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

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

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

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

FIJI or Colony-Class cruiser ordered from Vickers Armstrong at Barrow under the 1938 Estimates and laid down on 28th April 1939 as Yard No 750.  Launched on 16th November 1940 she was the 6th major warship to carry the name, introduced in 1710 and last borne by a 6th Rate the French Prize PERCANTE taken in 1796 in the West Indies by the 3rd Rate INTREPID. Apart from at trawler hired in 1917 for war service the name had not be in use again until given to this cruiser. All these earlier ships had been deployed for service in the West Indies. Although adopted by the civil community of the city of Bristol after a WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in December 1941 this WW2 veteran developed a strong relationship with the island of Jamaica which she visited during her peacetime service. Build, at a cost of £2,072,211, was completed on 29th June 1942.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


COPENHAGEN 1801 - ARCTIC 1942 - NORTH AFRICA 1942 - NORTH CAPE 1943 - KOREA 1950 *

(* Post WW2 service.)


H e r a l d i c   d a t a

Badge:  On a Field Red, a pineapple Gold.



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 2


June                        Post refit trials and commissioning.

                29th        Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials.

                30th        Passage to Scapa Flow to work-up for operational service.



                1st           Arrived at Scapa Flow to begin work-up with ships of the Home Fleet.


August                  Work-up in continuation with Home Fleet.

                26th        Passage to Rosyth with HM Destroyers OFFA, ECLIPSE and INGLEFIELD to escort HM

                                Battleship HOWE to Scapa Flow.

                                (Note: HMS HOWE had just completed final fit of radar completed storing ready for service at

                                Rosyth where she was to begin work-up.)

                29th        Returned to Scapa Flow with HMS HOWE and escorting destroyers.



                2nd         Deployed to provide cover during minelay by ships of 1st Minelaying Squadron in Northern


                                (Operation SN89 – For details of all minelaying operations see Naval Staff History (Mining).)

                8th          Provided Distant Cover with HM Battleships ANSON and DUKE OF YORK during passage of

                                Russian Convoy PQ18 to Kola Inlet and return Convoy QP14 from North Russia.

                                (Note: Cover was also provided for an operation to support the allied garrison on Spitzbergen

                                Operation GEARBOX and during this phase the ship was deployed with HM Destroyers

                                BRAMHAM, KEPPEL, MACKAY and MONTROSE.. For details of all Russian Convoy

                                operations see CONVOYS TO RUSSIA by RA Ruegg, THE RUSSIAN CONVOYS by

                                B Schoefield, CONVOY ! by P Kemp, ARCTIC CONVOYS by R Woodman.)

                24th        Returned to Scapa Flow with Home Fleet units.


October                  Deployed with 10th Cruiser Squadron, Home Fleet.

                9th          Present at Scapa Flow during visit to Home Fleet by Prime Minister and Sir Stafford Cripps.

                                Took part in exercises including bombardments as part of visits programme.

                                Following visit deployed at Scapa Flow for support of capital ships and patrol in NW


                                Nominated for support of planned allied landings in North Africa as part of Central Naval Task

                                Force (Operation TORCH)

                27th        Passage to Gibraltar with HM Cruiser DELHI, HM Aircraft Carrier ARGUS, HM Escort Aircraft

                                Carriers BITER and DASHER for support of TORCH landings.


November              Prepared for support duties at Gibraltar.

                8th          Deployed with HM Landing Ship (Infantry) LARGS, HMS BITER, HMS DASHER, HM

                                Cruisers AURORA and DELHI for support of landings by 1st US Rangers and 1st Armoured

                                Division at Oran.

                9th          In action with HMS AURORA with Vichy French destroyers TRAMATONE, TORNADE,

                                TYPHON and EPERVIER during which the attempt to interfere with landings was repulsed.

                                EPERVIER was hit, set on fire and driven ashore and TYPHON withdrew after being damaged..

                10th        Bombarded coastal batteries with HM Battleship RODNEY and HMS AURORA which resulted

                                in final surrender at Oran following the bombardment of harbour consequent on failure of the

                                attempt to negotiate future use of Vichy warships.

                                (For details see RELUCTANT ENEMIES by W Tute, ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE

                                CLOSELY by C Barnett and the Naval Staff History)

                14th        Released from TORCH and took passage to resume Home Fleet duties.

                20th        Deployed at Scapa Flow for Squadron service in Home Fleet.

                                (Note: Operational experience had shown that bridge area including radar aerial unit was subject

                                to significant Blast effect from forward armament. Aerial was subsequently re-sited on

                                a foremast platform.)


December              Home Fleet deployment in continuation.

                17th        Deployed with HMS SHEFFIELD, HM Destroyers MUSKETEER and MATCHLESS as Force

                                R for Russian Convoy escort and cover duties.

                19th        Joined escort for Russian Convoy JW51A with HMS SHEFFIELD, HM Destroyers BEAGLE,

                                MATCHLESS and OPPORTUNE.

                24th        Detached from JW51B and took passage to refuel at Murmansk

                25th        At Murmansk with ships of Force R. Anchored in Varenga Bay

                27th        Passage with Force R ships to provide cover for final stage of passage into Kola Inlet of

                                Convoy JW51B.

                31st         Took part in action against German warships, the battleship LUTZOW, cruiser HIPPER and six

                                destroyers with HMS SHEFFIELD which were intending to attack JW51B.

                                Engaged destroyer RICHARD BEITZEN which turned away in poor visibility.

                                Subsequent attack by LUTZOW damaged HMS OBDURATE and a mercantile in JW51B.

                                (For details o the Battle of the Battle of the Barents Sea see 73 NORTH by D Pope and the

                                Naval Staff History.)

                                On release resumed patrol with ships of Force R as cover for passage of return convoy RA51.


1 9 4 3



                1st           Cover for passage to RA51 to Iceland in continuation.

                4th          Arrived at Seidisfjord after relief of Force R cruisers by HMS KENT and HMS BERWICK.

                8th          Passage to Scapa Flow to resume Squadron duties.

                31st         Nominated for detached service for interception of Blockade Runners in Atlantic.


February                Deployed for interception patrols in area of Azores.

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


March                    Released for replacement of gun barrels and took passage to Barrow.

                                Under repair at Vickers Armstrong shipyard in Barrow.


April                       Resumed Squadron duties for Home Fleet interception duties in NW Approaches


May                        Home Fleet deployment at Scapa Flow in continuation.

to                            Nominated for refit at Portsmouth.



July                         Taken in hand for refit by HM Dockyard, Portsmouth.


August                  Under refit.


September             Post refit harbour and sea trials.

                18th        Resumed Squadron duties in Home Fleet.


October                  Home Fleet interception patrol and operations off Norwegian coast in continuation.



                2nd         Deployed with HM Battleship ANSON, HM Aircraft Carrier FORMIDABLE, HM Destroyers

                                ONSLOW and VENUS, US destroyers USS CAPPS and HOBSON, HM Canadian Destroyer

                                HAIDA and Norwegian destroyer STORD to provide Distant Cover for passage of return

                                Convoy RA54A from Kola Inlet to Loch Ewe.

                8th          Resumed Home Fleet duties with Squadron at Scapa Flow.

                19th        Provided Cruiser Cover with HMS KENT and HMS BERMUDA during passage of Russian

                                Convoy JW54A from Loch Ewe to Kola Inlet.

                24th        On release from cover of JW54A resumed Home Fleet Squadron duties.

                27th        Provided Cruiser Cover with HMS KENT and HMS BERMUDA during passage of Russian

                                Convoy JW54 from Loch Ewe to Archangel and return Convoy RA54B from Archangel to

                                Loch Ewe.



                3rd          Released from cover duties and took passage to Scapa Flow to resume Home Fleet service.

                15th        Deployed with HM Battleship DUKE OF YORK, HM Destroyers SAVAGE, SAUMAREZ,

                                SCORPION and Norwegian destroyer STORD to provide Distant Cover during transit of

                                Russian Convoy JW55A during passage from Loch Ewe to Kola Inlet.

                                (Note: Presence of HMS DUKE OF YORK had been decided by the perceived threat of an

                                attempt by German battlecruiser SCHARNHORST to attack a convoy to North


                16th        Passage with HMS DUKE OF YORK and destroyer screen to Murmansk from Kola Inlet for

                                visit by CinC Home Fleet to CinC of Soviet Northern Fleet.

                18th        Sailed from Murmansk to Akureyri, Iceland with same ships.

                21st         Arrived at Akureyri.

                23rd        Sailed with same ships, as Force 2 to provide Distant Cover for passage of Russian Convoy

                                JW55B during passage to Kola Inlet and that of the return convoy RA55A which was on

                                passage from Kola Inlet to UK.

                                (Note: CinC had been convinced following receipt of ULTRA signals about German warship

                                movements that an attack by SCHARNHORST on JW55B was intended.. See above

                                references. Naval Staff History and KING GEORGE V BATTLESHIPS by VE


                24th        Carried out exercises with HMS DUKE OF YORK and destroyers to simulate the procedures

                                intended for use in the event of an attack.

                26th        Took part in sinking of SCHARNHORST with HMS DUKE OF YORK, HM Cruisers

                                BELFAST, SHEFFIELD and Home Fleet destroyers escorting JW55B after the German

                                warship was sighted and engaged by the Home Fleet cruisers supplementing escort.

                                (For details see above references.)

                28th        Took passage from Murmansk to Scapa Flow with HMS DUKE OF YORK and destroyer

                                screen after refuelling.

                                (Note: The 36 survivors from SCHARNHORST returned to UK in HMS DUKE OF


                31st         Arrived at Scapa Flow to tumultuous reception from Home Fleet ships.


1 9 4 4


January                  Passage to Rosyth for repair to battle damage



                20th        Resumed Home Fleet duties at Scapa Flow.

                26th        Deployed with HM Cruiser BERWICK and Polish cruiser ORP DRAGON to provide cruiser

                                cover during passage of Russian Convoy JW57 from UK to Kola Inlet.

                28th        Resumed Squadron duties when cover requirement ended.


March                    Home Fleet deployment in continuation.

                29th        Joined HM Aircraft Carrier FURIOUS, HM Escort Aircraft Carriers EMPEROR,

                                SEARCHER and FENCER, HM Cruisers ROYALIST and SHEFFIELD with destroyer

                                screen and formed Force 2 to provided Distant Cover for passage of Russian Convoy JW58

                                and return Convoy RA58.


                1st           Detached with destroyer screen to join HM Battleship ANSON, HM Aircraft Carrier

                                VICTORIOUS and HM Cruiser BELFAST to supplement Home Fleet units engaged in

                                planned air operations against German battleship TIRPITZ in Altenfjord.

                                (Operation TUNGSTEN).

                3rd          Provided cover for Home Fleet units during TUNGSTEN air attacks from carriers.

                                For details see CONVOY ! by P Kemp. ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY

                                by C Barnett and Naval Staff History..


May                        Home Fleet deployment in continuation including preparatory exercises and bombardments

                                prior to planned allied landings in Normandy (Operation NEPTUNE).


June                        Deployed at Scapa Flow with Home Fleet units to provide Distant Cover of required to

                                support NEPTUNE operations should any enemy surface forces attempt interference via

                                NW Approaches.

                16th        Deployed with HM Destroyer WHELP in support of replenishment operation for allied

                                garrison at Spitzbergen.

                                (Operation GEARBOX Series.)

                25th        On completion of GEARBOX resumed Home Fleet duties at Scapa Flow.



                17th        Provided cover for series of air strikes on TIRPITZ by HM Aircraft Carriers

                                FORMIDABLE, INDEFATIGABLE and FURIOUS with HMS DUKE OF YORK, HM

                                Cruisers KENT and BELLONA (Operation MASCOT – See above references.)



                17th        Deployed as part of escort for Russian Convoy JW59 with HM Escort Aircraft Carriers

                                STRIKER and VINDEX screened by HM Destroyers CAPRICE, MARNE, METEOR,

                                MILNE and MUSKETEER.

                                (Note: The Russian battleship ARCHANGELSK (Ex HMS ROYAL SOVEREIGN on

                                loan to Soviet Northern Fleet) also sailed with this convoy, See CONVOYS TO

                                RUSSIA and CONVOY !)

                28th        Sailed from Kola Inlet as escort for return Convoy RA59A during passage to UK.



                5th          Detached from RA59A with same ships and resumed Home Fleet duties at Scapa Flow.

                15th        Deployed with HM Destroyers ORWELL and OBEDIENT for support of allied garrison

                                at Spitzbergen (Operation GEARBOX Series).


October                  Passage to Portsmouth to prepare for refit.

                16th        Taken in hand by HM Dockyard Portsmouth for refit prior to planned deployment with

                                British Pacific Fleet..

                                (Note: Work undertaken included:

                                Replacement of X Turret by two 2Pdr Pom-Pom mountings.

                                Aircraft Warning, Surface Warning and Fire Control Radar outfits modernised.

                                (Note: For details of development and use of radar in RN see RADAR AT SEA

                                by D Howse

                                Aircraft Homing Beacon fitted.


November              Under refit




1 9 4 5


January                  Under refit

to April


May                        Post refit trials and prepared for Royal visit.



                6th          Embarked HM King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at Portsmouth for visit to Channel

                                Islands, escorted by HM Destroyers FAULKNOR, CAESAR, IMPULSIVE and

                                BRILLIANT. Returned to Portsmouth with escort on completion of visit.

July                         Preparations for foreign service in continuation.


August                  On completion of Shakedown, Weapon Trials and Calibrations in Channel area took

                                passage to Plymouth



P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS JAMAICA sailed from Plymouth to Mediterranean on 28th August 1945 and after working up with ships of the Mediterranean Fleet arrived at Colombo to join the 5th Cruiser Squadron on 5th October that year. She was deployed at Singapore during November. In April 1946 the ship relieved HM Cruiser NORFOLK as Flagship of the 4th Cruiser Squadron and remained on the East Indies Station until November 1947 when she returned to Plymouth. After refit at Devonport she commissioned for service on the America and West Indies Station in late 1949 where she remained until transferred to the Far East in April 1949. Arriving at Hong Kong in May she was deployed at Singapore for support of anti-terrorist operations and Station duties until joining the UN naval Task Group for service in support of military operations in Korea. The ship carried out bombardments of shore installations during which she was hit by return fire and sustained some casualties with only superficial damage.


The ship returned to Singapore for refit in October 1950 and on completion sailed for UK on January 27th 1951 and arrived at Plymouth the next month. Placed in Reserve at Plymouth she later became Flagship of the Reserve Fleet at Portsmouth from May 1953 until November the next year when she refitted at Portsmouth. Recommissioned in 1954 the ship was deployed with the 1st Cruiser Squadron in the Mediterranean until June 1955 when she returned to Chatham for refit after visiting Jamaica. In 1956 after completion of refit this ship rejoined the Squadron in the Mediterranean and took part in the Anglo French operations against Egypt after the seizure of the Suez Canal. She was selected for reduction to Reserve and arrived at Chatham on 16 May 1958. After a visit to Kiel, Scarborough and Sunderland she finally Paid-off on 5 September that year and after reduction to Extended Reserve was laid-up in the Gareloch. Placed on the Disposal List in 1960 this ship was sold to BISCO on 14 November 1960 and arrived at the Breakers yard in Dalmuir for demolition the next month. Breaking-up was completed at Troon by 15 August 1963.







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








PQ 018





QP 014





KMF 001





JW 051A





JW 051B





RA 051





RA 054A





JW 054A





JW 054B





RA 054B





JW 055A





JW 055B





RA 055A





JW 057





JW 059





RA 059A








(Note on Convoys)



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