HMNZS Leander

Page 6 – Last days

Leander never fought under the New Zealand ensign again. Because British shipyards were fully occupied, the Admiralty ordered the ship to Boston, which it reached on 23 December 1943. The plan had been to repair and modernise Leander, but in July 1943 an accidental explosion in a British dockyard created a cruiser crisis by severely damaging Achilles, which was undergoing repair after a Japanese bomb wrecked X turret off Guadalcanal in January.

With two crews but no cruisers for them to man, the government moved fast; it wanted to keep skilled sailors at sea and to show that New Zealand was committed to waging war to the full. While Achilles’ repairs continued, its crew would transfer to a new cruiser fitting out in Britain, HMS Gambia. Since Leander would take longer to repair, its men would stand by Achilles at the dockyard. Neither the government nor the Admiralty were entirely happy about using the bigger Gambia, but they reached a compromise – New Zealand would crew the Gambia, but it would remain under Admiralty operational control.

Leander left New Zealand service on 8 May 1944. The ship was now a low priority, and it did not rejoin the Royal Navy until September 1945. By then the world was at peace, and the Royal Navy was shrinking. Despite all the modern equipment fitted to Leander, the ship paid off at Christmas 1947. Two years later it was scrapped.

How to cite this page

'Last days', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 10-Jan-2022