COLONY-Class cruiser ordered on 4th September 1939 from John Brown of Clydebank and laid down on 30th November 1939. The ship was launched on 11th September 1941 by Viscountess Weir and was the eighth RN ship to carry this name, first introduced in 1795. Build was completed on the 21st August 1942 and this ship had been adopted in March 1942 by the civil community of West Bromwich, then in the county of Staffordshire after a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign.
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July Contractors trials
5th Commissioned for service.
21st Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials.
28th On completion of trials and storing took passage to Scapa Flow to work up with ships of
September Carried out further trials and calibrations at Scapa Flow.
October Nominated for support of planned allied landings in North Africa (Operation TORCH)
26th On completion of work-up joined HM Battleships DUKE OF YORK, NELSON and HM
Battlecruiser RENOWN, HM Aircraft Carriers VICTORIOUS and FORMIDABLE with
HM Cruiser ARGONAUT screened by eleven Home Fleet destroyers for passage to Gibraltar
to support of landings. For details see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by C Barnett,
RELUCTANT ENEMIES by W Tute and Naval Staff History).
3rd Arrived at Gibraltar and joined Force H.
6th Sailed from Gibraltar
8th Provided Distant Cover for landings and bombarded shore gun positions during assault.
Carried out patrolled in seaward approaches to prevent any interference by Vichy French
or Italian warships.
Under torpedo and bomb attacks by He111aircraft off Algiers with HM Cruiser SHEFFIELD.
(Note: One air craft was claimed destroyed and one damaged during attacks by 34 aircraft.)
10th Escorted convoy of three troop ships to Bougie with HMS SHEFFIELD.
On release from TORCH took return passage to Scapa Flow to resume Home Fleet duties
14th Deployed as Flagship of Force Q to carry out attacks on enemy supply shipping.
Released from Force H and nominated for return to Home Fleet.
December Passage to Scapa Flow
4th Rejoined Home Fleet for convoy defence and patrol duty in NW Approaches.
31st Deployed with HM Battleship KING GEORGE V and HOWE with Fleet destroyers to provide
cover for returning Russian Convoy RA51 after the attacks on the inward Russian Convoy
JW51B by German warships HIPPER and LUTZOW.
(For details of all Russian Convoy operations see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY,
THE RUSSIAN CONVOYS by B. Schoefield, CONVOY ! by P Kemp and Russian Convoys
by R Woodman.)
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4th Detached from JW51B during passage and provided cover for return Convoy RA51
during passage from Kola Inlet to Loch Ewe.
17th Deployed with HM Cruisers GLASGOW and KENT to provide cover for passage of
Russian Convoy JW52 during passage to Kola Inlet.
27th Detached from JW52 on arrival at Kola Inlet
29th Deployed to provide cover for passage of return Convoy RA52 during passage to Loch Ewe
from Kola Inlet
(Note: Attack by U625 failed – See HITLER’S U-BOAT WAR by C Blair.)
9th Returned to Scapa Flow on release from RA52
29th Deployed with HM Destroyer ATHABASKAN (RCN) for patrol in Faeroes-Iceland Gap
after German battleships TIRPITZ, SCHARNHORST and LUTZOW were reported at sea
2nd Returned to Scapa Flow without sighting any enemy ships.
May Relieved HM Cruiser SCYLLA as escort for rms QUEEN MARY during passage to Canada
with Prime Minister embarked for TRIDENT Meeting with President Roosevelt..
27th Escorted HM Battleships ANSON and VALIANT from Scapa Flow to Rosyth.
31st Sailed from Greenock with HM Cruiser CUMBERLAND, HM Destroyers
ATHABASKAN (RCN) and ECLIPSE covered by HM Aircraft Carrier FURIOUS, HM Cruiser
SCYLLA screened by HM Destroyers ECHO and MIDDLETON
(Operation GEARBOX – Relief for Spitzbergen Garrison)
June Bad weather forced ships to shelter at Akureri, Iceland.
7th Sailed for Spitzbergen.
10th Arrived at Spitzbergen
Ship's aircraft used to patrol the area.
14th Returned to Scapa Flow.
30th Transferred to Plymouth to provide cruiser cover for anti-submarine operations by Support
Groups B2 and 2nd Support Group in Bay of Biscay with HM Cruiser GLASGOW to prevent
any attacks by destroyers. (Operations MUSKETRY and SEASLUG).
(Note: These operations were carried out in conjunction with RAF Coastal Command).
July Bay of Biscay support duty in continuing.
August Supported Anti-submarine operations by 40th Escort Group and 5th Support Group off the
Spanish coast during which attacks were made for the first time by Hs293 weapons
(Note: The escorts involved include HM Frigates NENE and TWEED.
See also HITLER’S BOAT WAR by C Blair.)
This deployment also covered passage of outward Convoy os54 and inward SL134)
September Under refit at Devonport.
(Note: Close Range AA defence supplemented by additional 20mm Oerlikon guns.)
October Carried out harbour and sea trials on completion of dockyard work.
25th Passage to resume Home Fleet duty at Scapa Flow.
19th Provided cruiser cover with HMS JAMAICA and HMS KENT for passage of the Russian
Convoys JW54A and JW54B and later for returning convoy RA54B.
3rd Returned to Home Fleet duties at Scapa Flow.
11th Taken in hand for repair to heavy weather damage whilst in Arctic waters in Clyde shipyard.
22nd Resumed Home Fleet duties
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January On completion rejoined Home Fleet.
27th Deployed in Barents Sea to provide cruiser cover with HMS BERWICK and HMS KENT for
passage of the Russian Convoys JW56A and JW56B.
February Remained in area to cover returning Convoy RA56.
7th Detached from RA56 and resumed Fleet duties in NW Approaches.
(Note: Deployment to provide cover for intended air operations by HM Aircraft Carrier
FURIOUS against enemy shipping off Norwegian coast was not carried out.)
March Home Fleet deployment at Scapa Flow in continuation.
31st Taken in hand for refit in Tyne shipyard.
April Under refit.
(Note: Aircraft facilities removed and additional 20mm Oerlikon guns fitted.)
May Rejoined Home Fleet.
(Note: Operation by Home Fleet units to cover air strikes was abandoned when ships sighted and
ships returned to Scapa Flow.)
19th Took part in Home Fleet exercises to prepare for support of planned allied landings in Normandy.
June Remained at Scapa Flow for deployment by major Home Fleet units as needed in Channel or in
(Note: Home Fleet units were deployed for diversionary operations off coast of Norway to
suggest assault operations in Norway were intended.
Ship did not therefore take part in active operations in Channel for NEPTUNE).
30th Nominated for duty with British Pacific Fleet and arrived in Clyde for refit in commercial
August Under refit in Clyde shipyard to prepare for service in Pacific.
to Fire control radar Type 284 replaced by modern Type 274 centimetric Radar.
December Type 277 and Type 293 fitted for surface warning and for height finding.
Type 281B air warning radar using only one aerial unit replaced Type 281 which used two masts.
(For details of development and use of radar by RN see RADAR AT SEA by D Howse)
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January Under refit
March Carried out harbour trials
9th Shipyard work completed and carried out sea trials.
April Prepared for foreign service at Scapa Flow with Home Fleet ships.
3rd Sailed for Mediterranean to work-up.
June Completed work-up.
6th Took passage to Far East via Ceylon.
7th Arrived Sydney to join BPF with HM Cruiser BELFAST.
August Deployed at Sydney
15th Nominated for duty in British Task Unit 111.3 with HM Aircraft carrier
COLOSSUS, HM Cruiser ARGONAUT, HM Cruiser BELFAST and HM Destroyers
TUMULT, TUSCAN, TYRIAN and QUIBERON.