Happy Ending to Eighteen Months of War Service
HMS 'Ruler' belongs to that class of useful, if somewhat ugly, warship as escort carrier, or assault carrier, which helped the Allies to victory in two great oceans of the world.
.America, badly in need of flight decks from which to operate air cover for her island-hopping forces in the Pacific, turned to the escort carrier to supplement her slowly accumulating fleet of more ambitious floating aerodromes. More production methods were invoked and in 1943 dozens of this type of ship came off the stocks of United States shipyards. A number of these were handed over to Britain under lease-lend.
One of them was the 'Ruler'. She was completed in December 1943, nearly 500 feet long and having a gross registered tonnage of 15,000. Trials were completed about the middle of March when 'Ruler' headed south for the Panama. She then completed several journeys including Vancouver, New York, Liverpool. At the end of January 1945 the long voyage east began. A brief call at Gibraltar was followed by a longer stay at Alexandria and passage of the Suez Canal took place on 17th February. Colombo was expected to be the destination but Far Eastern strategy was changing swiftly and within a few days 'Ruler' was on her way to Sydney. She passed under the famous bridge on 16th March. Both squadrons on board went ashore and spells of shore leave were interspersed with more training. From one of these 'Ruler' was hurriedly summoned to go north.
The British Pacific Fleet was making its first strike directed against Sakashima, an enemy base South of Japan which, if unmolested, might have bolstered up still further the fanatical resistance then taking place on Ikinawa. The Fleet required aircraft replenishments. 'Ruler' re-embarked 835 Squadron and as much other material as she could carry and headed for Layte in the Philippines. Stores were transferred and decks cleared for action as orders had been received to go further North again to give air cover to the Fleet while oiling at seea between the strikes of its next onslaught on Sakashima.That involved a month at sea, during which patrol after patrol was flown off and landed on to provide the necessary protection against surprise attacks by suicide bombers and other forms of aerial warfare beloved by the Japs.
At the end of that time many units of the Fleet went to Sydney for rest and refitting. 'Ruler' put into Manus, teamed up with the 'Implacable', then newly arrived in the operational area and, with cruisers and destroyers in company, gave the beleaguered garrison of Truk another pounding with bombs, rockets and shells.Finally, on 5th July, although then overdue for a return to the comforts of Australia, 'Ruler' sailed on what was to prove the last naval operation before the end of hostilities. She steamed North for a week and then, off Japan, played a similar role to that which she filled off Sakashima.
When the occupation of Japan began, she steamed into Tokyo Bay and dropped anchor on 31st August. It was then 'Ruler's. privilege to pick up 445 happy men, women and children who had assembled in Tokyo to take them to Sydney in September 1945 after many years in captivity.
A poem for the children on 'Ruler' written by L.S.A. Nicoll
Come children dear, lash up and stow
Your tiny sleepy heads!
Here comes the bogey R.P.O.
To pull you from your beds.
Is Jo-Jo on the big see-saw?
But where are John and Sally?
Margaret's on her prancing horse
With David - in the galley.
It's 'rise and shine', the morning's fine
My little Eddie Wee
Come Valerie and Jacqueline
Let's see the sparkling sea.
Amah's in the forward heads
Washing out your clothes
And Dad is in the Radar Mess
- snoring through his nose.
It's morning on the 'Ruler' kids
We're such a happy band
With Santa Clause upon the bridge
And bound for fairy-land.