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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2003

HMAS NEPAL (G 25), ex-NORSEMAN -  N-class Destroyer including Convoy Escort Movements

HMAS Nepal (Photo Ships, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 


N-Class destroyer ordered from John I Thornycroft of Woolston, Southampton on 15th April 1939 under the 1939 Programme. Allocated Yard No 1203 the ship was laid down on 9th September 1939. During construction on 18th December 1940 the hull structure sustained major damage by a direct hit and two other near misses during an air raid. The subsequent repair work delayed launch until 4th December 1941. Although intended to be sold to the Royal Netherlands Navy another ship of this Class was selected and this destroyer was renamed HMS NEPAL in January 1942 and was the 1st RN ship to bear the name. Following the loss of HM Destroyer GURKHA (ii) in January 1942, this change fulfilled a promise by the 3rd Sea Lord to continue the recognition of the great services rendered by Nepal to the War Effort and thus to maintain the association of the Royal Navy with both the Kingdom and the Gurkha Regiment which dates from 1888. Transferred on loan to the Royal Australian Navy this ship was commissioned on 11th May 1942 before completion of build on the 29th which included fit of degaussing gear as well as 20mm Oerlikon guns to improve defence against close range air attacks. (Note: Prior to transfer the ship had been adopted as HMS NORSEMAN by the civil community of Hartley Witney, Hampshire following a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign kin February)


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


BURMA 1944-45 - OKINAWA 1945


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Crest: On a Field barry wavy of six White and Blue a Kukri and trident

in saltire white, in front of the centre prong of the trident a crescent

 Gold, in chief a star of seven points also 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)



1 9 4 2




Contractors trials


11th - Commissioned for service by Royal Australian Navy in 7th Destroyer Flotilla.


29th - Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials




On completion of trials and storing took passage to Scapa Flow to work-up with ships of Home Fleet.


Passage to Clyde for rectification of defects prior to operational service.




Under repair in commercial shipyard. Nominated as part of escort for military convoy during passage to Indian Ocean.


17th - Joined Convoy WS21P in Clyde with HM Cruiser ORION and Dutch destroyer TJERK HIDDES (Ex HMS NONPAREIL) as Ocean Escort during passage to Freetown. (Note: Both destroyers were taking passage to join 7th Destroyer Flotilla which was also to include sister ships HMAS NIZAM, NAPIER and NORMAN.)


27th - Arrived at Freetown with WS21P.




2nd - Sailed with same ships as Ocean Escort for WS21P on departure from Freetown.


4th - Continued as Ocean escort after mercantiles from US Convoy AS4 joined. (Note: Convoy AS4 was escorted by US Navy warships and was made up of ships carrying supplies to Alexandria via Cape of Good Hope.)


12th - Arrived at Cape Town and detached from WS21P.


19th - Relieved HM Cruiser SHROPSHIRE and HM Destroyer DUNCAN with HMS ORION and Dutch destroyer TJERK HIDDES as Ocean Escort for WS21P during passage in Indian Ocean.


24th - Detached from Ocean Escort with TJERK HIDDES and took passage to join Flotilla at Kilindini.


25th - Arrived at Kilindini to commence Flotilla duties




Nominated for support of final occupation of Madagascar. (Operations STREAM, LINE and JANE –See WAR WITH JAPAN, Volume III (HMSO).)


Took part in preliminary exercises with ships of Eastern Fleet (Exercise TOUCHSTONE).


9th - Deployed as screen for HM Cruiser BIRMINGHAM, Dutch cruiser HEEMSKERCK and HM Aircraft Carrier ILLUSTRIOUS on passage to meet the troopship convoys from Kilindini and Diego Suarez carrying military assault force.


10th - Present during landings at Majunga as screen with HM Destroyer FORTUNE for HM Battleship WARSPITE (Operation STREAM). (Note: Naval Gunfire support was not required as landings were not significantly opposed.)


19th - Present during landings at Tamatave with HMS WARSPITE and HMS FORTUNE (Operation JANE). (Note: Planned bombardment was cancelled in favour of an air demonstration and ship movements within sight of shore.)


On release from JANE resumed convoy defence duties.




Taken in hand for routine docking by HM Dockyard, Simonstown.




On completion resumed convoy defence and patrol duties. Passage to Durban.


21st - Rescued crew of US mercantile PIERCE BUTLER which had been sunk by U177 in position ESE of Durban.




Deployed for convoy defence in South Atlantic Command.



1 9 4 3




Convoy defence in continuation.


February to April


Nominated for escort of military convoy during passage from Aden to Fremantle. (Operation PAMPHLET - Note: This convoy was taking troops of the 9th Australian Division back to Australia after the Australian government had requested their release from service in the 8th Army in the Western Desert to reinforce defence of Australia because of the threat of Japanese attack.


On release from escort took passage to Sydney for refit (To be confirmed) (Note: One source records that RAN personnel were embarked for passage to Sydney.)




On completion took passage to resume Flotilla duties in Indian Ocean convoy.


31st - Called at Fremantle with HM Destroyer QUIBERON (RAN).


June to November


Indian Ocean convoy defence and patrol based at Durban. (Note: Extensive military and commercial convoy traffic in the Indian Ocean created a shortage of suitable escorts. See WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO).)




1st - Joined HM Destroyer NORMAN and HM Corvette ROCKROSE in escort for military convoy WS24 on passage in Indian Ocean from Bahia.


4th - Detached from WS24 on arrival at Durban. Resumed convoy defence duties with Flotilla based at Durban.


1 9 4 4


January to February


 Indian Ocean convoy defence in continuation Transferred to Trincomalee with Flotilla and deployed in northern Indian Ocean.




Nominated for screening of major warships during Eastern Fleet operation.


21st - Sailed from Trincomalee with HM Destroyers QUALITY, QUEENBOROUGH, QUIBERON, QUILLIAM, NAPIER (RAN) and NORMAN (RAN), Dutch destroyers VAN GALEN and TJERK HIDDES as screen for HM Battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT, HM Aircraft Carrier ILLUSTRIOUS, HM Cruisers CEYLON, CUMBERLAND, GAMBIA (RNZN) and LONDON during passage in Indian Ocean to meet US Aircraft Carrier USS SARATOGA.


24th - Refuelled from Tanker Force which was escorted by Dutch cruiser TROMP.


27th - US Task Group TG56.25 comprising USS SARATOGA with destroyers USS CUMMINGS, FANNING, and DUNLAP joined Eastern Fleet units in position 13.10S 65.40E and took joint return passage to Ceylon. (Note: Ships were deployed in two Groups,  Group 1 comprised the battleships, two cruisers and a screen of 7 RN destroyers with the two aircraft carriers screened by the three US Navy and two RN destroyers.)




2nd - Arrived at Trincomalee with screen for returning RN and USN ships.


16th - Deployed with HM Destroyers NAPIER (RAN), NIZAM (RAN) PENN, PETARD, QUIBERON, RACEHORSE, ROTHERHAM and Dutch destroyer VAN GALEN as destroyer screen for HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, HMS VALIANT, French Battleship RICHELIEU, HM Cruisers NEWCASTLE, NIGERIA, CEYLON, GAMBIA and Dutch TROMP as Force 69 to provide cover for air attacks on Sabang, NW Sumatra by HMS ILLUSTRIOUS and USS SARATOGA deployed with covering major warships and destroyer screen as Force 70 (Operation COCKPIT).


19th - Carried screening duties for Force 69 during provision of cover for air attacks. (Note: An attack by three Japanese torpedo aircraft attempting to attack Force 69 failed when intercepted and shot down by air cover.. See WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO).)


24th - Returned to Trincomalee with Force 69.




6th - Deployed with HM Destroyers NAPIER (RAN), QUALITY, QUIBERON, ROTHERHAM, RACEHORSE, ROTHERHAM and Dutch destroyer VAN GALEN as screen for HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, HMS VALIANT, HM Battlecruiser RENOWN and HM Cruiser KENYA as Force 65 to provide cover during air attacks on Soerabaya, Java by HMS ILLUSTRIOUS and USS SARATOGA deployed with covering major warships and destroyer screen as Force 66 (Operation TRANSOM – See above reference).


15th - Refuelled in Exmouth Bay, Northern Australia from tankers of Force 67 deployed in support of TRANSOM.


17th - Carried out screening duties for Force 65 during provision of cover for air operations.


27th - Returned to Trincomalee with ships of Force 65.


June to July


Resumed Flotilla duties based at Trincomalee for convoy defence and patrol in Indian Ocean. Nominated for return to Australia for refit (Note: Record in one source that ship took part in attack on Sabang (Operation CRIMSON) during July is not confirmed in WAR WITH JAPAN).




Passage to Australia..


18th - Taken in hand for refit in Sydney




Under refit




2nd - Carried out post refit trials on completion of dockyard work.


Worked-up for further service with Eastern Fleet.




Passage to Trincomalee to rejoin Flotilla for Fleet duties. On arrival deployed in Force 64 for support of military operations off coast of Burma.


22nd - Retained for duty with newly formed East Indies Fleet when British Pacific Fleet was created.




Deployed with HMAS NAPIER in Force 64 for support of military operation on Arakan coast.


14th - Provided naval gunfire support during assault by 74th Indian Brigade (Operation ROMULUS). (Note: Force 64 ships replenished at Chittagong.)


24th - On release from support duties returned to Trincomalee



1 9 4 5




Force 64 deployment in continuation.


2nd - Deployed with HMAS NAPIER and HM Sloop SHOREHAM in support of landings by 3rd Commando Brigade on Akyab Peninsula (Operation LIGHTNING) (Note: 870 men from Brigade were landed.)


26th - C in C East Indies Fleet embarked to witness assault on Ramree Island (Operation SANKEY).


30th - Deployed with HM Destroyer PATHFINDER in support of landings on Sagu Island, south of Ramree




Nominated for return to Australia for deployment with Flotilla in British Pacific Fleet.


5th - Sustained damage to starboard propeller and withdrawn from operational service.


Passage to Colombo for docking and repair. On completion took passage to Trincomalee to prepare for return passage to Australia.


Deployed as escort for HM Escort Aircraft Carriers FENCER and RULER during passage to Fremantle and Sydney.




14th - Arrived at Williamstown. Prepared for service in 5th US Fleet under US Navy overall command. (Note: Pennant Number for visual signalling purpose changed to D125 to suit US Navy identification for destroyers.




On completion took passage to Sydney for operational service in Logistical Support Group for screening duties. Passage from Sydney to forward support base for British Pacific Fleet at Manus, Admiralty islands with HMAS NAPIER, NORMAN and NIZAM of 7th Flotilla. Deployed as escort for replenishment convoy during passage from Manus to the operational area south of the Sakishima Island Group


18th - On arrival in MOSQUITO ONE replenishment area joined screen for ships of Fleet Train (Task Force 112) providing support to ships of BPF (Task Force 57) during attacks on airfields in Sakishima island Group (Operation ICEBERG ONE)  (Note: Ship may also have been deployed with screen for ships of Task Force 57 during final series of air attacks.)


19th - Took passage from replenishment area with BPF ships to Leyte on completion of sixth and final series of attacks in ICEBERG ONE.




Deployed at Leyte. (Note: US Navy forward support base was sited at Leyte


3rd - Deployed with HMAS NORMAN, NIZAM and NAPIER as part of screen for Fleet Train to (Task Force 112) during BPF operations with US Task Forces off Sakishima Gunto.


14th - (Operation ICEBERG TWO.)


15th - Detached for service with screen for ships of Task Force 57 during attacks on Sakishima Gunto.


16th - Relieved in TF57 screen by HMAS NORMAN and took passage to Leyte to resume duties with Fleet Train.


25th - Returned to Manus with ships of on completion of ICEBERG TWO operations by BPF.  (Note: BPF was transferred to US 3rd Fleet on 27th May and became Task Force 37. See WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO).)




Passage to Australia for R&R period.




12th - Resumed screening duties with Task Force 112 and deployed for escort of replenishment convoys to support ships deployed off Japan.


26th - Deployed as screen for ships of Task Force 112 in operational area during replenishment of Task Force 37 with HM Escort Aircraft Carriers SPEAKER, RULER, STRIKER, HMAS NAPIER, HMAS NIZAM, HM Sloops PHEASANT, CRANE, REDPOLE, HM Frigates PARRET and PLYM


27th - Took passage with screen during return of replenishment ships to Manus. (Note: For details of the withdrawal of RN ships from operations see WAR WITH JAPAN and THE FORGOTTEN FLEET by J Winton.)




Arrived at Manus


20th - Docked in AFD20 at Manus for routine inspections and repair.


30th - Resumed operational duties and took passage to Tokyo.




6th - On arrival deployed for support of re-occupation and repatriation operations.



P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMAS NEPAL was deployed in support of Australian forces in Japan after VJ Day and returned from  these duties on 12th October. She arrived at Sydney on 20th of that month and was paid off from RAN service on 11th November 1945. The ship was re-commissioned into the Royal Navy as HMS NEPAL on 19th November manned by personnel returning to UK after service in the BPF or ashore in Australia and arrived at Portsmouth on 28th December. Selected for further service as Minesweeper Trials and Training ship to replace HM Destroyer WITCH attached to the Torpedo School at Portsmouth the ship was taken in hand for refit at conversion to suit her new role. Re-commissioned with personnel from HMS WITCH in July 1946 she was deployed on these duties, initially at Portsmouth and later at Rosyth attached to HMS LOCHINVAR. This ship was nominated for transfer to Reserve status and sailed to Devonport from Rosyth on 16th November 1950 and Paid-off on arrival. Although selected for conversion to Type 15 Frigate in February 1951 this was never implemented and she remained in Reserve at Plymouth until transferred to lay-up Penarth during March 1953. Placed on the Disposal List in May 1955 this destroyer was sold to BISCO for demolition by TW Ward at Briton Ferry where she arrived in tow at the breaker’s yard on 16th January 1956.






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








KR 005





CM 044





CM 045





AB 020F





AB 024B





MC 010A








(Note on Convoys)



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revised 12/6/11
further editing is required