CAPETOWN Class cruiser ordered from by Armstrong’s at Newcastle in June 1917 and laid down on 18th October 1917. She was launched on 9th July 1918 and build was completed on 21st August 1919. After 1927 HMS CALCUTTA was placed in Reserve and used for training of Boy Seamen. She was selected for conversion to an AA Cruiser at Chatham in 1938 and on completion the next year joined the Home Fleet. This ship was the only AA cruiser not fitted with radar.
1 9 1 9
2nd Commissioned for Trials
8th Took passage to Portsmouth from Tyne.
August At Portsmouth for trials and completion.
18th Passage to Greenock for Acceptance Trials in Clyde area.
21st Formal Build completion date and commenced Acceptance Trials.
22nd Passage to Portsmouth for full commissioning and completion of storing.
24th Commissioned for service as Flagship of 8th Light Cruiser Squadron on North America
and West Indies Station.
September Deployed at Portsmouth preparing for foreign service.
28th Took passage to Bermuda with call at Devonport.
9th Arrived at Bermuda.
21st Sustained damage whilst alongside jetty at Bermuda in hurricane conditions
November Deployed as Flagship 18th Light Cruiser Squadron
to (Note: Visits were paid to ports in Caribbean and North America with Squadron exercises
December in Atlantic.)
1 9 2 0 t o 1 9 2 5
Deployment as Flagship on North America and West Indies Station based at Bermuda
1 9 2 6
January Bermuda deployment in continuation
21st Sustained serious structural damage at Bermuda caused by ship rolling against masonry whilst
alongside jetty during hurricane weather conditions.
November Under repair to allow ship to return to UK.
On completion took passage to Chatham
4th Commission termination and Paid-off.
(Note: Ship’s company transferred to HM Cruiser DESPATCHES.
13th Placed in Nore Command Reserve Fleet.
1 9 2 7
January Laid-up in Medway awaiting dockyard repair.
to (Note: Ship may have been used for training of new entries and other personnel.)
1 9 2 8
January Laid-up in Reserve at Chatham
21st Taken in hand for repair by HM Dockyard, Chatham.
May Under repair
to Nominated for service as Flagship of 6th Cruiser Squadron on South Africa Station.
September On completion prepared for Foreign Service at Chatham
18th Commissioned for service in place of HM Cruiser BIRMINGHAM based at Simonstown.
October Passage to Simonstown.
November Deployed as Flagship for CS6 and carried out visits and exercise programme with
to ships of Squadron.
December (Note: Ships of Squadron visited ports in South Atlantic and Indian Oceans.)
1 9 2 9 t o 1 9 3 0
South African Station Squadron deployment in continuation.
1 9 3 1
January Nominated for refit on return to UK.
Prepared for return passage
February Passage to Chatham to Pay-off
March Taken in hand for refit prior to reduction to reserve status.
24th Commenced Reserve service at Chatham.
May Laid-up at Chatham.
1 9 3 2
Chatham Reserve service in continuation.
1 9 3 3
January Chatham Reserve service in continuation
to Nominated for use as overflow Boys Training Ship pending availability of
October HM Cruiser DRAGON for this duty.
10th Re-commissioned for use as Boys Training Ship at Chatham
December Training Ship service at Chatham in continuation
1 9 3 4 t o 1 9 3 6
Training Ship service at Chatham in continuation.
1 9 3 7
Training Ship service at Chatham in continuation
Nominated for conversion to Anti-aircraft Ship
1 9 3 8
January Training Ship service at Chatham in continuation.
to Conversion delayed and remained in use at Training Ship
June Deployed as SORF for Nore Command after relief in Training role by HM Cruiser
July Deployed as RNVR Drill Ship for Humber Division as relied for HM Cruiser
August Taken in hand for conversion to AA cruiser by HM Dockyard Chatham
(Note: The work undertaken was not as extensive as in the earlier changes made
in HM Cruisers COVENTRY and CURLEW in order to reduce the
time required for dockyard work. This was an important factor in view of
the likelihood of hostilities with Germany.)
September Under conversion.
1 9 3 9
January Under conversion.
to Carried out post conversion trials in Nore Command area.
August Re-commissioned and nominated for service with Home Fleet
War Station nominated.
Passage to Scapa Flow for service as AA Guardship.
(Note: The possibility of all trials not being complete is to be investigated
as the time available to complete working-up must have been limited.)
D e t a i l s o f W a r S e r v i c e
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1 9 3 9
September Deployed with Home Fleet as AA ship at Scapa Flow.
15th Sailed from Scapa Flow
(Note: This may have been part of a working-up requirement.)
18th Returned to Scapa Flow to resume AA Guardship duty
26th Detached for duty with 7th Cruiser Squadron for Northern Patrol to intercept
German mercantiles returning to Germany and for Contraband Control.
29th Transferred to Humber Force for AA defence of East Coast convoys based at Grimsby.
30th Deployed for convoy AA defence in North Sea and NW Approaches.
October Coastal convoy defence in continuation.
1 9 4 0
January Coastal convoy defence in North Sea and leave period.
February Transferred to Home Fleet for AA defence duties and convoy escort.
27th Escorted damaged destroyer HMS IMPERIAL to Lerwick after collision with merchant
ship in convoy.
March Home Fleet deployment for AA defence in continuation.
1st Provided AA defence for inward Norwegian convoy HN20
5th Escorted outward Norwegian Convoy ON25 with HM Destroyers JAVELIN, GRENADE
and JANUS during passage from Clyde in NW Approaches.
7th Convoy recalled after German invasion and detached to rejoin Home Fleet
10th Deployed with Home Fleet for AA defence off Norway (Operation RUPERT/R4)
16th Searched with HM Cruiser EFFINGHAM, HM Cruiser YORK and HM Destroyer
ASHANTI for German warships reported off Alesund on passage to Trondheim.
20th Arrived at Andalsnes to provide AA defence.
(Note: Rear Admiral Vivian was embarked as Flag Officer AA cruisers and later became
Senior Naval Officer at Namsos.)
22nd Covered landing of French troops from transport VILLE D'ALGER at Namsos with
HM Cruiser BIRMINGHAM, HM Destroyer MAORI. HM Sloop AUCKLAND,
French destroyers BISON and FOUDROYANT.
Landings could not be completed because of snow storm.
Transferred to Namsos for AA defence
27th Transferred to Andalsnes and deployed as AA Guardship duty in Romsdalfjord.
29th Provided AA defence during evacuation of allied troops from Andalsnes and Molde.
1st Embarked last 720 troops from SICKLE FORCE for return to UK.
9th Diverted with HM Destroyer ZULU to intercept ship taking 300 German troops to
Hemneskerget to cut off British troops.
10th Interception failed and British had left area.
Sank ss NORD NORGE and destroyed petrol stores before leaving to assist with the
evacuation at Mo and Mosjoin.
On completion joined HM Cruiser PENELOPE, HM Sloop IBIS, HM Destroyer WITCH
and HM Destroyer Leader CAMPBELL to supplement AA defence during passage to UK.
(For details of naval activities during military operations in Norway see ENGAGE THE
ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by Corelli Barnett, NARVIK by Donald Macintyre, THE
DOOMED EXPEDITION by D Adams and Naval Staff History).
14th Deployed at Scapa Flow.
Nominated for service in Mediterranean with three Sloops.
26th Transferred to Nore Command for evacuation of allied troops from Dunkirk
Foreign service deployment delayed.
28th Evacuated 534 troops from beaches and took passage to Sheerness to disembark
29th Returned to beaches and embarked 1,200 troops for return to Sheerness.
30th Deployed to provide AA defence in Nore Command
June Channel and Nore Command deployment in continuation
(For details see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY and Naval Staff History
(HMSO – 2002).
On completion of DYNAMO deployed in English Channel to provide AA defence and to
assist in evacuation of allied forces and civilians from France.
18th Assisted with evacuation from La Verdone (Operation AERIAL).
Deployed off French coast to intercept enemy ships off Gironde estuary with H M
23rd Embarked troops and other personnel at St Jean de Luz and took passage to Portsmouth.
25th Joined in Gironde Estuary by HM Canadian Destroyers FRASER and RESTIGOUCHE
to intercept craft reported in area.
In collision at speed with HMCS FRASER whilst manoeuvring off Bayonne.
Destroyer’s bows broke away and sank.
150 survivors were rescued but 66 men were lost.
26th After part of HMCS FRASER sunk with scuttling charges.
Took passage to Devonport with part of the bridge structure of HMCS FRASER still on
HM Destroyer HIGHLANDER provided escort.
(For details of allied evacuation operations see Naval Staff Histories).
27th Arrived at Plymouth and disembarked passengers.
Repair arranged at Tyne commercial shipyard
July Took passage to Tyne from Plymouth.
Under repair in Tyne shipyard.
Rejoined Home Fleet on completion.
20th Detached as AA Guardship during minelay by ships of 1st Minelaying Squadron in
SW Approaches (Operation SN31).
On completion deployed for AA defence.
August Prepared for service with Mediterranean Fleet at Alexandria to augment AA defence.
Notified of departure for Mediterranean with ships on passage to join Fleet at Alexandria,
23rd Passage to Gibraltar with HM Battleship VALIANT, HM Aircraft Carrier
ILLUSTRIOUS and HM Cruiser COVENTRY covered by HM Cruiser SHEFFIELD
and destroyers of the 8th Destroyer Flotilla as escort for Middle East military convoy.
28th Joined ships of Force H for exercised with Force H ships.
30th Part of Force F with HMS VALIANT, HMS ILLUSTRIOUS and HMS COVENTRY
escorted by HM Battlecruiser RENOWN, HM Aircraft Carrier ARK ROYAL, HMS
SHEFFIELD and destroyers of Force H to join Mediterranean Fleet at Alexandria.
2nd Disembarked passengers in Malta.
3rd Detached with HMS COVENTRY to escort Convoy AS3 during passage in Aegean
from Greece to Alexandria.
Under air attacks.
6th Arrived at Alexandria for Mediterranean Fleet duties.
10th Deployed as Close Escort for Convoy AN3 during passage from in Alexandria in
(Note: Cover was provided by HM Cruisers KENT, LIVERPOOL and GLASGOW
of 3rd Cruiser Squadron.)
13th Convoy under unsuccessful air attacks
29th Deployed as escort for Convoy AN5 with two destroyers during passage in Aegean
(Note: This was concurrent with Operation MB5 passage of military convoy to
Malta, See Naval Staff History (HMSO 2002.)
8th Deployed as Close Escort for Malta Convoy MF5 with HMS COVENTRY and four
destroyers during passage from Alexandria covered by Mediterranean Fleet units.
(Operation MB6 .See above reference.)
11th Arrived and Malta and sailed as escort for eastbound Convoy MF4 with same ships
during passage to Alexandria.
(Note: Cover was provided by Mediterranean Fleet units.)
Italian attack by torpedo boats repelled by Fleet units which sank three enemy ships.)
12th Fleet units under air attacks
13th Remained with ME4 when HM Cruisers COVENTRY and AJAX were detached with
two destroyers to join Convoy AS4 as escort during passage to Alexandria from
14th Fleet units under further air attacks during which HM Cruiser LIVERPOOL was
AS4 and escort merged with ME4.
16th Arrived at Alexandria.
For full details see above reference.)
29th Deployed with two destroyers as escort for Convoy AN5 during passage to Greece
covered by Fleet units (Operation MAQ2)
4th Deployed with HMS COVENTRY, and five destroyers as escort for Convoy MW3
during initial stage of passage to Malta. (Operation MB8)
Detached from MW3 and escorted Convoy AN6 to Suda Bay.
5th Arrived at Suda Bay with AN6 and returned to Alexandria.
(Note: Operation MB8 was part of a Fleet operation in conjunction with the attack
on the Italian Fleet at Taranto by Force H (Operation JUDGEMENT).
December Deployed in Eastern Mediterranean for AA defence.
1 9 4 1
7th Joined Force C with HM Cruiser CALCUTTA, HM Destroyers DIAMOND and
DEFENDER as close escort for Malta supply convoy (MW5 1/2) covered by
Mediterranean Fleet as part of joint operation for passage of military convoy from
Gibraltar to Piraeus and Alexandria (Operation EXCESS)
Under sustained and heavy air attacks by newly arrived German Stuka aircraft.
February Deployed in eastern Mediterranean for AA defence duties.
5th Provided AA defence for military convoys from Alexandria to Piraeus with sister
AA cruisers HMS COVENTRY and HMS CARLISLE (Operation LUSTRE).
22nd Assisted defence of convoy off Piraeus with HMS COVENTRY.
25th When refuelling with HMS COVENTRY at Suda Bay, HM Cruiser YORK was
attacked by Italian Explosive Motor Boats.
7th Undamaged at Piraeus during air attack on port when ss CLAN FRASER was bombed
and blew up.
18th Escorted Malta supply convoy(ME1) including supply ship HMS BRECONSHIRE to
Malta with HM Battleships WARSPITE and BARHAM, HM Aircraft Carrier
FORMIDABLE and HM Cruiser PHOEBE screened by destroyers.
20th Deployed for AA defence of Mediterranean Fleet during bombardment of Tripoli.
23rd Escorted Convoy AG13 with HMS PHOEBE, HM Destroyers STUART (RAN) and
VOYAGER (RAN) to Suda Bay for evacuation of allied troops from Greece
24th Based at Suda Bay with HM Cruisers ORION, AJAX, PHOEBE, PERTH,
COVENTRY and CARLISLE for evacuation of allied troops.
Deployed with HM Destroyers STUART (RAN), VOYAGER (RAN), HM Corvettes
HYACINTH and SALVIA to escort three ships in Convoy AG13 to evacuate troops from
Raftia and Nauphlia.
Took passage to Suda Bay to disembark passengers.
26th Joined HMS ORION, HMS PHOEBE and HM Destroyer DEFENDER off Nauphlia with
HMS DIAMOND, HMS STUART (RAN) and HMS GRIFFIN off to continue evacuation
27th Returned to Suda Bay.
Escorted Convoy GA14 taking troops to Alexandria.
5th Covered two convoys to Malta with HM Cruisers DIDO, PHOEBE, COVENTRY and
9th Deployed with Mediterranean Fleet ships to meet military convoy bringing tanks for 8th
Army in Egypt (Operation TIGER)
10th Air attacks repelled by aircraft from HMS FORMIDABLE.
20th Deployed north of Crete as Force C with HMS NAIAD, HMS PERTH and 4 destroyers
to intercept invasion convoys.
Sighted one ship which was sunk by destroyers.
Subjected to sustained air attacks.
21st Under heavy attack by Italian high level bombers during which HM Destroyer JUNO
22nd Deployed with HMS NAIAD, HMS PERTH (RAN), HMS CARLISLE, HM Destroyers
KANDAHAR, KINGSTON and NUBIAN off Heraklion for patrol and interception.
Under sustained heavy air attacks.
26th Assisted with evacuation of allied troops from Sphakia.
27th Under air attack during passage to Alexandria and twice hit.
28th Sailed as Force D with HMS PHOEBE, HMS PERTH, HMS CALCUTTA,
HMS COVENTRY, HMS JERVIS, HMS JANUS and HMS HASTY.
29th Continued evacuation at Spahkia and took passage to Alexandria on completion.
1st On passage with HMS COVENTRY from Alexandria to provide additional AA protection
for HMS PHOEBE and other ships returning with more troops from Sphakia.
Under air attack by two Ju88.
Hit by two bombs and sank in a few minutes.
255 of ship's company were rescued by HMS COVENTRY.
(For details of Mediterranean operations in 1940 - 1941 by Force H at Gibraltar and
Mediterranean Fleet at Alexandria see BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by
Donald MacIntyre, ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY, MALTA CONVOYS
by R Woodman and Naval Staff Histories)