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HMS Orion

Leander Class Light Cruiser

1942
1942
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Built by Devonport Dockyard. Laid Down 26 September 1931.

Launched 24 November 1932. Completed 18 January 1934.

Damaged Crete 29/5/41 - repaired Mare Island 9/41 - 2/42.

Paid off 1947. Broken up by West of Scotland Shipbreaking, Troon, 1949.

Orion commissioned for service with the Home Fleet, but in 1937 was transferred to the 8th Cmiser Squadron on the America and West Indies Station, where she served until transferred to the Mediterranean in 1940. In June 1940 she was with the 7th Cruiser Squadron as flagship, taking part in the bombardement of Bardia that month and the engagement of Punto Stilo in July. During the remainder of 1940 she operated throughout the Mediterranean, escorting Malta convoys, shelling Italian-held islands and ferrying troops to Greece. Early in 1941 she was operating in the Crete and Aegean areas, and in March was at the Battle of Cape Matapan. Then, after supporting the army on the North African coast in April, she took part in the evacuation of Greece, followed the next month by similar duties off Crete, where she participated in strikes against Axis invasion convoys.

However, on 29 May she was badly damaged by bombs and withdrew to Simonstown, South Africa, for temporary repairs. These lasted until July 1941, when she sailed for Mare Island, California, for major repairs and refit. These were completed in February 1942, and after further attention in Devonport the ship finally returned to the Mediterranean in November 1942, joining the 15th Cruiser Squadron. Here she again bombarded Italian islands before covering the invasion of Sicily in June/July 1943, and was thereafter employed on fire support duties off Calabria, and then at the Salerno landings in September as part of Support Force East and Anzio in January 1944. She was brought home for the Normandy Landings in June 1944 and served with Force K off Gold Beach, but soon returned to the Mediterranean for the landings in the south of France in August. She then moved into the Aegean for operations in support of the reoccupation of Athens in September/October, before final war duties off the Ligurian coast, bombarding German positions around San Remo in April 1945. After use in ship target trials, Orion was handed over to BISCO on 19 July 1949 and allocated to Arnott Young for breaking up. She arrived at Dalmuir for scrapping in August 1949.

A strange story about her part in Operation Stoneage can be found here.

1937
1937
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Orion pre-war
Orion pre-war
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Orion during her speed trials
Orion during her speed trials
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good view of the forecastle of Orion, pre-war
good view of the forecastle of Orion, pre-war
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Orion, Mobile Alabama, pre-war
Orion, Mobile Alabama, pre-war
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Orion going under the Golden Gate bridge, pre-war
Orion going under the Golden Gate bridge, pre-war
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1940
1940
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convoy escort, 1940
convoy escort, 1940
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Alexandria June 1941, showing action damage after Crete, A turret has been removed and she is down by the stern
Alexandria June 1941, showing action damage after Crete, A turret has been removed and she is down by the stern
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1944
1944
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the original attribution of this pic was Arethusa, however Frank Poelert noticed that the twin 4" is very close to the forefunnel (it is not the afterfunnel because part of a tripod mast is in front of it). In the Arethusa class the 4" were abaft the after funnel, and is a better fit for a Leander class - the sequence of "boat - searchlight - 2pdr guns - boats" fits Orion. For a comparison see the Spartan pic on the Bellona class page, which has Orion in the foreground

November 1944, Piraeus
November 1944, Piraeus
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