HMS Sheffield (C24)
HMS Sheffield was one of the Southampton sub class of the Town-class cruiser
Town class cruiser (1936)
The Town-class was a 10-ship class of light cruisers of the Royal Navy. The Towns were designed to the constraints imposed by the London Naval Treaty of 1930....

s of the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 during the Second World War. She took part in actions against several major German warships. Unlike most Royal Navy ships of her time, her fittings were constructed from stainless steel instead of the more traditional brass. This was an attempt to reduce the amount of cleaning required on the part of the crew. Her nickname, the "Shiny Sheff", stemmed from this.

War service

At the outbreak of war, Sheffield served with the 18th Cruiser Squadron, patrolling the Denmark Straits and then, in April 1940, she was engaged in the Norwegian Campaign
Norwegian Campaign
The Norwegian Campaign was a military campaign that was fought in Norway during the Second World War between the Allies and Germany, after the latter's invasion of the country. In April 1940, the United Kingdom and France came to Norway's aid with an expeditionary force...

. After a short spell carrying out anti-invasion duties in the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

, she joined Force H
Force H
Force H was a British naval formation during the Second World War. It was formed in 1940 to replace French naval power in the western Mediterranean that had been removed by the French armistice with Nazi Germany....

, based in Gibraltar
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. A peninsula with an area of , it has a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region...

. During that time, she operated in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic until the year's end.

In 1941, she participated in the shelling of Genoa
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

 (9 February), operations against Vichy
Vichy is a commune in the department of Allier in Auvergne in central France. It belongs to the historic province of Bourbonnais.It is known as a spa and resort town and was the de facto capital of Vichy France during the World War II Nazi German occupation from 1940 to 1944.The town's inhabitants...

A convoy is a group of vehicles, typically motor vehicles or ships, traveling together for mutual support and protection. Often, a convoy is organized with armed defensive support, though it may also be used in a non-military sense, for example when driving through remote areas.-Age of Sail:Naval...

s and supporting air reinforcements to Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

. In May, Sheffield took part in the sinking of the German battleship
A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns. Battleships were larger, better armed and armored than cruisers and destroyers. As the largest armed ships in a fleet, battleships were used to attain command of the sea and represented the apex of a...

German battleship Bismarck
Bismarck was the first of two s built for the German Kriegsmarine during World War II. Named after Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, the primary force behind the German unification in 1871, the ship was laid down at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg in July 1936 and launched nearly three years later...

, narrowly escaping a friendly fire
Friendly fire
Friendly fire is inadvertent firing towards one's own or otherwise friendly forces while attempting to engage enemy forces, particularly where this results in injury or death. A death resulting from a negligent discharge is not considered friendly fire...

 torpedo attack by HMS Ark Royal's
HMS Ark Royal (91)
HMS Ark Royal was an aircraft carrier of the Royal Navy that served during the Second World War.Designed in 1934 to fit the restrictions of the Washington Naval Treaty, Ark Royal was built by Cammell Laird and Company, Ltd. at Birkenhead, England, and completed in November 1938. Her design...

 Fairey Swordfish
Fairey Swordfish
The Fairey Swordfish was a torpedo bomber built by the Fairey Aviation Company and used by the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy during the Second World War...

; 11 TSRs dropped (despite having been warned Sheffield was in the vicinity), and only defective Duplex exploders and fine ship handling saved her from disaster. (In the report of the attack, Admiral Sir John Tovey
John Tovey, 1st Baron Tovey
Admiral of the Fleet John Cronyn "Jack" Tovey, 1st Baron Tovey GCB, KBE, DSO, DCL was a Royal Navy admiral who served in both World Wars. He signed himself as "Jack", not "John". Tovey joined the Royal Navy before World War I, and commanded destroyers in that war. He rose, with several senior...

, commanding Home Fleet, was told only no hits were scored on Bismarck. The reaction of Sheffield's crew "has not made its way into the official records".) On 12 June, she located and sunk one of Bismarck's tankers, the Friedrich Breme. After the destruction of another German supply ship, the Kota Penang in early October (with HMS Kenya
HMS Kenya (C14)
HMS Kenya was a Crown Colony-class cruiser of the British Royal Navy. The ship was named after Kenya, a British possession at the time of the ship's construction.-Convoy escort:...

), Sheffield returned to Britain.

She was occupied on Arctic convoys until hitting a mine off Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

 on 3 March 1942 and was under repair until July. After more Arctic convoys, Sheffield joined the forces supporting the Allied landings in North Africa (Operation Torch
Operation Torch
Operation Torch was the British-American invasion of French North Africa in World War II during the North African Campaign, started on 8 November 1942....

) in November. In December, Sheffield and Jamaica formed "Force R", under the command of Rear-Admiral Robert L. Burnett (in Sheffield), which provided cover for convoy JW51B. The convoy was attacked by a strong German surface force, but, in the ensuing action (Battle of the Barents Sea
Battle of the Barents Sea
The Battle of the Barents Sea took place on 31 December 1942 between German surface raiders and British ships escorting convoy JW 51B to Kola Inlet in the USSR. The action took place in the Barents Sea north of North Cape, Norway...

), the Germans withdrew and Sheffield sank the German destroyer Friedrich Eckholdt
German destroyer Z16 Friedrich Eckoldt
Z16 Friedrich Eckoldt was a built for the German Navy in the mid-1930s. At the beginning of World War II, the ship was initially deployed to blockade the Polish coast, but she was quickly transferred to the German Bight to lay minefields in German waters...

, while damaging the cruiser at the same time, Eckholdt mistaking Sheffield for the Hipper. During this engagement, the destroyer and the minesweeper HMS Bramble were sunk by gunfire of the two German vessels.

In February 1943, Sheffield moved to operate in the Bay of Biscay
Bay of Biscay
The Bay of Biscay is a gulf of the northeast Atlantic Ocean located south of the Celtic Sea. It lies along the western coast of France from Brest south to the Spanish border, and the northern coast of Spain west to Cape Ortegal, and is named in English after the province of Biscay, in the Spanish...

 and, in July and August, she supported the landings at Salerno
Salerno is a city and comune in Campania and is the capital of the province of the same name. It is located on the Gulf of Salerno on the Tyrrhenian Sea....

 (Operation Avalanche). Returning yet again to the Arctic, she took part in the sinking of the battleship Scharnhorst
Battle of North Cape
The Battle of the North Cape was a Second World War naval battle which occurred on 26 December 1943, as part of the Arctic Campaign. The German battlecruiser , on an operation to attack Arctic Convoys of war materiel from the Western Allies to the USSR, was brought to battle and sunk by superior...

 off the north coast of Norway, in late December.

In 1944, Sheffield was an escort for the Royal Navy carrier force that executed a series of air attacks on the German battleship Tirpitz
German battleship Tirpitz
Tirpitz was the second of two s built for the German Kriegsmarine during World War II. Named after Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, the architect of the Imperial Navy, the ship was laid down at the Kriegsmarinewerft in Wilhelmshaven in November 1936 and launched two and a half years later in April...

, between April and August. These had limited success and responsibility was passed to the Royal Air Force.

A lengthy refit in Boston and in Britain kept Sheffield out of action until after the end of the war.


The refit was completed in May 1946 and Sheffield alternated between duties in the West Indies (where in 1954 she served as flagship of the 8th Cruiser Squadron) and in home waters and the Mediterranean. From June 1952 to May 1953, her commanding officer was Capt. John Inglis
John Gilchrist Inglis
Vice Admiral Sir John Gilchrist Thesiger "Tommy" Inglis KBE, CB was a British Royal Navy officer who became Head of Naval Intelligence. In this capacity, he attempted to cover-up the "Buster Crabb affair" in 1956....

, who was to become director of Naval Intelligence
Naval Intelligence Division
The Naval Intelligence Division was the intelligence arm of the British Admiralty before the establishment of a unified Defence Staff in 1965. It dealt with matters concerning British naval plans, with the collection of naval intelligence...

 in July 1954.

There were further refits in 1949/50 and 1954. In 1954 she played the part of HMS Ajax
HMS Ajax (22)
HMS Ajax was a Leander class light cruiser which served with the British Royal Navy during World War II. She became famous for her part in the Battle of the River Plate, the Battle of Crete, the Battle of Malta and as a supply escort in the Siege of Tobruk. This ship was the eighth in the Royal...

 in the war film The Battle of the River Plate
The Battle of the River Plate (film)
The Battle of the River Plate is a 1956 British war film by director-writer team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, starring John Gregson, Anthony Quayle and Peter Finch...

. She went into reserve in January 1959 and became flagship of the Home Fleet until September 1964, when she was placed on the disposal list.

Her equipment was removed at Rosyth
Rosyth is a town located on the Firth of Forth, three miles south of the centre of Dunfermline. According to an estimate taken in 2008, the town has a population of 12,790....

 in 1967 and was then broken up at Faslane in the same year. The stainless steel ship's bell, which was made by Hadfield's of Sheffield, was preserved and today hangs in Sheffield Cathedral
Sheffield Cathedral
Sheffield Cathedral is the cathedral church for the Church of England diocese of Sheffield, England. Originally a parish church, it was elevated to cathedral status when the diocese was created in 1914...

 along with her battle ensign.

External links

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