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  HMS Hermes (95)
Royal Navy
Aircraft carrier

10,850 Tons (standard)
13,700 (deep load)
600' x 70' 3" x 23' 3"
6 x 5.5" guns
3 x 4" AA guns
20 Aircraft


IJN April 9, 1942
Ship History
Built by Sir W G Armstrong Whitworth & Co Ltd (Armstrong Whitworth) shipyard at Walker on the River Tyne in the United Kingdom. Ordered April 1917 based on a cruiser hull as the first warship designed aircraft carrier. Laid down January 15, 1918. Launched September 11, 1919 as HMS Hermes (95) sponsored by Mrs. A. Cooper, daughter of the First Lord of the Admiralty, Walter Long. Afterwards, completion was suspended as the Royal Navy awaited flight trials aboard Eagle and Argus.

Afterwards, Hermes was modified in March 1920 with the island at the starboard and forward catapult removed plus a tripod for fire control. In May 1921 more revisions were made as a result of sea trials from Eagle and Argus with the lifts moved further apart and anti-aircraft guns reduced and bow flared into the bow. In February 1923 began sea trials. Commissioned February 18, 1924 in the Royal Navy (RN) and assigned to the Atlantic Fleet and for several months conducted flight trials with Fairey IIID reconnaissance biplanes.

Wartime History
On November 19, 1941 arrived Simon's Town (Simonstown) in South Africa for a refit. On January 31, 1942 assigned to the Eastern Fleet and departed for the Indian Ocean. On February 14, 1942 arrives Colombo on Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and departs five days later to receive Swordfish from No. 814 Squadron and rendezvous with the destroyer HMAS Vampire to conduct an anti-submarine patrol. On February 25, 1942 arrives Trincomalee where her squadron of Swordfish are disembarked.

During the middle of March 1942 departs bound for Fremantle but after three days recalled and assigned to Force B of the Eastern Fleet. On April 5, 1942 after the Japanese air raid on Colombo, Hermes and HMAS Vampire depart for Trincomalee and her Swordfish are sent ashore to stage for Operation Ironclad the invasion of Madagascar.

Sinking History
On April 9, 1942 departs Trincomalee, with advance warning of the Japanese air raid escorted by HMAS Vampire (D68) steaming southward along the coast of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and were roughly 66 miles away when the air raid commenced. At 9:00am the pair were spotted off Batticaloa by Japanese reconnaissance plane from battleship Haruna and reversed course for Trincomalee to reach protective air cover.

Meanwhile, the Japanese launched 85 D3A Val dive bombers escorted by nine Mitsubishi A6M Zeros. At 10:35am the dive bombers commenced attacks from the stern and claim 40 bomb hits. Before noon, sunk off Batticaloa at roughly Lat 7° 35′ 28.392″ N Long 82° 5′ 55.089″ E. The attack and sinking results in the loss of 307 crew including Captain Onslow. Also sunk ten minutes later HMAS Vampire.

During the attack, six Fairey Fulmar II fighters of No. 273 Squadron RAF arrive to intercept the Japanese planes. After both warships were sunk another six Fulmars from 803 Squadron and 806 Squadron arrive and the other Japanese planes attack and sink other ships to the north.

Rescue
Afterwards, 600 surviving crew were rescued by hospital ship Vita.

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Last Updated
April 9, 2021

 

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