Summary of Service 1944 – 1972
HMS CAVALIER, a destroyer of the Fleet C’s ( Caesar ) Class, was laid down in February 1943, launched on 7th April 1944 and completed on 22 November 1944. She was built and engine by J S White & Co. Limited, Cowes Isle of Wight; standard displacement 1,710 tons, length 363 feet, breadth 36ft,armament 4 x 4.5" single, 2 x 40mm Bofors, 4 x 20mm Oerlikons in twin power mountings and 2 x 20mm Oerlikons single.
On completion the CAVALIER joined the 6th Destroyer Flotilla, Home Fleet. In February 1945 she took part in three operations off Norway, ‘Selenium’ a strike on enemy shipping ‘Shred’ to provide fighter cover for a minesweeping flotilla and ‘Groundsheet’, an aircraft minelaying strike.
She was one of three destroyers sent from Scapa to re-inforce the escort of the Artic convoy RA64, which had left the Kola Inlet on 17th February and been attacked by U-Boats and enemy aircraft, and scattered during strong gales. She joined the convoy in the evening of 23rd February : thirty-one of the thirty-four ships arrived safely in the Clyde on the 1st March. When the war in Europe ended on 8th May, the CAVALIER and other destroyers of the 6th Flotilla were detached to the Western Approaches Command and based on the Clyde. In June the 6th Flotilla was allocated to the British Pacific Fleet, and the CAVALIER was taken in hand for a refit at Rosyth. On completion in mid-August, the war with Japan had ended and the Flotilla was ordered to relieve the 11th Destroyer Flotilla on the East Indies Station. The CAVALIER arrived at Colombo on 29th September 1945, and on 10th November 1945, took part in the bombardment of Scurabaya, Java, when operations began for it’s military occupation because no satisfactory reply had been received from the Indonesian extremists there.
In February 1946 the CAVALIER was in Force 64, constituted temporarily with the Senior Officer in HMS GLASGOW, which sailed for Bombay because of unrest in the R.I.N. The CAVALIER visited various ports on the West coast of India until the 30th April, when she sailed from Bombay for Singapore. She left Singapore for the UK on 20th May, arrived in Portsmouth on 16th June and reduced to Reserve.
The CAVALIER was refitted at Portsmouth and modernised at Thorneycroft’s Southampton, between 1955 and 1957. On 15th July 1957 she was brought forward from reserve to replace the COMUS in the 8th Destroyer Squadron, Far East , and left Portland on 31st August 1957 to work-up at Malta before going on to her station. In February 1958 she visited Saigon with the Commander-in-Chief, Far East, who was in HMS ALERT. In March and April she was in the "Grapple" Squadron at Christmas Island, in the Pacific, for atomic bomb tests. She visited the Persian Gulf in August, and was refitted at Singapore between April and June 1959. When there was unrest in Gan Island, the CAVALIER was sent there as guardship for the RAF installations, and served as such from 7th to 29th August. In March and August 1960 she made visits to Australia. She was refitted in Singapore from November 1960 to February 1961,and in April took part in SEATO’s biggest exercise, "Pony Express" involving six nations, sixty ships and 100 aircraft. She later visited Japan and Manila. Another annual maritime exercise, "Jet 62" took place in February and March 1962. On 18 May 1962 the CAVALIER left Singapore and with the CARYSFORT visited Korea and Japan, returning to Hong Kong on 19th June 1962. She was refited in Singapore between July and September. With HMS BLACKPOOL and HMNZS TARAWAKI, she made the first Royal Naval visit to Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean in November. The ships were on their way from Singapore to Fremantle for the Empire games.
On the 8th December 1962 armed rebellion against the formation of Malaysia broke out in Brunei, Sarawak and North Borneo. An advance party of 42 Commando was flown from Singapore to Brunei on 9th December. The CAVALIER returning from her Australian cruise, was ordered to proceed to Singapore at high speed. She arrived on the 8th, embarked troops of the Queens Own Highlanders vehicles and stores, and sailed for Labuan. Her speedy turn-around earned congratulations from the Flag Officer, Commanding-in-Chief, Far East Fleet. On arrival off Brunei she acted as a communications HQ ship, and members of her company guarded 400 rebels taken prisoner and moved to Papan Island until the arrival of HMS Tiger with a Royal Marines detachment.
On the 31st January 1963, the CAVALIER was on SAR duties for the Royal tour of Australia; she visited Fiji in February and arrived in Auckland on the 20th.February she made a return visit to Christmas Island in the Pacific in march and from 25th to 27th April visited La Libertad, El Salvador, the first visit to that country by a Royal navy ship since December 1954. She spent a day at the US Naval Base, Rodman, in Canal Zone and passed through the Panama Canal on 30th April. For the first two weeks in May she was on the Bahamas patrol, which had been set up in April to prevent anti-Castro elements using British Territory. She arrived at Portsmouth on 26th May for reduction to Reserve.
HMS CAVALIER remained in reserve at Chatham, Devonport and Gibraltar until April 1966, when she began to prepare for service. She commissioned and sailed from Gibraltar for Portsmouth on 22nd September, arriving on 26th September, and was operational with the home fleet on 4th November. In May 1967 she left for the Far East. She was originally routed via the Suez Canal but as this was closed on 7th June due to the 6 day war between Israel and Egypt, she was re-routed round the Cape. She was detached for her first Beira Patrol early in July and again from 20th August to 10th September. On 21st September the CAVALIER sailed to join HMS EAGLE for a flying exercise off Gan, accompanying the carrier to Singapore, where she arrived on 6th October and joined the 1st F.E. Destroyer Squadron, Far East Fleet.
HMS CAVALIER took part in a second flying exercise with HMS EAGLE off Gan,which began on 28th January 1968, but was detached on 29th to go to the assistance of a Greek ship THEBEAN which had requested medical attention for the Chief Engineer. The CAVALIER took the sick man on board and made a high speed passage to Gan, rejoining the exercise later. A visit to Australia took place between February and March. The CAVALIER sailed from Australia on 27th March for the Beira station and took over the Beira Patrol, with HMS TROUBRIDGE, between 12th and 30th April. She arrived at Devonport on30th May and joined the "Western Fleet". In July she took part in an exercise in the Forth, and in September in "Silver Tower", a major NATO exercise in the North Sea to demonstrate the ability of national forces to integrate into an effective defence organisation. The CAVALIER left Devonport on 21st October, visiting Gibraltar, Marseilles and Toulon and taking part in "Eden Apple" another major NATO exercise in the Mediterranean, during the first half of November. She visited Naples from 16th to 20th November and arrived in Devonport early in December.
On the 3rd January 1969 HMS CAVALIER sailed to take up guardship duties at Gibraltar. She visited Lisbon from 23rd to 27th January and in March began a refit at Gibraltar, which completed on 3rd October. She left Gibraltar on 6th January 1970, arriving at Portsmouth on 9th January 1970. She commissioned at Portsmouth on 6th March for service in Home Waters and the Mediterranean. Visits to various home ports followed with a visit to Copenhagen between 21st and 26th August. The CAVALIER was with the ARK ROYAL during her working up in early September, when she was ordered to stand by the vessel SAINT BRANDAN, on fire off St. Anne’s. The crew had been taken off by a French trawler and the CAVALIER managed to tow the vessel to Milford Haven. Shortly afterward the CAVALIER took part in "Northern
Wedding", a medium-scale NATO maritime exercise, with the purpose of exercising, NATO and national forces and headquarters bordering the Norwegian and North Sea in the conduct of maritime operation
At the end of the exercise the CAVALIER was one of the ships which paid a visit to Oslo. For the period 11th to 19th December she again served as guardship at Gibraltar.
HMS CAVALIER visited Cagliari in January 1971 and Copenhagen in May. She served with the Fishery Patrol in June and July in the Iceland area and visited Alderney in August. For the period 6th to 20th September she served as Gibraltar Guardship, with subsequent visits to Piracus and Rhodes. In October she took part in "Deep Furrow" a NATO exercise in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean.
The CAVALIER was approved for disposal in December 1971. In February 1972, together with HMS HERMIONE, she berthed alongside HMS BELFAST in the pool of London for a ‘Meet the Navy’ visit.
She returned to Chatham for the last time on 5th July 1972, after completing 28 years service.
On the 4th October 1977 the ship was sold to the HMS CAVALIER Trust for exhibition purposes. She was towed from Chatham to Portsmouth by naval tugs 11th12th October. On the 21st October 1977, the formal date of handing over to the Trust, she left Portsmouth under tow of commercial tugs for Mayflower Park, Southampton, where it was intended for her to become a floating museum dedicated to the destroyer.
In May 1983 she departed Mayflower Park Southampton, by tug to the Marina at Brighton, where she rested until …1987 when she departed Brighton Marina, having been sold to Tyneside Council to be a Centre piece for Tyneside Council Development.
After the development plans fell through, CAVALIER headed back to Chatham and the famous No2 Drydock, in May 1999, where she lives today as a Destroyer Memorial to Lost Royal Navy & Allied Destroyers and crews of WW2.
Naval Historical Branch
(Revised November 1981)
(Revised November 1999)