Sunday 27 April 2014

HMS Illustrious.

HMS ILLUSTRIOUS   20-Apr-42   to   22-Apr-42

HMS Illustrious had been delayed completion to allow the fitting of radar before her commissioning which finally occurred 24-Apr-40. Built in Barrow.
LOA    744ft
Beam   96ft
Draft   28ft
Speed  30.5kts
Displ    23100 tons
Crew   900 plus 350 aircrew
Amra   5 x 8 barrel 2lb pompom AA, 3 x 1 x 40mm Bofors AA, 19 x 2 x 20mm Oerlikon AA, 14 x 1 x 20mm Oerlikon AA, 36 aircraft.

HMS Illustrious had been severely damaged by aircraft in January 1941 whilst assisting Malta convoys and eventually ended up in Norfolk, USA after passing through Suez Canal and round the Cape of Good Hope. She finally left Norfolk 12-December 1941 in company with HMS Formidable. In atrocious weather Illustrious ran her bow into the stern of Formidable causing severe damage. Illustrious went to Greenock for repairs which were completed in March 1942. 23-Mar-42 she joined Convoy WS17 bound for Freetown.

HMS Illustrious.

It appears that there was some sort of a fire in the hanger deck and I think that on 31-Mar-42 she was detached from the convoy to head to Freetown for repairs. The rest of the convoy arrived on 6-Apr-42 and left again 11-Apr-42. I think the Illustrious must have still been under repair when the convoy left and later she made an independent passage to Durban. In the records of 829 Naval Air Squadron it records that the Illustrious called in at Cape Town. I assume that Dad boarded her on 20-Apr-42. The distance from Cape Town to Durban is roughly 1000 miles so Illustrious would only have needed about 25kts to arrive on 22-Apr-42 as is stated in Dads record, which is a lot less than her top speed of 30kts. Then Dad would have to wait for his next ship to arrive.

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