Mystery Photo No. 9 (below), courtesy of Jack Duperouzel, showed a ship on a voyage to the UK.  The webmaster asked:

  • the name of the ship
  • which port she was in at the time of the photograph
  • the two types of aircraft on deck
  • the year the photo was taken and, for a gold star
  • why the ship was carrying two crews during its transit from Australia to the UK. 

Vengeance Malta

Richard Kenderdine from Bowral was very quick with the following response:

”A bit of serial number sleuthing in the Air-Britain book ‘Fleet Air Arm Fixed Wing Aircraft since 1946’ tells me that Sea Furies WZ628-30 were carried from Sembawang to the UK on ‘Vengeance’ on 23.6.1955, while Sea Hawk WV857 (‘172/C’ from 806 Sqn was carried from Hal Far to UK, also on ‘Vengeance’, on 13.7.1955 after force-landing with port oleo collapse on 19.4.1955. Also carried from Hal far were, at least, Sea Hawks WM970 (port u/c collapse) and WM942 (overshot runway). So it is ‘Vengeance’ at Malta in 1955 with Sea Furies and Sea Hawks, returning to UK after RAN service and carrying crew to bring ‘Melbourne’ to Australia.”

Richard is quite correct. The answers are therefore as follows:

  • The photo shows HMAS Vengeance on her return voyage to the UK.
  • The ship is in Malta.  It is anchored in Marsaxlokk Bay with Fort St Lucian in the background as the big clue.
  • The ship is loading RN Hawker Sea Hawk (Ace of Diamonds) aircraft from RNAS Hal Far, adding to the Sea Furies previously loaded in Singapore.
  • The photo was taken in 1955.  Specifically in July of that year, and
  • Apart from doing duty as an aircraft ferry ‘Vengeance’ was carrying the crew that would collect the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne (11) in the UK. It was therefore Vengeance’s last voyage under the Australian White Ensign as she reverted to Royal Navy ownership on arrival in the UK (in August 1955) before being decommissioned two months later. 

Of interest, Vengeance was sold to Brazil in 1956 and modernised with an angle deck to become ‘Minas Gerais’. She was finally finally broken up in 2004 after some 45 years of service in three Navies.

Another photograph of the same event was also provided below,

Answers to other previous Mystery Photos can be found here.

For MP9 Answer