Front view of HMS Warspite

Front view of HMS Warspite


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Warspite, From Jutland to Cold War Warrior, Iain Ballantyne. A history of the super-dreadnaught HMS Warspite, a warship that played a major part in both World Wars, fighting at the battles of Jutland and of Cape Matapan. An interesting story, well supported by a large number of quotes from sailors who served on the Warspite. Also includes brief histories of the other seven warships to carry the same name. [read full review]


D Day Memories

“We were billeted under canvas near the barracks at Horndean on June 3rd. At this point we were split up, with the main body of men going to the Landing Ship Infantry (LSI), but I was to go with a smaller group under the orders of Captain Archdale, our Company’s second in command. We went first to the naval barracks at Portsmouth, then marched down to Southsea for embarkation.
“We went aboard Landing Craft Infantry (LCI) No. 229 which moved out into its allotted space offshore, expecting to sail that evening. But then came the 24 hour delay. Next day we were allowed ashore for exercise & invited to view HMS Victory, which was nearby.
“On the evening of June 5th we were really on our way. It was a bit overcrowded & a call came for some to sleep on deck. I quickly volunteered my group and our bed that night was tightly packed cases of compo rations.
“We had each been given a letter from the Supreme Commander, together with a booklet on France, so for the first time we knew for sure where we were going.
“I had a good sleep and woke early to be greeted by a truly wonderful sight - the sea appeared to be covered with ships & crafts of all types & sizes.
“We had our breakfast, checked our kit & weapons, and watched! As we got nearer to the coast we could hear the heavy gunfire and we had a lovely view of HMS Warspite in action with her mighty guns hammering away. As we got close to the shore we could hear her shells whooshing overhead, plus many more from the other ships taking part in the bombardment.
“Our landing point was on Sword beach near Ouistreham and there was a hold up which caused us to lay to for some minutes. There was a fair swell rocking the ship and with the hot diesel fumes quite a few of the lads lost their breakfast.
“Finally we got to the beach - the crew of the LCI did well to get the craft between two seaward-facing tripods which had mines on them. An LCI nearby had hit one and was ablaze.
“We grounded, the crew dropped the ramps on each side of the bows and we were on our way with one thought - to get off the beach as quickly as possible. The East Yorkshires & South Lancashires had taken the beach area and the Suffolks were to press through to attack gun positions further back.
“ There was a lot of machine-gun fire but we concentrated on making it to the sea wall, at the same time keeping between two tapes which marked the path beaten by a flail tank.
“A quick dash and we were sheltered by the sea wall. A young lad was there saying he had lost his mates and I told him to stick with us. He was from the East Yorkshires.
“Another dash and we were over the sea wall, past the bungalows, over the road and on to our rendezvous (RV) point in an orchard. Here the Yorkshire lad left us to rejoin his own unit as he knew where they were headed. I trust that he made it safely.
“I was with B Company which now attacked strongpoint ‘Morris’, while A Company tackled strongpoint ‘Hillman’. ‘Morris’ soon gave in and a lot of then turned out to be Italian troops. ‘Hillman’ was a far tougher proposition, and we badly needed the help and firepower of the allotted cruiser, but the Forward Observation Officer (who relayed instructions to the ship’s gunners) was killed and contact was lost. Quite a battle took place with many casualties before it was captured.
“My group reached a piece of high ground a bit further inland and we quickly dug ourselves in. Over to the right we saw a section of enemy tanks trying to fight their way to the beaches through Canadian lines, but the Canadians dealt with them.
“Later in the day we had a wonderful sight - a whole fleet of aircraft swept in from the sea towing gliders. As we watched, the gliders were cast off and headed for a landing near the canal. Soon they were thick on the ground, and how they managed to land without crashing into one another was truly marvellous. They were a very brave lot of men and some of them came to grief.
By the evening of D-Day we were able to settle down a bit. It was two men to a slit trench, one on watch and one resting except for stand to when everyone was on watch.

“That night our sergeant major vanished. He had gone down a lane to contact the next company and we later leaned that he had bee hit by a sniper and had been unable to move. He was picked up by an amphibious DUKW which took him straight to the beach and put him on a landing craft to return to England. He sent us a message from hospital!”

On June 19th Bill was shot in the leg, and he returned to England the next day. For him the war was over.

My story begins on the night of June 5th 1944. Our ship, the Battleaxe, a converted American freighter, was anchored off Portsmouth. Around us, as far as we could see, were ships of all descriptions, all of them with their bows pointing out to sea and France.
On board the boys were playing cards, gambling away their last English money and starting on the French money that had been issued to everybody. At 8.30am the captain spoke over the ship’s microphone: ‘We sail at 21.00 hours tonight’. This was the message we had been waiting for.. At 8.45am the decks were crowded with troops - hundreds of sun-burned, fit young men in khaki, with their safety belts on and everyone with a black triangle on their arms.
On the stroke of nine we weighed anchor. Around us ships were belching black smoke as they got up steam to move off: then we swung into line and began to move out to sea. At 9.30pm, we were all ordered below to get what sleep we could.
Dawn was just breaking, and as we looked out over a rough sea, we could see a huge red glow on the horizon. This must be France.
As we stood there we saw the first signs of action. A destroyer, speeding by about 8 miles from us, struck a mine and blew up, scattering wreckage in all directions.
At 3.30am we queued up with our trays for breakfast of porridge, two hard boiled eggs, four rounds of white bread and butter and jam and a mug of tea. We gave our rifles the once over, filled the magazines, and made sure our ammunition and grenades were ready for use.
At 4.45am the word came over the loudspeaker to get dressed, and at 4.50 the captain spoke. He could see the French coast, he said: it was a blazing inferno and the Navy was shelling it and the RAF stilling bombing it. He said that in a few moments we would be starting off on the biggest landing in history.
Millions of people had been waiting for the Second Front to start, and now that we were about to open it, he wished us God Speed on their behalf - the very best of luck and happy landings! The general feeling was: ‘Let’s get it over with, we have been waiting for it long enough’. We had been training for it, some of us since Dunkirk.
Then came the order: ‘Marines of ALC23, lower away’, and slowly the winches began to turn and we slid down the ship’s side and bumped into the stormy sea. We were then seven miles from shore. We made ourselves as comfortable as possible, some sitting, some standing, but all singing. New songs and old, sentimental, patriotic and ballads, but we all sang.
Now and then as we crested a wave we could see burning buildings near the shore. By this time there was a queer feeling in my stomach. I do not say I was scared, but there was just that feeling of uncertainty of what would happen when we reached shore.
Funnily enough, there was nothing coming back at us, not a single shell came from shoreward. When we were about three-quarters of a mile from land, we saw some of the first wave returning. Their crews waved us on and wished us luck.
No sooner was the ramp down than we began to disembark, as we had been trained to do - in a quick but orderly manner with the platoon officer leading. Down the ramp we went, up to our waists in the icy water, but for once we did not feel the cold. As the boats emptied their loads, they were filled up again with the wounded, to be taken back to Blighty.
At last we reached dry land after struggling through the water, stumbling over the bodies and debris of chaps who had caught a packet.
That beach looked a sight: burning tanks, dead men, both German and British, the Medical Corps running around doing their best for the wounded and helping as many as they could on to the empty boats.
When we were organised, we moved off the beach, keeping under cover of the bank as far as possible, then sprinting across an open space and up a side street lined with burning houses, from which snipers occasionally tried to pick us off.
After passing through this street, we set off across the fields to our pre-arranged rendezvous, a wood about half a mile inland. All went well until we started advancing through an orchard, in which cows, looking somewhat dazed, were still grazing. In the orchard we were continuously fired on by snipers. We were able to get down and enjoy a smoke and munch a biscuit or a piece of chocolate, which we had tucked away in every available corner of our battledress.
By 9am we were ready to start on this next lap of our advance which would carry us three-quarters of a mile further on, to a hill commanding the beach. The Navy was shelling this place now, and 20 tanks were getting into position, ready to shell it too. So B company moved off, going through the wood and onto the road beyond. We followed this road up through a small village, which the Commandos had captured. We continued, and the French peasants came out to greet us.
It was then that we had our first view of the German gun positions on the rise ahead. We stayed by the roadside for a while observing their position. It consisted of 6 concrete pillboxes, some finished, some under construction, each one containing a heavy gun, which fired down onto the beach.
Around the position were two barbed-wire entanglements and to our left was the entrance to the position, which, to our surprise, was still open. By this time I was wondering what was happening. Things looked very fishy. Here we were, almost on top of the place and not a shot had been fired at us. I was not too happy.
I was keyed up for the stutter of a machine-gun as we continued over the open ground up to the first wire. A Bren-gunner was ordered forward to cover the breeching platoon as it worked. Now that answering hail of fire must come, I thought, but instead, to my surprise, white flags began to appear everywhere. Out they came by ones and twos, a woebegone, bomb happy crowd.
We spent the rest of the day there, while the other companies dealt with another position, which fought harder than ours did.
We were still digging in at about 7.30pm when, looking out to sea, we saw a marvellous sight - hundreds of troop carrying gliders, being towed in by bombers. In they came, low over the beach, and on, over us at almost tree-top height, circling around the level plain to our left, which had been cleared of anti-glider stakes by another regiment of our brigade.
Soon all was quiet again. The carrier brought our supplies up and we took out our 24-hour food packs and our little cooker-stand and fuel tablets. The pack contained one bar of plain chocolate, one of fruit, about a dozen sweets, two packets of chewing-gum, two Oxo cubes, blocks of sugar, concentrated meat powder, concentrated blocks of tea, sugar and powdered milk combined for brew making, and also porridge blocks containing sugar, and four pieces of toilet paper. This, and six thick oatmeal biscuits, was enough for one man to live on quite comfortably for one day. By then darkness was drawing on, so guards were set out while the rest of us tried to get some sleep.
All was pretty quiet except for blazing houses on the beach and the crackle of a crashed bomber not far away, while ahead of us the sky was stained red with the glow of the burning town of Caen.
When morning came we found we were near a farmhouse, and the owners of the place came out to greet us, bringing us bread milk and cider. I went to one house to heat up our dinner. The lady of the house opened up a secret cupboard in the wall and fetched out best cider and cognac to give to us.
I gave her a bar of chocolate and cigarettes, much to her delight. She said that she had not tasted chocolate since 1940, and cigarettes were almost impossible to get, and when they were obtainable, only two or three per person. Her husband, she told us, was in a German concentration camp. Her daughter of 20 had been compelled to go to Paris to work for the Germans.

On the 26th of June we got ready for the big attack towards Caen. Extra ammunition and grenades were issued, special emergency rations were given out and we wrote all our mail up to date.
During that night a strong force of tanks and motorised infantry started out from the beach, unobserved by the enemy, and made their way around the back of Caen in a wide circuit so as to cut off any way of retreat to the enemy. The same night the heaviest barrage that I have ever heard opened up on the town.
Next day at noon we moved, but Jerry saw us too, and mortared us unmercifully. Our barrage started again, and the first attack went in. As the troops went forward a signal was given by our mortars, firing blue smoke bombs into the air, to the waiting squadron of Typhoon aircraft, which came over and loosed their loads of rocket bombs.
Our attacking force received very heavy casualties. One company was almost wiped out. We waited for the order to get ready to attack, but this did not come, and later word was sent round that, owing to the withdrawal of our forces, we would have to recapture the wood in an attack at dawn.
So that night we moved from that position to another, and managed to get some sleep and something to eat. We were glad to get away.
At two o’clock next morning we were up and ready for battle, and at three we made our way through the hedge in front of us. The barrage started again as we advanced in open formation across the field ahead.
Our orders were to keep well up to the barrage, and we did. Then came Jerry mortar bombs from behind us: it was a living hell. We advanced over the first field and continued on to the next cornfield.
Two men, one each side of me, rolled over dead. One in front was wounded, and his comrade started to help him back, only to be blown up by a shell that landed at his feet. I was covered with dust and dirt. Shrapnel was whining all around me, some even hitting my steel helmet, and one piece penetrating my equipment belt, while the air reeked with the smell of explosives.
Then all of a sudden we sighted tanks coming over the brow of the hill to our left. Were they ours? As they came nearer we saw black crosses. We covered ourselves with broken boughs, and camouflaged ourselves as best we could. We were all pretty well covered, except for one wounded man.
Soon we were completely surrounded and then about 20 German infantry, mostly boys of 16 and 17, came along, looking worn and shaken. As they passed, somebody was foolish enough to open up on them. He killed two, but then the hedge was swept by fire from the German tanks. Germans came past us now, and all went by without seeing anyone, all except the last one.
He turned and saw the injured man as he passed. ‘Achtung, Tommy, Tommy!’ he shouted, turning and throwing two grenades. These landed very close to me and set my head ringing, and I felt a pain in my arm, but apart from that, I was unhurt.
By now the tanks had turned their guns on us. The Taffy corporal in charge of us said ‘Well boys I think we have had it there is nothing for it but to go out with our hands up and pray God will save our lives’ We slowly got up, expecting to be mown down. No shots came. The Germans searched us for weapons, then formed us up in threes and told us to march. For me the war was over.

Their war was over, but not their friendship.

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HMS Warspite: The Battleship That Fired First on D-Day

Key Point: The shells of Warspite and other Allied naval guns followed the torpedo boats back through the smoke. One of Warspite’s scored a hit and instantly sank a trawler.

To HMS Warspite went the honor of being the first ship to open fire on D-Day, with her shells pummeling a German gun battery that showed signs of life. At 5:30 AM the whole bombardment fleet roared—an awesome ripple of flame and thunder giving the occupiers of Normandy the rudest of awakenings.

Lunging out of a smokescreen laid by Allied vessels to protect their seaward flank off Sword Beach—the primary landing point for British forces on the eastern flank of the 50-mile long invasion front—were three German torpedo boats from Le Havre. Even though shocked and awed by the array of Allied firepower in front of them, the Germans nevertheless launched 17 torpedoes.

The British warships reacted on seeing splashes from the tinfish as they went in the water, Warspite raining every caliber of shell possible down on the enemy craft.

The torpedo boats turned around and made a speedy retreat back through the smokescreen, passing three of their own armed trawlers coming out to have a go.

The shells of Warspite and other Allied naval guns followed the torpedo boats back through the smoke. One of Warspite’s scored a hit and instantly sank a trawler.

In the meantime the German torpedoes claimed a Norwegian destroyer, HNoMS Svenner, but otherwise found no victims. One of the tinfish passed harmlessly between Warspite and battleship Ramillies. The old battlewagons had survived the only naval surface action of D-Day.

Throughout the day Warspite conducted fire missions, often without the benefit of an observation aircraft or forward observer with the troops. She pounded enemy infantry and vehicle concentrations, a command headquarters and also gun emplacements.

Not long after Warspite’s guns had announced the seaborne part of the invasion of Europe, overhead flew the second wave of gliders carrying soldiers of the British 6th Airborne Division.

“All personnel not on full action stations can come up on deck to witness a sight you will never see again in your lifetime,” the Spite’s commanding officer Capt. M. H. A. Kelsey told his crew.

Petty Officer Charles Pearson was one of those able to take advantage of the invitation. “At that moment there was a lull in the shelling and we came out the turret to see what was happening,” Pearson recalled. “Around us other ships were still firing—the Ramillies banging away with her own 15-inch guns, the rocket ships letting rip.”

“Then we saw the gliders coming over, heard the captain’s broadcast and saw the aircraft doing the V for Victory formation,” Pearson added. “It was fantastic, so much noise. It was awesome. Sadly we saw some of the gliders shot down and falling into the sea. A little while later the bodies of the dead paratroopers and wreckage of the planes floated by. It was a bit upsetting.”

And so the great invasion unfolded, with German counter-fire from shore batteries sometimes coming close enough to scythe Warspite’s upper works with shrapnel, but no real damage was caused.

Albert Cock who had been a telegraphist in Warspite during her Mediterranean battles earlier in the war, was now a chief petty officer serving on a minesweeper nearby. “We were fired upon by shore batteries and also bombed by German and American aircraft,” Cock said.

“We were cutting the mines free and destroying them by gunfire. We hit one mine, which caused us serious damage but didn’t sink us. I knew the Warspite was there but we never made visual contact with her although we could hear the big guns banging away all day.”

Other ex-members of Warspite’s crew were heavily embroiled in fighting ashore. They were Royal Marines who had served aboard her out in the Far East before gaining entry to the commando forces. At least three of them died either during the landings or in the subsequent fighting in the Normandy beachhead.

Late on the evening of D-Day, Warspite pulled back from Sword sector and dropped anchor a few miles offshore. The following day the battleship fired against likely enemy troop, vehicle and gun positions. Enemy bunkers also received attention from her guns. Bit by bit the Nazi grip on Normandy was loosening.

Having fired more than 300 shells in just two days, Warspite’s magazines were exhausted, so she retired across the Channel to Portsmouth to load up with more ammunition.

When she returned on June 9, she was ordered to support the American beaches, especially Omaha where troops were hard pressed. Warspite’s assistance was badly needed as the U.S. Navy’s bombardment vessels, including the battleship USS Arkansas, were running short of shells.

Between 4:12 PM and 6:25 PM, 96 rounds of 15-inch were fired, again without the aid of aircraft spotters or forward observers. Warspitedevastated a key enemy artillery position. She was highly praised in a signal from American commanders.

Two days later Warspite was off Gold Beach, where British troops had gone ashore. This time the battleship helped save the 50th Division from a formidable counter-attack by destroying German troops and tanks assembling for the assault in a wood. “Fifty rounds 15-inch rapid fire,” Kelsey commanded.

Midshipman Andy Hamnett’s baptism of fire had been the incredible blast of the Warspite’s own guns on D-Day and since then he had learned to ignore danger.

“Once we reached Normandy I slept on the deck and was fed enormous quantities of pasties, or oggies as they were called,” Hamnett recalled. “As my action station was near a 15-inch gun turret the noise was enormous. My principal task was running messages for the commander [Warspite’s second-in-command], whose name I forget.”

“Another task was to drive one of the ship’s motorboats around the fleet, taking bread from our bakery to the smaller vessels and also landing war correspondents from our ship to Port-en-Bessin. I cannot remember being particularly frightened, but no doubt I took my example from the older men around me.”

Today we can take our example from those elderly veterans, who soldier on despite being frail, with their ranks thinning thanks to the passing of time. They remain determined to pay tribute to comrades and shipmates who gave their lives to save Europe from fascism in 1944.

Warspite was just one of many Allied warships in the massive invasion force. It was a mainly British fleet, working to a plan laid down by Gen. Bernard Montgomery and Adm. Bertram Ramsay under the supreme command of the USA’s Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower.

It is recorded that 156, 115 Allied troops went ashore on D-Day itself, with 83,115 belonging to the British and Canadian forces and 73,000 from the American military.


Catalogue description Records of the HMS Warspite project.

When received these records were divided into two groups - those prior to 1952 and those post 1952. On closer inspection these dates do overlap but this original order has been maintained. Within each group were bundles of documents. Again, these bundles have been left in the order they were received and the order reflected by labels on their original wrapping. See 1000/1/3/3/1 and 1000/1/3/3/2/1 for photographs of salvaging of HMS Warspite.

HMS Warspite was built at the Devonport dockyard in Plymouth, launched on the 26th November 1915, and became one of Britain's most decorated ships of the twentieth century. Nicknamed 'The Old Lady', the Queen Elizabeth Class Battleship, served in both world wars and marked the climax of the race for naval supremacy between Britain and Germany. She has been noted as arguably the greatest battleship the Royal Navy ever possessed. She took part in the battle of Jutland in 1916 and sustained between 13 and 15 hits after her steering gear jammed and she circled in front of the German fleet. Following the Washington Naval Treaty prohibiting construction of new capital ships she received a complete modernisation between 1934 and 1937, being completely rebuilt from interior to exterior. Her superstructure was radically altered, allowing an aircraft hangar to be fitted, and changes were also made to her armament and propulsion systems. In April of 1940 HMS Warspite took part in the Second Battle of Navarik and her reconnaissance aircraft bombed and sank German submarine U-64. At the Battle of Calabria on 9 July 1940, she hit the Italian flagship, Guilio Cesare, at the range of 21 kilometers. Accompanied by sister ships Barham and Valiant at the Battle of Cape Matapan on 28 March 1941, they sank two Italian heavy cruisers in a notable night time engagement. In September 1941, whilst taking part in the landings at Salerno, she was hit by a radio-controlled bomb. She was towed to Gibraltar for temporary repairs and then fully repaired at Rosyth in March 1944. By June 1944 HMS Warspite had been deployed at Normandy and with only three functioning main turrets she took part in the bombardment of Brest, Le Havre and Walcheren Island. In 1946, deemed a total loss and judged entirely unrecoverable, HMS Warspite was sold for scrap by the underwriters to a Mr Richard Bennett [by 1947 Mr R Bennett had set up 'Western Salvage Co Ltd', of Penzance & Bristol.] The Wolverhampton Metal Company Ltd, Wednesfield, then negotiated a contract in August 1947 with Mr R Bennett, under which they were to advance monies against the vessel's much needed non-ferrous metal to be salvaged and delivered, estimated at 1,250 - 1,500 tons [see 'The August Agreement']. Early in 1949, in order to safeguard their financial commitments, The Wolverhampton Metal Company Ltd took over the vessel and entered into a contract with a firm of salvage contractors, 'P Bauer (Salvage) Ltd', London. They were to dismantle the remaining 25,000 tons of steel, non-ferrous metal etc. from the vessel, which was at the time lying at Prussia Cove with a rock piercing her hull. On Sat July 29th, 1950, the salvage firm had a success they floated the ship and began to tow her away from Prussia Cove. Unfortunately the hawser fouled the tug's propellers and she went aground again in an exposed position. On the advice of the salvage firm, all hopes of taking HMS Warspite to the breakers yard were abandoned. Permission to beach her at a convenient site was refused and so demolition began where she was lying. Results were unsatisfactory and expenses too high and so The Wolverhampton Metal Company Ltd directly took over on Jan 25th 1952 [see last letter in file 2 (insurance)]. When the contract with the salvage firm expired, they withdrew their machinery and equipment, effectively meaning The Wolverhampton Metal Company Ltd had to start from scratch, building up a salvage crew and acquiring the necessary equipment. Mr Frank Wilson undertook this task with the help of Messrs Neil Macdonald and Neil Macquarrie as salvage engineers and Mr Duncan Nicholson [see file 5, (N)] as engineer in charge of plant. Meanwhile a search up and down the country was on-going for pumps, compressors, generators, cranes and steel air-lines and by April, 3 months after taking over, The Wolverhampton Metal Company Ltd were contemplating their first major attempt to refloat HMS Warspite. The firm previously employed had used 27 four tool compressors, WM had the advantage of being able to use 2 jet compressors, loaned by the Ministry of Supply, and had expert advice from Rolls Royce Ltd. On May 12th 1952, The Wolverhampton Metal Company Ltd succeeded in lifting HMS Warspite and managed to move her inshore by a quarter of a mile. She then grounded and lay fore and aft across a deep channel and completely broke her back. In order to lighten the ship with the least possible delay it was decided to remover her 21-ton lower armour plates whole, and for this purpose a 25 ton crane was purchased. During this time the diver - Mr Jim Craig - was repairing and sealing where necessary. Further attempts were made to refloat, but it was found impossible to lift the ship again in one piece. It was decided to sever HMS Warspite completely. May 1953 saw the forward end begin coming away at the fracture. By June 27th, she was finally severed and pulled inshore. During this period The Wolverhampton Metal Company Ltd had recovered approx 5,000 tons of steel and 200 tons of non-ferrous metal. As soon as the plates were landed on the deck they were cut into quarters and then sent by The Wolverhampton Metal Company Ltd's own barge to their Penzance Siding Depot to be railed to Sheffield.


Contents

The Queen Elizabeth-class ships were designed to form a fast squadron for the fleet that was intended to operate against the leading ships of the opposing battleline. This required maximum offensive power and a speed several knots faster than any other battleship to allow them to defeat any type of ship. [1] [2]

Warspite had a length overall of 643 feet 9 inches (196.2 m), a beam of 90 feet 7 inches (27.6 m) and a deep draught of 33 feet (10.1 m). She had a normal displacement of 32,590 long tons (33,110 t) and displaced 33,260 long tons (33,794 t) at deep load. She was powered by two sets of Brown-Curtis steam turbines, each driving two shafts, using steam from 24 Yarrow boilers. The turbines were rated at 75,000 shp (56,000 kW) and intended to reach a maximum speed of 24 knots (44.4 km/h 27.6 mph). Warspite had a range of 5,000 nautical miles (9,260 km 5,754 mi) at a cruising speed of 12 knots (22.2 km/h 13.8 mph). Her crew numbered 1,025 officers and ratings in 1915 and 1,220 in 1920 while serving as a flagship. [3]

The Queen Elizabeth class was equipped with eight breech-loading (BL) 15-inch (381 mm) Mk I guns in four twin gun turrets, in two superfiring pairs fore and aft of the superstructure, designated 'A', 'B', 'X', and 'Y' from front to rear. Twelve of the fourteen BL 6-inch (152 mm) Mk XII guns were mounted in casemates along the broadside of the vessel amidships the remaining pair were mounted on the forecastle deck near the aft funnel and were protected by gun shields. Their anti-aircraft (AA) armament consisted of two quick-firing (QF) 3-inch (76 mm) 20 cwt Mk I [Note 1] guns. The ships were fitted with four submerged 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes, two on each broadside. [4]

Warspite was completed with two fire-control directors fitted with 15-foot (4.6 m) rangefinders. One was mounted above the conning tower, protected by an armoured hood, and the other was in the spotting top above the tripod foremast. Each turret was also fitted with a 15-foot rangefinder. The main armament could be controlled by 'B' turret as well. The secondary armament was primarily controlled by directors mounted on each side of the compass platform on the foremast once they were fitted in July 1917. [5]

The waterline belt of the Queen Elizabeth class consisted of Krupp cemented armour (KC) that was 13 inches (330 mm) thick over the ships' vitals. The gun turrets were protected by 11 to 13 inches (279 to 330 mm) of KC armour and were supported by barbettes 7–10 inches (178–254 mm) thick. The ships had multiple armoured decks that ranged from 1 to 3 inches (25 to 76 mm) in thickness. The main conning tower was protected by 13 inches of armour. After the Battle of Jutland, 1 inch of high-tensile steel was added to the main deck over the magazines and additional anti-flash equipment was added in the magazines. [6]


World War II Database


ww2dbase Warspite was among a WW1-era battleship class whose existance had much to do with the influences of First Sea Lord Admiral Sir John "Jackie" Fisher and First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill. Churchill was present when she conducted her first gunnery trials in 1915. In the subsequent months she was damaged twice, first running aground in the Forth then colided with battleship Barham. After repairs, she joined the rest of the 5th Battle Squadron and participated in the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916. She received 15 hits from German capital ships. She lost 14 men and many more were injured while the ship sustained serious damage, plus she was twice hunted by German submarines, but she was eventually able to make it to Rosyth for repairs. Bad luck with collisions and other incidents kept her more so in the shipyards than in battles. At the end of WW1, she was among the ships of the Grand Fleet that received the surrendering German High Seas Fleet.

ww2dbase Warspite served mostly in the Mediterranean Sea in the years following WW1. Between 1924 and 1926, she was modernized, receiving an array of small caliber guns among other changes. She returned to the Mediterranean as the flagship of the Mediterranean Fleet, then spent some time with the Atlantic Fleet. In 1934, she underwent a complete modernization, radically altering her superstructure and adding an aircraft hangar. She returned to active duty in 1937, once again as the flagship in the Mediterranean. In Jun 1939, Vice Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham came abroad as the new commander-in-chief of the Mediterranean Fleet.

ww2dbase WW2 began for Britain on 3 Sep 1939, and Warspite was immediately set sail for the Atlantic from the Mediterranean. In Apr 1940, she operated off Norway and on 10 Apr she lent gunfire support at Narvik where British ships sank three German destroyers and damaged 5 others (all 5 were eventually scuttled to avoid capture). Also off Norway, Warspite's Swordfish biplane torpedo bomber sunk German submarine U-64, making it the first U-boat sinking by aircraft in WW2. In the summer of 1940, Warspite returned to the Mediterranean Sea. At the Battle of Calabria on 9 Jul 1940, her shell traveled a distance of 26,000 yards to hit Italian battleship Giulio Cesare. At the Battle of Matapan on 28 Mar 1941, battleships Barham, Valiant, and Warspite and other ships sank three Italian cruisers and two destroyers. In May 1941, she was damaged off Crete by German dive bombers.

ww2dbase Between Aug and Dec 1941, Warspite received repairs at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in the United States. When she left the shipyard on the Pacific coast, it was decided that she would join the British Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean to counter the new enemy power, Japan.

ww2dbase In Jan 1942, Warspite became the flagship of Admiral Sir James Somerville of the Eastern Fleet, who relocated the Eastern Fleet's base from Ceylon to the Maldives. In Apr 1942, the Japanese attacked Ceylon in force, sinking cruisers Cornwall and Dorsetshire and carrier Hermes Warspite and other ships were dispatched to intercept the Japanese fleet, but they failed to locate it.

ww2dbase In Jun 1943, Warspite once again returned to the Mediterranean and joined Force H at Gibraltar. She provided gunfire support during the Sicily invasion in Jul 1943, and on 8 and 9 Sep 1943 bombarded German positions while fending off air attack during the Allied landing at Salerno. ON 10 Sep, she was among the British ships escorting the surrendering ships of the Italian Navy to Malta. She returned to Salerno on 15 Sep to continue the naval bombardment aimed to assist the Allied ground forces ashore. On 16 Sep, she was attacked by a squadron of German aircraft and struck by three FX-1400 guided bombs. Casualties were minor at 9 killed and 14 wounded, but the ship was crippled as one of them pierced the hull. American tugs towed her to Malta then to Gibraltar for emergency repairs, then she sailed on her own back to Rosyth for permanent repairs.

ww2dbase In Jun 1944, with the Eastern Task Force, Warspite bombarded German positions on Sword and Gold beaches during the Normandy beaches. On the way back to Rosyth, she set off a magnetic mine, causing heavy damage, but was able to return without further incidents. After repairs, she bombarded Brest, Le Havre, and Walcheren. By Dec 1944, Royal Navy warship involvement in the Atlantic was reduced to very little, and she was decommissioned on 1 Feb 1945 before the European War had ended.

ww2dbase Despite pleas to convert her into a museum ship, Warspite was sold for scrap in 1947.

ww2dbase Source: Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Apr 2007

Battleship Warspite Interactive Map

Warspite Operational Timeline

8 Mar 1915 Warspite was commissioned into service.
13 Apr 1940 At Narvik, Norway, a British naval force consisted of battleship HMS Warspite and 9 destroyers under the command of Vice Admiral William Whitworth entered Ofotfjord in the Second Battle of Narvik, Warspite's Swordfish torpedo bomber sank German submarine U-64 with bombs, while surface vessels sank 3 destroyers, with another 5 German ships scuttled by their own crews after suffering extensive damage three British ships were damaged in the battle without their ships, 2,600 German sailors went on land and served as infantrymen Whitworth radioed London, noting that German forces at Narvik were now stranded, and a single brigade could defeat them. Meanwhile, off Trondheim, Norwegian cruiser-minelayer Frøya was damaged by German warships while defending the Agdenes fortress German submarine U-34 scuttled Frøya to prevent salvage.
9 Jul 1940 At 1515 hours, 50 miles south of Italy, heavily escorted Italian convoy for Benghazi, Libya ran into an equally powerful British convoy for Malta. British battleship HMS Warspite hit Italian battleship Giulio Cesare at the range of 24 kilometers, making it one of the longest naval gun hits of the war. Although Italian ships withdrew first, Italian aircraft forced the British ships back by 1700 hours.
12 Jul 1940 In the Mediterranean Sea, Italian bombers attacked British battleship HMS Warspite and cruiser HMS Liverpool between 0850 and 1150 hours. HMS Liverpool was hit by a dud, but it still killed 1 and wounded 2. One Italian bomber was shot down by a Sea Gladiator carrier biplane fighter from HMS Eagle.
8 Oct 1940 The British Mediterranean Fleet departed Alexandria, Egypt to escort a supply convoy to Malta. The fleet consisted of battleship HMS Warspite, battleship HMS Valiant, battleship HMS Malaya, battleship HMS Ramillies, aircraft carrier HMS Eagle, aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious, 12 cruisers, 16 destroyers, and 6 submarines they escorted four British transport ships.
19 Dec 1940 British battleships HMS Valiant and HMS Warspite shelled Italian defensive positions at Vlorë, Albania overnight in support of Greek advances.
20 Dec 1940 The British Royal Navy battleship, HMS Warspite, arrived at Malta's Grand Harbour to a rapturous welcome from the islanders.
3 Jan 1941 At 0530 hours, the British artillery barrage began, hitting Italian defensive positions at Bardia, Libya. At 0600 hours, Australian 6th Division began its assault from the west, clearing anti-tank obstacles for the 23 tanks of the British 7th Royal Tank Regiment that began attacking at 0650 hours. Between 0810 and 0855 hours, battleships HMS Warspite, HMS Valiant, and HMS Barham, along with destroyers, monitors, and gunboats, bombarded Bardia with 244 15-inch shells, 270 6-inch shells, 250 4.5-inch shells, and many smaller caliber shells. The ground forces would penetrate 2 miles into the Italian lines.
7 Jan 1941 Admiral Cunningham's Mediterranean Fleet, consisted of battleship HMS Warspite, battlesip HMS Valiant, aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious, and 7 destroyers departed Alexandria, Egypt, to meet the Excess convoy.
27 Mar 1941 Battleship HMS Warspite, battleship HMS Barham, battleship HMS Valiant, carrier HMS Formidable, and nine destroyers of the British Mediterranean Fleet departed Alexandria, Egypt to hunt for an Italian fleet known to have departed bases in Italy. Four cruisers and four destroyers also departed from Piraeus, Greece, launching spotter planes to search for the Italian fleet, locating it at noon.
28 Mar 1941 150 miles off Cape Matapan, Greece at 0635 hours, Italian seaplane spotted a group of four Allied cruisers, and three Italian cruisers moved in to attack, engaging in combat at 0812 hours, to be joined by the big guns of Italian battleships at 1055 hours after the morning's exchange of shellfire, all four Allied cruisers were damaged by near misses. At 1200 and 1509 hours, Allied torpedo bombers from HMS Formidable attacked, putting battleship Vittorio Veneto out of action for about 90 minutes at the cost of one aircraft. At 1936 hours, HMS Formidable's aircraft returned, joined by land-based aircraft from Crete, Greece, putting cruiser Pola out of action, but failed to catch Vittorio Veneto as she had received temporary repairs and was already en route back to Taranto, Italy. After dark, British battleships HMS Barham, HMS Valiant, and HMS Warspite moved in within 3.5 kilometers of the Italian cruisers undetected, opening fire at 2330 hours on the unsuspecting Italians.
29 Mar 1941 British battleships HMS Barham, HMS Valiant, and HMS Warspite continued to shell the Italian fleet off Cape Matapan, Greece. Italian cruiser Fiume, cruiser Zara, destroyer Alfieri, and destroyer Carducci were sunk, while destroyer Oriani was heavily damaged. At 0400 hours, British destroyers HMS Jervis and HMS Nubian approached damaged Italian cruiser Pola, captured her crew, and sank her with torpedoes. British ships rescued 905 Italian sailors but hurriedly departed at daybreak, fearing Luftwaffe attack the Royal Navy would provide coordinates of remaining survivors to Italian ship Gradisca to continue to rescue. The Battle of Cape Matapan would close with 5 Italian warships lost, killing 2,303 men the British suffered only 3 killed, the air crew of a single torpedo bomber lost on 28 Mar 1941.
22 May 1941 Before dawn, British warships searched for an Axis convoy off the Greek island of Milos after sunrise, German aircraft spotted the ships, damaging HMS Naiad (6 killed), HMS Calcutta (14 killed), and HMS Kingston (1 killed) at 1000 hours. At 1200 hours, HMS Greyhound was sunk (76 killed) and HMS Warspite was damaged (43 killed). Shortly after, HMS Gloucester (722 killed) and HMS Fiji (257 killed) were also sunk. Meanwhile, at Crete, Greece, Australian and New Zealand troops counterattacked at Maleme at 0330 hours, but German 5. Gebirsgäger Division troops repulsed the attack. During the day, additional Ju 52 aircraft brought two more battalions of troops to Maleme. Australian and New Zealand troops were pulled back from Maleme to Suda Bay to protect the main supply point while regrouping for another counterattack.
2 Sep 1943 The British Royal Navy battleships HMS Warspite and HMS Valiant bombarded Reggio Calabria at the southern tip of Italy, eliminating a six gun battery.
6 Jun 1944 HMS Warspite bombarded on the German Villerville Battery in Normandie, France at the range of 26,000 yards at 0500 hours, northeast of Sword Beach.
1 Feb 1945 Warspite was decommissioned from service.
23 Apr 1947 The battleship HMS Warspite was wrecked on the rocks of Mounts Bay, Cornwall, England, United Kingdom, while being towed to the breakers.

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Memories of Shoreham by Sea

I was born in Connaught Avenue, Old Shoreham parish in 1938 and apart from the war years, lived and grew up in Old Shoreham. In 1946 the front gardens were still planted with vegetables. The big air raid shelter was in position on the green that separated the even number houses on the north side of the road from the odds on the south side. Orchard Close had not been built and the land was owned by the Worley family.

A Connaught Avenue winter in the 1950’s (photo Bartlett Collection)

The Grammar School Gymnasium and playing fields were also on the north side where Mr Chitty was the groundsman and caretaker, he lived with his wife in a house adjacent to the school gymnasium. No 1 Connaught Avenue on the corner with Freehold Street was a shop run by Mr Stephens who was quite elderly and sold household goods and tinned foodstuffs. A bell was triggered by the front door that summoned Mr Stephens into the shop. In those days most of the houses were occupied by the original buyers having been built in the1930s.

The Grammar School Gymnasium near where the southern entrance to Greenacres is now (photo Shorehambysea.com)

Many of the children born in Connaught Avenue, spent the first twenty or so years of their lives there. At the western end of the Avenue on the north side near Walnut Cottage there were some thatched cottages on the elbow in the road where it turns north, there were also the ruins of two thatched cottages, whose roofs had collapsed into the rooms and the whole was covered with stinging nettles. On the opposite side of the road there were a number of very old elm trees that were in a dangerous condition and in 1948 were cut down. A bungalow was later built on the land. At the extreme end of the Avenue, near to what is now the Amsterdam.

The old cottages and elm trees near the top of Connaught Avenue (photo Doris Steers Collecton)

Mrs Winifred Perryman ran a little grocers shop in the thatched cottage next to the Amsterdam until about 1960 when it became an antique shop. Mr.Perryman worked for the Miles Aircraft Company at the airport and he set up a model steam railway that ran along an elevated line through his large orchard garden on the corner of Connaught Avenue opposite the old Post Office. On weekends during the Summer Mr Perryman would steam up his engine and run it to the delight of eager youngsters who looked on through the knot-holes in the fencing. This fence surrounded the old and ruined flint terrace of cottages that later became the Amsterdam.

It was about 1952 or so when the the terrace was converted into one building originally called the Blue Dolphin, the owner was a Mr Winter, before it became the Amsterdam. The row of Victorian cottages behind it were called Hoopers Cottages. The land in front of Perrymans shop was a lane with an island of grass, fenced off with chestnut fencing. This parcel of land is now the car park for the Amsterdam.

Perryman’s cottage on the left with the derelict terrace alongside it. Hooper’s Cottages can just be seen behind to the right (photo Shorehambysea.com))

On the ground backing onto the railway line, there was a large rusty corrugated iron shed, it had been used by Mr Robins, for repairing cycles, and my father said the shed was originally used by a blacksmith. Mr Robins moved to Ham Road, and set up business as a garage opposite the Police Station, I think he was in partnership with a Mr Perkins. Most people are aware that in 1966, Dr. Beeching the Transport Minister closed many of the British Rail branch lines. One such was the Horsham to Shoreham line, a steam line. The Toll Bridge was operated by British Rail and they took a fee for crossing the bridge, the toll keeper also operated the railway gates, and the signals.

The Toll Bridge railway crossing and toll house (photo Bartlett Collection)

Further down Connaught Avenue near the town centre was West Street where my grandparents and uncles lived for many years from the early 20th century and consequently I spent a lot of my childhood there visiting them.

The row of houses making up numbers 23 to 41 was known for years as May Terrace and was so called, I was told, because it was built by the Shoreham ship builder William May for his employees. My grandparents and their six sons occupied 41 West Street.

The top half of West Street – May Terrace is on the left (photo Shorehambysea.com)

Curiously the front door to 43 opened into a passage-way between 43 and 49 which gave access to two cottages that were on land between Victoria Road and West Street. These cottages later became uninhabitable, were demolished and the land was absorbed into the gardens of 49 to 61. Apparently the cottages had no running water or drainage services. They faced onto Sugden Place I think it was called and would have been 45 and 47 (hence the gap in today’s numbering of 43 and 49). My father remembered the cottages and thought they went in the 1920s.

One story in our family goes back the early 1920s. Frank Dorey had been dressed in a new sailor suit in readiness for Sunday school attendance. His mother sat him on the flint wall between the back gardens of 41 and 49. My uncle George had been attempting, unsuccessfully, to make a pond near the wall but it just became a muddy patch. He hid the mud beneath an old newspaper and said to Frank “I bet you can’t jump down onto this newspaper ” – he did, and got covered in mud. His mother, seeing the muddied clothes went barmy and started shouting at my uncle who beat a retreat out into the roadway where the threats of retribution could still be heard along the street. I was not told of the outcome.

In 1945 Frank Suter was living next door at 39. Frank had a parrot that he sometimes gave an airing by putting its cage in the back garden but when this happened I wasn’t allowed into my grandparents’ garden because the parrot, as I was later told, quite frequently used the ‘F’ word.

When the war ended a succession of servicemen returned to West Street, which was decorated with bunting hung across the road. Brown paper notices declaring ‘Welcome Home’ Bill etc were dispayed on walls outside the homes concerned. Welcome home parties were often held in St Peters Church Hall in Ship Street. Sadly some of the West Street sons and daughters didn’t return and a list of those who gave their lives are displayed inside St Georges Chapel at St Marys church.

In those early years after the war cars in the street were virtually unknown and it wasn’t unusual for residents to leave their front doors open. Retired folk sat on a chair outside their front door and chatted to neighbours and passers by. My father who lived in the street from 1913 until 1937and told me front doors were only shut to keep the cold out as theft and burglaries seldom occurred because everyone knew each other and kept a wary eye on strangers. Residents were on christian name terms with deliverymen like the milkman, postman, and bread roundsmen. Almost everyone had a daily newspaper so jobs for older children were always available to deliver the dailies, Evening Argus and, on Thursdays, the Shoreham Herald.

Like many streets in Shoreham, a number of characters resided there. Mrs Reed at number 54 had spent much of her life at sea and in the 1940s sat on a stool by her front door, she always wore a dark blue roll-necked seaman’s sweater, and she smoked a pipe.

In mid 19th century my mother’s grandfather James Nutley, was the licensee of number 5, the Builders Arms, which was subsequently occupied by the Payne family whom my mother knew. Mr and Mrs Payne had three children Ivan, Mac, and Nina, and in the immediate years after the war following the death of their parents Nina had married a Canadian soldier and they all emigrated there.

As a small boy I often visited no 5 when it was no longer a pub and there was a huge cellar where the barrel trestles still lay. In the upstairs rooms, there were a couple of bagatelle tables and a large upright music machine which for a penny played music off a very large circular metal disc. In the cellar were a number of racing cycles – Ivan, Mac, and Nina had at one time belonged to Worthing Wheelers cycling club. The house was cleared in 1948 or so and I believe Mac let the house and returned to Canada. Access to the yard was from the High Street.

Mrs Payne, her daughter Nina and a young Gerry White (photo author)

Left: Number 5 West Street – once the Builders Arms (photo Shorehambysea.com)

No 9a was occupied by Mr Wimble who suffered from Parkinsons disease having to be dressed and undressed by others, poor chap. He had been employed at the Shoreham Chemical Works and the family attributed the illness to him handling chemicals, the illness was never properly diagnosed. He was married to my Dad’s aunt Alice, nee Bareham. As a boy I used to visit him to run errands, usually to Lakers on Saturdays for six Herrings and 1/2 pint of winkles, then to Browns the greengrocers in the High for potatoes and veg. and ensure the change included enough pennies for the gas meter

During the 1940’s the flint faced part of the Old Dairy building was occupied by Mr Dyer, a coal merchant, who kept his horses and delivery cart there which he later replaced by a lorry. Mr Dyer’s spinster daughter lived near us in Connaught Avenue. My father said that as a young lad during early 1920s Mr Dyer would clean a cart down and especially groom a horse to take Sunday school children to Bramber for their annual outing. A ‘bun fight’ would take place in the castle grounds. I believe Mr Harker who ran Harker’s Stores in the High Street, was still using the upper part of the flint faced building to store straw that he sold for animal feeds.

The Old Dairy (photo Shorehambysea.com)

Before WW1 my father’s uncle Leonard, after whom he was named, was a milkman at the old dairy and on the outbreak of war enlisted in the 2nd Batallion of the Royal Fusiliers. His regiment was part of 38 Brigade that fought at Cape Helles on the Dardanelles in 1915 and later on the Western front. Tragically, Leonard was wounded a few days before the Armistice was signed, died on 16th Nov 1918 and is buried in Mill Lane Cemetery,

The house on the south side of the Twitten was once a shop, it was called Leazells. Mrs Leazell sold bread and a small range of tinned foods but the war years meant that there was not much to offer. She sold buns to the catholic school and milk was delivered to her shop then collected by class monitors to St Peters School across the road. She also had a large birdcage in her garden where she looked after injured birds. If any of us kids took in an injured bird we were rewarded with toffees.

When it rained we used to play with tennis balls against the curved wall of the railway bridge and the girls skipped with long ropes. In those days the only traffic in West St was pedestrian except for the odd horse and cart which was either Mr Dyer the coalman or Mr Patching with his horse Dobbin.

During the late 1940’s Sid Saunders, known as Crutchy, lived at number 7A. He had lost a leg, was a cobbler, and repaired shoes at home. He had a pet duck, which accompanied him for his daily lunchtime pinta in the Bridge Hotel. Also one house maybe no 11, was occupied by Mr Mitchell, who was chauffer for Mr White of Whites Timber Co. The only car parked in the street in those days was Mr White’s expensive Rover, a very smart and highly polished beige coloured motor.

20 & 22 West Street was originally a Methodist Chapel but from1945 it was used for something of a less than divine purpose (dependent on your point of view) when it became a factory for by Durex Ltd. Eric Long a local man was employed as a ‘test pilot’ – he released a blast of air into the sheaths to test their elasticity and soundness. The building was used from the mid 1950s as a boys club, and latterly as a snooker club.

The old Methodist Chapel – now the Shoreham Snooker Club (photo Shorehambysea.com)

I can remember that the Thorpe family lived at number 9, one of the flint-faced cottages. In 1945 I attended St Peters Roman Catholic School in West Street with Michael Thorpe. Some of those cottages had a stairway down to a cellar, just on the left inside the front door.

1n 1945 number 34 was occupied by Rose Offord, she regularly called at 41 to visit my grandmother to have her ‘tea leaves ‘read. No 44 is where the Ellis family lived I attended St Peters RC School with June Ellis also went to the nearby catholic school and her brother John went on to be a superintendent for the Southdown Bus Company in Brighton.

In the 1940s the old barn on the corner with North Street had the stable doors facing into West Street, directly under the wooden beam. There was no entrance on the North Street side. It only housed one horse which in my time was called ‘Dobbin’ On Saturday afternoons I used earn sixpence cleaning the stable, polishing the harness and running errands for the owner Mr Patching who had the ironmongery store on the corner with the High Street.

The delivery cart was put into the back of the stable with much clanking of tins and various hardware goods that festooned the rear of the cart. I seem to remember that the roof of the building was covered with rusty corrugated iron sheeting and a pedestrian door within the main stable doors which facilitated access for Mr Patching without having to open the larger doors. For many years Mr Patching sponsored a road running race for teenagers in the town. It started in Mill Lane, then to Buckingham Road ending up at the finish line on the Upper Shoreham Road near Oxen Avenue where cup was presented to the winner.

The school in West Street here was the Roman Catholic St Peters school where children attended from primary to school leaving age, then 15. The gap in the wall is where a wrought iron gate hung giving access to the playground. The teaching staff were headed by Sister Aloysius Clarke, with Sisters of Mercy, Paul, Baptist, and Mary Mercy who were ably assisted by Miss Sirett, Miss Haggerty and the only male Mr Hilton. I have very happy memories of my years at St Peters, despite primitive toilet facilities that had just one toilet to flush three traps. The school badge was St Peter’s crossed keys. Discipline was strict but not severe and despite the occasional pupil caning that occurred it was for me a happy and pleasant learning atmosphere. The Convent for the holy Sisters and some boarders, was between the school and the railway line.

Returning to Old Shoreham – in 1947 up near the Red Lion two houseboats were berthed either side of the Toll Bridge and on the north side the boat was the home of the Rothwell family. The rear of the boat faced towards the Steyning Road. It had been a ships lifeboat, or at least that is what Robin Rothwell who lived there with his parents and three sisters told me. It was about 40 feet long and firmly moored into a deep channel that had been dug out of the riverbank. The boat had no electricity and water was supplied from a hosepipe laid across the railway line and under the rails from the house on the other side. Robin told me that they illuminated the boat by oil lamp.

On the south side of the bridge, Mr Northeast had a houseboat that appeared to have been a barge where he lived alone. In about 1949, the Duke of Norfolk’s Estate office told the houseboat owners to move off from his land and the boats were moved to about five hundred yards north of the Bridge and Mr Northeast berthed in a creek by Cuckoos Corner. in the early 1950s, the Rothwell family were eventually housed in Shoreham.

Thought to be Mr. Northeast’s old houseboat some years after it was returned from its Cuckoos Corner mooring (photo Peggy Bailey Collection)

At the bottom of The Street there was a farm, the farmer was Mr Frampton who had a florid complexion and I remember he wore knee length gaiters. There was a large wooden barn that was set east/west opposite the farmhouse and farmyard. The barn sat alongside a big lambing field. In Springtime Mr Frampton brought his ewes into the barn for lambing and locals made something of a pilgrimage to visit the lambing field to see the newborn lambs.

The milking parlour was on the East side of The Street next to the farmhouse. The yard had been cemented over to make it easier to wash it down and keep reasonably clean. The dairy herd was grazed in a field opposite Adur Lodge at the top of The Street. I believe the Ellman Browns lived in the Lodge, the former home of Squire Colvill Bridger. A big house at Lesser Foxholes was owned by John Rawlings and his wife who owned the Sussex Shipbuilding Company on Shoreham Beach, they carried out repairs and built Naval craft. I believe he had also been the Commodore of the Sussex Yacht club. I knew his gardener Freddie Tester who, like my Mother came from Portslade. Fred’s sister Ivy married a Shoreham man Mr Priest, and they lived in a house in The Street.

Inside St. Nicolas church (photo Sussex Archaeological Society Collection)

The Old Shoreham Church of St Nicholas, has its roots in antiquity. In those days after the war, the Rev Percy Shelley was the vicar and he held a Sunday School in the church. I recall helping my cousin David, with pumping the organ, which was done by hand. The church always had a damp smell and it was as cold as charity. Old Shoreham in 1948 was very rural and was out of time step with New Shoreham. It was easy to distinguish between the two.

Some of the children I remember in Connaught Avenue and the Old Shoreham Road were Tim Mahoney who lived on Commercial Terrace next to the Swiss Cottage pub. Anthony Payne of Freehold Street – his father lost a leg in the war and earned a living repairing shoes from home, John Lyne joined the Merchant Navy and became a Master Mariner Malcolm and Graham Snelling whose parents ran the butchers’ shop in the High Street Barry Hamilton whose nickname was “Spanner” his dad was Jock Hamilton who had a garage on Victoria Terrace, Brian, Eileen and Rosemary Parsons – Mr Parsons worked at Power Station brothers Robert, Ronald, Royston, Roderick, Roland, and Roger Riggs – although Roy was a submariner in the Royal Navy for a while most of the brothers (and eventually Roy) entered various aspects of the building trade and are still well known working in Shoreham.

Phillip Sirrett also joined the Royal Navy as a lad and completed a full career there as did Keith Sharp of Colvill Avenue a crippled lad called Michael Humpreys who propelled himself in a wheelchair that had a hand turned pedal cylcle chain that turned the front wheel Burstow was a builder Funnel’s Dad was the High Street furnisher John Landale was a lifeboatman for many years. Colin Ulph became a town councilor at quite a young age John Lyne joined the Merchant Navy and became a Master Mariner. As for me, when Dad was called up Mum took me to Fishersgate where we were bombed out, evacuated to Hamilton then on D day came back to Shoreham – initially to West Street then on to Connaught Avenue. I was called up for national service but stayed in RAF for 23 years at home and overseas. (other children’s names that Gerry recalls are listed at the end of this story)

Some Children were not given the freedom to roam but many were. We had the Downs, river, brooks and beach to play on. The seasons tended to dictate what we did. During summer months children went pritching flatfish (using a stick with a nail on the end to impale the fish) in the Adur especially at low tide and at high tide fished off the Toll bridge. In late summer, blackberries could be picked on the furze on Truliegh Hill and violets on Erringham Shaw along the Steyning Road. In springtime many local children had a small collection of birds eggs, not allowed now of course.

Picking wild flowers at Coombes and Small dole. Making a cart was fun – a box was usually put on a set of old pram wheels with a moving axle that could be steered. We could set off on a cart, which would zoom down Mill Hill then Erringham Road. One of us would be stationed at the top of Mill Lane watch for traffic and if nothing was coming the cart would continue down Mill Lane to Victoria Road. The speed and vibration often caused the cart to break up and the heels of shoes quickly wore out.

We hunted for frog spawn, minnows and newts in Meads Meadow and the Brooks along the Steyning road. On the Downs, in long grass, in summer a kick would raise a whole host of Burnet moths and little blue butterflies that are not now seen in such large numbers. The game of ‘I Spy’ helped to increase our knowledge of nature and bird names. Seeing Mr. Frampton’s combine harvester and threshing machine always caught the imagination as it cut, threshed, and bound the straw keeping the grain as if by magic.

The Norfolk Cinema, later named the Ritz, had a Saturday morning film show, when popular cowboy and other films were shown. There was often a serial that usually stopped at a critical time in the action to encourage us to return the following week to find out what happened. As the cinema emptied after each performance some would run up the road shouting “I want to be Roy Rogers” (or Hopalong Cassidy etc.,), slapping their backsides, to simulate riding a horse.

The excitement of the films though would soon be forgotten when we returned home to be brought down to earth with shopping chores, to Worrals for heavy spuds, cabbages and garden peas – the money for Saturday flicks had to be earned.

Shopping chores in the High Street (detail from a Doris Steers Collection photo)

In winter the Brooks and Swiss Gardens Lake sometimes froze over when it was possible to skate there. Early in the winter of 1947 we, awoke to find a 3ft snow drift against the front door of the house which faced north. My Father was unable to travel to his place of work at Crawley despite struggling to get to the railway station, to find that no trains were running. Our next door neighbour’s daughter Hazel Norris and I managed to get to our school even though the snow was over our wellington boots. However, Miss Haggerty, our teacher at St Peters RC School was waiting to tell us to return home. We were pleased to be excused school but Hazel and I were were somewhat miffed at having to return home. “No making snowballs but go straight home” Miss Haggerty said. Our little school was frozen out and as the days progressed further into winter so more snow fell and the ground froze.

Work for my father at Crawley was impossible as the sand had frozen, house construction stopped, plumbers, bricklayers and all the workers were sent home. I think that all work at Crawley was held up for three weeks…an almost unheard of period of time. The dole queues that winter were long.

I remember at the Swiss Gardens the manager, Mr Bond, opened the gate on Freehold Street and crowds of people skated on the lake. Mr Bond kept his pet Alsatian dog on a short lead whilst so many folk were in the grounds. I think the ice was at least one foot thick of ice and supported the weight of many people ,… It remained so for about 10 days before a loud screeching noise from the ice told us it was melting. Apart from the winter of 2010 I don’t ever remember so much snow.

Swiss Gardens Lake (photo Doris Steers Collection)

The most significant change to Old Shoreham of course has been the loss of farmland and the construction of dwelling houses. The closure of two farms, Old Shoreham and Little Buckingham owned by Mr Frampton, and Mr Nye have both gone. Obviously the value of housing showed a better profit than the continual hard toil on the land.

Even the allotments, on the South side of the once Old Shoreham School, were given over to the construction of St Nicholas Court. The garage at the eastern end of St Nicholas Lane was sold to provide more building land. The Grammar School gymnasium and playing fields now lie under the Greenacres housing estate. The grammar school moved to Kingston Lane and took over what had been another private school called Caius School, pronounced ‘Keys.’ The thatched cottages in The Street and the top of Connaught Avenue however have managed to survive and now command good prices.

Above Old Shoreham stands Mill Hill now savagely sliced through by the A27 Shoreham by-pass. Despite that the view of the Adur Valley from there is still well worth the climb.

(photo Peggy Bailey Collection)

A nineteenth century Vicar

To build a splendid chapel

That is seen from out to sea

That flows from out the land

From Mill Hill the sight is still

Nature’s picture, a silver sea

The Airport and bridges one two three

That carry traffic east to west

Shoreham folk and visitors

The view from here is marvellous

Gerald White

Other children’s names recalled:- Terry Wells Sonia Sharp David and Joyce Ellams Jennifer, John, and Peter Landale Helen Samson Robin and Mary Rothwell Harry James Stephen Hambrook John Horton Jean Bird Peter, Teddy, and Wendy Weller Joy Shepherd Rohna Cotman Brian Booker Joyce O Connor and brother Donald George Andrews Anthony Gilbert Pauline Tate Sylvia Gammans Keith and Sonia Sharp Brian Burstow David White John Kennard and Kenneth Hambrook Brian Firth Brian Winter Anita Thomas Sylvia Bettridge Hazel and Kevyn Norris Anthony, Margaret, Christopher, and Peter White Michael Beeler Pauline, Venita, and Graham Hedger Connie Munnery The name Richard or Dick Hall also comes to mind as do the surnames of Kimber & Carpenter.


Front view of HMS Warspite - History

Have been following your site for some time now with special reference to HMS Warspite. I trained at HMS St. George 1942 - 1944 and joined Warspite in March 1944. Saw action at D-Day and Walcheren and left her for the BPF in March 1945. With me as Boy Telegraphists were Fred Sparkes (lost at sea his escort vessel torpedoed in April 1945) Fred Cross, Charlie Leggat, Ken Austwick and perhaps others I do not remember. I am 87 and retired in Toronto, Canada since 1997.

Regards,
Anthony F. Balch (C/JX371512)

During a clear out of our garage I have found a commemorative coin engraved "A C Lynch - HMS Warspite 1941-43", set within a letter opener. I'm sure it's not worth much although may be of sentimental value to someone. If anyone knows anything please get in touch through the site.

Thanks,
G. Whitehouse
Leicestershire

A very interesting site. I'm helping a friend find out any info on her late father, Henry Arthur Brown RM. He was a gunner on the Warspite during WII. I noticed a couple of questions from readers asking about crew lists. Are there any? How can I read the responses to the postings?

Thanks,
Clive Richards
North Wales

At this point I don not have any crew lists, but am always hoping to obtain some. All responses are posted in yellow text below the original message (like this one).

Michael W. Pocock
Webmaster

Anyone have any information on the time some of the crew spent in Bremerton, Washington, USA 1941? My father was there "Reginald Albert Rainbow" and I have attached a couple of newspaper cuttings that he had from that time.

My dad, Leslie Lee, served on the Warspite during World War 2. Apparently he was known as Geordie. Dad left behind two photograph albums (one is with my son and the other with my nephew) containing scenes of battles, burials at sea and a couple of certificates - one collected the first time he crossed the dateline and the other (from memory) collected as part of the first fleet into the South China Sea after the fall of Singapore. One of these certificates has several signatures of his shipmates on the reverse side. Would it be worth my asking the holder of that particular album to dig it out in order for me to send you the names of the signatories?

Regards,
Joyce Newton (nee Lee)

My dad, Reuben Love, was on the Warspite during WW2, he was in Malta and was in Bremerton Naval Yard, we all went to Canada for a holiday in about 1983. The naval gateman remembered the Warspite and let my dad have a look round! He also told us about the local cafe he used there. Dad also told us when his ship was damaged he was in the water for a long time and had to swim about 7 miles. He did not talk much about the war but he loved the Warspite. He was also sent to Japan at the end of the war. He was from Bexleyheath in Kent.

My father, Frank Goland BRACKING, served aboard HMS Warspite. He was born in 1919 and joined Warspite when he was 15 or 16 years old, so he joined the ship around 1934/1935. He rose to the rank of Petty Officer. If anyone has any knowledge about my father or recalls mention of his name, I would love to hear.

I am trying to find photos, pictures in fact anything about my grandfather who was in the Royal Marines band in 1913 and served aboard Warspite during the Battle of Jutland. My father and his dad were estranged and it wasn't until recently we found out he had been on HMS Warspite let alone had a service record. Any help would be gratefully appreciated. My grandfather was Edward James Bedford.

Many thanks,
Darren Bedford
Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, UK

I would like to respond to Darren Bedford in Uttoxter. He is looking for his grandfather, Edward Bedford, who is also my great grandfather and I would like to contact him to see if I can give him any more information.

My father B. Hill served on her from 19th Mar '41 'til 25th Aug '42, first as Stoker 1st class then as Acting leading stoker.

I came across your site and decided to get in touch. My father, John George Finan, was on the Warspite when it as attacked in 1941 and spent many hours in the sea before being rescued. I wondered if you had any information on him or on the attack? He passed away some years ago and was a very quiet man who never spoke about it. I had given up any hope of finding out more until I saw your site (which is excellent).

Kind regards,
Margaret Bradley-Smith
London, UK

I have just recently started to look into the history of HMS Warspite as my grandfather said he used to serve on her. He told us many stories of his time on board. After speaking with my mother, I have learned that we are apparently, in possession of a pennant? from the ship. My grandfather "acquired" it when the ship was struck by enemy fire during a battle. If I can find out more information from my mother, I will of course take pictures of anything we have and forward them on if they are of any use to anyone? I will get hold of his diary and see where exactly it was taken from and during which battle.

Kind regards,
Edward Whitmore

In Relation to the above message. He refers to his Grandfather, but does not give his name unfortunately. I have a letter written by a relation who was on board HMS Warspite on D-Day. He wrote whilst on the ship at that time, to my father Tom Tyler (RAF Coastal Command). The letter is very graphic, emotional and accurate. It also gives a very detailed account of the bombardment from a deck perspective, however he has only signed it with his first name. The name Whitmore (Nottingham England) is one of our Family connections and related through the TYLER line. I would be interested to know if Edward Whitmore is related to the Tyler's of Nottingham and if it was his Grandfather that wrote the letter I have. If so what was his name, as I have several Whitmore relatives still living in Nottingham and I would also be pleased to send him a copy of the letter if it was indeed written by his Grandfather.

Kind Regards,
Tom Tyler
Australia

I'm very sad to announce that my father, Arthur Graham Swatman, passed away Saturday 1st December at the age of 86. He was proud to have served on HMS Warspite at D-Day and also at Walcheren near the end of WW2. I'm very proud that my father has a small part in the history of the famous ship. Neither he nor the Warspite will ever be forgotten.

My father was a crew member on the Warspite during WW2 and being the humble man that he was he spoke very little of his time on board and to my knowledge even never bothered to collect his campaign medal after the war. Now I am older and my father has passed away I am finding myself more and more interested in finding out more.

My fathers name was Ernest Edward Tottman and all I know is he served on board the Warspite and that his older brother died in navel service during the WW2, which my father never spoke of, so all I know is he was a Tottman as well. Please can you point me in the right direction to find out all that I can.

The only Tottman I can find listed as lost in service in the Royal Navy is one William Christopher Tottman,
Able Seaman lost in HMS Cornwall Apr. 5, 1942.

Michael W. Pocock
Webmaster

My father George Hargreaves served as a gunner on the HMS Warspite in WW2 he was born 1924 in the West Midlands. He is still alive at 88yrs but has little memory of his Navy career, all he has is photos which I have been looking at of crew members but we can't put names too, as I get more info I will forward it to you how do I send you photos? Thanks for a great site.

My Dad served on the HMS Warspite. His name was Allan Harold Bishop from Cavendish Trinity Bay, Newfoundland. I would love to have some info or photos, ANYTHING THAT CONCERNS MY DAD. He was in the Second World War.

Thanks so much,
Florence Cumby

I would like to add my father to your list of former Warspite crew, he was in the Royal Marines passing out from Chatham in Feb 1944. His name is John Welch born October 1926 lived in Derby, UK worked for British Railways died October 1997 if anyone does know of him feel free to contact me.

Regards,
John F. Welch
Sydney, NSW, Australia

My father also passed out at Chattham in February 1944, in the 298 SS Squad Royal Marines and went on to join the HMS Warspite. His name was William Charles Coleman. I have a photo of the passing out, which shows a chap surname of Welch on the back row a few places along from my father. Would be pleased to hear from John.

H.O. 298 S.S. Squad Royal Marines (Passed for Duty February 12th 1944)
Top row: Snooks, William Coleman, Gratton, Marchant, Careswell, Webb, Welch, Pedley, Dray, West, Mitchell, Nightingale, Bender.

Center row: Hewitt, King, Babb, Parish, Berry, Townsend, Goldsmith, Whitehead, Bristow, Plail, Burnett, Heggs, Wingate, Croucher.

Front row: Brooks, Lake, Turner, Clark, J. Holmes, Sgt. E. A. Wood (Instructor), Pike, Dykes, Jones, Wye, P. Holmes, Russell.

My Father, telegraphist Walter Christopher Shaw, served aboard HMS Warspite in the Mediterranean in the early years of the Second World War under Admiral Cunningham. Some 50 years on there was a reunion, I think in Devon, at which it was requested that each sailor wrote of his experiences. My Father, not a man of words, did that, and I'm about to rewrite them on a computer, the original having been written (or transcribed) via a typewriter.

My questions does anyone know the date of that reunion, where it was held, was there (is there) a Warspite Association and did my Father submit his contribution. He gave me some photos, which ended up at the Training Ship (TS) Barham in Wembley around 1964. I believe he had some of the final minutes of the demise of HMS Hood although how he came by them I have no idea. My Father died in November 2008 at 101+ years (born 13/07/1907).

I have recently found out that my great grandfather served on Warspite during the First World War, and I would like to learn more about the ship and the people on board. I believe he was a Royal Marine (family tradition!) but he studied at the Naval music college so could also have been a bandsman. It would be lovely to hear more either about him, the ship or the people he served with, if anyone has any further information.

His name was Edward (Eddie) Bedford and was born about 1898 but we do not know too much about him as he left my great grandmother when she was expecting her second child and as far as we knew he was pronounced "missing in action, presumed dead". We have recently found out however that this was not the case and that he actually divorced my great grandmother and went on to marry twice more, but I suppose the stigma of divorce in the 1920's was far greater than it is now and she wanted to cover it up!! I look forward to hearing from anybody who may be able to help.

My mum has recounting stories told by my grandfather that we had a crew member from Warspite in the family. I suspect it would have been during WWI. The images I have seen of her are amazing. Do you have others as I am trying to build a nice album for mum and if I could find out who it was in our family that served it would be great. Perhaps a little hint in which direction to look for roster info would be appreciated.

Kind wishes and regards from,
Adam Mordecai
Guernsey, UK Channel Islands

I have a copper box made out of a part of HMS Warspite handed down to me from my mother, who had been given it by her father. I cannot prove the provenance of it, but I have no reason to believe it is untrue. My family lived near Portsmouth and my grandad was in the Army and he had three brothers in the navy.

My grandfather, Joseph Smith, was a Chief Stoker onboard HMS Warspite at the Battle of Jutland. He described to me the shell hits during the battle and gave me a lump of shrapnel he picked of the deck after the battle which I still have.

Allan Smith
Rothesay, Isle of Bute, Scotland

While clearing out personal effects of my uncle, George Rodney Hudson of Bremerton, Washington, I came upon a photo of two gentlemen. On the back of the photo, in my uncle's hand, is the following: Bill Andrews-Left & Jock Mann- H.M.S. Warspite. 1941 My uncle owned and operated a small café near the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard where Warspite was situated for repairs and replacement of its 15 inch guns in 1941. The two gentlemen look to be wearing civilian cloths and may be seated in my uncles café when the photo was taken. I would not be surprised if my uncle took them under his wing as he served in the U. S. Navy during WWI and held the British Navy in high regard. If anyone would like this photo I would be happy and honored to forward it to them.

Douglas G. Hudson
Bremerton, Washington

I have a photo of my granddad's brother on the HMS Warspite and thought it would be of interest Jim Parkinson is in the centre of the photo with a cross marked on his hat.

I have just seen the below photo of my father being on HMS Warspite. He also served on HMS Phoebe, but can't find him on the crew lists. So it seems he was on HMS first. His name was Godfrey William Bartlett, nickname Boy. He was very young perhaps someone knew him? Second row , second from the left. Anyone who knew him?

Crewmen on HMS Warspite in June 1918.

My dad served as radio operator in 1941-2. He came down with polio while on shore leave in Malta and was declared unfit for ship board service. He ended his military service in Y Service working on intercepts that were instrumental in the cracking of the Enigma Codes at Bletchley Park.


Battleship HMS Warspite

The battleship HMS Warspite belonged to the Queen Elizabeth class, which were put into service during the First World War and belonged to the most modern warships of the time.

Launching and design:

The ships of the Queen Elizabeth class were intended as a successor to the Iron Duke class, but these should exceed in many respects.

So the main armament of the caliber was to be increased 343 mm to 381 mm. Appropriate prototypes of such new guns were still in the testing, but only by the pressure of the First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill these were included in the construction, which represents a significant risk, should the guns are not yet mature enough.

Also, the armor was significantly strengthened in the area of ​​the sides and under water, as especially mines and torpedoes could be dangerous to the warships and severe damage, if not the destruction of the ship could result. The cover armor, on the other hand, was not reinforced because it was considered sufficient.

In the subsequent construction program of 1912 initially three battleships of the class were considered, in addition to an improved battle cruiser HMS Tiger, which was intended as HMS Leopard. After the ships were expected at a speed of 25 knots, the Navy Department decided to renounce the Leopard and to build a fourth battleship of the Queen Elizabeth class. Then, when the Federated Malay States promised to finance a fifth battleship, this too was included in the planning.

Criticism from the Director of Naval Construction that such a project could only be realized by using fuels with heavy oil and not in connection with coal was filed by Winston Churchill, who guaranteed oil supply even during wartime as responsible.

The launching of the HMS Warspite took place on 26 November 1913, the commissioning on 19 March 1915.

Use in the war:

After the commissioning and the test drives the HMS Warspite was assigned together with the sister ships the 5th battle squadron.

On the night of 31 May to 1 June 1916 the ship took part in the Battle of the Skagerrak. Together with the battlecruisers, the battleships formed the front line, which is why the ships also had the most firefights with the German ships. When the main battle took place in the evening and a course change was ordered for the British ships, the helm of the HMS Warspite got stuck, causing the ship to go in a circle. It received several hits from the German battlecruisers SMS Lützow and SMS Derfflinger. Overall, the ship received 13 hits, but it was not sunk by the strong armor and had no deaths. When the helmets worked again, the Warspite had to leave the battle early.

The repair of the ship lasted until August 1916.

By the end of the war, the squadron was still making some forays in the North Sea, but there was no further contact with the enemy.

Damage on the HMS Warspite after the Battle of the Skagerrak

Damage on the HMS Warspite after the Battle of the Skagerrak

Use after the war:

After the First World War, the HMS Warspite remained in the 5th Battle Squadron.

The first conversion took place from 1924 to 1926. Here, the protection against topredo attacks was particularly reinforced in the torpedo bulges were attached to the hull. In addition, the drive system was rebuilt and the two chimneys combined into one.

After the conversion, the ship moved to the Mediterranean fleet and served there as a flagship. This function also exercised it later in the Atlantic Fleet.

1934 began the second reconstruction of the ship. In the process, large parts of the structures were removed and replaced by new ones. The drive system was exchanged, so that now 5,000 hp were available more. The savings in weight was put into reinforced deck armor, as the risk of air attacks on large warships increased and they were poorly equipped against such attacks from above. As a defense of the air defense eight 102-mm guns in double gun carriages, 32 40-mm guns in four eight-horse carriages and 16 added 12 12.7 -inch Vickers machine guns in four quads.

After the conversion work was completed, the ship was re-incorporated into the Home Fleet.

Use in the Second World War:

When World War II broke out in Europe, HMS Warspite was in the Mediterranean, but was ordered back to Britain in early September 1939.

When the occupation of Norway by Germany began on 9 April 1940 and the first British attack on the German ships in Narvik failed on 10 April, the British closed the exit of the fjord. On the afternoon of April 13, HMS Warspite entered the port of Narvik with five destroyers. After several hits first the German destroyer Erich Koellner was sunk and afterwards the Erich Giese. The German submarine U-64 fell victim to one of the aircraft on board the Warspite. In the evening, the British ships left the harbor again, as the threat of attacks by German submarines was reported. After landing Allied troops, the Warspite was withdrawn from Norway and relocated to the Mediterranean.

It came on March 24, 1941 in the eastern Mediterranean between Cape Matapan and the island of Gavdos to a battle with the Italian Navy. After Germany had to intervene in the war between Italy and Greece, the Allies began with the transfer of troops from North Africa to Greece. To stop these transports, Hitler put pressure on Mussolini to let his warships run out and attack. The British convoy had to run west of Crete around the island to stay out of range of German bombers. The Italian squadron leader Vice Admiral Angelo Iachino intended to attack the British ships there. However, by deciphering German radio traffic, the British were aware of the attack and even let their battleships run out. After the battle of the small cruisers in the morning, British planes tried to find the Italian ships in the afternoon. By luck, they could be found in the evening, as they accompanied the damaged battleship Vittorio Veneto. The British battleships then opened the fire and could sink the destroyer Alfieri and the small cruiser Fiume and Zara within a short time.

In May 1941, the German Wehrmacht began the occupation of Crete. The drawn to support HMS Warspite was hit on 22 May by a bomb from a German bomber. The bomb broke through the deck and exploded in the casemate deck, which in turn led to further fires on the ship. The hit cost 38 crew members the life, also both the middle artillery and the anti-aircraft guns on the starboard side. The ship therefore had to cancel the support and ran in Alexandria for a makeshift repair.

On 23 June, the port of Alexandria was attacked by German bombers and the Warspite was again damaged by an aerial bomb. Two days after the attack, the ship was relocated to Bremerton in the United States, where it was fully operational again until the end of December 1941.

Following the Warspite moved to the Indian Ocean and served there until mid-1943 as the flagship of the Eastern Fleet.

As part of the Allied landing in Sicily and Salerno the HMS Warspite was relocated to support in the Mediterranean. While the landing in Sicily was without major losses, the landing at Salerno was different. On September 13, 1943, the German Kampfgeschwader 100 attacks on the Allied ships and thereby used the new sliding bomb FX 1400 (Fritz X). The ships USS Savannah, HMS Uganda and the HMS Warspite were severely damaged. The Warspite then had to be taken to the shipyard for repair by two tugs to Malta.

As the ship was already scheduled to land in Normandy, it was repaired in Malta only temporarily and then brought to the UK.

During the landing in northern France, the ship with only three operational turrets support the soldiers by the bombardment of the fortifications and bunkers of the German Atlantic Wall. After the completion of the operation, the ship ran back to the UK.

View of the deck of HMS Warspite on July 3, 1943

The HMS Warspite during the bombardment of the German Atlantic Wall

Whereabouts:

After World War II, HMS Warspite was decommissioned and sold in March 1946.

On the way to the port where the ship was to be scrapped, the tow ripped and the ship ran aground at Land's End, southwest of Britain. The demolition work could finally be carried out from 1950 on site and lasted until 1956.

Ship data:

4 Brown-Curtis steam turbines

from 1937:
6 Admiralty cauldron

2 x 10,2 cm L/45 anti-aircraft guns

2 x 76 mm anti-aircraft guns

4 x torpedo tubes ∅ 53,3 cm

8 x 38,1 cm L/42 Rapid fire guns

8 x 15,2 cm L/45 Rapid fire guns

Upper armoured deck: 32 - 45 mm

Lower armoured deck: 25 - 76 mm

Front command tower: 102 - 279 mm

Aft control station: 102 - 152 mm

Cross bulkheads: 51 - 152 mm

You can find the right literature here:

British Battleships of World War One

British Battleships of World War One Hardcover – November 15, 2012

This new edition of a classic work on British battleships is the most sought after book on the subject. Containing many new photographs from the author's exhaustive collection this superb reference book presents the complete technical history of British capital ship design and construction during the dreadnought era. Beginning with Dreadnought, all of the fifty dreadnoughts, 'super-dreadnoughts' and battlecruisers that served the Royal Navy during this era are described and superbly illustrated with photographs and line drawings.

The British Battleship: 1906-1946

The British Battleship: 1906-1946 Hardcover – October 15, 2015

Norman Friedman brings a new perspective to an ever-popular subject in The British Battleship: 1906-1946. With a unique ability to frame technologies within the context of politics, economics, and strategy, he offers unique insight into the development of the Royal Navy capital ships. With plans of the important classes commissioned from John Roberts and A D Baker III and a color section featuring the original Admiralty draughts, this book offers something to even the most knowledgeable enthusiast.

British Battlecruisers 1905-1920

British Battlecruisers 1905-1920 Hardcover – December 15, 2016

The brainchild of Admiral Sir John Fisher, battlecruisers combined heavy guns and high speed in the largest hulls of their era. Conceived as "super-cruisers" whose job it was to hunt down and destroy commerce raiders, their size and gun-power led to their inclusion in the battlefleet as a fast squadron of capital ships. This book traces in detail the development of Fisher's original idea into the first battlecruiser Invincible of 1908, through to the "Splendid Cats" of the Lion class, and culminating in HMS Hood in 1920, the largest warship in the world for the next twenty years. The origins of the unusual "light battlecruisers" of the Courageous type are also covered.

The well-publicized problems of British battlecruisers are examined, including the latest research throwing light on the catastrophic loss of three of the ships at the Battle of Jutland. The developmental history is backed by chapters covering machinery, armament, and armor, with a full listing of important technical data. The comprehensive collection of illustrations includes the author's superb drawings and original Admiralty plans reproduced in full color. This revised and updated edition of the classic work first published in 1997 will be welcomed by anyone with an interest in the most charismatic and controversial warships of the dreadnought era.

British Battlecruiser vs German Battlecruiser: 1914–16 (Duel)

British Battlecruiser vs German Battlecruiser: 1914–16 (Duel) Paperback – November 19, 2013

Battles at Dogger Bank and Jutland revealed critical firepower, armor, and speed differences in Royal Navy and Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial German Navy) Battlecruiser designs.

Fast-moving and formidably armed, the battlecruisers of the British and German navies first encountered one another in 1915 at Dogger Bank and in the following year clashed near Jutland in the biggest battleship action of all time. In the decade before World War I Britain and Germany were locked in a naval arms race that saw the advent of first the revolutionary dreadnought, the powerful, fast-moving battleship that rendered earlier designs obsolete, and then an entirely new kind of vessel - the battlecruiser. The brainchild of the visionary British admiral John 'Jacky' Fisher, the battlecruiser was designed to operate at long range in 'flying squadrons', using its superior speed and powerful armament to hunt, outmanoeuvre and destroy any opponent. The penalty paid to reach higher speeds was a relative lack of armour, but Fisher believed that 'speed equals protection'. By 1914 the British had ten battlecruisers in service and they proved their worth when two battlecruisers, Invincible and Inflexible, sank the German armoured cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau off the Falklands in December 1914.

Based on a divergent design philosophy that emphasised protection over firepower, the Germans' battlecruisers numbered six by January 1915, when the rival battlecruisers first clashed at Dogger Bank in the North Sea. By this time the British battlecruisers had been given a new role - to locate the enemy fleet. Five British battlecruisers accompanied by other vessels intercepted and pursued a German force including three battlecruisers although the battle was a British tactical victory with neither side losing any of its battlecruisers, the differences in the designs of the British and German ships were already apparent. The two sides responded very differently to this first clash while the Germans improved their ammunition-handling procedures to lessen the risk of disabling explosions, the British drew the opposite lesson and stockpiled ammunition in an effort to improve their rate of fire, rendering their battlecruisers more vulnerable. The British also failed to improve the quality of their ammunition, which had often failed to penetrate the German ships' armour.

These differences were highlighted more starkly during the battle of Jutland in May 1916. Of the nine British battlecruisers committed, three were destroyed, all by their German counterparts. Five German battlecruisers were present, and of these, only one was sunk and the remainder damaged. The limitations of some of the British battlecruisers' fire-control systems, range-finders and ammunition quality were made clear the Germans not only found the range more quickly, but spread their fire more effectively, and the German battlecruisers' superior protection meant that despite being severely mauled, all but one were able to evade the British fleet at the close of the battle. British communication was poor, with British crews relying on ship-to-ship flag and lamp signals even though wireless communication was available. Even so, both sides claimed victory and the controversy continues to this day.


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