Allied Warships

HMS Unicorn (D 72)

Aircraft Carrier of the Unicorn class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeAircraft Carrier
ClassUnicorn 
PennantD 72 
Built byHarland & Wolff Ltd. (Belfast, Northern Ireland) 
Ordered14 Apr 1939 
Laid down29 Jun 1939 
Launched20 Nov 1941 
Commissioned12 Mar 1943 
End service 
History

On 24 March 1943, aircraft embarked in HMS Unicorn for deck landing training in the Clyde and A/S operations around UK waters. Later HMS Unicorn was attached to the Home Fleet and carried out a sweep to the north of Norway with HMS Illustrious.

In late August 1943, Unicorn was part of Force H, provided support and air cover along with the carriers HMS Illustrious and HMS Formidable in the Salerno Allied landings on mainland Italy.

HMS Unicorn then reverted to supply and repair duties, for aircraft repair and transport, and fleet backup and support. By early 1944, HMS Unicorn was in the Far East, still doubling as operational carrier pending the delayed arrival of the HMS Victorious.

When she returned home from Australia after the war she was stuffed with food.

Laid up for several years after the war, she was reactivated for the Korean War. Between June 1950 and October 1953, HMS Unicorn filled a vital support role to the Royal Navy and Commonwealth Aircraft carriers in Korean waters and on several occassions accompanied the operational carrier to the forward area, flying her own aircraft and acting as a spare deck. On one occasion she engaged enemy positions in North Korea with her own 4inch guns, thereby becoming more closely engaged than any of the other carriers.

HMS Unicorn was sold for scrap on 15 June 1959, and was stripped at Dalmuir and hull broken up at Troon from March 1960.

 

Commands listed for HMS Unicorn (D 72)

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CommanderFromTo
1Capt. Quintin Dick Graham, RN30 Nov 19427 Oct 1943
2Capt. Henry Lockhart St. John Fancourt, DSO, RN7 Oct 194323 Dec 1944
3A/Capt. (retired) Christopher McCabe Merewether, RN7 Oct 19441 Feb 1946

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Notable events involving Unicorn include:


28 May 1943

Convoy MKF 15.

This convoy departed Algiers on 28 May 1943 for the U.K.

On departure from Algiers the convoy was made up of the following ships; Antenor (British, 11174 GRT, built 1925), Arawa (British, 14462 GRT, built 1922), Boissevain (Dutch, 14134 GRT, built 1937), California (British, 16792 GRT, built 1923), Duchess of York (British, 20021 GRT, built 1929), Felix Roussel (French, 17083 GRT, built 1930), Franconia (British, 20175 GRT, built 1923), Indrapoera (Dutch, 10825 GRT, built 1925), Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (Dutch, 19429 GRT, built 1930), Letitia (British, 13595 GRT, built 1925), Mooltan (British, 20952 GRT, built 1923), Ormonde (British, 14982 GRT, built 1917), Samaria (British, 19597 GRT, built 1921) and Santa Rosa (American, 9135 GRT, built 1932).

The convoy was escorted by the British sloop HMS Weston (Cdr. L.F. Durnford-Slater, RN), HMS Wellington (Lt.Cdr. J.T. Jones, RD, RNR), HMS Lowestoft (A/Cdr.(Retd.) L.H. Phillips, RN), HMS Gorleston (Cdr.(Retd.) R.W. Keymer, RN), HMS Totland (Lt.Cdr. L.E. Woodhouse, RN) and the frigates HMS Exe (A/Cdr. M.A.O. Biddulph, DSC, RN) and HMS Ness (Lt.Cdr. T.G.P. Crick, DSC, RN).

On 29 May, off Oran, the convoy was joined by the following ships; Cristobal (American, 10021 GRT, built 1939), Dartmouth (American, 9879 GRT, built 1943), Examiner (American, 6736 GRT, built 1942), General George W. Goethals (American, 12093 GRT, built 1942), J.W. McAndrew (American, 7997 GRT, built 1940), John Ericson (American, 16552 GRT, built 1928), Nea Hellas (British, 16991 GRT, built 1922), Seafrain Lakehurst (American, 8108 GRT, built 1940), Staffordhire (British, 10683 GRT, built 1929) and Stirling Castle (British, 25550 GRT, built 1936).

On 30 May the convoy was off Gibraltar. There two more ships joined the convoy, these were; Maloja (British, 20914 GRT, built 1923) and Scythia (British, 19761 GRT, built 1920). Also six ships were detached to Gibraltar, these were the; Arawa, Dartmouth, Examiner, Seafrain Lakehurst, Staffordshire and Stirling Castle.

The following warships joined the escort of the convoy off Gibraltar; aircraft carrier HMS Unicorn (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), ecort carrier HMS Tracker (A/Capt. G.C. Dickins, RN) and the destroyers HMS Javelin (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, DSC, RN) and HMS Kelvin (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, DSO, DSC, RN).

The sloop HMS Totland was detached to proceed to Gibraltar for repairs as she had defects.

On 1 June 1943, the Scythia was detached.

At 1200 hours on 4 June, HMS Unicorn, HMS Tracker, HMS Javelin and HMS Kelvin parted company with the convoy and proceeded ahead of it to the Clyde (HMS Tracker to Belfast).

30 May 1943
HMS Unicorn (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), ecort carrier HMS Tracker (A/Capt. G.C. Dickins, RN) and the destroyers HMS Javelin (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, DSC, RN) and HMS Kelvin (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, DSO, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar to join the escort of convoy MKF 15. (1)

4 Jun 1943
HMS Unicorn (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), ecort carrier HMS Tracker (A/Capt. G.C. Dickins, RN) and the destroyers HMS Javelin (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, DSC, RN) and HMS Kelvin (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, DSO, DSC, RN) were detached at 1200 hours from the escort of convoy MKF 15. Around 1400 hours HMS Tracker was detached to Belfast. The other three ships arrived at Greenock early in the evening. (1)

22 Jul 1943
The battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN) and the aircraft carrier HMS Unicorn (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN) departed Greenock for Scapa Flow.

They were escorted by HMS Oribi (Lt.Cdr. J.C.A. Ingram, DSC, RN), HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. H. Unwin, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Orwell (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, DSO, RN).

They arrived at Scapa Flow on 23 July 1943. (2)

13 Dec 1943
HMS Tradewind (Lt.Cdr. S.L.C. Maydon, DSO and Bar, RN) conducted exercises in the Clyde area with aircraft from HMS Unicorn (Capt. H.L.St.J. Fancourt, DSO, RN). Upon completion of these exercises HMS Tradewind proceeded to Rosneath for wiping. (3)

30 Dec 1943
At 1745/30, the battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN) and the battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, RN, second in command of the Eastern Fleet) departed Scapa Flow with the ultimate destination, Trincomalee, Ceylon. On departure from Scapa Flow these ships were escorted by the destroyer HMS Tuscan (Lt.Cdr. C.H.de B. Newby, RN) and the frigates HMS Berry (T/A/Lt.Cdr. C.S. Pirie, RNVR), HMS Blackwood (Lt.Cdr. L.T. Sly, RD, RNR) and HMS Domett (T/A/Lt.Cdr. S. Gordon, RNVR). These ships proceeded through the Minches and were joined around 1100/31 by the aircraft carriers HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, CB, RN), HMS Unicorn (Capt. H.L.St.J. Fancourt, DSO, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC, RN), HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN) and HMS Kempenfelt (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Marjoribanks, RN). These ships had departed the Clyde around 2200/30. The frigates HMS Cooke (Lt.Cdr. L.C. Hill, OBE, RD, RNR), HMS Duckworth (Cdr. R.G. Mills, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Essington (A/Lt.Cdr. W. Lambert, RNVR) and HMS Parrett (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) T. Hood, RNR) also joined. They came from Londonderry, Northern Ireland. HMS Tuscan was now detached to the Clyde to make repairs as she had sustained weather damage during the passage from Scapa Flow. (4)

4 Jan 1944
Around 1630/4, HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN), HMS Renown (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, RN, second in command of the Eastern Fleet) parted company with the carriers to proceed ahead of them to Gibraltar to fuel. They took the destroyers HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC, RN), HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN), HMS Kempenfelt (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Marjoribanks, RN) and the frigates HMS Duckworth (Cdr. R.G. Mills, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Essington (A/Lt.Cdr. W. Lambert, RNVR) with them as escorts.

This left the frigates HMS Berry (T/A/Lt.Cdr. C.S. Pirie, RNVR), HMS Blackwood (Lt.Cdr. L.T. Sly, RD, RNR), HMS Cooke (Lt.Cdr. L.C. Hill, OBE, RD, RNR), HMS Domett (T/A/Lt.Cdr. S. Gordon, RNVR) and HMS Parrett (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) T. Hood, RNR) to escort the carriers HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, CB, RN) and HMS Unicorn (Capt. H.L.St.J. Fancourt, DSO, RN).

Also on this day the destroyers HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. P.G. Merriman, DSC, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Wallace, DSC, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. J. Smallwood, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, DSC, RN), HMS Isis (Cdr. B. Jones, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, DSO, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar to make rendezvous with the carriers and take over the escort from the frigates so that there too could proceed to Gibraltar to fuel. (5)

5 Jan 1944
Around 0900/5, the destroyers HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. P.G. Merriman, DSC, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Wallace, DSC, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. J. Smallwood, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, DSC, RN), HMS Isis (Cdr. B. Jones, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, DSO, DSC, RN), joined HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, CB, RN) and HMS Unicorn (Capt. H.L.St.J. Fancourt, DSO, RN). The carriers escort made up of the frigates HMS Berry (T/A/Lt.Cdr. C.S. Pirie, RNVR), HMS Blackwood (Lt.Cdr. L.T. Sly, RD, RNR), HMS Cooke (Lt.Cdr. L.C. Hill, OBE, RD, RNR), HMS Domett (T/A/Lt.Cdr. S. Gordon, RNVR) and HMS Parrett (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) T. Hood, RNR) then parted company to proceed ahead of the carriers to fuel at Gibraltar.

The battleship group, made up of HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN), HMS Renown (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, RN, second in command of the Eastern Fleet) and escorted by the destoyers HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC, RN), HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN), HMS Kempenfelt (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Marjoribanks, RN) and the frigates HMS Duckworth (Cdr. R.G. Mills, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Essington (A/Lt.Cdr. W. Lambert, RNVR) arrived at Gibraltar around 2130/5 and all ships commenced fuelling. (6)

6 Jan 1944
Around 0430/6, HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN), HMS Renown (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, RN, second in command of the Eastern Fleet), HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC, RN), HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN), HMS Kempenfelt (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Marjoribanks, RN), HMS Duckworth (Cdr. R.G. Mills, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Essington (A/Lt.Cdr. W. Lambert, RNVR), departed Gibraltar.

Around 0800/6, the joined HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, CB, RN) and HMS Unicorn (Capt. H.L.St.J. Fancourt, DSO, RN), HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. P.G. Merriman, DSC, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Wallace, DSC, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. J. Smallwood, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, DSC, RN), HMS Isis (Cdr. B. Jones, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, DSO, DSC, RN) which had just passed the Straits of Gibraltar eastbound.

After fuelling the frigates HMS Berry (T/A/Lt.Cdr. C.S. Pirie, RNVR), HMS Blackwood (Lt.Cdr. L.T. Sly, RD, RNR), HMS Cooke (Lt.Cdr. L.C. Hill, OBE, RD, RNR), HMS Domett (T/A/Lt.Cdr. S. Gordon, RNVR) departed Gibraltar later in the day to overtake the force. (6)

7 Jan 1944
Around 0900/7, the frigates HMS Berry (T/A/Lt.Cdr. C.S. Pirie, RNVR), HMS Blackwood (Lt.Cdr. L.T. Sly, RD, RNR), HMS Cooke (Lt.Cdr. L.C. Hill, OBE, RD, RNR), HMS Domett (T/A/Lt.Cdr. S. Gordon, RNVR) joined the force made up of HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN), HMS Renown (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, RN, second in command of the Eastern Fleet), HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, CB, RN) and HMS Unicorn (Capt. H.L.St.J. Fancourt, DSO, RN), HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. P.G. Merriman, DSC, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Wallace, DSC, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. J. Smallwood, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, DSC, RN), HMS Isis (Cdr. B. Jones, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC, RN), HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN), HMS Kempenfelt (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Marjoribanks, RN), HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Duckworth (Cdr. R.G. Mills, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Essington (A/Lt.Cdr. W. Lambert, RNVR).

HMS Active, HMS Anthony, HMS Brilliant and HMS Isis were then detached. Shortly after doing so they were detached to hunt an enemy submarine [this was U-343].

Late in the evening HMS Termagent, HMS Tenacious and HMS Kempenfelt were detached to fuel at Bizerta. (7)

8 Jan 1944
Around 1500/8, HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC, RN), HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN), HMS Kempenfelt (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Marjoribanks, RN), rejoined HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN), HMS Renown (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, RN, second in command of the Eastern Fleet), HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, CB, RN) and HMS Unicorn (Capt. H.L.St.J. Fancourt, DSO, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, DSC, RN), HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Berry (T/A/Lt.Cdr. C.S. Pirie, RNVR), HMS Blackwood (Lt.Cdr. L.T. Sly, RD, RNR), HMS Cooke (Lt.Cdr. L.C. Hill, OBE, RD, RNR), HMS Domett (T/A/Lt.Cdr. S. Gordon, RNVR), HMS Duckworth (Cdr. R.G. Mills, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Essington (A/Lt.Cdr. W. Lambert, RNVR).

Shortly after these three destroyers had rejoined the force, HMS Inglefield was detached to Bizerta.

Late on the day the destroyer HMS Urchin was detached to Malta. (6)

12 Jan 1944
HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN), HMS Renown (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, RN, second in command of the Eastern Fleet), HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, CB, RN) and HMS Unicorn (Capt. H.L.St.J. Fancourt, DSO, RN), HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC, RN), HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN), HMS Kempenfelt (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Marjoribanks, RN), HMS Berry (T/A/Lt.Cdr. C.S. Pirie, RNVR), HMS Blackwood (Lt.Cdr. L.T. Sly, RD, RNR), HMS Cooke (Lt.Cdr. L.C. Hill, OBE, RD, RNR), HMS Domett (T/A/Lt.Cdr. S. Gordon, RNVR), HMS Duckworth (Cdr. R.G. Mills, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Essington (A/Lt.Cdr. W. Lambert, RNVR) arrived at Port Said.

All six frigates remained at Port Said. All the other ships entered the Suez Canal, although HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Valiant had to discharge fuel first at Port Said. (6)

13 Jan 1944
HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN), HMS Renown (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, RN, second in command of the Eastern Fleet), HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, CB, RN) and HMS Unicorn (Capt. H.L.St.J. Fancourt, DSO, RN) arrived at Suez. Their escorting detroyers, HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC, RN), HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN), HMS Kempenfelt (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Marjoribanks, RN), had been ordered to return to Port Said, as they were to join the Mediterranean Fleet. (6)

16 Jan 1944
Around 0200 hours, HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN), HMS Renown (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, RN, second in command of the Eastern Fleet), returned to harbour after their exercises.

Around 0900 hours, HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, CB, RN) and HMS Unicorn (Capt. H.L.St.J. Fancourt, DSO, RN) departed Suez to proceed southwards through the Red Sea. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Paladin (Lt. E.A.S. Bailey, DSC, MBE, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Lt. T.F. Hallifax, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN) and HMS Rocket (Lt.Cdr. H.B. Acworth, OBE, RN).

Around 1030 hours, HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Valiant and HMS Renown departed Suez and headed southwards to rendezvous with the carrier force on the following day. (6)

18 Jan 1944
Around 1700 hours, HMS Renown (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, RN, second in command of the Eastern Fleet) and HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, CB, RN), parted company with HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN), HMS Unicorn (Capt. H.L.St.J. Fancourt, DSO, RN), HMS Paladin (Lt. E.A.S. Bailey, DSC, MBE, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Lt. T.F. Hallifax, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN) and HMS Rocket (Lt.Cdr. H.B. Acworth, OBE, RN).

HMS Renown and HMS Illustrious were to proceed ahead of the other ships to Aden. (6)

19 Jan 1944
Around 1000 hours, HMS Renown (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, RN, second in command of the Eastern Fleet) and HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, CB, RN) were joined by the destroyers HMS Rotherham (Capt. F.S.W. de Winton, RN), HMS Racehorse (Cdr. J.J. Casement, DSC, RN), HMS Rapid (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Roebuck (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN).

Shortly afterwards however, HMS Racehorce, HMS Rapid and HMS Roebuck parted company. Around 1130 hours, HMS Racehorce, HMS Rapid and HMS Roebuck joined HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN), HMS Unicorn (Capt. H.L.St.J. Fancourt, DSO, RN), HMS Paladin (Lt. E.A.S. Bailey, DSC, MBE, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Lt. T.F. Hallifax, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN) and HMS Rocket (Lt.Cdr. H.B. Acworth, OBE, RN).

Around 1200 hours HMS Unicorn, HMS Paladin, HMS Pathfinder, HMS Petard and HMS Rocket parted company with the other ships of their group to proceed to Aden to refuel.

Around 1515 hours HMS Renown, HMS Illustrious and HMS Rotherham arrived at Aden to refuel.

Around 1630 hours, HMS Unicorn, HMS Paladin, HMS Pathfinder HMS Petard and HMS Rocket arrived at Aden to refuel.

In the evening HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Valiant, HMS Racehorce, HMS Rapid and HMS Roebuck arrived off Aden. As they could not refuel yet they remained out and in the meantime conducted exercises. (6)

20 Jan 1944
HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN) HMS Racehorse (Cdr. J.J. Casement, DSC, RN), HMS Rapid (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Roebuck (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN) were still exercising in the Aden area until around 1700 hours when the battleships arrived at Aden to refuel. Late in the moring HMS Racehorce embarked some fuel from HMS Valiant. [It is possible the other destroyer fuelled from HMS Queen Elizabeth but there is no mention of this in her logbook].

Around 1330, HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, CB, RN) departed Aden followed at 1430 hours by HMS Renown (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, RN, second in command of the Eastern Fleet) and at 1515 hours by HMS Unicorn (Capt. H.L.St.J. Fancourt, DSO, RN). HMS Rocket (Lt.Cdr. H.B. Acworth, OBE, RN) also departed Aden around this time. At sea they joined HMS Racehorse (Cdr. J.J. Casement, DSC, RN), HMS Rapid (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Roebuck (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN).

The force then proceeded southwards until midnight and then changed course to the north-eastward to rendezvous with the ships which were now fuelling at Aden. (6)

21 Jan 1944
Around 1700 hours, HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN), HMS Rotherham (Capt. F.S.W. de Winton, RN), HMS Paladin (Lt. E.A.S. Bailey, DSC, MBE, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Lt. T.F. Hallifax, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN) and HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.J. Buchanan DSO, RAN) departed Aden.

Around 1930 hours they joined HMS Renown (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, RN, second in command of the Eastern Fleet), HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, CB, RN), HMS Unicorn (Capt. H.L.St.J. Fancourt, DSO, RN), HMS Racehorse (Cdr. J.J. Casement, DSC, RN), HMS Rapid (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Rocket (Lt.Cdr. H.B. Acworth, OBE, RN) and HMS Roebuck (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN).

The fleet then proceeded eastwards minus HMS Racehorce, HMS Rapid, HMS Rocket and HMS Roebuck which proceeded to Aden to refuel after which they were to set sail again to overtake the fleet. (6)

22 Jan 1944
HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN), HMS Renown (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, RN, second in command of the Eastern Fleet), HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, CB, RN), HMS Unicorn (Capt. H.L.St.J. Fancourt, DSO, RN), HMS Rotherham (Capt. F.S.W. de Winton, RN), HMS Paladin (Lt. E.A.S. Bailey, DSC, MBE, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Lt. T.F. Hallifax, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN) and HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.J. Buchanan DSO, RAN) were rejoined by HMS Racehorse (Cdr. J.J. Casement, DSC, RN), HMS Rapid (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Rocket (Lt.Cdr. H.B. Acworth, OBE, RN) and HMS Roebuck (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN) which had fuelled at Aden. (6)

24 Jan 1944
HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN), HMS Renown (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, RN, second in command of the Eastern Fleet), HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, CB, RN), HMS Unicorn (Capt. H.L.St.J. Fancourt, DSO, RN), HMS Rotherham (Capt. F.S.W. de Winton, RN), HMS Racehorse (Cdr. J.J. Casement, DSC, RN), HMS Rapid (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Rocket (Lt.Cdr. H.B. Acworth, OBE, RN), HMS Roebuck (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN), HMS Paladin (Lt. E.A.S. Bailey, DSC, MBE, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Lt. T.F. Hallifax, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN) and HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.J. Buchanan DSO, RAN) were still proceeding eastwards to join the Eastern Fleet.

Some of the destroyers had to be fuelled as these did not had the endurance to reach their destination without doing so. Therefore HMS Queen Elizabeth refuelled HMAS Norman between 0815 and 1135 hours. HMS Valiant fuelled HMS Paladin between 0648 and 0905 hours and HMS Pathfinder between 1001 and 1148 hours. HMS Renown fuelled HMS Petard between 0935 and 1136 hours. (6)

26 Jan 1944
Around 1900/26, HMS Unicorn (Capt. H.L.St.J. Fancourt, DSO, RN), HMS Rapid (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Roebuck (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN) parted company with HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN), HMS Renown (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, RN, second in command of the Eastern Fleet), HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, CB, RN), HMS Rotherham (Capt. F.S.W. de Winton, RN), HMS Racehorse (Cdr. J.J. Casement, DSC, RN), HMS Rocket (Lt.Cdr. H.B. Acworth, OBE, RN), HMS Paladin (Lt. E.A.S. Bailey, DSC, MBE, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Lt. T.F. Hallifax, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN) and HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.J. Buchanan DSO, RAN).

HMS Unicorn, HMS Rapid and HMS Roebuck then set course for Cochin, India where they arrived at 0900/27. (6)

1 Feb 1944
Around 1600 hours, HMS Renown (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, RN, second in command of the Eastern Fleet), departed Colombo for Trincomalee. She was escorted by HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.J. Buchanan DSO, RAN) and HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN).

At sea, around 1700 hours, the were joined by HMS Unicorn (Capt. H.L.St.J. Fancourt, DSO, RN), HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN) and HMS Roebuck (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN) which came from Cochin. (8)

2 Feb 1944
Around 1615 hours, HMS Renown (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, RN, second in command of the Eastern Fleet), HMS Unicorn (Capt. H.L.St.J. Fancourt, DSO, RN), HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.J. Buchanan DSO, RAN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN), HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN) and HMS Roebuck (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN), arrived at Trincomalee.

On entering the harbour HMS Renown collided with a small landing craft (LCP). (8)

Sources

  1. ADM 199/639
  2. ADM 53/117882 + ADM 199/632
  3. ADM 173/18251
  4. ADM 53/117663 + ADM 53/118390 + ADM 53/118437 + ADM 53/118667 + ADM 53/118679
  5. ADM 53/119575 + ADM 53/120303 + ADM 53/120374 + ADM 53/120663 + ADM 53/120675 + ADM 199/2494
  6. ADM 53/119575 + ADM 53/120303 + ADM 53/120374 + ADM 53/120663 + ADM 53/120675
  7. ADM 53/119575+ ADM 53/120303 + ADM 53/120374 + ADM 53/120663 + ADM 53/120675
  8. ADM 53/120375 + ADM 53/120664

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.


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