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

HMS, also ORP DRAGON  -  World War 1 D-type Light Cruiser including Convoy Escort Movements

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Dauntless, sister ship (Navy Photos,/Mark Teadham, click to enlarge)

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D-Class cruiser ordered from Scotts of Greenock in September 1916 and laid down on 24th January 1917. The ship was launched on 29th December 1917 as the 14th RN ship to carry the name that was first used in 1512 and previously by a destroyer sold in 1912. She was completed on 16th August 1918 and served with the Harwich Force in the 5th Light Cruiser Squadron. During 1919 this ship took part in operations against troops in the Baltic and in November 1923 was part of the escort for HM Battlecruisers HOOD and REPULSE with four other D-Class cruisers. Her later service after 1924 included commissions in the Mediterranean, China and the West Indies. She was placed in Reserve at Chatham in July 1937 and used for Boys training until fully commissioned in July 1939.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s

PORTLAND 1653 - GABBARD 1653 - SCHVENINGEN 1653 - LOWESTOFT 1655 - FOUR DAYS BATTLE 1666 - ORFORDNESS  1666 - BUGIA 1671 - BARFLEUR 1692  - TOULON 1744 - BELLEISLE 1761 - MARTINIQUE 1762 - HAVANA  1762 - EGYPT 1801 - CALDER'S ACTION 1805 - BALTIC 1854-55 - SUEZ 1882 - ARCTIC 1944

H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge:  On a Field Red. a dragon passant Gold.


M o t t o

'We yield but to St George'



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


July                         Commissioned from Reserve for service in Home Fleet and manned by Reservists.


August                  Attended Royal Review by HM King George 6th in Weymouth Bay.

                                Remained in commission and nominated for service on Northern Patrol in 7th Cruiser Squadron.

                                On completion of storing and with additional complement for war service took passage to join

                                Squadron in Scapa Flow.

                                Deployed for patrol in NW Approaches to intercept of German mercantiles returning to Germany

                                and commerce raiders attempting to enter Atlantic.



                3rd          Blockade duties authorised and patrol continued.

                                (For details of blockade activities see THE BLOCKADERS by C Hampshire.)


October                  Northern Patrol with Squadron in continuation.


November              Future deployment under consideration as war experience had shown this Class of

                                cruiser was unsuited for service in northern waters because of weather conditions.



                18th        Withdrawn from Northern Patrol.

                21st         Taken in hand for weather damage repair and refit at Chatham.


1 9 4 0


January                  Under refit.

                                Nominated for duty in South Atlantic..


 February               Under refit.

                                Deployment changed to Mediterranean.

                26th        Carried out post refit trials on completion of dockyard work..


March                    Prepared for foreign service in 3rd Cruiser Squadron.

                6th          Passage to Mediterranean from Portland to Join Squadron.


April                       Deployed in Mediterranean for Contraband Control.


May                        Transferred to 4th Cruiser Squadron for convoy defence in Indian Ocean.

                28th        Nominated for refit in Durban and took passage from Aden.

                                (Note: After the later outbreak of war with Italy it was evident that this Class of cruiser was

                                unsuitable for operations in the Mediterranean because of lack of an adequate AA

                                defence - See ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by Corelli Barnett).


June                        Under repair at Durban.

                                Transferred to South Atlantic Station for convoy defence.


July                         Deployed on convoy defence In Atlantic.

                                Taken in hand for repair in Lagos, Nigeria.



                4th          On completion escorted convoy to Durban.


September             Passage to Simonstown to resume duty in West African waters.

                16th        Captured French ship TOUREG off West Africa.

                21st         Joined Force M with CUMBERLAND for support of French landings at Dakar.

                                (Operation MENACE - For full details see MENACE By A Marder and the Naval

                                Staff History).

                23rd        Deployed with HM Battleship BARHAM, HM Aircraft Carrier ARK ROYAL, HM

                                Cruisers DEVONSHIRE, CUMBERLAND, DELHI, AUSTRALIA (RAN) and ten

                                destroyers during disastrous operations at Dakar operation.

                                Sank Vichy French submarine PERSEE with HM Destroyers INGLEFIELD and


                                Hit by shore battery fire during bombardment operations..

                24th        Bombarded shore batteries until Force M withdrew when operation abandoned.



                9th          Deployed In support of Free French landings at Duala.

                                (See above references).



                3rd          Returned to Freetown and resumed convoy defence duties in South Atlantic.



                18th        Diverted from patrol to join search off St Helena for German cruiser ADMIRAL

                                SCHEER with HM Aircraft Carrier HERMES and HM Armed Merchant Cruiser

                                PRETORIA CASTLE after sinking of ss DUQUESA.

                                (For details of searches for German raiders in Atlantic see ENGAGE THE ENEMY

                                MORE CLOSELY).


1 9 4 1


January                  Deployed in South Atlantic for convoy defence.




September             Under refit by HM Dockyard, Simonstown.


October                  Nominated for duty with 5th Cruiser Squadron in East Indies on completion of refit.

                                Took passage to Join Squadron after sea trials.


November              Joined Squadron for convoy defence in Indian Ocean.

                                Deployed for escort of ss AWATEA from Singapore.

                26th        Met military convoy WS12 which was on passage to Singapore escorted by HM Cruiser


                                Took over escort of mv DOMINION MONARCH and ss EMPRESS OF CANADA from

                                HMS GLASGOW

                                (Note: ss AWATEA took passage with HMS GLASGOW for passage to Colombo. )

                                Escorted ships from WS12V to Singapore.

                28th        Detached on arrival at Singapore.

                29th        Escorted troopship carrying the survivors from HM Battleship PRINCE OF WALES and

                                HM Battlecruiser REPULSE to Colombo with HM Cruiser DURBAN and HM Australian

                                Destroyer VAMPIRE.


December              After outbreak of war with Japan deployed on escort of convoys between Singapore and

                                Sunda Strait.

                                For details of naval activities in Indian Ocean and East Indies area after the outbreak of war

                                with Japan see OPERATION PACIFIC by E Gray and WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO).).


1 9 4 2


January                  Transferred to ABDA Command for convoy defence in Dutch East Indies area.

                                Escorted convoy taking reinforcement troops from Ceylon to Singapore.

                5th          Embarked CinC (Vice Admiral G Layton) and staff officers at Singapore for passage

                                to Batavia from Singapore.

                                Based at Batavia with ABDA ships.

                16th        Took passage from Singapore to Colombo.

                20th        Diverted during passage to join British China Force for escorted of military convoys

                                between Sunda Strait and Singapore.

                                Deployed with HM Cruisers DANAE and DURBAN, six destroyers and RIN Sloops.



February                Part of Western Striking Force based at Tanjong Priok with HM Australian Cruiser HOBART,

                                HMS DANAE, HM Destroyer SCOUT and HM Destroyer TENEDOS. Escorted Australian

                                SJ/JS convoys to Sunda Strait

.               6th          Relieved HM Australian Cruiser CANBERRA with HMS DURBAN as escort for Convoy M53

                                to Singapore from Christmas Island.

                11th        Relieved HI Cruiser DORSETSHIRE with HM Destroyer ENCOUNTER as escort for Convoy

                                JS2 to Oosthaven.

                15th        Deployed as part of Western Striking Force for defence duty off Western Java to intercept

                                Japanese invasion craft.

                26th        Carried out Unsuccessful search in Banka - Bilintong area for invasion fleet.

                2?th        Withdrawn from area and transferred to Colombo.

                28th        Passage to Colombo with HMS DANAE, HMAS HOBART, HMS SCOTT and HMS TENEDOS


March                    Deployed with East Indies ships at Colombo.

                31st         Joined HM Battleships RESOLUTION, RAMILLIES, ROYAL SOVEREIGN and REVENGE

                                with HM Cruiser CALEDON and the Dutch cruiser JACOB VAN HEEMSKERCK to form

                                Force B of Eastern Fleet with older destroyers.

                                Deployed west of Force A during search for Japanese naval units reported to be on passage

                                towards Ceylon.


April                       Deployed with Force B and transferred to Kilindini, Kenya.

                                (Note: Colombo was considered unsafe because of its vulnerability to air attack

                                Escorted military convoys in Indian Ocean prior to Madagascar landings.


May                        Deployed in Indian Ocean for convoy defence.


June                        Under repair at Simonstown.


July                         Withdrawn from operational service and took passage to UK.


August                  Taken in hand for refit at Chatham.




October                  Transferred to Liverpool for completion of work.


November              Under repair in Liverpool.

to                            (Note: During refit extensive changes were made including removal of No 6in gun,

December              both forward 4in mountings. These were replaced by 2pdr Pom-Pom mountings for Close

                                Range AA defence. In addition radar equipment was fitted for fire-control, for surface

                                warning and for aircraft warning.)

                                Transfer on loan to Poland under consideration.


1 9 4 3


January                  Under refit.

to                            Loan to Poland approved and ship to be renamed ORP DRAGON.



August                  Carried out Post refit trials.

to                            Prepared for operational service

September             Formal transfer to Polish Navy


S e r v i c e    u n d e r    P o l i s h    C o m m a n d


October                  Joined Home Fleet for convoy defence duty.


November              Under repair in Tyne commercial shipyard.


December              On completion resumed Home Fleet duties

                31st         Deployed at Greenock.


1 9 4 4


January                  Home Fleet Atlantic convoy defence with 10th Cruiser Squadron in continuation..


February                Deployed with Home Fleet units providing cover for passage of Russian convoys.

                                (Note: Some sources suggest part of escort for Murmansk Convoy JW57 and this is supported

                                by award of Battle Honour ARCTIC 1944. However although there is no dispute

                                about service off Normandy, no Battle Honour NORMANDY 1944 was awarded.

                                Possibly this was because the ship was then a Polish warship.)


March                    Atlantic and North Sea convoy defence In continuation.

                                Nominated for support of planned allied landings in Normandy (Operation NEPTUNE)

                                Allocated for service in Bombarding Force D.


April                       Under refit at Chatham to suit deployment in Force D.


May                        Further changes made to armament included:

                                Installation of twin 4in AA gun mounting in place of after Pom-Pom.

                                Addition of 20mm Oerlikon guns and two 4 Barrelled Pom Pom mountings

                                abreast funnels.

                15th        On completion rejoined Squadron in Home Fleet


                21st         Joined HM Battleships WARSPITE and RAMILLIES, H M Monitor ROBERTS, HM Cruisers

                                MAURITIUS, ARETHUSA, FROBISHER and DANAE of Force D in Clyde.

                26th        Took part in bombardment exercises on Cape Wrath range with Force D ships to prepare for

                                support of landings in SWORD Beach area.

                                Nominated target in Pre-Arranged Fire Plan - 105mm Gun Battery at Colleville-sur Orne.

                28th        Returned to Assembly area in Clyde with Force D.

                                (For details of naval activities before and during Normandy landings see LANDINGS

                                IN NORMANDY, June 1944 (HMSO) and OPERATION NEPTUNE by K Edwards).



                2nd         Passage to Solent area from Clyde.

                                (Ships in company were HM Battleships WARSPITE, RAMILLIES, HM Monitor ROBERTS,

                                HM Cruisers MAURITIUS, ARETHUSA, DANAE , FROBISHER screened by HM Destroyers


                                Norwegian destroyers STORD, SVENNER, Polish destroyer SLAZAK, HM Escort Destroyers

                                EGLINTON and MIDDLETON.)

                4th          Operation delayed for 24 hours.

                5th          Formed Convoy S6 with ships of Force D and took passage through swept channel to Beach

                                Head firing area escorted by HM Destroyers SAUMAREZ and SWIFT, H M Norwegian

                                Destroyers STORD and SVENNER, and HM Frigates ROWLEY and HOLMES.

                6th          Bombarded gun battery at Calleville-sur-Orne in accordance with fire plan.

                                Battery was destroyed.

                7th          Bombarded shore battery off Trouville which returned fire causing three injuries.

                                Relieved by HMS ROBERTS and deployed for further bombardments.

                                Passage to Portsmouth to replenish ammunition.

                8th          Returned to beachhead and bombarded positions at Houlgate.

                9th          Passage to Portsmouth to replenish ammunition.

                11th        Landed casualties and returned to beachhead after replenishment.

                12th        Provided Naval Gunfire support to military operations at Orne and Varaville.

                13th        Provided further gunfire support on request.

                14th        Gunfire Support in continuation.



                18th        Took passage to Portsmouth with HM Battleship NELSON during which the battleship was

                                damaged after detonating a mine.

                                Landed casualties and taken in hand for repair work.


July                         Retained for bombardment duties on completion of repair.

                                (Note: Operation NEPTUNE terminated on 24th June.)

                7th          Took passage to beachhead area from Spithead on completion of repairs.

                                (Note: One source states ship carried out bombardments in support of operations in Caen

                                area with HM Battleship RODNEY, HM Monitors EREBUS and ROBERTS, HM

                                Cruisers EMERALD, ARGONAUT and ENTERPRISE on 4th July.)

                8th          Hit by One Man Torpedo (NEGER) and badly damaged.

                                For details of development of submarine weapons see SEEK AND STRIKE by W Hackmann

                                and THE TORPEDOMEN by A Poland).

                                Torpedo exploded on port side between funnels and detonated content of magazine.

                                37 of ships company were killed and several others injured.

                9th          Taken in tow by tugs and beached off Arromanches.

                                Opened fire with AA armament during air attacks in area.

                                Majority of ships company evacuated for return to UK.

                11th        Declared constructive total loss and used as part of artificial harbour.

                16th        Remainder of ship’s company left ship.


Special Note


Following a request from CinC Polish Navy sister ship HM Cruiser DANAE was transferred as a replacement and was renamed ORP CONRAD in October 1944.








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













SL 070





SL 072





SL 073





BM 009A





BM 011





JS 002





SM 002





FTT 006








(Note on Convoys)



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