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Major British Warship Losses in World War 2
 

AIRCRAFT CARRIERS, including Fleet, Escort, Merchant Aircraft Carriers & CAM-ships

 

by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Ark Royal, lost 14 November 1941 (Courtesy NavyPhotos/Ben Titheridge)

on to Cruisers

 
 

LOSSES BY YEAR and AREA

  (ctl - constructive total loss)

 

 

Year

Atlantic

Europe

Mediterranean

Far East

 

1939

 

carrier Courageous  

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

1940

 

-

 

carrier Glorious  

 

-

 

-

 

1941

 

escort carrier Audacity

 

-

 

carrier Ark Royal

 

-

 

1942

 

escort carrier Avenger 

 

-

 

carrier Eagle

 

carrier Hermes

 

1943

 

-

 

escort carrier Dasher

 

-

 

-

 

1944

 

escort carrier Nabob

(RCN, ctl)  

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

1945

 

 

-

 

escort carrier Thane (ctl)

 

-

 

-

 

 


 

 

 

EARLY and FLEET AIRCRAFT CARRIERS

 

 

10. ARGUS (survived),14,000 tons, 20 knots, 20 aircraft, 370 crew plus aircrew, 1918

 

HMS Argus (NavyPhotos/Mark Teadham)

 

 

11. EAGLE, 22,600 tons, 24 knots, 20 aircraft, 750 crew plus aircrew, 1920, lost: 

EAGLE (Capt L D Mackintosh), 11th August 1942, Western Mediterranean, north of Algiers, Algeria (38.05N, 03.02E) – torpedoed by German ‘U.73’ (Rosenbaum). Providing air cover for Gibraltar/Malta convoy 'Pedestal'; 159 men lost out a wartime crew of 1,160 (Casualty List) (Mediterranean - Malta Convoys)

 

HMS Eagle (NavyPhotos)

 

12. HERMES - 10,800 tons, 25 knots, 15 aircraft, 660 crew plus aircrew, 1923, lost: 

HERMES (Capt R F Onslow+), 9th April 1942, Indian Ocean off south east coast of Ceylon (07.35N, 82.05E) - by Japanese carrier dive-bombers. Part of British Eastern Fleet returning to Trincomalee; 293 crew lost (Casualty List) (Japanese Conquests - Carrier Attacks on Ceylon)

 

HMS Hermes (NavyPhotos)

 

 

13. FURIOUS (survived) - 22,400 tons, 30 knots, 36 aircraft, 1,200 crew, 1925

 

HMS Furious (NavyPhotos)

 

 

 

14. Courageous class, 2 ships - 22,500 tons, 30 knots, 48 aircraft, 1,200 crew, 1928/30, both lost: 

COURAGEOUS (Capt W T Makeig-Jones+), 17th September 1939, North Atlantic, south west of Ireland (50.10N, 14.45W) - torpedoed by German ‘U.29’ (Schuhart). On anti-U-boat patrol with destroyer screen in Western Approaches to British Isles; 520 men including 36 RAF personnel lost (Casualty List) (Battle of the Atlantic).

 

GLORIOUS (Capt G D'Oyly-Hughes+), 8th June 1940, Western Europe, west of Lofoten Islands in Norwegian Sea (c69.00N, 05.00E) - by 11in gunfire of German battlecruisers 'Scharnhorst' and 'Gneisenau'. Sailing independently from northern Norway at end of Allied evacuation; 1,159 crew and 59 RAF personnel sailing from Norway were lost. There were 39 RN and 3 RAF survivors, of whom 3 died. Escorting destroyers Acasta and Ardent also sunk (Casualty List) (Norwegian Campaign)

 

HMS Glorious (NavyPhotos)

 

 

15. ARK ROYAL - 22,000 tons, 31 knots, 60 aircraft, 1,570 crew, 1938, lost: 

ARK ROYAL (Capt L E Maund), 14th November 1941, foundered in tow in Western Mediterranean, 30 miles east of Gibraltar - by 1 torpedo on the 13th from German ‘U.81’ (Guggenberger) in 36.03N, 04.45W. Returning with Force H to Gibraltar after ferrying Hurricane fighters within flying range of Malta; 1 man killed. (Casualty List) (Mediterranean - Battle for Malta)

 

HMS Ark Royal (NavyPhotos/Ben Titheridge)

 

16. Illustrious class, FORMIDABLE, ILLUSTRIOUS, IMPLACABLE, INDEFATIGABLE, INDOMITABLE, VICTORIOUS, 6 ships - 23,000 tons, 31 knots, 36+ aircraft, 1,400 crew, 1940-44

 

HMS Formidable

 

 

17. UNICORN, built as aircraft maintenance ship - 14,700 tons, 24 knots, 35 aircraft, 1,200 crew, 1943

 

HMS Unicorn post-war (NavyPhotos)

 

 

18. Colossus class, COLOSSUS, GLORY, OCEAN, PIONEER, VENERABLE, VENGEANCE, 6 ships completed by war's end - 13,200 tons, 25 knots, 40 aircraft, 1,300 crew, 1944-45. 'Pioneer' commissioned as aircraft maintenance ship

 

HMS Vengeance (NavyPhotos)

 

 

ESCORT CARRIERS

 

 

19. AUDACITY - 11,000 tons deep load, 15 knots, 6 aircraft, 1941. Ex-German prize 'Hannover', lost:  

AUDACITY (Cdr D W MacKendrick+), 21st December 1941, North Atlantic, NE of Azores (43.55N, 19.50W) - torpedoed by German ‘U.751 (Bigalk). Providing air cover for Gibraltar/UK convoy HG.76; 73 men lost (Casualty List) (Battle of the Atlantic)

 

HMS Audacity (CyberHeritage)

 

 

20. Archer class, ARCHER, AVENGER, BITER, DASHER, (CHARGER), 5 ships built in US - 8,200 tons, 17 knots, 15 aircraft, 550 crew, 1941-42. 'Charger' retained by US Navy as training ship, 2 lost: 

AVENGER (Capt A P Colthurst), 15th November 1942, North Atlantic off the Strait of Gibraltar (36.15N, 07.45W) - torpedoed by German ‘U.155’ (Piening). Providing air cover for return North Africa/UK convoy MKF.1 following Operation 'Torch'; 504 crew lost, 17 saved (Casualty List) (French North Africa Campaign)

 

DASHER (Capt L A Boswell), 27th March 1943, Western Europe, 5 miles south of Cumbraes Island in Firth of Clyde, SW Scotland - by aviation gasoline explosion. Working up after repairs to storm-damage sustained during Russian convoy JW.53 the previous month; 358 crew lost, 149 saved (Casualty List) (following Russian Convoy)

 

HMS Archer (NavyPhotos)

 

21. Attacker class, ATTACKER, BATTLER, CHASER, FENCER, HUNTER, PURSUER, STALKER, STRIKER, 8 ships all built in US, none lost - 11,400 tons, 17 knots, 18 aircraft, 650 crew, 1942-43

HMS Battler (NavyPhotos)

 

 

22. Ruler class, AMEER, ARBITER, ATHELING, BEGUM, EMPEROR, EMPRESS, KHEDIVE, NABOB, PATROLLER, PREMIER, PUNCHER, QUEEN, RAJAH, RANEE, RAVAGER, REAPER, RULER, SEARCHER, SHAH, SLINGER, SMITER, SPEAKER, THANE, TRACKER, TROUNCER, TRUMPETER, 26 ships all built in US - 11,400 tons, 17 knots, 24 aircraft, 650 crew, 1943-44 (some sources include 'Ravager', 'Searcher' and 'Tracker' in 'Attacker' class), 2 not repaired: 

NABOB (RCN-manned) (Capt H N Lay RCN), damaged 22nd August 1944, Arctic Ocean, north west of North Cape in Barents Sea (71.42N, 19.11E) - torpedoed by German ‘U.354’ (Sthamer). With Home Fleet covering Fleet Air Arm attack on the 'Tirpitz' in Altenfiord, Norway and also Russian convoy JW.59. Not repaired and laid up; 21 crew lost (Casualty List) (Russian Convoys)

 

THANE (Capt E R J Baker), damaged 15th January, 1945, Western Europe, off Clyde Light Vessel in Firth of Clyde, SW Scotland (55.08N, 05.25W) - torpedoed by German ‘U.1172’ (Kuhlmann). (Originally credited to ‘U.482’ which had already been lost). Believed ferrying aircraft from Northern Ireland to Britain. Not repaired and laid up; 10 crew lost (Casualty List) (Battles of Britain - U-boat Inshore Campaign).

HMS Arbiter (NavyPhotos)

 

 

23. British-built Escort carriers adapted from merchant ship hulls, ACTIVITY, CAMPANIA, NAIRANA, VINDEX, 4 ships built in Britain - circa 12,000 tons, 17 knots, 15 aircraft, 700 crew, 1942-44

 

HMS Nairana (NavyPhotos)

 

 

 

24. PRETORIA CASTLE, ex-armed merchant cruiser - 17,400 tons, 17 knots, 15 aircraft, 1943

 

HMS Pretoria Castle (NavyPhotos)

 

 

 

 

 

MERCHANT AIRCRAFT CARRIERS (MAC-Ships)

 

 

Oil or grain bulk cargo carriers with superstructures removed and flight decks added. Manned by Merchant Navy crews, with Fleet Air Arm personnel to maintain and fly the aircraft - mainly A/S Swordfish and Sea Hurricanes. The ships flew the Red Ensign and some aircraft carried ‘Merchant Navy’ instead of ‘Royal Navy’ on their fuselage.

 

25. Empire class Grain Carriers, EMPIRE MacALPINE, EMPIRE MacKENDRICK, EMPIRE MacANDREW, EMPIRE MacDERMOTT, EMPIRE MacRAE, EMPIRE MacCALLUM, 7 ships - 8,000 tons, 12 knots, 4 aircraft, crew not known, launched December 1942-January 1944. Equipped with hangar and lift

 

26. Empire Class Oil Tankers, EMPIRE MacKAY, EMPIRE MacCOLL, EMPIRE MacMAHON, EMPIRE MacCABE, 4 ships - 9,000 tons, 12 knots, 3 aircraft, crew not known, launched May-July 1943. No hangar and lift; aircraft stored and maintained on deck

 

27. Rapana Class Oil Tankers, ACARUS, ADULA, ALEXIA, AMASTRA, ANCYLUS, GADILA, MACOMA, MIRALDA, RAPANA, 9 ships - 12,000 tons, 12 knots, 3 aircraft, crew not known, converted 1942-44. Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company tankers. ‘Gadila’ and ‘Macoma’ operated under the Dutch ensign. No hangar and lift; aircraft stored and maintained on deck.

 

 

 

 

CATAPULT ARMED MERCHANTMEN (CAM-Ships)

 

 

Ordinary merchant ships fitted with a rocket driven catapult on the forecastle. They carried one Mk1(a) Hurricane with minimum modifications and flown by volunteer RAF pilots, were known as Sea Hurricanes, ‘Catafighters’ or ‘Hurricats’. Quickly put into service in 1941 before the first escort carriers appeared with the aim of driving off or shooting down German bombers and reconnaissance aircraft, particularly Focke Wulf Condors. Once flown off the pilot usually had to ditch and hope to be picked up, or make for the nearest friendly shore. The first ships were requisitioned for Naval Service as Auxiliary Fighter Catapult Ships and sailed under the White Ensign. Later CAM-ships were merchantmen.

 

According to Cdr Rippon in ‘Evolution of Engineering in the Royal Navy’, Volume 2, some 35 CAM-ships made about 175 voyages in two years - twelve were lost, eight catapult launchings were made, six enemy aircraft shot down and one RAF pilot lost. Requisitioned Auxiliary Fighter Catapult Ships included ‘Ariguani’, ‘Maplin’ and two more, which were lost in 1941:  

PATIA, (5,350t, completed 1922, Cdr D M B Baker RNR+), lost 27th April 1941, Western Europe, near 20G Buoy, Coquet Island, off Northumberland, NE coast of England - German bombers, 40 crew lost.

 

SPRINGBANK (5,150t, completed 1926, Capt C H Godwin), lost 27th September 1941, North Atlantic (49.10N, 20.05W) - torpedoed by German ‘U.201’ (Schnee); 32 crew lost.

 

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revised 1/1210


 

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