Allied Warships

HMS Indefatigable (10)

Aircraft Carrier of the Implacable class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeAircraft Carrier
ClassImplacable 
Pennant10 
Built byJohn Brown Shipbuilding & Engineering Company Ltd. (Clydebank, Scotland) 
Ordered19 Jun 1939 
Laid down3 Nov 1939 
Launched8 Dec 1942 
Commissioned3 May 1944 
End serviceSep 1954 
History

HMS Indefatigable joined the Home Fleet in July 1944, to take part in the attacks on the German Battleship Tirpitz in Norway, with Operaytion Mascot of 17 July 1944, then subsequently a further series of attacks on the Tirpitz on 22, 24 and 29 August 1944 as part of Operation Goodwood

HMS Indefatigable was modified for Pacific service between October-November 1944 and then joined the Eastern Fleet in November 1944. She led air strikes against an oil refinery at Medan with HMS Indomitable and HMS Victorious on 4 January 1945, then in air strikes against Palembang on 24 and 29 January 1945.

Following a period at Sydney in February 1945, she joined the British Pacific Fleet and took part in air strikes against Sakishima Gunto and Formosa in March-April 1945. She was the first British ship to be hit by a Kamikaze when serving with the British Pacific Fleet on 1 April 1945. However, however she quickly recovered and became fully operational within 1 hour !!!.

She subsequently took part in further strikes against Sakishima Gunto in May 1945. By the end of these operations Indefatigable had contributed one-third of the Fleet Air Arm sorties flown between 26 March and 25 May 1945.

In June 1945 she was at Sydney - machinery breakdown delayed sailing. She then took part in air strikes against Japanese home islands between 24 July-10 August 1945. Indefatigable operated with the American Third Fleet in Japanese waters between 10 August-2 September and her aircraft flew what was officially the last sortie of the war on 15 August 1945, when her seafires shot down 8 enemy aircraft.

Indefatigable returned to Sydney on 17 September, after which she repatriated POWs from Japan to Sydney between October-November 1945.

Post war in December 1945 she sailed for New Zealand and return to Sydney, finally departing Sydney at the end of January 1946 for the UK where she arrived on 15 March 1946. She was paid off and put into reserve in December 1946. Post war Indefatigable was recommissioned as a training ship in 1950, had her hangars converted to classrooms and accommodation space. Neither ship was significantly modernised, and both were only 10 years old when paid off in September 1954. She was towed to Dalmuir late 1956 for scrapping commencing on 4 November 1956. 

Commands listed for HMS Indefatigable (10)

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CommanderFromTo
1Capt. Quintin Dick Graham, DSO, RN1 Sep 19431 Nov 1945

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Notable events involving Indefatigable include:


26 Jul 1944
HMS Trusty (Lt. L.E. Herrick, DSO, RN) conducts attack exercises for the Commanding Officer Qualifying Course with HMS Indefatigable (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN). (1)

17 Sep 1944
HMS Scythian (T/Lt C.P. Thode, RNZNVR) conducted attack exercises at Scapa Flow during which HMS Indefatigable (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN) served as target. The carrier was escorted by HMS Caprice (Lt.Cdr. G.W. McKendrick, RN) and HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Biggs, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN). (2)

1 Jan 1945

Operation Lentil.

Air strikes against oil refineries at Pangkalan-Brandan (North-East Sumatra).

On 1 January 1945 a Force made up of the aircraft carriers HMS Indomitable (Capt. J.A.S. Eccles, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral P.L. Vian, KCB, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN), HMS Indefatigable (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Suffolk (Capt. D. Gilmour, RN), light cruisers HMS Argonaut (Capt. E.W.L. Longley-Cook, CBE, RN), HMS Black Prince (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN), HMS Ceylon (Capt. G.B. Amery-Parkes, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kempenfelt (Capt. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN), HMS Wager (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Watkin, RN) HMS Whelp (Cdr. G.A.F. Norfolk, RN), HMS Grenville (Capt. H.P. Henderson, RN), HMCS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. C.E.R. Sharp, RN), HMS Undine (Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Urania (Lt.Cdr. D.H.P. Gardiner, DSC, RN) and HMS Ursa (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, DSC, RN) departed Trincomalee for an air strike on oil refineries at Pangkalan-Brandan (North-East Sumatra).

On the morning of 4 January 1945, carrier aircraft were flown off to attack the oil refineries at Pangkalan Brandan and successfully completed the operation. Photographic reconnaissance was also made of port installations at Belawan Deli, Brandan, and Soesoe.

In the afternoon of 6 January 1945, HMS Indifatigable, HMS Sussex, HMS Kempenfelt, HMS Wakeful and HMS Uriana parted company with the remainder of the Force. These ships were to proceed to Colombo.

All ships from the force arrived at Trincomalee / Colombo on 7 January 1945. (3)

16 Jan 1945

Operation Meridian.

Air strikes against oil installations in the Palembang area (South-East Sumatra).

On 16 January 1945 ' Force 63 ' made up of the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Indomitable (Capt. J.A.S. Eccles, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral P.L. Vian, KCB, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Illustrious (Capt. C.E. Lambe, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN), HMS Indefatigable (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), light cruisers HMS Argonaut (Capt. E.W.L. Longley-Cook, CBE, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. R. Oliver-Bellesis, RN), HMS Black Prince (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN), HMS Ceylon (Capt. G.B. Amery-Parkes, RN) and the destroyers HMS Grenville (Capt. H.P. Henderson, RN), HMCS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. C.E.R. Sharp, RN), HMS Undine (Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Ursa (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, DSC, RN), HMS Kempenfelt (Capt. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN), HMS Wager (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Watkin, RN), HMS Wakeful (Lt.Cdr. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN), HMS Wessex (Lt.Cdr. R. Horncastle, RN), HMS Whelp (Cdr. G.A.F. Norfolk, RN) and Whirlwind (Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN).

HMS Wessex apparently sailed from Trincomalee on the 17th and joined the Force at sea on the 19th.

An oiling force (' Force 69 ') made up of the tankers Echodale (8150 GRT, built 1941), Wave King (8159 GRT, built 1944) and Empire Salvage (10746 GRT, built 1940) had already departed Trincomalee on 13 January. They were escorted by the destroyer HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Harkness, DSC, OBE, RD, RNR). A fouth tanker, the Arndale (8296 GRT, built 1937) joined ' force 69 ' on 23 January coming from Fremantle.

The submarines HMS Tantalus (Lt.Cdr. H.S. Mackenzie, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Tantivy (Lt. P.S. May, RN) and HMS Sturdy (Lt. W.St.G. Anderson, DSC, RNR) were positioned for air/sea rescue duties. (Tantalus east of Sumatra, Tantivy west of Sumatra and Sturdy in the Sunda Strait area.)

On 20 January ships from ' Force 63 ' were refuelled by ' Force 69 '. Due to the weather conditions this was done only with difficulty and some of the refuelling gear of the tankers was damaged. HMS Ceylon was now assigned to ' Force 69 ' to give protection to this Force. [Note: Arndale at this moment was not yet with ' Force 69 '.]

' Force 63 ' then proceeded on the first phase of the operation, to launch air strikes on the oil installations at Pladjoe (north of Palembang) which were to be flown off on 21 January but the weather prevented this. It was only at 24 January that the weather had cleared to enable flying operations. 43 Avengers, 12 Firefly's (equipped with rockets) and 50 Hellcat, Corsair and Seafire fighters were flown off. The enemy installations were damaged but at the cost of no less then 32 aircraft due to enemy action (7) or crash landings (25). 14 enemy fighters were reported shot down in the air and 38 aircraft were reported to have been destroyed on the gound.

' Force 63 ' then retired from the area to rendezvous with ' Force 69 ' and refuel. This was done on 26 / 27 January.

' Force 63 ' then proceeded to the launch position for the second phase of operation during which air attacks were to be made on oil installations at Soengi-Gerong (also near Palembang). 48 Avenger, 10 Fireflies, 24 Corsairs and 16 Hellcats were launched. During dogfight 30 Japanese aircraft were shot down and another 38 were reported as having been destroyed on the ground. 16 aircraft did not return to the carriers.

A Japanese counter attack with 12 bombers failed. All were shot down by fighters from the Combat Air Patrol or AA fire from the ships.

' Force 63 ' then fuelled again from ' Force 69 ' on 30 January.

' Force 63 ' arrived at Fremantle on 4 February 1945.

' Force 69 ', minus Arndale and Wave King returned to Trincomalee on 6 February 1945. The other two tankers went to Australia. HMS Ceylon had parted company with ' Force 69 ' on 4 February and arrived at Trincomalee on 5 February.

Sources

  1. ADM 173/19127
  2. ADM 173/18650
  3. ADM 199/1457

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


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