HMS Begum

HMS Begum was a Ruler class escort carrier that spent most of its career acting as a ferry carrier, apart from six months spent protecting Allied shipping in the Far East in the second half of 1944.

The Begum carried slightly less aviation fuel than the other members of the class (34,860 tons, down from 36,000t).


The Begum was completed in the US on 3 August 1943. Her first aircraft joined on 19 January 1944 when No.1837 Squadron embarked with its Corsair Is for the trip across the Atlantic. This squadron disembarked in the UK on 1 February 1944.

HMS Begum
HMS Begum

Later in February 1944 the 5th Naval Fighter Wing (Nos.1839 and 1844 Squadrons with Hellcat Is) and 12th Naval TBR Wing (Nos.815 and 817 Squadrons with Barracudas) embarked on Begum for the journey to the Far East, arriving in March. Both wings embarked on HMS Indomitable in the Far East in July 1944.

In the spring of 1944 the Begum, along with the Shah and Unicorn, formed part of the fleet train for the new British Pacific Fleet. At first this fleet only contained one fleet carrier, the Illustrious, although Formidable, Indomitable and Victorious were expected to arrive soon. During this period the Begum was not allocated any squadrons of its own, but instead was used to bring reinforcements to Illustrious.

In May 1944 the Begum's role changed again. No.832 Squadron embarked with a mix of Avengers and Wildcats and the carrier spent six months providing cover for Allied shipping.


At the start of 1945 the Begum returned to the UK, with No.832 Squadron still onboard. The squadron disembarked in the UK, and was replaced by the Sea Otters of No.1701 Squadron. The Begum then returned to the Far East with its new cargo.

The Begun was returned to US Navy control on 5 January 1946 and converted to serve as a merchantman.


No.815 NAS

No.815 Squadron embarked on the Begum with its Barracudas in February 1944 as part of the 12th Naval TBR Wing. She disembarked in the Far East, and joined the Indomitable in July 1944.

No.817 NAS

No.817 Squadron and its Barracudas made up the other half of the 12th Naval TBR Wing. The squadron embarked on the Begum in January 1944, and like No.815 Squadron embarked on the Indomitable in July 1944.

No.832 NAS

No.832 Squadron embarked on 26 May 1944 with a mix of Avengers and Wildcats. Six months of shipping protection followed before the squadron returned to the UK on the Begum.

No.845 NAS

No.845 Squadron spent one day on the Begum early in 1945.

No.1701 NAS

No.1701 Squadron and its Sea Otters made the journey out to the Far East onboard the Begum during 1945.

No.1837 NAS

No.1837 (Corsair I) embarked on the Begum for its original trip across the Atlantic in January 1944.

No.1838 NAS

No.1838 Squadron (Corsair II) was on the Begum from 19 January 1944 when it embarked in the US to 1 February 1944 when it disembarked in the UK.

No.1839 NAS

The Begum transported No.1839 Squadron (Hellcat I) from the UK to southern India in February-March 1944.

No.1844 NAS

No.1844 (Hellcat I) also travelled to southern India on the Begum, embarking on 25 February 1944 and disembarking on 7 April 1944.

Displacement (loaded)

11,400t standard
15,390t deep load

Top Speed



495ft 3in-496ft 8in oa


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



11 November 1942


3 August 1943



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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (22 July 2010), HMS Begum,

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