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?

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?


Posted: 28 Dec 2016

@Bruce Clements
Here us a link to an account of the Battle of the River Plate as seen through the eyes of Bernard Willis.

The account is compiled from first-hand source material by his daughter Valerie Willis.

It mentions your father RAF Sgt. Clements and goes on to list the compliment of aviation staff aboard Achilles at that time. The account Valerie has put together is a valuable resource in its own right.

Neill Atkinson

Posted: 20 Dec 2016

Hi William If George Berrisford served in the Royal New Zealand Navy then any personnel records should be held by the NZ Defence Force - see for guidance on accessing these records. If he served in the Royal Navy it appears any records would be held by the UK Ministry of Defence - you might find this guide helpful:

William Berrisford

Posted: 16 Dec 2016

Thanks for the reply and the info looks like it was hearsay but I always believed he was involved any idea how I can trace his service history please?


Posted: 13 Dec 2016

Hi William - there is an Achilles crew list at the time of the River Plate here, but I could not see his name on it: - scroll down to bottom.

William Berrisford

Posted: 11 Dec 2016

Hi I have always believed that my father served as Chief Petty Officer during the battle of the river plate operating the radio/radar he subsequently worked in intelligence for gchq he died in 1988 of brain cancer his name was George Berrisford
Can anyone tell me how I can get more info on this please to confirm?

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 Thurston JNR.

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.