The British Pacific and East Indies Fleets

The forgotten fleets that fought the Japanese in the Pacific and Indian Oceans



Aircraft Component Repair Ship

Pennant No. B316


Battle Honours







Builder: William Gray & Co. Hartlepool, United Kingdom

Displacement: 6,924 tons

Length: 431 ft

Beam: 56 ft

Draught: 26 ft 6 in

Speed: 11 Knots

 Crew complement: 450+


Commanding Officers

Commander. William Snowdon Byles, RD, RNR Mar 1945 10 Oct 1945
Cdr. R.W Lindy RNR, RD 10 Oct 1945?





Related items

















Read aloud  

H.M.S. HOLM SOUND at sea after completion. Photo: © IWM (FL 13933)

Early history

Her keel was laid down as the 7,339 GRT cargo ship EMPIRE LABUAN for the Ministry of War Transport, yard number 1166, at William Gray & Co Ltd, West Hartlepool., on November 4th 1943. She was launched on September 5th 1944 and requisitioned by the Admiralty for completion as a component Repair Ship. She was one of five 'Moray Firth' class repair ships building in British yards (BEAULY FIRTH, CUILLIN SOUND, HOLM SOUND, MORAY FIRTH and SOLWAY FIRTH) that were planned as Aviation Repair Ships for deployment with the Fleet Train of British Pacific Fleet (BPF).

She was completed by William Gray & Co Ltd in November 1944 and moved up the coast to South Sheilds3 to be outfitted with specialist workshops and equipment for the support of British airframes and component types3 Fairey Barracuda, Fairey Firefly, and Supermarine Seafire. Like her sister ships DEER SOUND and CUILLIN SOUND the HOLM SOUND carried two large, twin engine, lighters for ferrying airframes to and from the aircraft carriers or from shore bases.

She commissioned as HMS HOLM SOUND, at South Shields, in March 1945, Commander, W. S. ByJes RD RNR in command. She was named for the stretch of water between Burray, Lamb Holm and Mainland Orkney, Scotland.

Allocated to the British Pacific Fleet

She remained alongside at South Shields throughout the summer months and did not sail for Australia until November 22nd 1945. She called at Gibraltar, Malta, Port Said, Aden, Bombay, Cochin, Colombo, and the Cocos Islands. She crossed the equator on January 26th 1946 and docked in Freemantle on February 9th. Another Aviation Repair Ship, HMS DEER SOUND docked in Fremantle the day before but her stay was short, sailing on the 10th for the U.K.

The ship was berthed at D shed, Victoria Quay before moving to No. 8 berth, North Wharf on the 13th. On the 20th she was joined by the Dutch sloop VAN KINSBERGEN which was moored alongside, she had moved from F Shed, Victoria Quay to make room for the Liner DOMINION MONARCH. There is no evidence to suggest that HOLM SOUND operated in her capacity as a component Repair Ship after leaving the U.K., on her arrival in Fremantle she was alongside for a fortnight before work began loading stores for the return home. [It is assumed that she was deemed no longer needed in her role as a BPF repair ship before leaving Ceylon, and was cleared of air stores and workshop machinery, either in Ceylon or dumped overboard at sea, to make room for cargo for the return voyage.]

Food for Britain Ship

Over 5,000 cases of goods were embarked from the Lord Mayor's Food for Britain appeal3; the largest consignment of gift food for Britain dispatched from the port on any one ship, this comprised mostly of tinned meats and fats and was collected through the generosity of the people of Western Australia and the city of Perth.

HMS HOLM SOUND sailed for the U.K. on Sunday 3 March 1946 retracing her route via Aden and Gibraltar; she reached the UK on April 26, 1946 and docked at Portsmouth.


After unloading her cargo of food the ship was decommissioned and laid up at Boness, on the Firth of Forth by the summer of 1946. and put up for disposal She was sold in 1949 to Aviation & Shipping Ltd., reconverted to a cargo ship band renamed AVISBAY, under the management of Purvis Shipping Co Ltd, London. Sold in 1950 to Elder Dempster Lines, Liverpool and renamed PRAH. Sold in 1959 to Atlanska Plovidba, Yugoslavia and renamed NAPRIJED. Arrived at Split for scrapping on 13 May 1969.


1. Moved to an un-named shipyard for outfitting, most of her crew joined her at South Shields.

2. Records are sketchy for the six Aviation Repair Ships built for the Fleet Air Arm, however there ware two distinct types – Component repair, and Engine Repair. It is highly probable that these ships specialised in either British or American types. What evidence exists suggests the following assignments:

Deer Sound = Component*
Holm Sound = Component*  British airframes and component types
Cuillin Sound = Component
Beauly Firth = Engine* - British in-line Engines
Moray Firth = Engine* - British in-line Engines
Solway Firth = Engine* - American Radial engines?

*See AFO 7521/45 —Complement Amendments (N/G.013545/45.—27 Dec. 1945.) which states:
H.M. Ships “Beauly Firth” , “Moray Firth” and “Solway Firth” as Aircraft Engine Repair Ships (Admiralty Letter N.15743/44 of 5 July, 1944).
H.M.S. “Deer Sound” as Aircraft Component Repair Ship (Admiralty Letter N .29837/43 of 7 March, 1944).
H.M.S. “Holm Sound” as Aircraft Component Repair Ship (Admiralty Letter N .32706/44 of 8 January 1945).

3. Originally an appeal made by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne in September 1945 to send food to Britain in Mercy Food Shipments. The appeal became nation-wide but was still called the Lord Mayor's Food for Britain appeal.

Last modified: 16 June 2020


Primary information sources

Additional sources:




Add Comment

* Required information
Enter the word shark backwards.
Captcha Image
Powered by Commentics

Comments (0)

No comments yet. Be the first!


Search RN Research Archive materials on-line


HM Ships COLOSSUS, GLORY, VENERABLE and VENGEANCE. GLORY did not arrive in Sydney until August 16th.


At the end of June 1945, the Admiralty implemented a new system of classification for carrier air wings, adopting the American practice one carrier would embark a single Carrier Air Group (CAG) which would encompass all the ships squadrons.


Sturtivant, R & Balance, T. (1994) 'Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm’ list 899 squadron as conducting DLT on the Escort Carrier ARBITER on August 15th. It is possible that the usual three-day evolution was cancelled due to the announcement of the Japanese surrender on this date and was postponed for a month.


The reminiscences of

Gordon served with the radio section of Mobile Repair UNit No.1 (MR 1) at Nowra, he was a member of the local RN dance band, and possibly the last member of MONAB I to leave Nowra after it paid off. .

Drafted to

Coming home

In March 1946 I joined 812 squadron, aboard HMS Vengeance, spending some time ditching American aircraft north of Australia. Eventually we sailed for Ceylon ( Sri Lanka ) landing at Trincomalee and setting up a radio section at Katakarunda. In the belief that we were exhausted we were sent to a rest camp at Kandy for a few weeks. We moved down to Colombo to pick up Vengeance and returned to Portsmouth via the Suez Canal . I was discharged in November 1946.

Gordon Theaker