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

HMS FROBISHER  -  Hawkins-class Cruiser
including Convoy Escort Movements

HMS Frobisher (Navy Photos/Paul Simpson, click to enlarge)

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Improved BIRMINGHAM or Hawkins-Class Cruiser built by HM Dockyard, Devonport, laid down on 2nd August 1916, and launched on 20th March 1920 as the first RN warship to carry the name of the well known Elizabethan seaman. The ship was completed on 3rd October 1924. After serving in the Far East and the Mediterranean she reduced to Reserve at Chatham in 1930 and was converted for use as a Cadet Training ship where she served  between 1932 and 1937. Transferred to Portsmouth this cruiser was used as Gunnery Training Ship. In 1939 she was re-armed. During WW2 she was adopted by the civil community of Rochdale, Lancashire following a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in March 1942.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s




H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge:  On a Field White, a Griffin's bead black, rising out

of waves Gold and Blue.


M o t t o

Semper triuaphans:  'Ever triumphant'




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             In reserve at Portsmouth.

                                Selected for re-arming and refit.


October                  Taken in hand for refit at Portsmouth.


November              Under Refit




1 9 4 0

January                  Under refit


February                Transferred to Devonport for re-arming.


March                    Under refit at Devonport.

to                            (Note: Two 7.5in mountings removed and replaced by four single 4in with

December              2pdr Pom-Pom for Close Range AA defence against air attack.


1 9 4 1


January                  Under refit.

to                            (Note: New centimetric surface warning Radar Type 271 installed abaft compass platform

November              and fire control Radar Type 285 for main armament.

                                An aircraft warning Radar Type 281 using two aerials units fitted at each masthead

                                was also installed,

                                For details of the development and use of radar in RN see RADAR AT SEA by

                                D Howse.)


December              Carried out Post Refit trials.


1 9 4 2


January                  Commissioned at Devonport manned by Portsmouth Division ship’s company

                                Post refit trials in continuation.


February                Nominated for service in Eastern Fleet with 4th Cruiser Squadron

                                Completed Sea Trials and calibrations.


March                    Passage to Scapa Flow to work-up with Hone Fleet.

                4th          Arrived at Scapa Flow and commenced work-up with ships of Home Fleet..

                                Deployed to meet US Battleship USS WASHINGTON and US Aircraft Carrier USS WASP

                                in NW Approaches During passage to Scapa Flow to reinforce Hone Fleet during allied

                                landings in Madagascar (Operation IRONCLAD}.


April                       Completed work-up and prepared for foreign service.

                19th        Joined Ocean Escort for military convoy WS18 to Durban with HM Cruiser GAMBIA, HM

                                Escort Destroyer TETCOTT and Dutch Destroyer VAN GALEN.)

                                (Note: HM Depot Ship HECLA was one of the ships in the convoy.

                                Local Escort was provided by destroyers of Western Approaches Command.

                                This convoy was part of build up for landings in Madagascar.

                29th        Called at Freetown.



                3rd          Sailed for Capetown with WS18

                                (Note: HM Seaplane Carrier ALBATROSS joined WS18 at Freetown.

                6th          Detached during passage to escort merchant ship to Halvia Bay for defect repair.

                15th        Sailed from Walvis Bay due to boiler room steam leak.

                18th        Took passage with HM Seaplane Carrier ALBATROSS as escort for convoy.

                                Mat HM Battleship RESOLUTION and four ship convoy off Durban.

                27th        Detached from WS18 as escort for rms LLANDAFF CASTLE to Kilindini.

                                (Note: One source records ship went to Diego Suarez but this is to be confirmed)



                1st           Under repair at Durban.

                2nd         Escorted convoy to Kilindini.

                                When released from IRONCLAD deployed with HM Aircraft Carrier INDOMITABLE

                                Interception of blockade runners and supply ships and convoy defence.

                25th        Passage to Durban for convoy escort.



                2nd         Escorted convoy for passage from Durban to Indian ports.

                7th          Detached on relief by HM Battleship ROYAL SOVEREIGN off Diego Suarez and took

                                passage to Kilindini with screen of 3 destroyers.

                14th        Escorted convoy from Kilindini to Durban.

                30th        Joined Ocean Escort for military convoy WS20 as relief for HM Cruiser GAMBIA.



                1st           Detached from WS20 when convoy split and deployed as Ocean Escort for WS20A

                                during passage to Aden,

                6th          Detached from WS20A on arrival at Aden.

                20th        Escorted convoy from Aden to Persian Gulf.

                24th        Detached for repair at Colombo.

                27th        Taken in hand for repair.


September             Under repair

                22nd       Carried out trials off Colombo after completion of work


October                  Resumed convoy defence duty and patrol in Indian Ocean.

                                Withdrawn for repair of machinery defect.

                13th        Arrived at Kilindini using only one shaft.

                15th        Under repair.

                23rd        Carried out Trials on completion.


November              Convoy defence duty in continuation.



                6th          Joined Ocean Escort for rms ATHLONE CASTLE and rms STIRLING CASTLE taking

                                troops to Bombay.

                                (Note: These ships were part of WS24 which had been subject to unusual routing in Atlantic

                                with an escort by US Navy ships.)

                12th        Relieved by HM Cruiser MAURITIUS off Seychelles.

                17th        Joined escort in Indian Ocean for rms HIGHLAND MONARCH and ss EMPIRE TROOPER

                                taking 1st South African Division to Durban from Suez.

                24th        Detached to refuel at Diego Suarez and rejoined on 25th.

                31st         Arrived at Durban with convoy.


1 9 4 3


January                  Convoy defence in Indian Ocean in continuation.




March                    Passage to join military convoy WS26 during transit from Capetown.

                10th        Joined escort, for WS26 during passage from Durban.

                11th        Detached from WS26 as escort, for ships destined for Aden and designated WS26A.

                                (Note: Ships destined for Bombay were re-designated WS26B)

                15th        Detached from W526A on arrival off Aden and took passage to join WS27.

                29th        Joined military convoy WS27 during passage from Durban to Aden.



                9th          Detached from WS27 on relief by HM Cruiser DURBAN during passage.

                                Resumed Indian Ocean interception and trade defence duties.

                                Passage to Simonstown.

                                Taken in hand for refit by HM Dockyard Simonstown


May                        Under refit in Simonstown.

                                (Note: Radar Type 282 for AA fire control may have been fitted by this time).



                5th          On completion carried out post refit trials and took passage to Kilindini with HM Battleship


                27th        Arrived at Kilindini



July                         Took part in Eastern Fleet exercises with H M Cruisers NEWCASTLE, SUSSEX and


                28th        Resumed convoy defence duties in Indian Ocean.



                4th          Joined military convoy WS31 during passage from Capetown to Bombay.

                                (Note: Relieved m Cruiser DESPATCH, HM Destroyers QUADRANT and REDOUBT as

                                the Ocean Escort.)


                13th        Detached from WS31 on arrival at Bombay.

                                Resumed interception and trade defence duties in Indian Ocean. Indian Ocean duties based

                                at Kilindini.


September             Indian Ocean trade defence in continuation





                3rd          Passage to Kilindini from Seychelles.

                5th          Passage from Kilindini to Ceylon

                5th          Diverted to Addu Atoll.

                8th          Despatched from Addu Atoll to assist Free French destroyer TRIOMPHANT which was

                                disabled 1000 miles to the south.

                10th        Took TRIOMPHANT in tow until relieved by tug PRUDENT..

                16th        Arrived at Diego Suarez.

                24th        Taken in hand for refit at Durban.


1 9 4 4


January                  Under refit



                4th          Carried out Post refit trials.

                                On completion took passage to Kilindini to resume convoy defence duty.

                20th        Escorted convoy from Kilindini to Ceylon with HM Destroyers PATHFINDER, NORMAN,

                                RELENTLESS, ROTHERHAM and three corvettes.


March                    Withdrawn from Eastern Fleet to return to UK for duty with 1st Cruiser Squadron Home

                                Fleet in support of Normandy landings (Operation NEPTUNE).

                5th          Arrived at Colombo.

                9th          Took passage to UK with calls at Aden and Alexandria.

                24th        Diverted at Alexandria for escort of convoy to Salerno with HM Cruiser CALEDON and

                                four HUNT Class Escort Destroyers.

                26th        Detached from convoy to resume passage to UK.

                                Called at Algiers and Gibraltar.

 April                      Allocated for duty with Bombardment Force D of Eastern Task Force for support

                                of assault on SWORD Beach (Force S).

                2nd         Arrived at Greenock and taken in hand for repair.

                24th        On completion sailed to join Squadron at Scapa Flow.

                30th        Joined HM Battleships DUKE OF YORK and ANSON, HM Aircraft Carriers

                                VICTORIOUS, FURIOUS and ARGUS with HM Cruisers BERWICK, KENT, JAMAICA

                                and ARETHUSA for Home Fleet training exercises prior to support of Normandy landings.


May                        Detached for duty with Bombardment Force D.

                                Allocated to Convoy S6 with 40th Minesweeping Flotilla and ships of Force D during

                                passage from Solent to SWORD Area Bombardment positions.

                10th        Carried out bombardment training with HM Battleship WARSPITE.

                26th        Took part in joint exercises with ships of Force D

                                (Note: Other ships in Force were HM Battleships WARSPITE and RAMILLIES, HM

                                Cruisers MAURITIUS, ARETHUSA, ORP DANAE (Polish) and ORP DRAGON


                                Allocated initial target was battery of six 155mm guns at Ouistreham.

                                To be re-deployed as a Depot Ship on completion of Assault Phase.



                2nd         Sailed with Bombardment Force D ships to Assembly area off Isle of Wight.

                                (For details of the naval support of allied larding operations in Normandy see LANDINGS

                                IN NORMANDY, June 1944 (HMSO) and OPERATION NEPTUNE by K. Edwards).

                5th          HM Monitor ROBERTS joined Bombardment Force D in Assembly Area.

                                Took passage to SWORD Area in Convoy S6 escorted by HM Destroyers SAUMAREZ and

                                SWIFT, HM Frigates ROWLEY, HOLMES, Norwegian destroyers SVENNER and STORD

                6th          Under attack by E-Boats when assembling in bombardment position during which HM

                                Norwegian Destroyer SVENNER was sunk.

                                Bombarded Ouistreham 1 Battery as part of Fire Plan.

                                Provided naval gunfire support during assault and embarked wounded.

                7th          Gunfire support role of SWORD BEACH assault in continuation and slightly damaged

                                by splinters from return shore fire.

                8th          Returned to Portsmouth to replenish ammunition after continuing gunfire support.

                9th          Prepared for deployment as depot ship at Mulberry B.

                                (Note: 100 of ships company replaced by landing craft crews.

                11th        Took up depot ship duty off Arromanches in Mulberry B with ss THYSVILLE.


July                         Depot ship duty in continuation.

                18th        Hit by bomb on blast shield of B Turret from single aircraft with six killed and

                                and 12 wounded.

                23rd        Transferred to new position off Courseulles in JUNO area.



                3rd          Embarked survivors from HM Escort Destroyer QUORN which had been attacked by an

                                Explosive Motor Boat (LINSEN) off Le Havre and sunk.

                8th          Hit forward by long range circling torpedo (T3D DACKEL) fired by an E-Boat.

                                Damage caused anchors to be released which damaged cradle of B Gun mounting.

                9th          Took passage to Chatham for temporary repair.

                10th        Arrived at Chatham


September             Transferred to Rosyth for permanent repair.

                                Selected to be converted for use as Cadet training ship.


October                  Under repair and conversion at Rosyth.

to December


1 9 4 5


January                  Under repair and conversion.

to March


April                       Carried out post refit trials.

                7th          On completion of dockyard work prepared for training duties.


May                        Deployed in Home waters.


P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS FROBISHER was deployed for Cadet training until replaced by HM Cruiser DEVONSHIRE in April 1947. She was reduced to Reserve at Devonport on 2nd June 1947 and was placed on the Disposal List in 1949. The ship was sold to BISCO on 26th March 1949 for breaking-up by J Cashmore. She arrived in tow at the Breaker's Yard in Newport under tow on 11th May that year. 







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








CM 028





CM 029





CM 030





CM 037





MC 002





CM 037B





CM 038





US 022





CM 045





CM 045B





KR 009








(Note on Convoys)



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revised 3/6/11
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