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Frederic Logghe
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Queen Elizabeth


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HMS Queen Elizabeth was the lead ship of the Queen Elizabeth-class of Dreadnought battleships, named in honour of Elizabeth I of England. She saw service in both World Wars.

She was launched on 16 October 1913 at Portsmouth, Hampshire, and entered service in January 1915 during World War I.

While still undergoing testing in the Mediterranean, the Queen Elizabeth was sent to the Dardanelles for the Allied attempt to knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war. The Queen Elizabeth was the only modern battleship to participate, though a number of battlecruisers and pre-dreadnought battleships were also involved. She became the flagship for the preliminary naval operations in the Dardanelles Campaign, leading the first line of British battleships in the decisive battle of March 18, 1915. During the military invasion of the Gallipoli on April 25, the Queen Elizabeth was the flagship for General Sir Ian Hamilton, commander of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. However, after the sinking of HMS Goliath by a Turkish torpedo boat on May 12, the Queen Elizabeth was immediately withdrawn to a safer position.

She joined Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas's 5th Battle Squadron (consisting of Queen Elizabeth-class battleships) of the Grand Fleet based at Scapa Flow, but she missed the Battle of Jutland due to being in dock for maintenance.

Between the wars she was the flagship of the Atlantic Fleet from 1919 to 1924. From 1924 she was the flagship of the Mediterranean Fleet. She was extensively re-built, coming out of refit with an all new superstructure, her 6-inch (152 mm) guns removed and in their place she received 20 4.5-in (114 mm) guns and several smaller anti-aircraft guns. She also received facilities for aircraft with a launching catapult amidships.

During World War II, she was part of the Mediterranean Fleet. She was mined and sunk by an Italian human torpedo attack on 18 December 1941 in shallow water in the harbour at Alexandria, Egypt. Although low in the water, her decks were clear and the Italian crews were captured. She was able to maintain the illusion of full operational status, concealing the weak British position in the Mediterranean, until raised and patched up for the journey to the United States Navy Yard in Norfolk, Virginia where she was repaired. From there she was sent to the Pacific, where she served from 1944, taking part in raids on Japanese bases in Indonesia. She returned to Britain in July 1945, and was sold for scrap in March 1948.

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Warspite


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HMS Warspite was a Queen Elizabeth-class battleship of the British Royal Navy. She was launched on 26 November 1913 at Devonport Royal Dockyard. She was, and is, one of the most famous and glamorous of names in the Royal Navy. Warspite would, during World War II, gain the nickname "The Old Lady", after a comment made by Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham in 1943.

Warspite, and the rest of the class, was the brainchild of two men. One was Admiral Sir John 'Jackie' Fisher, who was First Sea Lord when the first all big-gun battleship, HMS Dreadnought, came into existence. The other was Winston S. Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, who was paramount in getting the Queen Elizabeths off the drawing board and into the water; but he was also influenced in a number of decisions about the Queen Elizabeths by Lord Fisher, who had been persuaded to come out of retirement by Churchill.

Warspite's first commanding officer upon commissioning in 1915 was Captain Edward Montgomery Phillpotts. Warspite joined the 2nd Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet and undertook a number of acceptance trials, including gunnery trials, which saw Churchill present when she fired her 15 in (381 mm) guns and suitably impressed him with their accuracy and power. In late 1915, Warspite grounded in the Forth causing some damage to her hull; she had been led by her escorting destroyers down the small ships channel. After repairs, she rejoined the Grand Fleet, this time as part of the newly formed 5th Battle Squadron which had been created for the Queen Elizabeths. In early December, Warspite was involved in another bit of bad luck when, during an exercise, she collided with her sister-ship Barham, causing considerable damage to Warspite.

In 1916, Warspite, and the rest of the 5th Battle Squadron, were temporarily transferred to David Beatty's Battlecruiser Force. On 31 May, Warspite took part in her first, and largest, engagement in her career, the Battle of Jutland. Warspite received fifteen hits from main armament guns from the German capital ships, which resulted in considerable damage, so that she came close to foundering. Her steering jammed after she had attempted to avoid collision with her sister-ship Valiant. Her captain decided to stay on course, in effect going round in circles, rather than stop and reverse, a decision that would have made Warspite a sitting duck. These manoevres saved Warrior, for the Germans switched their attention from the badly damaged cruiser to the more tempting target of a battleship in difficulty. This gained her the eternal affection of the crew of Warrior, who believed Warspite's actions were intentional. The crew finally regained control of Warspite after two full circles, though the actions undertaken to stop her circling had the negative aspect of potentially taking her straight towards the German High Seas Fleet. So the order was given for Warspite to stop to allow repairs, after which she was underway once more. Warspite would, after the Battle of Jutland, be plagued with steering problems for the rest of her life.

During the battle, Warspite suffered fourteen killed and many wounded. She sailed, despite considerable damage, for home after being ordered to do so by Rear-Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas, commander of the 5th Battle Squadron. On her journey home, on the June 1, she came under attack from a German U-boat which unsuccessfully fired two torpedoes at her. A second attack occurred soon after, with another torpedo launched but again missing. Only a short while after that incident, Warspite confronted a U-boat directly in front of her; she attempted to ram the U-boat but failed. She safely reached Rosyth, where her damage was repaired.

Upon the completion of those repairs, Warspite rejoined the 5th Battle Squadron. Further misfortune soon struck, when she collided once more with a sister-ship, this time HMS Valiant, forcing Warspite to receive yet more repairs. In June 1917, Warspite collided with Destroyer. The following month, Warspite was rocked at her moorings in Scapa Flow, when HMS Vanguard, a St Vincent-class battleship, blew up after an explosion in one of her ammunition magazines, resulting in many hundreds of lives being lost on Vanguard.

In 1918, Warspite suffered a fire in one of her boiler rooms, forcing her to receive more repairs. Later that year, on November 21, Warspite, along with the rest of the Grand Fleet, set sail to receive the German High Seas Fleet into internment at Scapa Flow. The High Seas Fleet would mostly be scuttled by the Germans in 1919 while in internment at Scapa Flow.

In 1919, Warspite joined the 2nd Battle Squadron, part of the newly formed Atlantic Fleet. She would spend much of her time in the Mediterranean while part of that Fleet. In 1924, she took part in a Royal Fleet Review at Spithead, with King George V present at the event. Later that year, Warspite underwent a partial modernisation, which included the addition of new small calibre guns as well as increased armour protection and the alteration of parts of her superstructure. The modernisation was completed in 1926. That same year, after spending so much time in the Mediterranean as part of the Atlantic Fleet, Warspite was finally based there when she became the flagship of Commander-in Chief, Mediterranean Fleet, as-well as also acting as flagship of the Second-in-Command, Mediterranean Fleet.

In 1930, Warspite rejoined the Atlantic Fleet. In September 1931, she was ship of the watch at Invergordon during the initial stages of the Invergordon Mutiny. She was at sea when other major warships of the Atlantic Fleet mutinied.

In 1934, Warspite received a complete modernisation. Her superstructure was radically altered, allowing an aircraft hangar to be fitted, and changes were also made to her armament and propulsion systems. The modernisation was completed in 1937, Warspite returning to active service that same year. She deployed once more to the Mediterranean, becoming flagship of the Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet. However, she was delayed for a number of months due to problems with her propulsion machinery and with the steering blight left over from Jutland in 1916 still causing problems. She was further hit by two unfortunate incidents: at one she came close to hitting a passenger liner with shells, and she subsequently fired, accidentally, into the Maltese city of Valletta with her anti-aircraft guns (AA).

In June 1939, Vice Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham replaced the previous Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet. On 3 September that year, war was declared, and the UK was once more at war with Germany, but not Italy, yet. Warspite subsequently left the Mediterranean to join the Home Fleet where she became involved in a variety of hunts for German capital ships who were intent on acting as commerce raiders. Warspite, however, made no contact with any German capital ship during her searches.

In April 1940, Warspite served in the Norwegian Campaign, providing essential battleship support during the Second Battle of Narvik, when Warspite and numerous British destroyers attacked eight German destroyers trapped in Ofotfjord, near the port of Narvik. Vice-Admiral William 'Jock' Whitworth, leader of the operation, transferred his flag to Warspite on the day the battle commenced. Warspite's Fairey Swordfish, a bi-plane fragile in appearance, attacked and sunk the German U-boat U-64, to become the first aircraft to sink a U-boat in World War II. The German destroyers were soon engaged by the British destroyers. One heavily damaged German ship, the Erich Koellner, was destroyed by broadsides from Warspite. Warspite targeted the Diether von Roeder and Erich Giese, the former was scuttled by the ship's crew, while the Erich Giese was destroyed by Warspite and destroyers. The objective of eliminating all eight German destroyers, who were running out of both fuel and ammunition, was achieved with minimal loss.

During the summer of 1940, Warspite was transferred to the Mediterranean theatre and fought in several engagements. The most important of these were the important strategic victory at the Battle of Cape Matapan in which 3 cruisers and 2 destroyers were sunk in a night action, and the Battle of Calabria. Her sister ships were all heavily damaged during their time in the Mediterranean. HMS Barham was sunk and Valiant and Queen Elizabeth both spent time resting on the bottom of Alexandria harbour after their hulls were holed in an attack by Italian frogmen. Warspite stayed afloat but was damaged several times.

During the Battle of Calabria she was credited with achieving the longest range gunnery hit from a moving ship to a moving target in history. This was a hit on the Giulio Cesare at a range of approximately 26,000 yards (see also the Scharnhorst, which scored a very long range hit on the Glorious in June 1940). Warspite also took part in the naval portion of the Battle of Crete, where she was badly damaged by German bombers.

In 1941, Warspite departed Alexandria, and began her journey to the USA, where she would be repaired at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton. Repairs and modifications there began in August and ended in December, which included the replacement of her worn out 15-in guns. She was still at the shipyard when Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese. After working-up around the west coast of North America, Warspite departed the area to join the Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean.
Warspite underway in the Indian Ocean, 16 July 1942.
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Warspite underway in the Indian Ocean, 16 July 1942.

In January 1942, Warspite joined the Eastern Fleet, becoming the flagship of Admiral Sir James Somerville, who had, in 1927, commanded the Warspite. As part of the Eastern Fleet, Warspite was based in Ceylon and was part of the fast group of the Fleet, which also included the two carriers Formidable and Indomitable, while four slow Revenge-class battleships and the old carrier Hermes comprised the slower group.

Somerville soon decided to relocate his Fleet for its own protection. He chose the Addu Atoll, part of the Maldives, to be his new base. Despite the threat of Japanese attack, Somerville had sent two heavy cruisers, Cornwall and Dorsetshire and the carrier Hermes back to Ceylon. In early April, two Japanese naval forces began the Indian Ocean raid. One force was led by a light fleet carrier, the Ryujo and included six cruisers, while the second group included five carriers which had launched the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, and four battleships. They were deployed to the Indian Ocean to search for Somerville's Eastern Fleet, at that time, the only significant Allied naval presence in the area. The first sighting of the Japanese occurred on 4 April 1942, and orders were given for the two detached cruisers to return to the Fleet. The Fast Group, including Warspite, set sail from their base with the objective of launching a strike against the Japanese forces within the next few days. All three ships that had been detached from the Fleet, the Cornwall, Dorsetshire, and Hermes, were eventually sunk by Japanese forces with the loss of many lives. An attack on the Japanese forces by Somerville's fleet never occurred, and the Japanese soon left the region altogether, after failing to find and destroy the Eastern Fleet. The rest of Warspite's time in this theatre was largely uneventful, with only limited naval operations by the Royal Navy occurring in that theatre. Warspite departed the area in 1943, heading once more for the Mediterranean.

In June 1943, Warspite joined Force H, based in Gibraltar, and took part in Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily, in July, along with the battleships Nelson, Rodney and Valiant, and the carriers Formidable and Illustrious. Warspite began her bomdardment of Sicily on July 17, when she poured heavy fire onto German positions at Catania.

Between 8 and 9 September, Force H, covering the landings at Salerno, came under fierce German air-attack, but shot down many German planes. On 10 September, Warspite, who had battled the Italian Fleet during her time in the Mediterranean in 1940-41, led them, now surrendered to the Allies, into internment at Malta.

Warspite was back in action on 15 September, at Salerno. The American sector was in a precarious situation after the Germans had counter-attacked, and the day Warspite and Valiant arrived at Salerno they commenced a bombardment of German positions that effectively saved the Allies. However disaster soon struck Warspite, for on 16 September she was attacked by a squadron of German aircraft, armed with an early guided missile, the Fritz X (FX-1400). She was hit three times, one of them striking near her funnel, ripping through her decks and causing immense damage, making a large hole in the bottom of her hull, and crippling much of Warspite as it did so. Casualties were minor; 9 killed and 14 wounded. Her appearance had dramatically changed in just a few moments, from an imposing battleship to one shattered and war scarred. She was soon on the journey to Malta, being towed by United States Navy (USN) tugs. She reached Malta on 19 September and undertook emergency repairs there before being towed to Gibraltar. Warspite then moved back to the UK for further repairs at Rosyth, in March 1944.

On 6 June 1944, Warspite took part in the Normandy Landings as part of the Eastern Task Force, firing on German positions to cover the landing at Sword Beach. She subsequently helped support the Americans on their beaches. "X" turret, badly damaged by the FX 1400 attack, remained inoperative. She also helped support Gold Beach a few days later. Her guns worn out, she was soon sent to Rosyth to be regunned. On the way, she set off a magnetic mine, causing heavy damage, but made it to Rosyth safely. She received only partial repairs, enough to get her back into action for bombardment duties.

After repairs, she bombarded Brest, Le Havre and Walcheren, the latter of which was an assault on that island which began on 1 November, with Warspite providing support for the troops, in what was to be the last time she fired her guns. Largely inactive since Walcheren, Warspite was placed in Category C Reserve on 1 February 1945. Following the end of the war, there were pleas to retain Warspite as a museum ship like Lord Nelson's HMS Victory, but they were ignored and the ship was sold for scrap in 1947.

She had survived Jutland, the many horrors of the Second World War, and post-World War I RN cuts, and in 1947 Warspite would achieve one more victory when she escaped the indignity of the breakers yard. After already experiencing trouble on the journey to the breakers due to a storm, she broke free of her anchor, subsequently running hard aground in Prussia Cove. It was a defiant end to her career, and Warspite had to be scrapped in situ over the next few years. The work was finally completed in 1950. Warspite had gained the affections of some of the most famous figures in the UK, including some of the most revered Royal Navy commanders in its history, Sir Andrew Cunningham in particular, and became a legend, her name becoming synonymous with majesty and courage. She was arguably the greatest battleship the Royal Navy ever possessed.

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Valiant


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HMS Valiant was a Queen Elizabeth-class battleship of the Royal Navy laid down at the Fairfield shipyards, Govan on 31st January 1913 and launched on 4th November 1914. She was completed in February 1916.

In World War I she served in Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas's 5th Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet. She took part in the battle of Jutland, 31st May 1916, where she escaped damage. However in August that same year she collided with HMS Warspite and was in repairs until September.

Between 1929 and 1930 she underwent a major refit. Antitorpedo bulges were added, increasing beam to 104' / 31.70m. The two funnels were trunked into one and a single octuple 2pdr mountings were added. Two of the torpedo tubes removed, and the aircraft platforms were replaced by a single catapult. These modifications brought the maximum displacement up to 35970 tons.

In 1931 her crew participated in the Invergordon Mutiny.

In 1936 a second octuple 2pdr mounting was added. Between March 1937 and November 1939 she underwent a second major refit at Devonport. The machinery was changed to eight Admiralty 3 drum boilers with four Parsons steam turbines producing a total of 80000shp. Fuel load was 3393 tons oil, and maximum speed was reduced to 23.5kts despite the increase in power, due to the increase in displacement and draught. The secondary armament was changed to 20 x 4.5"/45 Mk I guns in twin mountings and four octuple 2pdr mountings. These modifications increased draught to 32' 10" / 10.00m and maximum displacement to 36513 tons.

She was one of three capital ships to take part in the Destruction of the French Fleet at Mers-el-Kebir, and saw action at the Battle of Cape Matapan; she participated in actions during the battle of Crete, and was struck by two bombs. Along with her sister ship Queen Elizabeth, Valiant was mined and sunk by Italian frogmen in Alexandria harbour in December 1941. She had in fact only sunk a few feet to the bottom of the harbour and her decks remained clear. Although immobilised she was able to give the impression of full battlereadiness. She was raised, repaired in South Africa, and then returned to the Mediterranean to support the landings in Sicily (Operation Husky) and at Salerno (Operation Avalanche) in 1943.

She was sent to the Far East in 1944 as part of the Eastern Fleet, taking part in raids against Japanese bases in Indonesia. On 8th August 1944 whilst in the floating dock at Trincomalee, Ceylon, she was severely damaged when the dock collapsed with the result that repairs were stopped and she had to return to the UK, where she was decommissioned in July 1945.

Valiant was a training ship at Devonport for the rest of her career. She was sold for scrapping in March 1948.

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Barham


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HMS Barham was a Queen Elizabeth-class battleship of the Royal Navy named after Admiral Charles Middleton, 1st Baron Barham, built at the John Brown shipyards in Clydebank, Scotland, and launched in 1914.

In World War I, she collided with her sister-ship Warspite in 1915. In 1916, she was Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas's flagship of the 5th Battle Squadron temporarily attached to Admiral David Beatty's Battlecruiser Fleet at the battle of Jutland, where she received five hits and fired 337 shells.

During the 1926 general strike she and HMS Ramillies was sent to the River Mersey to land food supplies.

She was less extensively modified between the wars than her sisters. Among her captains was Percy Noble.

In World War II she operated in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. She was damaged by a German submarine torpedo in December 1939, while at sea north of the British Isles.

In September 1940, she took part in Operation Menace, a British naval attack on Dakar, Senegal prior to a landing by the Free French. Barham engaged the French battleship Richelieu. On September 25th, the Richelieu hit Barham with a 15-inch (381 mm) shell. The French submarine Bévéziers hit the battleship Resolution with a torpedo the same day. Operation Menace was abandoned.

Barham then joined Force H at Gibraltar, taking part in several Malta Convoys.

At the end of 1940, Barham joined the Mediterranean Fleet, taking part in the Battle of Cape Matapan in March 1941 and receiving bomb damage off Crete in May.
HMS Barham explodes as her 15-inch magazine ignites, 25 November 1941
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HMS Barham explodes as her 15-inch magazine ignites, 25 November 1941

On 25 November 1941, while steaming to cover an attack on Italian convoys, Barham was hit by three torpedoes from the German submarine U-331, commanded by Lieutenant Hans-Dietrich von Tiesenhausen. As she rolled over to port, her magazines exploded and the ship quickly sank with the loss of over two-thirds of her crew.

The British Admiralty was immediately notified of the sinking on November 25, 1941. However, within a few hours they also learned that the German High Command did not know the Barham had been sunk.

Realizing an opportunity to mislead the Germans, and to protect British morale, the Admiralty censored all news of Barham’s sinking and the loss of 861 British seamen.

After a delay of several weeks, the War Office decided to notify the next of kin of Barham’s dead, but they added a special request for secrecy. The notification letters included a warning not to discuss the loss of the ship with anyone but close relatives, stating it was "most essential that information of the event which led to the loss of your husband's life should not find its way to the enemy until such time as it is announced officially..."

By late January 1942, the German High Command had realized Barham had been lost. The British Admiralty informed the press on January 27, 1942 and explained the rationale for withholding the news.

There is an interesting footnote to this story; At a seance in Portsmouth in late November 1941, Helen Duncan, a Spiritualist medium from Edinburgh, Scotland, announced that she had contacted a dead sailor who had told her that his ship, HMS Barham, had recently been sunk. Helen Duncan was not arrested in the aftermath of the Barham incident but later, when superstitious intelligence officers learned of the event, they feared that Duncan might reveal plans for the D-Day landings. She was convicted under the British Witchcraft Act of 1735 and sentenced to 9 months in prison.

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Malaya


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HMS Malaya was a Queen Elizabeth class battleship of the Royal Navy built by Armstrong Whitworth and launched in March 1915. She was named in honour of the Federated Malay States, whose government paid for her construction.

In World War I she served in Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas's 5th Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet. She took part in the battle of Jutland, 31 May 1916, where she was hit eight times, though only receiving minor damage.

In World War II she served in the Mediterranean in 1940, escorting convoys and operating against the Italian fleet. On one occasion her presence in a convoy was sufficiently discouraging to the German commerce raiders Scharnhorst and Gneisenau that they withdrew rather than risk damage in an attack.[1] She was damaged by a torpedo from U-106 at 2323 on 20 March 1941. U-106 attacked the shadow of a merchant ship with a spread of two stern torpedoes in bad light from the port side of the convoy SL-68 about 250 miles west-northwest of the Cape Verde Islands. Kptlt Jurgen Oesten (Knights Cross) heard hits after 2 minutes 37 seconds and 3 minutes 35 seconds. One torpedo damaged HMS Malaya and the other the Meerkerk.

HMS Malaya was hit by the torpedo on the port side, causing considerable damage. Due to the flooding of some rooms the ship took a list of 7 degrees, but safely reached Trinidad. After temporary repairs were made, she contined to the New York Navy Yard, where the battleship was docked for 4 months. On 9 July, under the command of Captain Cuthbert Coppinger R.N., the battleship left New York on trials and steamed to Halifax to provide protection for an urgent fast convoy. Malaya's log for 21st July 1941 read: "Embarked passengers and stores for United Kingdom. The passengers include Major-General R. H. Dewing, DSO (late Chief of Staff Far East), Major W.E.H. Grylles, 15/19 Hussars and Mr Cherry, an American citizen."

Alex H. Cherry was a Wall Street Banker who volunteered for active duty in the Royal Navy, before America came into the War. His book, Yankee R.N. is dedicated to his friend Lt. John Parker R.N.V.R. of Boston, Mass, the first American to be killed in action, whilst serving under the White Ensign at sea in a "four stacker" in 1941. On this Atlantic crossing no ships were lost and HMS Malaya arrived on 28th July in Rosyth. Thereafter HMS Malaya escorted convoys from the UK to Malta and Cape Townuntil summer 1943. HMS Malaya was withdrawn from service at the end of 1944 and placed in reserve and served as an accommodation ship. Sold on 20 February 1948 to Metal Industries and arrived at Faslane on 12 April 1948 for scrapping. The ship's bell can be seen in the East India Club, London.

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