RULER Class Escort Aircraft Carrier obtained under US/UK Lend
Lease Agreement. A mercantile which
was under construction by
Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corporation at Seattle and was
US Navy for completion as an
auxiliary aircraft carrier (CVE) to be named USS BOLINAS (CVE 36). This
ship replaced an earlier
selection for transfer but which had been retained by the US Navy as USS NATOMA
BAY. In replacement the hull of
another C3 mercantile laid down on 3rd August
and launched on 11th November that year was arranged. Her build was completed
on 23rd July 1943 and she transferred to the RN
as HMS BEGUM on 2nd August 1943. The name had not previously been used for an RN ship. She was
with US Navy radar outfits during
build and intended to be used as an Escort Aircraft Carrier. (Note: The name CHASTISER was
provisionally allocated for use on transfer to the RN but not used.)
B a t t
l e H o n o u r
EAST INDIES 1944
H e r a l d i c
D a t a
Badge: On a Field Blue. a Cobra poised ready to strike.
M o t t
'Rise and strike'
D e t a
i l s o f
W a r S e r v i c e
(for more ship information,
Naval History Homepage
and type name in Site Search
1 9 4 3
August Contractors trials.
3rd Commissioned for
RN service as HMS BEGUM.
completion of Acceptance trials taken In hand at HM Canadian Dockyard, Esquimalt
modifications to suit RN deployment as an Escort
22nd Dockyard work completed.
December Passage to
1 9 4
4th Transit of
9th Sailed from New York
(Note: 24 CORSAIR aircraft embarked for transport to
destined for 1837 and 1838 Squadrons. - see Addenda)
Passage to Clyde
1st On arrival, disembarked CORSAIR
Taken in hand by
shipyard for completion of conversion work.
(Note: Modification of Petrol distribution system to be
for service In Eastern Fleet based at Trincomalee.
24 BARRACUDA aircraft for transport to
Ceylon destined for 815 and
Squadrons together with 20 HELLCAT aircraft destined for 1839 and 1844
and four WILDCAT aircraft destined for 832 Squadron
3rd Took passage from
Clyde with HM Escort Aircraft
Carriers ATHELING and SHAH to
(Note: One source records that ATHELING and SHAH sailed with
17th KMF29A arrived at
2nd Joined Eastern Fleet.
26th Disembarked aircraft in Colombo
(Note: Length of time on passage suggests ship may have
exercised and worked-up in
May Deployed for work-up with Eastern Fleet.
(Note: Pennant Number for visual
signalling use whilst operating with ships of US Navy
changed to R305 from D38 and was painted on
ships hull structure.)
for convoy defence in
(Note: Following an increase of mercantile losses in
Indian Ocean by submarines
the availability of CVE enabled CinC
to form two Hurting Groups to provide
extensive air cover operations with adequate support by
and sloops for surface attacks. See WAR WITH
Prepared for anti-submarine operations.
Squadron embarked with AVENGER/WILDCAT aircraft.
to Anti-submarine patrol duties in
with HM Escort Aircraft Carrier SHAH, HM Frigates TAFF, FINDHORN,
NADDER, INVER, LOSSIE and PARRET as Force 66 for anti-submarine
(Note: See WAR WITH
JAPAN (HMSO) and THE FORGOTTEN
FLEET by J Winton.).
6th Carried out search operations In conjunction with aircraft in Chagos
10th Patrol aircraft from ship sighted
submarine In position 4.103 49.50E.
attack was unsuccessful.
11th Redeployed with HMS SHAH and took
passage to area in east of Chagos.
12th Anti-submarine searches carried out in
(Note: Aircraft from HMS SHAH sighted and attacked U198.
Surface attacks were carried out by HM Indian Sloop GODAVARI and HM Frigate
U198 was sunk by
HM Frigate FINDHORN in position 03.45S 52.38E with no
survivors. See U-BOATS DESTROYED by P Kemp.
This was the
only U-Boat sinking by the Eastern Fleet Hunting Groups.)
deployment in continuation.
(Note: German submarines were also known to be operating in
October Deployed with ships
of Force 66 and RAF aircraft for anti-submarine operations in
Bengal. Two Japanese submarine were known to active.
28th Defect in catapult delayed arrival of
ship's aircraft to carry out attacks on a submarine
sighted by RAF aircraft which had to return to base.
searches by Force 66 failed.
November Bay of Bengal deployment with
Force 66 in continuation.
14th Search operations terminated and ship
returned to harbour.
23rd Transferred to
East Indies Fleet when British Pacific Fleet was formed.
Joined 1st Aircraft Carrier Division with HM Escort Carriers
EMPRESS and SHAH.
(Note: Eastern Fleet was disbanded and East Indies Fleet
formed of ships which were to be
Indian Ocean based at Trincomalee. See WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO)
and Naval Staff History.)
anti-submarine operations with Force 66.
3rd Despatched with six frigates of Force
66 to carry out air searches following an
an RAF LIBERATOR aircraft.
4th Arrived in area but search failed.
Deployed for further anti-submarine operations in
6th Catapult defect prevented air
operations but ship remained with Force to conduct
search for shipping.
11th Arrived at Vizagapatam after continuous searches by
16th Resumed anti
submarine operations in Bay of Bengal.
22nd Returned to Colombo.
1 9 4 5
for use as the Deck Landing Training Carrier for Eastern Fleet after
UK and used for transport of
aircraft to BPF.
16th Sailed for the
passage in Mediterranean.
20th Entered a Clyde yard for refit and
conversion to suit use as a ferry carrier.
VENGEANCE and SEA OTTER aircraft for use in BPF by 721 and 1701
17th Sailed from the
Clyde as part of
Convoy KMF43 to Gibraltar.
23rd Detached from KMF43 on arrival and made
5th Arrived in
(Note: Pennant Number R305 was allocated for visual
signalling purposes to
conform with US Navy identity for warships of this type.)
15th Arrived at Manus
with replacement aircraft for the fleet carriers.
Took passage from Manus to Trincomalee.
July Nominated for
support of landings in Malaya as Reserve Carrier (Operation ZIPPER).
2nd Arrived in Trincomalee and deployment as deck landing training
carrier in the Ceylon area.
August Sailed from
Trincomalee for ZIPPER
4th Grounded on passage to ZIPPER and withdrawn.
Some fuel leaks were evident due to hull damage.
BRITISH INVASION FLEETS by J de Winser..
independent return passage to Trincomalee for repair.
P o s t W a r N o t e s
(based partly on
HMS BEGUM was given temporary repair when a dock
became available and permanent repair arranged in Bombay. On completion of
repair at Bombay took passage to Greenock 24th October 1945. The ship
arrived at Greenock on 10th November and the majority of ships company and all aircraft
with personnel left the ship. All RN equipment removed before leaving
Clyde. Manned only with a steaming party she went
to Southampton to embark US troops for passage to
Norfolk, Virginia, leaving on 13th
December.. During Atlantic passage in heavy weather the forward part of the
Flight Deck came adrift. Ships staff were able to carry out repair to enable
passage to be continued and she arrived on 25th December. This CVE was Paid-off
and was handed back to the US Navy on 5th January 1946. Sold for use as a
mercantile in 1948 she was renamed ss RAKI. After resale in 1966 she became ss I
YUNG until sold for demolition by a Taiwanese shipbreaker at Kaohsing in March
CONVOY ESCORT MOVEMENTS of
by Don Kindell
These convoy lists have not been
cross-checked with the text above
Date convoy sailed
Joined convoy as escort
Date convoy arrived
(Note on Convoys)
CONVOY UT.7 in JANUARY 1944
from Mark Mudge
"HMS BEGUM sailed from New York on 18 Jan !944 as part of Convoy UT.7, having
onboard 36 Corsair and 24 Avenger aircraft, 68 tons of stores and 194 service
and 45 civilian passengers. The Atlantic crossing was without incident and was
made in good time. Split from convoy off Oversay Island, Scotland on 28 January
and anchored in Liverpool Bay on 29 Jan 1944. Disembarked passengers, stores and
36 aircraft during the weekend. Sailed for the Clyde on 31 Jan 1944 and
anchored in Rothesay Bay on 1 February." (From National Archives) HMS Trumpeter
was also in this convoy.
HMS BEGUM, MARCH-APRIL 1944 and NAVAL AIRMAN STANLEY RAWLINGS
by Paul Thompson (23/03/10)
My Great uncle Stanley Clifford Rawlings
joined Begum as a Naval rating (2nd Class) as part of 1844 squadron in Belfast
and during the journey he kept a journal. This contains some dates which will
help identify where the ship was during the passage. According to the Journal,
the ship did not stay in the Mediterranean, but sailed straight through to the
Red Sea and made an earlier stop at Colombo before going on to Madras. -
Link to his Diary (large file)
The summary is as below:
By 19th March 1944
in Port Taufiq (Suez)
Sailed into Red Sea
Arrived at Port Avon
Left Port Avon (submarine alert)
Left Red Sea
Entered Indian Ocean
Arrived in Colombo, Ceylon
Entered Madras Harbour
At this point, I assume the ship sails back to Colombo, which is
where your history picks it up again. Stanley did not return to the ship and his
diary does not say where he went on to when he disembarked. His Naval record
says that on February 26th 1944, he was assigned to HMS Garuda; an RN Aircraft
Repair yard at Coimbatore, India, before returning to Ceylon in June 1944.
Sadly, he suffered a cerebral abscess and, while attached to HMS DAEDALUS, died in Oxford Military hospital on
June 25th, 1945 so I never knew him. I was not born for another 20 years.
RUNNING AGROUND in AUGUST 1945, and HER LAST MONTHS
as told to Mark Chandler by Arthur Batty
close friend of mine, ex-AB Arthur Batty, (right, as an Ordinary Seaman, HMS
Raleigh in October 1942) D/JX 368714, Torpedoman, spent his entire
naval service aboard HMS BEGUM and noted that you wished confirmation that she
ran aground on 4th August 1945. To the best he can recall:
"From Manus, BEGUM took passage to Sydney. Leaving
there, we steamed back to Trincomalee, the intention being that we would be part
of a Force going to Singapore. Proceeding out of Trinco, we somehow made contact
with some submerged rocks and this gashed the hull rather badly. Singapore was
now out of the question and we lay offshore, leaking oil. Eventually, we got
back into Trinco, where we were forced to wait while a dock became available for
repairs to be effected. In the event, we sailed for Bombay where repairs were
eventually carried out.
"From Bombay, we took passage for Greenock and
home! Later, with just a steaming crew, including myself, aboard, we went down
to Southampton and embarked many US troops for their journey home. Then, on 13th
December 1945, we set sail for Norfolk, Virginia. During this voyage, north of
the Azores, we encountered the worst Atlantic storm for some time. The continual
pounding of the seas, as we dipped into troughs, eventually caused the forward
part of the flight deck to come adrift and start to bend backwards! The call
went out for a welder and an American soldier stepped forward. This gentleman,
with a little help from Jack, made good temporary repairs and we arrived at
Norfolk on 25th December 1945 without further incident. HMS BEGUM then paid off,
and, with not a little sadness, I said goodbye to her forever. She was a Happy
Arthur is now 85 (2008) and appreciates that memory
can play tricks! He does hope that the foregoing may be of some help and is
correct to the best of his knowledge. (All photographs are courtesy of