'SMITER' Class

 Description Shape:
Standard, circular.
Blazon (Heraldic description)
On a white field: An arm embowed, the hand grasping a sling, armed with a stone, in sinister, base, proper.
SLINGER: One who uses a sling for throwing missiles, as in ancient warfare. Both the design and the motto are references to the parable of ‘David and Goliath’ were an ordinary person, using simple weapon, overcame am enemy’s much larger proud champion who boasted he was unbeatable.
Unofficial badge:
Although an official pattern was approved in 1943 an unofficial design, believed to have been submitted for consideration by the ships officers while the ship was building was widely used in materials relating to the ship throughout her service. It comprised of a field of white with six bary wavy white and blue in base; an arm, the hand grasping a sling, armed with a stone, in sinister, proper, with a boat hook Saltirewise, gold. This design was in a Diamond shield and was possibly looks back to the Catapult trials ship- SLINGER from the First World War.

For explanations of heraldic terms and examples of unofficial badges see the Badges & Honours page.

 

Motto:

"DEBELLARE SUPERBOS"
To overcome the proud

 

 

Pennant Numbers:

 

D26 (Atlantic)

 R313 / A452 (Pacific)

 


 

Battle Honours:

 

OKINAWA 1945

 

 


 

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:

 

Capt. A.N.C. Bingley RN
Aug 43 - Jun 44

 

Capt. B. L. Moore RN
Jun 44 - Jun 45

 

Lt. Cdr. J. G. Hopkins
Jun 45 - Feb 46

 


 

Squadrons:

 

768 (DLT)

Nov - Dec 44

Mix of A/C types

 

1830 (Ferry)

Oct 43 -  Nov 43

 Corsair II

 

1845

Dec 44 - April 45

Corsair III

 


 

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A History of HMS SLINGER

HMS SLINGER operating Seafires from 768 Deck landing Training squadron in December 1944.

H.M.S. Slinger was an 'Ruler' class escort carrier, her keel was laid down on May 25th 1942 at Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Co. Tacoma, Washington, as a C3-S-A1 type freighter hull, Maritime Commission hull number 243; Seattle-Tacoma hull number 27. Hull number 27 was purchased by the US navy, to become the auxiliary aircraft carrier USS CHATHAM AVG-32, however while still under construction it was decided that AVG-32 was to be transferred to the Admiralty on loan on her completion under the lend-lease agreement that existed between the US and Britain.

She was launched on September 19th 1942 as ACV -32 and was assigned to Willamette Iron & Steel shipyard in Portland, Oregon, for the completion as an escort carrier. Her crew began to arrive in Portland during the spring of 1943 and were under the charge of Lt. Cdr. W.H. Roberts, OBE, the ship's Executive Officer.

While Slinger was in the hands of the Willamette Iron & Steel yard there was a friendly rivalry between the workers and their opposite numbers at other Portland ship yard working on ships for the Admiralty and the Commercial Iron Works yard, where HMS Trumpeter was being built. For many months the progress of both ships was proceeding at the same pace until some key parts had to removed and sent to Bremerton Navy Yard, Washington for adjustment. The parts had to be sent 200 miles by road and who ever got the parts there first would gain valuable time over their rival. The Willamette workers were first to deliver their parts, but Commercial workers were not to be out done and increased their productivity to make up the lost time; eventually Trumpeter was completed first by one week.

CVE-32 sailed on her builder's sea trials at 08:00 on the morning of Monday July 19th 1943. After passing down the Willamette River she entered the Columbia River and trials began at 09:30. After testing her anchors, steering, engines, and general handling she carried out a full speed test and an emergency stop before completing a maximum speed run over a measured mile, she returned to her berth at 16:00 after completing the test schedule.

 

Transfer to RN and commissioning

On completion of defect rectification and final fitting out, CVE-32 was transferred to the United Kingdom under Lend Lease and delivered on August 11th 1943 at a ceremony held on the flight deck. The ship was accepted on behalf of the US Navy by Captain L. D. Whitgrove USN, and after the playing of the American national anthem he delivered her to Captain A.N.C. Bingley O.B.E. RN who accepted her on behalf of the Admiralty. Captain Bingley read out the order commissioning her as HMS SLINGER (pennant number D26) and the White ensign and the Union Jack were hoisted.

After the British national anthem had been played a short church service was held during which Captain Bingley read a passage from the Bible about David, the first 'Slinger' reading from a large print Bible that had been donated to the ship by Mr. William Whitfield. The Portland built ships and their crews had been warmly welcomed into the Portland community and many individuals and organisations made donations of recreation materials and equipment to the departing carriers that had been built in their local ship yards.

The passage he read included Samuel 1, Ch17 verse 49 'And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth.' which was the inspiration behind the unofficial ship's badge.

 

Seattle: working up the ship

HMS Slinger left Portland on August 31st 1943 bound for Seattle where she was to take on ammunition and stores, carry out gunnery practice, and undergo a short work-up. Slinger exercised with her sister CVE HMS Trumpeter which had sailed from Portland a week before and was preparing to embark 848 naval air squadron on September 4th. The squadron had formed in June at USNAS Quonset Point on the US east coast with 12 Avengers, and had flown out to join the ship at Seattle to work up the ship and the squadron in preparation for providing anti-submarine patrols on the forthcoming Atlantic crossing to the UK. Part of Slinger's work up period off Seattle included testing her flight deck equipment, in particular the arrestor wires and her catapult, to achieve this an Avenger from 848 squadron was utilised for a period of practice deck landings.

  

Avenger, JZ102 attempting to recover flying speed after an arrestor wire parted. Photo: Courtesy of John LawsonUnable to recover the Avenger dithed off the starboard bow and was overtaken by the ship. Photo: Courtesy of John Lawson

Left: Avenger, JZ102 attempting to recover flying speed after an arrestor wire parted. Right: Unable to recover the Avenger ditched off the starboard bow and was overtaken by the ships. Photo: Courtesy of John Lawson

 

The event proved to be an inauspicious start to Slinger's operational service 'during one of the landings on September 15th the arrestor wire parted as Avenger, JZ102 attempted to land. There was no barrier rigged so the pilot, Lt P.F. McClintock, had to attempt to recover flying speed as his aircraft continued on down the deck. Unable to recover the Avenger ditched off the starboard bow and was overtaken by the ship - Lt McClintock was recovered safely, however the severed arrestor cable had whipped across the deck striking an Oerlikon Gunner, Able Seaman Jack Hill, suffered serious head injuries and an almost severed ear. Both the port and starboard catwalks were packed with officers and men observing the trials but AB Hill was the only casualty.

 

Maiden voyage: Passage to Norfolk and Atlantic crossing

Her work-up and storing completed, HMS Slinger left Seattle in company with Trumpeter and after clearing the Panama Canal on September 29th, both vessels headed for the US Naval Operating Base at Norfolk, Virginia, to collect consignments of aircraft for ferrying to the UK. On her arrival at Norfolk Navy Yard on October 6th Slinger was allocated to Western Approaches Command as a ferry carrier and began embarking 54 airframes to be ferried to the UK. This load included the 10 Corsair IIs of No. 1830 Naval Air Squadron which were loaded on the 9th; 1830 had formed and worked up in the US at USNAS Quonset Point on June 1st and was returning to the UK to continue training.

On completion of loading HMS Slinger departed Norfolk for New York to join the next Liverpool bound convoy. Slinger and Trumpeter sailed with convoy UT.4  from New York on the October 21st; when nearing Ireland on October 30th the two carriers detached from the convoy and proceeded to Belfast where they unloaded their squadrons to Royal Naval Aircraft Yard Belfast on November 1st. Slinger then continued on to Greenock, Scotland to unload the remainder of the aircraft and cargo.

 

In dock yard hands: Modifications in Chatham dock yard and repairs after being mined

The ship was next ordered to proceed to Chatham Dockyard on November 20th where she was to be modified to meet RN standards and have additional armament and communications equipment fitted. The modification work was completed in early February 1944, and Slinger was towed by tugs from Chatham to Sheerness on February 5th in preparation for leaving the river Medway and proceeding to the Clyde the next day.

Slinger weighed anchor at 0800 the following morning and proceeded out into the channel, a gunnery test was carried out mid morning during which time all of the ship's main armament was fired. Around midday there was a loud explosion as the ship struck a mine; the 'flying bedstead' radar array collapsed onto the bridge while the HF/DF mast toppled into the twin Bofors gun mounts, and the ship began to list and drift as the engines stopped.

Slinger was eventually taken in tow by escorting destroyer HMS Garth as she was drifting out of the swept channel and in danger of entering our own mine fields. It was nightfall before the ship was taken in tow by two tugs and began the journey back up the river Medway towards to Sheerness, a journey that was to take all night. Water continued to enter the ship and the onboard pumps could barely manage to hold their own as she took on a dangerous list. At Sheerness, lighters with electric pumps were secured alongside the ship and the long task of pumping her out began. When the water was at last under control and the list less pronounced Slinger was moved to Harland & Wolff's Royal Albert dry dock for damage easement of her hull on the 12th. Her bottom had been holed in two places, and her rudder and propeller had been severely bent.

Slinger was to spend the next eight and a half months in the Port of London and Woolwich docks under repair; during this time she was partly cannibalised to complete the refits of several of her sister CVEs, her forward lift for example was removed to repair HMS Stalker in Match. Opportunity was also taken to upgrade the ship's defensive armament fit. The Admiralty had decided to upgrade the single 20mm Bofors units on all the CVEs of her class to twin 20mm Bofors in powered mountings. During this time in the hands of the dockyard Captain Bingley left the ship to take up a mew command, he was relived by Captain Barrington Lungley Moore RN in June.

 

Work up and flying training

Repairs and modifications were completed by October 17th 1944 and Slinger proceeded to the Clyde where she was transferred to control of the Flag Officer Flying Training. The ship's flight deck equipment was put through its paces by an Avenger from 778 service trials unit on the 28th, this involved arrested landings and catapult assisted take offs. On its final landing it experienced tail hook trouble and ended up in the barrier.

 

A Seafire after entering the barrier on Slinger having missing all the arrestor wires during deck landing training. Photo: Courtesy of David YatesA Corsair caught at the moment of entering the barrier on Slinger having missing all the arrestor wires during deck landing training. Photo: Courtesy of David Yates

Left: A Seafire after entering the barrier on SLINGER having missing all the arrestor wires during deck landing training. Right: A Corsair caught at the moment of entering the barrier on SLINGER having missing all the arrestor wires during deck landing training. Photos: Courtesy of David Yates

From November 3rd 1944 Slinger was assigned to operate as a deck landing training carrier for the next six weeks being visited by a variety of aircraft belonging to 768 Deck landing Training squadron from RNAS Abbotsinch. 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. On the 23rd Seafire LR652, went over the port side into sea, the pilot Midshipman R.J. Watson was rescued by ML593 acting as Slinger's safety boat; two days later S/Lt E.O. Atkin landed short in Seafire LR687 causing the aircrafts tail oleo to hit the rounddown.

 

Passage to Ceylon

On December 19th 1944 No, 1845 naval air squadron joined the ship from RNAS Eglinton, equipped with 24 Corsair Mk. IVs and began deck landing practice and exercising with the ship as it worked up in preparation for deployment to join the British Pacific Fleet. 1845 was part of No. 10 Naval Fighter Wing with 1843 squadron, the latter was to deploy to the BPF aboard HMS Arbiter.

  

Corsair’s 1845 squadron carry out a mock attack before landing on Slinger to begin working up. Photo: Courtesy of John LawsonA Corsair’s 1845 squadron landing on Slinger as part of the units work up before sailing for Australia. Photo: Courtesy of John Lawson

Left: Corsair's of 1845 squadron carry out a mock attack before landing on SLINGER during working up. Right: A Corsair of 1845 squadron landing on SLINGER as part of the units workup before sailing for Australia. Photos: Courtesy of John Lawson

 

December was to be a period of intensive flying training for Slinger and her new squadron and the strain began to show when Mid E.F.K. Webb suffered a barrier crash in corsair KD465 on January 4th 1945. Tragedy struck Slinger later that same day when Corsair KD546, flown by S/LL G.A. Anderson RCN, dropped its port wing on landing and swung to port collapsing the undercarriage leg, the aircraft came to rest on the Deck Landing Control Officers platform killing the DLCO S/Lt(A) F.E. Ure RNVR.

On January 11th 1945 Slinger and CVEs Khedive and Speaker together with a destroyer escort of Volage, Venus, Eskimo, Wolverine and Whitehall sailed from the Clyde bound for Gibraltar on the first leg of passage to Ceylon, under command of Captain B. L. Moore, Speaker, Senior Officer. The group of ships called at Gibraltar on the 16th, then Valletta Harbour Malta on the 19th before arriving at Alexandria on January 22nd, entering the Suez Canal on the 24th for transit to the Red Sea. After a brief stop at Aden to refuel and store ship on January 28th the convoy steamed straight across the Indian Ocean to Colombo, arriving there on February 4th. Here the CVEs were to part company, Speaker and Slinger departed for Sydney on the 6th, Khedive remained in Ceylon to join the East Indies fleet.

 

Passage to Australia

Operational flying and training was to be conducted on route, four more aircraft accidents occurred during this period resulting in five damaged aircraft but with no serious injuries. On February 8th the traditional 'crossing the line' ceremony was observed aboard Speaker and Slinger which had crossed the equator at 21:00 hours the day before; the festivities took up most of the day. The celebrations were soon forgotten though as on February 11th both ships were called to assist in a search for survivors from a torpedoed American troop ship, the S.S. Peter Silvester, 1000 miles off the coast of Western Australia.

 

HMS Speaker in company with Slinger on passage to Sydney. Photo: Courtesy of David Yates

 

The aircraft of 1830 and 1845 squadrons conducted aerial searches but after five days no trace was found and Speaker continued on to Sydney leaving the area late on the 16th, Slinger remained to continue searching until the 19th before she had to break off and proceed to Sydney. On arrival off Sydney on February 25th 1845 squadron flew off all serviceable aircraft to RNAS Schofields (Mobile Naval Air Base No.3). New South Wales; three unserviceable airframes, which had suffered damage during the search on the 14th and 15th, were off loaded and taken by road to RNAS Bankstown (Mobile Naval Air Base No.2), the ship was secured alongside at Circular Quay in Sydney on the 28th.

 

Operations with the Air Train

Work began to prepare the ship to join the 30th Aircraft Carrier Squadron (30 ACS; at that time comprising the CVEs Chaser, Ruler, Speaker, Striker and Slinger under the command of Commodore Carne in Striker), her pennant number was changed to R313 for operations in the Pacific theatre. She was to be employed as a forward area replenishment carrier and would only carry replenishment loads of spare airframes for issue to other carriers whilst at sea as a part of the Air Train, the aviation logistic support element of the British pacific Fleet's logistics life-line 'the Fleet Train'. This was a collection of merchant and military vessels which supplied the fleet with fuel, food, armaments and other stores. Based in Sydney, with forward bases at Manus in the Admiralty Islands and Leyte in the Philippines, the Fleet Train operated over a distance of some 2,500 miles each way.

On March 1st the ship's company set about painting the ship, applying her new Pacific camouflage scheme and new pennant number, work also commenced loading stores. The following day Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser, the C-in-C, visited the ship and gave a pep talk to the crew about the importance of the work of the Air Train. Slinger was to be employed as a forward area replenishment carrier, operating as part of Task Force 112. To carry out this task the ship was loaded with a replenishment load of 25 airframes, made up of 10 Corsairs, 7 Hellcats, 3 Seafires, 1 Avenger and 4 Fireflies for issue to the fleet during replenishment periods; this load was to be carried in addition to her squadron.

 

Operations: march 10th - April 18th

Once loading was completed Slinger sailed for Manus in the Admiralty Islands on the morning of March 11th; 1845 squadron re-embarked later that morning. On arrival at Manus on the 17th Slinger joined the ships of TG 112, the first forward area replenishment group which was assembled in the deep water anchorage of Seadler Harbour. A number of the ship's officers went ashore to the newly opened Royal Naval Air Station on Ponam Island, HMS Nabaron, a short distance up the coast. This proved to be a reunion with their old CO, Captain Bingley who was now in command of the Forward Area MONAB (Mobile Naval Air Base No.4) which occupied and operated the former US navy air strip on the island.

The first elements of the logistic support group, Task Unit 112.2.1 consisted of the escort carrier Striker (Commodore 30th ACS), escorted by Crane, the Findhorn and Whirlwind. And Task Unit 112.2.5, consisted of the oilers San Adolpho, San Ambrosio and Cedardale, with Speaker --for CAP duties- escorted by Pheasant and Kempenfelt left Manus on March 18th and would be in position to replenish the elements of the British Pacific Fleet, Task Force 57, when they prepared to begin Operation 'Iceberg'.

 

HMS Slinger Anchored in San Pedro Bay, Leyte Gulf.  Photo: Courtesy of David YatesLoading spare drop tanks while anchored in San Pedro Bay, Leyte Gulf.  Photo: Courtesy of David Yates

Left: HMS SLINGER anchored in San Pedro Bay, Leyte Gulf. Right: Loading spare drop tanks while anchored in San Pedro Bay, Leyte Gulf. Photos: Courtesy of David Yates

 

Slinger was appointed as convoy leader of the second convoy of logistic support ships, comprising of Lothian (flag ship Rear-Admiral, Fleet Train), Empire Spearhead, Artifex, Bacchus, Wave King, Wave Monarch, Arndale, Dingledale, Fort Colville, Aase Maersk, Denbighshire, Robert Maersk, Thyra S., Hermelin, and Tyne, which left Manus on March 19th bound for the Philippines. The convoy arrived at Leyte Gulf on the 26th and anchored in San Pedro Bay.

After refuelling and restoring, the Logistic Support Group Task Unit 112.2.3, including Slinger, left Leyte on March 29th to proceed to the replenishment area east of Luzon, a rectangular area which covered e 5000 square miles of ocean. At this time there were three CVEs in the Logistic Support Group, Speaker provided Combat Air patrols (CAP) for the Fleet Train while Striker and Slinger provided replacement aircraft and aircrews.

Between the 2nd and the 5th of April, Task Force 57 took on fuel and stores from the vessels of the fleet train. Slinger issued 22 replacement aircraft to the fleet carriers and recovered 2 'flyable duds' 'non-flyable duds were ditched overboard from the fleet carriers after their engines, and any salvageable equipment had been removed as there was no means to transfer them to the replenishment carriers whilst at sea. Demand for replacement Corsairs and aircrew was so high that 1845 squadron was disbanded on the 5th, her aircraft and aircrew were dispersed to HM Ships Formidable and Victorious.
 

A replacement Hellcat is readied for take off, part of Slinger’s replenishment load for issue to the fleet carriers of the BPF during a period of replenishment and refuelling. Photo: Courtesy of John LawsonThe burial at sea of Petty Officer Mitchell one of the casualties transferred from  HMS Indefatigable, he died on board Slinger on April 6th 1945 as the ship departed the refuelling area to return to Leyte.  Photo: Courtesy of David Yates

Left: A replacement Hellcat is readied for take off, part of SLINGER's replenishment load for issue to the fleet carriers of the BPF during a period of replenishment and refuelling. Photo: Courtesy of John Lawson Right: The burial at sea of Petty Officer Mitchell one of the casualties transferred from HMS INDEFATIGABLE, he died on board SLINGER on April 6th 1945 as the ship departed the refuelling area to return to Leyte. Photo: Courtesy of David Yates

 

Later on the 5th casualties were embarked for transport to the Hospital ship Oxfordshire at Leyte; these were ferried across by jackstay transfer. 16 men came from HMS Indefatigable which had received a direct hit by a Kamikaze aircraft several days before. It struck the flight deck adjacent to the island, destroying the flight deck sick bay, killing 14 and wounding 16. Slinger withdrew from the replenishment area on the 6th after receiving further casualties from Illustrious, Indomitable, and Victorious and headed back to Leyte; a burial at sea took place later that day for Petty Officer Mitchell, one the casualties taken off Indefatigable, who died of his injuries. Slinger also suffered a casualty from amongst her own crew on the 6th when 19 year old Able Seaman David Lias RNVR, was discovered to be missing; he presumably fell overboard and drowned.

 

Operations: April 19th - May 27th

Slinger reached Leyte on April 8th and transferred the wounded to HMHS Oxfordshire, she sailed the next day for Manus to receive another replenishment load. During the passage to Manus, fate dealt Slinger another blow when increasing to maximum speed she began to shake from stem to stern, these strong vibrations subsided when her speed was reduced to 12 knots.

Slinger had been struck by the bane of the 'Bogue class' CVE's: her LP rotor, part of the reduction gearing that harnessed the steam turbines to the propeller shaft, had begun shedding teeth. Slinger was unlucky in that she (and Trumpeter) did not have this problem rectified before leaving the US, the modifications for RN service being carried out in the UK. The other vessels in her class were modified in Vancouver ad their LP rotors were checked and corrected while in the dockyard. The reduction in speed meant that Slinger had to drop out of the convoy and make her way towards Manus independently.

It was decided after radio messages were exchanged with RAFT and C-in-C BPF that Slinger should proceed back through the Islands at best speed to Brisbane to under go repairs in the newly opened Cairncross Dry Dock, another unfortunate `First' - the first carrier ever to use it, just as she had been the first carrier in London. Slinger Arrived at Brisbane on April 19th but was unable to enter the dry dock until the 28th. The huge gear wheel that formed the LP rotor had to be taken out through the hangar deck and when examined it was found that many teeth had been damaged and these had to reshaped on a lathe to make all the teeth of a uniform size, about two-thirds of their original width. The repairs were to take four weeks, during which time VE Day was celebrated on May 8th.

Upon putting back to sea on May 27th one side effect of the repair  became apparent, Slimier could now only achieve a maximum speed of 12 knots and therefore could no longer conduct flying operations; as a result she was reallocated to the role of Ferry Carrier, transporting replacement aircraft from Australia to Manus and the Philippines. This change in role saw Slinger effectively become an auxiliary vessel, accordingly her pennant number was again changed, this time to A452.

 

HMS Slinger at anchor in Sydney July 1945 wearing her auxiliary pennant number A452. Photo: Courtesy of David Yates

Ferry operations: May 29th 'August 20th

On arrival in Sydney on the 29th work began on loading stores and embarking passengers in preparation for a round trip to Brisbane departing on June 3rd and arriving Brisbane on the 5th. After unloading the ship sailed for Sydney later that day on the return leg, during this passage very high seas and squalls were experienced adding a day to the voyage. On June 8th Slinger sailed into Sydney and after passing under the great bridge moored at Pyrmont in readiness to embark her first ferry load.

At the beginning of July there was another change of commanding officer, Captain Moore leaving to take up the post of Senior British Naval Liaison Officer, Philippine. He was replaced as CO by the ship's executive officer Commander JG Hopkins RN, an ex-submariner he had joined Slinger in February. Slinger's new role also saw a reduction in the size of the ship's company, a much smaller crew was now required so many men were drafted to the RN Barracks, HMS Golden Hind in Sydney.

 

Two views of HMS SLINGER loaded with a mixed bag of airframes, including Corsairs Barracudas and Avengers in Brisbane for transport to Manus. Photos: Courtesy of John Lawson

Slinger next sailed as a ferry carrier bound for Manus and the Philippines carrying spare airframes as part of the build-up for the anticipated invasion of Japan now that Okinawa had been taken. At the beginning of August the ship was moored in Seadler Harbour when the news of the first atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima came over the radio. During this period the ship carried at least one cargo that comprised of 120 airframes.


Round trip to Hong Kong: September - October 1945

After VJ Day (August 15th) Slinger was recalled to Australia to join the humanitarian relief efforts that were to commence with the liberation of territories formerly held by the Japanese. On August 17th Slinger anchored of Ponam Island and loaded a cargo of damaged aircraft for transport to T.A.M.Y. I (HMS Nabsford, Archerfield, Brisbane), and sailed for Australia. After unloading in Brisbane she proceeded to Sydney where she arrived at the end of the month to begin outfitting as a makeshift troop transport. Her hanger was to become a vast dormitory outfitted with tiers of bunks, and spaces previously used by the sir engineering department were put to use.

On September 5th the advance party of HMS Nabcatcher (Mobile Naval Air Base No.8) embarked. HMS Slinger sailed for Hong Kong on the 9th carrying men, food and medical supplies for the relief of the colony. On route she called at Brisbane to take on more stores and Mindanao Bay in the Philippines to refuel.

 

HMS Slinger alongside in Hong Kong unloading food and medical supplies for the colony.  Photo: Courtesy of E.C. McCarthy

Left: Personnel of MONAB 8 parade on the flight deck of HMS Slinger leaving Sydney for Hong Kong, note the small number of Barracuda aircraft ranged aft. Photo: Courtesy of E.C. McCarthy. ght:  HMS Slinger alongside in Hong Kong unloading food and medical supplies for the colony. Photo: Courtesy of E.C. McCarthy

In early October the ship arrived in Hong Kong and work began unloading stores in Kowloon; the work was undertaken by former Japanese Naval personnel who proved to be very efficient at the task. Japanese prisoners were employed extensively in the colony in the early months after the surrender, working parties marching to and from assignments were a common sight. After only a few days alongside work had to be suspended as Slinger and the vessels of the BPF in Hong Kong were ordered out to sea to ride out a typhoon which was fast approaching the colony. A small working party remained ashore at Kai Tak airfield which was being reopened by MONAB 8, which was where much of the offloaded stores were being taken. The ships of the BPF spent five days at sea riding the typhoon before it was safe to re-enter Hong Kong. Work resumed unloading the remaining stores and the embarkation of the civilian prisoners of war from the Stanley Road Prison Camp began.

The passengers were civil servants, shipping company officials, servicemen and their families. also embarked were three prisoners under guard; these men, Major Boon, the Camp Commandant, an elderly Army Lieutenant anda Sergeant, had been accused by their fellow prisoners of collaborating with the Japanese and were to face court martial proceeding back in Britain. The prisoners were under the charge of Lt. Hughes, the ship's gunnery officer; he was also given custody of documents about the Camp and photographs of the Japanese camp personnel which were to be delivered to Naval Intelligence.

Upon her arrival back in Sydney Slinger came alongside the wharf at Pyrmont, in Sydney Docks; large crowds met the ship, many were there to meet family members and loved ones. Major Boon and his fellow prisoners were transferred to the cruiser HMS Devonshire to be taken home for trial. Slinger then sailed for her last round trip to the Admiralty Islands, via Brisbane, on arrival she lay off the reef at Ponam Island to load vehicles and equipment from MONAB 4 for ferrying to Australia. Slinger arrived back in Sydney in early November.

HMS Slinger alongside in Sydney shortly before sailing for the UK in November 1945 – note she has reverted to her original pennant number of 26. Photo: Courtesy of  Mike Roshier

HMS Slinger alongside in Sydney shortly before sailing for the UK in November 1945 'note she has reverted to her original pennant number of 26. Photo: Courtesy of Mike Roshier

 

Passage to the UK: November 10th 'December 27th

Slinger moved to a mooring alongside at Sirius Cove, where she began loading passengers and stores. The bulk of her passengers were personnel of MONAB 4 who began embarking on November 5th. There was also a contingent of female nursing staff taking passage to the UK. Major Boon also arrived back on board, having been transferred back to Slinger after a spell in hospital in Sydney; Devonshire had already sailed for the UK as planned without him.

All loading completed, HMS Slinger slipped her moorings in Sirius Cove, Sydney, at 11:00 hours on the morning of Saturday November 10th 1945, bound for Fremantle. From there she made for Colombo to embark more passengers before making for the Suez Canal. The ship briefly called into Gibraltar before beginning the final leg of the journey, local leave was granted and the captain and navigator went ashore. While anchored in Gibraltar Roads a storm front developed, the wind soon increased to gale force and began to act on the ship causing her to drag her anchor and there was a danger that she would crash into the North Mole. The weather was too severe for the captain and other officers to return to the ship by boat, so the officer of the watch decided to take the initiative and called for the engine room to get the ship underway. Having checked the ship's drift the anchor was secured and Slinger put to sea to weather the gale. The Captain and liberty men were re-embarked once the storm had abated.

The foul weather continued to dog Slinger, all the way across the Bay of Biscay and up the English Channel, as she made port at Portsmouth on December 22nd. After unloading some of her passengers, cargo and mail from the Far East she sailed for Plymouth. The sea was so rough on the afternoon of Christmas Eve when Slinger arrived off Plymouth sound she could not pass the breakwater, instead she anchored in Cawsand Bay until the weather eased sufficiently to allow her to secure alongside at No 5 Jetty, Devonport naval dockyard on December 27th. Major Boon was put ashore later that day, handed into the custody of an armed escort for transportation to Exeter prison to await trial.

Decommissioning and return to US Custody: December 29th 0 February 27th

Once all the passengers had departed from the ship, leave was granted while work began removing certain items of Admiralty equipment from the ship; she was no longer required for service in the RN and was to be paid off and returned under the terms of the Lend-lease agreement. On January 16th 1946 Slinger left Devonport for the Clyde to be de-stored in preparation for her decommissioning. On the 25th she left the Clyde for the last time and proceeded to Norfolk, Virginia.

CVE '32 was returned to U.S. Navy custody on February 27th 1946 at Norfolk Navy Yard. She was stricken for disposal on April 12th 1946 and put up for sale. She was sold into mercantile service on November 21st 1946 when she was purchased by the Robin Line (part of the Seas Shipping Co., Inc., of New York); on completion of her conversion into a passenger freighter she was renamed 'Robin Mowbray'. She operated on the company's weekly New York to South and East Africa run until she was sold for scrap and was broken up in Taiwan starting on January 29th 1970.


 

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

US Naval Station, Seattle, Washington

US Naval Station,  Manchester, Washington

Puget Sound  Navy Yard War Diaries

US Thirteenth Naval District War Diaries

Norfolk Navy Yard War Diaries

Mew York Navy Yard War Diaries

Miscellaneous documents


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Comments (2)

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John Atkinson (UK) says...
My father, Sidney Joined Slinger in 1943 serving as a steward leaving her at Chatham. Probably before she hit the mine.
19th June 2016 4:37pm
Charles Morris (eltham, Australia) says...
I served on HMS Slinger as an AM(L) from January 1945 until January 1946. My service career ended as a Commander (WE ) with the RAN in 1980. My age is 88 and feeling all of it.This paper was extremely helpful in providing detail of facts that I knew but could not give name to. No documentation that I could find concerning our convoy to Australia mentioned Slinger sailing into the Grand Harbour at Malta where the OHIO still rested on the bottom alongside the wharf. I began to wonder if my memory ... Read More
24th September 2014 9:45am
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