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

HMS ARGONAUT  -  Dido-class AA Cruiser

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

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

DIDO-Class cruiser ordered from Cammell Laird of Birkenhead with the 1939 War Emergency Programme and launched on 6th September 1941. She was the 3rd RN warship to carry the name dating from 1782, when used for a Prize  (JASON). The ship completed in August 1942 and had the After funnel shortened to reduce top-weight. The original 5 turret design was retained. Following the loss of HMS COVENTRY which had been adopted by the city of Coventry in March 1941 she became the replacement ship and a liaison was maintained with the civil community during WW2.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


ARCTIC 1942 - NORTH  AFRICA  1942 - MEDITERRANEAN  1942 - NORMANDY  1944 - SOUTH  FRANCE  1944  - AEGEAN  1944 - OKINAWA 1945


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge:  On a Field Red, upon water in base barry wavy White and Blue

a Lymphad Gold, therein a demi Greek warrior in armour Gold,

holding in the dexter hand a fleece also Gold and in the sinister hand

 his shield also Gold.


M o t t o

Audax ominia perpeti:   'Bold to endure'




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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July                         Contractor's trials.

                14th        Commissioned for service after delay due to shortage of materials.

                                Nominated for duty in Mediterranean.


August                  Shakedown and work-up at Scapa Flow with Home Fleet.


September             On completion retained in Home waters with 10th Cruiser Squadron.

                                Deployed in NW Approaches.


                13th        Embarked RAF medical unit and took passage to Murmansk with HM Destroyers

                                INTREPID and OBDURATE.

                28th        Arrived in UK with RAF aircrew and ground staff which accompanied HAMPDEN

                                aircraft sent to Russia with Convoy PQ18. Called at Spitzbergen on passage.

                                (For details of all Russian Convoy operations see CONVOY ! by P Kemp , CONVOYS

                                TO RUSSIA by RA Ruegg and RUSSIAN CONVOYS by B Schoefield).

                30th        Joined HM Battleships DUKE OF YORK and NELSON, HM Battlecruiser RENOWN,

                                HM Aircraft Carriers FORMIDABLE and VICTORIOUS, HM Cruiser BERMUDA with

                                destroyer screen for passage to Gibraltar in support of North African landings.

                                (Operation TORCH - For details see Naval Staff History and ENGAGE THE ENEMY

                                MORE CLOSELY by Corelli Bamett).



                6th          Joined Force H on arrival.

                8th          Deployed with HM Destroyer ASHANTI for deception operation using wireless signals

                                to divert enemy attention to landings.

                15th        Deployed as Force Q with HM Cruisers AURORA, CHARYBDIS, SCYLLA and

                                SIRIUS based at Bone for offensive operations against enemy convoys in Gulf of Tunis.

                                HM Destroyers QUENTIN and QUIBERON provided screen.

                                (For details see THE BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by D MacIntyre).



                2nd         In action with HM Cruisers AURORA, SIRIUS, HM Destroyers QUENTIN and

                                QUIBERON against Italian convoy (H), north of Tunis. Four transports and escorting

                                destroyer FOLGORE sunk.

                14th        During deployment with Force Q, hit on starboard side by torpedoes from Italian

                                submarine MOCENIGO west of Galita Island. Sustain heavy structural damage to Bow

                                and stern structure which were blown off. Steering was unusable and the after two

                                turrets could not be used. Taken to Algiers


1 9 4 3



                1st           Passage to Gibraltar.

                4th          Taken in hand for temporary repair by HM Dockyard.


February                Temporary repair in continuation.

to                            Permanent repair arranged in USA.




                5th          Passage to USA with call at Bermuda.

                30th        Taken in hand for repair in Philadelphia.


May                        Under repair.




October                  Post refit trials.


November              Repair and refit work completed.

                                Passage to UK



                2nd         Arrived in UK.

                31st         Taken in hand by Tyne shipyard for completion of refit and alterations work which

                                was not possible in USA


1 9 4 4


January                  Refit in hand.

to                            Upper forward turret (Q) Turret removed to lessen top-weight and replaced by

February                quadruple pom-pom. Extensive radar and communication equipment changes made for

                                future deployment as Escort Flagship and to provide facilities for control of

                                aircraft.10cm Radars, Types 293 and 277 for surface warning and height finding

                                fitted. Fire-control radar provided for forward close range AA armament.

                                IFF (Interrogation) equipment and VHF D/F set installed.

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


March                    Post refit trials.

                                Nominated for support of British Force G during Normandy landings in Bombarding

                                Force K (Operation NEPTUNE).


April                       Joined 10th Cruiser Squadron, Home Fleet on completion.

                                Carried out naval gunfire support training.


May                        Deployed with Squadron in Home Fleet

                                Joined HM Cruisers ORION, AJAX and EMERALD at Belfast to form Force K.

                                Assigned gun batteries at Vaux-sur-Aure in Bombardment Plan.



                3rd          Sailed from Clyde with Force K in Convoy G12 escorted by HM Destroyers GRENVILLE

                                and UNDINE.

                5th          Netherlands Gunboat FLORES joined Force K in Solent.

                                Passage with Convoy G12 through swept Channel to Bombardment area.

                6th          Engaged target batteries during Assault Phase and later hit the battery at Longues

                                previously silenced by HMS AJAX.

                7th          Deployed in Eastern Task Force area during Build-up Phase for gunfire support.

                25th        Bombarded German batteries near Querqueville with H M Cruisers EMERALD,

                                ENTERPRISE and GLASGOW, US Battleship USS NEVADA, US Cruisers USS

                                TUSCALOOSA and USS QUINCY screened by USN Destroyers.

                26th        Provided naval gunfire support with HM Battleship RODNEY, HM Monitor ROBERTS,

                                HM Cruisers BELFAST and DIADEM during British offensive in Caen area.

                                Hit on the quarterdeck by 150mn shell from shore battery which failed to explode.


July                         Naval gunfire support off Normandy in continuation.

                                Returned to Devonport for re-lining of main armament barrels.

                                Resumed support role off Normandy.

                                (For details of Normandy landing operations see OPERATION NEPTUNE by K Edwards

                                and LANDINGS IN NORMANDY, JUNE 1944 (HMSO)).

                                Nominated for support of landings in south of France.



                4th          Took passage to join CAMEL Gunfire Support Group in Task Force 87) for allied

                                landings in southern France as part of Task Force 87 under US Command.

                                (Operation DRAGOON - For details see INVASION OF THE SOUTH OF FRANCE


                11th        Sailed from Salerno with US Battleship ARKANSAS, US Cruisers TUSCALOOSA

                                MARBLEHEAD and BROOKLYN screened by US destroyers.

                14th        Met CAMEL Convoy SF1A.

                15th        Fired 394 rounds at batteries between Cannes and Antibes and on St Marguerite.

                                Later bombarded shore targets in Golfe de Frejus. Under some return fire.

                16th        Bombarded troops and vehicles in CAMEL area.

                22nd       Released from DRAGOON and resumed control by CinC Mediterranean.


September             Nominated for duty in Eastern Mediterranean with British Aegean Force.

                24th        Deployed with HM Cruisers ORION, AJAX, ROYALIST, BLACK PRINCE,

                                AURORA and CEYLON in British Aegean Force to support allied forces

                                re-occupying Aegean Islands.


October                  Aegean support in continuation.

                16th        Deployed on interception of craft evacuation German troops and sank 2 caiques.


November              Support duty in Aegean in continuation.

                9th          Escorted military convoy to Salonika for re-occupation.

                                (See ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY for details of Aegean operations),

                22nd       Allocated to British Pacific Fleet on formation.

                25th        Took passage from Alexandria for Trincomalee.


December              Joined BPF on arrival.

                13th        Part of Force 67 covering air attacks on harbour, rail and oil installation in N.

                                Sumatra at Belawan-Deli by H M Aircraft Carriers INDOMITABLE and ILLUSTRIOUS

                                with HM Cruisers NEWCASTLE and BLACK PRINCE screened by HM Destroyers

                                KEMPENFELT, WESSEX, WHIRLWIND, WRANGLER and WAKEFUL.

                                (Operation ROBSON).

                                (For details of operations in Indian Ocean see OPERATION PACIFIC by E Gray).


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                2nd         Part of Force 67 covering air attacks on oil refineries at Pangkalan Brandan in

                                Sumatra, by HM Aircraft Carriers INDOMITABLE, VICTORIOUS and

                                INDEFATIGABLE with H M Cruisers SUFFOLK, BLACK PRINCE and CEYLON with

                                screen of eight destroyers.

                                (Operation LENTIL).

                4th          Present during air operations.

                13th        Took part in rehearsal at sea for MERIDIAN operations (See below).

                16th        Sailed from Trincomalee in Force 63 with British Pacific Fleet for air operations

                                during passage to Australia.

                24th        Part of screen for HMS INDOMITABLE, HMS ILLUSTRIOUS and HMS VICTORIOUS

                                during air attacks on oil refinery at Pladjoe, north of Palembang.

                                (Operation MERIDIAN I).

                                (Note: Ships refuelled in Exmouth Bay before after MERIDIAN I & II.)

                29th        Continued screening duty during air attacks on Soengi-Gerong, near Palembang by

                                same ships of TF63 (Operation MERIDIAN).


February                Passage to Sydney with call at Melbourne on 4th February.

                10th        Arrived at Sydney with Task Force 113 (redesignated TF63 after MERIDIAN).


March                    Exercised with BPF units for operational service in Pacific with 5th US Fleet.

                7th          Arrived at Manus, Admiralty Islands as Task Force 113.

                15th        After delays US approval received for deployment with US 5th Fleet.

                18th        Took passage from Manus for joint RN/USN operations in SW Pacific.

                23rd        Sailed from Ulithi to support US landings on Okinawa.

                                Redesigned Task Force 57.

                                (For details of operations in 5th US Fleet see OPERATION PACIFIC, TASK FORCE 57

                                by P Smith, THE FORGOTTEN FLEET by J Winton, CARRIER VICTORY by JM

                                Ludley and WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO).

                26th        Part of TF57 deployed on neutralisation of airfield in Sakishima Group.

                                (Operation ICEBERG).

                                Acted as radar picket with HM Destroyer KEMPENFELT 30 miles away from Fleet units.

                28th        Deployed as radar picket to refuelling group with HM Destroyer WAGER. Under air attacks.



                6th          Deployed as Radar Picket ship with HM Destroyer URANIA during continuation of air

                                attacks by RN and USN carriers of Task Forces 57 and 58 (Operation ICEBERG).

                9th          Diverted from ICEBERG with British Task Force 57 for air attacks en Formosa.

                                (Operation ICEBERG OOLONG).

                15th        Returned to Sakashima Gunto with TF57 to continue ICEBERG operations.

                20th        Deployed briefly off Leyte with HMS ILLUSTRIOUS and the destroyers HMS WAGER

                                and HMS WHELP.


May                        Sakishima Gunta operations in continuation.

                4th          Sailed to Sydney with HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, HMS WAGER and HMS WHELP.

                15th        Under refit.


June                        Refit in continuation


July                         On completion took passage to join British Pacific Fleet as relief for HM Cruiser

                                UGANDA in Task Force 37 (Redesignation of TF57 after transfer to US 3rd Fleet).

                                (Note: HMS UGANDA was manned by the Royal Canadian Navy and was later

                                withdrawn from operations in Pacific because of Canadian Government ruling

                                that only men who had volunteered were to serve in operations against Japan

                                were to remain in the Pacific Fleet.)

                27th        Relieved HMS UGANDA in covering operations during joint RN/USN air operations on

                                shore targets and shipping in Japan.

                31st         Deployed as relay ship for communications between refuelling group and operational

                                ships with HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, HM Escort Carrier RULER AND HM Cruiser

                                ACHILLES (RNZN).


August                  Fleet duties off Japan in continuation

                3rd          Deployed with Task Force 37 and covered carriers during flying operations.

                10th        Detached from covering duty.

                12th        Returned to Manus with TF37 ships not being retained in Japanese waters because of

                                shortage of fuel from British support tankers.

                15th        Transferred to British Task Unit 111.3 for collection of British POW from Formosa

                                and Chinese mainland with HM Aircraft Carrier COLOSSUS, HM Cruiser BERMUDA,

                                HM Destroyers TYRIAN, TUMULT, TUSCAN and QUIBERON (RAN).


P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS ARGONAUT went to Formosa and then after being joined by HM Cruiser BELFAST to Shanghai  to assist US Navy ships in repatriation of allied nationals. The ship remained with the British Pacific Fleet and was based at Hong Kong for the rest of 1945. She returned to Portsmouth in 1946 and was reduced to Reserve status. This cruiser was not recommissioned and laid-up in Reserve until being placed on the Disposal List in 1955. Sold to BISCO for demolition by J Cashmore and arrived at the breakerís yard in Newport in November 1955.


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