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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2002

HMS LEGION (G 74) -  L-class Destroyer
including Convoy Escort Movements

HMS Laforey, sister-ship (Navy Photos, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

L-Class destroyer ordered from Hawthorn Leslie at Newcastle on 31st March 1938 under the 1937 Programme and laid down on 1st November 1938. She was launched on 26th December 1939 as the 2nd RN ship to bear this name, introduced for a destroyer built in 1914 and sold in 1921. During 1940 the main armament for this ship and three others of this Class was changed. Twin 4in HA mountings were fitted and these four ships were re-classified as AA Destroyers. Build was completed on 19th December 1940 at a Tender cost was £445,684 which excluded items such as weapons and communications equipment supplied by the Admiralty. After a successful  WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in November 1941 this destroyer was adopted by the civil community of the Municipal Borough of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


HELIGOLAND 1914  - DOGGER BANK 1915 - CAPE  BON 1941 - NORWAY 1941 - ATLANTIC 1941 - MEDITERRANEAN 1941 - MALTA CONVOYS 1941-42 - LIBYA 1941-42 - SIRTE 1942


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field Blue, an eagle displayed upon a perch Gold.



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)



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December              Contractors trials and commissioned for service.

                 19th       Build completion and commenced First of Class Acceptance Trials.

                 21st       Taken in hand at commercial shipyard in Greenock for repair of defects arising during trials


1 9 4 1



                   3rd      Passage to Scapa Flow for work-up with ships of Home Fleet

                   5th      Deployed at Scapa Flow for working-up.

                 29th      On completion of work-up took passage to Greenock for service in Western Approaches



February               Deployed at Greenock with 11th Escort Group for convoy defence in NW Approaches.

                              (Note: During this period carried out successful trial of modified Radar Type 286M

                                          using a rotating instead of fixed aerial array. For details of the development and use of

                                          radar by the RN see RADAR AT SEA by D Howse. The new aerial was then

                                          put into production and when fitted the modified RAF Air/Surface outfit became

                                         Radar Type 286P which was far more suitable for ship use.)

                   8th      Deployed with Polish destroyers ORP PIORUN and joined HM  Destroyers BROADWATER,


                              as Local Escort for military convoy WS6A during its passage in NW Approaches.

                  12th     Detached from WS6A with HM Destroyers ATHERSTONE, COTTESMORE, KEPPEL,

                              RESTIGOUCHE (RCN), ST LAURENT and ORP PIORUN and returned to Clyde.

                              (Note: Relieved by HM Cruisers BIRMINGHAM, PHOEBE and HM Armed Merchant

                                            Cruiser CATHAY deployed as Ocean Escort.)

                  18th     Joined HM Destroyers HESPERUS and HURRICANE with ORP GARLAND and ORP

                              PIORUN in Local Escort for military convoy WS6B during passage in NW Approaches.

                              (Note: HM Cruiser MAURITIUS was also deployed as Ocean Escort.)

                  20th     Detached from WS6B with Local Escort and returned to Clyde with Local Escort.

                  24th     Deployed with ORP PIORUN and joined HM Destroyers BROADWATER, BEDOUIN,

                              MASHONA, MATABELE, SOMALI for Local Escort from Clyde of military convoy WS7.

                              (Note: HM cruiser EDINBURGH was also deployed. and HM Battleship REVENGE as

                                          Ocean Escort.)

                    26th   Detached from WS7 with ORP PIORUN and returned to Clyde.

                              Nominated for detached service with Home Fleet and took passage to Scapa Flow for

                              support of planned raid on the Lofoten Islands.

                     28th   Prepared for support of Operation CLAYMORE.

                               (Note: No. 3 and No. 4 Commandos carried out CLAYMORE.)



                       1st   Deployed with HM Destroyers SOMALI, BEDOUIN, TARTAR and ESKIMO as escort for

                               two Landing Ships during passage to Lofoten Islands.

                               Cover provided by ships of Home Fleet.

                               For details see COMBINED OPERATIONS (HMSO), THE WATERY MAZE

                                            by B Fergusson and Naval Staff History.)

                       3rd   Provided support during landings

                       6th   Resumed convoy defence deployment in Western Approaches on release from CLAYMORE.



                       6th   Joined 14th Escort Group.

                     13th   Rescued survivors from HM Armed Merchant Cruiser RAJPUTANA which had been sunk

                                in NW Approaches by U108. 177 men were saved but 40 lost their lives.

                               (Note: Deployment with HMS RAJPUTANA for convoy escort to be confirmed)

                     24th   Deployed with HM Destroyers HURRICANE, OTTAWA (RCN), ORP PIORUN and

                               RESTIGOUCHE and SAGUENAY (RCN) for Local Escort of military convoy WS8A.

                               Joined HM Destroyers HARVESTER, HAVELOCK, HESPERUS, BEAGLE, and ERIDGE

                               also part of escort.

                     29th   Detached from WS8A with Local Escort and returned to Clyde.

                               (Note: HM Battlecruiser REPULSE and HM Cruiser NAIAD provided Ocean Escort.)



                     22nd  Deployed with HM Canadian Destroyers ASSINIBOINE and SAGUENAY as screen for

                               HM Battlecruiser REPULSE during passage from Clyde to join HM Battleship KING

                               GEORGE V in Butt of Lewis.

                               (Note: This was prior to commencement of later Home Fleet search for the German

                                           battleship BISMARCK.

                               On arrival deployed for screening of Home Fleet major warships.

                     24th   Detached from Home Fleet screen during initial stage of search for BISMARCK and

                               took passage to Iceland to refuel.

                     28th   Rejoined Home Fleet screen after sinking of BISMARCK.

                               On release took passage to Clyde to resume convoy defence duties.

                     31st   Deployed with HM Destroyers BRIGHTON, SAGUENAY. ST MARY’S, SHERWOOD.

                               VANSITTART, WILD  SWAN and WIVERN as Local Escort for military convoy WS8X

                               during passage in NW Approaches from Clyde.

                               (Note: HM Cruiser NORFOLK was deployed as Ocean Escort during passage to Freetown.)



                       3rd   Detached from WS8X with Local Escort and returned to Clyde.

                     22nd  Provided escort for HM Aircraft Carrier FURIOUS with HM destroyer LANCE during

                               passage to Gibraltar prior to Malta Aircraft delivery.

                     25th   Arrived at Gibraltar.

                               (Note: Aircraft were transferred to HMS ARK ROYAL for launch in western Mediterranean).

                     26th   Deployed with HM Destroyers FAULKNOR, FORESTER, FURY and LEGION as screen for

                               HM Aircraft Carrier ARK ROYAL, HM Battlecruiser RENOWN and HM Cruiser HERMIONE

                               to provide cover for Malta aircraft delivery by HMS ARK ROYAL (Operation RAILWAY I)

                     28th   Returned to Gibraltar with covering force after launch of aircraft.

                     30th   Deployed with HM Destroyers FEARLESS and FOXHOUND as screen for HMS FURIOUS

                               and HM Cruiser HERMIONE as Group A during delivery of aircraft in western Mediterranean

                               by HMS FURIOUS (Operation RAILWAY II).

                               (Note: Cover was provided by ships of Force H based at Gibraltar.

                                           Aircraft were also launched from HMS ARK ROYAL deployed as Force B.)

                                           Completion of Phase two by Group B was delayed by a fire in HMS FURIOUS when

                                           an aircraft crashed on launch. See MALTA CONVOYS by R Woodman.)


July                        On release from service at Gibraltar took passage to Greenock to resume deployment in Western

                               Approaches with Special Greenock Escort Group.

                               Deployed for convoy defence in Western Approaches.



                       2nd  Provided Local Escort for military convoy WS10 during passage from Clyde in NW Approaches

                               with HM Destroyers BROADWAY. GURKHA, LANCE and Dutch ISAAC SWEERS.

                       6th   Detached from WS110 with Local Escort and returned to Greenock.

                               Nominated for service at Gibraltar with 4th Destroyer Flotilla and took passage from Clyde.

                               On arrival at Gibraltar deployed for anti-submarine patrol and local escort of convoys to

                               and from UK

                               (Note: Deployment as part of escort for OG71 to be confirmed.)

                     20th   Deployed to reinforce escort for Convoy OG71 on passage to UK and under attacks by U559,

                               U201 and U564. which were unable to penetrate screen and attacks failed.

                               Joined by HM Destroyer  LANCE which had established positions of U-Boats with newly

                               fitted  Direction Finding equipment.

                               (See HITLER’S U-BOAT WAR by C Blair details of attacks on OG71 and SEEK AND

                               STRIKE by W Hackmann for details of use of D/F equipment.).

                     23rd   Submarine attacks discontinued by strong escort and availability of air cover.

                     25th   Detached on arrival of OG71 at Liverpool.

                               (Note: HM Destroyer BATH, HM Corvette ZINNIA and seven mercantiles were lost on


                     31st    Joined military convoy WS11 in Clyde and deployed with HM Cruiser CAIRO, HM Destroyers

                                COSSACK, HIGHLANDER, LIVELY, WINCHELSEA, ZULU Polish destroyers ORP

                                 PIORUN, GARLAND and Dutch ISAAC SWEERS as escort during Atlantic passage.



                      4th   Detached from WS11 and took passage to Gibraltar to resume Flotilla duties.

                      7th   Deployed with Flotilla at Gibraltar

                              (Note: Flotilla included HM Destroyers COSSACK, LANCE. LEGION, LIVELY,

                                         MAORI, SIKH and ZULU.)

            8th           Deployed with HM Destroyers FORESTER, LANCE and LIVELY as screen for HM Aircraft

                            Carrier ARK ROYAL and HM Cruiser HERMIONE during Malta aircraft delivery.

                            (Operation STATUS I).

            9th           Returned to Malta with same ships after launch of HURRICANE aircraft.

          10th           Deployed with HMS ZULU, HMS LANCE and HMS LIVELY as screen for HM Battleship

                            NELSON and HMS ARK ROYAL as Force A to provide cover during Malta aircraft delivery

                            (Operation STATUS II).

          14th           Returned to Gibraltar with Ships of Force A after launch of aircraft from HMS FURIOUS and

                            carrying out series of exercises in preparation for planned Malta relief operation.

          24th           Deployed with HM Destroyers DUNCAN, GURKHA (ii), LANCE, LIVELY, FURY, Dutch

                            destroyer ISAAC SWEERS, Polish destroyers ORP GARLAND and PIORUN as screen for Force

                            A comprising HM Battleships NELSON, RODNEY, PRINCE OF WALES and HMS ARK ROYAL

                            to provide cover for passage to Sicilian Narrows of Convoy GM2 destined for Malta under escort

                            of Force X (Operation HALBERD)

          26th           Under threat of surface attack by Italian battle squadron but this was not located by an air search

                            from HMS ARK ROYAL,

                            (Note: It was later established that the Italian warships had retired when the strength of the

                                        British covering force was known.)

                            Under air attacks.

          27th           Under further air attacks during which HMS RODNEY was hit by an aircraft torpedo but

                            remained in covering force at a reduced speed.

                            Remained west of Narrows to provide cover during passage of Convoy MG2 and returning

                            Force X ships during passage to Gibraltar.

          28th           Under threat of air attacks but these were deterred by effective use of aircraft away from Force A

          29th           Met returning warships and under threat of submarine attack.

                            (Note: HMS NELSON was detached and returned to Gibraltar with HMS PRINCE OF WALES,

                                        HM Cruisers KENYA and HMS SHEFFIELD (Force X), HM Destroyers LAFOREY,

                                        LIGHTNING, ORIBI, FORESIGHT, FORESTER (Force X) and HMS FURY (Force A).

          30th           During return passage carried out anti-submarine operations with HMS GURKHA (ii) and sank

                            Italian submarine ADUA in position 37.10N  00.56E by depth charge attacks.



                      1st    Returned to Gibraltar with remainder of ships of Force X and Force A

                     10th   Deployed with HM destroyers COSSACK, SIKH, ZULU, FORESTER and FORESIGHT

                               as screen for HMS ARK ROYAL and HMS HERMIONE to [provide cover for Malta aircraft

                               delivery from HMS ARK ROYAL (Operation CALLBOY)

                     19th   Returned to Gibraltar with covering force on completion of CALLBOY.

                     22nd  Sailed from Gibraltar with HMS COSSACK, HM Destroyers LAMERTON, DUNCAN and

                               VIDETTE as Local Escort for inward Convoy HG75 during initial stage of passage to Liverpool.

                               (Note: Ocean Escort included CAM Ship ARIGUANI, Free French Sloop COMMANDANTE

                                           DUBOC and four corvettes.)

                     23rd   Carried out unsuccessful anti-submarine operations against U205.

                                Rescued survivors from the disabled destroyer HMS COSSACK after being torpedoed by U563

                               during an attack on HG75 200 miles west of Cape Spartel

                               See WARSHIP LOSSES in WW2 by D Brown.)


November              Part of 4th Destroyer Flotilla.

                     10th   Deployed with HM Destroyers LAFOREY, LIGHTNING, SIKH, ZULU, GURKHA and

                               Dutch destroyer ISAAC SWEERS as screen for HM Battleship MALAYA, HM Aircraft

                               Carriers ARK ROYAL. ARGUS and HM Cruiser HMS HERMIONE during provision of

                               cover for Malta aircraft delivery from the two aircraft carriers (Operation PERPETUAL)

                     13th   Carried out unsuccessful anti-submarine operations after torpedo attack from U205.

                               Under attack by U81 during which HMS ARK ROYAL was hit by torpedo and disabled.

                               Stood by stricken ship with HMS LIGHTNING.

                               Embarked 1,560 survivors and later returned to HMS ARK ROYAL for transfer of key

                               personnel for damage control

                     24th   Arrived back at Gibraltar after HMS ARK ROYAL sank during tow.


December               Transferred with HM Destroyers SIKH, MAORI and Dutch ISAAC SWEERS to Alexandria

                                for service with Mediterranean Fleet.

                     11th   Sailed from Gibraltar to join Fleet based at Alexandria.

                     13th   Intercepted Italian cruisers ALBERTO DI GUISSANO and ALBERICO DA BARBIANO.

                               off Cape Bon.

                               Engaged with main armament and torpedoes. Both ships were sunk whilst taking fuel and

                               and stores to Tripoli. Italian torpedo boat CIGNO in company was able to escape.

                               (Note: This attack was made after Italian signal traffic had been decyphered.)

                     14th   Arrived in Malta to stirring reception and deployed with Force K.

                               (Note: Force K had been formed specifically to carry out attacks on Axis convoys on passage

                                           in central Mediterranean for support of military operations.)

                     15th   Sailed from Malta with HM Cruisers AURORA and PENELOPE, HM Destroyers LANCE,

                               LIVELY, MAORI, SIKH, ZULU and Dutch ISAAC SWEERS as Force K to meet HM Supply

                               Ship BRECONSHIRE during passage from Alexandria escorted by ships of Mediterranean

                               Fleet deployed as Force C (Operation MF1)

                     16th   Passage of HMS BRECONSHIRE under threat of attack by Italian warships escorting Convoy

                               M42 on passage to North Africa and covered by another Italian battle squadron.

                               After meeting Force C. Force K remained with the Mediterranean Fleet ships to ensure that

                               improved protection was available for HMS BRECONSHIRE.

                               (Note: HM Cruiser NEPTUNE, HM Destroyers JAGUAR and KANDAHAR at Malta and

                                            identified as Force B were ordered to join Force C and K.)

                     17th   Under air attacks.

                               Took part in brief engagement with Italian warships which retired when a threat of night torpedo

                               attack by British destroyers with radar fitted was anticipated (1st Battle of Sirte.)

                     18th   Under air attacks.

                               Joined Ships of Force C with and took passage with them to Alexandria.

                     19th   Arrived at Alexandria with Force C.

                               (Note: Italian submarine SCIRE with three human torpedoes entered Alexandria when Boom

                                           was raised to allow Force C to enter harbour. The enemy then laid explosive charges

                                           on HM Battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH, VALIANT and tanker SAVONA with

                                           devastating results. See references.)

                     28th   Took part in sinking of U75 with HM Destroyer KIPLING off Mersa Matruh in position 31.50N

                               26.40E after 2½ hour hunt following the sinking of British ss VOLO.

                               (Note: This is not confirmed in U-BOATS DESTROYED by P Kemp which gives credit to

                                           HMS KIPLING. Support of Tobruk garrison may be assumed for both ships.


1 9 4 2


January                   Alexandria deployment for Fleet duties.

                     16th   Escorted Convoy MW8B from Alexandria with HM Destroyers MAORI.

                               GURKHA and Dutch ISAAC SWEERS for passage to Malta (Operation MF3)

                     17th   Under attack by U133 north of Bardia during which HMS GURKHA (i) was sunk.

                     18th   Convoy merged with MW8A to form MW8 for passage to Malta.

                               On arrival of Force K ships from Malta to take over escort of MW8 joined

                               Force K with HMS MAORI as part of escort into Malta.

                     19th   Arrived in Malta with HMS PENELOPE. HM Destroyers  LANCE, MAORI,

                               LIVELY, SIKH and ZULU.

                     25th   Deployed with HMS PENELOPE, HMS LIVELY, HMS LANCE, HMS MAORI and HMS

                               ZULU as Force K and sailed from Malta escorting Convoy ME9 for initial part of passage to

                               Alexandria. (Operation MF4).

                               (Note: ME9 comprised HMS GLENGYLE and ss ROWALLAN CASTLE.)

                     26th   Remained with Force K when escort of ME9 was transferred to Force B from Alexandria

                               and returned to Malta.

                               (Note: HM Destroyer KINGSTON from Force B replaced HMS LANCE which took passage

                                            back to Egypt with Force B.

                     27th   Taken in hand for repair to ASDIC equipment by HM Dockyard, Malta.

                               (Note: One source records this was due to near misses in air attack.)


February                 Under repair.

                                Transferred to 22nd Destroyer Flotilla as part of re-organisation of destroyer Flotillas.

                     13th   Rejoined Force K and sailed from Malta with HMS PENELOPE, HM Destroyers DECOY,

                               SIKH, FORTUNE, LIVELY and ZULU as escort for Convoy ME10 for passage to meet Force

                               B from Alexandria which was escorting Convoy MW9. (Operation MF4).

                     14th   After exchange of convoys HMS DECOY and HMS FORTUNE transferred to Force B.

                               and HMS LANCE detached from Force B and joined  Force K.

                               Deployed with Force K as escort for MW9 for passage into Malta.

                               (Note: ss ROWALLAN CASTLE was the only ship remaining from the three which sailed

                                           from Egypt. This convoy had been under sustained attack by aircraft.

                                           For details see above references.)

                               Under air attacks during which ROWALLAN CASTLE was hit and disabled.

                               Towing attempt was unsuccessful and this mercantile had to be sunk.  

                               HMS ZULU, HMS SIKH and HMS LIVELY detached from Force “K” and took passage to

                               join Force B.

                     15th   Arrived in Malta with HMS PENELOPE and HMS LANCE.

                               (Note: Operation MF4 was therefore a failure as no relief supplies were landed in Malta.)


March                     Force K deployment in continuation.

                     21st   Sailed from Malta with HMS PENELOPE to take over escort of Convoy

                               MW10 from ships of Force B (Operation MG1).

                     22nd  Joined HMS CLEOPATRA, HMS DIDO, HMS EURYALUS and destroyer

                               screen escorting MW10 and remained with these ships and the convoy because of threat from

                               Italian battle squadron known to be on passage to intercept this attempt to provide relief

                               supplies to the island. (See above references.)

                               Took part in engagement with Italian ships and carried out torpedo attack (2nd Battle of Sirte).

                               (Note: The Italian squadron withdrew from the action after a confused exchange of shots and

                                           because of threat of torpedo attacks by British destroyers which were fitted with radar

                                           for fire-control of main armament. For details see above references, Naval Staff History,

                                           BRITISH DESTROYERS by E March and  MEDITERRANEAN MAELSTROM by

                                           GC Connell.)

                     23rd   Detached to join HM Destroyer ERIDGE escorting ss CLAN CAMPBELL and under air attack

                               during which damage was sustained by near miss.

                               Ship able to proceed using only one engine after damage control and beached in Marsaloxx

                               SE Malta.

                               (Note: Air cover from Malta had been promised to cover passage of MW10 into Malta but the

                                           24 hour delay caused by the engagement prevented this being available.)

                     25th   Taken in tow to HM Dockyard, Malta

                     26th   Alongside at Boiler Wharf awaiting repair.

                               Hit by two bombs during air raid on Grand Harbour and sustained further serious damage when

                               forward magazine exploded.

                               Ship sank and rolled over with bridge and funnel lying on jetty.


F i n a l   N o t e


HMS LEGION was cut in two during 1943 and attempts made to refloat were unsuccessful. After the end of WW2 breaking-up in situ was carried out but not completed until 1946.






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 001A





HG 056





TC 010





SA 1





HG 061





OG 066





TC 012





HG 069










OG 075





HG 075





TA 006/M





AT 012/M








(Note on Convoys)


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