HMS Liverpool (C11)

HMS Liverpool (C11)

HMS "Liverpool" (C11) was a Town class light cruiser of the British Royal Navy in service from 1938 to 1952. Named after the port city of Liverpool in north west England, she served in the Second World War and with the Mediterranean Fleet from 1945 until her decommission. During the Second World War, the cruiser operated variously with the naval stations in the East Indies and China and with the Mediterranean and Home fleets. Seriously damaged in two attacks by torpedo bombers, "Liverpool" gained four battle honours for her service. An aerial attack in 1943 proved to be the ship's final combat experience of the war. For its duration, "Liverpool" underwent repairs and refitting at Rosyth, Scotland. She returned to service in 1945, decommissioned in 1952, and dismantled for scrap in 1958 after six-years of reserve status.


East Indies and China stations

Procured as a direct counter to the American "Brooklyn" and Japanese "Mogami" classes, the Towns consisted of three variants for a total of 10 ships. [Brown, David K. (2004), "The Eclipse of the Big Gun", p2] "Liverpool" was one of the three Town cruisers — the others being "Gloucester" and "Manchester" — ordered to a slightly revised design referred to variously as the "Gloucester", [Helgason, Guðmundur (2008), [ Gloucester class] , Accessed 4 April 2008] Type II, or "Liverpool" sub-class. [Bishop, Chris (2002), "The Encyclopedia of weapons of World War II", p493] When first ordered in the mid-1930s, the original Town class cruisers "Newcastle" and "Southampton" were to have been called "Minotaur" and "Polyphemus" on commission.Bassett, Ronald (1988), "HMS Sheffield: The Life and Times of "Old Shiny", p7] [ In Ronald Bassett's "HMS Sheffield: The Life and Times of "Old Shiny", it was speculated that the entire class would have conformed to a theme representative of Greek history and mythos had the Admiralty decided against renaming the two vessels]

She was laid down at Govan on 17 February 1936 and launched on 24 March 1937 by the wife of the Governor of the Bank of England. Commissioned on 2 November 1938, "Liverpool" was assigned to the East Indies Station under the command of Captain A.D. Read. [ A City’s Gift to Warship. H.M.S. Liverpool in the Mersey] , The Times, 9 January 1939, Accessed 31 March 2008.] Before her departure, "Liverpool" visited her namesake port in January 1939. The Liverpool Woman’s Service Bureau presented the cruiser with a Union flag and White Ensign while the Corporation gave the crew "three pairs of candlesticks, a silver cup, and two bugles". She had already received a silver bell and plate originally in the possession of her predecessor.

Part of the 5th Cruiser Squadron, "Liverpool" began to operate in a combat capacity in September monitoring the Persian Gulf for potential enemy activity. "Liverpool" transferred to the China Station in November and became involved in a diplomatic incident when she intercepted the Japanese passenger liner "Asama Maru" on 21 January 1940. Alerted to reports that German sailors in the United States were preparing to arrange transport to Germany, the British Government had authorised the Commander-in-Chief of the China Station to direct a warship to board the "Asama Maru" and detain 21 suspected passengers provided the procedure did not occur within sight of the coast of Japan. Just convert|35|mi|km from the coast of Niijima, Japan, "Liverpool" located the liner and removed 21 of the ship's passengers believed to be survivors of the scuttled German liner "Columbus".Marder, Arthur Jacob (1981), "Old Friends, New Enemies: The Royal Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy", p106] The Government of Japan condemned it as an abuse of belligerent rights and formally protested the action, which further escalated tensions between the two countries.

"Liverpool" rejoined the East Indies Station in April, and became flagship of Rear-Admiral Arthur Murray's Red Sea Force.Waters, Sydney David (1956), [ The Royal New Zealand Navy] , Accessed 12 April 2008.] Alongside HMAS "Hobart", "Liverpool" operated off the coast of Italian-occupied Somaliland just before the beginning of the East African Campaign, and later escorted a convoy transporting contingents from the Australian and New Zealand militaries. Redeployment to the Mediterranean was ordered in June, upon which "Liverpool" relinquished her status as flagship with the transfer of Admiral Murray to the New Zealand cruiser "Leander".


In her first month assigned to the 7th Cruiser Squadron of the Mediterranean Fleet, "Liverpool" engaged Italian warships on two separate occasions. She first encountered Italian vessels off the coast of Libya on 12 June. "Liverpool" and "Gloucester" were in the process of shelling positions near Tobruk when they attacked multiple Italian craft and sank the minesweeper "Giovanni Berta". On the 28th, a British Short Sunderland patrol aircraft detected three Italian destroyers west of Zante.Titterton, G.A. (2002), pp22-3] The 7th Cruiser Squadron — comprising "Gloucester", "Neptune", "Orion", "Liverpool" and HMAS "Sydney" — was on deployment in support of an Allied convoy when it altered course to locate and engage the destroyers; these were sighted convert|60|mi|km south-west of Cape Matapan by "Liverpool".The ensuing action, carried out at a minimum range of over convert|14000|yd|m, became known as the Battle of the Espero Convoy and resulted in the destruction of the Italian "Espero". Ammunition had been rapidly depleted and by the close of the action "Liverpool" had almost expended the contents of her shellrooms, reporting that each gun had 40 shells remaining.Stevens, David, "The Royal Australian Navy", p68] The Admiralty later criticised the squadron's expenditure of over 5,000 rounds, which Admiral Andrew Cuningham, C-in-C of the Mediterranean Fleet, attributed to the squadron's inexperience and his belief of the necessity to confront the Italian warships before nightfall.

In July, "Liverpool" was involved in the Battle of Calabria and targeted by Italian aircraft while at sea in support of Allied convoys. Two attacks resulted in direct hits, causing minor damage and one fatality. When the Mediterranean Light Forces restructured in August, "Liverpool" switched to the 3rd Cruiser Squadron and grouped with "Gloucester" and "Kent" under command of Rear-Admiral Edward de Faye Renouf. [Titterton, G.A. (2002), p62] She continued to provide cover for convoys in the Mediterranean and undertook other duties, such as escorting "Illustrious" when the aircraft carrier entered the eastern theatre of operations in September. On the 28th, as part of Operation MB.5, "Liverpool" and "Gloucester" proceeded to Malta transporting 1,200 reinforcements, airmen, and RAF provisions.Titterton (2002), p70] The cruisers — briefly protected from the 29th by a force consisting of the battleships "Valiant" and "Warspite", "Illustrious" with her aircraft, cruisers "Orion", "Sydney", and "York", and 11 destroyers — came under repeated aerial attack. [Mason, Geoffrey B. (2003), [ Service History of Royal Navy warships in World War 2: HMS Gloucester - Town-type Light Cruiser] , Accessed 21 April 2008.] Both cruisers later detached from the naval force and reached the island on the 30th.

While supporting operations against the island of Leros on 14 October, Italian torpedo-bombers attacked "Liverpool" setting the cruiser's petrol tank alight. An explosion in the warship's magazine followed which seriously compromised "Liverpool"'s bow structure and inflicted damage to "A" turret. [Cunningham, Andrew (1951), "A Sailor's Odyssey: The Autobiography of Admiral of the Fleet, Viscount Cunningham", p279] While under stern tow by "Orion" the next day, "Liverpool's" bow severed from the hull. She arrived at the port of Alexandria on the 16th and would not return to a state of sea worthiness until March 1941. Once able to embark on a prolonged voyage, "Liverpool" proceeded to the United States, via the Indian and Pacific Oceans, to have her bow reconstructed at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, California. The ship's presence was not disclosed until September when the US Navy Department released a list identifying 12 ships situated in various ports. ["British Warships Here at least 12; Navy Lists Warspite, 2 Car-riers, 4 Cruisers Among the Vessels Now in Our Ports", New York Times, 20 September 1941] She departed the United States and returned to Britain in December principally to complete the refit of her radar systems.

After returning to active service, "Liverpool" became subordinate to the 18th Cruiser Squadron. Between March and May, she performed routine duties in the North Western Approaches and deployed in support of three Arctic convoys. The cruiser rejoined the Mediterranean Fleet in June and subsequently participated in the Malta Convoys. Severe damage was sustained during Operation Harpoon when her starboard side was struck by an aerial torpedo on 14 June. Casualties were reported in the ship's log as being 15 killed and 22 wounded. [ Notes taken from Liverpool’s Log] , Accessed 12 April 2008.] Reduced to convert|4|kn|km/h and partially flooded, "Liverpool" was towed to a naval base at Gibraltar by "Antelope", later replaced by the tug "Salvonia", for initial repairs. Italian torpedo-bombers had continued to attack the two cruisers into the 15th without a hit on either being recorded. The warship returned to Britain in August for permanent repair. "Liverpool" was maintained at Rosyth for two-years and consequently made unavailable for the duration of the war. She was not assigned sufficient personnel until 1945 as other ships had priority over the cruiser for the allocation of manpower.


Refitted with upgraded radar equipment and additional anti-aircraft weaponry in place of "X" turret, "Liverpool" returned to service in October 1945 to join the 15th Cruiser Squadron of the Mediterranean Fleet. In her first year, "Liverpool" relieved "Arethusa" as guardship at Trieste and visited the Soviet port of Sevastopol. [Mason, Geoffrey B (2007), [ HMS Arethusa British light cruiser, WW2] , Accessed 19 April 2008.] [Mason, Geoffrey B (2007), [ Chronology of Royal Navy Events, 1946-1950] , Accessed 19 April 2008.] The cruiser transported Olympic torches and related items in April 1948 in preparation for the ceremonial prelude to the Summer Olympic Games in London. [ [ Olympic Games Torch-Relay] , Accessed 7 April 2008.]

While docked in the harbour of Alexandria, Egypt on 22 January 1950, "Liverpool" entertained King Farouk. Given a 21-gun salute by the cruiser, Farouk was met by Lord Mountbatten and the Ambassador to Egypt. The king later expressed his "pleasure at the visit and at renewing my acquaintance with the Royal Navy." [Citation |last = Correspondent | title = Royal Navy entertains King Farouk | newspaper = The Times |issue=51596 | pages =Col D, p3 | date =1950-01-23] In September 1951, "Liverpool" became the first British warship to visit Yugoslavia since the beginning of the war and was inspected by the country's leader Marshal Tito in the city of Split. [Royal Institute of International Affairs (1955), "Chronology of International Events", p567] Following the abrogation of the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty in October 1951, the Royal Navy dispatched vessels to Port Said where dock workers had declared a strike in protest at the British administration of the Suez Canal Zone. The cruisers "Gambia" and "Liverpool" consecutively assumed responsibility for dock operations, supplied men to replace unavailable workers and guarded against guerilla attacks on facilities. [Wettern, Desmond (1982), "The Decline of British Seapower", p59]

Upon decommission in 1952, "Liverpool" entered the reserve at Portsmouth Naval Dockyard. Gradual rationalisation of the Royal Navy began in earnest in the 1950s and the reserve fleet abolished by Duncan Sandys' 1957 Defence White Paper. With the complete withdrawal from service of wartime cruisers by the 1960s, the roles of "Liverpool" and her contemporaries were effectively superseded by the County class guided missile destroyers and the three missile cruisers of the "Tiger" class. [O'Brien, Phillips Payson (2001), "Technology and Naval Combat in the 20th Century and Beyond", p189] "Liverpool" was sold in 1958 for breaking up at Bo'Ness, Scotland.



*Mason, Geoffrey B. (2004), [ Service History of Royal Navy warships in World War 2: HMS Liverpool - Town-type Light Cruiser] , Accessed 31 March 2008
*Titterton, G.A. (2002), The Royal Navy and the Mediterranean, Routledge ISBN 0714651796

External links

*Helgason Helgason (2008), [ HMS Liverpool (11)] , Accessed 3 April 2008.
* [ HMS Liverpool (C11)] , Accessed 3 April 2008.
* [ HMS Liverpool: History] , Accessed 3 April 2008.

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