Naval History Homepage and Site Search

 

 

SERVICE HISTORIES of ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS in WORLD WAR 2
by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2003

HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH  - Queen Elizabeth-class 15in gun Battleship including Convoy Escort Movements

Editing & Additional Material by Mike Simmonds

HMS Queen Elizabeth (Maritime Quest, click to enlarge)

return to Contents List  

 

QUEEN ELIZABETH-Class battleship ordered from HM Dockyard Portsmouth in June 1912 and laid down on 21st October that year. The ship was launched on 16th October 1913 as the first RN warship to carry this name. Her Badge reflects the particular association with the Royal Family. Build was completed on 22 December 1914 and she was deployed in the Mediterranean. Her distinctive service during WW1 included participation in the Dardanelles campaign and the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet in 1918 when the terms of surrender were given to Admiral Von Reuter on board. In 1937 she was selected for an extended modernisation which began in August that year and was not completed until 1939. Her WW2 service was particularly well known as she was seriously damaged at Alexandria after explosive charges had been placed on her hull in an attack by two man human torpedoes in December 1941. She then had an extensive period under repair and refit in a US Navy Dockyard Norfolk, Va before resuming Fleet service in the East Indies Fleet. She took part in many offensive operations against the Japanese bases in the Indian Ocean and in support of landing operations in Burma before return to UK before VJ Day. After brief service in the Home Fleet she was placed in Reserve at Portsmouth during 1946 and sold for demolition two years later. In March 1942 this ship was adopted by The Baltic Exchange, London after a WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign.

 

B a t t l e   H o n o u r s

 

DARDANELLES 1915 - CRETE 1941 - SABANG 1944 - BURMA 1944-45

 

H e r a l d i c   D a t a

                                                 Badge: On a field per pale White and Green a Tudor rose Red

and Silver between letters ER under a Tudor crown Red.

 


 

 

S u m m a r y   o f   P r e – W a r    S e r v i c e

 

 

1 9 1 5

 

Passage to Mediterranean after Acceptance Trials

Took part in bombardment of Turkish shore targets during Dardanelles operations. Sank enemy transport.

Returned to UK for repair of defective turbine and joined Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow.

 

 

1 9 1 6

 

Under repair and resumed Grand Fleet service.   (Note: Did not take part in Battle of Jutland.)

 

 

1 9 1 7

 

Grand Fleet Service with periodic refits to modify armament equipment, improved protection and machinery arrangements.

 

 

1 9 1 8

 

Grand Fleet service including presentation of surrender terms to German Admiral von Reuter after the armistice.

 

 

1 9 1 9    t o    1 9 2 4

 

Deployed with Atlantic Fleet.

 

 

1 9 2 5

 

Deployed with Mediterranean Fleet.

 

 

1 9 2 6    t o    1 9 2 7

 

Under major refit during which torpedo bulges were fitted and two funnel trunks merged into one single uptake. 3in AA armament replaced by 4in mountings. Aircraft platform removed from Y turret. Fire control arrangements changes involving redesign of bridge structure.

 

 

1 9 2 8

 

Deployed in Home waters for trials.

 

 

1 9 2 9

 

Deployed in Mediterranean

 

 

1 9 3 0

 

 Under refit during which fire control system was fitted for AA weapons with HA director on fore-top.

 

 

1 9 3 1    t o    1 9 3 3

 

Deployed in Mediterranean.

 

 

1 9 3 4

 

Under refit during which aircraft catapult was removed from B turret.

 

 

1 9 3 5

 

Deployed in Mediterranean

 

 

1 9 3 6

 

Under refit during which two pom-pom mountings were fitted on conning tower platform for close range AA defence. Nominated for modernisation at Portsmouth.

 

 

1 9 3 7    t o    1 9 3 8

 

Paid-off into Dockyard control and taken in hand by HM Dockyard, Portsmouth for modernisation on 11th August. During modernisation the following changes were made:

Existing 25 boilers replaced by 8 High Pressure type saving 50% in weight and 33% in space.

New turbines fitted to improve speed performance from 22½ knots to 25 knots.

Main armament elevation modified to 30¼ thereby increasing the range by 8,000 yards to 32,200 yards (when firing a 1,938 lb, 6crh AP Shell with a muzzle velocity of 2,400 fps using SC standard charges).

Admiralty Fire Control Table Mk VII was fitted for fire control of the main armament.

6in armament replaced by ten x twin 4.5in dual-purpose mountings.

Close range AA was improved by fitting four x eight 2 pdr pom poms around the funnel and four x four 0.5" machine guns, two on B and two on X turret roofs.

HACS Mk 1V was fitted for control of the AA armament.

Aircraft stowage provided for four aircraft and an athwart ship catapult fitted.

Complete redesign of bridge structure.

 

 

1 9 3 9

 

January to December

 

Approval given for fit of radar equipment for gunnery fire control when this became available. Modernisation in continuation at Portsmouth Dockyard.

 

 

D e t a i l s   o f   W a r   S e r v i c e

 

(For more ship information, go to Naval History Homepage and type name in Site Search)

 

 

1 9 4 0

 

January to November

 

Under modernisation. Arrangements made for completion of modernisation by HM Dockyard Rosyth.

 

In the second rebuild the QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT remained almost identical, the difference being QUEEN ELIZABETH had a tripod mainmast and VALIANT had a pole mainmast. The changes included improvements to the main guns, allowing 30 degree elevation increasing their range to 32,000 yards. All the secondary armament was replaced with 20 x 4.5 inch AA gun mounts (10 x 2) (as installed on the new ILLUSTRIOUS class aircraft carriers). 32 x 2 pdr pom pom guns (4 x 8) were fitted around the funnel, 16 x 0.5" (4 x 4) machine guns were fitted, two on B and 2 on X turret roofs, but these were soon removed. New aircraft arrangements were made to accommodate 3 Walrus aircraft launched from an athwartships catapult.

During the rebuild her beam had increased to 104 ft and full load displacement was 38,450 tons, her maximum speed was reduced to 23.5 knots. The original complement had been between 925 and 950 men, but with all the extra weapons, radar and other equipment it increased to 1,124 men making her accommodation rather over crowded.

 

December

 

10th - At Portsmouth where she re-commissioned for trials. Commanding Officer Captain C. B. Barry DSO, RN.

 

(Due to the threat of bombing from the Luftwaffe the decision was taken to move the QUEEN ELIZABETH to Rosyth to complete her modernisation)

               

11th- QUEEN ELIZABETH escorted by the destroyers JUPITER, KASHMIR, KIPLING and PUNJABI sailed from Portsmouth for Rosyth. Because of an aircraft sighting of a U-Boat off North Cornwall, close to her proposed

route, she put into Plymouth for 24 hours.

               

12th - At 1500 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH escorted by the destroyers HOLDERNESS, JUPITER, KASHMIR, KIPLING and PUNJABI sailed from Plymouth and resumed her passage to Rosyth

               

13th - At 1600 hours in position 52-28N, 5-28W the destroyers BRILLIANT, EXMOOR, PYTCHLEY and SOUTHDOWN joined from Scapa and the destroyers HOLDERNESS, JUPITER, KASHMIR, KIPLING and PUNJABI detached for the Clyde.

 

15th - At 1330 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH and the destroyers BRILLIANT, EXMOOR, PYTCHLEY and SOUTHDOWN arrived at Rosyth.

 

         

1 9 4 1

 

January

 

1st to 31st - At Rosyth where her modernisation was continued with the fitting of the following Radars:-

Type 279, long range air warning also had a secondary surface search capability.

Type 284, main armament ranging and fall of shot spotting.

 

Towards the end of the month commenced harbour trials.

 

February

 

1st to 19th - Continued harbour and sea trials.

 

20th - At 1500 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH escorted by the light cruiser DIDO and destroyers SOMALI, BEDOUIN and HMAS NAPIER (D7) sailed from Rosyth for Scapa Flow.

 

21st - At 0828 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH, DIDO and destroyers SOMALI, BEDOUIN and NAPIER arrived at Scapa Flow and joined the Home Fleet.

 

22nd- QUEEN ELIZABETH commenced working up exercises.

 

27th - On this day the QUEEN ELIZABTH carried out a full power speed trial which had to be stopped when serious defects developed in two of her turbines due to the presence of undiscovered obstructions. The trial was suspended until repairs could be carried out.

 

(What had been found in two of the turbines was a file in one and a nut in another. The CinC Home Fleet signalled the Admiralty stating that since these turbines had been closed at Fairfield's Works, Glasgow, 18 months before, it was unlikely that the objects had been inserted since closure.  He added that the heavy cruiser SUFFOLK had also suffered turbine damage after having been at Fairfields. He requested that the possibility of sabotage be investigated)

 

March

 

1st to 13th - At Scapa Flow undergoing repairs to her turbines.

 

(At 2003/13/3/41 the CinC home Fleet signalled the Admiralty that the QUEEN ELIZABETH would be available to escort convoy TC 10. [TC10 was due to sail from Halifax 10/4/41 and comprised the troop transports BATORY and GEORGIC with a total of 3854 Canadian troops embarked]. The reason for a battleship escort was because the German battlecruisers GNEISENAU and SCHARNHORST were known to be operating in the North Atlantic)

 

14th - Repairs completed and successful trial carried out. Working up exercises re-commenced.

 

(At 1636/15/3/41 the Admiralty received a raider distress signal from the tanker MV SAN CASIMIRO 8046grt, in position 39-58N, 43-19W. The SAN CASIMIRO was being attacked by the GNEISENAU. This was the first distress signal received from A ship of the dispersed convoy OB 294. The SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU then proceeded to capture 3 and sink 12 ships from the dispersed convoy)

 

16th - Carried out full calibre shoot.

 

18th - QUEEN ELIZABETH successfully carried out her full power trial.

 

(At 2337/18/3/41 the Admiralty signalled BC 1 and the QUEEN ELIZABETH repeated to CinC Home Fleet:-

a        Assuming that SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU are returning to the North Sea.

b        We have lost sight of BISMARCK and, though W/T traffic on Norwegian coast has not been abnormal, it is possible that BISMARCK may be used to escort SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU past Iceland.

c        The Germans know the whereabouts of RODNEY and to a lesser degree, of KING GEORGE V.

d        HOOD is to cancel full power trials and if necessary, the full calibre shoot.

e        Subject to any orders received from CinC Home Fleet HOOD and QUEEN ELIZABETH are to proceed in company to 60N, 11W. BC 1 to inform CinC Home Fleet time at which this position will be reached.

In fact unbeknown to the Admiralty the SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU were sailing west towards Brest)

 

Following receipt of Admiralty signal the 120 civilian workmen who were on board the QUEEN ELIZABETH, they still had approximately one weeks work to complete on main machinery, watertightness and Radar, were disembarked to await her return.

 

19th - At 0515 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH, heavy cruiser LONDON and the destroyers INGLEFIELD (D3), ELECTRA, ARROW, ECHO, ECLIPSE and ESKIMO sailed from Scapa to join the CinC Home Fleet.

At 0630 hours off Dunnet Head the battlecruiser HOOD (Flag VA BS 1) joined the force.

The LONDON, who was just out of a two year rebuild and was still to work up, was detached after radio direction finding tests and returned to Scapa.

 

(At 0809/19/3/41 BC 1 signalled the Admiralty and CinC Home Fleet:- Expect to arrive 60N, 11W at 2130/19, approach course 293¼, speed of advance 17 knots. Thence intend to steer west during night and return to same position at 0800/20)

 

(Whilst en route to the RV an SOS was picked up from the Norwegian merchant ship the SS LEO 1367grt who had been bombed and sunk by a Luftwaffe He 111-H of KG26, about 75 miles northwest of Butt of Lewis. The ECHO was detached to search for survivors and picked up all 21 crew members and returned to the screen)

 

(At 1359/19/3/41 the CinC Home Fleet signalled BC 1:- Intend patrolling to south of Iceland during the night 19th/20th, passing through positions; a 63-30N, 14W at 0700Z/20, b 62-50N, 14-40W at 1000Z/20. RV with me in position b)

 

20th - At 1030 hours in position 62-50N, 14-40W the HOOD, QUEEN ELIZABETH and the destroyers INGLEFIELD, ELECTRA, ARROW, ECHO, ECLIPSE and ESKIMO joined the battleship NELSON (Flag CinC Home Fleet), light cruiser NIGERIA and the destroyers COSSACK (D4), MAORI, ZULU, BOADICEA, ACTIVE and ESCAPADE.

 

(At 1034/20/3/41 the CinC Home Fleet signalled BC 1:- Intend to steer 000¼ until 1400 when course will be altered to 230¼. 15 knots will be maintained when possible. You are to operate approximately 30 miles to southward of me and rejoin me in 63-25N, 14-15W, at 0900Z/21. Battlecruiser force is to keep to GMT)

 

At 1133 hours the HOOD, QUEEN ELIZABETH and the destroyers INGLEFIELD, ELECTRA, ARROW, ECHO, ECLIPSE and ESKIMO executed the CinC's 1034/20.

 

(At 1921 hours the CinC HF received a signal from Flag Officer Force H, timed 1830Z; At 1730Z aircraft from ARK ROYAL sighted two SCHARNHORST class battle cruisers in position 46-50N, 21-25W, course 000¼, speed 20 knots)

 

At 2200 hours both forces changed course to the south.

 

21st - The HOOD, QUEEN ELIZABETH and the destroyers INGLEFIELD, ELECTRA, ARROW, ECHO, ECLIPSE and ESKIMO continued steaming south.

At 1300Z hours the destroyer ARROW was detached to Londonderry to refuel.

At 1400Z hours the HOOD, QUEEN ELIZABETH and the destroyers INGLEFIELD, ELECTRA, ECHO, ECLIPSE and ESKIMO were in position 56-18N, 20-30W, course 210¼, speed 18 knots.

At 2000Z hours the HOOD, QUEEN ELIZABETH and the destroyers INGLEFIELD, ELECTRA, ECHO, ECLIPSE and ESKIMO were in position 54-30N, 21-25W, and heading back to Scapa at 16½ knots. The fuel state of the HOOD was 62%, QUEEN ELIZABETH 57% and the destroyers 48%.

 

(At 2042/21/3/41 the Admiralty signalled the CinC HF that the German ships had been sighted by a Swordfish from the aircraft carrier ARK ROYAL, in position 47-17N, 7-13W, course 090¼, speed 20 knots. The sighting had been made at 1759 hours but the report was delayed due failure of the Swordfish's radio)

 

22nd - At 0730Z hours he HOOD, QUEEN ELIZABETH and the destroyers INGLEFIELD, ELECTRA, ECHO, ECLIPSE and ESKIMO were in position 56-15N, 13-53W, heading for Scapa at 18 knots.

 

(At 0107/21/3/41 the CinC HF received the Admiralty message; If HOOD has sufficient fuel she should proceed now to patrol to westward of the Bay of Biscay and remain until arrival of Force H. If any cruisers are available they should join HOOD.

At 0431 the CinC HF replied to Admiralty message; Consider that HOOD should complete with fuel)

 

(At 0700 hours the SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU arrived at Brest. The SCHARNHORST was immediately taken in hand for repairs to her boilers)

 

(At 1507 hours the CinC HF signalled the QUEEN ELIZABETH; From 23/3/41 I intend to shift my flag to you)

 

23rd - At 0658 hours the HOOD, QUEEN ELIZABETH, INGLEFIELD, ELECTRA, ESKIMO and ECHO arrived at Scapa Flow.

 

24th - QUEEN ELIZABETH at Scapa Flow where at 0930 hours the CinC Home Fleet transferred his flag to her from the NELSON.

 

25th to 31st - QUEEN ELIZABETH (Flag CinC Home Fleet) was at Scapa.

 

April

 

1st - QUEEN ELIZABETH was at Scapa where the CinC Home Fleet transferred his flag from her to the KING GEORGE V.

 

2nd - At 1300 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH embarked 42 officers and 60 ratings for passage to Halifax.

 

(The 42 officers and 60 ratings, 15 officers and 34 ratings were from the battleship RESOLUTION currently repairing at Portsmouth, were required to man the ten US Coastguard cutters that were to be handed over to the RN at Boston Navy Yard. Most of the crews required to man these vessels came form the battleships MALAYA and RESOLUTION and the aircraft carrier ILLUSTRIOUS all of whom were repairing in US yards. The RESOLUTION arrived at US naval dockyard Philadelphia on 20/4/41.

On 5/4/41 President Roosevelt signed the Transfer Directive D-27-T officially assigning the ten cutters to the UK)

 

At 1701 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH and the destroyers INGLEFIELD (D3), ECLISPE and ESKIMO sailed from Scapa for Halifax to provide the ocean escort for troop convoy TC 10.

 

5th - At 0200 hours in approximate position 56-40N, 25W, ESKIMO detached and returned to Scapa.

At 0300 hours INGLEFIELD and ECLISPE detached to Reykjavik.

At 2325 hours in approximate position 54-30N, 33-30W the Admiralty ordered the QUEEN ELIZABETH to steer towards position 46N, 21-30W at 15 knots.

 

(This change was due to German destroyers, possibly six in number, having been noted sailing west down the Channel. They were assumed to be en route to Brest to escort the SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU from Brest. The Admiralty assessment was that battle cruisers could sail as early as the night of 6/4/41. The redeployment of the QUEEN ELIZABETH was part of the Admiralty's dispositions in the event of the German ships sailing)

 

6th - Steering south westerly towards 46N, 21-30W.

 

(At 0420/6 a 22 Squadron RAF Beaufort 1, OA-X [N1016], flown by Flying Officer Kenneth Campbell took off from RAF St Eval. The aircraft was one of six tasked to attack the German battleships in Brest harbour, in the event only four aircraft actually took off, they were to RV off Brest but poor weather prevented this. Aircraft X/22 was the only aircraft to reach the target and attack. At approximately 0530 hours FO Campbell flew through a wall of flak at mast head height and torpedoed the GNEISENAU, almost immediately X/22 was shot down and all four crew killed. The attack, together with a further successful one by RAF bombers on the night of 10/11 April, put the GNEISENAU out of action for six months. When the details of FO Kenneth Campbell's attack became known he was awarded the VC)

 

(At 1815/6/4/41 the QUEEN ELIZABETH received Admiralty signal timed 1529 hours, QUEEN ELIZABETH is to RV with the REPLUSE in position 46N, 21W at 0800/8)

 

7th - Steering south westerly towards 46N, 21W.

 

8th - Steering south westerly towards 46N, 21W.

At 0800 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH RVed with the battle cruiser REPLUSE and the destroyers HIGHLANDER, FURY and FORTUNE in position 46N, 21W.

 

(At 2030/8/4/41 the QUEEN ELIZABETH received Admiralty signal timed 1859 hours, REPLUSE and destroyers are to proceed to Gibraltar to refuel, the QUEEN ELIZABETH is to proceed to position 45N, 23W arriving at 1200/9)

 

Following receipt of the signal the QUEEN ELIZABETH set course for 45N, 23W and the REPLUSE and destroyers HIGHLANDER, FURY and FORTUNE detached to return to Gibraltar.

 

10th - QUEEN ELIZABETH was on patrol in the vicinity of 45N, 23W.

 

(At 2115 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH received Admiralty signal timed at 1838 hours; On relief by REPLUSE the QUEEN ELIZABETH is to proceed to Gibraltar to refuel escorted by the destroyers used to escort REPLUSE from Gibraltar)

 

11th - At 0800 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH left her patrol area for Gibraltar.

 

12th - At 1200 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH was in position 38N, 18-30W.

 

13th - At 0600 hours in approximate position 35-30N, 14W the QUEEN ELIZABETH was joined by the destroyer BOREAS from Gibraltar

At 2330 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH and BOREAS were joined by the destroyers FURY and VELOX from Gibraltar.

 

14th - At 0900 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH and the destroyers BOREAS, FURY and VELOX arrived at Gibraltar. Immediately on docking the QUEEN ELIZABETH disembarked her 102 passengers.

 

15th - QUEEN ELIZABETH escorted by the destroyers FURY, VELOX and WRESTLER sailed from Gibraltar for Freetown

 

20th - QUEEN ELIZABETH arrived at Freetown. Whilst in harbour she carried out a boiler clean.

               

25th - QUEEN ELIZABETH escorted by the destroyers DUNCAN and FOXHOUND sailed from Freetown for Gibraltar

                               

26th - At latitude 12¼N the destroyers DUNCAN and FOXHOUND detached for Bathurst.

               

29th - QUEEN ELIZABETH was joined by the destroyers FEARLESS, FURY and WRESTLER.

 

30th - QUEEN ELIZABETH with the destroyers FEARLESS, FURY and WRESTLER arrived at Gibraltar.

 

May

 

1st to 3rd - QUEEN ELIZABETH was at Gibraltar.

 

(QUEEN ELIZABETH was nominated to join the Mediterranean Fleet at Alexandra)

 

4th - At 1600 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH and the destroyers FEARLESS, FORESIGHT, FORTUNE and VELOX sailed from Gibraltar into the Atlantic to RV with the TIGER convoy.

 

(On the 20/4/41the ships of convoy WS 8A were embarking troops in the UK for the Middle East. Included in the convoy were five 15 knot MT ships loaded with 295 tanks and 53 crated Hurricanes. On the same day General Wavell sent a message to the CIGS in London, telling them of his inferiority in armoured vehicles, and that the situation was to get worse. When Churchill saw the message, he decided to make a bold stroke and send the ships carrying the tanks through the Mediterranean to Egypt. The Admiralty was opposed; Admiral Cunningham thought the risks were acceptable, despite the increased air threat from the Luftwaffe Fliegerkorps X. At Churchill's insistence the operation, code named TIGER went ahead. Included in Operation TIGER were reinforcements for the Mediterranean Fleet) 

 

5th – At 0000 hours 200 miles west of Gibraltar the QUEEN ELIZABETH with the destroyers FEARLESS, FORESIGHT, FORTUNE and VELOX RVed with the five MT ships, SS CLAN LAMONT 7268grt, SS CLAN CHATTAN 7262grt, SS CLAN CAMPBELL 7255grt, MV NEW ZEALAND STAR 10,941grt, and SS EMPIRE SONG 9228grt, of the TIGER convoy.

At 0615 hours the battlecruiser REPULSE and the destroyers HAVELOCK, HESPERUS, and HARVESTER detached from the convoy and proceeded ahead to Gibraltar.

At 1700 hours the battlecruiser RENOWN, aircraft carrier ARK ROYAL, light cruisers FIJI and SHEFFIELD and the destroyers WRESTLER, KASHMIR and KIPLING joined the TIGER convoy from Gibraltar.

At 2200 hours the light cruiser NAIAD (Flag of RA 15th CS, Rear Admiral Edward Leigh Stuart King) joined the TIGER convoy and RA 15thCS took command of the convoy and the reinforcements for the Mediterranean Fleet.

 

6th – At 0200 hours the TIGER convoy passed through the Strait of Gibraltar.

At 0500 hours the light cruiser GLOUCESTER, the destroyers FAULKNOR (D8), FORESTER, FURY, HARVESTER, HAVELOCK and HESPERUS joined convoy TIGER from Gibraltar.

At 0630 hours RENOWN, ARK ROYAL, FIJI, SHEFFIELD and destroyers WRESTLER, KASHMIR and KIPLING increased speed and moved to the north east of the convoy to provide cover should the Italian navy decided to attack.

At 2400 hours RENOWN was approximately 70 miles south of Majorca and 150 miles east north east of the convoy.

 

7th – In the morning QUEEN ELIZABETH and GLOUCESTER joined RENOWN and the covering force.

At 0500 hours ARK ROYAL flew off her new ASV equipped Swordfish; these searched out to 140 miles, south and west of Sardinia and found no sign of the Italian Fleet.

At 0830 hours Somerville determined that with no sign of the Italian Fleet the main threat to the convoy would be from the air so the covering force closed the convoy.

At 1115 hours an enemy signal was intercepted stating that the convoy had been sighted.

At 1300 hours the covering force regained contact with the convoy.

VELOX detached from the TIGER convoy and returned to Gibraltar.

 

8th – At 0700 hours ARK ROYAL flew off a Swordfish for A/S patrol.

At 1345 hours the first incoming raid of eight SM 79 torpedo bombers with an escort of CR 42 fighters was reported approaching from the south east at low level about 32 miles from the convoy. Three SM 79's were shot down.

Through the day there were further air raids by the Regia Aeronautica and the Luftwaffe all of which were blunted by the actions of ARK ROYAL's Fulmars, the AA fire of the ships and the poor weather.

In one attack the QUEEN ELIZABETH was near missed by a bomb that fell off her port bow.

At 1800 hours, sunset, an air attack was mounted by 16 Ju 87's, 12 Ju 88's escorted by Me 110's of Fliegerkorps X from Sicily.

At 1900 hours as the convoy was approaching the Sherki Channel and the five MT ships were forming into a single line an air attack was mounted by three SM 79 torpedo bombers they concentrated on the ARK ROYAL, one of the attackers was shot down and the other two dropped their torpedoes and turned towards the QUEEN ELIZABETH passing down her port side so low that most of the AA guns could not be depressed so as to bear.

At 2015 hours the ships of Operation TIGER had reached a position north of Cap Bone where in accordance with the plan Force H detached and reversed course to return to Gibraltar.

The convoy continued easterly through the Sicilian Narrows, the MT ships formed into a single line with paravanes deployed and now escorted by the QUEEN ELIZABETH, FIJI, GLOUCESTER, NAIAD, FAULKNOR, FURY, FORESTER, FEARLESS, FORESIGHT, FORTUNE, KASHMIR and KIPLING. The destroyers FAULKNOR, FURY, FORESTER, FEARLESS, FORESIGHT and FORTUNE were in the van with their TSDS minesweeping gear deployed, with the MT ships following immediately astern.

At 2359 hours the NEW ZEALAND STAR, the second in line of the MT ships was mined causing her to slow and swing out of line, but she was not badly damaged and was able to continue on course.

 

9th - The convoy continued eastwards.

 

(At 0005 hours in position 37-24N, 11-21E the fourth MT ship in line the EMPIRE SONG was mined on her port side causing damage to her engines and cargo, the explosion of the first mine countered mined a second mine also on the port side. Initially she managed to maintain her course and speed. However she started to list to port, a fire started in her cargo some of which was ammunition, and her engines failed causing her to slow and drop astern. The FORESIGHT went alongside and commenced taking off the crew which included eight Royal Tank Regiment personnel, one Officer and seven NCOs. As the list and fire increased she stood off and continued picking up the crew with her whaler. The FORTUNE stood by.

At 0415 hours the EMPIRE SONG blew up and sank taking with her 10 Hurricanes, 57 tanks, trucks and ammunition. The explosion destroyed FORESIGHT's whaler and caused damage and causalities on FORESIGHT, a Bren Gun Carrier from the EMPIRE SONG hit the top of her torpedo tubes and then bounced into the sea. The FORTUNE picked up the whaler crew and EMPIRE SONG survivors in the water, both destroyers then set course for MALTA)

 

At 0030 hours as the vessels astern of the EMPIRE SONG were bunching up and taking avoiding action and the QUEEN ELIZABETH had been forced to reduce speed to six knots the convoy was attacked by ten SM 79 torpedo bombers, one of which singled out the QUEEN ELIZABETH for attack. The battleship increased speed and turned toward the incoming torpedo which she narrowly avoided.

At 0800 hours the convoy was joined from the east by the light cruisers DIDO and PHOEBE, these had been part of the escort for convoys MW7A and MW7B, Alexandria to Malta convoys, from which they had detached east of Malta.

At 0900 hours the convoy was joined from the east by the AA cruisers CALCUTTA, CARLISLE and COVENTRY, these vessels had also detached from convoys MW7A and MW7B.

At 1045 hours five Beaufighter 1C's of 252 Squadron RAF, from Malta arrived over the convoy.

At 1400 hours in approximate position 35-18N, 14E, in thick fog, the convoy was met by the Mediterranean Fleet and the destroyers FAULKNOR, FURY, FORESTER, FEARLESS, FORESIGHT and FORTUNE detached for Malta.

The TIGER convoy now consisted of the four MT ships escorted by the battleships WARSPITE (Flag CinC Mediterranean Fleet), QUEEN ELIZABETH, VALIANT and BARHAM, aircraft carrier FORMIDABLE, light cruisers GLOUCESTER, FIJI, NAIAD, DIDO, PHOEBE, AJAX, ORION, and HMAS PERTH, AA cruisers CALCUTTA, CARLISLE and COVENTRY and the destroyers JERVIS (D14), JUNO, JAGUAR, KANDAHAR, KIMBERLEY, KINGSTON, HMAS NAPIER (D.7), HMAS NIZAM, HASTY, HEREWARD, HAVOCK, HOTSPUR, IMPERIAL, GREYHOUND, GRIFFIN, ILEX, HERO, JANUS, ISIS, KELLY (D5), KIPLING, JACKAL, KASHMIR and KELVIN.

 

10th - The convoy continued eastwards.

At 1700 hours in approximate position 34-35N, 18-50E the destroyers KELLY (D5), KIPLING, JACKAL, KASHMIR and KELVIN detached to carry out a bombardment of Benghazi port. Following the bombardment they returned to Malta.

At about 1930 hours after the full moon had risen the convoy came under attack from enemy bombers but due to the intensity of the AA barrage and the actions of the Fulmar fighters from FORMIDABLE no hits were achieved.

 

11th - The cruisers DIDO and CALCUTTA and the destroyers JANUS and ISIS were detached to proceed ahead to Alexandria to refuel.

 

12th - The four MT ships of the TIGER convoy arrived at Alexandria.

 

(The four MT ships had embarked 82 cruiser tanks, 135 infantry tanks, and 21 light tanks; these tanks when off loaded and modified for desert use were used to re-equip the 7th Armoured Division. Also there were 43 created Hurricanes. The 7th Armoured Division with the recently arrived tanks were used in Operation BATTLEAXE which under pressure from the Prime Minister Winston Churchill the CinC Middle East, General Archibald Wavell, launched on 15/6/41)

 

At 1300 hours WARSPITE, QUEEN ELIZABETH, BARHAM and VALIANT, FORMIDABLE, NAIAD, PHOEBE, CARLISLE, and COVENTRY, GLOUCESTER, FIJI, PERTH, JERVIS, JAGUAR, JUNO, NAPIER,           NIZAM, GREYHOUND, GRIFFIN, ILEX, HERO, HAVOCK, HOTSPUR, HASTY, HEREWARD, IMPERIAL, KANDAHAR, KINGSTON and KIMBERLEY arrived at Alexandria.

On arrival at Alexandria the QUEEN ELIZABETH became the flag ship of Vice Admiral, 1st Battle Squadron, Vice Admiral Pridham Wippell CB, CVO.

 

(On 25/4/1941, before a decision had been reached in Greece, Hitler issued Directive No 28 stating that "As a base for air warfare against Great Britain in the Eastern Mediterranean, we must prepare to occupy the island of Crete". The strategic position of Crete was of paramount importance for Germany to gain a strong foothold in south east Europe. The attack was given the code name Operation MERKUR [MERCURY] and was to be carried out by airborne troops backed up by troops transported by sea. The Germans planned to begin the invasion on the 15/5/41, but supply problems in Greece delayed the assault by a week.

From Enigma intercepts the British deciphered the Directive and were aware that the invasion date was the 15/5/41. Ultra intelligence relating to the attack had been passed to the CinC Mediterranean Fleet and the CinC Crete. At the time the QUEEN ELIZABETH sailed the CinC Mediterranean Fleet was not aware that the invasion date had been put back)

 

 

14th - At 2000 hours the battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH (Flag Vice Admiral Pridham Wippell), BARHAM, light cruisers NAIAD and PHOEBE and the destroyers JERVIS (D14), JAGUAR, GREYHOUND, HASTY, HMAS NIZAM, DEFENDER and IMPERIAL sailed from Alexandra to be in position off Crete when the German attack on Crete commenced on the expected date of 15/4/41.

 

15th - The PHOEBE developed cracks in her hull plating aft and detached and returned to Alexandra.

After PHOEBE detached the light cruiser HMAS PERTH was ordered to join Vice Admiral Pridham Wippell's Force, which she did later in the day.

 

16th - At 0530 hours in approximate position 35-30N, 22-30E, the QUEEN ELIZABETH, BARHAM, PERTH, NAIAD and the destroyers JERVIS, JAGUAR, GREYHOUND, HASTY, NIZAM, DEFENDER and IMPERIAL divided into Force A and Force D.

Force A comprised the QUEEN ELIZABETH, BARHAM, and the destroyers JERVIS, JAGUAR, NIZAM, DEFENDER and IMPERIAL and they were deployed to patrol to the west of Crete to provide cover against an attack by the Italian Fleet.

Force D comprised the PERTH, NAIAD and the destroyers GREYHOUND and HASTY and they were deployed patrolling between the islands of Antikythira and Milos to intercept any attempted seaborne invasion force.

At approximately 0700 hours Force A was joined by the destroyer ILEX from Alexandra.

At approximately 1200 hours Force A was joined by Force B comprising the light cruisers GLOUCESTER and FIJI and the destroyers HAVOCK and HOTSPUR.

 

(The GLOUCESTER and FIJI had joined from Heraklion where over night they had disembarked troops of the 2nd Battalion the Leicestershire Regiment. They had sailed from Heraklion at 0545/16/5/41)

 

During the afternoon the ten destroyers of Force A, B and C were refuelled from the QUEEN ELIZABETH and BARHAM.

 

17th - Force A and B continued on patrol west of Crete.

 

18th - Force A and B continued on patrol west of Crete.

 

19th - Force A and B continued on patrol west of Crete.

At approximately 0030 hours Force A and B left their patrol area and set course for Alexandra.

At approximately 1115 hours in position 33-35N, 26E Force A and B sighted Force A1 comprising the battleships WARSPITE, VALIANT, light cruiser AJAX and destroyers KIMBERLEY, JANUS, ISIS, HEREWARD, DECOY,

HERO, GRIFFIN and HMAS NAPIER that were proceeding to a position west of Crete.

The destroyers HOTSPUR and IMPERIAL were detached from Force A to join Force A1.

 

(At dawn on 19/5/41 the RAF withdrew its last serviceable aircraft on Crete, three Hawker Hurricanes of 274 Sqd and two Gloster Gladiators of 805 Sqd to Egypt)

 

20th - At 0230 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH, BARHAM, GLOUCESTER, FIJI and the destroyers JERVIS, JAGUAR, GREYHOUND, HASTY, NIZAM, DEFENDER, HAVOCK and ILEX arrived at Alexandra.

 

(At dawn on 20/5/41 the defences around MALEME airfield were subjected to a heavy air attack. At 0745 hours the attack intensified and continued for more than an hour. The bombing caused clouds of dust and smoke that greatly reduced visibility and under cover of the attack a number of gliders, estimated at about 80, landed in the river bed to the west of the airfield. So began the German invasion of Crete. Following the invasion the Mediterranean Fleet concentrated on defeating a German seaborne landing. This required ships to operate north of Crete where if caught in daylight they were subjected to almost continual attack from the Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica  units operating from bases on mainland Greece and the Islands of Rhodes and Scarpanto. From the 21/5/41 the Royal Navy began to suffer heavy losses from air attack, but the only aircraft carrier available was the FORMIDABLE but she was short of aircraft, particularly fighters.

On the night of the 20th/21st the RAF carried out bombing attacks on the enemy airfields at Topolia, Menidi, Euhusis and Molasi. On the 23/5/41 the RAF made an attempt to send two flights of six Hurricanes each to Crete from Egypt. The first flight flew over shipping and two were shot down and three damaged by Naval AA fire, the damaged aircraft returned to Egypt and only one landed at Heraklion. The second flight arrived safely at Heraklion, but four aircraft had to be returned to Egypt on 24/5/41due to damaged tail wheels. One of the other two was damaged on the ground by enemy action and rendered unserviceable. Thus of the twelve Hurricanes sent to Crete only two were serviceable by the 24/5/41.

At 1815/24/5/41 Admiral Cunningham informed the Chiefs of Staff in London that it was no longer possible for the Navy to operate in the Aegean during daylight because of the enemy had complete command of the air. The Chiefs of Staff replied that it was essential that Cunningham should concert measures for clearing up the situation without delay. In so doing, the Navy and Air Force were to accept whatever risk was entailed in preventing sizeable reinforcements reaching Crete.

Under this pressure Cunningham agreed to the FORMIDABLE being used to carry out a strike against the airfield on the Island of Scarpanto, Operation MAQ 3)

 

25th - At 1200 hours the battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH (Flag Vice Admiral Pridham Wippell), BARHAM, aircraft carrier FORMIDABLE with 12 aircraft embarked, and the destroyers JERVIS (D14), NUBIAN, HEREWARD, KANDAHAR, HASTY, JANUS and HMAS VOYAGER and VENDETTA departed Alexandria steering north west on Operation MAQ 3.

 

(At 2000/25/5/41 the landing ship GLENROY with the 2nd battalion the Queens Regiment embarked, escorted by the anti-aircraft cruiser COVENTRY and destroyers JAGUAR and HMAS STUART sailed from Alexandria for Tymbaki Bay, Crete)

 

26th - At 0400 hours the Battle Squadron had reached approximate position 34N, 25-30E from where the FORMIDABLE launched a strike of six Albacores and two Fulmars against the enemy airfield on the Island of Scarpanto. The Battle Squadron then steered in an easterly direction.

At 0700 hours in approximate position 34-12N, 26-42E the FORMIDABLE began recovering her strike force.

At 0710 hours the Battle Squadron was joined by the light cruisers AJAX and DIDO and destroyers KELVIN, JACKAL and HMAS NAPIER from the Kelso Channel.

At 0800 hours the Battle Squadron withdrew towards the south west

At 1210 hours, in response to a signal from CinC Mediterranean Fleet, the Battlefleet turned west to provide cover for the GLENROY convoy that at the time was approximately 130 NM west of the Battle Fleet.

At 1240 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH picked up a Radar echo indicating a large group of aircraft 85 miles distant approaching from 230¼.

 

(The aircraft detected were 20 Ju 87R's of the II/St.G2 [this was the same unit that had put the ILLUSTRIOUS out of action in January 1941] from Agedabia, Libya. They had been 'loaned' by Rommel to assist in the conquest of Crete. [This indicates the importance that the Germans put on the capture of Crete that Rommel would release such a valuable asset when he was about to launce Operation SKORPION, the operation to recapture ground lost in the British Operation BREVITY] The Ju 87R's were searching for troopships and were almost at the limit of their range when they sighted the Battle Fleet

The same group of Ju 87R's also sighted and attacked the GLENROY convoy, damaging the GLENROY. The GLENROY was further damaged in subsequent air attacks and eventually at 2115 hours she was forced to return to Alexandria)

 

At 1310 hours the FORMIDABLE turned into wind to fly off four Fulmars which were the only serviceable Fulmars available.

At 1320 hours the Battle Fleet altered course on to 020¼ to bring the attacking aircraft on to the beam and opened fire.

The leading aircraft attacked the screening destroyers. It was during this phase that the NUBIAN was hit by a 500kg AP bomb on her Y turret, this blew off most of her stern above the water line but left her propellers intact and turning.

At 1325 hours the first bomb attack was made on FORMIDABLE this was a near miss off her starboard side amidships.

At 1327 hours FORMIDABLE was hit by the first of two 500Kg AP bombs. The first hit was forward on the armoured deck at frame 79, it blew a two foot square hole in the deck and parts of the bomb penetrated downward through the ship into the center boiler room, causing a fire and slowing her to 17 knots. The second bomb struck aft and put X1 turret out of action and the launching accelerator was damaged. The FORMIDABLE also suffered several more near misses.

At 1335 hours the attack was over.

At 1400 hours the damaged NUBIAN escorted by JERVIS detached from the Battle Fleet to return to Alexandria.

At 1600 hours the damaged FORMIDABLE escorted by the light cruisers AJAX and DIDO and destroyers JACKAL, HEREWARD, VOYAGER and VENDETTA detached from the Battle Fleet and set course for Alexandria. En route the JACKAL relieved JERVIS escorting NUBIAN and JERVIS returned to the Battle Fleet.

At 2230 hours JERVIS rejoined the Battle Fleet.

 

(A sweep off Milos by the destroyers NUBIAN, KANDAHAR and JANUS on the night of 26/27 May with a feint staged by light cruiser AJAX and DIDO and destroyers NAPIER, KELVIN and JACKAL was cancelled following the air attacks which damaged the FORMIDABLE and NUBIAN)

 

27th - The Battle Fleet which now comprised the QUEEN ELIZABETH, BARHAM and the destroyers JERVIS, HASTY, JANUS, KELVIN and NAPIER, patrolled through the night to the south of Crete.

 

(On 26/5/41 the Minelayer ABDIEL and the destroyers HERO and NIZAM, with 750 troops of No 7 Commando, The Commandos commander was Colonel Robert Laycock, and their intelligence officer was  Captain Evelyn Waugh, and 150 tons of ammunition embarked, sailed from Alexandria for Suda Bay to land the Commandoes and ammunition during night time. After disembarking the Commandoes they embarked 930 personnel no longer required on the Island then set sail to return to Alexandria via the Kaso Strait)

 

The Battle Fleet were ordered to provide cover for the ABDIEL force when they were south of the Kaso Strait.

At 0900 hours the Battle Fleet was attacked by a force of 15 Ju 88's and He 111's of I/Lg.1 from Eleusis airfield, Athens. In the attack the BARHAM was hit by a 500Kg AP bomb on Y turret and damaged by several near misses. Because of the damage to BARHAM the Battle Fleet was ordered to return to Alexandria.

At 1900 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH, BARHAM and the destroyers JERVIS, HASTY, JANUS, KELVIN and NAPIER arrived at Alexandria.

 

28th to 31st - QUEEN ELIZABETH was at Alexandria.

 

June

 

(During the next few weeks the Mediterranean Fleet, less its battleships was kept busy with Operation EXPORTER, the attack on Vichy French forces in the Lebanon and Syria, which commenced on 8/6/41.

Although Britain had nominally given Iraq her independence in 1932, Britain continued to have a presence in Iraq via a mandate supported by the League of Nations. Oil was the major reason of the continued presence; another was that Iraq was on the air link between India and Egypt.

On 1/4/41 a group of pro German Iraqi Army officers, known as the "Golden Square" seized power in Iraq. On 17/4/41 the new Iraqi government submitted a request to Germany for military assistance in its attempt to remove British forces from Iraq.

On 6/5/41, Luftwaffe Colonel Werner Junck received instructions in Berlin that he was to take a small force of aircraft to Iraq. While under Junck's tactical direction, the force was to be under the overall direction of Lieutenant General Hans Jeschonnek and was to be known as FliegerfŸhrer Irak, [Airplane Commander for Iraq]  The aircraft of FliegerfŸhrer Irak were to have Iraqi markings and they were to operate out of an air base in Mosul, some 240 miles north of Baghdad.

Also on 6/5/41, Vichy France and Germany signed the Paris Protocol, which gave permission for German troops to march through Syria to Iraq to reinforce the Iraqis; in return, Germany lowered the tribute that France had to pay Germany from 20 million to 15 million Reichsmarks daily. 

FliegerfŸhrer Irak was formed at Athens on 6/5/41 and began moving from Athens to Mosul on 13/5/41 when formed it consisted of 12 Me 110 Bf fighters, 12 He 111 bombers and 13 Ju 52 and Ju 90 transports.

14/5/41 A Blenheim bomber of 211 Sq. RAF flying reconnaissance over Syria sighted two He 111s on the Vichy French airfield at Palmyra. Based on this information the British Government gave permission was given to attack the airfield. In the attack carried out by aircraft from Cyprus in the attack two over-laden Heinkel 111 bombers with damaged rear wheels, were strafed and disabled.

16/5/41 Luftwaffe Me 110 and He 111 bombers attacked RAF Habbaniya in Iraq. This was a surprise to the British as they didn't realise that the Luftwaffe had built up that capability as quickly as they had.

On 23/5/41, Hitler issued Fuehrer Directive No. 30 which commenced:-

The Arab Freedom Movement is our natural ally against England in the Middle East. In this context the uprising in Iraq is of special importance. This strengthens the forces hostile to England in the Middle East beyond the Iraqi frontier, disrupts English communications, and ties up English troops and shipping at the expense of other theaters.

I have therefore decided to hasten developments in the Middle East by supporting Iraq. Whether and how it may be possible, in conjunction with an offensive against the Suez Canal, finally to break the British position between the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf is a question that will be answered only after Operation Barbarossa [The German forthcoming attack on Russia].

These actions required an urgent British response against Vichy France in Lebanon and Syria so Operation EXPORTER was commenced)

 

1st to 25th - QUEEN ELIZABETH was at Alexandria.

 

26th – At 1000 hours battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH (Flag CinC Mediterranean Fleet), WARSPITE, and VALIANT, light cruiser AJAX, minelayer ABDIEL, and destroyers KANDAHAR, GRIFFIN, HERO, JAGUAR, DEFENDER, KIMBERLEY and HASTY sailed from Alexandria for gunnery and other exercises between Alexandria and Port Said.

At 1200 hours light cruiser PHOEBE and minelayer LATONA joined the Fleet exercises.

At 1500 hours WARSPITE detached for Port Said, escorted by destroyers KANDAHAR, GRIFFIN, and KIMBERLEY.

 

27th – At 0500 hours the destroyer KIMBERLEY rejoined the Fleet.

At 1500 hours QUEEN ELIZABETH, VALIANT, AJAX, PHOEBE, ABDIEL, LATONA and destroyers HERO, JAGUAR, DEFENDER, KIMBERLEY and HASTY arrived back at Alexandria.

 

July

 

1st to 17th - QUEEN ELIZABETH at Alexandria.

 

18th – Battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH, VALIANT, light cruiser PHOEBE and destroyers JACKAL, NIZAM, HASTY, KIPLING and HAVOCK departed Alexandria for exercises.

Joined at sea by the minelaying cruiser LATONA.

 

19th - QUEEN ELIZABETH, VALIANT, light cruiser PHOEBE, minelaying cruiser LATONA, and destroyers JACKAL, NIZAM, HASTY, KIPLING and HAVOCK arrived back at Alexandria after exercises.

 

22nd - At 2100 hours battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH, VALIANT, light cruisers HMAS HOBART, NAIAD, NEPTUNE and PHOEBE, cruiser minelayers ABDIEL and LATONA screened by destroyers GRIFFIN, HASTY, HAVOCK, JACKAL, NUBIAN and HMAS NIZAM sailed from Alexandria.

           

23rd - At 0600 hours off Alexandria the Battle Fleet was joined by the light cruisers AJAX and HMNZS LEANDER and destroyers JAGUAR, JERVIS, KANDAHAR and KINGSTON. The Fleet then sailed for a diversionary cruise in the eastern Mediterranean during the passage of a relief convoy to Malta from Gibraltar (Operation MD5 –cover for Operation SUBSTANCE by Force H.)

At 2200 hours NEPTUNE, ABDIEL and KIMBERLEY detached for the fleet.

 

24th - LEANDER and JAGUAR detached from the fleet.

           

25th - The Battle Fleet arrived back at Alexandria.

 

26th - 31st - QUEEN ELIZABETH at Alexandria.

 

August

 

1st to 4th - QUEEN ELIZABETH at Alexandria.

 

5th - QUEEN ELIZABETH, light cruiser NAIAD and destroyers JERVIS (D14), KINGSTON, HERO and VENDETTA departed Alexandria for exercises.

En route back to Alexandria the JERVIS and KINGSTON detached for Mersa Matruh to intercept a reported enemy supply ship.

 

6th - QUEEN ELIZABETH, light cruiser NAIAD and destroyers HERO and VENDETTA arrived back at Alexandria.

 

7th to 31st - QUEEN ELIZABETH at Alexandria.

 

September

 

1st to 9th - QUEEN ELIZABETH at Alexandria.

 

10th - QUEEN ELIZABETH, minelaying cruisers ABDIEL and LATONA, and destroyers JACKAL and HMAS NIZAM sailed from Alexandria  to carry out exercises. They returned to port the same day.

 

11th to 25th - QUEEN ELIZABETH at Alexandria.

 

26th - At 0900 hours battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH, BARHAM, and VALIANT, light cruisers AJAX, NEPTUNE and HOBART, and destroyers JERVIS, JUPITER, KINGSTON, KIPLING, HERO, HOTSPUR, DECOY and VENDETTA sailed from Alexandria to act as a diversion for operation HALBERD being carried out by Force H

At 1900 hours the destroyer NAPIER joined the Fleet at sea from Alexandria.

 

27th - At 1400 hours the Fleet returned to Alexandria.

 

28th to 30th - QUEEN ELIZABETH at Alexandria.

 

October

 

1st to 7th - QUEEN ELIZABETH at Alexandria.

 

8th - QUEEN ELIZABETH and destroyers were at sea exercising from Alexandria.

 

9th to 11th - QUEEN ELIZABETH at Alexandria.

 

12th - 12th – At 0700 hours battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT, light cruisers AJAX, HOBART and GALATEA and destroyers JERVIS, JAGUAR, GRIFFIN, JUPITER, KANDAHAR, HASTY, HOTSPUR, DECOY, AVONVALE and ERIDGE departed Alexandria and proceeded westward.

At 1800 hours the cruisers AJAX, HOBART, and GALATEA and destroyers JERVIS, JAGUAR, and JUPITER were detached to pass through position 33-00N, 24-30E at midnight and rejoin the Fleet at daylight.

 

13th – At 0500 hours the Fleet set course for Alexandria.

At 1315 hours a report was received of three Italian cruisers and six destroyers approaching the North African coast.

 

(Italian light cruisers DUCA D'AOSTA, EUGENIO DI SAVOIA, and MONTECUCCOLI and destroyers VIVALDI, MALOCELLO, PIGAFETTA, DE VERAZZANO, AVIERE, and CAMICIA NERA were to lay mines off Benghazi during the night of 12/13 October. However, the operation was cancelled when it was found that the Mediterranean Fleet was at sea)

 

When no contact was made with the enemy force the Fleet set course for Alexandria.

 

14th – At 0530 hours the Fleet arrived back at Alexandria.

 

15th to 30th - QUEEN ELIZABETH at Alexandria.

 

 

November

 

1st to 19th - QUEEN ELIZABETH at Alexandria.

 

(Before Dawn on 18/11/41 the British 8th Army commenced Operation CRUSADER the objectives of which were to relieve Tobruk and push the Axis forces out of Cyrenaica. The Allied forces had quantitative but not qualitative superiority in men and armour and whilst the objectives were achieved it was at a high cost in men and material. The Royal Navy provided off shore support for the 8th Army, Operation CHIEFTAN and from its Malta base kept up the pressure on the Axis Mediterranean supply line

 

20th - Battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH, BARHAM and VALIANT, light cruisers NAIAD, GALATEA, and EURYALUS, and destroyers JERVIS, KIMBERLEY, KINGSTON, HMAS NAPIER, HMAS NIZAM, KIPLING, JACKAL, DECOY, AVONVALE, and ERIDGE departed Alexandria to support the dummy convoy Operation CHIEFTAN and the dummy convoy Operation LANDMARK, both intended to divert attention from Operation CRUSADER in the Eastern Mediterranean.

 

(Operation CHIEFTAIN, at 1600/16/11/41 a convoy comprising the merchant ships SS BLAIRATHOLL 3319grt, SS BARON NEWLANDS 3386grt, SS SHUNA 1575grt, SS CISNEROS 1886grt, and SS OTTINGE 2870grt and the oiler RFA BROWN RANGER escorted by destroyer WILD SWAN, sloop DEPTFORD, and corvettes CONVOLVULUS, RHODODENDRON and MARIGOLD, sailed from Gibraltar and set course easterly as though a Malta bound convoy.

At approximately 2100/16/11/41 the corvette MARIGOLD who had dropped behind with engine trouble and was proceeding with all dispatch to catch up the convoy when her Type 271 radar picked up a surface contact that was the U 433. At the same time the U-Boat had fired four torpedoes at MARIGOLD, all of which missed, at what the U-Boat had thought was a cruiser. After engaging with gunfire, attempted ramming and finally DC's at 2155 hours in position 36-13N, 4-42W the U 433 was sunk by MARIGOLD.

At 1630/17/11/41 in position 36-30N, 1-30E the convoy reversed course and steered back to Gibraltar, where they arrived at 1800/18/11/41)

 

(Operation LANDMARK, at 1300/20/11/41 a convoy comprising the supply ship HMS BRECONSHIRE and the merchant ships MV SYDNEY STAR 11219grt, MV AJAX 7540grt  and SS CLAN FERGUSON 7347grt, escorted by the corvette GLOXINIA sailed from Valetta harbour and set course south easterly then southerly for the Libyan coast. Force K comprising light cruisers AURORA and PENELOPE and destroyers LANCE and LIVELY joined the convoy at sea. When the convoy reached approximate position 34N, 14E, it reversed course and arrived back at Valetta at 0300/22/11/41)

 

At 1200 hours the light cruisers AJAX, NEPTUNE and HMAS HOBART joined the fleet.

At nightfall AJAX, NEPTUNE and HOBART detached from the fleet.

 

21st - In the afternoon the Fleet reversed course and steered for Alexandria.

 

22nd - At daylight the Fleet arrived back at Alexandria.

 

(From mid October to mid December 1941 Bletchley Park was reading the Italian Cypher C 38m and the GAF Enigma signals almost simultaneously. Both Admiral Cunningham CinC Mediterranean Fleet and the Flag Officer Malta, Vice Admiral Wilbraham Ford were privy to the Ultra decrypts. This enabled sea and air forces operating from Malta and Egypt to bring about a dramatic reduction in Axis seaborne supplies to North Africa, with 62% of supplies failing to arrive. Decrypts also told of the Axis forces desperate need for supplies, particularly petrol. On 23/11/41 in response to Ultra decrypts Force K, comprising cruisers AURORA and PENELOPE and destroyers LANCE and LIVELY departed Malta to intercept Italian convoys. Also on 23/11/41 Force B, comprising Light cruisers AJAX, NEPTUNE, NAIAD and EURYALUS and destroyers KANDAHAR, KINGSTON, KIMBERLEY and HOTSPUR departed Alexandria to carry out a sweep along the coast of Libya to intercept Italian convoys. Two Italian convoys were at sea both destined for Benghazi, but when the German decrypting service B-Dienst learned that Force K had sailed both convoys were recalled. The large convoy of six vessels put into Navarino Bay, Greece, but the small convoy comprising the cargo ships MRITZA 2910grt, and PROCIDA 1842grt, both loaded with cased petrol and ammunition, escorted by the Italian torpedo boats LUPO and CASSIOPEA missed the recall signal and continued. At approximately 1500/24/11/41 Force K were steaming westerly in line abreast about 100 miles west of Crete when smoke was sighted to the north this was the small convoy by 1630 hours both merchants had been sunk and the torpedo boat CASSIOPEA damaged by splinters.

As a follow up to this operation on 28/11/41 six RAF Blenheims of 18 Sqd from Malta attacked the large convoy in Navarino Bay damaging the Italian tanker VOLTURNO 6000grt)

 

(At 0330/23/11/41 the landing ship large GLENROY escorted by the AA cruiser CARLISE and the destroyers FARNDALE, AVONVALE and ERIDGE sailed from Alexandria with supplies for Tobruk. At 1605/23/11/41 in position 31-40N, 26-28E the GLENROY was hit and damaged by an aerial torpedo dropped by a He 111H-4/6 of 6/K26 from Eleusis. The CARLISLE took GLENROY in tow and eventually GLENROY was beached on a sandbar off Mersa Matruh)

 

24th - At 1600 hours battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH (Flag CinC Mediterranean Fleet), VALIANT and BARHAM and destroyers JERVIS, GRIFFIN and DECOY departed Alexandria to support operations by Force K, give cover to GLENROY and to support Operation CRUSADER with naval bombardment if required. Five other destroyers, KIPLING, JACKAL, HASTY and HMAS NAPIER and NIZAM, were unable to sail with the Fleet as they were still oiling when the Fleet departed.

At 2245 hours in approximate position 31-50N, 27-18E the destroyers KIPLING, JACKAL, HASTY and HMAS NAPIER and NIZAM joined from Alexandria having completed fuelling.

 

25th – During the morning and afternoon the Battle Fleet steamed alternately east and west off the Gulf of Sollum waiting for bombardment requests from the 8th Army.

At 1625 hours the three battleships were steaming in echelon on the starboard leg of the zig-zag pattern, QUEEN ELIZABETH, leading, BARHAM in the centre and VALIANT astern. The German submarine U-331 managed to penetrate the destroyer screen and from almost point blank range fired four torpedoes, three of which hit the BARHAM on her port side. The BARHAM rolled over and sank in position 32-34N, 26-24E, four minutes after the first torpedo hit, following the detonation of a magazine.

 

(The German submarine U-331had sailed from Salamis at 1900/12/11/41 with an eight strong sabotage party embarked who were to carry out Operation HAI, an attack on the Egypt coastal railway line. The sabotage party were dropped off on the night of 17/11/41 on the coast at a point between Ras Gibeisa and Ras el Schaqiq. The U-331 then stood off for 24 hours, and then moved back to the coast to re-embark the sabotage party. By daybreak on 18/11/41 by which time the party had failed to return she abandoned hope and proceeded towards Sollum. Between 18 and 25/11/41 U 331 patrolled off the North African coast in the neighbourhood of Sollum and Mersa Matruh. At about 1600/25/11/41 the U­-331 was proceeding at periscope depth on an easterly course off Sollum, when her hydrophone operator picked up H.E. She later came to periscope depth and her CO Von Tiesenhausen sighted a formation of three battleships, which he identified as QUEEN ELIZABETH, BARHAM and VALIANT closing him in line ahead and screened by eight destroyers.  The whole formation was about 20¡ on the port bow. Von Tiesenhausen then decided at all costs to attack the leading battleship of the three.  He penetrated the inshore destroyer screen, proceeding between the two leading destroyers at periscope depth.  He then, however, found himself too close to QUEEN ELIZABETH to be able to fire effectively and decided to attack BARHAM the second ship in the line.  He accordingly fired a salvo of four torpedoes at her from periscope depth.  This was immediately followed by three detonations, one torpedo missing astern.  As soon as she had fired her torpedoes U-331's forepart broke surface. This was clearly observed from several British ships. It was not until all available hands had been rushed into the bow compartment that she again submerged, 45 seconds later.  Von Tiesenhausen then dived below VALIANT and went to a great depth, well below 200 metres constantly altering course. No DC attack developed for an hour after U-331 had submerged and none of the DC's then fired detonated close enough to do any damage)

 

The destroyers JARVIS and JACKAL were ordered to search for the submarine and HOTSPUR and NIZAM were ordered to pick up survivors.

QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT with the destroyers GRIFFIN, DECOY, KIPLING, HASTY and NAPIER immediately left the area at their best speed.

 

26th - At 1000 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT with the destroyers GRIFFIN, DECOY, KIPLING, HASTY and NAPIER arrived back at Alexandria.

 

27th to 30th - QUEEN ELIZABETH at Alexandria.

 

December

 

1st to 17th - QUEEN ELIZABETH at Alexandria.

 

(On 3/12/41 the Italian submarine SCIRE left the naval base of La Spezia carrying three SLC's [Siluro a Lenta Corsa, Slow Approach Cylinder, also affectionately called Il Maiale, the Pig] manned torpedoes. She sailed to the island of Leros in the Aegean Sea, where the submarine picked up six crewmen of the 10th flotilla MAS, who were to man the Maiale. These were: Luigi Durand de la Penne and Emilio Bianchi, Maiale No 221, Vincenzo Martellotta and Mario Marino, Maiale No 222 and Antonio Marceglia and Spartaco Schergat, Maiale No 223. The SCIRE then steered for Alexandria)

 

(On 17/12/41 Bletchley Park alerted the CinC Mediterranean Fleet of a decrepit of the Italian C 39m Cypher that indicated that something was being planned against Alexandria in December. This alert was issued because of an aerial reconnaissance made by the Italians of Alexandria harbour in which they had, reported that the two battleships were at their usual moorings and unusually that the sea was calm)

 

18th - QUEEN ELIZABETH at Alexandria.

 

(On the 18/12/41 Bletchley Park added to their alert of the previous day; stating that the reconnaissance information in the alert had been urgently requested by the Italians. On the strength of the two alerts the CinC issued a general alert at 1025/18/12/41; ÒAttacks on Alexandria by air, boat or human torpedo may be expected when calm weather prevails. Look outs and patrols should be warned accordinglyÓ)

 

(At approximate1840 hours the SCIRE arrived in a position about a mile west of the entrance to Alexandria harbour. At 2047 hours three Maiales were launched from SCIRE after launching they headed for the harbour entrance. When they arrived at the harbour entrance they found the anti-submarine boom open for the passage of the cruisers and destroyers returning from escorting the BRECONSHIRE to Malta. The three Maiales followed the British forces into Alexandria harbour and headed for their targets the battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH, VALIANT and a fleet oiler. QUEEN ELIZABETH was the target of the Maiale No 222, manned by Antonio Marceglia and Spartaco Schergat)

 

19th – At approximately 0230 hours Antonio Marceglia and Spartaco Schergat placed the explosive warhead of the Maiale, which was a standard 270 Kg torpedo warhead, filled with TNT, on the harbour bottom underneath the QUEEN ELIZABETH.

 

(After placing their charge Antonio Marceglia and Spartaco Schergat attempted to return to the open sea but they found themselves unable to get past the net and out of the harbour. So they destroyed their Maiale and swam to shore and then set off to make a RV with the submarine that was to pick them up. But they didn't make it and they were later captured)

 

At 0325 hours Durand De La Penne and Emilio Bianchi were sighted sitting on VALIANT's mooring buoy and were taken aboard the VALIANT, where they were questioned, but refused to answer any questions. They were detained in a compartment on board VALIANT until 0600 hours when De La Penne asked to speak to VALIANT's CO, Captain Morgan. De La Penne informed Morgan that the device they had planted was due to explode imminently. De La Penne was then returned to the compartment.

At 0547 hours an explosive device went off under the stern of the Norwegian oiler MV SAGONA 7554 grt, at the time of the explosion the SAGONA had four destroyers alongside refuelling, one of which, the JERVIS, was also damaged by the explosion.

At 0606 hours the explosive device went off under the VALIANT.

At 0610 hours an explosive device went off under the QUEEN ELIZABETH. Immediately after the explosion the QUEEN ELIZABETH began to roll to starboard and sink. The charge detonated under B boiler room and blew in the double bottom in this area; it also damaged the double bottom under A and X boiler rooms. The ship's bottom was damaged over an area of 190 ft x 60 ft and included both the port and starboard bulges. Immediate flooding occurred in A, B and X boiler rooms and in the forward 4.5inch magazines. Other areas including Y boiler room and several other compartments in the vicinity, flooded slowly up to main deck level. Boilers in the boiler rooms and the auxiliary machinery, together with electrical equipment were severely damaged by the explosion and subsequent flooding, all hydraulic power was lost. The armament was undamaged but was unusable due the loss of electrical and hydraulic power.

Both QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT settled on the harbour bottom on an even keel in a few feet of water.

 

(The crew of Vincenzo Martellotta and Mario Marino attacked the oiler MV SAGONA and had great difficulties in achieving their goal. The plan was to place the warhead under the SAGONA, as well as spread incendiary time bombs around in the basin. So that when SAGONA blew up, her oil cargo would leak into the harbour, the incendiary bombs would ignite the oil and turn Alexandria harbour into an inferno. However as they approached the oiler one member of the crew had a problem and had to surface. The warhead was too heavy for just one man to drag it underneath the ship as planned so he sank the Maiale under the stern of the SAGONA. When the explosive went off it caused severe damage to the oiler but didn't rupture her oil tanks, so when the incendiary bombs went off there was no oil to catch fire. The SAGONA was not repaired until after the war so she remained at Alexandria as bunker ship for the remainder of the war. Vincenzo Martellotta and Mario Marino were captured when they swam ashore)

 

(At a stroke the six commandos had knocked out the Royal Navy's Mediterranean Battle Fleet. When Churchill received news of the sinkings he said, "Six Italians, dressed in rather unusual diving suits and equipped with materials of laughably little cost, have swung the military balance of power in the Mediterranean in favour of the Axis".

Fortunately for the Allies the enemy was not fully aware of the precarious position of the Mediterranean Fleet. To fool Axis reconnaissance aircraft into thinking that the raid had failed, apparently normal operations were conducted on a day to day basis. Smoke came out of funnels, guns were trained, and all the routine ceremonial rituals performed as if nothing had happened. In fact below the waterline frantic repair efforts were being made which lasted several weeks. Had the Axis realised the truth then Admiral Cunningham, with only a few operational ships at his disposal, could have been driven out of the Mediterranean, with potentially disastrous consequences for the Allies)

 

Salvage work on the QUEEN ELIZABETH commenced immediately. But because the VALIANT suffered less damage she was given priority for repairs and was first into the Admiralty floating dock AFD 5.

 

(Admiral Cunningham was aware that Lieutenant Keeble [Lieutenant L A J Keeble, RNVR (SA), CO of HMS HARROW] was familiar with salvage work. Keeble was sent to the headquarters of the South African Engineer Corps [SAEC] in Cairo to brief the South African engineers on the critical situation that had developed at Alexandria and to request their urgent help in the salvaging work. Three fully-equipped divers of the 41st South African Harbour Construction Company, SAEC, working on harbour improvements at Marakeb Harbour, were despatched to help with the battleships salvage operations.

In the meantime, Lieutenant Keeble was flown to Cape Town to deliver a special message from Admiral Cunningham to General Smuts, imploring him to send salvage teams to Alexandria Harbour. In response, four South African Railways & Harbours Brigade divers and a petty officer diver from the Seaward Defence Force [SDF], were flown to Cairo. They arrived at Alexandria on 7/1/42.

For the next three months, the South African divers, facing many known and unknown hazards in the muddy waters of Alexandria Harbour, used gas and electric cutting equipment to remove the jungle of twisted steel from the vessels and then patched the holes by welding plates across them to seal the hulls so that the ships could be filled with compressed air, raised and moved to the dry docks for repairs)

 

 

1942

 

January to May

 

During this period the QUEEN ELIZABETH was under repair at Alexandria to prepare her for the voyage to the USA for permanent repair in a US Navy dockyard.

 

(On 29/3/42 the Italian submarine AMBRA sailed from La Spezia on Operation GA 4, carrying three SLCs. She sailed to the island of Leros in the Aegean Sea, where the submarine picked up six crewmen of the 10th flotilla MAS, who were to man the SLCs. The AMBRA then steered for Alexandria. On 14/5/41 the AMBRA arrived off Alexandria and launched the three SLCs. This time the attack was unsuccessful and again all six frogmen were captured)

 

On 3/4/42 a new CO was appointed, acting Captain Renfrew Gotto DSO, RN.

Also on 3/4/42 Vice Admiral Miakulin of the Soviet Navy visited the Commander in Chief at Alexandria and lunched with Admiral Cunningham on board the QUEEN ELIZABETH.

 

June

 

(On 23/6/42 Axis forces captured Tobruk and two days later they crossed the Egyptian boarder in close pursuit of the disorganised and demoralised Allied forces. The frontier crossing gave rise to the infamous 'Ash Wednesday' when the Allied GHQ in Cairo were burning files in expectation of Axis forces shortly entering Cairo. At the same time the Royal Navy were evacuating Alexandria and maximum effort was exerted to get the QUEEN ELIZABETH ready for sailing as soon as possible)

 

1st to 26th - QUEEN ELIZABETH was under repair.

 

27th - QUEEN ELIZABETH was undocked.

At 1800 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH and sailed from Alexandria for Port Said.

 

28th - The QUEEN ELIZABTH sailed from Port Said for Aden on first stage of passage.

 

July

 

Passage in Indian Ocean with call at Durban.

 

August

 

Passage in Atlantic Ocean with call at Cape Town.

 

11th - QUEEN ELIZABETH was joined by the destroyers BOREAS and VIMY from Freetown.

 

13th - QUEEN ELIZABETH, BOREAS and VIMY arrived at Freetown.

 

25th - QUEEN ELIZABETH escorted by the destroyers PATHFINDER, QUENTIN and VIMY sailed from Freetown westward.

 

26th - The destroyer VIMY detached and returned to Freetown.

 

28th - In approximate position 14-12N, 37-15W the QUEEN ELIZABETH, PATHFINDER and QUENTIN RVed with the oiler RFA ABBEYDALE escorted by the corvettes ARMERIA and BURDOCK. The oiling force had sailed from Gibraltar on 20/8/42.

 

31st - The destroyers PATHFINDER and QUENTIN detached for Trinidad.

 

September

 

6th - QUEEN ELIZABETH arrived at the Norfolk Navy Yard, Virginia and was taken in hand for repair.

 

8th - Paid off.

 

October to December

 

QUEEN ELIZABETH at Norfolk Navy Yard under going repair and refit.

 

In November a new CO was appointed, Commander Reginald Cecil Haskett-Smith DSO, RN.

 

 

1943

 

January to May

 

QUEEN ELIZABETH at Norfolk Navy Yard under going repair and refit.

 

In April a new CO was appointed, Captain Horace Geoffrey Norman RN.

 

June

 

1st - Repairs and refit completed.

 

Re-commissioned and carried out harbour trials and sea trials.

 

26th - QUEEN ELIZABETH sailed from Norfolk Navy Yard for Boston.

 

30th - QUEEN ELIZABETH escorted the frigates BAZELY, BENTINCK, BLACKWOOD and DRURY sailed from Boston for Bermuda.

 

July

 

2nd - QUEEN ELIZABETH escorted the frigates BAZELY, BENTINCK, BLACKWOOD and DRURY sailed from Bermuda for Devonport.

 

9th - QUEEN ELIZABETH escorted the frigates BAZELY, BENTINCK, BLACKWOOD and DRURY arrived at Devonport to complete her refit.

 

(At Devonport she was fitted with HF/DF on her after mast and the latest radar fit. Her aircraft storage and launching facilities were removed and she was prepared for service with the Eastern Fleet)

 

August

 

1st to 27th - QUEEN ELIZABETH was at Devonport completing her refit.

 

28th - QUEEN ELIZABETH escorted by the destroyers SCORPION and HMCS HURON sailed from Plymouth for Scapa Flow.

 

30th - QUEEN ELIZABETH and the destroyers SCORPION and HMCS HURON arrived at Scapa Flow.

 

31st - QUEEN ELIZABETH commenced working up exercises from Scapa Flow.

 

September to October

 

During these two months the QUEEN ELIZABETH was at Scapa Flow carrying out working up exercises.

 

 

November

 

8th – At 1300 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH and the battlecruiser RENOWN and destroyers ORIBI and URCHIN sailed from Scapa for Plymouth.

Off Cape Wrath URCHIN detached and returned to Scapa.

 

9th – In position 52-46N, 5W the destroyer ROCKET joined the escort

 

10th – In position 50N, 4-15W the RENOWN detached for Plymouth.

At 2300 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH and destroyers ORIBI and ROCKET arrived at Portland.

 

11th - QUEEN ELIZABETH sailed from Portland for Portsmouth where she arrived in the afternoon.

 

11th to 30th - At Portsmouth where she was docked for repairs.

Crew given leave.

 

December

 

1st to 13th - QUEEN ELIZABETH was at Portsmouth for leave and repairs.

 

14th - QUEEN ELIZABETH sailed from Portsmouth for Scapa Flow.

 

16th - QUEEN ELIZABETH arrived at Scapa Flow to continue working up.

 

17th to 29th - At Scapa Flow carrying out working up exercises.

 

(It was the intention that the three capital ships should sail from Scapa on 29/12/43and that the Rear Admiral, Aircraft Carriers, Eastern Fleet (Rear Admiral C. Moody) in ILLUSTRIOUS and UNICORN should leave the Clyde the same day.

To assist in maintaining the secrecy of the movement it had been planned that passage of the Straits of Gibraltar should be made by night, and that the capital ships and destroyers should fuel at Gibraltar during dark hours.

On 29/12/43 a south westerly gale was blowing at Scapa with the usual heavy sea in the Pentland Firth. It was considered unlikely that the squadron would be able to maintain the necessary speed without causing damage to the destroyers, and, as the weather chart gave promise of an early improvement, it was decided to delay sailing for twenty four hours)

 

30th - At 1700 hours Group A of the First Battle Squadron Eastern Fleet comprising battle cruiser RENOWN (Flag of Vice Admiral A.J. Power, CB, CVO, as Vice Admiral Commanding First Battle Squadron and Second in Command Eastern Fleet) battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT and destroyer TUSCAN and the frigates BLACKWOOD, DOMETT and BERRY sailed from Scapa and proceeded through the Minches to RV with the Carrier Force to the westward of Skerryvore lighthouse.

In a heavy sea in the Pentland Firth, the TUSCAN sustained damage to her forecastle and breakwater. She continued with the Squadron until off Skerryvore when she was detached to the Clyde for repairs.

 

31st - At 1030 hours in approximate position 56-24N, 8-18W the TUSCAN detached for the Clyde to repair her weather damage and

At the same time Group A were joined by the aircraft carriers ILLUSTRIOUS (Flag Rear Admiral C. Moody, Rear Admiral, Aircraft Carriers, Eastern Fleet) and UNICORN escorted by the destroyers TERMAGANT, TENACIOUS and KEMPENFELT from the Clyde.

Also joining were the frigates DUCKWORTH, COOKE, ESSINGTON and PARRETT from Londonderry. All the frigates of EG 3, Western Approaches Command were now part of the escort.

The combined force then shaped course to the westward to make good a speed of 16 knots along a route which had been ordered by the Admiralty and which was expected to enable the force to pass the Straits of Gibraltar on the night of 5th – 6th January.

At 1200 hours the Force were in position 56-15N, 9-30W.

In the afternoon, a signal was received from the Admiralty ordering a change of route, after passing the longitude of 10 degrees west. This diverted the Squadron further to the westward and added about 150 miles to the distance to be covered. Course was altered accordingly.

 

 

1944

 

January

 

1st - At 1200 hours the Force was in position 51-50N, 17-13W.

 

2nd - At 1200 hours the Force was in position 46-57N, 22-47W.

 

3rd - At 1200 hours the Force was in position 41-03N, 22-20W.

 

4th - At 1200 hours the Force was in position 36-41N, 16-50W

At 1700 the Force divided into two groups in order that the capital ships that were to fuel at Gibraltar might go on ahead at a greater speed of advance than the diesel escort vessels could maintain.

The first group, consisting of the RENOWN, QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT and the destroyers TERMAGANT, TENACIOUS and KEMPENFELT and the frigates DUCKWORTH and ESSINGTON made good 18 knots speed of advance, steering for Gibraltar.

The ILLUSTRIOUS and UNICORN escorted by the frigates COOKE, BLACKWOOD, DOMETT, BERRY and PARRETT, followed at 16 ½ knots.

 

5th - At 0800 hours in position 35-41N, 10W the battleship group RVed with the destroyers ANTHONY, ACTIVE, BRILLIANT, INGLEFIELD, ISIS and URCHIN from Gibraltar. These destroyers were ordered to join the carrier group so that the diesel frigates and PARRETT could be released to refuel.

At 1200 hours the battleship group were in position 35-30N, 08-39W.

At 2130 hours the RENOWN, QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT and TERMAGANT, TENACIOUS and KEMPENFELT arrived at Gibraltar and commenced fuelling from tankers. Precautions were taken to minimize the risk of the ships being sighted from neutral Spain.

 

6th - At 0415 hours the RENOWN, QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT the destroyers TERMAGANT, TENACIOUS and KEMPENFELT and the frigates DUCKWORTH and ESSINGTON sailed from Gibraltar and steered for a prearranged RV with the carriers 50 miles to the eastward of Europa Point.

At 0800 hours the RENOWN, QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT the destroyers TERMAGANT, TENACIOUS and KEMPENFELT and the frigates DUCKWORTH and ESSINGTON RV with the ILLUSTRIOUS and UNICORN and the destroyers ANTHONY, ACTIVE, BRILLIANT, INGLEFIELD, ISIS and URCHIN. The Force then continued to the eastward at a speed of advance of 14 knots.

 

(It had been intended that four of the destroyers from Gibraltar should be detached when the rendezvous was made, but, as the frigates could not yet catch up, the four destroyers were retained until the next morning.

During the day fighter patrols and A/S air patrols were flown from the carriers, but all the aircraft were landed on before sunset. Shore based fighters provided for the dusk period, and also a night A/S patrol ahead of the force from dusk to daylight, and night fighters patrolled to the north)

 

7th - At 0800 hours the frigates COOKE, BLACKWOOD, DOMETT and BERRY rejoined the Force, relieving the destroyers ISIS, BRILLIANT, ANTHONY and ACTIVE who then detached and returned to Gibraltar.

 

(Shortly after parting company, the destroyers were diverted to hunt a U boat off Cape de Gata. This U boat had been fixed by D/F bearings and was subsequently sighted by aircraft during the night)

 

At 1200 hours the Force was in position 37-16N, 03-06E

At 2300 hours the destroyers KEMPENFELT, TENACIOUS and TERMAGANT detached for Bizerte to refuel.

 

8th - At 1200 hours the Force was in position 37-17N, 10-05E.

At 1400 hours the destroyers KEMPENFELT, TENACIOUS and TERMAGANT rejoined from Bizerte.

At 1530 hours when passing north of Bizerta, the destroyer INGLEFIELD was detached to Bizerta and took with her a hospital case from the ESSINGTON.

At 2359 hours the destroyer URCHIN was detached to proceed to Malta to refuel.

 

9th - The Force proceeded to the south of Malta on a generally south easterly course.

 

(In the early morning there was a certain amount of enemy air activity off Cyrenaica, some four hundred miles to the east of the Force and a convoy off Apollonia, Crete, reported at about 0100 hours that it was under air attack.

A diversion was ordered in the forenoon to take effect from 1200 hours. This diverted the Force into the Gulf of Sidra, some 60 miles to the southward of the original route. It kept them clear of the convoys which were converging on the Benghazi Corner; and it added some ninety miles to its distance from enemy radar stations in Crete during the early hours of darkness; and it enabled the force to make most of the passage between Benghazi and Tobruk in daylight)

 

At 1200 hours the Force was in position 33-29N, 15-35E. At this time the Squadron altered course to the southward into the Gulf of Sidra.

 

10th - At 1200 hours the Force was in position 33-05N, 22-05E.

 

(Shortly after 2000 hours a signal was received that the Force and a slow eastbound convoy, [probably convoy GUS 27] which was about 70 miles to the westward, had probably been sighted by enemy aircraft about 1730 hours)

 

11th - Between 0930 and 1100 hours dummy torpedo attacks on the Force were carried out by shore based aircraft and interception by fighters from ILLUSTRIOUS was exercised.

At 1200 hours the Force was in position 31-30N, 28-06E.

At 1615 hours an aircraft was sighted by RENOWN and reported as a Ju 88. ILLUSTRIOUS flew off fighters to intercept, but without success. One Corsair crashed on taking off. A signal was later received that the Force had been sighted by German aircraft at 1640 hours.

 

12th - At 0120 hours warning of enemy aircraft in the vicinity was received from shore. Speed was increased to elude a possible enemy air search. One enemy aircraft approaching from the southwest was driven off by a RAF Beaufighter, possibly from 272 Sqd.

At 0700 hours the Force arrived off Port Said. The frigates DUCKWORTH, COOKE, BLACKWOOD, DOMETT, BERRY and ESSINGTON detached to Port Said.

Arrangements had been made for ships to enter the Canal in the order of draught with the lighter ships first. QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT had to enter Port Said harbour to reduce their draught by discharging fuel oil.

At 0900 hours the first ships of the Force entered the Suez Canal, these were the destroyers KEMPENFELT, TENACIOUS and TERMAGANT followed by the UNICORN, ILLUSTRIOUS and RENOWN.

At 1700 hours the KEMPENFELT, TENACIOUS, TERMAGANT, UNICORN, ILLUSTRIOUS and RENOWN arrived in the Great Bitter Lake. At this point the KEMPENFELT, TENACIOUS and TERMAGANT were recalled to Port Said. The UNICORN, ILLUSTRIOUS and RENOWN anchored for the night.

At 2200 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT sailed from Port Said and entered the canal.

 

13th - At 1000 hours The UNICORN, ILLUSTRIOUS and RENOWN arrived at Suez.

At 1300 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT arrived at Suez.

It was decided to devote the remaining part of the day and the following day to fuelling all ships and to allow time for making good essential defects. Meetings were held with shore authorities in order to arrange for a programme of exercises for the ships, and for cooperation with R.A.F. shore based aircraft for exercises in the harbour and at sea.

 

14th - The Force was at Suez.

 

15th - At 0800 hours the RENOWN, QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT sailed from Suez and carried out day and night exercised in the Gulf of Suez.

 

16th - At 0200 hours the RENOWN, QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT returned to Suez.

At 0800 hours the ILLUSTRIOUS and UNICORN and the destroyers PETARD, PALADIN, PATHFINDER and ROCKET sailed from Suez to carry out H.A. firings in the Gulf of Suez before continuing the passage to the East.

At 1030 hours the RENOWN, QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT sailed from Suez and headed south.

At 1200 hours the battleship force was in position 29-34N, 32-31E.

The carrier force under Rear Admiral Aircraft Carriers, was acting independently of the battleship force, and was ordered to overtake during the night and to be about 20 miles south of the battleships on the morning of 17/1/44.

 

(In this way considerable progress in training was possible without delaying the passage. Flying training by the carriers, radar tracking by both forces during the night, 15 inch full calibre firing range and inclination exercises by the battleships, and dummy torpedo attacks by aircraft was among the exercises from which great benefit was obtained. The comparative security of the northern half of the Red Sea from enemy air and submarine activity made this training possible by permitting a slight relaxation of preparedness and by allowing a wider dispersion of units than could have been accepted in any other waters through which the force would pass)

 

17th - At 1200 hours the battleship force was in position 23-37N, 36-27E.

 

18th - At 1200 hours the Force was in position 18-08N, 39-50E.

At 1630 hours the RENOWN and ILLUSTRIOUS detached and increased speed to 21 knots proceeded ahead of the other ships in order to reach Aden before high water on the afternoon of 19/1/44.

 

(It was not possible for all five heavy ships to be berthed and fuelled simultaneously in Aden harbour, and the draught of the QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT restricted their movement in the shallow harbour and approaches to a short time either side of high water. It was therefore arranged that RENOWN and the two carriers should fuel between the daylight tides of the 19th and 20th January while the battleships remained at sea, and vice versa on the 20th to 21st January)

 

19th - At 1000 hours the RENOWN and ILLUSTRIOUS were in approximate position 12-26N, 44-02E, at which time they RVed with the destroyers ROTHERHAM (D11), ROEBUCK, RACEHORSE and RAPID.

At 1100 hours the destroyers ROEBUCK, RACEHORSE and RAPID detached to RV with the battleships.

At 1200 hours the RENOWN and ILLUSTRIOUS were in position 12-24N, 44-50E.

At 1200 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH, VALIANT, UNICORN and the destroyers PETARD, PALADIN, PATHFINDER and ROCKET were in approximate position 12-21N, 43-45E.

At 1300 hours in approximate position 12-30N, 44-02E the QUEEN ELIZABETH, VALIANT, UNICORN and the destroyers PETARD, PALADIN, PATHFINDER and ROCKET RVed with the destroyers ROEBUCK, RACEHORSE and RAPID.

At 1315 hours in approximate position the UNICORN and the destroyers PETARD, PALADIN, PATHFINDER and ROCKET detached for Aden.

At 1530 hours the RENOWN, ILLUSTRIOUS and the destroyer ROTHERHAM arrived at Aden and commenced to refuel.

At 1545 hours the UNICORN and the destroyers PETARD, PALADIN, PATHFINDER and ROCKET arrived at Aden and commenced to refuel.

At 1800 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH, VALIANT and the destroyers ROEBUCK, RACEHORSE and RAPID arrived off Aden.

 

20th - During the morning the QUEEN ELIZABETH, VALIANT and the destroyers ROEBUCK, RACEHORSE and RAPID remained off Aden.

At 1300 hours the ILLUSTRIOUS followed by the RENOWN, UNICORN and the destroyer ROTHERHAM got under way and departed Aden.

At 1430 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT entered Aden to refuel.

The RENOWN, ILLUSTRIOUS and UNICORN escorted by the destroyers ROTHERHAM, ROEBUCK, RACEHORSE and RAPID then stood to the southward until midnight, and then to the north eastward until daylight.

 

21st - At 1200 hours the RENOWN, ILLUSTRIOUS, UNICORN and the destroyers ROTHERHAM, ROEBUCK, RACEHORSE and RAPID were in position 11-59N, 45-37E.

At 1700 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH, VALIANT and the destroyers PETARD, PALADIN, PATHFINDER, ROCKET and HMAS NORMAN sailed from Aden.

At 1800 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH, VALIANT and the destroyers PETARD, PALADIN, PATHFINDER, ROCKET and NORMAN RVed with the RENOWN, ILLUSTRIOUS, UNICORN and the destroyers ROTHERHAM, ROEBUCK, RACEHORSE and RAPID off Aden. The destroyers ROTHERHAM, ROEBUCK, RACEHORSE and RAPID then detached for Aden to refuel.

The RENOWN, QUEEN ELIZABETH, VALIANT, ILLUSTRIOUS, UNICORN and the destroyers PETARD, PALADIN, PATHFINDER, ROCKET and NORMAN then headed east at 13 knots.

 

22nd - At 1100 hours the destroyers ROTHERHAM, ROEBUCK, RACEHORSE and RAPID rejoined from Aden.

At 1200 hours the Force was in position 12-44N, 48-48E.

 

(The passage across the Indian Ocean was made without any noteworthy incident. The weather continued to be fine throughout and thus there were opportunities every day for continuing the sea training of the ships and squadron. Various new cruising orders were tried out, with particular reference to the best position for the carriers when cruising in company with capital ships)

 

23rd - At 1200 hours the Force was in position 13-40N, 55-28E.

 

24th - At 0630 hours the Squadron was formed into a suitable cruising order for the destroyers to fuel from the battleships. NORMAN fuelled from QUEEN ELIZABETH, PALADIN and PATHFINDER from VALIANT, and PETARD from RENOWN. The other four destroyers carried more fuel and were able to make the passage without oiling at sea.

 

(In the refueling operation NORMAN sustained slight damage and fouled her propeller when a spring parted during fuelling. She managed to complete the passage but as there was considerable vibration at the speed of the fleet she was stationed astern so that that she could follow at her most suitable speed. On arrival at Colombo, NORMAN was docked for repairs)

 

At 1200 hours the Force was in position 12-02N, 61-46E.

 

25th - At 1200 hours the Force was in position 12N, 68 08E.

 

26th - At 1200 hours the Force was in position 8-44N, 73-51E.

Around midday a long range aircraft from Ceylon made contact with the Force to start air cooperation exercises which continued until the RENOWN arrived at Colombo.

At 1800 hours in approximate position 8-24N, 74-42E, the UNICORN escorted by the destroyers ROEBUCK and RAPID detached and proceeded to Cochin, where she arrived a.m. 27/1/44.

 

27th - RAF long range aircraft shadowed the Squadron through the night and made reports on which a striking force of torpedo bombers was led into a dummy torpedo attack on the ships at first light.

At 0730 hours in approximate position 7N, 78-30E, the destroyers HMAS NIZAM and NAPIER joined the Squadron from the southward.

At 0830 hours the RENOWN escorted by the destroyers ROTHERHAM and NORMAN, detached and proceeded to Colombo where they arrived at 1400 hours and entered harbour.

At 1200 hours the remaining ships of the Force were in position 6-38N, 79-23E.

 

28th - At 0730 hours ILLUSTRIOUS Flew off her aircraft to RNAS China Bay.
At 1030 hours the ILLUSTRIOUS, QUEEN ELIZABETH, VALIANT and the destroyers RACEHORSE, PETARD, PALADIN, PATHFINDER, ROCKET, NIZAM and NAPIER arrived at Trincomalee.

 

29th - QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT, remained at Trincomalee and started to clean their boilers; this work had been deferred until the end of the passage. It was estimated that boiler cleaning and repair of normal machinery defects would be completed by 11/2/44.

 

February

 

1st to 16th - QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT were at Trincomalee carrying out maintenance.

 

17th - QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT sailed from Trincomalee to carry out exercises in the Bay of Bengal.

 

18th - QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT returned to Trincomalee.

 

19th to 28th - QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT were at Trincomalee.

 

(Owing to the unfortunate lack of destroyers, the capital ships were confined to harbour drills and exercises.

It had been intended that RENOWN, QUEEN ELIZABETH, and a destroyer screen should proceed to sea for exercises on 29/2/44 but heavy rain reduced visibility to about half a mile and practices had to be postponed)

March

 

1st to 5th - QUEEN ELIZABETH was at Trincomalee.

 

(On 5/3/44 Admiral Sir James Fownes Somerville, Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Fleet, visited Trincomalee and held a meeting of flag and commanding officers in the RENOWN concerning future operations)

 

6th - QUEEN ELIZABETH escorted by the destroyers HMAS NIZAM, QUICKMATCH, and QUALITY sailed for Colombo to store to full capacity there. Full calibre and other firing practices were carried out on passage.

 

7th - QUEEN ELIZABETH and escort on passage to Colombo.

 

8th - South west of Colombo the destroyers NIZAM, QUICKMATCH, and QUALITY detached and returned to Trincomalee for Operation INITIAL

QUEEN ELIZABETH arrived at Colombo to complete with stores.

 

9th to 12th - QUEEN ELIZABETH was at Colombo.

 

13th - At 1600 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH escorted by the destroyers HMAS NORMAN, NEPAL and HNMS TJERK HIDDES sailed from Colombo.

 

14th - At 1430 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH and the destroyers NORMAN, NEPAL and TJERK HIDDES arrived at Trincomalee.

 

15th to 20th - QUEEN ELIZABETH was at Trincomalee.

 

21st – The Eastern Fleet comprising battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH, VALIANT, battlecruiser RENOWN (Flag Vice Admiral 2iC Eastern Fleet), aircraft carrier ILLUSTRIOUS, heavy cruisers LONDON and CUMBERLAND, light cruisers CELYLON and GAMBIA and the destroyers PATHFINDER, QUALITY, QUEENBOROUGH, QUILLIAM (D4), HMAS NAPIER (Wearing the broad pennant of Commodore S H T ARLISS RN Commander D Eastern Fleet), NEPAL, NORMAN and QUIBERON and HMNLS TJERK HIDDES and VAN GALEN sailed from Trincomalee and Colombo on Operation DIPLOMAT.

The ships from Trincomalee and Colombo RVed south of Ceylon and then steered south carrying out exercises en route to the refueling RV.

 

(Operation DIPLOMAT was an exercise with three objectives:-

1 - For the various units to operate together as a fleet and to see how well they had adapted to the climatic conditions.

2 - To practice refueling/replenishment at sea. [This was an operation that up to this time the RN had only carried out as a last resort. With the naval war moving to the Indian and Pacific Oceans it was an operation that the RN had to master. It was stressful for the bridge and engine room staffs as constant adjustments were necessary in direction and speed. The engine designers had not envisaged this type of fine speed control being necessary, and the tachometers fitted to the engines only gave rough readings, so fine adjustments of the throttle valves had to be made continuously]

3 - To RV with US Task Group 58.5 which comprised the aircraft carrier USS SARATOGA and her escort)

 

24th – In position approximate 6-15S, 80-30E the Eastern Fleet RVed with the refueling force of three RFA oilers escorted by the cruiser HMNLS TROMP. The refueling operation then commenced with the Fleet steering a south easterly course.

 

25th - During the daylight hours the Eastern Fleet continued the refueling operation.

 

26th – In approximate position 12S, 86E the refueling was completed and the Fleet steered to RV with US Task Force 58.5.

 

27th – at 1200 hours SW of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands the Eastern Fleet RVed with US Task Force 58.5 comprising the aircraft carrier SARATOGA and the destroyers DUNLAP, CUMMINGS and FANNING.  TF 58.5 had sailed from Freemantle on 24/3/44.

 

(The loan of the SARATOGA was a result of the agreement between Roosevelt and Churchill at the Casablanca Conference in January 1943. At the meeting Roosevelt had agreed that as soon as American resources would allow, an American carrier would be dispatched to aid the British Fleet operating in the Indian Ocean. The objective would be to disrupt Japanese oil supplies from the Dutch East Indies which were the main source of Japanese oil supplies.

 The SARATOGA had embarked Air Group 12 which comprised squadrons:-

VF-12 equipped with 44 F6F-3 Grumman Hellcat fighters

VB-12 equipped with 19 SBD-5 Douglas Dauntless scout bombers

VT-12 equipped with 17 TBF-1C Grumman Avenger torpedo bombers)

 

The combined force then steered northwards towards Trincomalee carrying out exercises en route.

 

(During the two days of joint exercises air crew from the SARATOGA gave the FAA pilots the benefit of their combat experience against the Japanese. A circular cruising formation designed for up to three carriers was tried out. It was considered to have many advantages and the CO of the SARATOGA favored circular formations and circular screens.

The circular screen favored by the USN was first tried out at the Battle of Midway following which the action report recommended; Òscreening vessels must close the carrier to not less that 1500 yards and all available CAs and DDs should be on the same circleÓ.  Also the action report stated that, Òthe 5" battery and close range weapons of surface ships are only partially effective in repelling a determined torpedo attack because of the low rate of fire of the 5" battery and fuse failures; short effective range of the 20mm guns; and the failure of short range weapon gunners to lead the target sufficiently)

 

31st - At 0845 hours ILLUSTRIOUS and SARATOGA flew off their aircraft to RNAS China Bay, Trincomalee.

At 1000 hours the combined force arrived at Trincomalee.

 

(The report by Vice Admiral 2iC Eastern Fleet stated the Operation DIPLOMAT had provided excellent opportunities of improving the efficiency of all ships and enabled the American Task Force to shake down with the Eastern Fleet. The Task Force is a very considerable addition to the strength of the Fleet)

 

April

 

1st to 10th - QUEEN ELIZABETH was at Trincomalee carrying out boiler cleaning and minor maintenance

 

(3/4/44 Admiral Somerville, Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet, visited Trincomalee to exchange calls with the Commanding Officers of U.S.S. SARATOGA (Captain J.H. Cassidy, USN), and of the U.S. destroyers CUMMINGS, DUNLAP and FANNING, forming Task Group 58.5)

 

(On 10/4/44 the Free French Battleship RICHELIEU arrived at Trincomalee from the UK. Following an extensive refit at the New York Navy Yard, the RICHELIEU had served with the Home Fleet from 11/43 to 3/44.

The arrival of the RICHELIEU was also resultant of the Casablanca Conference where Roosevelt and Churchill had united the Free French General Henri-HonorŽ Giraud and Brigadier General Charles de Gaulle, the two rivals for the leadership of French forces opposed to the Vichy regime. The Generals agreed that Free French forces would oppose Axis forces in all theatres)

 

11th to 15th - All the Fleet units including Task Group 58.5 carried out exercises in the Bay of Bengal. This included Night exercises to improve efficiency in night fighting and bombardment firings, using the bombardment range at Foul Point, [Foul Point is on the southern side of the entrance to Trincomalee Harbour] also dawn and night attacks were made on the Fleet by MTBs of the 16th MTB Flotilla who simulated enemy E-Boats.

 

(The 16th MTB Flotilla comprised MTBs numbered 275, 277, 278, 279, 280, 282, 291, 292, 293, 299 and 300. These were 37 ton, 40-knot Vosper MTBs that were built under licence in the USA and shipped from America to India. They were manned by RIN crews with RNVR officers; the CO of the Flotilla was Lieutenant Sir Kenneth Alston Cradock-Hartopp RN. Their depot ship was the HMIS BARRACUDA, which was the ex Danish merchant ship SS HEINRICH JESSEN 3335grt, and was moored in Trincomalee harbour)

 

15th - The Fleet returned to Trincomalee.

 

(On 15/4/44 the US Tenth Air Force with twelve B 24's flying from India attacked shipping and other targets at Port Blair in the Andaman Islands. This was a diversionary raid made so that should the Japanese sight the Eastern Fleet departing Trincomalee they would believe that the Eastern Fleet were about to attack Port Blair)

 

16th - At Trincomalee where in the morning Admiral Somerville, Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet, hoisted his flag in the QUEEN ELIZABETH.

At 1100 hours the Eastern Fleet which was divided into two forces, Force 69 and 70, sailed from Trincomalee on Operation COCKPIT.

Force 69 comprised the battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH (Flag CinC Eastern Fleet), VALIANT and FS RICHELIEU, light cruisers NEWCASTLE (Flag C4), NIGERIA, CEYLON, HMNZS GAMBIA and HMNLS TROMP, screened by the destroyers PENN, PETARD, ROTHERHAM (D11), RACEHORSE, and HMAS NAPIER (Wearing the broad pennant of Commodore D Eastern Fleet), NEPAL, NIZAM and QUIBERON and HMNLS VAN GALEN.

Force 70 comprised the battle cruiser RENOWN (Flag 2iC Eastern Fleet), the aircraft carriers ILLUSTRIOUS (Flag Rear Admiral Aircraft Carriers Eastern Fleet), USS SARATOGA, the heavy cruiser LONDON, screened by the destroyers HMAS QUILLIAM (D4), QUEENBOROUGH and QUADRANT and the USS CUMMINGS, DUNLAP and FANNING.

Course was set south easterly in an arc to reach the approximate position 4-30N, 94-30E by sunrise on 19/4/44.

 

(Operation COCKPIT was an air strike by FAA and USN aircraft against the harbour installations, oil tanks, shipping, aircraft and facilities at Lho Nga airfield at Sabang on the island of Pulau Weh at the northern tip of Sumatra. The operation was carried out at the request of Admiral King, to put pressure on the Japanese in South-East Asia, while the US Army landings at Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea, Operation RECKLESS, were carried out. The landings took place on 22/4/44)

 

17th and 18th - The Eastern Fleet continued towards the flying off position for Operation COCKPIT. During the approach Fleet exercises were carried out. These included 15" throw off firings by the battleships.

 

19th - At 0530 hours in approximate position 4-30N, 94-30E the ILLUSTRIOUS and SARATOGA commenced flying off the strike force for the attack on Sabang. The strike force comprised 46 bombers, (17 British and 29 American) and 37 fighters (13 British and 24 American).

 

(The strike force arrived over the target at approximately 0620 hours attacking from different directions. The Japanese were caught by surprise and only responded with AA fire after the first bombs had landed. A total of 30 tones of bombs were dropped damaging and/or destroying dockside installations, shipping in the harbour, the power station, wireless station and oil storage tanks. Attacks on Lho Nga airfield damaged or destroyed up to 30 aircraft. One US Hellcat was lost, it crashed into the sea about one mile off Sabang and the pilot was rescued by the submarine TACTICIAN.

The raid was declared a success and Admiral Somerville said that the Japanese Òhad been caught with their kimonos upÓ. The destruction of the oil installations and the damage to shipping made a positive contribution to the stalling of the Japanese offensive in the Arakan)

 

By 0800 hours all aircraft had been recovered and the Fleet set course to return to Trincomalee.

During the retirement the Fleet came under air attack from three Japanese Nakajima B5N (Kate) torpedo bombers. All were shot down by the CAP and/or ships AA fire.

 

20th - The Eastern Fleet continued towards Trincomalee. During the return Fleet exercises were carried out.

 

21st - At 0400 hours the Eastern Fleet commenced to enter Trincomalee harbour.

In the afternoon the CinC Eastern Fleet held a meeting on board the QUEEN ELIZABETH of all the Flag and Commanding Officers that took part in Operation COCKPIT.

 

22nd to 29th - QUEEN ELIZABETH was at Trincomalee.

 

(At 0900/23/4/44 the submarine TACTICIAN arrived at Trincomalee with the pilot of the Hellcat aircraft which had been shot down over Sabang)

 

30th - The destroyers that were in Trincomalee harbour went alongside the battleships so that they could be assisted in fitting the TBS (Talk Between Ships a V H/F Radio Telephone system).

 

(The US Navy had processed the TBS system for some years. The system allowed direct voice communication between all ships within a 10 mile radius. The system had the advantage of immediately being able to contact any ship within range, but the disadvantage was that if too many callers tried to use the system simultaneously chaos ensued)

 

May

 

(The next operation undertaken by the Eastern Fleet was Operation TRANSOM. On 27/4/44 SARATOGA had been recalled to the USA for a refit and Admiral King  CinC US Fleet, suggested that en route back to Australia SARATOGA, supported by the Eastern Fleet might launch an air strike against the port of Surabaya on Java; as a diversion to the campaign in New Guinea, Operation STRAIGHTLINE. Admiral Mountbatten CinC SE Asia Command agreed and Somerville commenced planning the operation)

 

6th – At 1500 hours the Eastern Fleet sailed from Trincomalee on Operation TRANSOM.

TF 65 comprised the battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH (Flag CinC Eastern Fleet), VALIANT and FS RICHELIEU, cruisers NEWCASTLE, NIGERIA and HMNLS TROMP and destroyers PENN, RACEHORSE, ROTHERHAM, HMAS NAPIER, NEPAL, QUIBERON and QUICKMATCH, and HMNLS VAN GALEN.

TF 66 comprised the battlecruiser RENOWN (Flag Vice Admiral 2iC Eastern Fleet), aircraft carriers ILLUSTRIOUS and USS SARATOGA cruisers CEYLON and HMNZS GAMBIA and destroyers HMAS QUILLIAM, QUADRANT, QUEENBOROUGH and USS DUNLAP, CUMMINGS and FANNING.

The Fleet steered south easterly towards Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia.

 

15th – During the morning TF 65 and TF 66 arrived at Exmouth Gulf and commenced refueling from TF 67.

 

(At 1100/30/4/44 Task Force 67, consisting of the oilers RFA EAGLESDALE, ECHODALE, ARNDALE, APPLELEAF, PEARLEAF and the distilling ship RFA BACCHUS, escorted by the heavy cruiser LONDON and SUFFOLK had sailed from Trincomalee Harbour on Operation TRANSOM. Off the Harbour entrance the frigate FINDHORN joined Task Force 67. Course had then been set for Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia. TF 67 had arrived at Exmouth Gulf on 12/5/44)

 

At 1900 hours TF 65 and TF 66 with LONDON and SUFFOLK attached, sailed from Exmouth Gulf and steered northerly towards eastern Java.

The cruiser HMAS ADELAIDE was left in Exmouth Gulf to guard the tankers.

 

17th – At 0630 hours in position 9-48S, 113-00E, approximately 180 miles south of Surabaya, the carriers commenced launching the strike aircraft. ILLUSTRIOUS launched 18 Avengers, 2 of which crashed on take off, and 16 Corsairs, SARATOGA launched 12 Avengers and 18 Dauntlasses, one of which returned with engine trouble, and 34 Hellcats.

At 0830 hours the strike force arrived over the target and caught the Japanese by surprise. Ten ships in the harbour were attacked, oil tanks were destroyed, dock facilities destroyed and 14 aircraft were destroyed on the ground. One US plane was lost over the target.

The submarine TALLY-HO was positioned as the rescue vessel but was not required.

At 0930 hours recovery of the strike force commenced. Following which the Fleet set course for Exmouth Gulf.

 

(In the evening Surabaya was attacked by seven B 24's of the US 380th Bombardment Group who flew from Corunna Downs airfield in Western Australia a round trip of 1860 nautical miles)

 

18th – At 1800 hours in approximate position 18S, 113E the Eastern Fleet changed into line ahead and they manned ship following which SARATOGA, DUNLAP, CUMMINGS and FANNING sailed down the line and then with QUIBERON they detached for Freemantle.

The eastern Fleet then proceeded to Exmouth Gulf.

 

19th – At 0600 hours the Eastern Fleet arrived at Exmouth Gulf and commenced refuelling.

At 1600 hours the Eastern Fleet sailed from Exmouth Gulf and set course for Trincomalee.

 

27th – At 1500 hours the Eastern Fleet arrived back at Trincomalee. Fuel remaining on return was less than 20%.

 

June

 

At Trincomalee.

 

July

 

(The next operation that QUEEN ELIZABETH took part in was Operation CRIMSON. This was an air strike and bombardment of the harbour and oil installations of Sabang. Admiral Somerville wanted to make use of his three capital ships, also it was to be the last time he was to lead a Fleet to sea for he was to shortly hand over command to Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser; and he was to take up the post of Head of the Admiralty delegation in Washington)

 

22nd – At 1600 hours TF 62 comprising the battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH (Flag CinC Eastern Fleet), VALIANT and  FS RICHELIEU, battlecruiser RENOWN (Flag 2iC Eastern Fleet), aircraft carriers ILLUSTRIOUS and VICTORIOUS, heavy cruiser CUMBERLAND, light cruisers CEYLON, KEYNA, NIGERIA, PHOEBE, HMNZS GAMBIA and HMNLS TROMP and destroyers QUALITY, RACEHORSE, RAIDER, RAPID, RELENTLESS (Wearing the broad pennant of Commodore D Eastern Fleet), ROTHERHAM, ROCKET, ROEBUCK and HMAS QUICKMATCH,  sailed from Trincomalee on Operation CRIMSON.

(HM Submarines TANTALUS and TEMPLAR were deployed off Sabang for air sea rescue)

 

25th – At 0300 hours in approximate position 6N, 94-10E TF 60 divided into:

The bombardment group comprising QUEEN ELIZABETH, VALIANT, RENOWN, RICHELIEU, CUMBERLAND, CEYLON, KEYNA, NIGERIA, GAMBIA, TROMP and destroyers QUALITY, QUICKMATCH, RACEHORSE, RAPID, RELENTLESS, ROTHERHAM and ROCKET.

The air group comprising ILLUSTRIOUS, VICTORIOUS, PHOEBE and destroyers RAIDER and ROEBUCK.

The bombardment group steered for position 6N, 95-30E.

The air group steered for position 5-25N, 94-42E.

At 0535 hours in position 5-25N, 94-42E ILLUSTRIOUS commenced launching her aircraft. Followed shortly afterwards by VICTORIOUS.  The strike force launched was 50 Corsairs and 9 Barracudas, 8 of the Corsairs were to act as spotters, reporting fall of shot for the capital ships. To assist in spotting each of the four capital ships fired shells that burst with a different colour.

At 0630 hours in position 6N, 95-30E the bombardment group opened fire.

At 0650 hours fire was checked, during the 20 minutes the four capital ships fired 294 rounds of 15".

At 0700 hours the TROMP lead the destroyers into the bay to attack targets of opportunity.

At 0730 hours ILLUSTRIOUS and VICTORIOUS recovered their strike aircraft.

At 1000 hours the two groups RVed and course was set for Trincomalee.

During the return the fleet was twice attacked by Japanese aircraft, none of the attackers got passed the CAP and of the 12 attackers 5 were shot down.

 

27th – At 1330 hours TF 62 arrived back at Trincomalee.

 

28th to 31st - QUEEN ELIZABETH was at Trincomalee.

 

August

 

1st to 6th - QUEEN ELIZABETH was at Trincomalee.

 

(The next operation that QUEEN ELIZABETH took part in was Operation BOOMERANG. This operation was part of Operation MATTERHORN which had originated from the SEXTANT Conference that took place in Cairo in two phases, the first one from 23 to 26 November 1943, the second phase from 3 to 7 December 1943. The SEXTANT Conference addressed the future of the war against Japan. One the decisions reached concerned the use of American B 29 bombers against Japanese strategic targets. Initially the B 29's were to be based in China from where they would strike against targets in the Japanese home islands and South East Asia. The oil production facilities in the Dutch East Indies were given high priority.

Operation BOOMERANG involved USAAF B 29's flying from their base at Chengtu, China, staging through Ceylon and attacking the oil refineries at Palembang on Sumatra. This would be the longest B 29 mission to date.

The RAF were to provide refueling facilities at China Bay airfield and the Royal Navy were to provide a submarine beacon and rescue ships in the event of the B 29's running out of fuel and/or ditching as a result of enemy action. The USAAF was expecting a high level of loses)

 

7th - At 0900 hours the QUEEN ELIZEBETH, light cruisers CEYLON and KENYA and the destroyers ROTHERHAM, RACEHORSE, RAPID, RELENTLESS and ROCKET sailed from Trincomalee and set course south easterly. 

 

10th - In the evening the force arrived in approximate position 2S, 98E where they commenced patrolling to await the B 29's bomber stream.

 

(On the afternoon of 9/8/44, 56 B-29's of the 58th Bombardment Wing landed on China Bay's 7,200-foot strip and wheeled onto allotted hardstands, directed in without radio and without an error by a control team recruited from USAAF XX Bomber Command. At 1645/10/8/44 the first aircraft took off and within 84 minutes 54 B-29's were airborne with only one washout, a remarkable bit of flying on a strange and crowded field. Forty minutes later Capt. I. V. Matthews B 29 returned with a leaky engine, got patched up, and was again winging for Sumatra within a couple of hours.

The bombers, proceeding individually, flew a straight track to Siberoet Island [where since 1200/10/8/44 the submarine TERRAPIN had been station in position 01-58S, 99-26E to act as a beacon] they then turned eastward across Sumatra. A dozen planes failed, for various reasons, to reach a target, but two bombed Pangkalan Brandan, one an airfield at Djambi, and thirty-nine reached their target. Palembang had no lights and was overcast, and the one B-29 equipped with flares miscarried, but thirty-one planes bombed either by radar or visually through patch clouds. Crewmen later reported having seen explosions and fires through breaks in the clouds, but their fleeting observations were none too precise and the strike photos were too poor to be of much service. Eight aircraft found clear weather over the Moesi River by dropping under the 1,000-foot cloud ceiling and laid 16 mines in a good pattern. The B-29's met AA fire in various places and for the first time, ground-to-air rockets. Crews reported seeing 37 enemy planes, some of which followed them back for 350 miles, but no B 29's were hit during the raid. One B 29 ditched through lack of fuel 90 miles from Trincomalee, the crew were rescued)

 

14th - the QUEEN ELIZEBETH, light cruisers CEYLON and KENYA and the destroyers ROTHERHAM, RACEHORSE, RAPID, RELENTLESS and ROCKET arrived back at Trincomalee.

 

15th to 31st - QUEEN ELIZABETH was at Trincomalee.

 

September

 

1st to 23rd - QUEEN ELIZABETH was at Trincomalee.

 

24th - QUEEN ELIZABETH sailed from Trincomalee for Durban for a refit.

 

October

 

5th - QUEEN ELIZABETH arrived at Durban.

 

6th - QUEEN ELIZABETH was taken in hand for a refit.

 

7th to 31st - QUEEN ELIZABETH under going refit.

 

November

 

1st to 16th - QUEEN ELIZABETH under going refit.

 

17th - Carried out post refit trials when work completed

 

22nd - QUEEN ELIZABETH sailed from Durban for Trincomalee.

 

December

 

2nd - QUEEN ELIZABETH arrived at Trincomalee. On arrival at Trincomalee she became the flagship of the 3rd Battle Squadron, flying the flag of Rear Admiral Harold Thomas Coulthard Walker.

 

3rd - Commenced working up exercises which continued for the remainder of the month.

 

12th - Rear Admiral Harold Thomas Coulthard Walker was promoted to Vice Admiral.

 

 

1945

 

January

 

1st to 17th - QUEEN ELIZABETH was at Trincomalee continuing her working up exercises.

 

(The next operation that the QUEEN ELIZABETH took part in was Operation MATADOR; this was the amphibious assault of Ramree Island off the coast of Burma. The objective of MATADOR was to secure the port of Kyaukpyu and the near by airfield. Ramree was particularly important, for the island being flat provided an excellent site for airfields. The port was required for trans-shipping supplies to aircraft that were to use the airfields to keep supplying the allied advance on Rangoon. QUEEN ELIZABETH was not included in the initial plan; however air reconnaissance carried out on 14/1/45 showed Japanese forces were busily sighting guns to sweep the intended landing beaches on Ramree Island. Following this information the QUEEN ELIZABETH was included in the bombardment force)

 

18th - QUEEN ELIZABETH (Flag Vice Admiral Commanding Third Battle Squadron), the escort carrier AMEER, with 804 Sqd of 24 Hellcat II's embarked, for air spotting and ground strafing, and the destroyers PATHFINDER, RAIDER and HMAS NORMAN.

 

20th - At 1730 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH, AMEER and the destroyers PATHFINDER, RAIDER and HMAS NORMAN arrived off Ramree Island.

 

21st - In the early hours of the morning the screening of the QUEEN ELIZABETH was taken over by the sloop REDPOLE and the frigate SPEY. These ships had sailed from Vizagapatam on 18/1/45.

At 0830 hours Force W comprising the QUEEN ELIZABETH and the light cruiser PHOEBE commenced the bombardment of Japanese positions on Ramree Island. The Hellcats of 804 Sqd provided a CAP over the bombardment force and also spotted fall of shot. This was the first time since the QUEEN ELIZABETH had bombarded the Dardanelles Forts in 1915 that she had fired her main armament in anger. Because the Island was so flat the battleship had to fire from below the horizon so that her shells could be effective and they did do considerable damage to the rock cave strong points and created despondency amongst the Japanese forces.

At 0930 hours the bombardment was checked.

 

(At 0942 hours the first troops of the Lincolnshire Regiment and Punjab regiment of the 71sh Indian Infantry Brigade of the 26th Indian Division, who had disembarked from the troopship SS NEVASSA 9213grt, landed on Ramree Island. The assault was covered by the guns of the Navy, Hellcats of 804 Sqd and RAF B24 Liberators and P 47 Thunderbolts [US aircraft on loan to the RAF] of 224 Group flying from India. It took some time for the Army to clear Ramree of the 1000 Japanese defenders and it was not until the 22/2/45 that the Island was declared secure. The target for the port of Kyaukpyu was 1200 tons/day, this was exceeded when on 3/4/45 2406 tons was off-loaded. The Island became fully operational on 16/4/45when RAF Squadrons 31 and 117equiped with C 47's moved to the airstrip..

In early 1945, the Allied transport squadrons were carrying 90 % of the supplies being provided for Allied ground forces of 300,000 men in Burma, so the port and airfields were vital.

On 26/1/45 Operation SANKEY took place, this was the landing on Cheduba Island, which is to the south of Ramree Island. The landing was carried out by 500 Royal Marines of Force Wellington; Force Wellington comprised marines from ships of the Eastern Fleet including QUEEN ELIZABETH. The landing which was unopposed was covered by RN Force 65, comprising the light cruisers NEWCASTLE [Flag CS 5], NIGERIA, KENYA and the destroyers NEPAL [Flag CinC Eastern Fleet], NORMAN, PATHFINDER, PALADIN and RAPID)

 

In the afternoon the QUEEN ELIZABETH escorted by the destroyer HMAS NAPIER and the sloop REDPOLE departed the area to return to Trincomalee.

 

24th - At 1200 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH, NAPIER and REDPOLE arrived at Trincomalee.

 

25th to 31st - QUEEN ELIZABETH was at Trincomalee.

 

February and March

 

QUEEN ELIZABETH was at Trincomalee.

 

April

 

1st to 7th - QUEEN ELIZABETH was at Trincomalee.

 

(The next operation that the QUEEN ELIZABETH took part in was Operation SUNFISH. Operation SUNFISH was a photographic reconnaissance mission and anti-shipping sweep. Photographic reconnaissance had become an important task for the Eastern Fleet as the Allies advanced down the coast of Burma and prepared to invade Malaya. The intention was to sail to the approximate position 6-30N, 98E, arriving on 12/4/45 and then to launch aircraft to carry out a photographic reconnaissance of Padang)

 

8th - At 0900 hours Force 63, comprising the battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH (Flag BS 3), FS RICHELIEU, escort carriers EMPEROR (Flag CS 5) with 800 Sqd Hellcat 11's and 888 Sqd of 6 Hellcat 11's PR. embarked and KHEDIVE with 808 Sqd Hellcat 11's and 845 Sqd Avenger 1's embarked, heavy cruisers LONDON and CUMBERLAND and the destroyers SAUMAREZ (D 26), VENUS, VERULAM, VIGILANT and VIRAGO sailed from Trincomalee and set course for the west coast of Sumatra.

En route the catapult on EMPEROR broke down, necessitating the postponement of the photographic reconnaissance for two days.

 

(Because of the postponement of the photographic reconnaissance the operation was re-cast to first include a bombardment of Sabang)

 

11th - At approximately 0200 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH, RICHELIEU, LONDON and the destroyers SAUMAREZ, VERULAM and VIGILANT detached and steered easterly to bombardment positions.

At approximately 0400 hours the destroyers SAUMAREZ, VERULAM and VIGILANT detached and steered for the Bengalen Strait for their bombardment of the port of Oeleelheue.

At approximately 0630 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH, RICHELIEU and LONDON arrived in position approximate position 6N, 95-30E and commenced their bombardment of Sabang, Hellcats of 808 Sqd provided a CAP and target spotting.

At approximately 0830 hours as the QUEEN ELIZABETH, RICHELIEU and LONDON were withdrawing to rejoin the carriers they were attacked by about 10 Nakajima Ki-43 [Oscar] fighters. No damaged was caused to the bombardment force and the CAP shot down two of the attackers.

At approximately 1300 hours all units of Force 63 re-joined and course was set southerly to RV with Force 70, the refueling force.

In the afternoon Force 63 was located by a Mitsubishi Ki-46 reconnaissance aircraft which was shot down by the CAP.

 

12th - Force 63 RVed with Force 70, which comprised the oiler RFA EASEDALE escorted by the frigate LOSSIE.

After refueling the LONDON detached for Simonstown and Force 63 steered for a position west of Padang.

 

14th - In the morning Force 63 arrived at a position approximately 150 miles west of Padang. Following which they cruised in this position during the day.

Photographic reconnaissance flights were then flown over the west coast of Malaya in the area of Port Swettenham and in the vicinity of Padang.

Japanese aircraft carried out several high level attacks without any success.

 

15th - Force 63 continued cruising in a position approximately 150 miles west of Padang.

Photographic reconnaissance flights were then flown over the west coast of Malaya in the area of Port Swettenham and in the vicinity of Padang.

An air strike was carried out on the port of Emmahaven where a 4000 grt merchant ship was strafed and damaged.

Japanese aircraft carried out several high level attacks without any success and one Oscar was shot down.

 

16th - At 0530 hours Force 63 set course to return to Trincomalee. At the time the destroyers VENUS and VIRAGO were detached to carry out a sweep between the outlying islands and the mainland, from Ayer Bangis Bay to Natal Road. Six junks were sunk.

 

17th - At 0900 hours the destroyers VENUS and VIRAGO rejoined Force 63.

 

20th - Force 63 arrived back at Trincomalee.

 

21st to 26th - QUEEN ELIZABETH was at Trincomalee.

 

(The next operation that the QUEEN ELIZABETH took part in was Operation BISHOP; this operation was part of Operation DRACULA. Operation DRACULA was the amphibious assault on Rangoon that commenced on 1/5/45. Operation BISHOP involved the Eastern Fleet in suppressing Japanese forces in the Andaman Islands prior to the invasion convoys approaching the Irrawaddy delta. Between the 27th and 30th April six convoys carrying Lieutenant General Sir Philip Christison's Indian XV Corps and Major General Henry Chambers' Indian 26th Division sailed from Akyab and Ramree islands. The close escort for the invasion force was Force W. On the eve of the amphibious assault the force were too proceeded to their covering position for operation DRACULA in the North Andaman Sea. This was to be in position to intercept any heavy Japanese naval units that might sail north from Singapore to attack the amphibious assault forces)

 

27th - At approximately 1500 hours the Eastern Fleet, divided into two forces, Force 63 consisting of the battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH (Flag Vice Admiral H.C.T. Walker BS 3) and FS RICHELIEU, heavy cruisers CUMBERLAND (CS 5) and SUFFOLK, light cruisers CEYLON and HMNLS TROMP, escort carriers EMPRESS with 20 Hellcats of 804 Sqd embarked and SHAH with 19 Avengers of 851 Sqd and 4 Hellcats of 804 Sqd embarked and the destroyers ROTHERHAM (D 11), TARTAR (D 10), VERULAM, NUBIAN and PENN; sailed from Trincomalee and following the landing on the carriers air component, set course north easterly for 11 Degree Channel in the Andaman Islands.

 

29th - At approximately 0630 hours, in approximate position 11N, 89E, about 200 miles west of Car Nicobar the short endurance ships commenced refueling from Force 69. Force 69 comprised the oiler RFA OLWEN escorted by the destroyer PALADIN. The refueling took most of the daylight hours and was not completed until 1800 hours.

Force 69 then returned to Trincomalee.

At 2130 hours Force 62 detached and headed south easterly for Car Nicobar Island, to carry out a dawn air strike on the airstrip.

 

30th - At 0500 hours Force 63 passed through the 11 Degree Channel into the Andaman Sea.

At 0800 hours Force 63 was in approximate position 11-30N, 93E from which position the battleships and cruisers of Force 63 commenced a bombardment of Port Blair and the near by airstrip.

Later in the day aircraft from Force 62 carried out a strike against the Port Blair airfield.

By 1200 hours Force 63 had completed its missions for the day so the Force anchored off possibly, Havelock Island on the eastern side of the Andaman Islands.

At 2300 hours Force 63 sailed for Car Nicobar Island.

 

May

 

(At 0633/1/5/45, the assault phase of Operation DRACULA commenced when a composite battalion group of 800 troops from the Indian Army's 50th Independent Parachute Brigade made a combat drop at Elephant Point, about twenty miles south of Rangoon. The drop took place from 38 USAAF C 47's of the 317th and 319th Troop Carrier Squadrons, augmented by 10 aircraft from the 2nd and 4th Combat Cargo Squadrons. Later in the morning the assault on the Elephant Point battery was supported by USAAF B-24's. After the battery had been secured the parachutists dug in around Elephant Point to await relief.

At 0600/2/5/45 the minesweeping force commenced sweeping the Irrawaddy River; to be followed shortly afterwards by troops of the British XV Corps disembarked from landing craft on both banks of the River. This was almost the last day on which beach landings were possible before the heavy swell caused by the monsoon precluded beach landings)

 

1st - At 0800 hours when in approximate position 9-12N, 93E the battleships and cruisers of Force 63 commenced a bombardment of the Car Nicobar airstrip. Force 62 was in the vicinity and at the same time carried out a strike against the same target.

At 1030 hours Force 63 set course north to bombard Port Blair. Force 62 complied with Force 63 movements.

 

2nd - At 0800 hours when in approximate position 11-30N, 93E the battleships and cruisers of Force 63 commenced a bombardment of Port Blair and the near by airstrip. Force 62 was in the vicinity and at the same time carried out a strike against the same target.

At 1000 hours Force 63 moved away from the bombardment position and set course east. Force 62 complied with Force 63 movements.

At 1100 hours the two Forces commenced refueling at sea.

At 1500 hours the Force divided into Force 64 comprising QUEEN ELIZABETH, SUFFOLK, CEYLON, TROMP, TARTAR and PENN; and Force 68 comprising RICHELIEU, CUMBERLAND, EMPRESS, SHAH, ROTHERHAM, VERULAM and NUBIAN.

Force 64 sailed east into the middle of the Andaman Sea to form a blocking force should Japanese naval forces from Singapore try to reach the invasion area at the mouth of the Irrawaddy River.

Force 68 steered south easterly to strike against targets at Victoria Point and the coastal area to the north of Victoria Point.

 

3rd - Force 64 remained within its patrol area in the Andaman Sea.

 

4th - Force 64 remained within its patrol area in the Andaman Sea and refueled the destroyers.

 

5th - Force 64 and 68 rejoined east of Smith Island and carried out a bombardment and air strike against Port Blair.

 

(On 11/5/45 four RAF Liberator GR VI, H, L, U & Y  of 354 Sqd were detached to RAF Kankesanturi, northern Ceylon, to co-operate with the Eastern Fleet on anti-shipping sweeps of  the Malacca Strait and south Andaman Sea. At Kankesanturi they joined the Liberator GR VI's of 203 Sqd who had been on station since 1/3/45)

 

6th - Force 64 sailed north and in the afternoon the QUEEN ELIZABETH carried out a bombardment of a 6 inch gun position on Kwantung Point, Stewart Sound on the afternoon, four 15" rounds were fired and four hits were observed on the gun pit.

At approximately 1700 hours Force 64 set course south to return to Trincomalee.

 

7th - Force 64 on passage to Trincomalee. Force 68 carried out a further air strike on Car Nicobar then set course for Trincomalee.

 

8th - Force 64 on passage to Trincomalee.

 

9th - In the early hours of the morning Force 64 arrived back at Trincomalee. Following their arrival back at Trincomalee the crews were able to celebrate VE day.

 

(At 2000 hours all warships at Trincomalee were ordered to raise steam for 16 knots for leaving harbour at 0600/10/5/45. The reason for this was a signal transmitted by the submarine STATESMAN, but not received, followed later by a signal from the submarine SUBTLE, two of three submarines, SCYTHIAN was the other one, on patrol in the Malacca Straits. At 1800 hours SUBTLE reported a NACHI class cruiser [it was in fact the HAGURO] escorted by a destroyer [the KAMIKAZE] and two other escorts, [submarine chasers] steering 315¼ at 17 knots.

From the end of 1942 Allied cryptanalysts had been reading Japanese codes with increasing confidence such that by 1944 most Japanese codes were being read in 'real time'. But before coded messages can be broken they have to be intercepted and the interception was carried out by the Y service.

The RN Y service in the Far East had originally operated from Singapore, before the fall of Singapore they were then evacuated to Colombo, arriving mid January 1942. In January 1943 some of the naval staff moved to its new headquarters in the Anderson Golf Club house, just outside Colombo, this 'stone frigate' was named HMS ANDERSON. In May 1945 located at ANDERSON was not only the Y service but also the code breakers so the Eastern Fleet received a first class intelligence service. SIGINT made ANDERSON aware, that the Japanese Navy operating out of Singapore were going to carry out a transport operation to re-supply the Andaman Islands garrison. The Intelligence on the re-supply mission was correct but what was not known at the time was that the Japanese intention was to evacuate the island.  This was why the three submarines were stationed in positions to intercept the vessels carrying out the re-supply)

 

10th - At 0600 hours Force 61, comprising the battleships QUEEN ELIZABETH (Flag Vice Admiral H.T.C. Walker, BS3) and FS RICHELIEU, heavy cruiser CUMBERLAND (Flag CS5), light cruisers ROYALIST (Flag AC21) and HMNLS TROMP, escort carriers HUNTER, KHEDIVE, SHAH and EMPEROR who formed the 21st Aircraft Carrier Squadron and the destroyers SAUMAREZ (D26), VENUS, VIGILANT, VIRAGO, ROTHERHAM (D 11), TARTAR (D10) and NUBIAN sailed from Trincomalee on Operation DUKEDOM and set course for the 10¼ channel. The destroyer VERULAM was delayed by defects and joined the force at sea.

 

(Operation DUKEDOM was designated an anti-shipping sweep but was in fact an operation to catch and destroy the Japanese heavy cruiser HAGURO)

 

11th - Force 61 was proceeding towards the 10¼ channel.

At 0500 hours the SHAH had to slow down due to what was believed to be fuel contamination, NUBIAN was detailed to stand by her.

Later in the morning further difficulties arose due to the lack of wind which required the carriers to constantly change course to operate their aircraft. All these manoeuvres had slowed Force 61 speed of advance meaning they would miss the HAGURO who intelligence estimated would be arriving at Port Blair at 1230/12/5/45.

 

(The slow progress towards the 10¼ Channel caused Vice Admiral Walker to re-think his tactics. So he decided to turn southerly and steer for the 6¼ Channel in the hope that he would catch the HAGURO on the return journey. But around the time Force 61 turned southerly they were sighted and reported by a Japanese reconnaissance aircraft. This aircraft was picked up on QUEEN ELIZABETH's radar but 807 Sqd Seafire CAP failed to intercept. However, ULTRA reports made Walker aware that his force had been reported. Walker then decided that he would keep his Force together for the remainder of the daylight hours, then at dusk he would detach a fast group ahead to 'spring the trap'.

However there would be no 'trap to spring'; the sighting report was received by the HAGURO around 1600/11/5/43 when in approximate position 7-30N, 96E and on receipt she reversed course)

 

At 1230 hours when in approximate position 9-30N, 88E Force 61 turned on to a south easterly course heading for the 6¼ Channel.

By 1430 hours Vice Admiral Walker had decided that the SHAH, whose accelerator had now failed, meaning she could not launch a fully loaded Avenger, should attempt to fly off her Avengers.

 

(By 1430 hours Vice Admiral Walker had decided that the SHAH, whose catapult had now failed, meaning she could not launch a fully loaded Avenger, should attempt to fly off her Avengers. Walker needed the Avengers that were embarked on SHAH, as these were the only dive bomber force available to his Force. So 851 Sqd Avengers were cross decked from the SHAH to EMPEROR and eight Hellcats of 800 Sqd were cross decked from the EMPEROR to SHAH. This arrangement was less than ideal as the EMPEROR was not equipped to service and arm Avengers)

 

By 1600 hours the transfers were complete and Force 61 resumed their south easterly course.

At approximately 1800 hours, Group 3 comprising the RICHELIEU, CUMBERLAND and the destroyers SAUMAREZ (D26), VENUS, VIGILANT, VIRAGO and  VERULAM were detached and ordered to steer for the 6¼ channel at a speed of advance that would that would place them in a position to attack the HAGURO on her return.

 

12th - Force 61 and Group 3 were proceeding independently towards the 6¼ Channel.

 

(At 0610 hours the SUBTLE again sighted the HAGURO, this time she was steaming at 25 knots on a mean course of 135¡ and zig-zagging. Above her were three Aichi El 3A1 [Jake] float planes. Despite the problems and danger, by 0705 hours SUBTLE was within 2,500 yards of HAGURO and fired six torpedoes at her; but due the alertness of her lookouts HAGURO was able to avoid all six torpedoes. SUBTLE was then D/Ced for three hours during which her W/T was put out of action. The STATESMAN had also seen the HAGURO and was setting up an attack when the HAGURO turned away to avoid SUBTLE's torpedoes. STATESMAN was unable to immediately send a sighting report due to battery problems.

At 1400 hours Walker received intelligence derived from ULTRA that the HAGURO had reversed course and was heading back to Singapore. The ULTRA intelligence was later confirmed by a signal from the submarine STATESMAN which Walker received at around 1500 hours)

 

At 1500 hours Walker ordered Group 3 to rejoin Force 61. Group 3 rejoined Force 61 in the evening.

 

13th - At 0600 hours in approximate position 4N, 92-30E, the destroyers of Force 61 commenced refueling from the escort carriers. This operation took most of the day.

 

(Walker received intelligence derived from ULTRA that the Japanese were planning Kamikaze attacks on his force. At this stage of the war against Japan the Kamikaze had become the main weapon of attack. Walker therefore decided on a preemptive strike against Car Nicobar airfield)

 

At 1130 hours the EMPEROR a strike force of four Hellcats was launched from the EMPEROR to carry out a low level strafing attack on Car Nicobar. One of the Hellcats had to abort the mission and was escorted back to EMPEROR by another one of the strike force. The remaining two Hellcats carried out a successful strike destroying at least one aircraft on the ground.

 

(Vice Admiral Walker was of the opinion, probably based on intelligence from Colombo, that the HAGURO would make another attempt at reaching Port Blair. So he requested that all available ships be sailed from Trincomalee to join his flag. These vessels formed Force 62 and comprised the light cruiser NIGERIA and the destroyers ROEBUCK, RACEHORSE and REDOUBT. On 14/5/45 Force 62 was joined by the destroyer ROCKET, who had been escorting a Calcutta to Freemantle troop convoy WO 5)

 

At 1215 hours the QUEEN ELIZABETH picked up a 'bogey' on her radar, which was also picked up by other units of the Force.

At 1230 hours four Hellcats were flown off EMPEROR to intercept the 'bogey'. This was the start of a series of mishaps which resulted in the loss through damage of several Hellcats without any interception of the 'bogey' being made.

At 1600 hours the two Hellcats from the Car Nicobar strike were recovered.

In the evening Force 61 steered for the 6¼ Channel.

 

14th - At 0400 hours Force 61 was in approximate position 6-30N, 94-45E and steering east.

By 0515 hours when in approximate position 6-30N, 95-05E and there being no news of the Japanese force Vice Admiral Walker decided to divide his Force.

 

(Walker then instituted Operation MITRE; this was a specific operation to carry out an air and sea sweep of the Malacca Strait and south Andaman Sea for Japanese auxiliary vessels. The operation was to be jointly carried out by vessels of Walker's Force RAF Liberators of 222 Group. But Walker was explicit that MITRE was not to prejudice DUKEDOM, the destruction of the HAGURO)

 

Group 3 comprising the RICHELIEU, CUMBERLAND and the destroyers SAUMAREZ (D26), VENUS, VIGILANT, VIRAGO and VERULAM were detached and ordered to remain in the area. The remainder of the Force lead by the QUEEN ELIZABETH reversed course and steered south west for the refueling area south west of Pulau Bunta and an RV with Force 70.

 

(In the morning Walker received intelligence derived from ULTRA that the Japanese had sailed a heavy cruiser for the Andaman Islands.

Actually intelligence was unaware that the HAGURO (Flag Vice Admiral Hashimoto) and KAMIKAZE had been waiting off the Permatang Sedepa lighthouse, position 2-53N, 100-59E, for news as to whether the British had sighted the Japanese Force Two [Force Two consisted of the KUROSHIYO MARU No 2, 950grt, 13½ knots, ex LST  T 149 and submarine chaser CH- 57 300 tons 21 knots].

Force Two had sailed from Penang for Nancowry Island, where they arrived on 13/5/45. At this time the British were unaware of Force Two.

The failure of the British to detect Force Two encouraged Vice Admiral Hashimoto to make a dash for Port Blair, so the HAGURO and KAMIKAZE were on passage to Port Blair. However, for various reasons, this time Walker didn't get any sighting reports from the submarines stationed in the Malacca Strait)

 

At approximately 1530 hours in position 4-50N, 94-15E, Force 61 commenced refuelling.

 

(In the evening the 'Y' operatives, who were embarked in several ships of Force 61, picked up radio transmissions from Japanese auxiliary vessels originating from an area between the north of Sumatra and the Nicobar Islands. This was the Japanese Force Two who had sailed from Nancowry Island at approximately 1200 hours after embarking 450 troops and was heading for Penang)

 

(At 2158 hours RAF Liberator GR VI, Y/354 took off from RAF Kankesanturi, northern Ceylon, to carry out a parallel track sweep of the South Andaman Sea as part of Operation MITRE

At 2204 hours RAF Liberator GR VI, U/354 took off from RAF Kankesanturi, northern Ceylon, to carry out a parallel track sweep of the South Andaman Sea as part of Operation MITRE)

 

15th - At around 0200 hours Vice Admiral Walker took the decision, based on the SIGINT from the Force 61 'Y' operators, that he would execute Operation MITRE.

At around 0230 hours based on the ULTRA intelligence that Walker had received early on the 14/5/45 he decided to fly off a reconnaissance/strike flight of Avengers, at dawn, to search in the area that he anticipated the HAGURO would have reached by 1000 hours.

At 0237 hours D26, Captain Manley Laurence Power RN, was ordered to detach from Group 3 and proceed ahead with his five destroyers, SAUMAREZ, VENUS, VIGILANT, VIRAGO and VERULAM to locate and destroy the auxiliary vessels.

 

(At 0430 hours three RAF Liberator GR VI's of 203 Sqd, A/203, M/203 & N/203 took off from RAF Kankesanturi, northern Ceylon, to carry out a parallel track sweep of the South Andaman Sea as part of Operation MITRE)

 

(At 0444 hours in position 7-12N, 96-50E, RAF Liberator GR VI, Y/354 from RAF Kankesanturi, one of the aircraft co-operating with Operation MITRE, sighted and reported a Japanese cruiser and destroyer course 90¼, speed 20 knots. The sighting report was not transmitted until 0520 hours.

Y/354 continued to shadow until 0721 hours. During this time the HAGURO was steering easterly so must have sighted the Liberator and had turned away from its objective of Port Blair.

At 0454 hours in position 7N, 97-02E, RAF Liberator GR VI, U/354 from RAF Kankesanturi, one of the aircraft co-operating with Operation MITRE, sighted and reported a Japanese cruiser and destroyer course 115¼, speed 20 knots. A sighting report was immediately made. However this was not the HAGURO it was Force Two en route to Penang. U/354 circled Force Two until 0543 hours when it set course to return to Kankesanturi.

When Walker receivedU/354's sighting report he decided that at dawn he would launch an air strike against Force Two)

 

At around 0530 hours when Walker received the sighting report from Liberator U/354 he had a more specific target location for the Avenger reconnaissance/strike. 

 

(At 0600 hours RAF Liberator GR VI, L/354 took off from RAF Kankesanturi, northern Ceylon, to carry out a parallel track sweep of the South Andaman Sea as part of Operation MITRE)

 

At 0700 hours, in approximate position 4-24N, 93-25E, Force 62 RVed with Force 61. The combined Force then steered in a north easterly to be ready to provide cover to Group 3 should they encounter the HAGURO and KAMIKAZE.

At 0730 hours in approximate position 4-30N, 93-30E, the EMPEROR launched four Avengers of 851 Sqd, these aircraft were 'lodgers' from the SHAH. The aircraft were coded, Able, Baker, Charlie and Dog.

 

(The Avengers were each armed with four 500Lb bomb and their instructions were to fly to a point, designated BB, which was in approximate position 6-20N, 94-35E, then to diverge and fly a search pattern. The pilots had been briefed that on sighting the enemy convoy, Force Two, they were to shadow and report.

At 0937 hours in approximate position 6-44N, 97-34E, Avenger Charlie, piloted by Sub-Lieutenant J. Burns, RNVR,  sighted Japanese Force Two en route to Penang, Burns made an immediate sighting report. Following which he was joined by Avenger Able, which immediately attacked the Japanese force, missing with all four bombs. Burns then attacked, but without success and on his second pass was hit in the engine and was forced to ditch)

 

At 1005 hours the EMPEROR launched a further strike of five Avengers of 851 Sqd. The aircraft were coded Fox, George, Jig, Hotel and King. Avenger Hotel landed back on as soon as the other aircraft had taken off. Avengers Fox, Jig and King were ordered after taking off to remain over Force 61, only Avenger Fox complied with the order. Avengers George, Jig and King continued on their search pattern.

 

(At 1020 hours Avenger, Baker, made a signal giving the position of Japanese Force Two and a fuller account of the attack by Baker. This signal was picked up by VIRAGO

 

(At 1030 hours in poor visibility RAF Liberator GR VI, L/354, also from RAF Kankesanturi, one of the aircraft co-operating with Operation MITRE, was shot down by ground fire and ditched in approximate position 8N, 93E. Showing that the Japanese were still active in the Nicobar Islands)

 

At 1035 hours the VIRAGO passed Avenger Baker's signal to D26.

At 1041 hours D26 received a signal from CinC East Indies, repeated to BS3 and CS5, IMMEDIATE. CANCEL MITRE. REPEAT CANCEL MITRE.

 

(This signal had originated from Rear Admiral Randolph Stewart Gresham Nicholson RN, Flag Officer, Ceylon and Deputy CinC, Eastern Fleet, in Colombo. The signal was the result of a meeting in which all the relevant intelligence was reviewed; including Walker's initiation of Operation MITRE and the detaching of D26. Nicholson thought that the risk of air attack against D26 outweighed any gain that might accrue from sinking the HAGURO

 

(At 1044 hours Avenger George, piloted by 851 Sqd CO, Lieutenant Commander M T Fuller RNVR, sighted and reported the Japanese Force Two. After sending off his sighting report Fuller sighted two further ships about 15 miles ahead of Force Two; these turned out to be the HAGURO and KAMIKAZE. At 1050 hours Avenger, George signalled enemy cruiser and destroyer in position 06-55N, 96-50E, and retiring south eastward)

 

At 1045 hours D26 signalled his flotilla to reduced speed to 15 knots.

At 1056 hours D26 signalled the CinC and Walker requesting confirmation of the cancel order; whilst at the same time continuing to steer easterly.

 

(At around 1100 hours Liberator GR VI, M/203, in position 7-04N, 96-53E, sighted and reported contact with the HAGURO and KAMIKAZE. When M/203's sighting report was received by A/203 and N/203 they both joined M/203, these two aircraft took photographs of the HAGURO before returning to base)

 

At 1200 hours in approximate position 6-12N, 95E, D26 now being in possession of Avenger, George's sighting report, which put his flotilla about 130 miles away; D26 decided to invoke action in accordance with 'Fighting Instructions, Section I, Clause 6'. D26 therefore steered towards the position the Avenger George had signalled for the HAGURO and KAMIKAZE. The race was then on for D26 and his flotilla to bring the HAGURO to action before she could reach a safe port or air cover.

At 1210 hours one of the returning aircraft Avenger, Baker, piloted by Sub Lieutenant Bowden RNVR, ran out of fuel and ditched 30 miles from EMPEROR. At the time of ditching Avenger. Jig was in contact and was able to guide the rescuers to the scene. Avenger Baker's crew was rescued by the Walrus from HUNTER.

By 1220 hours the two remaining Avengers, Able and Dog, had landed back on EMPEROR.

At 1250 hours CS5 was ordered by Vice Admiral Walker to take the CUMBERLAND and RICHELIEU to proceed with dispatch to support D26.

At 1350 hours when in approximate position 6-12N, 95E, following receipt of Avenger, George's sighting report, the EMPEROR launched a strike of three Avengers of 851 Sqd. The aircraft were coded Peter, Queen and Roger and after takeoff they set course for the position of the HAGURO and KAMIKAZE given by Avenger, George.

At 1445 hours Avenger, King landed back on SHAH.

At 1515 hours Avenger, George landed back on EMPEROR.

 

(At 1540 hours Avenger, Peter located and signaled the position of the HAGURO and KAMIKAZE. Avenger, Peter was soon joined by Avengers, Queen and Roger. All three Avengers then carried out a dive bombing attack on the HAGURO without scoring any hits. At 1615 hours all three set course to return to the EMPEROR)

 

The destruction of the HAGURO was now in the hands of D26 and his flotilla, the CUMBERLAND and RICHELIEU trailing in their wake. Force 61 remained in support to the west of Six Degree Channel.

 

(Through the closing hours of 15/5/45 D26 and his flotilla were steering for Penang with the intention of arriving off the Malayan coast before the HAGURO then sweeping back north westwards. The intention to be either drive the HAGURO on to the guns of the RICHELIEU or for D26 to carry out a torpedo attack on the HAGURO.

At 2240 hours when the five destroyers were steering east south east in line abreast at four mile apart; VENUS who was on the port wing detected an echo on her Type 293/M radar on the PPI unit at a range of 68000 yards, the maximum range for this set on a destroyer was about 25000 yards. The echo had been detected by Ordinary Seaman Poole and when he reported the contact to the bridge there was disbelief, however the 'experts' were sent to check and they 'fiddled' with Poole's settings and found nothing. When Poole got his seat back he readjusted the settings and again found the echo. Eventually at 2322 hours the plot became convinced that the echo was ship; so VENUS reported to D26, target bearing 040¼, 23 miles, course 135¼, speed 25 knots.

By 2345 hours D26 had been persuaded that this was their target so he sent of an enemy sighting report. At the same time D26 allocated sectors to his flotilla for a star torpedo attack)

 

16th - Force 61 remained in support to the west of Six Degree Channel.

 

(At 0050 hours when the range had dropped to 17500 yards from the nearest destroyer, the HAGURO suddenly turned to starboard and continued through 180¼ to change her course to northerly and increased speed to 30 knots, the KAMIKAZE followed the flag ship. [According to the senior Japanese survivor, Lieutenant-Commander Isamu Motora, the HAGURO's radar had detected destroyers at 21800 yards, which would have been at about 0044 hours, and lookouts at 19600 yards, but due to the gross negligence of the Officer of the Watch no action had been taken] In the confused MlŽe that followed all the destroyers fired torpedoes at the HAGURO and also engaged the HAGURO and KAMIKAZE with gunfire.

The first torpedoes were fired by the SAUMAREZ at 0113 hours and the last torpedoes were fired by VENUS at 0202 hours and the HAGURO having been hit by six torpedoes, sank at 0206 hours in position 4-49N, 99-42E, this was the Japanese position which was to the south of the British position and proved to be more accurate. The KAMIKAZE escaped to the west, returning later to pick up survivors.

The only British vessel to suffer damage was the SAUMAREZ who was hit by a 5" shell in her No 1 Boiler Room, fortuitously the shell only partially exploded but it killed two and put No 1 boiler out of action.

At 0210 hours D26 and his flotilla formed up and steered north westerly to RV with the CUMBERLAND and RICHELIEU who were about 50 miles away)

 

At around noon in the Six Degree Channel Force 61 was rejoined by Group 3. At this time the Force was under air attack but the attackers were put off by the AA barrage put by the Force particularly the QUEEN ELIZABETH. Force 61 set course south westerly.

Force 61 came under further air attacks during the afternoon and evening, none of which caused any damage, except the final attack of the day when the VIRAGO was near missed by a bomb that showered splinters over her quarter deck, killing four and wounding eight.

 

17th - At 0730 hours Force 61 had reached the approximate position 3N, 90E.

At 0800 hours ROYALIST, KHEDIVE, SHAH and Force 62 comprising NIGERIA and the destroyers ROEBUCK, RACEHORSE, ROCKET and REDOUBT, detached and returned to Trincomalee.

Force 61 now comprising, QUEEN ELIZABETH, RICHELIEU, CUMBERLAND, TROMP, HUNTER, EMPEROR, SAUMAREZ, VENUS, VIGILANT, VIRAGO, ROTHERHAM, TARTAR and NUBIAN remained on patrol in the general area 200 miles south west of Koetarad.Ja, Northern Sumatra.

 

18th - Force 61 were patrolling in the general area 200 miles south west of Koetarad.Ja, Northern Sumatra.

 

19th - At approximately 0900 hours Force 61 set course to return to Trincomalee.

 

21st - At 0630 hours Force 61 arrived back at Trincomalee.

 

22nd to 31st - QUEEN ELIZABETH (Flag Vice Admiral H.T.C. Walker, BS3) was at Trincomalee.

 

June

 

1st to 30th - QUEEN ELIZABETH (Flag Vice Admiral H.T.C. Walker, BS3) was at Trincomalee.

 

July

 

1st to 11th - QUEEN ELIZABETH (Flag Vice Admiral H.T.C. Walker, BS3) was at Trincomalee.

12th - At Trincomalee where Vice Admiral H.C.T. Walker, BS3, transferred his flag to the battleship NELSON.

13th to 16th - At Trincomalee.

17th - Sailed from Trincomalee to return to the UK.

24th - Arrived at Aden.

25th - Sailed from Aden.

26th to 31st - On passage to Alexandria.

 

August

 

1st- QUEEN ELIZABETH arrived at Alexandria.

3rd - Sailed from Alexandria.

9th - Arrived at Gibraltar.

10th - Sailed from Gibraltar.

15th - Arrived at Rosyth and paid off.

 

 

P o s t   W a r   N o t e s

 

HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH was used briefly as an Accommodation Ship at Rosyth after VJ Day and then joined the Home Fleet. She was based at Portland in December and served in Home waters until relieved by HM Battleship HOWE in February 1946 and reduced to Reserve status at Portsmouth during the period March to September. The ship remained in commission with a reduced complement at Portsmouth until being placed on the Disposal List in January 1948. Paid-off on 15th May 1948, she was sold to BISCO for breaking-up by Arnott Young on 19th May that year. Taken in tow to the breaker's yard she arrived at Dalmuir on 22nd June to be de-equipped and the hull was later taken to Troon in Ayrshire for final demolition.

 

S p e c i a l   N o t e

 

The link between this famous battleship and The Baltic Exchange was first established after the adoption in 1942 when a sum of £18,312,000 was raised. Apart from the contacts made with the ship's company during WW2 the association has continued after the ship had been broken-up. The Ship's Bell and a Ship's Crest were obtained and are now kept with the Plaque presented to the Exchange in 1942 to record the result of the WARSHIP WEEK. These items were transferred to the first new building after WW2. When that building was destroyed in an IRA bombing, the Bell was salvaged and is now kept in the new site together with a copy of the original Chronology for public view. This has maintained the strong tie between the members of the Baltic Exchange and the Royal Navy.

  

 


 

Addendum 

CONVOY ESCORT MOVEMENTS of  HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH

by Don Kindell

 

These convoy lists have not been cross-checked with the text above

 

Date convoy sailed

 Joined convoy as escort

 Convoy No.

Left convoy

Date convoy

arrived

 

 

 

 

 

06/05/41

06/05/41

TIGER

12/05/41

12/05/41

 

(Note on Convoys)

 

 

back to Contents List
or Naval-History.Net

revised 5/3/13


 

if any ads offend, please contact Naval-History.Net