With new aircraft carriers due to arrive in Portsmouth in the next few years, I wonder if they will achieve fame and legendary status like that of HMS Victorious?
It was aircraft from this carrier that first spotted the German pocket battleship Bismarck. On May 24, 1941, Victorious launched nine Swordfish (nicknamed stringbags) and two Fulmar fighters which attacked Bismarck under heavy anti-aircraft fire. One torpedo scored a hit. She took no further part in the chase, but aircraft from HMS Ark Royal disabled Bismarck’s steering gear contributing to her sinking three days later.
Victorious took part in Arctic convoys and the Pedestal convoy to Malta. Her aircraft also launched attacks on the German battleship Tirpitz.
She was loaned to the American Navy in 1943 and fought the Japanese.
From 1950 to 1958 she was rebuilt in Portsmouth Dockyard. An angled flight deck replaced her conventional through deck.
In 1967 she was in the dockyard for another refit when a fire in a mess caused one death and two injuries, sealing her fate. The day before her recommissioning her commanding officer was told his ship was to be scrapped. In 1969 she was towed to the breaker’s at Faslane.