Royal Navy and Maritime Book Reviews PROVIDED BY - Rob Jerrard
Ships in which Ron Jerrard served, H.M.S DEVONSHIRE, First Cruiser Squadron 1931 - 1934.

Built by Devonport Dockyard. Laid Down 16 March 1926. Launched 22 October 1927. Completed 18 March 1929. Training ship 1947-1953. Broken up by Cashmore, Newport, 1954. She was the oldest ship present at the 1953 Fleet Review.


HMS DEVONSHIRE (C39)

HMS DEVONSHIRE, 1931 - 1934
FIRST CRUISER SQUADRON
MEDITERRANEAN FLEET DETACHED ON SPECIAL SERVICE IN CHINA February 1932 -- March 1933.
Captain D. B. LE MOTTEE October 1931 -- March 1933 Captain L. F. POTTER March 1933 - February 1934
PLACES VISITED

PLYMOUTH, COLOMBO, HONG KONG, ST. RAPHAEL, ALEXANDRIA, GIBRALTAR, SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE, MALTA, GAVRION BAY, MALTA HONG KONG! PENANG CORFU MUDROS PORT AUGUSTA, AMOY, COLOMBO, DURAZZO, MILO, VATIKA BAY, WEI HAT WEI, ADEN, ANCONA, OROPOS BAY, MALTA, SHANGHAI, SUEZ, PORTO ROSE, NAVARIN, SYRACUSE, HANKOW, PORT SAID, SPLIT, MALTA, PORT SAID, WEI HAI WEI, MALTA, KOTOR, GIBBRALTAR, SUEZ, HONG KONG, POLLENZA BAY, MALTA, PLYMOUTH, ADEN, SHANGHAI, VADO, BEIRUT.
Distance Steamed 37,200 Miles,


Do you have a story to tell about Devonshire or Her Sister Ships the London, Sussex or Shropshire?

County Class Cruiser in Malta
I have the Commission book, given to me by my Grandmother, Elizabeth Annie Jerrard, Nee Dashwood. If you can fill in any details of the 1931 1934 period please do so.
FROM THE COMMISSIONING BOOK WRITTEN IN 1934

MALTA

And the silence was shattered by a bugle call, a long call and wild and armada of mighty galleons of steel moved in the calm blue waters between high bastions of yellow stone.

To most of you in England. the Royal Navy is but a name, an unseen power., the target of the calumny of Communists and pseudo-intellectuals with more resolutions than resolution.

In post-war years, you of the older generation have never known how much you owe to the Navy. There was a time not so long ago, a bare twenty years in fact, when you sang those old songs, extravagant perhaps in their appeal to patriotism, but none the less true, about the "Boys of the Bulldog Breed -, and "Hearts of Oak Are Our Ships", and over your tankard of porter, passed into the limbo of the lost like the ships you sang of, you chorused at the music halls, "All the Nice Girls Love a Sailor". They still do, you know.

Perhaps you read in your morning newspaper, between the bacon and the marmalade, of the Mediterranean Fleet paying a visit to some Continental ~. or, if you are a young man, you spare a glance for tile recruiting posters "Join the Navy and See the World---; but speaking generally, the Royal Navy doesn't steam into your ken.

We, in Malta, the base of Britain's largest Fleet, however, understand these things with the intimacy which makes for real understanding. The Mediterranean Fleet is part and parcel of us, even from the less pleasant, but in these days more emphasised, economic aspect. To us is given in plenty the humour, the work, the play and sometimes the tragedy of the Fleet. With us always are its indefinable grandeur, its traditions its humanity.

Some of you in England know that too, of course; you who remember the grey ships that swept the Northern seas during those five years that gave birth to the League of Nations, and the grim mockery of disarmament.

You will also remember, some dimly through the mist of lime, others with a tug at the heartstrings, the battered ships with weary men which crept back under the rain clouds from the sea wastes of Jutland. It's not so long ago, after all.

You in Portsmouth, Chatham, Devonport, Harwich and bleak Rosythe, remember only too well the anxious perusal of the daily casualty lists. Great memorials soar skywards to help you remember .....

In this book, we try to recapture your memory. These photographs speak louder and clearer than words. They depict the Mediterranean Fleet on duty, at work and at play, they give you a glimpse of the human element, although as the Bosun in---Westward Ho! " said:---Ships are as live as you an' me, an' as queer as women

Malta is an ideal setting for such pictures. A tiny and beautiful island of the Mediterranean, it has harboured the Fleets of the centuries and has been the base of British sea power in the Middle Sea since the days of Nelson. Before then the long painted galleys of the Knights of St. John swept out to fight the Corsairs of Barbary. Malta, now an island of peace, was well accustomed to battle, murder and sudden death. Yet earlier, its giant bastions defied the might of Islam. It was the last valiant island outpost of the Cross.

In conclusion, we express our warm thanks to the Naval authorities for their generous co-operation, and trust that this book will render a service to England by inculcating an appreciation of the Royal Navy, men and ships.

County Class Cruiser in Malta Malta, HMS Revenge with HMS LONDON in the Background REMEMBER THIS? Now you found out why as Boy seamen they taught you to climb a rope, if you want a cup of tea you need to climb back up, on a big ship it was a long climb.
HMS Cumberland - A Kent Class Cruiser

HMS Devonshire 1929-1954

By Neil McCart

In the 312 years since 1692 eight Royal Navy warships have borne the name Devonshire, and they have been associated with some of the famous names in naval history, including Russell at La Hogue, Hawke at Ushant, Anson at Finisterre, and Pocock at Havana in 1762.  Today, some 50 years after she went to the shipbreakers, the most famous Devonshire remains the heavy cruiser whose career spanned four decades, and many retired naval officers still have nostalgic memories of their first queasy days spent at sea in the training ship during the late 1940s or the early 1950s.

Laid down in March 1926 as one of four County-class cruisers, Devonshire was built at the South Yard of Devonport Royal Dockyard, and she was launched at midday on Sunday 23 October 1927 by Lady Elizabeth Mildmay, the wife of the Lord Lieutenant of Devon, who broke a bottle of Devonshire cider over the bows of the new cruiser.  With the ceremony over Devonshire was towed up the Hamoaze to the North Yard for fitting out.  Armed with eight Mk VIII 8-inch guns in four turrets (two forward and two aft), four single 4-inch high-angle guns, four 2-pdr pom-poms (12 more were added in March 1941), and eight 21-inch torpedo tubes, by the standards of the late 1920s Devonshire was a powerful cruiser.  She had an overall length of 633 feet, a beam of 66 feet, a draught of 22 feet and a displacement tonnage of 10,500.  Capable of speeds of over 32 knots, she was powered by a four-shaft arrangement of Parsons geared steam turbines which were built by Vickers Ltd of Barrow-in-Furness, with the steam being provided by eight Admiralty three-drum, superheat boilers.  In appearance, with her two tall tripod masts and three funnels, she closely resembled the units of the earlier Kent class, although she and her sisters were fitted with hangar space for three Walrus aircraft, together with a catapult.  She carried a complement of some 700 officers and men.

On 19 March 1929, 17 months after her launch, HMS Devonshire was commissioned into the Royal Navy and on 11 May, after carrying out trials at Portland, she sailed for Gibraltar.  Before joining the First Cruiser Squadron of the Mediterranean Fleet Devonshire, together with her sister Sussex, underwent an eight-week work-up period at Gibraltar before, on 8 July, she finally steamed east to Malta, arriving in Grand Harbour three days later.

Eight days after arriving on station, Devonshireand the rest of the Mediterranean Fleet sailed for manoeuvres in the Aegean Sea, off the island of Skiathos. Controlling the exercises was the C-in-C in his Royal Oak flagship and also taking part were Queen Elizabeth London and Sussex, together with units of the Third Destroyer Flotilla.  Arriving off Skiathos on 21 July the fleet lay at anchor, and while the senior officers planned the forthcoming manoeuvres the sailors were granted recreational leave for 'picnic and bathing parties'.  When they got under way Devonshire and the destroyers practised torpedo firing, after which there was gunnery practice.  At O800 on Friday 26 July the fleet weighed anchor, and within minutes London, Sussex and Devonshire had formed single line ahead in order to carry out a full calibre shoot.  At 08.45 there was a flurry of manoeuvring as Sussex, which was rejoining the line, almost collided with Devonshire; the latter’s stem did in fact touch Sussex's port quarter, but no damage was done and the exercise continued.  At 10.00 exactly Devonshire fired her first broadside, but practically simultaneously a huge explosion shook the ship.  A faulty breech mechanism in X turret had caused a shell and some cordite bags to ignite, and the force of the explosion blew the roof off the gun turret and started fires in the gun house and pump room. Fortunately these were soon extinguished, but the explosion took a heavy toll of the Royal Marines who were manning the turret.  One officer and six men were killed instantly, one of them being blown overboard.  Devonshire, meanwhile, made for the Greek port of Volos where 17 injured men were transferred to the hospital ship Maine.  However, 11 of these subsequently died and 16 of the victims were buried at Volos with full military honours.  Devonshire, with the guns of X turret awry, returned to Malta and from there proceeded to Devonport where, on 14 August 1929, her tragic first commission ended.

Most of Devonshire’s pre-war career was spent in the Mediterranean and on 3 December 1939, when war was declared, she was at Alexandria.  It was not long, however, before she returned to home waters to join the fleet at Scapa Flow. On 3 April she sailed from Rosyth as part of a battlefleet which included Rodney, Furious, Berwick and York, to set course for Norwegian waters. The force was acting as escort to two large minelaying groups which were to lay mine barrages off the Norwegian coast and during the afternoon of 9 April, the day that German forces invaded Denmark and Norway, Devonshire came under heavy air attack whilst she was off Stavanger.  One bomb exploded in the sea close to the ship's port side, abaft B turret, causing some slight damage, but it did not affect her operational capability.  During the naval battles at Narvik Devonshire was escorting Allied troop convoys to the port, and patrolling the northern Norwegian coastline, between Kirkenes, on the edge of the Barents Sea, to Tromso, north of Narvik.

In early May she assisted the Allied evacuation of Namsos and escorted a troop convoy to Scapa Flow, coming under heavy air attack from which she emerged unscathed.  By mid ­May Devonshire had returned Namsos to assist with the evacuation of Allied troops from that port and on 18 May she came under heavy air attack, with one of her Walrus aircraft being shot down and two crew members killed.  Throughout May and early June the cruiser remained in northern Norway and on 7 June, whilst anchored off Tromso, she embarked the King of Norway, together with the Crown Prince and 56 members of their staff and Norwegian Government officials.  Also embarked were over 400 rearguard troops and a number of political refugees, and after m fast three-day passage they were all  disembarked safely at Greenock.  For Devonshire there followed a transatlantic crossing to Halifax, NS, for a refit.

In mid-1941 Devonshire was once again operating from Scapa Flow, and some five weeks after the massive German invasion of Russia, the cruiser was involved in the first incursion by the Royal Navy into Arctic waters.  Devonshire was to escort the aircraft carriers Furious and Victorious well into the Barents Sea, from where bombing raids were to be mode on enemy shipping at Kirkenes and Petsamo. The force, which also included Suffolk and a destroyer screen, left Iceland's Seydis Fjord on 26 July 1941 to steam east and four days later aircraft from the two carriers made their attacks.  In the event, however, 15 aircraft were shot down and only superficial damage was inflicted on shipping in the two harbours.  By 5 August the force had returned to Scapa Flow.  Just over two weeks later, on 23 August, again in company with Victorious and the elderly Argus, Devonshire left Scapa Flow to escort the first Russian supply convoy of the Second World War, PQI, to Archangel.  On the last day of August Devonshire and other units of the escort force anchored in Spitzbergen’s Sardon Bay and with the convoy safely delivered, during the return passage aircraft from the to carriers attacked shipping, an aluminium plant and a power station in northern Norway.  By mid ­September the cruiser was back at Scapa Flow and preparing for service in warmer waters.

In late October 1941 Devonshire was in the South Atlantic, patrolling between Freetown and Simonstown, when trawlers of the South African Defence Force sighted a convoy of five French merchant ships, escorted by the French sloop D’Iberville, which was en route from vichy-held Madagascar into the South Atlantic and steaming well south of Cope Town.  Devonshire, which was at Simonstown, was ordered to intercept and on 1st November she sailed south.  Next day she rendezvoused with Colombo and the armed merchant cruiser Carthage, and they were later joined by Carnarvon Castle.  The French convoy was sighted during the afternoon and next day, having refused to be diverted to South African ports, the merchant ships were boarded and sent in to Cape Town with prize crews.  The sloop D’Iberville, being outgunned by the two cruisers and two armed merchant cruisers, was forced to part company with her convoy and move away to the west.  With the operation over Devonshire steamed into the Indian Ocean to escort the troopship Viceroy of India, after which she moved into the Atlantic Ocean to head north for Freetown.

Nine days after leaving Simonstown, at 07.10 on Saturday 22 November, in a position Lat 040 - I0'S/180 - 45'W, some 1,000 miles west of Gabon, the observer in the cruiser's Walrus aircraft sighted a suspicious merchant ship to the west.  Devonshire immediately altered course to close the position and 50 minutes later the merchant ship was sighted.  By this time the aircrewman had given a description of the ship and after consulting the weekly intelligence report and a copy of the 23 June 1941 issue of Life magazine, it was strongly suspected that the ship was the German armed raider Atlantis, or ‘Raider C' as she was known to British Intelligence.  The ship's frequent alterations of course deepened suspicions in the minds of those on Devonshire's bridge.

Atlantis, or ''Raider C', had been built in 1938 as MV Goldenfels, a 7,862-ton general cargo ship owned by the Hansa Line. On 30 November 1939, having been armed with six 150mm guns from the old 1906 battleship Schlesien, one 75mm bow gun, two twin 37mm and four 20mm guns, as well as four torpedo tubes and two Heinkel He 114B seaplanes, she was commissioned into the German Navy. After leaving Kiel in March 1940 and making a daring escape into the Atlantic she had ranged the Atlantic and Indian Oceans sinking or capturing 22 Allied merchant ships, including SS Automeden which was carrying top secret documents relating to Britain's garrison defences at Singapore.  On 22 November, however, she had been ordered to rendezvous with, and fuel, U 126, which is what she was doing when found by Devonshire.  Although the submarine made an emergency dive there was no escape for Atlantis.

Once Devonshire was within sight of the merchant ship, to frustrate any submarine attack, she manoeuvred to keep a distance of between 12,000 and 18,000 yards away, maintaining a speed of 26 knots with frequent alterations of course.  Devonshire signalled the merchantman to stop and to identify herself but no reply was received.  Instead she hoisted the ‘L' flag meaning, ‘Stop, I have something to communicate' and the ‘MT' flags meaning, ‘My engines are stopped'.  Apart from this she refused to answer any signals.  At 08.37 Devonshire fired two 8-inch salvoes to the left and right of the ship, hoping to provoke either a return of fire or to induce her to abandon ship.  At 08.40 Atlantis transmitted a raider report in the form ‘RRR RRR RRR de Polyphemus', a Dutch merchant ship which, eight weeks earlier, had called at Balboa.  By 09.34, however, Devonshire had received confirmation that this was false and a minute later, at a range of 17,500 yards, the cruiser opened fire with her main armament.  Devonshire's fourth salvo hit Atlantis's No 2 hold, setting it on fire and subsequently blowing up the magazine, and by 09.39 Atlantis herself was on fire and sinking.  At 10.14 there was a heavy explosion and two minutes later the raider sank.  With the strong

On 17 April 1941 the German raider Atlantis had sunk the Egyptian SS Zamzan with over 100 neutral US citizens on board, including the Life photographer David Scherman. It was his smuggled photograph which helped to identify the raider.

possibility of a U-boat in the area there was no question of stopping to rescue survivors and two days later Devonshire returned to Freetown.  Later that month and in early December she was back in the Atlantic Ocean carrying out an unsuccessful search for survivors of HMS Dunedin.

By May 1942 Devonshire was in the Indian Ocean as part of ‘Operation Ironclad', the invasion of strategic ports in Vichy-held Madagascar, and in the follow-up to this operation she escorted troop convoys, including the giant Cunarder Queen Mary, between Suez and Simonstown.  In July 1944 she formed part of the escort for the aircraft carriers Formidable and Indefatigable when they carried out air attacks on Tirpitz in Norway's Kaafjord and in December that year she escorted the carrier Trumpeter during minelaying operations off Norway.  During this latter operation she came under heavy air attack by JU88 torpedo bombers, one of which was shot down by the close-range armament.

In May 1945, when the war in Europe ended, Devonshire was at Scapa Flow and, accompanied by Apollo, Ariadne and other units, she then sailed for Oslo.  Embarked in Ariadne was Prince Olav of Norway who was returning for the first time since he had been evacuated from Tromso by Devonshire in June 1940.  During the visit to Oslo peacetime conditions returned as the cruiser was opened to the public each day, with over 2,800 people visiting her, and a children's party was organised.  From Oslo Devonshire set course for Copenhagen where, guided by German minesweepers, she was the first Allied warship to berth in the harbour since 1939. The cruiser's officers took over North Dockyard Island naval base and handed it back to the Danish Navy while her engineers inspected the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen and the light cruiser Nurnburg, which surrendered to them.  The commanding officers of the two German ships reported to Devonshire for their orders and on 22 May Devonshire, accompanied by Dido and HMCS Iroquois, escorted the two German warships out of Copenhagen bound for Wilhelmshaven where the escort was turned over to the Canadian destroyer and the two British cruisers returned to Rosyth.

During the latter half of 1945 Devonshire made a number of trooping voyages east of Suez, on one occasion returning 700 naval ratings from Sydney to Devonport for demobilisation. During the outward passage to Sydney she assisted in the search for survivors from the British steamer Empire Patrol which had caught fire and sunk off Port Said while carrying over 500 Italian refugees from Ethiopia.  In April 1946, on her return from her last trooping voyage to Colombo, Devonshire steamed north to Rosyth to be fitted out as a cadet training ship to replace the even older Frobisher, taking over her role 12 months later in April 1947.

Devonshire's first training cruise began in autumn 1947, when she visited the Irish port of Berehaven (Castletown Bere), in the beautiful setting of Bantry Bay on Ireland's south coast, the visit being hosted by the Irish Naval Service.  From Ireland Devonshire steamed south to the Mediterranean where she visited Ajaccio, Malta and Mers el Kebir before returning to Devonport for Christmas.  Over the next six years Devonshire's spring and summer cruises took; her to home and European ports, to the Mediterranean and, on occasions, to the Caribbean; for the cadets, they were the highlights of her training programme.  In June 1953, taking her place in 'E-Line' between INS Delhi (ex-HMS Achilles) and HMS Battleaxe, Devonshire was the oldest ship to form part of the Coronation Review of the Fleet.  Her career was, however, nearing its end and the Coronation Review marked the final cruise for the last of the old three-funnelled cruisers.  During the final leg of the passage from Torquay Devonshire’s commanding officer, Captain William Crawford, donned a boiler suit and kept watch in the engine room, while the engineer officer took over the bridge watch.  On 7 September 1953, having transferred her ship's company and cadets to HMS Triumph, the old cruiser was paid off into the lowest category of 'Class Four Reserve. 

The end came in June 1954 when she was sold to Cashmore Ltd, to be broken up at Newport, Monmouthshire.  On 10 December 1954, when she left Devonport under tow for her final voyage to South Wales, it was the end of a distinguished 25-year career during which she had added the battle honours 'Norway I94O' and 'Diego Suarez 1942' to her name.


Ray Bradley the Grandson of Marine George Henry HARKCOM, who was a survivor of the X-Turret explosion on HMS Devonshire on 29th July 1929, supplied these photographs and newspaper cuttings. It is not certain if he was actually IN the turret, there seems to be some doubt about this. SEE BELOW

One Photoshows George ( on the left ) stood by the guns on HMS Devonshire. another shows him outside the municipal Zoo in Alexandria and in the other the family believe this is George on shore leave somewhere in the Med’ possibly Malta.

Part of a letter from RM Historical Society

I am the publications editor of the RM Historical Society and am currently engaged in writing a Special Publication on Albert Medals awarded to Royal Marines. In doing so I came across your website giving details of Ray Bradley's grandfather, Marine George Harkom, which stated that he was the only survivor of the terrible explosion aboard HMS Devonshire in 1929.

As you might know Marine Albert Streams who was subsequently awarded the Albert Medal is, according to all he official reports and the court of enquiry, the only person who survived who was in the turret itself and he went back in to rescue survivors. I have been looking at his diaries and whilst he mentions that Mne Harkon was nominally No 4 of the right gun and was wounded, there is nothing to say that he was actually in the turret at the time.


More Photographs of the Class
The Squadron at Navarrin , Greece Devonshire and Shropshire. Other Photos of HMS London and her Crew during the period shown on the map.