HMS Aurora

The Ship

Sold 19 May 1948

HMS Aurora (12) was the Arethusa class cruiser for the Royal Navy. She was built by Portsmouth Dockyard (Portsmouth, UK), with the keel being laid down on the 27 July 1935. She was launched on the 20 August 1936, and commissioned 12 November 1937.

Aurora served with the Home Fleet from completion as Rear Admiral (D). In September 1939 she was with the 2nd Cruiser Squadron, escorting convoys to Scandinavia and engaged on the hunt for Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. After the Norwegian Campaign she participated in the operations hunting Bismarck and, with Kenya, intercepted one of the German supply ships, Belchen, on 3 June 1941.

Between July and August 1941, as part of Force "K" with the Home Fleet, she was involved in operations to Spitzbergen and Bear Island (operation Gauntlet). After one of these sorties, in company with Nigeria, she intercepted a German troop convoy off North Norway, and the German Bremse was sunk. In the autumn she was transferred to the Mediterranean and arrived in Malta on 21 October 1941 to join a new Force "K". On 9 November 1941, Force "K", made up of Aurora and Penelope and destroyers Lance and Lively, intercept an Italian convoy some 130 south-west off Calabria in approximate position 37.08 N 18.09 E. The Italian convoy was bound from Naples to Tripoli.

In the resulting Battle of the Duisburg Convoy the Italian destroyer Fulmine was sunk as well as the German transports Duisburg and San Marco, the Italian transports Maria, Sagitta and Rina Corrado, and the Italian Conte di Misurata and Minatitlan. The Italian destroyers Grecale and Euro were damaged.

On 19 December 1941, While on their way to intercept an Italian convoy bound for Tripoli the British Force "K", Aurora, Neptune, Penelope and the destroyers Kandahar, Lance, Lively and Havock ran into a newly laid Italian minefield. Neptune and Kandahar sank while Aurora was badly damaged, while Penelope was only lightly damaged. Aurora was patched up at Malta before she sailed home on 29 March 1942 for full repair at Liverpool, which took until the end of June 1942.

After her return to the Mediterranean she joined Force "H", and in November was part of the Centre Task Force for the Landings in North Africa, Operation Torch. Off Oran, she engaged the Vichy French torpilleurs Tramontane and Tornade on 8 November 1942, sinking the latter and damaging the former so badly that she had to be beached. The following day she badly damaged the contre-torpilleur Epervier and drove her ashore. By December she was operating as part of Force "Q" at Bne against the Axis evacuation and supply convoys between Trapani and Tunis.

Then, as a unit of the 15th Cruiser Squadron, she participated in the invasion of Sicily and the Salerno landings (Operation Avalanche) before moving into the Aegean in October 1943. During operations in that area she was damaged by bombs off Castelorizo on 30 October, and withdrew to Taranto for repairs which lasted until April 1944. In August 1944 she was at the landings in the south of France, then returned to the Aegean, where she assisted in the liberation of Athens.

After the war Aurora was sold on 19 May 1948 to the Chinese Navy and renamed Chung King. Later she defected to the Communists and was renamed Tchoung King. In March 1949 she was sunk in Taku harbour by Nationalist aircraft. She was later salvaged, but is not believed to have become operational again, although she was subsequently renamed Hsuang Ho (1951), Pei Ching (1951) and Kuang Chou.

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