HMS Sheffield (C24)

HMS Sheffield (C24)

HMS "Sheffield" (C24) was one of the "Southampton" sub class of the Town class cruisers of the Royal Navy during the Second World War. She took part in actions against several major German warships. Unlike most Royal Navy ships of her time, her fittings were constructed from stainless steel instead of the more traditional brass. This was an attempt to reduce the amount of cleaning required on the part of the crew. Her nickname, the "Shiny Sheff", stemmed from this.

War service

At the outbreak of war, "Sheffield" served with the 18th Cruiser Squadron, patrolling the Denmark Straits and then, in April 1940, she was engaged in the Norwegian Campaign. After a short spell carrying out anti-invasion duties in the English Channel, she joined Force H, based in Gibraltar. During that time, she operated in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic until the year's end.

In 1941, she participated in the shelling of Genoa (9 February), operations against Vichy convoys and supporting air reinforcements to Malta. In May, "Sheffield" took part in the sinking of the German battleship Bismarck, narrowly escaping a friendly fire torpedo attack by HMS "Ark Royal's" Fairey Swordfish aircraft. On 12 June, she located and sunk one of "Bismarck's" tankers, the "Friedrich Breme". After the destruction of another German supply ship, the "Kota Penang" in early October (with HMS "Kenya"), "Sheffield" returned to Britain.

She was occupied on Arctic convoys until hitting a mine off Iceland on 3 March 1942 and was under repair until July. After more Arctic convoys, "Sheffield" joined the forces supporting the Allied landings in North Africa (Operation Torch) in November. In December, "Sheffield" and "Jamaica" formed "Force R", under the command of Rear-Admiral Robert L. Burnett (in "Sheffield"), which provided cover for convoy JW51B. The convoy was attacked by a strong German surface force, but, in the ensuing action (Battle of the Barents Sea), the Germans withdrew and "Sheffield" sank the German destroyer "Friedrich Ekholdt".In February 1943, "Sheffield" moved to operate in the Bay of Biscay and, in July and August, she supported the landings at Salerno (Operation Avalanche). Returning yet again to the Arctic, she took part in the sinking of the battleship "Scharnhorst" off the north coast of Norway, in late December.

In 1944, "Sheffield" was an escort for the Royal Navy carrier force that executed a series of air attacks on the German battleship Tirpitz, between April and August. These had limited success and responsibility was passed to the Royal Air Force.

A lengthy refit in Boston and in Britain kept "Sheffield" out of action until after the end of the war.


The refit was completed in May 1946 and "Sheffield" alternated between duties in the West Indies (where in 1954 she served as flagship of the 8th Cruiser Squadron) and in home waters and the Mediterranean. There were further refits in 1949/50 and 1954. In 1954 she played the part of HMS "Ajax" in the war film "The Battle of the River Plate". She went into reserve in January 1959 and became flagship of the Home Fleet until September 1964, when she was placed on the disposal list.

Her equipment was removed at Rosyth in 1967 and was then broken up at Faslane in the same year. The stainless steel ship's bell, which was made by Hadfield's of Sheffield, was preserved and today hangs in Sheffield Cathedral along with her battle ensign.



*cite book|last=Chesneau|first=Roger (ed.)|title=Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1922-1946|year=1980|publisher=Conway Maritime Press|location=London|id=ISBN 0-85177-146-7
* [ HMS Sheffield at]
* [ HMS Sheffield - WWII cruisers]
*cite book
last = Whitley
first = M J
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Cruisers of World War 2: an International Encyclopedia
publisher = Arms & Armour Press
date = 1995
location = London
pages = pp 104 - 107
url =
doi =
id = ISBN 1-85409-225-1

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