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HMS Gambia (C48)

Fiji Class Light Cruiser

towed out of the Swan Hunter yard on completion, February 1942
towed out of the Swan Hunter yard on completion, February 1942
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Built by Swan Hunter, Wallsend. Laid Down 24 July 1938.

Launched 30 November 1940. Completed 21 February 1942.

Loaned to RNZN 1943-1946. Paid off December 1960. In reserve 1960-1964. Broken up by Ward, Inverkeithing, 1968.

She was conceived in the 1938 Naval Estimates, and was the first ship of her name. Laid down on the 24th July, 1939, at Swan Hunter's Yard at Wallsend-on-Tyne, she was launched on the 30th November, 1940, by Lady Hilbery and finally completed on the 21st February, 1942.

Gambia served in the East Indies after completion, and took part in the occupation of Madagascar in September 1942. In 1943, as part of the Eastern Fleet, she carried out trade protection duties in the Indian Ocean, but returned to home waters calling at the territory of the Gambia on the way, where West African Chiefs in full regalia led thousands of their subjects to visit the ship named after their Colony. She refitted at Liverpool between June and September, following which she operated anti-blockade runner patrols in the Bay of Biscay in December. She was manned by the Royal New Zealand Navy from 1943. By 1944 she was back in the Eastern Fleet, searching for blockade runners in the Cocos Islands area in February. For the remainder of the year until November she operated with the Eastern Fleet on its series of carrier raids against oil installations and airfields. From November Gambia became part of the British Pacific Fleet, and saw action off Okinawa and Formosa before participating in the final raids on the mainland of Japan. After her return to RN control at Portsmouth on 27 March 1946, she was given a refit and recommissioned on 1 July 1946 for the 5th Cruiser Squadron with the Far East Fleet. She returned to the UK on 6 January 1948, and in January 1950 joined the 2nd Cruiser Squadron in the Mediterranean, later serving with the 1st Cruiser Squadron on the same station until October 1954. In 1955 she became flagship of the 4th Cruiser Squadron on the East Indies Station and, as the last flagship on this station, returned to Chatham on 19 September 1958. On 4 November 1958 she recommissioned for the 1st Cruiser Squadron in the Mediterranean. In 1960 she served in the South Atlantic and the Home fleet before paying off to reserve in December that year. The ship remained in reserve at Portsmouth until she was put on the disposal list and sold to T. W. Ward for scrapping. She left Portsmouth under tow on 2 December 1968 and arrived at Inverkeithing for breaking up on 5 December.

Gambia's Battle Honours Board which was struck on the side of the Wardroom Bulkhead, shows Sabang 1944 and Okinawa 1945.

December 1943
December 1943
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a later photo - note X turret removed
a later photo - note X turret removed
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This very nice photo comes from Ray Thomas

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