'Ruler' Class

 Description Shape:
Standard, circular.
Blazon (Heraldic description)
On a purple field: A turban, white, aigrette gold and jewelled emerald, between two scimitars in saltire, proper, pommels and hilts gold.
RAJAH: : A Hindu prince or ruler in India. The design features a rajah’s (aigrette) -a headdress consisting of a white egret's feathers. The scimitars shown are clearly stylised with exaggerated blades and impractical as weapons.

For explanations of heraldic terms see the Badges & Honours page.

 

Motto:

None

 

Pennant Numbers:

 

D10 (Atlantic)

R310 (Pacific)

 


 

Battle Honours:

 

ATLANTIC 1944

 


 

Specifications

Builder: Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Co. Tacoma, Washington

Completed by: Willamette Iron & Steel, Portland, Oregon

Displacement: 15,390 tons

Length (Overall): 494ft 9in

Beam:  69ft 6in

Flight deck: 450ft x 80ft wood covered mild steel plate

Propulsion: 2 Foster Wheeler boilers; 1 x Allis-Chalmers geared turbine driving 1 shaft

Speed:  16 knots

A/C Capacity: 20

Hangar: 260ft x 62ft x 18ft

A/C lifts: 2, Aft 34ft long x 42ft wide; forward 42ft long x 34ft wide

Arrestor wires: 9 with 3 barriers

Catapult: 1 H4C hydraulic

Armament: 2 single 5in USN Mk 12, 8 twin 40mm Bofors, 14 twin 20rnm Oerlikon, 7 single 20mm Oerlikon

Crew Complement: 646


 

Commanding Officers:

 

Cdr Philip H. Baker OBE

Oct 43 - Feb 44

 

Capt. R.S.D. Armour RN
Feb 44 - Nov 44

 

Cdr. A.W.R. Adams RN
Nov 44 - Nov 45

 

Capt. H.F.H. Layman RN
Nov 45 - Mar 46

 


 

Squadrons:

 

767 (DLT)

August 44

Mixed A/C types

 

768 (DLT)

August 44

Barracuda &Mixed

A/C types

 

769 (DLT)

August 44

Mixed A/C types

 

849 (Ferry)

Sep - Oct 44

Avenger I

 

857 (Ferry)
Jun - Jul 44 &
Sep - Oct 44
Avenger II

 

888 (Ferry)

Sept -Oct 44

Hellcat PR.II

 

1842 (Ferry)

June - July 44

Corsair

 


 

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A History of HMS RAJAH

HMS RAJAH at sea c.1944. © IWM (FL 7059)

 

HMS RAJAH was an -Ameer- class escort carrier, her keel was laid down on December 17th1942, at Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Co. Tacoma, Washington, a C3-S-A1 type freighter, Maritime Commission hull number 256, Seattle-Tacoma hull number 40; purchased by the US navy to be the USS McCLURE, AVG-45, a -Prince William- class escort carrier, but her name was changed to PRINCE on November 13th 1942. Whilst still under construction it had been decided that AVG 45 was to be transferred to the Admiralty on loan on her completion as an aircraft carrier. AVG-45 was launched on May 18th 1943 by her sponsor Mrs. J. L. McGuigan and was assigned to Willamette Iron & Steel, Portland, Oregon, for the completion of her construction as an escort carrier. Her US navy designation change d to CVE-45 on July 13th 1943. She was transferred to the United Kingdom under Lend Lease on October 17th 1943: She was delivered on January 17th 1944, and commissioned into RN service as HMS RAJAH (D10), Commander Philip Baker RN in command.

Modification and preparation to enter service:

After completing her builder-s sea trials and Admiralty acceptance tests HMS RAJAH proceeded to Vancouver, Canada to be modified to meet Admiralty requirements, receive her full crew compliment, and work up ready for beginning her active service. This work was undertaken by the Burrard Dry Dock Co. Ltd., North Vancouver, British Columbia. RAJAH was the twelfth ship to be modified by Burrards, and she arrived at Vancouver at on February 1st and at 6 p.m. she was secured at No 7 berth, Lapointe Pier; at this time sister CVEs SPEAKER, QUEEN, RULER and ARBITER were in the hands of the Burrard' s yard and at various stages of modification,. Work commenced to de-store the ship before she was moved to number 3 berth on the 4th for her alteration work to begin: this work totalled 150 separate modifications and included lengthening of the flight deck, fitting redesigned flying controls and fighter direction layout, modifications to hangar, accommodation and store rooms, installing extra safety measures including major changes to the aviation fuel stowage and oiling at sea arrangements, modifying gunnery and other internal communications, adding extra W/T and R/T sets, and improved darken ship arrangements.

As work progressed RAJAH moved through the yards various berths; the yard could be working on six different ships at any time with separate aspects of the work carried out at different berths, the ships passing through like a production line, moving from one berth to another until complete. RAJAH moved to No 4 on February 20th, then to No 5 March 4th where her alterations were completed on March 17th having taken a total of 45 days.

RAJAH sailed for Esquimalt, Victoria, North Vancouver on March 19th to enter dry dock for the fitting of additional sea valves and other remedial work. She entered the berthing dock on the 20th, and was un-docked on the 22nd. She was to remain at Esquimalt, for a spell of defect rectification, to embark Confidential Books and more stores and to prepare for her post modification shakedown. Whilst moored in Esquimalt the ship was visited by two officers from No. 7 Radio Detachment RCAF, Patricia Bay, on April 11th; they were shown around the ship, and in particular the operations room.

Once the defect rectification period was completed RAJAH made a short round trip voyage to the US Naval Yard at Bremerton, Washington to ammunition the ship and then returned to the Straits of Georgia (between Vancouver Island and the mainland), for steaming, gunnery, radar and other trials and exercises.

 

Starboard aft 40mm Bofors crew test fire their weapons during gunnery exercises in the Straits of Georgia, April 1944

HMS RAJAH: Starboard aft 40mm Bofors crew test fire their weapons during gunnery exercises in the Straits of Georgia, April 1944.


UK Bound: Rajah's First Ferry Load

HMS RAJAH Left Esquimalt on May 2nd 1944 bound for the Panama Canal and on to Norfolk, Virginia. At the Naval Operating Base, Norfolk RAJAH was allocated to Western Approaches Command for ferry duties, and began embarking aircraft on the 29th of June 1944. The ferry load included the 12 Avengers of 857 squadron and the 18 Corsairs of 1842 squadron for transit to the UK. Also embarked were the aircrews and personnel of these two squadrons. On completion of loading RAJAH sailed for New York were she joined the east bound convoy TCU 30 on July 2nd; this was mainly a troop ship convoy with a few merchant vessels. RAJAH arrived at Liverpool on July 12th where she unloaded stores and the aircraft of 1842 squadron; the next day she proceeded to Belfast to disembark 857 squadron and more stores. From Belfast RAJAH sailed for a short defect rectification period in a Clyde dockyard.

Deck Landing Training Duties: August 1944

After her repairs RAJAH was transferred toe control of the Flag Officer Flying Training for a tour as the west coast Deck Landing Training Carrier. The ship-s flight deck equipment was put through its paces by an Avenger (JZ106)from 778 service trials unit and a Wildcat (JV342) from 768 squadron on July 23rd; this involved several arrested landings and catapult assisted take offs by each aircraft.

From July 31st till August 14th RAJAH was to operate as a deck landing training carrier being visited by a verity of aircraft, these mainly belonged to 768 Deck landing Training squadron from RNAS Ayr. This period put the various ships- departments through tier paces while training carrier pilots in the art of deck landing, and was not without its mishaps. The pilots under training included those of No. 618 squadron, Royal Air Force; normally they flew mosquitoes but carried out their DLTs in the Barracudas of 768 squadron. This was in preparation for operations in the pacific theatre were it was hoped they would be able to employ their -bouncing- anti-ship mine developed from the famous dam busting bouncing bomb designed by Barnes Wallace.


A Barracuda which either missed all the arrestor wires or lost its hook ran off the end of the flight deck and went nose first in the foc’sle while on Deck Landing Training, August 1944.

A Barracuda which came to rest nose first in the foc’sle while on Deck Landing Training, August 1944The Barracuda pictured left after being extricated from the foc’sle after its Deck Landing Training accident, August 1944

Top: A Barracuda which either missed all the arrestor wires or lost its hook ran off the end of the flight deck and went nose first in the foc-sle while on Deck Landing Training, August 1944. Left & Right Recovering the wreckage.

 

The training period started badly, one of the first aircraft to approach the ship, a Barracuda, suffered rudder damage and spiralled into the sea; the pilot F/Lt Maclean RAF was picked up by a fishery vessel. There were numerous minor flying accidents during the two weeks of intensive activity; one was more spectacular, Barracuda LS643 flown by Pilot Officer JR Myles RCAF suffered an undercarriage failure on August 13th and the aircraft came to rest in the posrt walkway. Another, unidentified Barracuda failed to stop on landing and ran over the front of the flight deck coming to rest nose first in the foc-sle. Two other squadrons made shorter visits to RAJAH during this period, 769 DLT squadron from RNAS East Haven operated on board during August 11th 7 12th, and were followed on the 12th - 14th by sister DLT squadron 767, also from RNAS East Haven.

Round trip ferry voyage to Ceylon: September 10th - November 11th 1944

Once her DLT duties were completed RAJAH was re allocated to Western Approaches Command for further ferry duties, proceeding to RNAMY Belfast to embark her next load. On September 9th she embarked the personnel and 12 Avenger aircraft of 849 squadron, the personnel and 21 Avengers of 857 squadron along with the personnel and 6 Photo recon Hellcat s of 888 squadron, for delivery to southern India and Ceylon.

RAJAH sailed on the 10th; she called at Gibraltar, Alexandria and Aden before reaching Cochin, S. India on October 9th. Here she disembarked 849 squadron to RNAS Cochin and 957 squadron for the RN Aircraft Repair Yard at Coimbatore. RAJAH continued on to Trincomalee, Ceylon, disembarking 888 squadron to the Naval Air Station at China Bay on the 11th. She spent the next week storing ship and embarking passengers in preparation for the return voyage to the UK. The passengers included the personnel of 822 squadron which was returning to the UK without its Barracudas; the aircraft type performed less than satisfactorily in the tropical climate and were withdrawn after only a month of operations.

RAJAH sailed for home on October 19th, calling at Port Said and Gibraltar on route. She arrived back on the Clyde on November 10th and after unloading she entered a Clyde dock yard for defect rectification.


Loan to the US Navy as a Transport Carrier

In December the Admiralty agreed to loan HMS RAJAH to the US Navy for operations as a transport and aircraft ferry carrier with the US Pacific fleet She sailed with convoy UC49B which departed from Liverpool on December 20th 1944, and arrived at New York on December 31st. After passing through the Panama Canal in early January 1945 she arrived in San Diego, California to begin operations on January 15th.

 

1945 - HMS Rajah somewhere in the Pacific, her decks laden with US F6f-3s destined for Guam. .

 

RAJAH carried aircraft and personal from San Diego to Guam in the Mariana Islands, via Pearl Harbour. On her return passage to San Diego she carried passengers and evacuated injured US personnel. Her RN designation changed from D10 to R310 for service in the Pacific but this may not have been worn. She was to operate in this role for six months, and was returned to RN duties on July 7th 1945 when she sailed from San Diego for the Naval Operating Base at Norfolk. She reached Norfolk on July 23rd and embarked the personnel and 18 Corsair aircraft of 1853 squadron for passage to the UK. RAJAH sailed (probably not in convoy since the war in Europe was over) on July 28th bound for the Clyde, arriving there on August 5th.

Troop Ship Conversion : August - November 1945

HMS RAJAH was one of six RN CVEs (along with ATHELING, RANEE, QUEEN, PATROLLER and FENCER) selected for conversion for Naval Trooping, these ships were to be employed bringing military personnel from the Far East back to the UK and some commonwealth countries.

Once her passengers and cargo were disembarked RAJAH went upstream to Meadowside Quay for her conversion to a troop ship; this work was undertaken by Messrs Alex Stevens Ltd. During this period almost all of the ship-s company were drafted off the ship and a scaled down complement arrived to man her. The work consisted of converting the hangar deck into accommodation spaces; about 600 bunks were installed along with additional mess decks and heads. When the work was completed on November 13th RAJAH left Meadowside Quay and moved downstream to X4 buoy off Rosneath Patch where she was to store ship, and carry out post conversion trials.

First trooping voyage: November 1945 - January 1946

After embarking passengers RAJAH sailed for a round trip trooping voyage to Gibraltar, Colombo and Bombay departing on November 22nd. She reached Colombo on December 14th where she embarked/disembarked passengers before sailing for Bombay on the 17th. She arrived at Bombay on December 20th and embarked a contingent of Combined Operations personnel for return to UK; she was to spend two days here before sailing for Plymouth. Christmas day was spent at sea in temperatures of over 90 degrees F - massed voices on the flight deck could be heard singing, -'when the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even.-' RAJAH reached Plymouth on January 11th and disembarked her first passengers before continuing on to Portsmouth and later Sheerness, arriving there on the 13th; she finally berthed at Chatham on the 14th. Leave was granted once the ship was secured.

Second trooping voyage: February - March 1946

After the ship-s company returned from leave the ship was ready for a second trooping voyage, she sailed again at the beginning of February 1946, calling at Gibraltar, Malta, Port Said, and Aden, arriving in Colombo on the 23rd. On the return journey she called at the same ports, calling at Plymouth, Portsmouth and Sheerness before she arrived in Chatham Dockyard for repairs on March 23rd.

 

RAJAH entering Valletta harbour on one of her trooping voyages in 1946.


Third trooping voyage: August - November 1946

RAJAH returned to duty on August 10th 1946 and was again Allocated to Rosyth Command for continued use as a troopship; she was to make a third and final trooping run to Ceylon in September Calling at Gibraltar, Malta, Port Said, Aden and Colombo. The ship developed engine trouble in the Arabian Sea and was adrift for several days while her engineers fixed the problem. The delay caused a change in the ship-s schedule of stops, it was planned that she would call at Singapore after leaving Colombo but this was cancelled and a stop over of 10 days was made in Ceylon. At Colombo RAJAH embarked part of the ship-s company of HMS GOULD, the BPF Headquarters which had been housed at Chatham Camp, Colombo to administer the winding down of the fleet after the closure of HMS GOLDEN HIND in Sydney. This included a Royal Marine Band which provided much welcome entertainment on the voyage home. On her arrival back in Chatham she was stood down from duty and work began de-storing her in preparation for her return to the Us Navy.

Her final voyage from the UK was to Norfolk, Virginia via Bermuda; her passengers included GI Brides and their children, a draft for HMS Sheffield which disembarked at Bermuda..

Disposal: Return to US Custody

CVE 45 was returned to US Navy custody at Norfolk Navy Yard, Virginia on December 13th 1946, RAJAH-s crew transferred to the fleet carrier HMS INDEFATIGABLE for passage home. CVE 45 was stricken for disposal on February 7th 1947 and was sold to the Waterman Steamship Corp., on July 7th 1947.She entered merchant service as the S.S. DRENTE in 1948. She was renamed LAMBROS in 1966 and, further renamed ULYSSES in 1969. She was scrapped in Taiwan starting in June 1975.

 

 

Content revised: 17 April 2017

 

Sources used in compiling this account:

Click here for a list of Primary sources

 

Additional sources:

Fold3.com various documents including;

Admiralty War Diaries

Norfolk Navy Yard War Diaries

Mew York Navy Yard War Diaries

Miscellaneous documents


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