Devonshire file photo [4497]


CountryUnited Kingdom
Ship ClassCounty-class Heavy Cruiser
BuilderHis Majesty's Dockyard, Devonport, Plymouth, England, Britain
Laid Down16 Mar 1926
Launched22 Oct 1927
Commissioned18 Mar 1929
Decommissioned1 Aug 1953
Displacement9,850 tons standard; 13,315 tons full
Length633 feet
Beam66 feet
Draft21 feet
Machinery8 Admiralty 3-drum boilers, Parsons geared turbines, 4 shafts
Power Output80,000 shaft horsepower
Speed32 knots
Range9,120nm at 12 knots
Armament4x2x203mm Mk.VIII guns, 8x102mm Mk.V AA guns, 4x40mm 2pdr Mk.II guns, 2x4x12.7mm Mk.III AA machine guns, 2x4x533mm torpedo tubes
Aircraft1 Supermarine Walrus


ww2dbaseDevonshire was a County-class heavy cruiser of the London-subclass. Between commissioning and 1932, she served with the 1st Cruiser Squadron in the Mediterranean Sea; in Jul 1929, she suffered a serious gun turret explosion during firing practice in the Aegean Sea where 17 men were killed and 3 were seriously wounded. Between 1932 and 1933, she served off China. For the remainder of the 1930s until the outbreak of the European War, she served in the Mediterranean Sea. She served off the coast of Spain during the Spanish Civil War; at the end of that conflict, the surrender of the island of Minorca was signed aboard her, and she was used to evacuate some Spanish Republicans. At the start of WW2, she served under John H. D. Cunningham in the Norwegian Campaign, evacuating King Haakon VII, Crown Prince Olav, other members of the Norwegian royal family, government ministers, and Norway's gold reserve from Tromsø to Britain on 7 Jun 1940. On the return trip, Devonshire received the distress signal of carrier Glorious, which was under overwhelming German naval attack; under order to keep strict radio silence on this important transport mission, Cunningham chose to ignore the distress call. He safely delivered the important passengers and cargo to Britain, but Glorious and her two screening destroyers were sunk with the loss of 1,519 men. In Aug 1940, she participated in Operation Menace which planned to land 6,670 British and Free French soldiers at Dakar, Western Africa; the operation turned out to be a failure as local Vichy-French forces put on a fierce resistance. On 2 Nov 1940, she captured a Vichy-French convoy off the Cape of Good Hope. Until Oct 1941, she served in the Atlantic Ocean, hunting down the German raider Kormoran in the South Atlantic and patrolling the North Atlantic off Norway and Russia. On 21 Nov 1941, under the command of Captain R. D. Oliver, she sank the famed German merchant raider Atlantis, killing seven German sailors. In May 1942, she participated in the Madagascar Campaign, and remained in the Indian Ocean until May 1943. In Mar 1944, she returned to Britain to join the Home Fleet, then served off Norway until the end of the war; during this time, she escorted British aircraft carriers during the aerial attack on the German battleship Tirpitz. Immediately after WW2, Devonshire visited Norway and Denmark. She spent the latter half of 1945 and the first months of 1946 as a transport. She was converted to a training ship in 1947, visiting ports in Northern Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Caribbean Sea until 1953. In Jun 1953, she was present during Queen Elizabeth II's coronation naval review. She was sold for scrap on 16 Jun 1954. She was broken up by A. J. Cashmore on 12 Dec 1954 at Newport, Wales, United Kingdom.

ww2dbaseSource: United States Navy Naval Historical Center, Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Oct 2008

Devonshire Operational Timeline

18 Mar 1929 Devonshire was commissioned into service.
12 Jun 1940 HMS Cumberland was joined by HM Cruiser Devonshire until 14 Jun 1940 when Devonshire was replaced by ships from Home Fleet including HM Battleship Hood and HM Aircraft Carrier Argus.
14 Sep 1940 HMS Cumberland detached from convoy escort with HM Cruisers Devonshire, Australia and HM Aircraft Carrier Ark Royal to establish patrol off Cape Verde for interception of three Vichy French cruisers attempting to reach Dakar.
21 Sep 1940 HMS Cumberland joined HMS Ark Royal, HM Battleships Resolution and Barham, HM Cruisers Devonshire, Australia and Fleet destroyers in support of Free French landing at Dakar and carried out defensive patrol offshore (Operation Menace).
1 Aug 1953 Devonshire was decommissioned from service.


Laying DevonshireDevonshire in port, circa Oct 1927Devonshire as seen in an issue of The Naval and Military Record, photo taken circa 1929Devonshire as seen in the 21 Aug 1929 issue of The Naval and Military Record, photo taken circa 1929 at Plymouth, England, United Kingdom, after turret explosion
See all 7 photographs of Heavy Cruiser Devonshire

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Anonymous says:
9 Nov 2015 02:36:17 AM

Dear Sir
I have read with interest your article on H.M.S. Devonshire.I father served onboard this ship during the W.W.2 as a petty officer.I remember him telling me stories of the evacuation of the king of Norway( as a way of thanks I believe the people of Norway to this day supply the Christmas tree in Trafalgar square!)also the sinking of a merchant ship supplying U-boats with food and fuel.
He enjoyed the time he spent serving onboard the Devonshire and described it as a "happy ship".
Best Wishes.
2. Anonymous says:
18 Nov 2016 02:25:52 AM

Where in UK did devonshire deliver King Haakon ?
3. alan Clarke says:
8 Sep 2017 09:09:10 PM

Has Devonshire presented the ships bell to the town of Tromso.
My father John Clarke together with a Norwegian sailor participated in the ceremony.
Do any pictures survive please.
4. Christina Ribbens nee Macleod says:
8 Sep 2018 12:11:14 PM

My Dad Murdo Macleod served on the HMS Devonshire in the second World War.
5. Pete says:
22 Dec 2018 01:36:44 PM

My brother reckons we were returned to the UK from North Africa, where our father served in the army. This would have been 1956. He is adamant it was on a ship called Devonshire, not sure if it was HMS.
However, HMS Devonshire was scrapped in 1954. Could the name have been given to a new ship I wonder. Anyone have any ideas?
6. Commenter identity confirmed David Stubblebine says:
22 Dec 2018 04:39:18 PM

Pete (above):
The MV Devonshire (not HMS Devonshire) was a purpose-built troop ship built in Liverpool and completed in 1939. She was renamed the Devonia in 1962 and sold for scrap in 1967. During the mid-1950s, she was under charter to the Sea Transport Division of the Ministry of Transport, so this would seem to fit. See
7. David. TaylorAnonymous says:
7 Apr 2019 11:22:00 AM

My. Father. William. Jock. Taylor. sailed on HMS Devonshire during the. war
8. Michael says:
28 Dec 2021 02:36:38 PM

Hi, I’ve just received a Liberation of Norway certificate made out to a Robert Beatham. There is an indication that he was on the crew of the Devonshire. Could anyone possibly confirm this please?
9. John Fowler says:
20 Jul 2022 01:30:49 PM

I am trying to find out if my father James Fowler was on this HMS Devonshire during the war, does anyone behave any info on this or can anyone help me find out.
I would really appreciate any help with this.
10. Jeffery Hobbs says:
5 Nov 2022 07:59:40 AM

My father Hubert (Jack) Hobbs served on Devonshire in world war two
11. Rachelle Wilkins says:
13 Nov 2022 10:36:55 PM

I’m trying to find out if my Grandfather served on the Devonshire,as he used to tell the story of helping to rescue the king of Norway. His name was Harry Wilkins from Grimsby. Thank You

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More on Devonshire
» Cunningham, John

Event(s) Participated:
» The Spanish Civil War
» Invasion of Denmark and Norway
» British Attacks on the French Fleet
» Madagascar Campaign

Heavy Cruiser Devonshire Photo Gallery
Laying Devonshire
See all 7 photographs of Heavy Cruiser Devonshire

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