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NavSource Online: Escort Carrier Photo Archive

WILLAPA (CVE-53)  /  HMS PUNCHER


Contributed by Tommy Trampp



Battle Honours

Atlantic 1944

CLASS - BOGUE
Displacement 7,800 Tons, Dimensions, 495' 8" (oa) x 69' 6" x 26' (Max)
Armament 2 x 5"/51 4 x 40mm, 10 x 20mm, 28 Aircraft.
Machinery, 8,500 SHP; Allis-Chambers, Geared Turbines, 1 screw
Speed, 17.5 Knots, Crew 890.

Operational and Building Data

Built by Seattle-Tacoma. Laid down 21 May 1943, launched 8 Nov 1943. Transferred to RN and commissioned in RN service as HMS Puncher (D79) 5 February 1944. Designation changed from AVG to ACV 20 August 1942; changed from ACV to CVE 15 July 1943, both prior to commissioning.

Initially outfitted as a transport carrier by Burrards at Vancouver, Canada, but refitted as a strike/CAP carrier in the UK. Canadian manned. Served mostly as an Atlantic ASW carrier and as a training carrier. Main reduction gears destroyed 27 November 1944; replaced by gearing from Nabob.

FATE
Used as a troopship immediately postwar. Returned to USN 16 Jan 1946, stricken for disposal 12 March 1946 (Navy Dept. Bulletin, 46-525, p. 27). Converted to a cargo ship, with an altered superstructure that was originally built for a Liberty Ship and renamed Muncaster Castle (British flag), 1948. Renamed Bardic in 1954, Bennevis (Ben Line Ltd., Leith) in 1959. Scrapped at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, starting June 1973.


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Size Image Description Contributed
By And/Or Copyright

NS0305316
5.36M

"CVE-53, Auxiliary Aircraft Carrier, Booklet of General Plans," Willapa, HMS Puncher.

Courtesy of Ed Zajkowski & the Historic Naval Ships Association
HMS Puncher (D79)

NS0305301
108k Willapa (CVE-53) seen here as HMS Puncher (D79). ©Joe Radigan

NS0305302
159k

HMS Puncher at Valetta Harbour, Malta, carrying Seafires. Date unknown. The fleet carrier HMS Formidable is visible in the background.

Photo P.A. Vicary, scanned from Warships of World War II, by H.T. Lenton & J.J. Colledge, published by Ian Allan Ltd, London.

Robert Hurst

NS0305306
34k HMS Puncher underway, date and location unknown. Robert Hurst

NS0305313
73k

HMS Puncher (D79) underway at Greenock, Scotland. Date unknown.

Source: Imperial War Museums Admiralty Official Collection by Coote, R.G.G. (Lt), Photo No. © IWM(A 25712).

Mike Green

NS0305307
71k HMS Puncher moored in Burrard Inlet, North Vancouver between 12–27 Feb 1944 waiting on being taken in hand for modification by Burrard’s Dry Dock CO, LTD. Moved to no. 8 berth, LaPointe Pier on the 28th. (Note no radar Bofors mounts fitted — she had just arrived from Tacoma on completion of Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Co builder’s trials). Courtesy of Tony Drury, Royal Navy Escort Carriers

NS0305308
71k HMS Puncher underway in June 1944, with a Blackburn Shark on the aft flight deck, location unknown. Robert Hurst

NS0305310
212k

HMS Puncher (D79), ex-Willapa (CVE-53), underway on 27 August 1944, while off the Chesapeake Bay en route to Norfolk, Virginia, from Casablanca, Morocco.

Note: This image was originally filed in 1944, apparently on the basis of the number painted on the ship's bow, as USS Ommaney Bay (CVE-79). Her general configuration, pattern camouflage and bow number confirm the ship's identity as Puncher.

Official U.S. Navy photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command (# NH 106583).

Robert Hurst

NS0305309
88k

Barracudas of 821 Squadron ranged on deck off Norwegian coast, with Force 2, during Operation Shred, February 21, 1945. The cruiser HMS Dido is astern.

Courtesy of Tony Drury, Royal Navy Escort Carriers

NS0305311
55k

HMS Puncher (D79), ex-Willapa (CVE-53), at anchor, April 1945, location unknown. Photo taken by an unknown Royal Navy official photographer. Imperial War Museum, photo No. FL 17755.

Robert Hurst
The Crew

NS0305312
460k

"On the far left [...] is a photo of my father, Caven Carmichael. (I have no idea who the other two men are.) He was a member of the Canadian Navy during WWII and part of the crew of the HMS Puncher."

If you know who the other men are, please contact us.

Nancy MacDonald (nee Carmichael).
Commercial Service

NS0305305
117k Ex-Willapa, ex-HMS Puncher, as Bennevis (British flag), in the Malacca Straits. Original photo by Airfoto Malacca. Submitted by Gerhard Mueller-Debus

NS0305314
60k Ex-Willapa, ex-HMS Puncher, as Bennevis, Ben Line cargo ship. Tommy Trampp

NS0305303
70k Ex-Willapa, ex-HMS Puncher, as Bennevis (British flag), in Hamburg, Germany, July 1968. This ship was scrapped in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, in 1973. Photos by Gerhard Mueller-Debus

NS0305304
80k

Read the
WILLAPA (CVE-53) / HMS PUNCHER (D79) DANFS History entry

Crew Contact And Reunion Information

Not Applicable To This Ship


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Hazegray & Underway World Aircraft Carrier Pages By Andrew Toppan.
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Last update: 23 May 2016