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

HMS VICTORIOUS - Illustrious-class Fleet Aircraft Carrier
including Convoy Escort Movements 

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Victorious departing Devonport in 1947, below in 1942, and at bottom of page,
after major post-war conversion (
all Navy Photos, click to enlarge)

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ILLUSTRIOUS-Class Fleet aircraft carrier ordered from Victors-Armstrong, Newcastle en  13th Jan.1937 and laid down on 5th May that year. The ship was launched by Lady Inskip,  Wife of a Defence Minister, on 14th September 1939. She was the 5th RN ship to carry the name, introduced  in  1783 for a 3rd Rate, and last used for an 1895 battleship sold in 1923. Build was completed  on 15th May 1941 at a cost of £4.05M. Unusually, the ship was adopted by a civil organisation outside the United  Kingdom - The War Savings Committee of India.



B a t t l e   H o n o u r s

CAPE  OF GOOD  HOPE  1795 - ST LUCIA  1796 - EGYPT 1801  - WALCHEREN 1809 - RIVOLI Action  1812  - BISMARCK Action 1941 - NORWAY 1941-42 - ARCTIC 1941-42 - MALTA CONVOYS  1942 - BISCAY 1942 - SABANG 1944 - PALEMBANG 1945 - OKINAWA 1945 - JAPAN 1945

H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field Red a winged female figure, habited and supported with the

  hands uplifted White, a  wreath of Laurel also White.



D e t a i l s   of   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 4 1



                29th        Commissioned for service in Home Fleet after work-up.


April                       Contractors sea trials and passage to Rosyth.

                                Prepared for operational service.

                15th        Joined Home Fleet.


May                        Final Acceptance Trials and worked-up for service.

                20th        Embarked of aircraft and intended to Join Convoy WS8X escort.

                22nd       Placed at disposal of CinC Home Fleet and sailed with HM Battleship KING GEORGE V

                                in search for German battleship BISMARCK which was on passage into Atlantic.

                                (Note:  Aircrew training was incomplete. No other aircraft carrier available).

                24th        Launched air strike against BISMARCK escorted by HM Cruisers AURORA, KENYA and

                                HERMIONE. One hit obtained but this ran 'shallow' and did little damage. The

                                failure of the Aircraft Homing Beacon prejudiced landing of aircraft.

                31st         Joined escort for convoy WS8X at Clyde with HM Cruisers NEPTUNE.

                                (Note: HM Cruiser NORFOLK is also recorded in one source.)



                4th          During cover of WS8X carried out series of air searches in Atlantic for German

                                supply ships with HM Battleship NELSON, HM Cruisers NEPTUNE and HERMIONE.

                                Located German ss GOZZENHEIM after report from British ss ESPERANCE BAY.

                                (This ship was intercepted and sunk by HMS NEPTUNE on 5th June).

                5th          Detached from convoy and took passage to Gibraltar escorted by ships of Force H.

                13th        Deployed for delivery of HURRICANE aircraft to Malta with HM Aircraft Carrier

                                ARK ROYAL escorted by HM Battleship RENOWN and ships of Force "H".

                                (Operation TRACER - 45 of the 48 aircraft launched arrived safely).

                18th        Passage to UK after completion of TRACER.

                                (Note:  Prisoners from GOZZENHEIM sere embarked at Gibraltar for passage.)



                6th          Working up exercises for embarked FAA Squadrons in NW Approaches.

                23rd        Deployed with HM Aircraft Carrier FURIOUS and 1st Cruiser Squadron to escort HM

                                Minelaying Cruiser ADVENTURE carrying mines to Murmansk (Operation EF).

                30th        Deployed with HM Cruisers DEVONSHIRE and SUFFOLK screened by 6 destroyers of the

                                Home Fleet as Force P.

                                Carried out air strikes on Kirkenes concurrently with similar attacks by HMS

                                FURIOUS on Petsamo for air attacks after refuelling in Iceland.

                                (Note:  11 ALBACORE and 2 FULMAR aircraft from ship were lost.)



                26th        Covered first convoy to Archangel with HM Cruisers DEVONSHIRE and SUFFOLK screened

                                by HM Destroyers INGLEFIELD, ECLIPSE and ESCAPADE.

                                (Operation DERVISH – See ARCTIC CONVOYS by R Woodman).

                30th        Covered return passage of HM Aircraft Carrier ARGUS after delivering HURRICANE

                                aircraft to Murmansk (Operation STRENGTH).

                                (For details of this and all Russian Convoy operations see CONVOY! by P.Kemp,

                                CONVOYS TO RUSSIA by R. RUEGG and THE RUSSIAN CONVOYS by B Schoefield.)



                3rd          Launched air strikes against targets at Tromso.

                7th          Repeated air strikes operation at Tromso.

                12th        Launched shipping strikes off Bodo and against shore targets in Vestfjord.


October                  Deployed with Home Fleet based in Iceland for interception of German warships.

                                (Note:  The only modern operational carrier available in Home waters).


November              Iceland deployment in continuation.

                5th          Took passage with HM Battleship KING GEORGE V to carry out patrol in the Denmark

                                Strait with US battleships USS IDAHO and USS MISSISSIPPI, cruisers USS WICHITA

                                and TUSCALOOSA to intercept German battleships SCHEER and TIRPITZ.

                                (Note:  This deployment had been made following decryption of an ENIGMA signal

                                giving details of planned movements to carry out attacks on shipping in North Atlantic.

                                See HITLER’S U-BOAT WAR by C Blair.)

                13th        Withdrawn from patrol when German movements cancelled by Hitler.

                                Returned to Reykjavik to resume Home Fleet duties.


December              Home Fleet deployment for interception based in Iceland in continuation.


1 9 4 2


January                  Home Fleet duty in continuation.





                6th          Deployed with HM Battleships KING GEORGE V and DUKE OF YORK, HM Battlecruiser

                                RENOWN, HM Cruisers BERWICK and KENYA to cover passage of Convoys PQ12 and QP8.

                9th          Launched unsuccessful ALBACORE strikes on German battleship TIRPITZ.

                                (Note:  This was the opportunity to bring TIRPITZ to action by air strikes.

                                Two aircraft were lost in these attacks.)

                20th        Deployed to cover passage of Russian Convoy PQ13 and returning QP9 with same battleships

                                as for PQ12 and HM cruisers EDINBURGH and KENT.



                12th        Part of Home Fleet covering force for Russian Convoys PQ14 and returning QP10

                                with HMS KING GEORGE V, HMS DUKE OF YORK, HM Cruisers NIGERIA and KENT.

                28th        Deployed with HMS KING GEORGE V, US Battleship WASHINGTON, HM Cruiser KENYA,

                                US Cruiser TUSCALOOSA, US Cruiser WICHITA cover passage of PQ15 and QP11.

                                (Note:  During this operation on 1st May HMS KING GEORGE V came into collision

                                with HM Destroyer PUNJABI which was sunk and caused major damage to KGV).

                13th        Joined Home Fleet cover for return of HM Cruiser TRINIDAD from Murmansk with

                                HMS DUKE OF YORK, HM Cruisers KENT, LIVERPOOL, LONDON, NIGERIA and NORFOLK.

                14th        Returned to Scapa Flow after HMS TRINIDAD sank.

                25th        Part of Home Fleet covering force for Russian Convoys PQ16 and QP12.

                                This was the largest convoy up to date and ships involved included HMS DUKE OF

                                YORK, USS WASHINGTON, USS WICHITA, HMS LONDON and Home Fleet destroyers.



                30th        Deployed with Home Fleet Distant Covering Force for passage of Russian Convoy

                                PQ17 and returning QP13. US Battleship WASHINGTON, US Destroyer MAYRANT and US

                                Destroyer RHIND joined HMS DUKE OF YORK, HM Cruiser CUMBERLAND and NIGERIA.

                                (See ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by Corelli Barnett and above references)


July                         Returned to Scapa Flow after Convoy QP13 arrived at Reykjavik.

                                Nominated for escort of Malta relief convoy with other Home Fleet ships.



                3rd          Deployed with HM Battleship NELSON, HM Cruisers NIGERIA, KENYA and MANCHESTER

                                for escort of support convoy WS21S on passage to Gibraltar.

                8th          Exercises with HM Aircraft Carriers INDOMITABLE, FURIOUS, EAGLE and ARGUS to

                                improve multi-carrier operating techniques (Exercise BERSERK).

                10th        Joined 'Force Z' covering WS21S to Sicilian Narrows (Operation PEDESTAL).

                12th        During air attacks hit by bomb which broke up on Impact with flight deck. See PEDESTAL by

                                P Smith, MALTA CONVOYS by R Woodman and Naval Staff History.)

                20th        Took passage with Home Fleet ships to Scapa Flow.

                                (Note:  Survivors from HM Aircraft Carrier EAGLE were embarked.)


September             Nominated for refit.

                                Taken in hand for refit.


October                  Under refit.

                                Prototype Aircraft Direction Room fitted.

                                (For details of development and use of radar see RADAR AT SEA by D. Howse).

                                On completion carried out Deck Landing trials at Scapa Flow.


November              Passage to Gibraltar with HM Aircraft Carrier FORMIDABLE.

                8th          Joined Force H and provided air cover during landings (Operation TORCH).

                                (Note:  Air attacks made at Algiers including Fort Duree.

                                Four MARTLET fighters landed on Blida airfield and accepted surrender).

                18th        Passage to UK with HMS DUKE OF YORK and HM Destroyer OPPORTUNE to Scapa Flow.

                21st         During passage ALBACORE aircraft of 817 Squadron attacked U517 by depth charges

                                in position 46.10N 17.08W (WNW Cape Finisterre). Submarine structure was badly

                                damaged. 51 of crew were rescued by HMS OPPORTUNE after having scuttled.


December              Nominated for loan service in Pacific with US Navy

                20th        Passage to Norfolk, Virginia escorted by HM Destroyers QUICKMATCH, RACEHORSE and



1 9 4 3



                1st           Independent passage after destroyers detached.

                                Taken in hand for refit in Norfolk Navy Yard.



                14th        Took passage to Pacific via Panama Canal.


March                    Passage in Pacific.

                4th          On arrival at Pearl Harbour converted for the operation of US Navy WILDCAT and

                                AVENGER aircraft. During this period additional close range armament was fitted including

                                fitting of sponsons outboard of island structure.


April                       Under conversion at Pearl Harbour.



                8th          Carried out exercises with US aircraft carrier USS SARATOGA and US battleship USS

                                NORTH CAROLINA

                                On completion of work-up for service with US Navy took passage to join US Third

                                Fleet Task Group 36.3 for support of US landing operations.


June                        Deployed with TG 36.3 to provide defence against attacks by IJN surface warships

                                during landing operations.


July                         Carried out first cross-carrier operating procedure with USS SARATOGA.


August                  Deployed with USS SARATOGA and TG63-3 to cover landings on New Georgia.

                                (Operation CARTWHEEL).


September             Released from loan duty and took passage to return to UK.

                                Called at San Diego before transit of Panama Canal.


October                  Passage in Atlantic.

                15th        Rejoined Home Fleet.

                                (Note:  During Pacific service, ship's company adopted US Navy working dress.

                                This was introduced into RN use for ships of British Pacific Fleet later

                                in 1944 and became standard No 8 uniform in RN after WW2.

                                Since 1982 No 8 Rig was replaced after review of current requirements

                                and new uniform provided to improve fire protection and maintenance.)


November              Deployed with Home Fleet for interception duties and operations off Norway.


December              Taken in hand for refit in Liverpool at commercial shipyard.


1 9 4 4


January                  Under refit at Liverpool. New radars installed.

to February



                28th        Full Dress Rehearsal with other Home Fleet aircraft carriers for attack on TIRPITZ

                30th        Joined Force 1 to cover Convoy JW58 with HMS DUKE OF YORK and HMS ANSON.



                2nd         In Force 2 (HM Aircraft Carriers FURIOUS, SEARCHER, EMPEROR, PURSUER and

                                FENCER) for attacks on TIRPITZ in Altenfjord, Norway (Operation TUNGSTEN).

                3rd          Launched BARRACUDA strikes on TIRPITZ which was leaving harbour for trials.

                                Three BARRACUDA aircraft were lost due to the intense AA fire but several hits were

                                obtained. Repair of damage took over a month.

                                For full details see CONVOY ! by Paul Kemp.)

                24th        Air strikes on TIRPITZ by Hone Fleet carriers escorted by HMS ANSON abandoned

                                because of weather conditions (Operation PLANET). Shipping strikes in Bodo

                                area instead. Three ships in convoy were sunk for loss of six aircraft.



                15th        Deployed for attacks on TIRPITZ with HMS FURIOUS escorted by HMS ANSON which

                                were cancelled because of cloud cover (Operation BRAWN).

                28th        Shipping strike when further TIRPITZ attack abandoned due to weather over the

                                target (Operation TIGER CLAW).

                30th        Acoustic torpedo (GNAT) attack by U957 failed.


June                        Deployed on shipping attacks off Norway Operation LOMBARD).

                1st           Sank minesweeper and merchant ship sunk.

                12th        Sailed for Ceylon via Mediterranean with HM Aircraft Carrier INDOMITABLE


July                         Arrived at Colombo and joined Eastern Fleet.

                6th          Prepared for operations in Indian Ocean.

                25th        Launched attacks on airfields near Sabang, Sumatra with HM Aircraft Carrier

                                ILLUSTRIOUS escorted by HM Cruiser PHOEBE (Operation CRIMSON).



                23rd        Covered Eastern Fleet units providing air-sea rescue facilities during series

                                of attacks by US Army aircraft on Sumatra (Operations BOOMERANG).

                29th        Carried out air strikes on Padang, Indaroeng and Emmahaven with HMS ILLUSTRIOUS

                                and HMS INDOMITABLE escorted by HMS HOWE and Eastern Fleet units.

                                (Operation BANQUET).



                18th        Deployed with HMS INDOMITABLE for attacks on railway yards at Sigli, Sumatra

                                and photo-reconnaissance of Nicobars escorted by HMS HOWE (Operation LIGHT).

                                (Note:  Aircraft made inadvertent attack on HM Submarine SPIRIT fortunately without

                                causing any casualties. During this operations steering problems were experienced).

                30th        Docked at Bombay for repair.



                6th          Rejoined Eastern Fleet on completion of repair work.

                17th        Attacks on Nicobars and Nancowry harbour with HMS INDOMITABLE escorted by H M

                                Battlecruiser RENOWN. Four aircraft destroyed and five damaged during enemy air

                                attacks. Further steering problems arose (Operation MILLET).


November              Arrangements made for repair after HM Aircraft Carrier ILLUSTRIOUS arrived.

                16th        Under repair to steering gear at Bombay.

                22nd       Transferred to British Pacific Fleet on formation.


December              Resumed operation duties

                                (Note:  Not available for air strikes on oil refineries at Pangkalang by Eastern

                                Fleet aircraft carriers. (Operation ROBSON).


1 9 4 5



                4th          Joined HMS INDOMITABLE and HMS IMPLACABLE for air strikes on oil refineries

                                at Pangkalan Brandan covered by Eastern Fleet TF 63 (Operation LENTIL).

                16th        With British Pacific Fleet ships as TF63 to attack refineries in Sumatra.

                24th        Launched air attacks on Pladjoe, with HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, HMS INDOMITABLE and

                                HMS VICTORIOUS during passage to Australia. Mana, SW Sumatra attacked in

                                second strike. Little opposition from enemy aircraft (Operation MERIDIAN I).

                29th        Unsuccessful attacks on oil installations at Soengi-Gerong with damage to several aircraft.

                                Retaliatory KAMIKAZE attacks beaten off. Losses by all Carriers - 16 aircraft in action and

                                25 lost by ditching or when deck landing. 9 pilots captured by the Japanese were executed

                                in April 1945 (Operation MERIDIAN II).



                10th        Transferred to Task Force 113 at Sydney to prepare for service with US Navy.

                28th        Sailed from Sydney for Manus with HMS KING GEORGE V and rest of TF113



                25th        Arrived at Ulithi and joined 5th US Fleet as Task Force 57.

                26th        Deployed to neutralise airfields in Sakashima Gunto Group (Operation ICEBERG I.)

                                Air attacks with HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, HMS INDEFATIGABLE and HMS INDOMITABLE.



                1st           Escaped damage during KAMIKAZE attack when aircraft exploded alongside.

                                Aircraft from HMS INDEFATIGABLE landed on when own Flight Deck damaged.

                9th          Detached with TF57 ships for attacks on Formosan airfields. (Operation ICEBERG OOLONG).

                12th        Launched attacks on Formosa with same Carriers with little opposition.

                16th        Returned to operations off Sakishima Gunto group with BPF aircraft carriers.

                                (HMS FORMIDABLE, HMS INDEFATIGABLE and HMS INDOMITABLE.

                                Attacked targets at Ishigaki and Mikayo with refuelling breaks until 20/4/45.)



                1st           Sailed with TF57 to join US TF58 off Sakishima Group. (Operation ICEBERG II)

                4th          Concentrated KAMIKAZE attacks and 7 destroyed but 3 hit selected targets. One

                                exploded on island structure causing fires and damage to boiler steam piping.

                                Speed reduced to 19 knots. Air operations resumed after 8 hours.

                9th          Launched air strikes on Hirara and Ishigaki. Hit twice in unexpected KAMIKAZE

                                attacks. The first damaged the Flight Deck and equipment but second failed to

                                explode. 3 killed and 19 of ship's company injured.

                                Capability reduced due to damaged forward lift but remained operational.

                17th        Twenty aircraft transferred temporarily to other carriers after damage to flight

                                deck by crashes on landing. Jury barriers rigged and aircraft returned. Ship remained operational.

                25th        Left operational area.



                5th          Arrived Sydney for repair and Rest and Recuperation.

                16th        Transferred with HMS FORMIDABLE and HMS IMPLACABLE to TF37 (US 3rd Fleet)

                                for joint operations with TF38 on Japan in Yokohama - Tokyo area.

                                (Note:  This due to a reorganisation of naval command structure by US Navy.)

                28th        Sailed from Sydney with ships of TF57 for Manus.



                6th          Sailed from British forward base at Manus for operations off Japan.

                16th        Joined US Third Fleet ships 300 miles east of Japan.

                17th        Aircraft carried cut strikes on airfields in Tokyo area.

                18th        Air operations restricted by contamination in carrier petrol refuelling supply system.

                24th        During air strikes on Osaka sank IJN KOBE Class escort carrier in Shido Bay.



                9th          Attacked airfields and shipping in North Honshu and Hokkaido.

                12th        Returned to Manus with TF37 and then took passage to Sydney.

                                (Note:  Withdrawal of British Pacific Fleet from operational area was due to the

                                lack of fuel from British sources. Only a Token force remained as part

                                of US Third Fleet. Sources report steering and machinery problems during

                                service prior to deployment in Pacific continued.)

                                For details of all operations by BPF in Pacific see THE FORGOTTEN FLEET

                                by J Winton, TASK FORCE 57 by Peter C Smith and Naval Staff History.)

                31st         Ships company took part in Victory Parade at Sydney.


P o s t   W a r   N o t e s



HMS VICTORIOUS sailed for UK from Australia in September 1945 and arrived on 27th October .She was then deployed  on trooping duties to collect servicemen from Far East. In October 1947 after her third trip she was reduced to Reserve status and part of the Training Squadron, Home Fleet in 1948. The ship was extensively reconstructed and modernised and in dockyard hands between 1950 and 1957. Her radar fit was extensively altered to include new design equipment (see photographs. After recommissioning on 14th January 1958 she remained in  Fleet service until 1967 and took part in Operation  VANTAGE in support of Kuwait in 1961. Although intended to refit for further service in 1967 this had  to be cancelled after a serious fire in November that year which made further refit work uneconomic. The ship was then reduced to Reserve status once again and placed on the Disposal List  in 1969. She was sold later that year to British Shipbreakers and towed to Faslane for demolition arriving there on 13th July 1969. During service she had been deployed in most parts of the world and had rendered outstanding service in peace and war.








Convoy Escort Movements of HMS  VICTORIOUS

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 008X










PQ 012





PQ 013





QP 009





PQ 014





QP 010





PQ 015





QP 011





PQ 016





QP 012





PQ 017





QP 013





WS 021S




(Note on Convoys)


In US Navy service in 1943 as "USS ROBIN"


see - USS Robin - The Victorious U.S. Carrier that Didn't Exist


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