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HMS Neptune

HMS Neptune Underway. Royal Navy official photographer - This is photograph \u003ca href=\u0027\u0027\u003e FL 2929.\u003c/a\u003e from the collections of the Imperial War Museums.

HMS Neptune Underway. Royal Navy official photographer - This is photograph FL 2929. from the collections of the Imperial War Museums.

IWM Non-commercial Licence

The sinking of HMS Neptune remains New Zealand's worst naval tragedy.  A Royal Navy cruiser, HMS Neptune struck four enemy mines and sank off Libya early on the morning of 19 December, 1941.

The HMS Neptune was launched at Portsmouth on 31 January 1933. She was one of five 'Leander' class light cruisers completed between 1933 and 1935. Two others were HMS Achilles and Leander serving in the RNZN. They displaced 7,200 tons, could make 32 knots and carried eight 6 inch guns and 550 crew. The Neptune was in the Mediterranean from 1 December 1941 as part of Force K which was searching for Axis shipping, especially those taking supplies to Rommel in North Africa.

Early on the 19th of December the ships of Force K ran into a minefield. The Neptune hit three or four mines and sank with only one survivor. At the same time the Aurora was badly damaged and Penelope slightly. Trying to reach Neptune to assist, the destroyer Kandahar was mined and had to be scuttled the following day. On the same day in Alexandria harbour the Queen Elizabeth with Admiral Cunningham on board and the Valiant were both badly damaged and sank. The Mediterranean Fleet battle squadron ceased to exist. Seven hundred and sixty four men lost their lives. Among them were 150 New Zealanders. Of the total crew of  there was only one survivor. He was rescued off a raft five days later by an Italian destroyer and spent the rest of the war in a prisoner of war camp.

Futher reading:

Navy Museum "The Loss of HMS Neptune"

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Displaying 1 - 20 of 155 records
PhotoFamily nameFirst namesForceWarsService # 
C17174AlderEdwin PeterNavyWorld War II, 1939-1945A/1874 
C17221AndersonHenry BruceNavyWorld War II, 1939-1945A/1873 
C17234AndersonWilliam JohnNavyWorld War II, 1939-1945A/1872 
C18158AndrewNorman RossNavyWorld War II, 1939-1945W/3760 
C17237AndrewsAlbert George ReginaldNavyWorld War II, 1939-1945NZ21, RN(NZ) 21 
C17264ArmfieldHarry JamesNavyWorld War II, 1939-19451868, NZD1868 
C18175AshtonLindsay RossNavyWorld War II, 1939-1945NZ1603, NZD1603 
C18176AtkinsonBasil MervynNavyWorld War II, 1939-19451460, NZD1460 
C18177AtkinsonRoy VincentNavyWorld War II, 1939-19451323, NZD1323 
C18178BallJack PayneNavyWorld War II, 1939-1945C/5484 
C17645BarfordBryan JohnNavyWorld War II, 1939-1945NZ1510, NZD1510 
C18186BarkerFrederick RobertNavyWorld War II, 1939-1945C/5435 
C18187BarronAlexander DeryckNavyWorld War II, 1939-1945W/3696 
C17983BarstowJohn ArthurNavyWorld War II, 1939-19452369, NZD2369, NZD2369 
C18188BaskettGeorge RobertNavyWorld War II, 1939-1945C/7223, O/7223 
C18189BiggsHudson WalterNavyWorld War II, 1939-19450/7257, O/7257 
C18190BirssJames AlexanderNavyWorld War II, 1939-1945C/5026, C/5026 
C18191BlackleyJames Bernard EricNavyWorld War II, 1939-1945NZ1676, NZD1676 
C18192BoazErnest GeorgeNavyWorld War II, 1939-1945C/5451, C/5451 
C18193BrackenridgeIan HayesNavyWorld War II, 1939-1945W/3758 


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