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HMS Anson, British battleship, WW2

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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2003

HMS ANSON - King George V-class 14in gun Battleship
including Convoy Escort Movements

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net; additional material & editing by Mike Simmonds

HMS Anson in 1945
(Navy Photos, click images for enlargement)

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KING GEORGE V-Class Battleship ordered from Swan Hunter of Newcastle on 28th April 1937 under the 1937 build programme and laid down on 20th July that year. Originally the ship was to be named JELLICOE but this was changed to ANSON before launch on 24th February 1940.  The 10th RN ship intended to carry this name, introduced for a 4th Rate in 1736, and lastly carried by an 1886 battleship sold in 1909. Build was completed on 22nd June 1942. She was adopted by the civil community of the City of London following a National Savings WARSHIP WEEK Campaign in March 1942.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


THE SAINTES 1782 - DONEGAL 1798 - CURACOA 1807  - ARCTIC 1942-43


H e r a l d i c   Data

Badge: On a Field per fess wavy blue and white out of a ducal

           Coronet gold a spear head proper.



Nil desperandum: Never despair



D e t a i l s   o f   S e r v i c e


 1 9 4 2



                14th        Commissioned for trials.


May                        Contractors trials.



                22nd       Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials.

                                Commanding Officer: Captain R G Kinaham, CBE, RN)

                                (Note: On measured mile during trials achieved speed of 27.62 knots).

                                Took passage to Scapa Flow for completion of trials and for gunnery firings.

                28th        Flag Officer Second-in Command, Home Fleet joined ship.


July to August      Worked-up for operational service at Scapa Flow with ships of Home Fleet. to




September             Ready for operational service with Home Fleet.

                2nd         Took passage from Scapa Flow to Hvalfjord.

                4th          Arrived at Hvalfjord.

                9th          Took passage to Akureyri.

                11th        Deployed with HM Battleship DUKE OF YORK and HM Cruiser JAMAICA screened

                                by HM Destroyers MONTROSE, BRAMHAM, KEPPEL and MACKAY to provide

                                Distant Cover for passage of Russian Convoy PQ18 and return Convoy QP14.

                                (For details of all Russian convoy operations see CONVOYS TO RUSSIA by R A

                                Ruegg, CONVOY! by P Kemp, ARCTIC CONVOY by R Woodman and THE RUSSIAN

                                CONVOYS by B Schofield.)

                14th        Returned to Akureyri with HMS DUKE OF YORK.

                                Passage to Scapa Flow.


 October                 Deployed at Scapa Flow

                9th          Present at Scapa Flow during visit by Prime Minister and Sir Stafford Cripps to

                                Home Fleet.

                                Passage to Iceland for interception of commerce raiders.


November              Home Fleet deployment in continuation in Iceland area and at Scapa Flow.



                22nd       Sailed from Akureyri to provide Distant Cover for passage of Russian Convoy JW51B with

                                HM Cruiser CUMBERLAND, HM Destroyers BLANKNEY, FORESTER,

                                CHIDDINGFOLD, ICARUS and IMPULSIVE.

                31st         Convoy JW 51B was attacked in Barents Sea by the German Panzerschiff (Pocket Battleship)

                                KMS LÜTZOW, the heavy cruiser KMS HIPPER and 6 destroyers but the covering force was

                                patrolling 1000 miles to the west, north east of Jan Mayen Island and was unable to intervene.


1 9 4 3


January                  Passage to Scapa Flow from patrol area.

                3rd          Resumed Fleet duties at Scapa Flow.

                23rd        Deployed with HM Cruiser SHEFFIELD, HM Destroyers ECHO, ECLIPSE,

                                FAULKNOR, INGLEFIELD, MONTROSE, QUEENBOROUGH, RAIDER and

                                Polish destroyer ORP ORKAN to provide Distant Cover for passage of

                                Russian Convoy JW52 and return Convoy RA52

                27th        Remained in Arctic after arrival of JW52 at Kola Inlet

                30th        Provided Distant Cover for RA52 with HMS SHEFFIELD screened by HM

                                Destroyers INGLEFIELD, OBEDIENT, ORIBI and ORP ORKAN,



                2nd         Took passage to return to Scapa Flow on completion of covering duties.


March to May        Deployed for interception of commerce raiders with Home Fleet ships at

                                  Scapa Flow and in Iceland area.


June                        Deployed at Scapa Flow.

                9th          Provided cover for relief of Anglo- Norwegian garrison at Spitzbergen with

                                HMS DUKE OF YORK, US battleships USS SOUTH DAKOTA and ALABAMA

                                screened by five US Navy destroyers (Operation GEARBOX).

                                (Note: These US Navy warships had been transferred for loan service with

                                to reinforce Home Fleet after HM Battleships KING GEORGE V and

                                HOWE were detached for service in Mediterranean for planned allied

                                landings in Sicily (Operation HUSKY)

                13th        On release from GEARBOX took passage to Scapa Flow with covering


                28th        Vice Admiral Bruce Fraser left ship on promotion to Admiral and relieved by

                                Vice Admiral Sir Henry Moore as VA2 (Second in Command) Home Fleet


 July                        Home Fleet deployment at Scapa Flow in continuation.

                27th        Deployed with HM Aircraft Carriers ILLUSTRIOUS and UNICORN for

                                repeat diversion operation to simulate possible allied landing in south

                                Norway as a diversion during HUSKY, the invasion of Sicily.

                                (Note: Ships involved included HMS DUKE OF YORK and seven cruisers

                                screened by RN and USN destroyers (Operation GOVERNOR).

                                The earlier Operation CAMERA was carried out on 7th July.)



                1st           (Note: US ships were withdrawn from loan service.)

                                Took passage for refit and routine docking,

                                (Note: HM King George VI visited Home Fleet ships at Scapa Flow on 11th

                                August. Presence of ship is to be confirmed)


September             Resumed Home Fleet duties at Scapa Flow.

                8th          Deployed with HMS DUKE OF YORK and screen of five Home Fleet

                                destroyers to intercept German battleships TIRPITZ and SCHARNHORST

                                which had carried out bombardment of Spitzbergen.

                9th          Returned to Scapa Flow after German warships reported as returned to



October                  Home Fleet deployment in continuation.

                4th          Part of Home Fleet cover with HMS DUKE OF YORK, US cruisers

                                TUSCALOOSA, three RN cruisers and screen of RN and USN destroyers

                                during air strikes by US aircraft carrier USS RANGER on shipping at Bodo

                                on coast of Norway (Operation LEADER).

                6th          Returned to Scapa Flow with Home Fleet ships.

                14th        Deployed with HM Destroyers HAIDA (RCN), IROQUOIS (RCN), HARDY,

                                JANUS and VIGILANT to land relief stores for allied garrison at

                                Spitzbergen (Operation GEARBOX III/FQ.)



                2nd         Provided Distant Cover for return Convoy RA54 from Kola Inlet with HM

                                Aircraft Carrier FORMIDABLE, HM Cruisers JAMAICA screened by HM

                                Destroyers ONSLOW, VENUS, HAIDA (RCN), Norwegian STORD, US

                                destroyers USS CAPPS and USS HOBSON.

                19th        Deployed with USS TUSCALOOSA and screened by US Navy destroyers

                                USS CORRY, USS FITCH, USS FORREST and USS HOBSON to provide

                                Distant Cover for passage of Russian Convoy JW54A to Kola Inlet.

                28th        Provided Distant Cover for passage of Russian Convoy JW54B during

                                passage to Kola Inlet and return Convoy RA54B with HM Cruiser BELFAST

                                screened by HM Destroyers ASHANTI, MATCHLESS, MUSKETEER and


                29th        HMS MATCHLESS detached with weather damage.


December              Detached from RA54B and returned to Scapa Flow.

                                (Note: Extreme weather conditions were experience during the cover of

                                JW54B and destroyers were temporarily detached.)

                                Deployed at Scapa Flow for Home Fleet duties.


1 9 4 4


January                  Home Fleet service based at Scapa Flow in continuation.



                24th        Deployed with Free French battleship RICHELIEU and two Home Fleet cruisers

                                to provide cover for HMS FURIOUS during series air strikes on Norwegian coast

                                (Operation BAYLEAF).


March                    Home Fleet deployment at Scapa Flow in continuation.

                30th        Sailed from Scapa Flow with HMS DUKE OF YORK, HM Aircraft Carriers

                                VICTORIOUS and FURIOUS, HM Cruisers BELFAST, ROYALIST, SHEFFIELD and

                                JAMAICA, HM Escort Aircraft Carriers EMPEROR, FENCER. PURSUER and

                                SEARCHER screened by HM Destroyers MILNE, URSA, ONSLAUGHT, VERULAM,


                                ALGONQUIN (RCN), SIOUX (RCN) and Polish ORP PIORUN to provide Distant

                                Cover for passage of Russian Convoy JW58 to Kola Inlet and for air attacks on

                                German battleship TIRPITZ at Altenfjord (Operation TUNGSTEN)



                2nd         HMS DUKE OF YORK and two destroyers detached to provide Distant Cover for


                3rd          Provided cover during strikes by aircraft from carriers. (For details see CONVOY!

                                by P Kemp)

                4th          Second series of strikes abandoned and took return passage to Scapa Flow.

                6th          Arrived at Scapa Flow with Fleet units.

                21st         Sailed from Scapa Flow with HMS VICTORIOUS, HMS FURIOUS, HMS

                                SEARCHER, HMS STRIKER, HMS EMPEROR and PURSUER, Home Fleet cruisers

                                and destroyer screen to provide cover during further series of air strikes on

                                TIRPITZ (Operation PLANET)

                                (Note: HMS DUKE OF YORK did not take part.)

                25th        Air operations postponed because of weather conditions.

                                See above reference.

                26th        TIRPITZ attacks cancelled in view of weather and carried out on secondary

                                target of shipping near Bodo.


May                        Scapa Flow deployment in continuation.

                12th        Deployed to provide cover for air strikes by HMS VICTORIOUS and HMS

                                FURIOUS on TIRPIRTZ with Home Fleet cruisers and destroyer screen.

                                (Note: This operation was cancelled and ships returned to Scapa Flow.


June                        Nominated for refit at Devonport to prepare for service in British Pacific Fleet.

                                Took passage to Devonport to Pay-off.


July                         Paid-off and taken in hand for refit by HM Dockyard.

                                (Note: During the nine month refit extensive changes were made to the radar

                                equipment and to improve close range AA defence prior to service in the

                                Pacific. Radar changes included:

                                Aircraft warning Type 281 replaced by single mast 281B.

                                Surface warning Type 273 replaced by Type 293 and Type 277.

                                Close Range AA fire-control replaced by four Type 262 and single

                                Type 282 retained.

                                4 AA Fire-control Type 285 replaced by Type 274. Barrage Control Type 283

                                fitted for all four mountings.

                                (Note: Main Armament Fire Control Type 284 replaced by two Type 274 to provide

                                separate facilities for forward and after turrets.

                                The aircraft facilities were removed to provide additional accommodation

                                and improved boat stowages.


July to December

                                Under refit


1 9 4 5


January to February

                               Under refit


March                    Recommissioned for service with British Pacific Fleet.

                                Commanding Officer Captain A C G Madden.

                                Post refit trials.


April                       On completion of sea trials took passage to Scapa Flow to work-up with

                                ships of Home Fleet for operational service in Pacific.

                                Trials including gunnery firings and weapon calibrations whilst working up at Scapa Flow.

                                (Note: Trials of newly developed surface warning radar Type 277P were carried out.)

                25th        Took passage to Mediterranean with HMS DUKE OF YORK.



                2nd         Arrived at Malta.

                                (Note: HMS DUKE OF YORK remained in Malta for repair of major

                                electrical defect.

                                Took independent passage to Ceylon via Suez Canal.


June                        Passage to Sydney


July                         Arrived in Sydney,  escorted by HM destroyers WAGER and WHELP,  after British Pacific

                                Fleet had sailed to join US 3rd Fleet as Task Force 37 to take part in operations off Japan

                                (Note: Further research is required for these months.)


August                  Deployed at Sydney

                                Nominated for duty at Hong Kong as part of re-occupation Task Force.

                                Took passage from Sydney.

                20th        Joined HM Light Fleet Aircraft Carrier VENGEANCE and ships of Task

                                Force 111 during passage to Hong Kong.

                26th        Arrived in Hong Kong and landed parties to assist in re-occupation and

                                repatriation of military and civil personnel taken prisoner in December

                                1941 when Colony fell to Japanese forces.


P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS ANSON was retained as part of the British Pacific Fleet and was deployed as Guardship at Tokyo after release from duties at Hong Kong. The ship went to Australia in 1946 and left the the BPF on 28th June that year when she took passage to return to UK. Arriving at Plymouth on 29th July she remained in service as part of the Training Squadron until 1949 when she Paid off into Reserve in November that year. After destoring the ship was towed to the Gareloch to be preserved before laying there in Reserve. Placed on the Disposal List in 1957 the ship was sold to Shipbreaking Industries for demolition and towed to the Breaker's yard as Faslane on 17th December 1957.







by Don Kindell


These convoy lists have not been cross-checked with the text above


Date convoy


 Joined convoy

as escort

 Convoy No.

Left convoy

Date convoy





PQ 018





QP 014





JW 051B





JW 052





RA 052





RA 054A





JW 054A





JW 054B





RA 054B




(Note on Convoys)


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revised 19/04//09



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