HMS Battler

HMS Battler was an Attacker class escort carrier that served on convoy escort duty between Britain and Africa in 1943, took part in the Salerno landings, and spent 1944 operating with the Eastern Fleet then the East Indies Fleet, before becoming a deck landing training carrier in 1945. She was built by Ingalls Shipbuilding of Pescagoula (Mississippi) between April 1941 and November 1942.

1942

After being completed the Battler sailed from Pescagoula to Miami. Nos.840, 890, 892 and 894 Squadrons briefly embarked on the Battler for a cruise from Miami to Quonset Point, lasting from 12-26 December.

1943

The Battler reached the UK by 8 January 1943 when Nos.890, 892 and 894 Squadrons disembarked. The carrier then began a refit which was complete by the start of April. During this period her 4in guns were replaced by three 4in quick firing Mk V HA guns. Working up began on 4 April, and No.835 Squadron embarked with its Swordfish and Sea Hurricanes for convoy escort duty on 10 April 1943. The carrier was then allocated to the Commander-in-Chief Western Approaches.

In the period of May-July 1943 Biter, Archer and Battler escorted eight separate convoys. No merchant ships were lost, demonstrating the value of these escort carriers. Battler escorted convoys OS.49 (UK to West Africa), KMS.16 (North Africa to UK) and XK.9 (part of Operation Torch), and claimed on Fw 200 shot down by her Martlets.

On 16 July No.807 Squadron transferred to the Battler after the Indomitable was damaged, before transferring to the Hunter to return to the UK.

The Battler took part in Operation Avalanche, the naval part of the Salerno landings, forming part of Force V alongside the escort carriers Attacker, Hunter and Stalker and the support carrier Unicorn, while the fleet carriers Illustrious and Formidable formed Force H. The escort carriers reached Gibraltar from the Clyde on 9 August, where they picked up their fighters - in the case of the Battler the Seafires of Nos.807 and 808 Squadrons. The carriers left Gibraltar on 8 September, and spent four days of Salerno, from 9 to 12 September. During this period Force V provided close air support for the landings, suffering heavy losses from accidents to the fragile Seafires. The aircraft moved onshore for operations on 13-14 September, rejoining their carriers after these two days.

After the end of Avalanche the Battler sailed to Aden, before moving on to Bombay where she was the first carrier to be allocated to No.1 Aircraft Carrier Squadron of the East Indies Fleet, after a period with the Eastern Fleet. From November 1943 until March 1944 she served on convoy escort duties operating from Bombay, with the Seafires, Swordfish and Wildcats of No.834 Squadron onboard.

1944

In March 1944 the Battler spotted the German tanker Brake, which was then sunk by destroyers. After this she went to Durban for a refit. This was followed by a working-up period, then some time spent escorting troop convoys. In June 1944 she escorted convoy CM.53, just carrying her anti-submarine Swordfish, then in July escorted KR.11. Anti-submarine patrols in the Colombo area followed until November 1944, when she became a ferry carrier for the East Indies Fleet. In December she was ordered to return to the UK, sailing via Australia and the United States.

1945

The Battler reached the UK in March 1945, bringing No.831 Squadron with it. During this period the carrier was officially an aircraft transport, under the direct control off the Admiralty. In the spring of 1945 the Battler was replaced as a ferry carrier by the Archer, while Battler was used for deck landing training with Western Approaches Command. Working alongside the Ravager and Smiter 375 pupils qualified in deck landing during February-April 1945.

In the summer of 1945 Puncher, Ravager, Battler and Premier acted as deck landing carriers. During the period between May-July 1945 452 pupils qualified in deck landing on the four carriers, and 26 underwent refresher courses. This role lasted until January 1946.

The Battler was returned to the US Navy on 12 February 1946.

Squadrons

No.807 NAS

The Seafires of No.807 Squadron were onboard the Battler for Operation Avalanche in September 1943.

No.808 NAS

Four aircraft from 'A' Flight, No.808 Squadron, embarked on the Battler in May-June 1943 to cover a Gibraltar convoy, claiming one Fw 200 on the return trip. The entire squadron embarked in June 1943 to take part in Operation Avalanche in September 1943 before returning home on the Hunter.

No.831 NAS

The personnel of No.831 Squadron returned to the UK on the Battler at the end of 1944.

No.834 NAS

No.834 Squadron embarked on the Battler after Operation Avalanche of September 1943 with a mix of Seafires, Swordfish and Wildcats. The squadron remained onboard for several periods until October 1944.

No.835 NAS

No.835 Squadron embarked on the Battler with Swordfish and Sea Hurricanes on 10 April 1943. It remained on the carrier until late in1943, although the squadron was detached to Argus for a period in September 1943 and the fighter wing was detached to the Ravager at the end of September.

No.840 NAS

No.840 Squadron was briefly onboard with its Swordfish II for the cruise from Miami to Quonset Point on 12-26 December 1942

No.890 NAS
 
No.890 Squadron and its Martlets were onboard from 8 December in the US to 8 January 1943 in the UK

No.892 NAS

No.892 Squadron and its Martlets were onboard from 8 December in the US to 8 January 1943 in the UK

No.894 NAS

No.894 Squadron and its Martlets were onboard from 8 December in the US to 8 January 1943 in the UK

Displacement (loaded)

10,200t standard
14,170t deep load

Top Speed

18.5kts

Range

 

Length

491ft 7in to 496ft 1in oa

Armaments

18-24 aircraft
Two 4in/50 US Mk 9 guns in one two-gun mounting
Eight 40mm Bofors guns in four two-gun mountings

Crew complement

646

Launched

4 April 1941

Completed

15 November 1942

Returned to US

1946

Fleet Air Arm Carrier Warfare, Kev Darling. A complete history of the Fleet Air Arm's use of aircraft carriers, from the earliest experiments during the First World War, through the Second World War, where the carriers became the most important capital ships in the navy, the Korean War, which saw the Fleet Air Arm involved from the beginning to the end, the Falklands War, which re-emphasised the important of the carrier and right up to the current 'super-carriers'. [read full review]
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (pending), HMS Battler , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_HMS_Battler.html

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