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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2007

HMS NEWCASTLE -  Town-type Light Cruiser
including Convoy Escort Movements

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

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

SOUTHAMPTON-Class cruiser ordered from Vickers Armstrong of Newcastle on Tyne on 1st  June 1934 and first of Class to be laid down on 4th October that year. Intended to be named MINOTAUR this  name was changed before launch on 23rd January 1936 as the seventh Royal Navy ship to bear the new name. Build was completed on 5th March 1937. Following a successful  WARSHIP WEEK campaign in March 1942 she was adopted by the civil community of the city whose name she carries.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


PORTO FARINA 1635 - SANTA CRUZ 1657 - LOWESTOFT  1665 - ORFORDNESS 1666 - SCHOONEVELD 1673 - TEXEL 1673 - SMYRNA  CONVOY 1693 - MARBELLA  1705 - SADRAS  1758 - NEGAPATAM 1758 - PORTO NOVO  1759 - SPARTIVENTO  1940 - BURMA  1944 -45 - KOREA 1952-53


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge:  On a Field Red a triple towered Castle Silver.

                                                                    (Note:  Derived from the arms of the city.)


M o t t o

Fortutudine Vinco:  'By strength I conquer'



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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                7th          Completed refit at HM Dockyard Devonport and sailed for Scapa Flow to work-up

                                on 12th September.

                12th        Worked up at Scapa Flow for service in Home Fleet.

                15th        Joined 18th Cruiser Squadron.

                25th        Deployed with Home Fleet to covered return of damaged submarine HMS

                SPEARFISH from Horns Reef with HM Battleship NELSON, HM Battlecruisers

                HOOD and RENOWN, HM Aircraft Carrier ARK ROYAL, HM Cruisers

                EDINBURGH and NORFOLK screened by Home Fleet destroyers.



                1st           Transferred to Loch Ewe with Home Fleet after loss of HM Battleship ROYAL

                                OAK by U-boat attack at Scope Flow.

                8th          Searched with HM Battleships NELSON and RODNEY for German cruiser

                                KOLN and battleship GNEISENAU which had been reported in North Sea.

                12th        Covered passage of convoy of 19 oil tankers with HM Cruiser GLASGOW.

                21st         Joined convoy and remained as escort.

                25th        Detached from convoy off Lands End.



                12th        During patrol in Denmark Strait intercepted German freighter PARANA which was

                set on fire and scuttled by crew. Boat with survivors attempting to reach Iceland

                was captured.

                17th        Returned to Northern Patrol for interception duty.

                23rd        Sighted German battleships SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU rescuing survivors

                from HM Armed Merchant Cruiser RAWALPINDI which they had sunk

                Closed to a range of 6½ miles before losing contact.

                Joined HM Cruiser DELHI and continued the search without success due to poor visibility

                and rain showers.

                28th        Returned to Scapa Flow.


December              Carried out two patrols in North Sea.


1 9 4 0


January                  Deployed on interception patrol in northern Atlantic.

                9th          Sank wreck of German ship BAHIA BLANCA in Denmark Strait during patrol.

                14th        Deployed with HM Cruiser MANCHESTER, HM Destroyers MAORI, INGLEFIELD, ICARUS


                unsuccessful search for German blockade runner TRAUTENFELS on passage in North Sea.

                23rd        Withdrawn for repair of an accumulation of defects which rendered ship below the

                                standard of fighting efficiency needed for Fleet duties.


February                Not deployed operationally. Repair arranged.



                26th        Under repair in Tyne shipyard.


April                       Under repair.



                29th        Carried out post repair trials on completion of dockyard work.



                3rd          Rejoined Home Fleet.

                5th          Escorted HM Battlecruisers RENOWN and REPULSE with HM Cruiser SUSSEX

                                screened by five Home Fleet destroyers during fruitless search for German battleships

                                SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU in Iceland - Faeroes Gap.

                10th        Escorted evacuation convoy from Harstad arriving in Scapa Flow on 11th June.



                7th          Transferred to Plymouth for anti-invasion duties.

                19th        Docking at Devonport till 21/7/40


August                  Deployed in SW Approaches on anti-invasion patrol.



                27th        Docking at Devonport.



                1st           Resumed operational duties.

                11th        Deployed with HM Battleship REVENGE, screened by HM Destroyers JAVELIN, JUPITER,

                KELVIN, KIPLING, JACKAL, JAGUAR and KASHMIR for bombardment of Cherbourg.

                (Operation MEDIUM) 150 rounds of 15in shells were fired on harbour installations.

                HM Cruiser EMERALD provided Target illumination screened by HM Destroyers

                WANDERER, BROKE, Polish destroyers, ORP BURZA and ORP GARLAND

                Five motor gunboats also deployed for defence against E-Boat attacks.

                17th        During patrol between Scillies and Ushant with HM Cruiser EMERALD screened

                by five Fleet destroyers engaged 4 German destroyers off Lands End at range of

                18,000 yards but unable to close because of enemy speed and withdrew.

                Sustained structural damage from blast effects from forward gun mountings.

                23rd        Under repair at Devonport.

                27th        Resumed operational duty.


November              Nominated for transfer to Mediterranean Fleet based at Alexandria.

                1st           Sailed from Plymouth with HM Cruiser NIGERIA screened by HM Destroyers JERSEY,

                                JACKAL, JAGUAR, JUPITER and KASHMIR to intercept German destroyers reported on

                                passage from Brest in Channel.

                2nd         Returned to Plymouth after unsuccessful operations

                                (Note: German destroyers had returned to Brest.)

                6th          Docking at Devonport.

                8th          Resumed operational duty.

                9th          Embarked 200 RAF personnel and stores at Plymouth for passage to Malta.

                11th        At Gibraltar

                13th        Passage to Malta

                19th        Arrived in Malta

                24th        Under boiler repair at Malta

                26th        Sailed from Malta with HM Battleship RAMILLIES, HM Cruisers BERWICK and COVENTRY

                screened by HM Destroyers DEFENDER, DIAMOND, GALLANT, GREYHOUND and

                HEREWARD deployed as Force D to provide cover for transit of military convoy carrying troops

                to Alexandria (Operation COLLAR)

                27th        After Force D met ships of Force B providing cover for COLLAR convoy during passage in

                western Mediterranean took part in brief engagement at long range with Italian surface force

                including two battleships and seven cruisers with destroyer screen.

                Enemy force withdrew and not followed in order to ensure save passage of convoy.

                (Battle of Cape Spartivento – For details see Naval Staff History, HMS0-2001), THE BATTLE

                FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by D Macintyre, HMS SHEFFIELD by R Bassett and THE NAVAL

                WAR IN THE MEDITERRANEAN by J Greene and A Massignani )

                (Note: The conduct of this action was criticised by the Prime Minister, but at the subsequent Board

                of Inquiry, the Admiral’s action was not considered inappropriate.

                28th        Passage to Gibraltar with Force H ships HM Battlecruiser RENOWN, HM Battleship

                                RAMILLIES, HM Cruisers SHEFFIELD, DESPATCH and destroyer screen.

                29th        Arrived at Gibraltar with ships of Force H



                1st           Transferred to South Atlantic Command as Flagship for ships deployed for interception of blockade

                                runners and commerce raiders.

                7th          Joined HM Cruisers CUMBERLAND and ENTERPRISE in search for German raider

                THOR after the Armed Merchant Cruiser CARNARVON CASTLE had been damaged

                in action with the enemy ship off Rio de Janeiro

                18th        Took part in further search for German battleship ADMIRAL SCHEER with HMS

                                CUMBERLAND and HMS ENTERPRISE between Rio de Janeiro and the Plate estuary.


1 9 4 1


January                  Deployed in South Atlantic for convoy defence and interception duties.

to                            (Note: Type 286M Radar to provide limited warning against aircraft and surface targets was fitted

March                    by this period. This equipment was an RAF Air-Surface Warning (ASV) outfit modified for

                                ship use.)


April                       Atlantic deployment in continuation.

                15th        Joined Military convoy WS7 during passage from Freetown to Cape of Good Hope and

                                relieved HM Battleship NELSON as Ocean Escort.

                16th        Remained with convoy on arrival off Cape Town and continued deployment as Ocean Escort during

                                passage to Durban.

                19th        Detached on arrival at Durban and look passage to Simonstown for docking and refit.



                16th        On completion resumed interception duties.


June                        Deployed in South Atlantic on trade protection and interception.



                23rd        Intercepted German freighter ERLANGEN off Plate estuary.


August                  Nominated for refit at Boston, USA

                7th          Passage to USA from Rio de Janeiro via Freetown.



                20th        Taken in hand for refit at Boston Navy Yard.

                (Note: Work carried out included replacement of machine guns by nine single 20mm Oerlikon

                guns and preparation for fit of British design radar equipment.)


October                  Under refit.

to                            (Note: Radar Type 286M was replaced by an Type 290 an RN designed outfit.)



December              On completion prepared for passage to UK

                29th        Arrived at Plymouth.


1 9 4 2


January                  Docking and completion of installation work not possible in USA, including

                                new design surface and air warning radars (Types 273, Type 291 and fire-control radar Type 285).

                25th        Transferred to 4th Cruiser Squadron, Eastern Fleet for convoy defence and interception duties.



                21st         Joined military convoy WS16 during passage in Atlantic from Clyde and relieved HM

                Battleship MALAYA, HM Aircraft Carrier EAGLE and screen of eight Home Fleet

                destroyers as Ocean Escort during passage to Freetown.

                (Note: These other ships detached for Gibraltar.)



                1st           WS16 arrived at Freetown.

                6th          Deployed as Ocean Escort for WS 16 on departure from Freetown for Cape Town.

                17th        WS16 arrived at Cape Town.

                22nd       Deployed as Ocean Escort for WS 16 for passage to Durban from Cape Town.

                25th        Detached from WS16 when relieved by HM Cruiser GLASGOW and HM Armed

                Merchant Cruiser WORCESTERSHIRE as Ocean Escort.

                Joined 4th Cruiser Squadron and deployed for trade defence in Indian Ocean.


April                       Indian Ocean deployment in continuation.

                (Note: No recorded can be found as taking part in Eastern Fleet operations following

                the attacks on Ceylon and the losses of HM Cruiser DORSETSHIRE and HM

                Aircraft Carrier HERMES. This ship was the only modern cruiser to be available

                as HMS BIRMINGHAM was in dock at Simonstown and HMS GLASGOW on

                passage for repair in the USA.


May                        Deployed in Indian Ocean for convoy defence.

                10th        Arrived at Kilindini.

                Detached from Eastern Fleet for service in Mediterranean.

                (Note: Reinforcement of Mediterranean Fleet was essential to replace ships lost and damaged

                in defence of evacuations in Greece and Crete.)

                27th        Passage to Alexandria with HMS BIRMINGHAM, HM Destroyers FORTUNE and

                                GRIFFIN to reinforce Fleet in Mediterranean for planned Malta relief operation.


June                        Passage in Red Sea.

                13th        Deployed with HM Cruisers, BIRMINGHAM, CLEOPATRA, DIDO, EURYALUS,

                HERMIONE and AURORA to escort Malta supply convoy (MW11}, screened by

                Fleet destroyers (Operation VIGOROUS)

                14th        Under sustained air attacks and warned of threat from superior Italian force.

                15th        Damaged by torpedo from German E-Boat S56 in position 90 miles NW of Derna.

                The explosion blew a hole 30 feet diameter in starboard side with serious

                damage to structure and machinery. Forward turret was put out of action but no casualties caused.

                (Note: Details of the disastrous circumstances relating to conflicting orders and

                hesitation in directives from shore which lead to failure of this operation

                are available in ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by C. Barnett,

                THE BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by D. MacIntyre and

                MALTA CONVOYS by R Woodman.)

                20th        Under temporary repair to allow passage at reduced speed.

                Permanent repair arranged at Simonstown

                Passage to Aden.

                25th        Sailed from Aden screened by HM Destroyers FORTUNE and GRIFFIN.

                27th        Sustained serious weather damage including loss of temporary plating fitted over hole.

                An attempt to steam stern first was not possible and further passage to Cape of Good Hope

                was abandoned.

                Took return passage to Aden



                1st           Arrive at Aden for temporary repair.

                Completion of repair arranged at Bombay

                On completion took passage to Bombay.

                30th        Arrived at Bombay for temporary repair.


August                  Hole plated over and new frames fitted to enable safe passage to USA

                                (Note: Permanent repair arranged in US Navy dockyard.)



                7th          Took passage to USA via Mauritius, Capetown, Pernambuco and Bermuda.


October                  Passage in Atlantic             

                11th        Under refit and repair at Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York.

                (Note: In addition to repair of damage work included preparation for fit of British Radar equipment

                These were Type 281 for Long Range aircraft warning, Type 284 for main armament fire-

                control and an additional Type 285 for secondary armament fire-control.).



                21st         On completion of shipyard work carried out trials locally.

                                Prepared for Atlantic passage.


December              Passage to Plymouth

                18th        Arrived at Plymouth           

                21st         Taken in hand by HM Dockyard, Devonport for docking and completion or installation of British

                designed radar outfits.

                (Note: Additional 20mm Oerlikon guns were fitted to improve close range AA Defence

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


1 9 4 3


January                  Refit completion in hand at HM Dockyard Devonport.

to                            Nominated for service in Eastern Fleet.




                30th        On completion took passage to Join Home Fleet for work-up.



                2nd         Worked-up at Scapa Flow with ships of Home Fleet.

                Nominated for Ocean escort of military convoy from UK

                to Indian Ocean whilst on passage to join Eastern Fleet.

                6th          Joined Joint Convoy WS29/KMF15 in Clyde with HM Destroyer RAPID as Ocean Escort.

                20th        Remained with WS29 when KMF15 detached to take passage to Gibraltar.

                28th        Arrived at Freetown with WS29,



                6th          Sailed from Freetown with HM Destroyers as Ocean Escort for WS29 during passage to Cape Town.

                18th        Detached from WS29 on arrival at Cape Town and took passage for deployment in Indian Ocean for

                                trade defence and convoy escort as Flagship, 4th Cruiser Squadron, Eastern Fleet.


June                        Indian Ocean deployment in continuation.

                Nominated to carry out search for the German Supply Ship CHARLOTTE SCHLIEMANN known

                to be on passage from Soerabaya to support U-Boats operating in Indian Ocean.

                24th        Deployed with HM Cruiser SUFFOLK, HM Destroyers NIZAM, RACEHORSE and RELENTLESS

                south of Madagascar in conjunction with aircraft.

                (Operation PLAYER - This was activated following decryption of ENIGMA signal traffic was a

                breach of normal procedures.)

                30th        Search abandoned after no sighting


July         Resumed Indian Ocean trade defence and convoy escort duties.


August                  On release took passage to Simonstown for refit and docking.

                26th        Taken in hand by HM Dockyard, Simonstown.


September             On completion of post refit trials rejoined Eastern Fleet for convoy defence

                                in Indian Ocean based in Ceylon.


October                  Indian Ocean trade defence and interception duties in continuation.




1 9 4 4


January                  Indian Ocean deployment in continuation.

                Diverted to take passage to Mauritius for deployment as Force 62 with HM Cruiser

                SUFFOLK, HM Frigate BANN in renewed search for U-Boat Supply Ship CHARLOTTE

                SCHLIEMANN in conjunction with aircraft sent to Mauritius from East Africa

.               (Operation THWART.)

                19th        Sailed from Mauritius with HMS BATTLER to carry out a search 900 miles south

                                east of the island.

                21st         Returned to Mauritius with same ships.

                24th        HMS SUFFOLK and HMS BANN joined Force 62.

                30th        Search abandoned after lack of any sighting.

                (Note: Forces 63 (HM Armed Merchant Cruiser CANTON and Force 64 (HM Cruiser

                KENYA and HM Destroyer NEPAL (RAN) were also deployed in THWART.)


February                Resumed Squadron deployment in Indian Ocean.

                (Note. CHARLOTTE SCHLIEMANN was intercepted and sunk by HM Destroyer

                RELENTLESS on 12th February.)


March                    Deployed at Mauritius

                5th          Sailed from Mauritius with HM Cruisers NEWCASTLE, HMS BATTLER screened by

                HM Destroyers QUADRANT as Force 67 in search for U-Boat supply tanker BRAKE

                SW of Cocos Islands.

                12th        Tanker sighted by aircraft from HMS BATTLER and scuttled after approach by

                HMS ROEBUCK.

                (Note: HMS ROEBUCK had joined Force 67 from Force 58 on 6th March.

                See WAR WITH JAPAN Vol iv (HMSO).)



                16th        Joined Task Force 69 in Eastern Fleet. Escorted HM Battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH

                and VALIANT, French battleship RICHELIEU with British cruisers HMS NIGERIA,

                HMS CEYLON, HMS GAMBIA and Dutch Cruiser TROMP to cover air attacks on Sabang

                by Task Force 70, the aircraft carriers HMS ILLUSTRIOUS and USS SARATOGA.

                (Operation COCKPIT).

                21st         Returned to Trincomalee.



                6th.         Escorted HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, HMS VALIANT and FS RICHELIEU with HM Cruiser

                NIGERIA and Dutch cruiser TROMP (TF65) to cover air attacks on Soerabya by

                HMS ILLUSTRIOUS and USS SARATOGA (Operation TRANSOM).

                15th        Replenished in Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia.

                17th        Provided cover during attacks on Japanese bases at Soerabaya.

                27th        Returned with TF 65 to Trincomalee.


June                        Passage to Simonstown for refit.


July                         Under refit in HM Dockyard.





                7th          Began post refit sea trials and took passage for Ceylon on completion.



                10th        Rejoined Eastern Fleet.



                17th        Escorted HM Aircraft Carriers INDOMITABLE and ILLUSTRIOUS with HM Cruisers

                ARGONAUT and BLACK PRINCE for air attacks on targets at Pangkalan Brandan.

                (Operation OUTFLANK).

                20th        Provided cover during attacks launched on new targets at Begawan Deli and

                                airfields near Sabang which were changed because of weather.



                17th        Escorted HMS INDOMITABLE and HMS ILLUSTRIOUS with HMS BLACK

                PRINCE and HMS ARGONAUT during carrier raid on targets at Belawan Deli as

                Force 67 (Operation ROBSON).


1 9 4 5



                2nd         Part of covering Eastern Fleet force during landings on Akyab Peninsula as

                                Task Force 61 with HM Cruisers NIGERIA and PHOEBE (Operation LIGHTNING).

                24th        Embarked Royal Marines for landing on Cheduba Island, Burma.

                26th        Deployed with HMS NIGERIA, HMS KENYA, HM Destroyers PALADIN and

                RAPID as Task Force 65.

                Landed Royal Marines Commando unit on Cheduba Island, south of Ramree

                (Operation SANKEY).

                31st         Re-embarked RM's and bombarded west coast of Ramree Island.

                (For details of operations in Indian Ocean area including the East Indies see

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


February                Deployed on convoy defence in Indian Ocean.




April                       Sailed from Fremantle for UK.



                23rd        Arrived at Devonport.


June                        Under refit in Tyne shipyard




September             Transferred to HM Dockyard Rosyth for completion.

                5th          Passage from Tyne to Rosyth for completion.


P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS NEWCASTLE re-commissioned after refit work completed and was deployed for trooping duties to return servicemen from the Far East. She went to the Mediterranean as Flagship of 1st Cruiser Squadron in 1948 and then was selected for modernisation. In 1952 she went to the Far East  to take part in  United Nations operations in Korea.. The ship returned to UK via Panama to re-commission for Foreign service and continued deployment in the Far East during which she attended the Olympic Games in Sydney during November 1956. Her final commission as the Flagship of the 2nd in Command, Far East included detached service in the Persian Gulf and a visit to Rangoon. Selected for reduction to Reserve status she again returned to UK via Panama and Paid-off at Portsmouth in September 1958. The ship was placed on the Disposal List in 1959 and sold to be BISCO for breaking up at Faslane. She arrived at the breaker’s yard on 19th August 1959.






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








KJ 003





CF 002A





CF 002B





MW 011





US 021








(Note on Convoys)



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