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

HMS HAWKINS  -  Hawkins-class Cruiser
including Convoy Escort Movements

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Hawkins (Navy Photos, click to enlarge) return to Contents List   

Improved BIRMINGHAM or Hawkins-class cruiser built by HM Dockyard, Chatham and laid down on 3rd June 1916. The first  HAWKINS fought the Armada. This cruiser was completed on 19th July 1919, went to the China Station until 1928 and paid off for major repair. In 1929 this ship re-commissioned for service in the Atlantic Fleet and after refit was re commissioned again for duty in the East Indies. On return to UK in 1935 she paid off into Reserve. During 1939 she was taken in hand for modernisation by HM Dockyard Portsmouth that was completed on 23rd December 1939.  After a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in February 1942 she was adopted by the civil community of the Borough of Stockport then in the County of Cheshire.


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 Blue, a demi-Moor Proper, bound and decorated gold,

arising out of wavelets black and silver.


M o t t o

Nil desperandum:  'Never despair'




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     Under refit and re-arming at Portsmouth (See General Information).

to                   Nominated for trade defence in South Atlantic.

November     Harbour trials


December      Post refit sea trials

        23rd       On completion of trials and storing too passage to work-up at Portland.


1 9 4 0


January          Worked-up at Portland

          9th       Took passage from Portland to join Squadron for trade defence and interception

                      of commerce raiders and blockade runners.

        14th       At Freetown

        17th       Took passage from Freeetown for duties in South Atlantic


February       Under refit at Port Stanley.

                       On completion deployed on patrol in Plate area.


March           Patrol and interception in South Atlantic and West Indies in continuation.

          5th       Sailed from Montevideo for patrol and took passage on completion to Port Stanley

        15th       Sailed from Port Stanley to resume Plate area patrol


April              South Atlantic patrols in continuation




July                Carried out search for German commerce raider in West Indies area.



                        Patrol and trade defence in continuation.


September     Passage to Durban for refit.


October         Under refit.


November     Post Refit trials.

         19th       On completion resumed duties in South Atlantic.


December      Deployed in South Atlantic.

          4th        Joined HM Cruiser DEVONSHIRE as relief for HM Cruiser CUMBERLAND in Ocean Escort

                       or military convoy WS5B during passage from Freetown to Durban.

          8th        Detached to refuel.

         10th       Rejoined WS5B.

         12th       Detached on arrival of WS5B at Durban.

                       Took passage to Freetown for escort of military convoy.


January         At Freetown.

           8th      Provided Ocean Escort for Convoy WS5A with HM Cruiser NORFOLK from Freetown.

           9th      Detached with HM Aircraft Carrier FORMIDABLE.

                      Took independent passage to Simonstown with HMS FORMIDABLE.

                      Transferred to East Indies Squadron for convoy defence and interception duties in Indian


         21st      Escorted ss ANSELM and ss CITY OF CANTERBURY from WS5A into Capetown.

         22nd     Detached on arrival of ships in Capetown.

         27th      Escorted ss ANSELM from Capetown for passage to Durban

.        29th      Detached on arrival at Durban and joined ships of WS5A for passage to Aden.

                       Relieved as Ocean Escort for WS5A by HM Cruisers CERES and SHROPSHIRE.



          1st       Took passage from Mombasa to support military operations in Italian Somaliland.

                      Covered HM Aircraft Carrier FORMIDABLE which was diverted during passage in the Indian

                      Ocean to join Mediterranean Fleet to carry cut air attacks at Mogadishu.

         10th      Joined HM Aircraft Carrier HERMES, HM Cruisers CAPETOWN, CERES, and

                      SHROPSHIRE, and HM Destroyer KANDAHAR in Force T on formation for support of

                      operations and landings by Indian troops in Somaliland.

         11th      Intercepted 8 Italian and 2 German ships attempting to leave Mogadishu following

                      sighting by aircraft from HMS HERMES. Five Italian ships scuttled en approach.

         17th      Detached to join Hunting Group V in search for German battleship ADMIRAL SCHEER

                      reported in Indian Ocean.

         21st      Detached to join HM Australian Cruiser AUSTRALIA as escort for military convoy

                      WS5B off Mombasa on passage in Indian Ocean.

         22nd     Relieved by HM Cruiser ENTERPRISE and rejoined search for ADMIRAL SCHEER after a

                      sighting report by an aircraft from HM Cruiser GLASGOW.

.       26th       Search abandoned and resumed convoy defence role.



          3rd       Arrived at Aden

        12th       Rejoined Hunting Group V for Patrol and interception duty in Indian Ocean.

                       Detached for convoy defence between Durban and Capetown.


April              Joined HM Cruisers CORNWALL and LEANDER in search for commerce raider in Indian


                      On release took passage to Simonstown.

        18th       Sailed to Capetown for escort of military convoy.

        20th       Joined military convoy WS7 ships as escort for passage to Durban.

        28th       Detached from WS7 when relieved by HM Cruisers COLOMBO and GLASGOW in position

                       03 32N. 51.12E


May              Trade defence and interception duty in continuation.

        24th       Joined military convoy WS8A during passage from Freetown and relieved HM Cruiser

                      MAURITIUS as Ocean Escort for passage in Indian Ocean.

        31st       Sailed from Durban with WS8A.



         2nd       Detached from WS8A for repair.

         4th        Under repair at Durban.


July               On completion took passage to join military convoy W59A.

         2nd       Relieved HM Cruiser BIRMINGHAM as Ocean Escort for WS9A for passage to Durban.

         8th        Sailed from Durban as Ocean Escort for ships of WS9A during passage to Aden.

       21st        Detached from WS9A on arrival at Aden.


August          Indian Ocean trade defence in continuation.



         2nd       Joined military convoy WS10 as Ocean escort from Capetown to Durban.

         8th        Detached on arrival of WS10 at Durban.

         9th        Escorted ss ARONDA from Durban to join military convoy WS10B for onward passage

                      to Bombay.

                      On arrival deployed as Ocean Escort for WS10B.

       15th        Detached from WS10B in position 03.32N 51.12E on relief by HM Cruiser EMERALD.

                      Resumed trade defence duty in Indian Ocean.


October         Indian Ocean deployment in continuation.


November     Withdrawn from service for refit and took passage to UK.


December     Taken in hand for refit at Portsmouth on arrival.

                      20mm Oerlikon guns and 2pdr Pom Poms fitted.

                      Aircraft warning radar fitted on both masts with new tripod mainmast.

                      Surface warning radar Type 271 fitted.

                      Fire control radar Type 285 installed for 4in AA mountings.

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


1 9 4 2


January          Under refit.

to                    Nominated for service with 5th Cruiser Squadron. Post refit trials



April              Harbour trials


May              Post refit sea trails and storing

        29th       On completion took passage to Scapa Flow.


June              Worked up with ships of Home Fleet for operational service.

        29th       Deployed in NW Approaches based on Clyde



        26th       Joined HM Battleship DUKE OF YORK with four destroyers as escort for passage to


                      Returned to Clyde when detached.


August          Passage from Clyde to Freetown.

          7th       Arrived at Freetown.

         15th      Joined military convoy WS21 as Ocean Escort during passage from Freetown with HM

                       Destroyers CATTERICK and PETARD.

         27th      Detached on arrival of WS21 at Capetown.

         30th      Rejoined WS21 on departure from Capetown as Ocean Escort for passage in Indian Ocean.



            5th      Arrived at Durban with WS21

           10th     Remained with ships of WS21 when Aden Section detached.

           11th     Detached from WS21 Bombay Section on relief by HM Cruiser ENTERPRISE.

                       Escorted ss VOLENDAM during passage to Mombasa from WS21.

           13th     Joined Squadron at Kilindini for deployment in Eastern Fleet for convoy defence

                       and patrol in Indian Ocean and Red Sea.



           11th     Joined military convoy WS22B as Ocean Escort for Bombay Section.

           17th     Detached from WS22B on arrival at Bombay.


November      Indian Ocean deployment in continuation.

           11th    Joined military convoy WS23 escorted by H M Armed Merchant Cruiser CARTHAGE as relief for

                       HM Cruiser DAUNTLESS during passage from Durban.

           16th    Detached from WS23 as escort for ss EMPRESS OF RUSSIA for passage to Mombasa.

           18th    Detached from mercantile on arrival at Mombasa.


December      Indian Ocean duties in continuation.


1 9 4 3


January          Transferred to 4th Cruiser Squadron.

            29th    Joined Squadron at Bombay.


February        Eastern Fleet trade defence and interception duties in continuation.



             9th     Joined military convoy WS26 during passage in Indian Ocean as the relief for HM Cruiser


            11th    Detached from WS26 with Bombay Section redesignated WS26B as escort for passage to Bombay.

            17th    Detached from WS26B on arrival at Bombay


April               Deployed for Squadron duties in Indian Ocean.

to                    Passage to Simonstown for refit.



June                Under refit at Simonstown.


July                 Post refit trials before resuming Indian Ocean duties.

                        Took passage to Ceylon.

August           Indian Ocean Squadron duties in continuation.

            28th     Joined military convoy WS32 with H M Destroyers NORMAN, QUIBERON and RAPID

                        for escort during passage to Bombay.



             3rd     Detached from WS32 on relief by HM Cruiser EMERALD.

                       Embarked CinC Eastern Fleet for passage to Ceylon on transfer of Flag.


October          Convoy defence and interception duty in Indian Ocean.




December       Under refit and repair at Simonstown.


1 9 4 4


January           Post refit trials and passage to Kilindini to resume duties. Arrived at Kilindini

            11th     Sailed from Kilindini with Convoy KR8 as escort during passage to Colombo with HM Destroyers

                        PALADIN and PETARD.

                        Local Escort was provided by HM Corvette HONESTY, HM Cutters SENNEN and LULWORTH.

                        This convoy comprised the troopships ss KHEDIVE ISMAIL, VARSOVA, EKMA, ELLENGA

                        and CITY OF PARIS

           12th      Convoy attacked by Japanese submarine 127 in 1 1/2 Degree Channel, Maldives.

                        Troopship KHEDIVE ISMAIL was torpedoed and sunk with heavy loss of life.

                        Remained with convoy because of lack of A/S capability.

                        (Note:  I27 was later sunk by the destroyers. See FIGHTING DESTROYER by G Cornell and

                                    PASSAGE TO DESTINY by B J Crabb.)

           13th      Arrived at Addu Atoll with the four troopships

                        Embarked survivors of KHEEDIVE ISMAIL from HMS PETARD and resumed the passage

                        to Colombo



             1st      Arrived at Colombo with KR8.

                        Withdrawn from Eastern Fleet duties for service in Hone waters.

            19th     In collision with Greek destroyer KANARIS in Red Sea during passage to UK.

            29th     Arrived Clyde for repair.

            31st     Taken in hand for repair in commercial shipyard.


April               Under repair

            20th     On completion joined 1st Cruiser Squadron, Home Fleet.

                        Detached for support duty with Force U in Western Task Force during Normandy

                        landings. (Operation NEPTUNE).

                        Allocated to Bombarding Force A with US battleship USS NEVADA, US cruisers USS

                        QUINCY and USS TUSCALOOSA, HM Monitor EREBUS and HM Cruisers BLACK PRINCE

                        and ENTERPRISE.

May                 Carried out preparation exercises in NW Approaches for NEPTUNE bombardment duty.

            25th     Assembled with Bombarding Force A at Belfast.



             4th      Operation delayed by 24 hours during passage with Bombardment Force ships.

             5th      Joined USS BAYFIELD (Flagship of Force U) and Dutch Gunboat SOEMBA off Isle of

                        Wight for passage through swept channels.

             6th      Provided naval gunfire support during assault on UTAH Beach.

                        (Note:  Bombardment targets allocated were Maisy and St. Martin de Varreville batteries.

           12th      Deployed at GOOSEBERRY 4, north of Courselles with Commodore Depot Ships embarked.

                        Provided support and accommodation for crews of small craft.

                        Available for bombardment duty if required.

           20th      After release from NEPTUNE took passage to rejoin Home Fleet.

           31st      At Rosyth and withdrawn from operational service.

                        Nominated for service in Training Squadron at Rosyth.


August            Passage to Clyde for refit.


September       Under refit and conversion prior to relieving HM Cruiser DAUNTLESS.


1 9 4 5


January            Under refit

to                      Future deployment under consideration.



May                 Training requirement cancelled and ship to reduce to Reserve status.


June                 Reducing to Reserve in Clyde.


 P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS HAWKINS was later laid up at Falmouth in Category C Reserve and placed on the Disposal List. She was first used for target trials and sold to BISCO for demolition by Arnott Young on 26th August 1947. The ship was towed to Dalmuir on the Clyde and arrived at the breaker's yard during December that year.


S p e c i a l   N o t e


Details of escorts for WS Series convoys was provided by Donald Kindell, Ohio USA from an unpublished source. This is 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








CF 003





CM 032A





CM 034





CM 037B





MC 004





AB 007





JM 001





KR 008








(Note on Convoys)



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revised 5/6/11
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