Capetown Class

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History of  Royal Navy cruisers (heavy cruisers, light cruisers). Royal Navy cruiser website dedicated to the Capetown Class. HMS Cairo, HMS Calcutta, HMS Capetown, HMS Carlisle, HMS Colombo including crew and families of ex-crew members notice board for the Capetown Class cruisers.

The Capetown Class cruisers had a trawler bow fitted and so differed from the Ceres class. HMS Cairo served with the Home Fleet from 1939-42 moving to the Mediterranean Fleet in 1942 where she was torpedoed by the Italian submarine, Axum, near Bizerta. HMS Calcutta served with the Home Fleet from 1939-40 and the Mediterranean Fleet from 1940-41 when she was bombed by German and Italian Aircraft Carriers north of Alexandria. HMS Capetown served with the Mediterranean fleet from 1939-40 and the East Indies from 1941-42, moving to the Eastern fleet from 1942-43. Capetown then became an accommodation ship in the reserve fleet in 1944-45. HMS Carlisle and HMS Colombo both served in the home fleet in 1939, with Carlisle moving to the Red Sea in 1940-42 and the Mediterranean from 1942-43. HMS Carlisle then served as a base ship from 1943-45. She was badly damaged beyond repair after an air raid attack in late 1944 . HMS Colombo served in the East Indies 1940-41, then the Eastern fleet in 1942 being converted to an anti-aircraft ship in 1943 after which she served in the Mediterranean fleet until the end of the war.

Displacement: 4,290 tons    Speed: 29kt    Complement: 400 increasing to 437 as a Flagship.

Armament: Eight 4 inch anti-aircraft guns and four 2pdr anti-aircraft guns.   Eight 0.5 inch machine guns.

HMS Cairo 19th November 1918 Sunk on 12th August 1942.
HMS Calcutta 9th July 1918 Sunk on 1st June 1941.
HMS Capetown 28th June 1919 Broken up 1946.
HMS Carlisle 9th July 1918 Constructive loss 9th October 1943 and broken up 1948.
HMS Colombo 18th December 1918 Broken up 1948.
HMS Cairo

HMS Cairo (pictured right in dry dock at Malta ? Tony Davies) Built by Cammel Laird and laid down on the 28th November 1917. Completed October 1919. she was immediately sent to the China Station to become the Flagship  in June and July 1917. She then joined the 4th Light Cruiser Squadron in the eats Indies. In may 1922 a explosion in a gun turret injured two crew members.  She served as a AA cruiser during world war two and was sunk  in the Mediterranean north of Bizerta on the 12th August 1942, torpedoed by the Italian submarine Axum.

Unidentified cruiser which is almost certainly HMS Cairo c.1936 - 1937. sent in by Bill Nuttall

HMS Cairo

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HMS Cairo, taken from a 1937 calendar and sent in by Bill Nuttall.

HMS Cairo  in dry dock at Malta 

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HMS Cairo, late 1930's

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HMS Cairo.

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HMS Calcutta

HMS Calcutta (photograph shows her at Bermuda).  Built by Vickers and laid down on the 18th October 1917 and launched on the 9th July 1918. completed August 1919. In August 1919  she became Flagship to the 8th Light Cruiser Squadron in the North American and west Indies Station. and again in June 1921, September 1923 and May 1926.   Served during world war two as a AA cruiser and during the evacuation of Crete she was sunk by air attack on the 1st of June 1941.

HMS Calcutta  at Bermuda

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HMS Calcutta at Gloucester, Massachusetts, USA. c.1925.

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HMS Capetown

HMS Capetown Built by Cammell Laired and Laid down on the 23rd February 1918. Launched on the 18th June 1919.Towed to Pembroke Dockyard to be completed and joined the 8th Light Cruiser Squadron of the North American and West Indies Station from April 1922.

HMS Capetown.

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HMS Carlisle

HMS Carlisle  was to be Named HMS Cawnpore. Built at Fairfield's and laid down on the 2nd October 1917 and Launched 9th July 1918 Completed on Armistice Day and joined Harwich Force. When commissioned in march 1919 she joined the 5th Cruiser Squadron in the China Sea and again between  January 1921 and February 1923.  Constructive total lost 9th October 1945 and scrapped at Alexandria 1949.

HMS Carlisle 

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HMS Carlisle at Saigon.

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HMS Carlisle Stokers - Winners Minotaur Cup, 1923 - 24.

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The following message regards the five pictures below the text. (1 - 5)

I find your website most interesting, especially as it contains pictures and references to the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle, a ship often overlooked in many references writing about WWII naval actions in the Mediterranean.  My father in law, Chief Engine Room Artificer J H Pooley (Jack), served on the Carlisle as ERA Jun 1940 - Jul 1941 in the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.  He often talked about the 'bashing' the ship took during operations off Crete and during the frequent trips between Alexandria and Malta on convoy escort.  Although invariably in the thick of the bombing, the Carlisle appears not to have made too many headlines, probably because she had to stay close to the convoy and defend it against air attack, whilst the more dashing job of seeing off the Italian and German battle cruisers was left to others. 

Although Jack served for a short while on HMS Resource, he rejoined the ship, this time as a Chief, in Jul 1942 in time to participate in the refit at Devenport, and he remained with Carlisle until May 1944, even after she became a constructive loss when hit by 4 bombs on her stern at Scarpanto 9 Oct 1943 and had to be towed back to Alexandria.  Jack remained with the Carlisle when it was used as a base ship, and he was responsible for repairs to ships arriving damaged. He told me that on one occasion, he did a job which took him 19 hours continuous non stop welding to re-attach a ship's propeller, all done with very primitive electro welding equipment. Unfortunately, despite all the effort, the ship was sunk by enemy action the first day back at sea.

In going through some of his old photographs, I noticed a couple of interesting action shots.  One appears to be of Carlisle damaged at the stern and low in the water (1).  Another photo shows a cargo ship on fire with crew evacuating in the boats (2).  Finally, I have a picture of some of his colleagues (3), presumably from the same period, assembled on the deck of what appears to be the Carlisle;  Jack Pooley is standing in the rear, second from right as they face you.  (Picture (4)  is of Jack Pooley himself)

Also in his photos is a picture of German paratroopers (5)  taken prior to the invasion of Crete  on 21 May 41.  His story was that he and others were ashore early on the morning in question when the airborne assault started. and whilst beating their way back to the ship, they came up behind a German paratrooper taking photographs of the action.  They jumped the soldier and frog marched him back to the ship.  The camera was impounded and when they eventually developed the film, it included pictures of the lads lined up in front of their aircraft just before take off, and shots of the air activity over Suda Bay.  I have seen similar photos of the air scene in other publications, but never one of the troops pre take off.

Previous to the Carlisle, Jack served as ERA on HMS Apollo 1936-38 when it was in the West Indies.  The ship was later transferred to the Australian Navy and became HMAS Hobart.  I have several photos of the crew and the sites visited, together with a book " HMS APOLLO "  1936-1938, Printed by Flood and Son, Ltd., The Borough Press, Lowestoft, which describes the various cruises and the activities of the crew by name during the Summer Cruise 1936, and the Spring and Summer Cruises 1937,  Many names are included in the publication.

I hope the above is of interest.

Alan Davies

** Many thanks for these photos and info**

(1)

(2)

(4)

(3)

(5)

HMS Colombo

HMS COLUMBO.  Built by Fairfield and laid down on the 8th of December 1917, Launched on the 18th December 1918.  Served with the 5th Light Cruiser Squadron in the China sea Between July 1919 and march 1922. The to the west Indies to join the 4th Cruiser squadron. Scrapped at Newport May 1948.

HMS Colombo.

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HMS Colombo.

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HMS Colombo

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Possibly HMS Colombo in 1917 in Canadian waters.

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Everything we obtain for this site is shown on the site, we do not have any more photos, crew lists or further information on any of the ships.

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