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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 CAMPANIA (D 48), Escort Aircraft Carrier
including Convoy Escort Movements

HMS Nairana. half sister-ship (Navy Photos, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 
 

Incomplete mercantile hull requisitioned by the Admiralty in 29th July 1942 and adapted for use as an Escort Aircraft Carrier by Harland and Wolff of Belfast. The ship had been laid down for use as a mercantile by the Cunard Line on 5th August 1941 and was launched on 17th June 1943. She was the 2nd major RN ship to carry the name, first introduced for another mercantile converter for use as an aircraft carrier in 1916 and which was lost in a collision in the Forth of Forth on 5th November 1918. The name has also been previously used by two hired trawlers during WW1. Build was completed on 7th March 1944.

 

Special Note

 

During shipyard work after  being requisitioned changes had to be made to the structure to ensure decks were watertight and some additional transverse bulkheads were added. The hangar and flight deck were were included as part of the structure and not added as superstructure as in US Built CVE. Only one lift was provided which  made movements of aircraft for ranging difficult. lack of parking space forward limited the number of aircraft which could be effectively operated to 20. Fighter Direction facilities were provided and floodlighting fitted to allow night flying operations

 

B a t t l e    H o n o u r s

 

ATLANTIC  1944  - NORWAY  1944-45 - ARCTIC 1944-45

 

H e r a l d i c   D a t a

 Badge: On a Field Red, a demi-lion rampant Gold, winged White.

(Note: Based on Cunard Company's  badge.

 

 

D e t a i l s   o f    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 4

 

March                    Contractors trials.

                7th          Build completion date.

                (Note: Radar Type 281B for aircraft warning and control, Type 276 for surface warning

                and Type 277 for aircraft height-finding were fitted during build

                Development of new system of dealing with radar information was carried out

                in this ships and became standard requirement for major warships.

                These outfits were of new design.. See RADAR AT SEA by D Howse. for details

                of the development and used of radar by the RN.).

                8th          Took passage after acceptance trials to embark aircraft and prepare for service

                in the Clyde area before joining Home Fleet.

                Nominated for service in Western Approaches Command

                Carried out sea trials on newly developed Type 277 combined air and surface warning

                radar.

                (Note: This outfit had a height finding capability. See RADAR AT SEA by D Howse.)

 

April                       Work-up in continuation

                Embarked 813 Squadron SWORDFISH (12), WILDCAT (4) and FULMAR (4) aircraft

                and personnel.

                16th        Returned to builders for repair of defects.

 

May                        On completion of repair resumed work-up

                23rd        Commenced operational service.

 

June                        Deployed to provide air cover for transit of outward Convoys OS79 and MKS53 to Gibraltar,

                                inward Convoys SL160 and MKS51 to Liverpool from Gibraltar.

 

July                         Atlantic convoy air cover deployment in continuation for outward OS82, KMS56, inward

                                Convoys SL163, MKS54, inward SL163 and MKS54.

 

August                  Atlantic convoy air cover deployment in continuation for outward OS85, KMS59, inward

                SL166 and MKS57

                Nominated for escort of Russian convoy with Home Fleet ships

 

 September            Aircraft and personnel from 813 Squadron disembarked.

                Embarked 842 WILDCAT aircraft and personnel.

                Took passage to Scapa Flow for Home Fleet deployment.

                17th        Deployed with HM Battleship RODNEY, HM Cruiser DIADEM and HM Escort Aircraft

                Carrier STRIKER screened by HM Destroyers MARNE, METEOR, MILNE, MUSKETEER,

                VENUS, SAUMAREZ, SCORPION, VERULAM, VIRAGO, VOLAGE, ALGONQUIN (RCN)

                and SIOUX (RCN) as escort for Russian Convoy JW60 during transit to Kola Inlet.

                (Operation RIGMAROLE)

                (For details of all Russian Convoy operations see CONVOYS TO RUSSIA by RA Ruegg,

                THE RUSSIAN CONVOYS by B Schoefield, ARCTIC CONVOYS by R Woodman and

                CONVOY ! by P Kemp.

                23rd        Detached from JW60 with Home Fleet escorts on arrival at Kola Inlet.

                28th        Joined return convoy RA60 with same ships for escort during transit to Loch Ewe.

                30th        SWORDFISH aircraft F of 813 Squadron carried out attack on U921 which was sunk

                                in position 72.32N 12.55E west of Bear Island. There were no survivors from the submarine.

 

October

                3rd          Detached with Home Fleet ships, except Fighting Escort, and took passage to Scapa Flow.

                23rd        Deployed with HM Cruiser DEVONSHIRE. HM Escort Carrier TRUMPETER, HM Destroyers

                                SAUMAREZ, SCOURGE, SERAPIS, CASSANDRA, CAMBRIAN and CAPRICE for joint

                                minelay and shipping strike off Norway as Force 2 (Operation HARDY).

                24th        Minelay carried out by embarked AVENGER aircraft and attacks on shore positions

                                by WILDCAT aircraft.

                (Note: Anti-shipping operations were cancelled because of weather.

                For details of minelaying operations see Naval Staff History (Mining).)

                27th        Returned to Scapa Flow with Force 2.

                813 SWORDFISH (12), WILDCAT (3) and FULMAR (3) re-embarked

 

November

                2nd         Deployed with HM Cruiser BERWICK, HM Destroyers CAMBRIAN, CAPRICE, CASSANDRA,

                SAUMAREZ, SCOURGE and SERAPIS as escort for two mercantiles to Murmansk.

.               (Operation GOLDEN)

                (Note: ss EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA and ss SCYTHIA were carrying about 11,000 Russian

                nationals captured in Normandy while serving in the German army.

                One shadowing Bv138 was shot down during passage,

                6th          Arrived at Murmansk.

                (Note: British personnel from escort and the resident Naval Liaison staff were unable to land or

                witness the disembarkation of the Russian defectors.)

                Passage to Kola Inlet.

                11th        Escorted returning two mercantiles from Kola Inlet during passage to Clyde with

                HMS BERWICK, HM Destroyers CAMBRIAN, CAPRICE, CASSANDRA, SAVAGE,

                SAUMAREZ, SCOURGE, SCORPION and SERAPIS as Convoy RA61A.

                17th        Detached from RA61A on arrival in Clyde and took passage to Scapa Flow

                One shadowing Bv138 was shot down during passage,

 

December

                1st           Deployed with HM Cruiser BELLONA and HM Escort Aircraft Carrier NAIRANA with

                HM Destroyers BEAGLE, BULLDOG, CAESAR, CAMBRIAN, CAPRICE, CASSANDRA,

                KEPPEL, OBEDIENT, OFFA, ONSLAUGHT, ONSLOW, ORIBI, ORWELL and WESTCOTT

                to join Russian Convoy JW62 as escort during passage to Kola Inlet.

                (Operation ACUMEN)

                (Note: 14 Frigates and corvettes were already with JW62.)

                7th          Detached from JW62 on arrival at Kola Inlet.

                10th        Sailed from Kola Inlet as Escort for return Convoy RA62.

                (Note: An anti-submarine operation was carried out against an assembly off Kola

                by frigates of the escort. During this operation U387 was sunk by HM Corvette

                BAMBOROUGH CASTLE.

                11th        HM Destroyer CASSANDRA was torpedoed by U365 but able to return to Murmansk for repair.

                12th        HM Norwegian Corvette sank after hitting a mine.

                Under attack by torpedo bombers two of which were destroyed.

                13th        SWORDFISH aircraft L and Q from 813 Squadron attacked and sank U365 during defence

                of RA62 in position 70.43N 08.07E NW of Lofotens.

                There were no survivors from the submarine.

                180 hours of air operations were carried out including 70 at night.)

                19th        Returned to Scapa Flow with Home Fleet ships.

                Took passage to Clyde for repair.

                28th        During unsuccessful search for coastal convoys sank 3 Norwegian fishing vessels.

                (Note: This was an unfortunate error which caused local resentment.)

 

1 9 4 5

 

January                  Home Fleet deployment at Scapa Flow in continuation

                                Four WILDCAT aircraft and personnel embarked for special operation.

                30th        Carried out attacks on shipping off Stadlandet with HM Escort Aircraft Carriers NAIRANA

                PREMIER and HM Cruiser BERWICK screened by Home Fleet destroyers

                (Operation WINDED).

 

February

                6th          Deployed with HM Cruiser BELLONA, HMS NAIRANA, HM Sloop LAPWING, HM Corvette

                               and HM Trawler OSKOY(?), screened by HM Destroyers ONSLAUGHT, ONSLOW,

                OPPORTUNE, ORWELL, SERAPIS, ZAMBESI, ZEALOUS, ZEST and Canadian SIOUX to

                provide anti-submarine cover during passage of Russian Convoy JW64 (Operation HOTBED).

                Under surveillance by German aircraft. Ju88 destroyed.

                Total U-Boat threat estimated as 11 submarines.

                7th          Under sustained attack by torpedo bombers of which 6 were destroyed by fighters

                                from Escort Carriers.

                10th        Repeated torpedo bomber attacks driven off but poor convoy fire discipline posed threat to aircraft

                                from convoy.

                12th        Experienced extreme weather conditions with Force 11 winds.

                13th        HM Corvette DENBIGH CASTLE torpedoed.

                                (Note: Towed to Kola Inlet but sank after grounding).

                15th        Detached on arrival of JW64 at Kola Inlet.

                16th        Anti-submarine operations by Close Escort against U-Boats waiting off Kola Inlet

                to attack return convoy.

                (Note: After sinking U425 with HM Corvette ALNWICK CASTLE, HM Sloop LARK was

                torpedoed and became a total loss after tow to Kola Inlet.

                17th        Joined return convoy on departure from Kola Inlet.

                20th        Despite horrendous weather conditions launched fighter attacks against enemy air attacks

                                which prevented loss of ships in convoy.

                21st         Ships in convoy dispersed due to continuation of extreme weather conditions.

                27th        Returned to Scapa Flow with HMS BELLONA, HMS NAIRANA and Home Fleet destroyers.

                (Note: Air operations lasted 87 hours with 17 at night.)

                Passage to Clyde for repair.

                Landed 813 Squadron aircraft and personnel

 

March                    Embarked 12 SWORDFISH and seven WILDCAT aircraft of 825 Squadron.

                                Returned to Scapa Flow to resume Home Fleet duties.

                12th        Joined Close Escort of Russian Convoy JW65 with HM Cruiser DIADEM, HM Destroyers

                ONSLAUGHT, OPPORTUNE, ORWELL, SCORPION, ZAMBESI, SIOUX (RCN) and HM

                Frigate FARNHAM CASTLE to supplement defence and provide air cover for transit to Kola Inlet.

                (Operation SCOTTISH)

                15th        HM Escort Aircraft Carrier TRUMPETER joined escort.

                20th        HM Sloop LAPWING sunk by U968 during attacks on convoy.

                21st         Detached from JW65 on arrival at Kola Inlet.

                23rd        Sailed with HM Escort Carrier TRUMPETER, HMS DIADEM, HM Destroyers MYNGS,

                ORWELL, OPPORTUNE, SAVAGE, SCORPION SCOURGE, ZAMBESI, SIOUX (RCN)

                and Norwegian STORD to provide air cover and supplement defence of return convoy RA65

                during passage to Scapa Flow.

                (Note: An anti-submarine operation to clear assembled U-Boats off Kola Inlet was carried out

                before departure of convoy.)

                30th        Detached from RA65 on arrival at Scapa Flow.

                (Note: 87 hours of air operations including 19 at night were flown.)

 

April                       Passage to Clyde for repair

                7th          Taken in hand for repair

 

May        Under repair in dock

 

June

                5th          Sustained serious damage when undocking

                Passage to London for repair

 

July                         On completion allocated for service in Nore Command for trooping duties.

                                (Note: It is assumed ship Paid-off and reduced to small complement.)

August                  Prepared for new role.

 

P o s t  W a r   N o t e s

 

HMS CAMPANIA was deployed for trooping duties between UK and Jamaica until December 1945 when she returned to Devonport from the Clyde and was de-stored.. After reduction to Reserve status the ship was Laid-up at Rosyth in December 1945. During 1947 this ship was considered for conversion to a Ferry Carrier manned by the RFA but this was not implemented. She was  brought forward from Reserve in 1951 and deployed on loan for use as a civilian manned Exhibition Ship during the Festival of Britain. She visited many UK ports. whilst in this role. During 1952 the ship re-commissioned for service in  the Task Force assembled for the British Atomic weapon tests at Montebello NW of Australia in October 1952. One source records that she carried components of the weapon used and also had two helicopters embarked.  When the ship returned to UK she was again reduced to Reserve status at Chatham. Placed on the Disposal List in 1954 she was sold to Hughes Bolckow and arrived at Blyth under tow at the breakerís yard on 11th November 1955.

 

 


 

Addendum

 

CONVOY ESCORT MOVEMENTS of  HMS CAMPANIA

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

 

 

 

 

 

02/06/44

03/06/44

OS 079KM

11/06/44

11/06/44

10/06/44

12/06/44

SL 160MK

21/06/44

21/06/44

01/07/44

02/07/44

OS 082KM

11/07/44

11/07/44

11/07/44

12/07/44

SL 163MK

20/07/44

22/07/44

01/08/44

03/08/44

OS 085KM

08/08/44

11/08/44

09/08/44

11/08/44

SL 166MK

16/08/44

20/08/44

15/09/44

17/09/44

JW 060

23/09/44

23/09/44

28/09/44

28/09/44

RA 060

03/10/44

05/10/44

31/10/44

02/11/44

JW 061A

06/11/44

06/11/44

11/11/44

11/11/44

RA 061A

16/11/44

17/11/44

29/11/44

01/12/44

JW 062

07/12/44

07/12/44

10/12/44

10/12/44

RA 062

18/12/44

19/12/44

03/02/45

06/02/45

JW 064

13/02/45

15/02/45

17/02/45

17/02/45

RA 064

27/02/45

28/02/45

11/03/45

12/03/45

JW 065

21/03/45

21/03/45

23/03/45

23/03/45

RA 065

30/03/45

01/04/45

 

 

 

 

 

(Note on Convoys)

 

 

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