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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2005

HMS EMERALD  -  World War 1 E-class Cruiser including Convoy Escort Movements

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net 

HMS Emerald (for appearance, see Addenda)  (Navy Photos, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

E-Class Cruiser ordered from Armstrong shipyard, High Walker, Newcastle on 7th March 1918 and laid down on 23rd September that year. The ship was launched on 19th May 1920 and was the 12th RN ship to bear this name, introduced in 1757 for a Prize and last used for a frigate in 1861. After launch the ship was towed to HM Dockyard, Chatham where build was completed on 14th January 1926. She commissioned for service in the 4th Cruiser Sqdn on the East Indies Station but returned from Colombo to Gibraltar soon after arrival on Station for repairs to feed tanks. Soon after return to the Squadron she was detached for service on the China Station in December 1926. The ship resumed Squadron duties based at Colombo in the following September. Apart from return to UK for refits, the whole of her pre-war service from 1927 onwards was in the East Indies until July 1938 when she paid-off at Chatham and was deployed there with a special complement as a Boys Training Ship. In July 1939 the ship recommissioned with a largely Reservist complement for attendance at the Review of the Reserve Fleet at Weymouth by HM King George VI on 9th August and remained in commission as part of the mobilisation carried out immediately before the outbreak of WW2. She joined the 12th Cruiser Squadron and took up her War Station on 31st August when she sailed from Scapa Flow for interception of German shipping on Northern Patrol. Following a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in June 1942 this cruiser was adopted by the civil community of County Antrim, Ulster.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s




M o t t o

        Fide et fiducia :  'By faith and trust'


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

     Badge:  On a Field Black, an Emerald Green, set in Gold

    over a Crescent Silver set in Gold



D e t a i l s   o f   W a r   S e r v i c e


(for more ship information, go to Naval History Homepage and type name in Site Search



1 9 3 9


September             Deployed on Northern Patrol with 12th Cruiser Squadron, Home Fleet

                7th          Returned to Scapa Flow.

                10th        Sailed for interception patrol.

                17th        Returned to Scapa Flow

                20th        Sailed from Scapa Flow for patrol.

                28th        Returned to Scapa Flow.

                                (For details of deployment of Northern Patrol see THE BLOCKADERS

                                by C Hampshire)


October                 Transferred to South American Division, America and West Indies.

                2nd         Took passage from Scapa Flow for Plymouth

                3rd          Arrived at Plymouth and AA armament supplemented by fit of 0.5in

                                machine guns.

                7th          Deployed with HM Battleship REVENGE, HM Cruisers ENTERPRISE

                                and CARADOC for transfer of gold bullion for safe custody in Canada.

                                Took passage to Halifax.

                17th        Disembarked gold bullion.

                                Transferred to Halifax Escort Force.

                18th        Sailed from Halifax for UK as part of escort for Atlantic convoy.

                29th        Arrived at Portsmouth


November              Nominated for transfer of further gold bullion.

                13th         Passage to Canada after call at Plymouth.

                21st         Arrived at Halifax and rejoined Halifax Escort Force.

                26th         Sailed for Bermuda for exercises.



                7th          Arrived at Halifax from Bermuda.

                10th        Took passage from Halifax with HM Battlecruiser REPULSE,

                                HM Battleship RESOLUTION and HM Aircraft Carrier FURIOUS

                                as escort for military convoy TC1 during Atlantic passage.

                                (Note: This convoy comprised troopships AQUITANIA, EMPRESS

                                OF BRITAIN, EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA, MONARCH

                                OF BERMUDA and DUCHESS OF ATHOLL taking first

                                contingent of Canadian troops to UK)

                19th        Returned to Halifax after detaching from TC1.

                20th        Sailed from Halifax as escort for Atlantic convoy.


1 9 4 0



                3rd          Arrived at Portsmouth for repair.

                12th        Took passage from Portsmouth for Halifax to resume duties.

                18th        Arrived at Halifax.

                22nd       Sailed as escort for convoy during Atlantic passage.


February                Halifax Escort Force deployment in continuation.

                                Sustained structural damage in heavy weather and machinery

                                defects. Repair arranged at Southampton.

                15th        Taken in hand for repair at commercial shipyard.


March                    Under repair.



                30th        Post repair trials.


May                        Embarked gold bullion and took passage to Halifax.

                                Deployed as escort for DUCHESS OF RICHMOND for passage

                                from Halifax to Clyde.

                                Return passage to Halifax.


June                        Deployed for escort of Halifax-Bermuda convoy.

                10th        Sailed from Halifax as escort for troopship EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA

                                during passage to Iceland with Canadian troops for occupation after

                                fall of Denmark and initial landing of British forces.

                16th        Arrived at Reykjavik and embarked survivors from British aircraft

                                and four German prisoners of war for passage to Clyde.

                19th        Passage to Greenock.

                23rd        Embarked gold bullion at Greenock.

                24th        Sailed from Greenock for Halifax escorted by HM Destroyers

                                COSSACK and ATHERSTONE.

                25th        Escort detached due to adverse weather conditions and required speed.

                30th        Arrived at Halifax to discharge cargo and resume Halifax Escort Force



July                         Deployed for escort of Halifax-Bermuda convoys

                                Nominated for escort of troop convoy on return from Bermuda.

                                Deployed with HM Battleship REVENGE for escort of military

                                convoy TC6 taking Canadian troops to UK.



                1st           Arrived in Clyde with TC6.

                5th          Joined military convoy WS2 in Clyde as part of escort with HM

                                Cruiser SHROPSHIRE during passage to Middle East in NW


                7th          Detached from escort of WS2 and took passage to Halifax.

                                Transferred to Home waters in view of threat of German invasion and took

                                passage to Clyde.

                                (Note: One source records that this order was made during service

                                on Halifax-Bermuda route after return to Halifax from WS2.)



                13th        Arrived at Greenock for anti-invasion patrol duties in Western

                                Approaches Command.

                17th        Sailed from Clyde with HMS REVENGE and four destroyers to take

                                up duties based at Plymouth.

                29th        Deployed with HM Destroyers BROKE, VELOX, Polish ORP

                                GARLAND and ORP BLYSKAWICA to investigate report of two

                                German destroyers in area of Scillies.

                30th        No enemy ship sighted but HM Yacht SAPPHO was sunk near

                                Falmouth possibly by the reported vessels.

                                Remained in area with three destroyers and carried out further search

                                overnight without success.


October                  Returned to Plymouth.

                11th        Deployed with HMS REVENGE, seven destroyers and six MGBs to

                                carry out bombardment of Cherbourg screened by HM Cruisers

                                NEWCASTLE and CARDIFF with screen of six destroyers.

                                (Operation MEDIUM)

                12th        Returned to Plymouth on completion of MEDIUM.

                17th        Deployed with HMS NEWCASTLE and five destroyers for patrol

                                in SW Approaches.

                                HMS NEWCASTLE engaged five German destroyers off Lands End

                                but range of 18,000 yards made joint fire with old weapons ineffective.

                                Under air attack Enemy ships fired torpedoes which were avoided.

                                Enemy force retired at high speed towards Brest and in view of

                                increased air support, chase discontinued.

                                Returned to Plymouth and Paid-off prior to refit.


November              Under repair and refit by HM Dockyard, Devonport.

                                Additional close range weapons fitted and after 6” gun removed.


December              Under refit at Devonport.


1 9 4 1



                2nd         Recommisssioned

                                Sustained damage in collision with dockyard wall on departure from

                                refit and taken in hand for repair.

                12th        Took passage from Plymouth to join 4th Cruiser Squadron in the East

                                Indies and joined military convoy WS5B as part of Ocean Escort with

                                HM Cruisers NAIAD, PHOEBE and AUSTRALIAN (RAN) for

                                Atlantic passage.

                15th        Remained with HMAS AUSTRALIA as Ocean Escort for WS5B

                                when HMS NAIAD and PHOEBE detached.

                25th        At Freetown with WS5B



                8th          At Capetown with WS5B

                                (Note: One source records that ship supported British military

                                operations to occupy Italian Somaliland (Operation

                                CANVAS) and that she rejoined WS5B on release.

                                Kismayu was captured on 16th February. This record

                                is subject to confirmation. Also entries marked *)

                12th*      Sailed from Capetown with WS5B as Ocean Escort.

                15th*      Sailed from Durban with WS5B as Ocean Escort,

                21st         Detached from WS5B with troopships EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA,

                                EMPRESS OF JAPAN, ORMONDE and WINDSOR CASTLE as

                                Ocean Escort for passage into Mombasa as WS5BX.

                                Diverted on passage to join HM Aircraft Carrier HERMES, HM

                                Cruisers AUSTRALIA (RAN), CANBERRA (RAN), GLASGOW

                                ENTERPRISE and SHROPSHIRE as Force V in search for German

                                commerce raider ADMIRAL SCHEER reported in Indian Ocean.

                                (Note: British freighter CANADIAN CRUISER reported a raider

                                attack on 21st and was subsequently sunk by ADMIRAL


                24th        Detached from Force V when search abandoned

                                Passage to Bombay.

                                (Note: Sources are at variance regarding further escort of WS5BX

                                which was escorted by HM Cruiser CAPETOWN to Bombay

                                after 27th and arrived at Bombay on 3rd March.)



                7th          Arrived at Bombay and joined Squadron for trade defence and

                                convoy escort in Indian Ocean.

                                (Note: This date tends to confirm ship not part of WS5BX

                                escort and is subject to confirmation)

                11th        Sailed from Bombay to relieve HM Armed Merchant Cruiser

                                ANTENOR as escort for Convoy BM4 on passage to Bombay

                                from Colombo.

                23rd        Detached from BM4 and took passage to Trincomalee.


April                       Passage to Karachi after call at Colombo.

                8th          Arrived at Karachi.

                10th        Nominated for support of British operations in Persian Gulf

                                after threat of German forces being allowed to enter Iraq after

                                coup d’etat and took passage to Basra at all despatch.

                13th        Arrived at Basra.

                20th        Joined at Basra by HM Cruiser LEANDER which had arrived

                                with military convoy BM7 bringing Indian troops.


May                        Deployed in Persian Gulf up the Shatt-el-Arab in support of

                                military operations

                                (Note: During this period an outbreak of malaria caused concern

                                as number of cases reported over 70 with two deaths.)


June                        Released from service with Persian Gulf Division and took passage

                                to resume trade defence duties based at Colombo.

                                On arrival deployed for escort of convoy to Singapore.

                15th        Involved in collision with HM Cruiser DAUNTLESS in Malacca

                                Straits and sustained major damage.

                                (Note: This included partial flooding of forward engine room

                                and structural damage amidships with 14 of ship’s

                                company killed or missing and five injured.)

                16th        Arrived at Singapore and taken in hand for repair.


July                         Under repair by HM Dockyard.


August                  On completion of post repair trials took passage to join Force V

                                in search for mercantile which proved to be friendly vessel.

                                Resumed Indian Ocean trade defence deployment.

                25th        At Seychelles.


September             Deployed in search for Vichy French ships reported on passage

                                to Europe from Indo China.

                15th        Relieved HM Cruiser HAWKINS as Ocean Escort for military

                                convoy WS10B during passage to Bombay from Durban.

                20th        Detached from WS10B on arrival at Bombay.


October                  Indian Ocean deployment in continuation including search for

to                            Vichy French ships and escort of RFA Tanker DERWENTDALE

December              from Durban to Aden in November.


1 9 4 2


January                  Escorted transport MOUNT VERNON from Mombasa to join

                                military convoy BM1.

                                Escorted BM1 for passage to Addu Atoll.

                9th          Escort joined at Addu Atoll by HM Cruiser DURBAN, Dutch

                                cruiser JAVA and HM Sloop JUMNA (RIN) for passage to

                                Singapore with BM1.

                13th        Arrived at Singapore with HM Cruiser DURBAN, HM Destroyers

                                ENCOUNTER, JUPITER and VAMPIRE (RAN) as escort for

                                Convoy DM1.


                16th        Embarked Admiral Layton, recently appointed CinC Eastern

                                Fleet after death of Admiral Phillips at Batavia, Java for passage

                                to Trincomalee to set up headquarters for Eastern Fleet to be

                                formed following outbreak of war with Japan.

                                See Naval Staff History Battle Summary 15 Appendix A and

                                WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO).

                21st         Arrived at Trincomalee.

                28th        Joined Convoy BM12 as escort for passage to Singapore.

                31st         Joined Convoy DM2 on passage from Durban to Singapore

                                escorted by HM Cruiser DANAE and Dutch cruiser JAVA.

                                Detached when BM12 ships transferred and took passage to




                3rd          Arrived at Trincomalee.

                                Resumed trade defence and covering duties in Indian Ocean.



                12th        During passage in Indian Ocean rescued nine survivors from

                                British vessel LAKSHIMA GOVINDA which had been sunk by

                                a Japanese submarine in Bay of Bengal on 10th.

                                Passage to Karachi to land survivors

                                Deployed with HM Cruiser DORSETSHIRE.

                23rd        Nominated for transfer to Eastern Fleet on formation.

                25th        Rejoined Squadron at Trincomalee.

                28th        Nominated with HM Battleship WARSPITE, HM Aircraft

                                Carriers INDOMITABLE and FORMIDABLE with HM

                                Cruisers CORNWALL, DORSETSHIRE, ENTERPRISE,

                                HM Destroyers NAPIER, NESTOR, PALADIN, PANTHER,

                                HOTSPUR and FOXHOUND for service as Force A.

                                See references.

                30th        Sailed from Trincomalee with Dutch cruiser HEEMSKERCK

                                to join Force A south of Ceylon.

                31st         Deployed with Force A in search for Japanese warships reported

                                on passage towards Ceylon.



                4th          Resumed search after refuelling at Addu Atoll

                                (Note: HMS DORSETSHIRE and HMS CORNWALL which

                                had been detached from Force A were recalled but were

                                sunk on 5th after being sighted by Japanese aircraft.)

                7th          Took passage to Addu Atoll to refuel when operation abandoned.

                8th          Passage to Bombay with ships of Force A.

                                Passage to Seychelles with HMS RESOLUTION when Eastern

                                Fleet transferred to Mombasa in view of vulnerability of

                                Ceylon to Japanese air attacks.


May                        Passage from Seychelles to Mombasa to resume trade defence,

                                raider interception patrol and convoy escort in Indian Ocean.

                8th          Arrived at Mombasa.


                30th        Joined military convoy WS18 to relieve HM Battleship

                                RESOLUTION and HM Seaplane Carrier ALBATROSS

                                as Ocean Escort

                31st         Detached from WS18 on relief by HM Armed Merchant Cruiser



June                        Escorted damaged battleship HMS RAMILLIES during

                                passage from Aden to Durban with three destroyers.

                                Detached to carry out patrol 80 miles east of Durban to

                                intercept Japanese commerce raiders acting as supply ships

                                for submarines.

                                See WAR WITH JAPAN, Volume III (HMSO).

                15th        Escorted mercantiles from Durban to join military convoy WS19

                                and joined HMS SHROPSHIRE as Ocean Escort.

                23rd        Detached from WS19 with HM Destroyers BELVOIR and

                                HURSLEY and took passage to Mombasa

                                Nominated for return to UK for refit.

                30th        At Simonstown.

July                         Passage to UK from Simonstown

                                (Note: It may be assumed that the ship escorted a routine convoy

                                for all or part of passage).

                27th        Arrived in Clyde and took passage to Portsmouth.


August                  At Portsmouth. Paid off and prepared for refit.

                7th          Taken in hand for refit and modernisation by HM Dockyard.


September             Under Dockyard Control.

to                            Refit work included:

December              Aircraft warning radar Type 281 fitted with aerials on new

                                tripod mainmast and existing foremast.

                                IFF incorporated in aircraft warning radar fit..

                                Surface warning radar Type 273 fitted on Bridge structure.

                                Fire control radars Type 282 for close range AA defence

                                and Type 285 for main armament

                                Close range AA defence armament improved.

                                No 7 6in mounting transferred to Quarterdeck site.

                                After torpedo tube mounting replaced by Carley Float stowage.

                                F’csle Plating extended to midships forward of waist.


1 9 4 3


January                  Under refit.




April                       Post refit trials.

                7th          Recommissioned for service in 4th Cruiser Squadron,

                                Eastern Fleet.

                                Took passage to Scapa Flow.

May                        Carried out work-up for operational service at Scapa Flow

                                up at Scapa Flow.


June                        Deployed in NW Approaches


July                         Joined military convoy KMF19 in Clyde as part of escort during

                                passage to Gibraltar with troops and equipment for planned

                                landings in Sicily.

                                Detached from KMF19 on arrival at Gibraltar and took passage

                                to Cape of Good Hope.

                                (Note: One source records convoy escort between Freetown

                                and Cape of Good Hope.


August                  Passage in Indian Ocean.

                20th        Arrived at Kilindini for redesignated service with 5th Cruiser

                                Squadron, Eastern Fleet for trade defence and convoy escort in

                                Indian Ocean..



                3rd          Joined military convoy WS32 as Ocean Escort on passage from

                                Durban to Bombay.

                10th        Detached from WS32 on arrival at Bombay.

                                Took passage to Aden

                28th        At Aden.


October                  Deployed for convoy defence between Aden and Durban.




1 9 4 4


January                  Transferred to Colombo for Fleet duties with 4th Cruiser

to                            Squadron and took passage from Kilindini.

February                Deployed in Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea.

                                (Note: By February HM Battlecruiser RENOWN, HM

                                Battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT

                                had joined Fleet at Trincomalee and were preparing

                                for operations against enemy positions in Sumatra

                                and Andaman Islands. See WAR WITH JAPAN and

                                THE FORGOTTEN FLEET by J Winton.)


March                    Nominated for return to UK.

                3rd          Took passage from Trincomalee.

                22nd       Rescued 32 survivors from British freighter NANCY

                                MOLLER sunk by a Japanese submarine on 18th.

                                (Note: Survivors were landed in Durban)


April                       Passage in Atlantic.

                                Joined Home Fleet on arrival and took passage to Rosyth

                                for refit.

                                Nominated for service in support of planned allied landings

                                in Normandy with Bombarding Force K and to join Eastern

                                Task Force on release from Force K (Operation NEPTUNE)

                                Target in Pre-Arranged Fire Plan –Arromanches for assault

                                by Force G on GOLD beaches. For details see LANDINGS

                                IN NORMANDY, June 1944 (HMSO).)



                2nd         Taken in hand for refit by HM Dockyard.

                                (Note: Aircraft facilities removed and additional 20mm

                                Oerlikon guns fitted.)

                                On completion joined 10th Cruiser Squadron at Scapa Flow.

                                Took part in bombardment exercises off Cape Wrath.

                31st         Arrived in Clyde to join ships of Force K



                3rd          Took passage to Portsmouth with HM Cruisers ORION,

                                AJAX, ARGONAUT and Dutch Gunboat FLORES, HM

                                Destroyers GRENVILLE and UNDINE.

                4th          Operation delayed 24 hours.

                5th          In Solent awaiting departure through swept channel.

                6th          Arrived in Bombardment position.

                                Carried out bombardment of batteries off Gold Beach.

                7th          Under air attack and sustained slight damage from near


                                Provided naval gunfire support for landing of Royal Marine

                                Commando attack on Port en Besin. Towed to position because

                                of threat from acoustic mines after DRAGON blew up alongside.


                16th        Returned to Portsmouth to replenish for further support

                                duties in Eastern Task Force.


July                         Eastern Task Force deployment in continuation.      

                7th          Provided naval gunfire support during military operations

                                in Caen area.

                                On release from Eastern Task Force took passage to Rosyth

                                for repair


August                  Under repair at Rosyth.

                                On completion future service under consideration.

                                (Note: Transfer to RCN for training duties was not



September             Withdrawn from operational use and Paid-off.

to                            Reduced to Reserve status at Rosyth.

October                  Reducing to Reserve.



                3rd          Accepted into Reserve Category B at Rosyth.


December              Laid-up at Rosyth


1 9 4 5


January                  Deployed as Senior Officer’s Ship, Reserve Fleet Rosyth.

to August              from March


P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS EMERALD was placed in Category C Reserve in December 1945 and beached at Rosyth. After a year her equipment was removed prior tow for use as an underwater trials target in Loch Striven in May 1947. Placed on the Disposal List in 1948 she was sold for demolition on 23rd June 1948 and arrived in tow at Troon on 23rd July 1948.







by Don Kindell


These convoy lists have not been cross-checked with the text above 






Date convoy sailed

Joined convoy as escort

Convoy No.

Left convoy

Date convoy arrived








HX 005





TC 001





HX 013





HX 017





HX 043





BHX 057





TC 006





WS 002





BHX 067





BHX 070





HX 070





BM 004/1





BM 005





DM 001





BM 012





MR 003





SR 007





KMF 019





CM 044





BA 048





CM 042





CM 051A








(Note on Convoys)


1933-1938 MOVEMENTS
by Jon Summers

After being relieved by HM Light Cruiser COLOMBO, HMS EMERALD returned from the East Indies and paid off for refit on 15 July 1933. She recommissioned on 31 August 1934, again for the East Indies and was next relieved apparently in September 1937 (though clearly not by HM Light Cruiser LIVERPOOL as stated in one source), when she returned to the UK, paying off again in July 1938 at Chatham. This is  where the above introduction picks up her story.  The introductory photograph shows the ship after her 1933-34 Chatham refit, when her funnels were raised by 5 feet, and the mainmast moved from a position just aft of the third funnel to just forrard of it, to create space for a catapult to be fitted aft. 


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