HMAS Nepal
N Class
Thornycroft & Co, Southhampton, England
Laid Down
9 September 1939
4 December 1941
11 May 1942
22 October 1945
Dimensions & Displacement
  • 1760 tons (standard)
  • 2550 tons (full load)
Length 356 feet 6 inches
Beam 35 feet 8 inches
Draught 16 feet 4 inches (maximum)
Speed 36 knots
Crew 226
Machinery Parsons geared turbines
Horsepower 40,000
  • 6 x 4.7-inch guns
  • 1 x 4-inch gun
  • 1 x 2-pounder 4 barrel Pom Pom
  • 2 x .303 Lewis machine guns
Torpedoes 10 x 21-inch torpedo tubes (2 pentad mounts)
Other Armament
  • 6 x 20mm Oerlikons
  • Depth charges
Battle Honours
HMAS Nepal Badge

HMAS Nepal was one of eight N Class destroyers laid down in British yards during 1939 to the order of the Royal Navy. Five (Napier, Nestor, Nepal, Nizam and Norman (I)) were transferred to the Royal Australian Navy, two to the Royal Netherlands Navy and one to the Polish Navy. The only one to become a war loss, HMAS Nestor, was sunk by air attack in the Mediterranean on 16 June 1942.

Nepal commissioned on 11 May 1942 under the command of Commander Franklyn B Morris RAN.

She was the last of the Australian N Class destroyers to commission and began her war service with the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow. In June 1942 she returned to her builders yards at Southampton for docking in preparation for her movement to the Indian Ocean.

It was during this time that Nepal was used by Two Cities Films to represent the fictional destroyer HMS Torrin in the British war film In Which We Serve, starring Noel Coward. The film was based on the exploits of HMS Kelly while under the command of Coward's friend Lord Louis Mountbatten.

Noel Coward on the compass platform of HMAS Nepal with Commander FB Morris, RAN.
Noel Coward on the compass platform of HMAS Nepal with Commander FB Morris, RAN.

In July 1942 she sailed from Glasgow for Kilindini where she joined her sister ships Napier, Norman (I) and Nizam as a unit of the Eastern Fleet, on escort, fleet exercise and patrol duties. In September 1942 Nepal took part in the second phase of the Madagascar campaign. Operations beginning on 10 September with the capture of Majunga ended with the Allied occupation of the entire island and the surrender of the Vichy forces on 5 November 1942. Nepal was part of the forces assembled for the bloodless battle Tamatave, Madagascar's chief port, captured on 18 September. The only shots fired by the Australian ships came from Norman (I).

Nepal spent the closing months of 1942 based at Kilindini, escorting convoys between Kilindini and Durban and on anti-submarine patrols in the Cape area. Under Commodore Arliss (Commodore (D)), Commander Morris performed the duties of Captain (D) with the Eastern Fleet.

HMAS Nepal was one of five N Class destroyers transferred to the Royal Australian Navy for service during World War II
HMAS Nepal was one of five N Class destroyers transferred to the Royal Australian Navy for service during World War II.

Escort and general fleet duties kept Nepal fully occupied through the first two uneventful months of 1943. On 19 March 1943 she sailed from Durban for Australia, arriving in Fremantle on 3 April. En route she suffered slight damage when a severe cyclone was encountered between Mauritius and Diego Garcia. A refit at Sydney occupied the period of 8 April to 22 May 1943.

HMAS Nepal wearing her wartime disruptive pattern camouflage paint.
HMAS Nepal wearing her wartime disruptive pattern camouflage paint.

In June 1943 Nepal returned to Indian Ocean convoy escort and patrol duties, operating as a unit of the Eastern Fleet for the remainder of the year. Nepal remained with the Eastern Fleet through the first seven months of 1944, operating from the re-opened base at Trincomalee in Ceylon. Much of this period was spent in Indian waters, escorting and exercising with the fleet.

In April 1944 she was one of the destroyer screen protecting the carriers USS Saratoga and HMS Illustrious for the air strikes against the Japanese held port of Sabang in Sumatra. The following month, on 17 May, Nepal took part in the strike against Surabaya in Java by the same two carriers.

In August 1944 Nepal returned to Australian for refit. She then returned to the Eastern Fleet on 1 November when she arrived at Trincomalee in company with Napier. Fleet exercises and screening the carrier HMS Victorious to Bombay occupied the remainder of November.

On 7 December 1944 Nepal joined Napier at Chittagong in India, preparatory to proceeding up the Mayer Peninsula as fire support ship to the 74th Indian Brigade ashore. Nepal began her support fire on 14 December when she fired on enemy gun positions. It was her first shot fired in anger during the war. The bombardment of Japanese positions continued through the remainder of December, Nepal alternating with her sister ship Napier as fire support destroyer, running to Chittagong every third day for stores and ammunition.

In January 1945 Nepal took part in further Burma operations, including the capture of Akyab Island on 3 January. The entire naval force for this combined operation comprised the cruisers, HM Ships Newcastle, Nigeria and Phoebe; the destroyers Napier, Nepal and HM Ships Pathfinder, Raider and Rapid; and the sloops, HM Ships Shoreham and Narbada and HMIS Jumna. The Japanese withdrawal turned the planned assault into a routing landing obviating any need for fire support from the sea. On 6 January Nepal left the Burma theatre for docking at Colombo.

Transfer preparations conducted with HMAS Nepal
Transfer preparations conducted with HMAS Nepal.

On 25 January she returned to Burma for the seizure of Cheduba Island by Royal Marines of the Eastern Fleet, embarked in the cruisers Newcastle, Kenya and Nigeria. Nepal embarked to Commander-in-Chief, East Indies Fleet, Admiral Sir Arthur Power, who witnessed the operation from her decks. There was only minor opposition ashore. Nepal took no part in the bombardment.

On 1 February Nepal resumed an offensive role in the Burma theatre, shelling Japanese positions on Ramree Island on this and the succeeding two days. On 5 February she badly damaged her starboard propeller when she struck a submerged rock in the Kaleindaumg River. At this time she was engaged in preventing the withdrawal of Japanese troops from Ramree Island. However, operating on one engine she remained in the Burma theatre until 12 February when her part in the operations ended.

On 1 March 1945 Nepal's World War II service in the Indian Ocean finally ended when she sailed from Trincomalee to join the British Pacific Fleet in Sydney.

In April 1945 she joined the British Task Force 57 which participated in the invasion of Okinawa, Operation Iceberg, between March and May 1945.

During the closing stages of the Pacific War, Nepal continued operating as a fleet destroyer with the British Pacific Fleet, screening the Task Force or the replenishment fleet, the Fleet Train.

The period of 7 to 28 June 1945 was spent in Sydney and exercising with other ships of the 7th Flotilla at Jervis Bay. In July she rejoined the British Pacific Fleet at sea. The last day of hostilities found Nepal at Manus.

On 6 September 1945 Nepal arrived in Tokyo Bay, four days after the surrender ceremony. She spent five weeks in Japanese waters. On 22 October 1945 she returned to Sydney for reversion to the Royal Navy.

The crew of HMAS Nepal, shortly before the ships return to the Royal Navy. November 1945. (Ellis Collection) 

During her service with the Royal Australian Navy, Nepal steamed 224,628 miles and was 14,274 hours underway. Nepal was broken up in the United Kingdom in 1956.

HMAS Nepal decommissioned on 22 October 1945 after steaming over 200,000 miles for the Royal Australian Navy. She was transferred back to the Royal Navy and was broken up in 1956.
HMAS Nepal decommissioned on 22 October 1945 after steaming over 200,000 miles for the Royal Australian Navy. She was transferred back to the Royal Navy and was broken up in 1956.

Further reading

‘N Class: The Story of HMA Ships Napier, Nizam, Nestor, Norman & Nepal’ by LJ Lind and MA Payne - published by The Naval Historical Society of Australia, Garden Island 1974.