Aerial view of the newly commissioned ‘Aircraft Carrier H.M.S.Illustrious
Bombs explode around the Illustrious, in Dockyard area during the attack of 16th January 1941
H.M.S.Illustrious under attack on 19th January 1941,The carrier is berthed alongside Parlatorio Wharf.
A Junkers Ju87b belonging to the Lufwaffe.
Illustrious, burning fiercely and engulfed in smoke is hit once more, 10th January 1941
FRS2 making the first landing on HMS.Illustrious, April 1994
ASW Sea King Mk VI
H.M.S.Illustrious Departing from Devonport after a major refit in 1994
HMS.Illustrious during World War 2
The Spitfires proved that Malta could not only defend herself but was striking back , the success of these air battles inspired enthusiasm among the population and shocked the Axis aircrew.
H.M.S.Illustrious, fifth ship to bear the name and second of the invincible class aircraft carries, having completed
her refit in April 1994, the ship is the most up to date of its class.
She displaces 20,000 tons and can carry a mix of up to 22 aircraft enabling her to fulfil a variety of roles.
The aircraft carrier Ark Royal turns off St.Angelo in January 1939
One of the multiple Pom Pom guns which received a direct hit
Servicemen mourn their colleagues as they examine the extent of damage on the Pom Pom guns,after dealing with the flames,10th January 1941
I was given this photo and the one below, by the crew of H.M.S.Illustrious when the air craft carrier visited Malta August 1997
This photo was given to me by the crew of H.M.S.Illustrious when the air craft carrier visited Malta August 1997
Chapter From World War II
Illustrious was the first aircraft carrier to have an armour plated deck, she joined the Mediterranean fleet in September 1940, its aircraft had succeeded in crippling nearly half the Italian Navy, the biggest success for the Illustrious came in November when the Carrier's Swordfish torpedo bombers raided Toronto Harbours , in a couple of hours they managed to hit and severely damage three Italians battleships, two cruisers, two fleet auxiliaries and destroyed a fuel dump and several stores, Illustrious had had a busy time in the Mediterranean, its aircraft, equipped with long range fuel tanks carried out constant attacks on Axis shipping, airfields and supplies to the Africa Corps.
In January 1941, while escorting a convoy carry vital supplies to Malta, the Luftwaffe, ignoring the convoy and concentrating their efforts on the carrier, had succeeded in crippling the Illustrious, despite the damage she did not sink and the crippled ship made it to Malta, soon after the Illustrious arrived in H.M. Dockyard, Malta witnessed numerous raids on the carrier which brought an entire calamity on the three cities, which surround the dockyard, Cospicua , Vittoriosa and Senglea, a number of Axis aircraft known to have been shot down over Malta during, 'Illustrious Blitz.'
The debut was a massed attack on January 10th 1941 using sixty Ju87's and He 111s against a convoy bound for Malta, It was evident from the determination with whish the attack were pressed home that the aircraft were being flown by Germans the aircraft carrier Illustrious hit six times limped into Grand Harbour that night with a prime target immobile in French Creek, Malta awaited the Germans onslaught
On January 19th the Illustrious was hit again but despite the damage a miracle was performed by the repairers in HM Dockyard Four days later the Illustrious was able to leave and reach Egypt safely
The Illustrious' blitz began seventy Ju87's and Ju88's escorted by CR42's attacked Grand Harbour
The Junkers Ju 87 'Stuka' dive bomber was a terrifying aircraft
At the beginning of 1941 the vital necessity confronting Admiral Cunningham was to get supplies, reinforcements and equipment to the aid of Greece,Important convoys were passing through the Mediterranean bound for Malta and the Piraeus, As was customary when important convoys were on passage, Admiral Cunningham took the fleet to sea to cover them against possible attack by Italians surfaces,
On January 10th he was about a hundred miles to the westward of Malta with a convoy and its escort to the southward, about noon a large formation of German dive bombers made an attack on the Fleet they singled out H.M.S.Illustrious as the main target of an attack delivered with a fanatical determination H.M.S.Illustrious vanished from sight in a great cliff of spray and water thrown up by bursting bombs, when she reappeared she hauled out of line, grievously stricken and heavily on fire, Steering only with the propellers with the flight deck wrecked and fires still burning, Captain Boyd contrived to reach Malta after dark having beaten off five more attacks.
The great carrier was berthed alongside the dockyard.
it was now the turn of Malta harboring the crippled H.M.S.Illustrious, and unloading the newly arrived convoy ships to bear the fury of the Germans dive-bombers.
in all the Island was raided fifty eight times during the month, most of the raids were directed against H.M.S.Illustrious, but from their proximity to the dockyard the densely inhabited cities of Senglea, Cospicua, and Vittoriosa suffered heavy damage, in spite of being again struck and her guns crew ceaselessly in action, the officers and men of H.M.S.Illustrious contrived with the help of the dockyard to patch her up sufficiently to enable her to put to sea. During a hull between raids H.M.S.Illustrious slipped out and was escorted to Alexandia under her own steam.
Built by Vickers-Armstrong, Barrow. Laid down 27 April 1937,launched 5 April 1939, completed 25 May 1940.
Sold 3 Nov 1956 and subsequently scrapped
Struck Italian Fleet at Taranto 11/1940. Hit/near missed by 7 bombs 10 Jan 1941, resulting in serious damage. Emergency repairs at Malta 25 Jan 1941 to 10 March 1941; was hit by additional bombs while at Malta.
Fully repaired at Norfolk Navy Yard Norfolk 12 May 1941-28 Nov 1941. Operated in the Pacific starting 1/1944. Center propeller shaft removed during refit at Sydney 2/1945, due to 1941 damage.Designation changed to R2 circa 1945 for service in the Pacific; returned to previous designation postwar. Suffered minor Kamikaze damage 6 April 1945. Final WWII light AA armament was 5 8-barrel 2 pound, 3 40 mm, 52 20 mm.
Major refit and repair of wartime damage 27 June 1945 to June 1946, then used as training carrier. Decommissioned to reserve 1947 but decommissioned as trials/training carrier 9/1948; occasionally used with front-line squadrons. Designation changed to R87 under NATO designation system. Decommissioned to reserve 12/1954.
HISTORY OF H.M.S.ILLUSTRIOUS
The first HMS.Illustrious, a third rate 74 gun frigate was launched at Buckler's
Hard in 1789 and saw action against the French off Toulon in 1793 and Genoa in 1795,
In the latter action she was instrumental in capture of two enemy war ships but suffered severe damage,
and under tow was driven ashore by violent storm and abandoned after being set ablaze.
The second Illustrious, also a 74 gun frigate, was launched at Rotherhithe in 1803, she had a long
career winning battle honours at Basque Roads and Java before becoming a training ship in 1854.She was broken up in Portsmouth in 1868.
The third Illustrious, a battle ship with 12 and 6 inch guns was launched in 1896, already obsolete in 1914,
she spent most of the war as an Ammunition Store Ship and was scrapped in 1921
The forth Illustrious was one of the most distinguished ships, in the 1939-1945 war, the first of a new class of aircraft carrier,
she was commissioned in 1940 and her first theatre of action was the Mediterranean in defence of the vital Malta Convoys,
on 11th November 1940 twenty Swordfish from HMS.Illustrious attacked the Italian's most important naval base at Taranto inflicting severe
damage on the enemy and tilting the balance of sea power in the Mediterranean in the Allies favour.
Early in 1941 she survived a heavy attack by Stuka dive bombers, but suffered extensive damage and many casualties, she was
re-fitted in America and returned to active duty late in 1941 playing a major role in operation off Diego Suarez, Salerno and Sumatra, her
final action was in support of the American landing at Okinawa.
After the war she became a trails and training ship before being laid up in 1954 and finally scrapped in 1957.
"A Moment of Silence"
A Moment of silence, a moment alone. Our brothers have fallen,their names in stone. Faces we remember all were too young. On a day once a year, a wreath is hung. I'll forget you not though none I knew, my Flag fly's proudly for each of you, and they, who for their country die
Shall fill an honoured grave,
For Glory lights a Soldiers Tomb,
And beauty weeps the brave
A Ceremony was held on 19th.August 1997.
To commemorate the people of Senglea who lost their lives in World War 2. Admiral Alan West (on the left) was among the distinguish personalities that was on H.M.S.Illustrious.
(Middle picture)The Band of the Royal Marines of H.M.S.Illustrious as they March through the Streets of Senglea Malta
(Right Picture)I was given this certificate, by the Captain S.R.Meyer of H.M.S.Illustrious, when I was Mayor of our City Senglea, Malta on 21st.August,1997
All the information here is done after a lot of research, from books I own and some I borrowed,
all the credit goes to the authors of these books, I am not a scholar or a teacher.