HMS Achilles

A Leander-class light cruiser, HMS (later HMNZS) Achilles displaced 7270 tons, measured 555 ft (169 m) in length and was capable of 32 knots. It was armed with eight 6-inch (152 mm) guns in four turrets, four 4-inch (102 mm) secondary guns and eight 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes, and also carried a seaplane.

Following its role in the Battle of the River Plate, Achilles underwent repairs in Auckland before escorting troop convoys and operating against Japanese forces in the southwest Pacific. During operations with US Navy forces off Guadalcanal on 5 January 1943, the ship was damaged by a Japanese air attack that killed 13 crewmen. While undergoing repairs in Portsmouth in June that year, an accidental explosion killed several dock workers and caused further damage. In 1945 Achilles joined the British fleet in the Pacific. The ship reverted to Royal Navy control in 1946 and two years later was transferred to the Royal Indian Navy, becoming INS Delhi. It was finally scrapped in 1976.

Community contributions

31 comments have been posted about HMS Achilles

What do you know?


Posted: 25 Aug 2021

My uncle James William Penno was on the HMS Archillis, from what I understand he was a gunner, anyone with any information would be great.

Wally Seccombe

Posted: 01 Nov 2020

BATT, Robert William (Bob). Regtl. No. NZD1605 was the last surving crew member that served on the HMS Achilles at River Platte. He passed away on 2nd May 2020 in Whakatane NZ, aged 97.
There are none left now.
Bob lived just around the corner from us here in Whakatane.
My Mother's older brother also served on that ship during the first battle, as the captain's writer, so witnessed plenty of action from the bridge.


Posted: 24 Sep 2020

I'm wondering where I might find photos of a presentation to Captain Parry on 29 March 1940 by my grandfather Cpt. Vivian Abrahams when the ship berthed in Suva, Fiji on route to New Zealand. The following article appreared in the New Zealand Herald on the following day (30 March 1940) under the banner 'Victory Tribute.'

“The presentation to HMS Achilles of a silver tankard, commemorating the River Plate engagement against the Graf Spee, in which the ship took a prominent part, was made yesterday by Captain VR Abrahams on behalf of the Fiji Defence Force. The tankard, which is decorated with the arms of the force, bears the inscription: ‘To HMS Achilles from the 1st Battalion, Fiji Defence Force, to commemorate the victory of the River Plate.’

In making the presentation to Captain W E Parry, commanding the Achilles, Captain Abrahams described how, on receipt of the news of the Graf Spee engagement, all work ceased in Fiji for a day, and those who knew Fiji would be able to imagine the celebrations that took place. He felt it was an honour to set foot on board a ship whose deeds were hallowed by her recent victory.

Captain Parry asked Captain Abrahams to thank Major C Brewster, commanding officer of the 1St Battalion, Fiji Defence Force, for the handsome gift. He said all his officers appreciated the great voluntary effort made by all ranks of the Fiji force. All in the Achilles look forward to revisiting Suva. Following the presentation Captain Abrahams lunched on board with Captain Parry.”

Grateful any help or guidance.

Paul Wood

Posted: 03 Jun 2020

My grandfather, Richard Sydney Coleman, was killed on HMNZS Achilles when the bomb struck X turret at Guadalcanal. I don’t suppose anyone had any memories of that time?

Paul Wood

Posted: 28 May 2020

I am researching my grandfather - Richard Sidney Coleman - who was killed at Guadalcanal on Achilles. If anyone could help I would be really grateful. Thank you.

Brett Herbert

Posted: 14 Apr 2020

Believed to be a Gunner on the Achilles
John Brett Cole or John Brett Herbert ??
Much appreciated.

Vina Anderson

Posted: 22 Jun 2019

I am looking for Information on Colin Bruce Anderson. Stoker Achhillies. Also Bellona and Kiwi.

Betty Russell

Posted: 15 Aug 2018

Hi, I'm keen to find out about my uncle, John Biggs, who served on Achilles. He was English, and came with her when she was seconded to NZ. He spent a couple of leaves with us in Timaru when I was small.I have some photos. I've always thought he was an engineer officer, but after the war, in 1952 when we visited him in Portsmouth, he was at HMS Vernon, which was a shore station and gunnery school, so perhaps he was a gunnery office on Achilles. My aunt (mother's sister) died and John remarried and we lost track of him.

Ann Weatherall. Daughter

Posted: 26 Apr 2017

Hi there just wondered please if I could get a record of service for my Dad
William Edward Chalmers born in 16 May 1919

Charles W Bohn

Posted: 07 Jan 2017

I have a medal awarded to PO Reger DC. I would like to be able to forward this to his family, but having trouble tracing any connections. Can anyone help?