His Majesty's Ships - H.M.S. London
Motto: “Guide Us.”
A Cruiser of 10,000 tons with a main armament of eight 8-inch guns, H.M.S. London was first commissioned at Portsmouth in 1929. For most of the ensuing ten years she was flagship of the First Cruiser Squadron in the Mediterranean.
When war began in 1939 she was undergoing an extensive refit, amounting practically to reconstruction. In consequence she now differs widely in appearance from her sister ships, H.M.S. Devonshire and Sussex and H.M.A.S. Shropshire. While the latter have their original three funnels and light tripod masts, all with a very distinct rake, the London has two upright funnels of unequal height. Her masts also are without any rake.
In 1942, enemy agents sighting the transformed London at a distance in the Indian Ocean failed to identify her; but observing her guns to be obviously heavier than 6-inch, they reported her as one of the new battleships of the King George V class. This impression was strengthened when the old Centurion, skilfully disguised with a wooden superstructure and dummy guns to resemble such a ship, was photographed by spies. Thus were the Japanese persuaded that at least two new British battleships had joined the East Indies Fleet, a very valuable delusion at that time of crisis.
In the course of the war the London sank two enemy supply ships and destroyed Japanese shore stations. She accepted the surrender of the Japanese forces at Sabang in August 1945.