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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2004

HMS FIJI - Colony-class Light Cruiser  
including Convoy Escort Movements

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Fiji (Navy Photos/Mark Teadham, click to enlarge)

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FIJI or Colony-Class cruiser ordered from John Brown of Clydebank en 20th December 1937 in the 1937 Build Programme. The ship was laid down en 30th March 1938 and launched on 31st May 1939 as the first RN ship to carry the name. She was the first of the Class enter service after completion on 17th May 1940.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


CRETE  1941


H e  r  a  l d  i  c    D a  t a   

Badge :  On a Field Barry Eavy of two White and Blue a native of Fiji

holding a spear Proper.


M o t t o

 Rere raka na haloa ka doka na tui:  'Fear God and honour the King'





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 0


May                        Contractors trials.

                5th          Commissioned for service in Home Fleet.

                17th        Build completion and Acceptance trials.

                                Made good defects and prepared for work-up


June                        Completion of First of Class Trials

                4th          Sailed to work-up in West Indies and visited Martinique.


July                         Work-up and trials in continuation.

                                On completion took return passage to UK.

                1st           Joined 18th Cruiser Squadron in Home Fleet at Scapa Flow.


August                  Deployed on convoy defence and patrol in NW Approaches.

                                Nominated for service in support of French landings at Dakar.

                                (Operation MENACE - For details see RELUCTANT ENEMIES BY W Tute and MENACE

                                by A Marder).

                30th        Detached to join Force M with HM Battleships BARHAM and RESOLUTION, HM Aircraft

                                Carrier ARK ROYAL and HM Cruiser DEVONSHIRE screened by HM Destroyers

                                INGLEFIELD, ECLIPSE, ECHO and ESCAPADE.

                31st         Joined escort for transports with Force M in NW Approaches.



                1st           Hit by torpedo from U32 off Hebrides

                                Escorted to Clyde by HM Destroyer ANTELOPE.

                4th          Taken in hand for repair at Greenock.


October                  Under repair.

to December


1 9 4 1


January                  Post repair trials prior to rejoining Squadron In Home Fleet.

                31st         Prepared for operational service on completion.


February                Joined Squadron at Scapa Flow.

                                Deployed for patrol in NW Approaches to intercept commerce raiders.



March                    Northern Patrol in continuation.

                26th        Deployed with HM Cruiser NIGERIA to intercept commerce raiders attempting to use

                                Denmark Strait for attacks on Atlantic convoys.

                28th        Diverted to join HM Battleship KING GEORGE V and two cruisers for interception of German

                                pocket battleship ADMIRAL SCHEER reported on passage to Atlantic.

                                Search proved unsuccessful.

                30th        Re-deployed with HM Cruiser NIGERIA to join HM Battlecruiser HOOD to cover passage of

                                UK-Gibraltar route convoys against attack by German warships.



                1st           Escorted HM Aircraft Carrier ARGUS on passage to Gibraltar with aircraft for a Malta delivery

                                by HMS ARK ROYAL (Operation WINCH)

                5th          Joined HE ARK ROYAL and W Battlecruiser RENOWN from Force H in Bay of Biscay

                                to search for German battleships SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU following attacks on

                                Atlantic convoys.

                24th        Escorted HIS ARK ROYAL taking aircraft to Gibraltar further Malta delivery.

                                (Operation DUNLOP)


May                        Attached to Force H at Gibraltar pending transfer to 15th Cruiser Squadron based at


                                (Note: Part of a reinforcement of Fleet in eastern Mediterranean.)

                6th          Joined HM Battleship QUEEN ELIZABETH, HM Cruisers NAIAD and GLOUCESTER in

                                Force F for transit to join Fleet based at Alexandria covered by HM Battlecruiser RENOWN,

                                HMS ARK ROYAL, HM Cruiser SHEFFIELD, FAULKNOR, FEARLESS, FORTUNE,

                                FORESIGHT, FORESTER, FURY, HAVELOCK and HARVESTER.

                                (Operation TIGER: This also included escort for convoy taking tanks and aircraft to Middle

                                East covered by ships of Force H. See THE BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by

                                D MacIntyre, ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by Corelli Barnett and the Naval

                                Staff History (HMSO-2002) for details of this operation and reinforcement of Fleet.)

                8th          Passage through Sicilian Narrows with ships of Force F as escort for convoy with six F-Class

                                destroyers from Force H.

                9th          Joined HM Aircraft Carrier FORMIDABLE and 15th Cruiser Squadron off Malta as the escort

                                for TIGER convoy to Alexandria.

                10th        Under air attacks repelled by aircraft from HMS FORMIDABLE and ships AA defences.

                12th        On arrival at Alexandria deployed with Squadron in support of defence of Crete.

                15th        Landed troops of Leicester Regiment at Heraklion.

                                Joined HMS GLOUCESTER, HM Destroyers HAVOCK and HOTSPUR to form Force B.

                16th        Joined HM Battleship QUEEN ELIZABETH with Force B to give cover to destroyers

                                carrying out patrols to intercept invasion craft on passage to Crete.

                21st         Joined HM Cruiser GLOUCESTER, HM Battleships WARSPITE and VALIANT (Force A)

                                for support of HM Cruisers NAIAD, PERTH, CALCUTTA and CARLISLE, HM Destroyers

                                KANDAHAR, KINGSTON and NUBIAN (Force C) attacking invasion craft in Kithera

                                Channel. Under sustained air attack all day.

                22nd       Repelled series of heavy air attacks during withdrawal from Kithera Channel.

                                Detached with HMS GLOUCESTER to provide AA protection to destroyers KANDAHAR

                                and KINGSTON picking up survivors from HM Destroyer GREYHOUND.

                                Subjected to further air attacks during which HMS GLOUCESTER was hit and set on fire.

                                Left area with the two destroyers because of continuing air threat.

                                During passage damaged by near miss from single aircraft causing flooding in the engine room

                                which reduced speed and caused listing.

                                In subsequent attack hit by three bombs which increased list.

                                Rolled over and sank an hour later in position 34.35N, 23.10E.

                                Immediate rescue of survivors by HM Destroyers KANDAHAR and KINGSTON impossible

                                because of continuing acute danger of air attacks.

                                Rafts and boats left for those able to escape by swimming.

                                523 members of ship's company were picked up after nightfall. (Casualty List - note on casualties)

                                (Note: Both cruisers had low stocks of AA ammunition and the judgement to send them to

                                provide defence during rescue is one of the many criticisms made after WW2 in

                                respect of the disastrous operations off Crete in 1941







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 072













(Note on Convoys)



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revised 3/6/11
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