Allied Warships

HMS Battler (D 18)

Escort Carrier of the Attacker class

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

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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CommanderFromTo
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:


22 Jun 1943

Convoy XK 9.

This convoy departed Gibraltar on 22 June 1943 for the U.K.

It was made up of the following transports; Glenartney (British, 9795 GRT, built 1940), Highland Princess (British, 14133 GRT, built 1930), Malakand (British, 7649 GRT, built 1919), Martand (British, 7967 GRT, built 1925) and Orduna (British, 15507 GRT, built 1914).

The convoy was escorted by the escort carrier HMS Battler (A/Capt. F.M.R. Stephenson, RN), destroyer HMS Malcolm (Cdr. J.M. Money, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Bicester (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, DSC, RN) and HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.E.C.G. Baines, RN). The destroyer HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) was local escort, she was detached at 2000B/25 and returned to Gibraltar on 28 June.

The AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) and destroyers HMCS Iroquois (Cdr. W.B.L. Holms, RCN) and ORP Orkan (Cdr. S. Hryniewiecki) provided cover for part of the voyage.

The convoy arrived in the U.K. on 28 June 1943.

29 Aug 1943
Ships from the newly formed ' Force V ' for the upcoming landings at Salerno conducted exercises off Gibraltar. The ships participating in the exercises were the aircraft carrier HMS Unicorn (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), escort carriers HMS Attacker (Capt. W.W.P. Shirley-Rollison, RN), HMS Battler (A/Capt. F.M.R. Stephenson, RN), HMS Hunter (Capt. H.H. McWilliam, RN), HMS Stalker ( Capt. H.S. Murray-Smith, RN), light cruiser HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral P.L. Vian, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), AA cruiser, HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, DSO, RN) and ten (?) destroyers / escort destroyers [unable to establish their precise identity for the moment.] (1)

8 Sep 1943

Operations of ' Force V ' during operation Avalanche.

Around 1100B/8, ' Force V ' departed Malta for the tyrrhenian sea. ' Force V ' was made up of the HMS Unicorn (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), escort carriers HMS Attacker (Capt. W.W.P. Shirley-Rollison, RN), HMS Battler (A/Capt. F.M.R. Stephenson, RN), HMS Hunter (Capt. H.H. McWilliam, RN), HMS Stalker ( Capt. H.S. Murray-Smith, RN), light cruiser HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral P.L. Vian, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), AA cruisers HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, DSO, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Atherstone (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Wood, DSC, RNVR), HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN), HMS Catterick (Lt.Cdr. A. Tyson, RN), HMS Cleveland (Lt. J.K. Hamilton, RN), HMS Farndale (Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN), HMS Haydon (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Watkin, RN), HMS Holcombe (Lt. F.M. Graves, RN), HMS Liddesdale (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Mackenzie, RNR), ORP Slazak (Cdr. R. Nalecz-Tyminski, ORP) and ORP Krakowiak (Lt.Cdr. W. Maracewicz).

They passed through the Messina Strait during the night of 8/9 September. At dawn on the 9th ' Force V ' arrived in the assault area. The first sortie was flown off at 0615B/9 and subsequently at hourly intervals. The aircraft maintained patrols of 80 minutes until 1930B/9 when the last aircraft landed on.

' Force V ' operated in an area 30 miles square, to the southward of the assault area, approaching the island of Capri from time to time in order to obtain accurate fixes. Three types of patrol were flown;
a) A standing patrol south and east of Capri by seafires from the escort carriers.
b) A high patrol over the beaches from about sunrise until 0745 hours and from 1810 hours until just before sunset by seafires from HMS Unicorn. This was during the period that fighter cover was not provided from Sicilian airfields.
c) A standing high patrol over the low patrol in the Capri area during the remainder of the day by Seafires from HMS Unicorn.

A total of 265 sorties were flown on the first day. Cover over ' Force V ' was maintained by aircraft from the fleet carriers of ' Force H '. During the dark hours the force was withdrawn to the southward and operated to the east of a line joining Salerno and Palermo so as to keep clear of the convoy routes, returning to the flying-off area at dawn.

During 10 September the flying programme was repeated and 232 sorties were flown.

It had been hoped that ' Force V ' could be withdrawn on the 10th and that Montecorvino airfield could be used. The airfield had indeed been captured as planned but it remained under heavy enemy artillery fire and could only be used for forced landings. ' Force V ' therefore had to remain in the assault area, though its flying efficieny had decreased and the fuel situation of the escort destroyers was becoming difficult.

On 11 September the number of sorties flown decreased to 160. At 1900B/11, ' Force H ' on leaving for Malta flew 17 aircraft over to join ' Force V ', which now had to provide its own fighter cover. Montecorvino was still under fire and patrols were again flows off at dawn on 12 September. The total number of sorties flown on 12 September was 56.

A landing strip had been laid out at Paestrum and orders were received that all available fighters should land ashore and that ' Force V ' could then withdraw. This signal, though sent at 0909 hours was not received until 1230 hours. 26 Seafires were then flown off and ' Force V ' then withdrew arriving at Palermo around 1930B/12.

' Force V ' departed from Palermo around 0600B/13 for Bizerta arriving there around 1830B/13. (2)

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.

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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. (3)

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. (4)

8 Dec 1944
The escort carrier HMS Atheling (A/Cdr. H.L. Oliver, RN) and the destroyer HMS Wager (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Watkin, RN) departed Cochin to proceed to the Colombo area to make rendezvous with the light cruiser HMNZS Achilles (Capt. F.J. Butler, CBE, RN), escort carrier HMS Battler (A/Capt. H. Norman, RN) and the destroyer HMS Whelp (Cdr. G.A.F. Norfolk, RN) which had departed Colombo on the 9th.

Also on the 9th the light cruiser HMS Swiftsure (Capt. R.D. Oliver, CBE, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.J.P. Brind, CBE, CB, RN), escort carriers HMS Fencer (A/Capt. W.W.R. Bentinck, OBE, RN), HMS Striker (Capt. W.P. Carne, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kempenfelt (Capt. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN), HMS Wakeful (Lt.Cdr. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN) and HMS Wessex (Lt.Cdr. R. Horncastle, RN) departed Trincomalee.

In the morning of 10 December 1944, these ships made rendezvous and course was set for Australia.

The destroyers parted company in the early evening of the 11th to return to Ceylon.

In the early evening of the 16th, the cruisers parted company with the carriers to proceed to Fremantle. (5)

Sources

  1. ADM 53/117004 + ADM 53/117494+ ADM 53/117648 + ADM 53/118510 + ADM 53/118573 + ADM 53/118663
  2. ADM 53/117495 + ADM 53/118664 + ADM 199/641 + ADM 234/358
  3. ADM 53/118946 + ADM 53/118947 + ADM 53/120136 + ADM 53/120137 + ADM 53/120568
  4. ADM 53/118948 + ADM 53/120138 + ADM 53/120570 + ADM 199/2291
  5. ADM 53/118758 + ADM 53/118910 + ADM 53/118957 + ADM 53/119430 + ADM 53/120566 + ADM 53/120605

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


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