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"That which we call a rose..." -- the answer

The other day, I tossed out a little trivia question about a historical oddity from World War II. Folks generally got the right answer, but I figured I ought to officially spell it out.

All four ships were originally owned by -- and ultimately disposed of -- one Navy, but spent some time in the service of another nation during World War II.

"USS Robin" was the name assigned to the British aircraft carrier HMS Victorious when she was loaned to the United States Navy for a stretch of 1943. At the time, the US was seriously lacking in carriers (the Japanese had sunk four of ours in 1942 alone, and damaged the others), and it was in response to the US seconding the USS Ranger to the British for a bit in 1942.

The battleship Arkhangelsk was also a British warship, the HMS Royal Sovereign. She was loaned to the Soviets in lieu of war reparations from Italy, and served until the end of the war, when she was returned to the British and scrapped.

Likewise the light cruiser Murmansk. She was the USS Milwaukee, and like the Royal Sovereign, was returned to her original masters for scrapping post-war.

Patrol Boat 102, as James pointed out, has to be one of the oddest stories of World War II. She fought the Japanese early in the war and was seriously damaged. She was being repaired in Tjilitjap when the Japanese captured the port. Her crew damaged her severely, then sunk her along with the floating drydock she was in. The Japanese raised the drydock and the Stewart, rebuilt her and recommissioned her. She served as an anti-submarine escort throughout the war, possibly even sinking one US sub, and led to numerous reports of an "old American destroyer" well behind enemy lines. She was captured at the end of the war, but she couldn't have her old name back -- believing her lost, the US had named a new ship after her. She was given her old hull number back, but was nicknamed RAMP-224 ("RAMP" was the term for "Returned Allied Military Personnel," the bureaucratic term for rescued prisoners of war) and returned to the United States.

An excellent account of the "Phantom Destroyer" can be found here.


Comments (1)

A very interesting article ... (Below threshold)
Nick Mallory:

A very interesting article but you might like to note that it's either 'HMS Royal Sovereign' or the 'Royal Sovereign', it's never, ever, 'the HMS Royal Sovereign'. HMS means His (or Her) Majesty's Ship so putting a definite article in front of it makes no sense and grates somewhat on any British people reading your blog.




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