti invasion duties

 

DEVONSHIRE wearing my Flag, in Clyde for anti invasion duties.

 

AUSTRALIA and NORFOLK at Scapa.

 

4. Every advantage was taken, during the period, of facilities at Scapa Flow to carry out Gunnery Exercises and much benefit was derived.

 

5. On 12th August I was ordered to Admiralty and was informed by the Chief of Naval Staff that I would be appointed to Command Force “M” on an expedition designed to install General de Gaulle at Dakar in French West Africa

 

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