Allied Warships

HMS Colossus (15)

Aircraft Carrier of the Colossus class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeAircraft Carrier
Built byVickers Armstrong (Tyne): Parsons 
Ordered14 Mar 1942 
Laid down1 Jun 1942 
Launched30 Sep 1943 
Commissioned16 Dec 1944 
End service 

After working up HMS Colossus left Glasgow on 12 March 1945 for the Far East, via the Mediterranean where two months of flying exercises were carried out. On 13 June, she arrived at Colombo, and that month was spent conducting more flying exercises. In July she arrived in Sydney, where her 20 mm Oerlikon guns were changed for longer range 40mm Bofor weapons. In August she was in the South China Sea. Rear Admiral Harcourt had recently arrived on the Station at Subic Bay in command of the light fleet carriers HMS Colossus, HMS Venerable, HMS Vengeance and HMS Glory who were tasked in the re-occupation of Hong Kong they were referred to as the 11th Aircraft Carrier Squadron. Colossus was the task force leader for the cruisers HMS Bermuda and HMS Argonaut and five destroyers in order to occupy the Shanghai area. On the 16th, she was at Hong Kong for the signing of the surrender. It was here where Dutch settlers who had been prisoners of war held by the Japanese and in poor health were repatriated to Colombo by Colossus.

On 17 January 1946, Colossus arrived off Cape Town to fly off her Barracuda and Corsair aircraft to the Royal Naval Air Station Wingfield prior to being dry docked in the Selborne dry dock at Simonstown. She was refitted and repairs were carried out to her damaged bows. On March 26th, she was refloated, and the following month she completed her refit and sailed around Cape Point to Table Bay, in order to fly on her Corsair aircraft from the Fleet Air Arm base Wingfield. One of her aircraft veered to port on landing and ditched in the sea. The pilot was rescued by the South African frigate HMSAS Transvaal which was operating as the safety ship.

In July 1946, her tour of duty completed in the Far East. On 6 August Colossus was transferred to France for a five year loan and renamed Arromanches. In 1951 Arromanches was purchased outright when the loan expired in 1951. By this time she had already made two deployments to Indo China, two further deployments followed before the collapse of the French military position in 1954. Later in 19541 Arromanches operated in the Mediterranean where she participated in the Suez operations in 1956 flying Corsairs and Avengers. During 1957-1958 Arromanches underwent a major modification and received a four degree angled flight deck and a mirror landing device. In 1968 she underwent another major refit, this time Arromanches was re-designated a helicopter carrier with multi mission capabilities including ASW roles, fast operational transport and training. In 1974 Arromanches was withdrawn from service. She was scrapped at Toulon in 1978.

A R.N. badge depicting a hand with a raised index finger holding the world can de seen displayed on the Selborne dry dock wall, it appears that this unofficial badge was preferred to that of the original.  

Commands listed for HMS Colossus (15)

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and that we only list Commanding Officers for the duration of the Second World War.

1Capt. Graham Henry Stokes, DSC, RN26 Jul 1944mid 1946

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Notable events involving Colossus include:

7 Jul 1945
Around 0630FG/7, the battleship HMS Anson (Capt. A.C.G. Madden, RN) departed Trincomalee for Fremantle. She first conducted underway refuelling exercises off Trincomalee.

Around 0730FG/7 the light carriers HMS VengeanceColussus (Capt. G.H. Stokes,CB, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Tyrian (Cdr. R.H. Mills, RN) and HMS Tuscan (Lt.Cdr. P.B.N. Lewis, DSC, RN) departed Trincomalee for Fremantle.

They were joined around 1900FG/7 by the light carrier HMS Venerable (Capt. W.A. Dallmeyer, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.J.H. Harcourt, CB, CBE, RN) which had departed Colombo around 0800FG/7.

HMS Anson joined the other ships around 0630FG/8.

En-route to Fremantle both destroyers refuelled from HMS Anson.

They arrived at Fremantle around 0800H, 16 July 1945. (1)

16 Jul 1945
Around 1745H/16, the battleship HMS Anson (Capt. A.C.G. Madden, RN), light carriers HMS Venerable (Capt. W.A. Dallmeyer, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.J.H. Harcourt, CB, CBE, RN), HMS Vengeance (Capt. D.M.L. Neame, DSO and Bar, RN), Colussus (Capt. G.H. Stokes,CB, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Tyrian (Cdr. R.H. Mills, RN) and HMS Tuscan (Lt.Cdr. P.B.N. Lewis, DSC, RN) departed Fremantle for Sydney.

Around 2100H/16, HMS Anson was detached to fuel at Albany where she arrived around 1430H/17.

Around 1200H/18, HMS Anson departed Albany for Sydney.

All ships arrived at Sydney in the morning of 22 July except for HMS Tuscan which arrived in the afternoon and HMS Colossus which entered Jervis Bay in the morning of 22 July.

HMS Colossus proceeded from Jervis Bay to Sydney on 23 July. (1)


  1. ADM 53/120838 + ADM 53/121141 + ADM 53/122450 + ADM 53/122461

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.

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