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insideHMS AJAX
Class: Leander-class light-
Pennant number: 22
Motto: non quisquam nisi
Ajax – none before Ajax
Builder: Vickers-Armstrong,
Laid down: February 7 1933
Launched: March 1 1934
Commissioned: June 3 1935
Decommissioned: February
Displacement: 9,740 tons
Length: 555ft (169.1m)
Beam: 56ft (17m)
Draught: 19ft (5.8m)
St Vincent ..................1780
Speed: 32½ knots
St Kitts .......................1782
Complement: up to 680
The Saints ..................1782
Propulsion: 4 x Parsons
Egypt ..........................1801
geared turbines; 6 x es
Trafalgar .....................1805
Admiralty three-drum oil-fired
San Sebastian............1813
Baltic .................... 1854-55
Four shafts generating
Jutland .......................1916
River Plate .................1939
Armour: 4in (102mm) main
Mediterranean ..... 1940-41
belt; 2½in (64mm) bow and
Matapan .....................1941
stern; 1¼-2in (32-51mm)
Greece ........................1941
deck; 1in (25mm) turrets
Crete ...........................1941
Armament: 8 x 6in guns, 4 x
Malta Convoys ...........1941
4in guns, 12 x ½in machine-
Aegean .......................1944
guns, 8 x 21in torpedo tubes
Normandy ..................1944
Aircraft: 1 x Fairey Seafox
South of France .........1944
Battle Honours Facts and figur
and Ariel – and crippled the destroyer Artigliere. Mediterranean. Her return lasted just one day. On Ajax sailed into Chatham in February 1948 to pay “those early, dark days of the war”. It is the sole
She fought at Matapan, the defining surface January 1 1943, just 24 hours after joining Force off. town on Earth named after a British warship.
action of the war in the Mediterranean, the following Q in Bône (today Annaba) she was hit by a 1,000lb When plans to sell her to Chile fell through, The town’s flag bears the ship’s badge, the
spring, and was ordered to first stop the Axis bomb during an air raid on the Algerian port. She Ajax was sold to breakers in Newport, who began council offices feature a scale model of the cruiser
invasion of Crete by sea in May 1941, then support spent the rest of the year in the USA being refitted. dismantling her in late 1949. the bell from the successor Ajax, the Cold War
the British withdrawal from the island a few days Ajax returned to the fold – and to the Mediterranean And so when it came to committing the ship’s frigate, is rung before each session of the council,
later. – in the spring of 1944, before being ordered to most famous hour to the silver screen in 1956 – The while most of the Canadian town’s 800 streets are
The cruiser was part of a task force which support the invasion of Fortress Europe. Battle of the River Plate – it fell to HMS Sheffield named for the men who fought at the River Plate.
intercepted Italian warships and small wooden Her guns smashed the German battery at to ‘play’ the role of Ajax, while the great Anthony That ever-dwindling band of survivors occasion-
boats carrying German troops. Ajax sank ten Longues-sur-Mer – intended to guard the shore at Quayle stepped into Cdre Harwood’s shoes. ally makes the pilgrimage to Ajax, where they are
caiques – helping to ensure 300 German mountain nearby Arromanches, designated Gold Beach by But some of the cruiser lives on. Her bell, still – rightly – honoured as heroes.
infantrymen never reached Crete – and severely the Allies. scarred by a near-miss from a bomb off Crete, Some 65 veterans visited the town for the 60th
damaged the Italian destroyer Lupo. Two months later Ajax’s barrels flashed again, had been donated to the people of Montevideo. anniversary of the battle in 1999. Just five were able
he Within a week, the roles were reversed as the this timed directed at enemy targets surrounding It stands today near the customs house, while the to make the trip to Canada a decade later.
Mediterranean Fleet suffered terribly at the hands Yellow Beach, near Saint Raphaël, as southern men of 1939 are remembered with a memorial in the Among them was Ajax veteran C/Sgt Sam Shale
he of enemy air power. France was invaded. city’s Holy Trinity Church. RM, moved to pen the following tribute on his
eir Ajax had suffered a near miss on May 21. The The cruiser remained in the Mediterranean for And the name Ajax lives on too. The residents of previous visit to the town:
damage she suffered at dusk on May 28 caused her the remainder of the war in support of operations a new town which had sprung up around a Defence
alf to make haste for Alexandria and repairs. around the Greek Islands, pausing to host Premier Industries Ltd shell plant near Toronto wanted God bless you all for making our wildest
Her wounds proved not to be as serious as first Churchill and his Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, a more fitting title than ‘Dilco’ – or the unofficial dreams come true
as thought, and after supporting operations off Syria in Malta at Christmas 1944. ‘Dilville’ which armaments workers had given it. And with one voice we say special thanks
ow in June 1941, Ajax joined Force K in Malta over the She could be found in the George Cross island 12 They chose Ajax “to commemorate the gallantry from the Ajax ships crew.
. winter. months later, undergoing a refit, before returning to of those who fought in HMS Ajax at that famous
in After a refit back home in the UK through the her old hunting ground off South America. battle”. Like Churchill, the cockles of their hearts
Artwork © Ross Watton, PO Box 83, Llandysul, SA44 9AH,
ne summer of 1942, the cruiser was sent back to the After a final stint with the Mediterranean Fleet, had been warmed by the River Plate victory during
AAjax Cutaway.indd 4jax Cutaway.indd 4 111/12/09 09:57:111/12/09 09:57:11
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