HMS 'Ark Royal' has probably become the most famous ship in the world and of the five that have been in service, it is the third Ark Royal built by Cammell Laird and launched on the 13th of April 1937 as a 23,000 ton Fleet Carrier with a top speed of 30.75 knots, carrying 72 aircraft and a crew of 1,575 men. the second British ship conceived and designed as a 'flat top' aircraft carrier, that will forever epitomise the valour and pride of the Royal Navy throught the ages. This rare archive War Office film tells the story of the aircraft carrier and HMS Ark Royal 3, a war service record that were so packed with incident that the ship was rarely out of the headlines. Still a new ship, she was attached to the Home Fleet at Scapa when World War II began and chalked up a 'first' by the first Luftwaffe casualty to the RN. In early 1940 Ark Royal went to the Mediterranean and took part in many operations with Force H and in May 1941 she flew off a striking force of torpedo aircraft which scored two hits cripplig the Bismarck. On 13 November 1941, returning from an aircraft ferrying operation to Malta, the Ark Royal was torpedoed 30 miles from Gibraltar by U81.Although she was taken in tow, the flooding could not be controlled and the following day she sank, 14 hours after being hit. Incredibly and a testament to her Captain and crew, only one rating was lost of her complement of nearly 1600.
Admiral Sir Casper John, Rear Admiral Roy Foster Brown