HMS Milford (L51)

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HMS Milford 1944 IWM FL 15277.jpg
HMS Milford in 1944
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Milford
Ordered: 24 April 1931
Builder: Devonport Dockyard
Laid down: 14 September 1931
Launched: 11 June 1932
Completed: 22 December 1932
Identification: Pennant number: L51 (later U51)
Fate: Sold for scrap 1946
General characteristics
Class and type: Shoreham-class sloop
Displacement: 1,105 long tons (1,123 t)
Length: 281 ft (86 m)
Beam: 35 ft (11 m)
Draught: 8 ft 3 in (2.51 m)
Propulsion: Geared turbines, 2 shafts, 2,000 shp (1,491 kW)
Speed: 16 knots (18 mph; 30 km/h)
Complement: 95

HMS Milford was a Shoreham-class sloop[a] of the British Royal Navy. Milford was built at Devonport Dockyard in 1931–1932. Milford served during the Second World War, and was sold in 1949.[2]

Construction and design[edit]

The British Admiralty ordered four sloops as part of the 1930 construction programme, with two each ordered from Devonport and Chatham dockyards. Classified as repeat Shoreham or Falmouth-class ships, they, like the four Shoreham-class sloops ordered under the 1929 construction programme, were a lengthened and improved version of the Hastings class of the 1928 programme, which were themselves a modification of the Bridgewater class.[3][4] They were intended for a dual role of patrol service in overseas stations in peacetime and minesweeping during war.[4][5]

Milford was 281 feet 4 inches (85.75 m) long overall, with a beam of 35 feet (10.67 m) and a draught of 10 feet 2 inches (3.10 m) at full load. Displacement was 1,060 long tons (1,080 t) standard and 1,515 long tons (1,539 t) deep load.[6][7] Two Admiralty 3-drum water-tube boilers fed two geared steam turbines which drove two propeller shafts. The machinery was rated at 2,000 shaft horsepower (1,500 kW), giving a speed of 16.5 knots (30.6 km/h; 19.0 mph).[7]

The ship's main gun armament consisted of two 4-inch (102 mm) QF Mk V guns mounted fore-and-aft on the ship's centreline, with the forward gun on a High-Angle (HA) anti-aircraft mounting and the aft gun on a Low-Angle (LA) mounting, suitable only for use against surface targets. Four 3-pounder saluting guns completed the ship's gun armament. The initial anti-submarine armament consisted of four depth charges.[8][7] The ship had a crew of 100 officers and other ranks.[7]

Milford was ordered from Devonport Dockyard on 24 April 1931 and was laid down on 14 September 1931. She was launched on 11 June 1932 and completed on 22 December 1932.[9]


Milford's anti-aircraft armament was improved during refits in 1937 and 1939 by replacing the aft LA 4-inch gun by a HA gun, and adding a quadruple Vickers .50 machine gun mount for close-in anti-aircraft duties. A second quadruple .50 machine gun mount was added in 1940, with the machine guns replaced by four (later five) Oerlikon 20 mm autocannon later in the war.[10]

The ship's anti-submarine armament was also gradually increased during the war, with the number of depth charges carried increasing from 15 to as many as 60–90.[11][7] Other wartime changes included the fitting of radar.[6]


On commissioning, Milford joined the Africa Station, operating off both the west and east coast of Africa.[12][13] In February 1934, she visited Bouvet Island in the far South Atlantic, carrying out survey operations and confirming the location of the remote island.[13][14] Milford returned to the UK for refitting at Potrsmouth Dockyard in May 1935, having sailed over 50,000 miles in her first commission.[12][13] After this refit, she returned to the Africa Station, and was refitted again at Portsmouth from October to December 1937.[12] In March 1938, Milford visited Tristan da Cunha,[15] and she was refitted at Simonstown in South Africa in January to May 1939.[12]

The outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 saw the Africa Station being renamed the South Atlantic Station, with Milford transferring to her war station at Freetown, Sierra Leone.[12][16] Milford was used to escort convoys between South Africa and Gibraltar, before undergoing another refit at Simonstown from January to March 1940.[16] On 7 July 1940, Milford, together with the aircraft carrier Hermes and the cruisers Dorsetshire and HMAS Australia, arrived off Dakar, Senegal, in order to force French Navy ships (especially the battleship Richelieu) to either join with the Royal Navy or be neutralised so they could not be seized by the Germans (a similar operation had resulted in the British attack on Mers-el-Kébir on 3 July). Milford attempted to enter Dakar harbour with an emissary to carry out negotiations, but the French refused entry. On the morning of 7/8 July a launch from Hermes sneaked past the French defences and dropped a number of depth charges under Richelieu's stern, then Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers from Hermes attacked Richelieu, scoring one torpedo hit on the battleship, badly damaging the French ship.[17] On 23 September 1940, Milford took part in Operation Menace, an unsuccessful attempt to seize Dakar by landing Free French forces with Royal Navy support.[18]


  1. ^ Officially classified as being a member of the "repeat Shoreham-class", although sometimes described as the Falmouth-class [1]
  1. ^ Hague 1993, pp. 12–13, 38
  2. ^ "HMS Milford (L 51 / U 51) of the Royal Navy - British Sloop of the Falmouth class - Allied Warships of WWII -". Retrieved 28 February 2019.
  3. ^ Hague 1993, pp. 6, 12–13
  4. ^ a b Gardiner & Chesneau 1980, pp. 55–56
  5. ^ Hague 1993, pp. 10, 12
  6. ^ a b Hague 1993, p. 38
  7. ^ a b c d e Gardiner & Chesneau 1980, p. 56
  8. ^ Hague 1993, pp. 21, 38
  9. ^ Hague 1993, pp. 6, 38
  10. ^ Hague 1993, pp. 38–39
  11. ^ Hague 1993, pp. 21–21
  12. ^ a b c d e Hague 1993, p. 39
  13. ^ a b c "Warship's Long Cruise: H.M.S. Milford Returns Home". New Zealand Herald. LXXII (22148). 29 June 1935. p. 32. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  14. ^ "H.M.S. Milford: Test Trip in Antarctic". The Mercury. Hobart. 24 January 1934. p. 9. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  15. ^ "Lonely Island: Visit by H.M.S. Milford". Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners Advocate. 17 January 1938. p. 8. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  16. ^ a b Mason, Geoffrey B. (30 May 2011). "HMS Milford (L 51) - Shoreham-class sloop: including Convoy Escort Movements". Service Histories of Royal Navy Warships in World War 2. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  17. ^ Rohwer & Hümmelchen 1992, p. 28
  18. ^ Rohwer & Hümmelchen 1992, p. 36
  • Gardiner, Robert; Chesneau, Roger, eds. (1980). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1922-1946. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-146-7.
  • Hague, Arnold (1993). Sloops: A History of the 71 Sloops Built in Britain and Australia for the British, Australian and Indian Navies 1926–1946. Kendal, England: World Ship Society. ISBN 0-905617-67-3.
  • Rohwer, Jürgen; Hümmelchen, Gerhard (1992). Chronology of the War at Sea 1939–1945. London: Greenhill Books. ISBN 1-85367-117-7.

External links[edit]