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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2004

HMS CURLEW   -  World War 1 C-type Light Cruiser
including Convoy Escort Movements

HMS Curlew (Navy Photos/Ingo Bauernfiend, click to enlarge)

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CERES-Class Cruiser ordered from Vickers-Armstrong at Newcastle in April 1916 and laid down on 21st August that year. She was launched on 5th July 1917 as the ninth Royal Navy ship to carry this name, first used in 1795 for a Sloop and previously in 1885 for a Torpedo Sloop sold in 1906. Build was completed on 14th December 1917.


Battle  Honours


CRIMEA 1854-55 - ATLANTIC 1940


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge:  On a Field Blue, a Curlew gold.


M o t t o

Solvitur ambulando:  'The question is solved by going on'



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


1 9 1 7


November              Contractors trials.


December              Commissioned. for service in Grand Fleet.

                14th        Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials.


1 9 1 8


January                  On completion of trials and storing took passage to Harwich to join 5th Light Cruiser



February                Prepared for operational service with Squadron.


March                    Deployed in North Sea for Squadron duties




November              Squadron duties in continuation.

                11th        Germany signed Armistice.


December              Nominated for service in Baltic


1 9 1 9


January                  Passage to Baltic with other ships of Squadron to relieve Baltic Squadron which had been

                                deployed in November 1918 to assist in defence of Baltic States against Bolshevik troops.

                                Entered Baltic via Kiel Canal.


February                Deployed in Baltic.

to                            Nominated for transfer to 1st Light Cruiser Squadron, Atlantic Fleet on return to UK.



May                        Joined Squadron for Atlantic Fleet service.

to                            Nominated for reduction to Reserve status.

June                        Passage to Devonport.


July                         Reduced to Reserve at Devonport.


 August                 Laid-up in Reserve Fleet at Chatham



1 9 2 0


January                  Transferred to Reserve Fleet at Rosyth.

to                            Nominated for service in 5th Light Cruiser Squadron on China Station..



April                       Prepared for service.

                27th        Commissioned for service at Rosyth


May                        Carried out sea trials and work-up.


June                        Passage to Singapore to join Squadron


July                         Joined Squadron.


August                  Deployed with Squadron on China Station.




1 9 2 1


                                China Station deployment with Squadron in continuation.


1 9 2 2


January                  Squadron deployment on China Station in continuation.

to                            Nominated for service with 8th Light Cruiser Squadron on America and West Indies Station



September             Passage to UK to recommission.


October                  Paid-off.


November              Prepared for recommissioning at Chatham.

                24th        Recommissioned for service on America and West Indies Station


December              Passage to West Indies.


1 9 2 3


                                Deployed with 8th Light Cruiser Squadron

                                (Note: Briefly deployed with HM Battlecruisers REPULSE, and HOOD as part of escort

                                during passage in Atlantic for Royal Tour by HM The Prince of Wales.)


1 9 2 4    t o    1 9 2 6


                                West Indies Squadron deployment in continuation.

                                (Note: Ships of Squadron carried out visits programme to ports in both North and South

                                America in Atlantic and Pacific as well Squadron exercises

                                Based at Bermuda.)


1 9 2 7


January                  Returned to UK and Paid-off into Reserve

to                            Nominated for service as a troopship




January                  China Station deployment in continuation

to                            Nominated for return to UK for refit and to Pay-off into Reserve.



July                         Passage to UK.


August                  Arrived at Chatham



                15th        Paid off into Dockyard control at Chatham.

                                Taken in hand for refit by HM Dockyard, Chatham.


October                  Under refit




1 9 2 9


January                  Under refit

to                            Nominated for service with 3rd Cruiser Squadron Mediterranean Fleet on completion

July                         of refit.


August                  Dockyard work completed and re-commissioned.


September             Passage to join Squadron in Mediterranean on completion of post

                                refit trials and shakedown.


October                  Deployed with Squadron in Mediterranean.


1930   to   1932


                                Deployed with Squadron in Mediterranean and took part in Fleet Exercise and

                                Visits programmes.

                                Routine dockings and refits were carried out in Malta.




January                  Mediterranean deployment with Squadron in continuation.

to                            Nominated for reduction to Reserve



August                  Passage to Sheerness

                22nd       Paid-off at Chatham.


September             Re-allocated for further service

                23rd        Re-commissioned for service with 1st Cruiser Squadron, Mediterranean Fleet.


October                  On completion of trials took passage to join Squadron in Malta.


November              Deployed with Squadron for Mediterranean Fleet duties.




1934   to   1935


                   Mediterranean Fleet service with Squadron in continuation


1 9 3 6


January                  Squadron deployment in Mediterranean in continuation.

to                            Nominated for return to UK for conversion as an Anti-aircraft Cruiser.



October                  Passage to Chatham to Pay-off into Dockyard control


November              Taken in hand for conversion by HM Dockyard, Chatham

to                            (Note: This ship and HM Cruiser COVENTRY were the prototypes for a new design of

December              warship specifically intended to provide defence against air attacks. Changes made

                                Included the replacement of the existing armament by ten single 4" AA guns and the

                                provision of two multiple 2pdr Pom Pom mountings. Fire control of new weapons

                                was provided by new control platforms on foremast and on new superstructure aft.

                                Under conversion at Chatham.


1 9 3 7


January                  Under conversion.

to                            Commissioned for trials.



May                        On completion of dockyard work carried out trials on new equipment.

                                Deployed with 10th Cruiser Squadron


June                        Attended Coronation Review by HM King George VI at Spithead.


July                         Trials in continuation with Home Fleet.




1 9 3 8


January                  On completion of trials nominated for service as Boys Training Ship at Chatham.




August                  Commissioned for service as Training Ship at Chatham.


September             Deployed at Chatham for training duties.




 1 9 3 9


January                  Training Ship deployment at Chatham in continuation

to                            Nominated for installation of prototype aircraft warning radar outfit Type 79Z

July                         (Note: This was the first RN designed radar and had been under development by HM Signal

                                School Extension at Southsea since 1936.

                                An earlier version Type 79Y had been fitted in HM Battleship RODNEY and HM

                                Cruiser SHEFFIELD during 1938.

                                It had been intended to fit this improved version in HM Cruiser DUNEDIN at



August                  Installation of radar in hand at Chatham,

                                (Note: Changes were needed to both masts to accommodate the radar aerial units.)

                                War complement joined ship



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



September             Conversion including docking in continuation

                23rd        Refit and installation work completed.

                25th        Arrived at Portland after radar trials on passage.



                1st           Took passage to Scapa Flow to continue work-up and radar trials.

                3rd          Deployed at Scapa Flow.

                21st         On completion of work-up deployed with Home Fleet.

                                (Note: Major Fleet units had been transferred to Loch Ewe after sinking of HM

                                Battleship ROYAL OAK on 14th.)

                30th        On completion of trials took passage to Rosyth



                2nd         Returned to Scapa Flow from Rosyth for Fleet deployment.

                5th          Deployed as escort for convoy in North Sea.

                10th        Sailed from Scapa Flow for convoy air defence duties in North Sea.

                24th        Took passage from Grimsby for air defence duties.

                28th        Arrived at Chatham.


December              At Chatham.

                9th          Sailed from Chatham to Scapa Flow to resume Home Fleet duties.

                12th        Under repair at Invergordon. Resumed Fleet duties on completion.


1 9 4 0


January                  Deployed for air defence duties in North Sea.

                                Nominated for transfer to 1st AA Squadron with Humber Force

                16th        Took passage to Humber with call at Rosyth.

                21st         Deployed with Humber Force for convoy defence in North Sea.


February                Humber Force deployment in continuation.





                8th          Transferred to Scapa Flow for duty with Home Fleet after German invasion of Norway,

                                Deployed with Fleet units to provide air defence cover during support of military operations.

                9th          Passage to Norway to join Fleet Units for air defence.

                16th        Deployed at Namsos to provide AA defence during landings (Operation MAURICE)

                                (Note: Arrival as escort to military convoy had been delayed.)

                19th        Deployed at Namsos to provide air defence during landing of French troops.

                21st         Return passage to Scapa Flow.

                23rd        Deployed with HM Aircraft Carriers GLORIOUS and ARK ROYAL, HM Cruiser

                                BERWICK and screen of six Home Fleet destroyers during passage to Narvik to provide

                                air defence (Operation DX.)

                                (Note: The aircraft carriers were also taking RAF GLADIATOR fighter aircraft for use in


                24th        Under heavy and sustained air attacks which caused some damage.

                28th        Relieved by HM Cruiser SHEFFIELD.



                1st           Detached from air defence duties off Norway and took passage to

                                Scapa Flow for repair and replenishment.
                5th          Resumed air defence duties off Norway

                                Deployed with HMS ARK ROYAL, HMS GLORIOUS, HMS BERWICK and Fleet

                                destroyers in support of military operations.

                24th        Deployed as AA Guardship at Ofotfjord.



                26th        Under air attack whilst on passage off Skutenes, Lavangfjord near Narvik and hit by

                                stick of bombs.

                                Sank in position 67.32N 16.37E in Lavang Fjord. (Casualty List - note on casualties)

                                (Note: The loss of this valuable ship one of few with an aircraft warning radar outfit

                                deprived the Fleet of invaluable air cover at a critical stage of the Norwegian


                                For details of the disastrous operations off Norway during April. May and June

                                see NARVIK by D Macintyre, CARRIER GLORIOUS by J Winton, THE

                                DOOMED EXPEDITION by J Adams and Naval Staff History (HMSO 2001).







by Don Kindell






Date convoy sailed

Joined convoy as escort

Convoy No.

Left convoy

Date convoy arrived








ON 001/1





FP 001A








(Note on Convoys)



link to


from the photographic collection of Chief Yeoman of Signals George Smith




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revised 3/6/11
further editing and formatting is required