HMNZS Leander

Page 6 – Last days

The Leander never fought under the New Zealand ensign again. Because British shipyards were fully occupied, the Admiralty ordered the ship to Boston, reaching the American city on 23 December 1943. The plan had been to repair and modernise the Leander, but in July an accidental explosion in a British dockyard created a cruiser crisis by severely damaging the Achilles, 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 the Achilles’ repairs continued, its crew would transfer to a new cruiser fitting out in Britain, HMS Gambia. Since the Leander would take longer to repair, its men would stand by the 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, though it would remain under Admiralty operational control.

The Leander left New Zealand service on 8 May 1944. The ship was a low priority job, and did not finally 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 the 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 20-Dec-2012