HMS Durban

The Ship

Scuttled 9 June 1944

HMS Durban

Type: Light cruiser
Class: D
Pennant: D 99
Built by: Scotts Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. (Greenock, Scotland)
Laid down: Jan, 1918
Launched: 29 May, 1919
Commissioned: 1 Nov, 1921
Lost: 9 Jun, 1944

History: Completed by Devonport Dockyard.

After commissioning HMS Durban joined the China Station 5th Light Cruiser Squadron in January 1922. In 1928 Durban was transferred to the America and West Indies Station. In 1930 The cruiser returned to the UK. In 1931 Durban joined the South Atlantic Division. By December 1933, Durban was relieved by the heavy cruiser HMS York and returned to the UK. In March 1934, the cruiser left for Gibraltar to join the Mediterranean Fleet. By September 1936 Durban returned to the UK and was placed into reserve

In September 1939, because of the outbreak of war Durban was brought forward for commissioning and joined the 9th Cruiser Squadron in the South Atlantic Command. In March 1940 she was in the Indian Ocean when Durban was transferred to the Far East Fleet based at Singapore where she became a unit of the British Malaysian Force. This consisted of her two sister ships HMS Danae and HMS Dauntless, the unit was formed to keep watch on German merchant ships in the Dutch East Indies harbours, her patrol area was off Padang. November, On 10 November 1940 the Norwegian tanker Ole Jacob (offsite link) reported being shelled midway between Ceylon, and the north end of Sumatra. The German raider Atlantis being named the attacker. The C-in-C East Indies immediately organised a hunting group comprising Durban and the cruisers HMS Capetown, HMAS Canberra and armed merchant cruiser HMAS Westralia. HMAS Canberra was at that time on passage to Australia after escorting a convoy to Bombay. The hunt proved unsuccessful.

In 1941 Durban was still based at Singapore with the cruiser HMS Dragon and tasked in the escorting of the convoys between Singapore and the Sunda Straits. In February, she escorted the Queen Mary from the Sunda Strait to Singapore, they reached their destination on the 18th, carrying the first Australian Imperial Force Troops for Malaya. In November, she escorted the trooper Zealandia from the Sunda Strait to Singapore, after relieving the Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney which had originally left Fremantle. Not long after this Sydney was involved in a skirmish with the German raider Kormoran, when both ships were sunk.

In January 1942 she was in the Dutch East Indies where Durban remained part of the formation of the China Force for convoy duties between Singapore, Sunda Straits and Java. In February while at Keppel Harbour, Singapore, Admiral Layton decided to move the Fleet to Java after the Japanese started their attack on Singapore, it was here where Durban was damaged by bombing, in company with Dragon they travelled at high speed and arrived at Tanjon Priok, the port of Batavia. Later temporary repairs were carried out at Colombo. Full repairs were carried out at New York in April, and further modifications were made in Portsmouth between June and August.

On 5 November 1942, convoy WS-23 arrived in South Africa from the UK with reinforcements, the convoy consisted of 5 ships and escort was provided by Durban and HMS Hawkins.

In February 1943 Durban sailed for New York for permanent repairs. By June the cruiser was docked in the Selborne dry dock at Simonstown, South Africa prior to joining the Eastern Fleet. In November, she returned to the UK to be paid off.

On 9 June 1944 Durban was expended to form part of Gooseberry 5 breakwater for protecting the artificial harbour off Ouistreham in the Seine Bay.
The wreck lies in 11 meters of water in position 49.20.44N, 00.16.08W.

My Postcards

Christmas card 1929.


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