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Pennant Numbers:




Battle Honours:

ATLANTIC 1940-42




Builder: Harland & Wolff Belfast, Northern Ireland

Converted by: Swan Hunter

Displacement: 23,450 tons

Length (Overall): 594ft 7in

Beam:  76ft 6in

Flight deck: 550ft x 76ft mild steel plate

Propulsion: 2 Burmeister & Wain diesels driving 2 shafts

Speed:  18 knots

A/C Capacity: 10

Hangar: 354ft x 46ft x 17ft

A/C lifts: 1, forward 45ft long x 39ft wide

Arrestor wires: 6 with 2 barriers

Catapult: 1 CII cordite;

Armament: 2 twin 4in QF Mk XVI HA, 10 twin 20mm Oerlikon, 2 quadruple 2 pounder "pom-pom"

Crew Complement: 580


Commanding Officers:


Capt. A.V. Hemming RN

Mar 41 - Mar 43

Capt. R. Bell-Davies, RN,VC, CB, DSO, AFC,

Mar 43 - Jun 44

Capt. G.C. Dickins RN

May 45 - Dec 45






Service Trials Unit



Listen to this section



 Listen to this article







HMS PRETORIA CASTLE arriving at Rosyth to complete post conversion trials March 12th 1943



Built by Harland & Wolff. Belfast, Northern Ireland; Launched 12 Oct 1938, completed 1939 as a passenger liner. Requisitioned as armed merchant cruiser 10/1939, commissioned 28 November 1939. Purchased by RN 16 July 1942 and converted to a carrier at Swan Hunter. Commissioned 29 July 1943, conversion completed 9 August 1943.


Used only as a trials and training carrier. She was paid off December 1945, sold 26 January 1946  for merchant service but not immediately decommissioned; delivered to new owners 21 March 1946 for conversion to cargo liner. Entered service as  'Warwick Castle' 1947. Scrapped in Spain starting 9/1962.




A fuller account of this ships history will be added at some time in the future.



Content revised: 31 October 2021


Sources used in compiling this account:

Click here for a list of Primary sources


Additional sources: various documents including;

Admiralty War Diaries

Norfolk Navy Yard War Diaries

Mew York Navy Yard War Diaries

Miscellaneous documents


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Topic: A History of H.M.S. PRETORIA CASTLE
0/5 (0)
Janette Reynolds
May 2020
Janette Reynolds (Ware) says...
My father Frank (Francis) Reynolds and uncle, Tim (Henry) Walsom were also both on the Pretoria Castle during WW2. Mum has both their service record and also a photo of the crew and a couple of photos of dad taken on board.
Stephen Wood
Nov 2017
Stephen Wood (Gloucestershire) says...
My Father in law served on Pretoria Castle from July 1943 to March 1946. I was discussing this web site with him this weeend 4/11/17. He remembers the convoy to Iceland and return and then the trials with various aircraft in home waters including the first landing by a jet aircraft. He has some interesting photo's of Pretoria Castle in home waters and in the waters off Iceland. As well as his previous ship HMS Anson. He also has a photo of the crew of Pretoria Castle from about 1943. Please let me know if any researcher or interested person would like to speak to him or have sight of the photographs. He is now 95 so not good with IT, but very good to talk to. He was a member of the gun crew.
Steve Wood
Nov 2014
First Poster
My father, Francis Alan Larkin, made a couple of Russia convoys trips on HMS Pretoria Castle. He had to do with aircraft radio maintenance and, although RNVR when he joined the Navy in 1942, he ended as a Lieutenant RN. Any details of his wartime career would be welcome.
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