When HMS Exeter steamed into the Invergordon anchorage several days after the mutiny began, crewmen from the other ships cheered her wildly instead of calmly manning the rails as they would have normally done. Her officers and crew had no idea what the hell was going on. HMS Exeter would gone on to gain fame in the Battle of the River Plate
Because HMS Exeter had suffered such extensive damage in her fight against the German warship Admiral Graf Spee, the Admiralty decided to scrap the ship. However, Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty (the civilian head of the Royal Navy), saw the Exeter as a symbol of victory in the classic British naval tradition over the Germans and ordered the ship completely rebuilt. Sadly, this gallant ship was later sunk by the Japanese off Sumatra.
After her extensive refit, Exeter was sent to join the China Force, a pitifully small group of Royal Navy ships later attached to the ABDA task force (American, British, Dutch, Australian). This hurriedly put together force tried in vain to halt the Japanese advance into the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia).
The ABDA naval task force was comprised of different types of ships from four different countries, all coming under the command of Dutch Rear Admiral Karel Doorman, who perished in the Battle of the Java Sea on February 27, 1942. During that battle, most of the ships in the ABDA task force were sunk by the Japanese. HMS Exeter limped away but was caught and sunk two days later by the Japanese Navy.
From the Daily Telegraph of London:
Lest we forget: HMS Exeter was sunk in action on March 1, 1942 by the Imperial Japanese Navy. According to the Daily Telegraph of London, fifty members of Exeter’s crew were killed in action. Six hundred fifty were made prisoners of war by the Japanese. Of those, the Japanese beat, starved, or executed one hundred fifty-two.
The announcement that HMS Exeter had finally been located after a six year search was only made in 2008.