Summary of Service: HMS Edinburgh (1939-42)

HMS EDINBURGH was a cruiser of 10,000 tons, armed with twelve 6 inch guns, and a designed speed of 32½ knots. She was built under the 1936 programme by Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson, Newcastle-on-Tyne, with machinery by the Wallsend Slipway Company, and was laid down on 30 December 1936; launched on 31 March 1938; and completed on 06 July 1939.

On the outbreak of the Second world War she was in the 18th Cruiser Squadron in the Home fleet at Scapa. After patrolling between Iceland and the Faeroes during September 1939, she was transferred from the 18th to the 2nd Cruiser Squadron on 01 October, for duty with the Humber Force. She was, however, still in the Firth of Forth when German aircraft made a raid on 16 October. Only minor damage from near miss bombs was sustained.

The EDINBURGH left Rosyth on 23 October for escort duties with Narvik convoys. When reports of the attack on the armed merchant cruiser RAWALPINDI were received on 23 November, she was among the ships which searched unsuccessfully for her assailant, the battle cruiser SCHARNHORST. She afterwards resumed escort duties with the Narvik convoys.

On 17 March 1940, the EDINBURGH arrived in the Tyne for a long refit which lasted until 28 October, after she rejoined the 18th Cruiser Squadron, Home Fleet. On 18 November she left the Clyde escorting a troop convoy, WS4B, as far as Freetown, returning to Scapa on 12 December. During the winter months she took part in various Home Fleet patrols and minor operations. She helped to cover the raid on the Lofoten Islands on 4 March 1941.

Later in March 1941, she accompanied the troop convoy WS7 on the first stage of its journey to the Middle East, afterwards fuelling at Gibraltar and returning to Scapa on 15 April. Later that month she covered a minelaying operation in the Denmark Strait.

In the operations which led to the sinking of the German battleship BISMARCK, in May 1941, the EDINBURGH, which had been on the Biscay Patrol, during which she intercepted the German SS LECH on 22 May, was ordered to make for the enemy’s position and take over as stand-by shadower. She did not, however, have the good fortune to sight the enemy.

On 01 June she left Scapa to relieve the HERMIONE on the Denmark Strait Patrol. At the end of the month she was detached from the Home Fleet for ocean escort duty. She assisted to cover yet another Middle East convoy, WS9B, from the Clyde, and in July went to Gibraltar for docking. Later in July she took part in the Malta convoy Operation “Substance”, arriving and leaving Malta on the 24th. Next day she was missed by an aircraft torpedo.

In August 1941, the EDINBURGH took part in the escort of convoy WS10 from the Clyde to Simonstown. At the end of September she took part in another Malta convoy, Operation “Halberd”, arriving and leaving Malta on the 28th. On 1 October she left Gibraltar for the Clyde with prisoners of war and after repairs there rejoined the Home Fleet at Scapa. During November she was employed on the Iceland-Faeroes patrol.


FOI 2019/01021 dated 06 February 2019.


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