Military Wiki
HMS Enterprise (D52)
HMS Enterprise WWII IWM FL 005389.jpg
Enterprise in November 1943
Career Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Enterprise
Builder: John Brown Shipbuilding & Engineering Company Ltd. (Clydebank, Scotland)
Yard number: 484
Laid down: 28 June 1918
Launched: 23 December 1919
Commissioned: 7 April 1926
Decommissioned: 13 January 1946
Reclassified: In reserve between 5 January 1945, but was used for trooping duties postwar.
Identification: Pennant number: D52
Fate: Scrapped
Handed over to BISCO for scrapping 11 April 1946
Arrived at Cashmore's yard at Newport, Wales on 21 April 1946 for breaking up
General characteristics
Class & type: Emerald-class light cruiser
Displacement: 7,580 long ton
Tons burthen: 9,435 tons
Length: 570 ft (170 m)
Beam: 54 ft 6 in (16.61 m)
Draught: 16 ft 6 in (5.03 m)
Installed power: 80,000 shp (59.6 MW)
Propulsion: Four shafts
Brown-Curtis geared turbines
Eight boilers in four compartments - part forward of amidships magazine and part abaft forward engine room
Speed: 33 knots (61 km/h)
Range: 1,350 nautical miles at 32 knots (2,500 km at 59 km/h)
8,000 nautical miles at 15 knots (15,000 km at 28 km/h)
1,746 tons fuel oil
Complement: 572 officers and enlisted

Original configuration:

Armour: Original configuration:
Side: 3-inch (amidships)
Side: 2.5 - 1.5-inch (bow)
Side: 2-inch (stern)
Upper deck: 1-inch (amidships)
Deck: 1-inch (over rudder)
Aircraft carried: One aircraft with one catapult
Catapult later removed
Motto: Spes aspera levat
(Latin:"Hope lightens difficulties")
Honours & awards: Atlantic (1939-40)
Norway (1940)
Biscay (1943)
Normandy (1944)
Badge: On a field red, a lion rampant under a star silver.

HMS Enterprise was one of two Emerald-class light cruisers of the Royal Navy. She was built by John Brown Shipbuilding & Engineering Company Ltd., with the keel being laid down on 28 June 1918. She was launched on 23 December 1919, and commissioned 7 April 1926. She was the 14th ship to serve with the Royal Navy to carry the name Enterprise, a name which is still used in the Royal Navy today.

In the early 1930s, Enterprise was fitted with a prototype twin 6" turret in place of her two forward single mounts; and with the trials proving successful it was retained for the rest of her service career. This turret was later worked into the design of the Leander, Amphion and Arethusa classes. The turret installation occupied less space than the superimposed 'A' and 'B' guns of Emerald, therefore the bridge was placed further forward. The bridge was of a new design, being a single block topped by a director tower, rather than the traditional platforms built around the foremast and wheelhouse topped with a spotting top. This design of bridge would appear in the County-class cruisers.



After several months in home waters, Enterprise served with the British 4th Cruiser Squadron in the East Indies her first commission ending in December 1928. She undertook several subsequent commissions on the East Indies Station, until she returned home and was reduced to care and maintenance on 4 July 1934, followed by a major refit. She returned to the East Indies in January 1936, but was relieved by Manchester at the end of 1937 and came home. In 1938 she was employed to take crews to the China Station, returning home to pay off on 30 September and she was reduced to the Reserve Fleet.

First commission

HMS Enterprise at Haifa on May 6, 1936

1936 photo showing the experimental twin turret

Her first commission was remarkable mostly for its culmination and the events that took place between 19 September and 10 December 1928. She was ordered home via Mauritius and the main ports of British East Africa; her first cruise into the Southern Hemisphere. She pulled into Kilindini Harbour ten days before the arrival of Edward, Prince of Wales and his younger brother the Duke of Gloucester on the SS Malda who had arrived in the African Great Lakes region to undertake a semi-official visit to Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika and to participate in some big-game hunting. A launch from Enterprise ferried the royal party ashore and over the next 36 hours the senior officers were invited to participate in various functions before the departure of the two princes for Nairobi the next evening on the overnight train.

The rugby team from Enterprise, composed of 30 officers and men, then departed for a two-week tour of Kenya and Uganda playing Nakuru RFC, Kitale RFC, Kampala RFC, a combined Kericho/Londiani XV, a combined Thika/Ruiru XV, and the Mombasa Sports Club. In addition several members of this body of men participated in a boxing tournament (Royal Navy versus Kenya) in Nairobi towards the end of the tour. Enterprise left Mombasa and sailed to Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam and Tanga, playing a total of four more matches in these three ports, thus completing the first rugby tour of all three African Great Lakes nations by a Royal Naval vessel. She turned north and steamed for home via Aden and Port Suez.

Two hours out of Aden, however, she received orders to return to pick up the Prince of Wales from Dar es Salaam and carry him to Brindisi with all possible speed. His father, the then king George V, was seriously ill. The Prince came aboard on 2 December and Enterprise made a record passage of the 4,087 miles (6,577 km) to Brindisi in eight days. The Prince travelled onward to Bolougne by a special train provided by the Italian government and arrived at Buckingham Palace only nine days after leaving Dar es Salaam.

As this voyage was taking place, a parcel arrived at the headquarters of the Rugby Football Union of Kenya,[Note 1] containing a silver goblet. The officers and men of Enterprise had gifted this trophy to be awarded annually to the winners of an Inter-District championship; the Enterprise Cup. This cup has become central to rugby competition in the African Great Lakes region. It has been played for every year since, with the exception of the war years (1940–1946) and 1987, when an international rugby competition was held on the RFUEA Ground as part of the All Africa Games.

Second World War

Initial stages

At the start of the Second World War, in October 1939, Enterprise was recommissioned and joined Atlantic patrols with the 4th Cruiser Squadron. She later joined the North America and West Indies Squadron. Enterprise was employed on Atlantic escort duties with the Halifax Escort Force during 1939 and 1940. In October 1939, she oversaw the transfer of ₤10 million (£554 million in today's currency) in gold bullion to Canada during Operation Fish.

In April 1940, she was transferred to the Home Fleet for the Norwegian Campaign. During April and May she supported the British Army ashore by bombardments in and around Narvik, Norway and, on 19 April, was attacked unsuccessfully by U-65. On 25 May, she left Harstad with a third of the Norwegian National Treasury bound for Britain. She sailed first to Scapa Flow, surviving two German air attacks on the way, then proceeded to Greenock, where the gold was brought ashore.[1]

After some repairs, Enterprise joined the newly formed Force H in June 1940 and set sail for the Mediterranean Sea where, in July, she participated in negotiations with the French Navy regarding the future of the French fleet in the war. Following the unsatisfactory outcome of the negotiations, she participated in Operation Catapult at Mers-El-Kébir, sinking many French warships. She also participated in the delivery of aircraft to Malta in late July.

Outside Home Waters

Force H was then re-organised and Enterprise was sent to Cape Town after which she became the flagship for operations in South America, primarily involved in trade defence and interception duties. In December 1940, she was deployed with HMS Cumberland and Newcastle in an unsuccessful search for the German auxiliary cruiser Thor which had attacked and defeated HMS Caernarvon Castle.

In early 1941, she was redeployed to the Indian Ocean where, accompanied by a sizeable fleet of Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy ships led by Hermes, participated in a search for the German ship Admiral Scheer. After the search was abandoned, Enterprise took up convoy escort duty before being sent to Basra after a pro-German revolt by Rashid Ali al-Gaylani started the Anglo-Iraqi War. The war was won by the end of May, after which Enterprise was released back into convoy escort duty in the Indian Ocean.

HMS Cornwall sinking after a Japanese attack, Enterprise rescued some of her crew.

In November, she was under refit and repair in Colombo, which was finished just in time for the start of the War with Japan in December 1941. She escorted troop ships to Singapore and Rangoon, Burma, and then joined the Eastern Fleet under Admiral Sir James Somerville, taking part in protection of trade for the next year. On 6 April 1942, together with HMS Paladin and Panther, she picked up some of the 1,120 survivors of the cruisers Cornwall and Dorsetshire, which had been sunk by the Japanese in their Easter Sunday Raid. The Easter Sunday Raid was part of the larger Japanese Indian Ocean raid, which threatened British Ceylon. Enterprise participated in yet another fruitless search for enemy ships during this period, when it was believed the Japanese were preparing to strike and possibly invade the Indian Ocean island.

Home waters

On 25 December 1942, she returned to Clyde for extensive refit and modernisation works, which were completed only in October 1943. Trials and tests continued throughout November.

In late December 1943, she was deployed with Gambia and Glasgow for Operation Stonewall. On 28 December, she engaged a force of eleven German destroyers and torpedo boats, the tardy escort for their blockade runner Alsterufer (which had been sunk the previous day by air attack). Enterprise sank the torpedo boat T26 with a torpedo, while T25 and Z27 were also sunk. Four other German ships were damaged in the engagement.

From 3 February to 29 February 1944 Enterprise was docked at Devonport for refit, and from 27 March to 31 March she was fitted for missile jamming gear at Devonport.

The invasion of Normandy

In May, Enterprise was then assigned to Bombardment Force "A" with USS Nevada, HMS Hawkins, HMS Black Prince, Erebus, USS Tuscaloosa, Soemba and USS Quincy. She was in sub-group Assault Force "U" (for Utah Beach), of which she was the lead ship.

When the Normandy Landings started on 6 June 1944, Bombardment Force "A" bombarded St. Martin de Varreville. Enterprise engaged the coastal defences of Cherbourg; in the ensuing action her Captain and her Commander were both wounded, and the ship was brought back to Portland by the First Lieutenant, Lieutenant Commander Brown. Twenty days later, she was also involved in the bombardment of Querqueville, silencing the German guns there. German shore batteries opened fire, but caused no significant damage to Enterprise. During the D-day operations Enterprise fired about 9,000 6-inch shells and required two overnight gun changes at Portsmouth.[2]

In July, she was deployed off the French coast in support of British operations, and on 17 July, she provided naval gunfire for two days in support for British attacks near Caen with the cruiser HMS Mauritius and the monitor HMS Roberts. In September, she was deployed in a similar capacity off the Dutch coast in support of the Second Army, however, she was not required to support the troops.

In October, after a considered transfer to the Royal Canadian Navy was not implemented, Enterprise was taken out of active service and placed in reserve at Rosyth.


Starting in May 1945, Enterprise helped return British troops from Asia and Africa. On 13 January 1946, she returned to the United Kingdom for the final time. She was handed over to BISCO for scrapping on 11 April 1946, arriving at J Cashmore in Newport, Wales, on 21 April 1946 for breaking-up.

Armament refits

Enterprise - May 1936

Enterprise - May 1936

Throughout her service, Enterprise was refitted with a slightly differing array of weaponry. Below is a table of the new armament after her first refit:

Dates Armament
Aug 1939 - Aug 1942 1 × 2 6-inch turret
5 × 6-inch single guns
2 × 0.5-inch MG quadruple guns
4 × 3 pdr pom-pom single guns
2 × 21-inch quadruple torpedo tubes
Apr 1943 - Apr 1944 1 × 2 6-inch turret
5 × 6-inch single guns
2 × 2 pdr pom-poms quad guns
4 × 3 pdr pom-pom single guns
6 × 20 mm dual power-operated guns
2 × 21-inch quadruple torpedo tubes
Apr 1944 - 1945 1 × 2 6-inch turret
5 × 6-inch single guns
2 × 2 pdr pom-poms quad guns
4 × 3 pdr pom-pom single guns
6 × 20 mm dual power-operated guns
2 × 21-inch quadruple torpedo tubes
6 × 20 mm single guns

Battle honours

For her service in the Second World War, Enterprise was awarded four battle honours:

In addition, the ship inherited a battle honour from the fourth-rate ship of the line HMS Enterprize, which fought against Spain in the Seven Years War:


  1. The RFU-K was dissolved in 1953 with the formation of the Rugby Football Union of East Africa (RFUEA); the current Kenya Rugby Football Union (KRFU) was not formed until 1970


  1. Kindell, Don. "Naval events, May 1940, Part 4 of 4 Wednesday 22nd – Friday 31st". Retrieved 14 April 2010. 
  2. Warship International, No. 1, 1997, p. 7.

External links

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).