For Posterity's Sake         

A Royal Canadian Navy Historical Project

 

HMS NABOB

 

Ruler Class Escort Aircraft Carrier

 

 

CELER ET AUDAX

 

SWIFT AND DARING

HMS Nabob down by the stern after being torpedoed.  Even though severely damaged, she managed to return to base 1070 miles away.

Source: IWM Official Admiralty Collection A25368

 

Laid down: 30 Oct 1942

Launched: 09 Mar 1943

Commissioned: 07 Sep 1943

Paid off: 10 Oct 1944

Fate: Broken up in 1978

 

Laid down as the merchant vessel Edisto, but converted to an aircraft carrier while building, she was commissioned HMS Nabob at Tacoma, Wash., on 07 Sep 1943. After working up, she entered Burrard Drydock at Vancouver on 01 Nov for modification to RN standards, completing 12 Jan 1944. About this time it was arranged that she and a near-sister Puncher, should be manned largely by Canadians while remaining RN ships. 

 

After training the ship went to San Diego and took the 852 FAA-Squadron on board, equipped with Avenger aircraft. She then proceeded with HMCS New Waterford via Panama Canal to Norfolk, where 45 P-51 Mustang fighters were embarked as deck load and U.S. Army Air Force personnel was taken on board as passengers when the ship made passage to UK in convoy VT-10. In April 1944, four Wildcat Mk.V fighters were added to the 852 FAA-Squadron, while a detachment of the 856 FAA-Squadron, equipped with Avenger Mk.II aircraft joined the escort carrier in June. Nabob joined the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow on 01 Aug 1944 and took part in two Operations that month off the coast of Norway.  The first operation was Operation Offspring, a mine laying operation off Norway; the 2nd was an attack on the German battleship Tirpitz.


Departing on 18 Aug 1944, HMS Nabob (D 77) (Capt. Horatio Nelson Lay) participated in Operation Goodwood and formed together with HMS Trumpeter  and HMS Kent the second group of carriers from the Home Fleet (Adm Moore), which covered the convoy JW-59 and launched further attacks on the German battleship Tirpitz in the Altenfjord. It was planned that the Avengers from the escort carriers fly attacks on German airfields on 20 Aug and to lay mines before attacking the battleship, but bad weather prevented any attacks and the task force was withdrawing, when U-354 encountered them on her search for the convoy northwest of the North Cape in the Barents Sea.


At 01:14 hours on 22 Aug 1944, the German Submarine U-354 fired a spread of FAT torpedoes and hit HMS Nabob with one torpedo in the starboard side aft, resulting in a hole about 32 feet square located aft of the engine room and below the waterline. At 01:22 hours, the U-boat fired a Gnat to finish off the carrier, but struck HMS Bickerton instead, which was about to refuel from the escort carrier at the time of the attack. The frigate was subsequently scuttled by a torpedo from HMS Vigilant. The stern of Nabob quickly sank 15 feet and the power went off. The fans in the engine room stopped and the main engines had to be shut down because the temperature soared to 150 degrees. As the ship laid dead in the water, 205 men were evacuated from the ship and transferred to the Canadian destroyer HMCS Algonquin by boats and Carley floats, two weeks later they were transferred to HMS Zest near the Faeroe Islands and finally brought to Scapa Flow. The remaining crew worked hard to get the ship under control. Emergency diesel generators were used to get power for the pumps to limit the flooding, but the engine room bulkheads bulged inward from the pressure of the sea that had rushed in through the hole. Heavy gear was ditched or brought to the bow to improve the trim, including the two 5 inch guns, which were removed with cutting torches and dropped overboard. This helped raise the stern so there was not as much pressure on the drive shaft bearings. In the early evening, the escort carrier was underway again at 10 knots. Early the next morning, an HF/DF bearing and a surface contact indicated that a U-boat was in the area. Two Avengers managed to start and kept the U-boat under water for three and a half hours. The first returned and made a good landing, but the second crashed and damaged six other aircrafts on deck, which were later jettisoned. On August 27, the ship reached Scapa Flow under her own power after travelling 1100 miles since being hit. As the galley was destroyed the skeleton crew lived on short rations and rum for the five days it took to get the ship home. Nabob had lost 21 man; 815 of her crew survived.


HMS Nabob was deemed not worth repairing, towed to Rosyth, beached and abandoned. Paid off on 30 Sep 1944, retained in nominal reserve, but was cannibalized for spare parts for sister ships. On 16 Mar 1946 she was returned to the US Navy and stricken. Sold for scrap in Mar 1947 in the Netherlands. However, she was resold to the Norddeutscher Lloyd, converted to the German motor merchant Nabob until 1952 and used as a civilian training vessel for the post war German merchant service. In 1968 renamed Glory and registered in Panama. In Dec 1977 sold for scrap in Taiwan.

 

Photos and Documents          Ship's company photos          HMS Nabob          HMS Nabob - Fly Navy

 

History of HMS Nabob - Royal Navy Research Archive          Photo Gallery of HMS Nabob - Royal Navy Research Archive

 

REMEMBERING CHARLIE - From the memoirs of Lt Donald Bowman, RCNVR

Charlie and I literally bumped into each other on a street corner in Saskatoon about a year after war’s end. I met Charlie in basic training at Cornwallis in Nova Scotia. He was tall, athletic, blonde and friendly. When I looked at him on the street corner, I wasn’t certain it was Charlie. The confident Charlie was gone. The new Charlie was haggard and untidy. It was nearly noon and I invited him home for lunch. Muriel always gracious, welcomed Charlie and adroitly adjusted the menu. When coffee arrived, Charlie’s hands shook so much he required both hands to raise the cup to his lips. Gradually I coaxed him to tell us what happened to him.

After Cornwallis, Charlie joined HMS Nabob, a baby flat-top aircraft carrier. Off the coast of Norway, the ship took a torpedo. Charlie was ejected from his bunk. When he picked himself up from the deck, water was up his ankles. Charlie was first on the ladder and three friends were following. As Charlie emerged through the hatch, the command ‘close all white watertight doors and hatches’ boomed from the loudspeakers. A seamen stationed at that point slammed down the cover and tightened the turnbuckles. Charlie’s screams of protest were ignored and he was physically restrained from opening the cover.

Nabob was severely damaged, but kept afloat. It took 10 days to be towed to harbour. There were about 30 fatalities, mostly caused by drowning. It was a navy version of death by friendly fire. Militarily, the captain acted wisely. The rating who closed the hatch acted properly, instantly obeying an order. The captain was probably commended for saving the ship. Every 11 November, I remember Charlie and I eventually fall asleep, watching him and his three buddies endlessly climb the ladder and especially, the sailor who closed the hatch.

 

Webmaster's note:  Charlie's last name is not known, nor are the names of his 3 friends - but those 3 friends are listed below with the 21 ratings who died that day.

 

Commanding Officers

Capt Horatio Nelson Lay, OBE, RCN - 15 Oct 1943 - 30 Sep 1944

 

 

     In memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice    

     Lest We Forget     

BEACH, John A.

LAF (O), RN

MPK - 22 Aug 1944

CHIZY, Harold I.

SBA, RCNVR

 killed - 22 Aug 1944

CONNOLLY, Charles W.

L/Ck (S), RCNVR

killed - 22 Aug 1944

CRAWFORD, Andrew

LSA, RN

MPK - 22 Aug 1944

CURRIE, George H.

SA, RCNVR

killed - 22 Aug 1944

FROHOCK, John

AM (A) 2c, RN

MPK - 22 Aug 1944

GOUDIE, Owen R.

LAM (O), RN

MPK - 22 Aug 1944

JONES, John C,

L/Stwd, RCNR

killed - 22 Aug 1944

LEWIS, Joseph

AB, RCN

killed - 22 Aug 1944

LYNER, George R.

AM (E) 1c, RN
MPK - 22 Aug 1944

MacDONALD, Duncan A.

AB, RCNVR

killed - 22 Aug 1944

MacKENNEY, Arnold V.

SA, RCNVR

killed  - 22 Aug 2944

MELROSE, David

AB, RCNR

killed - 22 Aug 1944

RATTLEY, Philip A.

Act/EA 4c, RN

MPK - 22 Aug 1944

ROTHWELL, Peter T.

Ty/Act/AM 4c, RN

killed - 22 Aug 1944

STAINES, Frederick C.

SA, RCNVR

MPK - 22 Aug 1944

STANTON, Cyril A.W.

AM (E) 2c, RN

MPK - 22 Aug 1944

STEPHENS, Gordon H.

LRM (AW), RN

MPK - 22 Aug 1944

TUCCI, Albert

AB, RCNVR

killed - 22 Aug 1944

WHITEHOUSE, Eric

RPO, RCN

killed - 22 Aug 1944

WILKES, Harry
Stwd, RN

MPK - 22 Aug 1944

 

 

 

 

 

 

     In memory of those who have crossed the bar    

They shall not be forgotten

 

(s) - Survived the torpedoing of HMS Nabob

A-F

 

 

G-J

 

 

K-N

 

 

O-R

 

 

S-T

 

 

U-Z

 

 

Former Crew Members

 

(s) - Survived the torpedoing of HMS Nabob

Bellamy, Morris (s)

 

Block, Ronald (s)

 

Clements, James, Writer (s)


Collins, Al, Pay-Lt (s)

 

Cookman, Al (s)

 

Cooper, Cecil Ross, V60196  - 

 

Delaney, Bernard

 

Duncan, Jack (s)

Forbes, Gordon, AB (s)

 

Gordon, Robert, G., Navigator's Yeoman (s)

 

Hill, William, Reverend - Commissioning crew. (s)

 

Hobson, Nick (s)

 

Hutchins, Victor Royen, Ck - 1944  (s)

Mainwaring, John (s)

 

McDonald, Glen, NavO (s)

 

Meredith, George (s)

 

Powers, Robert W.,  Stoker 

 

Schiller, Lawrence, LS (s)

 

Zielke, H.L., Stoker (s)

 

Photos and Documents

 

HMS Nabob

From the collection of John C. Jones

Courtesy of Bruce Jones

HMS Nabob

From the collection of Leonard Love

 Courtesy of Nicky Love

HMS Nabob

From the collection of John C. Jones

Courtesy of Bruce Jones

 

     

 

(1) Aircraft landing of HMS Nabob  (2) Aircraft taking off from HMS Nabob - RMS Queen Mary below aircraft  (3) Aircraft taking off from HMS Nabob - Firth of Forth railway bridge and unknown escort carrier in background

Photos 1 & 2 from the collection of Leonard Love /  Courtesy of Nicky Love

Photo 3 from the collection of John C. Jones / Courtesy of Bruce Jones

 

Deisel depart crew of HMCS Nabob

Front row, George Meredith and Leonard Love (2nd and 3rd from left respectively)

From the collection of Leonard Love

 Courtesy of Nicky Love

 

HMS Nabob - Torpedoed!

 

              

 

(1) HMS Nabob, down by the stern after being hit by a torpedo from U-354. Note the crew all on the port side of the flight deck to help with the ship's trim  (2) Frigate HMS Bickerton - struck by a GNAT torpedo from U-354 that was meant to finish off HMS Nabob. After her crew was removed, HMS Bickerton was sunk by a torpedo from HMS Vigilant. (3) HMS Kempthorne astern of HMS Nabob

 

                 

 

(3) Life rafts and floats on the flight deck of HMS Nabob.  HMS Trumpeter astern of HMS Nabob  (4) HMCS Algonquin alongside HMS Nabob  (5 & 6) Back at Scapa Flow, the Commanding Officer addresses the crew  (7) Crew of HMS Nabob formed up on the flight deck - possible a service for those lost.

 

DND/RCN photos (with the exception of photos 1 and 2)

From the collection of Leonard Love

 Courtesy of Nicky Love

 

Newspaper article on the torpedoing of HMS Nabob

From the collection of Leonard Love

 Courtesy of Nicky Love

Newspaper article on the torpedoing of HMS Nabob

From the collection of John C. Jones

Courtesy of Bruce Jones

Leonard Love, George Meredith and others carrying one of their shipmates who was killed when HMS Nabob was torpedoed

From the collection of Leonard Love

 Courtesy of Nicky Love

 

Buried with full Naval Honours

 

Service for the twenty one members of the crew of the escort carrier Nabob who lost their lives when their ship was torpedoed during an attack on the Tirpitz

 

           

 

(1) The firing party from HMS Cocharane arriving at Douglas Bank Cemetery at Rosyth

 

Photos 1, 3 & 5 Source: IWM Admiralty Official Collection

 

Photos 2 & 3 from the collection of John C. Jones / Courtesy of Bruce Jones

 

Crew Members of Nabob Among Men Decorated

Hamilton Spectator 15 Jan 1945

Courtesy of Mary Kienapple

HMS Nabob jacket patch

From the collection of Harold Stevens

Courtesy of Rob Stevens

Merchant Vessel Nabob - former HMS Nabob

From the collection of Leonard Love

 Courtesy of Nicky Love

Newspaper article on the visit of the merchant vessel Nabob (formerly HMS Nabob) to Vancouver, BC, summer 1962

From the collection of Leonard Love

 Courtesy of Nicky Love

Poem - Ode to Nabob

From the collection of John C. Jones

Courtesy of Bruce Jones

22 Aug 1944 - 50 Years later

 

           

 

(1) Newspaper article on the 50th Anniversary of the torpedoing of HMS Nabob - 1994  (2) Souvenir of the crew reunion on the 50th Anniversary of the torpedoing of HMS Nabob  (3) Reunion group photo  (4 & 5) Letter from BC Premier Bill Van Der Zalm to Leonard Love and the attendees of the Nabob reunion

 

22 Aug 1944 - 60 Years later

 

  

 

Newspaper articles on the 60th Anniversary of the torpedoing of HMS Nabob - 2004

 

From the collection of Leonard Love

 Courtesy of Nicky Love

Flyer from the RCNA on a book about HMS Nabob

From the collection of Leonard Love

 Courtesy of Nicky Love

 

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