Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Ships & Shore Establishments Served In-2


1) HMS Pembroke

08/07/1929 – 31/12/1929
Royal Navy Barracks. Chatham Division Depot. (Note 1) 

HMS Pembroke
Badge of the Royal Naval establishment
at  Chatham, Kent
Opened 30th April 1903, HMS Pembroke was built adjacent to the Chatham Royal Naval Dockyard to accommodate the Royal Navy Barracks after previously being accommodated in three hulks moored in the River Medway.

By the outbreak of the First World War Chatham had become one of the Royal Navy's three ‘manning ports' with over a third of the navy, some 205 ships, manned by men allocated to the Chatham Division, a role that continued until the advent of central manning in 1956. The cruiser HMS Ajax, the seventh of her name and one of the two subjects of this website, was a Chatham manned ship. The other subject olf this website, Robert (Bob) Sharplin, was a Chatham based sailor hence his service in her.

Government expenditure cuts forced the closure of the Barracks on 29th October 1983.
(Refer Notes 1, 2, 3 & 4 to Entry # 32)


2) HMS Marlborough      

                            HMS Marlborough
                                  The Ship's Badge
             Design approval Certificate 22nd January  1920

01/01/1930 – 22/08/1930
Iron Duke Class Battleship.
Builder: Admiralty, Devonport Royal Dockyard. Yard No. ??
      Ordered: Under 1911 programme
      Laid down: 25 January 1912
      Launched: 24 Nov 1912 Sponsor at launching Ceremony was: ??
      Completed:  ??

                                                            HMS Marlborough at sea
                                                           date and location unknown

      Commissioned: 2 June 1914 (First Commander -Captain P F G Grant (25 May 1915)
      Displacement – As built: 25,000 tons
      Fully loaded: ??
      Pennant No. 79 (Aug 1914), 85 (Jan 1918), 66 (Apr 1918).
      Fate: 27th June 1932 sold to Metal Industries Rosyth for breaking up.

The four ships of this Class , Iron Duke, Marlborough, Benbow and Emperor of India were the third series of "super dreadnoughts" built for the Royal Navy. The design was based very closely on that of the King George V Class from the same designers. The Duke of York was also built at Devonport Royal Dockyard but Benbow and the Emperor of India were built by Beardmore and Vickers  respectively.

    Winston Churchill at the launch of HMS Marlborough 
                               on 24 Nov 1912                                                      

HMS Marlborough under construction at Devonport Royal Naval Dockyard in 1912

When Bob joined Marlborough she was already some twenty years old and just two years away from being scrapped.  As he joined this ship holding the lowest rank of Stoker 2nd Class and 18weeks later was promoted to Stoker 1st Class on 10th May and a further 18 weeks later was drafted from the ship back to Chatham barracks, HMS Pembroke, it is reasonable to believe that Marlborough was being used as a Training ship for Stokers and there is evidence to support this. Being a ship with boiler and engine rooms of this age and still coal fired it must have been an arduous course, extremely dirty with very hard physical work in poor light and high temperatures deep in the bowels of the ship.                                     


a.   Six  ships have borne this name between 1706 and 2005 and one "non warship", a trawler hired as a Boom Defence Vessel between 1916 - 1919, It was hired again between November 1939
       -  3rd January 1940 as an Auxiliary Patrol Vessel and for a third time between 1945 - June 1946 (role undefined).
       The name was used twice for a shore ttrainig establishment, firstly including the above period but its opening and closing dates have yet to be found. Opened again during WW 2 between December 1941 and 30th June 1947.


3) HMS Pembroke

See item # 1 for Image of the Ship's Badge

23/08/1930 – 02/10/1930
Royal Navy Barracks. Chatham Division Depot. See entry # 1.

HMS Pembroke
Royal Naval Barracks, Main Gate

4) HMS Hermes

                                     HMS Hermes
                                  The Ship's Badge
             Design approval Certificate 22nd Feberuary 1923

03/10/1930 – 06/09/1933
Aircraft Carrier. (9th of her name)

HMS Hermes
Off Yantai, China, 1931

This vessel was a world first by any Navy in being designed and built as an aircraft carrier. Originally designed for 15 aircraft this was eventually increased  reaching 20 by 1938.  

Over the period Bob was on board she was part of the Far East Fleet based on Hong Kong & Shanghai

It should be remembered that it was during Bob's service in Hermes that the Japanese invaded China in Manchuria (in 1931) taking the province and installing a puppet government, the lead up to this event and the aftermath would have caused great concern to governments such as Britain thus prompting the movement of Royal Naval units to cover the political chess board.
HMS Hermes
Scapa Flow, 1925

Ship’s details:

      Builder: Armstrong Whitworth, Elswick
      Ordered: July 1917      
      Laid down: 15th January 1918
      Launched: 11th September 1919, work suspended and towed to HM Dockyard, Devonport for
      Commissioned: 18th February 1924
      Displacement: 10,950 tons, full load approx. 12,900 tons
      Particulars:  Length 598ft
                          Beam 70ft 9ins (outside bilges)
                          Mean draught 18ft 9ins.
      Machinery: Steam. Geared turbines, Shaft HP 40,000 with 2 shafts. Speed 25 knots.    
      Pennant No. 95 
      Fate: Sunk by Japanese aircraft 9th April 1942 off Ceylon. Reports state that she had no serviceable aircraft due to enemy bombing raids the previous day and that she sank after suffering some 40 hits by 250lb bombs. 306 of her 1,575 crew were lost. 


5) HMS Pembroke

See item # 1 for Image of the Ship's Badge

07/09/1933 – 15/10/1935
Royal Navy Barracks. Chatham Division Depot. (See entry # 1.)

HMS Pembroke
 Stand Easy, Parade Ground


6) HMS Ramillies 

                                        HMS Ramillies
                                       The Ship's Badge
Two badges were produced for this ship, this second design was 
accepted as it was based upon it's namesake's John Churchill, 
1st Duke of Marlborough's coat of arms.  
                             Dat of approval not known 

16/10/1935 - 31/12/1936
"Royal Sovereign" Class Battleship, 8 x 15" guns in four twin turrets (5th of her name - Note <a>)

HMS Ramillies
After 1932 -1933 refit

  Ship’s details:

      Builder: William Beardmore & Co., Dalmuir, Scotland  
      Ordered: 1913     
      Laid down:12th November 1913
      Launched: 12th June 1916
      Commissioned: 1st September 1917
      Displacement: 25,750 tons, loaded 29,150tons   
      Particulars: Length 620.8ft o/a, 580ft pp.
                         Beam 88.5ft
      Pennant No. 07

On the night of 11/12/October 1940 Ramillies as part of the screening force, which also included Ajax (with Bob Sharplin on board), was covering two Convoys, MF-3 from Egypt to Malta and AS4 from Greece plus Operation MB6, an air attack on Leros, when this screen was attacked by the 1st Italian Torpedo Boat Flotilla. In the resulting action,  Ajax sank the Italian ships Airone and Alcione and a little later when the Italian 11th Destroyer joined the fray the Italian destroyer Artiglere was heavily damaged by radar directed gunfire from Ajax then later sunk by gunfire by the British Cruiser York. During this action Ajax received 7 hits. The Italians refer to this action as the Battle of Cape Passero.

Fate: Last employment was as an Accommodation Ship and for training April to August 1945.
Decommissioned 1946.
Sold 20 February 1948 for breaking up. Arrived 23 April under tow at Cairn Ryan where de-equipped and hulk towed to Troon October 1948 where broken up.

a.     Prior to Ramillies V commissioning under this name the name was used between 3rd August 1914 - 30th August 1916 for a 2,935 ton vessel hired into service and fitted out as a Mine Carrier. It was not  included  by the Admiralty as a member of the Ramillies naming lineage.

7) HMS Pembroke II 

See item # 1 for Image of the Ship's Badge

01/01/1937 (One day) 
Royal Navy Accounting Centre operational at HMS Pembroke Barracks, Chatham, between 1940 and which Engine Room and miscellaneousw ratings were attached and whose wages and allowances etc were charged to this cost centre.
Ref : Warlow, Shore Establishments of the Royal Navy P107.

HMS Pembroke
Rum being unshipped in Chatham Dockyard
 for the Pembroke Royal Naval Barracks

8) HMS Drake

02/01/1937 – 09/12/1938
Royal Navy Barracks, Devonport. (See Note <a>)

Formerly HMS Vivid, the building of which was completed in 1886 but not opened until 4 June 1889.
Renamed HMS Drake 1st January 1934.

HMS Drake
Royal Naval Barracks
a. This is one of the oldest Ships names in Royal Navy, the first being a 16-gun 146bm vessel in
    service between 1653 and 1691. A total of 20 ships have since borne this name.


 9) HMS Pembroke

See item # 1 for Image of the Ship's Badge

10/12/1938 – 14/03/1939
HMS Pembroke
Barrack Room

Royal Navy Barracks. Chatham Division Depot. See entry # 1.


10) HMS Cornwall  

15/03/1939 – 09/02/1940
“Kent” Subclass of County Class Heavy Cruiser, 8-inch guns in four twin turrets. (7th of her name).

HMS Cornwall

Declaration of war found her deployed as Flagship of 5th Cruiser Squadron, China Station with cruisers Kent, Dorsetshire and Birmingham.

Docked in Colombo for repairs October 6th - 11th. Participated in search for the German raider Admiral Graf Spee to south of Ceylon. December transfered to South Atlantic Station for patrol  duties from Capetown and Freetown.  Bob drafted out of her in Freetown from where he was probably taken by a passing troop ship back to England .

Ship’s details:

      Builder: Royal Naval Dockyard, Devonport, Devon
      Ordered: 2nd June 1924
      Laid down:9th October 1924
      Launched: 11th March 1926
      Commissioned: 8th May 1928
      Displacement – As built: 9,750 tons
      Fully loaded: 13,400 tons
      Particulars: Length 630ft o/a, 590ft pp
                         Beam: 68.5ft
      Machinery: Steam. Parsons geared turbines, four shafts 80,000 Shaft HP = 31.5 knots.
                          Eight Admiralty 3-drum boilers, max working pressure 250psi
      Pennant No.

      Fate: Heavily bombed 5th April 1942 by Japanese aircraft operating from carriers Akagi, Soryu
               and Hiryu west of Ceylon. Sank within 15 minutes of being hit, 190 crew listed as dead or   
               missing.  Accompanying Cruiser Dorsetshire was sunk 6 minutes later by similar attacks.


11) HMS Pembroke

See item # 1 for Image of the Ship's Badge

10/02/1940 – 18/03/1940
Royal Navy Barracks. Chatham Division Depot. See entry # 1.

HMS Pembroke
HM King George VI making a then “secret’ wartime visit to the Barracks on 16 April 1942
inspecting ratings on the parade ground accompanied by Commodore Nicholson RN


12) HMS Ajax

19/03/1940 – 30/09/1941
“Leander” Class Light Cruiser, 8 x 6-inch guns in four twin turrets. Pennant No. 22.
(7th of her name -  Note 3)
HMS Ajax
In a Mediterranean Gale
Bob joined her at Chatham Dockyard where she was completing seven months of repairs following heavy damage inflicted by “Admiral Graf Spee” at the Battle of the River Plate bringing Ajax to global attention thus becoming one of the modern Royal Navy’s most well known ships (Note 1).

Sailed 21st August 1940 as part escort of a convoy bound for Middle East via South Africa. He saw service in Ajax when as part of the Mediterranean Fleet’s 7th Cruiser Squadron. She participated in the Malta Convoys, the Battles of Matapan & Crete and the North African Campaign where Ajax was seriously damaged.

On the night of 11/12/October 1940 Ajax  (with Bob Sharplin on board) accompanied by one of Bob's former ships the Battleship Ramillies was covering two Convoys, MF-3 from Egypt to Malta and AS4 from Greece plus Operation MB6, an air attack on Leros, when this screen was attacked by the t Italian 1st Torpedo Boat Flotilla. In the resulting action,  Ajax sank the Italian ships Airone and Alcione and a little later when the Italian 11th Destroyer joined the fray the destroyer Artiglere was heavily damaged by radar directed gunfire from Ajax then later sunk by gunfire by the British Cruiser York. During this action Ajax received 7 hitsThe Italians refer to this action as the Battle of Cape Passero.

Bob spoke of their experience when on earlier convoy protection duty (12th October 1940) Ajax had found herself in a melee with a small force of Italian destroyers which had been sent out to deliver a night attack on the convoy (MF4). In the lively action which followed Ajax had acquitted herself well by sinking two of the destroyers, Airone and Ariel and damaging a third, the Artigliere. Ajax suffered seven shell hits resulting in 35 casualties including 13 killed. The Artigliere was subsequently sunk by the Cruiser HMS York as the Italians attempted to tow her away. (Note 2)

He was also greatly moved by a night action during the German sea borne invasion stage of the Battle of Crete where orders were given to conserve ammunition and sink native caiques that were being used to transport German troops to Crete by ramming them. One he recalls imbedded itself in Ajax’s bow such that she arrived back in Alexandria still wearing the wreckage.

The night-time “Battle of Matapan “where the Royal Navy blew three Italian cruisers and two destroyers out of the water without any loss, Bob described as “having caught the Italian fleet by such surprise they reacted like startled rabbits trapped in a car’s headlights”.

The subject of the Painting, which is the feature of this website, the action of 21st May 1941, is fully described under the Tab “The Painting and The Action”.

Ship’s details:

      Builder: Vickers Armstrongs, Barrow-in-Furness. Yard No. 682
      Ordered: 1st Oct 1932
      Laid down: 7th Feb 1933
      Launched: 1st Mar 1934 Sponsor at launching Ceremony was Lady Chatfield, Wife of the First Sea Lord Admiral Alfred Ernle Montacute Chatfield.
      Completed: 12th Apr 1935
      Commissioned: 15th Apr 1935
      Displacement – As built: 7,259 tons
      Fully loaded: 9,653 tons (Oct 1942)
      Pennant No. 22
      Fate: De commissioned at Chatham 16 Feb 1948. Placed on Disposal List. Laid up in River Fal.     After a frustrated sale to Chile, towed from River Fal 8 Nov 1949 to Cashmore’s, Newport (Mon) Yard, where she arrived on 18th to be broken up.


Mediterranean 1940-41
Matapan 1941
Greece 1941
Crete 1941
Malta Convoys 1941

1. During this period in Chatham Dockyard the following modifications were made:
      a. 46ft catapult replaced by 56ft. Walrus aircraft mounted
      b. Type 279 radar fitted
      c. Masts replaced with tripod design
      d. Zarebas fitted to 4” guns
2. Ibid - “Daily War Diary for Ajax”, 12th October 1940, Convoy MF4 to Alexandria. 
3. Two other vessels of this name appear in the Navy list, neither rated as warships:
          - A tug hired between July 1914 - 7th August 1914
          - A drifter (Ajax II) hired 1914, sunk by German torpedo 27th October 1916


13) HMS Valiant

                                     HMS Valiant
                                  The Ship's Badge
               Design approval Certificate 30 April 1914

01/10/1941 – 16/05/1942
“Queen Elizabeth” Class Battleship, 8 x15-inch guns. (5th of her name - Note 4)

HMS Valiant
During this period Valiant was attached to the Mediterranean Fleet. She was seriously damaged on 19 December 1941 while in Alexandria harbour by Italian manned torpedoes. This action (Note 1) by the Italian Navy's 10th Light Flotilla resulted in a dramatic shift in the balance of naval power in the Mediterranean away from the Royal Navy.

At 2047 that evening about one mile off of Alexandria the Italian submarine “Sciré”, commanded by Prince Julio Borghese, dropped three manned slow moving chariots, essentially torpedoes (Siluro Lenta Corsa = SLC) known as “Maiales" or "sea pigs" by their crews because of their difficulty to handle, each had a two-man crew, was 25 feet long with an explosive charge of up to 700lbs carried in the bow which could be detached and slung beneath the target ship, with a top speed of 5 knots, they were battery powered with a range of just 20 miles (Note 5). One of them, SLC 221, piloted by Lieutenant Commander De la Penne was targeted for the Valiant. All three penetrated the harbour defences by fortuitously arriving just in time to catch the boom net defences being opened to allow some Royal Navy cruisers and destroyers to enter the harbour. These ships had actually been attached to Admiral Vian’s 15th Cruiser Squadron and were returning from escorting the supply ship Breconshire to Malta.

De la Penne arrived safely at the Valiant but had trouble in submerging losing his diver, Petty Officer Bianchi, and control in the process finishing up with his SLC stuck in the mud on the harbour bottom. Single-handed he managed to pull the torpedo's 270kg warhead filled with TNT underneath the Valiant some 5ft beneath the ship’s hull then surfaced to find Bianchi clinging to a nearby buoy, both were spotted at 0325hrs from the Valiant and taken aboard as prisoners. Having refused to reveal their mission they finished up imprisoned below while Valiant, suspecting their intent, cleared all crew from the lower decks. The order was given “Close all X and Y doors” followed by “All hands on deck”.

Bob reminisced that there was no time to evacuate the ship so he stood among the crew on the main deck after all hands had been cleared from lower decks, waiting for the explosions. Their suspicions proved correct when at 0547hrs a terrific nearby explosion blew the stern of another of the Italian target’s, the 7,554 ton fleet oil tanker Sagona, badly damaging the destroyer Jervis lying alongside her. This was closely followed at 0606hrs  by another such explosion under their own ship which shuddered then slowly sank onto the bottom. Fortunately the depth below the keel was only a few feet so the ship settled upright on her keel and no crew were recorded as injured. The explosion occurred under the port bulge near “A” turret tearing a 60ft by 30ft hole in the bulge causing considerable internal damage. De la Penne had been brought up to the main deck to the sounds of a third explosion at 0610hrs from under the fleet flagship, the battleship Queen Elizabeth which initially took a heavy list to starboard and settled on the bottom, like the Valiant in just a few feet of water and on her keel.  All three Italian Chariot crews had successfully accomplished their mission but all were captured.

Later that morning Valiant was towed into the Admiralty Floating Dock AFD 5 to commence  temporary repairs before sailing on April 8th to Durban for further repairs. All in all she was disabled for five months.

The damage to Queen Elizabeth was much more severe. 11,000 square feet of her hull was damaged, “A”, “B” and “Y” boiler rooms were flooded to main deck level with extensive damage to machinery. After temporary repairs in Alexandria’s floating dock she was sent to the Norfolk Navy Yard in Virginia and was out of action for nearly eighteen months.

This attack dramatically turned the strategic naval balance of power in favour of the Italians as suddenly Admiral Cunningham, as Commander -in-Chief Mediterranean, found his fleet had been reduced to Admiral Vian’s 15th Cruiser squadron, Naiad, Euryalus and Dido, the anti-aircraft cruiser Carlisle, the cruisers Penelope and Ajax in Malta with the latter out of action for repairs, plus some destroyers. The attack could not have come at a worse time for Britain. On every front the news was bad. Cunningham wrote that his fleet now "should have to leave it to the Royal Air Force to try if they could dispute the control of the Central Mediterranean with the enemy's fleet". Thus it looked as if the Royal Navy could no longer operate in the central Mediterranean. He wrote to the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Dudley Pound, “We are having shock after shock out here. The damage to the battleships at this time is a disaster”.

Even Churchill was moved to praise this Italian operation as an example of "extraordinary courage and ingenuity" then summed up the resulting strategic situation in saying "Six Italians, dressed in rather unusual diving suits and equipped with materials of laughably little cost, have swung the balance of power in the Mediterranean in favour of the Axis".

The critical saving grace was that the British managed to conceal the fact that so much damage had been inflicted on both ships and as all of the Italian Crews had been captured neither the Italians or the Germans became aware of just how tenuous the tactical situation had suddenly become for the Royal Navy.

Ship’s details:

      Builder: Fairfields
      Laid down: 31st January 1913
      Launched: 4th November 1914
      Commissioned: 19th February 1916
      Displacement: 27,500 tons
      Pennant No: 02
      Fate: Decommissioned July 1945. Sold 19th March 1948 for scrap, arrived under tow 16 August
               1948 at Arnott Young, Cairnryan. Hulk taken to Troon March 1950.

1.    “The Battle for the Mediterranean”, Donald Macintyre, P33-34, Ibid - Bibliography.
       "Task Force", John Parker, P188,  Ibid -  Bibliography.
       “Underwater Warriors”, Paul Kemp, P29-33, Ibid - Bibliography.
        HMS Valiant's War Diary.     
2.    “The Battle for the Mediterranean” Donald Macintyre, P121-123, Ibid -bibliography.
3.     Bob’s original hand written Service Record shows that on 16 May 1942 he was in the Valiant and the following day was at HMS Pembroke, the Royal naval Barracks at Chatham, Kent prompting a non Naval reader to question how could this be so? Quite simply it is a matter of how the Royal Navy maintained its personnel’s records. Moving from one ship or establishment to another was called a “draft”. It could be as quick as if in dock walking from one ship to the      next or, as in this case, travelling halfway around the world. When “drafted” the record shows the date on which you left your ship or establishment. The next day it will show the name of the  ship or establishment which you are to join (drafted to) irrespective as to how long it may take
        you to reach it. 
        Following the temporary repairs necessitated by the 19 December attack on her, Valiant according to her War Diary, sailed from Alexandria on 8 April 1942. She called at Aden on the 13 April possibly to refuel and reached Durban in South Africa on 21 April where she “was taken in hand for repair and refit”. A change in her commanding officer took place on 7 May when Captain Leslie Haliburton Ashmore RN took over. Bob left her on 16 May conceivably    following a decision to reduce her crew to a minimum whilst the ship underwent lengthy major repairs. There is no apparent record as to how Bob got back to England. Presumably he together with other ex Valiant crew members were transported back by one of the regular troop ships running through the Cape at that period. Valiant did not emerge from repairs until three months later in mid July destined to join the 3rd Battle Squadron on the East African coast.
4.     Two other vessels of this name appear in the Navy list prior to this ship but  not rated as warships these were:
              - A lugger hired into service between 1794 - 1801.
              - A yacht (Valiant II) hired into service as an Auxiliary Patrol Vessel between 18th November  1914 - 6th February 1919 and fitted with 4 - 12 Pndr guns.
5.      "Diving Stations, The Story of Captain George Hunt and The Ultor", Peter Dornan.


14) HMS Pembroke

See item # 1 for Image of the Ship's Badge

17/05/1942 – 18/04/1944
Royal Navy Barracks. Chatham Division Depot. See entry # 1.
Refer to Note 3 under HMS Valiant, entry # 13 above regarding Bob's drafting from the Valiant to Pembroke Naval Barracks. 


15) HMS Ajax

25/8/1942  One day.
Still at Pembroke but Lent to HMS Ajax 25/08/1942 (One day) which was in Chatham Dockyard for repair & refit.

Over the period of her repair and refit from 27 May – 24 Oct 1942 the following modifications were made:
      I. 3 single 20mm guns added. 0.5” Machine guns removed
      II. 2 quadruple pom-pom guns fitted
      III. The quadruple pom-pom guns formerly fitted in what had been the catapult’s position    
      IV. 2 HACS directors fitted, one on each side of bridge
      V. Types 272, 284, and 285 radar fitted

Ship’s details: - Previously recorded at entry # 12 q.v.
HMS Ajax
Date unknown – camouflage pattern is not that of 1941 or 1942


16) HMS Ajax

01/10/1942 – 13/10/1942
Still at Pmbroke but Lent to HMS Ajax 01/10/1942 – 13/10/1942
See above entry

Ship’s details: - Previously recorded at entry # 12 q.v.  

HMS Ajax
Date unknown, possibly off breakers yard


17) HMS Purnbell

01/04/1942 – 10/04/1944
Still at Pembroke but Lent to HMS Purnbell 01/04/1944 – 10/04/1944
No record yet found of this vessel. Anyone with details or information is invited to please contact me.


18) HMS Mauritius

                                     HMS Mauritious
                                    The Ship's Badge
9/04/1944 – 13/03/1945
“Fiji” Class Heavy Cruiser, 12 x 6-inch guns in four triple turrets. (1st of her name)

HMS Mauritius

Bob joined her while she was in Chatham dockyard for repair and refit (between 14 April and 10 May 1944) during which the following modifications were made:      
      I.     Port side aircraft crane removed
      II.    Type 650 missile jamming gear fitted
      III.  Type 273 Surface warning radar fitted
      IV.  Type 289 Aircraft warning radar replaced by Type 281

At June “D-Day” Normandy invasion (June 1944) as part of Force D off Sword Beach where she was slightly damaged by German shore batteries then carried out offensive patrols off the Brittany coast in August to mop up remnants of German shipping in the area. Sank a German minesweeper off Ile
de Yeux on 15 August.  Operating with destroyers HMS Ursa and HMCS Iroquois she sank Sperrbrecher 157 and five Vorpostenboote (Patrol Boats), V702, V717, V720, V729 and V730 on 25 August. Returned to Home Fleet and covered raids by aircraft carriers along the Norwegian coast making anti-shipping strikes herself. In January 1945 in company with the cruiser Diadem she fought an action with German destroyers in which the German Z31 was badly damaged and in return she received one hit.

Following this action she was refitted at Cammell-Laird’s between 25 February 1945 and March 1946.
Bob left her at Cammell-Laird’s, Birkenhead, on 13 March 1945

Ship’s details:

      Builder: Swan Hunter, Tyne & Weir
      Laid down: 31st March 1938
      Launched: 19th July 1939
      Commissioned: 1st April 1940
      Displacement- As built: 8,256 tons
      Fully loaded: 10,736 tons
      Pennant No. 80
      Fate: There is disagreement re her ultimate fate viz::-    
               Decommissioned 1952 went into a refit for several months then placed in Reserve. The  
               expense of the unnecessary refit suffered criticism from a Parliamentary Select Committee. 
              a)  Placed on Disposal List and sold to BISCO, arrived 27 March 1965 T.W. Ward .
               Ltd, Inverkeithing and broken up. (as per "Ships of the Royal Navy P252)
               b) Sold for Breaking up 1962 (as per British Cruisers of World War Two P438).
               c) Paid off in 1952 she went into refit for several months before being placed in Reserve.                       This expense was subjected to some criticism by a Parliamentary Select Committee. After                    seven years in the Reserve she was placed on the Disposal List and sold to BISCO for                          breaking up at Inverkeithing by T W Ward. She arrived in tow at the breaker’s
                 yard on 27th March 1965 (as per www,naval


Normandy 1944


19) HMS Pembroke

See item # 1 for Image of the Ship's Badge

14/03/1944 – 09/08/1945
Royal Navy Barracks. Chatham Division Depot. See entry # 1.


20) HMS Stoymer

4/04/1945 – 25/04/1945
Still at Pembtroke but Lent to HMS Stoymer
No record yet found of this vessel. Anyone with details or information is invited to please contact me.


21) HMS Holderness

                    HMS Holderness
                                    The Ship's Badge
04/04/1945 – 17/04/1945
Still at Pembroke but Lent to HMS Holderness
“Type 1 Hunt” Class Escort Destroyer. (3rd of her name)

      I.   Built under the 1939 Programme with 9 other Type 1 destroyers.
      II.  The ship was adopted by the civil community of Amman Valley, Wales after a National  
            Savings Warship Week campaign in March 1942.
      III. Remained in commission after VJ Day, continued service in Chatham Local Flotilla until
            1946 when Paid-Off and reduced to Reserve status. Laid-up at Harwich. 1953 transferred to 
            Barrow for armament and other equipment to be preserved. Placed on Disposal List 1956.
            Sold to BISCO for demolition.

HMS Holderness
Ship’s details:
      Builder: Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Wallsend on Tyne
      Laid down: 29 June 1939
      Launched: 8 February 1940
      Commissioned: 10 August 1940 (?)
      Displacement – As built: 1,000 tons
      Fully loaded:
      Pennant No. F148
      Fate: Arrived Ward, Preston, 20 November 1956 where broken up


22) HMS Brocklesby

09/04/1945 – 19/04 /1945
Still at Pebroke but Lent to HMS Brocklesby 
“Type 2 Hunt” Class Destroyer. (1st of her name)

      I.    Ordered 4 September 1939 under the War Emergency Programs
      II.  March 1942 after successful Warship Week National Savings campaign was adopted by civil
            community of Belper, Derbyshire
      III. Paid off Portsmouth 1 May 1946. Laid up until 1951 when refitted and converted to a sonar
            trials ship. Paid off June 1968.

HMS Brocklesby
Ship’s details:
      Builder: Cammell Laird, Birkenhead, Job 3561
      Laid down: 18 November 1939
      Launched: 30 September 1940
      Completed: 9 April 1941
      Commissioned: 9 May 1941
      Displacement: 1,000 tons
      Pennant No. L42
      Fate: Paid off June 1968. Arrived Faslane, River Clyde, 28 October 1968 where broken up. She
                was the last of the Hunt Class to be scrapped.


23) HMS Jacinta

27/04/1945 (one day)
Still at Pembroke but Lent to HMS Jacinta .
    In Bob's record this misspelt and stated as Jacinter.
    Armed Trawler. (1st of her name)  

      I.   Hired into service as Admiralty Trawler 1915-19. Fitted with one 6 pounder gun.
      II.  Requisitioned May 1940 as Auxiliary Patrol Trawler, fitted with one 12 pounder gun. Later
            purchased (date not known).
      III. March 1942 converted to Mine Sweeper.
      IV. January 1944 assigned to Wreck Dispersal
      V. May 1946 sold

HMS Jacinta
 Ship’s details:
      Builder: Not known
      Laid down: Not known
      Launched: 1915
      Commissioned: Not known
      Displacement – As built: 290 tons
      Fully loaded: ? tons
      Pennant No. 4.138
      Fate: Sold May 1946.


24) HMS  Cordelia II

11/05/1945 (One day)

Still at Pembroke but lent to  HMS Cordelia II
In Bob's record this is misspelt and stated as Co Deila

Ship’s details:
      Former private luxery motor Yacht requisitioned in November 1939 for war          service as a  Harbour Defence Patrol Craft,
      5th of this name***
      Purchased November 1941
      ***Two appear in Colledge Vol 2. P60;  Three appear in Colledge Vol 1, P90

      Builder: Dickies, Tarbert, Loch Fyne, Argyll & Bute, Scotland
      Built: 1929 as a Gentlemans Yacht.
      Length: 71.36ft / 21.75 mtrs
      Beam: 14.36ft / 4.5 mtrs
      Depth: 6.4 ft / 4.5 mtrs
      Tonnage: 31.00
      Engines: 2 x Gardner 3J5 Diesal Engines 
      Crew (Paecetime): 4
      Commissioned: November 1939
       Pennant No. ??
       Fate: Sold 1946 into privat ownership

CORDELIA II was built in 1929  by the famous yacht builders Dickies of Tarbert, Argyll, for Mr John Anderson, a wealthy vegetable merchant from Cumberland. Described as a Gentleman's Yacht  she was built to the highest Lloyds 100 A1 standard for the personal use of her owner and operated by a crew of four. She was built of the very best materials, Burmese teak planking on grown oak frames and bronze fastenings and fittings throughout and was powered by two Gardner 3J5 three cylinder engines, both of which are now in preservation, one being at Liverpool Maritime Museum. In 1939 Cordelia was requisitioned by the Ministry of War for harbour protection duties and operated primarily in the Clyde estuary on submarine patrol duties. 

In 1946 she was repurchased back Iinto private ownsership by Mr Anderson and remained in his ownership until the early 1950s. She was then bought by Mr Cedric Pochin who kept her in North Wales. He re-engined her with twin Gardner 5L3 90hp engines, sea water cooled , which still power her now. These engines idle at 200 rpm and have a maximum of 850 rpm giving Cordelia a cruising speed of 10 knots. 

In 1981 Mr Pochin died and Cordelia was bought by Jim and Rhoda Gill and taken to Devon where she was based until 2002 whenshe was purchased by Alistair and Eleanor Hammond. Alistair and Eleanor carried out a sympathetic restoration programme including the fuel and electric systems. In 2005 they sailed her to France to take part in the famous Brest International Classic Boat Festival. Also in 2005 Cordelia took part in the Royal Spithead Revue before the Queen to celebrate 200 years since Trafalger. They were unable to complete the restoration and she remained for some years in the Thames esturary alongside the Chatham Maritime Museum. 

The present owners found her there in 2011 and quickly realised that, while she was cosmetically in a very poor state she was fundamentally very sound. A comprehensive survey confirmed this and, after basic preparation, she was able to sail under her own power up the east coast and along the Caledonian Canal to her new base in Tobermory, Isle of Mull. Renovation work required for a commercial certificate to enable her to carry passengers is being carried out though much remains to be done.

Source: National Historic Ships Register (UK).

25) HMS Caicos

17/05/1945 – 18/05/1945
Still at Pembroke but Lent to HMS Caicos
“Colony” Class Frigate K505, (1st of her name)

The only aircraft direction detection frigate of WW2, patrolled North Sea to detect Nazi V-1 Buzz Bombs (early cruise missiles). This Class comprised 21 frigates of the Royal Navy, constructed between 1943 and 1944 in the USA. Delivered and renamed under the provisions of the Lend-Lease agreement under which the USA supplied the United Kingdom and other Allied nations with materiel between 1941 and 1945.

HMS Caicos
Ship’s details:
      Builder: Walsh Kaiser Yard, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
      Laid down: 23 April 1943
      Launched: 6 September as USS Hannam, delivered (and renamed) to the U.K. 1943.
      Displacement: 1,318 tons
      Pennant No. K505
      Fate: Returned to the US Navy 12 December 1943. Transferred1947 to the Argentine Navy as
               “Santissima Trinidad” and converted to a survey ship. Renamed 1963 as “Comodoro 
               Augusto Laserre”. Broken up 1970.


26) HMS Torrington

14/06/1945 – 24/06/1945
Still at Pembroke but Lent to HMS Torrington
TE (Turbo Electric) “Captain” Class Frigate. (4th of her name)

This Class comprised 46 frigates of the Royal Navy, constructed in the USA,
Delivered to the United Kingdom under the provisions of the Lend Lease agreement under which the USA supplied the United Kingdom and other Allied nations with materiel between 1941 and 1945.

HMS Torrington

      Ship’s details:
      Builder: Bethlehem Steel, Hingham, USA
      Laid down:
      Launched: 27 November 1943, delivered (and renamed) to the U.K. 31 December 1943.
      Commissioned: either 31 December 1943 or 2 January 1944
      Displacement: 1300 tons
      Pennant No. ?577
      Fate: Returned to US Navy, 1946


27) HMS Liverpool

10/08/1945 – 09/10/1945
“Southampton” (“Town”) Class Cruiser, 12 x 6” guns in four triple turrets. (7th of her name)

HMS Liverpool in drydock
Rosyth, 1943
Bob was drafted to this ship when she was in the last two months of a long repair and refit. She had been torpedoed and seriously damaged in attacks on 14 June 1942 by aircraft and Italian ships when part of Force W escorting a Malta convoy. 15 of her crew had been killed and 22 wounded. Crippled she was towed by the destroyer Antelope to Gibraltar for temporary repairs arriving back in Britain in August for drydocking at Rosyth.

Those repairs were completed in July 1943 and extended into an extensive refit and maintenance period. As part of this her anti aircraft defensive capability was greatly increased to 28 pom-poms in six quadruple and four single mountings, 7 Bofors 40mm guns in single mountings and 5 more 20mmm Oerlikon guns. The Royal Navy had certainly learnt a lesson in anti aircraft defence since the Battle for Crete in May 1941. However she was prevented from re-entering service until October 1945 as insufficient crew were available.

Bob's time in her finished when he was paid off on October 9th then and later that month Liverpool recommisioned to sail out to join the 15th Cruiser Squadron of the then iterranean Fleet.

HMS Liverpool
October 1941
Ship’s details:
      Builder: Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co, Govan, Scotland
      Ordered: 11 November 1935
      Laid down: 17 February 1936
      Launched: 24 March 1937
      Commissioned: 2 November 1938
      Displacement - As built 9,252 tons (15 Oct 1938)
      Fully Loaded: 12,675 (16 Jul 1945)
      Pennant No: C11
      Fate: Decommissioned 1952, placed into reserve. Placed on Disposal List 1957. Sold to BISCO,   
               arrived 2 July 1958 McLellan, Bo’ness for breaking up.


28) HMS Pembroke

See item # 1 for Image of the Ship's Badge

10/10/1945 – 17/11/1945
Royal Navy Barracks. Chatham Division Depot. See entry # 1.

HMS Pembroke
Figureheads in the grounds of the Barracks from early Royal Navy “Days of Sail” warships


29) HMS Suffolk

18/01/1945 – 25/04/1946
“Kent” Subclass of “County” Class Heavy Cruiser, 8 x 8-inch guns in four twin turrets. (6th of her name)

After World War 2, HMS Suffolk was used to bring repatriated military and civil personnel from Australia and sailed for her first trip on 26th August 1945. On return in November she underwent repair at HM Dockyard Chatham where Bob joined her on 18 November. With repairs completed in January 1946 she then made a second trooping trip to Australia and returned in April after Bob was drafted out of her on the 25th.

P o s t   W a r  N o t e s.

HMS SUFFOLK was used to bring repatriated military and civil personnel from Australia and sailed for her first trip on 26th August 1945. On return in November she underwent repair at HM Dockyard Chatham which was completed during January 1946. She then made a second trooping trip to Australia and returned in April. Her last trooping duty was to Singapore where she arrived in late May 1946. After arrival in UK in July she was reduced to Reserve status at Chatham where she was laid-up until sold to BISCO for breaking up in May 1948. The ship arrived at Newport in June 1948 and her demolition by J Cashmere had been completed by January 1949.
HMS Suffolk
Ship’s details:
      Builder: HM Dockyard, Portsmouth
      Laid down: 30 September 1924
      Launched: 16 February 1926
      Completed: 7 Feb 1928
      Commissioned: 31 May 1928
      Displacement – As built: 9,495 tons
      Fully loaded: 13,450 tons
      Pennant No. 55
      Fate: Sold for breaking up 25 Mar 1948. Broken up June 1948 Cashmore’s, Newport (Mon) Yard.       Her demolition had been completed by January 1949.


30) HMS Pembroke

See item # 1 for Image of the Ship's Badge

26/04/1946 – 30/9/1946
Royal Navy Barracks. Chatham Division Depot. See entry # 1.

HMS Pembroke
The Drill Shed, flanking northern side of parade ground

31) HMS Sussex


01/10/1946 – 16/07/1948
“London” Subclass of “County” Class Heavy Cruiser, 8 x 8-inch gun in four triple turrets. (4th of her name) Eastern Fleet.

Bob’s Personal “Employment & Ability Record” record variously reads “Supervision / In Charge – boiler room and engine room machinery”

HMS Sussex
As Built
The end of World War 2 found Sussex in Singapore accepting the formal Japanese surrender followed by involvement in supporting the military operations against insurgents in Indonesia at Surabaya. In March 1946 she returned for fitting out at Chatham Dockyard as a troop ship. Bob joined her there on 1 October 1946 the ship then leaving that month for the Far East to repatriate personnel.

That task completed she paid off at Devonport to undergo a refit. She was re-commissioned in April 1947 for service with the 5th Cruiser Squadron, British Pacific Fleet joining the Fleet in the Far East as Flagship. The historical record then shows her as being replaced by the cruiser Belfast and returning to Portsmouth at the end of 1948 to pay off and go into reserve.

Bob’s record shows him as leaving Sussex on 16 July 1948 joining his next ship Encore a Fleet Tug next day, both ships being on the Far East station (presumed to be Hong Kong) at that time.

HMS Sussex
After World War II

Ship’s details:

      Builder: Hawthorn Leslie & Co, Hebburn- on-Tyne
      Laid down: 1 Feb 1926
      Launched: 22 Feb 1928
      Commissioned: 19 Mar 1929
      Displacement – As built: 9,500 tons
      Fully loaded: 13,290 tons
      Pennant No. 96
      Fate: Decommissioned (paid off) 3 Jan 1949. De-equipped February 1949 and placed on Disposal
               List . Sold for breaking up 3 January 1950 to BISCO. Arrived under tow 23 February 1950
               at Arnott Young, Dalmuir, arrived Troon July 1950.


32) HMS Encore

17/07/1948 – 25/12/1948

Ship’s details**:

“Envoy” Class Armed Fleet Rescue Tug. (2nd of her name)
Pennant Number: W179/ A379
Builder: Cochrane & Sons, Selby, North Yorkshire

Yard No: 1294
Laid Down: ?
Launched: 2 December 1944
Commissioned: 11 May 1943
Into Service: 11 April 1945
Length: 174' 6"
Beam: 36'
Draught: 17'
Speed: 13 knots
Displacement: 868 tons
     Steam Triple expansion
     Propulsion: Single Screw
HP: 1,625
Fuel capacity: 363 tons
Bollard Pull: approx. 16 tons
Crew: 33
     1 x 12pdr AA gun
     1 x 2pdr AA gun
     2 x 20mm AA
     4 x .303 machine guns
Out of service: 1967 placed on Sale List
Fate: Believed sold into commercial service

**Sources: Hannam, "Fifty Years of Naval Tugs", P83
                   Colledge,  Ships of the Royal Navy Vol 2, P80.

This class of armed Rescue Tugs consisted of six vessels the other five being Enchanter (W178)Enforcer (W177), Enigma (W175), Enticer (W166) and Envoy (W165/A165), Three of which saw service as Royal Fleet Auxiliaries (Known as RFA's) .
Bob’s records show him as leaving Encore on 25 December and four days later joining Sussex for one day before being drafted the following day to HMS Belfast, all three ships being on the Far East station in Hong Kong at that time. Being a "big ship man" after many years of serving in an Aircraft Carrier, several  Cruisers and Battleships life on board Encore would have been dramatically different for him.

HMS Encore

Model of an “Envoy” Class armed fleet tug

33) HMS Sussex   

29/12/1948 – 30/12/1948
For ship’s details see entry # 31


34) HMS Belfast

31/12/1948 – 17/04/1949
“Modified Town” Class Light Cruiser, 12 x 6-inch guns in four triple turrets. (1st of her name)
arrived in Hong Kong to relieve "Sussex" as Flag Ship of 5th Cruiser Squadron Far East a period during the Malaysian communist uprising.Bob was drafted to her following her arrival in Hong Kong the preceding day.

Ships Particulars   As Built 
First of her name.
Penant Number: C35
Motto: Pro Tanto Quid Retribuamus. ("For so much, how shall we repay")
Type/Class:  Modified Town Class Light Cruiser.
Builders: Harland & Wolff, Belfast Yard. No: 1000.
Displacement (Standard): 11,553 tons (ship complete without fuel and reserve feed water)**.
Displacement (½ Oil): 12,110 tons
Displacement (Max / Deep): 14,325 tons (ship complete, fully fuelled & equipped, and ready for sea                                                  as a fighting unit).**

Length: 613ft 6in (o.a)
Beam: 63’ 4” (19.3 m)
Draught: 18’  3” (5.56m)  Forward
Draught: 19’ 9” (6.02m) Aft
Ordered: 21September 1936
Laid down: 10 December 1936.
Launched: 17 August 1938
Naming Ceremony: named for the capital city of Northern Ireland by Lady Anne Chamberlain (Wife of the then Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain).
Completed: 3 August 1939.
Commissioned: 5 August 1939.
Armament: (As built)
12 x 6” Mk XXIII guns in four triple mountings MkXXIII with  maximum rate of fire 96 rounds per minute
              12 x 4” Mk XVI dual purpose guns
              16 x 2-pounder “pom-pom’ close range anti-aircraft (AA) guns in eight twin mountings
               8 x 0.5 “ AA machine guns
               6 x 21” Mk VI torpedo tubes in two triple mountings
               15 x Mk VII depth charges  
               Fire Control Equipment: 2 Director control towers, 3 x HACS Mk IV
Main belt: 4.5” (114mm)
             Main Turrets: Up to 4” (102mm).
             Decks over Magazines: 3” (76mm).
             Decks over machinery: 2” (51mm).
             Bulkheads: 2.5” (63mm).
Aircraft carried: 2 x Supermarine Walrus
             By Harland & Wolff
             Installed power: 80,000shp (60,000 kW)
             4 x Yarrow Admiralty 3 Drum type oil fired boilers.
             4 x Parsons single reduction geared steam turbines.
             Max Speed: 32 knots (36miles/59 km/hr)**
Aviation Facilities:
              2 X Hangers
              1 x Catapult (Removed 1945)        
Oil Fuel Capacity: 2,256**
Range (Economical Range): 7,350 miles (At full power Usung 2 boilers and 2 shafts).**
Range (Full power): 2,200 miles  (using 4 boilers and 4 shafts) **  
Battle Honours:
              Arctic 1943
              North Cape 1943
              Normandy 1944
              Korea 1950-52
Crew:    Normal Service 781
               As flagship 881
** Ref: HMS Belfast (as now an exhibition ship) Guide book, Imperial War Museum, P39, 51.

HMS Belfast
Today as a Museum Ship at Tower Bridge, London

The design of the Town Class of Cruisers evolved from the 1930 Conference for the Limitation and Reduction of Naval Armament (Note 2), commonly known as the London Naval Treaty (Note 2), which was an agreement as a result of complex and lengthy discussions between the United Kingdom, the Empire of Japan, France, Italy and the United States, signed on 22 April 1930, which regulated submarine warfare and limited naval shipbuilding.   As a result the British Admiralty called for the Director of Naval Construction (DNC) to produce a series of four sketch designs for their consideration of a new Class of cruisers in compliance with the Treaty. The critical design parameters they requested were a main armament of twelve 6” guns mounted in four triple turrets, nine 4” long range AA (anti-aircraft) guns in triple turrets and an endurance range of 7,000 nautical miles at 16 knots. From then on there was an almost endless stream of changes demanded of the DNC with ships being ordered at various stages of the design development many of them influenced by how competing navies were designing and building ships in their interpretations of the stipulations imposed by  the Treaty.   Some nations particularly Germany, Japan and Italy sought to deliberately circumvent the stipulations established by the Treaty and to conceal those actions; actions which were quickly exposed in the advent of the second world war. This Admiralty decision was to see the emergence of a new class of light cruiser under which ten ships were built in three variants.   The first two ships ordered were designated as the “M” Class and ordered  by the Admiralty in 1933 to be named Minotaur and Polyphemus. In November of the following year the the designation was changed from “M” to “Town” Class and these two ships were renamed Newcastle and Southampton (Generally becoming known as the Town Class or Southampton sub Class) when delivered to the Royal Navy on March 5 and 6th 1937 respectively plus orders were placed under the 1934 programme for three more ships, Sheffield, Glasgow and Birmingham (Generally known as the Sheffield Sub Class). One unusual feature was that Sheffield’s ships fittings were manufactured from  stainless steel instead of the traditional brass in attempt to reduce the amount  of cleaning required by the crew, she was accordingly given the nickname “Shiney Sheff”.                                 
In March 1935 among other changes the AA capability was increased by adding a fourth twin mounting. The 1935 programme saw three more ships ordered, the Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow. After many more design changes under the 1936 programme two ships were ordered the Belfast and Edinburgh which became known as the Modified Town Class. These two were  handed over to the Royal Navy on 6 July and 3 August 1939 and joined the 18th Cruiser Squadron with the Home Fleet.                                                                    

HMS BELFAST remained in the Far East after completion of her rehabilitation work and took part in UN operations off Korea in 1950. She was relieved by HM Cruiser Ceylon and returned to re-commission in UK for further service in the Far East as Flagship of the 5th Cruiser Squadron. She was deployed again with the UN off the west coast of Korea. In 1955 the ship paid off and was taken in hand by HM Dockyard, Devonport for modernisation to suit current naval doctrines. On completion in 1959 she re-commissioned for another  period of service in the Far East where she was deployed until 1962. In June of that year she joined the Home Fleet as Flagship of Flag Officer Flotillas for a few months before being placed in Reserve. She was briefly re-commissioned in 1963 to take part in RNR exercises after which the ship returned to the Reserve Fleet. Her future was placed in doubt by the Defence cuts announced in 1968 and she HM was removed from Reserve status but retained for use as an Accommodation Ship at Portsmouth. A proposal by the National Maritime Museum and the Imperial War Museum for this cruiser to be preserved and used as an example of a major WW2 warship was eventually agreed. On completion of the necessary work on Trafalgar Day 21 October 1971 she was placed on display in the Pool of London and commenced a new career, that of an exhibition ship opening to visitors. Other Royal Navy and foreign warships frequently berth alongside her when visiting London and the ship is also in demand by the media for use during presentations and for other publicity purposes.She is also a popular venue for Private fiunctions.
Sourced 6/1/2017

Bob’s Personal “Employment & Ability Record” record for this shop reads -“Chief of engine room watch at sea”.

Bob’s record show him as leaving Sussex on 30 December and joining Belfast next day. Belfast had just arrived to relieve Sussex as Flagship 5th Cruiser Squadron, British Pacific Fleet.

Fate, How she became an Exhibition Ship and lives on: 
Decommissioned: 24 August 1963. Underwent short refit to prepare to pay off into Reserve. Entered Reserve December 1963.

From May 1966 to 1970 she became the accommodations ship for Portsmouth Reserve Division moored in Fareham Creek. In June 1968 a joint committee from the National Maritime Museum, the Imperial War Museum and the Ministry of Defence reported that a scheme to save the ship was practical and economic but in early 1971 the government decided against preservation so that on 4 May 1971 she was declared “for disposal” to be sold for scrap.  Strenuous efforts to save her then emerged in the establishment of the HMS Belfast Trust such that in July 1971 the government agreed to hand her over to the trust, she was towed to London from Portsmouth and fitted out as a Museum Ship and from 1 March 1978 placed under the care and management of the Imperial War Museum and now lies at a permanent mooring on the river Thames between Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, opposite the Tower of London.. Although no longer part of the Royal Navy she has special dispensation to fly the White Ensign and is also the headquarters of the City of London Sea Cadet Corps. Now a popular tourist attraction Belfast receives over a quarter of a million visitors per year with all nine of her decks open to the public. This author found himself as a visitor in her engine and boiler rooms in July 2016 to experience the eyrie feeling of standing on the plates in front of her controls where 68 years before his father had stood in charge of the engine room watch (Note 1). He described it as “having stood in my father’s shoes it was a very emotional and moving experience that I will never forget”. 

1.       Bob’s Personal “Employment & Ability Record” on joining the ship shows him as fully qualified to be “Chief of  engine room watch at sea”.              

2.       The Treaty for the Limitation and Reduction of Naval Armament, othertwise known as the ,  1930 Conference for the Limitation and Reduction of Naval Armament(, was an agreement between the United Kingdom, the Empire of Japan, France, Italy and the United States, signed on 22 April 1930, which regulated submarine warfare and limited naval shipbuilding with the major objective being the prevention of an ensuing arms race. The Conference itself was a revival of the efforts which had gone into the Geneva Naval Conference of 1927. The various negotiators had been unable to reach agreement supposedly because of bad feeling between the British Government and that of the United States. This problem possibly arose from earlier discussions held between U.S.A President Herbert Hoover and the UK Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald at Rapidan Camp in 1929; but a range of factors affected tensions which were exacerbated between the other nations particularly Italy and Japan, who  it should be remembered, had been allies of Britain in the first World War. Japan’s declining economy at this time was for her a serious distraction. She was moving into a period of serious decline with massive unemployment looming  and serial assassinations destabilising her domestic political scene plus she was only a few years away from invading China (July 1937). The terms of the treaty were seen as an extension of the conditions agreed in the Washington Naval Treaty. That Treaty had been an effort to prevent a naval arms race after World War I. Its limitations certainly seriously affected the design aspirations of the British Admiralty and again it also led to a second treaty. 
       The Second London Naval Treaty which was an international treaty signed as a result of the Second London Naval Disarmament Conference held in London. The conference started on 9 December 1935 and the treaty was signed by the participating nations on 25 March 1936.The signatories were France, the United Kingdom and its Dominions, and the United States of America. Japan, a signatory of the First London Naval Treaty, withdrew from the conference on 15 January. Italy also declined to sign the treaty, largely as a result of the controversy over its invasion of Abyssinia (Ethiopia); Italy was under sanctions from the League of Nations. The situation was further complicated for the Admiralty by the existence of two other “two-nation treaties”.   
        The Anglo-Japanese Alliance of 1902, which was the first of a series of three and the Anglo-German Naval  Agreement of 18 June 1935 which was a naval agreement between the United Kingdom and Germany regulating the size of the Kriegsmarine in relation to the Royal Navy.
        These were uncertain times for the Royal Navy. Admiral of the Fleet A.B. Cunningham wrote in his auto- biography (Note 3), who in December 1922 had just been appointed as Captain (D)  in command of the 1st destroyer Flotilla which was part of the Atlantic Fleet described the Royal Navy’s then situation as “We were no longer the first Naval Power. The Washington Treaty of February, 1922, had whittled (down) the Royal navy and scrapped many ships. Because of the Shrinkage many officers had become redundant and were in the process of falling under the “Geddes Axe (Note 4)”. One third of the Captains were removed from active service at a blow, (together) with many commanders, lieutenant-commanders and sub-lieutenants.” He further wrote “….the Washington Treaty which, among other limitations, brought a ten years “HOLIDAY” in the building of capital ships. It was worse still when this was followed in 1923 by the Government’s edict that no major war was to be expected for ten years.(Note 5)…… The navy ….was beginning to suffer from senile decay”.
Ratifications of the London Treaty were exchanged in London on October 27, 1930, and went into effect on the same day. It was registered in the League of Nations Treaty Series on February 6, 1931. It’s signing remained inextricably intertwined with the ongoing negotiations which began before the official start of the London Naval Conference of 1930, evolved throughout the progress of the official conference schedule, and continued for years thereafter.
The London Treaty established a distinction between cruisers armed with guns no greater than 6.1 inches (155mm) ("light cruisers" in unofficial parlance) from those with guns up to 8 inches (203 mm) ("heavy cruisers"). The number of heavy cruisers was limited – Britain was permitted 15 with a total tonnage of 147,000, the U.S.A. 18 totalling 180,000, and the Japanese 12 totalling 108,000 tons. For light cruisers, no numbers were specified but tonnage limits were 143,500 tons for the U.S.A., 192,200 tons for the British, and 100,450 tons for the Japanese
Destroyer tonnage was also limited, with destroyers being defined as ships of less than 1,850 tons and guns not exceeding 5.1 inches (130 mm). The Americans and British were permitted up to 150,000 tons and Japan 105,500 tons.
Additionally standard displacements of submarines was restricted to 2,000 tons with each of the major powers being allowed to keep three submarines up to 2,800 tons, and France being allowed to keep one. Submarine gun calibre was also restricted for the first time to 6.1 inches (155 mm) with one exception, an already constructed French submarine was allowed to retain 8 inch (203 mm) guns. This put an end to the 'big-gun' submarine concept pioneered by the British “M” class and the French Surcouf.  

3.      Cunningham “A Sailors Odyysey”, P112. 

4.    In April 1910  David Lloyd George, the UK prime minister, had appointed Sir Eric Geddes, a businessman,  to head a the new Committee on National Expenditure, which was soon dubbed "The Great Axe". He particularly wielded this Axe with great gusto upon the Royal Navy. Throughout its long history the Royal Navy had become well accustomed to parsimonious Governments placing it in great difficulty by reducing its needs in being able to meet its commitments thus endangering the very safety of the realm from aggression but Geddes will probably stand out as being by far the it’s worst ever financial foe. 

5.       Cunningham , P114.
      On 17 April 1949 Bob was drafted to HMS Pembroke at Chatham but there is no record as to how he was moved from the Belfast in Hong Kong to Chatham or as to how long that took. A guess is by a troop ship of which quite a few were still in operation.
 (Refer to Note 3 re “drafted” under Item 13 “HMS Valiant”)

ADDENDUM 19th February 2018
The following report appeared in the December 2017 issue of the UK based magazine “Sea Breezes” in their “Naval Focus” section, I quote verbatim.

“Defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon, during a visit to Harland & Wolff shipyard, announced that the second of the new Type 26 Global frigates will be named HMS Belfast. To avoid confusion the World War Two cruiser in the pool of London will be renamed HMS Belfast 1938.”


35) HMS Pembroke

See item # 1 for Image of the Ship's Badge

18/04/1949 – 18/08/1949
Royal Navy Barracks. Chatham Division Depot. See entry # 1.

St George’s Centre, Chatham, Kent in 2012. Formerly HMS Pembroke’s Barracks Church.
On its walls are the names of all personnel of the Royal Navy Chatham Port Division
who lost their lives in both World Wars   


36) HMS Steepholm

18/08/1949 – 18/08/1950
Still at Pembroke but lent to HMS Steepholm.
Built as “Isles” Class Minesweeper. (1st of her name)
Postwar was disarned for use as a Wreck Disposal Vessel

Ship’s details**
      Pennent: DV17 As Wreck Disposal Vessel
      Builder: John Lewis & Sons
      Ordered: 30 July 1942
      Laid down: 7 April 1943
      Launched: 15 July 1943
      Completed : ??
      Commissioned: 1 December 1943
      Displacement – As built:
      Length: 164 ft (50m)
      Beam: 27ft 8in (8.43m)
      Draught:1ft !in (3.38m mean)
1    Fully loaded:??
           ! x 12 Pdr AA gun
           3 x 20mm AA guns
           Single Triple Expansion Reciprocating  Engine
           Single shaft 850shp (634Kw)
      Max Speed:  12 knots
      Fate: Arrived Antwerp 18 June 1960 for breaking up
                 Colledge, Ships of the Royal Navy, P384

HMS Steepholm, as a Wreck Disposal Vessel. 
Post 1946
One of a prolific class with 145 being built during World War 2 , This number was believed to have involved several builders, some possibly overseas,  7 vessels were in the Royal Canadian Navy, 4 in the Royal New Zealand Navy, 5 in the Royal Norwegian Navy . the remainder in the Royal Navy,  13 are listed as having been "lost" during the war, 3 of them sunk by German U-Boats.. 2 of the Canadian vessels were converted to Mine Layers as were 2 of those with the Royal Navy
.Steepholm was converted in 1946 to a Wreck Disposal Vessel (pennant DV17),

This author dsitnctly remembers his father Bob a coming home when leave was permitted and returning to Harwich where the ship seemed to spend most of it's time.


37) HMS Neptune

30/09/1950 – 12/10/1950
Chatham Reserve Fleet


38) Gillingham Group

13/10/1950 – 14/01/1952
 (Pensioned No. 29299, 07/07/1951)
Still at Neptune but Lent to HMS Gillingham Group 13/10/1950 – 30/09/1951 believed focussed upon ships in the reserve fleet.
Nominal Depot Ship: Motor Mine Sweeper 1775 (ex 275).

Ten ships of the Royal Navy have born the name "Neptune"but there is some dispute as to the first. Winfield defines it as being one of three Dreadnought Class 98 gun ships initially rated as second Class designed by Sir John Henslow approved 20 March 1788, built at Portsmouth, launched 28 January 1797, completed 12 February 1797. Warlow lists it as an Auxiliary Schooner named Mary B Mitchell hired into service in 1892, then renamed an astonishing  eleven times, the eighth being Neptune, the final being Eider. On 1 July 1950 the name “Neptune” was carried forward  for the Chatham Reserve Fleet Division having previously been held by the Leander Class Cruiser and sister ship to Ajax tragically sunk in an unmarked minefield off Tripoli on 19 December 1941 with only one survivor, Midshipman Frank Wade (refer Bibliography “A Midshipman’s War"). The name was used at Chatham until paid off on 11 May 1960.

Later, on 10 August 1967 the name was given to a shore based facility at Faslane which appears to have been open since 30 June 1966 with responsibility for accommodation, food supplies etc at the Clyde Submarine Base, HMNB Clyde.


39) HMS Cambrian

1/10/1951 – 15/12/1951
Still at Neptune but Lent to HMS Cambrian.   Believed while focussed upon ships in the reserve fleet.

Ship’s details:
      7th Ship of this name.
      Class:  Caesar Class (C-Class) Destroyer. A class of 32 destroyers built in four flotillas of 8between 1943 and 1945  (a sister ship to HMS Carron #40 below                     
      Builder: Scotts, Greenock, Scotland
      Ordered: ??? 1942 to be named "Spitfire", together with a sister ship       intended to be named   "Strenuous" **.  Ordered to replace HM Destroyer  Jackel sunk by air attack when under tow.
      Laid down: 14 Aug 1942 as "Spitfire"
      Launched: 10 Dec 1943
      Completed by: 17 July 1944 by Messrs John Brown & Co Clydebank
      Displacement – As built: 1,710 tons
      Fully loaded: tons
      Pennant No. R85
      Fate: Paid off Dec 1968. Sold to Ward for scraping. Arrived Briton Ferry 3 September 1971 and brocken up.
     ** Ships renamed in November 1942 as part of a rationalisation of names for this class.

Bob was drafted to this ship as "In Charge of Engine Room Department" while she was under a maintenance and refit period in an (as yet) unnamed Private yard as the yard's name is illegible on his Service Record.

40) HMS Carron

                                      HMS Carron
                                  The Ship's Badge
                          Design approval Certificate 

1//1//1952 – 14//1//1952
Still at Neptune but Lent to HMS Cambrian.   Believed while focussed upon ships in the reserve fleet.

Ship’s details:
      5th Ship of this name.
      Class:  Caesar Class (C-Class) Destroyer (a sister ship to HMS Cambrian #39 above). A class of  32 destroyers built built in four flotillas of 8.between 1943 and 1945. 
      Builder: Scotts, Greenock, Scotland
      Ordered: Feb 1942 to be named  as "Strenuous**", together with a sister ship intended  which was intended to be named "Spitfire" ** (see #39 above)
      Laid down: ??? as "Strenuous"
      Launched: 28 March 1944
      Completed by: ///??by Messrs John Brown & Co Clydebank??
      Commissioned: ??
      Displacement – As built: 1,710 tons
      Fully loaded: tons
      Pennant No. R70 //
      Fate: Paid off ??. Sold to Ward.. Arrived  Inverkeithing for breaking up 4th Apr, 1967.
     ** Ships renamed in November 1942 as part of a rationalisation of names for this class.


41) HMS Superb

15/01/1952 – 02/06/1952

Ship’s details:
      Builder: Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Wallsend
      Laid down: 23 June 1942
      Launched: 31 August 1943
      Completed: 16 November 1945
      Commissioned: 17 July 1944
      Displacement – As built: 9,066 tons
      Length: 538Ft(pp), 555ft 6in
      Fully loaded: 11,851 tons (Oct 1950)
      Beam: ??
      Draught: ??
               Four Admiralty- type three drum boilers
               Parsons Geared turbine four shafts,
     Power: 80.000shp
     Speed: 32.25 knots Miles (15,000km) at 16 knots
     Range: 2,000 nautical
     Armour & protective plating
               Crowns to magazines: 2 in NC
               Sids to magazines: 3.5in  NC
                Crowns to engine rooms: 2in NC
                Sides to engine rooms: 3.25 in NC
                Crowns to boiler rooms: 2in NC
                Sides to boiler rooms: 3.25in NC
                Sides to boiler rooms: 3.25in NC
                Turret roofs: 2in NC
      Oil fuel capacity: 1.700 tons
      Crew 733 peacetime, 900 war. 
      Pennant No.C 25
      Fate: Decommissioned August 1957and placed into Reserve. Sold for scrap, scrapped at Dalmuir
               by Arnott Young, arriving there on 8 August 1960.

A “Swiftsure (Minotaur)” Class Light Cruiser, 9 x 6 inch guns in three triple turrets. (10th of her name).
Commissioned into service 17 July 1944 at the aftermath of World War 2 she led a somewhat unremarkable and short life.

Her only taste of conflict came in the Corfu Channel Incident of 15 May 1946 when Superb and the Light Cruiser Orion came under fire from Albanian fortifications while crossing the channel but without any damage. Another later incident in October saw two destroyers, Saumarez and Volage hitting mines each incurring serious damage with 44 crew killed and another 44 injured.

There were plans for Superb to undergo a modernisation but when the parsimonious Conservative Government of the time released "Duncan Sands' 1957 Defence Review" it cancelled all Cruiser modernisations in favour of new guided missile ships. Superb was thus placed into reserve in August 1957 to be scrapped just three years later.

HMS Superb
Ship’s details:
      Builder: Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Wallsend
      Laid down: 23 June 1942
      Launched: 31 August 1943
      Completed: 16 November 1945
      Commissioned: 16 November 1945
      Displacement – As built: 9,066 tons
      Fully loaded: 11,851 tons (Oct 1950)
      Pennant No.C 25
      Fate: Decommissioned August 1957and placed into Reserve. Sold for scrap, scrapped at Dalmuir
               by Arnott Young, arriving there on 8 August 1960.


42) HMS Pembroke

See item # 1 for Image of the Ship's Badge

03/06/1952 – 23/07/1952
Royal Navy Barracks. Chatham Division Depot. See entry # 1.

Parades. All “spit and polish”.

HMS Pembroke


43) HMS Mars

24/07/1952 – 06/11/1952
Aircraft Maintenance & Repair Carrier. (8th of her "Mars" name). Believed to have been part of Reserve Fleet based at Harwich.  
Ordered as Ethalion, laid down as Pioneer, name changed (1942) to Mars.

One of 16 ships ordered as Colossus Class Light Fleet Aircraft Carriers, all were laid down of which  only eight were built with just four entering service before the end of WW2. Final two  (Perseus and Pioneer (Mars) ) were fitted out as Aircraft Maintenance & Repair Carriers being without aircraft catapaults or landing arrestor gear.

The design of the remaining six was modified to become the Majestic sub-class and sold to foreign navies one being Australia who named their ship HMAS Sydney and became their fleet flagship.

Non saw action in WW2.

Ship’s details:
      Builder: Vickers Armstrongs, Barrow-in-Furness.
                    Originally to be named “Ethalion”, renamed and laid down as Pioneer, renamed Mars   
                    in 1942
      Ordered: 7 August 1942 as Ethalion    
      Laid down: 2 December 1942 as Pioneer
      Launched: 20 May 1944 as Mars (renamed 1942)
      Completed: 8 February 1945
      Commissioned: 1July 1950
      Displacement : 12,265 tons standard
                                16,500 tons deep loading
      Length: 695ft
      Beam: 80ft
      Pennant No.R76 
      Placed early to mid 1946 in Reserve Fleet, Harwich, Essex.
      Commissioned: As Depot Ship 1 July 1950
      Reserve Fleet closed 28 March 1954
      Paid Off and decommissioned: 31 March 1954
      Fate: Arrived September 1954 at Ward, Inverkeithing, presumed for breaking up .


44) HMS Pembroke

See item # 1 for Image of the Ship's Badge

07/11/1952 – 12/02/1953
Royal Navy Barracks. Chatham Division Depot. See entry # 1.

HMS Pembroke
Haul Down Ceremony upon final closure
(Notes 1 & 2)

1.  HMS Pembroke has been a much used name by the Royal Navy having been given to 11 warships since 1655, the most recent being a Batch 2 "Sandown"  Class Minehunter launched in 1997,
     commissioned 6 October 1998. The name has also been used for 9 shore establishments as  supplementaries to the 1903 Barracks and Depot and once for a Royal Naval Air Station at Eastchurch between 1913 and 1918.
     This HMS Pembroke was first commissioned on 1 April 1873 as a Royal Navy Depot being accommodated in three hulks, the Pembroke, Royal Adelaide and Forte. The building of the Barracks on shore commenced in May 1897, the first messes being actually taken over on 26 March 1902 with the official opening on 30 April 1903. It was closed on 29 October 1983 as a result of government expenditure cuts. Those same cuts had forced the closure of the adjacent HM Dockyard Chatham just a month before on 30 September ending 436 years of service to the Royal Navy, an industrial complex that ad at one time been the world’s largest.
     The official closure of Chatham Dockyard together with that of the Chatham Naval Base, the abolition of the joint Command of Naval  Flag Officer Medway and Port Admiral Chatham, were all celebrated in a single public (Flag) Haul Down Ceremony on 30 September 1983 attended by its Flag fficer Rear Admiral W A Higgins CBE, at which a Royal Marine Band played the "Sunset"  The official closure at the end of March was that of an already abandoned Dockyard.. (See Note 2).
     (Ibid - Bibliography ,"Haul Down Ceremony").
     Other datelines ** were:
           - May 1983, The Royal Marine "Fleet Band" under Captain Ted Whealing RM moved to Northolt.
           - 3 June 1983, the Band returned for the Barracks final Ceremonial Divisions.
           - 8 August 1983, last service held in St. Georges Church.
           - 29 October 1983, last Barracks Commanding Officer, Captain Paddy Sheehan RN left his post.
           - 18 February 1984, the "Closure Party" under Commander R Wilson RN gathered outside the Wardroom and the White Ensign was lowered for the last time. (See Note 2).
               (** Sources - "Kent's Historical Sites" & Mr Eddie Lane, Member Chatham Dockyard Historical Trust, Gillingham, Kent)
     Following the closures the combined Dockyard and Barracks sites were broken into three zones. One which included most of the former Dockyard was handed to the then newly formed  Chatham Dockyard Historic Trust, the second zone disposed of for private and commercial development including housing and the third including most of the Barracks buildings was taken over by the  Universities of Greenwich and Kent with some since having been demolished and other new buildings erected.
2.  "Chatham Naval Dockyard & Barracks" Page 110.
      Other facilities at Pembroke continued to operate for some time after the Barracks 1983 "closure". These included the Supply & Secretariat's Branch School and the Royal Naval Cookery School. The latter had baked the wedding cake for the marriage in 1981 of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer, a task which comprised three cakes, two being spares in the event of any damage and which occupied fourteen weeks.
3.  The frame of the establishment's Badge had earlier been changed to a diamond (date of change  not known) before its closure.
The establishment of HM Dockyard Chatham commenced in 1512 when the river Medway became an anchorage for the King’s ships followed by King Henry VIII in 1547 selecting it as his main fleet anchorage while the Admiralty that same year rented a storehouse on "Jillyingham (now Gillingham) Water". Two years later land was rented to construct a mast Pond. The Dockyard continued to grow into the reign of Elizabeth I such that by 1563 it won more investment than any other dockyard. In 1572 extra stores houses were built. 1579 saw the first ship** to be built in Chatham Dockyard, the pinnace "Marlyne",  of 50bm, her rname was later changed in 1603 to "Merlin".  (** Source - Chatham Dockyard Historical Society notice, February 2014). There is however a contradiction to this in Colledge & Warlow's "Ships of the Royal Navy" P256 which refers to it only as Merlin and states that this ship was not listed after 1601 thus it's ultimate fate is not known).
In 1580 an Ordnance Wharf with its’ own crane  was built. That same year  the first drydock came into use to berth the large galley Eleanor.  In 1587 the anchorage was renamed Chatham.
The Dockyard continued to grow in size as did its Capability and labour force eventually becoming the  world’s largest engineering facility. 
5.  There are thought to be several more than the 9 listed in his official service papers.


Bob Sharplin Released (retired) from Service 

Length of service: 23 years, 7 months and 4 days.

Proposed Admiralty Anchor.
A design submitted by Captain Rodgers R.N.
to the Admiralty 1852 Committee on Anchor Designs

General Notes:
Displacement tonnages.

a) Standard displacement, also known as Washington Displacement, is a term defined by the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. It is defined as the displacement of the ship complete, fully manned, engined, and equipped ready for sea, including all armament and ammunition, equipment, outfit, provisions and fresh water for crew, miscellaneous stores, and implements of every
description that are intended to be carried in war, but without fuel or reserve boiler feed water on
    board.  The omission of fuel and water was to avoid penalizing the British, who had great global commitments and required greater fuel loads, and especially the United States, which had global commitments almost as great but with fewer bases to provide fuelling than the Royal Navy.
        Source: Wikipedia
b) Displacement tonnage is the weight of the water that a ship displaces when it is floating; the term is ordinarily defined such that the ship's fuel tanks are full and all stores are aboard. The term is usually applied to naval vessels. A number of synonymous terms exist for this maximum weight, such as loaded displacement, full load displacement and designated displacement. As a
measurement of weight, displacement should not be confused with similarly named measurements of volume or capacity such as net tonnage or gross tonnage.