HMS Sussex

HMS Sussex (96)

HMS Sussex was one of the London sub-class of the County-class heavy cruisers in the Royal Navy. She was laid down by R. and W. Hawthorn, Leslie and Company, Limited, at Hebburn-on-Tyne on 1 February 1927, launched on 22 February 1928 and completed on 19 March 1929.

Career

Mediterranean, Australia and Spanish Civil War

Sussex served in the Mediterranean until 1934, with the Australia Squadron until 1936, and in the Mediterranean again until 1939. During the latter trip, she defended the neutral shipping along the eastern Spanish coast on the last days of the Spanish civil war, supported by the destroyers HMS Intrepid and HMS Impulsive. She obtained the release of at least four British cargo ships arrested by Spanish nationalist forces, but was unable to prevent the capture of the London-registered freighter Stangate by the rebel merchant raider Mar Negro off Valencia, on March 16 1939.

Second World War service

Atlantic theatre

In September 1939 she operated with Force H in the South Atlantic during the search for the enemy German raider Admiral Graf Spee. On 2 December she and the battlecruiser HMS Renown intercepted the German passenger ship Watussi. Before the German ship could be captured she was scuttled by her own crew. Following the scuttling of the Graf Spee in December 1939, she returned to the UK, and served with the Home Fleet during the Norwegian campaign. She entered refit at Glasgow, and while undergoing work, was struck by bombs on 18 September 1940. These caused serious fires, gutting the after end, and she settled on the bottom with a heavy list. She needed extensive repairs and did not return to service until August 1942.

Her next assignment was to the Atlantic, and later with the Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean. On 26 February 1943 she intercepted the German supply ship Hohenfriedberg, west of the Azores. The ship scuttled when challenged and at the same time Sussex was narrowly missed by a spread of torpedoes from U-264 which was accompanying the supply ship.

Pacific theatre

Sussex spent 1944 in the Pacific, and covered operations in the Netherlands East Indies following the cessation of hostilities. On 26 July 1945 her Task Force was attacked by two Aichi D3A "Val" dive-bombers acting as "Kamikaze" suicide weapons. One was shot down by escort carrier HMS Ameer and the second by Sussex. However, this latter one bounced on the surface of the sea and impacted the cruiser's hull above the waterline, causing a 2½ metre dent. Later in the same day Sussex downed another aircraft. On Wednesday, 5 September, 1945 at 1130am., HMS Sussex entered Singapore Harbour carrying the Flag of the Rear Admiral Cedric Holland. General Seishirō Itagaki, the commander of the garrison at Singapore was brought on board, where he signed the formal surrender of the army, thus completing Operation Tiderace, the allied plan to recapture Singapore.

Decommissioning

HMS Sussex was paid off in 1949, handed over to the British Iron and Steel Corporation on 3 January 1950, and arrived at Dalmuir in Scotland on 23 February 1950 where she was broken up by W. H. Arnott, Young and Company, Limited.

Notes

References

  • British and Empire Warships of the Second World War, H T Lenton, Greenhill Books, ISBN 1-85367-277-7
  • Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1922-1946, Ed. Robert Gardiner, Naval Institute Press, ISBN 0-87021-913-8
  • HMS Sussex at U-boat.net
  • Cruisers of World War II

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