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ADMIRALTY WAR DIARIES of WORLD WAR 2

 

VICE ADMIRAL, EIGHTEENTH (18th) CRUISER SQUADRON - June to December 1940 (less 16th-31st December)

 

Transcribed by Don Kindell

 HMS Sheffield (Navy Photos/Ben Titheridge, click to enlarge)

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Source: ADM 199/385

Cruiser Squadron Eighteen’s War Diary commenced on 1 March 1940.  Before this time, their activities being 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).


 

 

NOTE: These are mainly the War Diaries of the Vice Admiral commanding 18th Cruiser Squadron prepared half monthly. They are interspersed from time to time by Records of Events submitted by the Rear Admiral, Second in Command to the Admiralty (The latter headings are in italics)

 

Also includes report on "action fought off Cape Spartivento" on 27 November 1940

 

VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING, 18TH CRUISER SQUADRON

 

WAR DIARY

 

1st – 15th JUNE 1940

Saturday, 1st June

 

Admiralty directed (message 2226/31/5, received at 0541/1) that MANCHESTER, SHEFFIELD, BIRMINGHAM, FORTUNE, FURY, FORESIGHT, were to be under the operational control of the Commander in Chief, Nore, unless Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, proceeded to sea to cooperate in the South when they would be placed under the latter's orders. YORK to work under control of Cruiser Squadron 18, with similar exception.

 

Admiral Commanding 18th Cruiser Squadron represented to Flag Officer in Charge, Humber, Admiralty, and Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, that ships in Humber were very exposed to attack by Motor Torpedo Boats, either alone or in conjunction with aircraft, and that anti Motor Torpedo Boat Boom Defence was an urgent requirement. Even a dummy boom would be of some value.

 

JAGUAR arrived Humber for repairs to bomb damage.

 

At the request of the Naval Officer in Charge, Immingham, parties were landed to assist in the work of preparing demolitions at this port. The Torpedo Officer and twenty ratings from each ship took part, two ships provided depth charges and other demolition stores. The work was completed P.M. on 5th June.

 

Sunday, 2nd June

 

NEWCASTLE sailed from the Tyne for Rosyth at 1415 on completion of refit. Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, had ordered her to work up for a week at Scapa after D.G. calibration at Rosyth.

 

Admiralty approved immediate fitting of dummy boom between Spurn Point and Hailesand Point.

 

Monday, 3rd June

 

NEWCASTLE left Rosyth for Scapa at 1000.

 

Admiralty ordered FURY, FORESIGHT, and FORTUNE to Harwich, and directed Commander in Chief, Home Fleet to replaced them in the Humber by three other destroyers, but none appeared to be available.

 

Tuesday, 4th June

 

NEWCASTLE reported her catapult was out of action due to defective accelerator wires, and would take five days to repair.

 

Wednesday, 5th June

 

WALPOLE and GALLANT arrived Humber.

 

Between 1700 and 1800 enemy aircraft were active off the entrance to the Humber, but no attack developed.

 

Thursday, 6th June

 

Captain H. Hickling relieved Captain H. Pegram in command of GLASGOW.

 

Between 2350/5 and 0220/6 an Air Raid warning was in force and ships closed up at anti aircraft stations. Shore searchlights were very active, but ships did not open fire as no aircraft which appeared hostile came within range. Shore guns only opened fire on a machine which appeared to be friendly, though it was continuously held by searchlights for a long period. No bombs were dropped in the vicinity of the ships, though distant explosions were seen.

 

Cruiser Squadron 18 represented to the Flag Officer in Charge, Humber, that this illumination and engagement of apparently friendly aircraft must represent some flaw in the organisation.

 

The Anti Aircraft gunnery of shore batteries seemed poor in accuracy and volume, though the former somewhat improved when the heavier guns were in action.

 

JAVELIN and the 5th Minesweeping Flotilla arrived Humber.

 

Friday, 7th June

 

Between 2315/6 and 0015/7 and between 0050/7 and 0200/7 ships were again closed up to Air Raid Stations, but no targets were engaged and no gunfire or bomb explosions were observed in the vicinity; though there were numerous reports of hostile aircraft.

 

Saturday, 8th June

 

NEWCASTLE left Scapa, operating under orders of the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet.

 

Sunday, 9th June

 

At 1630, the Commander in Chief, Nore's 1358/9 was received, suggesting to Admiralty that ships of the 18th Cruiser Squadron should move to Rosyth for a few days, as their presence in Humber must now have become well known to the enemy. Admiralty approved this. Later in the evening, ships were ordered to raise steam for full speed by the Commander in Chief, Nore, in consequence of enemy activity in the North Sea, but it did not prove necessary for the 18th Cruiser Squadron to proceed to sea for this reason.

 

Monday, 10th June

 

MANCHESTER, SHEFFIELD, and BIRMINGHAM sailed from Humber for Rosyth at 0430, and arrived Rosyth 1630. The same routine for notice for steam was put into force as at the Humber.

 

Tuesday, 11th – Friday, 14th June

 

MANCHESTER, SHEFFIELD, and BIRMINGHAM remained at Rosyth. As from 0001/12th June, steam was kept at 2 ½ hours' notice by day and night.

 

SOUTHAMPTON arrived on the Clyde at 1300 on 12th June

 

NEWCASTLE was employed covering convoys from Norway.

 

Saturday, 15th June

 

Command of the 18th Cruiser Squadron was transferred to Vice Admiral Sir G.F.B. Edward Collins, K.C.V.O., C.B.

 

 


 

 

REAR ADMIRAL, SECOND IN COMMAND, 18TH CRUISER SQUADRON

 

WAR DIARY

 

16th – 30th June 1940

 

Sunday, 16th June to Friday, 21st June

 

SOUTHAMPTON remained in the King George V Dock undergoing repairs and giving leave, the last of which expired p.m. on Friday, 21st June.

 

Captain B.C.B. Brooke assumed command of the ship on Tuesday, 18th June (vice Jeans, sick).

 

Saturday, 22nd June

 

At the Clyde and at sea. Fuelling was completed at 1000 and at 1300 the ship left the King George V Dock and proceeded down river. The two Walrus aircraft were reembarked at Greenock at 1540 and SOUTHAMPTON then sailed for Scapa, passing the gate at 1630. The expected time of arrival at Scapa was 1100 on 23rd June.

 

Sunday, 23rd June

 

At sea and at Scapa. At 0911 NEWCASTLE was instructed by the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, to proceed to intercept enemy destroyer, reported by aircraft to be in position 58-48 North, 04-20 East at 0600.

 

Another enemy destroyer was in position 57-21 North, 04-38 East at 0828, in the vicinity of the damaged submarine WILK.

 

At 0841, SOUTHAMPTON received orders from the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, to proceed with despatch, and at 0932 was instructed to proceed through the Pentland Firth to act in support of NEWCASTLE.

 

SHEFFIELD, BIRMINGHAM, and GALLANT left Rosyth with all despatch at 1030 to join and escort WILK. As it was reported that WILK could dive, this force returned to Rosyth.

 

At 1052, The Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, ordered SOUTHAMPTON to proceed to Scapa. Hoxa Gate was entered at 1400 and the ship anchored in A1 berth. The ship remained at four hours notice. At 1523, NEWCASTLE was instructed to return to harbour if there was no further information about the enemy.

 

During the passage from the Clyde, "F" coil of the D.G. gear in SOUTHAMPTON was damaged by heavy seas while steaming at high speed. I represented to the Vice Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron a suggested improvement in securing the coils, and reported that repairs to SOUTHAMPTON were being undertaken by the ship's staff.

 

Monday, 24th June

 

At Scapa. NEWCASTLE with ECHO entered harbour at 0430.

 

Tuesday, 25th June

 

At Scapa. NEWCASTLE sailed in the forenoon for Rosyth.

 

Wednesday, 26th June

 

At Scapa. Full calibre practices arranged for today had to be canceled owing to bad weather, but runs over the D.G. range were carried out satisfactorily in the evening, and new settings were communicated to the SOUTHAMPTON.

 

Thursday, 27th June

 

At Scapa and at sea for exercises. SOUTHAMPTON proceeded at 1130 to carry out full calibre firings in the Pentland Firth.

 

Subsequently "slick" landing practice was carried out inside the Flow.

 

Friday, 28th June

 

At Scapa. P.M. I ordered ships in the Flow to be brought to one hour's notice for steam to ensure safety in view of the weather.

 

Saturday, 29th June

 

At Scapa and at sea for exercises. The ship proceeded at 0900 and carried out 6" full calibre firing at the Battle Practice Target in the Pentland Firth, followed by 4" Low Angle Practices.

 

At 2100 the Fleet came to 1 hour's notice by order of the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet.

 

Sunday, 30th June

 

At 0100 the Fleet reverted to 4 hours' notice.

 

 


 

 

VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING, 18TH CRUISER SQUADRON

 

WAR DIARY

 

15th – 30th June 1940

 

Vice Admiral Sir Frederick Edward-Collins, K.C.V.O., C.B. assumed command of the Squadron on 15th June 1940. The state of the Squadron was then as follows:

MANCHESTER, BIRMINGHAM, SHEFFIELD - At Rosyth under the orders of the Commander in Chief, Nore, for operational purposes.

 

SOUTHAMPTON - At the Clyde repairing damaged caused by bombs, date of completion 22nd June.

 

GLASGOW - At Liverpool repairing bomb damage and structural defects, date of completion 5th July.

 

NEWCASTLE - At Scapa to work up after refit. Future movements not known.

 

EDINBURGH - At the Tyne for structural defects, date of completion 20th October (reduced to 2/5ths complement).

 

YORK - At Rosyth, was also under the operational orders of the Vice Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron, in accordance with Commander in Chief, Home Fleet's 2013/28th May.

2. At 1956/16 Admiralty ordered MANCHESTER, YORK, BIRMINGHAM, and SHEFFIELD to keep steam at one hour's notice. No reason was given for this order. At 1148/17 Admiralty said that these ships might revert to four hours' notice, but were to be at one hour's notice by 2000 that day. On 19th June, Admiralty permission was given for them to be at four hours' notice during the daytime, but to be at one hour's notice from 2000 to 0600 daily.

 

3. GALLANT and WALPOLE were ordered by the Commander in Chief, Nore, to sail from the Humber to Rosyth at 0600 on 17th June to come temporarily under my orders. They arrived Rosyth at 1915 and sailed again at 2100 on the 18th to escort the S.S. EMPIRE TROOPER in tow of three tugs from Leith to the Tyne, returning to Rosyth on completion.

 

4. On 18th June I informed authorities concerned that BIRMINGHAM had developed 70 leaky rivets. Her seaworthiness was not seriously affected, but the Constructors considered that the first suitable opportunity should be taken to dock her. 24 hours' work would be required after docking her. A dock was available at Rosyth.

 

5. Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, in his 1540/20 replied that he intended NEWCASTLE to join me about 26th June on completion of working up. BIRMINGHAM was then to be docked for repairs. MANCHESTER was to refit when BIRMINGHAM was again available. He also directed SOUTHAMPTON to proceed to Scapa on completion of repairs on 22nd June.

 

6. CLYDE's report of having sighted and attacked enemy ships of Trondheim was received at 0302/21st June. Cruisers and GALLANT sailed from Rosyth at 0630. A full report on the subsequent search for the SCHARNHORST is contained in 18th C.S. 364/784 of 23rd June. Ships arrived back at Rosyth at 1915 on 22nd June.

 

7. Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, in his 0853/23, ordered two cruisers from Rosyth to proceed to cover the WILK who was returning on the surface in a damaged condition. BIRMINGHAM and SHEFFIELD were detailed and proceeded at 1045 with GALLANT in company.

 

8. NEWCASTLE was also ordered by Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, to proceed from Scapa to intercept an enemy destroyers reported by aircraft at 0600 in position 58-45N, 04-20E steering 225 degrees estimated speed 20 knots.

 

9. SOUTHAMPTON on passage from the Clyde to Scapa was ordered in Commander in Chief, Home Fleet's 0932 to proceed through the Pentland Firth to support NEWCASTLE. These orders were cancelled by Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, at 1052 and SOUTHAMPTON was ordered to Scapa.

 

10. At 1352, Commander in Chief, Rosyth informed SHEFFIELD that WILK reported being able to dive and at 1440 SHEFFIELD informed Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, that in view of this and in anticipation of Commander in Chief's approval, he was returning to Rosyth. Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, approved and SHEFFIELD, BIRMINGHAM, and GALLANT arrived Rosyth at 1830.

 

11. NEWCASTLE was informed by the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, at 1521 that if at 1800 she had no information of the enemy she was to return to harbour.

 

12. On 23rd June, I received the Commander in Chief, Nore's 2248/22 informing Admiralty that in view of the dark nights approaching during the following week he had intended to move the 18th C.S. to the Humber not later than 29th June.

 

13. Admiralty 1832/23 directed the 18th Cruiser Squadron at Rosyth to revert to the operational control of the Commander in Chief, Nore, and stated that one cruiser could be at extended notice for boiler cleaning. SHEFFIELD was placed at 12 hours' notice for full speed and 8 hours' notice for 24 knots to facilitate minor machinery repairs and give night leave.

 

14. Admiralty 1325/23 ordered GALLANT and WALPOLE to sail for Dover and Sheerness, respectively, on completion of their present duties. Admiralty approved Commander in Chief, Rosyth's request that they remain at Rosyth until the arrival of WILK in case she required destroyer escort. They eventually escorted BELFAST to Plymouth. JACKAL and JAGUAR arrived at Rosyth from the Humber at 0500 on 26th June to form part of my force.

 

15. NEWCASTLE sailed from Scapa a.m. 25th June arriving Rosyth at 1800.

 

16. As a result of further investigation it appeared that repairs to BIRMINGHAM would take three days. I proposed in my 1411/25 to Commander in Chief, Rosyth that she should dock a.m. 26th June. Transfer of my flag would take place at Immingham if necessary.

 

17. On receipt of this message, Commander in Chief, Nore, asked what cruisers of the 18th Cruiser Squadron were intended to be under his operational orders, observing that he intended on moving them to the Humber on 29th June. Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, in his 1128/26 informed Admiralty that one ship of the 18th Cruiser Squadron in rotation should be at Scapa for much needed practices. This would leave MANCHESTER, SHEFFIELD, and NEWCASTLE available for Commander in Chief, Nore until 30th June and subsequently three from BIRMINGHAM, SOUTHAMPTON, SHEFFIELD, and NEWCASTLE. I was to select the ship to proceed to Scapa for practices.

 

18. I had represented verbally to Commander in Chief, Nore the unsuitability of the Humber as a base for large cruisers. He informed me that in view of my representations, he intended the 18th Cruiser Squadron should spend more time at sea. I was to sail with the 18th Cruiser Squadron, JACKAL and JAGUAR so as to arrive in the Humber before dark on 29th June, sail thence on 30th June or 1st July by the convoy route, pass through gap E, cruiser south or southeast of Brown Ridge and return to the Humber on 2nd or 3rd July. Four destroyers from Harwich would join me northwest of gap E (Commander in Chief, Nore's 1240/26).

 

19. I informed Commander in Chief, Nore of my intended movements as follows:

 

(1). Docking of BIRMINGHAM delayed by weather and it now seems improbable ship will be ready to leave Rosyth before Sunday 30th June.

 

(2). Intend to sail in MANCHESTER with NEWCASTLE and SHEFFIELD at 0515 Saturday 29th arriving Immingham 1930.

 

(3). Transfer of flag to BIRMINGHAM to take place after return of squadron from patrol off Brown Ridge on 3rd July. MANCHESTER then to proceed eastabout to Portsmouth to refit.

 

(4). When SOUTHAMPTON becomes available SHEFFIELD to proceed to Scapa for practices.

 

(0815/27)

 

20. I also informed him of my reasons for objecting to the Humber as an operational base:

 

(1). My dislike of the Humber of operational base for large cruisers is mainly on account of long approach through water too shallow to admit use of paravanes or for degaussing to afford security with strong cross tides which make close adherence to a narrow swept channel difficult at all times and virtually impossible in misty weather. Further objects are the danger in leaving harbour on an ebb tide particularly at night and the absence of any effective A/B or A/S obstructions.

 

(2). In view of restricted area available for patrol, its proximity to enemy coast and the likelihood of encountering "E" boats which will entail maintenance of high speed at night with corresponding danger of disclosure of presence of Squadron to aircraft, request arrangements may be made for fullest degree of air protection whilst on patrol.

 

(0845/27)

 

21. Commander in Chief, Nore requested Flag Officer in Charge, Humber to do all that was possible to keep the 18th Cruiser Squadron safe from mines and other dangers during their stay. He was later asked by the Admiralty for remarks on my 0845, and replied as follows:

 

(1). To comply with Admiralty's desire that 18th Cruiser Squadron should be available to repel invasion south of the Wash it is essential to use Humber or Portsmouth.

 

(2). Both have drawbacks, but Portsmouth is too far from Commander in Chief, Home Fleet. At Humber some 30 merchant ships have been entering or leaving daily and the proportion mined is very small.

 

(3). Cross tides may be mitigated by using QZS 72 instead of QZS 199.

 

(4). I recognized the risks involved but would rather face them than admit defeat and accept the view that we cannot base cruisers in easy reach of the East Coast and cannot send them for cruises eastward of the Mine Barrier.

 

(5). A decision on points of such importance must be largely a matter for the Admiralty after balancing the possible damage to our ships against the probability of invasion and the strength of the covering force that the enemy is expected to bring.

 

(1214/28).

 

22. In my 1400/18 I informed the Commander in Chief, Nore of the itinerary I proposed to follow. This was based on the assumption that the object was to maintain a cruiser force at sea in readiness to intercept an invading force. Consequently the water southeastward of Brown Ridge had been avoided to obtain security from degaussing equipment which should be effective in over 15 fathoms. If it were essential to enter this shallow area, I asked for information as to the intended object.

 

23. Commander in Chief, Home Fleet remaking on my proposed itinerary and Commander in Chief, Nore's 1214, stated that he deduced from the whereabouts of main German units issued by the Admiralty on 25th June that at present the covering force for an invasion in the southern part of the North Sea was unlikely to consist of any enemy warships larger than destroyers. Unless there was any information that invasion was likely on 30th June, 1st July, or 2nd July, he did not understand how the proposed cruiser was likely to be to our advantage.

 

24. Information was received at 1100 on 28th that the River Humber was closed to traffic due to suspected magnetic mines, and at 0345 on 29th that there appeared to have been considerable minelaying by aircraft between Farne Island and Seaham during the night. The Tyne was closed.

 

25. At 0506 on 29th, ten minutes before the cruisers were due to sail, I was ordered by the Commander in Chief, Nore, to postpone sailing and in his 1144 he informed me that he intended me to remain at Rosyth until a.m. 1st July.

 

26. At 1429. Commander in Chief, Nore's 1206 was received giving a suggested revised itinerary based on adhering to swept channels inside the mine barrier. The object of the operation was reconnaissance. He also informed me in his 1508/29 that if I preferred it, he would have no objection to my using Sheerness or Southend instead of, or alternately with, the Humber. I replied to him at 2245 that I intended to comply with his proposed itinerary, proceeding to Sheerness on completion.

 

27. At 2145, on 29th orders were received from Admiralty for available forces at Scapa and Rosyth to come to short notice for steam. I ordered cruisers at Rosyth to keep steam for 24 knots at 15 minutes' notice. Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, informed Admiralty that fleet at Scapa was at one hour's notice and that he presumed that under these and like circumstances ships of the 18th Cruiser Squadron at Rosyth would come under his orders. Admiralty replied in their 0040/30 that in view of possible requirements in the southern area it was considered necessary in existing circumstances for Admiralty directions to be issued on each occasion when it was necessary for the 18th Cruiser Squadron to come under the orders of the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet.

 

28. At 0034/30 Admiralty ordered ships at Scapa and Rosyth to revert to usual notice for steam. It was not known for certain why steam had been raised, but it appeared from intercepted messages that intercepted signals had given rise to a suspicion that enemy forces including transports might be approaching the Scottish coast from the eastward.

 

29. I asked Commander in Chief, Nore, in my 1212/30 if any information could be given as to the intended movements of the 18th Cruiser Squadron under his orders so that arrangements could be made for transfer of my flag to BIRMINGHAM and for movements of personnel, mails, and stores. I informed him that my choice of Sheerness was based on the assumption that Q.Z.F. 10 was available and that I considered it undesirable that ships should remain concentrated at either Sheerness, Southend of Immingham for more than two or three days. I presumed that consideration had been given to the desirability of dispersing ships in order to minimize the risk of their all being mined in. Commander in Chief, Nore replied that the future movements of the 18th Cruiser Squadron could not be forecast until after my arrival at Sheerness. BIRMINGHAM was to be sailed for Sheerness as soon as ready.

 

30. MANCHESTER, SHEFFIELD, NEWCASTLE, JACKAL, and JAGUAR sailed from Rosyth at 0500 on 1st July. YORK was left at Rosyth with instructions to be at four hours' notice for steam during the daytime and at one hour's notice from 2000 to 0600 daily.

 

 


 

 

 VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING 18TH CRUISER SQUADRON

 

WAR DIARY

 

1st TO 15TH JULY 1940

 

Dispositions of ships on 1st July:

MANCHESTER, SHEFFIELD, NEWCASTLE - At Rosyth under orders of the Commander in Chief, Nore, for operational purposes.

 

BIRMINGHAM - At Rosyth completing repairs

 

SOUTHAMPTON - At Scapa to work up

 

GLASGOW - At Liverpool for repairs – due to complete 5th July

 

EDINBURGH - At the Tyne for repairs – due to complete 20th October

MANCHESTER, SHEFFIELD, NEWCASTLE sailed from Rosyth at 0500, 1st July with JACKAL and JAGUAR in company, and proceeded by swept channels to arrive Aldeburgh Light Float at 2359.

 

2. While on passage, the following dispositions were ordered by A.T. 1724/1:

 

On completion of sweep NEWCASTLE to proceed to Plymouth to relieve GALATEA who was to rejoin Commander in Chief, Nore.

 

MANCHESTER on relief by BIRMINGHAM to proceed to Portsmouth where she was to be at eight hours' notice for steam and carry out such repairs as were possible at that notice.

 

The Vice Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron, with BIRMINGHAM and SHEFFIELD to remain based on the Nore.

 

GALATEA, CARDIFF, and AURORA when ready, to be based on the Humber.

 

Amplifying instructions were subsequently received in A.T. 1554/2 to the effect that MANCHESTER was to be under the operational orders of Commander in Chief, Nore, and NEWCASTLE under those of Commander in Chief, Western Approaches.

 

3. Admiralty also stated that if a seaborne attack on the British Isles was to be attempted by the enemy during the month of July, there was reason to believe it would be launched during the next ten days (A.T. 2353/1).

 

4. At 2200 on the 1st July, my force was joined, at Smith's Knoll by MALCOLM, VENOMOUS, ACHATES, and AMBUSCADE from Harwich. All ships proceeded to Aldeburgh Light Float and thence to Brown Ridge. At 0115, in estimated position 52-14N, 02-46E, a red flare in the sky was seen bearing 125 degrees which lasted for five minutes. Nothing else of interest was noted. At 0600, NEWCASTLE was detached to Plymouth, the destroyers to the Humber and Harwich, and MANCHESTER and SHEFFIELD proceeded to Sheerness, arriving there at 0750 2nd July.

 

5. BIRMINGHAM arrived at Sheerness from Rosyth at 1230 3rd July. My flag was transferred to her at 0800 on 4th July and MANCHESTER sailed for Portsmouth at 1215, 4th July.

 

6. On 1st July, Commander in Chief, Nore, had ordered the following dispositions to be maintained each night, commencing 2nd July:

 

A. Three Harwich destroyers on patrol between Smith's Knoll and 54B buoy (52-27N, 2-06E.

 

B. CARDIFF and three Harwich destroyers on patrol in swept channel about seven miles each side of Aldeburgh Light Float.

 

C. Two destroyers of the 21st Destroyer Flotilla at anchor in swept Channel in vicinity of North East Spit Buoy, during dark hours. Steam to be kept on main engines and cable on a slip. Object to repel invasion in Margate area or reinforce Dover destroyers if so ordered.

 

All the above were to leave their patrol or anchorage at daylight and return to harbour except two Harwich destroyers, who were to carry out patrol O (between 52-46N and 52-00N) by day. CARDIFF to return to harbour.

 

7. On 5th July, Commander in Chief, Nore, requested me to detail a cruiser to replace CARDIFF on patrol M. SHEFFIELD was detailed and proceeded at 1800, returning to Sheerness at daylight on 6th July.

 

Patrol M was subsequently carried out as follows:

6/7th July – BIRMINGHAM, who returned to Southend on completion.

 

7/8th July – CARDIFF

 

8/9th July - No patrol M, but SHEFFIELD and three Harwich destroyers carried out Patrol O in lieu

 

9/10th July – CARDIFF

 

10/11th July – BIRMINGHAM who returned to Sheerness on completion

 

11/12th July – SHEFFIELD

No incidents of interest were reported during the patrols, except that at 2124 on 10th July, Naval Officer in Charge, Harwich informed MALCOLM, who was on patrol 'O' that firing had been heard and a smoke screen seen off Aldeburgh. BIRMINGHAM was then in that vicinity and at 2200 reported no enemy in sight. At 2355, Commander in Chief, Nore, ordered ships to remain on patrol until 0700 next morning because no air reconnaissance had taken place that night. However, BIRMINGHAM and other ships reported enemy aircraft in their vicinity at 0540 and Commander in Chief, Nore, ordered BIRMINGHAM to return to harbour.

 

8. On 10th July, Commander in Chief, Nore, asked me whether, as there was not a half moon which did not set until after midnight, I would prefer to keep all cruisers in harbour at night until the moon waned. I replied that I would prefer not to patrol on these nights.

 

The dispositions referred to in paragraph 6 were cancelled and revised destroyer patrols were substituted. Cruisers were not to patrol unless specially ordered.

 

9. On 11th July, Admiralty stated that no further information was available with regard to an attempted invasion. Every vigilance was to continue to be exercised, but boiler cleaning should be carried out.

 

BIRMINGHAM was placed at half-hour's notice for steam for 25 knots between 2130 and 0400 each night and at four hours' notice during the daytime on the 14th and 15th for boiler cleaning and engineroom repairs. Arrangements were also made for the H.A.C.S. table for BIRMINGHAM to be sent from Rosyth to Sheerness for installation.

 

On the previous day, Commander in Chief, Nore, proposed to Admiralty that the MANCHESTER be taken in hand for refit as early as possible after 15th July. No reply has been received, but it is understood that the ship will not be taken in hand until after the return of the FIJI to the United Kingdom.

 

10. On 14th July, I informed all concerned that I intended SHEFFIELD to proceed to Scapa for practices, leaving Sheerness on 16th July. I requested Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, to sail GLASGOW or SOUTHAMPTON at the same time for Sheerness. GLASGOW's working up practices had, however, been interrupted by ad weather and Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, ordered the change to be deferred until 19th July. I then intended SHEFFIELD to be placed at four hours' notice during the day for minor engine room repairs on 16th and 17th July. Steam would still be at half hour's notice during the night.

 

11. At 2323 on 14th July, Admiralty ordered all forces to be brought to short notice for steam as unusual wireless activity indicated possibility of enemy move. Cruisers at Sheerness were brought to half an hour's notice. Admiralty cancelled their orders at 0603 and ships reverted to usual notice for steam.

 

12. Activities of other ships of the Squadron so far as I am aware of them were as follows:

 

SOUTHAMPTON in company with COVENTRY left Scapa at 0220, 6th July, to cover COSSACK, MAORI, FAME, and FORTUNE who had proceeded to locate and escort SHARK, who reported herself at 2250, 5th July as unable to dive.

 

The force was heavily bombed on 6th July, FAME being hit after and proceeded to Rosyth without having located the SHARK. The force, less FAME, left Rosyth for Scapa on 7th, arriving without incident on 8th July.

 

GLASGOW sailed from Liverpool at 1100 , 7th July for Scapa to work up.

 

NEWCASTLE arrived Plymouth 2109, 2nd July. An auxiliary warship disguised as a Russian was reported in 51-42N, 07-15W at 0500 on 11th July and NEWCASTLE was ordered at 1333/12th July to take MACKAY and VISCOUNT under her orders and carry out a patrol off the south coast of Ireland. At 1308/13th July, she was ordered, in the absence of further information, to leave her patrol so as to arrive Plymouth a.m. 14th July.

 

 


 

  

REAR ADMIRAL, SECOND IN COMMAND, 18th CRUISER SQUADRON

 

RECORD OF EVENTS

MONDAY, 1ST JULY TO MONDAY, 15th July 1940

 

From: THE REAR ADMIRAL, EIGHTEENTH CRUISER SQUADRON

 

Date: 15th JULY 1940, No. 35/160/2

 

To: THE SECRETARY OF THE ADMIRALTY

 

(Copy to – Vice Admiral Commanding, Eighteenth Cruiser Squadron

 

The following report covering the period 1st to 15th July, 1940, is forwarded for the information of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, in continuation of my submission No. 31/160/2 of 2nd July 1940.

 

2. With the exception of a period between 0045 on 6th July and 1200 on 8th July, H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON has been based on Scapa from 1st to 15th July, without any events of importance taking place. During the two days referred to above the ship was acting, with others, under my orders, in support of H.M. Submarine SHARK when the latter was damaged off the Norwegian coast. My narrative of events in this operation has been forwarded to the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet. (My submission No. 160/10 dated 9th July).

 

3. While at Scapa, opportunity has been taken to carry out gunnery firings and practices and drills; these have however, been hampered by a certain extent by bad weather.

 

4. H.M.S. GLASGOW arrived at Scapa on 8th July, from Liverpool on completion of docking and repairs, and has since been carrying out similar practices.

 

(sgd) M.L. Clarke

 

Rear Admiral

 

 


 

 

VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING 18TH CRUISER SQUADRON

 

WAR DIARY

 

16TH TO 31ST JULY 1940

 

Disposition of ships 16th July

BIRMINGHAM (Vice Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron) - Sheerness

 

SHEFFIELD - Sheerness

 

SOUTHAMPTON (Rear Admiral, 18th Cruiser Squadron) - Scapa

 

GLASGOW - Scapa

 

MANCHESTER - Portsmouth (at 8 hours' notice)

 

NEWCASTLE - Plymouth

 

EDINBURGH - Tyne for repairs, due to complete 20th October

 

FIJI (attached) - On passage from Bermuda to United Kingdom

(BIRMINGHAM, SHEFFIELD, and MANCHESTER temporary under orders of Commander in Chief, Nore)

 

(NEWCASTLE temporarily under orders of Commander in Chief, Western Approaches).

 

At the commencement of the period, the normal notice for steam for ships at Sheerness was half hour from 2130 to 0400 and two and a half hours during the remainder of the day.

 

2. At 2355 on 16th July, in fog, GLASGOW collided with the IMOGEN eight miles southeast from Duncansby Head. IMOGEN was struck near "B" gun, all boiler rooms and part of the fore part of the ship becoming flooded. Fire broke out and she was abandoned and presumably sank. GLASGOW sustained considerable damage forward and sailed from Scapa at 1800/19th to Liverpool to be taken in hand for repairs by Harland and Wolff. It was estimated that repairs would take six weeks.

 

3. As a result of the damage to GLASGOW, Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, ordered SOUTHAMPTON to sail for Sheerness on 19th July in her place to interchange with the SHEFFIELD. SOUTHAMPTON sailed accordingly. One of her aircraft which was to have been disembarked to Royal Naval Air Station Hatston crashed on taking off and sank.

 

SHEFFIELD sailed from Sheerness for Scapa at 0815/19.

 

4. Lieutenant Commander Opie, Assistant United States Naval Attache visited BIRMINGHAM at Sheerness on 20th July.

 

5. Commander in Chief, Nore, in his 1536/20, ordered steam to be kept as follows with effect from the 20th July –

From 0500 to 2100 – 2 ½ hours' notice

 

From 2100 to 0500 – ½ hour's notice.

6. BIRMINGHAM proceeded from Sheerness to Southend at 2100 on 20th July and the SOUTHAMPTON anchored there on arrival from Scapa. Both ships returned to Sheerness p.m. 23rd July.

 

7. On return to Sheerness, each ship cleaned boilers in turn. With the approval of the Commander in Chief, Nore, each ship was placed at eight hours' notice for steam for two days while the work was in progress to enable small engine room defects to be made good, and advantage was taken of the opportunity to give night leave once to each watch.

 

8. On 26th July, orders were received for SHEFFIELD to be ready to leave the United Kingdom by 11th August to join Force H (Admiralty telegram 1157/26). This date was subsequently amended by Admiralty telegraph 1713/29th to read 19th August. SHEFFIELD arrived Govan on 30th July to dock and give four days' leave to each watch before sailing.

 

9. Commander in Chief, Nore, directed that patrol "O" (from 52-45N to 52-00N) was for the present to be carried out only by night, ships leaving harbour before dark and leaving patrol at 0500 daily (Commander in Chief, Nore's 1249/29) and in his 1226/31 that cruisers would not be employed on this patrol until the mine situation in the swept channels had been cleared up.

 

10. BIRMINGHAM and SOUTHAMPTON shifted berth to Southend at 2000 on 28th July.

 

11. On 19th July, Admiralty had said that it was anticipated that MANCHESTER would be taken in hand for refit when FIJI had been docked and was ready for service. (Admiralty telegram 1224/19th). FIJI was due to completed on 31st July and in my 1243/31, I directed her to proceed to Scapa on completion unless otherwise ordered by Commander in Chief, Home Fleet. Admiralty Telegram 1623/31, however, said that it would not be possible to spare MANCHESTER for refit before the autumn and it was proposed that she be prepared for sea by the end of the week and sailed to rejoin the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet.

 

12. Owing to low visibility and the consequent absence of air patrol, ships were also kept at half hour's notice during the day for the following periods.

16th - 0837-1304 - BIRMINGHAM and SHEFFIELD

 

After 1304 - BIRMINGHAM for the rest of the day

 

17th - All day - SHEFFIELD

 

18th - 0436-1200 - BIRMINGHAM

 

25th - 0520-0845 - BIRMINGHAM and SOUTHAMPTON

 

30th - 0500-0935 - BIRMINGHAM and SOUTHAMPTON

 

31st -0500-1126 - BIRMINGHAM and SOUTHAMPTON

 


 

 

REAR ADMIRAL, SECOND IN COMMAND, 18TH CRUISER SQUADRON

 

RECORD OF EVENTS

 

TUESDAY 16TH JULY TO WEDNESDAY, 31ST JULY, 1940, INCLUSIVE

 

From: THE REAR ADMIRAL, 18TH CRUISER SQUADRON

 

Date: 2nd AUGUST 1940, No. 48/160/2

 

To: THE SECRETARY OF THE ADMIRALTY

 

(copy to Vice Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron)

 

The following report covering the period 16th to 31st July, 1940, is forwarded for the information of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, in continuation of my submission No. 35/160/2 dated 15th July 1940.

 

2. On 16th and 17th July 1940, H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON was one ship of a force operating from Scapa under my orders in an attempted interception of enemy forces in the North Sea.

 

3. During the operation H.M.S. Ships GLASGOW and IMOGEN collided in thick fog, resulting in the loss of the destroyer. My narrative during this period, and a full report concerning the loss of the IMOGEN has been rendered to the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, under my submission No. 160 dated 18th July 1940. I attended a Board of Inquiry into the circumstances of the collision, held on 18th July 1940.

 

4. It had been the intention that H.M.S. GLASGOW should proceed to Sheerness to relieve H.M.S. SHEFFIELD there, but the damage sustained in the collision necessitated docking and the ship sailed for Liverpool at 1800 on 19th July 1940.

 

5. On 18th July, instructions were received from the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet (signal 2140 of 17th July), that the SOUTHAMPTON was to sail for Sheerness on 19th July in place of GLASGOW to relieve the SHEFFIELD.

 

6. During the afternoon, SOUTHAMPTON's Walrus aircraft No. P.5651 crashed while taking off in a choppy sea for disembarkation to Hatston and sank. The crew were saved. A report on this matter had been forwarded to the Admiralty under my submission No. 45/200/1 of 1st August 1940.

 

7. H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON left Scapa for Sheerness on 19th July 1940, passing Hoxa Gate at 1400. SHEFFIELD had left Sheerness at 0800 the same day.

 

8. During the passage south, fire was opened on hostile aircraft on three occasions – at 2000 on 19th July, and at 0700 and 1300 on 20th July. Two bombs were dropped wide at 2000.

 

9. At about 1600 on 20th July, instructions were received from the Vice Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron, at Sheerness in H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM, that SOUTHAMPTON was to anchor off Southend, and this was done at 1700. H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM arrived from Sheerness and anchored nearby at 2100.

 

10. The following normal notice for steam was received from the Vice Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron:

0500 to 2100 - for 24 knots at 2 ½ hours notice. For full speed at 4 hours notice.

 

2100 to 0500 - for 24 knots at ½ hour's notice. For full speed at 2 hours notice.

11. BIRMINGHAM and SOUTHAMPTON proceeded into Sheerness at 2030 on 23rd July and returned to Southend p.m. on Sunday 28th July.

 

12. During the period 24th to 31st July, no events of importance occurred. Opportunity was taken to clean boilers, and the extended notice for steam while this was being done enabled one night's leave to be given to each watch.

 

(sgd). M.L. Clarke

 

REAR ADMIRAL

 


 

 

VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING 18TH CRUISER SQUADRON

 

WAR DIARY

 

1ST TO 15TH AUGUST 1940

 

Disposition of ships on 1st August

H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM (Vice Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron) - Southend

 

H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON (Rear Admiral, 18th Cruiser Squadron) - Southend

 

H.M.S. MANCHESTER - Portsmouth (at 8 hours' notice)

 

H.M.S. GLASGOW- Liverpool for damage repairs, due to complete 9th September

 

H.M.S. EDINBURGH - Tyne for repairs to complete 20th October

 

H.M.S. FIJI (attached) - Clyde for docking

2. At the beginning of this period, normal notice for steam for ships at the Nore was half an hour from 2130 to 0400 and two and a half hours during the remainder of the day. On 6th August the period at half hour's notice was altered to 2100 to 0600. On 9th August, the normal notice between 0600 and 2100 was altered to four hours, but on 14th August it reverted to two and a half hours. The periods during which H.M. Ships BIRMINGHAM and SOUTHAMPTON were at shorter notice due to low visibility etc. are included in the following chronological statement.

 

3.

 

1st August 1700 - H.M. Ships BIRMINGHAM and SOUTHAMPTON proceed from Southend to Sheerness.

 

2nd August - H.M. Ships BIRMINGHAM and SOUTHAMPTON at half an hour's notice until 0816.

 

4th August - H.M. Ships BIRMINGHAM and SOUTHAMPTON at half an hour's notice until 0959 – H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON throughout the day.

 

5th August H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON at half an hour's notice until 0959 – H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM throughout the day.

 

6th August - H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM at half an hour's notice until 0935 – H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON throughout the day.

 

7th August - H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON at half an hour's notice until 0814 – H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM throughout the day.

 

8th August - H.M. Ships BIRMINGHAM and SOUTHAMPTON at half an hour's notice until 0803.

H.M. Ships BIRMINGHAM, CAMPBELL, and WINDSOR sailed for Patrol "O" at 1700, returning to Southend at 0615/9.

10th August- H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM and SOUTHAMPTON at half an hour's notice until 0745.

1930, H.M. Ships BIRMINGHAM and SOUTHAMPTON proceeded from Southend to Sheerness.

11th August - H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM at eight hours' notice for 12 hours from 0800 to refit new bellows piece to condenser.

 

13th August - H.M. Ships BIRMINGHAM and SOUTHAMPTON at half an hour's notice from 0649 to 1053 and at one hour's notice from 1054 to 1839.

During the morning H.M. Ships BIRMINGHAM and SOUTHAMPTON opened fire on hostile aircraft over Sheerness.

 

Admiralty ordered no ships to be taken in hand for boiler cleaning or refit until further orders (Admiralty Telegram 1031/13).

14th August - Admiralty stated routine boiler cleaning might be carried out, but no ships were to be taken in hand for refit at present. (Admiralty Telegram 1155/14).

 

15th August - H.M. Ships BIRMINGHAM and SOUTHAMPTON at half an hour's notice until 0727.

During the afternoon, H.M. Ships BIRMINGHAM and SOUTHAMPTON opened fire on hostile aircraft over Sheerness.

PART II

 

Admiralty stated on 31st July that H.M.S. MANCHESTER could not be spared for refit before the autumn and that she was to sail to join Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, at the end of the week. As a result of representations that some 450 officers and men had not seen their homes since November – December 1939, that the majority of the officers and men had only had seven days' leave in two years and that the ship was ten months out of dock, Admiralty approved the she should dock on 10th August and give seven days leave in one batch while docking (Admiralty telegram 2306/1). A further proposal that the ship should remain in dock for 12 days to fit bow clumps was not approved. (Admiralty telegram 1052/7).

 

2. In my 1029/1 about the docking of H.M.S. MANCHESTER, I proposed that, if her refit was to be deferred for some months, I should transfer my flag back to her and proceed to Scapa for practices, relieving H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM at Sheerness on completion. If it was desired to maintain a cruiser at Portsmouth, I proposed H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM should go there temporarily on transfer of flag, H.M.S. FIJI proceeding to the Nore.

 

On 6th August, Admiralty ordered H.M.S. MANCHESTER to sail from Portsmouth on completion of leave and docking as required by Commander in Chief, Home Fleet. For the present, two ships of the 18th Cruiser Squadron were to remain at the Nore under Commander in Chief, Nore, and one at Plymouth under Commander in Chief, Western Approaches (Admiralty telegram 2354/6). Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, ordered the MANCHESTER and BIRMINGHAM to proceed independently to Scapa on completion of MANCHESTER's refit. H.M.S. FIJI would be sailed to relieve H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM at the Nore.

 

3. In his 2050/6 Commander in Chief, Nore, informed me that it seemed doubtful if cruisers in the Nore Command were getting enough sea time or gunnery practices and he asked for any suggestions. He raised the same point in his 1108/7 to Admiralty and proposed that, during the periods when invasion was possible, half the 18th and half the 2nd Cruiser Squadron should be kept at Rosyth or Scapa and the other half in the Nore Command. A continual change round in rotation would provide adequate sea time and practices for all ships and would ensure that all ships of both squadrons were acquainted with the East Coast channels. Admiralty concurred except that one of the 18th Cruiser Squadron was to be maintained at Plymouth (Admiralty Telegram 1924/7).

 

4. I informed Commander in Chief, Nore that I considered the best solution was that advanced in his 1108/7 to Admiralty, though I observed that firings could no longer be carried out at Rosyth. I told him I had discussed the matter with Rear Admiral, 18th Cruiser Squadron, who was of the opinion that H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON would benefit from a further rest period in harbour after her recent spell of sea time under trying conditions.

 

I thought some value could be obtained from sub caliber practices near West Swin or in Black Deep, but such practices would not reduce the desirability of going to Scapa.

 

Finally, I doubted whether the benefits obtained from going to sea with no operational object were commensurate with the risks run, but stated I would welcome the opportunity of carrying out some offensive operation, such as a bombardment of the works understood to be in progress at Cape Grisnez(C.S. 18 1845/8).

 

 


 

 

REAR ADMIRAL, SECOND IN COMMAND, 18TH CRUISER SQUADRON

 

RECORD OF EVENTS

 

Thursday, 1st AUGUST TO THURSDAY, 15th AUGUST 1940, INCLUSIVE

 

From: THE REAR ADMIRAL, 18TH CRUISER SQUADRON

 

Date: 24TH AUGUST 1940No. 53/160/2

 

To: THE SECRETARY OF THE ADMIRALTY

 

(Copy to Vice Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron)

 

The following report covering the period 1st to 15th August 1940 is forwarded for the information of the Lord Commissioners of the Admiralty in continuation of my submission No. 48/160/2 dated 2nd August 1940.

 

PART I CHRONOLOGICAL DIARY OF EVENTS

 

1st August - BIRMINGHAM and SOUTHAMPTON proceeded p.m. from Southend to Sheerness

 

7th August - BIRMINGHAM and SOUTHAMPTON proceeded p.m. from Sheerness to anchorage off Southend.

 

8th August p.m. - BIRMINGHAM proceeded to sea for patrol, returning at 0600 the following day.

 

9th August - At 2240 white flares were dropped in the vicinity by enemy aircraft flying at a great height.

 

10th August - BIRMINGHAM and SOUTHAMPTON returned to Sheerness.

 

11th August - Flares were dropped to seaward by enemy aircraft.

 

13th August - At 0700 SOUTHAMPTON opened fire on formation of enemy aircraft flying in the vicinity of Sheerness. No bombs were dropped. Twenty seven round of 4" H.E. ammunition were expended.

 

15th August - SOUTHAMPTON opened fire on aircraft at 1320. Fifty five rounds of 4" H.E. were expended.

 

PART II SURVEY OF EVENTS

 

During the period under report sixty eight "Yellow" and fourteen "Red" warnings were received.

 

(sgd) M.L. Clarke

 

REAR ADMIRAL

 

 


 

 

VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING 18TH CRUISER SQUADRON

 

WAR DIARY

 

16th – 31st AUGUST 1940

 

 

DISPOSITION OF SHIPS – 16TH AUGUST

H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM (Vice Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron) - Sheerness, due to sail for Scapa for practices 20th August

 

H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON (Rear Admiral, 18th Cruiser Squadron) - Sheerness

 

H.M.S. MANCHESTER - Portsmouth, docking and giving leave, due to sail for Scapa on completion 20th August

 

H.M.S. GLASGOW - Liverpool for damage repairs due to complete 9th September

 

H.M.S. NEWCASTLE - Plymouth under orders of Commander in Chief, Western Approaches

 

H.M.S. EDINBURGH - Tyne for repairs, due to complete 20th October

 

H.M.S. FIJI (attached) - Scapa, due to relieve H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM at Sheerness on 21st August

16th August - Ships at the Nore were placed at the following normal notice for steam –

0600 to 2100- four hours

 

2100 to 0600 - half an hour

 

Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, informed Commander in Chief, Nore, that is was doubtful if H.M.S. FIJI would be available to relieve H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM: her place might be taken by H.M.S. AJAX on completion of repairs, date of which was not known. (CinC, HF 1511/16).

 

Admiralty directed that in view of heavy air attacks in the Thames area, H.M. Ships BIRMINGHAM and SOUTHAMPTON were to sail for Rosyth. (Admiralty telegram 1726/16)

17th August - 1800 H.M. Ships BIRMINGHAM and SOUTHAMPTON sailed for Rosyth

 

18th August - Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, cancelled his previous statement, regarding H.M.S. FIJI and said she would be sailed to arrive Rosyth on 20th August. (CinC, HF, 0933/18)

1245. H.M. Ships BIRMINGHAM and SOUTHAMPTON arrived Rosyth.

19th August - As air reconnaissance was unsatisfactory, Commander in Chief Nore ordered H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON to remain at half an hour's notice until 0806 and H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM until 0945.

 

20th August - 2030. H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM sailed from Rosyth for Scapa

2000. H.M.S. MANCHESTER sailed from Portsmouth for Scapa

 

Both ships were to carry out practice firings which were overdue. H.M.S. MANCHESTER especially having experienced numerous changes in personnel.

21st August- 0700. H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM arrived Scapa

 

22nd August - 1800. H.M.S. MANCHESTER arrived Scapa, having been unsuccessfully attacked by an aircraft in position 52-05N, 03-41W en route.

 

25th August - 2310. Ships at Scapa were ordered to raise steam with all despatch due to there having been some activity off the south coast in which six enemy surface ships were reported to be involved.

An aircraft minelaying raid took place on the Flow during the night.

26th August - 0140. Ships at Scapa, with the exception of H.M. Ships GALATEA and CARDIFF, who had been ordered to the Humber, reverted to normal notice for steam. H.M.S. MANCHESTER shifted berth clear of the dangerous area.

A further aircraft minelaying raid took place during the night.

28th August - Instructions were received that H.M.S. NEWCASTLE was to act as ocean escort from the United Kingdom to the Azores for convoy AP 3, due to sail from Liverpool on 8th September.

 

29th August - Flag of Vice Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron, was transferred from H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM to H.M.S. MANCHESTER.

In view of a report of a concentration of shipping a the Helder, Admiralty ordered H.M. Ships MANCHESTER and BIRMINGHAM to be sailed forthwith for Rosyth and be placed, together with H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON, under the operational orders of Commander in Chief, Nore. (Admiralty telegram 2008/29)

30th August - H.M.S. MANCHESTER and BIRMINGHAM sailed from Scapa, arriving Rosyth at 1030.

H.M.S. FIJI arrived Scapa from Rosyth and sailed again as ocean escort to convoy MP

 

Flag Officer in Charge, Liverpool, was asked to sail H.M.S. GLASGOW for Scapa on completion, which he anticipated would be 4th September.

31st August - As a result of aircraft reports of 15 merchant vessels steering 270 degrees from Borkum at 15 knots all forces were ordered to raise steam. H.M. Ships MANCHESTER, BIRMINGHAM, and SOUTHAMPTON were ordered by Commander in Chief, Nore, to proceed to the Humber with moderate despatch. They sailed at 0001, but were ordered to return to Rosyth at 0300/1st September.

 

PART II

 

After an inspection by the Constructor Commander, Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, informed Admiralty that it was essential for stiffening to be carried out in H.M.S. MANCHESTER and BIRMINGHAM before the ships experienced winter gales. H.M.S. MANCHESTER was in the worse condition and it was probable that it would take two to three months to complete the work. H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM might be completed in six to eight weeks. He said he would like H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM to be taken in hand forthwith so that one of the two would be prepared for winter work in the shortest time. (CinC, H.F. 2148/24).

 

Admiralty replied that it was considered preferable to retain H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM with the fleet until H.M.S. GLASGOW rejoined and H.M.S. MANCHESTER until H.M.S. NIGERIA or H.M.S. KENYA were worked up. (Admiralty telegram 1600/25).

 

 


 

 

REAR ADMIRAL, SECOND IN COMMAND, 18TH CRUISER SQUADRON

 

RECORD OF EVENTS

 

FRIDAY 16th AUGUST TO SUNDAY 1ST SEPTEMBER 1940, INCLUSIVE

 

From: THE REAR ADMIRAL, 18TH CRUISER SQUADRON

 

Date: 5TH SEPTEMBER 1940, No. 56/160/2

 

To: THE SECRETARY OF THE ADMIRALTY

 

(copy to Vice Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron)

 

The following report covering the period 16th August to 1st September 1940, is forwarded for the information of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty in continuation of my submission No. 53/160/2 dated 24th August 1940.

 

Part I Chronological Diary of Events

 

16th August - At Sheerness. A very large number of aircraft passed overhead at 1700, above the clouds. There was no opportunity to engage them.

In view of the heavy air attacks in the Thames Estuary, Admiralty instructed (1726/16) that BIRMINGHAM and SOUTHAMPTON were to be sailed for Rosyth.

17th August - At 1800 BIRMINGHAM (Vice Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron) and SOUTHAMPTON (Rear Admiral, 18th Cruiser Squadron) left Sheerness for Rosyth via position Z at 2100 and Outer Dowsing at 0230 on 18th August. Passage was uneventful.

 

18th August - At 1100 arrived at Rosyth and berthed above the Forth Bridge.

 

20th August - FIJI left Scapa for Rosyth at 0600 to replace BIRMINGHAM, arriving Rosyth at 2000. BIRMINGHAM left Rosyth for Scapa at 2030.

 

23rd August - p.m. RODNEY arrived for docking and leave.

 

24th August - RODNEY docked 0600. HOOD and screen left Rosyth for Scapa at 1900.

 

29th August - At 2200 FIJI sailed for Scapa after embarking two French aircraft for subsequent transfer to ARK ROYAL. In view of a report of concentration of German Merchant vessels, Admiralty (in signal 2003/29) instructed the Vice Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron in MANCHESTER and BIRMINGHAM to be sailed for Rosyth, to come, with SOUTHAMPTON, under the operational control of Commander in Chief, the Nore.

 

30th August - At 0110 MANCHESTER and BIRMINGHAM left Scapa arriving at Rosyth at 1200.

 

31st August - Between 2112 and 2155 aircraft reports were received of a large number of enemy ships in position 53-30N, 04-26E. Admiralty ordered all ships to raise steam.

At 2216, the Commander in Chief, Nore, instructed BIRMINGHAM, MANCHESTER and SOUTHAMPTON to raise steam and proceed for the Humber with moderate despatch.

1st September - The force sailed from Rosyth at 0030. BIRMINGHAM reported one P.V. was not running correctly and was ordered to follow the force down the war channel to Immingham. VERSATILE and VIMY joined north of Fidra at 0140. WOOLSTON joined later. At 0050 a W/T message was received that EXPRESS, ESK, and IVANHOE had been mined in position 53-30N, 03-47E.

At 0221, signal 0157 from the Commander in Chief, The Nore, was received, instructing the force to return to Rosyth. Course was altered to comply and all three ships returned to Rosyth, passing Oxcars by 0525. The destroyers were detached to Methil.

PART II SURVEY OF EVENTS

 

Advantage has been taken during the fortnight to carry out professional examinations of ratings, and as many training classes as possible.

 

H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON and H.M.S. FIJI, while at Rosyth, have been under the operational control of The Commander in Chief, The Nore.

 

(sgd) M.L. Clarke

 

REAR ADMIRAL

 

 


 

 

VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING 18TH CRUISER SQUADRON

 

WAR DIARY

 

1st September to 15th September 1940

 

DISPOSITION OF SHIPS – 1st SEPTEMBER

H.M.S. MANCHESTER (Vice Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron) - Rosyth under operational orders of Commander in Chief, Nore

 

H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON (Rear Admiral, 18th Cruiser Squadron) - Rosyth under operational orders of Commander in Chief, Nore

 

H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM - Rosyth under operational orders of Commander in Chief, Nore.

 

H.M.S. GLASGOW - Liverpool for damage reports, due to sail for Scapa on completion on 4th September

 

H.M.S. NEWCASTLE - Plymouth under orders of Commander in Chief, Western Approaches, due to act as ocean escort for convoy AP 3, sailing on 8th September.

 

H.M.S. EDINBURGH - Tyne for repairs, due to complete 20th October

 

H.M.S. FIJI (attached) - At sea as ocean escort for convoy MP

1st September - H.M.S. FIJI was torpedoed by a U boat in position 58-10N, 12-55W at 1700. Forward boiler room and five adjacent compartments flooded. She arrived Clyde on 3rd September for repairs estimated to take between three and four months.

 

3rd September - Orders were received from Commander in Chief, Nore, for H.M. Ships MANCHESTER, SOUTHAMPTON, and BIRMINGHAM to sail a.m. on 4th for Sheerness. One of the three could be left at the Humber if desired. The HOLDERNESS was to sail in company if ready. Destroyer escort from the Humber would be provided if required.

I informed Commander in Chief, Nore, that I intended to sail at 1245, arriving Sheerness at 0835, 5th September. H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON would anchor at Southend. I asked for two destroyers from the Humber to join me by 1945. Commander in Chief, Home Fleet remarked as follows:

 

Although ships of the 18th Cruiser Squadron have been removed from my operational control, I consider I may have a reversionary interest in them. I am of the opinion that they serve our Naval strategy better by operating as a squadron from an appropriate base such as Scapa for Rosyth than to expose them unprofitably by stationing them at Sheerness. I think it required more than a concentration of barges to justify such action.

 

To which Admiralty replied:

 

There are many indications other than concentrations of barges that arrangements for the attempted invasion are (1 group)(n.b. corrupt) and that it will be in the South.

 

The movement of the 18th Cruiser Squadron was in fact made at Admiralty suggestion.

4th September - 0946 I was ordered by Commander in Chief, Nore, to defer sailing and remain at 2 ½ hours' notice.

1021 - I was ordered by the Commander in Chief, Nore, to proceed; 1220 H.M. Ships MANCHESTER, SOUTHAMPTON, and BIRMINGHAM sailed for the Nore.

 

1755 - All three cruisers were ordered, by Admiralty, to proceed to the Humber.

 

H.M.S. HOLDERNESS was detached to reinforce the escort of F.N. 71 and cruisers arrived Immingham at 0057/5th September.

 

H.M.S. GLASGOW sailed from Liverpool for Scapa.

 

Admiralty stated that it had been decided to retain H.M.S. NEWCASTLE in Home Waters. Senior Officer, Force H, was to sail H.M.S. SHEFFIELD at best possible speed for the Clyde to take H.M.S. NEWCASTLE's place as ocean escort for convoy AP 3 which was now to sail on 10th September.

5th September - H.M. Ships GALATEA (Rear Admiral Commanding, 2nd Cruiser Squadron), AURORA, and CARDIFF sailed from Immingham for Sheerness.

 

6th September - Admiralty requested Commander in Chief, Home Fleet to sail H.M. Ships NAIAD and BONAVENTURE to join Commander in Chief, Nore as soon as convenient to relieve two of the 18th Cruiser Squadron. Turn over to take place in the Humber area.

 

7th September - At 0029, Commander in Chief, Nore, ordered cruisers, destroyers, and small craft to keep steam at immediate notice during dark hours until further orders and at 1143 ordered steam to be kept as follows: 

2100 to 0600 – immediate notice for slow speed and half an hour for 20 knots.

 

0600 to 2100 – four hours notice.

 

He also ordered leave to seagoing ships to expire at 2000.

8th September - Admiralty cancelled their orders for the relief of two of the 18th Cruiser Squadron by H.M. Ships NAIAD and BONAVENTURE.

 

11th September - Admiralty ordered H.M. Ships CILICIA and WOLFE to take over ocean escort of AP 3 at 0800 12th September from H.M.S. SHEFFIELD who was to return to the Clyde at best possible speed. On 13th September, H.M.S. SHEFFIELD, together with H.M. Ships REVENGE and EMERALD, was placed under the command of Commander in Chief, Western Approaches, H.M.S. SHEFFIELD being administered by me.

 

12th September - Commander in Chief, Nore, ordered steam to be kept at the following notice with effect from 13th September:

0630 to 2000 – 2 ½ hours' notice

 

2000 to 0630 – immediate notice for slow speed and half an hour for 20 knots.

13th September - Air reconnaissance was impossible owing to low visibility and ships kept steam at half an hour's notice until 1237, when they reverted to one hour's notice.

 

(n.b. Page Missing containing remainder of Chronological Events and Part II of this period).

 

 


 

 

REAR ADMIRAL, SECOND IN COMMAND, 18TH CRUISER SQUADRON

 

RECORD OF EVENTS

 

Monday, 2nd SEPTEMBER AND SUNDAY, 15th SEPTEMBER 1940, INCLUSIVE

 

From: THE REAR ADMIRAL, 18TH CRUISER SQUADRON

 

Date: 21st SEPTEMBER 1940, No. 65/160/2

 

To: THE SECRETARY OF THE ADMIRALTY

 

(copy to Vice Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron)

 

The following report covering the period 2nd to 15th September 1940, inclusive, is forwarded for the information of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty in continuation of my submission 56/160/2 dated 5th September 1940

 

CHRONOLOGICAL DIARY OF EVENTS

 

2nd and 3rd September 1940

 

MANCHESTER, SOUTHAMPTON, and BIRMINGHAM at Rosyth. Instructions were received in the Commander in Chief, The Nore's message timed 1600 of 3rd September that the three cruisers with HOLDERNESS, if ready, were to sail the following day for Sheerness.

 

4th September 1940

 

The force left Rosyth at 1230. At 1750 Admiralty directed that the three cruisers should proceed to the Humber; they arrived at 2345, HOLDERNESS having been detached before entering. KELVIN and JUPITER joined at 2005 and reinforced the escort.

 

SURVEY OF EVENTS

 

In company with the Vice Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron throughout. Enemy aircraft have been in the vicinity of the port on many occasions, and twice, on 6th and 7th September – bombs were dropped on shore in the neighbourhood, but no opportunity occurred for engaging the enemy.

 

Cruisers have been at immediate notice during the dark hours since 6th September (Admiralty Message timed 2225 of 6th September 1940)

 

(sgd) M.L. Clarke

 

REAR ADMIRAL

 


 

 

VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING 18TH CRUISER SQUADRON

 

WAR DIARY

 

16th September to 30th September 1940

 

DISPOSITION OF SHIPS – 16th SEPTEMBER

H.M.S. MANCHESTER (Vice Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron) - Immingham under operational orders of Commander in Chief, Nore

 

H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON (Rear Admiral, 18th Cruiser Squadron) - Immingham under operational orders of Commander in Chief, Nore

 

H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM - Immingham under operational orders of Commander in Chief, Nore.

 

H.M.S. GLASGOW - Scapa

 

H.M.S. NEWCASTLE - Plymouth under operational orders of Commander in Chief, Western Approaches

 

H.M.S. SHEFFIELD - Greenock under operational orders of Commander in Chief, Western Approaches

 

H.M.S. EDINBURGH - Tyne for repairs, due to complete 20th October

 

H.M.S. FIJI (attached) - Clyde for repairs

Normal notice for steam for ships at Immingham was:

0630 to 2000 – two and a half hours'

 

2000 to 0630 – immediate notice for slow speed and half an hour for 24 knots

16th September - At 2145/15, Coastal Command reported 60 merchant ships and two destroyers off Ameland course 270 degrees 8 knots and at 2114/15 Bomber Command reported 11 ships in two groups in position 55-20N, 21-32E course westerly, slow speed. Ships were ordered by Commander in Chief, Nore, to keep steam at immediate notice until further notice.

At 0305/16, Coastal Command revised their report to read 10 large vessels and remainder barges and trawlers and the Bomber Command altered their reported position to 52-20N. Ships were ordered by Commander in Chief, Nore, to revert to normal notice at 0739.

17th September - There was no air reconnaissance during the night and ships remained at half an hour's notice until 0743. At 0917, ships other than the duty destroyers reverted to four hours' notice until 2000.

 

20th September - Air reconnaissance was unsatisfactory and ships remained at half an hour's notice until 0900.

 

21st September - Dawn patrols were cancelled on account of visibility. Ships remained at half an hours notice until 0900.

 

22nd September - A report was received that the German invasion was planned to take place at 1500. At 1159, Commander in Chief, Nore, ordered all ships to be ready to man all H.A. guns at the shortest notice from 1400 onwards. These orders were cancelled on the 23rd September.

 

23rd September - Ships remained at half an hour's notice until 0900.

Admiralty stated that H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM might be taken in hand for refit after relief in the Humber by H.M.S. GLASGOW.

24th September - H.M.S. GLASGOW left Scapa for the Humber

 

25th September - Air reconnaissance was unsatisfactory. Ships remained at half an hour's notice until 0900.

H.M.S. GLASGOW arrived in the Humber at 1600.

 

H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM sailed for Birkenhead at 1830.

27th September - H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM arrived Liverpool. Her completion date was estimated as 2nd December.

 

29th September - Air reconnaissance was incomplete. Ships remained at half an hour's notice until 0900.

 

30th September - Air reconnaissance was incomplete. Ships remained at half an hour's notice until 0900.

 

PART II

 

On receipt of news that H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM was to be taken in hand for refit, I suggested to the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, that, if it was intended to maintain three cruisers of the 18th Cruiser Squadron in the Humber for the present, I should like H.M.S. MANCHESTER to carry out her deferred firings at Scapa before H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM was taken in hand. This should not delay her more than a week.

 

Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, replied that, with the approach of the winter weather, he regarded it as being very important not to delay further H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM's refit and strengthening. He said that he concurred in Commander In Chief, Nore's 1108/7th August (which proposed half the 2nd and half the 18th Cruiser Squadrons should proceed to Scapa in turn for practices), but that the whole effective force of these two Squadrons had passed from his operational control.

 

Admiralty directed that refit of H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM was not to be further delayed.

 

2. It appears from the Pink List that sometime during this period H.M.S. FIJI was paid off into care and maintenance. Although her administrative authority, I have had no confirmation of this.

 

3. During this period in the Humber, air raid warnings were frequently given by the sirens at Grimsby and Immingham when, as subsequent inquired showed, only British bombers were returning or a British fighter patrol was in the vicinity.

 


 

 

REAR ADMIRAL, SECOND IN COMMAND, 18TH CRUISER SQUADRON

 

RECORD OF EVENTS

 

MONDAY, 16th SEPTEMBER AND SUNDAY, 30th SEPTEMBER 1940, INCLUSIVE

 

 

From: THE REAR ADMIRAL, 18TH CRUISER SQUADRON

 

Date: 2nd OCTOBER 1940No. 70/160/2

 

To: THE SECRETARY OF THE ADMIRALTY

 

(copy to Vice Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron)

 

The following report covering the period 16th to 30th September 1940, inclusive, is forwarded for the information of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty in continuation of my submission 65/160/2 dated 21st September 1940.

 

CHRONOLOGICAL DIARY OF EVENTS

 

16th September - In accordance with the instructions of the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, the second Walrus of H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON was disembarked with all maintenance personnel to Brough on Humber for repairs and subsequent transfer to Hatston.

 

17th September - Lieutenant Commander K.P. Hartman, United States Navy, arrived on board H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON where he is to act as "observer."

 

25th September - H.M.S. GLASGOW arrived in the Humber at 1700 to relieve H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM, who sailed for Liverpool northabout at 1900.

 

30th September - H.M. Ships JAGUAR, JAVELIN, and KELVIN sailed southabout for Plymouth, to e placed under the orders of Commander in Chief, Western Approaches.

 

SURVEY OF EVENTS

 

In company with the Vice Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron throughout.

 

Harbour drills and exercises have been carried out during the fortnight.

 

(sgd) M.L. Clarke

 

REAR ADMIRAL

 

 


 

 

VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING 18TH CRUISER SQUADRON

 

WAR DIARY

 

1st October to 15th October 1940

 

DISPOSITION OF SHIPS – 1st OCTOBER

H.M.S. MANCHESTER (Vice Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron) - Immingham under operational orders of Commander in Chief, Nore

 

H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON (Rear Admiral, 18th Cruiser Squadron) - Immingham under operational orders of Commander in Chief, Nore

 

H.M.S. GLASGOW - Immingham. Under operational orders of Commander in Chief, Nore

 

H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM - Liverpool, for repairs due to complete 2nd December

 

H.M.S. NEWCASTLE - Plymouth under operational orders of Commander in Chief, Western Approaches

 

H.M.S. SHEFFIELD - Greenock under operational orders of Commander in Chief, Western Approaches

 

H.M.S. EDINBURGH - Tyne for repairs, due to complete 20th October

 

H.M.S. FIJI - Clyde for repairs (Care and Maintenance)

PART I

 

October 2nd - Ships other than duty destroyers in the Humber were placed at four hour's notice until 2000.

 

October 3rd - Ships other than duty destroyers in the Humber were placed at four hour's notice until 2000.

Commander in Chief, Nore, informed me that H.M.S. MANCHESTER might proceed to Scapa for gunnery practices. The ship sailed at 1900.

 

I suggested to Commander in Chief, Nore, that in order to give ships more sea time, H.M.S. GLASGOW should leave the Humber on 4th October for Sheerness, remaining there say three days and arriving back at Immingham on 9th October. Also that H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON should proceed to Scapa as soon as H.M.S. MANCHESTER completed her practices or earlier if the situation permitted. He replied that the move to Sheerness must be deferred for the present.

October 4th - H.M.S. MANCHESTER arrived Scapa

 

October 5th - By Admiralty order the flag of Rear Admiral, 18th Cruiser Squadron, was struck at sunset.

 

October 10th - Admiralty directed that H.M.S. FIJI was to form part of the 10th Cruiser Squadron

 

October 12th - 2230 H.M.S. MANCHESTER sailed for Rosyth.

 

October 13th - 0700 H.M.S. MANCHESTER arrived Rosyth.

 

October 15th - 1820 H.M.S. MANCHESTER sailed for Immingham

 

October 16th - At 0230, H.M.S. MANCHESTER detonated a mine in position 054-21.3N, 000-18W. A double explosion was heard and felt. No apparent damage was sustained.

0630 H.M.S. MANCHESTER arrived Immingham

 

1800 H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON sailed from Immingham for Scapa.

 

PART II

 

It appears from the Pink List that H.M.S. SHEFFIELD rejoined Force H during the period under review.

 

 


 

 

VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING 18TH CRUISER SQUADRON

 

WAR DIARY

 

16th October to 31st October 1940

 

DISPOSITION OF SHIPS – 16th October

H.M.S. MANCHESTER (Vice Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron) - Immingham under operational orders of Commander in Chief, Nore 

 

H.M.S. GLASGOW - Immingham under operational orders of Commander in Chief, Nore.

 

H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON - On passage Immingham to Scapa. Under operational orders of Commander in Chief, Nore

 

H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM - Liverpool, for refit due to complete 16th December

 

H.M.S. NEWCASTLE - Plymouth under operational orders of Commander in Chief, Western Approaches

 

H.M.S. EDINBURGH - Tyne for repairs, due to complete 20th October

 

H.M.S. SHEFFIELD - Detached to Force H

16th October - Information was received from Admiralty that GLASGOW would be required to leave the United Kingdom on 26th October to join the Mediterranean Fleet.

 

19th - Commander in Chief, Nore informed me that Home Forces would "stand to" from noon 19th October. Ships to remain at normal notice and leave was not to be curtailed. GLASGOW was ordered by Admiralty to sail for Rosyth on 20th October to embark stores and carry out certain alterations prior to sailing for the Mediterranean.

 

20th - GLASGOW sailed p.m. but owing to aircraft mining in the Humber was recalled to harbour.

 

21st - GLASGOW sailed for Rosyth at 0900, arriving at 1815.

EDINBURGH completed to full complement.

23rd - Commander in Chief, Home Fleet informed Admiralty that NIGERIA should be worked up and efficient by 31st October. He proposed that she should relieve NEWCASTLE at Plymouth to enable that ship to have an exercise period at Scapa and then rejoin her squadron. Admiralty approved.

 

24th - Ships in the Humber not required for duty were placed at four hours' notice. MANCHESTER gave night leave.

 

26th - Ships in the Humber not required for duty were placed at four hours' notice from 1000 till 2000.

 

29th - EDINBURGH sailed from the Tyne for Rosyth.

NIGERIA sailed for Plymouth. Commander in Chief, Home Fleet asked that defective steam joints be taken in hand on her arrival and NEWCASTLE sailed for Scapa on completion of this work.

31st - Ships in the Humber not required for duty were placed at four hours' notice from 1400 to 2000.MANCHESTER gave night leave.

 

PART II

 

From 17th to 23rd, inclusive, air reconnaissance was either not carried out or was unsatisfactory, and ships were kept at half an hour's notice for steam until 0900. On 23rd October, revised orders for steam were issued by the Commander in Chief, Nore, as follows:

From 0830 to 2000 – two and a half hours

 

From 2000 to 0830 – half an hour

2. On frequent occasions during the period under review the Humber was closed owing to aircraft minelaying.

 

 


 

 

VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING 18TH CRUISER SQUADRON

 

WAR DIARY

 

1st NOVEMBER to 15th NOVEMBER 1940

 

DIISPOSITION OF SHIPS – 1st November

H.M.S. MANCHESTER (Vice Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron) - Immingham under operational orders of Commander in Chief, Nore

 

H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON - Scapa. Under operational orders of Commander inChief, Nore

 

H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM - Liverpool, for refit due to complete 16th December

 

H.M.S. NEWCASTLE - Plymouth under operational orders of Commander in Chief, Western Approaches

 

H.M.S. EDINBURGH - Scapa to work up

 

H.M.S. SHEFFIELD - Detached to Force H

PART I

 

5th November - At 1747, during a yellow warning, an enemy aircraft was seen to pass close to the ship over Immingham Base. Fire was opened without result. Bombs were dropped in the direction of Grimsby, but results could not be seen. Air raid warning white was signalled at 1825.

Information was received from the Admiralty that type 286 was to be fitted in H.M. Ships MANCHESTER and SOUTHAMPTON at Rosyth. Ships were to arrive there not later than p.m. 7th and 0800 8th November respectively and were to come under orders of the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, on arrival.

 

Admiralty Telegram 0218/5 was received giving details of operations for reinforcing Middle East with aircraft.

 

Pocket Battleship ADMIRAL SCHEER was reported to be operating in the North Atlantic.

6th November - H.M.S. MANCHESTER sailed from Humber at 0745, Commander in Chief, Home Fleet's dispositions to deal with the ADMIRAL SCHEER were received about 0700 and at 1155 I asked permission to join him. This was refused and I was directed to proceed to Rosyth when I arrived at 1830.

 

7th November - H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON who had proceeded to sea with the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet was ordered to remain with him for the present.

 

8th November - H.M.S. MANCHESTER entered the basin where she was at not more than 17 hours' notice for steam. Night leave was given.

Admiralty directed Commander in Chief, Home Fleet to detach H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON to arrive Clyde p.m. 13th November. Later Admiralty, who had then been informed that it was desirable for her to dock before leaving the United Kingdom to repair A/S gear and degaussing outfit, diverted her to Belfast.

9th November - Admiralty Telegram 0012/9 received giving further orders for operation for reinforcing troops, aircraft, and motor transport in Middle East.

 

11th November - H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON arrived Belfast for docking. Received Admiralty Telegram 2114/11 – H.M.S. EDINBURGH will be required to sail 17th November from Clyde as Ocean Escort for Convoy W.S. 4 B. to Freetown.

 

12th November - Vice Admiral L.E. Holland, C.B. assumed command of the 18th Cruiser Squadron, hoisting his flag in H.M.S. MANCHESTER.

 

13th November The Commander in Chief, Home Fleet's 2325/13 to Admiralty suggested that H.M.S. EDINBURGH was not efficient to carry out escort duties for W.S. 4 B. as she had only carried out two day Full Calibre 6 inch and one night Full Calibre 6 inch firing.

 

14th November - Sailed in H.M.S. MANCHESTER to Scapa where ship arrived on 15th November and carried out 6 inch Full Calibre day firing and H.A. practices.

 

15th November - Sailed from Scapa at 1300 to rendezvous with convoy of M.T. ships CLAN FORBES, CLAN FRASER, and NEW ZEALAND STAR. Army transport FRANCONIA and H.M. Ships SOUTHAMPTON, FURIOUS, DIDO, and CAIRO in position 55-36N, 09-36W at 0830/16th.

Received Admiralty Telegram 2111/15 giving policy of H.M. Government in regard to treatment of Vichy French ships.

 

H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON sailed from Belfast at 2230.

PART II

 

This period marks the end of the 18th Cruiser Squadron's service on anti invasion duties at East Coast ports and the beginning of their employment on ocean duties, for which they are better suited.

 

Anti invasion duty, combined with the large proportion of new personnel draft to ships in exchange for experienced men, has lowered the Squadron's efficiency through lack of sea time and of facilities for practices at the East coast ports.

 

H.M.S. EDINBURGH after an extensive repair and refit, rejoined the Squadron and began to work up at Scapa.

 

H.M.S. SHEFFIELD is still detached to Force H, and only remained in the Squadron for Administration.

 

Vice Admiral L.E. Holland, C.B. assumed command of the 18th Cruiser Squadron, hoisting his flag in H.M.S. MANCHESTER on 12th November.

 

 


 

  

VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING 18TH CRUISER SQUADRON

 

WAR DIARY

 

16th NOVEMBER to 30th NOVEMBER 1940

 

DISPOSITION OF SHIPS – 1st November

H.M.S. MANCHESTER (Vice Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron) - Sailed from Scapa 15th November for Operation COLLAR

 

H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON - Sailed from Belfast 15th November for Operation COLLAR

 

H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM - Liverpool, refitting

 

H.M.S. NEWCASTLE - On passage to Malta with R.A.F. personnel

 

H.M.S. SHEFFIELD - Detached to Force H

 

H.M.S. EDINBURGH - Scapa to working up

16th November - At 0830 the Convoy made the rendezvous in position 55-36N, 09-36W and was finally formed up steaming at 15 knots in the order:

MANCHESTER 11, FURIOUS 21, DIDO 31

 

CLAN FORBES 12, NEW ZEALAND STAR 22, CLAN FRASER 32

 

FRANCONIA 23

H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON was stationed 6 miles ahead; H.M.S. CAIRO 1 ½ miles on the port beam; the destroyers in screening diagram No. 6A. A Sunderland was in company as A/S escort until 1500.

 

Noon position 55-26N, 10-41W.

 

At 1900 H.M. Ships SOUTHAMPTON and CAIRO were stationed at the rear of the starboard and port columns respectively. H.M.S. HURRICANE was ordered to keep four miles from the convoy on the bearing opposite the moon to prevent a submarine shadowing from that position. The remaining destroyers formed screening diagram No. 5.

 

At 2240, an unidentified destroyer was passed on opposite course and was thought to be the one detailed by H.M.S. ACTIVE to pick up Boats' crews previously reported in 55-10N, 16-10W at 1120.

 

At 2300 in position 55-04W, 15-03W, course was altered to 217 degrees; zigzagging continued all night.

17th November At 0800, H.M.S. CAIRO was detached in accordance with the Commander in Chief, Western Approaches' 2040/16 to rendezvous with convoy W.S.4.B. Convoy was reformed as follows:

MANCHESTER 11, FRANCONIA 21, FURIOUS 31

 

CLAN FORBES 12, NEW ZEALAND STAR 22, CLAN FRASER 32

 

DIDO 13

With H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON about 6 miles ahead.

 

Wind was North by West, Force 7, visibility five to seven miles, sea rough.

 

At 0909, observed position was 53-10N, 17-30W.

 

At 0953, H.M.S. VELOX reported hove to temporarily. Another destroyer was sent to stand by her.

 

At 1030, in view of the weather, all destroyers were ordered to part company. H.M.S. VELOX to proceed direct to Gibraltar.

 

Noon position of convoy 52-29N, 18-22W

 

At 1555, in position 52-03N, 18-22W a ship was sighted bearing 320 degrees from H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON, who went to investigate. This proved to be the French ship LA MALOUINE with H.M.S. ANEMONE in company searching for convoy S.L. 53.

 

At 1640, in position 51-48N, 19-05W, H.M.S. MANCHESTER spoke to the S.S. BIELA, 5298 tons, who reported that she was proceeding to the nearest port with jury rudder.

 

At 1900, H.M.S. FURIOUS was detached with H.M.S. DIDO to proceed to Freetown en route for Takoradi.

 

At 1900, course was altered to 177 degrees. H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON was stationed 3 miles ahead throughout the night. CLAN FRASER was stationed astern of the NEW ZEALAND STAR.

18th November - Observed position was 47-51N, 19-03W.

At 1013, course was altered to 180 degrees. FRANCONIA was ordered to proceed independently at 14 knots, while the remainder were formed astern of H.M.S. MANCHESTER in the order CLAN FORBES, CLAN FRASER, NEW ZEALAND STAR and exercised manoeuvres, using Naval Signals until 1215, when 15 knots on course 180 was resumed.

 

At 1115, H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON was ordered to proceed with orders as follows:

"German tanker GERMANIA left Ponta Delgada Azores 1915 B.S.T. last night steering west. Likely destination Biscay Port. Cargo aviation spirit. KLAUS SCHOKE reported likely to sail same time. Convoy expects to be in position XX 42-11N, 19-03W at 1000 tomorrow Tuesday steering 180 degrees making good 13 Ύ knots. Proceed now so as to be in position 153 degrees XX 70 miles at 0800 tomorrow Tuesday. At that time steerto rejoin the convoy by noon. Object to capture GEDANIA. If conditions admit aircraft should be used to increase width of search. Repeat back position XX."

H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON reported that she intended to be in approximate position 43N, 23W at 2300 and then carry out curve of search south to south eastward. She was ordered not to exceed 25 knots unless in contact with the enemy.

 

Noon position – 47-17N, 19-04W

 

At 1400, H.M.S. MANCHESTER fired 3 target smoke bursts for the M.T. ships to exercise their A.A. armament. From 1520 to 1545 manoeuvring was resumed. FRANCONIA was again ordered to make good 14 knots during the period. The convoy was then formed as follows:

CLAN FORBES 11, FRANCONIA 21

 

CLAN FRASER 12, NEW ZEALAND STAR 22

FRANCONIA was ordered to act as Commodore.

 

At 1610 speed 15 knots was resumed. H.M.S. MANCHESTER was stationed about 3 miles ahead throughout the night.

 

At 2050, zig zagging ceased until 2330. The night was very dark until moonrise. Sky overcast and drizzle, sea moderate.

 

At midnight, the visibility was 3 miles, wind N.W., force 5.

19th November - At 0900 observed position was 42-19N, 19-23W

At 1030. The convoy altered its Mean Line of Advance to 140 degrees for two hours to correct the position and enable H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON to rejoin.

 

H.M.S. MANCHESTER was stationed at visibility distance 150 degrees from convoy. Object to sight the GERMANIA.

 

At 1107, H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON was sighted and at 1140 was stationed 2 miles ahead of the convoy. H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON reported sighting H.M.Ships FURIOUS and DIDO (who were examining a merchant vessel in 47-40N, 19-50W at 1520/18) and MARSDALE in position 45-01N, 20-31W at 1715/18.

 

Noon position 41-43N, 18-50W, force 5, sea moderate, wind west

 

At 1400 FRANCONIA was ordered to proceed independently while H.M.S. MANCHESTER manoeuvred with the M.T. ships using W/T.

 

At 1545, H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON was ordered to take charge of the M.T. ships and instructed as follows:

 

"The procedure for ordering manoeuvres by W/T on 348.8 Kc/s will be exercised at 1400 today Tuesday as follows:

 

MANCHESTER will transmit the signal which is to be acknowledged by M/T ships by repeating the signal by flags.

 

M/T ships are not to transmit by W/T any difficulties being reported by V/S.

 

Admiralty's 1638/8 and 1053/16.

 

Intend MANCHESTER and FRANCONIA to part company at 1600. You are then to take charge of merchant ships and proceed to be in position 39N, 19W at 1500 on 21st November. When relieved by SHEFFIELD proceed independently with despatch to Gibraltar. Exercises detailed in S.O. Force H's 1948/11 should be carried out as opportunity offers. They have all been done once in daylight. Ships should be in the order NEW ZEALAND STAR, CLAN FORBES, CLAN FRAZER. When exercising by W/T (n.b. word "procedure" inserted in pen) as in my 1103/19 should be employed as I do not want to risk Merchant Ships transmitting."

 

At 1600, in position 40-51N, 19-03W, FRANCONIA altered course to 125 degrees and increased to 16 knots.

 

At 1607, H.M.S. MANCHESTER spoke to S.S. CLAN MACNAB, 6076 tons), in position 42-52N, 19-15W bound for Bombay.

20th November - Noon position 37-49N, 13-40W. Weather fine, wind and sea slight.

At 1232, H.M.S. MANCHESTER catapulted second aircraft for A/SV exercise to make contact with destroyer escort and for A/S patrol. Aircraft was recovered at 1600.

 

At 1430, H.M. Ships DUNCAN and FORESTER took station in screening Diagram No. 2.

 

At 1530, H.M.S. MANCHESTER catapulted first aircraft to relieve on A/S patrol.

 

At 1800, H.M.S. DUNCAN was detailed to examine a merchant ship which proved to be the Portuguese S.S. LOBITO, 2720 tons from Lisbon to Philadelphia with cork and miscellaneous cargo.

 

At 1900, first aircraft returned, but capsized and sank during recovery.

 

At 2130, H.M.S. MANCHESTER rejoined convoy from astern.

21st November - At 0040, H.M.S. DUNCAN was detached to investigate white lights in 36-20N, 09-52W (approx.) These proved to be one motor and one steam drifter.

At 0200, in position 36N, 09-48W course was altered to 094 degrees.

 

At 0640, in position 35-54N, 05-12W passed H.M.S. HOTSPUR and convoy H.G. 47 steering 230 degrees.

 

At 0830 London Flying Boat joined as A/S escort.

 

At 1036, observed position 35-54N, 07-05W. Proceeded keeping in 200 fathoms and south of the RIDGE to Gibraltar, where H.M.S. MANCHESTER and FRANCONIA arrived at 1700.

22nd November - Flag Officer Commanding, Force H, directed that there should never be more than 200 troops on deck in FRANCONIA. No leave was given to H.M.S. MANCHESTER or FRANCONIA and no one was allowed to visit any other ship. Flag Officer Commanding , Force H, told CLAN FORBES to dismount as much as possible of her disguise by dawn 25th November.

 

23rd November - The Commander in Chief, Mediterranean directed that if corvettes are unable to make the rendezvous at 0800/26, they are to proceed to Malta and await orders. H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON arrived Gibraltar, and came under leave restrictions also.

 

24th November - Transfer of baggage from FRANCONIA to H.M.S. MANCHESTER and SOUTHAMPTON , commenced at 2000.

 

25th November - Admiralty directed that if Italian surface forces are sighted action taken by warships carrying Army and R.A.F. personnel must be the same as if personnel were not on board. Vice Admiral, Malta, reported on condition of H.M.S. NEWCASTLE's boilers. Commencing at 0400, H.M. Ships MANCHESTER and SOUTHAMPTON embarked 667 and 750 passengers from S.S. FRANCONIA. These were mainly composed of R.A.F. personnel but also some Army details and Railhead Officers. H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON's figures included 39 Naval personnel.

At 0730, H.M. Ships MANCHESTER and SOUTHAMPTON sailed with Force H, composed of H.M. Ships RENOWN, SHEFFIELD, ARK ROYAL, DESPATCH, and eight destroyers. Course was set to pass south of Alboran Island and thence keeping about 40 miles from the African Coast.

 

Meanwhile, the three M.T. ships, NEW ZEALAND STAR, CLAN FORBES, and CLAN FRASER, which had passed Europa Point at 0200, escorted by H.M. Ships DUNCAN, HOTSPUR, and four corvettes, was keeping close into the Spanish Coast.

26th November - During the night, the convoy crossed to the African Coast and proceeded eastwards, keeping thirty miles from it.

At 0815, Force H was in position 37-05N, 01-13E. H.M.S. DESPATCH was detached to join the convoy: the remainder made good a course until 1500 as though steering towards Northern Sardinia.

 

At 1500, course was altered to the southward and at 1710, H.M.S. MANCHESTER and three destroyers were detached to join the convoy which was sighted at 1745 in position 37-10N, 02-42E, steering 085 at 13 knots. Since it was necessary to steam 15 knots to keep to the timetable, I detached H.M.S. PEONY with the corvettes to proceed to Malta via the Galita and Skerki Channels. The convoy proceeded at 15 knots, but at 2025 this was reduced to 14 ½ because with paravanes streamed, CLAN FORBES could not keep up.

 

During the night, the remainder of Force H kept about 35 miles 065 degrees from the convoy.

27th November - At 0930, the M.T. ships were ordered to haul their otters so that 15 knots could be maintained.

About this time, Force H closed the convoy and then began the circumstances leading to the engagement north of Sardinia, which has been separately reported in my No. 689/18th C.S. of 2 December 1940 (copy attached - as Addendum "action fought off Cape Spartivento").

 

At 1645, H.M.S. MANCHESTER opened fire at five enemy bombers who had been attacking Force H.

 

The Convoy, under the orders of Commodore, West Indies, in H.M.S. DESPATCH, proceeded via the Galita Channel.

 

At 1730, I again took charge of the convoy now escorted by H.M. Ships MANCHESTER, SOUTHAMPTON, COVENTRY, HOTSPUR, and four Mediterranean Fleet destroyers. CLAN FORBES and CLAN FRASER streamed otters.

 

At 1825, the convoy was in position 37-31N, 09-45E, steaming 14 ½ knots and proceeding through the Skerki Channel.

 

The following lights were exhibited normally:

CANI ROCKS

CAPE BON

KELIBIA

28th November - At 0137, in position 36-57, 11-37E, an underwater explosion was felt. Course had been altered to 180 degrees four minutes earlier and the explosion may have been of a torpedo which missed.

At 0747, H.M. Ships GLOUCESTER, GLASGOW, and YORK were sighted.

 

At 0830, H.M. Ships WARSPITE, VALIANT, and ILLUSTRIOUS were sighted.

 

At 0900, in position 36-37N, 13-26E, course was adjusted towards Filfola Island. The Commander in Chief, Mediterranean, ordered the following dispositions.

 

H.M. Ships DECOY and HOTSPUR escort CLAN FORBES and CLAN FRASER to Malta.

 

H.M. Ships COVENTRY, HEREWARD, and DEFENDER escort NEW ZEALAND STAR to Alexandria, routed south of Medina Bank and thence through 35-10N, 20E.

 

H.M. Ships MANCHESTER and SOUTHAMPTON provide cover for this convoy.

 

H.M. Ships GALLANT and GREYHOUND were detached to join the Commander in Chief.

 

At 1057, the four Corvettes were sighted to the westward. The Commander in Chief was informed.

 

GLOXINIA was sent into Malta, the remainder to Suda Bay.

29th November - At 0820, distance smoke was sighted bearing 065 degrees and believed to the Battle Fleet.

At 1000, course was altered to 101 degrees.

 

At 1117, H.M.S. GLASGOW was sighted and soon afterwards H.M.S. GLOUCESTER and YORK coming up from the northwestward.

 

At 1345, The Commander in Chief, Mediterranean, ordered H.M. Ships MANCHESTER and SOUTHAMPTON to close. H.M.S. COVENTRY took over charge of the convoy.

 

At 1615, in position 35-08N, 21-52E, H.M.S. MANCHESTER and SOUTHAMPTON were in station 1 ½ miles 270 degrees from H.M.S. WARSPITE, making good 100 degrees at 18 knots.

 

At 1715, H.M. Ships MANCHESTER and SOUTHAMPTON were detached to proceed direct to Alexandria at high speed.

30th November 0915, H.M. Ships MANCHESTER and SOUTHAMPTON arrived Alexandria and berthed alongside.

1400, disembarked all passengers and mails.

 

1630, the Commander in Chief, arrived with H.M.S. WARSPITE, ILLUSTRIOUS and VALIANT.

PART II

 

Operation COLLAR was being carried out during this period and is fully described in Part I and Appendices.

 

2. A notable point in this action against the Italian Fleet on 27th November was that four ships of the 18th Cruiser Squadron were in company for the first time in five months. They arrived on the scene of action from Rosyth, Reykjavik, Malta, and the Azores.

 

3. During Operation COLLAR, H.M.S. NEWCASTLE was passed from Malta to Gibraltar and subsequently sailed for Freetown to join a hunting force in the South Atlantic.

 

4. H.M.S. EDINBURGH, partly worked up, acted as ocean escort, as far as Freetown, for convoy taking troops to Middle East.

 

 


 

 

From: The Vice Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron

 

Date: 5th December 19400682

 

To: THE FLAG OFFICER COMMANDING, FORCE H

 

These remarks on operation COLLAR, in addition to my report of the action South of Sardinia forwarded under cover of my No. 18th C.S. 0682 of 2nd December 1940, are forwarded for information.

 

When I joined the MT convoy at 1815 on November 26th, H.M.S. DESPATCH reported as follows:

 

"Following was received from D.13. PEONY reports maximum speed in present condition 13 knots. Their behavior is exceedingly erratic in signalling, station keeping and maintaining touch at night. T.O.O. 1821."

 

I therefore detached PEONY with the others corvettes in accordance with Paragraph 27 of the Operation Orders for COLLAR.

 

2. The convoy had already streamed paravanes with the result that they were unable to maintain a speed higher than 14 ½ knots, which was insufficient to keep the amended rendezvous for 0900 on 27th November. To enable them to maintain 15 ½ knots, I ordered the CLAN FORBES and CLAN FRASER to haul otters at 0930/27th. S.S. NEW ZEALAND STAR was incompletely fitted.

 

3. After the action and being in some doubt as to the whereabouts of the convoy, I closed land to the west of Galita Bank. Nothing being sighted, it was presumed that the convoy was making the passage of the Galita Channel. To follow them through this channel would have been a purposeless risk to the cruisers, so I proceeded with H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON towards the exit of the channel, keeping outside the 100 fathom line. From a signal received from H.M.S. DESPATCH, it became apparent that the convoy would clear the channel at about 1715, so to avoid drawing attention to their whereabouts, I steamed east for fifty minutes before turning to rejoin. I rejoined the convoy at 1730, passing to the southward of Group One to do so.

 

4. At 1645, fire was opened on a formation of five bombers which was retiring to the northeast after having attacked Group One. I was in a good position to observe the gun fire from Group One at this formation, which was intense but estimated to have been 1000 feet low and about 1000 yards short. Towards the end, the bursts from one sip very nearly reached the target.

 

5. At 1815 on 27th November, I ordered them to stream otters once again before making the passage of the Skerki Channel. The speed was again reduced to 14 ½ knots with the result that the R/V originally ordered with the Mediterranean Fleet could not have been reached until (n.b. page damaged and line missing) next morning. Contact was made with the Mediterranean Fleet at (n.b. rest of page damaged and information, some four lines, is missing).

 

6. The following lights were burning normally during both passages of the Narrows and Skerki Channel.

CANI ROCKS

CAPE BON

KELIBIA

7. During the passage of the Narrows, H.M.S. COVENTRY's RD/F gave indications of an enemy being present but nothing was sighted and there is no indication what type of vessel it may have been. At 0137 on 28th November, in position 36-57N, 11-37E, an underwater explosion was felt, but was probably at some distance.

 

8. CLAN FORBES and CLAN FRASER, H.M. Ships HOTSPUR and GLOXINIA arrived Malta on 28th November. H.M. Ships MANCHESTER and SOUTHAMPTON were sent ahead to high speed by the Commander in Chief, Mediterranean and reached Alexandria on 30th November; NEW ZEALAND STAR on 31st (n.b NEW ZEALAND STAR arrived 1st December. November only has 30 days). The remaining three corvettes arrived Suda Bay on 30th November. Operation COLLAR was thus successfully completed.

 

9. H.M.S. MANCHESTER was ordered by the Commander in Chief, Mediterranean, to sail at 1330 on 2nd December for Suda Bay, to arrive at 0800 (n.b. pen overwrite to 0800, unable to read original entry) next morning. With one ship, H.M.S. YORK, of the 3rd Cruiser Squadron, I sailed from Suda Bay, through Antikithera Channel, to be in position 15 miles South west of Cape Matapan on a north westerly course at dusk on December 3rd, so as to give the impression, if sighted that we were about to raid the Strait of Otranto. After dark, H.M.S. YORK returned to Suda Bay. H.M.S. MANCHESTER proceeded at high speed to Malta where she arrived at 1200 on 4th December, having been slightly delayed by low visibility when making the land.

 

10. H.M.S. MANCHESTER sailed from Malta at 1700, so that it would be dark before course was shaped to the westward. The Narrows and Skerki Channel were passed without any enemy being sighted, although the A.S.V. gave a small indication at 0019 in position 37-08N, 11-29E.

 

11. High speed was maintained until 1200/5th in position 37-31N, 04-49E. Since nothing had been sighted by this time, speed was reduced to 24 knots for the remainder of the passage to Gibraltar, where the ship arrived at 1100 on 6th December.

 

12. On hauling paravanes at 1245, it was found both paravanes wires had parted near the cutter. The cause of parting is not known, but the evidence available it occurred in unmineable waters.

 

13. The following passengers, mails, and stores for the United Kingdom were carried:

8 officers, 17 ratings, 68 bags of mail, 3 cwt. of stores

(sgd) L.E. Holland

 

VICE ADMIRAL

 

 


 

 

VICE ADMIRAL COMMANDING 18TH CRUISER SQUADRON

 

WAR DIARY

 

1st DECEMBER to 15th DECEMBER 1940

 

DISPOSITION OF SHIPS – 1st December

H.M.S. MANCHESTER (Vice Admiral Commanding, 18th Cruiser Squadron) - At Alexandria having successfully completed Operation COLLAR

 

H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON - Alexandria waiting to sail for East Indies Station.

 

H.M.S. EDINBURGH - Convoying to Freetown

 

H.M.S. SHEFFIELD - Detached to Force H

 

H.M.S. NEWCASTLE - Hunting Force in South Atlantic

 

H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM - Liverpool, refitting

1st December - NEW ZEALAND STAR arrived Alexandria

 

2nd December - 1300 Sailed from Alexandria for Suda Bay – 26 knots. SOUTHAMPTON sailed from Alexandria to join East Indies Station.

 

3rd December - 1009 Anchored in Suda Bay. Vice Admiral Commanding, 3rd Cruiser Squadron in GLOUCESTER, GLASGOW, and YORK at anchor in Suda Bay.

1200 Proceeded with YORK in company. Speed 24 knots.

 

1830 Off Cape Matapan. YORK ordered to part company and proceed in execution of previous orders. Shaped course to pass between Medina and Hurd Banks. Speed 29 knots.

4th December - 1200 Arrived Malta and entered Grand Harbour

1700 Sailed from Malta for Gibraltar. Speed 29 knots.

 

2000 Position – 36-04N, 13-26E

5th December - 1241 Hauled paravanes. Both wires were found to be parted near the cutters. Reduced speed to 24 knots.

1500 Position – 37-35N, 3-28E

6th December - 1100 Arrived Gibraltar and entered harbour.

 

8th December - 1600 Sailed in MANCHESTER for United Kingdom routed through 35-50N, 10-00W and 41N, 19W, expecting to make good 22 knots.

 

9th December - 0300 in position 35-50N, 10-00W altered course to 306 degrees.

The Admiralty ordered MANCHESTER to proceed to Scapa.

 

1640 In Position 38-45N, 15-04W passed Portuguese vessel NOSSA SENHORA DOS ANJOS, 325 tons, on passage from Ponta Delgada to Portugal.

 

Commander in Chief, Western Approaches routed MANCHESTER through 45-22N, 52-24W, 58-30N, 15W, 58-45N, 10W.

10th December - Course 306 degrees was maintained to ensure passing well clear of RAMILLIES' convoy.

0600 in position 41-36N, 20-02W altered course to 339 degrees

 

1500 observed position 44-50N, 21-32W

 

1900 In position 45-09N, 23-44W altered course to 349 degrees

11th December - 1100 In position 51-50N, 24-07W altered course 000 to pass through 55N, 24W and so keep clear of the probable position of enemy submarine.

1900 Altered course 055 degrees.

12th December - 1030 Sighted BROKE and convoy OB 256 bearing 095 degrees 8 miles

1037 BROKE reported his position as 58-16N, 13-32W based on sighted at 1800/11th December. This was some 54 miles 083 degrees from MANCHESTER's dead reckoning. This position was subsequently found to be 15 miles in error.

 

1200 Altered course 085 degrees

 

1500 Sighted a Sunderland aircraft who reported his position as 58-31N, 11-35W

 

1705 Passed an empty lifeboat and raft presumably those found by MATABELE the previous evening.

 

2200 Sighted Butt of Lewis Light bearing 134 degrees 14 miles.

 

1605 Received Admiralty's 1313/12th December proposing that MANCHESTER should refit at South Shields when BIRMINGHAM is worked up.

13th December - 0330 Arrived Scapa, where EDINBURGH had arrived the preceding evening.

 

PART II

 

An uneventful period during which MANCHESTER returned to the United Kingdom at high speed stopping for a few hours at Suda Bay and Malta and two days at Gibraltar.

 

On 2nd December SOUTHAMPTON sailed from Alexandria to join the East Indies Station.

 


 

 

(n.b. 16th to 31st December 1940 is not held).

 


 

Addendum

 

ACTION FOUGHT OFF SPARTIVENTO, 27th NOVEMBER 1940

 

 

                                                                                                                              Office of Vice Admiral Commanding

18th Cruiser Squadron

 

2nd December 1940

No. 18th C.S. 0682

 

Sir,

 

I have the honour to forward the following preliminary report on the action fought off Cape Spartivento.

                 

2.  In compiling this report I have not had the advantage of consulting any of the Commanding Officers of the ships which took part other than those of H.M.S. MANCHESTER and H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON, so there may be points requiring elaboration when I am better informed.  The tracks of the enemy have been drawn from the available records but I would not be surprised to learn that a different picture is produces by a compilation of all the available air records.  The relative position of the enemy is however substantially correct.

 

Preliminary Stages, All times Z – two.   

            

3.  At 0900 on Wednesday 27th November 1940, H.M. Ships MANCHESTER, SOUTHAMPTON, DESPATCH, and COVENTRY were in position 37-39 North, 07-11 East in company with a convoy comprising  S.S. NEW ZEALAND STAR, S.S. CLAN FRASER, and S.S. CLAN FORBES.  The convoy was screened by H.M. Ships DUNCAN, WISHART, ENCOUNTER, FURY, and FIREDRAKE.  H.M.S. HOTSPUR, without asdics and with speed restricted to 16 knots was also in company.  R.A.F. and Army reinforcements to the Middle East were embarked in H.M.S. MANCHESTER and H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON, the total number in the former being 665 and 760 in the latter.

                 

The mean line of advance of the convoy which was carrying out zig zag No. 11 was 081 degrees making good 14 knots.  H.M.S. Ships at the 2nd degree of H.A. Readiness and 4th degree of L.A. readiness with steam for full speed at ten minutes notice.

                 

A covering force consisting of H.M. Ships RENOWN, SHEFFIELD, and ARK ROYAL screened by H.M. Ships FAULKNOR, FORESTER, KELVIN, and JAGUAR was about 15 miles to the northeastward from H.M.S. MANCHESTER.

                 

The visibility was extreme, sea smooth, wind S.E., force 3.

                 

4.  At 0948 a corrupt report originated at 0931 was received from an aircraft, reporting one battleship and seven destroyers which was amended shortly afterwards to two battleships.  The position to which this report related was not received, so the possibility of it referring to Force D could not be entirely ruled out.  This force consisting of H.M.S. RAMILLIES, H.M.S. BERWICK, H.M.S. NEWCASTLE, and screened by H.M. Ships DEFENDER, HEREWARD, VAMPIRE, VENDETTA, and VOYAGER was expected to be approaching from the eastward.

                 

5.  At 0957, an amplifying report from an aircraft was received (T.O.O. 0945) giving the enemy's position, course and speed as Latitude 38-32N Longitude 08-29E 252 degrees 15 knots.

                 

6.  At 1005 Flag Officer Force H ordered steam for full speed and in his signal 1008 which was received at 1024 he reported that 5 enemy cruisers and 5 destroyers had been reported in position Latitude 38-25N, Longitude 08-27E at 0920 steering 255 degrees.

                 

7.  Two aircraft reports, both originated at 1010 were received respectively at 1016 of six cruisers and eight destroyers in position Lat. 38-28N, Long. 08-34E steering 250 degrees, and at 1021 of one battleship, one cruiser, and five destroyers in position 38-39N, 08-42E, also steering 250 degrees.

                 

8.  At 1034 Flag Officer Force H reported (T.O.O. 1022) that at 0932 two battleships and seven destroyers were in position Latitude 38-40N, Longitude 08-33E.

                 

9.  At 1035, Flag Officer Force H ordered H.M.S. DESPATCH to keep well clear to southward with the convoy and for H.M. Ships MANCHESTER and SOUTHAMPTON to join him.  Whereupon, the convoy was ordered to cease zig zagging and was turned to a course of 120 degrees.  H.M.S. MANCHESTER and SOUTHAMPTON altered course to 050 degrees, speed 24 knots, working up to 30 knots by 1101.  This course was selected to take the cruisers to a position on the engaged bow of H.M.S. RENOWN consistent with Form of Battle C which Flag Officer, Force H had specified in his preliminary orders.

                 

10.  The following stationing signals were received from Flag Officer, Force H.  At 1045, bearing 050 degrees, 5 miles.  At 1114, 040 degrees, five miles.  At 1126, bearing 010 degrees, at 1138 bearing 040 degrees, and at 1200 bearing 010 degrees.  Various alterations of course were made to implement these orders, as far as was possible.  Meanwhile, H.M.S. SHEFFIELD joined by flag and took station astern of H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON.

                 

11.  At 1053, I signalled to H.M.S. DESPATCH that the destroyers in company, except H.M.S. HOTSPUR, were to join me and at 1112, I instructed Captain (D) 8 to take up station 5 miles 040 degrees from H.M.S. RENOWN.

                 

12.  At 1131, Force D was sighted distant 14 miles on a bearing 064 degrees and at 1148, I received a signal to take all cruisers except H.M.S. DESPATCH and COVENTRY under my orders.  At 1150, I signalled to H.M.S. NEWCASTLE and BERWICK to join me, giving them my course and speed as 050 degrees, 30 knots.  At 1158, H.M.S. BERWICK signalled that as his speed was limited to 27 knots he proposed to join H.M.S. RENOWN.  I immediately replied "Join me", but H.M.S. BERWICK had already turned to the south west to implement his proposal.  This was unfortunate, as it prevented H.M.S. BERWICK from forming with the remaining cruisers which, from the original position, he could have done and resulted in the ship being at 2000 to 4000 yards greater range from the enemy than was necessary.

                 

13.  Between 1100 and 1200, various aircraft reports were received, from which it was difficult to obtain a clear picture of the enemy's composition or movements.  The general deduction was that his force included two battleships, six or seven cruisers, probably in two groups, and at least eight destroyers.  His line of advance from 1015 to 1115 was judged to be about 255 degrees and at about 1120 he turned to the eastward and later to a course of about 140 degrees.

                 

At 1140, Flag Officer, Force H, signalled that he estimated the enemy Battle Fleet to bear 010 degrees, 30 miles from H.M.S. RENOWN.

                 

14.  At 1123, I had turned the cruisers in succession to 075 degrees so as to dispose them roughly at right angles to the probably direction of the enemy and they were subsequently manoeuvred by Blue Pendant so as to maintain this line of bearing.    At 1210, H.M.S. NEWCASTLE had reached a position about 5 cables 240 degrees from H.M.S. MANCHESTER.  My original intention was that H.M.S. NEWCASTLE should be the fourth ship of the line, but as this was apparent that she could not reach that position, I ordered her to move up between H.M.S. MANCHESTER and H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON, the latter ship being told to make room for this.  H.M.S. BERWICK was given a bearing on which to form of 075 degrees, but was unable to reach that position.

 

Contact

                 

15.  At 1200, smoke was sighted from H.M.S. MANCHESTER on a bearing 360 degrees and at 1207, I turned the cruisers together from 040 degrees to 360 degrees.  Masts became visible within a minute or two of the smoke being sighted and a report was made at 1203.

                 

At 1207, three cruisers, to be referred to as Group A, came in sighted on a bearing 353 degrees from H.M.S. MANCHESTER at a range of 15 miles.  These cruisers either turned to the northwest at about this time or else were steering in this direction when sighted, the right hand cruiser, subsequently engaged by H.M.S. MANCHESTER, turning further to the North East.

                 

At 1213, H.M.S. MANCHESTER made an enemy report of three cruisers and two destroyers bearing 337 degrees and 343 degrees, respectively at a range of 15 miles steering 300 degrees.

                 

At 1215, H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON made a similar report of three cruisers and three destroyers at a range of 12 miles, steering 330 degrees.

                 

16.  At 1214, a further group of cruisers, to be referred to as Group B, came into sight further to the eastward, and was reported by H.M.S. MANCHESTER at that time as four cruisers bearing 003 degrees distant 15 miles, course unknown, this latter being reported two minutes later as 070 degrees.  H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON reported this same group four minutes later as being two cruisers and some destroyers being 013 degrees distant 12 miles steering 100 degrees.

                 

17.  At 1216, I received a signal from Flag Officer, Force H saying that a Sunderland had reported that no enemy battleships were present.

 

The Action

                 

18.  At 1220, the enemy of Group A, opened fire and at 1221, H.M.S. MANCHESTER engaged the right hand cruiser of this Group at a range of 21, 000 yard and the action became general.

                 

19.  The first enemy salvo fired at H.M.S. MANCHESTER was exact for range, all the splashes falling within the length of the ship, but about 100 yards clear to starboard.

                 

20.  The cruisers continued on a Northerly course to close the enemy with the least possible delay, small alterations of course being made to improve the arcs of ire, and to avoid enemy gunfire which at this time was heavy and accurate.

                 

21.  Ships of Group A started to make smoke which by 1235 had obscured them from view.  At this time, the course of our cruisers was 020 degrees and Group B was passing across the front from left to right.

                 

22.  At 1234, I altered course to 360 degrees with the object of separating the two enemy groups so that our attention could be concentrated on half of this force.  This worked out as desired and I considered which of the enemy groups should be our future objective.  It was reasonable to suppose that the smoke screens enveloping Group A was hiding some damage and this Group was believed to be the weaker of the two.  By closing Group A, it seemed that some immediate tactical achievement might result.  Against this, however, it had to be appreciated that the object of the whole enterprise was to pass a convoy through the Narrows and that if our cruisers sheered off to the North Westward, the field would be left clear for Group B to turn to the South Eastward and attack the convoy.  I therefore decided that Group B should be our future target and at 1245 altered course to 090 degrees to being this group to bear on the port bow.

                 

23.  At 1234, H.M.S. MANCHESTER checked fire on the right hand cruiser of Group A, which had become obscured by smoke, the range being 20,000 yards.  Fire was shifted to the left hand ship of Group B on the starboard bow at a range of 21,000 yards.  This target was engaged from 1226 to 1239 ½, the range remaining constant.  The ships of Group B were identified as being 8" gun cruisers, probably of the ZARA class.

                 

24.  At 1240, a destroyer on the port bow steering to the eastward and make a smoke screen presented a favourable target and fire was opened on it at a range of 17,000 yards and continued until 1245 ½ during which period the destroyer received several 12 gun straddles and was driven away under its smoke.

                 

25.  At 1245, course was altered to 090 degrees which brought the ships of Group B on the relative bearing of Red 40.  Fire was opened on the nearest, i.e., left hand ship at a range of 19,000 yards.

                 

26.  On being engaged, Group B turned at 1246 to the south east, which gave them an advantage in regard to gun arcs, as they were crossing my T.  I wished to prevent the enemy breaking away to the south east, so turned the cruisers at 1250 to what I judged to be a parallel course.  The enemy's reaction to this was to turn away to port and I altered to 090 degrees at 1252, to 070 degrees at 1256, and to 030 degrees at 1258.

                 

27.  During this phase, the range of the enemy steadily increased from 19,000 at 1246 up to 22,500 at 1256.  At 1252, the enemy being engaged was observed to be fire after and to haul away to port, resuming a course parallel to the other two cruisers of Group B about two minutes later.  The range of the ships dropped to 21,000 at 1259, but then started to open up again until at 1304 it had reached 21,500 yard.  H.M.S. MANCHESTER ceased firing on this target at 1306 when extreme gun range was reached.

                 

28.  At 1301, the masts of new enemy unit judged to be four ships was sighted at extreme visibility and right ahead, i.e., on bearing 045 degrees.  At 1303, two battleships were identified in this unit and an enemy report was made.

                 

29.  The end on approach of this unit resulted in the range decreasing very rapidly and it was evident to me that it would be necessary to take action to avoid our cruisers from running into effective gunfire of the heavy ships.  At 1305, I turned the cruisers to 120 degrees with the dual object of working round to the flank of the enemy battleships and also to close the gap with H.M.S. RENOWN.

                 

At this time, however, the enemy battleships altered course to the northeastward and presumably joined their 8" cruisers, whereupon, at 1308, I altered back to 090 degrees and continued to turn until a course of 050 degrees was reached.

                 

30.  The larger splashes seen falling around H.M.S. BERWICK and later near H.M.S. MANCHESTER corroborated that this new unit included capital ships.

                 

31.  At 1309, I received a signal from the Flag Officer, Force H asking "Is there any chance of catching cruisers."  To this I answered "No", the experience during the run to the northeast being that the enemy ships were able to increase the range and that this also applied to the ship which had sustained damage.  At this time, the enemy cruisers were already outside maximum range.

                 

32.  At 1236, the enemy ships of Group B had been observed to be firing their H.A. guns at what was assumed to be an attacked by T/B aircraft from H.M.S. ARK ROYAL.  The enemy seemed to check fire from their main armament while this was in progress, but no consequential effects on his speed was in evidence.

                 

33.  At 1310, the Flag Officer Force H ordered me to turn to 130 degrees which was complied with at 1317.

 

General Remarks

 

34.  A feature of the engagement was the accuracy for range of the initial salvos fired by the Italians.  So far as could be judged, they used rangefinder control and there were no signs of any spotting rules of the cumulative type being employed.  The accuracy of the fire fell off as the ships themselves became engaged, so it may well be of advantage to be the first to open fire when In action with the Italians.  On this occasion the Captain of H.M.S. MANCHESTER reported as soon as he was within gun range, but I told him to hold his fire until the range had diminished.

                 

35.  It seemed that H.M. Ships MANCHESTER and BERWICK were favoured by the enemy as targets and H.M.S. MANCHESTER was under continuous fire from 1221 until 1300 when it became spasmodic.  The ship was straddled on a few occasions and a considerable number of salvos were correct for range fell close on one side of the other.  Had it not been for the small alterations of course, judiciously carried out by Captain Herbert Annesley Packer, R.N., the ship would almost certainly have been hit.

                 

36.  At 1232, H.M.S. MANCHESTER gave a shudder which must have been caused by a very near miss, but at the time gave a first impression that the ship had been hit.

                 

37.  I had some conversation with Vice Admiral Godfroy of the French Navy while at Alexandria and he attributed the accurate rangefinding to the use by the Italians of stereoscopic rangefinders.  He said that the French achieved similar performance with their rangefinders of this type and he was quite unable to understand whey the British Navy was equipped with coincidence rangefinders only.  I had long held this view.  Admiral Godfroy stressed the value of the stereoscopic rangefinder against aircraft, particularly in a half light.

                 

38.  The enemy used coloured splashed in some of their shell:  green and red colours were observed.  In the later stages of the engagement, they fired a number of H.E. shell which burst on impact with the water.

                 

39.  The main difficulty in the control of our gunfire was to obtain a correct line.  If RD/F rangefinding proves itself to be as successful as it hoped, the best method of control for end on engagements may well to be fire triple salves spread for line at the RD/F range.

                 

40.  I did not order fire concentrations as the situations changed quickly and, at least until the final stage of the action, there was a selection of targets available and I judged it best to leave the choice to Commanding Officers.  Furthermore, I was doubtful of the result had concentration had been ordered as the ships of the 18th Cruiser Squadron had not been in company for some time and assembled on the battleground from Rosyth, Reykjavik, Malta, and the vicinity of the Azores.  It is many months since four ships of the Squadron have been together and H.M.S. NEWCASTLE has seldom been with the flag.

                 

41.  H.M.S. MANCHESTER, at 1301, catapulted a Walrus aircraft for spotting.  No use could, however, be made of this owing to it becoming necessary to use the 2nd W/T office on the Fleet Wave while the main aerial was out of action.  This failure was subsequently found to be due to the feeder earthing on the main mast spar.  As neither of H.M.S. MANCHESTER's cranes are in a state to receive aircraft at sea, the Walrus returned to H.M.S. ARK ROYAL.

                 

42.  So far as damage to the enemy is concerned, it can be stated with confidence that two destroyers in Group A and the rear cruiser in Group B were hit.  Some observers in H.M.S. SOUTHAMPTON considered that one of the destroyers was sinking.  It is not unlikely that other damage was caused to Group A which prompted the dense smoke screen behind which it returned.

                 

43.  The rounds fired by H.M.S. MANCHESTER were as follows:

 

                  A turret                                   304

                  B turret                                   265

                  X turret                                    175

                  Y turret                                    168

                 

Thus more than half the outfit was expended by the forward turrets.  The passengers were very useful in transporting ammunition from after to forward at the end of the engagement.

                 

44.  If, as seems established, the Italians prefer to fight a retiring action, it would appear that our reply should be to have the maximum available force at the pointing of sighting.  The more orthodox disposition of the cruisers being in the advance of the battlecruisers is apt to break down to the extent that the battlecruisers cannot make up the initial difference in distance.

                 

45.  The long stern chases which we have to carry out are not very productive, unless some serious damage can be caused to the enemy.  It seems that something more than the gunfire at extreme range of 6" cruisers is required to achieve this against the larger cruisers, hence it would be of advantage to have battle cruisers in the van.  Successful attacks by air striking forces would attain the same end.  Although the Italians so little inclination to face up to a fight, it would be unwise to assume that they are incompetent.  This is disproved by the accuracy of their gunfire during periods of the action.

                 

46.  To carry a ship load of passengers into battle is an unenviable lot, but their presence had perforce to be dismissed from my mind.  They themselves were exhilarated at having been in a sea battle.

                 

47.  H.M.S. MANCHESTER made good 30 knots and as H.M.S. NEWCASTLE appeared to be hard put to it to keep up, no increase was possible consistent with maintaining a formation.  Paravanes were steamed in H.M.S. MANCHESTER and SOUTHAMPTON in compliance with Flag Officer, Force H's written order preparatory to passing through the Narrows and presumably also streamed in H.M. Ships NEWCASTLE and BERWICK, as these ships had just passed through the Narrows.

                 

48.  The Captain of all the cruisers under my command handled their ships with skill and judgment.  The cruisers were at first manoeuvred by Flag Signals, supplemented later by Auxiliary W/T.  Occasions arose when small turns were made with signal to which the remaining ships conformed as cruisers should.

                                                                                                                             

 I have the honour to be Sir,

                                                                                                                                Your obedient servant

(sgd) L.E. Holland, Vice Admiral

                

 

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