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

HMS CEYLON  -  Colony-class Light Cruiser

HMS Ceylon post-war, note whip aerials on funnels (Navy Photos/Mark Teadham, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

CEYLON-Class cruiser ordered from Alexander Stephen, Govan, Glasgow under the 1938 Build Programme and laid down on 27th April 1939. The ship was launched on 30th July 1942 as the 3rd RN warship to carry the name, introduced in 1808 and used for an Ex East Indiaman taken up for naval service. After a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in February 1942 she was adopted by the civil community of the city of Dundee. Although Build Completion date was planned for 31st December 1942 she did not enter service until 13th July 1943 due to the higher priority for manning and completion of convoy escorts.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


DARDANELLES  1915-16 - SABANG   1944 - BURMA  1945


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge:  On a Field White, on a mount green between

two groves of palm trees proper an elephant

affronte also proper.


M o t t o

Depugnare superbos :    'To fight the proud'



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 4 3


July                         Contractors trials and commissioning.

                13th        Accepted into service on completion of Acceptance Trials in Clyde area.

                                Nominated for service with Eastern Fleet based in Ceylon.


August                  Passage to Scapa Flow for work-up with ships of Home Fleet on completion of trials and storing.

                3rd          Commenced work-up.

                12th        Present Scapa Flow during visit to Home Fleet by HM King George VI.


September             On completion took passage to Devonport to prepare for foreign service.

                                (Note: Close Range AA defence armament supplemented by 20mm Oerlikon guns.)


                30th        Took passage for Ceylon.

                                (Note: Personal baggage of Supreme Commander SEAC embarked)

November              Deployed for interception patrol in Bay of Biscay during passage to Gibraltar

                27th        Called at Bombay.


December              Joined 4th Cruiser Squadron at Trincomalee.

                                Deployed for Fleet exercises with Squadron and Fleet units in Indian Ocean.


1 9 4 4


January                  Deployed with Eastern Fleet for patrol and convoy defence in Indian Ocean

to                            For details of Eastern Fleet activities In 1944-45 see OPERATION

February                PACIFIC by E Grey and WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO)



                21st         Deployed with HM Battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT, HM Battlecruiser RENOWN,

                                HM Cruisers LONDON, GAMBIA (RNZN) and CUMBERLAND as part of an Eastern Fleet Task

                                Force screened by HM Destroyers QUIBERON (RAN), QUILLIAM, QUALITY,

                                QUEENBOROUGH, PATHFINDER, Australian NAPIER, NORMAN, NEPAL and Dutch VAN

                                GALEN and TJERK HIDDES.

                                (Operation DIPLOMAT).

                27th        Met US Navy aircraft carrier USS SARATOGA, US destroyers

                                CUMMINGS, DUNLOP and FANNING SW of Cocos Islands

                                (Note: US Task Group 58 joining Eastern Fleet for a joint RN/USN air attack on Sumatra.



                1st           Returned to Trincomalee with RN Task Force and US Navy ships.


                16th        Joined HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, HMS VALIANT and French battleship RICHELIEU with

                                HM Cruisers NEWCASTLE, NIGERIA, GAMBIA and Dutch cruiser TROMP as Task Force

                                69. Destroyer screen comprised HM Destroyers ROTHERHAM, RACEHORSE, PENN,

                                PETARD, NAPIER, NEPAL, NIZAM, QUIBERON and Dutch VAN GALEN.

                18th        Transferred with HM Cruiser GAMBIA to Task Force 70 to reinforce escort for H M Aircraft

                                Carrier ILLUSTRIOUS and USS SARATOGA during joint RN/USN air operations against targets

                                at Sabang, Sumatra.

                                (Operation COCKPIT see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by C BARNETT and

                                above references.)



                6th          Joined HM Battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT, French battleship RICHELIEU

                                in Task Force 65 to escort HMS ILLUSTRIOUS and USS SARATOGA with HMS GAMBIA

                                for air attacks on targets at Soerabaya (Operation TRANSOM).

                                Destroyer screen comprised HM Destroyers ROTHERHAM, RACEHORSE, PENN,

                                NAPIER, NEPAL, QUIBERON, QUICKMATCH and Dutch VAN GALEN.

                15th        Replenished at Exmouth Bay in Western Australia with Task Force snips from Task

                                Force 67.

                17th        Covered carrier operations off Soerabaya.

                18th        US Navy ships detached.

                27th        Arrived in Ceylon.


June                        Nominated for support of air operations by HMS ILLUSTRIOUS.

                19th        Deployed as Force 60 with HM Battlecruiser RENOWN, HM Cruisers NIGERIA.

                                and KENYA screened by HM Destroyers QUILLIAM, QUALITY, QUICKMATCH,

                                ROTHERHAM, RACEHORSE, RAIDER, RELENTLESS and ROEBUCK to provide

                                cover during air attacks on PORT Blair in the Andamans (Operation PEDAL)

                                (Note: HM Submarines TANTIVY and CLYDE were deployed for air sea rescue.)

                21st         Remained with HMS ILLUSTRIOUS during flying operations.

                                On completion of landing of aircraft left area at high speed to reduce

                                risk of a retaliatory attacks before nightfall.

                24th        Returned to Trincomalee with ships of Force 60.


July                         Convoy defence with Squadron in continuation.

                22nd       Deployed with HMS VALIANT, French RICHELIEU, HMS RENOWN, HM Cruisers

                                KENYA GAMBIA, NIGERIA, CUMBERLAND, PHOEBE and Dutch TROMP to cover

                                air attacks at Sabang by H M Aircraft Carriers ILLUSTRIOUS and VICTORIOUS

                                (Operation CRIMSON).

                25th        Bombarded shore installations at Sabang with HM Battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH

                                and VALIANT, HM Battlecruiser RENOWN, French battleship RICHELIEU and ships of




                19th        Deployed with Eastern Fleet ships to provide air sea rescue facilities during US air attacks

                                on NW Sumatra (Operation BOOMERANG).

                24th        Bombarded Sabang with HM Battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT, HM

                                Battlecruiser, RENOWN, French RICHELIEU, HM Cruisers CUMBERLAND, NIGERIA,

                                KENYA and GAMBIA. HM destroyers RELENTLESS, ROTHERHAM, RACEHORSE,

                                ROCKET and RAPID also took part and other destroyers entered the harbour and made

                                torpedo attacks on shipping (Operation BANQUET).


September             Convoy defence duty in continuation.


October                  Passage to Durban for refit.


November              Under refit.

                27th        Re-organisation of Eastern Fleet on formation of British Pacific Fleet


December              On completion of post refit trials took passage to rejoin 4th Cruiser Squadron.


1 9 4 5


January                  Deployed as part of covering force for air attacks on oil refineries at Pangkalan


                4th          Sumatra by HM Aircraft Carriers INDOMITABLE, VICTORIOUS and

                                INDEFATIGABLE with HM Cruisers SUFFOLK, ARGONAUT, BLACK PRINCE.

                                Fleet destroyer screen comprised HM Destroyers KEMPENFELT, WHELP,

                                WAGER, URANIA, UNDAUNTED, UNDINE and URSA (Operation LENTIL).

                13th        Joined exercises with Eastern Fleet for planned FAA operations on Sumatra.

                17th        Sailed with HM Destroyer WESSEX to join ships of British Pacific Fleet which had

                                taken passage on 16th for Australia to join 5th US Fleet for operations in the


                                Carried spares and mail for Task Force 63 ships.

                20th        Detached from Task Force 63 with HM Destroyer URCHIN and HMS WESSEX for escort

                                of HM Fleet Auxiliary Tankers ECHODALE, WAVE KING and EMPIRE SALVAGE

                                as Task Force 69

                                (Note: This was a Replenishment Group) for support of Task Group 63 during air

                                operations against oil refineries at Palembang and Soengi-Gerong by aircraft

                                carriers. (Operations MERIDIAN I and II).

                30th        On completion of MERIDIAN operations resumed Eastern Fleet duties and took passage

                                to rejoin Squadron.


February                Passage to Ceylon.

                                After arrival deployed with Squadron for convoy defence and support of military



March                    Squadron deployment in continuation.



                29th        Part of Task Force 63, Eastern Fleet covering Rangoon landings.

                                (Operation DRACULA - See Naval Staff History and above references)

                30th        Escorted HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, FS RICHELIEU, HM Escort Carriers SHAH and

                                EMPRESS with HM Cruisers CUMBERLAND, SUFFOLK and Dutch TROMP screened

                                by Fleet Destroyers during air attacks on Car Nicobar and Port Blair in Andaman


                                On completion bombarded shore installations with ships of TF63 (Operation BISHOP)



                1st           Support bombardment duty in continuation.

                3rd          Joined Task Force 63 with FS RICHELIEU, HMS CUMBERLAND, HMS EMPRESS,

                                HMS SHAH. HMS ROTHERHAM, HMS ROEBUCK and HMS REDOUBT.

                4th          Deployed with Task Force 68 for interception of evacuation convoys between Mergui

                                and Victoria Point, Burma.

                                Refuelled from Fleet Auxiliary OLWEN escorted by HM Destroyer PALADIN.

                6th          Rejoined TF 63 and covered further air strikes in Andamans.

                9th          Resumed Squadron duties.



                1st           Deployed on offensive patrols off Burma with HM Cruiser PHOEBE and six Royal Indian

                                Navy frigates as Task Force 69.

                16th        Returned from patrol duty when cruiser support no longer needed.


July                         Preparation for Malayan coast landings (Operation ZIPPER) and covered passage of

                                military convoys between Ceylon and Rangoon.


August                  Passage to Rangoon with Eastern Fleet for execution of ZIPPER landings.

                                (Note: Planned assault postponed at US insistence and delayed until after VJ Day.

                                See above references and Final Report by SEAC (HMSO) )

                28th        Passage to Penang with HM Battleship NELSON, HM Escort Carrier HUNTER and HM

                                Escort Carrier ATTACKER.



                2nd         At Penang for formal surrender of Japanese forces by Vice Admiral Hirose.

                9th          Covered landings of allied troops on Malayan coast with HMS NELSON, FS RICHELIEU,

                                HMS NIGERIA, HMS GAMBIA and ROYALIST, HM Escort Carriers HUNTER,

                                STALKER, KHEDIVE, EMPEROR, PURSUER and TRUMPETER with 15 Fleet

                                destroyers. (See above references and Naval Staff History).


P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS CEYLON returned to UK after the Japanese surrender in Malaya. She re-commissioned and served in the RN Task Group with the United Nations during the Korean War. The ship was modernised between 1955 and 1956 and served as Flagship for Flag Officer Flotillas in the Home Fleet. In 1960 she was sold to Peru and renamed CORONEL BOLOGNESI prior to transfer from the Royal Navy at Portsmouth on 6th February I960.


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