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Loss of HMS Dunedin - 55 Royal Marines Lost

Updated: Nov 25, 2023

Unit/ Formation: Memorial

Location: South Atlantic

Period/ Conflict: World War II

Year: 1941

Date/s: 24 November 1941

Light cruiser HMS Dunedin came under attack by U124 which was on passage to met PYTHON for re-supply. Hit by two of three torpedo fired by U124 off St Paul’s Rock north of

Pernambuco and 900 miles west of Freetown.

HMS Dunedin (D 93) Light cruiser of the D class(U Boat Net - Allan C. Green Collection Navy)

The ship was steaming at high speed and bulkheads were unable to withstand stress of an explosion whilst under way. One torpedo struck amidships and the other aft.

Extensive damage incurred including loss of radio facilities. She foundered stem first.

Location of HMS Dunedin when she was sunk, only four officers and 63 men survived out of Dunedin's crew of 486 officers and men including 55 Royal Marines. (

HMS Dunedin was a Danae-classlight cruiser of the Royal Navy, pennant number D93. She was launched from the yards of Armstrong Whitworth, Newcastle-on-Tyne on 19 November 1918 and commissioned on 13 September 1919. She has been the only ship of the Royal Navy to bear the name Dunedin (named after the capital of Scotland, generally Anglicised as Edinburgh).

Royal Marines gun crew HMS Dunedin [The Dunedin Society]

In October 1920 she, with the other three British vessels, was sent to assure protection of the unloading of munitions intended for Poland, at Danzig.

In 1931 she provided assistance to the town of Napier, New Zealand, after the strong Hawkes Bay earthquake, in a task force with the sloop Veronica and the cruiser Diomede.

Possibly the last (and only?) group photo of Dunedin's Royal Marines, taken some time after January 1941. Bill Gil identified the following: Allen, Pacey, Macaulay, Peacock, Maul, Garthwaite Bracey, Meakin, King Hall, Dunkley, Rose, Laurence, Sunter. The two Naval officers are (left) Captain Lovatt and (right) Commander Unwin. [The Dunedin Society]

Early in the Second World War, Dunedin was involved in the hunt for the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau after the sinking of the armed merchant cruiser Rawalpindi.

In early 1940 Dunedin was operating in the Caribbean Sea, and there she intercepted the German merchant ship Heidelberg west of the Windward Passage. Heidelberg's crew scuttled the ship before Dunedin could take her.

A few days later, Dunedin, in company with the Canadian destroyer Assiniboine, intercepted and captured the German merchant ship Hannover near Jamaica. Hannover later became the first British escort carrier, Audacity. Between July and November, Dunedin, together with the cruiser Trinidad, maintained a blockade off Martinique, in part to bottle up three French warships, including the aircraft carrier Béarn.

Capture of the Lothringen

On 15 June 1941, Dunedin captured the German tanker Lothringen and gathered some highly classified Enigma cipher machines that she carried. The Royal Navy reused Lothringen as the fleet oiler Empire Salvage. Dunedin went on to capture three Vichy French vessels, Ville de Rouen off Natal, the merchant ship Ville de Tamatave east of the Saint Paul's Rocks, and finally, D'Entrecasteaux.

Dunedin was part of the escort of Convoy WS 5A when it was attacked by the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper.on 25 December 1940. The attack was repulsed by other ships of the escort, without losses to the convoy.

Dunedin was still steaming in the Central Atlantic Ocean, just east of the St. Paul's Rocks, north east of Recife, Brazil, when on 24 November 1941, at 1526 hours, two torpedoes from the German submarine U-124 sank her.

Only four officers and 63 men including 8 Royal Marines survived out of Dunedin's crew of 486 officers and men, 55 Royal Marines lost their lives.

References/ further reading:

  1. The Dunedin Society

  2. Wikipedia - HMS Dunedin

  3. U Boat Net - HMS Dunedin

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