HMS Despatch (D30)

HMS Despatch was a Danae-class light cruiser built for the Royal Navy during World War I. She was part of the Delhi sub-class of the Danae class.

HMS Despatch in October 1939
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Despatch
Ordered: March 1918
Builder: Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Govan
Laid down: 8 July 1918
Launched: 24 September 1919
Commissioned: 2 June 1922
Identification: Pennant number D30
Fate: Sold for scrap, 5 April 1946
General characteristics (as built)
Class and type: Danae-class light cruiser
Displacement: 4,970 long tons (5,050 t)
  • 445 ft (135.6 m) p/p
  • 472 ft 6 in (144.0 m) o/a
Beam: 46 ft 9 in (14.2 m)
Draught: 16 ft 11 in (5.16 m) (mean, deep load)
Installed power:
Propulsion: 2 × shafts; 2 × geared steam turbines
Speed: 29 kn (54 km/h; 33 mph)
Complement: 460
Notes: Received a Le Cheminant deck watch from the Royal Observatory on 23 January 1933.[1]

Design and description

The Delhi sub-class was identical with the preceding ships except that their bows were raised for better seakeeping. The ships were 472 feet 6 inches (144.0 m) long overall, with a beam of 46 feet 9 inches (14.2 m) and a mean deep draught of 16 feet 11 inches (5.2 m). Displacement was 4,970 long tons (5,050 t) at normal[2] and 5,250 long tons (5,330 t) at deep load. Despatch was powered by two Brown-Curtis steam turbines, each driving one propeller shaft, which produced a total of 40,000 indicated horsepower (30,000 kW). The turbines used steam generated by six Yarrow boilers which gave her a speed of about 29 knots (54 km/h; 33 mph). She carried 1,050 long tons (1,067 t) tons of fuel oil. The ship had a crew of about 450 officers and other ranks.[3]

Despatch was armed with six centreline BL 6-inch (152 mm) Mk XII guns.[3] One superfiring pair of guns was forward of the bridge, another pair were fore and aft of the two funnels and the last two were in the stern, with one gun superfiring over the rearmost gun. The two QF 4 inch Mk V naval gun anti-aircraft guns were positioned on elevated platforms between the funnels and the QF 2-pounder "pom-pom" AA guns were amidships on the upper deck.[4] The ships were equipped with a dozen 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes in four triple mounts, two on each broadside.[3]

Construction and career

She was laid down by Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company on 8 July 1918, launched on 24 September 1919,[5] towed to Chatham Dockyard,[6] and completed there on 15 June 1922.[5]

Despatch had a relatively quiet wartime career, compared to her sisters. She was operating in the South Atlantic for the early part of the war, where she captured the German freighter SS Düsseldorf and intercepted the German merchant ship Troja. The crew of Troja scuttled her, however, before the ship could be captured. She was in the Mediterranean, escorting convoys in late 1940, and became involved in Operation White and the Battle of Cape Spartivento. By the battle of Cape Spartivento as part of Force "B", a sub-unit of Force "H", Gibraltar.

Despatch was present at the Normandy landings in June 1944 under the command of Commander R.T. White D.S.O.** (later Captain R.T. White D.S.O.**, 2nd son of Sir Archibald White, Bt. of Wallingwells). She was the headquarters ship for the Mulberry harbours. Whilst at Mulberry 'B' Despatch was present for the visit of H.M. King George VI. For her HQ Ship role, Despatch had had all her original guns removed and replaced with 16 Bofors 40 mm Anti-Aircraft guns manned by army gunners from 127th (Queen's) Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery, to support her role as "Traffic Control" in building the Mulberry Harbour at Arromanches. Commander White was allocated landing pass "number one" for Arromanches.[7][8]

Despatch was reduced to reserve in January 1945, and sold on 5 April 1946 for scrapping. She arrived at the yards of Arnott Young, of Troon, Scotland on 5 May 1946 to be broken up.[9]


  1. Ledger of Receipts and Issues of Chronometers. Held by the Royal Observatory, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, UK. Le Cheminant Deck Watch No. 217240
  2. Friedman 2010, p. 388
  3. Gardiner & Gray, p. 62
  4. Raven & Roberts, pp. 88–89
  5. Whitley, p. 73
  6. Raven & Roberts, p. 84
  7. 76th Anti-Aircraft Brigade War Diary, 1944, The National Archives (TNA), Kew, file WO 171/1084.
  8. Routledge, pp. 305, 311; Table XLIX, p. 319.
  9. Whitley, p. 76


  • Chesneau, Roger, ed. (1980). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922–1946. Greenwich, UK: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-146-7.
  • Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) [1969]. Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8.
  • Fechter, Helmut; Hümmelchen, Gerhard (1972). Seekriegsatlas : Mittelmeer, Schwarzes Meer : 1940–1943. München: J. F. Lehmanns Verlag. ISBN 9783469002983.
  • Friedman, Norman (2010). British Cruisers: Two World Wars and After. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Seaforth. ISBN 978-1-59114-078-8.
  • Friedman, Norman (2011). Naval Weapons of World War One. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Seaforth. ISBN 978-1-84832-100-7.
  • Gardiner, Robert & Gray, Randal, eds. (1985). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1906–1921. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-85177-245-5.
  • Newbolt, Henry (1996). Naval Operations. History of the Great War Based on Official Documents. V (reprint of the 1931 ed.). Nashville, Tennessee: Battery Press. ISBN 0-89839-255-1.
  • Raven, Alan & Roberts, John (1980). British Cruisers of World War Two. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-922-7.
  • Rohwer, Jürgen (2005). Chronology of the War at Sea 1939–1945: The Naval History of World War Two (Third Revised ed.). Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-119-2.
  • Routledge, Brigadier N.W. (1994) History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery: Anti-Aircraft Artillery 1914–55, London: Royal Artillery Institution/Brassey's, ISBN 1-85753-099-3.
  • Whitley, M. J. (1995). Cruisers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. London: Cassell. ISBN 1-86019-874-0.
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