For Posterity's Sake         

A Royal Canadian Navy Historical Project

HMS PUNCHER D79

Bogue Class Escort Carrier

 

ARISE AND DESTROY

HMS Puncher

 

Laid down: 21 May 1943

Launched: 08 Nov 1943

Commissioned: 05 Feb 1944

Paid off: 16 Jan 1946. Returned to the USN at Norfolk

Fate: Sold to commercial service. Broken up in 1973

 

Battle honours and awards:  Atlantic  1939-45

 

Begun as MV Willapa, she was commissioned HMS Puncher at Tacoma, Wash., on 05 Feb 1944, and arrived at Vancouver on 15 Mar for modification to RN standards. She left Esquimalt in Jun for Norfolk, Va., en route ferrying motor launches from New Orleans to New York. In Jul she left Norfolk for Casablanca with a cargo of 40 USAAF aircraft, returning to Norfolk to load the Corsairs of 845 (RN) Squadron and a deck load of U.S. aircraft for the U.K. On 01 Feb 1945, she joined the Home Fleet, and following VE-Day was used for several months for deck landing training. In Sep she was partially converted to serve as a troop carrier and employed the rest of the year repatriating Canadian troops from Britain. In 1946 she left Halifax for Norfolk and was paid off there 16 Jan for return to the USN. Converted for merchant service, she became the British Muncaster Castle in 1949, later to be renamed Bardic in 1954 and Bennevis in 1959. She was broken up in Taiwan in 1973.

 

Photos and Documents          Ship's company photos

 

HMS Puncher - Royal Navy Research Archives

 

Commanding Officers

Capt. Roger Edward Shelford Bidwell, RCN - 15 March 1944 - 16 Jan 1946

 

 

     In memory of those who have crossed the bar    

They shall not be forgotten

A-B

 

 

C-D

 

 

E-F

 

 

G-H

 

 

K-L

 

 

M-N

 

 

O-R

 

 

S-T

 

 

W-X

 

 

Former Crew Members

 

Allison, Ken, AB, Dhobey Worker (front Saint John, NB)


Allison, Ted, CPO


Amundsen, James, AB, RCNR


Armit, G.G, Cdr, RCNR


Barker, Kenneth, AB, Bugler, RCNR


Brown, (Winger)


Calder, James, LCdr, RCNVR


Chorlton, Ron, AB, Met

 

Cooper, Cecil Ross, V60196  - 

 

Cooper, Rupert, ABSM, Dryer Machine Worker (from Windsor, ON)


Copland, Robert, ABSM


De Wolfe, Leo, CPO


Dirrado, Albert, AB, Dhobey Firm Steam Presser (from Montreal, QC)


Doyle, (Mother)


Duck, Vernon, AB, Dhobey Firm President (from York, PEI)


Fraser, E.B., Lt (S), C.O.'s Secretary / LCdr (S), RCNVR


Fraser, Joseph A., AB, RCNR

 

Gomeroy, George, PO (S), Dhobey Firm Book keeper (from Victoria,BC)


Hart, W.J., Surg-Lt, RCN


Hope, Keith, AB, RCNVR


Horne, Robert, AB, Laundry Sleeve Ironer (from Ottawa, ON)

 

Humphreys, Cyril, PO, Yeoman of Signals

Hutcheson, C., Capt, Dental


Koughan, W.H.. LCdr, RCNR


Latreille, Roger, AB, Laundry Steam Presser (from Montreal, QC)


Legatt


Logan, Jim


MacAskill, D., Lt (E), RCNVR


Macdonald, William, CPO


Macdonald, A.A., Lt, RCNVR


Malone, Maurice Charlie, Surg-Lt


McDonnel, J.A., RCNVR


McKenzie, Red, PO


McRae, J.D.J., Lt, RCNVR


Midleton, Charles, AB, RCNR


Morris, Sgt, Dental

 

Muise, A.O.

 

Munn, Gordon, Lt. (SB), RCNVR


Nelson, Crisp, CPO, MAA, RCN


Nichols, Edward, PO


Nicholson, LSM


Oneil, Lt, RCNVR


Outerbridge, L.M., Chaplain, RCN

Piere, C.F., LCdr, RCNVR

 

Price, F.A., Cdr, RCNR


Reid, Stanley Park, CPO, MAA, RCN


Shoup, H.R.W., Lt, RCNVR

 

Siawk, Roman

 

Slater, Oliver Kenneth, RCNVR 

 

Snelling, S.D.L., Lt, RCNVR


Spidell, Jack, CPO


Starkey, PO

 

Teepoorten, Sgt, Dentral


Thorpe, W.J., Lt (S), COs Secretary, RCNVR


Tregaskes, Stuart, Lt (S), RCNVR


Tucker, J.L., Lt, RCNVR


Tullidge, G., A/Cdr (S), RCNVR


Wadsworth, G.B., Lt (S), RCN


Wallace, Dixon, Cdr, XO, RCNR


Waskett, PO


Whitson, Norman, PO SBA


Woods, A.B.W., Reverand, RCN


Woods, Albert, CPO


Yawney, William, AB, Laundry Checker (from Sudbury, ON)


Zelionka, Albert, RCNR

 

Photos and Documents

 

R.C.N.A.C. Puncher (HMS Puncher) arriving in Halifax, NS, Nov. 13, 1945

Photographer: Hayward, Buckingham St., Halifax

From the collection of James Edward Lowe, RCN

Courtesy of Kathleen Lowe

 

The photos below were from a book documenting the 2 years that HMS Puncher operated mainly manned by sailors of the RCN - 05 Feb 1944 to 16 Jan 1946.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Courtesy of Steve Hlasny

 

 

HMS PUNCHER - 18 Apr 1944 - 10 Sep 1945

 

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(08887) Ship's badge for HMS PUNCHER  (HA033) HMS PUNCHER at Vancouver to be finished to RN standards, February to May 1944  (HA034) HMS PUNCHER's first squadron of Fireflies fly over the carrier in preparations for operations in the Pacific after VE day  (HA035) An Avenger and a Barracuda from 778 Service Trails Unit from RN Air Station Arbroath is ready to takeoff from HMS PUNCHER. The Canadian manned Aircraft Carrier is carrying out Deck Landing Training on November 5th and 6th 1944  (HA036) A Wildcat from HMS PUNCHER damages it's landing gear as it lands on the pitching deck of the carrier in rough weather  (HA037) The Batman coaches a Firefly onto HMS PUNCHER's deck  (HA038) A Firefly is returned onto its wheels after flipping on its nose during a landing on HMS PUNCHER late in 1945.

 

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(HA039) The damaged Barracuda of Lt Cornish, returns to HMS PUNCHER following a minelaying operation off Haugesund Fjord, Norway on 22 February 1945  (HA040) A Firefly flies over HMS PUNCHER in June 1945  (HA041) Seven of the nine Barracuda's returned to HMS PUNCHER following a minelaying operation in Haugesund Fjord, Norway on 22 February, 1945. Two aircraft were shot down by shore defences over the target and both aircrew were killed.  (HA042) A Barracuda nosed into HMS PUNCHER's flight deck; the rear gunner was slightly injured according to Howard Abbot; the angle of the plane made rescue difficult  (HA043) Crashed Barracuda is secured to HMS PUNCHER's deck following a crash. Howard Abbott recalls this plane was later pushed over the side  (HA044) Firefly missed the arrester wires and crashed into the barricade  (HA045) Having snapped its tail hook, this Barracuda was flipped onto its nose by the barrier, saving both aircrew and aircraft on HMS PUNCHER

 

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(HA046) HMS BIRMINGHAM and another CVE, possibly HMS TRUMPETER sail in formation with HMS PUNCHER in April 1945. HMS PUNCHER was attached to Operation NEWMARKET in the Arctic Ocean. The objective was to attack the U-Boat depot ships at Kilbotn, Norway.  (HA047) HMS DIDO alongside HMS PUNCHER during operations off Haugesund Fjord in January 1945  (HA049-HA050) Several of HMS PUNCHER's sailors take advantage of the hot weather to tan on the carriers crowded flight deck, while ferrying aircraft to Casablanca in July 1944. Too hot to touch, they cover the deck with blankets and towels  (HA051) An Avenger is secured to the flight deck of HMS PUNCHER during a ferry operation of aircraft from Norfolk Virginia in September 1944. Eventually ending in Glasgow, HMS PUNCHER transported 40 aircraft including, 18 Corsairs, Hellcats, Avengers, and one Helldiver.  (HA052) Following a crash on HMS PUNCHER's deck during night operations, this Barracuda was jettisoned over the carrier's side. Note the artwork - Donald Duck holding a torpedo  (HA053) Flight Operations aboard HMS PUNCHER in 1944/45, with one Barracuda safely on the flight deck, two more are making their aproach

 

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(HA054) A Barracuda catches the wire and lands safely on HMS PUNCHER during flight operations in late 1944 or early 1945  (HA055) Arrester wire on the tail hook of a Barracuda on HMS PUNCHER's flight deck.  (HA056) Deck handling party ready a Barracuda for storage on HMS PUNCHER late 1944 or early 1945  (HA057) Eleven of the twelve Barracuda's from HMS PUNCHER's 821 Squadron sit ready for take-off in Jan 1945. The ship's company and squadron personnel were undergoing flight training operations in January 1945  (HA058) HMS PUNCHER ferrying a deck load of aircraft to Glasgow in September or October 1944. This Avenger is destined for delivery to an RCAF Squadron  (HA076) Communicator on HMS PUNCHER  (HA077) Unknown sailor on HMS PUNCHER 

 

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(HA080) "Guess Who?"  "Off Norway this winter"" Howard Abbott on HMS PUNCHER of Norway - 1945  HA082) Howard Abbott on HMS PUNCHER of Norway - 1945  (HA083) "Meet the boys" - Howard's shipmates on HMS PUNCHER  (HA084) Howard Abbott (front left) with shipmates in HMS PUNCHER  (HA086) Howard Abbott onboard HMS PUNCHER  HA087 & HA090) HMS NABOB taken from HMS PUNCHER at Vancouver while both escort carriers were completing in February 1943

 

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(HA092) RCN sailors on the foc's'le of HMS PUNCHER. Howard Abbott, rear, 2nd from right in light coloured shirt  (HA093) RCN sailors on the foc's'le of HMS PUNCHER  (HA095) Howard Abbott resting against the jack staff on HMS PUNCHER - 1944  (HA096) One of PUNCHER's boats coming alongside the ship  (HA097) HMS PUNCHER's ships boat looks like a toy set alongside the steel wall of the carrier's hull - 1943  (HA099 & HA101) Howard Abbott catching a short break onboard HMS PUNCHER

 

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(HA103) Howard Abbott gets a big hug from PUNCHER's bugler  (HA111) " A few of us at Coney Island one day" "Ferguson" - Howard Abbot in front passenger seat - 1944  (HA113) "Here is a picture of the ship Dear. What do you think of her? - HMS PUNCHER Feb 1945  (HA117) A Petty Officer from HMS PUNCHER poses with a Palace Guard in Casablanca - 1944  (HA118) Crew from HMS PUNCHER touring the lush gardens in Casablanca during a visit in early Aug 1944  (HA119)  HMS PUNCHER's ships company had a good view of Rabat, the capitol of Morocco, during a visit there in early August 1944  (HA120) Sailor from HMS PUNCHER poses with a Moroccan Palace Sentry during a visit by PUNCHER in early August 1944

 

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(HA121) Crew from HMS PUNCHER explored the ancient ruins in Morocco during a port visit in Aug 1944  (HA122) Three of PUNCHER's crew in Casablanca, Morocco - Aug 1944  (HA123) The Royal Palace - Casablanca, Morocco - Aug 1944  (HA124) A Petty Officer from HMS PUNCHER poses with one of the Palace guards in Casablanca, Morocco - Aug 1944

 

From the collection of AB Howard Charles Abbott, RCNVR

Courtesy of Roger Litwiller

 

* The photos from the Howard Abbott collection were scanned and cataloged by Roger Litwiller. The numbers below the photos are the reference numbers from Roger's collection.

 

 

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