HMS Khedive

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HMS Khedive was a Ruler class escort carrier that took part in Operation Dragoon and the liberation of Greece during 1944 before joining the East Indies Fleet during 1945. The Khedive was laid down on 22 September 1942 as USS Cordova (CVE-39).

1943

The Khedive crossed the Atlantic from west-to-east with No.849 and No.1834 Squadrons (Corsair I) onboard. No.1834 Squadron disembarked at Maydown on 16 November. The obligatory period of preparation for service with the Royal navy then followed.

1944

On 1 April No.899 joined the Khedive with its Seafires. Over the next few months the Khedive spent a short time operating as a deck landing training carrier, alongside Trumpeter and Rajah. This role was normally carried out by the Argus and the Ravager, and during May-July 1944 275 pupils qualified in deck landing on the five carriers, with another twenty took refresher courses.

On 15 July Khedive, Pursuer, Searcher and Emperor sailed from the UK to join the existing force of escort carriers in the Mediterranean.

In August 1944 Khedive formed part of Task Force 88.1, operating alongside Attacker, Emperor, Pursuer and Searcher during Operation Dragoon, the invasion of the south of France. Hunter and Stalker also formed part of Task Force 88, and between them the British carriers provided 166 fighter aircraft, suffering less than ten percent casualties to enemy action during the active period of the operation, which lasted from 15-23 August. No.899 Squadron on the Khedive flew more than 200 sorties during the operation.

The escort carriers were released on 28 August and sailed to Alexandria for repairs and replenishment. They arrived in early September, and during this visit King Farouk of Egypt was entertained onboard the Khedive. She then took part in Operation Contempt, a landing of Melos Island, which started with a bombardment of the battery at Lakida, while aircraft from No.899 Squadron attacked shore targets and shipping at Crete and Rhodes.

On 1 October Khedive left Alexandria with Pursuer and Searcher and returned to the UK. Later in the month she began a refit at London, a sign of the decreased German threat.

1945

In January 1945 Khedive sailed for the Far East to join No.21 Aircraft Carrier Squadron in the East India Fleet, taking No.1700 Squadron with her. On her arrival the Khedive became part of No.21 Aircraft Carrier Squadron, which eventually contained Attacker, Emperor, Hunter, Khedive and Stalker. The Khedive was the first to arrive, in February 1945.

Emperor and Khedive were involved in Operation Sunfish during April 1945, providing air support to a fleet that included the battleships Queen Elizabeth and Richelieu. Their aircraft carried out a PR sweep of the area around Port Swettenham, 200 miles north of Singapore, on 14-16 April, before concluding the raid with an attack on Emmahaven (northern Sumatra) and Padang. Nine officers and men from the two carriers won awards for their part in the operation.

Six British escort carriers were involved in Operations Bishop and Dracula, a long-planned amphibious invasion of Rangoon. Khedive formed part of the escort to the main assault convoy, alongside Hunter, Stalker and Emperor. This convoy left port on 30 April, and made an unopposed landing at the start of May. So little opposition was encountered that the carriers were released on 4 May, and carried out a series of attacks on the Tenasserim coast before bad weather intervened on 6 May.

While returning from Operation Bishop a destroyer accompanying the Shah and Empress detected radio messages from the Japanese heavy cruiser Haguro. These transmissions ended before any strike could be launched, and on 9 May the carriers returned to port.

While this close encounter was underway Japanese signals were intercepted and broken. This revealed that the cruiser Haguro would be returning to sea to travel to Port Blair on the Andaman Islands to cover the evacuation fo the garrison, staying there for the night of 12-13 May and then returning to Singapore. Shah, Empress, Khedive and Hunter put back to sea as Force 61 in an attempt to intercept the cruiser (Operation Dukedom). This time the Japanese were caught. Aircraft from No.851 Squadron attacked the cruiser on 15 May, although without inflicting any insignificant damage. On the following day the destroyers of Force 63 caught the cruiser and hit her with a number of torpedoes. The Haguro apparently escaped from the trap, but sank on the following day.

Ameer, Khedive and Stalker took part in Operation Balsam, which involved photographic reconnaissance of airfields in southern Malaya on 16-20 June, followed by an attack on Medan and Bindjai airfields and Somawe Bay in north-east Sumatra on 20 June. Ameer provided No.804 Squadron. One aircraft was lost in the attack.

On 10 August a fleet including the escort carriers Ameer, Emperor, Empress, Khedive and Shah left Trincomalee to attack airfields and shipping in the Penang and Medan areas. The Japanese surrender came before the attack was carried out, and the fleet returned to harbour on 15 August.

When the war ended the British were close to carrying out a major invasion of Malaya and Singapore, Operation Zipper. It was decided to conduct this operation as if it were an opposed landing, and seven escort carriers were allocated to the attacking force. Khedive was to form part of Force 64, with Empress and Emperor, while Attacker, Hunter, Stalker and Begum formed Force 65. The operation began on 10 September and saw 100,000 troops land against minimal resistance, while on 11 September most of the fleet entered Singapore.

After the end of the war the Khedive returned to the UK from Ceylon, a journey that lasted from 13 November to 12 December and saw the ship pass through the Suez Canal.

The Khedive was returned to the US Navy on 26 January 1946 and sold as a merchantman.

Squadrons

No.808 NAS

No.808 Squadron and its Hellcats embarked on the Khedive in January 1945 and remained onboard for most of the rest of the war, although one detachment did operation from the Emperor

No.849 NAS

No.849 Squadron and its Avenger Is crossed the Atlantic on the Khedive in November 1943.

No.888 NAS

No.888 NAS, the first photographic reconnaissance squadron in the Fleet Air Arm, operated its PR Hellcats from Khedive during 1945 (one of at least five carriers used by the squadron).

No.899 NAS

No.899 Squadron embarked on Khedive on 1 April 1944. Its Seafires flew over 200 sorties during Operation Dragoon in August 1944, before returning to the UK.

No.1700 NAS

No.1700 Squadron was formed as an amphibian bomber-reconnaissance equipped with the Walrus and Sea Otter. It travelled to the Far East on Khedive between 8 January and 8 February 1945 and then dispersed onto Stalker, Hunter, Emperor, Ameer, Attacker, Shah and Khedive, performing mine-sweeping and search and rescue duties. It returned to shore bases at the end of the war.

No.1834 NAS

No.1834 Squadron and its Corsair Is crossed the Atlantic on Khedive in the first half of November 1943.

Displacement (loaded)

11,400t standard
15,390t deep load

Top Speed

18kts

Range

27,500 miles at 11 knots

Length

495ft 3in-496ft 8in oa

Armaments

18-24 aircraft
Two 5in/38 US Mk 12 in two single mountings
Sixteen 40mm Bofors guns in eight double mountings
Twenty seven to thirty five 20mm cannon

Crew complement

646

Launched

27 December 1942

Completed

23 August 1943

To USA

1946

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (10 August 2010), HMS Khedive , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_HMS_Khedive.html

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