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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2005

HMS CUMBERLAND  - County-type Heavy Cruiser
including Convoy Escort Movements

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Cumberland (Navy Photos, click to enlarge)

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KENT-Class Cruiser ordered from Vickers Armstrong at Barrow on 26th April 1924 and laid down on 18th October 1924. The ship was launched on 16th March 1926 as the 10th RN ship to carry the name, introduced for a 3rd Rate in 1695 and last used for an armoured cruiser in 1902 which was sold in 1921. Build completed  on 23rd January 1928. This cruiser has a long association with the civil community of the County whose name she bears.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


SADRAS 1758 - NEGAPATAM 1758 - PORTO NOVO 1759 - ST VINCENT 1780 - BALTIC 1851-55 - CAMEROONS 1915  - ARCTIC 1942-43 - NORTH AFRICA 1942  -  SABANG 1944 - BURMA 1945


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field Red, a rose Gold with Red and Gold centre.


M o t t o

Justitias tenax: ’Tenacious of Justice’



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



                3rd          On passage in Atlantic to Join South American Division of 8th Cruiser Squadron.

                7th          On arrival at Freetown was deployed on trade protection duty in Atlantic became

                                part of Hunting Group G for interception of blockade runners and commerce

                                raiders off east coast of South America.

                11th        Passage to Rio de Janeiro

                                Aircraft sighted German pocket battleship GRAF SPEE and tanker ALTMARK but enemy

                                ships escaped interception.

                15th        Carried out patrol off south of Ascension Island.

                25th        After meeting HM Cruiser NEPTUNE and HM Destroyers HUNTER and HYPERION

                                carried out joint search for blockade runners.



                5th          After refuelling at Freetown sent to join HM Cruisers EXETER, ACHILLES and AJAX

                                for continuation of interception patrols as Force G.

                                Failed to report 'raider’ signal from ss NEWTON BEACH sunk by German warship GRAF

                                SPEE and sighted by aircraft from German ship.

                                (Note: Ship was maintaining radio silence to prevent enemy interception of traffic.)

                15th        Resumed patrol between Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires



                10th        Passage to Capetown.

                18th        Deployed with Force G ships off coast of Brazil in search for GRAF SPEE.

                22nd       Passage to Plate estuary.



                2nd         Detached for patrol between Plate and Falklands.

                5th          In company with HMS AJAX intercepted German ship USSUKUMA which scuttled.

                12th        Under self-refit and boiler cleaning at Port Stanley.

                13th        Ordered to join EXETER, AJAX and ACHILLES off Plate estuary after GRAF SPEE had

                                sought refuge in Montevideo following her defeat in Battle of the River Plate.

                14th        Joined other ships in Plate estuary awaiting departure of GRAF SPEE.

                17th        At Montevideo after GRAF SPEE scuttled.

                21st         Passage to Port Stanley.

                24th        Refuelled and prepared for further interception duty in South Atlantic.

                29th        Sailed for patrol in Plate area.


1 9 4 0



                8th          Passage to Cape of Good Hope.

                11th        Under refit in HM Dockyard Simonstown.



                13th        Resumed interception patrol and trade defence in the South Atlantic.



                1st           Passage to Freetown.

                4th          Transferred to 6th Cruiser Squadron and continued interception and trade defence duties.


April                       South Atlantic trade defence in continuation.



                31st         Joined escort at Capetown for military convoy US3 taking ANZAC troops to UK.



                2nd         Passage to Freetown with US3.

                7th          Arrived Freetown.

                8th          Escort Joined by HM Aircraft Carrier HERMES

                10th        HMS HERMES detached.

                12th        Escort Joined by HM Cruiser DEVONSHIRE until 14th June when replaced by

                                ships from Home Fleet including HM Battleship HOOD and HM Aircraft Carrie ARGUS.

                16th        Detached from convoy on arrival in Clyde.

                29th        Joined escort at Greenock for Middle East convoy WS1 for passage to Capetown.


July                         After arrival of WS1 at Capetown carried out unsuccessful search for the German

                                commerce raider THOR reported in South Atlantic.

                                Joined Ocean Escort for military convoy WS1 during passage to Ceylon

                21st         HM Cruiser KENT joined Ocean Escort for WS1 in position 34.20S 33.00E.

                                (Note: WS1 comprised rms AQUITANIA, rms MAURETANIA and rms

                                QUEEN MARY taking troops to join 8th Army in EGYPT.

                29th        Detached from WS1 on arrival in Ceylon where troops were transferred

                                to smaller transports for onward passage.

                                (Note: As the two liners were not required to pass through the Red Sea they went to

                                Trincomalee after disembarkation.)


August                  Deployed on interception patrol and trade defence in South Atlantic.



                13th        Joined escort for military convoy on passage to Dakar with HM Cruiser CORNWALL.

                14th        Detached with HM Cruisers DEVONSHIRE, AUSTRALIA and HM Aircraft Carrier ARK

                                ROYAL to establish patrol off Cape Verde for interception of three Vichy French

                                cruisers attempting to reach Dakar.

                15th        Operation cancelled when French ships entered Dakar.

                                Carried out surveillance.

                16th        Intercepted French mercantile POITIERS on passage to Ivory Coast.

                18th        Deployed in pursuit of French warships GLOIRE, GEORGES LEYGUES and

                                MONTCALM with HM Australian Cruiser AUSTRALIA

                                (Note: These ships sailed from Dakar without detection

                                French ships were later intercepted by HM Cruisers CORNWALL and DELHI

                                The cruiser GLOIRE was persuaded to go into Casablanca but the other ships went

                                back to Dakar. (For details see RELUCTANT ENEMIES by W. Tute).)

                21st         Joined HMS ARK Royal, HM Battleships RESOLUTION and BARHAM, HM

                                Cruisers DEVONSHIRE, AUSTRALIA and Fleet destroyers in support of Free French

                                landing at Dakar and carried out defensive patrol offshore (Operation MENACE).

                23rd        Provided naval gunfire support and hit by 9.4in shell from shore battery.

                                Steam pipe fracture caused loss of electrical power and ship withdrawn from operation.

                                (Note: 4in Magazine was flooded as a precaution.)

                29th        Returned to Freetown when operation abandoned.


October                  Based at Freetown for Atlantic trade defence.

                9th          Relieved HM Cruiser SHEFFIELD as escort of military convoy to Middle East.



                24th        Joined Hunting Group in search for German battleship ADMIRAL SCHEER off Brazil.



                9th          Deployed with HM Cruiser ENTERPRISE in search for German commerce raider THOR.

                18th        Diverted with HMS ENTERPRISE to join HM Cruiser NEWCASTLE in renewed search

                                or ADMIRAL SCHEER. then reported between Rio de Janeiro and the Plate.

                                Later was also deployed to search for commerce raider PINGUIN.


1 9 4 1


January                  Deployed in South Atlantic for trade protection.

to                            Nominated for refit.



June                        Passage to UK.

                26th        Arrived at Sheerness


July                         Under refit at HM Dockyard Chatham.

to                            Radar equipment fitted for aircraft warning and fire control for forward main

September             armament. Close range 20mm Oerlikon weapons fitted for Close Range AA defence,


October                  Carried out harbour trials

                11th        On completion of dockyard work carried out post refit trials.


November              Joined 18th Cruiser Squadron in Home Fleet at Scapa Flow.


December              Home Fleet deployment for convoy defence and interception of commerce raiders in NW


1 9 4 2


January                  Nominated for Russian Convoy operation. and took passage to Murmansk

                16th        Embarked Foreign Secretary, Sir Stafford Cripps, for return passage to UK and

                                escorted return Convoy QP5 from Murmansk with HM Destroyers ICARUS and TARTAR.

                19th        Resumed Hone Fleet duties after arrival.


February                Deployed with Home Fleet.


March                    Under repair at Chatham.




May                        Rejoined 18th Cruiser Squadron in Home Fleet


June                        Deployed on patrol and convoy defence in MM Approaches.

                26th        Part of Home Fleet cover with HM Battleship DUKE OF YORK, US Navy Battleship

                                USS WASHINGTON, HM Cruiser NIGERIA and screen of 14 RN/USN destroyers for

                                passage of Russian convoy PQ17.



                4th          After dispersal of PQ17 covered passage of returning convoy QP13.

                                (Note: For details of this ill fated operation and its repercussions see ENGAGE THE

                                ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by C. Barnett, CONVOY! by P Kemp, RUSSIAN

                                CONVOYS by R Woodman, CONVOYS TO RUSSIA by R A Ruegg, THE

                                CONVOY IS TO SCATTER by G Broome and Naval Staff History)

                8th          Returned to Scapa Flow with combined RN/USN covering force.

                10th        Covered passage of HM Battleship KING GEORGE V from Liverpool to Scapa Flow.


August                  Deployed with Home Fleet.



                14th        Joined HM Cruisers SHEFFIELD, SUFFOLK and LONDON to cover passage and landing

                                of Norwegian party at Spitzbergen (Operation GEARBOX)

                                (Note: This deployment also covered passage of Russian Convoy PQ18.).

                18th        Landed parties at Barentsberg with HMS SHEFFIELD and HM Destroyer ECLIPSE.

                19th        Passage to Hvalfjord, Iceland and provided cover for returning Convoy QP14.

                23rd        Passage to Greenock.

                                (Note: Details of warships and mercantiles involved in Russian Convoy operations are

                                provided in above references.)


 October                 Deployed on patrol and trade defence in NW Approaches.

                31st         Sailed from Scapa Flow with HM Cruiser NORFOLK with screen of 5 destroyers.

                                Nominated for support of planned allied landings in North African (Operation TORCH.).



                5th          Deployed off Azores with HMS NORFOLK to cover US landings on Atlantic coast.

                                On release returned to Northern Patrol.



                21st         Provided distant cover with HM Battleship ANSON and HM Destroyers FORESTER,

                                ICARUS, IMPULSIVE , HM Escort Destroyers BLANKNEY and CHIDDINGFOLD.

                                for passage of Russian Convoy JW51B.

                31st         Returned to Iceland


1 9 4 3


January                  Deployed for Northern Patrol based in Iceland for interception of commerce raiders.



                21st         Provided additional cruiser cover with HMS BELFAST and HMS NORFOLK during passage of

                                Russian Convoy JU53 and returning RA53.

                28th        Experienced extreme weather conditions during which HMS SHEFFIELD had to return to

                                Scapa Flow after sustaining serious structural damage.



                9th          Returned to Iceland.

                14th        Deployed for Northern Patrol.


April                       Deployed in rotation with HM Cruiser BELFAST on Northern Patrol.

                                Nominated for refit

                                Passage to Sheerness

                                Taken in hand for refit


May                        Under refit by HM Dockyard Chatham during which additional 20mm weapons were fitted.

                                On completion took passage to Scapa Flow to resume Home Fleet duties.

                31st         Joined HM Cruiser BERMUDA to relieve garrison at Spitzbergen escorted by HM Destroyers

                                ECLIPSE and ATHABASKAN (RCN) covered by HM Aircraft Carrier FURIOUS, HM

                                Cruiser SCYLLA screened by HM Destroyers ECHO and MIDDLETON

                                (Operation GEARBOX II).


June                        Heavy weather on passage to Spitzbergen forced ships to shelter at Akureyri.

                7th          Sailed from Iceland to Spitzbergen,

                10th        Arrived at Spitzbergen for GEARBOX support operation.

                                Return passage to Scapa Flow.


July                         Home Fleet deployment at Scapa Flow.

                                Nominated for refit in commercial shipyard prior to foreign service.


August                  Passage to Tyne.

                6th          Commenced refit prior to transfer to Eastern Fleet.

                                (Note: Aircraft facilities removed.

                                Changes in radar equipment included

                                Surface warning Type 273

                                Fire-control Type 285 for forward 4in HA armament

                                Air warning radar Type 281 with an Interrogator outfit

                                Close range fire-control radar (Type 282)

                                20mm Oerlikon arrangements improved and additional mountings fitted.


September             Under refit




November              Carried out harbour trials

                29th        On completion of dockyard carried out post refit trials in North Sea.


December              Worked-up at Scapa Flow for service with 4th Cruiser Squadron, Eastern Fleet


1 9 4 4


January                  Passage to Ceylon via Mediterranean with HM Cruiser LONDON.


February                On passage from Alexandria with HMS LONDON.


March                    Prepared for service in 4th Cruiser Squadron on arrival at Trincomalee.

                21st         Carried out offensive sweep in Indian Ocean with HM Battleships QUEEN

                                ELIZABETH, VALIANT, HM Battlecruiser RENOWN, HM Aircraft Carrier

                                ILLUSTRIOUS, HM Cruisers LONDON, GAMBIA and CEYLON screened by

                                Fleet destroyers. (Operation DIPLOMAT).

                27th        Met US Task Group 58.5 (US Aircraft Carrier SARATOGA and 3 USN destroyers)

                                SW off Cocos Islands with ships of Eastern Fleet.



                4th          Joint RN/USN force returned to Trincomalee.


May                        Deployed in Indian Ocean.


June                        Transferred to 5th Cruiser Squadron in Eastern Fleet.

                26th        Deployed on petrol in Indian Ocean and called at Fremantle.


July                         Rejoined Eastern Fleet for offensive operation against targets in Sumatra with

                                HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, HMS VALIANT, HMS RENOWN, French battleship

                                battleship RICHELIEU, HM Cruisers NIGERIA, KENYA, CEYLON and GAMBIA

                                screened by five Fleet destroyers (Operation CRIMSON).

                25th        Bombarded Japanese positions at Sabang..


August                  Deployed in Indian Ocean and prepared for future support of carrier operations.



                8th          Exercised with HM Battleship HOWE, HMS LONDON and HMS GAMBIA.

                14th        Provided cover with HMS HOWE and Eastern Fleet cruisers during air operations by

                                HM Aircraft Carriers VICTORIOUS and INDOMITABLE carriers on Sigli, Northern

                                Sumatra (Operation LIGHT).



                17th        Bombarded airfields on Nicobar Islands with HM Cruisers LONDON, SUFFOLK

                                and Fleet destroyers as Task Group 63.2 (Operation MILLET).

                                (Note: This was a diversionary operation during the US assault on Leyte and

                                included attacks on Japanese positions)

                19th        Under unsuccessful attack by torpedo carrying aircraft.


November              Deployed in Eastern Fleet with 5th Cruiser Squadron.


December              Passage to South Africa for refit


1 9 4 5


January                  Under refit by HM Dockyard Simonstown.





                3rd          Carried out Post refit trials off Capetown.

                                On completion took passage to resume Fleet duties at Trincomalee

                                (Note: Ship would be joined renamed East Indies Fleet. See WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO).



                8th          Joined Task Group 63.2 with HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, French Battleship RICHELIEU and

                                HMS LONDON screened by 5 Fleet destroyers to cover air reconnaissance flights by HM

                                Escort Aircraft Carriers EMPRESS and KHEDIVE at Port Swettenham and Port Dickson,

                                Malaya. (Operation SUNFISH).

                11th        Bombarded targets at Sabang during offensive sweep against shipping in Indian Ocean as part

                                of SUNFISH.

                27th        Joined Task Force 63 with HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, French battleship RICHELIEU, HM

                                Escort Aircraft Carriers SHAH and EMPRESS with HM Cruisers SUFFOLK, CEYLON and

                                Dutch cruiser TROMP escorted by five Fleet destroyers for attacks on Nicobars.

                                (Operation BISHOP).

                                (Note: This was a diversion during assault on Rangoon (Operation DRACULA).

                29th        Bombarded Car Nicobar and Port Blair.



                1st           Continued bombardments on airfields at Port Blair and Car Nicobar.

                2nd         Further bombardment of shore targets.

                3rd          Joined Task Force 68 with FS RICHELIEU, HMS SHAH, HMS EMPRESS, HMS CEYLON

                                and three Fleet destroyers for attacks on shipping off coast of Burma.

                6th          Rejoined East Indies Fleet to provide cover during air strikes on Andamans.

                10th        Deployed in TF61 with HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, FS RICHELIEU, HMS Cruiser

                                ROYALIST, Dutch cruiser TROMP, HMS HUNTER, HMS KHEDIVE, HMS SHAH and

                                HMS EMPEROR of 21st Carrier Squadron.

                                Destroyer screen comprised HM Destroyers SAUMAREZ, VENUS, VERULAM, VIRAGO,

                                VIGILANT, NUBIAN and ROTHERHAM (Operation DUKEDOM)

                                (Note: For interception and sinking of Japanese ships evacuating forces from Burma).

                11th        Detached with FS RICHELIEU and destroyers to be in position 50 miles ahead of main body

                                of TF61 in 6 Degree Channel.

                14th        Detached to escort Carriers during air search for shipping off Diamond Point.

                                (Operation MITRE).

                                (Note: This ship was not involved in the later sinking of Japanese cruiser HAGURO which

                                was 50 miles away from the position I which she was intercepted by Fleet destroyers.)

                                For details of this and other Eastern Fleet Operations see OPERATION PACIFIC

                                by. E. Gray and THE FORGOTTEN FLEET by J Winton and WAR WITH JAPAN



June                        Deployed with Eastern Fleet and prepared for support of military operations in Malaya.

to                            (Operation ZIPPER).




                15th        Sailed with Eastern Fleet for Malayan assault (Operation ZIPPER).

                                (Note: The planned assault Landings were delayed due to pressure from the U S and indecision

                                in London for political considerations associated with return of service personnel from

                                the Far East in the PYTHON Scheme. For details see The Supreme Commander SEAC

                                Report to Joint Chiefs of Staff and above references).

                16th        Passage to Rangoon.

                27th        Deployed in Indian Ocean off Sumatra to assist in military operations after the Japanese




                4th          At Singapore.


P o s t   W a r   N o t e s



HMS CUMBERLAND was deployed in East Indies for support of military operations and shipment of food to Batavia. She returned to UK on release from the East Indies Fleet arriving at Chatham in November 1945. After repair at Chatham she was deployed for trooping duties from the Far East until June 1946. For the rest of her service she was used as a trials cruiser (above) after conversion for this role at Devonport completing in May 1951. For the next eight years this ship was used as a trials platform for many different types of weapons systems as well as of smaller pieces of equipment prior to their introduction into Fleet use. She was placed in Reserve in May 1959 and sold to BISCO for breaking up by J Cashmere at Newport where the ship arrived under tow on 3rd November 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








WS 001





WS 003A





WS 003





SL 076





QP 005





PQ 017





QP 013





PQ 018





QP 014





JW 051B





JW 053





RA 053








(Note on Convoys)



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