Since the formation of the 2nd HMS Manchester Association, and particularly since the creation of this website, the organisers of the Association have fielded a number of enquiries regarding the previous HMS MANCHESTER. In the 1502 days from her commissioning on the 4th August 1938 until she found her final resting place on the 13th August 1942, she was constantly on the move, and carried out exacting war service.
This is our tribute to the matelots of the previous HMS MANCHESTER, and this is their story.
HMS MANCHESTER was one of ten Southampton Class Cruisers built between 1934 and 1939. The first group consisted of SOUTHAMPTON, BIRMINGHAM, GLASGOW, NEWCASTLE and SHEFFIELD, followed by, GLOUCESTER, LIVERPOOL and MANCHESTER, with BELFAST and EDINBURGH subsequently completing the class.
Four of the class were war losses, SOUTHAMPTON, 11th January 1941, GLOUCESTER, 22nd May 1941, EDINBURGH, 2nd May 1942 and MANCHESTER, 13th August, 1942, while five were subsequently scrapped. The sole survivor being HMS BELFAST which is moored in the Pool of London on the River Thames as part of the Imperial War Museum and is of course open to the public.
HMS MANCHESTER was ordered on the 11th November, 1935 from R & W Hawthorn Leslie and Co., Ltd., at Hebburn on Tyne, and her keel was laid on the 28th March 1936, as Yard No. 605. Her vital statistics were as follows:
It was whilst the ship was in Aden, the Second World War commenced.
10th August 1939 - MANCHESTER and GLOUCESTER in company the sloops EGRET and FLEETWOOD left Aden to escort a six ship troop convoy en-route from Bombay through to Egypt, returning to Aden on completion.
3rd September 1939 - MANCHESTER and GLOUCESTER sailed from Aden for Colombo.
9th September 1939 - Sailed from Colombo for patrol duties.
14th September 1939 - Returned to Colombo.
21st September 1939 - Arrived at Bombay from Colombo and left same day for patrol duties.
MANCHESTER was subsequently detailed to return to the United Kingdom to act as flagship of the 18th Cruiser Squadron, Home Fleet.
10th November 1939 - Sailed from Bombay.
13th November 1939 - At Aden.
17th November 1939 - At Port Said.
18th - 20th November 1939 - At Malta, where Vice Admiral Geoffrey Layton hoisted his flag on assuming command of the 18th Cruiser Squadron.
22nd November 1939 - At Gibraltar.
25th November 1939 - Arrived at Portsmouth for a short refit.
23rd December 1939 - Sailed from Portsmouth for Scapa Flow.
24th December 1939 - Arrived Scapa Flow.
26th December 1939 - Sailed from Scapa Flow to relieve SHEFFIELD on Northern Patrol duties (date of return not known).
15th January 1940 - Sailed from Scapa Flow.
20th January 1940 - Intercepted the Norwegian ship SS "LISA" and ordered her into Kirkwall for examination.
27th January 1940 - Arrived back at Scapa Flow for boiler clean.
2nd February 1940 - Sailed from Scapa Flow.
12th February 1940 - Returned to Scapa Flow.
15th February 1940 - Sailed from Scapa Flow.
21st February 1940 - In company with the destroyer KIMBERLEY, intercepted the German steam ship "WAHEHE" in position 620.50N, 14.20W south of Iceland. KIMBERLEY towed WAHEHE to Kirkwall where she was renamed EMPIRE CITIZEN. She was sunk in the North Atlantic a year later.
2nd March 1940 - Sailed from Scapa Flow for Northern Patrol duties.
12th March 1940 - Returned to Scapa Flow.
18th March 1940 - Sailed from Scapa Flow for Northern Patrol duties.
28th March 1940 - Returned to Scapa Flow.
12 6" guns (4x3)
8 4" AA guns (4x2)
8 2pdr AA (2x4)
8 .5" MG AA (2x4)
6 21" torpedo tubes (2x3)
3 aircraft - Fairey Seafox - and later Walrus
4 shaft Parsons geared turbines (2,000 tons of FFO giving a range of 7,000 miles at a speed of 14 knots)
Between 50 (peacetime) and 950 (wartime) and increased again when flagship
12th April 1937 - The Ship was launched by Mrs Toole, the Lady Mayoress of Manchester.
17th January 1938 - Captain Henry Bousfield appointed Commanding Officer.
4th August 1938 - Commissioned at Portsmouth, for service in the 4th Cruiser Squadron, East Indies Fleet.
A period of "work up" then took place in home waters.
26th September 1938 - MANCHESTER sailed from Portsmouth in company with GLOUCESTER and LIVERPOOL to join the squadron under the command of Vice Admiral Somerville flying his flag in the cruiser NORFOLK. Her pre-war programme included -