HMS Devonshire (39)

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HMS Devonshire
HMS Devonshire (39)
Career
Class and type: County-class heavy cruiser
Name: HMS Devonshire
Builder: Devonport Dockyard, UK
Laid down: 16 March 1926
Launched: 22 October 1927
Commissioned: 18 March 1929
Motto: Auxilio Divino: 'By the help of God'
Fate: Sold for scrapping, 16 June 1954
Badge: On a Field Silver, A Lion rampant Red, armed Blue, crowned Blue.
General characteristics
Displacement: 9,750 tons standard
13,315 tons full load
Length: 633 ft (193 m)
Beam: 66 ft (20 m)
Draught: 21 ft (6.4 m)
Propulsion: Eight Admiralty 3-drum boilers
Four shaft Parsons geared turbines
80,000 shp (60 MW)
Speed: 32 knots (59.3 km/h)
Range: 9,120 nm at 12kts
Complement: 784 officers and enlisted
Armament:
  • 8 x BL 8-inch (203 mm L/50) Mk.VIII in twin mounts Mk.I*
  • 4–8 x QF 4-inch (102 mm L/45) Mk.V in single mounts HA Mk.III
  • 4 x QF 2 pdr (40 mm L/39) Mk.II in single mounts HA Mk.I
  • 8 x QF 0.5-inch (12.7 mm L/50) Mk.III in quad mounts Mk.I
  • 8 x 21-inch (533 mm) torpedoes in quad mounts
Aircraft carried: One Supermarine Walrus, one catapult
Notes: Pennant number 39

HMS Devonshire was a County-class heavy cruiser of the Royal Navy. Constructed at Devonport Dockyard, she was launched in 1927, and commissioned two years later. Devonshire was part of the London subgroup of the County class, and saw service throughout the Second World War.

Early career[edit]

Ship's badge in the National Maritime Museum

Devonshire served with the 1st Cruiser Squadron in the Mediterranean until 1932. While off the island of Skiathos in the Aegean, she suffered a serious accident on 26 July 1929 while engaged in firing practice. The left gun of "X" turret misfired; unaware, the breech operator opened the breech block and the charge inside the barrel exploded, also igniting the next inside the turret, killing 17 men. Devonshire returned to England for repairs in August with "the turret swung 'round and the guns awry". In response to this accident, a new interlock was fitted which prevented the operator from opening the breech until it had been tripped by the gun firing, or manually reset by another operator inside the turret.

Devonshire was on the China Station until 1933, when she returned to the Mediterranean until 1939, a period which covered the Spanish Civil War. In the last year of her deployment there, the surrender of Minorca to Falangist forces was signed on board; Devonshire subsequently evacuating distinguished Spanish republicans.

Second World War[edit]

Flying the flag of the future First Sea Lord John H. D. Cunningham, Devonshire participated in the Norwegian Campaign, and evacuated the Norwegian Royal Family and Government officials from Tromsø, Norway, on 7 June 1940, two months after Germany had invaded. On board were 461 passengers. The ship passed within 50 miles of the action in which HMS Glorious and two destroyers were attacked and sunk by the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. Although eyewitnesses said that an enemy sighting report had been received in Devonshire, the Admiral's orders were to recover King Haakon VII safely, and the cruiser departed the scene.[1] In any event, Devonshire's armament would have been no match for either of the two German vessels.

She was part of the force for the raid on Dakar in August 1940 (Operation Menace), when she shelled ships and batteries in and around the port. When the attack was abandoned she was employed in operations against Vichy French territories on the coast of equatorial Africa, blockading the Cameroons and Gabon. She was involved in the search for the German raider Kormoran in the South Atlantic, and during her time off South Africa under the command of Captain R. D. Oliver, captured an entire Vichy French convoy east of the Cape of Good Hope, on 2 November 1941. She then served with the Home Fleet off Norway and Russia until September 1941.

On 21 November 1941, under the command of Captain Oliver, and with the help of her Supermarine Walrus, Devonshire located and then sank a German merchant raider, the auxiliary cruiser Atlantis, at a range of 14–15 km. Seven German sailors were killed.

She was under refit at Norfolk, Virginia, between January and March 1942. She then served with the Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean until May 1943, covering ANZAC troop convoys from Suez to Australia and then participated in the assault on Madagascar in May 1942. She underwent another refit until March 1944, and was then assigned to serve with the Home Fleet off Norway, where she covered the carrier raids against the Norwegian coast until 1945.

She was the flagship of the First Cruiser Squadron which conveyed King Haakon VII of Norway back to his liberated country, arriving in Oslo on 7 June 1945.

After the war, she was converted to the Royal Navy's cadet training ship in 1947, in which role she served until 1953. Life aboard her during her service in this role was chronicled in John Winton's We Joined the Navy. In 1953 she took part in the Fleet Review to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.[2]

Devonshire was sold for scrap on 16 June 1954 and arrived at Newport, Wales on 12 December 1954 where she was broken up by Cashmore's.

Commanding officers[edit]

From To Captain
1928 1931 Captain Henry C Rawlings RN
1931 1933 Captain D B Le Motee RN
1933 1934 Captain L F Potter RN
1934 1935 Captain Herbert Fitzherbert RN
1935 1936 Captain George P Thompson RN
1936 1939 Captain G C Muirhead-Gould DSC RN
1939 1940 Captain J M Mansfield DSC RN
1940 1942 Captain R D Oliver RN
1942 1943 Captain Douglas Young-Jamieson RN
1944 1945 Captain Donald K. Bain RN
1945 1946 Captain G M B Langley RN
1946 1948 Captain Ronald S Brown RN
1948 1948 Captain Henley RN
1948 1949 Captain St John Cronin DSO RN
1949 1951 Captain G H Stokes CB DSC RN
1951 1952 Captain R G Onslow DSO RN

[3]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ The Battle for Norway, Geirr H. Haarr, Seaforth Publishing, UK, 2010
  2. ^ Souvenir Programme, Coronation Review of the Fleet, Spithead, 15 June 1953, HMSO, Gale and Polden
  3. ^ http://www.royalnavymemories.co.uk/hms-devonshires-captains/ Royal Navy memories

References[edit]

  • Chesneau, Roger, ed. (1980). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922–1946. Greenwhich: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-146-7. 
  • Raven, Alan; Roberts, John (1980). British Cruisers of World War Two. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-922-7. 
  • Rohwer, Jürgen (2005). Chronology of the War at Sea 1939–1945: The Naval History of World War Two (Third Revised ed.). Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-119-2. 
  • Whitley, M. J. (1995). Cruisers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. London: Cassell. ISBN 1-86019-874-0. 

External links[edit]