Sunk - so why was HMS Ark Royal dubbed 'the lucky ship'? | Nostalgia

She had a short life (launched in 1937 and sunk in November 1941) but HMS Ark Royal (91) served in some of the most active naval theatres of the Second World War and was involved in the first aerial and U-boat kills of the war.

By Deborah Croker
Sunday, 9th May 2021, 7:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 11th May 2021, 2:28 pm
HMS Ark Royal just months before her sinking in November 1941. Picture: Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.
HMS Ark Royal just months before her sinking in November 1941. Picture: Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

She served during a period that first saw the extensive use of naval air power; several carrier tactics were developed and refined aboard Ark Royal.

Ark Royal survived several near misses and gained a reputation as a 'lucky ship'. But she was torpedoed on November 13, 1941, by the German submarine U-81 and sank the following day.

However, only one sailor was killed out of a ship’s company of nearly 1,600.

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HMS Ark Royal with planes buzzing around her during a patrol. Picture: Keystone/Getty Images

To see more pictures of the Second World War Ark Royal click here.

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Crowds watch as the 22,000-ton aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (91) is launched at the Cammell Laird shipyard, Birkenhead, on April 13, 1937. The ship was later sunk off Gibraltar by the German submarine U-81 in November 1941. Picture: Hulton Archive/Getty Images.
Survivors of Ark Royal arrive in England after the carrier was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat, November 24, 1941. Picture: Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.
Josef Beck (1894 - 1944), the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, leaving Ark Royal at Portsmouth during a visit to England, April 6, 1939. Picture: Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images