HMS Euryalus in the Persian Gulf, 1951


I was a Terminal Superintendent in Abadan during the evacuation of the IOC Personnel from Iran. I was transferred to the Tug Firuzmand to escort the Euryalus to Basra. I still have a copy of the Daily Mail showing the Euryalus proceeding up the Shatt-el-Arab river to Basra. I attended a meeting on the warship to discuss the landing of commandos on the jetties at Abadan where, as a defensive measure the Iranian authorities had placed every barge and small craft as a barrier to a British Landing Party. Over the years I have pondered how history would have been altered had the British Forces been ordered to take the refinery and other installations. You may have information on the events leading to the evacuation or could point the way to any relevant history or any accounts of the disaster that was Abadan. However, when I saw the name Euryalus on your web site I was reminded of my short association with that ship. I would be delighted to hear from you, and would be willing to help in any further details of the visit of the Euryalus to Abadan or the details after the transport of Oil Workers to Basra.

Yours Faithfully
George Pickles
Ex Marine Engineer.Merchant Navy

Thank you for your email, and I would be grateful for any detail you may have about those times at Abadan, we probably in hindsight, should have seized and occupied the oil installations at Abadan at that time. Here we are 57 years on still concerned about oil from that area.
We are talking about two different ships here, both bearing the same name.
My HMS Euryalus was a WW1 cruiser sunk by a German U-boat, your HMS Euryalus was a Dido class cruiser commissioned in 1941.

In April 1951, she sailed for the Persian Gulf, to relieve the cruiser HMS Mauritius of the East Indies Squadron, and make her presence known to the Iranians who were threatening to take over the Anglo Iranian oil wells. May, she arrived in Bahrain. In June she sailed back for Malta after being relieved by the Malta based destroyers HMS Armada, HMS Saintes, HMS Vigo and HMS Gravelines.

In July 1951 she sailed once more for the Gulf, again making her way through the Suez Canal pausing only to pick up a platoon of Lancashire Fusiliers, this time arriving at Abadan on the 21st. In August 1952, HMS Euryalus was decommissioned, and later during the year she was recommissioned and again rejoined the 1st Cruiser Squadron in the Mediterranean.

See this report:
A Splutter of Musketry? The British Military Response to the Anglo-Iranian Oil Dispute, 1951
Author: Ian Speller
DOI: 10.1080/713999486
Publication Frequency: 4 issues per year
Published in: Contemporary British History, Volume 17, Issue 1 Spring 2003 , pages 39 - 66
Subjects: British History; Irish History;
Formats available: PDF (English)
Article Requests: Order Reprints : Request Permissions

      Purchase Article: US$28.00 - buy now add to cart [ show other buying options ]


This article examines the British response to the crisis that resulted from the Iranian decision to nationalise the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in 1951. The British government contemplated the use of military force from the outset of the crisis and a series of plans were developed. Unfortunately, in a manner similar to the Suez Crisis five years later, the military were unable to provide a suitable response until political considerations had made the use of force unattractive. Despite this, the Foreign Secretary, the Minister of Defence and the Chiefs of Staff continued to press for an armed response. This article uses newly released archival sources to examine the military plans and preparations and to analyse the way in which these interacted with political considerations to undermine the British position in Iran.
Keywords: Abadan Crisis; Military Planning
Illustrated London News September 1951.

September 15th

    * Five drawings of life on board the cruiser HMS Euryalus - as seen via the pencil of Midshipman F.E.R. Phillips, who was serving on the ship. At the time when the drawings were made, the cruiser was stationed off Abadan. Elsewhere, there is a four page feature on the newly completed oil refinery at Fawley, near Southampton, which was britain's'chief answer to the threat to the Middle East oil refineries.

Best regards, 

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