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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2003

HMS PURSUER (D 73) - Attacker-class Escort Aircraft Carrier
including Convoy Escort Movements

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Pursuer (Navy Photos/Michael Pocock, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

ATTACKER-Class Escort Aircraft Carrier obtained under US/UK Lend Lease Agreement. The ship was under  construction at Pascagoula, Mississippi  by Ingalls SB Corporation  as mercantile MORMACLAND and laid  down on 31st July 1941. Requisitioned by the US Navy for completion as a auxiliary aircraft carrier she was  launched on 18th July 1942 as  USS ST GEORGE (CVE17). In June 1943 she was the last of the ten ships of this  Class transferred to the Royal Navy, the others being retained for US Navy service and other ships under  construction nominated as replacements. Changes were made to this ship based on  experience gained with the ARCHER Class and included a  longer hangar and use of  steam turbine machinery. Later during RN service  some improvements were also made to command and control facilities in the Operations Room to suit use as an  Escort Carrier. Her build was completed on 14th June 1943 and she was then formally transferred  to the RN as  HMS PURSUER, a name not previously been used for a British warship. After arrival in UK British radar outfits  were fitted.



B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


ATLANTIC  1943-45 - NORWAY 1944 - NORMANDY  1944SOUTH  FRANCE  1944 - AEGEAN 1944


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field White, a Greyhound   in pursuit proper.

(Note: Issued 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 3


June                        Contractors trials.

                14th        Build completion date and carried out sea trials.

                                Transferred to Royal Navy and commissioned as HMS PURSUER.

                                Prepared for ocean passage.

                                Sailed for Panama.

                                Transit of Panama Canal.

                26th        Arrived at Norfolk, Va

                                Taken in hand for some modification to suit RN Use.


July                         On completion of dockyard work took passage to New York

                30th        Joined inward Convoy HX250 for passage to Clyde.

                                (Note: Use of ship to transport aircraft to UK to be confirmed.)



                11th        Detached from HX250 and took passage to Liverpool.

                12th        Taken in hand in Liverpool commercial shipyard to complete extensive modifications

                                to suit RN use as an Assault Carrier.)


September             Under modification

to                            (Note: Changes as result of loss of HMS AVENGER to be confirmed.)



November              Prepared for operational service

                16th        Sailed for Clyde

                                Embarked 20 WILDCAT aircraft and personnel of 881 AND 896 Squadrons.

                                Deployed at Greenock.

                26th        Under repair in Belfast.


December              On completion of repair prepared for work-up

                19th        Commenced work-up in Irish Sea.


1 9 4 4


January                  Allocated for deployment in Western Approaches for convoy defence.

                                Work-up in continuation.


February                On completion of work-up deployed with Support Group for provision of anti-submarine air

                                cover during passage of Atlantic convoys.

                                (For details of anti-submarine operations in the Atlantic see THE BATTLE OF THE

                                ATLANTIC by D MacIntyre, U-BOAT WAR IN THE ATLANTIC (HMSO) and SEEK

                                AND STRIKE by W Hackmann.)

                6th          Provided cover for passage of outward joint Convoy OS67/KMS41 during passage.

                                (Note: During this period aircraft from Gibraltar shot down FW200 aircraft

                                reporting convoy movements on 12th for subsequent U-Boat attacks by He177 aircraft

                                used to carry cut Glider Bomb attacks.

                                See BATTLE OVER THE BAY by N Franks and the above references.)

                                Transferred to support inward Convoy SL149 later.



                6th          Returned to Clyde on release from Atlantic convoy defence

                                (Note: SL149 arrived in Liverpool on 7th.)

                17th        Sailed for Scapa Flow for detached service with Home Fleet ships during planned provision

                                of Distant Cover for passage of Convoy JW58 to Kola Inlet and air attacks on German

                                battleship TIRPITZ (Operation TUNGSTEN).

                30th        Sailed from Scapa Flow with HM Battleships ANSON and DUKE OF YORK, HM Aircraft

                                Carrier VICTORIOUS, HM Escort Carriers EMPEROR, SEARCHER and FENCER, HM

                                Cruisers BELFAST, SHEFFIELD and JAMAICA screened by 14 Home Fleet destroyers to

                                cover JW58 and TUNGSTEN operations.

                                For details see CONVOY ! by P Kemp and Naval Staff History.



                2nd         Deployed with the Escort Carriers as Force 8 to provide fighter cover and patrols

                                to intercept U-Boats.

                                HM Aircraft Carrier FURIOUS joined operation after independent passage from Scapa Flow.

                3rd          Provided fighter cover during attacks on TIRPITZ in Altenfjord by HMS VICTORIOUS

                                and HMS FURIOUS.

                                (For details see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by C Barnett and The Naval Staff


                5th          Return passage to Scapa Flow with TUNGSTEN ships.

                                Resumed Atlantic convoy defence duties.

                26th        Deployed with HM Fleet Aircraft Carriers VICTORIOUS, FURIOUS, HM Escort Aircraft Carriers

                                SEARCHER, EMPEROR and STRIKER for air attacks on shipping in Bodo and Rorvik areas

                                off Norway (*Operations RIDGE ABLE and RIDGE BAKER.)

                27th        RIDGE BAKER attacks off Rorvik cancelled due to weather conditions.

                                (Note: Ship sustained storm damage.)

                28th        On return to Scapa Flow took passage to Liverpool for repair.



                1st           Taken in hand for repair

                                Nominated for support of planned allied allied landings in Normandy on completion.

                                (Operation NEPTUNE - For details of naval activities before and during landings see OPERATION

                                NEPTUNE by K Edwards and LANDINGS IN NORMANDY, June 1944 (HMSO).


June                        Deployed with HM Escort Aircraft Carriers TRACKER and EMPEROR in a position 150

                                miles west of Lands End to carry out anti-submarine patrols to intercept U-Boat attempt

                                to enter English Channel for attacks on invasion traffic. Sic Escort Groups were also deployed

                                in this area to provide additional support.

                                (Note: Few contacts were made. See above reference.)

                19th        On release from NEPTUNE landed WILDCAT aircraft of 896 Squadron.

                                Resumed convoy defence role in Western Approaches.



                15th        Nominated for support of planned allied landings in South France.

                                (Operation DRAGOON formerly ANVIL)

                25th        Passage from Clyde to join Mediterranean Fleet in Malta with Squadron 881 embarked.


August                  Joined HM Escort Aircraft Carriers KHEDIVE, EMPEROR , SEARCHER and ATTACKER

                                in Malta to provide air cover during assault phase of operation. as part of Carrier Task Force (TF88)

                                (Note: TF88 commanded by Rear Admiral T Troubridge, RN in HM Cruiser ROYALIST.

                12th        Passage to assault area with TG88,1

                                (Note: HM Destroyers TROUBRIDGE, TUSCAN, TUMULT, TEAZER, TYRIAN, WHEATLAND

                                and the Greek NAVARINO deployed as screen.)

                15th        Arrived in assault area with carriers of TG88.1.

                                Carried out air strikes and spotting for naval gunfire support as Combat Patrols for defence of area

                                (For details see INVASION OF THE SOUTH OF FRANCE (HMSO).)

                18th        Took passage with Task Group to Maddalena to replenish, refuel and rest crew.

                21st         Returned to assault area and resumed operations.

                                Attacks carried cut on retreating enemy transport.

                23rd        Took passage to Maddalena.

                27th        Released from DRAGOON and resumed RN control.

                                (Note: 180 sorties were launched during DRAGOON support.

                                Five aircraft were lost.)

                                Nominated for service in British Aegean Force and took passage to Alexandria with British

                                CVE and destroyer screen.



                2nd         Arrived at Alexandria.

                                Joined British Aegean Force with HM Escort Aircraft Carriers EMPEROR, ATTACKER,

                                HUNTER, STALKER, SEARCHER and KHEDIVE for support of the reoccupation of

                                islands in the Aegean.

                9th          Took passage to operational area with Force A including HM Escort Aircraft Carriers SEARCHER,

                                KHEDIVE and HUNTER with destroyer screen (Operation OUTING I)

                                (Note: Air cover for snore operations and protection of warships was provided.

                                Strikes made on shore targets.)

                12th        Provided air defence patrols during operations


                14th        Carried out air attacks made on evacuation shipping.

                17th        Aircraft carried out reconnaissance flights and continued air defence patrols



                19th        Aircraft from carriers carried out bombardment of Rhodes.

                                (For details of Aegean operations see Military Staff History (HMSO).

                20th        Sailed for Alexandria

                                (Note: 136 sorties were launched during OUTING.)

                21st         Deployed at Alexandria.



                1st           On release from British Aegean Force took passage to UK.

                8th          At Gibraltar

                12th        Arrived in Clyde

                28th        Arrived at Scapa Flow to resume Home Fleet service.


November              Deployed at Scapa Flow.

                                Nominated for support of planned attack on shipping off coast of Norway

                                (Operation COUNTERBLAST).

                12th        Provided air support during attack on German convoy KS357 off ListerfJord with

                                HM Cruisers KENT, BELLONA HM Destroyers MYNGS, VERULAM, ZAMBESI

                                and ALGONQUIN (RCN) as Force 2.

                                (Note: Post war assessment of losses included two mercantiles, CORNOSAILLES and

                                GRIEF, Minesweepers M416 and M427.)

                14th        Embarked aircraft carried out attack on shipping in Trondheim and shore target at Titran.

                                (Operation STEAK)

                16th        Returned to Scapa Flow.

                20th        Deployed with HM Escort Carrier PREMIUM for air minelay in Salhusstrommen.

                                (Operation HARDFAST).

                26th        Deployed with HM Fleet Aircraft Carrier IMPLACABLE and HM Escort Aircraft Carrier

                                PREMIER to carry out air attacks on shipping between Mosjoen and Rorvik.

                                (Operation PROVIDENT).

                27th        Returned to Scapa Flow with HMS PURSUER due to weather conditions.

                                (Note HMS IMPLACABLE was able to execute attacks during which two ships were sunk.

                                On return to Scapa Flow took passage to Clyde for repair.

                                (Note: Squadron aircraft and personnel were landed,)

                                Refit arranged in USA and took passage.



                12th        Took passage to Norfolk from Clyde with US Convoy UC48B.

                24th        Taken in hand for repair by US Navy Yard, Norfolk.


 1 9 4 5


January                  Under repair



                4th          Embarked CORSAIR aircraft for transport to UK.

                                (Note: Destined for 1831 Squadron)

                                Passage to Belfast

                15th        A rived at Belfast and disembarked aircraft


March                    Nominated for service in 21st Aircraft Carrier Squadron, East Indies Fleet based at

                                Trincomalee after refit in Durban

                                Embarked 899 Squadron aircraft and personnel

                31st         Joined outward convoy KMF42 for passage to Gibraltar



                7th          Detached from KMF42 on arrival.

                9th          Took passage to Durban with calls at Freetown and Cape Town.


May                        Passage in Indian Ocean

                3rd          Taken in hand for refit in Durban


June                        Under refit


July                         Carried out post refit harbour and sea trials

                7th          Took passage for Colombo

                25th        Arrived at Colombo

                                Took passage to Trincomalee to join Squadron.



                1st           Arrived at Trincomalee and joined HM Escort Carriers HUNTER, STALKER, ARCHER

                                KHEDIVE and EMPEROR in 21st Aircraft Carrier Squadron

                                Prepared for support of British landings in Malaya (Operation ZIPPER).

                15th        Operation was delayed by US insistence and problems in UK relating to the release

                                of service personnel in Far East. See THE FORGOTTEN FLEET by John Winton and

                                Final Report by Supreme Commander SEAC (HMSO).

                18th        Nominated for duty as Communications Ship during landings in Port Swettenham.

                                Landed embarked aircraft and prepared for new duties.


 September            Embarked Royal Marines for shore duties, military and air personnel.

                4th          Sailed for Port Swettenham area from Trincomalee and joined an assault convoy.

                8th          Arrived at Port Swettenham and made ready for requirements after planned landings

                                at Fort Dickson and Morib. See above references.

                                Medical party sent to troopship WINGSANG which reported case of suspected Bubonic

                                Plague. This later proved to be a glandular infection.

                9th          Landed armed party and accepted formal surrender of local garrison.


October                  On release from ZIPPER returned to Trincomalee.

                6th          Arrived at Trincomalee and deployed for trooping duties.


November              Nominated for return to UK for Paying-off

                20th        Took passage from Colombo on release from East Indies Fleet service.



                12th        Arrived in Clyde to prepare for transfer to US Navy

                                (Note: Ship was de-stored and British equipment removed.)


P o s t  W a r   N o t e s


HMS PURSUER took passage to Norfolk from Portsmouth on 16th January 1946. The ship was handed back to the  US Navy on 2nd February 1946 and placed on the Disposal List. She was sold to an American shipbreaker for demolition on 14th May 1946. In 1947 the name was again used by the Royal Navy when given to Landing Ship (Tank) No 3504  which became EMPIRE TERN in 1956  on transferred from RN service. The name was again used in 1986 for a Patrol Craft deployed in training of  Royal Naval Reserve Personnel and allocated to the Sussex RNR Division. She is still in commission.






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








HX 250





OS 067KM








(Note on Convoys)



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revised 16/10/10
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