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

HMS COVENTRY  -   World War 1 C-type Light Cruiser
including Convoy Escort Movements

HMS Coventry (Photo Ships, click to enlarge)

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CERES-Class cruiser built by Swan Hunter at Newcastle up-on Tyne under the  1916 Emergency War Programme and to be named CORSAIR. The ship was laid down in August 1916 but at launch her name was changed to COVENTRY before launch on 7th July 1917. Build was completed on 21st February 1918. She joined the Harwich Force after Acceptance and preparation for operational service including the fit of a flying-off platform for aircraft. After service with Atlantic and Mediterranean Fleets she was selected  in 1935 as the prototype for a new type of anti-aircraft cruiser and converted to the new role in HM Dockyard Portsmouth. In February 1942 after a successful WARSHIP WEEK campaign for National Savings this cruiser was adopted by the civil community of the Borough of Coventry in Warwickshire.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s

QUIBERON  BAY  1759 - TRINCOMALEE  1782 -  SPARTIVENTO  1940 - ATLANTIC  1940 - NORWAY  1940 - GREECE  1941 - CRETE  1941 - LIBYA  1941 - MEDITERRANEAN  1941

 H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge:  On a Field per Pale Red and Green an elephant bearing

a Castle Gold.


M o t t o

Fortis, fert securitatem: - 'The strong carries safety'



S u m m a r y   o f   P r e - War   S e r v i c e


1 9 1 8


                                Deployed with Harwich Force


1 9 1 9


                                Transferred to Atlantic Fleet and joined 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron,


1 9 2 0    t o    1 9 2 3


                                Transferred within Atlantic Fleet and deployed as Flagship of Flag Officer (Destroyers).

                                Atlantic Fleet Flagship deployment in continuation.

                                (Note: During refit in this period flying-off Platform removed.)


1 9 2 4


Transferred to Mediterranean for duty as Flagship, Flag Officer Destroyers.


1 9 2 5    t o    1 9 2 7


                                Mediterranean deployment in continuation.


1 9 2 8


                                Returned to Home waters for refit.


1 9 2 9


                                Under refit.


1 9 3 0


                                Recommissioned for service as Flagship for Flag Officer (D), Mediterranean Fleet


1 9 3 1    t o    1 9 3 4


                                Mediterranean Fleet Flagship service in continuation.


1 9 3 5


                                Nominated for reduction to Reserve status and returned to UK to Pay-off

                                Selected for conversion to Anti-Aircraft Cruiser.

                                Taken in hand for conversion by HM Dockyard, Portsmouth (September)


1 9 3 6


January                  Under conversion

to October



                15th        Commissioned for Trials


December              Carried out First of Class Trials.


1 9 3 7


January                  Additional refit work undertaken including fir of multiple barrelled 2pdr Pom Pom

to February           mountings.


March                    Recommissioned for service as Trials ship.


April                       Deployed for trials of new design equipment including Degaussing gear and 20mm

to December          Close Range Oerlikon guns.


1 9 3 8


                                Trials deployment in continuation.

                                (Note: One source records ships was held in Reserve.)


1 9 3 9


January                  Trials deployment in continuation

to July                    War Station in Mediterranean allocated


August                  Embarked war stores and additional complement.

                                Joined HM Cruisers DANAE and DAUNTLESS for passage to take up

                                War Station.

                                Detached and made independent passage to Gibraltar to join Mediterranean Fleet.



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




                3rd          Arrived at Alexandria and joined Fleet.

                18th        Recalled to Home Waters and took passage to UK.


October                  On arrival at Portsmouth transferred to Humber Force for AA defence of East

                                Coast convoys.

                20th        Arrived at Immingham

                21st         In action against aircraft attacking convoy. Detached from escort after defect in

                                steering gear.

                23rd        Under repair at Immingham.


November              On completion resumed convoy defence.

                10th        During passage steering failed in Pentland Firth in heavy weather.

                11th        Entered Sullom Voe using emergency manual steering.

                12th        Deployed as AA Guardship for Flying Boat base at Sullom Voe.

                                In action against high flying enemy aircraft.

                13th        During low level attack by six HEINKEL aircraft shot down one.

                                (Note: Two SUNDERLANDs were sunk at anchor in Lerwick during this raid).


December              AA Guardship duty at Sullom Voe in continuation.

                25th        Joined by HM Destroyers ICARUS and INGLEFIELD.

                                In action against high flying aircraft.


1 9 4 0



                1st           In action against Dornier aircraft and near missed.

                15th        Released from Guardship duty at Sullom Voe when Army AA batteries operational.

                17th        Arrived Chatham for repair to steering and machinery.


February                Under refit

to                            (Note: Masts altered and aircraft warning radar Type 279 fitted with Plotting Office.

April                       Two after 4in guns (Nos. 6 and 7) removed. Degaussing coil fitted.

                                Became Flagship of Humber Force 1st AA Squadron (CS20).

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


                2nd         Passage to Rosyth for radar and gunnery trials.

                7th          Rejoined Fleet on completion of trials and took passage to Sullom Voe.

                8th          Passage to Norway for AA defence of Fleet units in Norwegian waters.

                                (For details of the disastrous Norwegian campaign see NARVIK by Donald MacIntyre,

                                ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by Corelli Barnett and the Naval Staff History).

                10th        Joined HM Cruiser CALCUTTA, HM Destroyers ZULU, CAMPBELL, WITCH and ISIS

                                escorting two merchant ships and damaged cruiser HMS PENELOPE under tow from


                11th        When detached deployed for patrol and AA Guardship for RESOLUTION and damaged

                                HM Destroyer ESKIMO in Ofot Fjord.

                13th        Under sustained air attacks with heavy expenditure of ammunition.

                                Barrage' firing had to be discontinued.

                14th        Covered HM Cruiser AURORA, HM Destroyers FAME and WREN during Narvik bombardment.

                16th        Embarked troops at Narvik with HM Cruisers CAIRO and EFFINGHAM.

                                Passage to Bodo escorted by HM Destroyers ECHO and MATABELE.

                17th        After HMS EFFINGHAM grounded troops transferred by HMS EFFINGHAM and operation

                                abandoned. Returned to Harstad.

                18th        Replaced CURLEW as AA Guardship at Lavangs after she had been sunk in air attack.

                                One aircraft destroyed by pom-pom fire.

                19th        Guardship duty in continuation. Under sustained attacks. 75 attacks since 11th.

                to            Later transferred to Harstad to relieve HM Cruiser AURORA as AA Guardship.


                27th        Provided naval gunfire support to military operation at Narvik with HM Cruisers

                                SOUTHAMPTON, and five destroyers. Withdrew after HMS CAIRO was

                                in air attacks and returned to Narvik with two destroyers.

                29th        Deployed as AA Guardship for convoy assembly in Ofot Fjord until 4/6/40.


June                        Arrived at Glasgow and detached for passage to Tyne.

                4th          Escorted Group II evacuation convoy from Narvik area with HM Cruiser

                                SOUTHAMPTON, HM Destroyers BEAGLE, DELIGHT, FAME, FIREDRAKE

                                and HAVELOCK during passage to UK,

                                (Note: Convoy included troopships ORONSAY, ORMONDE, ARANDORA STAR,

                                ROYAL ULSTERMAN, ULSTER PRINCE, ULSTER MONARCH,

                                DUCHESS OF YORK, Troopship VANDYCK was sunk by air attack and

                                failed to join convoy.)

                16th        Began refit and docking in Tyne shipyard at Wallsend. Gun barrels replaced..

                30th        Rejoined Home Fleet at Scapa Flow and deployed as AA Guardship.



                6th          Covered HMS SOUTHAMPTON and six Fleet destroyers escorting HM Submarine SHARK

                                from Stavanger area as submarine unable to dive. Under air attacks.

                7th          Escorted damaged destroyer HMS FAME to Rosyth and returned to Scapa Flow.

                                Encountered Dutch mercantile adrift and unmanned in North Sea.

                10th        Escorted ships of 1st Minelaying Squadron for minelay in Northern Barrage.

                                (Operation SN1-For details of all minelaying operations see Naval Staff History).

                                Detached after U-Boat attacks.

                12th        Deployed at Plymouth for convoy defence

                28th        Docking and repair at Devonport prior to transfer to Mediterranean Fleet.


August                  Nominated for service in Mediterranean to supplement available AA defences.

                21st         Joined KM Cruiser BONAVENTURE at Greenock for escort of Atlantic convoy.

                23rd        Detached from convoy and took passage to Gibraltar.

                28th        Embarked troops for passage to Malta.

                30th        Joined W Battleship VALIANT, HM Aircraft Carrier ILLUSTRIOUS and HM AA Cruiser

                                CALCUTTA for transit of Mediterranean to join Fleet at Alexandria, escorted by HM

                                Battlecruiser RENOWN, HM Aircraft Carrier ARK ROYAL and HM Cruiser SHEFFIELD

                                screened by destroyers of Force H to Sicilian Narrows (Operation HATS).



                1st           Landed embarked troops in Malta and joined Mediterranean Fleet. Under air attacks.

                2nd         Detached to escort convoy for Greece in Kithera Channel with HMS CALCUTTA.

                                Sustained air attacks continued.

                3rd          Joined HM Cruisers GLASGOW, LIVERPOOL and SYDNEY (RAN) for passage to


                6th          Transferred to Red Sea Escort Force for AA defence of convoys.

                7th          Sailed from Alexandria for Red Sea convoy escort

                                Joined slow convoy at Port Tewfik as escort for passage to Aden.

                11th        Detached from southbound slow convoy to escort Convoy BS4 on

                                passage to Aden in view of threat of Italian air attacks.

                13th        Detached from BS4 at Aden and took passage to join military convoy

                                WS2A off Perim.

                14th        Deployed with HM Cruiser HOBART (RAN), HM Destroyers

                                KANDAHAR and KINGSTON as escort for Fast Section of WS2A

                                during passage in Red Sea to Suez.

                                (Note: This section comprised troopships ANDES, EMPRESS OF

                                BRITAIN and EMPRESS OF CANADA.)

                16th        Detached from Fast Section of WS2A after air threat no longer likely

                                and took passage to join southbound convoy for AA defence during

                                transit of threatened area.

                19th        Under air attack on arrival at Aden.

                20th        Escorted northbound convoy to Bab el Mandeb.

                26th        Escorted rms EMPRESS OF JAPAN, rms ORION and rms ORONSAY to Port Tewfik.

                27th        Passage to Alexandria through Suez Canal with HM River Gunboat GNAT and rejoined

                                Mediterranean Fleet.



                2nd         Joined HM Aircraft Carrier EAGLE, HM Battleships MALAYA and RAMILLIES with H M

                                Cruiser AJAX and destroyers in unsuccessful search for Italian convoy to Libya.

                8th          Provided AA defence during passage of Malta supply convoy ME6.

                12th        Under air attacks with HMS CALCUTTA off Crete.

                27th        Joined HMS EAGLE, HMS MALAYA and ships of Fleet for offensive sweep in the Eastern


                30th        AA Guardship for passage of HMS AJAX, HM Netlayer PROTECTOR, minesweepers and

                                tankers to Suda Bay, Crete.



                1st           Under low level air attacks at Suda Bay.

                2nd         Passage to Alexandria with HMS AJAX and under air attacks.

                5th          Covered passage of convoy MW3 to Malta and convoy AN6 to Greece with HMS AJAX,

                                HMS CALCUTTA and HMAS SYDNEY.

                7th          Joined Fleet units after HMS CALCUTTA detached with AN6 to Suda Bay.

                10th        Returned to Alexandria with Fleet units covering passage of HM Battleship BARHAM,

                                HM Cruiser BERWICK, HM Cruiser GLASGOW and three destroyers transferred from Home

                                waters (Operation COAT).

                                (For details of all Mediterranean operations in 1940-41 see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE

                                CLOSELY, THE BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by Donald MacIntyre and the Naval

                                Staff History.)

                15th        Escorted Suda Bay convoy and returned on 20/11/40.

                23rd        Escorted Suda Bay convoy and on arrival took passage to Malta.

                27th        Joined Force D (HMS RAMILLIES, HM Cruiser NEWCASTLE and HM Cruiser BERWICK

                                being transferred to Force H. After rendezvous with Force H ships briefly engaged a superior

                                Italian force south of Cape Spartivento which promptly withdrew. Provided additional AA

                                support for passage of HM Cruisers MANCHESTER, SOUTHAMPTON and other

                                ships joining Mediterranean Fleet (Operation COLLAR)

                28th        Returned with Fleet units to Alexandria.



                11th        Provided AA protection for HMS BARHAM and Fleet units during bombardment of Mersa

                                in support of military advance by 8th Army.

                12th        Operation abandoned due to weather (snowstorm !)

                13th        Hit forward by torpedo fired by Italian submarine NAIAD off North African coast.

                                Submarine sunk during counter-attack by HM Destroyer HYPERION. Steamed stem first

                                to Alexandria.

                14th        Under temporary repair at Alexandria.

                27th        During trials new bow structure fell off.

                28th        Docked again and heavier steel structure filled with concrete.


1 9 4 1



                20th        Resumed service with bow down attitude and maximum speed restricted to 23 knots.

                                Escorted ULSTER PRINCE, LANARKSHIRE and CITY OF PRETORIA to Piraeus.

                23rd        Returned with convoy to Alexandria.

                31st         Escorted convoy to Piraeus.



                                Supported military operations at Tobruk (Operation AC1).

                                Escorted HM Monitor TERROR, minesweeping corvettes and petrol carrier.

                17th        Under air attacks on passage to Benghazi.

                19th        Passage to Tobruk with convoy until detached 120 miles east of Malta.

                21st         Escorted convoy to Alexandria.

                27th        Escorted Greek ships on passage to Piraeus.



                1st           Storm conditions off Greek coast forced convoy to scatter.

                                Returned to Alexandria because of possible damage to weaken bow structure.

                5th          Escorted Convoy AN17 with HM Destroyer STUART (RAN), HM Destroyer HEREWARD

                                and HM Corvette HYACINTH during passage to Piraeus (Operation LUSTRE).

                12th        Returned to Alexandria..

                14th        Joined Piraeus convoy off Crete but had to return to Suda Bay because of weather.

                19th        Deployed with HMS CALCUTTA for AA defence of troop convoys to Piraeus.

                                Under air attacks.

                21st         Covered passage of Malta convoy with Fleet units.

                22nd       Detached with HMS CALCUTTA to assist AA defence of Piraeus convoy.

                25th        During refuelling at Suda Bay HM Cruiser YORK attacked by Italian Explosive Motor Boat

                                and seriously damaged.

                26th        Attacked by 24 Ju88's when escorting convoy from Piraeus. 6 aircraft destroyed.

                29th        Escorted Crete and Piraeus convoys until 10/4/41.



                11th        Joined 3 destroyers for escort of fast merchant ship into Aegean Sea.

                                In action with Rumanian manned DORNIER aircraft.

                16th        Escorted storeship GLENGYLE with HM Australian Destroyers WATERHEN, STUART

                                and VOYAGER and for raid by 7 Cdo at Bardia which was cancelled due to sea state

                19th        Deployed for Bardia landing operation which was not a complete success.

                23rd        Detached from escort of two mercantiles with HM Destroyers DIAMOND, GRIFFIN

                                and WRYNECK to provide defence for Convoy ANF29 during allied evacuation from

                                Greece (Operation DEMON).

                25th        Embarked troops at Megara for passage to Suda Bay with HM Destroyers DECOY, HAVOCK

                                and HASTY. Under sustained air attacks.

                26th        Sailed for Suda Bay with same ships plus the destroyers HMS DECOY, VENDETTA (RAN)

                                HMS WATERHEN (RAN) and HMS WRYNECK. During AA action against heavy air

                                attacks 4" shell exploded prematurely killing one PO and injuring other ratings. Use of 4in gun

                                mountings had to be restricted to emergencies only because of barrel wear.

                27th        Escorted Convoy GA14 to Alexandria with HMS CALCUTTA and HMAS STUART.

                29th        Gun barrels replaced.



                6th          Deployed with Fleet units to escort convoy bringing tanks to Middle East.

                9th          Joined close escort for convoy (Operation TIGER).

                16th        Carried 700 troops of Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders to Tintokioun, Crete with

                                HM Sloop AUCKLAND, HMAS VOYAGER and HMAS WATERHEN

                17th        Deployed on patrol in Kaso - Leros area.

                19th        Joined HM Cruisers DIDO and PHOEBE, HM Destroyers JUNO, KANDAHAR and

                                KINGSTON for attacks on invasion craft.

                                Detached with HMS PHOEBE to assist the hospital ship mv ABBA being bombed

                                despite international Red Cross markings.

                20th        Petty Officer A. E. Sephton, Director Control Officer mortally wounded during the

                                defence of ABBA and posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

                21st         Landed wounded at Alexandria.

                22nd       Deployed with HM Sloops AUCKLAND and FLAMINGO to reinforce squadron off

                                Timbakion but recalled.

                26th        Escorted troopship GLENROY taking reinforcements to Timbakion with HMS JAGUAR

                                and HMAS STUART. Ordered to return because air attacks made landing impossible

                                before daylight

                                (For details of Tobruk support operations see LEADER OF THE CROCKS by LE Clifford.

                28th        Deployed with HM Cruisers PHOEBE, PERTH and CALCUTTA, HM Destroyers HASTY,

                                JANUS and JERVIS to evacuate troops from Sphakia.

                29th        Provided AA defence with HMS CALCUTTA against sustained air attacks.

                30th        During return came under heavy air attacks but reached Alexandria unscathed.



                1st           Returned to assist AA defence of Spakhia evacuation convoy with HMS CALCUTTA.

                                Near missed during further air attacks during which HMS CALCUTTA was sunk.

                                Rescued 255 survivors.

                5th          Deployed in support of military operations in Syria and escorted ss GLENGYLE from

                                Port Said for Commando attack on bridge over Litani river to delay retreat of the

                                Vichy French forces (Operation EXPORTER).

                7th          Patrolled off Tyre when landing delayed because of weather. Covered landings later.

                8th          Joined HMS AJAX, HMS PHOEBE, HM Destroyers JACKAL, JANUS, KANDAHAR

                                and KIMBERLEY for patrol and support of shore operations.

                9th          In action against Ju 88 attacking pipe line at Tyre and fighter aircraft at Haifa.

                14th        During patrol escorted by HM Destroyers ILEX and ISIS engaged two Vichy destroyers

                                at long range and followed them to Beirut. Under fire from shore batteries and

                                later drove off air attacks.

                20th        AA Guardship duty at Haifa for 7 days. Periodic air raids during day and night.

                27th        Rest and Recuperation period at Alexandria. Regular night air raids during stay.



                10th        Aircraft mine exploded near ship whilst in harbour without causing damage.

                16th        Resumed operations and escorted convoy to Beirut.

                18th        AA Guardship at Beirut with HMS CARLISLE.



                13th        Returned to Alexandria.

                18th        Escorted HMS BARHAM after Durban refit from Port Said to Alexandria.

                19th        Escorted troopships ILE DE FRANCE, NIEUW AMSTERDAM and ORION to Port Tewfik.

                21st         Deployed to provide AA protection to troops ships during passage from Anchorage

                                area in Gulf of Suez to Port Tewfik. Air raids kept at high level by 4in barrage.

                29th        Relieved as AA Guardship by HMS CARLISLE. Deployed for convoy defence.



                7th          Rescued crew of US freighter sunk 50 miles south of Suez in Red Sea.

                16th        Returned to anchorage area for Guardship duty but had to return to Port Tewfik to

                                carry out repair to radar equipment.

                29th        On completion took passage to anchorage area



                3rd          Escorted two troopships to Suez and during passage through Canal to Alexandria shot

                                down minelaying aircraft.

                8th          Escorted southbound convoy through Red Sea to Aden.

                13th        After refuelling in Aden escorted Norwegian tanker into Aden.

                15th        Passage to Bombay with Greek destroyer

                19th        Began refit at Bombay.


November              Under refit. Boilers re-tubed and new Bows fitted.

to December


1 9 4 2


January                  Under refit.

to April


May                        On completion embarked gold bullion and took passage to Alexandria.

                                Off loaded gold for oil sheik into dhow off Jiddah and called at Port Sudan.


June                        After arrival in Alexandria two 20mm Oerlikon guns fitted.

                11th        Escorted convoy to Tobruk with three destroyers as diversion for Malta relief convoy.

                                (Operation VIGOROUS - For details of this ill fated attempt which was very poorly

                                controlled from shore, see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY and THE BATTLE

                                FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN and Naval Staff History).

                12th        Detached to join Fleet units escorting VIGOROUS convoy).

                13th        Covered convoy passage with ships of 4th and 15th Cruiser Squadrons, escorted by

                                Fleet destroyers.

                14th        Under heavy air attacks by high level and dive bombers during daylight.

                                HMS NEWCASTLE was damaged and HMS HASTY had to be sunk after E- Boat and

                                U-Boat attacks.

                15th        Under threat from superior Italian forces and continuing air attacks convoy.

                                Instructed to return to Alexandria and operation abandoned.

                17th        Resumed AA Guardship duties in Gulf of Suez and deployed at Abu Zenima.


July                         Escorted HM Battleship QUEEN ELIZABETH for part of Red Sea transit on

                                passage to refit in USA.

                                On completion resumed AA defence duties off Syria.


August                  AA Guardship at Haifa. Detached to join Mediterranean Fleet units in diversionary

                                sweep during passage of PEDESTAL convoy from Gibraltar.

                                On completion returned to Guardship duty in Gulf of Suez.

                                (See ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY, PEDESTAL BY P. Smith THE

                                BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by D MacIntyre and The Naval Staff History.



                3rd          Returned to Alexandria to prepare for assault on Tobruk. Owing to poor security

                                enemy defences were forewarned of the planned attack (Operation AGREEMENT).

                12th        Passage with HM Destroyers BELVOIR, CROOME, DULVERTON and HURSLEY

                                to provide AA cover during Tobruk raid

                13th        Joined HM Destroyers ALDENHAM, BEAUFORT, EXMOOR, HURWORTH, SIKH

                                and ZULU.

                                Under dive bomber attacks after attempt by HMS SIKH and HMS ZULU to enter port.

                                After sinking of HMS SIKH and damage to HMS ZULU the remaining ships became

                                prime targets. Two aircraft were destroyed and 5 by RAF Beaufighters.

                                Sustained four direct bomb hits that gave little opportunity to take effective damage

                                control action.

                                Ship had to be abandoned but HMS BEAUFORT was able to close ship forward to

                                embark survivors and HMS DULVERTON rescued men in the water.

                                (Casualty List - note on casualties)

                                (For details of war service and loss see HMS COVENTRY ANTI-AIRCRAFT CRUISER

                                by George Slums - Privately published 1972).







by Don Kindell






Date convoy sailed

Joined convoy as escort

Convoy No.

Left convoy

Date convoy arrived








WS 002A





OA 213





BS 004C





AP 001/1





AP 002/1





BN 005A





MF 003





MF 004





MW 003





ME 003





MW 004





AN 013





AS 013/1





AS 017/1





AS 020/1





AN 021





AN 022





ASF 023





WN 179





WN 185





WN 191





MW 011








(Note on Convoys)



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