His Majesty's Ships - H.M.S. Arethusa

The War Illustrated, Volume 10, No. 253, Page 712, March 14, 1947.

Motto: “Swiftly Audacious.”

Seventh bearer of a famous name, H.M.S. Arethusa is a cruiser of 5,220 tons, launched at Chatham in 1934. She is adopted by the City of Swansea. Her first important service during the war of 1939-1945 was in the Norwegian campaign of 1940. She was again in Norwegian waters the following year for the Lofoten Island raid. Thence she proceeded to the Mediterranean, to engage in various operations against the Italians. In March 1942, immediately after escorting a convoy to Malta, she was attacked by German aircraft which hit the ship with a torpedo. This tore open one of the fuel tanks and set the oil on fire. Burning oil showered around, starting further fires, which in spite of every effort threatened to envelop the forward magazine.

Owing to broken connexions, the emergency system for flooding the magazine could not by used, and catastrophe seemed imminent. Yet no explosion followed. When at last the flames were under control, it was found that the torpedo has laid the magazine open to the sea and so saved the ship. After 3½ days the Arethusa reached Alexandria in so precarious a state that it seemed miraculous that she could have remained afloat. Temporary repairs were executed, and she proceeded to a U.S. Navy Yard for refit.

On D-Day in 1944 the Arethusa led the bombarding forces; and on June 16 she had the honour of carrying H.M. the King across the Channel. A little later she was put out of action by a magnetic mine, which twisted her propeller shafts out of shape. Repaired on the Clyde, she returned to the Mediterranean Station in time for the German surrender in 1945.

Articles in the His Majesty's Ships category