HMS Dorsetshire

The Ship

Bombed and sunk by Japanese dive-bombers 5 April 1942

HMS Dorsetshire (pennant number 40) was a heavy cruiser of the Royal Navy, named after the English county (now called Dorset). She was launched on 29 January 1929 at Portsmouth Dockyard, UK. In 1931 she was part of the Atlantic Fleet during the Invergordon Mutiny but the incident was brought to a close before her crew joined the mutiny.

In World War II, she was commanded latterly by the famous hero, Captain Augustus Agar V.C.

In late May 1941, Dorsetshire was one of the ships which engaged the German battleship Bismarck in the North Atlantic. On 27 May Dorsetshire was ordered to torpedo Bismarck, which had by that point been crippled by repeated aircraft and naval attacks. Bismarcks crew however had already begun the process of scuttling the ship, which then sank rapidly. Dorsetshire was able to recover only 115 of Bismarck's crew from the sea, before being forced to evade a suspected U-boat.

On 21 November 1941, Dorsetshire was involved in sinking Atlantis (the "Raider C") which had preyed on Allied shipping. She also chanced upon the German supply ship Python on 1 December 1941, which was refueling U-boats in the South Atlantic. The submarines dived, and one of them fired torpedoes at Dorsetshire which missed. The crew of Python scuttled their ship.

In 1942 Dorsetshire was assigned to the Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean. In the Indian Ocean raid, Dorsetshire and her sister ship Cornwall were attacked by Japanese dive-bombers 320 km southwest of Ceylon on 5 April 1942. Dorsetshire was hit by ten bombs and sank quickly at about 13:50; Cornwall was hit eight times and sank about ten minutes later. Of Dorsetshire's crew, 234 men were killed in the attack; more than 500 survived in the water or on rafts to be picked up by the cruiser Enterprise and the destroyers Paladin and Panther the next day. Captain Agar was among the survivors.

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