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

HMS DUNEDIN   -  World War 1 D-type Light Cruiser
including Convoy Escort Movements

HMS Despatch, sister ship (Navy Photos, click to enlarge)

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D-Class cruiser ordered from Armstrong's High Walker shipyard at Newcastle on Tyne in July 1917 and laid down on 5th November that year. She was launched on 19th November 19l8 and towed to HM Dockyard for completion, as an economy measure. Build was finished in October 1919 and the ship was allocated for duty with the New Zealand Division in place of HM Cruiser CHATHAM. She sailed from Devonport with HM Battlecruisers HOOD and REPULSE, HM Cruisers DRAGON, DELHI, DANAE and DAUNTLESS deployed for a world cruise. She detached in May 1924 for service in New Zealand and served  in the Pacific until returned to UK in 1931 for refit at Chatham. On completion she joined the Fleet in the Mediterranean  The ship's company was transferred to HM Cruiser LEANDER in April 1937 and commenced Reserve Fleet service.  She attended the Coronation Naval Review by HM King George VI in June 1937 and re-commissioned on November 11th at Portsmouth for use as Boys Training Ship until brought forward for operational service in 1939. During a refit at Portsmouth in 1939 the second prototype air warning radar Type 79Z was to have been fitted but this was installed in HM Cruiser CURLEW instead. No significant modification or additions to armament were made before her loss in November 1941.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s




Heraldic Data

Badge:  On a Field Green, a ram's head silver with horns Green

surrounded by a wreath of corn Gold.


M o t to

Nis dominus frusta – ‘Vainly without the Lord’



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


August                  Commissioned from Reserve and manned by Reservists.

                                Attended Royal Review of Reserve Fleet in Weymouth Bay.

                                Remained in commission and allocated for war service based at Scapa Flow

                                On completion of storing and manning to war complement took passage to join

                                12th Cruiser Squadron.

                                (Note: Commanding Officer Commander C Lambe, later Admiral Sir Charles Lambe),


September             Deployed on Northern Patrol for interception of mercantiles attempting to return to

                                Germany and commerce raiders on passage to enter Atlantic

                5th          Carried out- first patrol.


October                  Northern Patrol deployment in continuation

                                Intercepted German mercantile attempting to run the Blockade.

                                Crew who had scuttled the enemy ship on approach were taken prisoner.



                21st         Set up patrol line off North Rona as part of Home Fleet- operation to intercept German

                                battleships SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU after the sinking of HM Armed Merchant

                                Cruiser RAWALPINDI.


December              Resumed Northern Patrol deployment.

                                (Note: Senior Officer of Squadron reported this Class of cruiser had proved unsuitable

                                for Northern Patrol duty.)

                                Taken in hand for weather damage repair in Belfast.

                                (Note: Under way for 92 days since outbreak of war.)


1 9 4 0


January                  Resumed to Northern Patrol duty.

                26th        Released from Northern Patrol and took passage to Portsmouth.

                29th        Transferred to West Indies for duty with 8th Cruiser Squadron for interception of blockade

                                runners and for trade protection.

                                Prepared for foreign service at Portsmouth.



                5th          Sailed from Portsmouth to join Squadron at Kingston, Jamaica.

                                Deployed for interception patrol duties.



                2nd         Intercepted German blockade-runner on passage from Aruba.

                                Enemy ship scuttled on approach.

                8th          Intercepted German mercantile HANNOVER with HM Canadian Destroyer ASSINIBOINE.

                                Took enemy freighter in tow whilst a party from HMCS ASSINIBOINE fought the fires started

                                when crew abandoned ship.

                                As no tugs were available both ships secured alongside and took ship to Jamaica as Prize.

                                (Note: This mercantile became ss EMPIRE AUDACITY and later was converted for use as

                                an escort carrier and renamed HMS AUDACITY. Sunk on 21st December 1941 in

                                defence of a convoy on passage from Gibraltar to UK.

                                Her service helped establish the value of Escort Carriers in the relentless U-Boat war).

                                (For details of Atlantic operations see THE BLOCKADERS by A Cecil Hampshire).


April                       Convoy defence role in eastern Atlantic with 8th Cruiser Squadron in continuation.





                8th          Deployed on patrol in Caribbean area as Senior Officer Jamaica Force


July.                        Recalled to UK to reinforce Home Fleet.


August                  Passage to Greenock.



                13th        Taken in hand at commercial shipyard for fitting of  Degaussing cables and change

                                of AA armament.

                                (See THE TORPEDOMEN by A Poland for details of this equipment.)


October  Nominated for duty in Portsmouth command on completion for anti-invasion duties.

                                (Note: New Commanding Officer Captain RS Lovatt).

                11th        Sailed from Greenock for Portsmouth.

                                Deployed in SW Approaches based at Portsmouth.


November              Channel and SW Approaches Convoy anti-invasion patrol in continuation.



December              Nominated for escort of military convoy WS5A and took passage to join convoy in

                                SW Approaches.

                24th        Joined WS5A with HM Cruiser BERWICK for Ocean Escort.

                                (Note: HM Cruiser NAIAD and HM Cruiser BONAVENTURE had already joined

                                escort with HM Corvettes CLEMATIS, CYCLAMEN, GERANIUM and


                25th        In action with German cruiser HIPPER in defence of military Convoy WS5A.

                                Laid smoke screen to obscure troopships and took part in a brief engagement in poor

                                visibility during which HMS BERWICK was damaged.

                                HIPPER broke off action because of imaginary threat of torpedo threat.

                                (Note: German ship had located convoy during night and waited until dawn before

                                attacking what was considered a normal trade convoy.

                                For details see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by C Barnett and Naval

                                Staff History.

                                (Note: The brief engagement was totally unsatisfactory.

                                An intended air search for HIPPER by carrier SWORDFISH Aircraft cancelled

                                after order from the Admiralty.

                                Only two troopships were hit – ss EMPIRE TROOPER and ss ARABISTAN

                                which were escorted to Azores by HMS CYCLAMEN.

                27th        Detached from Ocean Escort and took passage to Gibraltar.

                29th        At Gibraltar.


1 9 4 1


January                  Resumed convoy defence duties and available as Distant Cover for military Convoy

                                WS5A which had been re-assembled.

                                (Note: One source suggests that this ship rejoined the escort, for WS5A.arriving at

                                Freetown on 6th January.)

                                Atlantic convoy defence in continuation.


February                Nominated for transfer to South Atlantic Command after routine docking.

                                Took passage to Clyde for convoy defence in North Atlantic.

                22nd       Deployed in NW Approaches after arrival in Clyde.                    



                23rd        Took passage to Devonport for docking prior to foreign service.



                8th          On completion of docking took passage from Devonport to South Atlantic.


May                        Deployed for trade defence and interception duties in South Atlantic.

                                (Note: Capture of ENIGMA documentation earlier in 1941 had enabled German radio signals

                                to be decrypted at. Bletchley Park. This information enabled the Admiralty to identify

                                the movements of U-Boat and Commerce Raider supply ships.

                                As a result interception by British warships in the South Atlantic was made possible

                                with certainty. See BREAKING THE ENIGMA by D Kahn and HITLER'S U-

                                BOAT WAR by C Blair.)


June                        Diverted for interception of supply ships with HM Aircraft Carrier EAGLE.

                15th        Captured German freighter LOTHRINGEN in position 19.49N 38.30 W after sighting by

                                aircraft from HMS EAGLE.

                                (Note: ENIGMA material obtained enabled more vital information to be obtained.)

                                This ship was later used as a British mercantile named ss EMPIRE SALVAGE)

                30th        Captured Vichy French freighter VILLE DE TAMATAVE east of St. Paul's Rock in the South




                22nd       Captured Vichy French freighter VILLE DE ROUEN east of Natal,. Brazil.


August                  Trade defence and interception duties In South Atlantic in continuation. October




November              Deployed with HM Cruisers DEVONSHIRE and DORSETSHIRE to intercept U-Boat

                                Supply Ship PYTHON and Commerce Raider ATLANTIS known to be deployed in South

                                Atlantic for attacks on shipping and re-supply of U-Boats.

                                The RN ships were operating as independent units and deployed in specific areas where the

                                enemy operations were intended.

                                (Note: HMS DEVONSHIRE sank ATLANTIS on 22nd November. See above references.)

                                Nominated for interception of PYTHON.

                24th        Under attack by U124 which was on passage to met PYTHON for re-supply.

                                Hit by two of three torpedo fired by U124 off St Paul’s Rock in position 03.02N 18.29W

                                north of Pernambuco and 900 miles west of Freetown.

                                Ship was steaming at high speed and bulkheads were unable to withstand stress of

                                an explosion whilst under way.

                                One torpedo struck amidships and the other aft.

                                Extensive damage including loss of radio facilities.

                                Foundered stem first.

                27th        72 members of the ship's company were rescued by US mercantile NISHAMA and were the

                                only survivors. Five of those rescued died later.

                                420 of the ship's company lost their lives including Captain R S Lovatt, OBE, RN.

                                (Casualty List - note on casualties)

                                (Note: The rescued men were landed in Trinidad on December 7th 1941.

                                U124 still commanded by Korvette Kapitan Johann Mohr was sunk in position 41.02N

                                15.39W,  west of Oporto. Portugal by HM Sloop BLACK SWAN and HM Corvette

                                STONECROP on 3rd April 1943 during an attack on Convoy OS45.

                                There were no survivors.




The additional information was provided by Mr W Gill who was a survivor from this ship. His contribution enabled more detail to be recorded. Details of escorts for WS Series convoys were provided by Donald L. Kindell of Ohio, USA from an unpublished source. These are gratefully acknowledged.







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








SLG 001





SLG 001A





CF 001/1





SL 092








(Note on Convoys)



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revised 3/6/11
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