Saturday, 7 May 2016

On sale in the National Archives bookshop

Recently Sue and I paid one of our periodic visits to the National Archives, Kew, to do some genealogical research. (We are still charting the career of William Richardson, one of her forebears, who started as a Gunner in the Royal Artillery in the last eighteenth century and – after surviving service for many years as a member of the garrison of Jamaica – eventually reached the rank of Sergeant Major.)

Whilst we were there we paid a visit to the onsite bookshop, where I bought two books that were in the sale. They were HMS HERMES: 1923 & 1959 ...


Both books were written by Neil McCart and published by Fan Publications in 2001 and 2002 respectively.

HMS HERMES: 1923 & 1959 (ISBN 1 901225 05 4) begins by telling the story of the first aircraft carrier to be named Hermes from her building in the aftermath of the Great War until her sinking by Japanese aircraft in the Indian Ocean in April 1942. It then charts the origins and service of the second aircraft carrier of that name through her numerous commissions, her rebuilding and re-tasking from her role as a conventional aircraft carrier into that of a commando carrier and then again into a VSTOL carrier, and her eventual sale to the Indian Navy, with whom she still serves as INS Viraat ... albeit until her replacement by a newer aircraft carrier.

THE COLOSSUS-CLASS AIRCRAFT CARRIERS: 1944-1972 (ISBN 1 901225 06 2) relates the history of eight of the ten ships of the class. (It does not cover HMS Pioneer or HMS Perseus, neither of which was ever commissioned as an aircraft carrier.) At some stage in their careers all of them were commissioned into the Royal Navy, and several of them were loaned, transferred, or sold to other countries, where they performed sterling service in navies that otherwise might not have been able to operate aircraft carriers:
  • Colossus: Became the French Navy's FNS Arromanches in 1946. She continued in service until 1974, and was scrapped in France in 1978.
  • Glory: Scrapped in Scotland in 1961.
  • Ocean: Scrapped in Scotland in 1962.
  • Venerable: Sold to the Royal Netherlands Navy in 1948, where she was renamed HNLMS Karel Doorman. In 1969 she was sold to Argentia, where she was renamed ARA Veinticinco de Mayo. She was scrapped in India in 1999.
  • Vengeance: Loaned to the Royal Australian Navy in 1952 as HMAS Vengeance. She was returned to the UK in 1955 and then sold to the Brazilian Navy in 1960, where she was renamed Minas Gerais. She was withdrawn from service in 2001 and scrapped in India in 2004.
  • Pioneer: Completed as a maintenance carrier. Scrapped in Scotland in 1954.
  • Warrior: Loaned to the Royal Canadian Navy in 1946 as HMCS Warrior. Returned to the UK in 1948, and sold to Argentina in 1958, where she became ARA Independencia. Scrapped in Argentina in 1971.
  • Theseus: Scrapped in Scotland in 1962.
  • Triumph: Rebuilt and reclassified as a repair ship in 1965. Scrapped in Spain in 1981.
  • Perseus: Completed as a maintenance carrier. Scrapped in Scotland in 1958.
Not a bad collective service record when one considers that their expected operational life when they were designed was three years!

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