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

15 comments have been posted about HMS Achilles

What do you know?

Bruce Clements

Posted: 30 Mar 2016

My dad,HH Clements served on Achilles during the Plate,took a lot of ribbing on the lower deck as he was a flight sergeant on the walrus catapult aircraft,when he left the ship it was the saddest moment of his life.

James Bowers

Posted: 23 Mar 2016

My dad, Sick Bay CPO Albert (Jack) Bowers served aboard the Achilles during the war. He married my US citizen mother after the war and they moved to the States, where he lived, worked and retired until he passed away in 1996. If anyone has any pics or memories of him at that time, I'd like to know. He once told me that during the Battle of the River Plate, a piece of shrapnel just missed his head and became embedded in a bulkhead next to him. He removed it and kept it as a lucky charm, the one that was meant for him, for the duration of the war. He was later involved in the Normandy invasion

William Thursto...

Posted: 06 Feb 2016

My late Dad William (Bill) Thurston was a gunner on the Achilles, but as a lot have said it was hard to get him to talk about his wartime experiences! I had a pleasant surprise about 2 years ago when my wife and i visited the Navy Museum at Devonport. I was looking at a photo below which the caption read words to the effect "Number 1 gun crew resting after a firing mission" and i said to my wife, "who do you reckon that is in the middle with his shirt off.......Thats your Dad she shouted", so i ran to the office, and a week later i had a copy of the photo!!!!!! mum and Dad got engaged under the no.1 turret which now stands inside the main gates of HMNZS Philomel........Dad then took the ship back to the UK for repairs and whilst there, his mate and him saw a notice inviting NZ ratings to enlist in the RN, so as a result, Mum didnt see him again for 3 years!!!!!


Posted: 14 Jun 2015

Hi Colin, your uncle Dougle is listed as an AB at the time of the Battle of the River Plate. If you go to and click on 'accessing military service records' in the side menu it will take you to a page explaining what you have to do to get a copy of your uncle's service record. His service number was NZ 1076. That should give you some of the detail you are looking for.

Colin Murphy

Posted: 18 May 2015

I am researching the War record of my uncle Douglas Gordon West ( known on board as Dougal) who served on the HMNZS Achilles during the 2nd World War. I know he was on board during the Battle of the River Platte but during my childhood he only spoke of that encounter. War records are sketchy and, for a "computer dyslexic" like me, are difficult to source. I would appreciate any information anyone can provide.

Kshitij Karnik

Posted: 18 May 2015

My father served as a sea cadet in the INS Delhi in 71 during the Indo-Pak war, though she didn't see any actual combat. She was a very popular ship in the Indian Navy ending her career as a training ship. The present chief of the Indian Navy, an Admiral was also a cadet on her.


Posted: 24 Apr 2015

My Dad served on the ship and loved it too. Again, he refused to speak of the war. I still have copies of the photos he took at Nagasaki 3 days after the bomb dropped. Dad would cry and lock himself away if ever we kids asked about them. I would love to know if the ship stopped in at Espiritu Santo in New Hebrides on the way to Japan during the battle for the Pacific in 1945. Does anyone know?
Thank you. Chantal, daughter of Charles Goldie Western (Auckland).


Posted: 16 Apr 2015

My dad Petty Officer Edward Thomas Gilroy served on this ship
He loved this ship and although he never spoke a word about WW2 he clearly had incidents
when he died we found he dived in the old style suits looking for mines
after the war we never saw him go for a swim even
if only we knew to ask him for his stories

Johanna Urquhart

Posted: 13 Jan 2015

My Grandad, Allen Joseph Garthwaite, was on this ship but he passed away at the age of 69. I do not know what role he had while on board or how long he served for.

Laurie Sanders

Posted: 26 Sep 2014

Reply to Kevin Heffer,
My dad, Peter Sanders is still living happily in Tauranga aged 92 this last August. He was interviewed by Richard Carstens about his war history and some of the information will be with the Auckland War Museum. Dad still lives on his own in his own house and still does his own gardening. (But I now mow his lawns).