HMS Sussex owed her modernisation to heavy damage from enemy action. While being refitted by Fairfields in York Hill Basin on the Clyde, she was hit by a German bomb on November 22, 1940, when the refit was almost complete. Being unmanned and filled with inflammable stores she was very soon gutted by fire and wrecked by an explosion. In order to avoid a major catastrophe the order was given to flood her, and the Sussex capsized and sank with hundreds of tons of water on board. Repairs to damage were carried out by Alexander Stephens & Co, assisted by John Brown, and lasted until August 9. 1942, a total of over twenty months. When she recommissioned she had substantially the same appearance as before, but her pole masts had been replaced by tripod and her secondary armament was entirely new. A large number of internal alterations were also made, but no armour was added as had been in the ‘Kent’ class and HMS London. She went on to serve in the Home Fleet in 1942-43.
The diorama depicts her in August 1942, as in the series of three photographs in Alan Raven’s Man of War County Class Cruisers book. This dio is set on a rather uncharacteristically small base in order to be accommodated on a particular shelf in our family cottage in West Sussex. The photos in the book show very little activity going on in and around the ship thus the dio provides an opportunity to liven things up a bit. The ship is at anchor in the Clyde about to take on board her Walrus aircraft. A tug passes towing a barge of scrap metal destined for Clydeside. A Clyde fishing boat is bound for the open sea.
HMS Sussex is a straightforward build of the excellent WEM kit (editor's note: Chris's words, not mine!). The Walrus is also a WEM kit with etch brass details. The tug and barge are modified from the Hasegawa Tugger set whilst the fishing boat is scratch built.