Cdr Henstock, HMS Hermes

Hermes Survivors

My father was on Hermes 9 when she was sunk but very sadly did not survive. I am, however, trying to contact descendants of survivors who were aboard the Vita and wondered if you can help me, please?

Sasha Wilson (daughter of Cdr Henstock)


Thank you for your email, I suggest you try the Hermes Association. The HMS Hermes Association provides comradeship and re-unions for shipmates & their dependants from Hermes Ships 9 & 10. If you are interested
and would like to find out more please contact:

    Secretary / Treasurer:

    Shipmate Richard Tipping

     227 Austin Crescent



     Devon PL6 5QT


     Alex Rusk

     7 Haymans Close


     L12 7JH

      CLICK HERE TO SEND Richard an E-Mail
      Tel: 01752 787697  Tel: 0151 226 7506

HMS HERMES (April 9, 1942)

The 10,850 ton aircraft carrier (Capt. R. Onslow) was the first Royal Navy
ship to be specially designed as such. This was the ninth ship to bear this
name. The Hermes left the naval base of Trincomalee, Ceylon, escorted by the
Australian destroyer Vampire, and while sailing south off Batticaloa on the
east shore, the ships were attacked by carrier-borne aircraft from a
Japanese force of three battleships and five carriers including the Akaga,
Hiryu and Soryu, which had entered the Bay of Bengal a week before and were
now attacking the naval base. Around seventy bombers were sent to dispatch
the Hermes which sank within ten minutes, followed by the Vampire shortly
after. Of the complement on the Hermes, nineteen officers and 283 ratings
died. On the Vampire, nine men lost their lives. The hospital ship Vita
rescued approximately 600 survivors from the two ships and took them to
Colombo and later to Kandy for recuperation. The air attack on the base
killed 85 civilians in addition to military losses. Thirty-six Japanese
planes were shot down. The wreck of the Hermes was found sixty-three years
later, in 2006, about five nautical miles from shore and fifty-seven meters
down. Divers attached the White Ensign to the rusting hull. The wreck of the
Vampire has never been found.

In 1942 Vita was based at Trincomalee, and on 9 April went out from that
port to pick up survivors from the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes and her
escort destroyer HMS Vampire, both of which had been sunk by Japanese
aircraft. When Vita appeared on the scene, the Japanese ceased attacking and
she was able to pick up 595 survivors. In December 1942 Vita acted as a
hospital ship for the landings at Diego Suarez, Madagascar. In the following
year, and for 1944 she served, apparently without incident in the
Mediterranean and in the Indian Ocean. In April 1945 she was at the Burma
landings at Kyaukpyu, and the following month at Rangoon. She was now based
at Cochin, and operated hospital voyages between Madras and Chittagong. In
September 1945 she was again based at Trincomalee. In May 1946, following a
refit, she resumed commercial service, and this lasted another seven years.
She was sold on 20 May 1953 to Tulsiram Bhagwandas for scrapping at

Hospital ship Vita and ports she visited. Attached.

Your Father's CWGC certificate:

Casualty Details
     Initials: M F L
     Nationality: United Kingdom
     Rank: Commander
     Regiment/Service: Royal Navy
     Unit Text: H.M.S. Hermes
     Age: 40
     Date of Death: 09/04/1942
     Additional information: Son of John Lea Henstock and Margaret
Henstock, of Kensington, London.
     Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
     Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 62, Column 3.

Panel 62, column 3 Plymouth Naval Memorial

Best wishes,


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