The mystery of the SMITER class

 

The existence of a separate SMITER class has been proposed by several commentators and has documentary evidence supporting its existence, but which vessels were SMITERs? The earliest mention of the name is found in an Admiralty War Diary entry dated July 2nd 1943; under the heading ‘America and West Indies’ the British Admiralty Delegation (B.A.D.) in Washington raises the question of ship names for the first four Bogue class carriers due top transferred from the USN as part of the second batch of this class being supplied to Britain under the Lend-Lease program. B.A.D. queries the allocated Ruler class names promulgated for CVEs 33, 34, 35 end 36 (EMPEROR, AMEER, ATHELING, & BEGUM) suggesting that these are in fact SMITER class ships, The signal puts forward four alternative names (STINGER, UPRAIDER, SETTER, & CHASTISER respectively) Unfortunately the Admiralty’s response is not known, but the original ship names were put into commission as planned, as part of the Ruler class.

 

The next big piece of supporting evidence comes from the Burrard Dockyard Company, North Vancouver, British Columbia which were to undertake the modification work to 19 of the 23 ship in Batch 2; the Smiter class is repeatedly mentioned in company documents and engineering drawings. Of the 23 ships in batch 2 only 17 were given ‘Ruler’ names, it can be argued that both SPEAKER & TRUMPETER can be called 'RULERs'; the first refers to the Speaker of the House of Commons, the other the High Lord Admiral. The remaining 6 have ‘SMITER’ names – PATROLLER, PUNCHER, REAPER, SLINGER, SMITER, &TROUNCER.

 

So what makes these 6 ships different from the other 17? Probably nothing, possibly there was a shortage of Ruler names. Without more documents being unearthed in the National Archive we may never know.

 

 

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