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In Memory of



...... and HMS INDOMITABLE in the INDIAN & PACIFIC OCEANS, 1944-1945, Part 1 of 4

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Leading Air Mechanic Maurice Whiteing (click to enlarge)

on to Part 2
or return to World War 2, 1939-1945


Maurice Whiteing died on Saturday 7 February 2009. I am only too glad the story and photographs on these pages will continue to commemorate his life and naval career.

These notes and some of the captions to the many photographs that follow have been compiled by Paul Whiteing in conversation with his father, Maurice, (then) approaching 90 years of age. There may be errors, but these pale into insignificance compared with the large number of fine images, which give such an interesting insight into the career of HMS Indomitable in the latter years of the war and some of the men who served her and her fighting aircraft.


Naval-History.Net is pleased to host these photographs. Some attempt has been made to group them into chronological order, but there are gaps. Any additions by Gordon Smith to the original photograph captions or text are in italics. My thanks to Lieutenant Commander Geoff Mason RN (Rtd) for the chronology of HMS Indomitable used here.


Paul Whiteing can be contacted at paulw@[REMOVE-THIS]

Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net


Although belonging nearer the end of the story, this is a fascinating paper knife fashioned from bits and pieces of aircraft and Kamikaze's in the carrier's workshops

Leading Air Mechanic Maurice Whiteing .....


In the early part of the war MAURICE WHITEING was in a protected trade as a coachbuilder and converted many types of vehicle for war use, but volunteered for the Royal Navy in 1941. The training establishments he attended (not necessarily in the right order) were (1) probably basic training at HMS Vincent, Gosport, (2) Melksham, Wiltshire, (3) Air Mechanics training at HMS Gosling, Warrington, and (4) Air Electrical training at HMS Ariel, Worthy Down, near Winchester.


Maurice Whiteing middle row, far right - presumably basic training


He went to sea on 26 December 1943, two days after his marriage, joined HMS Atheling at Greenock as an Aircraft Mechanic (Electric) in a Corsair Squadron, and lists the areas of service as the Atlantic, Arctic, Med, Suez and Aden. Transferring to HMS Begum with Hellcat Squadron No. 1839 and visiting Colombo in Ceylon, the squadron joined HMS Indomitable in approximately January 1944, with the Eastern Fleet in attacks on Sumatra, visits to Australia, and later the British Pacific Fleet in the Pacific war against Japan. After VJ day he served until November 1945, returning to Pompey (Portsmouth) around December 1945. During his 2 years on the Indomitable, he became Leading Mechanic and was "due" P.O. rank but "it didn't happen".

After the war he went to Duples (coach building) in their experimental shop and soon after joined with some others to form their own coach building company - Criterion Coach Works in Finchley, London. Many years later, he changed to woodworking for displays in shops and formed Criterion Display Works with one of the previous partners. He retired at age 72.


Maurice's family also did their share of war service. His wife, KATHERINE (KIT) WHITEING, joined the Women's Land Army in 1940, and served at Broxted, Essex, for 5 years. His brother GORDON WHITEING was a T124X rating in the Merchant Navy, on a merchant ship rigged with guns (he couldn't recollect the name of the ship, nor any more details - presumably a DEMS or Defensively Equipped Merchant Ship). Paul Whiteing adds, "Gordon "did ok" according to dad. He earned 4/6d per day where dad was only on 2/0d per day in the F.A.A.". Finally ARTHUR (JUMBO) FISHER, Kit Whiteing's twin brother served as a signalman on a minesweeper (and again, sadly - couldn't recollect the name of the ship, nor any more details)


January to April 1944


Under repair and refit.




Completed refit and returned to UK to embark aircraft.




Passage to Trincomalee.




Joined Eastern Fleet with HM Aircraft Carrier VICTORIOUS.




Prepared for operational duties with Fleet (see - Indian Ocean Campaign Summary)

Suez Canal

Suez Canal

Banks of Suez Canal - presumably c June 1944

  August 1944



With Eastern Fleet to provide air-sea rescue facilities during US air attacks by XX Bomber Command on Sumatra (Operation BOOMERANG).




Launched air attacks on Padang with HMS ILLUSTRIOUS and HMS VICTORIOUS covered by HM Battleship HOWE and units of Eastern Fleet. Targets included cement works at Indaroeng and harbour installations at Emmerhaven (Operation BANQUET).




(For details of Eastern Fleet operations see OPERATION PACIFIC).

Crossing the line - 16 August 1944

Pipelline comes aboard

Skipper Eccles greets him


Watching the fun

Hellcat off to Padang, Sumatra, 24 August 1944


another Hellcat off to Padang, 24 August 1944

Barracuda about to be ditched. Flight deck and pilot "slightly bruised",

Padang, Sumatra, August 1944

Funeral of Air Mechanic (O) George Cornell, Trincomalee,

died 28 August 1944 (and following)




Deployed with HMS VICTORIOUS escorted by HMS HOWE, two cruisers and seven Fleet Destroyers to launch air attacks on Sigli, Sumatra and photo-reconnaissance over Nicobar Islands (Operation LIGHT).




Two aircraft accidentally attacked HM Submarine SPIRIT which was acting as Plane Guard.

On the way with "luggage" to Picabars (Nicobars - 18th?) 14 September 1944

Barracuda taking off for Sigli, Sumatra, 24 September 1944

Barracuda turning to return from Picabar (Nicobar) Island coast, with

rescue submarine surfaced below - possibly HM S/M Spirit

Barracuda returning from Sigli, Sumatra safe and sound, landing on 


Possibly September 1944 - Indomitable, Howe, Victorious

Victorious, Howe from Indomitable

Hellcat touches down, skids and goes over

Moment before Hellcat went over and Sub Lieutenant McKenzie

was lost, 17 October 1944

  October 1944



Deployed with Task Group 63.3 for diversionary operations in Indian Ocean during US landings on Leyte (Operation MILLET). Six aircrew were lost.




Launched air attacks with HMS VICTORIOUS on Nicobar Islands.




HM Cruiser PHOEBE provided fighter direction facilities and AA defence.




Group was screened by HM Destroyers WHELP, WAKEFUL, WAGER and WESSEX.




Repeated air attacks on Nicobars.




During retaliatory attacks by Japanese torpedo bombers, ten of the twelve enemy aircraft were destroyed.




Deployed with HMS ILLUSTRIOUS to launch air attacks on Belawan Deli.




Cover was provided by HM Cruisers NEWCASTLE, ARGONAUT and BLACK PRINCE screened by HM Destroyers KEMPENFELT, WHIRLWIND, WRANGLER, WESSEX and WAKEFUL. (Operation OUTFLANK).




(Note: Original target on Pangkalan Brandon could not be attacked due to weather conditions in the area).




Became part of British Pacific Fleet with HMS ILLUSTRIOUS and HMS VICTORIOUS.




(For details see TASK FORCE 57 by P Smith and CARRIER VICTORY by JM Ludley).




With HMS ILLUSTRIOUS launched air attacks on Belawan Deli covered by HM Cruisers NEWCASTLE, ARGONAUT and BLACK PRINCE screened by seven Fleet Destroyers. (Operation ROBSON.)


Possibly late 1944, off Sumatra - Pilot shot down over the fleet, ditched his aircraft, picked up by accompanying destroyer and returned to us. Half way across and he nearly got a soaking.


(The destroyer is HMS Wager. RN ships in the British Pacific Fleet adopted non-standard pennant numbers to fit in with USN operating procedures - all destroyers had 'D' Flag Superior - the numbers were chosen so as not to clash with USN hull numbers, and were allocated alphabetically within ship classes. Wager was D30 - thanks to Tim Stoneman).

Possibly late 1944, off Sumatra - Sub Lt (A) RNVR -

same pilot on breeches buoy? "made it, still dry"

on to Part 2
or return to World War 2, 1939-1945

revised 08/04/09