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Loss of 90 RM on HMS Gloucester

HMS Gloucester was one of the second batch of three Town-classlight cruisers built for the Royal Navy during the late 1930s.

Transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet in mid-1940 and spent much of her time escorting Malta Convoys. Gloucester played minor roles in the Battle of Calabria in 1940 and the Battle of Cape Matapan in 1941.

Gloucester acquired the nickname "The Fighting G" after earning five battle honours in less than a year.

She was sunk by German dive bombers on 22 May 1941 during the Battle of Crete with the loss of 722 men out of a crew of 807.

Junkers Ju 87 Stukas flying to attack ships in open formation from the Argos airfield near Crete, 22 May 1941

After a series of heavy air attacks during withdrawal from Kithera Channel she was hit by three bombs. Major fires broke out and could not be controlled. The disabled ship had to be abandoned. 90 RMs died.

85 men survived to be taken into captivity in 1941 but only 83 survived to return home in 1945.

21st May 1944

Part of Force A with HMS WARSPITE, HMS VALIANT and HMS FIJI to give support cruisers of Force C (HM Ships NAIAD, PERTH, CALCUTTA and CARLISLE and a screen of 3 Fleet destroyers) during attacks on invasion craft in Kithera Channel.

22nd May 1944

Came under a series of heavy air attacks with HMS FIJI, HM Destroyers GREYHOUND and HMS GRIFFIN during withdrawal from Kithera Channel. After HMS GREYHOUND was sunk by dive bombers west of Crete.

Rescue of survivors with HMS FIJI was prevented by the intensity of air attacks and by the depletion of stocks of AA ammunition.

Hit by three bombs which caused internal explosions and major flooding.

Major fires broke out and could not be controlled.

Disabled ship had therefore to be abandoned.

HMS FIJI was ordered to withdraw because of the continuing air attacks but left rafts and boats for survivors.

Sank after ninety minutes with the loss of all but 82 of the ship's company. (HMS FIJI was later sunk by air attacks with heavy loss of life.)

Read here Surgeon Lieutenant Commander Hugh Singer's description of the sinking of Gloucester and the traumatic events that followed as they waited for rescue. WW2 Cruisers

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