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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: 01 December 2018


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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Comments (3)

Stephen Wood (Gloucestershire, UK) 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 ... Read More
7th November 2017 11:09am
Bill Pearson (Uttoxeter, UK) says...
My father Cliff Pearson from Connah's Quay Flintshire was also on Pretoria Castle. He was on board from 29/07/1943 to 21/03/1946. The date it sailed until it was decommissioned.
Perhaps they knew each other. Dad died in 1989 but would have been 94 now.

I would love to see the photo of the crew. I have a Xmas card showing the ship with ana aeroplane flying above it.
Hope to hear from you
Bill Pearson
15th August 2018 9:29pm
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.
25th November 2014 7:13pm
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