HMS Hilary (1931)

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Career (United Kingdom) Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom
Name: SS Hilary
Owner: Booth Steamship Company
Builder: Cammell Laird
Yard number: 975
Launched: 17 April 1931
In service: August 1931
Fate: Requisitioned by Royal Navy 1940
Career Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Hilary (F22)
Acquired: 16 October 1940
Commissioned: 21 January 1941
Out of service: 15 April 1942
Fate: Converted back to merchant ship, used as convoy commodore ship.
Career Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom
Name: SS Hilary
Owner: Ministry of War Transport
Operator: Booth Steamship Company
Acquired: 15 April 1942
Out of service: 1943
Fate: Recommissioned into Royal Navy as headquarters ship
Career Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Hilary
Acquired: 1943
Fate: Returned to Booth Steamship Company in 1945
Career Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom
Name: SS Hilary
Owner: Booth Steamship Company
In service: March 1946
Fate: Arrived Inverkeithing for breaking up, 15 September 1959
General characteristics
Displacement: 7,403 tons gross, 4,350 tons net
Length: 424 ft 3 in
Beam: 56 ft 3 in
Draught: 34 ft 3 in
Propulsion: Triple expansion steam engine and low pressure turbine with direct gearing and hydraulic coupling, single screw
Speed: 14 knots[1]
Armament: two 6 inch guns, one 12 pounder anti-aircraft gun, four .303 machine guns fitted in late 1940.[2]

HMS Hilary, was a former passenger liner launched in 1931, as SS Hilary, which was requisitioned by the Royal Navy during the Second World War and used to as an ocean boarding vessel in the North Atlantic. It was later converted back to a merchantman but subsequently recommissioned back into the Royal Navy as an infantry landing and headquarters ship. At the end of the war in 1945 it was returned to civilian service, and scrapped in 1959.

The ship was constructed to carry 80 first class and 250 second class passengers between the United Kingdom and South America, but was requisitioned in 1940 and refitted in South Shields as an Ocean Boarding Vessel.

Commissioned as HMS Hilary, F22,[2] the ship stopped the Italian tanker, Recco on 3 May 1941 but the crew of the tanker scuttled it before it could be captured. On 10 May Hilary and successfully captured the Italian cargo vessel Gianna M.

The ship was returned to civilian service, and acted as a convoy commodore vessel in the North Atlantic. In October 1942 it was torpedoed amidships but the torpedo failed to explode. The following year it was recommissioned as a combined infantry landing ship and headquarters vessel (an Landing Ship Infantry (Headquarters), HMS Hilary, following work at Birkenhead to equip it with six landing craft and accommodation for 313 crew and 378 soldiers.[2]

During the July 1943 invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky), the ship conveyed the 1st Canadian Division and Royal Marine commandos, and acted as the headquarters ship of Rear Admiral Sir Philip Vian. In October it was Commodore Geoffrey Oliver's headquarters at Operation Avalanche, the invasion of the Italian mainland at Salerno. The ship returned to Portsmouth in December,[1] and was used again in June for Operation Neptune, the invasion of Normandy. Oliver once again used it as his headquarters, this time as commander of Naval Force J, and the ship also led Assault Convoy J11, troops landing from it on 6 June 1944 on Juno beach. Hilary was slightly damaged by a bomb on 13 June and on 23 June became the flagship of the Eastern Task Force because Admiral Vian's original flagship, HMS Scylla, had been put out of action as by a mine.[2]

The ship was later returned to its original owners, Booth Steamship Company and returned to civilan service, following refitting to allow 93 first class and 138 third class passengers to be carried between the United Kingdom and South America.[2] It was chartered to Elder Dempster and Company for use on the for their Liverpool - Lagos route but returned to Booth's South America route the following year.[1] The ship was scrapped in 1959.