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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2003

HMS GALATEA - Arethusa-class Light Cruiser
including Convoy Escort Movements

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Arethusa, sister ship (Navy Photos/Mark Teadham, click to enlarge)

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ARETHUSA-Class cruiser ordered from SCOTTS at Greenock on 21st February 1933. The ship was laid down on 2nd June 1933 and launched on the 9th August 1934 as the 7th RN warship to carry the name, dating from 1776. The last ship of this name had the distinction of being the first ship to sight the German High Sea Fleet prior to the Battle of Jutland. Completion date was 3rd September 1935 and the build costs were 1,280,463. She served in the Mediterranean and in 1936 was deployed in an International Squadron monitoring Spanish activities during the civil war In Spain.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s

GROIX  1795 - TAMATAVE  1811  - JUTLAND  1916 - NORWAY   1940 - BISMARCK Action  1941 - MEDITERRANEAN  1941

H e r a l d i c    D a t a

Badge:  On a field Blue, a female head proper crowned

with scallop shells gold.


M o t t o

Nobis Mare Patria :    'The sea is our Fatherland'



S u m m a r y   o f   P r e W a r   S e r v i c e


1 9 3 5



                3rd          Build completion and commissioned for service in 3rd Cruiser Squadron, Mediterranean Fleet.

                                Commenced Acceptance Trials

                                On completion took passage to Portsmouth to complete storing and prepared for foreign service.

                23rd        Sailed from Plymouth to join Squadron.

                25th        Arrived at Gibraltar

                                Passage to Malta


October                  Deployed with Squadron at Malta

                15th        Flag of Rear Admiral (Destroyers) hoisted.


November              Deployed with Squadron fir Exercise and Visits Programme.




19 3 6


January                  Under routine Docking at Malta

                                Resumed Flagship duties on completion.


February                Deployed with Squadron in Mediterranean and took part Fleet Exercises and

to                            visits Programme.

December              (Note: Planned programme was affected by outbreak of civil war in Spain.

                                At one period joined German DEUTSCHLAND and Italian destroyer

                                in joint observation patrol.)

                                Deployed with Fleet Alexandria after Italian invasion of Abyssinia and took

                                part in exercises to prepare for hostilities with newly arrive ships joining

                                Mediterranean Fleet.)


1 9 3 7


                                Squadron deployment in Mediterranean in continuation.


1 9 3 8


January                  Fleet service as Flagship for RA(D) Mediterranean in continuation

to                            Commission had been extended in view of political situation.

February                Nominated for return to UK to re-commission after refit


March                    Took part in Fleet Programme and prepared for return passage.

                31st         Flag of RA(D) transferred to HM Depot Ship WOOLWICH.


April                       Passage in Plymouth.

                7th          Arrived at Devonport and Paid-off.

                                Taken in hand for refit by HM Dockyard, Devonport.


May                        Under refit




July                         Post refit harbour trials and prepared for re-commissioning.

                30th        Refit work completed and carried out post refit sea trials.


August                  Re-commissioned for service in 3rd Cruiser Squadron, Mediterranean Fleet.

                8th          Sailed for Gibraltar on completion of trials and storing.

                14th        Sailed from Gibraltar to rejoin Squadron in Malta.


September             Rehoisted Flag of RA(D) Mediterranean Fleet.

                                (Note: Other ships in 3rd Cruiser Squadron were HMS PENELOPE and ARETHUSA (Flag CS3)

                                HMS COVENTRY deployed as an AA Cruiser may have been administered

                                by Squadron.

                                Deployed at Alexandria with Squadron and major Fleet units during Munich crisis.



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             Serving in 3rd Cruiser Squadron, Mediterranean Fleet with H M Cruisers ARETHUSA,

                                PENELOPE and COVENTRY.

                8th          Passage to Gibraltar from UK to Join Squadron at Alexandria.

                18th        Deployed on contraband control and patrol in Mediterranean with ships of Squadron

                                after arrival.


October                  Contraband and patrol duty In continuation.

to                            (For details of naval activities in 1939 see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by

December              C Barnett).


1 9 4 0


January                  Contraband and patrol duty in continuation.

                                Transferred to Home Fleet for duty in 2nd Cruiser Squadron.


February                Passage to UK to Joined HM Cruisers ARETHUSA, AURORA and PENELOPE in Squadron.

                10th        Diverted on passage to UK for temporary duty in Western Approaches Command.

                                Deployed on interception of six German blockade runners attempting to return from

                                Vigo to Germany. Three were captured, two sank and only one arrived in Germany. March



                4th          Deployed at Scapa Flow with Squadron for Home Fleet duties. April



                7th          Sailed from Rosyth with HMS ARETHUSA screened by HM Destroyers CODRINGTON, GRIFFIN

                                ELECTRA and ESCAPADE to join ships of Home Fleet in search for German warships in

                                North Sea.

                9th          After German invasion of Norway detached for offensive sweep to intercept

                                German ships taking reinforcement troops.

                11th        Returned to UK to refuel.

                17th        Sailed from Rosyth with HM Cruisers ARETHUSA, CARLISLE

                                and CURACOA screened by HM Destroyers ACHERON and ARROW as escort for ss ORION

                                taking 148th Infantry Brigade to Namsos (Operation MAURICE).

                18th        Diverted to Andalsnes and transferred troops from ORION to shore.

                                (For details of the disastrous naval operations off Norway see NARVIK by Donald MacIntyre

                                and Naval Staff History

                21st         Embarked troops of 15th Infantry Brigade at Rosyth for passage to Andalsnes.

                22nd       Passage to Norway with HM Cruisers SHEFFIELD and GLASGOW and 6 Fleet


                23rd        Returned to Scapa Flow after 15th Inf. Bde had landed.

                29th        Sailed from Scapa Flow to support evacuation of allied troops.

                30th        Assisted in evacuation of allied troops from Andalsnes and Molde with HM

                                Cruisers ARETHUSA, SHEFFIELD and SOUTHAMPTON.



                1st           Passage to Scapa Flow.

                7th          Transferred to Sheerness with HMS ARETHUSA for anti-invasion duty in North

                                Sea and Channel. Escorted ships from Ymuiden including one with Dutch gold


                24th        Supported military operation in defence of Calais with HMS ARETHUSA

                                and bombarded shore positions (See ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY

                                and HOLD THE NARROW SEA by P. Smith).

                26th        Resumed patrol duties at Sheerness


June                        Anti invasion patrol duties in continuation.

                17th        Deployed in support of military evacuation from ports in Bay of Biscay.

                                (Operation AERIAL - See Naval Staff History).

                                Embarked British Ambassador to France at St. Jean de Luz from HM Destroyer

                                FRASER (RCN) for his return passage to Plymouth. Returned to Bay of Biscay

                                to continue evacuation. Embarked personnel from La Verdone.

                                On completion rejoined Squadron at Scapa Flow.


July                         Deployed on patrol duties in North Sea based on Humber.


August                  North Sea Anti-invasion patrol in continuation.

                25th        Deployed with HM Cruiser CARDIFF in search for invasion craft.

                                Met three destroyers off Sheringham Light Vessel.



                1st           Returned to Humber after fruitless search.

                6th          Deployment at Sheerness in continuation.

                                Damaged by mine and taken in hand for repair at Chatham.


October                  Under repair.

to                            Oerlikon mountings fitted to improve close range AA defence.

December              Radar Type 279 fitted for aircraft warning.

                                Fire control radar fitted for main and AA armament.

                                (For details of development and use of radar in RN see RADAR AT SEA by D Howse).


1 9 4 1



                9th          Rejoined Squadron at Scapa Flow and resumed Home Fleet duties.

February                Deployed for interception patrol and Fleet screening in NW Approaches



                19th        Provided Ocean Escort for ships of 1st Minelaying Squadron during minelay

                                in Northern Barrage (Operation SN69).


                6th          Provided Ocean Escort for ships of 1st Minelaying Squadron during Northern Barrage minelay.

                                (Operation SN8E - For details see Naval Staff History (MINING).)

                                Deployed with AURORA and ARETHUSA on patrol in Faeroes -Iceland Gap

                19th        Brought to short notice at Scapa Flow with ships of Home Fleet when

                                breakout by German battleship BISMARCK was anticipated.

                                (Note: H M Battleship KING GEORGE V, H M Cruisers AURORA,

                                KENYA and HERMIONE, H M Destroyers PUNJABI, LANCE,

                                INTREPID, ACTIVE and WINDSOR)

                22nd       Sailed Scapa Flow to join search.

                24th        Joined HM Aircraft Carrier VICTORIOUS with HM Cruisers AURORA,

                                KENYA and HERMIONE during Home Fleet search for BISMARCK and

                                the cruiser PRINZ EUGEN.

                                (See SINK THE BISMARCK by L Kennedy).

                26th        Detached to refuel.

                31st         At Plymouth


June                        Resumed Squadron duties with Home Fleet.

                                Nominated for transfer to 15th Cruiser Squadron in Eastern Mediterranean.

                29th        Sailed for Alexandria via Cape of Good Hope.


July                         On arrival at Alexandria deployed as AA Guardship at Suez with HM Cruiser NAIAD.


August                  AA Guardship duty in continuation.

                29th        Joined Squadron in Mediterranean Fleet at Alexandria.


September             Deployed with Squadron in Eastern Mediterranean

                20th        Bombarded targets at Tobruk in support of military operations.

                24th        Repeated bombardment duty at Tobruk.

                                (For further details of operations in Eastern Mediterranean see THE BATTLE FOR

                                THE MEDITERRANEAN by D MacIntyre and Naval Staff History).


October                  Squadron deployment in continuation


November              Joined Force B with HM Cruisers AJAX, NEPTUNE, EURYALUS and NAIAD of

                                Squadron to support on operation by Force K from Malta to intercept an Italian

                                convoy to North Africa.

                                (Note: HM Battleship BARHAM that was covering these deployments was sunk

                                by a U-Boat on 35th November - See TUBAL CAIN by DC Muskett.)


December              Squadron deployment In continuation.

                8th          Deployed with HM Cruisers NAIAD and EURYALUS screened by H M Destroyers

                                GRIFFIN and HOTSPUR in support of military operations and bombarded Derna.

                13th        Detached with HMS EURYALUS and HMS NAIAD to join snipe of Force K from

                                Malta to intercept an enemy supply convoys on passage from Taranto to North African,

                                (For details of Force K operations see HMS PEPPERPOT by E Gordon and above references.).



                14th        Operation cancelled as convoys had been recalled. Rejoined Force B of Fleet for

                                return to Alexandria. (See above references).


                15th        Hit by salvo of torpedoes fired by U557 whilst entering swept channel 30 miles NW

                                of Alexandria. Sank In three minutes. 150 survivors were rescued by HMS GRIFFIN

                                and HMS HOTSPUR.

                                Casualty List was published on 12th January 1943. (Casualty List - note on casualties)







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













ON 023/1





HN 023B








(Note on Convoys)



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