HMS Pretoria Castle
Years in Service
HMS Pretoria Castle
Entered service as Pretoria Castle (1)
1939 requisitioned as an Armed Merchant Cruiser
1942 sold to Admiralty and rebuilt as an aircraft carrier
1946 re-purchased by Union-Castle and renamed Warwick Castle (4)
During her second voyage she damaged her rudder when she grounded in Delagoa Bay necessitating repairs at Prince Edward Dock, Durban.
On completion of that voyage she was requisitioned for use as an Armed Merchant Cruiser being fitted with eight 6 inch guns together with AA and machine guns.
With a black hull and buff upper works and funnel she was commissioned in the November and based at Freetown in Sierra Leone.
In 1942 she was replaced by one of the new light cruisers and sold to the Admiralty for conversion into an aircraft carrier. With fifteen aircraft and equipped with one catapult she was commissioned on 18th March 1943 but was used purely for training purposes. The conversion took place at Swan Hunters on the Tyne.
She was re-purchased by Union-Castle in January 1946 and rebuilt to her original specification but, because a new mail ship was under construction with Pretoria Castle as her designated name, she was renamed Warwick Castle.
From 1939 to 1942 as Armed Merchant Cruiser
From 1943 to 1945 as Escort/Trainer carrier
Being rebuilt as Aircraft Carrier by Swan Hunter
Small watercolour of Pretoria Castle in 3 Guises
Taken up by the Admiralty and converted first to an Armed Merchant Cruiser, and later to an Escort Carrier.
She spent most of her time as the Trials Carrier for development of Naval Aircraft and flight deck operations.
She was returned to her original configuration and re named Warwick Castle.
Artist - Jim Rae
Capt R Bell-Davies RN
VC CB DSO AFC
Supermarine Seafire landing on HMS Pretoria Castle
The naval version of the Spitfire
Fairey Baracudda being launched from HMS Pretoria Castle
Fairey Firefly ready for stowing
In November 1944 seen from the air