Operation Crimson

'Crimson' (i) was a British naval raid by aircraft and surface units on Sabang island off the northern tip of Japanese-occupied Sumatra (22/27 July 1944).

Early in July, by which time the fleet carriers Indomitable and Victorious had joined his Eastern Fleet, Admiral Sir James Somerville planned an ambitious foray for the growing strength of his force.

On 22 July Somerville led his fleet 1 in an operation to bombard the Japanese installations at Sabang at the northern tip of Sumatra in the Japanese-occupied Netherlands East Indies.

At dawn on 25 July between 34 and 39 Vought Corsair single-engined carrierborne fighter-bombers, under the command of Lieutenant Commander F. R. A. Turnbull, attacked the nearby airfields, but found few targets.

Then the heavy warships and the destroyers Racehorse, Raider, Rapid, Relentless, Rocket, Roebuck and Rotherham struck at Sabang with 294 15-in (381-mm), 134 8-in (203.2-mm), 324 6-in (152.4-mm), about 500 5-in (127-mm) and 123 4.7-in (119.4-mm) shells directed at targets including shore batteries and a radar station. After this initial blow, the cruiser Tromp and the destroyers Quilliam, Quality and Quickmatch entered the harbour and fired eight torpedoes, 208 6-in (152.4-mm), 717 5-in (127-mm) and 668 4.7-in (119.4-mm) shells at close range. In return, Tromp received four hits and Quality and Quilliam one hit each from the coastal batteries.

Thirteen Corsair fighters intercepted a Japanese attack by 10 aircraft and shot down seven of them, losing two of their own number. The submarines Templar and Tantivy were on hand in the air/sea rescue role.

The air and surface ship attacks jointly inflicted considerable damage on the oil tanks and repair shops of the port, and sank two small vessels (1,500 tons).

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The fleet carriers Illustrious and Victorious, the battleships Queen Elizabeth, Valiant and Free French Richelieu, the battle-cruiser Renown, the heavy cruiser Cumberland, the light cruisers Ceylon, Kenya, Nigeria, Free Dutch Tromp and New Zealand Gambia, the light anti-aircraft cruiser Phoebe, and an eventual 10 destroyers (Quality, Quilliam, Racehorse, Raider, Rapid, Relentless, Rotherham, Rocket, Roebuck and Australian Quickmatch)