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SERVICE HISTORIES of ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS in WORLD WAR 2

by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2006

HMS BITER (D 97) - Archer-class Escort Aircraft Carrier
including Convoy Escort Movements

HMS Biter (Navy Photos, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 
 

ARCHER-Class Escort Aircraft Carrier obtained under US/UK Lend Lease Arrangement. The ship was under construction at Cheater,  Pennsylvania by Sun Shipbuilding as mercantile RIO PANAMA. She was laid down on 28th December 1939 and launched on 18th December 1940. After being requisitioned by the US Navy in she was taken in hand for conversion by Atlantic Basin Iron works, Brooklyn to suit use as an Auxiliary Aircraft Carrier. The work included changes to length of flight deck compared with HMS ARCHER, the first of Class. The ship was selected for transfer to the Royal Navy on 15th September 1941 as BAVG3,. Her conversion was completed on 5th May 1942 and she commissioned for Royal Navy service the next day as the sixth RN ship to carry the name which was first used in 1797 for Gunboat No 10 in 1797 and lastly by a Tender built in 1905 and sold in 1923. Like others in the first batch of this Class she had Diesel  propulsion machinery driving a single shaft. British radar equipment was fitted during build..

 

B a t t l e   H o n o u r s

 

BALTIC 1855 - NORTH AFRICA 1942 - ATLANTIC 1943-44

 

H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field Blue, a shark  Gold, in the mouth a trident also Gold.

(Note Approved after WW2.)

 

 

D e t a i l s   o f   W a r   S e r v i c e

 

(for more ship information, go to Naval History Homepage and type name in Site Search

 

 

1 9 4 2

 

April                       Contractors trials.

                5th          Build completion

                6th          Transferred to RN and commissioned at Brooklyn as HMS BITER

 

May                        Carried out Trials and prepared for passage to UK.

                                Embarked six SWORDFISH aircraft for transport to UK.

                                Joined Canadian Convoy NA11 during Atlantic passage to Clyde..

 

June                        Arrived in Clyde and disembarked aircraft

                                Taken in hand for modifications to suit RN service.

                                (Note: Location to be identified.)

 

July                         Under modification.

                                Nominated for support of planned allied landings in North Africa (Operation TORCH)

 

August                  Embarked 800 Squadron SEA HURRICANE aircraft and personnel.

                                Carried out work-up for service in Clyde area.

 

September             Three SWORDFISH aircraft and personnel of 833 Squadron embarked.

                                Work-up in continuation.

 

October                  Allocated for duty with Central Naval Task Force.

                26th         Joined escort for military Convoy KMF1 for passage to Gibraltar

 

November              800 Squadron SEA HURRICANE aircraft and personnel embarked for TORCH support.

                                Detached from convoy at Gibraltar and prepared for planned landings.

                8th          Deployed with HM Escort Carrier DASHER and HM Fleet Aircraft Carrier FURIOUS

                                to provide cover for landings at Oran.

                                (Operation TORCH. For details see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by C

                                Barnett, Naval Staff History and BRITISH INVASION FLEETS by J de Winser.)

                                During operations aircraft of 800 Squadron shot down five Vichy D520 aircraft and

                               carried out

                                Target reconnaissance flights.

                                On completion of Assault Phase released from TORCH and nominated for return to UK.

                14th        Part of escort for military convoy MKF1 with HMS DASHER.

                19th        Detached from MKF1 on arrival in Clyde.

                                800 Squadron disembarked.

 

December              Deployed in Clyde area

                                (Note: Deployment for support of convoy defence to be confirmed.)

 

1 9 4 3

 

January                  Continuation of Clyde deployment

                                (Note: Atlantic convoy defence to be confirmed.)

                                For details of deployment of submarines and weapons used for attack and defence

                                of Atlantic convoys see U-BOAT WAR IN THE ATLANTIC (HMSO), SEEK AND

                                STR1KE by W. Hackmann and THE BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC by D MacIntyre.)

 

February                Embarked nine SWORDFISH and three MARTLET aircraft of 811 Squadron with

                                personnel for operations in Atlantic.

 

March                    Deployment for convoy defence to be confirmed.

                                Nominated for operations with Support Group of Western Approaches Command.

 

April                       Provided cover and support for passage of Convoys HX234 and ONS4 under threat

                                from MEISE U-Boat Group.

                23rd        Deployed with HM Destroyers PATHFINDER, OBDURATE and OPPORTUNE of 5th

                                Support Group in search for U-Boats attempting attacks on ONS4.

                                (See above references.)

                25th        SWORDFISH aircraft of 811 Squadron sighted U203 which was then attacked and sunk

                                by HMS PATHFINDER in position 55.05N 42.25W. 39 survivors were rescued from U203

                                (See U-BOATS DESTROYED by P Kemp.

 

May                        Deployment with 5th Support Group in continuation.

                9th          Deployed in support of passage of Convoy HX237.

                                During Group operations with 5th and 2nd Support Groups, SWORDFISH aircraft of 811

                                Squadron attacked U-Boats of RHEIN Group in front of HX237. U454 forced to submerge.

                10th        HX237 defence in continuation and under fire from U403 which later was forced to

                                submerge by destroyers of 5th Escort Group.

                12th        SWORDFISH B of 811 Squadron sighted U89 which was sunk by HM Frigate

                                LAGAN and HM Destroyer BROADWAY of 2nd Escort Group in position 46.30N

                                25.40W, north of Azores. There were no survivors from U89.

                13th        Supported defence of Convoy SC129

 

June                        Atlantic convoy defence in continuation.

to

August

 

September             Embarked Six SWORDFISH and six MARTLET aircraft and personnel of 811 Squadron.

                                Atlantic Convoy defence service in continuation.

 

October

                19th        Sailed from Clyde with 7th Support Group to provide support for passage of outward

                                Convoy ON207 during passage to Newfoundland.

                30th        Detached from support and took passage to Argentia

 

November              Deployed for Atlantic convoy defence with 7th Support Group.

                                (Note: Ships of 7th support Group were HM Sloops CHANTICLEER, CRANE and

                                PHEASANT.

                7th          Sailed from Argentia with Group for provision of cover during eastward passage of

                                Convoys SC146 and HX265.

                                (Note: These convoys were under threat of attacks by SCHILL U-Boat Group but

                                too few of group were able to assemble until ships of convoys were too near

                                to British Isles. See HITLERíS U-BOAT WAR Vol2.

                16th        During cover operations a SWORDFISH ditched alongside but damage was caused to

                                rudder by wreckage and ship had to be withdrawn from service.

                                Taken in hand for repair.

                                Squadron disembarked.

 

December              Under repair

 

1 9 4 4

 

January                  On completion resumed convoy defence in Western Approaches

                                Deployed with Support Groups for provision of air cover and anti-submarine patrol

 

February                Atlantic convoy defence in continuation

                12th        Deployed in HM Escort Aircraft Carrier Tracker for provision of anti-submarine

                                11 SWORDFISH and four WILDCAT aircraft and personnel of 811 Squadron embarked.

                                Provided air support for 7th and 9th Escort Groups in SW Approaches

                                ((Note: Ships in Group were HM Canadian Frigates MONNOW, SWANSEA,

                                STORMONT and HM Canadian Corvette OWEN SOUND.

                                Cover provided for transit of outward Convoys OS68 and ONS29.

                16th        During attempt by Ju290 to carry out Glider bomb attack on convoy enemy aircraft shot

                                down by WILDCAT aircraft of 811 Squadron

                                Provided radar guidance information to enable BEAUFIGHTER aircraft of 235 Squadron,

                                RAF to intercept and destroy another JU290 attempting Glider Bomb attack

 

March                    Convoy defence operation in continuation

                                Provided air support in defence of inward joint convoy SL150 and MKS41 during passage

                                to Liverpool from Gibraltar.

 

April                       Atlantic deployment in Azores area

                6th          Deployed in support of passage of Convoy SC156 with ships of 5th Support Group.

                                See HITLERíS U-BOAT WAR Vol 2.

                14th        Deployed with HM Sloop PELICAN and ships of 7th Support Group to support 9th

                                Canadian Support Group near the Azores in search for U-Boat.

                                Ship under attack by U448.

                                (Note: U448 later was sunk by ships of 9th Support Group north of Azores in position

                                16.22N, 19.35W. 42 survivors were rescued from U448.

                                See U-BOATS DESTROYED by P Kemp and above reference.)

 

May                        Atlantic convoy defence in continuation for support of convoys to and from Gibraltar

to                            and West Africa.

June                        (Note: Not detached for support of allied landings in Normandy. (Operation NEPTUNE.)

                                Nominated for service as a Ferry Carrier.

 

July                         Passage to Clyde to Pay-off and to be taken in hand for conversion.

 

August                  811 Squadron aircraft and personnel landed.

                                Paid-off and de-stored at Greenock.

                21st         Taken in hand for conversion

                                (Note: Ship was to be transferred to Ministry of War Transport for deployment

                                as a mercantile.)

                24th        Sustained serious and extensive damage by fire at Greenock.

                                Withdrawn from service as repair could not be arranged.                           

 

September             At Greenock awaiting decision regarding future use,

to

December

 

1 9 4 5

 

January                  Laid-up in Clyde

to

March

 

April

                9th          Returned to US Navy without repair.

                                Laid-up in Clyde.

 

May                        Under US Navy control and transfer on loan to France after repair agreed.

to

August

 

P o s t   W a r   N o t e s

 

During service in the French navy as FS DIXMUNDE in 1945/6 the ship was deployed as an aircraft transport between USA and France. The ship was deployed as an aircraft carrier in support of French operations in Indo-China in 19456/7 and resumed ferrying duties when released. She remained on that service until 1956 when used as an accommodation ship for civilian workers for 10 years  On return to the US Navy in 1966 the ship was used as a target during trials  and sunk. The RN name was carried forward in 1985 when used as a training Craft and deployed for sea training of RNR personnel at Liverpool.

 

 


 

Addendum

 

CONVOY ESCORT MOVEMENTS of  HMS BITER

by Don Kindell

 

These convoy lists have not been cross-checked with the text above

 

 

 

 

 

Date convoy sailed

Joined convoy as escort

Convoy No.

Left convoy

Date convoy arrived

 

 

 

 

 

26/10/42

26/10/42

KMF 001

08/11/42

08/11/42

12/11/42

12/11/42

MKF 001X

19/11/42

19/11/42

12/04/43

13/04/43

ON 178

15/04/43

02/05/43

13/04/43

23/04/43

ONS 004

26/04/43

05/05/43

01/05/43

07/05/43

HX 237

13/05/43

17/05/43

02/05/43

14/05/43

SC 129

16/05/43

21/05/43

31/05/43

09/06/43

HX 242

12/06/43

15/06/43

08/06/43

12/06/43

ONS 010

18/06/43

27/06/43

27/06/43

01/07/43

SC 135

03/07/43

11/07/43

18/10/43

20/10/43

ON 207

27/10/43

04/11/43

06/11/43

09/11/43

SC 146

13/11/43

22/11/43

06/11/43

14/11/43

HX 265

17/11/43

21/11/43

12/02/44

12/02/44

OS 068KM

23/02/44

23/02/44

24/02/44

24/02/44

KMS 042G

25/02/44

25/02/44

03/03/44

unknown

SL 150MK

11/03/44

14/03/44

30/07/44

31/07/44

SL 165MK

06/08/44

10/08/44

 

 

 

 

 

(Note on Convoys)

 

 

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