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 (.A.D.) in Washington raises the question of
ship names for the first four Bogue class carriers due to be
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.
Weaver, D. (2004) 'The History of HMS Queen – A World War II Lend Lease Escort Aircraft Carrier.' Hong Kong, D.G. Weaver
UK National Archives
ADM 1/17193 contains:
ADMIRALTY (5): Conversion of "Smiter" class escort carriers as assault force flagship requirements, arming and manning proposals.
ARMAMENTS (11): Conversion of "Smiter" class escort carriers as assault force flagships: requirements, arming and manning proposals.
FOREIGN COUNTRIES (52): Conversion of "Smiter" class escort carriers as assault force flagships: requirements, arming and manning proposals.
ADM 1/18420 contains:
FOREIGN COUNTRIES (52): Conversion of escort carriers for trooping duties: US approval for lend/lease vessels, specifications, general arrangement and costs.