We cannot be certain if John intended to finish his story at this point. He covered the main aspects of the MAC ships. Looking for other information about these ships the following episodes are added: the first, because it included Reg Singleton- a stalwart of 836 Squadron and secondly shows Empire Macalpine having problems in its convoy!

Extract from: MAC ships: MERCHANTMEN WITH CLOUT by David H Grover

MAC ships had relatively few encounters with German submarines but, nevertheless, their planes and pilots had many harrowing adventures. Simply getting back aboard the carrier could become a nightmare for a Swordfish pilot. An incident in September 1943, within Halifax-bound Convoy ONS 18 dramatically illustrates this difficulty. This convoy marked the baptism of fire for the MAC ships and planes. With U-boats reportedly trailing the convoy, the Empire MacAlpine was asked to launch an aircraft during a brief lifting of the heavy fog that prevailed. A Swordfish, piloted by Sub-Lieutenant R.A. Singleton, was launched, only to have the fog immediately close in again around the convoy. The plane carried out its assigned patrol, but saw nothing. Returning to the socked-in convoy, the pilot used the images on his own radar to obtain a bearing on the convoy and also homed in on the output of the carrier's radar. The crew of the ship then streamed a fog buoy at a prescribed distance astern so that the pilot would have some means of judging the distance if he came in low. When the carrier crew heard the plane making its approach, they turned on signal lights to aid the pilot. However, in spite of all these procedures, Singleton was unable to see the ship even when it was directly beneath him.

As the plane's fuel dropped to a disturbing level, Singleton recognized that he had to bring the plane down soon. He flew out ahead of the convoy, then circled to begin an approach to the Empire MacAlpine. With visibility of about 100-yds, less than the length of the short flight deck of the carrier, the pilot brought his plane down as slowly as he dared. His radar-assisted let-down left him in a relatively good position for landing but, when visual contact was eventually established, the batsman, waved off the attempt with his lighted paddles, and sent the plane back around for another approach. Finally, with visibility reduced to about 50yds, Singleton brought the plane in for a perfect landing. The entire evolution was a credit to the skill and nerve of the pilot and to the simple but reliable electronics of the ship and plane.

LS326 was built as a Swordfish II (Blackfish) by Blackburn and delivered to the Royal Navy at Donibristle, Scotland, on the 17th August 1943. In the following October LS326 was allocated to 836 NAS (Navy Air Squadron) based at Maydown, Northern Ireland. While with 836 Squadron LS326 flew anti-submarine sorties protecting the trans-Atlantic convoys, first with "L Flight" embarked on the oil tanker MV Rapana (MAC ship) and from February 1944 with "K Flight" operating from the grain ship MV Empire MacCallum (MAC ship). On retirements from front-line duties LS326 finished the WW2 on training and communication duties at Royal Naval Air Station Culham, Oxfordshire, then at Worthy Down, Hampshire. Purchased by the Fairey Aviation Company in 1945 and registered as G-AJVH LS326 was placed into storage at White Waltham Airfield, the home of West London London Aero Club, later in the year. Restored in 1955, LS326 continued to fly from White Waltham Airfield. In 1959 LS326 was repainted as aircraft "5A" from 825 NAS to play a starring role in the 1960 black-and-white British war film "Sink the Bismarck!" starring Kenneth More. Presented to the Royal Navy by the Westland Aircraft Company in September 1960, LS326 kept the '5A' identity and colour scheme until 1986. Re-covered at Booker Airfield in 1987 and re-painted in the 836 NAS "MV Rapana" colours and markings. In the late 1990's LS326 was named the "City of Liverpool" in recognition of the part played by the people of Liverpool in the Battle of the Atlantic. Grounded in early 2000 due to corrosion in the wing spars but following extensive work by BAE Systems at Brough LS326 resumed flying again in July 2008. LS326 is owned by the Royal Navy Historic Flight which is based at RNAS Yeovilton.

The other reference refers to a collision of MV Empire Macalpine:

Commodore Hubbard's report on collision between Empire Ibex & Empire Macalpine

At 17:20 on the 1st July when the Empire Macalpine was landing A/C patrol, she collided with No.68, the Empire Ibex. The carrier was seen after crossing from near the 9th column to pass nearly at right angles through the 7th column and then and then proceeded in towards the 6th column heading between Nos 67 & 68.Shortly before the carrier crossed the 6th column. No.68 was seen to swing about 4 points to starboard. The A/C landed shortly after the carrier has passed midway between the 7th & 6th columns and almost simultaneously the "No landing" signal was made from the carrier. When crossing the line of the 6th column it appeared as if the carrier sheered about 2 points to port and the port bow of the carrier appeared to strike No.68 in the middle line on the port side. The inclination was about 30 degrees leading aft on No.68. Both ships sustained damage that of the Empire Ibex being dangerous. Her No.4 Hold started to fill rapidly and she dropped astern. R/S Perth was ordered to stand by and HMS Nene detached to screen the ships. Empire Ibex was subsequently abandoned at 00:10/2/7 in a sinking condition in 53 30N 36 20W. her master and crew being taken aboard R/S Perth. There were no casualities.

Empire Macalpine reported at 10:30 on the 2nd July that she was making water in No.1 hold and was only able to fly off A/C in an emergency.

A signal was subsequently made to the effect that when landing and flying off A/C the carrier was not to attempt to pass between ships in column. Prior to this accident the Empire Macalpine, which seemed to have a very small turning circle, successfully carried out the operation between columns 7 and 9.It is however suggested that orders be issued emphasising the risk run when carriers attempt to pass through or approach close to ships in column with appearance of crossing vessels.

MAC ship classification
MAC ships were of three different types:

Empire-class grain carriers

Approximately 8,000 tons deep load, 12 knots, 4 aircraft, crew 107, launched December 1942-January 1944. Equipped with hangar and lift. Armament: 1 x single 4 in (102 mm) QF MK IV, 2 x single 40 mm Bofors, 4 x single 20 mm Oerlikon cannons.

Empire-class oil tankers

Approximately 9,000 tons deep load, 11 knots, 3 aircraft, crew 122, launched May–July 1943. BP tankers. No hangar and lift; aircraft maintained and stored on deck. Armament: 1 x single 4 in (102 mm) QF MK IV, 8 x single 20 mm Oerlikon cannons.


Rapana-class oil tankers

8,000 tons standard, 16,000 tons deep load, 12 knots, 3 aircraft, crew 118 (64 RN plus 54 MN), converted 1942-44. Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company tankers. No hangar and lift; aircraft maintained and stored on deck. Armament: 1 x single 4 in (102 mm) QF MK IV, 2 x single 40 mm Bofors, 6 x single 20 mm Oerlikon cannons.

In Jennie McFall's documents about her father (TAG Robertson) the following information (probably from another member of the squadron) sums up the performance of 836 squadron:
1 you remember that 836 squadron operated from 6 grain ships & 11 tankers built/converted into Merchant Aircraft carriers, and that our colleagues from the Netherlands in 860 Squadron manned two additional tankers making a total of 19 MAC ships?....
2 you remember that between May 1943 and June 1945:
  -MAC ships- escorted 323 convoys between UK & Canada/ vice-versa?
  --spent 4,447 days at sea ? [ Presumably this means MAC ships x number of days i.e. average over 19 ships is 234 days over 3 years-MJA]
  --became the largest squadron in the Fleet Air Arm with over:

300 Pilots

836 Observers

150 Telegraphists/Air Gunners

400 maintenance/ repair crew

serving her during the MAC ship era
3 ...flew 1183 days whilst in convoy involving 9016 flying hours from the deck?...
[ the details above indicate 62 aircraft in operation thus averaging  145 hours per aircraft Aircraft flew on about 25% of days at sea, (if interpretation of flying 1183 out of 4447 days is correct) for an average of nearly 10 hours per day.-MJA]
4 -lost 6 Pilots, 5 Observers and 8 TAGS but, to the best of my knowledge and belief, not a ship was lost from convoys with MAC-ship support?.....

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