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

HMS PHOEBE - Dido-class AA Cruiser  
including Convoy Escort Movements

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Dido, sister-ship (Navy Photos, click to enlarge)

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DIDO-Class cruiser ordered from The Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company on 21st March 1937 under the 1936 Programme. The ship was laid down on 2nd September 1937 and launched on 25th March 1939 as the 7th ship to carry the name which dates from 1795. She was completed in Sept 1940. After a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign she was adopted by the civil community of Bournemouth, then in the county of Hampshire.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s 

TRAFALGAR 1805 - MAURITIUS 1810 -  JAVA 1811 - BENIN 1897 - BELGIAN COAST 1917-18 - ZEEBRUGGE 1918 - GREECE 1941- CRETE 1941 -  MALTA CONVOYS 1942 - AEGEAN 1943 - MEDITERRANEAN 1943 - SABANG 1944 - BURMA 1944-45

H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge:  On a Field Blue, over waves in base White and Blue, the moon proper.



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


September             Contractors trials

                30th        Build completion and commenced acceptance trials



                4th          On completion of trials and storing took passage to Scapa Flow to work-up

                                with ships of Home Fleet.

                                Nominated for duty with Home Fleet in NW Approaches on completion of work-up.


November              Deployed with HM Battlecruisers HOOD, RENOWN, REPULSE, HM Cruisers DIDO arid

                                NAIAD in Bay at Biscay to block entry by German pocket battleship SCHEER after attacks on

                                Atlantic convoys and loss of HM Armed Merchant Cruiser JERVIS BAY.

                                (For details see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by Corelli Barnett).


December              Transferred to Mediterranean

                6th          Routine docking at Clyde shipyard.

                11th        Rejoined Home Fleet.

                                Detailed for escort of military convoy WS5B with HM Battleship RAMILLIES,

                                HM Cruisers AUSTRALIA (RAN) arid NAIAD during passage to Alexandria.


1 9 4 1



                12th        Joined military convoy WS5B in Clyde as part of Ocean Escort during passage in NW

                                Approaches with HM Battleship RAMILLIES, HM Cruisers AUSTRALIA (RAN), NAIAD

                                and EMERALD

.               15th        Detached from WS5B to continue working-up for operational service and for Atlantic convoy




                18th        Joined military convoy WS6A in Clyde as Ocean Escort with HM Cruiser BIRMINGHAM

                                and HM Armed Merchant Cruiser CATHAY during passage to Freetown.

                                (Note: HM Battlecruiser RENOWN, HM Aircraft Carrier ARK ROYAL, HM Battleships

                                RODNEY and MALAYA also provided cover at different times during passage.)



                1st           At Freetown with WS6A.

                8th          Sailed from Freetown with joint military convoy WS6A and WS6B as Ocean Escort during

                                passage to Cape of Good Hope with HMS BIRMINGHAM and HMS CATHAY

                21st         Detached from convoy with four mercantiles as escort for passage into Capetown.

                22nd       Sailed from Capetown as escort for same ships during passage to Durban.

                28th        Detached from mercantiles on arrival at Durban and took independent passage to Suez

                                via Aden.


April                       Joined 7th Cruiser Squadron, Mediterranean Fleet.

                18th        Joined Convoy ME7 with HM Cruiser CALCUTTA covered by HM Battleships

                                WARSPITE, BARHAM, VALIANT and HM Aircraft Carrier FORMIDABLE.

                                as escort during passage to Malta from Alexandria.

                21st         Took part in bombardment of Tripoli with HM Battleships WARSPITE, BARHAM

                                VALIANT, HM Cruisers CALCUTTA and GLOUCESTER

                                (Operation MD2 - For details see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY, THE

                                BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN and The Naval Staff History).

                23rd        Detached with HMS CALCUTTA, HM Destroyers VOYAGER and STUART (RAN)

                                for escort of Convoy AG13 to coast of Greece to begin evacuation of allied troops

                                To be based at Suda Bay during evacuation.

                                (Operation DEMON - See above references and Naval Staff History).

                24th        Patrolled in Kithera Channel with HM Cruiser PERTH (RAN) and supported the

                                passage of convoy AG13

                                Deployed at Nauphlia with HMAS STUART and HMAS VOYAGER.

                                (Note 2,500 troops were embarked.)

                25th        At Nauphlia with HM Cruisers AJAX, ORION and PERTH (RAN) for evacuation

                27th        Covered passage of Convoy GA14 taking troops from Nauphlia with HM Destroyers

                                DECOY and HASTY during passage south of Crete.

                28th        Took part in evacuation of 7,000 troops from Kalamata with HMS PERTH which could not be

                                completed due to enemy capture of area.

                29th        Deployed with HMAS PERTH, HMS CARLISLE and HM sloop AUCKLAND to cover

                                passage of evacuation convoy GA15.

                30th        Relieved by m Battleships BARHAM, VALIANT and HM Aircraft Carrier FORMIDABLE.



                6th          Deployed for escort of two convoys to Malta with HM Cruisers DIDO, CALCUTTA,

                                CARLISLE and COVENTRY screened by three destroyers.

                9th          Joined Fleet units covering passage of convoy carrying tanks to Middle East.

                                (Operation TIGER - See ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY).

                12th        Deployed en defence of military convoys to Crete.

                14th        During cover of convoy with HM Cruiser NAIAD, HM destroyers GREYHOUND and

                                HASTY as Force D.

                                Developed defect and returned to Alexandria after being relieved by HMAS PERTH.

                18th        After repair deployed on patrol off Crete with HM Cruiser DIDO and three destroyers.

                                Assisted HMS COVENTRY in defence of Hospital Ship ABBA against air attacks.

                                (See ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY and Naval Staff History)

                19th        Deployment for patrol and Interception of invasion convoys In continuation.

                30th        Assisted Sphakia evacuation with HM Cruisers PERTH, COVENTRY, CALCUTTA and HM

                                Store Ship GLENGYLE as Force D.

                                (See THE BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by D Macintyre).

                31st         Took part in final evacuation at Sphakia with HM Cruisers ABDIEL and COVENTRY,

                                HM Destroyers KIMBERLEY, HOTSPUR and JACKAL.



                1st           Sailed overnight and in action against aircraft with HM Destroyer ISIS during the return passage

                                to Alexandria.

                                (Note: HM Cruiser CALCUTTA was lost after air attacks during this passage.

                                See Naval Staff History for details of evacuation operations which were carried out

                                under incessant air attack.

                8th          Deployed with HM Cruisers AJAX, COVENTRY and HMS GLENGYLE in support of military

                                operations in Syria against Vichy French (Operation EXPORTER).

                                (For details see RELUCTANT ENEMIES by W Tute).

                9th          Covered landings near Litania and bombarded Australian troops in error.

                                Attack by Vichy submarine failed.

                15th        Deployed with HM Cruisers LEANDER and COVENTRY screened by three destroyers in a

                                search for Vichy French convoys north of Beirut

                19th        On relief by HM Cruiser NAIAD returned to Alexandria.


July                         Nominated for support of garrison at Tobruk.

                3rd          Unsuccessfully attacked by Italian submarine MALACHITE in Eastern Mediterranean.


August                  Deployed for Tobruk support and embarked stores and personal for passage.

                                Covered passage of HM Cruisers ABDIEL and LATONA taking troops to Tobruk for the

                                replacement of the Australian Brigade.

                27th        Damaged by torpedo during Italian air attack off Bardia whilst engaged in Tobruk support duty.

                                Hit on starboard side forward with major underwater damage which caused flooding of some




                1st           Under temporary repair in Alexandria.

                                Arrangements made for permanent repair in USA


October                  Took passage to New York.


November              On passage.

                21st         Taken in hand for repair at Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York.

                                (Note: Work done during refit included replacement of 4in mounting forward by Quadruple

                                40mm mounting in order to reduce top-weight and increase of 20mm AA armament.


December              Under repair


1 9 4 2


January                  Under repair




April                       Post Refit trials.

                27th        Took passage to Plymouth.


May                        On arrival taken in hand by HM Dockyard Devonport for completion of work on Alterations and

                                Additions (A and A's) which could not be completed in USA.

                                (Note: This included British radar equipment.)


June                        On completion of dockyard work and trials preparation for operational service.


July                         Rejoined Fleet and deployed for convoy defence in Atlantic after further repair

                                period at Scapa flow.

                                Escorted convoy to Freetown.

August                  Passage to Gibraltar with HM Aircraft Carrier INDOMITABLE.

                5th          During passage joined HM Aircraft Carrier EAGLE, VICTORIOUS, FURIOUS ARGUS,

                                HM Cruisers CHARYBDIS and SIRIUS for exercises in fighter direction and operation

                                of several aircraft carriers together in preparation for defence of a Malta relief convoy.

                                (Exercise BERSERK - See RADAR AT SEA. by D House)

                9th          Joined escort for Malta convoy WS21S off Gibraltar.

                10th        Deployed in Force 2 covering passage of convoy to Skerki Channel with HM Battleships

                                NELSON, RODNEY, HM Aircraft Carriers VICTORIOUS, INDOMITABLE and EAGLE.

                                HM Cruisers SIRIUS and CHARYBDIS.

                                (Operation PEDESTAL - See PEDESTAL by P. Smith, THE BATTLE FOR THE

                                MEDITERRANEAN by D MacIntyre, ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY

                                by C. Barnett, MALTA CONVOYS by R Woodman and Naval Staff History)

                20th        Passage from Gibraltar to Freetown with HM Cruiser SIRIUS, HM Destroyers QUENTIN

                                and VANSITTART for Atlantic convoy defence.

                24th        Escorted rms QUEEN ELIZABETH to USA with HMS SIRIUS, HM Destroyers QUENTIN,

                                VANSITTART, PATHFINDER and VIMY


September             Deployed on convoy defence in southern Atlantic and Indian Ocean.

                                Detached with HMS SIRIUS to assist South African Naval Force to establish patrols

                                for interception of blockade runners.


October                  Resumed convoy defence duty in South Atlantic.

                23rd        During passage to Freetown hit abreast Q turret on port side forward by torpedo

                                fired by U161 off Pointe Noire, Belgian Congo.

                                Sustained major structural damage and flooding.

                                All forward turrets unusable.

                                Escorted to Pointe Noire by HMS SIRIUS. Speed reduced to 6 knots.

                25th        While tied up at a jetty, temporary repairs included the removal of B turret.


December              Repair arranged in USA.

                                Took passage via Takoradi and Trinidad escorted by HM Sloop BRIDGEWATER.


1 9 4 3


January                  On passage.

                15th        Taken in hand for repair at Brooklyn Navy Yard.


February                Under repair.




June                        Post refit trials.

                14th        Passage to UK with call at Bermuda.


July                         Under repair by Vickers Armstrong shipyard at Barrow in Furness.

                                (Note: Work done included

                                Replacement of A turret.

                                Installation of Fire control radar for HA mountings,

                                Modified warning surface radar Type 272 and IFF Interrogation outfits fitted.

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

                8th          On completion prepared for operational service


August                  Nominated for work-up with Home Fleet

                2nd         Took passage to Scapa Flow

                                Worked up with Home Fleet.



                2nd         Attached to Plymouth Command for interception operations against French coastal convoys.

                                (TUNNEL Operations - See HOLD THE HARROW SEA by P Smith).


October                  Transferred to Mediterranean for service with 15th Cruiser Squadron.

                                Passage to Join Squadron for deployment in support of military operations in Aegean and

                                for interception of German invasion craft.

                                (For details see FIGHTING DESTROYER by G. Cornell).

                15th        Unsuccessful search with W Destroyers FURY and FAULKNOR for invasion convoy.

                18th        Deployed with HM Escort Destroyers BELVOIR, BEAUFORT, HM Destroyers FAULKNOR,

                                and FURY in defence of Aegean islands and support of garrisons.

                19th        Bombarded enemy positions at Port Kalymos and took stores to Casteloriso with HM

                                Escort Destroyer HURWORTH.

                24th        Deployed with HM Escort Destroyers ALDENHAM and HURSLEY for diversionary sortie

                                when Leros garrison was being reinforced.

                26th        Escorted HM Destroyer FAULKNOR, HM Escort Destroyers BEAUFORT and BELVOIR

                                carrying troops to Leros.

                                Patrolled SE of Rhodes..

                27th        Returned to Alexandria when relieved by m Cruiser AJAX.



                3rd          Escorted HM Destroyers FAULKNOR, ECHO, PENN and PATHFINDER taking 1st Battalion

                                KOYLI to Limassol.

                                (Note: Troops were taking onward passage in these destroyers to Leros.

                                Refuelled destroyers which left independently.

                12th        Escorted HM Destroyers ECHO, DULVERTON and BELVOIR for passage to Kos to relieve

                                HM Destroyers FAULKNOR, BEAUFORT and the Greek destroyer PINDOS.

                                Withdrew on arrival at Kos.

                13th        Under sustained air attacks in Aegean.

                                (For details of operations in defence of Aegean islands see WAR IN THE AEGEAN by

                                P Smith and E Walker).


December              ,After loss of Aegean Islands returned to Malta for support of operation off the Italian coast

                                with ships of Squadron


1 9 4 4


January                  Deployment in support of military operations in Italy in continuation.

                25th        Provided naval gunfire support during Anzio landings with HM Cruisers DIDO, DELHI,

                                ORION, PENELOPE, MAURITIUS, US cruisers USS BROOKLYN and USS


.                               (Operation SHINGLE – For details see Naval Staff History).

                                (Note: During the period up to 10th March 1944 sustained U-Boat attacks were made off

                                Beach Head.


February                Support of military operations at Anzio.


March                    Nominated for duty with Eastern Fleet and to be converted for specialist use as a Fighter

                                Direction Ship.

                                Under repair in Alexandria including conversion work for new role.


April                       Conversion work in hand.


May                        Passage to Ceylon.



                2nd         Arrived at Trincomalee and Joined 4th Cruiser Squadron, Eastern Fleet.

                                Deployed with Squadron for patrol and interception in Indian Ocean.


July                         Squadron deployment in continuation.

                22nd       Joined m Battleship VALIANT, French battleship RICHELIEU, HM Battlecruiser RENOWN

                                with ships of Squadron to cover air attacks on Sabang by HM Aircraft Carriers ILLUSTRIOUS

                                and VICTORIOUS (Operation CRIMSON).

                25th        Escorted HMS ILLUSTRIOUS and HMS VICTORIOUS screened by HM Destroyers

                                ROEBUCK and RAIDER during air attacks on airfields at Sabang, Sumatra.

                                On completion bombarded shore targets with other Eastern Fleet ships.


August                  Under repair in Bombay


September             Under repair

                12th        On completion rejoined Squadron.


October                  Deployed with Squadron in Indian Ocean.

                17th        Part of TG63.3 with HM Aircraft Carriers INDOMITABLE, VICTORIOUS,

                                HM Destroyer WHELP, WAKEFUL, WESSEX and WAGER during air attacks

                                on Nicobar Islands as a diversion for US landings on Leyte

                                (Operation MILLET).

                19th        Air operations executed and resumed Squadron duties.


November              Deployed with Squadron on completion of MILLET,

                17th        Joined Force64 for fighter direction duty in support of Arakan landings.

                                (Operation AVON).



                1st           Joined m Cruisers NEWCASTLE, KENYA and NIGERIA In 5th Cruiser Squadron,

                                East Indies Fleet.

                                (Note: East Indies Fleet was formed when some ships of Eastern Fleet were transferred to

                                British Pacific Fleet.)


1 9 4 5



                2nd         Part of Task Force 61 for cover of landings at Akyab by British and Indian troops with HM

                                Cruisers NEWCASTLE and NIGERIA screened by destroyers.

                                Bombardment not required as Japanese had withdrawn.

                12th        Provided fighter direction facilities during landings by the 3rd Commando Brigade between

                                Akyab and Ramree Island.

                17th        Embarked troops at Chittagong for Ramree landings in Burma

                21st         Joined Bombardment Group with HM Battleship QUEEN ELIZABETH, HM Destroyer

                                RAPID, HM Sloop FLAMINGO and HM Indian Sloop KISTNA (BIN) to provide naval

                                gunfire support during landings in northern part of Ramree Island.

                                (Operation MATADOS - for details see WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO).).

                24th        Provided fighter direction facility for HM Escort Carrier AMEER during landings by Royal

                                Marines on Cheduba Island (Operation SANKEY).

                27th        Covered 21st Carrier Squadron with HM Cruiser ROYALIST for Rangoon landings.

                                (Operation DRACULA - Sea OPERATION PACIFIC by E Gray).


February                Deployed with Squadron based at Trincomalee for intercept patrol and support of military

to                            operations



April                       Deployed at Trincomalee and prepared for planned operations in Burma

                30th        Deployed with HMS ROYALIST and ships of 21st Carrier Squadron to cover assault landings

                                at Rangoon (Operation DRACULA)



                1st           Provided Fighter Direction during DRACULA landings

                5th          Deployed with 21at Carrier Squadron during attacks on Japanese bases on coast of Burma

                                between Mergui and Victoria Paint.

                                {Note: 21st Carrier Squadron comprised HM Escort Carriers HUNTER, STALKER

                                EMPEROR and PURSUER).

                11th        Supported Royal Indian Navy Sloops during offensive patrol in Andaman Sea for the

                                interception of ships evacuating Andaman Islands and to prevent delivery of any supplies to


                                Joined Force 69 when relieved by HM Cruiser CEYLON and patrolled between Andamans

                                and Burma


June                        Patrol and interception duties in continuation.

to                            Carried out exercises with East Indies Fleet in preparation for Fleet for planned landings in

July                         (Note: These were delayed by US insistence and also by implementation of the PYTHON

                                Scheme to return long serving personnel from SEAC to UK for release.

                                See FINAL REPORT BY SUPREME COMMANDER SEAC (HMSO) for details.


September             Deployed with Squadron in Bay of Bengal covering passage of assault convoys prior to

                                landings in Malaya (Operation ZIPPER)

                                (For details see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY and WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO)


P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS PHOEBE was not retained in the Eastern Fleet and returned to UK during September 1945. The ship arrived at Chatham on 29th October and was taken in hand for refit. On completion she commissioned for service in the Mediterranean and did not finally pay off into Reserve until 1952. After being placed on the Disposal List she was sold to BISCO in 1956 for demolition by Hughes Bolcow at Blyth where she arrived in tow on 1st August that year. 







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








AN 029





OS 033





TAW 013





KMF 029A








(Note on Convoys)



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