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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2003

HMS EAGLE - Fleet Aircraft Carrier
including Convoy Escort Movements 

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Eagle (Navy Photos, click to enlarge)

return to Contents List 


Chilean  Dreadnought  battleship purchased by the Admiralty on 28th February 1918 and converted for  use as an aircraft carrier. This ship had been laid down at Elswick by Armstrongs on 20th February 1913 and was to have been named ALMIRANTE COCHRANE. After purchase build was continued and she was launched as EAGLE on 8th June 1918. Conversion for deployment in this new role was completed on 20th February 1924.. In a series of flying trials the design was arrangements were found to be unsatisfactory and further changes were made including provision of an  island structure on the  starboard side. The ship finally entered service in 1925.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a field Blue an eagle rising Silver, with head outstretched towards the sun.


M o t t o

Arduus ad solem  -    'Soaring to  the sun'



D e t a i l s   o f   W a r   S e r v i c e


(for more ship information, go to Naval History Homepage and type name in Site Search



1 9 3 9


 August                 Deployed on China Station.

                4th          Re-commissioned at Hong Kong for continued service on China Station.

                                (Note: New ships company had taken passage by sea to join ship)

                12th        Sailed from Hong Kong for Singapore to refit

                                Embarked aircraft after leaving Hong Kong..

                19th        Arrived at Singapore and taken in hand for refit.

                31st         Undocked after ship required for service in view of possibility of war with Germany


September             Deployed on China Station and transferred to join East Indies Squadron.

                1st           Sailed for war station and deployed with HM Cruiser BIRMINGHAM and HM

                                Destroyer DARING for interception of German mercantiles

                4th          Carried out interception patrol off west coast of Sumatra.

                                Intercepted German mercantile FRANKEN.

                6th          Took passage to Colombo for deployment on East Indies Station

                10th        Arrived at Colombo after aircraft launched to RAF airfield at Ratamala for night landing

                                and torpedo launch training.

                25th        Sailed from Colombo to meet HM Cruiser LIVERPOOL for escort of mercantile into

                                Colombo during passage in Indian Ocean from Bombay..

                28th        Arrived at Colombo

                29th        Sailed for interception patrol in Indian Ocean



                5th          Returned to Colombo from patrol.

                                Nominated for service with HM Cruisers CORNWALL and DORSETSHIRE

                                Force I to carry out trade defence duties in Indian Ocean.

                                (Note: German commerce raiders were known to be active in the area and enemy

                                mercantiles on passage were to be intercepted. Similar Hunting Groups

                                were formed for this purpose in the Atlantic.)

                11th        Took passage to meet HMS CORNWALL and proceed to together to Trincomalee

                                for formation of Force I.

                13th        Arrived at Trincomalee with HMS CORNWALL after entry delayed by weather

                                conditions. Took passage to Colombo with HMS CORNWALL after refuelling.

                15th        Arrived at Colombo.

                                Sailed for patrol south of Ceylon with HMS CORNWALL

                17th        Joined by HM Cruiser LIVERPOOL for Indian Ocean patrol

                20th        Remained on patrol when HMS GLOUCESTER detached.

                23rd        Returned to Colombo.

                                (Note: Ships aircraft carried out search operations during ocean patrols.

                28th        Sailed from Colombo with HM Cruisers DAUNTLESS and DURBAN fot

                                Indian Ocean interception patrol.



                1st           Arrived at Singapore with same ships.

                8th          Took passage to Colombo from Singapore with HM Australian Cruiser HOBART.

                12th        Arrived at Colombo

                14th        Deployed with HMS DORSETSHIRE and CORNWALL for Indian Ocean patrol.

                18th        Returned to Colombo with same ships.

                25th        Sailed from Colombo with HMS DORSETSHIRE, HMS CORNWALL and HM

                                Australian Destroyer WATERHEN to meet French convoy on passage to Colombo.

                                (Note: Crew of SWORDFISH aircraft which had ditched were rescued by HMAS

                                WATERHEN on 27th.)



                1st           Diverted whilst off Madagascar and took passage south to carry out search for

                                in Chagos Archipelago for German battleships GRAF SPEE and ADMIRAL SHEER

                                known to be carrying out attacks on shipping

                3rd          HMS DORSETSHIRE detached to carry out search near Mauritius.

                5th          Two aircraft unable to find ship on return from search due to weather conditions,

                                Ship laid smoke screen which was sighted by aircraft and enabled safe return.

                7th          At Diego Suarez and met HMS GLOUCESTER

                8th          Sailed from Diego Suarez with HMS GLOUCESTER and HMS CORNWALL.

                                Detached and took independent passage to Durban for routine docking.

                                (Note: Earlier order for passage to Simonstown was cancelled.)

                12th        Arrived at Durban.

                14th        Despatched to Capetown support HMS Cruisers AJAX, ACHILLES and EXETER

                                in anticipation of action against German GRAF SPEE which had taken refuge in

                                Montevideo after Battle of the River Plate on 13th.

                16th        Diversion cancelled and took return passage.

                                (Note: This may have been because reinforcement by other ships had been arranged.

                                See Naval Staff History.)

                21st         Arrived in Durban for delayed docking.

                22nd       Resumed Indian Ocean interception duties with HMS CORNWALL and HMS


                24th        HMS CORNWALL detached..

                26th        Refuelled at Mauritius and resumed patrol with HMS GLOUCESTER.

                29th        At Seychelles after search in Carajos Islands.

                31st         Sailed for Colombo


1 9 4 0


January                  Nominated for escort of military Convoy US1.

                                (Note: This convoy was carrying ANZAC troops for service in Egypt.)

                4th          Arrived at Colombo.

                                Joined HM Cruiser SUSSEX in 4th Cruiser Squadron

                5th          HMS SUSSEX with CinC East Indies arrived in Colombo,

                6th          CinC visited ship.

                15th        Sailed from Colombo with HMS SUSSEX and HMAS HOBART for exercises.

                17th        Returned to Colombo with same ships.

                25th        Sailed for Trincomalee.

                26th        At Trincomalee

                31st         Sailed from Trincomalee with HMAS HOBART to meet HMS SUSSEX and



                1st           Joined HM Battleship RAMILLIES and HM Cruiser KENT with same ships to

                                reinforce escort of US1.

                                (Note: US1 comprised twelve Large Ocean Liners including a French and a

                                Polish vessel.)

                6th          HM Destroyer WESTCOTT on passage from Singapore joined US1and was


                8th          Arrived at Aden with US1.

                                (Note: Ship had steamed 34,889 miles since 3rd September 1939 and aircraft

                                had carried out search of over 365 square miles since 1st January).

                9th          Carried out patrol in Gulf of Aden escorted by HMS WESTCOTT to cover passage of


                17th        Sailed from Aden for Colombo with HMS RAMILLIES and HMS SUSSEX. to

                                resume Force I duties.

                21st         Nominated for return to UK.

                25th        Arrived at Colombo and planned return to UK cancelled,

                                Ship required to relieve HM Cruiser KENT in escort for second ANZAC troop

                                convoy US2 during passage in Indian Ocean.


March                    At Colombo

                5th          Carried out gunnery exercises on passage to Trincomalee for Force I service.

                6th          Deployed for Indian Ocean interception patrol in Ceylon area until 12th when to be

                                detached from Force I to take passage to Singapore for refit prior to joining US2

                12th        Took passage from Trincomalee for Singapore with HMAS HOBART.

                13th        Diverted to investigate report of suspicious vessel in Bay of Bengal.

                14th        Whilst proceeding independently major explosion occurred in F bomb room where

                                250 lb aircraft bombs were being stowed in bomb room after removal from aircraft.

                                14 members of ships company were killed and three seriously injured.

                                Fire in hangar area was extinguished by automatic sprinkler system causing damage

                15th        Resumed passage to Singapore during which burial of those killed took place.

                16th        Arrived at Singapore and remaining bombs landed.

                                (Note: The subsequent Board of Enquiry found that the explosion of a bomb in F

                                bomb room had been caused by damage to a safety device which could have

                                been caused during heavy landing of an aircraft although rigorous procedures

                                were carried out to check this mechanism after any suspect damage. For

                                to aircraft and explosion caused expensive structural damage.

                                details see EAGLES WAR by P. Smith.)

                27th        Ship entered dry-dock

                                (Note: Planned deployment with US2 cancelled.

                                Ships company moved into Shore Accommodation.)


April                       Under repair and refit

                                (Note Radio Homing Beacon was fitted to assist return of aircraft in poor weather


May                        Nominated for transfer to Mediterranean Fleet to replace HM Aircraft GLORIOUS

                                which had been recalled to Home waters after German invasion of Norway.

                  9th        Sailed from Singapore to join Fleet at Alexandria with calls at Colombo and Aden.

                23rd        Passage in Red Sea in company with HM Cruisers LIVERPOOL, GLOUCESTER and

                                SYDNEY (RAN).

                26th        Arrived at Port Said independently.

                                (Note: The cruisers detached during passage.)

                27th        Joined Mediterranean Fleet escorted by HM Destroyers HEREWARD and HERO.

                                Transferred to 1st Battle Squadron comprising HM Battleships WARSPITE,

                                RAMILLIES, ROYAL SOVEREIGN, VALIANT and MALAYA


June                        Carried out exercises with HM Battleships WARSPITE, MALAYA, ROYAL

                                SOVEREIGN and French battleship LORRAINE and screen of four destroyers.

                                (Note: These were in anticipation of outbreak of war with Italy.)

                10th        Sailed from Alexandria with HMS WARSPITE, HMS MALAYA, HM Cruisers ORION,


                                screened by HM Destroyers DAINTY, HASTY, ILEX, JANUS, JUNO, NUBIAN,

                                STUART (RAN), VAMPIRE (RAN) and VOYAGER RAN) to take up position in Aegean

                                Sea to engage any Italian major Fleet units which may take passage prior to or immediately

                                on outbreak of hostilities.

                11th        Hostilities started at 0001 BST.

                                Australian destroyers detached on relief by HM Destroyers HAVOCK, HERO,

                                HEREWARD, HOSTILE, HYPERION and IMPERIAL.

                12th        Carried out air search for shipping without success.

                                Took return passage with Fleet unit and ships of 7th Cruiser Squadron which had been

                                deployed for shipping sweep in an area east of Sicily.

                                Fleet units under submarine attack during which HM Cruiser CALYPSO was torpedoed

                                by Italian submarine BAGNOLINI and sank with loss of 38 lives.

                14th        Arrived at Alexandria after minesweep had been carried out by destroyers.

                                (Note: Some Aircrew were landed to fly GLADIATOR aircraft from Dekehelia

                22nd       Deployed with HMS RAMILLIES and HMS ROYAL SOVEREIGN with destroyer

                                screen to carry out offensive sweep between Libyan coast and south Italy.

                                (Operation BQ)

                23rd        Returned to Alexandria when BQ cancelled.

                27th        Sailed from Alexandria with HM Battleships RAMILLIES. ROYAL SOVEREIGN, HM

                                Cruisers GLOUCESTER, LIVERPOOL, NEPTUNE, ORION and SYDNEY screened

                                by Mediterranean Fleet Destroyers

                28th        Deployed as Force B with HMS RAMILLIES, ROYAL SOVEREIGN, HM Destroyers

                                HASTY, HAVOCK, HEREWARD, HERO and HYPERION of 2nd Destroyer Flotilla

                                to provide Distant Cover for passage of Convoys MS1 and MF1 from Malta to Alexandria

                                as well as Convoy AS1 from Piraeus to Alexandria (Operation MA3).

                                (Note: The cruisers deployed as Force A engaged three Italian destroyers during MA 3

                                sinking one (ESPERO). For details see Naval Staff History, THE BATTLE FOR

                                THE MEDITERRANEAN by D MacIntyre)

                29th        Aircraft sighted and reported Italian submarines.

                                (Note: ARGONAUTA, UEBI SCEBELI and LUIZZI were sunk in the A/S operations

                                by ship’s aircraft and HM Destroyers DAINTY, DECOY, DEFENDER, ILEX

                                and VOYAGER (RAN) deployed as Force C.)



                2nd         Returned to Alexandria with Fleet units.

                                (Note: The passage of MS1 and MS1 was postponed on 28th June because of the

                                prodigious expenditure of 6in ammunition.)

                3rd          Ship involved in measures taken by CinC Mediterranean to ensure French warships

                                deployed at Alexandria under his overall command were prevented from leaving the

                                port. Armament was trained on French warships.

                                (Note: These measures had been required following the withdrawal of France from

                                hostilities. For further details see RELUCTANT ENEMIES by W Tute and

                                Naval Staff Histories which include the operations at Oran which were far


                5th          Sailed from Alexandria with HM Battleships WARSPITE, MALAYA and ROYAL

                                SOVEREIGN, HM Cruisers GLOUCESTER, LIVERPOOL, NEPTUNE and ORION

                                screened by HM Destroyers DAINTY, DEFENDER, HASTY, HOSTILE, HYPERION,

                                ILEX, IMPERIAL, JANUS, JUNO, VAMPIRE (RAN) and VOYAGER (RAN)

                                to provide Distant Cover for passage of MS1 and MF1 which had been postponed.)

                                (Operation MA5)

                                (Note: Ships aircraft based ashore at Maaten Bagush caerried out torpedo attacks on

                                shipping at Tobruk sinking the destroyer ZEFFIRO and a mercantile with

                                damage to another destroyer and mercantile.)

                8th          Under sustained air attacks.

                                Italian Fleet movements reported by RAF flying boats enabled preparation for engagement

                                to be made.

                9th          Launched torpedo aircraft attacks on enemy Fleet units.

                                over RN units. Detached from Battle Squadron and Cruiser Squadron during Fleet

                                engagement (Battle of Calabria – For full details see Naval Staff History)

                10th        Launched air attacks on Augusta, Sicily sinking the destroyer LEONI PANCALLO in the


                                (Note: This ship was subsequently salvaged and returned to service only to be sunk again

                                in April 1943)

                11th        Under sustained air attacks which were unsuccessful although ship was near missed.

                                `14th       Returned to Alexandria with 1st Battle Squadron having maintained anti-submarine

                                patrols as part of Distant Cover for the two convoys.

                25th        Under night air attacks in harbour whilst at Alexandria

                26th        Further night air raids

                27th        Deployed with HM Battleships WARSPITE, MALAYA and RAMILLIES of 1st Battle

                                Squadron, HM Cruisers NEPTUNE and SYDNEY (RAN) screened by HM Destroyers

                                JERVIS, JANUS, NUBIAN, MOHAWK, HEREWARD, IMPERIAL and POLISH

                                ORP GARLAND to provide Distant Cover for passage of Convoy AN2 from Egypt to


                29th        Under air attacks during which ship’s aircraft destroyed one bomber.

                30th        Returned to Alexandria.

                31st         Deployed with HM Battleships MALAYA and ROYAL SOVEREIGN screened by HM

                                Destroyers JERVIS, HERO, HEREWARD, HASTY, HOSTILE, IMPERIAL, ILEX and

                                VENDETTA (RAN) as Force B to carry out diversionary operation coincident with Malta

                                aircraft delivery by HM Aircraft Carrier ARGUS in western Mediterranean

                                (Operation MA9 –diversion for Operation HURRY by Force H)


August                  Since commissioning mileage steamed was 54,671.

                1st           On completion of gunnery exercises Force B had to return to harbour instead of carrying

                                out cruise in eastern Mediterranean,

                                (Note: HMS MALAYA had developed machine problems requiring repairs.)

                22nd       Detached aircraft based at Maaten Bagush carried out attacks on Bomba.

                                The Italian submarine IRIDE and a depot ship MONTE GARGANO were sunk and a

                                second submarine EURO was damaged.

                30th        Sailed from Alexandria to provide Distant Cover for passage of convoy MF2 to Malta

                                and to meet HM Aircraft Carrier ILLUSTRIOUS, HM Battleship VALIANT, HM

                                Cruisers CARLISLE and COVENTRY (Force F) joining the Mediterranean Fleet.

                                (Operation MB3 – Part of joint Operation HATS with Force H based at Gibraltar,

                                (Note: The other Mediterranean Fleet ships, designated as Force I comprised

                                HM Battleships WARSPITE and MALAYA, HM Cruisers GLOUCESTER,

                                KENT, LIVERPOOL, ORION and SYDNEY (RAN) with HM Destroyers

                                DECOY, DEFENDER, HASTY, HEREWARD, HYPERION, ILEX,

                                IMPERIAL, STUART (RAN), VAMPIRE (RAN), VENDETTA

                                VOYAGER and Polish ORP GARLAND.)

                31st         Under air attack.

                                Italian major units reported by aircraft from ship

                                (Note: Italian Fleet returned to base.



                2nd         Force F ships joined Force I off Malta.

                                Returning Italian Fleet sighted by reconnaissance aircraft from ship.

                4th          Under air attacks which delayed launch of aircraft for planned bombing of airfield

                                at Maritza, Rhodes. Four aircraft from ship were lost.

                5th          Returned to Alexandria with Fleet units.

                                (See Naval Staff History for details of HATS)

                                Docked for inspection of hull in case of near miss damage.

                7th          Undocked and resumed operational duties,

                21st         Carried out daylight landing exercises.



                8th          Provided cover for passage of Convoy MF3 during passage to Malta.

                                (Operation MB6)

                                (Note: Other ships of Mediterranean Fleet providing cover were HM Battleships

                                MALAYA, RAMILLIES and WARSPITE, HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, HM

                                Cruisers AJAX, GLOUCESTER, LIVERPOOL, ORION, SYDNEY (RAN)

                                and YORK with HM Destroyers DAINTY, DECOY, DEFENDER, HAVOCK,

                                HASTY, HAVOCK, HEREWARD, HERO, ILEX, IMPERIAL, JANUS

                                JERVIS, JUNO, NUBIAN, VAMPIRE (RAN) and VENDETTA (RAN)

                12th        Ships aircraft located damaged Italian destroyer ARTIGLIERE which was under

                                tow following damage in an action with HMS AJAX on 11th during which two

                                other destroyers, ARIEL and AIRONE were sunk. See Naval Staff History.)

                                (Note: ARTIGLIERE was later sunk by HMS YORK.

                                Under air attacks during which the two aircraft carriers claimed destruction of five

                                enemy machines.

                14th        Further air attacks by bomb and torpedo aircraft. HMS LIVERPOOL was hit by a

                                torpedo and seriously damaged.

                                Returned to Alexandria with Fleet units.

                20th        Carried out day and night deck landing trials escorted by HM Destroyers DECOY, HASTY,

                                HAVOCK, HEREWARD and ILEX, returning on 21st.

                                (Note: Ships aircraft operating from shore carried out air attacks and minelaying on 23rd

                                and 28th.)

                25th        Deployed with HMS MALAYA, HM Cruisers ORION, SYDNEY (RAN), HMS

                                COVENTRY and screen of eight destroyers to provide cover from north bound Convoy

                                AN5 to Greece during passage from Egypt (Operation MAQ2)

                27th        Air strikes launched for attack on Port Matenza, Rhodes.

                28th        Returned to Alexandria with Fleet units.

                                (Note: Italian forces entered Greece on this day.)

                29th        Sailed from Alexandria with HM Battleships WARSPITE, MALAYA, RAMILLIES, and

                                VALIANT, HM Cruisers YORK, ORION, SYDNEY (RAN) and GLOUCESTER screened by

                                Fleet destroyers to provide cover for passage of military convoys taking stores and

                                personnel to set up forward operating base at Suda Bay in Crete (Operation BARBARITY)



                1st           Under heavy and sustained attacks whilst deployed with Fleet units in Aegean to provide

                                aerial protection and anti-submarine patrols.

                                Returned to Alexandria with Fleet units.

                5th          Examination of hull revealed significant damage and accounted for contamination of

                                aviation fuel system by damage caused during air attacks in recent weeks.

                                Withdrawn from operational service and nominated for extensive refit.

                                (Note: HMS ILLUSTRIOUS had joined the Fleet at Alexandria in September and amongst

                                the many deficiencies of this ship was lack of any radar and unprotected upper deck.

                                Participation in planned air attacks on Italian Fleet at Taranto was not possible and

                                some air crew were transferred to HMS ILLUSTRIOUS to take part.

                                (Operation JUDGEMENT)

                6th          Under repair.

                16th        Sailed from Alexandria and took passage to Suda Bay to provide cover for passage of troop

                                convoys to Greece.

                17th        Took return passage from Suda Bay with HM Battleship BARHAM,

                19th        At Alexandria after delay on passage due to machinery defects in HMS BARHAM

                23rd        Deployed as Force C with HM Battleships RAMILLIES and MALAYA, HM Cruisers

                                BERWICK, SYDNEY (RAN), AJAX and ORION with destroyer screen and took passage to

                                Suda Bay to provide cover for a series of joint operations with Force H which included

                                transit of Malta relief convoys including additional reinforcements for Fleet at Alexandria.

                                (Operation MB9 – Part of overall joint Operation COLLAR,, see Naval Staff History).

                24th        Under air attacks at Suda Bay but sailed same day.

                25th        Deployed with Fleet units to cover passage of Convoy MF4

                26th        Detached and took passage to carry out planned air operations.

                                Carried out night air attacks on Tripoli.

                29th        Returned to Alexandria.

                                (Note: For full details of COLLAR see Naval Staff History)


December              Deployed at Alexandria.

                                Under repair to stern gland defects.

                                Squadrons 813 and 824 disembarked for operations based ashore.

                                (Note: Nominated for future deployment for Ocean interception and trade defence duties

                                when available for release from Mediterranean Fleet duties after arrival of HM

                                Aircraft Carrier FORMIDABLE)


1 9 4 1



                6th          Carried out Deck Landing trials with SEA GLADIATOR aircraft.

                11th        Deployed with HMS BARHAM, HMS AJAX and destroyer screen to carry out

                                attacks on Dodecanese as Force X (Operation MC6).

                12th        Operation MC6 cancelled because of damage to HMS ILLUSTRIOUS.

                                (Note: HMS ILLUSTRIOUS had been deployed in defence of major joint operation

                                with Force H to pass convoys to Malta.

                                (Operation EXCESS – See Naval Staff History)

                                RAF personnel embarked in Alexandria for passage to Malta transferred to HMS

                                PERTH (RAN) at Suda Bay for onward passage.

                13th        Sailed from Suda Bay with HMS BARHAM to carry out air operations in area near


                                Planned attacks cancelled due to weather conditions.

                                When weather eased launched aircraft to search for Italian convoy which was sighted.

                                Further air attack failed to locate convoy.

                                (Note: One aircraft failed to return from search.)

                15th        Returned to Suda Bay when planned attacks on Benghazi were cancelled.

                                Rejoined Fleet units to cover passage of Convoy ME6 from Malta.

                                (Note: Part of EXCESS)

                17th        Returned to Alexandria with Fleet units.

                23rd        Carried out air defence exercises in Eastern Mediterranean.

                25th        Docked at Alexandria.

                30th        Resumed Fleet duties.


February                First FULMAR aircraft embarked and four SWORDFISH transferred for shore base


                1st           Took part in Fleet air defence exercises.

                3rd          Returned to Alexandria.

                19th        Carried out Deck Landing training for BREWSTER BUFFALO aircraft which were


                                On completion took passage to join Force A.

                21st         Joined HM Battleships BARHAM and VALIANT screened by nine

                                destroyers for Operation MC8.

                                Air attack repelled by ships aircraft which destroyed one machine before reaching

                                convoy. See Naval Staff History for details of MC8

                22nd       Returned to Alexandria with Force A ships.



                3rd          Carried out successful BREWSTER BUFFALO Deck Landing Trials.

                                On completion carried out Boiler Clean at Alexandria prior to Ocean deployment.

                                On completion held at Alexandria pending arrival of HMS FORMIDABLE to replace

                                HMS ILLUSTRIOUS taken out of service for repair.

                                (Note: Approval for release from Mediterranean was dependant on clearance

                                of mines and wrecks in Suez Canal.)

                25th        Disembarked Squadrons remained ashore and transferred to Port Sudan to counter

                                the Italian threat to convoy traffic in Red Sea by warships based at Massawa.

                                (Operation ATMOSPHERE)



                3rd          Squadron aircraft carried out successful attacks on Italian destroyers.

                                (Note: NAZARIO SAURA, DANIELE MANIN, PANTERA, TIGRE and DANIELE

                                BATISTI were sunk directly or scuttled after being seriously damaged.

                                See EAGLE’S WAR by P smith and WARSHIP LOSSES OF WW2 by D Brown)

                8th          HMS FORMIDABLE arrived and released from Mediterranean service.

                9th          Took passage from Alexandria escorted by HM Destroyers ENCOUNTER and DECOY

                10th        Escort detached and ship began Canal transit.

                                Transit delayed in Great Bitter Lake due to obstruction.

                15th        Resumed transit when obstruction cleared.

                16th        Refuelled at Port Suez

                18th        At Port Tewfik.

                19th        Took passage to Aden and re-embarked aircraft.

                                (Note: Intended deployment with Hunting Group V which included

                                HM Cruiser LEANDER (RNZN) ).

                21st         Joined HM Cruiser CORNWALL at Aden and took passage to Mombasa.

                26th        Arrived at Mombasa.

                                (Note: HM Cruisers GLASGOW and COLOMBO and HM Destroyers KINGSTON and

                                KANDAHAR were present.)

                29th        Despatched from Mombasa to search for commerce raider which has attacked a


                30th        Aircraft sighted a mercantile but ships was identified as a neutral.

                                (Note: Planned joint search with HM Cruiser HAWKINS did not take place.)


May                        Intended deployment with Indian Ocean Hunting Group cancelled and ship nominated

                                for service at Gibraltar.

                3rd          Took return passage to Mombasa after fruitless air searches.

                4th          Arrived at Mombasa to refuel

                5th          Deployed with HMS HAWKINS to carry out search for German commerce raider

                                PINGUIN known to be active in Indian Ocean.

                                (Note: PINGUIN was sunk on 8th by HMS CORNWALL.

                9th          Arrived at Durban after passage at reduced speed to conserve fuel stock.

                10th        Sailed from Durban to Capetown for further search duty in South Atlantic with HM

                                Battleship NELSON.

                                (Note: HMS NELSON had been part of escort for military convoy during passage to

                                Middle East from UK.)

                                This deployment was made to carry out search for German commerce raider

                                ATLANTIS known to be active in South Atlantic.)

                                Arrived at Cape Town for duty in South Atlantic.

                                (Note: Extreme weather conditions were experienced in Capetown which caused a

                                liberty boat from HMS NELSON to capsize with loss of life.)

                13th        Sailed from Capetown for search with HMS NELSON and HMS Cruiser MAURITIUS.

                18th        German raider passed close to the searching ships overnight without detection.

                                See EAGLE’S WAR and GERMAN RAIDERS OF WW2 by R Hale.)

                                Refuelled at St Helena and sailed a few hours later.

                19th        Resumed search.

                22nd       HM Destroyers DUNCAN and HIGHLANDER join as escort for passage into


                23rd        HM Destroyers BOREAS and VELOX relieved escort. and rejoined after

                                refuelling in Freetown.

                25th        Arrived at Freetown with same four destroyers.

                26th        HMS NELSON detached and sailed for Gibraltar.

                29th        Sailed from Freetown on completion of replenishment.

                                Resumed search with HM Cruiser DUNEDIN.


June                        (Note: The search operations for German supply ships known to be deployed

                                for support of German battleship BISMARCK were controlled direct

                                from the Admiralty in London based on decryption of German ENIGMA

                                signals (See BRITISH INTELLIGENCE IN WW2 by Hinsley)

                5th          Refuelled from HM Feet Auxiliary BISHOPSDALE.

                6th          Aircraft bombed blockade runner ELBE which scuttled near Azores.

                13th        Refuelled from BISHOPSDALE.

                15th        German U-Boat supply ship LOTHRINGEN sighted by aircraft in position

                                19.40N 39 30W enabling capture by HMS DUNEDIN.

                                (Note: LOTHRINGEN later became EMPIRE SALVAGE.)

                17th        Deployed in further search operation with HM Cruiser LONDON, HMS

                                DUNEDIN and HMS BRILLIANT.

                19th        Returned to Freetown to replenish.


July                         Nominated for interception patrol with HMS LONDON, HMS DUNEDIN and

                                HM Armed Merchant Cruiser ALCANTARA as Hunting Group Z.

                5th          Sailed for patrol in South Atlantic with HMS ALCANTARA escorted by HM

                                Destroyers VELOX and VANSITTART,

                8th          Arrived at St Helena and joined HMS DUNEDIN.

                9th          Resumed patrol.

                23rd        Returned to ST Helena.

                24th        Deployed for patrol WSW of St Helena



                3rd          Returned to St Helena to refuel and embarked 43 labourers for passage to Freetown.

                                On completion took return passage to Freetown

                                (Note: Instructions for passage included interception of Vichy French mercantiles

                                known to be attempting passage from Far East to France.)

                10th        Arrived at Freetown for boiler clean and R&R..

                21st         Deployment for interception and patrol in South Atlantic to be continued until end of

                                August at request of CinC South Atlantic.

                                (Note: Admiralty had required ship to return to UK.)

                                (Note: During period in Freetown one of ship’s company was killed by as fall when

                                a guard rail failed whilst he was on Bridge structure.

                                Ship also assisted in rescue of personnel after a picket boat capsized whilst

                                returning to HM Sloop BRIDGEWATER with liberty men. Eight on board

                                lost their lives and twelve were rescued by a motor boat from EAGLE.)

                29th        Took passage from Freetown with HM Cruiser DORSETSHIRE to meet HM Cruiser

                                NEWCASTLE for convoy defence.

                                (Note: A German cruiser has been reported in the area and presented a threat to many

                                convoys on passage in South Atlantic.)


September             Deployed as Force F with same ships.

                6th          Refuelling with HM Fleet Tanker ECHODALE failed due to weather conditions.

                7th          Further refuelling again failed.

                9th          Resumed patrol with HMS DORSETSHIRE after completion of refuelling.

                17th        Refuelled at St Helena with difficulty due to weather conditions.

                18th        Deployed with HMS DORSETSHIRE in search for raider (Operation ZEAL)

                20th        Fire broke out in hangar when pyrotechnic ignited during maintenance work.

                                (Note: Aircraft in hangar were drenched by immediate operation of spray

                                extinguishers. Only four SWORDFISH were available for operations

                                but air operations continued.)

                21st         Ship’s WALRUS aircraft crashed whilst landing on deck and sank overboard.

                                Crew were rescued with some injuries.

                                23rd Patrol terminated due to machinery problems which reduced speed

                                (Note: Defect in evaporators had made necessary speed reduction and emphasised

                                need for refit already evident by overall state of machinery)

                26th        Refuelled at St Helena.

                28th        Ship took passage to Freetown with HMS DORSETSHIRE.



                3rd          Arrived at Freetown.

                4th          Took passage from Freetown with HM Cruiser DUNEDIN, Free French

                                COMMANDANT DETROYAT and two RN corvettes.

                                (Note: The other ships later detached.)

                9th          HM Destroyer WILD SWAN joined as escort.

                11th        Arrived at Gibraltar with HMS WILD SWAN and HM Escort Destroyer CROOME.

                21st         Sailed from Gibraltar with HM Aircraft ARGUS with Local Escort by HM Destroyers

                                FORESIGHT, FORESTER, SIKH and ZULU.

                26th        Arrived in Clyde and aircraft disembarked during passage.

                30th        Took passage to Liverpool for refit by Cammell Laird, escorted by Polish destroyer




                1st           Docked for refit.

                                (Note: Extent of Refit was under review because of loss of HMS ARK ROYAL and

                                later by implications of war with Japan.)


December              Under refit.

                                (Note: Refit work included fit of RN radar (Type 291 for surface warning and three

                                Type 285 for fire control of AA armament. 20mm Oerlikon guns were

                                fitted for close range defence against air attacks.

                                Ship was to carry out 14 days work-up on completion before resuming

                                operational service.)


1 9 4 2


January                  Under refit and carried out harbour trials.

                9th          Sailed from Liverpool for Clyde escorted by HM Destroyer SKATE and Polish

                                ORP BLYSKAWICA.

                                Carried out Post Refit trials

                15th        Commenced work-up for service based in Clyde.

                27th        Completed work-up and prepared for service in Mediterranean as replacement.

                                for HMS ARK ROYAL.


February                Nominated for Ocean Escort of military convoy WS16 during Atlantic passage.

                17th        Joined military convoy WS16 with HM Battleship MALAYA, HM Aircraft

                                ARGUS, HM Cruiser HERMIONE screened by HM Destroyers ACTIVE,

                                ANTHONY, BLANKNEY, CROOME, DUNCAN, FIREDRAKE, LAFOREY and


                                (Note: HMS FORMIDABLE which also joined Ocean Escort was with this convoy

                                on passage to Indian Ocean)

                21st         Detached with other ships intended for service in Mediterranean.

                23rd        Joined Force H at Gibraltar,

                27th        Deployed with HMS MALAYA, HMS ARK ROYAL, HMS ARGUS and HMS

                                HERMIONE screened by HM Destroyers LAFOREY, LIGHTNING, BLANKNEY,

                                CROOME, DUNCAN, ACTIVE, ANTHONY, WHITEHALL and WISHART

                                to cover delivery of SPITFIRE aircraft to Malta from western Mediterranean

                                (Operation SPOTTER).

                28th        Returned to Gibraltar when operation cancelled due to defects in aircraft long range

                                fuel tanks.



                6th          Carried out Malta aircraft delivery with HM Aircraft Carrier ARGUS, covered by

                                HM Cruiser HERMIONE (Repeat Operation SPOTTER).

                                (Note: HMS EXMOOR was deployed with screen in place of HMS LAFOREY

                                and HMS LIGHTNING

                8th          Returned to Gibraltar after successful launch.

                11th        Under repair to machinery

                21st         Repeated Malta aircraft deliveries with HMS ARGUS, escorted by HMS MALAYA

                                and HMS HERMIONE (Operation PICKET I).

                                (Note: Some aircraft were unserviceable but two BEAUFORT and SPITFIRES were


                28th        Second aircraft delivery with same ships (Operation PICKET II)

                30th        On return to Gibraltar taken in hand for further repair by HM Dockyard.


April                       Under repair.

                30th        Carried out exercises with HM Cruiser CHARYBDIS.



                8th          Deployed for Malta aircraft delivery with US aircraft carrier USS WASP as part

                                of Force W. HM Battlecruiser RENOWN, HM Cruiser CHARYBDIS screened by

                                HM Destroyers ANTELOPE, ECHO, GEORGETOWN, ITHURIEL, INTREPID,

                                PARTRIDGE, SALISBURY, VIDETTE, WISHART and WRESTLER. US Navy

                                destroyers LANG and STERRETT were also deployed in screen.

                                (Operation BOWERY - See Naval Staff History.

                10th        Returned to Gibraltar with Force W.

                17th        Malta aircraft delivery with HMS ARGUS, escorted by HMS CHARYBDIS, screened]

                                by HM Destroyers ANTELOPE, ITHURIEL, PARTRIDGE, VIDETTE, WISHART.

                                WESTCOTT and WRESTLER

                                (Operation LB).

                20th        Returned to Gibraltar after air attacks during passage after launch. See EAGLE’S WAR



                1st           Carried out exercises with HMS CHARYBDIS,

                2nd         Malta aircraft delivery escorted by HMS CHARYBDIS and screened by HM Destroyers

                                ITHURIEL, WESTCOTT, WISHART and WRESTLER (Operation STYLE).

                4th          Returned to Gibraltar after successful launch.

                                (Note: Two aircraft failed to arrive after attack by German aircraft from Pantellaria.)

                8th          Malta aircraft delivery escorted by HM Cruisers CAIRO and CHARYBDIS screened

                                by HM Destroyers ANTELOPE, ITHURIEL, PARTRIDGE, WESTCOTT, WISHART

                                and WRESTLER (Operation SALIENT).

                11th        Deployed as Force W with HMS MALAYA. HMS ARGUS, HM Cruisers LIVERPOOL,

                                KENYA and CHARYBDIS screened by HM Destroyers ANTELOPE, ESCAPADE, ICARUS,

                                ONSLOW, VIDETTE, WESTCOTT, WISHART and WRESTLER for escort of Malta supply

                                convoy in western Mediterranean.

                                (Note: Force X comprised of ships to act as Close Escort during passage to Malta through

                                the Sicilian Narrows. Force Y was made up of an RFA tanker and two corvettes for

                                supply of fuel to escorts during passage.)

                12th        (Operation HARPOON - See ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by C Barnett,

                                THE BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by Donald MacIntyre, EAGLE’S WAR and

                                the Naval Staff History for details of Malta aircraft deliveries and Mediterranean

                                naval activities.)

                13th        Under heavy and sustained air attacks.

                14th        Air attacks including torpedo bombers in continuation and HMS LIVERPOOL hit

                15th        Return passage to Gibraltar after Force X detached

                17th        Arrived at Gibraltar



                14th        Malta aircraft delivery escorted by HMS CHARYBDIS and HMS CAIRO screened by

                                HM Destroyers ANTELOPE, ITHURIEL, VANSITTART, WESTCOTT and WRESTLER

                                (Operation PINPOINT).

                                (Note: Attack by Italian submarine failed during passage to launch area.)

                16th        Returned to Gibraltar.

                20th        Deployed with same ships for repeat Malta aircraft delivery (Operation INSECT).

                22nd       Returned to Gibraltar



                7th          Joined HM Aircraft Carriers VICTORIOUS, INDOMITABLE, FURIOUS and ARGUS

                                in Atlantic for series of exercises to improve Fighter Direction and multi-carrier

                                operating techniques prior to defence of planned Malta convoy.

                                (Exercise BERSERK see RADAR AT SEA by D Howse.)

                10th        Joined HM Battleship NELSON, HM Battlecruiser RENOWN, HMS INDOMITABLE

                                and HMS VICTORIOUS escorted by Fleet destroyers to provide cover for passage of

                                Convoy WS21S to Skerki Channel.

                                (Operation PEDESTAL - see above references.)

                11th        Under attack by U73 which penetrated destroyer screen. Hit by four torpedoes and

                                sank in eight minutes south of Majorca (Position 38.05N 03.02E).900 of her

                                complement of 1160 were rescued by HM Destroyers LAFOREY, LOOKOUT

                                and a Tug.). (Casualty List - note on casualties)

                                See above references, MALTA CONVOYS by Woodman and PEDESTAL by P Smith.


P o s t   W a r   N o t e


The Casualty List was published on 4th September 1942. Although this name was re-introduced in 1944 for another Fleet Aircraft Carrier ordered from Hawthorne Leslie at Newcastle the build was cancelled in 1945. The third major RN warship to carry the name was the aircraft Carrier intended to be named AUDACIOUS but this changed to EAGLE on 21st January 1946 before her launch by Harland and Wolff at Belfast on 19th March that year. This new Fleet Aircraft Carrier entered service in October 1952 and was paid off in January 1972. No record of any “adoption ” by a civil community following a WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign between 1941 and 1942 can be can be traced in an Admiralty source but the later ship was associated with the city of Exeter after 1953.






Convoy Escort Movements of HMS  EAGLE

by Don Kindell


These convoy lists have not been cross-checked with the text above


Date convoy sailed

Joined convoy as escort

Convoy No.

Left convoy

Date convoy arrived













WS 016










WS 021S




(Note on Convoys)



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