Allied Warships

HMS Battler (D 18)

Escort Carrier of the Attacker class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeEscort Carrier
PennantD 18 
Built byIngalls Shipbuilding Corp. (Pascagoula, Mississippi, U.S.A.) 
Laid down15 Apr 1941 
Launched4 Apr 1942 
Commissioned31 Oct 1942 
End service12 Feb 1946 

Transferred to the Royal Navy under lend-lease.
Returned to the United States Navy on 12 February 1946.
Stricken by the United States Navy on 28 March 1946.
Sold to be broken up for scrap on 14 May 1946.

Former nameUSS Altamaha (i)

Commands listed for HMS Battler (D 18)

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1A/Capt. Frank Michael Rokeby Stephenson, RNApr 1942Jul 1944
2A/Capt. Hilary Norman, RNJul 1944Oct 1945 ?

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Notable events involving Battler include:

19 Jan 1944

Operations Thwart and Sleuth.

Attempt to intercept the German supply tanker Charlotte Schliemann.

The light cruiser HMS Newcastle (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.D. Read, CB, RN) and the escort carrier HMS Battler (A/Capt. F.M.R. Stephenson, RN) departed Mauritius to patrol an area roughly near position 30°00'S, 68°00'E. A German supply vessel (Charlotte Schliemann (7747 GRT, built 1928) is suspected to be operating in that area to resupply U-boats operating in the Indian Ocean.

On 21 January 1944, the heavy cruiser HMS Suffolk (Rear-Admiral R. Shelley, CBE, RN) and the frigate HMS Bann (Lt.Cdr. F.A. Shaw, RD, RNR) also departed Mauritius to join HMS Newcastle and HMS Battler.

HMS Suffolk, joined HMS Newcastle and HMS Battler around dawn on the 24th.

In the morning of the 26th HMS Suffolk fuelled HMS Bann.

Around noon on the 29th, HMS Newcastle parted company with HMS Suffolk and HMS Battler to return to Mauritius.

In the evening of the 30th, HMS Suffolk and HMS Battler set course to proceed to the westwards to pastrol their way towards Durban.

HMS Newcastle arrived at Mauritius on 31 January 1944.

HMS Bann arrived at Mauritius on 2 February 1944 [Her exact movements during this patrol are unknown to us.]

HMS Suffolk and HMS Battler arrived at Durban on 4 February 1944.


Also on 21 January 1944, the light cruiser HMS Kenya (Capt. C.L. Robertson, RN) and the destroyer HMAS Nepal (Cdr. F.B. Morris, RAN) departed Mauritius to patrol to patrol an area roughly near position 25°00'S, 65°00'E.

HMS Nepal returned to Mauritius on 28 January 1944.

HMS Kenya returned to Mauritius on 1 February 1944. (1)

5 Mar 1944

Operation Covered.

Attempt to intercept the German supply tanker Brake.

Around 0630D/5, the escort carrier HMS Battler (A/Capt. F.M.R. Stephenson, RN) departed Mauritius escorted by the destroyer HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Farrington, RN).

Around 1030D/5, the light cruiser HMS Newcastle (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.D. Read, CB, RN) and heavy cruiser HMS Suffolk (A/Capt. W.F.H.C. Rutherford, RN) departed Mauritius to overtake the escort carrier which they did around 1400D/5.

They then proceeded in company to the east-south-east to the area the German supply vessel was suspected.

Between 0815F/8 and 0943F/8, HMS Suffolk fuelled HMS Quadrant, 200 tons of fuel oil was passed.

Around 0700FG/10, the destroyer HMS Roebuck (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN), which had departed Mauritius on 6 March, joined HMS Suffolk, which at that moment was detached from the other ships. Suffolk then attempted to fuel the destroyer but it was not possible due to the weather conditions. Later, between 1649FG/10 and 1829FG/10, another succesful attempt to fuel HMS Roebuck was made during which 210 tons of fuel oil were passed.

At 1440FG/10, a Swordfish from HMS Battler crashed into the sea. HMS Quadrant picked up the crew.

Around 0915FG/11, HMS Suffolk and HMS Roebuck joined HMS Newcastle, HMS Battler and HMS Quadrant.

Around 2200F/11, HMS Quadrant was detached for Mauritius where she arrived on the 14th.

At 1610F/12, a patrolling Swordfish from HMS Battler reported the sighting of an enemy supply vessel with two submarines alongside. This was the supply vessel Brake (9925 GRT, built 1937). Actually three German submarines were near the tanker, these were U-168, U-188 and U-532.

At 1623F/12, HMS Roebuck was detached to attack the tanker followed at 1640F/12 by HMS Newcastle which was to provide distant cover for HMS Roebuck.

HMS Roebuck sighted the enemy tanker at 1711F/12 and engaged it with torpedoes and gunfire from 15800 yards at 1726F/12. HMS Roebuck did not close too much due to the presence of the enemy submarines. She ceased fire at 1812F/12. The tanker was seen to sink shortly afterwards. It was thought three torpedo hits had been obtained.

HMS Battler meanwhile flew off aircraft to attack the submarines. One of which attacked U-168 with rockets.

The crew of the tanker was picked up by U-168 which took them to Batavia.

At 1210F/13, HMS Roebuck rejoined the other ships but HMS Suffolk then parted company followed shortly afterwards by HMS Newcastle.

HMS Suffolk arrived at Mauritius around 0800D/15 followed by HMS Newcastle around 1315D/15.

HMS Battler and HMS Roebuck arrived at Mauritius around 0730D/16. (2)


  1. ADM 53/118946 + ADM 53/118947 + ADM 53/120136 + ADM 53/120137 + ADM 53/120568
  2. ADM 53/118948 + ADM 53/120138 + ADM 53/120570 + ADM 199/2291

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

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