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

28 comments have been posted about HMS Achilles

What do you know?

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?


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?