HMS Gambia
Royal Navy and Maritime Book Reviews PROVIDED BY - Rob Jerrard
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HMS Gambia, Last Commission November 4th 1958 - December 7th 1960




Captain W J Munn DSO OBE RN

One of the most pleasant things about the Navy is that one rarely has to say " goodbye." We know that there will come a time when we'll meet `old ships. and then the conversation will inevitably begin : " Bo you remember the time in Glam Gam when we . . . . " " And we'll certainly have a lot to talk about !

I think it is fair to say that we can be modestly proud of our achievements. We've worked hard and played hard, and no one will dispute that our efforts in both fields have proved their own reward. Whether it was helping the people of Mauritius to restore their devastated island or showing the Fleet the way home in the Regatta, the " Gambias " have always gone at it with a will; and the recognition that this has received, particularly abroad, shows that the GAMBIA has brought credit to our Service and, indeed, to our country.

From time to time a change is good for all of us. Now we are going to our new jobs and we look forward to them with high hopes and expectations, as we did when we joined the GAMBIA not very long ago. Thank you for sharing with me what has been to me. and I hope to you, a very wonderful commission. An revoir -not goodbye-and godspeed.

HISTORY OF H.M.S GAMBIA

H.M.S. GAMBIA was the first ship of this name. She was a cruiser of the COLONY class, of 8,000 tons displacement, 555 feet in length, having nine 6-inch guns, eight 4-inch guns, and eighteen 40-mm. guns.

H.M.S. GAMBIA was launched by Lady Hilbery, the wife of Mr. Justice Hilbery, in 1940, and completed in February 1942, going into immediate war service, firstly with the Home Fleet and then with the Far Eastern Fleet.  She was then lent to the Royal New Zealand Navy, and in 1944 took part in operations against Sumatra and Java. Late in 1945, operating with the United States Third Fleet, she was in action against Okinawa, Formosa and the Japanese home islands.  In August 1945, she anchored in Tokyo Bay and was present during the signing of the Japanese surrender.

During her very active war service, which at one time included steaming 35,000 miles in 32 months, GAMBIA visited the territory from which she had taken her name. African chiefs in full regalia led thousands to inspect the ship during her three-day visit.

For her war service, H.M.S. GAMBIA was awarded Battle Honours for Sabang, 1944, and Okinawa, 1945.

After WW2 she has completed commissions in the Far East and Mediter­ranean. During 1955-56 she was Flagship of the East Indies Station.

In May 1957, GAMBIA completed a major refit in H.M. Dockyard, Rosyth, giving the ship a very much improved fighting efficiency and habitability, at the same time forging strong connections with the royal borough of Dunfermline. She commissioned at Rosyth on 1st May on a General Service Commission, took part with the Hone Fleet in the Review by Her Majesty the Queen at Invergordon, and on completing six months in Home waters, sailed for twelve months' duty as Flagship to the East Indies station.

The final Commission began on 4th November 1958, the ship's time being extended to allow Home, Mediterranean, Indian Ocean, Far East and South Atlantic waters to be duly transited.  Major N.A.T.O. and S.E.A.T.O. exercises were participated in and the Equator was crossed no less than eight times on various unusual missions including the safe conduct of Parliamentary Ministers to settle affairs of State and the bringing of aid and relief to cyclone-smitten Mauritius.  Returning to Portsmouth on 4th July, GAMBIA rejoined the Home Fleet for her last months at sea and commences the reduction to reserve in Portsmouth on 7th December 1960.