HMS Mauritius Dad served from 14-12-40 to 04-05-42
  HMS Mauritius 1941
Battle Honours: Atlantic 1941, Sicily 1943, Salerno 1943, Mediterranean 1943-44, Anzio 1944, Normandy 1944, Biscay 1944, Norway 1945.
 
 

Crown Colony Class Cruisers

aka: Fiji Class Light Cruisers

Development of the Southampton design. X-turret removed from all surviving ships except Nigeria, towards the end of WWII.
 
Displacement: 8,525 tons standard ; 10,450 tons full load
Dimensions: 538 pp, 555.5 oa x 62 x 16.5 feet
Propulsion: 4 shaft Parsons geared turbines, 4 Admiralty 3-drum boilers,
72,500 shp. = 31.5 knots
Range: 10,200 miles at 12 knots; 1,700 tons fuel oil
Complement: 730
Armament: 4 triple 6-inch / 50 Mk 23 (one turret later removed); 4 dual 4-inch / 45 QF Mk 16 HA, 2 quad 2 pdr; 4 quad 0.5-inch MG, 2 triple 21-inch TT; 2 seaplanes
Armour: 3.25 to 3.5 inch belt; 2 inch deck; 1 to 2 inch turrets; 1.5 to 2 inch bulkheads
 

HMS Fiji

Built by John Brown, Clydebank. Laid Down 30 March 1938.
Launched 31 May 1939. Completed 5 May 1940.
Sunk 22 May 1941 by bombs from German and Italian aircraft, south-west of Crete (241 lost).
 

HMS Kenya (C14)

[photo]
Built by Alex. Stephen, Govan. Laid Down 18 June 1938.
Launched 18 August 1939. Completed 27 September 1940. Paid off 1958.
Broken up by Shipbreaking Industries, Faslane, 1962.
 

HMS Nigeria (C60)

[photo] [torpedoed]
Built by Vickers Armstrong, Tyne. Laid Down 8 February 1938.
Launched 18 July 1939. Completed 23 September 1940. Paid off 1950.
In reserve 1950-1954. Sold to India 1957 and renamed Mysore. Paid off 1985.
Torpedoed during Operation Pedestal.
 

HMS Mauritius (C80)

[1941] [1942] [1942?] [1943?] [D-Day] [1948]
Built by Swan Hunter, Wallsend. Laid Down 31 March 1938.
Launched 19 July 1939. Completed 1 January 1941. Paid off 1952.
In reserve 1953-1960, then placed on disposal list.
Broken up by Ward, Inverkeithing, 1965.
Les Johnson
One man's service with photos of Mauritius and Liverpool.
 

HMS Trinidad

[photo] [late '41]
Built by Devonport Dockyard. Laid Down 21 April 1938.
Launched 21 March 1940. Completed 14 November 1941.
Scuttled 15 May 1942 after being damaged the previous day by torpedoes from German aircraft, Barents Sea (80 lost).
 

HMS Gambia (C48)

[Feb '42]
Built by Swan Hunter, Wallsend. Laid Down 24 July 1939.
Launched 30 November 1940. Completed 21 February 1942.
Loaned to RNZN 1943-1946. Paid off December 1960.
In reserve 1960-1964. Broken up by Ward, Inverkeithing, 1968.
 

HMS Bermuda (C52)

[Sept '43]
Built by John Brown, Clydebank. Laid Down 30 November 1939.
Launched 11 September 1941. Completed 21 August 1942. Paid off 1962.
Broken up by Ward, Briton Ferry, 1965.
 

HMS Jamaica (C44)

[photo]
Built by Vickers Armstrong, Barrow. Laid Down 28 April 1939.
Launched 16 November 1940. Completed 29 June 1942. Paid off 1957.
Broken up by Arnott Young, Dalmuir, 1960 and Troon 1962.
 
Resolution
 
Of all the ships Dad served on, Mauritius was his favourite. He was part of her commissioning crew. This new, smaller ship was quite a contrast to the Resolution.
 

Singapore

My Dad was on the Mauritius (Captain W. D. Stephens) undergoing a refit in the Naval Base at Singapore when Prince of Wales (Mauritius on the right) and Repulse, arrived on 2nd December 1941 [photo #2]. At 04.00 on the morning of the 8th bombs were dropped around the airfields of Singapore and into the middle of Singapore city. Strangely no bombs were dropped near the Dockyard but the crews were called to action stations and pom-poms fired at the high-level targets, picked up by searchlights. The next evening the ill-fated Force Z set sail and, if not for the refit, Mauritius would have been part of it.
In this photo, Prince of Wales docks at Cape Town on her way to Singapore. You can see that the camouflage was in better shape here than when she arrived in Singapore.
 
The Fall of Singapore
My friend Mark's Japanese Aviation pages
 

Notes taken from Mauritius' "Log Book" December 1941:

[P.R.O. ref. ADM 53 /114646]
Captain W. D. Stephens. 2nd Dec. Secured in berth No. 2. Endeavour alongside. 1735 Prince of Wales arrived. 1750 Repulse, Encounter and Express anchored. 3rd Dec. Stronghold, Danae and Durban entered harbour. 4th Dec. Express sailed. 7th Dec. Endeavour sailed. 8th Dec. 0400 Nine Japanese a/c approached from SE. Opened fire with pom pom and 0.5". 0430 Seven Japanese a/c approached from SSW. 1705 Repulse sailed. 1715 Prince of Wales sailed. 12th Dec. Dragon arrived. 13th Dec. Went to ammunition jetty. 15th Dec. Sailed for Colombo, Ceylon. 16th Dec. Captain admonished Iville Porteous, commissioned ordinance officer, for a "...continued immoderate consumption of spirituous liquors". 18th Dec. Entered Colombo.
 

Extracts from a privately published book on HMS Mauritius:

H.M.S. Mauritius was commissioned by Captain L. C. A. Curzon-Howe, M.V.O., late in 1940. The previous day had been spent in a series of conferences and inspections, a necessary prelude to the handing over of the ship by the builders, Messrs. Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson of Wallsend-on-Tyne, to whom she was more familiarly known by her "job number." By noon the ship's company arrived, after an all-night train journey from Chatham, and with great interest took up their allotted places in the ship. Getting on board was no easy task, as the ship was lying alongside the future Anson and not the jetty. Lunch-time saw the officers entertaining some of the employees of the firm who had given such grand co-operation during the building. To the sound of cheering from men on the dockside, the Mauritius, aided by tugs, left the yard and proceeded down the Tyne to the Tyne Improvement Commission's Quay, and work began in earnest. Whilst doing full-power trials after leaving the Tyne, enemy aircraft in large numbers were reported to be approaching the area. This was no small matter for an untried ship with a crew who were largely inexperienced. Fortunately the enemy turned away before reaching the ship. Greenock and Gareloch will be remembered as the scenes of days of tedious trials and evolutions. Finally the Admiralty and the shipbuilders turned the ship over to the ship's company to make her a fighting unit of His Majesty's Navy. Early 1941 found the ship "working up." The working up period included a very full programme of gunnery and torpedo exercises. During this period Captain Curzon-Howe had to go ashore a very sick man, and with Commander A. R. Pedder in command we sailed to join the Fleet on a hunt for the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. On our return to harbour, a second Captain, joined us, but he too went sick after two days. Two minor misfortunes also occurred at this time. Firstly, the motor-boat went hard and fast aground on the beach, but after many an hour's work we successfully completed our first salvage operation. Secondly, the incinerator funnel caused a fire among some shotmats nearby. Our third Captain, Captain W. D. Stephens, soon had the opportunity of taking the ship to sea to chase a German raider, but the only enemy sighted was a submarine uncomfortably close during one night. Arriving back, the ship's company provided good entertainment in the form of a concert in one of the hangars. In his speech on the conclusion of the concert, Captain Stephens told us that we should shortly be steaming into sunshine and civilisation. Sunshine we were to have in plenty.
 
We soon found ourselves south-bound and hoped for some shore leave, but the weather prevented this, and our proud ship was soon shepherding her first convoy, the first of very many all successfully escorted. Apart from our destroyer escort opening fire on a Whitley bomber on patrol over the Bay of Biscay, a plummer block becoming overheated and necessitating a reduction in speed to five knots, and a merchant vessel giving us a good run as we tried to investigate her (she cleverly manoeuvred to keep herself stern on to us as we closed), nothing untoward happened. By the time we reached Freetown we had been given an introduction to what became known as Pedder's Hour. Commander Pedder, by altering the clocks to suit his purpose, always arranged that Dawn Action and the breakfast hour which followed, still allowed a full forenoon clear for work. Invariably on arrival in port the clocks had again to be adjusted to conform with local time and provide further opportunity for work. For some time we were running slow convoys from Freetown. It was a very necessary job, but monotonous and almost uneventful, until an unescorted ship reported that she was being attacked by a raider. Her position was given as being within a hundred miles of us, but it must have been inaccurate. After long hours at action stations and search by both Walrus aircraft, flown off alternately, we were eventually forced to abandon the hunt and return for fuel. We then joined a convoy and transferred mail and two passengers to an aircraft carrier in one Walrus. The pilot had had no previous deck-landing experience - his fourth attempt was successful. A run ashore in Gibraltar was enjoyed: still more so our first mail since leaving home. Some may also remember the interesting talk given by Lieutenant-Commander Hartman of the United States Navy on his experiences in Illustrious during her bombing. Others, perhaps, recall that after turning over the convoy we intercepted a Spanish merchantman which had rescued the crew of a Wellington bomber after a forced landing in the Atlantic. The rescued airmen were handed over. During our runs ashore in Gibraltar those of us who had not visited the Rock before were able to verify some of the facts we had gleaned from books. This small part of the Empire, only three miles in length and three-quarters of a mile in breadth, is a natural fortress, with a rocky ridge 1400 feet high overlooking a town of narrow streets and steep lanes, fortified as early as the eighth century by the Moors. It came into British Possession in 1704, when it was captured from the Spaniards by Admiral George Rooke, his Marines taking a leading part in the operation.
 
A south-bound convoy from Freetown was for many of us the first occasion for crossing the line. In spite of the war, King Neptune came aboard. The Gunnery Officer, robed in a dressing-gown and wearing the most wonderful headgear, delighted everyone in this role. One large but elderly ship caused us no little concern on this trip, continually breaking down; but we turned the convoy over intact, and found ourselves safely in dock in Simon's Town. Three days leave was given and Cape Town showed us the real meaning of hospitality. This proved to be the prelude to many thousands of miles in the great open and far too sunlit spaces of the Indian Ocean. Unfortunately, security regulations still make it impossible to describe our operations in detail or even in chronological order. The paragraphs which follow must be taken merely as recollections of some incidents on passage and at the more important places we visited. Gloom was over us sit Aden when one of our members died as a result of the heat. He had, in the hope of reducing the rate at which he was sweating, decided to give up drinking. A second man was saved by administering a saline solution. During our first visit to Kilindini the Commander had the misfortune to capsize the sailing dinghy one Sunday afternoon. He was less perturbed about the possibility of sharks than about losing a set of Ratsey sails, together with other odds and ends. Port Victoria in the small islands of Seychelles, some 8oo miles from the East African Coast, was among our ports of call. The larger of these islands are fertile, well watered, and covered with tropical vegetation. Tortoise-shell goods and wonderful mangoes and pineapples abound in these islands, where poverty is hardly known - or perhaps it would be truer to say that it is not felt. The scarcity of mails was the standing and general complaint at this time. When we took over a convoy from another cruiser and passed mails to her, we made a signal bemoaning the fact that we had received no mail for three months. She replied, "Our sympathies are with you. We have not had one for four months." It was on this particular job of convoying that the boarding party went away in the motor cutter to investigate a suspicious craft, but she proved to be a small RAF tender off her normal beat. At Colombo, Admiral Sir G. S. Arbuthnot, KCB, DSO, the then newly-appointed Commander-in-Chief, East Indies, arrived on board. He is well remembered, if only for the fact that his tropical dress was unusually formal, including as it did a sleeved shirt and a tie. At Trincomalee the exercise programme included a high-angle firing, which led to an indignant letter from the local battery commander, complaining that splinters had torn holes in his garden. It would be of interest to know what he wrote to the Japs when they bombed Trincomalee. A trip in the Bay of Bengal took us to Nancowry, in the Nicobars, where we found the ladies of the island exercising a peculiar prerogative as regards marriage. It appears that they choose their husbands, the latter having no choice in the matter, and discard them at will should they prove unworthy. On a second visit to Trincomalee, ninety-one bags of mail came on board. This was nearly a five months issue and was welcome indeed. During other passages some of the lesser-known islands and atolls were visited. It was at this time that some of our torpedoes developed an illness and showed homing tendencies. A few trial runs, however, solved the mystery. A patrol in search of a Vichy convoy gave us our first opportunity to visit the island of Mauritius. The few daysí stay was made most enjoyable by the islanders unstinted efforts. Gifts of various kinds included the silk frontal, bearing the coat of arms of Mauritius, which beautifies our chapel on Church festivals. A passage to Colombo and on to Port X was marked by an epidemic of life buoy dropping. The epidemic is reputed to have had some connection with the training of ordinary seamen.
 
In early November Singapore was our destination, with a promise of a mass attack from the air - for exercise - to add variety. Unfortunately the attacking force could only muster three Buffaloes and two Blenheims. It was during this stay at Singapore that some of us saw M. Litvinoff on his way to take up the post of Russian Ambassador to the United States of America. The local papers of December the 2nd heralded in large type the arrival of HMS Prince of Wales and Repulse, with four destroyers, and within a few days we were busily working on our 0.5-inch machine guns and so were ready for the Japanese air attack on the 8th. The aircraft flew steadily over the island and were picked up by the searchlights, but the H.A. fire did not produce the desired results. The seizure of all Japanese fishing-boats at Singapore proved as successful as the padre's arrangements for us all to spend a few days as guests of some of the planters and townsfolk had been, but unlike the latter, it was too little and too late. On December 10th we were suddenly given orders to vacate our quarters in the Fleet Shore Accommodation building, in order to make way for the survivors of the Prince of Wales and Repulse. Three days later, this was followed by orders to pick up the bits and pieces from the dockside, bundle them on board, and leave. After an all-night evolution, ammunitioning ship, we dashed through the Straits of Malacca at high speed. Thereafter our progress was slowly but steadily westward. Collecting a large mail and doing a full-power trial on the way, we called at Simon's Town and then on to Freetown, where we found ourselves embarking passengers for home. Alighting from a dusk patrol during the passage, one of the Walrus started to take in water, and to the amusement of all except the Walrus crew, the air gunner was seen to bale out with a bucket as fast as he could go. We passed some ninety miles off Brest at action stations and wondered whether we were likely to attract the attention of the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. They did not come out, however, until we were alongside and de-ammunitioned. England seemed very cold after our long spell of sun in the East, but three weeks leave to all was sufficient compensation.
 
D-Day
We "stood to" well before dawn next morning. Ahead the minesweepers were clearing a channel for us. Beyond them, on either bow, a fireworks display of flak and great red glows showed that the Allied Air Forces were at work on the defences; and overhead there was the drone of many more bombers on their way. Growing daylight revealed an unforgettable scene --- the bombarding force in position , the assault force forming up, supported by destroyers and other vessels, the big transports and tank-landing ships standing in from seaward, attendant small craft everywhere, and over all a forest of balloons, as far as the eye could see to the north and eastward. Then the heavy ships opened fire on the gun positions which had been expected to make things warm for us. Ten minutes later our first opportunity came when an enemy force from Le Havre was reported. "A" and "B" turrets opened fire, doing no lasting good to the amenities of the mess decks below, but still less to the enemy. When the remainder of our force joined in, the attack faded out. Just as a low-flying aircraft laid a smoke curtain southward of us, the first enemy salvos arrived, but thanks to the attentions of the RAF and the battleships, the fire was surprisingly ineffective for some time. When at last a salvo fell close on the beam a touch ahead was enough to put the next one astern, and the MTBs lying inshore of us promptly laid an efficient smoke screen. Meanwhile, the landing craft was going steadily in, keeping good station in line abreast, despite an uncomfortable sea and the navigational handicap of the covering smoke. Destroyers and support craft were engaging the beach defences at close range. Above us Spitfires and Lightnings were constantly in evidence, with never a sign of the Luftwaffe. The greatest combined operation in history was proceeding according to plan - a masterpiece of organisation, detailed preparation, and co-operation among all the Services of the Allies. To have a part in it was a privilege to be remembered. As the day wore on, however, the day and the situation brightened. Word was received that although progress had been hampered by unexpectedly heavy going on the beaches, our forces had everywhere a firm grip. Strong formations of bombers went over at frequent intervals. The bombarding squadron had kept down the shore batteries and lent useful support when called upon. There was no further interference. It can now be admitted that the forenoon was one of suspense, waiting for news of the assault. We had established communication with an airborne force and assisted them to repel a counter-attack, but the smoke over the beaches and the smoke screens to seaward, together with the occasional distraction of enemy gunfire, made it hard to follow the progress of the landing. Some landing craft were returning "not under control," one or two were burning furiously, and the southward flow seemed to slacken. There was for a time considerable doubt about how things were going.by enemy surface craft or U-boats, and the few brief air-raid warnings never materialised into a threat. The last great sight of D-Day was one of the most spectacular of all. For more than half an hour a seemingly endless stream of aircraft towing gliders went over us, releasing their tows somewhere inland in the vicinity of the Orme. Most of them could be followed almost to their landing point. A wonderful sight. After sunset we anchored in a dense concentration of shipping, the beginning of the "build up." Darkness brought the long postponed air attack, but on a feeble scale that showed the measure of superiority gained by our own Air Force. On the whole it was a singularly quiet night. In the following days we settled down to a routine that had become familiar to most of us in the Mediterranean, getting under way at daylight, bombarding when called upon till dark, and then anchoring for the night. There were occasional E-boat reports, but these were effectively dealt with by the patrols. Fatigue arising from long periods of readiness made the days run into each other, but some features stand out clearly - steady progress in spite of bad weather, a fleeting hope of bringing German destroyers to action, the Prime Minister's visit to the battle area, a brief return to the other side of the Channel and then back again after ammunitioning and fuelling all night, and finally the gale which suspended all unloading for three days at a critical period. This was another time of vicarious anxiety, but when, with the aid of the other Services, the Army had survived this check, the first phase was over. The Bridgehead had been established. Its enlargement is still proceeding. Mauritius has been called upon to assist since then and remains ready for further service. We can await the call with confidence, sure of fine leadership, comradeship, and the splendid co-operation of the fighting men of the Free Nations. We have had great good fortune so far. May it always accompany those who have served in the Mauritius and all who follow us.
 
It is most gratifying to be able to wind up with this tribute to the fine fighting qualities of the ship and her company. After a long record of bombarding, the very real desire for anti-ship action has been gratified. On the night of 15th/16th August 1944, a force consisting of Mauritius and the destroyers Ursa and Iroquois was patrolling in the vicinity of the enemy-occupied base of La Rochelle, when contact was made with enemy shipping. A running fight ensued, as a result of which five enemy ships, consisting of two minesweepers and three merchant ships, were destroyed. An escorting destroyer was also hit, but unfortunately beat a hurried retreat and escaped. Again on the night of 22nd/23rd August, the same force had the extreme good fortune to contact more enemy surface craft in Audierne Bay between Brest and Lorient. A brisk action ended in the sinking of eight enemy ships - two minesweepers, two armed trawlers, three merchant ships, and one flak ship. During both engagements the enemy put up a spirited but unavailing fire with their armament, and shore batteries made an exciting contribution. Despite many thrills, no damage or casualties were suffered by us or the destroyers, on either occasion.
 
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