HMS Eagle (94)
Aircraft Carrier of the Eagle class
|Navy||The Royal Navy|
|Built by||Armstrong (Newcastle-on-Tyne, U.K.) : John Brown Shipbuilding & Engineering Company Ltd. (Clydebank, Scotland)|
|Laid down||22 Jan 1913|
|Launched||8 Jun 1918|
|Commissioned||26 Feb 1924|
|Lost||11 Aug 1942|
|Loss position||38.05N, 03.02E|
At the outbreak of World War II, HMS Eagle was at Singapore and in October 1939 she was part of Force I hunting for the German ship pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee.
For the first two months of 1940 she was escorting troop transports in the Indian Ocean but on 14 March 1940 was damaged by an internal explosion in her foreward bomb room, when 13 ratings were killed, and she returned to Singapore for repairs.
HMS Eagle joined the Mediterranean fleet in May 1940 after the departure of HMS Glorious, and on 5 July her aircraft attacked enemy shipping in Tobruk. They sank the Italian destroyer Zeffiro, the merchant ships Manzoni (3,955 tons) and Serenitas (5,171 tons) besides damaging the Liguria (15,354 tons) which was later scuttled. After four days she was in action off Calabria when her aircraft attacked the Italian fleet. During her return to Alexandria after this engagement she was heavily bombed and four Italian bombers were shot down during the attacks. On 20 July 1940, on another attack on shipping in Tobruk, her aircraft sank the Italian destroyers Ostro and Nembo as well as the merchant ship Sereno (2,333 tons). On 22 August her aircraft attacked and sank the Italian submarine Iride in the Gulf of Bomba. At the end of the month she took part in Operation 'Hats' in a reinforcement of the Mediterranean fleet, and her aircraft attacked the airfield at Maritza, Rhodes.
For the next six months she provided cover for convoys in the Eastern Mediterranean, her aircraft attacked Italian airfields, laid mines, and attacked shipping.
HMS Eagle took part in one of the most memorable Fleet Air Arm events in history. On 11 November 1940, five of her aircraft which were embarked in HMS Illustrious took part in the attack on Italian battleships at Taranto.
Subsequently, she was ordered through the Suez canal in March 1941. Her aircraft flew to Port Sudan and assisted in the destruction of the Italian ships at Massawa and in the Red Sea. She arrived at Simonstown, South Africa on 8th May and then proceeded to Freetown, remaining on the South Atlantic station until October 1941. On 6 June 1941 her aircraft sank the German merchant Elbe (9,179 tons) and on 15 June 1941, in conjunction with the British light cruiser HMS Dunedin, she intercepted the U-boat supply ship Lothringen (10,746 tons) which surrendered about 1000 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands.
After refitting in the UK she returned back to the Mediterranean early in 1942. In February 1942 she carried aircraft for Malta and took part in Operations "Spotter" and 'Picket". In June 1942, Sea Hurricanes from 801 Squadron on HMS Eagle provided top cover for Harpoon, the essential supply convoy heading for Malta. Upon entering the Mediterranean, the convoy came under almost constant attack from the Germans and Italians.
She was later involved in the famous August 1942 convoy (Operation 'Pedestal') when 41 warships fought through just five out of 14 merchantmen to lift the Malta siege. On 11 August 1942 whilst still in the Malta bound convoy HMS Eagle (Capt. Lachlan Donald Mackintosh, RN) was hit by 4 torpedoes from the German submarine U-73 and sank in position 38º05'N, 03º02'E. Two officers and 158 ratings were lost but 927 of her ship's company including Captain Mackintosh, were picked up by the British destroyers HMS Laforey, HMS Lookout and the British tug HMS Jaunty.
The wreck is located in the Mediterranean Sea, 70 nautical miles south of Cape Salinas, Majorca (the Balearic Islands).
Hit by U-boat
|U-boat Attack||See our U-boat attack entry for the HMS Eagle|
Commands listed for HMS Eagle (94)
Please note that we're still working on this section.
|1||Capt. Arthur Robin Moore Bridge, RN||16 Jun 1939||26 May 1941|
|2||Capt. Edmund Gerard Noel Rushbrooke, DSC, RN||26 May 1941||27 Jun 1942|
|3||Capt. Lachlan Donald Mackintosh, DSC, RN||27 Jun 1942||11 Aug 1942|
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Noteable events involving Eagle include:
8 Oct 1940
A British convoy with the merchants Memnon (7506 GRT), Lanarkshire (11275 GRT), Clan Macauley (10492 GRT) and Clan Ferguson (7347 GRT) left Alexandria for Malta on 8 October 1940. This convoy was escorted by the British Anti-Aircraft cruisers HMS Calcutta (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN), HMS Coventry (Capt. D. Gilmour, RN) and the Australian destroyers HMS Stuart (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, DSO, RAN), HMS Voyager (Cdr. J.C. Morrow, DSO, RAN), HMS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RAN) and the British destroyer HMS Wryneck (Cdr. R.H.D. Lane, RN).
Cover was provided by the Mediterranean Fleet (Admiral Cunningham) with the British battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. D.B. Fisher, CBE, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN), HMS Malaya (Capt. A.F.E. Palliser, DSC, RN), HMS Ramillies (Capt. H.T. Baillie-Grohman, OBE, DSO, RN), the British aircraft carriers HMS Illustrious (Capt. D.W. Boyd, DSC, RN), HMS Eagle (Capt. A.R.M. Bridge, RN), the British heavy cruiser HMS York (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), the British light cruisers HMS Gloucester (Capt. H.A. Rowley, RN), HMS Liverpool (Capt. P.A. Read, RN), HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D. McCarthy, RN), HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN), the Australian light cruiser HMAS Sydney (Capt. J.A. Collins, CB, RAN)escorted by the British destroyers HMS Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Havock (Cdr. R.E. Courage, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Hasty, (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC, RN), HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.deW. Kitcat, RN), HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO, RN), HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN), HMS Juno (Cdr. W.E. Wilson, RN), HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN), HMS Dainty (Cdr. M.S. Thomas, DSO, RN), HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN), HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN) and the Australian destroyers HMAS Vampire (Cdr. J.A. Walsh, RAN) and HMAS Vendetta (Cdr. R. Rhoades RAN).
The convoy was not spotted and arrived safe at Malta on 11 October. The only damage sustained was to the destroyer HMS Imperial that was mined off Malta and was out of action for over 6 months.
While on the return trip the Mediterranean Fleet was sighted by an Italian aircraft. The Italian Navy tried to intercept them in the Ionian Sea. In the night of 11/12 October the first Italian torpedo boat flotilla with Airone, Alcione and Ariel attacked HMS Ajax. The attack failed and Ajax sank Airone and Ariel, Alcione escaped. A little while later the Italian 11th destroyer flotilla, with Artigliere, Aviere, Camicia Nera and Geniere arrived at the scene. They were surprised by the radar-directed gunfire from HMS Ajax. Artigliere was heavily damaged and Aviere was lightly damaged. Camicia Nere tried to tow Artigliere away but she was sighted by a British Sunderland aircraft that homed in 3 Swordfish aircraft from HMS Illustrious. However, the torpedoed they fired didn't hit the Italian ships. Later the British heavy cruiser HMS York arrived at the scene. Camicia Nera quickly slipped the towing line and sped off. After her crew had left the ship Artiglire was sunk by York.
While the Mediterranean Fleet was still on the return trip aircraft from HMS Illustrious and HMS Eagle attacked Leros and in the evening of the 14th the British light cruiser HMS Liverpool while south-east of Crete was hit in the bow by a torpedo from an Italian aircraft. The cruiser was heavily damaged and was repaired at the Mare Island Navy Yard in the USA. HMS Liverpool was not operational again until January 1942.