Allied Warships

HMS Pursuer (D 73)

Escort Carrier of the Attacker class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeEscort Carrier
ClassAttacker 
PennantD 73 
Built byIngalls Shipbuilding Corp. (Pascagoula, Mississippi, U.S.A.) 
Ordered 
Laid down31 Jul 1941 
Launched18 Jul 1942 
Commissioned14 Jun 1943 
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 in May 1946.

 
Former nameUSS St. George

Commands listed for HMS Pursuer (D 73)

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CommanderFromTo
1A/Capt. Harry Robert Graham, DSO, DSC, RN15 Mar 194320 Mar 1945
2Capt. Thomas Leslie Bratt, DSC, RN20 Mar 194512 Feb 1946

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Notable events involving Pursuer include:


30 Mar 1944

Operation Tungsten

Air attacks by the FAA against the German battleship Tirpitz

Around 1200A/30, ' Force 1 ', departed Scapa Flow. It was made up of the battleships HMS Duke of York (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Admiral B.A. Fraser, GCB, KBE, RN), HMS Anson (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO and Bar, RN flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.R. Moore, KCB, DSO, CVO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN), light cruiser HMS Belfast (Capt. F.R. Parham, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Onslaught (Cdr. the Hon. A. Pleydell-Bouverie, RN), HMS Javelin (Lt.Cdr. P.B.N. Lewis, DSC, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski), HMCS Algonquin (Lt.Cdr. D.W. Piers, DSC, RCN) and HMCS Sioux (A/Lt.Cdr. E.E.G. Boak, RCN).

Ships of ' Force 1 ' was first to provide cover for Convoy JW 58 for part of it's passage to Northern Russia.

Around 1900A/30, ' Force 2 ' departed Scapa Flow. It was made up of the light cruisers HMS Royalist (Capt. M.H. Evelegh, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.la T. Bisset, RN), HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.T. Addis, DSO, RN), HMS Jamaica (Capt. J. Hugh-Hallett, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. G.T. Philip, DSO, DSC, RN), escort carriers HMS Searcher (Capt. G.O.C. Davies, RN), HMS Pursuer (A/Capt. H.R. Graham, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Fencer (A/Capt. W.W.R. Bentinck, OBE, RN), HMS Emperor (A/Capt. T.J.N. Hilken, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Swift (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Gower, RN), HMS Verulam (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, DSC, RN), HMS Vigilant (Lt.Cdr. L.W.L. Argles, RN), HMS Virago (Lt.Cdr. A.J.R. White, RN) and HMS Wakeful (Lt.Cdr. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN).

The RFA oilers Black Ranger (3417 GRT, built 1941) and Blue Ranger (3417 GRT, built 1941) were also with ' Force 2 '.

Around 0250A/31, the destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, DSO, RN), HMS Marne (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), HMS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Mackenzie, RD, RNR) and HMS Ursa (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, DSC, RN) joined ' Force 1 ' coming from Skaalefjord, Faeroer Islands.

Around 0340A/31, the original destroyer screen of ' Force 1 ' was detached to Skaalefjord arriving there later the same day.

On 2 April ' Force 1 ' fuelled its destroyers (by the battleships) and proceeded to join ' Force 2 ' coming from Scapa Flow for the upcoming Operation Tungsten. Rendezvous was effected around 1600A/2.

Some regrouping was done and the battleship HMS Duke of York and the destroyers HMS Marne and HMS Matchless parted company to proceed to position 74°00'N, 12°30'E from where they were to provide cover for the operation.

' Force 1 ' was now made up of HMS Anson, HMS Victorious, HMS Furious, HMS Belfast, HMS Jamaica, HMS Milne, HMS Meteor, HMS Swift, HMS Ursa, HMS Undaunted and HMS Virago. This force proceeded to the flying off position for Operation Tungsten which was in approximately 71°30'N, 19°00'E.

' Force 2 ' was now made up of HMS Royalist, HMS Sheffield, HMS Searcher, HMS Pursuer, HMS Fencer, HMS Emperor, HMS Onslaught, HMS Verulam, HMS Vigilant, HMS Wakeful, HMCS Algonquin and HMS Sioux.

And there was also ' Force 7 ' the oiling force made up of the RFA oilers Black Ranger, Blue Ranger escorted by ORP Piorun and HMS Javelin.

In the morning of 3 April, HMS Victorious and HMS Furious launched air strikes against the German battleship Tirpitz in the Altafjord. In two strikes the German battleship was hit by a total of 15 bombs. In total 123 of the crew of the Tirpitz were killed and 329 were wounded for the loss of only four British aircraft.

Course was then set by all units to return to Scapa Flow.

Around 1400A/3, the escort carrier HMS Searcher, which had developed engine trouble, parted company with ' Force 2 '. She was given an escort, made up of the the light cruiser HMS Jamaica and the destroyers HMS Virago and HMS Wakeful.

On 4 April the destroyer HMS Ulysses (Lt.Cdr. R.J. Hanson, DSO, DSC, RN) departed Scapa Flow to join ' Force 7 ', the oiling force as additional escort.

HMS Duke of York, HMS Marne and HMS Matchless arrived around 0915A/5.

' Force 1 ' and ' Force 2 ' arrived around 1600A/6.

Around 0115A/7, HMS Searcher, HMS Jamaica, HMS Virago and HMS Wakeful arrived at Scapa Flow.

Around 0330A/7, the fuelling force arrived at Scapa Flow. (1)

13 Apr 1944

Operation Pitchbowl.

The object of this operation was to provide fighter protection to RAF Beaufighters operating in two strikes against shipping in the Norwegian Leads.

The light cruiser HMS Royalist (Capt. M.H. Evelegh, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.la T. Bisset, RN), HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.T. Addis, DSO, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Berwick (Capt. N.V. Grace, RN), escort carriers HMS Emperor (A/Capt. T.J.N. Hilken, DSO, RN), HMS Fencer (A/Capt. W.W.R. Bentinck, OBE, RN), HMS Pursuer (A/Capt. H.R. Graham, DSO, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Marne (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), HMS Musketeer (Cdr. R.L. Fisher, OBE, DSC, RN), HMS Onslaught (Cdr. the Hon. A. Pleydell-Bouverie, RN), HMCS Sioux (A/Lt.Cdr. E.E.G. Boak, RCN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski) left Scapa Flow to proceed to the flying off position in 62°00'N, 02°30'E.

Visibility was poor throughout the day and no flying was possible. On the following day, the first RAF strike was postponed owing to bad weather conditions and the force reversed its course.

In the afternoon of the 14th there was no improvement in the weather and the second RAF strike was also cancelled. The following day was the weather was the same and the operation was now abandoned. The force then returned to Scapa Flow arriving in the afternoon of the 15th. (2)

21 Apr 1944

Operations Planet, Ridge and Veritas.

On 21 April 1944, two forces departed Scapa Flow for operations off Norway, these were divided in two groups;

Force 7 was made up of the battleship HMS Anson (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.R. Moore, KCB, DSO, CVO, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN), HMS Furious (Capt. G.T. Philip, DSO, DSC, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Kent (Capt. G.A.B. Hawkins, DSC, MVO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kempenfelt (Capt. M.L. Power, OBE, RN), HMS Venus (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson DSO, RN), HMS Vigilant (Lt.Cdr. L.W.L. Argles, RN), HMCS Algonquin (Lt.Cdr. D.W. Piers, DSC, RCN), HMCS Sioux (A/Lt.Cdr. E.E.G. Boak, RCN), HMS Swift (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Gower, RN) and HMS Kelvin (Lt.Cdr. R.M.W. MacFarlan, RN).

Force 8 was made up of the light cruisers HMS Royalist (Capt. M.H. Evelegh, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.la T. Bisset, RN), HMS Jamaica (Capt. J. Hugh-Hallett, DSO, RN), escort carriers HMS Emperor (A/Capt. T.J.N. Hilken, DSO, RN), HMS Pursuer (A/Capt. H.R. Graham, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Searcher (Capt. G.O.C. Davies, RN), HMS Striker (Capt. W.P. Carne, RN) and the destroyers HMS Serapis (Capt. P.G.L. Cazalet, DSC, RN), HMS Ursa (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, DSC, RN), HMS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Mackenzie, RD, RNR), HMS Wakeful (Lt.Cdr. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN), HMS Wizard (Lt.Cdr. D.T. McBarnet, DSC, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski) and HMS Javelin (Lt.Cdr. P.B.N. Lewis, DSC, RN).

Operation Planet

The target date for this operation was 24 April 1944. When the forces arrived in the operations area on 23 April the weather forecasts were unsuitable and they reversed course for 24 hours but the weather to following day was equally bad. Both forces proceeded to the flying off position but there was no improvement in the weather so Vice-Admiral Moore decided to cancel the operation. Both forces then proceeded as for Operation Ridge.

In the meantime the destroyers HMS Javelin and HMS Kelvin had been detached to fuel at the Faroes where they arrived on the 24th. After fuelling they were instructed to wait there for further orders.

Operation Ridge.

Operation Ridge was originally intended to be carried out in two parts; 'Ridge Able' was to be an attack on shipping in the Bodo area by Force 7 and 'Ridge Baker' was to be an attack on shipping in the Rorvik area by Force 8.

In the event it was decided that both forces were to carry out 'Ridge Able' in two stikes, one attacking Bodo harbour and the other sweeping the leads to the southward.

The two forces arrived at the flying off position at dawn on 26 April 1944. Weather conditions were not ideal and were worse inshore and in the end both strikes attacked the same target - an escorted convoy of 4 or 5 merchant ships in approximate position 67°06'N, 13°57'E at about 0600 hours. The convoy was southbound, presumebly having left Bodo about one hour previously. Four merchant ships and one escort vessel were claimed to have been hit with bombs. The largest merchant ship was reported beached and burning. Two other were also seen to be on fire.

[The convoy attacked was en-route from Narvik to Germany with iron oreand was made up of four merchant vessels; Eugenio C. (4094 GRT, built 1928), Itauri (6838 GRT, built 1923), Leena (1079 GRT, built 1905) and Lotte Leonhardt (4167 GRT, built 1937). It was being escorted by the patrol vessels V 5905 / Varanger and V 5906 / Nordpol. The Eugenio C., Itauri and Lotte Leonhardt were sunk while the V 5905 was damaged.]

Besides the attack on the convoy two Barracudas and several fighters attacked Bodo harbour in spite of the weather. One hit was claimed on a large merchant ship. Two other Barracudas attacked a derelict merchant vessel that was ashore. They obtained at least one hit.

One Barracuda, two Corsairs, one Hellcat and one Wildcat were lost during the attacks. Another Hellcat crashed while landing on HMS Emperor.

At 0730/26, HMS Victorious, HMS Kent and two destroyers (HMS Venus and HMS Vigilant) parted company to conduct operation 'Veritas' (see below). The remainder of Forces 7 and 8 set course to return to Scapa Flow where they arrived on the 28th. HMS Javelin and HMS Kelvin also returned with them having joined Force 8 on the 27th having departed the Faroes on the 26th.

Operation Veritas.

On leaving Force 7, the 'Victorious'-Force proceeed to the flying off position (69°31'N, 12°50'E). Reconnaissance flights were to be carried out for a possible future amphibious assault on Narvik. The flying off position was reached at 1620/26 and six Corsairs with long range fuel tanks were launched for the operation.

The aircraft returned to HMS Victorious almost two hours later. One Corsair had machine gunned a tanker on the way back starting a small fire amidships. All aircraft landed safely despite the difficult conditions due to the weather. (1)

8 Nov 1944

Operations Counterblast and Steak, first attempt, aborted.

Operation Counterblast.

The object of this operation was the destruction of shipping off the south west coast of Norway.

On 8 November 1944, the heavy cruiser HMS Kent (Capt. G.A.B. Hawkins, DSC, MVO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.R. McGrigor, CB, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Bellona (Capt. C.F.W. Norris, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Myngs (Capt. M.L. Power, CBE, RN), HMS Zambesi (Lt.Cdr. W. Scott, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Verulam ( Lt.Cdr. M Thornton, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMCS Algonquin (Lt.Cdr. D.W. Piers, DSC, RCN) departed Scapa Flow around 1800A/8.

Operation Steak.

This operation had two objectives;
1) To provide fighter cover for operation Counterblast.

2) To carry out an air attacks by fighter aircraft on shipping in the Vingvaagen anchorage or sweep off the Leads to the westward.

On 9 November 1944, the escort carrier HMS Pursuer (A/Capt. H.R. Graham, DSO, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Euryalus (Capt. R. Oliver-Bellesis, RN) and the destroyers HMS Caesar (Capt. G.N. Brewer, DSO, RN), HMS Zephyr (Lt.Cdr. J.F.D. Bush, DSC and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Venus (Cdr. H.G.D. De Chair, DSC with Bar, RN) and HMS Nubian (Lt.Cdr. T.A. Pack-Beresford, RN) departed Scapa Flow around 0900A/9.

Weather conditions were found to be unsuitable and the operations were cancelled / postponed and both forces returned to Scapa Flow arriving late in the afternoon of the 9th. (3)

11 Nov 1944

Operations Counterblast and Steak, second, successful, attempt.

Operation Counterblast.

The object of this operation was the destruction of shipping off the south west coast of Norway.

Around 2100A/11, the heavy cruiser HMS Kent (Capt. G.A.B. Hawkins, DSC, MVO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.R. McGrigor, CB, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Bellona (Capt. C.F.W. Norris, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Myngs (Capt. M.L. Power, CBE, RN), HMS Zambesi (Lt.Cdr. W. Scott, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Verulam ( Lt.Cdr. M Thornton, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMCS Algonquin (Lt.Cdr. D.W. Piers, DSC, RCN) departed Scapa Flow.

Operation Steak.

This operation had two objectives;
1) To provide fighter cover for operation Counterblast.

2) To carry out an air attacks by fighter aircraft on shipping in the Vingvaagen anchorage or sweep off the Leads to the westward.

Around 0800A/12, the escort carrier HMS Pursuer (A/Capt. H.R. Graham, DSO, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Euryalus (Capt. R. Oliver-Bellesis, RN) and the destroyers HMS Caesar (Capt. G.N. Brewer, DSO, RN), HMS Zephyr (Lt.Cdr. J.F.D. Bush, DSC and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Venus (Cdr. H.G.D. De Chair, DSC with Bar, RN) and HMS Nubian (Lt.Cdr. T.A. Pack-Beresford, RN) departed Scapa Flow.

During operations Counterblast / Steak the German convoy KS-357-ST was attacked near the Lister Fjord (south-east of Egersund). Out of four merchant vessels in the convoy the Greif (996 GRT, built 1923) and Cornouaille (former Belgian, 3303 GRT, built 1928) were sunk. From the six escorts five were sunk. These were minesweepers M 416, M 427, and the submarine chasers UJ 1221, UJ 1223 and UJ 1713. Also a German radar station was destroyed by the aircraft of HMS Pursuer.

All ships returned to Scapa Flow in the morning of November 16th except for HMS Euryalus which had parted company with her force at 1600A/15 and then set course for Rosyth where she also arrived in the morning of the 16th. At Rosyth she was then taken in hand by the dockyard. (3)

22 Nov 1944

Operation Provident.

The object of this operation was to achieve any of the following objectives;
a) Bomb and destroyer U-boat depot ships,
b) Mining of Stoff, Meloysund or Ramsoyund,
c) A fighter attack on Bardenfoss airfield,
d) Bombing of the ferry service between Banaasjoen and Rorvik,
e) Attack shipping along the coast between Lodingen and Rorvik.

Forces Taking Part:

Around 1600A/22, two forces departed Scapa Flow for operation Provident. These were;
Force 7: made up of the aircraft carrier Implacable (Capt. C.C. Hughes-Hallett, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.R. Moore, KCB, CVO, DSO, RN, Commander-in-Chief Home Fleet), light cruiser HMS Dido (Capt. R.F. Elkins, OBE, RN), destroyers HMS Myngs (Capt. P.G.L. Cazalet, DSC, RN), HMS Scorpion (Cdr. C.W. McMullen, DSC, RN), HMS Scourge (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN), HMCS Algonquin (Lt.Cdr. D.W. Piers, DSC, RCN), HMCS Sioux (A/Lt.Cdr. E.E.G. Boak, RCN) and HMS Zephyr (Lt.Cdr. J.F.D. Bush, DSC and 2 Bars, RN).

And Force 8 made up of the heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire (Capt. D.K. Bain, DSO, RN), escort carriers Premier (A/Capt. R.J. Gardner, RN), HMS Pursuer (A/Capt. H.R. Graham, DSO, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Saumarez (Capt. M.L. Power, CBE, DSO, RN), HMS Venus (Cdr. H.G.D. De Chair, DSC with Bar, RN), HMS Vigilant (Lt.Cdr. L.W.L. Argles, RN), HMS Volage (Cdr. L.G. Durlacher, OBE, RN) and HMS Zealous (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN).

Heavy weather was encountered and ' Force 8 ' abandoned the operation and returned to Scapa Flow on 25 November 1944.

On 27 November 1944 shipping was attacked successfully by aircraft from HMS Indefatigable, the German transports Rigel (3828 GRT, built 1924, former Norwegian) and Korsnes (1795 GRT, built 1936) were sunk between Rosoya and Tjotta. Heavy loss of live occured on board the Rigel was was transporting troops and POW's (mostly Soviet). Over 2500 men lost their lives in this sinking. These ships had been in convoy and had departed Bodo on 26 November. They were escorted by the patrol vessels V 6308 and NT 04.

' Force 7 ' returned to Scapa Flow on 29 November 1944. (1)

Sources

  1. ADM 199/1427
  2. ADM 53/118996 + ADM 53/119343 + ADM 53/119422 + ADM 53/120283 + ADM 53/120421 + ADM 53/120485 + ADM 199/1427
  3. ADM 53/118980 + ADM 53/119417 + ADM 53/119640 + ADM 53/120290 + ADM 199/1426 + ADM 199/1427

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


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