Unknown Cruiser Found On NCAP Photo

#1
Hi All,

I found an unusual photograph in the National Collection of Aerial Photography (NCAP) archive a few days ago while playing around with different search terms on their site. Having inserted the single search term 'sea', the search engine came up with a number of photos but one in particular caught my eye. It shows the forward two thirds of what I take to be a heavy cruiser underway, supposedly off the Aberdeenshire coast in the North Sea:

Image Credit: RCAHMS/www.aerial.rcahms.gov.uk

The date of the sortie, M/039/NLA/065, is the 17th June 1943 and there are 22 other frames online - see the results page here. It seems to me to be some sort of training flight in oblique photography techniques. In any event, I would like to find the name of this vessel if possible and am hoping some naval folk might give us a hand here.

First, I had a look round the web to make sure we are looking at a heavy cruiser and not some other type of vessel. The page here appears to show other very similar vessels with the same funnel layout. The Wiki page here on 'County' Class Royal Navy cruisers would also appear to support this theory.

Of the three sub groups of 'County' Class vessels, I think the 'Kent' group most closely matches the photograph. The seven vessels in this group were:

  • HMS Berwick
  • HMS Cornwall
  • HMS Cumberland
  • HMS Kent
  • HMS Suffolk (of Bismark hunt fame)
  • HMAS Austraila
  • HMAS Canberra
I know 'Cornwall' was lost off Ceylon in April of 1942, 'Suffolk' was with the Eastern Fleet from 1942-45 and I assume the two Australian ships also served in the Pacific. So, if I am on the right road, that leaves 'Berwick', 'Cumberland' and 'Kent'.

Can anyone confirm or correct my theory?

The thread on my own Forum has so far failed to turn up an answer but I know you guys are the experts in naval matters.

Thanks,

Pat
 
#2
You're correct in that it's a County class heavy cruiser and on that link you supplied, the photo next to it has the same coding on the top with the photo number next in sequence, it's also labelled HMS Kent ;)
 
#3
Hi Wreckert,

I had noticed the caption on the other photo indicating HMS Kent but that photo appears to be captioned incorrectly. The zoomed version below shows a vessel with single gun turrets:

Image Credit: RCAHMS/www.aerial.rcahms.gov.uk

Can you confirm the first photo as HMS Kent without the aid of the (incorrect?) caption on the photo in this post?

Thanks,

Pat
 
Last edited:

Ninja_Stoker

War Hero
Moderator
#5
Hi Wreckert,

I had noticed the caption on the other photo indicating HMS Kent but that photo appears to be captioned incorrectly. The zoomed version below shows a vessel with single gun turrets:

Image Credit: RCAHMS/www.aerial.rcahms.gov.uk

Can you confirm the first photo as HMS Kent without the aid of the (incorrect?) caption on the photo in this post?

Thanks,

Pat
This looks a bit like a V Class Destroyer, possibly HMS Vigilant on trials after build in Wallsend, she was later that year tasked as an anti-submarine escort destroyer on the Russian convoys from September.
 
#6
Thanks Guys,

Still hoping someone knows HMS Kent well enough to ID her without any captions.

One other thing; how often, if ever, was the dazzle camouflage pattern changed on ships in WWII? I assume the patterns were changed periodically to deter enemy recognition. I don't want to discount any ground photographs on the mistaken assumption that the patterns do not match the above photos.

Regards,

Pat
 
#7
From another website:

Master Ned said:
I agree that it is Kent. The Alan Raven & John Roberts book County Class Cruisers has a photo almost certainly taken a few seconds later, from forward of the port bow. The layout all aligns (particularly the large zareba on B turret and the twin cranes with no hangar), as does what can be seen of the camouflage scheme. The ship may still have been under the command of our late member Captain (later Admiral Sir) Angus Cunninghame Graham. His privately published memoir Random Naval Recollections is a pleasant read. My Father (as an RAN Midshipman) remembered him taking the Home Fleet’s operational cruiser squadron at high speed through the Sound of Sleat and Kyle of Lochalsh after the war’s end to keep his captains ‘on their toes’.
The destroyer has single ‘slant faced’ gun mounts, so could not be any of the classes suggested. It is an S class (bar Savage with her experimental mount) or later. They were just starting to commission in 1943.
TANGAROA said:
I agree with AJW It is of HMS KENT. The questionnaire has done a good job of narrowing the picture down to KENT or BERWICK. CUMBERLAND can be eliminated as she had a large hanger fitted at this stage.
I have a number of photos taken in 1943 of KENT. The layout of the 4 inch Guns, Boats and the 20 mm Single guns on B Turret all confirm KENT. Although the camouflage pattern is not easy to distinguish it also appears the same.
In the same series that the questionnaire mentions there is another photo labelled HMS KENT North Sea, ABERDEENSHIRE, Scotland. It is not KENT but appears to be a J, K or N class destroyer. I wonder if it has been miss labelled
 
#11
Hi Guys,

I appreciate your efforts on this query.

alfred_the_great, please pass my thanks to the people on the other Forum who confirmed HMS Kent.

I would be interested in getting a look at the log entry of Kent for perhaps three days straddling the 17th June 1943. I know the NA do not have ships' logs digitised and it can be expensive to obtain manually produced copies of log entries. Before I go down that road though, how likely is it that her log would reference the names of her escort?

Thanks,

Pat
 
#13
Grenville's the odd one out, the only U - class not beginning in "u" and not scrapped until 1983.
If you check out the other classes from the same era, you will notice that there tends to be an odd one out in them all, Flotilla leaders were named after people rather than given a name to suit the Letter of the Class
 
#14
Running the Normandy related 'Whitebeam' Forum precludes me taking a more active part on 'Rum Ration' so I hope you guys don't mind me dropping in occasionally with naval queries. I see the '1919 Diary ID' thread still has the highest number of views in the History section thanks to Naval_Gazer and other regulars at the time answering the very many questions posed by this researcher.

A great bunch of people here.

Regards,

Pat
 
#17
Hi Onion,

Yes, the address for the Whitebeam Forum is Whitebeam Battlefield Research Forum as in my signature below. You are very welcome to sign up and post your query if you want but you will get more specialist knowledge here on Rum Ration and I would be happy to work here with you to repay the work done on this and other threads.

BTW, I came up with my pen name very early one morning about 3:30am and should really have waited until after breakfast :icon_smile:

My name is Pat Curran and I live in County Kilkenny.

Regards,

Pat
 

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