With new plans afoot to build several new aircraft carriers it is interesting to learn more about what happened to some of the old ones: those which served the country well during World War 2. HMS Indomitable for instance whose illustrious yet short career ended in 1955 according to Admiralty records with the word Scrapped.
I can find no record that the Indomitable was ever decommissioned; though many sources report her earlier history. By the time I came to know her, in 1952, she was already feeling her age. I only learned of her distinguied career much later. She was ordered in 1937 as war loomed ever closer. As a modified version of the Illustrious Class Aircraft Carriers already in service Indomitable would carry more aircraft than the older ships. This would prove a real advantage during the coming wartime forays. Her first real venture into the maritime world came in November 1941 when her maiden voyage took her to the West Indies. A not very auspicious start in fact, as whilst there she ran aground on a coral reef near Jamaica. Not badly damaged, however, she was able to make a quick return to service. In January 1942 she joined the Eastern Fleet based in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) where she ferried 48 RAF Hawker Hurricans for Singapore via Java.
Here started her World War Two career and she became ever more indispensible as the other carriers in the Eastern Fleet went out of service. Hermes could already be said to be obsolete. Though still in action at that time she was soon to be sunk in the Indian Ocean along with the Australian destroyer Vampire and a corvette.
In May 1942 Operation Ironclad was launched against the Vichy-controlled Madagascar which it was believed the Japanese intended to occupy to use as a submarine base from which to attack allied convoy routes in the Indian Ocean.
The Indomitable, along with her sister ship Illustrius and a vast fleet of other ships converged on Durban in South Africa in preparation for an invasion. This commenced on 5th May at Courrier Bay and after bitter fighting lasting almost two days the strategic town was taken.
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