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

HMS ARCHER (D 78) - Archer-class Escort Aircraft Carrier including Convoy Escort Movements

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

ARCHER-Class Escort Aircraft Carrier obtained under US/UK Lend Lease Agreement. The ship was under construction at Chester,  Pennsylvania by Sun Shipbuilding as mercantile to be  named MORMACLAND. She was laid down on 7th  June 1939 and launched on 14th December that year. Build was completed on 24th April 1940. This ship was later requisitioned by the US Navy on and converted for use an Auxiliary Aircraft Carrier (AVG) by Newport News SB & Dry Dock at Newport News, Va. The design included a hangar which extended over half the length of the ship with a lift at the forward end unlike the British conversion HMS AUDACITY which had no hangar. The ship was acquired by the Royal Navy on 6th March 1941and her conversion was completed on 17th November 1941 when she was commissioned as HMS ARCHER, the fifth RN ship to bear the name. The name had been introduced in 1801 for a Gun-Brig built at Blackwall, London and lastly in 1911 by a destroyer sold in 1921.The ships in the first batch of  US built Escort Carriers transferred had Diesel machinery driving a single shaft. British radar was fitted after first arrival in UK This ship lacked an Island structure as found in most CVE, Light Fleet and Fleet Aircraft Carriers. The original Bridge was retained under the Flight Deck with sponsons on either beam to improve visibility.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


BALTIC 1854-55 - HELIGOLAND 1914 - ATLANTIC 1943-44  - BISCAY 1943


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

(Note: Introduced after WW2.)


Badge: On a Field White, a demi-archer  to the  sinister  clad in  green

and drawing a  bow  proper.



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



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                17th        Commissioned for service as HMS ARCHER.


December              Carried out acceptance trials in Hampton Roads

                                US Army Air Force aircraft crashed on landing due to hazard presented by Diesel exhaust


                                Repair to defects found during trials arranged at Philadelphia Navy Yard

                24th        Taken in hand at Philadelphia for repair of defects including propulsion machinery and gyro



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January                  Nominated for work-up for operational service in Caribbean

                                On completion of repair took passage to NORFOLK, Va to embark aircraft for transfer to


                12th        During passage to work-up involved in collision with ss BRAZOS and sustained damage to

                                bow structure requiring further repair.

                                Passage to Charleston under tow by US Navy tug CHEROKEE.

                                (Note: US CATALINA aircraft provided air cover.)


February                Under repair at Charlestown Navy Yard


March                    Allocated for deployment based in Sierra Leone to provide air cover for convoy defence

                                off West Africa.

                19th        Embarked four SWORDFISH aircraft and personnel of 834 Squadron.

                                (Note: 12 MARTLET aircraft airframes were carried for delivery to UK.

                                These may have been those embarked at Norfolk or subsequent change of cargo

                                To be confirmed.)

                                Took passage to Freetown.

                                (Note: Air cover was provided for US AS Convoy to Ascension Island during part of transit

                                HM Cruiser DEVONSHIRE was deployed in this area to provide cover for military

                                convoys on passage to East Africa for planned landings in Madagascar.


                4th          Arrived at Freetown.

                                Taken in hand for repair to machinery defects on passage.



                13th        Sailed from Freetown to carry out convoy defence

                                Diverted to go to Cape Town for collection of bullion.



                                Passage to Freetown with bullion.

                26th        Took passage from Freetown to New York with call at Bermuda.


July                         On arrival taken in hand for repairs to machinery and modifications to improve

                                stowage arrangements for stowage of aircraft embarked for transit.


August                  Under repair and modification.





                2nd         On completion embarked 35 aircraft and US personnel for passage to North Africa

                13th        Joined military Convoy UGF2 in Hampton Roads for passage to Casablanca

                18th        Arrived at Casablanca

                                After landing aircraft took passage to Gibraltar

                19th        Deployed at Gibraltar and awaited arrival of military Convoy MKF3 from Algiers

                                Joined MKF3 for passage to Liverpool



                3rd          Detached from MKF3 on arrival at Liverpool.

                4th          Taken in hand at Liverpool commercial shipyard to complete modifications to suit RN


                                Work included extension of flight deck



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January                  Under modification

                                (Note: British radar outfits were fitted during this period.)


February                Nominated for service in Western Approaches Command.

                17th        On completion worked-up for Atlantic convoy defence

                                Embarked 819 Squadron SWORDFISH aircraft and personnel. together with

                                892 Squadron MARTLET aircraft and personnel.

                                Deployed in Clyde for work-up with HM Escort Aircraft Carrier BITER.


March                    Joined Western Approaches Command.

                                Deployed for Atlantic convoy escort with HMS BITER and HMS DASHER. as part of 4th

                                Support Group with HM Destroyers MINE, MATCHLESS, ECLIPSE and FURY as 4th

                                Support Group.

                20th        Deployed at Scapa Flow during Royal visit

                                (Note: One source records ship was visited by HM King George VI.)

                21st         Under defect repair at Belfast shipyard.

                                Transferred to Liverpool shipyard for completion of repair work.


April                       Under repair in Liverpool.

                                On completion of post repair trials took passage to embark SWORDFISH aircraft

                                of 819 Squadron and MARTLET aircraft of 892 Squadron with personnel.

                                (Note: Rocket Projectiles were fitted to SWORDFISH aircraft for attacks on U-Boats

                                for first time.)



                2nd         Took passage from Clyde to join ships of 4th Support Group to provide anti-

                                submarine patrols in support of surface operations.

                                Deployed with Group for Atlantic convoy defence.

                                (Note: Support Group consisted of HM Destroyers MILNE, ECLIPSE and


                21st         Joined Convoy HX239 with ships of Group to supplement defence against attacks

                                by U-Boats of MOSEL and DONAU Groups.

                                (Note: HX239 was escorted by HM Destroyers KEPPEL and ESCAPADE, HM Frigate

                                TOWY and five corvettes.)

                23rd        SWORDFISH aircraft carried out depth charge attack on U752 and came under heavy

                                return fire and submarine escaped.

                                Further attack by SWORDFISH Aircraft G of 819 Squadron carried out with Rocket

                                Projectiles with support from MARTLET aircraft B of 829 Squadron from ship.

                                Submarine sunk in position 51.48N 29.32W. 13 survivors from U-Boat were rescued

                                by HM Destroyer ESCAPADE of B3 Group.

                                (See U-BOATS DESTROYED by P Kemp, ECHO OF A FIGHTING FLOWER by P

                                Coy and HITLER'S U-BOAT WAR Volume 2 by C Blair. This was first U-Boat sinking

                                by aircraft from an RN Escort Carrier using Rocket Projectiles.)


June                        Deployed in Bay of Biscay for interception of U-Boats on passage between French

                                bases and Atlantic convoy routes with several other RN Escort and Support Groups.

                                RAF Coastal Command aircraft also took part and cover against surface attacks was

                                provided by HM Cruisers BERMUDA and GLASGOW (Operations MUSKETRY and


                                (See BATTLE OVER THE BAY by N Franks, ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE

                                CLOSELY by C Barnett, U-BOAT WAR IN THE ATLANTIC (HMSO) and HITLER'S

                                U-BOAT WAR.)

                27th        Carried out exercises with Group in Irish Sea before resuming Bay of Biscay



July                         Deployed in Bay of Biscay for anti-submarine interception patrol.

                26th        Released from SEASLUG and took passage to Plymouth.

                28th        Taken in hand for repair in HM Dockyard Devonport


August                  Passage to Clyde for major repair to propulsion machinery in commercial shipyard.

                3rd          Arrived in Clyde

                4th          Under repair


September             Under repair





                6th          Withdrawn from operational service because of unreliable propulsion machinery.

                                Reduced to care and maintenance status in Clyde and used as an Accommodation and

                                Stores Ship.


September             Clyde service in continuation.




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January                  Clyde deployment in continuation.





                16th        Transferred to Loch Alsh for use as an Accommodation Ship.


April                       Accommodation duty in continuation.                           

to                            Nominated for transfer to Ministry of War Transport for use as an aircraft

July                         Ferry after replacement of main gearing.

                                Work arranged in Belfast shipyard


August                  Under repair at Belfast




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January                  Under repair and conversion for new role.





                15th        Transferred to Ministry of War Transport and renamed EMPIRE LAGAN


April                       Service as EMPIRE LAGAN




P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


This ship was used as a mercantile by MWT until December 1945 and was de-stored with removal of British equipment before return to the US Navy at Norfolk, Va  on 8th January 1946. She was sold in 1949 to a Swedish buyer for further mercantile use and renamed ANNA SALEAN until 1955 when again sold to a Greek buyer and renamed TASMANIA. During 1961 this ship was sold for demolition  to a Taiwanese company and named UNION RELIANCE. Following a collision and grounding in November 1961during which the ship caught fire she was taken out of use and sold for demolition in  New Orleans in 1962. The name ARCHER by the RN was again used in 1985 when given to a Fast Training Boat which is still in service for training of Reserve Personnel and has an officially approved Badge as shown above.







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








AS 002





MKF 003





ONS 006





ON 182





HX 239





KMS 018B








(Note on Convoys)



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revised 15/10/10
further editing and formatting is required